Changing My Pace

Predawn

This is what I was looking at yesterday morning freezing my butt off while I was waiting to start my 10k race in Mankato. I originally signed up to run the half-marathon, but once again my traitorous body sabotaged my attempt.

Despite my disappointment, I had a great run, setting a PR and cracking a sub-10min/mi for the first time ever in any race! I haven’t been able to do that in a 5k, much less a 10k, so I was super happy with the time. I think that 0.5 mile downhill stretch may have helped that achievement, but hey, I’ll take it!

Today, it got me thinking about my running goals. Why am I so focused on running a half-marathon again? Just to say I did it? Well, I already “did it,” so that shouldn’t be my motivation anymore. What do I have to prove?

Nothing, really.

I also realized that I really like the 10k distance. When I trained for the half, I felt that all I did in my spare time was run (which was true)! Now, all I need is an hour of time out of my day to devote to training for a 10k!

In addition, every time I’ve pushed myself to run more than 8 miles I’ve ended up aggravating my old “pain in the ass” injury from 2011. After how long it took me to even run again after injuring it, I definitely do NOT want to injure it again.

So, my goal has changed: get faster in the 10k. I think that’s doable!

After getting together with my family for lunch after the race, my sister said that she has a goal to do the local “mud run” next summer and said I should do it with her. I’m so excited!! I didn’t realize how much I wanted to do something fun like that with family until she mentioned it. If you recall, I was supposed to do the Warrior Dash with my cousin until she sprained her ankle mere days before the race.

In other news, I finally will be checking off one of those items on my life to-do list: travel outside of the country! We booked a long weekend trip to Vancouver, BC and I can’t wait!

Stand Up!

I have converted to a standing desk.

See?

image

(ignore the baby carrots and the wrangle of cords – I was hungry and I need to find a solution for my 4-1TB hard drives to be stored on a shelf below the desktop respectively)

I’ve been having a problem, which can only be described as “dead butt“. Apparently, dead butt is an issue of weak glute muscles brought on by excessive sitting. When you combine running and weak glute muscles, you get IT band issues and the feeling like you’re dragging your leg behind you when you run. It’s a weird feeling when your legs don’t work like they’re supposed to. So over the past week, I’ve been doing specific glute-targeting exercises and started making plans to convert to a standing desk at home.

Since we already had a small desktop from Ikea from our old office setup (where I had to cobble together an L-shaped desk from two desktops), we made a trip to get the extending legs to make it tall enough for me to use as a desk. We got the parts and set it up on Sunday and I spent the afternoon coding…ah who am I kidding, I played Glitch for 3 hours. I needed some downtime! šŸ™‚

Anyway, yesterday, I really could feel the difference in my hamstrings and glute muscles! Like I did an intense workout the day before. But all I did was stand up!

Mission accomplished!

I discovered one problem: my feet were KILLING me! Although I made sure I moved around so I wasn’t standing in one spot for too long, my arches by the end of the afternoon were sore and angry at me for standing on them so much.

So for now, I’m going to wear my minimalist shoes until my feet get used to standing up.

image

(ignore the sexay lounge pants.)

In other news, the PT job is going very well. My new co-workers are awesome and I’m pretty confident that I’ll be kept on past the end of my contract in a full-time capacity. I’m making some great contacts in Marketing and I’ll be working on some discreet web work for them while I’m in the Education department. Gotta love small companies!

Awesomesauce!

What? A new post?

Yeah.

I am going to start posting on here again as a lot of the things I want to write about don’t apply to the mission over at HealthKitten. To be frank, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be blogging over there. So, I’ll put the update here.

1. Health. Good, for the most part. Getting a foam roller has really helped with my IT band issues. However, I haven’t been able to put on the miles like I did back in 2010 when I did my first half marathon. Mainly because I haven’t been running through the pain like I used to. That mindset literally bit me in the ass last year and kept me from running for 3-4 months. Stress has also been a factor in my lack of mileage. While running is a stress reliever, my mind hasn’t been in the right place to really train effectively.

Weight is stable, but I can stand to lose some pounds. Having no gym membership that would give me access to a scale, I ended up buying one of the Fitbit Aria scales as a present (more on that later). After an arduous setup, it’s been neat getting my weight and body fat percentages. Now that I’m monitoring things, I’m trending downward. Result!

