Friday, February 22, 2013

How To Wake Up Before 5AM

I usually have to bribe myself to get out of bed in the morning. If the bribes aren't strong enough, or if my brain isn't awake enough to form a sentence within my own mind, well then I usually end up telling myself it's OK to go back to sleep. The days I allow this to happen are usually early on in the week when I have the whole week to make up a workout. However, lately the whole week is jam packed with specific training, so my brain doesn't have openings to fall back on. The bribing is in full effect. 

The number one easiest way to get myself out of bed is if the dog rises with my alarm and makes it known she needs to go. Her whining and pacing and eventual tongue in my face is a guaranteed method to get my butt up and out. There is nothing more effective than a 60 pound pit bull crying as she sits on your chest. 

This early of a wake up is usually for the pool since I have a very small window of opportunity being as their lap hours are from 5AM-7AM. I have an obsession with being early so if I'm not going to make it there by 4:50AM I'm not going. If you aren't 10 to 15 minutes early you are late in my book. This is why the alarm is set for 4:15AM. 

My favorite bribe is telling myself about the awesome nap I am going to get to take when I get home from the pool. Work doesn't start until 10 and if I don't have another workout planned, that leaves a whole lot of time to sleep. Naps are amazing. My best, longest running, and most creative dreams are during naps. Usually fighting some alien species that have invaded our planet or flying a plane that is about to crash into a snowy field filled with Grizzly bears and T-Rex. I have a problem with recurring dreams featuring Tyrannosaurus Rex, but that will be a story for another day. Having something to look forward to always helps early mornings not feel so much like... for lack of a better word... suck. You know you agree, waking up early feels like suck. Not like awesome just like suck. 

My third method of getting myself up is my favorite. The promise of an awesome breakfast. If I get up and swim, whatever I cook up when I get home is going to taste incredible. The longer I swim the bigger and better breakfast will be... I am food motivated. Why do you think I started running in the first place?

When I was thru-hiking we could eat whatever we wanted as much as we wanted and still lose weight. We were hiking all day everyday with 30 plus pounds on our backs. It didn't matter what we ingested as long as we were getting enough calories to keep us from the skin and bones look. Another thru-hiker mentioned one day (when we were all sitting around lamenting on how we would miss shoving snickers bars and cokes down our throat every chance we got) that if we wanted to continue to eat like a thru-hiker we just had to train for a marathon. I swear I heard angels singing as soon as the words escaped his mouth. A marathon, running, eating like a thru-hiker forever, that was all I needed to hear. The rest is history. Although the older I get the less this is true... I am going to have to thru-hike again. Hence the Pacific Crest Trail Idea. All food motivated. 

This morning was easier than normal to get up, I had been border line awake since 3AM along with the pup. She has a way of knowing the exact moment I open my eyes in the morning, no matter what time it is. The first thing I hear in the morning, if not my alarm, is her tail thumping on her bed. This is Zoe language for "I see you." 

The pool was quiet and I was gifted a lane to myself for almost the entire hour. 2550 yards done, still slow, but feeling stronger with each swim. I'm starting to love the water again, which will end quickly once we start doing open water swims and my irrational fear of sharks rears it's ugly head. 

After Wednesday nights run and spin my legs were trashed. I was so spent the idea of a two hour ride outside in the wind made me shudder and I took the easy (not really) way out and set the trainer up in front of the TV. 

This was a slow, pathetic ride, but I got it done and with how beat up my legs felt that was all that mattered. I watched a documentary on David Horton's run of the Pacific Crest Trail for the first hour. Watching someone trudge 40 some odd miles a day over high peaks and deserts did nothing for my motivation. It did keep me occupied though and added fuel to the fire for the next Thru-hike. 

I was hoping to be running at this moment, but instead I'm drinking coffee and procrastinating. Did I mention my legs are trashed? I'm going to give them the afternoon to get their act together and get in my run after the gym tonight. 

For now I'm content relaxing in my sweats and basking in the knowledge that I don't have to wake up before 5:00AM tomorrow. I love a good sunrise as much as the next person, but I love my sleep much more.

