Monthly Archives: May 2007

5/30/07 Memorial Day Training Camp Part 4

Final installment of the Crucible (Coach’s name for Memorial Day Training Camp Weekend which I have decided is a good name).

Monday morning.  We have to do a 45 minute continuous swim followed by 1:40 run.  I’m not looking forward to the swim because I have the dragsuit from Hell.  The water is ice, ice cold — stinging my face.  At first I can’t get my face into the water so I did my warm up lap with my head above water.  I kept trying to put my face in but it hurt.  Finally after the fifth or sixth time the water froze my face numb so I was able to swim.  I’m not exagerating — it numbed my face so the pain went away.

We swam with swim partners again.  My partner and a lot of other people were having difficulty with the cold water and their breathing.  I couldn’t understand why I was not having any problems breathing.  That was the entire reason I went to the lung doctor and I thought that was what we diagnosed as the cause of my exercise induced asthma — cold water and cold weather.  But I was not having any problems breathing.  I saw at least 3 (so that means there were more) of my teammates struggling with breathing in that water.

Meanwhile my swim coach is on the war path to get me to swim with longer strokes.  (When I ran into the coaches the night before I made the mistake of saying I was going to be the last Trilifer out of the water and apparently he’s just not going to have that.)  So he’s yelling at me to press my body down and reach long, reach long.  Okay, okay, I think I think I do that but apparently not.  I think what happens is I can only concentrate on one thing at a time.  So when I reach long I forget to catch the water.  When I catch the water I forget to reach long.  Then when I have both of those things going my head position is wrong and I don’t kick right.  So for this swim I decide to just give in to it and reach long and press down.  In order to do that I have to concentrate on driving my arm and twisting my torso so there were a few things I was thinking about.

The swim was hard.  It was just as hard as that first time I put the drag shorts on in the pool.  Not only was my wetsuit not helping me, it was making it harder.  I keep driving twisting and reaching, driving, twisting and reaching.  Oh yeah, catch the water, catch the water.  Oops, forgot to reach on that one….  Oh my God is that MORE water in my wetsuit legs?  I can feel two big balloons at my calves.  There is water all throughout the suit.  I thought for a second about unzipping the legs but I didn’t know what that would do so I decided to just lump it.

I make it to the dock and my Swim Coach is telling me it looks good.  Yeah, yeah, looks good, I’m dying here.  This is a total muscular workout.  I feel like a horse pulling the plow through a field.  I head out for another trip around.  45 minutes of this was going to kill me.  Finally after the second time around I make it back to the dock and I see another coach there.  I keep trying to pull the wetsuit down from my chin (it rides up to my chin and pulls down on my legs — a nightmare).  “I think I should stop now” I lament in my most pitiful voice.  “This is too hard! My wetstuit is dragging me down.”  I demonstrate by pulling at my neck to show him how far up my face the wetsuit is climbing.  He says “I think you should should work through the discomfort.  Continue.”  You gotta be kidding me.  That was my most pitiful look — he probably couldn’t see my eyes through my goggles, had he been able to see I know he would have taken pity on me and let me stop.  Instead he just waives me on and yells out “Good Byeeee.”  Off I go into drag hell.

Finally my watch says 40 minutes.  I see other people have left the water already.  My obsessive/compulsive personality takes over and I want to finish the last 5 minutes because then at least I did the whole workout.  But I had to get the stupid wetsuit off me.  So I head back to shore and swim around in little circles for 5 minutes until it was time and ripped that dragsuit off of me as fast as I could.

That was it.  I was sick of swimming I was sick of biking, all I could think was “thank God I just get to put my running shoes on and go running now.”  I stopped for a second and pondered the irony of that statement.  Running my weakest link was now my preferred link?  How funny was that?  I just felt like running was something totally in my control.  No equipment issues.  No bike to futz with, no westuit to fight with.  Put on my running shoes and go.  This was it.   1 hour and 40 minutes from now I would be done with the training camp from Hell.  I can do 1 hour and 40 minutes of running…  Right?

As soon as I started running I knew something wasn’t quite right.  My heart rate read 124 which is low but I was gasping for air like I was sprinting to the finish.  Very strange.  I guess the cold water did have an effect on me but I hadn’t noticed until then.  For the first mile I was having difficulty breathing.  I was able to move but I couldn’t really catch my breath.  Then another coach caught up with me and ran with me for a few minutes.  I told him I needed to walk and catch my breath.  He walked with me and said a lot of people were having problems breathing.  That water was cold.  I soon picked up my pace and jogged until the 1 mile marker.  Then everyone walked for 1 minute and let me tell you it was a welcome rest.

The final run was hard.  My legs were tired.  My lungs were tired.  Systemically I had energy which was good — I did not bonk once the entire weekend so I get an A+ for nutrition.  But my legs were feeling heavy, I was having a hard time holding my core and quite frankly I didn’t give a hoot about Chirunning posture or anything else.  I was just watching the clock.  I was going to run out 48 minutes turn around and run back 52 (two big hills.)  It was a nice run because I saw everyone from the team running opposite me and I got a couple of hugs and some people ran over to give me little updates on their weekends.  I just love everyone on the team, they are such great people.  Everyone was so nice and I think we were all feeling the thank-god-this-is-about-to-be over high. 

I turned around at the half way mark searching for my mile markers with a vengence.  I really wanted to walk.  Any little hill, I walked.  My legs were starting to burn.  I told one gal “I’m having a Jane Fonda moment.”  That became my line for the next hour.  Going up the hills my butt and hamstrings and quads just burned.  Feel the Burn, Feel the Burn I could hear Jane saying in my head.  Oh I feel it alright.  If this is not making my butt smaller, nothing will!!

On the run back I was starting to fade muscularly — not energy-wise.  My legs just didn’t want to move.  I’m doing a shuffle and finally I say, enough I have to walk.  Right then Ron (one of my oldest triathlon friends — he did my very first Tri with me in 2003) yells out — “Not Yet!  The mile marker is just  a little further!”  Oh God, okay, if it is really just a little further.  So I pick it up again and now I am in Hell.  Lord, Jesus, take me now.  This is all I have left in my body. So Ron tells me it is just past the Alpine something or other there is a little bridge.  Just make it to there.  He passes me and I keep running watching for him to stop so I can see where the mile marker is.  He’s not stopping.  He’s going and going and I’m thinking where the heck is that freaking mile marker and there is no way I can run that far.   Then I see him stop.  There that is my final mile marker and I start running toward him like I’m running to God.  I hit that mile marker and I let out a Hallelujia!  (I’ve only run about 6 miles at this point so there is no need for this over reaction but I’m in third dimension of spiritual pain.)

The last little section from that one mile marker to the IGA hill I do my best run of the weekend. I just let it go as fast as I could (which is still slow so it is no big deal).  But I promise myself if I can run to the gas station on IGA hill I can walk up the hill but I have to run like I mean it.  This is the hill I am going to be walking on race day.  I make it to the hill and I’m all smiles because now I get to walk.  Brisk walk but walk.  Then my butt when into overdrive.  Oh.  My. God.  My butt started burning and cramping.  Walking is not easier at all.  My legs are so tight it is all I can do to keep going.  I realize, this is what it is going to feel like race night at 11 p.m when I am walking up this hill.  Every fiber of my being is going to be screaming “Take me Jesus, take me now!”  So Jane Fonda, Jesus and I finish the hike up to the top of IGA hill and I see that it does flatten out and I can do a little shuffle to keep moving.

At exactly 1 hour 38 minutes I make it back to camp.  I have no desire to complete the extra 2 minutes.  My obsessive compulsiveness has been dropped at the bottom of IGA hill.  The coaches usher us into the ice cold water to stand in it up to our waists to soak away the soreness in our legs and our souls.  Memorial Day Training Camp weekend was officially over, the Crucible was conquered — or was it? You would think we would be all whooping it up and cheering.  We did all give a little cheer but really, we all kind of knew that the work was not over.  All we had done is completed one more step along the way.    We were not finished.   Not by a long shot.  In fact, in many ways, we were just getting started. 

The last words ringing in my ears as I pack up my gear and head for the hotel is one of the coaches saying “Race Day will be harder.”    Oh Lord.  Jesus take me now…..

Namaste

“I think it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one’s self.”
Arthur Miller

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5/29/07 Memorial Day Training Camp Part 3

Yeesh, what is more of a workout, doing the training camp or documenting it?  So day 2 ended with a team dinner.  Looking around the room full of pasta pushers I saw a lot of exhausted faces and I too was certainly ready to hit the bed.  Due to pending thunderstorms they moved our Sunday workout to 6 a.m. so it was essential to get to bed early, get a good night’s sleep to be up in time to get everything ready and on the bike by 6 a.m.  6 a.m. — I’m an early riser but even I could have used a couple more hours of down time.  Felt like I had just gotten into bed when the alarm was going off to get up again.

Sunday’s workout was to be two loops of the bike course — hopefully before the rain settled in — thunder and lightening was in the forecast.  We ride in the rain.  We ride in the thunder.  But in case of lightening we head for cover.  Best scenario was to ride before the storms hit. 

We were to do the first loop holding back and then negative split the second loop.  If we didn’t think we could finish the two loops (112 miles) in 7 hours we were to skip the Haselton out and back on the first loop and make it 100 miles.  (I wasn’t sure if I could do 112 miles in 7 hours on this course…) 

I proceeded to do the course as prescribed.  First section no real problem, I was holding back on the hill out of town — perhaps I held back a little too much so now I know that when they tell me to hold back it is probably not by as much as I think they mean.  I have to take into account it takes me awhile to get warmed up so I probably hold back a little naturally. 

