Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mid-run English-Japanese language lesson

For my day off today, I packed up Baby F and headed to one of my favorite Seattle run spots - Alki Beach.  My goal for today was a 2 mile run, 9:58 pace. 

It was cool on the water but nice anyway. The first mile out was 10:00, so pretty good. On the way back, I was maintaining my pace until I passed a guy on the boardwalk with a giant video camera who flashed a sign at me: 


I paused to look and the guy quickly started explaining that he makes videos and books teaching Japanese people how to speak "American" English. He showed me a lesson book with his picture on the back cover and explained what he needed help with: to interview 500 Americans. He was up to 480, only 20 to go. 

Sure, why not?!

He gave me a microphone to clip on my shirt, a notebook with words to read, and then pointed a video camera at me and Baby F. He started the interview by asking me to state my name and occupation, how long I'd been working in my field, what I like to do on the weekends, and what I know about Japan. 

I talked about our famous Mariner, Ichiro Suzuki, my favorite author, Haruki Murakami, and about the fish market I visited in Tokyo once. 

Baby F doesn't look very impressed. 

He then had me read words with the letter "K" and asked me to explain how to make the "K" sound. That was tricky - how DO you explain it? 

And that was it!

Back on my path, I finished the 2 mile run on pace then spent some time with Baby F playing on the beach. 

Sometime this week, I need to run a track workout (3x800m) and get a 6-mile long run in. This is all part of my Runner's World Smart Coach 4-week 5k training plan to get ready for the Swedish SummeRun (see my page here). My family will be walking it again but I decided I'd try to RUN it. 

Maybe even race it? 

(butterflies in stomach, just thinking about it!)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lake Padden Triathlon Recap

I survived the Lake Padden Tri (recreational division)! 

It was a lot of fun doing the Lake Padden Triathlon with buddy, KH, but I do have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Here's how it went...

The morning of the event was a bit of a rush as we were cleaning up the pizza boxes and such from the mini-party we had the night before and also packing baby food, clothes, triathlon stuff, etc so we could hit the road. We had a hard time finding the key to the bike rack for the car but eventually got on our way and avoided the Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon traffic.

We hit Bellingham at 11:45 am, race start time was 1 pm. We piled out of the car and I started to unload my stuff, including bike. Mr. F had the key to the bike rack. Or so I thought...


To avoid freaking out, I grabbed Baby F and headed to registration while Mr. F and friend from San Diego looked for the bike rack key. On the way to check-in, I called a Bellingham girl friend, "The H," who was coming to cheer KH and I on, and let her know I might not have a bike for the race. The H was super-sweet and offered to ride her bike to the park so I could borrow hers if needed. Phew!

Next, I picked up my registration packet, had number 437 drawn on my arm and calf, then headed back to the car. The boys had managed to pick the lock on the bike rack with a knife (reassuring, right?) and had my stuff all ready to go. Mr. F was saved from the dog house!

I headed to the transition area to get my bike + shoes + helmet + water bottle + socks + sunglasses + running shoes + hat + towel organized. I think triathlons really are a huge organizational challenge. There are so many details to think about. 

I lubed up with Body Glide at key points to facilitate wetsuit donning/doffing. Meanwhile, KH found me and got her bike on the same rack. It was nice that we were both running late because it gave us little time to stress & obsess about the perfect placement for all the gear. The downside of being rushed is that I didn't get a decent pre-race photo of KH and I together :(  We had just enough time to squeeze into our too-tight wetsuits.

KH and I headed to the start and were among a sea of green swim caps. We took off in the last of 5 heats of swimmers. Since it hasn't been very warm this season, the water was a bit CHILLY. My head froze. Between the cold and my lack of swimming training, I soon became light-headed. I had to back-stroke a while just to catch my breath. The bad part of that is that it was so slow, I felt like I was swimming backward. I gained so much more ground with the crawl so I had to really force myself to ignore the dizzy / light-headedness to keep pushing forward. It was brutal. Maybe a team triathlon would have been better?

