Monthly Archives: February 2007

2/28/07 Channeling the Swim

Wednesday.  Okay starting to feel recovered although I can still feel my hamstrings from the weekend.  Yesterday our workout was three, easy lower loops of the park.  Was a weird to run slower than I usually do ON PURPOSE.  Charlee, Mo and I met in the park.  I knew walking up to the park with Mo that my legs were still sore (sore, is that the right word?  tight? leaden? tired?)  I wasn’t in pain, I was just acutely aware of the lead implants that had replaced my hamstrings despite a lot of stretching and resting on Monday.

We took the first loop as a very slow warmup and the three of us just chatted as I tried to work out my hamstrings.   Our goal for the three loops was to not go over a heart rate of 130.  Easy peasy I thought — slow running is what I do best, right?  Hmmm, so why wasn’t it so easy?

We were to do timed miles on the inner loop not less then 2 minutes SLOWER than our marathon pace.  Well, that can’t apply to me because 2 minutes SLOWER than my marathon pace is lying in bed eating Captain Crunch and watching Cartoons.   So we went by heartrate and effort.  The first mile we timed was a 13:35 and it was an easy effort (which is strange because it made me wonder why my 1/2 marathon effort comes out as a 13 minute mile, but whatever….)  I think once you are in the back-of-the-pack world the math ratios change quite a bit, but I also think the principle remains the same — recovery effort is required to allow your muscles to really get over the stress of the weekend but at the same time remember that they are still working.

So of course the further I went along the three loops the faster I wanted to go.  “Okay, I’m all warmed up now, we can go faster” I told Charlee.  “Oh nooooo, you don’t GET to go faster today.  This is it.  130 the entire way.  Recovery only.  Even footfall.”  She admonished.  Harumph.  Should be easy right?  Well it started to become hard to stay at that rate.  Every time my heartrate tried to creep up to 135 we had to back off.  Oh c’mon, let’s just get this over with, if you let me run faster we’d be done already and we can go have breakfast!!  (OMG, I’m channeling Melissa!!  That’s what she says to herself during races — the faster you go, the faster you’re done! Which I could never comprehend.)  Okay, okay, I’ll hold back but really, really, I could run faster if you would just let me.  “No.”  Charlee repeats.  Geesh.

Charlee told me about one of the female swimmer’s she admires is Lynne Cox who wrote the book “Swimming to Antartica.” In the book, Cox tells the story of how in her earlier swimming days she was one of the slower swimmers in her group.  By the time she finished her lap, everyone in her lane was finished with their 5 or 10 second rest so she felt obliged to keep going to keep up.  She never got faster.  Finally one day the coach told her that unless she learned to rest and recover she was never going to get faster.  She finally started taking her rests and voila!  She got faster.

This story means a lot to me, not only because the exact same thing happened to me when I tried to join the masters swim class two years ago (Everyone got a rest but me!) but because as a back of the packer, the difference between recovery pace and racing pace is so minimal that we often overlook even trying to attempt recovery pace.  Like everyone, our goals are to get faster but we feel we are so far out on the bell curve that we can’t afford to run slower.  Back of the packers often translate their frustration at running slower into run longer, run longer, run longer.  Also, we are ALLOWED to run our own pace because we are usually so far behind everyone that we don’t have people to spur us on.  So the concept of a resting or recovery pace seems irrelevent.  If I go any slower, I’ll be going backwards, I find myself thinking.  Or worse, I’ll be walking (which is very underrated.)

I guess I’ve thought over the last couple of years where I’ve been training that I have never pushed myself to the same levels of exhuastion that the other athletes so I didn’t DESERVE a rest or recovery.  That might have come back to bite me in the asphalt.  Perhaps if I had taken rest and recovery more seriously I might have become a little faster instead of using the downtime to catch up on mileage or practice more.  I often think of that line that someone said “practicing for many hours at a slow pace just makes you good at running many hours at a slow pace.”

In summer of 2006 I definitely started to try to increase my pace in my training, but I can’t say I tried to incorporate a lot of rest and recovery.  As I said, I never really felt like I deserved it.  I took rest when I got totally exhuasted but it was never calculated.  I’m sure I pressed on many weeks when I should have pulled back.   This concept of recovery pace — forcing myself to run at that pace that I have fought so hard to get away from feels counter-intuitive.  I understand the need for rest — I just figured that meant the couch, not running at a 13:30.  Run a 13:30 on purpose?  Are you nuts?  But that’s what I did yesterday.  Counter-intuitive or no.  Assignment completed — we’ll wait for the grade during the Brooklyn half.

So today we have a swim without pushups!!  Yippee!!  (I get so embarassed having to get out of the pool and demonstrate my lamo pushups but Marisol’s voice is on permanent record in my heading yelling at me so I always have to do them.)   I also don’t have to do any leg strength today, just core so that makes it a somewhat easier day.    I guess we are preparing for some over-gearing tomorrow on the bike so we’ll need our leg strength.  A nice soak in the jacuzzi sounds like something the doctor ordered so that will be on the agenda too.  I’m glad we have Wednesday as a swim day — it works nicely as a kind of recovery day (as long as we are not doing pushups and squats and lunges!)

Food is going okay.  I need to stock up on some supplies so I’m off to the store for that.  I’m really trying to focus on healthy and strong and not the “D” word.  I’m starting to feel a little shift in my attitude and focus.  I’ve been using the phrase “what is my intention with this food” for over a week now and it has really been revealing a lot to me.   I’m still working on the visualization and position intention of a healthy and strong athlete. 

My scale shows a weight loss right now, but I’ve seen that before.  A big drop when I come off a big weekend and then a slow rise back up.  Let’s see if I can just keep it down by throwing in a lot of extra fruit and veggies this week and stay away from processed foods like energy bars and the like.  The real test comes on Friday at my next weigh-in.

Speaking of nutrition.  I think I had a decent result with my new customized nutrition over the weekend. I did feel a little stomach cramping but I’m not sure if that was the formula or the indoor workout.  After the weekend I was talking about the strange amount of energy I seemed to have after my workout on Saturday, I realized the only new factor was my new nutrition.  So I’m going to give them a call and see if they can modify the formula a little to make it a little less hard on my stomach and keep that same level of energy.  I will say this — it’s a lot easier to drink my calories than eat them.  It was so easy to just line up the bottles of nutrition and drink my way through the workout instead of fumbling and fighting with opening packs and gels.

Oh yeah, one other thing, Donald wants me to remind everyone that Engineer’s DO know how Bumblebees fly — it’s just they are not telling anyone…. lol  (sorry Donald, just had to throw that in there.)

Finally, several people have asked if it is okay if they can leave comments on my blog.  Go ahead, if I don’t like what you write, I’ll delete it!  (Just kidding….. kind of…..)  All you have to do is click on the words “Comments” at the end of the blog entry and comment away!  (If it says “no comments” just click on those words).  Keep it clean though — this is a PG blog!!


I’ve mentioned Gertrude Ederle before — she is my swimming idol and the spirit I will try to “channel” in my swim in July.  In 1926 she was the first woman to swim the English Channel — and the first person to do it by crawl.  She was called “America’s best girl.”   I like how she describes how she feels out in the ocean — it made me feel better to know that she too talked to the water…

To me, the sea is like a person – like a child that I’ve known a long time. It sounds crazy, I know, but when I swim in the sea I talk to it. I never feel alone when I’m out there.” Gertrude Ederle

Nothing crazy about that Gertrude, besides, we like crazy round here!

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2/26/07 Training Camp #4 & Other stuff

Monday.  Well made it through Training Camp #4, slightly sore this morning but I’ve lived through worse.  Not pain, just a little stiffness and nothing my massage gal Lesley can’t fix up (Lucky for meI had scheduled a massage before I left just in case!)  On a scale of 1-10 I would say the first day appeared to be a 7 — above average hard but nothing I felt wiped out about or couldn’t do.  The run on Sunday might have been the hardest run I’ve ever done, giving it a 9 because 10’s are reserved for future challenges.  