How does the saying go? Pink sky at night sailor's delight.
Pink sky in the morning sailor's take warning? Something like that. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Slacking Because I'm Not Slacking

I am going to start today's post off with a few solid facts:

1. I have been slacking on the writing, blog and book alike.

2. I have NOT been slacking on the training plan, full steam ahead on that front.

3. My favorite color is green.

4. I have a serious weakness for fruit snacks.

Things are off to a great start, I am on my third week of structured training and feeling stronger and faster everyday. I no longer feel like I'm drowning in the pool and swam a solid 2600 yards yesterday without feeling like someone had hooked me up to the back of their wagon and dragged me along a pot hole filled back country road. The running is running, it sucks, it's hard, and that is just how it should be. There has been a lot of trainer riding and little to no road riding or Mountain biking, which is starting to make me loopy...

I'm talking like Kanye West loopy from all this time on the bike inside. Tomorrow I am going to brave the outdoors no matter what mother nature decides to throw in. I have two and a half hours of riding on the schedule and I don't plan on suffering that out while watching a movie, I need some fresh cold windy air. Truthfully guys, if the wind is in the 25 mph and up range, I'm going to be a total wimp and stay inside, there I said it. I read this paragraph over and thought, who am I kidding, cold I can take but wind? Wind is my kryptonite. Tonight is the indoor spin with the group as usual. Crazy is always on the menu for this work out. A little run before hand as the appetizer to make me extra beaten and battered.

That just about does it as far as catching up. I had so many ideas to write about and wrote them all down, but they have all expired in my mind and now I'm left with rotten stale ideas. I need to get back to a more steady writing pace so I can put the fresh ideas to good use. Until then you just get boring run downs of the training I have been doing so far... and pictures of surfers that you cannot see because they are too far away and I don't have a real camera. I'm concerned I no longer remember how to work a real camera.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

This Is Your Brain On "Nurse Jackie"

Yesterday I watched about 5 straight hours of Nurse Jackie, season one and season two. Wow my brain is fried and I am now convinced everyone is hooked on pain killers. On the bright side we finally got a decent snow storm and it just so happened to land on my day off from working out. Perfect timing, thank you mother nature.

When you cannot possibly take another minute of Showtime dramas standing barefoot in the snow is a great alternative. If you are like me and your feet are throbbing from a week of killing it, I highly recommend this. The dog does not agree. She lacks the fur coat that her wolf brethren have. Winter is not her season.

This week of training was right on target and left me totally exhausted yesterday afternoon. I switched Sundays work out with Wednesday's to accommodate our group run and spin class here at the store. This meant all the major training ended up bulked into a few days. Today I have off, with just a few walks with the dog on my agenda and tomorrow a lifting session, if the gym ever reopens from the snow Apocalypse. This means you Gold's Gym! Slackers. Just kidding. Sort of.

I hope everyone gets out and takes advantage of what may be our last snowstorm for the season. I'm tempted to skip out of here grab my snowboard and find a good golf course. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Light a Fire

February is off to a "fire lit under your ass" start. Just as I was hoping, the excuses are fewer, and the workouts are harder. For the first time in years I am following a structured training plan for this season and it feels great. January was very unstructured and uninspired. 

I take that back, the last two days of January were pretty inspired. With a spin work out right out of a deep dark place that no one should ever really want to go, to treadmill speed work that may very well have come from the same ugly place. Those two workouts led to a lot of time spent in the cave.  

I finally got to wear my Mv2's for a workout, but have yet to get them outside on the track so I will save my thoughts until then. They do look cool. 

From there it was a trail run on Friday for the first time in I don't know how long. I missed running on the trails. I picked up a pair of Kinvara trail runners to keep in the car along with my mountain bike and bike shoes. I like to be ready to run whenever, wherever. With these guys in the car I will no longer have an excuse to bail out of a quick run after a mountain bike session. 

My thoughts on these? They are sleek and light, very much like the original Kinvara. The grip is excellent. The most important part, to me,  is that they allowed my foot the freedom to maneuver the trail without the shoe hanging me up on roots and rocks or whatever else is in the way. When a shoe is too bulky or too supportive, running the trails with it can be hazardous to your ankles. In these kinds of shoes when you hit a rock your foot cannot react, the stability of the shoe chooses which way your foot turns leading to rolled ankles and a lot of pain. That is my experience anyway. I've rolled my left ankle more times than I'd like to recall. I have finally learned my lesson.

Overall the Kinvara TR is a great trail shoe, simple and low profile. I can't wait to get them completely torn up and muddy so they fit right in with the Mountain bike in the back of the Subaru. 

Monday marked the start of my planned training. It began with an hour swim at the pool. This swim begins at 5:00am which is a wonderful time to get up and out into the cold only to drop yourself into freezing water. But I exaggerate, yesterday the pool was a moderate temperature and the air was actually quite warm. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually lasted for a mile swim and then some. I have only gotten my feet wet once since October, and that was barely a 800 yards and I was dead. 

