Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sweet Briar Reunion Weekend

I headed back to SBC on Saturday for what may or may not be the last reunion ever.  I didn't register for the official reunion because it was ridiculously expensive, and there was no way I could justify the cost after my travel expenses for the wedding I went to last weekend.  However, Saving Sweet Briar hosted a bunch of off-campus events and I decided two of them were within my budget, so those are the ones I registered for.  It was widely stated that anyone who wasn't registered for the official reunion would not be allowed to set foot on campus.  Thankfully, that rule was not widely enforced, and my friend and I had no trouble getting on campus so that we could go to the Bookshop : her to order a new class ring, and me to get mine re-sized.  After we were done with that, we walked around campus a bit before heading to Rebec Vineyards for a wine-tasting/picnic.

I even wore a pink shirt for the occasion!

the Bell Tower

group photo at the vineyard

The problem with the various different on and off campus events is that everyone was spread out and it was hard to see everyone I knew.  I managed to connect with a few people, but I missed a lot of people that were in town, but not at the event I was at.  

I ended up deciding to just head home after the picnic.  I have done a lot of traveling this spring and am really burned out from it.  I really didn't feel like staying for the evening event, and paying for a hotel room, and not getting home til mid-day Sunday.  The evening event was sold out, so it wasn't hard to find someone who was willing to buy my ticket from me.  So, I headed home.  And then, about 10 miles into the 90 mile drive, my engine light came on.  My old car had constant engine-light problems, but I have had this car for a blissful engine-light-free 2 years.  There were no funny smells or sounds, and I really wanted to get home, so I kept driving.  Thankfully I made it home with no mishap.  I will be taking my car in to find out what's wrong as soon as possible.  Hopefully nothing major!  Only 3.5 weeks until my biggest road trip of the spring/ Rhode Island!

First 100 mile week of 2015, and asthma woes

Only one rest day this week, but I didn't overdo it on any of my 6 days of exercise, so I'm still feeling pretty good.  I almost took today off, but I knew if I didn't get off the couch and ride, I wouldn't get off the couch all day.  So I made myself go out and do a sprint ride.  I just installed a cadence sensor on my bike a few days ago.  It turns out I am most comfortable riding between 75 and 85 rpms.  I've heard that 85-105 is optimal.  When I was riding the other day, trying to achieve 90 rpms felt wrong and too sprint-like for an average ride.  Since I was doing a shorter ride today, I decided to make it my goal to stay at 90+.  It was HARD!  My ride was an out&back, and I was already pretty fatigued by the halfway point.  My legs were burning pretty bad from the constant sprinting effort.  I kept up my effort for almost the entire ride though.  (I did allow myself a few more downhill-coasts during the second half, mainly because my legs were too beat to keep pedaling...)  In the end, I'm sure that everyone has their own optimal cadence, and I need to find mine.  It's probably a bit faster than what I have been doing, if I want a proper workout, but it may not be too high over 90 either.  Certainly it will be good for me to raise my rpms occasionally just to work the muscles differently.  And perhaps as time goes on it will become more comfortable for me to spin faster rather than slower.

This week :
M : bike 29.6 (15.6mph)
T : bike 20 (16.7 mph)
W : run 4.2
R : bike 17.1  (15.8 mph)
F :  AM run 4.4 / PM bike 20.9  (16.4) 
Su : bike 13.2  (18.1 mph)
total bike : 101.2
total run : 8.5

Running has been getting increasingly more difficult for me.  Allergies for myself and many other people I know have been getting worse every year, and I've been hearing that the pollen is pretty heavy right now.  Claritin is just barely keeping my runny nose in check, but I am getting itchy eyes/throat most afternoons.  When I run, it is so hard to breathe it hardly feels like I used my inhaler.  This has been making me more and more frustrated, so I made a doctor's appt to talk about options.  The doctor had me do a spirometry test, and plans to refer me to a pulmonologist after looking at the results.  (spell-check doesn't think pulmonologist is a word...wierd)  The spirometry test involves breathing out as hard and fast as possible into a little machine, and then continuing to attempt to push more air out of your lungs while a nurse says "keep going keep going keep going keep going" over and over long after you are sure there can't possibly be any more air to push out.  You do that about 3 times, then you get an albuterol treatment from a nebulizer.  I haven't used a nebulizer since that blissful day in 9th grade when I finally got to start using an inhaler instead, after years of using the nebulizer twice a day.  Ah, memories...  After the albuterol treatment, I had to breathe hard and fast into the machine about 3 more times.  And now I wait... I hope I can get this problem resolved soon and that it doesn't involve lots of expensive doctor visits/tests!