My difficulties were due not so much to the terrain but due more to the residual muscle fatigue and the cold, cold (okay throw another cold in there) weather.   The casual observer might think tieing tires to our waists and running while dragging them up a mountain would be the hard part — honestly I think the weather was the hard part.  It taxed every part of me — mind, body and spirit.  Good thing I came well equipped right off of a great WW meeting on Friday that in a weird way got me through the camp.

Friday was a special meeting at Weight Watchers — we said goodbye to one of our members who is moving to Colorado (Bolder Boulder run in our future?)  We’ve become more than a meeting group, more than a therapy group, we really root for one another and have each other’s backs so I would call us more like a family.  Two years now I’ve been going to my Friday morning meetings.  I was actually up .2 pound this week but I’m okay with it — I have a feeling this week we’ll see me down.  (It’s a recoveryish week in training and I always seem to lose weight during recovery weeks — will expand on my theory as to why that is another time.)

The Bee story (you know by all principles of aerodynamics the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly but nobody told the bee so it does anyway) has become a kind of mantra for our group.  One of the gals has labeled us the hive, we keep coming up with corny sayings like “Be the Bee” and “Bee-lieve.”  Soon we will have gone over the edge with abusing this metaphor but for right now we are getting our money’s worth out of it.  Before leaving for out west, our friend made us all book marks with an illustration of a hive and some inspirational quotes on it.  It’s really lovely so I’ve attached it to the handle bar of my refrigerator right above my picture of Natasha Badmann (a great Ironman Athlete who inspires me because she is always smiling — and winning!)

As usual when someone leaves the group we start to ask them for some parting wisdom and then we all start throwing out our own pearls.  Sometimes something sticks for all the right reasons.  We talked about the technique of the one-minute-motivator (what do you want to have happen? what must you do to make that happen?  can you? will you?)   It’s a very powerful technique that I have learned can get you out of more than just an eating slump — you can use it for anything.

One of the gals shouted out “Feedback, not Failure.”  We talked a bit about separating actions from identity.  For example there is a big difference between saying, “I’m an overeater” — that’s an identity, vs. “Last night I overate” which is an action.  If you identify yourself as an overeater that’s what you become. (Remember what you focus on expands!)  But if you look at one night out at Babo as an special event or that tub of Ben & Jerry’s as an anomily instead of a usual behavior — that’s different.  You can be a healthy and strong person who has an occasional meeting with a bag of Doritos.  Okay, okay everyone knows none of those are my vices so let’s be honest — you can still be a healthy and strong person with an occasional visit to the wine and cheese bar (still off limits for me right now though.)  Can you beleive I approaching 2 months without one sip of red wine?  Unheard of!!!

 I bring this all up not because I’ve been bingeing — actually I’ve been doing okay food-wise.   Rather I bring up Feedback not Failure because this weekend I had to have some real conversations with myself on the trails.  In the end I was okay with myself which is a success in itself.

Saturday we started with an hour Core session.  We reviewed all the family favorites, planks, abdominal compression, situp/rollup variations, bridges, etc.  I’m still at a loss to figure out why I can do a plank in my living room better than I can at practice, but okay, I’m going to let that one go.  I’m definitely having side-plank issues so I better get back on those right away.  I’ve been concentrating so much on my pushups that, oops, I forgot to throw in side planks (yeah, big accidental oversight…) 

After the core session we set up our bikes for an indoor training session.  The goal was to start doing some over-gearing (putting ourselves into harder gears than usual) to fatigue and eventually strengthen the muscles.  The idea is we learn to run through fatigue.  We also did some step ups on the bike (increase and decrease gears) to practice controlling our heartrates at different levels.  I’m actually starting to get the hang of this although I don’t get my heartrate up as high on the bike as I do out running.  I think this is one of my issues of heartrate vs muscular strength.  Like last Thursday in the park, I had more muscle to give but no more heartrate (my heart was about to explode but my legs really wanted to pound a little harder).  In the indoor training session, my legs were maxing out on the harder gears — I had nothing left to give after awhile, but my heartrate was lower.  I’m still working on reconciling all of this and I think I have to use my breathing as a guide right now until I get it all figured out.  Overall I think I did the training session as prescribed — 2 hours of good work.

Then we went outside for a run.  We jogged about 5 minutes to a starting point where we started a series of out and back runs.  Up a little hill, onto a flat and back down.   As soon as I exited the building, I was aware of something really different.  My legs felt fine.  Usually after I get off the bike I have a good 20 minute adjustment period before I can even feel them.  But on Saturday I went right into a little 1-2-3-4 and had no problem maintaining it.  I practiced what Charlee and I did last week which was to keep my heartrate at the same rate regardless of what the terrain was and no matter how slow I had to go.  I did that well.  I kept it at 143 going uphill, on the flat and back down.  It was a short enough course that I could get down the hill before my heart rate started to drop.  I wasn’t going fast (feedback not failure) but I was very even, painfree and in control.  So that was good.

After about 40 minutes of running we ran back up to the training room and did another 10 minutes on the bike just to loosen up our legs.  Day one of training camp workouts were over and I immediately started to feel guilt.  Uh oh.  I’m not wiped out, I’m not exhausted like I usually am (remember last week when I felt so tired after a 1 hour swim and 2 hour bike)?  Now I feel fine, more than fine.  I felt zippy.  Guilt started to settle in. I must not have worked hard enough.  Usually the idea of eating dinner with the team is just too much for me after one of our workout days — I just want to read a book and go to bed.  But I felt like I could go play Tennis or go shopping — I still had a lot of energy and that was making me worried.  I don’t want to miss out on the goal of the workout.  I thought I should be more tired.

We had a nice team dinner and I was very aware that I wasn’t remotely tired which was worrying me — please God, don’t do this, let me sleep this weekend please….  They started talking about the following day’s workout and they are going to split us into teams of 3.  The three people on the team will alternate dragging a tire while running up the mountain (this is the mountain that just goes up hill all the way — not flat parts like the other one we did).  Okay, believe it or not the dragging the tire didn’t bother me.  I’ll do anything assigned — I may not be fast but I’ll do it.  The part that bothered me was I didn’t want to let down some teammates who would be much faster and held up by me. 

When they announced the partners they gave me Nathan and Stacey and I knew it would be alright because even though I am always saying that every single person on our team is so nice, Nathan and Stacey are super, super nice — and tough!!  Nathan a workhorse — he could pull that tire all the way up the mountain on his own and still probably beat most everyone.  Stacey has done the ironman and has been very sympathetic to me telling me she was a slow runner last year and always very nice and encouraging.  I immediately started to think about what I could bring to the team.  I couldn’t keep up with them even on my best day and their worst days I would be so far behind them.  I decided that the one thing I could bring to the team was a plan — I may not be fast but strategy I got.  I am all about the properly planned and paced race.  I may not come in first, but I will cross the finish line using every dirty little trick I have to come up with. 

So in the morning I gather Nathan and Stacey and tell them my plan.  I’m going to start the pull because that would probably be the only time I can keep up with them, with me pulling.  Stacey keeps running ahead, Nathan runs with me.  After 5 minutes, Nathan takes over the tire and runs until he catches Stacey.  Then Stacey takes the tire for 5 minutes while Nathan runs an out and back.  In theory if I hustle I hopefully can catch up to Stacey while she is pulling the tire.   Unfortuantely I wasn’t able to catch her, but I had told them to keep going and if I had to meet them on the way down that’s what I would do.

