Sunday, April 30, 2006

Run along the River.

I had put off my run for a day because my hip was sore and I really hadn't slept good for a couple of nights. I worked the tennis ball into the spot and iced and felt much better. Then I had to head to work for half a day (Saturday). I watched the day go from partly sunny to mostly cloudy, but the temps. were in mid-60s and it seemed like a great day for a run.

I was anxious to put to the test a long run using my ChiRunning techniques I am learning. I am convinced the more I get into the book and rewatch the DVD that this is a method that not only works but should be able to free me from my injury proneness (word??) and get me enthused about running again. Enthused isn't really the word. Not afraid might be a better way to put it. Yes, I admit. I am afraid to really think I can run anything more than a 5k again, yet I am willing to chance it because I used to love running and being competitive. I know I hold back and I want to get past that. Its one of my main excused for not considering an IM distance race: I'm afraid I will get injured again and be out of it again. I do believe that mind over matter works, but I need more reassurance that I do have the ability to go the distance, and I am hoping the ChiRunning gives me the confidence to believe in myself again.

So how did my run go yesterday? This is the third attempt, and the first two, while showing promise, made me realize I still had some work to do. First, I think it makes me run faster than I am conditioned to do for any length of time yet, so to avoid the breathlessness I encountered the first two times, I decided to do a run/walk and hold the pace. I realized that I could run longer than a few minutes, but wanted to go farther than just a few miles.

My route was along the river, fairly pleasant, not too many others out there, and no "serious" runners to worry about running into. They always went at 7 or 8 am, and this was 3 pm, so not much chance of seeing anyone and getting distracted.

I decided on a 3/2 pace, not so fast I realize, but after 20 minutes I was fairly surprised how much ground I had covered, compared with my usual 20 minute distance. Also after re-reading some of the book, here's some of the important points to remember:
  • Posture. Yes, your mother was right. Stand up straight. Proper alignment of your body takes the impact off joints and muscles and makes it possible to run with less effort.
  • Relax. Keeps muscles from tightening and becoming fatigued and sore.
  • Cadence. Holding a cadence of 85-90. A tip for keeping cadence is to count: left 2-3, right 2-3, left 2-3, right 2-3, etc. This works every time.
  • Arm swing. Your arm swing dictates your cadence. Your legs will follow your arms every time.
  • Lean. The lean what determines speed. If you want to run faster, you lean more. If you want to run slower, lean less. Your legs do not have to increase speed. Your body will naturally go faster with your lean.
  • Lifting your heels. Rather than lifting your knees, you lift your heels. That puts no pressure on the knees, and helps you land fully on your foot rather than on your heel or toes.

The last was the hardest for me to do because I still have some stiffness and tightness in a hamstring I am trying to work out, but I did not feel any fatigue in the hamstring, just a little discomfort. I'm sure it was because I am not lifting my knees.

Sounds counterproductive to what we have learned in the past, but you need to see the form in motion to see what I mean. And as to less effort? Oh yeah. Even though I was doing a run/walk, which I realize does help on longer distances for me, that never prevented me from getting off pace after a while because I would get sore or tired.

This time, my out and back was within 10 seconds of each other. Ten seconds as opposed to 10 minutes like might have happened in the past. Even pacing. I blame that 10 seconds on needing to find a stick to protect myself from the Canada goose that was having issues with anyone passing by because apparently a nest was somewhere near. (I've been attacked before and wasn't going to go there again. Fortunately I didn't need to use the stick.)

Six+ miles. I was tired when I got done but not exhausted or done in. I probably could have gone another mile or two if I had really had to, but decided that was enough of a lesson today.

My goal then is to increase my running time within this 6-7 mile run distance, meaning, I want to be able to run a full mile at a time with this method. It will take practice. The book does indicate it could take a couple of months, so for anyone with immediate race plans, now might not be the time to start something new. While it may take a while to get this down right, the benefits will be worth it, in my estimation. I am glad I put off earlier this year a race that I was having doubts about doing and put my sights on a race toward the end of June. That gives me more time to work on this and get it right. From a triathlete standpoint, the ChiRunning method does take the work out of your quads while running making it easier on the bike/run transition. That I am looking forward to.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I LOVE THIS SHOE! I realize this isn't a training shoe, but if anyone is looking for a comfortable casual shoe, this is it. I have a very difficult time finding comfortable shoes, and was skeptical as it was, but since buying the first pair, I have bought two more: a neutral color, black, and a denim blue. More comfortable than slippers, yet supportive at the same time. Good after workout shoe. Of course, I have the luck of this being a perk at work where I can order at 40% off.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

So IronShelley will be visiting on May 12-13. I use the word "visiting" loosely, as an Ironman/woman does not "visit" other Ironmen/women to just visit, as in what you do with your out-of-town relatives once a year, or catch up on news, or sit and chat, or go on outings. No, an Ironperson "visits" with one thing in mind: a challenging workout (or two in this case). One day will be for a long ride (100 miles). The next will be for this race This is the 25k National Championships race, and while it is our one big local race of the year, it also draws in some of the best elite runners and masters runners from all over.

