Monday, September 30, 2013

When You Can't Breathe, Nothing Else Matters

Sand dunes at riding into Provincetown

"When you can't breathe, nothing else matters....." - American Lung Association

This past weekend was the American Lung Association's Autumn Escape Bike Trek across Cape Cod.  Three days, 160 miles.  Jedi and I signed up for two of the three days, as a very generous Legos agreed to watch the kiddos for the weekend.  No trailers allowed on a 100 mile trip!  This was also to be our first ever overnight trip without the kids.  In nearly six years of parenthood.  Yikes.  We joked that we were so desperate for time away that we were willing to ride our bikes for hours a day and sleep in dorm with my coworkers to do it.  Yes, the Trek is put on by my company, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, as the main sponsor.
[Part of] Team Sunovion

Before I get into details, I have to say that this was an amazing and inspirational experience.  The ALA the major nonprofit supporting research and advocacy for all kinds of lung diseases.  Cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis - their scope is huge.  They have been major defenders of the Clean Air Act, and instrumental in lobbying for stricter laws for tobacco manufactures - raising taxes on cigarettes and restriction advertising to ensure children don't ever try their first drag.  They fund research that has significant advanced the treatment of these conditions.  It is amazing.

Even more amazing were some of the people we saw on the Trek.  One team, riding for Alpha-1, a genetic variety of COPD, had members riding on supplemental oxygen.  The keynote speaker on Saturday was a 33 year old man recently diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.  He rode all 160 miles.  It was just not possible to not be inspired.

Luggage vans in Brewster

I'm also going to take a brief step up on the soapbox and say that I'm pretty impressed with my company and our team as well.  The pharmaceutical industry is widely villainized in popular culture as being greedy, devious billionaires who will do anything to make a buck - especially harming patients.  I've worked in pharma for over a decade, and I have not seen a single instance of this kind of behavior.  My coworkers have always genuinely cared the patients that we are working to serve.  America's health system is flawed, true, but the truth is that without development companies, there would be no new medicines.  The cost to develop new treatments is so unbelievable staggering, with so many moving parts, that it is a small miracle that any companies are still in business. Those of us who do depend on them for our livelihood, we do so knowing that we are working to help people.  Like the nearly 60 riders and volunteers from Sunovion that raised money (bake sale - yup!) and gave their time and lots of sweat to the Trek, on top of the substantial corporate check written to the ALA.  I don't own a jet plane - maybe it'll be in my next paycheck, but I don't think so....
The wound

So anyway, back to the story.  Our weekend got off to a rocky start, as our little girl took a header down (up?) the stairs the morning of school picture day.  The result - quickly stashing the little dude with Gypsy, a trip to the ER, and three stitches.  Very important advice now.  Are you listening?  Never, EVER, watch your child being sutured.  Even if you think you can handle it.  You can't.  She was so brave - she didn't move her head at all, but I was holding her hands and holding her down, and she was shaking so hard.  She was so scared.  Ah!!!

Of course four hours later she was fine and running with me (yes, a nice two mile run for her after a morning in the ER), and I was still a wreck.  A wreck that took Girl's Night a little too far, so headed into the Trek a little sub-optimal.

All better

Legos carrying BOTH kids around the orchard.
Guess that boot camp stuff works!
We stayed overnight at my parent's, then in the morning headed out to the Cape to meet up with the riders in Sandwich, MA.  Legos would come collect the munchkins from my parents at a more reasonable hour of the day, as we had to leave by 6:30 to make it to the 8:30 start.  As it was, we were still getting packed, pumped, and prepped when most of the riders left the camp.

First Day - 57 miles Sandwich to Brewster

The weather could not have been more gorgeous.  The previous year of the Trek, it poured down rain.  While I was not there to experience it directly, many team members were and said it was one of the most miserable experiences ever.  I can imagine.  (And they came back!  See?  Dedication....)  As it was, we can clear skies and sunshine the whole way.  In the back of the pack, we spent the first couple of hours slowly overtaking folks and enjoying the scenery.  The route, being on Cape Cod, is mostly flat.  Around the 30 mile point, we caught up with some of my team members, which brought us into the part of the ride where you can choose to go 40 or 60 miles.  With some good-natured ribbing, we all blocked the entrance to the 40 mile route in time for some other team members, including our team captain, to make the turn onto the longer route.  The last 20 miles is all on a bike path.  Very pretty, though stopping ever half a mile or so to cross a road did break our rhythm a bit.  Full disclosure - Jedi did also make fun of me for trying to keep up with some of the guys on the team that were obviously pacing a good 4-5 mph above my ability.  Whatever.  A girl can dream....