After an eternity, I made it through the 1/4 mile swim. In the transition, I fought to get my wetsuit off without falling over. I actually had to sit down for a while until the dizzy feeling went away. KH came into the transition area, we laughed at each other for the madness of it all. This gave me time to dry my feet, put on my socks and bike shoes, drink some of the best sports drink ever, HEED, then get the rest of my bike gear.

Laughing because I couldn't get my wetsuit unzipped.

I trotted out of the transition with my bike, hopped on, and soon found I couldn't remember how to get my darn shoes clipped in. Yes, should have trained on my road bike a bit. I've just been riding my hybrid commuter bike lately. Oops. After a while, I got my shoes clipped in and got into a rhythm. The 10-mile bike ride was a roller-coaster heaven, cruising through beautiful rural areas SE of Bellingham. I loved zipping along on my little road bike with skinny tires. I am happy to report that I made it through the whole route, including the brutal switchback hills at the end, without dismounting and walking my bike. Yeah!

Heading back into the transition area, I saw Mr. San Diego, Mr. F, and Baby F. In transition, I took off my bike gear, pulled on my running shoes and hat, and headed out on the beautiful wooded trail around Lake Padden. I picked what I thought was a comfortable but challenging pace and focused on maintaining that for the 2.6-mile route. Running the trail brought back fond memories of my college days running around the lake.

Mr. PT would shriek if he saw this heel-plant. Definitely NOT the forefoot barefoot running technique we've been working on!

About half-way into the run, I started to get weary. My sugar-buzz from the HEED was wearing off. To keep my pace, I thought about my friend Katie (aesthetician extraordinaire) who did this triathlon last year AFTER running the Seattle R&R Half Marathon. Yes, two events back-to-back. Crazy girl!

I focused on the red-shirt "City Gym" girl in front of me to drag me along the path. After a while, I could hear people cheering at the finish line. I saw Mr. KH and Baby KH. I hadn't seen KH since the transition between the swim and bike. Then I saw Mr. San Diego and Mr. F & Baby F. And I heard The H's loud "Go Alma!" and fantastic laugh. Yeah! The finish!

I felt so relieved!!!!!!!! I couldn't believe I had done it - the whole triathlon with much less training than in 2008 and still didn't have to walk my bike or walk during the run.

So here is where the mixed feelings come in:

In 2008, I swam about 1x/week for the 10 - 12 weeks before the triathlon. That's a lot for me. Even though I enjoy swimming, I'm really a horrible swimmer. I was also running pretty consistently and got quite a few long bike rides under my belt. Here are my 2008 stats on this same course:

TOTAL: 1:15:27 = 1/4 mi swim (7:53); T1 (3:05); 10 mi bike (41:31); T2 (1:41); 2.6 mi run (21:17)

Here are my 2010 stats, 10 lbs heavier and with less training:

TOTAL: 1:20:03 = 1/4 mi swim (9:57); T1 (3:55); 10 mi bike (42:17); T2 (1:30); 2.6 mi run (22:25)

Only 4.5 minutes difference. I don't know if I should be happy about that or if I should decide that training is somewhat over-rated? I was really expecting my time this year to be at least 15 minutes slower. How can this be? 

The swim training really did help me in 2008 and I certainly felt better while swimming in 2008 compared to this year but the biking and running weren't very different. Or maybe those few minutes are a big difference given the short distances?

Either way, I had a fabulous time and enjoyed my IPA and lamb burger on pretzel bun at Bellingham's Boundary Bay Brewery with KH + clan, The H, Mr. San Diego, and my F-boys. It was a beautiful day in my old college town and I hope KH and I do the triathlon again next year (and The H too!).

The question is, how much will we train next year?

Oh yes, and we found the bike rack keys on the garage floor when we got home. Wah-wah!

Just for fun, here is a post-race picture from 2008 of KH, Katie (crazy girl & aesthetician extraordinaire), me, and The H (who, by the way, completed her swim leg in a mere 4 minutes in 2008). 