So I started with the tire pull.  I was starting on a little down hill so I started running as fast as I could.  I think a little too fast because my heartrate went through the roof.  I figured okay for five minutes, for my teammates, I’ll kill myself.  It was the longest five minutes I could imagine.  Because in addition to the tire, I discovered that my legs were like lead posts.  Both my quads and my hamstrings felt like huge iron slabs tied to my legs.  Well, I guess I did work hard enough yesterday afterall because I can’t move.  My lungs were frozen, the temp was really cold and I thought once I started moving I would be better but I couldn’t tell if my legs were lead from yesterday’s workout or just frozen slabs.  OMG, this was going to be a hard workout.  I know how hard it was for me to get up that mountain last time when we did it as the first thing of the weekend.  Now I have to do it with fatigued legs, cold air and a tire.  Oh God, they shoot horses, don’t they?

Nathan, Stacey and pretty much the whole team were gone from sight pretty fast.  Then I saw that I wasn’t that far behind one of the teams when the road did a switchback.  Okay, revised goal number one.  I can’t catch Nathan and Stacey, let me just try to catch the next group.  Just try to catch them.  My legs won’t move, my lungs won’t open, I still feel like I’m pulling the tire even though the tire is long gone.  I’m carrying my water bottle and Stacey’s water bottle in a fuel belt but I don’t even feel them. I’m just trying to drag these two logs I call legs up the mountain.  Oh God, what am I going to do?!?!?

That’s when my WW group came to my rescue.  I heard everyone’s voices from Friday chiming in with all kinds of encouragement.  There was a literal buzz in my head when I then clearly heard one of the voices say “what do you want to have happen?”  Ah, the one minute motivator.  Okay, okay, let’s try to work this out.  What do I want to have happen?  I want to catch up to my teamWhat do you have to do to make that happen?  I have to get up that mountain as fast as I can.  How are you going to do that?  Well it’s not going to be by this little jog that I’m doing because that is getting me nowhere.  I’m going to have to open up my stride and walk as fast as I can with as big a stride as I can.  Can you?  YesWill you? Yes. So that’s what I did.  I stopped the little jog and started to stride very long strides.  I definitely started covering more distance.  Okay good, so far so good.  I’m covering more distance.

But then I looked at my heart rate.  Ugh, it dropped to 126.  That’s not the goal.  The goal is to work hard while we are fatigued.  Catching up with my team is really NOT the goal afterall.  The goal is to get up that mountain working hard.  Okay, okay, revamp.  I am going to have to start running to get my heartrate up.  So I did the old, pick a pair of trees and start running.  I found a nice straight incline up that I remember I definitely ran last time so I said “okay, from here to the top of that corner, run until you get your heartrate back up to 145.”  So I started running and then I when I go to the top I did the old walk one minute with wide steps and run two minutes to keep my heart rate up.  Then I started to get a groove and I looked at my watch it was thirty minutes.  Okay thirty minutes it took me to get warmed up. Some of the people are probably already at the top.  But I had a plan, I knew my goals and that was what I was focussed on.  Now I was able to keep running and I was at a respectable heartrate (145) and not tiny-tiny steps, just small steps.

Then pretty soon the first team started coming down.  It was Dennis.  My God he is so fast.  He was just whipping down that mountain like there was no tire attached to him at all. He is just a wall of lean muscle.  His teammates were struggling to keep up with him.  Ooph.  Then the next group came and the next group.  All of sudden there was my team!  Nathan and Stacey. 

When I reached them, Nathan dropped the tire and gave it to me and we sent Stacey ahead like before.  So now Nathan is running next to me and I’m all warmed up and now we are running downhill with the tire.  So now I need a new goal.  I decide that for five minutes nobody is going to catch up with me.  I am going to keep us ahead of the next team if it kills me.  We start running down the hill and I’m just praying to God that I don’t fall flat on my face because I’m trusting Charlee who’s words are echoing in my ear “just let the hill do the work, fall into it.”  I’m figuring okay maybe the tire will help me a little so I try to fall a little into the tire. 

Then Nathan says 1 more minute, 1 more minute.  I turn to look behind me and I see Jen pulling her tire rounding the corner with her partner Mike.  I let out a little scream and start running wildly down the hill.  Jen sees I am trying to out run her for one minute and she starts to chase me.  So I’m running like I’m ten years old with three brothers chasing me across the field and for 60 seconds which is all I have left in me I just run as hard as I can until Nathan yells done and I drop the tire and Jen runs past me.  We are all laughing at our 1 minutes race but now Nathan and Mike pick up the tires and they start racing each other down the hill and in less than an instant they are out of sight….  So fast, they are soooo fast.

So now I just continue down the mountain with my regular pace. I’m still trying to learn to run downhill without slamming my legs.  I’m not delicate enough yet.  It like the difference between standing at net and hitting balls without moving vs. dancing on your feet and hitting balls.  In the end you hit more balls when you are dancing on your feet.  But I’m trying to dance but I only know how to dance laterally, I don’t know how to dance forward.  I figured I’ll just make it to the bottom and keep running until someone tells me to stop.  But then all of a sudden I see Nathan and Stacey coming back up the mountain.  What are they doing?  Are the coaches making us do the mountain again?  That can’t possibly be.  When they reach me I ask them where are they going?  They said “to get you.”  I was so taken aback.  That was the nicest thing I could imagine.  I felt a little lump in my throat that they would be so kind.

Nathan tells me that they dropped the tire a little ways down the trail and they had run back UPHILL to get me (Okay, I’m not sure I could have run back uphill to get anyone).  They both ran with me down the hill encouraging me to run faster.  Then Nathan said “here comes the next team, c’mon let’s get to the tire before they reach us.”  So, motivated by short points (that’s why I think I would do well at Lake Placid if my friends just keep throwing tennis balls in front of me along the marathon route) I start running harder down hill to get to the tire.   But the tire is gone!  Someone took it — probably thinking we abandoned it.  We are all disappointed because we all wanted me to finish the last part with the tire. 

Then Stacey grabbed her water bottle from the fuel belt I was wearing which sparked my idea.  I said, “Nathan, you’ll be my tire!  Grab my fuel belt and I’ll pull you down the moutain.”  So Nathan grabs my fuel belt but he’s not pulling hard enough.  I tell him to really pull and then I feel like I am dragging a car behind me.  It was much harder than the tire.  I was pulling and pulling going down hill and I can feel my heart rate going up and up and up.   Then finally when I couldn’t pull one more second I said “Okay!” And he let me run free and for one second I was doing okay.  But my heartrate was through the roof.  I told them to run ahead I would catch up to them on the road after I picked up the pieces of my lungs on the trail (we are not supposed to leave anything behind.)

Then I jog back to the road chatting with one of the coaches and I realize my heartrate is high and my legs are still frozen and my watch still only says 1:17 and I know we are doing 2:15.  Rut ro,  can I really run for another hour?  I’m really ready to go home, really.  I’ve worked hard.  I get the point of the workout.  My muscles are fatigued, I just don’t know how in the world I am going to do another hour running. 

Then coaches send us out on the road to run 1.2 miles down and 1.2 miles back.  I’m definitely doing a 12+ minute mile here and I’m really hurting.  So again I try to refocus.  What do you want to have happen?  I want to keep running for the entire time, I don’t care how slow, I just want to run.  What do you have to do to make that happen? I have to think hips, hips, hips, feet, feet, feet, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4.  No matter what don’t stop, no matter what.  Can you?  Yes.  Will you.  Yes.

Then I see the other teammates coming back from their out and back.  I know their faces pretty well by now.  None of them look happy.  Every single one of them looks in pain.  Okay, okay, well I’m not suffering alone — everybody is miserable.  Instead of the normal “you look great!  and great job!” I usually get from everyone, I’m getting little nods of the head and occasional grunts.  I start to feel sorry for everyone.  My pain starts to go away a little worried about them.  1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4.  I’m probably not counting at the right speed but I’m counting.  The littlest bumps seem like big hills and finally I make it to the stop sign and make sure I pass it just to let it know who’s boss and turn around back.  I reach one of the teammates what was stretching at the stop sign (a luxury there was no way I could afford, if I stopped for one second I was going to be out for the count.)  I said “that was the longest 1.2 miles I have every run.”  He nodded in painful agreement.

