Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Five: Race Day Surprises

Linking up today with Mar on the Run, et. al. for Friday Five. Today's theme is Race Day Surprises.

Like most people, I'm always hoping to NOT be surprised on race day! You've dedicated a lot of time to training, set a goal, and hope that it works out according to plan. However, occasionally you'll get thrown a curveball no matter what. 


1. Forgetting something. At the first First Run I did, I brought my garmin with me - but left it in my car. I was parked at one of the garages downtown, it was probably technically possible to go back and get it in the time left when I realized it, but just barely and it would worn me out before the race even started. I had a smartphone, but it wasn't cooperating so I couldn't get an app to work on it, and instead had to run the race blind - resulting in a new PR!

2. A short course. We know the course will never equal exactly the advertised distance; even on a certified course it's rare to run the tangents, you'll be going around people, etc. However, that should, naturally, record longer than intended. Still counts as a time for the official distance. But what about when it records shorter? A couple years ago I did a 5k run by NW Veg, a great organization. It was, granted, just a "fun run" to support the cause, but even a run for fun should live up to its promises. Albeit a hilly course so I knew it wouldn't be a PR regardless, but it measured 2.83 per my garmin! Others also measured short, so it wasn't just a technical malfunction on my end. A quarter mile is way too short.

3. Trains. Races that are in downtown Portland are typically good courses - reasonably flat and views of the river. However, since it's downtown, there are train tracks running through it. Both public transportation and commercial. It's not unheard of to have a train running through the course; that same First Run, my friend Karey got stuck behind a train for 5 minutes! (Fortunately, they changed the course for subsequent years to avoid that.) I've also had near misses - at the Shamrock 5k this year, after passing through the course of an earlier section of the event while riding in on the MAX, I saw a MAX train crossing about a block up - I just used the excuse to slow down for just a quick bit so I'd reach the cross street after it was through. 

4. Unlikely weather. We know what winter is like on the wets side of the mountains in OR and WA - 30s - 40s and rainy. Pretty much every Thanksgiving I can remember is like that - with the exception of last year when I did the Seattle half in what turned out to be a ridiculous cold spell with starting temps in the low 20s. I know plenty of places have that weather all winter, but we don't have it here. We don't know how to deal with it! I had multiple layers of clothing, plus throwaway scarf and hat that I didn't end up throwing away until very near the end. I don't think it was even above freezing by the time I finished - though the pleasant compensation to the cold was a very clear, beautiful day with wonderful views across the water.

5. Likely weather. Even worse than getting unexpected weather is getting the stereotypical weather that couldn't possibly actually be exactly what you get. What is December like in Portland? 30s, windy, and rainy. And that's precisely what it was like on the last Holiday Half that I've run. It was particularly brutal while running along the top of the bluff by UP, with nothing to block the wind. Since then I've vowed to only do the 5k with that race - all the amenities of the larger event without the crowd or prolonged misery. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wedding Crap: First Dance

(See introduction to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)

Disclaimers:

1. This is merely a hobby, so I'm not going to great lengths of research to find the most accurate information possible about the history of these traditions. I am trying to verify information to some degree to avoid continuing the spread of non-facts, but mostly this is a summary of the general consensus I've heard through out my life. Ultimately, I think how we treat these traditions has just as much to do with what we believe to be the origin of them, as the actual origin.

2. I am not trying to demean anyone who has chosen to partake in any of the traditions discussed. My goal is to spark discussion about what the history of these things mean to us today, how changing our language and treatment of traditions can affect our culture now, and, ideally, encourage anyone who wants to follow wedding traditions to do so as a conscious choice, not merely as a default that honors our patriarchal past.



What is the tradition?

At the reception, to kick off the dancing portion (because of course all wedding receptions have dancing!), the couple has a "first dance", with the guests looking on before joining into dance themselves. Couples often take dancing lessons specifically for this purposes, so as to do a waltz or other formal dance style, and some may choreograph the dance (in a ballroom or more contemporary, fun style).

What is the origin of the tradition?