All of this training of course is geared for upcoming IMCDA. The way her training seems to be going this year points to a good race. I'm not so sure for some of the others.

I am getting concerned about their lack of biking miles, but then 104 miles last Sunday in the cold, rain, and wind can't amount to nothing.

Of course for me, going to another IM race gets all those emotions of should I or shouldn't I crop up all over again. While you are caught up in the moment, it is pretty easy to say yes. But being the practical person I am, and rarely impulsive, I need to mull it over. Its just my nature. (From a Kolbe profile I took, I find I am in good company here at work, as probably 80% of the people I work with fit the same profile.)

While my confidence has been boosted over the past weeks, and my training is going okay, it will be interesting to see where I am when I get to the race. (I am not doing the race, just spectating and being support crew.)

And getting back to the ChiRunning concept, I am working on it. Last night I was out for 47 min. and actually felt really good when done. I'm still having trouble running the entire time, but before, after 47 minutes, I could be sure to be stiff and really sore after, but that didn't really happen. I know I am not fully getting the form yet, because my right hip (which was sore before I started this stuff) wanted to flare up last night when going to bed. It is more a need for an adjustment, so I am trying to keep positive about that, rather than thinking this is going to hurt me. As I said, after viewing the DVD, you can't help but want to run that way. It is so flowing and natural, and follows the same concepts of the Total Immersion swim program (which I need to brush up on my videos as I haven't been too pleased with my swim times lately): using less effort to accomplish a goal. I'm all for that. I know it works in the pool, so I'm confident it will work in running. But as with the Total Immersion program, it takes time and practice; I wish I had time to take clinics in both before June, but that isn't looking likely.

On another note, I am reaching the point of dilemma with weight loss: what do I do when my clothes are too big??

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Continuing on with my quest for improvement in running, I came across the ChiRunning method mentioned in my last post. I was anxious to try the method, so Monday after work took a small run at the park along the river. (We are very fortunate to have several sets of trails along the river, which is the focal point of our city.) It was a particularly mild and beautiful evening, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I set out from one end of the park with the plan to run at least half way and back again (3 total miles), implementing the Chi method. Whew! After about 4 minutes I was totally winded. Okay, walk a minute and refocus. This time it lasted about 6 minutes, and then walk 2. I didn't really know why I was so winded but felt I must be running faster than usual by using this method. Come to find out, after rereading one of the chapters: "Setting up your running form properly is the first and most important step in ChiRunning. In the beginning, you will use more core muscle effort than you're used to." Well, no doubt! I spent 27 minutes out there, and while I was able to start and stop without effort, the run part was leaving me winded after only a few minutes. By the middle of the run, another runner passed me, looking somewhat like my old form. I was a little dismayed that I wasn't able to keep a constant pace. Even so, by the end of my run, I was very close to catching up with the other runner, and while I had stopped twice, she had not stopped at all. So that told me that my running pace was much faster than usual, with less effort (other than being winded). I am looking forward to my next run (tonight).
Another quote from the book that any one of us can use for any aspect of our training:
"Start simple. Remember the principles of Gradual Progress: The best things take patience and perserverance. . . . don't try to take on too much at first. Go slowly and celebrate your small successes. Do only as much as you can do well, and don't worry about the rest--it'll come."
That pretty much sums it up for all of our training. Trying to go faster all the time usually ends up in injury. Hurrying through workouts and trying to take on too much distance at one time also leads to injury. Then you are taking steps backward instead of forward steps of progress.
So much to always learn! As long as you keep your mind open, you never stop learning no matter your age.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

So here's the buzz around here. Funny thing, I just saw this thread on a TRI-DRS post. Stupid me, I thought it was just an abbreviation for Chicago running. And more brightness here, since I was going to Chicago that weekend, looked briefly at the thread thinking I might link up. Nothing about Chicago.

