21 Day Challenge

Cheers and hello to everyone from your often absent for long periods friend (me).  It’s been a long cold winter, one surgery done, and recovering nicely.  It’s nice to see the green blades of grass poking through the dirt all around my house, reminding me that soon it will feel good to be outside, without cold wind and rain blowing in my face. 

I’ve been convinced by a nutritionist friend of mine to try a 21 day challenge.  It involves working out just 30 minutes a day, although I am trying to add in 3 days of running on top of that.  Mostly the focus is on tightening up the nutrition.  Lots of veggies, lots of lean protein, some fruits and healthy carbs, and some healthy fat as well.  Each day I pop in a workout DVD, made by our friends at the Beachbody company (I know, I know, pyramids, referrals, auto renewals, shakes, ugh! but I’m trying it).  A peppy fitness model tells me I can do it, I sweat, and take a moment to observe that at least there are some normal sized people on the DVD, then update my coach and fellow participants via a private Facebook group. 

The food prep is overwhelming.  They don’t have specific recipes or anything that I am required to follow, but if I’m really honest, I’ve never planned out my food like this.  Today was the first day, so I’m sure it will get easier.  It’s a nice distraction though, as I’ve been feeling a bit gloomy lately.  Perhaps it’s the Seattle winter.  Perhaps it’s something else. But it is nice to do something that has a start and end date.

Cheers, to Veggies!

 

 

 

 

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Computrainer ride!

Happy 2014 everyone!

I’m trying to make the best of my time pre-surgery, and exercise when I can.  My tri coach has a sweet deal worked out with Seattle Multisport that allows our team to go use their Computrainer facility at a reduced cost periodically.  I took advantage of the opportunity to work out with the team on Sunday. I was impressed!

The way the Computrainer works is that you strap your bike into a trainer, which looks just like the Kurt Kinetic I have at home.  This one also has some thingamajig (technical term) that adds resistance to your wheel. For our Sunday ride, the owner set us up on the Ironman Canada course, and we all did the first 30 miles together. Evidently Computrainer has several courses to choose from, which I think is pretty cool. The portion of the course I did was mostly flat, with a hill in the middle.  My grades ranged from -5.9% to 3.9%, but my understanding is that it can go to 20%.  One thing I didn’t like, which I understand is due to the group setting, is that we didn’t have a view of the course, i.e., how you would see it if you were actually on your bike on the course.  We just had all 8 of us ranked between us (I wasn’t last, hooray!!!!).   From what I’ve seen in my research, if you were doing this at home, you’d actually be looking at the course.  Per the marketing materials, you become so engrossed in the course you forget you’re even on a trainer and become immersed in the course, so much that you can almost smell the trees (ya, right).

In summary, I though this was a pretty cool contraption. After driving the IM Lake Stevens course on Saturday, I would really value the opportunity to Computrainer ride it a few times (not sure I’d want to ride those roads outside of an event, no shoulder, 2 lanes, yikes).  I also like the idea that I could “group ride” with a pal and not worry about pace differences. But the price tag, yowza!  From my research, these appear to start at about $1,100, and can go up to $5,000. Pretty hard for me to justify. I think I’m going to do a couple more rides with the team, and then decide if this is where a portion of my training funds should go.

I welcome any comments from any lucky Computrainer (or Tacx) riders out there.  The reviews online are mixed.

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Apologies for the hiatus

Hi all,

Apologies for the lack of posts.  I’ll sum up quickly what’s been happening:  moved to a new house on the lake, love running by the lake, running was going so well, then….. boom.  I have gigantic cysts on my ovaries.  The pain has gotten so bad that I can’t run (hurts more when I run).  Naturally I had a meltdown of epic proportions when I figured out I couldn’t do the half marathon I had planned for January.  Biking seems to be ok, so I’m doing as much of that as I can tolerate – with the sun coming up at 8 AM and going down at 4:30 PM I’m stuck with the trainer during the week, and chilly rides on the weekends.  My gym’s pool is under construction, so I have not swam in ages. I feel like a lazy ass loser. Sometimes I get really down about this, but I am trying not to be too hard on myself, and I know that in a couple months I can get back on my training regimen.  I’ll have surgery on January 15, recover for three weeks, then I’m off to London for fun, and when I return, I should be healthy and recovered enough to slowly start training again. Sigh.  I guess better now than in the middle of the season.

