Friday, January 30, 2009

Only one more day to go and most likely all the resolutionists--you know, the ones who resolve to hit the gym running on January 1, but by or before January 31, they're long gone. I couldn't help but laugh when I read this story.
Maybe you have a list of your own. So let's hear them!
I'll start with mine from worst to worst:
1. Male locker room attendant who after repeated complaints about and requests to NOT clean the women's locker room at 8 am, 12 pm, or 5 pm, or noon on Saturdays, still manages to be there without fail at those times.
2. The sweater/groaner on the cardio equipment next to you, sweating so hard he's flinging it all over you, and groaning so loudly you're not sure if he's going to have a heart attack but definitely blocking out sound in your headphones.
3. Women who can't use a hair dryer without replacing it to its holder on the wall. Just how hard is it to place it in its holder rather than on the counter or letting it fall into the sink?
4. Locker and cardio rooms that are consistently 79 degrees. I have been battling this one since the beginning of the month. You can't do anything without breaking out in a sweat.
5. Guys (always) who can't lift weights without dropping them on the floor after a set. When you can hear the boom of weights dropping on the floor when upstairs and in the shower and wonder if there's an earthquake happening, something's wrong.
6. People who do not clean the cardio equipment or spin bikes off after use. Just how many people do you think want to share your sweat?? Don't touch that!
7. People who hog all the overhead TVs and get on a piece of cardio equipment with a TV. Just how many news shows do you need to watch at one time??
8. Opera man. Every Saturday without fail he's in the weight room near the basketball court with his blaring opera music while he bounces a basketball over, and over, and over, and over ad infinitum, with it echoing up the steps and jarring your brain, annoying every inch of your being, and all the while doing nothing other than bouncing it.
9. The old guy who parks next to the door (he owns the parking lot) and then has someone from his office come pick him up and take him across the street to his office, where there is another parking lot he owns.
10. The parking lot czar (see above) who tells you he'd join you in the pool and hot tub if he had a suit. (Eww. TMI.)
I'd like to hear other gym horror stories, because I know we all have them!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

(Dream on)

Monday, January 26, 2009

And yes, it is a happy Monday for me, because today is an off day from training. As for work, well its always a good day to get caught up on the blogs that I neglected all weekend. And I thought this beautiful flower was much better to think about than the snowy, freezing weather we continue to have. I'm thinking happy thoughts! Week 3 of 2009 triathlon training went like this:
  • Monday: Swim 1200 meters (31:10)
  • Tuesday: Pilates (missed a lot of sleep on the weekend and just was too tired to run)
  • Wednesday: Spin class followed by a 2 mile run; weight training class
  • Thursday: Swim 1200 meters (31:02); run 3.5 miles (hr training)
  • Friday: Off. Had a family (uncle) funeral to attend so it was a good day to take off
  • Saturday: 6 mile run; 2000 meter swim (52:13 and no Tai Chi man!)
  • Sunday: Spinerval DVD, 1 hour 22 min. heart rate training zone

I finally started getting better sleep by Wednesday and hope it continues. Maybe the extra training has something to do with it; maybe its the melatonin I've been taking nightly. If it continues to work, I'll continue to take it unless I find something contrary to taking it.

Jan and I actually did an outside run on Saturday, looking like ninjas with our face masks and hoods. While we started out together, that didn't last long, since I was trying to do heart rate training and she desperately wants to get her speed back up again. So basically I told her to go ahead and do intervals, waiting for my slothlike self to catch up at intersections. We ran downtown mostly since those streets were the most cleared and even dry in some spots. It was cold (about 7 degrees), but no wind, much better than yesterday or today where it is once again in the minus digits. (Thinking spring, thinking spring, thinking spring.) I followed this with my 2000 meter swim. It felt so relaxing and warm getting in that water after braving the elements. I didn't push it at all, just patiently swam lap after lap, keeping pretty consistent with my pacing. I was hoping for 50-51 minutes but went over. The odd (and good) thing for me again is my first 1/2 mile is slower than my second. I just wish all this would convert to my run!

