Three Things Thursday

1. Ironman’s new SwimStart Initiative, announced today.

Ever since I signed up for IMLP last July, one of my biggest fears has been the chaos of the mass swim start. I prefer to avoid being kicked in the face and/or lung, thankyouverymuch. Today’s VERY exciting news: IMLP will be testing a new rolling start system this year:

“Athletes will enter the water in a continuous stream through a controlled access point, similar to how running road races are started. An athlete’s times will start when they cross timing mats under the swim arch.

Athletes will be directed to self-seed on race morning based on their projected swim time. Volunteers and staff will be in the staging area with signs and will assist with this process. Self-seeding will not be mandatory, but will be encouraged. At both events, all athletes will have access to a dedicated warm-up area in the water located adjacent to the swim start.

Age-group athletes will begin entering the water at 6:35 a.m. for IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene and 6:30 a.m. for IRONMAN Lake Placid, and will have the two hours and twenty minutes from the time the last athlete enters the water to complete the swim. An athlete’s time does not begin until he or she crosses the timing mat located below the swim arch. All athletes are expected to start by 7:00 a.m. at both venues, thus keeping all other timelines and cutoffs the same. This will ensure that all participants have at least the full 17 hours (subject to intermediate cutoffs) to complete the event.”

Since I’m neither a crazy strong fast swimmer nor a lunatic, my plan was always to hang back and let the super competitive folks go out first. Now, I get to do this officially, and my time won’t officially start until I cross the mat! Big fan of this move, WTC!

In addition to Lake Placid, Coeur d’Alene will also have a rolling start.  Mont Tremblant will be seeding by age group, and Tahoe and Florida will have self-seeding into corrals. Personally, I think the rolling start with time chip probably makes the most sense to avoid traffic jams and dangerous conditions, while still preserving somewhat of the traditional mass start feel of an IM. But what do I know, this is my first.

2. It’s storm season in D.C.

photo by Brett Thompson via www.tbd.com

photo by Brett Thompson via http://www.tbd.com

I’ll admit, all this rain lately is putting a bit of a damper on my outdoor riding. Knocking on wood that it won’t interfere with my long ride Saturday morning! But I also cannot deny that I absolutely LOVE a good thunderstorm. Something about growing up in Nebraska develops a deep love in a person for crazy loud, awesome, freaky storms. We’ve yet to have a big one here this spring, but the forecast has been teasing it for days now….

3. CICADA INVASION!!! Bring. It. On. So they’re gross and a little freaky looking. But how amazing are these little creatures? This brood has been laying dormant for 17 years and will soon begin emerging all throughout the Eastern U.S. as soon as the soil reaches the proper temperature. They burrow out of their underground hiding spaces, shed their shell, and become full fledged adults. When they are out and about, they feed on various plant life. AND they are little musicians as well…the male cicadas “sing” as part of their mating practice. In mass chorus, the sound can be almost deafening.

Oh and let me say that one part again…they have been laying dormant for 17 years. 17 FREAKING YEARS! You just gotta respect that. Seriously. 17 years ago I was cruising around my suburban neighborhood on rollerblades and making mix tapes of alternative rock songs recorded off the radio. I hadn’t even started high school yet. That’s when these little Cicada eggs were burrowed into the ground. It’s mindboggling.

This Magicicada website has an incredible amount of information about our little friends, including tracking maps of brood emergence patterns around the country. Worth a browse, as they are truly fascinating critters. Then you decide, Cicada: annoying pest, or TOTAL AND COMPLETE BADASS?! I’m going with badassery.

(Btw, I also love The Onion’s take on the Cicada re-emergence).

I’m sure I’ll encounter many on my long rides out into rural Maryland in the coming weeks.  What do you think, new bike helmet style to consider?

 

So, we bought a thing.

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After 5 years of proud non-car ownership in the city, we finally broke down and bought one! As you know, we bought a house and moved to a new neighborhood back in December. I LOVE our new neighborhood (Brookland rocks!!!) but it simply does not have the same convenience factor as our old place on Cap Hill, where we could literally walk to anything we would possibly need in less than 10 minutes. Now we have a beautiful house and a (soon to be after some landscaping work) even more beautiful backyard, but we are a little farther removed from urban conveniences. So, the time has come.

car-lolcat

We shopped around and finally decided on a 2013 Kia Soul. Not only was it a super good bargain, and a very reasonable car with lots of space for current bikes and future babies, but it’s also a little bit funky (just like moi). Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Plus, it comes with those adorable hamsters.  See?

IMAG0441They’ve already been teaching me a few tricks…

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Yes, I’m a little sad to have finally given into the man (and unavoidable adulthood) by buying a car. But it will make our lives hugely more convenient. I’m already dreaming of being able to drive to the pool first thing in the morning and park rather than have to worry about finding a Car2Go to get back home in time to shower and get to work…and don’t even get me started on my grand plans to drive myself and Rio out to exotic locales like Skyline drive for some glorious hilly long rides!

