Monthly Archives: October 2011

10/23/2011 A Jaunt Down Memory Lane

Sunday.  Tennis and biking that’s about it.  I’ll try to get some runs in this week.  Big doctor appt on Wednesday.

I was out riding to Piermont with a couple of friends yesterday (the best Fall day) and we talking about how bad we were when we started cycling.  I’m actually slower right now than I was then.    The only difference I really understand now that it is just a matter of time, muscle and losing weight so I’m not worried about yet.   Last night I was out with my friend we were talking about her first month of Ironman training.  I realized I was little foggy on remembering the exact details of my first year of Ironman training so I decided to take a look back on my very first month of training for Ironman.  That was some year.  Can you believe it was October 2006 when I started training for my first Ironman?  Five years ago?  I had forgotten that before I started IM training I had trained so hard for Firmman and did the Tour de Pink my first month of Ironman Training.  I had not remembered that. This why keeping a blog can be fun as well as informative.  These are just a couple of notes from my first month of IM training in 2006.

10/4/06 “I completed my first workout with the Ironman training team. … I am definitely the slowest person on the team, but everyone and I mean every single person was super nice to me. Both coaches made a special effort to make sure I knew to not compare myself to anyone but myself and to do my own pace and not worry about everyone else. All of the super jocks were really terrific and very nice to me. …

Afterwards I got a lot of pats on the back and way-to-go and ‘congrats on your first practice.’ One guy came up and introduced himself. He was really nice and told me I did a great job. I tried to return the encouraging words. My words came out raspy and flew out of my mouth on short puffs of air. In my best trying-to-be-nonchalant-and-cool voice I sputtered “yeah”, cough, cough, “you too man” cough, cough. His words seemed to float effortlessly as if running up and down hills for an hour was no extra effort at all. Damn I’m just so NOT cool….

 Yeah, yeah, Ironman Schironman, I just want to do a seated squat and hold the freakin’ plank!!!! Tomorrow I’ll worry about the Ironman.”

10/14/06  “Well all I can say is the Vermont bike and the Tour de Pink I did with Michelle and all the drills my coach Lisa made me do all summer must have paid off.  I did it.  I really did it.  I rode up Harlem Hill with one leg at a time.  Honestly, sitting here, writing this, I still can’t believe it.  How the heck did that happen.? I remember three years ago, just making it up Harlem Hill was my goal.  Now I’m riding up it with one leg?  OMG!!!!  I had such a huge smile on my face when I finished that it is not even funny.

So then we go around again.  This time we are to do a standing climb the ENTIRE length of the hill.  I’m not so worried because I’ve just done the impossible.  So I’m standing and climbing and Scott is telling me I’m doing great.  Wonderful, but as soon as I pass him I feel like my heart is about to leap out of my chest and I have to sit back down on the bike.  Bleeeaaahhh.  That was so much harder.  I’m bummed I couldn’t make it all the way to the top, but towards the top I stand again and finish it out.  Scott rides up next to me and we start to chat but all I can say is “I can’t believe I rode up Harlem Hill with one leg!!”  He laughed and said “you didn’t think you could do it.”  “No, no way” I said and I had a big smile on my face.  “Good job” he said.   “Yeah” I said, “it was! I’m so happy!”  Already I can tell I’ll be the high-emotion teammate.  But how nice was Scott to not discourage me?  He could have really laid into me about be faster, fitter, stronger  — you didn’t stand the whole way.  But he didn’t.  He gave me a couple of if-you-looked-hard-enough-for-it compliments and made me feel okay. “

10/18/06  Entire entry is funny but highlight is: “This particular coach was trying to be a little tough on us (although I know he is a very nice guy) so when we finished each out and back he yelled at us to keep going.  “Train’s leaving — too late!!”  he would yell to the people who got back 15 seconds too late.  If you got back 15 seconds too early he made you do squats.  I was right on time every time which you would think would make him happy.  But no — he yelled at me for being too perfect.  ROFL!!!  I guess there was no winning.  You were going to get yelled at no matter what.   Of course I found this hysterically funny — painful, but funny.

 Afterwards he was telling us how we have to get out of our comfort zone (guilty).  “You want comfort?  Sit on the couch!”  he told us.  That was pretty funny although I’m not allowed to laugh because he says I’m in too good of a mood all the time and within 3 months he’s going to wipe that smile off my face.  Of course that makes me laugh even more because little does he know my smile is simply masking my pain!!!  I’m trying, but I just can’t take myself so seriously… yet.”

