Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pollywog Progress

I hadn't been in the pool for more than 2 weeks because of the busy holiday season, but jumped in today for a swim. My last entry on 12/8 I had reduced my 200m swim from 6:10 to 5:34. I am happy to report that I swam the 200m in 5:09 today - whoop whoop! Still slow, but I am showing improvement and, of course, really enjoying swimming. Next week I will begin focusing on swim drills and I fully expect to report another 30 second drop by late January!

Pulled out the yak trax yesterday and can't wait to use them for a new year's eve run. May you and yours have a safe, happy and healthy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Week in Review

The best way to sum it up is that today all I wanted was some broccoli, or red peppers, even carrots, cauliflower and brussel sprouts would be fantastic. What I didn't want was another cookie, candy or sweet. I definitely didn't want any sodium-rich ham or anything that had potatoes as an ingredient. I just wanted vegetables. I don't know about you, but my body (and my brain) crave the good stuff and I just feel better. Even though I enjoy family gatherings and love the holiday season, I am also excited to get back to my normal routine, including putting together my weekly menu - which will feature (drum roll, please) vegetables!

On the running front, I actually had an enjoyable, albeit cold and windy, 15-mile run on Saturday as well as getting in my traditional Christmas morning run. I even hit the gym Tuesday and reintroduced myself to the rowing machine and started back with squats, situps, tricep dips and pushups. I loved how my body screamed at me the next morning!

Hope your holiday celebrations included good food and wonderful memories with family and friends.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Got In

It's official. I moved from the wait list to the confirmed entrants list for the Run for Regis trail run on January 18, 2010. I'm excited about this no-pressure run. I have the option of completing the half marathon, full marathon, or the 50k. I will let my body determine the distance and just enjoy the camaraderie of trail runners. Who am I kidding...I do have a goal and hope to accomplish it!

The best part will be the yumminess of an IPA draft at Winking Lizard post race! and popcorn...can't forget the popcorn!

Now back to wrapping.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Longest Run...Yet

Today's accomplishment was a cold, slippery, snowy and slushy 15-mile run. It was the longest run I've done since the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon. Puppy entertained me during the first loop of 10 miles before being deposited back in the warm and cozy house, where he almost immediately began what would become a marathon napping session for him! I ran back in the house for a quick bathroom break, using the kitchen to refill my water bottles and refuel with two Einstein bagel bites. Then out the door in the cold wind to knock out the last 5 miles. I kind of like the loop concept because it breaks a mundane task into doable parts. So just when I thought I had accomplished something big, I was topped by Greg who had spent the afternoon with a 2 1/2 year old with two successful potty trips! I love when life puts everything into the right perspective.

Bring on Santa because this house is ready and excited!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Race Day: Dallas White Rock Half Marathon

The race hotel provided a shuttle for the runners beginning at 6:30 am for the 8:00 am race. This was so convenient and allowed Greg to sleep in. Let's face it - this wasn't my first race (it was actually my 10th half marathon) so the excitement had clearly worn off for him to rush to the start line. I met a really nice girl who lived about an hour outside of Dallas on the bus. She was running the full marathon and had some wonderful race stories to share. This was the first race that I used the shuttle service and I'm glad I did. You can meet some very nice people along the way. We were dropped off outside the massive American Airlines arena and it was strange trying to figure out the mess when surrounded by 20,000 people plus their friends and families.

