Day one

Sorry for being totally MIA. Work, parenting, and my love for super expensive group exercises classes has kept me away from running (but not biscuits), so not much to write about.

Today; however, I want to share my excitement over a new challenge for this month. My super awesome health guru fitness buff friend Kelly over at Iron Mamas has extended her 100 mile challenge for October. Just get 100 miles in over 31 days. Walk, jog, run, skip, whatever mode you prefer for getting your miles in. It comes out to 3.23 miles per day, or 6.46 miles every two days, or 100 miles in one day. You get the picture.

Back when I was training for marathons, long long ago, I would hit 160-200 miles per month easily frequently. So 100 miles doesn’t sound like much to a marathon runner, but to someone like myself who is now just sort of in a rut trying to figure out what my next race will be, 100 is a good jumping off point. In fact, running about 25 miles a week could make me a pretty mean 800 meter runner. No?

I started out October with a 4 mile double stroller run, averaging around 8:20/mile. I felt pretty strong at the end, at which point I had a light bulb moment. Since I have long since decided that whatever mileage you do while running with a double stroller should be multiplied by two, if I do all 100 miles with the double stroller, then that’s like doing 200 miles! Or, if I do 50, that counts as 100? Just kidding (maybe). Plus, nothing gets me in shape quite like pushing 65 lbs of humans and 20 lbs of stroller uphill.

So who wants to do the 100 mile challenge? If you already ran today, great. If not, you’re only one day behind. Or, there’s still 150 minutes left in the day to hop on your treadmill. If you want to do the 100 day stroller challenge, I can almost guarantee you will get a LOT faster at the end of the month when you run without the stroller.

Big Red

Last week I went for my first longish run in over 6 weeks. I couldn’t make it to spin class in time, and wanted some more quality time with Super Girl and Super Baby, so I decided we should reunite with our friend Big Red – aka, the double stroller.

Big Red is sort of a beast. She cannot fold down with the quick pop of a button or tug of a rip cord. Big Red was probably manufactured by Baby Jogger in 2003. That’s a rough estimate- maybe 2006. Either way, I was still in law school high school. I originally had a single Bob Sport Utility Stroller when Super Girl was just a wee lass. See:

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That Bob was pretty great. It was durable, I could throw an infant seat in there, and it had good storage. But it was a nightmare to maneuver due to the fixed wheel. Or so I thought…

When Super Baby came around, I knew that spending $500 on another Bob was not an option. So I waited until Super Baby was almost 6 months old, then I got a Kelty Speedster Swivel Deuce. Good looking stroller I must admit:

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The Kelty had an option to swivel the wheel, which made it easier to maneuver if I was just strolling around smooth terrain or even wanted to run to Whole Foods with the wheel fixed, then unlock the wheel to walk around the store. Although side note: Whole Foods isn’t really meant for double jogging strollers. It’s meant for Moby Wraps and other forms of child transportation that only involve wearing your child.

The downside of the Kelty is that it is really really difficult to fold and unfold. And the yellow plastic pieces that have to snap down to ensure the stroller doesn’t just pop up and send your kids flying down the road, well, I broke into a sweat every time I had to do the snapping.

So the Kelty’s life came to an end very quickly, as I didn’t want Super Girl to associate curse words with a) me or b) the act of running.

I had heard great things on runner’s message boards about the old school Baby Jogger strollers. You have seen them around- usually red, turquoise, Kelly green, or purple. They are like a long sling with either no hood (because the hood truly is a POS) or a short flat hood. They have either 16″ or 20″ wheels. Apparently, “serious” runners only do a large fixed wheel of at least 16″. Frills like infant seat adapters, cup holders, iPod docs, reclining seats, etc, need not apply.

I found Big Red on eBay. I had searched on craigslist for weeks with no success. Of course now, as I post this, there are three doubles comparable to mine that are going for about $50. Lovely. I didn’t pay that much more (I don’t think).

Big Red needed a new tire and a little bit of tuning up but otherwise, she was good to go. I have taken the kids on many a run with Big Red and she is soooo light and so fast. She turns on a dime. I always assumed it is impossible to turn a fixed-wheel stroller easily but that simply is not the case. You just need a light stroller apparently! Downhill, we practically fly. It’s a good thing I have a leash so the stroller doesn’t get away form me. Another sidebar: if you run with your kids, make sure you use the strap. Once that stroller gets away from you, only Usain Bolt would be able to catch it.

I haven’t been running much and Big Red has been collecting dust over the past two months. We had a blast last Thursday, just like old times. Knocked out about 4 miles in 35 minutes on a rolling route. Another 4 miles in 34 minutes the next day, and again today. There are times it is so so painful, but isn’t that what being a parent is? Taking the good with the bad?

I won’t be able to schlep these kids around in Big Red for much longer, because Super Baby’s weight doubles approximately every three months. But for now, I shall cherish her as Super Girl cherishes watching PBS kids on my iPhone and inhales snacks while she sits in the stroller. Do whatever it takes to keep a stroller-restrained kid happy!

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Stronger

In honor of the Blue Ridge Relay this weekend, which many of my super crazy awesome friends are doing this weekend, I thought I would regale you with the tale of my “hill work” last Saturday. Super Dad, Super Baby, Super Girl, and I were in the mountains for the holiday, and my only options were run, walk, use a 30 year old recumbent bike, or sit around. While I did choose the latter for two days, I decided to push myself a bit on Saturday.

