Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008


Twenty-eight days and holding with no sun at all here in the frozen tundra of West Michigan. While we also live in the 21st cloudiest city in the U.S., this has also been the cloudiest month on record with 28 days of no sunshine.

All the weather horrors we've had this month fade away with the return of the sun. Where's my sunglasses!

On another note, the newspaper headlines today read: Potholes make early arrival in Grand Rapids area.

More winter weather woes for us. All the streets around my house that don't have speed bumps on them are filled with potholes. Its like driving through a mine field to dodge them. And it makes running in the dark that much more treacherous. If the snow or ice don't get you down, the potholes will certainly swallow you up or break an ankle or something! Sixteen cars were damaged Saturday on a street where I usually exit the highway to get home, but I purposely avoided it knowing the potholes would be bad and then found out about all the wrecked cars after.

And just another one of Michigan's greats: those Detroit Lions! Here's a shirt for all the Detroit fans:

Congratulations Lions! A perfect season: 0 and 16. Too bad the Christmas shopping is over!

Also today at the gym, being a weight training day, I tried the Cybex Arc Trainer that we are testing out. A little different than the elliptical. It was a hard workout in the short time I was on it, but also easier than running on the treadmill. By adjusting the incline, you can get 3-4 different workouts, but definitely it is not like running.

Just a reminder that starting in 2009, I will be doing the Double Digit Challenge, where starting on January 1, I will run 1 mile on 1/1; 2 miles on 2/2; 3 miles on 3/3, and so on. Just for the fun of it. Join me if you'd like!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Like a lot of you, I've had this week off from work. But the only thing I really did for myself this week was to keep on track with my workouts. It makes it so much easier to fit those in when you have a schedule. I've only modified it slightly, mainly just because I ran out of time a few times to do the whole thing, but I still did more than go through the motions.
Where to begin?? Last week was VERY hectic, in so many ways. Monday I did actually have to go into work for a while to complete a weekly deadline we had, even though I had gone in on Sunday to avoid the Monday hours, but thanks to attorneys not wanting to work, things overlapped into Monday. Mlonday was also the day my daughter was coming in from New Jersey. She and her boyfriend were driving and had put off the trip for 2 days because of all the storms rolling through our area. And he had never had a white Christmas until this year, so he was in for a treat. Monday was also the day my son moved into his new home, after a stressful week before wading through the red tape of paperwork that got botched just before closing. Needless to say, it was a huge relief to have that hurdle worked out. They are expecting a baby soon and while waiting to move in had been living with her relatives, and basically wearing out their welcome, so he was stressed and wanted to come stay with me. I agreed, but thankfully didn't have to go there when they suddenly got keys to the house. Its a long a complicated story, but it ended up with a happy ending.
Tuesday I got up at my usual work time to hit the gym for my run and swim before taking my car in for some scheduled maintenance. Don picked me up and we went to breakfast, and the day was unfolding into yet another major winter storm. The car was supposed to be ready by 11 o'clock, and they were supposed to call me before that to let me know what they were doing and how much it would cost. By 10:45 I had heard nothing, so we waited a little longer and went back to the dealership, only to find a half dozen people all waiting for help of some kind and naturally only service person available. After waiting 15 minutes more, I was quickly told the brakes were okay but the car needed a battery soon. Okay, go ahead and do it. How long? 20 minutes. Fine. I sent Don on his way and started making calls to the kids to see who was up and what they were going to do. After 30 minutes I checked on the progress of the car. Has it been 20 minutes already? I was asked. Actually, its been 30. They check the progress, only to be told they didn't even have a battery and would have to order it from the parts store. Another 30 minutes then. All I could do was wait, and its one of those times when you have so much to do that waiting becomes almost intolerable. I still had to stop over at the new house to see what their progress was, was supposed to meet my daughter for lunch, which we cancelled, and still had other errands to do and go pick up Don and get back downtown for a 3 pm TSO concert. Long story short, the car took another hour to be completed only to find out after all that hassle that now my break light is out, but do you think they could notice that?? And changing my battery somehow reset my temperature guage to celsius, so now I have to do the conversion to know what the temperature is! And of course, the weather was the topic of the day again. Traffic was snarled, accidents were all over the place, and it was generally slow going. With 4 wheel drive, I still have to be careful, but it makes it a lot easier to get around. But my annoyance level was going up and up after getting stuck behind one car after another going 10-15 miles under the speed limit. The roads were bad but come on people! Get off the brakes.
The TSO concert was one of the best I've ever seen. If you ever have a chance to go, make the effort, spend the money. You won't be disappointed. We went last year too, and I would definitely go again next year if the opportunity comes up.
Wednesday was a weight training class day. Since they were still having the class, I went, and had plans to go to lunch that day with the girls after. Its been a great class, and after 4 weeks now I am seeing the rewards. A full hour of intense, using every muscle, lifting. Then it was lunch and picking up my daughter from work out in the traffic mess again (how did I get recruited for this??). All my shopping and wrapping was done, so I pretty much had the day to just get some goodies made and then all the kids went to their dad's side of the family for their annual Christmas get together, and Don and I went to our annual Christmas Eve athlete get together, which has turned into a white elephant giving party as well. That's where everyone brings a wrapped item that they no longer want and each person has the opportunity to choose a wrapped gift or "steal" from someone else. I ended up with an electronic dragon that I gave to Austin, and Don ended up with a puzzle which he gave to his mom, so basically we got rid of a couple of things as well as our regifting items.
Thursday, Christmas day, I was able to get to the gym for my run and swim. The kids were at their dad's and would be over in the afternoon, so it was a relaxing and easy morning. I was planning a sitdown dinner for about 2 pm: roast chicken with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, a ham, salad, biscuits, and desserts, all requested items from the kids. There were 11 of us so it was a houseful. The kids all had their new ipods or other electronic games, and after eating, it was time to unwrap presents! I rarely get to see what everyone gets its so hectic, but eventually the mess clears and everyone takes stock of what they have and what needs to go back. Fortunately, I keep all my receipts in one bulging envelope just for this type of thing.
Friday morning, I did have a massage scheduled. I haven't really felt a huge need to have one lately, but who can argue over the luxury of that? Friday was also a bike trainer day, but I only did 30 minutes hard instead of the 45 required. After the massage, I went to my sister's to give her her Christmas gift. Her sons were shoveling off their flat roof, since there was over a foot of snow accumulated and we were supposed to get heavy rain on Saturday. They also live on a cul-de-sac, and with all the packed snow on their road, its like driving on a dirt road in the winter--rough and bumpy. After a nice visit, it was time for me to hit the stores for more shopping. My sister and I and my girls were planning a double baby shower for the next day, since her daughter and my son's wife are both expecting about the same time. They wanted to do it while Renee was in town. I was in charge of the food and I still had shower gifts to buy, so spent the next several hours shopping, then going home to attempt to wrap all the stuff, running out of paper and one item I needed for cooking something for the next day, The weather was bad again, with heavy fog limiting visibility, since the temperature was warming up to the 40s, and with all the snow that causes ground fog. I decided to wait for the next morning.
Saturday, I woke up to pouring rain and heavy, heavy fog. The temperature was in the 40s and expected to rise, with rain scheduled all day. As you can imagine, with all the snow and all that rain and melting besides, there were many areas flooded out, with flooding along the river already, with homes partially under water. It was a huge sloppy mess. Saturday was also going to be another bike trainer day. I was scheduled to run 45 minutes and then swim, but I just didn't have time to go to the gym and then come back home and go out again, so it was get it done at home and switch the run/swim for Sunday. On the way to my sister's for the shower, it was raining so hard and the fog was so thick, it made driving difficult. The temperature was already in the 50s! Didn't we just have a blizzard 4 days ago?? The shower was a success, and I couldn't believe how much food got eaten! We had about 25 people and after we had our family Christmas get together, since most everyone was there for the shower anyway. Then it was party time with the family. The guys all played Texas Holdem, which seems to be their favorite game, while the women talked or played board games with the little kids. My one grandson and my sister LOVE to play board games, and according to Austin, he likes the "old fashioned" games, not the newer electronic versions my sister has. They probably have over 100 games of any you can imagine.
And that brings us back to Sunday. We are having high winds and more snow so the roads are iced up again. Looks like I'll be heading inside again for a workout and later we're going to see Marley & Me. We had a dog like this, only worse actually, when the kids were younger, so it should bring back some good laughs and memories. And now, I'm off to the gym! Hope everyone had a great holiday and weekend. Almost time for the new year and new goals and challenges.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Monday, December 22, 2008


