Thursday. I feel, what’s that word? Exhausted, yeah, that’s it, exhausted. Wait no, it’s not exhausted, it’s OLD. Yeeesss that’s how I feel. Old. Physically and mentally.
Last night was workout 2b for cycling class. (2b means second week second workout.). OMG, what I have gotten myself into? Already I can’t keep up. The good news is everyone is really nice. The bad news is we do ILT (isolated leg training) and a lot of it. This is nothing new for me. I used to do these kinds of workouts all the time back in my old training days. But every year I get more and more surprised at how many years have passed since I was doing Ironman training. Really? It was how long ago? 4 years? 5 years? When was 2009? What? Check your calendar, that can’t be right.
So far every class has had the same format we just add more. We start out with cadence progressions. Start at 50 and every n seconds increase it by 5 rpm until we get to 110. Then we drop back down to 70 and do it again increasing by a shorter interval until we get to 130. Then we drop back down to 70 and do it again increasing by an even shorter interval until we hit 140 rpm. The first week I thought he was just joking about going to 140. Whoops guess not! And that’s the easy part of the class. It isn’t that hard except for one part, for some reason I can’t get over 100 anymore. I think the most I ever used to do was 110 maaayyybee 115. I don’t ever remember hitting 120 but who knows maybe I used to and I just don’t remember? But 140? No I don’t see that on the horizon. Anyway my natural rhythm is around 35. Grandma pace. Where is my flowered handlebar basket anyway?
And then we do the Isolated leg training. We do hard gear, 1 minute right leg, hands on tops, 1 minute hands in drops (ouch), then 1 minute hands on tops – slow like 50-60 rpms. If he wants me to do them smoothly he gets 40 rpms out of me. Then we do the left leg. Then we come back and do the right leg same thing easiest gear but faster – 80 rpms. Then we switch back to the heavier gear and do them all over again. “Focus! Focus! Keep those knees straight! Focus!” Okay, okay I’m focusing. I’m focusing on how freaking hard this is and my hip flexor has quit. It doesn’t hurt it doesn’t want to do anything. How can it be so hard to lift my leg up over this pedal? Fire those muscles! We’re giving ‘er all we got captain! Back to easiest gear at 80 rpm. You’d think it would be easy but it isn’t. I find it harder to control the easier gear to keep it smooth. Oh yeah and in between we drop back to 70 rpm as quickly as we can. Afterwards he asks “Anyone’s heart rate back to normal yet? Raise your hand when it is down to 100.” We wait, nobody raises their hand. Everybody is out of shape. Oh well we can’t wait all day for that — onto the standing.
And then we are up out of the saddle. First week it was 10 and then 12 minutes. I did about 2 and 3. This week it was 16 and last night 18 minutes. (“At the end of the 13 weeks you will be doing 40 minutes standing, this is your halfway point). Gulp. Whimper. My problem is my kneecaps hurt. I did maybe 4 minutes via 30 second attempts. I had that old bone scraping against bone which means I have to go buy some of that glucosomine and get that in me asap. I have to do a kabillion squats. I’m behind, behind, behind. EVERYONE is suffering, but some of them are able to stand for the whole time while they are suffering and only one or two need to take a break. Nonetheless, nobody is talking. Everybody is suffering silently. Nobody needs as much of a break as I do. Last again. But this time I am last and old. I used to think 40 was old. Nope, it’s 55, 55 is old. I know it’s not really. I know when I’m 75 I’ll look back and wish for 55 but right now everything is ouch, crackle, sigh. All that said, they guy next to me is 65 and he’s doing it fine. So get crackin’ old bones!
So my philosophy is — okay, if I am only able to do 4 minutes standing out of the 18 by the time they get to 40 minutes maybe I’ll be able to do 10? And 10 is better than 0. And who knows if I get some glucosomine in there and do some of my old one legged reverse squats maybe I can get stronger and get rid of that scraping feeling. I did it once before, I’m going to try my hardest to do it again.
