Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In the Ghetto

It hasn't all been running around these parts lately.  There has been much doing of little projects and helping of the parents.  This last weekend was mostly project doing but we did manage to go the ballet on Friday night and saw four truly amazing pieces.  OK, three amazing pieces and one pretty cool one.  When I started watching ballet I preferred the more classical "tutu" ballet but now I like the more modern pieces.  They are more athletic and powerful and they give the men more to do than just hold a ballerina while she spins.  If you ever get the chance to see any of Ulysses Dove's works you really should.

But the main focus of the weekend was projects including de-ghettoing our wee, tiny "yard".  When I moved in late last summer I threw everything from my old balcony in the backyard and there it sat throughout the winter.  Our yardwork consisted of averting our gaze from the trash pit we had created.  However, now it is Spring and time to make the backyard pretty.

Here are the before pictures.  Please don't judge us for our yard o' trash and don't tell the people that run the committee for Eastsiders...they might kick us out.

Any suggestions on what to plant in the whiskey barrel?  It gets some sun where we moved it to.  Maybe an herb garden?  Then I could grow enough basil to roll around in it.

We actually got quite a lot accomplished but I don't have after photos yet because we aren't even close to a proper after picture.  We still have pavers to place under the bird feeder, the pond to dig, powerwashing and a few plants to plant.  Sadly, there will be no time this weekend to work on it.  The goal is to have it done by Memorial Day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Weekly Training Log - Week 11 or Why It's Good to Have a Race on the Schedule

If I didn't have my half-marathon coming up in five weeks there was no way two of this week's runs were going to happen.  But I do, so they did.

Monday - Four miles around the neighborhood. 

Tuesday - My first spinning class.  This was hard.  Very hard.  And it hurt my regions.  This is great cross-training though and I will be back.  Maybe someday I can increase resistance every time the instructor does.  There were a few times when my heart was willing but the legs said "no".

Friday - Now this was supposed to be a five miler Thursday night but events conspired against me and it was dark by the time I got home.  There was no way I could talk myself onto the treadmill so I said "I'll go in the morning" which usually means I don't end up going.  But with the upcoming race I knew I needed to get mileage in and couldn't go that night so I did a quick three around the neighborhood before work. 

Saturday - Four miles around the neighborhood.  Different path; hills are hard.

Sunday - Nine miles in miserable, cold, monsooning buckets of rain.  There is a quote from "The Runner's Rule Book" that says "Running any given route in the rain makes you feel 50 percent more hard core than covering the same route on a sunny day".  Ain't that the truth.  Cold, pokey, "oh hell, now it is blowing sideways off the lake", torrential, everything on my body (and it was wicking fabric) is soaked completely through and is sticking to my skin and holy crap am I miserable, kind of rain makes it at least 75 percent more hard core.  On the plus side, my pace was 30 seconds faster per mile than my Eugene race pace for last year. 

Total mileage:  20.0 (whee!  Every week lately has been a mileage PR)

Oh, I need to sing the praises of my boyfriend who was actually quite worried about me and met me at the door with a warm blanket and a hot cup of tea after I came home from Sunday's long run.  He didn't think I had dressed appropriately for the conditions and was concerned that I would get soaked (I did), chilled (I did) and be injured and have to walk back 4.5 miles to the car which would put me into a hypothermic state (I didn't and absolutely wouldn't have).  If I had been out trail running I could see the worry but running on a path by the rich folk's houses I would have been fine.  Still, it was very sweet and it did take me about 30 minutes of being wrapped in a blanket, drinking tea in front of the fireplace before I truly warmed up.  The worry was completely unnecessary but it is nice to know if it was necessary he would be there (which I already knew).  I have also been asked to take my cell-phone with me next time "just in case".  Isn't he cute?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekly Training Log - Week 10

Tuesday - 4.3 around the work neighborhood.  Thank you Daylight Savings Time for giving me more running options.
Thursday - 4 pretty speedy ones around the lake.  This one felt good.
Friday - 3 miles with 1/4 mile intervals around the work neighborhood.  This area has some of those subtle hills; the kind you don't really notice until you start running.  I probably would have met with greater success if I had gone to a track or down to the nice, flat lake.
Sunday - 8 miles!  Longest run year to date.  The first two miles were slow but I got into a rhythm and just plodded along.  Miles 7 and 8 were far and away my fastest.  I think I need to start trusting myself to go out faster at the beginning so I can get my pace down.  I am always worried that I won't have enough energy to finish if I start off too fast.  Also, maybe a dinner of movie popcorn and Swedish Fish the night before wasn't the smartest nutrional move to make.

