Tuesday, February 27, 2007

To Velvet...

Dear Velvet,

Our dear, sweet black lab/pit bull mutt. Our "pitador-able." You were a great dog.

When I met you, you were ten years old. You had an established family - you, Karma and Phil- but you welcomed me anyway. I got to know you during walks along the greenbelt and brushing your neverending black coat. You were always so sweet to me.

When Karma was sick, you cared for her and kept her company. When Phil was sick, you cared for him, too.

You were the most well behaved dog I ever met. Lately, you would stay in the front yard and watch the world go by. You would wait patiently for someone to come scratch your belly and cuddle you.

These past few months were rough on you, girl, but you braved them like a champ. Today, the pain was just too much. I am so sorry, but we had to help you get to a better place.

We love you Velvet. And we will miss you.

U.T. Cycling Study - Number Two

Finished my last cycling study at U.T. today. I sure am glad to be done. All of the kinesiology lab folks know me too darn well at this point.

It was interesting to watch my heart rate stay almost perfectly consistent the entire time - at 60% effort, my heart rate is 138. I also had a very consistent VO2Max reading throughout the trial. As I said in my last post about this study, two hours is a long time. I now have an added appreciation for the fact that when I'm outside biking (versus biking on a stationary bike keeping a constant pace), I can take some rests and either stop or coast. I will also now appreciate the fact that I don't really need rest, either.

Biopsies went better this time, probably because I wasn't as nervous. They did have to dig in my leg twice the second go round because Dr. Ivy didn't get anything good on his first attempt. So, I thought I was through but then he had to go again. That kind of sucked. I asked to see what the muscle looked like when he was done. Let me warn you if you are ever doing a biopsy - don't ask to see anything. It was really gross!!

Today, I realizes that I do not like wheaties and skim milk. I had to eat a full bowl of that, plus two cups of water, and it sucked. Maybe it's because I never drink milk (only soy milk), but I will not be using wheaties as my recovery food, even if it proves to be the miracle fix.

The funniest thing about this study is how I showered when I was done. I can't get the biopsy wound wet, so I had to cover the huge pressure pack with saran wrap. Phil had the brilliant idea of taping it down to my thigh with US Priority Mail tape. I looked pretty darn ridiculous, but it worked!

So, now all I have to do is sit pretty and wait for my $300 check to come. We'll see if they start missing me too much and want me to come back in for another round of studies. I'm thinking I will take a break for a while!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Week 7 Workouts

Thank god this ended up being an easy week. Originally, I thought my goal was 30 miles running/85 biking - but luckily Panther revised it last minute.

Total Run: 12 miles / 3 (and 1/2) times (Goal = easy week)
Total Bike: 38 miles / 2 times (Goal = easy week)
Total Swim: 3100m / 2 times (Goal = 2 times)
Total Gym: 3 times

I had a great day today - I met up with Laura & Chris for a ride at the Veloway, and ended up doing my time trial sense I will be in San Antonio Thursday during our quality ride. I took 30 seconds off my time since the last trial (currently @ 24:22, last time was 24:55), and I certainly see places I can improve more. My goal is to go less than 24 minutes, or even 20mph, by next trial. I ended up riding 30 miles, and had a blast - I actually really enjoyed being on the bike. (The beautiful weather certainly helped!) I followed the ride with a quick mile run, which was hard. It made me question why I do triathlons... but I forgot all about it by the time I was in the car headed home. :)

Additionally, I went to the gym this afternoon to do my revised "max strength" workout from Panther. I wasn't really enjoying my new gym routine, and Panther pointed out that I wasn't pushing myself nearly hard enough. So, he made me up my weights and my sets. I swear I was about to fall over today, I was so tired! I could hardly raise my arms... a good sign, I believe!

(Luckily I had enough energy left tonight to help Phil clean out the garage. We rearranged a ton of stuff to make room for all of our Running Banana exhibit displays. Phil also put up hooks so we could hang our bikes (we have 4 between us) - this is much better than our old way of throwing them over a bunch of boxes.)