I haven’t been running much because of my back, but I have been feeling better, so I figured I would go for a run in the beautiful fresh mountain air. When I say I did hill work, that is an understatement. I typically bellyache over having to cover 50 feet of elevation change during a one hour run. I will zig zag up and down the same street 12 times just because it is flat and I cannot drag my butt up another hill. I reason with myself that I can either keep running on flat ground, thereby getting more miles in, or walk up a hill/go home. That said, I know that running hills makes you stronger and faster, and I have gotten a lot better about incorporating it into my workouts because they are simply unavoidable in Raleigh. But that doesn’t mean I like em!

The running I did on Saturday quite possibly induced the most pain I have ever known while exercising. I started at the house where we were staying, then ran to the main road, which was about .6 miles down the mountain. Running that steep downhill (about a 45% grade at points) is not easy. But you do go pretty damn fast. Then I turned around to go back up. Uhhhh, what was I thinking? I ended up sprinting for a minute then completely stopping for 30 seconds, all the way back up that “hill.” Then I did the whole thing again, running for marginally longer stretches on the way back up. My total running time was an average of 6:33/mile.

I’m not going to pretend there’s any way my average would have been any faster than 9:30/mile had I not made it into an interval workout. Just standing looking up the gravel road during my breaks was painful. I could barely catch my breath. Mountain air is thinner right? Ok, I know it wasn’t the Pike’s Peak Marathon, but I am not used to this kinda stuff.

The point is that I know my body has limits, and I wanted to test them without the end result being me lying in the yard of some bearded mountain man with a pack of wild dogs sniffing my lifeless carcass. Plus, when you do hill work, you don’t just run up a giant mountain for 5 minutes straight, unless you are one of those maniacs super dedicated, adventurous people who does the Blue Ridge Relay. Normal people either do short bursts for 10-20 seconds, or longer intervals of 1-2 minutes. I know this workout, however short, made me a better runner.

Today, pushing the kids in the double stroller, I gobbled up the rolling hills in our neighborhood like Miss Pacman taking down cherries. She eats those right? I won’t credit the ease with which I knocked out four double stroller miles to a few measly miles of interval work on a mountain, but the perspective was nice. And the feeling that even though I haven’t been able to run in the last month, the cross training has really kept me stronger than I expected.

So here’s to hills or mountains, pick your poison this weekend. Good luck to all you crazies!

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How to live in the present

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever heard these quotes? Or seen the Wikihow page on 7 steps to “live in the moment”? Gurus and philosophers, therapists and motivational speakers; they are always espousing the idea that you can’t live in the past or the future- you have to live in the present. That’s all well and good, but I can’t live in the present unless I can look toward the future.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, as you may have noticed by my lack of activity here. Not being able to do all the things I like to physically has been emotionally taxing on me. I quickly resigned myself to a life of water aerobics, Instagram, and Words with Friends. But I found a way to live in the moment, by spending more time with my family, watching SuperBaby learn to do awesome new things every day, and helping Super Girl with her new blog .

My back isn’t completely fixed now, but it seems to be getting somewhat better. I have been trying to ease back into things but that never really goes that well for me because I don’t like to lose. Although I am not planning on doing any 50 mile rides or 15 mile runs in the near future, I decided that every day I would just try to figure out what I am feeling up to, and then give it a try (so long as it fit into the family schedule of course). For instance, a quick 18 miles on my bike after work last Friday. On Saturday, I did the same insane circuit/Crossfit-ish/bootcamp class that had all the jump roping last time. I know you all think I am crazy and did not learn my lesson, but I reminded myself that the class is different every week and I can modify. The most recent class had five stations, one minute each. After all five stations, you do one minute of shuttle runs, then go back to the first station. Repeat the whole thing six times.

1) modified handstand pushup. The handstand pushup is pretty big in Crossfit. I have no upper body muscles and little balance or coordination, so I did the version where your knees are on a box. No back problems there.

2) Russian Kettle Bell Swings with 20 lb kettlebell. I did more of a modified American swing, becasue the Russian version engages your core and glutes more, and I was concerned it would bother my back. However, with the American version, you go all the way overhead, which is not so awesome for my right shoulder, which I had operated on twice in 2011.

3) Burpees

4) Chest press with 20 lbs dumbbells

5) Wall balls with a 15 lbs. ball

By the end of class, my shoulders were toast.

I also got a spin class in on Sunday and a ride indoors on my road bike on Monday. My parents got me an early birthday present, this sweet Cycelops Fluid2 Trainer, plus some training dvd’s and other accessories. I have been eyeing this trainer for a while, but couldn’t throw down the cash to buy it because I spend all my money at lululemon am saving up for a minivan/the kids’ college/Disneyworld. So far, the verdict is that it’s a great trainer, but riding on it is soooooo boring. I didn’t watch the dvd though, so that’s probably part of the problem. The thought of going for three hours on it makes me want to fall asleep as I type.

Even though I have gotten some decent workouts in and have tried some new things, I just feel like I’m kind of in an athletic rut because I’m not really training for anything. It makes me live in the past, where I think about when I could just throw on my shoes and go knock out 8 miles like it was nothing. There’s no way I can do the Pinehurst Tri as I had originally planned for early October, because my back is not well enough for me to do more than 20 miles on the bike without me having complete foot numbness for 24 hours thereafter. I also haven’t run longer than 2 minutes consecutively since July. Finally, we don’t even want to go into the disaster that has been my swimming training, because once I realized I was not going to be able to do Pinehurst, I just completely sacked my pool time. Why smell like chlorine when you don’t have to, right?

