Monthly Archives: June 2008

6/26/08 Off The Bell Curve

Thursday.  Whoosh.  See that?  That was this week slipping by.  Crazy fast. 

Tuesday I had an interesting test taken up at NISMAT (Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma).  They were looking for female cyclists who ride over 100 miles a week (isn’t that cool that I would even be considered for such a thing?)  They are doing some kind of research project and I volunteered to be tested.  I don’t really know all the details of what they are studying (might they be interested in my third eye?) but all I had to do on Tuesday was ride my bike for about 12 minutes while they stuck a snorkel thing in my mouth and plugged up my nose.  It’s called a VO2 max test.  I had to keep pedalling at 90 rpm while they kept increasing the effort (watts).  Apparently I’m very fit (but I have a feeling they say that to everyone — I mean c’mon they only test people who ride their bikes over 100 miles a week.  I have to be the least fit of the fit.) 

The good news is that the tester answered my never-ending question about my always-low heartrate.  She said that is normal — for me.  She also said that it is okay for me to ignore all those generalized heart rate formulae because they won’t apply to me.  My first threshold (wish I had written down what she said it was called) but it is the point where your lactic acid starts to spike is 109.  That’s my long-biking endurance range.  Not race pace, but I can go all day pace.  Frankly I think that is a little low.  I would say my long-biking endurance range is 120.  That’s the second number she gave me. (Although if you told me to just hunker down and spin for 2 hours at a comfortable yet get-somewhere pace 109 would be right.)  I’ll get more details when I go back for the longer test after Ironman. (That’s when I do 2 hours). For now, I’m happy to know that it is not just my imagination that my heartrate doesn’t climb like everyone else’s.  (Heck, it doesn’t even start out like everyone else’s.)   What a shock, I’m off the bell curve…. again!!!

It so apparent to me in training that I’m just not like everyone else.  When they go fast, I go slow.  What is easy for them is hard for me and vice versa all around.

Tuesday night I joined up with the team (well, let’s just say we co-existed in the park during the same time).  We had team pictures and then a couple loops of the reservoir with a few short intervals in there.  I only did 1 loop and then ran back and forth on the bridle path until the team was done.  That way I could meet them for the stretch.  I felt pretty good.  No aches, no pains, but ready to do a half Ironman?  I could use a little more down time.

Yeah down time, that would have been a good idea.  Then I got a call to play some doubles.  Hmmmm…. It sounded easy enough — doubles, I can play doubles in my sleep.  I totally forgot how those hard courts feel after bouncing on them for an hour and half.  It’s been several months since I hit the courts.  I’m sure it wasn’t just the tennis but I was trying really hard to focus on the ball which means my feet had to do that little cat-paw thing and even though I was not all out running like singles, it was a lot of little, lateral steps.  It wasn’t so much that I was tired it was more like this morning my hamstrings on the bike were mumbling “yeah, thanks a lot for that.”  Of course I was missing every other ball and my serve was just horrific.  But what can I expect?  What you put in is what you get out.  You eat a box of donuts, you gain 2 pounds.  You don’t practice your serve for 18 months and you don’t have a serve anymore.  Patience, all in good time.

This morning we had bike practice.  Wasn’t as fun for me this morning because the coach kept making me start the intervals from a dead stop at the bottom of the hills and chase everyone.  Well how do you expect me catch everyone if you give them a headstart AND I can’t start with any momentum.  It wasn’t a bad workout but it wasn’t as fun as going neck to neck with my rabbits who started so far in front of me.  They had fun racing each other and I was left behind!  Pooh.  Unfortunately I’m quite sure that was exactly what my coach wanted to have happen and that ticks me off even more that I couldn’t foil the attempts to foil me.  Doesn’t that make any sense?  Forget it, I’m off the bell curve.

But I got a great tip out of today’s practice.  No big secret that I struggle on the hills.  My coach gave me a little tip to “load up” (or was that “load down” I dunno something with load in it) on my aerobars as I was going up a hill.   Basically I’m to curl my hands under the aerobars and kind of press into it the bars and spin, spin, spin my legs.   I hate to say that it kind of worked.  It was almost like pulling myself up and forward.  I have to practice it but he might be onto something there.  Maybe I’m just sitting too darn far back?  Creating a center of gravity behind my saddle and dragging my butt up the hill?  Or is it that you are engaging more of your core if you are pulling up and forward….  Hmmm….  Might make me mad to think that all I had to do was move my butt forward a couple of inches………..

Over the last couple of days I’ve received several SOS emails from various friends who are, like me, struggling with weight, points, food, life, whatever.  I always find it amazing that we reach out to one another in waves.  It’s not one friend, it’s three or four.  I definitely think there is something seasonal or cyclical to motivation.  Saturday night was the first day of summer, shortest night.  Hmmm…  maybe there is something to the phase of the moon, the change in temperature, the draw of the Karaoke bar.  

