Monthly Archives: March 2007

3/30/07 Role Models

Friday.  Wow, does it feel like every time you turn around it is Friday again?  I did my swim workout first thing this morning so I would have adequate time to rest before the weekend workouts begin.  It was an easy 50 minute swim which I followed with a jacuzzi stretch session.  I say easy because it was just straight swimming.  I didn’t try to “bring it.”  I just tried to concentrate on good form and being efficient.  I wasn’t swimming any faster than my norm, but I think the effort that I had to spend was less to get the same times.  My 400 splits were all in the 9’s.  I ended up doing 43 laps in the 50 minutes.  Not great, not pathetic either.  Just same ole same ole.

Tomorrow we are in the pool again at 5:45 uptown for 1 hour of swimming.  Then we all grab our bikes and we head out for 5 hour endurance ride.  That’ll be okay.  Just a chance to hunker down with the bike and put in some quality time.  Then Sunday I have to do a solo run — I think only 1:30.

I had another okay week at WW.  I was down .8 pounds this week.  (.7 last week, maybe .9 next week?)  This is what I don’t understand.  I worked out about 16 hours last week.  That’s above average for the typical person I think.  I watched everything I ate (yes, I could have been a little more of a sacrificial lamb but I think I ate extremely healthily), I drank zero alcohol and ate almost no fried foods (I splurged on 4 skinny crab rolls when the team went out for lunch at the end of the weekend.)  I ate tons of fresh fruits and veggies and all kinds of good-for-me proteins.  And for all that effort I lose .8 pounds?  Would it kill the scale to just throw that extra .2 in there for effort?

Yeah, yeah, I know the song — I wrote it.  Losing inches not pound, muscle vs. fat, water weight etc.  Bottom line is there is no justice in this world otherwise I would be a size 2!  Okay, I’m exagerating but c’mon already, .8?!?!  What’s that about?  I asked my acupuncturist if he could help faciliate the weight loss and he said “oh you mean activate the lose 10 pounds pressure point?”  I said “yeah, do I have three of those?” LOL.  Seriously though, he is going to try to help but he said that my extreme low pulse (he takes it every time I come in and last week it was a whopping 48 after walking to his office!) is probably a sign of a very slow metabolism.  He said the good part about that is I am probably burning my fuel very efficiently — my cells are doing their jobs correctly.  The downside is my weight will come off very slowly.  Hmmm….  of course this got me to thinking…..  Right, I need to get my heart rate up faster, aerobic…  Suddenly I have a new found interest in 90 RPMS!!!  

I know I was genetically built to hang out all day in the fields tilling the soil and milking the cows and doing hard physical labor like some of my laborer-ancestors.  But why couldn’t I get the skinny genes from my academic grandfather who sat and read books all day and was a toothpick?  Or my other grandfather who grew up in the mountains of Lithuania herding sheep?  He couldn’t keep weight on himself at all — he probably ran a marathon a day as a kid.  No, I have to take after the grandmaternal side — and live to be a 100 but carry all the burden with me.  There is no doubt I am extremely healthy.  I know I can be stronger and fitter but I sure wouldn’t mind a little pink pill to speed up the process.  I admit to thinking “hey, what about these herbs and stuff that are supposed to speed up your metabolism?”  But the bottom line is I am naturalist at heart — I like to keep it like God intended — eat was is picked from the soil — then let’s go tote some bails of hay. 

Okay, that’s my whining for the day.  I am appreciative of the weight loss and I receive the health benefits with gratitude and yes, I would rather be down .8 pounds than up .8 pounds.  And, yes, this is a lifestyle and not a numbers race.  I’m not shooting to get somewhere fast, I’m aiming to live this way forever.  But let me just slip in one last time a little “No Fair!!!”  There.  I’m done.  Effort does not equal speed, effort does not equal speed. (Or so my marathon coach used to say.)

Today at our meeting we were talking about role models.  People who inspire you to do what you do.  I have plenty of sports role models.  Maybe too many in fact.  I have a new found respect for Natscha Badmann, I’ve always loved Martina Navratilova and Andre Agassi because they trained hard to play for years past what people considered their prime.  I have a lot of my personal friends who inspire me to keep training and blazing new trails into athletic worlds that before now I have never even thought about. (The only Ultras I ever knew about were a kind of cigarette).  I knew nothing about triathlons, marathons, swimming, cycling — this is whole new world to me and I am constantly inspired by endeavors of athletes who are older like Sister Madonna Bruder or disadvanted like the Hoyts.   But there is one kind of role model I couldn’t think of.  I couldn’t think of anyone who has been a weight loss role model…. Who do I follow for that?

But then I realized I have my WW group — they are my role model.  I turn to them to discuss my struggles with the eternal philosophical dilemmas like “which to eat first, the carrot or the chip?”  Or the existential question “if the cake falls on the floor and nobody is there to catch it, does it make a sound?  More important can you still eat it?”  My WW buddies get it.  They are my role models.  They are the people who understand life’s mysteries of how three margaritas can magically turn into a platter of nachos with cheese.  Moreover, they understand that there is no justice in this world because if there was any justice, the heavens would rumble, the clouds would part and a lightening bolt would strike that skinny girl with zero body fat eating the triple dip ice cream cone. 

Most of my WW buddies work out and exercise too.  Several of them run, most of them go to the gym regularly and we have several personal trainers who are lifetime members and struggle every day with injustices of slow metabolisms, obstinant genetics, constant cravings, psychological pain, emotional eating, family and work stress and the multitude of external factors that land on your lips and hang out on your hips.  They are my role models because they are in the trenches with me.   Every day when I get up and think, what’s the point? This celery stick might as well be a piece of cheese cake ’cause it’s not going to make me lose weight, I think of how hard my pals in our group are working.  They are weighing and measuring and tracking and struggling one day at a time.  And each week we cheer for every quarter pound lost as if it were our own and we sympathize with every pound gained because we’ve felt that pain too.  If that is not a role model I don’t know what is.  For them I am grateful and will continue on with my battle every measly .7 or .8 at a time.  Whereever that may lead.


The ball doesn’t know how old I am.”
Martina Navratilova

c’mon, that’s going on the fridge, big time!!! I might change it to “the bike doesn’t know how old I am!” Although my bike Tina is mum about our age, my bike Sylvia is a big mouth….

