Friday, August 8, 2008

A Mile Per Pizza Slice

Last night my enthusiasm for Pagliacci's Verde Primo (hold the mozzarella but leave the little sprinkles of goat cheese; they're hardly dairy, right?) got the better of me and before I knew what had happened I ate SIX slices of artichoke & pesto-y goodness. Now, I'm a girl who can eat, but six slices of pizza may is a tiny bit excessive, even by my warped standards. So this morning after a nice healthy breakfast (of, um, left over cold pizza) I went for a run and vowed a mile for each of those six slices! Wahoo, it's a 10K day!

As I ran up and around and down and back and forth in my fair town I thought a lot about Hesper, my old workout buddy and in many regards my fitness inspiration. She is trapped in Middle-of-Nowhere Texas and does not get to run next to views of the ferry and Sound and competitive Old Lady Rose Gardens like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Thinking about Hesper and the 108 degree weather and cottonmouth water moccasins she deals with on her runs helps to remind me not to take for granted what I have: a gorgeous, temperate seaside town; a body that usually listens to me when I tell it to MOVE!; the time to go for runs that might take 90 minutes or more; and a complete lack of poisonous snakes anywhere near my running routes. These are all tremendous blessings, and when I focus on them it's harder to hate running, or feel grumbley about how it's my weak leg in triathlon.

Another nice thing I got to think about on my 70 minute long run is that Hesper is coming back to town for the Danskin Tri, and so much fitness and beer based merriment will ensue in just six days! Wahoo!

Well just over 10K took me to the door of my gym, where I made up yesterday's Crossfit WOD:

Thursday 08080
"Karen" for time:

150 Wallball shots, 20 pound ball

Blessedly, my gym does not have a 20 pound Dynamax ball, so I did this WOD with a 10 pounder. It was hard. Like, my heart monitor screamed at me the entire time cause, at 177 bpm, I was way outside of my aerobic training range. But Crossfit's not about your "Aerobic Training Range." It's about going until you puke, then going more. I didn't quite get that intense today, but I gave it a good effort and got a time of 10:52. I broke it down into 5 sets of 30, but by set 2 we were well into 10 and 5 rep sub-sets. At the end I collapsed on the floor and walked (no running! none!) home.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

1.5 Mile Open Water - New PR Swim!

Met my mom (who is basically a mermaid she's such a good swimmer) and we drove up to Lake Goodwin for a little open water swimming practice. After checking out a few swimming options on the lake (a friends dock, a community swimming area and park, and Wenberg State Park's swimming area) we settled on a lovely and jet-ski free roped off swimming area at Wenberg.

Here's the view of the swimming area from up above in the picnic area. This was after our swim, when it got crowded, so you can imagine how nice it was earlier, when we had the water practically to ourselves.

Lake Goodwin is gorgeous, with beautiful clean water with a sand and river-rock bottom. The Wenberg swimming area was great too, with a buoy line separating the shallow wading area from the deeper swimming area. If you look at the sat pic of our route you can see the swim lines and the deeper-water area. My mom swam laps on the shallower, warmer inside line (about 75 yards from one end to the other), and I ran a loop of the perimeter (200 meters, give or take).

There was nary a duck in sight (I say "no thanks," to swimmer's itch) but I did see several dragonflies and butterflies, so nature was definitely playing nice. When we first arrived, at around 11, there were several families and quite a few kids hanging out on the log-booms and off the buoy lines of the swimming area, but everyone was really cool and well behaved and the deeper water section of the swimming area was basically deserted. An hour later, when I wrapped up, quite a few more people had entered the deeper water area and I had to avoid more random legs and arms, but it still wasn't unpleasantly crowded.

I did 12 laps total, for a swim of about 1.58 miles according to My mom went about 3/4 miles before calling it a day.

All in all, maybe the most pleasant open water swim I've yet done. The water was so clean and calm, and the loop was simple enough that I felt like I could focus on my form within the open water context. I did catch myself falling into back-quadrant swimming and windmilling a few times, but in general I think I did a pretty good job of catching-up, pulling with a high elbow, and executing a full-body rotation. I found that when I thought of my stroke as a way to propel my body into a skate position instead of a push back against the water I achieved a nice balance of fluid propulsion without shoulder and arm weariness.

