Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kite Festival

So this also happened this weekend.  Super fun!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Last week rundown

As I was waxing poetic and nostalgic last week I was wandering away from the meat of the plan.  The day after tomorrow is April, y'all.  We've got 3 weeks (THREE WEEKS!!!!!! EEEEPP!!) til the MS150 and one month til my first post-baby tri.

So last week I did:
Monday: 3.2 mile run with a little walking.  But the distance was covered.
Tuesday: 1400 yard swim, no prob.
Wednesday: 2.25 mile run, focusing on running longer intervals and faster.
Thursday: 1400 yard swim, did I mention I love swimming?  Oh, and also I woke up early so I did yoga that morning.
Friday: P90X3 MMX.  I know, I was supposed to run.  But I just didn't want to, and I thought it might be nice to mix it up a little.  This definitely taxes my aerobic system and my legs and ass, so I figured it'd work.
Saturday: 26.6 mile HILLY freaking ride.  Yes, I planned to do the 40-something route.  No, I didn't do it.  I just didn't want to.  And I had a busy weekend and it would have killed most of the day.  And did I mention, HILLS?  (Btw Head for the Hills is an absolutely lovely MS150 prep ride.  Highly recommend!  The bluebonnets were out, it was a gorgeous day, the hills are great training, and the local fireman make a good burger for lunch after.  Really nicely run.)  The good news is I never walked, and I love my new brakes.  The bad news is I'm still fighting my big ring shifter and I need that sucker for big hills.  There were 3 hills where I ended up in the easiest possible gearing combo, going about 4mph.  But I didn't walk.  I win.

This week the plan is very similar, except I think I'm going to drop the Thursday swim in favor of MMX and then add back in the Friday run (but I'll switch that to Yoga if I'm feeling especially run down).  I would prefer to swim twice BUT it looks like rain on Thursday, plus I'm going to have a kid-free night and swimming makes me get home later, which I don't want to do because I want to go see a movie or something.  So you know I'm still sane - not sacrificing fun in favor of exercise.  At least on Thursday. ;-)

Friday, March 27, 2015

You, sir, are my brick wall

So yesterday I was swimming along happily in my beautiful new pool.  A cold front had come through earlier in the day and my arms were cold but the water was perfect.

Swimming is so therapeutic for me.  I just one-two-three-breathe myself into a sort of hypnosis.

And then, a fastie came into the lane next to me.

Do you want to know what the equivalent of a headwind in the pool is?

The fastie next to me, doing the 'fly, when he was coming towards me.

Brick. Wall.

It wasn't really that bad, though.  I mean I'm not upset about it.  It is good tri practice, swimming with people around, making waves, making brick walls... everything is good practice.

But I was sort of waxing poetic about biking and swimming and brick walls and losing count of my laps and I ended up trying to make a haiku about brick wall dude and do you know what?  Haiku is to swimming and breathing as Sudoku is to my job.  Apparently I can't do them at the same time. 

At. All.

So now we know that too.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Sudoku Lobe

I made an odd realization yesterday.

I work in a very detail oriented job.  Most people don't seem to understand what I do, and this isn't what I do, but I think a computer programmer (coder) would be the closest approximation.  Very detailed.  Miss a tiny thing and must go back and fix it.  That sort of thing.

I have a Sudoku app on my phone, and about halfway into my job break, I started playing again.  For no apparent reason.  But I really started playing.  Playing for speed.  Playing to learn to play better.  Devoting real time to it each day.  I think there was a part of me that also felt like I was keeping myself mentally fresh.

What I realized yesterday is that I stopped, almost as soon as I started working again.  I tried a few times, but didn't seem to be able to hold my focus.

A few months back I went to hear one of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, speak when he came to town.  And one of the things he said was that he wasn't able to write when he was working a certain kind of day job - I think he actually said computer programming.  And the only thing he could figure was that it used the same part of the brain as the writing.

