Monday, November 29, 2010

Muttley Monday - I Love This Bar

Once in a while Bailey likes to chill out and head to the local watering hole to relax with friends..

I'd like a nice slice of prime rib please.  Or a hot dog, I am not picky.
Psst - can you order me some food?
Sorry the pictures are not great, but that is what you get when you give a drunk country girl a Blackberry to take a picture with.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Good Day

I love Sundays because I always have a longer workout planned.  Either a long ride (which isn't so joyous in the winter months) or a long run.  Today, I got to have a little of both.

I spent an hour in the pain cave, a straight zone 2 ride:
Yes, I am a History Channel junkie.

I don't have a lot to say about that, except that I stayed in zone 2 for the ride and learned about when the Pilgrims first came to Plymouth.  I know, riveting stuff, but I am a history geek and kind of liked it.

I followed up the trainer ride with 5 miles of this:
Now that's more like it!
I was really psyched with my run, because I ran the 5 miles in 43 minutes, which is blazing fast for me.  The weather was cool but clear (~ 34 degrees plus some wind), and I really had an awesome run.

I have finally surrendered to the heart rate monitor, and have accepted that it is one gadget that I really need to use daily.  My coach told me to stay in zone 2 for the run, and guess what happened?  I ran that route faster than I had before.  Go figure, all those books I have upstairs collecting dust were right.

Weekly Update
I haven't been very good in posting my weekly numbers, I plan on getting into the habit of that again, starting now.   I mean really, it is only 237 days until Ironman Lake Placid, I need to be keeping track of this stuff! 

Swim: 3000 yards - I have been getting to the pool 1x/week - since it is 75 minutes away, I am happy with that!
Bike: 50 miles
Run: 18 miles
Total time: 7 hours, 50 minutes

Now my buddy Bailey and I are going to hang out on the couch and watch football for a while, and enjoy the last few hours of the long weekend.  I hope you all had an awesome holiday weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Caratunk Turkey Trot Race Report

We had gorgeous weather for the 4th annual Caratunk Turkey Trot.  There was a lot of hunter orange and plenty of smiles and laughter.  This year we had 22 people and 12 dogs participating.  Most people walked with their dogs (I did) but we had 4 runners this year who did the loop plus a little extra to make up a real 5k run.

Pre-trot chatter and smack talk, between the dogs ofcourse
A quick survey of the crowd determined that everyone was there who wanted to be there.  I rolled out the orange flagging tape and got in front of the crowd that had gathered at our little post office.  At the pre-race "speech" I welcomed everyone to the 4th Annual Caratunk Turkey Trot, thanked them all for coming, and wished them a happy Thanksgiving. 

I also laid out the ground rules, which were basically to have fun, and not get hit by a truck on Route 201.  I also reminded everyone what direction we were doing the loop and pointed out the "short cuts" if anyone wanted to bag out early (and yes, there was a penalty for that.  I don't know what it was, but I just told them there would be a penalty).
Checking out the start/finish line flagging
Everyone there seemed really excited, and a few more cars pulled in to join us just before the start. 

One car stopped and ask us about the "Road Race" that was going on, and wondered if the road was closed for the race and if he could get through to the "other side of town."  After some laughing, we told him no, the road wasn't closed, but that we were looking for a pace car to notify spectators of the winning runners. 

He looked at us blankly for a second then burst out laughing.  Then we invited him to participate, he politely declined, wished us a Happy Thanksgiving, and drove off. 

Without further delay, we started the race.  My friend Cindy and I just said, "OK!! Ready? Set! GO GO GO!" and then we were off.
The start, just before a few more people showed up

Note the paparazzi on the right (it is a guy with a camera).  This is turning into a big event!

Coming down the town hill (where I do my hill repeats) for the final stretch

Heather, Tommy (the mighty biker), and Tucker at the finish

Happy boys, post race.  Ready for some turkey!
Bailey was the winning dog, of course, since I make the rules.
After the race everyone pretty much all skedaddled, they had turkeys to keep an eye on and families and friends coming.  We all talked a bit and hugged and wished each other a Happy Turkey Day.  Lots of people thanked me for organizing the race, and Marie, our post master, told me I should nominated the town's morale officer, which I thought was really nice and made me feel especially good.