The good news is I tweaked my bike a little by reseating the skewer on the front wheel.  When I got to the 6 mile downhill I did MUCH better than the day before.  I was really pleased with that.  I maxed at 37.8 mph which is not my highest to date but I KNOW it was the fastest I ever went down that hill.   If I do exactly that speed race day I will be very pleased because it was fast but I was in control.  I hear people hit 50 mph?  Not sure I even want to think about that.  Maybe 40 because I know I have done over 40 before but 37.8 was just fine.  I hung onto Marisol right to the bottom of the mountain and that pleased me very much.  I think she went faster at certain points but I kept an even speed and caught up at the end.   Ironically I ended up being much slower on that leg of the course from the previous day.  I took 4 minutes longer than the day before for that same stretch. 

The 9w buffet was just fine but I held back the entire time.  Several times I wanted to bust out and just go for it but I held back knowing I had a second loop to prove myself.  I was really hoping to beat/meet my previous day’s time of 3:45 and I really wanted to negative split the course.  I took 3 mintues longer than the day before on the 9w buffet and I am positive I could have done that much faster.  (One gal passed me and it was all I could do to not go into a harder gear and chase her, but I resisted.  Patience, patience, patience.)

The rollers were just as much a pain in the neck as the day before.  A couple of people who I passed on 9W passed me on the rollers and I never caught them again.  That was okay I was sticking to my plan.  I was 2 minutes slower on this stretch.  (I wasn’t aware of how far off I was on these time segments – -I was just clicking the lap splits on my watch for later analysis.)

Then I had to make my big decision about whether or not to do the Haselton out and back.  I really, really, really wanted two full bike loops.  I thought about what the coaches said and I decided to overrule them.  It was more important to me to get the full bike course in than to run from the storm. If I was to get caught in the storm at least I would have one complete loop under my belt.  When I hit the out and back Coach Kim and a couple of the other gals were about to head back to camp when I told them I was going to do the out and back.  If I ended up doing the entire course in 7 hours 30 minutes I was willing to take the risk.  So I took off on the out and back.  This section was really surprising slow to me.  I was 8 minutes slower than the day before.  I didn’t think I was holding that much back until Jaime and Nacho caught up to me (so that group all decided to do the out and back too!).  The day before the three of us rode the out and back pretty much together.  Now they were passing me and leaving me far behind.  That should have been my first hint….

The next section is kind of disgusting so skip the next three paragraphs if squeamish or get grossed out easily.  My job is to document my journey and this is part of it so here goes.  It was actually a big moment for me.  Let’s see how do I put this….  Most of the good triathletes are not willing to take the time off of their race to do anything they could take care of on the bike.  That’s why we eat and drink and don’t stop for cupcake breaks.  If you are out there for 6, 7 or 8 hours and stopping for 5 minutes can mean the difference between finishing in sub 12 or in my case sub 17 you don’t want to stop for anything including going the bathroom.  So most triathletes learn to pee while riding their bike.   This is a talent I have never mastered (or tried for that matter).  But it certainly seems a rite of passage and people will tell you when they finally learned to pee while riding.

As I was riding the Out and Back I really had to pee.  (That’s actually a good sign that I was hydrating properly).  There tons of trees and woods everywhere.  I could have easily jumped off my bike and ran into the woods but I was so caught up in my time that I really didn’t want to stop.  I wanted real numbers.  So I decided if not now when?!?!  I was going to try to pee off my bike.  (I told you this was gross!)  I had heard all the tips.  Do it going downhill.  Stand up off your saddle, move your hips to the side.  Don’t hit your water bottles (I know gross! But this is the world I ride in now!)  It was very hard to do.  I had to try really hard but then I did it!!  I was so proud I felt like a two year old who had been potty trained!!  I peed off my bike, I peed off my bike!  One problem is you are supposed to use your water bottle to wash your leg off but I only had Heed in my water bottle.  I figured what the heck, it was some kind of water and washed my leg with Heed.  (I’ll have to figure that one out for the future.)

The funniest part for me is I kept telling every teammate who passed. “Hey I peed off my bike!”  And every single one of them said “Congratulations!! Hope you missed your water bottles.”  It was so funny.  Everyone had a little story to tell about something stupid they had done at one time or another.  I just had to laugh.   It was just another thing triathletes talk about openly where in other circles you would never discuss such things.   Later, the next day on the run, I had two people say to me “hey, I pooped in the woods for the first time!”  It just cracked me up that these are milestones in our lives.   Don’t get me started on body glide conversations….

So after the out and back and the new found skill set it was time to hit the Cherries and the Bears for the ride back.  So close and yet so far.  As soon as I left Haselton the rain hit.  And it hit hard.  Oy, here we go.  Now I had to climb these hills with rain instead of a headwind.  (I had to think hard which would I prefer, dry with head wind, wet without…  I chose wet without.)  If I had to climb, I would rather be wet than windy.  I was trying to find that perfect balance of getting up them efficiently but without going to fast or too slow.  On the hills I don’t have a lot of room for slowing down.  If I am going 7 mph, what am I going to do?  Go down to 6 mph and fall over?  So I just did the best I could with what I had.  As I’m heading up the hill my teammate  DC comes by and tells me I’m doing a great job.  Yeah, I said, this sucks!!  He was so funny, he yells out “Embrace the Suck!”  It became out motto for the rest of the weekend.

Then out of nowhere I hear someone call my name.  It turned out to be Donald and Julia my friends from the city.  What were they doing there?  It so weird.  I’m out in the middle of nowhere again and out pop two more friends like we were taking a cruise in central park.  We are 5 hours away from the city on a 56 mile bike course, what are the chances of running into one another.  I wasn’t too sparkly at this point, I was getting drenched despite wearing my Gore Tex jacket and worthless rain shoe covers.    I grumbled something about being wet and miserable and Donald yells out “If it’s not rainin’ it’s not trainin'”  Remind me to sock him one next time I see him for that one…

I make it up the Cherries and Mama Bear and Baby Bear when all of a sudden one of the coaches is there offerring me a course modification everyone is doing because of the rain storm.  Of course he is not suggesting we stop riding — too bad if you are soaked to the bone, deal with it.  But, he is not unreasonable and can offer an alternative to going down the 6 mile mountain in the rain storm.  Loop around the run course and come back to 86 and go out to Wilmington and climb back up the Bears.  Now I know my way around after doing the courses a couple of times and I realize this was exactly what we did on Friday — a fast ride out to Wilmington and a tough climb back up the Bears. 

I didn’t know what to do.  I really, really wanted to do the full two loops but I really, really didn’t want to go down the 6 mile mountain side and risk my life.  Then I saw two of the fastie fasts coming down Papa Bear — they were trying to do the modified course but didn’t follow directions exactly and the Coach went off to get them.  I decided well, if the fastie fasts are doing that option it’s not really a cop out for me to do it.  I had some time before I had to make my decision.  I would proceed as if I was going to do the loops and work out my guilt on the way.

It didn’t take me much time to choose the modified route.  By the time I refueled and worked my way down to River Road I was soaked and my visibility was not that great so I took the cut and started heading down to Wilmington.  I almost immediately regretted my decision.  This wasn’t much better.  I was still going down hill and the rain was pummelling me.  This was not fun….  And now I am freezing cold.   (The day before I was out in short sleeves, now I was freezing to death.)  I am riding down the road to Wilmington, I’m being pummelled by rain, cars are passing me so I had to keep a steady line.  I see a stick in the road ahead.  There is no room to go around it and I’m going too fast to make a fast break.  I’ll try to swerve around it.  Just as I am approaching it a car passes and I have no choice but to ride over it.  Seconds before I ride over it, I see that the stick is full of nails pointing straight up.  Oh my God!!  I’m going to get a flat!!!!  Shoot me.   All I kept saying was “Jesus, Lord, Take Me Now!!”  Then phewt,  psssssshhhhhhhhhhh, the sound of my tire going flaaaaaaaaaatttttt.

Okay, okay, I can change a tire in my sleep (Disney Half, 98 degrees, 3 flats).  I had also practiced with my little CO2 cartridge after not being able to use in Montauk so I was all set.  The rain is just beating on me.  I take off the wheel and remove the tube.  About three cars stop and ask if I need help or a ride.  About 4 cyclists yell out asking if I need help.  No, No, I’m fine, thanks all (and to myself I think, if I didn’t have to stop and answer you all I would be done by now!)  But I knew they were just trying to be nice so I tried to keep my cool. 

I changed the tire quickly and popped on the CO2 catridge to inflate the tire.  phhhhhhhhhht the CO2 cartridge blows out.  What?  No air into the tire.  Shoot me.  No really, just shoot me now because I only have one more CO2 catridge and for some dumb reason I had thought 2 CO2 cartridges were all I needed.   I checked the valve on the tube.  It appeared to be broken — I couldn’t twist it open or shut.  I don’t know if I just broke it that second of it had been broken already.  Meanwhile the rain is pummelling my back.  I yell up at the sky, “Can you give me a break for a freakin’ second please?!?!?”  Now I am starting to really feel the cold. 

I take out the bad inner tube and put in my last spare.  I take out my last CO2 cartridge and inflate the tire.  Some of the air leaks out.  It’s partially inflated but not enough.  The stem is not long enough to get a good grip in the CO2 cartridge.   I keep calling out to for someone to shoot me and put me out of my misery.  Now I must do the unthinkable — get someone to stop and help me.  Lord, how embarassing.  I KNOW how to change a tire.  I just used a CO2 cartridge Friday morning.  I had put a brand new tire on — not just just a tube.  This was ridiculous and unfair!!!

