Sunday, March 9, 2014

Catching up on 5 weeks in one post

12 more days till I can enjoy the view from my house every. single. day.

Stanley and I did a dog show in Denver on Valentine's weekend. He was Select Dog both days and most importantly we had fun!

Typical morning dog walk views

The boys and I hiked Rabbit Mountain on a VERY cold day a couple weeks ago.

Random sunrise colors

Stanley turned 7 on March 1st.  Birthday croissants were mandatory.

Then - whoops - I left him at home to go to a beer festival

But I did let him play with his best buddy in the snow after that!

We also visited the dog park in our new-future town last weekend.  10 acres of fun!

The aftermath:

On Friday the boys and I made 2 trips to the park.  One at 8am...

And one at 4pm...

And then - this should be a novelty because I DON'T take stupid selfies all the time - we had a little fun with it :)

It was all melted and sunny and beautiful and warm Saturday.  Because Boulder winters rock.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chilly Cheeks Duathlon

Yeah, yeah so it's taken me 2 weeks to get around to writing the report of a race that took just a little over an hour…grad school life is exhaustingly busy. As it is I've missed talking to my husband 2 nights in a row because I fell asleep before the appointed hour.

Anyway…a couple weeks ago I rolled on out from Boulder down to Cherry Creek State Park in Denver for my first multisport race since moving to Colorado.  I've been riding indoors since, oh, the flood? So…it's been nearly 6 months since I biked outdoors.  Fun times.  We were lucky that it was a beautiful clear day and there was no snow on the ground.  It wasn't especially warm and it was VERY windy but I had a few layers on to stay comfy until close to race time.  Then I shivered at the start line.

The format of the race was a ~10.9 mile bike and a 4 mile run.  We went off in randomized pre-determined waves of 10-15 people every minute.  They started with wave A.  I was in wave R.  So there was a little waiting but it gave me time to spin my legs out and do a warmup run and roll on up to the start with my R homies.  I looked around - we were indeed a Random group, everything from me to some folks on mountain bikes to some CSU tri team guys.  I was pretty sure the collegiate athletes would drop me like a hot potato off the start.

They did…for the minute it took me to get clipped in on the downhill start.  And then…I caught and passed them?  WTF?  I figured from then on it was just a challenge to hold 'em off.  I hammered as hard as I could, uphill or down, and passed people from various waves ahead of me and wasn't passed too often.  We wound our way around the reservoir and back.  Finally, the end was in sight and I hopped off to run into transition.

Bike: 10.89 miles, 19.3 mph average, 33:54

Transition involved a long run in, drop the bike, run away with helmet still on (hey, it's FEBRUARY!  Thanks to the volunteer who grabbed it and put it in my spot for me!), run waaaaaaaaaay up a hill and finally cross the mat.

T1-and-only: 1:39

And then it was up up up the hill for a long time on the run.  I felt like complete ass from the start.  Welcome to altitude, bitch.  So I dialed my effort back and hoped my run would come back to me.  We kept on running up and finally turned onto a trail where we at least alternated up and down.  At one point I saw Peyton Manning jog by; I'm pretty sure I didn't imagine it.  Mile by mile I dropped the pace so that I negative-split the whole 4 miles.  Definitely not the kind of pace I'm used to for a sprint race but again it's February at altitude.

Run: 4.02 miles, 8:45/mi, 35:10.

Tea showed up right at the finish from HER race to cheer for me and kick my ass into gear a little harder (and take pictures).  It worked, I chased down the woman in front of me by the end!

