Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ten Topic Tuesday

1. Knee update:
I wore different shoes to work last night and put my 3/4 length powerstep insoles into them and my knee didn't end up bothering me at all walking on it at work.  I also KT-taped it beforehand, but I'm crediting the shoes.  Or, more likely, the simple fact that my patients were relatively easy last night.

2. Gym Update: 
After I wrote my blog post yesterday (which I wrote while lying in bed), I kicked myself in the ass a few a times and then got up and went to the NCRB to buy a membership.  I got the 100 days for $100 special, which includes towel service and a locker each day, so not too bad.  The only bad part is that there is no free, close parking before 5 or 6pm.  I went there for the first time this morning after work and parked a little ways away, on the street in front of the BP station, and walked there.  I'm not paying $1.25 to park when the membership is $1 a day, that more than doubles my cost!

As it turns out, the pool is pretty nice and not too crowded.  It's brighter than the CCRB, and had a big digital timer from 00:00 to 59:59 that resets on each hour.  I liked it.  I also liked that they had showers with stalls and curtains.   I'm pretty sure the last time I was at the NCRB it was all just an open naked shower area, with no dividers or curtains or anything.

3. Random Exciting News

I participate in research studies frequently, since I live so close to campus, and they pay you $$$.   Some of them are fun anyway, and I like being exposed to the different fields and research areas.  (I don't do any that involve taking medications.)  Anyway, one of them that I'm doing now is for transportation/driving research.  They rigged up my car with tracking data and it collects information when I go by any of the sensors at several intersections in the area.  I get $200 for participating, plus I got some discount coupons for oil changes and car washes and stuff.  That's not the exciting part though.  Based on the data they got from my vehicle (basically the fact that I drive by the sensors more than most people, which is mostly because I live right by the research facility), they selected me as one of the participants to get a new vehicle to drive for 5 months.  (I don't get to keep it!)  It is equipped with more advanced equipment, and records video of me driving (weird!).  BUT, I get to drive a brand new Volkswagen GTI (I chose that model) instead of putting miles on my own car for 5 months, AND I get an ADDITIONAL $200 at the end.  So $400 total.  Win!  I'm even allowed to drive it out of town on roadtrips and stuff, as long as I stay in the continental US.  (Um, 13 x 13.1 in '13 involves a lot of driving, win again!....assuming I'm able to run again soon....)

4. Swimming Update

Like I mentioned already, I did go the NCRB this morning after work, to swim.  I had several issues of course, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.  Three things are really driving me crazy though.  A) I always rip my hair out putting on and taking off the swim cap.  Ouch!  B) GOGGLES.  Double ouch.  They fog up and hurt my eyes/head so bad.  I had the headstrap pretty loose, but just the suction on my eyes or something is horrible.  I had a headache the rest of the day from them, and I didn't even wear them that much (I kept taking them off).  C) The bathroom issue still.  I ended up having to get out of the pool today to pee, because I didn't want to cut it so close like I did last time.  At least I didn't have to pee through the suit this time.  Apparently I'm a moron though; there's a kind of obvious solution to the "getting out of the suit to pee" problem, that a reader/swimmer was kind of enough to email me.  EmDub @ http://fasterinwater.blogspot.com/ pointed out that you can just pull the bathing suit to the side at the bottom, rather than taking the whole thing off !!  That's what all the *real* swimmers do :).  Thanks EmDub...I'm definitely doing that from now on.

As for the swimming itself, it went okay.  I had watched some YouTube tutorials on doing a flip-turn and how to rotary breathe properly, so I figured I'd try some of that today.  I started out with the proper breathing but didn't even make it half the length of the pool before I decided it wasn't worth it and quit. After 20-30 minutes of AquaJogging, I tried it again, and it went much better.  I think I figured out some of my problems.

