Girls’ Weekend vs 10K Race

dsc02625I guess I need to explain a couple things about myself before I ask you to weigh in on my dilemma. I am a 40-something year old wife and mother, who enjoys her family, but also loves to spend time with her girlfriends. I usually plan 2 or 3 girls-only weekends away each year. Yes, my husband is a SAINT! I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and have come to really enjoy my time away  with no responsibilities (ie. lunches, laundry, breakfast, laundry, grocery, laundry….)! I know it sounds great! So what’s the problem?

Well, before I get into that let me tell you about my little running group. My running partners, (we’ll call them the Nieces) and I choose one charity race a month to run together! We’ve been doing this for just over a year and have had a blast! So for March we chose a 10K, which will be our longest race to date! We’ve been working up to running this 10K for a while now, by increasing our distance and working on our times. This is an important milestone in our running program, and a stepping stone to the half marathon, a goal we hope to accomplish by the end of the year.

So,  now to the dilemma! The girls’ weekend this year has been booked for the same weekend as this 10K race. What do I do? Do I go on the girls’ weekend and blow-off the race? I mean I can run anytime, right? But is that letting The Nieces down? Do I commit to the race and forget about this relaxing weekend at the beach complete with spa treatments? But I REALLY need a vacation with my girlfriends. You see, we’ve all been so busy with our lives, that we haven’t even had time to get together for dinner or a movie lately! Do I go and leave at 5:30AM on Saturday in order to make it to the race in time? That would mean I would have to behave Friday night, which is difficult, since Friday night is the BEST night at girls’ weekend! Maybe I could just go for a 10K run at the beach and log it on my Nike+. But I wouldn’t have The Nieces with me to celebrate our victory! UGGHHHH!!! I am torn!

OK! So now you’ve heard my dilemma and I’m sure you have a solution! Right? Help!

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How was your Fat Tuesday?

fat-tuesdayYesterday was Fat Tuesday! A day filled with excess in preparation for the 40 days of deprivation that begins with lent at the stroke of midnight! This is suppose to be a day of eating and drinking and excess. But for some reason I decided that I would blow it out with exercise instead of food or drink!! Not with the intention of giving it up for 40 days, mind you, but it just felt right!

I set out for an innocent bike ride, only my third in the “recent” past! After a very long, 90 minute ride the day before, I decided that I would ride for about 30 minutes and then run for 30 minutes. Sounded like a great plan! A little cross-training to ready me for the impending triathlon! I set off on my little ride, thinking that it would feel easy after the previous ride! OH BOY WAS I WRONG!!! I got 2 minutes into my ride and my legs were SCREAMING at me, already! You see, my legs didn’t really like the previous ride! And the fact that I was making them do it again, made them rebel! We struggled a little but finally found a gear that they would tolerate and we set out! It was a beautiful morning in Central Florida, blue skies and sunny, but cool with an occasional gust of wind.  Once my legs and I got warmed up, it felt great and I contemplated going a little longer. But the plan was to run too! So I begrudgingly turned around 15 minutes in and headed back to the homestead to begin phase two of my exercise excess day!

I felt great as I rounded the corner into the driveway. I was excited to head off on foot for my 30 minute run. But as I got off my bike, I noticed something was different! My legs got very angry again!!!! They refused to work properly! I think they knew what was coming! I tried to walk my bike into the garage, but my muscles weren’t having any of it! The term “rubbery” doesn’t even cover it! I, being a Taurus and, therefore, stubborn as hell, decided that I WAS doing this and my legs would just have to get over it! I grabbed my iPod and set out. As I walked down the driveway,  I noticed that my ankles were frozen in a flexed position. I have never experienced this feeling before! I cranked my music and started on my way. But my legs again complained! And this time I knew they meant it! I could barely pick up my feet! My stride was similar to that of a very old person with groin problems! I got a couple hundred yards from my house and I started to think that there was no way I was going to be able to do this! And even if I could, it would take me 4 hours to finish the 3.5 miles I usually finish in 30 minutes. But Fat Tuesday excess and my Taurian stubborn streak took over and I pushed on! It got easier the longer I ran! My legs finally relented and fell into the step. The run was actually very relaxing as I wasn’t pushing for time! I just wanted to finish two sports back to back.  I returned home and was surprised that I actually ran a better time than I had expected.

