Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ready to Go

Spent all day packing.  Ok not ALL day, but most of the day was dedicated to preparations for our 2 week get away to Pennsylvania and I think I’m ready to go. 

I’m excited for this:


butler tri



But mostly this (and many more):

afn sdtcin wntjlj eetwdd

sdt jjbts sdt3girls3

I will not miss this: 

butler tri

And hope they’ll be plenty of this (minus the tutu):

sdt run

See you in Pittsburgh, but until then I leave you with this:

I’ll be trying to post as much as I can while I’m away on vacation, but I want to spend as much time with my friends and family and don’t want to have to “worry” about blogging.  If I do something exciting you’ll be sure to know, but you can only hear so much about me stuffing my face at my favorite ‘burgh restaurants.  In the meantime, I have some great guest posts coming your way, so be sure to stop by daily! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some Mommies

I love Todd Parr books.  I wish I could say he sent me one all of his books to review and that’s why I’m talking about it, but Todd and I have never spoken.  Ha! 

The truth is I just really love his books.  From the moment I read my first Todd Parr book I was hooked.  They are great books to read to your children when they’re young and they continue to be great books for a beginning reader, which is exactly why they’ve been on my mind in the first place.

Ella is learning to read (mostly the all important sight words) and she’s loving all the Todd Parr books (just as Nicholas did).  One of our favorites is The Mommy Book. 

the mommy book

Amazon says: 

Although some mommies drive motorcycles, and others drive minivans; some mommies go fishing while others go shopping, all mommies want their children to be who they are. Each spread shows moms doing their thing: dancing moms opposite swimming moms, short-hair moms next to big-hair moms, and work-at-home moms across from work-in-big-buildings moms. The refrain is that all moms love their kids: "All mommies like to hang out with you!" "All mommies like to watch you sleep!"

I couldn’t help but think how my Mommy book would read if my kids wrote their very own Mommy book.  So I took a deep breath and I asked them.  What does your mommy do?  Here’s what they said. 

Some Mommies work on their blog (at least they didn’t say Facebook):


Some Mommies make the best food :

Christmas Cookies 2010 017

Some Mommies make crafts:

Backyard painting 031Backyard painting 028Backyard painting 033

Some Mommies do laundry:

laundry after

Some Mommies exercise:

sdt bike3

Some Mommies love us with hugs and kisses:

sdt jtt kissfinish eetfinish eet wnt jtt

Ok that wasn’t so bad.  They pretty much summed up exactly who I am.  I’m a blog-writing, food-making (and loving), crafty, exercising laundress who loves her kids with hugs and kisses.  I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

Todd Parr wrote The Daddy book too… watch out George.  Your first entry..  Some Daddies are stinky.  Ok ok they said he was a good snuggler too.   

What type of Mommy/Daddy would your kids say you are?  What kind of Mommy/Daddy do you hope to be? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Become a Faster Runner

I knew the title of my post would be enough to suck you in.  You’re here for information, you’re here for the secret.  Wait…. screeeeeeeech… I don’t run fast remember?  Oh well, I still know the secret and I’m going to let you in on it. 

Are you ready?  Without further ado.  Drum roll please… Have I stretched this out long enough?  To become a faster runner you need to run faster.  Now there’s a revelation no?  But it’s true.  Think about it.  If you’re just strumming along at the exact same pace all the time, never pushing yourself to do any better, how do you expect to improve? 

