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!