Speaking of the season, I’ve been a little intrigued by the idea of Cross Fit lately. I’ve read all the good and bad reviews, and the horror stories, so no need to try and freak me out. But for some reason I’m drawn to the idea of strength training all the sudden.  Any triathletes do CF?

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In other news, I have a new favorite cookbook. Glorious One Pot Meals. The basic idea is that you throw a bunch of stuff in a dutch oven (in a certain order, this will appeal to your OCD type-A mentality) put the dutch oven in the oven, go do a 45 minute workout (see what I did there?) and when you return, you will have an amazing, balanced meal.  Our workouts are hard.  Cooking should be easy.

So there you have it friends.  An update on life and training and my own self pity, my dreams of weightlifting, and great ways to fuel the beast. I probably will not update prior to surgery, unless I have something interesting to say.  And now I will try to go catch up on all the blogs I’ve missed!  Cheers!

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Running mantras

I’m finally becoming more comfortable when running.  When I say more comfortable, I mean that I have improved from “oh my god this sucks so bad, my legs hurt, my knees hurt, everything hurts, this is so hard, how do people do it” to running without thinking about it.  Now when I run I kind of zone out, thinking about the scenery, thinking about work, thinking about where to go on vacation.  In other words, I’m finally relaxed, like I feel when I’m in the pool.  It’s delightful. Of course, now that I’m running in pure zen (mostly), when I’m disrupted from it, by something annoying like a HILL, it’s quite jarring.

Hills are the biggest disruptor.  There I am, running along, thinking about rainbows and unicorns, when, BAM, all the sudden running is hard again.  No fair! But I came up with my own mantra to keep me going on those hills.

Drum roll please.

What is hard today will be easy tomorrow.

And then I don’t want to quit.  Because I know it’s a fact!

What kind of self-talk do you use?

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I guess this is really happening….

Yesterday I quickly signed up for the Lake Stevens 70.3 Ironman in August of 2014. I was nervous thinking about it all day, and now I feel less nervous, and more a feeling of dread.  So. Much. Training.  So many hills.  How do I swimbikerun for that long?  Is there time to stop for a cheeseburger and a nap?

I’ve tried to go back and think about what motivated me to even start thinking about the 1/2 Ironman distance.  It’s something about needing to know that I can.  I already know I can do the swim, the bike, and the run.  But putting them all together is the next big challenge.  And then, when does it become enough? Two years ago I thought I could never do a 1/2 marathon. Done. So now I need to do it after I bike for 56 miles.  Then I think about that and it terrifies me.  People have tried to reassure me, after all, that’s almost a year away.  But it’s still a really long day of exercise. Really long. 

Adding to my feelings of dread is that my training environment is different in Seattle than it was in Las Vegas.  I belong to a team, and they’re somewhat social, but it’s just not the same.  Maybe it’s because I’m the noob in the group and I don’t have the bonds formed yet, but I still feel like a bit of an outsider.  My boyfriend has been dealing with some back pain and doesn’t want to do long rides with me.  I’m at something of a point where I just want to curl up in to a ball and retreat from training for a bit. I won’t. But I want to. The idea of a 30 mile ride seems so difficult, and long, and lonely.  I guess I’m at my first mental roadblock.  If I could have just one wish right now, it would be for a training buddy. 

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Shameless brag

At my team track workout the other night I ran 2:30 400’s.  Multiple. That’s a 10 minute mile. 2 months ago I could barely do a 15 minute mile.  Hard work pays off.

 

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End of tri season, and new things I can’t live without

My 2013 tri season ended last weekend.  I’d been very sick in the days leading up to the race, and I didn’t have the easiest race. Despite that, my times in all 3 legs were faster than last year, so no complaints here.   Next race is the Sharkfest swim in Boston in a week and a half. I love swim races – it’s quiet, very little equipment to malfunction, no hills (just chop), and it’s my strongest discipline.