At first, I was noticing that even when I was putting my face underwater, I wasn't keeping my neck neutral, I was kind of "facing up" looking a little bit forward rather than completely straight down below me.  It's hard on your neck.  It took some effort, but I eventually got better at keeping my neck neutral.  I did some breaststroke too, that was even harder to keep my neck neutral when I was underwater.  Maybe you're not supposed to?  I didn't watch YouTube videos on the breaststroke.  I'll get to that eventually.  Anyway, once I got the hang of basically doing a moving dead man's float with the freestyle, and turning my head as part of my whole body to breathe, rather than just lifting and turning my head to do it, it got easier.  While swimming slow, it was much more comfortable than my normal way.  In fact, it's basically impossible to swim slow using my "normal" head up stroke.  My legs sink and it just doesn't work without the forward momentum.  Very awkward.  As for swimming "fast" with rotary breathing, I'm not there yet.  I need to breathe more frequently than every three strokes when my heart rate is up, so I still keep my head out so I can breathe as much as I want when I'm swimming fast.  It's like I have to choose between decent swimming form, and getting a decent workout.

So what I ended up doing was swimming fast one length of the pool (I say fast, but it's probably still slow.  Since there was a timer I could see, I timed it and got 21-22 seconds pretty consistently for the 25 yards.  That's from a standstill at the shallow end though, I can't dive in like they do in the Olympics because it's not allowed.   Otherwise I'm sure I could beat Michael Phelps.)

The other thing that I figured out is that I was blowing out my air too hard/fast when my face was down.  If I do it more slowly, I don't reach complete exhale as quickly, and that's when I'm triggered to take a breath in, even if it's not "time" yet.  Controlling the exhale helped a lot with the sense of drowning, at least going slowly.  It's now a timing issue, I have to breathe out fast enough that I'm ready to inhale every third stroke without having to exhale really quickly at the end, but not so fast that I get there early and have to wait to breathe in.  I'll work on it.  I just can't work on it the whole time, or else I feel like I'm not getting a workout because I'm going so slowly that my heart rate isn't getting up at all!

5. AquaJogging
The NCRB actually had an AquaJogger I could check out to use!  It was giant and hideous yellow, just like this one.

I did it for about 20 minutes after my initial swimming warmup, just doing half laps jogging out in the deep end. (Your feet aren't supposed to touch the bottom).  It's much easier to do that aqua jogging without the floatie thing, since that's basically treading water with high knees, and is exhausting!  On the other hand, I felt I was able to more closely simulate running form.

It's way less fun than real running, or swimming for that matter, but I like that it is more specific to running and might allow me to not lose my running fitness.  I wish I had a triathlon-capable Garmin, so I could wear my watch and heart rate monitor in the pool.  Then I could completely simulate my running workouts and do an interval workout or a long run in the pool.  I suppose a cheap water proof sport watch would do the trick.  I miss all my data though :(

7.  New Swimsuit! 
After I finished at the gym, I decided to go shopping for a new suit, since I have been sleeping 1pm-9pm this week and it was still only 9am.  (I was in the pool about 70 minutes this time!) I went to Dunham's because they're cheaper.  I tried on a bunch that were reasonably priced but I hated all of them.  The giant back fat cutout in most of the suits is the problem.  It didn't help that all the ones I tried on were too small.  I grabbed size 12s and size 38s (different sizing schemes) since I generally wear size 12 jeans and the suit that I've been wearing is a 38, but they were all really tight.  Bummer.  I went back and looked at the 14s and 40's but there weren't any that had a more enclosed back that were decently priced, so I left.  I went to Dick's Sporting Goods after that.  They're selection in the store was way less than I expected.  It was much less than Dunham's, and way less than what they had available online.  Plus the suits were more expensive.  I was looking at about $50 minimum, vs the $30 I would have spend at Dunham's.  I thought I was going to end up with nothing at all, but then a suit on the girls rack caught my eye.  It looked about the same size as the suits I was trying on, but it was girls' sizes instead of women's.  It was a girl's size 20.  I thought they only went up to like 16, but I'm glad this one went up to 20!

I tried it on and it seemed to fit just the same as the 40/14's I tried in women's, AND it was only $29.99,   AND it was cute, AND it didn't have a giant back fat hole in the lower back.  The leg cuts were perfect too.  Not super high cut like the one I have, but not super conservative like some of the suits I tried on, which were so conservatively cut that they were horribly unflattering.  The one I got is like the one on the right (the front view photo) but the "meat" of the suit is navy instead of light blue.  The green accent is about the same color on mine.  