2. Food. The garden has been a mix of successes and failures. Successes: kale, tomatillos, and summer squash. Failures: peas, green beans and peppers (jalepeno, poblano, bell). The already-established asparagus, rhubarb, and strawberry patches gave us a great bounty as well.

I’ve been having issues with other people’s recipes lately. Mainly because they’re just not that good. I made a mushroom stroganoff the other night that was dreadful; bland and all the leftovers just went into the bin. There’s another food blogger with a great following that has more misses than hits too. Everything of theirs that I make is just underwhelming…which baffles me as people rant and rave on their blog as to how “delicious” the stuff is. Perhaps I just have a more refined palette?

My greatest successes with cooking lately have been when I just improvise with the ingredients I have on hand. I made amazing tacos from summer squash, kale, pinto beans and homemade salsa verde. No measuring – I just threw in what looked right. And it was delicious. At our couple’s cabin retreat last weekend, I made two egg bakes for the morning we were responsible for breakfast: the ubiquitous sausage/cheddar and the vegetarian kale and artichoke (with swiss and gruyere cheese). Did I use a recipe? Nope. Was it awesome? Based upon everyone’s comments, I would say yes!

Stuff just seems to turn out when I cook with intuition.

Also, my lack of recipes (and lack of food photography) makes for a shitty blogging experience! More reason to blog here and not HK. šŸ™‚

3. Work. Here’s where the big shakeup is happening. As of Friday, I no longer work at the law firm!!! Quitting that job was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I had been struggling with the stresses of the job for months now, and almost two months ago, I figured out what I wanted to do: go back to web development.

How was I going to do that? Well, I immediately started finding resources to update my skill set that didn’t require me to 1) go back to college or 2) spend a bunch of money. I found a great resource at Lynda.com and I’ve been absorbing like a sponge the latest on HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and jQuery. Next my plans are to learn PHP and get really good with the WordPress stack.

Then? Take over the world! Mwahahah! šŸ˜‰

However, doing this on nights and weekends started to take its toll on my well-being (and cut into my half-marathon training time!). After a long, heartfelt discussion with Tim, we decided that I needed to devote more time to my career change and by reducing my work schedule to 3 days a week, I’ll have more time to study and work on any freelance projects I would land during this time.

Once that decision was made, there was no stopping me. I found, interviewed and landed a PT job within 48 hours and I put my two weeks notice in as soon as I had the offer in hand. I start the new job tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more excited. Initially I’ll be working as an Educational Coordinator, but in the interview process they mentioned (or more like offered?) that “we have a web development team here too…so maybe if you really like it here, you can transition there after this contract is up!”

Um, yes please?

Also, as word has gotten out over my departure from the law firm, a former colleague (who now has her own business) asked me if I could help her out with her website and what my rates would be! First potential freelance client and I haven’t even started yet! Woot!

When I put in my two weeks, it felt like the 900lb gorilla of stress finally got off my back. I didn’t realize how unhappy I’ve been until then and now I’m so happy and I’m super excited to get started on my new career. I was especially happy to finally get away from Windows XP and the stupid Websense filtering BS that the firm uses. The picture that is accompanying this post was from the last day of work. Bye bye, crappy OS! LOL!

I never could’ve taken this leap without the amazing support that Tim has given me. I’m so lucky to have him in my life. šŸ™‚

(d’awww)

Anyway, expect more from the ol’ ‘kitten in the future…along with some hawt new website action!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Study  >_<"

I just deleted a draft post that’s been sitting there for a week. It was a post about how much I love the Olympics (which I REALLY DO), but I just couldn’t finish it.

Why?

I’ve been embroiled in other things. Things that are taking me away from blogging. Half-marathon training (which is going SLOWLY, might not make it by the end of October :(), managing the bounty of produce from my garden and studying.

Studying?

Yeah, studying. While I’m not at liberty to discuss at this time, I can tell you that it’s big. Big enough to turn things upside down and downside up! šŸ™‚

However, before I can announce anything, I have to finish studying. Which will take some time!

Meanwhile, look at these photos of the various men’s water polo teams from the Olympics. Oh yes.

