Thursday, June 28, 2012

cardio junkie phase

Base Building
I’m back in my base building, cardio junkie stage!!   When I got back from Taipei, I gave myself the week to relax and recharge mentally and physically.  I was planning on running the day I got back but I was utterly exhausted so I crashed on the couch instead and rambled on and on about my trip to my parents, a nice relaxing evening.  The rest of the week, I played it by ear and listened to what my body wanted to do.  If it wanted to spin and run then that’s what I did but if it was feeling beat up and tired, I gave it a rest day.  I think it appreciated the easy recovery week because now I’m back to smashing it to smithereens!!
My base building phase might be slightly different than other climbers and athletes, especially this year.   I’m putting in plenty of hours but I’m desperately trying not to lose stair fitness / specificity at the same time, I’m not letting myself get totally swept up in the road racing season.  I barely have any running goals which seems incredibly strange to me, I’ve probably said that several times.  and I haven’t had the desire to take my road bike out of the garage yet either so not sure if I’ll do any duathlons like I did last year.  I’m just not that into biking, last year I swept into the hype of it all but really, I’m no good on the bike; it is definitely not my sport.  My power to weight ratio is killer so give me a hill and I’m game but flat open roads, eh, my speed leaves much to be desired.  I mean don’t get me wrong, I can hold my own in a race but it’s really not my thing.  Anyways, I need to take my bike out; the thought of it collecting dust and cobwebs in my garage is annoying to me since I paid a decent chunk of cash for it.  I’ve been enjoying the spin bike, I can listen to my tunes and just spin away, lets me hit my stair specific routine that I’ve grown accustomed too.   But yea, gotta take that bike out at least once a week.
Kiss Those Chicken Arms (Cheap Plastic Squirt Guns) Goodbye!

chicken arm before pictures
I told a cool fast running friend of mine that I wanted to get some muscle on my arms, he told me that I didnt need any kind of massive machine guns but that some muscle might be good.  He said right now my arms are comparable to squirt guns, like the cheap plastic ones that barely shoot any water, gee thanks, I appreciate the compliment.  I asked if they were equal to the squirting bath animals kids play with in the tub, at least he said I'm stronger than that.  So the verdict was that I needed to reach supersoaker level by sears so thats my goal!! 

