Sunday, August 29, 2010

If Baby I'm the bottom, you're the top!

It's a favorite old Cole Porter song of mine from the 1934 musical "Anything Goes" that strikes me as the theme song for this post.
You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.
You're sublime,
You're turkey dinner,
You're the time, the time of a Derby winner
I'm a toy balloon that is fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

Anyhow, you get the idea and if you don't then I suggest you youtube it for the Cary Grant version, he's divine.

The point of all this fuss is to point out a few of my "must-read" recommendations (including one "must-hear") for other running-related blogs/podcasts. As a general rule I check these blogs every day or so and nearly always enjoy their content when new posts are up. In no particular order, here are my top 5:

Pigtails Flying
This is a blog I discovered over a year and a half ago and read for a while before taking a break because the writer was injured and I couldn't bear to read about another injured runner while I was also injured. Last year, thanks to the power of Twitter, I re-discovered this gem and it earned its spot back on my bookmarks bar. Lucky me, I've had the pleasure of getting to know the author, the legendary TK, and even running the Green Mountain Relay with her. She's a fantastic writer who isn't afraid to share her running successes, fears, hopes, letdowns and does it all with grace and good humor. She's also a speedy runner from Queens who motivates me with her spunk. I'm betting that you'll love her as much as I do. Keep up with her on Twitter @pigtailsflying.

Races Like a Girl
This blog is a fairly recent addition to my regular reads, but I wish I'd known about it much, much sooner because it is a hilarious and usually insightful read. I met Julie, the author of RLAG because she was also a member of the GMR team and we hit it off instantly. While she's currently injured and bummed out, I am not deterred from reading because she's taking it all in stride (or lurch) and I'm certain that she's doing the right things to get herself back to running in no time. She's a super fast runner with not-so-secret hopes of making it to the Olympic trials in Houston 2012. Follow her on twitter for heads up on new blog posts @RacesLikeaGirl. She has a whole separate blog about the other masters women with plans to do big things in Houston, aptly named Houston Hopefuls which is ALSO on my top 5 list. (Don't go getting a big head about this Julie.) ;) While HH isn't updated as frequently, I'm always very excited when it is because each of the women interviewed have great stories to tell.

Dump Runners Club
Wow, this is becoming a Green Mt Relay love-fest, isn't it? Another team member from GMR, known as Runner Matt, records a great podcast that I've been listening to for at least a year and 1/2... I think. I'm bad with timeframes. Anyway, Matt's podcast is one of my favorite things to listen to while running because it usually has lots of variety to keep me interested. He talks about his own running a bit out in CO (he's wicked fast), then fills you in on elite running from time to time (which I love because I'm too lazy to keep up with it on my own, but find it very interesting) and he generally has another informative topic to discuss as well. Oh, and his favorite saying is "as well." I really enjoy DRC and suggest that you get on over to iTunes and download it for free. He also has a website that is a bit, um, weak at the moment, but worth a few minutes of your time. Find out how to become a headband-wearing member of DRC on the site. You can follow him on twitter @runnermatt.

Last but definitely not least...

Bridges Runner
I might be a bit biased on this one because the author, EG, is one of my closest friends but the girl can write about anything and make you smile. If you're convinced that the world is full of pessimists and grumps, I suggest you check out this blog for a serious dose of optimism and a side of "crazy". A strong runner from Brooklyn, Elyssa just tackled one of the biggest, wildest races of anyone I know- Pike's Peak Marathon. She ran to the top of the 14,115 ft mountain and then ran down, all part of her turning 30 celebration and you can read allll about it. Follow her adventures on twitter @nycbklyngirl

I have plenty more blogs to choose from, but I don't have the time to tackle them all at once. Check out the blogroll over to the right of the screen for more. I hope you enjoy my recommendations, I know I do! Be sure to leave them some love and tell them who sent you! ;)