Then one of my old TNT friends and Trilife alum Ewan stopped and helped me pump up my tire.  He inflated it enough that I could ride back to camp.  Now I’m starting to shake.  It’s cold I had been standing out there for a good twenty minutes.  I was cold and wet and I knew it was not good.  Then my teammate Rob pulled up, Ewan went on his way and Rob told me I could ride with him.  He had spare tubes and CO2 cartriges.  I made Rob inflate my tire with more CO2 and of course he had no problem whatsoever and had to tease me about being a girl which of course did not add to my enjoyment of the moment.  As I held the bikes I started shaking from my head to my toes.  I couldn’t stop.  I was so cold and wet I thought I was going to pass out. I started to ride with Rob but it was downhill and the more we went downhill the colder  I was getting and the harder I was shaking.  I made it about 1 minute and said “I have to turn around, I can’t make it.”  This was no question in my mind — I would be lucky if I got back to camp.

I turned my bike around and started to head back up the hill.  Of course once I turned around and headed up the hill, I started to warm up because I was working hard.  I stopped shaking, I was no longer cold, I was wet but darn it all, I was fine!!!  Unbelievable.  In five minutes time I went from death’s door to, oops sorry, I’m okay…..  I make it up the Cherries and I hit Mama Bear.  The rain stops.  You have GOT to be kidding me.  The rain stops, the clouds start to clear and I’m heading into camp with an inflated tire, I’m no longer cold, weather is fine and I don’t know what to do.  I could do another 30 no problem.

But I am at the 7 hour mark on the clock but not quite 6 hours of riding time (breaks, stops for teammates, refueling, flats, etc.)  I am not even at 80 miles.  I had to make an executive decision.  I couldn’t go back out on the course because I had no supplies.  So I just rode around Mirror Lake until my bike said 6 hours and 80 miles.  Pathetic.  How dramatic and how anti-climatic!!!!

I got back to base, dumped my bike and put on my running shoes.  I had to do a 50 minute run now.  (You didn’t think we were done did you?)  I ran up to Mirror Lake and turned around at the 25 minute point and then ran back to camp.  A lot of the fastie fasts were already back in their hotel rooms and were shouting out nice encouraging words.  We have such nice people on the team.  (They had done 2 full loops in the pouring rain and their 50 minute run already!)   Yeesh.  So I just consoled myself by saying I put in more hours than they did — I didn’t cover the distance but I was out there suffering just as much. 

That was the most miserable ride ever!!  I didn’t get to get my splits for the second loop.  My bike is a filthy muddy mess.  I am feeling defeated, deflated, demoralized.  Dear Lord, let this be over.  All the while I am thinking, am I ready to do an Ironman?  I don’t know!   I’m supposed to know after this weekend, but I don’t know!!!!  Other people said they knew they were ready to do the Ironman after Memorial Day camp.  I didn’t know.  In fact I was pretty sure all the data was pointing to the contrary — I’m not ready!!!

I headed back to my hotel to soak my butt and my ego.  I was feeling pretty bruised all around.  I didn’t get the job done.  It’s the same as a DNF.  No different than missing the cutoff.  I wasn’t very happy with myself.

I met up with a couple of teammates for a lunch.  The majority of the team didn’t do the full course.  Of course I wanted to be one of the few that did the whole thing.  I should’ve just gone down the big hill.  Regrets.  Excuses.  I was disgusted.

I was very tired but I couldn’t nap so I started to go shopping.  That’s when I KNEW I was depressed because I didn’t want to buy anything.  I met up with Charlee and Jen and had a cup of coffee.  The coffee perked me up and I made note that I might want to incorporate some afternoon caffeine into my race plan.

Then we ran into, of all people, the coaches.  The last people I wanted to see.  I was feeling like such a loser.  Not only was I the slowest runner, and from the day before apparently I’m the slowest swimmer, now I’m the slowest cyclist too.  Maybe that conversation about being dismissed from the team would be coming afterall.  I’m feeling in real danger of missing all the cutoffs.   Oh Lord, should I tell all my friends to stay home now?  Of course the coaches had all kinds of nice encouraging things to say but they are paid to say that stuff.   I was in the nothing-you-can-say-is-going-to-make-me-feel-better mode.  All of my previous day’s yoda-zen was out the window.  I’m going to fail at the Ironman.  I can’t believe this.  Of course everyone is pooh-poohing all of my apprehensions and fears.  I did the first loop in 4:09 today.  Did you hear me?  4:09!!!  Why isn’t everyone sounding the alarm?  This is serious.  This is dangerous.  Why isn’t anyone concerned except me!?!?!?

Apparently nothing was going to fluster the coaches.  Okay fine.  I’ll go meet up with Michelle, Donald and Julia and Julia’s mom for dinner and then I’ll go to bed and get up for yet ANOTHER day of training.    I will just keep putting one embarassed foot in front of the other until I’m done.

We had a nice dinner.  As accomplished Ironmen themselves, Donald and Julia always have a lot of nice words to say and great advice.  Once again Julia came out with the one line that made me feel better — “bottom line is you are not going to know until race day.”  She had a point.  These are all just numbers and a lot of stuff can happen between now and then.  Stuff happens.  I can get better, I can get stronger.  I could get more flat tires.  I could have more wobbly wheels.  Bottom line is I can’t predict or know that.  All I can do is go out there and give it a shot.  All I can do is hunker down and do the work.  If the triathlon Gods are smiling on me and if I make it past the first marathon cutoff, I’m finishing the race, that’s all there is to it.  I will do everything in my power to make sure I cross that finish line.  Until then whining about it won’t get the job done.

As my friend Mo so eloquently put it at St. Anthony’s — work harder.

Namaste

“Embrace the suck.”

DC

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5/29/07 Memorial Day Training Camp Part 2

Training Camp continued.  So on Saturday I woke up with about 4-5 hours total sleep and filled with self-doubt and anxiety.  I knew we had a big day ahead of us — ride one loop of the bike course, run a half-marathon plus some distance around Mirror lake (or 3 hours whichever comes first) and end with a swim.  Basically a half-ironman’s worth of training.  

Although I was mentally strained, physically I felt okay.  I made mental note that the Epsom salt bath I had taken the day before definitely helped.  (As did my chocolate milk which is all I take as a recovery drink now).  I also felt that I kept up well with my nutrition although I am not going to use Cytomax for my drink of choice on the bike.   (One of my goals was to practice each day with a different nutrition product to test them out.)  Cytomax had a pink Lemonade flavor and although it went well with my bike and color scheme — it did not go well with my stomach.  It caused me a lot of gas so I decided that it was not going to be a race day product of choice.

For my second day of riding I switched to a formula of Hammer Perpetuem and Hammer Heed — 6 scoops of Perpetuem and 1 scoop of Heed for flavor.  Each bottle was just shy of 850 calories and I drank almost 1 1/2 bottles for the loop (and I had 1 bag of sports beans and 1 fat free fig newton cookie when my stomach growled.)  I alternated sipping off the concentrated Heed with regular water. So for 3 1/2 hours I took in 1400 calories which is actually just about right. 

I was also wearing my new spiffy helmet and sunglasses.  They were both a hit.  I finally found the right sunglasses to wear on the bike.  The Rudy Project Wraps were great.  They were light, comfortable and since they had no frames to interupt my line of sight I was not distracted by them at all.  Loved them.  They also didn’t fog up on me with temperature change.  My new helmet was extremely comfortable and although I am sure I look like a wannabe wearing it, I liked it.  So two check marks for the new Rudy Project equipment.

One of the goals for the bike portions of the weekend was to get as many splits as I could so I could have benchmark information for race day.  We were doing the bike course as a group and would stop at the major turns where the coaches would give us a briefing about each section.

The first section out of town I started with my usual riding pack but everyone was slowly pulling away from me.  Coach George rode with me for a bit and told me to be careful to not go out too fast on the first portion.  There is a big hill to climb and it could be a real energy zapper and better to take it easier and not blow everything on the first climb out of town.  He asked what my heartrate was and I told him that although I was wearing my heartrate monitor it wasn’t registering due to the bandages I had to strap across my chest.  I had some open cuts from my heart rate monitor rubbing earlier in the week and they had not yet healed.  He asked for my perceived exertion level and I said it was a 3 out of 10.  My problem was not cardio — my legs were just not working.  They weren’t hurting they just weren’t working and I really didn’t understand what was going on.

Then the terrain must have changed slightly because the next thing I knew my legs started to pick up the pace a little bit and before I knew it I was passing by a lot of people with very little effort.  It was a kind of rolling terrain.  More downhill than up and it really suited my riding style.  I picked off about 4 people without blinking and without effort.  And then came the part I had been dreading  — the six mile descent.

Last year Stephanie and I rode the six mile downhill and I found it totally nerve wracking because my bike shook so much.  I hoped and prayed that the new tire I had just put on was okay (the day before I had to stop once because it was shaking).  It’s bad enough going down a mountain for six miles — having a shaky wheel makes it very scary. 

Fairly quickly a couple of people who I had passed on the rollers now were hunkered down in aero and zipping past me.  I was going about 35 and sure enough my front wheel started its little wobble and I pulled back.  Not worth killing myself over this downhill.  I was disappointed but I just got through it.  As long as I stayed at about 30 miles per hour I was okay.  Total time Bike Start to Keene: 50 minutes 29 seconds.

Then we turn onto Route 9 heading into Jay.  This is my little stretch to call my own, my reason d’etre.  Coaches call it the buffet zone because it is a good flat place to load up on your calories. Here I really can let my legs go and get what I call my Montauk spin going.  Tick, tick, tick, no thoughts, no muscle exertion, just foot to the pedal, seat to the saddle, arms in the aero.  I feel really great in this part of the course.  Here I pass several people and leave some of my compatriots behind.  (But all the fastie fasts blow right by me.)  I am feeling in a good head which may be what helps me later on. Pity this section can’t be longer and I feel sad when it comes to an end.  Total time out on 9W Buffet Zone: 31 minutes 03 seconds. 