10/19/06  Oh yeah I remember this: “We did 3 loops of Central Park (two 6 milers and one 5 miler).  I counted 4 times the coach told me to stop talking this morning!!!  And that was on my good behavior — I was trying to keep it zipped!  But if I say as much as “Hello” he shouts at me to stop talking.   ROFL.  This is going to be a long winter….  Not sure I can control my gift of gab or my sharp turns but I will keep practicing.  I’ll see if I can get it down to once per loop.  LOL”

10/23/06  I will probably always hold a spot for Clove road somewhere near my middle finger.   “I hit Clove road and pretty quickly I was aware of one distinquishing feature.  It was all downhill!!  Memories of the Coogan’s run up in Fort Washington — if you run down it, you have to run up it.  Oh boy, more uphills waiting for me.  But I had done the hard hill already, right?  Right!?!?  I kept riding, riding, riding.  Nobody in sight.  … But every down hill was making me more nervous.  I was aware I was going down the hills with some trepidation.  I wasn’t sure I wanted any more downhills…..

…I had neglected to pay attention to the detailed instructions early on when they said to turn around when we were at the 1 hour 30 minute point.  I just kept pedalling, pedalling looking for the coaches.  When I got to the end the coaches were surprised to see me.  “Why didn’t you turn around?”  They asked.  “I wanted to get to the end?”  I said.  “How long did it take you to get here….1 hour 40 minutes.  “Well you have to make it back in 1 hour 20 minutes to meet the rest of the group in time.”   GULP!!!  OMG, I have to ride faster back? 

I was screwed.  Coach Scott said “don’t worry, you have a half hour to shower and change for dinner, you’ll just take the time out of that”….  Then he road up to me and said “don’t even worry about it, you are good on the hills.” Then he sped off.  I wanted to scream after him “DOWNHILLS!!!, I’m good on the DOWNHILLS.”  “

10/24/06  Gosh I remember this day at my first training camp too: “Then we turned into the trail portion.  I was having real difficulty breathing.  It felt like someone was squeezing my lungs and I just couldn’t get the air in.  The tough coach came up and said “okay, I’m going to give you 45 minutes to warm up, you can take your time, run/walk whatever you want, but on the way back I want to see you running.  No looking at the trees, no enjoying the scenery, no chatting with your friends, no being nice”.  

ROFL, that still makes me laugh.  That entire year they kept telling me to stop being so nice.  Don’t worry I’m not nice anymore.  Old and jaded now.

 10/27/06  Oh yeah.  I was petrified of rounding that corner on Harlem Hill.  I remember Coach Kim saying “you are going to be bombing down this hill one day.”  I didn’t believe her but she was right.  My entry that day: “My big piece of progress is that I didn’t brake going around the corner on the big downhill.  Dan cheered for me because he knows I’m a big chicken when it comes to rounding that corner and last week I kept breaking up the paceline because I was braking.  This week no braking.  I just said to myself “if you go down, you go down.” 

 10/31/06  Okay I gasped a little when I read this:  Okay I’m finally feeling back to normal.  That was a rough week.  I took so many vitamins and iron pills I have to be cautious walking past a magnet.  None of that really seemed to help. I just had to get through the week.  I upped my protein (and I went shopping!! yeah) so I am hoping that helped some too.

So those were the highlights of my first month of Ironman Trianing in 2006.  Seems like a lifetime ago yet at the same time these memories are emblazoned in my mind. It was a good year…except for that pesky bike crash which I don’t even really remember any more.

And all I can say to any newbies out there is that despite this pitiful and rocky start, come July 2007, I was capable of finishing an  Ironman.  (Due to extenuating circumstances it didn’t actually happen until July 2008 but I was ready in ’07)


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10/14/11 Get a Grip

Friday.  Quick post before I head to CT.  I sit here with a kind in my shoulder and a tweaked left knee from tennis.  Just some of the regular wounds of battle.

I’ve not gone for a run in two weeks.  I’ve been on a couple of nice bike rides and only one swim.  But I have been playing tennis.  I played tennis four times last week and four times this week.  This week my playing was not exactly stellar.  If anything I found a black hole and was thrashing around in it for awhile.

What I see in all sports, tennis, triathlon, golf, (do I do any other sports?)   The playing field is a mirror for the bigger issues in life.  How you handle yourself in sports reflects a lot of how you handle yourself in life.  But everything is on a smaller, more condensed level.  I think sports are great way to expose your neuroses in the shortest amount of time.  My fear of losing (which I have had since childhood) took approximately two weeks to rear its ugly head.  I lost big this week.  To a player I shouldn’t have lost to.  And then my truly worst fear happened when I walked into the club and got the “reeeallly???  SHE beat YOU???”  Oh God it’s like sticking an ice pick into my eye.  Yes, SHE beat ME.  She didn’t cheat.  She was nice.  She hit some winners and I hit ten thousand losers.  Ugh.

