Monday, April 28, 2008

Crazylegs Classic

Nothing will confirm your slowness like a race. Especially a race in 30 degree temps and 40mph winds. I constantly find myself crawling out of bed in the wee hours of weekend mornings thinking "why do I do this to myself?"

I don't really like racing. I don't care how fast I am, or how I stack up to my peers. That's not why I work out. And yet I continue to find myself drudging to start lines. I don't understand it.

I also don't understand why I get such horrible nerves before events. I even get the feeling of dread and sinking stomach before some workouts. The last time I had it I said "I don't know why I do this stuff. I clearly don't enjoy it. I need a new hobby, like knitting." To which I got the reply "knitting makes you fat."

Um....actually the two avid knitters I know are quite svelte, so I'm not ruling out knitting as a future triathlon replacement. And last I knew, no one needed to buy $2500 knitting needles and then pay $60 each time they want to get together and knit with a bunch of their knitting peers. Ya, knitting's sounding pretty good right now....

Anyway, back to the race.....I signed up for Crazylegs because 1) it is a long-standing Madison tradition -- in fact, I did the race for the first time when I was 12, and 2) there's free beer and live music at the end -- enough said.

The problem this year...well, there were a lot of problems, so let me start at the top. The first problem is that the race is only 8 kilometers (5 miles) long. (I know...did I just say that...."only 5 miles"....) So someone like me who's allegedly on a training plan, I actually need to run farther than the race. (incidentally, when you tell people at work on Monday that you had to run extra at a race, they think you have completely lost your mind....which is actually kind-of cool)

So once you decide that you need to run farther than the distance that you paid money to run, then starts the logistical planning. In this case, running after the race would interfere with free beer drinking so that option was out.

Instead we arranged to park close to the finish and run to the start. Simple enough.

Ya, well remember this is Wisconsin. A "beautiful spring day in April" here can, and often does, mean 30 degrees with a chance of snow. Race morning conditions were equally as horrible. 30-something degrees and crazy wind.

Ok, I could have even dealt with all that but after running over 2 miles to the start we ended up waiting over half an hour for our wave to go. Brrrrr! Nothing like working up a little sweat and then having it freeze-dried to your body.

When we finally got going it hurt. Nothing was warm or loose on my entire body. Nor did I feel like I ever really warmed up. And the twitchy tendinitis I've been fighting in my foot flared up something fierce. I was considering cutting my leg off around mile 4.

Crazylegs is actually really a fun starts on the capital square, heads down fraternity/sorority row on campus, up the infamous Bascom Hill, along the lake, and then finishes in Camp Randall Stadium.....but I don't feel like I enjoyed any of it.

The finish felt pretty good. And I scored two pockets full of free cliff bars at the end of the race, so that brightened my mood a bit. Any time you can get your entry fee back in post-race swag its a good day. That almost made up for the horrendously long line for beer!

All in all it was a decent workout. And to be honest, if I hadn't paid money to race I probably would have used the weather as an excuse to bail on the workout altogether. So I'm pretty happy with the fact that I got 7.5 miles in.

120 minutes of hell

So again on Thursday, Laura reminds me of this pesky 'schedule' we are supposed to be following. And since denial is no longer working as a defense after last week I concede and meet her at the gym Thursday for another long indoor ride.

You'll remember that last week we rode 60 minutes of spin class and then just kept riding like crazies when everyone else was clearing out and heading home. You'll also remember that the instructor for that spin class was of the mildly annoying variety and had a tendency to break out into song. You'd think it couldn't get much worse, right? I mean a singing instructor has got to be one of the top two most annoying things that can get thrown your way in a pre-packaged average gym-variety spin class....right?


This week started out great (which should have immediately put me on guard for disaster). Laura and I both arrive early and are off and spinning 15 minutes before class (which is 15 minutes less than we have to stay after class -- bonus). We're chatting. Joking about how the normal instructor should be (thankfully) back this week. And in walks this weeks instructor. And don't get me wrong, she was nice enough, and knowledgeable enough...and lacking any annoying personality traits. But instead, she was of the "now you have to stare at my totally buff and perfect physique all class and feel guilty about everything fattening you've ever eaten in your life" annoying type.

So as I'm mentally calculating the amount of Ben & Jerry's calories I've ingested this week alone and trying to convince myself that this will just make me work a little harder, which is good for me.....then the kicker.

The iPod adapter thingey isn't working. No tunes.

Well, all is not lost. I've got my iPod with me for the post-class riding so it wouldn't have been horrible to spin without tunes. But the instructors not really having it. She finds this CD laying around the sound system and decides to just wing it.

I wish I could recap the playlist for you, but I think I was so traumatized I have completely blocked it out of my memory. Never have I been so ready to be done with a class. The CD was clearly from pre-historic times (i.e. pre iPod times -- early 90's, but think bad, early 90s), and back then they must have been under the impression that you didn't need to pedal fast to get a workout.

