Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I've Been Up To

The other day I realized that, other than a few race reports, I haven't posted on my blog much.  Blasphemy!  So in a nutshell, here is what I've been up to this winter:

Well duh!  Nothing crazy, nothing special, nothing outrageous, just some good old fashioned hard work day in and day out.  Unlike last winter where I spent half of the cold, nasty months away at camps or in sunny SC, this year I choose to stay at home the entire winter (save a 4 day get away for the Coast Ride which was more for fun that for fitness).  And it's been great.  Camps are fun (and riding my bike outside is even MORE fun) but staying at home has allowed me to stick to my routine and this is where I thrive.  The biggest differences between my training this winter vs last include a rather sizable increase in swim volume, more intensity in my running miles and a slight decrease in bike volume.  You can't even begin to imagine how excited I am about the fact that Friday is March and March means the start of the racing season!!!!!!!!

I've never slept so much at night, took so many naps, or spent so much time in my recovery boots as I have this past winter.  It's been divine.  I've stepped back a bit from some of my nutrition work duties and this has given me the time to rest up and relax more than ever.  Oh, and Dirk started making me do my recovery runs at 8:30-9:00 pace.  At first I hated it but now I quite like it.  That and I finally learned how to ride at 110 watts for recovery rides.  I thought this might be impossible but no really, it can be done.  My next goal might be to see if I can do a recovery ride at under 100 watts!  :)

Spending Time With Oscar
The hardest part of being away for much of the winter last year was that I *really* missed Oscar.  This winter has been the exact opposite!  It's awesome and it makes me so happy.  We (in no particular order):

1) Have taken advantage of the $4 movie nights on Wednesdays at the movie theater close to our house, on multiple occasions.  And you get free popcorn too!  We've seen 3 or 4 movies in the past couple weeks which has to be some kind of record for us.  In our previous 10 years of marriage, we didn't see that many movies in the theater in an entire year!

2) Made doughnuts!

They were tasty!
3) Are going to start a class (tonight actually) at our church called Origins.  Some of the world's experts on intelligent design will be speaking and we are both pretty excited to learn!

I got some sort of reading bug in me and have now read more books these first 2 months of 2013 than I read in all of 2012!  Or 2011,

Drug Testing
This past Sunday I had my very first out of competition testing with USADA!  Kind of a funny story, the drug testers came just as Oscar and I got ourselves all tucked in to watch a movie on tv (with our eyes closed).  We heard the knock on the door but since we weren't expecting anyone, and we never answer the door, we ignored it.  But the knock kept coming.  I finally sent Oscar to peek out the window (without being seen!) to see if he could figure out who it was.  He reported back that it was a man and woman, nobody he had ever seen before, and they were still standing at the door.  We ignored them for a bit longer before we both realized they weren't going away (and Roxy was going absolutely nuts of course!).  Oscar went down to open the door and then I hear "it's USADA!".  OH!  I guess we have to answer our door now!  :)  

It's a pretty neat process.  The DCOs (doping control officers) that did my testing were a married couple that had to drive quite a distance to get to me.  They were so nice and while I was drinking, drinking, drinking so that I could produce a sample, we had time to chat and get to know them a little bit.  They complimented me on the thoroughness of my whereabouts forms at which point I realized that these people sitting our living room have known my every move for the past 2 months.  Kind of weird!  Oscar has determined that after he and I retire from our jobs, we are going to become USADA testing officials so we can travel around and collect urine and blood from athletes.  :)  

Anyway, I got lots of good practice with the process because my first urine sample was too dilute (they check the specific gravity) so I had to do it all over again!  No blood this time.  

I now know all about the USADA "A" and "B" samples.
And I think that about sums it up.  Winter has been good to me (and I haven't pulled out my hair quite yet because of the cold, snowy weather!) and spring is just around the corner.  Right?!  :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spring Thaw 10 Miler

Today I ran a 10 mile race.  I've run this race before, perhaps 4 or 5 times over the last 7 or so years.  My goal was to run under 1:04 which I've done only once before in 2009.

I was excited when I found Jocelyn at the start line.  Jocelyn is a VERY good runner (and also a very awesome person).  Like one of the "fastest amateur marathon splits at Kona" good.  She always beats me at running races but I thought *MAYBE* I could hang with her for a while if I felt really good.  She is a very good pacer and never goes out too fast and she told me she wanted to run under 1:04.  I figured she might be my ticket to do the same.

Wishful thinking.

The race started and well, let's just say I knew it was going to be a long 10 miles.  I hung with Jocelyn for about a mile but when she was chatting and I was already working very hard, I knew I had to let her go for sake of (my) survival.  I decided I would just run 6:20 pace as long as I possibly could.  That ended up being about 5 miles.  For the next 5 miles I worked on my positive self talk and mental toughness as I coaxed my (very) fatigued legs through another rough 5 miles.  I am proud to say I kept all the miles in the 6:30s and didn't totally blow up.  The last time I did this race I remember feeling similarly bad and my training log revealed that I started running 7:00+ pace.  It's the small victories.  :)

I was a bit disappointed after the race because I wanted 6:20 pace to be doable.  But Dirk reminded me that sometimes you have to leave the ego at the door and accept that training through races isn't always going to result in a PR.  Good point by him.  No doubt my pride was wounded and once I let that go, I was fine with it.  Good hard effort on tired legs and also good practice with remaining tough and focused when the going is not so good!  My final time was 1:05:30.  (and Jocelyn crushed 64 minutes with a 62 -- watch out tri world 'cause she's turning pro this year! :)

After the race, we stayed for the awards, and these two (husband on left w/hat and training partner Ben on right) ate about 23 pieces of pizza total.