I hope everyone had an awesome day yesterday!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

H2O Audio Review, or I Have Really Small Earholes

I was pretty excited to try out my new toy, the H2O Audio Interval:
Think it will make me swim like Micheal and Natalie?
See, it is no secret to my blog readers that I find swimming in a pool staring at that blue line pure tedious drudgery.  I am bored to tears after about 15 minutes, you will see me stopping and fiddling with my goggles every 100 yards or so just for something else to do.

I know, it is all in your attitude and how you approach things.  I have tried to think about it differently and have really tried very hard to get excited about going to the pool.

The pool isn't fun for me.  Stuff is floating in there, and I don't know what it is.  For me, the pool is a necessary chlorine soaked evil with other people's spit and pee floating around.  I would much rather be swimming in a clean clear lake where the fish screw and the loons poop.

Ah, yes, but I live in Maine, and it is November, and the lake is skimmed over with a nice sheet of thin ice and snowflakes are falling as I type.  If I want to get into swim shape for Ironman Lake Placid (only 241 days away), I have to go to the pool.

So I bought the H2O Audio Interval - I had an iPod Shuffle 3rd generation (this is key for you to use the H2O Audio Interval), and I thought, "Gee, this gadget might make swimming less hellish for me."  So I dropped the cash (currently $79.99 HERE).

I wanted that thing RIGHT NOW. And it came pretty quickly, I was happy happy happy to try it out.

What did I think?
Aside from a few issues I had (keep reading) I loved the system.  It made my swim better, no doubt.  Nothing can keep me from being grossed out by mystery floaties, or change my abhorrence of choline, but this made it so I swam for an hour straight with out being bored.  I was actually surprised when I looked at my trusty counter and saw I was at my 2400 yards.  Sweet.

So bottom line, I recommend this baby. But if you have small ear holes you should keep reading.  I actually think you should keep reading anyway, because I am on a roll today.

About the System
Since my pictures didn't come out so great, I am using pictures from H2O Audio's website.  I am saying mostly great things about their product, so I figure they won't mind.

The headphone system was easy to set up. Open up the little compartment, plug the iPod into the jack, then close the compartment and attach the thing to your goggles.  I like simple, and this is it.  There are three buttons that are easy to find that adjust volume, change tracks, and select a playlist.

The construction seems simple and solid: rigid plastic with a hinged door, a gasket sealing the iPod off from the water.  I don't know much about this stuff, but I can say that after my swim, my iPod wasn't wet and still functioned, so I would say that it works very well at keeping the water out.

My Issue:

I have very small ear holes.  My boyfriend would probably argue that my ear holes are often closed, but I digress.  At work when we are given those foam ear plugs to walk around loud stuff, my ears spit them out with a nice, soft sounding poohp.

That is what it sounds like to me when my ears spit things out.  I can actually get some distance with this, and I am sure I would win an ear spitting contest if there were such a thing.

Anyway, I was happy to see that the H2O Audio Interval comes with an enormous number of earplug inserts, in varying sizes.  I figured I was all set, no poohp, no ear rejection, just sweet sweet music.  Check out how many options come with the system:
I grabbed the set marked "XS," knowing that I have "XS" ear holes.  I pulled the top of my ear back (old logger trick) and pushed the ear piece in my left ear.  It stuck. Sweet.

I tried the same thing with my right ear. Rejection. I couldn't even get it in (yes, I was using the same sized ear pieces).  It was like a wind was pushing the thing out, I swear.  I pushed and pushed and twisted and pushed and pulled on my ears and pushed and that darn thing didn't want to go in.  Finally, I stuffed it in there.  Shook my head. OK, we are in.

I turned on the music, finally, I was ready to swim.

28 yards.   

Poohp (that would be right ear rejection)

REALLY?  Cram cram cram.

52 yards.

Poohp

ARGH.  I tried swimming with the thing just in my left ear, but the piece that was supposed to be in my right ear was just flopping around driving me crazy.  I fooled with it and fooled with it, because the thing was, I liked the music being there.  I could tell if I could make this work, the music was going to be KEY to making me happy in the pool.  I hadn't even had 5 minutes of it, it wasn't even fully in both ears, and I was in love.