I would like to know the law of physics that allows there to be all uphills in one direction and all uphills in the return direction?  Where are the downhills?  This is not the first time I have been faced with this phenomenon.  I thought I had been running up little bumps on that 1.2 mile.  How is it I turn around and all I see are little hills up all the way back?  I just keep going.  I’m not thinking Ironman, I’m not thinking of anything long-term.  My entire goal in life is to get up that little stinking hill 100 yards ahead of me and to that little bridge overhead.  It’s the distance from “here to Daniel Webster”  (an old joke from a race when Melissa was trying to tell me it was short distance when I thought it seemed long.)  I finally got to the bridge and said DONE!!  I jogged up to my car and dumped the water bottle and holder and headed back to the start point when Michelle said “we have 15 more minutes.”  Oh Lord, I looked at my watch and realized she was right. 

I started to head out for a seven minutes out and back when it occurred to me that I had had to walk up the the little hill at the start of the trail twice.  Once during the warmup and once when we were returning from the trail run.  It made me kind of mad that I was going to leave that workout after working so hard but that little bump had beaten me yet again.  (It’s like that annoying little bump up to finish the marathon in Central Park — deceivingly annoying.)   So I turned around and headed back to that hill.  I decided I would be victorious over this workout if I ran down that little bump and back up it.  So that’s what I did.  It really, really hurt but I felt I needed to do it.  To remind myself of why I was out there — to leave no challenge unaccepted.    I did it to leave nothing out there, to leave everything out there, for my WW buddies, for my teammates for my everyone who shows loyalty and support in this crazy effort I am undertaking.  I did it for me. 

Our final assignment was to go back to the hotel and do a final spin on our bikes (coaches decided too cold for effective spin on the roads).  Michelle and I hooked up our trainers in her room.  We moaned and groaned a bit — it hurt to climb back on the bike and I could barely spin my wheels for the first ten minutes but then they loosened up.   Then fini, complete, done!!  Yeah!!! Training camp #4 under our belt.

So was I pleased with my performance?  Yes and no.  Of course I was sad that I wasn’t faster, that I didn’t plow up that mountain and keep up with someone, anyone, even a blowing leaf, but I conquered a lot of demons out there.  I fended the castle from the dragons of defeat.  I refused to quit which is always big in my book.  And I think I used my head to strategically make the best out of a painful situation.  So for that I am pleased. 

Back to the idea of action vs. identity.  Yes, I ran slowly but for now on I am not going to say I am a slow runner.  I am going to say I am a determined runner.  I may run slow on certain days but I may surprise a few people come race day.  Because I’m developing another muscle — one that can pull me even further than my quads or  hamstrings — I’m developing the determination muscle.    So when I’m going up the degree of difficulty at Lake Placid on race day, I know I will find the wherewithall to think it out and say “So what do you want to have happen?”  I want to make it into that oval ring before the clock stops.  “What do you have to do to make that happen?”  I have to get up and over that hill without stopping — I have to keep moving.  “Can you do it?” Yes.  “Will you do it?”  Yes.  Emphatically yes


When the soul is well nourished the body wants for little….

from my WW group buddy

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2/22/07 Same Ole Thing

Thursday.  I love Thursdays.  We got to bike outdoors this morning for the first time in 4 weeks!!  (The coach said that was the longest spell the team has ever had (the last three years) in not getting some training time outdoors.)  But, really, if you think about it, we rode all December and half of January without any problems so it was just the  last 4 weeks.  That’s not too bad if you consider how brutal winter could be.

I had a blast this morning.  We got to to ride as hard as we could doing intervals.  It ended up being just me, Michelle and Marisol in our little group so I had fun trying to keep up with them.  Everyone felt a little strange riding outdoors again.  For me (and I’m sure for everyone else) the first loop was uncomfortable because of the darkness.  There were a few ice patches but we just slowed down to ride through them so no problems with that.  But on the westside a couple of lampposts were out and after climbing Harlem Hill we descended into total darkness which was a little scary.  My little headlamp on my handlebars was quite inadequate.

By the second loop it was getting light and then we started our intervals.  From the top of Cat Hill to the top of Harlem Hill we were to go as fast as we could.  My heart was really pumping. I felt like my legs had more to give, but I just couldn’t breath any harder.  I haven’t been using my inhaler because I want my lungs to try to learn to expand on their own.  I wasn’t wheezing but I was really breathing hard and I had to back off a smidge to catch my breath.  I’m sure that will get better as I resume outdoor riding.  But I was giving it 100% and I had a blast trying to pedal as hard and as fast as I could.  I just love riding — it is so much fun.  Sometimes training can feel like it’s a job, but I never feel that way when I’m riding. 

Of course I’m kicking myself because although I had my watch positioned on my handlebars to observe my heart rate, it was too dark to see it.  What I should have done was start my workout timer and hit lap splits at the start and end of each interval.  Duh… I just didn’t think of it.

Biking is a great way to get the day started.  We ended up doing 3 1/2 loops before everyone had to take off for work.  But after my bike workout this morning I had a Pilates Session with Elly.  Ouch.  Let’s just say I was not the Pilates Performer I was last week.  It’s much, much harder after a bike workout to do the leg exercises so we concentrated on core and a lot of stretching when possible.  My poor hip flexors were not happy.  My arms were hurting again from yesterday’s swim workout so I was a bit of a mess all around.  I may have to reconsider Pilates on Thursdays and move it to Wednesday or Friday after my swim.

Yesterday I did a swim workout.  It was another one of those jump out of the pool every 400 meters and do 10 pushups (they wanted us to jump out every 200 and do 5 but gave the option for those of us embarassed to do pushups to do 10 every 400 — I took that option!)  I have to admit I feel really conspicuous getting out of the pool and doing pushups on the deck.  I tried to do them quickly so nobody would notice.  I really hate those.

I also am not as impressed with my pushups as I was two weeks ago.  Now that I know I can do 10 I am aware that they are not very good.  I don’t get down very far.  But, still, it is FAR more than what I used to be able to do.  I find doing pushups against the washing machine in the laundry room is a very good exercise for me because is high enough that I can experience the real dip all the way down.  I have to work toward that same feeling while I am in the proper pushup position.  Man it is hard….   But I have to just keep remembering back to the time when I couldn’t even do a regular plank.  I’ve come a long way from then.

Tomorrow I have another swim session.  This is going to be a repeat of the burnout session I had last weekend.  A bunch of drills followed by 800 meter fastest sustainable effort.  Take the average pace of the 800 and try to swim 8, 100 meters faster (10 seconds rest in between).  Last week that workout burnt my arms.  I was talking to one of the coaches today about it and he warned me not to forget that I still have to turn and drive and not rely only on my arms (I was complaining to him that my arms are pooped!!!)  Okay tomorrow I will try to drive and pull and breath and turn and reach my arms all the way out and rest on my side and pull hard through the water and relax on the recovery and monitor my head position and finish my pull so my hand brushes my thigh and kick to turn and, and, and, and…………

Tomorrow I have my WW meeting.  I don’t feel like I gained any weight this week but I also don’t feel like I lost any pounds.  I do feel like I built some muscle in my arms so we’ll see how that works out.  I didn’t do a great job of journalling this week, but I did try to think about eating light and healthy, light and healthy…..   I’m surprised my brain doesn’t explode with all these things I’m concentrating on.

Saturday a.m. we are off to New Paltz for training camp number 4. I’m quite bummed because the weather turned on me!  🙁  No 50 degrees like they promised at the beginning of the week.  Now they are getting 3 more inches of snow (on top of the 7 they already have) so they are thinking of turning one of our long runs or bikes into a, gasp, snowshoe workout!  Ugh, I wish I had time to go to CT and get my cross country skis but I don’t.   I don’t know, maybe I’ll love snowshoeing…  why do I doubt it?  I’m not worried about the length of the workouts or what we have to do, all I keep thinking about is “man, we are going to be doing a lot of sweating.”  Isn’t that a weird thing to be worrried about?