I’m sure I’m not qualified to give advice to people when the going gets tough — I am simply one of  many struggling soldiers.  I’m a huge proponent of setting up systems that support our momentum instead of fighting the tides (move the hamper).  But sometimes you can know all the right things to do and put all the right systems in place but despite your best efforts you find yourself cuddled up with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.  It may not even be food.  It may be that nothing but a pair of out-of-your-budget shoes are your craving.  The craving is trying to answer a void.  I know, I know, we want it to really to be about the Ben and Jerry’s or the Reuben or the Pizza or the the Margarita or even about our own lack of will power — but it’s not.  And sometimes we just can’t figure out what it is.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we try we just can’t get up that hill.  And so, sometimes we have to wrap our hands around the handlebars and just when we think we don’t have anything else to give, grab on tight, pull up, “load into it” and pedal just a little faster.  We will get to the top of the hill and there will be a different perspective at the top.  It’s not any easier, but the view is clearer.  As a good friend of mine says sometimes we just have to “work harder.”

We are tougher than that pesky little burrito, pile of bills, deadline, margarita on the rocks with salt, bowl of pasta, cheese doodles, Manolo Blahniks…..


Focus forward. Failure is not an option.

Some interesting articles here:

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6/23/08 Some things Never Change (26 days and counting)

Monday.  I was very excited about this past weekend because my training was done early and I actually had a Saturday night that I could go out and socialize.  I tested the rubber band theory — the farther you pull something in one direction, the harder it will snap in the other.

Started with a swim and a run out at Coney Island on Saturday.  Swim was different from last year when I got caught in the current and had to fight my way back in.  This year we stayed in a more contained area and we swam back and forth.  I was working on my new obsession — trying to learn to hold the water and focus on swimming past my hold instead of pulling.  It’s a subtle difference but I know I don’t do it right.  (Or it is just another distraction?)  I don’t have it yet and I think my kick (or lack thereof) is stopping me from getting enough push.  This will be a lifelong journey, not worried about it for Ironman, just something I want to polish.

After our 1 hour swim we did a 1 hour 30 minute run.  We were to practice 10 minute run 1 minute walk.  I finally ran on the Coney Island boardwalk without tripping!!  Every year I run on that stupid boardwalk I hit a plank or nail or something and go flying.   I ran about 30 minutes warm-up,  40 minutes picked it up while on the path towards the Verazzano bridge, then 20 minutes cool-down (back on the boardwalk).  I didn’t feel much afterwards and that bugged me.  I always think that if it doesn’t hurt I didn’t do it right.  Others seem to disagree with me — they think the fact that I don’t hurt is a good thing — like I’m getting stronger.  I don’t know.  Part of me thinks I’m stronger so I should push harder and it should still hurt.  I have a great opportunity on June 30th to make it hurt when I go up to do the Tupper Lake Half Ironman.

So after the swim/run I was “free.”  I had done my bike on Friday and Sunday I had to go to a memorial.  So that left me with a Saturday night free.   Really free, didn’t have to be in bed by 9, didn’t have to get up at 5 a.m. and swim, bike or run.  What to do, what to do?  I learned a big lesson this weekend.  People change but people stay the same.  I started out innocently enough at a summer solstice party.  But before I know it it is 2 a.m. in a Kareoke bar….  How did I get there?  Oh yeah, I took the M train — the one that floats in from Margaritaville.  One day I’m eating quinoa & black beans and riding 100 miles on my bike. The next day I’m demonstrating how to make a perfect margarita and hitting not one, not two but three different bars after a party.  One step forward, three steps back.  We had fun though.  Work hard party hard.  I guess like my workouts I don’t think I’ve done it right if it doesn’t hurt.

This week is recovery week.  Time to rest up (detox).  I took a nice walk down to the river and stretched for a half hour this morning.  Time for me to get ready for Tupper Lake Half Ironman on Sunday.  Put my athlete hat back on and put Party Patty to rest.  Of course now I’m worried what kind of damage I will do to myself after training is over.  I was going to train for the marathon casually — just do it for fun.  Now I think I have to train harder for it — keep me on the straight and narrow.  And I think I need to line up a couple more events to keep me working hard.  Obviously I can’t be trusted…


According to this article in the NYTimes

Fit people accustomed to a sport might not be sore, even after a tough session, said Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopedics professor at the University of Pittsburgh, but “their heart still gets a workout and they improve.”