I think that is what this is.  I think when I am doing this sort of job, it is using the same part of my brain as Sudoku uses.  The logical part that loves putting everything into nice orderly rows.  That part is used up (completely) every day.  Therefore, no more Sudoku for me.

Weird, right?

(I guess I need to find some sort of game app that doesn't use my work brain.  No idea what that would be though!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Sometimes I feel... I don't know if nostalgic is the right word.

I think it may be born in loneliness?

Did you know starting a new job is lonely?  Both lonely and for the introverted, frighteningly not-lonely.  Lonely because you don't know your place, and you don't know these people, so even if they are actively trying to include you, there is no familiarity or trust.  So energy-draining.

I think when I'm in this mental space, I have a tendency to look back on those who have been important in my life and miss them.  Or maybe not miss them, but miss that sense of what we had.  Or maybe sometimes not even miss what we had.  Maybe just sort of wonder at it.  Like wow, that happened.  That happened so long ago - was it really real?

I have a tendency to lose people.  I think it is because I am not a reacher-outer.  There are some who have passed out of my life who were vitally important in making me who I am today.

Sometimes when I'm in this place, I think of them and I wonder: do they think of me?  Did I impact them as they did me?

Monday, March 23, 2015

On with the plan!

Ran 3.2 miles this morning at closer to a 12 minute pace.  Ran 5/walked 90 seconds.  Took 40 minutes total.

Before I fell asleep last night I was envisioning myself stepping out of the house and sort of loping into a smooth strong run.  I could feel power in my core.  I had excellent posture.  I was strong.

I don't know if that is what helped, or if it was the most perfect 55 degree temperature, or the accidentally waking up 15 minutes before my alarm which ensured I had plenty of time, but I felt good this morning.  Really good.  I probably didn't need half of those walk breaks, but I took them anyways because the goal was the distance this morning, not the speed.

Really excited to have the "longer" run done on a Monday so I can not worry about it for the rest of the week!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wet and Windy Ride

The forecast for Saturday called for rain, rain, and more rain.  The ride forecast called for our longest ride of the season - R2R was offering 50 or 70 mile routes.

They altered the course again the day before, having us ride the 12 miles to rest stop 1, then turn around for a 24 mile route that we could then repeat if we chose to.

I was hoping I'd go for 48, but standing at the start line, cold, knowing it was going to rain, watching riders opt out of riding in favor of being SAG support.... I just knew 24 was all that was in the cards.  And that is frankly ok, because I rode freakin' 62 last weekend.

Then I remembered my post about worrying about not being fast enough for tris, and I thought, ok, let's go for it,  Lets kind of blow our wad today.  Try to get in 60 miles of pain in only 24.

And so it was.  I actually think I could have happily gone for the 48 if it wasn't so absurdly windy and if somehow we weren't riding into the wind for like the ENTIRE route (except for maybe the 2 most glorious miles I've ever experienced).  It was just soul sucking.  And it didn't matter how hard I freaking pushed, 12mph into the wind was all I had.  All. I. Had.

The whole MS150 isn't going to be into a headwind, is it?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tri Training

In the fear of the MS150, it has kind of been lost in my mind that in a fit of insanity, I signed up for a triathlon at the beginning of May.

Up until I went for that first swim, I was most worried about the swim leg, just due to general rustiness.  But I swam again yesterday, and really, the swim is going to be no problem at all.  I swam 500 straight, twice, the first time in 11 minutes and the second time in 10 minutes.  That is basically race pace for me when I'm fully trained.  I must reiterate how absolutely stunning it is to find myself in good swim shape after such a long lay off, but there it is, I'm going to try not to look the gift horse in the mouth.

So that leaves me with 2 concerns.  The first is the bike.  I am not at all worried about the distance.  Not. At. All.  However, I need to be a bit faster.  Now I think I can be.  What I remember of the course is quite flat, and I am hoping that if I use my philosophy that won me my 5K PR all those years ago - if I use up 75 miles of biking energy in 15 miles, surely I'll be faster than when I'm riding to go far.  But I will not be clipping in this year, for the first time in a tri, so that is also a factor, since I know clipping makes me faster.  What I would really love is to find a short course somewhere where I could actually try to ride a short fast ride and gauge where I am.  Perhaps if the R2R ride gets cancelled tomorrow, I can make that happen on Sunday.