And I’m not gonna pretend the fact that we recently discovered a Rita’s a couple miles down the road (fortuitously around the same time as the onset of Spring) had nothing to do with it…bring on the yum, please.

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Last week recap, plus Weekly Plan April 22-28, 2013 (14 weeks to IMLP)

Wow, last week was a doozy for all of us. I got over my shock at the Boston attack fairly quickly, and I don’t think it’s a good thing that we’re able to adapt so quickly to terror. But the combination of the Boston news, plus the terrible tragedy in Texas, floods in the midwest, and I could go on and on….let’s just say I found last week a little hard to take.

Luckily, on Sunday I had some great bike therapy. I headed out with my coach, another BRM team member, and my friend the big I for 50+ miles of glorious glorious hills. What a crazy shock to my system! It was great to have my coach there to show us the route and push us along so that I didn’t bail early or tool my way slowly up the hills, etc. It was the longest bike workout I’ve done since the half Iron last year and I could FEEL it later in the day! I also had some issues with fueling on the bike – namely, that I didn’t eat/drink enough. When I got home I realized I had a full bottle of Infinit left that I had somehow FORGOTTEN about? Bizarre, and probably helps explain the wall I hit about 45 miles in on our way back to the city. So, lesson learned.

hungry lolz

Saturday was almost as taxing. After an easy run, Hubz and I headed out for an Earth Day clean-up in the Congress Heights in SE DC. Our task was collecting garbage from the Shepherd Parkway, a huge green space that has served as a de facto landfill for decades. In other words, we just filled up bag after bag after bag of garbage. It was absolutely disgusting, but we could really see the fruits of our efforts and felt like we were doing some serious good for the community.

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After cleaning ourselves up a bit, we headed out to Arlington for some more manual labor helping our friends M and H move. They are just upgrading to a bigger apartment in the same building, so it was a quick and fun moving process. H is quite the decorator and DIY-er (check out her blog), so I can’t wait to see the new place once it’s all put together. We then spent several hours car shopping *cue dramatic music*. (Spoiler: we didn’t buy a car.)

Yesterday after work I hit up our awesome massage therapist for some glorious, glorious muscle work.  It was SO welcome after the long weekend and a stressful week. I simply do not have enough good things to say about massage for muscle maintenance. It’s amazing. Unfortunately I also got some bad news that she is LEAVING to buy a yoga studio! Very exciting news for her, but kind of a bummer for me and for Hubz’s achy back.

cat massage

I didn’t post my plan for last week, but in retrospect, here are my totals –

Swimming: ~ 2 hours, 5050 yards (a thunderstorm cut me off 1/3 of the way through my long swim on Friday night….grr.)
Biking: ~ 6 hours 45 minutes, 73.5 road miles and about 17 trainer miles
Running: ~ 4 hours, 21.7 miles
Strength: 40 minutes
Yoga: None *hangs head in shame*

This week is another big volume one! This ish is getting serious, y’all.

Monday: easy 45 minute run
Tuesday: AM – strength; PM – 2600 yard swim
Wednesday: AM – 60-90 minute bike workout with team; PM – yoga
Thursday: AM – 2600 yard swim; PM – 2 hour run
Friday: AM – 50 minute continuous swim; PM – rest
Saturday: 65 miles bike + off the bike run
Sunday: 2 hour easy recovery bike

One week from Sunday I have my first tri of the season – the Monticelloman Oly down in Charlottesville. D is also racing and I have a feeling it’s going to be a super rad weekend! Now, if only the weather would just get a little more tolerable so that Lake Monticello would warm up a bit…I’m too dang old to go polar bear plunging, even for lurv.

via speculationsandspectacles.wordpress.com

Sunny days are here again!

Well, apparently the weather powers that be saw fit to skip spring all together and send us right into the heart of a D.C. summer.  At least it allowed the cherry blossoms to finally reach their peak!

Photo by Paul Cortez via http://dcist.com/

Photo by Paul Cortez via http://dcist.com/

It’s been so beautiful that yesterday I just couldn’t stand to spend my lunch hour indoors, so I threw myself a spontaneous picnic.

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That book I’m working my way through now is The Known World by Edward P. Jones. Truth be told, I’ve been working my way through it for over two months now. I just can’t get into it, but I’m powering through for discussion with my email/online book club friends. I think it’s telling that it’s been almost three months and no one else is ready to start the discussion yet either…but we’ll see…I can’t make it to the next meeting of my real life book club so provided I actually finish this one, I may actually have to pick my own reading material for once.

We even turned on our A/C at home yesterday. Partially because of how warm it was getting, but also partially because the Kittays were starting to plot their elaborate break out plans…

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IMG00388-20130409-1129There are threats that we’ll even make it to 90 degrees today. Craziness, considering that just a week ago I think I was whining about how cold and dreary it was!