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6/20/08 The Last 100 Miles

Friday.  About to wrap up the weekend and I’m feeling pretty good (minus a few details.)  No WW meeting today.  Just as well, was a little hormonal this week and eating way too much.  This weekend will be good to get back in balance.  I will go to meeting on Thursday this week so I won’t miss two weeks in a row.  Will discuss importance of meetings later.

Had acupuncture yesterday.   Weird.  Nothing hurt.  It felt strange to say to Mark, well our strategy of preventive medicine seems to be working.  Nary a out-of-sort muscle in my body.  Worked a little on my left knee and he poked and prodded some other spots.  I think keeping up with regular appointments has been a very good thing.  Better to catch it early than later.  I’m pleased with how I feel.

Thursday a.m. we had our last interval session.  Oh so sad.  But we ended on a high note.  Last week I did it all wrong.  Went out too hard on the first one and kept adding 15 seconds to each subsequent interval.  The goal was to get faster, not slower.  This week I held back a lot on interval 1 and really treated it like an extended warmup.  While in a slightly harder gear, I concentrated on feeling the full pedal stroke.  Everybody passed me.  I was okay (not like competive me) — content to stay in my zone.  I noticed rabbit was letting everyone pass her too so I knew she was applying the same strategy that I was.  Interval 1 – 13:30 (72nd St – 72nd St).  Loop 2 I dropped it into optimal race gearing (a little easier gear a little higher rpm).  Time dropped to 12:40 for the same interval.  Was annoyed to find two gals who started behind me caught me.  Rabbit was at my heels the whole way.  Loop 3, I let it rip.  Fought off rabbit on first two hills but she caught me on the third (darn!)  Reclaimed my space on the final downhill giving it everything I had.  12:15 and was happy with it.  I negative split all three loops — mission accomplished!  Then we did a nice quick pace-line for the last loop and it was fun.  Nobody dropped, nobody out of line, everyone keeping up — what a nice way to end our last interval session.  We all patted ourselves on the back excellent workout.

This morning Jac and I set out at 7 a.m. to do our 100 mile ride.  Unfortuantely I was faced with a lovely flat tire and delayed our start by AN HOUR!!!  I had a hard time getting my tire off.  It was the first time taking this tire off and I actually broke a tire lever trying to budge the thing.  Note to self — practice taking the tires off a couple of times before the race to get them loosened up a bit.  New tires are tight.  I was convinced it was just going to be one of those nightmare days where everything goes wrong.  As it turns out I was wrong!!  We had a lovely ride and did 100 miles with nary a blink!  (Okay my final mileage was only 98 but who’s counting?)

We rode up to Bear Mountain and back.  No mechanical difficulties.  We stopped a couple of times for bathroom breaks and refueling, but other than that no muss, no fuss, no drama.  I have been very blessed to have Jac to ride with this season (and Ally my other rabbit).  I think I hold her back a bit but I don’t think it’s hours, maybe just minutes.  It’s usually after a hill, I finally make it to the top and think I’ll see her but she is a mile ahead.  Eventually she slows down and lets me catch up and then we are back in synch.

Things I was suprised about. 

  • I did my nutrition right.  No problems with calories (though I was hungry when I go home).  
  • My new bike seat is great.  No discomfort at all after the ride. 
  • Some hills are smaller than I remember (the hill on 9W up to bear mountain park).  Some hills seemed tougher (Rockland Hill seemed a lot longer this time).
  • Time flew!  Although we were gone for 7:45 door to door, I think actual riding time was probably more like 7:15 when you subtract – runcible stop, bear mountain stop, hotdog cart stop, deli stop, bakery stop.  (We didn’t eat at any of those places, just used bathrooms or bought water.)  And we were not going race pace, we were going nice-spin-in-the-park pace.   We both felt we could have gone harder (and problably would have felt it too!)

Jac made an interesting observation.  With our 103 miles last Saturday plus the mileage from last Sunday (I estimate 30 miles) plus Thursday (25) plus today (98), I rode my bike 256 miles in the last 7 days.  And it felt like NOTHING!  That’s weird.  Today I felt fine right up to the end.  Nothing hurt, nothing cramping, no headaches — could keep on going.  That’s just weird.

I was sad on our ride down Riverside to realize that this was our last 100 miler that we would be doing together.  Next weekend we are in Tupper Lake, then Jac heads off to her Ironman in Switzerland, I go off to some shorter taper distances and then before I know it it will be July 20th in Lake Placid.    We’ve had a long season but a good season.  I’ve been very lucky to have some great training partners.  I won’t be chasing Ally around the park any more and I won’t be meeting Jac for our ridiculously early rides (or exclaiming “how happy are we to be done before everyone else” a million times on Riverside drive.)  Our last long ride, done.  Kind of sad.  Kind of weird.  How did it happen that one day we were riding 40 milers and now we are popping off 100 without a blink?  Sometime in the last 9 months it just kind of snuck up on us.  Oh my goodness, I think we are ready to become Ironpeople.