The furthest I got without fooling with my right ear or hearing the dreaded poohp was 232 yards.  Or something between 225 and 250.  But it did stay in longer as time went on, and like I said before, I didn't want to give up on it because I really liked having the music and it worked great except for my freakishly deformed right ear.

I found some alternate ear covers that I am going to try that work for me running and are made out of similar stuff, I am not sure it is a solution, but I am going to give it a go.

Sound Quality
I thought the quality was really good for listening to music underwater.  I would say the sound is slightly less sharp than regular earphones are, but I am not a very technical person when it comes to this stuff.  I could hear it, it wasn't muffled, and I was happy.

Bottom Line
I like this product and would recommend it to anyone who spends a lot of time in the pool. It makes swimming better, no doubt.

My only complaint is the ear issue, and apparently I have abnormally small ear holes, because they really do provide plenty of options in sizing for the earpiece.   I am going to keep fiddling with the earpiece until I get it to work for me.

Disclosure: I bought this product all on my own and this review reflects my personal opinions affected only by my small ear holes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Details

For the past 4 years, I have been the "race director" of a town walk/run on Thanksgiving.

The whole thing started out as a random plan hatched out of a conversation by a few friends over a bottle of wine (OK, maybe 2 or 3 bottles of wine, but really, who is counting?) We thought we should meet up at the post office and run "the loop" before we stuffed ourselves with turkey, mashed potatoes, and dessert. 

The Loop

Actually, the conversation went like more like this:

"Hey, let's go run The Loop Thursday!"

"Wahoo!"

"Yeah!"

"We rock!"

"We can call it a Turkey Trot! ha ha"

"Wahoo!" 

"Yeah!"

"You're so awesome!"

"Let's make a sign like they do for real ones! ha ha!"

"Cheers!"

"OK I'll make the sign! Weee!"

I really thought it would be funny to act like it was really official, so I did follow through and make a sign, really as a joke.  I added in note that it was BYOD (Bring Your Own Dog).

 

Race day came, it was pouring rain.  I was wondering if my buddies were going to show up or not, and was shocked when 12 people and 3 dogs showed up ready to race/walk "the loop".  I know, that doesn't sound like a lot of people.  But when you live in a town with a population of 60, that is better than 10% of the town's population.  I think that is a pretty darn good.

 

I ran back to my house and grabbed a roll of orange flagging, tied to to the post office and rolled it across the road to make a start line. We agreed that this could double as a finish line tape, so after I shouted the official "GO!", we picked it up and tied to to the stop sign (which, incidentally, blocks off the road), and started in front of it instead.  It delays things a little, but you NEED a finish line.

First Caratunk Turkey Trot

This started a sort of tradition, and the number of people who attend the fun run/walk grows yearly.  One year we had close to 30 people and 10 dogs.   Another year a chicken came with us under my neighbor's 10 year old daughter's arm. 

 

So this year, I was wondering if I should post "the sign" again or not.  I guess I didn't realize that people cared about the race all that much.  I started getting phone calls and email messages last week asking me if I was still going to "do all of the planning" for the town run/walk on Thanksgiving.  

 

All of the planning?  Planning this race consists of me changing the 3rd to a 4th on my saved document, printing it, and then posting these signs up all around town: 

By all posting these signs all around town I mean I posted a sign at the Post Office bulletin board.  

 

People were immediately relieved that I had taken care of all of this detailed planning.  I received half a dozen emails from people telling me they were coming, and people stopped me in town to thank me for organizing the race again.  When I showed it to our post master, she gave a big sigh and said, "Oh good! I was worried you weren't going to plan it this year!  It is so nice of you to go to all of the trouble to put this together for us."

 

Yeah, this race director stuff is tough.  I mean, really, what would people do without me taking care of all of the "detail work" required to make this race such a success.  Now, I need to make sure I have some orange flagging in my truck.  You know, it is the details that make races special.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fired Up

I have been on fire this week, thanks mostly to my friend Callie's email. 
I have a bunch of friends who are putting a team together for the Tuckerman Inferno and we are looking for a female biker...I thought of you.
Doesn't that just give me the warm fuzzies!  Callie is one of my favorite people who I never get to see, so that makes this that much more awesome.  I immediately replied and said heck yes I would LOVE part of her Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon team. 

