Thursday, December 27, 2012

Feet First

In less than three weeks I will endure yet another surgery on my foot, the left again. For a variety of reasons, the right foot needed immediate attention back in 2010, so I put off the same bunion surgery on the left until 2011. As the swelling in that foot eventually abated, it became clear that the metal plate the podiatrist inserted to fuse two large tarsal bones together was problematic. I don't feel anything when I'm walking, but running is another matter entirely.

What I feel when I run isn't pain, but it is discomfort, and often it radiates from the point of contact on top of the foot to my arch. It hasn't been enough of an issue that I have stopped running, but it isn't an ideal situation either. And so, the doctor and I decided it would be best to remove the plate entirely, which is happening in a 10-minute procedure on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
My left foot, plate and screws obvious.

I suppose there is no good time for a runner to be laid up, but in Central New York in winter, it's a safe bet that any outdoor running won't exactly reap much benefit. My first question to him was, naturally, "What's the recovery time?" One month. I can swim after two weeks, and should be able to practice yoga and at least lift weights for the upper body and keep working my core soon after the surgery.

He doesn't want the incision getting wet and, as for the running, the four tiny screws holding that plate in place (though they don't look tiny in the X-rays at left) will leave four tiny holes in my bones. "If it were anyone else," he advised, "I wouldn't worry about it, but you put an awful lot of stress on your feet."

Ha! You have no idea, doc; no idea.

And so I am averaging 25 miles a week leading up to the fateful day, and wishing I could bottle my fitness so when it's time to venture forth again in February, I just uncork and go! Once again, early-winter races will be pushed aside until 2014, but I've already registered for the Buffalo Half Marathon on May 26, and the Keuka Lake Sprint Triathlon on June 2, so I'm looking at substantial goals to train for. Not sure if the 10-mile, May 5 Mountain Goat is possibile; I'll wait and see.

Let's hope this is the end of the podiatry saga that has consumed my life these last three years. But as I tell anyone who asks, don't put off bunion surgery--I did until serious damage was done to my feet--the second toe on my right foot, the one that was dislocated by the big toe the bunion had pushed into it--will never recover; I just tolerate the issues, and endure an occasional cortisone shot.

And as for those who tell me to stop running--be gone! My PR days are likely behind me, but that doesn't mean my running days have passed me by. It's still fun to compete (and I do OK in my age group), and that's what's important.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Five and Dime

Yesterday, I attempted something I never have before, and I'm not certain I ever will again. While I have been tempted to do this for years, something always held me back. I registered to run back-to-back races, a 5K at 9 a.m. with a 10K to follow at 10.

The Burn Run, which benefits the Clark Burn Center at Syracuse's Upstate University Hospital, is in its sixth year. This year they decided to add a 10K, which made me very happy; so, I originally signed up for that. Then, they offered a $10 discount to any member of the Lake Effect Run Club--what the heck, I thought; it's for a good cause and I can do something I never have done in 30 years of racing--the back-to-back thing.

Yeah, baby! (Charlie Bowers Photo)
Now, I certainly have raced plenty of 15Ks, but that's meant 80 minutes or so of continual running, finding your groove and then maintaining it. By splitting it up into two different races, with a 30-minute gap in between, I had no idea how my legs would react. I wasn't quite sure what to do in the time between finishing the 5K and then starting the 10K, either, but I sure knew what not to do--sit down, eat or drink too much, or head outside where it was sunny but a little chilly. I didn't want to stiffen up, risk a cramp or get cold. So I paced, stretched and tried to stay loose.

I ventured out once, to check the 5K results, and was happy to see I had placed first in my age group (yippee!), with a best-of-2012 time of 26:04. Then I made my way to the starting line. The first few miles I felt a little stiff, and my legs were not happy. They weren't sore, exactly, and not tired, but had a dullness to them--tough to describe. But by mile 3, my inner runner kicked in and I was able to maintain a decent pace until about mile 4.5. The fact that a woman, who appeared to be in my age group, passed me then didn't help. I tried to draft on her for a bit, but she lost me. (Turns out she finished third in the 50-54 age group, so my sense about her age was accurate.)

I successfully passed one person before the race finish, but she got me back in the chute--dang. Still, my finish time, 57:17, is leagues better than the last 10K I ran, in an hour. So I am making progress toward regaining my form (I know the weekly track work has a lot to do with that).

While running the 10K so soon after the 5K, I had an epiphany that only such proximity could have rendered. Bear with me here, because it's gonna sound gripey, but here we go. Remember that I have children, that I love it when children run and are active. BUT, what is it about kids--especially boys--running races--especially 5Ks? I always know there is a kid approaching by the flap-flap-flap of his shoes hitting the pavement. Hope he learns some running form soon, or he won't have any arches left!

And then there's the kid(s) who sprint to pass you, and then either stop to walk or slow down considerably right in front of you. And they'll do that for all 3 miles--it's maddening!!!! I am always so happy when I leave those kids in the dust, and finish the race ahead of them.

So back to my rant--parents, it's great that you entered your child to run the race. But please, just like in real life, teach them some etiquette. When they slow down or stop, make sure they know to get to the shoulder of the road as soon as possible.

Rant over; thank you for listening.

So, with the combined races, I actually ran this "15K" a full five minutes faster than the most recent race of the same distance. Racing back-to-back was different, but I'm not sure it's for me. . .until the next time I see one on a race calendar.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In Search of. . .10Ks

Race season is, sadly, winding down for me. It's not that there aren't still races to select every weekend, almost through Christmas, it's just that other things get in the way this time of year, and racing a 51-year-old body every weekend just isn't wise.

Still, I have registered for some perennial favorites, including the Baldwinsville Kiwanis Turkey Day Races. Back in the day, this race featured three distances--5K, 10K and 10 Mile. Oh, how I loved that 10 miler, with the pre-dinner calorie burn. I suspect the difficulty in getting enough volunteers for all three races put an end to the longer distance. They kept the 10K, thankfully, and that's still a pretty substantial distance.

Then there's the Burn Run, which benefits the Clark Burn Unit at Upstate Hospital. The flattest 5K around. I was planning on signing up for the 3.1-miler, but once they announced the addition of a 10K this year, well that sealed the deal for me.

Do you sense a pattern here?

As much as would like to run another marathon, 26.2 miles remains a daunting prospect. The half marathon distance remains my favorite, but it's a lot of work getting ready for one. And as much as I enjoy the speed of a 5K, I find them anticlimactic. If I'm going to put in the training, and drive the distance to the race site, a 5K seems hardly worth my time. (Those of you 5K lovers out there, I'm merely speaking for myself; no offense is intended.) In fact, I have a loose rule about 5Ks--if it takes longer for us to drive to the race site than it will for me to run the race, then I'm not inclined to pay the entry fee, or the gas.

