Sunday, March 24, 2013

Updating a Swim Workout with a Twist

Congratulations to Angela...winner of my Three Year Blog-iversary giveaway!

Our swim bunch always does workouts on Friday's that focus on 50 yd repeats.  We make changes to the workout each week but you know that if it's Friday then we are swimming 50's.  We even call it Fifties Friday! 

This Friday there were just a couple of us for the workout.  I had been thinking about a twist to our repeats for the last few weeks so I brought it up as an option.  One of our standard workouts is to do a set number of 50's like 4 on a descending time interval.  For example, 4 on the minute, 4 on 55 seconds, 4 on 50 seconds, and 4 on 45 seconds.  My idea was to make the descend but do it a little mixed up. 

In the new version, we would start on one minute, then go to 50 seconds, then back up to 55 seconds, and then down to 45 seconds.  The theory that I had was that by alternating between the ladder I would go into the 45 second set with a little more rest and thus be more successful at achieving the interval. 

The normal swims that we do for each interval is as follows:
1 minute = 50 stroke depending on your ability this could also be swam stroke/free.
55 second = Stroke/free (sometimes I do pull)
50 second = all free
45 second = all free

So our workout looked like this...
Warm up
4 x 50 on 1 minute (stroke/free)
4 x 50 on 50 seconds (free)
4 x 50 on 55 seconds (pull)
4 x 50 on 45 seconds (free)
Cool down

It would have been fun to take the ladder back up by adding on 4 x 50 on 55seconds, 4 x 50 on 50 seconds, 4 x 50 on 1 minute.  But instead we hit up the hot tub! It was a short workout for me since I got to the pool a little later than normal but I was pretty happy to finally stay on the interval for the 45 seconds.  I was touch and go for them but at least I made it.  In the end I think my theory worked out pretty well.  The variety between each mini-set was nice too compared to the straight descend that we normally do. 

I owe my training partners a ton of credit because without them I wouldn't be trying to hit 45 second intervals.  Over the past year, I have made a ton of improvement in my swim times.  Swimming more consistently during the week and swimming with fast friends has made a big difference for me.  If you have the chance...push yourself and try to swim with the faster swimmers.  Maybe sometimes you'll have to take a breather break but maybe sometimes you'll surprise yourself and hit times that you didn't realize that you could. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ready or Not...It's Race Time!

Recently I won a race registration for the race of my choosing.  I have spent the past few days mulling over races and soliciting ideas from friends and family on what race to add to my calendar with the prize. 

Tonight I spent time on some race calendars for the surrounding areas.  I used the Event calendar on the USATriathlon website to view by state and discovered a Sprint Triathlon happening next weekend just 40 miles away.

The weather forecast is a little iffy for an outdoor race....would you believe it snowed in Arkansas today! The weather is calling for morning temps in the 40's and highs in the 50's.  So, it will be a cold race but the swim is indoors so that will improve conditions.  It's just a 300 yd snake swim and my swim has been doing really well lately. 

I haven't ridden my bike outdoors since last Fall.  I have put some time in on the trainer but not as much as I always want to do in the winter.  I've got one week to build up my bike fitness for the 13.5 mile race distance.  It looks like it will be a two loop bike course which should be fun. 

My run has been hit and miss over the last 2 weeks as I have been coming back from an injury in January.  Every so often my foot is still tender and reminds me to be patient in my recovery.  I did 8 miles this weekend so I'm not worried about the distance.  I just haven't run off the bike since July! 

Ready or not Triathlon 2013...Here I Come!

Friday, March 15, 2013

There's a Little Swimmer in Mona Lisa

Tonight I attended the Studio Social art class at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  I have been a member of the museum since it opened and attended various events over the past year and a half.

The Studio Social art series kicked off with a class on collage making.   The museum is so peaceful and it didn't disappoint tonight!

