Starting from scratch in an elite fitness-blog-world full of expensive gear, and Personal Records she couldn't beat with a car.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wobbly day

So on the one side there's this:

Notice the distinct lack of any send in order form part on the bottom there? That's because it's in an envelope with a check and and all that.

I know, whoop-de-do, a 5K, but it's my first 5K... so that's pretty cool!

Extra bonuses:
  • it's a Halloween themed race (make anything Halloween themed and there's approximately five billion percent higher chance that I'm in)
  • I have at least one friend who plans to be there. She is the consummate cheerleader and the main reason I'm even running at all now, much less training for a 5K
  • it's in the 'hood where I grew up so good chance my Mom will be there
  • the John Theissen Children's Foundation is a great charity with a big local presence in my hometown (seriously, go read how the charity started, it is the warm fuzzies)

On the other side I have some friends going through some devastating times right now and my heart was just not with me running today. I'm glad I ran for some reasons, but I really could have used that time better in light of the circumstances so I'm somewhat mad at myself for running too and I unquestionably carried that with me.

I had no focus to begin with, and to top it all off I had to take an extremely important call about 20 minutes into my run so any rhythm or flow I managed to build up went pretty much kaput at that point.

I did manage to pause my apps (eventually) and continued walking while on the phone, but obviously not an ideal day for either running or the measurement thereof.

Ever feel like you had to justify your run on a particular day (even if it's just to yourself)?
How do you deal with that?

My run today: C25K week 6 day2
2.65 miles at 12:25 per mile
(Nike+ says 2.3m at 13:59)

I did actually go at least two and a half miles but I'm not sure which time to believe more. In addition there was a good four minute walk in the middle of the second mile that totally wasn't supposed to be there. I'm going to continue on to day three on Friday and see how that goes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Loud and clear?

Catcalls completely freak me out when the person is standing right there. 

But from moving cars? Hi-larious. I'm not even kidding.

There's just something about that heartfelt expression of...


It cracks me up every time.

I often worry that they are going to turn around to address the matter more fully so I do try to keep track of what kind of car it was and stay on the lookout for anyone who pulls around for a second bit of interaction. It's a bit unnerving but usually the absurdity that someone actually tried to express any concept more linguistically sophisticated than WOOOO! at 45mph wins out over any lingering fear.

This post brought to you by the guys in the dark blue Nissan last night
the letter "L"
and the number... um... "-oosers"

If I only had a heart (rate monitor)

As I mentioned last week I'll be champing at the bit for a good nine months for my Bia watch, but in the meantime I have to figure out how to make the best use out of the tech I already own. As much as I would love to pick up random new expensive stuff all the time, I'm living on a modest single income in one of the most expensive places to live in the country.  I also have to balance any new expenditures against feeding my shoe "problem".

Admittedly I don't see it as much of a problem, and my boyfriend definitely doesn't. Wait a minute, whose problem is this anyway? I demand a recount!
*ahem* Moving onward.

There is one bit of tech I feel it worth investing in now though because I really like not hurting myself; namely a heart rate monitor.
No, not this heart monitor.
(5 bazillion bonus points if you get the reference!)
The amount of focus that the running community puts on avoiding over-training has been a huge help for me as I have a rather bad habit of hurting myself right when I get in the stride of a new type of exercise. This is the main reason why I decided to start with the couch to 5K program (*coughs* this time). I have some oooold recurring injuries - mostly caused by mild scoliosis, but in addition I am at times overly flexible, and can get a bit overzealous with new things. The bulk of my research up to this point has been focused on ultra basic training info (stretching and nutrition mostly) and figuring out how to protect my joints. Getting the right shoes was huge!

I have built up a bit of muscle and my joints seem to be getting strong enough to hold themselves together, so I am reasonably sure I'm not going to hurt myself too badly just going out for the C25K runs. Now that I feel like I have a strong(ish) base I have begun branching out in my research and developing an interest in heart rate training. I love doing random research*, I'm fussy, I like objective measures, I like not running harder than I have to, and I like new toys. So yeah, pretty much ideal!

The main issue I've had is learning enough about the receiver technology to decide on what tech to pick up. I need something that will work with my current setup (an iPhone) without becoming obsolete once I got my Bia watch. The watch relies on ANT+ technology which appears to be pretty much par for the course. However to use the same heart rate monitor with my iPhone I would also need to have an ANT+ "key" (basically a small receiver thinger which plugs into the bottom of the phone) which will cost a bit extra.

The main companies that come up when you search for bundled monitor/strap/key kits are Wahoo which will set me back about $100, and Garmin which will set me back about $80 (these prices seem pretty consistent across the board, except on the Garmin site where it is unbundled and way more expensive???). The Wahoo key is the main source of the price difference and from what I can tell the main thing that differentiates them is app accessibility: Wahoo will update to a large number of established running apps (and thus sites) while Garmin will only work with the Garmin app.

