Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Gear!

There are few things that get this athlete more excited than new running gear. You don't have to twist my arm to get a new pair of shoes when I've reached 400 or so miles on the current pair. And I can't pass up cute spandex I know I'll use. So here are a few fun recent purchases...

These itty bitty $4 ear plugs have been a brilliant addition to the triathlon training. It's been great to get out of the pool and not have two waterlogged ears.

I've been wanting to try a pair of compression socks for quite some time now. I finally bit the bullet and bought one of the cheaper pairs out there, the Recovery Sock. Let's not lie, their hot pink nature makes me giddy.

I've yet to determine if these things really "work," but I'll do a review probably after the long trail race and let you know what I think. Some people say compression socks are just a gimmick. Either way, I know they feel good!

And finally, the grand daddy of them all: Vibrams!

I had been wanting to try out some minimalist shoes for walks and eventually short runs so when my REI dividend AND my 20% off coupon popped into my inbox, I snatched up a pair. So far, I've only worn them for a few walks with the dog with a few 30-60 second stints of running thrown in. Even in those short amounts of time, I've noticed my toes have been sore the next day.

After the trail race on April 10, I may start wearing these a bit more and running for longer stretches, but I'm going to take it super easy. I know this building foot strength stuff takes time.

Have you guys tried compression socks or Vibrams? There are a ton of brands out there for compression socks, but I enjoyed reading Marathon Mama's review of the variety of compression socks she owns. Ultimately, it came down to price and color for me.

And on that note, I need to find some food. My stomach doesn't seem to understand it's been fed and it's time for bed. I'm so ready for this burning through fuel thing to be done.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When to take a rest day

I'm no stranger to the idea of rest days. But actually taking them is rare for me. Just the thought of a day without exercise makes me twitch. ;)

Yesterday, the stars alligned and pretty much forced a rest day. Tuesday is generally my "easy" rest(ish) day, but I had plans to get in about 45 minutes of lap swimming in the early morning.

Well, my alarm wasn't set correctly so I woke up at 6:30 instead of 5:50am. I opted to do 25 minutes of detox yoga rather than attempt to race to the pool and back and make it to work on time. All day, my legs were feeling surprisingly tired from Monday's easy 4 miler.

But I was still banking on an after work, pre girls' night swim. After finishing a few last work emails, it was 5:40pm and I realized there was no time for a decent swim and my legs and body were pretty exhausted anyway. So, I didn't swim. I listened to a book on tape, ate some good food with friends and went to bed at a decent hour.

While resting may be the last thing your brain wants to do, sometimes your body needs it more than you know. I'm confident that extra rest was helpful to me, but it continues to be a struggle to find a balance between training hard and allowing my body the time it wants to recover. But today, today is NOT a rest day.

Today: a.m. spinning (30 min), lunch run, Lifeforce Fit
Thurs: swimming (45 min), running (3 mi easy)
Friday: rest?
Saturday: Beaver Freezer Tri!

How do you handle rest days? Do you do active recovery or do you take the day completely off?
Sometimes I totally forget about rest days until I realize I haven't had one in a few weeks. Oops!

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's all about your attitude

I have some fun posts on the horizon, but they still need some work. Alas, I've been taking a few more outfit photos, perhaps because the weather's getting nicer and it inspires my clothing choices.

Sweater: Old Navy, top: LOFT, belt: JCrew, khakis: American Eagle, flats: Nicole

Jess LC braille necklace that says "Dream Bigger"

Also, this week is TRI week! I can't believe the race is almost here. But, I'm happy to say that I don't feel super freaked out about it because...
  • I mapped out a rough training plan (even if I didn't really follow it)
  • I've done a few brick workouts
  • I upped my swimming to twice a week (ugh, tomorrow morn is an early one)
  • I have the experience of dealing with transitions from last year's duathalon
  • I have a good attitude about my first triathlon ever!

Despite all of my training, I haven't done nearly enough cycling OUTDOORS (I've been attached to the indoor trainer thanks to craptastic weather) and I absolutely despise the thought of swimming in a lane with 4+ people, which will most likely be my luck come Saturday. But no matter what happens, I'm going to try to keep a positive attitude. I think that's one of the most important parts of enjoying your first ever race of any kind.

