Custom Countdowns & MySpace Layouts

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Life's Little Pleasures

I just got back from doing one of my favorite things! To me, there are few things in life more enjoyable than getting a pedicure after pounding my feet and legs for scores of miles. There's this little place right outside my neighborhood that offers these incredible "spa" pedicures where Kytha (my pedicurist?) has me soak my feet and legs in hot bubbling water before she gets rid of all the dead, yucky, dry skin on my feet and toes & then gives me this incredible foot & lower leg massage. Various oils & lotions are put into play to make this an incredibly relaxing experience (it's not as kinky as it sounds) which is topped off by the bonus of getting a fresh coat of polish on my toenails. I also get to sit in this really comfy chair that massages my back, butt & upper legs. Heaven!

Now, for you guys out there thinking this is such a girly thing, let me tell you that there are a number of men who frequent the salon as well. They try to act all manly, studly like when they come in but you can see them eagerly eying the chairs as they wait impatiently for their turns. It seems that no matter how harried someone is when they wander in the door, they walk out looking rejuvenated & relaxed.

So, the next time you're out there pounding the pavement (or really doing anything else for that matter), and are looking for a nice, relaxing break - head for your local nail salon. Your toes will thank you!

TODAY'S WORKOUT: Swim 1.2 miles
YESTERDAY'S WORKOUT: Swim 1/2 mile, Run 4 miles, Bike 15 miles (it was really windy & kind of cold!)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Bike is Scary:(

So last year,when Kelly & I were slogging through all the hot miles preparing for Chicago, we fantasized about doing anything rather than running. I'd like to say that our fantasies involved anything interesting, but alas, they only involved exercises to replace running on hard roads - trail running, hot yoga, triathlons, etc (with maybe a few thoughts about food thrown in for fun). At Kelly's urging, triathlons sounded cool - anything had to be better than all this running - and I would get to buy cool new stuff! The excitement of getting new running shoes & those very high fashion running clothes had worn off - what better to replace it with than a bike! An endless supply of new things...Also, I had come across this great new training plan for marathons. It only involved running 3 days week - yes, 3 days. I only had to add cross-training in to replace the extra running days & I'd be set. Well, that was all I needed - I told Kelly I'd do it & mentally committed. Off to the store to look at bikes - cha-ching!

Fast forward a couple of months. After looking at bikes I began to w
affle. These didn't look anything like my old 10-speed Schwinn from junior high. The wheels were impossibly skinny & look - no tread. I was sure I'd go careening off the road on the first turn I took. Fear began to creep in. Then - I watched last year's Ironman coverage & fear took a firm hold. The coverage highlighted 2 different athletes both who were wheelchair division participants but had previously been non-wheelchair participants. Both had been paralyzed after being involved accidents on the bike. Uh oh - this sounded scary to me. All of a sudden riding hundreds of miles out on the roads with crazy drivers eating, talking on their cell-phones, yelling at their kids, etc. began to sound decidedly un-fun. No way - I wasn't doing this. Sorry Kelly - back to marathons for me. (Now you know how I got into Marine Corps after swearing to never do another after Chicago last year). If you've read my other posts, you probably think that I must have gotten over my fear - after all, I did sign up for Ironman next year. No - I'm still a big scaredy-cat, I just really want to do something other that run all the time. My joints just can't take it. Hobbling around the house for 2 days after a long run is really not that attractive.

Before actually signing up for Ironman, I went riding my old mountain bike to be sure that I could actually still do it. Yes - not so bad. I stayed in my neighborhood & my butt hurt like hell but I stayed upright; went forward & didn't totally freak over hills, bumps and curves. I got a little (okay a lot) tense every time a car went by & I was probably only going 10 mph but I made it. After several outings like this, I went out to get my new bike (I'll save that experience for another post) & brought it home to give it a whirl. Utter terror! All of a sudden I was way off the ground (apparently my saddle had been to low), all bent over and going much faster. The brakes & shifters were no longer in front of me on my nice upright handle bars but were way out on the bend of my new bars. I think I rode about 2 miles that first day and gripped the bike so hard the whole way that my hands hurt for hours after I got back. Needless to say, improvement was needed!