I'm a bit annoyed at Garmin today because I've been pricing out the map updates for their car GPS units (sheer ridiculousness, by the way), and furthermore I detest having that kind of limitation to a product when there are so many great fitness sites out there, so I think that decided things for me quite nicely!

The Wahoo site also generously points out that I will need a new armband that will accommodate the key. I *was* already thinking about replacing my armband for something more reliably waterproof but man oh man does this stuff add up!

Do you use a heart rate monitor?
What do you like/dislike about it?
What made you decide on your particular model?

*Current reading: the New York Road Runners Club Complete Book of Running and Fitness which I got STUPID cheap used on Amazon

My run today: C25K week 6 day1
2.55 miles at 13:20 per mile

I'm pretty sure someone was trying to steam clean my entire neighborhood today. My legs felt fine but I just couldn't seem to catch my breath. Can't imagine why that might have been... in the 93% humidity.

I felt like I was going slower than usual and I couldn't kick up the speed as much as I would have liked at the end, but I guess I wasn't doing too bad since I actually covered more ground than ever before at a slightly faster pace.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Challenge me!

A new blog, a new month looming - September seems like the perfect time to start one of those 30 day blogging challenges.

I am a giant Halloween-loving cheeser so I already plan on doing a Halloween related challenge for October, but I'm also an impatient cheeser, so I've been looking for something to do in the meantime.

Inveterate Cheeser

I'm pretty new to this whole blogging thing, so this is where I could use your help...

Do you like reading blogs that feature daily challenges?
Have you seen one you particularly liked?
Was there anything that made it stand out?

Any links greatly appreciated!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I fear change but I love new toys, it's a conundrum.

Today's run was all sorts of fraught with new stuff!

New stuff the first:
My RoadID arrived Thursday so I got my account all set up online, this was a bit long but in all fairly easy. I also got a new pair of socks by DeFeet, but I haven't tried them yet so no comment on those for now. I'm not really used to wearing things around my wrist so I decided to wear it to bed to get it all broken in and comfortable before I took it out running. That seemed to do the trick pretty well and I quickly forgot I even had it on. I have extremely small wrists and there was not a lot of extra room in mine, so if you have any question about fit do not go for the small size.

The second:
I had to get a flat tire fixed so I spent a bit of time wandering the mall while I waited. I had a coupon for Sears and needed some new run shorts (I'm tired of hand washing the one pair every time) so I beelined to the sports gear *cough* after a quick jaunt through the shoe section *cough* and picked up a couple of pairs of Everlast Mesh shorts at 50% off (the piping on mine are hot pink and aqua, respectively). They have a nice reasonable rise and a comfortable loose fit, though I was a bit more aware of what my underwear was doing than I am used to.
These do not have the lower back pocket that my previously singular pair of shorts has, so I had to figure out a new way to carry my house-key and in doing so remembered this "travel belt" thing my parents had given me several years back. At the time I declared it irretrievably dorky and promptly threw in the bottom of a drawer, but it seemed like just the thing for the job and I actually remembered where it was, so I dug it out. Neoprene straps, nylon and mesh construction... no brand name on it but I do believe this thing is made for sports in the first place! I had always assumed the middle part was a cell phone pouch but it appears to be made to hold tubular objects, so I finally gave in to my Boyfriend's wishes for me to carry some sort of offensive safety measure and strapped some pepper spray into it.

Much like the wrist band I promptly forgot all about it the minute I started running. I thought it would bounce or make my shorts feel bunchy but it was really quite unobtrusive. I am looking forward to the point in my running where I will have to start putting some sort of fuel thing in that other pocket!

I did also do some changes to my audio setup but more of that with one of my coming posts, wherein I discuss music!

How do you handle your sundries?
What do you consider your baseline running kit?

My run today: C25K week 5 day 3
2.24 miles at 13:24 per mile

20 minutes of running with no walking pauses!! Holycrap!!
Not only did I do it, but I did it without wanting to stop or die or anything! I even felt good enough to break out into a full on run for the last minute and a half (ok, I wanted to die or really mostly just hurl a little bit once I stopped running and started cooling down... but I was already walking by then so I knew it was only going to get better).
The app would have me believe that week six is the scary week, but I think this was the big hurdle for me. There doesn't seem to be anything in week six I feel like can't handle after that 20 min run.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I want it *NOW*

Waiting for the Bia: Multi-Sport GPS Sports Watch with SOS Safety Alert to exist is cramping my style.