Then the other night at our group run, someone mentioned the ChiRunning method, saying how her twin sister was quoted in the book, etc., how she used the method when running Boston a couple of years ago, after suffering an injury. She figured she would just get through the race the best she could under the circumstances. But after attending a short workshop on ChiRunning, she was able to run the whole race without stopping, and of course she was sold on the benefits, thus the quote in the book. The concept with ChiRunning is to run pain and injury free. Now who wouldn't want that??

Naturally there were the pros and cons in the group, with comments ranging from "that's a lot of hooey" to curiosity in viewing the DVD. And naturally for me, always on a quest to improve something, especially running, I did a little research, reading some on it and then borrowing a book to further research. So far I haven't gotten that far into the book due to scheduling constraints, as usual, but I did manage to get my hands on the DVD and have watched it twice now.

After viewing the DVD, you can see how the concept works. There's a lot of good sense in the theory of ChiRunning. My main reason to try this method will of course be to be able pain and injury free. I have gone from loving to run to dreading to run because of all past injuries and constantly having something that hurts. And I hold back on my potential. After just getting back from the massage therapist and still having some pain, I have to look for an alternative to what I can do to prevent these injuries.

So I will attempt to put into practice this "new" (to me) method of running, running that appears, as the DVD shows, to be effortless. The hardest part of course will be in retraining myself. After viewing the DVD, I can definitely see all the things I and most other people do wrong when running, things that we have had pounded into our heads during training. (Examples: ChiRunning: swing your arms; other runners: pump those arms. (The idea here is that arm pumping wastes energy.); ChiRunning: run with a slight lean (so as to let gravity work with you); other runners: stand upright (making you a heel striker).) I could go on and on, and I was very surprised when they showed the contrast.

If I could find a coach in the area who had a workshop convenient, I would sign up without hesitation. However the closest is in Chicago on a weekend when it would be very difficult for me to attend. (Note: this particular coach is holding a workshop in St. Joe specifically aimed at Steelhead, and once again I can't attend that, but if anyone is reading and wants to attend, here is the website:

So now I am off to practice my chi.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Daffodils and Tulips. One of the most pleasant sights of spring. All the beautiful flowers. And this is what I see from my kitchen window. Really abundant this year.

We have been blessed with one of the most beautiful springs I can remember. Bike rides have started happening and the mileage is climbing. Its almost too good to be true. Today was probably one of the most beautiful days I can remember. Warm sunshine, light to no breeze, blue skies, almost like Montana weather. Montana is where my son lives, and I will be visiting with him after his having moved there last year. We plan to visit Glacier Nat'l Park, swing down to Bozeman to visit him, and head home detouring through Yellowstone. Bozeman is only about 45 miles from Yellowstone, so there would be no excuse to not go there.
A few posts today seemed to be filled with thanks for all the good things we have and the comparison from real life to training for an Ironman, and which might be harder.
For me, I can't make a definitive comparison. Ironman still scares me some, although I am moving more over the line of being less afraid all the time. Real life though? That can be down right hard. There is no escaping it. There is no putting off today, where you might put off a workout if things don't go right. There is no putting off a terminally ill parent, or a child who decides to end his own life, or elderly parents who need taking care of as much as your children did when they were young. Those things all happen and you have to deal with them the best you can. Ironman is something you make happen and hopefully it happens the best you can make it. There is a difference, although I am not lessening the effort, hard work, emotional rollercoasters, or anything else that is Ironman. So why am I afraid? Is it because I already know my life is hard enough and I'm not sure I want to take on any more? Lots of food for thought today.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Yesterday was supposed to be my usual run day, but after a hard run Friday, a hard day at work Friday, another half day of work on Saturday, a semi-long bike ride (for me) Saturday, a late night Saturday, a whole day Sunday with family and food preparation, I guess Monday morning it caught up with me and I needed to sleep in a little. The plan then was to get a run in outside after work. It was a perfect evening. Mid-60s, no wind, sunny. But then I get a call late in the day to get home as soon as possible and dinner will be ready when I get there. Oh yeah?? So of course it wasn't, but it was the thought that counted I guess.
While waiting for this "dinner that was supposed to be ready when I got home," I figured it was a good time to go through the wardrobe and start weeding out the winter stuff and exchanging what I could from my spring/summer clothes. Some things I really did not want to think about wearing again. Others were still okay, and there were a couple of things new from the year before that I never wore because once I got them home I decided they didn't fit as well as I would like. That and the fact I had no shoes I could wear with some of this stuff other than the expensive orthopedic looking shoes I was forced to wear because of my foot injury. You just don't want to put a cute, nice, sassy looking dress on with flat tie shoes. Sort of "marmy" looking. I might as well have had a pair of taupe velcro walkers instead. Ugly.
I decided to try a few things on to be sure they would even be worn and surprise! Everything fit and was looking good. I had taken the chance of getting one new pair of sandles and those felt good too, as well as a pair of black heeled sandles. Geez, I might actually start looking like my old self. I might get back to the petite me, instead of the medium+ me. (Actually, that's NOT me!)
I have lost quite a few pounds up to this point, but can't say for sure how many. I do not want to weigh myself. I am going by how the clothes are fitting, and I might add they are fitting quite a bit looser.
Less weight makes it easier to run I am noticing as well. Not as much pounding. My morning run today was 45 minutes, so far the longest other than my long runs once a week. I am very gradually working up to longer distances, but still am keeping it slow enough to keep the heart rate under control, and do not hesitate to take walk breaks. I learned early on to first build base then speed, and I feel I am still a ways off from working on speed, although I sometimes chafe at holding myself back. I believe the long slow distance always builds far more in endurance than any speed work could, in my case at least, and I'm sure with others as well, and this applies not only to running but biking and swimming as well.
So it is looking to be a good spring so far!
On another note, congrats go out to Mike Kozlowski, a friend from here, who ran 3:06 in Boston yesterday. Way to go Mikey! Now go knock 'em dead at IMCDA!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Today was probably THE best weather day I can remember in forever, no matter what the month. That we have had 5 perfect days in a row is a miracle, especially when those days fall in April! The plan was to get as long as a ride in as I could manage, sandwiched in somewhere with all the other things on my agenda: work, coloring Easter eggs with the two grandsons, visiting the cemeteries, Easter shopping, hmm, did I forget anything?

