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From Another Planet?

A funny thing (at least I think so) happened to me at the Y on Friday night. I got off work and went straight there. I figured I'd get in some free weights before hitting my spinning class. Now I don't normally notice much going on around me in the weight room. When I started lifting on a regular basis 8 years ago, it was in the weight room that our D3 sports teams used. I was often the only female in the whole room, so I made it my goal to get in, work out, and leave - no wasting time.

Well on Friday, I was very aware that this guy kept looking at me. First I wondered if we knew each other. I quickly realized that wasn't the case. Then I wondered if I had seen him there before, but he had very distinct tattoos. I know I would have remembered them. I brushed it off and finished my workout, still a little puzzled.

A disclaimer: the free weights at my Y are unusually large. The 15s and 20s look almost the same as the 30s. I have big arms. I've always had big arms. If I don't lift weights, they look big and undefined. If I do, they look bigger but defined, so I lift. Not as much as I used to, but enough to keep lunch lady syndrome from creeping in.

I think figured out the answer to my question when I went into the spinning studio. He and his girlfriend were taking the class for the first time. She was a twig. Her biceps were about as big as my wrists, and even though there were plenty of bikes available, she opted to ride a clip-only one in her tennis shoes so that she could be right next to him. That can only lead me to believe one thing. This guy kept staring at me in the weight room because he was wondering what planet Amazon women come from.
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Crossing Over to the Dark Side

Now I may be shunned from the blogger community for even writing this, but I have bucked the trend of ipods for a long time. I know, I know. It's the 21st century. Everyone and their dog has an ipod, but I have my reasons:

1. I rarely listen to music when I run. I believe that keeping myself company builds up mental toughness, especially since I won't get to wear music during races. When I'm really jonesing for some tunes, I bring along my discman (I know, I know - totally uncool).

2. It can be dangerous. I run in the middle of St. Paul, and though it's not a huge bustling metropolis, cars/bikers/other pedestrians aren't always watching for me. I need to be able to hear everything.

3. I sort of think it's impersonal. I live in a neighborhood where lots of people are out there running with me. It's not unusual to see people I recognize, and I think it's just plain polite to greet the people you are meeting on the sidewalk.

4. I get super annoyed by runners who have their music turned up so loud that they cannot hear my polite "on your left" while I'm biking. I don't want to be a hypocrite.

5. I am against people wearing them during races. First of all, it's usually against the rules. Also, it takes away from the experience - the people cheering, getting to meet another racer, etc. Finally, it's sort of cheating. I know how motivating having the music can be. I think it gives those who have portable music a slight edge over those who don't.

Well, I've officially crossed over to the dark side. I won an ipod shuffle at a meeting a couple of months ago, and I have been taking it on all of my runs recently. It's just a little extra motivator to get me out the door into the dark 10 degree weather. I keep the volume turned way down, so I can still hear everything, including the hellos from my neighbors. I love it. This is really dorky, but I love how light it is and how the music never skips like my CD player used to. Lately, I cannot get enough of Blue October or Breaking Benjamin. They're both great motivating music. I won't use it on the bike this summer, and I don't even know if I'll use it running in the summer (extra stuff on my head just adds to the feeling of overheating). But for now, I'm totally hooked.
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Coaching, Snow, and Everything in Between

I love motivating people. I have said for a long time that if I weren’t a pharmacist, I would have gone to be an athletic trainer. Who wouldn’t want to wear yoga pants and tennis shoes every day? It sure beats dress pants and, ugh! dress socks on a daily basis. Saturday, I got to play the role of coach. Steph rocked her awesome new swim suit. It was the first time I had seen it on. It really doesn’t look as bad as you would think, especially far away. (By the way, she says that she will order from the grab bag again. It really can’t get much worse!) We had “putting on your swim cap 101;” took a tour of the Y’s locker room; and I showed her how to use the suit drying thing. Then we got started. We did lessons 1-4 of the program. She did great. Steve and I also critiqued each other’s strokes. Turns out I am rotating WAY too much. This may explain why I’m not getting faster. Ah, one more thing to work on this year. I’d be nice to get my swim time down a bit for IM, though. I probably have a good 20-30 minutes of time to comfortably cut out when I think back to it this past year. That’s just with improving my form and working more on speed.