Snow, snow, and more snow. Probably about 18 inches have fallen in the last 3 days. I lost track after 14. I could have braved the cold and snow and ran outside, but that's why I have a gym membership! When I think back to when I first got the membership in 2000, I realized that up until then, I had run mostly outside for more than 10 years and, even with having a treadmill at home, rarely used it. Even after getting the gym membership, for 3 years I rarely used it to run inside. If I didn't need to use a pool, I never would have joined at all.

But I'm all over that now, and am glad I have choices I can make--inside or out. So this weekend was all about inside workouts. Four miles on the treadmill Saturday followed by a half mile swim. My swim times have been dropping again, and I'm not sure if its just a fluke or because I have consistently been doing serious weight training again for the last several weeks. Saturday I felt really slow in the pool, and was seriously surprised to see I had taken 40 seconds off my last swim time.

Sunday was 45 minutes on the bike trainer, in the 70-75% heart rate effort, zone 3. I couldn't remember what my numbers were supposed to be but felt like I was not putting enough effort into the workout, so was surprised when I checked later to see that half of it was actually in zone 2, but by the end, I was steadily in zone 3. I am really getting into this heart rate training and can see some improvement due to its use. I'm not sure on the running though. I cannot seem to stay out of zone 4 even at a slow pace, but I guess it takes time to build on that.

I am starting to look ahead to 2009, and the only thing I'll say right now is that it is looking more and more like a triathlon year. 2008 was all about running, and while I accomplished quite a few races, I don't feel like my times improved at all unless I combined it with a swim and/or bike ride. So rather than beat myself up again all next year trying to improve on my running times, I'm figuring it might be more beneficial to do more serious triathlon training.

I got a gift card to a local book store as a Christmas gift, and my next purchase will be Gale Bernhardt's

This seems to have the most information that I'm looking for as well as training plans for every distance.

On the training agenda this week:
  • Monday-weights (done);
  • Tuesday-run 30 minutes, swim 1/2 mile;
  • Wednesday-weights;
  • Thursday-run 30 minutes, swim 1/2 mile (my gym is open 24/7 all year round so I'll be able to get in a workout even on Christmas day);
  • Friday-bike 45 minutes;
  • Saturday-run 45 minutes, swim 1/2 mile;
  • Sunday-bike 1 hour.

Once I actually get the book, I am hoping to do base training (like this schedule) for the next several weeks and then move on to a specific race plan. Rather than start in June or July next year (like I typically do) getting ready for my summer A race, I am going to (hopefully) be smart and organized and get on the ball by late March/early April. I'm thinking if I'm not so worried about my running all winter, maybe things will go better by spring. I'm also hoping with specific training plans, it will be easier to stay motivated and focused even in the type of weather we're having now and will continue having for the next several months. So let it snow!

Friday, December 19, 2008


A play on the "Wordless Wednesday" theme. As you can see, another lovely day in "paradise." Most of Michigan is socked in with a major winter storm that started about 3 am this morning. The weather people fall short of calling it a blizzard. I'm not sure what determines the definition of a blizzard, considering we have 15-25mph winds, whiteout conditions, snow falling at about 2 inches an hour, and an ice storm that is imminent. Its like a storm right out of the past, like when I was a kid and we routinely had storms like this every winter and the snow piled up feet deep. And yet? We never got snow days! Two in all my school years and then only when we had more than 10 inches overnight. It still amazes me how people got around back then, without the 4 wheel drive vehicles. Of course, we had to put the snow tires on and could even use chains back then, so somehow everyone made it. Or you took the bus.

Below are pictures from my driveway. You would think these were taken last night or very early this morning. They were taken this morning, but at 8 am. Still dark. And my no zoom digital camera cannot take in the true effects because of the darkness and blinding snow.

The car has never seen the inside of a garage. No, the garage is not for cars, just the lawnmower, snowblower, bikes, kayak, and all the other miscellaneous tools and junk you need for maintaining your yard. When there isn't all this snow.

But on a happy note, below are "dancing" snowmen, a picture my grandson took using some of my Christmas decorations!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

LAYERS--How to Run in the Winter.

The weather was calm and 21 degrees, a virtual heat wave over the last few days. My schedule today called for 30 minutes of running. A quick scan of the roads and sidewalks, and it was decided: I was going outside. I figured I could survive 30 minutes outside over a dreadmill run any time.
One thing you have to plan for pre-run in the winter is how much time it will take to assemble all your layers of clothes and then put them all on. Plan to add 10-15 minutes for that at least! Here's my list of what I put on today to go out to run, in the correct order:
  • Tights--2 pair. I can't tolerate the cold that penetrates through one layer, and shorts and tights together still doesn't work for me.
  • Running bra--a given. Have to keep the girls warm.
  • Turtle neck wick-a-way shirt.
  • Regular wick-away shirt.
  • Socks--I only need one pair of Thorlos cushioned. My feet rarely get cold.
  • Vaseline--for the face, concentrating on around the eyes and nose, and on the lips. Nothing keeps the skin smoother and wrinkle free in this harsh weather like good old Vaseline.
  • Shoes, a given.
  • Headband or hat.
  • Jacket. Mine is actually a reflective one so even if not quite warm enough, its an added measure of safety.
  • YakTrax. I try not to put these on the shoes until almost ready to go out the door.
  • Gloves.
  • Face mask. I've gotten to really like that face mask. Now I can really go incognito.
  • Fleece mittens.

Then, looking like the Michelin man's wife, I head to the door. And, like what happens with a little kid once you put them into their snowsuits and boots, I now have to go to the bathroom again! And I realized I forgot my heart rate monitor. Oh well, time's a wasting. Time to head out the door and go see whose been naughty or nice in keeping their sidewalks shoveled.

We've gotten probably about 5 inches of new snow over the last couple of days, about a third less than the lakeshore, so I really shouldn't complain. And today there was another new layer, making it still fairly easy to run on the sidewalks. Living by 4 churches and 3 schools, for the most part the sidewalks are kept clear, as long as I stay on the main street. Going off that, however, and you might want snowshoes.

For the most part, it was an easy run, but when my legs started tiring some, I used the unshoveled areas to slow down and give myself a break, never having to walk then. Just a short jaunt through the neighborhood, seeing only one other runner and a house for all seasons, with their pumpkins, campaign signs, Thanksgiving straw decor, and Christmas lights up all rolled into one. Surprisingly, their walk was nicely shoveled. Apparently that was taking up too much time to take all that old stuff down!

Not a bad run at all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Just like most of you, my week has been filled with working out, working, shopping, wrapping, and going to the numerous parties that come up at this time of the year.

