Sunday, May 29, 2011

Quest to Hit the Mats

Cabot Trail weekend is always fun. Since the timing mats need to be moved from one leg to the next, you have approximately 6:00 per kilometer to get an official time before the truck leaves, at which point you get a "DNF" time, which is counted as the last person's time + 5 minutes. This would be my 5th time running, and I wanted to hit the mats for the first time. 

I've been training since January for this race. I've gotten to be a lot stronger since I did CTRR 2 years ago. I co-captained my team again this year, and wanted to get my leg done early so I could enjoy the rest of the weekend with my team. I did. GREAT weekend. So proud of my team. The old faithfuls were great to catch up with, and the new runners to the team became new friends. 

This year, I chose Leg 1 - 3.5/5 difficulty, 17km. Goal time was 1:42, whisper goal was 1:40 (which is when the next leg started). My splits tell the story.... 

1- 5:20 - nice downhill on the start, oh sh!t, I hope that doesn't come back to bite me. 
2- 5:36 - comfortable pace, keeping up with a few people in the group.
3- 5:55 - slow down a bit, that's more like it.
4- 6:03 
5- 5:32 
6- 6:16
7- 6:03 - gel/walk break
8- 7:10 - What the what???? This hill does NOT end. Pain starts in my hip, glute, and hangs the rest of the race
9- 5:41 - that's better
10- 5:43
11- 5:59
12- 6:50 - hmmm, getting tired. Walked a bit extra, tried to stretch out the pain in my glute
13- 5:54 - gel break
14- 6:10
15- 6:50 - mentally broken, walk break, not going to hit the mats, upset, walk to catch my breath
16- 6:23 - defeated and crushed that I wasn't going to make it, but going to try
17- 5:27 - tough km, I was back, and not giving up - too bad this didn't happen a little earlier.... 

Totals 1:43:17 for 17.08k, 6:03 pace. Official time 1:43:29, pace 6:06. 

Yes, OFFICIAL TIME! The mats were pulled up, but the truck was still there. I got the last official time on the leg. The rest got my time +5! The timing guy, as I raced in the finish area put his hand on my shoulder, and said "Don't worry, I got you." I missed my goal time, but, I improved a lot. 

So, I am half happy. I got an official time, but I still didn't cross the mats. Overall, I'm pleased as this was a bit tougher of a leg. The hills, other than that one LONG one, didn't bother me. The training paid off. I'll keep working on mental toughness, and I WILL get the mats one of these times.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal

... by Conor Grennan...

This was a lovely book. It is a true story that reads just like a fictional novel. A lot of times, I find non-fiction a little boring, but not this book. The story starts off with Conor's year long trip around the world. To start off his trip, he decides to volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal, mainly to be able to say he did it. He wasn't a huge fan of children, or really moved to volunteer at the orphanage, but thought it was the thing to do.

He gets to the Little Princes (this is the name of the orphanage) and the kids, mainly boys, tackle him - literally. Within the first moments of being at Little Princes, he feels at home and starts to really fall in love with the kids and the life with the kids. He works closely with another volunteer, Farid.

Nepal is in political turmoil, and Conor starts to discover that these orphans may not actually be orphans.

Conor leaves after his three months are over, and he continues on with his travels. He has a great time on vacation, and returns to the US after the year is up. But he can't stop thinking of the Little Princes. He goes back over to Nepal to further his work with the lost children.

This was a lovely story and I really enjoyed reading about the children Conor met, and his struggles to find their families, and his realizations that life in Nepal is so different from what he was used to. I haven't checked yet to see if there is a follow-up to this book, but I would really love to read more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Running on the rock

Last week's runs were ok. I took an extra rest day on Tuesday as I was really tired and irritable, and it was pouring. I've been tired for a while, so when I got home from work, had a snack, and immediately fell asleep on the couch, I figured I needed the rest.

I finished the week with all intentions of running 20k in the morning on Sunday, but then on Friday I found out I was heading to Newfoundland on Sunday morning. So, no morning run. That's a bit bad since I have a early leg of the Cabot Trail Relay. So now I'll have to make sure I make a real effort to run first thing in the morning to get used to it again.