The next section I am calling the rollers.  We have to make a sharp turn to stay on 86 and immediately I was hit with rather unpleasant little uphill.  Grandmothers with walkers were passing me on the uphill, but I just stayed with the plan of even exertion.  I was aware that I am clearly not bonking,  I am not doing the timed feeding as I did in Montauk, now I am just looking for opportune spots to grab my drink.   When I hit the downhill part of the rollers I pass about 80% of the people who passed me on the uphill.  A little voice spoke to me and said “make note of this, you can take it at your pace going up the hill and trust you will catch them all on the downhill.”  I felt my confidence starting to strengthen a bit.  Nothing too terrible going on.  Soon Coach Kim pointed for me to turn to start my first attempt at the Haselton Out and Back.  Total time on the rollers to Haselton: 24 minutes 47 seconds. 

The Haselton Out and Back was not that bad.  Nothing too eventful.  A little bit of a rolling hills but nothing that caused me to question myself.   Lots of teammates riding with and I felt okay.  I was really surprised at how close the splits were. Total time out 24:37, total time back 24:24. 

And then the fun began.  The last stretch.  My personal nemesis.  (I’m sure it is everyone’s least favorite part.)  But on Saturday I had a real meeting with myself.  I started the same route that had whipped my butt the day before.  The first thing I noticed is that the headwinds were not as bad as on Friday afternoon.  Okay that was good.  There were headwinds but not like Friday’s headwinds.  Then I hit that section I call the Great Wall and I started to struggle again.  But this time, this time I was ready.  I started to climb up the incline and sure enough a nice little headwind hit me.  Again, not as bad as Friday but enough to make my life hard.  But this time I started a new mantra.  Instead of getting mad at myself I started to say “this is what it feels like to….”  In that case it was “this is what it feels like to go up an incline with a headwind, your speed goes down to 7, 8, 9 mph and you keep pedalling.”  I really focussed on ignoring the speed and keeping my feet to the pedals.  It didn’t change my speed from the previous day, just my attitude about it.  There is nothing wrong with me, this is just what it is.

In Weight Watchers we talk a lot about separating actions from identity.  For example, they encourage us to not say “I’m an overeater.”  They would rephrase it as “last night I overate because….”  The action of overeating is not the same as identifying yourself as an overeater.  Identifying yourself as an overeater is like giving yourself a life sentence to that action.  Isolating the action and separating it from identity is freeing.

As I was pedalling so slowly up the hill, instead of getting mad and telling myself that I am too old, too fat, too slow… whatever, I changed the negative self-talk.  I said “this is what it feels like to go up a hill in a head wind.  When you are down on 9W that is what it feels like to do the Montauk spin.”  These are two realities that make up my whole.  No judgement, no reprimands.  It is what it is. 

I wish I could explain how freeing this thought was to me.  I could feel all the mental demons from yesterday dropping their forks and slithering under the rug — busted!  They were totally disarmed.  This hill struggle was not a failure on my part.  This was simply one aspect of my riding ability and it is my job to do the best that I could with it.  This moment was the most important moment of my entire training camp weekend.  It was a true epiphany.  Suddenly I saw every part of my training in a different light.  I am not a slow runner.  I run slowly at times and even more slowly at other times but the ME who is I is not a slow runner.  I am a person who at certain moments runs slowly.  I am cyclist who at certain moments struggles to get up hills but also excels at riding on flat rolling terrain.  I am swimmer who is not slow but rather has a confident rhythm.  I am many things, not one.   These are actions, not my identify.  And this one hill is just that, one hill, not a reflection of the entirty of  my training or my being.  I know this sounds so elementary but for me it was a real eye opener.

If I learn nothing else on my journey to the Ironman, coming to know and feel the difference between action and identity was worth the entire trip.  To be free from self-recrimination was a moment of salvation.  The ripple effect it had was huge.  Days when I feel sluggish — it’s not ME, it’s one day, one aspect, one action.  Yes, it is my action and I have ownership of it and I can strive to rid my life of further occurences of this action but it is not the total of ME.  Huge.  Total time from Haselton to Cobble Mountain: 1 lifetime to date plus 54 minutes 45 seconds.

So my total time from the bike start to Cobble Mountain Inn was 3:30 minutes.  That’s not quite the entire bike loop, I had another couple of miles to go to get to the oval.  I’m estimating another 10-15 minutes to get to the Oval and refuel so I’m calling that loop 3:45 minutes.

But the fun wasn’t over yet.  Now we had to run 16 miles or 3 hours whichever came first.  I’m actually feeling pretty good at this point.  I have a new attitude, I am not bonking because I had been refueling regularly.  So I make my quick change to my running shoes, my camelbak with Heed in it, throw on my metronome and set out for my run.   I did the first four miles pretty well for me.  They were all 12 – 12:30.  I wasn’t even trying for speed, I was trying for cadence.  I had my metronome set to 90 beats per minute and I just concentrated on tick, tick, ticking my way down the course.  I didn’t really know where the mile markers were so I was going by feel.  Good posture, good cadence — that’s what I cared about.

About mile 4 Coach Ross made me stop to walk and practice walking 1 minute for every mile — as if we were walking through the aid stations.  I didn’t want to stop.  I was feeling good and I wanted to just keep going until I hit a wall.  I knew a wall was coming eventually so my plan was to capitalize on my good attitude and my good physicality and then later when I wasn’t feeling so sparkly I would do the run/walk thing.  He wasn’t having any of that and made me walk and talk.  So of course I tell him about my nightmares that they were going to kick me off the team and he scoffed at that.    I was feeling pretty good at that moment so I agreed that perhaps I had overreacted a little bit.

Once the minute was up I got to start running again.  Now my little magic spell was broken and as long as I saw teammates coming, I felt okay.  Once Michelle passed me on the out and back I knew there would be no more friendly faces coming my way.  River Road was getting longer and longer.  When does this thing end?  When do I get to turn around?  In a second I was back in my old familiar movie “The Blair Witch Project.”  Every tree looked the same, every bend in the road seemed like one I just passed.  Rocks looked the same I even thought I saw the same fisherman twice.  I had to blink twice for that one.  It was getting harder and harder to hold my core.  Then all of a sudden I heard a Spanish accent yelling out to me “Shoulders Back!”   Oh my God, I couldn’t believe I was out in the middle of nowhere, minding my own torture and who was coming up behind me but my old marathon coach, Ramon.  Is there nowhere to hide from Team in Training?!?! LOL.

“Shoulders back, SHOULDERS BACK!” He yelled at me.  In my mind I tried to defend myself, my shoulders are back, this is my Chirunning lean.  Yeah, it’s my lean.  But I didn’t want to insult him so I threw my shoulders back.  “SHOULDERS BACK!” he yelled one more time and then I realized that I wasn’t leaning from my heels, once again I was leaning from my waist. Yeah I’m pulling my shoulders back but I’m hunched over.  Darn…  I pulled up my upper body and thought — oh well, back to square one.  Ramon gave me some encouraging words and then turned around and headed back.  “I’m too old and tired to go all the way to the end, I’m turning around here” he joked.  No fair, I’m seven years older than him — I don’t get to turn around!!!

I kept plodding to the turnaround.  This was now entering the not-fun zone.  I was getting tired.  I was mentally bored.  I was having a hard time holding onto my focus.  I didn’t have a focus.   OMG, I better have a lot of friends out here on race day ’cause this is scary boring out here.  I got to the end and turned around.  Soon I saw my friend Jaime coming (she’s a faster runner but started her run later than I did).  She turned around to run back with me knowing there were plenty of miles to make up around the lake. 

Soon the coaches appeared in a car with water.  We needed it,  my camelbak was nearly dry and I sucked down three large glasses of water.  Then they told us to head back to camp via route 86 — via the Bears.  I guess they were cutting the run time short so we could get more swim time in.   We figured shorter was better and took off the back way to camp.  At this point I am walking more than running — not due to physical pain, mentally I had given in.  Once I had a cohort in crime who would walk with me, I didn’t feel the need to walk.  Whenever it was flat Jaime would start running and then I would start but I had no inner fortitude to get myself to keep going.  I did walk briskly up the hills and when we got back to camp we had been out for 2:47 and by my calcs we did approximatley 12 miles because we retraced some of the route.  Eh, good enough. Did I really care?  No…

Then we had to head down to the beach for our swim.  The water was c.o.l.d.  It was stinging my face it was so cold.   They put the buoy out at approximatley 1/4 mile so we would have a 1/2 mile loop to swim.  Soon my face, hands and feet were numb anyway so I just kept swimming.  The lake is really nice but looking toward the end of the lake it looked far away.  We were supposed to swim for about 30 minutes.  I set out on the first loop with my partner Rob and we were struggling — he with his breathing, me with my stupid wetsuit.  I stopped a couple of times for Rob to catch his breath.  The water was so cold a lot of people were having breathing difficulties.  Strangely I was not…. 

If I could rip the wetsuit off me, I would have but the freezing water was preventing me from doing so.   Finally I made it around the buoy and back to the dock where Coach Scott was swimming.  “Are you okay out there in the water?  Do you feel relaxed?  You look relaxed.”  Yeah, I answered, I’m relaxed, but that must be it, right?  Are we done?  “No, go do another loop.”   Another loop?  I thought you said we only had to do 30 minutes!??!  That must have been 30 minutes.  “What does your watch say?”  I looked at disbelief at my watch, 14 minutes, ARGGH I had moved from the Blair Witch Project to the Twilight Zone.  “Another loop.”  He said and ushered me on….  

