Recap and the Plan for the Week

I noticed a little nausea in the pool on Wednesday morning, but I just thought it was because I was swimming hard.

The workout, from Run Less Run Faster:

50 free warm up

3x this set: 25 easy, 25 fast; 50 easy, 50 fast; 75 easy, 75 fast; 50 easy, 50 fast; 25 easy, 25 fast

150 cool down

Even though, I’d felt sort of nauseous while swimming, when I finished I was HUNGRY.

As the day progressed, however, I started noticing how tired I felt and that my throat was scratchy. By the time I got home, I knew I’d picked up Mr. T’s cold. That night, the nausea hit me hard. I finally caved and went to bed. But Thursday, I was still feeling nauseous and tired and my throat was on fire. There would be no tempo run. I had no energy — I could barely lift my arms to type. Plus, any time I ate more than Saltines, my stomach would revolt. I had to cancel my Friday swimming date with Chelsea (Will Run for Food). I had no idea if I would be well enough to be swimming. Plus, I’d rather not spread my disease.

Friday, I did feel better, but I was still sick. My throat still hurt and my energy was still a bit low. At least I was’t nauseous anymore.

Saturday, I felt well enough to try a run. I was supposed to do 7 miles at an 8:43 pace. But Mr. T also had a poker tournament with his fraternity brothers to get to. Since I’d slept in (rare!), I had just under an hour to run. I decided I would be happy with 6, and I would see how I felt to determine my pace.

And since I didn’t have time to drive anywhere, I settled for the trail that’s practically out my front door. I say  “settled” because of the elevation: it starts out at about 600 feet and goes gradually down. My turn-around on Saturday was at about 400 feet, and so I had to climb 200 feet over three miles — a sloooooow incline that can wear on you because you can’t really see it and don’t understand why you’re going to slow (even if you know it’s there).

But when I was running on Saturday, I really noticed how beautiful the trail is and how lucky I am to have it so close to my house. My ankles didn’t even hurt from the loose gravel since it’s starting to get packed down more now. But the trail also brings trouble-makers. Unfortunately, criminals use it to access neighborhoods at night, and break in to houses. During the day, though, and especially on the weekends, it’s mostly bikers, hikers and runners on the trail. Still, I brought my pepper spray on Saturday.

I ran all the way down to where the trail meets the Cedar River Trail, then turned around and ran back. I took advantage of the elevation loss on the way out to try and bank time, and on the way back, I decided it would be great if I could keep my time under a 9-minute overall average pace:

1: 8:52
2: 8:35
3: 8:50
4: 9:02
5: 9:03
6: 9:12

Total: 6 miles in 53:41 with an average pace of 8:56

I got home, saw Mr. T off, then showered and T Junior and I went to McDonald’s so he could get some exercise at the Play Land, and I could get some writing done. It’s been so cold and rainy lately. After that, we went to the outlets, and I got a couple new things at the Under Armour and Nike outlets.

Sunday, it was cold and even snowing, and I was still not feeling 100%. A brick was not happening. A trip to Costco was, though. After we got home, T Junior said he’d do a workout video with me. So, we did Jillian Michaels’s 30-Day Shred Level 1 (he picked it over Yoga Meltdown). He especially likes the punches. He said we were punching “Darf Vader.” Afterward, he wanted to go for a run, so we went out for a “hike” on the trail. He ran a little and made me run a little, too. He’s a good coach.

Today, Monday, I’m feeling mostly me again. My ears, though, are still a little plugged. And I did something to my shoulder — I tossed and turned all night because of a sharp pain in it. I think it’s going away, though. Day care is closed today, so me and T Junior will workout together.

Here’s the plan for this week:

Monday: Bike ride with T Junior, and strength

Tuesday: Track repeats on the road near work

Wednesday: Swimming and strength

Thursday: Tempo run

Friday: Bike then run brick, and strength

Saturday: Long run

Sunday: Jillian video or ?

Review: Outside Interactive Pre-Paced DVD for Running on the Treadmill

A show of hands, please: Who thinks running on the treadmill is boring? (Okay, put your hand down, I can’t actually see you.)

But what is a runner to do? Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate. Or it’s too dark or too early or too late to run outside. Or we can only get in a run when our children are napping.