Overall, I was pleased with the end of this week. I didn't work out at all on Monday or Tuesday, but I doubled up every other day and managed to get some mileage in. This week may be tricky since I have my last cycling study, but at least I know I'll get some bike mileage in.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

thank you, la quinta

I am really tired. I have been going non-stop since, well, I can't really remember. This isn't anything unusual for me, though I'm afraid it's getting out of hand.

I'll preface this by saying that many of my friends ran the marathon on Sunday and that takes an enormous amount of energy. I can't compete with that!

But, back to me. I can't remember the last day or night that I've taken it easy. I've been traveling a lot for work lately. Every week, I'm either in Houston or San Antonio or both and it's not going to let up any time soon. The trips are getting longer, too. I'm starting a collection of my hotel room keys, and it is growing fast.

For example, here was my week since last Wednesday.
Wed: gym in the morning, owners meeting at work, association luncheon, meeting with marathon office, work, dinner with friends
Thurs: run in morning, vet housecall for Velvet, work, association luncheon, work, set up running banana at expo, association event at night, late dinner with coworker.
Fri: gym in morning, sales meeting at work, lunch with coworkers, work, leave to run - oops, forgot to buy dog food, so run errands, then expo, dinner with friends
Sat: run in morning, work expo all day, take down expo, dinner with phil
Sun: work at marathon from 4:30am until 2:00pm, post marathon party, lunch, run with maggie, swim at Springs, shower and nearly conk out while trying to warm up in front of my space heater, skip post-race party at Tap Room
Mon: drive to Houston, interviews all day, check in to hotel, association evening event
Tues: work at expo all day, drive to different hotel, check emails/work, update blog.

So, this probably isn't that abnormal - but I'm seriously so tired. I haven't even had time to work out this week. I come back to Austin tomorrow. I can't wait. (Even though I have two events to go to tomorrow night. No rest, yet again.)

And why, you ask, did I title my post "Thank you, la quinta?" Because at 9:00, I realized I had forgotten to eat dinner. I didn't want to leave. So I asked the front desk if I could raid their kitchen so I wouldn't have to leave. They looked at me with the most pathetic eyes, telling me I looked exhausted. Two bowls of Total, 1/2 a small carton of milk, and an apple later - I'm extremely thankful to them. Thank you, La Quinta angels.

Austin, I'm coming home soon. And I can't wait to stop and breathe.

P.S. Tonight, Ostrich asked me what I'm most looking forward to next, small or big. My answer? Finishing the book I've been trying to get through for over 4 months now. Perhaps I will get off the computer and start working on that...

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Congratulations, my 2007 marathon friends.

I would especially like to congratulate Wiley. Regardless of that last mile, you did it. You'll feel the marathon pull again soon. Hell, you might already be feeling it. (Soon we'll laugh at the picture on my camera phone.)

And Ostrich. I know this was a particularly painful training year for you. I rarely heard you complain... instead you pushed forward and ignored the pain. I felt particularly honored to place that medal around your shoulders today. (Springs!?)

And Katie, Sharon, Rhonda, Phillip, Rob, Michelle, Leslie, Sarah, Heather, Jody, Laurel and many more who I'm probably forgetting. Bravo, guys. Bravo.

As for me - I feel that it's a privilege to volunteer at the marathon. I joked that the only reason I do it is for the "all access" badge - but of course that's not true. I'm proud to work on something that is so meaningful for so many people. Admittedly, I was jealous that I couldn't cheer with Tim, Kenny & Holly throughout the morning. (Thanks, though, for letting me hang with you (and the pope) Friday night.)

But I promise I was thinking of all of you. Still am. Congratulations.