The first indoor tri of the year will be February 15, this year at a new venue from the past 15 years. It was a disappointment that the Y cancelled this event after more than 15 years. Suddenly they decide its not a money maker?? But fortunately, someone else organized it at a different and newer venue, so that's the good part, as well as not having to run up 3 flights of steps for each of the 3 legs or run on a track that is 19 laps to the mile.

Hope everyone had great weekends, and I'll be catching up with you today and/or tomorrow!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

With all the new people either joining the gym or starting out the yearly one month gym marathon, the pool is now occupied most mornings. In the past, it was either me or another woman, and that was about it. Now, up to 3 people at a time. Its crowded! LOL! Actually, its only a 4 lane pool and its short, so when 3 people are in the pool, you get some serious wave action going on. Good triathlon training though!
A while back, on a day when there were 3 of us in the pool, suddenly as I was finishing a lap in the lane near the steps, a figure appeared it seemed out of no where. And here I was, nearly against the wall and suddenly this guy is squeezing himself in next to me. Doing something, not sure what, but it wasn't swimming. After observing underwater for a few more laps, I determined he must be doing some sort of water tai chi, if there is such a thing.
Since then, I've been on the lookout for Tai Chi man, but until today I haven't seen him. And wouldn't you know it, on a day when the pool was "full," he shows up. And squeezes himself between me and the wall. I moved over as far as I could but barely escaped his movements every time I passed him. If he was half as good looking as the guy above, it might not have been so bad, but to be swimming and observing underwater that closely to someone who, let's say, left a lot to be desired bodywise, wasn't any eye candy. Not only that, he seemed oblivious to the fact that someone was within inches of his lunges, turns, and other arm contortions. I thought Tai Chi was supposed to be fluid movements, but his were more lumbering. Which may be why he chose the liquid form of exercise for the day.
On a better note, my swimming has once again become consistent in the time department. And I've learned how to keep track of laps without crashing into the end of the pool because I'm so deep in thought trying to do calculations (yes, I've done that more than once! If there was a helmet for swimming, I'd need one). I know they have those pool lap counters, but its just one more gadget I don't really want to fuss with and likely I wouldn't be able to read anyway without stopping or getting a magnifying glass. My goal is to get back down to 30 min. for every 3/4 mile. When I started 3 weeks ago, I was at 33:42 and today I hit 31:02. Even with the distraction of Tai Chi man within inches of my face, I managed to keep focused, keep count, and get a little faster than the other day. Or maybe I was just hurrying to get out of there faster?

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Many of us are experiencing extreme temperatures along with all the snow right now. Once the thermometer dipped below zero, whether actual or windchill, I knew I would be forced to run inside. When it hurts your face to go out and get the mail, that's pretty much enough for me. I made the mistake of going out once last year when it was minus 5 and that memory hasn't left my mind yet. I still don't know how I did this when I first started running, no matter the weather, the wind, the heat, the cold, always outside. Am I a wimp now or what?? Or do I just have more sense? I'm going on the second choice.

So this week's runs have all been inside. To fight the boredom of the dreadmill, I have to have some sort of planned workout to do, otherwise I can hardly bring myself to get on it let alone stay on it the entire planned time. At least then I am challenged to see if and how I do.

Here's how Week 2 of 2009 training went:

  • Sunday: 1 hour on bike trainer, zones 2 and 3
  • Monday: weights (30 min.); day 1 of 200 situps challenge (67--too easy)

  • Tuesday: Swim 3/4 mile (32:07); run/walk 3 miles (HR training); pilates/yoga

  • Wednesday: 1 hour weight training class; day 2 of situps (75)

  • Thursday: Swim 3/4 mile (31:29); run/walk 3 miles (Yasso 800s x 4) (HR training)

  • Friday: off (due to a family issue) (I was supposed to bike but didn't want to do it late in the day to not have back-to-back workouts running into my Saturday plan)

  • Saturday: Swim 1 mile (41:27); run/walk 1 hour (intervals) (HR training); day 3 of situps (100)