 

Last month, I had to run on the treadmill quite a bit (read: icy snow). I’d watched everything I had to watch on TV. I was BORED. I looked up running videos on the Internet because I wondered if there was anything pretty to look at while I ran — like scenery. I didn’t find much, but I did find Outside Interactive, a company that makes something called the “virtual runner” and pre-paced DVDs specifically for running on treadmills!

They had some preview videos on their website, www.outsideinteractive.net, so I checked out the Hopkinton to Boston 26.2 trailer. Then I ran in Central Park. This is great! I immediately contacted Outside Interactive, and was very excited when they sent me a product to try.

They sent me the Falmouth Road Race 7-mile course on a pre-paced DVD.

Here’s what Outside Interactive says about their pre-paced DVDs ($19.95; the Boston one is $39.95 and includes a bonus DVD featuring Bill Rodgers):

“Outside Interactive Pre-Paced DVDs offer an exciting new approach to treadmill running. A growing library of famous race courses, trails and popular running routes are all shot in wide-screen from a runner’s perspective allowing you to see a course as if you were actually running it. Dolby Digital Sound also captured the natural sounds while the video was being filmed.

How the pre-paced DVDs work, according to Outside Interactive:

“Pre-Paced DVDs are designed to work WITH the existing hardware you already own. No special treadmill required! You simply install the DVD into your DVD player, PC or Laptop. A series of options will appear in your menu. You will first be asked to select the speed or pace at which you would like the video to play. The current options are 7:00/mile (8.5 mph), 8:00/mile (7.5 mph), 9:00/mile (6.66 mph) or 10:00/mile (6 mph) These speeds are merely a point of reference to add to the realism of your desired pace. The audio component contains natural sounds captured when footage was shot, which are not affected by speed change. A mute option can be enabled if you wish to listen to your own music. You also have the option of starting anywhere along a given route by selecting a mile marker so a course can be broken up and covered over several runs.”

I put the DVD in my laptop and secured my laptop to my treadmill with our SurfShelf.

Outside Interactive Falmouth Road Race Course 7 Miles - Paces Screen

Then I chose my pace: 9-minute mile. Next, I decided if I wanted to run with natural sounds or with my own music.

Outside Interactive Falmouth Road Race Audio Screen

I chose to run with the natural sounds. On the next screen, I could choose to run a portion of the course — I didn’t have to run start to finish if I didn’t feel up to 7 miles on the treadmill (which I didn’t, but I chose to start at the beginning of the course for the sake of the review).

Outside Interactive Falmouth Road Race Mile Selection Screen

Once I selected, “Start,” the screen counted down so I could get my speed up to pace. Note: I chose to run about a 9:30 pace.

I was off…running in the sunshine along an oceanside road listening to waves crash. I glanced out my window. The ice-crusted snow shivered shimmered in the near-dark evening. I quickly redirected my gaze at the computer in front of me. Ahhhh.

Outside Interactive Falmouth Road Race Ocean View - Mile 1

I also ran through quaint towns and along tree-lined roads. Occasionally, a car rolled by. It was like real road running — just on the treadmill.

The video is nicely done — there’s no bouncing or anything that could potentially make you dizzy. And running at a 9:30 pace even though the video was moving at a 9-minute pace, didn’t seem to make any difference.

Having the route in front of me didn’t make me compeletely forget that I was running on a treadmill, but it was a nice change of pace from the usual junk TV I watch while running indoors. It was a lot more relaxing.

I haven’t run the complete course yet, but that’s because the weather got nicer and I was able to get back to running outdoors. But I’m glad I haven’t run the whole thing yet. That way, I’ll have something new to look at next time I run on the treadmill.

