Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How appropriate

"It doesn't get better than this, but you get better. You make choices that define you, make you deeper and broader. " - Ron Suskind

Monday, June 26, 2006

Weather is a scary thing

It's nasty out there. There's been a huge cloud just hanging over the DC area for the past couple of days wreaking havoc on the area. Fortunately I haven't really been affected. I still have power. My commute to work this morning was normal. I didn't forget my umbrella today.

However, the rain did cause me to miss Masters Swimming tonight. The parkway which we take to the pool was flooded, and the only other route would take us about an hour to get there. So we decided to stay inside and stay dry. Good thing too, because ten minutes after eight the thunder and lightning started which means Masters Swimming was canceled anyways. For some reason, even though it is an indoor pool, they shut it down at the hint of thunder. Can anyone shed light on this? Are indoor pools really at risk during thunderstorms? I'm curious.

Luckily after my 3.1 mile run during lunch today I still felt a lot of energy to burn (does this mean my training has been working?). I wanted to keep running but the gym was busy and I got bumped off the treadmills. So I hopped on the bike and rode for an additional 20 minutes. My legs really wanted to go longer, but alas I had to get back to work. Since I missed swimming tonight, I HAVE to swim on Wednesday, despite the exam studying cram that is sure to ensue that evening. Sidenote: I will be so relieved,happy,ready when my summer classes are over. Sigh.

Goal schedule for week:
Monday-run (Done. Ran 3.1 miles, biked an additional 20 minutes)
Tuesday- strength, bike 30 minutes or as time allows (Tuesdays and Thursdays are really busy days because of class)
Wednesday - run 3 miles, swim 1000 yards
Thursday - bike 30 minutes, strength if time allows (see Tuesday)
Friday - Rest (on the road to out of town wedding)
Saturday - Swim or Run or bike depending on hotel ammenities
Sunday - Rest

Additional goals for week:
Eat healthy. Drink lots of water. Don't put off studying until the last minute. Get enough sleep.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Back in the saddle

Back from the bike shop with a new bike, woo-woo! I'm not telling you what I got just yet, you'll have to remain in suspense for just a leeetle big longer. I must have ridden about a dozen different bikes, some hybrids, some road bikes, and some in between. Up and down I rode (yay for being about to try out the bikes!) on the same city streets. I practically became friends with the neighorhood folk, sitting out on their stoop watching me test yet another bike out. Here is the winner:

The 2006 Specialized Sirrus. Yes, it is a hybrid and I am fully aware that I may be laughed at or snuffed by real roadies. But ya know what, this is the bike I felt most comfortable on and enjoyed the most riding. That's what really counts. I tried out several different road bikes and just wasn't feeling it. I'm sure my experience on the road bikes would have been a lot better had I been riding on a street with fewer to zero potholes, no cars going every which way, car doors sporadically opening from nowhere, etc. But in all honesty, I don't envision myself riding any country roads anytime soon. This bike will take me around town and down the bike paths and through multiple races. Also, don't be fooled by the flat handlebars and the word "hybrid". This baby is fast! I hope the weather forecaster's predictions are wrong about tomorrow just as they were about today (no rain, yippee!). I can't wait to take this baby out for a long ride.

I wonder if I should give her or him (gender is not yet known) a name? Any ideas?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More lessons

Swam 500 yards, maybe? I attended the Masters Swim stroke clinic so my swim workout was on technique rather than distance. The stroke clinic has been really helpful on the two occasions I have attended. I am learning all about swimming "downhill" (finding my buoyancy), keeping my left hand out of the right hand's "cookie jar" and vice versa (focus on reaching straight), and this week I learned that I have been breathing wrong all along. I'm a runner (not a very long distance runner, but a runner none the less) so I am used to having continuous breaths: inhale and exhale, etc etc. This is what I have been doing during all my swims as well, a continuous exhale until I take the next inhale. However, as I learned Monday, this isn't good during swimming. When the body exhales, it sinks lower. So when you turn on your side to take a breath, you have to reach your head up which throws your body out of it's straight alignment and causes more drag than necessary. Or something like that. So, the coach told me to time my breath. I have to hold my breath for a little until just before I take an inhale. It was pretty complicated and confusing at the beginning of the lesson, but after a few laps I felt I was starting to get the hang of it. I could definitely tell a difference from my first lap and my last lap (with the latter being better) and I'm excited to practice this new knowledge in my next swim workout.

