Friday, August 26, 2011

Better....But Not Great...Yet

Yesterday morning I ran the same route that Betty and I ran on Monday afternoon. I wanted to see how much the heat had affected me. Turns out, the effect was significant.

Monday afternoon La Mesa Hill Route Pace & Elevations Charts
Can you see where I walked, slowly, three times. GAH!
Thursday morning
Walked ...maybe even more slowly up the steepest part of one hill, but for a shorter amount of time...and only one twice...both at about the same place). 
Hmmmmm.... Less walking apparently equals a faster overall pace. I still ended up walking one particularly steep hill that's about 2.3 miles into the run. It's one of those hills that goes around a curve, so you can't see the top of the hill until you turn the corner, but it's a good hill for me to work on because the hill in The Precidio in San Francisco that is exactly like that.

Pace stats and split times from Monday afternoon.
The suckfest stats
Thursday morning
I wonder how I gained elevation? Oh yeah...when I was coming up the last hill, the road has quite a cant and I was on the high side this time. Can't believe it's 4 feet higher on the one side. Maybe I had my hands above my head...
I am going to own that GD hill in the next few weeks. I swear it. I guess this is the advantage of living on a hill.

*The difference in the route distance between Monday and Thursday is because a couple of times on Monday, I double backed to catch up with Betty

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hill Focused

In less than eight weeks, I'll be doing this... Well...I'll be doing half of it anyway...

Which includes some of this ....

Borrowed from this site, which I located via Google Images. I do not claim that the woman in the photo in any way represents me as I am neither young, blond, or have THOSE legs. Nor do I claim that the hills in San Fran in any way the one she is running up.
In fact, I think the hills will look more like this...

Also...not an actual hill that we will be running up, but it will probably look like this... Also, I did not take this photo. It has been borrowed from this site.* 
Therefore, it's really time to get the hill training on, so I convinced Betty to come run with me last night in my 'hood...3.5 lovely miles of rolling SoCal hilly-ness.

It was 5:30. It was HOT. It pretty much sucked. But we did it.

Can I offer some stats about the ugliness of the run? How about this? could say I walked a bit. The elevations may not look like much...but somehow they FELT LIKE BIG-ASS HILLS...Just ask Betty...
Overall suck-fest numbers?
LORDY...I haven't wogged like that in quite awhile!
I'm ready to blame it on the heat. GAH!

In other running news that is almost completely unrelated to hills and/or hill training, Elsie, Betty and I will be running at The End of Summer Fire Run, which looks like it's now called The Fire Run this Sunday at 8am. The race starts in La Jolla and ends in Pacific Beach...four miles of flat downhillishness.

Whatever they call it, it's been an end of summer tradition for us for the last three years (2007 (no blog then) 2008, 2009, and 2010).
* Not an endorsement of the podiatrist's website where I found this foto, but if you are in the Bay Area and need foot doc, at least here is one who that's something I guess.

** Also...BIG HUGS, HIGH FIVES, AND CONGRATS to all my friends who ran AFC this past weekend. Irene, rocked 6th Avenue!

***Also MEGA SHOUT OUTS to the Nuun Hood to Coast team (who includes my friend Lisa, who I guess will be TOO BUSY to run the Fire Run with us this weekend. I'll be following you anyway. Have fun!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes...

School started this week for me (hence I was "off the grid" for the past few days). The first week of "back to work" for teachers includes LOTS of meetings (one of which I completely forgot to go to...sigh), sending emails, getting syllabi and copies ready for the first week. The actual TEACHING of classes doesn't start until Monday.

One of the things I noticed this week as I was talking to my colleagues is that, for the most part, we fell into two camps...those who felt that "they weren't ready" for school to start. Most of those people taught summer school, so they hadn't had much of a break. The rest were rested, and eager, and mostly said that they were ready to go back to teaching.

I certainly fell into the latter camp. For the first time, maybe ever, I felt like I had enough vacation. I'm rested and am ready to get back at it. It was a great summer. I got to run two half-marathons, I got to travel with friends and family. I certainly had a fair amount of "down time" and way more than enough wine!

