Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Re-tests and race week

Its Oceanside 70.3 on Saturday and a big shout out to all those I know who are racing! Chris, Charisa, Max and my Coach are the few that I do know who are racing.I'm kinda disappointed that I can't be there to cheer everyone on. Last year I worked at one of the aid stations, handed out food, lost my voice from all the yelling and generally had a great time. This year...I get to organize 30+ volunteers, herd 100s of kids and generally try to explain why science really IS so cool at the San Diego Science Festival instead of being at Oceanside. I'm in charge of volunteers for a booth...so it will be 8AM-6PM of non-stop fun or non-stop chaos...take your pick.

Granted this week did not started smoothly and yesterday I really wanted to hide in my bed until next Monday. I was skimming my last few posts and I realized that I have perpetually been in a bad mood and extremely stressed out for quite awhile...and this week my mood is pretty horrid. I can get to points where I'm so sick of it that I just wish I could get away from me and my bad mood. Something has to change...it can't continue like this.

So as far as training for me...this week is filled with time trials...re-tests of my swim-bike-run. We do this every 4-6 weeks or so. Today was a run TT. Basically 30minutes as hard as can be sustained. Continued improvement from the last one...granted I only accomplished 25mins of a 30minute test because I had a can't-see-straight kind of side stitch that stopped me in my tracks.

First 10 minutes 8:00mpm HR 170bpm
Second 10 minutes 8:00mpm, HR 172bpm
Next 5 minutes 8:13mpm, HR 170

As a comparison from my last TT(2/20/09):
1) First 10 minutes 8:17mpm 168bpm
2)5minutes 8:17mpm 166bpm
3)5 minutes 8:26mpm 168bpm
4)5 minutes 8:26mpm 166bpm
5)5minutes 7:53mpm 172bpm

I had a fantastic tempo type of run last week where I found myself sustaining a 745mpm pace for a mile at one point in the workout. I don't really know where all this speed is coming from, but I'm pretty excited about it.

I read an interesting article yesterday by a local tri-coach who was talking about using tools like HRMs and powermeters and whatnot. He made the comment that I've heard from other people about how some athletes need to cover their info or they sometimes 'freakout' when they see how fast they are going. I'm facinated by this comment as I have heard it before.

I don't really have an idea of how fast or slow I really 'should' be able to swim/bike/run. Is there even a 'should'? I don't know. I find training tools as sources of entertainment: oh look my HR went higher...my pace is XYZ...interesting...i wonder if I could go faster...even just a little bit?Could I hold that pace longer? What might happen if I just go flat out? Will I blow up? What happens if I were to completely blow up?Let's go really fast on this last mile and see what we hit...how much is still in the tank?

Maybe i"m too much of a scientist who is constantly looking for patterns. Patterns in how my body responds...patterns in how my HR responds...patterns in how I feel. I think one aspect of training I do find frustrating is when I wake up...i don't know generally how that workout is going to go until I get into it. And while some things can be tweaked during a workout...not to the degree I'd like it to be able to be tweaked. I realized this bothered me the other day because it is not like playing an instrument.

As a violinist if i'm struggling with a section I know I can just repeat...repeat...repeat...repeat...and generally by the end of it I've got it. But training isn't like that. Some days are GOOD days...some days are OK days and some days are not as great days. I feel so out of control. I realized that bothered me more than I'd like to admit at times. But i'm learning how to stay in the now...and just try to enjoy it...even if it isn't going perfectly.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Paceline burnouts...paceline burnouts and more paceline
nice picture of a paceline taken from Wikipedia.

burnouts...ugh...Track class on Wed proved to be some good paceline work. Problem is by the end of it, i was SICK of hearing my name yelled at by one of the teachers to: CLOSE THE GAP! I am not such a fan of sitting close enough on someone else's wheel. I mean the whole lack of brakes thing really gets me sometimes. Granted I am one of the first ones off the paceline which I was told because I end up working too hard because I am not drafting and if I did...i would be strong enough to stay on there much longer. sigh

Also the SD velodrome is sorta 'square-ish' and has 4 corners and inevitably in corner 1 (where typically you switch who is pulling the pace line) the next person jumps and the paceline stretches out (or more typically this is where I lose the paceline) and then in corner 3 people aren't powering through it for some reason and we all end up squished up on one another. Never makes me very comfortable. So it is this weird accordion and I just don't like being that close to the rider ahead of me.