So next year, I plan on focusing on racing as many 10Ks as I can find locally. Don't get excited--they're not at all easy to find. I can think of a handful in the spring--Fort to Fort in Rome, Skunk Cabbage in Ithaca--wait, is two a handful? See what I mean? What is it about the 10K race distance that has rendered it so elusive? I think that's a topic for a more substantial item than a blog post, and perhaps I'll tackle it in a different forum.

Still, racing 10Ks in 2013 is my plan, as far as road races go.

I have some holes to fill in the triathlon schedule, even while I have plotted what distances to race when.

First off, my "A" race will be Big George, a half-ironman distance race that takes place in and around lovely Lake George on Sept. 1, Labor Day Sunday. After that, the plan is to run some half marathons (maybe even a full) and keep seeking out 10Ks. Before that, I'm looking at a sprint distance tri (or two) in June, an Olympic in July, and a sprint or Olympic in August.

Ever open to suggestion, if you know of any 10Ks within upstate New York--Ithaca and north, Albany to Buffalo, please leave a comment.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rain, Rain Go Away

The guy passing me at mile 8.5 while running in flip-flops (!) aside, here some observations from the Oct. 14, Carol M. Baldwin A Run for Their Life 15K.

* Running in the rain stinks. I really really really don't like it. Wet, squishy running shoes are just no fun, and if my podiatrist knew I was getting my $300 custom-made inserts wet, he'd be more than just a bit annoyed.

* There are parts of the city that don't get as much respect and tender loving care as they should. I'm talking about the near South Side. I was pleased that several miles of this 9.3-mile trek included some of the more neglected neighborhoods of Syracuse. Running here is a white-dominated sport, and by running through the predominantly African-American side of town perhaps a few residents got inspired to try out the sport.

* Pit bulls are scary, especially unaccompanied pit bulls. At Midland and Bellevue a seemingly innocent black pit bull kept sniffing around the side of the building. Once the nearby police officer saw the dog, he tried to shoo it away. The dog provided enough incentive to run faster for a bit and he remained harmless, but I just don't trust the breed.

* Syracuse hills are among the toughest I have ever run up, and then down. It's the long, low-grade gentle ones that really get to me, and this course had plenty of them. By mile 6 my quads were feeling some pain; the good news: the distraction kept me from even thinking about my foot.

* I would say that this course is more challenging than the legendary Mountain Goat. The local running gods may strike me dead, but several of my friends agreed that it is so. All the same, I still beat my goal by nearly 2 minutes. 

Jess Novak, Carol Baldwin, Molly English-Bowers
Don't let the prospect of steep hills and gradual hills scare you away from this race, however. There aren't many local 15Ks on the calendar, and this one benefits a worthy cause, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. In fact, it was a hoot getting a photo taken with the famous Mrs. Baldwin after the race (see us at left)--what a trooper she was, sitting in damp, dank, chilly conditions while runners posed for photos with her.

All in all, this is a quality event--next year I hope for better weather conditions and an even better finishing time. Oh, and race organizers: maybe it was the weather's fault, but next year you should party up the chute and finish line--pink balloons, more fanfare. Just sayin'.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Let's Make This Happen!

“To all the girls that think you’re ugly because you’re not a size zero, you’re the beautiful one. It’s society who’s ugly.”
Thank you, Lady Gaga, for channeling the words of Marilyn Monroe through your BODY REVOLUTION campaign and reminding us that our flaws can be fabulous.
Your recent photos make me smile. I don’t see a pop star who has gained twenty-five pounds, I see a woman who is pouring her passion into her craft and doing what she loves on her own terms.
Here in Syracuse, there’s a team of girls who has not only accepted our bodies despite our excess weight, scars and other imperfections, we’ve shown society what we can do with them.
And we want you to come and do a REVOLUTION RIDE with us to help support the BODY REVOLUTION and get the next generation of girls feeling as good as we do.
Over the years this group has collectively completed 4 Ironmans, 14 Half Ironmans, 12 marathons, and 187 miscellaneous swimming, biking or running races, covering a total of 4235.6 miles.
Based on that, you might imagine us to look a certain way. Society says that athletes should be skinny. We should be lean and muscular with near-perfect bodies. Sound like any other industries you’re familiar with?
But we’re not—and like you—we couldn’t care less that we don’t fit the mold. We’re in this because we love what we do. We are fueled by our passion to reach new limits, not our desire to uphold society’s expectations of what an athlete should look like.
And we don’t hide our bodies because they aren’t “athletic” enough. We’re sporting the same tight shorts and teeny tops that the world champions do.  Society be damned!
For three years now, I’ve been volunteering as a coach and mentor with the local chapter of Girls Inc, a national non-profit organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold through life-changing programs and experiences that help them navigate gender, economic and social barriers.
I lead them through a series of workshops rooted in fitness—not because I want to give them the tools to LOOK a certain way, but because I want to give them the opportunity to FEEL a certain way.
To me, fitness isn’t about exercising your body—it’s about exercising your mind in a way that makes you feel something so strongly you have to move. That’s the way I’ve taught my spin class for the past seven years, and it’s the way I’ve executed every race I’ve ever done.
The way you tackle a piano with emotion, technique, and hunger is the same way we tackle each workout. The way you own the stage for hours on end is the same way we’ve taken to the roads for hours on end (Ironman can last for 17 hours…ride, ride pony!).
Girls need to know that this kind of strength and fire doesn’t come from conforming to society’s idea of what they should be doing. It doesn’t come from throwing up, cutting, abusive relationships, or drugs. It doesn’t come from those short-term vices we find and rely on in our darkest moments.
It comes from accepting yourself and your flaws and being brave enough to feed your passions despite the obstacles that are in your path. It comes from feeling good enough about yourself that you can rise above the pressures from society to look and be a certain way—as a superstar, as an athlete…
As a woman.
In that spirit, I would like to invite you to lead a #RevolutionRide spin class with me to support the next generation of girls who are fighting against society every day—from the people in their day-to-day lives who judge and bully them, to the strangers at large who stereotype the way women should look and behave.
I promise you an hour of sweat, fun, progress, and acceptance with hundreds of women who will proudly flaunt their flaws together on the fly wheel to raise money for Girls Inc.
Let’s get on the bike with our huge asses and give society a big middle finger as we pedal to a better place and empower girls everywhere. Are you with me, Gaga?
little monster, fat triathlete and passion junkie
Follow this cause on Twitter at #revolutionride with @spinningleese, or on

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Back on Track

For the first time in nearly a year (the last time was Sept. 18, 2011) I returned to the track for speedwork. There are several reasons for the 358-day absence from the dreaded oval, and only one (sort of) good excuse. It's odd that I avoid speedwork because it works! I need to remember that the next time I try to talk myself out of it.