Picture of Jac, Me and Ally.  End of an Era!


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6/18/08 Tippy Toes — 31 days to IM

Wednesday.  Caution.  The following material may be graphic so don’t read if you have a squeamish stomach.

Well this is a bummer.  I’ve lost my big toenail (or most of it) so I’m not able to do much.  My toe is gross.  It hurts.  Looks bad, feels bad.  Huge blister where the toenail was.  I think it got initially cracked in St. Croix and I’ve been trying desperately to make it hang on but Sunday’s run did it in.  Just as well, if the rest of it falls off now it will be fine for Ironman.

Couldn’t go to the pool yesterday with open sore on my toe.  Couldn’t run today (I did manage to get my running shoes on and get down to the running path but two feet into the run I knew I couldn’t do it without bleeding through my shoes so I turned it into a walk to the grocery store.

All in all I’m okay with it though.  I used yesterday as bike repair day.  I finally got a new saddle.  I don’t know what I was holding out for.  I loved my saddle and was afraid if I got a new one I would have problems.  But my saddle was ripped and falling apart and starting to give me blisters from loose leather chafing.  Got new saddle (exact same one — Specialized Dolce Gel — love it.)  And I stopped to get my brakes fixed, my gears tweaked, new cleats put on my old shoes (I wear through my left cleat so fast it is ridiculous) and new cleats for my new shoes too.  I even fixed the handlebar tape that was steadily peeling.  Got extra inner tubes and sportsbeans.  So although I am a mess, Tina is looking good.  She’ll go in for a full wash/cut and blow-dry before Lake Placid. 

My plan is to wrap up my toe to bike with the team tomorrow morning and do my 100 mile bike on Friday.  By Saturday my toe should be healed enough to put up with the 1 hour swim at Coney Island (salt water will either help me or cause it to bleed and attract the sharks!) and  then we’ll do a 1.5 hour run.   If that goes okay, I’ll put in another shortish 1.5 hour run on Sunday.  I think for me right now it is just about maintaining.  I don’t think I’m going to get much stronger or fitter in the next 31 days.  I just want my toe to be healed and to be in racing condition.  I also don’t want to lose any fitness.   Just trying to keep everything in good condition.  I have acupuncture tomorrow for some knee tweaking.

If I could have my wish it would be for my toe to be better and Ironman to be next weekend instead of Tupper Lake.   Enough already, I’m ready, I’m ready!!  I feel like I have been training for a hundred years!!!  Nothing magical is going to happen in the next 3 weeks that is going to make me any fitter or faster so let’s just get it over with already!!!    I actually don’t mind the training — it’s the anxiety I can’t take any more.  I’m so sick of worrying about this stupid race.  I mean really, I have plenty of other stuff to worry about! 

I’ve been overeating due to some general stress with work and life.  Fortunately, I don’t have any trigger foods in my house so I’ve been overeating with fruit but nonetheless I’ve been aware of what I’ve been doing and I’m trying to nip it in the bud.  I’m trying to keep everything under control but part of me has been feeling – c’mon just get through these races and then I’ll get back on track.  But that’s 31 days.  I could be up 4-6 pounds or down another 4-6 pounds in 31 days — I prefer the down.  I’m fighting back by stocking my fridge with tons of good-for-me foods.  Last week I lost 1/2 pound by making a huge batch of gazpacho.  You can eat a lot of gazpacho without gaining weight.  So I think I’ll just keep doing that until I get through the summer.  Either I will have lost weight or turned into a tomato.

Trying to stay focused.  Just 31 days, just 31 days, one day at a time….    31 days seems like both forever and tomorrow.


Although I missed my swim on Tuesday, I read this article and it really resonated with me.


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6/16/08 Keep on Going

Monday.  Bit of a lag on blog updates.  I’ve been doing them in my head but that won’t do me much good later when I need to look back on what the heck was going on.  How would I sum up last week?  Kind of a slow momentum week ending with a big boom.

Last week’s heat wave took a bit out of me. 

On Tuesday I did 3 loops in the park early a.m. and that went okay.  My lap splits were in the 18:30’s and I was okay with that.  Tired.

Wednesday I did a very pathetic run.  I ran up to the track on 72nd and riverside and tried to do the speedwork assigned.  I got about half of it done in half the increments.  We were supposed to do 400’s then 200’s — I was only able to do five sets of 200 on followed by 400 recovery — I had no endurance whatsoever — still felt zapped by the heat.   But the run home was little better.  Good reminder to myself to just keep plugging away eventually something will click (or not, lol).