I decided that a reasonable goal would be to do the last Rex Wellness Sprint Tri on October 13. It is super short and a good compromise because it gives me a goal I can look forward to, but I won’t have to kill myself to get the end result of another triathlon under my belt. It also gives me an excuse to carb load on October 12. Plus, even though I have not been swimming at all, there still should be no more than a minute difference between myself and the top female swimmer (my sister-in-law). She has been doing masters swimming, which involves yardage that I would only do if you held a gun to my head. So yeah, if you put us head-to-head in a 1500, she would be showered and blow-dried by the time I got out of the pool. But a 250, I can handle that 🙂 It’s also a short enough bike and run that it shouldn’t be too taxing on my back. I say this now, but I’ll potentially be walking with a cane on Turkey Day.

So there you have it- all it took was me realizing that I just kind of flounder without something on the horizon that I can look forward to (vacation, birth of a baby, Christmas, a race). You may say that I’m not living in the moment, but I need the promise of the future to help me live in the now. Is that cheesy? Yes. Massively queso-fied. But it’s true. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to need goals to help us enjoy each minute of every day, to understand what the purpose is of each workout, or realize that one day your child will start kindergarten so you may want to work on him/her giving up the pacifier at some point before age 5 (not my kid). What are your goals? Do you live in the present, past, or future?

Needs versus wants

Ok, I apologize in advance to any new mothers out there who are getting approximately 79 minutes of sleep in any one stretch at night. Maybe you should just skip this post altogether so I don’t annoy you 🙂

I spoke too soon yesterday… I don’t know if I overdid it during the jump rope/thruster/burpee/squat workout or the steroid taper is just affecting me the same way it did last time (feel awesome the first few days), but I had an awful night of pain which led to lack of sleep. My mom thinks it was the jump roping but I beg to differ. My jump riping resembles a toddler trying to just barely avoid stepping on a dead bug on the sidewalk. No double unders here, just doing enough to not trip over the rope. For years I skipped jumping rope all together because I looked A FOOL whenever I tried. I spent more time getting untangled from the rope than getting any sort of aerobic activity in.

Anyway, I know that no one really cares, but I need my sleep. I am seriously like a 2 year old in that respect. Sleep helps you regenerate your brain cells and recover both mentally and physically from the day. I know I read that somewhere. It has to be science, why else would it be so important for babies to get sleep?

Here’s the thing- Prednisone makes you wired. But not only was I amped up from the Prednisone, I was also in so much pain that I could not sleep. I finally fell asleep around 3am after watching two episodes of Real Housewives of New Jersey and eating 4th meal. Don’t judge- I don’t judge you for watching Duck Dynasty or The Bachelorette. I mean really, how is The Bachelorette still on? No one ever finds their “one true love” on that show?! And as for the food, well, I was hungry from burning so many calories writhing in pain. At least it wasn’t Taco Bell.

I couldn’t sleep in, but was really savoring crawling back into bed for a nap with Super Girl. We had the naps synchronized perfectly with Super Baby and this never happens because the kid is a sleep maniac. He still typically takes two naps a day, which means one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Super Girl’s comes sandwiched in the middle. If you have kids that aren’t super close together in age, you have probably encountered this form of house arrest several times. You can’t leave the house from 10am to 5pm. They should have just given Martha Stewart a baby and 3 year old as her punishment. Dated reference? Perhaps. I exaggerate somewhat, but you get my point.

Well, today the stars had aligned, which had me so excited in the hour leading up to what would be their simultaneous nap times. I was smug in fact. And of course, I was first in too much pain to relax and then, once the pain was under control, the Prednisone kept me from going to sleep. So although Super Baby rocked two hours, as per usual, and Super Girl is still asleep, 2.5 hours later, I am wide awake but utterly exhausted. And I don’t even have a 50 mile bike ride in the morning to show for it. Curses!

Sorry for the rant. At least I felt well enough yesterday to get in a killer workout, play with my kids, and take Super Dad to H&M for the first time. Super Baby was unimpressed with the car shirt, as evidenced by the photo below. It was neither a need nor a want.

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I also can’t complain because I felt well enough to have an awesome dinner with my super awesome neighbors. Seriously, it is like we moved to Pleasantville. I have never known so many awesome people in such a concentrated area. Really, they are so awesome that I have used the word awesome five times in this paragraph alone. It is something we have wanted for a long time, and we have finally found it.

So even though I want to be out there biking or running, all I really need is to feel better so I can be a good mom to my kids and wife to Super Dad. And I need my sleep of course. You mothers of newborns out there, if you have read this far without getting super frustrated with me, you will know what I’m talking about when that baby starts sleeping 🙂

PS- if you want to get a glimpse into a day in the life of me, Super Baby, Super Kid, and Super Dad, check out my Instagram handle: willrunforbiscuits (shocker). I typically will post workouts, photos of Super Baby wearing a Rapunzel wig, and the delicious and clean meals Super Dad creates for us during the week. Check it out if you want or need to. Although I honestly can’t think of a single sane, non stalkerish person who would need to follow my Instagram.

Found

I found two things this week!

The first is totally relevant because it involves workout apparel. I found these insane lululemon Speed Shorts that came out last week and sold out online in minutes. I missed them, and also missed them in stores in Raleigh. People were apparently lining up at the door waiting for the store to open so they could buy these shorts. Of course, I saw this as a business opportunity, because I sell lululemon stuff I no longer want on ebay. These lunatics women will pay MORE than what the clothing retailed for originally. For used stuff. So I knew that I had to have these shorts, not only because they are cute, but because they sold out so fast, I would be able to make a killing on them down the road. I am actually at the point where I don’t buy any new lulu unless I have sold a used piece. That’s reasonable right?