 

I want to share with all of you some new additions to me Things I Can’t Live Without section. First up TRISLIDE.  This stuff is awesome, and just for reference, I’m not one to sing the praises of Body Glide.  TRISLIDE is so much better than Body Glide because it doesn’t wash or rub off.  Last year I used Body Glide for my Escape From Alcatrez swim, and within 10 minutes I was chafing horribly around the neck of my wetsuit.  For weeks I looked like a teenage girl who’s boyfriend went nuts on her neck.  Not the case with TRISLIDE.  I used it for this weekend’s race, and it didn’t wash off, and at the end of the race, after nearly 2 hours, I still had still had that nice slick feel everywhere I’d applied.  And taking off my wetsuit in T1was super-fast.  ‘Nuff said, MUST HAVE.

 

Next item – the Waterproof Ipod Shuffle and Swimbuds. I know, I know, on race day you can’t listen to music.  That doesn’t mean you have to suffer through long training sessions.  The earbuds are fantastic, and the music really keeps me motivated in the pool.

 

I don’t listen to headphones on the bike, I’m too accident prone, but when I have really long rides I like to have some tunes.  I use the Topeak Case to hold my phone.  It’s mounted right on the stem, and my phone slides in easily. The actual holder is quite small, and I don’t notice it when I’m riding without my phone mounted in.  This is also awesome for when I’m on the trainer and want to shoot out a quick text.

 

My last recommendation is the Feed Zone Portables book.  I’m trying my best to eat only foods that actually occur in nature, which do not include Goos, Powerbars, and the like.  With one exception, I do have a weakness for Jelly Beans with Caffeine.  But I digress.  Food Zone Portables is awesome.  It has suggestions in both savory (protein) and sweet (carbs) categories.  The recipes vary in difficulty, although most are more on the easy side.  The instructions are very easy to follow, and the food is delicious.

 

As a closing note, I was thinking about this entry and what I would write about last night as I was packing for the gym for a swim workout.  I was patting myself on the back for how organized I always am, and taking note of the fact that I keep 2 pairs of goggles in my swim bag.  I got to the gym, got in to the water, swam about 500 until I realized…. I didn’t have a towel.  Sad.

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My running secret struggle

I’ve been keeping a secret from all of you. I used to hate running, really really hate running. I ran / walked an entire half marathon, all the time hating running. But I love running now, and I have for about 4 weeks, so I feel like it could be a permanent thing.

Coaches would always tell me to find a pace that was sustainable, that I could comfortably maintain for miles and miles. I thought that this would be accomplished by suffering through pain. I’d heard that you just have to get through the first 2 miles, and then it would all be awesome.  Others claimed that if I would just employ Chi Running, I’d be comfortable.

Coaches would tell me to slow down, and others would tell me to push through. Sometimes I’d be advised to listen to my body, which wanted neither. I wanted to go fast, and without pain.

I began training with a new team last month. I told my coach that I hate running, and one day she asked me to meet her at the track. After a couple of warm up laps, she had me begin to slowly SLOWLY jog. I thought it was a joke, it was so slow. But after a couple of laps, it was comfortable. And nothing hurt. Before I knew it, she turned to me and told me I’d just run 2 miles without stopping.

I just needed to be tricked! Former coaches told me the right things, but they never tricked me into anything. Now I can run for miles and miles. Still slow, but I’ve past the 5 mile mark. I’ve done a 5k at a faster pace than my endurance pace (total time 42 minutes – which isn’t fast, but considering I’ve never finished on in under 50+ minutes, I consider this an accomplishment). I now do track workouts, which I always thought were just for the super fast people.  In fact, track workouts are my favorite days.

If you struggle with your running, I hope my experience helps you. There are many people who are natural runners, and I envy them. But if you’re not, my advice to you is to take it slow, even slower than you thought was ever possible. It will come to you – and someday we will both be able to hang with those naturally gifted runners.

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The Motivation Myth

My former coach recently wrote a blog post strongly disputing the idea that motivation is some magical thing that people are blessed with, or can get out of a bottle. As usual, I wish she was wrong. I am probably the least motivated person in the world. I have no idea how I ever ended up an endurance athlete, or how I manage to complete one, much less five or six workouts a week.

There are things that help – mostly monetary. I join a running group, which costs a bit, that way I have to go, or else feel the guilt of wasting money (somehow gym memberships do not work the same way). I pay a coach a ridiculous amount of money to write me workouts every month and send me a weekly email asking how things are going. But I do carry around the Blerch, that little asshole that tells me I am entitled to skip a workout, that missing one workout won’t hurt, that I NEED a rest day. Problem is that Blerch is not focused on the end goal, and doesn’t seem to realize that doing an half Ironman on half the amount of recommended training is not going to be especially fun or comfortable or enjoyable.

