Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday Rides and Randomness...

I hit all my training this week which felt really good!  Motivation is in full effect!  I was a little worried how my new crossfit love might incorporate into it but it seemed to fill in just fine.  For the most part, I did my normal triathlon related workouts in the AM and then did crossfit 4 times this week in the afternoon.  Right now, I am in the "this is new and fun and I want to go all the time" stage but I know that isn't smart so am limiting myself to 4 times a week.  May drop it to 3 if my other workouts seem like they are going to suffer.  Just trying to be smart about it while remembering that the real goal is doing well at my upcoming races.  

Speaking of upcoming races...  It is looking like it is going to be a Rev3 kind of year.  That race in Williamsburg has been calling me since it was announced.  I have always wanted to go to Williamsburg and, well, now that there is a race there it just seems like a good excuse to go!  I officially added that one to the race roster this week.  

Saturday, I met up with my group for a ride at Silk Sheets.  (crazy name isn't it?)  It is on the opposite side of town from me and for that reason have never hauled myself out there to ride the course despite how much I had heard about it.  Once we hit the roads on our bikes, I realized that it pretty much was the same kind of course that I love so much and ride in Dacula.  Nice country roads, farms, low traffic and rolling hills.  There was only one dog - a rather large German Shepherd in the road but thankfully he was not interested in the chase.  The perfect place to ride.  If you live in Atlanta on the south side, I highly recommend it!  If you are up in Gwinnett or on the north side, give me a shout and I can send you the map for the Dacula ride to save you some gas :)    

... and in honor of the number of eggs it seems like I have been eating lately, I thought this was funny.  Hope you guys had an awesome weekend :)


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cycle Palooza...

Weather this past weekend in Atlanta was a complete washout!  Saturday, I was signed up for a 5k that was cancelled at the last minute due to lightening in the area.  (Bummer!).   Sunday, I was supposed to meet up with my group for a run at Stone Mountain but that was cancelled for lightening as well.  Luckily, my third event for the weekend was indoors.  Hooray!  

Cycle Palooza is a giant 2 hour spin class put on by Lifetime Fitness (my favorite gym in the universe...).  We got some sweet cycling jerseys and Spinerval DVDs as SWAG!  As luck would have it, I just happened to set up my bike next to a group of people I knew.  It really was luck because I had no idea they would even be there.  The fact that I picked the bike next to theirs was just icing on the cake.    

(This is Andrea and Ken.  Andrea has done two IMs and I think she is working on her 3rd.  Ken is working on his 2nd IM at B2B this year.)

The picture does not do it justice but there were probably 200 bikes set up in the gym for the class.  A large screen was set up in the middle that was playing various triathlon and biking videos throughout the class.  They even had a live DJ which was pretty awesome.    

The first hour was a lot of speed intervals.  Going into it, I was worried that it might seem like the longest ride ever but the time flew by!  Before I knew it, we were one hour in and taking a water break.  During the break I tried out a new source of fuel that I found at Trader Joe's.  It is made for kids but since it was portable and fit into my no sugars/no grains lifestyle I thought I would give it a try.  Seemed to work great - this particular one was a puree of apples and strawberries.  They also make a banana one that I am going to test as well.  

 Hour two brought a combination of climbing, speed intervals and a lot of sweat.  I can honestly say it was the best spin class I have ever attended.  It was a great workout, the instructor was motivating and we all had a great time.  All that and it was made even better by the fact the I ran into friends!   A great way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.  :)


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Finding Motivation...

Earlier this year, I did what a lot of you do every January and I pieced together a race calendar.  Honestly, outside of not doing another iron distance this year, I really didn't have a strong opinion on my race season.  No real goals, I just knew I wanted to step back a bit from the volume that preparing for iron distance races brings.  I ended up signing up for a couple of half irons but my heart really wasn't into it.  I mean, I wanted to do the races but just couldn't get enthused about getting ready for them.  It has been a struggle to find the motivation these past couple of months.  No reason in particular.  I kind of feel like I just needed a break from training and being on a schedule.