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3/29/07 Ga Ga for Goji?

Thursday.  Whew.  I am fairly pooped.  Several of my teammates feel the same way.  Not muscularly tired, sleepy tired.  I thought I got enough sleep but in fact I feel like I could crawl back into bed and sleep for about 10 more hours. 

Yesterday I had a follow up appointment with my accupuncturist.  I have to say once again he’s the miracle man.  My Achilles Tendon seems to be all back to normal!! Amazing.  Even after biking — it didn’t swell up or anything.  I’m going back next week for one last visit and another treatment for my breathing but if the current status is any indication, I believe he’s fixed me up again and I’m good to go. Gotta love those pins and needles!! Looks like he unblocked my stuck Qi!

I couldn’t get to the pool until 5 p.m. yesterday — too much work, but I got there.  We had a relatively easy swim.  (These days if I’m not wearing drag shorts or doing pushups I call it an easy swim).  It was a bunch of drills and repeats of progressive pickups and such.  It was only 2,000 meters which is shorter than most of my recent swim workouts so I was done in under an hour which was nice.  That gave me time to jump in the jacuzzi and workout any additional tension in my body.   This is a recovery week so everything is supposed to be not-so-intense — concentrate on form and get ready for next week. 

This morning we had our bike workout.  I felt okay during the bike it was just afterwards when I felt like I got hit in the head with a shovel.  We did pacelining and loops of the park.  We did 3 big loops and 2 little loops (I think, I can’t remember, isn’t that sad?)  We had the head bike coach for the tail end of the workout and let’s just say he has a different technique than the other coaches.  He was barking orders for us to snap to.  I have to give him credit though — he scared everyone into line and I think we did a great job.  (But then again, I ALWAYS think we do a great job so what do I know?)  He had us practicing touching the shoulder of the person riding next to us while riding.  Let’s just say we were all a little nervous doing that, but once again, we overcame our fears and we all did it. 

I will say this, I found it easier to keep up with the group this week.  I didn’t feel like I was lagging behind on the hills.  I guess Harlem Hill gets easier and easier each time you do it (and maybe they were not pushing so hard as usual).  Also I had a wide range of gears left from which to choose so I never felt like I was struggling to get up the hill.  (Funny how climbing mountains puts hills in perspective that way.) 

After biking this morning I had a Pilates session with Elly. We took it easy and did a lot of restorative work. Of course when I don’t work on my legs she loves to workout my arms (and core of course). She has come up with a whole bunch of stuff for my swimming. Some of them are pretty good. This is one we are doing for my obliques right now…  (You keep lower arm straight and use your obliques to do side crunches.  Fun, fun stuff!)


And we’ve added a variation on this one for swimming… (I do it with one arm pressing and one arm to my forehead while twisting up — more obliques…. But the pressing down is kind of like the pull in the water.)


 I did manage to get Westerly market and got a couple of interesting items yesterday.  Westerly on 54th and 8th is where I do most of my local grocery shopping as they have a great selection of vegetarian and organic foods.  They carry all that weird stuff like Tempeh and Goji berries that I like. I found a new item that I thought was worth noting. I’ve heard a lot about the Vita Muffins but I’ve never tried them. Westerly carries them in their frozen bread section and it caught my eye that they have a fat free version so I took a look. It’s a rather large muffin – 4 oz.  It is  200 calories (4pts)  0 fat, 8 g of fiber, 6 g protein and has 100% of RDV of vitamins and minerals.  (They say a serving is ½ a muffin so I just doubled all the numbers… who eats half a muffin?)  But for 4 pts it is a hearty muffin. I had one toasted this morning after bike practice and found it very satisfying. I thought also would make a great travel food — if you were going away for the weekend and not sure if you would find your favorite brand of Kashi or Steel Cut oats for breakfast you could whip out one of these with a banana and have a nice 5/6 pt breakfast full of nutrition. No muss, no fuss.

Okay, I know I lost everyone at the mention of Tempeh and Goji berries… I like Tempeh — it is made from fermented Soybeans and some say it is the most “perfect” food. You have to cook Tempeh (you can’t just toss it into stuff like Tofu) but it is really great to throw in to anything where you might put meat — like stir fry or chili or anything like that. They have a lot of different variations and flavors but it is a super protein source and full of all kinds of good nutrients. You can make it toasted and crunchy or softer depending on the recipe. A food for all seasons and recipes.

Goji berries are another great power food. I add them to salads a lot. They are kind of like little red raisins but taste a little tarter (not as tart as a cranberry but not as sweet as a raisin).  I think they go great with Arugula (my favorite green), crumbled (fat free) feta, a few walnuts and E.V.O.O. & Balsamic Vinegar. They are full of all kind of anti-oxidents and other good stuff that I can’t spell — phytowhatzamacallits……  The Goji berry is very common in Asia but here they are still an exotic additive. They are kind of expensive. $9.99 for a 8 oz bag but a little goes a long way. I’m sure if you went to China Town you could get them cheaper too. They are also known as wolfberries and I think I first heard of them at the organic market behind the Hilton on Saturdays in St. Petersburg (I’ve gone there every year for the St. Anthony’s triathlon). I highly recommend giving Gogi berries a go. I haven’t checked out how much they are at Whole Foods….

Speaking of St. Anthony’s that will be coming up soon!! Less than a month away. Next month I have three events. The Brooklyn Half-marathon. The Hook Mountain half-marathon (where we ride our bikes to and fro) and St. Anthony’s triathlon in St. Petersburg, Florida. I’m psyched for this event as it will be the first time I will have participated in an Olympic (I’ve done over 10 already!) where I feel so confident in all the distances that I can actually race it — I mean really swim, bike and run without being worried that I need to leave something for the end. Granted I will not be tapered for this event but knowing I “only” have to swim .9, ride my bike 25 and run 6.2 I’m excited to see how much I can push. Of course when I am done I have to go out and rerun the run course but that’ll be fun anyway to go out and find the last team in training participant and cheer for them.

