Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Swim Streak Check In/Thoughts

We're at the 15th of February, so just over halfway through the month and since I've already swam today, we've also just passed the halfway point of the #SMASHswimstreak!

I'm at 20700m and, if all keeps going to plan, should be at 40k by the end of the month. Which is ridiculous.

Since this is the first athletic streak I've been able to successfully do (so far), I've had a few thoughts:

- Holy crap am I itchy! All this time spent in chlorine means that I've kind of been constantly itchy for the past few weeks. Living in a dry climate in winter in general doesn't help, but the pool is making it so much worse. I've been slathering myself in lotion every day and drinking a crap ton of water, but OMG THE ITCHY.

- My new Finis paddles (along with my pull buoy, when called for) are my new best friends. Seriously. I had a pair of Strokemaster paddles that I'd been using, but I'm pretty sure they were too big/advanced for me. I'd seen the Finis ones on several people and asked for (and got!) them for Christmas and I am in LOVE. 

- It took about eight days for me to need a 4-500m warm-up in the pool to start feeling good ... which usually takes me a few MONTHS to need while in IM training. 

- I kind of constantly smell vaguely like chlorine. It seems to be unavoidable.

- Getting in the swims has been surprisingly easy. I'm actually looking forward to getting to the pool. Working on getting in everything else, however ... that's been a struggle. I mean, I've managed, but it's been hard. And I've had some shitty bikes and runs.

- I am seeing new dents in my back/shoulders that I don't think I've ever seen before.

- I handle arm fatigue waaaaay better than I handle leg fatigue. And if the shoulders get really cranky, I try to find a way to make sure there's around 24 hours between swims (so if I swim at 7am one day, make sure I'm not back in the water until 11am the following day) as that seems to recover me enough.

- Best of all, the swim hunger? The I-swim-so-I'm-ravenous-the-rest-of-the-day feeling? If you swim every day, it's not as big of a thing. Which makes sense, since apparently that feeling is due to changes in body temperature so if you're in the water all the time, you're more adapted? Or something? I don't know. I just know that I don't always want to eat everything in sight this month because of swimming, so that's good.

15 days down, 13 to go!!

Friday, February 10, 2017

On the Skirt Box

If you read this blog - or even if you know me - you know I love me some Skirt Sports. Comfy, cute, real, inspiring ... what's not to love?

And maybe after hearing me yammer about them for ages, you're possibly thinking of trying Skirt yourself? But maybe you have no idea where to start. Well, that's where the Skirt Box comes in! 

The general gist is:

- You give them your size and whether you like patterns or solids;
- You talk with a Skirt concierge (personal shopper, if you prefer) to give your credit card info ($10 concierge fee);
- You get your Skirt Box!

If you love a Skirt, that $10 goes toward the cost of purchase, which is pretty awesome. And if you love more than one style, you get a discount if you decide to keep them. Really, click the link to get all the details.

The real question is, which Skirts do you get? Well, you get five to try:

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The Lioness;

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The Gym Girl Ultra;

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The Happy Girl;

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The Lotta Breeze Capri; and

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The Tough Girl.

Want to see them all together? I know you do ...

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From shortest to longest. Also my varying and weird facial expressions.

For your reference: I'm 5'9" and am wearing a large in all styles. My personal favorites are the Lioness and the Gym Girl. I don't run in the Happy Girl, but I do love it for travel. The mesh on the Lotta Breeze doesn't work for me for running - I prefer the Jette Capri - but it's cute to just wear around! The Tough Girl is great in winter, but I run so hot that I rarely actually wear it!

So, give the Skirt Box a try. It's basically risk free, and while I can't guarantee you'll love at least SOMETHING, I'm pretty sure that you will.

* Disclaimer: I WAS NOT PAID FOR THIS. I am a Skirt Ambassador so I do get a little something something from them for that and a little extra for being a captain, but I did not have to write this. I just chose to because I think this concept is freaking AWESOME. I will also NOT get any kickback if you choose to order a Skirt Box or anything else off their site. I pimp this out willingly because I heart it so much.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Training on the Road

First of all, eight days into February, and eight swims done. This ... is kind of difficult, but also kind of awesome?

