Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Toughest 10K Kemah – Race Report

This race is part of a 3-race series called "The Bridge Series". The 10k is called "The Toughest", because you are required to run over the Kemah bridge not once, not twice, but FOUR times. Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking either!

This is the Kemah bridge!  Ack!!!  (source)
One of the Hub's co-workers, who is also a friend and neighbor, was also registered for the race and offered to drive us all. The race is about an hour away from our house, so we decided to leave around 5:30 am. There had been lots of e-mails from the race director about arriving early to find a parking space, so we wanted to give ourselves ample time. Turns out that we had no issues parking and had plenty of time to hang out before the race. As always, I had to visit the porta-potties – luckily, the porta potties were plentiful and the lines moved quickly. By the time I was done, my friend (who we will call M) had arrived.

Me and the Hubs waiting for the race to start

A little background info…
M is the crazy woman who got me started in this running nonsense to begin with. When we met back in 2000, she was training for the Houston Marathon (her 1st). I was the annoying non-runner who asked all those dumb questions - "How far is the Houston Marathon?" and "How far is the marathon in Boston?". To be honest, I had no idea Houston even had a marathon. And, I thought M was crazy for wanting to run that far…God knows, I had absolutely no desire to run a marathon. My, how things change!

So anyway, we chatted for a bit and made our way to the starting line. The Hubs and his friend made their way closer to the front. M and I knew our place in the pecking order – toward the back! M has taken a hiatus from running for the past 8 years while starting a family. This is her intro back into the world of running. With my recovery from the great hip injury of 2012, I knew I had no business trying to PR on a course with FOUR passes over a bridge, so I knew we were going to just have fun with this event.

The view of the marina...the picture doesn't do it justice!
And we did! We set our watches for 5/1 intervals and began the race. Okay, so there was a bit of extra walking on a couple of the up portions. Again – the goal was to have fun. Keep in mind that I hadn't had a chance to hang out with M in MONTHS, so the race was a great opportunity for us to catch up. We talked about our kids, our possible upcoming moves, nutrition, etc. The views of the Kemah Boardwalk and Marina were awesome, so that helped as well. This was definitely not my best 10K time by any means, but we accomplished our mission – we conquered that stupid bridge and we had fun doing it!

Me with M after the race with our bling!!!

And, one of the perks of doing this race is the bling….

This race knows how to give good bling!

There was a great post-race party complete with breakfast tacos, ice cream and muscle milk. (Sorry guys, no!) I grabbed a strawberry popsicle and we headed home. We are all looking forward to the next race in the series – the Toughest 10K Galveston next month, where we have to conquer this bad boy….

Sorry for the bad, borrowed pic...but, you get the idea.  It's not as steep, but it's loooooooong!!!

Tis the season!  What races do you have coming up? 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Week's Workouts

I thought that since I am running again and actually training for something, I should get back to posting my workouts.  Here we go....

Sunday, 9/9 - Bike Ride, 1 hour
Since I am not riding the Tour de Cure, I have cut my bike rides waaaaayyyyy down.  From 2 1/2 - 3 hours, to 1 - 1 1/2 hours. I don't have any triathlons coming up either, but I love riding and it's a great form of cross training!

Monday, 9/10 - Run, 3 miles and TRX
First day at the new job and I thought this would be a great way to get rid of the 1st day jitters.  I headed out at my usual stupid-thirty and wooohooo, an awesome cool front had come through and it was an awesome 62 degrees!  Can we say awesome????

Tuesday, 9/11 - Brazilian Butt Lift
I did the "Bum Bum" workout...lots of lunges, squats, etc.  I definitely felt it!

Wednesday, 9/12 - Run, 3.5 miles
This was supposed to be 4 miles, but I pushed the snooze button one too many times.  3.5 miles - just me, the moon, stars and a few of my other crazy early morning running neighbors.

Thursday, 9/13 - TRX
A seriously butt-kicking arms felt like jello when I was driving home!

Friday, 9/14 - Rest
'Nuff said!

Saturday, 9/15 - Toughest 10K Kemah
Race report coming soon!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thank You Mother Nature!

I had to run an easy 3-miler on Monday and was pleasantly surprised by this...

Loving this!
And there was almost no humidity.  Soooo much better than the 80 degrees with a "feels like"temp of 90 at 4:30 am!  I wish I could say the temps helped my didn't.  But, I think it helped with my endurance, because I wanted to keep going!  Of course, I realize this is just a tease...we will be back to our normal temps before long.  :-(  But, you better believe that I will be enjoying this while I can!