Finally finished with day two of training camp and I was feeling very conflicted.  Yes, it was definitely better than Friday but it was hard.  We had basically done a half ironman and the next day we were to ride 112 miles on our bikes.  I really questioned whether or not I had this in me.  Is this possible?  Can I do double this workout?  Why am I doing this?  But then I also had to be real with myself.  I wasn’t in pain.  I actually had more stamina that I have had for many races.  Most of this was mental agony.  Most of this was me trying to fight against myself.  I don’t wanna.  Not so much “I can’t” as “I won’t.”   Ah, Weight Watchers coming back to haunt me.  I can’t track my points, I can’t weigh and measure my food.  “It’s not that you can’t, of course you can, but you won’t — now the question is why not?”   Okay, Yoda, enough  — I needed to get back to my room, shower and change and get to the team dinner and then to bed and up to start all over again.  Two more days to go?   They shoot horses don’t they?

day 2 — ~54 miles bike, ~12 miles run, ~1 mile swim.

Namaste
“Do or do not… there is no try.”
Yoda

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5/29/07 Memorial Day Training Camp Part 1

Tuesday.  Home, survived Memorial day.  I’m quite sure several people are expecting me to say things like “Great!” “Awesome!”  “Total Confidence Builder!”  I’ve heard that people leave Memorial Day Camp and are ready to do the Ironman right away. I’ve heard people even use the word “Fun.”  Well I’m sorry to report that won’t be me.  I’ll sum it up by saying it was kick-ass hard and was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.  Yeah, sure, now I am sitting in my apartment in New York and can look back and say “I gave it good effort,”  “I’m stronger for it,” “it was character building.”  Like child-birth, once the intense pain is over your body sends chemicals to your brain to block the memory so you’ll be stupid enough to do it again.  One of my teammates summed it up nicely — it was a reality check.  I’m doing an Ironman and for the first time I have an inkling of what this is going to feel like — hard doesn’t begin to describe it for me.

One of the reasons I found the camp so difficult is because it confronted both my physical and mental demons right out of the block.  I’m used to a little pain and suffering when working out.  I’m used to feeling slower than everyone.  But to start the entire weekend so poorly and know that I had not even begun to endure what was ahead was more than a little overwhelming.  I was sending out smoke signals for rescue crews the first night.  I was very close to calling 911 for an emergency response unit.

Michelle and I drove up to Lake Placid on Thursday night.  We had so much stuff packed into my little car that there wasn’t room for one more gel pack.  We had to bring everything.  We had to be ready for hot, cold and wet weather.  We had to bring our wetsuits, workout clothes for a weekend, our bikes and accessories and all of our nutrition.  Between just the two of us we filled up my entire trunk and the back seat of my car — narry an inch of free space.  Michelle had to ride with her legs sticking out the window to make room.  (kidding of course).

I was “kicked out” of staying at CobbleMountain inn where the rest of the team stayed because the room I had reserved had a leaky roof so I ended up in town at a place called www.northwoodsinn.com  It wasn’t bad.  It was old and kind of on par with a Super 8 but I had my own little kitchenette and sitting area and it was very convenient to everything.  I was also happy to be a little away from the hustle and bustle of camp.  I had a hard time sleeping, I was anxious about the upcoming activities and by the time I actually hit the bed it was after 11 p.m. and I was already off my usual sleep cycle.

We started our training camp on Friday afternoon with a ride.  We rode down the marathon course to check it out.  So far so good — that was all downhill so I kept up just fine.  We cut across River Road and when we got out onto Route 86 they wanted us to do a time trial out to Wilmington and back up to base camp.  The asked the slower riders to start first — nobody moved so I just pulled up and said “I’m not shy I need all the head start I can get.”  So the coach gave me a three second count down and sent me off.  I pedalled, pedalled, pedalled as fast as I could.  Woo Hoo, I was flying!  Down one hill, down the next, long grade down, more down.  Yeah!!  I’m a rockstar!!  Soon some of the fast people on the team started passing me but I was okay, I was really cooking.  I felt great.  We hit the end of the road in Wilmington and started our way back.

Almost immediately I was hit smack in the face with a headwind.   Okay, just keep going, a little headwind is not going to kill you — you’ve had that before.  But then it just kept coming.  Okay, okay, this is not so fun.  I didn’t really know where I was because (if I haven’t mentioned it before I have zero sense of direction.)  As far as I was concerned I was out in the middle of another nowhere with rocks, trees, another hill and now a new enemy — a headwind.  It could have been any training ride anywhere except this headwind just kept hammering at me. 

Now everybody was passing me.  I was going nowhere.  I was working so hard and I looked down at my speedometer and it said 7 mph.  I was in my easiest gear and I was just climbing up what seemed to be a slow grade which was really annoying.  It shouldn’t be this hard to get up this slow grade but this headwind was relentless.  No wonder I had been sailing on the way out — downhill with wind at my back.  Soon Coach Scott pulled up next to me and asked how I was doing.  I told him I felt like a turtle.  “A happy turtle?”  He asked.  No, not a happy turtle, a frustrated turtle.  I told him I had felt like a badass on the way out.  He said too bad because we don’t do the way out during the race, we do this direction in the race.  He encouraged me to stay positive and I managed to muster “okay I’m a badass turtle.”  He kept going.

Then I saw the wall.  Not the metaphysical marathon mile 20 wall, a real wall and I recognized the wall.  This was the place Stephanie and I rode last year when she took me on the bike course.  I remember this exact spot because we were riding and it was a slight uphill and it was windy and we had been pedalling as hard as we could and we had gone nowhere!!  I remember we stopped at laughed at the futility of it.   This was the beginning of my crumble.  The mental flood gates opened and all the little demons came running in for the siege.  I couldn’t believe this was a year later and after all this training I still couldn’t make it up this section of the course.  I was so slow.  I thought I was a failure.  I thought I couldn’t do it.  I knew I would never make the bike cutoff at this pace.  It was a negative-thought feeding-frenzy.  I didn’t feel like crying I just felt totally and utterly demoralized.  And then just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse.  It did.

I have dubbed that little section the “Great Wall” because when I see it coming it reminds me a little of a the Great Wall of China in the way it curves around the road and has a deep ravine on the side.  After the Great Wall come a series of hills.  First there is a set of hills called the Cherries (I don’t know why but they write the names of the hill on the side of the road).  Little Cherry, Big Cherry and one is to to be called Don Cherry but I never saw the writing for that one.  After the Cherries come Mama Bear, Baby Bear and Papa Bear — three more hills.  None of these hills are huge, they are not easy either but they are enough to totally stop your momentum.  As I am chugging and struggling my way up these hills I am getting a continual lashing from the wind and from my mind.  All I kept thinking was “You suck.”  (Sorry for the profanity but there is no other word that fit the bill). 

Every single person on the team passed me.  Remember I started first because I wanted the head-start.  In order for every single person on the team to pass me that meant I was significantly slower than every other person on the team.  I don’t mind being slow but usually there are a couple of people I can hang with.  At the top of Papa Bear was the training camp and when I pulled in, everyone was off their bikes and already stretching.  I really felt like packing it up and going home.  Thanks very much but looks like I can’t do the Ironman so I’m outta here.  It’s been 7 months of training and I still can’t get up the freakin’ hill.  My demons were have a food fest on my insecurities.  Chomping away like Crusaders at a Medieveal food festival — noshing on legs of lame and guzzling goblets of self-doubt.

Then we had a group stretch and the coaches started to talk to us about attitude.  I was only half listening because I had to throw in a few more chickens to the buffet in my head.  Then all of a sudden Coach Scott mentioned Natascha Badmann.  I perked up.  What about Natascha?  I love her.  He started talking about how in a race when you watch Natascha riding against the wind she has a huge smile on her face (her trademark smile).  She doesn’t fight the wind, she embraces the challenge.   Yeah, yeah, I thought, she’s a wisp of a thing and can cut through the wind like nothing.  But I didn’t totally discount it because I love Natascha and it made me feel a little better to think about her positive attitude.

Then Coach Earl spoke up and said it was important to remember than when you are going up a hill and there is wind in your face and your speedometer says 7 mph that it is simply what it is — 7 mph is what it is like to go up a hill into a headwind.  How did he know I was only going 7 mph? All of a sudden I didn’t feel so bad.  You mean other people were going 7 mph and it wasn’t just me?  The demons paused for a moment and looked up from the table as if they heard a knocking at the door but then quickly disregarded it and continued their feeding frenzy.

After the stretch we headed down to the lake for a swim.  I was excited to try out my new wetsuit.  We all went down to Mirror Lake and put on our gear.  I slid right into my wetsuit which I now know is not a good thing.  In order for a wetsuit to work properly it needs to be tight like a second skin. You should struggle a little to get it on.  It shouldn’t be so tight that you can’t breath or freely move your arms, but you shouldn’t be able to step right into it and pull it up in one quick motion either.  When I bought the wetsuit I was so thrilled to get a good deal and even more thrilled that it fit.  I guess I was blinded by the fact that not only was it not too small but maybe it was too big.  I remember thinking briefly that maybe it was  little too big but I like things comfotable so I figured — all the better.

The coaches had us do some small warmup laps in the lake.  The water was cold and it was stinging my face and feet and hands.  But after about 5 minutes I got used to it and was able to swim.  We swam around the local swimming area and not too far out.  I swam with my St. A’s swim practice buddy Rob.   Within twenty strokes I knew there was something wrong with the wetsuit.  The legs of the suit were filling with water and the entire suit was moving up and down my body — not good.  One stroke it would be rising up to my chin, the next the whole suit was pulling down to my feet like a drag suit.  Oy, this was not good.

