Monthly Archives: February 2008

2/29/08 Leap Year

Friday.  Had a decent swim this morning.  No drag shorts required, woo-hoo.  Did some drills and then a nice 40 minute swim with no interruptions.  Shared a lane with a guy exactly my speed which was pleasant and unusual (until I got out of the pool and saw how slow he was!!)  Tomorrow we have a swim and a run, Sunday a bike.  Not a tough weekend but I feel good so I should be able to do my best.

I went to my WW meeting today very happy KNOWING that I was going to be down at least the .4 pounds necessary to hit my 35 pound mark.  Walking over to the meeting I had decided that 2.8 would be a really deserved number.  Yeah, 2.8.  That’s what I want to hear her say!

I was confident, even cocky as I walked up to the scale.  I was unjustly denied last week and there was NO WAY that it was going to happen again this week.  (I was convinced it was last Thursday’s Sushi that had tampered with my results).  “Bring it on” I joked with the gal behind the counter.  “I’m good for at least 1 if not 2 pounds this week.”  There was no way, and I mean NO WAY I was not going to be down.  I was a model WW’er this week.  I tracked every point  — even my big dinner out with wine, bread, olive oil, pasta — tracked it all….   I was ready for it.  Ready to bask in my glory of regaining my 35 pound loss.   Okay, sure I had used all my activity points and we are really not supposed to do that but I had 8 weekly points left in the bank so by math I should have been good….

I got on the scale.  She looked at me, she looked at the computer.  She looked back at me.  I shook my head no way.  C’MON, no fair!!!  I couldn’t take it.  I had worked so hard if she she said I hadn’t made it I was going to scream.  Then she said the unbelievable.  “Oh, you got the point four alright, five point four!”  My jaw dropped to my chest.  Fffffiiivve point four?  Ffffiiiveee?   “Yep, you just hit 40 pounds, congratulations.”  

I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know what to say.  I’ve been trying to hit 40 pounds since January of 2005.  I just stepped off the scale and did the happy dance and shook my arms in the air.  I felt like one of those audience members whose seat number gets called because she won a prize in a random drawing.  At first she is stunned, looking around to make sure they are pointing at her.  Then she starts screaming wildly.  What? I won a toaster?  OMG, I never win anything!!!!  Then she starts crying because the story turns out that she just lost her job, her marriage is falling apart and the mortgage on the house is higher than it’s resale value so they can’t even separate.  But she’s thrilled that finally, FINALLY, a lucky break.  She won a toaster!!   It’s not about the toaster, it’s about finally getting a breakthrough — a change in her fate. Yep that’s how excited I feel.  It’s kind of surreal.  It was not expected.  And quite frankly it’s unbelievable.

To shoot for one goal and totally blow right past it to the next is a very strange feeling.  (I liken it to the year I just wanted to break a 4 hour Olympic distance and did it in 3:40 something.)  I did whaaaa???  I think it is extra appropriate that it happened on Leap Day (is that a word?) in a Leap Year because I think the strange and unexpected are supposed to happen today.

I didn’t realize exactly how much weight I had gained after Lake Placid.  I looked back through my books to find it was actually 20 pounds.  (For some reason I kept thinking it was 12.  I don’t know how I got that idea.)  So since September 14th when I returned to WW after my accident I’ve lost 20 pounds.  That’s pretty good.

So here I am 3 years later (almost exactly, I started mid-January).   And I’m at 40 pounds total loss.  Of course I thought I would have been at 40 pounds 3 years ago and have gone onto lifetime goal already.  Nonetheless, it’s been a tremendous learning journey and I’m not sure I would have appreciated it as much if it all just fell off right away.  Through my ups and downs I have learned a lot about the scary stuff that goes on in my head.  I can say without a doubt I am not the same WW member who sat in my chair for the first time 3 years ago.  That said, I’m also aware I have many miles to go…  I remain a work in progress.

Today’s meeting was a continuation of last week’s meeting on what it takes to reach a goal. 

The topic on the board was “ENERGY FOLLOWS THOUGHT.”   I’m a firm believer in this.  You are what you eat and you are what you think.  If you think you are a loser (in both the good and bad sense of the word) you are.  I’m paraphrasing Maya Angelou here but she said something like believe what someone tells you about themselves because that’s what they believe about themselves so that’s what they will be.  (Sounds better when she says it.)

We talked about the opposite of ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts).  APT (Automatic Positive Thoughts.)  I do not have as much APT as I do ANTs but I’m working on it. 

Then we finished discussing the last 5 of Jack Cornfield’s 10 steps to achieving your goals.  (See the bottom of this post for the complete list started last Friday).  In bold are his comments, mine follow.

6. Visualize & Affirm your goals.   So much of all of this is mental.  I really do believe in the what-you-think-you-become theory.   Not to say there are not physical drawbacks and limitations but in order take on any goal you have to have mental picture of seeing yourself do it.  The actions will follow your visions.  Do you see yourself buying bags of Doritos or slicing apples?  I think for a long time it became hard for me to visualize success.  I have been up and down most of my adult life.  I’ve tried low carb, low fat, grapefruit, no fruit, you name it.  And it’s true all of them work for awhile.  But nothing works long term unless you see it, believe it and become it.  I can’t say that I’ve truly mastered visualization.  I can just say that I appreciate its power.  Probably of all the steps this is the hardest for me.  A part of me is still that toaster woman, jumping up and down shouting “me? really?  me?”   This week I’m going to spend some extra time with positive affirmations.  The one we left the meeting with today was “I deserve to feel good about me.”  That’s a little corny for me, I kind of prefer “You’re stronger than you think.”  (I got that from a 2XU commercial on my Vision board with Michellie Jones looking quite badash.)

7.  Take Action.  Well, that goes without saying if you ask me.  If you like how your life is going, keep doing what you’re doing.  If you’re not happy, if it’s not working for you, you have to change something. 

8.  Respond to Feedback.   Of course, if it was working and now it is not working, you have to respond.  The journey is rarely smooth sailing.  We all hit little waves that toss our boat.  The key is to adjust course as necessary.   It is all about tiny little adjustments.

9.  Perservence.  This is a big one for me too.  Right now I’m in a difficult spot psychologically speaking.  I was on some kind of automatic pilot this week.  Several times I kept saying out loud “who are you and what did you do with the real me?”  I was focussed, I was in control and I was excited.  But now I have to keep going.  It’s like I’ve only done one loop of the bike course.  Now the big question, am I going to crash again or keep sailing right on through to the finish line? I choose finish line.

10.  Celebrate your success. (own it!)  Okay I can celebrate because I am truly happy.  Stunned, but happy.  But can I own it?   Hmmmm.  Not so sure about that.  It’s like my PR’s in running.  I always have a little voice in the back of my head that says “ah, that was just a fluke.”  I want to work on changing that voice to — “awesome, next goal, here I come.”

So goals for this week.  I want to get as far away from that 40 pound mark as I can (in the positive direction.)  Shop and track every morsel that passes my lips.  I want to push a little harder right now to get a solid lead.  I think it’s like biking up a steep hill.  When we get to the top we are not supposed to relax we are supposed to start pedalling faster over the top of the crest until we are down the other side.   Even going down the hill you have to pedal to keep the momentum going.  You still pedal, it’s just easier with momentum.  I know too well how easy it is to coast down the hill only to find that picking up momentum again is not that easy.  (Cycling metaphor compliments of my friend Charlee.)

