Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring cleaning...'bout time I dusted off this blog!

What have I been up to lately in addition to ignoring this blog?

Breaking 1:45 in a half marathon last weekend, that's what!

And completing my 20-mile trail race in late February (though with less impressive results, IMO).

The Psycho Wyco 20 miler...well, I did it but I lost a little love for the trail-racing process.  What a great race day - late February and 60s and sunny with no precip in the preceding weeks?  Great conditions!  All of my worry over inclement weather gear was for nothing.  Good thing I procrastinated the purchase of any...still procrastinating in fact. 

The first 10-mile lap went well.  The few wet/muddy parts were no match for my new Balega socks which saved the day with such a dry, cushioned ride.  On the second lap of the race, I lost a little interest.   I was lonely and I felt as though I were just pounding out miles in single-file in packs of random strangers along a 10-mile lap.  Maybe I was just too familiar with the course, having run those same trails while training?  I don't know.  Just not as fun as I expected, though I can't really complain about a beautiful day in a beautiful park.  Really not every day can be magical run-nirvana, but it can still be a great day, and it was.  Also, I have never seen better aid stations or support crews.  I felt well taken care of -- a truly top-notch production, which is standard for the Trail Nerds

Also, I love the hoodie and super cool race medal with a spinning tornado!

Hoodies for everyone!
I did take this trail race opportunity to eat real food while running.  I hate gagging down gels and I get real sick of stuffing little bags of gummy candy in my sports bra, which is a sweaty tacky mess by the time I want a lickie/chewie.  The night before the Psycho Wyco i made some frozen peanut butter energy balls (no recipe needed, just scavenged ingredients from my tiny kitchen) which D loved and tested thoroughly.  I am not much for peanut butter, but with ground oats, pretzels, dates, honey, and just a little peanut butter to bind it all in little balls, I had a nice compact treat for me on the trail (and for D at the aid stations).  Of course, the aid stations were so well stocked that I would've been fine (and likely overstuffed) even without my homemade fuel.  Still, it was a fun project and I'm glad these treats provided a more palatable alternative to normal race "foods."  And as a bonus, I suffered no GI emergencies as a result.  That can be a real issue for me and hence why a lot of my training is on treadmill or in vicinity of facilities. Bummer indeed.  Pun intended, bien sur.  At this point I think I just need to get some bentyl. 

After trail running so much this winter, I missed the almighty road race.  I know, I know, it's a completely different gestalt but I am in love with asphalt's ability to test my training and my mettle and really challenge the clock.  I do not reach that happy I-can-barely-hold-on-to-this-pace-and-yet-here-I-am-holding-it-while-the-miles-whiz-by feeling while on the trails.  For me, the trails are pure fun/playtime and that's the mindset I should've embraced at the Psycho Wyco.  The road?  Well, that's where I see if my horsies can still take the age group. 

Last weekend I ran the Ray-Pec Lucky 13.1 Half Marathon in Peculiar, MO.  How could I pass up a race in a town with such a cool name?  Actually, after the 20 miler I felt trained up and ready for a nice road race half and the most convenient one happened to be sponsored by the Raymore-Peculiar High School cross country team.  The price was right, and my training was right and the weather cooperated too - gorgeous 55 degrees and light rain.  Perfect recipe for me to break the 8:00 pace, which I finally did after years of banging my head in the wall about it.  Nice that my time allowed to me win the age group, but the two ladies who finished overall ahead of me were like for reals light years beyond.  Maybe one day, that'll be me, when I drop 10 pounds and find a less all-encompassing job and stop knitting, and cease watching Acorn TV while eating is more like it :)

The chip-timed course started at the high school with a lap around the track and then departs into the rolling hills of farm country.  It ends with the same lap around the track and at the end there is mac and cheese, fruit, raffle prizes, and an "old as dirt" cake for the 72-year old gentleman who was this year's most senior participant.  I hope that's me someday.  He finished in the low 2H area I believe.  Dang.  There is also a 5K race option.  The turn around was along the same course as the 13.1.  Some real quick kiddos out there, in both the 5K and the half!