Today I had an hour ride and 20 minute run on tap, in other words a moderate brick workout. The snow and ice on the ground kept me indoors for both the ride and the run. Luckily the gym is right below my apartment, so it was an hour in the pain cave and a quick jog downstairs to the treadmill. 

Zoe, of course, supervised the ride to make sure I was working hard enough. 

Side note to all you hardcore folks: I wasn't reading the book while I was on the bike, I just happened to leave it there looking suspiciously like a bit of reading material for my time in the cave. I promise you there was no reading of any kind going on during that ride. Only a bit of picture taking since Zoe was posing so nicely. 

All in all I am two days into the plan and have followed it word for word. Each day the training goes according to plan is a small victory to celebrate. 

Post work out I made a green monster which has just recently made it's way back into my life. Pretty good, and packed with good for you everything. I feel a noticeable difference in my recovery and endurance when I have at least one of these guys a day. 

Today's concoction had spinach, a whole banana, a handful of blueberries and 3 blackberries. Plus skim milk, natural protein powder, creatine and vitamin C powder. Doesn't look that great, but it tastes wonderful. 

Meanwhile in the present world, my new Newtons just showed up at the store. Out with the old in with the new is taking place as I type this. I finally had to pull the trigger and order a new pair. My old Gravity's have 495 miles on them. This morning was their last run. I will retire them to the old Newton's cabinet until I find it in me to throw them out.

The Ikea desk cabinet: Where Newtons go to die. It is always a little bit sad trading in my favorite pair of running shoes for a fresh pair. They are so perfectly worn and light from all the miles, the new shoes feel so heavy compared. But with weight comes cushion and that is exactly what I have been lacking the last 50 miles or so. Time to move on. Cannot wait for tomorrow night's run so I can begin the mileage count all over again. The pink color of these bad boys I can do without. But trust me when I say they will be filthy in no time and all the girlie-ness they are exuding now will be extinguished with mud, sweat and anything else I happen to trample through. 

What, if anything, can you take away from this? New shoes and a solid training plan are a good way to light a fire under your ass and get going towards your goal...

Or you can use a book of matches and make a teepee. Your choice. 

What is your favorite recovery shake/meal? 

How do you light a fire under your ass?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Thing About Excuses and Mowing The Lawn

The thing about excuses is they are so easy to make. You don't even have to know you are making them. I make them all the time, whether for good reason or just laziness. Too cold, too hot, too rainy, windy, boring, stupid, don't feel well, feel too good, this hurts, that hurts, everything hurts, nothing hurts, I'm hungry, someone else is hungry, not enough time, not enough sleep, too much stress, too many excuses... the list goes on and on. I'm sure I've already made two or three excuses today and it is only 11:45 AM.

So how do we stop making excuses? I have no idea. But I'm sure it starts with being mindful of the fact that you are making an excuse, and stop it. Whatever your excuse, just throw it away and do whatever it is you need to do. Easier said, not so easily done. There's another excuse.

I'm going to play a new game with myself, it is called find the excuses and extinguish them. I really just want to get things done. I'm not going to say I wont make any more excuses, because of course I will, but I will try my best not to. And when I do I will notice it and politely move it out of my way and do what needs to get done. February starts my focused training for Tri season, a good a time as ever to stop bitching and start working my butt off.

I wonder if quitting the excuse making will be like quitting smoking? Is it like an addiction? Well I quit smoking, so I'm not afraid to quit whining. I like this challenge.

The Adventurer is going to like my new challenge. For her it means I wont continuously give her excuses as to why I can't go backpacking with her even though I am dying to get back out in the mountains. Now I will just do it. And in trade she will hike the PCT with me in three years? Right?
For those of you unfamiliar with the PCT it is a longer less social version of the Appalachian Trail. If you are still confused and asking yourself "well okay, but what the heck is the Appalachian Trail and why do I care if it is like the PCT?" then click here.

Speaking of the PCT, I just finished reading "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed.

I only added a picture of it because this post is severely lacking pictures, and I like pictures. Pictures makes it easier and more enjoyable for people with a short attention span like myself to read this post. 

I have to say, I loved this book. I wasn't sure I would it being a recommendation from the Oprah Book Club book. I was afraid that it would be sappy and romantic and everything I picture when I think of Oprah. I pictured Oprah making hiking the PCT a trendy thing to do while giving out water purifiers to her audience. 

