Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's c-c-c-cold out there

I am not sure what it is (maybe the lack of daylight at this time of year?), but lately I have had such a difficult time getting out of bed for work in the morning. The alarm goes off at 7am, then the snooze button is pressed 3-4 times until it is 7:30am, at which point I finally drag myself out of bed. Today and yesterday, after 5 days off work and as many days of lazy sleep-ins, it was 7:45am when I mustered all the strength I had and rolled out of bed. Funny thing is, I was not any more late for work than usual (yes, I am pretty much late for work every day, but nobody's perfect). I suppose less time was spent lolly-gagging in the kitchen and getting ready than is typically.

This running challenge thingy is going well so far - I have had a couple weeks now of 5-runs-a-week.
Some good things about it:
-shedding the couple of extra pounds put on after taking a nice break in November of doing nothing.
-improving my fitness/endurance
-how come I can only come up with two? Can anyone think of more?
Some not-so-good things about it:
-wearing out my running shoes faster
-more laundry to do
-have to carefully plan what I am eating before running 5 days a week
-more chance of injury?
-running in the cold/poor footing outside
Are there any I am missing?? I can't think right now.
I have been making myself go outside for at least a couple runs a week, with the rest on the tready, as I can't bear to do all of them inside. Sunday's run was 90 mins in the windchill-ridden cold. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Let's hope so because this chilly weather is here to stay for at least another week...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Christmas has come and gone and now it is nearly 2009. This year with the way the holidays fell, I had 5 days in a row off of work (today sadly being the last of those), which I absolutely enjoyed. On Christmas Eve my whole family had dinner at Geoff's family's house, which was fantastic. We brought Hugo and it was of course non-stop action the whole evening, with him and the 2 Bichon's.

I spent Christmas Day at my dad's house and had a lovely day. Hugo and Gucci played continuously for the entire day, with neither of them having a nap, which is unheard of. As a result, Hugo spent the better part of Boxing Day and the next day asleep. The challenge of the day was keeping Hugo and Mo the cat ('Mo Money') apart. In the past 4 or 5 years, my sister Alice and I started a tradition where we go running together on Christmas. In 2005 there was no snow on the ground, it was 5C, and I wore shorts. This year happened to be the coldest so far (about -18C), so we braved the cold and went out for a short one (3.8 miles). I know the exact distance thanks to the fabulous gift that I got from Geoff - a Garmin 405 watch, so I will now know how fast and far I am running.

We had a wonderful dinner and ate way too much. The evening was spent playing Balderdash - which is always hilarious. The alcohol consumption this year did not come close to measuring the amount consumed last year. I only had a couple glasses of wine and a beer. Last year was a tough year so perhaps the alcohol was more needed. [This is the second Christmas without my mom and my brother.]

Undoubtedly, the best part of the holidays was spending a lot of quality time with the family. We played some card games (Asshole) after dinner on Boxing Day, which was super-fun. Boxing Day dinner was a second turkey dinner at my dad's house, which was just as good, if not better, as the first. With all this lavish food, I have been dilligent with my training this week and have not missed a single workout. I am going to have to brave the cold today to do a long run (90mins), as I am not in the mood for a long tready run.

I work Monday-Tuesday, then on Wed. my family is off to Banff for 2 nights to enjoy New Year's out of town. The plan was to ski/snowboard on Jan. 1, but the forecast is not looking too promising, with a high of about -25C that day. I will not be snowboarding in those kind of temperatures. I will remember to bring my camera this time and take some pictures. Bye for now!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The deep freeze continues...

So I picked up my BRAND new bike last week from Way Past Fast... more on that later when I actually have time to take some pictures and download them.

After several runs in a row on the tready at home (Wed, Thurs, Sat), I decided to mix things up and headed to the gym with Geoff yesterday. I ran on the treadmill for 40mins then headed up to the track for 30mins. Sometimes it's annoying on the track as I find I need to just check my pride at the door, when I get passed by people looking like they're not-so-in-shape. I'm not exactly trying to run fast as it is a long run, but then I start to wonder why exactly the person is going faster than me - is it faster turn-over, is it a longer stride length, or is it more powerful push-offs? Is there another factor that I am forgetting that could contribute to faster running?

Geoff wisely pointed out when I complained to him about feeling slow that right now I need not worry about how fast I am going as I am doing base mileage, and also it could be possible that these people were doing a couple fast laps around the track as their entire workout or it was their first run in weeks and tomorrow they won't be able to walk as they went too hard in their run today. The point is - don't jump to conclusions, and don't assume. If you assume, you are an ass (good old analogy used in law school, I am told).

This is definitely something I need to work on - not automatically assuming something of a person I don't even know or have never met.

I only got one swim in last week, and I am blaming it on the $h!tty weather we are having. After spending 60-75 mins driving home from work every day last week, I could not face going out again in my car to the pool (another 30mins one-way, as the local pool is closed). It is dangerous driving anywhere on the roads these days. Black ice, blowing snow, snow drifts, wind, arctic cold, you name it - we have it. It is a huge undertaking to even make a lane change, with the pile ups of snow between each lane. Anyway, long story short, on my way home from work on Friday, I stopped at a pool and did my swim there, sharing the 'Fast' lane with 3 others (who all, incidentally, seemed to have a distorted perception of their current swimming abilities) for the first 30 mins.