How is the weather where you're at?  Are you already getting Fall temps, or is it still steamy?

Never Forget

Saturday, September 08, 2012

What I've been up to...

I finally started TRX!  This week should have been my 4th week of TRX, but I'll save the story about why it wasn't my 4th week for the next subject. 
I was a bit nervous about trying TRX.  I mean, I've tried a lot of new workouts over the years...but most of them have been performed in the privacy of my own home.  This is actually a class. Led by Camp Maverick. And it's not in my living room.  See those little yellow people in the picture below?  We actually do that stuff, y'all.  And, it's harder than it looks! 

TRX was created by a Navy Seal, so you know it's tough.  It uses straps suspended from the ceiling, so that you can use your body weight to do exercises that develop strength and core stability.  The picture below was taken on my very first day...I am the one looking at the instructor, Allison, with a confused expression on my face.  Allison is awesome and is always thinking of new ways to torture challenge us.  It's not unusual to leave class drenched in sweat with arms and legs that feel like jello.  And yes, I do feel the burn the next day!
borrowed from the Camp Maverick FB page
Pain in the neck - part II
Some of you might remember my neck/upper back issue from last year.  Well, it came back.  Seriously, is this what turning 40 has done to me?  If this is what getting older is all about, it sucks!  There was no TRX class on Monday due to the Labor Day holiday, so I was surprised when I woke up on Tuesday of last week with a pain in my neck.  Nothing horrible, just one of those things my Grandma would call a "crick" that just meant you must have slept wrong.  Well, it was still there on Wednesday and against my better judgement, I went to my TRX class anyway.
Things were going great the first 30 minutes or so - I was having a pretty great workout (thank you Allison), but then all of a sudden my lower neck/upper back cramped up!  I couldn't turn my head!  We tried a few different things to loosen it up, but nothing seemed to help.  Luckily, my chiropractor's office is in the same building and he was still there.  As much as I hated to disturb him after office hours, I went ahead and asked him to take a look.  He did some adjusting, showed me some exercises and even taped me up.  It helped a ton, but I was still in a lot of pain.  I had a hard time getting to sleep that night, because I just could not find a position that didn't hurt.  Fortunately, things are better now - still a bit wonky, but better.  I did ride my bike for a little over a hour on aero.  Dumb idea...the neck bothered me for a few days afterwards and I skipped TRX on Wednesday.
Booty workouts
Yes, I am referring to the Brazilian Butt Lift.  I am still getting this workout in 2-3 times per week before work.  It's fun and I can always use some help in the "bum bum" area.
Yes, this man always looks this excited about working the "bum bum"
I have decided not to do the Tour de Cure for reasons I will discuss in a moment.  However, I am still riding my bike.  Hey, I love the bike and it's great cross training!  I am hoping to keep a weekly bike ride on my schedule until it's too cold to ride.  Then, I'll swap it for spin class.
Getting educated
The reason I am not riding the Tour de Cure is because I am attending the ACSM workshop that same weekend instead.  Typically, you attend this workshop with the intent of becoming a personal trainer.  Honestly, I'm not sure if I'll go that route, but I really want to learn more about the anatomy of strength training and how to use strengthening to be a better runner. 
You all know my job can sometimes get crazy, and there are long periods of time that I have had to work late into the night.  While I enjoy the Company, the people and the work, an opportunity arose that is closer to home that might also allow for a better work-life balance.  I start the new job next week.  While it's always scary to venture into the unknown, I am looking forward to the new challenges!
Yes, I will miss the views, but I will not miss the commute!
You all know much I love spending time with the Hubby and kids, so naturally I have to talk about them...and post way too many pictures! :-)

After our family vacation, it was time to come back to reality - i.e. school!  The 1st day of school went well and the Kiddo loves her classmates and teacher. 

The 3rd annual day before school mani/pedi

1st day of school...gotta love the sequin beret!

The Dog
I have a confession - having a puppy is hard.  And, I am really not adjusting well.  I mean, would you adjust well to a creature that ate your couch and your stockings (there is evidence of this in the backyard), made mud pits in what was once a pretty nice backyard, made mud pits on your back patio, tracked mud all over your house, stole food off your counters, made you fall on the floor at Petsmart (more on this later) and countless other bad deeds?