The stats:
Wednesday - 4 hill repeats, total distance 7.3k, 6:08 average pace
Thursday - 9k with 8k at tempo, avg pace of 5:56
Friday - 4.3k easy, (though it was not easy, tired legs after the night before) 6:50 average pace
Sunday - 20k, including a walk up Signal Hill in St. John's, average pace 7:09

The legs are definitely tired, and the paces are showing it. Should be an interesting week this week. Next week will be a bit of a taper/rest week.

Friday, May 13, 2011

California Wine Fair

I scored some cheap tickets to the California Wine Fair last night for myself and two friends. Well, another friend scored them for us, then couldn't go, and I'm sad she didn't get to come with us. But, cheap tickets were still scored, and three of us got to drink a lot of yummy wine for only $25. 

I'd never been to a wine fair before, so it was pretty overwhelming. So many wines, and no idea where to start! For the first hour or so, my friends and I just wandered from table to table. We had a few companies that we knew of, and made sure to hit them. Then after an hour, I sent a message to my friend who knows her wines, and she looked up who was there and told us which ones not to miss. She was such a help! The booths didn't list the price of the wines, so it was hard to tell which ones were the "good" ones without a little help from my friend. 

So this is what I tried, and in parenthesis are any notes I made while trying (very short notes!): 

  • Anders-Lane Artisan
    • Estrada Creek, Syrah, 2007, California
    • Estrada Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, California (ok)
  • Bonterra
    • Syrah, 2008, Mendocino (ok)
  • Cline Cellars
    • Pinot Noir not listed in the booklet (yum!)
    • Oakley, Red Blend, 2009, California (good for summer sipping)
  • Firestone Discoveries
    • Merlot, 2007, California (good for a merlot)
    • Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, California (yum!)
  • Hess Collection Winery
    • Allomi Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, 2008, Napa Valley
    • Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, Mendocino-Lake-Napa
  • Ironstone Vineyards
    • Old Vine Zinfandel, 2009, Lodi (good)
  • J. Lohr Winery
    • Falcon's Perch, Pinot Noir, 2009, Monterey
    • Vineyard Series, Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, Paso Robles (yum!)
    • Petit Syrah not listed in the booklet
  • Kenwood Vineyards
    • Zinfandel, 2007, Sonoma County (yum)
  • Michael David Winery
    • Petit Syrah not listed in the booklet
    • 7 Deadly Zins, Zinfandel, 2008, Lodi (already knew I liked this one a lot!)
    • Earthquake, Zinfandel, 2008, Lodi (thick/full, yum!)
  • Rutherford Wine Co.
    • Rutherford Ranch, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, Napa Valley
  • Tamas Estates
    • Zinfandel, 2008, Central Coast
  • Trinchero Family Vineyards
    • Napa Cellars, Zinfandel, 2008, Napa (ok)
    • The Show, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, California (light, smooth, good)
Wow. Now that I write them all down, I see  that I tasted a LOT of wines last night in a two hour period. Mind you, they poured just a tiny bit, maybe two mouthfuls, but I'd only sip at it, then dump it out. How many glasses of wine does 21 sips work out to being anyway? Haha. 

I discovered that of California wines, I like the zins and the cabernets. The syrahs, pinot noirs, and merlots didn't really do much for me, and I really stayed away from them anyway. I was really surprised with how much I liked the Firestone wines because all I could picture was Andrew Firestone from The Bachelor, and really didn't expect to like the wine! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Two weeks until Cabot Trail, then what?

Then end is in sight! Week 14 went a lot better than 13. The first few runs started out pretty tough, but by the end of the week, I felt like I was back on track to where I was before vacation.

Tuesday - 6k tempo, average pace 5:46
Wednesday - 6k run with 3 hill repeats, average pace 6:10
Thursday - 8k easy with my clinic, average pace 6:23 (This was the first run that felt "easy")
Sunday - 18k - first 11k run with a friend, last 7k on my own, average pace 6:46

I can see the race on the horizon now. I just need to stick with the program for another few weeks. I skipped a run last night. I was too tired, and frankly, I didn't want to go out in the rain.

I'm looking forward to this training cycle being over. As much as I've enjoyed the running, I am going to enjoy not having to run long every weekend, and getting back to the gym for spinning, strength work, yoga, and whatever else.

However, I still have that pesky 27/57/125 goal that I've done nothing about. I'm trying to figure out which races to run when. I don't want to waste my half training without running a half, and am pondering running the half at Johnny Miles to get that 2:05 half ticked off the list. But, I'm already registered for a half in the fall, so I could just do the half then. When will I do the 5k (27 min) and 10k (57 min) races? Maybe Lunenburg for the 5k, and Navy 10k in August?