I am now wondering how in the world I am going to be able to complete a 1/2 mile swim (who knows how long that will take), followed by a 16 mile bike ride (at my current rate 90 minutes), and then run a 5K (usually takes me about 27 to 28 minutes)!!! This will be somewhere around 3 hours of exercise back to back! How will my legs react, then? Will they allow it? Maybe they were just rebelling because they thought that Fat Tuesday would be a vacation for them! Here I sit still wondering what many people wonder on the day after Fat Tuesday…”what have I done?”

How to eat like an Athlete!

dsc_2796I’m hungry! I’m hungry all the time!!! This is expected since I’ve upped my workouts, right? I don’t know! I am trying not to gain weight while training for this triathlon, but my body is making it really hard! It’s screaming for FOOD!!!! I tried the “fill up on water” trick….NOPE, didn’t work! So what am I doing wrong? I want to look like an athlete, not a blubbery whale! How? What do athletes eat and when do they eat it? I am beginning to believe that it’s all in the timing! So I did a little research and here is what I found…

Weight Loss

Weight loss is a numbers game! It’s actually basic math! To lose 1 pound you have to expend 3500 calories more than you consume. Sounds like a lot right? Well break it down a little farther. If you want to lose a pound a week you would divide that 3500 calories by 7 days which gives you a 500 calorie deficit per day. Sounds doable right? Just cut out two 20oz Cokes…right?  Turns out there are a number of ways to lose this weight. You can eat less (not an option when you are training hard), burn off 500 calories through exercise (I’m doing that), or you can combine the two, eat less and burn more. This sounds simple, but doesn’t help me stop the cries for food! There must be more!!!

Fuel

Turns out that the body is fueled by carbohydrates. Hmmm! So what are those low carb dieters using for fuel? If you think of your body as a car, the carbohydrates are the gas, and protein is the oil. Would you put oil in your gas tank? Wait…I really don’t know anything about cars…so, let’s think of it as laundry, since that’s what I know! We have a load of clothes that needs washing. Think of the detergent as your fuel and the fabric softener as the protein.  Would you pour just fabric softener in your washing machine to clean your clothes? No! So why eat high protein when you are trying to fuel your body? Protein is used to repair the muscles after an intense workout. Like fabric softener is used to soften fabrics and prevent static. While the protein will fill you up, they are not as efficient as a carbohydrate in providing energy! Just like fabric softener will make your clothes smell good, but it won’t clean your clothes like detergent!

OK, now I feel like I am beginning to understand my diet flaw. I tend towards protein packed foods, because, being a vegetarian, I just figured that’s what I needed. I’ve been trying to stay away from carbs, thinking that they were BAD!!! Turns out, not all carbs are bad! The complex carbohydrates that come from whole grains found in oatmeal, multi grain bread and whole wheat pasta, are much more effective at fueling your body. Simple carbs that come from highly processed, white flour found in white bread, regular pasta and processed cereal, do not work your body to it’s maximum. So eat your carbs, but eat the brown ones!

Timing

DO NOT SKIP MEALS!!!! This is key to eating like an athlete! You must eat breakfast! I’ve heard my mother tell me this for years! But I’m just not a big fan of breakfast. I like my coffee alone! But according to everything I have read, you must “break” your fast in the morning with a high quality complex carbohydrate, such as oatmeal. If you exercise in the morning, make it a smaller size portion so you don’t feel weighed down.

Evidently, if you eat a big meal you should do so 3-4 hours before exercise. Smaller meals are fine 2 hours prior and snacks can be eaten right before and even during exercise, depending on how you feel!  Really, I can eat while I am exercising? This sounds wrong! But I will try!

And contrary to popular opinion, eating after a workout is a must! The experts say you must eat a balanced meal within 2 hours after your workout! This meal should include complex carbs, proteins and healthy fats. This will help the body repair the muscles and rev up the metabolism, so more calories are burned throughout the day!

So I have found that I was just doing the wrong foods at the wrong times. I am making the change and with any hope my body will stop screaming for food! I’ll keep you posted!