Last Sunday, I did the indoor triathlon. Monday was a strength day. We are having a December challenge at our gym, and the main focus for the month is strength training. We need to achieve 12 workouts in the month (not hard for me) but 7 of them have to be strength training! I've accomplished the spinning, pilates, yoga, swimming, one cardio machine (actually I've done that 4 times) and I'm up to 4 strength training sessions. But I'm feeling pressured to do more of that than I have time or energy. Tuesday was my hill repeat day; Wednesday was a spin class in the am and a strength class in the pm; Thursday was elliptical and treadmill in the am; party in the pm; Friday was an off day--went shopping and out to lunch instead! Saturday was a bike trainer workout and core training in the am; Ironman party in the pm. And that gets back to Sunday. Today? Nothing. Another off day.

The weather is dreary, rainy, and windy, with icy patches everywhere on the sidewalks. Not very enticing to get out and run! I'm on a mission today to get the rest of my shopping done (close), the rest of the wrapping done (close), the house cleaned (close) and catching up on the laudry and meal planning for the week. But all this time gets me spending too much time in my head, about what I should be doing, what training I could be doing, what races I should be thinking of for next year, etc. and yet nothing definite is forming in my mind. Watching Ironman gets you so motivated and starts the mind whirring, but then common sense takes over and I back away. Or maybe its fear?

So for now, nothing much going on. Just everyday life.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Isn't that a colorful sight?? The different colors denote the variations in precipitation, from the green/yellow being rain/thunderstorms, to pink being freezing rain/fog, to blue being snow/ice. Like they say, you never know what you're going to get with Michigan weather. I live in the pink area.
But I did get my run in today--and outside no less. I was packing up the car to head to the gym but realized it wasn't all that bad out at 6:20 am--no wind, fairly mild temperature (under 30 degrees but above 25), and nothing coming down at the moment. So I took my stuff back in the house, put on some outside running gear (couldn't find the YaxTrax though) and off I trotted, carefully at first, to be sure there was no black ice under the layer of snow that had fallen overnight. Very easy footing. And most people so far have been keeping up with their shoveling, so nothing piled up to trudge through yet.
I hadn't gotten more than a block when I realized "if its Tuesday, that means hill repeats!" And while there are a few hills close by my house, the better ones are over a mile away. So I decided instead to stay closer by and do the longer gradual hills instead of the longer steeper hills, for convenience, and because I wasn't sure if the steeper hill would have a shoveled sidewalk.
Since I've been doing 5 repeats, today I had to do 6. I started up easy enough and it was nice because the snow was just a light covering on the road, no big ruts from cards yet, and no traffic AT ALL on that hill. In fact, I only saw one person out walking the whole time so I could enjoy my pain in privacy.
By the third repeat, it was starting to get a little more difficult, but I always love that "free falling" sensation going back down, giving me a chance to recover. And let's face it, no speed records were broken, so I was only out of breath and not dying yet. Two more repeats and I could sense a change in the feel of the snow under my shoes--it was starting to get slightly mushy--causing me to slip a little bit in spots. The last hill was going to be the last hill before heading back to the house, so before I did that I decided to circle the block to get back to that spot, only to realize that going around the block was hilly too and a much longer incline than the first five. By the time I got to the top of that one, I was slightly gasping, but again, I had a nice downhill to recover. The snow now was really getting mushy under foot, meaning it was warming up. This makes it harder to get your footing, and putting more strain on muscles unaccustomed to the lateral and back and forth movement in the mush.
I started seeing only my footprints again as I approached the last hill to home and had to laugh when I realized that they resembled the shape of a rabbit--not rabbit footprints but like a Peeps marshmallow bunny. I did see rabbit footprints also and a cat's that seemed to wander aimlessly (or maybe with a purpose) through the darkness.
Finally, the last hill, and it was becoming a slight struggle on the snow, but I was almost done and was pleased at my effort and getting out there. And looking at the rainbow of colors above, tomorrow is likely to be an inside day again.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Or maybe just someone who likes crazy things: Chewbacca sings Silent Night.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thanks to Jan being sick and not attending and me being the oldest woman, I was able to easily take the age group award.

This fitness center is probably one of the most deluxe in the area, and I'm pretty sure the membership dues are reflected in that as well, one reason I don't belong. Everything is state of the art, but surprisingly their lap pool only has 4 lanes.

Jan has been sick with the flu all week and decided not to do the tri. I wasn't overly motivated, but at the same time was anxious to get started and get the show on the road. We were signed up for the last heat, at 9:14, but I was awake before 5:30 and pretty much just wishing I'd been able to get an earlier slot.

This was a perfect day to stay inside to work out--we probably have gotten about 8 inches of snow over the last day and a half and the temp was only in the teens this morning again with more snow predicted during the week and more cold, cold, cold weather to come.

So I got to the club earlier than I needed to for lack of anything else to do and just wanting to get going. I've done so many indoor tris now that I almost don't have to think about how things are going to go, but I decided for the first time to wear my bike shorts in the pool. Its so hard to get those things on when you're wet!

It looked to me like all the people from the earlier heats had already left, since there weren't many people in the club when I got there, and the parking lot was barely full, quite a contrast from usual when I drive past and the lot is packed all the way around the building.

I found the locker rooms, the pool, got ready, and then checked out where the bikes and treadmills were. Finally it was time to get started on the swim. The pool was colder than I'm used to and is surrounded by windows, so it was a little chilly most of the swim. And a new phenomenon here in the pool: I noticed right away that the music is piped underwater so you hear it when you swim. I thought at first it was my HR monitor chirping, but then I realized it was music! Wow, that might help with boredom doing laps or maybe even keep you moving a little faster.

The swim was easy. I worked hard but didn't push past my limits. One woman in the heat was lapping us all; the woman next to me went in fits and starts, sometimes breaststroking, other times sprinting. I lapped her once but she caught me and that was it. The other woman was ahead at first, but after 3 or 4 laps, I managed to lap her. I lost track of my laps for some reason, but with a lap counter it didn't matter. I ended up with 33. I'm not sure how this measures up to previous swims, but I was hoping to get to 32, so I was happy with that.

Then they gave us a whole 7 minutes to get from the swim to the bike. One reason I put my shorts on for the pool was to avoid the out-of-breath hustle you find yourself in during transition, but with 7 whole minutes, it was a leisurely change and walk to the bikes. We used some sort of life cycle and were instructed to put the resistance on 5. That seemed okay and again I kept within my HR limits for the most part. Don had come to watch and kept saying I should go faster. I told him I was already almost at my max heart rate and he said, oh that must be wrong. No, actually its right on. I love the fact that my monitor records on their equipment so I don't have to keep looking at my watch. The woman next to me was madly pedalling, thrashing back and forth, but she did end up with the highest bike total, so to each their own I guess! My total was 5.25 miles, with cadence in the 85-89 range, for 20 minutes.

Then it was on to the treadmills. Those were upstairs. The other women in my heat took the elevator. I took the stairs so I could stretch out some and I figured we had a whole 7 minutes to kill. So I was surprised when I got to the treadmill to find out we had less than a minute to transition. I didn't need the whole 7 minutes but I would have liked a couple of more minutes!

The treadmills were very, very nice, with built in TV screen and all the bells and whistles you can imagine. They even had these straps to hold you on if needed! What is the point of working out so hard that you get flung off?? Here again, I told myself I had to stay within my HR zone until the last few minutes and then I would crank it up and hold on for dear life. I have noticed its getting easier and easier to go from the bike to the run. I've been doing this for a while after spinning, if only for a mile, and being on the treadmill you can also control and maintain speed. So that's pretty much what I did but probably should have just cranked it up sooner to get in a whole 2 miles rather than the 1.89 I ended up with. Still, it was slightly better than I expected, which was 1.8. But, I didn't want to have to hang on the whole time and wanted to be able to run a pace I could hold for a few minutes at least.