In addition to the pre-paced DVDs, Outside Interactive also has something called Virtual Runner software ($199.95; videos sold separately). Here’s what they said it is:

“Virtual Runner is an exciting new video software product developed by Outside Interactive Visual Software Solutions. It consists of software, a special footpod, USB Receiver “stick” and High Definition videos all shot from a runner’s vantage point. An optional Heart Rate Monitor is also available. Virtual Runner is designed to work WITH the existing hardware you already own. No special treadmill required! You simply install Virtual Runner on your PC or Laptop along with selected videos. You then attach the included footpod to your shoelace and plug in the USB stick to your PC or Laptop. Next, you select which video or videos wish to view and start the program. After a brief countdown, your video begins to play on your monitor or HDTV (if connected.) As you run, the footpod transmits your pace to the USB receiver. This data is read by the Virtual Runner Software, which adjusts the speed of the video based on this data. If you run faster, the video will speed up. If you slow down, the video will slow down. The audio component contains natural sounds captured when footage was shot, which are not affected by speed change. A mute option can be enabled if you wish to listen to your own music. You also have the option of starting anywhere along a given route by selecting a mile marker so a course can be broken up and covered over several runs.”

Sounds pretty cool!

Here are the other courses they have:

  • Hopkinton to Boston 26.2 Mile Run
  • Central Park 10K Run
  • Charles River 7-Mile Run
  • The TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race
  • The Falmouth Road Race Course (7 Miles)
  • To come: Exotic Destination Runs

Outside Interactive products are available on their website and on Amazon.com.

What do you do with yourself when you are on the treadmill? Would you rather A) poke your eyes out with a butter knife or B) stare at nothing while running on the treadmill?

Thursday Review! 2Toms Stink Free Sports Detergent

I stink. Yep, after I run, I stink pretty bad. I’ve tried several sports detergents to get the smell out of my running clothes, but nothing has worked as good as 2Toms Stink Free Sports Detergent.

First, something you should know: I blog for 2Toms, and I also freelance write for them. They gave me Stink Free Sports Detergent to try for free.

2Toms Stink Free Sports Detergent - The Odor EliminatorBut if I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t be writing about it. Their liquid Stink Free Sports Detergent comes in a 30-ounce bottle and costs $12.99 on their website HERE.

Trust me, I had my doubts. I’d been washing my running clothes with a sports detergent made by a well-known brand. I thought, for sure, this particular company had to know what it was doing. But all their sports detergent did was cover up the stink with a strong perfume. I could still smell the stink through the STRONG perfume scent. So I was actually really excited to try 2Toms’ Stink Free Sports Detergent. (I know a runner who uses the 2Toms Stink Free spray in her shoes. She swears by it. So I had high hopes for their sports detergent.)

2Toms sent me a box of 2-load samples of their sports detergent. I distributed some of them among my friends. (I like to share the love!) Here’s what 2Toms says about the Stink Free Sports Detergent:

• Safe on all high-performance fabrics and colors
• Residue-free
• Perfume-free
• Won’t irritate skin
• Reinstates fabric performance
• Leaves clothes naturally soft and static-free
• Safe for high-efficiency washing machines
• Washes 30 loads (contains 30 loads as measured to 1/2 cap)
• Recyclable bottle

I was particularly interested in how it reinstates fabric performance. Some of my running clothes cost a lot of money — I want them to last as long as possible!

I washed my stinky running clothes in my front-load high-efficiency washer on cold, delicates (as I always do). When they were done, I smelled them while they were still wet. I could smell a very faint soap smell, but NO STINK. I was amazed. I dried my clothes fully with an unscented dryer sheet, as I always do. Afterward, I smelled them again. They smelled like…clothes? Nothing? How is it possible for clothes to smell like nothing? But I seriously could not identify any smell!  

I have to say, I’m hooked on this product. That’s why I put a little picture of 2Toms Stink Free Sports Detergent on the sidebar of my blog — they are not paying me to do that. I just really believe in this product. So, next time you need sports detergent, log on to www.2toms.com and get something that really works instead of wasting your money on whatever perfumey product is on the shelf at the store. You can also go HERE to find out what locations carry 2Toms’ products — there may be some at a store near you!

On a scale of roses to dog poop, how bad do you smell after you run? (I’d say I’m somewhere between catalytic converter and our kitchen garbage can.)

As a Running Mom, Flexibility is Key, and I’m Not Talking About Yoga

Moms get stretched in all kinds of directions, don’t they? For the sake of this article, I’m going to use moms as the example, but we all know this applies to both parents. One minute you’re interviewing local dignitaries on the phone, the next you’re fishing a Hot Wheels car out of a toilet. One minute you’re doing track repeats, the next minute scrubbing dog poop out of the carpet. (No? Just me?)

