Friday, March 30, 2007

Score for The Day

Phoenix - 1 Demons - 0

Kahuna's poignant post about the demons he has conquered only to have them rise again reminds me that all of us have our demons to battle, whether we are Ironmen with a following of thousands or little newbs in training with a handful of "peeps" - whom I am incredibly grateful for. Have I said that recently? How overwhelmed I am by your support? Its true, you guys give me courage in the face of fears that would otherwise defeat me. My demons are many and varied - as I suppose is true for us all. Sometimes they have the voice of my father, sometimes my boss, an ex-husband, an ex-boyfriend, a rude stranger on the street. When they are at their worst, they speak in my own voice. That's when they are toughest to resist. On the run they nag at how slow I am, how I'll get passed by everyone, how clumsy I'll look (and, uh, demon-thingys, I'm not that slow. And even if I was, who cares, you can't hang for more than a mile or two anyway. You don't have the guts to run. Wusses.), in the pool they nag about my form, how everyone can tell that I'm not a "swimmer", that, once again, I'm slow. However, its when I'm on the bike that they have their nastiest fun. "You're going to fall." "You're a spaz." "That's way too much bike for you." And most powerfully, "You are going to get hit by a car." They had me convinced of that one - and variations on its theme - that I wasn't good enough on the bike, that I'd veer into the path of a well wishing motorist, that I'd fall over right when a car was behind me. I know that it happens, that its a real possibility - but I could get hit by a car on a run, or on my way to work, or crossing the street. Mortality gets us all at some point. Allowing fear to stop us from doing what we dream of is letting the bitch-demons get the best of us.

Yesterday, I decided to take those bitches out for a ride. On the road. For 20 miles.

I took off a couple of days to spend with the kids on their Spring Break. (So, there you go Bold, I got a March break too!) I decided to take advantage of my time and the beautiful weather so I got up early, loaded up Pyro and headed a little south to the "country" and a route I had created based on some cyclists' reports. I drove it first to familiarize myself with the route, the terrain (insert demon-thingy nagging "you can't handle those hills. you're going to walk."), the traffic.
There wasn't any shoulder for most of the route but there were very few blind curves, a slow speed limit and almost no cars in sight. Those that were on the road were going slow. So, I decided I could handle it. Well, I kind of decided that. As I parked the car and prepared to ride, I was shaking like a leaf. The Bitches (as they will heretofore be known) were furiously working to keep me off of that road. They shifted to that "concerned" tone - "You don't need to push yourself so far so soon, you should think about safety . . . blah, blah, blah" But, logically, I knew there was no better route than this. That it was now or never. It was time to ride.

I got on Pyro with the thought that I might not make the whole route - and that that was OK, I was just going to start the ride and I could always turn around if I had to. Then, something surprising happened - first, I made the first difficult hill - it was hard, I was going slow and breathing hard, but I made it. Second, a few cars came up behind me, slowed and then easily passed me - plenty of room, absolutely no problem. Then, shockingly, I started to have a blast! I love winding country roads - and this one was beautiful, it climbed up a ridge and into a small town, then followed the ridge for a bit, dropped into the valley, followed the river, then climbed back up and dropped down once more. Flowering trees, new leaves and impossibly green grass kept me company throughout. Most of the motorists seemed to know exactly what to do about me. One exception was a young teenage kid who just couldn't bring himself to go around me. He didn't get up close on me, but, even when I signaled him that he could go, when I could see there was nothing coming up ahead, he just wouldn't go. Finally, I found a driveway and pulled over for him. As he passed I gave him this look like "Happy?" and then promptly fell over. Bad Karma. That was my only brush with death on the ride.

I did get lost, though it turned out to be serendipitous. I was having such a blast cruising along, watching the river, marveling at the beauty of the place, that I missed my turnoff. It took awhile before I realized what I had done and, of course, there were no gas stations or passers by to ask for directions. The last thing I wanted to do was call Hubby and tell him I was lost. Luckily, I found a guy building a house and asked him for directions. Fortunately, the very next road connected to my loop and it was a great road for cycling. There were some vicious hills, but I saw all of one car (the teenager with a passing disability) the entire time. I passed two groups of cyclists there, also, so that proves it was a good road for riding.

(um, p.s. that's not one of the vicious hills, just a nice pic of the road. Just to be sure we're clear)

There was only one other "motorist incident". It happened when I was almost back - a dump truck came up behind me and had to wait about 30 seconds while an oncoming car passed before he could get by me. As he went by, he said out of his open window, "You don't belong on this road, baby." Yes I do. And I'm not your baby.

