Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Walk, don't run.

What a busy month it's been!

Since June 11th, I've spent a weekend in the Poconos for Warrior Dash and spent my evenings at the pool for swim team practice. My girls wrapped up the school year and dumped 10 pounds of paper and folders into the house. We then celebrated my youngest daughter's 6th birthday, had our first swim meet of the season, traipsed across an 8-acre partially wooded lot with shoulder high grass that we considered buying, and snagged first place in the local sprint triathlon.

So, with a sick daughter home today, I pushed up my sleeves and began digging out and catching up. Shoulders are aching from a good part of the day spent at my desk working, writing, researching, phoning and bill-paying.

My 35-minute morning interval run was postponed until evening, and then cancelled altogether in favor of a leisurely walk around the shady streets of my neighborhood with 150 pounds of Lab in tow (or rather, being towed by 150 pounds of Lab).

It could be my imagination or a subtle warning from my body that my muscles are tight, my head slightly aches and my throat is a bit raw, but I just didn't have a run in me today. The walk was just what I needed; just enough. So I will try to swallow my guilt and focus on enjoying the fact the "official" Iron Man training does not begin for two more weeks and that vacation will be here even sooner than that.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Time to get muddy!

Cold still dragging me down and did a number on myself in the heat yesterday--cannot seem to get rehydrated!

One hour of yoga today, followed by and end of session tea. Made Berry Oatmeal Muffins (see recipe below).

Now, it's off to pack: Green face paint, striped tights, old shoes, furry hat with horns. Yep . . . I'm off to Warrior Dash!

Berry Oatmeal Muffins

Prep Time: 15 Min

Cook Time: 20 Min

Original Recipe Yield 12 muffins


  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1-2 tablespoon flaxseed (optional)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup olive, grapeseed, safflower or canola oil, or applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup berries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups (or mini-muffin pans)

2. In a large bowl, mix the 3/4 cup oats, wheat germ, flour, sugar, walnuts, salt, flaxseed and baking powder. Stir in the milk, oil or applesauce, and egg just until dry ingredients are evenly moist. Fold in the blueberries and chocolate chips. Scoop batter into the prepared muffin cups.

3. Mix 1/3 cup oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle over the batter. (Skip this step for mini-muffins)

4. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. (Bake mini-muffins for 12-13 minutes)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Stroke

On my way to the Y this morning and the song "The Stroke" (1981) by Billy Squire came on the radio. Then I couldn't get the silly song out of my head while I was working on my swim stroke. Later, while riding my bike and running, I thought I might have heat stroke.

Today's swim class seemed harder than yesterday; maybe due to back-to-back swims and maybe due to my lingering cold, but most likely due to the oven-like temps in my room last night that cooked me alive until after 2 AM. The AC went on first thing this morning. (Swim workout #17 below.)

After swim fit, the bulk of the day was spent as a "domestic goddess"--cooking, cleaning, baking (yummy Berry Oat Muffins; I'll try to post the recipe tomorrow), picking up fresh produce from the CSA and driving the girls to their swim practice. Dinner was at 4:00 to accommodate the kids' 5:00 practice and my 6:30 bike ride. I sauteed several different vegetables from my CSA bounty and served it over whole wheat angel hair.

A quick hit of Hammer and we were off. At 6:45 PM, outside temps were still in the upper 90s. I made it almost all the way through the ride before a hot spot flared up; I'm very frustrated by this recent development ;/

The 20-mile ride was followed by a 2.5-mile run, which was a heinous thing to do in nearly triple digit temps. Post-ride, I had no appetite and it took quite a while stop feeling nauseous and getting "hot flashes." 80z of Recoverite and a handful of Brazil nuts and dried apricots and that was it for me tonight. Looking forward to a much better night's rest in the AC! I'm not a very high-maintenance girl but if there are two things I'm particular about it's my food and my sleep--I must have decent quality and quantity of both, or look out!