So...here is the advice that I was given...go practice what I call: "bike wrestling". (No he did not call it that...but that is what I call it). Put on tennis shoes, find a buddy, find some grass and practice bumping into one another...front wheel to back wheel, side to side. Now here is the thing... i've done the whole side to side bumping thing, but not with anyone who was really all that intent on actually bumping me like I would be bumped in real life so it kinda doesn't count.

I haven't tried the tire bumping thing, but I think what I actually need to do this properly is a "roadie mentor" who is used to racing in tight groups and is actually intent on actually hitting my tires or bumping into a shoulder. Whenever I go to a bike clinic and practice this it is always: ooops...bump....ooh sorry...i barely hit you or a VERY light tap on the shoulder done by other people who are not used to the claustrophobic nature of pack riding. While useful in a clinic to understand you won't fall on your butt if someone does tap you on the shoulder, generally I don't get the feeling of if someone were to actually bump me while we both were going at speed. I'm going to work on paceline work with a road bike this weekend and see how it goes.

Nuances of trackbikes

And I was TOTALLY bummed on Wed too. My new pretty cog...the one I was soooooooo excited about putting on...my new 15 where I would have graduated to an 86 gear inch because I would then have a 48x15...sadly...sadly sadly...I could not ride on it on Wed. The thing that sucks about learning a new sport is there are all these little nuances that you are unaware of until you screw up. So...got the new gear put it on. Put my chain on...and hmmm...my chain won't STAY on the gear! What? Apparently I have what is called: a road chain. On cheaper track bikes/fixies (like mine...just entry level)...they are sold with road chains and road cogs. NOW here is the crazy thing. ROAD cogs will take a TRACK chain, but a TRACK cog will not take a ROAD CHAIN!! I bought a 15 track cog so the reason the chain won't stay on is because it is a road chain on my bike. But if I go and buy a track chain, it will go with my 15 track cog AND it will still go with my 16 road cog. Confused yet? I am. Only thing I understand is if I want to use my shiny new cog I need a new chain. Lame. So that is the plan for the weekend...get a new track chain so I can try out the new gear and see if I can keep up with those silly boys on Wed.

Update: New chain put on!! Can't wait to try out the new cog on the TRACK!

Monday, March 23, 2009

It is what you make it...

Over the past week or so I have spent quite a lot of time visiting the hospital. One of my closest friends had surgery a week and a half ago that went from "it will be a minor operation and you will go home tomorrow" to "oh it was 9x worse than expected and in the hospital 5 days on heavy pain meds"...and even after 5 days I wondered if it was a good idea to be sending her home. She's on the mend now and is recovering at home, but I still try to see her every other day or so.

I have spent a good deal of time with her over the past 2 weeks from the hospital to home. She is one of my closest friends so it is not difficult for me to spend lots of time with her in general, but it is so hard to watch someone I care about struggle so much and be in so much pain and not be able to do anything about it. It feels so helpless.

While she was in the hospital she made the comment of "thanks for coming, not many people like to come to the hospital". Hospitals don't really bother me that much aside from the heeby-jeebies I get from thinking about MSRA resistent bacteria. Especially when the soap free hands dispensers say: not effective against c.difficile. Curious name for a difficult to get rid of bacteria. Granted I did want to go to medical school in undergrad up until I discovered a love for organic chemistry (yes i am weird). I mean I struggled in my bio classes cuz i was so bored and did my organic chemistry home work to procrastinate. I finally switched majors and decided not to be pre-med.

But I still have always been fascinated with medicine and highly respect what we even are able to do with modern medicine. I mean people can go in for SURGERY where they cut a person open, sew them back up...and then many times will get better. That is pretty amazing. No...it's not perfect. Trust me...i'm quite aware of how imperfect surgery can be. And when it isn't perfect, it is devastating. But that still doesn't take away how incredible the fact that as a society we have figured out how to operate on people at all.

I thought a lot about why people are not keen on hospitals while I was there. I do think part of it is having to watch those close to us suffer so much and feel so helpless, but hospitals also fundamentally remind us of how fragile our lives are and I think many people are uncomfortable with their mortality. But the truth of the matter is that we really aren't as in control of our lives or health as we like to pretend.

