return to speed!

This Tuesday was our first official Tuesday Track party/ speed night.

Dan and I recently moved in together (yes, it’s exciting; except the introducing of our cats). One cat was under the bed hissing angrily, as the other purred affectionately (and loudly) in my ear. I got about an hour sleep Monday night. In the morning, Dan and I trudged out of bed, and did a head count of the cats. One was missing, so we called her name several times. We could hear she was responding, but we couldn’t find her. We eventually decided she was in the kitchen, and between two cabinets (ugh, I hate cats for reasons like this. A dog is never like “Gee, a small nook, I want to go there!” …). Still, poor girl- she had gotten the best hiding spot- in between the two corner cabinets. The entrance was about 3 or 4 inches wide, by about 2 inches wide. I could barely squeeze my hand in there. Yet, the tard-cat (she’s sweet really…) had decided I want to be in there!

About an hour later, we had gotten her out. So I was about an hour late to work, and running on little energy

****SKIP TO HERE IF YOU HATE CATS AND CAT STORIES (me too) *****

So track night…

I got to the track a little late, so everyone was warmed up and ready to go, but I had to run around once to loosen my legs up a little. The boys ran together and Sarah and I ran together. It felt like a happy reunion for Sarah legs and my legs (she and I often worked the track together for speed workouts in 2012’s Spring training for Nashville).

It has been a while, so we eased into speed night with 4x400s. A year ago, Sarah and I would aim for 2:00 or more since we were doing a lot of reps at 5K speed. This time, we aimed for 1:50s.

After my legs were a little loose, I met up with Sarah; and we were off. We kept meeting each other’s speed, which meant we were picking up the pace more and more with each stride.
(1:39)
First one done, and we decided 1:45 would be a better goal as we walked the recovery (I’m still coming back. I would otherwise lightly jog the recovery). We prepped for our next one, which felt much easier.
(1:44)
Honestly, it felt much easier than 1:44, and I could have maintained that speed for several more reps. With only two more left, we agreed to ‘maintain’ for the third and go balls to the wall for the last one (to beat the first). Our next felt okay.
(1:41)
And now for the final. Sarah and I had been step for step, but the last one youre always a little on your own (trying to beat the person next you). We did laugh though… The boys were so serious- lining up as if they were racing and then pulling single file. Sarah and I stutter stepped as we lapped our watches, laughing at each other. The straight-away at ~200m, we picked it up, and never let up. I was struggling to keep with Sarah. And in the last straight, I let her have it when she sped up for the final ~50m.
(1:38)

It felt like a good return. I actually haven’t lost too much speed. And my legs are responsive. My problem is in my breathing. My abdominal injury has left my breathing more labored than in the past. Still averaging 1:40 for 400m makes me happy. I still want another PR 5K this fall. It gives me something to strive for; something to train for and concentrate on when training.

HAPPY HUMP DAY (said the camel)

another success

Yesterday was a great Monday! Work was great, though a little on the early side (I had worked 8.5 hours by 3:30pm). As a reward, I wanted to run. But I also wanted to swim. So you know, why not both?

I ran a quick 1-miler around the block. I hit 0.92miles and was at 8:30, so I gunned it the last bit to get a sub-9:00 pace. It was hot, and harder than typical for a run that short. And I used to be able to maintain that for much longer, but I had been active the past few days, so I was happy with that…

And onto my swim…

Then Dan and I packed our bags and headed to the pool for a “few laps”… My goal is just to get comfortable and find my rhythm again. I am getting faster though. I did 10x25m, with 10-second “rest” between reps. Then rested for 2 mins. Then, started a 5x50m, but scrapped that idea at 3x50m; and rested for 2 minutes again (after my run, I was winded, which precludes my abdominal cramping). Then, I hopped back into the pool, planning to do another 10x25m, but deciding I’d see how things went.

And, I got it back. I remembered how to “pull” through the water. I ignored weaker people telling me to bend my arms (haha), and kept straight arms overhead, but bended my arms and pulled myself through the water. This sped me up quickly. I remembered to keep kicking casually while rotating to breathe. Things seemed like they were starting to click. And I kept passing Dan, with minimal extra effort [Just to note, Dan swam straight for 35:00, probably doing about 1.2 miles? So, it’s like a sprinter saying to a marathoner “I can go faster than you!” … It’s stupid, but it felt good]

I finished 750m in 22 minutes, including the 4:00 of rest. It felt great! I actually experienced a little endorphin high. I’m not sure if it was the run + swim + lack of pain that made me feel so good, or knowing I was going to Trophy, or being with Dan, or what, but I basked in the glory of a good Monday afternoon/night.

