Tuesday, July 9, 2013

STR: Days 26-30

Time to catch up on the last several days of workouts!

Day 26
Finished up the week with a strength workout. Feeling tired at the end of the week, and also heavy--we over-ate to honor our Founding Fathers (and it would be downright unpatriotic not to drink a Sam Adams on the 4th, right?). But I got through it, so that's that.

Day 27
Rest day. Nothing to see here.

Day 28
This was a rest day, but late in the evening my 3-and-a-half-year-old suggested a bike ride, and since I knew Lauren would appreciate not having the kids underfoot while she did grad school work, I agreed. Who am I to turn down a surprise workout? I did a wandering loop around town that amounted to 5 miles, which isn't that much on a bike... but also isn't that short when pulling around 2 kids and a bike trailer. Our older girl actually fell asleep on the ride, despite the train tracks and frequent pot holes.

Day 29
I've settled into a routine for my strength training: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I alternate between two routines. This Monday, however, I started to feel like it's getting stale. Maybe the problem is that I had high hopes that I didn't quite meet. Both of the routines start with one-legged squats, and I felt like I had a good enough week last week that with rest Saturday and Sunday I ought to be able to have my best one-legged squats yet. Nope.

They were okay, but no better than any of the sets I did last week, and a little worse than some. Maybe the bike ride from the previous night sapped my leg strength?

I actually had the best one-armed push-ups of the summer: on my right side, I got through all five sets of five, and I got one whole set of 5 with my left arm (I had to cheat with the others). Australian pull-ups were good, push-ups were good, core work (reverse crunches and back raises) were good. Still, I couldn't shake a vague dissatisfaction.

Day 30: Tuesday
Back on my regular schedule of doing my 6+ mile run on Tuesday. The first half of the run was faster than it has been: 8:15 to run the first mile, 28:00 to run the first 3.31 miles (8:28 pace). Maybe the unleashed dog who came out from one farm to "greet" me helped with a little adrenaline burst--he seemed friendly enough, but the barking and the way he ran at me from behind probably prompted the production of some adrenaline to help my run along. However, despite how fast the first half was, the return trip was not just slower, but painfully slow. I wanted to quit. I wanted a water station. I wanted to quit and drown myself in a large pool of water. It was a minor victory that I didn't stop and walk. My entire 6.62-mile run took 57:34 (8:42 pace), closer to my time two weeks ago (57:37) than to my time last Thursday (57:05). So even though my first mile and the first half of the run were the fastest I've run them this summer, I was almost as slow, overall, as my slowest time on this distance. Why?

Well, it could be that I ran too hard on the first half, that I pushed myself and didn't leave enough in the tank to bring it home. But if that's the answer, it's only part of the answer. I think it has more to do with when I ran. You see, Lauren is down in Indianapolis all week for graduate school, so I couldn't start my run until our nanny got here at 8:00. Normally, I'm out the door for a run around 6:00, when it's still nice and cool. I think the sun just killed me.

Of course, this is a bad sign for my racing career. I'm going to have to limit myself to events with names like the Dusk Dash 10k, the Midnight Marathon, or the 10 k-rack of dawn race. (I have no reason to believe that any of those exist).

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Exterminator: He'll Be Back

You know that problem you have where there's something wrong with your car or whatever, but when you take it to the mechanic or other appropriate expert, there's no problem. There's nothing to show them. Well, we did not have that problem last week when the exterminator came out to give us a quote.

You see, we've had some minor pest problems in our new house. First, there were tiny ants in the bathroom. And then we saw some roaches around the trash can outside. And then inside. (Please don't judge us.) Then, just to round it out and make a trio of terror, I came across a mouse scurrying across our kitchen floor. And saw tiny tooth marks on things in our pantry. And saw a mouse in the basement while I was doing laundry.

But did we really have a problem? Who knows? I bought some of the old-school spring-loaded mouse-killing devices, smeared them with peanut butter and put them in the three places where I'd seen mice in our house. The next day... no mice. But I'm pretty sure the ants ganked the peanut butter.

Then, to my surprise, I found that our most expensive mouse trap, which we had not in any way baited, managed to catch a mouse. I am referring, of course, to our washing machine, into which I was about to put a load of laundry. Who knew that building a better mouse trap would involve a spin cycle? Now, I had never seen the kitchen mouse and the basement mouse in the same place, so I figured we might have taken care of our so-called problem, but when the exterminator came last week, I mentioned it anyway.