The hardest part of this? Getting enough to eat and getting enough sleep. I have not slept well in months, meaning I sleep a few hours, wake up, stay awake an hour or more, go back to sleep for an hour or so. Nearly every night. And I don't drink caffeine and have tried just about every non-prescription sleep aid out there, as well as chamomile tea at night. Sometimes I've taken things to help me sleep and I still don't sleep. My mind is not in turmoil so I don't understand it. I'm rarely exhausted so its not like I'm craving sleep. I just feel I would do better with a little more, and preferably uninterupted sleep. And trying to make sure I have enough food with me all day to avoid snack binging. So everyday I have to load up the picnic basket for work it seems.

My current training schedule calls for increasing long workouts again next week and then yipee, the next week is a drop back week. I just hope I can get some more runs in outside next week or I might just lose my mind!

Stay warm everyone!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Typical for me, I tend to panic about things when it seems like they aren't going the way they should. Not outwardly, but I dwell on something until either I get it right or figure it out. Its in my nature. By nature I am a "fact finder" on the Kolbe scale. That's how I am most useful at accomplishing something.
In this case, it was figuring out this heart rate training. I have read all the info there is out there; I have practiced it in the past but gave up early on; and it wasn't until just recently I actually decided to give it a try again and figure out my numbers, based on the newest formula out there. But there was a couple of things I hadn't factored in, and after discussing this with a trainer at my gym, doing some experiments, and Chia's own meritorious comment the other day, I have come to a better understanding of how this will work for me.
First, the trainer indicated that your heart rate will be lower when swimming--something I knew and noticed--because of buoyance--something I didn't know. Second, she also indicated that your heart rate sitting on a bike will be lower than running because? Because you're vertical and the heart has to pump the blood farther when vertical. With that in mind, I should not be concerned if my heart rate is higher when running. She also indicated that how I felt was a better way to judge, which basically is what I have been doing anyway, which is another reason I wasn't totally alarmed at my high numbers, just a little frustrated.
At the gym, they have started an 8 week weight loss challenge for spinning, which includes learning your heart rate numbers and finding out your anaerobic threshold and learning to work within those numbers. I have not joined this group--not that I couldn't lose a pound or 2--but the days they meet do not work with the rest of my schedule. Instead, I got lucky and listened as some of the women who are working within that group talked about what they did in the class and decided to adapt that to my own training.
And Chia's comment the other day to push myself and then rest and repeat that to train yourself to run at the median heart rate is something I had been testing out anyway, but giving it more thought and putting it to a test I discovered that while running a steady pace my heart rate continued to climb into what my numbers indicate is the 90% zone for me, even while running incredibly slow, but when pushing the pace for short periods of time my heart rate did not climb abnormally higher but instead sort of hovered just a little higher. With rest, it went back down and I felt good enough to do another interval, going until my number again went into and stayed in the 90% zone. Oddly enough, I actually felt better even in that zone when running the intervals than trying to run a steady pace.
Today then I really tested myself, doing Yasso 800s on the treadmill (mainly just a boredom buster but also one of my favorite workouts on a treadmill). After warming up for 10 minutes, I ran 4 x 800 (1/2 mile) at a pace about 1 min. per mile faster than my steady pace and never did I go higher than 85%. To rest, I walked until I got my heart rate back into the 70% zone, usually about 2 minutes. Of course, the pace was still nothing you would consider fast, but the object was to get my heart rate into a zone and try to hold it there. I am guessing with more practice that my pace will increase, but even if it doesn't, I'm happy going with feeling good the whole run and finishing whatever event I start.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

First training 2009 week done:
  • Sunday, 50 min. bike trainer, cadence
  • Monday, weights
  • Tuesday run 30 minutes; swim 30 minutes; pilates
  • Wednesday, 1 hour weight training class
  • Thursday, swim 30 minutes, run 30 minutes, intervals
  • Friday, spin class
  • Saturday, 45 min. run; 30 min swim

It was an easy week. Eventually, I will add another spin class. The hard part is getting the run/swim days done on work days. If I swim in the am, it is hard to get to the gym at lunch because I can always be guaranteed some crisis coming up and preventing me from taking a long lunch, leaving an evening run, when I am at my low point of the day, and it is an absolute stretch to get me on a treadmill at that time of day. Added to that, I am attempting still the heart rate challenge, meaning trying my best to stay within my zones, which is nearly impossible when running. Biking and swimming, no problem. Running? I max out every time, no matter how slow the pace. Please, someone, tell me this will pay off eventually??

