Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to Keep Sane During a Northeast Winter - Part 1 - Swimming

I recently went to my first Philly chapter meeting for my profession, called the QRCA (Qualitative Research Consultant Association), which was basically a bunch of people that talk and listen for a living while using psychology to understand what you REALLY mean. As with any meeting, there are always introductions. The person running the meeting always needs to get creative and try to think of witty ways to make everyone comfortable and laugh such as:
  1. "Everyone go around the room and tell me three things about you, two of which are true and one that is not. Then we each have to guess which isn't true..." (this is a personal favorite - I love to see corporate people squirm when I give them my three: run marathons false, play field hockey true and going to local metal-core shows true)
  2. "Introduce yourself and tell us all what you do in your free time...." (yawn)
  3. "Go around the room and introduce yourself and tell everyone your educational background and achievements" (a pissing contest among everyone as they all try to one up each other).
So as I awaited in anticipation for how I was going to prepare my witty response to these sometimes ridiculous questions that I find embarrassingly fun - the woman said...wait for it...

"Everyone introduce yourself, tell us your company, where you are located AND what three things keep you sane over this winter we have had so far." (AHHHH a little different, I liked it...)
As I listened I learned how healthy my profession actually is: snow shoeing, long brisk walks, cooking soups and stews, biking indoors on a trainer (yes, I found cycling friends), drinking wine and port....

It was getting to me and oh, I had so many (including smart ass comments) so I narrowed it down:
  • Swimming in the pool (somehow makes me think of summer even though I don't do it a lot and I couldn't say running on the treadmill since it DOES NOT keep me sane nor does sitting on my bike in my living room while watching TiVo - just being honest)
  • Cooking clean and healthy recipes
So since that meeting, I decided to break this post into three parts: Swimming, Cooking Clean and yes, I know you are waiting for it MissFancyPants' Winter Beer List so you can either one or read them all - I think I have some varying target audiences as us marketers like to say.

I really need to work on better swimming technique. This will obviously make me move at a better pace (I can't say faster since I was never fast to begin with). There are so many things to think about already like "high elbows," "reach," "strong pull," "rotate your body - don't fish tail."

I was at the gym the other day and Germaine, the best swimming instructor that I know, was coaching some kids in the lane next to me. I thought he was going to say

"Hey Heather, watch and learn from this 8 year old"

BUT instead he told me that my hand was not entering the water deep enough and that by doing that I would move forward. I tried that and it did work, I shave a couple seconds off of my already slow 100's. About 1,000 yd later I hear him trying to get my attention again. This time he was saying that I was not moving smooth in my rotation and pull, that I was putting all this emphasis on the rotation but I was almost stopping before my pull which was slowing me down. So as I neared the end of my workout, I concentrated on that on my cool down.

Two days later, I went back to the gym during the "next" snow to work on what he told me. This time instead of doing some workout incorporating drills and all my accessories, i.e. kick boards, pull buoys, paddles, I decided to just swim, no timing, just swim for 2000 yd. I broke it up into 300's and 200's and 100's but all in all I wanted to focus on those two points, moving forward and my rotation. I felt faster and more fluid. I know I have a lot to work on and definitely need some more lessons, but I felt happier and more confident than I have in a while. And then I stumbled upon Sonja Wieck's swim post where she embedded a video of Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen of Aquatic Edge, a master swimmer. I watched it the other night was so inspired. She glided through the water and I loved how you can see the "how to." I can't wait to hit the pool. I think "seeing" someone move like she does pulls together all of your learning. I thought I would share this as well.

Lastly, I decided to re-open the book Total Immersion that I started to read last year and well, I have to say those Sookie Stackhouse books and the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo series took precedence for a while...

Since I just reopened it, I don't have much to say but it seems very instructional regarding rotation and being more efficient. It also has some drills. I will let you know as I go...

Until then stay tuned for part 2 of keeping sane during winter - with my Cooking Clean post!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kickin' it Ole' School

I'll tell you what - working out really makes me happy. The whole endorphin rush is completely true. I haven't really been able to run a lot due to the plantar fascitiis and the sprained ankle. This really got me down for a while.

