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Archive for the ‘training’ Category

I’ve never thought of myself as an athlete. I’ve always been a slow, somewhat sluggish, full-figured sort of gal. But I started doing triathlons a couple years ago and I suppose that means I’m an athlete now, no matter how slow, sluggish, or full-figured I may be. I’m not one of those triathletes who eats healthy and is all fit and fast and never gets out of breath. I’m one of those barely-walk-across-the-finish-line-but-feel-triumphant-anyway sorts of triathletes. And I love it.

I stopped biking and swimming right after the last tri in Sept, while continuing an occasional running schedule (in fact, getting worse and worse with each occasional run). We’ve been to Hawaii, Ethiopia, St. Louis, Chicago, San Diego and Las Vegas. Needless to say, I’ve fallen a little behind with my training, and I’ve eaten everything I could get my grubby little hands on. And can I tell you, it is more than a little depressing when you go from being able to run 5 miles to being able to barely run two. Ok, I said I was an athlete, not that I was a good one.

The the fun thing about triathlons is that you work, and sweat and strive and succeed… and then the tri happens and it’s like hitting the restart button. And if you try harder, maybe you can do better next time. The next tri I’m planning on is the Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon at the end of May. It’s a great course that Sean and I have done before, and I am aiming to kick my previous time’s ass. Which shouldn’t be too hard, considering I came in dead last in my age group.

Well, this week was a good start to my journey to the next tri – 3 runs, a bike and a swim. The runs were short intervals : 2min walk (4mph)/2min run( 6mph). Times 5. Which is a lot worse than I used to do, but you gotta (re)start somewhere. For the bike (my first time in the saddle since October!) Sean and I biked to his work – a nice, slow 25 miles in the frosty morning. Then I topped the week off with an easy 30 laps in the pool, just trying to get the feel for it again.

Feels pretty good to be moving again. AND!

I’ve been having the worst lower back and hip pain. For weeks. Which didn’t help my running progress at all. I would have to take pain killers just to make it through my days of sitting at the computer (sitting with a bum hip = no fun) and my short runs. And sleeping? Forget about it. And then – a miracle.

There I was, stretching my hip after a long shower, trying to get the ache to mellow out and I hear a quiet “click” as something pops into place in my hip. Now, I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but I think it’s healed! NO PAIN for the first time in two months! I feel reborn.

Hallelujah!

Now I’m ready :0) Lemme at that treadmill!

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As always, I am behind on my story-telling, but I ant to tell the stories anyway, lest I forget.

The weekend of May 16th, my parents and brother came up for the weekend to support Sean and I in our first-ever-together triathlon experience. We had a great time with the fam, and loved the tri. Hopefully this will be the start of a tradition!

My folks got into town on Friday the 14th. I had been tirelessly cleaning our apartment all week (I may have mentioned this before, but it’s truly amazing how hard it is to keep a tiny, cluttered space looking tidy). In all my efforts I ran out of time to make dinner. Plus, in a typical Liza miscalculation, I thought that they would arrive late (they told me so!) so I decided to take the rare Friday off an organize a girls’ night gathering.  I figured we’d go to get dinner, I could show them my wedding dress, and then we’d be all done by 11ish, which is when I expected my parents. Imagine my surprise when I called my parents at 7, on my way out to dinner, and found out they were a mere half hour away. I managed to have enough time to grab dinner to go and say hi to the girls, at which point my folks swung by, picked me up, and we headed back home.

After a whirlwind trip to the supermarket (which I only mention, because I found it hilarious how at the mention that I bought  “only one pizza” for dinner, the road-trippers panicked that there wouldn’t be enough food, and proceeded to run through the supermarket grabbing anything they could think of. “Liza, you don’t have yogurt!? How can you not have yogurt? WHAT, no tomatoes either!?”….and so forth. This was particularly funny because they were going to spend an entirety of 15 hours or so actually in my apartment, and most of those hours they would be asleep) we came home and ate dinner. We ended up devouring two pizzas and half a chicken, and my fridge was still stuffed with more food than it had seen the entire time Sean and I have lived there.

After some talk and story-sharing, Sean and I left to spend the night at Jess and Johns and gave my folks and Alexie the apartment.

On Saturday we miraculously collected enough bikes for all of us and went on a ride to Los Gatos along the creek trail:

alexie

family

family

We biked all the way down the trail, got sushi for lunch in Los Gatos, then continued on all the way to the dam! All in all it was 16 miles, and I was proud of the folks for making it so far, especially considering how long it’s been since any of them have really biked. After the ride we took quick showers and went to Sean’s parents’ house where we had a delightful dinner and hang out time. In the evening we all went to Gilroy, where we had booked hotel rooms because it is closer to the triathlon site. I passed out instantly but overall didn’t sleep too well. We had to get up at 4:30 and were at the race site by 5:30.