It’s painful when I am in the black hole.  I try to think my way out.  Marlie tells me to stop thinking and be with the ball.  Well the ball is going out over and over.   It’s going long.  It’s going wide.  It’s going into the net.  Help me!!!  I can’t stop it.  I am disconnected from the ball.  The ball hates me.  I try to hit it softer to just get it in.  My opponent seizes the opportunity and creams the ball.  I was channelling Pema Chodron, Thich Nicht Than, Sakong Mipham and all the teachers I’ve ever had.  Give me an answer.  What do I do?  Wax on wax off?  Arggghhh….  It’s just the black hole….

I was really off all week.  Even Monday hitting with Marlie.  I couldn’t find my groove.  She tells me “stop thinking!  this is your meditation! just be with the ball.”  I can’t.  I can’t be with the ball, my mind is racing.   On Wednesday Nic says to me “I can tell you are tired, you aren’t hitting like you usually do.”  (Ugh, another kiss of death.)

I think about the tennis pros (you know the ones who can actually play tennis for a living and not just talk about it?)   How do they handle defeat?  How do they stand out there in front of thousands of people and viewed by thousands more on tv and have a bad day?  Where every mistake you make seems magnified?  Where you watch the score board go click, click, click against you?  How do you chalk it up to a bad day?  How do you maintain your composure and be a good sport while you are sinking faster and faster into the black hole.  You want to hide. You want a reason.  There must be something I’m doing wrong.  TELL ME WHAT I’M DOING WRONG!!!!

So I get up on Thursday morning and I go to hit with John.  I trying to shake it all off.  Start all over.  I get on the court and there they go.  Flying right.  Flying long.  What the heck?  John stops and says to me “what are you doing with your wrist?  I’ve never seen you do that before.”   I look down at my racquet.  That thing that is usually an extension of my arm but now it might as well be a pitch fork for its usefulness to this game.  And there I see my racquet.  In my hand and for the first time I actually feel the racquet in my hand.  Wait a minute something isn’t right.  I swing the racquet and see how open the racquet face is (open meaning pointing more to the ceiling than toward the ground).  I look at my grip.   I close my grip a smidge.  Hmmm.  John hits the ball to me.  For the first time all week I actually see the ball.  I feel my racquet catch the bottom of the ball and spin it upwards and over into a nice topspin.  I watch the ball sail straight and deep into the opposite court.  And there in one second, I’m out of the black hole.  I don’t miss the next 100 balls.  I’m not the same player as the night before.  My racquet is an extension of my arm.  The ball is with me. John laughs and says “well look at this way, you made her day by letting her beat you.”  “I didn’t ‘let’ her”, I sighed, “she just did.”  But all of a sudden it was okay.  Yeah I’m going to lose.  What was that Chrissy Everett used to say about facing winning and losing with the same grace?  Ugh, I might smile and say “well done”  but I don’t FEEL the grace.

Now it would be easy to say I just change my grip and that was the cure.  But what I think I really changed was my focal point.  Instead of looking out there for why the ball was landing in the wrong place, Instead of getting mad at myself for a terrible tennis stroke, Instead of yelling at the tennis spirits for abandoning me, it was just switching my focus to one little thing — becoming aware of how the racquet felt in my hand.  And that one tiny adjustment resulted in a big change.

Of course now I realize I was focused.  I was focused on the results.  I was focused on my reputation.  I was focused on everything under the sun except hitting the fuzzy little yellow ball.  Worrying about whether or not I’m going to succeed or fail is useless energy.  I thought I had finally learned that in triathlon (where I am not expected to win so any progress is cheered.)  But back in my old stomping ground I fell right back into my old fears and lack of focus.  Pride and vanity.  That’s all it is.  And all that will pass too, like the clouds.

All of this tennis focus made me think about something Maggie my old WW leader used to say about small changes.  Stand with your feet together facing on direction.  Take three steps and see where you end up.  Then ever so slightly (maybe one inch) change the angle of your feet to point in another direction.  Take three more steps.  Look at the difference in how far you have moved from the original path.  It’s the small steps that create the big changes.  This is the principle of Kaizen.


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10/5/11 Don’t Let Them See you Sweat

Wednesday.   Played tennis with Nic today.  Oh boy, I have a lot of work to do.  Nothing to make you feel like an out-of-shape-50-something than to play a zero-percent-body-fat-wall-of-muscle-thirty-something.  I’ll admit I was a little nervous and I would normally never have stepped foot on the court with her in this condition but she has a shoulder injury and just wanted to hit.  Then when I saw her in the club she said she pulled something in her back and she went for a run yesterday and her calves hurt.  Fine.  I said.  In that case I’ll play with you…  I require a three-injury minimum head-start.