The Dangers of Gardening

Do you recall the “cucumber” I got in last year’s CSA share? The one I called Deathslayer?

Here’s a refresher:

This year, I have a house with a backyard and I’ve planted my own garden! I had some failures (my peas didn’t do so hot), some successes (my green beans and kohlrabi are delightful) and some downright horrific levels of plenty.

Remember my obsession with kale last year? This year, I planted four rows of kale from seed, thinking that half of it would die in the growing process.

I was wrong.

Remember when I bought the two giant bags of kale at the farmers market and lamented that I could only buy it once a week in this kind of quantity?

I pick that much every three days.

Poor Tim has made the comment “so what kind of kale are we having for dinner tonight?”

*sheepish grin*

What has also grown well beyond all hopes and dreams is my summer squash plant. Rather than go the typical zucchini route, I planted its yellow sister.

I pulled this out of my garden today, after seeing nothing there three days ago:

I think I will call this one Gigantor the Almighty.

In addition to Gigantor, I have 6 more of the yellow bastards I need to do something with. Here’s my short-term plan:

1. Slice and grill some for sandwiches.
2. Shred and make chocolate chip zucchini muffins.
3. Saute and serve with pasta?
4. Run around screaming “OMG WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH ALL THIS SQUASH?!?”

Never mind that I have to pick my kale…again…and I’m sure I’ll fill 3 grocery bags worth.

I fear the great quantities of garden bounty are making me crack.

ERMAHGERD…SQUERSH!

See? Losing it.

North Mankato Triathlon

Who ordered a ticket to the gun show?

Ten Things I Learned From Doing A Triathlon:

1. You can never train enough for the swim.
2. Training for the swim in a pool (when the swim is in a lake/pond) is ineffective. Also, see #1.
3. Don’t shift too fast into your big ring on the front lest you have the chain completely fall off your bike.
4. If the hill you’re biking up is too steep, just get off and walk it up. Nobody’s going to penalize you for it. Plus, your legs will thank you.
5. Hydrate hydrate hydrate.
6. Gu packs are your friend.
7. People are willing to shit themselves and keep going rather than stop and not shit themselves. (from observation, not practice – I’m not THAT hardcore!)
8. Planning your race pace ahead of time is useful in making sure you have enough “gas in the tank” once you get to the run.
9. Swimming sucks. It really, really does.
10. That I’ll never do another one ever again.
________________________

The sprint triathlon (0.25 mi swim/12 mi bike/3.1mi run) I did on Sunday was my first and will be my last. Why? I hate swimming.

As a kid, I loved to swim. But, in the 30-some years since then, I have fallen out of love with it – especially swimming in a lake. I can’t fathom how much fish poop is floating around in that water and when you’re swimming in a race, there’s a high probability that you’re going to get some in your mouth. ICK!

Anyway, back to the story. Since I don’t like swimming, I made sure that I would train to swim twice the distance non-stop (i.e. 0.5mi) in a lap pool. Aside from the turnarounds (where I didn’t hang on the edge or touch the bottom of the pool), I didn’t stop once. I had a good time split and I felt great. I’m a pretty experienced cyclist and I know what my pace times are for running, so I found a tri pace calculator online to plug in what my finish time would be.

Note: I’m slow. Really slow. I know this. But my goal was to finish and not kill myself.
Continue reading North Mankato Triathlon

Countdown to Tri

Well, I feel I should give an update since my last (panicked) post about not being able to swim.

Well, turns out I CAN swim!

Granted, it wasn’t in open water, but last week I tried swimming as many laps as I could without stopping. I was able to do 11 laps (~1/3 of a mile)! Considering I’m only going to have to do a 1/4 mile, this made me happy. Also, I swam again yesterday and did 1/2 mile without dying from exhaustion! Combine that with a successful (if slow) bike/run brick, running a couple 4+ milers and one final bike/run brick scheduled for tomorrow, I feel like I’m in really good shape to finish the race without too much agony!

This is GREAT NEWS!

Other than my neurotic packing list-making, I’m ready for this! Woot woot!

* * * * *

The rest of the week in pictures:

AMAZING food truck sushi:

Revisiting an old food truck favorite:

Pulled pork. Pickled onions. Cojita cheese. Salsa verde. Perfection!