Yep, us moms and dads have a lot going on. Which is why we also need to be flexible with our workouts. We NEED to have time for ourselves like I talked about in yesterday’s post in which I was angry, but of course, life happens. Kids happen. Work happens. Date nights happen. (Am I the only one who always arranges long runs on the same days as date nights? I doubt it.)

You know what else happens? Running buddies. Monday night, I had a text from Mel: “Run this week?” I’ve been so focused on my 5K training that it hasn’t left a lot of time for running with my buddies. I miss it. I texted her back: “Yes!” I incorporated the run into my plan. I would just swim and run on Tuesday. Yeah, that’s it.

But when 5 a.m. rolled around Tuesday, the swimming seemed excessive. I would already be running. I should sleep in…for 15 minutes. Yeah, that’s it.

And…my workout plan for the week changed. Now, I would have a nice run Tuesday. I’d move my swim to Wednesday and I’d do my tempo on Thursday. So flexible! It’s part of what I like about the Run Less Run Faster training. There are only 3 runs per week, so moving them around to accommodate my schedule and how I feel is easy!

Tuesday’s Run Recap

Mel (Tall Mom on the Run) and I met for a nice, conversational run during lunch. It was so refreshing! Yes, the weather was crappy, but who cares when you’re running with friends, right? She offered to run faster, but I told her I needed to take it easy since it was technically an “off” day.

Still. I logged 3.5 miles in 32 minutes (a 9:08 pace).

 

Wednesday’s Swim Recap

And on Wednesday, I went to the pool closer to my house, the CAC. Its lap swim hours don’t work for me on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but after this morning, I’m going to work around the pool’s schedule. The CAC is so much nicer than the one near work. The staff is superfriendly and it’s a lot cleaner.

At the pool near work, I barely get a grunt from the lifeguard/money-taker woman, who is probably, I’d guess, in her 40s. At the CAC, I was barely in the door and the young woman behind the cash register, sang, “Good Morning!” As I walked by the lifeguard, another young woman, she smiled and also wished me a good morning. Even the older lady who was changing in the locker room when I left told me to have a good day! I never hear a peep out of anyone at the other pool.

I think I will happily pay two dollars more, $6.50 (yes, $6.50!), to swim at the CAC. Customer service is still worth something these days, people!

I also got a lane to myself at the CAC. And you know how I feel about that.

Today’s workout was:

  • 50 free warm up
  • 3x this set: 25 easy, 25 fast; 50 easy, 50 fast; 75 easy, 75 fast; 50 easy, 50 fast; 25 easy, 25 fast
  • 150 cool down (combo breast stroke, back, free)

Do you have a favorite gym or pool? What makes it your favorite? How much do you pay per swim? And are you a flexible runner? Or do you hate changing your schedule?

Moms Have Dreams, Too

I almost forgot about myself after my son was born. I almost just let myself go, which I think has more meaning than simply letting one’s appearance “go.” It’s letting go of any hopes and dreams for yourself.

Luckily, I had a wake-up call.

I may be unpopular for saying this, but being a mom is NOT ALL ABOUT YOUR KIDS. Yes, it is A LOT about your kids, but it is NOT ALL. And being a wife is NOT ALL ABOUT YOUR HUSBAND. It’s not about everything they want, and dream.

MOMS HAVE DREAMS, TOO!

(This works both ways, by the way. Dads also have dreams! It’s just, in general, they’re better about making time for them.)

Have you read this New York Times article about the amazing Olympic swimmer Janet Evans? Growing up, I was a swimmer. She was an inspiration to me. For crying out loud, she won three gold medals at the age of 17 in the ’88 Olympics and another gold in 1992. She STILL holds the American record in the 800-meter free, which she set in 1989.

Janet Evans is now 40. And she’s still an inspiration! She’s been on a 14-year hiatus, during which she had two children. She’s making a comeback, and will swim in the Olympic trials in June.

People are saying she’s a long-shot, but in the NYT article she said she doesn’t care. For her, it’s more about the experience of making it to the trials and even competing at age 40 and after having children.

