Thursday, March 13, 2014


Remember back in January when I had the "hi res photo" fire drill?   Turns out it was more than just a fire drill - HGTV Gardens posted the article on garden gifts for bridesmaids - and my necklace is front and center!  Woohoo!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Big City

Things have been slightly manic around here for the last couple of weeks.  First I was getting ready to head out of town, then I actually was out of town, and then I was playing catch up from the out of town.  So basically a 4 day trip ended up having two weeks worth of effect.  But it was totally worth it!

Leslie, friend since the first day of college, is getting married, and so a group of us head to NYC to do some wedding dress shopping.  Because that's how she rolls.  Ok, that's a lie.  Heading to NYC to shop is kind of the opposite of how she rolls.  But her sister lives nearby in Pennsylvania, and there was a designer that she liked with a showroom in NYC, so off we went!  Like we were living someone else's life.  Which is totally fun every once in a while.

Here's what Lancaster, PA looked like when we arrived.  I'll be honest, I wasn't quite expecting this.
But then by the time we got to NYC on Saturday the weather cleared up and turned beautiful.
We hit the Northeast-in-February jackpot.  

After the (successful!) wedding dress shopping, we went to dinner at Becco.  Best.  Food.  Ever.  Then we went to see Kinky Boots.  I am not known for my great love of theater, but it turns out I made a major discovery.  I don't hate theater, I just hate bad theater.  Since this show just won a Tony Award, and featured actors that also won Tony Awards, this was not bad theater.  And so it was great.

Then, on Sunday, we headed to Philadelphia to see Leslie's nephew's band play.  If you would like to feel very, very old I suggest you go to a college bar.  But before we went to the bar we went to a very good Mexican tapas restaurant.  I can't remember the name, but I did take a picture of their impressive collection of Mexican wrestling masks.
And then it was back to Lancaster for a run on Monday morning before we flew home.  In the distance is an Amish farm.  I was a little surprised to see the Amish family unloading groceries from Costco out of a friend's Prius, but apparently that's a thing.  The Prius doesn't negate the Amish-ness if it belongs to a friend and not to the Amish themselves.  Convenient, yes?

Lancaster is beautiful.  Better than the first picture.

With the bride-to-be.  We are expecting to do our hair just like this for the ceremony.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snow Day. For Real.

We finally got our snow day.  We were predicted to get at least 8", and on Wednesday school was canceled preemptively.  And then. . . nothing really happened.  It flurried.  It was cold.  That was it.  Sam and I walked to Pilates, had fun, flittered about.  But no real snow.  I got cranky.  I walked around declaring "This storm is a DUD!"  And then. . . natured payed me back.  It *really* started to snow.  (Well, for Asheville, which doesn't generally get much.)  By Thursday morning we had at least 8".  I was supposed to be working, but instead I tried to just enjoy it.  It's beginning to occur to me that, at age 11, my time is getting shorter rather than longer for Sam to want to play with his parents, and I better soak it all in and have fun.  And that's what we did.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

HRV - The Truth Teller

Continuing with recent trends, yesterday was a run in the snow.  If you can call what I've been doing with the MAF Training running (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't), and if you can call what was on the ground snow.  It was more like a mud run with lovely scenery.

The MAF training, though, is pretty fascinating, and the HRV analysis is even more interesting.  Basically, to analyze HRV (and thus how recovered your body is), you strap on a heart rate monitor every morning and use an iPhone app to give you a reading.  So far I've decided to do whatever it says - train more - yes!  Take it easy - whatever you say.  And what's kind of interesting is that it's always right, and I often wouldn't have figured it out on my own.  I kind of always feel like crap in the morning - I'm not a morning person!  So when I stumble out of bed with the intention of running first thing in the morning, I'm not all that good at analyzing whether I'm ready to go run.  Instead it's more like - of course I feel terrible, it's morning!  But the HRV has said not to go and then I've ended up feeling like a zombie all day, thus proving it right.  And it's said to go when I really wanted to just curl up and read trashy novels all day, and it was right again and I had a good run.  So, as I told Kelly, I'm now outsourcing all decision making.  My new training plan is no training plan.  If the HRV says go, then I go, and if it says don't then I don't.

This is not very much like me, but then the things that are very much like me haven't actually served me all that well over the years, so I've decided to embrace it.  And. . . I feel better than I have in months. Nothing hurts. At all.  Which is big news.

The tiny white blob up the trail - that's Moose, my training partner. 

 I think the best thing about the HRV app is that it forces me to prioritize and make some choices.  Left to my own devices, I'll do Chisel twice a week, and a tempo run, and a track workout, and meet friends to hammer on the bike.  But with HRV telling the truth about what's going on, I know that I have to pick and choose - because if I go hard too often then I'm going to keep getting a big red NO, and have to do nothing for a few days.  Basically, I'm learning the lesson in my sporting life that I learned in my real life a long time ago:  You can do anything you want, but you can't do everything at the same time.  41 years later, I'm still taking this in.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Snow Day on the Bike

Kelly and I met at 8 this morning at Bent Creek to ride.  We have a new winter rule - anything above 20 degrees is fair game.  It's fortuitous that we revised our previous rule (which was flexible but definitely did not include temperatures below freezing), for two reasons: (1) it's been a crazy cold winter so far, so we'd NEVER make it out on the bike if we waited for it to warm up, and (2) it's also been a very wet winter, and it's sooo much nicer to ride frozen trails than boggy trails.  Or to not ride at all because it's too much of a mess.  So off we went this morning, but with a twist - in keeping with the MAF training, my heart rate was not to exceed 134.  Kelly is not normally the type that wants to ride slowly, but she seems somewhat interested/somewhat bemused by my low heart rate idea, so she came along for the ride.

