Thursday, May 26, 2011

Officially Jumped the Shark

Biggest Loser. I think it has finally completely Jumped the Shark. What the crap is that show doing? I am writing mostly about Ana Kournikova.

When did looking like an emaciated goat become the ultimate fitness goal?

Some people are naturally super-thin – there are lots of people in the world like that. But they have looked that way their whole life and no amount of eating changes it much. That is not Ana Kournikova. She looked a whole lot different when she was a regular on the pro tennis scene. She did not look like Skeletor. I am 100% disturbed that the producers of the show think that she is a good fitness role model. I was seriously sitting there on the couch with my mouth hanging open staring at all the tendons and ligament looking things poking out of her body. Am I the only one thinking this?

Anyway. Today is the last day of the work week – woo hoo! I’m taking tomorrow off to hang out with my best friend of almost 28 years who's coming to visit from back east. We are running a 5K on Saturday in the boonies of the IE. I haven’t run a valid 5K since February 2010 (the one I ran back in September was .25 miles short!) and I am itching to see where I’m at, time-wise. I think I’ll also break in a new pair of Brooks Ravennas, too. I decided this week that the 400 miles on my current pair is the max. They are feeling pretty worn at this point. How long do your shoes usually last for you? 400 miles for me, is probably the most I’ve ever put on a single pair.

I have been diligently trucking through my SmartCoach plan – the only thing that is weird to me is that there is only one rest day before the race, and the taper is not very taper-y. And by that I mean, the mid-week mileage is only 1 mile less. I tend to agree that you don’t need a whole lot of taper for a half marathon, but the last week of this plan seems a little much. To me, only reducing total mileage by 1 mile is pretty insufficient rest. I don’t think I’ll do the last 4 miler on Thursday. My legs are tired from this higher mileage business. I am having way more aches and pains than I normally do when running 20-ish mpw. I think even taking that one extra day off will give my legs a little break so that they feel fresher. If I am just dying to do something, I may jump on a bike or elliptical for 30 minutes, but that’s it.

How much taper (if any) do you do for half marathons?

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Have No Shame, But What’s New

Oblivious to the fact that there are other people outside in the neighborhood, I just walked outside the house to get something out of the car with green alien face. A tool amongst many in my arsenal against this whole acne-in-my-30s bullshit. I recommend the green clay mask if your face produces enough oil to fry up a chicken leg.

IMG_3148

Anyway. So, the weekend was productive.

1. I finished these and shipped them off on Saturday! Hah.Lay.Lou.Yah.

2011-05-21 07.35.50

2. The Husband (with a little help from me, but 90% his credit) fixed the constipated water softener. Two fresh 40 lb bags of salt and our water is back to soft. As much as the slick feeling of the water is a little weird, it is so much better. I don’t have to waste several minutes in the shower trying to coax suds out of my bar of soap.

3. We also have the Master Crapper back (sorry, there’s a lot of poop-ish references today).

IMG_3145

No more late night half-asleep internal debates about “how badly do I really have to pee? Is it worth the trek?

4. I did another 13 miles yesterday at an easy pace (easy for me, 9:30). I was supposed to do 9:38 per SmartCoach but 9:30 was the end result.  I also tried an interesting endurance fuel alternative. I alternated a clif blok and half a medjool date.

I used to hate these things, but last week while my in-laws were staying they bought a container. I tried them again and they are so good! Sure, they look a bit like a cockroach, but they are tasty! They have as much carb-sugar as a clif blok and a buttload of potassium (more than a clif blok). What they don’t have a lot of is sodium. 10mg per date. A block has like 26 mg. So, I think I may not use them exclusively but maybe rotate with the margarita salty clif blok flavor. Using natural fuel is appealing to me. Hopefully the 3 grams of fiber per date to not induce unplanned mid-run potty breaks (more poop talk).

Anyway.

Bachelorette tonight! Thanks, hauterunningmama for the reminder!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

At Least It’s Thursday

So last night I voted for the first time this season of Idol. I know. Shut up. Listen, I do like country (I have been known to sing numerous Dixie Chicks songs at karaoke), but enough already. We don’t need two country singers in the American Idol finale. They’re not even that good. Anybody watching it? Anyone totally creeped out by Stephen Tyler? I feel like he is constantly making sexual references to the teenage female contestants.