I want to keep reminding myself that I did not suffer at all this week.  I ate plenty of good, nutritious food.  I did nothing that was not maintainable for the rest of my life.  This is a lifestyle, not a diet.  I will continue to take care of myself and be positive.  The results will be what they will be.  (Repeat 10,000 times.)  Energy follows thought.  Energy follows thought.

Namaste

Here are the 10 steps for reaching goals from Jack Cornfield:

  1. Acknowledge the positive past.  
  2. Use positive self talk. 
  3. Build on your strengths. 
  4. Clarify your vision & purpose. 
  5. Set Measurable goals.
  6. Visualize & Affirm your goals.
  7. Take Action.
  8. Respond to Feedback.
  9. Perserverence.
  10. Celebrate your success.

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2/28/08 Notes from the Other Side

Thursday.  Cold today.  Practice cancelled so we had to take our over-gearing workout to the trainer.  I had no idea that I had the power to actually make time stand still.  Just put your bike into the second hardest gear you have and try to pedal 65-70 rpm for ten minutes.  Time actually stands still.  I’d look at my watch convinced 2 or 3 minutes must have gone by and would be shocked to see it had only be 20 seconds.  What?  20 seconds?!?  For the last segment I was supposed to pedal in whatever gear I could maintain 100-110 rpms at 75% of my maximum heart-rate.  That gear doesn’t exist on my bike (I got close to 100 a couple of times).   But finally, once I was done and in my recovery spin I was sailing.   Ah, the other side of over-gearing is a happy place.  Everything is perspective and everything is relative.

Yesterday we had over-gearing in the pool.  Huh? It’s called put on a pair of drag shorts.  I took out my drag shorts for the first time up at camp and although it is harder I was able to do it, so no more excuses.  Drag shorts in the pool now.  Now that my shoulder is better it is time to start building up the muscle.  I feel no pain whatsoever in the pool now.  I really have to say I’m declaring my shoulder healed.  Weak, and in need of some muscle building, but I think it’s healed.  (insert little happy dance here).   After a bunch of drills I had to do to 5 billion laps with drag shorts.  Okay maybe it wasn’t 5 billion but it sure felt like it.  When I finally took off the drag shorts ………… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzoooooom.  I felt soooo fast.  But, when I looked at my splits I was not much faster at all (maybe a second or two).  But it sure did feel like I was faster.  Another illusion from the other side.

There is only one thing left to reincorporate into my training.   Push-ups or planks.  (Yes, reincorporate!  I did so do a couple of pushups last season!)  I’ve been doing my reformer.  I’ve been doing core and stretching.  But I’ve done nothing to put pressure on my shoulder.  Today I will attempt doing extended planks.  (Go into the top end of push-up position and just stay there.)   When Rhonda (my friend and trainer) had me start with planks a couple of years ago that’s where we started so I’m going back to that first and work my way up.

Food is going so well I don’t even know what to say.  I’ve tracked every single point this entire week and tomorrow I go to WW for weigh in and there is no way that I haven’t lost the 1/5 pound I need to reach my 35 pounds.  I’m confident that it will be 1-2 pounds.  I have points left over for the week (well, the day is not technically over yet.)   I feel really strange.  I feel craving free.  I’m not starving.  I’m not struggling at all.  This is a totally alien feeling for me.  For as long as I can remember I’ve always felt like I was fighting cravings and hunger.  It was always a game of how long could I hold out until I gave in to one or the other.  For the first time for as long as I can remember I have had a week with no cravings and no triathlon tapeworm.  This is really weird.  There is no food calling to me from the kitchen.  I can’t even think of a food that I am dying to have.  A nice salad, piece of fish, that’s fine for lunch.  No biggie.   Weird.  Totally Weird.

This week I’ve been reading a lot of emails with S.O.S.’s from people who are really struggling with their diets.   This is the time of year isn’t it?  It’s cold, we all want to be inside with something warm to fill our tummies.  Nobody wants to walk an extra block or even one block.   Movies, popcorn, hot chocolate, hot toddies.  Winter food — mac and cheese.  Anything and cheese.  Everyone packs on a few pounds in the winter months.  That’s why we all wear parka’s right?  To hide the winter bulge.   So what’s wrong with me?  What the heck is going on?  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that this week and I really wanted to try to give myself some notes so that when it is my turn to send out the SOS (because I have been found face first in a fondue pot) I’ll have a map to get back to this alien planet where I have found myself.   I wanted to give myself some notes from the “other side” of cravings, hunger and lack of motivation.

I started by retracing my steps.  I remember November/December were not too great on any of those counts.  Holiday parties that started on Saturday and went in to Thursday.  Feeling lethargic and none too sparkly (to borrow a term from our coaches).   Then over the last two months I did the following:

  1. January I started the Purple Teeth Challenge — no alcohol for the month.  I’ve kept it to just red wine on Sundays for February and will keep going with that plan.
  2. I did a week of going Vegan (decided I couldn’t give up oysters, lol) so just decided to go dairy free until it didn’t work.  It still feels right so I’ve kept that going.
  3. I weaned myself off of coffee.  50%, 25%, Decaf and now black tea in a.m.  Green tea the rest of the day.

It was a physical purging, if you will, of artificial ingredients, hormones, preservatives and other ugly things that go spike in the night.

I started writing down everything I ate without worrying about points(calories).  Then I started measuring.  Then I started noting the time.  Last week I moved over to tracking points.   This week was a great week (I was about to write the word “perfect” and stopped myself.)

A slow build up to getting back on the tracker.  I didn’t try to do it all at once.  Baby steps, leading into it.

I have been forcing myself to stay in bed every morning until 5 a.m.  I know for most people that is not an issue but for me this has been a huge challenge.  I allow myself to read but I must stay in bed from 10 p.m. (better if I can get to bed at 9 but not always possible) to 5 a.m.

Physical rest. So important.  I remember often being tired made me eat to keep up my energy.  So without 9,000 cups of coffee a day I think I’m able to sleep a little better and with sleeping better I don’t need the food to keep me awake.

Mentally I’ve been trying to repeat lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle and move away from thinking about the scale.  I have to say I’ve not really mastered that.  I still want to see a lower number (which I am pretty sure this week I should.)  I guess it is not so much what the scale says today that is a problem for me, it is the projecting I like to do that gets me in trouble.  I’ll think, okay if I lose 1 pound a week or 2 pounds a week by such and such a date I’ll be here and then by such and such a date I’ll be there.  A lot of such and such dates have come and gone over the last 3 years and I’m starting to realize that I’m doing myself a huge disservice to think that way.    Just be happy where I am today and continue to work on improving my lifestyle by little bits.

Meditate, meditate, meditate.

Speaking of happiness, I do believe being grateful for my return to health has also been a huge factor.  I’m not so invested in that phrase “you are an Ironman” as I once was.   Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% committed to being the most badash I can be on race day but  I’m much more invested in the now than in fantasizing about how I am going to feel crossing that finish line.  Yesterday my brother asked me “so is this Lake Placid thing going to be every year?”  And without thinking I replied “no, not Lake Placid, but this will remain my lifestyle.”  Triathlons, Summitting some Mountain somewhere, doing my first ultra — whatever, the options are limitless.  I look at Lake Placid as just one of the interesting stops on my journey.  Right now is the only important day.  And today I’m doing okay — better than okay.  For right now, the view is pretty darn good from the other side.