So yes, to get faster you have to run faster and that means you have to do speed work.  The dreaded speed work.  It really should be a four letter word shouldn’t it? 
swear words

I’ve always done my speed work on the treadmill and it’s never been much fun.   I used a speed workout created by Jilian Michaels that could be used on any piece of cardio equipment.  It is a 20 minute workout and it is based on effort/exertion level (1 being a leisurely stroll and 10 being you can’t even breath).  It looked something like this (my speeds are indicated in bold in parentheses). 
  • Warm up:  2 minutes 30 seconds comfortable pace  (5.5 mph)
  • Level 7:  30 seconds (8.0 mph)
  • Level 5 recovery:  1 minute 30 seconds (5.5 mph)
  • Level 8:  30 seconds (8.5 mph)
  • Level 5 recovery:  1 minute 30 seconds (5.5 mph)
  • Level 9: 30 seconds (9.0 mph)
  • Level 5 recovery:  1 minute NOTICE LESS RECOVERY TIME  (5.5 mph)
  • Repeat X 2 (minus the warm up)
  • Cool Down
Anyone can do this workout and you can do it while swimming, biking, running, on the elliptical, on the spin bike… you get the point.  It works for anything and it’s based on the effort level you are giving.  You could repeat it as many times as you like, since I think speed work sucks I only did it twice and called it a day. 
Although I didn’t realize it was helping at the time, I realize now it definitely helped me to get faster.  It’s good to make yourself uncomfortable and teach your body how to adapt when it’s doing something it just doesn’t want to to do.  So even though it’s dreaded and I prefer to curse it, I understand its importance and decided to stop neglecting my speed work. 

Disclaimer:  Please know that most marathon training programs do not incorporate speed work unless you are at an advanced level.  Although I do not consider myself advanced, I feel, based on my current level of fitness, that I can COMFORTABLY incorporate speed work into my training.  End Disclaimer. 

Considering that speed work is already no fun why add insult to injury by doing said work on the treadmill?  I decided that it was time to hit the track for Yasso repeats.  I wanted to start doing LONGER speed repeats (800s /0.5 miles).  Although I most definitely ran at a slower pace during the speed interval (than on the treadmill), I was working at a higher level of exertion due to the sustained effort. 

on your mark

What is a Yasso repeat anyway?  Well I’ll tell you... Actually I’ll have Hal Higdon tell you.  He says,  “Bart Yasso is Promotions Director for Runners World magazine. Bart suggests that you run your 800 repeats using the same numbers as your marathon time. In other words, if you run a 3-hour marathon, you do the 800s in 3 minutes. A 3:10 marathoner does 3:10 repeats; 3:20 marathoner, 3:20 repeats, etc.”

So I was thinking in my ideal world I’d love to run a 4:30 marathon.  That means my 800s (2 laps of the track) should be done in 4 minutes and 30 seconds (or a 9:00 mile pace).  I was skeptical that I could run a 9:00 pace even for just a half mile (800m), but I had to at least try.  After each repeat you get 400m (1 lap) of rest.  You can rest by either jogging and/or walking and then start again. 

Here is what my workout looked like: 

3 X 800 Yasso Repeats
TimeAverage Pace
Warm up 800 5:4710:44
First 8004:12 8:25
400 recovery 3:22 13:28
Second 8004:198:38
400 recovery 3:3014:00
Third 8004:218:42
Cool Down 800 9:03 14:30 walking

Total Distance:  3.01 Total Time:  34:36:15

speed work sdt

As time progresses during marathon training so will the number of repeats.  I think the last speed workout includes EIGHT 800s.  Yikes!  I am pleased with my speed as I was able to run a lot faster than I thought I could.  The important part is that I was able to maintain the same average pace for each repeat (within 10 seconds) and that means I was running an appropriate pace.  We’ll see as the number repeats increases what I am able to do. 

As always, Bianca rocked at her speed training.  She set out to run 4:00 800s and although I do not know her pace, I know it was faster than mine (a lot).  I looked up one time and she looked like a gazelle gliding across the track.  It’s really hard not to hate her Winking smile.  Plus she’s sick!  I’ll expect to get lapped as training goes on. 

speed work bc

So there you have it.  Running faster is the only way to run faster.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial.  Up next hill repeats.  I’m pretty sure that involves puking.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Year Ago

Get the popcorn and a drink.  This is going to be a long one. 

One year ago today was quite possibly the worst day of my life.  Maybe the days that followed were worse, but this was definitely the worst time of my life.  No doubt about it. 