I am into the third week of this RW SmartCoach plan and when I first looked at it, with it telling me to run 9:42 pace for easy runs and only one tempo/speedwork per week, I was skeptical. Like, why don’t you just slowly torture me. How can I possibly get faster with this business. But my legs are actually quite tired from this plan. I think it may actually be doing something. What that something is, I don’t know. It better not be that I can run 20 miles at 9:40 but can’t run 13.1 at 8:15. And in the case of Fontana Days (2000 ft net downhill), 13.1 in 8:00-8:10, or better. 8:15 pace at Fontana would be a “fail” – to use an overdone phrase from lack of creativity.

Anyway, so the house. That structure I live in that takes my money like a gold-digging spouse. Back in January of 2010 (!) we installed a water softener as tankless water heaters don’t like hard water. We don’t know our Asses From Our Elbows on water softeners – we’re from back east. I grew up with pond water. There are no mountains or giant rocks providing minerals to harden our water. I don’t know from Peter how those things work. I figured, the plumber who installed it actually put it in the “on” position. We would just have to add salt once in a while. And having spent the last 11 years using hard water I don’t remember what soft water feels like.

This whole time, the softener has been in bypass mode. With 40 pounds of salt sitting in it. Fifteen months.

The Husband figured this out about 2 weeks ago and took it off bypass mode. Viola! We have soft water (which feels entirely different). Except two weeks later the softener is now full of water. Overflowing through its drainage system. This is not supposed to happen. You are not supposed to see your softener full of water. We also have an unmovable mass of salt at the bottom of the softener. Fun times! Wanna trade? Anyone?

The plan of attack is to – more fun – shop vac, i.e. suck, the water out (since the effing thing is a 4-foot tall cylinder so you can’t just drain it with a bucket, nor can you easily reach in), and then try pouring hot water directly on the salt mass to try to break it up. The joys of home ownership.

Not so much.

But here are some pictures of the currently in remodel-mode master bath shower-toilet room. Really hoping to get the toilet back in this weekend. It’s like I am camping having to trek to the ends of the earth for a night-time tinkle.

Picture 001(marble threshold! And nasty adjoining carpet!)

Picture 002 (Beadboard! Isn’t it purrrrty?)

Picture 003

Picture 004(flowered penny tile!) 

Picture 005 (Still waaaaay to much work left up in this joint.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Some Observations

  1. J. Crew wooden clogs from 2002 are not good train commuter shoes. Especially when your train regularly leaves 30-60 seconds early. As in, BEFORE the time they post on their official schedule. I think the conductors must take sadistic pleasure watching people run, frantically, with all their bags, coffee, etc, flying everywhere to get to the train that is leaving AHEAD of schedule.
  2. Knitting EIGHT of the exact same scarf for the last 6 weeks might be a scene from one of the levels of Dante’s Inferno. I have never wanted to be done with an Etsy order so badly in my life. I don’t think I will agree to this kind of bulk order again. I am on 50% done with #7. So, I still have another full scarf to complete. Pffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft.
  3. Tuesday is the worst day of the week. Monday, at least some portion of the population took the day off as a long weekend so you don’t have to deal with them out on the road. By Tuesday, everyone is back annoying you with their slow-poke driving (can you tell I’m still not over almost missing the train this morning?) and you still have four more days in the week.
  4. A couple weeks ago while watching TV, The Husband said “why are all cute girls annoying?” Talk about setting yourself up! I jokingly said, “So, what you are saying is either I am not cute, or I am annoying.” But I totally get his point. Not that all cute girls are annoying, but it does seem disproportionately skewed to annoying. Which leads me to the question: do other people think said annoying pretty girls are in fact, annoying, but because they are cute they just overlook it?
  5. Running the “long run” 60-90 seconds slower than half-marathon pace actually makes it enjoyable. I know. Shocker. As usual, the last 2 miles of the 13 I was ready to be done, but the first 8 were downright fun! I can’t say I’ve been enjoying my long runs recently, probably because I have been pushing too hard.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hopefully I Will Love It When This Plan Comes Together

Sorry, had to make a A-Team reference.