Namaste
Be a disciple – then you will see the whole universe as your guru.”
Swami Venkatesananda

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2/26/08 It’s All Good

Tuesday.  Well I’ve felt worse after training camp weekends so all in all I think I’m recovering nicely.  My muscles are sore (as I think they should be) but they are functioning  (I’m not walking around crippled or anything). 

Yesterday was day off from training and it was a welcome break.  Today back up to the park for a recovery run.   We were supposed to do the trails but they were covered with ice and slush so I kept to the roadways.  I was very surprised to find my legs running along nicely without too much prodding.   It was actually a pretty good run (I think they were just secretly happy to not have showshoes attached to their feet or be pulling a tire or running up a hill.)

I discovered a neat little drill while running today.  Well actually I just stole a biking drill from Saturday and applied it to running.  We were doing a drill where we concentrated on one foot pedal stroke for 10, the other foot pedal stroke for 10 and then both pedal strokes for 10 (two times).  Do that little routine 3 times in a minute and you are practicing a cadence of 90 on your bike. 

I was running in the park and trying to concentrate on lifting my feet over the imaginary rod that sticks out through my ankles (the visualization I learned from Chi Running last year).  And I thought I should just try the bike pedalling drill.  I think it really worked.  I imagined pulling my right foot up and over the rod for ten, then my left foot up and over the rod for ten then alternating feet 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.  Repeat.

By the time I did the mini drill 3 times (just one minute) I definitely felt I had picked up my cadence and my foot lift was better.  So I just kept practicing that around the upper end of the park using the 102nd transverse as my cut off.  By the second time around my little loop I think I was really cooking.   I was still doing a recovery run but keeping the cadence alive.  I’ll be using that drill a lot on the bike and on the run.  I can also imagine that would come in handy during a race when I’m just not feeling like I can keep going.

Food is going very well.  I have continued to document and tracking my points (I’m still committed to move the needle on that scale on Friday).  I’ve loaded up on organic fruits, veggies and grains (even bought my Quinoa).  Even more impressive, for the first time in, well, ever, I stayed totally within my WW points yesterday without touching activity points or my weekly extra points.  I’ve never done that, I’m always looking for extra points somewhere.  I ate well but I made a few minor adjustments throughout the day that added up in the end to giving me enough points for dessert!  (Little dessert but dessert nonetheless).

All in all I’m feeling very good.  Am going to do a little spin on my bike this evening and a quality stretch.   Tomorrow back to the pool to try to work on some other tips I got from camp. 

I’m trying to hold onto this groove I have going.  I don’t really know what is causing it.  It really could be the ommission of dairy.  I’m feeling disinclined to even pick up dairy (and that’s weird for me being the Queen of Cheeseland and all.)   But I feel I have energy, I have not had even a sniffle (I used to always come back from training camp with a cold), my temperament seems much more even.  Even my mysterious eye problem of constantly tearing has magically disappeared after months of non-stop tearing.  I feel really good.  Even my knees were behaving today (okay it was only a 1:30 minute run so that’s not that taxing to begin with but…)  I feel stronger, I feel fitter and I feel healthier.

Today as I was running down from the reservoir I got choked up for a second.  I passed the maintenance area where the garbage trucks park and I remembered that tiny little bump of a hill there.   Was it really only September/October when I couldn’t get up that bump without walking and could only make it around the reservoir once?  Was it really only August when I couldn’t walk to the pier without holding on to Mo, Steph, Donna or Charlee’s shoulder?   I feel like I am not only all better but I feel better than I felt before the accident.  (Okay maybe my shoulder isn’t as strong as last year but it is no longer hurting at all and I’m ready to start building those muscles too.)

Besides the physical part of feeling good, I am truly grateful and appreciative to be given this chance to keep going.  I have no fears now of being able to finish the swim.  My memories of bike crashes are slipping away as I take on each hill.  My running is definitely better than last year.  I’m very grateful and I’m looking at the whole Ironman exeperience through more humble eyes.  I may not be a Kona Contender, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience of pushing myself just a little bit more every day.  It’s all good and I am blessed.

Namaste

Some pictures from training camp…

Getting ready to snowshoe up the mountain.

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At the pond before getting “lost” in the woods.

snowshoe1.jpg

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Whew, made it back.

snowrunning3.jpg

Just in time to pull a tire.  I swear I was moving backwards.

tirepull1.jpg

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2/25/08 Training Camp #4…. Done!

Monday.  The Monday after training camp is usually filled with a lot of ughs and moans and groans.  I’m surprisingly not in any pain but my muscles have all voted unanimously that we are not moving any of them until our recovery run tomorrow (maybe a little stretching on my reformer).

Unfortunately it was too cold (and wet and snowy and icey) to ride outdoors on Saturday.  I say unfortunately because truly I like riding outdoors much better than indoors (who doesn’t?)  Indoors there is just no place to hide.  Your bike is facing a row of coaches who are watching your every pedal stroke and giving you the hairy eyeball if you even THINK about stopping pedalling for a minute.  (How do they even know what I am thinking?  They must see something in my face or my feet because I swear I am still at 95 rpm and thinking that I might downshift for one second and one of them mouths “keep going” or “don’t stop” or gives me a squint that says if you stop I’m going to come over there and crank your trainer to three rotations harder.)  Okay, okay I’ll keep pedalling!

Of course before we even started our indoor session we set up our trainers and had to go out to do a 45 minute run of… hill repeats.  I forgot to mention this training camp was our first in the strength building phase of our training.  To date we’ve really be working building up our endurance and technique.  Now we are working on building our sport-specific strength.  So we did 45 minutes of running back and forth on a road with a gradual incline and a steep hill at the bottom.  I only went down the steep hill once because I started to feel my knee talking back to me.  Okay, okay, don’t get all twisted, I’ll keep it to the gently rolling hills. 

Back to the trainers.  2 hours of non-stop spinning, standing, over-gearing.  It was kind of like last Thursday’s indoor workout on steroids.  Lots of pyramids (that’s where you do build up/build up/build up/down/down/down for twenty seconds or two minutes or whatever.  We worked on increasing your heart-rate with every gear shift by maintaining the same cadence.  The guy next to me and I kept comparing heart-rates.  (He was consistently higher but we were getting a kick out of how our heart-rates were equally increasing and decreasing.)  Or we would work on keeping our heart-rate the same by changing our cadence according to the gear.   I have to say I really was doing okay with that.  I have never done 110 rpm before and I actually hit 113 rpm on my bike.   Wow, when did that happen (remember I’m the 82 gal — I seem to love 82 rpm on my bike and on my run though 90-95 is preferred.)  I’m really finding it much easier to stay 90+ on my bike indoors and out this season which is good.

Of course we had to do a bunch of standing stuff 20 seconds up, 20 seconds down for what seemed like forever.  But for the second hour the coach put on music so I found a well-store of new found energy and the music helped me keep going on the sit/standing and the overgearing as well.  (Overgearing is when you put it into a really hard gear and of course your cadence drops — it’s a muscle building drill.)   Then we had some time trials in there and let’s just say when we had our little recovery spins my easy gear was starting to feel like overgearing!!!  But I made it through, just in time to……  Hit the hills running again!!

