Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wear the shirt. Drink the gatorade. Eat the cookies. (Not really a race report.)

I spent all last week trying to forget that I had a race on the calendar for the weekend. Anytime someone would mention it, I'd act surprised. Oh! A race! It's this weekend? Gosh, I don't know about that. I haven't been running with my bad foot and all. Also, the water sounds cold. It's so far away, we'll have to get up early. I should probably do a long ride instead. I don't know. I might skip it.

I kept giving myself mental outs. You don't have to go. Who cares. It didn't cost much. It's just a practice race, and you can't even finish the full run anyway. The thought of spending that much time in the car after a long road trip the weekend before didn't help.

Part of me was on board with bailing, since no one really cared if I went or not and I clearly just didn't want to deal with it. The other part of me, the cheap part, thought, Geez. You paid for it. Go do it. Get your money's worth. Wear the shirt. Drink the gatorade. Eat the cookies.

The tipping point was an email from my friend Kimberly. She offered to DRIVE. Gah. The nerve. I said ok.

I still wasn't mentally in the game Friday night when I threw everything I could think of into a giant bag and put it by the front door. Just because I packed didn't mean I had to GO.

When I woke up, I sat on the bed and considered texting Kimberly that I was sick or that gosh, it looks like it might rain, or that my foot hurt. Those were all lies. I just didn't want to go.

I confessed to Kimberly about an hour into the drive that I had no desire to go do this race. She about killed me. Apparently she felt the same way. We laughed and considered turning around.

Why was I so grumpy about this whole thing?

We got to the race site super early and picked up our race numbers, chips, t-shirts and socks. We got back in the car.

I turned to Kimberly, "We don't have to do this you know. We can still just go home."

But neither of us really wanted to go home. We didn't feel like racing, but we didn't want to leave.

Finally we had to get moving. Bikes, helmets, shoes, drinks, garmins, caps, goggles, wetsuits, and various snacks all packed up and headed to transition.

I overheard a lot of "This is my first race! I don't know what I'm doing! I'm so nervous! This is freaking me out!" I saw a lot of race wheels and aero helmets. I realized my friend Jen was on my row. I had forgotten how much I missed it.

"This is so cool," I thought. "What on earth was my problem?" I wondered as I set my socks in my bike shoes and put my race belt underneath my running shoes so it wouldn't blow away. I turned my Garmin on, grabbed my wetsuit, cap and goggles and left. My bad attitude was gone. I  was finally excited.

By the time I got on my bike, the song that settled into my head on repeat was perfect. Over and over I sang

The sun goes down, the stars come out,
And all that counts is here and now,
My universe will never be the same
I'm glad you came, I'm glad you came

Cheesy or not, I was glad that I was riding my bike, glad that I had defeated the don't wannas to get into a 65 degree lake that morning and glad that I was going to run after my bike ride. I remembered, finally, why I keep doing this. It's because I love it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rice? In the morning? {The Feed Zone Cookbook}

Food actually bores me. I like it ok, and I eat it a lot, but when you are seemingly always hungry, food gets boring. Oh, hi, look, another banana. Great. What's for breakfast? PB and J? Again? Fine. Oatmeal. Fruits. Veggies. Chicken. Ice cream. It ALL gets old. I even threw away 10 cupcakes once because they went bad before I could eat them. I didn't eat them because they weren't interesting to me. That is just sad, you guys.

RIP, cupcakes.
The other problem is that eating crap all the time doesn't produce the best sporty results and can leave you dragging, tired, and crabby, so eating plenty of good for you foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats and brownies is essential. When you are training for a long race, your food is your FUEL.