Week 6 Workouts

Not a fabulous week, but I got as much done as I could:

Total Run: 18 miles / 4 times (Goal = 19)
Total Bike: 35 miles / 1 time (Goal = 75)
Total Swim: 900m / 1 time (Goal = 2 times)
Total Gym: 3 times

That muscle biopsy hurt a lot more than I thought it would, thus I could only walk around the track on Tuesday night. It also prevented me from swimming because I couldn't get it wet. Also, it is %*#(@ing cold outside! There is no motivation to bike in this weather.

I did, however, spend 10 hours on my feet today volunteering at the marathon. More on that later...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

UT Cycling Study, First Session

This morning was my first of two rides for my second study at U.T. As I wrote before, the purpose of this study is to measure Wheaties cereal as a recovery food. The study consists of a 2 hour ride at 60% effort determined by my VO2max, followed by 2 muscle biopsies taken an hour apart.

I started my fast last night at 7:00 and woke up starving this morning. But, I was used to this from my last study. Upon arriving, we got off to a great start. Catheter in - check. Blood draws - check. Bike setup - check. Heart rate monitor working - check. Weight - check. Speaking of weight, I was 4 pounds less than last Friday! Now we're talking!

I was really happy with the resistance level of the bike. 60% was nowhere near as hard as the 75% or 80% I had at the last study. I learned later though that because my VO2Max has increased, my resistance has increased too - so it actually was a bit harder than I originally thought. Anyway, I managed just fine for 1.5 hours. By the last 30 minutes, I was starting to get tired. Two hours is still two hours, and working at the same resistance, at 80RPM, with no breaks and no food/water, is a lot. Luckily, I could look at my watch this time which helped.

As soon as the 2 hours was up, I took off my bike shoes, jumped on the scale (lost a pound!), and then laid on the lab table to have my muscle biopsy done. First Dr. Ivy cleaned my left thigh, and then numbed it with lydocaine. Then he cut an incision and cut out some muscle. Yeah, pretty gross, huh? He bandaged it up and I got to rest on a chair for an hour while they took my blood every 15 minutes. Oh, as soon as I got into the chair, I had to drink 2 bottles of Gatorade. Luckily I could work on my laptop, so I checked work email and IMed Lulu. But they started having trouble drawing blood, and had to mess with my right arm for 30 minutes before they finally just took out the catheter and stuck me with a new needle.

After an hour, I went back on the lab table for my second biopsy. Thank god they numbed my leg again, I was already starting to feel sore. Once my second biopsy was done, I got my instructions on how to take care of my leg, and I was free to hobble back to my car.

My left leg is pretty sore today. I've been making sure to get up and walk around so the muscles don't tighten up too much. I look really funny wearing a pressure pack under my pants. (As Phil said, "is that a pressure pack on your leg or are you just happy to see me?") My arm hurts too, from all the trouble they had drawing blood at the end. I'm not really looking forward to the next session, but at least I only have one more to go.

Besides, I'm sure I'll be proud of my scar in a few days. I love showing off my war wounds!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Week 5 Workouts

It is AWESOME to be able to run again! And, I finally got to ride my bike outside. Great week, overall.

Total Run: 17 miles / 4 times (Goal = 6)
Total Bike: 59 miles / 3 times (Goal = 70)
Total Swim: 5000m / 3 times (Goal = 2 times)
Total Gym: 2 times