Today marks the official halfway point in my Couch To 5K journey (well, workout-wise, hopefully not time-wise*) and I've started thinking just a little bit about where to go after it is done and what tools will be best for me at that point.

I've been using the mobile iPhone app in combination with the Nike+ iPhone app and they are both lovely, but I can't help but wince every time I take my darling, expensive, still fairly new phone out of my sweaty sweaty arm band at the end of a run. With the end of the C25K training I no longer have to use that app, but I'm still tethered to my expensive phone if I want the GPS information and the safety of having a cell phone at hand. I have also started looking a bit at heart rate monitoring because it looks cool, makes sense to me, and also toys.

That's where this lovely Bia watch comes in. I dig out my old iPod and I'm set! It has an emergency contact mode, GPS capabilities with syncing to a number of popular fitness sites, and heart rate monitoring, I've already paid for the watch part (hooray Kickstarter!) and...

And of course it doesn't hit the market until next spring.
Waley, waley, waley!
So in the meantime if I wanted to leave my spendy phone at home I could get a cheap heart rate monitor watch, dig out my old iPod, buy a cheap prepaid cell phone and still be short the GPS info.

Okay, so I get a GPS watch that does heart rate, dig out my iPod, get a prepaid phone, also I may need a rucksack for all of this stuff. Wait, so how am I protecting my financial investment again? By spending money? How's that work?

Though it just occurred to me that there's no reason my phone shouldn't be able to handle the signal for a wireless heart rate monitor *pauses to hit google* and a quick google search tells me that there are a number of options in this direction!

I think I have a research project for tomorrow!

Are you into the toys and gadgets? If so (or if not!) how do you prefer to keep track of your fitness?

My run today: C25K week 5 day 2
2.25 miles at 13:46 per mile

I have been trying to start out easy and accelerate toward the end, so far I've had negative splits in all but one of my runs so this seems to be working out well, but in the end felt like I could have pushed myself much earlier. I was a bit worried about my knee this morning and my hamstring has been tight the last couple of days, but any particular discomforts during the run were fleeting.

*My first attempt at Week1 Day1 was May 4, 2012. More on why I'm not already done in another post, wherein you learn about how my body totally hates me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nothing in and nothing out equals equilibrium... right?

That's how it should work anyway, right? Homeostasis I say!

Anyone who hangs out with me for any period of time figures out pretty quickly that I don't like to pee.  It's not a OCD thing, or medical, or anything like that; I just don't like to interrupt what I'm doing for any kind of *ahm* administrative intake or output. I don't like taking time out for meals either. *shrugs*

For the most part this is not a problem since I am a big fan of finger foods and am not a beverage chugger. I eat at my desk, I make one cup of coffee last an insanely long time (seriously, all day) and I hit the WC when utterly necessary... it's all good. Occasionally a coworker pokes fun at me for still not getting up when I've just said I had to go for the third time, but that's the price one pays for uninterrupted work.

Well, until I started running in record high year for NY heat and humidity, that is.

I know, I know... it could be a sunny 115 in Texas, or India or somewhere similarly tarantula strewn, but it is often like living in a bowl of invisible pea soup here  (or clam chowder if it's low tide!) and that's still no fun, and more importantly it messes with my whole homeostasis thing because I am forced to sweat. *shakes fist*

I'm trying to be better about water (yuck) so I set up my own version of these bottles I found on Pinterest because... well okay, maybe I am a little OCD-ish sometimes.

I figured if I have a bottle staring at me with time goals on it that I may be missing RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME I am more likely to drink it. Except I only have one bottle, and it's smaller, so I have three sets of times, and they are all smeary because I tried to protect the marker with nail polish and it smeared and...

*ahm* Nope, no untoward obsessiveness here... moving onward...

So much to absolutely no one's surprise the mind game worked and I am now drinking (almost) all the water I am supposed to on any given day. Interesting side effect: I am now drinking WAY less coffee and I have pretty much zero interest in sugary beverages. I do however still drink water like it's medicine though, chugged 8 oz at a time.

I know it's better for me in the long run (and my skin is way happier) but the peeing, she still vexes me.

Did you have to change any odd habits when you started running/exercising?


My run today: C25K week 5 day 1
2.30 miles at 13:06 per mile

Finally moving into new territory again, this week should be a doozy since there's a different set of walk/run intervals each day (and NO walking for 20 minutes other than warmup/cooldown on day three!! ack!)

Hamstring and calves were a bit tight but my left hamstring seems to be relaxing a bit.
It was hard to keep pace down to a reasonable enough level to know I would have something left to speed up at the end but I had enough to *run* my last minute and a half and I'm still doing negative splits so I guess I succeeded.