Blerch also focuses on other people and compares them to me. Blerch is convinced that other people only workout once or twice a week but still win their age groups. Blerch thinks that if they can, I can to. Obviously Blerch is a complete idiot. And an asshole.

So what prompted this post? I missed a workout today. I was exhausted. I couldn’t get out of bed. I have plans this evening, so I will not have an opportunity to make it up. Blerch reset my alarm clock and asked me to cuddle. Blerch didn’t realize that we have to admit this transgression on Training Peaks.

Oh the HORROR!

My coach will see this missed workout. She’s going to tell me it’s ok. I need her to tell me it’s not ok. I need her to tell me that I can only miss one workout a year, and only for a really good reason, like the day that Ben and Jerry’s launches calorie free ice cream and only makes it available in limited quantities for one day only. I need Training Peaks to mock me with a giant sad face on the day. I need Blerch slayers. Calling all Blerch slayers!

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Learning to bike at 34

It dawned on me that I’ve never shared the story of how I learned to ride a bike. Well, re-learned. I’ll back up a bit. 

When I was a kiddo, I did a century with my dad. On a shitty bike. With shitty components. We didn’t train for it. We just signed up for it and bought some Powerbars. And my Dad didn’t ride with me, he rode ahead of me and I tried to catch him. Don’t cry for me, I thought it was cool, because my Dad worked a ton, and had 4 kids (now 6), so any one on one time with my Dad was awesome. Anyway, that was when I was about 12. 

Fast forward to about 15 (I’m bad with details, could be off, maybe I was 14. In fact, maybe that wasn’t a century. Maybe it was a 10k. Nah, it was a century, my Dad never forgets anything, and he says it was). I was riding along the street in Boulder, Colorado (where I lived) to go to the grocery store to buy junk food. Junk food is a treat in Boulder; all they have is granola and kale and hemp. So I was pumped. All the sudden a Jeep skimmed me. Not almost hit me, skimmed me. I lost my balance and fell, and tore my shit up. Lots of blood. Scared. No clue what to do. The Jeep didn’t stop. I took about an hour to gather myself, then hobbled home, pushing my bike, worst of all, sans junk food. I was super embarrassed and couldn’t determine which hurt more, my pride or my bleeding right half of my body. 

Never got on a bike again. 

No, of course I did.  I’m a triathlete after all. And since I spent many years in Boulder, I had lots of friends left there. So one trip, at the age of 34, my friend gave me two options. Ride a bike 2 miles to the bar, or walk the two miles. At the time I was a resident of Vegas and appalled by the idea of last call, and knew I needed to beat the clock. We got on a bike.

It was a shitshow.

Imagine an overweight 5’9″ girl on a cruiser barreling down a hill screaming “Please move over, I don’t know how to use the brakes!!! Or ride a bike!!! PLEASE MOVE!!!” (bell ding, bell ding) The next day, motivated by brunch, more of the same. Everyone I rode by on the bike path heard “Hey! I just learned how to ride a bike! Look how fun this is!!!”

In case you aren’t aware, EVERYONE in Boulder rides a sweet bike, drives a shitty car, has 2.3% body fat, and lives on kale, granola and hemp. Reactions ranged from excitement, disbelief, shock, and fear. At a stoplight, a Chrissie Wellington clone pulled up next to me with her race kit, 2.1% body fat, and $20,000 bike. Naturally I told her about how I just learned how to ride a bike, and it beats the hell out of running. She says to me “just master the swim and you’re all set.” Hahaha, funny lady, I’d already done a 2,4 mile swim. I shared this information with her, and then proudly proclaimed that I was going to be a triathlete! And race next to her! She responded “Good! This sport needs more women” and sped ahead of me. 

It’s been just over 2 years since that glorious day, and in a couple days I return to Colorado to race. The day I just narrated was the first time doing a tri ever crossed my mind. There’s been ups and down along the way, and some EPIC meltdowns, mostly on the bike. Isn’t it amazing how far a person can come? I’m about a year from my first half Ironman, which seems so huge, and scary, and hard, but the human body and mind are two very powerful things. 

Cheers to all and have a Happy Fourth!

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