The race is as follows:
  • 8.3 mile run
  • 6 mile kayak
  • 18 mile bike (2000 feet of climbing)
  • 3.5 mile hike to the bowl of Tuckermans 
  • a hike up the rest of the bowl of Tucks, then a final ski down a GS course over the left gully to the finish line. 
Last year's handbook is HERE if you are interested in the details.
 (Source)
See those little hikers? This photo from the 2006 Inferno
For those of you that might not know, Tuckerman Ravine is part of Mount Washington, a pretty unique and awesome place.  Funds from the race help Friends of Tuckerman to preserve and protect the unique alpine and sub-alpine eastern slopes of Mount Washington and work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to sustain the traditional uses of this distinctive area.

This race has been on my radar for a long time, and I always thought the most fun way to do this race would be with a team.  The problem is, what I consider fun is really different than what most of my friends consider fun...so the idea of this race would appeal to most of them about as much as drinking bleach.  So I never got a team together - but I sure am thankful that Callie and her friends did. 

As you saw, I will be on the bike leg.  The other fun thing is that there is this other team of friends that also has 4 women and 1 guy so there is a little friendly competition going on.  The slower team has to buy dinner for the faster team.  Smack talk going around already, it is a hoot. 

I am really psyched about this, it gives me something a little closer than IMLP (only 247 days away!) to be busting my butt all winter to work towards (like I need another reason, right?)

Hard Core
Speaking of working hard, I have been a bit remiss in my strength work up until the last few weeks.  I especially have been lame in the ab/core department (I know! I know - it is essential for base strength, I need to do it, blah blah).  One thing that I have found that has really helped me "get on it" is Jamoosh's Hard Core Club's ab workouts that I found last week.

I am up to one week in a row of doing this every other day at this point, so I am on a roll.
I am working on the beginner core routine, and it was really good.  I plan on doing these 3-4 times a week, they workout does not take much time and it is pretty easy to fit into your routine.  I think I will be adding in the intermediate core fairly soon, because although I have been lame working my core, I haven't be a complete dolt, I mean, I randomly have done a crunch or a plank or two here and there.  I know, lame.

What is great is that the added exercises here hit all the parts of your core and back and are really awesome.  Check it out HERE.  Thank you Jamoosh for helping me stay motivated!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Muttley Monday - Strawberry Newton Hangover

Bailey was a little hungover after a big day of partying it up on Pleasant Pond Mountain yesterday.  Here he is sleeping off his Strawberry Newton hangover with his buddy Austin.
Zzzz...staw..zzz...berr..zzz..new..zzzz...ton...zzz

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pleasant Pond Mountain Hike

My friends and I went for a short hike this morning up Pleasant Pond Mountain.  I am really lucky to have some great hiking super close to my house, and the Appalachian Trail in my back yard (yes I am linking A Walk in the Woods, because it is awesome.)

The trail-head for this hike is only about 3 miles away.  It was a gorgeous day so we took our time climbing  to the top.  Albert and Beth are two of my favorite people to spend time with, so the walk to the top went by very quickly as we chatted away. 
Appalachian Trail sign, 1.4 miles to Pleasant Pond Mountain summit
On the hike Beth's dog, Austin, flushed a spruce grouse.  These birds are not all that uncommon to see around here, but are considered to be fairly rare in Maine.  They look similar to the ruffed grouse or partridge, for which there is an open hunting season.  Anyway, they act kind of tame and let you get pretty close, even if you have 2 very excited dogs and 3 humans running under them taking pictures (might be why they are considered rare).
Spruce Grouse...in a spruce tree

Albert, Beth, me, Austin, and Bailey at the summit
The view from the top is awesome, and it is an almost 360 degree view, it is pretty cool. 
View looking west toward the Bigelows
I am including this above picture because it is of one of my favorite mountain ranges, the Bigelows. I really like how the peaks from this direction kind of stair step up as you are looking from Little Bigelow (3,070 feet) to West Peak (4,145 feet) (as you look right to left in the photo).  I am working on a 2 day hike of that range for next summer post IMLP (only 251 days away!)

