Sunday, December 31, 2006

Auld Lang Syne

This morning, I went for a beautiful long run, on a route I'd created ( almost a year ago but never attempted because it seemed too long, too hilly, too ambitious. It was hilly, to be sure - I ended up walking up a lot of the monstrous ones, a fact I'd like to blame on that facist heart rate monitor but I have to concede I would have walked many of them even if I was running at my "preferred pace". It was a gorgeous morning - 52 (shorts and t-shirt weather), partly sunny, the birds were signing. It was beyond marvelous. And I was only bothered every 15 minutes or so by how freaking slow I was moving (facist heart rate monitor). On the last 20 minutes or so of the run, I just gave up and cruised at my "preferred pace". Still slow, but at least it feels natural. At least I'm not being passed by infants on their tricycles and wheezing 80 year old men. The run took me down to the entrance of a State Park near us, through hills and trees and downright woodsy terrain. I can't think of a better way to have spent the last morning of 2006.

At one point, a pack of cyclist whirred past me. They took the hill I was laboring on at a seemingly effortless pace. They were a thing of beauty, all moving together, so quick and silent it was like they were flying. Someday, I want to look like that on my bike. Someday.

Yesterday's swim also went well. I did a ladder workout again - 25, 50,75, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200. Then, drum roll please, I finished it off by swimming a 400. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I swam 400 yards without stopping. For me, that is a big deal. Also lovely, as it is the distance for my first race in May. I will grant you that I would like to swim that 400 much more swiftly, but its nice to know I'll be able to do it.

My bike ride was less graceful, but I kept at it for an hour, hitting some pretty impressive hills. I learned at the bike shop that a road bike will be easier to get up the hills than Old Bessy (my mountain bike). That's encouraging. And maybe a stint of training on Old Bessy will be good for my legs - get them stronger and better able to endure the big miles. We'll see. Hubby remembered yesterday that his friend, Bob and his wife used to do a lot of biking, and that they have a couple of road bikes hanging in the garage that never get used. Hmmmm. He put in a call to Bob to see if he'd be open to renting them to us, possibly selling. Could be a solution.

Happy New Year to the whole world. I hope the good things of this year are multiplied and the bad things diminished. I hope that our journey leads us to places we'd never dreamed possible.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Another lesson taught by Lady Tri: as soon as you start feeling overly confident about something, the rug will be yanked out from under you.

After a great swim on Saturday (ladder workout: 25, 50, 100, 125, 150, 200, 100, 50), feeling in the zone, relaxed and happy in the water, I was excited to hit the pool last night. Visions of swimming 400yds without stopping (the distance of my first race in May) danced in my confident little brain. It wasn't happening. I swam 25yds to warm up and I knew that I was wiped. I managed to swim 100 and a 150, but all other efforts stopped at 25 or 50 yards. I felt weak. I felt out of breath. I felt like my form sucked ass. I felt discouraged and wussy and anything but athletic. I was only in the pool a little more than 30 min - 20 min shy of my planned workout. I felt like a quitter.

But, when the workout was done, Hubby and I went down the slide. That was fun. Fun is still important.

And this morning my run went pretty well - it may be my imagination, but I think my heart rate is coming down - It didn't shoot up as high on the hills, it was much easier to keep it in range on the flats and downhills. You win some, you lose some, you stay at the middle of the pack in some.

Now, I'm exhausted and ready for my scheduled day off of training tomorrow. Sleep. Ummmm, that sounds delicious.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Bike

I have a confession to make. I'm obsessed with getting a new bike. Mostly because there is just no way we can afford it right now - and also because I have to keep my desire fairly secret because . . . did I mention there is no way we can afford it right now. The last thing I want is for my wonderful husband to feel guilty about not being able to give me what I want. I also don't want my desire for the bike to be proof that this whole triathlon thing is a bad idea. I'm sure my 5 am stint on the trainer this morning - the very noisy trainer - was proof enough for him. I suppose there's just no way he can sleep through the unending whirring of my labor on the trainer - not to mention Troy Jacobson hollering "30 more seconds!" from the television. He was a little grumpy this morning.

But I digress. See, my bike is ok. Its fine. Its heavy. Its old. Its a mountain bike. From Sears. OK. That's doable, right? Truth be told, its an obstacle I'm not willing to face right now. What if we simply can't afford it - ever - or at least not before my planned races? What if my bike falls apart on the race course? What if all the other triathletes sneer at me and my poor bike? What if we don't get invited to the post race party because we're just not cool enough? I certainly can't bring myself to try to participate in any group rides - even though I sorely need some pointers.

I'm starting to get a feel for the water - I'm even laboring under the delusion that I might turn into a pretty decent swimmer. The bike is another story. I still feel awkward and a little bit afraid up there - and stopping at a stop sign and then trying to get going again has proven embarrassing on more than one occasion. What am I, seven years old? I really need to feel one with my bike - but I'm a little bit unhappy with it right now. Maybe I'm just putting all my fears of inferiority onto my bike - making my bike the one whose "not good enough", my bike responsible for my slower than molasses on a cold day bike times. Its not my fault - its the bike's fault. Poor baby. Its shaken off the rust and stiffness of years of neglect to try and help me through this thing and it gets nothing but disrespect from me. Maybe we should seek counseling, my bike and I. Maybe I should just let it go and keep it going - and trust that if I truly need a new bike, one will become available to me. Did I mention I'm a worrier?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


My swimming is really improving. I went with Hubby to the pool Monday night and was able to swim 150 yds without stopping. Not bad when you consider the first time I got in the pool, Saturday after Thanksgiving, I could only do 25 yds before stopping to catch my breath.