It all started, oh I’m not even sure when, maybe it was 2006, I think it was anyway.  George wanted to ride 100 miles on a bike.  He registered for the Pittsburgh Tour de Cure.  The Tour de Cure is a charity ride in support of putting a stop to diabetes, but to be honest this ride wasn’t really about the charity for George, it was about riding 100 miles.  He finished that ride, but it wasn’t pretty.  He struggled mentally and physically and he did it all alone!  I honestly don’t know how he did it without anyone else’s support.  I probably would have pulled over on the side of the road and cried.  Honestly!

tour de cure

2010 Tour de Cure

I wasn’t inspired that day, in fact, I just simply thought he was crazy.  I couldn’t even wrap my head around accomplishing something like riding 100 miles on a bike.  Eventually I did buy a bike in hopes that we would be able to do some smaller rides together, but then I got pregnant and the bike collected dust in the garage. 

Finally in 2008 when I decided to really start working out, and reclaiming my body from the “damage” of having three kids,  I dusted off the bike and started to ride.  Thoughts of the Tour de Cure began to creep into my head.  Knowing I wouldn’t be able to complete the 100 mile trek, I signed up for the 50 miler. 

I completed the 50 miler that year and I was inspired and motivated to do more.  I began planning my 100 mile ride.  Unlike George, I was NOT willing to ride it alone.  I wanted both George and my dad to train and do the 100 miler with me.  Both agreed and I registered my “team” for the 100 mile ride the following year.  But when June of 2009 rolled around I found myself riding another 50 mile Tour de Cure.  Neither my dad nor George had prepared for the 100 mile ride and, to be quite honest, I hadn’t either.

 Tour de Cure 2008 012Tour de Cure 2008 029

Bound and determined not to let my 100 mile dreams get away from me, I declared that the following year we WOULD ride 100 miles in the Tour de Cure and that my dad and George better be ready.  Training or no training, that was up to them, but we were riding NO MATTER WHAT. 

June 27, 2010.  We were all geared up and ready to go. 


George hadn’t trained (basically at all), my dad had trained in the plains of Indiana and knew he wouldn’t be able to make the whole HILLY 100 miles.  I also invited my friend from work Glenn, an avid cyclist, and he thought he’d make the whole 100 miles although he hadn’t trained properly either.  We were an unlikely bunch, but I wasn’t going to let excuses get in my way.  They said they’d ride, I gave them a year to train, and by God I was going to make them do it.  Whether they made 10 miles, 20 minutes or the whole 100 miles, I wanted them to go as far and as long as they possibly could.  I needed the support. 

It was clear from the beginning that we were going to be a slow bunch.  I was completely fine with that.  This course is a tough course.  There are lots of hills.  There are only a handful of really tough climbs, but tons of little rolling hills and medium hills.  The hills come one right after another and they honestly wear you down, mentally and physically.  By mile 50 it was obvious we were bringing up the rear.  I think there were only a handful of riders behind us. 

tour de cure century 2010 007

I remember George starting to really struggle around mile 60.  Something had gone wrong with his bike making it impossible for him to shift into his smallest chain ring.  Every hill was a challenge and it was taking its toll.  The next rest stop was at about mile 65.  With not a lot of substantial food at the rest stop, there was nothing to keep George going.  He threw in the towel.  I was proud of him for making it as far as he had.   I know he would have done more with a properly operating bike (and proper training Winking smile). 

tour de cure century 2010 012tour de cure century 2010 006

Glenn and I fueled with baked potatoes at the 65 mile rest stop. It was the only thing that had kept us going from mile 50 on, knowing there was “real” food ahead.  My dad just couldn’t stomach eating anything and I knew his “end” was near.  He said he could make it to the next stop, just 10 miles away, and he went ahead while Glenn and I finished our well deserved feast.  Glenn and I caught up to my dad quickly and it was apparent my dad wouldn’t last much longer.  At the 75 mile stop Dad decided to end his journey.  My dad, at 67, rode 75 HILLY miles.  That’s quite an accomplishment! 


