Sunday, August 31, 2014

Triathlon Training Week 11


Monday: Run 2.0 miles (12:22 pace) - a mini progression run of 0.4 mile laps around my block. I wanted to run easy for the first lap (rounded to 12:50), and then go down :15 each lap (12:35, 12:20, 12:05, 11:50).

Actual lap paces:
1 - 12:54
2 - 12:44
3 - 12:32
4 - 11:59
5 - 11:41

Thursday: Sightseeing run 3.85 miles (13:02 pace) - we went on a mini vacation to Seattle to meet up with my parents for a Mariners game (Wednesday's game against the Rangers, where they were basically slaughtered), and the next morning saw some of the city the best way possible - running!

Saturday: LSD run 4.65 miles (14:23 pace) + swim 1,000 yards

LSD run: LSD = long slow distance. This is what long runs are supposed to be - at least 30 seconds - 1 minute slower than race goal pace. Going beyond that, there's a school of thought that I've seen pop up a lot lately in blogs I read - MAF training. This is heart-rate paced training, where you don't let your heart rate raise above a certain amount, basically keeping it to a conversational pace. This is essentially the same as aerobic base training.

I've felt like I've plateaued lately on my mid- to long-distance paces, and also noticed how, even if I'm in shape to run 6 miles or bike 20 miles, I frequently get a bit out of breath walking up stairs or on a brisk walk. I think these are related, and I've spent far too much of my workouts in anaerobic zones. I'm so slow, I've pushed myself to increase my speed without properly building up to it. I'm not as fit as I should be aerobically, regardless of what my leg muscles are capable of pushing my body through. 

I'll do a separate post on my plan in this regards, but did my first attempt at a super slow run this week. I haven't bought a heart rate monitor, but am going on effort - slightly too hard to sing, but could easily carry on a conversation, and feel in terms of both muscle fatigue and cardio/breathing that I could keep going forever. This meant I stayed way slower than I wanted to, and than I'm used to! This really emphasized that even on my "easy" runs (usually averaging around 13:30), I'm used to working at least 80% effort - much harder than aerobic levels.

Mile laps:
1 - 13:17
2 - 13:44
3 - 14:27
4 - 15:19
4.65 - 15:36 

Swim: 4 x 50, 500 (i.e., almost race distance - slightly shorter because my pool is yards and the race is 500 meters), 3 x 100

Sunday: Brick workout: Bike 13.2 miles (14.3 mph) + run 1.6 miles (11:56 pace) - last brick before the triathlon! It's less than a week away!

Total swimming: 1,000 yards
Total biking: 13.2 miles
Total running: 12.1 miles

What Makes a Marriage Feminist?

It feels slightly inappropriate to write a post about marriage when I've only been married for 34 days, but I wanted to join this bloghop by Balancing Jane. Hopefully if you've read my blog for any length of time, you already have an idea of my stance on feminism, after reading some of my rants on marriage-related and wedding-related feminist issues.

In some ways, Abe and I have made decisions in formatting our relationship that directly contradict patriarchal norms. He's in charge of the kitchen - grocery shopping, cooking, dishing. I'm currently the sole income-provider, and do most of the planning and tracking of our big-picture finances. We both wore engagement rings before our wedding, walked up to the ceremony together (I didn't have a grand entrance nor get given away), and both kept our birth last names.

Some might look at these choices, and imagine we made them to directly rebel against traditions (*cough* certain relatives *cough*). In fact, that's not the case at all. We haven't made decisions based on either complying or flouting expectations. All we're doing to forming our lives in a way that works for us, that makes sense based on who we are, not as a man and a woman, but as our individual selves and as a couple. 

Abe enjoys cooking, and loves the challenge of planning a meal that is both nutritionally sound and cheap to create. I love my career and am lucky that it pays well enough to support us as he goes back to school to find his own fulfilling path. Our wedding was full of choices that reflected *us*, regardless of typical wedding standards.