Afterwards, we took the kids for a ride on Grant's Trail, the place I've been doing my training. I got out the mountain bike and enjoyed going slower. I was proud of the kids - they covered ten miles. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Later, when the high from the ride wore off, when the fire that my courage had built started to die down, the demons tried to come back to play. "Geez, you were slow on that ride - and it was only 22 miles. You're tired now, how are you going to do that Oly distance in September" "You'll never finish the Oly." "You don't belong on that road, baby." Those Bitches are loud, but they're slow. So I went for a run.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I never cease to be amazed at this time of year. I hope that no matter how many springs I see, I will continue to be surpised at its extravangance.


Its easy to Praise the Lord in Spring
When Nature bursts exuberant abundance from every pore
When "Thank you" seeps from our very beings - "Thank you, thank you, thank you" around every corner

If only we could save a piece of shiny gratitude, to spend when summer wilts us,
Or keep a drop of Spring's honey in our mouths, to sweeten winter's bitter cup.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Just Call Me Speedy

Today is one of those days where all your plans fly out the window. It's a good day, nonetheless.

The morning started with sleeping in until 7:00, then getting up to get ready to take Princess, my stepdaughter, to a singing audition at Six Flags. They're doing this open audition for all area kids ages 9 - 12 who want to be stars. Princess wanted to do it and, as we do her bidding (she's too sweet to say no to), we were taking her. I had decided to readjust my training plans to do a swim after we got back, then a ride and run later this afternoon. Soo, I got showered, put on some makeup (this was a big deal), got dressed. I was good to go.

Then we got a phone call. Princess, who was at her mother's, had developed an acute case of stage fright. Her dance wasn't ready, her song wasn't rehearsed enough and, besides, she thought she was coming down with something. Can we do it next weekend, instead? OK, I was aggravated, I could have been getting out of the pool right about then, ready for a nice ride and run, having it all out of the way before noonish. But, as I said, we do her bidding and are happy about it. So there was a change of plans. I decided to get out of dodge quickly and get in my ride and run (the pool was out until 12:00 as the water aerobics ladies have dibs from 8:00 to 12:00). I had to be back by 12:00 so that Hubby could take Princess to softball practice and I could be there to keep Boy Genius from blowing up the house. By the time I ate a little something, drove to the trail and got on the bike it was just after 9:00. I was suspecting that two laps (32 miles) was not going to happen but I thought I'd give it a shot. A short ride is better than no ride.

Off I went. I've gotta tell you, I am finally getting the hang of riding the race horse that is Pyro. I started the ride shaking, as usual, but soon I was picking up the pace and loving it. I've been taking her out for short spins around my hood every time its been nice enough in the evenings - just ten or twenty minutes to get the hang of the clipless, the shifting, to convince myself that she's not, as my dad so aptly put it, a death machine. That has really helped - the clipless were second nature, I had no problem shifting and I felt pretty stable on my little filly until I tried to get into the aero bars - that felt too tippy, so I stayed on the hoods. I was able to crouch down pretty close to aero and I felt more in control. I know I'll get there.

ANYWAY, I actually got up to 20 miles an hour and stayed there for awhile. That felt like about as fast as I could go, though the longer I maintained it, the more it seemed momentum was pulling me forward. The bad thing about that trail is that there aren't any sections longer than 2 or 3 miles before a stop light. And on a nice day like today, there was a ton of pedestrian and "piddling" bike traffic. Not conducive to opening her up, but I had a blast on the longer stretches when I could feel the speed. On the way back, I caught up with this Clydesdale in a cycling jersey (Tour for the Cure) on a mountain bike. Weird combo. He was working it pretty hard, but I passed him like he was standing still. I kind of startled him as he was wearing headphones (?!?!) and didn't hear my "On your left!" (how fun is that to say?). The challenge was on. He caught up to me at the next three lights, got ahead of me as I got my left foot clipped back in and situated my gearing, and all three times, I caught up to him and blew right by him. I guess it was kind of mean to cat and mouse him like that but I was having fun and that's really all that's important. I am the center of my own universe, after all. I thought about thanking him for being my rabbit, but I was afraid that might sound rude.

By the time I finished loop one, it was 11:00 so I opted to leave it at that and go for my run. I really have to get that Saturday ride up. I think it needs to climb to 40 miles before its all said and done. Well, I think I'm ready to hit the road now, so that should make getting in some real miles easier.

