Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Race season is over

I didn't run the 5-mile Pumpkin Run on Sunday, and I won't be running the 5k this weekend. I decided that I'd rather take a short break now and get some PT, in hopes that I can really get over this and have a good season next year. I went to the lovely and talented Benta today, who has worked wonders on just about every body part I have over the years. She determined that it was a localized problem, nothing related to hips or back. We did some ultrasound and massage, some gentle stretches, and she told me what I should and shouldn't do over the next few weeks. (Should: do core and strength training, any workout that doesn't hurt, lots of stretching. Shouldn't: run for a while.) I'll go back a few times and let her do all the wonderful things she does, and hope that I can start up again soon. She encouraged me to do longer warm-ups and cooldowns when I do workout, not my usual 60 seconds of stretching and then plopping down in front of the computer! So no PR this week, but I'll be ready for all kinds of new records next year!

And congratulations to all the blogathletes who competed at SOMA last weekend - I am in such admiration of all of you, whether or not you finished!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wimp: A meditation.

"Wimp" is one of those words that starts to lose its meaning if you say it over and over and over: wimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimp wimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimp. I realized tonight that this word has had a strange power over me, for my entire life -- just about every athletic experience I've ever had has been defined by it. Either I've been fighting against the word, or succumbing to it:

Wimp: my entire childhood, when the other kids seemed naturally strong and coordinated - I was the only one who couldn't climb the rope, make it over the wall, or run the full length of the field without having to stop and gasp for air.

Wimp: 9th grade, when I was the worst player on my soccer team, because I was afraid of getting kicked. (I watch my daughter and her friends in awe at their physical bravery!) I didn't join the team again the following year.

Not Wimp: playing basketball in my early 20's, with the guys from the 'hood in Brooklyn - I felt great mixing it up under the boards.

Not Wimp: a 4-day solo hike across Isle Royale, on the tough rocky Minong trail - the whole summer I was a park ranger (this was 1987) I'd heard terrifying tales of it, and finally decided I had to do it.

Wimp: the hundreds - thousands - of times over the years I've said 'I am going to work out today' and then found a reason not to do it.

Wimp: age 30-something, visiting my distinctly non-wimpish friend in Cape Cod on Memorial Day weekend, she and her equally macho husband leap into the frigid surf and laugh and me for not having the guts to jump in too.

Not wimp: training for a triathlon and doing it. But - wimp: needing the boat to paddle along side me so I could finish.

Wimp: tonight. I decided to take a dance class on Thursday nights and tonight was the first one. I used to dance seriously, but other than Pilates I haven't done much dancing in nearly a decade. But between the class and yesterday's weights and core workout, I was tired and sore. I ate too much dinner (my eating lately is the subject of another whole post) and decided to go home. But, then:

Not Wimp: at the last second, I turned into the parking lot instead of driving on by. And:

Wimp: sat in my car for 5 minutes thinking about whether to go home after all. I was cold and the pool has been much cooler lately. Somehow:

Not Wimp: I reminded myself why I had signed up for this club - that I want to get better at swimming for a reason. So walked into the building, and stood alone in the locker room, feeling how cold it was. I was the first one there, and I hoped nobody else would show up. But they did and shamed me (nicely enough) into not wimping out. I got in the pool, muddled along for 30 minutes, freezing all the while. Then in a sprint, I reinjured the hamstring I've been trying to baby along. (By the way, no race this weekend, and maybe not next weekend -I don't want to make this worse.) So I got out 15 minutes early, hit the showers and went home. Wimp.

I am a big believer in reframing - that technique where you realize that the way you have been looking at a situation is not serving you, so you change your beliefs about it. For example, every time you say "should" to yourself, you turn it into "could" - just about ever sentence in which it appears is so much gentler and kinder that way!

So how can I reframe this wimp/not a wimp dichotomy? Nobody else thinks of me that way - why must I view myself through such a harsh, unforgiving lens? Where did it come from?