I decided that I’m going with Fontana – I registered yesterday. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the medal – there are going to be medals! I don’t understand how they put this race on for so cheap but they must be getting lots of sponsorships. I also felt like I didn’t want to pay $60 to be beaten up by hills in Laguna. I have done two hilly half marathons this year (Safari Park and Highland YMCA) so I don’t really need another. It’ll be more fun to run downhill, fast, and pay less money.

Lately I seem to be stuck in the 1:50’s and it’s making me kind of loco. Tina posted a week or to about Runners World Smart Coach so I checked it out. When I entered my half marathon time from Safari Park (1:50:01) and next race date I was shocked to see my easy run and long run prescribed pace at 9:42. Especially when I ran my last long run of 13 miles the weekend before PCRF in 8:50 pace. So that got the hamster wheel running in my head.

hamster

It also got the fingers onto Googling if this SmartCoach Crap was legit. I stumbled onto Blondie’s blog (Life in ATL) with my Googling and she had two posts talking about how we’re all running our long runs too damn fast.

A fact that I had known since high school but apparently I have let my ego take over. When we had an easy day, we ran easy. We ran 9-10 minute miles. And we had two girls clocking 12:00 for the two-mile and five girls under 5:30 for the mile. We were, by no means, a slow group (ok, I was slower - 6:15 and 13:30 were my one and two mile times). Yet, when Coach said easy – you bet your ass we took it easy. It’s like I have regressed in my maturity when it comes to running.

Anyway. My point is I’m going to try this slower thing. I’m going to stick to the plan.

smartCoach 

Especially because the plan says I’ll run a 1:47:28. With downhill, that should be like 1:46:xx. We’ll see how good the SmartCoach Crystal Ball of Race Times is in 4 weeks.

(Oh and, thanks, Julie, for the Guns ‘n Hoses recommendation – I actually considered it a couple weeks ago but it’s $70 and probably not a super-interesting course - from what I recall that part of Ontario is just airport and industrial. So, the $35 fastest course in the country wins. Though I totally forgot about the eye candy part – I read your comment after I had registered for Fontana.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cheeky Bastards

We received our awards for finished second at Ragnar in the Mixed Corporate division. By the way, we were beaten by 9 seconds per mile (32 minutes) by the Competitor Group who is in the industry of running and endurance sports (they put on the Rock ‘n Roll races in addition to their publication) so they should have beaten us. More handily, considering we are a bunch of biotech geeks who happen to run (and we didn’t even have the fastest runners – one of our dudes was at Boston that weekend). But I digress.

ragnar_baton

“Almost First”

Ragnar thinks they’re funny. Why don’t they just fully commit to it and write “First Loser” or “Maybe Next Time”.  I wonder what they put on the third place finishers batons. “Almost Second”? “Just Barely Worth Mentioning”? “You Don’t Suck that Bad”?

In case you take my complaining too seriously,  I like the baton – it’s cute. I appreciate that they give awards to division winners. I do think just “Second Place” would have been fine. At least I can use it as a weapon. Maybe I should carry it around when I run outside in the event I have to lay the smack down.

So I am waffling on my next race thanks to peer pressure. From these people. I need to make a decision stat because (a) and need to register, and (47) it may adjust my training plan. I was all set to do Laguna Hills which is like signing up and paying for pain but then I knew about Fontana Days 4 days later, but, well, bah!!! No. I am not going two races in 4 days. I have decided that my body needs me to shelve The Crazy for a while. Nothing like 19 miles in one day (haven’t run more than 13.5 in a stretch since 2003) to help me come to that conclusion.

Laguna Hills - Good:

  1. Close
  2. Monday/holiday race
  3. Does not require getting up Crack-Ass early
  4. More Useless Race Trinkets (must have The Precious)

Laguna Hills – Bad:

  1. Hills. And then more hills. And then let’s try some hills.
  2. Hills.
  3. More expensive ($60)
  4. Probably won’t even come remotely close to a PR

Fontana Days – Good:

  1. Downhill! 2000 ft descent! Holla!
  2. Cheap!!! $35
  3. Potentially could PR!

Fontana Days – Bad:

  1. Won’t really sleep the night before - required to be at the shuttle pick up area by 5am. It’s an hour drive to Fontana.
  2. Must leave my house at like 3:30am. WTF.
  3. No Medals! Booooo. And precisely zero-point-zero chance of placing in my age group.
  4. I’m already doing a cheater all down-hill course in August – Hobble Creek.

