Friday, July 29, 2011

Filling Out the Calendar

Now that summer is almost over (today is actually my last weekday of summer vacation, boo!) and I'm headed back to work, I've started thinking about what I'm going to have on my plate this fall. I'm trying to be better about scheduling and looking ahead, something I've not been too great at in the past.

So I started laying out all the events I'd like to participate in over the next 6 months or so, and I think I've got it pretty much figured out.

My "race calendar" is going to look something like this:

October 8, 2011 - Cactus Cha Cha Trail Run , Full Cha Cha (7 miles).  I've done the 3 mile mini Cha Cha, but haven't tackled the full Cha Cha before.  But I have seen the course mountain biking, so I know what I'm in for.

October 30, 2011 - Competitor AZ 10KAdvertised as a "warm-up" to the PF Chang's Rock 'n Roll AZ.  This race will be about just having a good time.

November 6, 2011 - Women's Half Marathon, I have to admit...this race is all about the medal.  Just look at it:

Isn't it divine??  And hello!  There's a COOKIE BAR at the end of the race!  Need I say more?  Plus I have some girlfriends joining me for this one.

November 24, 2011 - 8th Annual Southwest Valley Regional YMCA  Thanksgiving Day Triathlon, I've done this race a couple of times before.  It's a sprint triathlon, run backwards (run, bike, swim).  It's a lot of fun and since I've been swimming quite a bit, I have high expectations this time around.  I think the whole family (husband and kids) is going to participate in this one, so it will be fun.   

December 4, 2011 - Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas!!!  1/2 marathon.  I'd really like to come in right around 2 hours on this one.  This is a girlfriend's weekend away too, with my two best buddies joining me on the Strip.  It'll be a great time, that's for sure!  And we'll try to stay out of trouble...I promise!

January 15th, 2012 - Rock 'n Roll Arizona   My FIRST FULL marathon.  I'm excited. I'm scared.  My official goal:  just to finish.  But I've definitely got a time in mind.  Not ready to put it out in the Universe yet.

Notice there is nothing in August or September.  This is intentional.  I will be getting back into the swing of things at school and at home.  Also, the heat is KILLING me right now.  I am definitely not running as much as I would like right now.  It's just too miserable.  Arizona during monsoon (which is our "rainy" season) is's hot and humid.  Maybe not as humid as the south, but when you're used to dry heat, 30-50% humidity kills.

Anyway, this is what my fall/winter is looking like.  I'm excited!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming....

Cross-training.  We all know it's good for us.  But I have to admit, since I got into running, I tend to let everything else fall by the wayside.  It's just so easy to put on your running shoes and go.  Cross-training can take a little more forethought.

Enter the pool.

My kids are part of a fantastic swim team, the Westside Silver Fins.  It's a year-round club swim team, with kids ranging in age from about 5 and up.  We have wonderful coaches and a great facility.  The pool is located at our neighborhood YMCA, which is also the gym we belong.  Super convenient.  Kids can swim, parents can workout.

And even better, my two running buddies, Tracey and Monika, both have their kids on the team too.  And since we are at the pool 3 to 4 evenings a week with our kids, we might as well make use of that time.

Well, this year Tracey started swimming in the Masters program affiliated with the swim team.  And she has slowly drug me into it.

Now, I haven't taken a proper swim class since I was, oh...maybe 12?  I did start swimming some laps occasionally a few years ago so I could participate in a sprint triathlon, with the goal being just 400 meters without drowning.

I've been swimming Masters for almost a month now, and you know what?  I'm starting to really like it.  I'm still crazy slow, (although age modifiers fins certainly help) but I'm loving the workout that I'm getting.

I've read many times how swimming is the best full-body workout that you can get.  I have to agree.  I'm often sore in muscles I didn't know I had.  Experts say that you only have to swim 1/4 the distance you would run for an equivalent workout.  For example, swimming 100 m = running 400m.  I certainly believe it!

Not to mention the recovery aspect.  Getting in the pool and swimming has been a great recovery exercise.  It takes the pressure of your muscles and joints and works different muscle groups that can actually help with your running form and may help prevent injuries.  And there have been days where my legs are sore, and getting in the pool and just kicking helps tremendously.

Swimming and running just seem to complement each other nicely.  Swimming continues to be a challenge for me, but I like the changes I'm starting to see in my body, especially my upper body and core.  I'm really hoping that I reap the benefits from swimming in my running.

What about you? What is your favorite cross-training activity?

As for me, I'm going to just keep swimming!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Girl Power

Remember when I was debating with myself over how I should register for Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas, full or 1/2? Well, after much thought and a very insightful email discussion with Tricia, I registered for the 1/2.  The main reasons:  I don't want the Vegas race to be stressful ('s VEGAS.  It should be about FUN!), and as Tricia pointed out, the Vegas marathon has a pretty strict time limit which I don't want to have to worry about in my very first full.  

So what else did I do?

