Monthly Archives: July 2012

7/16/2012 I don’t have a title for this one.

Sunday. “Cast aside all involvements and cease all affairs. Do not think good or bad. Do not administer pros and cons. Cease all the movements of the conscious mind, the gauging of all thoughts and views.” – Zen Master Dogen, “The Principles of Zazen” This week I’ve been meditating on this.

I read it as saying — stop thinking about whether or not you will do Ironman, just let it unfold. Stop the incessant worrying about outcome and be present for the moment. All weekend I kept reminding myself of this quote. “Do not administer pros and cons.” In one workout I can go from “I have no business doing this” to “there is an outside chance in hell that I might pull it off” about twenty times. I watch my thoughts running in circles. I have no idea what is going to happen. My life is in flux. Anything can happen at any moment. I can only stay in this moment and what happens in August happens in August. What happens tomorrow, happens tomorrow. What happens now, happens now.

Meanwhile this weekend I rode 100 miles on Saturday and ran 15 miles on Sunday. Not too shabby considering the heat. My ride was 93 degrees on Saturday and when I finished my run on Sunday it was 85 and humid.

Friday night I joined up the HEAT group (Hartford Extended Area Triathletes). They are not a team, they are a club. No coaches, no official workouts, no professional advice but you get a shirt and an online forum. People post where they will be and people show up. For awhile now I’ve been intrigued by their Friday night swims at West Hill (in New Hartford). I finally went. It’s a gorgeous lake in New Hartford but they only swim on Friday nights at 6 p.m. when they access to the full lake. The rest of the time the majority of the lake is used for boats and a tiny little section is roped off for swimming. The lake was gorgeous. Since I knew I had a long ride on Saturday morning I only swam a mile — no wetsuit. Wow, how much my legs dropped in the water. How is that happening? It doesn’t happen in the pool, why does it happen in the open water. I’ll explore more drills tomorrow in the pool.

westhill lake, new hartford

At the last minute I found out about a charity century ride happening on Saturday about 5 miles from my house. Supported ride was all I needed to hear. I re-learned a lot on that ride. You might feel great at mile 82 but you better keep the calories coming because 18 miles is still a bit of distance even if you know the way. I was really bonking at the end simply because I didn’t take in enough calories. I knew where I was and thought it was a straight shot to the end, instead they had me curling through the back roads until I was out of water and energy. There is a lesson in there somewhere….

I am a convert to the salt movement. I have ordered a crate of SaltStick Caps Plus and I promise to never go without again. One nasty cramp climbing a hill brought back scary memories of IM Canada. Thankfully a guy gave me a Nuun tablet and that seemed to get me through until I hit a country store and downed a bunch of salt packets. I thought it would taste gross but it was awesome. I ate three salt packets with no problem. It’s not like I don’t take any sodium, there is the equivalent of one saltstick in one portion of my Infinit Formula. I guess I need more than that.

Nice people, good course. Glad I went. Now I have a cue sheet for a good 100 mile ride and shorter segments that I can use right from my house. Even though I thought I knew all the roads around here, turns out there are even more.

Saturday night I had some difficulty using my legs. They were sore. I thought there would be no way that I would be able to run on Sunday.

I got up early and though feeling creaky hit the trails before it got too hot. I got in 15 before I had to call it a day. A little less heat and I know I could have done more and probably a little quicker. I was just doing a little jog and walk — trying to keep the shuffle alive. I was shocked at how much better my legs felt after my run. The run/walk thing really works.

So that’s where I am. Kind of on schedule. Kind of not. Taking it one day at a time. Trying to not to fall prey to the am I in or am I out of IM? I have a feeling that will sort itself out one way or another in the next few weeks. Meanwhile I continue to train as if. If nothing stops me, I go. If something stops me, I don’t. I am like water.

Namaste

p.s. Today starts the next round of the Chopra 21-day meditation challenge. Not too late to sign up. It’s all about Love and it is my favorite price — FREE

Chopra Meditation Challenge

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7/11/12 WasSUP?