Last summer I had a weird test result that dragged into a month of different doctors and tests to chase down the possibility of cancer. The chances were small and the doctors reassured me that it was most likely 'nothing'...but most likely also isn't 100%. Fortunately nothing was amiss. Literally the day after I was given a clean bill of health, I found out my cousin had a massive tumor on his leg for which he went through 6 rounds of chemo, radiation treatment, surgery last week and finally it looks like all is well. Yet it was discovered 3 weeks before his surgery.... after all the treatment he just went through...that his wife has breast cancer. Life is so much more fragile than it seems.

Many a day I know I take for granted how healthy I am, how active I am, how blessed I am with all the activity I can do and actually get out there and DO. Last week i logged 8 or so hours of activity and my training only holds more. This is such a contrast to another friend of mine who has Lupus has to be so careful about not over-doing anything. And while quite an active person, she also has learned how she needs to slow down and not push so hard. It's not easy on her.

A few weeks ago I was having a miserable run. I was over heated, dehydrated, had a side stitch, my legs didn't want to run, and I felt like throwing up. The negative thoughts started to creep in. I wanted to quit. I literally started counting all of the things that were blessings in my life...and my perspective changed as well as the run. The run became easy.

Thank you all for the well wishes on my last whinging post. Sometimes it is easy to complain and much harder to be thankful. But the truth of the matter is: there is so much to be thankful for and much to be grateful for. It is what you make it...

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's kinda not fair

I complain in my head at times, but I actually try to keep it under wraps in daily life because I am a firm believer in trying to focus on positive thoughts, even when it is hard because it helps to pull me through times that are harder...but I can't right now. Lately I've encountered two things with training: 1) I'm hungry ALL the freakin time 2) I need more sleep, but I'm not getting it.

The food thing...its weird and annoying. I actually don't like thinking about planning food. It is the 4th discipline I know...and have actually been seeing a sports nutritionist for over the past year. I've learned to clean up my eating habits and have seen many positive results because of that, but I have also discovered I hate going to the grocery story and planning food and don't really enjoy cooking either. I can cook when I need to...but I don't enjoy it like many friends I have. One of my closest friend is a professional foodie, free lance food writer and used to be a personal chef. She invents new recipes and tests many for others too and to read what she has to say, I love the passion she has towards this topic, unfortunately I just don't get it. (and I kinda wish I did).

But the weird part lately about being hungry are all the odd cravings. (no... i'm not pregnant). My nutritionist and I had a discussion about it awhile ago. She just said: the body knows what it needs and will tell you. She encouraged me to keep a closer diary of the types of training I am doing and then when I get food cravings after I can see better what I might be lacking post-workout. I admit...since I find the food thing a little bit of a hassle anyway, i haven't done this...but i need to...and soon.

Past few days it's been salt craving. I am not much for potato chips but I had a few the other day and all I wanted to do was lick the salt off of the chips. The next day I had some pulled pork...again salty...yummy...could not stop myself from eating it if I had tried. Few weeks ago it was INTENSE carb cravings. Granted... I have a little bit of a sweet tooth, but over the past year that has been put at bay a little bit and I don't actually want candy all that much, but candy...potatoes...pasta. It actually was a little weird.

And then there is the meat craving...especially after weight lifting. Even in Nov-Dec when i was only moderately lifting the next day all I craved was protein and meat. Granted, I gained two pounds of lean body mass then too...and lost two pounds of body fat.

So the food thing, i'm not so impressed by it to be honest. I wake up hungry in the morning a lot and am finding that if I miss my mid morning snack all hell breaks lose. I even ate a half a bagel the other day when I was in a morning meeting because I was hungry. I hate bagels.

But the sleep thing...this is the unfair part that I'm sorta whinging about right now. It is 3:38AM. I am awake. And I have been since oh...midnight. Lately work has been hectic to a degree and two days a week I have 730 am conference calls. Many days i'll just get into work around 7 and then leave earlier to get whatever workout that needs to be done in. But the thing is if i'm getting to work around 7, I am getting up between 5 and 530. I should be going to bed around 9 at least. I haven't been. And I've been tired.

BUT yesterday i was excited...8 pm rolled around and i knew I could get to bed BEFORE 9pm. 845 I was IN bed and quickly fell asleep actually. Midnight rolled around...and I am WIDE awake. I tried to convince myself to fall back asleep for an hour and a half before I gave up. I've since been stalking people's blogs and drinking herbal tea in the hopes that my body and mind will quiet and I can slip back into bed.