Who knows.... I'll figure that out in June.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Forgotten Garden

... by Kate Morton.

I have a bad habit of picking a book by the cover. I was looking for something to get for my trip to Hawaii, and the cover of this one looked interesting as I was browsing at Coles one day at lunch. It was just a pretty, country scene with a brick house and a fence, and lots of greenery. Then I read the back, and thought "I should remember this one to buy later."

The story has a few main characters at the start, and it took me a while to figure out who was who. Each chapter has the year it is being told in, but I didn't look at that from the start. The main characters are Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra. Eliza's story is the one furthest in the past. She is a child, living with her twin brother, working for a living after their parents have gone (died, I think, though I now forget). Eliza's story is one of sadness, but yet with a spirit so strong that you can't help but smile when her character is telling her stories.

Nell's story starts as a four year old who arrives on a ship to Australia alone, and doesn't know who she is or where her family is. She is adopted by a family who finds her, and actually grows up repressing her first four years. When she is an adult, her parents tell her that they are not her biological parents, and she feels misplaced and goes off on her own, away from the family she's known since she was four.

Cassandra is Nell's adult granddaughter. After Nell passes away, Cassandra needs to figure out the secrets that her grandmother had kept inside as long as Cassandra had known her. This story was really quite lovely. Three different women, all searching for the place where they belong. All in different generations. All searching for the same things, but searching alone.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I've been slack on my resolution

Not a single post on Spanish wines in April. I apologize. I didn't even write down which ones I tried after the first post in March. I was away for two weeks, in Hawaii, and while we did get one Spanish wine, we got into a Californian zone for a bit there.

All I can really say about Spanish wines is that I tried the tempranillos, and I liked them.

I'm onto Italy right now, and have already recycled two of the bottles without writing down what they were. I'm not loving Italy. I suspected I wouldn't as I have heard it is similar in France as to being a good wine to go along with food. I like my wine to be a good drinking wine without food. I don't really drink wine with food. I like a glass, on its own, while I relax at night.

The first Italian I had was a chianti. While it was definitely drinkable and nice enough, it just wasn't my taste. The second was a valpolicelli. I knew I'd like it. And it was fine.

I'm not even halfway through my resolution year, and I'm getting tired of it. I have learned a lot already, though, and will continue to truck on through the year.

Lured in by kids' books

I got the audiobook of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer from the digital library last week. The book was only 4 hours start to finish. It was amusing.

If you've read the Twilight books, you'll remember Bree from the fight scene where the Cullens have a newborn surrender to them. Bree is that newborn. The book starts when she is about 3 months old (as a vampire) and is just a nice little story about a vampire that you can't help but like. You already know how it is going to end.

There's not really a lot to say about it. If you like Twilight, consider reading it. If you don't, don't bother as you won't like this either.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Less than 4 weeks to go, starting to freak out

I did a 16.3k walk/run this past Sunday. It was bad. It was that bad run that you have that makes you question what you're doing. I just got the email from my half clinic leader, and next week is the start of the taper. My confidence is gone. While I know somewhere in my head that I didn't lose all my fitness by skipping last week's runs, I'm not confident in the ability to keep up this week. My clinic is ahead of me. But, they are running a half marathon on the 22nd. I'm running a 17k race on the 28th. So, I have time. 

This week, I'll run my 6k tempo tonight. I have my stuff to run home from work, but may choose to go home first and run it on a relatively flat road instead of the hilly run home, and without a backpack, to get the confidence back up. Tomorrow I have 3*1 mile repeats. My clinic is doing 1km repeats instead, so I think I'll join them for the motivation. Then it's a 8k "easy" run Thursday night, which is always run a bit too fast with my clinic. I'm just going to pray I can keep up with them. Sunday, I won't run the 20km with them. I'll run with my friend who is visiting from Toronto (yay!) for 10-12k and hopefully tack on a few more km after on my own. I should be back on track by the end of this week, and then I can do that 20km on my own the following weekend, just to feel better in my mind. 

Breathe.... A week off, and a week of shortened runs on vacation doesn't ruin the efforts of January-mid April. I want to hit the mats on my race so badly. I can do it. I can do it. I WILL do it.