Total mileage 19.30 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Quote of the Week

"If your main objective in a conversation is to convince someone you're not crazy then you've already lost."

This American Life
Episode 402

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Dash Race Report

Happy Race-iversary to me!  Sunday marked my seventh St. Pat's Dash and the anniversary of my very first road race as an adult; I don't count the one when I was in sixth grade.  This is the race that got me hooked on running back in 2004.  I didn't start running other races until the next year, but I still count the 2004 race as the catalyst for my love of running and (no hyperbole at all) changing my life.  Needless to say this is race is a happy event for me and for approximately 14, 999 other people too.
Stretched back as far as the eye can see.
Race day was gorgeous, unlike last year's snow/sleet/rain misery.  The sun was shining, the mountain was out, blue skies abounded, just a beautiful morning.  Since all of my usual running friends were either unable or unwilling to run the race I was on my own this year.  Kevin, being the darling boyfriend he is, decided to get up with me and come to the race for encouragement and race photography.  Not necessary but very appreciated.

I had no big expectations for the race this year.  I truly was out to have fun and enjoy the un-O'fficial start of the "running season".  I haven't seen huge increases in my speed with my training so I was merely hoping I could beat last year's time and that would be enough to make me happy.  With that in mind I crossed the start line for an easy fun run. 

The first mile was a breeze.  Bouyed along by the energy of the crowd and the beautiful morning I ran faster than I would have if I had been thinking.  But it felt easy, so I didn't worry about what pace I was doing.

The second mile is where the long, slow, subtle hill begins and continues for over the next mile.  My pace slowed on the uphill but I still felt great and knew that an uphill on one side of this course means a beautiful, blissful downhill after the turn-around at the Aurora Bridge. 

Third mile felt like flying.  I felt stronger then I had in a really long time.  That, coupled with the previously mentioned downhill (o' how I love thee) made me realize I was on track to break a 10:00 minute mile pace.  Sweet!  That would make me happy because out of 35 races I have done I have only hit single first digits for pace a handful of times.  Kind of embarassing really.  Really, really embarassing. 

The last .88 (per Garmin) were more of the last mile with the exception of the off-ramp uphill towards the finish line by EMP.  I knew I was close but I was spent and seriously thought I might have to walk that close to the finish line.  I had to push myself hard to keep myself moving up that off-ramp.

Coming up to the finish line.  The uphill is done.
Here are the totals:

Mile 1        9:48 pace
Mile 2      10:20 pace
Mile 3        9:26 pace
Mile .88     9:13 pace

Total time:  37:45
O'fficial pace:  9:54
Pace per Garmin:  9:43

Since we were in a later wave last year and they posted results based on the first wave gun time I don't have anything but my Garmin stats from last year to truly compare to.  Based on Garmin I finished 2:38 faster and shaved 40 seconds off my per mile pace from last year.  Whee!  Huh, I guess training actually works.  Who knew? 

I could not have been happier with my time.  I really didn't think I had that in me and to have it happen was a huge boost knowing that my training is paying off.

Happy, happy, happy even with dorky running hair.
By the way, my Garmin pace for the race would have netted me a shiny new PR if the race were a 5K instead of the nebulous "approximately 3.7 miles" they claim the race is.  This means, knock wood, that I should have my 5K PR in the bag for this year.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

10 Happy Reasons

This has been all running and sickness lately so I feel the need to bust out a list of small happy things that have happened in the immediate past or will happen in the immediate future.  Since I do truly believe that this really is a wonderful life here are 10 tiny recent reasons why in no particular order.
  1. NECCO is bringing back their "classic" flavors of candy hearts next year in addition to their new craptacular flavors.  Woo-hoo!
  2. I got a fabulous haircut that is the first one in a long time that I really love.  She threw on some highlights too.  A good haircut is almost as good as the knee-high, high-heeled, black boots feeling.
  3. I ran across (but luckily not over) the cutest little lizard on my run in the woods on Saturday.  I wanted to pick him up and squeeze him and take him home but realized he would quickly be eviscerated by the kitties so I left him to wander the woods in peace. 
  4. We now have a Tivo.  Tivo is good.
  5. Kevin did not electrocute himself when he drilled through an electrical wire while installing garage shelves on Saturday.  Live boyfriend + more storage = awesome.
  6. Dave Alvin (my favorite musician of all time) is coming to the The Tractor on Monday night.  It will be a great night of music, PBR and hanging out with the boys (Kevin, my bro, my friends Todd and Dan).
  7. Sunday I am running my seventh St. Patrick's Day Dash.  This was the first race I ever ran and is kind of the unofficial kick-off to the "running season".  It is very festive, throngs of people all pepped up and everybody has a good time.  Bonus:  it shouldn't be snowing this year!
  8. New sports bras.  I balk at spending good money on these but, man, what a difference quality makes.  No more permanent marks on my chest from chafing.  Also, they are bright and white and haven't taken on the grayish dinge of a thousand washes yet.
  9. Flowers, flowers everywhere. 
  10. Lady GaGa.  I am not ashamed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Telephone