In other news, school ended on Friday!  All that's left now is teacher's afternoon out tomorrow, final staff meeting on Tuesday, and filling out/turning in progress reports.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I can never live anywhere flat

I was in Easton, Maryland this weekend for the wedding of one a good friend from Sweet Briar.  She was my first Sweet Tones "baby." (when new members are accepted into the accapella group, they are assigned a "mom.")  I'm really glad I was able to be there to celebrate her special day with her!  I also enjoyed being near the water for a day or two, and the fresh crab cake I had for lunch on Saturday was divine.  No seafood like that in WV!  However, my run Saturday morning left much to be desired.

I mapped out a route from the hotel to a 2.5 mile rail trail in Easton.  I was going to hit the trail roughly 1 mile from the southern end.  There was a strava segment for the trail in each direction.  I figured I would hit the trail, go to the near end, then run the segment to the other end, run back to where I originally joined the trail, and head back to the hotel.  I hit the trail just under 3 miles from the hotel.  I was already starting to feel the effects of the unendingly flat terrain, but was determined to make the most of it. By the time I reached the end of the trail, I was really dragging myself, but turned around and sped up, still telling myself I had to commit to the strava segment.  But my stupid asthmatic lungs were struggling, my legs were dragging, and I lost all will power.  I realized that if I did run all the way to the end of the trail, my run would end up close to 9 miles.  My foot was starting to complain on top of everything else, and it just didn't seem like a bright idea.  So I abandoned my plan and just backtracked straight back to the hotel.  It ended up being a 7.4 mile run, with only 33 ft of elevation gain.  The 7.4 mile run I did in Lewisburg earlier in the week had a much more reasonable 551 ft of elevation gain.

I wish I could enjoy flat runs.  They could be so useful for long fast runs.  But I just can't seem to mentally or physically survive them.  As I slogged through those 7+ flat miles in Easton, I couldn't help thinking about the 7 flat miles in the Charleston Distance run, and how much I didn't want to endure that again.

In other news, I saw the T-Rex Runner at the Tidewater Inn where the wedding was held on Saturday!  I recognized her almost immediately, but was too shy to say hi, just in case I was wrong...  Turns out it really was her and I totally should have manned up and said hello.  Oh well.

This week:
T: 7.4 run
W : 16.4 bike
R :  20.5 bike
Sa : 7.4 run
total run : 14.8
total bike : 36.9

In other news, to compensate for last week's low mileage, I biked 29 miles yesterday and another 20 today.  It's only the second day of the week and I've already surpassed last week's mileage.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Photos this week

 Thursday evening I went to the GES Variety Show to take photos of all our amazing student performers. There was dancing, singing, piano, comedy, basketball, and magic.  It was an entertaining evening for sure, and I took over 400 photos!

One of my 8th graders wrote this on my board.  
"Kinda. JK, yes"

My dinner-date Friday evening.  
We had our favorite food : "sgetti"

After dinner we went to the barn, where I discovered that my riding field has turned into a corn field. 
Which means there is now nowhere for me to ride. 
I have been saying that Pony is "semi-retired."  Now, she is either actually-retired, or I will need to move her to another barn.  Haven't decided yet...

 So much cuteness.

2 weeks, a month, how about 10 days?

Taking time off from running can be so hard, especially when the weather is so nice!  Thursday was absolutely gorgeous and warm.  I didn't have time for a decent bike ride between school and the school variety show, but there was plenty of time for a good run.  It had been at least 6 days since I had felt any discomfort in my foot, so I decided it would be ok to go for a run.  I had taken a full 10 days off from running.  Not quite the 2 week minimum I had tried to hold myself to...but oh well.  It felt so good to run!  There was some discomfort in my foot during the run, but I'm not to worried about it.  I'm not about to go full time back into running yet, but I do think I will try to run every few days and see how it goes.