Motivation is a funny thing, you can find it in the most random acts or moments.  Earlier this week, we had our lawn guy come out and dig up our old bushes and replace them with new ones.  He cleaned up the yard to the point where it looks like a whole new house which is huge considering my house is 30+ years old.  No longer do I pull into the driveway and think how pitiful the yard is but this week I have pulled into the driveway and just smiled at how awesome it looks.  It has made me want to repaint and do some things to the inside now too!  (Side note, yes we have a lawn guy - sadly I do not have a green thumb and have NO IDEA how to maintain the lawn or any plant for that matter.  My aunt has a fantastic way with plants and my Dad and stepmom are pretty awesome with planting as well but alas I never managed to pick up this skill.)  Simply cleaning up the yard made all the difference in how I felt about the house.

The same thing sort of happened training-wise this week.  You might remember that last year I raced in the Iron Girl Triathlon at Lake Lanier.  Well, Friday I was contacted by them to see if I wanted to race again this year.  I had been on the fence about it but just couldn't commit - you know that motivation issue....  sigh.  In fact, a week prior I had almost filled out the registration form but for some reason at the last minute decided against it.  When I received the email, I jumped at the chance to sign up!  I really do love that race.  I have ridden the course many times both on my own and leading group rides.  For a sprint, it is challenging and I really love the spirit of the iron girl race series.  (BTW Registration for the Iron Girl Atlanta is still open if you want to get in on an awesome sprint triathlon with some great SWAG.  Use discount code RUNKDUBRUNIG for $10 off entry.)

Between that email from IG and the announcement from RunDisney about the Dopey Challenge, the switch was tripped and I was in full on race mode!  (Have you heard of the Dopey Challenge?  5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon on consecutive days - yes please!).  Nothing changed with my training or anything else in my life but those two little things were enough to light the fire again.  Crazy how easy it is to change your outlook.  Feeling officially pumped about this year - see you at the races! 

** Just so you know...   Iron Girl provided me with a race entry; however, all opinions are my own.**  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Life lessons from crossfit...

So I have been doing a little thing called crossfit lately. You may have heard of it.  I kid.  Seriously, though if you haven't heard of it, you can read about it here.  Basically, it is a form of strength training and then some.  I am not the type to go into a gym and just bust out a workout.  I generally need a pre-written set (written by someone else) or some kind of boot camp type group.  It is not something I have done a lot of so I gravitate towards the group settings where I don't have to come up with a plan on my own.  Enter crossfit.

I am currently in the third week of their "intro" program.  I think every gym handles it differently but at mine, you have to go through this program in order to be allowed to do the daily workouts (they call them WODs).  It makes sense, really.  Show everyone the basics of what they need to know so you don't end up hurting yourself.  It has been quite the crash course.  I am almost to the end of it and have only scratched the workout surface.  Honestly, it is a little overwhelming because I feel like I am never going to remember all these things.  (Mostly they show us proper form for various squats, presses, pulls and a few gymnastic type moves - handstand pushups anyone?  yeah, me either...).  We talk about them and then we try some of the more basic things out.

I have actually done really well until the last couple of classes.  Yesterday was pull ups so my lack of upper body strength was shining forth.  Meh.  Not many people can do a pullup so my inability wasn't a complete surprise.  Today was a review of things we had already learned in theory but had not really practiced.  The form on my overhead squats got me.  The main trainer was trying to coach me through them as I balanced the bar above my head.  It was frustrating.  One time I would have the bar positioned right but not squat down far enough, the next time I was squatting enough but my elbows weren't really locked.  Ugh.  Hips back, elbows locked, press through the heels, don't drop the bar on your head.... (that last one was my own personal coaching advice).  I will get it eventually. I think I can, I think I can...