At formal balls, the guests of honor, or those with highest social standing, led off the first dance. Not the entire first song, but to "open" the dance floor, so to speak.

Why do people still follow it?

I think it's 50% the wedding classic "but it what's we're supposed to dooooo", and 50% a desire to be in the spotlight. 

Why is that crap? 

Do you routinely host balls in your home? When you host these balls, on such a frequent basis, are you a good host and lead off the waltz while the orchestra plays?

No? 

Like the white dress, and announcing people, and other such "formalities", these are not etiquette in the sense of showing respect or providing comfort to anyone. This is merely etiquette that represents convention within the upper class of a long ago time period. 

Leading off a first dance was part of the context, for that time, when everyone danced in a formal way. We're don't have such formal dance occasions now, so why retain this one piece of it? In the absence of the broader context, it's rather meaningless.

What am I doing with this tradition?

We didn't have dancing of any kind! We had a computer playing music throughout the reception, but just quietly in the background, not loud enough - and really not the proper type - to promote dancing. While I have nothing against dancing per se (in fact, I grew up on other kinds of dancing, tap and jazz), the couples type of dancing is simply not something Abe or I ever participate in. Thus, why make it part of a day that represents the start of our lives together?

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.

Monday, July 27, 2015

L Game Night



After A and C (and a break for tax season and other busyness), we skipped ahead to L (his real first initial) for Abe's birthday celebration and to continue our alliterative game night entertaining.

FYI, lychees are slimy and gross. 

Games
Life
Logic (a math-based card game)

We have a copy of Life from the 1960s, from Abe's grandparents. Obviously the basic structure/rules are the same, but there are some differences, including betting on the spins, that I don't think are in the current version. And everyone had to pay $2,000 for saddle horses. It was lots of fun!

Drinks
Limoncello
Lemon-lime sparkling water
Limade
Long hammer IPA
Lunazul tequila (from J & L) 
Latte (chai)
Linden tea

Food
Lasagna (Amy's)
Lemongrass pesto Linguine
Lentil stew with Lima beans (a staple in our dinner repertoire) 
Layered Lettuce salad with Lychee and Lime juice dressing
Lychees
Late july crackers (from S)
Life cereal
Long loaf of bread with Levkar (from B & V)
Lime pie
Lollipops
Licorice

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hansons Marathon Method Week 8 & NROLFW Phase 3 Week 2 & Triathlon Training Week 1

We were in Vegas Tuesday evening through Friday evening, which made it somewhat difficult to fit in everything (between stuff to do in Vegas and the high temps - although it was rather unseasonably cool! I think the hottest day was only about 101.). But! I fit in all of the actual workouts for running (skipped easy miles), and all the non-running stuff (2x each - bike, swim, weights), even doing 4 things on Sunday to make that happen.

Workouts

Monday: Swim 1,200 yards, including 450 straight

Tuesday: Speedwork run 6.5 miles (12:30) + NROLFW phase 3 workout A  (This was all prior to our flight to Vegas.)

Plan: 1 warm-up, 6 x 0.5 @ 10:00 with 0.25 recoveries, 1 cool-down
Actual: My garmin froze as I was trying to upload this run, and though I eventually did a hard shutdown and got it to work again, it ate this data. I think I remember seeing an average pace at the end of around 12:30, and I'm pretty sure none of the intervals were drastically off the goal, but tended to be a smidge over rather than under.

Wednesday: Rest day, with lots of walking around Vegas

Thursday: Treadmill tempo run 5.0 miles (in the gym at our hotel)

Plan: 1 warm-up, 5 tempo @ 12:00, 1 cool-down
Actual
Warm-up 1: 13:34
3 tempo: 12:00
Cool-down 1: 14:12

Friday: Unplanned rest day - we had grand plans to get up around 6 am and run to the welcome to Vegas sign (less than 2.5 miles from where we were staying), but ended up sleeping in instead, and it was already in the 80s by the time we got up, so no.