What I've been up to

It has been a pretty busy couple of weeks since the NY tri, mostly because I'm on vacation until after Labor Day which means I'm free to roam all over. The plans for vacation were simple when it started: spend a little time at the beach with Mom and family, spend some time cleaning out excess stuff in the apt, get some new furniture and relax. Oh and train plenty for the upcoming Philly half and NYC marathon.
The first week of vacation went by quickly because I had to work a little on my private cases (kids I see outside of my regular job) and we were planning a trip to Canada for the weekend. Thursday morning (the 19th) I got up for a run at Mom's house feeling sluggish but wanting to get in a few more miles before the 5K that night. I moseyed out the door, ambled down the street a bit while I got my iPod set up to listen to Dump Runner's Club podcast and finally took a few running steps. Not more than 3 steps into my run I felt a sharp pain in my upper quad, it felt like a car had shot a rock at me, but there was no car. I lifted up my shorts to inspect and out flew a WASP! No, not an old lady who belongs in the Hamptons at this time of year, but an actual devilish wasp. He'd stung me and my leg was red, but I tried to run anyway (it was a no go.OW) so I instead gimped back home to ice it. It turns out he'd stung me twice! Ow, ow, ow. I iced a bit and headed back out for a measely 3 or so miles. It was actually kind of fun to go out for such a short run.
Thursday night was the final 5K of the Van Cortlandt Park summer series and I REALLY wanted to be there. These races have become a sort of family-like get together. I've gotten to know a bunch of the other runners and often see people thatI know from twitter or just through friends. I didn't have much time to warm up so I knew this race was going to hurt a bit. I'll spare you the details of the first 2 miles except to say I *finally* ran a respectable 2nd mile in 8:17 (my previous ones have been upwards of 8:35, ouch) on that difficult hilly mile. I was pushing hard to catch a girl in front of me who looked like she might be in my age group because I really wanted to "Muffin" for the last race. I was hot on her trail until I got a tightness in my diaphragm that threatened to sideline me. It hurt like crazy, but I assessed and found that I could still breathe and run, so I made myself keep going. As we hit the flats for the last 1/2 mi, a guy yelled out "you're 3rd and 4th can still catch them!" Oh feck. I spent the next cruel 800m or so fighting it out in my head, "you can catch them!" "but its going to HURRRT, I don't wanna!" "too bad, it'll be great to be top 3, look that girl ahead is losing it a little!" "no, she isn't!" It went on and on like that, but in the end I was gaining very slowly on the girl who had been in 2nd for much of the race. With 200m or so left to go, I turned on the burners and passed her!! It was enough effort to leave me heaving at the finish, always the sign of a solid effort. It was also a course PR for me at 22:54. I walked away with a muffin for my age group and 3rd place female overall. Sweet.
6:58 first mile, 8:17 second mile, 6:58 3rd mile and 0:39 last push at a 6:05 pace! woah.

Immediately after the race, I drove home and hubby and I drove up to The 1000 Islands region of Canada where we enjoyed a really wonderful weekend. We did some jet skiing, tubing, water skiing (well I did, hubby wimped out) and plenty of reading and relaxing. I also swam around his family's island which was fun except where I got in a mess of weeds. Ew, I do not like weeds. It was a really great weekend, but being on the island (which is mostly rocky with trees and their house and cabins) meant no long run for the weekend. I was okay with that, I needed to chill.

Since I didn't get my long run in on the weekend, I needed to tackle it early in the week. Monday was rainy and icky and I was feeling tight from the long car ride home, so I just did an easy 3.5 miles or so in my park, Fort Tryon, while hubby did his post-work yoga. It was misty and drizzly, but the temp was great and there were plenty of other people out running. It felt good to be moving again.