There is a possibility that the following weekend after that I will be doing the Devilman 1/2 ironman in New Jersey. I haven’t made my decision about that one yet — that may be too much, I’ll discuss with coaches first. I have to look and make sure that I get a rest weekend in there before the “festivities” gear up again for May.

So now I feel like we are really about to move into higher training. Tomorrow we are back to a 2,800 meter endurance swim. Then this weekend we are doing 5 hours of riding on Saturday and on Sunday I do a 1:30 run.  My goodness that was a short rest…..


Since I am so tired today I hope you don’t mind I’m borrowing a quote from my dear friend and shero Colleen.  (She’s doing IM Arizona in April, Rumble Colleen Rumble!)  She found the following quote which we agree can be applied to many situations:

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, just results.”

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3/28/07 One Foot in Front of the Other

Wednesday.  Recovery week.  Feeling okay.  Monday was tired and stiff but not in pain.  I had a massage and Lesley thought my left hip seemed a little out of sort.  I noticed later in the day there was a little clicking going on (when you get to my age, random joint clicking seems de rigeur) but by the end of the day I think it worked itself out. 

Yesterday we did a recovery run up on the reservoir.  I met up with Charlee and Mary (our new Tuesday recruit).  I did my little speed walk up to the park and when I hit Columbus Circle I started to jog.  Ouch.  I was stiff like you wouldn’t believe.  I wasn’t sure I could actually run.  About 500 feet into it when I got to the little p.i.t.a. hill at Tavern on the Green (that little annoying final bump of the New York City marathon that drives me nuts!) I really couldn’t even run up it.  Oh boy, this is going to be hard!  I managed to creak out a few jogging steps once I got to the top of the bump and met Charlee and Mary.

As this was a recovery run Charlee was very strict that my heart rate was not to go over 119 and that I should be able to talk comfortably during the run.  All I was thinking was “I have to run up the westside hill?  Why not just shoot me now?”  But as most things in life, once you start to tackle a job it is not as daunting as it seems.  It starts with one foot in front of the other.  I started to tell them about training camp and, given the opportunity to freely yak away, before I knew it we were on the reservoir and starting our first of two loops. 

The funniest part of the run for me was Charlee constantly telling me to slow down.  Does that crack anyone else up?  Me?  Slow down?  We were barely moving.  But as each step passed I felt more and more of the creakiness leave my legs and overall I was not feeling that bad.  If anything I was getting a kick out of being told to stop speeding up.  (That just makes me laugh).  Hey you stop trying to run a 12 minute mile, only a 14 minute mile for you!! ROFL!!

By the second loop I was all back to normal and I really wanted to pick it up a bit.  Now Charlee was getting quite tough. “Stop it!  This is our recovery run, slow down.”  I was actually getting frustrated.  C’mon…  just a few steps faster, this is crazy….  “You are telling your muscles it is okay to recover.”  Okay, okay.  Recover already.  (The irony of this change in expectations and attitude is not lost on me, believe me….)  Once you start to shake out the cob webs, everything starts to work again — you just have to start.

As important as our Tuesday workouts are our Tuesday breakfasts.  We are becoming somewhat infamous as we move from coffee shop to coffee shop drinking astonishing amounts of coffee.  We exercise our philosophical muscles as much as our physical ones.  This week we were discussing what motivates individuals to different actions?  For example what was my impetus for trying to lose weight?  That was easy.  Ironman 2004.  I knew right then that I wanted to do an Ironman and set out on a plan to do it.  In 2005 I chose the year (2007) and I’ve been working on everything I needed to do to complete it since then.  Weight loss and the physical training is only one set of obstacles I have had to overcome.  The hardest part for me has been the mental training (or retraining I should say) that I have had to undergo.

Most of my friends who read this blog are already familiar with, but those of you who think of me as the mostly cheery and upbeat (ha, okay you can all stop laughing) I think it is only fair to explain, my Darker Side…  Mwha, ha, ha, ha.

As I have mentioned in passing in this blog, I am not unfamiliar with the discomforts of depression.  I don’t mind sharing with my friends and supporters (comiserators?) that for many years I didn’t really understand that what I was experiencing was depression.  I just thought life was by nature miserable for everyone.   Didn’t everyone experience the same general malaise?  Wasn’t it sometimes more debilitating for everyone?  I just thought that was life.  I managed to play tennis through depression, but I know now that those days where I just wanted to toss my racquet because I thought it was the most stupid activity in the world (What does it MEAN to run around a box with a stick in your hand chasing a stupid ball?) was nothing more than another sign that that I was on the mean side of melancholy.  

For those 18 years when I didn’t play tennis (smoking and drinking and recreational drugs were my only sports) I experienced a depression which only now from a distance can I see the actual depth.  (Like coming out of the Grand Canyon and looking at it from the edge and thinking “I was all the way down there?”)  It is a source of great sorrow for me to recall how bottomless the pain felt.  That’s what they mean by an abyss, right? 

My Journey to Fitness has been all about climbing out of that abyss.  A spiritual reclaiming.  When people congratulate me on my “achievements” (read finishing) in  triathlon I have to laugh.  Swimming, biking and running is the easy part.  It has been the conquering of my mind that has been the hard part.   That’s why for me the Ironman meant something different.  It really wasn’t about swimming 2.4 miles, riding my bike 112 miles and running 26.2.  Those were merely the distances I had to go to reclaim myself.  I had fallen over 140 miles into the Abyss and it would take me at least that far to climb back out.  Somehow I knew that day I watched the Ironman in 2004 that was the personal journey I had to undergo to find my soul.  And I also knew the Ironman alone was not going to do it.  It was the journey to the Ironman — that was where the salvation was to be found.  I know I talk a lot about crossing the finish line but really that is a metaphor for something much bigger.  For me it is the crossing through a doorway to the other side — to a different life.

I can say without a doubt that I suffer much, much less from depression (or the blue meanies as I like to call them) through training.  Without a doubt, swimming, biking and running help me to fend off the unwanted house guests.  Of course, like anyone, when in the grip of one of the blues it is hard to get motivated to move.  That’s why for me, having races and goals helps so much.  That’s also why tennis was so good for me as well — someone is expecting you to show up for the match. I couldn’t let my team down by not showing up.  Eventually captaining a women’s team and teaching tennis forced me to stay in the game.  I have found my fear of failing in a race or letting down my teammates will often out weigh my fear of being pinned down by the blue meanies.  (And I mean literally pinned down, unable to move.)

