Tuesday, April 26, 2011

P90X works and makes sense!

So I'm not HEAVY into the P90X right now.. though I hit it HARD over the winter. This is the first time I feel I've seen any change in my musculature.. and it continues to change and improve as I get my nutrition more dialed (so not the case over the last week). I did two rounds of P90X and am finding that with minimal "maintanence" effort I'm able to maintain both strength (I'm not as strong as I was) and definition.

All this is great, but as I'm getting more into my tri training I'm thinking P90X (to a lesser degree than before) needs to make it back into the rotation. 1. It MAKES me do it and 2. Both Core Synergistics (how many times have you heard you NEED TO WORK ON YOUR CORE) and Plyometrics are GREAT additions to a tri program to keep you balanced and strong. Now to just figure out where to fit it in. I KNOW I can find the time because I can do it in my basement instead of watching TV.. or while watching TV w/ P90X on my computer... at this point I only need reminders bc I almost have it memorized.

Here are some photos (taken by my 4 year old so forgive the AWESOME quality and the sweet artwork in the background!). The pic of just my bicep at the bottom in the pink sports bra was taken at the hieght of my P90X training and the others were taken today. Now I swim and do some upper body maybe 2x a week, but more like consistantly 1x a week. I lift heavy (for me) with 10 - 12 reps (to failure). The 'to failure' or the 'last three should be mighty tough' philosophy was brought to me by P90X in that past I would just kinda mess around and never see any results! I also learned to mix it up - Tony is ALL about the muscle confusion - so instead of doing 3 sets of 10 of the same bicep exercise I usually (for example) will do one bicep exercise, one shoulder, one tri and then do the bicep, shoulder, tri sequence again, but do different exercises from the last ones for each muscle. Other days I might do the same approach, but back and biceps so forth and so on. I find it keeps it a bit more interesting, doesn't take as long and uses all the different parts of the muscle.

I feel like P90X gave me a good base on how to do the weight room along w/ the confidence to go in there and do my thing w/o feeling like a scrawny little girl that didn't know what she was doing. I now have some basic workouts memorized with some adjustments by me and have a notebook w/ the actual workout written out if I'm feeling scrappy (which isn't happening a lot with all the tri training).

You can also see how teeny weeny my tri top is in this pic. :) You'll have to wait for photos from Knoxville to see the full effect of the kit! :)

This is the best thing I could find in the 'before' department. Look at those spaghetti arms.

Can you tell a difference between these two pics? I feel like I can. Less bulk, more definition. I likes.

So what's the point? The point is that strength training is important for all athletes - whatever your sport - and non-athletes. P90X will give you direction, confidence AND strength and definition. It's mixed up enough to keep you interested, but the same enough that you can actually learn and grow with it. I love that it has straight up weights/body weights, stretching, yoga and plyo. It also has a 'kick boxing-ish" and a cardio video, but they weren't my favorite and I figured I do enough cardio as it is!

If you are looking for a "program" or something you can do at home for convenience sake this is by far the way to go!!! It's like having a personal trainer come to your house for a fraction of the cost. Or you could fly me to your abode and I'll HOOK YOU UP! :) 

What are you doing for strength training? Do you need a kick in the pants? When do you fit it in? Can I talk you into putting some dorky photos of you flexing on your blog.. it would make me feel much better about my photos. :) ha ha

Monday, April 25, 2011

Values - are you living yours?

I've been feeling fairly unbalanced lately.. this always takes me to a quiet place (ha that ONLY exists in my mind) to reflect on WHAT'S UP!

I came across THIS post about values and while I generally feel I know what my values are and usually read these things and think about it, but never put pen to paper I decided to get to work w/ my notepad and the list and see where it lead me. Wow! It slapped me square in the face!

The post links you to a list you can print and go over for both your personal life and you work life.. since mine are pretty much one in the same I just did one list. I dutifully went through and circled all the 'values' that I thought pertained to me and then easily (maybe too easily) narrowed them down to my top 5. No problemo. Normally I would get bored and stop here... distracted by oh so many things, but I perservered and MADE myself continue.