40 miles at SAG in Chatham
The last SAG stop was at a beach in Chatham - the view was breathtaking.  As were the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I had the best bag of corn chips on the planet.  Bonus of exercise #374 - everything tastes amazing.  At this point, we were starting to tire.  Jedi said that he felt like, were this a training ride, he'd stop.  Sadly we still had about 20 miles left, the first five coming out of the SAG stop were uphill.  Oof.  By some cosmic coincidence, the day's route was about 57 miles - just the same as the bike leg in a 70.3  This fact was weighing heavy on my mind (and legs) as we slogged toward the end.  Not one to let it go, Jedi asked me "So are you going to run a half marathon when we get there?"  No one likes a smartass, sweetie....  But make it we did, motivated by the Mexican food that I knew was catered for us.  

Will ride for burritos

In addition to a sore bum and tired legs, the pain my foot that I had previously assumed was PF had gone from annoying to full-on painful.  Once we stuffed ourselves with beans and guacamole, we sought out the medical tent to retape my sore paw.  Now the top of my foot felt badly bruised and putting weight on it was difficult.  The team beer chest served as treatment - providing muscle relaxant internally and ice packs for the outside.  Lobster dinner for all the trekkers, some fabulus brownies, and some time around the campfire getting to know all my team members rounded out the night.  No romance you ask?  Well, our accommodations were bunk beds.  In a room that was also a hallway.  Please save your jokes regarding who was on the top [bunk] - they were all made around the fire.  We did have a nice long sit on the beach.  That was probably our most romantic moments - the water was beautiful, the day perfect, and after the bustle and bad DJ music blaring in the camp, the rest was welcome.

Brewster Beach

Sobrero = sunhat

Swim area?  Really?

The start for the second (and shorter) day was 8:00 am, and there were tires to pump, breakfast to inhale (seriously - it is amazing how hungry you can get on these rides!), luggage to pack and get on the right van, and yet another team picture to take.

Day 2 - 42 miles Brewster to Provincetown

Despite a deep and abiding desire to NOT sit on a bike seat again, our second days' ride started much more nicely.  We were ready to go with everyone, and for the first 18 miles traveled in a foursome consisting of Jedi, me, and two other teammates, including the other more-than-one day woman rider.  I'd done a training ride with her previously - friends called her Crazy Karen with reason.  She is hysterical to ride with.  A blast.  The first part of the ride was again on the bike path, and with so much traffic, we were like so many seagulls from Finding Nemo calling out "Runner up!", "Rider Back!""Bump", "Hole!", "Slowing!", "Clear!" and the occasional "Puppy Up!" thrown in.  I'm all for bike safety, but with several hundred riders on the same path, all drafting within a bike length of eachother, you have to wonder if it was necessary for us all to repeat absolutely everything...

At the SAG stop at mile 18 we met up with a bunch more team mates that were ahead.  After yet more photos and some sour jelly beans (another great find of the trip) we set off again.  The following section is the only truly hilly part of the whole two day route.  My legs were happy to let the faster riders take off, and Mike and I dropped back into a steady 15 mph pace along winding backroads.  It was the second-most "date like" part of our trip, and would have been truly romantic, if only my foot hadn't begun to hurt past the point of being able to ignore it.  I could feel every pedal stroke as a dull throb and every bump as a shock of pain.  Finally, pushing up a steep hill, the pressure on my foot hurt so badly I had to stop with tears in my eyes.  We walked up to the top of the hill, loosened up my shoe and took a few deep breaths.  I ended up totally unclipping my foot and pedaling on that side all with my heel, which made it possible to keep going but even harder to climb.  We rode the next 13 miles without saying a word, me ahead and Jedi one bike's length behind.  We rolled into the SAG stop at mile 33 and Jedi promptly accosted a medic that we would learn later had only stopped there to use the restroom.  Cheers to the hypocratic oath (or whatever), because she nicely gave me 2 ibuprofen (just 2?) and taped up my foot tightly.  I told her I was finishing - with 8 miles to go that wasn't even a question.  She also agreed that it was probably a stress fracture, and dutifully read me the riot act about resting it once I was done with my current shenanigans.....