I didn't think so.

So, we started the beginner puppy training at Petsmart last weekend in an effort to have a more well behaved dog.  I decided to bring the Kiddo with me.  So, in we walk through the automatic doors.  All of a sudden, the dog goes crazy.  He's never been to Petsmart and apparently it's sensory overload for a dog.  The next thing I know, the Kiddo is sprawled on the floor in front of me.  Then, the dog pulls me in another direction and I suddenly realize that the leash is wrapped around my legs.  Then, the dog pulls me forward and I have nowhere to go except on the floor.  On top of the Kiddo. Yeah, stop laughing.

I tried to play it cool and just laugh it off.  I said something like, "Haha, silly dog!  Now you see why we're here for training, hehe!" as I picked myself and the Kiddo off the floor.  What I was saying in my head was more like, "D*M mother effing dog!!!  You are going to the shelter on Monday!!!"

 Don't let the innocent face fool you...I took this picture right after I caught him stealing cookies off the cooling rack! 
 Bad dog!
Labor Day Weekend
We try to make the most out of our weekends.  Yes, there is laundry to do and a house to clean, but we try to get outside when it's not 170 degrees with 160% humidity.  Labor day weekend was no exception.  The hubby had a long bike ride, so the kids and I went to the park early enough to miss the hottest part of the day.
Taking a break from not feeding the ducks (really, we didn't feed them, we swear!)

We also spent a couple of hours at the neighborhood pool.  And, I took the Kiddo to the Titanic exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  Yes, we do leave the 'burbs for some culture every so often.  The Kiddo read two books about the Titanic, so she was really excited about going to the exhibit.  I am a little concerned that all this education about the Titanic will come back to bite me in the butt in March, when we go on our family cruise...I may have trouble convincing her that there are no icebergs in the Caribbean in March!

The Kiddo in front of the HMNS

And, before the weekend was over, we took a walk to the neighborhood lake and playground.  The kids whined played and we got eaten alive by mosquitoes revelled in what was left of summer.  Ahhhh, summer time.  What the hell and I saying?  Bring on October and the cool fronts, this family has had enough of the 100+ degree temps!!! 
Thank God summer is over...hurry up fall!!!!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Speedwork - Yay or Nay?

I mentioned before that I am a coach this year with Woodlands Fit.  I have quite a few new runners in my group, which I love!  They are excited, enthusiatic and eager to learn everything they can about running. 

This week, we're finally introducing speed training to our schedule and I have been reading all about the advantages and disadvantages of speed training.  On one hand, speed work can help improve overall speed and endurance by combining short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phases, repeated multiple times during one exercise session.  This can result in an increase in cardiovascular efficiency (i.e. the ability to deliver oxygen to those working muscles), as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid.  On the other hand, it has been shown that faster paced training runs can also increase your risk of injury. 

What are your thoughts on this?  Are the gains from consistent speed training greater than the risk of injury?

After reading all kinds of articles on the web, I have made the following suggestions to the runners in my group:
  • With speed training, it's necessary have a solid running base - based on what I've read, this "base" is at least 2-3 months of running 3 times per week
  • Running on a track or other soft surfaces (like grass) may be more forgiving and help prevent injuries.  
  • Be sure to warm up before speed training with a slower, more casual pace run and then cool down with the same afterwards. 
  • Finally, if experiencing any persistent aches or pains, it may be wise to skip speed training altogether.  Let's face it, the runners will still finish their race without it...I'd rather that they make it to the starting line and not be sidelined by an injury.
As I also mentioned, due to my hip injury, I have been very conservative with my running lately.  For many years, I just speedwork, no hills..just running to run.  Then, I decided I wanted to get faster and stronger.  For the past few years, I've pretty much used the "to run fast, you have to run fast" school of thought.  I have done intervals as part of my training, but for the most part, I've just pushed harder and run faster.  (This may or may not be due to me pushing the snooze button too many times, resulting in me needing to run faster to get my miles in before work.....just sayin'.)  But, I was also sidelined from January until May with a hip injury...perhaps from not being so smart about my "run faster" philosophy?  Who knows. 

All that I know is that I want the runners in my group to enjoy running as much as I do and make it to their "A race" properly prepared and injury free!

What is your speed training philosophy?  Do you do it when training for races?  Do you just run faster?  Do you think it's unecessary?  Do you not really care and just run?