Monday, November 30, 2015

Months End

It's been a while since I've really focused on volume as a metric. For a while there I started to believe those people who say that volume isn't the thing we should measure, but need to focus on intensity and recovery and that's the way to improve. Well, maybe for some people that's how it works. Volume is what works for me. 100% I believe that the more I run, the better I feel running. There must be a limit at some point, where more is no longer more, but I haven't found that point for myself yet. The same holds true for swimming and cycling, and I've proven this to myself several times over the last ~6 years but somehow allowed myself to be swayed in recent years. I'll look at that as having an ability to be open minded and having a willingness to try things a different way.

Today was mostly a recovery day. Just an easy 30' jog with the dog. It felt exceptionally smooth and easy/relaxed. No struggle at all even up the hill to my house. I also did a decent amount of lifting of some heavy things this morning (in particular, a kettle bell, a medicine ball, a big bar, and some weight plates). More on that in another post.

November was a 'Back to Basics' month for me. I ran almost exclusively by HR, keeping it low. For whatever reason I hesitate to call it MAF, but that's essentially what it was. I did a little bit of tempo running and some strides here and there (maybe 1-2x/week) but the vast majority of my miles this month were HR 140's, which for me means easy running. I think when you're going for volume, you (I) have to do the bulk of it easy easy. I just added up miles for November. I ran 237. I think that might be my biggest month ever? It's also possibly the most I've truly enjoyed running in quite some time. My plan is to keep up the bigger volume for another month or so, then we'll see where I'm at and figure out how to progress from there.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Durability Project

As I was heading out for my 2nd run today (the dog jog, starring Maia and now including Moana on her bike), I was thinking that it was really going to be quite the durability type run for me. I ran long this morning and didn't feel great at all. I've been increasing my overall run volume recently, mostly via frequency vs single long runs. Long runs still tend to take a legit bite out of my legs even though the shorter ones really don't. Anyway, I took my pounded legs out this evening for 2.5 miles of hilly fartlek style intervals… Maia is attached at my waist with a race belt and an old bike tube. When she smells a cat, we sprint. When Maia has to poop, we jog easy easy, then stop- sometimes very suddenly- while she poops on the sidewalk. At the top of every hill we stop and wait for Moana. On the downhills when Moana coasts ahead, we sprint. (Turns out, Maia is quite competitive and likes to lead our runs, so having Moana out front is unacceptable.)

It was interesting to me that at the end of that run I felt 100x better than I did before we started.

I ran 11 times this week for a total of almost 60 miles. 7 of those runs were 3.5 miles or less. I think the short frequent runs are quite good for durability, which is good because I have some goals for 2016 that are going to require a high level of durability.

In other news, this picture wasn't taken at my house, but it totally could have been. Add a white chicken (and 2 guinea pigs) and this is pretty much it!

Saturday, November 28, 2015


I was planning on doing a short little run/swim biathlon this morning, but bailed at the last minute. I had a lot of excuses, some of them maybe valid. Wanna hear all my excuses?

~My dermatologist had his way with me on Wednesday, cutting out 8x basal cell spots. He suggested I stay out of the ocean for a week or so, for fear of infection risk. Had this been my only excuse I don't think it would have been enough to keep me out of the race, but combined with everything else, it was probably the tipping point.

~I was up at midnight cleaning up projectile vomit off Moana's body, clothes, hair, bed, and floor. A sick kid would definitely be a valid excuse to skip a race, especially just a little race that you don't care about. Turns out, she's pretty much fine today with energy levels near normal, but I didn't know this would be the case when I shut my alarm off at 5:30AM.

~Last night when I went to bed my throat felt a little scratchy. Not terrible, but just felt like my immune system was fighting something off. This morning I felt the same way and spent several hours sneezing and blowing my nose. I figured it was possible that a hard effort (for example, a 5K run) would throw me over the edge into full sickness. Or maybe it wouldn't have. I don't think I was imagining it, but I feel pretty much fine now so it turned out to be nothing.

Instead of racing, I slept until 7AM when Maia woke me up asking for breakfast. I drank a cup of coffee then took her for a walk where she clearly wanted to hunt for something in the woods. Later I went for an aerobic jog ~80minutes. I figured it would be pretty slow b/c my HR would likely be elevated since I wasn't feeling 100%. Indeed, on avg I was ~20"/mile slower than I did that same run earlier in the week at the same HR. Not concerned a bit about that b/c I have a clear understanding of what was up. I actually thought it was going to be worse so only 20"/mile off was a pleasant surprise. I do firmly believe that in the physical state I was in this morning, aerobic running wouldn't hurt me. A hard threshold effort very well might have. Knowing these things and being confident enough to make decisions about what's best on any given day feels pretty cool.