The start of the Arc half-marathon. (Charlie Bowers photo)
Back in the day, when I was a member of the Syracuse Chargers, Dave Oja was the women's coach. I remember gathering at the Henninger High School track one evening a week to grind out speedwork, Dave dutifully pushing us, stopwatch in hand. So I have always known of the benefits of hitting the track, I just have never really liked it. 

So here are my reasons:
1. The Liverpool High School track had been closed for renovations, but now that it's open the fence is too high for me to climb over (if the gate is locked), and the gate is unlocked at inconsistent times. I have to be done with my weekday morning workout by 7 a.m.--trotting over to LHS to find the gate locked infuriates me. So . . .
2. I don't mind driving to Baldwinsville to access their track, but that presents another justification in my mind to skip it altogether. Determined to do speedwork today (based on my woeful half-marathon time of Sept. 8), I drove to B'ville, only to find that track closed for renovations! So I headed to the Cicero-North Syracuse track, easily the nicest facility locally short of Syracuse University. I have never found that gate locked, and a few lights are on so it's easier to stay in a lane before the sun comes up.
3. Speedwork is deadly dull. Indeed it is, but (repeat after me) it works.

And here is my excuse:
1. I had foot surgery Oct. 20, 2011. Lame, I know. As soon as I could run again I should have also scheduled weekly speedwork.

So with a goal in mind to best every finishing time from 2012 at every distance in 2013, I vow to trudge to the track once a week to embrace, enjoy and complete a speed workout. This way, when my husband has to stand in the rain (like he did Saturday), waiting for his wife to finish yet another race, he won't have to bide his time nearly as long. And that's motivation enough!

Next races:
Cortland YMCA Sprint Triathlon, Sept. 15, Little York Lake.
Strathmore Parks Run, Sept. 15, Onondaga Park.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Second Time Around

A week out from Steelhead 70.3, Aug. 19, in Benton Harbor, Mich., and I have a lot on my mind.  I had originally written this blog as a top 10 list, but it just wasn't working for me. So here are a few general observations, followed by the swim-bike-run specifics. Race day was well organized, which is as you would expect considering how much an Ironman-brand race costs. The day before, however, told a different story.
Signs leading us to the race site on Saturday proved inadequate, but once we got there, our frustration became borderline disgust. It seemed that every time we approached the parking lot so I could drop off my bike, the parking police (I use that term loosely) told us there was no room at the inn. We tried three times, and just missed the open spots. Just down the street the Boy Scouts were making $10 each time someone parked in their designated lot. Sorry, but I have a real problem with the Boy Scouts, and their no-gays-allowed 1950s stance; we refused to pay them. And naturally once we did park and I walked my bike to the transition area, plenty of parking spaces were open near the lake. The frustration was so unnecessary. And I know it seems petty, but when you're mentally preparing yourself for the difficulty of a half-ironman, the last thing that should slip you up is parking.
Now, for race day:
The Swim. In 2011, this race became a duathlon because the chop in Lake Michigan was too risky to the athletes. That was my biggest concern for race day. But the Great Lake looked calm, and blue, and so inviting (at least what I could see before the sun came up!). This is an unusual race because the transition area sits in between two lakeside parks. Depending on the lake current that day, athletes either walk 1.2 miles south of transition or 1.2 miles north and then swim back. Jokes abounded during the walk that we should get credit for that distance, or call this a 71.5 rather than a 70.3. Yeah, triathletes are a witty lot. Except for the walrus/swimmer who had no concept of swimming straight, this leg went extremely well for me. Once I lost the walrus about halfway through it was clear sailing, and I came out of the water with many in my swim wave (wearing yellow caps) still freestyling. Yes! My time was no faster than in the Syracuse 70.3, but I felt calmer and more confident. Now that I enjoy the swim, I can begin to work on speed in the water.
Many yellow caps behind me.
The Bike. My worst event of the three, and I'm starting to think it's because of the equipment. It seemed like I got passed by 1,000 athletes while I was out there. I was feeling pretty demoralized about that--holding back tears--but I looked at my Cat-Eye and realized I was ahead of the pace I had wanted to achieve. Plus, I reminded myself that as one of the first swimmers in and out of the water, stronger cyclists were bound to catch me. But why so many??? The dreadful road conditions didn't help--Michigan is even more hard-up than New York, and it shows in how they "repair" their roads. It got so bad that I had to use the portapotty at about mile 30--my bladder couldn't take any more. That cost me 5 minutes, but I still finished the bike faster than I had in the Syracuse race.
The Run. My favorite (and at one time my best) leg. Just like in my first half-ironman, I vowed to keep moving forward, "one foot ahead of the other," and never walk; never. I didn't care if it took 2-1/2 hours, as long as I didn't walk. Well, it didn't take that long, and I didn't walk. I enjoy the run for many reasons, but it's always nice to talk to others as you go--you hear people's stories, hear where they're from, if this is the first, or 10th, such event. Then you blast by them, after telling them to finish strong (he-he). Hey, I can't squelch my competitive nature. I really enjoy the run because I can always blow by some woman who kicked my butt on the bike. It never fails to feel good!
Because I was pokier on the run than my first 70.3, I finished this race 10 minutes slower. Had I not stopped on the bike, it would have been 5 minutes.
No complaints. It was terrific having a small portion of my large family there to cheer me on. I thank them for standing for hours waiting for me to finish, feeding me, encouraging me and keeping me going. My sister has always been good at popping up where you least expect her, and she didn't disappoint this time--I saw her on the bike and at several points on the run.
I desperately need to work on my biking, and I this off-season I plan to build even more leg strength, and win the lottery so I can buy  a new bike.
My next race: Escape From the Judge, 1-mile open water swim in Skaneateles Lake, Sept. 2. That should be interesting.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Delta Lake Observations

I completed my one and only Olympic-distance triathlon yesterday, July 29 (it's fast becoming my favorite distance). What a beautiful day: The lake was calm, the sky blue, the temperature moderate. I really enjoy this race, and was pleased to finish in just under 3 hours, 5 minutes, despite feeling nauseated for a good deal of the run. I'm thinking that's because the much-ballyhooed peanut butter GU I sucked down in the first mile of the run was not the best choice.

Anyway, here are my observations, positive and negative, about this race, put on by Mike Brych and his ATCEndurance company.