Worker's comp on a Sunday??

The last 8 miles were my favorite of the whole trek.  We'd caught up with the bulk of my team at the SAG stop, and we all headed out together.  The first part was back on the bike path, but unlike previous sections, it was poorly maintained.  Bumpy and with long sections of sand.  Our cries of "bump!" and "Hole!" quickly became swearing passed down the line and lots of laughter as we all gamely held onto our handbars for dear life.  We finished off on Rt. 6 into Provincetown - a beautiful section of highway with the dunes in the distance.  One long line of Sunovion jerseys.  The guy in the back even switched on his IPhone and took a video riding by all of us up to the front.  Safe?  No.  But I can't wait to see the video.  

One of our riders finishes and grabs his medal from his pregnant wife,
who volunteered the whole weekend

The last bit you can only appreciate if you are cheesy like me.  If you like unrealistic happy endings of movies where the down-and-out kids win the championship, or the ugly girl gets crowned prom queen while all the cheerleaders do a flashmob.  Our team captain, who has done SO much work for the trek over the last months, rode to the head of the line and we all pedaled into the finish chute more or less two-by-two abreast while some inspirational song (no wait, I think it was Gagnum Style) blared on the radio.  We all got medals.  More group pictures.  More cheering as the rest of our team came in.  It was awesome - I was on top of the world.  While waiting for our teammates to all come in, we saw parents finish with their kids on tandem bikes.  More riders with oxygen tubes in their noses.  It was incredible.  Impossible to not be moved.

At the finish!

The aftermath..... once we rounded everyone up, we walked (I hobbled) to a nearby pub for more medically necessary beer and what was truly the best cheeseburger ever, then a very long bus ride back to our cars, drive back to get the kids, and drive home.  The kids had a ball with Legos and her family - they didn't want to leave.
Blondie popsicles

What's gonna work?  Teamwork!
Once we got home, we had to clean my daughter's stitches and bandage up my son, who through no fault of Legos, took a bit of a tumble and scraped himself pretty good.  Pain pills and more bandages for me.  Our little team family is pretty banged up.  As I write this now, I am 100% sure that my foot is broken.  Not badly, but enough that I am taking at least a week if not two off from all training.  I and feeling fairly hostile toward running as a sport at the moment.  While my foot did go from bad to worse on this ride, I'm sure that it was running that caused the initial injury.  After riding 57 miles on similar terrain as the Patriot 70.3 would be, I did not feel at all inclined to run.  I might have been able to run a few miles, but that's it.  So I don't know what's next.  Major Taylor metric century ride in a week is OUT.  I'm actually feeling like it would be great to do more of these long distance charity rides, rather than tris.  Crazy Karen did the Ride for the Cure for diabetes research this year - her description of the 5 day ride through Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont sounds incredible.  Some day I would also love to do the PanMass Challenge for the Jimmy Fund.  This weekend was just so incredible - I will be back next year for sure.  As for triathlon?  Registration for Patriot 70.3 opens tomorrow, but Gypsy and I have both agreed to wait a few weeks and see how I'm healing, how she is feeling, and go from there.  There is always the Aquabike....


If you have been amused, moved, or at all entertained by this post, please consider donating to the ALA - fundraising for the Trek is open until October 25th, 2013.  Just click this link to be taken to my fundraising site.  Thank you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Would You, Could You, In the Woods?