But we persevered, and managed to complete our requisite 120 minutes of indoor cycling hell. Props to the instructor. She really did the best she could. The whole situation wasn't her fault at all. And the mishap actually made our extra 60 minutes of sucky solo cycling seem almost like fun. So it all worked out.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Another post-travel workout week

Tuesday April 15th
Arrived home from DC....very tight hamstrings, big kink in neck, sore from yoga and walking. Decide to take it easy and do a little 2mile run.

Wednesday April 16th
Spend entire evening doing laundry, going through mail and generally getting life back in order. "Order" being relative.

Thursday April 17th
Laura reminds me about this thing called a training plan that we are supposed to be following. I deny any knowledge of said plan but decide to humor her and show up at the gym for a 90 minute ride. 60 minutes of which was a spin class with one of the more annoying instructors I've had. Possession of a microphone does not mean that you are in the running for American Idol. Please, no singing in spin class.

Friday April 18th
off day

Saturday April 19th
Team ride gets cancelled due to weather (wimps, it wasn't that bad) but I head out to run the arb loop with Laura and Kelly (my crazy Ironman friend). 6.1 miles plus the bonus distance between Laura's and the start/finish (mile maybe?). This felt like a really long 6 miles. I'm seriously questioning my ability to be ready for the Madison Half Marathon in five weeks. Hung out at Laura's for a bit after the run so I could see her spectacular blender in action. She whipped me up a great little green smoothie and now I'm convinced I need one of those blenders.

Sunday April 20th
Kelly tries to kill me for 44 miles on the bike. I really need slower friends. And I should really look at the elevation chart before heading out on a ride. Holy hilly-ness!! However, it was an absolutely perfect day for riding. And the views were spectacular (and we sure earned them). I wish I had brought my camera along.

Monday April 21st
Legs are jello. Very needed off day in full effect.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Workouts ... D.C. style

I feel pretty lucky lately. Not only did I manage to squeeze in some pretty darn good late season skiing, but I will get three springs! Everything was blooming in Portland when I was spring in DC for my visit (and the end of the cherry blossoms)....and soon, well hopefully soon, it will be spring here on the tundra. We're getting there....slowly. We finally have daffodils. It's a start.

I landed on a beautiful Friday in DC, and rather than run it seemed like more fun to go out in search of the last of the lingering cherry blossoms. After all, this was my first trip to DC that didn't include some sort of alternate agenda like work or a race, and I was excited to take advantage of that.

I had it in my head that I would get up early and get my long run in on Saturday while my sis was still curled up in her cozy bed or lounging around sipping a latte. I had her write me out a little run route. I set the alarm. I did everything I could to set myself up for success.

But then I snoozed. And after the alarm went off the second time I thought it looked like rain....(its funny how thinking about lounging around sipping lattes makes the sky look like it could storm at any minute). So I patted myself on the back for my superior meteorological skill and promptly fell back asleep. Which probably saved my life...and not because it poured down rain and hailed baseball sized chunks of ice (because it didn' ended up to be a rather nice day)....but because of what I was in for later that day.

What was it? ....walking with "big city friend".

I know, it sounds ridiculous. Me...alleged "Irongirl"....intimidated by a little walk with a girlfriend? C'mon. But let it be known....this girl can probably walk as fast as I can run. And she can probably do it in heels, while simultaneously talking on her phone and emailing on her 'crack'berry. And after this weekend I've come to think that she is secretly training for her Beijing debut in olympic race walking.

What would have been a nice leisurely stroll to enjoy the sunshine and catch up, for us turned into a nearly 6 mile walk at a break-neck pace. Or more accurately "break-back" pace. Every little ache I've had from running lately was now a screaming, piercing pain. My low back and hip probably being the worst.

All this pain from a walk? My PT later told me walking and running actually use different muscles, which could explain the pain (and justify my Sunday soreness).

And then to add to that she says "we can walk to dinner". Ok, I'm thinking dinner must be close. Well, add another 3 and a half miles onto my daily total, and I walked 9+ miles (I know because I mapped it later)..... Not bad for someone who missed her workout.

So did this workout help my triathlon training.....I'm not sure. Did I burn off that dish of Coldstone after bet!

So since I was already way off the mark as far as training goes, I topped off the weekend with a Bikram yoga class. The sis had never tried it and it was DC yoga week so the class was free. We were all about the free part. (and I was all about not doing anything remotely like walking) So off to hot yoga we went.

How was Bikram? Well my sister got a migraine and I got a big kink in my neck that took four days to work itself out. You know, the kind where you can't look over one shoulder too far for fear your head will snap off. So fun. Possibly some spinal re-alignment following all the crazy walking?