 The inspiration for tonight's session was the contemporary artist Devorah Sperber.  She is best known for using common objects like spools of thread to create art works.  The museum owns several of her pieces including American Gothic and The Last Supper.  Here's a short video introduction to her work.

For our class, we were offered two choices for art inspiration pieces.  Starry Night and The Mona Lisa.  I selected to work with The Mona Lisa for my collage.  We began by creating our pixels or the grid to work from.  I measured my sample artwork piece and then drew a grid over it.  I drew a similar grid onto my collage paper.

We were given lots of choices for elements to work with including yarn, art paper, tissue paper, buttons, rhinestones, and magazines.  I had not realized that the class was going to be a collage around a specific piece of artwork so I had packed some of my training magazines.  I was hoping to create a triathlon inspired collage to provide me with motivation this race season.  I got on board with the new direction though and found that I needed a lot of black to work on Mona Lisa.

September-October 2012 Cover
Wouldn't you know that a copy of Swimmer magazine had almost an entire back cover in the color black.

I ended up using several photos and elements from the Swimmer magazine to incorporate into my collage.  There are some swimmer arms in the collage, a green Nike swimsuit, elements of a Chocolate Milk My After ad, and even the stubbly facial hair of a swimmer in an ad!  There are even some pictures of water in the background.  Bet you didn't know there was a pool in the original painting!  Maybe I took a little creative license with that!
The face wasn't working out and I realized that there was just too much neck.
A minor adjustment and I was back on track. 

Taking the overhead photo above helped me see that the neck was still not working the best so I quickly touched it up.
My finished collage! 

So with this collage I have definitively proven that Mona Lisa had a little Swimmer in her!  I love how Devorah talks about the work that our brains do to fill in the details in her video clip.  In her version of the Mona Lisa with spools of thread, there are no actual elements on the face like the eyes but because we are all so familiar with the painting we see them there.  Pretty cool and the more I see my collage I see a better resemblance to the painting.

This was a fun way to spend a few hours relaxing over art work and creating something.  I look forward to future art classes at the museum.

For those wanting a swim workout, here's one that would earn that cheeky little smile that Mona Lisa loves to give.
Warm up - 500 yds
MS - 5 x 100 yds free on 1:50
6 x 75 yds on 1:30 swim free, stroke, free within each 75.
7 x 50 yds pull on 1:00 for 1st 3 then 55sec for last 4
8 x 25 yds free on :30
Cool down - 100 yds

The times could easily be adjusted up or down as needed.  The number of reps increases for each decrease in distance.  The total is approx. 2100 yds which is perfect for a lunch time swim.  Enjoy!

Don't forget to enter My Three Year Blog-iversary Giveaway!!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Three Year Blog-iversary Giveaway!

Last night I was surprised to realize that I've writing my blog for three years already.  It's hard to believe how fast the time has flown by.  I have covered a wide range of topics from recipes, family fun, masters swimming, triathlon training, and lots of race recaps!

To celebrate my Blog-iversary I am hosting a giveaway where one lucky reader will receive the prize pack described below.  The prizes all have a connection to my blog and the stories that I have shared over the last three years!

Up first is a 12 count Value Pack of reusable containers from Ziploc.  This is a variety pack that contains several great sizes.  I'm including this as a tribute to the amount of variety that I try to bring to you through my blog topics. 

Next up is a copy of the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas' cookbook called Add Another Place Setting.  This is a great cookbook that supports an organization that I have been proud to be a part of for 9 years.  I have shared recipes on the blog a handful of times and one of my most popular posts has been this one with my White Chicken Chili recipe which was originally published in the cookbook. 

A couple times I have shared my love of chocolate milk for refueling after a hard workout.  I even applied for the Become One campaign to train with Hines Ward for the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kona.  While I didn't get selected to train with Hines, I will always be a big fan of chocolate milk!  In honor of that love, I've got an insulated lunch bag to giveaway from 
Balega Enduro 4 No Show Running Sock - Women's
Last up is a pair of my beloved Balega running socks.  I adore Balega socks and won't run in anything but Balega.  The socks are the perfect blend of cushioning and temperature control.  Winner will receive one pair of Balega Enduro 4 No Show in pink size Medium. 