It's kinda a nice feeling.

Going back to school is one way that I know that the summer is (or is almost) over. Another signal that my summer is coming to a close is my mid-August birthday, which I quietly celebrated about a week ago.

When I was younger, I made a pretty big deal out of Birthday Week. Heck for a while in my 20's, I considered the whole month of August my "Birthday Month!" (As in, "Hey bartender...It's BIRTHDAY MONTH...shouldn't this round of drinks be "on the house?" You might be surprised at how well this worked!)

Now that I'm (ahem) older, I am decidedly more low key about my birthday. Until this year, I kept my birthday private on Facebook. This year, I made it non-private because some people, when they learned it was my birthday a week after the fact, chastised me for keeping it private.

I'll be honest...the birthday wishes from FB were really nice.

So was my birthday (not a week...but a couple of days of celebrating). On Wednesday, I met up with Mik, Elsie, and Betty at Mik's house. It was the first time we'd been together since the Napa to Sonoma half. We got to hear about Elsie's adventures in Guatemala. (Her dad is a doctor and she participates in an annual trek to South America where her father and other surgeons provide health care services to the people there. She is a translator and always comes back with good stories...and this year, a good luck doll...for the dolls!)

Cute! No? Thanks Elsie!
Mik served the birthday cookies on her family birthday cool is THAT?
On my actual birthday (Friday). I went for a run at Lake BP. For the past year or so, the road around the lake had been closed about 2 miles in for repair. It's now open all the way, so I got a 5.5 mile run in.
Locals will recognize the target at Lake BP...the lap doesn't count unless you tag the sign!!!
That night Walter and I took our kids to the track so that they could learn the important life skill of betting on ponies.
I bet on the 8 horse in the 6th race in honor of Mona. Damn mule came in last...
Actually, I've had really good luck betting horses this season, but only in the first two races I see. The first time I went to the track, in the first two races, I correctly picked a quinella (where you bet on two horses that you think will come in first and second, but in no particular order). 

I had my friends thinking I was a betting goddess, but then I didn't bet on another winner for the rest of the day.

Then on my birthday, I correctly picked another quinella in the third race, which was the second race I saw...and then not another winner, or even close, for the rest of the day.

So, in the future, I think I will not bet on any races past the 3rd.
Turbo likes betting longshots thinking that if one of 'em hits, he'll win loads of money. Sadly, one of his first memories of being at the track is choosing on a 50:1 longshot to win, so he thinks that this is a common occurrence now.
DramaGirl made this gorgeous thing! Consumed at home later that evening (and for the next couple of days) It was a lime-berry pie that was super rich and yummy!
So...this year, I turned 49. Wow. One year away from 50. I'm in my 50th year of life.

I'm not sure what 50 is supposed to feel like. I've read that 50 is the new 40, whatever that means. I'll also be honest that the prospect of turning 50 has me a bit wigged out. I know that some will say that "age doesn't matter. It's how you feel that counts" and while a huge amount of that adage is certainly true, age does matter in how you feel.

Doesn't matter how you slice it. 50 sorta sounds...well you know...old.

40 has been a great decade so far. I earned a doctorate. I started running and have had some absolutely wonderful adventures with some great women as a result of "being a runner." I've raised two great kids out of toddler-hood and into teenage-hood. I continue to be happily married to a great man. I have nothing but good to say about my 40s.

But there's a nagging voice in the back of my head that wonders how long can this continue? Certainly, life is going to change. It always does. It, of course, already has. If someone had told me when I was 39 that I would earn a degree, change jobs, start running, change jobs AGAIN, run a marathon, many halves, and even do a few long bike rides, I'd have probably been a bit incredulous.

That really wasn't me then. It is me now. I've changed.

So while I shouldn't be wigged out about change, I am. The changes that I went through in my 40s were very positive, yes, but I know that it won't always be so. I know that my body will, eventually, not allow me to run any longer (I may be 90 when this happens, but it will happen). Even now some of "the herd" complain, suggest that not ALL of our adventures need to culminate in a 13.1 mile run. Maybe we could look for some 10Ks instead? Maybe we could go somewhere and not run at all? Maybe we could ride Segways (that was for Mik who is morally opposed to such things).