I know the problem...i think too much. If you are one to subscribe to the 'Meyers-Briggs' personality type...it falls in line with my 'personality' description that I basically think too much. (INTP or here...but I'm not really as cold and uncaring a person as all those profiles try to make me out to be!) The sucky part is I think too much even when I am SLEEPING. Since moving to CA, I have had this brand of insomnia where I just WAKE myself up because my mind is running.

Lately work has been too stressful and I have worn that over-thinking part of my brain out so sleeping hasn't been a problem. But things have backed off, almost a little too much and now I can't shut it off. There is a sweet spot of busy-ness that I need with work and life lest I get really bored with what i'm doing and then my brain wanders. This week...my brain has been wandering a lot. This means a lot of random internet searches on whatever types of strange 'questions' that pop into my brain.

This week I did further investigation on my personality type...which I find rather ironic because it is within my personality type to actually DO that. Granted it shed a lot of light on my perspectives on training and where I was mentally limiting myself in some areas.

I also investigated aerodynamics on the bike. Specifically the physics of aerodynamics and the impact of clothing, aerobars, helmets, wheels, position and even shaved legs (no there is no advantage boys...but admittedly it is pretty hot). This is the only time I ever lament not still being in grad school. There are all these scientific journal articles that I want to read on the subject but have no access. Bummer.

And if you made it to the end of this post...wow. impressive. Crazy rants from the middle of the night :-) It's 4:30 am...i'm going to try to see if I can sleep...maybe just a little bit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What LANGUAGE are you speaking?

yea yea...I've got an 81 gear inch because I have a fourty-eight x sixteen, but I'm thinking of getting a fiveteen so I'd have a bigger gear inch...what is that? oh yea, 86 gear inch or so...

bla...bla...bla..yea i've got a 11-23 for my rear cogs...with a 53 on the front...

Sound familiar...or not familiar or make ya think...what ARE they talking about?? This is my sixth season of doing triathlons and when people have talked bikes inevitably gears will come up. And then gibberish ensues...at least in my little brain. I used to think: what are they talking about? Why do they care so much? who really, REALLY cares? I did not think I would ever become one of them. Just 10 months ago someone mentioned their rear gearing on their bike and my reaction was: blink...blink...blink.

It made no difference to me...and I had no interest in understanding it. AND THEN....(insert scary music)...i learned to ride a track bike. And that is one HUGE topic that that gets talked talk about on the track...well because there is one...maybe two (if you have a flip flop hub) gears on your bike at any given time. Granted if you want to 'change' gears you have to take your tire off and flip it around. But this is pretty typical to see on a track bike that a rider will have two different gears in the back.

Serious track riders carry around a serious gear bag( as in full of different cogs and chain rings). It is quite impressive. And I am happy to say...i'm starting my collection! I have a 48 chain ring on the front and currently a 16 on the back...but I just got a 15 for the back. (Wasn't able to try it out tonight though sadly). So a 48x16 = 80ish gear inch. And a 48x15 = 86ish gear inch.

Gear inch? Again, I hadn't even heard that term, let alone cared to understand it until I discovered the velodrome. Here is a pretty cool explanation of gear ratios from How Stuff Works if that whole big gear little cog thing never made much sense. The animations are cool.

Gear ratios are related to 'gear inch' and it is possible to calculate how fast one can go with a specific gear inch at a specific cadence...ect. I like this site to calculate gear inch. Bigger gear inch = harder to push. But the tricky thing when on a track bike is...there is no switching a gear mid ride like on a freewheel with lots of gears. Want to go faster...spin faster...that is the only choice given. So i'm going to try a heavier gear next week...maybe I'll keep up a little better...or...maybe not...

got a talkin' to

I still hear a lot of random screaming from one of the guys in charge about me needing to 'CLOSE THE GAP'...yea, i lost the pace line a few (ok a lot...like normal) tonight. That being said...we did work on paceline technique mainly 'getting back ONTO' the paceline after taking a pull at the front. I get dropped a lot off the back of a paceline after I have pulled because I don't do this correctly. On a track it is important to GO up to the board and then when the end of the pace line comes to shoot down to the end of the pace line so that you have enough momentum to catch the pace line AND the draft as you get in. I typically will come into the end of the pace line too 'cold' and then have to waste a lot of energy trying to catch the back fo the pace line. Coming in a little too 'hot' means that you come in closer to that last rider and then slide back behind that person.

But...the 'talkin' to...i've sorta known is an 'issue' i deal with. It went a little like this: You are strong enough to hang in there...you leave TOO much of a gap in your paceline and then catch the wind. Get over your fear.