Ship Harbor Nature Trail, Acadia National Park 

"Try not to fight the trail.  Instead, try to feel the natural rhythm, the flow... and rather than attempting to conquer it, practice becoming one with it."   ~ Zen Running

This is why I love trail running.  I love being outside - love being in the woods.  I love the scenery, the sounds of the birds, squirrels crossing my path and the wind in the trees.  I love the feel.  I love how being forced to look for every footfall makes the run feel like a video game rather than exercise - it makes it FUN.  And I don't feel the pressure of pace.  The Garmin stays home.  Shush Garmin.  Whatever pace I am running is just fine.  Instead of another mile to finish as fast as possible, a trail run is about spending time outside and being part of something bigger than yourself.  Losing yourself.

How I feel on the trail
I'm still at that awkward place in my running training where my mind hasn't 100% caught up with the fact that my body can do it.  Running on the roads or treadmill seems very mechanical.  I have to keep and eye on my numbers - so many numbers.  Distance, time, pace, heart rate.... and what is there to look at really?  The treadmill screen?  Actually at my gym the treadmill screen will show me a video of running through some of the best trails in the world - like New Zealand and Arches National Park.  Best treadmill ever - it's a big part of what I joined that gym (and the pool).

I'm also at the point in my running where a 10K is fine, but any distance longer than 6 miles seems impossible.  Daunting.  Insane.  Which really, is silly, as six months ago I couldn't run a single mile, and three months ago 3 miles was a stretch.  So how do I get over this hump?  As we all know, a good portion of training is mental - not physical.  Once this pesky PF calms down, I'll be good to go again.

I'm remembering how trail running got me past my last mental hurdle - 3 miles.  We were on vacation in Acadia National Park earlier this summer.  We go there as often as we can - the hiking, biking the carriage roads, kayaking - it's just about paradise for the outdoor fan.  My first time was when I was a graduate student in my first Master's - a degree in Wildlife Biology that I got for the sole purpose of spending an additional 4+ years playing outside until I had to get a real job.  I've made it back nearly every year since.

In grad school - I like to get muddy
This summer I turned what was one of our favorite hikes with the kids into a three mile trail run.  For those familiar, it's the Ship Harbor Nature Trail and Wonderland Trail strung together into a three mile loop.  This was one of the first runs in my life I can honestly say I enjoyed.  The trails snake through the forest and out along the coastline.  You smell the cedar trees, you can see eider ducks and cormorants in the waves.  It was early morning so I was alone - I felt like I had the entire national park to myself.  Magical.

Later in the same trip I'd run another 4 miler along Ocean Path - a walking/hiking trail that follows the sea cliffs from Sand Beach to Otter point.  I remember stopping to take a photo of how far (because 1.5 miles was far then) I'd run:

From the beach to here and back

I began to think I might like this running thing after all some day.  Of course the gorgeous venue was a big factor.  After all - how many inspirational quotes do you see on Pinterest that aren't in some beautiful remote trail in Nepal or the Canadian Rockies?  There's a reason, folks.  Being out in nature is one of the most therapeutic and meaningful pursuits a human being can do.

This quote wouldn't hit
you so hard if he were
running down Main St.
Which brings me back to my earlier point.  How do I get past my fear of 6+ miles?  The answer might be the same - do them in the woods.  There is a 5.3 or 10 mile trail run in nearby Callahan State Park in November.  About 6 weeks away.  CSP was a regular stomping ground for the Jedi and I when we were dating.  I know its trails pretty well - it is a nice place.  Certainly the sort of place where, if I were to take on a ten miler, I would like to do so.  So will I?  It remains to be seen.....  I will definitely be eyeing the weather.  Aaaaaaand maybe I'll train up to that distance over the next few weeks.  Just in case.  Now to find another running buddy to do it with me....

This one WOULD make more sense on Main St. though....

Monday, September 23, 2013

How We Measure Change - Auburn Rocket 10K Race Recap

Gypsy and I ready to toe the starting line

Yesterday's race was the Auburn Rocket Race - a 5 or 10K to benefit a local town's youth center.  I ended up at this race with my best tri buddy Gypsy, as she is 3 weeks out from rocking her first half marathon, and a 10K race was in her schedule.  After my last race, I was having demented fantasies of signing up for an olympic distance triathlon on this weekend for lots of time and money I didn't possess, so she suggested I come out to this nice little local race instead.  Wisdom.

The only concern headed into this race was the weather.  80-90% chance of rain, said the internet.  At 4:00 am on race morning, I was awoken by my scaredy-cat shoving her whiskers in my face, shaking and asking for pets because she was scared of the absolute monsoon that was going on outside.

