Saturday, July 02, 2005

This boy's going to Mexico

Still haven't gotten around to blogging my Chicago trip, and it looks like I won't get to it for a while. I'm off to Cozumel for a week of scuba diving in, oh, about 4 hours. Should be a blast, and hopefully I'll have some decent underwater photos as well as stories to tell. Until then, Happy 4th O' July to all!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bikram Night

My friend Jen suggested I tag along to a bikram yoga class with her - this is the yoga where they heat the room to 105 degrees so you sweat through the whole class. She thought this might allow me to sweat out whatever toxins (lactic acid, etc) had built up in my muscles from the marathon. I said "Sure, what the hell, I've always wanted to try yoga but had never gotten off my ass to do it, so why not?" Plus, Jen mentioned the class demographic and opportunities to meet some cute women - being a single 30-something, and never one to pass up an opportunity like that, I was in.

I thought I had some idea what I was in for - I was unprepared.

The heat felt good. Really good. The sweat is nearly instantaneous, it bursts forth from the skin and once it starts it just flows. It's most excellent. And you actually get used to sweating profusely very quickly. Just drink a lot.

I wasn't able to do all the poses, but I did alright with at least some of them. One particular pose where you're supposed to twist one leg in front and around the other, locking the foot behing the other calf - I couldn't even come close on that one, but I did alright w/most.

But I didn't know how long the class was supposed to last. 30 mins? 60? Longer? There wasn't a clock in the room, but I'm usually a pretty judge of time. My marching band director in college once said "You can handle anything when you know when it'll end." Lot's of truth to that. But I didn't know when it would end. And I felt this strange subtle nauseous feeling starting. And building. Eventually I lay down to see if just resting would make the feeling subside, but it was still slowly building. Finally, I HAD to get up, leave the room and cool off for a bit. That helped a ton, and after about 10 minutes I went back in just in time for the final pose.

Turns out the class is a full 90 minutes. Seems pretty crazy but true. Even crazier was when we left class and sat outside behind the building (there's a patio that overlooks the Midtown Greenway) I was freezing my ass off - and it was like 80+ degrees and humid outside! I guess even tempurature becomes relative after dealing w/extreme heat for over an hour!

So was it fun? Yep. And I didn't smell sweaty or anything afterwards - I think any sweat stink had long since dripped off of me by that point. Took a shower but didn't use soap since that just seemed unnecessary at that point.

Rounded out the evening with some awesome pizza from Galactic Pizza (pizza company with a conscience, and delivered by superheroes - what could be better?!)

I don't see myself going to bikram super often, esp in the summer, but I'll definitely be going back - it'll be interesting to see if my poses progress, and if my body eventually learns to tolerate the heat!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Grandma's Marathon 2005 (long)

So the longer version of Grandma's Marathon weekend '05. Originally planned to race and share a hotel room w/friends Steve, Andy and Lyle. But then Steve got sent to Thailand for work, Andy failed to train and bailed out of the race, so our group sort of fell apart.

So I shifted to plan B, and made arrangements to stay with my friend Heidi, whom I haven't seen for, oh, three years or so. Heidi worked at the fitness center at my workplace, and we'd sometimes play racquetball on the weekends. I was really looking forward to seeing her again.

Heidi lives outside of Two Harbors in a little cabin just off scenic 61, but we stayed at her friend Tracy's place in Duluth since that made it easier for me to catch a shuttle to the race start. Friday night consisted of a great pre-race dinner of salad and pasta that Heidi and Tracy whipped up, then Heidi and I drove the DECC to pick up my race packet. I intended to go to sleep early, but the 3 of us started surfing, so I didn't get as much sleep as I planned, and I slept fitfully at best.

The weather was heating up by the time the race started and it was noticeably warmer than when I ran it in 2001. I lined up at the 3:45 pace marker, thinking that would be a reasonable finish, since I hadn't trained as hard as I had planned (three 20 mile runs count for something, but without doing much other mileage in addition to the long runs, I didn't know what to expect. Also, I only ran about 15 miles total in three weeks before the race ... you want to taper down, not stop running entirely!)

About 4 miles into the race, I realized I was running about 7:50 minute miles, slightly better than the 8 min/mile pace I'd need to run to achieve a personal best of a sub-3:30 marathon. So I tried to keep that pace up. By mile 12 or so, I had built up a 3 minute buffer, and felt really strong. I was taking sports drink at every water station, my pace was holding steady, I ate a GU every 4 miles as planned, and everything seemed solid.

Some of the water stations were playing pumping techno music, which really pumped me up - actually I wish they hadn't been playing it, as it pumped me up a little too much, and I started having to reign myself in. Kind of messed up my groove.

Then somewhere around mile 20 or so, things started to come apart at the seams. My quads started feeling heavy, and some small muscles in the hip region (flexors?) started complaining. A tried to charge on and hold pace, but it was starting to be a struggle.

Lemondrop hill around mile 21 really did me in, I walked up the hill, and jogged down the backside. Tons of people who I had previously passed started passing me. Demoralizing. Shifted into a walk/run pattern, walking a minute or two, then running as long as a could (a few minutes) before walking again. My 3 minute buffer quickly vanished, and the 3:30 goal (which I never thought I would acheive today in the first place) became a distant memory.

The race course does a little loop around in the last mile or so - this had thrown me for a loop in '01, but this time I was ready for it. Apparently my calves weren't, however, as they started sending me little twinges, hinting that they might cramp at any moment.

Really tried to smooth out my stride for that last 1/2 mile in hopes that the calves wouldn't cramp. Thankfully they didn't, and I held that smooth stride straight to the finish chute - I didn't give an extra kick at the end because I was afraid of cramping.

Finishing Time: 3:35:49

Better than the 3:45 I expected, but not as good as I hoped considering I was on pace for a personal best 3:30 for the first 20 miles. But I'm satisfied.

The post-race snacking and stuff was standard fare, although the ice cream was an unexpected bonus.

The post-race scenery however, was exception, as usual. As much as I like biker lady legs in spandex, the scenery at a running race like this is even better - lithe, sweaty, muscular-yet-feminine legs in shorty running shorts just can't be beat! I'm like a kid in a candy store at times like this.

Later that night, the 3 of us ate dinner at some new Mexican restaurant down by the waterfront. We had a window table looking over the lake, which was a treat. I had quite possibly the best fajitas I've ever had - shredded pork infused with citrus - yummy.

Stayed at Heidi's cabin Saturday night, it's a really cozy little place, nicer than I expected. She seems incredibly happy up there, 1000% happier than she was living in the Twin Cities - very cool to see that she's learned what lifestyle makes her truly happy.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Sorry 'bout the lack of posts lately ...

I'm way behind in my posts, and have been too busy to keep up. I still want to write about my Grandma's marathon experience, as well as my first bikram yoga adventure. I promise to get to those soon. I also just got back from a fun weekend in Chicago visiting my sis, where I experienced critical mass Chicago style, and also road with the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation in Chicago's gay pride parade.

Like I said, I'm way behind, but don't change that dial - I'll be doing my best to catch up in the next few days.