After, there were free massages but very little else for the money we paid--orange slices, power bars, and an ugly green shirt. But I did get a nice AG medal!

And the race director then invited me (and others, I'm not thinking I all that special!) to join them on their training runs starting in January for the 25k in the spring. Just this morning I was thinking I really should join a group this year and try to break that 3 hour mark again by starting the training sooner rather than later, and trying to accomplish this in outdoor runs instead of all treadmill runs. I guess I'll have to see what kind of group shows up. If they're all gazelles, I'm not sure I want to pay for the humiliation of being the last one to finish all the time. But if I see a few older and slower women like me, then it might just be the thing I'm looking for. I have the impression that women who belong to this club are all fast, so we'll have to see how it goes.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


by Fe-Lady to list 6 things that make me happy. Most of these will include my kids:

1. Being able to help them out financially when needed. I have never been able to get over the guilt of putting them through a difficult childhood because of our financial troubles for so many years, both from internal and external reasons. They had what they really needed most of the time, but to be able to finally be in a position (for now at least) to help them when it really counts is one thing that makes me happy.

2. Being happy that despite some of the mistakes I made in their early years that for the most part they are succeeding as best they can and don't seem to hold any grudges against me for what I perceive to be my parental failures. I realize I am hard on myself about things that may seem trivial to others, but its that Catholic guilt upbringing I had that doesn't let me put things out of my mind until I feel they are resolved in a way I am satisfied with.

3. Being healthy enough to pursue whatever athletic goals I choose.

4. Living in this country and being able to freely travel wherever I choose.

5. Finally seeing gas prices go down!

6. Knowing all you bloggers.

I can't remember who may have played this before so if you feel like playing along, I'll pass it to you.

Friday, December 05, 2008

No, this isn't mine, but it was pretty cute. My point here today is all the stuff I carry every day, some to work out with, and some I need for my other life.
I always think of the post Kona Shelley wrote a couple of years back about her 100 pound gym bag she lugs every day. Today I think I surpassed that.
It always helps to pack your stuff the night before, but it gets to be such a chore I can hardly bring myself to come home, haul it into the house, unpack it, and then repack it immediately. I need time to decompress from all that stuff! And its particularly more challenging when you're involved in multisport--shoes for spinning, shoes for running, flip flops for the pool (and shower), heart rate monitor, toiletries, underwear, clothes for spinning/running, swimsuit, pilates/yoga, or weights, etc. Whew! I get tired just thinking of all that stuff.
So there I am this morning, madly stuffing all of the above stuff and then some into my gym bag, and finally get the bag jam packed and zipped, only to discover I had forgotten my makeup bag, my running shoes, and my underwear. I knew I couldn't fit one more thing in that bag and would be lucky to even be able to carry it, so I had to go to another bag and stuff that full besides!
The next challenge of course is getting all that stuff into the car and then a little later into the gym all in one haul. Of course along with the gym bag/s, I also have my lunch, which is as big as a picnic basket (when you're gone all day, including breakfast, and sometimes doing 2 workouts in a day, you just need your snacks!), my clothes for work on hangers, my purse (also jammed packed with snacks that don't fit into the lunch bag--and which my kids say resembles a bowling bag), and last but not least is the hot coffee. And then try to get all that into the building which requires one hand free to use the access card and shlepp all that stuff into the gym without dropping it! And of course then there's the old man at the gym who thinks I'm afraid of him (no, actually, I really don't like you!) and wants to make an issue of that every time I see him, while I'm trying to hustle all my stuff into the locker room before either my arms rip out of their sockets, or something falls and I have to bend over to pick it up, or get scalded with the hot coffee!
I really consider all that one workout for the day. Everything else after that is a cakewalk!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Which is better?
Today, it was a treadmill run that won out. After doing a complete 360 degree spin out in my car on the way to the gym--in my neighborhood no less, the decision was made to stay inside to run. It wasn't all that cold or windy; in fact, it felt pleasant--when I wake up in the morning, I am VERY warm, so the cold fresh air felt good. But the deciding factor was the black ice. Lots of accidents here again today. I lucked out and didn't hit anything; another time this happened to me was on the highway and I didn't hit anything that time either, but it was probably one of the scariest moments in my driving career. You don't realize how little control you have over your car on ice until it happens. Having dealt with this before, I knew enough to just let the car go until it stops. But I soon got dizzy waiting for it to stop spinning. And then it was almost impossible to straighten out the car to get going again because of the ice. Just a light dusting of snow over the top of an ice skating rink.
Today was also supposed to be a hill repeat day. And while most of the downtown streets have the heated sidewalk factor, those areas are completely flat. To get to the hilly area, it is dark and mostly lacking in pedestrian or car traffic at that time of day, so it isn't the most practical place to be running on an icy cold morning. And I'm not sure how clear those sidewalks are on a day like today.
I started reading about treadmill v. outdoor running, and which is better. I really hate to start wimping out this early in the season by staying inside, but the safety factor is more important to me than anything else. So here's the scoop on indoor v. outdoor running:
1. Speed control: Controlling your speed is key to running consistently for a distance or time. For those new to treadmill running, this is a tough one. When you’re new to running, controlling your speed is difficult. I find that most people run faster on a treadmill than they would on the road, so while running on the treadmill allows you to set the speed and let things roll, its important to keep a consistent speed, and that can be a challenge. Treadmills do, however, help you develop speed control. Thats one up for the treadmill.
2. Real motion: I’ve yet to come across a treadmill that feels the same as running outside. They might be close, but running out in the open is an experience that is hard to simulate-the exertion, the feel of the ground, and the exact muscle work. The hardest thing to simulate is running form. From all I've read and practiced, I find it is easier to do the Chi Running slight lean and run towards the front of the machine, rather than running totally upright. It forces you to adjust your pace that way so that you don't have to hang on or get thrown off. But when you add to that the acclimation to the temperature, you want to train in weather you're likely to race in. To simulate the exertion of running on ground, its recommended to keep the treadmill at a 1% incline. So, this factor one goes to running outside.
3. Simulating new geography: If you live in a flat area, and want to train for hills, the best way is to run on a treadmill at a hill incline. Or vice versa, if you’re in a hilly area, its hard to simulate flat runs. So, treadmills wins this factor hands down. Today's hill repeats were done at a 2.5% grade. Five repeats of only .10 distance, but I will work up to the .20 distance recommended and start sooner into my run.
4. Speed Change-Sprints/Intervals: Sprints and interval training are a great workout to incinerate your fat. Intervals on the treadmills can be distracting, since you have to keep pressing those buttons at the end of every interval, to change your speed. Its kind of annoying than just using your legs to slow down, where you would actually use more muscle in running on the ground, to increase or decrease your speed. In fact using your legs to increase or decrease your speed actually helps to work more muscle. Its even more annoying to simulate sprints on a treadmill. Sprints are a fantastic way to burn fat! So, this one goes to running outside.
5. Climate/Environmental Control: And last but not least, weather and location play a big factor in which is the best choice for me. For obvious reasons, indoors for me in this climate in the winter is better; even sprints/intervals are easier inside than out. But I do think the cold weather helps burn more calories in the same amount of time when running outside. Safety is also a factor, whether its running alone in the dark, morning or night, or slipping or falling on ice or snow. So this one is an obvious one for me.
Its always a long winter season here, but at least I'm feeling somewhat better and less wimpy about running inside. I do hope to get some outside running in, especially long runs, but I never know how the season will go. Last year it was so snowy and icy; the year before extremely cold and recovering from injury, so not much outside winter running these last 2 years. They say global warming is happening, but I have yet to believe that's true for this part of the country. But it would be nice just once to have a balmy, sunny, and warm winter! No excuses then for not continuing regular fitness.

