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.
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
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'sThis 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;
- 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.
But on a happy note, below are "dancing" snowmen, a picture my grandson took using some of my Christmas decorations!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
- 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.
- 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!
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
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
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.