Wednesday.  Corny title I know.

I am stealing this bit of time to update my blog and both of my readers.  Training is pretty much non-existent right now though after three days of no workouts I did get a 2 mile swim in today.  Seems every time I try to get outside to do my workout I have to take care of someone/thing else.

I wasn’t supposed to be in CT at all right now but on Friday early morning the nurse called me after checking out my Dad and said she had a funny feeling and maybe I might want to come “home.”  So Friday afternoon I packed up my bike Tina and my training gear, cancelled all my appointments for the coming week and headed to CT.  Got to CT and my Dad seemed just like I left him last week.  Great.  Another emergency call for nothing.

I had to get a long run in on Saturday.  Hot weather so I decided to start at 5:30 a.m. and try to get 16 miles in.  My plan was to run the 6 miles to Dunkin Donuts (the only thing open at that time) refill water bottles, do an out and back of 4 miles, get more water and then run home.  I checked on my Dad before I left and he was with the nighttime aide, everything fine.  Off I went.  I was doing really well.  Just doing my 2/1 but feeling strong and nothing was hurting and feeling a good amount of energy and okay with my net-14 pace.  Got my water, got to do the out part of my out and back (mile 8) and my phone rang.  Who the heck is calling me at 7:30 a.m.?  It was my mother alerting me that something was wrong with my dad — he was slumped at the kitchen table and non-responsive.   I was out in the middle of the woods.  8 miles from home.  In my best of shape (of which I am not in) it would take me 1 1/2 hours to run home.  Right now I needed 2 hours.  Not a soul around.  I had not passed a soul or a car on my way out.  One guy working at the donut shop.  Of course my Mom had already called the hospice nurses and they were on their way.

Screw interval training.  If you want to run fast, plop yourself out in the woods and have someone call you and say your Dad is unresponsive and watch how fast you will run without taking a walk break.  I decided to keep running straight and head for the highway in Farmington where I would have a better shot at finding civilization and people awake.  I found a car broken down with a cop parked behind the car.  I told the cop my story and though she was from three towns away she drove me back to my house where I found my Dad had suffered a stroke.  Let chaos ensue.  Nurses, EMTs, family friends.  Crazy amount of people in the house but we got him to the den where we had a hospital bed waiting for him (something to be said for planning.)

Without boring details, I was not able to leave the house from Saturday morning until Tuesday night.  Stress levels high.  Exhaustion level high.  But I got everything done that needed to happen for my Dad. My clients? Not so good. My workouts? Nada.

Tuesday our new live-in aide and my savior arrived.  Thankfully she seems really good.  She has a lot of experience and she is making my life easier already.  I had signed up for a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga class a month ago on a lark.  I was doubting I could get to it.  Feeling guilty that instead of biking or running I was going to a SUP Yoga class.  I haven’t been on my bike since Thursday (when I did 10 repeats of Harlem Hill and 2 loops of the park).  I haven’t run since Saturday (when I got in about 9 miles including my sprinting to Route 4 through the woods).  I was slowly watching my already watery Ironman slip further from my fingers.  But the new gal seems pretty competent and tells me it is okay for me to leave.  So I went to my SUP Yoga class.  Exhausted.

I get to the river and meet the people.  What’s your level of SUP experience?  “I’ve seen people do it and it’s been on my to-do list for a couple of years but never been on one.”  Kayak experience?  “I took a lesson once last summer never had time to get in one again.”  Canoe?  “Does day-camp when I was 12 count?”  Yoga?  I can name all the poses but right now I can basically do Savasana (corpse pose).  No problem, we’ll just start with basic SUP handling.