I know my body is changing, some of it for the good (I may be in the best shape of my life...definitely the best shape of my adult life...and by adult life, I mean the part of my life that started in my 30s. I dont' really consider my 20s was more an extended adolescence.)

But some other aspects of a changing/aging body?  Not. So. Good. This became clear to me when I went to the gym last night. I didn't actually go the gym to workout. I had signed Turbo up for a gym membership so that he could go there after school with a couple of his friends. It is definitely the least expensive after school program I've ever paid for. Anyway, as the membership director walked us around the gym and was (of course) trying to get me to purchase some personal training sessions (I also belong to the same gym, so personal training isn't an entirely outlandish idea), he also asked me what my training goals were. Whenever I'm asked this question, I always mention running and how any strength training that I do is generally focused on increasing endurance in long runs and/or riding.

He took one look at me and talked to me about improving my posture because "as we grow older, our shoulders tend to start hunching over..."

HUH? Grow older? Hunching over? WTF????

But I can look at myself in the mirror and I see the hunch. I see the difference between a young person's posture and mine.

GAH! GROWING OLD SUCKS!!!!...I'm just saying...and there. I've said it.


So, I will fight these NOT. SO. FRIGGIN' POSTIVE changes as best I can, but getting older really pisses me off.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rearrangements let's write about something new...running...

The Nike Women's half marathon is in about 10 weeks, so after a couple of weeks of kinda-sorta running on the mill and making a half-hearted effort to do some strength training (which I've decided is KEY to running hills...I'm sure I'm the first to make this discovery, no?), I decided this week to get back at it...kinda, sorta...

First, Walter and I rearranged some furniture in what we have, in the past, called the "office." Pretty much the "office" was a mishmash of a room with no particular purpose. It housed the computer, most of our books, and the treadmill....and at one point, a piano, which we have since gotten rid of since nobody played it, and any other random crap that needs a place to be.

The bad part of that is that the "office" is also the room adjacent to the pool, so it gets a fair amount of traffic.

But we did some rearranging of furniture, got rid of some of the random crap, and...TA DA.

Now it houses the computer and book shelves one one side of it, and a "workout room" complete with weight bench, hand weights, treadmill, and TRX on the other side.
Stylish. No?
How does IKEA photograph rooms and get everything to fit in? The rooms must be the size of postage stamps. This one is, decidedly, not. 
This all started with Walter. One of the things that he has wanted to do for about a year is move the weights out of the garage (we have a free-standing garage that is not attached to the house. It's pretty small for an alleged two car garage, and we have mostly used it as a storage shed), and into the house where, he would argue, we would be more likely to use them.

One of the "discussions" we have had is where to put said weight bench IN THE HOUSE. Walter wanted to put it in the front room (the first room guests walk into when they enter the house). I pointed out to him that we did not live in a bachelor-pad-frat-house, and weights in the living room is not very chic or Feng Shui. Walter, being rather pragmatic, claimed that we'd be more likely to actually USE the weights if there were in front of us every day.

Really? Right in FRONT? I think. No.

So, moving them into the "office" was a compromise. Walter moved the weights inside when I was "on the road" in Napa. When I returned, we started to rearrange the furniture. My goal has been to get the office/workout room to look stylish. Can this be done?

Truth is, since the weights have been moved into the house, I've used them three times. Care to guess how many times I lifted weights in the garage in the last year? I'd say, I've doubled the usage....maybe tripled.

Once I had the weights in the house, I realized I needed a weight lifting plan, so I started using an iPad Ap called "Fitness HD" (I think the HD is for High Def...which makes it an iPad Ap. I'm pretty sure the same Ap exists for an iPhone as well). The Exercise Base (database) has just about every strength training exercise you could think of...well, probably not every one, but it has lots.
I have not, as of yet, asked my "Personal Trainer" any questions...He doesn't seem to have a name, so I think I'll call him  Jethro.
I really have no idea how the food and body tracker works. I tried to figure it out (meaning: I looked at it for 60 seconds one day), but whatev's. I use Loseit to track calorie intake and outtake (is that a word) anyway.