We weren't expecting a ton of snow - it's all melted outside of the woods.  But not so much in the woods.

Which meant that not only were we CRAWLING up the hills to stay in my MAF zone, we were also creeping on the downhills because there were a lot of icy patches.  Which meant this was not exactly our fastest ride ever.

In fact, when we finished we simultaneously remarked that it was the slowest we'd ever ridden a bike in our life.  I'm kind of really banking on the MAF theory that you can get faster at the lower heart rate if you improve your aerobic conditioning.  Because honest to God, we couldn't get much slower.

But in the category of "there's always a silver lining", we did take a lot more time to stop and smell the roses - hence the pictures.  And we had a great time chatting, and now I'm back home and not sacked out for the rest of the day, which is convenient since I have a fair bit of work to do.

And, in our smelling the roses, we also found some cool ice climbing possibilities.  Not that I engage in such activities, but if one did (and Kelly does), this was apparently a pretty interesting find.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Experiments in the Slow Lane - MAF, Moose and I Hit the Woods

I've started my flirtation with the MAF/low heart rate training I mentioned last time.  I don't know if it's going to be a magic bullet, but it does seem like a very nice step off my roller coaster of get injured/go hard/get injured.  And the leg that I think is slightly wonky feels totally fine when tooling around with my heart rate monitor on.  My MAF zone is 124-134.  yes, that's low.  Which means that it's slow, and theoretically, as someone who likes to work hard,  I should hate this. But you know what - I don't.  At least not yet.  So far I just toodle around, smell the roses and enjoy the idea that I'm hopefully gaining some aerobic strength, but at least I'm not hurting myself.  And I think the reason this works for people is that you're going at a low effort, so you can go long - I don't think anyone ever got a fabulous aerobic system by running in their MAF zone for 20 miles a week.  And maybe I'll get there, which would be novel and interesting and fun, for the time being I'm just toodling happily along for a bit and then calling it a day.

Among other things, it gives me a good excuse to take Moose out in the woods and play.  And take pictures of the frozen creek.  And hike up the big hills while still in my heart rate zone!  I am WALKING, and playing with the dog, and still in my heart rate zone?  Ok, I'll take it.

One fly in the ointment - Maffetone reallllly doesn't like anything anaerobic during the aerobic phase, and he includes any sort of body weight training in his definition.  Which means Chisel would definitely not work for him.

Brooke took this picture of me at Chisel a couple of weeks ago.  I think mainly to document my awesome purple pants.  $20 on sale at Target.  Eat your heart out Lululemon.

And the lower leg has felt sort of iffy after Chisel the last couple of times, so maybe I'll take a small Chisel hiatus.  He's fine with regular Pilates though, which is good because no way am I giving that up, so maybe I'll just add an extra mat class instead.

But today, I actually haven't done much of anything, because we're on an unexpected snow day.  Here's the family walk we took earlier.

Unexpected snow days - doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Time to Slow Down. Literally.

Today was one of those days where Sam was SO HOPING for no school - but alas only got a 2 hour delay, which is sort of funny since the roads were completely dry.  It is freezing, though (8 degrees, which for around here is COLD), so probably that alone was worth a 2 hour delay - otherwise there would have been kidcicles at the bus stops.

The 2 hour delay always gets my morning off to a wonky start - this morning I was going to swim Masters at the Y at 5:30, but I have a rule (learned the hard way), that I don't set my alarm for 5am if there's a chance of snow and ice in the forecast - because getting up at 5 to discover the roads are bad or the pool is closed is a quick recipe to bitterness and resentment.  Strong emotions, yes, but 5 is an early and cranky hour.

The timing was also good because I'm doing a bit of evaluating on the training front (exercise front?  I'm not sure what I've been doing lately could actually be called training.)  Last year, coming of a 2 year  (2 YEAR) foot injury, I eased myself back into it, and then started doing the FIRST training - and I will say it seemed to be working well for a while.  But I've had a few niggles here and there, and then in November I cramped up my calf in a track workout, and just haven't seemed able to get over it.  No doubt aided by the fact that when my leg didn't want to run I just rode my uni, and rode my uni and rode my uni - and when it got sort of boring I went to the woods with the uni, which for me means a lot of off and on, and I mount the uni off of my left leg (the one with the bum calf.)  The mount didn't seem to hurt the calf at all, so I didn't think much of it, but now the my whole lower left leg seems kind of tired and strained.  Bummer.  Which made me think, maybe what I really need to do is take a big step back and start at the beginning.  I like training hard, so that's what I gravitate towards - but I think I keep doing the stuff that should be the icing on the cake, when I have no cake.  I think the solution should probably be to take a big step back and build a base - which is something, in truth, I've probably *never* had.  Speed and strength have never been my limiter - I mean, I went to college running hurdles for heaven's sake, which is pretty much the most speed + strength event out there.  But I have no endurance base at all - which is evident in lots of ways, most particularly  my struggle with nutrition/reliance on a million gels in longer rides/runs, and my ability to hold a crazy high heart rate for a long time - which probably, if I was aerobically efficient, wouldn't really be so necessary.

Sooooo, I think I'm about to take a big step back and commit to MAF training for a block -MAF being a system in which you calculate your ideal aerobic heart rate and stay under it, no matter what.  According to the formula, and my recent injury status, my heart range will be 125-135.  I foresee a lot of walking on hills.  But what the hell, I've tried most everything else with frustrating results.  Of course, I finally found my heart rate monitor strap today and discovered that it's dead - not even a new battery revived it.  I'm trying not to take that as an omen.