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Archive for August, 2010

The Shape I’m In

Check out those delts! I also realize I look super triangular here–like Michael Phelps or something, but that’s not how I normally look.  At least, I don’t think so.

So yesterday Phil and I did a three-mile run on an outdoor track.  This is the first time I’ve really had to deal with things like wind and sun and heat on a long run, and I think those factors certainly affected me. I did the run in 30.13, which was about a minute longer than it took me at the gym.  Then today we did a forty five minute spin, which was hard, but surprisingly went more quickly than expected.

Other than that, we’ve been trying to get at least one of the events in every day, which means a lot of swimming in the lake, and a lot of biking down TO the lake. The lake swimming isn’t so much different than the pool.  I mean, the waves can hurt or help you, but I don’t know how much, if at all, I’m improving because it’s hard to tell how far I go without stopping in the lake versus the pool.

We’ll be purchasing wetsuits soon, so we’ll all look as dorky as the other people who swim at the lake.  And eventually we’ll start carb-loading before the big event.  Can’t wait for that!

Pump em!

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Well, it was only a matter of time before I used that title.  It seemed fitting for this post because we are beginning to work hard on becoming truly conditioned for this event.  That means focusing on transitions and bricks.  [For those of you not in the know, “bricks” are transition workouts, back-to-back, intended to prepare your body for what it will be like to move from one discipline to another.]  I’ve heard a lot about how difficult it is to get off the bike and start running, and this week I experienced that firsthand.

On Tuesday, Phil and I took the North Shore bike trail, which I had never done before.  I’m used to biking my usual routes to and from work, to and from improv, etc.  So biking on a path where there were actually hills and sharp turns and no stoplights was kind of a shock–I got tired!  I’m getting over a cold, so I was kind of phlegmy to begin with, but my chest and throat were burnin!  We biked the trail for a half hour and then stopped at the North Park University track which, you may remember, was the site of many a breakdown for me at the beginning of our training.  The last time we were there I couldn’t run four consecutive laps.  Phil and I did an easy half hour jog, taking a little break for me to try and do a chin-up on the monkey bars in the playground.  It didn’t work.  But we both noticed how stiff and heavy our legs felt coming off the bikes.

Since we’re entering our Serious Training phase, we worked out Wednesday, too.  We started with eight laps in the pool [which is now shut down for renovations, just in time for us to start swimming in the lake], then moved on to a twenty minute interval spin, and a half hour run outside.  My god. Afterwards, Phil mentioned that our run was so slow, he could have walked more quickly than we were moving.  But I felt like I was just going to give up.  As soon as we started jogging, I accepted the fact that I was going to walk for part of the run–that was just a foregone conclusion.  Luckily, Josh and Phil kept the pace slow enough that I never did stop to walk, but man, the first ten minutes of that run were brutal!  Not only were my legs so tired from the swim and spin, but we were jogging all over Lincoln Park–up and down hills, in the tall grass, in between trees, around a statue of Goethe. I’m used to running on a treadmill or on a tiny little track, dodging vacuum cleaner cords and bands of douchebags who wear Converse to the gym.

And apparently I swear a lot when I run, frequently in close proximity to small children.  For that I suppose I should apologize.  But I had to know what you are supposed to do if you shit your pants during the race!  I mean, that happens to people!  I’ve seen pictures.  Or, a picture.  And you can’t unsee those kinds of things.  Do you just stop running?  I imagine it only happens during the run. Or do you just drop trou and continue on, naked from the waist down? Are there clean-up crews at the ready with baby wipes and one-size-fits-all running shorts?  That would be ideal.

But I digress.  Tomorrow we are doing a swim and a bike.  We’re meeting at the lake, ideally biking there and back home.  It’ll be a long trip for me, but I’ve got to get serious here.  Go into Sarah Connor mode.  I mean Judgment Day Sarah Connor, not “In the few hours we had together we loved a lifetime’s worth” Sarah Connor.  I mean “You’re the one livin in a fuckin dream, Dr. Silberman!” Sarah Connor; chin-ups on an overturned hospital bed Sarah Connor.

