A huge upgrade

So I am a runner but all runners know it is good to cross train, even take some time off and do other sports for a while. For me that is cycling. I use to ride a lot in college when my grandparents were dying of cancer it was a great escape. Then I left it for a while. I focused on running. But now I am backing to combining all of it. I have done one triathlon and I loved it so much. I want to do even more with hopes of completing an Ironman.
So in 2006 I purchased an entry level road bike. A Giant OCR3. I have never spent that much on a bike before and was surprised but intent on getting my money worth. I also thought well if I get into this I will save up for one of those nice bikes. So I road. I have completed 3 MS bike rides that included 3 centuries (100 miles) and a sprint triathlon on this bike. Way more than I expected to put for milage on this bike. I loved this bike. It was my companion for hours and hours. But it was time to part ways. It was time to upgrade.
I will always remember my first road bike but its like a first boyfriend. It doesn’t last forever and you need to get your feet wet, shop the field before you settle.
So I purchased a Bianchi She. I cannot wait to get the milage in on this. It is such and upgrade. It is like I totally skipped the midlevel and went up. It fits me even better than the OCR3 and I hope that makes for more comfortable rides as well as faster times!
I sold my Giant bike, hopefully it will get another person into riding just like it did me.
Goodbye Giant hello Bianchi!

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Spring in your step

So finally after 95 days of snow on the ground I am ready for spring. This winter has been a notable one in the midwest. We had 3 back to back blizzards leaving snow on the ground for 95 days strait. That is right I did not see any grass for 95 days. So when the first thaw approached I was reluctant to believe it. Yes it melted most of the snow, and threats of flooding surrounded and potholes emerged; but was it really spring? Nope we still had snow the last weekend of March. This snow put a huge damper in any plans of a spring marathon, the snow, cold and conditions of the road, and my schedule made it harder to get quality milage in and so 2 weeks ago I decided a spring marathon was not going to happen. It will have to be a half marathon.
Why does it feel like I lost. It feels like I let winter win. Most people have a life goal of running a half marathon, and for me I feel like I am settling. I actually love racing the half marathon more than a full, but thats just it, it’s a race to me. Not as challenging not as hard. Why do I feel this? A half marathon is a great race and it is hard it’s longer than a 5K or 10K and should receive more credit because it is a faster race than a marathon, and can be just as challenging. Heading out too fast at 10K pace can hurt you and too slow and you will not hit a PR. To me running the half would compare to running the 3,000 in track. I was a mid distance runner that occasionally went to the long distances. And now I am that long distance runner that occasionally goes to mid distance. I will try to embrace the half marathon and it a PR, I mean actually a PR in the half for me was during a full marathon. I guess I should improve that, and I can learn a lot. Maybe I need to focus on the half marathon for a while, to improve my speed to get that BQ. I guess that is what upsets me the most. I am so close to a BQ I can taste it, so not getting the training I wanted to, made it sobering to give in.

At last though I can say spring is here. This week we will hit the 80s. And I will approach this spring with more bounce in my step. I made it through one of the worst winters in Nebraska history. I did manage to run most of the winter outside and I did get good training for a half marathon in. I can always push my training and shoot for an early summer marathon and a late fall marathon. But with spring its hard to chose what sports to do. Cycling, running, swimming. Then you include yard work, walking the dogs, BBQ and all the fun spring and summer brings and that is your biggest challenge.

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A photo Blog of the Living History Farms Race 2009

Here is a recap of the 2009 race. My mother took all the picture while I was running. This year was much warmer than last year. It was about 35 degrees. It had been in the 50′s earlier in the week, so lots and lots of mud.

From website photos
From website photos

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MY review of the Garmin FR-60

This is a handy training tool. For years I was using the Nike + system but it just was not enough for me and I found that it was making my i pod battery deplete more quickly.  I have an old Garmin 205 but it would loose its signal frequently and was large and bulky.  I have very small wrists so I needed something small.  I also wanted more out of my watch.  Just what I wanted I was not sure.  I like to stay minimal if not it distracts from running.  But the right watch could help with training immensely.  So what watch was I to buy.  Spend over $400 and get the latest and greatest or spend time and less money and get something different.  Do I go with a Garmin? a Polar? a Timex?  Luckily the Runners World Magazine had an article close to the time I was buying a watch.  So I considered what the article said and did my own research.  After some time debating I went with the Garmin FR-60.

This has a heart rate monitor and optional foot pod to but as well as I can buy a cadence monitor for my bike.  Huge bonus.  I ordered the watch through amazon and struggled with receiving my order.  DO not order the watch through amazon.  Or really watch what you are buying.  I received half my order and it was the wrong color and it took me over 2 months to get it all straighted out with customer service.