I've never been a huge fan of running in the rain.  Nice soft rain, sure.  But the kind that gets you soaked to the skin and freezing within seconds - forget it.  I casually emailed Gypsy the night before about the weather, and her response was, "Yup, it looks crummy.  So I'll pick you up at 8:40..."  No reprieve there.  I woudl expect nothing less from her :)  So I tossed and turned and worried until it was time to get up, and brought all possible combinations of clothing, headgear, and electronics to the race.

Luckily, by the time we got there, it wasn't raining.  It was just cold.  There was a kids race beforehand - the kids were really cute but looked more or less all pretty miserable and bored in the cold and wet.  I was happy I left my gang home in their jammies.  We got registered (I had a little hysterical hiccup when they asked me 5 or 10? and I said 10K!), undressed into our running clothes, and to the starting line, where.....

What's the yellow thing breaking the clouds?

The SUN came out just as the gun went off.  Making what was supposed to be a cold, wet, run a hot steamy and sunny run.  My arm warmer came off pretty fast (the other was stuck under my arm strap.  Oh well).  At one point another girl, also wearing black, was running with me and said, "drywick my *ss!"  To which I replied, "No kidding - this is like running in a microwave!".  Steam was boiling off the blacktop the whole way.
Sunny steamy run

The course was rolling hills, and very pretty.  The second half of the run was downhill, except for one long uphill at mile 5.  Overall I was very pleased with my run - I kept a steady pace just under 10 most of the time.  I travelled with a group that kept leapfrogging eachother.  I was able to open up my stride on the downhills to gain ground (yay for healing hips!) and stayed strong on the uphills - even the one at Mile 5.  Never even close to walking.

My phone chirped 6.2 miles at exactly one hour.  I was nowhere near the finish line - turns out the course is actually somewhere between 6.4 (MapMyRide), 6.6 (Gypsy's Garmin), and 6.9 (my IPhone).  So I finished in 1:06 and change - which is the same as the Running of the Wolves 10K I did last month. That course was actually 6.2, so I call this an improvement.  Despite of not feeling 100%, Gypsy also finished fifth for the women, which as usual for her, totally rocks.  As a bonus, I ended up running into the chute to R.E.M's "It's the End of the World As We Know It", a song that will forever and always remind me of my coach, the Sheriff (childhood story - it's cute I swear).  It was Sheriff's birthday, so I was able to text him happy birthday and tell him I finished a sub-hour 10k to "our" song.

As usual, the conversation in the car on the way home revolved around our  planned 70.3, how we are going to get there, and how far we've come.  Every athlete has a different experience, and we are no exception.  Without over-sharing personal details, we both see the change in eachother more strongly than we can in ourselves.

Change has been on my mind a lot lately.  This morning I kissed my four-year-old son goodbye for work and saw the he was perfectly coloring in a pretty intricate firetruck in one of his coloring books.  When did he learn to do that?  My daughter can actually read several words in many of her books, which is new in the last few weeks (yay kindergarten!).  This morning I stepped on the scale (which I haven't done in weeks) to find that somehow I've hit my "vanity" weight.  That number on the scale I never expected to see again, and haven't done much to bring about.  How did that happen?

My biggest demon is mental, not physical - stress, anxiety - has ruled my life since I was a baby.  My mom will tell you I had my first panic attack at 18 months.  She's probably right.  A few days ago I was railing at the Jedi (and my mom, and Scarecrow....) that nothing I do seems to make any difference for this demon.  I started a cake business to have a creative outlet - no less crazy.  I became a triathlete (exercise is good for that, right?) - no less crazy.  I can't see (feel) the difference.  Jedi says he can, but I have trouble measuring any change.  Friends still tell me that I must never sleep because of the number of activities I'm into.  Which isn't true - thanks to modern medicine I sleep very well.  Most of the time.  But I get the sentiment - my post-race "cool-down" was making a scarecrow with the kids, gardening for a couple of hours, doing fall crafts with the kids, and making dinner.