Oh yeah, after the 45 minute running, 2 hour indoor spinfest, we hit the road with the same hills.  This time they had us run across the snowy trail to get to the road.  We were to try to pick up our feet quickly so we wouldn’t break through the crust of snow.  Of course I’m not one of the 110 pound gals who can flit across the top of the show so I just found a nice groove in the trail made by the big guys in front of me and followed that.  It was definitely hard to keep the same cadence and speed going on the second time on the course but I was really surprised that I could do it.  I remember when I first started doing triathlons how much it hurt to start running after I would get off my bike.  My legs really seem to have developed some kind of muscle memory because now when I do it my legs adjust pretty quickly as if to say “oh, we get it, she’s doing THAT again.”

Back to stretch, load up the cars with our junk, and off to the hotel and team dinner.  (Quinoa was one of the dishes served — we all agreed it was great and I’m going to start making more.)

Next morning up at the “crack of stupid” as my teammate Sunshine used to call it from last year.  We were off to the mountains to do the infamous tire pull — where we run up the mountain dragging a tire behind us.  This year they added new fun to it.   They broke everyone up into two groups and one group went off to do the tire pull for 45 minutes and the other group were given SNOWSHOES to run up a mountain trail.   I had brought the showshoes I had bought last year but had never used. 

At first it was really strange and awkward.  But within five minutes I was able to get a little running shuffle kind of thing going.  I can’t say that I was running with the snowshoes like the coach and the fast kids were but I don’t run out of showshoes like they do either.  I just tried to keep light on my feet and lift my feet and run the best I could.  I had to walk up the steeper parts but I was doing it in running shoes I probably would have walked those sections too.  By the time we got to the top we had a great view and I was LOVING my snowshoes.  Of course then we had to turn around and go back down.   This was the part I was dreading.  But no problem!  No knee pain running down hill in my snowshoes AT ALL.  Wow!!   It was like running on little clouds.  It’s kind of like your foot never really hits any hard before you bring it back up again.  This felt good.

We got to a little pond and the coach was going to lead everyone back down to tire pull.  I just knew 45 minutes of hill repeats was not a good thing for my knees so I asked the coach if I could stay up on the pond trail and do some more snowshoe running and he said “do you know where you are?  do you know how to get back?”   This was the second (or third) time I had actually been up to that pond and we just took one trail straight up so I said “of course” I know where I am now and I’m just going to do out and backs on this flat part here.  He said okay and headed back down — the other coaches would be coming back up to that point with the rest of the team in a few minutes anyway.

Okay anyone who knows me knows that given the opportunity to get lost in the woods I always take it.  I did some out and backs around the pond and headed back down the trail.  I was really getting a good clip going.  This is fun, fun, fun I kept saying to myself.  Nothing hurts, I have a good rhthym going, I could do this all day.   On some of the flatter parts I was really running.  Cool, look at me!!!  Hmmm,,,, what’s that big tree in the middle of the path?  I don’t remember that.  Hmmm, okay, I’ll go around it and keep going.  I see cross-country ski tracks and snowshoe tracks so I convince myself I’m going the right way.  I keep running and running.  La de dah de dah.  The sun is shining the snow is great and then I hit a big chain stretched across the trail and a sign that I don’t even know what it said.   Hmmmm, I DEFNITELY never saw that sign before.

Okay it’s official.  Once again I am lost in the woods.  Un-freakin-believable.   How do I manage to do this all the time?  I peer through the woods trying to make out if I can see any people down below.  Nothing.  But then I hear voices coming from far way, down the mountain, the other direction.  Okay, I’ll just turn around, retrace my steps up to the pond and look for another trail.  I head back and then I spy a smaller trail leading down the woods.  I remember what my Dad used to tell me all the time growing up “if you get lost on the mountain just head downhill, you’ll eventually hit a road or our house or something.”   (Geesh, Dad, did he have a premonition that he would have a daughter who would be constantly getting lost in the woods?)   I took the small path and started to recognize bends in the path and I knew I was on the right road. 

Once I found the team again I stayed closer to them and did some more out and backs down another path.  I found a great little hill and practiced some hill repeats.  What I couldn’t do the day before on the hard road I was able to do in the soft snow.  Then one of the coaches gave me a little added workout of alternating my running with high stepping, lifting my knees really high to work on my hip flexors.   Okay that did me in.  About ten minutes of that and my quads and hamstrings and glutes were quivering.  I made it back to the group and said “I think I’ll do some tire pulling now!!”  LOL, tire pulling was a relief from snowshoeing — when was that ever going to come out of my mouth?!?!?

I did just one run up a short segment of the mountain about four minutes, dropped the tire and ran for one minute without and then turned around grabbed the tire and ran back down and dragged it mostly back out to the cars (I offloaded it at the last minute).   I actually kind of like to run with the tire because I feel like I can do more of a lean and the tire kind of holds me back so I don’t feel like I’m going to fall over.  (On part of the run down the mountain one of the gals sat in my tire and pulled her for a bit and that was very interesting to get the feeling of totally leaning forward and running….)

Back to the cars and back to the dance studio for a one hour stretch session.  Ouch, ooch, ouch.  Lots of moans and groans as we stretched and stretched and streched.   Then off to the pool.    2 more hours and camp would be finished.

The swim was pretty good.  I had very little pain.  I can’t say that I feel as strong as last year but my shoulder was not giving out.  I did the drills with and without drag shorts as assigned.   I think I might be on the verge of getting to understand after five years of what they mean of not thinking of pulling your hand back as much as thinking of anchoring your hand and moving your body past it.  I think I had one or two laps where I felt what they meant.  So when the coach says I’m pulling too hard I think I’m starting to get what he means — I don’t have it quite yet but I think I’m getting it.  Lucky for me I get to practice on Wednesday!!  We ended with some team building games in the water and that was a nice fun way to end the camp.

So that was our training camp.  Hard but we had fun and the people are just so nice and friendly.  Not a bad egg in the basket.  Fresh air and sunshine.  Mountains.  Learning to play with new toys.  Working hard towards a goal.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend, not bad at all.

What was the highlight of camp?   I tracked every single stupid calorie that I consumed.  Yep, my tracker is going.  Points and all.   Hill repeats, snowshoes, drag shorts — chicken feed.  I logged every bit of food that went into my mouth including a dinner out with friends on Sunday with lots of wine.  I’m not using exercising as free pass card to eat whatever I want.  So for that I am really proud. 

 This morning I was greeted by an email from a friend and she wrote something that really resonated with me.   She’s doing a(nother) marathon and she’s getting married so she was prompted to write 

One of the things I have been frustrated with is, seemingly, how many decisions I have to make– especially with, as many of you know, the vagaries of wedding planning…  Sometimes it feels so overwhelming, that I just wish things would happen so we can start making decisions and plans.”  Then her fiance said to her “look at how good we have it.  We have decisions to make!”  She had a little epiphany that the need to make decisions is in itself a blessing because there are so many people who have decisions taken from them.  Whether you are talking about someone who is sick or living in a country where they  stripped of their civil liberties, there are millions and millions of people who don’t get to make decisions.  

