Monthly Archives: December 2007

12/28/07 Taking an Extra Bite out of Life

Friday.  Counting the hours until end of the year.  Of course, if you are like me, this is also a time for taking a moment and reviewing the year to answer the age old question “how am I doing?” 

One of the benefits of maintaining a blog for a couple of years now is that I can start looking back at previous years and seeing how I am doing compared to the previous years at the same time.  I was more than a little surprised to find that last year my 12/29 entry was almost identical to what I was going to write today.    I’m fed up with holidays.  I can’t wait for January to start.  I have a plan for a new regime…    Whoa, reality check time.  Am I just a bunch of b.s.?  Am I any closer to finding myself or achieving my goals?  Am I really just treading water?  Has all of my effort this year been just so I can maintain but not get ahead?  That’s a little disheartening…. 

I didn’t go swim today.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  Instead I went for a run.  I repeated the same run I did on Tuesday, 1:30 minutes, Westside highway north.  I did really well.  I didn’t have my heartrate monitor on, but I had a great run.  I was really running.  I was very pleased.  I had a little breakthrough.  While running up a hill I kept saying “just make sure one foot lands in front of the other — don’t do that running half a step thing you do.”  When I got to the top of the hill I tried to keep that going.  Lifting my knee to feel my feet going in front of me.  That produced the old up and down feeling I know is not correct.  This time, however, I thought to keep that knee lift while leaning and see what happened.  I am shocked to say I think I was really running.  I mean really running.  Although about 40 people passed me, I locked in on two different people and passed them.  And they weren’t walking!!  That’s huge for me.  I was very pleased.  Very pleased.

I went off to my WW meeting ready to pay my penalty for a week of not only being off plan, I was in what I call heiress mode.  Wining and dining the high life as if I was entitled to be noshing on caviar and blinis, wine and cheese, chips and dip, wine and cheese (yes, I am aware I wrote wine and cheese twice….)   Although I did manage to exercise every day, I know for sure that I did not work off the extra calories I consumed (oh yeah, I forgot about the cookies and wine and cheese).  I didn’t exercise before my meeting this morning so I knew that was going to make me look at least 1 pound heavier than last week and I was right.  I registered in a whopping 3 pounds heavier.  Happy New Year to me!   I knew it was wine bloat (’cause yes, even last night I was out having… you guessed it, wine and cheese….)  So I took my slap on the wrist and sat down in the meeting  (which, by the way, was the last place on the planet I wanted to be.) 

As usual, when I least want to be at a meeting is when I get the most out of it.  It turned out to be one of the great meetings.  We have a lot of great meetings, but I got a little extra something out of today.   When I got there they were talking about “the extra bite.”  Apparently the average extra bite of food is 50 calories.  Sounds harmless enough.  That’s about 1 WW pt.  You take one extra bite of food a day (granted we are talking about an extra bite of Mac and Cheese not an extra bite of cucumbers) that comes to an extra 18,250 calories per year.  Divide that by the 3,500 calories it takes to make an extra pound and you have an extra 5 pounds a year that you pack on by just always taking that extra bite.  Okay those numbers were a little alarming.  But if you think about it, the reverse works as well.  Take one less bite than you normally would, every day for a year and you’ll drop 5 pounds…..  Or so the logic goes.

The point is the little things add up.  Replace that cream in your coffee with skim milk — that’s a “bite” a day.    Switch from full fat dressing to fat free dressing — that’s a “bite” a day.  Heck, cut your dessert in half and that’s a couple of bites a day….  Let’s not even mention the wine….  All the little things add up.

Of course I was sitting there thinking, “Okay, I gained 3 pounds this week.  That’s, gasp, an extra 30 bites a day.  That’s more than a whole day’s worth of points!!!”  I wondered out loud “how the heck did I eat that much?”  One of my good friends in the meeting looked at me (smiling), raised her cupped hand to her lips and tipped up her elbow.  Oh yeah, wine and cheese.  Let’s see 30 sips a day ?  Oh yeah, I averaged that easily….  Ugh….   I’ve been out socializing with different friends just about every night.  Thank goodness the Purple Teeth Challenge starts on Monday at midnight (30 days no drinking.)

As the meeting was coming to an end I had to admit I was feeling quite the failure.  Has another year gone by and I still haven’t lost any more weight.  Yes I’ve maintained my loss from 2oo5 but goodness 2006 and 2007, no real net loss?  Just maintaining?  That’s pathetic!!  I feel like I work so hard and yet all I have to do is backslide one week and I’m back at square one.  I’m in the same place as I was last year.  This is crazy, what’s wrong with me?

Then our wise leader, Maggie, closes the meeting with a New Year’s thought.  I was ready for it.  She was going to ask us what our goals were for the new year…  I was trying to come up with something different from last December.  Maybe my goals are all wrong, maybe I need to redefine my goals to shake things up.  Instead she said “what are you most proud of for 2007?  what did you do right?”   I think the whole room had been busily thinking ahead just as I had been because we all stopped and stared at her with that glazed look of the student given the pop-quiz.  Whaaa?  Proud of last year???  A lot of people in the room had been talking about the weight they had lost, the new clothes they were wearing, the new lease on life they were experiencing for the first time.  I was beginning to feel that sinking feeling of a big, fat failure.  Chap.  Another year and I’m not at goal. 

On the count of ten we were to all yell out the one thing we were most proud of for 2007.  10, 9… I really didn’t know what to say.  8, 7… I’m proud of not losing another pound?  6,5…. I’m proud of not finishing the Ironman?  4,3….I’m proud to still be running a 12 minute mile?  2… This was not a fun assignment at all…  

And then it hit me.  1…  From somewhere deep down inside (sometimes those other little voices come in handy) a voice yelled out into the din… “I didn’t quit.”   And, as often happens when you hear a truth, the tuning fork of my soul repeated back a perfectly pitched “right, I didn’t quit.”  Okay, I’m not where I wanted to be but it is not for the lack of trying.  I could have quit.  I could have said “okay, Ironman is just not supposed to happen” or “I’ll never lose weight” or “forget this running stuff, I’ll never get it… I’m too old, too fat, too whatever…”  But I didn’t say that.  I don’t believe that.  Yes, I’m surprised it is taking me longer to get to where I want to go, but I haven’t quit.   And, I’m even more proud of the fact that I know in my heart that I won’t quit tomorrow either….


Okay instead of a quote for today, I am extending an invitation to anyone who wants to join me for the Purple Teeth Challenge.  30 days in January, no drinking!!!  No, you can’t join if you don’t drink.  This is the third year we are doing this.  It is a symbolic way to start the new year.  It’s a declaration of our intention to try to be a little healthier.  Start Jan 1st or Jan 2nd, 30 consecutive days.  Join our Yahoo Group and we give each other pep talks and tell stories of our amazing feats of willpower in the face of birthdays, office parties, first-dates, second-dates. 

Send an email to our yahoo group  If you can’t join that way, send me an email and I’ll send you an invite.


 This is a photo my friend and artist Robin Noble took at Ironman Lake Placid this year.  Here is the flip side.


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12/27/07 A Numbers Game

Thursday.  Zonked this afternoon.  Got up early for team bike.  The ground was wet but it wasn’t really raining so I figured I would head up to the park and see what other numnuts were out ready to ride.  We had seven teammates, one coach, and two assistant coaches.  Hill repeats were on.  Let the numnuts roll!

I was actually surprised that although the roads were wet, the conditions were not bad.  I can’t believe that I consider 35 degrees balmy weather to ride in, but I do.  Put on the right clothes (and providing there is no severe wind) 35 feels like summer.  I honestly don’t notice the cold one bit.  I was sweating so much by the end that I was actually warm.

We did one full loop of the park and then on the second time around we did six repeats of Harlem Hill (total of 7 ascents).  I definitely feel stronger than the same time last year.  When I finished the sixth ascent I asked myself if I could have done more.  With the recovery of going back down first, I definitely could have done more (though I was legitimately pooped at the end of each repeat).  I noted that was a HUGE difference from last year at this time.  I finished up the workout with three lower loops. 

Don’t get me wrong, almost everybody left me in the dust on the hills –and I’m sure the one person I left in the dust is just using her gears all wrong!   Nonetheless, I was pleased with myself for handling the workout and giving it my best effort.  It is interesting for me to observe my confidence level going into the season.  It’s very different from last year when I was just worried about whether or not I could survive.  Now it is a matter of getting better.  I definitely felt this was one of those investment workouts.  I worked hard the whole time I was out there.  I got some great benchmark data (well, great because I got accurate readings, not great results!)

  • Repeat 1:  1:57 with HR of 142 — seated
  • Repeat 2: 2:02 with HR of 145 — seated
  • Repeat 3: 2:14 with HR of 148 — seated/standing
  • Repeat 4: 2:08 with HR of 152 — standing  100%
  • Repeat 5: 2:12 with HR of 147  — seated/standing
  • Repeat 6: 2:07 with HR of 148  — seated/standing

So although it was not the performance I was looking for ( I was looking for each repeat to get faster, not slower…)  I have some very concrete data to work on improving.  If nothing else I love a good stat to beat.

I had an interesting little reminder today at practice.  One of the gals that I will never even come close to touching in the race (she does everything faster than me) was disappointed in her own performance on the hills this morning.  A couple of us were giving her a little pep talk (imagine my amusement at giving someone MUCH faster than myself a pep talk.)  It was a real reminder that although we are all at different places in our lives our struggles are relative to our strengths.   If you are not struggling you are not working hard enough.  As I said to my teammate this morning — hey if we were already perfect we would not need to be out here at 5:30 in the dark, in the cold in the wet doing repeats of Harlem Hill.  The rest of the world probably thinks we’re nuts but it’s what it takes to get where we want to go.  We have seven months to become machines.  I could tell she was not convinced because I own that look — the look of self-disappointment that we are not already where we want to be. 

So I was reminded too, that it really is in our own power to decide how to look that data we collect about ourselves.  Like we say in WW, the scale is just the compass telling us if we need to make a little course adjustment.   It can’t always be good news — that’s just not realistic.  It’s the same thing with our workouts, our jobs, our relationships.  We measure things to tell us if we are heading in the right direction.  The trick is to be like a scientist — put the work in and then evaluate without the judgment….  Ahhh… there’s the rub! 



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12/26/07 Merry Christmas

Wednesday.   One more big holiday down, one to go. I can’t wait.  I’m looking forward to the start of a new year and new beginning.  I am looking forward to being in pace with my life instead of trying to catch up to it or get ahead of it.  That requires planning and strategy.  That was my big lesson of 2007 — I have to have a plan in excruciating detail to find freedom from my own demons of procrastination and “wonderlust” (sic) [my own new word I am using to describe my perpetual state of wondering, okay obsessing, about things but never figuring them out.]

I actually have done a little exercise this week despite having family in from out of town.  I went for a nice 1:30 run yesterday (Christmas day).  It was not too bad but again started to feel pain in my left knee about the 1:15 point.   I stopped to stretch for a minute before finishing out the run. Something is telling me it is my new Newton running shoes (they force you to land more midfoot than heel).  But then again I’m thinking maybe my knee hurts because it is getting into the right position for the first time.  I’m going to give it a couple more tries and work a little more on strengthening my knees before I give up on them.

Today I attempted to do the swim workout.  I couldn’t do the entire workout.  I got through 2/3rds of it and felt I had to stop — about 45 minutes seems to be my wall right now.  I’m definitely feeling better but there is still something in my shoulder.  I think that is what is called a niggling injury.  It is a minor pain but annoying in its regularity.  Niggling.  Not enough to feel like I should stop but as soon as I tried to pick up the pace it became much louder so I stop.  I kept reminding myself that I have many days ahead so patience, patience, patience.

For a couple of years I have had a calligraphy hanging on my wall.  I remember when I hung it up that it meant something important to me, but then I conveniently forgot the literal translation and started shortening it over an over again until I finally just said it meant “don’t forget to meditate.” lol  It had something to do with mindfulness but I couldn’t remember what.  The original artist (my brother) flew in for Christmas and I had to sheepishly ask “you see that huge painting on my wall?  The one you did?  What does it mean again?”  Expecting some long drawn out Japanese scholarly lecture, I was surprised when he translated it slowly character by character “By achieving no-mind, one returns to the great way.”  He said the last character actually means the great road or great way and it could represent a marathon.  In order to find the great road you must stop worrying about it, just be of no-mind.  Great road, great race, sounds like Ironman to me… 

No-mind is a state.  It’s that moment of clarity when you are not ahead of yourself or behind yourself.  You are free from the cluttered mind.  We often refer to it in sports as the zone.  Some people call it “flow.”   It is that moment when when the tennis ball is the size of a house — you couldn’t miss hitting it if you wanted to.  Or those rare moments when you don’t feel anything as your feet fly in perfect synchronicity with your breath as you run (I hear that happens).  In the water it is in that effortless rhythmic glide that once I enter I exhale knowing that I could keep going all day and night if I had to.  It’s that moment when time seems to stand still and the universe seems to go on forever.  In those moments there is true peace and relief from the pain of the daily cluttered mind.  Sports are one just way to seek that state of no-mind (unfortunately the process of seeking it makes it hide!). 

So that is my goal for 2008.  To keep trying to stay in the state of no-mind.  To stop worrying about what has happened before, what may happen in the future.  To stay in the moment and be grateful for the abundance in my life.  I am very blessed to be here, to have great friends and family.  I am blessed to do the things I do.  Instead of looking back at 2007 as the year I didn’t meet my goals, I really do look back at 2007 at the year I got a chance to really be reminded how blessed I am.  It is through our struggles that we grow.  This is the one thing I know to be true.


Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and
a time to die;
a time to plant, and
a time to pluck up
that which is planted;
A time to kill, and
a time to heal;
a time to break down, and
a time to build up;

A time to weep, and
a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and
a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and
a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and
a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and
a time to lose;
a time to keep, and
a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and
a time to sow;
a time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;

A time to love, and
a time to hate;
a time of war; and
a time of peace.

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12/22/07 Working It Out

Saturday.  Okay week.  Just trying to stay out of the way of the big Holiday bang .  I’m treading water. Not getting ahead but not drifting out to sea either.  I guess I should be happy with that considering the time and season.  (So why am I NOT happy with that??!)

I was down a pound at WW this week but quite frankly, up or down one or two — that’s just staying the same unless I do it three weeks in a row then that’s another story.  I can’t say I’m actually on-plan this week.  It’s more like I am aware of the choices I’m making and aware that some of them are not exactly the best ones.  I’m cutting myself a little slack until January 1, but meanwhile I’m repeating the mantra “maybe right here we can cut a little something out to make it not so bad.”  Eat 3 cookies instead of 6.   2 glasses of wine instead of 4.  (Okay, next time).  1 piece of cheese instead of 2.  A lot of compromising, figuring once January comes I’ll have fewer demands to make so many choices.  Just trying to hang on as best I can.

Thursday I had a so-so workout.  We had a team practice but I didn’t work it to the best of my abilities.  I have to get a little smarter on how to do the Thursday a.m. workouts.  The basic problem I have is I’m slower than everybody on the uphills and faster than some on the downhills and flats.  It’s basically a function of weight.  I’m heavier, so going up hill its harder for me to fight gravity, going downhill it’s my friend.  On the flats I hold my own.  So I struggle to keep up on Harlem Hill and then I struggle just as much to not ride right over them going down.  This is my riding dilemma.

Thursday morning,  the temperature was great.  35 now seems like sunbathing weather.  But the roads were a little slick and I was riding with a couple of first-timers so I was kind of nervous.  At one point I looked down the hill saw it was slick and I was behind a rider whose riding skills I was not sure of.  I told the coach I was going to hold back.    I explained that I’m still nervous when I see unknown people in front of me on a downhill.  I told him my big mistake at Lake Placid was assuming those two guys were going to work it out by the time I got there (even though they were a fair distance in front of me.)  The coach said “they did work it out.”  ROFL!  I’ve been laughing about that for three days!  Well of course they worked it out!  They crashed and took me down with them!   That comment just made me laugh.  It was a needed cycling release.  I made a decision right then.  I can either be afraid or laugh.  I choose to laugh.  I’m not quite ready to crash, but I’m ready to laugh.

My goal for next time I’m in that practice situation (where I can’t go as fast as I want downhill) is to bust a gut on the uphills.  That’s really where I should be placing my emphasis anyway.  What am I saving it for on Thursday morning?  It’s not like we are doing 112 miles or anything.  And, for that matter, what’s the good in practicing what you are already good at?  I can already ride downhill pretty well.  Even today during bike practice I felt I was quickly getting over my fear of going downhill (not going crazy yet but I’m not visualizing crashing any more.) 

Friday was interesting.  I had thought that when I finally swam a mile I was going to stop people in the street and have them demonstrate their best touch-down dance.  (Mine is the classic, right-hand to left-knee, left-hand to right-knee Charleston dance move.)  Instead I observed a very interesting part of my personality — I’m never satisfied!!  (Shocker! Call the NY Times!)  I went to the pool and gave myself the same assignment as last time — after a warmup, swim until you feel like it is starting to hurt.   I did that while taking making my lap splits.  When I started to feel my right deltoid starting to fail I paused and looked at my watch.  27 laps?!?!  I didn’t say “wow, that’s great, you could only do 22 last time”, instead I said “Oh c’mon, you can do 5 more, that’ll be a mile!”  Even though I thought it might hurt I figured, we’ll work it out, lol…

I finished the 32 laps.  I went to the jacuzzi and tried to really stretch and work everything out.  I checked my laps splits, first 8 were fine, all old normal 1:06-1:10’s.  The rest?  1:17-1:20’s.  I wasn’t happy.  Mile schmile, that was not a good effort for me obviously.  (Forget the fact that I couldn’t do 24 on Wednesday or 2 a month ago.)  

In retrospect I think I was trying to pull too hard.  I heard a comment last year that I am pulling too hard and I think I now understand what they meant.  Toward the end I tried to envision my friend Cat and how she swims so effortlessly.  I realized that I was wasting much too much effort in TRYING too hard.  No try, just do….  Yoda.  Oy, I’m tired trying to work all this out…

I’ll try to be positive and say Woo Hoo!!!  I swam a mile and I won’t even mention that it was approximately 4 minutes slower than my old mile.  (42 vs. 38)  And a whole 10 minutes slower than where I want to be.  Oops I guess I did mention it.  This begs the BIG question, why can’t I just be happy with the fact that I swam a mile?  Wasn’t that my goal?  Did I not achieve it?  What’s my problem?  When will it ever be good enough?   I was really happy with 1 hour 31 minute for 2.4 miles at Lake Placid so I know I am capable of saying “YES! That was good.”   When is it ever good enough?  I think the answer is in the guilt.

Also there is one little downside which I seem to have forgotten to mention.  My shoulder was killing me the rest of the day.  Last night I was actually crying because I couldn’t figure out how to relieve that pain in the muscle behind my scapula.  I do not believe it is structural anymore (which is good), now I’m trying to train my muscles to go back to where they once belonged (aka The Beatles).  This morning I woke up and no pain.  So that is  improvement (whether or not I choose to acknowlege is another story…)

Today we rode out on 9W again with the team.  We did a similar workout to last week.  First some one legged drills.  Then two miles of standing.  As it turns out, last week when I was so proud of myself for riding nearly two miles while standing, I was doing the assignment wrong!!!  Last week one of the assistant coaches told me to put my butt back further over the saddle (although still off the saddle)  she said it would be harder.  Harder?  Why would I want to make harder?  Lol.  Well, apparently, the assignment was to ride standing with your butt back and only an inch off the saddle in our easiest gear!!  Are you kidding?  I can’t do that!!!  Basically it is go into the squat position and pedal.  Oh My Quad!!!  Burning, killing me, are we done yet?  Shoot me….

Here’s the funny part.  When our quads were burning too much then we had the choice of either sitting down to pedal it out or standing up and rocking the bike back and forth (that’s what I was doing last week.)  So last week when I thought I was doing the actual drill?  I was doing the recovery of the drill…  ROFL!  Oh My Quad!!! If I can’t laugh I have to cry….

After our warmups we did hill repeats of State Line.  This time was a little different than last week.  This time we did the old, sit the first time, stand the second time, fastest ascent up the hill the third time.  We didn’t continue on for ten minutes, we just turned around at the top and went right back down.  Repeat for about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on how long for you to get back).  Shoot me.  On the last time up that was supposed to be my fastest I said to the coach “this is my last time up, can I just sit?” “Fastest way you can get up the hill” he said.  “Well that’s sitting,” I confirmed.  “Standing will help your running.”  Groan, “Okay.” Was that Eleanor Roosevelt passing me on a Trek? “I’ll stand.”    “You can alternate” the coach compromised.  “Okay” I agreed as one of the little fast hill climbers flew by me.  Argh, I have to get her!!! 

Later I said to the coach “don’t let me get away with that kind of talk!  If  I try bargaining to do a lesser workout you have to just tell me to do it!”  He smiled, nodded and replied “I know the guilt of knowing you could have worked harder will stay with you longer and far outweigh any guilt you might feel for me giving you permission to take the easy way out.”  Well  Of course! That’s why I asked HIM for permission for the easier way out.  If I asked myself, Eleanor Roosevelt would have chimed in and told me “I must do the thing I think I cannot.”   Apparently the coach and she have “worked something out.”


I’m loving this guy Ashley Brilliant.  Funny, funny guy


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12/19/07 A little Bit More

Wednesday.  I’m always surprised when I have an “up” week.  I guess I’m so used to the difficult weeks that the easier ones catch me by surprise.  Easier does not necessarily mean easy.  I’m always aware that I have separate meters for measuring physical, mental and spiritual strength.  Easier weeks are when all three meters are above average.  I guess this is similar to the theory of biorhythms — naturally occurring cycles that influence your performance.  As Maggie, my WW leader says, when that wave of momentum comes along RIDE IT ’cause it won’t last.

Tuesday I went out for my run.  It was cold (30 something) and I was waiting for it to warm up a smidge.  Around 1 p.m. the sunlight started to stream into my apartment, beckoning me to come outside.  Hill repeats, okay, let’s get this over with.  I put on three light base layers and walked up to the park.  First thing I noticed was I was SOOOO much looser than Sunday which had been a miserable run.  Nothing hurt, felt somewhat light on my feet, was breathing well (winter asthma has arrived!)   It was a strange feeling — felt okay.  The sun on my face felt so good.  Ah, this is why I like to run during the day, Vitamin D was just soaking into the few revealed pores and I felt the heaviness of winter lift from my shoulders.  I wish I could bottle that feeling.  Central Park becomes my Cathedral at moments like that.  It is truly a spiritual experience.

I jogged up to Daniel Webster then I picked up the pace (hmmm, my watch didn’t say I picked up the pace but I felt it).  From Daniel to the reservoir and back trying to pick it up.  (Fast feet, fast feet, this is weird, why don’t I hurt?)  Then I did a recovery jog over to the boat house.  Assignment was three times up Cat Hill all the way to Cleopatra’s needle as hard as I can go then recover back down.  I remembered doing this same workout with Charlee last year.  I wanted to prove to her that I could be trusted to try to bust a gut on my own.  Off I went on the first attempt.

I don’t like uphills (don’t love downhills either…)  I feel like I’m going up and down not forward.  I tried to visualize the assistant coach who did the demo of good uphill form earlier in the season.  Think smooth, think fast, think light.  I’m still not going anywhere….  Finally I hit the top of the hill and try to go faster, faster, faster.  There are a number of tourists walking in the park I’m sure all looking at me like I’m crazy — why is she working so hard and going nowhere? 

On my recovery down the hill from my second time,  I see a young woman running towards me.  Wow, she looks effortless.  Not lumbering like I look.  I turned around to start my third and final repeat and she passed me going up the hill.  Follow her feet, follow her feet!  I commanded my little wooden toes.  I have a vision of her emblazoned in my memory.  She wasn’t even trying and click, click, click up the hill she went.  I tried to match her cadence, I couldn’t even come close.  It was like trying to follow a new line dance, I have to go left, right, left, right, how fast?  She didn’t look like she changed her stride or pace.  It was like the hill didn’t even exist.  I huffed and puffed and pumped my arms and picked up my knees and I swear I was going up and down in the air.  I wasn’t smooth like her at all!  But I did it and finished with everything I had.  Each run up was about 4 minutes, each recovery down about 6.  Eh, I think I should recover faster…

I recovered back across the transverse and did another pickup to the reservoir this time taking a good 30 seconds off my time (it was 11 minutes the first time, ouch — that’s slow for me!)  So 10:30 up 9:50 down.  Still talking a 12 minute mile pace and I thought I was working.  Therein lies my problem.  In my head I’m running like the famous marathoner Paula Radcliffe, but my feet are moving like the famous Southern chef Paula Deen (she’s not known for her fitness….)  Ah well, I felt good except for a little knee pain on the last descent. 

My shoulder has been feeling much better.   Today was swim day and I was so full of plans of doing my 3/4 mile time trial (heck I was even fantasizing about doing a 1 mile time trial.)  I was convinced I was going to get into the pool and just plow right past those 20 laps from last week.  My massage therapist begged me to not do any more than 20.  Hey, I did 20, what’s 24?  That’s 3/4 of a mile.  I scoffed.  (Of course, in my mind I’m thinking 32 laps is one mile if I can do 20 I can do 32, right?)

I got down to the pool and did a few laps warm-up.  Definitely felt okay.  No pain, no distinct discomfort.  Good enough for me, I thought.  I’m doing a 3/4 mile time trial, I’m going to surprise my team and show up for swim practice on Saturday, I’m gonna, gonna, gonna.   I peeked at my warm-up splits 1:17, 1:20…  Eh, not so good for me, so let’s see what happens if we start to S.W.I.M., c’mon let’s swim like you mean it.  Half way through I’m feeling my shoulder is sore but not pained.  If I was running I would run through that kind of soreness.  No acute pinch, just my shoulder muscles going, “hey, that’s enough, thanks.”  I kept going determined to get my 24 laps in.  I’m getting my time trial numbers if it kills me.  I stopped 2 laps short.  I was knocking on the door of pain.  That’s my rule, I’ll take discomfort but not pain.  I stopped my watch and said “okay, let’s just see what happens when I rest.”  I rested for 2 minutes and then took off for another lap.  Nope.  Done.  That hurts.  Fini.  Out of the pool.  Darn.

I hit the jacuzzi and tried to console myself.  Hey that’s still 24 laps more than you could do three weeks ago…   Some of my 50 meter laps were back in my normal range of 1:06-1:10, that was good because my goal for this year is to get them to 1 minute flat.  So I didn’t have the miracle break through I was hoping for, but there is always Friday.  That’s the great thing about life, you never know what you are going to be able to do the next time you get out there.  It might be nothing different but it just might be a little better, a little more and then next thing you know you’re right where you want to be.


All I want is a little more than I’ll ever get
Ashleigh Brilliant

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12/17/07 Simplify

Monday.  Feeling remotivated today.  I think it is because my mp3 players konked out yesterday so I brought along Wayne Dyer’s audio book to listen to on my run.  Although I had a terrible run (was not feeling it, walked a lot, it was raining, I didn’t care, I was sore, tired and uninspired), I appreciated the chance to listen to some of the messages about intention, focus and attachment that Dyer talks(writes) about in his books.

Pretty much every one of my favorite self-help-toward-enlightenment books says the same thing — stay in the moment and meditate….  You’d think that would be simple enough to do.  Apparently I’m never going to graduate to enlightenment because I remain in kindergarten in the school of life.  I still get attached to elementary issues and spend much too much time worrying about unimportant stuff.  I guess that’s why I have to meditate to remind myself to leave the baggage behind.  Every day is a new day, a new opportunity to be alive, be aware and be present.  Repeat.

One of my favorite little stories is how Henry David Thoreau wrote in a letter “Simplify, simplify” and Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote back “one simplify would have sufficed..” lol   I realize how much excess I have in my life and in my schedule.  I spend too much time sifting through the chaff instead of just getting to the task at hand.  2007 has been the year of learning to set up systems.  It’s all about the planning.  I’m finally figuring that out.  It’s like baby-proofing my house — for myself!  I have to set up boundaries and schedules and plan so that I don’t crawl out of my crib open up the kitchen cabinet and poison myself with draino (or drambue as the case may be…) 

One of the things I realized this weekend is that it is okay to say no to going to yet another holiday party.  I had party for Saturday night AND Sunday night.  I just decided to say no.  I went to see a friend’s play and called it a night.  If I had gone out to the parties it would have put me over the edge and this morning I would have woken up tired, disgusted and mad at myself for over-indulging.  Instead this morning I woke up okay, recharged and ready to take on another hectic week.  I’m actually consulting my plan.

I’m referring to the plan that I have been working on for the last month or so.  It’s an ever changing plan.  I started with my big goal of Lake Placid and what I wanted to have happen there.  From that I worked back to shorter term goals. Races are easy for me to identify as goals so it was easy for me to target St. Croix and hook mountain, Brooklyn half marathon as goal points but my goals are more life-oriented than race-results oriented.

I pick the biggest goal and from that I keep asking the questions “What do you want to have happen?” and “What are the steps you need to make that happen?”  After I write those steps out, I take the step that is nearest to me in the future and I repeat, What are the steps I need to do to make that happen?  Eventually I get down to something as mundane as “turn on the computer and load up the software” or “pump up my tires the night before” or “order from Fresh Direct.”   It always boils down to some remedial task but once ultimately I get to where I want to go instead of getting lost in a maze of confusion.  The plan is nothing more than a road map to get me out of dodge.

I didn’t do well with my food last week.  I didn’t gain any weight but that doesn’t make me happy.  I say it all the time in sports — I would rather play well and lose than play poorly and win.   It’s about feeling the satisfaction of giving it your best effort.  When I don’t follow my plan I don’t give it my best effort.

I woke up this morning and felt motivated to get through the next three days (I’m only looking at the next three days right now) on plan, exercising and keeping focused.  In order to do that I need to simplify.  In order to simplify I have to write out exactly what I want to have happen.  I have to make appointments for everything I want to do and make lists for everything I need to have on hand.

As an exercise today, I am writing down how I spend each hour of the day.  From that I’m hoping to pinpoint time periods that can be either scheduled in permanently or erased from my schedule.  This is an old bugetting trick.  If you are trying to build a financial budget, the first thing to do is write down where you are spending your money.  I’m trying to do this with time.  How much time am I wasting on which activities?  What activities are not getting done because I don’t have enough time?

I’m giving myself a time allotment for getting my work and workouts done.  I have to take the fudge factor out (lol, literally and figuratively speaking.)    If it is not on the to-do list, move on.   I want 2008 to be a year of freedom.  Freedom from clutter and chaff and stuff that gets in my way.  That means mental chaff as well.  I want to stay focused and present.  I want to check the emotional baggage and never come back to claim it.  Free from attachments.  I feel a great clarity today.  I know what I want to have happen and now it is just a matter of doing it and KISS (keep it simple stupid).



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12/16/07 Along the way….

Sunday.  Okay this is a huge luxury.  Snow/sleet bound with a hot cup of coffee on a Sunday morning.  Niiiicccee….  I have to do a 1:50 minute run today but can’t do it now ’cause of the weather.  Fortunately (un?) looks like the rain will pause a bit this afternoon which will allow me to venture out into the mush and slush and get my sloppy and soggy run in.  (Please, just don’t make me run on the “dread mill*” for 1:50 minutes, I might shoot myself….  [*Dread Mill, term stolen from my friend Colleen…]

Yesterday we had our team bike — outdoors, yep….  I’ve decided our coaches philsophy is “where there is a hill there is a way….”  All they need is one dry patch of road and they’ll come up with some way to torture us… lol    I was really nervous about riding outdoors yesterday, but to their credit they scoped out the roads ahead of time and found 9W was rideable and came up with a fun (?) workout for us.

We started with some single leg drills which were okay — I still don’t do those perfectly because I don’t have exactly equal pressure in my entire pedal stroke.  I’m working on it….  Then we had to stand and pedal for a long distance.  (Charlee later estimated 2 miles.)   When the coach first described that part of the workout I was embarassed that I actually gasped out loud.  He had to be kidding right?  Stand and pedal for that long?  I can’t do that.  I can do a little standing uphill but to ride on flat standing?  That’s too hard to keep up.

Well imagine my surprise when we got out there and I could do it.  I was more than a little shocked.  When did I acquire this skill?  I specifically remember the beginning of the season last year on the lower loop trying to stand and pedal on flat ground and couldn’t hang on for more than 10 pedal strokes.  I stood for nearly all of the distance.  (I took a less than 30 second seated break about midway.  Probably didn’t even need that… More psychological than anything.)

The main part of our workout was repeats of stateline hill — that’s a big hill out on 9W.  We were supposed to do 10 minutes out from the bottom and then return.  What I didn’t realize is that 10 minutes out would take me to the top of state line hill, down the other side and up another annoying hill.  Two hills for the price of one.  Repeat 4 times.  4 times!??!  I can’t do that.  I’d be lucky to get two done.  Well imagine my surprise when I did it 4 times.   When did that happen?  I specifically remember riding that hill with Stephanie back in 2003 literally shaking my front wheel trying to not fall over.  I remember thinking “just don’t get off and walk, just don’t get off and walk.”  It blows my mind to ride up that hill now like it is no big deal and I actually forced myself to try to go one gear harder.  Do I want to do it a hundred times?  No, but apparently 4 times is doable.   Go figure.

So although this has been a stressful week for me, I’m trying to appreciate the markers of improvement over the last couple of years.  Yes, I still have a long way to go but I am definitely much stronger than I used to be.  I often tell my clients or people I have trained to use computers that if you look at how much you have left to learn you’ll drive yourself crazy, if you look at how much you have learned you may feel some satisfaction.  I think that is true for training too.  Long way to go but look at from where I have come!


“It is not the position you stand, but the direction in which you look.” Anonymous

Blast from the past.  One year ago from the blog:

“Sunday, Marisol, Michelle and I did a 3 hour bike ride that took 5 hours!! LOL.  We stopped for coffee, bike repair and traffic!!  But we did the work nonetheless and included River Road. I definitely felt like I was getting stronger.  When we did River Road I kept waiting for the next turn that was going to be the really hard one, it never came — before I knew it I was pulling into the police station parking lot.”

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