It was kind of a Goldilocks situation.  First they put me on an inflatable SUP (yes! inflatable.)  I actually liked it and I think in another session or two that would be a good one for me (maybe to buy).  It was nice and wide but there was just ever so subtly tiny movement in the board.  I don’t have great balance and I was nervous.  I was able to stand up but as soon as I tried to paddle I was cramping my calves and gripping the board too tightly with my toes.  At one point I fell in trying to make a turn.  Then my instructor let me try her board.  A regular SUP board but it was too narrow.  There was less movement but I wanted to be able to put my feet wider.  Then one of the other more-experienced students gave me her board — wider, standard board and voila, just right the perfect fit and I was off at the races.  Very relaxed and easy to paddle.

We paddled up river for a bit with the paddle instructor and then the yoga instructor took over and we started our yoga class.  It was really cool.  We took off our life preservers (I guess we were required to have them on when we left the canoe shop).  Our instructor Laura told us we could use our preservers as props if we needed cushioning or anything.  Then she lead us through a basic yoga class.  Yoga twists and stretches, cat, cow, happy puppy, downward dog, upward dog, all the warriors and the geometric figures.  It was all very cool because the SUP boards gently floated up the river as we went through our poses.  Sometimes we were all together, sometimes one of us floated farther away and we paddled back to the group.  It was all very calm and serene.  There were a couple of poses I didn’t even try to do as I don’t have enough balance but I just made up a variation.  I had no problem balancing on the board but triangle pose was a no go — yet.  When we finally did the corpse pose is was really cool to look up at the sky and watch the clouds passing by as we gently floated with the only noise being the geese and the random canoeist.  There were so many trees and variations of the color green.  Peaceful.

Our teacher was talking about a theme of coming home and how at sunset the geese were landing and animals taking their last sips of water and nature was coming home.   What she didn’t realize is that we were floating on the same water where thirty-five years+ earlier I played hooky and floated in a inner tube smoking cigarettes and passing back and forth a bottle of Mr. Boston’s Rock ‘N Rye (how the heck do I remember that?) with my friends.  It was a coming home but of a different kind.

Our class was only supposed to be 1 1/2 hours but it ended up being 2 hours.  There were just four of us and the people were really nice.  We paddled back to the start and the hardest part was carrying those paddle boards back to the kayak building (they are heavy!)

I signed up for one more session (would love to see if I could add one or two more poses now that I know what I’m doing.)  So I’ll go on Thursday at lunch.  Today I waited for the physical therapist who was able to get Dad to sit up on his own…  Think it might take more of us to do it when she is not here.

My evening swim went okay. I really wanted to get a 2 mile swim in.  I was 4 laps short of 2 miles and 4 minutes past my normal 2 mile swim time.  I was about to call it a day when a picture Lisa Smith-Batchen had posted on facebook popped into my mind.  “I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I’m done.”  So I finished the final 4 laps and added 1 for the insult of even thinking about quitting early.

I don’t think all is lost for Ironman training, yet.  But it’s getting close and who knows what is going to happen? I got my training schedule for the next month.  If I can do all the workouts I think I can be ready to do the race.  It’s a big “If” but I can’t stop training based on what might happen.  Six months ago they said my Dad had days/weeks to live. I trained through all of that.  I think the medical world has totally underestimated my father’s determination to endure.  He’s not done yet and neither am I.

We can only take it one day at a time.  One mile at a time.  One stroke at a time. One pose at a time.  We’ll all end up exactly where we are supposed to be at the right time.

Namaste

Click here for some pictures of the SUP Yoga class on the Farmington River

And no I am not posting this picture on my wall because of how hot this guy looks, I’m posting because he helped me finish my swim.

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7/2/12 The Cockroach of Mont Tremblant

Monday.  Yes, I know I never wrote the promised part 2 (i.e. the good stuff) of my Mont Tremblant race report.  Honestly I was so busy last week I didn’t have another minute to write.  I actually don’t have time this morning either but for documentation purposes I better get it done.