The second concern is the run.   Once again I'm not worried about the distance.  After all these years, it is amazing to say, 5K doesn't phase me.  It is hard to be scared any longer of a distance when I know the worst that happens is I walk it.  But I don't want to walk it, and I'm not well trained on the run right now.  This morning I think I averaged 14 min/mi?  Running and walking.  Sooo... I have what, 6 weeks?  And we know that a lot of that, in terms of weekends, will remain tied up in MS150 training.  However I will have a tune up 5K on April 16, BUT I need to not blow my legs for MS150 since it is only 2 days before, so I'll be running that conservatively.  What if I did two runs per week for the next few weeks, one in which I don't go 5K but I try to go faster, and the other in which I do go 5K and I try to minimize walking?  Part of the problem is I'm not getting my ass out of bed fast enough in the mornings.  I need probably 40 minutes to be comfortable with 5K... I'll work on that.  I'm not trying to go crazy here - but if I could get a 30ish minute 5K time for the tri, that would make me really happy.

So, ok, the tentative plan for the next 3 weeks (before conference and MS get thrown into the mix):
M: Run 5K
T: Swim
W: Run for speed
R: Swim
F: Run easy
S: Bike FAR
S: Off or Yoga

I can always do a morning bike on the trainer on swim days, too, since I'm swimming in the afternoon, but I don't want to lock that in - I still am wanting to be mentally flexible and am trying to be careful not to ask too much of myself.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

First Swim in ForEVER

So I have a new job.  And the new job provides me low cost access to a gym with a VERY nice outdoor pool that is open year-round and is about 2 blocks from said job.   This is no small thing, since I think it is well documented how much I looooooove to swim, how well it helps me control my weight, and did I mention how much I love it!!??

What I do not love, however, is going to a new gym.

So last week I girded my loins and made it in the door, took one look at the line at the overtaxed front desk, and turned around and walked out again.

Hey, I never said I was proud of my social awkwardness.  I just... couldn't.

So this week I packed all of my lonely swim stuff, tried to think of all the variables, and committed.  Thank goodness when I walked in, there was no line.  So I walked up, said I was new, and asked to be shown around, and THANK YOU to the super friendly girl who did just that.  Then I changed and armed with my success, walked out to the pool and up to the lifeguard to asked about the unwritten rules of pool use.

Because - have I mentioned? - that was my experience at the Y.  It was all unwritten, but it was a 4 lane pool, inner two lanes were for the fasties.  Outer two were for the pokies.  There was often lane sharing, and if there was, you were to keep to one side if there were two peeps, but if you went over two, you began circling.  And on and on we go.

Now I'm not convinced that I know everything about new pool.  BUT it wasn't super mega crowded at 3pm on a Tuesday, I didn't have to share a lane, I had a lovely swim, and I know enough things hopefully now not to make an idiot of myself.  That'll do for the first outing.

Oh, and did I mention that my swim was simply lovely?  It was a beautiful sunny day.  The water was cool but not cold.  I was having some goggle issues, so my first 500 took 12 minutes, but really that isn't bad for not actually really training in... years!  And then I lost count.  I swam for 30 minutes and I didn't care about counting and I just went back and forth until my mind was nothing but 1-2-3-breathe and it was juuuuuuust glorious.

I am so very happy to be swimming again!