Saturday: Easy run 7.0 miles (13:28 pace) + bike trainer 5.75 miles (15.6 mph, 57 rpm)

Plan: 6+ (6 on schedule, more to make up for missed easy miles earlier in week) @ 13:15 - 13:45
Actual: 13:44, 13:40, 13:42, 13:06, 13:26, 13:12, 13:14

Bike
3 min warm-up easy
5 x 1 min up a gear, pedaling hard, >20 mph
4 x 2 min recovery in between
3 min cool-down easy

Sunday: Bike 4.7 miles (10.0 mph) + swim 1,000 yards + long run 10.0 miles (13:30 pace) + NROLFW phase 3 workout B

Swim: 100, 200, 400, 200 with sprinting 25 out and easy 25 back, 100

Plan: 10+ @ 12:50 - 13;20 (10 on schedule as 4th day in a row, more to make up for no run on Friday adding to fatigue)
Actual
1 - 5: 13:14, 13:54, 13:11, 13:38, 13:30
6 - 10: 12:25, 12:36, 13:27, 13:47, 14:22

Though not 4 days straight of runs, I think the bike and swim prior to the run gave back at least some of the fatigue that was intended. Miles 6 and 7 that were so quick were downhill.

Total swimming: 2,200 yards
Total biking: 10.45 miles
Total running: 28.5 miles

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wedding Crap: The Honeymoon

(See introduction to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)

Disclaimers:

1. This is merely a hobby, so I'm not going to great lengths of research to find the most accurate information possible about the history of these traditions. I am trying to verify information to some degree to avoid continuing the spread of non-facts, but mostly this is a summary of the general consensus I've heard through out my life. Ultimately, I think how we treat these traditions has just as much to do with what we believe to be the origin of them, as the actual origin.

2. I am not trying to demean anyone who has chosen to partake in any of the traditions discussed. My goal is to spark discussion about what the history of these things mean to us today, how changing our language and treatment of traditions can affect our culture now, and, ideally, encourage anyone who wants to follow wedding traditions to do so as a conscious choice, not merely as a default that honors our patriarchal past.



What is the tradition?

Shortly after the wedding, the couple takes a trip, often to a particularly romantic or exotic location. The duration and extravagance of the trip of course varies with the couples' finances, but is often a bit fancier than they might do otherwise for a normal vacation.

What is the origin of the tradition?

 While the term "honeymoon" may have once simply referred to the glow of early marriage, and a time period for the couple to get to know each better, in the sense of a vacation it became common in Britain in the 1800s. It was not actually the couple spending time along together, though - the purpose was to visit relatives and friends who hadn't been able to attend the wedding. They were even sometimes accompanies by family on the trip.

Why do people still follow it?

Well, who doesn't need a vacation?! Getting away together, especially after all the stress and bustle of planning a wedding, is certainly appealing. Even if it's not a matter of "getting to know each other" in the same sense as in the past, as most couples have probably lived and traveled together already, it's still nice.

Why is that crap?

I actually think it's not! Not in the sense of taking time to relax and enjoy each other's company. I do feel there's some degree of entitlement - just like people want a big fancy wedding, far beyond the scope of how they typically host or attend parties, I think there's an idea that one deserves an extravagant honeymoon, which leads to honeymoon gift registries or otherwise expecting other people to foot the bill for your experience. If it goes that far, it's too far. But taking a nice vacation within your means seems totally reasonable to me.

What am I doing with this tradition?

We took an almost-two week trip, including a cruise in Alaska. In all it was a bit longer, and a bit more expensive than our typical trips, but not ridiculously so (and thus within our means).


How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Toastmasters: Disc Golf: It's In The Air

The next speech is focused on utilizing visual aids. I was previously scheduled to do this project about a month ago, and had to back out last minute due to a tight deadline at work. When I was re-scheduled, though, I realized that I had really set it up just as an excuse to use the props (items I made for my Back to the Future 30th birthday - I still need to do a post about that! I'm pretty impressed with myself with what I put together), rather than the props truly helping to illuminate the point of a speech with its own valid purpose. Instead of reworking the first version, I decided to start over with a speech about disc golf. 