With little but sheer will and determination left in us Glenn and I kept moving.  Glenn was suffering from severe leg cramps and every hill was a challenge.  By this time every rider that was behind us had dropped out so we were definitely DEAD LAST.  Glenn was stopping at every hill because of his cramps.  He was apologizing and feeling so badly.  I wasn’t mad.  His body decided to revolt, but his head was still in the game.  He hadn’t given up mentally and I knew he wanted to finish for me (and for him of course). 

I remember the heat coupled with the exhaustion starting to seem pretty unbearable.  I was on straight stretches going just 9 mph (yes 9!!!!) and wondering how the heck I was going to make it to 100 miles.  Because we were last, the SAG vehicle was never too far away.  They offered us water and a ride if we needed it.  Glenn was determined to keep going no matter if his body was telling him differently.  He didn’t want to leave me alone and he didn’t want to disappoint me. 

tour de cure century 2010 017

So we took the water, but not the ride.  I decided the water was better off ON my body and not IN my body at this point.  I emptied a whole bottle of water on my head and chest.  At that point things started to feel better for me.  Maybe the carbs from the potato kicked in or maybe God was just by my side, but I started to feel better and more determined than ever to finish. 

We were now about 83 miles into the ride and it couldn’t have seemed further from the finish.  I told Glenn stopping on the hills was killing me and I would me meet him at the top.  When I got to top, of what would become my last uphill, I stopped and saw Glenn talking to the SAG vehicle.  He was suffering with severe cramps at this point, but I knew he didn’t want to give up.  The SAG vehicle met me at the top of the hill and reported that Glenn wanted to keep trying.  I made a conscious effort at this point to go on ahead of Glenn.  I knew that if I left him behind eventually he would concede to getting in the SAG vehicle and that’s what his body needed him to do. 

I remember a very flat stretch of road and I was moving at a decent clip,  maybe 17 mph.  The sky had the ominous look of a late afternoon thunderstorm.  It seemed to come out of nowhere, but it started to drizzle.  At this point I estimated I was probably a mile and a half from the next rest stop (85 or 86 miles into the ride). I knew this was the type of storm that would blow over quickly and decided I could wait it out at the rest area (mile 87). 

All at once the rain started to come down harder, but I was still on a nice flat country road and I didn’t want to give up.  I had come so far and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.  Then it happened suddenly and all at once.  The rain became a torrential downpour.  I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  It was raining, but the sun was blaring and it was creating little rainbows in my vision.  I rounded a blind corner on my flat road and was greeted with a steep downhill.  I knew immediately I had made a mistake.  I should have stopped the moment the rain started.  I felt like I could manage my bike in the rain on a flat surface, but I should have known there would be a hill around the corner (literally). 

The hill (never as impressive in photos)

Like I said I had done the 50 mile ride two times before.  The 50 mile ride and the 100 mile ride come together at the end and ride the same course for the last 20 or so miles.  I SHOULD HAVE known exactly where I was, but I didn’t.  I didn’t realize until it was happening.  I was on the steepest downhill of the course.  Not only a downhill, but a downhill with a sharp turn at the end and if you miss that turn… well, let’s just say you’d be greeted by a 200 foot drop into a ravine.  I had seen someone crash there the prior year and remember being horrified of what could have been for him. 

So yes, all the sudden it became very clear in my mind that I was going down a very steep grade at an accelerating pace and because my bike tires were wet my brakes were not operating properly—like at all.  No matter how hard I clamped my brakes, there was nothing there.  I panicked slightly remembering the bloody crash the year before and knowing I had to find a way, someway, somehow, to stop myself.  There is NO WAY at these speed in ideal conditions, let alone with the wet grounds, that I would be able to make the sharp turn and avoid going over into the ravine. 