Monday, December 01, 2008

So now the outside running becomes more challenging. Sunday, Don and I went to the track again, for our official weekly run "together." Neither of us was too motivated to get out there early. It was cloudy and dreary and I figured it was colder than it was. But my main goal was to get it done before the snow started, even though it wasn't predicted to start until late afternoon or evening.
We got to the track about 11:45 and as luck would have it, we barely finished one lap and the wind picked up and the flakes started falling, slowly and lazily at first, with a full blown blizzard raging by the time we finished. We probably got 3-5 inches of the wet slushy variety, and dozens of schools are closed today. I remember when I was a kid only having 2 snow days in all my school years, and that's when we got 2 feet or more of snow at one time, yet they close for 3 or 4 inches now, without much hesitation it seems.
My plan this time was not to do fast/slow intervals but just a sustained effort for 3 or more miles. I have been wearing the heart rate monitor faithfully now and wanted to see when running only (not spinning/running) where my HR numbers would go.
I did pretty well the first 2 miles, with my heart rate only spiking when running into the wind on the east side of the track. With the winds coming directly out of the east, I knew it would be a little worse than usual storm. And by the end of the 2nd mile, the snow was falling heavily and the wind was raging! It was forceful enough that it was like running on a treadmill for a few seconds whenever it gusted, meaning you went no place fast.
By the time I was halfway through the last mile, my heart rate was spiked the entire time but went higher still whenever I ran into the wind. That was a strange observation to note. In fact, I went over my max HR and the monitor blinked and beeped at me so I knew it without even looking. I had set my max to be about 5 beats lower and I easily went 5 over. My time wasn't stellar by any means but again, the goal was only to try to keep a sustained effort for at least 3 miles with no walking. Since I haven't run a 5k since last summer, not once have I run steadily without walking since then. Doing longer races I allow myself walk breaks, and probably far too often, so while not stopping was challenging, it was also easier than I had expected.
That will probably be the last track run we'll do until next spring again. Next week is the indoor tri, and after that we're into the middle of December. My next goal will be to do a 4 mile sustained effort run, which I hope to accomplish before our New Year's Eve run. In the meantime, its back inside this week, spinning with running to practice for next week's tri. Hope everyone had a great weekend.
Oh, and I did manage to get the tree up. Still working on the decorations, but I'll do a little here, a little there. And got a lot of shopping done even. It was a successful long weekend!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Since lots of you ran or raced yesterday, I have to confess: I did none of those things. Too busy, tired fron Wednesday's workouts and working, as well as cooking, cleaning, etc. So I slacked off, sort of, on Thanksgiving. Had I had my bike shoes at home, instead of leaving them at the gym, I would have at least ridden the trainer and gone for a short run (easy to say that now!). However, they were at the gym and that totally changed my game plan for working out. It didn't happen. Instead, today, Jan and I did a practice indoor triathlon. On December 7, we have an actual indoor tri we will be doing.

Today, however, was a practice run. We both arrived early at the gym and got in a half mile swim (my time: 20:31). Next, we did a 55 min. spin class, with 4 intervals of 7 minutes at anaerobic threshhold pace (for me that was at 95% effort). After that, a 5k on the treadmill. I did pretty well on the run part until about 20 minutes into the run and then just had to pretty much hang on until the end. Run time was 34:40 for a 5k, slower than in the past, but I'm just getting acclimated to the treadmill again, not having run on it since April. Total time: 1:50.11. Just a guesstimate on the distance in the spin was probably 14.5 miles. I put in a good effort so I was pleased. A good way to burn off calories! Sunday, December 7 is the first indoor tri of the season.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I've been scouring all the shopping ads, including any already out for Black Friday, and have come across a more simple way to do your shopping this year: Dave Barry's 2008 Holiday Guide to the oddest gifts. This is a list of items that are so unusual that if you give one to someone, their reaction will be: "Thank God he/she did not get me any more." So let's move on, so you have time to finalize your list before the big day approaches:

1. Head Spa Massager.

Are you stressed out and "uptight?" Do you often feel tense? Would you like to enjoy the kind of physical relaxation and peace of mind that result from looking like the biggest dork on the planet? If so, you -- or the lucky individuals on your holiday gift list -- need the Head Spa Massager. According to the manufacturer, when you put this on your head, "it's like thousands of tiny fingers simultaneously massaging your scalp." That's right: not just a few dozen tiny fingers, but thousands of tiny fingers. Simultaneously. You might be surprised to learn that the Head Spa Massager is mandatory headgear at all meetings of the Federal Reserve Board.
($49.95 plus shipping and handling from Edmund Scientific, 60 Pearce Ave., Tonawanda, N.Y. 14150, (800) 728-6999;

2. Razorba "War Hammer" back razor.

The Razorba "War Hammer" back razor lets you tend to hard-to-reach hairy areas. Perfect for the triathlete on your list. Here, at long last, is a gift that communicates the heartfelt holiday message: "From the back, with your shirt off, you look like a yeti." The War Hammer is a plastic handle designed to hold a razor so that a man can shave his own back hair. This product comes with detailed instructions for use, as well as this safety note: "Wear thick pants, shorts, or a thick towel and eye protection when using this product." No, we don't know why you would need thick pants, and we don't want to know. All we know is that, these days, body hair is out, which is unfortunate since many men tend to sprout hair from everywhere on their bodies except their heads. They are regular hair farms. If you're a lady who's involved with such an individual, he will surely be thrilled to receive a War Hammer from you this holiday season, along with a romantic note along the lines of, "This grooming aid will make you less repellent to me."
($69.95 plus shipping and handling from Razorba/Swamiware LLC, 1657 Abigail Way, Ann Arbor, MI 48103, (888) 755-6386;

3. Gassy Gus flatulence game.

Here's a fun game that will provide hours of entertainment for the whole family, provided nobody in the family has an IQ higher than 40. "Gassy Gus" is a board game that comes with a little man named ... get ready ... "Gassy Gus." Players use "food cards" to force their opponents to pump Gassy Gus' head up and down. Each pump inflates his belly a little more, until finally Gassy Gus "blasts gas." Oh no! In other words, it is exactly like chess, except that instead of strategy there is flatulence. So in that sense it is actually more like the United States Congress.
($34.99 plus shipping and handling from, (866) 216-1072.