The good:

Excellent volunteer support, and excellently supportive volunteers. Hearing people you don't know telling you how strong and great you look (when you feel completely the opposite, and on the third and final loop of the run) is incredibly encouraging. I especially enjoyed the woman at the bike turnaround who ran with each of us to hand off water; that was quite skillful!

A lovely venue. I especially enjoy the swim here, as Delta Lake is clean and calm. Mike told us to look out for weeds at the far buoy, and was he ever right! Ah, the perils of open water swimming.

Incredibly quick results posting. Score-This knows what they're doing. By the time we got home from the venue, the results were already on line, complete and accurate. Wish I could say the same for some other timing companies in the area.

As a digression--there are many aspects of triathlon that keep me competing (I'm now in my fourth year), but this is the greatest of them: support from fellow athletes, especially woman-to-woman. Hearing "great job," "good work," "keep it up" from complete strangers is so empowering, and it encourages me to say the same in return. My favorite moment yesterday came from a woman younger than I, passing me with about 200 meters left on the run, who turned to say, "Looking strong, Mama." I loved it!

The not-so-good:

Follow those big green buoys out there in the water.
Post-race food organizers: Please don't let everyone take the yummy yogurt at the end of the sprint race. I was left with plain and mango--ewwww. Also, a banana would have been so nice to eat.

As for hydration, there was plenty of cold water along the run course, but I think some electrolyte solution should have been out there as well. I'm wondering if that would have helped the way I was feeling. Of course, I should learn to carry my own hydration on the run (like I do on the bike).

Transition needs to be tighter, by that I mean that people need to move their crap out of the way. Set up your area, and then move along. Nothing worse than coming back from cycling to have someone's running shoes or wetsuit in the way as you change shoes (and mental gears).

I was so very annoyed at two continuing situations on the bike course: people who didn't announce "on your left" (it got so ridiculous at one point that I nearly clipped a guy who was passing me, though I didn't know it, as I steered out to avoid a sewer grate; imagine the mess had we bumped), and those who passed on the right. Are you kidding me?! If you're not going to follow the rules, get the hell out of the sport. I know I tend to be militaristic about this, but rules are set up for the safety of all. Passing on the right is just plain stupid. Do it right, or don't bother doing it all. End of sermon.

Next race: Lyme Sprint Triathlon, Aug. 5, in Chaumont, a lovely bay off Lake Ontario.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Run Along the River

Recovering from foot surgery continues to be the most difficult thing I have ever done; with every encouraging sign comes a number of disappointments. What's more, I can't predict from race to race what the foot will throw at me, so to speak. It's quite the guessing game. I could give up, but that'll never happen.

On July 21 I ran a 10K in Cape Vincent, which took us runners out of the tiny village west to Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, on a road that parallels the source of the St. Lawrence River. Boats large and small accompanied us, and the ever-rotating windmills of Wolfe Island hinted at the Canadian delights found just beyond in Kingston (one of my favorite places). The wind was both cooling and distracting, especially as it served to roil the waves into an odor similar to the west side of Onondaga Lake. There was no escaping the stench.

Unfortunately, it did not help me run any faster.

This is right before I tossed the Gatorade bottle.
While I hit the turnaround at about 27 minutes, my speed left me near mile 4 and I struggled to force myself to keep running; had I walked I'd still be mad about it. I am in no way proud of my finishing time, but I am trying to take solace in the fact that I did finish. (Notwithstanding that I threw a bottle of Gatorade in anger after the announcer told me my time, surprising both myself and my husband (we were surprised about the anger, not the time).)
So that's the not-so-good news part.

Now for the better news:
1. My foot did not hurt. The spot on top where the doctor inserted hardware to keep the bones together did not pain me for the first time since I started running again. Neither did the arch of the left foot, nor the arthritic big toe. I am very pleased about this development. It was that very foot pain that distracted me to a terrible finish in the Cazenovia 10-miler on July 4. I hope, hope, hope this is it for that issue. It's been so inconsistent and unpredictable.

2. I ran 6.2 miles in difficult conditions--hot and humid. I stayed hydrated, slowed down if I felt I had to (even though I knew it could lead to a disappointing finish time). Still, I managed to average an under-10-minutes/mile pace. My big triathlon is less than a month away in Michigan. Ever been to the Midwest in August? You think it's been hot and humid in Central New York this summer? Try every summer in Western Michigan. Those are the two reasons I signed up for yesterday's race in the first place--to try to cover the distance in less than an hour (the half-Ironman is twice that distance, and I'm aiming to finish it in 2 hours) and to continue to acclimate to unrelenting heat. I succeeded on both counts.

I have a few observations about this race. The T-shirt is way cool--fluorescent green with a blue rendition of the lighthouse and the name printed above the heart. Minimal and tasteful. I really enjoyed the scenery, even if my olfactory nerve was pushed to its limit. Plenty of water stations throughout, and really friendly folks (loved the hose at mile 6).

Now, for the negative--no chip timing. The timing wasn't the real issue for me; it was that it took the race director far too long to figure out the results for the relative handful of runners who participated. We didn't stick around, and for a very good reason (another negative)--there was no food. I was told that orange slices were at the finish line, but greedy 5K runners must have taken them all. There is absolutely no excuse for a race to run out of food. None! Hold some of the slices back for the 10K runners. I was not at all happy about this. Yet they had a keg of beer. Nothing against my beer-drinking buddies but it's not how I choose to refuel after a race. Call me a grump, but running out of food was not cool.

Will I do this race again? Highly unlikely. It was a bit of a drive for the distance, and the race amenities were sorely lacking. But, as with every race I run, I learned a little more about myself, my willpower and my poor, unlucky feet.

Next up: Delta Lake Olympic Triathlon, Sunday, July 29. I doubt I can best last year's time of 2:59.37, but you never know. It's all up to the foot.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Weekend Update

With the plethora of races available in Central New York, I had no trouble finding two competitions for Saturday and Sunday, June 16 and 17. First up was Tri-Oswego, a second-year race that features both a sprint and an intermediate distance. I selected the sprint--800 meter swim, 15.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.

I enjoyed this race immensely--the swag was impressive (a transition towel? love it!), volunteers were plentiful, smiling and encouraging, and the bike course was well-monitored for traffic. I do wish the miles had been marked on both the bike and the run, however. Oh, and the food afterwards? Really nice--especially the fresh fruit salad. I heard the next day that the swim and run were both longer than advertised, which would explain my "slower" times.

Heading out for the run.
It's no big deal, really, but it would be nice to know that my slower swim can be attributed to a course that was longer than 800 meters. Finishing third in my age group was a wonderful Sunday morning surprise as well (we didn't stick around to find out, since I have only once before placed in my age group). I'll put this race down as a definite-maybe to consider for 2013, and probably at the longer distance.