Thursday, June 24, 2010


So, I got two weeks of crash-training in for my triathlon then this past Sunday I flew to Chicago for some work-related training (Father's Day of all days!). After sitting in the plane and getting checked into my sweet downtown hotel...

Sunday: BIG steak. BIG beer. Mmm.

Monday, training all day. Then (this is good) I did an architectural walking tour for 2+ hours. Downtown Deco: It was FABULOUS! I highly recommend this tour by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. I am glad to have gotten this exercise after Sunday night's rich meal and prior to the Monday night meal at an Italian chop house.

Monday: BIG steak. BIG wine. Mmm.

Tuesday, training all day then flight home. At home, notice sore throat. Feeling pretty heavy from all the big meals and drinks.

Wednesday, runny nose and feeling crummy all day. I was able to pull together a good meal of salmon cakes (we just picked up a 42# case of silvers). No beer or wine.

Thursday, can't get out of bed. Nanny comes to watch baby F and I'm still sleeping. I finally rolled out of bed feeling a bit better and eventually got to work around 11 AM. I'm actually feeling quite a bit better but cancelled my training swim at the Y with partner, KH, tonight. I'm still pretty wiped out.

Alma to KH: "I can't swim tonight - I can barely breathe. Can we just not do the tri and say we did?"
KH: "I already rented my wetsuit. We're doing it. It won't be that bad, it'll be fun."
Alma: *sigh*

So there it is. I'm being a lame-ass and want to bail on Saturday's triathlon. I'm tired. But KH is right - it won't be that bad. I just need to have fun with it. Suck it up Alma!

Now the unpleasant task of trying on my wetsuit that I haven't worn in two years to confirm my suspicion that it doesn't fit...


No real accomplishments this week (yet) and no goals except getting over this cold and my bad attitude and finishing the triathlon on Saturday in one piece.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bike, run, swim

To take advantage of child care and no work today, I decided to do a brick workout.

I went to the Y and rode the stationary bike for 20 minutes, level 5, hilly course, 5.3 miles total. The Lake Padden Triathlon coming up 1.5 weeks is 10 miles and I have yet to go that far (my work commute is only 2.5 miles each way). Eep!

After the bike, I jumped onto a treadmill where I did 5 minutes of barefoot running for the first time in about a month. Yeah - that means my calves are going to be killing me tomorrow. It was really good though to have that reminder of how my gait is supposed to be when I have shoes on. I then did another 15 minutes of regular running then 5 minutes of walking. In all 25 minutes, I got 2.3 miles in. A little short but o.k.

It felt SO good about getting that workout in! And I was relieved that my running form hadn't seemed to have slipped too much from the barefoot style even though I hadn't gone barefoot in so long. Talks-to-close PT guy would be happy.

I have bought no work clothes since before I was pregnant and the only shoes I've bought lately are Dansko. Comfortable, yes. Dressy, no. I'm still not fitting into all my pre-pregnancy work clothes and I've been too (a), stubborn and (b), cheap to buy new work clothes. I'd rather buy fun workout clothes or cute jeans. Well, I need to suck it up and accept that it's going to be a while before I get rid of this post-baby body and maybe never will be the same as I was before.

I totally struck out on the clothes. BUT I scored in the shoes department! Somehow I managed to find two pairs of nice, dressy, but comfortable shoes that were originally $130 each for just $23 each at Macy's. How do they stay in business?? CRAZY!

Tonight my friend KH called and got me to meet her at the Y for an evening swim. Our swim leg of the triathlon is about 1/4 mile. My goal for swimming tonight was to do 1/2 mile. I didn't quite make it but I was able to go the full quarter mile (9 laps) continuous without stopping. I don't know if I've EVER done that in training without breast- or back-stroking for a little while to rest and catch my breath. Yeeha! I rested for a bit after the 9 laps because it totally worked me to do that much. I was able to get another 5 laps in before I headed to the sauna to relax.

While doing the bike, run, and swim, I could totally feel my sore abs from the damn Dimity core workout that Mr. F and I did Sunday night and last night. It's a "hurts so good" thing.