I'll probably take Maia on a dog jog later this afternoon. The wind is howling today but for the first time in ~10 days, it's not raining. She's stretching now.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

I've been thinking that I want to start updating this blog more frequently again. I think blogging is easier when you do it a lot b/c then you're less overwhelmed at all the stuff you could potentially write about. :)

It's Black Friday. I'm not much of a shopper, but I did buy some new bathing suits and a new espresso machine that were on sale. Our espresso machine died the other day and it was really sad. I would have bought a new machine immediately but I had a feeling if I just waited a few days I'd save some money. Indeed, waiting 3 days saved me $45. Worth it to miss my morning espresso? Debatable.

Yesterday I ran our local Turkey Trot. It's super fun- 10 Mile "Guess Your Time" run and many in our local running community turn up. It's $7 and they give you a popsicle stick where you write your estimated finish time. No watches allowed. I've done this one a bunch of times over the years but haven't really 'raced' it since 2011. The night before I went back through my training logs to see what I ran the last few years (to give me an idea what I should guess)... I found 1:29:10 and 1:32:30. I've been running a fair amount recently but almost all relaxed/aerobic (read: walking up hills to keep HR low). I figured I could run at least as fast as last year, where I noted that I jogged easy for ~6 miles then felt good and ran strong the last ~4. So yesterday I guessed 1:32:00 which made me comfortable to the point where I didn't feel any pressure. I jogged super easy to start for the first maybe 2 miles, then as I started to feel better I picked up the effort. I had a feeling I was below 1:32 pace but since my legs felt good and my breathing was 100% controlled I opted to go for the long tempo effort and finished in 1:30:06. It was fun and a stronger workout than I would have done on my own. Had I guessed 1:30 flat I might have won a pie. Live and learn!

The rest of the day was social and centered around eating and drinking. All summer/fall I didn't drink much alcohol at all but recently I've been pretty liberal with the wine. I woke up this morning and my first thought was that I needed to cut back on my alcohol consumption, but then I remembered that tonight is another party with friends. Maybe tomorrow I'll go dry.

This morning we swam (as is standard M-W-F mornings). Good group this morning- Once again I was the weak link which is fine by me most of the time. We did a main set of 5x400's pull @6:20 (lcm), descend 1-5. Funny- you tell a set like that to non-swimmers and they're like um, no thank you. Tell it to lifelong swimmers and they just want clarification about whether or not the descend is within the 400 or across the set. I was in the mix for the first 1-2 as no one was going that hard yet (6:07/6:03) then the effort picked up. I hit 5:53 on the 3rd one and wasn't in the same zip code as Lectie, Mark, or Hudson. Then the trash talk started (this is the best part of swimming with swimmers). The 4th rep in a set of descend 1-5 is tricky bc it's going to be hard but you have to save another gear for the last one... I hit 5:49 which I was quite happy with but again was no where near my compadres. I joked with them about the racing they were doing and Hudson said no the racing hadn't started yet (ha!). Lectie took the boys to school on the last one I don't know what she swam but I finished in 5:42 (happy with that!) and I'd guess she had at least 25" on me, maybe more. I was gaining on Mark who'd spent all his pennies on the 4th one trying to keep up. In fairness, we had paddles and Mark did not. He reminds us about this (cheaters!) when he starts getting tired. Afterward we hung out and ate left over coffee cake and it was delicious.

I have to say, I'm really enjoying training at the moment. It feels fun. A lot of it I am sort of making up as I go along (What feels like the right thing to do today? What is fun?) and I've been running a lot with Maia which is also super cool. Having her has added ~15 miles/week to my running mileage (bonus!). She's pretty fast for the first 2 miles or so then tends to get tired and runs beside me instead of in front of me. Our new favorite loop is 3.25 miles and I'm going to take her on it right now.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Who Rescued Who?

You know how once you start to get an idea in your head, the thoughts grow and grow until you just figure out how to make it happen? That's pretty much how we ended up with Maia.
I haven't been riding my bike much (ok, at all) for the last few weeks and that has left me with some extra time on my hands. I tried filling that time with extra running, but there's only so much running I can do without sending my calves on strike. I just had this persistent thought that I would make a good dog mom… and every day I woke up with the desire to have one that much stronger. Every time I saw someone post a picture of their dog, or saw a dog playing at the beach, or running with his/her owner, I just kept thinking I WANT ONE OF THOSE.