Thursday.  I did the a.m. bike workout with the team — intervals again, went out too hard on the first one and paid for it on the next two.  I kept adding 15 seconds to each interval — not the goal.  Then I did my swim workout from Wednesday.  That was a mistake.  Lot’s of kicking.  By Thursday p.m. my calves were killing me.  I think I over massaged them — they really hurt.

Friday I did a short swim 30 minutes.  Nothing great.

WW I was down 1/2 a pound.  Okay but nothing fantastic.  Still another pound to get back to the weight I gained over memorial day.  This past weekend’s activity will probably help with that.

This weekend might have been my most insightful workout weekend.  I can’t say the most important because I really understand that Ironman training is a cumulative effect and no one workout is better or more important.  But this weekend I felt my improved strength and I experienced a greater confidence which in the end I think was important. 

On Saturday we had a big ride.  I headed out at 5 a.m. to meet Jac over the GWB at 5:45.  We had a lovely ride up to Rockland lake — nobody on the roads.  No cars, no cyclists (until we started to spot our teammates).  I was struck by how much nicer it is to ride in the quiet without cars honking and zooming past me at 900 mph.  I wasn’t zipping up the hills but I wasn’t crying either. 

When we returned from Rockland lake to Ranger station we were to start six intervals of 20 minutes out and back.  Goal was to do race rpms and to keep our heartrates within 5 beats on the flatsfvs downhills.   I totally blew the first interval by going out too fast (trying to keep up with everyone and then had nothing for the return).  On the return hills my heartrate was a full 10 beats higher and my heartrate was too high to begin with.  (I had finally positioned my heart rate monitor on my bike handle so I could measure it).  I couldn’t possibly maintain that for 1 hour 20.

The next 4 (I only did 5 in total not the 6) I got it right.  I took just a little off my pace.  I still kept it at 95-100 rpms and got my heart rate to stay within 5 beats.  It was 130 on the flats and 135 on the hills (that’s a little lower than my  heartrate for running  but for biking that’s a good even heartrate for me.)  I felt I was very even and really giving it a good effort.  Unfortuntately once again my splits kept getting longer and longer 15 seconds almost exactly to each leg but I figured I can’t do everything perfectly.  I was happy to maintain a high cadence and and keep my heart rate in check. 

Although my first interval was kind of lame (really tanked on the way back), my subsequent intervals were pretty good.  I really felt I found MY pace — not trying to keep up with anyone, just trying to work my best effort.  I was actually shocked to find that 50+ miles (and several large hills) into the workout I still had a little something extra to give.  I was surprised and encouraged by that.  Wow, maybe I won’t totally stink up the bike afterall.   Amazing what proper nutrition will do for you.  I felt strong all the way home — a real confidence builder.  More so than my long rides in Lake Placid because there was so much mental stuff going on up there.  This was just me, my bike and the road learning to stay within myself.

We stopped at 5 intervals because our mileage was already in the high 80’s and we still had to get home.  (Assignment was to keep it between 80-90). 

On the way home we stopped in central park to cheer on the marathon coach who was doing 41 loops of the northern hills to celebrate his 41st bday (I want to faint just thinking about it.)  We were so close to 100 miles we figured we would do a couple of Northern Loops.  Very funny, as we passed him running we said “don’t think we’re lazy, we already put in 96 miles!”  He yelled back “yeah, I know you are just out here to make the 100 miles.”  We had to laugh because we were totally busted!  103 by the time we got home but who’s counting?  lol

I had a birthday party to go to on Saturday night.   Was very nervous because I knew I had to do a 2 hour bike and an 18 mile run in the morning.  I think the Gods were testing me.  I forgot to renew the registration on my car so I couldn’t drive.  We got a taxi driver who didn’t know his way around.  Torrential downpours so it was almost impossible to see through the dashboard.  By the time we arrived it was 7 p.m. (my planned DEPARTURE time).  By the time I got home it was 9:30 and by the time I got to sleep it was 10.  I was already running tired so getting up at 4 to get ready for the big day was going to be tough.  When I got up I knew I could have used another 4 hours of sleep.  My body was tired, but off to meet my teammates I went.

We dropped stuff at a teammate’s apartment near the park.  I was on my bike riding at 5:30 a.m.  2 hours.  Groan.  I was not moving.  I was in my easiest chainring and feeling every bit of every stroke.  All of my big muscles were shouting profanities at me.  If my calves were not happy, my quads and gluteswere furious.  First two loops were slower than slow.  I just let everyone go ahead of me, I wasn’t even going to pretend to keep up.  I only did Harlem hill once. The next 5 billion times around the 5 mile loop were just plain slow.  I don’t even know how many times I went around but it felt like an uncountable number (probably 5, lol).  Finally finished at 7:30 and did transition at the apartment for my, gasp, 18 mile run.