4. The UroClub.

Where do golfers go to the bathroom? Open fairways? No trees? You'll want the UroClub in your golf bag. For years, we assumed they used those little holes that you see scattered around golf courses for relief. But it turns out the holes have another purpose; namely, the golfer is supposed to hit the ball into them, although this rarely happens. There are very few places on a golf course to go to the bathroom. This can be a real problem, because many golfers follow a strict hydration regimen under which they may consume as many as eight beers while they're still in the parking lot. This can lead to a lot of pressure out on the course. Well, golfers can rest easy now, thanks to the amazing UroClub. This is a fake golf club with a hollow shaft and an opening at the top. It comes with a towel that drapes over it, so the golfer appears to be toweling off the club when he is actually relieving himself into it. This could be used in place of the little porta potty thing Marci suggested a while ago, to not be so obvious on the links.
($24.95 plus shipping and handling from Matco, (866) 999-4876,

5. Wearable sleeping bag.

This is my personal favorite. Doze off anywhere, anytime with the wearable sleeping bag.
It is a medical fact that most people do not get enough sleep. Why? Work, that's why. Incredibly, even in the 21st century, very few employers outside of the brothel industry and certain government agencies provide beds for their employees, which means workers must spend the day sitting in chairs, awake, using up precious energy reserves they need for evenings and weekends. What can we do about this? The answer is so simple it's hard to believe it took so long for somebody to figure it out: We can wear sleeping bags to work. Specifically we can wear the Lippi Selk wearable sleeping bag, which combines the comfort of a regular sleeping bag with a level of chic fashion elegance normally associated only with the Michelin Man. When you put this baby on, your bed is any place you happen to be ... on a conference table, under your cubicle ... even, for catnaps in the elevator. And just think how great it would be to wear a sleeping bag on a plane! Especially if you're a pilot.
( $132) plus shipping and handling from Barmans Ltd., Saxon Way Industrial Estate, Melbourn, Hertfordshire, SG8 6DN, United Kingdom, 0870-428-0958,

6. Pet highchair.

Since so many of us have pets, this high chair takes table scraps to the next level. Meal time is usually very sad for dogs, because they are confined to the floor, like some kind of domestic animal or something, while the humans get to sit up at the table, where the food is. But there's a solution, thanks to this highchair designed especially for pets. Now, dogs can sit at the table just like people. Think how festive meals will be with your dog sitting right there next to you, barking with happiness, scratching, flatulating and drooling into your lasagna.
($59.99 plus shipping and handling from Target, (800) 591-3869,
7. Firm Grip butt glue.

If you have ever competed in the swimsuit-competition portion of a beauty pageant, or maybe just wanted to wear your swimsuit in a triathlon, then you know how annoying it can be when a sector of your swimsuit disappears into a bodily crevice, which is a mandatory 10-point deduction or DQ. For years, the only way to prevent this problem was a painful procedure involving staples. But now there is a better way: Firm Grip spray-on buttocks adhesive. This is the same professional-grade buttocks adhesive used by all of your top beauty-pageant contestants, pro triathlete women, and as many as 65 percent of the players in the National Football League. (Trust us: You do NOT want to know.)
($17.99 plus shipping and handling from The Queen's Choice, 2059 Listravia Ave., Morgantown, WV 26505, (304) 296-3294,

Hope this helps cut down on your shopping this year so you have more time for other things like running or exercising!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I thought I would try another attempt at the 4th folder, 4th picture thing while waiting for an apple pie to bake. This one was on my laptop, and once again, I did not go to one of my beautiful pics from out east or west, but this, whatever it is! I think I take too many worthless pictures.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I decided to play along, and much to my disappointment, it was a picture of this. :(
This was taken in August 2006, when a fire broke out in my neighborhood hardware store. What was weird was I woke up in the middle of the night to a house full of smoke. Not having air conditioning, all my windows are open at night, as well as the porch sliders, being that it was August and hot as can be. Needless to say, I was scared to death, thinking it was my house (lesson learned: batteries in smoke alarms were dead). After a quick run through the house (which took about 45 seconds), I realized it was not my house so figured it might be one of the neighbors' houses. I attempted to look out the back of the house through the sliders, but the smoke was so thick I could not see anything. When I went to the front of the house, the smoke was so thick I could hardly make out the street lights directly in front of the house. Stepping outside onto the porch, I could hear muted sounds coming from down the block, and could see people all along the street outside. It was surreal, like how you would observe in a dream. A short walk down the street and I learned what had happened. Weird how I can remember it like it was last week.
The smell of smoke hung over the area for a few days, something I noticed the next day and the next on my runs through the neighborhood. And of course the fire was a huge loss to the owner and the neighborhood. Two other businesses, a grocery store and our ice cream shop, were damaged as well. The good news, however, was that they all reopened a few months later. The bad news is that the grocery store eventually went out of business a year later.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I'm sure you've all heard this, either when spinning or doing yoga, or other exercises, but the more I do the pilates and yoga and spinning, the more that phrase is getting pounded into my head. I know this; I've known it for years. I hear about how tight my shoulders are every time I go to the massage therapist or chiropractor. And yet? I don't seem to get it.

Lately, though, that's been my mantra in all my indoor classes. Finally today in spinning, I think I finally achieved it almost the entire class. Sneaking a glance at others in the class in the mirrors, I saw everyone else hunched to a certain degree, and yet, looking at myself, the shoulders were down and relaxed.

Nearly every yoga pose I can think of involves keepipng your shoulders away from your ears. That way you stay relaxed and able to breathe. And isn't that the whole point of yoga? And one of the main points of any other exercise? To be relaxed. To keep relaxed.

Along with keeping the shoulders down, I'm being a lot more vigilant with shoulder stretching, something I rarely did until a couple of weeks ago. Here's a few I've been doing:

The classic shoulder stretch--keep those shoulders down!

Opening your chest--something you can even do at your desk.

A yoga pose--the pretzel? This really takes some flexibility,

but if you keep working at it, it gets easier.

I challenge you to try some of these stretches and stick with them for at least a couple of weeks, especially if you have shoulder and neck issues. So much responsibility as an athlete! To not only train specifically but to keep yourself in good working order besides!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I said I was intending to do some more quality workouts, something that would help put the oomph back in my running, and one way to get that heart pumping and jumping, without circling a track all the time or doing speed drills on a treadmill, is to do hill repeats. So that's what was on the agenda today.

This hill, one of quite a few all going the same direction near downtown, from bottom to top is about 1/4 mile long, but I'm no way good enough shape to be doing repeats on something like that. When I trained for my first marathon (eons ago), my girls and I used this hill for our repeats, doing the full 1/4 mile, up to 9 times, starting at 90 seconds and decreasing by the 6th repeat. Fond and not so fond memories of those days. But the result of that hard work paid off.

Today? I started about 1/4 of the way up from the 1/4 mile mark, so I'm not really sure how long it was, but it was definitely long enough. I will take a picture of that hill one day when it is light out.

And yes, while I don't mind running in the dark in the mornings, doing something this crazy was definitely better done under cover of darkness. I was afraid if someone could actually see the pain in my face, they might call the paramedics.

The goal was to do 4 repeats, and I'm happy to say I was able to accomplish that. The first one was definitely the hardest. Once I got that over with, the next ones seemed easier, although I can't say I wasn't happy to be done. And don't even bother asking my time. I was not doing this for time, only to get it done. On the second repeat, two high school boys were dragging themselves up the hill, and I was glad they were at the top before I had to start my third. Like I said, I don't want someone knowing how crazy I am.

On the first hill, I couldn't help but notice a familiar silver scion parked along the street. Chia, is that yours?? I'm not stalking you girl, but I couldn't help but wonder. And if you did look out your window in the 7 o'clock hour and saw some crazy woman in a glowing yellow jacket going up and down your hill, now you know it was me.

This wasn't the hardest thing I've done by any means, and doing the hills sure made the time pass quickly. Before I knew it, I had been out there for 30 minutes, long enough on a very cold morning. I now realize 2 pair of tights will be necessary on these mornings.

And the best part about this workout? The loooong downhill going back to the gym. Like I said, the hard part makes the easy stuff really seem easy.