And with that my first race of the year was done - phew, let's hope we worked out all the kinks :)  I was 5th/18 in the 30-39 age group…if we had had *proper* age groups, I would have been 3rd in 35-39.  I'll take it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Just Another Marathon Monday

Mondays this semester are no joke.  I spend a good portion of every Sunday planning, prepping and resting up for my worst day of the week.  The schedule looks something like this:

5:30-7 - Masters swim.  Coach has been giving me masters on Monday because that's really all I have time for.  And this is the only time slot I can attend.  Sometimes I manage to get up early and make it there, sometimes I…don't.  There have been days where the extra sleep has felt more necessary, especially with the schedule for the rest of the day.
Anytime between 7 and 12 - Seeing patients for our clinical trial visits.  It all depends on what I am assigned when the schedule goes out on Friday afternoon.  This week I was assigned to run two hour-long patient visits at 8:30 am and 10am, but I had to be at work by 8 to get their files from the lab and go to clinic from there.
12-1 - First class of the day: department colloquium.  Weekly presentations, either a professor in the department or an outside speaker.
1-2 - Race home and walk the dogs, then race back to campus
2-3 - Genetics/genomics class
3-4 - Grad student recitation for the colloquium.  A chance to ask questions of the week's speaker.  Graded on participation and a paper written about one of the talks.
4-5 - Grad student recitation for the genetics/genomics class.  Each grad student presents a paper and leads a discussion about it.
5-9 - I teach physiology lab during this time slot.  I'm lucky I got a great group of students who make it fun. And also that they are understanding about how insanely caffeinated I am at that point being at the end of my long days.
9-?? - When I am done teaching, I come home, give the dogs their evening walk and dinner, sit on the couch, force food into my mouth, and try to decompress enough to fall asleep.

Clearly Tuesday-Friday have a lot of making-up to do for Mondays.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Getting It Done

(2 blog posts in a row? It's a February miracle!)

Remarkably, I haven't had to add an awful lot to my winter running wardrobe to survive outdoors in a Colorado winter.  I had tights, long sleeved tops, gloves, I just learned how to layer them. But thanks to Tea, I did pick up one huge winter running tip: Ice Spikes.  What a great, effective and inexpensive way to turn a pair of running shoes into shoes that will keep me upright on ice and snow (and snow on top of ice) without a lot of advanced gadgetry.

My Sunday long run in the ice and snow was at a far faster pace than I could have done without added support - it was slippery out there with a layer of fresh snow on top of the old frozen-melted-refrozen stuff.  I'm getting better and better at identifying non-human footprints in the snow too :)  Tromping around our future property last week, Jeff and I saw lots of deer and rabbit tracks, as well as some coyote poop.  On my long run on the trail, I saw more deer, bunny, lots of dogs (of course), and some very clear raccoon prints (shown below).
Jeff has gone back to Arizona until our closing date on the house. In the meantime I get to ride out the last 6 weeks of winter here and coordinate the small stuff, like movers, renting a PO box for our future house (no mail delivery out there), etc.  Boulder winters are mostly quite enjoyable, with lots of sunshine and reasonably warm days even after a dump of snow (a FAR cry from my days in Chicago). We've only experienced 2 weeks of stupid-cold temps (one in December and one this last week) - my threshold being that when it's so cold the dogs can barely walk much less do their business (the day of -10 degrees, everyone went on poop strike) and I get close to frostbite no matter how many layers I wear, this is no longer fun.  Thankfully we don't get a lot of that here and I'm hiring a voodoo priestess optimistic that we'll get through the next month and a half with pretty snow and more moderate (i.e. highs above 15 degrees) temperatures.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

That Run Isn't Going To Do Itself

I figured I'd write a blog post/update on life while I delay the start of my Sunday morning bike-run juuuuuust a little bit longer.  I fell off the wagon hard this week.  Jeff came to visit to handle some house-related tasks (more on that in a moment) and I had a very stressful workweek including a genomics/genetics midterm and I started feeling lousy and overtired and on the verge of sick so yadda yadda my workouts fell off the map for a few days as I just tried to stay afloat. And I'm ok with it…as I mentioned about balance in my previous post, I'm doing my best to find the sweet spot where I can stay healthy while managing a lot; occasionally it's bound to happen.  I've put together a string of pretty good weeks though so that's the best I can ask for at this point.  Today, I get back on track, even if it means pulling out the shoes with the Ice Spikes and running in the snow and ice.