Tuesday was a busy day for me with seeing kids and running around town, so I planned to do my 13-15 miles that evening. Yikes, evening long runs are hard, but lucky for me- Maria needed to do some miles too and offered to join me if I could wait until after she got out of work. I was more than happy to wait in order to have company! We met at Columbus circle and decided on a lower Manhattan perimeter loop to give us about 13 miles. It was a great run with excellent company (even if she did have to make a few, um, stops along the way.) :) We got in nearly 13 miles and I was starved by the time we finished! I raided Whole Foods for some chocolate soymilk, rolls and an apple before heading home. I never could have finished that run on my own, thanks M!

So here comes the crappy part of the story... the Thursday of the wasp sting/VCP5K/drive to Canada, husband told me that he was going to London (I knew that already) but earlier than he anticipated and he was to be staying over Labor day weekend, so I had been invited to come along for the 12 day trip!! OMG, right? So I spend the weekend and early part of last week being cautiously excited, because nothing is ever set in stone. On Wed morning, we were under the impression that we'd be leaving Thursday night and obviously they weren't going to go back on their word, so I was safe to get excited for the trip. I took the car and extra cat food down to NJ on Wed, did some shopping for the trip, etc. Wed night before heading back to the city via (gasp) train or bus, I got the call that the plans had changed, no more stay over the weekend, blah blah some other bullshit, and I was no longer going to London on my free 12 day trip. Well fuckity fuck, that was some really shitty news. I had planned out runs in London, made plans with friends of friends to get together, nearly registered for a 5K and WHOOSH, the wind was knocked out of me. It was a huge dissapointment and I still feel bad that husband had to break the news to me after his work told him the news. Ouch.

Anyway, here I am relaxing and shopping in NJ while trying to make the most of my remaining staycation. Yeah, I know its hard to feel sympathy for someone who's had their free trip to London taken away... but it sucks. What's worse- my hubby is there now enjoying himself and I'm trying very hard to be happy for him, but it comes with little pangs of sadness and jealousy that I'm not there too. I'm done moping and sniffling, but I'm still not entirely over it. Okay enough of that, this isn't a livejournal for feck sake.

So that's what I've been up to for the last week or so, how about you?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Some results

Here are the detailed results-
-Overall Place: 97/234
-2nd place F 25-29
-1st in my AG in the swim AND the run
-4 mins behind the 1st place girl on the bike
-4th place female overall in the swim
-6th place female overall in the run
-17th place female overall in the bike

-13th female overall/64

Times: (first row is this time, second row is June)

....Swim ......... T1 ................ Bike ................ T2 ............... Run ........... Total
15:19.055    02:47.794    0:59:58.594    01:53.601    20:59.218    1:40:58.26

16:19.971     03:03.131   1:02:42.271    01:15.810    21:50.609    1:45:11.79

Wahoo for improvement!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Revenge of the tri

Back in June I did my first ever triathlon and came in (hold the jokes) 4th in my age group. I can't even remember the gap between my time and 3rd, but I remember being really, really excited by that. I've since been teased for my 4th place "non-win" and while I can handle the teasing, I've been secretly hoping for redemption. I've gone through the numbers a few times to see where I could improve...all signs point to the bike and even the run.Today was my day to prove that I have what it takes. I expect a new variation on the teasing however, I'm not that naïve.

Another early start today, I carried my bike and loads of tri crap down our 80 stairs all at once around 5:15am. Anyone who lives in a high floor walk-up knows about the 'carry as much as you possibly can to avoid multiple trips' method.

The drive is peaceful and calming, so I started the day on a mellow note. I got there early, peed a number of times and stretched my cranky hip a million different ways. I ran into Baker, a friend from Tuesday speed workouts and we chatted and killed time for a while before heading to the beach.

Despite 80+degree water temps, I still got a handful of "no wetsuit?" comments. I'd rather freeze to death or get nibbled at by fish than get into a wetsuit for a swim. I was in the second wave of the swim which went off 2 mins after the first. I plan to email NY Tri and suggest that they either put me in the first wave or leave more time between waves. I caught the first wave easily which is frustrating because you catch the worst swimmers first (read:breaststroke kick to the head, crooked swimmers..I could go on and on) and you have to weave through them. Ick. After the turnaround though, I got free of the struggling back-of-packers and had some free space to pick up speed. I caught Baker on the way out and trotted into transition with him and his friend.