Or, how about this: wimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimp ... I should keep saying it til it loses all meaning - so it will lose all its power over me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


For months, maybe since the spring, I've had a very sore muscle in the upper rear of my left thigh. not sure if it's a glute or whatever muscle is just below it, but it's not getting better and it really slows me down because it's hard to kick. I never fully warm up even after 20 or 30 minutes. I ordered one of those foam rollers- maybe it will help. I tried to do a "long slow run" today - to contrast with the shorter faster bursts. I was slow alright and did manage to do 30 straight minutes without stopping to walk, on a course with some rolling hills. But I only covered 2.33 miles in that time - nearly 13 minutes/mile. (12.87 to be precise.) (Then I ran and walked the rest of the way home, about another half mile.) I know I keep whining about being slow, but I feel like I should be able to do more after this whole season - go farther, if not faster. b

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another race planned!

The 5-mile "Pumpkin Run" in Kent is next Sunday, one week before the 5K on the Rail Trail. This one is rolling hills, not flat - a great last "long run" before the other one. My goals: to beat my 5-mile record from May, and if possible, do it in 1:00 flat - 12-minute miles. Then for the 5K, I think I'll be really ready to go a bit faster!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hard Swim!

Last week, Master's Swim was canceled because of a lightning storm - only the lifeguard knew not to come, so the rest of us waited for about a half-hour, including the coach, before we gave up. Two of our team tried to sneak back in and swim, but Coach Bob suspected their plan, and caught them - they ran screaming back to the locker room like a couple of teenagers. (We're talking about women in their 50's!)

This week, Coach Bob gave us a 1,300 yard workout (we have an hour.) We had warmups, some laps of crawl, breast and backstroke, some laps of kickboard and pull thingy, and then some speed laps. I wasn't able to finish it all - I only did about 1,100 yards, but that's still the longest, and farthest, I've ever gone. Once again, I'm the slowest person in the room/on the team... but it's all about my personal best, right? Coach Bob said he could see real improvement (i.e. I've given up my Total Immersion technique and am starting to get the hang of what he wants me to do) but I still feel like I'm thrashing around and sinking. (For one moment I felt a flow, but I couldn't keep it up.) But I have 9 months til my next triathlon - I WILL get the hang of this!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Negative split...and a thought

I did my first training run for my 5k today - 2.5 miles on the rail trail with my daughter. I did a 6 minute warmup, then the fastest half-mile I could (10:34 pace!), another slow jog for another 1/2 mile or so, another, faster half-mile (10 minute pace even - fastest ever!) and jogged home. I'd thought it was closer to 3 miles but my google map said only 2.55 - the total with rests, walks, and waiting for Ella to take some sips of water from my bottle left me at 37 minutes total. I'll have to do a lot better than that in 16 days if I'm going to make my goal! (Of course I'll have race adrenaline going.)

One thing I've realized is: when I used to run in my 20's, I'd do the Manufacturers Hanover Corporate Challenges in Central Park, which were 3.5 miles. I was always amazed to see people run a half-mile or more to warm jup, before they started the race. I couldn't imagine doing that - I thought I'd use up my energy and have too little left to race. Now I see how much a difference it makes to be thoroughly warmed up - I can go much faster after I've jogged 5 or even 10 minutes. Maybe it's my age - I remember reading how it took Edward Villela an hour and a half to warm up when he was in his 50's - but he could still dance as well once he'd done so, as he ever did.

And here's my thought for the day: some of my favorite athlete's blogs, like Athena Diaries, talk about a lot more than training and racing. Mine stays closely focused on my training, in part because I don't feel like I can talk about problems at work or anything else "real" because I'm not anonymous on this blog - everyone who knows me knows about it, and it would take about 10 seconds for any random person to figure out my real name and where I live. (Not that I fool myself that any one I know them actually reads it!) Maybe I just need to get over this reticence, as it might be a much more interesting blog to read (or write!) if I talk about more than just miles and gear and training!

New Goal!

I found out about a 5K race that's in 2 1/2 weeks - Novemer 30. It's on the Rail Trail, so is almost perfectly flat. It seems like a great opportunity to try a new goal: run faster. So far, in all my races this year (all 4 of them) I've run slower than 12-minute miles (or WAY slower, as the case may be!) but there's no reason I can't do better than that now. So - my training for the next 20 days will focus on the run, with lots of speedy intervals, thinking about form and quick foot turnover. From what I've read, if I do two workouts with intervals, and two longer slower runs each week, that will help build speed and endurance.