(Oh, also, I don't know if I've mentioned, but my body has been surprising me.  I've been shocked, literally shocked, at how well my body is adapting to the cycling training.  I am always same-day sore, but by the next morning, I'm simply tired but not sore.  That is seriously cool, given that running for me is a 48 hour soreness.  Additionally, this first swim, based on all the other first swims I've had in my life, should have been pretty rough in terms of breathing.  Normally when I've been off for a long time, I can just barely eke out 500 and I spend half my time clinging to the wall gasping.  Now I wasn't trying to break any speed records the other day, and I was in deficit, but it was never to the level of gasping, and I reckon I got in AT LEAST 1200 before throwing in the towel and frankly I think I could have kept going.  So my guess is all the cycling, even though I don't think of it in that way (because it doesn't kill my aerobic system like running) has been doing good things to my fitness level, and that is just very cool.  I love it when I can see real progress!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review: The Plan for Unemployment

Now that Unemployment (WINNING!) is over, I thought I should revisit and see how we did.  Here we go:

Project 1: Repainting the master suite.  As of my last writing, the only thing left was the water closet.  The only thing remaining is STILL the water closet.  (Something tells me we may have a mustard yellow water closet for a loooooong time....)

Project 2: Build a square foot garden.  2 boxes are built with soil in place.  2 more have boards cut and just need to be built.  Raking was accomplished and did serve as the bottom layer of the two existing boxes.  I am very pleased with this, honestly, given how crappy the weather has been.

Project 3: Painting kitchen cabinets.  I had estimated a week for this.  I am an IDIOT.  Woooooow.  I think when all is said and done, it ended up being more like 4 weeks of 4-6 hour days.  I used Americana Décor Chalky Finish Paint, and I ran into every issue in the book.  First, I discovered that it took me about 2 hours to paint out an entire 8 oz container, so I tended to work in 2 hour increments.  Second, one container will cover about 7 cabinet doors.  Third, it takes THREE coats to really get a nice finish.  Fourth, no one vendor has enough of this paint to accomplish an entire kitchen, so I went all over the freaking place buying all that everybody had.  I used Home Depot, Amazon, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby.  I found that when the paint was old, it really freaking sucked, and there was no way to tell from the container if you were getting nice fresh paint, or old crappy paint, so that was massively disappointing.  The older stuff is way gloopy and no amount of stirring, shaking, etc, was able to fix it, so some of my cabinets have a new and unexpected texture.  I'm trying to just get over it.  It is part of the charm, right?  RIGHT!!???  With the bitching out of the way, I'm really thrilled with the final look of my cabinets, and cannot recommend it highly enough if you have time and want a new look for any set of cabinets.  I think I did the whole kitchen for $500 - about $200 of that in paint, and $300 in new hardware.  Great way to redo a kitchen on the cheap!  (Now I just need new countertops and backsplash....)
Minor Project 1: Hanging work quilts. Done.

Minor Project 2: Setting up fish tank.  Got stymied by ordering new plastic thingies for the glass top.  Ordered wrong size, right size is backordered, yadda yadda yadda.  Will make an attempt to pick this back up shortly.
Minor Project 3: Getting stuff off floor in office.  Made serious progress.  Not entirely done but it is waaaaaay better.  This involved closet re-org and a better use of that space.

Minor Project 4: Distributing contents of boxes.  That really should have been a major one.  I did a little of this, but yeah... lots to go.

Minor Project 5: General clean and de-clutter.  Did manage the kitchen before starting to paint the cabinets.  Really need to find a way to KEEP it that way, which is the true struggle in life.

Minor Project 6: Box for AD light.  Fail, but have the wood cut.
All in all, I'm very pleased with how I spent my time off!  I was able to stay busy but I did also take a vacation and a few days here and there to be lazy.  Nice balance of productive and rest, and most importantly, for me, the mindless manual labor of painting was soothing to my rather battered (from the last job) soul.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tour de Houston Ride Recap

So going into the Tour de Houston I was suffering from a confidence low.  I had 3 rough weeks of training: a trainer week, a rain week with low mileage, and a hill week with medium mileage that killed me.  I had signed up for the 60 mile route, and I planned on going out with the 60 milers, but I was fully prepared to drop to the 40, and actually planning on it, until the day before.  When I visited Adron and his family, all of whom encouraged me to go for the 60, and his lovely wife, who reminded me there is always the option to SAG if I go for it and can't finish.