After my stretching routine, which I'm paying more attention to again, it was time to get up close and personal with the old tennis ball for some self-inflicted massage torture. That could be an oxymoron there. If you've never tried the tennis ball for self massage, let me tell you that while it can be quite painful, it does the trick. A tennis ball is once again standard equipment in my gym bag. And fortunately, we missed out on all this fun.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Doing more indoor workouts, I always let my mind wander to keep focused (if that makes any sense) or maybe its just to take my mind off what I'm doing to get through it. Either way, I came up with a little game to add some fun into running for the next year. I'll call it the Double Digit Challenge.
How it works is easy at first and then as the year progresses, gets more challenging. Example: On January 1 (1/1), run 1 mile, February 2 (2/2), 2 miles, etc. If you look at the calendar above, you can see that quite a few of the double digit days are on weekends, so that should take some of the pressure off. On the months where the double digit day falls during the week, it would be acceptable to do the run on the weekend, but to make it more challenging, its better to try to hit the exact day.
I'm going to do this, and if anyone else wants to join in the fun, the more the merrier! If nothing else, it will be a way to build up mileage without doing too much, for those not inclined to run longer distances.
My plan right now is to run the 4 mile Resolution Run here in GR on December 31, so running 1 mile on January 1 should be easy enough.
This year we did 8 on the 8th I think more than once. Next year, let's do the Double Digit Challenge!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Finally the back/hip issue is beginning to resolve. Its always hard being patient with an injury because we want it to be fixed NOW and when it isn't, it starts getting us frantic. I'm learning though to be patient with these things, and always learning how to do preventative work to avoid the same thing happening again.

Work has been particularly busy all month, and after spending all day on a computer, I rarely get in front of mine at home, so I've not been the best at blogging lately.

Also, with this injury thing, I've been doing different workouts--spinning 2 or 3 days a week, yoga/pilates twice a week, elliptical once or twice a week, strength training twice a week, and last week added running back in 3 days a week. Sounds like a lot, but the main thing I'm doing different is increasing the intensity of each workout, including running. More quality, less quantity. And I think that will be my theme for next year.

One thing I've missed by running fast is the hard workouts that then make everything else seem easy. Like once you've run a marathon, everything else seems easier. Or an Ironman (although I'm not an authority there.) I've resigned myself to realize that unless I was at least 10 years younger, didn't have to work, and had a dedicated coach, I will never run at the levels I used to. I miss it psychologically but also miss it physically.

The quality I am putting into my workouts now is to try to get at least half the workout in the 80% effort zone. My goals are twofold: one to get back some of the speed I have seriously lacked this past year and two to help trim the fat. High intensity workouts are fat burners, its as simple as that. Running or biking at 60-65%, as I've mostly been doing, doesn't do a whole lot for me. Not only does it not increase my endurance, but it does not help maintain a good body fat ratio. The body gets efficient at NOT burning fat when its not called upon to do so.

I think I can do better than I've been doing, I just have to put my mind to it. I think overall my fitness has improved over the last two years, but I have lost a lot of speed, and while my weight mainly is maintained, not doing much running this month I've seen those pesky few pounds creep back on and I want to nip that before it gets out of hand.

Today was another track day. Not just for speed, but mentally it helps me with workouts. I'm just rebuilding my distance, but now I want to start throwing in some faster running, so its easier for me to do that there. Four miles was the goal today: walk 1 lap, run 1 lap easy, 2 hard, 1 easy, repeat. It was cold, only 32 degrees, and snowing the whole time, more like white rain, because it was the big, wet sloppy flakes. But thankfully very little wind. And like treadmill running, its a great equalizer when you are running with someone else: you can each go your own pace and not lose each other in the process.

And I almost pulled off the entire workout as planned. On the third mile, I really had to work with my mind to do the fast laps, and had to mix it up some: one fast, one easy, one fast, one easy, walk one. But I got it done and when I finished, the snow stopped. That was weird. The whole time I circled the track, I was getting hypnotized by the big white flakes falling on the black surface. And the end result was I felt relaxed and good. Putting some hard effort into my running makes me feel that way. And that's what I've been missing.

Goals for next year then are to try to get a little faster (within reason) but not obsess over it either. It will not be a disappointment if I don't make a certain goal pace, only a triumph if I do. Another goal will be to do only one event a month, so I can focus on quality. I love going to races, but going frequently I do not train properly, relying on past performances to get me through it, which doesn't always work. Also hoping for a few blogger meetups as well. No events have been decided on yet. I'm still deciding...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend update: Its official. Summer/fall is now over. Saturday morning the snow started falling. This after 70 degree weather most of last week. It was the wet, sloppy variety and didn't last long, but the day was bone chilling cold and wet. I had no specific workouts planned outside thankfully. My daughter, the kids, and I went to the annual dog show that we enjoy every year at this time. She was on a mission to find a pug, so we were at the first round of showings, meaning getting out there early in the sloppy wetness. Later, I went to the gym to do some strength training while they hit the pool. I have found that doing some of the yoga stretches I learned Thursday night that the key in my stretch on the right hip is 3 clicks: when my hip rotates out, it makes 3 clicks before I can fully achieve the stretch. So now every time I do this, I am going to be listening for 3 little clicks. The bright side of the day was getting gas for $1.99. I honestly can't remember last when it was that cheap. Enjoy it while it lasts. The rest of the day it was either a steady, raining downpour or a little bit of sleet. Not a nice weather day at all.
Sunday was still cold but dry when I got up and was going to be another run day. I had gone two full days with no hip/back pain and was going to start a heart rate training program, so it really was only going to be a short, 30 minute run. I decided to go to the track, just to help me with my pacing. I talked Don into going with me, and just as we were heading out the door, the snow started again. This time it was mainly the frozen variety, nothing wet or sloppy. Temps were about 34 degrees. We had gotten so spoiled last week! The plan was to walk 5 minutes to get the heart rate going and warm up, then run 10 minutes easy at 70%, then 10 minutes at 80%, then walk 5. We actually ended up walking 5, running 5 easy, running 5 harder, walking 5, running 5 easy and then running 5 harder, ending with walking 5. Each time, I was able to keep my heart rate where it belonged and I felt really good after the whole workout. Only very minor twinges in the hip, but that could have been from running circles. Cold as it was, after the first few laps I was warm most of the time even running into the wind on the north side of the track.
The last time I went to this track in November, I noticed the same thing we noticed yesterday: worm suicide. Thousands of worms out on the track, probably enjoying the unseasonable weather up until midday on Friday and then bam! freeze dried worms when the weather changed later in the day and overnight. I can't imagine what causes this, but like I said, I've seen it before.
Then it was back home to get some stretching in, listening for those 3 clicks. Its amazing that it took all these years for me to realize how much my right hip rotates inward and how easy it has been to fix it, even if only temporarily. I'm hoping after a while that I can train that muscle to stop tightening and keep the hip rotated out where it belongs.
We ended up going to a movie, since the day was still cold and lightly snowing. For once I had no specific family plans or need to go shopping. We saw The Changeling, which in my opinion was a very good movie. I really like movies best that are based on true stories.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, doing laundry, and trying to catch up on blogs, although I confess I am hopelessly behind! I will catch up hopefully this week, since most of the trial stuff is done for now.
Sometime after it got dark and 8:30 p.m., it must have started snowing much harder, because when I looked out later, my car was covered with snow, the ground was covered with snow, and it was still snowing! This morning, the same.
So life as we know it will change now for several months, while we enter the dark cold side. Sigh. I really hate this cold weather!

Friday, November 07, 2008


Yoga class was last night. I was dreading it all day, and by the end of the day I was actually trying to talk myself out of going: I was tired; I didn't want to be more sore after class; I had some shopping to do; I had forgotten to bring different clothes (from my sweaty running stuff); etc. But maybe to just prove to myself that I wasn't a wimp, that I could actually do this stuff, or maybe because I was a glutton for punishment, I went.

Two of the regulars weren't going to be there that night, and we already have a small class, so I was glad two new people showed up. Something the instructor said to one of the new people triggered the response from me that I was trying to like the class. That opened up a whole dialogue then on why I didn't like the class. Was I uncomfortable, in pain, what was it? I said all of the above. I told her I was having some back and shoulder issues and that some of the poses were just too hard for me, that I actually felt beat up by the time I left, and even a little physically ill from the pain. The answer to that, then, was to modify. Whenever any yoga pose causes pain or discomfort, the rule then is to modify that pose or do another.