Gotta love Race Day!

dsc03038Yesterday was race day!! And as predicted it was FREEZING!!! Well, at the beginning it was cold! But then, about a mile in, I was wishing I had left the fleece in the car! You see there were so many people crammed into the street that our body heat temperature was probably a good 30° F higher than the air temp. Overall, The Run Around The Pines 5K was great! But it was especially great if you like running (or drowning) in a sea of people! There were 1316 people participating and I think they all ran right with me the whole way! Wait, am I the star of the remake of “The Truman Show”?  It sure seemed that way!  I was dodging and weaving around people of all ages. It was more a test of my coordination than a foot race.

While I was dodging and weaving, my mind started doing it’s thing. I started watching people and their different running styles. Some styles you would like to emulate and others you wish you had never witnessed. (You know what I’m talking about!)  It made the race go by faster and I found that I would sprint ahead just to see different runners. So I thought I would share my findings with you…but first you have to pledge not to be offended if you fall into one of these groups! Promise? Ok, here goes…

Let’s start with the group I call the Über Runners. These are those people that run the entire race with ease. While I’m panting my way through every step and hoping that my breakfast doesn’t reappear, the Über runners are gracefully prancing at break neck speeds with out even breaking a sweat!  How do they do that? Better yet, how can I do that?

Then, we have the Painful Overachievers. These are those runners that run fast but look as though they are going to keel over at any moment. They are moaning and groaning somewhere near the front of the pack, while their knees are buckling and their stride is floundering. You know you can beat them, and yet you don’t!

Then, there are the “Made You Look” Loud Landers. You know, those people that have no control over the impact their feet make on the pavement, so it sounds like they are flopping their size 14 clown feet as loud as they can. You hear them coming, even over the music blaring in your ears. You can’t help but turn around to see what’s making all that noise. Surprisingly, it’s usually a 9 year old with teeny-tiny feet.

Oh and there are always those people that run with intermittent walk breaks. Let’s call them the Hurry Up and Wait Runners. Why do they get to take walk breaks while I struggle to stay on pace and yet, they still beat me across the finish line? I know, they are following the training plan of the great Jeff Galloway. I get it! I even tried it, but it’s not for me! Once I get this train a movin’, stopping before the finish line is not an option! But anyway, according to my calculations, I should beat these “hurry up and waiters”, if for no other reason than the fact that I ran the whole way and they didn’t!

The list goes on and on! There are the Spitters, the Up-Chuckers, the Boogie Blowers that you really don’t want to run behind! The Constant Talkers, and the Singers that you can try to ignore, but somehow get inside your head. And, of course, the Finish Line Picture Bandits that throw themselves between you and the photographer just as the picture is snapped.  Are you kidding me?! Will I ever get a picture of me crossing the finish line?

All in all, it was a wonderful race! I ran faster than my last race! And I have to thank all of my fellow runners for keeping me entertained throughout the race! I hope I did the same for them!

Cold Weather Race Day…Again!

cold_weatherI live in Florida, this I think we might have established in a previous post. And when you think of Florida, you think of what? Warm weather, Disney, warm weather, oranges, warm weather, beaches, and warm weather right? Ha! Not so much warm weather in Florida this winter!!!

I’m a member of a little running group called “We Run in Skirts”. Our group runs in one race a month and we have cute little running skirts that we normally wear to these races. The reason I bring this up, is because for the last few races, the temperatures here in Florida have been in the 30’s. What? I know…this is not skirt running weather!!! Instead of skirts, we’ve been wearing pants and layers of fleece with hats and gloves. Did I mention that we’re in Florida?

I know those of you up north are laughing right now! But you know, we aren’t use to these conditions. We’re use to running in sunny, early morning 60° temps. If we lived in Buffalo, we’d be use to running in snowy, 20° temps and we’d have all the necessary layers. But we don’t! We aren’t checked out on the whole nose running, lung burning, frost biting thing! Nor should we be! We live in Florida and Florida=warm weather! Why can’t Mother Nature understand this?

Forecast for Saturday, February 21st

  • 6:00AM – 40°F will feel like  37°F
  • 9:00AM – 52°F will feel like 50°F
  • 12:00      -64°F will feel like 64°F

Go figure!