And I don't quite mean that we're following "choice feminism". I believe there are issues with that concept (the theory that feminism is about allowing choices, including the choice to follow a more traditionally patriarchal path), mainly that we aren't making those choices in a cultural vacuum. A woman who chooses to take her husband's last name and stay at home to raise children may be making a conscious choice to do so, but it's nonetheless heavily influenced by society's expectations. If she also has negative connotations with her birth name (perhaps due to poor family relationships), and finds fulfillment in child development, this might really be the option that stays true to herself. But the challenge is in truly exploring that choice, determining what is important to you, and making the choice that represents yourself.

Sometimes, the choice may seem irrelevant. For example, we just set up our joint bank account. Some might think it doesn't matter who's listed as the primary account holder. But traditionally, the man was always first, because he had legal authority over both his and his wife's assets. So it was important to us that Abe wasn't the primary account holder just because he's male. 

Alternatively, I could the primary account holder because I'm currently the breadwinner. But it's not my money, it's our money! Just like the default of the husband being listed first supports the concept that the man is charge of the money, the (previously inherently the same) default of the breadwinner being listed first supports the concept that the breadwinner has ultimate control of the joint money. We don't believe in that, either, regardless of which partner is earning the money.

Instead, we flipped a coin. I ended up winning the coin toss and being listed as the primary account holder. It was important to us, though, that this isn't because I'm the income provider, but because there didn't need to be a default. If it's our money, it's our money. We're not making a choice for or against society's expectation, but we're making a choice based on the true belief that there isn't any default

There shouldn't be a default as to who is listed on first on a joint bank account, and there shouldn't be a default as to who changes their last name. A feminist relationship doesn't act for or against patriarchal or feminist norms, but rather ignores norms on all sides, and makes decisions for the individuals involved. 

Yes, this makes decisions more complicated! Sometimes it would be nice to have a default to fall back on, to make a mindless choice that we know others will support. But having a husband who believes as I do that we need to make the best choice for us means we have to take responsibility for our choices, and ultimately we know that we're choosing the most fulfilling life we can create. That's a feminist marriage.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hood to Coast 2014: Running Legs 8, 20, & 32

(Separate post to come recapping the non-running aspects of the experience.)

If you're not familiar with Hood to Coast or similar relay races, here's how it works: Each team consists of 12 people; 6 people each in 2 vans. Van 1 starts the race, running legs 1 - 6. You drop off runner 1, then drive to exchange 1 to meet them. Runner 1 comes in, hands off a bracelet to runner 2, who heads off on the next leg. You drive to exchange 2 to meet them, etc. Every six legs, the vans exchange; runner 6 hands off to runner 7 from van 2. Now van 2 drives to meets them at the next exchange, while van 1 heads directly to exchange 12 and has a little time to rest. And so on for the rest of the 36 legs, until each runner has run 3 legs. You all meet up at the end and the whole team runs the last 50 feet or so to cross the finish line together.

I was in van 2, runner 8. Even though we drew randomly to assign legs, this was fortunately one of the shortest and relatively easy set of legs, with all three under 6 miles each.

Skip to: Leg 8 Leg 20 Leg 32

Expected time of day: 12:37 pm
Expected temperature: 72
Expected pace: 11:30
Expected elevation:

Actual time of day: 12:12 pm
Actual temperature: 72
Actual pace: 12:01
Actual elevation:

Mile splits:
1 - 11:18 
2 - 12:02
3 - 11:51
4 - 12:54
4.55 - 12:00

Ok, I guess the overall decline per the elevation chart is there, but it really didn't feel like it! There were also a lot more rolling hills than I expected - the race chart smoothed over some of those smaller ups and downs. Until I imported the Garmin data, I truly though the race elevation chart was a lie - it did not feel like an overall downhill at all!

Despite being fresh, at the beginning of the race, this leg felt pretty hard! I guess I had high expectations - oh, it's the first leg, it's mostly downhill - so any challenge felt unexpected and thus even harder. There were more little hills, and there wasn't much shade - it felt closer to 80 than 70 in the sun.