My run was good as well. I did the 3.2 miles again (that's the run distance of my first tri in July), keeping my HR between 175 and 180. I did it in 28:52. Right at 9 minute miles. Not as quick as the Death March that was Thursday's run, but, considering that during base, my training pace has been between 12:00 and 13:00 minute miles, and that last spring, my best ever pace was 9:33, I'll take it. I'll so take it. I guess running slower really has made me faster. It will be interesting to see what speed work will do.

The swim was non-existant. I got home to find that Boy Genius was going to the batting cages with one of his friends and that I would actually get to swim alone - so I got my stuff and headed to the pool - only to find that the lap lanes were closed for the day. Like I said, one of those days. So, I went to our local nursery and bought some collard greens and broccoli and planted those little mothers in my garden. I can change plans with the best of them. Happy Spring!

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Question:

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement. I have to admit I have mixed feeling about last nights run. Part of me is amazed and proud that I was able to keep it up for that long without falling over. Be assured, I'm feeling it today. Part of me feels guilty and embarrassed that it was that hard for me and that two fellow team members who are far ahead of me fitness wise were witness to my weakness. Humility sucks. As I've said, though, its water under the bridge and training in the bank.

Which leads me to my question. It's a word problem of sorts. If Phoenix is able to maintain a certain pace for one hour without falling over or having to slow down (sure, she wanted to slow down, but she didn't have to), is that pace her Lactate Threshold - even though her heart rate was well over what "should" be her Lactate Threshold? I suspect my heart rate is relatively high for my age group - the so-called aerobic pace feels ridiculously easy and the "anaerobic" zone feels relatively comfortable. So what do I trust? My heart rate or my perceived effort - what I "can" do or what I'm "supposed" to do? I want to train smart, but I also want to train hard. Any advice is incredibly appreciated.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Get Faster or Die Trying

This evening, I ran with the Big Dogs. Or the Big Sharks, as it were. One of the dudes from my team is attempting to institute a team run on Thursday evenings. I thought I'd lend him my support and show up for what he has dubbed "Donkey Trot". Sounds harmless enough. It was a Death March. Or a Death Run if you will. I thought I might be in over my head when the only people participating were me and two guys. Fast looking guys. I knew I was actually drowning, sinking to the bottom of a deep dark pit of despair when the "Trot" organizer casually mentioned they would run at an 8:00/8:30 pace.


OK, the fastest mile I have ever run in recorded history was the last mile of the St. Pat's Day race last Saturday. 8:19. I was smokin'. I was pourin' it on. I was near death.

So 8:00/8:30 for a one hour training run... oh boy.

Also, I locked my keys in my car. Don't ask.

I tried to use the "I locked my keys in my car" excuse to gracefully bow out of the run. I tried to use the "I'll only slow you guys down" approach. It was not happening.

So I decided to buck up and see what the old girl could do. After all, I was pretty sure it wasn't going to physically kill me and if it wasn't going to physically kill me, what was there to be afraid of? Well...maybe... PAIN?!?!

So we ran. At first, it seemed kind of tough but I was hangin'. Even gettin a few words in here and there. The boys were chatty. With each other. The only time I really felt like they knew I existed was when they asked me how I was doing. Fine. Great. I was doing fine.

To be fair, I think they thought it would be cruel to attempt to engage me in conversation. After all, elderly deaf people six miles away could feel the vibration of my labored breathing, so talking probably seemed pretty painful.

But, I hung. I'm sure they slowed a couple of times for me, but I kept on plugging. Towards the end of the run, they took off until they were two little dots in the distance then came back and ran with me until the end. This wasn't hard for them, clearly. I wanted to kill them. In fact, its a good thing they were faster than me because otherwise . . .

Actually, I'm really grateful to those guys. They cut back their planned training run so that I could get in a killer tempo workout. With a nearly constant heart rate of 180. For an hour. What doesn't kill you makes you faster.

We ran between 6.5 and 6.75 miles (they weren't sure and I wasn't counting) in 58 minutes. That's between an 8:40 and 8:55 pace. I'll take it. Thanks, guys. I owe you one.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Like Nina Done Sang It. . .

Birds flyin' high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me
yeah, its a new dawn its a new day its a new life for me ooooooooh

This was my song this morning as I headed out to do a four mile run with intervals. I love intervals. I love that I've finally graduated to build phase so I can leave that low heart rate crap to my long run where it belongs. I love that its spring - the Forsythia are bursting out of their britches, the Daffodils are exploding out the ground, the Tulip trees are beginning to produce their extravagant blossoms. Its a new dawn, folks.