This morning, I did a swim workout from It was a total of 500 yds, about what I've been swimming, but in much less time than I usually take. I was in the pool for about 15 min. and got out pretty beat. Still, the 100's that bookended the workout felt relatively easy. I'm encouraged.

Tonight, I'm going to hop on the bike with the trainer and do a Spinervals video. That's really fun - and a little grueling. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Long Run

Today was a long run - well long for me, one hour. My goal is to increase this gradually to 90 min. Much more than that and training takes over my life rather than enhancing it. My goal for this run, and all my long runs for at least a month, was to keep the old heart rate in the aerobic zone. This, unfortunately, can be an exercise in frustration. I end up having to go back to my shuffling days for most of the run - especially for the uphills which I usually end up walking part of. This is a major assault on my pride. Cars pass, I cringe - I want to holler "I can run faster than this, its this pesky heart rate thing!" This is another element of training for the tri: accepting my limitations. Accepting that I'm not fast, that my fitness is not as excellent as I imagined it to be, that I have to stop a lot when I swim, that my thighs burn on the hills when I bike. These are the things I'm working to improve, but it won't happen overnight. Accepting the journey, accepting that its going to be a slow one, accepting that it will take me somewhere but that the destination is really not up to me. I'm only along for the ride.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


So, yesterday my alarm clock didn't go off and I missed my swim. I was really bummed, which is a good sign. My disappointment made me more determined to get out the door this morning - the plan went as follows: 1) Get up at 6:00, pack my backpack with suit, goggles, cap, towel and water. 2) Ride my bike to the pool and swim for 45 min. 3) Take off from the pool and bike for 45 (with a stop back home to drop off my backpack). It was a good plan. I liked the plan. Unfortunately,the plan didn't happen the way I anticipated. 1) The alarm clock didn't go off AGAIN - it keeps cutting out in the middle of the night so at 6:00 it said it was 1:00. I can't see the thing, anyway, without my contacts, so when I opened my eyes this morning and saw the first glow of daylight peeking in my window, I knew I was screwed. It was almost 7:00. The pool's lap time was 7:00 to 7:50. The bike ride to the pool was out. 2) I rushed to get my suit on, get dressed over it, grab a water bottle, and other necessities and got out the door 3) I was in the pool at 7:25. 25 minutes to swim. Bummer.

But I had a good swim. I'm finally starting to get the feel for the water. I swam more laps in less time than my last swim. And I improved my time on 25yds by 8 seconds. That's the beautiful thing about being new at something. Improvements happen in leaps and bounds. The pool was nearly deserted and it felt both luxurious and awkward. I felt self conscious being the only one in the pool for the life gaurd to watch. I wandered if she was critiquing my stroke, if she was silently making fun of the fact that I had to stop, out of breath, after 100 slow yards. These are the demons that will kill me on the race course. I'm not sure what to do with them other than shut them out, try to ignore them, tell them to shut up. I don't really believe in "The Devil" persay, but those little voices are the closest things to it. How much would have been accomplished in this world if not for those self defeating devils? World Peace? Cures for hosts of diseases? How many people would conquer - or never begin - bad habits that lead them down paths of destruction? Maybe, on the most fundemental level, that's what this whole journey is about for me - conquering those critical little beasts that like to feed on my confidence, my self-worth, my peace. I've come a long way in my life towards getting rid of them, but they're still there. Still lurking around the glow of the confident fire I've built for myself, sneering at me when I stray too far from it's heat.

After the pool, I drove home, got ready for my bike leg and went out for my planned 45 min. ride. The bike was according to plan, though my heart rate, the beligerent little shit, was way over what it was "supposed" to be. Still, I find that I'm comfortable exercising around 160, though my aerobic range is supposed to be 135-145. Don't know why. Just is. I did notice much more burn in my quads on the hills than the last time I was able to ride outside. Obviously, I need to keep at those hills. The courses of all but one of the races I'm doing this summer are hilly.

When my bike ride was done, I got a wild hair. My legs wanted to run. I shouldn't have indulged them, but I did. I parked the bike in my driveway and headed out for a jog. My concession to injury prevention was running on the grass instead of the sidewalk. I don't know why I never thought of that before - with my cranky knees, you'd think I wouldn've explored that option. Oh well, it was fun today. I only ran about a mile and a half. I've got my long run tomorrow and I can't sleep all day today. I understand, now, why that part of the brick is so important. My legs just didn't know what to do for awhile when I got off the bike. It was the oddest feeling.