Friday, January 09, 2009


Just what I needed to add to my winter challenges. Marci had this on her blog, the 200 situp challenge. I had actually started my own situp challenge back when I started the 100 pushup challenge, and had gotten to 100. Since then, I've been doing at least 50 at a time most days, and the weight training class I've been taking for the last 6 weeks also has an ab portion at the end of the class, where we devote 10 minutes straight to ab work, so I think I'm in good shape to start this challenge. There's nothing that helps you look better than trim abs and well shaped arms. So let the challenge begin!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

(the real reason for global warming)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


You've heard that saying "a three dog night"? Where its so cold you need 3 dogs to stay warm? Today was one of those days when it was going to take 3 pair of tights to stay warm. I headed out for my run at 6:30 am in my purple Barney the dinosaur coat (looks bad but its been the best coat ever) and 2 pair of tights. I didn't check the temperature ahead of time (its cold, what more did I need to know?) but wished I had. Within minutes, my quads were stinging from the cold, and my butt was feeling it too, even with the coat flap over it. I pulled up the hood on the jacket and that helped keep my face warm, since I hadn't put on my face mask either. But with no wind and the roads as dry as they were going to be over the next few days, I decided it was a good idea to get out there while the going was good. I am committed to running outside this winter as much as possible. I know, there will be days when I'll regret I did and days when I'll regret I didn't, but after 2 years of strictly inside treadmill running, I had reached my limit. I will still do speed workouts inside, but hopefully the long runs and shorter maintenance runs will be outside as much as possible.

I was glad I had put on my Yak Trax too, since the almost all day, rare appearance of the sun on Monday brought melting and overnight refreezing. For the most part, the sidewalks and streets were clear, but there were enough icy patches to make me feel smart for having put them on. The commitment to run outside also requires more caution, and running with Yak Trax is just one of those things I need to do. Surprisingly, the worst stretch of sidewalk was right in front of a public school. What's up with that? It was an ankle turner for sure. While most of the school yard was a glaze of ice, that stretch of sidewalk hasn't even been shoveled, and there's no excuse for that. With lawsuits in abundance these days, you'd think our public schools, struggling financially, would be more diligent in keeping their properties safe.

I am realizing that wearing an extra 10 pounds of clothes is a definite slow down, so I'm not worried about my time while out there, other than not staying out so long I get hypothermia, and definitely by the end of the 3+ mile run, my toes on one foot were numb and feeling the cold, a holdover from New Year's Eve standing out in the cold for 4 hours, and I could feel the cold penetrating right through the layers. I really don't know how much more I can wear!