I haven't convinced Steph to take up tris yet, but she will probably be running the marathon with me next fall, so that's a start. Who knows what'll be next?

Minnesota finally looks like winter! We’ve gotten several inches of snow over the last 2 weeks. I love running outside right now. I think there’s something magical about running when it’s supposed to be dark, but the city lights combined with the white snow light up the whole sky. The sidewalks are nice and clear now too, so there’s less risk for ice and subsequent falling, which has been known to happen. I’m hoping for a 7 miler tonight. It’ll be my longest run since the marathon in October.

I am totally jonesing for some sunshine right now. I have a business trip planned to Orlando in 3 1/2 weeks, and boy am I hoping for some swimsuit time. They said on the news this morning that we gain an extra minute of sunlight per day in Jan and that come Feb, we’ll get an extra 3 minutes per day. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t come fast enough. I have literally been having dreams about going somewhere warm and tropical.

I got new running shoes on Sunday. Superfun! There are three clothing items in which I always have a new one handy: swimsuits, running shoes, and Steve’s jeans. For some reason, they all wear out to the point that one day, you realize that you absolutely cannot wear this thing another day. For running shoes, it’s usually weird leg or back pain for me. For Steve’s jeans, there’s some massive hole somewhere, and I cannot let him out of the house knowing that his students will judge me based on what he is wearing (hey! I did it to my professors in college. I know it happens). Swimsuits? Well, there comes a point when you realize that your suit is no longer supportive and that you should probably be charging people to look at you because it’s so see-through in some parts. I’m too, ahem, thrifty and busy to just go out and buy any of those things full-price, so I stock up when I can. So I guess it will be a little while before I can sport my new digs, but they’re in the closet when I’m ready :)
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T Minus 6 Days!

I start my IM training program in just 6 days. Actually, my official Ironman training doesn’t start until May, but I’m signing up for a June half IM just so I get my butt moving earlier this year :)

I’ve been thinking about goals for the upcoming year a lot lately. Among them:

1. Train earlier. Last year I didn’t work out very much up until May, when my program started. When it did start, I was still refining my swim stroke (read: had not yet finished teaching myself the 15 step program). This year, I’m hoping that having a better base will allow for more speed work come May and June. Maybe that will lead to a faster Sarah come September!

2. Better balance between work and training. Last year was a lot different because 6 weeks of my training took place while I was studying for boards. My schedule was absolutely flexible. This year, at least through June, I will be working 50-60 hours per week, including every other weekend. Guess it’s time to see how the rest of the working world has to do it!

3. Eat healthier. In some ways, being a distance athlete makes my eating habits worse. Since I can eat anything I want, I do eat anything I want. The problem comes during the off season when my brain still thinks I can eat indiscriminately but my hips say otherwise. I can remember training for one of my first marathons. I ate a jar of P-B and a quart of (low-fat) ice cream per week. Usually the containers were next to each other on the counter with one spoon dipping back and forth. It seems that the last couple of years, chocolate has replaced the two. Also, trying to eat more nutritious foods this year will just keep me healthy. If you put crappy gas in your car all of the time, how will it run? The same goes for eating 1/3 of your daily calories in sweets. Yup. That one’s going to be a toughie.

4. Write a more positive (or at least balanced) blog. Writing for me is often an outlet. I usually need it when I’m tired or frustrated. When I’m really busy, I sometimes forget to come back and write when I’ve had a great training day. I consider myself neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I’m a scientist. Therefore, I am a realist. I see things both as they are and as they could be, but I want to work on writing both down.