We were only supposed to swim for about 20-30 minutes.  It felt like I was out there forever.  Every stroke felt just like I was wearing those stupid drag shorts.  I was dragging big water balloons on my legs.  This was no fun. 

When I got out of the water two of the coaches commented that my wetsuit was too big.  Oh no….  I knew they were right.  I suddenly felt like a fool.  I should have know that if I just stepped into the wetsuit it was too big.  Now I was going to have to go through the entire weekend with an ill-fitting wetsuit.  Worse, I was going to have to find another wetsuit and practice with it before race day.  I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in a wetsuit and then have to buy a new one next year after I lose more weight.  This was not a “transitional” piece for my triathlon wardrobe, a wetsuit is an investment.  One of the coaches suggested I look into renting a wetsuit for race day — I thought that was a great idea.

We finished up the session with a little pep talk and we went back to our rooms to soak our legs and egos.  I went back to my room exhausted and demoralized and ready to hoist the surrender flag.  Okay, Okay if the coaches’ point was to scare us, it worked.  I was not feeling confident and I was not looking forward to the coming weekend.  Maybe I’m just not meant to be an Ironman.  Maybe this was a big reality check and better to know now and not humiliate myself race day.

I poured myself into bed exhausted at 8:45 (after a dinner with some teammates).  I woke up at 11 from a bad dream.  I had heard that Memorial Day Training camp was the weekend the coaches talked to people they thought were not doing well enough.  So all night I kept waking up from the same dream — one of the Coaches telling me it was time to rethink the Ironman and maybe it was time to face the reality.  I got about 4 hours sleep.  Between beating myself up mentally and dreaming of being let go from the team, the stress and anxiety kept me from falling asleep.  What a way to start training camp, Day 1 down but the hardest part had yet to come! 

Namaste

“Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind.”
Hamilton Wright Mabie

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5/24/07 Ready to Roll

Thursday.  Other than being nervous about the coming weekend (I’m going to ride 112 hilly miles the day after doing a 60 mile bike and 3 hour run the day after a 40 mile bike and 2 hour run?)  I’m feeling pretty good.  We are supposed to be taking it easy this week so I’m trying to not overdo but I feel okay. 

I rested and stretched on Monday.  On Tuesday I had a really good workout with Charlee — I had to do three loops of the reservoir.  My warm-up jog from Columbus Circle to the Reservoir was not bad at all — nowhere near as creaky as it usually is.  My first loop was to include a timed mile at half marathon pace (I did around a 12), the second loop a timed mile at 10K pace (I did around 11:30) and the third loop 4 lamposts on hard, 4 lampposts off recovery.  I did okay.  I really concentrated on the best form that I could and I was picking up some good speed on the second loop until I started getting a sharp stabbing pain in my chest so I pulled off a little.  (I am not willing to have a heart attack for anyone.)  As soon as I backed off the pain went away.  So not sure exactly what that was but I feel okay so I’m not going to worry about it.  My breathing was good (my cold seems to be finally gone!)  My legs felt good — no pain or anything.  My endurance and energy felt good too.  I didn’t get to the point of wanting to throw up or anything but I definitely felt I was working hard and maintaining a better form.  Not a perfect form, but definitely better.  I would say I gave it a strong effort all around.

Is it just me or does it seem no sooner do you work out one technical issue when another pops up?  I should be used to this endless tweaking of technique from tennis but c’mon it’s running, how complicated can this be?  I mean man has been running since the beginning of time, you would think this would come naturally.  This week we started to focus on my arm position.  More specifically on how far back and forward I swing my arm.  I naturally want to swing my arms in a 90 degree angle with my elbows brushing my ribs and my hands in light fists in front of me.  Unfortunately that is wrong according to all camps (ChiRunning and Trilife).  What I am supposed to be doing is swinging my arms back so it is my hands that are brushing my ribs and my elbows stay behind all the time.  It feels a little awkward — like I am sticking my chest out.  The idea is your arms are a counter-balance to your lean.  As I am leaning forward my arms are “kicking” back.  It really does seem to let me get into a deeper lean but I feel like I’m doing the funky chicken.  I have to get my shoulders down more and relax into this new swing.  This is going to take some work…..

I am getting better at passing people.  I’m starting to learn to “pick my victims” and try to overtake them. (Woo Hoo, me and my 12 minute mile, they better watch out!)  This is defnitely a new perspective for me.  I usually try to just hang where I am and if I pass someone it is usually because they are walking.  I also notice that if I come up on someone I may back off just ever so slightly so as to not pass them because I’m afraid if I pass them I won’t be able to keep going.  I know this is stupid so I’m trying to adopt the mindset of constantly finding the next person I am going to pass.  It definitely seems to keep me moving forward and with intention.  Charlee thinks  I have a lot of work to do on making my brain understand what my body can do.

Yesterday I didn’t work out.  Work, errands and weekend preparations got the better of me and by the time 5 o’clock came around I figured I would just ride Thursday morning instead.  This morning’s ride was optional.  Only about 8 people (and 3 coaches) showed up.  Everyone else was resting up for the weekend.  I’m certainly not the only person nervous about the upcoming weekend.  A couple of people I have talked to are making sure they are getting extra rest and sleep to get ready.  It was not supposed to be a hard ride this morning, just 3-4 easy paceline loops of the park.  It was just me, one other gal and our Coach Kim so we did 3 loops practicing pacelining.  Pretty easy stuff.  I rode Slyvia and I didn’t even break into a hard breath.

I got some cool new toys yesterday.  I have to admit since I decided I couldn’t afford race wheels (I don’t have $1,600 to buy them) I am treating myself to some smaller items that may or may not help get faster but they will certainly help me look meaner.  I got a new race helmet.  Supposedly a race helmet is a good bang for your buck if you are looking to get faster for cheaper than new race wheels.  Yes, I’ll look weird (just wait until I get a chance to decorate it though!)  Here is my new helmet — the Styron by Rudy Project:

rudyhelmet.gif

It’s kind of cool because it has a flip down face shield (removable) so if I don’t want to wear sunglasses (like if it is cloudy or just windy or dark in the morning) I could just flip it down.  Since I wear contacts and always wear sunglasses, it is likely I will just remove that though.   Also, since I got a cool new pair of sunglasses I will be wearing those instead!  Here is a picture of my cool new shades:

sportmask.jpg

They are called the sports mask.  I like them because they kind of wrap to my face and there is no frame above the eyes so when I am in aero there is no distortion of my vision.  I may not be fast, but I’ll look cool!!!  (Right?  I’ll look cool with a big honking helmet streaming off my head and bright pink glasses wrapped around my face…..)

I have a final pilates session before leaving for Lake Placid.  Just one more chance to stretch out and limber up before camp.   Meanwhile I’m packing up a storm.  We have to bring EVERYTHING with us.  We have to be ready for cold weather, wet weather and hot weather — and in-between weather.  We also have to bring all of our nutrition products that we want to try.  I’m bringing the Hammer products that I tried this weekend as well as some Cytomax and Endurox products.  I have more Infinit on the way but not sure it will make it here in time.  I have sports beans, AcelGels, Enervitene and a bevy of organic bars that promise me incredible endurance and stamina.  I have an entire bag filled with bike repair junk and extra tubes and inflation devices.

The good thing is I am staying at a place called The www.NorthwoodsInn.com on Main street and I’ll have a little kitchenette so that will help a bit with preparations.  My packing list is a mile long.  I’m sure I’ll forget something, I just want to make sure that I bring the important stuff.  The bad news is we are driving up tonight and I’m not that good of a night driver so hopefully we can get started as early as possible.  But we would rather drive up tonight and be rested for tomorrow’s workout than panicky about getting there in time. 

Even though I am nervous about the weekend, I just keep reminding myself that so far I have not failed to do anything they have assigned.  I’ve made it up every hill, I’ve finished every workout, I’ve done my Harriman, Nyack and 100 miler and can change flat tires.  I’ve even gotten lost in Lake Placid before so even that would not be new! I’ve done my half marathons and chirunning and intervals and hill workouts.  I’ve done my swims.  I’ve followed the training plan to the best of my ability so if I don’t make it through this weekend it will not be because of my lack of preparation.   I’ve printed out check lists and maps and I’m as ready as I can be.  I’m not afraid of getting hit, it’s the repeated pummelling I’m worried about….

Nothing left to do but put my seat in the saddle tomorrow and pedal! 

Namaste

“The will must be stronger than the skill.”
Muhammad Ali

One more for the road.  Okay this doesn’t really apply to me in the world of triathlon but I love this attitude:

“If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.”
Muhammad Ali

lol, LOVE it!!

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5/21/07 Effortlessness

Monday.  Well 8 weeks and counting to race day.  Eesh, how the heck did that happen?  I am not even acknowledging  the fact that I’m doing Tupperlake in 5 weeks, that’s not even on my radar.  At this point the Ironman is shining in my eyes like high beams — no matter where I look all I see is that glare. 

This weekend we had some longish workouts.  I wouldn’t say hard, just long.  I woke up on Saturday nervous to see if I still had my cold.  There was a little stuffiness but I took at Tavist D and took off for swim practice.  I hadn’t been in the pool for quite awhile (at least 10 days) so the idea of doing a 1.75 mile time trial was not exactly welcoming.  I wasn’t sure if I could swim never mind swim hard.  So I figured I would do the one-step-at-a-time approach.  Just get my bathing suit on and see how I felt.  Just get outside the apartment door.  Just get in the cab.  At anytime I could back out, I just wanted to see how far I could get.  I even told myself I could get in the pool and get out after 1 lap if I needed to.  I was actually a little suprised when I found myself at the pool and the first one to plunge into the water (I need every second of the hour to complete less than 1.75 miles so I figured I would just swim until they told me to stop.)

