Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up...

I hate that the weekend is almost over. Bummer!

Lots of training happening over here this weekend. Well, that and clothes washing. Neither one seem to ever end! I slept in late yesterday and opted to do my run at high noon. Not the best idea I ever had but I really did enjoy sleeping in... Not gonna lie, those 15 miles were tough. I didn't even get the usual runner's high from the mileage. All I could do was come home and take a nap.

Today's scheduled training was a big ole brick workout (56 mile ride, 30 minute run and 1600 meter swim). I met up with a couple of friends for the bike ride. I have decided that I must mentally block out any and all hills as I frequently describe the course as "light rolling hills" and then we'll have a new person show up and I will be reminded it is anything but "light and rolling". Oops! I guess the hills are good for you, right?

Today's mileage was the longest we have ridden to date. I am not sure if it was the heat or the increase in mileage but had to talk one of my friends out of bailing at mile 50. (the downside of riding by your car - it can be too tempting to pack it in). Luckily we were able to persuade her to stick with it. I would have hated to see her bail with only 6 miles to go. I mean, 56 miles is the race distance for our half iron so mentally it is huge to know you can cover that distance.

On last week's ride, I had a Santa sighting. He was out getting his run on in an Atlanta Track Club singlet. This week, I saw him again in the same area. He gave me a little wave and a "ho ho ho". It was the highlight of the ride!

After we knocked out the miles on the bike we were scheduled for a 30 minute run. Sadly, there was no shade to be found so that and a strong desire to get into an air conditioned vehicle made us cut the run short after about 2 miles. Totally fine by me!

We packed it all up and parted ways and I headed to Lifetime to get in a 1600 meter swim. The water was nice and cool and had never felt better! It was quite the long workout day but great to get it all in. It was quite the confidence booster.

Yesterday in my farmer's bag, I got purple peppers! You know, the kind that Peter Piper picks... I had never seen them before. Kind of cool.

In other farmer news, I found a use for okra that I actually like. I am not all that into frying up a batch which is the southern way and I wasn't a big fan of eating it raw. This recipe turned out really nice. Basically, it is just turkey sausage, okra, green beans, tomatoes, onion, green pepper and corn sauteed up for about 10 minutes. I ate it hot last night but I think you are supposed to eat it cold. Pretty darn good!

Friday, July 29, 2011

What is in your desk drawer?

I think I have mentioned before that CR works in a retail environment. There are maybe 6 or 8 employees. In his shop there is a little office area that is shared by 3 people. A few days ago one of the 3 people (the store owner’s wife), opened one of the desk drawers to find a pair of these...

Seriously. (and no they are not CR’s.)

I store some things in my desk drawer at work but it is mostly limited to snacks and maybe some ibuprofen. One time many years ago, I had to go into another person’s desk while hey were out and they had a giant preserved fly and a cup of tobacco spit in their desk. I think this find trumps the fly and spit cup.

I have so many questions for his person. Who stores underwear in their desk? Let’s assume there is some random need to have a fresh pair handy. If you shared a desk, wouldn’t you find somewhere else to store it? CR offered the theory that the person in question works out before work or at lunch and maybe he was sweaty. If that were the case, wouldn’t you be changing all of your clothes and not just your base layer? Just thinking out loud. So. Very. Strange.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A little of this and that...

So I did it! I sat down this weekend, took the rear wheel off my bike,let the air out and changed a flat. It really was pretty easy. I am so glad I finally did it. One less thing to worry about!

My day started out Saturday with what I thought was a one hour "novice" bike ride. While I tend to lump myself in that novice category, I suppose it all relative. It turns out this one hour session was a ride of sorts but entirely within a parking lot. The two other people who showed up for the class were just learning to ride a bike (as in they never learned as kids). I see that a lot in swimming but I think that is the first time I have heard of an adult who never rode a bike as a child. I admire anyone who takes on something like that it cannot be easy!

I ended up politely excusing myself from the ride and doing a quick 10 miles on my own before I headed out to the Farmer's Market to pick up my haul. I kind of had an overscheduled day anyhow so I wasn't too disappointed that the class didn't work out. I also needed to squeeze a 13 mile run into the mix.