The high school sports teams provided nice aid stations along the out-and-back course.  It's always refreshing to see high schoolers acting so courteously and with such pride in their school and community.  Man do I feel old having written that!  Anyway, I felt like Peculiar would be a nice place to live and raise a family (or chickens and dogs, also known as "family" in my world) not to mention a nice place to break 1:45.  

Remember all this blather?  Well I tossed training plans out the window long ago in order to de-regulate a littleMy go-to workouts have been like this:
  • Long runs of ~10 miles or so at a chill pace.  Boring but necessary for endurance.
  • Speed work: 6 or 7 miles of warm up mile/ half on 3:30 or faster, half mile at 4:00 or faster x 4 or 5 sets/cool down mile.  These are my favorite days.
  • Tempo runs, done properly. Embraced, but not beloved.
  • Hilly runs of about 5 miles done for mental fortitude. 

In other recent events, work is going well.  I got promoted, so that's cool.  In my free time I have been knitting a lot and tried using cotton yarn for the first time.  What was I waiting for?  It's lovely to touch.  It feels solid and American and resilient and doesn't stretch :).  I'm currently working on a washrag for the dog.  Yes I know, a hand-knit washrag for my dog.  It's just that she likes being lathered in the bath, and I don't want to use our hand-towels on her.  She abhors having water poured over her and yet loves to be scrubbed, so for $1.77 in Walmart cotton yarn I will aid in her bathtime compliance while keeping D happy that we don't share bath towels with a floor-licker (The dog.  Not me).  Long-haired short-legged dogs in muddy Kansas spring get bathed, often.  So it goes. 

Easter is around the corner and I am ready for Spring....though yesterday it snowed!  My neglected bulbs have prospered and popped up in huge patches and are unfettered by the chill so we enjoy some lovely blooms.   

I have two trips to Texas coming up (one for work and one for a wedding/follow on 10K, but as a workaholic they will both be mega-fun of course).  Unfortunately my medical mission trip to Haiti for April was cancelled.  I'm bummed and annoyingly out some $$ but it wasn't meant to be.  I am frustrated as I feel like I could have made a difference there -- yes, in a small way, but so important to me (and how I view my professional and moral responsibilities) and to the orphans we planned to treat.

Yesterday D and I finally had the chance to eat Korean food at Hyundai Korean restaurant in Leavenworth.  Boy oh boy -- good authentic bibimbap.  The restaurant appearance may dissuade you but be not afraid, the food is top notch and took us back to all the time we spent in Korea.  The huge portions may intimidate you (D couldn't even finish his) but be sure to make room for kimchi and all the little banchan sides that accompany your meal.  Prices completely reasonable.  

We love bibimbap in all forms but I suspect we will have it hot-pot style next time.  They also feature my other favorites of standard Korean fare- jap chae, bulgogi, khalbi.  Luckily I am going to take some leave to Korea this fall to visit friends, and for now this restaurant makes me miss them a little less.  The building is redolent with the scent of the land of the morning calm which I think crucial to any amazing Korean dining experience.  

We also enjoyed browsing in the attached Asian market.  I picked up some jasmine tea from China and wanted to grab piles of sweets too but Easter is next weekend and we have a pastel candy explosion in our house right now.  It's for Easter baskets for my coworkers, I swear!!

 In other news, I got my bangs back.  Finally feel like myself again.  The Division finally made its way into our home so D feels like himself again now too.

Happy Easter and enjoy your spring running.  I am looking forward to longer days, and sweat and shorts.  Sending lots of love your way:

So...yeah...maybe I was having a rough last mile and D suffered the wrath...SR-71s for everyone!!  Carefully displayed without any other witnesses of course.  This remains a favorite photo of his and may or may not grace the fridge at home :)