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?"