Runs/Rides This Week
M : 21.6 bike
T :  18 bike
R : 6 run
F : 23.7 bike w/Byron
Sa : 36 bike
total miles run : 6
total miles bike : 99.5

I'm feeling pretty good about the biking right now.  It is a little bit frustrating as I try to get back to the shape I was in at the end of the summer, but I'm hopeful I can get it back soon.  My back was my biggest problem with biking last summer, and so far it is holding up pretty well.  During Saturday's ride, my tired legs were a bigger problem than any back pain I was having.  I'm not used to my legs getting so fatigued during a ride, last year my back was always in awful pain long before my legs had any trouble.  

beautiful view from Saturday's ride

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Back to Biking : A successful first week

Unlike last year when I hurt a foot and tried to keep running anyway and pretend it would heal itself, this year I am being more careful.  I wore nothing but Danskos all week, and didn't run at all.  I didn't love the idea of wearing clogs everyday when the temperature was in the 80s every afternoon, but they were the only shoes that I felt zero pain in, and I want to allow my foot to get better as quickly as possible, so I stuck with it.  By Friday evening I wasn't feeling any pain at all, so I switched to Chaco sandals, which are definitely more weather-appropriate.

I rode 5 times this week.  Some of the rides were a little short, but I am pretty happy with how the week went, especially considering it has been a long time since I was biking consistently.  I'm a bit slower than I was before, but after a good first week, I suspect it won't take too long for me to get back where I was,  Friday's ride was cut short because my front shifter decided to stop working about 9.5 into a planned 20 mile ride.  When it stopped working, I was at a place where there was no way home without climbing a hill.  That thought was a bit daunting without the use of half my gears, but I picked the hill that was the most direct way home (0.3 miles long, 143 ft gain), and hoped I would make it to the top without having to get off and walk.  It turned out not to be nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  I did have to stand the second half of the hill, but I still got to the top without too much trouble.  And only 9 seconds slower than my fastest time on that climb.  Makes me wonder why I'm always using the easiest gear on every hill if I clearly don't need it...  Happily the bike shop was still open when I rode back into town so I went straight there and got my shifter fixed.  It's not a great shifter, I've had trouble with it in the past.  It's fixed again for now, but I'm probably going to have to replace my shifters for better ones soon.

Today's ride felt really good. I could have kept going longer, but decided not to push it since it was my fifth ride this week and because I plan to bike again tomorrow.

Rides this week:
M : 15.2
T : 18.2
R: 22 (HH shop ride with Stu & Peter)
F : 13.8
Su : 23.7
total miles : 93.2

Decided it was time to start wearing bright-colored cycling jerseys...
Since apparently I can no longer pretend to not be a cyclist.

I am happy to say that after a week of no running and wearing good shoes, I have zero foot pain, even when walking barefoot.  I will be taking at least another week off from running just in case.  And I still may take a whole month off, just to be sure.  I'm going to take it one week at a time.  But for now, I'm feeling good about my chances of not having to miss summer races!

Some views from my rides this week.

Photo-Adventure 5/9/2015

So happy that Spring is finally here!  Yesterday actually felt more like summer.  It was kind of hard to imagine that I still have 3 more weeks of school, when the weather is so decidedly summer-like.  I have been itching to go on a photo-adventure, but races 4 weekends in a row made it hard to find time.  This was my first free weekend, and the weather was supposed to be gorgeous, so some friends and I decided to plan a trip.  All the stars aligned and we had a great day!

I have been meaning to take Holly to Sandstone Falls ever since I went there back in October.  Then, after Michael took me to Blue Lagoon in March, I knew that was another place Holly needed to see.  As I was thinking about where we should go this weekend, I decided the two places would be perfect to fit into one trip.  Instead of just Holly and I on this adventure, like it used to be, this time it was us plus Tyler, Harper-baby, and Michael.

We left town around 10:30 and headed out to Blue Lagoon.  Harper's stroller unfolds and snaps together impressively fast, and thankfully is also impressively rugged.  Clearly it is an off-road stroller made just for adventures like ours!

Although we did a great job of avoiding the mud on the dark walk through the quarry the first time, we were not so lucky on the way back out.  Our shoes and the stroller wheels were caked with cave mud by the time we emerged back into daylight.  My chacos were so heavy with mud they were barely staying on my feet.  Oh well.  Onward to Sandstone Falls!  We stopped at the overlook to take some pictures and have a picnic lunch.

After passing this overlook down onto the falls, you have to drive a long horseshoe about 5-7 more miles to the town of Hinton where there is a bridge over the New River, and then down along the other side of the river until you get back to the falls.  