I wasn't sure how many people would be around, as the teams start and finish at different times. There's about a 12 hour window of start times, and 8 hour window for finish times, so I knew teams would start converging as we got farther along, but wasn't sure how lonely the first legs would be.

It turns out there are plenty of people around the whole way! Not crowded the way a normal race is, of course, it is possible to go a few minutes without seeing anyone. But you're passing and being passed by (or in my case, just being passed by), at least a dozen runners during any given leg. Most of the time, the vans are also following the same route to get to the next exchange, so you'll see your van a mile or two in, and other vans that would stop and help you if you really needed assistance. In the few cases where vans couldn't drive along the course (for example, some were along the Springwater Trail instead roads), there were volunteers on bikes patrolling. 

Expected time of day: 11:14 pm
Expected temperature: 62
Expected pace: 13:30
Expected elevation:

Actual time of day: 10:39 pm
Actual temperature: 66
Actual pace: 13:10
Actual elevation:

Mile splits:
1 - 12:54
2 - 13:31
3 - 11:57 (the little downhill)
4 - 14:55 (back uphill, on gravel)
5 - 13:56
5.75 - 11:10 (downhill, wee!)

This one was - quite unexpectedly - my favorite leg. It was fully dark by the time I started, but nice that it was a smidge earlier than estimated. Also, I don't know if it was the adrenaline (and caffeine) or what, but it felt so much easier than I anticipated! The first 2+ miles were definitely a steady uphill, but truly not super steep. Then you get a little break, followed by more uphill, this time as the road change to gravel. That aspect was not fun; super dusty, especially as vans and faster runners passed by. Then the last downhill segment was longer than I thought, and it was just great!

As far as safety while running at night: From well before dusk to way past dawn (I believe it was from 6 pm to 7 am), you're required to wear a reflective vest, blinky lights on front and back, and a headlamp or carry a flashlight. From 7 am to 9 am, you have to continue wearing a reflective vest. As mentioned above, you were rarely alone for more than a few minutes without another runner or van passing by. They also, for these night legs on country roads without cell reception, had volunteers on motorcycles (and presumably with radios) patrolling back and forth. 

There was one point along this leg where I heard rustling in the woods alongside the road, followed by what sounded like a large cat of some sort snarling. That helped me pick up my speed for a while! Talking with other runners at later exchanges, I heard multiple stories. Some said there were some people trying to prank the runners by wearing gorilla suits and prowling along the course. Other people said someone actually saw a bobcat; other people said they saw a bear. Guess I'll never know what was actually there, but I really felt pretty safe for most of the time! 

Expected time of day: 9:15 am
Expected temperature: 70
Expected pace: 12:30
Expected elevation:

Actual time of day: 8:25 am
Actual temperature: 59
Actual pace: 12:37
Actual elevation:

Mile splits:
1 - 11:41
2 - 12:26
3 - 13:28
4 - 13:05
4.1 - 11:27

Right before I started, I thought I'd actually go faster, maybe in the 11s. It was still pretty cool from overnight, and I knew this leg would be flat-ish, some rolling hills but nothing too steep. My legs still didn't feel overly fatigued, definitely felt like I'd saved up energy for the end!

Once I got going though, I knew it wasn't going to happen. Though my muscles weren't tired, my whole body was. After waking up from a brief nap and sending off the runner before me, I didn't think I had quite enough to eat and drink some caffeine, and let it properly digest to avoid problems once I started running, so I just wasn't fueled up enough. It also started warming up as we went, and there wasn't much shade.

In the last 100 feet or so, a runner passed me, tapped me on the shoulder and said "tag!". I really tried to keep up with him, and did for a minute or so, before giving up. This was indicative of the support other runners gave each other, though. Even though virtually everyone passed me, there was almost always a "good job", or "keep it up" as they moved along. 

