Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back on Track

I feel like I am FINALLY triathlon training again after the four weeks of no running.  I guess I was technically aqua-bike training....Anyway, I was given the green light to start running last week on Wednesday and was able to get in 3 runs Wed/Fri/Sun with no pain.  On Sunday, I was able to do 5 miles with NO PAIN and could have gone longer but did not want to push it after Saturday's hill fest ride which I will talk about later.  This weekend I will attempt 7-8 miles of running and then do another brick on Monday before I start my pseudo-taper (because I feel like with all this work travel I have kind of already started).

My PT guy, Tim, said he wanted me to do 3 min run 2 min walk on Wed, then on Friday do 5 min run 2 min walk 6 times and finally, on Sunday to try 8 min run and 2 min walk 5 times. What I found interesting was that I was able to hold 9-9:20 min miles with no issue on my feet/legs and was able to hold that pace consistently on Sunday's run.  I can run an 8-8:20 min mile for a 5K but lately with all my issues my 1/2 marathon pace went from a 9:00 min pace to a 10 min pace over the past few years not due to breathing but because of pains. Every time I start progressing back to a 9 min pace - something happens...I would like to re-evaluate my running after this 1/2 ironman.  It has been extremely frustrating, because I know I can get faster.

This weekend I am going to do the 8 min run/2 min walk 8 times which has been equivalent to a little less than 10 min miles which I will be extremely happy if I am able to do for that for Vineman.  On Monday, I am going to do a 40 mile ride and 5 mile run since I haven't been able to get in any longer bricks over the past 4 weeks due to the injury.

This past Saturday, I did a charity ride in Bucks County, PA with my friend Katie.  The 50 mile had about 2600 ft of climbing so I thought that would be a nice training ride for Vineman considering it will only be 1100 ft of climbing there.  What's 1100 feet over 56 miles when I just did the Black Bear race with about 1000 feet for only 25 miles.  I am sure Vineman will be no joke but the more I train hills the better I will be for the race.

We knew this ride was going to be interesting when Katie got a flat at the before we even road.
And that's me doing the robot, because that is just how I warm up
We got to the first rest station at about 20 miles in and Katie asked if the worst of the hills were behind us.  The volunteers said yes...(LIARS)  They said that the rest was "not that bad."  In all honesty, I looked at the elevation on my Garmin data this week and we did about 47% of the climbing at that point; however, what made it worse was having mile 22 and 23 a straight 300 ft climb with no descent.  That was fun (she says sarcastically), and it was right after the rest stop, which I found that if I stop I DO NOT get rejuvenated and instead feel tight so this was not a fun feeling.

Anyway, the ride went through some beautiful areas of Pennsylvania, so enough complaining or whining, because although there was 2600 feet of climbing, there was a shitload of descents which I am slowly developing a strong love for going fast and not breaking unless needing to.  I have also improved my handling skills from these rides.

All in all, it was a great day.  Despite that Mike had to leave for San Diego on Thursday and was not going to be back until Wednesday which was after I would be leaving for Mexico (for work) on Tuesday and not seeing him till Friday :( 

This just meant compression socks and cuddling with the cat and dog.

My legs were toast and I was still able to run injury free on Sunday and did not slow me down for my best friend's birthday.  The girls all got together to drink, eat and watch the Season Premiere of True Blood...

OH and while in Mexico I found that I WON a blog giveaway from Untilyoutri - check out her blog - it's great.  And this is what I won from Allied Medals - check out their site - cool stuff!!  I can hang all my pretty medals in my office now!

Last but not least, I am enjoying the Mexican hospitality - and give a big thumbs up to Mexico City and Merida.  Interesting cities, my work is cut out for me, but I enjoyed learning the differences between another area of the world of the veterinary business.  I had to dig deep to try to remember various phrases and words but it was all worth it....

And not to mention, awesome guacamole!  Muy Bien!