The only thing not accomplished was trying to also get in a swim. After my 25 mile ride, my neck was pretty tight, and since I only breathe on one side, that would have added more aggravation to an already touchy situation.

So the ride. I finally got out there about 4:15. I was feeling okay, just a little tired, but decided to go at least half way on the bike trail (25 miles). There were lots of cars in the parking lot at the trail head, and more coming when I arrived, but I have to say, I had only one minor irritation with someone in a car who didn't use a turn signal, causing me to stop when I didn't need to.

The Musketawa Trail is an old railroad bed that runs 25 miles one way. I did the 50-mile round trip probably 5 times last year. I knew I wasn't ready for that today so opted to do half. Its still early, and I can't remember one year when I was able to ride this early except the year I got my bike. So off I set, by myself, which was okay. I really don't mind riding by myself for short distances. Today I was glad to be alone, so I could stay relaxed. It was an easy ride and I don't think I ever even got out of breath. Nice and steady. I decided to work on staying aero, which with my sore neck/shoulder I had to break it up: .25 aero, .25 drops; .25 aero; .25 drops. I didn't really start this until about 6 or 7 miles. This made the miles click by rather quickly. I stopped at the turn around to drink water and check my phone (yes, I bring one for many reasons). Left a message and headed back.

It must have been windier than I thought on the way out because my return time was a couple of minutes faster. That was a pleasant surprise. Even though I felt I was riding slow and relaxed, my time was only a couple of minutes slower than fast rides last year, so I must be making some progress. Yay!

If we had this glorious weather even half the year, I would be biking many more than the 1000 miles I biked last year (computer turned over at beginning of ride).

And while 25 miles doesn't seem much for those training for Ironman, my focus race is only a 40k, so I am ahead right here.

I'm thinking of doing time trials again this year to get faster. The only year I did that (the year I got my bike), I improved on a 15 mile course by 7 minutes, so I can really use that fast workout once a week.

I am looking forward to getting up to 50 miles, weather permitting, by the 3rd or last week in May. That would put me 3 weeks out from Johan's race, which is an Olympic distance. I really, really want to improve over my last two attempts.

Another bit of progress: I'm down at least at 10 pounds from when I started attempting to lose weight gained over the last 3 years in early March. I have to keep reminding myself that you can't undo 3 years in only 6 weeks. But it is coming off little by little. And I am feeling 100% more energetic, motivated, confident in my abilities, and enthusiasticly looking forward to this tri season!

I am feeling more my old self. Finally.

Friday, April 14, 2006

TGIF! Seriously. It has been a long day, not as long as others, but still hectic and busy. First things first. 7.1 miles again on the treadmill this morning. I had the luxury of sleeping in until 6 am because I wasn't scheduled to get to work until 12:30 (youngest son had 4 wisdom teeth pulled this morning; that would only be another $1200 this year, added to the $2500 last year for other dental work, plus dental benefits and $1500 the year before!). I can remember the days when I used to be able to run 7 miles on a lunch hour. Yes, that's right. Seven miles and back to work in 1 1/2 hours, including walking 4 blocks to and from the gym, and showering. Today it would take me about an hour longer to accomplish the same thing. Ah well, at least I am getting back to some semblance of mileage, albeit slow.