I discovered, from an inside source (friend who is a manager at lululemon) that the store in Charlotte got the shorts late Wednesday night, so I implored my buddy- we will call her Lisa- to go to the store as soon as it opened Thursday and buy them for me. She agreed, not realizing that she was signing herself up for texts from me every 5 minutes beginning at 9am Thursday. I am surprised that a restraining order was not taken out. The shorts were secured, and delivered to another friend, “Harry,” who then transported them in an armored car to Asheville, where we were for a bachelorette party. Funds were exchanged via Paypal, and all was right in the world. And now Super Dad knows how deep my addiction runs. It’s a disease really.

Ok, so on to the second thing I found: my endorphins! I started my second round of oral steroids to treat the herniated disc in my back, and fingers crossed- I think it’s working this time. Assuming I continue to get better, I won’t need an epidural steroid injection or surgery. My friend “Richard Simmons” asked me if I had ever seen an epidural needle before. Ummm, I have given birth twice and I was induced both times, so yes, I have most definitely seen an epidural needle before.

Anyway, because I am feeling better, I naturally went full steam ahead and did a class at the Y this morning. Really, I felt this was a responsible decision because I still can’t really run and think that I am not ready to sit on a bike for a couple hours. The class used to be called Intensity, but then the Y started to offer the Insanity classes that a lot of lunatics people have been doing, so Y-goers got confused. Thus, the Y changed the name of the Intensity class to Muscle Madness. It’s basically like a Bootcamp and CrossFit all rolled into one. I hated liked the workout so much that I wanted to share it.

WOD 1:
1:50 of jump rope, then 10 seconds of thrusters (I used 15 lb dumb bells)
1:40 jump rope, 20 seconds thrusters

… And so on, until you get down to only 10 seconds of jump rope and 1:50 of thrusters.

It ends up being 11 rounds = 22 minutes of activity with NO REST. Holy shoulder death.

WOD 2:
1:50 air squats, then 10 seconds of box jump burpees
–> –> –>
10 seconds air squats, 1:50 box jump burpees

Again, 11 rounds = 22 minutes of exercise.

I had to modify the box jump so that I stepped down instead of jumped down. And the burpees were of course full chest to ground burpees, as my friend “Nelly” always made us do in Athletic Conditioning in Charlotte. It’s NOT a burpee unless your chest touches the ground people! Check out her blog blog here!

This workout is perfect for a big group exercise class because you can just use a step with risers if you don’t have a box, and you only need a jump rope and one set of weights. Plus you can have partners take turns deciding whether to start with 1:50 of the thrusters or the jump rope if you are pressed for steps/boxes. Also, modifications can be made like changing the box jump burpee to a burpee with a jump squat, or burpee with a switch lunge jump. There’s something for everyone 🙂

This workout nade my shoulders and legs burn, and I think this kind of hurt is directly proportional to the endorphins created. So I am a very very happy girl today, because as you know, my endorphins were lost for the last week or so.

Did you find/buy/try anything new this week? Is there anything I should try next week, besides abridging my blog posts?

ISO Endorphins

If you follow me on Instagram – my handle may be really hard to remember: it’s willrunforbiscuits – then you may have noticed 1) no photos related to exercise and 2) everything seems really awesome in my world.  If you don’t follow me but you follow social medial in general, you probably know that most people seem to paint a picture that everything in there life is sunshine and puppies, PR’s in every race, babies that sleep 15 hours at night at 4 weeks old, pay raises, surprise giant bouquets of exotic flowers from significant others, and selfies.  I find it highly improbable that life is that perfect all the time.  People just want everyone else to think everything is hunky dory because really, who wants to be depressed by your screaming kid that just smeared bodily fluids on the wall?  Or maybe there is something missing any putting cute and happy pictures into the universe makes life better for the time being.

I know this isn’t really related to running, or triathlon training, but I’m going to connect the dots soon.  For the last week, I have not been able to work out.  No running (that makes three weeks now), no cycling, no swimming, no lifting, nothing.  Remember that leg thing that has been nagging me for a while that I self-diagnosed as compartment syndrome?  Wrong, it isn’t compartment syndrome.  I jacked up my back somehow.  I really have no clue how I did it.  I didn’t slip, trip, or fall.  I didn’t lift anything heavy other than one of my giant children or 50 pound dogs.  It just sort of happened over the last several weeks.  Really, since before my triathlon in July.  But I thought it was due to tight shoes or something.  In retrospect, I should have known it was my back, because when you herniate a disc at a certain point in your low back, it pretty much ONLY causes leg and foot symptoms. That’s it.  No back pain.  

I mentioned what was going on when I talked to my former boss last week (we’ll call her Jim).  It’s interesting because we joke that she is either future me or I am pre-millenium Jim.  When Jim was my age, she had two small kids.  Then she herniated a disc in her back and ended up having surgery.  Now she has two awesome teenageers and we have a lot more in common which i won’t get into, because I only overshare about myself, Super Dad, and the Super Kids.  Jim wanted to know how I was doing because she noticed that over the weekend I posted a lot of awesome, super happy photos on instagram from a bachelorette party I went to.  Then when I got back I posted a bunch of happy photos of Super Baby and Super Kid.  No Facebook updates to the effect of “Wow, my leg hurts. Still not running.  Really getting depressed.” I think Jim knew that something was still up, so she just wanted to check in on me, which I so appreciate.  Because it’s time I really check in on myself.

Running, exercising, pick your poison, has got to be one of the best anti-depressants out there.  I think most people involved in some form of fitness know that exercise makes you happy.  It’s science.  You’re probably familiar with the term “runner’s high,” which refers to the euphoric feeling one sometimes gets when exercising. Researchers have found that  heavy weights or training that incorporates sprinting or other anaerobic exertion produce endorphins. This is because when your body crosses over from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state, it’s suddenly operating without enough oxygen to satisfy the muscles and cells screaming out for it. This is when the “runner’s high” occurs.  This explains why I always feel best when I run so hard that I want to vomit. 