Training for the Ironman is just the next level of fear factor for me.  (I’m no longer afraid of the Olympic or even Half Ironman distances so I need something a bit bigger to make me not want to crawl back under the covers and dwell in the dark.)  Without a doubt since taking up the sport of Triathlon has reduced my depression, but I also believe that there are a few other factors that help as well.

I am not a scientist.  I am not a therapist.  I believe if you need medical attention you should get it and if medications can help you by all means do whatever is right for you.  (Tom Cruise can go…..)  But for me and I speak only for me, I have never sought the medication route.  I have had my struggles with all kinds of addiction (we’ll save those stories for another blog entry, lol) so I never felt like jumping onboard to something else I would have to quit one day.  That and the fact I can’t remember to take my freakin’ vitamins, I’m going to remember to take Prozac?

But here is what I do know.  There is some connection in my body (not speaking for anyone else) between sugar and depression.  I know when I eat foods with sugar or drink too much alcohol I feel a temporary elation and relief from the discomfort of depression but then I am left with a deeper melancholy than before.  I’m not saying one chocolate chip cookie and I’m looking toward the river or anything like that, but regular consumption of too many sugars (and there are a lot of hidden sugars in processed foods) I feel ultimately worse instead of better.

One or two glasses of wine do not have much effect but a whole week of partying?  The next week I am usually wearing blue.  It’s the overdoing that is my undoing.  The irony of it is, the more depressed you feel the more you want the “pick me up” of sugar.  Sugar can give you a buzz and if that gives you a moment of relief, great.  You are willing to sacrifice future pain for the relief of the pain of the moment.  I think that is what addiction is all about — the need for immediate numbing outweighing logic.

It’s not just sugars because if it were just sugars  I would be happy all the time now since I eat a 99% whole food diet (yeah, I indulge once in awhile in a treat) and for 3 months haven’t had as much as a sip of wine yet occasionally I do get visits from my little blue friends. 

Of course training is a great way to get away from the blue guys.  I also find the less sleep I get the more susceptible I am to unwanted visitations.   If I don’t take my vitamins regularly, I am also vulnerable.  But even in those perfects days when I get my sleep, take my vitamins, eat good foods I can still find one of the little blue men sitting in the chair next to me stealing my popcorn while watching American Idol — they have some kind of squatters rights I think.  But I do know that when I put on my bike shoes and helmet and head out the door, they remain on the couch waiving a blasé  “see you later.” 

I wish I had an answer for those people who suffer from constant visitations.  Imagine an unwanted guest staying not just for 3 nights or 3 weeks but for 3 years (or 18), constantly interferring with your plans, ruining your days and nights.  It’s no fun.  Worse is believing that there is nothing you can do to get rid of them.  Often it feels like it is easier to give up, to give in and think that you just can’t do anything about it.  Oh boy, do I know that feeling.  If I have learned anything over the last 4 years on my Journey to Fitnesss is that this is so much more of a spirtual journey than a physical journey.  This is not about how many pushups I can do or whether or not I can run a ten minute mile.  For me, this is about finding victory in the fight against those little blue men and, at the risk of sounding really melodramatic, my soul.  This is about showing them that despite their trying turn me into their Gulliver, these Lilliputians will have no power over me.  For me, defiance started with one thing, getting my right foot on the floor.  Then vitamins and nutrition.  Then exercise, then meditation.  The order has changed for me as I now find meditation to be the source of all energy.  When I find my center, I know I can go anywhere and do anything, but I couldn’t find that center until I balanced my physical body.

Okay I have much more to say on this topic but I’m starting to get depressed talking about depression!  So for now I am off for my swim and see if I can drown a few more of those little blue guys….  LOL


What’s it all about
Is it just for the moment we live
What’s it all about
When you sort it out
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind
And if only fools are kind
Then I guess
It is wise to be cruel
And if life belongs
Only to the strong
What will you lend on
An old golden rule
As sure as I believe
There’s a heaven above
I know there’s something much more
Something even non-believers
Can believe in
I believe in love
Without true love you just exist
Until you find the love you’ve missed
You’re nothing
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you’ll find love any day

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3/26/07 Training Camp #5

Monday.  Well our fifth and final New Paltz training camp, completed!  I have to say I had a great weekend.  Was just what I wanted, a chance to hunker down and do a long ride and run and see how I did.  I think it went great.  A challenge but great.  Not only did I think I did well, I was so proud of my friends because they all looked like rockstars out there.  Everyone of us has battled once or more than once this season the fear that maybe we didn’t have what it takes, maybe we were sick too often or whatever.  This weekend, I think, dispelled a lot of those fears.  Yeah, this is nothing compared to doing an Ironman but I think they threw some hard workouts at us and we all did it.

We started on Saturday with a 4 1/2 hour ride.  Even though I rode for the entire time, I only got in ~57 miles (not sure I started my odometer on time) because a good amount of the time was spent climbing a mountain.  (Compare to Firmman where I did 56 miles in 3 1/2 hours).  The distance limiter this weeked was the hills.  We had one section that was a 5 mile climb.  No kidding, 5 miles, uphill.  Correction, not uphill, upmountain.  It went on forever.  That alone had to cost me 40 minutes and a lot of ego.  When we finally got to the top we had to go back down and climb back up.  We had a time limit of 2:30 to regroup at the top of the mountain so I didn’t go all the way back down the mountain, just about five minutes down for a 15 minute climb back up.  That was hard.

Fun part was pacelining (riding in a line very close to one another) with a bunch of different people.   I find I can keep up with most of the group as long as we are on the flats or downhills but I am one of the slowest climbers on the team.  I know it is my excess baggage and hopefully that will change over time, but right now I console myself that at least I’m building muscle through my struggle.  Of course my larger ASSetts help me in my descent down the mountain so I can usually catch up with people there.  You have to love physics.  Gravity — it giveth and it taketh away….