Sunday, Father's Day, dawned hotter and brighter than the day before (the clouds of Saturday helped keep the athletes going for sure). The run I had signed up for, Mike Caruana Father's Day 5K, was in Fulton, a mere 17 miles away. So the plan was to bike there, run and bike home. Apparently, Saturday really wore me out because I woke up too late to execute that plan.

Oddly, I also left in the car later than I would have wanted, so I felt a bit rushed to get my race number, stretch, warm up, hit the bathroom one last time and head to the start. Something had to go, and it was my stretching routine. I did some dynamic stretching, but nothing on my back. Now, I have read that static stretches do nothing for improving the run. I have doubted this, but limited time forced me to do standing stretches only. And I ran a terrific race, considering where I am in my rebuilding year, and the fact that I had competed hard just 24 hours earlier. So maybe there's something to that stretching advice after all.

This race course is not an easy one, but I hit the first mile at 8:20 (not bad!). All told, I crossed the finish line in 27:01, good for an 8:43 pace. Can you say thrilled?!

A hot time in Fulton!
So for my fun, exhausting, weekend I got two medals, which I proudly hung from the new display rack my husband gave me for my birthday. He's so supportive of my efforts, and understands my ups and downs (and frustrations with my feet). Giving me another rack was his subtle way of displaying his continuing support without being pushy--the other rack was too full, and he fully expects that I'll earn more medals. But he would never say that; he's more a man of action.

Next up: Runapalooza, Fleet Feet's new race, a 5K on June 30. Then a few more road races until my next triathlon, Delta Lake Olympic, July 29.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Unreasonable Doubt

OK, I look at the calendar and I am 10 weeks out from my half-ironman and I'm starting to panic. There is no way, I think, that I can get in all the training I need to do! I don't have time! I haven't even topped 11 miles in a run yet! I need to bike 56 miles twice before the race!
Is this what all of us go through? Perhaps this is the point where a coach would be a good investment--that or a sports psychologist!
Even though I have used the training plans on, my mind is telling me that I am no longer a beginner, that I need to bump up to intermediate status. And even though that excellent website has intermediate plans, I looked elsewhere this morning.
But here's the thing--when I look at the plan I found and printed from (not an intermediate site, I just realized), that training doesn't seem like enough! I'm doing way more than it prescribes! Oh, dear; now I'm really confused!!!
I don't train technically--no heart rate monitors, no zone 1/2/3/4 stuff (I don't even know what that means)--I just go out and swim, bike and run! In fact, I didn't even own a pair of bike shoes and clipless pedals until a month ago. My bike is an Internet special--$500 delivered and "90% assembled." Thank goodness I have a handy, patient husband, because it arrived more like 10% assembled. I never could have put that bike together myself. Would I like a $2,000 bike? To quote Sarah Palin, "You betcha!" Can I, in good conscience, purchase a $2,000 bike? What do you think?
My sweet little bike. She still needs a name. . .
I am in no way complaining about my equipment. We have built up my triathlon arsenal piece-by-piece, purchasing most items in the off season so they're a bit less expensive, and my husband is great at trolling websites to find free shipping (and free return shipping, which came in handy for the first XS wetsuit we bought that fit more like XXXXS). I buy my swimsuits on clearance, or with my USA Triathlon 20% discount. I hoard the swim caps they give us at races like a squirrel with her nuts.
I guess I'm just feeling like I can always do more, always have better equipment, always squeeze in a workout (even if it's not part of the plan). Is this how all of us triathletes feel? Or am I just especially neurotic?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just Keep Swimming!

After I emerged from Otsego Lake on Sunday, my husband was waiting near transition, where I would be stripping off my wetsuit and gearing up for the bike. "You came in a good minute faster than you thought you would," he reported. "Yeah," I responded, "that was a good swim." I had no idea how good until I saw the results from the Cooperstown Triathlon on May 27.

When I first considered tackling triathlons nearly five years ago, I recognized the swim as a weak link--I have been a runner for years, and biking is, well, biking, right? How hard can it be to pedal 15-25 miles? I now know that biking presents its own set of challenges, but without a strong, first-leg swim there's no point in even signing up for a triathlon. I have always known how to swim (thanks to summer playground lessons at Sunset Lake in Kenwood, a tony suburb of Sherrill), but it's never been a strength. When I selected my debut triathlon--the June 2009 Keuka Lake sprint--I headed to the city-operated pool closest to my office a good 10 months in advance.

Now, those among us who have completed marathons (I have two on my resume) tend to be a bit macho. What's a half-mile swim to someone who's run a 26-mile race, I asked myself as I got into the water, without goggles (my eyes would thank me later), and promptly swam one lap--that's not once down and back; it's once down, 25 meters. Oh, boy; I had my work cut out for me.

I signed up for a class at the Liverpool Y, but didn't connect with the coach or the extremely chilly pool. So I just kept at it on my own; I tend to be a training loner anyway, so no worries. Turns out I needed all of those 10 months to build up to swimming 800 meters; I had the distance down but not the speed. "Speed" being a relative term, that first triathlon swim took me 21 minutes. Ouch!

Fast forward to my first triathlon swim of the 2012 season. Wearing our white swim caps, we women and relay swimmers (some men), trudged into the channel that led to the lake.

At 60 degrees, the water was chilly but tolerable. The siren sounded and we were off!  Very quickly I found a groove. It took a bit of work to get around a breast-stroker who kept kicking me (not on purpose). I had to put on the brakes and redirect around a woman who was heading diagonally toward the first buoy but also on a collision course with me. I passed several red-capped men, who had begun five minutes earlier. I felt really strong; I felt really smooth; I felt, dare I say it?, like a swimmer!

My struggles after foot surgery in October 2011 have been well-chronicled. Once I was cleared to get my foot wet, the first question I had for the doctor was, can I swim? I returned to the pool on Dec. 15, 2011, and I haven't looked back. While I waited another month for the OK to run, I kept swimming. Like Dory in Finding Nemo, I just kept swimming!

Now there's a school of thought in endurance sports that says if you're weak in one area, keep at it. Want to run better? Run more! Bike a problem? Get in the saddle and go! Because I was conservative about running too far too soon, and because biking in January just isn't pleasant, I kept swimming. In fact, I've been swimming so much, I even cover 3000 meters once a week. Why not?

Well, all that hard work saw its payday on Sunday, with a first-in-my-age-group swim time, of 14:59. Remember my first competitive swim that lasted 21 minutes (a lot of it doing the backstroke)? Well, that's long gone. And I couldn't be more thrilled, especially since I did it myself, without help from a costly coach.