So on Monday, I got a little high with a little help from my I didn't do smoke any Mary Jane...I went to Lululemon in Philly with Christine and Nicole to buy our 1/2 Marathon "outfits." I called my brother to check with him on the normal New Orleans weather and he said 40-60...well that helps a seriously - it helped a lot in making me spend more money :)

We had so much fun, we got two outfits:
  • The first was the "in case of warm weather outfit" - short sleeves and the runner hustle crop (BTW - I tried them today and they were great!)
  • The second was the "in case of cold weather outfit" - long sleeve and hat and then the same capris.
We are kind of banking on the warm weather because we also bought the "groove pant" that works nicely with the long sleeve so that we can wear it to the after-BBQ at my brothers. We can look like complete dorks all dressed the same...

So, that helped get me happy and the rest of the week I pulled in some quality cross-training sessions:
  • Swim of 2000 meters with some interval work in between of 100's
  • A couple spin classes
  • Weights
  • P90x - core synergistics which was AWESOME!
I am now ready with my 1 week off of running for today's endeavor on the dreaded treadmill, otherwise known as the "dreadmill". In order to prepare me for that I made a little mix last night that will hopefully get me through. I was trying to think of a theme and my high school days kept coming up in my head. Yes, I was in HS from 89-93 when big hair was cool (I am talking about the perm complete with gel, mousse and AquaNet hairspray that is teased with a "wall" in the front - see photo below).
(That's me third from the left in the back row)

I thought back to my HS track team days and the songs I would play in my head in order to get through the runs - we didn't have no MP3's in those here is what I came up with...

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Friday, January 14, 2011

2010 - A Very Good Year

I have been extremely lazy of posting just excuses...Anyway, just wanted to wrap up my 2010. It is so funny to think about how we dramatize each little situation, when each situation is so small in the big picture.

I only had 3 injuries last year which in reality only caused me to miss 1 race! My bruised ribs in January from field hockey, a pulled back muscle which made me drop out of the April 1/2 marathon and my recent flare up of plantar fascitiis.

During my short sabbatical from running, I thought about what I accomplished and was giddy just thinking about next year!
- 4 Triathlons (2 Sprints, 1 Olympic, 1/2 Ironman)
- 3 Running Races (5K, 10K and 10 miler)
- PR in 3 races - Parvin Sprint by 7 min, Marlton Lakes Sprint by 2 min (4th in AG), Elizabeth Haddon 5K by 2 min (4th in AG)
- I did my first 1/2 Ironman and loved every minute of it - through the rain, pain, GI issues and calf cramps I finished and it wasn't last!!
- I rode HILLY 65 miles for a bike tour, which was the longest I ever rode.

Christmas was awesome - we had a blast, we were busy, but it was so nice to not have a full marathon hanging over my head to cause any unnecessary stress, I still got in some quality workouts with my trainer, swimming and strength training and was able to start running again the week after Christmas. My mental state was better that I did not have to run 16 miles+ on a treadmill during our constant flow of snow/ice...

We had our Christmas Eve dinner at my Grandpop's which consisted of the 7 fishes...I made my sought after "Tuna Balls" or Tuna Croquettes in Tomato Sauce from la Cucina Italiana.

Christmas Day was fantastic. I had Mike go through a scavenger hunt to find beer and a tasting paddle and a photo album of all the various beers he has tasted this year...

And then he asked me to go outside, and I found this.....

He said everyone chipped in for my Xmas gift so that he could upgrade the wheels as well...he said once I finished my 1/2 Ironman in September he knew he had to get me this...of course, I was also told I had to place in some problem!!!!! It's was just what I wanted - my April post when I was keeping my eye on the prize...
After that it was kind of all in 3D....
We had Christmas day dinner with the LaCouture's...
Christmas week was busy with parties and a New Year's wedding for one of the "8" - Amy!
and they had a photo booth, and well you know how we think the paparazzi follows us...
and I somehow woke up in my hotel room with a giant bottle of jager and developed a homeless look.

We finalized the New Orleans trip for the 1/2 marathon - I can't believe it's January! I am finalizing my plans for 2011 and think it will be one hell of a year - I should have that completed by next blog post this weekend.

In the meantime, I just added injury number 1 for 2011 - I was determined not to do the dreadmill today and went outside, 1 split second on not paying attention = twisted ankle. Nothing serious, just a few days of icing, elevating, ibuprofen and drinking should do it - lol.
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