They look like they might be hitchhiking.
One very cool thing about the race is that Dick Beardsley was there!  If you don't know who he is, you need to read Duel in the Sun.  It's a pretty awesome story.  He was signing photos for all the AG winners (and Alberto Salazar must have already pre-signed).

Talk about epic races!
As he was signing my photo, I asked if he remembered the race like it was yesterday to which he replied, "I remember it like it was just this morning!"  He told me he still runs 80-90 miles per week.  Pretty cool.  Although I had already read Duel in the Sun (the story about the 1982 Boston Marathon), I hadn't read Dick's autobiography Staying the Course so I couldn't help but buy a copy at the race.  He inscribed it with "Beth, Keep up the super running!  Hope you enjoy "staying the course".  Take care and God bless.  Dick Beardsley"

Indeed, "staying the course" is what it all boils down to.  Pretty good words to live by!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh

Yesterday I had one of those days.  You know, the kind where NOTHING goes right.

I started the day off by falling down the steps.  I'm not sure how other than the fact that I'm clumsy.  I was carrying a full basket of laundry so my arms weren't free to catch my fall.  Instead my hip did that job.  #ouch.

The ensuing 4-5 hours went well enough.  I got in my swim and core work and was productive with a fair amount of work and other odds and ends around the house.

But then, things started to get comical.

It started when I turned on my Garmin to start my ride.  My power meter wouldn't turn on.  It's a little finicky  to begin with so I tried all my usual tactics to get it to wake up.  Nothing.  I finally called Quarq, in the process getting quite annoyed at the fact that 45 minutes had passed and I was wasting time.  On the phone with Quarq, we tried EVERYTHING (short of installing a new power meter!).  Nothing was working and we finally came to the conclusion that I needed to send this one back to them in South Dakota and have them repair and/or replace it.  Now 90 minutes had passed.  I was quickly losing my window of opportunity to get this workout completed. (but I do now know where the magnet for my power meter is located!)

While waiting for the Quarq people to call me back at one point, I check my email.  I have a note from my credit card company wanting to know if I made charges on my card at a golf course in Mobile, AL.  NOOOOOOOOOOOO.  No, No, No!  Next I spent another 45 minutes on the phone with said credit card company going through fraudulent charges and canceling my current card while requesting a new one.

I was getting no where fast.

When I finally finishing taking care of the misbehaving power meter and stolen credit card, I looked out the window so see that it's snowing like crazy.  And I *almost* started crying.  Seriously.  Only because (1) I didn't know it was supposed to snow and (2) the track was FINALLY clear of all snow/ice/slush and I was really excited to do my track workout on Saturday on, you know, an actual track!  Not to be my friends.

And to add one last insult to injury, when I went to print the mailing label to send my power meter back to Quarq, our printer (that has been working just fine) wouldn't print correctly.  SERIOUSLY - what is going on here?!?!  (luckily at that point, Oscar was home from work and he fixed it without major issue)

As I sit here typing and reading back through this entry, yesterday seems like no big deal.  Of course at the time, I didn't quite feel the same!  But indeed, this morning everything is just fine.  My hip (while really sore to sleep on) was fine during both my workouts today.  My power meter will get fixed and in the mean time, I will survive without it (but...but...does a ride even count if you don't have the watts to prove it????  :).  And the credit card was easily taken care of with the bad charges taken off the account without question.  The printer is fixed and while the snow is still around and the track back to a frozen mess, it is February in Pittsburgh - what should I expect?

Days like yesterday are always a good reminder for me to take a step back, be thankful that 99% of the time life runs smoothly, and to always be willing to just laugh at the situation instead of crying!  There is very little in this world to cry over.

Also, it should be noted that to make myself feel better, Oscar and I went out to eat and then bought Roxy a new bed.  She likes it.  (and yes, her bed is on our bed but we did eventually move it to the floor)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Running With My Valentine

Today I ran a 10K.  It was a Valentine's Day race and I did indeed get to run with my Valentine.  (that would be Oscar in case you were wondering)  There was a 5K that started at 9:00 am which he ran hard (and got 2nd place in) and then he got about a 28 minute rest before starting the 10K at 9:45 am with me.  I told him I wanted to break 40 minutes because I hadn't done so for many years.  Lucky for Oscar, the pace needed to run a 40 minute 10K is pretty "tempo-ish" for him and he mostly looked like he was just loping along side of me while I was running as hard as I could!

We ran 38:54.  This was exciting for me!  I haven't run that fast since college (which sadly was something like 10 or 15 years ago).  Granted I haven't run a lot of (open) 10Ks in the interim, but nonetheless, I was pleased.  The run focus that Dirk has been giving me appears to be paying off a bit.  Mostly I just feel more comfortable and confident in running some faster (for me) paces and with increased frequency in running I feel more mechanically smooth and like I am actually a runner.

How often does it happen that your race number is your age? 
We were lucky that Nemo missed us and the roads were clear of snow and footing good!  It was however, very cold (windchills in the single digits/low teens).  I had only one not-so-great mile which was run entirely into a very cold and stiff wind.  My legs felt great but I just could not get the oxygen in.  Breathing hard in that cold air hurts!  Oscar said after the race "you were really working on mile 4" which is code for "I thought you were going to die because you were making very bad noises".  Fair enough.  I felt like I was sort of dying too!  Otherwise though we were consistent and strong in our splits.  It was a good confidence booster for me.  In two weeks I run a 10 mile race which is a bit flatter than today's race.  If the weather is somewhat decent, I may aim for a similiar goal pace.

You may notice that someone couldn't wait until AFTER the picture to take a bite of his cookie!