Making scarecrows
So how do we really see change in ourselves?  When it's something like the ability to run nearly seven miles, or pace, or weight, it's easy.  But what about things you can't measure, like happiness?  Or mental health?  Maybe the first step is in how we chose to describe ourselves.  Because really, it's not that I'm crazy.  It's that I like to do crafts with my kids.  And the truth is that while the kids and Jedi would eat quesadillas five nights a week, I like to have a nice dinner, especially at the end of long days.  That's not me being crazy - that's me doing what makes me happy.

Apple stamping

Gypsy and I might be described as crazy for attempting to swim bike and run 70.3 miles, but it's not crazy to us.  So maybe if I stopped accepting that label and using it, I'd be able to see when a run makes me sleep better.  Or a long bike ride on a crisp afternoon makes me feel like all is right in the world.  Or crafting with my kids and seeing how different they are every day makes me incredibly proud to be their mom.  I can measure my weight with a scale, my heart rate with my HRM, my mileage, my pace, my calendar, and so many other aspects of life.  But there isn't a good way to measure my thoughts - and those thoughts make up so much of how I choose to perceive myself and the world around me.  If only I could buy a "negative thought counter" on Amazon I'd be perfect!!  Patent pending... I'll make a fortune!

If you're gonna run close to 7 miles, it might as well be for good swag.
Plenty of KT tape samples - trying it out on my sore foot

Next up, Jedi and I are dumping our kiddos with Legos (thank you Legos!!!) for the entire weekend and riding 110 miles across Cape Cod over the course of 2 days for the American Lung Association's Autumn Escape Bike Trek, sponsored by my company.  It should be a great weekend - and so far no monsoons in the forecast.  We have never been away from the kids overnight.  Our oldest is nearly 6.  It's sad.  And yes, we are so desperate that we are willing to bike 110 miles and sleep in bunk beds with my coworkers to do it.  But there's free food and two free team jerseys, and you know how I feel about that....

Our bike jerseys for the ALA ride, delivered to my desk this morning

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Product Review and Recipe - PearSports Mobile and Pear Crisp

Disclosure - I have absolutely zero affiliation with PearSports.  I did not get any swag, money, props, bribes or cool stuff of any kind for writing this review.  In fact, I'm quite sure PearSports is blissfully unaware of my existence and will continue to be so for quite some time, if not forever.  All of these opinions are 100% my own.

I'm not a bad runner.  But I am, let's say, a confused one.  I'm confused about correct form.  I'm confused about how to get better without injuring myself.  In the last six months I've needed PT for both knees, both hips, I've hurt my ankle, my back, and most recently sparked up some PF issues.  Grace, thy name is not Miranda.  I'm also quite honestly often confused as to how people who love running.... love running.  I've spent most of my life hating running.  Previous to six months ago, there were two things that would motivate me to run:


Being chased by a T-Rex

And that was it.  I mean, what the heck - people do this voluntarily??  Insane.  I'm also usually running alone because of my crazy work/schedule.  So when SwimBikeMom posted her review of PearSports Training Intelligence system, I thought hey - something that, for the low price of sub $100, will whisper sweet nothings in my ear telling me how I'm supposed to be training, encouraging me, and otherwise keeping me company on my long fall and winter of running, I got one pretty darn quick.

I love this system.  It's a heart rate monitor, special fancy earphones, and IPhone app.  My IPhone is pretty much surgically implanted, so one more gizmo to use with it was an added benefit.  The heart rate monitor is surprisingly comfy - I actually often forget I'm wearing it after a workout until I shower (which realistically isn't always immediately).  The headphones come with three different sizes of keep-it-in special comfy earpads.  I was actually so distraught at losing one of my size small earpads on a run that I went back to find it the next day in the rain.  The headphones also have a volume switch and a little button that clips to your shirt, and will tell you relevant stats (pace, mileage, heartrate) when you press it.

But the best part of all is the software itself.  First, it lets you listen to your own music while you work out - syncs right into your ITunes.  There are multiple training plans you can download (I'm doing the 10K running plan), with structured workouts that you schedule on given days of the week.  A coach (a famous one, if you are aware of such things, which I am not) will coach you all the way through each workout - giving you tips on form, reminders of what zone you are (or are supposed to be) in, etc.  The dialogue is often, but not so often that it becomes obnoxious or interferes with your tunes.