The highlights:
  • Amy, Antonio, Maggie, Robert, Tim, Hector and I did the Lil' Longhorn 5K on Saturday. This was a small, somewhat informal race, filled mainly with students from UT Elementary School. I opted to do it because I wanted to do a race, the shirts were good, and it was cheap. Even though the course was closer to 3 miles than a true 5K, I still finished in 23:25, which was a new PR. And, I took second place female overall to Amy, and I won my age group. Gotta love cherry pickin' races!
  • This morning I did a 30 mile bike/3 mile run brick with Claire. We chose the Mopac/SW Parkway/71/Bee Caves Route. Though I am still slow, I didn't struggle nearly as much on the hills as I did last year. I did end up with a really bad flat about 26 miles in and luckily some friendly cyclists stopped to help. I had screw lodged all the way through my tire, so they used a powerbar wrapper to keep the new tube from busting. (cool trick!) Luckily we made it back down Bee Caves safely, though Claire somehow lost her phone on the way. As soon as I reached my doorstep, I grabbed Olive and we ran together - I was pleasantly surprised to feel so great running - took it easy and still did under 9:30s, even with the Rollingwood hills.
  • Speaking of this workout, I am so happy to have easy access to great bike routes. I like knowing that I actually don't have to drive myself somewhere to go bike.
  • Thursday was our bike time trial for Camp Punishment. First, I was impressed with myself just for meeting the group and doing the workout. Second, I actually didn't do too bad. I'm not fast by any means, but I didn't completely suck either. Good news!
  • Glenda and I did a 1000 meter time trial at Stacy Pool yesterday. I was pretty disappointed to see 25:22 for a time, but we later realized that since Stacy is longer, we actually did 1320, which brought my 100 time to 1:55. (Thanks Glenda for doing the math.) I am happy with that - I wasn't pushing it, so I know I definitely could have gone faster, and I also know I have a lot of room for improvement. I'm glad to have something to work for.
  • I did my first quality run workout in months. I was going to meet the Bluejackets, but I wussed out and tried to do their workout earlier. The track was closed, so Robert & I did a 3/3, 2/2, 1/1 fartlek - it felt good to push the pace again.
  • I took Wednesday off. It was my first concious "OFF DAY" and I managed not to go to the gym or anything. Instead, I joined the Pain Train at happy hour and enjoyed not being covered in sweat for once.

Overall, a fabulous week. I was tested in all three disciplines and was happy with the results. I'm also motivated because I definitely have a lot of room to get faster.

Friday, February 09, 2007

U.T. Cycling Study, Take Two

I'm at it again! U.T. recruited me to do another cycling study. This one is funded by General Mills; the study is to determine if Wheaties and milk make a good recovery food for endurance athletes.*

I did my VO2Max test again this afternoon, and my scores actually went up. Which isn't saying much since my body utilizes oxygen as efficiently as a turtle runs a 5K. But that's okay, it's up from 39 to 43. I consider this good because I could feel the soreness in my legs from yesterday's workout within 2 minutes of riding. So, maybe I even sandbagged this a bit? (Do I feel better with that thought? Sure I do!)

What was annoying was that I had to weigh myself, and I weigh only .2 lbs less than the beginning of my last study. I have been watching my nutrition like crazy, and the scale doesn't care! I know, I know - I have more muscle, yadda yadda. Whatever! Honestly, I'm not really that upset about this, because I feel so much better than I did even at the beginning of this year. And yes, I have gained quite a bit of muscle over the past 8 weeks. But still, I was hoping for some validation. Oh well.

So next Tuesday I do the first of the two studies. I'll ride the stationary bike for exactly two hours at 60% effort. This should equate to about 30-35 miles, I think. Then I will undergo a muscle biopsy in my mid-quad. I'm not looking forward to this part at all, but I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about it later.) Then I either drink gatorade, or Wheaties & milk, and rest for an hour. Then they do the muscle biopsy again.

I'm having second thoughts about the biopsy part of this, but then I think about the $300 I'm making from doing this 2 times. And, it's an easy way to get my long rides in.

Thus... on to Cycling Study #2!

*By the way, being in marketing, I can't help but wonder how Wheaties is going to market this. Are they going to have little milk and cereal stations for runners after races? Eww!!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Who's Who? Who?

As I culled through my junk mail this afternoon, I opened a letter from Cambridge Who's Who that said, "It is my pleasure to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion into the 2007/2008 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women "Honors Edition" of the Registry.

The 2007/2008 edition of the Registry will include biographies of our country's most accomplished women. Inclusion is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement."

Well, folks, looks like I've made it. I have been recognized by some random solicitor that wants me to eventually buy lots of books that have my biography in them. Yes indeed, today is quite possibly the single highest mark of achievement for me. Looks like I can retire. (And I thought it was all downhill once I was an official Who's Who in high school.)