As I now put my feet back up, put on my headphones (for translation not iPod) and listen & take notes to another focus group.

Notice the Pedro Garcia cute shoes...

Hasta Luego!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When Life Hands You Lemons....

When life hands you lemons....we make lemonade (well I would make it strawberry mint but you get the picture).  You have to roll with it.  As little grandmom Nero would say "que sera sera".....So I am and I haven't ruled out the running out of Vineman just yet.

Before Memorial Day, I had a pain in my calf/achilles area that led me to believe I had achilles tendonitis; however, I wasn't sure, since it did not completely travel to the heel.  The pain was on my inner calf on the left side.  I went to the orthopedic doctor who said he did not think it was Achilles tendonitis and instead recommended I see some guy name "Tim" at STAR physical therapy in Medford, NJ, the running guru.

I made my appointment and through a series of exercises and movements he pinpointed the issue, I had strained the flexor hallucis longis (huh???). The FHL goes from your big toe to your calf.  It bends the big toe when you curl up your feet.  It is used daily by pushing off the surface when walking or running. 
I over-pronate, I also wear orthodics which is supposed to "correct" the over-pronation.  However, I still run slightly over-pronating in my left foot.  So there is extra stress from the over-pronating thus causing a bunch of micro-tears by the calf.  Since no other exercise caused this pain, I was at least able to resume all my other activities.  I had to go back so he can use an ultra-sound and do some various exercises.  He also said that power yoga and strength training were going to HELP the issue. 

He had strong feelings that there was still a possibility that I could run in time for Vineman, but we have to not think about it as we worked on this issue. OK, I am inherently a happy go lucky person and as bitter as I get about falling down I try to roll with it, however, I am still type A when it comes to planning and training.  So I had to make sure I pushed type A to the side for a while.

I was given some exercises to focus on 2-3 times a week prescription
  1. Strengthening exercises with theraband - doing inversion and and eversion exercises.
  2. Toe-curls
  3. One-legged calf raises (3 x15)
  4. Calf stretching (holding for 20 seconds five times)
  5. One leg balance on uneven surface catching a ball 15 times
  6. One leg balance kicking leg out in 4 different directions behind me.
  7. 4 plane feet positions for squats (regular, toe in, toe out, 1 toe in and out (R/L) and regular) - 15 sets.
  8. Lunges (Right front, left front, right side, right back, left side, left back) x 15
I then did various upper body and core to even myself out.  Plyometrics hurts the area so I am not allowed to resume that until healed.

After my second visit on Thursday, we talked about aqua jogging since Mike and I have an in-ground pool.  You basically run in the water.  You really concentrate on your running form versus treading water.  When you are in deep water with only your head above, you are using 90% of your bodyweight.  It was going to be boring as hell but he told me how there have been elite and non-elite runners that have benefited and came back quickly at their same pace by aqua-jogging.  I was in - anything so I can get myself back into Vineman and try to do the whole race and not 2/3.  He gave me an aqua jogger which is a floating device around your waist.  Think adult swimmies...

Friday, we had some storms so I opted for another one of my kick my ass swims of anaerobic threshold workout from the Swim Workouts in a Binder for Triathletes which included a series 75's followed by pull sets, 50s, kick set, and more 50s...not to mention a 1000m warm up.  I then went immediately to the salon to get my roots done so no one knows I am actually a dark brunette.

I have added another swim and bike in lieu of running in addition to some strength training that I was formerly NOT doing anymore.  I have to say I feel stronger and faster and hoping the race at Vineman shows that at least in the first two legs. 

Sat, I had initially planned on leaving at 5:30am  and riding 60 miles to where I was SUPPOSED to race, with my friend driving me back, but I was having a hard time figuring out the route and too much time messing with my bike that I wasn't going to make it in time, so I opted for a local 55 mile loop.  The ride was really awesome and very picturesque as we passed tons of farms and open land and homes I can only dream about.  We got a little lost but thank God for google maps!!  NOTE TO SELF:  ASK FOR A BIKE GARMIN FOR XMAS....