I also worked on keeping eyes (and head) up so that my gaze was right around my extended hand. This really helped when it came time to breathe and sight and (especially) sight-breathe. The last thing I focused on was keeping my extended arm extended until the recovering arm got to the catch-up position on a breathing cycle. It's always been harder for me to keep balance while breathing, and my extended arm tends to drop too early because of this. The drop means that cycle turns into a windmill stroke instead of a high-elbow anchoring/pull stroke. I'm still working on it, but it's way easier in a wetsuit (isn't everything?).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why the HELL do I do this?

Today's Crossfit WOD:
Do pull-ups until your hands look like this:

Ok, actual WOD for Wednesday 080806

45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 21 reps
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 21 reps
42 Pull-ups
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 15 reps
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 15 reps
30 Pull-ups
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 9 reps
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 9 reps
18 Pull-ups

Scaled to 20# on the snatches; went to band assisted pull ups by the last round. Hands hurt so bad. Didn't time it. It took roughly forever (somewhere in the 45 minute range), mostly due to the fact that I had to talk myself into grabbing the bar after I dropped on every third pull-up. At one point I even told myself that I'd been through labor, so I could get through just three more pull-ups. Then 3 more, then 3 more.... The frustrating thing is, it isn't the muscle aspect of the pull-ups (at least if we're talking kips; strict is another story). My back is fine, arms are fine: it's my grip and (for this workout) the literally blistering pain in my hands. Towards the end of the second round, the CF'ing trainer at my gym vertical taped my hands...that's prob the only reason I didn't DNF the pull-ups.

Urg. I feel lame.

Homemade, No-Bake Energy Bars

So my kiddo wanted to make cookies, but it was FAR too hot to turn on the oven if I wasn't getting paid for it. Besides, what she really wanted was to eat cookies, and I'm not all about the eating of cookies for entertainment purposes. So we broke out the food processor and all the random bags of dried fruit from Costco that I am compelled to buy, and we just went crazy, blending things up until we had a bowl of homemade energy bar-stuff.

When we were done, adding and adjusting a bit at a time, we had two recipes that were quick, cheap (well, cheaper than $1.50 commercial bars anyway), shelf stable and pretty tasty. These are definitely high-fiber, low protein, though, so if you are not accustomed to a--ahem--high fiber diet you might not want to eat a whole lot of them at once.

Here's the recipes:

Chocolate Cherry No-Bake Energy Bars
10 oz. dried plums
5 oz. dried cherries
6 oz. whole uncooked oats
4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. Nutella

Apri-Coco No-Bake Energy Bars
10 oz. dried apricots
6 oz. dried plums
6 oz. whole uncooked oats
4 oz. shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 oz. almond butter

For either recipe: process ingredients in a food processor to a uniform puree. It will be very thick. When mixture forms a ball, it is probably ready. Press mixture into a sheetpan and smooth to make the mixture as uniform in thickness as possible. Slice into 2 oz. bars (I got about 16 bars out of each recipe) and wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hit It.

Run 3 miles (30 minutes).
Felt great with this run. Really focused on Pose form and keeping my pace up. I told myself I'd really go for 15 minutes, and the pace felt so quick for those 15 minutes. Feels like maybe there is a way to push my min/mile average up: next time I will pace run for 17 minutes, and just keep increasing.

Then, once I ran the circuitous 5K route to the gym, I did my workout:

Pull-ups 3 x 6 (just cause I need to work on pull-ups)

Crossfit WOD: Back Squats 5 x 5
Bar x 10 WU
85 x 5
95 x 5
115 x 5
135 x 5
145 - failed
145 x 3 & Called it good.

Pull-ups 3 x 8 (8 pull-ups! PR! PR! Yeah!)

So, while I'm super happy about getting 8 pull-ups before my grip gave out on me, I think these squats were rather pathetic. I weigh 155, so there is no excuse for failing on a 145# lift. Yes, squats are hard, but I can't help feeling like maybe there is a form defect in my lifting that becomes a problem under weight. Must work on this. I'm thinking about coughing up the cash and going to Rip's Basic Barbell Cert next time it's around Seattle....I want to learn perfect form on the Oly lifts and I'm beginning to realize that expert instruction is probably the only really effective way to do that. I keep nagging the trainer at the gym who is into Crossfit to schedule me for some one-on-one, but so far he's not putting me in his appointment book.