5. Have fun! This may be the only time that Steve and I get to do something like this together. I just want to savor it all.
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The Dangers of "Grab Bag" Swimwear

For the last several years, I have been buying my swimsuits from the "grab bag" from I've never had a problem. I know my size, so they always fit, especially since I always order the same brand. Some of the suits are cuter than others, but I've never cared. Who pays twice as much for a suit that in no time will be saggy and see-through from all of my time in the pool?

Since my sister Steph joined our local YWCA, she has been itching to get into the pool but hasn't forked over the cash for a suit yet. I was planning to order anyway, so I had her try on Speedo suits at our local sports store to get her size. Then she took her chances on the grab bag.

The order arrived in the mail on Saturday. I was so excited! It's sort of like Christmas - the surprise of seeing what your suit will look like. When I opened the box, though, my heart sank. One of the suits was HIDEOUS! I was praying that the suit wasn't Steph's. We're different sizes, and I honestly don't care what I look like (as long as my form looks good!). Sure enough, she got stuck with the uggo. I cannot believe that a reputable company like Speedo would allow this suit to be produced and actually put their name on it.

Where do I start describing it? Well, first it is very bright - fluorescent greens, pinks, yellow, and blues. It probably glows in the dark. So yeah. It's a little loud. If that were all, it would probably still be tolerable. But wait! It has butterflies. All. Over. The. Suit. Black butterflies in all shapes and sizes. Ridiculous, you say? I would agree. But there's one more thing: the words. It has "Crazy Cool Hot" written all over it. I'm just speechless. We seriously cannot stop laughing, even though I feel so guilty. I keep telling her that maybe it's just like her high school prom dress. Maybe once she puts it on, we'll all be amazed at how great it looks. Then we laugh some more. You be the judge. So far, she hasn't been able to bring herself to actually try it on...

Steph with her new pretty suit.

This way you can fully appreciate the colors, butterflies, and words :)
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Catching Up

I always mean well. I really do. I was going to post a lot of this stuff over a week ago. My fastest internet connection is at work, though, and sometimes (especially last week) I just don't feel like sticking around to post. So... some catching up.

* I was tagged by Triteacher with the following instructions:
1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book & the author.
3. Turn to page 123.4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Tag three more folks.

The nearest book is Training Plans for Multisport Athletes. Most of my tri books are sitting on my end table in our living room. This one isn't necessarily my favorite, but it's on the top of the pile because it's the smallest. Author: Gale Bernhardt

p. 123, 5th-9th sentences read: "Base 3 begins lactate threshold training. Build 1 and 2 have spicy days of anaerobic threshold training. Finally, in Peak and Taper, a reduction of overall training volume and some fast workouts in the mix each week bring you to a fast race with a well-rested body. Let us look at each period in more detail."

Hopefully this is a sign that things will go as planned this year! Uh, since I'm no speed demon at the posting stuff, most folks are already tagged. If you've not yet been tagged and want to be, consider yourself "it" :)

* I've added links to some of my favorite blogs. If I forgot anybody, let me know. Selfishly, I partly did this for myself. It's so much easier to get around this way than trying to remember the addresses for them all!

* I've also added 2007's race schedule on the side bar. I love having a techie husband! This schedule may be subject to change, but as of now, the marathon is on for Oct. 7. Happy birthday to me! Plus, it may be a first for my sister Steph. So fun.

* Somebody stop me! I just spent $206.40 at I love that site. Free shipping when you spend $75, and they have everything. I bought 3 grab bag women's swimming suits (one for Steph, 2 for me - who cares what color they are?), 2 jammers for Steve, 3 pairs of goggles, and 3 swim caps to have on hand, so we are set for the season! The goggles will be great to have come Ironman time. I used relatively new ones this year for IM, and I couldn't believe how much better I could see compared to my 2 year old ones. It just makes you feel good.

* My official training program starts in just a few days! Yikes! More on that later.

* Time to head home! Supper with the hubby then out for a run. Gotta enjoy the unseasonably warm weather while I can get it.

* I love exclamation points today!