Today and tomorrow I work full days, then I am not working the rest of the week. Christmas Eve is the Graham kids annual holiday shopping trip. That's right - we get all of our Christmas shopping done the day before Christmas. It works for us - that way we get everything in one go and there is no need to get stressed out!! I don't understand why everyone gets stressed out this time of year - it is supposed to be a special time of year that is relaxing and spent with your family.

I never get stressed out at Christmas- in fact, I make a point of purposely NOT getting stressed out and worried about gifts and shopping, etc. I am going to ENJOY my days off and spend quality time with my family and friends.

[I did make a few donations to some local charities (SPCA, Hope Mission), as I feel it is very important to help others less fortunate than you. It's not just at this time of year (I make donations year-round), but sometimes this is the season where it is needed the most. I have just realized that my donations for 2008 to several charities have now passed $1,000 (including the following: sponsored child -World Vision, Suicide Prevention, IFAW, Hope Mission, and SPCA).]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It snows here every day

We are right in the middle of a cold snap here in Edmonton. I guess we can't really complain as we had a beautiful fall and great weather up until Dec. 1, but it is definitely hard to get used to. The main thing I don't like is the traffic situation. I have been spending almost double the amount of time in my car compared to usual, driving to and from work. Yesterday it took me an hour to get home, and this morning it took me nearly an hour to get here. I can think of better ways to spend my time.

I have been running on the treadmill lots, which can get boring at times, but it is good for the mental toughness aspect. I say if you can run on the treadmill for 90 mins then you should be able to last 'mentally' for the duration of a race. Yesterday evening I ran outside in not-too-bad temperatures of about -15C (-20 with the wind). It started snowing heavily during my run but I ended up having a really good workout nonetheless. My runs outside are always WAY better than the ones I do on the treadmill, they don't feel as hard and I just feel in better shape or something. It probably helped that I had a bit of a nap before running yesterday. After being in the car for an hour driving home from work, I was too tired to get my run completed right away, which is what I needed to do in order to swim at 8:30pm at Coronation. Instead I had to nap for a bit and didn't end up going running until 7:45pm, which left me skipping the swim. Oh well, I really just need to focus on running right now anyway and not worry about swimming. The run challenge has begun - this week I am doing 5 runs!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

70 or 80 runs in 100 days

I decided to take on the slow-twitch challenge (not the crazy 100 runs in 100 days) but a toned-down version of it. So I will be aiming to do 70 or 80 runs in 100 days, not sure yet which one it will be but 70 is looking a bit more realistic. Here's hoping the boost in run mileage will give me a boost in speed. It's looking like my running workouts for this coming weekend will all be done in the safety and comfort of the indoors. The always-accurate weather people are calling for highs of -25C and lows of -31C for Sat-Sun. Yikes! I'm not ready for that (are we ever ready for that kind of cold?).

I am looking forward to a little break from coaching swimming, which starts next week. The annual pool-shut-down starts this Saturday and goes until Jan. 4. While I love coaching swimming, it will be nice to have a little bit of extra time for a few weeks (which, as an afterthought, will likely end up being spent running anyway). Our club's Christmas party is this Saturday, which should be fun. Good food and wine - count me in!

Tonight I will definitely have to swim, after skipping my swim on Tuesday night, despite being fully geared up in my bathing suit on deck while coaching swim practice. I simply didn't have the motivation to get in the water, so I just left after coaching, walking sheepishly out with my swim bag over my shoulder. I'm not sure why we have to get down on ourselves for missing a workout. When I skip a workout I feel lazy (even though I had barely finished my 50 min treadmill run on Tuesday by the time I had to leave for the pool to coach). There's just something about this time of year where you feel like you can almost justify missing a workout, as the races seem so far away. But the feelings of laziness will always be present when skipping a workout (which I of course plan not to be doing too much of from here on out).

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Whatever happened to the courtesy wave?

courtesy wave:
After signalling, being given room to change, and changing lanes, a driver should wave, indicating 'thanks' for the room given.
It is becoming increasingly dangerous (and not to mention annoying) to drive in this city. Lately, it seems that people have forgotten the concept of a courtesy wave. I'm sure you're all familiar with the situation: next to you someone wants to merge into your lane to get into the far left lane during rush hour, because they're too stupid to plan their lane change in advance. You kindly let them in to the protest of the drivers behind you. And then - no wave, no smile, no acknowledgement whatsoever.

If you are waiting for someone to let you into another lane, and I am nice enough to let you go, then give me a little wave to show your appreciation. If you are rude and you cut me off instead of waiting for me to let you in, then also give me a little wave to show that you are in fact aware that you are an a$$hole. If somebody gives me a courtesy wave after doing something to piss me off, then most likely I will not get angry and utter obsenities. A courtesy wave will go a long way.

Yesterday I had a terrible run, but an okay swim. I ran on the treadmill because I couldn't face the cold outside (it's really not even that cold right now, we have just been spoiled with mild temperatures lately and now that it is -10C, it is hard to handle). I suffered through 40 mins (cutting my planned 50min short), as I was experiencing a sharp pain in my right hip flexor area for some reason, and also I felt really out of shape. My swim was just average, basically right now I am swimming 3 times a week just to stay in shape, and I have not been doing any hard sets or fast stuff.

I woke up today with such a sore left side of my neck that I can only rotate about half as far as I normally can. This made for a painful experience when shoulder checking during my drive to work this morning. For some reason this happens to me about once a year - I sleep on my neck weird and wake up the next day with a very sharp pain in one side, and then I can't turn my head very far. Instead I have to rotate my whole body. Today if I went swimming I would not be able to breathe to my left side. Usually in a day or two I will be back to normal.