I really, really wanted to do a good job on this run, but I was so tired I was worried that I might not be able to start never mind finish.  It was very, very important to me to get this under my belt.  I had been thinking about it all week.  I’ve done some long runs but I can’t be sure of the exact mileage — even at camp, I ran here, there, around the lake, back and forth, I put in a lot of miles.  I didn’t have a documented 18 mile run in my log.  I can’t say I haven’t run 17 but nothing documented.  This was my chance to do it.

I did a couple of things right.  First I didn’t join in the 5 mile race that was going on.  I didn’t want to be distracted by false starts and finishes.  I just wanted to do my own run andhave my mileage be exact.  I carried my own water bottles with Infinit plus extra powder to make more.  I ran opposite of the race.  I opted to skip Harlem Hill and do three five-mile loops plus two lower loops of the park so I could use the mile markers from the race to keep track of my pace.  Ehhh… my pace wasn’t that good.  First mile was a 13:30 andI could barely do that.   I was just bone  tired.  I needed more sleep.  But I just kept trying to chip away mile by mile at my speed until I got it down to the 12’s.  I ran the first 15 miles with three stops, one to stretch my calves, once to buy cold water and once to go the bathroom.  But other than that, running — or whatever you want to call it.  On miles 10-15 I tried to pick it up a little and do the same thing I had done in the previous days intervals — keep the cadence high and monitor my heartrate on the flats andhills.  Once again I was surprised to findI had something left to give.  (You are stronger than you think Pooh!)  There were no fast minute miles in there but a couple of miles I found my self back into a high 11 and a low 12 and that was good enough for me.  (Okay they were downhill but who’s counting?)

The last 3.4 (the two repeats of the lower loop) were what this workout was all about for me.  Yes I walked some of it, but I tried to be strategic and limit it to 1 min walks and only on the uphills.  Honestly, it really wasn’t my body so much as my mind.  I was just so bored of the park and this running thing and I had my mp3 player going and I think that now annoys me more than help me?  I think the music stops me from entering that zone — that place where I can just run.  Then the negotiations started.   That was a critical moment for me.   Evil twin, showed up just as I finished my 3rd loop and reached 15 miles.

Oh c’mon, everyone is waiting for you back at the apartment, they are all done, just do one lower loop.  16.7 is good enough — that’s so close to 18, who’s really counting?

“I am!  I really want to prove I can do 18.  I really don’t want to walk away from this weekend after ALL I have gone through and STILL not have 18 miles under my belt.”

Your toenail is coming off.  Don’t you feel it moving around?  That’s your old tennis toenail — now it is going to be black and blue and no sandals for the summer for you.  If you stop now you might be able to salvage it.

I am doing 18 miles if I have to crawl and wear boots for the rest of the summer.  Go away.  Go away.  Go away.”

Nobody is going to know.  You know you could do another mile — you don’t have to prove it.  What is the big freaking deal?  You are walking every 4 minutes anyway — just walk home and count that.

“I will run as much as I can.  If you would shut up I could concentrate and finish this out!”

Look, it’s not too late, you can cut through right here at Poet’s walk.  That’ll be at least 17 miles.

“Shut up, Shut up, Shut up!” 

I kept trying to tell myself smell the barn, smell the barn.  Finish strong.  Then I was doing little sprints and exhausting myself so I’d have to walk. I think was trying to run away from the little voice.  Finally I hit Tavern on the Green which was all downhill and I just ran as fast as I could to the 7th avenue exit and declared myself done!!!  18.4 — semi-ugly miles but completed.  They may not have been pretty miles but I did them while I was utterly exhausted on very tired legs AND, AND I had forgotten to take my Tylenol!!  That worried me very much, but I made it through.  Yes a little knee scraping but my knees have really been holding up.  I’ve been going regularly to acupuncture and I really feel it has been helping (as well as losing weight and constant massaging.)

I have no delusions that my marathon during Ironman will be faster than 6 hours but I am confident that I will be able to fight off that stupid little demon in my head because when push comes to shove — I can out run her.   Which, in itself,  is pretty pathetic, if I can out run my own inner demon, how tough can she be?


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6/9/08 Level Zero

Monday.  Hot, hot, hot weekend.  Ugh.  Saturday we had 6 a.m. swim and I was sorry to discover that I have acquired a weird hitch in my swim stroke that was probably developed to compensate for my injury.  Now I have 8 weeks to get rid of it.  After that we headed out to hot 9W for a hot 3 1/2 hour bike and a hot 2 1/2 hour run.  Did I mention it was hot?  I was getting nauseous on the run and I had to ask myself what was I ever thinking when I said I was considering running aross the Sahara in 120 degree heat?  I couldn’t make it 2 miles toward the Jersey line on 9w without experiencing the stomach flips. 