I've kept at it since then & have definitely gotten better. I now regularly ride 15-20 miles 3 times a week & usually try to throw in a longer ride (42 miles to date) once a week. I've moved out onto the real road (instead of my somewhat safe neighborhood) & actually go kind of fast on the down-hills & flats (I think I've hit about 39 mph once going down). However, I have a really long way to go. I still grip the handlebars way too hard. I tend to ride the brake
s down hills. I'm absolutely terrified of my aero bars & won't ride in them around curves, over bumps or anywhere where I think a car might be. Also, yesterday, I'm embarrassed to admit that I actually walked down a hill - yes, down a hill.

Kelly & I were riding a partially new route that took us on this really hilly, curvy, bumpy back road. I was actually doing great until we came to this cross street that was supposed to bridge a creek and connect us with another road we wanted to be on. Wellllll...we got to the road and it was straight downhill with a big curve halfway down so we couldn't see the bottom. OMG - this brought that feeling in the pit of my stomach kind of like a roller coaster does. You must be kidding me! I unclipped and stood at the top while Kelly took off like a bat out of hell. You could kind of hear her scream floating up to the top as she flew down th
e road. Of course I couldn't really be sure she made it to the bottom since I couldn't see it. Being the good friend that I am, I knew I was at least going to have to go down to make sure she was still alive. I backed away from the grade, clipped back in and headed for the down-hill. NO WAY! I just couldn't do it. I slammed on the brakes, unclipped again & felt like throwing up - I guess I was going to have to walk down. I still hadn't heard from Kelly so in trepidation I started down. Quite honestly, it was probably more hazardous walking down this gravelly road in my cleats but I never said I wasn't crazy. I was about half way down I heard Kelly hollering up at me. At least she was alive. I finally made it to the bottom to find her in one piece. Yeah! I wouldn't have to carry her home. However, the road didn't pass through so we had to go back up. Boo! Needless to say, it was a long walk back up.

By now, I'm sure you can't believe that I'm going to actually attempt to ride 1
12 miles next October. What a wuss I am. However, it's not all bad. I've actually fallen off of my bike 4 times now & haven't died yet (knock on wood). Weirdly this actually boosts my confidence a little. Although not bad accidents, each one has gotten progressively more embarrassing & a little more painful. All of them involved being clipped into my pedals. The first three all happened when I was at intersections, started to go, had to stop & fell over when I tried to catch myself with my right foot. I always unclip my left foot when I stop. You'd think I'd have this figured out by now. The embarrassing part is that my audience has gotten larger each time. The 3rd time I fell I think there was a line of about 20 cars waiting with me at the intersection. I just wanted to sink into the ground.

My last fall was a little more serious. I wasn't going very fast as I was trying to figure out why my bike computer wasn't working. I was kind of looking down when I hit a bump & ov
er I went. If my feet hadn't been clipped into those damn pedals, I would have caught myself. However, this time I really went over - both feet were clipped in & I fell hard on my hip & then somehow bounced over & scraped up my knee, hand & shoulder. I'm sure the 3 cars that stopped to witness my embarrassment were amazed that someone can maneuver that way going only about 8 mph! The bruise on my hip is extra cool - about the size of my palm & lots of pretty colors! I was even lucky enough to bruise the same hip that I'm having ITB problems with. You can imagine how much fun my 20 mile run this past Saturday was!

Anyway, again, in that weird way, I feel better knowing that I actually fell off & didn't do more damage to myself. I must be a total psycho. However, maybe if I'm lucky, I won't have to experience any more falls anytime soon. In the meantime, I'm going to continue to work on my fear management & try to relax on the bike. I'm not worried about the distance, just making it in one piece! Now, I'm going for a ride.

WORKOUT TODAY: Biked 14 miles & pulled out all my flowers for fall (really there were a lot!)

Monday, October 8, 2007

She's In!!!