“‘I struggled with turning 40,” Evans said (in the article). ‘It was a hard birthday for me. Someone said to me, “How do you feel now that your life is half over?” I wasn’t ready to accept that it was all downhill from here. As a mom, you put so many things on the back burner. For me to find time to train, it was like this gift I could give myself. I think it can come out selfishly to say that, but it was something I could do for myself to feel good about being middle-aged, for lack of a better word.'”

I loved this. You don’t have to WIN the race to WIN. Even a 4-time Olympic gold medalist gets it! But then I read this:

“Evans said she had been criticized on social networking sites for training when she should be home with her children.”

Are you freaking kidding me? Is this freaking for real? WHO said this? WHO?! I HOPE it was not other moms because shame on them. First of all, worry about yourself. Second of all, if Janet Evans’s name was Jim Evans and she was a dad, would ANYONE have said this? I was SO MAD when I read this. Still mad. My heart is beating faster thinking about it.

In the article, Janet says she gets up early and swims from 5:30-7:30 “so she can make it home in time for breakfast.” I do this. I run on my lunch hour or get up and swim at 5:30, 6 a.m. Or, occasionally, my 3-1/2-year-old son rides along in the bike trailer. But sometimes, on the days I don’t work in an office, I drop T Junior off at daycare so I can work and work out. I know there are people who probably think I’m a bad mom for doing that. Even I struggle with it. But I need a little time to myself, too, to work on my dreams. (And my dreams don’t involve cleaning my house or cooking or running errands.)

Me and Zoe, MOMS, completing 26.2 miles -- a dream for both of us.

Swimming in the trials is something Janet wants to do again at age 40. It’s her dream right now. But swimming is also basically her job (or one of them). Right? Do dad professional athletes feel like they need to get their “job” done before 7:30 in the morning?

I don’t want to make this about women vs. men because it’s not the dudes I’m mad at. They do what they have to do. What I’m angry about it is all the critics who feel they have a right to make assumptions about the time a female professional athlete, who also happens to be a mom, spends “working” on her career. On her dream.

What year is it? Did the criticism about Janet spending time on training get your blood boiling, too? What are your dreams? How are you making time to work on acheiving them?

Don’t Let Fences Stop You

I met Zoe (Run, Zoe, Run) at the track Monday in the middle of the day because it was President’s Day. And wouldn’t you know it, the gates were locked. It was all fenced up.

But we jumped that mofo.

Okay, I probably wouldn’t have done this if I was alone. I am a chicken. I may have been inspired by a certain brave running buddy who explores burned down abandoned houses and other random creepy things.

But we all have fences — things that keep us from acheiving our goals. Monday’s goals just happened to be 4 1200-meter repeats. Friday it was a torrential downpour during my first brick. Saturday it was the thought of 7 miles in cold, cold rain.

A friend and former coworker, K, I haven’t seen since the last time we ran way back in, I think, early 2011 posted on Facebook that she had four miles and was looking for a buddy to run with her. I had 7, so we planned to meet up and run together. It was the day after my brick. The Run Less Run Faster training plan prescribes faster times than most other plans do for long runs, and mine is an 8:43.

I knew I could do it, but I wasn’t sure how hard it would be the day after the bike-run combo. And when I came downstairs to sideways rain, I was not excited. Especially since I’d just done my workout in a downpour on Friday! I ran back upstairs, changed my jacket and got my behind in the car before I could change my mind. And, I didn’t want to leave my friend hanging, either!

We got to running and it was so, so cold. Colder than Friday and the wind was blowing the rain in our faces, and it was just miserable weather. The cold air hurt our lungs and our quick pace made it hard to chat, at first. BUT to my GREAT surprise, we were often going faster than an 8:43. I repeatedly slowed us down. And my friend, K, who does not normally run with the knowledge of her pace, did beautifully. After 4, I dropped her off, and headed back out on the Cedar River Trail.

We’d met on the pretty part, and I realized I’d forgotten to take our picture. But as I passed waterfall after waterfall, I had to stop and take a self-portrait in front of one. Everything was so green, and the rain had calmed down. And the water sounded so amazing — the river to my left and the falls to my right.