So what happened in Mont Tremblant?  It was a combination of things culminating in my getting pulled off the course between 18k of a 21k run.  I had run out of time.  It was 4:10.  I had less than 2 miles to miles to go.  I think I needed at least 30 minutes to finish.  It would have brought me to an 8:50 finish.   They told me they had to stop support.  They said I could finish on my own (no finish line, no medal) but I would have to sign a waiver that said they were no longer responsible for me, or I could go in their fancy go cart and get a ride back.  There was no question in my mind that I could keep going for another half hour but why bother?  I was well past the cutoff of both this half Ironman and what a real Ironman would allow (if prorating the hours.)

I will say that I was 100% capable of finishing that race in the time allowed.  The only problem was I didn’t believe it at the time.

I’ll list some of the fact(or)s.

I was exhausted. I didn’t even realize how exhausted I was until this week when I actually got some physical and mental rest.  I had spent 10 days in CT prior and even though it is not physically stressful, it is mentally stressful and I underestimated how mental fatigue translates into physical fatigue.  Too much traveling, too much work, too much worrying.

My wave went off second to last.  Race started at 7 a.m.  My wave (women 50-59 and men 50-59) went off at 7:45.  It didn’t bother me that my wave went off late, it was just a factor in my getting a finisher’s medal.  There were at least a dozen people who finished in the same time I would have finished (if not more — one guy took 9:15) but they finished using the added wave times.  I didn’t have that luxury.  To be honest I don’t really care about that because I really only care about my net time and yes although I could have finished in 8:50 I don’t want to finish in 8:50. I wanted to finish in 7:45.  That’s a big difference.

It all started with the swim.  I thought I was doing just fine.  I was shooting for 48 minutes which would be my normal swim time.  A minute or two more would be no big deal.  It felt long but it was actually nice water, a little too warm for a wetsuit for me, but nothing bad.  It felt like I had a lot of kayaks around me.  I got up too soon when I hit the rocks and I started to stumble across them to get to the finish line.  They were yelling at us to keep swimming but I was standing in 10 inches of water.  Then they finally said go to the right it is deeper there.  Yeah that might have been something to mention a little earlier, I had already started to unzip my wetsuit.  If you went about 6 feet to the right you could keep swimming.  I was aiming for directly into the finish chute.  Silly me.  When I finished it said 53 on my watch and I felt defeated.

In retrospect.  Who the heck cares?  The race is not made or broken by 5 minutes.  Shake that off and keep going.

Then we had a long run from the exit to transition.  I knew I was one of the last because I didn’t see many bikes left in transition.  When I got out of transition and on my bike I thought I saw 1:07 on my watch.  I started to freak out.  A 14 minutes transition?  What the heck happened?  I let it start to freak me out.

In retrospect.  My watch had said 1:01 not 1:07.  In fact I did very well for me to jog 300 meters and change into my bike gear and run the distance of the transition area in 8 minutes.

The case of the missing inhalers.  I have two.  They were gone.  I’ve searched everywhere.  I don’t know what happened.  I was nervous because using the inhaler was part of my plan.

Even though I NEVER train with my inhaler, this was freaking me out that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get my breathing under control without it.  AND because I was freaking out about not getting my breathing under control, I never got my breathing under control.

On the bike I thought I was breathing too hard for a 56 mile bike ride.  I didn’t think I would be able to maintain it.  I felt like I was climbing, climbing, climbing.  As I was heading out on the first out-and-back Hundreds of people were coming at me on their way back.  Eventually they dwindled off and when I finally made the turn around there were exactly seven people that I counted behind me.  I’m guessing I was at about mile 20.  That is when the darkness entered.

I realized I was last.  Or at least I was going to be last.  I hate being last.  There was nobody in front of me.  Seven people behind me (but they were so far back that I couldn’t see them if I turned around to look).  Wide open highway totally closed off to traffic and just me and my evil twin having a party on the bike.  It was a moment because it was so beautiful and I did try to think how it was worth $200 just for this experience of being on a totally closed off highway with nobody as far as I could see and me riding through the Canadian mountainside.  That lasted about ten minutes and then I resumed with this sucks, why am I last?  Why did transition take so long?  Why can’t I catch my breath?  I’m too old.  I’m too everything….  And why the heck did they put the oldest women at the end?!??!?!