After the squats, I ran/walked home (12 minutes, mostly walking, mostly uphill).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hit It.

AM: Crossfit WOD for Sunday 080803 (done a day late)

For time:
Run 800 meters
Run 400 meters backwards
Run 800 meters
Run 400 meters backwards

This was fun! Forgot my watch; would guess somewhere in the 14 minute range. Put on my track shoes and felt great, when I was going backwards. Forwards hurt...but this is a good thing for my pace improvement plan. Is it wrong to love running backwards? I much preferred the backwards sections...nice adrenaline rush from the constant fear of falling...

PM: Spin Class (45 minute, moderate intensity).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hit It.

Crossfit WOD, as Rx:

Row 1000 meters
85 pound Thruster, 21 reps
15 Pull-ups

Row 750 meters
85 pound Thruster, 18 reps
12 Pull-ups

Row 500 meters
85 pound Thruster, 15 reps
9 Pull-ups

Rest 2 minutes between each round. Time each round separately and post times to comments.

As actually done:
45# thrusters; all other as rx

1st Round: 7:41
2nd Round: 7:00
3rd Round: 5:11 (last three pullups were ugly)

Per usual, pull-ups killed me...all sets required breaking into 3 sub-sets on the pull-ups. But all in all this was fun. I like thrusters, and when I said "Hip Snap" to myself as I went into each thruster, I found the bar felt much lighter.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The North 40 (Edmonds - Everett on the Interurban)

Today Nick took advantage of his company's support for "work-life balance" and took the day off to just hang out. After some deliberation as to how he wanted to spend his day off, he opted to go for a long-ish bike ride. Worked for me! So, we put our kiddo in full-day summer camp and planned a route.

Coming up with a good route when we had hours of uninterrupted and child-free biking time was a bit daunting. We knew we would do better with a destination (our spontaneous ride around Edmonds a few days before had become a frustrating exercise in hill repeats--fine for my training but not exactly the bonding ride Nick, who loathes hills even more than I, was looking for). Nick set the awesome goal of riding directly from our house, not driving to a trailhead (don't laugh, serious cyclists - this is new to us). But I'm skiddish in high-traffic or low-shoulder areas, so that somewhat limited our route-options. In the end, we decided that we had both been curious about the Interurban Trail for some time, and it seemed like a reasonable ride from our house to the trail, so Nick printed out some maps and we got ready.

It turns out that not only is the ride from our house to the Interurban ridiculously quick, it's also very low on the intimidation factor. A steep but short hill got us to a decent bike lane that runs generally uphill (every road around our house runs generally uphill, since we live not too far above sea level). We followed the bike lane for awhile, turned along a few low-traffic side streets, dismounted to cross hywy 99 and then --voila!--we were at the entrance to the Interurban.

The first chunk was a bit stop-and-go, with lots of "Dismount and Walk Bikes" signs that we basically obeyed, and before we knew it, we had popped out in Lynnwood, near the 44th Street entrance to I-5. At this point the trail just went to hell. Or more accurately, disappeared into the type of on-road, heavy-traffic, no-shoulder riding I set out to avoid. I guess if I were a stronger rider and more comfortable with traffic, we could have just ridden along on street for a block of white knuckled terror, but instead we dismounted and walked along the sidewalk. I hope that there is a rerouting planned for this area of the trail. It's the only part along the whole route from Edmonds to Everett that really sucked.

Once we got back on the trail things really picked up, and we entered a fast downhill stretch that took us behind the Alderwood Mall and right to the doorstep of Gregg's Alderwood. I have never really appreciated how brilliantly positioned Gregg's is until now. It was so easy to run in, grab a Clif Bar, some Shot Blocks and a new pair of gloves (my 2 week old cut-off gloves had stretched out, so Nick got them, and I bought a pair in a smaller size) and get back on the trail. Genius!