The bike is not exactly a strength for me, but at least I'm not flailing like the bad swimmers or hitting anyone. I hopped on and began the almost immediate climb. Oy, the ITB pain I'd worked on eliminating all week was still there. Oh well, I sucked it up and enjoyed the ride. On past rides, I've gotten into a groove but not really pushed myself to ride hard. Essentially, I don't know how to race on a bike yet. Today I had a better idea of my abilities thanks to my 43 mi tough ride last week so I was able to look at my speed on my computer and say, "hey, this is NOT fast enough. Get going." It was hard, but it helped keep me in race mode. That is tough to do for 16miles, especially on the long climbs. Somewhere along the way I was able to put the knee pain in the back of my mind and just keep moving.

The run at this race in June was too slow, there's no other way to put it. After a 7:24avg 10K at NYC tri, I knew that the 8:10ish pace I did last time was pathetic. This time I knew it was mostly uphill out and downhill for the last mile, so I went out as hard as I could. After the first 1/2 mi of tight-legged trotting, I found my legs and set off to catch the guys ahead of me that passed me on the bike. 7:56 first mile, 7:36 and ??. It was a progression run, and I'm much happier with those splits than last time. I finished with a little burst of speed and a sprint urged by Baker, who was finishing his run as I'd been starting mine. I felt really good.

I hadn't seen a lot of women during the race AT ALL. I saw about 4 on the bike, 2 I passed and 2 passed me (I hunted them down and passed them on the run) and I saw just another few on the run. That was very different than last time also. I told myself that it was a good thing.

In the end, I took 2nd place in my age group with a time somewhere around 1:37-1:40. I'm not sure exactly. Whatever the time was, I'm really happy because it is an improvement on 2 months ago and I got my revenge. :)
Too bad my IT-band is angry at me for getting on the bike again. Back to self-rehab.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Why Not" Friday

One of my favorite summer things to do is to pack up on a Thursday night and get the hell out of the hot, sweaty city for a long weekend. I don't work on Friday's, not really by choice, we don't have enough kids that need PT for me to work full-time, but I digress. The opportunity to slip onto the GWB on a traffic-free Thursday night after a soccer game was irresistible yesterday and I made it to Jersey in record time. After stuffing my face with Mom's blueberry sour cream coffee cake and laying out my gear, I hit the sack.

4:55am came quick and I dragged myself up to get ready for a sunrise swim in Bay Head with a local triathlon group, the Sandy Hookers. (love it.) I've joined a few of their swims this summer and last, and always enjoy the company. Last time I swam, the week before the NYC Tri, the water was a bathtub 75 and I had a great swim. It being August and all, I expected the water today to be closer to 78 and unbearably warm...boy was I in for a surprise. The last few times I joined them, there have been at least 1 or 2 other folks without wetsuits, but not today. 25 of us geared up to dive in, but I was the lone nearly-naked swimmer. I got a lot of "umm you're not wearing a wetsuit?!" to which I replied, "nah, I don't need one." One guy tested the water while we were getting ready and came back to the benches suggesting that it may be too cold for him to go in. In my head I'm thinking, "wimp, geezer, etc." I walked to the shoreline with all of the black fish (that is what they look like in wetsuits) and felt the icy water splash up my calves. OH WOW.