I think tomorrow will be a rest day. I'll take the train to work in the morning (good walking) instead of biking and not worry about any workouts except the core workout in the evening with Mr. F.

Friday will be a good day for running - it's supposed to be sunny and close to 70.

I'm off for a REALLY good sleep tonight...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Yup, I'm sore!

I biked to/from work today and my quads were burning from that hill I ran yesterday. For the second time, one of my panniers flew off my rack and I got a long scratch on my laptop. It still runs but hopefully our IT folks won't get mad. At least a car didn't run over it!

At lunch, I hiked UP to Pike Place Market to show some co-workers a really great deli (I brought my lunch) then went to the post office to mail Baby F's 1-year photos to his Gramma F and realized, I FORGOT MY WALLET! So, I had to hike back down to the office, get my wallet, then hike back UP to the post office to mail stuff. Then, I went to Sound Sports to replace the swim cap I left at the Y last week. Oops! It took more time that I really had today but at least it was exercise and hopefully makes up for that beer I had with dinner.

Did I mention that we have a kegerator in the basement? Yeah. It makes it really hard not to have a beer every night with dinner. I use a small glass to help control the calorie intake but you know...

It tastes so good when it touches my lips!!  

Thank you, Will Ferrell. 

Ack! Don't make me laugh because my abs are killing me from those crunches on the ball from damn Dimity's workout last night. I think I'll recover tonight and do the workout again tomorrow night.

With the 48 minute round-trip bike commute giving me 250 "equivalent" steps per minute biked (as per Cornerstone Fitness, the company running this 10k-A-Day Challenge for my company), I am up to 19,108 steps today. Woohoo!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm going to be sore tomorrow...

This morning, I went for my "Cheasty uphill" loop run. It's a 3-mile loop from my house and about half of it is one LONG uphill. Somehow, I made it up the whole thing without stopping to walk! During the uphill portion, I saw what was either a dead, flat crow or black cat. I tried not to look close enough to figure out which it was (it was ON the trail, had to swerve and avert eyes to avoid). Also, I saw a dead mouse that had one little leg sticking up in the air. It was actually kind of cute - poor little guy. Don't be sad though - it's not all gloom up here - I also saw a (live) squirrel and lots of birds.

I'm going to be sore tomorrow from that hill, but a good sore. 

During the run, I mixed in some plyometrics. It seems like there have been quite a few Runner's World recommendations to add those in (along with wind sprints) to your regular workouts so today I actually remembered. After recovering from the hill, I did 20 each of high knees, butt kicks, bounds, and skips. After looking online when I got home, I can see that wasn't enough but it was a good start.

I'm going to be sore tomorrow from those plyos, but a good sore.

Later, I did some yard work, mopped, ran up & down the stairs doing laundry, etc. The typical routine. Took a nice walk with Baby and Mr. F to hear music near the light rail station which should help to loosen those muscles. Just now while watching the Tony's, Mr. F (did hell freeze over?) and I did Dimity's core workout that Kerrie recommended the other day. It's really a good one! I can already feel my abs and lower back tightening up. We did two sets in 30 minutes. I asked Mr. F to help me (and him) do that workout at least twice a week, preferably three times. That core workout was a good warmup for my PT exercises. Remember those? Yeah, I still need to keep at those.

I'm going to be sore tomorrow from that core work, but a good sore. 

A VERY good day of being active. So far, I have 22,988 steps taken today for the big 10k-A-Day challenge we're doing at work. That should make up for some lighter days. Woohoo!

Again, this week should include a trip to the pool, at least one bike commute, the Dimity core workout (2 times!), and of course, my favorite, some running.  

Saturday, June 12, 2010


For the last two weeks, I have averaged approximately 11,780 steps walked per day.

My company initiated a two-month walking program on June 1 and the goal is for everyone to walk about 10,000 steps per day (~ 5 miles). Everyone wears a pedometer and each day we record our steps walked on a little website. Each office competes for the most steps walked per person. I'm not sure what we ice cream party? HA!