I got my new customized nutrition from Infinit.  It was so cool because when I turned the package over to check the nutrition label it said “Rumble Girl Training Formula.”  LOL!  When you create your custom formula it asks you for a name.  I had no idea they were going to print it on the nutritional information label.  What a riot.  I’m glad I’ll get a chance to try it out this weekend.  They say if I don’t like it I can tell them and they’ll send me one adjustment for free.  That sounds nice of them.

That’s all for now.  As I say to my friend in the elevator when she asks me how’s it going, all I can think of is “oh fine, you know, swim, bike, run, same ole, same ole…..”  How do you explain the details?


“I have always struggled to achieve excellence. One thing that cycling has taught me is that if you can achieve something without a struggle it’s not going to be satisfying.”

Greg Lemond

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2/21/07 Making Friends with Discomfort

Wednesday.  Where did February go?  One more week and we’ll be in March already.  Seems unreal how quickly time is passing.  No time to waste.  Before I know it, July will be here.  It seems scarily near.

Yesterday I had a steady state run to do.  Mo and Charlee came out to run with me.  Mo did a harder workout — repeats on Cat Hill while Charlee ran with me on my “Westie/Eastie” workout.  My assignment was to run from Daniel Webster to the 102nd street transverse and back in a steady state.  Uphill, downhill and flat my heartrate was to stay the same — adjust speed accordingly.  I wanted to run at heart rate of 145 but I was struggling at 143 so I backed off a little until I got to the resevoir.  Charlee hooked up with me just after the resevoir and started to monitor my heartrate and cadence and we agreed to shoot for 141-143.

Let me tell ya, it’s not so easy when someone is running right next to you, enouraging you to turn your feet over faster non-stop.  I really wanted to stop and take a break at the 102nd street transverse because I was running just slightly out of my comfort zone and that makes me, well, uncomfortable!  I have my “Sunday” pace and I like to stay in that.   When I get out of it and start to breath harder I start to get nervous.  I think I’m tired (not sure if I really am or not) I just know I’m uncomfortable.

Charlee was trying to push me on the downhills because I don’t run fast enough (according to my heart rate which plummets but my speed doesn’t change).  I find downhill running harder than uphill running.  I know, I know that sounds crazy, but I have a hard time bending my knees on the downhill so I feel like I am slamming into my legs all the time (putting on the brakes if you will).  I probably feel that way because that’s exactly what I am doing.  On the uphill it forces my knees to lift so I feel like it is easier to keep the correc form. 

Charlee hypothesized that I might like the uphills better because I tend to rely on my muscles more than my aerobic conditioning to get through the runs.  We talked about increasing my aerobic capacity by doing more spinning at higher cadence/easier gears on my bike.  It’s something new to work on.  She suggested instead of thinking of training my muscles be stronger to think about training my heart to be able to handle the stress of running faster.  Can’t hurt to try and it certainly gave me something to think about.

Then we did the same run on the East side of the park , from 72nd to the 102nd street transverse and back.  On the East side we noted  my breathing get more relaxed while maintaining a higher heartrate.  Charlee had me working on controling my breathing instead of letting it run wild.  I’m used to watching what my breath does, not controlling it.   Something else to start working on.

The whole time we were running together I kept trying to think of what word would describe how I feel about Charlee coaching me.  Of course I first thought of the word blessing because of course I am extremely blessed to have two such good friends come out and support me week after week.  But having Charlee’s expertise and undivided attention is something even more.  Finally I said to her, “it’s a luxury, that’s what it is!”  She understood the feeling because she has had a coach run with her in the past and there is no more luxurious feeling than having someone run with you step by step through the enitre workout concentrating on what you are doing.  It’s a very different experience.

I was also thinking that it wouldn’t be the same with just anybody running with me.  Charlee is a really good coach because she started out a slower runner and worked her way down.  She’s done it systematically and by training herself to work the methodologies and it has paid off.  For me, she is a great coach because she can understand my mental strengths and weaknesses as well as my physical strengths and weaknesses.  She understands how much of my unwillingness is mental and how much is simply a limit of conditioning.  I like the fact that everything is scientific.  We run by the numbers.  Even though I’m going slower than a turtle up the hill and I COULD run faster, I don’t because the ‘game’ is to keep the heart rate even.  There is no judgment of fast and slow — it is more a calculation.  I understand calculations.

So once again I had a most fortunate and extremely beneficial coached work out.  I got so much more out of the workout than if I had just run it myself.  Those moments when I would have been running alone and maybe let up for a bit, didn’t happen because Charlee was right there saying “no, no, no this is not the time we let up.”  We did some tests counting the cadence of my feet (too slow.)  I think I’m running at 90 but I’m really running at 85 right foot falls per minute.  (And it should really be 95 not 90 anyway).  Even that test was a luxury.  Usually I’m too uncoordinated to time my own foot falls ’cause I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time never mind look at my watch and count how many times my foot is hitting the ground.  Yesterday, Charlee timed me and I just counted.  Luxurious. This weekend we we do our long run, I’ll practice this and see if I can’t get a little more coordinated on that.

I think there were some other highlights (besides good weather and good friends) to my workout.  On the last portion of the run, when running downhill I saw a sub 10:30 pace on my watch (it said 10:09 but I have to add about 15 seconds to make it right).  I saw it say low 11’s a couple of times too.  I haven’t seen any 10’s or 11’s on my watch in a long time.  Yeah they were downhill but who cares?  I have been running slow downhill too.  Our mile up Cat Hill was pretty slow but we were really practicing keeping my heart rate down so I was okay with the 12:45 knowing that soon I will be able to control my breathing and pacing better so I can go up the hill more efficiently.  Just to see that my watch was capable of producing a 10 or 11 something gave me some hope that maybe, just maybe, someday in a land far, far away, I may run a little faster.  Just hoping that land is called Lake Placid.


The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it’s the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship… and run a 12:45 with him without judgment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
okay, okay I added the part about the 12:45 but I’m sure RWE would have included it if he had been out there running yesterday…..

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2/19/07 Pulling it all Together

Monday.  Day of rest.  Actually I feel all better today.  Yesterday I forced myself to go out for my 1:40 steady state run.  I did my usual Sunday up through Riverside to the hilly part.  I didn’t make it all the way to the last staircase which I think I usually do for 1:40. I felt my pace was not my Riverside best BUT I did it without stopping and some moments felt strong and it was pain free.  Afterwards I felt revitalized so it was an okay run.  It was more about training my mind than anything else.

It was cold running by the river.  When I got down there at 11 a.m. I noticed there was nobody out there which made me a little nervous.  Was I the only idiot out running by the river?  Then I saw a group of fastie fast guys run by and I thought, okay, I better run fast like them to keep warm.  Well, run fast in my mind and heart at least.  There were very few runners out.  I think on the way out I saw one and on the way back I saw three — the third one being one of my teammates.  I was wearing my TriLife longsleeve shirt (over another winter running shirt) he was wearing his TriLife Jacket.  We could spot each other’s logos about a half mile away.  I laughed when I saw it was Rob because he was with a bunch of us who had dinner and went to a party the night before.

It was also funny because I had just been thinking about the Joel Friel bumble bee story Rob had told me back at training camp in Mohonk.  I had shared the story with some of the gals at weight watchers and it hit home for many of them and they loved it.  (The story basically ended with be like the bumble bee.  By all properties of aerodynamics it shouldn’t be able to fly but nobody told the bumble bee — it believes it can fly so it does).   I had just received an email from one of the WW gals asking if they could forward my email with the story to someone else and I had said sure.  So I was thinking about the email and the bumble bee and Rob and then all of a sudden — poof there he was running past me along the river.  How weird was that?  I know I keep saying it, but we really do have the nicest bunch of people on our team.