Something else I've discovered I love - racing. Saturday's race turned a corner for me. I've only done one other race - Race for the Cure back in the day when Boy Genius was Baby Genius and I was fifteen pounds heavier and that was really a means to an end - a finish line that proved that I could do it, that I had trained and I ran a 5k and there you go. I was dreaming for a 10:00 minute mile back then and I came close. But it really wasn't fun. Proving something is often empty. After that, I stayed away from races. What was the point when I was at the back of the pack, embarrassed to be bigger than I thought I should be, to be running slower than I thought I should run (which, really, wasn't that slow. I made the mistake of comparing myself to Boy Genius's dad - who ran in the front of the pack) - I might as well just push myself on those anonymous training runs and be done with it.

But Saturday, I discovered something else. I discovered that, unless your one of the elite gazelles, the only person you're racing is yourself. You race the runner you were for the right to be the runner you've become. And the environment of a race is a much more fitting venue for such an epic event as taking yourself on. The buzz is contagious, the miles and the cheers and the crowd all help you to push past what you'd ever do on a training run.

The most beautiful thing about racing yourself is that, as you pull ahead fighting to go faster, your opponent doesn't begrudge your victory. In fact, you may hear her say, as she gasps for air, "you go girl, you fly." And when you cross the line, looking at a time you never thought you'd see in a million years, she's the one who's cheering the loudest. She wants you to leave her in the dust, because that proves that everything she's worked and sweat and cried and bled for made her more than what she was. I am more today than I was then. And tomorrow, I hope I'm more than I am today.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Luck of the Irish

I'm pleased. I'm very very pleased.
Thanks to Bold, Vickie and FeLady for your advice on taper. I went in fresh and feel it really helped. The day before I carbo loaded by eating a bit more fruit than usual, having brown rice with lunch and made a really yummy spaghetti dish with whole wheat pasta, kale, mushrooms, garlic, onions and proscuitto for dinner. I had oatmeal and berries at 6:00 a.m. before the race and felt ready to go.

The race went as follows:

Mile Pace HR
1 11:11 150 - 160
2 9:27 170-175
3 9:29 175
4 9:18 180
5 8:19 185-190

Final Time: 47:45

The first mile was painfully slow because we made the mistake of registering as non-competative (won't do that again) and had to start in the back. There were a ton of people and getting around them all proved challenging. The good part about it was it made us feel very fast passing all those people. Though it was my goal to start out easy, I think I could have easily shaved at least a minute off of that first mile and still been on target.

There were a couple of long gradual hills that screwed around with my heart rate a bit, but I felt strong throughout. I'm not sure if the pace on my last mile shows I should have done previous miles a bit faster. I was definately going all out that last mile. About a half a mile into it, I had to back off just a touch because I knew there was no way I could hold it. When the finish line was in sight, I picked it up again and ran like there was no tomorrow until I reached it. The other bummer about running non-competative is that everyone stopped when they got to the finish - so there was a traffic jam and I had to stop about 10 feet from the actual finish. I stopped my watch there - so there might have been another five or ten seconds on that, but maybe not. The clog certainly slowed me down before I stopped my watch.

Did I give it everything? I'm not sure. When I stopped, my legs almost buckled beneath me for a second, but I recovered very quickly. As soon as we got to the hospitality area and had an energy drink, I felt great. After a Luna bar and a free beer (at 10:30 in the morning) I felt even better.

We had a nice Irish lunch at Helen Fitzgerald's, I got a great massage, took a nap then went out for dinner and dancing to celebrate our three year dating anniversary. It doesn't get any better than that.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I have this idea . . .

I have this idea that's been rubbing around my brain for the last several weeks. Its rather grandiose but I can't shake it.

You see . . .

Someone near and dear to me is in the long and difficult process of extricating herself and recovering from an abusive marriage. The abuse was mostly emotional - which is plenty. In fact, those scars are often deeper and more secret than those left from physical violence. And its so much easier to convince yourself they never happened, that you made it all up, that you're just too sensitive. She's stuck in this deep pit of denial and pain and absolutely lacking any ability to advocate for herself. It hurts me to see her this way - she's really a shadow of the person I've known and admired (and still do).

I am somewhat familiar with that downward spiral that abuse sets in motion - the seemingly endless cycle of abusive and/or lousy relationships that lands you solidly in a well of depression, listlessness, and low self esteem. I know what it is to feel that I deserve less than nothing, that happiness is simply not my due, that, somehow, all the bad things that are happening are all my fault. Knowing hasn't helped me to help her. In fact, it makes it more frustrating. It has, however, given birth to this idea.