So gorgeous!

Group photo from Harper's first photo adventure!
I look so short next to all these tall people...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pittsburgh 1/2 : My lungs failed me again

Oh yay, they made the shirts my "favorite" color.
The guys got green shirts...lucky.

It is SO frustrating to have your legs be in great shape and ready to carry you to a PR, and then have your lungs laugh in your face and constrict so tight you can't draw a proper breath.  And then your legs start slowing down because they don't have enough oxygen to hold onto the pace that they would otherwise be comfortable with.

When my lungs are in shape, breathing tends to be easy for the first 6 or 7 miles. Then it gradually starts getting harder, but just in the sense that I am breathing faster.  I am still getting enough oxygen, I just need to take more breaths per minute.  During this race, my breathing started getting tight after the first mile or two.  I had to put extra effort into drawing deep breaths, and really think about my breathing.  I knew this was not a good sign.  But since I already knew I was going to have problems later in the race, I decided to keep the pace up as long as I could, so that hopefully it would all balance out in the end.  By mile 9 I was really struggling as my legs started to feel the effects of less oxygen.  Somewhere around the end of mile 11 is when my lungs were feeling really constricted and I didn't have a chance of picking up the pace anymore.  I kept telling myself only 4 miles left, only a 5k left, only 2 miles left... Under normal circumstances, I am able to kick even though I am out of breath, because I am still getting enough oxygen and I know I will be fine to the finish line.  Under these circumstances, nothing can get me to pick up the pace except for the finish line actually being within view.  Understandably, my body just won't let me go any further into oxygen debt, no matter how much I might want to try.

At least my slowest mile was also the "hilliest."
Not that anything on this course really counted as a hill.

The day started out well enough.  I had to get up at 4:15 in the morning, which wasn't so fun, but I did make it out of bed and had a tasty cinnamon bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  Then my aunt took me to the train station to catch a 5:30 train into the city.  Thankfully, a good friend had offered to hold my sweats and phone for me during the race, so I was able to wear my sweats for the chilly wait on the train platform.  The phone was quite useful in helping me find him once I got off the train.  Once I found him, there was some hanging around with our other friends who were running, and then it was time to get into my corral right before they closed it off at 6:45.  Once in the corral, I jogged a block or two as a "warm-up" as I traveled closer to the front of the corral.  Then there was the usual standing around waiting for go time.  Finally, we were off.  I tried to settle into a comfortable pace.  I had to really focus on my breathing to try to keep my lungs as open as possible.  The course itself wasn't one of my favorites.  It was much too flat.  Really the only hills were the bridges, and they weren't much more than bumps in the road.  There was a hill in mile 12, but even in my oxygen deprived state, it didn't seem like much of a hill to me.

I finished the race with an official time of 1:31:10.  I was 194 out of 14, 577 runners.  I was the 31st female, and the 13th in my age group.  I didn't make my goal of finishing in the top 30, or of finishing with a PR.  But I did the best I could with my asthmatic lungs.  Maybe I will try again another year.

I knew going into this race that I would probably be out of running for awhile afterwards.  I hurt my right foot (not the one I had trouble with a year ago) about 2 weeks ago.  I have been taking it easy ever since, but I wasn't going to give up this race.  I was smart enough not to sign up for any races after this one, in case I ended up unable to run, since race fees are non-refundable.  Smart choice. My foot didn't bother me much during the race, but it definitely hurt afterward.  Pre-race, I was able to walk in Danskos or Chacos without pain.  Post-race, my foot hurt no matter what I wore, but at least only hurt a little bit in Danskos.  So, looks like I'm stuck in Danskos now.  Too bad, because it's warm out now and I want to wear sandals!  Hopefully after a few days of being careful I can at least start wearing my Chaco sandals again.  I am expecting to take a month off of running (or maybe just til my birthday at the end of May, because who wouldn't want to celebrate their birthday with a run?!).  I am going to wait two weeks before deciding if I need to go to the doctor or not.  If I can walk without pain after two weeks I will just continue resting.  If walking still hurts, I will go to the doctor.  And if I end up at the doctor, I will definitely be talking about my asthma too.  I don't want to have to keep being let down by my lungs during races, if there might be something I can do to prevent it.  

For now...I see a lot of biking in my future!  I did discover yesterday that my foot hurts the least when I walk in cycling shoes...maybe I will have to start a new fashion trend.