August 17, 2012

Not a Bad Week

After a massive foot setback, I approached last week with hesitation and took it easy. After getting a fresh new pair of Brooks Ghosts and a couple easy test runs of five miles or so I was feeling more confident and ended up logging just over 28 pain-free miles. Whatever happened to my foot seems to have been a one-time thing, but I'll be paying close attention to every twinge from now on.

The past week was solid. It marked my return to the pool, really consistent running and some fun culinary adventures.

I have had the great fortune of a hand-me-down CSA allocation the past two weeks which means I'm eating more fruits and veggies than ever. A regular haul looks like this and you have to use it up pretty quickly since it's super fresh and at peak ripeness.

The corn is so amazing I just strip it from the cob raw and toss it with tomato, basil and olive oil. It's divine.

This week was short since I'm headed to Michigan for Steelhead 70.3 where I'll be racing on a relay team. I'm doing the swim (hence my two big trips to the pool) and run. I had several pounds of gorgeous tomatoes and only one day to enjoy them so I spent hours making tomato sauce to freeze for winter. I started by blanching and peeling.

Then an hour of simmering to perfection.

I'll be so happy to thaw this out and taste fresh summer tomatoes when they are long gone for the season.

In other culinary fun we took a pizza making class at Pizza a Casa in Manhattan. It was my first time and I loved it!

I've never eaten so much pizza in my life.

And we got to take tons home. Talk about a perfect night.

August 11, 2012

Near Swim Fail

Seems like every time I actually try to go to the pool, which isn't very often, something gets in the way and I end up not swimming. Usually it's just my laziness, but today I had hurdle after hurdle thrown my way, almost forcing me to bag yet another swim. I wouldn't particularly care, but next Sunday I'm doing the swim and run on a relay team for Ironman Steelhead 70.3 and I've only been to the pool about six times this year.

First challenge: I waited forever for a train that never came. After sweating half my body weight on the subway platform I gave up and left. The long wait meant I'd never make it to the pool in time to swim before the noodle lady class at 12:45. So I went home to relax in the air conditioning and snack on salami and cheddar. Perfect swim fuel, right?

Second challenge: I worried if I waited I'd lose the desire so I walked to the local Y and used a guest pass I'd horded from my former membership. While getting ready in the locker room, a little girl saw I was in my swimsuit and informed me the pool was closed. Apparently there was a strong gas smell on the pool deck so they evacuated. Lovely. I remembered exactly why I cancelled that membership and went back to Equinox.

Third challenge: The noodle lady class was in full swing, but I was already a mile from home and if I went back, the mission would be over. So I hopped on the train and headed uptown to a different pool and got myself into the water before I could drum up another excuse.

Given the last time I swam was on Cape Cod over the July 4th holiday, I felt pretty good and for once, wasn't bored. Since the Steelhead swim is 1.2 miles, I figured I'd just start with that distance. No point in building up since it's in seven days. I kept it simple and did 500x4 with a very short rest in between. I had burning arms at first and sloppy form at the end, but otherwise it was actually a little faster than my swimming was two months ago.

My swimming will always be mediocre, so it almost doesn't matter if I train or not. Since I don't have to get out of the water and bike 56 miles it won't matter if I'm beat up after the swim. I'll have three hours to rest and refuel for the run while my relay partner bikes. Best of all my parents will be there since Steelhead is near the town I grew up in. Can't beat that.

August 8, 2012

My F***ing Foot

For the past three years I've been plagued with foot issues, the worst of which was tearing my plantar fascia right before my first Ironman in 2009 (I did the race anyway). That foot has healed beautifully, but the opposite foot has become a chronic pain. My comeback in 2010 was pretty incredible and I thought I was on the right track, but then 2011 felt like a struggle to survive. Every run felt like it could easily be the last, and Ironman Wisconsin in September was the last. After several months off I was ready to go and things seemed fine... until last Friday.

My marathon training has been pretty spotty so I buckled down and stopped skipping workouts. I had a really solid week, logging 23 miles by Friday with no issues at all. But after Friday's long run, I spent hours on my feet packing and getting ready for a weekend trip, then ran for a train in flip flops carrying three big bags. When I stood up after the train ride I could barely walk. I always hobble a little after a long run, but this was ridiculous. I almost couldn't even handle a limp. It was only marginally better by Saturday and reduced to my usual stiffness by Sunday. Things were looking up.

Plantar fasciitis has been my standard ailment, but this pain was different. It was along the bottom of my foot, but more toward the outside and clustered toward the front. Wiggling my pinkie toe was excruciating. I did some self massage and manipulated my foot in an attempt to rule out a bone issue vs. soft tissue. My money is on soft tissue, particularly as I'm the queen of soft tissue injuries.

I bought new shoes and eased back in yesterday with an easy 4 miler, then followed it up with a 6 miler today. Both went well and I'm still on my feet. I'm using the foam roller liberally on my calves and hamstrings and bought a Trigger Point ball for some foot work.

One day I dream of stepping out of bed in the morning and actually being able to walk. I dream of running day after day with nothing more than sore muscles to complain about. Until then I plan to keep fighting. I have refused to let this chronic injury stop me so far, and I don't plan to any time soon.

August 2, 2012

My Weekend in France

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, to celebrate Mark's successful ascent of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps.

 It was a quick trip. I arrived via Paris and Geneva early Thursday afternoon and made the multi-leg journey home beginning Sunday morning, but even though brief, it was well worth the effort. Chamonix rests in a valley between the looming Mont Blanc and a smaller, yet incredibly beautiful mountain called the Brevent. So regardless of where you look, you're greeted with stunning views.

 The village was incredibly charming. It's a lively ski town in the winter, and filled to the brim with mountaineers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in the summer. I was one of the few people in town just to enjoy the food, wine and scenery, which is fine by me. Had Mark not just summited a massive mountain, I might have packed hiking gear to explore a bit. But we were in recovery mode, enjoying some really spectacular foods and wines of the Haute-Savoie and Rhone-Alps regions. And of course, we had a decent amount of Champagne. When in France!

 I did manage to fit one nice run in while there. I love running while traveling, it's the best way to explore. It was fairly hot, but we had an 11-course dinner booked and I needed to build up an appetite so I headed out with absolutely no idea where I was going and discovered a series of trails along the Arve river, a rough, silty, freezing cold glacial river that runs through town.

 I started on a path that took me away from the river and into the woods, at times on single track and at times on a gravel path. It was so beautiful with the mountains all around me. The altitude in town isn't severe at roughly 3,500 feet, but it was enough for this sea level New Yorker to feel a bit of sting in the lungs. I made my way back toward the river and chose another path that ran right alongside it. Apparently flooding is a risk!

The air blowing across the glacial water was like air conditioning. I couldn't have been in a more perfect place on a hot day.

The run was brief, but it helped prepare for the incredibly meal that followed. I think I could live on the bread, butter and cheese in France. And the wine, of course.

Saturday was rainy so we relaxed all day in our beautiful hotel. I read for hours while lounging in a robe, we sipped champagne on our terrace overlooking the mountains. It was beautiful to slow down and do nothing for a day. Especially in such a perfect place. I almost never do that.

Upon returning I had to stop procrastinating and start training for the NYC Marathon. It was tough to dive in with the jet lag, but I'm already enjoying it. After so much unstructured down time it's kind of refreshing to have a schedule. I guess taking a break was definitely the right thing to do.


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