Slow really isn't that bad I'm finding. Slow has kept me from injury. Slow has kept me reined in doing what I can do, not what I think I should be doing. The only thing not good about slow is I don't feel I want to enter any running races at this point, although I am missing that quite a bit. But slow keeps me on track for my goals. I don't ache all day and don't feel dragged out and fatigued. Yes, I feel I need to rest after, but I can't always expect to go to work and sit and do nothing after.

And today was proof of that. I hit the office running today and didn't stop until getting home. And then its back tomorrow, so getting the longer run out of the way on Fridays (or during the week) is starting to work better than I thought and frees up the weekend to juggle bike rides depending on the weather, as well as other tasks and chores that need attending to.

This weekend it will be the dreaded taxes. I just have not had time to deal with them--mine and my dads. The forms are filled out--just need redoing and mailing.

This weekend it will also mean getting a bike ride in Saturday since that is the preferred weather day and Sunday is Easter. I really would like to get a swim in, but that is iffy at this point. I still need to do Easter dinner shopping, color Easter eggs with the grandkids, go to the cemeteries, and of course spend at least 3 hours at work. I was going to try to get to the local race and watch the finishers, but that's another iffy thing. I really do need to clone myself! Thankfully I got most of the house cleaned last week, so it will be pick up and laundry.

Do I try to do too much at once? Don't we all?? The thing that sets me/us apart from others is our needing to fit workouts in, but fitting those workouts in makes the whole rest of the weekend easier to deal with. Yes, there are times I just want to sit and do nothing, and I do from time to time, but not often. I guess I will have to wait for retirement.

Speaking of retirement, one of the women I work for retired today. She must be at least 62 but looks very good for her age. Married a second time and ended up with a very rich husband. So now she has traveling, gardening, and hobbies to look forward to filling her days. Don't you just feel sorry for her? :) I should be so lucky!

Well while I still have the contacts in, I need to look at the IRS website and plug away at these taxes. Happy training everyone and happy Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

ITS NOT FAIR! It's 70 beautiful degrees out, no wind, and partly cloudy and I'm working! Had I known it would have been this nice today, I would have planned somehow on a bike ride today. The number of these types of days that we get this early in the year can be counted on one hand usually. I guess we are pushing the limit, as we are at 3 in a row now. Instead, I swam this morning because I have other commitments this evening-BUT-I could have brought clothes and taken an extended lunch. I've done this before and it works great. The Y isn't that far from the park where we ride during the week, and its not that far from work either, so I could have gotten at least a 15 mile ride in. Hmm, this will take future planning. Its a good way to get a fast ride in and makes you work hard to keep a fast pace so you get back on time. I did this a couple of years ago and usually could get 16 miles in under an hour, and usually closer to the 52-55 min. range by pushing it. Its pretty much a gradual uphill on the way out, so it is a fast return on a slight downgrade. Not too busy during the day either, so not many obstacles in the way.

But I did do my obligatory mile+ swim this morning. I thought I was keeping track of laps but found out after checking my watch I was way over my planned time, so I know it was longer than a mile. And I was late for work again because I didn't get out of the pool until after 8 am! I have found I get into a zone very easily and can keep going and going and going, and had I not started counting strokes a couple of years ago I'd be running into the end of the pool every time I swim.

Tomorrow is the again planned hour+ run. I am hoping I can get the 1.5 hour run in again because this seems to work so well not having to jam up my weekends, especially since this weekend is already jammed packed and I still have to figure out when I can bike because of Easter. And the Y is closed on Sunday, so no swim that day. I may just have to double up on Saturday and still do everything else, making Sunday a needed rest day.

Its this weather thing! So unpredictable.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

OMG! Can we say perfect weather?? The ride last night was warmer than I expected. Despite this, every serious biker* out there still was in long sleeves. It was cloudy, windy, and about 75 degrees at 5:30. I thought I would be riding by myself (hoping in a way), but after about a 1/2 mile out, I ran into Don and Libby, who were finishing up about 13 miles. They decided to turn around and join me to get closer to 30 in. Tuesdays are usually an easy ride day, nothing too hard, too long, or too serious. It really is difficult to get into hard training mode after work when you can't open up to on the roads because of traffic, and you have the darkness factor playing its hand this early in the season. We don't usually get out much before May, but it has been mild, and several of these guys/gals are doing IMCDA so biking is on the agenda as much as possible.