I started (or rather tried - it was all tested and ready to go before the meeting started, then the computer logged out and I had difficulties) with 0:30 to 1:30 of this video, which gave a bit of background and history of the sport. I thought that provided a more comprehensive overview than I could write to give as part of the speech itself, making it a valuable visual aid. I also showed the discs I use, demonstrated some aspects of how to throw, and passed the discs around for the audience to handle.



(Note: speech title borrowed from this other video, also worth a watch - just under 5 minutes.)



In the past 40 years, the sport of disc golf has grown to 4,700 courses and an estimated 2 million regular players.There are probably even more who play occasion - like me - which makes sense given the extremely low barriers to entry and the variety of levels at which it can be played. I learned of it from my husband, who’s been playing since his freshman year of college. We even played it on our third date! (He really tried early on to get me involved in it. :)) 

If you haven’t heard of it before, let me explain a little about how it works, and what makes it a fun and accessible sport. To play, all you need is a disc and a course. It’s essentially the same as regular golf: from the tee box, you aim something towards the hole, or basket in this case, and try to get it in in the fewest number of strokes, or throws. You really only need one to get started - and that’s what’s recommended, as you learn the nuances of throwing.



This is the disc I’ve been throwing whenever I play, a fairway driver; like with “regular” or ball golf, there are different types of discs, like different types of clubs, for varying purposes. As a driver, it has more distance potential but is harder to control, than say, a putter, which will fly slower and shorter, but straighter. The distance you’re throwing for a hole is typically upwards of 200 feet, or occasionally 500 feet. If you’re Abe, you can throw that full distance in one shot, and it’s just a matter of aiming correctly, or getting it to roll or skip on the ground ideally as it approaches the basket. I, on the other hand, take a minimum of 2 or 3 shots to even get within putting range, trying to balance control and aiming the disc, versus putting enough power behind it. 

I’m still learning the nuances - shift your weight, pull across your body, follow through with your arm and body. My putter, and my mid-range disc are new to my arsenal, that Abe bought for me at a tournament he was at last weekend (and won the amateur division), deciding that he’s seen me develop some good skills with my fairway driver and that I should soon start branching out. 

As you go “down” in the category of disc, you can’t put as much power behind, but you gain control, so that helps you balance those and other variables. You can see that between these three discs, there are differences in flight characteristics: shape, size of the rim, and flexibility of the plastic. These factor contribute to how these fly as we’ve been discussing, control, flippy, turning, power. abe has 18 in his bag, and there are many more options even than that. 

But I’ve been playing with the one disc, which costs maybe $12. This putter was $20, but that’s because of the design, that’s on the more expensive. Most courses are in city or state parks, and are open to the public for free. Occasionally, there’s a parking fee in state parks, or a recommended donation to a club that’s maintaining a course in order to improve it, but those are only a $1 or $3, making it still a very cheap sport.

 It’s a really great way to get outside and be active, and often enjoy some gorgeous settings in these parks. Though the fairways are manicured, in a sense, they’re generally left with much more of the landscape than you typically think of with a ball golf course, so as we travel it’s been particularly interesting to see the environment of where we’re at - a mix of evergreen trees and lush flowers on the coast in Anchorage, or the desert brush in central Oregon of Bend. 

 Even at two entirely different levels, Abe and I can play together, competing only against par or our previous best, not necessarily against each other. I don’t think there are really that many sports that that’s truly possible. With that flexibility, along with how easy it is to find courses - over 100 just in Oregon! (world championships were held in Portland this year) , and participate at a low cost, I think disc golf is a really great family-friendly sport for anyone to try out.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hansons Marathon Method Week 7 & NROLFW Phase 3 Week 1

Workouts

Monday: Ballet class (75 min) + easy run 2.5 miles (13:47 pace)

Tuesday: Swim 1,000 yards

With 6 days of running, that obviously only leaves 1 rest day. Following the plan precisely, that should be Wednesday, but ballet class actually works legs (and feet) enough that it doesn't feel like one in regards to running and what I'm asking of my legs. So for the weeks when I have ballet class (this is the last week of the first 4-week summer session, then there's a week off, then another 4-week session), I'm going to have Tuesday as a rest day from running and anything else leg-intensive. Thus, swimming!