Disclaimer:  This collection of items has been received from various sponsors at events over the past year.  The opinions regarding the products are my own and represent my beliefs. 

To enter... a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bloggy Spring Cleaning

The gals at Arkansas Women Bloggers are hosting a Bloggy Spring Cleaning this March.  As I was reading through some of the first round of tips, I got inspired to work on my blog header.  My header has been out of date for quite some time.  One of the previous pictures included the logo of a former employer and just needed to be a better reflection of me as I am now. 

I took a few minutes to review my pictures and select some that could be good candidates for the header.  Then I headed over to PicMonkey to build a collage.  I utilized the FB Header design options in order to get a collage that was a horizontal rectangle.  I added the pictures into my design choice and played around until I got the layout that I liked. 

Next I added a swatch to the layout of the collage so that I would have someplace to put the words on my header.  I also moved onto the Background tab and made changes to the background color, spacing between elements, and added rounded corners.  That completed my collage so I saved a copy of the picture using one of the best picture quality options. 

Step two was to add the text to the photo.  For this, I chose the edit a photo option and selected the Text tab to add text to the photo.  I ended up using multiple text boxes so that I could play with different fonts and colors within my header text.  There are lots of other editing features that you can play with but all I needed to do was add text for this particular project. 

Here's the comparison of my old header with the new one beneath it.  I updated the color scheme of my background to better match the header.  My next update will be choosing a background that isn't quite as busy.  I've always loved Argyle but I want something a little more understated now. 

What do you think?  I'll gladly take any tips or tricks that you have for keeping your blog site design fresh and fun.  It's hard to believe that I've been blogging for three years already!

If you want more detailed instructions on developing a custom blog header, visit DetroitRunner for this great tutorial.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Taking on a Swim Challenge

Recently I got to thinking about my swim times.  It was after a tough workout and I was feeling a little down because I had barely hung on during the workout.  Sometimes it is hard to not compare yourself to others and so I was trying to think of positive goals for myself and my swim times.

In my head, I decided my goal should be to hit a 1:25 per 100/yd.  Back before the end of the year, I did a workout with Kyla and managed to squeak out a 1:29 at the end of our 100 yd repeats.  I was so proud of that accomplishment and since then I have been doing pretty good at hitting 1:30-1:35 in our workouts.

Today one of our workout partners was running late so Brent and I decided to do some 100's to kickoff the workout.  We didn't set a number for the repeats but thought that 5 would be a good start.  We did the 100's on a 1:50 interval and I was getting around 15-20 sec rest.  At the start of the 4th, Brent decided we should continue and do 10 total 100's.  Yikes!

On each 100, I managed a flip turn at the first turn but after that I was too flustered to flip turn and so I was doing open turns.  I knew that it would save me time to do flip turns but my timing just felt off and the open turns felt more comfortable.  My times were coming in pretty consistently and I decided to keep pushing for a little faster each one.

Finally on the last 100 I managed to get somewhere in the 1:25-6 range.  It was great...and only slightly painful after the 9 previous repeats!  If only I had done flip turns on all 3 of the turns within the 100 my time could have been a little lower.

The recovery time between each repeat was one reason why I stayed so consistent and lowered my time on the last one.  I will keep trying to hit this pace in my workouts and improve my speed over distances.

I ended up with 2000 yds for my lunch workout.  After the 100's we did a easy pace set while our other workout partner got warmed up.  Then it was some 75's on the 1:20.  I only did 4 of the 75's before starting a quick cool down.

My swim total for the year is now at just over 50 miles which puts me at 20% progress on my distance goal for the year.  I think it will be helpful to add some other time goals to work on over the year too.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Glow Run Fun for the Family

On Saturday I took part in a fun race series called the Glow Run in Oklahoma City.  I was planning to visit my sister and her family to celebrate February/March birthdays and this run happened to fall in the same weekend.  My sister quickly signed us up as a team...The Glowing Maniacs. 