I wasn't 100% comfortable with the SAG option, so I talked with P about it that night and made him promise that if I went for it and needed him, he'd fetch me.  He promised, and with that in pocket, I decided that I'd decide at the second rest stop.

The morning of the TdH I woke with a typical race day grumpy tummy.  I left my house 90 minutes prior to race time, and that was perfect.  I parked in Lot H, which was probably the farthest option from the start, but the only one I was sure I could get to without encountering rought traffic or road closures.  That is one complaint I have: the City did not do a good job posting road closures on the website.  I decided to walk my bike to the start because the roads were not closed or monitored from parking to the start (which would have been a nice touch), and we all know how I love traffic.  I felt a little goofy, but it was the right choice for me. 

Got to the start, visited the Honey Buckets, posed for a team pic, and got in line.  They were doing a wave start, but there were So. Many. People.  I just didn't see how it could possibly be really working?  They didn't really give guidelines as to what speeds they were starting when, so I waited about 12 waves and then jumped in.  I started at the back of my wave, as is my preference.

Everybody who drives in Houston knows the roads are crap, but WOW, you don't really know til you've had a tiny bike seat up your butt as you try to navigate the cracks and bumps without ending up on the ground.  Within the first mile I ended up in a crack and my bike kind of jumped out of it?  It is a miracle I didn't wipe out. 

It was also sooooo crowded at the beginning, even with the wave start.  Just a lot of bodies trying to settle into position in one lane.  I was white-knuckling it essentially all the way to the second rest stop.

Where I decided to go for 60, like a crazy person.

It was muuuuuuuuuch lonlier after that.

Here is the quick run down on stats/food/feeling for my future reference:
Rest stop 1: 11mi, 53 min, ate half banana, drank Gatorade, used buckets, felt totally fine.
Rest stop 2: 23.6 mi, 1:53 min, ate half banana, pretzels, drank Gatorade, used buckets, felt pretty good.
Rest stop 3: 38.6 mi, 3 hours flat, ate pretzels, 4 peanut butter crackers, 2 oreos, used buckets, was starting to feel a little rough.
Rest stop 4: I don't have any clue - I missed it, as did EVERYONE around me.  And that really really really sucked because I NEEDED it badly and was counting on it.
Mile 52: Saw Adron's wife and brood and felt momentarily rejuvenated from the hardcore bonking that was in progress.
Mile 56: Sweat or sunscreen got into left eye.  Copious tears.  Trying to ride with one eye open, right eye becomes irritated by wind.  See cop up ahead, pull over to get it under control.  Cop was soooo nice.  Came over to see if I was ok, offered me water.  I must have looked a mess - crying big fat baby tears.  But it cleared up pretty quickly with some rubbing and on I went.
Mile 58: Saw Adron and wife and brood and almost stopped, but only 2 miles to go, so hey, kept on riding despite being unsure I'd be able to stand when it was over.
Mile 62: Finished.  4:55 for the whole shebang.

The good: The police officers at the intersections, for the most part, were totally awesome.  The signage was excellent - I was never afraid that I was lost.

The bad: The 3rd rest stop didn't have Gatorade.  Or if they did, they were out by the time I got there.  Either way, this really wasn't cool.  This was the only station that was just for the 60 milers and it should have been the best stocked, not the worst.  The roads blew.  Obviously there was a problem with that 4th rest stop marking.  I swear all the others had flags and cones and signs... I was LOOKING for all that.  Either I went temporarily blind or they failed to mark the 4th one.

The ugly: The course ran through some really terrible parts of Houston.  You'd think calling it the Tour de Houston they'd take you through some parts they would actually want people to see?  Instead Adron's wife and brood got to witness a SHOOTING while watching riders go by.  Seriously.  Before I even knew that, I was riding along at several points remembering Adron's wife telling me I could SAG and thinking, maybe, but I sure as hell couldn't here, and I hope I don't have a mechanical.  Really, really disappointing route.