Okra made its first appearance in my CSA bag this week. I wish I knew what to do with it besides fry it and make it into a gumbo of sorts. One of my tennis friends said she eats them raw. I tried one last night although admittedly it was dipped into a lot of tomato sauce. Not sure about that one... While they aren't slimy raw, they are a little hairy. I might try chopping them into a salad.

Check out this zucchini! Too bad CR doesn't love them the way he loves cucumbers. I will have to sneak it into his vegetable soup. We could eat off this for days... or hollow it out and wear the halves as shoes. or not. Hmmmm....

In other news... If you are looking for a free update to your blog (header, design, etc.), Check out Miss Felicity. She is giving away blog makeovers through July. Sounds like a win/win to me!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Learning to change a flat...

As you know my bike (I really need a name for her…) and I have just started to get to know each other. As with most new relationships, there was a getting to know you phase. Occasionally, my bike would get her chains rattled and she would fall over at a stop. I think most of you have experience that at least once, the slow motion fall to one side or the other as you realize your feet are still clipped in. We are past the getting to know you phase right now but I feel there is so much more I need to learn to keep our relationship going strong.

While I have done a few triathlons prior to this year,. My biking primarily consisted of riding the bike around the neighborhood maybe once, if that, before race day. That training strategy really didn’t seem to be working well so I decided things needed to change. While my biking is coming along by leaps and bounds (still hoping speed will magically come one of these days…), I still have the fear of some sort of mechanical failure on the ride. Yes, it is always safer to ride with a buddy but it isn’t always practical. Occasionally, I see the need to hit the road on my own. If I am hitting the road on my own, I really need to learn how to deal with minor mechanical issues.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a Bike Maintenance class at REI. The class was held last night. I was a little sad about the timing because it was held at the same time as my regular Thursday night ride but decided it was a priority. My main goal for the class was to learn how to fix a flat. As I headed into the store, I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to be the only one but also didn’t want to stand out as a complete newbie either. Then I realized that everyone in the class was probably a newbie or they wouldn’t be there. Duh.

The class was packed. The instructor had three types of bikes set up and went over each of them (road, hybrid and mountain bikes). He showed us how to take off the wheels. I was expert at the front wheel removal having taken mine off countless times to get it in and out of the car. I had no idea about the back wheel. I thought it might be a little complicated but it really was not much more complicated than the front wheel. After the wheel came off, we got to changing flats. This was not a hands on class but the instructor was very thorough. Once he went through the whole process, including re-inflating the tire with a CO2 cartridge, I felt confident I could do this on my own. The class finished up with tips on cleaning the bike, lubing the chain and various other parts and we were done. A very worthwhile hour spent at REI. I stocked up on a few gels and bars @ 20% off and headed home with a lot more confidence in my bike maintenance abilities!

This weekend, my plan is to take some time practicing changing a flat on my bike. While I have seen someone do it, I think I will feel that much more confident after I have changed one on my own a few times. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Learning to eat healthy (the remedial edition)...

CR has decided he wants to clean up his diet in an effort to stay off cholesterol medicine and the like. Try explaining a healthy diet to someone who spent most of his life eating whatever they wanted and never gave a calorie or fat gram a second thought. The conversation between me (who was raised on Diet Shasta and Weight Watchers) and CR (who was raised on Coca-Cola and ice cream) starts something like this:

Me: (talking about things he might want eat for a typical meal) You are going to need to eat mostly fruits, vegetables and meats

CR: That’s good. I like Bubba Burgers and corn.

Me: sigh….

LOL! Luckily, he does like vegetables in the form of vegetable soup so I am seeing A LOT of that in his future. Baby steps... :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do one thing that scares you...

So Heather has this challenge going on. Being as I am always up for a challenge... my motto is sign up first and then figure out whether or not I can actually do it later. Not always practical or smart but it seems to get me motivated to do a lot of things I might not have done had I thought them through first.