It struck me this morning, while reading her email, to be thankful for how blessed I am to be able to have good friends and family who support me and let me train for this totally self-indulgent goal of finishing the Ironman. So today as I’m letting my body rest and recover, instead of noting how old and creaky I feel, I’m going to be grateful because the fact that my body is recovered enough to be creaky again is, in itself, a blessing. All of our choices and decisions are blessings because we have choices and decisions to make.

Namaste

Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
William Jennings Bryan

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2/22/07 ANTZ!

Friday.  Cold weather kept me indoors for the bike session yesterday.  Geesh by the time I finished the workout I wasn’t sure what was more exhausting, following the instructions or doing the workout.  1 minute of this, 2 minutes of that, 20 secs increases and then 20 secs decreases.  I was so busy reading the instructions I could barely watch my TIVO of American Idol. 

This morning had my swim workout.  I have to say I think my shoulder is doing pretty well.  No more click, click sounds.  No pulling of the shoulder.  I’m even able to put some pull into my stroke.  The only complaint I have with the workouts is I think I’m all done and they keep putting these final 4 sets of 50 meter fast swimming.  I wish they were before the mainset ’cause frankly I’m pooped by the time I get to that.  I did the entire 2,600 meters.  I was pleased and hope that I’ll do a better showing than last time in the 2 hour swim session during training camp #4 up in New Paltz.  Should be “fun” (not!), we’re probably going to be doing snowshoe running up the mountain.  Shoot me.

Of course it’s Friday which means WW day.  And now I have to say that I’m mad.  I’m gonna get even if it kills me.  I was up .2 pounds at WW this morning.  As that guy screamed in that movie “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  Okay, the real scene is I wrote down every single thing that I ate, I weighed and measured but I didn’t track points.  As one of my wise friends at WW said, “ah, yes, the magic pen didn’t work this week.”  I was having quite a little temper tantrum in my head when they said that I was up .2.

Up?  Up?  What are you kidding me?  For five weeks now I have written down everything and every week I’ve lost something.  I thought that was my deal.  Write it down and you’ll lose weight.  I haven’t eaten any dairy in six weeks (that still feels right).  I’ve kept my promise to limiting my red wine to Sunday nights.  I haven’t eaten any high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated anything.  I’m eating fruits, veggies, grains, fish, eggs and even taking my vitamins and glucosomine.  So what’s the deal?  Why didn’t I lose weight?  I’ve been doing my workouts.  I’ve been good.  This is unfair!!!!! 

Of course the other little voice in my head (that little voice of reason that I so rarely give an opportunity to speak up) was trying to get a word in edgewise…. 

eh hem, excuse me, but writing it down is not the actual agreement.  The agreement is to stay within a certain caloric point range and writing it down is how you are supposed to do that.

— Oh shut up, who asked you?  I did the work, I demand to be down my .2 pounds to make my goal for this week.

well I think if you look at the data, it will show that, in fact there were several opportunities for you to have chosen lower point value foods and perhaps you could wait longer than five nanoseconds upon the feeling of hunger to eat.  You do seem to eat often and maybe it’s time to exercise the I-can-feel-hunger-for-a-minute muscle.

Excuse me, whose side are you on? 

And so the argument continued on through into our meeting.  Sassafrasalocious I was mad.  Eventually I focused in on the meeting…

Today’s meeting was about fighting the problem of ANTs.  Our illustrious leader Maggie explained that ANTS have a tenacious quality.  Once they set out on a goal they proceed in a straight line until they reach their intention — usually some morsel of food or lollipop that is left on the wayside.  Then the ANTS gather around the piece of food and gobble at it until there is nothing done.  They are quite industrious those ANTs.  The only problem is, she was not talking about the kind of ants that show up at picnics, she was talking about the kind of ANTs that show up in our head. 

ANTs is an acronymn for Automatic Negative Thoughts.  They act just like regular ants.  Once an ANT gets started, it makes a straight line to it’s target — to eat something.  ANTs are often found with words like Should, Can’t and Never.  I shouldn’t eat that.  I can’t track points.   I’ll never get to goal.  They can be even more direct.  I’m fat, I’m lazy, I’m worthless.  These are all nothing more than ANTs.  The trick to defeating them is to pull out your COMBAT spray.  But before you spray the ANTs you have to see them.

The problem with ANTs is that they are insidious.  They’re fast little buggers and they run by so quickly that sometimes you miss them.  Our goal for this week is to stop  whenever we get even the smallest glimpse of an ANT and write it down.  And then we are immediately to talk back to it and kill that ANT.  

I, of course, started whining about my own ANTs this week and my not losing weight.  (Of course the entire time I knew that in my heart of hearts I didn’t deserve anything — well maybe I didn’t deserve to gain but I didn’t necessarily deserve to lose.)  I explained how unfair it was and blah, blah, blah how I wrote everything down and how unfair it was that it didn’t work this week.  I kept going on about how I have to be tougher and I was whining about this and that. 

Then the funniest thing happened.  Maggie was about to make a joke but then thought it might not come out right.  I insisted that she tell me and she said “well I was going to say ‘Suck it Up’ but I thought you wouldn’t know I was joking.”  I almost peed in my pants.   Little did she know that was one of our mottos from training season last year.  Any time we’d start whining about something being hard, Coach Kim used to say “Suck it Buttercup!”   We all started using it on one another.  Rob even printed posters that said “Suck it up Buttercup” to put out on the course.  I was laughing sooo hard.  Maggie was so funny “I wouldn’t say that to anyone but you.”   I told her later that it was exactly the right thing to say to me.  Like Dr. Donna likes to say to me when I start whining “YOU’RE TOUGHER THAN THAT!”  And of course they are all right.  I can suck it up.  I am tougher than that and darnit all, I’m losing 2 pounds this week if it kills me.  I’m writing down everything, I’m calculating every single freakin point if it kills me.  I’m not taking this crap any more.  Just let a freakin ANT try to spoil my picnic — I’m taking them down!!!

Part II of the meeting was talking about the first 5 steps of reaching your goal for change from Jack Cornfield (next week the next 5 steps).  I thought these were quite interesting in light of what was going on in my head.

1.  Acknowledge the positive past.   This is about knowing what you’ve been doing that HAS been working and to keep with it.  A lot of times we know what doesn’t work — I didn’t do this, I can’t do that.  But it is important to recognize the things we are doing right so we can keep on doing it.  In my case, yeah, I’ve done five weeks of writing everything down, I’ve cut out dairy and coffee and reduced my booze intake.  Those are all good things and habits I want to continue.  Those are weapons in my arsenal and I can count on using those in the future.

2.  Use positive self talk.  It was interesting this week to correspond with a friend of mine who kept calling herself lazy. “I’m too lazy to do it.  I’m too lazy to shop, lug, track whatever.”  Listening to her I heard alarms going off all over the place.  You’re calling yourself lazy, you’re not supposed to do that!  That’s negative self-talk.  I was quick to spot the ANTS at her picnic, but how quick am I to spot them at my own?  This week I had a few thoughts about “oh yeah, have been here before, it never sticks, I can’t get to the next level.”  Those are big freakin’ ANTS.   And that’s all they are ANTS, illusions at best.  I can feed them and make them bigger or just stomp them out.