Tuesday I ran a nice easy 3.5 miles around the National Mall during lunch. The sun was a little overbearing at times, but overall it was great weather and I felt refreshed (though hot) afterwards. I love runs like that.

It's 10 o'clock and I still have a stat assignment and mid-term due tomorrow. Ugh, only six more weeks of summer classes, not that I am counting.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Mammoth (and plea for help!)

Today I met Beth at Memorial Bridge for our 18 mile bike ride. However, it was 4 miles just to bike to the bridge and already I was hot and my tush was sore. We met up on the steps overlooking the Potomac, hydrated, and then set out into Virginia via the Mount Vernon Trail. I had never been on that trail before, a shame since I've lived here for four years! It was really beautiful, and the breeze made the heat a little bearable. After about four miles, I had lost Beth (she was way ahead of me) and my tush needed a break. I rode back to a little park I saw a mile back and sat in the shade waiting for Beth to come back. When she found me a few minutes later, I told her about my tush woes. We decided to trade bikes for a little while. OMG, the difference between her bike and mine was like night and day! Her bike felt like I was sitting on clouds, I could go faster with little effort, and all the gears actually worked! After riding her bike for only five minutes I decided it was too cruel to let her ride mine any longer. We both decided that my bike pretty much sucks for several reasons:

1) It's too damn small for me! I think the frame would be more apt to someone 5'4 (I'm 5'7).
2) The seat. Oh my god how much I hate that seat. It feels like you are sitting on a rock. You can feel every little bump and groove in the me, it doesn't feel good.
3) It's heavy and the tires are really fat. It's a mountain bike. Not a road bike!
4) Only half of the gears work, and they don't shift well.

Ok, I could probably go on but you get the point. I bought the bike used for $25 two years ago so it's not like I am out of money getting rid of the mammoth. That's my nickname for the hunk of metal and rubber, hence the title of this post.

So I need a new bike, but I don't really know where to start. I wonder if I should get a road bike or get a hybrid? I'm such a rookie, all you bikers out there will laugh, but I'm a little intimidated by road bikes. They just look so flimsy and fragile. Also, they're expensive. I have some money to spend, but I'm not looking to break the bank. Can anyone out there give me some suggestions, or even some advice about buying a new bike? My tush and I will thank you!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Oh Little Bumblebee

I couldn't sleep the other night. My mind was racing with thoughts about the triathlon. I was exhausted after my summer graduate courses started during the same time that I had multiple deadlines at work. I began wondering if maybe I wouldn't have time to train for the triathlon. Maybe I hadn't been taking the triathlon as seriously as I should. I mean, I can run a 5k just fine. I do that multiple times a week. But...I've never had to swim, bike, and then run before. How on earth will I be able to find the energy to do all of that with only two and a half months left before the race?

I quickly ran out of bed and pulled out the triathlon training book that had started to develop a thin layer of dust on the jacket. I was trying to find some assurance that in the amount of time I have left I will be able to accomplish my goal. This is what I found:

"The bumblebee should not be able to fly. After a series of analyses and observations, NASA scientists concluded that given the bee's body design and weight, there is simply no way the insect should be able to get off the ground. Thankfully, the scientists didn't tell the bumblebee, which blissfully takes to the air with little regard for humankind's most esteemed aviation experts." -Eric Harr, Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week

Surely if the bumblebee can fly, then I can swim, bike and run the distance. I can finish the remaining 10 classes left for my Masters in only one year while working full-time. I can do all of this and more. All I have to do is believe that I can do it. I was taught this as a kid (haven't we all read "The Little Engine that Could" as young'ns?), but sometimes I still need to be reminded.

