Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Amazing Power of Coffee

I started writing this post two months ago and put it away for a while, but I think it's about time I talk about my amazing "discovery".  I feel like I'm the last person to figure this out, but I'm sure there are others who have yet to discover this.

I didn't start drinking espresso or coffee until a few years ago.  I was "instructed" back in 1999 not to start drinking it because once you start, you're "hooked and doomed".  So I followed that advice for years and didn't touch the stuff.  When I finally broke into it, I started with espresso (and lots of milk, a.k.a. latte) occasionally on the weekends; nothing regular.  Then I added in the occasional coffee (lots of milk, again) and found that it wasn't so bad either.  I've graduated to straight espresso or coffee if it's a really rough day, but most of the time I put in plenty of milk.  Either way, I probably take in a coffee beverage no more than once per week most weeks, so I'm a recreational user.

I never understood why runners would talk about having a cup of coffee before their morning races.  I always though that was bizarre that they would do such a thing like take in caffeine before a race, especially a short race.  What I didn't know about was the wonderful property that coffee has to get "things" moving in a short period.  It wasn't until I drank some coffee to intentionally get things moving one morning that the lightbulb came on - it's not the caffeine, ah ha!  Nothing is more stressful than trying to find a spot-a-pot minutes before a race, and coffee is a great way to take care of business before leaving the comfort of your home/hotel room.  So from now on, I'll be joining the thousands of racers who already know about this and adding a cup of coffee to my pre-race routine.  And now you know too (if you didn't already).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recovery and Replan

Earlier this year I was up to my elbows with my satellite working to iron out all the Mission Operations procedures and scripts.  The on-orbit checkout was to take 45 days and I was ready to put my nose to the grindstone and make it happen.  Unfortunately this meant that I was unable to run any races in the early part of this year because I wouldn't have time to train until mid-April at the earliest.  Well, due to a launch vehicle failure on March 4th, I suddenly have copious amounts of training time and a broken heart that needs mending and a highly-structured lifestyle.

Last week I started considering the Frederick Half-Marathon.  I did this race last year and was familiar with this territory; I was just a few weeks short of my original 12-week training plan and needed to kick things into gear ASAP.  I took this past week to seriously think about the training schedule and such, and signed up yesterday with the confidence that I could pull this out in eight weeks.  After all, my biggest issue last year was the amount of taper I ended up taking (two weeks) which knocked me off my mental game for the race.  So, here goes nothing!  Two races on the books; eight weeks to train for the first.