Gee...thanks...that's the advice? Get over your fear of being too close to that person in front of me: WHO HAS NO BRAKES?? NOR DO I?

Here is part of the reason I have issues with holding close to the person ahead of me: I will get the proper distance and then I swear then i'm ON the person ahead of me, and now have to slow down (which means lightening the pressure on the pedals) and then SUDDENLY a gap gathers and now I have to close it...and then I catch too close...and again...repeat. I know it takes time. And I am getting better at it...but sheesh.

Enough random talk of gearing out of me tonight.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I have a talent...

I don't know what it's 'usefulness' is...but it does create some bizarr-o situations and funny stories. Like tonight...I get a txt from Chris: Did you go to XYZ high school?

me: um...yea?

Chris: Do you know RD???

me: um...yea?!

By this point its too weird so I just call him because WHY would he be asking me if I went to my high school and KNEW this person? Apparently...RD showed up at the tri club masters swim tonight for the first time...works where i WORK...and I had no idea. I haven't seen her since I was 15. Very weird. Chris remembers from the first time that he met me that i have this 'talent'. I don't think he believed me until now. ;-)

This is where I have to point out: I am NOT from California. I have only lived in CA for a little over a year and a half. So far...just since i've lived in San Diego...I have run into my roomate from my tiny undergrad, run into another classmate from my tiny undergrad, run into a girl that I lived down the street from growing up, and THEN there are a few other randomly small connections...those are the most outstanding...but this one...I know her from high school...she works at my WORK BUT it was NOT through work that we find ourselves connected? oooooookkkkkkkkkaaaaaaaaaay

This happens a LOT to me and not just since I moved to San Diego...but it is seemingly freakishly honed in since I moved out here. Quite the talent I might say.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I do this for fun??

I was not impressed when my alarm went off at 6am this morning. CRANKY is not quite a strong enough word to express how I was feeling this morning. I really just wanted to sleep in, drink coffee and find a paper to read. Getting up so early seemed so uncivilized. I just thought: this is what I do for FUN??!! I was grateful I was meeting Katie to ride. Riding with a friend was the accountability I needed at that moment. Had I just been jumping into a group ride where I might only generically know a few people or no one actually knew i'd be there and be waiting for me...i would have ditched. I just didn't WANT to...for no good reason. My lazy roots were trying to take hold.

Training recently has been easy for me to motivate myself. I'm not saying training itself has been easy...but shuffling the time around, getting into work at a stupidly early time so I can leave early to run or get UP stupidly early so I can swim before I get to work even when I have to be at work for a 7:30 teleconference, or getting in early and staying late and then taking a long lunch to run hasn't actually taken too much convincing. But this morning...you would think I had lead boots on.

Katie and I kinda gate crashed in on another group's ride of elfin forest loop. (it wasn't quite this loop outlined) Ironically as we waited for this group...we would eventually completely lose the group.

I've done this loop in various ways, and this route isn't quite the route we took...but there are many variations on the theme. Part of this route is actually what I did for my birthday bike ride back in November. I really like this loop for some reason. Doesn't matter which direction you go...lots of hills (3400 ft of climbing in 54 miles), it's beautiful and challenging to a degree.

Unfortunately I discovered that my little 'spill' at the velodrome on thursday ...seems I bruised my butt pretty good. This in effect induced weird spasm at mile 40 and my whole leg decided to tell me it did not like this biking thing. Shooting pain down my leg...but very intermittent and doesn't hurt at all off the bike.

I also discovered that while Pop Tarts have no nutritional value whatsoever...they are great mid ride when my tummy is grumbling and a gel is NOT what I want...if my stomach is wanting food it wants something solid. Pop Tarts: not hard on the stomach and surprisingly didn't just sit there...dirt cheap too compared to something like shot blocks. Shot blocks are about 1.50-2.00 per 200 calories...Pop Tarts: 60 cents for 400 calories (but I don't suggest you eat both of them...THAT would be too much food on the stomach). One pop tart did the trick...so 30 cents per 200 calories. Granted they are full of yucky things like high fructose corn syrup...but anyway...still yummy.

The ride was fun and went well. I'm glad I went and had a great day of riding.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Level 2

Track class is back and I have 'graduated' to level two...um...i made a total fool out of myself though. I may be level 'two'...but I still managed to tip myself over after pushing (or maybe NOT pushing hard enough) off the rail...yea, ego bruised and maybe my hip...but nothing hurt.