I registered for Rock 'n Roll Arizona.....for the full. Yes, I registered for my very first marathon.  This will be good for a few reasons.

1.  It's in Arizona in January, and the running weather in AZ in January is right up my alley.

2.  I live here, so no traveling.  My husband can pick me up at the end of the race and wheel me home on a stretcher drive me straight home to my own bath and bed.

3.  I have my support system here, namely my two of my closest friends and running buddies, Monika and Tracey.   They are both planning on running it too, although they are both much faster than me, so I only expect to see them at the start and the finish!

Tracey is our "guru" and main cheerleader.  This will be Tracey's 8th (I think!) marathon (she even did one while pregnant with her second son...she ROCKS).  Tracey is the one that I credit with all my running successes.  She drug me out on a mile run (which was tough for me at the time) about 4 years ago, and hasn't let me stop since.  When I finished RnRSD with a new PR, she was the first person I texted.  And she promptly answered back telling me how proud she was.  I think she was just as excited about my run as I was. That's Tracey...the most genuine and supportive friend you could ask for.

Tracey and I before one of our 1st races together....

Then there is Monika.  One of the most peppy and positive people I have ever met.  She's like a human feel happier just being in her orbit.  We leaned on each other a lot through RnRSD and I don't think I would have done as well as I did without her.  And this girl is up for anything.  Wanna try running a 1/2 marathon? "Sure!"  Wanna run a full marathon?  "Why not!?"  She's just not scared of least not outwardly.  And here's another great thing about Monika:  she can come up with song lyrics to fit ANY situation at the drop of a hat.  She is the soundtrack to our adventures. Top 40, classic rock, obscure 70s hits, bad elevator music....she knows it.

Monika and I after our first race together, Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas 2010

So it will be the three of us hitting the course in January.  Tracey the "Pro" and our steady rock, Monika the Entertainer, and me...the Nervous Nellie of the bunch.  Good times ahead, for sure.  We have some other races planned between now and then, and I know we're going to have a blast.

I scared, excited, and especially nervous about making this jump from 1/2 to full.  I waffle between "Of course, I can do it!" and "Holy hell, what am I thinking?"  Sometimes changing from one to the other in a matter of minutes.

But one thing is certain:  I'm looking forward to taking this BIG step forward in my running with two fantastic women.

Monika, Tracey and Me on the 4th of July

Friday, July 1, 2011

Back to Reality

Whew!  It's July already...where is the summer going?

We have been off on a whirlwind three week vacation.  And it not only ended up being a vacation from housework, children's activities, work, insane Arizona heat, and everyday life, it ended up being a vacation from working out too.

Oh sure.  I threw my running shoes and some workout clothes into my suitcase.  But I was simply too lazy busy to pull them out and put them to good use.

We started our vacation with a couple of days in New York City, hitting as many sights as we could: Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center just to name a few.

The kids in Times Square

We walked a TON.  And since I had completed the Rock 'n Roll San Diego 1/2 just two days before we left, I didn't feel guilty taking a break from working out.  

Next we boarded the luxurious Queen Mary 2 and set sail on the last remaining transatlantic ocean liner, bound for Southampton England.

Ready to set sail!  

Sure, there was a fitness center on board.  Sure, you could run around the ship on the observation deck (ummm...cold North Atlantic temps and very windy, no thanks!).  But I choose to spend my time exploring the ship, taking part in on-board activities, spending time reading (uninterrupted time...what a treat!), and enjoying the fabulous food (four course gourmet dinners every night!)  I still did quite a bit of walking and we always took the stairs, even if we were going from deck 2 to deck 14.  

After a week on the ship, we had two weeks in England, visiting my husband's family as well as quite a bit of sightseeing.  

We took the kids sightseeing in London for the first time (they've been to England before, just not into London). 

Along the Thames, with the Tower Bridge in the background

We took the Eurostar train to Paris for a couple of days (first time to Paris for the kids and I):

 On a cruise along the Seine

In front of the Arc de Triomphe

I enjoyed myself.  I ate what I wanted (and drank more cider, beer, and wine than I usually would) and chips, desserts, crepes, cornish pastys, sausages, breads, cheese, British bacon (so much better than the bacon we get here) etc.  But I didn't gorge myself.

Needless to say, I was scared to get home and step on the scale.

But to my surprise and delight, I only gained 1/2 a pound, which is nothing in the scheme of things.  Why?  Honestly, I think it was because of the lifestyle.  Lots of walking (including always taking stairs) and fresher (not processed) foods.  Not that I eat all that badly on a normal basis.  But there wasn't any fast food and very little soda (diet Pepsi has been my weakness), and no mindless snacking.

This is a trend I'm going to try to keep going at home.  It might mean more trips to the store than normal and more pre-planning on my part, but I think it's worth it.

Now that I've had a chance to recharge my batteries, it's time to get back onto the workout wagon....

Hope you are having a FANTASTIC summer!