The three women I passed on the bike were all in my age group and we all bemoaned the same thing.  Why not give the older gals a break and give us the extra 45 minutes and not the twenty somethings?  It’s all spoilt milk. In a real Ironman everyone starts at the same time so who cares?

I didn’t do too badly on the second out and back.  Actually one gal caught back up to me  and asked how I was feeling and I remember distinctly saying okay but I wasn’t pushing at all at that point.

It was the last 14 miles.  Seven miles out all uphill.  A couple of short steep ones and at mile 42 a climb that kind of did me in.  Not physically — Mentally.  Physically my legs didn’t give up.  I was breathing very hard but it was my anxiety.  I actually remember gripping my handles bars and yelling out loud “I want my life back!”  I promised myself if I did not quit and just finished this race I would not have to do Ironman and I would never have to come back to Mont Tremblant.  I told myself a huge relief had just lifted from my shoulders.  “I’m so relived”  I just have to finish this and then I’m done.  Forever done.  Two guys walking their bikes up the hills faster than I could ride.  Evil-twin was doing a jig on my shoulder.  “yeah, quit, quit, we don’t need this, let’s get our old life back.” Every swear word I have ever heard was coming into my left ear. F this, s that.  This is stupid.  I got off an walked at one point going up the 12%.  I didn’t care.  I had given up.  But my new cheer of “I’m getting my life back” was keeping me up.

Then there came the turn around.  What comes up, comes down.  Seven miles of downhill.  On perfectly smooth roads.  I did not even have to pedal to get up the hills, the bike just flew over them. Only problem was now I could see who was still behind me and the seven people that had been behind me were now 3.  3 people behind me to the sag wagon.  The other four had quit or were pulled off the course, I don’t know. Evil twin smiles.

By the time I got into transition I was sure that I had not made the bike cutoff (which is silly because the sag wagon was still behind me).  I put on my running shoes and fuel belt.  I started to exit and a medical guy came running up to me looking me over.  “How are you feeling?”  he asks me and I quickly try to come up with the right answer for him to tell me to stop.  “That bike sucked and I hate this sport and whoever designed that bike course should be shot.”   And you know what he says to me?  “Okay, have a good run.”

The run starts out back tracking the swim exit to start the run.  This time you have to run up a hill similar to Harlem Hill.  I tell myself that I can walk to the top of the hill, catch my breath and then start running.  I walk to the top of the hill and meekly jog down.  Margaret, one of the three who had been behind me on the run catches up to me and starts walking with me.  We are both in our fifties.  She’s mad because her 60 year old husband got to go off at 7:10 in the third wave (men and women 60+) and she’s 58 and she has to go off in tenth wave at 7:45 (men and women 50-59).  I agree it didn’t seem fair (but I kept repeating to myself, it doesn’t matter, it’s your net time that counts.)

Margaret starts running and I realize that now there are only two people behind me (maybe, did they even leave transition?)  And I can’t catch my breath.  Just finish this thing and you can retire.  You never, ever have to come back again.

Then a 21 year old kid from Ontario catches up to me.  I had passed him on the bike he had been struggling so I had given him a few words of encouragement.  He was about 6′ 4″ and said he was going to walk.  He lied he started to run.  He ended up finishing in 9:15 but he still got his medal.  His wave went off at 7:05 (men and women 18-29).  Seriously?  You think a 21 year old guy needs the extra time?    But again I obsess over something that in my mind doesn’t add up anyway.  It just seems to me that everyone should be given the same amount of time to finish.  Why is his 9:15 better than my 8:50?  ‘Who cares? Your 8:50 sucks anyway!’ Shut up Evil Twin!