The challenge is basically to do one thing that scares you no matter what that thing might be. It could be going on your first group run. Maybe yours is to go swim in the deep end to get over your fear of not being able to put your feet down. One of my friends signed up for an open water clinic this weekend. Only two weeks ago, she had a fear of swimming in anything other than the shallow end of the pool. Talk about taking on your fear head on! She had a great time and learned a lot. Sometimes you just have to stop listening to those voices that like to tell you what you CAN'T do and tell yourself that YOU CAN!

My fear as you might guess involves biking. Trust me, I have come a long way in a short period of time but I have a long way to go. My challenge was to take a solo ride of more than a few miles. I initially wanted to conquer 60 miles on my own but to be perfectly honest, after the race over the weekend my legs were having no part of that action. I loaded up the bike and set out Wednesday AM for my ride. Thirty-six miles later, I was back at my car ready for some air conditioning! It wasn't my favorite trail, I am pretty much addicted to my country ride that has become a Sunday tradition but I did it...on my own! SUCCESS!

What are you going to do this week to challenge yourself?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chattanooga Riverfront Triathlon Part Two...

Little did I know it would take me a full week to get around to part two... I have been off work this week which you would think would lend a lot of time to blogging. Apparently not. So here we go... Part two!

Since Wendy and I stayed at a hotel literally across the street from the bike transition, we didn't have to get up all that early which was nice. We basically got up, packed our bags and tried to figure out how to get our bikes and bags down to the 1st floor along with every other triathlete in the hotel. We ended up carrying our bikes and bags down four flights of stairs since the elevators were packed. Oddly enough, my right arm was the only muscle that was sore post-race and that was from carrying the bike down those stairs. (I really must find someone to donate a carbon fiber bike and maybe a sherpa to my cause...)

We get to transition and set up our area. My previous experience in triathlons has been a grand total of four races. They were all sprints and mostly were geared towards beginners or people who might do the race as a way of checking off something on their bucket list. This was not that kind of race. I *thought* I had seen fit people before. This race was like a fitness convention. It became a game for me and Wendy to try and spot "normal" people like us. Luckily I was racing against myself this day and tried to block out the superstars :)

Transition area set up is complete and we head to the buses that will drive us the mile up river to the swim start. The interesting thing about this race (and something that I loved) was that the swim start was seeded. When you register, you give your estimated swim time for 1500m along with your estimated race completion time. Race numbers are assigned based on your estimated swim time and then either race time or age group (we couldn't really figure out the complete break down). We were all congregated in this field for an hour or so then they started getting everyone in order by race number. I was seeded somewhat near the start so did not have to wait long. I wish I had a picture of me in line as I am sure it was quite the sight. The 6 or 8 people in front of me and also behind me in line were super fit somewhat tall guys. It was sort of a "is she in the right place" moment. Once we got in line, we inched toward the dock for the start. As you reach the dock, you sit down, ease into the water and then inch along the dock until they call your number to go. Everyone starts about 3 seconds apart so you don't have that churn and fighting for position that you do with a mass start. The best way to start the swim EVER.

I didn't feel much of a current taking me downstream but did seem to have one pushing me towards shore which I fought for about half of that leg. The second half, I found a guy who seemed to be sighting well, tucked in behind his feet and followed him in. Before I knew it, I reached the stairs to exit and was being helped up to the stairs by volunteers. I probably could have gone a bit faster on the swim but with this being my first Oly, I didn't want to burn out at the end. The swim time was actually about what I thought it should be. I had put 27 minutes as my estimate so felt like I did what was expected here.

Swim: 26:35

The run from the swim was up some concrete stadium type stairs. It was a really cool area for spectators as they could sit there and watch for their people to come in from the swim. I am not overly thrilled with my transition time but wasn't really rushing either so expected it to be a bit high. Obviously, there is room for improvement.