Next triathlon: June 16, Oswego Sprint.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Whatever Floats Your Goat

The Mountain Goat has never been an easy race. But in the eight or so years I have been running it--sometimes fast, sometimes not--it's been gratifying to watch it evolve into a real community event. I didn't run the Goat in 2011 (too soon after surgery on the right foot), so I can only compare the support I enjoyed this year to the race in 2010.
With my well-chronicled recovery from left-foot surgery I just wanted to run this year. I didn't care about my time (though I did set a goal, that I missed); I put one foot ahead of the other and kept moving. 
On May 6, 2012, I have never seen so much crowd support and so many bands along the 10-mile length of the course. Race organizers who placed Letizia and her band, along with about a half-dozen more drummers at the toughest part of the toughest hill on the course--Colvin Street--really hit on a stroke of genius. Knowing the Syracuse University Sour Sitrus Society awaits us as we turn from the top of Colvin to Comstock always gives me something to look forward, but having rhythm-plus pushing us up between miles 6 and 7 made a world of difference.
Oh, and the Blacklites entertaining in the post-race party in Clinton Square? Another stroke of genius.
The Kirk Park Colts Pop Warner football team (along with parental and coach help) is always a highlight for me--those kids wear a smile as they hand out water, Gu packs, Powerade and overall encouragement. They are at mile 5, and an annual treat for me, providing motivation enough for the second half of the race.
I saw more crowd support along the Thornden Park hill than ever before. That's not an easy spot for spectators to get to (not to mention runners)--for me it's the hardest hill in the race. So to see the cheering (majority) women shaking makeshift noisemakers of soda bottles with coins inside really lifted my spirits (even as, I admit, I walked up that hill).
There have been years that after the climb up Thornden Park I have just wanted this race to be over; enough already, as we all make our way out the park and, with a new route, straight onto Madison Street. I really appreciate this change to course, as the previous downhill on Harrison has always been the toughest for me--you see, I'd rather climb a hill than descend one. With my foot not 100%, I fully expected to walk down that bear of a beast of a you-know-what. But I didn't have to!
The gradual descent into downtown was a gift I savored, along with the gummy bears a family handed out just beyond the hill in Thornden. The unfortunate landscape change along East Genesee Street (near Syracuse Stage) foretold Connective Corridor work for the summer and it added a negative aesthetic to the psychological triumph of mile 9. Here's hoping it's all pretty in time for next year's race.
Because it was a perfect weather day, it seems everyone had a smile on their face. Now, perhaps that's always the way it's been, but in years past, when I have been determined to compete in this race, I was so focused on running that I missed the good will.
Speaking of missing things--once again, I did not see the real-live goats along Stolp Avenue. Every year, post-race, I see photos, but never the real actual creatures. Gives me something to aim for in 2013.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Trail Tales, Part 2

I am happy to report that I successfully navigated the trails above Green Lakes State Park on Sunday, April 29. Last week I wrote about getting off track, so I decided to tackle the trails in reverse (no sense returning to where I had goofed up in the first place).
Well, except for one spot where I turned left instead of right (and fortuitously ran into Green Lakes Endurance Runs director Todd Baum, who pointed out the proper way), I did it!
The goal here is to discover how I really feel about possibly running an ultramarathon on a trail, Green Lakes, perhaps. I know how my body feels after just one loop on that course; either I choose to build up to four loops (for a 50K ultra distance), or I don't. This is one reason I'm giving myself so long to work toward this--any ultra will come in 2013, though I have two smaller trail runs in mind for 2012.
Meanwhile, I am starting to get the jitters about my half-ironman, Aug. 19. Par for the course, I suppose. Last week, on a whim, I attempted to swim 3000 meters; that's not the HIM distance--2000M is--but I had the time, so what the heck. I was able to do that, while resting only a few times.
It's hill work I need, especially on my bike. And my biking will be made easier when my husband installs my new clipless pedals, and I get my new biking shoes delivered. I can't wait! For the past three years, I have biked wearing running shoes and with standard bike pedals. How? I have no idea; when you don't have a huge disposable income, you purchase what you need when you can.

I am biking in the same shoes I ran in. Not the most effective way to compete.
So look out! I'm hoping the new gear shows up in time for me to practice for and compete in Du the Lakes, May 12.
Meanwhile, I have a little running race coming up May 6, known as the Mountain Goat. "Little," as in 10 miles up and down the city's hills. Bring it on!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trail Tales

So, I've decided to tackle an ultramarathon. Ultras come in several distances--25 kilometers, 50K, 50 miles, 100K. Since I'm planning on running a road marathon in October, the Empire State Marathon, right here in little ol' Syracuse, a 25K will seem anticlimactic. So a 50K--31 miles--it is! Luckily, there already exists an ultra in Syracuse, the Green Lakes Endurance Runs, held every August at lovely Green Lakes State Park.

So I'm considering August 2013 for my maiden ultra, which provides plenty of time to train.

Which leads me to the point of this blog--the trail system at Green Lakes. I took a break from the Mountain Goat training runs (that race is May 6) on Saturday, April 21, to tackle the 8 miles or so that one loop of the Green Lakes ultra course entails. It was a cool, damp day, and I dressed like I would for an 8-mile run in 50-degree weather.

Unfortunately, conditions deteriorated quickly--it got colder and damper--and I was soon too chilled to really enjoy myself. Then there was the confusing map I had printed, in color, and carried with me, confident that I could find my way. Once I made my way up the steep hill from Round Lake, I encountered a confusing intersection and pulled out my map. A helpful hiker happened by: "Do you know where you want to go?" I couldn't resist in my answer: "Sure, I know where I want to go; I just don't know how to get there." He pointed me in the proper direction, really trying to assist me--"It's a right, and then a quick left and then another right. . ."

At one point I called my husband, who asked if I was all right. I was fine, I said, and, while not technically lost, still having difficulty finding my way. Stubborn is one of my strengths, or not, so I kept at it, following the printout right out of the state park and onto private property that was labeled with a "No Trespassing" sign.


I turned around and headed back down the steep hill I had climbed, found another trail which again led to private homes, headed back out and then tried yet again. After having run for an hour and starting to feel it (trail running, while not so jarring on the lower body, carries with it its own set of challenges, and my legs were starting to complain). So I headed back out and made my way back to the beginning of the series of trails (those above Round Lake).

The map showed a less-serpentine route at the back end of the prescribed route, so I took that for a few miles, hoping to link up to where I had gone wrong. Those legs just weren't going to cooperate, however, and I headed back down. Fatigue (and hunger; not dehydration--I had plenty of water and Gatorade) won out over my obstinate nature.