Now playing:
Matchbox Twenty - How Far We've Come
via FoxyTunes

So, I have this super, great training buddy, Kelly who I've been training with for 2 seasons (she's the one on the right, I'm on the left & our cohort Donna is in the middle). A lot of you know the kind of partner I'm talking about - she meets me at pre-dawn hours to get our long runs in, doesn't hesitate to change days for me when I have to accommodate a family conflict, listens to endless tales of my oldest child's college application process (and all those other unmentionables too) & she basically gets me through those long, hot summer runs when all I want to do is go home. She even ran my first 20 miler with me last year on my 40th birthday just because I needed to affirm that I could. I could go on & on but, in short, Kelly is the partner who just gets me through.

Her husband, Ben, has called me an enabler since I seem to be the one always trying to talk Kelly into doing events that she might not otherwise do - (Marine Corps Marathon '07 among others). However, I'm convinced that deep down inside she really loves doing them & just wants to see how hard I'll push before she says yes :) I enable the sign-up. She enables the summer of training because once committed, she makes sure we make it to the starting line.

Anyway, earlier this year, we started talking about maybe switching to trail running or triathlons after Marine Corps this fall. Kelly has done some tris & really likes them. Now, as you probably know by now, I always like to go for the hardest, most difficult task possible so this discussion quickly went from Sprint tris to the Steelhead Half IM then it made the big leap up to the full Ironman distance. As usual, I was the one pushing Kelly to come along for the ride because, quite honestly, I wasn't sure I wanted or could tackle it without my super, great training partner!

Committed to register for the race, we spent all of the last weekend in August volunteering in various capacities for the Louisville Ironman. We were both having a great time & things were going great until the end of the night. Our final jobs on Sunday were to be "catchers" at the finish line. Very exciting since we actually got to congratulate the finishers, give them their medals & blankets, walk them through the finish line & help them in any way they needed. However, we only got to do this for a handful of athletes before we got pulled off to man the Convention Center. This is where the athletes were to go after they left the finish area. They could get their dry clothes bags, eat, get a massage or, if necessary, visit Medical. Apparently, athletes & family were wandering over there without any real idea where to go or what was offered. We were there to take care of them.

Well, turns out that we spent most of our night escorting exhausted athletes to medical. While there were certainly many that came into the building that only needed to be pointed to food or massage, there were still lots that had reached the point of utter exhaustion, dehydration & injury, often requiring rest, medication & IV fluids to speed the recovery process along. Some even required emergency trips to the hospital.

Needless to say, watching several hours of a constant stream of athletes in all forms of medical distress can begin to wear on a person. It might even make one begin to question the sanity of attempting a race like the Ironman. Kelly is obviously way more sane than me because she ended the night with the decision to not register for the race in 2008. I, however, am apparently not sane because I was one of the first in line Monday morning to fork over the ridiculous sum required to be allowed to participate in next year's event.

Now, I have to say, I was a little bummed out. Instead of blasting through 100 mile bike rides, 20 mile runs & hours in the pool with my fave buddy, I was going to have to trudge through by myself - even in the heat of summer. This was definitely going to be dicey (am I showing my age with that word?)

So, on a daily basis I asked her if she wanted to sign up. NO!! was always the resounding answer. "Come on," I wheedled. No go, she wasn't to be moved.

Then, all of a sudden, I get this email, totally out of the blue, that she was in. Yeah, yeah, yeah! I was jumping around the kitchen like a total idiot while my flabbergasted children (and in-laws) looked on. I tried to explain my excitement but really only got blank stares. Who cares, I was excited enough for all of us. MY TRAINING PARTNER WAS IN!!! Now, all of a sudden, the thought of all the training to come didn't seem so bad. I knew I could make it through with her at my side. One way or the other, together, we'll make it to that starting line next August.

Thanks Kelly! I'm actually looking forward to participating in the torture with you:)

ps - you can click on the link above if you want to read about what swayed her decision

TODAY'S WORKOUT - Rode Bike 23 miles (with Kelly) then ran (kind of) 2 miles