Geez I use a lot of tracking devices.* I could use this to track workouts and meals, but mostly I just want someone/thing to give me a workout plan. I need that.
These are some of the workouts I've looked at. Mostly I've been using the "Fitness: Keep it Up" (watch it out there... I know what you are thinking) exercises because they include running and light weights.
So...what workouts have I done this past week?

Friday (last week) 10 minute uphill walk warmup - 40 minutes strength training, 3 mile run (mill)
Saturday - 15 minute uphill walk warmup, 30 minutes weights, 3.5 mile run (mill)
Tuesday - 10 mile uphill walk warmup - Then Betty texted me and so we went to run at Balboa Park where I ran 4.4 miles.

I'd say that moving the weights indoors was a good move...but I'll probably still be moving furniture around for about another week or so.

I'll be checking in on your blogs again soon. What the heck is going on out there?
* Lose it (Calories in and out)
* Daily Mile (workouts and mileage)
* Garmin Connect (same purpose as Daily Mile, but I have to use this to sync workouts with Daily Mile)
* Hefferblog (duh)
* Nike+ (only on Tuesday when I forgot my Garmin. I do NOT like using this. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kansas City - Los Angeles - Hollywood - San Diego - Done

My I am compelled to describe in excruciating detail my "what I did during my summer vacation" blogs, so I am now three weeks behind in updating any super-important "current events blogs" (e.g. I got to meet Jill (Run With Jill) last week when Meg (Meg Runs) was a superstar and put together a fabulous backyard barbecue (BBQ expertly manned by her husband "Boy Scout"), where I finally met Chris K (The Manly Runner) and his girlfriend, Alycia, and got to catch up with Irene (Magazine Smiles) and her Hubs who I hadn't seen since the SDRnR half-marathon. I also got to chat with Anne (Run DMZ), and Glenn (RunningFatGuy) neither of whom I'd seen in AGES, and now am now the LAST person who was at the event to publicly thank Meg and her husband for hosting the event.
Thanks Meg! (From left, Jill, Meg, BS, Chris, Alycia, Irene and Hubs, Anne, Glenn, yours truly, and Walter)
It was a really fun evening. The individual pizzas finished on the BBQ were genius and I plan to use that particular serving idea at a future event that I host, where I will definitely credit Meg! It was, as is typical, always awesome to meet up with fellow runner-bloggers. So. Much. FUN! Can't wait to do it all again soon.

For  quick update to my current running news...It's summer. I sleep in. It's too hot to run outdoors by the time I drag my ass out of bed, and 'cuz I'm a wuss and HATE running in the heat, I run on the 'mill...there you have it. My overall weekly mileage has dropped to about 10 miles per week. After running two half-marys in less than two months, it's kinda nice to not have a race looming. The Nike Women's half in October seems so far away...

So...if you're not here to read about "My Summer Vacation" feel free to stop reading here... I promise, I'm going to get through the rest of it two parts - Our time in Kansas City and then our rerouted trip back to Los Angeles, then I will try to get back to more regular blog fodder.

Kansas City
So...when we last left off, DramaGirl and I were literally running onto our flight to Kansas City as the airplane door closed. Good thing DramaGirl is FAST. After one scheduled stop in Denver, we made it to Kansas City where we met up with the rest of Walter's Family....just in time to enjoy the heat wave!
DG and I on our way to KC...Yes, I was tired.
Lots of people have asked me this month why in the world we decided to go to Kansas City in July. The whole reason is that Walter's father asked us to. He fought in WWII and his battalion (the 99th) has held annual reunions since roughly the mid '50s. The group had decided a few years ago, that this reunion would be the last. Over the years, so many of the WWII vets have aged or passed away. Traveling for many of them is a challenge.