Here's the issue I discovered with the trail map vs. the trails that map outlined: it was confusing! The map labeled the trails by their name--Deer Run Trail, Old Growth Trail, etc. The trails are labeled with small colored signs and corresponding blazes on trees. So. . . I'm out there looking for the Deer Run Trail, and all I see is yellow (the label I discovered after comparing the maps).

When I got back to civilization I studied both the race map and the state park map; I'll be damned if I can figure out how the green trail, which should have linked with the orange trail on the backside of the route, wound up with me, scratching my head, on posted private property.

So next time I head out that way, maps in hand, I will run this route in reverse. Eventually I should remember exactly where I need to go.

Now if only the miserable damp weather we've had for most of late April will be gone by then, so I can adequately warm up while I'm out there.

Monday, March 26, 2012

30 Minutes or Bust

So. . . I ran my first race of the 2012 season on March 25, a 5K in Pulaski, School House to White House. Not only did I want to avoid familiar eyes (thus the 45-minute drive from home), but the race benefited a worthy cause--the efforts of the Pulaski High School marching band to raise enough money to play at the White House on July 4, 2014. Oh, and I did see a few folks I know--John and Brandi Ferrini--but that was it. I had to chuckle at the guy wearing the Ohio State sweatshirt, a day after the Buckeyes ended SU Orangemen dreams of the Final Four.
Realistic after surgery on both feet, but also eager to really break a sweat, I agreed with my husband when he asked if he should look for me at the finish in 28 minutes. That's a 9-minute mile pace, give or take, and a reasonable goal so early in my training. My warmup wasn't the greatest--the pinching at the "hardware" sight of swelling in my foot continues (not to worry, everything is fine; it's just scar tissue)--but it doubled as a half-mile fun run that I did alongside my 8-year-old. I popped a second Aleve before race time and was off!
It's hard to see, but the timer says 28:37.
This race was cool for several reasons--I always enjoy running in the villages of upstate New York, people on porches or in their driveways on lawnchairs are unfailingly encouraging, and, even though it was chilly and damp, crowd support actually was substantial. There are a lot of corners in this race, and you go into a neighborhood twice--to be expected, I suppose, because if you run in one direction for two miles, you've likely left the village of Pulaski!
Halfway through I was passed a woman I just knew was in my age group--hey, one thinks of these things when one is as competitive as this one is. I tried for a mile to pass her, but it just didn't happen.
Had I succeeded, I would have snagged second place in the age group (50-59) instead of third. Naturally, I looked at the first place age group finisher and I would have likely run that. . . a few years ago! So, I proudly placed third out of 13.
Now, I am more than happy with my finish, that I finished, and that I finished under my 30-minute goal. It's a far cry from my best 5K--22.21 at the Festival of Races. But, just the day before I had told myself I would probably never run an 8-minute mile again. Well, hey there, self: A 9:13 pace with a foot that was nagging me for 3.1 miles gives me hope that perhaps 25-minute 5Ks once again lie in my future.
So I'm onto the next: still contemplating a 5K on April 28 that benefits a daycare center, but all signed up for the 10-mile Mountain Goat Run, and just now registered for the Du the Lakes Duathlon (run-bike-run), May 12 at Green Lakes State Park.
I am thrilled that my race season has begun--I'm looking for a more satisfying year, certainly, than 2011 when my foot injury ruled the roost. And I'm looking for a half-marathon to run. Ideas?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stretch Armstrong

Over this past weekend, my unlimited month of yoga classes at O Yoga Studio, for which I paid $35 through Living Social, expired. I am in mourning. I love yoga more than running, and everyone knows how much running means to me.

I have had the privilege to explore yoga classes at a variety of studios in the Syracuse area--O Yoga, CNY Yoga, Fitness & Dance of CNY, CNY Healing Arts Center and Morningside Yoga. And I have been able to participate in a good number of these classes with my daughter, who is now 22. In fact, it was a character trait I noticed in her that led me to sign us up for classes at Morningside, on Westcott Street. When she was 10 or so I realized that she was stressing out over school. The upper grades of elementary school are always tough; combine that with a conscientious student, and you have a kid who needs some coping skills. I thought some calming yoga breathing would serve her well.

Fast-forward 10 years and I am pleased that she continues her yoga practice, realizing that it is an incredible stress-reliever. Besides, it's something we can do together, mother and daughter.

While I enjoy yoga for that reason, my main purpose in doing yoga is for the flexibility, which leads to improved athletic performance and less likelihood of developing injury. That's the overarching goal, but that's not what keeps me returning to the mat at least once a week (more when I have unlimited access to a trained yogi!). In addition to the flexibility benefits resulting from a regular yoga practice, the activity brings with it psychological advantages as well, mostly related to self-esteem.

No matter the studio, no matter the class, every yogi I have practiced with repeats variations of the same mantra: "Honor yourself. Do only what is available to you today. This is your practice; make it what you want. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing in this class: it's not a competition." Thus freed to modify the basic poses you'll feel incredibly liberated! If high crescent lunge is tough on your back foot, drop down on your back knee. If chaturanga feels incredibly challenging today, do knees-chest-and-chin instead. The strength will eventually come, if you continue to practice.

I also like the tradition of setting an intention for your practice--whatever it may be. You can use the 75 minutes on your mat as a chance to work through a particularly vexing problem, come to a conclusion about a difficult home situation, riddle through a work conundrum. I also use running to do that, so, paired with yoga, I often solve the problem even quicker (joking!).

There are several yoga poses I just don't like, mostly because I struggle in them--chair pose always burns my quads, cobra is so fussy with its rule that you have to keep your feet together. But here's another aspect of yoga that makes it so meaningful for me. The poses you struggle with are those whose benefits you need the most. Patience has never been a strong suit for me, but if I stay calm, work with my body wherever it is on whatever day I am practicing yoga, those poses take on greater meaning for me. I suppose it's like training for a marathon--some days it's a struggle logging those miles, but having crossed the finish line is a huge accomplishment. Being able to hold pigeon in a calm, beneficial way, being able to flow through a Vinyasa class from Warrior I to Warrior II to Dancing Warrior--all are steps in the right direction of greater self-awareness.