Although my muscles were pretty tired after the run, my energy was back 100%.  My worries about being too tired after simple workouts were relieved.  I didn’t need another nap although I did keep it kind of low-key all afternoon.  I didn’t feel that same kind of exhaustion I had felt the day before.  (Steph pointed out that I did get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and perhaps to be exhausted by 1 p.m. wasn’t so out of the ordinary.  She may have  a point there too…)

Yesterday my arms were killing me.  KILLING ME.  My upper arms were literally sore to the touch.  Jaime had said my arms would be hurting after Wednesday with my new pulling but it wasn’t really until after Saturday’s swim.  I’ve never had muscle pain in my upper arms.  (I guess that kind of goes along with the fact that I’ve never really been pulling very hard in the water).  I’ve felt “the burn” lifting weights in the gym, but they’ve never been so sore the next day.  Today they are better but still a little sore.  Could I really have not been using these muscles enough?  Kind of scary.   Even scarier is the swim workout with pushups returns this week!!  Of course Marisol was quick to email me “YOU BETTER DO YOUR PUSHUPS”  that girl cracks me up. 

We have some serious workouts coming up.  I know that because the coaches sent out an email saying we have some serious workouts coming up.  lol.  This week is a rest week.  Our workouts are not too intense.  Yeah right.  Tomorrow I have an EASY 8 mile run (rofl, I’m really laughing at that, easy 8 mile run), Wednesday we have a 1600 meter swim where we have to get out of the pool before each 200 meters and do 5 slow pushups (they are giving those of us who are embarrassed to do our pushups at the pool the option of doing 10-15 pushups every 400 meters instead, gee thanks!!!), Thursday we have the last of our speed workouts in Central park (4 loops), Friday another swim which is a repeat of Saturday’s swim session that left my arms pulsating for two days.  Yeah that sounds like a really light week of workouts, lol.  Oh yeah, and then there are the two strength training sessions in there as well.

Our week finishes with Training Camp Number 4 in New Paltz.  The focus of the weekend is going to be endurance where we have  4+ hour workouts each day.  The good news is no swim.  The other good news is it looks like we will be able to get an outdoor bike in on Sunday — possibly 50 degrees!!  The bad news is, Saturday is a 45 minutes Pilates/core session, 2 1/2 hour indoor bike and a 1 hour run outdoors.  (The indoor bike session will include intervals of 90% max heart rate – ouch).  Then Sunday we get up and do a 2 hour 15 minute run and a 2 hour + outdoor bike.   The sessions are designed to “stress body and brain.”  Nutrition is going to be key this weekend.  My new nutrition from (recommended by my other IM Guidance Counselors Donald and Anne Chris) should be here by then.  I’m anxious to start training with it.

I can’t say I’m nervous about training camp.  (I was petrified before the first couple of training camps).  I now know what each part can be like so I’m kind of prepared for long and hard but I will finish.   I’ve done the brutal bike rides in New Paltz, I’ve done the brutal runs in New Paltz.  They can’t get worse — just longer and put together.   I will hurt, but that’s okay.  We’ll have even longer workouts starting soon enough. 

They told us that some of us might get a little nervous when we see the March training calendar but it will give us an overall picture of what to expect going forward.  They also said some of us might be relieved.  I think I’ll be one of the relieved.  I like to know what lies ahead.  I know we haven’t been doing any distances yet that are ironman preparation level.  I know 6 hour bike rides are in my future.  I know lots of long runs and days of double workouts are ahead of me too.  I’d like to know exactly what is expected. 

So I am now taking my Monday rest days seriously (listening to Charlee).  I decided I’m not going to finish out the deep water running class on Monday nights.  I realized last week how taking a full day off really helped me to get through the rest of the week.  I’m going to schedule a massage for next Monday as I think those are going to become more and more important.

I’m feeling good about pulling this whole program together.  The mental aspect of focussing on the positive, meditation and controlling my mind, the physical aspsect of pushing, monitoring and then resting my body, the weight loss management which entails both mental and physical all kind of feed into one another.

What is really strange, however,  is how I don’t want to drink at all.  If anything I’m feeling a little apprehensive about it.  I’m afraid right now what it would do to me.  One glass of wine maybe, but I’m pretty sure if I had two glasses of wine, it would knock me for a loop.  So I don’t even want the one glass.  That may change, but for right now, I have zero desire for any alcohol.  That’s a foreign feeling to me but I think it would make me so tired and I just can’t afford that right now.  I need every ounce of my being put towards health.  I’m just not strong enough or fit enough to throw that into my body and fight it off.  At my age and level of fitness, there is no room for adding processing alcohol through my system.  Maybe if I was 30 and super fit I could have a couple of glasses like the kids were drinking on Saturday night.  For me?  In bed by 10:30 and I’ll have a tall glass of sleep please.  Of course, I know me, so I’m not ruling out that come March or April after a long workout I may say what I really need is a glass of wine, but so far that’s not happening.

I feel like everything is ever so slowly starting to pull together into new way way of being.  I’m excited about that.  I’m also excited Spring is coming soon.  This terrible cold weather will be gone (let’s face it though, we had really just the month of February with cold and that will be over soon).  Soon we’ll be riding outdoors.  The Spring races will be starting.  Only five months to Ironman…..  I am going to be ready.  I’m getting healthier and stronger both mentally and physically every single day.  And for that I am sincerely grateful and ready to rumble


Okay for spookiness.  I was just about to come up with today’s quote and was trying to think of something about pulling it all together and how one thing feeds into another and no kidding, my friend Mo literally just this second emailed this to me…..  Thanks Mo!

The thought manifests the word;
The word manifests the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings.”

 The Buddha

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2/18/07 The Power of the Nap

Sunday.  Well today I’m finally tired.  I was tired when I started my workouts yesterday.  I think my short-sleep nights finally caught up to me.  I’ve had a strangely high amount of energy this week — almost jittery — like I was drinking too much coffee (though I wasn’t drinking any more than my normal plantation-crop per day.)  The longer night’s sleeps I was trying to enforce in November and December need to be reinstated.  I have to overrule what my body wants.  I know it only wants 5-6 hours a night but I simply cannot do these kinds of workouts on that amount of sleep.  I have force myself to stay in bed longer, no matter how painful it is.

I admit I’m one of those annoying people who jumps out of bed ready to go.  I wake up before dawn and I mean I’m up.  Try talking to me at 7 p.m. and I’m mumbling and grumbling and fantasizing about my pj’s.  But one thing I have learned over the last several months is that Ironman training requires mind over body.  Forget what you want, you have to train yourself to get what you need.  I need sleep.  I need rest and even though my mind doesn’t want it (hey let’s do a Soduku puzzle instead of this boring sleep stuff!) I have to force my body to stay down.  This borders on torture.  I feel like I’m trapped and feelings of being strapped down in a pysch ward often overtake me.  I literally start to go crazy — Argh…. let me get up already!

For me, the trick to getting more sleep is not to sleep later, it is to go to bed earlier and don’t turn on the tv.  So this week my goal is to be in bed by 9 every night.  Book shut by 10 and I must stay in bed until 5.  That’s 7 hours.  Not the best but maybe if I read a boring book, I’ll fall asleep before 10…. So that is goal # 1 for week #22 away from the Ironman.  Get the dailies back under control — sleep, vitamins, water, meditation.  Undeniably for me these are the four most important building blocks of a successful week of health and fitness. 

Friday I went to my WW meeting.  I was up .4 but I really wasn’t upset about that.  It was an experiment in positive thinking week and I think that was successful but needs refinement.  I see there is a lot of work ahead of me but I see the power of attraction at work.   What you think about expands.  Think about healthy and strong and that’s what you will become.  This week I am adding back the food journal BUT I am only writing down the foods and the times I ate them, I am not calculating points.  The calculating the points is still a negative feeling for me so I’m just think athlete tracking….  We’ll see how this week goes and then make adjustments accordingly.