Notice the Nuun hat! So excited to be a Nuun Ambassador. Nuun truly is a great product and the people who work there also are amazing. Happy to be part of the collective Nuun Team!

7 miles in 60:25 (8:37 pace): Not too shabby!

Then there was Sunday. Mr. T was in the kitchen cookin’ up a Mardi Gras Feast! I needed to burn some calories! So I hopped on my bike for my second brick! This time, I left from my house, so the first 3 miles (and the last 3) were on dirt and rock trail. The other part was on the same out-and-back I did on my first brick on Friday. I also learned it takes the same amount of time to bike to that location as it does to DRIVE there. Dude!

This was a longer ride than I’m used. I don’t know if I’ve done this long of a ride. Ever. And the ride’s elevation was brutal — a gradual 400-foot decline, which meant…you guessed it:

It took me a long time to go 12.96 miles: 1:08:35. Well, the first half was a breeze. When I turned around I discovered I’d be riding the second half IN the breeze. Ugh. The second half was ROUGH. And my feet, again, were frozen inside well-vented running shoes. Yet, somehow, I made it home. And I COULD HAVE decided to skip the planned 10-minute run afterward. After all, I couldn’t feel my feet.

But, “NO!” I said inside my head again. I was determined. I automatically ran back down on the trail and instantly regretted it. The trail has a lot of loose rock and my legs were already jelly from over an hour on the bike, I turned and headed back out to the asphalt where I knew my chances of rolling an ankle were much lower. The run went by pretty quick and my feet thawed by the time I turned back on my street. 1.2 miles in 10:51 (a 9-minute pace).

And then there was today. Cold, cold drizzle. Ew. But up and over the fence I went (after Zoe, of course).

This was after the workout…with jelly legs.

The track workout, itself, was very, very hard, and I was so grateful to have this lady there, who is always encouraging and pushing me (over fences!):

RLRF called for 10 minute warm up, 4 x 1,200-meter (.75 of a mile) repeats in 5:39 (roughly a 7:32 pace) followed by 400 meter Rest Intervals (walk/jog), then a cooldown. Like I said, these were HARD. Results:

  • Repeat 1: 5:39 (Booyah! It didn’t hurt too bad once I got into a rhythm.)
  • Repeat 2: 5:40 (I wished my lungs were stronger. Felt like they couldn’t keep up with my legs.)
  • Repeat 3: 5:38 (I saw what looked like a baseball coach and I thought he would try to kick us off of the track. This caused me to push it on the last quarter mile.)
  • Repeat 4: 5:39 (Jelly legs! Felt super slow.)

Post-workout Zoe and I were on FIRE! Not really, but the steam WAS rolling off of us as we stretched under the eaves of the snack bar. She tried to take a picture, but yeah, it didn’t show up.

A note on that Brooks jacket above. I love it. It kept me warm, but not too warm in the cold rain at the track. Mel of Tall Mom on the Run (another of my awesome running buddies!) gave it to me. It’s an awesome jacket. However, I have a long torso. I wish there were some longer jackets and shirts for long-torso girls, so if anyone out there who makes running clothes is listening, don’t forget about us! Also, just as a woman, running tights can get a little “showy,” so longer shirts and jackets could help us be a little more modest, too. M’kay? Thanks for listening!

Real quick, the plan for the week:

Monday: 4×1200-repeats at a 7:32 pace

Tuesday: Swim, 3-miles with Mel, strength

Wednesday: 1 mile warmup, 3 miles at Short Tempo (8:16) pace, 1 mile cooldown

Thursday: Swim and strength

Friday: Swim (with Chelsea) and strength

Saturday: 7-mile long run at an 8:43 pace

Sunday: Bike and run (because I love bricks!)

Have you tried a brick yet? What are you waiting for? Do you have a long torso? What brand makes your favorite running jackets/shirts?

My First “Brick”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do our workouts whenever we wanted? And in perfect conditions?

And wouldn’t it be nice if money grew on trees?

I was sitting with my laptop in my running clothes calling sources for an article I was working on Friday afternoon. Outside, the sun came out from behind the clouds. “Wow,” I thought, “Maybe it won’t rain after all.” I should’ve packed up my bike and drove to the trail right then, but I wanted to get my work done first. Basically, I was using my workout as a reward.