My plan was to go out on the bike path, cross the river, take the river path to the end and come back. Found out from Don and Libby that the river path was still flooded about half-way down, so that meant just a shorter out and back. I didn't mind, since now it looked like we would be riding harder than I had planned. I was glad it was flat, as the wind was strong enough to almost put you at a standstill at times. And cross winds as well. I forgot I was in my second chain, and was really struggling to keep up until I switched to the big ring, and then at least I was within drafting distance of the two. One thing about biking with Don. He likes to talk, point, and push me harder than I want at times. The problem with his talking and pointing at different things is he tends to drift over into the other person's lane. It makes me nervous and I am constantly telling him to watch out, what are you doing?, would you quit cutting me off?? But he means well. :)

The thing that really upsets me about this bike path is they (municipalities) do not keep it up. By this I mean, there is always debris on the path, enough so that you have to walk your bike around it if you can get through at all. And because of yearly flooding, it is a real must that they clean/sweep this thing a couple of times a year, but they don't. Floods leave silt (fine sand), and this tends to blow and drift when cars go by in the car lane (which I realize is where most of the junk comes from), but an occasional street sweeper through there certainly can't cost the cities that much. The other trails around the area are well groomed and most of the time immaculate, but never this one. It is pretty sad to see it in such a state because it could be so beautiful. And now with gas prices so high, most of us will likely stay closer to town on the evening rides, meaning it will get that much more use, so you would think they could do something. I guess its time to make a call or write a letter again to get some action.

*serious biker here = wearing a bike helmet. Sad but true, but there are so many people who do not wear helmets. I guess its like wearing a seatbelt to some people. Me? I would rather not take the chance of a head injury in the event of a fall.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Monday was the most glorious day weather-wise, with the temperature actually getting warm enough to put windows down and sunroof open. Today is warmer yet. We have the type of weather here where to have any day this time of the year in the 60s and even 70s, it is something to get the best out of. Tonight will be a bike at the park. I've already been called about who is there, who is doing what distances, where they will be when I get there, etc. I pretty much don't mind going by myself if necessary. It lets me focus on my riding instead of trying always to keep up. Keeping up is good at times, but after work I need the ride that relaxes and frees the mind. I'm not close enough to doing any races that I need to be hammering yet. I am merely trying to establish good bases in all three sports, and am making good progress in the swim and run. Just need to get out on the bike more often, and of course that can't happen with the crappy weather we are blessed with.

So tonight will be a treat of sorts. I carry my bike around most of the time for one of those "just in case" nights where the temperature cooperates and there isn't any rain.

My heel that had been bothering me to no end for about 6 weeks seems to have simmered down, so funny that I get a call from a friend who just tried running a marathon, only to have to back out at the last minute with the same heel problem. And then he mentions another friend who has it too. Must be some sort of epidemic around here. One is an arch rival, and much as I would have loved to kept my secret to myself, I did tell both of them how I finally was able to cure the swelling and pain. I couldn't help but think to myself that this would be my chance to get a jump on her with my training, but decided against it. We both have our strengths and weaknesses, so even if I were to train to the point of being able to beat her at races, she might come through and surprise me anyway. Its just an ego thing of course.

IM Coeur D'Alene is suddenly getting closer. With IM AZ over, that is the next focus. Its a long way to drive and with gas prices so conveniently reaching almost the $3 mark, it is going to cost more in gas than hotels. That's pretty pathetic if you ask me. And somehow we got stuck dragging extra bikes along for others, so it pretty much necessitates bringing a bigger vehicle and having a packed vehicle both ways and everywhere in between.

Hopefully everyone out there is getting in some biking miles finally if they haven't been out yet. I personally am not a cold weather biking fan and don't feel the need to go out and spend tons of money I don't have on ride specific clothes. I have enough stuff that gets me by in the cold spring or fall weather, and that is good enough--windproof, waterproof if necessary, and moisture wicking. All are good. Just being able to finally get out is better. Enjoy!

Monday, April 10, 2006

d I Congrats to all those who finished IM AZ! We only had one athlete from the area, Jim, AG 6-64, finishing in 13:53. Amazing.

As for my weekend, I found I am REALLY liking doing a long run on a day other than Saturday or Sunday. I figure I might as well do as much as possible on a work day, since then I am forced to sit and relax, to a point at least.