Swim Workout #17 (2000 meters)

Warm Up (500)
500 Free, easy

Set 1 (500)
100 IM x 5 @ 1:45-1:50. Start each 100 with the next IM stroke (ie, 2nd 100 starts w/back)

Set 2 (500)
500 Pull; first 100 is backstroke

Set 3 (300)
500 Kick, IM order, 3 lengths of each stroke

Cool Down (200)
100 IM, easy
100 Free, easy

20-mile bike (18.3 miles tracked)
Calories: 1111
Avg heart rate: 158 bpm
Max heart rate: 184 bpm
Max speed: 42.3 (yee-haw!)

2.5-mile Pace/interval run
Calories: 288
Best pace: 6:57

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Swim it out

Woke up this morning with the virus still in the lead. For a few brief moments I waged the internal battle: "Stay home and rest? Go to swim practice?"

But, cold or no cold, my next triathlon is less than two weeks away, so I dragged myself to the Y, wondering how I'd possibly be able to breathe while swimming laps.

The first 500 meters wasn't easy. I was gasping, adding extra breathing strokes and utilizing the deck drains (gross, I know, but that's what they're there for, right?)

Then, our instructor, obliging my request from the previous week to add more speed workouts, gave us another 500, made up entirely of 25-meter sprints. My initial thought was that it would be challenging on a good day, but possibly impossible while sporting a hot air balloon for a head.

To my surprise, not only did I make it through the entire sprint set, but I felt much better afterward--I could breathe again and my headache was gone. It was like some kind of holistic hydro-therapy session. I worried the effect might be temporary and I would later pay the price for taxing my system that way. Turns out, with the exception of a mild headache that made a brief late-afternoon appearance, I have continued to feel better throughout the day.

So, when in doubt, swim it out!

Today's workout: 2000 meter swim (Swim workout #16)

Warm Up (500)
500 choice, easy

Set 1 (500)
Sprint every 25; 5 sec rest at the wall

Set 2 (500)
Kick, choice

Set 3 (300)
300 Pull

Cool Down (200)
100 IM, easy
100 Free, easy

Monday, June 6, 2011

A great run is just around the corner


As a friend recently told me, "a great run is just around the corner." She was right.

Though I wouldn't exactly call it "great," it was definitely an improvement over the last several dismal runs and rides I've had. On the bike, I've been battling painful hot spots and on the run I've been battling painful genetics; I'm simply a slow, heavy runner. It's the way I roll (like a square).

However, the poor performance (at least on the runs) could have been my body giving me a head's up on what was to come; today I woke up with a mild headache and congestion and a majorly raw throat. I can always tell when my kids are about to get sick because they become inexplicably grumpy. Maybe my body was grumpy because I was trying to put it through the paces while it was trying to fight off a virus? In any case, the scales are currently tipped slightly in favor of the virus.

Despite whatever internal battle is raging, I finally had a good bike on Sunday, followed by a decent short brick and an acceptable run today.

Sunday, as we set out for our 38-miler, I was worried and skeptical. I pedaled with high reps and low power, chose a non-hilly course and stayed in the saddle most of the ride. By the mid-point, I was cautiously optimistic and by the time I got home, I was elated that I made it through the whole ride without pain. We also traveled some as yet unexplored roads that were breathtaking in their simple splendor; pleasant, country roads that abruptly devolved into unpaved gravel passageways frequented by goats and chickens, surrounded by streams and centuries-old barns, canopied by enormous trees and featuring unexpected and exhilarating hairpin turns and steep climbs into the next unknown and exciting vista; a feast for the senses! Spirits completely buoyed, I ran a peppy 1-mile brick afterward.

Today, despite my head feeling like a hot air balloon and my throat scorched enough to shoot flames, I pushed through a 4-mile interval run, my pace much better than on recent outings, and I wasn't much worse for the wear afterward.