For me, one of the key elements in climbing out of that well was physical activity. I started running. And, as I felt physically stronger, as I watched myself surpass what I thought I could achieve, I started to become emotionally and mentally stronger as well. As the miles piled onto my running shoes, my confidence in who I was and what I could achieve grew. I'm not pretending that it was all running. It was a lot of things including therapy, support of friends and family, love of my son and wanting better for him. But running helped fuel that fire. Running was the physical proof that I could achieve something. It was an escape. It was a source of endorphins. It was an identity I could be proud of. I was a runner. I would often be embarrassed by my slowness or cringe at how I compared physically to other "runners", but in my gut I knew that it didn't matter. I earned the miles as much as anyone else.

Reading Stronger's blog reinforced that idea that getting stronger physically makes a person feel stronger inside. Though, I think that she's been strong from the get go. If you haven't already, check out her blog.

So, I wonder how could that feeling of empowerment be passed on to other women who feel defeated - or women who want to help those who suffer defeat. I thought of a "Team in Training" type concept, only one that would focus on survivors of domestic abuse and also on women who wanted to help raise money for survivors. It could offer training to women who want to compete in something as small as a 5k or something as large as a marathon or a triathlon. It would offer support and encouragement, maybe even help in gearing up. I have no illusions that women in the midst of immediate danger would want to participate in something like this - but for those like my friend, who are out of the frying pan, it could help put them on the road to healing and actually feeling good about themselves again.

I have no idea how I would make something like this happen, but the thought of it won't go away. If any of you know of an organization that does this kind of thing or have any ideas or feedback, it would be much appreciated.

I remember how I felt the first time I ran 3 miles without stopping. It seemed so far, something I could never be capable of. When I did it, I felt like I could do anything. Ironically, the woman who is now in trouble, was the one who ran with me that day, telling me I could do it, distracting me from my discomfort with conversation. This was long before she entered the black hole that became her marriage, when she was feeling strong and capable and confident. I would do anything to give that back to her.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Looking for Advice

Sooo, I have a race on Saturday. Kind of. Its a five mile St. Patrick's Day run. I'm entered as a non-competative runner but I do want to run it as a time trial. Should I taper at all for this? I've already decreased my running volume and increased intensity as I'm beginning the build phase. And what about post-race recovery? Should I continue training as usual or cut back or what?

Also, do they make training wheels for tri-bikes? Kidding. Kind of.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Benevolent Bitch

Triathlon is like a benevolent but ruthless goddess - she turns you into more than you ever thought you'd be, but she isn't above regularly kicking your ass to keep you humble. Today, the goddess and I did a little dance.

The Swim

The swim was . . . OK. I feel like I've lost some ground since I got sick and since I've been working on the form adjustments Major Payne (credit to Bolder for the monicker) gave me. However, I also feel like I'm gaining it back. I was able to get in a mile total with a few rest stops intermingled. It was fine. Nothing stellar. The frustrating thing about Saturday morning swims is the limited time available. The gym opens at 7:00 am - and the pool usually doesn't open until 5 or 10 minutes after that - and the lap swimmers have to make way for the water aerobics class at 7:50. So you have about 40, maybe 45 minutes to get a good swim in. But, it is what it is and I'm not too unhappy about the way it went down this morning.

The Bike

Ah, yes . . . the bike. Pyro is the Lady Triathlon's favorite instrument for teaching me humility. At the start of my ride, I decided to experiment with unclipping my right foot to stop rather than my left - for some reason this pedal is much easier to unclip from, though the bike guy said he set both to the lightest resistance - that so didn't work. I'm not sure why, but when I stopped, I immediately tipped over to my left and reskinned my knee. Pretty.

After my spill, I picked myself up, got it together and took off. The very best news about my ride is that I had fun. The trail is flat and there are no cars to worry about except for the places where it crosses streets and those all have traffic lights.

I was able to keep the speed at about 15mph without a lot of effort and still felt like I had control. Once, I opened it up and got up to about 18mph before I decided that it was too scary. Still, though that took more effort, I felt like I had plenty of juice to go faster, just not enough guts. So thats cool.