Since I have not been able to tap into any natural endorpins, my mental state has been less than awesome.  Not just because my body doesn’t feel right, but because I really felt like I was getting on the right track with my tri training.  I was proud of my cycling, my newfound commitment to the pool, and just being able to get some sort of schedule worked out that accommodated our family.  Now, I know it’s only been a week, but I naturally go to this place of “what if I need surgery?” and “what if I’m not supposed to bike anymore, or run?” or “what is nothing helps the numbness and burning in my leg and foot go away?” 

I entered what I consider the four stages of grieving: 1) ignorance- pretend you will be running again in a matter of days. 2) drinking and eating a lot of processed foods to deal with fact that ignorance isn’t working. 3) purging processed foods from house because stage 2 has made me feel totally gross. 4) being a bad friend.

I’m a bad friend because I don’t want to know how fast you are running, what upcoming triathlon you are sure to crush, how many miles you swam after working 9 hours and making homemade baby food, how ripped you are now that you can work out three hours a day and don’t eat any sugar or dairy or carbs, or how it’s soooo crazy that you never get hurt despite running 60 miles a week.  I should be supportive but right now, I don’t have enough endorphins to get me through the day without despairing that my hard work has been for nought.  That I am on my way to becoming a decrepit, unathletic middle-aged woman who will be limited to water aerobics and tai chi.  Not that those things aren’t cool.  But I want to SWEAT.  I want to compete.  I don’t want to be in this place, and so if I’m not commenting on Instagram or Facebook about what a badass runner you are and how you inspire me (because you really do), please don’t be angry with me.  I need more endorphins.  And I need my leg back. 

Temporary insanity

I haven’t run in a week. The downside: it’s making me a little crazy and unmotivated to blog because I don’t get the same satisfaction from just riding my bike. The upside: I am spending more time on my bike, which is clearly my weakest of the triathlon disciplines.

Why haven’t I run in a week? Because for the past several weeks, my left calf and foot have been getting that weird numb and tingly feeling that you get right before or after your leg falls asleep. And my foot has felt swollen to the point where if I wear a shoe that’s at all constricting, it really hurts. I thought that it was just an issue with how I was lacing my shoes, as the weird sensation would kind of go away after an hour or so. But over time, I have noticed that I have that numb and tingly sensation all the time. I asked a friend, who is the world’s greatest orthopedic physician’s assistant, about my symptoms via facebook. He immediately pointed me to this article on the interwebs about chronic exertional compartment syndrome. The symptoms fit me pretty much to a tee, which is not atypical when I google physical ailments. But since I did not initiate the googling in this case, I think I have legitimate reason for concern.

My PA friend suggested I take one two weeks off of running. I thought I could slide by with one but he called me out on it on facebook. That’s what you get when you overshare about your exercise habits. This feels like an eternity. I really felt like I was starting to make some headway improving my speed and stamina, but I’d rather lose a bit of ground that have my calf cut open. Or pay the surgical and anesthesia fees associated with said calf cutting. So far, I have not had any abatement of my symptoms.

I decided to push my international distance triathlon to October 5. It will be in Pinehurst, which is much hillier than White Lake, which I had originally intended. I want to give myself plenty of time to recover from whatever is going on with my left leg and foot, plus with all the hill training here in the Triangle, I should have an advantage over any flatlanders who come from Wilmington. Right? Right?

Instead of running, I have decided to concentrate on my cycling, and have done a 34 mile outdoor ride. It was my first ride over 25 miles so I feel a little better about doing 30 miles during my next tri. I think our average was 18.5 mph including stops for traffic lights, and I was not at all tired afterward, so I can’t complain. I am really just trying to figure out what gear I am most comfortable in while on the flats, and how hard I can push myself for 20 miles, 30, 40, etc. I finally had a professional fit me on my bike, had aerobars put on, and got new carbon pedals which I am in LOVE with. A tri bike is not in my immediate future unless someone would like to generously sponsor me, so I am doing the best with what I have. At least it’s not a mountain bike!

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Last night I did Insanity at the Cary YMCA. That workout seriously is very appropriately named. What kind of lunatic would/could do this every day? I seriously wanted to quit after warmup. No weights involved other than your body weight, but very little rest. I had such a massive puddle of sweat beneath me, I almost slipped and busted my face open on the gym floor. It was really attractive. This morning I could barely get out of bed I was so sore. I think it will be a nice little cross training activity that I will try to do every other week, after I have tapered for like 3 days. I just need to make sure I bring lots of towels next time. An an oxygen tank.

Tonight I have a swim/spin brick on tap. I have not been in the pool at all since the Triangle Tri, unless you include holding Super Baby in our community pool and trying to keep him from submerging himself underwater repeatedly. The kid thinks he is either David Blaine or Michael Phelps. I am not sure. For my heart’s sake, I hope he is the latter. I am giving myself the excuse that most people who do tris are just barely able to stay afloat, so I have that natural advantage. But when it comes down to it, 1500 meters two months from now are really going to suck if I don’t buckle down. Plus, the women who are beating me in my age group are super hardcore and are legit in the water. I am hoping they train at least five days a week, so that once I start swimming more than twice a month, I will start destroying them. Ha.