Level two really only means one thing: I took level one. Our group is tiny compared to the level one newbies...but I have secured myself as the slowest. Awww...i even got screamed at from the side lines to close the gap and get out at one point. (i came so close to closing it and i was about to get out anyway when I was told to get out ...ok...ok...i'm going.)

But still a few things happened tonight that were interesting: I hit my max HR...191...never seen that on a bike. While I was feeling a little lack luster about the evening, I looked at my garmin data only to see that I was hitting speeds i've never hit before at the track. I came close to 30mph...ok...briefly (and i'm sure I was drafting someone and hanging on for dear life)...so that is very cool. Training is about progress and even when it sometimes seems that progress isn't happening, sometimes it is more about a matter of perspective. I threw my data from tonight up against data even from a few weeks ago...I am getting faster...it just takes time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Swimming is now full contact sport...

Apparently circle swimming has turned into a full contact sport. My lane mate tried to wrestle me to the bottom of the pool today...or at least pin me to the end of the pool as i was attempting to turn around. I usually flip turn if I am not circle swimming, but I haven't yet mastered the angled turn and I was worried I might run into one of my lane mates today if I tried. So I swam to the end, grabbed the ledge, turned around and suddenly in a mass of confusion and flailing arms I swear he pinned me to the wall.


I was trying in the meantime not to A)laugh and B)not inhale massive quantities of water. Since he must have been in such a hurry I just let him go by...besides he kept smacking my feet earlier in the swim...which by the way is the most startling experience and made me want to kick my feet harder.

THEN a different lane mate decided to take my kick board. I don't typically dish out snarky comments to strangers, but I really wanted to because seriously if someone is SHARING a lane with more than 1 other person I would think that if there is a kick board by the end of the pool it is probably one of my lane mates and go and get one of my own. Nope...she just took it. Why don't you just take my flip flops while you are at it lady?

On other rambling topics...
I've been trying to help my sister out with her exercise routine to try to keep her A)going to the gym and B) not bored, so I gave her a 1300y swim workout since she said she swam about 30 minutes or so. After calling me rather ODD for the weekend of training I did in Palm Springs this last weekend, she then just about had a heart attack when I gave her the workout. But she did it all! I'm very proud of her. She then made the mistake of saying that she would do a triathlon if it consisted of riding the stationary bike, using the elliptical trainer and swimming. Um...I think I may have to cook up a fun indoor triathlon for her. She does have an ODD sister to thank for that too. Maybe I'll have another triathlete in my family soon. ;-)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Good idea?

The original plan laid out by my coach for me this weekend as I headed to Palm Springs for a training weekend was:

Friday: run 7miles after arrival
Saturday: AM bike 60 miles, run 6-8 miles and a PM 40 mile bike
Sunday: Do the Desert Triathlon either the sprint distance or the International

Kinda the point of the weekend was to push the envelope and see what happens. Everything was laid out, but I also had the option of scaling where I wanted to and not doing everything if it was too much. It was my call.

I already knew 100 total miles on the bike on Saturday was going to push the 'too' much button and I wasn't sure how I felt about that 6-8 mile brick off of a 60 mile bike this early in my season. Granted, I've never attempted this kind of volume anyway, so I really don't have a mental concept of where I 'am' on the endurance spectrum 99% of the time. I surprise myself with so much of my training these days so it is a constant process that is always unfolding.

The run on Friday was fine and on Saturday AM, I headed out with my route slip and many gels and an idea to try some shot blocks to see how I trained with them (since normally they don't mess with my stomach). It was a nice day, warmish, and the route was pretty nice...granted there was a LONG stretch in the beginning that was chalk full of false flats which just does a number on my head because it is sometimes hard to realize that the reason it seems like I am going so slowly is because I was actually ON a hill...but with false flats it doesn't seem quite like a hill. BUT with every up hill comes a downhill.

In all truth i'm not the hugest fan of descents. I know, that's weird...i could climb all day but descending sometimes is just not my thing. So finding a decent that I am a FAN of...well that is unusual...but the decent proved to be highly ranking in my book. Open, not technical, and a grade where it was steep but not something that made me wonder if I was taking my life into my hands on two wheels. In essence, my kind of hill...so it was great. In the end our ride was actually a little shy of 50 miles...not quite 60...so I decided to attempt all 6 miles I had planned out since the ride was 'shorter'.