The water was NOT 78, but way, way colder. I figured it was around 69 or so because I couldn't fathom August being any colder... more on that later. I dove in and swam out to meet the other brave souls who were ahead and we treaded water while waiting for the folks on shore to hike up their skirts and get in so we could get moving. After substantial whining, everyone was in and we were off. It felt amazing! I was definitely chilly, but fine. I'm not modest so I'll tell you I was in the lead 2 the whole swim with a nice guy who was chewing tobacco before and after the swim. Gross, but unimportant. We waited at each jetty for everyone to catch up (bad plan) and I got very concerned looks each time, "how ya doing? cold?" Duh. :) When we reached the final jetty someone guessed at the temp of the water and one of the group organizers corrected them and said, "well yesterday the temp was 62, I'd say this is 62 also." I wish he'd not mentioned that because the rest of the way back I was wondering at what temp I'd get hypothermia. Oh well. The swim back was easier than out because the current was coming from the south and we also didn't stop to regroup. That was a blessing because I had no feeling in my hands or from the knees down, but it also meant I spent some quality time alone. I had one moment of "oh god, where is everyone else?" but I could see that I was barely 400ft from shore and neednt worry. I was so cold that I contemplated getting out with 1/4 of a mi or so to go, but decided that jogging along the beach would have sucked with numb feet, so I stayed in and finished it up. I think we swam about 2 miles, around 50 mins for me.

As I stumbled along with my frozen feet up the beach, the guy who didn't do the swim because it was too cold offered me sips of his hot coffee. I'd never met him before today, but I gladly accepted. I was shivering insanely and my lips were blue, but I was kind of proud to have survived the cold and had a great swim too. It took nearly 1/2 an hour to stop shivering and that 30 mins included a big towel, a fleece, the car heater and a hot latte. Once I warmed up, I began sweating because the outside temp was nearing 90 at 7am.

And then the "why not" portion of the day....

After my trip to the coffee shop (where I changed my outfit), I returned to the car and gathered my crap for a bike ride. I haven't been on the bike since the tri 3 weeks ago and have been dying to get on. I also have a tri next weekend, so I needed to get my ass back in the saddle. I puttered around and made sure I had everything before heading out with the intent of riding 15-20 miles. The tri is a sprint next week and the bike is a hilly 15mi, so I just wanted to get in some miles and 15-20 seemed reasonable and not too taxing. I did just swim 2 miles in the ocean, I deserved to slack on the bike, right? Wrong. A mile into the ride, I caught up with 2 men and a woman on bikes moving a little faster than me, but a reasonable pace for me to catch. They were friendly and welcomed me to join them so I figured "why not?" I feel much safer riding with others anyway, especially on busy roads. They asked if I was going to Island Beach State Park and I casually answered that I was headed that way. What I should have said was that I was going in that direction, because IBSP was 12 miles away from where we met. Surely I was going to turn around before that. I was having some ITB pain in my left knee, which happens often on the bike sometimes. As we approached the park, I realized that I was at 13 miles and oops, hadn't turned around yet. We were riding into the wind most of the way (remember, the current coming from the south in the water, the wind was too.) so I told myself that it wouldn't be a big deal to ride the length of the park with them and then turn around and have the wind at our backs for the ride home. They asked if I was going to go with them further and I couldn't think of any reason not to, so I did.

They were CRUISING once we hit the park- 22mph! Way fast for me, but they told me to draft and we had a nice ride out..into the wind. When we turned around, we discovered that the wind was changing and now was coming from the NW. DAMN! The ride back was hot, hot, hot and I gulped my water and chomped my GU chomps and we refilled water and I drank some more. Just thinking about the ride back is making me exhausted right now, it was long but I really enjoyed it. They were excellent company and I showed them a few back roads to get off of Rt 35 for a bit. I was sad to leave them, they were staying a mile or so past my car, but I was happy to get off of the bike and so was my knee. Ouch. I'll be icing that for a few days.

Despite my post-swim/ride savage hunger, I was so happy. I rode 43 miles! And why? Well, all I canthink of is "why not"?

I have an ocean swim race tomorrow morning- 1 mile in the chilly water! Last year I missed placing in my age group by 30 secs or so after no open water training, so I'm hoping to redeem myself this year.