There was a small group of us that kept playing catchup with one another.  I’d pass them, they’d pass me.  One gal is a great climber — I pass her on the flats and downhills but she can climb like a Mountain Goat and leave everyone on the mountain in her dust.  We joke that together we make one mean cyclist — if we could just find the right bike relay race…   I could always see a couple of red jackets (our team colors) on the horizon so that kept me motivated to keep trying to reach them.  My chain kept dropping a lot (I was not shifting properly and it needed a slight adjustment).  A small annoyance in the big picture.

At one point (before the mountain climb), I felt the presence of someone coming up on my left and I saw it was two guys from the team.  Fairly big guys and they were about to pass me.  I suddenly had flashes from my Tour de Pink days last summer when those guys from PA would yell to me as they were about to paceline past me “Whoo Whoo, jump on the train!”  So I quickly just jumped behind the two guys from my team and I stayed 4 inches from the second guy’s wheel and caught such a draft for a nice long ride that dropped me just behind a couple of my other teammates.  That was so much fun to get right behind them and ride with the big guys for a few minutes (I hung on for a good while and I think we were defintely riding in the mid 20’s — felt like at least 24 mph but I wasn’t going to take my eyes off the road to look).  At that point it was very gently rolling flat and that’s my best terrain.   Then we hit a small hill and whoosh they took off without even knowing I had been hanging on for the ride.  I never would have thought to do it if I hadn’t ridden with those guys last summer so kudos out to them!!  Fun, fun, fun.

After the riding and the climbing for 2:30 we descended down for some time trial work.  One of my big problems (besides lack of direction) is I didn’t know exactly where our time trial started.  I should have paid more attention to the map and directions.   Okay, everyone stop rolling your eyes, I did not get LOST!  I didn’t have to call anyone to pick me up from East Podunk (although I did take one wrong turn with the coach standing there pointing in the opposite direction!!)  Okay, I admit I don’t always pay attention to things around me.  I seem to fix my eyes on the road and the horizon and just pedal — totally oblivious to what is around me.  “I saw you pass when I was at the deli.”  One teammate said to me.  There was a deli?  I didn’t see it.  “I  stopped at the Mobil station.”  What Mobil station?  “Did you see the dead deer?”  What dead deer?  I have no idea where I am even though we’ve ridden these roads before.  At one point I said to my friend Nacho “uh, are we still doing the time trial?  I’m not sure how much more I can do at this pace.”  She said “what are you talking about?  We’re almost at the hotel!”  Until I see the Sushi restaurant I have no clue….  Oh boy, I need to study the maps more.  But all good.  I felt strong and like I could have kept going (on flat surface, no more hills please.)  And I have a bunch of splits on my watch — just not sure exactly what they correspond to!!  LOL

After our 4.5 hour bike, we had to quickly change into our running clothes and run for 1 hour.  I wasn’t in pain at first, I was just doing my slog until they made us turn and run down a steep hill and then up a hill and down a hill and up a hill.  My butt was screaming such profanities that I can’t repeat them.  I didn’t know that your butt muscle can reach all the way down to your bone and squeeze it like a python.    Oh. My. God.  that hurt.  I didn’t make it all the way down to the end of the road (where I believe there was one more hill waiting for me) as my time was up and I had to turn around and run back up and down, up and down the hills we had just run up and down, up and down. 

When I got back up to the flat part I was really worried.  I feared I wouldn’t be able to run the Ironman if it hurt this much for a 1 hour run.  But then right at the magical 40 minute mark (and flat) my legs loosened up and went into their little shuffle and my heartrate went to somewhat normal and I knew I was okay again and I would be able to keep going if I had to.   It’s just a matter of waiting it out for me.  Eventually my legs come back.  It’s those darn hills……  One of the gals on the team said afterwards — “there is no way we’ll do a course with hills this hard.”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her about the Degree of Difficulty — the IGA hill in Lake Placid that is definitely this hard…..

So that was Saturday — done.  Felt good and proud of myself for getting through it.  Most of all I was happy that I had not bonked.  My nutrition was good and I was not in any pain — (that glute muscle choking was to be expected and went away).  So I was able to shower, recover and go out to the team dinner which to me is the sign of great progress and better nutrition.  (Camps 1, 2 and 3 I was totally wiped out.) 

Sunday morning we got up and did a 2 hour 15 minute run.  I had a hard time with my breathing and heart rate during the run.  At first I couldn’t get my breathing under control.  Our warmup was up a hill which was not the best for me, but eventually I made it to the top.  I couldn’t get air into my lungs and my heart rate was at a whopping 120 (that’s really low).  Then we had to run up and down a series of hills.  The first hill we went down I couldn’t get my heart rate going.  It was stuck 124.  I thought perhaps my heart rate monitor wasn’t working because I was certainly breathing hard.  I had to walk back up that hill.  It was too steep and I was running so ridiculously slow that it made no sense to try to run — I just opened up my stride and walked up as fast as I could. I guess I was more fatigued than I thought.

But then it got better.  I made it down and up the next group of hills   I was doing  13 minute  miles which is not that good considering it was only mile 3 and 4 but the hills were very steep.  My biggest problem was I couldn’t get my heart rate over 126.  On the uphill I think I got it to 130 which is ridiculously low.  Yet my breathing showed effort and I thought my legs were moving.  I was okay with this becuase we were supposed to be running at marathon effort + 2.  (If you run an 8 minute mile then run a 10).  But in my case marathon effort + 2 is sitting at the bar having a cocktail so I have to kind of  keep it in perspective.   I just tried to run at pace from which I knew I had a little leeway to pick it up later.

At the 1:30 mark we were to run back up onto the flat road (yeah! hills done!) and start picking up our pace for 30 minutes.  I thought I did this really well for me.  I  felt like I had great cadence going and good posture and felt strong and focussed.  Only problem, according to my heart rate monitor, I was still not working.  It was just stuck at 130.  It wasn’t that I was running next to anyone (which might have given the heart rate monitor a misread).   I couldn’t understand it.  So I just had to go by perceived effort.  I was really pleased that I felt good on the flat and that I had something extra left to give.  So I give myself a C- on the hills and B for the flats for performance and an A for effort all around.  Not bad for me.   We finished with a 15 minute cool down jog and then we piled into our cars to go back to the hotel to grab our bikes.