I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of running in the heat, so I’d prefer a bit more gradual transition to get myself accustomed to the change. Even my early morning run today was tough, although I’m blaming at least part of that on residual allergies (and NOT *knock on wood!* getting a nasty chest cold that currently has Hubz on the DL…)

 

Luckily, it’s looking like we’ll get a little cool down this weekend and be back in more spring-y weather next week, just in time to launch into the two final (and biggest!) base weeks of my IMLP training cycle. Woo hoo!

What book should I read next?

Three Things….Friday.

Sorry folks, my butt couldn’t get moving enough yesterday to get the Three Things posted on time.  Sense a theme in my blogging (and every part of) life?  Yeah, it’s slacker-tude.

1.  SPRING IS FINALLY (KIND OF) HERE (ALMOST)!

So, tomorrow I am going on my first proper long ride of the season!!!  I have demanded that D join me for this glorious celebration of (late) Spring and (later) start of tri season.  We’ll be heading out for a solid three hours after which I am resolved to actually do my brick run as scheduled.  The weather is finally cooperating and I could not be more excited.  Ok, so tomorrow’s high is only 55, and it will only be in the high 40s when we head out in the morning.  But then on Sunday…I’ll be greeted with high 60s and perhaps even low 70s for my 1 hour ride + 1 hour run combo.  HUZZAH.

2.  Dinner parties.  Hubz and I bought and moved into our beautiful home last December. (Brookland rocks!)  We have an amazing dining room space and I immediately started dreaming of all the glamorous dinner parties we would be hosting.  Fast forward 4 months, and not a single one has transpired.  But this weekend we will be hosting our friends from Baltimore for dinner on Saturday night so I’m claiming this as the first!  Because we are terribly fancy we will be taking a stab at fine gourmet cuisine with…..fish tacos.  Ok.  So maybe let me ease into this fancy dinner party hostess thing a little.  I think I will try to recreate the amazing fish tacos from Rosario’s in San Antonio (honestly, I was a little obsessed during the year that I was living there) with this copycat recipe.

San Antonio, some days I miss you so....

San Antonio, some days I miss you so….

We’ll undoubtedly be pairing them with a giant bowl of Alton Brown’s guacamole. My sis got me AB’s Good Eats (The Early Years) cookbook for Christmas and we’ve been loving it….especially the guac which we’ve made several times now for various gatherings, and it’s always a hit.  Plus, who doesn’t love them some AB?

Weight-Loss-Alton-Brown-and-Watermelon3.  Cherry blossoms.  The powers that be have revised the projected peak bloom for this year to April 6-10.  Perfect timing for anyone running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler!  In recent years since Spring has been coming earlier and earlier, the 10 miler has been well after peak bloom.  But this year due to our wacky late winter weather, the timing is perfect. Good luck to anyone running and have a blast enjoying the beautiful blossoms!  Personally, I’ll be avoiding the tourist masses.

Cherry Blossom hijinx from years past...

Me and T in cherry blossom hijinx from years past…side ponys represent.

Good thing I can monitor the blooms’ progress on the NPS webcam and hustle down for a run around the tidal basin when things get pretty!

Happy weekend, all!

Anyone running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler this year?  Any other races on the docket for this weekend?

What will you be doing to celebrate Spring/good weather this weekend, if you have it?

Weekly Workout Plan: January 21-27, 2013 (IMLP Week 4)

In honor of week four…a tribute to one of my favorite films.

photo via imdb.com

photo via imdb.com

What do you mean you’ve never seen Four Rooms?  What is wrong with you.  Go, get ye to your Roku or other fancy streaming device and watch it like, yesterday.

Anyway, last week’s workouts turned out a bit different than I had planned.  Hubz was struck with the Flu Part Deux (bigger and badder than ever) so we cancelled our planned trip to Arkansas for hiking/hanging/reveling in the glory of Clintonia.

By the way, did you see the hounds tooth scarf Bill was sporting yesterday at the inaugural festivities?  So stylish it hurts.

THE original power couple.  *Swoon*photo via news.yahoo.com

THE original power couple. *Swoon*
photo via news.yahoo.com

Since we were DC-bound for the weekend, I was able to knock out my long ride and long run per the IM plan.  My weekend long rides are super crucial for me right now, so I was jazzed to get out there.  During the week it’s too cold/dark/inconvenient to actually ride outside, so I log those hours on the trainer or a spin bike.

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I foolishly thought it would be fun to ride down to the National Mall on Sunday to check out the pre-inaugural hubbub.  Super dumb idea.  Upon realizing I couldn’t really get any further south than M Street without having to hop some barriers, I reversed course and rode out toward Silver Spring-ish and back.  Much more relaxing.