Then, there was a near wipe out. It went like this: I was getting thirsty. So I reached for my water bottle. I'd done this successfully twice on my ride, so I was starting to believe that I could do it. Wrong. I think that I was thinking too much. I slowed down too much. I couldn't get the bottle back in the cage. I freaked out. I started swirving all over and started to travel in the direction of the ground - rubber side was threatening to go up. Thankfully, my right foot was instantly free of the pedals and on the ground, desparately trying to stop my forward/sideways trajectory. Then, a miracle occurred. I remembered that Pyro came equipped with brakes. Two of them, to be exact. One for the front, and one for the back. Miraculous. I used them. I stopped. I didn't cry. I did however sustain an injury. When my foot went down in a desparate attempt to brake "Flinstone Style", I came down pretty hard on the top tube (I don't even know if that's the right terminology, but you get the idea). If I was a guy, I wouldv'e racked myself. I've never been more thankful to be female. I did however inflict a nasty bruise in the upper thigh area, dangerously close to my tender parts. Ouch. The bike seat managed to put much unwelcome pressure on my new owey. Double Ouch. I made the executive decision to cut my ride to one lap (16miles) rather than the two I had planned (or really hoped for, I know better than to "plan" when it comes to a bike ride. I plan to start. That's the best I can do). I made it back to my car, probably making more of the discomfort than I needed to - but damn that pride hurt. There's that bitch Humility again. Bite me, humility.

The Run

Since my bike was cut short, I decided to go for a bit more of a run than planned. 5k to be exact. And this run was my moment of glory for the day. The run was Lady Triathlon's way of building me back up before I had to go back out into the "real world". The morning had warmed to a glorious sunny 60 degrees. I changed into my running shorts and pulled off my layers down to my short sleeves and took off. I ran a negative split by heart rate and managed to come in at 31:13. And I didn't stop the stopwatch at the traffic lights. So I figure I did it right around 30 min. That's my best 5k time. Ever. After I swam a mile and biked 16. I was officially feeling like a bad ass again.

Thanks, Lady. I needed that.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Rest Day

I'm finally feeling up to par. I know this because today is my rest day and I feel restless. I've only missed one of my regular workouts - and it was a planned miss, so I was expecting it - and I'm not tired and I can't wait for my long swim/bike/run tomorrow. Yeah for recovering and for kicking The Crud's butt.

I also think I may have my 'unhealthy carb' cravings kicked. At least yesterday, I had no problems - didn't even want a cookie, The Five O'Clock Feeding Frenzy never happened - we went out to eat and I didn't feel the need to stuff my face - left more than half of my dinner for today's lunch and didn't die for dessert. So, that was cool. It seems that if I include a protein at every meal and snack, and have fruit for snack and vegetable based meals, it keeps everything on an even keel. Like what you said, Bold. More protein. Also, making sure I got plenty of healthy carbs in the way of fruit seemed to help. I guess my body is craving carbs so, if I stock it with the good stuff, it won't ask for the bad stuff. Not that I'll never indulge in the "bad stuff", but I can feel like I have control over whether I say yes or no to the Cookie Monster. The crazy thing about The Feeding Frenzy is that I feel pretty much out of control - my body is demanding food and whatever is in sight is fair game.

Also - I registered for my "A" race, the Lake St. Louis Triathlon - Olympic Distance. Yikes. I'm really doing this. OK, deep breath - its in September, my training is going well and I will be ready. And if I'm not ready, I'm going to start anyway. I can't control all the factors that may or may not get me to the Finish Line, but I can sure as hell get myself to the Start. Barring hurricanes, violent illness or other God Forbid occurrences. I will Start. That's all anyone can promise.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Virtual Insanity

Triathletes are crazy. I realize this isn't big news to most of you. Its not really even big news to me, but the realization really sunk in yesterday -from obsessing about food, to workouts that lead to vomit, to getting excited about having an "awesome" bike accident.

Let me fill you in on the details. Yesterday I was, as you know obsessing about what I eat - or rather obsessing about not wanting to obsess about what I eat. Make sense? Didn't think so. But, there it was - I posted, I got some advice from you fine folks - Thanks Bolder and Jeff - and I felt better.

Which leads me to my spin workout last night. I worked hard. In fact, I worked so hard that at the end, when Troy had us do 3 sets of 10 sec 90% 10 sec 95% and 10 sec 100%, on my final set, I threw up a little. In my mouth. It was . . . gross. Then, when Troy said we were done, I ran to the bathroom and dry heaved. Also gross. But that's not the crazy part. The crazy part is that I felt kind of . . . proud. I mean I've heard of other athletes running or spinning or whatever so hard they threw up. I've never thought I was capable of pushing myself that hard. And, yeah, I should've eaten less before the workout, but still - I feel like I've joined a club. The Athletes Who Are So Hard Core They Throw Up club. And judging from the way Hubby looked at me when I told him what happened (I was almost giddy with endorphins and exhaustion and sheer amazement), its a club full of crazy people. Like me.