I urge everyone to try a yoga class--most studios have drop-in rates. While you may not like it, I guarantee you will step off your mat with a better understanding of yourself and your place in the world. Really! All from 60 minutes or so of stretching. I'm the first to look at saving a dollar here and there, which explains why the last three yoga studios I visited were the result of a coupon offer. Still, there's nothing wrong with checking some yoga DVDs out of the library, and seeing which works for you, or not. If you just don't like it, there's always Pilates!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Love Story

As a seasoned journalist, I am adept at the art of eavesdropping. This morning, while dressing for work after swimming 2000 meters at the pool, some ladies congregated apart from me. One woman, clearly in her 70s and in amazing physical shape, started talking about Valentine's Day, and the 14th as a date of import to her and her husband. "We met on July 14; we were married on Sept. 14. We celebrate every special occasion with a bottle of champagne--the solstice, the equinox. . . "

Apparently, this woman and her husband have a liberal definition of special and if it keeps their marriage alive, so what? On every wedding anniversary--she says it'll be 50 years this year--she and her husband read out loud old love letters they sent each other starting a half-century ago. Or they'll read greeting cards they've exchanged over the years. "Some times I have to read his letters to me, because he usually starts crying," I heard her say.

All I can say is, "Wow!"

Some people go their whole lives, even their married lives, without experiencing such devotion. It was wonderful to hear that marriage can be alive and well--if the two involved in that marriage keep it alive and well.

Another conclusion I reached from this is, in these days of electronic communication and text messages, lasting tributes to a shared romantic relationship are fleeting. Few people write letters, actual letters, these days--you know the ones you fold neatly into an envelope that receives a stamp? That kind of letter.

While we have never exchanged letters, my husband, Charlie Bowers, and I have a collection of greeting cards and small pieces of paper traded over the years--nothing close to 50, but that doesn't diminish their impact. Some cards get prominent places of display in my office, but most are tucked away safely. Also in my office is a collection of now-dried roses he has given me on anniversaries and Valentine's days.

The cards could--heck, even should--be brought out of storage to be shared once again, like the couple whose love life (or a small portion of their love life) I heard about in a locker room at a city pool at 7:30 in the morning.

So Happy Valentine's Day, everyone, because every day can be Valentine's Day and you shouldn't wait until Feb. 14 each year to show your loved one how much he or she is loved.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Like Bike

I took my first bike ride of the season today. The weather this winter has been crazy, and I've been feeling sorry for myself while 50 degree days passed me by (perfect for running) and I couldn't even fit my swollen left foot into my running shoe! Last night I decided that if it were above 40 degrees in the morning, I would get on my bike. I checked Time and Temperature (a local service Syracusans will recognize), and Mr. Computerman said 53 degrees. I looked outside, it said rain. Ugh. But I carried on, and am glad I did.
All my blinking lights on, four layers on top, plus my reflective vest, two on bottom, gloves and headband under my helmet, I headed out.
Now, my left foot is still slightly swollen and I wake up with occasional ankle stiffness. After a few miles, the ankle loosened up, I felt warm (though wet) and I was on my way to Baldwinsville.
The route I chose is 18 miles long, enough, I thought, for the first time out. I came home drenched, covered in grit (me and my bike), but so very happy that I had not let the rain deter me, and that I was able to bike the entire length. My bike computer wasn't working (I bet the layoff killed the battery). But today wasn't about speed, or really about the distance; it was about the fact that on Feb. 1 in Syracuse, New York, it was actually warm enough with hardly a trace of snow to ride a bike. That, and the fact, that I was able to do it. It's a good sign as I build toward my first triathlon, the Cooperstown Tri, May 27.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Training Days

I am happy to report that my podiatrist has cleared me for all activity, as long as it feels comfortable, he said. That happened Jan. 18, and I went out for a run the next day. I went slowly because it had been three months since I had done the physical work of running but also because the roads were spotted with ice. While my time for the 2.2 miles was no big deal, my cardio capacity did allow me to run the entire time. I'm guessing that the swimming I have been doing these last four weeks can be credited for that.
While I was recovering I purchased several Living Social/Groupon deals to local fitness centers, Fitness & Dance of CNY Pilates & Yoga, as well as Champions Fitness Center. The former gave me five classes of my choosing and I selected pilates, since I wanted the core work and yoga is familiar to me. Champions' deal is for 10 classes, and they have impressive offerings--Zumba, group cycle, yoga, core, water fitness. I took a cycle class yesterday, and plan on trying out Zumba.
I thought these would be good transitional fitness opportunities until I could start running again. And they are. But quite honestly, I'm not really loving pilates. I'm not sure why, exactly; yoga is just more my style, I guess. The ab/core work of pilates is impressive, and I enjoy the simplicity of the moves that can be quite challenging physically. But it's just not my thing.
Which leads me to my point--there are so many fitness options out there, that folks really have no excuses. Not everyone has to swim-bike-run-lift-yoga as I do, or get on an elliptical, or do pilates. The important thing is that you look into the options, try out a few classes, and see if they're for you. If not (as in my case with pilates), then you just try something else.
Now that I can run again, I am thinking about which race to tackle first. I'm contemplating the Skunk Cabbage 10K, in Ithaca on April 1. I'll keep you posted as to my progress.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Goals for 2012

Here we go again. Remember, I don't believe in resolutions, which I feel feed on the negative and tend to be vague. Instead I prefer the term "goals," which focuses on positive changes that can set you on the path of your choosing.

Last year, I succeeded in achieving five of my 10 goals. Here are another 10 (some duplicates from 2011) that I will work toward in 2012.

1. Reduce the amount of processed food I eat. This includes: frozen anything (except vegetables and ice cream), boxed items, snack mixes, baked goods not made from scratch. These are full of sodium and sugar and strange chemicals that I can't even begin to pronounce. Not healthy.
2. Remember to take my vitamins--Vitamin D and calcium, that is.
3. Run another marathon--since I'm scheduled for the Empire State Marathon in October, I'm already one step toward meeting that goal!
4. Read more.
5. Just like last year, lose 5-10 pounds. Foot surgery forces you off your feet, so weight gain is hard to avoid. Last year I lost 6 pounds, well within this goal.
6. Try to relax completely every 10 days. So very hard to me to do--I equate sitting on the couch with being lazy. (See #4).
7. Throw out/donate the stuff I don't use or don't need. All that extra stuff takes up space; I want to clear the decks!
8. Balance my weekly workouts, meaning pay attention to frequency of strength training, cardio, stretching/pilates, etc. Don't try to do too much of any one discipline. Getting older means sometimes realizing I can't run 8 miles two days in a row. It's OK to mix it up.
9. Realize I'm getting older.
10. Continue to pay down/pay off credit card debt. Every monthly payment is a minor victory. Keep it going!

I suppose these are modest goals, I don't know. Still, they're goals. Like last year, I will check in from time to time to see how I am progressing. Putting this in writing, posting it where my friends can see, keeps me moving forward.
Happy New Year!