After each leg, one of the coworkers in my van asked us if we'd do Hood to Coast again. After my first leg, it was "yes...". After my second leg, it was a "hell yes!". After this third leg, it was back to a slightly hesitant "yes...". But really, I definitely do want to. This highlighted some weaknesses in my running skills that I already knew I had, and want to work on. But it really is a fun and supportive race atmosphere, and totally worth the sleep deprivation!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

HTC Training Week 6 & Triathlon Training Week 10


Tuesday: Run 2.5 miles (12:08 pace)

Hood to Coast
Friday AM: 4.55 miles (12:01 pace)
Friday PM: 5.75 miles (13:10 pace)
Saturday AM: 4.1 miles (12:37 pace)

Total running: 16.9 miles

Oops. I don't think I quite realized until finalizing this post that I really did completely skip out on any tri training, no swimming or biking happened. The biking was more due to a busy week, especially during the early evening hours when I'm most inclined to do it (I'd also like to buy some cheap long sleeve shirts to bike in, to minimize any future wounds from probable future falls, and haven't gotten around to doing that yet). Swimming was avoided while my scrapes from last weekend's fall healed; my arm in particular had a very deep scrap that is only just now starting to heal over, so I didn't think chlorine would feel too great.

As mentioned in last week's workout post, though, I was leaning against doing an Olympic distance tri this year, and I've pretty much completed decided that now. There's a running race the week in between the sprint one I'm doing and the Olympic one I was going to do that I really want to do, and have decided that's a higher priority right now. This also means that I'm pretty much overtrained for just doing a sprint (especially as far as bike distance - I've gotten to 25 miles and race distance is only 15.5). I do need to get back to some swimming and biking this week, and I'll be sure to fit in another open water swim (probably just the Thursday before the race, so I'll already have the race-weekend-wetsuit-rental available for it). But overall I feel prepared enough for it.

Hood to Coast was very fun! I definitely want to do it again at some point. I'm less sore than I thought I'd be, so I probably could have pushed a bit harder. The first two legs I was trying to conserve energy, but by the last leg I was too tired to put much more into it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

HTC Training Week 5 & Triathlon Training Week 9


Monday: Rest day, just a couple minutes of planking (total, not continuous)

Tuesday:  TRI Team swim practice 1,500 yards + run 2.0 miles (12:34 pace)

Wednesday: Run 4.20 miles (13:27 pace)

Thursday: Unplanned rest day

Friday: Swim 1,000 yards

Saturday: Bike 11.0 miles, including feeling so great that I decided to try taking a drink of water while moving... followed by a confirmation that no, I'm still not good on the bike, as I crashed into the sidewalk. 

I was able to get the water bottle out just fine, but somehow couldn't line it up to put it back. I probably should have just tossed the bottle to the ground, then stopped to pick it up, but in the moment I panicked and didn't let go of the water bottle which meant I couldn't use my brakes or steer efficiently, and just let myself run into the sidewalk and fall. Riding home for 5 miles with the wind on uncovered, fresh wounds kind of sucks, by the way.

Not too "injured", just scrapes, bruises, and road rash on my right knee and forearm. But it kept me from the midday Saturday open water swim (which I really needed the open water practice, and I'd even gotten around to renting a wetsuit for the weekend!), due to paranoia of flesh-eating bacteria (Abe also concurred I shouldn't go to the swim, though probably not based on quite the same logic). 

Sunday: Unplanned rest day. I really could have at least gone for an easy run, but the idea of the brick that TRI Team was doing, an hour bike and hour run, was not appealing - my knee felt bruised up enough that that much repetitive motion seemed like not a good idea. And I just felt like vegging out and feeling sorry for myself.

Total swimming: 2,500 yards
Total biking: 11.0 miles
Total running: 6.2 miles

Even prior to the Great Bike Crash of August 2014, I was thinking of stepping back from the Olympic distance for the Portland Tri (debating it such that I'm still not registered for it; the plan was to do the sprint distance at Aluminum Man, using it largely as a final brick workout for Portland two weeks later). Looking at last year's results, I seriously might be in the last ten finishers.

And now, I feel like I'm not only too slow to do that distance now, but not competent enough in my skills in swimming or bicycling to even safely do them in a race setting (i.e., pushing myself on pace and trying to fuel appropriately). How can I do a race where the bike portion is going to take almost two hours as it is, and then have to make stops to fuel because I'm not capable of eating or drinking while moving?