The thing that I love about crossfit is that it is something different most every day.  The downside is that you are constantly learning new skills and you might not be that good at them right off.  It is one of those 'check your ego at the door' situations which isn't always easy.  I have been doing a lot of running in zone 2 lately (as have a few other friends) and the discussion often comes up about how you have to get over yourself when running at that pace because it is generally much slower than your normal pace.  It isn't easy to let people pass you but you need to stay the course in order to reap the benefits that zone training can give you.  In the long run, slowing down will help you speed up.  The trainer guy from crossfit had told me a similar thing a few days ago.  Take it slow in the beginning, don't get caught up in the competition and just work at your own pace.  If you go too fast your form suffers and you won't progress.  I need to remind myself of that not only at crossfit but in my triathlon group as well.  No one WANTS to be the last person up that hill on a bike ride but not everyone can be first.  The most important thing is to get it done.  Don't let your frustration or your attitude hold you back from what you can accomplish.  Truth.  The only person that can hold you back is yourself.  I need to keep reminding myself of that!      


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mind Games...

Sunday was the start of the spring season for ALTA which is a tennis league here in Atlanta.  Among tennis types, it is a pretty big deal.  Over the past several years, tennis has kind of taken a back seat to other sporting activities in my life but makes an appearance here and there when I have time.  In ALTA, I tend to run into two types of people.  The types that either plays for fun or the type that are super competitive.  I am in the playing for fun category.  Not that I don't want to win - I definitely do - but I prefer a friendly match.  I am sort of the cruise director on the court.  I like to know that everyone is having a good time.

Sunday, my tennis partner and I were playing against an overly competitive type.  One tell tale sign that you are dealing with such a type is that they start with the mind games.  (There are actually books telling you how to get into the mind of your tennis opponent).  Normally, they have a game face on and are not overly friendly from the start.  Such was the case with this woman.  There was a small band aid on the court near the net during warm up.  It looked like it had not been used - not bloody or particularly gross - but she insisted on picking it up.  She wanted the band aid off the court so badly that she rifled through the trash to find a napkin with several pieces of gum stuck to it to use to pick up the band aid.  Touching that nasty trash seemed like a better idea than just leaving the band aid on the court.  When we won the toss and elected to let them serve, her remark was "oh good that is what we wanted".  When a ball would hit the net, she would insist that we pick it up immediately because it distracted her (in 99% of matches, you would just push the ball up into the net and leave it there until the point ended).  She would take an excessive amount of time to walk on the court/pick up balls/serve.  Had she just done any one of these things on their own, I wouldn't have given it a second thought; however, doing all these things throughout the match really seemed to be more of a way to try and get in our heads.  It works to some extent because you catch yourself thinking about what a psycho this person is and less about your game.  Once you settle in and get over the attempts to control the mental game it becomes kind of funny.  Our mental game was stronger than our opponent's attempts to get in our head.  It doesn't always work out that way.

I can think of plenty of times where I lost what should have been an easy match because something had me off my game.  Something might have been said or done or maybe something happened before the match and unrelated to the match that had my mind elsewhere.  I had a coach tell me that they felt the reason I had been on a little losing streak was not so much my game but that mentally I needed to become more competitive.  Probably true.  I know I do have a fair amount of mental toughness but I think it only comes only comes into play in certain scenarios.  Usually I see it in situations where I have no other choice.  A perfect example is at B2B last year.  I lost my aero bottle in the first half mile of the ride.  Something like that could really throw your entire day.  It definitely changed my hydration plan and added to the number of stops I ended up having to make during that leg.  I stressed out over it for a couple of miles and came up with Plan B.  I think that was pretty much mental toughness in effect right there but I really had no other choice.  What was I going to do, toss in all the training I had put in and walk the bike back to the rack because I lost my water bottle?  

The mind is such a crazy thing.  One thought, action or off handed comment can so easily start whirling around in your head and change your day (or your tennis game).  I know I am susceptible to that stuff so I try hard to develop the skin of an armadillo.  CR tells me all the time that I need to worry less about what people think and just do my thing.  Easier said than done.  Sunday, on the tennis court, my armadillo armor must have been in full effect.  Maybe you can teach this old dog new tricks :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Going off road...