10k steps is actually quite a bit unless you exercise. I think most people don't exercise? You can see my daily average is not so hot but I'm doing better - biked into work one day last week and best of all, made it to the POOL. I forgot how good it feels to swim. I was really nervous because swimming is so challenging for me but it wasn't half has difficult as I thought it would be (e.g., I thought I would drown but I actually survived).

Wearing this pedometer has been pretty interesting. I find myself walking to the coffee shop a couple blocks farther rather than going to the one closest...or walking to the next train stop down the route rather than taking the one right next to my office. I think those extra few blocks add up each day.

The sun is actually out and it's sweltering in Seattle (70's) so a run tomorrow AM will be quite nice in this weather. Up this week: swim again on Wednesday and at least one day of bike commuting. Also, shooting for 3 runs, minimum of 3 miles each.

The icing on my cake will be to take Kerrie's lead and do some home workouts to strengthen my core. Go Kerrie!

Monday, June 7, 2010

North Olympic Discovery HALF Marathon Walk - check!

Great day yesterday with the girls! You better sit down, this is a bit long, but I have lots of photos for your enjoyment. I tried to keep this brief but it is, after all, the first race I've done since July 13, 2008 (XTERRA Off-Road Triathon, trail running leg only) and I'm a bit excited.

You can see below that the race start in Port Angeles (red star) is on our Olympic Peninsula (where they filmed the Twilight series). To get there from Seattle, MB and I drove from Seattle to Edmonds, then took a ferry to Kingston, then drove the rest of the way to Port Angeles. Seattle is in that inlet to the left of the Highway 18 sign. Poor placement.

MB & I lived the high life at the Super 8 motel the night before the North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon. We got lucky finding a quaint restaurant where we had steamed clams as our appie, wild Alaskan salmon with rapini for the entrée, and a flourless chocolate torte for dessert. All complimented by a Blue Moon white Belgian ale (no orange slice, drat!).

For once, I actually got a decent night of sleep in a hotel. The alarm went off at 6:15 am and I felt well-rested. Almost immediately, I had a text from Kerrie (MomvsMarathon) saying that she had just arrived at the race start. ACK! I was just waking up! That poor Kerrie - She drove that morning to the race from her hometown which is even farther away than Seattle.

MB & I got ready quickly and drove to the race finish where we caught a shuttle to the start, eating our continental breakfast consisting of bread with jam and a bran muffin. Not so great.

Once we got to the start, Kerrie was easy to spot in her pink plaid running skirt and pink jacket, just as she described. LOVE that outfit! Kerrie had hoped to run the full marathon that day but developed a few injuries a few weeks ago. Did she give up and wallow in self pity? NO! She's been cross-training and keeping her fitness up and woke up before the sun to walk the half marathon with MB and I.

We had an hour to hang out before the start, during which time innocent bystander #1 took a photo of MB, Kerrie, and I. My aunt saw this picture and says she knows the lady with the yellow stripe on her shorts. Funny.

At the sound of the gun, everyone moved. We started at the very back so as not to get in the way of the runners. It was strange not to start running but even as walkers, we had to jockey & vie for positions, weaving around the slower walkers. Among them...oh wait! COUGAR SIGHTING!

I totally forgot what I was going to say. Anyway, in addition to these cougars, we saw some nice domesticated mammals: dogs, horses, cows as well as some lovely chickens. After a couple miles, we left our pastoral setting and headed into the woods where we saw venison deer. Did you know I was a vegetarian for 9 years? Past tense.

The course was just beautiful - lush coastal forest, rolling hills, and many creek crossings over little bridges. Wildflowers in bloom included foxglove, lupine, butter cups, Scotchbroom (invasive), nettles, red hot pokers (I know, not really wild but these had gone feral), and many others I'm forgetting. Here are just a few highlights. 



One of my favorite parts was this random mirror (that's me taking my photo) along the path followed by


Along the course, we were serenaded by several drum circles and a "vibes" (or xylophone - what's the difference?) band, which was pretty cool. Also, each aid station was sponsored by a different local organization that was competing for a prize based on their "fun" factor. A few favorites included the Mexican aid station, the Superheroes, and the cancer survivors (note Kerrie with the high-five).