The real reason I wanted to swim was not to get the swim strokes in, it was to get the length of workout it.  After the swim we were to do a 2 1/2 hour run.  So the swim with the run made a 3 1/2 hour workout which is what I wanted more than the swim itself.  My splits were horrendous but frankly I didn’t care.  I just spent the entire hour concentrating on form and consistency and not pulling too hard.  I had been told that I “pull too hard” which is funny because I thought I didn’t pull at all and wasn’t exactly sure what that meant.  At the begining of practice the coach said too many people were pulling too hard which resulted in shortened strokes.  He wanted everyone to concentrate on longer strokes.  I guess if you pull too hard (or maybe too fast is the right word) you end up with that choppy dog paddle kind of stroke instead of the long, smooth stroke. Here is a great little video for visualization:

After the swim, Michelle and I walked from Asphalt Green to Tavern on the Green for the start of the Healthy Kidney 10k race.  We dropped off our bags and headed off for a warmup run around the lower loop before starting the 10k.  I got in just about 30 minutes of warmup running (practicing my Chi form) before the race start and then proceeded to the race.  It was nothing spectacular but I was very focussed and concentrated for every single second of the race.  My splits were very even 12:20’s which is not really that great for a 10k but I wasn’t working at max effort either.  I will say this,  I ran that 10k like it was nothing.  It was nothing.  Poof, 6.2 miles, what else you got?  I could have easily kept going for another 6.2 (after that, not so sure….)   Not fast, just effortless.

I did have one HUGE realization about my foot strike during the race.  Last week during my Chirunning session with Joel he had me working on my midfoot strike (I have a heel strike which is not as efficient and not Chi-like.)  One of the tips he was using to try to teach me midfoot strike was by over-emphasizing pressing down on my arch (he says if I over compensate I end up right where I should be.)  I didn’t really understand what he meant until I was about half way through the race on Saturday.  I started to get a pain in my right knee (usually it is my left knee but this time it was my right knee).  I tried to figure out what I was doing posture-wise that would be causing that pain in my right knee.  I did a body check on my head alignment, my upper body posture, my core was engaged, my knees were flexed, I had a line from my shoulders to my hips to my ankles (think your spine is the needle and everything around it cotton — soft).  Ankles, hmmm, foot, hmmm, midfoot strike.  I noticed I was rolling my right foot out and was actually striking on the outside of my foot.  I adjusted my weight so it was even by concentrating on pressing down on my arches (overcompensating in the other direction).  Immediately the pain in my right knee stopped.   Holy Guacamole!  This works!!!  After than I had no pain for the rest of the run and finished effortlessly. 

All together it was just about 2 hours of actual running.  After the run Michelle and I walked up to 90th street to check out her new place (fantastic!) and went to have some breakfast.  I finished the “workout” by walking home from 90th.  So although I didn’t actually run for 2:30 hours I had on-my-feet time with running/walking for close to 4 hours so I think that works out in the end.

Yesterday, Sunday, was the Montauk Century.  I had a blast.  I had a great, great ride.  I will say it is a pain in the patootie to get out there (we had to arrive at Penn Station betweeen 3:45 and 4:30 to check in and get our bikes on the truck).  The train left around 5 a.m. and then got stuck for an hour.  By the time we got to Babylon, got our bikes off the trucks, everyone went to the bathroom got water, futzed and putzed it was 8:05 before we started riding.  That’s a long morning already. 

It was me, Michelle, Jaime, Marisol and Rob.  We pounded out the first 21 miles in 1 hour flat.  We weren’t paceling, it was just flat as a pancake and we rode effortlessly.  I swear I didn’t feel my legs.  I just let them spin, spin, spin and can I just say that my bike Tina was actually singing and was such a happy little camper I couldn’t believe it.  Was this my tempermental Tina?  Was this my don’t-hit-a-bump-or-go-too-fast-because-I’ll-go-all-wobbly-on-you Tina?  Was this my don’t-even-think-about-shifting-until-I’ve-had-my-coffee-or-I’ll-drop-my-chain-like-a-hot-potato Tina?  What the heck was going on?  She was so quiet I could hear the hum of my wheels.  I didn’t know my wheels hummed.  They actually make a little whoosh-whoosh sound.  Maybe Montauk is just quieter than 9W and I have just never noticed that before.  It was almost surreal.  I just sucked in my core and concentrated on the needle of my spine and staying rooted in the saddle and let my legs spin out under me.  It was really weird.  I have no other way to explain it other than I didn’t feel my legs.  It was just feet on the pedals and seat on the saddle (and my arms in the aerobars).  Very weird.

After stopping for a quick bathroom break at mile 21 we all headed out for the next segment.  We all wanted to be on that 3 p.m. train so we wanted to be finished as fast as we could.  I was the only overly-optimistic one that said if we didn’t stop we could do it in 5 hours.  (Okay that was a little  ambitious.)  But once we saw 21 mph for the first hour I think everyone knew 6 hours was doable.   So off we went.  Perfect, perfect weather.  No rain, not too hot, not too cold, slight breeze.  Couldn’t ask  for anything nicer.

Jaime and Rob passed me and in a little while I lost sight of them.  There was nobody in front of me.  I turned around to see how far behind me Michelle and Marisol were.  Hmmm, not only were they not behind me, nobody was behind me.  I was out on the road all by myself (curves in the road made it hard to see how far behind anyone was).  I realized I had better pay attention to the route markings so I wouldn’t do my usual get lost in the woods routine.  Focus, focus, don’t start daydreaming and end up on the ferry to Block Island.  At one point the course turned (they had pink markings on the road telling you before a turn, during a turn and after a turn to keep you on course).  I was aware that I was all alone and really wish I had some people to follow.   I noticed a marking for an upcoming left turn.  Then another marking for an upcoming left turn.  About 100 feet ahead I saw a left turn so I took it.  I started pedalling up a small hill and noticed that there was no arrow telling me that I had made the correct turn.  Hmmm… strange.  I went about a mile, through three stop signs and figured — okay at this point I should see some human being or some sign so I must have made a wrong turn.  I decided to turn around figuring the worse case is I would just find Michelle and Marisol and ride with them.  I returned to where the second pink marker was and lo and behold there was a smaller street (looked like driveway if you asked me) and that was the bike route.  Unbelievable.  How is it I always get lost?  I could just imagine my friends rolling their eyes getting a call from me “can you logon to mapquest?”  I thought for a second I wouldn’t tell anyone I had gotten lost yet AGAIN but then I would have to explain my 10 minute lag somehow…   you see there were these gypsies….

I got back on route and soon I saw other bikers ahead.  Probably the most embarassing part of the ride was when I passed a lot of Team in Training people that I had already passed awhile earlier and had said “good job” and chatted with a couple of them.  (One team raised over $100,000, not bad!)  Now I was passing them again.  I repeated my “good job” “way to go team” as they all looked at me like I was weird, didn’t she just pass us awhile ago?  I kind of hunkered down into my aero bars and sheepishly kept going….  I thought maybe if I pedalled just a little bit faster and if Michelle and Marisol got stopped at a couple of lights, I might catch up to them…  Stop chatting with everyone, pedal feet, pedal.

A little while later I saw a woman on the side of the road fixing her bike.  I yelled out asking if she was okay.  She looked up at me and said “I can’t get my back wheel back on.”  Oh did I remember THAT feeling.  I stopped to help her.  She had just fixed her own flat (bully for her!) but she couldn’t get the back wheel back on.  I remember how that used to feel like a jigsaw puzzle to me.  The derailler goes where?  I showed her how to lift her bike, loop the back wheel through the chain and put the tire back on.  I also showed her how to open her brake pads to let the tire in.  Then I helped her pump up her tire (she had a little pump that was lamer than my little pump.)  And after a couple of minutes we had her cleaned up and on the road.  (I am happy to report that she saw me later and said she made it to the next rest stop and got fully pumped and had no problems for the rest of the ride.)

At this point I realized that not only were Marisol and Michelle long gone there was no way I would catch up to them so it was just me and Tina for the rest of the ride.  I spent the next 4 hours just passing people.  Tina was really cranking and I was putting in zero effort.  I don’t even understand what was making the pedals move.  My feet, that’s all I was thinking about.  I was having an absolute blast.  If only Lake Placid was flat….  I could do the Ironman tomorrow.  I knew I could get off the bike and run because I wasn’t even using my legs.  I didn’t even feel them.  Just spin, spin, spin.  I wasn’t going 90 all the time but I was 80-85 every time I looked down and then tried to pick up the cadence to 90 again (90 just doesn’t come naturally — I seem to like 82 and have to force myself to 90+).  A couple of times I thought I might actually engage my legs and go faster and then I thought why?  If I can spin my legs like this and pound out the 100 miles without feeling it, why shouldn’t I?  It was actually kind of cool to ride like this.  How long could I ride like this without ever feeling my quads, hamstrings, glutes or calves?  How long could I ride without letting go of my core?  It was almost like Tina had a little motor on the pedals and I didn’t have to do anything but hold on and go for the ride.