Back at the hotel we all grabbed some quick food (for me, banana, TLC peanut bar and chocolate milk).  Changed into our clothes and went out for a 2 hour “recovery ride.”  I say “recovery ride” because the hills I had to get up and over were harder than the 5 mile climb I did the day before.  Of course, we were all fatigued at that point and any hill was going to seem worse than it really was, but everyone was moaning and groaning on one particular hill.  I was shaking at one point and I knew the bike wanted to stop but I refused to end my training camp weekend with getting off my bike or stopping.  I have to say, that was every ounce of my being to push/pull this body up and over that hill.  Short but so steep, tears started to form in my eyes.  Not kidding.  But after that it really did flatten out and I got to spend some quality time on the rolling flats. I had lost my group on the hard hill but I didn’t care, I was happy to just keep spinning along and I was so happy that I didn’t fall off my bike.

I caught up to one of my teammates, “Nacho”  who had a flat.  I could tell she was exhausted and I know that feeling when you are just so tired and then something like a flat tire happens.  You just feel like packing it and calling a taxi.  But there is some strange law of the universe that when it’s not your flat, you feel okay.  I can’t explain it.  If it had been my flat tire, I would have felt the same way she did, like “oh come on, give me a break….”  Like it was the last insult fifteen miles from the hotel.  But since it wasn’t my tire, I felt fine about stopping and fixing it.  I can’t explain it. When it is for someone else, you find the energy.  Plus this is this is the same gal who during my first week of training was the only person who waited for me while I was doing my hill repeats so I’ve always felt she deserved good karma.  I was happy to repay a kindness.

It’s funny that those three flat tires I experienced in my Disney Half Ironman have served me well in the last year.  Whenever I get a flat now my first reaction is, it’s not 100 degrees in the boiling sun and it’s only 1 flat?  No big deal!!  So I find I can change flats pretty quickly now. Just goes to show that even an awful experience like 3 flat tires in one race can serve as a good lesson for later on.

While fixing the tire two more of my good friends “Thelma and Louise” (dubbed for their run ins with the law in Central Park) rolled up to join us.  (We have given ourselves all little nicknames — mine is “Towanda” like from the Movie Fried Green Tomatoes).  So Thelma & Louise, Nacho and Towanda made a nice little paceline to catch up with the group.  This is was fun for me as well.  We did great pacelining and rotating — very impressive.  Next thing we know we caught Coach Kim and one more of our teammates and had six of us to paceline back to the hotel.

That was the end of training camp #5.  I really can’t believe that I have finished five New Paltz training camps.  Even more than that, I can’t believe how far I’ve come.  From being petrified before the first one.  Scared by the second one. Nauseated by the third one.  Rejuvenated by the fourth one and finally inspired by the 5th one.  I’m ready to meet the challenges of the longer distances.  I’m ready to continue to fight to do this.  I’m not feeling tired or jaded or frightened (although maybe I should be.)   I am also not afraid of this coming weekend’s 5 hour bike ride.  In fact I look forward to it.  I still love the bike and if not for the big hills, I would stay out on the bike all day everyday.  But I have to lose some of the junk in my trunk to make the uphills less painful.

I can’t worry about the number of pounds I have to lose.  I can only concentrate on the process of healthful eating and exercise and let number reveal itself.  I am acting “As If” I am already where I want to be.  I am eating healthy quanities and quality food.  It may take a long time, but the good news is I’m not going anywhere.   This doesn’t all suddenly stop come race day.  This is a lifestyle and I have to be happy with living it and I am.  I’ll just keep getting better and better.

Unbelievable that in 4 more days I will have gone 3 months without a sip of any alcohol!!  Whodda thunk it?  I will admit that the nice weather yesterday was calling for a nice glass of wine and putting my feet up with a good book.  I have decided to give myself the option to enjoy a glass or two after the St. Anthony’s race on April 30th.  IF I want it.  I don’t want to pollute my bloodstream before the Bronx Half, Hook Mountain or St. Anthony’s.    But if I make it through all three of those races and maybe have a good result at any one or them, then then I may do a little celebrating with a really good, GOOD, glass of wine (or two) at the end of April.  But only if I feel like it and feel like I can process it.

So that’s where I am.  118 days or 16 weeks until Ironman, but who is counting (besides me?)


Towanda, righter of wrongs, queen beyond compare! …

AKA Rumble Girl!!

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3/23/07 What a Difference a Day Makes

Friday.  Well we still have rain but my attitude is a lot better today.  Looking back over my blog and training journal I realize that my big problem this week had been not getting enough sleep.  I was simply too tired and that let the blue meanies in the door and I overate a bit and let that depress me.  But after a good night’s sleep and a little exercise I feel much better, back on track (tracking in my journal — Only missed yesterday so that’s not too bad.) 

I had another great meeting at WW and I was down .7 this week as well.  That too, made me feel a lot better (of course kicking myself for my Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday when I knew I could have eaten better because then I would have been down even more.)  But I relearned a big lesson this week about maintaining focus on lifestyle not number.  So for this week, I am putting the scale away in the closet.  I want to just focus on an athlete’s lifestyle and journal and workout to the best of my abilities and enjoy my life.

Had a great compliment this morning that really made me so happy.  I went down to the gym for my Pilates workout with Elly (very good workout, she’s really stepping it up and coming up with a lot of Triathlon specific exercises for me which I appreciate.)  After my workout I was at the front desk and one of the swim instructors stopped me.  I’ve been going to this club for years and I see this swim instructor all the time and he has never said “boo” to me — he’s never even nodded at me.  He stopped me and said “Hey, I saw you swimming last weekend on Sunday.  Very impressive freestyle.  Very aggresive.  You’ve improved a lot.”  Wow.  I was so thrilled.  He witnessed my little PR. (Later I thought about it and realized he must have been watching during my 8X25 pickups because my freestyle is not aggressive) but I was thrilled with the compliment anyway. 

I immediately started to tell him about my PR and my workouts and the drag shorts and the pushups.   I told him my times for my 400’s which I know are not impressive to someone like him but he didn’t blink and say “oh you are too slow.”  He did the math and told me what I had to do for 100’s and then to start working on trying to get progressively faster on my 100’s.  (I just nodded because it was too complicated — I just follow the workout my coaches give me — too many coaches spoils the swim.)  We talked for about 20 minutes and he gave me some tips on doing pushups on the wall which I thought was a good idea.   It made me feel really great to have someone give me an unsolicited compliment on my swimming — an area that I had been struggling with for so long.  Aggressive Freestyle, me?  Whodda thunk it?