Getting back to my temporary insanity (Insanity workout unrelated), I am really just trying to listen to my body because if I am going to complete almost 3 hours of activity in October, then I need to be close to 100%. Granted, I have run for over 3 hours in my marathons in the past, but this is a whole new ballgame. Being unable to run, even if it is only temporary, takes away my security blanket since running is something I know how to do, and I can do it pretty much anywhere, regardless of what is going on with the weather. So I need to know what you triathletes do when you can’t run? What are your favorite cross-training activities? And how much strength training do you do? I feel like I am really dropping the ball in that area and don’t know if I should be just going to the gym and lifting or if doing a class with high reps/low weights is enough.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. I am planning to ride FIFTY miles on Sunday, just for fun, so I will let you know if I survive!

I wish I were a Kardashian…

Now I know you’re thinking “where could she possibly be going with this?” because presumably, the Kardashians have nothing to do with either running or biscuits, because they pay thousands of dollars a month for private pilates reformer lessons and thousands of dollars a week (day?) for a personal chef to make them delicious meals that are less than 1200 calories per day. Then again, I feel like the booties would be a little smaller if no biscuits were being consumed? I digress. The reason I somewhat envy the Kardashians is because I am pretty sure that most of them, except Rob- because he seems useless- have personal assistants that force them to stick to these strict schedules. I really need one of those. Because my flexibility, in areas of my life other than yoga of course, is getting a little out of control.

I used to be one of those people that was very regimented with my schedule. This is most likely because I had only 24 hours in a day to get in two swim practices, go to high school or college 6-8 hours a day, eat, and hibernate. This carried over into my adulthood, to the point where I would not go to a happy hour if I had a long run planned (LOSER) or I would get serious anxiety if I someone bailed on our plans and I had to come up with some other way to entertain myself. Or, if someone suggested doing a race together in 11.4 weeks, I would say “no, that is 4 days too short for me to complete a full 12 week training cycle.”

When Super Girl entered this universe, I continued this military precision scheduling, as many new mothers do. We were I was going to get this tiny human sleeping through the night by 19 days old if it killed me. That is slight hyperbole. Oh, you’re hungry 6 minutes before this sleep training book says you’re permitted to eat again? Sorry, hope you can get some milk out of that pacifier because the milk factory is off limits for 6… 5 1/2 more minutes. Someone wants us to meet them for a quick brunch? Not gonna happen, it may overlap with naptime by 15 seconds. I was so wed/chained to the schedule that I drove EVERYONE crazy. Including myself. Granted, I ended up with a champion sleeper, but that’s genetics there.

The second time around, I decided that I would be a lot more flexible with Super Baby’s feeding, sleeping, etc. I would head to the gym and Super Dad would say “What time does Super Baby need to eat next?” My response: “uh, whenever. anytime between 2 and 4 hours from now.” Ok I wasn’t quite that lackadaisical, but you get my point. Super Dad looked at me like I had grown a second head and was speaking in Mandarin. He was certainly not expecting anything other than “90 to 91 minutes from now. No earlier, no later. And don’t rock him to sleep, that’s a sleep prop. And no white noise, that’s a sleep prop too. So is loving him too much” (just kidding!)

I liked my newfound flexibility as well. It was very liberating at first, but then it sort of morphed into this hippie meets ADD-ish attitude. What should we have for dinner? Oh, whatever (I became that girl). Should we go out of town next weekend? Yeah, I guess. Or we could not. We could just “play it by ear.” Should I run a marathon? Sounds good, maybe…

But here is where my flexibility really got to me, as an athlete and now, as a member of this family. I have run precisely three races since Super Baby was born 13 months ago- an 8k, 5k, and 10k. This is because I could not commit to the schedule required to train for a half marathon or full marathon. I don’t know if it’s because I was scared to start really getting into the training, only to run the race and be disappointed in myself as I have so many times before. Or maybe it’s because I just wasn’t willing to sacrifice spontaneous trips to the park, or ice cream after work, or going with my tried and true calorie scorcher (and social hour) at the YMCA in Charlotte. It’s most likely a combination of all of these things. Ultimately, it resulted in me achieving basically zero of my goals for the first year after Super Baby was born, besides fit back into pants that have zippers.

Since we have moved to Raleigh, scheduling really has to be a necessity in our lives. We don’t live as close to daycare or work as we did in Charlotte. Granted, we could walk to daycare and work (but didn’t, because we’re the world’s worst commuters like that), and the Y was just over a mile away. Here, we spend significantly more time in our cars than we used to. Again, this is a very small fraction of time compared to what the average American has to spend getting to and from their place of work. Point being, the amount of time we are sitting in the car is time that I used to spend just kind of farting around after work or actually spending at the gym or running. Getting to the Y now by 6pm takes an act of Congress. We also don’t want to take the kids to the Y as much because overall, we are spending probably 30 fewer minutes per day with them so we want to be at home with them when we can. This poses quite a quandary for my triathlon, and eventually marathon (!) training.

Recently, Super Dad bought a white board so that we could map out our family schedule each week. The board still has not been mounted on our mud room wall, so I just pretend that I don’t actually have to commit to anything until it is officially on the wall. Most weeks I spend quite a bit of time trying to decide what days I will ride, what days I will run and what workouts I will do, and which days I will swim (almost never) or do strength work. Then, I spend even more time not sticking to that plan. I have been applauding myself for my ability to be flexible and continue to get what I presume is an adequate amount of training in despite my having to change up the plan at the last minute. If I have planned a morning run and I decide to sleep in, which is 95% of the time, I don’t beat myself up because I have already given myself a backup plan of two other times during the day to run.

The problem with this flexibility is that it is all inside my head. So while I am patting myself on the back for getting my workout in when in the old days (post sleep training breakdown, pre-newfound dedication to training) I would have just called the day a wash and decided I would just do “extra” the next day, I am messing up someone else’s plans. Yesterday, I was going to get up at 6am to do a tempo run. Story of my life, I just gave my iphone alarm the old “get real” and slept in another hour-ish. I then worked through lunch, planning to leave work early to get my run done on the treadmill before picking up the kids. Of course, things didn’t work out quite so perfectly, so I headed home and set out for a run just after 5pm in the sunny, 90 degree weather.