The hike down to the truck was pretty quick and uneventful.  There is a great view of Pleasant Pond (my swimming pool in the summer) on the way down, but it is through the trees and really hard to translate onto film, so you are going to have to take my word for it.  Trust me, it was cool.

When we got back to the truck, we were all hungry.  Albert pulled a fresh box of Strawberry Newtons from his truck, and we were so happy about that.  Newtons make me think of long bike rides in the summer for some reason, and I usually go any flavor but the fig.  Anyway, those babies were good! 
Mmm Newtons!
Yeah, Bailey is a Newton fan too!  He is asleep on the couch now.

Weekly Numbers
I am getting ready to head up to my pain cave and knock out an hour on the trainer, then do 30 minutes of weight training.  This week was a recovery week and I am still working in pretty low volume as I am in the build phase of training.

Swim: 2500 yards
Bike - 35 miles
Run - 8 miles
~ 5 hrs 30 min

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stay Safe Out There

I have been thinking a lot about yesterday's blog post especially after some comments from readers.  I always love and appreciate all comments I get, so please keep them coming - I want to continually improve, and your comments help me do that.

I think I was remiss when I did not say if you do run at night, stay safe out there. 

Be Safe and Aware
Anne Marie from AM Goals For the Week commented yesterday, reminding me to take precautions - be safe and aware.  This is important for all runners, espeshally women, who are the most common victims of an attack. 

Sometimes I am a bit blinded by where I live, and forget that most of the rest of the world lives in places a lot less remote than I do, with a lot more people in their town (or city) than 60.  My most likely attacker on a run is going to be (literally) a rutting moose or a pack of coyotes. I carry mace for those reasons, but it is also a good back up in case one of those two legged predators decide to make their way to my little town.

A coworker of Anne Marie's was attacked on a morning run.  In her blog she outlines things you can do to stay safe.  I just want to repeat those here: run with a group, take a self defense class, carry mace, carry your cell, run with your dog, run in VERY well lit roads. Check out her blog for the full story about how her and a group of co-workers took back their morning run after the attack. Thank you Anne Marie for the reminder.

Be Seen
Kevin from Ironman By Thirty posted a video that I am going to re-post here.  When you do run at night, make sure you are visible.  I run with a Brooks Night Life Jacket and a headlamp backwards on my head.  And to date, I have not seen a car on my "in town" run.  But if I do, I want to be sure they see me. 

There are a lot of different types of reflective gear out there, it is a must have it you plan on running at night, even under lights.

This video (re-posted from Kevin's blog) makes it crystal clear how important reflective gear is.



Stay safe, run hard, and have fun out there! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanking Veterans & Running in the Dark

Thank You Veterans!
Happy Veteran's Day -Thank you to all who serve and have served, and a special thank you to my two favorite veterans: my dad (USAF - 2 tours in Vietnam) and grandfather (US Navy, PT Boat - 1941-1946).

I wish I had pictures of them in their uniforms to post here, but I can't find any right now.

Running in the Dark
I have this thing about running in the dark lately, I love it.  I know it is kind of weird, but since it is dark when I go to work and dark when I get home, I guess I either have to embrace it or...what? Not, I guess?

Suck it up, I say.

It is cool fun way better than a treadmill to go back and forth in town under the bright lights of Caratunk - most of which work, some of which flicker off as you run by (that is kind of creepy). 

It took me a long time to actually enjoy running back and forth in town, but I have started to yearn for it as November (and early darkness approaches) in some weird sort of way.   I just zone out and listen to Pleasant Pond Stream flow by (and the roar of the log trucks on Route 201).  Sometimes I daydream about what my neighbors must think as I run by their house for the 4th (or 6th) time, "Oh, there goes Mandy again.  That was her 4th time by the house, and I think she is smiling. Strange girl."

OK OK, I know you all have been dying to know what the "bright lights of Caratunk" look like.  When I talk about my early morning runs on the Caratunk Treadmill "under the lights" this is what I am talking about.
Main Street Treadmill

Bright lights big city!  Since there isn't much light, I feel like you can really see the stars, and I zone out on them sometimes, trying to remember what constellation is what. A few summers ago our nephew was sitting on John's lap roasting a marshmallow over the fire we had in the backyard.  He turned all big-eyed to John and asked, "Uncle Johnny, why are there more stars in Caratunk?  Caratunk is awesome!" 