But, lest you think I've gone over the edge, I include an example of the truly hard core below. This dude races for my team and was in a cycling accident on Tuesday. This is his description of said accident. I don't know whether to be inspired or terrified.

"I have been in the ER since 1 because I wrecked my new black beauty and it was awesome. I endoed and landed on my face (i look like a B.A.) and like everybody that was driving stopped and called an ambulance. Man, they said it looked awesome. Which is why I couldn't make it. The bike seems to be in pretty good shape. Since I couldn't remember most of what happened (landing on my head an all) they took me in for a CAT scan and an MRI for my hand and wrist and X-Ray for my leg and knee which I couldn't move. And all I kept asking was "How fast did I take that corner?" and "I can't go to the ER because I have swimming practice!" I didn't have swim practice I was just shook up."

Mmm hmmm. That about sums it up. Triathletes are some crazy mo-fos. God, I love you people.

Finally, this morning I went out for a TEMPO RUN!!! It felt so good to let my legs run. Base Training is over - Build Phase has begun. What a way to start - with puke in my mouth.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Fat Monster

Nytro's Post about Cadbury Eggs has me thinking. I've been keeping track of calories off and on on fitday. Ironically, the days I'm trying to keep a lid on it are the days that the fabled Feeding Frenzy kicks in around 5:30 and I proceed to, seemingly without control, eat everything within a ten mile radius. Well, not everything - I tend to stick to plan as far as what I eat, just now how much. And I've been eating cereal again - which is not in the plan. And a few other things not on plan - like the occasional cookie or piece of chocolate. And way too many nuts and raisins. None of that is life changing, none of it is really causing the scale to creep up. Its not making it go down, but there is no real tragedy here. I'm on the low end of a healthy weight. I would love to lose some body fat before my uniform gets here. At the very least, before my first race. I'm at about 20% right now which is not unhealthy, per se, but its not real pretty either. Still, why am I so worried about this? As long as I'm eating the healthy stuff with very occasional forays into the sweet stuff I love, shouldn't my training take care of the rest?

I guess the real issue here is motivation. I'm very motivated to train - I enjoy it and I don't want footprints on my back come race day. I'm very motivated to eat healthy food - I also enjoy it and I like the way I feel when I eat "clean". I'm not so motivated to be hungry. Even a little bit hungry sucks in my book. Especially when my brain pipes in: "What's the problem? You're not overweight. You look pretty good in those jeans, if I may say so. And you are working that body like a crazy woman. So have a cookie. I like cookies." I'm not sure a perfectly ripped body is worth going forever without chocolate. Or even going without chocolate for a week. Or skipping a couple of glasses of wine on the weekend. And it definately doesn't feel worth being hungry. I may change my mind on race day when my "famine insurance" is spooging over my shorts but I'm just not feelin' it now.

Crazy? Reasonable? The first time I've sounded sane since I started all this? I dunno. I'm going to have a cookie.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Hour of Payne

I met my swim coach, Ms. Payne (pronounced pain) on Saturday. This woman was ripped. That, plus the fact that she swam a mile in 19:30 (!?!?! WTF ?!?!?), made her a very intimidating picture to soft, non-swimmer me. My fear, it turns out, was relatively unfounded. She actually made me feel very comfortable in the water, she didn't make me swim harder than I could handle, and she pointed out a few things that I need to work on. OK, a LOT of things I need to work on. My head is too low, I'm twisting my arm upon entry to go in thumb first (???), I bend my knees on the kick, I breathe at 5:00 and 7:00 instead of 3:00 and 9:00, and I dig too deep and too far outside of my body. Oh, and my left arm crosses center sometimes. Yeah.

The good news is, I do one thing right. My rotation is very good. So there.

It was amazing though, how seemingly small tweaks equal big results. The first thing she changed was my kick - and I swear I went from rowboat to motor boat almost immediately. That change enabled me to do one armed drills for an entire length - a feat I had never been able to manage before. The problem is, there's so much to remember in the water and I'm not sure how I can ever implement everything she gave me.

I worked the drills this morning before my intervals and I definitely notice an improvement in my speed - I didn't time anything, but I could feel myself moving faster - and I was kicking the guy in the next lane's butt. I used to only kick "Floaty Lady's" butt. Floaty Lady is this elderly, relatively rotund woman who swims nearly everyday - at least every day I swim, she's there. You've got to honor the woman's commitment if not her form. I dubbed her Floaty Lady because she just sort of floats and moves her arms and legs in semi-freestyle type movements. I shouldn't make fun, but, especially underwater, its an amusing picture. And, she makes me look fast. But then, my seven year old passed her doing the dog paddle, so, you get the idea. But I digress.