Great. So, healthy foods then? I hate cooking. Like, really hate cooking. A lot. I hate making a mess. I hate cleaning it up. I hate chopping. I hate mixing. I hate taking things out of the oven. I hate tupperware. I hate measuring things. {Note: I don't measure things.}

The only thing I like is knowing there is a freezer full of food when it's all I can do to carry my bike back up 3 flights of stairs, drop everything and put something into the microwave before I fall on my face from hunger. So, cook I must. {I've often said I'd like a nanny. My mom is like, but you don't have any kids! And I'm like, MOM. You are missing the point. I want a nanny for ME.}

I had long been hooked on Rachel Ray and her easy 30-minute one pan meals but they weren't always quite as healthy as I would have liked. A bag of cheese? Ok, if that's what the recipe calls for! I'm still hooked on a lot of her recipes and have a bunch memorized. There's a cous-cous, broccoli, chicken dish that is out of this world (and healthy.) (and only requires one pan to clean!!) She's got great stoups (not as thick as stew, but thicker than a soup) that are perfect for freezing and reheating. I'm not abandoning Rachel. It's just that I found a new love.
New book! Still wrapped in plastic!
Enter: The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes. It's written by Chef Biju Thomas and Dr. Allen Lim. They both have experiece working with professional cyclists, including Lim's work on Team Radio Shack and Team Garmin-Transitions. Thomas also developed menus for successful restaurants in Denver and Boulder, CO.

I went on a quest for this book after a fellow morning computrainer classmate brought in some of the rice muffins made from one of Lim's recipes. They were interesting, because, rice? In the morning? Who would have ever thought of such a thing? But, also, they were good, and filling and, hey, maybe this Lim guy is on to something. If he can properly fuel Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong, probably there are other good ideas in there. I was, surprisingly, excited to cook.

As promised, the recipes are easy to make, good to eat, and perfect for someone who does a lot of sportz. I even sampled one of the recipes out on the girls of The Off Season Tri.

Rice cakes w bacon, anyone? #Yum
My recent foot injury provided me with way too much free time freed up some weekend hours to spend some quality time in the kitchen, so I decided to use that time wisely. I think I spent around $150 at Giant and 4-5 hours in the kitchen one Saturday. I came away with 3 pots of soup, some quiche, a pan of chicken fried rice and a batch of cookies. Not bad for someone on the bench! I'll post some more reviews but here are some of my favorites. 

Veggie Quiche. I think I heard my mom's mouth drop open when I told her I made a quiche from scratch. I quickly explained: bread crumbs, lots of eggs, mini veggie chopper, some shredded cheese: bake. She recovered. One quiche went directly into the freezer for a brunch a week later (where it was quickly gone.) One was cut into bite sized pieces and put into a tupperware for mid morning post workout snacks. APPROVED.

There's cheese in there, too!
Red Lentil Stew. I like curry. I wasn't so sure about lentils, but they seemed harmless, and it's the #yearofGeorge, so I figured what the hell. Yadda, yadda, yadda...I made a second batch this weekend. Topped w a bit of salt, some greek yogurt and fresh tomatoes, and...APPROVED.

Greek yogurt goes on everything, amirite?
Chicken Fried Rice. I know. It doesn't *sound* healthy, but really it is. This one is perfect for the freezer. Aside from the fact that I try not to handle raw meat, like, ever, this is another one of my favorites. I'm going to make another pan of it this weekend. APPROVED.

Giant bag of frozen veggies FTW.
And, right on cue, now I'm hungry. Any favorite quick, healthy recipe sources to share?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Last Tuesday, I returned to the doctor to see how my foot was healing. (I almost typed heeling. That would have been really funny, right? But, not, because it's not my heel that hurts.) It had been a week in the funny shoe.

I mean, I knew it was getting better, but it wasn't quite better yet, and when someone with a diploma and an x-ray machine tells you that you should keep wearing a funny shoe, it's a lot easier to swallow than when you admit to yourself, "Self, I should keep wearing this funny shoe."

So, off to the doctor's I went.

Returning to the doctor to reassess a healing injury is a bit like groundhog day isn't it? You are all full of anticipation. Will the sun be out? What will my x-rays show? Will there be a shadow? Does that spot on my foot really hurt or just kind-of-sort-of hurt? Am I a hypochondriac? Maybe I'm fine? Or am I lying to myself so I can start running again? Will there be 6 more weeks of winter?

Long story short, the shoe remains, but I did get authorization to add some biking back in. And add some biking back in, I did.

Easy ride around the neighborhood Tuesday: Check. All systems go.

Computrainer workout? Check. Wednesday I had the best ride in a while. Probably because my legs aren't trashed from running. Hmph.

Spin around Hains Point after work in the sunshine? Check. Thursday. Perfect weather. Intervals. Friends. Tour buses. Pollen. The usual. Awesome.