Gizmos and Gadgets

So I usually depend on my husband to figure out the latest and greatest when it comes to technology. But I’m beginning to realize that I actually NEED technology for my training! I’ve been using the Nike+ kit and iPod combo for a couple years, now. I LOVE IT!!! I enjoy my music while I run and the fact that I can gauge how fast or slow I am going just by pushing a button is wonderful! I can’t wait to get home and transfer my run over to the Nike+ website! And when my miles get posted into all my challenges, I am in HEAVEN!!!

But what about biking and swimming? Are there gadgets available for these sports too? I realized exactly how much I needed said gadget yesterdcomputeray while on my bike ride. The training plan was to ride for 45 minutes. No problem, but how far did I go? What is my average pace? How many calories did I burn? I returned home feeling a little out of sorts not knowing my deets. So I set out to find some gadgets to help me out!

Turns out that there are these cool little bike computers, we’ll call them bike bling. You attach them to your bike and they will calculate not only mileage and speed, but calories and fat burned, too. Really? And it will even tell you when your bike needs a service! What? Where have I been? How did I miss this amazing advance in biking technology! Oh yeah, the last time I rode a bike…I was 12. So now,  my dilemma is which one should I get. How much is too much? I am not a professional cyclist, just a mom who is hoping to survive her first triathlon. I think I will start with the basics! I can always upgrade it later!

Swimming is another story! I guess my Lucky Brand bikini isn’t going to cut it when it comes to swimming laps, huh? The last time I had a Speedo, I was 6 and I put it on backwards. Come to think of it this might be why I stopped swimming! Anyway, I guess I will need to invest in the latest and greatest Speedo or Nike racing suit. But this one will have instructions on how to put it on and maybe just a little sparkly swim bling!

I also saw this little case that clips onto your goggles and holds your iPod shuffle, so you can still listen to your music while swimming! Major swim bling! Cool, but then I would have to buy the case and the shuffle, because I have an older style nano! Maybe if it kept track of my speed, distance and stroke it would be worth it! And what about the goggles? Can’t I use my cheap ones from Wal-mart? Do I need nose-plugs and ear-plugs? I guess I will find out after my first swim!

I could spend thousands of dollars on all these gizmos. But I won’t! I am a minimalist at heart! Well, a semi-minimalists…a girl has got to have her bling, right?

What Have I Done?

bike-with-cob-websIf you read my post yesterday, you know I registered to take part in the SheROX Triathlon on my 44th birthday! Exciting, huh? Well, now that the hype has worn off a little, and I’m setting up my training schedule, I’m starting to think…What Have I Done? Don’t get me wrong I am still excited about the adventure of a sprint distance triathlon. I’m just a little overwhelmed by all the thousands of training options, the gizmos and gadgets that everyone says I need, and the expense of this adventure.

I always tell me kids that if they break a problem down into smaller problems, it will be easier to find a solution. So let’s break it down:

Run: Let’s remember that I am a runner first! So training for the run won’t be difficult for me. In fact, I have a 10K race in March that I am also training for, so I am not too worried about the run. Now running after a swim and a bike, is another story! “What have I done?”

Bike: I don’t mind biking, I just don’t do it a lot. I don’t have a fancy racing bike, and I will not be purchasing one in the near future. I will ride my semi nice hybrid bike, which is now sitting in the garage with flat tires and covered with cob webs. But, with a little TLC it will be good as new! I think I could handle a 16 mile bike race. But after swimming ½ mile, I just don’t know about that!  “What have I done?”

Swim…well this will be probably be my weakest link. Not because I don’t know how, I mean, my mom taught swimming at the local YMCA when I was growing up, so I am a card carrying member of the Minnows. I just haven’t used this skill in a very long time. I can tread water for 30 to 40 minutes, but swimming 1/2 mile in open water with no breaks and other women swimming over top of you…hmmm…I don’t know! Now, I am told that there are “swim angels” available to help us if we need it, but I don’t want to need help! And who thought of putting the hardest leg of the race first? Obviously a swimmer did! “What have I done?”

So I broke it down, and I’m still not feeling a warm, fuzzy!  But, I am nothing if not determined! I will cross that finish line with a smile on my face, as I ask myself one last time “What have I done?” But this time the answer will be SUCCEEDED!!