After our swim, we showered, and headed over to Trophy for a pizza and beer. I have to say- Trophy has the best pizza around! Their veggie pizzas kind of look like a salad on top of a pizza, and are delicious (and guilt-free).  I wanted to try their feature pizza– “fire sauce”, mozzarella, kale, lamb, and roasted bell peppers. Sounded awesome, but Dan wasn’t up for it, and Best Dressed is my fave, so we went with that. It’s a meat lovers paradise– pepperoni, bacon, lamb sausage (makes the pizza), spinach, red onions, with tomato sauce and mozzarella. I plan to grab it for the guys after they move us (since I’m all gimpy and can’t do heavy lifting without major pain).

Oh, you know…

A typical Monday night

Okay, maybe not yet. But hoping it will be my typical Monday.

[And anyone wondering, I tried their American Saison; the “Next Best in Show”… which was a good solid beer]

welcome back Friday

Oh, hey there weekend. Its been too long since we hung out.

The past few weeks have been chaotic. This week was no exception. I worked 9-12 hours per day Mon-Thurs. And I always look forward to Friday– worst case scenario, I work a 8-hour shift; but I never stay late on Fridays. Okay, maybe “never” is harsh, but it’s like a religion, you just don’t do it.

“Welcome back” is two-parts. (1) Is because it feels like it has been far too long since I’ve seen Friday, although I know that is physically improbable, and (2) I went for a “normal run” last night. I realized on Monday night’s intervals, that I haven’t just ran 3 miles (easy pace) in the LONGEST time. Intervals/speed are rewarding for me. I love knowing that I only have to maintain a super-fast pace for 30 seconds to 2-minutes, then I get to rest (walk, jog, whatever I need to do to recover).

So, I ran. No expectations I never have “no expectations”… I was expecting to run a decent 9:30 pace, but knew I’d probably shoot for my normal 9:00, probably push it a little hard, and ruin any plans for the night by getting high on my muscle relaxers. I have a prescription. I swear it’s not a problem…

Instead, I maintained a 10:22 pace for 2 miles in 100-degree weather. Then another 0.5 to round things out on the air conditioned treadmill. Treadmill felt so much better. Outside the air was hot and sticky, and my abdomen cramped, and breathing was labored. Inside it was easy to maintain a 9:30 pace. But that’s besides the point.

I walked back to my apartment, stretching along the way, and popped open a Dos Equis (leftover from a Mexican/taco night Dan and I had a few weeks back). Drinking my beer during my shower (yes, sometimes I do that), I waited for the pain and tightening to set in. It kind of didn’t.

Dan and I went to sushi. I got four rolls for myself (see picture below). Ate all of them, and my stomach hurt from the swelling. But it was delicious.

20130720-175232.jpg

And my Saturday started. This morning began at 630am (What can I say? I get up early now). Dan and I drank our coffee. Then went for a swim. I got some great coaching- bend my arms more and keep my head low, just twisting it slightly. I completed 10x25m laps, then a few more (6?) 50m laps before someone else wanted the lane. Dan did a mile or so., in 30:00 (typical). I wanted to do more but we didn’t have time. But I felt great! I still believe I’m a natural swimmer. I just have to get it back again 🙂

So happy packing Saturday to me now…

sometimes I swim…

Since my injury, I decided I need to do more cross-training. Though I said it passively, I actually mean it. Whenever you are injured, you take a long look at what you have been doing and, more specifically, what you’ve been doing wrong.

Dan goes to the pool every week or two (more often lately). And I’m a little jealous. I am a bit of natural swimmer. I learned how to swim before I learned to talk. No exaggeration! My parents had a swim instructor come to our house since we had a pool, and by the time I was 2, I could successfully tread water and knew the basics.

Growing up, I was a gymnast, but in the summer “off” season, I did swim team as well. I laugh at calling it the “off” season, because I’d spend 8am-12pm on gymnastics (sometimes more, if the coaches would put up with me, until 1pm). Then went home, ate lunch, and went to swim practice from 3pm-6pm, followed by extra swimming/diving/playing on the swingset/etc.

Though I was a decent swimmer, I lacked the serious effort to get faster. I just improved my technique to the point that I could successfully swim a straight line, which in elementary school/ middle school, meant you could place relatively easily. I always had issues with breathing, so the back stroke was my baby.

So, now that you have the picture of my fish roots [That’s just silly; fish don’t have roots! :)], onto my desire to get back into swimming.

Ladies, I think we can all admit- swimmers are hot. They have nice, sculpted shoulders/back/arms… Who doesn‘t want that?

This weekend, I was committed. I went to Omega Sports, and about 20 suits later, found one I really liked. I am not kidding- I tried on about 20 suits. Last time I was in a suit, I was a 26-28. The sizing charts suggested I’d be a 28-32, depending on the brand. Speedos were cut horrible for me (high cut in the neck, but too “skinny”, leaving more side boob action then I’d like…), and Nike’s lacked structure. I found a favorite with the TYR Durafast style. Size 34? Shit! I’ve forgotten already. [Whatever. It worked]

As soon as I got home, I tried it on and stared in the mirror, moving and flexing to make sure everything stayed in place as it should… I tried to imagine how it would move in the water, and it was official- I had to test it out!