Fun day. I hope I don't pay for it tomorrow, but, what the hell.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Running in the Dark

5:00 am - the alarm rings. Husband moans, dog stirs, I get up. My routine gets me through the next few minutes and into my running clothes. The weather channel says its 45 degrees out. Warm. I stick with my shorts and my New Balance running top I got for my birthday. The thing is amazing - I swear it has a thermostat. If its 40, it feels warm but not too hot - if its 20, still warm. Good stuff. Plus its hot pink. Keeps me feeling like a girl. Today's run was four miles of hills with five sets of intervals in the first couple of miles. The intervals were hard - they inevitably come when I reach a hill and I gasp to the top listening desperately for the beep of my watch telling me to relax, telling me to rest two whole minutes before we do it all again. Still, I enjoy them in a sadistic kind of way, feeling my breath rip through my lungs, feeling my legs give as much juice as they think they can muster (I think there's more in there they're not telling about). The last miles were cruise time. My favorite kind of miles. I glanced at my heart rate monitor a couple of times - this is a new element in my training, one I'm not so happy about, but more on that another day - noted my heart rate was too high for "aerobic" range and kept right on going. My running partner, Dudley (my dog), loping easily at my side. Doing what we do.

I truly love to run. Not because I'm fast. Not because it doesn't hurt a little sometimes. Not because its easy. I just love it. Remember, why is not important. Why gets in the way. There is no why, most of the time. I just love it.

I first started running, at least regularly, when my son was about six months old. We got a jogging stroller and off I went. Those first miles were agonizing. "Run"(jog-shuffle) 30 seconds, gasp until you can breath, "Run"(jog-shuffle) 30 seconds, etc., etc., and on and on until I could run a minute then five then ten then twenty then three miles then five. It was a miracle to me that my body could progress that much. I ran steadily for two years and then something happened. I started to obsess about numbers - how fast, how far, how many calories, how many miles a week. The numbers were the badge I was determined to wear - and my badge was not that impressive compared to other runners - my then husband included- so I obsessed. I eventually increased my long run to ten miles - two greuling hours of pavement pounding. Then I started to get sick - all the time. In my two years of regular running I had been surprised by how infrequently I got colds - and by how quickly I could get over them. Suddenly, I was being felled at least once a month with sore throats, raspy lungs, infections. And my joy was gone. I didn't smell the air anymore when I ran, I didn't smile at people or make up stories about them in my head as I ran passed. I didn't notice what color the leaves were anymore or the way the air felt in my face. So I quit.

I started running again sporadically a few months after but I shied away from obsession by avoiding any semblance of routine or regularity in my running. I'd run once one week, three times the next, whenever I felt like it. The joy was back but the fitness was less than optimal. Still, that sort of running got me through a divorce, a couple of years of single motherhood, a new romance, and finally, marriage to a man more wonderful than I could have imagined. Then married life hit, migraines began, suddenly I was mom in a house of five instead of only two - excuses, excuses - and running went by the wayside for almost a year. Long story short (too late) - I got tired of being tired, tired of not being able to fit into my jeans and so I began the journey again. It started just like it had seven years before - 30 seconds "run"(jog shuggle) gasp, repeat. But so far I haven't lost the joy. Sometimes, the numbers creep in on me, chanting in my head, threatening to break me. But I can usually chase them away. And if I can't, I can be happy enough saying that the numbers today are better than the numbers a year ago - or five years ago.

Along the way, I've discovered I have exercise induced asthma - conquered first by an inhaler and later and more effectively by diet (read Dr. Joel Furhman's Eat to Live - it will change your life). I've lost twelve pounds and, as I said before, fallen out of love with what I thought was my lifelong passion. And I'm still here. And I'm still running. Most of the time, I run in the dark. But all of the time, I run because it makes me happy - even if I can't see where I'm going.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What am I doing?

In short - I am trying to answer my own question. What am I doing. Not so much why am I doing it. Why is subjective, ever-changing and unimportant. What is always the key. I'm evolving. This is a truth for me - always has been. If I stop evolving, if I stagnate, I die. Simple. A pain in the ass. But true.

I started the adult portion of my life pretty sure of what I was doing - or at least what I wanted to do. I was a theatre person. I was an actor. It was the one thing I was sure of - so sure that I spent seven years of my life studying it from BFA to MFA - meaningless letters to meaningless letters. Spent some time teaching it part time - more time doing it, sometimes for money sometimes just for the thrill of seeing my name in the paper and reading some good - and some bad - reviews.

Fast forward 20 years to now - minus one year - and you find a discontented, bitter, tired shell of an actor. Done. Finis. I fell out of love. So now, what.

The word comes from the ashes of what I was certain of - and makes no sense. Triathlon. So there it is. Its what I'm doing. Its not all I'm doing - I do a lot. I work in a law office by day - I'm a mom, a step-mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a neighbor. I'm a gardener - especially in the spring when POTENTIAL is heavy in the air. I've got a dog. I like to cook. I'm a health freak - especially about what I eat. But over all of it, for some unknown, cosmic reason, is Triathlon. Not Ironman. Not even Olympic - yet. Just Sprint. Just Swim Bike Run. For an hour - or, for me a couple of hours. Did I mention that I'm slow? But, again, there it is. I'm doing it.

If anyone is reading this, you are my witness. I'm doing it.