The funniest part of this letter is the fine print, which reads: "Cambridge Who's Who is proudly not associated or affiliated with any other Who's Who Publication or Organization." Prestigious, eh?!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Week 4 Workouts

I didn't feel comfortable running until Friday, but my foot doesn't hurt at all anymore. Last week was crazy at work, so I wasn't able to make my quality bike ride.

Total Run: 17 miles / 3 times (Goal = ?)
Total Bike: 10 miles / 1 time (Goal = 65)
Total Swim: 6200m / 3 times (Goal = 2 times)
Total Gym: 3 times

The highlights:
  • Being able to run again. Duh!
  • Swimming 3/4 mile at Barton Springs today. Phil said he overheard some guys say, 'That girl has a really good stroke." I've been working on it - trying to overcome my lazy elbows.
  • Friday morning run - it was so fun to have Michelle join our little run group.
  • The gym. I worked out with an unnamed coach of mine who said "You're only lifting 20 pounds less than me?! That's crap!" I took that to mean that I'm getting much stronger. At any rate, my favorite personal trainer has been giving me the "Looking good Girl!" whenever I walk in to the gym. Nice!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sunshine Saturday

Today turned out to be a pretty great day. Largely, because I feel especially lucky to have some pretty great friends.

The big event of the day was helping Phil with his marathon volunteer duties - neighborhood notification. Phil & I recruited our friends to meet at the Runtex Annex at noon and then break into small groups to "take on" parts of the marathon course. The goal was to place door hangers on all affected houses along the course. When I pulled up to the annex, we had gathered 30 friends to help! This was the most we had ever recruited, and I was just amazed at how many people were there, ready to help us. Thanks to such great support, we finished the notification in record time. So... thank you to everyone who came out. I am so appreciative, and I feel really lucky to have such amazing & thoughtful friends.

By the way, I'm officially naming Wiley "Grand Master Mike" since he now has an official marathon logo/KKK shirt.

Anyway, today was good for other reasons too. I was supposed to ride with Lulu this morning, but we both agreed it was too cold to venture outside. So, I got on my trainer and rode for 10 miles, then took Olive with me for a run around the neighborhood. This was her first time running with me, and she did so great. I was so excited to have a new running partner and be able to spend some quality time with her. I must admit that I was kind of upset that my workout only totaled about an hour, but I wasn't upset enough to get back on my bike to finish my suggested mileage!

I also finished - and I mean completely finished - three crossword puzzles this morning. Sweet!!

After volunteering, Phil & I had lunch with our friends Terry & Pat. Aside from enjoying seeing them, I was really proud of how I ate. (More details on this later.) We went to a mexican food restaurant called Elsi's, and I didn't eat any chips (surprisingly easy to do, I must admit!) And since I'd already had my official lunch and only needed a snack, I found the only healthy thing on the menu and ordered it. (A cucumber and jicama salad.)

When we got home, I mapped out my run from this morning and learned that it was actually exactly 3 miles. I had only thought it was about 1.5, so I am extremely excited to have found a perfect 3 mile loop in my neighborhood. And it had it's fair share of hills, which makes it challenging yet fun. I'm really excited about this!

So, now I'm hanging out until we go to an art show at Yard Dog with Terry & Pat. This was supposed to be girl's night with Lulu & Banana, but we had to reschedule for later. So instead, I'm keeping my art-themed weekend alive. Last night, we went to B Scene at the Blanton with Tim & Rhonda - so much fun! And I found a new section of the museum that I fell in love with - the ornamental prints section. If you haven't been to the museum, what are you waiting for?? It is so awesome!

Tomorrow I'm ditching my bike ride and instead running with Stephanie. My schedule says bike, frankly, I don't wanna! I'm taking Maggie's advice and doing what I want so that I don't get burned out later in my training. This is just the base period anyway, and I'm so excited to be able to run again that I'm taking advantage of it!