Once I had the watch I needed to figure out how to use it.  It is very user friendly.  Large display but not too large for my wrist. It does not have a touch screen and the keys are a little stiff.  I am sure with more use the buttons will be easier to press.  I also like that it has a back light.  I bought the women’s model which fits my smaller wrist.  But if you are a women with a big wrist you might want to but the men’s model.  I ordered black but received purple- Thanks amazon.  The purple is not a bad color  though,  Just girlie.

The heart rate monitor came with it and I feel is very comfortable.  The strap was a little to big for me so I had to sew it some to make it tighter.  Very easy to do.  I got the foot pod to go with it.  Note if you do not get the foot pod then this watch is just a very nice heart rate monitor.  It does not have GPS so it needs the foot pod to track your runs.  I decided on a foot pod/watch combo instead of a GPS because I can use this watch indoors as well.  If you buy a GPS watch you still need a foot pod to use the watch indoors for example on a treadmill.  Since Nebraska has such great weather, I train indoors more than I would like too.  You can calibrate the foot pod and it will be 99% accurate.  The foot pod is actually the exact same size as the Nike foot pod.  So if you have Nike shoes it will fit.  If not it does have a clip that locks it in place on your shoe.  This lock is easy to use and does not slip but is easy to move from shoe to shoe.

Features of the watch.  Like I said you can buy a cadence monitor for your bike.  I do not have that yet so I can’t comment on this.  Like the other Garmin running devices it has the Virtual Running Partner in it.  You can program time and or distance and a little running buddy appears on the screen and lets you know if you are holding pace.  Nice feature that I loved on my old Garmin.  You can program heart rate zones for all activities and target zones.  The watch will beep and notify when you are in and out of zones.  As well as if you hit a max heart rate.  I have never trained using a heart rate monitor and now that I have this device I love it.  It has helped me a ton improve my training as well as knowing when to back off or pick it up.   It also has an interval feature you can set up to do speed work.

The watch stores workouts and also has the ANT device which with wireless downloads to the Garmin site when it is in range.  I looked at the Garmin site and found it very hard to navigate and read data.  I use Buckeye Outdoors for my training log.  I love it, but I hit a snag.  I have an Apple computer and this device and site do not work together yet.  So for now I manually enter my data.  Buckeye Outdoors hopes to have a way to support Mac soon.  I guess I could give the Garmin site another shot.

This is not just a running watch.  I use it mostly for running but I do cardio/strength workout up to three days a week and I can use the watch for these too.  It will store my time, heart rate and calories burned.  Big plus!!

So far I love this watch and all of the raw data it gives me.  It is such a great training tool.  I hope it will improve my training.  I will let you know after my next marathon!!

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Running in the Cold and Snow