To get there, I’m incorporating some strength training into my routine.  When Sears rolls around in November, I want these arms to take some weight off my legs when they wanna give up and collapse on floor 80 or 90.   I started doing pushups and some curls; boy was my chest feeling it after that first night of pushups.  I did 50 of them, 5 sets of 10.  Started off alright but the last few of the latter sets really started to get to me.  Not only was my chest sore but my abs.  Sore abs are quite unpleasant, you can’t even get up out of bed or laugh for that matter, haha.  I was sore when I attempted the curls next day but I got through it.  My goal was to hit the pushup and curl routine twice a week but I was still sore when the 2nd attempt rolled around and I barely made 10 pushups.  It didn’t help that I woke up with some pinched nerve in my back that makes me feel a tingling sensation, didn’t think pushups were the best idea for that either.   It’s still bothering me a week later…
I’ve been eyeing the rowing machine at the gym, I know a few other superb climbers who used it so thought I might as well toss it into the repertoire.   It’s a good full body workout and would certainly help strengthen and tone my arms.  I’ve never used it before so it was totally new to me, wasn’t sure how fast to go or how hard, 5 minutes was about all I could handle.  I took a break and hit another 5, finished up my first day with 15 minutes total.  I thought that was good considering I still had to do some spinning and a 7 mile run in 90 degree heat.  That night when I got home, I did the pushups, quite the day!
The next time I cranked it out on the rower, I decided that I do 5 minutes rowing then run for 5 minutes, seemed like a nice active recovery.  I did that for an hour!  By the time the last few rowing sessions hit me, my butt was sore from the hard plastic seat (maybe I should bring a cushion to sit on, ha) and my hands were getting blistered/callused.   Geesh, who know a rowing machine could be so violent.  I hit the rowing machine for a 3rd time a few days later and made it for 15 minutes straight!!  Now we’re talking, say good-bye chicken arms.   I did another set of 5 x 10 pushups, it’s kinda tricky when your cat keeps weaving under you and rubbing her head against your arms and legs.  She always wants to be where the action is.  I used to do pushups and sit-ups every morning before I left for work and then every night before I went to bed, she was always crawling around and on top of me, I think I bumped her in the head a few times. 
I’m still tossing a few key stair training components into my routine on a weekly basis, I may not be hitting them daily but I’m still keeping them in there.  The stairwell is still getting use; I’m in there once or twice a week.  My times don’t matter; I just don’t want my mind and body to forget what it’s like to go vertical all the time.  Gotta keep the pain and suffering fresh in my memory.    I’ve been using my dinky stairwell recently, its only 14 floors and it’s got some short steps, seems easy, ha.  But I gotta walk down, the first day left one of my calves feeling obliterated but now I found out I can sneak out on floor 8 so at least that gives me some relief from the torture of climbing down. 
Oval Oven and Running in the Woods
Now that I’m not in the stairwell all the time, I can socialize with my running friends on Fast Track Racing Team (the best running team around!), the flatlanders, those who prefer to go horizontal instead of vertical.  I think plenty of them are interested in stairs but haven’t actually got them in the stairwell yet, it’ll happen eventually.  I’ve had some excellent track workouts, hitting decent splits for my intervals and having fun with it.  I’m not super concerned on my times or whether I’m in the front or back because I don’t have tons of running goals.  Makes it more enjoyable, I wanna hang with some cool people and get in some mileage. 
I’m not really sure why I’ve had so many freakish track workouts.  I’m hitting really good times when its 90 degrees and the sun is blaring down on the track.  Maybe it’s the fast company that I keep and the encouragement of my teammates but dang, it’s kinda surprising to me.  The quicker pace has felt relaxed and manageable; I haven’t felt like I’ve wanted to keel over from exertion, hmmm, interesting.   The workouts are a bit much, 5 miles of speed is way more than I need to do so I usually cut it down to about 3 miles (toss on a few miles WU/CD to make it to 6-7 for the night) so maybe that’s why I’m speedier.  I’m doing less but making em faster, either way I’ve been feeling good.  I’m not used to being a front runner in the group, kinda strange having people chase me but in a way I like it.
I’m also able to do weekend runs with folks, I enjoy our weekend runs followed by breakfast or loitering at Starbucks for an extended period of time.  When we say our good-byes they all head home to their families or other fun things and I’m usually off to the gym or stairwell for my 2nd workout but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 
A few months back, I hit a trail with a few of the faster runners on our team, they said it was an easy fun run so I was worried about getting left behind but figured I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a hilly trail run and there were outdoor stairs!!!  Now, I really couldn’t let that slip through my fingers.  We took off and the pace was pretty relaxing, I didn’t get dropped and I was loving the trail.  It was totally shaded, had rolling hills and even some major ones.  Then we got to the stairs, some were different heights and all sorts of people were walking up and down.  I took off “running”, these were nowhere close to Culver but they were still rough.  I was worried some of the runner guys would beat me to the top but I held on for the win.  They were all huffing and puffing, swearing and saying never again.  I said the stairwell easier, the steps are uniform and you can use the rail for support and I don’t actually run the steps either!  We took off on our run again and approached a long snaking hill; of course I was favorite expected to reach the top first.  I just cruised along, I wasn’t the first to get there but when I did approached the top, I saw them just standing around trying to catch their breath, I just continued on my merry way :)  ah the joys of being a vertical runner!  That was one of my favorite runs this year and I can’t wait to get back there!!  The trail was amazing, I wish it was closer so I could go there all the time and I had such great people to run with along the way, made it even better. 
Road Racing
I hit a PR in the 5k several weeks ago but since then I haven’t actually raced any races.  I’ve gone to a couple and paced people just because I wanted to be social and get in a good workout.  I like not having the pressure of running my fastest or placing in my age group.  It’s a good feeling to just go out and run, pace someone else, etc.  The most recent race I did was a 5 miler in Downer’s Grove, I couldn’t decide whether or not I wanted to go but then I found out it had rolling hills.  I’m totally game, can’t miss out on that.  I got up, grabbed a Starbucks and hit the road.  My calf was killing me from that whole going down the stairs business so I was glad I wasn’t actually racing.  Brad kept telling me that I should pace him; I had to keep shooting him down since he’s the same pace as me.  Plus I wasn’t registered so I didn’t wanna end up racing and doing really well, haha.   I started off with a few of the girls on my team and just ended up sticking with them.  I ended up with a 7:00 pace which is almost like a tempo effort so that’s good for 5 miles, I tossed in an extended WU and CD, ended up with about 10 miles for the morning. 
Went to breakfast with the cool kids, egg harbor in fact.  I love the oatmeal there but with the whole raw veganism thing going on, I couldn’t have it.  I asked for this fruit, nut, granola thing without the yogurt and it was delicious.  Drizzled on some maple syrup, awesome.  The company at breakfast was awesome as usual, gotta love it. 
After that, I did another bike workout.  10 miles wasn’t good enough, I’m obsessed I know. 
Blah blah blah
I didn’t really have much to say in this blog nor did I know what I would really write about but stair climb lunatic (ie jeff dinkin) requested one so figured I’d better give my fans what they want!  Don’t want anyone turning against me. 
I have a few cool races coming up in July.  There’s 4 on the 4th, not sure if im actually racing this one though.  Then there’s the Grayslake 5k on July 14th, I really wanna shine there!!  the week after I have waterfall glen extreme 10, a 10 mile trail run filled with hills, mud, bugs, etc, I’m so gonna love it!! 
Just trying to keep it real until September when I head to Italy.  I signed up for Sears, gotta stay focused on that one.  The past 2 years that tower has caught me off guard and I haven’t had my best races, I wanna take it down this year.  I wanna come in uber prepared and just smash it.  I have something to prove in that tower.  I don’t wanna get distracted, gotta keep my eyes looking forward. 


  1. That was some good, sound advice from the "cool fast running friend!" Although I thought you were going for BB Guns before Sears Tower? Perhaps if BB Guns are unattainable in that time, then air soft guns would definitely help! After Sears Tower we can discuss the next step after BB Guns, which I believe to be .22 caliber. haha!

  2. you seem to know a lot about different guns, haha. i will shoot (ha nice pun!) for BB guns, that'll be my target. supersoakers are lame. the bigger towers definetly need more arm power so gotta get these things loaded and ready to go!