Long story short, I had my eyes and ears open looking for a dog that needed a good home. While puppies are adorable, I knew I didn't need a puppy. In fact, I sort of figured an adult dog might be better b/c of the whole potty training thing. I mean, I could have done that of course, but not having to was pretty appealing.

Anyway, I found a post on Craigslist for this Rhodesian Ridgeback dog that had been found on the side of the road… The folks who found her had been fostering her but she needed a forever home. I did some research on Ridgebacks and basically this is what I found: Great runners. Don't shed much. Don't bark much. Really smart. Like to eat. :) All of the pictures I found of Ridgebacks showed them as being brownish/red so I figured this dog was a mix of some sort which was 100% fine with me. A friendly loyal dog who wanted to run was really what I was looking for!

So I answered the ad on Craigslist expressing my desire for this dog and then couldn't sleep that night. The next morning I got a reply back saying that of all the people who responded, it sounded like our home would be the best. We arranged to go meet the dog that night and I was beside myself with anticipation! I went straight to PetSmart and walked around in a daze at all the options of things to buy for a dog… I didn't go crazy and just bought the basics… food/water bowls, collar, leash, food, dog bed, a toy and some treats. Scott came home that evening and was like You bought a dog bed?? We haven't even met the dog!? Ok so maybe I was a bit impulsive but I just wanted to be prepared. The thing was, Scott wasn't as mentally prepared to have a new dog yet. His dog, Hoku, who he had from a puppy for 14 years, passed away last year and emotionally that was quite hard on him and he wasn't sure he was ready to do it again yet. I knew though that he could love another dog again. 

We drove to the other side of the island to meet this dog… She came running out and immediately came right to my feet and rolled over on her back! It was pretty much the sweetest thing ever, love at first sight, and 30' later she jumped right in our car no questions asked and we were driving her home. She slept on my lap the whole time.

The adjustment has been about as easy as I could have possibly imagined. I think I figured that I would have to earn the trust of this dog, but I didn't have to at all. She bonded with me instantly. She is so friendly, loves people, and wags her tail all the time! Just a dog full of joy. She does cower at times, which makes me so sad to see… I think it's clear that she was not treated well at some point in her life because she has some real fears (she is quite afraid of dog toys, especially ones that squeak- simply the sight of one makes her attempt to get out of the room). That makes me so sad and I can't imagine for a second how anyone could ever be mean to a dog like this. 

My biggest concern about bringing a dog into our family was that we have three chickens and a cat (and 2 guinea pigs, but they are in cages so no worries there)… But even that part has been a non-issue. Ozzie (our cat) and Maia did have a surprise confrontation at 3AM the first night Maia was home- she was sleeping (in her new bed!) when Ozzie came in… Maia barked and tried to get Ozzie, Ozzie used his claws on Maia's nose, Maia yelped then chased Ozzie up the stairs and straight out his cat door, and my adrenaline shot through the roof… I had some fears that Ozzie wouldn't want to come home anymore, but those were unfounded. As I type this, Ozzie is in my lap and Maia is at my feet, both sleeping peacefully. Ozzie is clearly the dominant animal in this house, Maia seems fine with that, and everyone is happy. (Maia hasn't seen our chickens yet, but she has seen wild chickens on the side of the road as she isn't interested in them.)

Anyway, it feels like Maia has brought so much joy into our house. She's only been here for like 4 days but she is already completely part of the family. She's a stud runner- I've taken her 3x now on the same 2.2 mile loop and she pulls me along the whole way! I'm guessing she hasn't done a lot of leashed running so I don't want to overwhelm her with too much too soon, but I'm sure I'll get a bonus 10-15 miles a week running with her simply because it's such a fun thing to do to take this dog running. Most of the time she does a great job staying focused and running straight, but it's pretty clear that she was used as a hunter in her previous life because sometimes she insists on taking breaks to stop and smell the feral cats along the way.

It's been interesting to get some comments on my Facebook posts about her… Friends thanking me for rescuing this dog… I totally get what they mean but you know what? As good as it feels to give this dog the home she deserves, the joy we get back is so real that it doesn't feel like it's any 'sacrifice' at all. That phrase 'Who Rescued Who?' is legit. Bringing Maia into our family has been one of the best decisions I've made in a long time!