And you know what? As we were examining the basement, we had a mouse mangled in the mousetrap I'd put down there. So there were at least two mice, which--let's be honest--probably means there are two hundred. Also, it turns out this was not a new problem. You see, with our home's stone foundation, there's a sort of ledge that goes all the way around the edge of the basement, and the exterminator was examining that ledge, finding things like dead bugs that had come in, mouse droppings and, oh, what's that? A greatly-decayed mouse carcass with equally-decayed mouse poison around it. Nice.

Oh, but before we go, I'd like to clarify something: we had mentioned, when we called, that business about the cockroaches, and when the exterminator showed up, he expressed some skepticism, at least about the kind of roach we might have, because our house just looked too nice to have, you know, actual cockroaches. Turns out it's some other kind of roach that just tends to be a problem in old country houses. So there--we're not living in filth and squalor. As far as anyone knows.

So we had someone coming out earlier this week to spray poisons all over our house in an attempt to make it more livable for us by making it less livable for the various critters. He forgot to put out the tamper-proof mouse bait stations. So he came back out and did that.

And how have things gone since then? Well, it's a good thing the bait stations are tamper-proof, because our 15-month-old tampers with the one she can sometimes get to every chance she finds. Last night while doing a load of laundry, I saw another field mouse running crazily around our basement. Hey there little guy! Aren't you hungry?

I guess we had three mice. At least. The exterminator will be back in a couple weeks to see if Mickey and his friends are taking the bait--we'll see.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

STR: Days 24-25

Day 24
Wednesday saw me get back to my usual routine of alternating strength-training workouts. And it goes like this:
5 sets of 5 reps of one-legged squats + 10 deep squats: some lucky few of these were actually getting close. I'm still using a short chair, and the goal right now is to just touch the chair and get right back up (as opposed to plopping down when I get there). A few times, I achieved my goal (however ugly the process of doing so might have been). 2 minute rest between sets.
5 sets of 5 reps of one-armed-push-ups Once again, some lucky few were actually one-armed. The others had the other arm as a spotter.
3 sets of Australian pull-ups to failure: 2 minutes break in between
3 sets of push-ups to failure: 2 min break
3 sets, alternating between reverse crunches and back raises: no rest between sets, 20 reverse crunches and 10 back raises.

Day 25
Today I did the long run that usually happens on Tuesdays. When I started off, I wasn't entirely sure that I would do the whole 6.62 miles, but by the time I was 2+ miles into it, I figured I might as well. It was a foggy morning when I started--not so bad that I couldn't see cars speeding toward me (or, sadly, that I couldn't see the cat that didn't see the car speeding toward it) but there was enough cover to keep it cool on the first half of my run, even though I was up and at it a little later than usual.

Last time I did this run, I was a little daunted by the hills that came at me in the 3rd and 4th miles, but this time I knew they were there and hit them pretty well. I ended up with a slightly faster time than what I had last week (57:05 vs. 57:37), but this time my time for the first half was faster than the second half, even with the kick at the end. So it goes. That came out to an 8:37 pace overall, which I'll happily take at this point.

What I won't happily take is all the aches and pains that came with today's run. I'm not sure why today was special, but I ran into a few things today that haven't bothered me the rest of the summer. First up: inner-thigh chafing. Okay, it's not like this is a new thing that I've never encountered before, but I really thought that box-briefs had taken care of this. Shows what I know--I'd started to feel discomfort just a couple miles in and, well, that didn't just go away. Speaking of chafing, let me just say that chapped nipples are not something I want to spend a lot of time thinking about, much less speaking about. Apparently, I need to ditch cotton shirts for runs and, while I'm at it, consider additional protective measures. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

STR: Days 17-23

It's been a while since I've checked in, so what have I been up to? Travel, travel, travel. Which, for my workout regimen, would better be written "travail." In short, it's been more eating than running, more drinking than lifting. So it goes.

Day 17
Wednesday: This was the day that we were leaving for the first leg of our first summer trip: Indiana to Cleveland (family) to western PA (friends) to D.C. and Maryland (friends). I didn't get any kind of workout in before we left (too busy getting ready to leave), though I tried to shoe-horn one in before bed once we arrived. It was a pared down version of what I would have done that day: 1-legged squats and 1-armed pushups (both modified as I've talked about before). I skipped the extra pushups and the Australian pull-ups but did the core work (reverse crunches and back raises).