Wednesday: Ballet class (75 min) + speedwork run 6.15 miles (12:15 avg pace)

Plan: 1 warm-up, 8 7 x 600 m (0.38) @ 10:00, 0.25 recoveries, 1 cool-down
Actual
Warm-up 0.85: 13:38
7 x 0.38: 10:02, 9:57, 9:58, 9:59, 9:56, 9:57, 9:59
7 x 0.25: 14:16, 14:13, 14:22, 14:17, 14:29, 14:50, 14:25
Cool-down 0.90: 13:28

Thursday: Easy run 2.75 miles (13:51 pace) + bike trainer 2.5 miles (15.1 mph) + NROLFW phase 3 workout A

Phase 2 was supposed to be 4 weeks. I did 3 weeks' worth of workouts, scattered over several weeks, then decided to start over and do it in 4 weeks straight. That lasted about a week and a half, and I ended up doing 3 weeks' worth again over several weeks. That seems sufficient and I was getting boring, so I'm just going to move on to phase 3. 

FridayTempo run 5.65 miles (12:30 avg pace; 11:56 tempo pace)

Plan: 1 warm-up, 5 tempo @ 12:00, 1 cool-down
Actual
Warm-up 0.5: 14:46
4.5 tempo: 11:58, 11:54, 11:55, 11:52, 11:53
Cool-down 0.65: 14:53

Saturday: Run 1.15 (13:58 pace) - This was supposed to be 6. It was 97° at 7:45 pm. Enough said, I think.

Sunday: "Long" run attempts 7.5 miles + NROLFW phase 3 workout B

Plan: 10+ miles (10 on the schedule, plus it'd be good to go farther to make up for less the prior day.)
Actual
3.5 miles outside in the morning (14:38 pace) - only 75° when I started, but quickly heating up and very sunny.
2.0 miles on treadmill (13:36 pace) - took a short break and headed to the rec center, but I really have a hard time not being totally bored, and then it seemed (imagined?) my foot was hurting again (on the outside, where it was most recently but had seemed to gone away), so cut it way shorter than planned.
2.0 miles outside in the evening (13:53 pace) - back down to 77° and cooling. :) 

Total swimming: 1,000 yards
Total biking: 2.5 miles
Total running: 25.7 miles

Not an exceptionally good week. Yeah, all the commitment to the plan I was talking about being so important? Apparently I can only handle that for one week. 

Part of this week was difficult because my parents were in town Friday morning through Saturday afternoon (thus cutting slightly short the tempo on Friday, and not doing Saturday's until late in the day rather than before it got hot in the morning). But it's summer, there's tons of that kind of stuff that I simply have to learn (have the motivation?) to work around.

The heat (I thought we were done with our 90+ days for the month!!!) plus PMS was making me severely lacking in motivation and willpower. Sure, I could have done more on the treadmill, or gotten up earlier, etc. I hate to use PMS as an excuse - but I do have a week prior to my period of lower energy. Which is absolutely NOT to say that it makes me capable of less - but it raises the threshold for wanting to do stuff. It takes more energy and desire to overcome obstacles (like scheduling and the heat) to actually accomplish it. At 12 weeks out, it's harder to find that desire; if it were 6 weeks away I'd like to think I would have pushed through anyway.

On the plus side, I did fit in BOTH strength workouts! Plus a swim and short bike ride. I'm leaning slightly more towards signing up for the sprint triathlon at Best in the West since I'll be on site anyway for Abe's half ironman anyway. (I have til the end of the month to decide, realistically, before a price increase.) This upcoming week is 8 weeks out, so if I can two 2 each of swim and bike (including at least one outside bike ride), then I might as well.
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