A couple of weeks back, sleeping in won out over meeting my team for a scheduled Sunday morning run.  That has happened a few times lately.  I suppose the candle is being burnt at both ends and it catches up with you every once in a while.  Who knows...  Either way, once I wiped the sleep out of my eyes I decided to go hit the trail at Stone Mountain.

One of the bonuses to training with a group is that it has introduced me to routes that I might not have taken on my own.  Take the trail at Stone Mountain Park for example.  I mean, HELLO, I have spent 5 years running loops around that mountain and never once ventured onto the trail.  Once I did, it was true love.

As far as trails go, I would imagine that the one at Stone Mountain might be a good one to try as your first.  It is very well marked (although on the rocky sections it might take you a minute to locate the hash marks) and really how lost could you get knowing that the mountain has a road going all the way around it?  It isn't like you are going to be lost in the wilderness for 40 days.

If you are new to trail running, I would probably get some trail running shoes.  There tend to be a lot of up and down, climbing, crossing streams, etc.  Trail running shoes will give you better grip but also you won't trash your regular running shoes.  I use Inov-8 Trail shoes but there are a lot of brands out there.

You should know too that road running times do not equal trail running times.  It may take me 45 minutes to run 5 miles, it takes me over an hour and some change to do 5 miles on the trail.  There is something kind of freeing about it, just running out there in the woods.  Kind of takes you back to being a kid again.  Assuming you played in the woods a lot as a kid like I did...  I also love that I am able to see sides of the park that I normally wouldn't see if I am just following the paved road.

Hope you all had a great weekend!



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lazy Sunday Eggs...

It turns out the run video taping did not happen this morning.  Late yesterday, I got a text that it was going to be too cold (and I whole heartily agreed).  I mean, I don't mind running non stop in 30 degree weather but wasn't really looking forward to running and stopping and standing around talking about in the cold.  I think I have had one too many cold tennis matches lately and am over bundling up to stand around in the weather at this point :)   There was an option to meet for a run at 7:30 AM.  The meetup location was about 45 minutes away which is normal but adds up to an early wake up call for me.  For some reason this weekend I have just felt the need to sleep in and catch the workout later in the day.  So I did.

The funny thing about CR is that he always wakes up early.  Every day.  It is physically impossible for him to sleep in.  I do not envy him.  The other funny thing is that no matter what time he wakes up, he will wait to eat breakfast until I wake up knowing I will make it for him.  Can't say I blame him, it is much easier that way.

We are still avoiding sugars and grains 99% of the time but do allow ourselves a treat once a week or so.  It has been six weeks for me and about a month for CR.  Knowing he was probably getting tired of eggs, this morning I asked him if he might want pancakes as a treat.  "No thanks, I don't want the sugar".  What?  It is really amazing how quickly you can wean yourself from sugar when you cut it out completely.  It just isn't all that appealing anymore.  It is even more amazing to hear your spouse tell you he doesn't want sugar when you thought maybe he was just going along with your eating plan to humor you.  Hmmm.  Maybe he is buying into this thing after all.

So today there were no pancakes but instead we went with eggs.  My favorite new variation of eggs is something I discovered via a cookbook that is not about avoiding sugars and grains but I love it nonetheless.  (Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything - The Basics - LOVE this book.)   My new eggy love is a spinach frittata for one.  Absolutely delicious and worth the extra five minutes.

Heat oven to 325.  Melt about a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil in a small (6 inch or so) oven proof skillet over medium heat.  Add a small handful of spinach.

It will look like too much but after you saute it for a quick second, it will reduce down and look more reasonable.  

At this point, add two eggs and a small handful of cheese (I used parmesan-romano but really any cheese works).  Today I also added a spoonful of pico de gallo.  The beauty of this is you can add whatever makes you happy.  As an example, for CR, I left out the spinach and added chopped ham.  You could add mushrooms, peppers, onions, or whatever you love. 