After this, I was home in time for a lunch consisting of beer from our new kegs:  Dale's Pale Ale and Southern Tier Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale, grilled chicken salad and getting a tan by the pool with Mike and Nicole as Nicole recounted her first race of the season - little jealous....

On Sunday, I decided to try my hand at aqua-jogging.  I got my belt and did an hour session in my pool.  I set up the outside speakers with my playlist with a bunch of punk/grunge late 80s/early 90s music and "ran" to nowhere.  Sometimes I ran in circles in the deep end and after 5 times switched to the other directions.  I used the football to throw it and "sprint" to get it.

I have to say it was an excellent workout (considering I felt it the next day).  The therapist said yeah, start with 30 min....but WHO works out for 30 minutes?  I mean I haven't had a workout that short in years.  So I did an hour and I FELT it the next day.  I swam in the pool after and got ready for the Father's Day festivities at our house with the Cipolone's and LaCouture's!

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Black Bear - A Partial Race Report

First off, if you haven't followed me on twitter lately or facebook...I had some sort of running issue that felt like my achilles/calf and was a little worried about running on it.  I took off for 5 days (of running) over the Memorial Day weekend and just logged in many biking miles with no pain.  I had to go to Canada for work the week before the race and decided to try running in Toronto.

Sidenote:  If you are in Toronto, stay at the Westin Harbor, the have a morning run group at 6:30 am every morning during the week. 

I didn't have to be at the facility till 9am so I figured I would attempt a 3 mile run and see how and if it was still there.  I went running with another triathlete from the Westin and after about 1.5miles running about 8:00min miles it really cramped/pain in the same area.  OKAY - looks like I am NOT doing my first race of the season.  I decided that I would still go to the race and do the aqua-bike (the price of these races do not warrant skipping).  I was going to have fun and determine if I would do this ride next year!

Background on Black Bear....

This is the Olympic course, click the elevation to see.  I went to the website for Wildflower to see what the comparison was...pretty equivalent, so I decided on the road bike (after confirmation from many tweeters and facebookers).  I would have loved to take out the new bike but I was worried about my handling skills during the descents and quick turns.  I went for a long 60 mile hill ride a few weeks before so I felt very humble and had no expectations (that meant it was hard).  I did not feel I had adequate hill training but was going to play it by ear.

I really wished I read an article in Bicycling magazine (May 2011 pg 84 - "Climb Smarter") for anyone looking for hill tips.

Anyway, I really had no nerves but then thinking back I never have nerves the day before, I always TRY to act all calm, cool and collected.  I had planned on getting there the day before, stay with some relatives.  I was also planning on getting to do the "practice swim" on Sat.  Oddly, they had a bacteria problem and wasn't sure if the swim would still be on (meaning it would be a duathlon and that would mean no race for me)..I just wanted to do it, I didn't care if I raced or not, I was just so tired of reading my western and southern friends on twitter post about a race...I wanted to do one...

So, they decided late that night that the swim was on!!  Yeah!  It was going to be in a reservoir which meant the cleanest water I had ever swam in...LOL. 

I got there got my transition stuff together (without the running shoes) and went to the beach.  The cool part was that I was wearing my new team Triumph kit and people came and introduced themselves.  I saw my friend/coach Bill to say hi and went to the water.  I was looking for a couple friends which I found and I chatted profusely, which is what I do when I am EXTREMELY nervous.  I was in the last wave with the over 35 crowd...which plays into things later.


Everyone left and my wave went to start.  We all get out treading water and I freeze.  And the water was cold maybe about 60-62 degrees byt I had a wetsuit.  It is just that in a wetsuit I feel uncomfortable and can't move my arms. MENTAL NOTE - GET SLEEVELESS WETSUIT.  I get the normal "oh fuck" moment and try to figure out if I can back out of this.   I really WAS feeling confident, I feel like the swim has come a long way from - I can't swim to finally feel somewhat competent in the pool.  Anyway, I was hoping for a 30-35 minute swim by mere calculation including my anxiety attack....but it turned into a longer attack then anticipated.  It's the breathing. I know I should go in the water pre-swim, but I was more concerned with seeing someone I knew but I think I had a big learning....