On that note, I should note that Hubz and I stayed home in lieu of any inaugural celebration events.  I thought briefly about repeating the super fun (cold) time that was 2009.  But the fact remained that we moved into our beautiful new house over a month ago and still had boxes to unpack and furniture to arrange.  Seriously, we even had a bunch of brand new rugs that were delivered weeks ago that we hadn’t even unrolled and laid down.  They really tie the room together.

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Since we had a surprise free day home together, we decided to bite the bullet and get the house put together.  Add some Chinese delivery and minute-by-minute ceremony and parade coverage and we had the makings for a fantastic (albeit slightly exhausting) day.

Anyway.  Not a day too late (except actually two days too late), my workout plan for the coming week.  This is the first recovery week of my plan, as it generally follows a 3 week build to 1 week recovery pattern.  Since mileage is still pretty low, it only seems like a tiny reprieve at this point, but it’ll be nice nonetheless.

Monday: REST (to the extent that running up and down stairs and moving furniture and doing 79,000 loads of laundry all day counts as rest)
Tuesday: AM – 2500 yard swim; PM – 30 minute Z2 run
Wednesday: AM – strength (with personal trainer); PM – 45 minute Z2 transition (30 minute bike into 15 minute run)
Thursday: AM – 2500 yard swim; PM – 30 minute Z1 bike (100+ RPM)
Friday: AM – 45 minute Z2 run; PM – strength
Saturday: 90 minute Z2 bike
Sunday: 8 mile run

This week I’m diverting slightly from my pre-established plan and switching to distance based long runs rather than time based.  This is because of my (perhaps ill-conceived) decision last week to add a half marathon in March. Yeah, more on that wackiness to come.

Disco Living: HCRA arguments and de-slime-ing DC

After a week of outrageously warm temps, last night it got cold again.  It actually feels like March today rather than early June.  While it’s nice to see mother nature get back a little closer to normal, but the selfish part of me can’t deny that I was loving that unseasonable warmth.  Especially the part of me that’s about to head out for a bike ride and isn’t looking forward to returning with numb fingers and toes.

Today in Disco Living, the Supreme Court takes on the national health care access debate, and a bit of D.C. pride that we are keeping slime out of our public school kids’ meals.

A contentious day at SCOTUS and beyond

The city is buzzing today as the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on the Health Care Reform Act this morning at 9.  Although a friend of mine suggested the idea, I declined the opportunity to be one of the poor souls who waited in line for days just to get one of the public tickets to the argument.  However, my walk to work ventures right by the Supreme Court building, so I got a taste of the hubbub.

A packed house on the courthouse steps

On my walk home I snapped a few photos of the crowds.  Protestors, reporters, photographers, and even groups of middle school kids in their matching spring break trip t-shirts were all gathered in front and across the street, seemingly waiting for something to happen. But, it was already several hours since arguments wrapped up for the day, so I’m not sure what was happening.  I considered stopping to ask one of the multitude of cops around, but figured they had enough to deal with.

Yikes.

The other side of Constitution was a different story.  There was a pretty serious gathering of anti-Obama/anti-HCRA/tea party types who were in full swing.  If you look close enough in this photo, you will see that one guy was wielding a pitchfork.  I tried to get a closer picture, but these people were a bit intimidating and since they’re not really my scene, I figured it a better idea to scurry away promptly.

I’m not following the case too closely, but as a law nerd I know enough to understand that it looks like a 4-4 split and it’s going to come down to Justice Kennedy’s swing vote, just as so many politically charged cases do these days.

Ewww. What IS that stuff?!?

Remember a couple weeks ago when ABC News got us all thinking about pink slime in our food?  Well today, D.C. public schools confirmed to the DCist blog that they do not serve the beef containing this filler substance…whatever it is.

To me, there’s an obvious connection from nutrition and fitness to overall good health.  If we aren’t given access to healthy food or taught to eat properly in our impressionable years, it only creates any number of bad habits to attempt to reverse later in life.   And that can be a very difficult task.  Made even more difficult if we can’t even determine what is in our food to start with, be it pink slime, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols, or any number of other additives and preservatives whose effects we haven’t even begun to understand.

Not only are D.C. students promised their beef will be slime-less, but the D.C. government has actually gone much farther to improve their health and well-being.  The D.C. Council passed the D.C. Healthy Schools Act back in 2010 to improve the nutrition and general health of school children in the District.  The law focuses on improving school nutrition, including an emphasis on providing locally sourced ingredients, and sets goals for minimum amounts of physical activity each day.  It also provides for increased access to free and reduced breakfasts and lunches for students who may otherwise go unfed.  The law also establishes programs to improve education for students about proper nutrition and the importance of fitness, and overall wellness.

D.C. schools are subject to much criticism, but at least in this area they are on the right track.  Applause to D.C. lawmakers for focusing on this important issue.