That is, until 4:00 hit and made the 4-mile run seem like a leisurely stroll. With my husband away on business travel, I was left to get all three girls fed and finished with homework in time for swim team at 5:00; pulled one of them early to get her to gymnastics; went back to the pool to retrieve the other two and drive them to the next town over for a lacrosse team party; returned to town to retrieve the first one from gymnastics and rush her home to bed before I began teaching my yoga class at 7:30. (The other two arrived home via carpool mid-way through my class and put themselves to bed. Thank heavens for well-behaved, independent children!)

But now I need to get this battle-weary bod to bed. The run may have been ill-advised (I tried to make up for my transgression by drinking lots of water and herbal tea and popping vitamin C) but I'll try not to make matters worse by staying up until the wee hours, as usual.

Sunday's workout: 38-mile bike (35 miles tracked):
Calories: 1971
Max speed: 37.5

1-mile brick run:
Calories: 126
Best pace: 6:33*
*Please note that this pace denotes the single best second of the entire run, probably going downhill in the shade. I add it for kicks ;)

Pre-ride: power oatmeal
During: 55 oz water, 1 Hammer Gel
Post-workout: Hammer Recoverite, Greek yogurt with homemade granola and berries

Monday's workout: 4-mile interval run + one hour of yoga
Pre-run fuel: Herbal tea, whole wheat English Muffin with almond butter & honey
Pre-run warm up: 1/2 mile walk
4.13-mile run:
489 calories
Best pace: 5:49
Post-run cool down: 1-mile walk + stretching
Post-run fuel: Water, Greek yogurt with homemade granola and berries

Thursday, June 2, 2011


The vortex is at it again, sucking me in for indefinite periods of time and spitting me back out on a whim.

As always, I've composed many blog posts in my head over the past several days, none of them quite making it from brain to keyboard. The topics have ranged from the kids triathlon, to a dead car, a 10-year old's birthday bash, bike ride hot spots and heat advisories, and being European. The vast range of possible headings left me with the simply uninspired title: "What to call it?" which I jazzed up by going with "Potpourri" instead.

But since you are on this journey with me, I will try to bring you up to speed.

The Frederick Kids Triathlon was on Saturday. Though two of my three daughters participated in this race last year, all three started with clean slates and no basis for comparison; this made null and void our race words of wisdom: "You are only ever racing against yourself."

Our oldest moved up to the 10-13 age division, so all of her distances increased. Our 8-year-old raced the same distances as last year but, in 2010, she only completed half of the swim (the deep end freaked her out!); this year, no problem. The five-year-old, put out by having to sit out last year, was simply happy to participate despite having just ditched her training wheels four weeks prior. (The race being a prime motivating factor.) Still riding like a weeble-wobble, my husband ran alongside her for the two-mile bike course, which she completed with a satisfied grin on her face, but, like her sister the year before, the 100-meter swim proved to be overwhelming and she moved on after only 50-meters (gotta love that about kids triathlons!) So, with no previous race times to "compare" to, they were setting the bar anew and loving every minute, despite the stressful start to our day . . .

We were put to the test bright and early on race morning. 5:40 AM, kids are packed up and ready to go, bikes loaded onto the back of the car and zzzrrrrrrr, taptaptaptaptap. The car won't start. Battery? Engine? Starter? No time to trouble shoot, we had a race to get to. So, we switch everyone to the other car and, wouldn't you know, the bike rack doesn't fit that car! 30 minutes, a couple of ropes and several bungee cords later, we are on our way, racing to the race. Upon our whiplash arrival in Frederick, the girls had just enough time to for a potty stop, body marking, and bike racking before the race began. After such a hectic start, the rest of the day was a walk in the park (literally, too). Some neighbors and a teacher surprised us by showing up to cheer the girls on and the girls were delighted! So, yes, we are already making plans for another kids triathlon in July. After the race, we celebrated on swings and see-saws at the park, ate lunch at Panera (one of the girls' favorite restaurants--they totally dig the bread bowls) and having the dead car towed to a repair shop. Sweet.