All in all, a good run, and a good way to clear all that gunk out of my head and nose!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The 2009 training season, that is. While I've been looking at various races that I want to tackle in 2009, I'm not yet ready to put things down on paper. I pretty much took the last week of the year off due to flu, holiday, and just needing to recover a little from the holiday season.
But I have been fairly consistent with workouts over the last several weeks, and even this week managed to get some workouts in.
I missed our annual Resolution Run due to sickness, but I did start my 2009 Double Digit Challenge, and ran one mile on 1/1. Outside. That's about all I was up to doing since I was still a little weak after not eating much for a few days. We also walked some after, so that will also count toward my gym's 2009 challenge: 50 miles swimming; 75 spin classes; 300 miles walk/run. I'm pretty sure I'll hit all 3 without any trouble this year. And for once I'll have another source of keeping track.
Friday I did a 30 minute bike trainer workout, despite the fact I still didn't feel that great with a head cold coming on. Actually, I think the whole stomach/head congestion thing is a virus and its not totally got me down, but I definitely didn't feel like more than 30 minutes. I pretty much go by the rule: if its above the neck, do what you feel capable and comfortable doing; below the neck, take days off.
Saturday, Don and I went for a short run and then walked again after. It was very cold and windy, but unusually sunshine-y with a bright blue sky. It was hard to not want to get out to enjoy that. Later, we went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a very unique and interesting movie, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, among others.
Today was 50 minutes on the trainer again, using one of my Spinerval DVDs. It helps beat the monotony.
So tomorrow the real training begins: 2 days a week of strength; 2 days a week swimming; 2 days a week running; 2 days a week spinning; one bike trainer workout followed by a run; one long bike trainer workout. This for at least 6 weeks. Then its onto another phase. More to come on this year's plans once I get things figured out totally.
Hope everyone had a great holiday season and weekend. And now, unfortunately or fortunately, however you look at it, its back at it again tomorrow.

Friday, January 02, 2009


I'm a little slow posting on my New Year's Eve frivolities, due to computer issues at home. Here is a picture of our very own version of the ball dropping on New Year's Eve.
After spending 2 days at home confined to bed because of a flu bug that was going through the entire family, I started feeling restless and better late afternoon on December 31. Don and I had talked about going downtown to watch the ball drop, which was a very clever marketing scheme put on by the local radio stations to get people out and downtown for New Year's Eve. I wasn't sure I would dare venture too far from the bathroom until later that afternoon, so about 8:30 that evening we headed downtown. We had missed the first 2 bands that played so now realized we were going to be standing out in the cold (about 17 degrees, no wind) for the next 3.5 hours. Could we do it??
By all accounts, there were probably 20,000+ people partying on our version of Times Square, the Monroe Mall as its called. They had tents up and down the block where they were selling hot chocolate and coffee, but the bars in the area had lines up and down the block with people waiting to get in, either to get warm or as I would guess more likely to get in for beer and other drinks. No alcohol was allowed outside the bars, not that that didn't mean there weren't plenty of drunks roaming around. Don brought his "flask"--to keep warm as he put it, and me just getting over the stomach thingy wasn't in the mood for any drinking so took a water bottle filled with Sprite and one tablespoon of peach schnapps (which btw is the way to go to keep your water bottles from freezing in the winter).
For the most part, we were able to keep fairly warm, wearing layers, heavy boots, hats, me two pair of mittens, and going into the hot chocolate tents now and then, and walking down to my work building to use the bathroom. The crowd was pretty lively, and the radio DJs were doing a great job keeping people pumped up. The crowd outside was mainly families and middle school and high school kids, all with no other place to go, but it was a great time for everyone. There was a lot of dancing going on and even a woman walking around in a band uniform with a tuba probably 30 years old (the tuba), decorated with Christmas lights.
Around 11 though, things started really getting crowded, and even standing outside didn't cut the heavy cloud of cigarette smoke hanging in the air. It was also very irritating when someone up against your back would light up and then blow smoke at you. I got pretty tired of this after a while, since it got to be more and more frequent as people started coming out of the bars and crowding the mall to see the first ever New Years ball drop in Grand Rapids. I finally told Don that at 11:40, I was going to get out of the crowd and make my way to the fringes where we could still see the ball but not get caught up in the stampede when it was over. But getting out of the crowd was harder than it seemed, and by the time we broke free and got a clear space, I was exhausted, as much from the exertion as from the weakness of not eating much for a couple of days. After a while, I just cannot take crowds, and with the smoking all around us, I was starting to get a major headache. At this point too, my toes were so frozen I was afraid if someone stepped on my feet, my toes would break completely off.
At 11:59, the ball began its descent:

It was great to be at an innaugural event in our city, although I can now say "been there, done that." And after spending over 4 hours out in the cold night, I no longer have any excuses for not running outside this winter.

Thursday, January 01, 2009