Saturday was to be a travel day, so getting the run out of the way the day before was beneficial for that as well. I did make it to the pool and was only going to (1) swim 20 min., (2) swim 30 min., (3) swim 25 min., and finally ended up doing 2000 yards. It just felt so good in the water. I couldn't help think of the dolphins and beluga whales at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago last weekend, and how they swam so freely and effortlessly. That's how I felt Saturday. Free and effortlessly. Not particularly fast, as I felt as if I were plodding, but it felt good. So the 2000 yards just happened.

Sunday was not supposed to be as nice as it was, so I never planned to bike outside, but as it turned out, no wind and full sun made it hard to turn down at least a short bike ride. I knew there would be a group meeting at the park but opted to go alone as I knew they would be doing 64 miles, and I am not there yet. I could have opted to do an out and back with them, but that would have involved crossing one of the busiest highways by myself on the way back. I just don't have the guts to attempt that in the afternoon. Despite no real wind, you can still pretty much figure on some sort of windchill once you start moving. I really had no idea what to wear, but went by the temp. at the time I was leaving: 46 degrees. So it would be layers and windblocking clothes, gloves, ear covering, etc. I could feel the wind immediately and wished I had worn one more layer, but continued on. There actually was a wind once I got going. I decided to do the hills first and then turn back and do the flat part around the river. I felt good, just a little slower than my last couple of rides. Maybe it was all the clothes and the wind?? Took the bike path to cross over the river and came upon lots more people out enjoying the day. The bike path is good if you go early enough in the day, but usually gets clogged up the later in the day it gets, and the warmer it gets. Today was no exception, however I was able to keep going without a problem until I arrived at the bridge.

Now I am not usually rude or obnoxious about oblivious people in the way, but this was one of the rare occasions when I spoke up. There in the path, blocking the path, were two bikers. One had her bike laying across the path. The other had his bike upside down fiddling with the pedals or wheel. I shouted out "could you please move the bike?" The woman moves out of the way. I again shouted, "The bike. Could you move it out of the way??" Her answer? "Oh, well we just had an accident." Okay, but--"if you don't move the bike I'm going to have an accident." (there was nowhere to go and nothing to do at this point but stop). "Well sorreeee." That was her response. So apparently it is okay if she isn't using any common sense because something was wrong with one of their bikes? Both were standing. No one was bleeding. There was nothing obviously wrong, so how would I know they were having a problem? As I said, common sense would tell you to not lay your bike down on a path where others ride, rollerblade, run, or walk, regardless of the problem--unless you were unconscious. It was an accident waiting to happen. Duh!

Despite this, I decided to not let it bug me and rode on along the river. The river and the road were still showing signs of recent flooding, with groves of trees still in standing water, and debris still covering parts of the road. It really is the worst section of all bike paths in our area, but I realize this is due to yearly flooding (and probably lack of money). The bike path goes through 4 municipalities, and only this stretch is bad, so all in all a nice riding area.

Ended up with 15.6 miles, but it was long enough for what I intended for the day. Just getting out in the sunshine was bonus enough!

Today I again surprised myself and did 3 miles on the treadmill. I am actually looking forward to these runs and no longer dread having to do them, regardless of the distance. I am feeling a part of my old self return, am finding I have more energy than ever, and have shown a definite toning and weight loss. I still have a ways to go (for me, not that it is necessary), but it is just one of those things I am not consciously doing everyday, it is just happening, as being a part of me. Here is the quote of the day that caught my eye:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Things are looking good!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Saturday I wasn't sure how I would feel. It was a day of anniversaries--of deaths. Two years ago, it was David, my son-in-law, who lost his battle with depression, bi-polar disease, and whatever else was going on with him, when he took his own life. I can honestly say it was the most gut wrenching day of my life. Nothing could have prepared me for that. And the guilt, the blame, the anger, the grief--they haven't gone away, just got a little more recessed away in my heart and brain. I finally realized at the beginning of the year that I had to stop blaming myself and grieving for this young man. Yes, I miss him still. It wasn't always a great relationship we had, but having known him for 15 years where almost every day of those 15 years he was the type who was "in your face" about something--good or bad--leaves a lot of unresolved conflicts. And always the question of "WHY???" Why did he want to end his life, leaving so much undone? Why did he want to leave his kids behind to never understand or know what was going on to cause this? Why did he not think about anything but his own despair? None of those things will ever be answered. I only hope God has shown mercy upon his soul and has given him peace.

The other death anniversary was for one year. One year ago a lovely young woman was killed in a car accident, taking her away from family and friends. That too was a tragedy and no one can ever explain the why here either. Hopefully her family has had some time to heal and find comfort in her memories.

It didn't really hit me until going to the cemeteries and seeing the headstones, seeing the names, birth and death dates, and realizing that here was proof of an existence, however short the lives. It made the days of the tragedies come back so fully in my mind.

