Monday, May 30, 2016

I'm allergic to exercise

It's that lovely time of year where there's so much pollen in the air, I'm better off staying inside. Instead, I go out and exercise so all that pollen can attack me while my body is too busy working at the exercise thing and can't fight the pollen.  Last spring, the pollen was getting into the pores in my legs when I sweated during bike rides, and making them on fire with itching.  This year, the main target seems to be the roof of my mouth.  (With my eyes and nose being slightly lesser targets.)  Every time I run or bike, the roof of my mouth gets severely itchy shortly after I get home, and continues to plague me for an hour or more.  Super annoying.  I'm already taking claritin and a nasty spoonful of local honey every morning.  When it gets really bad, I have to add a zyrtec in the afternoon.  I really hope the pollen settles down soon...I don't like being allergic to exercise!!

This week : 
T : run 7.5 / 7:50 / 604 ft
W : horseback ride 1:40
R : run 8 / 7:29 / 925 ft
jog 1 / 8:02 / 0 ft
Sa : group bike 20.4 /15.7 mph / 1378 ft 
Su : run 7.1 / 7:57 / 584 ft

bike miles : 20.4
run miles : 23.6

I wasn't feeling very motivated this week.  I took Monday off because no one showed up for the Pub run, and I felt like I could use a rest day after Sunday's long run anyway.  Tuesday was field day at school, and I was impressed that I was able to run as far and as well as I did after being out in the sun all afternoon.  Wednesday I had the afternoon off, and decided to just spend some quality time with my horse.  I probably had intentions of running or biking after I got home, but obviously that didn't happen.  

On Thursday I decided to work on my downhill muscles.  I ran hard down a 2 mile hill, and then of course I had to turn around and run back up.  Shin splints set in during the first downhill mile, but they gave up and quit before I reached the bottom, so that was good.  I have noticed them appearing whenever I push downhills, so I'm hoping if I keep doing it in moderation the muscles will get strong enough to stop doing that.  

I had many good intentions of biking 30 miles for my 30th birthday, or at least running 30 minutes, and also I was going to ride my horse.  But it was the last day of school, and most of the staff got together for some celebratory food and drink.  That started around 12...and I finally left at 5:30 because I needed to shower, change, and get ready for my birthday party at 7.  So, I didn't get any exercise, but it was a very fun afternoon/night!  I still have the rest of the year to be 30, maybe sometime before the end of it I will be able to run 30 miles for my 30th, instead of having to fall back on the biking 30 option.  

Somehow I got talked into a group bike ride at 8 am Saturday morning.  It meant I didn't get a whole lot of sleep the night before, but the ride was fun, and I took a 3 hour nap afterwards.  

I didn't particularly feel like doing anything on Sunday, but I was 54 minutes short on my 3 hour running minimum for the I ran just to finish out the 3 hours.  I may or may not have looked at my watch every few minutes to see how much further I needed to go just to reach the goal... It didn't help that it was ridiculously humid out.  I was really dragging out there, but I'm going to blame all the water in the air.  I think gills might have been more useful than lungs.  

Of course, I'm also allergic to riding my horse.  
But I managed to have a fun ride, despite my nose trying to drip down my face the entire time.

Happy Birthday to me!  
Not sure why we had to look so formal here...
We were just having pizza and beer, after all.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Change is hard, and maybe that's ok.

I'm going to interrupt my regularly scheduled mid-week blog silence to post a link to an article that I came across a few days ago.  It was everything that has been bouncing around in my mind, except said by someone else so now it's more than just potential nonsense in my head.

To Anyone Who Thinks They Are Falling Behind

It's about how life changes are made when you are ready for them, and not a minute sooner.  It's about how it's ok to want change, but not be able to make it happen, because maybe you just aren't quite ready for it.  I have struggled a lot over the years with both my personal life and my career life, in thinking that maybe I'm not doing what is best for me, but at the same time feeling powerless or unmotivated to change things.  And then I wonder why I can't make myself make a change if it is what I "believe" I need.  But you know what?  When I am truly ready for a change, I make that change.  And I never look back.  So sometimes I need to be reminded that if I can't make a change, it's just because it's not time yet.  When it is time, I will make that change, and I will embrace it completely.

Change has always been hard for me.  Sometimes I joke about how I need to park in the same spot every day, but it's not really a joke.  Finding someone else in "my" parking spot can throw off my morning or evening.  I know that's crazy, and it doesn't really matter where I park.  But that doesn't stop me from getting pissy when I get home at the end of the day and have to park in the spot next to the one I want.  (I may or may not have moved "my spot" at school from one close to the building, to one further away, so that people would be less likely to take it...ok, I totally did that.)