So I have to pick up Tina from the shop today — hopefully she is all fixed up and ready to ride for the weekend.  Training camp #5.  Last training weekend in New Paltz.  Our plan is to ride for 4.5 hours on Saturday followed by a 1 hour run.  That sounds okay to me.  Actually I am looking forward to the 4.5 hour ride — I am looking forward to some time in the saddle and letting my legs go for it.  The 1 hour run will be slightly painful but doable — an hour is nothing.

On Sunday, however, we do a 2.5 hour bike ride followed by a 2.5 hour run.  Now there’s the kicker.  I’m not worried about the 2.5 hour bike ride.  But the 2.5 hour run after the 2.5 hour bike and a 5.5 hour workout the day before.  That might be tough.  I’ll do it, I’ll find a way to give it 110% but it’s probably going to hurt.  I’ll pack my bottle of Tylenol and my tub of Tiger Balm.  The good news is it will be warm out.  The bad news is it will probably be raining. But this is nothing compared to what lies ahead of us.

I got some new running shoes I will be trying out for the weekend (bringing my old ones along too.)  These are some new fancy shoes — will give my report on them Monday.

The workouts will start to get longer and longer.   I don’t know, maybe I’m just drinking the TriLife coolaid, but I’m feeling ready to take it to the next level.  Definitely ready to start riding longer.  I felt like I wanted to ride more last weekend and this past Thursday.  I would like to spend more time on the bike.  The run… eh, I’m enjoying my Tuesdays more since running with Charlee, just not sure if I am going to be able to translate this into more effective solo running.  This will be the big test.

So all in all, a great way to end the week and launch a training camp weekend.  I can’t help but feeling like yelling the Olympic Motto — “Citius, Altius, Fortius!” “Swifter, Higher, Stronger!”  Okay, okay, I probably drank too much coffee today, but I’m still revved up and ready to rumble anyway!


The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.

Wayne Gretzky

I agree, although “nice shoes” is nice to hear too….

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3/22/07 Attitude is Everything

Thursday.  Had an interesting day yesterday.  I went to see Mark my acupuncturist for my tender achilles tendon.  After a long run or bike, I get a little bump on my Achille tendon and I have to do a lot of massaging to get it to go away.  I was worried that it was a sign of things to come and I know that once your Achilles Tendon goes, you are out of commission so I am trying to be proactive.  Mark healed me two years ago before the New York City Marathon so I figured why not go back and start getting treated now?  Little did I know that he was full of a lot of great ideas!

Last weekend when I was watching that movie “Goal!” about the kid playing soccer for United in England, one of the subplots is that he is trying to hide the fact that he has asthma from him coaches.  He is under the assumption that he won’t be picked for the team.  Later, when it is discovered that he does have asthma the coaches don’t understand why he didn’t tell them and say “There are so many things we can do for asthma, injections, medications, acupuncture.”  Acupuncture?  I had no idea acupuncture could help with asthma?  So I made mental note to talk to Mark about it someday when I had another injury which turned out to be the following week!

So I told Mark about the problem and he said he definitely could help.  First thing he shows me are where my pressure points are in my feet and arms that activate the lungs.  He told me to massage these before I started to run and it would help.  To identify where your pressure points are on your arm, raise your arm until it reaches your nose.  At that point where your nose meets your arm is approximately where your pressure points are.  (You have to root around a bit to find them.)  It really did start to help me immediately.

Then they loaded me up with needles and they also did something different this time.  They put little dabs of some herb cream all over my acupuncture points and heated them with burning incense.  It felt like little needles but there were no needles.  Cool. (Or hot depending upon how you look at it…)  I definitely felt like I could breath better.  I have to do a couple more sessions with him and then he says it should stick for awhile.  Crossing fingers!!  Wouldn’t that be great to be able to breath and exercise?!?

The root of my Achilles problem is apparently in my calf and he said it felt like there was some old injury in there that might be the cause of it.  When I left my calf was definitely sore and I was wondering if I could do the swim workout — drag shorts and all.  I decided I would just go to the pool and see how much I could do.  I did the workout but didn’t find the drag shorts as exhausting as last time.  Maybe last time I was coming off my cold and weaker?  I felt the difference between wearing the drag shorts and not, but I wasn’t as exhausted.  (Also I didn’t do the warmup kicking drills so that might have effected it.)  I still managed to swim for 1:15 minutes in the pool by substituting kicking with other drills.  When I jumped into the jacuzzi and the heat definitely helped as did putting tiger balm on before bed.

By the time I woke up this morning at 4:30 a.m. to be in the park by 5:30 a.m. for our Thursday a.m. workout my calf was feeling fine and my Achilles was definitely better.  We did the same workout as we did last week  4 loops overgearing and trying to outride the rain.  So 24 miles of hard riding before 7:30 a.m. is not a bad workout.  Plus the few minutes riding to and from the park ends up pretty close to 2 hours of pedalling.  That had to burn off something! 

I’m feeling a little bad like I might have gained some weight this week which depresses me a little.  I was feeling so light on Tuesday and then Tuesday night and yesterday I have felt kind of blahhhh weight wise.  I bought a scale and I’m tempted to throw it out because it said I was up 4 pounds but I don’t know if that is the scale or me.  All I know is it depressed me and I’m finding it hard to maintain a positive outlook.  I think I will just put the scale away until next week and start using it on the same day as a WW meeting so I can have a good comparison of the scales.  I know, I know, I’m not supposed to concentrate on that number.  Concentrate on how I live my life at my goal weight.  I thought I was doing that, but sticking to it is another story.  I have to remind myself that I don’t have to fall off course just because the tide is pulling me in a different direction — I steer this ship.