But, I FINISHED!!!  6-freaking-2 miles.  And my confidence is back.  Yes, I was dead on my wheels by the end, but I'd only have had to go 15 more miles to be done for the day on the MS.  And that will be with more time, and I think better rest stops, and more training between now and then.  I'm going to be ok.  I'm going to make it.  And that makes me so happy!!!

Monday, March 16, 2015


Once again, I've been remiss.

A quick run down:  The weather has been less than ideal, shall we say. 

The week after the ride with Adron, I rode on the trainer because I was worried about riding in crappy weather.  2 hours on Saturday followed by 1 hour on Sunday, just to try to get my rear ready for back-to-back days.  While I like being able to watch TV and read while riding, it doesn't really simulate the road sufficiently for me to feel like I'm getting in great training, soooo....

The following week I went out despite the crappy weather.  It was around 50 and drizzly.  I had on 4? yes 4 layers including a somewhat waterproof windbreaker and I was MISERABLY cold.  R2R prides itself on safety so they modified the ride to 12 mile loops so that they could more closely monitor us in the crappy conditions and SAG us all quickly if lightning came into the area.  I think they said only 200 brave souls showed up.  Most quit after the first loop.  I went out for a second.  I actually really liked the little loop.  It was a nice rural area, some hills but not crazy, only a few turns, all right handers, and able to stop at my own car for each rest stop = good stuff.  This was also the very first ride where I spent almost all of my time in the big chain ring and really started trying to push on some parts for some speed.   (By no means am I fast, but I did start trying a bit.)  I really actually wanted to go for 3 loops but by the end of the second one it was openly raining and it just would have been stupid.  I must say I was so impressed by R2R's level of support.  I stopped at a stop sign on one of the right hand turns because I can get spazzy when there is traffic.  A few cars pulled up behind me and I was motioning them to go so I could take my time with my remount and feel mentally comfortable and I was asked by no fewer than 3 people if I was ok in the like 2 minutes I was stopped.  Now that's service!    As I said this was my first rainy ride, but other than the slightly slick road and need for more layers than would be expected from the temperature, it was pretty normal.  Oh!  I should also say, dry clothes are needed for after.  I had an hour's drive home and I didn't have anything dry.  I drove the whole way with my seat heater on and my heater on HIGH, as hot as it could get, and I was still shivering with blue lips when I got home.  I couldn't have known any better, but sheesh, that was messed up and probably dangerous and I need that to never happen again.

The week after that we headed to Huntsville for a little hill training.  They were only offering 30 and 50 mile routes and I was totally torn because I was really hoping for a 40-something to bridge the almost-40 I did with Adron and the 60 I wanted to do for the Tour de Houston.  I ended up settling on the 32 mile route, and BOY was I ever glad I did!  It is the first truly hilly route I've done and it SLAUGHTERED me.  It was awful.  I was having a really bad time shifting, and the first rest stop wasn't until 18, so I ended up essentially stuck in the big chain ring and blowing out my quads.  I stopped by the most excellent bike mechanic and he mostly fixed it.  By mostly I mean he got the rear shifting completely fixed, but the front chain ring still was a total bitch when I was trying to shift into the big ring, so after trying it twice, once again I was stuck in the big ring for the rest of the hills.  Oh, the hills.  First, within a mile of that rest stop, there was a beast of a hill.  One chick I spoke with at the rest stop said she thinks it is the hardest hill she rode in all of training last year.  So there's that.  It was sooooo long and steep.  I think I was going like 4mph when I got to the top.  Then I had to grump and plead and cajole my bike back into the big ring, arg!  They called the last part of that ride the "roller coaster" and it was so totally apt.  Endless upping and downing.  I was almost crying by the end.  Then when I had time to reflect on it later in the week it completely freaked me out, that I wanted to ride 60 miles in the TdH and I barely finished 32 the week before.

Next up: TdH recap.