Lately I have been trying harder to get out of my comfort zone.  It's not ok to have my entire day ruined by a silly parking spot.  Or by someone throwing off my schedule.  And it's silly to not want to go for a run because I'm sick of my normal route, but completely opposed to running a different route.  Things go wrong in my day at school constantly, and I have to roll with it.  On the outside, I always do.  Somebody needs me to drop my work and do something for them instead?  Inside, I'm seething because they think their time and work is more important than mine.  Outside, I force a smile and I do whatever they ask.  (This also has something to do with my extreme aversion to conflict, but that's a post for another day)  For now, if you need something done, just give it to me.  I'll do it, and I'll do it quickly and well.

Many times over the past years I have been "ready" for a career change.  I love teaching, but sometimes I feel like it is killing me.  I even job search occasionally.  Once I actually applied for a job in a running store.  But when it comes down to it, I've never quite been able to make the leap.  For now, I am accepting that I will make that leap exactly when I'm supposed to.  If I can't make the leap now, it's because I'm not really ready yet.  When I am ready, I will make it with no regrets.  Until then, there is a reason I am continuing to teach.  This chapter in my life just isn't finished yet.  There will be many more moments that leave me frustrated beyond belief, or crying at my desk. But there will also be so many amazing moments.  1st grade students speaking in Spanish.  8th grade students translating paragraphs into Spanish. Struggling Math students starting to shine.  PE students losing their fear of the ball and becoming one of the best teammates.

There is so much more I could say on the topic of life changes and where I could or should or would be in my life, but it would take me days to organize all those thoughts in my head.  I'm not even sure how coherent I was in this post.  In my defense, it's the 2nd to last day of school and my brain is beyond fried.

And to end on a completely different note, just for fun :

In honor of my upcoming 30th, here are some "throwback thursday" birthday photos I dug up. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Quality, not quantity.

It's been getting hard to drag myself out the door for exercise lately.  And even harder to convince myself to run for more than 30 minutes.  Part of the reason is the sheer exhaustion that comes at the end of a school year.  Another part of the reason is I'm just really tired of running the same loop all the time, and lacking the motivation to get more creative with my routes. On the bright side, after months of nightmare-filled, non-restful, sleep, I have finally gotten tired enough to start sleeping normally again.  So that is awesome.  That plus only one more week of school hopefully equals me feeling like a normal person again soon, and getting my mileage back up.  My legs are strong right now, and my lungs are catching up.  I've been really pleased with my shorter/faster runs, and it's about time to start trying to add distance without losing the pace.  As soon as I get motivated again.

I have noticed that a big part of successful breathing right now is constantly reminding myself to breathe in as deep as I can, every breath.  I often catch myself in the middle of a run breathing too shallowly, and that obviously does not help.  You would think that breathing in all the way would just happen naturally...but apparently it doesn't.  I can always feel the burst of energy in my legs when I start breathing deep again after catching myself breathing shallow.  Crazy stuff.

Super happy with my speed in the shorter runs this week!  Was great to have Kenny back at the Pub Run after his long break due to shin splints.  Got to pick up the pace and add a few small hills now that he is back!  On Tuesday's run I ran hard for the whole thing, downhills included, since I've decided I'm no longer allowed to be a baby about downhills.  I suppose it's not surprising how much faster I got when I stopped jogging the downhills...  Thursday's run was a quick sprint in between the cable guy and getting out to the barn to trail ride with friends.  As it was, they had to start without me, but I caught up to them eventually.  Getting a few miles in was more important than showing up to the barn on time.

I was happy to get back on the bike yesterday, finally a day without too much wind!  I did end up getting soaked for about 4 miles in the middle, but that was alright.  Just a pocket of rain showers that was centered over the turnaround spot in my out & back ride.  Once I rode back out of the storm, the roads were dry.  I took the whole ride pretty hard, and could feel that my run sprints are paying off on the bike!

This week : 
M : Pub Run 4.1 / 7:31 / 112 ft
T : run 5 / 7:05 / 423 ft
R : TRX 30/10 x30
run 3.7 / 6:52 / 259 ft (5k sprint + cooldown)
horseback ride 50 minutes
F : sweatfest 35 minutes / 15.1 mph : sprinting through commercials
Sa : bike 27.5 / 17.9 mph / 2136 ft
Su : long run 11.3 / 8:07 / 1001 ft

bike total : 36.3 miles
run total : 24.1 miles

Multitasking while waiting for the cable guy to show up.
Reading and planking.

So much gorgeousness in one photo.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Exhaustion can't keep me from running

May is the hardest time of the year.  Especially now that I'm in charge of the Yearbook.  Getting that done to my standards of excellence, and approved for production on time was difficult this year, to say the least.  Somehow it seems to have become a volunteer project, since I had very little time to work on it during school this year.  Of course I got it done on time, (and it looks awesome, they just came last week), but I am exhausted.  And burned out.  And by the end of each school day I usually just want to collapse on the couch.