I also don't have any specific time goals because I've never done a sprint tri before so I'm just going for the FINISH. After several marathons where I was gunning for 3:40 deep down in my soul, just finishing seems like a snap!

*For those of you who asked about a black bean recipe, here it is! I posted it in the comments, but since I know y'all don't check back after you comment, I thought I'd share it here. I forgot that I had posted previously about making Black Bean Fiesta Burgers step by step. Seriously, you NEED to make these pronto!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stars of the Pizza Show

1. Jenna's Best Pizza Dough which was surprisingly easy to make. This was my first EVER attempt at dough from scratch and it worked out deliciously!

2. Rosemary - one of my favorite herbs

3. Fresh, basic ingredients

Pizza #1 - The Margherita - mozarella, basil, garlic + a few mushroom slices

Pizza #2 (added: red pepper, onion, red pepper flakes)

Of the two, we both preferred #2 with it's additional ingredients.

The crust on these pizzas was just the way I like it: thin, crunchy and flavorful (especially with my rosemary add in). The recipe makes two pizzas, which left enough for leftovers tomorrow night. For the longest time, I sung the praises of Trader Joe's $1.99 pizza dough above all other, but this dough rivals it and you're likely to have the ingredients in your cupboard! That being said, TJ's is still the way to go if you don't have an hour to wait for dough to rise.

Honestly, I was a bit afraid to try my hand at making my own pizza dough for a long time. But after this success, I'm happy I finally tackled it. And the mixer made the whole thing a bit easier, requiring no kneading. Have you made your own pizza dough? Pass on the links if you have a good recipe!

On the training front: Michelle and I managed to finish 13.2 miles of mighty painful (hilly) running. After Thursday's tough speed workout and 20 miles or so of biking yesterday, my legs were toast at mile 1. But the important part is, we did it. Okay, time to catch some zzz's...

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Friday commute and black bean burger believers

One of the beauties of living in a smaller city (150k with college students), is that it never takes more than 15-20 minutes to get to work or almost any place, even with traffic. But as a procrastinator, I find myself stalling and doing every last little chore in the morning until I have to race out the door. This usually requires that I take my trusty Toyota.

Well, today I had the urge to ride my bike to work after 30 minutes of early morning spinning on the trainer. I guess I was trusting the weatherman who said there was a break in the rain today. I managed to make the 25 minute commute with just a bit of sprinkles and minor mud splattering up the rear (from the road grime).

The commute is about six miles so it requires that I wear athletic gear and change when I arrive at the office.

In the spring and summer when the weather is nice, I try to ride about twice a week. But sometimes due to work events, errands, meetings, running commitments after work, I simply can't transport everything I need via bike. I'm definitely in awe of those who are dedicated bike commuters no matter the weather.

This summer, my goal is to run home from the office a few times just for fun.

I'm curious, do you commute via car, bike, public transit, walk or a mixture of it all? If I lived in a big city, I would take full advantage of a train or walking if it made sense.

Random notes: Last weekend when I went to see my parents, I brought supplies to make black bean burgers. When I told my dad I was starting the burgers he replied "Black bean, as in, they don't have any meat? I better head to the store." He was joking of course, but I changed his skeptical self to a black bean burger believer! Now try and say that three times fast.

I'm hoping to recreate this beauty that is the margherita pizza on Saturday night. Are you drooling yet?

Thanks Heather of Hangry Pants for sending me a little goody package! I was a runner up in a recent reader appreciation contest and received some of her Vegan Snack Time cookies, tea and attune foods coupons.

And finally, good luck to all of you National Half Marathoners out there! There are a ridiculous number of blogging runners going to that race. Run fast (and happy)!

Who's watching basketball tonight? I was in shock last night that Arizona crushed Duke! Gooooo Pac-10! Hope you're having a fabulous Friday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The way the cookie crumbles

Last night I had the hankering to bake something sweet. There are usually one or two problems with that. First of all, I have a list of about 100 or so starred recipes in google reader so it's going to take me a while to go through them and select one. Secondly, we don't usually have exactly everything I need for the recipe, but I still roll with it. And finally, most nights we probably don't need more sweets.