Next you write your top 5 on a paper w/ enough room under each to write (on the left side) where you are aligned w/ this value and (on the right side) where you aren't aligned with this value.

My values are: (not necessarily in order)
1. Family
2. Health/Wellness
3. Fitness
4. Community/Connectedness
5. Simplicity (yea, this ones kinda new.. though it's been in the background for a while)

So I wrote Simplicity down and came up with a decent little list of 'aligned', 'not aligned' and moved on to Family.... CRICKETS! I stared blankly at the 'aligned' column and wanted to cry. It's not like I needed to write it down to KNOW that some work needs to be done here, but just looking it in the face was like being slapped! Of course there are areas where we are 'aligned' .. we eat dinner together every night, I'm a stay at home mom so I spend nearly every waking moment with my children (the quality of those moments could easily be brought into question), I color with them.. or they, uh, color and I'm on the, uh, computer.... anyway you get the idea. There aren't a lot of times where the little ones get my full and undivided attention, Tom and I don't do date nights, I'm terrible with traditions (perhaps you saw my tweets about the easter bunny NOT hiding eggs at our house.. BAD BAD bunny!). On the other hand you better be sure the 'aligned' category under Fitness was FULL! Ugh.

So what does this mean!? I'm not 100% sure just yet. The next part of the process is to take your 'not aligned' items and find ways (both large and small) to address them. I'm working on that ... uh, right after I'm done with this.. oh, and after I pick the kids up from school.. oh, and after I get groceries... I PROMISE it's working through in my brain, but I WILL put it on paper.. because clearly that's a necessary part of the discovery process for me!

This may (or may not) affect my plans for triathlon this year... time will tell. Right now I'm focusing on Knoxville Rev3 as I work though this. Stay tuned. It's always exciting (or not) up in here!

What are your values? Have you given it much thought? Is your life aligned with them? If not, what are you going to do about it!?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Simplicity and training

I love to train. I've known this about myself for a while now, but I could never really put my finger on exactly what it was. (It's a lot of things, but I had an aha moment today). Since having kids it's the only thing I will make time for for JUST ME and it really clears my head. Why? Why does it clear my head. Well I figured it out today.

Since returning from our WONDERFUL trip to Texas my head has been a mess. All over the place.. can't settle down.. can't focus and can't seem to be able to accomplish much of anything. It's like I my head was a tin can filled w/ marbles and someone was shaking it! Today I got on the spin bike at the gym and rode for 1.5 hours, took an hour long class then continued to spin for another hour. It was great. While I was on my own for the first 1.5 hours I listened to a book then after the class the instructor (a friend) stayed and rode and another triathlete happened to come and join us and we talked through the last hour. It was great. And after the ride my head was no longer a tin can and the marbles are gone.

Why is my head so clear after a good solid work out? Well, I'll tell you!

Because it's the only time I do just ONE thing and ONE thing only. My life is a chaotic mess and I'm scatter brained as it is. Okay, calling it a mess isn't fair... it's not a mess, but it's busy. The kids, the house, my odd jobs and my eclectic interests cause me to spin topsy turvy a lot. Generally speaking I enjoy this, but after a while it gets a bit crazy. Particularly if there has been a lull in workouts (as there was previous to our return from TX).

So everything I've been reading about simplicity has been talking about not just simplifying your surroundings by way of cutting the clutter, but also simplifying your life and it's processes. Getting rid of stuff has been no problem. I've never really been one to be too attached to stuff (I'm an army brat we moved a lot and didn't carry a ton of stuff around with us), but the simplifying life/processes is a challenge for me.