I’m seeing how “The Secret” [what you think about expands] is helping me in my training.  We had a group swim on Saturday morning.  I thought it was a hard workout.  We warmed up with 300 meters (we had the full 50 meter pool again, yeah!!) Then we did another 300 meters alternating 50 drill, 50 freestroke and the coaches commented on our form.  One coach told me that although now I was finishing my pull my hand was finishing 8 inches away from my body and to make sure to brush my thigh to keep it in.  The other coach told me to reach out further in my catch and Hold the water.  Hold the water, hold the water, hold the water.  Okay, okay, I think I’m holding it now.  My arms feel exhausted now.  I’m using muscles I’ve never used before.  Sitting here typing they feel like huge rocks in my biceps.  If I’m not holding the water, I’m holding something.  That little jiggle under my arm is going away too.  It’s still there but not as mobile.

For the next part of the workout we had to do 800 meters our fastest sustainable effort.  I hate when they say that.  I don’t know what my fastest sustainable effort is.  If I go out my fastest I’m not sure I can sustain it.  If I hold back a little I’m afraid I’m copping out.  So I just went out as fast as I could and waited until I had to back down.  That happened at about the 50 meter point.  Okay, that was too fast.  I passed one of the gals in my lane who I know is faster than me so I figured I was going to have that come back to haunt me.

Around the 400 meter mark, I started to think “I can’t do this, I can’t keep going at this pace, there is no way.”  I was just about to give in and go back to my old way of swimming when I realized what I had just said to myself.  Whoaaa….. That was a real mind blower.  Did I really say that to myself?  Did I really just say “I can’t do this?”  Well now you are screwed because you have to do it now.  You have to wipe that bad Mojo out of your head.  So I started repeating healthy and strong, healthy and strong, healthy and strong.   I changed my focus into the positive.  It works.  I finished the 800 meters at my fastest sustainable effort which appears to be an average of 2:20 seconds per 100 meters (some higher, some lower).  Which is about what I do in my pool anyway, 1:10 for 50 meters.  Not that great but it’ll get me through the Ironman.  I really would like to see an even 1 minute per 50.  That’s not an unreasonable goal.  It’s still not fast but it is a nice round number, lol. 

Our next part of the workout was to now do eight, 100 meter splits make each 100 FASTER than our average pace of the 800 non-stop meters.  Okay, so my average for the 800 non-stop was 2:20+ .  I was now to try to do each 100 in 2:15 but now I get a 5-10 second rest in between.   Not easy.  I was breathing hard at the end of each 100 and not fully rested before I went out again.  I was really pushing my limits.  I saw I was able to do 2:15 for most of them.  As I got closer to the end I was starting to fade a bit and the time was dropping back to 2:20.  But can I be honest?  5 seconds?  I don’t have a 5 second problem, I have fifteen hour problem on July 22nd.  Do I really, really care if my swim is 1:15 vs 1:30? Not really.   But if I can make it a 1:30 vs a 1:45 that might make a difference so I’ll continue on.  I just have to keep thinking that’s time I can use for my run.

After the swim workout I had invited a small group over to my place to do our indoor bike trainer workout.  Jaime, Marisol and Dan all brought their bikes and trainers to my place and we set up shop in my living room.  Marisol was the workout leader — she had printed up an interval workout and was going to bark orders at us.  Jaime brought her ipod and speakers and played DJ.  Dan cracked jokes and I just went along for the ride.

Before we started, I had a little technical difficulty.  I had bought a new trainer because the one I had ordered through the team still hadn’t come in yet and my trainer is really piece of junk.  (I paid $59 for it which should tell you that it is not exactly Ironman training equipment.)  I didn’t want to waste another workout with a bad trainer so I took the plunge and bought a new one even though I have one on order.  I figure I can always sell one of them on Craigs list.  I got the Cycleops Fluid Trainer.

When I originally tried to put my new bike on my old junky trainer, the skewer (the rod that holds the back tire in place) would not fit into the old junky trainer so the bike shop gave me a generic skewer to use.  For the last several weeks I’ve been riding on my old junky trainer with my new bike (Tina) and this generic skewer.  When I bought the new trainer it came with a skewer and the instructions said for best results, use the skewer that came with the new trainer.  Okay, I can do that.  I went to remove the old skewer — this is usually a simple untwist and pull.  I twisted and twisted and twisted and that skewer would not come undone.  I twisted and pulled, twisted and pulled — nothing.  It was stuck on there but good.

I was in a fog from the swim still.  I guess I didn’t get enough oxygen in my brain or something but I just couldn’t figure it out.  Marisol, Jaime and Dan took pity on me and took over trying to remove the skewer.  They twisted and pulled and tried everything but that skewer was not coming off my tire.  For over an hour they tried everything.  Pliers, hammers, you name it it wouldn’t come off.  Jaime diagnosed that somehow the skewer had become stripped and wasn’t letting the cap turn.   While they were doing that I was trying to put my new trainer together with a water logged brain.  Which way is up?  Left?  Is it Righty Tighty?  Lefty Loosey?  Or is the oposite on bikes?  Or is that just pedals?  What am I doing?!?!?

We were a comedy of errors.  Dan opened his bag to find all his workout gear had become soaked by an open bottle of Gatorade.  I sent him off to the laundry room to dry his clothes while I kept putting my new trainer together.  Meanwhile, God love ’em,  Marisol and Jaime were not giving up on that skewer.  Now it is over an hour of prying and pulling and twisting and pulling.  They were not going to give up.  Jaime kept saying “be careful, be careful, they are Real Design Wheels.”  I felt so bad and I said I would use my old bike for the workout even though I really wanted to on Tina (I want to start practicing in aero position and my old bike Sylvia does not have aero bars).  We were all about to give up when one final tug and SNAP they broke off the end of the skewer so they could pull it out the other side.  Yeah!!! Victory, Success!!!

Jaime looked at the removed skewer and noticed that the springs had been put on backwards (probably by me).  We guessed that might have been part of the problem.  So it is a good thing to note that when you put a skewer on your wheel the wide ends of the springs are on the outside (near the levers and the cap) and the narrow ends of the springs are both pointed in towards the wheel. 


We aren’t sure that is what caused it, but hopefully someone else will learn from my mistake.

So we finally started spinning at 10:30 and we did a really hard 2 hour workout.  I was  working hard and we did a repeat of our training up in New Palz last time.  My quads were hurting to say the least.   It was great working out with several people because the jokes kept coming and shared pain is always easier than solo pain — misery loving company and all that.

My biggest concern was that I was totally exhausted when everyone left.  I had another cup of coffee but then had to go back to bed for two hours.  This really concerned me becuase I had only worked out for 3 hours.  If 3 hours was wiping me out what was I going to do when our workouts were 6 and 8 hours and then what was I going to do when I was in the race in July doing up to 17 hours?  I really worried about this.

I met up with my friends for a dinner and then we were going to a team party.  I got a chance to see my one of my guidance counselors (Charlee) and talk to her about my levels of exhaustion and she told me not to worry about it — it is what it is, I worked out hard and I was tired.  She did give me a really great tip though, as a fellow lover of a good nap.  She warned about not going to a nap after a long bike, to try to stay up and walk around afterwards in order to train my body and legs that there will be no swim, bike, nap in Lake Placid.   As the bike rides become longer and longer over the coming months it is important to stay away and walk around for a bit (and THEN take a nap). 

I thought the no-nap was a good suggestion as well as the one Jaime mentioned when we decided to hit our trainers right after the swim instead of going to our traditional team breakfast.  Jaime commented “there is no breakfast after the swim during the race, let’s not get so used to that.”  LOL, I’m thinking they totally missed designing how an Ironman works.  I think it should go Swim, Breakfast, Bike, Nap, Run.  Wouldn’t that be much more civilized?  I may invent one of those.

I’m off for my 1:40 run today.  Feeling a little tired systemically but no muscle pain.  So I think a little peppy music and I’ll be back on track.   I think I’ll do my Riverside Park Run just to keep it different.  Up into the hills for 50 minutes, turn around and come back.  Then….. a nap. 


“Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.”