The home screen

In addition to running plans, there are spinning programs, strength training workouts, and even a guided meditation that you can download and use a la carte.  Yesterday when I couldn't get to the gym because work kept my late in the home office waiting for a critical email, I jumped on the trainer instead and logged a 50 minute spin workout.  The intensity was perfect, the coaching good, and except for the coach calling me "a monkey's uncle" when I was in the wrong zone (British? Aussie?  Just not sure...) it was pretty good.  There is also a free-form workout option that tracks your HR, distance, etc. but doesn't hold you to any particular program.  I've used this for races, and for runs that are longer than what I should be doing per the 10K plan (bad bad athlete).

38%?  I told you I was non-compliant...

At the end of your session, you can see your stats, a graph of what your heart rate was compare to what zone it should have been, and a map (if you workout was non-stationary).

A few nice-to-haves would be if it automatically synced to other apps like MapMyRide (it synces to some, just not my favorites), and if it was a little more flexible it letting you schedule and reschedule your workouts.  Maybe part of coaching is learning to stick to the plan?  I wish the HRM was a little more sensitive too - when I put my phone in my saddlebag on a long ride, it lost signal a lot.  A handlebar mount for the phone would probably fix that (more toys for my toys!!!).  Ditto for Boot Camp.  But that's pretty standard for BlueTooth...

A couple of thoughts on heart rate training, specifically for running.  Mainly, it is confusing as all anything.  I've spent all of my time to date trying to go FASTER.  You can't do that with heart rate training.  The voice in my ear wants me to actually warm up and cool down in Zone 1.  Which is just about walking for me.  Today I had a 4 mile "long" run.  (See how I had to put "long" in quotes?  Clearly I still have attitude....)  The first and last half mile the system wanted me in Zone 1 (walking fast) and the middle part in zone 2 (running not at my fastest pace, or even my almost-fastest pace).  For part of the run I was above in Zone 3, and when the electro-coach rebuked me I thought "Ha! I am BEATING heart rate training!"  Oh wait a minute....

Posting my runs to Facebook (which this system also does, even allowing you to select which subset of friends you irritate by doing so) isn't as much fun as usual with these slower paces showing.  Not that I was impressing anyone before, mind you, but still.  My run this morning ended at my kids' soccer practice - if you were to  look closely at my HR graph you would see where I started running again lest anyone not watching their little darling on the field glance over and think I couldn't hack a 4 mile run.  Because I'm crazy like that.  Clearly there is some mental re-shuffling needed to adjust here.... I'm working on it....

On the subject of pears, let's flip over and discuss how much I LOVE fall recipes.  Butternut squash, pork roast, pumpkin pie, baked apples - you name it I love it.  This is by far the best time of year for food (good thing I'm still running, huh?).  My family has been doing more than our fair share of apple picking.

Up on Jedi's shoulders

Which leads to much cooking of apples.  Much like after peach picking, I am over-run with apples.  So I make apple butter, apple sauce, and my favorite - apple crisp.  I'm the only one in the house that likes it, but that's ok because I am more than happy to eat the ENTIRE pan by myself.  Judge all you want.  I'm a triathete.  So shush.  Ha!

She's got a little bit of Evil Queen from Snow White vibe going-
I think the pirate scarf helps....

My favorite crisp recipe is actually equally good with pears (Bosc are best) or apples, so I'll share it here:

Maple Oat Pear [or Apple] Crisp

  • 4-5 large pears or apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup (real if you have it)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lay the sliced fruit in a 9x9 inch baking pan.  Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of melted butter and the syrup.

Add a little lemon juice to keep fruit from browning, if you like

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.  Pat onto the sliced fruit to make a more or less smooth layer.

Oven ready

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the apples are just starting to be soft.  This is personal preference, but I feel like most apple crisps are too sweet, and too overdone.  To the point of applesauce under the crust.  This recipe is much more like sliced fruit under and oatmeal cookie.  In fact, that's what my kids call it - "apple oatmeal cookie thing".  Serve with ice cream, with whipped cream, for dessert, or even for breakfast.  After all, it does have fruit and oats....  I dare you!