I’m calling my coach Shifu the Younger, because he reminds me sooo much of my former coach back in NYC. Shifu the Younger even has a slight accent but I’m not sure where it is from. He’s tough but he is funny. I got new shoes and while I was deep in a set of ILT he asked me how the shoes were. I told him I couldn’t talk because I was focusing on my hip flexor. So he nodded and said “Goodbye.” I laughed though because I knew what he meant. “Go back to your dark place, we will talk later.” I think he gets me. I get him. He keeps trying to tell me I’m doing great but it’s hard to take that as a reality when everyone around you is doing so much better. I guess I’m doing great for me. I’m doing my great. Whatever that means. “Do you!” Fran the yoga/cycling coach used to tell at us last year on Tuesday nights. Don’t pay attention to what they are doing, “Do You!” I love Fran, she always had some kind of word of wisdom without being sappy or condescending. A good coach is part psychologist, part motivator, part scientist, part teacher and part parent.
We do a bunch of other stuff in there, finishing with riding at 100 rpm for what feels like forever. 90 minutes feels like 900. Then we stretch and stretch and stretch. Class starts at 5:30 and I’m home by 7:30 (it’s only 3 miles away which is very nice and it is one of the only programs of its kind in the valley).
I’m not kidding myself that I’m ever going to keep up with the youngsters (and I’m in the old class! Tue/Thurs are the younguns!) I don’t even know if I’ll ever get back to my own personal best but I know one thing for sure, at the end of the 13 weeks I will be stronger than I was going in.
My swim workouts are on Tuesday and Thursday which works nicely as the only thing I think I could do today is swim. And there is a good example of progress. I’m 10 weeks into Masters Swim training and I’m definitely better than when I started. I’m not good, but I can kick now which I really could only do a lame two-beat kick before. Now I can flutter kick for 800 meters with no question. I couldn’t do that before without major leg burning. Another good coach. I’m really happy with my masters swim program even though I don’t do a butterfly yet. My coach is not concerned. I think if I just came and kicked for 90 minutes that would make her happy. Sometimes I feel bad for her. She looks at me with total wonder as if she is thinking “how can any one person be so UNABLE to kick?” She’s young, she just doesn’t get it. One day she’s be shopping for supplements too.
So I do have two products to note that I am really happy with. With the bad weather, when Higgins and I take to the woods and it can be very slippery on the sometimes snow, sometimes wet leaves. In any kind of iffy weather, last year I bought Kahtoola Microspikes. I used them toward the end of snowshoeing season when snowshoes were too much but plain trail shoes not enough. I can’t say enough about these Kahoola Cleats (click here). Up the mountain, down the mountain, never a false step. SOOO much better than yaktrax which never made me feel stable on anything slippery. WIth my microspikes I can RUN over ice. I can run DOWN the slippery hill. (I would NOT use them for running on the road though, you have to have something underneath for the cleats to sink into). They don’t feel clunky at all, they feel stable. I give them five stars. I bought them in March of 2014. I pull them out after our first snowfall and was happy to see them work just as great. I use with these New Balance 1569 (click here). They are a great combo for trail hiking/running. I can use the cleats with my heavier trail shoes too but when it is wet and icky out I like the ankle coverage.
Meanwhile back on lower ground I have found this really cool lacing system that works great for me. I like elastic laces as a vestige from my triathlon days (faster to get into) but I also would get frustrated with how they would start to move around on me. I often get frustrated with regular laces that don’t stay tight where I tighten them and loose where I loosen them. I stumbled on this lacing system Hickies (click here) and they really work for me. They stretch with your foot and they are not too tight and not too lose. So far I’ve put them in two of my 20 pairs of running shoes.
I’ve been busy with a lot of work so food has had to turn over to the please-someone-make-it-for-me. I have every intention of cooking something nice and healthy but unlike many of my friends, I don’t consider cooking a fun past-time. I consider it work. I’d rather be reading or writing than chopping and slicing. So I did a run to Whole Foods yesterday and just bought stuff easy to grab that is not so bad for me. It occurs to me that my favorite foods require little prep. I think I have a tendency to think too big (ya think?) Keep it simple. Tonight I am going to a winter raw foods prep class at Catch a Healthy Habit down in Fairfield. I love the gal who is teaching. I always learn something good from her. I buy my tinctures and tea mixtures and they always make me feel better.
And that’s where I am second week of December in the fifty-fifth year of doing me.
Picture of me and Higgins out by the barn. First Snowfall 2014.