Alas, we had most of the items for The Transplanted Baker's peanut butter chocolate cookies. There were just a few problems that made these cookies easy to crumble.

The ingredients I substituted or didn't have: whole wheat flour subbed for all purpose flour (ww tends to dry things out), no peanuts, didn't cut up the chocolate chips into smaller chunks and Ididn't have cheaper (oily) peanut butter on hand. Baking is a lot more finicky than cooking, but I tend to risk it anyway. So with all these minor changes and possibly a heavy hand on flour (measuring precisely is really important with flour), they weren't as moist as I'd like, but they still taste like a darn good Pure Americana Peanut Butter Cookie.

And the house still smells like fresh baked peanut butter cookies. If nothing else, make these for the fragrance. And for portion control, follow my lead and give your significant other the tupperware with 20 cookies and give yourself the one with 4.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mish Mash

I'm glad you guys enjoyed my recovery techniques. You'll be happy to know I've taken the past two days easy on the workout front. Sometimes, you just have to. The manfriend reminds me "sometimes you've gotta go slower to get faster." He's so smart...

Yesterday, I forced myself not to do much other than my favorite challenging yoga for runners podcast (the 20 min version is free). I also had a massage scheduled midday to help my body recover from the two tough workouts I put it through over the weekend.

Today, I hit the pool for a quick gym session (they have a small funky gym upstairs) of elliptical, bike and strength followed by 45 minutes of laps and aqua jogging. My body felt totally blissful afterward. Because I was sneezing all afternoon, I passed up the chance to ride after work in the sun for a little R & R (and lawn mowing).

I didn't say much about my brick workout on Saturday, but I ended up cramming in 3 sets of 20 minutes on the bike trainer, followed by 1 mile run outside. It took me just over 90 minutes to finish the 60 min (~15 miles total) of spinning and 3 miles of running. It was not only fun because I was constantly switching gears (mentally and physically), but also because it really got me sweaty. My neighbors probably thought I was crazy running in and out of the house with various articles of running attire.

And because I figure you're tired of hearing about swimming, biking and running, I thought I'd give you a few outfit photos from today. It's really hard taking a picture of yourself in the mirror you dragged out into the hallway.

I'm not sure what my hair is doing these days, but I'm positive I don't like it. The grow out phase sucks. I'm tempted to just chop it.

I rocked the jean jacket for the morning to keep me a little warmer, but otherwise it was just the sweater and pants.

I still love this Jess LC necklace with its mix of gold and silver.

jean jacket: Old Navy, necklace: Jess LC, navy sweater: LOFT, pants: Halogen (thrifted), shoes: Target

Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry you never take off or consider your signature piece? Sometimes, my "signature piece" is my Nike watch. That's what happens when you're a runner.

Okay, I've gotta scurry off to sleep. It's past my bedtime! Last night I was in bed by 9:30 pm. Now THAT is what I call a win.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Road to Recovery

Well, it's official, I finished my last LONG run for the Peterson Ridge Rumble training! Today's run totaled 18.5 brutal miles after yesterday's brick workout. I completed a 3 x (20 min ride, 1 mile run) brick workout that was actually pretty fun.

Over the multitude of races I have trained for, I've learned a lot about proper recovery from hard/long workouts from experience and reading various articles. I've found that the right recovery techniques can be almost more important than completing every single mile noted on your training schedule.

As a result, I thought it would be fun to go over some of the techniques I use when recovering from a long effort, say an 18 mile run.

Be sure to have some fuel immediately after your workout (donuts not necessarily recommended) to help replenish all those calories you burned. This includes H2O as well. I demolished a banana oat walnut bar immediately after dropping off Michelle post run. I then came home to find these treats the manfriend had bought for me.

Foam roll your aching legs. I usually spend about 10 minutes foam rolling my IT bands, hamstrings (holy ouch), quads, calves and glutes. Then I move on to downward facing dog and other necessary yoga poses.