Now I am just walking and the sag cyclists are starting to surround me like vultures.  They  are chatting away with me like we are doing a walk in the park and I’m letting them.  I’m telling them stories and entertaining everyone and the last thing on my mind is the finish line.  I don’t even look at my watch.  It’s not until later that I realize that I should have told them to go away and to stop bothering me.  They were being friendly and nice but not in the least encouraging about picking it up or start running.  I was breathing hard because I was working hard but still freaking out.  I should have stopped, regrouped and then got back on plan.  Instead I learned all about some gal’s history with TNT Canada and Lava man and blah, blah, blah….  I let it happen.

And then finally the last guy passed me.  He had regrouped and was now running.  He would ultimately  finish in 8:51 which is just about when I would have finished.  After the sag wagon picked me up we came on him not even 1 k later.  I looked at the women to see if she was going to get out and stop him too but a bunch of volunteers jumped in and started telling the guy to run and she didn’t stop them.  They were all yelling and talking back and forth in French.  (I think the guy was French Canadian).  I screamed at the guy “RUN, start RUNNING now!”  And the group ran with him to the finish.  In 8 :51 which is one minute more than I had predicted it would have taken me.  But again the bottom line is I didn’t want an 8:50 something finish.  And I didn’t need to do an 8:50 something finish.  Even if I had done my run/walk for half the distance I would have knocked off six minutes.  But I didn’t and so I didn’t deserve to finish because I had given up.

After the race I kept telling myself I was relieved to be done with it all.  I wrote my coach and told him I was finished.  Maybe I would do another half sometime later in the year but no Ironman for me.   I kept saying “It’s totally understandable, look at all the pressures I have, it’s just not my year.”  I drove back from Canada through the Laurentian mountains, through the Adirondacks and through the Berkshires to CT.  I was struck by how gorgeous our planet is and how lucky I was to have been to even go to Canada for the long weekend and what an amazing place Mont Tremblant is, race or no.

A day to rest in CT and get all warm and fuzzy with my retirement idea and then the drive back to NYC to face some more deadlines.    Somewhere around exit 35 on the Merritt Parkway I had a little visit from Cher in her Moonlighting character.  She slapped me across the face and yelled “Snap out of it!”  At first I was taken aback, I mean what the heck was Cher doing on the Merritt Parkway?  But then I realized it was really my race guardian angel Chuck who had not renewed his passport in time for Canada.  I had no idea he was a female-impersonator as well.  He was trying to tell me “what are you talking about? When did you become such a quitter?  For three years you’ve been throwing a big pity party and the only person showing up is you!  Knock it off!  Where’s the fighter?  Where’s the come-back kid?  Where is the COMPETITOR? Are you going to take that crap from Canada of all places?”  All of a sudden I got mad.  I realized Chuck/Cher was right.  What had happened to me?  I had spent all that time learning to have confidence in myself and not worry about other racers and what happened?  I just let it all get to me and I gave up.  How anti-American could you get?

By the end of the drive I was in the head game.  I am going to keep working and finish or not I’m going to Mont Tremblant and I’m getting my money’s worth.  I’m going to do hill repeats until I can’t repeat anymore.  I’m going to get three inhalers and put them in every pocket.  I’m going to work harder on my running.  No quitting, retirement reschmirement.  Get out there and fight!

So this weekend I had 95 degree weather.  I ran for 2 hours (finished 8 miles) in the park at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday (with a race walk there/back on top.  Nice chat with my coach about excorcising the demons in my head.  Then we had a 100 mile ride plus short run in NJ on Sunday.  It was too hot and I only did 70 but I’m okay with that.  The under 30 gals finished the 100 miles and were almost dead.  I feel I got a great, hard workout doing the 70 and that was enough.  My plan is to be the smart athlete not the one having a heart-attack on the highway.

So that’s my story.  I’m back in it to finish.  Taking my iron pills, getting enough sleep.  Doing the work to the best of my abilities.  I am going to be the Cher of triathlon.  You can’t kill me off.   Like the old joke goes, after the end of the world the only two things that will survive are cockroaches and Cher.

So, me and my female-impersonating race Angel Chuck will be in Canada at the end of August and if you want to hear our theme song check out below!

Namaste

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