On Sunday, a heat wave rolled in and, in the space of one week, we went from Seattle-like weather to a Miami climate. Feeling hot! hot! hot! With little time to acclimate to the heat and humidity, the hilly, 30-mile ride was brutal. To make matters worse, my "hot spots" flared up again in my right foot, causing every stroke of the pedal to send pain shooting through my foot and ankle. Totally miserable ride and I don't even have stats for it beyond the one-hour mark since I stopped my watch to refill my water bottles and never re-started it. One thing I can say with certainty is, by mile 17, I was experiencing one of my slowest rides of all time! I followed the ride with a 1-mile brick, and the arrival of family and four 10-year-olds to celebrate my oldest daughter's birthday. The highlight of the day was seeing her have so much fun with her friends, watching Clash of the Titans (her favorite movie) and eating white chocolate popcorn--all good things for the soul, if not for the sole.

By Monday, we'd had no word on the dead car and I began to ponder how I would accomplish Tuesday's tasks sans vehicle--one trip to the Y and two appointments around town. I checked the Y off my list by heading to the outdoor community pool on Monday night and logging 2000-meters. The hideous heat (and eventual waving of the white flag in the form of turning on the AC) had the positive affect of making the pool water a rather comfortable temperature for an outdoor swim in May. As for the appointments, I decided I'd run to one and bike to the other, heat be damned! My husband said this was very European of me. Ooh la la! I did run 5 miles round trip to one appointment and then a sympathetic friend offered her car for the second one just as I was pumping up my bike tires. With a heat index of 105, I was more than happy to accept.

Despite the heat advisory that was in effect from noon to 8 PM on Tuesday, I can say without a doubt that it was much cooler at 6:30 PM as we headed out for our bike ride then it had been at 8:30 AM when we headed out to the bus stop. My husband suggested repositioning my cleats to combat the hot spots that plagued me on our last two rides and I had high hopes when I hit the halfway point pain-free. Alas, the telltale "liquid heat" and tingly feeling returned before the ride was over, leaving me at a loss on what to do next . . .

Car fully-repaired and returned by Wednesday, I was able to go Yankee again and head to the Y the good 'ol American way--via car--for an 1800-meter swim.

The heat wave finally broke today and I gleefully flung open the windows to let in the fresh air. Cooler temps have arrived just in time to for the short interval run/speed workout I have planned for tomorrow. So, for now, bonsoir, mes amis and stay cool!

Friday's workout:
38-mile bike
2050 cal burned
Max speed: 39.3
Note: Return of hot spots in right foot

Sunday's workout:
30-mile bike
No stats beyond mile 18.
Cal burn by mile 18: 1110
Max speed by mile 18: 41.5
Water consumption: 66oz
Note: Painful hot spots for duration; wicked heat

1-mile brick run
125 cal
Best pace: 7:33

Monday's workout:
2000-meter swim

Warm Up (300)
100 Free, easy
200 IM down, Free back

Set 1 (600)
600 Free

Set 2 (600)
6 x 100; sprint last 25 m

Set 3 (200)
200 Free

Cool down (300)
200 IM down, Free back
100 Free, easy

Tuesday's workout:
5-mile run: 2.5-miles + 2.5-miles
586 calories
Best pace: 7:09
Heat index: 105
Water consumption: 17 oz

28-mile ride
1650 calories
Max speed: 37.8
Temps: 90+ degrees
Water consumption: 55 oz
Note: Hot spots returned half way, less intense, yet less demanding terrain . . .

Wednesday's workout:
1800-meter swim

Warm Up (500)
500 Easy, Choice

Set 1 (400)
200 IM; kick down, swim back

Set 2 (400)
4 x 100 @ 1:30-1:45

Set 3 (300)
50 Drill; right arm down, left arm back
100 Free

Cool Down(200)
200 Easy, choice

Thursday's workout:
60 mins yoga with weights + 20 mins extra strength training