Next up, the ICE BATH!

I have to preface this with saying, it's not fun, but I've found it really helps my recovery time and joint pain. Generally, I ice bath after any run longer than 12 or so miles. It takes a bit of preparation and mental tricks to get through a 10-15 minute ice bath.

Fill the bathtub up halfway with cold water and then add a tray or two of ice cubes. It is plenty cold to aid in recovery.

Have the tunes on hand...

Grab yourself a hot beverage & and put on a sweatshirt

Submerge yourself!

I'll admit, the first 20 seconds of submerging myself are utter hell. It hurts so bad it takes your breath away and all you can focus on is the pain. But after those 20 seconds are over, your body is slowly able to acclimate to the freezing water.

I listen to 3-4 songs until I hop out (generally 10-15 min), drain the tub and shower. Don't forget, your body was just in freezing water. Do not turn the water on super hot like you might normally do. Luke warm is much better.

Treat your feet well. I usually lather this salt scrub on my feet at the end of my shower to help my calloused, nasty feet.

Put on your comfy clothes and thick socks

Be sure to refuel AGAIN with a meal that has plenty of protein, carbs and fat within an hour or so of completing your run. Your body needs it. I find that few things fill me up and satisfy me after a tough run like an egg, cheese and veggie sandwich.

Lay low (but not too low). That doesn't mean you should lay on the couch the rest of the day, but a nap or some tv time won't hurt you. Your body deserves a little rest. Moving around a bit will help the legs from getting really stiff. Do chores around the house, grocery shopping, etc.

This is probably the hardest piece of recovery for me to follow. As a busy body, I really have to force myself to lay down, but find that when I do my body thanks me ten fold.

And finally, remember to continue fueling yourself and stay well hydrated. It's likely that you will be a hungry beast the remainder of that day and into the next day as well.

What techniques work best for your tough workout recovery? Is there something you notoriously forget or avoid doing?

Friday, March 18, 2011

We're too old for this.

Exhibit A - we prefer to hang by the wall away from the dj

Exhibit B - guys posing for bicep photos look ridiculous

Exhibit C - manfriend's biceps don't quite match up

Exhibit D - the bar tender looks like a lumber jack bodybuilder

By 10 pm and 1 1/4 beer later, I was wiped. The manfriend and I both agreed we were so relieved we were past the days of feeling like you had to dress up to impress others. While it was great people watching, I prefer a laid back atmosphere where you can casually sip your beer while sitting down with friends.

Has anyone else had a recent "I feel too old for this" moment? I hope you have a faaabulous Friday!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Paddy's Day Smoothie

This morning I woke up at 5:53 am to hit the pool for some lappage. No, that's not a word and it's okay. As soon as I got home, I had my mind set on something green for St. Paddy's Day. If you can't already tell, I'm kind of a holiday whore (not that kind, just obsessed with holidays).

Into the blender went: spinach, ice, frozen banana, oats, mint extract (although I wouldn't recommend it), cinnamon, plain yogurt and a little coconut.

My goggle eyes and wet hair are just for you.

Some organic granola to add a little extra crunchy crunch

I try not to inhale these smoothies, but they go down so easily.

And here's my totally fashionable "we're cleaning out the work storage today" St. Paddy's outfit for you.

Anyone who tries to tell me this sweater isn't green will have to answer to JCrew - it's mint julep, thank you very much.

Are you doing anything festive for the holiday? After getting in my SPEED workout, I'll definitely be looking for a pint of beer somewhere.

Edited to add: I had to change "St. Patty's" to "St. Paddy's" after hearing controversy on twitter about the spelling. Apparently, in Ireland Patty refers to a woman and Paddy refers to a man. In other words, St. Patrick = St. Paddy and St. Patricia would = St. Patty. Now you know.

Anyway, it irked the grammar stickler in me that I wasn't correct in my spelling. I also think it's just an American thing because we would think Patty would be the short version of Patrick because of the 't' in the word. Anywho, I digress...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Swim, bike, run

Last night I hopped into the pool after a busy day at work. It was just what I needed, even though I really wasn't looking forward to it. The water was cold, I had to share my lane with a few others and I just wasn't feeling it.