Some runner have the advantage of living in climates that have fair weather all year round. Other runners have the joys of all four seasons, and some of us have the extremes in the seasons. I am a runner who trains in the extremes of the season. Nebraska has extreme cold, as well as extreme heat and humidity. About two weeks ago we experienced our first blizzard for the year. It approached quickly and left most of us stuck inside for a while, with areas having over 12 inches of snow fall, blowing winds, leaving snow drifts higher, and temperatures with wind chills near -15 degrees Fahrenheit. A lot of people take to the gyms to train during the winter spending miles and miles on treadmills and elliptical. Others tough the conditions and run outdoors still. I enjoy the outdoors as much as I can. I do try to stay indoors when it is extremely cold but mostly I am toughing the snow and cold. I would like to offer some tips for those who have to brave the cold as well.
Lets face it, 12 miles on a treadmill is grueling and not for everyone. Also it is important to train in the conditions you will race. It is hard to train for a marathon ran on a road over hills on a treadmill. So you have the choice to take to the roads, or only do a marathon when the weather is ideal for training. Of course most people to do not run marathons in 12 inches of snow or in extreme cold. But you can still get quality training done, and enjoy the outdoors while it is cold. Sometimes running when it is snowing and no one else is around is the most peaceful time. You can feel the cold flakes hit your warm face, See your breath in the air. The sharp cold wind in your lungs. The sounds of tiny pieces of ice bouncing off trees and streets and leaves almost like a smooth breeze. Animal tracks in the sea of white, and the sound of your shoes swishing on the snow. This is life.
But in order to enjoy this you have to dress properly. no what to expect and remember safety.
First it helps to watch the weather, look on line or your local news to know, what the temperatures are, what type of precipitation is expected for the day, especially at the time you will be running. Make sure someone knows you are going out for a run if the weather could turn bad. Be aware that it is usually colder be 10 degrees or so running in the trees.
So you have checked the weather now its is time to gather your stuff. It is best to wear layers and dress warm. It is easier to take off layers than to put on warmer clothes. Your base layer should consist of a wicking material tight to the skin. Something that pulls off moisture to keep you dry. I usually wear a cool max or under armor shirt. I also will wear a tight compression type short not a loose short if it might be colder than 30 degrees. The next layer should be your warm layer. If you have a long winter such as I do, I advise that you invest in winter weight running tights. Something made for cold temperatures. There are several tights to choose from, it goes to preference. I like tights that are fitted and have elastic bands at the bottom that grab close to the ankles ( keeps the snow out). The winter tights will feel heavier that normal tights and usually have two layers the smooth spandex outside and a fleece liner, or a capilene type liner. It is also ideal to invest in winter running tops. Your second layer you do not want to wear a wicking material or a summer weight product. This layer needs to keep your heat in. Buy a Capilene long sleeve shirt, a cotton blend or my absolute favorite by Mizuno is their Breathe Thermo line. You do not want to wear heavy bulky sweatshirts it adds weight and makes it harder to run. Your last layer should be wind and/or water proof. Many companies make running gear that are of this material. Weather it be a zip up coat, a pull over or a light 2 liner jacket. There are a wide variety to choose from. f its is not gong to snow or sleet or rain and the temperature is somewhat fair you can skip that last layer, or you can select another long sleeve shirt similar to your second layer. Lastly you need a hat or ear muffs, gloves or mittens, a thick pair of socks, and sometimes if it is very cold a muffler or neck gaiter to protect your face. When picking socks you might want to wear a mid crew or something higher to protect your ankles and a heavy wool mix is nice for the cold. You can wear a boot but it is hard to run in a boot. A lot of times trail shoes have a heavier more water resistant layer than normal running shoes. Also running shoes bought in the fall and summer are very different. Summer running shoes have more mesh layers to let the heat escape your feet and fall shoes are more covered so you want to run in a fall shoe at least.
You can spend a small fortune buying all sorts of technical running gear for the cold climates. If you know you will you it a lot and have a long winter that has extreme colds and lots of snow it might be a good idea. But if you stick to the layers you can get by with your fall gear and then just add a heavier coat or top. gloves and a hat.
How can you tell if you are warm enough or too hot? Well it is best to do a warm up before you leave your house. You can get your heart pumping in doors and it will not be as hard on your body when you hit the cold. You can also start by going for a walk around the block. You should feel cool, but not cold, you should not be shivering. Once you get running you should feel comfortable. Warm on the chest and legs but not hot like you are in a bath tub. Remember if you feel too hot take off a layer, usually your second layer. Your fingers and toes should not be ice cold. You need to protect anything that sticks out, nose, chin. ears lips. Keep an eye on sighs of frost bite. Numbness and white are the first signs. If your fingers are cold and white place them under cool water ASAP. Black is too late go to the hospital.
There are other safety concerns besides the weather to think about. First is visibility. Most people driving cars or out doing things do not expect to see people out running and walking in the winter like they do in the spring in summer. So make sure you are wearing what makes you visible to others. Bright colors, and reflective clothing. This may seem obvious but if it is snowing do not wear white. If you are running at night you may want a headlamp or night vest. People need to know you are out there so think about that when you are buying your clothes. You also want to make sure you can see others. So you might need sun glasses, the snow reflects light and can make glares which will make it hard for you to see, also if it is snowing the precipitation can make it hard for you to see so, put on some glasses. Second is ice. Many times the snow melts and refreezes and some people may clear their walks well why others do not at all. Keep an eye on the ground and watch your footing. Sometimes the snow compacts a lot and can be just as dangerous as ice. The depth can also throw you off, you may miss step or not see curbs, rocks broken sticks etc. Just be aware that the ground is different. It helps to SLOW DOWN when in doubt. If the snow is thick and laborious to run through it might help to run on the street if it is clear. Do not try to run a long side with cars, and make sure you are visible if you do this. Make eye contact with the drivers and wave to acknowledge they are there.
Running on these surfaces can be challenging, there are a few products that can help you. Of course if the snow is deep enough six inches or more, you can wear snow shoes. They make a great workout and work your muscles a little differently. You can also get Yak Trax put on your shoes. These apply right over the bottoms and add extra tracking. There are also other types of shoe covers that have large nubs to get better tracking. You just have to look around. Lastly be aware of your surroundings. Keep your ears and eyes open. Don’t wear an Ipod it makes it hard to hear others or hear cars. And look out for branches on trees that are weighted down, drivers, and animals.
Well now that you know how to dress and some safety tips you are set for a season of training in the cold wintry months. You can enjoy the outdoors and switch up your winter routine a little. You can get off the treadmill and enjoy nature and all it has to offer.

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