The problem with massive events is that you can't hear the announcements, have no real idea what's going on, and have to wait up to 15 minutes just to cross the start line (12 mins this time). The upside is that, as a slower runner, you're always part of a crowd and there's generally a good spectator crowd to keep you motivated. It was kind of tough to take in the downtown scenery due to the combination of fog, dew and humidity, which made the asphalt slippery. It's hard to describe this course. There were so many turns that you were constantly having to slow down within your small running crowd that it was difficult at times to build up any momentum. I found miles 7-9 to be absolutely amazing because of the breathtaking mansions we passed. I can honestly say that I have never seen such displays of wealth (old money). Dallas makes Beverly Hills homes look like cheap imitations. Even the Christmas lawn displays caused me to be in awe. Miles 10-13 were along the Katy Trail, which was 3 miles of concrete beating of the joints. The Katy Trail didn't hold a candle to the all-purpose trails at the Metroparks. I definitely wasn't a fan of the final 3 miles on unforgiving concrete. The final stretch was back at the American Airlines parking lot and I found the finish line chaotic and unorganized. As soon as I crossed, I received my medal (pretty nice medal at least) and space blanket. But then it got really congested. Apparently, the finisher t-shirt boxes were just dropped in the middle and it was a free-for-all. All I wanted was water and I had a hard time finding some. I was pointed toward the runner's village, which was yet another disappointment. There was a HUGE line that snaked around. I looked to see what people were carrying out to determine if it was worth my while. Would you believe that thus race of 20,000+ people had bagels and bananas. Really? Really? Not worth waiting 20-30 minutes for unless Javier Bardem was serving them! Instead we trekked back to the hotel and I had a hot cup of Starbucks Christmas Blend and a cranberry orange muffin that Greg brought back to the room while I warmed up with a steaming hot shower.

My race performance was 2:37. Not bad since I ran 9 minutes slower the previous month. I am looking forward to no immediate race plans and just running the trails with my dog. I'm pretty sure he's looking forward to that as well!

Completing this race reminded me why I enjoy smaller, more intimate races. A big name race is nice once a year or so, but I definitely prefer that smaller, more laid back vibe so much more!

Happy holidays and I hope you find yourself outside enjoying this wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Race Weekend: Dallas White Rock Half Marathon

Cliff and Greg picked me up, checked into the Hyatt (race hotel), met up with Martha, then cabbed over to pepi and ito's for some Mexican. They all got a good laugh about how excited I was when I got not only my own salsa bowl but unlimited refills (I can eat my own weight in salsa, seriously). A few bottle of Tecate and I was set!  Before settling in for the night, Martha told us the Hyatt had a pretty good mojito. Being Greg's favorite drink, we decided one more couldn't hurt!  This is where the night quickly got weird. We noticed a group of people near us with matching shirts - "dream weekend." So Greg and Martha let their curiosity get the best of them. It was as if Greg and Martha were holding a piece of bread and 20 birds swooped over saying, mine mine mine. Before we knew it, we were listening to their spiel like a bad test audience and sipping their juice. The company, whose name I will leave out of this post so that the search engine gods do not tap into this blog! But needless to say, I will never drink this stuff again. I woke up at 4am with the same wide awake feeling I had the night I had a Spanish cafe con leche in Madrid. The stupidest part of this is that I told Greg the next morning that if Megan ever told us she had met some nice people at a hotel bar, tried what they were selling, and found herself wide awake at 4am with a weirdest indigestion, then I would be furious and think she had lost her mind! So Friday was the night that Greg and I lost our minds!

Saturday was the expo. Now, I consider the expo an integral part of the race experience and this expo didn't disappoint. It was like a fitness Christmas (say that 3 times real fast!). I bought a running hat with a ponytail opening for $5, a bondi band for $7 and a long sleeve running shirt for $36 that I was stalking back in New Hampshire (went to the store 2 times and decided $68 was too much). Perhaps best of all, I snagged 3 sample sizes of the new dark chocolate larabar. I wanted to be greedy and empty a whole tub of larabars in my purse, but decided I would just take a respectable 3. Greg would have made a great front man had I decided to carry out that plan! All in all, I had a good expo experience and it was a nice walk.