I was super nervous, as this was only my second race ever, and it was much bigger (and longer) than the first race I’d done. Plus, it was chalk full of pros – people darting around on their carbon-fiber bikes and such made Sean and I very self-conscious of our heavy hybrid bikes and the attached racks – Sean even had fenders on his bike!

It was a beautiful day out – chilly, foggy, fresh. Perfect for a race! We found spots for our bikes, got the wetsuits on, and got ready to go. The hour before the race went by in lightening speed, and before we knew it it was time for Sean to line up. The swim was first – 3/4 miles around a natural peninsula in the lake. They went by gender and age group, and Sean’s group was second. Nervously I watched them go, while I tried to warm up and calm down at the same time. Then it was time for my group. I started out to fast and was too anxious, and it took me a while to catch my stride and get a good rhythm. The water was cold, but not bad at all (especially compared to the ocean swim I did in the last tri!) and I found myself going along at a decent pace, for the most part staying in line with my group-mates. I liked that it wasn’t super crowded because of the way they paced it, but I still got the occasional elbow in the forehead from people passing by.

I tried keeping an eye on the buoys, which were our markers, but it was hard for me to keep going the same direction – I found myself pausing a lot to get my bearings and make sure I wasn’t swimming off in the wrong direction. I feel like I could have done it faster if I was better at staying on track. It felt like it took forever, and the swim is certainly the most anxiety-ridden portion of any race, just because it’s so dis-orienting and you can’t just stop to get your bearings. I was glad when that part was over.

Next came the 16 mile bike ride around the reservoir. It was super cold at times, being dripping wet as I was, especially on the downhills. I like the bike part a lot, even though I was constantly getting passed by people who started swimming way after me. I was going faster than i had expected to, though, which was encouraging. Plus, the route was really nice – beautiful rolling hills and only one really bad uphill followed by a long and winding stretch of down.

My family had been planning to show up a little late (because getting up at 430 is just ridiculous), and I saw them standing by the finish/start line right as I was coming to the end of the bike portion. I gobbled down an energy gel and got to running. It’s always a weird feeling at first – running after biking gives you major jelly-leg syndrome, and my legs were completely numb from being soaked and biking around. Oddly enough, I think that help, because I just got into a rhythm and started going. I was completely warmed up by this point (obviously!) so the running was a lot more painless than I was expecting. I paused at every mile marker to walk a minute and have some water or gels (they had stations with people handing stuff out) and found the whole thing went by quite fast. I was dreading the long time it normally takes me to do 5 miles, but I barely noticed it, I was so high on endorphins. Towards the last mile I started wearing down, but at that point I saw my mom, who had walked up the road to meet me. She ended up jogging with me the last mile or so, which gave me the energy to keep going. Thanks mom! :0)

All in all, I finished a half hour faster than expected (as did Sean) and was really quite proud of myself. Mostly, I was thrilled that the hard work I put into training paid off – so what if I was second to last? I know for a fact that I did better than I would have at any other time in my life, and that is very encouraging.

MHST2010

After the tri we all went out to lunch, and then we parted ways. The family headed back to San Diego and I….probably slept the rest of the day. Except for going to a work meeting, which made me very cranky, and was kind of an anticlimactic way to end such an eventful weekend.

Now, I am training again. Doing mostly running though, as that’s my wort sport. Looking forward tot he next tri!

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Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by
You know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

(Feelin’ Good, Michael Buble)

Thursday, we had planned to go on a highly-rated bike tour, which left from Notre Dame at 10am. You could either register, or just show up and hope for a spot. As we weren’t sure what the weather would hold, we didn’t register and decided to just show up. In pure Sean-Liza fashion, we showed up just a couple minutes too late and missed the tour entirely. We didn’t mind much though, and decided to make actual reservations for the following day. Instead, we went and got food and headed straight for the Louvre, feeling somewhat relieved that we had more time for it than previously planned.

louvre

louvre

louvre

louvre

I have heard variable numbers for how long it would take one to look at every piece of art at the Louvre – from 6 months to 9 years. The basic idea of these estimates is that this museum is insanely huge. As it turned out, we really had needed the extra time we saved by not going on the bike tour. The Louvre is – magnificent.  It is a former royal palace, a formidable labyrinth every inch of which is covered in some of the most significant art in the world.