One book (The Power of Less by Leo Babauta) in particular talks about SINGLE-tasking instead of MULTI-tasking. It makes sense really... multitasking has you going all over the place getting a little bit of everything done, but not ALL of ONE thing. This is all well and good in theory, but is proving difficult for me to execute on! He goes so far as saying that you should downsize your goals to ONE, yep one, and when that one is done move to another... PRIORITIZING them and thus simplifying your life and tasks. This is a work in progress for me. I'm a born multitasker (and YES this means it takes me a long time to get stuff done... if I get it done at all... just ask my DAD! :D)

So what's the point? God, who knows huh? The point is that is that I do love to SINGLE task my workouts.. I feel balanced and strong when I do that... so I'm willing to BET that if I figured out how to SINGLE task in other aspects of my life I would feel BALANCED and STRONG there too! :)

I'm going to start small. I'm not ready to DROP to just ONE goal... I've got THREE biggies going right now, but I am going to start doing ONE thing at a time. I baked some bread last night while doing a bunch of other stuff and almost went to bed without actually baking it (it had been in the oven to rise). That would have made for some really crappy toast this a.m.

So you know what I'm doing right now? I'm writing a blog post. That's it. I'm not writing a blog post, eating breakfast, checking email, updating my facebook and twitter status, baking bread, coloring with the kids AND stretching all at the same time! Leo suggests turning off the internet when you sit down to do something on your computer that doesn't require web access... thus forcing yourself to SINGLE task! Give it a shot! It feels pretty good and it didn't take nearly as long to write this post as it usually does. I'm not saying it improves my quality of writing.... that will only come with practice!

So what do you do to simplify? Does a good workout knock the marbles out of your brain too?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MS150 - I LOVE the BIKE!

I knew I would enjoy the opportunity to ride my bike in some warm weather, but I had an amazingly good time at the MS150 this weekend. Hats off to my cousin Stephanie for getting the family together to ride in honor of my Uncle Don!

Not only was it nice and warm (after about an hour or so each day) and mostly flat (save a trip through a national forest on day 2) I got to ride with Tom... which doesn't happen that often. Kids and all. He even had a good time. He wasn't really sold on the organized ride thing.. lots of people he doesn't know (or trust on a bike) riding right next to him isn't exactly his idea of a good ride.. not to mention the fact that he hasn't exactly been riding. We're not even going to talk about the fact that he can NOT RIDE at all (mostly) for years and then drop back to back 50 mile then 75 mile rides. How does he do that!? I mean we didn't hammer it or anything, but come on! He's even asking what event we are going to do next.

The first day we did 50 of the 75 miles of the ride. We started in Waller, TX (apparently there were three start points) then stayed in some cabins (instead of camping in La Grange w/ the 13000 other people riding) and this was a good call.

As we were headed to the ride start I was saying to Tom that I didn't think I needed to eat lunch on a 50 mile ride. His response was that 'it wasn't about me' and I was thinking he meant that the ride wasn't about me and that I was making a judgement that they were offering lunch.. which I wasn't. As we came into the first rest stop and we were discussing stopping he again mentioned that it 'wasn't about me' and that's when I realized what he meant. That this ride was about the family and 'doing it together' not about here we are at the start and we'll see you at the finish. That husband of mine... he's a good man. So I begrudgingly stopped and waited for the rest of the family to join up with us at the first stop, and everystop after. I'm glad I did. And if Tom actually read this I would thank him for helping me not be an asshole... :) We met up with mostly eveyrone - except Tina because she thought we were out front and was trying to chase us down I think. We sat and had lunch together and were able to catch up on how everyoen was going. Which turned out to be a very good thing because dad got FOUR flats in a row and blew threw one of our tubes and ended up with a second of our (Tom's and mine) tubes. Tom changed the flats for dad which made it go much quicker for him so I'm really glad we held back.

Everything held together for dad for the rest of the ride.

The stops actually made the ride go by really fast and likely contributed to my lack of soreness for day two. The cabins were fantastic. Tom threw together a nice meal for us all to share while sitting and talking on the large front porch while watching the cows do their nightly routine. Did you know that they don't use horses to herd the cows anymore? At least this cowboy didn't. We saw an SUV out in the field and weren't sure what he was doing out there, but it quickly became obvious that he was using it to herd the cows back to the barn.