Dan texted, saying he was headed to the pool; and I basically begged him to allow me to piggy-back. I was embarrassed to think it had been ~10 years since swimming laps. He also has an extra pair of goggles and some swim caps.
(Yes, I used a swim cap; chlorine is really bad for your hair, especially if it’s dry, long, or fine)

Basically, this is what I looked like (choking on water not shown)

Basically, this is what I looked like (choking on water not shown)

As we were parking, I got so nervous. I really was thinking OMG, what if I forget how to swim? Or I am going to push off the wall, and just when I pop up, inhale water instead of exhaling! Basically, I knew I’d look stupid.

Dan picked our lane (it was a little busy, so we shared a lane). Dan jumped straight in, put on his goggles, and dropped under the water to get wet. Meanwhile, I sat down, and then slid into the water; tried to put on my goggles while treading water (next to impossible… how did I do that as a kid?!), and decided I was annoyed that we were right in front of the lifeguards… They’d probably kick me out for being too slow.

Finally, I kicked off for my first “lap” (25m lanes). In my head, I thought I’d count laps, and then see if I got any faster next time. My goal was 30 minutes. Dan eased through the water, letting his big arms and strong shoulders do all the work. I, on the other hand, rely on good form, and fast flutter kicking to slice me through the water.

My nerves only got worse as I realized HOW THE HELL DO I BREATHE?! I gasped for breathe, forgetting if I prefer left side over right, or if I was able to alternate (breathing every third stroke). Do I breathe in when I’m in the water, or (mouth full of water) nope, that’s not right. Definitely makes more sense to breathe IN when your mouth is in the air, and out through your nose UNDERwater… Okay, now with that figured out, have I been doing this on the right side or left? Okay, left…

And wall. Yep, that was all my thoughts on the first 25 meters. It’s lucky I didn’t drown. I treaded water at the wall, waiting for Dan to come back, and thought I’d keep up 1/2 of what he swims. And I was off again… Trying to get into a rhythm of breathing.

With each 25 meters, it felt easier. But I still had to stop in every 25 or 50 meters. When I was swimming, I was keeping a good strong pace. And I felt better when I looked through the water as Dan was crossing, and noticed he doesn’t really use his legs (Or as he puts it, Yeah, I look like Joe from the Family Guy. Joe is the neighbor in a wheelchair, who is totally jacked but is paralyzed from the waist down, in case you didn’t know that. It’s funny, because that is exactly how it looks. Above the water, just fine). Anyway, don’t let that sound like he can’t swim. He went close to a mile (my guess 1500m) in about 30 minutes– that’s pretty decently fast. And I couldn’t even remember when to breathe; so he wins easily.

So I went 30 minutes, and my best estimate is about 750m.

After about 15-20 minutes, my left arm started to get a little sore. Yep, hadn’t even gone that far; or that fast, or for that long, and my arms were getting sore. That’s how weak my upper body is.

The pool in my neighborhood has a hot tub, so Dan and I are going there this weekend (hot tub after a good swim is the best!). I may try to go a different day this week as well.

I am just excited, because I’ve been steadily increasing my mileage again; running as much as 2-3 miles straight at a decent pace (as fast as 8:22/mile, as slow as 10:00), and feel stronger everyday. Still, swimming is calming, and I love trying new sports! Trying out swimming again is like returning to my childhood with a youthful spirit.

I ran 200s last night, outside. Every time I lace up my shoes to go outside, I get scared. I definitely am suffering from some post-traumatic-injury-stress. It keeps me from going too hard/ too far. I am hoping by the end of August, I’ll be able to run 6 miles on my “long” days, plus swimming, and yoga. This girl is cross-training! It’s much needed, and helps keep things new and interesting 🙂

Happy Tuesday thoughts!!!

silly spontaneous beer date

Saturday night, Dan and I decided to make a night of it. Just for us, and actually go do “something”

So, I curled my hair (shocker!), and got to his place around 5pm. We went to Neomonde for dinner. After munching on a delicious kale salad (and two pieces of baklava), we headed over to Raleigh Brewing Company, to lay low until World War Z started at 7pm.

Raleigh Brewing Company (now we just call it “RBC”) is a great local hang-out. It’s dog-friendly, has great craft beers for $4, and has become one of my favorite spots over the past few weeks. The first time we went, I had the “House of Clay” (Rye IPA), and loved it so much, I had a few more. I also tasted most of the other beers at our table, and they were all delicious.

However, this time; it was busy (fresh off a brewery tour, and all the money was going to a Leukemia Research fund, so a lot of families were hanging around). We had to go outside. We tried to stick out the 90-degree weather; as I began glistening 🙂 Also, I got the City of Blokes, and was satisfied with it.