My nephew Gavin has started running 5K's in the past year.  He had done 5 so far and this run would be his 6th event.  He just turned 8 in February and is quite the competitive little runner.  He just loves to run and liked it when we all ran the Color Run together.  My other sister has a 5 year old and she is just getting into races but the 5K distance is still a little long for her so she was wheeling it in the race via the Bob stroller!  All together we had a group of six participating. 

Packet pickup was held the day before at a local running store and it was a hot mess.  It was one of the worst packet pick up experiences that I think I have ever been to.  They didn't have a very good system of checking people in and giving out bib numbers.  I waited for about 30 minutes and finally had to cut the line and ask for help since we were going to be late to pick up Gavin from school if we didn't leave then.  I felt awful for cutting the line but just couldn't wait any longer. 

I left packet pickup with our bib numbers, gender specific shirts (loved that ladies got v-necks!), glow necklaces, and glow glasses for all of us.  They also had merchandise for sale including fun LED dreadlocks and mohawks but I passed on that. 

On Saturday, the run was slated to begin at 7PM near the zoo in Oklahoma City.  We left the house in Norman around 6 ready to get our glow on.  We were all decked out in our neon outfits and I had a bag full of glow sticks and goodies for us to accessorize with. 
The Glowing Maniacs! 

We added some LED light up balloons to the stroller and that proved to be a good addition because it helped make it easy to spot in the crowd.  My brother in law Tim also sported the most awesome glow ninja costume.  He was super easy to spot in the crowd! 
We were properly attired to Glow! 

We arrived at the park and it was full of crazy glow runners!  We saw every kind of outfit and everyone was in good spirits and ready to have fun.  The race started a little behind schedule.  We jumped in after the first 1000 people got started and it was crowded.  Gavin held my hand for the first few turns just to make sure that he didn't get separated from us.  It was surprising just how dark the course was even with all the runners in their glow gear.  For most of the race, Gavin and I ran ahead while Tim, Lindsey, Kristen, and Lily Cate in the stroller stuck together.  I had to persuade Gavin every so often to pull aside and wait for the others to catch up.  He just wanted to compete and I had to remind him that we were doing a family event together...not racing. 
Glow Zone

Around the first mile marker, we came up on a glow party zone.  They had tons of blacklights set up and the music was pumping.  Gavin didn't want anything to do with it...luckily there were a couple more and we eventually wore him down so that we could take some pictures. 
Me, Tim, and Lily Cate

Gavin's rocking moves in a Party Zone! 

The course seemed to be more downhill than uphill and we just kept a steady pace.  Around the halfway mark, Lily Cate got out of the stroller and ran for about 1/2 mile with Tim by her side.  He's a good uncle and held her hand the entire time.  I don't know how but she also got him to carry her on his shoulders.  Lindsey, Tim, and Kristen all took turns pushing the stroller which really upped their workout load since a 5 year old is heavy! 
Here's Tim, Lily Cate, and Kristen...but somehow only Tim's costume shows up! 

The finish of the race was down a short, steep hill along the horse track in the park.  We were all surprised by it since we were expecting to finish at the start line.  The finish area was a crowded could barely move once you crossed the line.  There were volunteers on one side passing out water and medals and then on the other side was a DJ dance party zone. 
Finish line celebration! 

We were all surprised to receive a medal especially a glow in the dark medal!  We eventually made our way through the maze of people and then headed out for a celebratory ice cream. 
Lindsey and her ice cream

Overall, I enjoyed the Glow Run experience.  It was a lot of fun to do with my family and we all had a good time.  I would hope to see improvements in packet pickup and the finish area for next year. There are two local glow runs coming up in Northwest Arkansas this spring.  They are locally organized but I'm hoping they will be just as much fun as this one was.