But I decided that Wednesday was long run day.  I felt pretty drained by the end of the school day, but it was apparently only mental exhaustion, not physical exhaustion, because I had a really great long run.

The week : 
M : Pub Run 3.7 / 7:47 / 0 ft
T : AM run 4 / 7:44 / 200 ft
horseback ride 1 hour
W : long run 10.1 / 7:48 / 771 ft
R : TRX 30/10 x 50 (5 rounds of 10)
F : horseback ride 2.5 hours
Sa : run 6 / 7:41 / 548 ft
Su : run 5.3 / 7:40 / 420 ft

total miles run : 29.1

On Saturday, I did an out and back run to push a hill I rarely run.  I decided to push on the down as well as the up, because lately my hips have been hurting after any kind of downhill.  Time to build them up...being strong on the uphills is great, but what goes up must come back down!  I felt really strong until the last 2 miles or so, and then I started fatiguing.  Understandable, because the first 3 miles were more downhill, and the last 3 miles were more uphill.  I had to stop at a red light 1/4 mile from home, and got very lightheaded all of the sudden.  It's certainly not the first time I've gotten lightheaded at that stoplight, but it's been a long time since it happened.  I think the light turned green just in time, any longer and I probably would have had to sit down, wait for it to pass, and walk home.  But I managed to start running again, even with slightly blurry vision, and made it home.  I have no idea what caused it this time, I didn't think I was running quite that hard at that point.  Perhaps I was just dehydrated.  

I have been happy to see my pace getting faster, now that I am making a conscious effort not to "jog" on my runs.  The main goal is not to have a run slower than 8:00 min/mile right now.  Most of my runs are starting faster and ending slower as my legs fatigue, but I'm ok with that.  I expect that I will get a little farther at pace each week.  My lungs are starting to feel stronger, which is reassuring.  

Only 2 more weeks of school, and then hopefully I will have more time to get back on the bike in addition to adding more longer runs!  Right now the wind is way too strong by the time I get out of work, and I don't want to blow off the road...

Friday afternoon was absolutely gorgeous, and I loved spending it riding through the fields and woods with my barn friends!  Lots of playing in streams and ponds, and taking pictures. 

I opted out of walking through this pond...we had already walked through what looked like a shallow stream, and ended up belly deep in muddy water.  I would have gotten wet if I tried to walk Pony through this one!  So, I was tasked with taking pictures of the others. 

It looks like just a bit of water on the ground...but when you walk through it, you often end up sinking much deeper than you would guess.  Rain is good, but we've been getting way too much of it lately!  The ground can't take any more. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Dirt Dash for the United Way 2016

I've been running the Dirt Dash course with my friend Morgan for the last three weeks.  I had been on the fence about whether or not to race it, and then the race committee asked if I would be the photographer again.  I was the photographer for this race last fall because I wasn't in race shape at that point.  I decided that being race photographer was much safer for my ankle than trail racing, so I agreed to do it.  This week, we ran the course harder than we have been, in preparation for the race.  I didn't quite run it at race pace, but I did push it pretty hard, except for the two messier downhill sections, because they terrify me with all their ankle-breaking rocks and roots.  I ended up finishing the course in 42:12.  The overall winning time this year was 38:??.  But I'm pretty sure my time would have gotten me top 3.

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning in the forest, and I enjoyed getting to photograph the racers.  Much more fun that last fall when it was raining!

Working on pace instead of distance

I love that I have really built my endurance up over the past year or so, but I don't love that my daily runs are slower than they used to be.  I know there are various things I can do about that, but that doesn't mean I will find the motivation to do them.  This week, I chose to abandon my notions of a daily minimum mileage, and decided to push myself each time I ran.  I wanted to run slower than race pace, but faster than I have been.

My main problem with running fast, is that as my lungs start struggling, my legs start hurting from the lack of sufficient oxygen. I know my legs are perfectly capable of running faster, as long as they are getting the oxygen they need.  However, I worry about making my legs work too hard without the oxygen they need, and overdoing it so that they can't recover quickly.  So, my plan this week was to make every run faster, but keep them short so that I would be done before the oxygen deprivation could really effect my legs.  I think I succeeded...I definitely ran some shorter and faster runs this week, and so far my legs still feel good!

I did jog on purpose for today's run, because I decided I should take it easier after hammering a 10k yesterday.  (I was all fired up after two days off from running, and photographing a trail race instead of running in it!)