But a few laps in, I was warmed up and the circle swimming was working properly. I did 2 x 500 yards, 100 yards with buoy between the sets, and finally a cool down. 45 minutes later I was feeling much better about the swimming and had just enough time to hop on the bike. And 25 minutes of spinning later, I had me a little brick workout!

The goal is to do a proper brick workout on Saturday including a ride and then run, which is typically tough because your toes are freezing from the ride and your legs feel like logs. Usually, it takes me about 1.5 miles to get into the running mode. And when the running portion is only 5k, that doesn't make for much time running with warm legs.

"Bricks refer to training on two disciplines during the same workout, with little or no interruption..."

"About a swim/bike brick: while you are swimming you will want to use your legs as little as possible or else you may have a hard time when you get on your bike before you start feeling comfortable. "

"Even more important are bike/run bricks, mainly because the transition between bike and run is the toughest of the two during a triathlon."

Sample bike/run brick: 3-4 x (5 miles bike/1 mile run)
I was originally planning to do a longer ride followed by a 3 mile run, but after seeing this suggestion, I may just try the smaller increments and see how I feel.

For more information on brick workouts, check out this article from Beginner Triathlete.

Someone is currently finishing off the last of his first ever self baked Betty Crocker yellow cake with chocolate frosting. If I have anything to do with it, the next time will be from scratch (well, at least the frosting).

The manfriend and I watched Toy Story 3 tonight. While I'm not usually into animated movies, sometimes it's fun to be a kid again. My favorite newer kids movie is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Sandlot is another one I could watch over and over again. What's your favorite kids' movie?

THURSDAY ALERT: Have you filled out your bracket? Are you wearing green for St. Patty's Day? Double yep for me!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Mountain over Mileage

My long weekend was spent at Sunriver, a resort in central Oregon that is situated just 20 minutes from one of the best ski resorts around, Mt. Bachelor.

I rarely make the time to get to the mountain because of the time it involves (preparing, driving, skiing, driving home) and the $$! After gas, a lift ticket and food for the day, you've easily spent $100.

But this weekend was the perfect excuse to shell out the money and unplug. To avoid any google reader urges, I left my laptop at home! But no worries, the camera was right beside me.

Saturday, I spent a few fun hours with the girls cross country skiing and then followed it up with a self-lead yoga session to please my aching right knee. Sunday, my friend D and I went to Mt. Bachelor for some downhill skiing (my true skiing love). I skied on my high school's team so many weekends were spent at the mountain training on gates and courses.

Sunday, evening, the only thing keeping my running urges at bay was the exhaustion taking over my body. Intelligently, I listened and hung out on the couch at the rental house enjoying a serious girl talk session.

And as if to say thank you for not running, we were gifted a dusting of snow to which I happily forged out and completed a four mile run with the sunrise Monday morning. It was one of many moments this weekend where the voice inside me whispered "Now isn't this perfection? There's nowhere else I'd rather be."

Three day weekends feel simply luxurious. It's just enough extra time to feel like you really had time to unwind. Yesterday, D and I drove back to Eugene, but were tempted by 60 degree temps and beautiful scenery and just HAD to stop for a little 40 min run along the McKenzie River Trail. It was fabulous. Two runs in one day? Yup! That's how I make up for not running Friday-Sunday.

I should also mention, we ate well. Really well. Get 15 hungry runners together in two houses after a long day in the snow and let the food making and inhaling begin!

As you can imagine, it's hard to come back to reality. But I hope a good pool swim and some spinning will get my mind back in this tri training mode. This weekend also includes my longest training run for the Peterson Ridge Rumble so let's hope these legs (and the knee) are feeling up for it!

I'm hesitant to take a few days off running (both mentally and physically), but find that it's more helpful than I imagine in healing my body and making it stronger for what's to come. I no longer consider any run "junk miles" because I feel that each run has it's purpose and shouldn't be treated as junk. As much as I need those non running days, they tend to leave me craving mileage . How are you at giving your body the rest it needs/wants?