In any event, my FIL asked us to go...I love and respect this man, and what all the vets did for our country (then and now), so we went to honor him and his army buddies. All bitching and complaining about the midwest heat aside, I'm really glad we went. I looked at the pictures of the men when they were serving in the army and they were just boys, not much older than DramaGirl and my nephew Sam, which made me tear up when I thought about it.
My nephew Sam and DG at the banquet
My father-in-law has a pretty amazing "war story." He fought at the Battle of the Bulge and was captured by the Germans. He wisely threw away his dog-tags, which would have identified him as a Jew. It was toward the end of the war, so they were starving, but also, at one point, he and the other captured men thought that their captors weren't really interested in holding onto them any longer, so they escaped.

The dinner where the men were recognized was really nice. Wanna know the difference between banquet food on the West Coast and in the Midwest?
  • Banquet Dinner in SoCal - Boneless Chicken breast in a light sauce, rice pilaf, mixed vegetables
  • Banquet Dinner in KC - Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans
In other words, I ate VERY well in Kansas City. We were there three nights. Twice we had barbecue. OK...YUM! I don't know who invented burnt ends, but if it is the only food served in Heaven, I will die happy. If I lived in Kansas City and had the opportunity to eat KC barbecue regularly, I'd weigh about a ton!

We also tried to stay cool in the 110ยบ and high humidity heat, while trying to see some of the sights in the area.
DG and my niece...I'm going to call her Princess...because it fits...At the Missouri River, which had A LOT of water in it. There was flooding upstream.
Our original plan was to leave Kansas City on Sunday and then go to Chicago, but when I was in Tahoe, one of Walter's cousins (who was in St. Petersburg...Russia at the time) contacted me and told me that Walter's aunt was failing in health and wasn't expected to make it through the weekend. Sadly, she passed the following day, so we all decided to head back to LA on Sunday for the memorial service instead of going to Chicago. Walter's Aunt Gertrude was one of my favorite people. We were bummed about our re-routed trip, but really wanted to pay our last respects.

What that also meant is that we had a flurry of flights and hotel reservations to cancel, and other flights to rebook AND that we would end up in LA without a car or a really good way to get back to San Diego...but we figured that we'd work it out somehow.

Los Angeles 4:30am (KC time) we woke up, drove to the airport (We were in Overland Park, about 45 minutes from the airport), were lucky to get on a 7am flight (Frontier Airlines, which is not my favorite airline) and arrived in LA about 9am (LA time)...We hadn't rented a car, but we hopped on the Alamo/National rent a car van and hoped for the best. The line to Alamo was out the door, but I checked upstairs at National...and NOBODY WAS THERE...I have no idea if I paid too much for a car, but I really didn't care. They had one for us and we took it. We then went to my sister's house (she lives in Manhattan Beach, which is close to the airport), changed clothes and got to the noon service in Redondo Beach on time (WHEW!)

It was quite the day, we attended a lovely memorial service, and afterward,  we were all exhausted. We finally got some food in us after the service around 2:00...almost 12 hours after we'd gotten up that morning, and still without a plan for how we were going to get back to San Diego. In addition, Walter and his brother had started talking about spending a few more days "vacationing" in LA.

Betty texted me and told me that she was headed back to San Diego (she was still at Tahoe), so she picked me up that afternoon in LA and I went back to San Diego. Walter and the kids stayed with my sister in LA for the night.

Are you exhausted yet? I was. Let me tell felt REALLY GOOD to sleep in my own bed.

When you live in San Diego...LA is something you endure, or avoid on your way to other places, or perhaps you try to get to a part of it for an event or a meeting, and you pray to the traffic gods that you don't get stuck in some gridlocked traffic nightmare, and while there are plenty of very cool PLACES in LA, it never really occurred to us to take a vacation there. But we had a few days of vacation time to spend, and some pretty disappointed kids (and a sister in law), so we Vay-Kay'd in LA...