Well Ha on me!  That ball was coming at me pretty hard and not near me so I had to run for them all.  Fairly quickly I realized there was something wrong with this picture, she’s running me around, I’m hitting the ball right back to her (thinking we are just hitting), I’m standing in a pool of sweat and she hasn’t even unzipped her jacket.  This is going to be a long hour. Just don’t let her see you are out of breath, don’t let her see you sweat.  I’m running down the ball cursing every bagel I’ve ever eaten in my life.  My reaction time is not fast enough because I was hitting yesterday with a slower player and now the ball was kicking up in my face (a youthful topspin to boot).  Bend knees, damn you, Bend!!!

Then I had a brilliant idea, how about some drills?  Cross courts, down the lines.  Then I really saw the problem, she hits hard but she is not really in control of the ball so she couldn’t get it back in the court to the right spot.  So she wasn’t deliberately not hitting it to me, she couldn’t hit it right to me.  By the time we were done we had a bit more of a groove going and I could see she was pleased with the progress she was making.  I wasn’t as fast, as young, as fit or as strong — but at least I could get the ball back in the right spot more than once and I could show her how to do the same.  “Slow it down just a smidge and you’ll get more in.”  This is hysterically funny to me because I am the last person on the planet who should be telling someone else to be slowing their tennis stroke down.

When we finished she said “that was great, can we play again next week?”  I had to laugh, here I was so worried about playing out of my league and she actually had a good time.  How funny.  In an instant I became the elder statesman of tennis. I’ll be honest (And you have to have know me long ago to know how absolutely hysterical this is) I was always the wild, crazy, hard-hitting one — think an impatient Serena.  To find myself now the controlled, patient one is nothing short of belly-bouncing funny.  The chances of me ever taking a set off of her is slim, but maybe with the right patience on my part and enough errors on hers, I might see a game or two.

I stayed and loaded up a basket with 50 balls (which turns out to be only half a basket) and practiced my serve.  In, out, In, out.  Ugh.  My serve.  Either an ace or a fault.  Practiced some slices and a couple of topspins.  A lot of work to do, such a lot of work to do.  Yeah, yeah, I could slow it down a little and probably get more in, but where’s the fun in that?  Physician heal thyself.

After tennis I went down and reintroduced myself to the pool with Jen.  Haven’t swam in a couple of weeks — eek maybe 3?  Or gasp even 4?  I don’t have a pool up in CT yet (where I don’t have to pay another membership fee).  Will have to work on that.  But Jen’s training season has started and I’m there to swim with her.

First thing I noticed is that it is not such a great idea to serve a bucket of balls before you head to the pool.  My right shoulder was not so happy.  Second thing I noticed is that if you just keep swimming, all those little aches and pains go away.  I think it is called numbness. Third thing I notice is I hate kicking drills and I think I should get some kind of over-fifty you don’t have to do kicking drills anymore.  Yes, I’m playing the over-fifty card twice in one blog post, when you get to fifty you get to do the same until then,  you can’t say anything.

If you look hard enough on the Internet you will find someone who agrees with you.  Here is a little article for those of us with not very flexible ankles: Runner’s Kick.  Apparently he thinks kick board exercises for triathletes are stupid too.  (Hey who are you calling a triathlete? Don’t you have to do triathlons to be a triathlete?)

Tomorrow, 6 a.m. tennis with John, 10 a.m. bike ride.  Oh God please don’t make me have to walk up Harlem Hill.

Oh and I feel better today and I didn’t even have to eat a steak (or a hamburger).  I think these “Living Green Liquid-Gel Multi” are helping but I have to find a vegan version.


“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Arthur Ashe

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10/4/11 On the Ball

Tuesday.  It’s been awhile since I updated.  Finshed my reboot (can’t say that was easy).  I’ve decided to continue on for awhile with no caffeine and no alcohol.  No set date, just until I feel right. I’ve had some dark chocolate which seemed okay.  I was shocked how quickly I zoned right back in on bread.  I have to knock that back out.  I’m focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods but one of the first things I wanted when I got back to NYC was a bagel — carb addiction runs deep.  I’ve continued with the almost daily green juice.  Fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds.  One meal at a time.