From Alderwood to the Everett mall was mostly trail; with some on-road bike paths through Mill Creek. Everything was well signed, though Nick and I did get lost at one point when we simply refused to believe that the reconnecting trail shared an entrance with the freeway. We should have believed: along 128th the trail turns west (along the sidewalk) until you are inches from riding (or walking) straight into a freeway on-ramp. It was a bit disconcerting, but once we were back on the trail it was actually quite nice, running along I-5 for awhile before looping up and over the freeway, then pushing flat and uninterrupted for quite awhile.

During one of these long, gentle downhill straights I decided to get down into my tri bars (clip on do-hickies) and practice tri handling. Now, I've had these tri bars for about 3 weeks, and have spent about 9 minutes using them, so I have no illusions as to my handling ability while tucked down. Still, one has to start sometime, and a wide open straight-away seemed like a good place. So I tucked down and pretty quickly got up to about 28 mph (slight downhill, remember). At this speed, my eyes started to get really really dry and I realized my cycling glasses were handing from the collar of my jersey, where they had been since a water stop some miles back. What can I say, I was going really fast (for me) and I had this vision of road debris blinding me forever, so I panicked a bit and came up too quickly, reaching for my glasses at the same time. Big mistake. What happened next was like a terrifying, slo-mo impression of Weebles: I weebled, I wobbled, but I did not fall down. It was a big wobble, taking me perilously close to the drainage ditch on one side of the trail and back to the center line. I was unstable for long enough to think, "Well, this is it. I'm going to crash. I'm definitely going down, and I still don't have my glasses on." Somehow, miraculously, I did not crash. Thinking of it later, the only thing that kept me upright was my speed. I am positive that, had I been going a bit slower, I would have been on the pavement. The strange property of a bicycle to be more stable at higher speeds saved me, more than any jedi-like reflexes I possess.

Nonetheless, it shook me up (and Nick behind me, who's irritation with my zippity-go-wheee speed bender became terror that he would be scraping me off the trail with a spoon) and I continued on for the next portion of the trail in a fully upright and decidedly un-aero position.

The trail past the Everett mall moved more onto on-road bike paths, and at one point we missed a turn and had to cut back and around to get back on the trail. The trail was also interrupted with surprising frequency by these horrid gates that look like giant robot arms. The gates don't allow you to simply ride through some bollards. Instead you have to zig-zag through an opening that's almost big enough for a bike to chicane comfortably through. Almost. I got through the giant robot arms unscathed, but definitely had to put my foot down a few times to avoid ramming the far gate arm. Maybe there's a technique I don't know, because at one point a more advanced looking cyclist passed me and went through the gates just ahead of me. It appeared that he just breezed through the gates, totally clipped in and nonplussed by the whole giant-steel-bar in front of me thing.

We got the the trail end and it seemed to just....well....end. Perhaps there is more trail to explore further on, after some Everett road-riding. We didn't push on to find out, since it was about turn-around time anyway and we couldn't be late to pick up our kiddo.

The way back was into the wind and more uphill than down, and Nick was tired. He was hurting pretty bad through some of the more uphill stretches, but he powered through like a trouper. We rode pretty slow on the way back, but it was nice to be able to just chat and ride together.

All in all, I liked the trail a lot: it was mostly flat with rolling hills and a few short (and not too insane) climbs. Signage was good, but not perfect, and the road quality was very good-wide and mostly smooth, though frequently interrupted at beginning and end. The trail was as scenic as you might expect for a trail that basically follows I-5. A feeling of supreme utility made up for the lack of overwhelming natural beauty. It had a functionality I really liked, like this was the path you use to get places you actually need to go, and in that way it put ideas into our head about becoming less reliant on the car and adjusting commute patterns to incorporate some biking. Which is not to say that the trail was ugly: parts of it were quite lovely, with wooded areas and greenbelts alongside. I saw a one hawk swooping down from the trees South of Everett, and I couldn't count the dragonflies I saw zipping along.

Here's a map to the route we did. For more info on the Interurban in Snohomish County, check out this page. Total distance was just about 40 miles, at a very easy pace (about 11 miles/hr on average-on bike pace probably slightly higher because we did stop several times and walked our rides on multiple occations). Feel very good post ride.