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louvre

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(There were a ton of people there)…

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louvre

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louvre

We had a couple of points we wanted to cover – Mona Lisa (of course, though I’ve never been particularly fond of the painting), any other Da Vinci’s we could find, the Venus Di Milo, and winged victory. Also, there was a temporary exhibition of Russian Christian art (icons and the like) though photography was prohibited there. With the exception of the Icon exhibit, which we took our time with, we practically ran through the museum to get to the points mentioned above. And…we were the for 5 hours. It probably didn’t help that we kept getting lost, and I kept getting distracted with photographing ceilings (the ceilings in this place were amazing). Brace yourself, there are a lot of pictures:

louvre

louvre

We got these with lunch, just out of curiosity. They were pretty tasty.

ox flavored chips

sculptures:

louvre

louvre

louvre

winged victory:

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random thing that had a cool shadow:

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The ceilings were amazing – I took so many pictures of ceilings!

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louvre

Venus de Milo:

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louvre

louvre

random statue:

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Egyptian stuff:

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louvre

louvre

interiors:

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louvre

louvre

louvre

louvre

louvre

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winged victory again:

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Leonardo da Vinci!

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louvre

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louvre

This HUGE painting was in the same room as the Mona LIsa:

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There, in the distance, is the most famous work of art (encased in some sort of false-wall security thing):

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louvre

more ceiling goodness:

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louvre

louvre

Towards about 5pm, we were getting seriously weary, and hungry, and overwhelmed. Plus, we had reservations at a fancy restaurant at 8, and had to go home and change first (and wanted to have time to stroll down the Champs Elysees before dinner). So we snagged some souvenirs and a snack at the Louvre Starbucks (seriously. Though, thankfully, that was the only starbucks we stopped at in Paris. ) and bolted home for a quick beautification.  After tornado-ing through our hotel room and metamorphosing (like my creative use of the English language?) into respectable looking people, we took the metro back to a park on the Champs Elysees. It was a gorgeous day – sunny, warm, breezy. In short, Paris in the springtime. It was a cute, flowery, cleanly manicured park that stretched on both sides of the Champs Elysees, and we had a slow walk-through, pausing for pictures.

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louvre

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louvre

We sat on a bench for a little while, and Seany started getting kind of…squirmy. He seemed somewhat anxious about something, and he had his hands in pockets on his coat he rarely uses. I started getting suspicious, as he insisted we keep sitting on the bench because it’s so nice. The thought popped into my head “oh dear, is he going to propose now?” I thought maybe the pocket was where he was keeping a ring or something. While I was still mostly convinced I was imagining things, I got really anxious. Which is funny, considering how comfortable Sean and I are with one another, and how we’d been talking about getting married for a couple years now, in various levels of seriousness and detail. Mostly, I think I had built up “the proposal” to ridiculous proportions in my mind, since I was a little girl, and was anxious because it was never so close to becoming a reality. As a knee-jerk reaction to awkward situations, I just tried to avoid the whole thing by insisting we keep going, though I figured he wouldn’t actually do it there anyway, since there were people walking around right in front of us. I convinced him we should keep heading towards the restaurant, and he complied, and on we went.

awesome sky

champs elysees

The awkward feeling , like he was scheming or anxious, went away pretty quickly, so I went back to assuming I was hallucinating. We walked down the street a little further, then turned down a side street to get to our restaurant, 6 New York. It was surprisingly empty, and the pleasant hostess took our coats as we were escorted to a nice table by the window. It was at that point that we realized we could see the Eiffel Tower! Does it get any more romantic?

at 6 new york restaurant

I didn’t know that after dark, it sparkles every hour for about 5 minutes. The chef himself (a pretty well known one, and the owner of the restaurant) came out and, in beautifully accented English described the specials of the day (I didn’t actually understand most of what he was saying, but it sounded nice :0). We had already decided what to order so we just stuck with that – I ordered the Chef’s surprise menu, which includes 3 dishes of the chef’s choice as well as a desert. Sean ordered a raw tuna starter and a veal main course. We split a half bottle of red wine. In the interest of not going on for pages, I’ll just say the starters were amazing – easily the best I’ve ever had – but the main courses turned out only mediocre. Finally, I was presented with a sampler of deserts which we both tried but couldn’t finish, due to already having had three courses of food. It was an enjoyable time, but we were both feeling kind of awkward, not knowing proper fancy French protocol, I suspect we both felt somewhat like kids at the adults’ table for the first time.  The staff,  particularly the chef, were perfectly genial, and we left after about 2 hours in a cheery, albeit mildly embarrassed mood.