I was so angry with myself for not being able willing to stick with my original planned morning running. It was hot, humid, sunny, and I was just annoyed. I knew I would likely be slower because of these conditions, so I set 8:15 as my goal pace. Mile one went by in 7:37 I think. Ohhh, this isn’t so bad. At 1.4 miles, I heard a lot of thunder and noticed the skies were getting a bit dark. At 1.5 miles, it started pouring. Like, horizontal rain sheets attacking my face. I just kept trucking, knocked out a 7:24. Then mile 3 was all uphill, heavy shoes, wind, and frustration that my headphones broke from all the rain. 7:50. Back on the flats the rest of the way- 7:34, 7:36, 7:34 I think. I stopped at 6 miles because Super Dad was bringing the kids home and he had a prior engagement, which had been scheduled well in advance of 5pm that day, and I needed to make sure I was there when I said I would be home.

I was feeling pretty smug about my ability to get in a really solid workout despite sleeping in and presumably heading out to run in the worst conditions ever. I was expecting heat exhaustion but I got a nice brisk run in, and bonus- people couldn’t tell if I was soaked in sweat or acid rain! I told Super Dad that I planned to go to a strength and conditioning class at the Y tonight so I could work on getting my upper body muscles back. Although I lamented my gigantic lats in my youth, I now wish I had at least half of a bicep or maybe even a quarter of a pec. And abs, well a 2 pack would suffice. We agreed this would work with our family’s commitments for today.

Then around 3:30 this afternoon, I find out that my favorite gym in Raleigh, which is a bit too steep for my budget, had a free class at 5:30 tonight. Score!!! Sign me up. Problem: I talked to Super Dad soon thereafter and learned that this time probably wasn’t going to work for the family because I would need to pick up the kids from daycare. Problem solved: call Super Mother-in-Law and then I can still go to the 5:30 class. Psych! Although this allowed me to get my workout in, I was selfish and put someone else out, all because of my classic spur of the moment “I do what I want” attitude. Hmmm, and I wonder why Super Girl does this

Anyway, although no kids were neglected, no puppies went without dinner, and no world peace pacts went unsigned because of my not sticking to the previously agreed upon schedule (it wasn’t in writing though, so it’s not really legally binding right? oh wait, I should know the answer to that one) I still messed up. It’s really not that difficult to wake up at 5:30 to run a couple times a week. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t go to a free gym class immediately after work, when I can go to an equally free class two hours later when Super Dad is available to watch the Super Kids. And it’s probably a pretty good idea, if I have actual goals I want to achieve, that I stick to some sort of training plan, or those goals will just end up as more registration fees that have vanished into PayPal cyberspace.

So my commitment for next week is to be both a Kardashian and a Kardashian assistant. I will force myself to stick with my training plan, including the actual start times for my workouts. Not just getting them done within 24 hours of when I had planned, but doing a morning run if that’s what the schedule calls for, etc. If someone gets sick or work runs late or a neighbor needs us (to drink wine with them on the porch), that’s understandable. Life happens. But it’s time this not so Super Mommy started making her Super Family’s life a priority rather than her sweat life. I think the result will be happier kids, happier man chef hubby, and ironically enough, happier me. My, how we have come full circle grasshopper.

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Race recap

I have meaning for some time to do a product review post, because I am a product junkie.  Ok, I’m a shopaholic.  There, I said it.  I will get to the review later this week because I wanted to do a quick tediously long race recap.  It may take you 98 minutes (the length of time of my race) to read it.

My first triathlon was this weekend.  It was the Triangle Triathlon in Apex, or maybe it was Holly Springs?  I am not sure.  Anyway, I have the White Lake International distance triathlon on September 7, but felt like this would be a good tune-up race since it is significantly shorter, i.e., I have not been in the pool nearly as much as I should, so I wanted to gauge my fitness (or lack thereof).  Also, as mentioned earlier, my friend Sherman, who has done a handful of Ironmans, basically forced me into doing it.

Last week I had one good workout.  I had been battling a stomach bug for over a week, and the old me would have used that as the perfect setup to excuse a poor performance.  Instead, I decided to just take the bug head on by overdosing on Imodium and Pepto.  After a good 72 hours of medicine, which apparently is contrary to manufacturer recommendation, I felt more than 50% normal.  I did not do any workouts on Wednesday or Thursday as that was when I felt like death was warming over, but apparently this made for a decent taper.  On Friday, Sherman and I did about 10 quick miles on the bike and a fast mile (well, rounding up significantly) after work.  I felt like a pile of warm sludge.  This could not bode well, right?

I made a list of all the things I needed on Thursday night, and packed my bag Friday.  I painstakingly selected a tri suit, oh wait, I only have one kit.  I also set a reminder on my iphone to bring my USAT card or else I would have to pay $12 at the race venue in order to pick up my packet.  I guess I missed the memo about bringing my ID as well.  More on that later.

Super Girl also chose Friday to get some sort of illness, and naturally, she woke up three times in the middle of the night.  Super Dad, as per usual, woke up with her the first time, so as to give me some extra rest.  The other times, I took one (two, three) for the team.  Basically, by the time the alarm went off at 5:15, I felt like I had gotten maybe 39 minutes of shut-eye.  Awesome.