Anyway, when I chose the swim streak, I did it because February is the shortest month. However, I neglected to remember the fact that we had a mini vacation planned for early February to go up to Grand Forks, N.D., and watch hockey. Oops.

Unless a trip is planned for the purpose of exercise (read: races), we sometimes have issues working out on the road. However, breaking my swim streak three days into the month just wasn't going to happen. So, we did the research into pools. Okay, Brandon did the research into pools.

We were originally going to hit up the University of North Dakota wellness center (their gym), but the new fitness center apparently doesn't have a pool attached, and the building that does have the pool has stupid pool hours.

Okay, plan B.

Plan B was Choice Health and Fitness, which had possibly my most favorite pool to swim in to date. It was indoors, obviously (people don't swim outside in Grand Forks in the winter!), and gorgeous. Three wide lanes, clean water (it smelled so much better than our home 24) ... glorious.

We swam both Friday and Saturday (swam Thursday before our flight and Sunday after we got back home). Friday's swim was amazing; Saturday's, not as much. Probably because it was a terrible, gloomy day.

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From Friday, when it was sunny. Featuring: SMASH swim cap!

While the gym was glorious for swimming, neither of us liked lifting there. I had a baby lift planned for Friday and I'm glad I got the majority of my strength done earlier in the week because it was a super short crappy lift.

On Saturday, Brandon took me on a running tour around campus. It wasn't snowing a lot that day, but it was snowing just enough to be annoying and to make the sidewalks super slick. Those factors combined with the fact we were chatting the whole run (okay, mostly him playing tour guide), meant it was super slow, but it was also really fun.

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From Instagram. Featured: SMASH beanie, Skirt Sports Lioness (paired over Skirt Toasty Tights).

The other thing that I think helped getting in the training is that I do believe I'm being successful in my 2017 goal of enjoying the process - I genuinely looked forward to getting in the pool and for going for this run (despite it being cold and windy). We also planned both into the trip so there was time set aside for it.

Friday, February 3, 2017

On the Sewing Room

So I know I briefly teased y'all about the Skirt Sports Sewing Room last year, saying I would talk about it later ... and then clearly left that conversation hanging. For later. Much, much later. 

Happily, later is finally here! We're in the latest funding phase so what better time to talk about this concept, right?

For those of you too lazy to click on the link above (trust me, I get it), the Sewing Room is basically a tiny condensed version of Kickstarter. If you've been around the Skirt game for a little while, you may have heard about the Gotta Go Skirt. Skirt Sports put out an April Fools' Day email in 2015 (I think ...?) about a Skirt that you could pee in! Well, enough people thought it was an awesome new idea that it actually became a reality. I own it. I haven't tested it out yet*, but I knew it was one of those things that I needed. 

Well, given the response, Skirt Sports started the Sewing Room, which works as follows:

- Design sharing. People either design something new or clamor to bring back something old. Ever wish a certain company would make something? That's basically what Skirt is enabling here.

- Design supporting. Once the submission phase ends, the support phase begins. People get to vote on the designs they want to see become reality.

- Design funding. The designs that get enough votes then go to the funding phase (which is where we are now).

- Design owning. The designs that get enough funding then get to become a reality! The first round of the Sewing Room resulted in Skirt bringing back the Cruiser Bike Girl as well as a new Skirt, the Happy High Waist - a longer Skirt with a higher waist for those of us who might have a little bit of a pooch we don't want showing.

Sound awesome? It really is. Plus, if the design you fund doesn't end up getting made, you get your money refunded (I know, because the Skirt I funded last round didn't end up getting made).

My current dilemma is deciding what to fund right now! I don't care about the Booty and Belly Love Tunic, but those Tundra Tights would be ah-mazing to wear on those super cold days or even out snowshoeing (or maybe even skiing?). The Long Haul Compression Skirt is a tempting prospect for long runs because I don't adore running with a handheld and I really do love compression shorts. I love the idea of the Watch Me Go Jacket because let's face it, running with a Garmin in the winter is super annoying due to sleeves and cold because of the wrist gap ... and I presume it's even worse if you have a watch with the wrist heart rate function because you then can't put it on over your sleeves (which just feels weird). So having a built in little hole for the watch?? Totally cool!

If any of the above sound awesome, head on over and fund something! It's basically win-win - if it doesn't get made, you're out no money, and if it DOES get made, well, you just get a fabulously original piece of apparel.