I know part of this is missing some key workouts and build-up due to the honeymoon and other things. But even if I'd gotten in every single workout - I'm still slow, I'm still overweight, I'm still new at two of the three sports. Or maybe it's just a lack of confidence, and no matter where I finish it'd be worth the challenge anyway?

How do you tell when you're in over the head, versus just not motivated to put in the necessary work or lack a trust in yourself?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Husband Doesn't Get Asked This Question

I phrased the title in reference to my own husband, but I'm basing this more on observations of other men (primarily coworkers, so the sample is recent and in the same general socioeconomic class, educational background, etc. as me - as well as working in the exact same office environment!) who have gotten married. (Abe is also on summer break, not interacting daily with coworkers as I am, so an alternative explanation for him, personally, not getting this would be his current daily circumstances.)

After taking two weeks off for our honeymoon, I've now been back at work for a few days. Lots of catching up on emails, as usual after a vacation. The typical "how was your vacation" questions are slightly modified to include congratulations and ask how the wedding went, or how married life is going.

But two significant differences have also occurred: First, I've had lots of forms to fill out, to change the beneficiary on my life insurance and 401(k) to Abe, and add him to the health insurance policy. Second, and this what this post is ranting about, virtually everyone I've interacted with for more than a brief greeting has asked me what my current last name is. 

Granted, sometimes this questions is worded in a less obnoxious way, making clear whether or not there is an underlying presumption as to what I did - "What do I call you now?" versus "You're still Margaret [Yourname], right?" - but I have never heard this asked of any male coworkers upon returning from their honeymoon. Ever. 

Marriage-related name changes vary by state, but in Oregon, both spouses have the exact same options. There isn't even a default for either spouse (i.e., it's not like the husband keeps his name and the wife changes hers unless they select otherwise) - you have to deliberately select one of the available options (either party's birth name, name at time of marriage, or some combination thereof) when filling out the marriage certificate. A woman changing her name is not the default, the automatic choice, or path of least resistance logistically! Why, then, would anyone, in this day and age, presume that a woman has, of course!, changed her name by getting married?

I'll give the older generation a little bit of slack. There's one very "good ol' boys" former-partner of the firm, actually, who I would totally expect to be shocked that a woman didn't change her name, and would find it rather amusing to witness his reaction (I haven't talked to him yet this week, though, to confirm this hypothesis). But if you were raised in the era of working moms and hyphenated family names - no. You get no slack for making such a ridiculously outdated assumption.

The worst interaction was actually from a coworker who I also went to college with (at a Quaker university - some might assume this Christian background would create a framework on more fundamentalist beliefs, but Quakers are actually a quite liberal branch of Christianity, with a history full of fighting for social improvement). She's one year older than me, same education, same cultural background, same professional environment.

She was emailing me yesterday afternoon (so I'd been at work for a full two days - surely, if I needed to do something like update my name on firm documents, I would have gotten to it by then) about a client, and then added "You haven't updated your [email] signature yet!!:)" 

Crossing my fingers that I was interpreting that the wrong way, I decided to play dumb in my response "Updated for what?" The email thread continued:

Her: Didn't you just get married!?
Me: Do our clients care about my marital status?
Her: Don't you want them to call you the right thing? Did you not change it?

Ding ding, we have a winner! Believe it or not, I, a married woman living in the year 2014, made the available choice to not change my last name! I'm still in shock at how long it took her to process that, oh, the assumption that I would change my name was incorrect (or she was also playing dumb and baiting me - I'm not sure if that's better or worse than her really being unable to fathom not changing one's name!)

If I had ever heard of a man being asked this question, I wouldn't care. Of course people do have the choice to easily change their last name when they get married, and it's reasonable for people to confirm with them whether or not they did. But men aren't asked this! Regardless of the legal options available, it's only women who are presumed to have likely made that choice.