Sherman and I swung by McDonald’s and had a nutritious breakfast of egg and cheese biscuit for me, and sausage and egg platter for him. Oh yeah, we had pizza the night before. Apparently this is some thing that triathletes do?  I guess I really was destined to get into this sport.  How ironic after my last post on nutrition.  We got to the race venue around 6:00 and the race was to start at 7:30.  Plenty of time, right?

By the time we lugged all our stuff from the parking lot to the transition area, met up with some of Sherman’s friends, and went to check in, it was almost 7:00.  I just needed to get out my USAT card and ID to pick up my bib.  Oh wait, I didn’t have either.  I left my USAT card in the truck (one mile away) and my ID at home.  They let me use my facebook page to authenticate my ID – wow, really? And I had to borrow $12 to pay the one-day fee.  Of course.  By the way, I owe Cameron Simmons $12.  Better set a reminder on my iphone.

Fast forward to the swim start.  I was in the 6th wave, so I had to wait about 24 minutes to start.  We warmed up before the swim, at which point I learned the temperature of the lake was 90 DEGREES.  What?!?! A 90-year-old would get hot in that lake. Not good.  I warmed up then stood around more nervous then you could ever imagine.  I seriously almost tossed my cookies.  I had not been that nervous in over a decade I would guess.

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We lined up in the water and I realized it was on.  These girls were hardcore.  I had heard about fighting during the start of the swim, and people drowning and punching each other.  I didn’t drown anybody and managed to escape with no bruises, but I had a minor panic attack when I was trapped in a pack for about 50 meters.  Eventually, we evened out and I was out in the lead with two other girls.  I got really really warm about halfway in (400m), and when we caught up to the wave in front of us, there was a lot of water gulping going on because these were not the most fluid of swimmers.  I just kept my eyes on the girl right in front of me, and perhaps drafted off of her a tiny bit.  Kept me from having to do all the navigating.

Came out of the water tied for second.  I looked down at my Garmin and almost laughed when I saw how slow the swim was.  Yikes.  Maybe time to start training in the water some more. T1 went uneventfully, though I was shaking as I put on my shoes and helmet.  Still nervous!  Got through to the bike start and it took what felt like 4 minutes to get clipped in.  Oy, I should have just tatooed “Novice” on my helmet and back.

The bike went as well as I could expect.  I feel like I know my bike pretty well at this point.  I got passed by quite a few girls on what appeared to be $5,000 tri specific bikes with $2,000 race wheels (that’s what I am telling myself) but I passed a lot of men on hybrids if that’s any consolation.  I am a pretty decent climber but need work on going fast on flats and dropping down to get more aerodynamic.  I can say I was probably the only person with a road bike that did not have aero bars.  So I put an order in for those already.  I am sure I looked like a goon sitting up in spin class as I came down those hills on my aerobar-less bike.  Oh well, it was a learning experience.

I felt good finishing up the 17.5 mile bike, which is perhaps a sign I didn’t push myself hard enough. Or so I thought.  I had a pretty quick T2, slipping into my  laceless Zoots.  Housed a few Stinger energy chews and chugged some water on my way out to the run start.  Feeling pretty good… until about 1/2 mile in.  That’s right people, I pretty much hit a wall at that point. I didn’t have my Garmin on gps mode because I was using it on stopwatch mode during the swim.  I had no clue how fast or slow I was going, and there wasn’t a mile marker until mile 2.  Oh, and at what I presume was the 1/2 mile mark, we went from a paved surface to a trail.  Not like a single-track, break your ankle trail.  But gravel, sticks, and mud puddles.  What?  I really need to spend less time watching Bravo tv and more time reading course descriptions.   I wanted to cry.  I was so tired and hot.

The only thing keeping me going was “only 18 more minutes- assuming I am running an 8:30 mile pace, only 15 more minutes, only 10 more…” Plus, I wasn’t getting passed by very many people.  There was a girl right in front of me who was also in my age group and I remember her passing me on the bike.  She had an Ironman tattoo on her right calf.  I was thinking “wow, she is really struggling and she has done an Ironman.  I don’t feel so bad about myself anymore” and “there is no way I am ever doing any Ironman.  Those people are crazy!” Sorry Sherman and random girl, who I ended up passing.  Woo! At the 2 mile marker I got my 13th wind.  I looked at my watch and realized I was somehow well under an 8:00 mile pace.  I felt like I was speed walking at that point.  Suddenly I was at the 3 mile marker, and then I was done, having finished the run portion in 23:30.  Not too bad after a 750 swim and 17.5 mile bike.

As soon as I finished all I could think was “I am NEVER doing a triathlon again.  Ever.”  And then I thought “Oh hey, they have free Mountain Dew and Papa Johns?! I am definitely doing another triathlon.” Usually you get little pieces of bagel and half a banana after a marathon.  Maybe some beer if it is a St. Patrick’s Day race. But these triathletes do not play around with the pizza and soda. I limited myself to one slice and waited for my buddy to finish.

I finished 6th in my age group and realized that with just a little extra effort in the pool, better form on the bike, and some more strength work, I could actually get on the podium next time.  Hey maybe I could even win if someone wanted to pay for private coaching lessons and a Felt tri bike for me.  And pay my mortgage and daycare so I can quit my job and train full time. Ok, I guess that isn’t going to happen, so I will just buy a book about triathlon training, get the local tri shop to tweak the geometry on my bike, and have them slap on my new aero bars.

My goal this week is to get in the pool twice and do at least one strength training session. We are already on Tuesday and I have done neither, so I guess there may be some doubles in my future. Ouch!

Do you have any favorite exercises to increase leg power?  Any suggestions for positioning on the swim, other than taking up Kung Fu? Anyone else race this weekend?  How did it go? Any triathlons I need to put on my bucket list?

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