I was pretty happy about my purchase, until I got home and read reviews.  According to the reviewer's on the Dick's website, the suit is going to thin out and fall apart in a hot minute.  Oh well.  Next time I'll buy one online, now that I have a better feel for the cuts, styles, and size that I like.  

6. Genius Moves
True story, my mom calls me "Grace" because I'm such klutz.  Here's what happened when I got home from the gym and shopping and was rushing around so I could write a blog post before I went to sleep this morning.  I thought a cup of decaf sounded delicious, but I only got one swallow:

The other super smart thing I did today was at the gym.  I got back to my locker from swimming and was freaking out because I had no idea where I put the key.  I was sure I had lost it in the pool or flushed it down the toilet, or locked it in the locker somehow or something.  Turns out it was right there, in the lock.  Kind of defeats the purpose of a locker, doesn't it? 

8.  Food Heaven
This is kind of random, but I am extra in love with Subway recently.  I always get the same thing.  Egg white on flatbread, with provolone cheese, toasted, then adding tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, black olives, jalapenos, and salt and pepper.  And cookies.  I keep telling myself I'm only going to get one cookie, but usually I get a double chocolate and a chocolate chip one.  Subway cookies are the best thing in the world.  The whole meal (a 6" sub and two cookies) is only 800 calories, so it's not even that bad.  I've been loving it so much that I may start doing it for breakfast and dinner!  I figure if I do it for two meals I'll get one cookie and each meal instead, so that will drop it to about 600 calories per meal, which is perfect.  The flatbread is pretty awesome too.  I'm definitely getting that as soon as I finish this blog post.

9.  Race Voucher
Holy crap!  For volunteering at Shamrocks & Shenanigans, I got a $30 race voucher to put toward a future Running Fit race!  They mentioned it in the email, but I honestly thought it was typo.  I figured it was probably more like $3 or $10.  Assuming I'm back to running in time, I'll use it for the Martian Half or 10K in April.  I need to do more volunteering at races! 

10.  What now??
What I'm really missing from not running is the lack of structure, and the lack of a goal.  I like having a target race and time to aim for, and a specific training plan to get me there.  I guess my races and time goals haven't changed, so that's what's motivating me to keep up my fitness while I'm not running, but I am definitely missing the structure.  I hate waking up each day and trying to decide on the fly what I'm going to do workout-wise today.  I need to take some time to plan it all out for the rest of the week.  (Hopefully I'll be back on the horse after that!)  Now that I have swimming though, and I already found spinning recently, I think I'll give the "Run Less, Run Faster" / FIRST training plan another go, when I get back to running.  It is 3 quality runs each week (intervals, tempo, long) at prescribed paces which are faster than what would normally be recommended for a given fitness level, plus two aerobic cross training workouts (that's where spinning and swimming come in).  Of course I'll still have to squeeze in strength workouts.  And paying for a gym membership to swim AND for spinning classes sounds a little dumb, so we'll see.  I've used the FIRST plan before, but I really didn't stick with the aerobic cross training at all.  Still, that plan, even without the cross-training got me my "current" half PR of 2:02:45 in October 2011.  Worth trying again "correctly", for sure.  Plus, they market it toward injury-prone runners and/or older, which I'm beginning to think I might be.  (Injury-prone more than old, I hope, but I'm getting there).

This was a long post.  Don't worry, Ten Topic Tuesday won't be a recurring thing.  I just had a lot to write today.


  1. Are you gonna be at Shamrock N Roll or are you skipping it cause of knee? I'm got assigned to do 55 min pace as a pacer.

    No more coffee for you, or you only get to drink it at the table - that's what happens to the kids when they keep spilling stuff. :P

  2. Been to the CCRB many times. Lived right nearby. It's a good place. And I have had experiments done on me for 60 bucks or something on campus as well. One lasted all day and I was injected with things and poked and prodded a bit.

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