To make Dan happy, I suggested we go to Mission Valley, which is one of the oldest movie theatres in the area, and pretty run-down, but I was more interested in the “it’s close to RBC”… As we were sitting there, we decided that was stupid, and we’d rather drive to the suburbs than go to a “bad” movie theatre. So we headed to North Hills for a 6:50 showing of World War Z.

It was 6:05pm. We sat around for a few minutes. I got some buncha crunch. It was then 6:15pm. So we decided we had time for a beer at Fox and the Hound. We ordered, and drank fast (I had a Bell’s Two-Hearted and Dan had a Green Man IPA). We giggled, and got back to the theatre by 6:48pm. Perfect! I mean, there’s usually previews, and no one wants to watch those…

We walked into the theatre, and the only seats were in the front row.

cool

We sat down about a foot in front of the screen; basically below the screen, with a straight shot up. So we were staring at an odd angle. And giggling the whole time. Dan decided to go talk to the manager about a rain check. Seriously, I couldn’t read the words coming across the screen quickly enough because I had to move my head and scan from one side of the room to the other. It was crazy.

So, instead of sitting there, we wandered across the street to World of Beer. A lot of my running buddies will meet there on occasion for a run/beer. I expected 100s of beers on tap.

There were maybe 20 on tap. And nothing your typical restaurant or bar wouldn’t have. Actually, I remember a lot of Sierra Nevada and New Belgium. Not an insult, but I could get that anywhere. World of Beer implies various beers, on tap. If I wanted to drink a bottle of some worldly beer… Anyway! After glancing through their bottle list, I decided I was going Californian for the night. And began the night with a Ballast Point Big Eye IPA. It was very smooth. Hoppy, citrusy, with a foam. It absolutely hit the spot. It’s not my first time with Ballast Point, and the Sculpin is one of my favorite IPAs. I thought the Big Eye was a little milder than the Sculpin, but that might be a failing memory… I love their Sextant Oatmeal Stout (I’m not sure where they get the name, but if it’s a good beer; they don’t really have to justify their naming…) All-around, the Big Eye IPA is a great pick any time of the year. Of course, I’m partial to San Diego breweries…

So back to World of Beer (Raleigh style)… We laughed about stupid stuff, and we talked about serious items too. It came time for another beer, and I didn’t know what to get; but decided to go with a Lost Coast. I told Dan to decide while I hit the bathroom, and came back to a surprise beer.

It was fruity. And very light, and crisp. Maybe even a little “fluffy” or “fizzy”. It was the Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat. It was very good. It was definitely fruity. Like, reminded me of a Blue Moon, but higher taste complexity (not too much higher though…) If you want to look like a beer snob, but want to stick with something fruity (as opposed to hoppy), the Lost Colony Tangerine Wheat Beer (and at 5.0%, it’s more mild). I thought it was perfect for a hot summer night in July. A mid-March beer? Nope. Actually, I’d up that to a hell no. But, it was July, so I loved it; and would order it again 🙂

So, before we knew it, it was 9:30pm. I was good and tipsy. And realizing this was going to be an interesting movie-going experience. And warned Dan I may be fast asleep by 11pm (so just after the opening credits). We walked back to the move theatre, and got great seats this time- 30 minutes before the movie started. And the movie itself (World War Z) was pretty good.

Thankfully, we didn’t get kicked out (I was pretty obnoxious, telling Dan what I would do, how I wouldn’t die, etc.)

And then, we went home and we went to bed. It was a good end to a 4-day weekend.

On a running note, I have gotten up to about 2.5 miles per week (woo!), and hope to continue to upward trend, while maintaining some semblance of speed 🙂

Sign up for motivation

I ran a mile Saturday. 8:53.

I ran a mile tonight. 9:12.

That’s more than I ran in May. And it made me think- there are a few things that push my recovery…

1. Writing about them. Knowing I have to ‘report in’ about my running progress makes me stick to it. So thanks to all my followers. And to all my friends, who have asked (with sincere hesitation and grimacing) if I’m running again. Both my running and non-running friends have asked how things are going. The first month was tough, and, honestly, some of the times I was brought to tears in thinking of my response. But they stuck with me, and continued to ask; because they had faith I’d declare ‘I ran 5 miles last week!’ (Still not there yet)

2. My Tuna team Knowing that I have a relay race in October keeps me motivated. It’s a relay, so my teammates are relying on me, and I don’t want to let them down. I am sure they would do just fine without my speed or distance (haha! As if I’ve ever been speedy), but I want to feel like I’m pulling my weight.

So moral of the day? If you lack motivation, sign up for something. Maybe a 5K. Maybe 5 months away. And slowly work up to it.

Happy Wednesday/ pre-fourth-of-July-four-day-weekend — Woo!