"And you get a water purifier! And you get a water purifier!"

But it wasn't like that at all. It was honest and strange and most of all it was life. Her hike wasn't the main focus, which was just fine, even though I would have loved it if it had been entirely about her hike. It was about her life and the reasons that she was out there in the wilderness. Some people question if she exaggerated the parts about her hike since she wrote it some 17 years after, but a lot of it sounded familiar to me and so very real. When you hike a long distance trail like the AT or the PCT the main question everyone wants to know is why you are out there. And most of us can't give up a good reason, or are afraid to blurt out honest reasons to the people who ask these questions. Cheryl gives it up in a way I wish the rest of us could. It is a beautiful and fun adventure of a book, I recommend it to everyone and anyone. 

The reason I always gave when asked why I was walking from Georgia to Maine was a simple one. When I was young my father would never let me mow the lawn. His reason? He simply told me I would start it and not finish it. He assumed I would get bored of the lawn mowing process, and maybe I would have. After all there are times when I have the attention span of a Goldfish, but I loved watching people mow lawns. To me it was art. I love how a lawn looks so absolutely complete when you are done. In my heart I knew I would finish if he let me start, but I was too young to argue. So my Thru-hike was to prove to myself, and to everyone else that I could finish what I started. If I started to mow the lawn I would finish. If I started walking 2100 some odd miles to Maine, I would get there. End of story. And that's what I did. 

He still hasn't let me mow the lawn, simply because now he pays someone to do it. But nobody was more proud of my Thru-hike than him, so I know he gets that I'd be damn good at mowing lawns. I'm sure he wouldn't hesitate if I asked to do it now. What is the lesson here? Sometimes you have to go to great lengths to get your point across... take the challenge. 

Me and my Dad in Front Royal, VA on one of my parents many visits to us on our Thru-Hike.
You can see from this picture why I was given the trail name "Kurly"... I have some serious locks. We look like bad asses in this picture too, I love it. Love my Dad. 

On a side note if any of you ever need anything fixed this guy can do it... whether he knows what it is or not, he'll figure it out. You'll get no excuses from him and he'll finish what he starts. 

But if you need your lawn mowed come to me, I'll do it and it will look damn good when I finish. 

This was not an advertisement for me or my dad, I'm not going to mow your lawn and he isn't going to fix your stuff. So don't ask. I'm just letting you know we could, if we wanted to. 

Have an awesome day.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Snow, Ninja Ice and Suffering

Okay so I got the snow I asked for in my last post. It just wasn't enough. I know I'm never happy.

I don't think I am going to get the snow I want though, I'm looking for something like this:

But I live on the Jersey Shore, which is more like this:

Not too bad right? Anyway, it has been an easy week. A little running, a little indoor on the bike and a little bit of gym love. I'm trying to take it easy before things start to get crazy, but that just leads to me being lazy. At least I wear my Newtons when I'm being lazy, so I look as though I was active or intend to be, at any moment, active again.


Wednesday night brought a killer spin work out put together by Alison who has suddenly become our evil spin coach who delights in our suffering. It was pandemonium in the beginning but we all got pretty quiet by the end, the suffering was in full effect after 80 minutes.

Yesterday I made my own pain cave in the living room since it was 10 degrees outside and we were pretty positive that the Mountain Bike trails would be sheets of evil death ice. I was safe from the evil death ice in my living room, but not from the annoyed stares of a pit bull.
As you can tell by the picture the monster hates when I do this in her domain. She isn't a fan of things that make noise or anything that causes me to not pay attention to her. While I'm riding she makes sure to get every single toy out of her basket and spread them evenly throughout the room. She doesn't play with them, only distributes then takes a nap comforted by the fact that I will have to pick them all up after I'm done ignoring her. After suffering for an hour I threw together an awesome protein shake, picked up the dog toys and got on with the day.
So that is the update. I have been burning my brain out on the book which leaves very little fire for the blog updates, hence all the pictures and little words. But I'm still moving and I'm not entirely lazy with everyday, February is right around the corner, and Monday morning there will be more swimming and watching out for pool sharks.

Tonight I will also be suffering through a freezing cold run with Rich and mega ultra death ice will be plenty I'm sure. The ice is even worse when it's night and you can't see it. We are so smart running at night so that the ice has the advantage, I know.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Bit About Hydration

It's Monday and it's back to winter again. 

