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: http://www.nismat.org/hot