So I boarded the plane home a little battered and bruised from my weekend in big city. But I didn't feel like it was a total loss. Just cross-training....DC style.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Post-vacation adjustment period

The first week back in the real world wasn't really all that bad, thanks to some spring weather on the home front (finally!).

Wednesday - First glorious outdoor run of the season! Went 4.75 miles and felt like a total rockstar about it. I never want to see the treadmill again.

Friday - Another lovely outdoor run. Perfect, perfect running day. 60 degrees with the sun shining. Too bad this run didn't go quite like the last. I felt pretty wiped out by the whole thing. But got in 5.25 miles. Not so terrible. I have a feeling we pushed the pace a little more on this run. And the long week was probably catching up with me. Our flight Monday got delayed and we didn't get home until 2am. I think I was trying to play catch up on the sleep all week.

Saturday - First outdoor bike ride!! A nice 44-miler. A little windy and a little hilly but nothing too bad. It was so nice to be out on the road. By the end of the ride I was feeling the fatigue in my back and shoulders, but it felt good! I rewarded myself with a big fat two hour nap when I got home. What a perfect start to the weekend.

Sunday - I think that fatigue caught up with me. I was wiped Sunday. And the knee that had been bothering me on the hills, was now really hurting. I decided this seemed like a good recipe for a rest day.

Monday - Nice little 35 minute swim. I haven't been in the pool in quite a while and I was feeling it. Not that I got really tired, just that I couldn't quite find a good flow to my stroke. Things just didn't click. But the water felt good on the legs.

Tuesday - Pilates/yoga class at the gym. They call it "Fuzion". I don't understand the need for the "z", but whatever. Not strenuous but a really great stretch. This instructor seemed to be more pilates based. Which was good because I was squeezing this in at lunch and that way I didn't sweat too much. I've taken this class with other instructors and thought my limbs were going to fall off.

Wednesday - 30 mile post-work bike ride. It wasn't as warm as I had hoped (high of 48 during the day). And temps dropped quickly through the ride. So this ended up to be a pretty painful 30 miles. I didn't get really cold until I'd been home for about 10 minutes; then I couldn't stop shivering. I think it took me that long to thaw out and realize how cold I was. Then after throwing on a fleece hat, hooded sweatshirt, and crawling under a down comforter, I also got really hungry. I ended up eating a full pasta order from Noodles and was feeling a little guilty about it until I went to and realized that I burned at least 1100 calories. Sweet. Love biking. Love it. Not loving the persistent knee pain, but I'll whine about that later....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Vacation Workout Summary

I don't exactly vacation like the average person. Having nothing to do but lay on a beach somewhere terrifies me. My "adventures" (vacation really isn't even accurate terminology) are usually ambitious to the point of exhaustion. This one was no different. So there wasn't a lot of room for the typical "workout" in my travel schedule.

I had good intentions....I really did. But when you try to cram 1300+ miles across three states, two countries, and three or more mountain ranges into 9 days....well, here is the reality:

Day one -- 30 seconds of dodging and weaving through slow travelers on jet way, followed immediately by 30 second all out sprint to gate. Sit for four hours. Then start walking....walking through airport, walking from hotel in search of food, walking all over town. Walking, walking, walking.

Day two -- "Mall" walking (with weight, gradually increasing through workout)

Day three -- Mini sprints (from car to optimal picture taking locations, sporadically throughout 9 hour drive). Then stair intervals with weight (unloading car to upstairs motel room -- we had A LOT of luggage, this totally counts as a workout).

Day four -- Reverse stair intervals with weight (packing car). 4 hours of squats (otherwise known as skiing in the Canadian Rockies). Followed by 5 hours in car as 'cool down'.

Day five -- Woke up a bit tight. Huh, perhaps 5 hour car cool down wasn't the best post-workout activity? Proceed with another four hours of squats (new location in Canadian Rockies). Follow it up with another 5 hour car cool down (its not that I didn't learn my lesson, I just didn't really have a choice).

Day six -- Quads feel like tree trunks. It hurts to get in and out of car. Ibuprofen is my friend. Good thing today is an off day (drive 5 hours...too lazy to even get out of car to take pictures, used sunroof)

Day seven -- I still hobble a bit when I walk but go ahead and proceed with the scheduled 6 hours of squats (otherwise known as Whistler, these were very expensive squats). This time though there is a post workout hot tub. Ahhhh.

Day eight -- Hot tub is nearly magical. Legs feel a little least until first turn. But 6 more hours of squats follow (similar to day seven, not any cheaper). Tried mid-workout beer. Doesn't help legs but improves attitude with respect to pain. Repeat magic hot tub.

Day nine -- Beer and magic hot tub appear to be the elusive cure for legs. Too bad its an off day (drive 8...errr 10 hours due to detour to coast).

Day ten -- off day (flight home)