The plan was for me to go back to San Diego, get the car, and return to LA the next morning...but I'd been going, pretty much non-stop, for over a week, so let's just say that I didn't get back to LA the next day until afternoon, but I eventually made my way to meet up with Walter, the kids, my bro and sis in law and their kids the next day at Universal Studios.
Mandatory tour bus through Universal Studios back lot (which was actually very cool).
The next day, we went to Griffith Park and the observatory, which was also super cool and was a totally unexpected thing. The observatory had some really excellent exhibits (and we were a group that included everyone from my 3 year old niece to my 16 year old nephew, to some's not always easy to make a large group happy, but we ended up spending three hours there.
There's a Hollywood sign behind us somewhere....
Nephews, a son, and a daughter
After the observatory, we headed down to Hollywood Blvd, to have some lunch, look at the stars in the sidewalk, handprints in concrete in front of the Chinese Theater, and other Hollywood Blvd eccentricities.
My SIL, DG, and me across from the Kodak Theatre...where is our red carpet?
OH...and if that wasn't enough...After THAT we decided to head downtown to LA Live because Walter heard that it was entertaining. The X-Games would take place over the weekend, so we got to see some of the skateboarders and BMXers do some practice runs.

We decided that knee pads and learning how to fall were probably pretty essential to skateboarding on insanely high ramps.

We drove home that night...tired, but pretty satisfied. It hadn't been Chicago, but wasn't bad for a last minute, substitute vacation in LA.

So...there you have it...two very crazy weeks. To be honest, its been equally busy since we got back...but at least it's all been in the same time zone!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Rest of the Story...Three Days at Tahoe

When I last wrote (what? a two week hiatus? WTF is up with THAT Alice?), we had finished the Napa to Sonoma half-marathon and done our last wine tasting at the post-race festivities.

That day Betty and I said goodbye to Mik and Elsie, who had to head back to SoCal to go to work (nasty four letter word), and we packed up the car, our girls, all our wine, and headed to North Lake Tahoe and Momma's cabin.

It was THERE, that we got to rest. Wel...sorta.
Mountain stream that runs near Momma's cabin....LOTS of water this summer. LOTS!
Momma and Betty on one of our walks...that's a patch of snow behind JULY!
Let's just say that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful areas. We took walks through the mountains. We went to the beach at King's Beach. The water was friggin cold, but I was willing to swim in it because it's fresh water and you don't feel all salty and crusty when you get out.
Nice panoramic shot of the beach at North Tahoe. It's unbelievable to me that those mountains STILL have a fair amount of snow on them.
It wasn't all sitting around and walking. One morning Betty and I went to play Pickleball, which is sorta like playing Ping Pong (or Table Tennis for those of you are aficionados), but you're on a court.
Blurry action shots courtesy of DramaGirl
Why is it that Betty looks like an athlete and I look like I'm out for a cup of tea?
I had never even heard of Pickleball, but one of Momma's friends was an AVID player and he asked Betty (the athletic one) if she wanted to play a pickup game....and Betty took me along. I want to make it clear that I did NOT embarrass myself or Betty. Pickleball, it turns out, will be taking the country by storm. I thought it would be more of a drinking sport (like Over the Line....or Golf), but it turns out that you can actually work up a sweat playing Pickleball. In fact, the next day, we both had some achy muscles, having used muscles that are not normally used during running.

But mostly, we hung out and relaxed. We watched way too much Bravo one afternoon (and Betty and I drank some of the wine we had with us). It was wonderful.
Our last day...lunch with Millie and Betty at Tahoe City
DramaGirl and me at the Tahoe City Dam, where the lake becomes the Truckee River
The next morning, DramaGirl and I left for our next destination...Kansas City. We left from Reno on a 6:20am, at the butt-crack of dawn, flight. Betty drove like a bat-outta-hell to get us to the airport in time because I completely lost track of time and we didn't leave Momma's cabin until about 5:10...and it's about a 45 minute drive to Reno from her do the map.

All I can say is thank goodness that Reno has a small airport.

Thanks so much to Betty for driving and for all the adventurs...and especially to Momma for letting us stay with her. It was WONDERFUL.

Next up: Kansas City - HOT, HOT, HOT and HUMID. (also...I won't wait two weeks to write about it...I promise...I really need to get caught up with this before school starts).