One more computrainer workout Friday? Check. Crushed it.

Rock'n Roll Half Marathon Bike Course Lead? Check. Filed under, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em (or something like that.) I signed up because I thought it might be kind of a cool way to see the race and participate since I couldn't actually crush those 13.1 miles myself. This was So. Much. Fun.

I suited up with lots of neon, an all access pass on my bike and suckered my friend Catherine into joining me.

We clipped in just in front of the start line and headed out with a crew of rowdy bikers to lead the runners, check the course for any problems and report some splits back to the announcer.

I got assigned to the lead females for the half marathon. We were instructed to follow the timing trucks out the first mile or two and then find the 2nd place female in the half and stick with her, feeding her splits back to the finish line.

I don't usually get to see the timing trucks. They are cool.
After she finished, we looped back by the DC Tri tent along the course for a pit stop, some high fives to our fast friends who were finishing up the half marathon and then we headed out along the marathon course to try to find our friend Janie, who was gunning for a PR. We had lots of good cheers in our heads that we needed to share, such as:

Yay Janie!
Good job at running!
You are running a marathon!

See? Proof. She was running a marathon. Also: she is really tiny.
Keep running!
Way to go, keep it up!
Well done, Janie!
Stay on course!
Don't go on 395!

Wrong way.
Good job at sportz!
Keep running the marathon until you finish!

I'm almost certain we were why she finished so strong. If I were her, I would have wanted to kill my two friends on BIKES when I was running a marathon, but not Janie. No, she LOVED seeing us ride bikes in loops around her.

Inspired by Janie and hopeful for a recovering foot, I'm going to try to go for a walk tonight. In real shoes. Probably in the direction of pollen and tour buses. I know, I'm really living on the edge. Hopefully someone out there along the course will give me a "way to go, keep it up!" I'll report back.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

IM Training Casualty #2: Get a book or something

My foot had been bothering me for exactly 9 days before I saw the doctor. I thought it was going to go away, that running had bruised it or inflamed it and that something strange but minor had happened. So I self assigned myself a week with some anti-inflammatories, some ice, and no running.

I made sure to fill any time not spent running with extra biking and swimming, because that's obviously a good idea. My food must not have gotten the memo though, because it wasn't getting any better (so mysterious!) I was grateful to be going to see a doctor. Pains worry me, not because of the actual pain, which doesn't bother me very much, but because pain means something is WRONG.

The doctor I found is very nice, and is conveniently located 1 block from my office.

When I told her I had initially noticed the pain building during a run, she asked me if I was planning to run the Rock n Roll Half in a couple of weeks. I said ideally, but it wasn't looking so good. {I'm wondering if she's gotten an influx of crazy people with strange foot problems in the last week or two. Probably.} 

She was unable to come to a specific diagnosis, but there are a couple of things that might be causing the pain. She said considering I'd like to be able to run again like, tomorrow soon, she is going to take a conservative approach. She wanted me to wear this lovely stabilizing shoe for the next week anytime my foot hit the ground and to rest it.

These boots don't match.
Her: So, wear this terrible stabilizing shoe, try to limit walking, and add the anti-inflammatories back in twice a day. Ice if you feel like you need it. It can only help. Mainly, rest it. Do you have any questions?

Me: Can I swim?

Her: I think so, just don't push off the walls and if it bothers you when you are kicking or anything, stop.

Me: Can I bike? I mean, define "rest."

Her: (Laughing.) How about no biking for a week. How about, get a book or something? Rent a movie?

Me: Ok, you drive a hard bargain, but I agree to your terms, since you are so nice.

Her: Good, come back in a week and we'll see how you are doing.

I'm pretty sure that it's all in my head, but I have to say, my foot is feeling So Much Better after being out of real shoes and not bending much for a solid day (also: drugs.) I'm hoping she's on to something. I could still possibly run the race on the 17th, right? Maybe?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crush It: Why I ran maybe a little too fast this morning

I'm bad at technology. Don't believe me? I still own 2 VCRs in working condition and yes, I use them. Before I bought myself a Garmin for Christmas one year, every piece of cool equipment that I own had been given to me as a gift. You name it: walkman, stereo, portable CD player, programmable thermostat for my house, cell phone, DVD player, mp3 player, ipod, blackberry, all of it. It's not that I don't like that stuff, it's just that whatever I was using before it wasn't broken and I didn't have the brainpower or desire to learn something new. (I might also have a problem with change, but that's a bit of a different topic.)