With essentially no brakes, I unclipped from my pedals and began dragging my foot on the ground in hopes that it would help to slow me.  I still couldn’t see from the torrential rain and I was picking up speed from the descent.  It was obvious to me that I had to crash.  I just hoped I could make a controlled crash.  The idea in my mind was to slow myself enough and find a “grassy” spot to basically lay my bike down.  I estimate that I was going upwards of 30 mph when I made my approach into what I thought would be a safe landing. 

It was a hard abrupt stop right into a huge ditch of thorn bushes.  I crashed face first into the bush, still on my bike, still clutching the handle bars. Once I stopped I was shaken, but looking at myself I seemed basically uninjured aside from my ego and a few scratches.  There was a huge drainpipe in my ditch (yes it’s now my ditch) that I managed to get myself up on.  I remember thinking if I could figure a way out of this hole (probably 4 feet below the road surface) I could get back up on my bike and ride and no one would have to know I crashed.  Seriously I did!   So there I was in a ditch on a drainpipe without any ideas about how I would get my bike out of the thorns and onto the road.  I surrendered!

My Ditch

I found my cell phone and tried to call for help.  It was still pouring rain and my phone wouldn’t work.  I felt an odd pain in my shoulder and started to wonder if I was hurt.  All of the sudden I heard a car, it was the SAG vehicle.  I yelled at the top of my lungs for help. THEY PASSED ME!  I tried my phone again and it still wouldn’t work.  I began to feel scared, embarrassed and defeated.  The rain stopped and before I knew it the SAG vehicle was back.  They had heard my calls for help and they found me.   I just wanted out of the ditch and save to myself from any further embarrassment.  I asked Glenn to help me out (he had gotten into the SAG vehicle) and when he pulled my arm (not the one that felt hurt) I knew!  I couldn’t move.  The pain was excruciating.   I would have to sit in the ditch, on the pipe, and wait for help. 

My phone started working and I called George to let him know I had crashed.  I reported that I felt as though I had dislocated my shoulder.  I expressed my displeasure in being unable to finish and asked if could he please make sure he gets my T-shirt and goodie bag as I wouldn’t make it back to get it myself.  Clearly at that time I had no idea what had happened and the seriousness of my injuries.   

Over the next half an hour it took for the ambulance to arrive I had an interesting array of volunteer fire persons “helping” me.  Everyone wanted to move my bike out of the ditch, but my feet were resting on it and any movement of my body made me extremely uncomfortable (to say the least).  Every person that came up, I asked them, getting increasingly agitated, NOT to move my bike.  By the time it was all said and done, any new person that walked up Glenn informed them, “Don’t touch the bike.”  Translation:  Don’t touch the bike or she’s going to kill you. 

Glenn kept in contact with George over the phone and let him know what was happening.  My back was to Glenn on the road the whole time, but I could hear his voice being my advocate and I’m thankful he was there.  

tour de cure century 2010 008

By the time the ambulance arrived I was in a pain like I had never really felt before (and I’ve had three kids).  I was imagining the pain that lied ahead as they removed me from my ditch.  It took a backboard a lot of great professionals and some screaming (from me), but I was out and on the way to the hospital. 

The horribly bumpy ride and inappropriate comments from the EMT were just enough to test my pain and tolerance thresholds.  Finally when I was wheeled into the hospital and greeted by the loving arms of my husband I knew, no matter what the doctors had to tell me, I would be okay. 

And THAT is the story of how my fracture humerus, and my fractured wrist came to be.  There were 4 surgeries in total to fix my shoulder, 7 weeks of bed rest, countless tears, but endless love and support. 