Robert Fulgham

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2/16/07 Power Within

Friday.  I have to admit I’m feeling pretty darn good this week.  I’m feeling strong and energetic, probably more than I have in a long time.

Wednesday I did my swim workout and had a strange head rush afterwards.  I worked really hard for the 1 hour and 1 minute it took to do the workout.  Afterwards I went into the Jacuzzi for a few minutes and I actually felt kind of high.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  I had already been in a good mood going into the gym (practicing my positive energy) and I had to admit that compared to the week before when I had gone to the gym it was a totally different experience.

Last Tuesday I had gone to the gym, had a “discussion” with the desk person about not being able to bring my guest in without a charge and I admit I let it effect me — I let it set the tone for my day.  I had a terrible workout on the treadmill and even ending in the workout with a couple laps in the pool and a dip in the Jacuzzi had been disappointing (it was luke warm at best).  And, apparently I left my gym toiletries bag and swimsuit in the locker room because when I when I went to search for it later I couldn’t find it.  I just had a really negative vibe going on.  That was last week.

This week I had practicing my good energy.  On my way to the gym a guy in the elevator asked me out for coffee (okay, he was about 9,000 years old and used a walker but hey, a date is a date, right? lol)   When I enetered the health club I went down to the desk.  The same gal that I had the “discussion” with last week was there.  I gave her my guest passes that I had promised her the previous week for my guest (they did give me my money back).  She took my expired guest pass and said “we’ll just use this one” and handed me back my current guest passes so I still have 3 guest passes left.  How nice was that?!?!

I went into the locker room and signed for a towel.  As I turned around the clerk said “I think we have your bag from last week.”  I had totally forgotten about it.  She handed me my purple toiletrie bag and my very expensive bathing suit wrapped in a separate bag.  I hadn’t been there for a week!!  How the heck did she remember that?!!?  How nice was that?!?!? 

I went up to the pool and did my workout.  It was actually kind of hard because I was practicing what Jaime had demonstrated the previous weekend about pulling in the water — making my entire arm feel heavy (not just pulling with my hands).  Okay, let me say this,  after about 1/2 hour I was really breathing hard and my arms were starting to feel, well, pooped.  Holy, moly, pulling is hard.  How the heck am I supposed to do this for 2.4 miles?  It’s much easy my old way where you just kind of float along in the water and don’t actually use any muscles.  Okay, okay, I’ll admit it.  I was going faster.   I can’t tell how much faster because we had to use a pull buoy much of the time as well.  But I will have the opportunity to see if I am any faster on Saturday when we do a key timed swim in the pool.  So we’ll see……

After the pool I jumped into the jacuzzi.  Nice and hot!! Big difference from last week.  That’s when I realized I was feeling high.  I was really feeling a buzz from the swim.  Not dizzy, a really clarity.  All of a sudden it dawned on me that I was experiencing what they call a “runner’s high!”  How funny!!  I’ve never actually experienced it running but now after putting in 1 hour of hard work in the pool (I was really WORKING) I felt the endorphine rush that people talk about.  I’ve never had it before.  Talk about a good mood!! I was really ready to rumble!  I tried to focus on the feeling and just thought to myself “if this is the result of positive thinking, it’s not too bad!!!’

Yesterday I did 1:15 minute spin on my bike.  It was supposed to be 1:20-1:30 but honestly I was so bored I had to get off.  I worked hard for the 1:15 but I have yet to learn to conquer the “I’m bored demon.”  I had plenty of energy, but I just wanted something more interesting to do with my time.  When that little boredom guy settles on my shoulder it is really hard to shake him.  Exercise seems stupid and mindless and I just want to escape (at least running or biking outside you get the fresh air and the scenic distraction — on an indoor bicycle trainer or treadmill the monotony can really get to me).  

I got off the bike and went to  my 1 hour pilates session with Elly.  I was nervous because I missed last week and I hadn’t be going to yoga either so I thought I might be a little off.  Boy, was I wrong!  That was probably my strongest Pilates session yet!  Even Elly made a few comments like “wow, what’s going on?”  I don’t know but my core and legs seemed stronger than ever!  Imagine what would happen if I did all the core work I should be doing?  I have to say it was actually kind of weird.  I’m not used to have mind and muscles in synch at the same time.  I will say I am feeling a smidge in my abs today and I might want to think twice about “showing off” next time — particularly with those scissor leg kicks — those hurt!!!

So today is WW.  I’m a little nervous to see the results of my positive thinking experiment on the scale.  (Deliberately no tracking this week and a lot of visualization).  Again my scale is fritzing out so I haven’t been able to weigh myself except for Monday.  I’m actually enjoying the little head game I’m playing with the scale.  Everyday I keep trying to use the scale and a little “L” pops up and it won’t work.  So I give up and then I try a couple of days later and it works.  As soon as I think it is fixed it stops working again.  It’s like a big reminder to me to stop obsessing about the scale.  As soon as I see the “L” it is like a reminder to think positive thoughts of being healthy and strong instead of concentrating on the number on the scale.  Today I’ll get weighed in at WW and let’s see if I gained or lost this week by just trying to envision myself as a healthy athlete. 

If I have to guess, I think I did better this week.  I don’t think I gained any weight, not feeling like I lost any either though.  Last night we had a big Indian Food dinner at bookclub so that might creep up the scale a smidge but I managed to resist an entire table laden with chocolate and ate not one piece (because I knew if I started with one piece I would eat ten!)

The other strange thing that has been going on is my not drinking.  I keep forgetting that I’m not drinking!  I haven’t had so much of a sip of alcohol since before midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Instead of being tortured by it like I thought I would, I find myself not even noticing it gone from my life.  I had planned just continue through the end of February but I honestly have to ask myself, if I’m not missing it, why bother?  I definitely don’t want to say “no drinking until after the Ironman” because I just can’t imagine that there won’t be a time when I’ll really want to have a nice glass of wine.  But right now, I feel really good and the idea of mucking up my blood sugar is making wine feel like a turn-off.   Okay, what the heck is going on?  Runner’s high? No desire for drinking?  No knee pain?  Powerhouse Pilates?  Is this all from the power of positive thinking?  I don’t know what to think.  I feel really, really, really good.   It’s kind of freaking me out.

[Okay, very funny aside.  I purchased “The Secret” on DVD and anxiously awaited its arrival so I could become totally obsessed with watching it every day.  It arrives and you’ll never guess what happened…  It was cracked!! ROFL, “The Secret” was cracked.  I just thought that was the funniest thing.  Okay, I guess it’s just me.]

Today is normally a swim day, but I got “permission” from my coach to do another run day instaed.  My knees and legs are feeling so good and I’m feeling so energized that I wanted to sneak in another run session before my legs figured out what was going on.  He agreed to let me do 45-60 minutes of EASY running concentrating on fast feet.  I’m so good right now that I feel like I could do two loops of Central Park.  Very weird.  Very Alien.  Very not me.  So I think the thing to do is do five miles on the flat in Riverside and leave myself wanting to run more.  Okay, is anyone else freaked out by that last comment?  I am….. 

One final note/observation.  Although I have been hydrating and taking my vitamins (I have four pills left to take and I will have FINISHED a bottle of 120 tables taking two a day….) my sleep has returned to normal.   I’m sleeping less than 6 hours a night again and I can’t seem to sleep more.  Last three nights, I try to go to sleep and I can’t.  I keep tossing and turning and end up watching Sex in the City falling asleep at 11:30 and then I’ve been up at 4:50 each morning.  Don’t ask me what happens at 4:50 — nothing.  No alarm, no anything.  I just keep waking up at 4:50.  I fall asleep right at the end of the show and sleep straight through until 4:50 and then I can’t sleep anymore.  Isn’t that weird?  Not 5 a.m., 4:50.   I had been hitting 7 hours for awhile but now I’m back to the old me.   Kind of wish that wasn’t the case….  Just an observation for the training records….


All power is from within and therefore under our control.”

Robert Collier

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