Anyway, if I swam the entire swim as I did at the last 500m, I would have been fine. of the last 10 people probably out there.  I do want to say this is a very small race.  Anyway, I strutted (yes, strutted) into transition because I didn't know how my calve would feel up the 1/4 mile run in and out of T1. 

Okay so it is very difficult bein in the end.  There is a lot less people to pass, so you lose that competitive streak plus I kind of felt like I wasn't racing since I wasn't running which definitely puts a jinx on things.  It was HILLY.  Challenging but I remembered the hills and were they were from  The best line of the day was a dude at the top of the first long 5 mile climb that said "Welcome to Mt. Pocono."
I rode and did have to do the walk of shame ONCE for a minute maybe 50ft.  I accidently did not downshift before the last major steep hill and BAM.  I didn't go ANYWHERE!!!  I got to the first lip and rode the rest of the way.  I didn't feel too guilty because the two dudes I passed where walking behind me.  However, I think the highlight was the descents.  I felt so alive going 35mph and then had to quickly turn.  So fun!

All in all, despite the non-spectacular performance on my NON-RACE, I had a fun day and this will definitely be on my list for next year.  My legs felt great (but probably cause I wasn't racing) and would have loved to run and start passing people again.

As for the prognosis:  It is actually from my overpronation of my feet, the tendon that goes from your left big toe to your calve was stressed.  I only have 5 weeks till Vineman, and well, I have to be honest, I prepared alot and don't know if I will be running in time...It's a little depressing but it's life and I will deal...
I am going to wait and adjust my schedule when I figure out my running situation....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Recent Obsessions- Volume 3: MissFancyPants' Summer Beer List

Not sure how much you know about myself and my husband but we LOVE beer, good beer.
I am talking about craft beers not the mass market beers.  Not saying I am not into wines, because I am, I love a good Napa Cab or a fine Italian Barolo but beers have evolved so much over the past 5 years.  If you haven't tried a craft beer, I urge you to go to your local liquor/beer store and make yourself a 6pk.  Try some different beers.  And don't be alarmed when you see canned craft beers - like Oskar Blues and 21st Amendments - think of when you saw New Zealand and Australia start the twist-off caps of good wines. Not only are these beers amazing, but they are also party/beach friendly!!

At the end of April, Mike's um 36th birthday this year, I organized a Beer Bus Bar Tour that went to two great establishments that have excellent beer lists.
Mike, myself and my nephew (disclaimer:  he did not go to the bar)
Standard Tap

If you are in the city - both have great craft beer lists and food.  We picked those two since there was so many of us but there are a ton of great bars in Philly if you are looking for somewhere to go.

Standard Tap only has only local micro-brews (NJ, NY, PA, and DE) and uses local ingredients for the food menu.  To top it off it is in a great location - Northern Liberties.

Kraftworks was okay in terms of service but they had a great beer list and they do growler fillings.  They are located in the Fishtown area in Philly which is almost like a gem in a bad area.
Another great resource if you are going to Philly is  This shows you who has what on tap!  Genius!

To prove our beer-loyalty even more...our basement was refinished once we purchased the house to include a sound-proofed band room (I helped design using inspired colors from Type O Negative - that was my only creative contribution the rest of was the artsy husband).  The rest of the basement includes a dry bar, entertainment room, bathroom, etc.

My other $$ contribution was a couple Christmas presents I bought Mike (with selfish intentions) - double tap beermeister one year and then a single tap beermeister a year later.  Therefore we can have 3 kegs on tap at all times - EXCELLENT!! 1 holds 2 sixtel kegs (skinny kegs which many craft beers come in) and 1 holds a 1/4 keg for some "everyday" drinking beer.