I did find some inspiration yesterday in an unexpected place.  I was trying to find menus of what any Vegetarian Ironmen eat.  I know Dave Scott (7 time world champion) is a vegetarian but apparently he just eats baked potatoes and cottage cheese a lot and I’m looking for a little more variety.  I discovered that one of the athletes I love for her spirit and outlook happens to be a female multi-time world champion Ironman AND a vegetarian — none other than Natascha Badmann who is displayed prominently on my refrigerator door in a big poster of her smiling crossing the finish line.   (Natascha is famous for her unyeilding smile throughout races.)

I didn’t find any of Natascha’s menu plans (I may email her for ideas) and unfortunately her website is mostly in German but I did find a couple of interesting articles and the story of how she got into triathlon is quite interesting.  Basically she was a “fat housewife” in her own words and started triathlons after the birth of her daughter (13 years ago) to lose weight.  She said she tried diet after diet but nothing helped her until she start eating pasta and moving more.   Of course, I have no idea of how “fat” Natascha was before she started triathlons but based on her tiny physique now, I would gather it wasn’t that “fat” and I have a sneaky idea she was probably a pretty good athlete prior to giving birth as well.  But regardless, I found some inspiration there that even a world champion Ironman struggled with her weight and managed to overcome it.

So although I still admire Michellie Jones (love the power and the pink!), I think Natscha has moved up a notch my Shero list (no official rankings on this list just additional exposure).  I think Natascha will get a photo entry in my personal journal to remind me to keep positive and keep moving — great things will happen.


“Attitude is Everything.” 


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3/20/07 The Good, the Bad and the Sleepy

Wednesday.  Happy Spring.  Yes, I know it doesn’t feel like it.  But let’s pretend anyway.

I did my run workout yesterday with Charlee.  Lot’s and lot’s of hills.   We had to run HARD up Cat Hill to Cleopatra’s Needle and MODERATE recovery back down as many times as we could repeat in 10 minutes.  I basically made it once out and back and then part way up Cat Hill again.  Then from whereever we were at the ten minutes we had to do a ten minute out and back in my “new-steady-state” which is slightly out of my comfort zone.  (I say “new” because that’s what Charlee calls it.  We are trying to get out of my old steady state which I guess I have just trained myself to run too slow…)  Because I’m so slow to begin with, I kept ending up on Cat Hill to do my Out and Backs so I ended up doing 6  repeats of Cat Hill alternating between Hard and my “new-steady-state.” 

Charlee has all these different levels she thinks I can run at.  We have our old-sustained-pace, our new-sustained-pace, moderate-recovery-pace, recovery-pace, hard and her infamous you-can-find-one-more-gear pace.  I keep trying to explain to her that these are shades of grey I just don’t have yet (I have moving, moving a little faster and still moving.)  Her response is “I know you don’t think you have these variations, but we are going to PRETEND like you do, so just do it.”  Uh, okay…..

It wasn’t that long of a workout – 1 hour of hard effort plus my walk to the park and jog from Columbus Circle to Danny and from Danny to and from the boat house.  But boy oh boy were my legs tired!!  Charlee says the workout is designed to trick my legs into thinking we have gone further than they have (to get them into that exhausted state) and then concentrate on the steady state.  It worked!  I am starting to understand that my legs are going to give out if I rely only on muscular strength and not turn over.  I’m understanding it but executing it is another matter.

The best part of the workout was the last ten minutes where we were trying to run at my new-steady-state on my newly exhausted legs.  While we were running Charlee gave me a visualization of the last out and back right before the end of the Ironman.  She started talking me through it like we were running it together.  I was definitely running a little faster and on our final descent down Cathill I hit 150 heart rate which is really good for me for a downhill because I find it hard to push downhill and get my heart rate up.  I am such a sucker for a good visualization and Charlee did a great job.  Very good.

Blah, I overate yesterday.  It was my turn to host the bookclub and I had family coming in from out of town and too much work to do so I ended up just ordering in instead of cooking.  Of course I ordered from the wrong place (for me).  I wanted the food to match the book which took place in the South (Confessions of Nat Turner) and I know that the gals from bookclub like meat so I ordered in Southern BBQ.  For me I ordered the side orders of rice and beans and corn with cheddar cheese (oh my God, did I really order that?)  So of course I had a grand old time carbing out.  It was easy to send home all the meat with the gals as I don’t eat it anyway, but the left over rice and beans were definitely calling my name.  Darn, I was doing so well too.  But I’m trying to release — I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to be perfect.  Darn it all, I want to be perfect!!! Semi-perfect?  Almost-perfect?  Not-so-bad?  Oh, who are we kidding?  That was bad, could have been worse though.

I really want to be in total control of my eating all the time.  I don’t have a problem with eating rice and beans, I have a problem with overeating rice and beans.  I woke up this morning not hungry which threw my whole morning off.  I usually wake up starving (it has usually been about 12 hours since I last ate) so I know what to eat.  I don’t know what to eat for breakfast when I’m not hungry.  “Just don’t eat then” you say?  That is not the right answer either because then I won’t have the right energy for the rest of the day, blah, blah, blah.  See how one bad meal can wreak havoc?  “Lighten up you say?”  Yeah, maybe you are right.  I so want to show a lower number tomorrow at WW (is that phrased in the positive?) I still dont’ have a scale so I’m nervous for the surprise that awaits me tomorrow. 

All is not lost though.  Just took a peek at today’s swim workout, guess what’s back.  Drag shorts!! Oh yeah, fun, fun, fun.  That’ll burn a couple zillion calories.  I’ll try to put in  a good core session too but between work and accupuncture it is going to be a tight fit to get everything in and entertain house guests.  (Going to have Mark my accupuncturist take a look at my Achilles tendon and also see if he can help me with breathing a little better.)

I’ve not slept enough this week and I’m feeling it.  I have try to get to bed really early tonight and Thursday so I can put in a good effort tomorrow and the weekend. 

Training camp #5 coming up this weekend in New Paltz.  This will be our last training camp.  I can really feel the difference in the athlete I have become in the last couple of months.  I remember before my first couple of training camps how nervous I was.  Now I’m not nervous, I’m feeling more focussed and ready to settle in and do the work.  I know it is going to be hard, but I know what I have to do and I’m ready to do it.  This has to remain my focus.  I am ready to do this.  I just need a nap first.


I tried being reasonable, I didn’t like it.
 Clint Eastwood

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