Getting nervous for the race. After my inadequate performance in Maine four weeks prior, I'm hoping I've improved!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm Either a Pollywog or a Minnow

Dara Torres I am not. There's no getting around that. But I'm at least improving. Last week, I completed a 200m set in (gasp!) 6:10. Today, I completed two 200m freestyle sets in 5:34 and 5:36. During my lunch hour, which equates to a half hour for swim (minus drive time, dressing, hair almost drying time), I squeeze in a minimum of 500 yards mixing up freestyle, breast and backstroke. Tomorrow I will begin trying out different swimming drills (as recommended by Greg used in TNT) and I look forward to improving my form, which should ultimately improve my speed! Surprisingly, swimming has helped my running not to mention melting away some of my work stress.

Anchors away!

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Thing Called Trail Running

It's hard. Its really really hard when you're the slowest runner in the group. But in spite of that, some of the nicest, kindest people are trail runners. A week ago Saturday, I jumped back in to trails (after a brief spell in July & August). I showed up at the Boston Store and in the strangest game of Red Rover, a handful of girls and guys warmly welcomed me into their Saturday morning group. I'm sure it was because they felt sorry for me in my mismatched running clothes and that lost-oh-my-gosh-am-I-really-doing-this look. I gave full disclosure upfront that I'm slow. No one was deterred and instead told me no problem, that there would be someone to run with me. And there was. John. An ultrarunner who basically gave up his morning to be my escort on a 9-10 mile run. I couldn't thank him enough. He not only kept me company, but he never once made me feel like I was holding him back. The ladies in the group were so welcoming making sure to check in with me when I finished and everyone even asked me back and offered to include me on their email/run list. I loved it. So I went back for more.

More was two days ago on the Run for Regis familiarization run. I'm on the waiting list, but on the off-chance I actually make the cut, then I should know the trail AND know what I'm getting into. The morning was cold as crap - 29F and a crisp chill. I was really cursing myself for not bringing my gator. We started off getting directions from Tanya. As a relative newcomer, to me every turn by turn direction sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher. But no worries. I had a guardian trail runner or two who would run back and make sure I was still propelling forward. We ran Happy Days, went through a tunnel, across a field, completed Boston Run Trail, them traced our steps back to Ledges Shelter to complete a 5-mile loop. From the shelter we headed left to the Pine Grove Connector, down a hill that I feared I would have to climb on the way back (yep, I did), around Kendall Lake, and then Salt Run. This 8-mile loop nearly turned me into a whiny baby. However, everyone was so nice to me, offering oodles of motivating phrases, that I had to pull my act together! This loop was tough...and I remembered parts of Salt Run from the Muddy Paws race. Hell, Salt Run even had my lab's legs shaking! My "Salt Run tour guide" was such a wonderful female runner that I simply cannot thank her enough!

I hope I make the race list because this is a really great group of people to spend a Saturday or Sunday with. Fingers crossed!

Friday, December 4, 2009

May the Force Be With You

Meg at the CAVS game - gotta love her two leading men!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Review: Born Round

Now that the little one is a little bigger, I find that I can start reading items that are longer than US Weekly articles. I'm currently reading Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater by Frank Bruni and I'm loving it. I had read a brief review in the Plain Dealer and thought I would give it a try. Bruni can make a bologna sandwich sound delectable. He writes in one chapter,

I wasn't merely fond of candy bars. I was fascinated by them and determined to catalog them in my head, where I kept an ever-shifting, continually updated list of the best of them, ranked in order of preference. Snickers always beat out 3 Musketeers, which didn't have the benefit of nuts. Baby Ruth beat out Snickers, because it had even more nuts. But nuts weren't crucial; one of my greatest joys was the KitKat bar, and I couldn't imagine any geometry more perfect than the parallel lines of it's chocolate-covered sections. I couldn't imagine any color more beautiful than the iridescent orange of the wrapping for a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. And the sweetest sound in the world? The most gorgeous music? The bells of a Good Humor truck.

I'm about a hundred pages in and I've laughed about how beautifully he portrays his mother's and grandmother's cooking. I've never thought of quiche Loraine in the way Bruni does (but I will now). His background is interesting since he just kind of happened by chance into being a restaurant critic for the New York Times, but he definitely found his calling in the food world. I'm looking forward to diving into the next 200 pages!