The WORST thing would be to shit your pants and then not finish!

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Long May You Run

Mark it!  Another big day today.  We started with some really quick core work and then got right in the pool, intending to swim for twenty five minutes.  However, once we got in there, that place was like Amateur Night at the Apollo.  One lane is some Andy Warhol-looking lady doing the strangest version of the backstroke I have ever seen; another lane is this Rocky-guy running from one end of the pool to the other; another lady is not even kicking, evidently, and just splashing her arms in and out of the water and somehow making it down the lane.  Naturally, I shared a lane with Ms. Warhol.

So because we’d had to wait, Josh told us to just swim eight laps–a quarter mile.  Phil obviously finished ahead of me, and I did find the swim challenging.  I took about twenty minutes to finish the eight laps.  I’m hoping the the more swimming we do in the lake, the easier this will become.  Duh, Liz.  That’s like the most obvious thing you’ve ever written.

Anyway, after our swim we did a super fast transition and met back outside the locker rooms, where Josh told us he wanted us to run at least two miles on the track.  He said he would join us shortly and that he was going to do three miles, which we were welcome to try as well.

WELL.  I certainly did run three miles, yes I did. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that.  I kept track of my laps, and kept myself motivated, by imagining sports commentators discussing my performance: ‘Now, if you’ll remember, the most laps Liz has ever done on this track is nineteen.  Today, she intends to break that record.  Bob, what do you think is going through her head as she finishes up her eighteenth lap?’ ‘Well, Steve, I imagine at this point she’s just trying to focus on keeping track of her laps!’  [They both chuckle.]  ‘Liz says she draws inspiration from her younger sister Katie, who is a Division I rower.  I bet Katie’s sitting at home right now, counting those laps with the rest of the family. AND, the rest of the world.’

But I just tried to keep a good pace, and I wound up finishing in 29:10, so I was averaging just under ten-minute-miles.  Before I’d ever tried running three miles, I optimistically figured my pace would be about that.  So now I have improvement to look forward to!

Good job today, guys!

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Oh yeah, we’re bringing it back with some Aaliyah/Timbaland collaboration.

Starting a new job and upgrading our workout schedule from three sessions a week to six has been a bit stressful and incredibly time-consuming, so I apologize to the legions of devoted readers I know were waiting for my next entry with bated breath.

Anyway, like I said, we’ve begun the training phase in which we need to be working out six days a week, each time getting in at least one bike, swim, or run.  As far as progress goes, I’ve noticed my running is a lot stronger.  I feel like I can kind of just… go for as long as I need to, so long as I keep a steady pace and keep an eye on my heart rate. The biking has never really been easy or difficult, but I do feel like I’m getting a lot more practice now that I’m using my bike in the city a lot more.

…And then there’s the swimming.

Phil has been able to start swimming in the lake, and that has evidently helped his swimming improve vastly.  The last time we swam together, Josh told us to swim eight laps.  Phil was three laps ahead of me, and was able to do multiple laps in a row without stopping.  I, on the other hand, was only able to do a handful of lengths without stopping.  I got pretty down on myself, down on my new job for taking up so much of my time that I’m too tired to swim when I’m not working, and even down on my swimsuit, for having gotten so baggy that I’ve been putting off swimming in the lake until I get one that actually fits.  Needless to say, I snapped at Josh later.

But here’s what I’m thinking.  I’m starting to settle into a routine at work, and the pure stress of making a big life-change is starting to wear off.  I just need to focus on making the time to get to the gym, or the lake, or onto a bike path.  Because this race is fast approaching–we’re looking at a little under a month until D-Day.  [See, I can say “D-Day” and it actually works because it’s the Devil’s Challenge.]  And on the plus side, I’m feeling pretty confident about the bike and the run.  I’ve just got to commit myself to improving my swimming and practicing my transitions.

We’re going to get through this together!

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