Above is the view from our cabin. We were out in the middle of no where and it was GREAT! Nice and quiet with a great front porch. Hmm here's an idea. I could have taken a picture of the cute little cabin, but I was so taken by all the cattle doin' there thing around us that I didn't even think about it. Plus there were cow pies everywhere. If you look REAL close you can see a little pile on the bench of the picnic table.
I drank about one glass of wine too many and had to get up in the middle of the night to drink an entire bike bottle of water before I could go back to sleep. Morning came quickly and we hit the road. Three of us had decided to do mostly the entire second day so we got sagged to a good jump in point, tucked some plastic grocery bags in our jersey fronts to block the early morning cold and set off on day 2. Legs felt just fine... saddle area not so much. Lot's of TUCK YOUR HIPS to stay on your sit bones .. OWWIE!! Spin saddle NOT the same as bike saddle...

At one point you could stay on the main highway course or break off into a state park that had more aggressive hills. Tom and I opted to go the park route and it was AWESOME. We got to bomb up and down hills in the shadded forest for about an hour. It's the only part of the ride that we really pushed and felt my legs getting heavy, but it was GREAT! I had a blast back in there and was happy to see that all the hill work in spin class is definitely paying off. I used to be HORRIBLY weak on the hills, but was able to hang on the climbs. Tom - without riding for a long time - can still kick my butt, but I was CHICKING some riders... and at one point a guy said "AGAIN?" as I raced past him on a hill.

We got back on the highway and settled in to a nice easy pace for the rest of the day. We had wind at our backs most of the day. Just a small section at the end with the wind at our faces.

All in all it was a great experience to be able to ride with the family and have a planned route. "Riding" is much different from racing and I really really enjoyed the no pressure atmosphere and seeing so many people that I know were out there conquering this distance for the very first time! I have to say that this years MS150 was a VERY different experience from my first MS150 over 10 years ago. The MS150 did an amazing job of organizing this HUGE (I already said 13,000 riders right!?) event. Not one cluster the whole day. I would highly recommend this ride. Get your family and friends organized. 2012 will be here before you know it!

Now I can't wait to get home and get into some serious bike riding. 100 miles... bring it!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

2011 Danbury Half Marathon

2nd race of the season... done.

Honestly I kept forgetting that I was doing this race. My TP wanted to run a half this year. I may have said I would do her first race with her. Then she said she wanted to do Danbury. UGH! My memory of Danbury from the previous year was almost two hours of torture on hills. Perhaps I had blown myself up a little training for Miami and was little "done before I started" as TP pointed out.

This year I was 'just running' I had no expectations on myself other than to join my friend in her first 1/2. Gotta say this approach works MUCH better for me. No pressure, just running. I loved it. This year was 1million zillion billion times better than last year. I loved it and was reminded that Oh, I do like this running thing.

On top of that my TP blew her "pie in the sky" goal out of the water by nearly 10 mins. That was lots of fun. She ran a smart run and pushed it beyond her comfort zone at the end. I'm so glad I was able to be there w/ her for her first race and such a great success! She should be so very proud of herself! :)

The day before the race I PIGGED OUT so by the morning of the race I wasn't really hungry (and frankly I've been eating later breakfast lately) and I wasn't sure what to do. I mean it's race morning don't I need to eat SOMETHING!? So I had my coffee and water and waited for the hunger to set in. This race has a late start (10:20am) so I figured I'd get hungry before then.... It was time to go... still not hungry. So I poured the remainder of my coffee over one scoop of First Endurance Cappuccino Ultragen in a flask, mixed a bottle of EFS and headed out.

I still wasn't really that hungry, but about an hour before the race I drank the Ultragen/coffee combo (which by the way tastes like a milkshake.. um, yum) and then wandered around a bit. I had been sipping on the EFS drink and had another swig right before heading to the start line. I didn't take anything with me.

We did the whole run and I didn't have one hunger pain the whole time. I didn't realize until we were done that I hadn't been hungry. SHOCKED really. I still wasn't that hungry. I am ALWAYS hungry.

I've been kinda holding out on using the First Endurance products thinking they were only "worthy" of longer / harder efforts, but man that stuff works... will need to put in in normal circulation.. anything longer than an hour to one and a half hours seems about right.