The run was uneventful aside from my legs telling me they hated me...but I pressed on. What was the most interesting though was getting back to the house only to realize that my legs didn't just hate me they were PISSED at me. It felt like every tiny muscle fiber was on FIRE simultaneously. I was in pain and perplexed at the same time. I didn't really know what to do so I actually wondered if what was going on was that each of the tiny muscle fibers were CRAMPING...rather than one large muscle cramp. So I downed a big does of some salt tabs that I had and almost instantaneously the cramping went away.

I blame the shot blocks. I usually only use Powerbar endurance which has almost 2x the salt as the shot blocks...so even though I am trying to expand some things I can eat while exercising, i'm not sure how to address the shot block issue...especially how difficult they are to deal with since it is not reasonable to down 100 calories at a time and you have to eat them slowly. Very fussy.

Got back from all the training and ate a post recovery snack, showered and changed and then headed out to pick up our packets and find some food. Sadly (although somewhat predictably in my book...even though I ATE another granola bar to try to stave it off)I did turn into Ms. Crankypants due to low blood sugar. Oye. But we did finally find some food and then I was super ready for a huge nap....pretty much immediately following lunch, like I could have fallen asleep at the table but I do have better table manners than that so I didn't.

I bye-passed on the second bike and opted for a long nap and was sooooo happy I did that. Amazingly it didn't even affect my ability to fall asleep that night which is pretty impressive considering daylight savings. And let me just say: Day light savings SUCKS the night before a race. Race morning is early enough without losing an extra hour of sleep.

Is this really a good idea???

So today as I was setting up for my race (I had opted for the Sprint) and I started thinking about all the training i had just DONE the day before on top of this race. This race was not even a C race...maybe a D or E or anything that is: does.not.matter...kind of race. For me it was a 'just see' how I did kind of day.

What was interesting though was on the swim. I never have been too terribly freaked out by open water swimming. I grew up swimming in lakes so I think that is part of it, but I started the swim and i'm not sure if was the cold or what but my LEGS started to burn and I almost started to panic. What I find interesting about myself is in scary situations I get severely analytical. I do actually think this a huge benefit because I basically tell myself: Right NOW is a NOT OK time to freak out. You can do that later...but RIGHT NOW...keep it together.

I remember thinking: Am I going to have to call a life boat? AND then thinking in reply: Well that would be severely stupid because you might end up with a small fear of open water swimming for the season so that would just put a damper on things. Don't do that. If you NEED to just lie on your back and back stroke or float until you can regain your composure. But freaking out is really stupid right about now.

I look back on that mental conversation and sorta laugh. How I could just tell myself NOW is not the time to freak out and force myself to calm down was pretty instrumental to getting through the swim. I did finally find a rhythm and pressed on.

And over all...i was really happy with my race. It was freaking COLD and my feet lost feeling on the bike and I didn't gain it back til mile 2 of the run...but it was a good race. I learned a lot about how my body responds when it is tired, when it is cold and what factors I can tweak and others I have to work around. And one of the best surprises was to discover that even though i had just done all of this training on top of my race...I got better than 50% in my AG...which is a tough AG for women...30-35. Which for me is pretty awesome. I was just explaining the other day how GREAT I am at 50% in my AG....almost SPOT on +/- a person. I have no problem with being such a midpacker...it was more of a general observation...so to see that I almost made the top 1/3...i was pretty stoked.

Overall it was a fantastic weekend of training and meeting some new people. I learned a ton and I actually think I'm going to be able to walk tomorrow. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Being heckled

Some runs dumbfound me...sometimes they are just runs that EVERY GUY feels the need to heckle me or give their input on my run. Within a block of taking off I heard one guy say: just 28 miles to go!! I even had these two middle school boys decide to take up singing a song about exercise while I ran past. I guess I should be flattered that they made up a song just for me...it did make me laugh pretty hard. And last week, when I was on the run where i thought I was broken because my heart rate kept diving through the floor, a guy who was doing road work proceeded to sing a the theme song from a sports movie (can't remember which one)as I ran up the hill....seriously??

What I find the funniest about the heckling is sometimes I can go for a 10 mile run and the only issue I have is trying to get people to get out of my way and they are none the wiser that I'm even there...and other times I can't go more than a mile without some some guy insisting on interjecting some comment...like he is the funniest person on the planet. Like I haven't heard a million times 'just keep running!' Granted it is a few steps above being cat-called.