Why can’t they just have the Carlsbad Half Marathon several times year so I can get up at my leisure and run a nice, rolling hills, pretty course? I’d be all over that like white on rice.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Who Writes This Crap?

No, I’m not referring to this blog, though I have often asked myself that of my own drivel.

Sometimes one finds themselves wanton of reading material in the loo, that someone being myself. I have read anything from something normal like a magazine, to the wrapper of a spare roll of toilet paper.

I found myself in such a conundrum recently, actually this morning, and grabbed the clay face mask sitting on the counter.

2011-05-02 18.46.06

I like this face mask – smells nice, does a good job soaking up the oil that loves my face (thanks, Papa, for those love acne genes). I started reading the back of it:

2011-05-02 18.46.19

“Superfruits provides antioxidant rich skincare to help combat the effects of stress, the environment and your fun, not-so-healthy lifestyle.”

First of all, you need a damn comma after “environment”.

Secondly, “not-so-healthy” lifestyle? Really? I must have to use your mask  because I am a chain-smoking, binge-drinking, sedentary slob who eats like shit.

I have no idea why this face mask offended me so much. Granted I was dog-tired this morning from yesterday’s half-marathon, and then walk running 6 more miles off my friend’s marathon in 80 degrees (so 19 miles, total), combined with the fact that I never eat fast-food, hardly ever eat pre-packaged/frozen meals, and eat red meat maybe once a month. Really, I eat meat/poultry maybe one night a week. So, I was kind of miffed at whoever presumptuous person they got to write this product description. Because you know how I live my life? Screw your mask! I challenge you to a duel! I’ll outrun your ass!

Speaking or running, I had yet another failed attempt to run a sub 1:50 half at PCRF this weekend. Sarah Soon-To-Be was there, too, untrained, nearly beat my trained ass, and has way better pics of the event (acutally, I have none. Zero pics since I don’t do the self-portrait and was flying solo for this shindig). I have managed sub 1:50 three times since November (1:47:18, 1:48:47, and 1:48:31). Yet since mid-February, the half marathon has been Nelson-ing me with “Ha-ha” the last 3 attempts I’ve made.

This last race irked me because I was tricked by the course – lulled into a false sense of security until mile 7-ish when we started climbing. We had been gently descending the first half and I was ticking off fast miles (7:46, 7:58, 8:04, 8:16, 8:02, etc) thinking to myself – 1:48 or better is so happening! It’s Carlsbad all over again! This heat has nothing on me! But way in the back of my head, I was thinking: this seems like it might be kind of downhill-ish; shouldn’t you slow down, conserve a bit? Front of my mind: Eh, it’s fun to run stupidly faster than you should!

I had looked for an elevation chart on the website on Friday and there was nothing of the sort to be found. Interestingly enough. So I somewhat unknowingly failed to make arrangements to reserve some energy in the tank for the climb back up. This course was not even remotely as hard as Safari Park, but I was aware of the climbs on that one. I didn’t clock any sub-8 miles before the hills on that race. Oh well. Finish time was 1:52:10. 6th in my age group, 30th female. At least my placement stats looks nice-ish.

Next one is Laguna Hills and I have no delusions on grandeur on that one. That is a hilly mofo of a course. I’m doing it because (a) it’s cheap, (b) it’s only 35-40 minutes away, (c) it’s a Monday and I’ve never run a Monday race, (d) I get the additional “I Ran a Marathon In May” bling. And I am a hooker for race bling.

This morning I also registered for Hobble Creek Half Marathon in Springville, Utah on August 20th. It is already sold out (registration opened this morning and sold out at some point today). It is an all downhill course – fastest in Utah. I’ve decided for that race I’m going to do it up right, proper with a training plan, complete with back-down mileage weeks, tempo/speedwork, slower and longer weekend runs, etc, starting the week after Laguna Hills. I am going to put that race in my pipe and smoke it!