3. Build on your strengths. I file this one under my strategy-building.  It’s like I was saying in the blog the other day.  Move the hamper.  If you keep trying to do something that doesn’t work for you — the trick is to not to try to change you, change the system.  If you are never going to cook, learn to order in properly.  If you won’t track, set up a menu plan and follow it so it’s already tracked before you start.  For whatever problem you have, there is some tool in your own bag of tricks that will work for you.  We are all smart enough to figure out away around any obstacle if we concentrate on our strengths instead of our weaknesses.  I was talking to another WW friend this week and she was worried that her pounds were creeping back up while she was on CORE.  I told her go back to FLEX.  Pull out those trackers that worked when you were on fire.  Look at the systems and strategies that worked for you then.  Go back to what worked!

4.   Clarify your vision & purpose.  For me, without a doubt, was the most powerful step.   If you goal is to lose weight, you are hauling a big bag of rocks about.  Even just saying that “I have to lose weight” there is no way to make that a positive vision or statement.  It’s a job.  That’s pretty much where I was this week.  I have to lose .2, I have to lose .2.  I was about struggle.  How long can anyone keep up the struggle?  But when we change the vision & purpose to something that is really important to us (I want to look good in that outfit, I want to be faster up the hills, I want to feel free and comfortable and at peace) then the goal becomes something you WANT to do instead of something you HAVE to do.   The most important thing I got out of the meeting today was “your goal should put a smile on your face.”   It should be something that makes you happy.  Try saying “I have to lose weight” with a smile.  Now try saying “I want to PR on my next race and run a sub 10 minute mile.”  Even writing that I got a big grin, could you imagine?  A 9 minute mile half marathon?  Okay, that’s a ways away but that would be cool.  Really cool.

5.  Set Measurable goals.  Goals should be specific and stated in the positive.  Don’t try to conquer the entire world at once — take it country by country.  Every time we achieve one small goal it exercises that I-can-do-it muscle.  Smaller achievable goals.  For me, for this week, I am tracking all my points.  I can do this.  This is not beyond me.  I’ve already proven I can shop, cook and measure my food,  I have proven I can write it down with the quantity and time of day.  I am certainly capable of looking up a number or two and writing on the paper.  I’m pretty sure I passed first grade math when we learned to add 1+1=2.  I can do this.

So that’s how I end this cold and dreary week in February.  I little p.o.d that I didn’t hit the big 35, but I’m determined.  I’m not screwing around this week.  I’m taking out a big fat magnifying glass and looking for those ANTs.  When I’m done planning this picnic, it will be an ANT free zone.

Namaste

ants.gif

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2/20/08 My Diet Manifesto

Wednesday.  Yikes, may have overdid it just a smidge yesterday.  I did our assigned 45 minute spin before dawn (before dawn part is me, not assigned).  Then at lunch I went to the park to do my dreaded hill repeats.  I was really dreading it because I wasn’t feeling particularly sparkly but I knew it had to be done.  I was also worried that my knee wasn’t going to hold up because it was feeling ever so slightly twingey during my spin (I think I bruised it during my free fall on Saturday).  I couldn’t find my heart rate monitor either which bummed me out, but I went anyway.

When I got to the park the sun was shining so brightly the only word that came to mind was GLORIOUS.  Wow, everything was sparkling.  Even the rocks were shining in the sun.   Once again I was reminded why I love my Tuesdays in the park.  A big dose of Vitamin K and D and my mood shifts almost instantly.   Twice I ran into people I knew and it was so weird to just randomly run into them.  One of them was a gal from our team last year.  “Wow, I never knew it was so nice out here during the day — there are no people and the sun in shining.”  “I know” I replied, “welcome to my secret world.” 

Our assignment was four repeats of Harlem hill North to South (the heart attack/gut wrenching kind of ascent) and then 3 ascents south to North.  I really had to force myself to get them done.  I did the 4 big ones (about 10 seconds slower than last time) and I did 1 of the South to North (about the same as last time).   Then I started to feel a twinge, nothing terrible but my inner athlete said “you’re done, run home.”  Last time my hamstring gave out and I had to take a cab home, but yesterday I really wanted to run home and have enough legs to do it.  I made it to Columbus Circle and attacked Whole Foods.  I was starving!!

After work I played an hour of tennis.  Okay, that hurt.  I knew playing Tennis on Tuesdays was not a good idea but it was  an opportunity to hit with a good player and he was willing to just hit, not serve and he promised to not hit me any lobs so I was anxious to take advantage of that.  Even though I had thoroughly stretched, the last 20 minutes were not so good.  I was just getting stiffer and stiffer and I was also remembering why I had given up tennis last year.  One lazy move and I can yank me knee out of commission for weeks.  So I think I’m going to limit Tennis to Mondays and possibly Wednesday or Thursday (one not both)  when my legs are fresh enough to move and not cause damage.

I received a couple of emails from friends this week asking about foods to eat while training and diet motivation.  Of course I thought this was quite humorous coming from two people who are about half my size.  Who am I to give anyone diet advice?  But then I started to think about it.   What better person to ask than someone who struggles with food, diet and fitness, 24/7/365?  I am by no means an expert and I have a long way to go, but I certainly have learned a lot over the last couple of years.  While answering the emails I started to see that I do have a lot of knowledge of what works for me and I could sum up some of my pirogis of wisdom.  I thought writing this out would be a good exercise for me to have something to come back to in my darker moments.

The first thing I would say is it is all about lifestyle and not about diet.   The moment I think I am trying to diet and lose weight it’s all over for me.  That’s exactly when the scale starts creeping up.  As soon as I get obsessed with the number, the scale goes in the opposite direction.  If I feel deprived, I am the first person to jump off the wagon into a tray of sticky buns.  Don’t tell me I can’t do something.  For me it has to come down to wanting to be fitter and healthier.  The power of saying “I choose to” vs. “I have to” is immeasurable.

Being skinny has never been and will never be a motivator for me.  I know too many skinny people who are just not healthy or they are just plain old mean (just kidding).  And what does being thin mean anyway?  Who decided that’s the goal?  I didn’t get to vote.  Thin doesn’t always mean you look toned and fit and beautiful.   Being stronger and faster… okay, I’ll concede those might be motivators.  But feeling better and feeling centered and feeling at peace — those are my true motivators.  When I feel good, all the work is worth it.

Feeling centered and feeling at peace come from lifestyle not from deprivation.  They come from meditation, sleep, nutrition, movement, water and sunshine.  And in that order.  Whenever I try to fight fat, fat wins.  The harder the I try the farther from my goal  I get because like an elastic band the farther out you stretch it, it comes back with an equal and opposite force leaving a big red welt on your wrist. 

I’ve come to understand that becoming fit is not so much about creating a new me as much as it is REVEALING the true me.  This has been the hardest thing for me to come to understand.  I’ve really only begun to understand this since July, since after Ironman disaster.  Everything I want to be is already here.  It’s letting it shine through that is the task.  Letting go of the stuff that gets in the way.  Donuts, cheesecake, pizza, fries — they are not the problem  — they are the veil.  They are what you add on to yourself that hides the true person.  If you think of that old adage you are what you eat, it’s true.  Every bit of food is about nourishing the cells of your body and your soul.  Pizza is not evil.  A whole pie and a six-pack are not evil either, they are just in the way.  One slice with salad and a glass of red wine is less in the way.