The class then focused mainly on doing exercises/stretching that helped open up the shoulders and back as well as the hips, all areas I have been complaining about for weeks. And no amount of my stretching, or working with the massage therapist or chiropractor was helping.

Who knew that yoga wasn't all about downward facing dog or warrior poses? But the interesting thing that happened was I gained a whole new perspective on stretching. You need to engage all the muscles around the one you are trying to stretch to actually achieve the stretch. So we practiced that as well.
The end result? When I got done with that class, I felt the most relaxed I have felt in I don't know how long. And the best part? No back, hip, or shoulder pain that I have been dealing with for so long. I can honestly say there probably hasn't been 5 minutes over the course of the last 7 or 8 weeks where I have not had some degree of pain, yet suddenly it disappeared.
Maybe there is something to that yoga afterall.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


After nearly two weeks of working out inside and sweating to the oldies, I decided it was time to get out and hit the pavement again. When its 70 degrees in November, its a waste of good weather staying inside!
For the most part, my hip/back are feeling better, but I've still got a ways to go and have actually done some pretty hard spin classes and elliptical workouts, trying to achieve 75-80% max heartate each time to maintain a decent amount of fitness.
So today, out the door I went at lunch time. Even with the intensity of the workouts I have been doing these last two weeks, I still couldn't believe how easily I got out of breath! It doesn't take long to become a slug again!
But what a beautiful day! It was one of those days that remind you of late September/early October, warm and hazy, with the fall colors and the sky muted slightly from the humidity. I've actually got roses blooming at home right now, and some of the mum plants have finally come into bloom.
At this point, I'm going to continue with some shorter runs and the spin classes and supplement with the elliptical to get some more high intensity training. I've also gone back to doing more weights and backed off some on the pushups. The yoga instructor I've been using lately pointed something out that I can't help but wonder is related to the back problem: if you aren't strong enough to hold yourself in plank position for a minute or more or do a number of regular pushups, you are at risk of injurying the lower back. That sounds like my problem right there. I do remember when the pushup challenge was nearing its highest intensity how much my lower back ached doing them, so I've gone back to the modified ones for a while at least. Part of the weakness could also be because of the soreness, and I have noticed with the yoga poses I do not have the hip strength needed for some of the poses right now because of the weakness/soreness. So I'm going to back off on that some too. Not that I'm disappointed there. I can't believe how much I dislike yoga! Maybe it has to grow on you, but after 4 weeks, I am disliking it more than I did when I started, and by the time I get home from the hour long classes, I am totally wiped out. Who knew yoga could be that intense??
Probably no races this month. I haven't signed up for anything with the uncertainty of the back issue, and sad to say the weather will probably change for the worse soon, so maybe its a good idea to lay low for a while and rebuild the base starting again in January. By then things should either be cleared up or I'll know if I'm in for a long recovery.
Hope everyone is enjoying the weather!

Monday, November 03, 2008


By Nikemom. The rules of this post: The rules are to list 6 things I value and 6 things I don't and then pass this award on to 6 people!

What I Value:
  1. Freedom. As I get older and see all the things going on around the world, I can't help but feel extremely fortunate for being born American.
  2. My family. Again, as I get older and my kids have gotten older, it has been easier to see each of them as individuals with their unique personalities.
  3. My friends. While I am not one to need a huge group of people around me or feel the need to spread myself thin, I value the friendships that have remained over the years, and value the new-found friendships I am making through blogland.
  4. Travel. I am finding out how much I love to travel--almost anywhere--but especially when it involves meeting up with fellow bloggers or doing races.
  5. My athletic abilities, as meager as they are. Again, I realize how fortunate I am to have taken up running, biking, swimming, and all that goes with it, good and bad. I believe it has made me the person I am today.
  6. Good health. At least for now, I have no medical issues.

What I don't value: (I take this to mean things I dislike)

  1. Insincerity. I am who I am. I do not pretend to be anyone else. Yet I can't help but notice how many people I have come across who are not who they portray themselves to be. (none of you BTW)
  2. Losing a lot of money in this stock market mess. 'Nuff said.
  3. Family members who did not treat my parents well when they were alive.
  4. Having to keep my car maintained. (I just want to get it in and drive.)
  5. Paying high prices for gas and other necessities, with no end in sight to this.
  6. Companies that discontinue making items I have been using for years with no substitute.

So there you have it. Now I have to tag 6 other people:







Don't forget to vote tomorrow!

Friday, October 31, 2008


The Grand Rapids Zombie Walk 2008.

Hope you have a spooktacular day!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Years ago, when I was running and training with a group, we often did back to back workouts. We might have an evening 5k or 10k race, and then meet again in the morning for a long slow run. I was always amazed at really how good that felt--after a hard run at night, a nice slow long run felt relaxing and was actually a good recovery workout.

But I'm not talking about back to back workouts. I'm talking about back to back trials here in the office. Its almost ridiculous how this happened, but suddenly I realized about mid-October what the end of the month and the beginning of the next month would be like--working 10 hour days most days, and constantly being in high gear.

Somewhat like training for a big race, where you do all your prep work (training) up to two weeks before the big event, the same thing happens in trial prep. Unlike training for a big race, where you taper the last 2 weeks before the big event, in trial prep you gear up more the last two weeks. Lucky for me I only have a small part in both of these, so that shows how much more is required of the attorneys. Everything is so technical now in court also that you have to get the techies on board to work along with you, and that's not always an easy task. They have a totally different idea of what "I need it now" means. The usual no help from the helpless desk.

Anyway, such has been my life the last few weeks, changing my running plans for the next month now. Which actually might be a good thing since this hip thing is really getting to be a nuisance and a mystery at the same time. I suspect its a tight hip flexor muscle, but none of my usual therapies are working.

Saturday, after the deluge of rain stopped, it cleared up enough for me to consider getting outside. It was brisk and partly sunny, requiring me to bundle up a little more than usual. But it felt good to be outside again after spending all week inside or not doing anything but working. The plan was to just do my 3 mile loop, and if all went well to go longer on Sunday.

All did not go well. It started out okay however. I have 3 checkpoints on this route, where I check my time to see how I'm doing: if I hit my average times, I feel okay with that. If I'm slower, I know I'm not ready to be running. And if I'm faster, then woo hoo, I'll take that. I was only slightly faster than average so felt okay with that. I was having no hip tightness or pain. There was one scary moment when I saw something dangling from a tree and realized it was a huge spider dropping down from its web! It was Halloween horror, for sure.

All I could imagine was what if I'd been running in the dark like usual through here??? It would have gotten in my hair!! Shudder.
But I was still good on time at the next checkpoint and was really enjoying the day, especially since the all day rain predicted was not happening.
Right around 2 miles it happened--suddenly that hip flexor muscle tightened right up, almost like a vice grip, and I had to stop and start walking. Then it was sore and stiff and I ended up walking the rest of the way home. I could not run any more. I was actually limping somewhat and off balance. Using the foam roller when I got home was excruciating, actually taking my breath away, making it impossible for me to tolerate that torture for only a few minutes. Then I iced.
It was sore all day, achey sore, and Sunday I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and it was fine. Today I did a spin class and it was fine. So I have to figure this thing out. I do not want to have to stop running for any length of time and rebuild my base--again--but I may have to take a week or so off. Any ideas will be welcome, but I've probably tried everything!
Hope everyone had great weekends!