At the very least, help me decide what I should fund ...

(This round of funding ends 2.16, so get on it!)

* mostly because I'm not entirely sure where it disappeared to in my closet ...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January Round Up

First month of 2017: DONE!

Let's see how it went, shall we?

Swimming: 11700m (7.27 mi)
Cycling: 114.6 mi
Running: 33 mi
Lifting: nine sessions (4:32)
Other: 16 yoga sessions (3:21), one session plyometrics (:20), one walk (:30)

Well, so far, so good! I have not skipped a workout yet this year, but I will be completely honest and I say I was tempted a time or two. Well, technically we skipped a planned snowshoe, but that was more on the weather and the snow blocking us from actually getting to the place we wanted to snowshoe at.

Other than that ...

- The yoga every other day has been the hardest to keep up with/implement, despite seeing actual progress in terms of flexibility. You'd think that would be a motivator, but nope. I'm still sticking with it for at least another month ...

- The twice-weekly lifting sessions haven't felt like they've made an impact (yet)(I don't think), but I will keep plugging away regardless because I know strength work is good and important. Especially today when I felt clear upper leg/hip weakness doing split squats - is it any surprise I get fatigued over long distances? Nope!

In general, I'm really pretty happy with how things have been going. 

February's focus is on the swim - I have the goal of swimming every day and if I hit it (and stick with meter pools ...), I'll total 40km in swimming for the month! I've also suckered convinced several of my Team SFQ teammates into joining me in either at least #onekperday or 28km (average of 1km a day) for the month. Misery loves company!

I'm cutting back my run frequency from every other day to three days a week - Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, which I'd like to ideally stick with for the rest of the year. If I feel like I need to up my running again I will, but that's the plan for now.

Cycling isn't anything set right now, but I am planning on doing more Coach Troy DVDs to add in a bit more focus to my sessions. Plus I hate them, and if I hate them, that means they're probably good for me, right?

I'm sticking with the twice-weekly lifting sessions, doing core/upper body and then core/lower body (pulling exercises from Strength Training for Triathletes), but I got a Pure Barre DVD* for Christmas from Brandon, so I'm planning on adding in that once a week as well starting the first full week (since we've got some travel this weekend).

Here's to another good month of training!

* This in theory should be the Mile High package as opposed to the Flatirons package, but I guess they changed things around. In any case, I got the two DVDs, the socks, and the ball.

Friday, January 27, 2017

New Kicks!

I'm not a normal athlete ... well, for many reasons, really, but for today's purposes ... because of my feet. 

Yep, my feet. 

I inherited some beautiful bunions on BOTH of my feet (thanks, Grandma Adele!). I've looked into possibly removing them but haven't for several reasons:

1. That would put me out of commission for too long;
2. There's a strong possibility that, despite removal, they'd still grow back; and
3. I could run the risk of never being able to run again.

So yeah, no, hasn't happened. As a result, shoe shopping? The one thing every woman says she can rely on - "Oh, clothes don't fit, but shoes always do!" - I find a nightmare.

(Obviously, the same happens with running shoes.)

I'm by no means brand specific, but I've tried quite a few different shoes over the years:

2011: Nike Lunarglide+ 2 (enjoyed a lot, actually.)
2012: Saucony Cortanas (hated. hated. hated.)
2013: Saucony Triumph 10 (I honestly don't remember much about this shoe ...)
2013: Mizuno Wave Rider 16 (LOVED. adored. went through a few different pairs.)
2014: Mizuno Wave Rider 18 (never liked as much.)
2015: Saucony Ride 8 (these actually weren't bad ... they're just Saucony and wear out in 300-some miles which is annoying.)
2015: Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 (bought on super clearance at TriSports. I wear them more for running errands than I do actual running. I'll do super short bricks in them, but they rub too much for anything more substantial.)
2016: Adidas Ultra Boost (purchased maybe two weeks before IM Boulder? didn't mind them, but they never quite fit properly.)

(pre-2011 included Mizuno Wave Alchemy, probably a different Saucony, random Adidas that I had purchased at a big box store, New Balance shoes I wore in college for free since my hockey coach worked for them, more I don't remember ... I also tried Hokas for like a week, but my shins did NOT like them going downhill.)