T1: 3:38

...and we are biking... This is where starting up front on the swim can be a mental challenge when you aren't the best biker. I got passed A LOT. I passed a very small handful of people but mostly got passed in droves by speedier riders. It is a little deflating to get passed that much. I have only really been riding about 3 months and from what I have read there is no magic bullet to increase speed other than seat time. Based on that, eventually the speed will come, right? The course was an out and back on a 4-lane highway. Pretty hilly but nothing that I would call overly steep, just a lot of long slow uphills. Towards the end I was ready to get off the bike. Obviously I need to build some more butt endurance before Augusta or it will be a long painful 56 miles. :)

Bike: 1:39:04

I was taking my sweet time in the 2nd transition and I knew it. I messed around with my Garmin for a minute (in retrospect that could have been done while I was running). I wasn't overly concerned with the transition times, mostly just wanted to finish and not be miserable. I didn't want to come off this race with a horrible experience knowing it was only half of the distance I will be doing in Augusta this September. If this race had been more of a challenge than I expected, I didn't want to risk derailing my frame of mind about the upcoming 70.3.

T2: 3:46

The run course could not have been better. The beginning was uphill for maybe a half mile. You climb some stairs and then it flat or downhill the rest of the way. The run was on a greenway along the river. I liked that it was up and back because I looked forward to different checkpoints as a way of determining where I was and how much farther I had to go. We were given icy towels at mile 1 and mile 5 (LOVED this). There were regular waterstops that also had people spraying hoses and cups of ices. At one point there were misters to run through. It was extremely HOT in Chattanooga that day with a high of 98 so it was all appreciated. My time isn't a PR by any means but the run felt good. I passed quite a few people and didn't get passed much at all so I didn't feel as "out of my league" as I did on the bike. I felt comfortable most of the way. I know I am capable of slightly faster but was satisfied with my time for this leg.

Run: 1:04:23

Overall: 3:17:24

At the finish we were greeted with another icy towel and an assortment of BBQ, Pizza and beer. At that point, I really just wanted a bagel or something simple although they do get high marks for the great food even if I wasn't feeling it at that time. I was hoping for an overall time closer to three hours so the time is a little disappointing. I am not crushed by it as I really had nothing to estimate a time off of to get a good estimate. I know the bike is my weak spot so I just need to continue to put the time in on it and maybe just pedal faster next time :)

Overall, it was a great race. It was extremely well organized from beginning to end. I never thought about it as I was racing but the race never felt crowded to me. There were 1300+ racers but never felt like I was fighting for a spot. I would definitely do it again!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chattanooga Olympic Triathlon part one...

Done and done! Chattanooga is only a 2-hour drive from Atlanta so my friend, Wendy, and I headed up Saturday afternoon to pick up our race packets and check out the course. If you have never been to Chattanooga, they have really revitalized the downtown area over the past several years. This would be a nice race to go to if you had kids as there is an aquarium, IMX theater and plenty to do in the general area. We picked up our numbers and looked around a bit before heading out for a drive.

The swim exit is at the bottom of those stairs by that truck. Wendy is recreating the run up the stairs. You can't tell from the picture but there was concrete stadium type seating there which made it great for spectators.

It was sooooo hot. I am pretty sure even this little pup was sweating.

Just in case we didn't get a good finish photo, we thought we would take care of that a day early.

Imagine these filled with 1400 or so bikes.

The bike start was right in from the Tennessee Aquarium (the building in the background)

After we checked into our hotel (which was less than a block from the start - SCORE!), we drove the bike course then headed out to seek out the swim start. Reviews of bike courses are always tough because it kind of depends on where you are from as to whether or not you would describe something as hilly. Almost everything I train on around here has hills so ... To me this had some significant long slow climbs but nothing overly difficult. The bonus is that with those long slow climbs were some nice fast downhills! I would highly recommend driving the course if you can before any race. (Riding it would be even better but not always possible). The course I had visualized in my head was so much scarier than the reality. It really helped to see that the day before the race so I could stop worrying about that leg. A quick stop at the swim and run courses and we were ready to eat!