So: I would like to run the entire 5K without walking, in, let's say, under 35 minutes. That's ambitious but not impossible! I will get out there today (with my 5 - year - old on her bike, most likely) and see how I do as a starting point!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Road Bike! What a feeling!

I took my new vintage Univega to Berkshire Bike and Board today to see what it needed to be roadworthy. As we looked at it closely, it seemed that almost everything was in like-new condition - new tires, chain was not stretched, brake pads unworn. We filled the tires and there were no leaks. I bought a new seat (the old one was trashed) - I got the kind designed for women, with a convenient cutaway in the middle. I also got a floor pump with a gauge and some chain lube - I did zero maintenance on my old bike all summer - never even checked the tires - so it was about time. (I also got a big can of Cliff Shot drink and some chocolate mint gu's - I'll report back on those shortly!)

So just now I took it for a brief spin - just near the house, probably no more than 2 miles total, up and down a few medium hills. I was concerned about 2 things: that you can only sit in the all-the-way down position, as the brake levers are set down at the bottom, and that it only has 12 gears - I'm used to the upright mountain bike position, and I rely on granny gear on my Trek, which has 21 gears. The gears weren't a problem for the short hills I did - I felt an amazing amount of power and speed, compared to the old bike. The riding position will get very tiring, though - after only 10 minutes my hands and arms were starting to feel it. I guess I'll build up the mileage slowly, and get some gloves.

Another concern will be shifting - the shifters are on the down tube and they don't move easily so I'll have to have one hand off the handlebars and really put some force into shifting - it threw me off balance a bit.

The whole thing felt so different - I felt the road differently - it was stiffer, maybe? I felt the bumps more, but not in a bad way. The seat was interesting - much narrower than on the trek, but I think I'll like it. The cutout definitely helps! (I wasn't wearing bike shorts or any padding.) And it was FAST - I felt I could really get up some speed on the downhills, if I let myself (which I didn't.) I haven't put a computer on it yet - I figured I'd wait to make sure i like it before I add stuff to it. But I think I want to ride it for a few months - as long as I can this fall and next spring - to really give it a chance before I put down money on those Giant OCR3''s or 2's I've been coveting. So I guess I should move my seat bag, bottle holder and computer over!

Any suggestions for getting used to the position, or softening the stress on my hands and arms? Or do I just have to toughen up?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

New Vintage bike!

My sister in law scored a Univega Sportour at a garage sale for about $10 a while back. It was too big for her so she never rode it, and now she's given it to me. I was curious to find out more about it - is it any good? So I posted a query and photos on BikeForums to see what information I coudl gather. Evidently it's considered quite decent bike, with some good components - not a bottom of the line bike at all. Different people have given a range of suggestions about what I should do with it, of course! (Swap out components vs keep what I've got, etc.)

(Thread and photos here:

It's probably from the very early 1980's, and needs some minor tuning up to be road worthy. I'm going to fix it up (hopefully for less than $100 all told including a new lady-friendly saddle and tires/tubes) and see how it feels to ride a road bike - even try to make it my competition bike for next season. It should be better than my Trek Antelope mountain bike, and a fair bit cheaper than any new or late-model I could buy. Should be fun!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Race report - Harvest Heart 10k

So ... what is there to say, really? It was really hard. I know I'm supposed to be happy and proud and all, but for some reason I'm really bummed at how slow I was. Just under 13 minute miles, on average. Partly I never tried to go fast, because I wanted to make sure I finished and didn't burn out too soon (like the guy who quit after mile 2.) Partly I was still a little sore and achy from Friday's stupid workout. But mostly, I'm just REALLY SLOW. I've been doing some speed work but obviously I need to do more. My fastest mile was the first, at 11:19 or so. My next-fastest was the 3rd (or was it the 4th) at 11:46. The others were well over 12, and the last one was a full 17 minutes.

Me, post-race.

It wasn't the weather - it was cool and cloudy for most of the time. The sun came out and I got pretty warm by the end, but I was never overheated.

Maybe it was the hills. I mapped this course and compared it to the Sharon Classic. For the first five miles they were almost identical in elevation change -- total climb 269 feet today, 265 in Sharon - I don't think that 4 feet took 2 minutes off my time!