So about an hour later, I was on my way to the trail. As usual, I was on a tight schedule, so I just drove to the section of the Cedar River Trail closest to me. A few sprinkles dotted my windshield. The clouds were low, their bellies black. Not a good sign, but this is the time I had for exercise. I would just have to deal.

I got going on the first part of my workout: biking. The Run Less Run Faster book’s cross training workouts always call for the bike portion to be done a stationary bike. I don’t have access to one. I have my mountain bike. Besides, I would rather be outside. The workout called for, basically, a 40-minute bike ride followed by a 10-minute run. I was really excited to try this “brick” workout because it resembles what I’ll be doing when I officially begin to train for a triathlon this summer. (Here’s a short explanation of “what is a brick,” in case you are wondering.)

So, I got started on the bike. The plan was to do two out-and-backs. There’s a stoplight and a road crossing a little over 2.5 miles from where I parked. I didn’t want to deal with waiting at the light, and I didn’t want to get too far away from my car in case something happened and I needed to get back on foot.

The “out” is slightly downhill and so the “back” is slightly uphill. If I thought it was noticeable on foot, it’s really noticeable on the bike.

But I knew I this so I was mentally prepared for it. Besides it’s MUCH harder when I’ve got a kid in a trailer behind me.

Yet I was missing the kid in the trailer right away. Having my son in the trailer behind me is like my biking security blanket. First of all, it gives me a reason to go slower. I just can’t go much faster than 10 mph when I have all that extra weight behind me. Second, because I’m going slower, if I fall, it won’t hurt as bad.

The first “out” was scary. I was going 15-16 mph and there was a slight vibration in the tires that I think is the trail because it went away. But I was constantly worried a tire was going to blow or something and I was going to go flying off my bike. After about 5 minutes, I started to get more comfortable and realized that I wasn’t working very hard, so I changed the gears to make the pedaling a little more challenging. I need to learn what the gears mean and when it’s appropriate to change them.

I also need to check the weather. Just as I was settling into the bike, those black clouds got serious and big rain began falling in sheets. Not your typical Seattle rainy mist, which is what I was expecting. Nope, these were big, cold drops. “Riding a bike in the rain,” I thought, “is a lot like skiing in the rain. It sucks.”

The wind picked up when I turned around at the light to go back uphill. And so it went. Wind, downpour. But I wasn’t going to let a storm ruin it. Admittedly, it was pretty miserable. My clothes were wet and heavy during the second out and back.

When I was almost done with the bike, I saw a strange figure about a quarter-mile up ahead of me off to the side of the slphalt trail — on the grass along side it. But my glasses were half-fogged and splattered with rain. I thought it might be someone on a horse.

As I got closer, and it got closer to me, I saw that it was someone on a horse! They were galloping and the woman’s rain gear was flying out behind her. I wish I could’ve taken a picture. It was awesome. We waved as we passed each other.

I was almost done with this very wet bike portion of my workout. My feet were soaked. My pants and my shirt were heavy with rain. And I realized I’d not packed a hat.

“I will not be deterred!” I exclaimed in my head. I felt like this guy:

(That’s from Caddyshack in case you are wondering.)

Got off my bike, rolled it into the back of my van, took a couple pictures, found a headband (it’ll work), and hit the trail. Earlier, on my first bike “leg,” I’d seen a female runner, but it looked like she was about done. Other than that, I’d just seen the horse lady.

So, yeah. I was the only crazy left. Running in a downpour in heavy, soaked clothes. With no hat. But I shouldn’t have been worried about my head. Nope. Should’ve been worried about my feet. My poor, frozen feet. Well-vented running shoes on a bike in the rain. Not good.

And toes? What toes? Did I have toes? Each time a foot hit the ground felt like an ice block hitting the ground. Brick feet? My legs, tired from biking, felt heavy and slow. Yet, when I looked at my watch, I saw 8:30, 8:24. What the? I did not expect that.

I also did not expect to love doing this brick so much! (So much, in fact, I would do another two days later…)

As Jill said when I text her this picture: "Thumb's up is a good sign!"

Ever tried a brick workout? What are the worst conditions you’ve ever completed a workout in?