Ironically with all this green eating, I’ve not been feeling very well.  Had a bout of anemia last week for my birthday and it looks like it is back.  Before I get emails yelling at me to take my iron, I’ve been taking it, every day.  As well as my B vitamins, Magnesium, Calcium and Milk Thistle.  (I paid for the Magnesium and Milk Thistle for my reboot and I figured I would finish with them.) (Oh and before a certain someone sends me an email telling me to eat a steak, fugedaboudit.)  I give myself until Friday and if I have not cured myself I’ll go to the doctor.  I may just have a cold coming on.  Or another theory is I might just need constant stimulants like coffee to feel okay.  I may just be one of those people who needs a daily caffeine boost or three.  Maybe my reboot was not hard because of the actual reboot, maybe I was under the weather the whole time.  I have my next set of blood tests on Oct. 26th so we’ll find out the deal then.

I had a nice birthday week out in Rhode Island.  Weather channel called for rain the entire week and we ended up with beautiful weather.  We also found out about a bunch of races that are held out there right by my brother’s house so we are planning on doing some of them next year.  “Crabman” and “Oh my Goddard” and “Do it in the Woods” are just some of the tris out there.  Of course there is my favorite “flat” course Firmman and on my birthday they have the ocean marathon.  So next year it I will be hanging out at Tri-Camp Matanuk.  We also found this really cool place called Burlingame Park with a gorgeous lake and an 8 mile running/biking trail around the lake.  That will be worth heading back to.  (I was a little under the weather so couldn’t do the 8 miles).

I played tennis on Monday with Marlie and though I didn’t feel I was hitting that well, I did feel good afterwards.  So good I decided to play tennis every day that I can until triathlon training starts. (Marlie rolling eyes at my lack of moderation.)  So I took a match this morning with a nice lady.  It was a good but not very challenging.   I just worked on my consistency.  I couldn’t hit very hard to her otherwise I would just blow her off the court (and that’s no fun for either of us.)  So I just worked on keeping it in and keeping it even.  I still won 6-1 without much effort (and I was p.o.d about losing a game due to my errant serving) but I would play her again because she is nice. She has potential.

I’m psyched for tomorrow because I get to hit with my old friend Nic.  Normally I would not even think of getting on the court with her in this shape but she’s injured and she just wants to hit, not play a game. I’m there. Just hit and run, I can do that.  If we had to play a game she would cream me and I wouldn’t be able to give her a good game.  She’s just in phenomenal shape and I need a lot of work to play at that level.  It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about having a good game and if I can’t run down three balls in a row, what fun is that?

So on a roll of 3 days in a row of scheduled tennis I called my old friend John.  I have a list of some really good players that are also really nice and John is on the top of the list.  It’s not that John hits so hard or blows me off the court with his serve, it’s that he is so freakin’ fast and never misses.  He has wheels.  I can hit my biggest winner into the corner of the court and somehow John is there and gets it back.  And back, and back.  And then he’ll hit a short angle shot, send me running into the next court and the point is over…. lol  But it’s always fun.  He just rejoined the club too and is happy to get back to some hitting.  We are going to play Thursday morning early.  We used to play every week years ago.

Tennis won’t actually be enough to get me in shape for IM season, BUT Tennis with another hour of swim, bike, run, plilates will be just perfect.  This way I don’t have to kill my knees with a lot of mileage but I will get some good cardio in as well as having some fun.   If I could get myself back into good enough shape to play some real matches, that would make me happy.  I don’t know when or where but I wouldn’t mind being called in for some of the old doubles groups I used to play with out on Roosevelt Island or up at Columbia.  I think just 2-3 weeks of hitting with people like Marlie, Nic and John and I’ll be good to feel competitive again.  (With a lot of sit ups, pushups and squats.)

I’m not thinking about Ironman right now.  I’m just thinking about getting healthier and having some fun.  I have a week off this week from being in CT and I’m taking this time to feel recovered and recuperated.  I have a couple of pros I have hit with in CT over the years and I would be happy to look them back up again. Though now I think most of them are in their seventies or eighties….

I was thinking a lot about tennis today and how it is the perfect sport for the ages.  There are so many levels and varieties of tennis.  I can play like I did yesterday with Marlie where she gives me a workout and I see how many overheads I can smash before I pass out.  I can play today with someone a little less strong and just work on keeping the ball in — no mistakes.  I can play tomorrow with Nic and just cream the ball as hard as I can for an hour.  And on Thursday get ready to run my butt of chasing down John’s shots.  There are so many faces to the game of tennis and I never cease to be intrigued by how our minds work on the tennis court.  Right now I am enjoying the best part of tennis — the social aspect.  It’s really nice to meet new people, laugh with the people in the clubhouse, keep in touch with old friends.  I’m not sure if the sport of triathlon will be with me into my nineties but I’m pretty sure tennis will.


This is the sunrise that greeted me through my bedroom window on my birthday morning.



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