Not complaining mind you, I'm a big fan of the cold and I would love a good snowstorm. Hint Hint mother nature. Where's the snow? 

The topic of hydration has been on my mind a lot the last few days. Saturday I had raging calf cramps the entire day. I mean raging raging, like someone had their hands around my leg twisting with all their strength. I was cursing and mumbling under my breath like a little old man the whole day. It wasn't fun. On the run it felt fine, it actually made it feel better, like I was stretching it out. But before and after it was quite annoying. I knew, and my running partners confirmed, that it was probably an electrolyte imbalance. Too much coffee and beer, not enough H2O. 

I didn't consider myself in full training mode yet, so I wasn't giving my hydration much thought. After Saturday's misery it is all I'm thinking about. I'm back to my old ways. First you have the jug that comes with me all day long: 

This is the key to staying hydrated, as long as I finish one of these bad boys off a day I know I'm ok. But then you also have the coconut water, just because it is so good and so good for you:

Post work outs or during long bike rides I tend to hit the protein. If it is a hard lifting session there is a lot of protein involved, and maybe some fruit in there somewhere. After long rides or runs I take Accelerade and mix it with unflavored Protein powder and water for a quick recovery drink with all the right ingredients for a speedy return.

So I'm back on the hydration and recovery bus. Two more weeks until training becomes structured and awesome. 

Do you know what isn't awesome? 

This post, it's so boring. 

I blame it on the fact that I reheated my coffee from this morning and continued drinking it while writing. That is the same cup of coffee lasting from 10AM to 3PM. I blame said cup of coffee because usually I drink it cold once it has gone old, today I heated it up. I'll stick to cold old coffee...

It threw me off my game. Sorry folks. 

What is your hydrator of choice? Do you add Protein Powder after hard sessions?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lance Armstrong! Just Kidding.

I have nothing to say about the whole Lance Armstrong ordeal, but if you would like to read about it I suggest you read Jordan Rapp's blog, or Lauren Fleshman's post. Two great Professional Athletes who have something to say about it. 

If you don't want to get too serious, and/or you are damn sick of this Lance nonsense then I suggest you watch this and put your mind at ease: 

There there, cat videos make everything better. 

Ok got that out of the way, now on to more pressing issues. I've been really lazy. Two days of no working out, it's really bad. Today I locked in my February, March and April training plan leading up to my first race in April. This should get my butt in gear. Cut down on the beer, build up the training and make sure to get enough sleep. It will be a tough few months. Train, work, write, eat, sleep... repeat. My favorite kind of days. 

I do have to mention that Wednesday night's spin gave me a good dose of ass whooping.

I blamed it when I was experiencing an extreme case of laziness Thursday and umm... Friday. My legs were trashed from running, leg work out and the spin class. I made sure to go out and get all the essentials for fighting off getting sick since I felt pretty destroyed. 

My personal home remedy: Eat the bananas, slice up the oranges and float them in the Blue Moon, but don't count on it to fight off any laziness. I didn't get sick, but I was still feeling pretty beat up well into Friday. Here it is Saturday and I'm finally feeling back to my old self hoping for an easy 4 mile run with a few friends tonight to get me back in the groove. 4 mile run done, feeling good.  

I believe that my exhaustion is some serious mental fatigue from my head spinning 24 hours a day with ideas for this silly book I'm working on. 

I may only give it an hour a day physically, but mentally it is draining me. I'm hoping the training plan beginning in February motivates me a bit and gives my mind a break. The more I have to focus on the more energy I have. If I'm focused on the same thing everyday all day it begins to zap me. I'm looking forward to February 4th and a set plan of action. Until then it is still playtime. If I want to run I run, if I want to beat myself up on the trails on the MTB I do it, if I want to swim (which I rarely do) I go swim (and really I don't ever just feel like swimming.) I'm a total land dweller. Give me mountains and forest over oceans and beaches. I'm still not totally convinced there can't be sharks in pools... I watch out for them just in case. But mountains, there are no sharks in the mountains. Just bears and mountain lions, pretty sure I can handle them. Sharks I can't handle. 

And of course, Cabin porn has it's time and place in my life and discovering awesome new people like this guy: 

Universal Klister

Looks like I'll be adding a new bike to the want list. 

Today's lesson: Forget about Lance Armstrong, watch funny cat videos and do awesome things like riding bikes over frozen rivers. Every day. 

Run is done, time to get back to work on the book. With this guy: