Monthly Archives: January 2008

1/31/08 It’s Not the Hill Until it’s the Hill

Thursday.   I had a great workout on the bike this morning in the park.  I knew it was going to be cold (we start rolling at 5:30 so I have to leave my apartment by 5:15 and it was only registering 27) but I dressed properly and showed up ready to work out.  And work out we did!

We did four loops of the park.  One warm up and two loops with intervals and one paceline loop.  Same workout as last week but with an extra loop.  (Last week was quasi recovery week).  I was fairly rested going into the workout which was good because I had to have every bit of energy with me this morning.   I rode with a nice group all my pace (when I say my pace I mean they beat me up the hills but I catch them later.)  Several of them I call my “pushers” because it just kills me when they pass me on the uphills and they make me work hard to keep up.  Nowhere to hide out and just pedal through with these gals, we work hard through the entire interval.

I think of my coach from last season every week when I’m going down Harlem hill.  I was such a chicken last year and I remember her saying “you’ll be bombing down this hill by the end of the season.”  I don’t think I ever bombed down that hill even at the end of the season –even when Sunshine was screaming at me.  But this season?  This season I’m bombing down the hill already because is the only way I can stay one second ahead of those gals before they overtake me on the uphill.  I basically throw myself down that hill and the sad part is, they keep right up with me…..   I think if we are pushing this hard right now, we are going to be badass by July.  I’ll have to go back and check if we were finishing three or four loops by end of January last year.

Had a real little breakthrough on the bike this morning.  On the third loop the coach caught me downshifting as I approached Harlem Hill (not on the hill yet, just rounding the corner towards it.)  “What happened?”  he asked.  “You were riding fine and then all of a sudden you start bouncing in your saddle, did you shift or something.”  Uh, er, well, um, yeah.  I get nervous when I think about the hill coming up and I shift out of the big chain ring and into my middle chain ring (Sylvia is a triple).  Just the thought of the hill makes me shift.  “But the hill hasn’t even started yet.”  He sounded puzzled.  Fine, let me make it clear — “I’m a chicken, that’s the problem.”  I confessed.  I then proceeded to explain that if I don’t shift now I’ll be caught on the hill trying to downshift and then I’ll drop my chain and yadda, yadda, yadda.  He wasn’t really buying it.  When the words actually came out of my mouth, I wasn’t buying it either.

We did the last loop as a paceline (no intervals).  He made me lead the group down Lasker hill and ALL THE WAY up Harlem Hill.  He’s very sneaky.  He knows that my ego would make me push me harder knowing the faster hill climbers were behind me.   I rounded the bend from Lasker and although I wanted to downshift I kept thinking, wait for it, wait for it, wait until you HAVE to shift.   I was halfway up the first part of Harlem Hill before I had to shift into my middle ring.  No dropped chain.  Did the ole drop one in the front and double click up two harder in the back and it was fairly seamless.   That has to be worth 10 seconds.   It was a lesson I was embarrassed to have to learn in front of everyone — my anticipation of the hill was slowing me down more than the hill itself.  That’s not to say once I was deep into the hill I didn’t slow down considerably but I was much further along before I actually felt the pain.

Of course it made me think how often I do this in other parts of my life.  Is filing that painful or is it the thought of filing that is painful?  Is grocery shopping painful or is it the thought of grocery shopping that is painful?   And if we only stick to the routes we like or the methods we have used in the past, how do we expect to improve?   Maybe something I think is painful really isn’t as bad as I thought.  (I said maybe, I’m sure getting a needle stuck in my eye is as painful as I expect.)  But maybe if I move out of my comfort zone my comfort zone will change.  Just a thought.

Heard back from my doctor yesterday about my lab results.  First time in a long time anyone has called me perfect.  She read off the list — cholesterol, liver, salt, iron, sugar levels — perfect, perfect, perfect.  Wow, that was nice to hear.  She had tested my Thyroid — perfect (shoot, I was hoping she was going to say “well here’s the reason you aren’t losing weight….).  She tested me for Raynaud’s disease (because my finger tips in my right hand are in pain a lot).  Test result was negative. Turns out it is due to poor circulation being caused by my old tennis callouses that are pressing down into my fingers and stopping the blood flow to my finger tips.  Now I am to just massage the callouses and voila, fingertips stop hurting!

I am very excited to see how I do tomorrow at WW.  Whether the scales reads up or down, I have written down every morsel of every food and beverage that has passed my lips since last Friday.  That is such a sense of accomplishment for me that I am very happy.  I’ve tried very hard to stick to CORE foods but I’m not freaking out that I ate something non-core (bread) because now I have it quantified.  I’m not fearing the scale (the hill) before I get on it.  I feel like I’m riding right up the hill and okay, if I gain a pound, I have something to look back on and say — here, right here is something you can do to perform better.  Here is where you can move out of your comfort zone. Right here is where you need to shift gears.   It’s not the hill until it’s the hill.  And, when you hit the hill, that’s when you shift — not before.


Did you know that when Lance Armstrong first came onto the Tour de France scene they dismissed him because “he couldn’t climb?” 

Here’s a little video that gets me pumped up.  I love the part where the driver says to Lance “There is 3 meters of snow, no way can you ride.”   Lance says “Who says?” 

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1/30/08 Process and Performance

Wednesday.  Definitely on the mend.  Yesterday I went to my annual physical and fell asleep in the waiting room!!  How embarrassing, but I had to sit there for 45 minutes because they were backlogged.   I couldn’t believe I was STILL sleepy.  How crazy to need so much sleep in one week!!!

Exam went fine, she thinks I’m just fighting something but she took blood samples to test everything including my Thyroid.  She said she wasn’t expecting to see anything unusual in the results and that this is the season for fighting off viruses.  My blood pressure was 110/60 and my heart rate was “nice and low like it should be.”

I had planned to run in the park after the doctor’s but it was cold and had started to rain so I decided to go to the dread mill in the gym.  I printed out the gym workout from the training schedule and I’m shocked to admit, it’s wasn’t bad.  I don’t want to go as far as to say it was fun because running on the dread mill is never really fun, but I think it was good for me.  It was kind of a pyramid workout — first a warm-up followed by  4 minutes high intensity, 1 recovery, 2 high, 1 recovery, 1 high, 1 recovery, 30 seconds high, 1 recovery.  Then I had to do a sustainable effort and then repeat the pyramid and then cool down.  It was just over an hour.  I guess because I was so “busy” with keeping track of where I was in the workout the time just flew by.  I was also very surprised at what level I was doing my recovery and my interval work.  I remember last year 4 mph was my recovery pace and 5 mph was my fast pace.  This year I was doing 6.5 as my fast pace and 4.5 was my recovery pace.   And that was all at a 1% incline (I read somewhere that running at 0% incline is like running downhill, 1% is like running on flat ground.)  When I did my sustainable pace section of the workout I was able to keep it a 5 mph with 1% incline.  So that was not terrible and honestly, I think I could have bumped that up just a little if I wasn’t feeling under the weather.  Even 6.5 mph is not I’m-going-to-puke-or-have-a-heart-attack mode which is funny because on land I would never be doing a sub-10 minute mile without puking or having a heart attack.  (Those treadmill numbers do not correlate to outdoor numbers).

I went to bed kind of late about 11 p.m.  I woke up at 4:30 and I was AWAKE!!  My head was clear, my blood felt normal again.  OMG, am I all better?  Now I have the sniffles but I am awake, awake, awake.  No coma.  I double checked, is this a faux wake up and you want to go right back to sleep?  Nope.  This is my regular ole it’s 4:30, let’s get up and do stuff feeling.  Thank goodness.  I honestly don’t think I could have taken another day of sleeping so much.  And then I had a little epiphany (yes another epiphany).  

I’m realized I can be such a jerk.  Here I am feeling all pitiful and lamenting about DNF’ing a stupid little half marathon when instead I could be grateful about achieving something much bigger and more meaningful.  I have good health.   In the doctor’s office  I read a little article that said once you hit 10 years of not smoking your chances of lung cancer is just nominally higher than someone who has never smoked.  Wow, this year is 10 years of no smoking for me and if I do nothing else for my health I am so grateful for getting that monkey off my back.

A lot of people take medications to get their blood pressure down and my blood pressure is good, my cholesterol is good (well it was last year, have to wait for blood tests for this year).  Yeah, I’m sleepy for the last week but my system has fought off something — flu, cold, virus and I was healthy enough to fight it off.  Whatever it was wanted to invade my body and my system had enough healthy stuff in there to fight it off (okay it needed a lot of sleep to do it, but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.)

One of the symptoms I remembered reading about over-training is that you no longer have the desire to work out.  That was definitely me this week.  I really didn’t want to exercise but what I had discovered earlier this season is Ironman or no, I really enjoy the process of training.  I like to swim, love to bike and I am growing to tolerate the run.  I like the feeling I get from trying hard, sweating and getting a little better.  Yes, it’s hard to train with a bunch of whippersnappers (did I really just call them whippersnappers?  that’s s.a.d.!!! lol)  but the reality is I like each and every one of them.  They are doing their thing and I am doing mine and it’s okay that we share the same space.  If I focus on my own journey and nobody else’s, I’m doing okay.  It’s nice when journeys cross paths but ultimately it’s each individual’s journey.

If I enjoy the process and enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, where’s the downside to that?  Some days I’m going to be able to do a 1/2 marathon and other days I’m not.  Some days I’m going to be able to swim a mile and other days I’m going to suffer a little.  But net/net the end result is a healthy body and healthy mind and if I focus on that — that I’m 48 with nice low blood pressure and heart rate.  I’m getting my body into shape.  I’m meditating more (okay, this week I fell asleep during my meditations but I tried!).  I’m travelling to exotic locales (okay maybe St. Croix is not exactly exotic but it’s someplace new!) and enjoying the sport of life, that’s a good thing.  I realize I’ve been focusing on the wrong numbers.   The darn clock and scale — they will bring you down.  Step back, breath deeply, look around.  Focus on Process and Performance, not results.

Today is day 30 of the Purple Teeth Challenge.  Have not had a drink since Dec 31st.  No problem.  This was easy.  So easy, I’m not ready to say I’m going to have a drink yet.   These daily Quality Questions keep haunting me.  Why would I start to drink right now if I’m feeling better (well, I was feeling better before this week) and getting my food under control (I’ve written down EVERY SINGLE BITE that has gone into my mouth since Friday!!! Yahoo!) My quality question on my kitchen wall is “Is this going to get you where you want to go?” 

The idle drinking is unnecessary.  It’s added baggage that I don’t need to get where I want to go right now.  If my goal is to lose more weight, get stronger and more toned, run faster, master the uphills on my bike and swim longer, why would I take up drinking now?   Even if those are not my goals and my goal is simply a healthy lifestyle, why would I take up drinking now?   I’m not going to say never but right now, today, it doesn’t seem worth it.  At WW we have a saying, one beer, two beers, three beers, Chicken Wings!!  I’ve modifying that to my own, one wine, two wines, three wines, Fondue!!!

Today I’m off to the pool to work on banishing my fishtailing…..


I like this quote from Deepak Chopra on meditation because this sums up how what I get out of meditating:

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there -buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.”

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1/29/08 Live to Try Another Day

Tuesday.  I’m starting to rise from the dead.  I have not slept so much as I have since Sunday.  Okay it’s only Tuesday, but I feel like I’ve been sleeping for weeks!!  I’ve been in bed by 8 (last night 7:30!) and been sleeping all the way through to 4:30 or 5 a.m.  I basically get up, stumble through some work and then go back to sleep.  I know I’m fighting something but I don’t have any typical symptoms.  I’m definitely feeling a little better today and as luck would have it, I have my annual physical.  I’ll be interested to get my blood test results — I’m thinking this might be anemia coming back to haunt me.   I am going to run today.   I think a little exercise might be in order (yesterday the thought of moving was too much though I did stretch in my mind, lol).  The workout plan calls for a recovery run for those who ran the half marathon.  I’m doing the recovery run anyway!  I figure I struggled in my own way, lol.  My doctor is right next to the park so it will be an easy transition.

You’d think I’d have gained a ton of weight this weekend with all the crow I had to eat.  Talk about a face-to-face with reality.  (And thank EVERYBODY who sent me the article about how it is never too cold to workout from the NY Times!)   I get it, it wasn’t the cold, it was ME!!!  Most of the gals that I rode with in my terrible ride on Saturday had a PR (personal record) in their race on Sunday.  Obviously the “brutal” cold didn’t effect them at all!!   It made me feel really defeated and really, really old.  Of course I tried to give myself a pep talk — you can’t compare yourself to the twenty/thirty-somethings, for that matter you can’t compare yourself to anyone but you.  Geesh, even comparing myself to myself I’m not doing that great!  lol  This is one stop on the journey, not the final destination.  Really?  You sure I can’t just stop now?  That librarian gig is looking really good.  Recognize this for what it is, a biorhythmic slump, you’ll rally back.  Yeah, yeah, I still feel old and like I’m banging my head against a wall, I think I’m going back to bed.

All is not terrible.  I’m doing a great job since Friday on journalling my food.  The Quality Question thing (from Friday’s asking yourself a quality question for a quality answer) is really working.   This is very reminiscent of The Beck’s Diet Solution which I got a lot out of and which I still reference.  Every day (okay it’s since Friday so it’s not even a week yet) but every day so far, I’ve written a different quality question on the top of the page of my journal — is this going to help you get faster? is this going to help you have more energy? is this going to help you get to where you want to go?  Best question supplied by a WW buddy — “is this going to help my body release what it no longer needs?”  whoa…..good one!  Then I’ve just been scribbling down everything I’ve been eating — not tracking points, just writing it down.  It’s going well.  Okay it helps to sleep 20 out of the 24 hours in a day too –not too much time for overeating.  Yes it’s only day 5 out of a week, but I’m feeling good.  Even if I don’t lose this week, I’m documenting why.  That’s very important to me right now. 

I did manage to get out to COSTCO yesterday morning for a grocery run and had a little epiphany.

At one of our WW meetings I was cured from the lure of the dreaded COSTCO samples.  At the end of every aisle they have people with little carts passing out samples of the COSTCO food.  At one of our meetings our leader told us to actually watch how they handle the food.  Sure they are all wearing gloves but then they touch all kinds of other stuff with the gloves (like dirty knives and opening boxes) and then  turn around and touch the food again.  Look for it once and you’ll never want a sample again.

I was cruising through the aisles picking up products and reading the labels.  Hmmm… can’t have that partially hydrogenated crap, and since when does that have High Fructose Corn Syrup in it?   I’m no longer just looking at calories/fat/fiber.  Ala Skinny Bitch, I’m reading labels and It’s been over two weeks that I’ve stuck (to the best of my knowledge) to no dairy.   I found some frozen fruit bars, low calorie, no fat, thought they would make a great snack until I read the label — “this product contains traces of milk product.”   Really?  Why?  It’s a frozen fruit bar, why do you need to put traces of milk product in there?  I put it back.  Sounded strangely suspicious to me. 

I’m not saying I’m never going to have a milk product again, but I am going to try to finish out the 30 days (two weeks so far).

I came to the end of one aisle and a woman was chopping up little pieces of stuffed shells.  Oooh, look, she’s using a knife and fork, she’s not actually touching the food.  I could have a taste of that.  As I’m about to reach for it, I realize, SHOOT, that has cheese in it!  Have to pass it by.  The next aisle the little mini pizzas, cheese, sorry no thanks.   I passed by the frozen ice creams, the Dannon yogurts that I usually get, the organic milk section.  All frozen vegetarian entrees because all of them contain milk product, high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils.  Yikes!  I had nothing in my basket!

 I weaved my way through to the produce section and started piling my basket full of Apples (50 cents a pound vs. $1.99 a pound at Food Emporium!!), pears, oranges, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, romaine, beautiful green beans.  Now comes the funny part.  As I’m tossing all of these items in my cart I actually thought to myself “Geesh, without being able to eat Dairy products, what I am going to eat?”  As soon as I thought it I had to laugh.  OMG!  You’re going to eat all of this stuff!   Fruits, vegetable, whole grains, wild fish, organic eggs, beans and tofu.  This is just a little tweaking and you have tons of food to eat.  And you didn’t sample that little bite of Stuffed Shells which would have made you want to put a box in your cart.  So many of your “vegetarian” foods are processed and have dairy in them.  You should be able to eat without having the extras in there.    I realized how many little extra calories there were in so much of the food I eat — a little milk there, a little cheese there.  It really adds up.  I checked the labels on my favorite COSTCO salsa that comes in huge tubs and was so relieved to find not one artificial ingredient including NO high fructose corn syrup (the base of all evil as far as I am concerned.)

When I got home I saw how much food I had in my kitchen.  Whoa.  I can have an orange every day?  (They cost $1 each at Food Emporium and always felt like a splurge).  Fresh ingredients cost so much at my local grocery that I often feel compelled to buy the 2/whatever on sale in the frozen foods section.  The colors in my kitchen blew me away — Apples, pears, oranges, red tomatoes, green avocados, yellow and orange peppers, white mayan onions, brown mushrooms.  My George Foreman is going to be working overtime! Having all the ingredients at my finger tips made me realize how many great recipes I could whip up.  Brown rice, asparagus and wild salmon for dinner.  Easy peasy.  Need a fast salad?  No problem, all fresh ingredients at my finger tips. And no dairy is no problem….   By the time I put everything away I was exhausted again but I knew it had been worth the effort. Had I not gone shopping for groceries I was one phone call away from ordering in Pad Thai and steamed veggie dumplings.  Just comparing colors I knew I was eating the better choice.

So I’m beginning to rally again.  I’m hoping that pumping myself full of good foods and some sunshine today will help me feel better.  Fight off the winter blues, the Tuesday blahs.  Rest, Rejuvenate and Recover.  I love the fact that no matter how poorly we do on any given day, the sun goes down, comes back up again and you get to try all over again.  Just trying to go a little further today than yesterday. I’m not going to compare myself to the twenty somethings or even to my previous self. Today is just where I am today.


“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’”

Charles M. Schulz

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1/27/08 Overtrained and Overtired

Sunday.  Oh well, no PR for me, just another DNF.  I went years without a DNF and now I think I have 2 or is it 3 now?  (Van Cortland was my first and I can’t remember if there is another one in there — oh yeah, Ironman would be a DNF too now wouldn’t it?)   Disappointed?  Sure.  Surprised?  No.  I’m exhausted and in no shape whatsoever to run a half marathon.  Believe it or not I think I’m what they call overtrained.  I’m mentally and physically exhausted and yesterday just wiped me out.

Yesterday we had our Saturday swim and it went fine.  I was able to complete the entire workout and got another good tip from my swim coach on raising my elbow quicker on my recovery.  Then Charlee gave me an observation about making sure my arms were straight so I wasn’t fishtailing so much in the water.  (Unfortunately I didn’t hear that until after the session so I couldn’t practice that yet).

Then we had to do an EASY, RECOVERY ride.  Instead it turned out to be one of the hardest rides I’ve done in a long time.  It was brutally cold out.  I’m going to be using the word BRUTAL quite a few times because for me it was just that brutal.  I am fairly certain that I can say that was the coldest ride I have ever been on (and I’ve ridden a lot in the cold.)  Before I left Central Park I was thinking of quitting and going home to ride my trainer, but I had organized the group and there were 10 gals from the team out there and I figured well if they can ride I can ride.  The temp was 27 but it felt like 17.  It was so cold….  My face was stinging so much I could barely stand it.  (Later the stinging stopped once my face literally froze over….)

We decided to paceline out to Stateline.  Half the gals went ahead and half of them were behind.  Somehow I managed to be in the front group and for awhile I was hanging on, but I was working really hard.  I had to be in my big chain ring to keep up with them and when one gal in particular pulled I was literally doing Olympic distance race-pace.  I was hammering.   But actually during that portion I didn’t feel the cold so much.  Nonetheless it wasn’t good to be working that hard day before a race.  I let the paceline go about 2 miles from our turn around spot.   This was supposed to be an easy ride and this was not an easy pace for me — at all!

When I got to the turn around I was suprised to find they had waited for me.  Oh geesh, now I had to ride with them again.  Granted I wasn’t that far behind (they were never really out of my sight) but I just couldn’t hammer that extra difference that puts me in the 20-22 mph vs the 18-20 mph on the flats.    Also I ride differently than everyone else.  When I get to a downhill I pick it up and for some reason they don’t.  Then they zip right up the uphills as I fall behind.  Net/net, I end up catching them at certain points only to lose them again.   Too slow for the fast group, too fast for the slow group.  I stayed with them for a little while but when I started to feel my legs fighting back I waived them on.  Between the cold and the hammering on my legs I knew it wasn’t good.  I was going to pay for this.

The ride back on Riverside drive was simply brutal.  Everything hurt, everything was frozen.  The gals I rode back with were saying the same thing.  Our sweat was turning to icicles…..  Brutal is the only word I can come up with.

I left my house at 8 a.m. and was back home by 11:15.  That’s only 3:15 worth of riding (with some stops for meeting and collecting) and I felt like I had been put through the wringer.  I knew it was the temperature.  That kind of cold takes it out of me.  In the shower I saw my toes were blue and I couldn’t wiggle them for awhile (that was scary!).  I had been really bundled up but that cold found its way in.  (One of the gals puts those toe warmer packets bewteen the top of her cycling shoes and her shoe boot covers and swears it keeps her feet toasty warm.  She also puts a pair of hand warmers on her handlebars

After I defrosted I started to feel the muscle pain in my right knee.  The muscle on the upper right corner (the bottom of the quad) was definitely pulled — when I massaged it I could feel the bump in there.  Oh great, and I have to run a half marathon.   I spent hours stretching yesterday afternoon (in one afternoon I stretched more than I have all season!)  I Tiger balmed, I massaged, I did my pilates reformer, I pulled out my therabands.  I wrapped my legs up in my electric blanket.  You name it I either stretched it or used it for stretching.  I went to bed early and I just wasn’t feeling right.

I woke up feeling totally exhausted this morning.  I don’t think it was just the bike ride.  I think the cold really took hold of me and even now, I’m just tired.   It was everything I could do to get ready and up to the 1/2 marathon.  I decided before I went that if I was feeling any pain I would duck out at mile 10.

The first mile went okay, no real pain.  The second mile I was overdressed and stopped to adjust but my knee was holding up.  Third mile I started to feel tired I took a gu and my left hamstring (left over from camp?) was starting to pull.  Interesting I had stretched and stretched and stretched.  My knee was hanging in but my hamstring was going?  By mile four I was so not into the race it wasn’t even funny.  If I could have pulled over to take a nap I would have.  My mile times were okay — all under 12 except for the one where I stopped to undress and even that was a 13.  I had good cadence going but I was just exausted.  I made it around to the carousel and before I even knew what was happening I had taken off my race number and started to walk across the park home.  Pathetic, I couldn’t even finish out one loop.   I was so cold I couldn’t even walk home (I ALWAYS walk home from the park).  I took a cab.  I was cold in my bones.

Of course as I was leaving the park I stopped to cheer for some of my teammates who were all running together.  They all looked pained but they were running hard.  I had a moment of regret.  Am I a weakling?  Am I out of training for the Ironman?  But I stopped myself and reminded myself that I have completed literally countless half marathons and I will have some weekends that a bad long runs or bad bikes and some weekends where there are good long runs and good long bikes.  I think that is one thing having gone through a season already has given me — perspective.  It’s not about this one race, it’s about the effort of the entire season.  I will rally again….  Right after I take a nap.

Namaste and Goodnight

This is a very good summation of  overtraining…

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1/25/08 Good Question

Friday.  I’m having a sort of out of body experience today.  Well it started yesterday.  I was so tired all day, couldn’t get any oomph into anything I was doing.  We had bike practice 5:30 a.m. in the park.  It wasn’t anything overly hard (in fact we were done by 7.)  We did one loop then we did 2 more loops with intervals at fastest sustainable effort.  The same teammate and I chased each other around the park — I passed her on the flats and she passed me on the hills.  I was really getting mad that I couldn’t even stay close to her on the hills.  She flies up them like they don’t exist.  She has beaten me by seconds every time.  At the end of the workout I said “I don’t know when, I don’t how, but I’m going to catch you!”  She laughed but I wish she would have looked a little more nervous!

By 8 p.m. I could barely keep my eyes open.  By 8:30 I was in bed asleep.  I have no idea why I was so tired but it was like I was going into a coma or something. I slept all the way to 4:30 a.m.  That’s 8 hours!  That’s also unheard of.  8 hours!! Woo hoo!!  Big breakthrough (or I’m sick one or the other…)

Next weird thing is I actually got my butt down to the pool at 8:30 as I had promised myself.  I did the entire workout (that makes twice this week).  To be fair, the entire workout was only 1,800 meters which is nothing but I really needed to finish a couple of swim workouts even if they were just recovery workouts.  It did a lot for my confidence to know that I was doing what every other teammate was doing for their swim workout and I wasn’t cutting anything short.  I wasn’t fast but I really made every stroke count and worked on pointing, catching, pressing into the “T”.    The last part of the workout was 20 minute free swim and I did all 20 minutes without stopping and very little pain (okay I wasn’t really pushing hard either but it was nonetheless almost pain free.)  I feel my shoulder is almost there.  (We have swim practice tomorrow at 6 a.m. so I’ll get to try again.)

As I’m walking over to WW I start to think about my week.  I was a little mad at myself because I really didn’t stay on plan this week.  I wasn’t off plan either.  I was just not recording anything (which would be FLEX) and I wasn’t eating only CORE foods either.  Twice I ate a bagel for breakfast and had a sandwich for lunch.  Granted all the breads were unsprouted whole grain breads but nonetheless not CORE foods.  If I am going to eat those foods I have to write them down.  I didn’t.  I even chose white pasta over whole wheat.  I was mad at myself because I didn’t “drive the car to my destination,” I just sat in the back seat and waited to arrive to see where I ended up.  That disappoints me.  Granted, I did a lot of good things this week too.  I grilled a lot of veggies, I ate a lot of salads, I stayed away from milk products, I lowered my coffee intake.  I grilled my fish.  But nonetheless, I didn’t have a menu plan and I was driving without a map. 

I got to the meeting and I was feeling okay so I thought I would be down the infamous .5 pounds.  I didn’t feel like I had gained.  When she told me I lost 3.5 pounds I almost fainted.  3.5 pounds?  How the heck did I do that?  Now I was really made at myself for not documenting because I wanted to know what the heck I did so I could do it again!!  I have to admit, I felt tighter and lighter last week but it didn’t show on the scale so maybe this is a backlogged loss.  I don’t know.  I didn’t eat so much this week that I deserved to gain, but I didn’t think I sacrificed to lose 3.5 either.  I can’t even say it was my workout this morning because that was only 45 minutes and I didn’t even work that hard.  Weird.

I brought it up in the meeting — not that I’m not happy about the loss but I am unhappy with the method.   I equated it to being a gambler.  Just step on the scale and see what the roulette wheel does.  I don’t want it to be that way — I want to be on plan.  We had a guest leader and she made a good point.  In her opinion I really was on plan.  There are four cornerstones of WW which make up the plan and she talked about how I really did them:

1)  Think First.   I made a lot of conscious decisions about what I was eating all week.  In many cases I decided to override my plan and CHOSE to eat something else.  (Like I CHOSE to eat white pasta instead of whole wheat).  But it wasn’t mindless, I thought about eating the second soy pudding and then I ate it. lol.  I even said aloud “YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY WHY ARE YOU EATING THIS?”  And then I promptly answered “don’t know, don’t care.”  And I ate the second soy pudding.  Okay, the soy pudding is the size of a doll’s teacup and we are not talking about me pounding down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, but nonetheless I was aware that I was eating when I wasn’t hungry.  According to our leader today — that’s thinking first.  Okay, maybe…. 

2) Move more.  Okay, I think it goes without saying that I move plenty.  That one is a given.

3)  Eat Wisely.  Now here is where I thought I was off but the leader made me realize that actually I was pretty on.  Yes, I ate a bagel for breakfast twice but it was the Healthy Hemp bagel made with organic grains (260 cal/6g fat/14g fiber = 5 pts).   Plus it had 20g protein and made with Flax, Pumkin and Hempseed (bought at Westerly market froz foods — really good).  On that I put Tofutti imitation cream cheese (eh, okay).  Yes I ate white pasta (oh the scandal!!) but I also grilled three huge portobello mushrooms, 6 colored peppers and an whole sweet onion which I tossed into salads and pasta over several meals.  I also tossed half bag of spinach in with the pasta.  So really I was eating wisely — I just wasn’t recording it.  All I remembered was BAGEL, WHITE PASTA what I didn’t remember was all the other stuff — like I had two pieces of fruit every day, I ate fish, no cheese at all — no wine at all (okay right there we might have found the answer to the 3.5). 

4) Go to meetings.  I go every Friday to my meeting.  I get so much out of my meeting — it’s a very special group of people.  When I told my story for this week, the leader pointed out that really I did document, I just did it verbally at the meeting.  Everyone chimed in and one of the best comments was from one gal who said “You know it makes sense that you would settle into this place of healthy eating but not recording.  You float back and forth between FLEX and CORE anyway so it makes sense that you ended up there.  It’s kind CORE Plus.”  I had to laugh at that one.  How true, I want to be Hard CORE but I end up a wishy washy CORE Plus.  But it made me feel a little better, like maybe I wasn’t driving without a map so much as maybe I subconsciously remembered the way?   (Oooh that was deep.  lol)

So those are the four cornerstones of the plan.  Around those you customize and tweak and build what works for you.  Sure you can do all 4 of those things and not lose weight — you may have to tweak a little more, but ultimately those are your touch points.  Do all four of those and you’ll ultimately lose weight but more important you learn to live a healthy life style.  I had to admit to the group that if I was at my goal weight I would have no problem with the way I ate this past week.    But since I’m not at my goal weight I’m very hard on myself and feel that I have to work harder — I don’t deserve to eat the way I want until I lose my weight.  A couple of light bulbs went off with that one.

Talking later to some of the gals, I had another epiphany.  One gal talked about how “quality questions give quality results.”   What?  I didn’t understand.  She talked about how she had learned to ask the right questions.  For example, when I was eating the extra soy pudding and I asked “are you hungry? why are you eating this?”  The answer was “no, and I don’t care.”  That was a totally correct answer.  I wasn’t lying, I was eating soy pudding and I didn’t care.  If, however, I had asked the question “is this going to help you beat that gal up the hill on Thursday morning?”  I’m not sure I could answer “no, and I don’t care.”  Because I do care if I can beat or keep up with her.   If I had said “is this going to help you get up the Beast in St. Croix?”  I’m not sure I could answer “no, and I don’t care.”  I do care that I make it up the Beast without falling over or walking.  If I had asked “is this soy pudding going to help you run faster?”  Well, you get the drift….  This was another little light bulb that flashed in my head.

So I pledged to write down everything I am eating this week.  I’m not counting points, I’m doing my best to eat CORE but I know I will choose some non-CORE items.  At the end of the week I’ll review my notes and see how I did.  I promise to eat wisely, to think first, to move more and to go to my meeting.  And most important I’m going to make a big sign to hang in my kitchen that says  “Is this going to get me where I want to go?”  (Maybe I’ll post a picture of the Beast with it….).


To remind myself of the BEAST this is a youtube video of the climb.  I do NOT want to be one of those people walking up the hill.  I WILL NOT WALK UP THE BEAST…..

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1/23/08 Lapping it Up

Wednesday.  Pretty much recovered from the training camp weekend.  Monday I was hurting, yesterday I had isolated soreness (okay my butt still hurt!) and today I feel no distinct soreness but I can’t say I’m feeling zippy yet. 

Yesterday I had to do a recovery run.  40 minutes on the treadmill, nice and easy.  What a hoot, 40 minutes felt like 5 seconds.  I couldn’t believe how fast it went by.  It was so easy I actually felt guilty — this can’t be right.  But they said recovery so I did recovery.

Today I went to the pool and I actually had a decent workout.  For the first time I was able to complete everything on the assignment.  Okay, okay, there wasn’t much on the assignment — lots of drills and a two times a pyramid (50, 100, 200, 100, 50 meters with 10 second rest between each level).  But nonetheless I did it and I think I made some progress too.

My swim coach had sent me a video to watch to observe the hand movement he wants me to emulate.  I was to look at how the hand points out on the drive and then points down on the catch and to also look for the bend in the wrist.   Of course I studied the video for a long time before going down to the pool.  I can’t say I was any faster, but by the end of the session when I coupled in the hip/shoulder drive initiates the opposite side catch — with the bend in the wrist, for a couple of seconds I think I had it.  Watching the video made me want to get into the pool to try it out so I am going to try to watch a little every day to lure me into the water. This is the video of Grant Hacket.

Rest assured my swim looks nothing like that.  Here is another video I found that is already in slo-mo which makes it a little easier to watch.  This is Ian Thorp.  I don’t look anything like this either but it’s interesting to watch.

I am seeing what they do but I haven’t quite gotten my kick to help me drive better.  Will work on it again on Friday.  Minor shoulder irritation — nothing I can’t live with.

So how is my food going?  Well I’ve given up being a Vegan.  That’s just not going to work.   I ate Tuna on Sunday night then I ate some Salmon on Monday and some eggs yesterday.  I’ve stuck to the no dairy so far and that is not that hard since I have found some substitute products.  Almond milk and soy butter by Earth Balance are very good if not better than the originals.  I haven’t found a soy cheese that I like but I’m not really missing that.  So for now I’ll just try to stick with no dairy and see how that works.  I am pretty sure I will never become a vegan because I like shell fish too much.  To say I’ll never eat an oyster (I know what a strange item to pick) is just not doable for me.  I can give up chicken and turkey without blinking an eye (and actually happy to do so).  But no shrimp?  No lobster in the summer?   No wild Alaskan salmon?  No way. 

Purple Teeth Challenge is rocking.  Three weeks no drinking, no problem.  Not really even noticing it.  (Okay, to be fair we’ve been having some tough workouts lately so it’s not that easy to drink — but even on my days off I haven’t been tempted.)  Coffee too I’ve reduced drastically.  I’m down to one or two cups of 75% decaf.  That’s a HUGE difference from the entire pot of caffeinated coffee I used to drink (and that was just before lunch).  I think I should donate blood soon.  This is good stuff I have right now.

Sleep is not going much better.  I’m still not able to get past that darn 6 hour mark though I try and try.  I just think that if I could sleep even 7 hours a night it would make a big difference for me.  I’m following all the tips – dark room, I don’t turn on the light if I have to get up in the middle of the night, I don’t eat or drink anything for a couple of hours before bed.  But no matter what time I go to bed 5-6 hours later I am up — really up.  (I heard on the news that talking on your cell phone for up to an hour before bed disturbs sleep patterns… I put my cell phone in the drawer.)

Tomorrow morning we have 5:30 a.m. bike session.  It will be cold but doable.  Friday another short swim which I’m excited about.  We only have to swim 1800 meters which is nothing in the big scheme of things but for me it is exciting because I should be able to do it!  Saturday a.m. we have a coached swim and I would love to be able to show up and show the coach my new and improved finger pointing skills.  We follow that with an easy peasy 2 hour bike ride.  I can’t wait, it is going to be soooo easy.   I love quasi-recovery week.   Quasi?  Why Quasi?  Because of SSSSsssssssuuunnndddayyyy.

It’s been a long time since Ive actually been nervous about a half-marathon.  Sunday is the NYRR Half-Marathon Grand Prix for Manhattan.  I want to do well but I have nothing in the databank to indicate that I should do anything better than before.  I don’t feel ready to race 13.1 miles.  Then again when have I ever been ready to race anything?  I had hoped by now to be able to pull out a sub-12 minute mile half marathon.  I am having a hard time visualizing it.  Two loops of central park.  This is not an easy one.  Lots of hills.  I’m worried I’ll bonk, fail, falter, stumble, crap-out, throw whatever other verbs you can think of in there.   Plus everyone will be looking at my results and I’m afraid that I won’t show an improvement and that makes me feel kind of nauseous….  I have no problem with doing the run, it’s the being timed and being watched part that I’m not so happy with….  Get over it..   Yeah, I know.   How many WW points in humble pie?

So my Quasi-recovery week ends with a bang.  It’s going to take a lot of visualization to pull this one out of my balaclava.  A lot of resting up.  A little cheering wouldn’t hurt.  (starts 8:30 east drive at 84th street…. hint, hint….)


I read this great line, not sure who wrote it but I really liked it “Every day strive to put your body in motion, head in the clouds, nose in a book.”   I like that.

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1/21/08 Keep Going ‘Til You Can’t

Monday.  I’m pretty tired today after training camp weekend #3.  Thank goodness it is recovery week (well quasi recovery week, I have a half marathon on Sunday….)  I have aches in my pains and pains in my aches.

Friday night I did the Saints and Sinners spin in Grand Central.  It didn’t seem a lot at the time (though it was more than I was expecting).  We did 50 minutes of spinning with a lot of sitting/standing on the bikes.  (This was for charity).  I also did it at 9 p.m. with training camp in the morning I’m not sure that was the smartest decision I ever made.  But it was fun nonetheless.

We arrived at training camp for a one-hour core/stretch session.  My philosophy for the weekend was — just try, go until you can’t.  So I tried a little of everything.  I tried some plank positions (not terrible), side planks (nope), pushups (nope),  I tried my best.  When I hit a wall I just did something modified like doing side leg lifts instead of side plank.  I’m not sure which part of the weekend left my obliques killing me, but I have a feeling it might have been in that session. 

Then we set up our bikes for our 2 hour indoor spin.   I was nervous because although my trainer has been set up — I haven’t done a real session on it yet. (The one session I had tried consisted of me jumping on and off my bike making a lot of adjustments).  I hadn’t been in aero position in forever.  I decided I would just go until I couldn’t.   

I remember this workout from last year and I remember it was hard.  My memory was correct.  I really worked hard in that session trying to hit my max heart rate and keep up with all the standing and high cadence.   Coupled with the extra 50 minutes the night before, I was a hurting.  Then we went for a 50 minute run.  Same drill we did last year and that annoying little bump of a hill didn’t get any smaller….  I didn’t know how I was going to get through the run.  I had to keep saying to myself — just go until you can’t.  I had one of the coaches running with me for the last twenty minutes and if he hadn’t run with me I’m pretty sure I would have stopped.  By the end of the session I was done.  Overdone. 

One of the goals of the weekend was to start getting conditioned to stay active for longer periods of time.  I think we achieved that goal!!

Sunday morning it was cold.  My car said 17 degrees, the town thermometer said 23 degrees.  I believed my car.  We did a 2:10 minute run up a mountain.  It took me almost 50 minutes to get to the top because I had to walk so much of the first 20 minutes.   I couldn’t get moving.  I told myself that I would go until it became too painful.  It got better as I went along and eventually I made my way to the top.  Coming down was murder on my knees.  But I made it down in 40 (I didn’t run much faster down than I did up) so I had a nice 40 minutes left to do out and backs on the road.  Once I hit the flats I was okay.  I wanted to stop but it was so darn cold that I knew if I stopped running I would freeze on the spot.  Good tip, I put hot water in my water bottle.  Last year my water bottle froze on me.  This year it stayed lukewarm through the first hour.  By the second hour it was getting cold but was still drinkable.

Then we had another one hour stretch (with just a little core) session.  Everyone was tight.  Lot’s of moans and groans as we tried to work it all out before we got into the pool for our final workout.  I was doing a lot of the core work for the first time and I knew that would come back to bite me.   I found another really good stretch for me is what I believe they call the bow pose in yoga.   Lie on my stomach, bend knees, reach back with arms and grab inside of feet.  Push out on feet to feel stretch through the shoulder.  That really felt pretty good.

The pool time was scheduled for 2 hours and I was really nervous about that.  To date the longest I have lasted in the pool has been 45 minutes and that hasn’t happened for a couple of weeks (three).   But I knew there would be some demo/talking time at the beginning and then drills so I figured I would muddle through somehow.  I just kept repeating, go until you can’t.  When you hit the wall, get out of the pool.

For me this was the hardest session of the weekend.  My technique is really bad right now.  I’m doing a lot of compensating for my shoulder and I’m not even sure why.  I think some of it might be habit.  We did drills, drills and more drills — about 1/2 hour or maybe a little more.  I started to feel my shoulder start to fail at about the 8th lap (25 meter pool) so I just stopped every couple of laps and gave my shoulder another stretch.  If I rested for a second, my shoulder seemed to calm down and I could do a couple more.

Then we did a 20 minute continuous swim.  That was pretty hard.  I was really starting to feel the muscles in my shoulder starting to pull everything down.  I had to keep stopping and stretching.  Then I discovered that when I got to the end of the pool I could roll my shoulder with the little plastic discs on the lane line so I would swim, roll my shoulder and swim back.  Pretty lame but I just kept trying.

The last twenty minutes were 100 meter pickups.  I was supposed to start out slow and then increase my speed each 25 meters until I hit 100 meters.  Take a 10 second rest and repeat.  At this point my shoulder was pulling my entire neck down and it started to pull my mouth out of whack.  I figured okay, there is discomfort, then pain, then disfigurement.  If swimming is causing my face to look like I’ve just had a stroke then it is time to stop.  Assistant coach agreed it was time for me to pull out.  Ten minutes early.  It was well over an hour of swimming if you take out all my little breaks and I did relearn some important things.

The coaches have asked us to write down the things we learned so we wouldn’t forget and so we can practice them.  So here is my list:

1)  On the bike, I have to be more cognizant of not stopping pedalling when I shift to a harder gear to stand.   BAD habit.  As I’m getting ready to stand, I shift up two gears, take a deep breath and then stand.  While I’m doing that shifting and deep breathing, I actually stop pedalling for a second.  Not good.  My goal is to smooth that out.  I’m getting much better at standing and I don’t have to brace myself so much.

2)  Running.  “Tick, tick, tick.”  Just keep the sound of the coaches feet in my head.  Instead of counting 1,2,3,4 which I have mastered to slow to whatever beat I want (oonnee,  twooo,  threeee, foooouuuur), if I say “Tick, Tick, Tick” I’m less likely to trick myself. 

3) Swimming.  Bunch of stuff.  Point middle finger at someone at the end of pool.  When my hand goes down, point middle finger to bottom of pool (not right, not left, not swirly — straight down.)  Look forward so I don’t run into the person in front of me (and so I can sight).  Hip rotation launches shoulder, shoulder rotation launches catch.  Press the T down so I get my legs up….   Like I said a lot going on in that swim session.  I’m relearning a lot of stuff that I already knew last year….

Today I went to get a massage.  My shoulder is totally out of whack.  Might need acupuncture too.  When I went into my massage therapist I told her my scapula was pulling down my shoulder and that had been pulling down my neck and causing a tug in my mouth.    Not pretty.  (And we know Ironman training is all about looking pretty!! lol).

But once again, I made it through.   This year I have a better I have a better understanding of the big picture and a better appreciation of the work that I did last year to get to race day.  I don’t know what’s going to happen — if my shoulder is going to get better or I’m just going to suffer through 2.4 miles or maybe like one of the assistant coaches believes, by March I’ll be swimming like my old self (ehhh, I’d rather be swimming like someone else…)  But no matter what happens, the biggest lesson I learned this weekend is if you just keep going ’til you can’t, you go farther than you thought you could.


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