The last several miles were along the coast, the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I didn't take any coastal view shots because at this point, I was TIRED and I was focused on the finish line. We were happy to see a seal though hanging out in some kelp beds but no other wildlife sightings along the coast. 

I enjoyed hearing the MC attempt to say my last name. I've heard worse! MB, Kerrie, and I finished together. As we crossed in 3:07:35, we were each assigned a buddy who gave us our medal, handed us refreshments, and walked us through the finish chute to return our timing chips. We had to pry MB's volunteer away from her (I don't think MB looked like she needed the extra help?) so we could make our way to the FOOD LINE. 

Regarding the post-race food, there were three things that made this race's food unique:

1. Brown Cow yogurt (with the delicious cream top - my favorite)
2. Croissants with Nutella (heavenly)
3. Top ramen noodle soup (salty)

The soup was surprisingly good, at least it was until MB found not one, but TWO, LONG hairs in her cup. Did you just throw up a little in the back of your throat? I did.

Despite the hairy soup, it was a great day. A beautiful course, great walking partners, interesting conversation, varied scenery, moderate hills, good food, and a finishing time that seriously kicks ass. We averaged 14:19 minutes per mile. We cheated just a little and jogged about 1.5 miles to give our walking muscles a break but we still rocked the walking pace.

I'm looking forward to my next race in late June, Lake Padden Tri, and hope to see Kerrie again soon. It was so great to finally meet her in the flesh - she is lovely and a real inspiration. I'm sure her next attempt at a full marathon will be a success and she'll be all the stronger & wiser on her next round. Check out her race re-cap here.

Thanks to innocent bystander #2 who took our post-race photo.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Half Marathon PR!!

Since it was my first time walking a half marathon, it qualifies as an automatic PR!

I am showered, have a full belly, and am ready to melt into bed so just a quick note to say I had a great time with long-time friend, MB, and new friend, Kerrie T (MomvsMarathon).

We walked (with < 2 mi jogging to relieve the walking muscles) the BEAUTIFUL half marathon course in 3:06. That's 14:15 pace, ladies!

More re-cap after a good night of sleep...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Two days until NODM!

Well, I haven't met my goal of being back at pre-pregnancy weight by June 1. I have about 6 lbs to go but I'm glad I'm still making progress, even if it is a bit slower than I'd like. Things have just been nutty around here so I've put the training on the back-burner despite the upcoming half marathon.

Does house and yard work and dancing in the living room with my son count as cross-training? Does this cross-training for the past two weeks count as a taper?

I have done little to nothing (nothing more than 4 mile walk) for the last couple weeks. I've just been SO busy. And this Sunday is the North Olympic Discovery (half) Marathon!! I've never been this unprepared for a big event. I just hope we have a good time, nice weather, and that I can walk ok the next day.

Training partner B is out, MB is "in" and sad for her, but great for MB & I, Kerrie at MomVsMarathon is "in" too. B's strange injury causing her ribs to pop out of place and rotator cuff to atrophy are still a mystery to her doc so I don't think she'll be able to do the Lake Padden Triathlon at the end of June either. Another friend is running the half this weekend so it will be great to see her for lunch after the race.

So what have I been so busy with? Well, we decided that Baby F's first birthday was a huge milestone for our whole family. WE SURVIVED the first year, relatively unscathed and intact. Nothing short of a miracle and not without the help of our friends and family. As a celebration of this milestone, we decided to throw a BIG party! That meant, several weeks of preparations - fixing up the yard, the house, etc. Nothing like a party to motivate you to get work done around the house, right?

Although it was Memorial Day weekend and some folks were traveling, we had a good turn-out (50+). We started around 2 pm and the last guests left around 1 am. Mr. F and I had a great time and Baby F, well, he was a bit overwhelmed. He just wasn't sure what to make of that flaming cupcake and just screamed as the candle was blown out, not even tasting the frosting. Oh well, maybe next year.