We went to a cool little restaurant called Genghis Grill. It reminded me a lot of a Mongolian BBQ restaurant I used to go to as a kid. My Dad would have loved this place. Imagine a salad bar that has an assortment of raw meat on it (chicken, beef, sausage, shrimp, scallops, fish). Basically you fill up a stainless steel bowl with whatever meat you want, top it with veggies (think stir fry) and sauce of your choice. You take the bowl over to the grill and they stir fry it for you and serve it along with your choice of rice, noodles or a couple of of other things. Hit the spot.

The night ended up with race tattoo applications and numbering up the bikes, caps and other assorted items. Being my first olympic triathlon, maybe this is the norm. In our race packets, we were issued race tattoos and a sheet of personalized stickers. The race tattoos were to be applied the night before the race and take the place of body marking.

Wendy has a bright future in the application of race tattoos...

Not that is entirely goof-proof. We screwed one up and had to make our own. Wendy also has a bright future in body marking.

Once the tattoos were in place, we tackled the stickers. There were quite the assortment of stickers to apply: two for the bike, one for the bike helmet, one wristband, one "in case of emergency contact" (not sure where that was supposed to go), two stickers to be applied either to your running shirt or race belt, one with your age on it to be applied to your left shoulderblade, two for the swim cap and finally one that you would give to your specatator in case they wanted help remembering your number. WOW. I thought the stickers and tattoos were very cool but were a little intimidating since there were so many.

Stickers are applied, race day must-haves are gathered up and I think we are ready to go to sleep! Part 2 to come... :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

June Rewind ...

I have seen this on a few blogs so forgive me for grabbing the idea and using it myself. Sometimes being original isn't all it is cracked up to be. :) Time is flying by... Halfway through 2011. WOW. Don’t worry there is still time to get a gift for my half birthday on July 11th. Ha ha.

Miles covered by land, bike and pool: 293.5

Run Miles: 51.3

Bike Miles: 227.1

Swim Yardage: 26,838.8

Tennis Matches: 5 (several of which were before or after runs and bike rides – they count as brick workouts, right?)

Current Book: American Wife. I am enjoying it but it goes into some details that borderline on a romance novel which really isn’t my favorite type of book to read. Knowing that the book is supposedly very loosely based on George and Laura Bush kind of distracts from the story for me because I keep picturing them as the main characters. Like I said, I am enjoying it, it just took me a while to get into it. I am also listening to Bossy Pants by Tina Fey on audio while I run. It got me through 10 miles last Friday afternoon so I will call it a win. Funny as you would expect. I hate that the audio is only a little over 5 hours long as it will end after 2 long runs.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Caramel Coast Ice Cream (Publix brand). I die.

Current Drink: Water. I know. So very trendsetting.

Current Goal: Keeping my eyes on Augusta. 10 weeks out. No real time goal at this point. This may be more of a “be proud that I finished” type race instead of any particular time. I might be able to zone in on a time as I get closer. Estimating the bike leg is a little bit of a wild guess at this point.

Current Blessing: I had a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders at the end of May / early June so it is nice to be living a lot less stress free these days.

Current Excitement: The Chattanooga Olympic Triathlon on Sunday! This one is a girl’s trip. I have done a few sprints but never an Olympic distance. The race has quite a few participants as it is a USAT national qualifier. I am hoping the size of the event doesn’t freak me out. A little nervous, a little excited. Eek!

Obsession of the month: Peanut butter protein balls.

Current admission: I know this goes against all things bloggy but I don’t get the obsession with overnight oats. I have made them so many different ways. Maybe they just aren’t for me.

Indulgence of the month: Aerobars for my bike. I have had them for a few weeks now but really have not given them much use. I practiced more with them on my last ride. As I get more comfortable riding in general, I can see them being a big help. Mainly, I had not used them because riding on the hills I am always changing gears so in my mind I would be constantly getting in an out of aero. I figured out this week that I don’t have to completely get up off the aerobars to reach over and change gears (duh). Now that I have that figured out I think I can use them a bit more. I guess some things you just have to figure out for yourself…

Current wish list: still need a working oven. Hopefully soon …

Triumph of the Month: Longer rides on the bike. Getting from where I was to where I am now feels huge!

Current Bane of my Existence: washing all the workout clothes!