We walked, shivering, back up the streets to the start of the main Champs Elysees strip, the Arc de Triomphe. All the stores had closed, and the throngs of people had thinned. The Arc looked majestic lit by streetlights, and cars whirled madly around it with seemingly no rhyme or reason (the Arc is in the middle of a massive roundabout to which run 12 streets, like the spokes of a bike wheel. The only way to sanely get to the bottom of the Arc is to take a special tunnel under the road.) We found a nice bench without crossing the roundabout and settled down to watch the cars whirl by.

arc du triumph

us at arc du triumph

At this point, Sean once again seemed tense, and was being insistent that we stay sitting there instead of leaving (we were both freezing and shuddering, so it seemed strange that he wanted to stay). I could tell that if a proposal was going to happen, it was going to happen soon, and again started acting like a silly, ridiculous person. I kept looking around, being awkward, asking to leave, chattering on about something or other.

I was looking around when I said “can we leave?” and Sean said “no.” I said , “why not?” And he answered “because I brought something for you”.

I whipped my head around back towards him, and he had a ring in his hand. Hilariously, the first words out of my mouth were “Holy Crap!” It was an absolutely beautiful ring, art deco in style, fit for a princess.

He said “What do you think, want to keep having adventures together?” We had been talking earlier about how we enjoy having adventures together, going new places, experiencing new things (but that our next adventure should be more off-the-beaten-path and down-to-earth). We had mutually agreed that the best part of this whole trip has been spending time together. Of course, I said “Of Course!”

We sat there for a brief while more, examining the ring, but when our teeth started chattering we decided it was time to leave. We stood up and I said “wait, you haven’t actually asked me yet!” And then he said “Will you marry me?” and I said “Yes.” :0)

We have been giddy like teenagers in love ever since (not that we usually aren’t…)

We got home about midnight and promptly went to sleep,  as we had actually registered for the bike tour the following morning and had to show up.

It was a wonderful day, and as Marry Poppins would say, “Practically Perfect in Every way.”

(rhyming coincidental, not intentional :0)

arc du triumph

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never enough time

Had kind of a hard run today…was supposed to run5:walk1 seven times, and crapped out halfway through. In my defense, it was hot out and I pushed myself really hard, but was still quite disappointed with myself. Then I developed the typical post-run headache. 6 hours, a liter of water, a meal, some desert, an electrolyte drink and two types of pain medicine later, I still have a migraine. I am not ok with this – must figure out a way to avoid it in the future. Maybe bring electrolyte drinks while running? Maybe my body hates me? Don’t know.

So much to do this week. It’s already halfway over, and I can’t get out of “I’m on vacation mode” and sitting around being useless when I have so much I should be doing. Need prepare for europe, clean the house, pack, bu two presents (wedding present for lauren and bridal shower present for jess…), keep up with workouts, get all my website stuff together, etc, etc….all in…three days?

oh, ugh. I should sleep.

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Today, Sean and I decided that after church we would head over to the UVAS reservoir in Morgan Hill to bike the route we will have to do for our triathlon in May . It was a perfect day for it – warm, but not too warm. Sunny, but not yet baking-your-head-sunny. There was even a slight breeze. The area is beautiful, I’d never been there before: lush green hills with small outcoppings of trees, little silty ponds and weary old houses. I love places that make me think of childhood summer trips to Lithuania, and this was one of those places. Quiet, idyllic.

We weren’t the only ones who had the idea – the place was positively crawling with spandex-clad multi-colored, fancy-road-bike-toting folk going on a ride along the tri route. I’m not positive they were all there to train, but they could have been, and it made me nervous thinking “this is what we’re up against”. Or, if you prefer the less competitive, “these are our co-triathletes, our comrades in the quest of bettering yourself and enjoying life to the fullest by pushing yourself pas your limits into a world of pain, sweat, and victory”.

So basically there were other bikers there, but we remained unfazed :0) Us, with our touring hybrid bikes that can’t even *reach* speeds these guys coast at. But I digress. we had a beautiful hour and a half ride through fertile farmland and peaceful country lane. For the record, most people did this ride in under 45 minutes last year….but who’s comparing? We had intended to do the 5 mile run there as well, but since that course is going to be down the middle of a 2-lane road, we thought better of it and headed back to the familiarity of our local track. There, I accomplished the single greatest person fitness feat since the completion of my first sprint tri last september – I ran a mile. I ran the whole way! Now, I know many people think that being able to run a mile must come before completing your first triathlon, but I assure, this is not necessarily the case. I ran/jogged the rest of the 5 miles, and ended up having run a little over 2 of those miles. I was so overwhelming proud of myself – I have never done that. Not in my entire life.

Today, I am not only a biker, a triathlete, and a slow swimmer. Today, I am a runner.

Furthermore, and most important, I am a runner who has had a great workout day and is now showered and cuddled up in bed planning an exciting evening of movie-watching and tea-drinking.

C’est La vie :0)

peace,

liZard

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