 Day 18
Thursday: I got up early at my in-laws and went for a run. As runs go, it wasn't much, but I guess I didn't really expect it to be.  Their subdivision is not my favorite place to run. It's nice enough, in that there's little traffic and all of it is slow, and half the streets even have sidewalks, but there's just not much of it to run. I could go our of the subdivision, but that puts me on a road with no sidewalks and very little shoulder--but a lot of traffic. Since it was also looking like it might rain, and since I barely felt like doing any running (maybe because Day 17's workout was late at night instead of the morning?), I stayed in the subdivision so that I could call it quits whenever. I ended up doing 3 laps of the place, which added up to 1.99 miles. I just barely managed to do better than 10-minute miles, thanks to a bit of a kick on the last lap. Some days you just have to be happy that you did a run at all. We drove 3 1/2 hours to visit friends in western PA, where we had a great time and ate some delicious food (but too much of it!). The vegetarian chili was tasty and nutritious, though the cornbread and the other snacks and beverages probably were not. But hey: who are we to spurn hospitality? Although I'd kept in touch with most of my friends there, we hadn't actually seen any of them in person in at least 3 years, and it was great to see them. One of them was my best-ever workout buddy, but we didn't find the time to get a workout in.

 Day 19
Friday: We drove 4 hours to Washington D.C., where I dropped my Lauren and the girls and picked up one of my college buddies, so we could drive another 2 hours to get together with several of our friends. Five of us represented the old gang, though we spent the next few days eating enough for all 12+ of the guys. Do I need to add that no exercise happened?

 Day 20
Saturday: does walking around throwing a frisbee count as exercise? Near my friend's house, there's an abandoned military base, where the housing units were all demolished, but that roads that linked them are still there, and it's been turned into an official frisbee golf course, with the baskets and everything. So we went out and played 9 holes. It was strange for us--we've all played our share of frisbee golf, but it was always of the kind that begins each hole with "the next hole will be" and then inserts some object from the landscape ("that big rock," "the second tree on the left," that car that's been stuffed full of paper and wrapped in TP"). Actually having baskets, into which your disc was supposed to end up, well, that as a bit much for us.

Actually, what was a bit much for us were the guys walking around with 20 discs, especially the guy who was talking to his buddy and saying things like "We could go out and play a round every day, but we're never going to get better that way. We need to be training for this." O-kaaaaaay....

 The lived-experience highlight, which was also the health/fitness lowlight, was dinner, for which one of my buddies used this:

to make the absolutely most amazing pulled pork I've ever eaten. I probably--no [intentional] exaggeration--ate a pound of meat. Minimum. Plus the coleslaw another friend made. After a walk (hooray for token exercise!) I had room for apple pie with strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Good lord. And I wish I could say that's all I ate/drank that night--I could tell you more, but it's making me a little nauseous just to think about it three days later.

Day 21
Sunday had me saying goodbye to my friends and hitting the road for 7+ hours from D.C. to north-central Ohio. It also had me getting my diet inched closer to where it should be after the weekend's week's excesses. And that's no small feat when you're on the road. No exercise to speak of, except playing around with squats. To the extent that I've been doing 1-legged squats, they've basically been negative reps--that is, I have a controlled descent (down to the short chair), but getting back up, I've got to cheat one way or another (usually my off foot ends up pushing against my active leg's ankle, so it's helping but the focus is still on the active leg). So I was playing around with doing deep squats and then leaning into one leg or the other to work on the muscles I need to complete the one-legged squat. But I was doing that as much to get the stiffness of the long drive out of my legs as anything else.

Day 22
Monday was another travel day, with almost 6 hours in the car, all told. As such, it was a minor miracle that I got any exercise done today, but all I did were the one-legged squats from what would be my normal routine. I figure since I do squats M-W-F, I should get them in so that I could potentially make up the rest of the workout the next day without doing squats on back-to-back days.

Day 23
Up early to get ready for a run, but by the time I was set to go, it was raining pretty hard. I guess if I was a real runner, I would brave rain and sleet and snow, derechoes and tornadoes and hurricanes to get in my daily run, but I'm really more of an in-the-gym kind of athlete. So... I finished up yesterday's workout instead: handstand push-ups, kettlebell swings, skipped the pull-ups (for now) as they're out in the rain, and super sets of plank and bridge for a minute each.

I did some light cardio (i.e. picking up around the house) and then braved the drizzle to go for a run. Since it was still raining and the weather map showed that we were still on the front edge of it, I decided against the long run that has become my Tuesday tradition, and kept it short and quick, just to the one corner and back, 1.62 miles. I knocked the run out in 12:18, a 7:35 pace. Given where my times have been on longer runs (or Thursday's short run), I was pretty happy with that.