(Okay I have to throw my sister-in-law’s joke in here “of course there is a skinny person inside of me trying to get out, I ate her!”)  

But there is the science of losing weight to consider as well.  Calories in and calories out.  There has to be a deficit in order to lose weight.   That said, I have definitely learned the hard way that all foods are not created equal.  If I eat 1,200 calories of sugary, manufactured product I will have a biological reaction that forces me to eat more food — I will never feel satisfied and I will never feel at peace.  If I eat 1,200 calories of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish — I’m going to feel more satisfied, sleep better and feel better.  When I eat is important too — if I wait too long to eat, I’ll have stretched that elastic past the point of gentle return.  If I eat too often I’ll feel sluggish too because I have to process the food I have eaten.

Writing it down.  Before hand and after.  Having a plan to stick to and then writing down what happened.  I hate to say it but it works.  Seeing it in print, it is hard to dispute the facts.  “I don’t know why I can’t lose weight.”   Well let’s look at the data.  Right here in your log.  What no log?  Well then how do you expect to answer the question?  There is no money in my checking account.  Let’s look at your bank statement.  No bank statement?  How do you expect to reconcile?  Rarely does the data lie.  Okay, I’ve NEVER seen the data lie.  That’s why I have to be like a scientist, constantly experimenting with what works to reveal the true me.

I have not graduated to calculating all of my calories but I have been seeing subtle changes in the way I think by just writing down the time of day, my hunger factor and the exact quantities of what I have been eating.  I don’t just say Olive Oil.  I say 2 tsps of olive oil and I mean exactly 2 tsps.  Not a flash of my hand.  I measure everything now.

I’ve also become more aware about setting up systems to support my existing lifestyle.  I once read a tip in the magazine.    A woman wrote in that she can’t get her husband to stop leaving his dirty socks on the floor and not walk over the six feet to put them in the hamper.  He leaves them in the same spot every day.  The response was brilliant.  Move the hamper to where he leaves the socks.  A real light bulb went off for me.  I spend so much time fighting with the way I wanted to live with the way I thought I SHOULD live.  That was another huge breakthrough for me.  No more SHOULDING all over myself.  Move the hamper and make your life easier.

I hate to grocery shop — it seems like such a huge waste of time.  I started ordering from Fresh Direct.  I started to make instant shopping lists.  I started making recipes that I liked and could do easily and fast.  I used WW meals to get me started.  I don’t use them now, but I still have two stuck in the freezer just knowing that in case of emergency I can resort to them before resorting to Pad Thai or some other form of take out.  I also broke shopping down into smaller tasks.  I don’t think of shopping for the entire week anymore.  I run into the store and buy 3 or 4 items and it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal.

Exercising the right muscles.  I learned a lot from the “Beck’s Diet Solution.”  One of the lines that stays with me is “every time you go off plan you are exercising the ‘give in muscle.'”  Likewise every time you cook a good meal and write it down, you are exercising the “take care of me” muscle.   Repetitive actions eventually yield results — good results or bad results depending upon the action.    There is muscle memory in our eating habits too.  When I fall off plan it’s amazing to me how quickly I can fall right back into old habits.  But repetition eventually pays off.  It’s like training for any endurance sport.  You can’t run 26.2 miles right away but if every week you keep plugging away at it, 3 miles, 4 miles, eventually running 20 miles, one day you wake up and find you can run and finish 26.2.  Yeah it might hurt a little, but most of life’s big challenges do.

Eating the right stuff.  I have worked hard on getting to the point where I don’t crave junk anymore.  I try as best I can to eat whole, natural, unprocessed foods.  But I also am trying to not be so strict that I’ll have a coronary if something unhealthy crosses my lips.  (OCD can be used for good and for bad purposes.)   My general rules of thumb: no artificial ingredients (if God didn’t make it, I don’t eat it), no partially hydrogenated anything, absolutely NEVER eat High Fructose Corn Syrup (the secret ingredient to unhealthing of  America.)  For me, for now, no dairy.  That seems to be working for me and I am feeling the positive effects.  I have also given up coffee but I’m not against an occasional cup of decaf and if I was in a situation where I chose to, I might indulge in a regular cup.   Limiting my alcohol to red wine and on non-training days which bascially means Sunday nights for me.  So far so good on that one. 

So that is my food manifesto to date.  It is most certainly a work in progress as am I.  But right it seems to have brought me to a good place.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it hard?  No, not really.  It just requires paying attention and caring about yourself.   If I start with those two things, everything else starts to fall into place.

Namaste

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2/18/08 Blink

Monday.  Okay I’m feeling a little something this morning.  Not pain but definitely feeling my muscles from yesterday’s bike ride.

It’s recovery week so Saturday was only an 1:30 run (yahoo, anything under 1:40 is a snap now so 1:30 was great!)  I took it to the westside path for a run through Riverside park.  Same ole run, felt good, was surprised to find that I made it to my turn around point in exactly the same time as I usually do 44:30.  Hmm, I thought I would have been faster but whatever.  I ran the whole time except for one second to jiggle my kneecaps because they were starting to hurt again but they rallied.

On the way back, where the path narrows as it runs alongside the highway, I jumped onto the sidewalk to finish out my run.  I hate to get crowded out by cyclists.  As I was merrily running along all of a sudden I found myself airbound.  I realized immediately that I had tripped over a ledge in a crack in the sidewalk.  I was falling forwards but I kept running and flailing my arms to try to regain my balance.  In an instant my mind went into overdrive.  Oh God, no, no, no!  All I could see was cement, tar or brick as my landing pad and my face was going right into it at a decent speed.  Not my face!  Not my face!  My thoughts started spinning in nanosecond revolutions.  Not again, Not my knees, try to find your balance, please don’t let me twist my ankle, what to do, what to do and then in a bright shining moment of clarity I actually yelled out loud “NOOOOO, MY SHOUUUUUULDDDEERrrrrrr.”  And then I went down.  Crash.  Arms first so my hands took a lot but my left knee felt it too.  But I didn’t fall on to my shoulder.  Really nice guy in a van must have seen the whole thing (I was running right alongside the highway at 46th street).  He slowed down to a stop and made sure I was okay — I got up and waived him on.

I did a little inspection.  Right hand took most of it (my glove ripped) but my shoulder was okay.  I started to run a little and then realized my left pant leg was sticking to my knee.  Ewww, that’s probably not good.  I rolled up my pant leg and saw it my left knee was scraped and cut.  My poor left knee, fill with scars from childhood surgery and scars from Lake Placid  now this.  What an ugly mess.  Oh well it’s still functioning.  When I got home I found a lovely huge bruise on my right elbow.  Oh well it will heal.

The whole thing happened in a second.  A blink of the eye.  Made me think of that book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell.  He talks about our adaptive unconscious that can make snap decisions.  Some people think it is gut reaction, some call it a sixth sense, some call it instinct but he maintains that our mind can process so much information at the unconscious level and make instantaneous decisions that can change our lives.  We can tell right away if we like someone or if they are dangerous or honest.  We can process thousands of tiny pieces of data and make these judgements (not necessarily always right mind you) in the blink of an eye.  I had a glimpse of my own adaptive unconscious in action right as I was going down.  I saw the details of the brick, the cracks in the sidewalk, was able to do an inventory of my body and I hope that’s what led me to land on my left knee and not my right shoulder all in the time it would take to.. well, blink.  I go for runs on that stretch often.  I never even noticed there were crags in the sidewalk.  Suddenly they seemed huge to me and running there seemed nothing short of idiotic….