Today's run was fantastic. Being slightly over trained over the past week I've had to dial things back a little bit and sadly have missed out on two fun training days at the velodrome. Sadness. But I'd rather address things early, not get sick or injured and still continue to enjoy my training so dialing things back didn't mean no training just easing up a bit. Granted I am always amazed at how connected the body is to the mind and what is going on mentally. To say I've been stressed out doesn't quite capture the breadth of all that's been hitting me over the past few weeks. Life comes in waves, never in just manageable bits does it? But I think I'm cresting this wave at least a little bit right now so I am pressing forward and always hoping for the best.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

First bike race ever...

I did Bulldog bike race this past weekend up at Camp Pendelton and it was quite the experience I might say. I've never done a bike race before so my only reference of bike racing is something like tour de france. So when my coach
suggested this race to many of his clients my internal response was: hell no. I did not verbalize how I felt about this race and quite frankly I was having an internal drama over it mainly because I do like to challenge myself with things I won't do at first glance. So I was having a lot of back and forth on my own personal excuses of why I didn't want to do this race and why I should just shut up challenge myself and sign up for the race.

Then my roadie friend Elaine got into the mix: SIGN UP FOR BULLDOG....ugh...i was quickly running out of excuses. It was her first road race too and she had talked our friend Mark into racing also (although he's a seasoned crit racer so the whole bike racing isn't new to him). So now it went from sounding terrifying to sounding still terrifying but at least with friends. I can do terrifying much better when I have company for some reason.

I can hear it now: But you ride the track...bla...bla...bla. Yes, riding the track has gotten me much more comfortable with pace lines, and riding in close quarters with other people, but overall I'd much prefer people keep their bike and their distance from me. Seriously, the kinds of crazy people they let ride bikes in the country....sheesh.

I showed up pretty early, but still got crappy parking for some reason. Managed to check in and meet up with my friends Elaine and Mark and headed to my car when I finally connected with my coach about the race. I chatted with him and one of his other clients about the race and basically what I was told from them and other people was: the first 8 miles are a hammer fest, hang where you can, then there is a hill where the pack will fall to pieces and then try to find people to work with on the way back in. I took some mental notes and then headed back to my car to grab my trainer.

Now...i had a ton of time before my wave took off since my wave was last, and I wanted some company...so yes...I dragged my trainer 2blocks down the road so I could warm up with Elaine and Mark. I think I did it more for moral support. The guy in the car parked next to mine sorta shook his head at me...but I needed more moral support at that point I knew it would be 'worth' it to me.

Mark and Elaine had 5 rules of racing: Don't crash, hang to the front, make it hurt, have fun and win. Although it ok to be a bit of a rebel and break rule 5...but try not to break the other rules.

Elaine and I lined up AT.THE.FRONT. Ok...i knew this was the right thing to do...but i started to second guess myself too. I knew to not be the lead person, but rather find a wheel and sit on it and being at the front of the pack is a little safer in general because there isn't the crazy accordion-like action happening with people hitting their brakes like in the rest of the pack.

It's a rolling start and we take off. Once we are give the thumbs up the race is on...but weirdly...there is no 'hammerfest'. I keep waiting for it to happen, but seriously...we are totally lollygagging and really only going around 20mph which for a pack of cyclist is not that fast. The other women are chit chatting like it is a liesurely saturday ride and while I got a little annoyed and wanted us to go faster I knew I had to just go with the flow. That's a sucky thing about riding in a pack, if you don't want to pull at the very front there is little control over the speed.

We hit the hill and the pack falls apart...i totally get dropped...and sadly on the way back there is no one from my wave I can pick out to work with. Every person I came upon was a guy so they were from a wave before me and not going a speed i wanted. I thought for a moment this other woman might want to work with me on the way back, but we hit the final hill and I dropped her pretty soundly at that point. So I just had to tell myself: well...i'm a triathlete I'm used to not drafting...but it did kinda suck, I mean I actually got to draft I might as well take advantage of it...right?

Overall I surprised myself and really enjoyed the race. This is why I try to push myself to do new things, I tend to surprise myself even when things seem like I won't like them...i sometimes end up liking them....I think it is good in general to push internal boundaries and mental walls because with each wall I knock down I learn a little bit more about myself.

Next up... Big training weekend this weekend and first triathlon of the season! Should be lots of fun!