As I was approaching the 80 mile marker I found some more people that were trying to hang on to me.  Nobody seemed to want to chat at this point so I just locked into the beautiful scenery and pedalling — almost giddy at this strange feeling of pedalling effortlessly.  As long as I kept my foot locked to the pedal for the entire rotation, the bike moved forward without any effort on my part.    I had one guy try to draft off of me for a good 10 miles.  I just chuckled because he wouldn’t pass me, he was just hanging on behind me.  I let him ride for about 30 minutes and then I thought “hey, no free rides buddy” and I just shifted it up one gear and lost him.  Don’t get me wrong, PLENTY of people (all guys) were barrelling past me like I was standing still.  (None of those St. A’s females bombing past me this time).  It was just that I was passing  a lot more people than were passing me — this was a tour ride and not a race afterall.  I felt totally comfortable in my aerobar position.  No problems.  No pinches, no aches, no pains, nothing….  NOTHING.  WEIRD!

One of the smartest things I did was set the timer on my watch for 15 minutes.  Every 15 minutes my watch beeped at me and I took 3 sips of my training formula (I tried the Heed Perpetuem formula for this ride — it was okay but I think I like Infinit better.)  I would  take 3 sips of the concentrated formula and then 3 sips of water.  I would take extra sips of water inbetween the 15 minute intervals as well.  I was shocked to see how often 15 minutes came around without my thinking of nutrition.  I think for Ironman I might want to set it for 10 minutes.  It helped tremendously.  I also took one extra gel pack per hour.   I also tried out the profile design water bottle versus my podiumquest.  The profile Design just doesn’t hold enough water for me.  If I have formula in my two water bottles, I need my aerobottle holder to hold enough water to match so back to the podiumquest.  (I’m having leaking problems with it though.)

I knew at the finish of the ride were a set of hills called Heather Hills.  I remember them from 2004 when I had done the 65 mile ride.  I barely made it up the hills that year.  I was so tired at the end of the 65 mile ride that I remember struggling to get up the hills.  I figured this year they would be a challenge but I should be able to make it up them with less difficulty.  As I saw the mileage creeping up, 95, 96, 97, where the heck are these hills?  Finally there was a turn and I saw a sign that said “Heather Hills Condominiums” so I knew they were about to begin.   Well, let’s just cut to the chase.  There were no hills. I just flew over them like they didn’t exist.  Really weird.  Guys that had been passing me earlier on were stuck trying to get up these hills.  I swear these hills were nothing.  If I had a nail file I could have whipped it out and done a manicure — they were that small.  They were not even as big as Harlem Hill.  I wasn’t gasping for air or anything and I didn’t have to back off my cadence one bit.  WEIRD!

One guy who had such great cadence had passed me a little while before was totally stuck going up one hill.  I couldn’t understand it.  He seemed very fit (as least fitter than I), young, strong and he was sucking wind on this hill.  When we got to the top of the hill he said to me “I’m done, I can’t do another hill.”  I looked in front of me, yeah, there was another hill but we had this big down hill first, what’s the problem?  Get the momentum on the downhill and you’ll be half way up the uphill before you even have to start pedalling.  I felt like saying to him “I’m twice your age so suck it up buttercup!”  But I figured he wouldn’t get the Coach Kim reference so instead I just told him, go down that hill as fast as you can and you’ll make it right up.  So he took off like a bullet and he did make it up the hill but then he and pretty much everyone else dropped back out of sight as I continued on.  Then I realized that everyone was just plain tired and it wasn’t so much the hills as they were just pooped.

I felt more than strong.  I felt like I wanted to ride some more.  Ideally what I wanted was a nice lunch, a little rest, a stretch and then maybe another 2 hours or so.  Just like this, flat, easy spinning, no legs involved. I felt like I could do it all day long.   I just wanted to keep going until my legs said okay, we’re done, no more.  I wanted to see what was the breaking point?  7 hours?  8?  9?

When I got to the finish line I felt fine, more than fine.  I felt like I didn’t work anywhere near as hard as I had the last two weeks when I did Harriman and last week in Nyack.  Well I didn’t work as hard because my lungs and quads were not burning.  How funny to whip off 100 miles (flat) without even feeling it.  And it wasn’t just me.  The rest of the gang felt the same, no problemo.

I will admit I was disappointed though when I looked at my final time/mileage/avg speed and it said 104 mile, 17.1 mph. 6 hours and change.  17.1 mph is not that great.  It was totally flat and I had done the first 21 miles in 1 hour.  I still don’t quite understand how that happened because rarely did I look down and see less than 19 or 18 mph on my speedometer and often it was over 20, so how did I end up with a 17 mph average?  But I consoled myself with remembering that it was effortless spinning — I was just going for consistency.  I know Lake Placid is going to require much more muscle activity to get up those hills so my average is probably going to be even lower than the 17.  But even if I do a 15 mph hour bike that would still only be 7:45 minutes which would still make the bike cutoff (oh God, what if I can’t do 15 mph in Lake Placid?).  Well we’ll worry about that later.  I’ll know better this coming weekend.

This weekend is the big training camp weekend.  I believe the term our coach used was “The Crucible.”  I must admit I am more than a little nervous about the weekened.  To sum it up:

  • Friday will include a short swim, 30-35 mile bike
  • Saturday we will do a 60 mile ride followed by a 16 mile run (or 3 hours whichever comes first)  We’ll be running one loop of the Ironman run course.  Then we will stretch and do a short swim.  (These swims will be very cold so very short if at all.)
  • Sunday, short swim, Full Ironman bike loop (100-112 depending on time/speed) followed by a 50 minute run.
  • Monday, Run the Ironman Course again (for me 2 hour max so it won’t be the full 13.1) followed by a quick swim.

I think my strategy is going to be to only look at what is immediately in front of me.   When I look at the contents of the entire weekend I’m not sure how I can do it.  I guess it is the hilliness that intimidates me.  If you said it was all flat I would be thinking no problem.  But I know the hills are going to kill my quads and hamstrings and knees and that I’ll be a slow poke and struggling to get through this.  But I will just put one foot in front of the other and somehow slug my way to the end.  I’ll just try to remember back to how I felt yesterday spinning along the highway in Montauk, effortlessly gliding and listening to Tina humming along…..     But just in case that doesn’t work, maybe it would help if some people pray for me.

Namaste

While on the long train ride home yesterday, I opened up a book I had been reading and an ad flew out from the pages (I guess I had tucked it in there St. Anthony’s weekend.)  It read:

Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will.”

Mahatma Gandhi

must remember to pack my indomitable will for the weekend…..

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5/16/07 Before and After



Wednesday otherwise known as day 7 of my cold.  It’s almost gone, no burning in my chest, just a little coughing and occasional sniffle but nothing that even requires cold medicine.  Yesterday afternoon I actually had a couple of hours when I thought it was all better.  If I have the same today I’ll go for a swim.  I need to pick up the slack on my swim because it has been a full week with no swimming and we have a 1.75 mile time trial on Saturday… 

I had a pretty good workout yesterday with my Chi running instructor Joel.  I was pleased to hear that he thinks my running form is much better too.  In addition to my good run on Saturday, I had an effortless run up to Riverside to meet him.  We did more stretches and posture and some foot drills and then I did some laps around the track.  He said my posture is looking great, my lean is definitely better and my footfall is also getting better.  Right now the big thing we are working on is keeping my knees bent 100% of the time and creating a circle motion with my foot (not just swinging back and forth).  Here are two pictures.  The first is me running week 1.  Notice the trademark straight legs and the foot striking in FRONT of my hips and body.  My knee is taking all the driving impact of this stride.  Just from looking at this picture I can see I would need hip replacement surgery one day if I kept going like this. 

leftlegstride.jpeg

Now one week later listening to my Chirunning tapes, taking a private session with Joel, working on holding my core and visualizing lifting my foot over a bar.  Here is what I looked like this week:

goodchi.jpg

It’s a lot better.  It’s not necessarily faster, but I just don’t feel like I am fighting the run as much.  When I am doing it right it feels effortless and like I can go forever.   No knee pain.  I have a lot of work to do on getting the circular motion and lifting my heels consistently and getting even more lean to go faster (this is lean level 1/2 — supposedly it goes up to 3/4 which I can’t even imagine!!)   Although my shoulders, hips and heels are all aligned and I have the pelvic tilt right I still have to work a little more on my upper posture, my lean and my arm angle.  (Can you believe I was swinging my arms wrong all these years too?  You can see how hunched my shoulders are in picture 1 vs. picture 2.)  And of course I have to work on consistency, consistency, consistency.  My run home was very good as well,  effortless is the best way I can describe it.  Doesn’t even feel like I am working — Dear God, if I could do even half of the marathon portion of the Ironman without pain that would be a blessing — to run all of it pain-free would be a dream!!

Saturday we do a 2 1/2 hour run after our swim time-trial.  We’ll start out with a one hour run in the park then we’ll do the 10k race and then finish up with whatever is left over.  This is going to be a GREAT opportunity to practice my Chi running because time won’t matter — even in the race, my focus will be on efficiency and pain-free running.  Like everything in life, when you are in proper alignment and doing something correctly — it’s effortless.  Just like in tennis, my fastest serves are my easiest serves.  The harder I try to hit the ball the less successful I am.  When I find that right path, connect using all my energy going in the same direction and use momentum and not force that’s when I find success.  It’s almost a matter of surrendering.  To learn to go with energy and not try to control it.

Learning to surrender is something we talked about last week in WW too. Learning to stop fighting the process and just surrender to it is a key to success. The more I argue and stomp my feet and say I don’t want to…. the farther I get away from my goal. When I finally calm down and say, okay, this is what has to happen to get there, I have to surrender to the process to let it work.

Funny, writing and programming is a process of surrendering too. Everytime I sit down and say I am going to write about xyz, nothing comes out. When I surrender and say, okay just let it flow — that’s when a story appears out of nowhere. I sometimes wonder “where did that come from?” It came from the surrender — it came when I stopped fighting creativity and just let it find its own natural path.

Ah yes, surrender, easier said than done…

Namaste

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.”
Julia Cameron

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