The rain is just starting to fall here, and will continue through tomorrow's 10K race that I'll be taking on with Gypsy.  We will be soaked.  I'm not sure I'm even going to bring my IPhone and Pear system, because I don't want them to get ruined.  So think warm, cozy, fall thoughts for me and enjoy!

Happy Fall :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fall Training Plan - Let's Get it Together

This has been a good summary of me lately.  With the triathlon season over, my daughter starting kindergarten, work ramping up, car issues - you name it, it seems like it is happening.  I had some vague thoughts about what to do with myself in this, the "off season", but alternating between manic bouts of race registration and hard core training and collapsing into exhausted puddles for days at a time isn't really a training plan.  There was comfort in my triathlon training.  Swim twice, bike twice, run 3 times per week.  I didn't always MAKE it, but at least there was a goal for each week, and the Title 9 sprint triathlon as the light at the end of the tunnel (whether it was the end or a train is debatable - depends on the day).

Unfortunately, this is ALSO what I feel like.  My kids activities become mine, and suddenly I have work, being a grown-up (cooking dishes laundry cleaning WHAT?) in addition to all of their dance lessons, swim lessons, soccer practices to coach, etc.  There are trick words to read every night, bags must be filled every night with items starting with a certain letter (I'm sure that his teacher giggles when she assigns "X" and "Q"), and many many PTO meetings, fundraisers, and announcements to ignore.  I mean, participate in and file.  Ahem.

My training schedule was my crutch against the anxiety and the crazy for most of the summer.  Now.. no crutch.  No specific goals in the immediate future.  Drifting.  I'm like a giant version of a newborn that needs to be swaddled in a specific blanket, bounced a certain way, and put down with all the light turned off.  If it's not a routine, I don't sleep.

So, it's time to get serious and make a schedule and goals for the fall.  My goals for the fall are:
  • Strength train 2x per week
  • Work on building an injury-free base for running
  • Spend more time with friends and having fun
  • Play outside as much as possible (I love fall)
  • Calm the heck down.  (this goal is the over-arching goal of my life, not just the fall)
To that end, here's the new training schedule for the Cupcake Triathlete:

Sunday - Crosstrain (bike), races for fun, hiking, or rest
Monday - Rest.  Mondays are good rest days
Tuesday - Early morning 5:45 Boot Camp workout at the gym
Wednesday - Run (lunch or morning - outside if possible)
Thursday - Zumba/Boot Camp in the evenings with friends
Friday - meet the family at little guy's swim lesson and either swim or run
Saturday - run in between the 2 kids soccer practices, preferably with a buddy

This plan has plenty of built in time for friends, for the family, maximizes outside time while still using my wicked expensive gym membership at least twice a week.  And only one day a week of getting up a dark o'clock.  Now, about the running: 

I do solemnly swear to lose the chip on my shoulder about "short" runs and stick to my 10K training plan.

Let me say that again....

I do solemnly swear to lose the chip on my shoulder about "short" runs and stick to my 10K training plan.

I started following the Pearsports 10K training plan a couple of weeks ago (I swear I'll do that product review any day now).  Meaning that I did the first workout, a 25 minute run in Zone 2 with a warm-up and cool-down of 5 minutes in Zone 1, and decided that I was light years ahead of that (I've raced 10ks and am a triathlete for crying out loud!) and discarded it, running four milers instead.  Well.  You know how that turned out.  

Resistance training
So today I grabbed my Pear system and my best training buddy and did the 10k "1.2" workout.  25 short minutes, just like before.  I ran exactly 1.5 miles.  Pushing a stroller with a 4 year old, but still.  It hardly felt worth getting sweaty for.  BUT this kind of plan is what will get me to a solid base, so lose the attitude, sister!

I will be as chill as my little guy.....

Runs will not be longer than 6 miles.  Workouts will not be longer than an hour.  I will have plenty of time for self torture come the winter and half-marathon and half-ironman training.  Fun, aerobic base, maintaining the fitness and weight loss I earned this summer, and sanity are the goals here.
Besides fall is gorgeous, and you can stop to take nice photos during Zone 2 runs