The discouraging part of my Hour of Payne is that I couldn't seem to "swim easy" this morning. For sure I felt myself gliding through the water - and I could still be feeling some fatigue from my recent battle with The Crud. (Phoenix v. Crud - I finally won that showdown, but it took some doing.) STILL, I couldn't get into that place I found where I can just swim and breathe and go forever. I was up to a mile - feeling winded but like I definitely had some more in me - just a week or two ago. This morning, 200 felt exhausting. Do you think its just my muscles learning new tricks? Or maybe I'm still doing it wrong (I vote for this one)? My coach is unavailable for at least two weeks so I have some time to mull over this in the water.

Friday, March 2, 2007

I Did It!

Yesterday evening, when I went to pick up my son, Boy Genius (more on the name later), from After-School care, I was informed that there was no school today. Records Day. WTF?!?! So, I did some quick thinking and some quick calling to Boss Man and got this morning off - to keep an eye on Boy Genius and to get some much needed rest. I proceeded to go home, call Hubby and beg him to order pizza, and go straight to bed. There I stayed for fourteen hours and I wish I could say I felt better when I rolled out of bed at 8:00 this morning, but I really didn't.

However, I am nothing if not determined. And the sun was shining (though it was VERY windy) and it was above 40. Barely. So I bundled up Boy Genius, bundled myself up, and we got on our bikes and rode to the school. He played in the playground and I tooled around the parking lot, getting the feel for the bike, practicing come in and out of aero, shifting, braking, etc. Once I felt comfy, I pulled my Cycling Shoes out of my backpack, and went down to the track. My first idea was that I would try to ride on the grassy area in the middle but it was way too soft. So, after I practiced coming in and out of the pedals forty times on each foot. Yes, forty. I read that somewhere and after my Last Fall, I wasn't taking any chances. Then, I took a deep breath, I clipped in with one foot, and I took off. Then I clipped in with the other foot. And I was still upright. Still rubber side down. I couldn't believe it! I was riding clipless (that sounds kinda dirty) and I was surviving it! I rode around the track for about 20 minutes, clipping out, stopping, starting, getting comfy. My son was ready to go before I felt like I'd mastered it, but I did it! It felt great.

Now, I wish I could say I didn't fall at all, but that would be a lie. And George Washington taught me to never tell a lie. I did sort of fall right at the end. When Boy Genius was watching, of course. I'm not really sure how I managed it, really. I'd already stopped, already clipped out of my left pedal. All I can figure is that I naturally lean to the right when I stop so I must have leaned and, being still clipped in, I tipped. Mmm hmm. Very cool, very inspiring. B.G. got a kick out of it. And no damage was done, I just reskinned my knee a bit. A little blood, but no pain. I'm brave. Thank God, because with my grace - or lack thereof - I need some Courage!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Sinking into the Depths of "The Crud"

Thanks to all that replied yesterday.

I have to agree that its easier to write when you think no body's reading - but its so much more rewarding to write when you know somebody is. I suppose I (we) do this for a variety of reasons. It really helps to get things off of your chest, vent, and log interesting things that happened in training. Its cool to go back later and re-read where you were just a few months ago. Essentially, though, there's also this sense of community - some of you have large communities, some of us have small, but its still gratifying to know that someone is listening, someone is interested in how things are going for you and what you have to say, and someone is out there to offer advice when you feel lost - or when you didn't even know you were lost until you were given directions. And someone is out there sharing their own struggles on their blog and, again, you just don't feel like you're going it alone.

Training for a triathlon borders on insanity - certainly for the general population. And, while I can't speak for the rest of you out there, I'll venture to say I'm not alone in feeling like nobody in my immediate surroundings really wants to hear the gory details of my training, or my latest insecurity or vent or laugh or whatever is going on in the triathlon trenches on any particular day. Its beyond awesome to know that there are other people out there in the trenches, plugging away like me and its amazing to receive feedback and advice and encouragement from those folks - some hundreds of miles away. It makes you feel *sniff* supported. And, other than my favorite sports bra, nothing has made me feel more supported than feedback from you guys out there (you too, Hubby). So thank you, thank you, thank you!

On a dimmer note, I'm truly succumbing to "The Crud". My dreams of another "easy run" this morning quickly faded when I actually tried to get out of bed. And, on top of it, work is this incredible Festival of Madness. So, I have no training stories to tell today. I'm sure I'll have something after my meeting with swim coach, L. Payne. Pronounced "pain". I'm not making this up. Gulp. Wish me luck.