I'm not saying it's the "anti-feminist" choice to take your husband's last name - I totally understand the practical and emotional reasons that it's appealing. But it is definitely anti-feminist to only confirm name changes with women, and to approach the confirmation with the assumption that she changed it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wedding Week

I tried to keep my wedding plans - the actual event, and the planning and lead-up to it - as laid back as possible. I was adamant that there was no need to take any time off work beforehand; I wouldn't take vacation days to prepare for hosting a mere dinner party or game night, would I? That was my bar for many wedding-related things, to make sure things didn't spiral out of control into bridezilladom - how does this compare to how I host a typical event? A wedding is on a much larger scale, of course, even for a small-ish wedding like ours with 90 attendees, which requires some adjustments, but overall, we wanted it to just be an extra-special game night like we always have - in other words, to be consistent with us

Now that the event is over, I still maintain that that was a reasonable sentiment (especially as I already have Fridays off from work during the summer, so I had two full days to prepare for the Sunday afternoon wedding) - however, the things I packed into the preceding week made it feel pretty hectic!

The Wednesday before was my first Toastmasters speech. This required some preparation and practice the preceding weekend, as well as meeting up with a friend Monday evening to practice. Wednesday night was dinner with Abe's family, including his uncle who was visiting for the wedding.

Thursday afternoon I had a massage (ok, a pretty typical pre-wedding event), followed that evening by something Abe and I have been talking about doing for months, maybe almost a year - a wine painting class! This is one of those studios where they instruct the class, step-by-step, on a particular painting, while you drink wine or beer. (Note: I somehow got the impression - although now I don't see this actually indicated on the website - that at least one beverage was included in the price of the class; it's not. The drinks are an additional charge. About the same price as you'd pay at a bar, but made the class fee feel like a bit less of a value. The class fee does include all the painting supplies, just not drinks.)


I really don't consider myself talented in this artistic genre, but they make it quite easy to follow along and create a painting that does indeed resemble the image it's based on. For "Broadway Stroll", we first made light outlines, where the black lines end up, then painted each section a solid color. Details were then added in layers, including the detail that I found most ingenious - each time we used a different color, as you reached the end of the paint on your brush, you swiped it lightly across the sidewalk to get the reflections! Seems totally obvious, but nothing I would have thought of and that's why I'm not a painter!

Friday was my chance to fit in most of my usual weekend training - two Hood to Coast runs, a medium-distance bike ride, and a swim.

Saturday included another standard pre-wedding activity - manicures and pedicures with my mom and sister. This actually the first time I've ever done either at a salon! And, pathetic though it might be, crosses something off my 30 Before 30 list! Purple on my toes to match my wedding dress, and a neutral shellac polish on my fingernails. 

I am certainly impressed with how well the shellac stands up! Two weeks later, it was still not chipped, even after clipping my nails. Not so impressed once I did some research and realized I had to basically soak my fingers in pure acetone to get it off. Fortunately, by this past weekend it had weakened up enough to peel it off, leaving only minor scratch marks on my nails (covered up in the meantime with a light glittery polish, since I'm not a fan of bright colors on my fingers, just on my toes).

My family also helped with some last minute prep on Saturday, such as cutting and ironing table runners. We had a "non-rehearsal dinner" with our immediate families, but no rehearsal as the wedding party was just us and our officiant.

Although I had been planning on doing a 5k together the morning of our wedding, I didn't feel ready to PR, nor had I gotten a chance to put together "bride" and "groom" t-shirts or anything in time, so we decided it wasn't really worth paying money just to workout. Instead, we did our currently-typical Sunday morning long bike ride, followed by a quick run for a brick workout. The  couple that trains for triathlons together, stays together, right?

Our wedding was on a Sunday afternoon - here's a peek at our photos! I'm totally impressed at how a professional photographer can make even candids look so pretty. :) We worked with Stephanie Kaloi (found via Offbeat Bride), who I would totally recommend! Affordable, great balance of friendly and professional, and timely in providing deliverables.

Stephanie Kaloi
Photo by Stephanie Kaloi