The next day I went to the pool, alone without my training partner for the first time. It was early in the afternoon and I had the entire pool to myself for a while. I swam 1200 yards, the farthest I have ever swam, farther than is required for the race. I swam the distance. I had the strength left to swim more but I didn't need to. I knew that I could and that was all I needed.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Running Across America

I've decided to run across America. Ok, not literally. I didn't have anyone fooled, not even for a second, I'm sure. My gym has a new program this month asking members to come together and track how many miles they run or walk. The goal is to make it to San Francisco by July 4th. Right now we are in Pittsburgh (we've got a long way to go). Today I helped by running 3.75 miles. I know that will probably just get us outside of Pittsburgh, but hey, every little bit counts.

Here's a tangent: I've been thinking a lot about Forrest Gump lately. Remember when Forrest just starts running and continues running for a lonnnnng time? I mean, that's just impossible. But wouldn't it be nice? On another tangent, I've been wondering lately, does my 2 x 3-4 miles a week qualify me as a runner?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Swimming with the Masters

Last week I got the bright idea that Beth and I should join a Masters Swim group. Beth agreed and we decided to try a local area's swim workout on Monday. Monday afternoon I started freaking out...what if I can't keep up? what if I completely run into another swimmer (i.e. testing my pool etiquette skills)? what if they make me do the butterfly? Oh me oh my, I cannot do the butterfly!!! I call Beth and tell her my worries and as always she is completely laid back and tells me we are going. If it's really bad we can just leave, she reasons with me.

We arrived at the pool a little early and were able to talk to one of the coordinators of the group. He immediately squashed most of the fears I had about joining the group. He told me if I couldn't do the butterfly, I didn't have to! If I couldn't swim 3000 yards, I didn't have to! What's more, the coach holds two stroke clinics each week. One clinic focuses on freestyle, the other focuses on the other three strokes. So if I decide I want to learn the butterfly later on, I can!

Beth and I decided to check out the freestyle stroke clinic that was being held that night. It would give us an opportunity to get more feedback on our form as well as give us a chance to check out the other swimmers in the group (I was still nervous about swimming with the "masters"). The coach, noticing several new faces that night, decided to start with the basics. He made us do several drills to improve bouyancy in hopes that we would swim more efficiently. It was really helpful! Next week he said he would focus on the stroke. Ya-hoo, I can't wait! It's almost like having a private swim coach, for almost nothing (it costs about 4 bucks for each workout).

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Toddlers and Tots

I am the proud new aunt to a beautiful baby boy. Ryan Anthony was born on Friday, June 2nd at 9:17 in the morning. He's so tiny and cute. Ryan, Mom and Dad are all doing fine. I'll post pictures as soon as I get them.

While he was going down the birth canal, I watched my three year old neice-soon to be big sister- in the hospital waiting room. The hospital had a little courtyard that we immediately took advantage of. We played every game I could think of, from London Bridge to Simon Says, toss in a little Red Light Green Light and top it off with some Duck Duck Goose. That girl has energy! When I was taking a break from all the games she would just run and run in circles, full speed! I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to have that kind of energy now when I am trying to get through my runs.

Saturday morning I got to play with my other neice, Corinne, who is almost two years old. Her mommy was a little under the weather so I took Corinne out running with me in her baby jogger. She loved it!!! While it was a little harder to run while pushing the stroller, I was amazed at how easy it really was. Corinne was also great motivation, she kept giving me high fives just when it seemed my resolve to keep running was wavering. I only did two and a half miles, but I completed what I set out to do. I should have taken a picture of Corinne's hair after we stopped. It was completely windblown!

I hope I am able to complete all my workouts this week. I am starting my summer classes so my Tuesday and Thursday evenings are going to be completely shot. Also, I have so much work to do this week for the real job that I'm just not looking forward to this week AT ALL. Luckily I already made plans with Beth to try out this Masters Swimming team tomorrow night so I know I'll at least get ONE swim workout in. I hope we aren't the slowest on the team! Really, even if we are I just hope we're able to keep up AND learn something too. I really don't know what to expect though so we'll just have to see.