Side note: Today was the first time I slipped and fell in snow/ice.  But I managed to keep ahold of my coffee and bag of dog poop and just land on my butt in a pile of old snow.  #winning

In case it hasn't become apparent, we are under contract on a house!  We close and move in in less than 6 weeks.  We had the inspection this week and it went well…mostly minor things that need fixing and likely nearly all of it we will wait to do on our own after moving in.  There are a few things we plan to change after living in the house a while (master bathroom layout) but otherwise it's so very much our dream home - finally! - and we can enjoy it right away.

So we will have a very cool mountain home on some land near Lyons, Colorado by spring!  I've got a pedigree on our land starting with the US Land Grant Office in 1891 and we learned this week that our end of the valley is the site of an old west ghost town, a former quarry boomtown of reasonable size.  The dogs are going to LOVE it.  My commute will certainly be longer than the 2 miles I have now but the driving will be much more reasonable than the mountain driving I was expecting to have with us looking up near Nederland, Ward, etc - there will be very little descending and mostly just flat highway driving.  If I want to run from my house, I'll have miles of super-low-traffic dirt road to run on!  And once you get to the paved road, there is fabulous cycling right away.  Mostly we are just so excited for the quiet…the amazing quiet and the dark - the stars should be amazing at night!!

In the meantime, I need to get through the rest of winter. I don't think I'll have any problem staying busy.  Between work and school and training, my weekdays are filled to the brim.  Stan and I have a dog show coming up, I've got my first race of the year in 2 weeks, and I'll have my first tri of the year under my belt before the move!  Oh and I think there's a beer festival in there somewhere too…it is Boulder after all!

Have a nice Sunday!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Something Old, Something New

Going into a new season of racing and a new year of life, there are always new things to try and changes to be made, as well as things that should remain untouched!  A few of these things that have been on my mind...

The ELF - Some people seem to change coaches as often as they change underpants - I'm not one of them.  Why mess with success and what works?  5 years of setting PRs and developing as an athlete and she still surprises me with new and inventive ways to push myself and suffer and improve.

Osmo - As a physiologist in training, I've read the research and the argument for gender-specific fueling/recovery made by Stacy Sims is beyond compelling.  As an athlete, the data resonates quite strongly with my own experiences training and racing.  So I'm quite excited to try Osmo nutrition products this year and see how it goes!

Home Sweet Home - With any luck, we should be in our very own house in Colorado in a couple more months.  I'll get to pack up my stuff and move - yet again - but I will finally be living with my husband and Puck again too!

Races - Given that I live in a new state 1000 miles away from my hometown, it's no surprise that every one of my races this year is brand-spanking-new to me.  New people to race against, new courses to tackle, lots of fresh territory to explore!  (The only thing I've come close to having familiarity with is SOMA, where I once raced the old Quarterman as one of my very first triathlons)

Time Management - It's old news that I'm chronically over scheduled.  With a full-time lab job plus classes and teaching AND triathlon training AND dogs, I'm getting plenty of practice putting my time management skills to work.  I find I'm doing more of my training in the evenings after I get home and walk the dogs (I was always a morning-only exerciser!) - in particular, it's been nice to swim around 8pm when the pool is empty and then drink a recovery smoothie and sleep like the dead!

Soaking It All In - I live in one of the most beautiful places around and I can't let that go unappreciated!  In the past I've been challenged in terms of taking the time to relax (possibly a chronic problem with Type A triathletes) but it's critical when I spend most of my time working so hard at school.  One of the ways I'm trying to balance all of my commitments is by leaving weekends open and not entering a lot of dog events (at least for now, when we barely find any time to train) - it gives me an opportunity to catch up and recharge and do spontaneous fun things.  Last weekend I visited Lyons with the dogs (twice) and went to Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park for the first time.  I try to plan at least one fun hike and outing for the dogs every weekend, after all of my training is done.

2014 is looking pretty special so far!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Snow Days

While Jeff and Puck were here visiting, we got a big dump of snow.  Which meant lots of fun and snow-hiking for the dogs, especially Puck who had never seen any before.  We also learned Stanley loves to catch snowballs and is quite good at it!