Give it all a quick stir.  Yes, it is pretty much scrambled eggs but ... better! After you combine it all, let it sit for about a minute without disturbing.  You will be able to tell that the bottom is cooking.  It will be slightly bubbly and the top will still be a little runny.  It is a little hard to see in the picture but mostly you just don't want to over cook the bottom.  

Pop the skillet into the oven for about 5 minutes or until the top looks cooked through.  Mine seems to take more like 4 minutes.  Grab your potholder to pull the skillet out of the oven.  (Trust me I have made that mistake.  Duh.  I know the handle will be hot but somehow it doesn't always register.  Don't judge.)

I usually just fold it on top of itself omelette style and devour it.  The baking gives it a nice texture that you don't get with a regular scrambled eggs.  Oh so good! 

Now I am off to pay my penance for blowing off the 30 degree run this morning.  I heard there were actually snow flurries.  It is currently 38 degrees.  MUCH more reasonable for a run!  I think I am going to hit the trail at Stone Mountain.  Who knows, I might even take pictures :)


Saturday, March 2, 2013

well that didn't last long...

The funny thing about taking a break from blogging is that you realize it is an outlet for you.  As much as you think you don't have anything to say, you keep thinking of things that you should share on your blog.  If only you had not decided to take a break from the blog.  Oh that.  Hmmm.  How about I just post once a week or so and no one gets disappointed if I don't provide a bunch of pictures.  I mean, that kind of forces you to use your imagination which is a good thing, right?  Thanks for all the words of encouragement on my last post, maybe you are stuck with me for a bit longer :)

This week in the world of work, we met with our accountant about the thing that most people meet with their accountant about this time of year - taxes.  Joy.  We bought a business in June of last year.  It was a huge leap of faith and not something we have a lot of experience with but it has been great  so far.  As you might expect there has been a lot of learning.  Our outlook for the first year is just to kind of keep everything "as is" as much as possible until we have experienced a full year.  By doing that, we figure that we will know how much we can expect to pay in terms of insurance, taxes, etc. and get a feel for everything we need to do to keep things running smoothly.  Did I mention our new business was a gun store and range?  Yeah.  To say this year has been anything but the norm would be an understatement.  If guns and ammo aren't really your thing, let me just say in short (without getting political) that the recent talks of gun control have caused a run on guns and ammo.  On paper, it seems like it would be a good thing for us but the reality is that even though we sold a lot of stock in the last few months, none of the distributors have anything left in their warehouses for us to replenish what we sold.  Same with the manufacturers.  Look online and try to find any kind of ammo.  Not there.  People are buying ammo and hoarding it in fear of what might happen in Congress.  So our year of learning the ins and outs of the business has been anything but the norm.  Still much better than my 9 to 5 job at the bank but a little more stress attached to it :)

In the world of triathlon, I registered for my two big races this week.  I am doing the 70.3 at Rev 3 Knoxville and  the 70.3 at Rev 3 Anderson.  My team and I were supposed to hit the outdoors on our bikes this weekend on our bikes but we wimped out due to the cold and opted for another trainer session.  I further wimped out and slept in late.  I felt bad about it but sometimes you just need sleep.  ZZZZZ.  I did get up and head out to the spin class at Lifetime which turned out to be GREAT!  The spin instructors at our Lifetime are kind of hit and miss.  There are a few that a like and at least one that makes it seem like the longest hour in the history of time.  It really is a sad situation.  Today's class was great.  We did a lot of climbing, the instructor was enthusiastic and the music was perfect.  I will definitely go back when I can!

Tomorrow my training group is scheduled for an outdoor run.  It is going to be a run analysis session where they are going to tape us running and give us pointers about our gait and whatnot.  Kind of excited!  It is forecasted to be about 30 which is pretty darn cold for us so am not even sure what to wear for this sort of thing. I mean, if we are going to be running that is one thing but I suspect there will be a lot of standing around.  I am getting cold just thinking about it.  I am bringing hand warmers - most definitely!