I think one of the main problems with receiving a shiny new piece of technology is that you now have to learn how to use it. I'm a read the owner's manual before you start pushing buttons kind of person and let's face it, that's work. For someone with strict rules about when work is and isn't allowed (I, for example, don't do math after 5pm) that's just a huge pain in the ass, and yet another reason why I subscribe to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy.

Despite knowing exactly where the owner's manual for my Garmin IS, I still have yet to program that wonderful little computer to recognize my different bikes with their different wheel sizes, I don't know how to use the "virtual partner" which would be INCREDIBLY helpful to my "gooutreallyfastandhopenottodie" running style of late and I for some reason have yet to set up the fairly simple auto pause feature, which pauses the workout when you - you guessed it - pause, so the watch keeps recording my run or bike while I'm stopped at a stoplight. Not all that incredibly helpful.

But that's just data. One of the fun things about running is listening to whatever songs you are loving at the moment. Listening to Eminem while driving is fun, but you can't always go the speed that the music dictates, or the city would resemble a bumper cars ride at a fair and not a city street. WOMP! OH, my bad! I'm listening to "Till I Collapse" and it was a fast part!

The problem with this is of course that downloading songs requires work, which I try to avoid at all costs, especially after 5pm, math or no math. Enter Rock My Run.
I found them on twitter (@RockMyRun). They make running mixes with fast songs. It requires no thought. Imagine! One hour of pumped up running tunes done for you. I was beyond excited. I found it a few months ago and have been trying out the mixes during my runs. I can't even describe how happy they made me. Fast beat? Check. Music I like? Check. Easy to download and drag over to iTunes? Check.

The only complaint I might have is that I can't listen to the fast mixes during my easy runs or I end up at race pace instead of recovery pace, but really though, that's more user error than anything they've done wrong.

Want to try a mix? I might be a little biased because I helped behind the scenes on this one, but my current favorite, the one I ran maybe a little too fast to this morning is Crush It.

There's some Eminem of course, but there's also some Corey Heart (no I'm not kidding), some Flo-Rida, some Queen, some Rage Against the Machine, and some Florence and the Machine to kick it off. It's one of the best mixes I've heard in a while, (it's getting great reviews!) and I'd be selfish if I didn't share it.

So, go. Download. Drag. Play. Run. Just don't start out too fast or you'll be mad at yourself later when you upload your data.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

IM Training Casualty #1

The top of my foot is hurting me. It started on Sunday around mile, hmm, I don't know, two? It was a pinched feeling right on the top of my foot like my shoe was tied too tight, right where the bow was so I, uninterestingly, loosened it. It helped a little bit, but it hurt again and I shuffled my foot around some and kept going. By mile, hmm, I don't know, 5? I had to stop again. I guess I was trying to avoid stopping, because I was having so much fun running and I was feeling good and fast and whatever else happens when you have fun running, but it was a mistake.

When we got back to our start point, Kate and I were going to add on another loop over the bridge to get up to around 10 miles or so. We all took a quick break and said goodbye or ate a gel or, in my case, took the laces out of the loops of my shoes and retied my shoes all weird. It helped, but by the time the run was over, the top of my foot hurt and the opposite lower shin hurt from running all weird.

I did Tuesday's run in the pool, to be super careful about my shin, since that keeps getting angry when I want it to be happy and to let the bruised top of my foot heal. I am smart this way. [Unrelated: (Well, somewhat related): Pool running makes me want to pee almost immediately upon getting in the water. What is this about? And not just a little bit, like, oh, that can wait. No, this is a constant, 'oh wow I can't wait for this to be over so I can go to the bathroom without risking losing my lane for water running in a very crowded downtown pool after work' feeling.]

With only some swimming, biking, pool running and yoga since Sunday, I was pretty sure that running this morning would be Just Fine. This morning's run was a lot of things, but Just Fine does not properly characterize it.