Since last I wrote about my father's situation there have been two hospitalizations for some infection that they believe to be pneumonia.  Other than those two incidents and a recent decrease in appetite he doesn't seem much different.  Still, every time I see the caller ID with my parent's number I pause and take a deep breath because I dread what the call might be about.  Even though some of the calls are completely unrelated to death or cancer or illness the worst case scenario flashes through my mind right before I pick up the handset.  I am coming to dislike the phone because lately it never rings for good news. 

Weekly Training Log - Week 8

Woo-hoo!  This was my highest mileage week ever:  18 miles.  Now you can either look at this as a) Hooray, you ran more miles then ever before or b) Wow, all the years you have been running and this is seriously your biggest mileage week?  I choose option A 'cause it just is happier. 

Tuesday - 3 miles on the mill.  Thank you "Lost" for being so absorbing that I forget that I am exercising like a rodent.
Thursday - Yoga for one hour. 
Friday - Ran 4 miles; 1/2 mile warm-up, 3 miles tempo, 1/2 mile cool-down.  I still don't love my speedwork but this wasn't as dreadful as some past attempts.
Saturday - Ran 4 miles in beautiful, glorious 60 degree temps with blossoms bursting everywhere and the sweet smell of petals in the air.  The run wasn't so glorious but, man, what a beautiful day.
Sunday - 7 slow ones.  Nothing special but I wasn't feeling it and still ground them out which always feels good.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Monthly Weigh In

OK, I am weighing in weekly but I am only going to post the weight numbers once a month because I don't want to have to justify a week where there might be a gain or a smaller loss than I expected.  

Since my last blogged weigh-in on February 3 I have dropped another 3.6 pounds which brings my total weight to 171.2.  More significantly I didn't blow my progress out of the water the weekend in Vancouver.  I also discovered that my biggest trigger for eating poorly is lack of sleep.  When I am tired it is insanely hard to keep me from stuffing junk food in my face.  But I did resist this month.  My body desperately wanted me to pull through the Burger King drive-thru after work but I talked myself down.  Talked myself down the entire hour drive home.  The. Entire. Drive. Home. But I did resist.

Here are the happy totals:
Starting Weight (12/29/09): 185
Current Weight (03/03/10): 171.2
Pounds Lost: 13.8

I am setting my goal on earning the coveted Weight Watchers 10% key ring in March.  I need to work my ass off (ha!) but I think it is do-able this month. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Weekly Training Log - Weeks 6 and 7

OK, I am a little behind with these but I have (mostly) been doing the work.

Week 6
Sunday - 3 uneventful miles
Monday - 5.6 strong miles at the lake.  These felt seriously good.
Wednesday - 3.5 on the treadmill.  There were some great Olympic moments on TV that night that made this much easier.  I also did 1/4 mile intervals which I had never done on the treadmill before.  I wasn't sure I was going fast enough for the intervals but by the end my legs were getting very rubbery so I figured I did alright.
Thursday - Yoga.  Didn't get into this one; just wasn't feeling it at all.
Total weekly mileage:  12.1

Week 7
Wednesday - 6 miles at the lake.  These are faster by about 22 second per mile then the same distances this time last year.  This was one of the best runs I have had in recent memory.  The kind where you find yourself breaking into smiles and you feel like you are floating and can run forever.  *sigh*  Sadly, these can be fleeting.
Thursday - Blew off yoga class to go home and run 3 sucky treadmill miles.
Friday - 4 sucky miles.  I forgot I was supposed to be doing speedwork but there was no way my legs were going to handle it. 
Saturday - 3 marginally less crappy miles on the treadmill.  I was supposed to go 4 but the idea of one more mile on that thing and one more minute in the garage was making my skin crawl so I called it a night.

Total weekly mileage:  16

I really need to get my running days spread out because I know that I am not as effective if I bunch them all together.  Besides, that just seems like an injury waiting to happen.  Hopefully after this week (where I overbooked myself again) I can get into a more reasonable running rhythm.  Also maybe start the cross-training I have been neglecting.

Week 8 should be a new weekly mileage record for me.  Woo-hoo!