I envision this conversation fast forwarded few years, "Uncle Johnny! WOW there 7 bars within a 10 mile radius? Caratunk is awesome!"

So I have a map here that is not that great but you get to see the awesomeness of the Caratunk Treadmill (the thin red line).  I have about 1.2 miles of lighted road so I could run at midnight if I wanted to.  Which I don't.
"My river" is known by most people as the Kennebec River.



This route works for me on shorter runs that I am trying to sneak in around work.  I have not run any further than 6 miles in this way, I wonder what it would be like to run 22 on this as my friend Beth has done (that would be @10 times back and forth).  I might go crazy, but then again, it might work for me, who knows?  Some 12 mile morning might get churned out right there.

OH! One more thing...

Only 254 Days until Ironman Lake Placid! :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Muttley Monday & RoadID Giveaway Winners!

Bailey is a bit of a diva.  He doesn't like to get his tail wet, ever.  So if it is raining, I can get him into the truck to go to work.  He wants to go for a ride, but then when we get there, he refuses to get out.
Did you see that rain? I am staying here.
I have mentioned before that Bailey has a pretty sweet set-up in the back of my truck, here he is giving me the, "I am not moving, get your stinky boots out of my face" look.

RoadID Winners!
Thank you all for entering my RoadID giveaway!  I had 104 entries! I choose the winners using Random.org and they are....

Angie Bee @Barefoot Angie Bee and Kimberly@Healthy Strides

Congratulations Angie and Kimberly!  Send an email to me at manfarr1974 (at) yahoo (dot) com for your coupon codes for the free RoadID!  When I get back from work tonight I will send them off to you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Tagged - Versatile Blogger Award

WAIT! Don't forget to enter my RoadID giveaway!

I have been given a "Versatile Blogger" award from Christi @ Pedestrian Runner so today I would like to get to fulfilling the items for this award. Sorry about the delay in getting to this Christi!
So here are the rules:
1. You must thank the person who gave you the award and link back to their blog. Thank you Christi! You guys should definitely check out her blog and cheer her on in her Operation Iron quest!
2. You must share 7 things about yourself.
3. Finally, you must pass this award along to other bloggers.

OK, well....Here we go!
1. I grew up hunting and fishing with my dad and mom.
My dad and me. I am the one with the apple and the toy gun.
2.  This will surprise some of you.  I am a knitter.  Mostly in the winter when it is dark so early I go nuts. And never sweaters, (although I have started many) my attention span is just way too short for that.  Here is my latest creation, the Koolhaas Hat that I made from a pattern by my favorite designer, Jared Flood:
That is not Bailey in the background, that is my dad's dog, Kenny
3.  I love hot sauce, but don't really like Tabasco.  Right now, this sauce is my favorite:
4.  I am pretty psyched to get some tele-turns in at Sugarloaf.
Really, we ski too! Not sure about rocking the goggles and sunglasses though..
5.  Only 258 days until Ironman Lake Placid.  Come on, you KNEW I had to sneak the countdown in somewhere!!

6.  Sometimes I think about getting a new bike.  It kind of freaks me out, because bikes can cost so much, and really I know I could get through IMLP with Rico, my current bike.  So then I go back to thinking I don't need a new bike.  Because really, my bike Rico and I have been a lot of miles together.  So obviously I am waffling like crazy on this. Don't worry, you guys will be the first to know.

7.  I spent 18 days in the belly of the Grand Canyon on a private boater permit with some of my best friends in the world.  I miss the call of the Canyon Wren, the sand in places you didn't know you had, Gunniess for breakfast (it is like oatmeal), groovers with spectacular views, and laughing so much it hurts.  Sometime in the not too distant future, I will be back there.

Yup, that is a beer, the silt wore the label off.
Groover with a view.  Yes, this was 100% carry in, carry out.


Who gets tagged next?
I am tagging some of my newer followers:
1. Diana @ Diana Tries-A-Tri!
2. April @ Mommy's Fit for the King
3. Allison @ Just Tri and Finish