Also, my garden has been going INSANE! Here’s one (of many) pickings of strawberries from my garden:

And the first few blueberries off my blueberry bush!

(After I ate 2 of them! ;))

I’m beginning to think I was a bit overzealous in planting four rows of kale this year. My first picking (off only two of the rows!) yielded a grocery bag full of kale and it barely looks like I did anything.

I foresee a lot turkey kale bean soup in my future! šŸ˜‰

Wish me luck!

Super Freak

No, not THAT kind of super freak!

I’m talking about how I’m starting to freak out a little bit about the triathlon. Mainly: the swimming.

Over the past few days I’ve had these thoughts:

I’m going to drown!

There’s no way you’ll be able to finish!

What if there’s fish?*

I won’t be able to SEE!**

I’m not going to be able to finish!

I’m going to drown!

As you can see…I’m being quite rational about this. By “rational” I mean “irrational as hell.”

Before I did the half-marathon in 2010, I had an epic meltdown on the drive down (just ask my husband) because of the seemingly insurmountable task ahead of me.

Thirteen point one miles?!?! I’ve only been able to run up to ten! (insert hysterical crying and freaking out here)

It wasn’t pretty. Thinking back, I’m usually the calm, level-headed one in times of crisis and I usually don’t freak out. Not like that.
Continue reading Super Freak

Ms. Magoo

I’m really nearsighted. So nearsighted that I joke that I wouldn’t be able to get out of the house without my glasses on!

Some call me “Ms. Magoo” after the Mr. Magoo cartoon character. Yes, it’s that bad.

I also have really dry eyes.

I discovered this about 15 years ago when I was a daily contact lens wearer and was experiencing double vision. Turns out wearing contacts – combined with a natural lack of tear production – was creating “dehydrated corneas”, which were causing the double vision.

Thus, I wear glasses all the time, and I wear contacts only when I’m doing sports activities.

The last time I had a fitting for contact lenses was approximately eight years ago and I had gotten down to the last pair of lenses in my box of “daily” wear lenses a few weeks ago. Since Tim expressed interest in getting contacts for running, I set up appointments for both of us to get fitted for lenses on the 4th.

Except I had an infection. In. My. EYES.

All I had been experiencing (I thought) was my seasonal allergies: dry, itchy eyes! How could I have an infection?

Anyhoo, he put me on an ocular antibiotic and told me that I couldn’t wear contact lenses until this clears up.

(Um…doesn’t he know I’m training for a triathlon?!?)

I was ordered to use the drops three times a day and come back in a week to get fitted for contacts. Over the past week I struggled running and biking with my regular, non-sports compatible prescription sunglasses. Not fun.

Fast forward to yesterday. The infection is only down about a third. A THIRD?!?

The treatment now – in addition to the continued contact lens ban – is using lubricating drops liberally throughout the day and he hopes (HOPES!??!) that it’ll clear up in two weeks. If not, he’s going to refer me to a corneal specialist to see why I continue to have an infection.

ARGH!!

If there are any of you out there reading this, please send healing vibes to not only get this infection licked but to allow me to not do a swim leg of a triathlon blind like Mr. Magoo!

* * * * *

In other news, I got a new pair of sunglasses! I’m so trendy…

My Secret Weapon

2008 Breast Cancer Bike Ride

I’m having a bit of panic over the triathlon, which is in 19 DAYS!

The swimming. I’m not going to be able to swim in a lake (unless I swim the race course the day before) until the day of the event. So, in order to make myself feel better, I’m going to swim as much as possible before the race.

However, I realized this weekend I have a secret weapon in my arsenal: the bike.

After a whirlwind week – one where I had to take ocular antibiotics due to an eye infection (and meaning I couldn’t wear my contacts) – I finally got my new Terry saddle installed on the bike and took her out for a long ride on Saturday in the 90+ degree heat and humidity right around the noon hour.

The course was a nice winding course with rolling hills and a few challenging climbs and a delightful straight, flat stretch where I got the bike up to ~23mph. All in all, I did 11 miles with little to no effort and had 14mph average speed.

Not bad for the first time out this year, huh? šŸ˜‰

Now that I have a fantastic bike saddle, those miles will fly by.

If only the swimming would go as smoothly…