One year later I can tell you, I’m still dealing with the physical challenges of a very serious injury, but I’ve learned a lot about myself along the way.  What does not kill us will make us stronger.  I’m just thankful that I’m alive.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy Miles

Today was the furthest I have run since… Hold while I look it up… Since about a month ago (damn you dailymile for not giving dates).   Anyway, the training plan called for 9 miles today and 9 miles is what I did.  Those 9 miles rounded out my weekly total to 50 miles (running and cycling).  Exciting stuff!   

daily mile 50 miles

When I woke up I wasn’t really feeling like running 9 miles.  I was in more of a stay in bed and sleep mood.  As I sat outside waiting for Bianca to pick me up, I realized I should enjoy the clouds and the cooler temperatures (I think it was just 72 degrees this morning).  Thank you running gods for the white fluffies in the sky! 

cul de sac2

We were on the trail running just before 7 am.  I told Bianca I’d like to run an 11:00ish mile, but I was secretly hoping I’d be able to run a slightly faster pace.  To be honest I didn’t really want to run faster, I just wanted to feel good running a slightly faster pace.  Does that make sense?  I wanted to have a faster run (which I know I’m capable of) AND I wanted it to feel comfortable.  Here’s the breakdown:

9 miles garmin june 26th

9 mile run:

  • Mile 1:  10:45
  • Mile 2:  10:31
  • Mile 3:  10:31
  • Mile 4:  10:46
  • Mile 5:  10:26
  • Mile 6:  10:52 -----> The hill killed
  • Mile 7:  10:43
  • Mile 8:  10:47
  • Mile 9:  10:41

Total:  1:36:09

Average:  10:40

Like I said, it wasn’t really the mileage that made me happy.  I feel very comfortable running 9 miles.  It was the fact that I ran it at a “decent” pace (for ME) and it felt good. 

Is there anything more satisfying than a good long run?  I think not! Ok there’s shopping, but that’s a whole other blog. 


By the way, I put these Yankz in my shoes for the triathlon and I’m never taking them out!  LOVE!  Get a pair.  Go on now! 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

No Excuses

In six days my family and I will be making the 1398 mile trek from Texas to Pennsylvania. 

tx to pa

Luckily we’re flying!  haha I shouldn’t be laughing because this will probably be one of the last times we fly home.  It is so expensive for five people to fly and then rent a car when we get there etc. etc.  Who knows what the future holds, but 23 hours driving in a car sounds no beuno to me. 

While I’m away in Pittsburgh visiting friends and family I’m really worried about my marathon training suffering.  I’m usually pretty good about fitting in my workouts, but I know I’m going to find it pretty easy to make excuses as to why I can’t workout.  Once I fall off the wagon, it’s hard to get back on. 

So I’m here now to tell you… I WILL NOT SKIP MY WORKOUTS!  Especially since 4th of July festivities means lots of good food.   


Who am I kidding, the whole trip is pretty much going to mean eating all the foods I miss eating in Pittsburgh! 


Anyway, here is what my training plan looks like while I’m out of town. 

  • Saturday 2nd 2 miles (friendly frolic family fun run)
  • Sunday 3rd 10 miles
  • Monday 4th 65 minutes cross and strength
  • Tuesday 5th 4 miles
  • Wednesday 6th 35 cross and strength
  • Thursday 7th 5 miles
  • Friday 8th body pump
  • Saturday 9th sprint triathlon
  • Sunday 10th rest
  • Monday 11th 70 minutes cross and strength
  • Tuesday 12th 4 miles
  • Wednesday 13th 40 minutes cross and strength
  • Thursday 14th 6 miles
  • Friday 15th Body Pump
  • Saturday 16th 12 miles
  • Sunday 17th Rest

After the 9th of July we will be leaving Pittsburgh and heading to George’s parents.  They live in a small town in central Pennsylvania where there is basically NOTHING to do.  His parents don’t even have internet *gasp*.  So I know I’ll be looking for things to do while we are there and fitting in my workouts shouldn’t be a problem. 

I also have the cooler weather to look forward to AND a change in running scenery.  I’ve looked into reciprocating my membership at the YMCA and I know I’ll be able to do so while I’m at George’s parents.  I just need to check into the Pittsburgh YMCA.  I’m hoping all these things will help me get out there and just do it.  NO EXCUSES. 

What do you do to stay on track while you’re on vacation? I’d appreciate any advice y’all have!