One good thing I relearned was that, like in St. Croix, it is possible to get a second wind even after the sun has soaked every bit of energy out of you.  I stopped in the ranger station and ran my head under the faucet for a couple of minutes.  Then I headed down a shadier road and the last 1/2 hour wasn’t that miserable.  The preceding 5 1/2 hours… well they were just gross.

Sunday we had to do an easy 40 mile spin.  It still cracks me up to think I can consider 40 miles an easy spin.  The idea of going back out to 9W was enough to make me choke so I did the unthinkable — I got to the park at 6 a.m. and proceeded to do 6 loops of the park.  We were supposed to keep it to a flattish surface but I was willing to do Harlem Hill 6 times to avoid having to even look at 9W again.  I was joined by a teammate for the last 3 loops and the chatting made fly by.

I am feeling very guilty that I am not in pain this morning.  I feel like I should hurt more after these weekends — like I should be walking around crippled or something.  I remember last year I hurt a lot more afterwards.  Am I not working hard enough or am I just getting stronger?  I’m not sure what the honest answer is.  It was hard to work harder on the run — I kept wanting to throw up so I had to keep stopping to walk.  I feel like I haven’t had a stellar long run yet.  The good news is this weekend I have another opportunity for a long run and to hurt.  Maybe I’ll never have a stellar long-run and this is it.

This coming weekend looks like it is going to be a bone crusher.  On Saturday we do an 80-90 mile bike with some fast efforts in there.  No problem with that.  Sunday we do a 2 hour bike followed by an 18-21 mile run.  Gulp, okay, that sounds hard.  I will do 3 loops of the park and just see how I do.  Then in the afternoon we have a 1 mile swim in the Hudson River in the Park to Park.  It will be a very long day.  If I don’t hurt next Monday I’ll know something is wrong with me.

Why do I feel delayed onset muscle soreness is a requirement to prove I’ve worked hard?  I’ve been stretching and soaking in cold water after my runs.  I’ve been using my massager.  Maybe all of that has been relieving the soreness?   I forgot to take 2 Tylenol this weekend before my run and I freaked out a little knowing there would be no way I could run 2 1/2 hours unmedicated.  Interesting, I felt no pain whatsoever — I even ran down Ranger Station hill twice (okay I had to walk back up most of it, but running down is usually what kills me.)  Maybe I’m getting stronger?  Maybe I’m just learning to avoid the pain by working around the difficult parts?  That worries me.

Sunday afternoon a bunch of us went to go see Kung Fu Panda.  I loved the movie.  Loved it.  Funny, sweet, motivating, “inspirational” even.  At one point during the movie my friend turned to me and said “oh I feel your blog coming on.”  lol, so true.  There were so many good lines in the movie but the one that struck my spiritual tuning fork was “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.”  You know I ate that up with a big pair of panda paws.

“One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.”   You can run but you cannot hide from your destiny.  For me destiny is not so much about where you are supposed to physically end up as much as where you are supposed to spiritually end up.  You can’t run from what you have been put on this planet to learn.  I believe that.  Oprah often says, first the universe will whisper, then it gets louder and then it will hit you over the head.  Eventually it will make you listen.  Kung Fu Panda had a destiny and despite any attempts by him or others — he was going to fulfill that destiny.

I’m 48 and sometimes I’m shocked that I’m still trying to learn the same lessons I was trying to master from when I was 18.  I’m not very far down that path of enlightenment afterall.  Sure they seem like more grown up problems but the root of them are the same.  You can put a dress on a pig but it is still a pig.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone.  You don’t have to be training for an Ironman to appreciate it but for me the similarities between me trying to become an Ironman and Po the Panda trying to become a Kung Fu master were embarrassingly similar.  The goal seems almost ridiculous in its difficulty.  You want to turn a fat, dumpling-loving Panda into a Kung Fu Master?  You want to turn this overweight, over-aged computer potato into an Ironman?   But throughout the movie the one theme that kept hitting me over the head was — believe — no matter what, you have to believe.

One of my favorite scenes was early in the movie when Po (the Panda) started to get trained by Shifu (the Kung Fu Master and teacher who reminds me so much of one of my coaches.)  Po said something like “My Kung Fu is not all there right now, I’m kind of like at a level zero.”  The Master replied in a very sage voice that I could hear my coaches using on me “there is no such thing as level zero.”  Then Po began to get whipped in training.  As he was lying panting on the ground, totally crushed and defeated, the Sage Master said grimly “NOW, there is a level Zero.”  I guess there is always room to start a new low, lol.   It was funny but at the same time true.  Even zero doesn’t exist until you start.  As Pema Chodron says “Start where you are.”  