I will start off the list with the three on tap.  They are incredible beers, two of which I cooked with rather recently.
  • Victory Headwater Ale - not only drinkable but also works when you simmer some fresh herbed chicken sausage.
  • Oskar Blues TenFidy - see previous post for my Ten-fidy pot roast which I must say was awesome.
  • Weyerbacher Double Simco which is a double IPA - it is very hoppy upfront but sweet as you drink it. 

    I don't know what it is but I have been addicted to Saison beers lately.  Did you know the reason why they call it a Farmhouse Ale?  Saison's were given to farmhands to keep them happy and hydrated during the summer.  Maybe that is why I LOVE it after a long bike or a track run workout...I do say it keeps me happy!!  Two that I especially fell in love with this year:

    • Yard's Saison (yup straight out of Philly!!) - excellent is all I had to say.
    • Great Divide Collette - Farmhouse Ale - little different - I would say this is less sweet and more lemony and grassy flavored.
    Some other yummy goodness....
    •  Left Hand Good JuJu - Left Hand does NOT disappoint AGAIN!!  It is more of a light ale with hint of ginger - it tastes amazing with sushi!! 
    • Oskar Blues - G'Knight - it's in a can (perfect for the beach) and a great Imperial Red - just great anytime beer.
    Some IPAs that are super good:
      • For the IPA Connoisseur:  Fegley's Hop'Solutely Triple IPA was also extremely good - too bad the keg is one of those short fat one's so we couldn't get it for the taps.
      • For the Belgium Lover:  Terrapin's Monk's Revenge is a Belgium style IPA - DELISH!!

        This May, American Craft Beer Week came and went.  I had some amazing beers that week when we went after a tri-club meeting to the Pourhouse in Colllingswood, NJ:
        • Great Divide Hercules Double IPA - GR8 IPA!!!  Hoppy - yes please!!  I loved it.  
          • Elysian Triacula - Strong Ale - it was pretty good, little bitter but sort of sweet with some grapefruit hint.
          • Founder's Double Trouble- this is like crack candy. Good IPA - you can taste a little caramel and some fruit.  Christine had this at the bar. Yummy.

          I have a couple darker beers for the stout and porter lovers.

          North Coast Brewery Old Rasputin Imperial Stout - is really amazing.  Screw the cafe latte when you can have one of these.

          Southern Tier Raspberry Porter - this was like having a chocolate raspberry dessert.  Mike asked me to taste a bite of some yellow cake (which I am not a cake fan unless it is carrot or some sort of fruit) and then have a sip of the raspberry porter.  This was pure heaven!

          Breckenridge Vanilla Porter - another dessert like beer - it is just a nice hint of vanilla and chocolate but not overpowering or too sweet.

           My last suggestion if you can STILL get it is the 14th Anniversary by Firestone.  Check out the website here for the ingredients!
          It is made of about 5 different beers (think of a California blend - syrah/cab/zin) most of it aged in bourbon.  One of the beers that is 27% of the Anniversary is the Parabola Oatmeal Stout which will be out this summer (we have a beer guy working on this for a keg).
          It's a strong beer but it is a great sipping beer, you don't want to chug down this fine beverage.  You want to get all the flavors, check out their sheet and see if you taste everything.  It's about $20 a bottle.

          Firestone makes a lot of great beers, we got our growler recently filled with Double Jack Imperial Pale Ale (excellent).

          There is so much more great beers that we tried so I am sure there will be a late summer addendum to the list!

          If you want to check out my other beer list posts or just follow my cloud with beer - I'm always posting about something!
          How to Keep Sane During a Northeast Winter
          Off-Season - Stockholm's Hidden Treasure

          Lastly, hold into to your hats!!  I am going to venture into the "making beer" realm, because I NEED another hobby...
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