My knees seem to still be good with no braces! This is such an incredible relief!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wearing it on my sleeve

I have never felt like I was in any specific danger while out on a run, but the conditions Wednesday and today (it was so humid I went out at dusk again) really highlighted my need for a better visibility and emergency ID setup.

I've been carrying an expired driver's license with me which has my old address blacked out and my mother's contact info taped to the back. Unfortunately the only place that really makes sense to carry it is shoved in my armband in the pouch behind my phone, not exactly the most obvious or accessible place on earth. I try to wear bright colours (in Wednesday's case a *fluorescent* yellow extra large tee shirt) but the only reflective item on me is my shoes. I have my mother set up in the ICE slot in my phone, but my phone auto locks, so the info on it is useless to me in an emergency. Either way, as poster c o o k i e monster points out in this thread, EMS providers don't have time to futz around with phones looking for your info.

I've been digging around the internet for a while it seems the consensus is that the Road ID products are solid and dependable, and given the relative lack of price difference in the various brands out there I figured I might as well go with those. Road ID lays out a pretty straightforward case for getting one of their IDs and if that isn't enough convincing you can also check out the hundreds of testimonials on their site. It also did not hurt that I found a coupon code for a touch more than the base shipping cost in the Runner's World post above ($2 off with ARR8627 until 1/31/13).

Even leaving accidental situations aside, I have approximately ZERO illusions about the goodness of a portion my fellow Earthlings when presented with an opportunity for wrongdoing. This attitude came from my own academic background and upbringing, but for those of you less naturally wary please consider the cases of Sarah Hart and Sherry Arnold before trusting your life to random strangers. I am an extremely petite, fit(ish) woman, running around in spandexy clothing with a very expensive phone strapped to my arm (attached to those tell-tale white headphones no less). While I'm running in a pretty good neighborhood, I really might as well have a target taped on me.

I went for the Wrist ID Sport in the screaming yellow, with update-able online database option.

Funny, my cats' microchips also have update-able online database options!

I was originally considering the ankle version as I thought the wrist band might get annoying, but in the end I went with this one for a few reasons;

  • it has reflective stitching and a pleasantly eye-searing colour. There is saddening lack of neon on their site for a safety product company, besides, neon is so in this year!
  • it could be worn over sleeves when it gets colder (whereas I feel the ankle one would be too well hidden by pants)
  • The silicone options would probably feel yucky (technical term!) once the band got sweated up
  • shoes get knocked off too often in car vs pedestrian incidents to go with the shoe tag
  • The interactive ID provides the opportunity to attach a whole giant load of info to your ID
  • I move every couple of years and I like that I can update my address info without having to get a new band
I'm expecting my Road ID sometime next week, at which point I'll weigh in on how awesome/annoying it is. For now I'll have to make do with a hidden, half blacked out, expired driver's license with a picture so out of date I actually get hard stares from bar bouncers when I get ID'd.

My run today: C25K week 4 day 3
2.24 miles at 14:02 per mile (vs 2.25 miles at 14:00 per mile on June 26th)

I should have eaten more and earlier, I also should have stretched more as my calves, feet, and left hamstring  were very tight and complainy for the first mile. On the plus side I ran for the first time in a WHILE without any sort of knee braces and I felt totally fine in that regard. 

It's good to see I'm about exactly on par with where I left off nearly two months ago, I think I'm actually looking forward to trying out week five!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Running after myself

Running in the rain last night I felt a little like I was crazy, but a lot like I was myself. There was a time, so very long ago it seems, when I did things because I had decided that they were going to get done, and that was that.

Couch To 5K week 4 day 2, the second time around after a month and a half long moving (and post move death plague) hiatus. It was dusk, it was drizzling heavily, and it was sticky enough that pausing outside for any time under shelter meant certain mosquito bites. I took it easy enough that while I could feel my muscles I never worried about being winded, and it felt like the last running interval was over in a flash.

Plodding along at a snail's pace through the puddles and around weighted branches, praying a ziplock would keep my phone dry enough, and tasting the hair product from the afternoon's haircut running into my mouth.. this all had such a wonderful long lost certainty to it.

Sure I was wet, and it was annoying, and I was more than a little worried about vehicular manslaughter and/or iPhone failure (hey, priorities, right?) but from the moment I got up yesterday  knew what I was going to do with my evening, and I had no question about whether I would or could do it. This is what my brain was like once, and I lost it all in the sad brain years of my mid to late 20s.

Have I finally found my drive again?

And just to keep things honest:
Couch to 5k week 4 day 2
2.09 miles at 15:06 per mile (vs 2.33 miles at 13:30 per mile on June 23rd) 

Can I blame it on the rain? Is anyone else now doing a little early 90s dance?