Tomorrow, early bike and swim.  I’m switching up my swim/run days due to the heat wave.  I’ll do speed work on Wednesday when it creeps back down to the 80’s.    I’ll start at level zero.


“There is no secret ingredient in the secret ingredient soup.”





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6/6/08 Forgive and Move On.

Friday.   I’m so glad I went to my WW meeting today because I really didn’t want to go and it ended up being really just what I needed.  I was convinced I wasn’t going to be down at all because I have been feeling bloated and under the weather all week.  I also haven’t been tracking (not eating terribly just not tracking).  I feel like I got the Governor’s reprieve at the final hour.  Was down 3.5 this week (but was up 5 last week so I am 1.5 in the hole as I predicted).  Okay, all is not lost (just the water weight), now how to get back on track and reclaim my momentum.

Great meeting today.  Just what I needed.   A couple of the gals were really pumped and on a roll and it just made me feel better.  Sometimes it’s harder to keep going when there is nobody sharing your enthusiasm.  I was definitely in a little slump as I went to the meeting but by the end I was feeling recharged and ready to rumble.

A couple of people were talking about that they were struggling with the tracking right now too.  Different people had some different solutions.  One person switched from tracking on the computer to tracking in a notebook. That worked for me for awhile and then it didn’t.  Another gal switched from Flex (the plan where you track) to CORE (the plan where you don’t track but eat clean foods like fruits/veggies/protein but nothing processed.)  I’ve done that too.  But one gal had the best idea.  She said her goal for the previous week had been to track.  She sat down one night to try to enter everything she had eaten, looked at the blank page and wrote “FORGIVE AND MOVE ON.”  Then she did just that. I laughed so hard.  What a great idea.  Forgive and move on.  Get over it.  It’s not the end of the world.  You did your best.  Maintaining perfection is impossible.

Another gal said when given the choice between perfection and forgiveness, she’ll choose forgiveness any day.  Agreed.  I was starting to feel so bad about my lack of tracking (and lack of swimming) I had to finally say to myself “what is this feeling bad getting you?”  It’s not correcting the problem.   It’s just adding to it.  So I nodded my head and agreed to “Forgive and Move on.”

The other gals that were riding the wave of momentum picked me up along with them.  I committed to tracking everything this week.  Today I’m already over my points but it’s okay — I’ve measured and tracked and that’s all I committed to.  I didn’t say I would stay within my points, I just said I would document. 

Yesterday I got in a swim and I also went down to the pool first thing this morning for another 45 minutes.  It was surprisingly hard — mentally.  I did a good 20 minutes of drills, really working on my hand entering the water, extending my arm 170 degrees, breaking the wrist and high elbow.  I did some of the twisting my hips with a kickboard between my legs (I think I could get more power in my rotation).  I see sometimes I slightly cross my left arm across my body and was working to eliminate that.  I have to remember railroad tracks.  Then I did some boring 400’s.  No great speed but I did try to pick it up on a couple of them.  Then a jacuzzi to round out my hour.  I was surprised how much my quads and hamstrings felt from Thursday a.m.’s ride.  I had thought I didn’t work that hard because I didn’t leave a lung behind, but obviously I worked my muscles ’cause they were a little cranky.

Cool thing, I was looking at a machine they use for dryland swim training and thought “hey, I could do that with my Pilates machine” and I did it!!   I put the box on top, shortened the straps and laid down on my stomach to practice the pull.  I did it for awhile… hmmm, now I wonder if that’s why I was tired in the pool… Duh….  But very cool I found another trick to do on my wonder machine.

Tomorrow is our longest brick of the season.  And what luck that the temperature is going to shoot up into the 90’s with high humidity!?  Oh yeah, and we will be riding and running out on that nice barren stretch of road called 9W.  Not much shade.  Can’t wait.  It’s going to be a sweat fest.  We start with a 1 hour team swim.  After that we go home, grab our bikes and head out for a 3 1/2 hour ride followed by a 2 1/2 hour run.  I will leave my apartment at 5:15 and won’t be rolling back into it until about 3:30.  FUN! (insert rolling eyes here.)  It’s going to be hard but nothing I can’t handle.  I just have to keep reminding myself — can’t be harder than St. Croix, can’t be harder than St. Croix.  And this time I’ll actually put the correct amount of formula in my water bottles!!  What a concept!

I’m feeling  better, but I also have to wonder if the iron pills I have been taking for the last couple of days have something to do with it.  I also got a little more sleep so that was good.  I rally to fight another day.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Mahatma Gandhi

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