Maybe it was race prep. I ate eggs and toast at 8am, and a peanut butter sandwich on multigrain around 10:3o. I addeed a pria powerbar at 11, and had about 4 glasses of water over the course of the morning. I had half a bottle of off-the-shelf accelerade in the minutes leading up to the start, and a chocolate (caffeinated) gu. I drank plenty on the way, too, and had a second gu at about the 4th mile. I never felt hungry, nor overfull,

Maybe it was carrying that water bottle on my back - it feels heavy, even half-empty, and throws off my balance. I've ordered the one with the 4 little bottles that are distributed evenly around the body - we'll see how that one is.

My knees were OK, my shoes didn't bother me. I had some decent tunes playing (K.T. Tunstall's new album has great running songs!) So - no excuses, I just ran slower.

But - attitude adjustment needed: I just ran a 10k race - something I never even dreamed of before this year.
Maybe it's time to get a coach! (Oh, and this winter will be a good time to rearrange and redecorate the blog - now that I'm clearly in this for the blong haul might as well make it look a little nicer!)

Mission Accomplished!

I'll post more later but I finished the 10k, feeling strong. I'd thought my pace at 5 miles was faster than the Sharon Classic in May, but in fact I was 2 minutes slower - a bit of a surprise. Total time at 6.2 miles: 1:20. (DFL, but there was DNF too, a college-age guy who had started out running with his buddies, but quit sometime after mile 2 - I think he was just completely out of shape.)

Gotta run (limp) now but I'll post a picture and a complete race report tonight.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What was I THINKING???

Yesterday, I headed out for a last, pre-race run. I hadn't run in over a week (after some great training before that.) I stopped by the gym on my way out, to sign up for spin next week, and saw that a cross-training class was about to begin. I decided to join in, instead of run, figuring I'd get a great workout and it would be more fun. It was fun, but it was incredibly hard and worked muscles I evidently never use - especially core and arms/shoulders. (She did TONS of very challenging moves from plank position.) I am SORE today - achy and miserable, so much so that I'm not sure if I'm actually coming down with something (my throat hurts too, but I've had chronic congestion from allergies lately, so it could be that.) So - I don't know how best to prepare for the race in the next 24 hours. Soak in a bath? Do a short run? (Coolrunning's beginner 10k training plan says to do 2 miles the day before the race.) Sleep and take ibuprofen? I just want to finish tomorrow - I've never run that distance and my training wasn't very focused on this since I just found out about it last week. Any advice?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bike lust

For the first time, I actually rode a road bike yesterday. I've been thinking about them, browsing the catalogs, websites, and ebay, and generally wishing vaguely that one would just come into my life somehow. But I've always assumed that I'd have to spend real money to get something good - that the bottom of the line, $650 model just wouldn't do. But yesterday, with a little time to kill, I wandered into Berkshire Bike and Board, asking if they had any used road bikes. They had one, which was too big and not very nice, but the nice man brought out a Giant OCR3w (w = women's frame) - carbon fork, 21 (or maybe 24?) speeds, Tiagra shifters, pretty blue color. After a moment's hesitation, I climbed aboard for a quick ride and, WOW. What a difference. My ride now is a 1990 Trek Antelope mountain bike. It weighs about a thousand pounds. I knew that made it hard to lift, but I had no idea how much easier it is to ride up a hill when you're not dragging all the heavy bike with you. Those skinny tires... the easy quick shifting from any position....the riding position on the Giant is adjustable - I can start more upright and then lower the stem as I get more accustomed to the road bike position (and then I can replace it with a fixed stem to save more weight later.) The leg and foot positioning felt like it gave me way more power. And I was surprised at how comfortable I felt. I WANT IT! It's only $650... I know there is a way to make this bike happen for me by next season!

I'm excited!

I learned that there is a 10k race in town this weekend! I'm totally signing up - it's the one challenge I'd set for myself early in the season that I hadn't done. I'm really not ready - I haven't run more than 4-ish, flattish miles since June or so. But I'm doing it anyway! I'll just do a 4:1 or 5:1 run/walk the whole way and I'll get there! It's Sunday, 1pm - let's hope for fine weather!