This week : 
M : Pub Run 3.1 / 8:56 / 0 ft
T : run 4.6 / 7:24 / 318 ft
bike w/ Lauren 15.7 / 15.4 mph / 1253 ft
W : trail run w/ Morgan 5.2 / 8:42 / 515 ft
R : TRX 30/15 x 50
Sa : run 6.3 / 7:17 / 472 ft
Su : run 4.1 / 8:07 / 305 ft

total run miles : 23.4
total bike miles : 15.7

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I just realized that I didn't take any days off this week. Oops.

This week : 
M : run 6.2 / 7:38 / 476 ft
T : trail run w/ Morgan 5 / 9:15 / 394
W : bike 14.7 / 19.4 mph / 938
R : TRX 30/15 x 50
F : run 6.2 / 7:43/ 469 ft
Sa : Great Greenbrier River Race
warm up 1 : 2 miles
warm up 2 : 0.5 miles
race : 3.07 / 6:20 / 0 ft
cool down : 0/5 miles
Su : bike 20.5 / 16.6 mph / 1509 ft

total run miles : 23.6
total bike miles : 35.2

Somehow I didn't realize that I didn't take off a single day this week until I just now went through and wrote out my week summary...  I felt like my legs needed an easy day on Wednesday, so I decided to bike.  But there was an impending storm, so I ended up biking as hard as I could.  Not quite the easy day I envisioned, but it felt good to do a bike sprint.  It had been awhile since the last time I tried one.  I ended up with the same average speed as the last time I did that same sprint, in mid October.  Nice to see that I haven't lost any of my bike sprint power, even though I know I have lost a lot of my bike endurance.  That will come back as soon as the wind stops preventing me from riding as much as I would like.  

Today, it was much too gorgeous out to take a day off, so I enjoyed a somewhat leisurely bike ride. 

I got a new phone this week and it takes SO MUCH BETTER photos than my last phone.  As in, my last phone had a 5 megapixel camera and this one has a 13 megapixel camera.  I am loving it. 

Great Greenbrier River Race 2016

Last year we were Team Hill and Holler.  This year we were team Appalachian Bicycle Co.  Two years, two bike shops, same three people, same result!

We weren't sure if we would be able to defend our title as First Place Coed Team or not, but of course we were going to try our hardest!  Thankfully, the weather was quite a bit nicer this year than last year.  Instead of being cold and rainy, it was in the 50s and only threatening rain.  Felt like a heat wave compared to last year.

Getting out of the car I felt a pain in my knee that was worrying.  It felt like I had tweaked something, but I had no idea how or when.  I worried that sprinting would be the worst thing for it, but thankfully it worked itself out during my warm up.  I did a 2 mile jog with 4 sprints in the second mile.  Then I still had about 30 minutes before my start time.  I ended up getting cold and going for another short jog shortly before the start.  In past years, they have let all the solo racers go at 11, and all the team racers go at 11:05.  This year they staggered it even further, letting the male solos go at 11, the teams go at 11:05, and the female solos at 11:10 . It definitely helped a bit for the first half of the out and back 5k, but the second half was just as crazy crowded as ever.

I started the run out strong in the front of the pack.  By the end of the first mile I was in second place, with 1st place out of sight ahead of me.  I kept pushing as hard as I could.  I was still going strong when I reached the turnaround, but my lungs were beginning to fail me.  I had used my inhaler before my first warmup, and again on the starting line.  Towards the end of the 2nd mile, I tried to use it again, because my legs were beginning to struggle from the lack of oxygen, but I was breathing so had I don't think any of the medicine actually made it to my lungs.  So I decided to just keep running as hard as I could and hope for the best.  I got passed by one person in the last half mile, but he only ended up beating me by 10 seconds, and he walked the transition area, so I passed him there, as I ran all they way to the river to tag Mallory for the kayak.  So we were the second team in the water (and, as it turns out, the first coed team in the water).

I ran a 19:28, about 20 seconds faster than last year, which I was super happy to see!

It is very easy for me to keep track of my place in the run, with the staggered start.  However, once the race gets to the kayak and bike parts, it is mostly impossible for Mallory and Stu to know who is passing them, or who they are passing.  So we never quite know if we managed to secure the win or not until it is announced.  We were sitting around waiting, when a friend came up and said he had seen the results and was pretty sure we were third.  We tried not to get too disappointed, and waited for the awards ceremony to be sure.  They announced third place, wasn't us.  Then second place, wasn't us.  Turns out we did manage to defend our title.  Instead of getting medals or plaques this year, they are giving us jackets.  We had to fill out order forms for our size and they should be mailed to us at some point.  Jackets are much more useful than medals or plaques!

We dominated in the run and bike, the two events which really come down to personal fitness.
The kayak portion is part personal fitness of course, but it is also very much won by the boat.  Teams with longer thinner kayaks will always be a lot faster than teams with shorter wider ones.  

Team photo, pre-race.

Starting line, ready to run!

Coed Team Winners!