That list brings us to ...

2017: New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 2

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(The New Balance and the Adidas.)

I decided to try New Balance again for really, the stupidest reason. Since our favorite running store shut down (okay, technically rebranded with new ownership, but in my eyes, it died), buying running shoes has been a struggle for Brandon and I. It's so hard when we go into a running store and know more than the employees about what we're looking for and how our feet are supposed to look on the treadmill. It's also hard when I say I will specifically special order a shoe because I know I need wides and the employees ignore me and throw me in men's shoes (especially hard when this was at a highly-recommended and highly thought of store).

In any case, Brandon popped into a local running store to try the newest version of the Wave Rider (I think we're on 20 now) and while he was doing that, I wandered over to the clearance section looking for stuff in my size. There weren't many, but there was a pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Zantes that I tossed on, jogged around a little in, and was instantly intrigued about. I almost spend the $60 gamble that day, but decided to wait a bit.

We returned a week or so later after Brandon said that the gamble would probably be worth it, but unfortunately, they were gone.

A few days later, we were back down in our old stomping grounds of Lone Tree running errands when we randomly decided to stop in the Runner's Roost down there. Roost locations have been so hit or miss for us, but we decided, what the hell, and walked in. Brandon walked out with a pair of Nikes and I walked out with a special order of the Zantes in wide hopefully coming.

I give Roost a lot of credit for what happened next; I got a call from them saying that they couldn't do a special order of the wides because new models are coming down the pipeline relatively soon. They said I could wait for the new ones (potentially a few weeks), or I could just find the current ones online. When a local business recommends a customer going online away from them so it will make them happy? I respect that a lot.

So, Amazon it was ... and I have my shoes.

The question is ... do I like them?

Short answer ... I think so.

Long answer ... I think I need more time. I have heard that with shoes these days you shouldn't need to "break them in." That being said, my first run in the Zantes was a little painful - tight around the midfoot area (between ankle and bunion). I fiddled with the lacing a bit and since then, they've been okay. Granted, my longest run in them has only been three miles (ramping things up slooooowly this year), but I haven't had the weird blister/rubbing issue on the bottom of my big toes that I was getting in the Adidas (thanks to them not coming in wide). I've also had some "moments of brilliance" as I like to call them, with my run showing flashes of returning to me ... moments that I haven't felt in quite some time.

Let's cross our fingers and hope they work! Otherwise, I may be making a special trip down to a TeamSFQ teammate-owned running store to beg them to work some magic ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Guess Who's Back ...

... back again ... as a Skirt Sports Ambassador captain???

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That's right, this girl! This marks my third year as an ambassador and second year as a captain. As you may know (or not ... I've been seeing a tad bit more traffic 'round these here parts ... hi everyone!), I've been a fan of Skirt for several years. I first tried their product back in 2008 (technically 2007, but really, 2008) and converted totally to Skirt in 2010. I have a large(r) booty for a white girl (thanks, genetics!) and don't really like showcasing my ass in spandex when I run (getting a little better about it in day-to-day life). I ran in lacrosse-type shorts for a while, but ended up having to layer them over spandex anyway.

Nike tempo run shorts? Ha. Chafe city.

But Skirt Sports? Cute flirty skirts with shorts underneath (if you need them! There are a few styles with just spankies underneath) with POCKETS??? You mean I can run a 5K with my car keys? Whaaaaat? Or take my phone/camera/money/keys/food with me on a run and not have to hold anything if I so choose? That's just crazy talk.

Plus I love their #REALwomenmove movement, using actual real people as models (seriously. I'm friends with at least one of the ladies used frequently on the site) and embracing all women at all levels of fitness and activity level.

You see me in Skirt a lot on here. I do get a little compensation for being an ambassador, but even if I didn't and I weren't an ambassador, I would wear Skirt anyway because I love it that much.*

In full disclosure, I haven't loved everything Skirt I've ever owned. I have a Skirt Sports tri kit (and it's in that collage up top), but I prefer SMASH to race in (which is why I chose to be part of that team!). There are certain Skirt items that just don't work for me, but work wonderfully for other women. That's why they have so many products! There will certainly be something for you, even if you DON'T like wearing skirts. :)