2 months, 4 posts?

December 24, 2012 § 1 Comment

In case you haven’t been able to tell from my lack of blogging as of late, life has been hectic! All good things, thankfully, but the balancing act has been in full force lately. I always remind myself that swim camp can seem like the busiest time….even with bike camp when there were so many hours in the saddle, being able to ride from my house is a huge time saver. Just the act of having to pack up and get to the pool – sometimes twice a day – can make things feel much more hectic than they really are. So here’s a snapshot of how my life has been the past couple months:

Plantar Fasciitis! It seemed like this was plaguing a lot of the runners I’m friends with as we entered this offseason. I managed to combine the PF with a nice bout of tendonitis on the top of my foot. I took some time off and made sure to do everything right……that meant I was sleeping in this beauty:

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The Strasburg sock and the roller ball things helped cure my plantar facitis, but it was the tendonitis that was the kicker. After 10 days of not running it was actually feeling worse, so I pulled out all the stops and went to Acupunture. Three sessions and five days later, I was running again! I’ll let you decide for yourself what the fix was, but I have to say that I was uncertain about acu going into it, but not any more!

House projects! Every winter I try to knock something of my homeowner to do list, and this year it is making myself some closet space. I have a small room upstairs that is currently just harboring all sorts of junk, so for Christmas I asked for the supplies to turn it into a large closet-room. This meant I would be getting rid of my current dressers, so I posted them on craigslist. Apparently dressers sell like hotcakes though, and they were gone way faster than I expected. So, for the past few weeks I have been living out of piles on the floor until I get my new dresser stuff moved in. Needless to say this requires some explaining to any visitors, and does not help my sanity level since I like to keep things organized!

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Hillary came to town! Unfortunately we both managed to not snap a single pic of our day of fun together, but it was so nice to have Hillary in Baltimore for a day. I took her on a run around the city – while I did show her the nice areas, she also got to see the Shady 7 route! The most fun for me was at the pool though as we put on quite a show as we plowed through the workout.

Miami! A nice break in the schedule was a work trip to Miami for a conference. While I was staying at a hotel with about 10 pools, I actually found the best one for swimming was at the JCC across the street.

photo(4)I became a pro at fitting in workouts while traveling and managed to fit in some swims during the lunch break which lead to some great tanning time! One last escape before winter settles in here was much need.

Family time! With the holidays here the family time is in full swing. I fit in my workouts yesterday before we went to the Ravens vs. Giants game. With a family divided by the team they root for, it was a good time – especially since the Ravens came out on top 🙂

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Christmas Workouts! I knew I was in for a good one when I saw the “did you see your Christmas workout?!!!?” email from Hillary last week. Sure enough, it was a 100×100! A Christmas miracle occurred last week though as I met a new friend at the pool who agreed to swim the workout with me. Gotta love those swimmer-folks who can just jump into a 10k workout like it’s no thing. It was so nice to have company for this one, and surprisingly the time flew by. I can assure you the first stop after this workout was the Italian bakery in Little Italy next to the gym for a Cannoli to get some calories back in me 🙂

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Hoping things in the new year will be a little quieter! Happy Holidays to all!

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What’s a Quarq? My Decision To Continue Training Without Power

December 11, 2012 § 7 Comments

I am by no means a purist in the sport. I don’t pretend to be. I like fancy bikes, aero helmets, and lightweight wheel rims with dimples on them. I like the fact that if I wanted to buy a cover for my tiny straw that pokes out of my aero bottle to make it .0002 seconds more aerodynamic, I could. But amidst all the gear and the goodies, something that I have always resisted has been the “numbers.” Those of you who know me well know that it wasn’t until I started working with Hillary that I even broke down to buy a watch that would take splits. And I’ve had my Garmin for less than a year so I can (finally) not say “oh, I think that was about 16 miles, probably-ish.”

These days when you talk to fellow athletes, the question always comes up about training with power. “You don’t use it?” they ask. Nope. “Well, you use heart rate, right?” Nope. {jaw drops}

As I considered the purchase of these power tools (haha) for the 2013 season I had to think long and hard about what I want out of this spot. I know that I want to be the best athlete that I can be. And for me, that includes my mental well being. And part of keeping me mentally happy in this sport right now is not having a power meter or a heart rate monitor. I simply enjoy the mental aspect of the sport without those things too much right now to give it up. I’m not disputing that they are good – okay, great – training tools. And I’m not disputing that having power on my trainer intervals may help me push harder on days when I am sandbagging and may not even realize it.

But, I take a bit of pride in being my own power meter. I enjoy the fact that I can get on my trainer and in mid-interval separate the fact that my body feels like it’s going as hard as it can – but also tune into the mental thought of “no you aren’t you can always go harder” — and pick it up.  I read a lot on sports psych, and I think my years of running ultras in the mountains has taught me that I can always go harder. I enjoy sensing my own heartbeat and learning to push those levels without a watch on that tells me exactly how many beats per minute that is. And, I have never, ever had a problem taking my easy days truly easy. I most certainly don’t need numbers for that one.

Again, I think they can be great tools. But I don’t want to get lost in the data and forget what it feels like to simply race my hardest. And I don’t want to abandon the challenge of using my own brain to get me to take it to that next level.

When I listened to Ellie Greenwood talk before racing UROC about her course record shattering run at Western States this past June, someone asked her at what point she realized she was on pace to break the course record. Her response surprised a lot of people, and she writes about it in her own words from an interview on irunfar.com:

“On crossing Rucky Chucky [85 miles into the race], for the first time in hours I looked at my Garmin for the time. I’d been using my Garmin for mileage, but for literally hours, I had not looked at the time. My focus for this race was my position, my splits and final finishing time were a bonus to the possible win. So at Rucky Chucky I saw I was 40 minutes ahead of my 2011 time, a race where I had finished 18 minutes slower than the course record. Okay, I guess the course record might be on, but still – we had 22 miles to so to go, that was not going to be my focus, there was still time for it to all go horribly wrong, for the walls to come crashing in. Call me a pessimist, but it’s this attitude of ‘it ain’t over til the finish line’ that keeps me pushing every inch of the way. Even when Meghan of iRunFar yelled out if I knew how far ahead of CR I was, I rather abruptly said I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want that pressure, all I wanted to do was to run as fast as I could and win, without the worry of possibly making the CR (or not) by one or two minutes – that would simply add to the stress, I needed to stay relaxed and focused. I needed to just run.”

That mentality hits home with me. So I’ve decided to go another year without using power. Here’s to 2013 🙂

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