Freezing cold: check. I could barely feel my fingers until I was 2 miles in. Once my hands were finally warm I realized that I was having trouble talking because my face had gone numb. There's a good chance I sounded like I was drunk.

Fast: check. It was speedwork after all. We used the mall like a track. It was a genius idea. Far better views than a track and a lot more real estate.

Fun: check. I had not actually been looking forward to this one. I know what it feels like to work hard. It feels like hard work. It's hard. It hurts. You get tired. You keep going. You have to. Well, you choose to.

What makes it fun is seeing yourself getting better, even if you aren't very good at executing workouts properly. So what if I was completely destroyed by the time we got through a 1600 and a 1200 and started our first 800? Live and learn. Thankfully, I could mentally check out and just try to keep up with Kate for the last few rounds. Yeah, I drafted. I'm ok with this. (Thanks Kate!)

Freezing, Fast, Fun, and lots of stretching after. I just wish I knew what the hell I did to the top of my foot. Anyone ever heard of that? Pinching a nerve or bruising it or something with a too tight shoelace? I am officially filing this stupid injury under "IM Training Casualty #1."

Friday, February 3, 2012

When Can I Do That Again? A bike ride story

An email today inspired the following memory of a bike ride I did recently with my friend Jen. It was just us two out there, with only each other and our bikes for company. (Which makes it sound a lot more ominous than it was. I mean, we were in Montgomery County for godsakes, not out running the Western States course.)
Editor's Note: An important piece of background information for understanding a couple of parts of this story is that I was once lost on Georgia Avenue. Hopelessly, horribly, lost. Except that I wasn't actually lost, I just thought I was lost and far, far away from where I should be. Nothing looked familiar. I couldn't make heads or tails of which direction I was running, which way the Capitol was, where the Armory was, and I panicked. It made absolutely no sense to panic though, because I was in fact in the middle of a RACE. All I had to do was keep following the *thousands* of people in front of me and I'd get back to my car. And I think that is a good place to start this story about another time I was so happy to see my car.
These are the bikes that we rode. This story is the longest caption ever.
Sometimes when you are out riding with Jen, it's all fun and good times and you stop for coffee and you are trying to decide what to do next and she's like, "Oh! I have an idea," and "Just follow me!" and you are all, "Well, it IS the #yearofGeorge," and "Jen's a pretty reliable person" so you do, and then the next thing you know, you are on a highway and you beg her not to make you take the entrance ramp to 270 and you DON'T, thank god, but there's a MALL and still you are on this highway and you are riding as fast as you can and you miss a light and there she goes, getting smaller and smaller up a giant hill and good bye Jen! and you aren't sure where you are, but it's NOT Georgia Avenue at least and thank goodness Jimmy recommended that 12-27 and all of the sudden, boom, you are crossing Rockville Pike and look! there's Beach Drive! but, not so fast, because she turns LEFT to go up the enormous hill towards the Mormon Temple and gosh, at least it will be fun to go back down the hill! but no, she makes you take a scary windy backroad somewhere and you are lost again and thankful it's still not Georgia Avenue, and poof! you are back on Beach Drive, but now you are regretting not going pee when you were at Starbucks so you whine a little bit and decide the best course of action is to hammer back down Beach Drive towards Rock Creek Park and some bathrooms and finally you find a bathroom and it's one of the best sights on earth but after she's all, "OK, NOW we'll climb another giant hill and it will be fun," and it IS fun, but gosh it's kind of hard and you are getting pretty tired and then she's all, "Just go down Nebraska and at some point you will know where you are and then your car will be like right there. Simple." and that's that and you part ways and don't realize that her directions were sort of an understatement and you finally realize that you've bonked because you have severly underestimated the number of calories you've burned and you find yourself standing there on Connecticut Avenue wondering if it might be best to just go find the Red Line and see if maybe Amanda might give you a ride back, but then some douchebag guys honk at you and wave and you are like, "Stuff it douchebags, I'm a hard core biker," and you pound some black cherry shot blox, drop into the small ring and keep climbing. and then, finally, like a mirage in the desert, you see the sign for the bank on MacArthur blvd, and you've never in your life been so happy to see that bank, and you make it back to your car and you are alive and you are Just Fine and you think, "Wow - probably that was one of the best bike rides I've been on in a long time," and "When can I do that again?"