Except for some minor scrapes and bruises I’m fine.  Of course I couldn’t help but think how precarious and precious life is.  As I learned this summer, in a second  — blink — all of your plans can change.  For that reason alone it is important to savor every minute, every second — you never know.  If you don’t like how your life is going, change it now because who knows what tomorrow brings.  If you don’t like what you are doing, do something else because I for one am not going to leave this world with a big list of shouldas, couldas and wouldas.  I think that is definitely one of the reasons I like Ironman training.  I may hurt, I may suffer, I may go through a lot of mental struggles but the bottom line is it makes me feel alive and I enjoy the process of training. 

We did a group ride yesterday.  I have to start paying attention to what groups I head out with — some of these kids are just too hard core for me.  As nice as they are I think I’m too old to hang with them, lol.  I was minding my own business, heading out to do a nice 18 mile time trial on 9W (one of the options on the weekend workout) and specifically avoid the hills (again as optioned on the workout).   Total ride to be 3-3:30 hours so I figured I would ride from my apartment, do the time trial, head home and pat myself on the back for a nice easy weekend.  Our coaches specifically said they did NOT recommend going out on Rt 5 because it might be hilly and icy.  So I show up with my plan and then next thing I know everyone is second guessing the plan (to be fair including me, I was up for a ride to Nyack though I couldn’t talk anyone into coffee…)  Geesh my group last year was muuuuch easier to sway…. lol  These people want to stop and do pushups alongside the road (not really, but I bet they would if I challenged them to it.)

I innocently suggest that we go through Piermont to get to Nyack.  I meant just ride to Nyack the way we always go (thinking the smell of fresh brewed coffee might lure them into a bake shop).  Then, all of a sudden someone says, “hey are we doing Ash road?”  Gulp, that’s the really steep road I haven’t done yet.  But not one to wimp out (and it’s been bugging me that I haven’t done it).  I agree.  One of the guys tells me to get into my easiest gear before we turn the corner.   We turn the corner and I see the hill.  I didn’t freak out.  In fact it looked short.  Oh I can get up THAT.  Sure it’s steep but it’s so short.  I take about three pedal strokes and I stand up to climb the hill.  (Remember I’m not a great standing climber.)  Again it’s very short and I’m just about at the top and I think Oh Man I have got to sit down to finish this out.  In a blink of an eye I made a huge mistake.  I sat down and tried to push on my pedals and they wouldn’t move.  Frozen.  I was stuck.  I had one nano second before I was going to fall over and I unclipped and put my foot down.  I was off.  Chapstick.  Fortunately there was a little driveway right there that I could pull into, get back on and keep going.  Darn, if I had just stayed seated until near the top and THEN stood I bet I could have made it.    Oh well…

The road kept winding up but nothing undoable and then we got to a stop sign.  My friend Rob kept waiting for me at each turn (I had no idea where I was going and the rest of the little billy goats were long gone up the hills).  He pointed to where that the rest of them had gone on to do Rt 5.   Rt 5?  When did that happen?  Where’s my time trial?  Where’s my coffee?  Where are my NO HILLS?!?!  I had one second to make a decision because I saw the last of the group heading up a hill and if I lost them I would be lost.  I blinked and said “I better go with them.”  Why the heck did I say that? 

I think the very first hill was the same hill we did last year (which I made it up) but I wasn’t ready for it so I was forced to unclip again.  I was a little disoriented.  Another gal went down in the mud.  Oh this is going to be fun I could tell.  Again I found a little smidge of flat that let me get back on my bike and keep climbing.   The two of us regrouped and continued out on Rt 5. 

I had done the first part of Rt 5 last year but I never made it all the way to the turnaround because I had a flat.  I knew it was hilly and really the hills were not the make-me-cry hills like Mohonk or anything but it was certainly tough enough that I kept muttering “I was just going to be doing a nice 18 mile FLAT timetrial.   I LIKE flat timetrials.  I would have stopped for coffee if someone wanted to.  What the heck am I doing out here?!?!”    After endless ups and downs, I finally saw the rest of the group coming back towards me.  “It’s just to the stop sign you’re almost there.”   Yeah, nice.  They failed to mention that the stop sign was at the BOTTOM of a mountain.  I was going down the whole time think sassafrassalocous I have to climb back up this thing.  I was muttering.  I reached the other gal at the stop sign and followed her back up the mountain.  She is one of the fastest climbers on our team.  I am, without a doubt, the slowest.

And then I saw the group coming back toward me.  You have to be kidding me.  They are doing REPEATS of this hill?  Blink.  I’m sorry.  Who are these people?  No freakin’ way.  I just wanted to be done with this already.  I was looking at my water bottles.  One was finished and I had started on the second.  Did I have enough to get home?  I had done half concentrate of my formula because after all I was supposed to be doing a FLAT 18 MILE TIME TRIAL!!!  Not doing a trek in Nepal!  Now I just wanted to get home.  I told the last gal, I’m NOT doing repeats, bye.  She yells out “I’m only going until I reach the group again and then turning around.”  Yeah, good, you do that, see ya later.  I took off for home.

I definitely did not feel a need to go back down Ash road.   Even so, I had to walk down the steep portion of the hill that leads back out onto rt 9W.    It was only 10 yards but I just didn’t want to fall over and hurt myself.  Finally out on 9W I just tried to book it home as fast as I could.  But first I had to climb freakin’ State line hill (that’s the one the coaches said we didn’t have to do if we did a FLAT 18 MILE TIME TRIAL).   But a funny thing happened.  It didn’t seem that hard.  And in a blink of an eye I thought, hey, I wonder if I can get up this thing without leaving my middle chain ring (I was riding Sylvia and I always go into my little chain ring and by the top I’m usually in the easiest gear).  And I did it.  Wow, I guess everything is relative.  When I first did State Line hill with Steph back in 2003, I shook on that hill just like I shook on Ash Road yesterday.  I honestly didn’t think I could make it up and Steph had to talk me through the whole thing.  And now a mere 5 years later, lol, I’m going up it in my middle chain ring.  And it is no big deal. 

Okay, I’m nowhere near as fast as those other people on my team, but for me, not a bad workout.  I’ll take it and appreciate that I can be 48 years old riding my bike and having a good time.  And really, even though it was a tougher workout than I had planned, I did it and I’m not crippled and I was actually even okay when I got home (4 hours later).  I didn’t crumble into a heap and didn’t have to sleep away the afternoon.  So for that I’m grateful  because in a blink everything could change.

Namaste 

There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”
Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, 2005

[side note:  lot’s of comments on my running shoes from the Bronx pix.  Yes, they are the Newton Running Shoes.  No, I did not get them because they match the Trilife uniforms.  Yes, I think I like them (I have done a couple of PR’s so who am I to complain).  Yes, they are expensive but they are very light and they force me to run on my midfoot.   www.newtonrunning.com]

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