They say it takes about 2 years to get over a death, divorce, job loss, or any other type of loss or tragedy. Its been two years for David, and the hurt is still there, but at least I am moving forward out of my own depression and grief.

I remember the times we ran together, and how much he loved my bike (I still wear his helmet). He wanted my bike in the worst way, and I figured whenever I upgraded I would give it to him as a surprise. That never happened, and I find myself not necessarily wanting to get rid of the bike for any reason right now. He had wanted to do a triathlon, and swimming was a goal he needed to work on. But he let those dreams get away from him and got mixed up in things that only proved to be a negative for him. He never made the opportunity to get things right and get back on track with his triathlon dream. I never got the chance to bring him out of that funk and help him toward that goal. That's what makes this whole thing hard.

So maybe that's why I am turning a page here and starting to get back to my old self, training, planning, and hopefully soon racing again. I can't fall into the same hole he fell into because I couldn't save him. And I could no longer grieve and let that dictate what was going to happen to me over the next several years. I chose life. I only wish David had.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ah, Friday. 7.1 mile run this morning, starting at--are you ready for this--5:20 a.m.! I woke shortly after 3 am and couldn't get back to sleep. Things going on at work that could dictate my future years here. Not sure if I can pull it off, so of course I have to think through all the scenarios of possibility and never got back to sleep. Finally got up at 4:30 and made coffee, got on the computer, did some laundry, and finally, OMG its 5:10! Hurried and got dressed and got on the treadmill earlier than planned, but it worked.

7.1 miles is more than 3/4 of a mile longer than last week for just a few more minutes. I am still holding myself back to trying to build up distance and endurance before I start trying to go faster. I do on my shorter runs, but running faster takes time to condition the body so as not to get injured before actually accomplishing any goals. While it should be boring, it has now become more of a challenge and adventure. Surprisingly, the time goes by much quicker when I am running slower because I am not gasping for air and my foot isn't flaring up. I have scheduled walk breaks and it is easy to stick with a running pace when I hold my speed to an aerobic pace.

But 7.1 miles on a treadmill is also near my breaking point of several weeks ago when I thought I would go mad. I have actually surpassed the amount of time I had done before, but my miles are lower. But I am not feeling that stressed, and so far I have recovered well enough. Especially considering the fact that now I must be at work for the next 8 hours.

I tend to get crabby after long runs, while at the same time I am calm. Calm inside, because of the effort put forth and then the recovery after, sort of like the storm and then the calm. Crabby though too because yes I am a little tired and don't want to do anything else but relax. I wouldn't be able to sleep however, and most likely won't be able to sleep easily tonight either. Just the way it always has been.

Two Friday mornings in a row now, and two long training runs because of out-of-town weekend plans. I'm actually getting to like this for the simple fact tomorrow I don't have to do anything and can rest up before Sunday when I would like to get a long ride in, either in or out (lows in the morning predicted for 26, high of only 52). That way I don't feel like my whole weekend is spent training. Maybe that's why after a while that gets to be a drag. I am already up early on Fridays anyway. Even if I don't sleep well tonight, it won't necessarily affect Saturday, and by Sunday I should be okay for a long ride or workout again. I tend to cram too many hard workouts together and then burn out down the road a ways. I used to race almost every weekend, and with running it wasn't that big of a deal. But with triathlon, there aren't any in my immediate area except in September, so that means travelling, and basically spending the whole weekend again working out. This might be a good alternative for me. I need at least one day of down time, and with all the other things I have to tend to all weekend, and oftentimes I work too, it will be mind freeing to not have to plan a hard workout on Saturdays all the time.

Most of the tri friends I have, like me, are older, where they either don't have kids or they don't have kids around any more, and only me and one other have grandchildren, so they can spend all weekend every weekend training and/or travelling to races. I don't feel I want to do things this way any more. I do wish I only had to work 4 days a week because then I could have one day to myself and two days to do heavy training, instead of cutting it short to have the time to myself. Ironman will have to wait until I get a balance of free/work/training time.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

So today in the pool, I felt a new calmness. I don't really know what it was. I had almost thought about not going, because I woke up way early and really wanted to sleep longer, but didn't feel like I needed to sleep longer so got up. (That in itself was an oddity.) I really should have stayed home and cleaned up the house that didn't get done last night from being out with the grandchildren, but I knew it would be there when I got home too.

The main pool was full, as usual, so I went to the "leisure" pool. A huge wave of heat hit me as soon as I opened the door to that pool, but no one was in it except a few nappers. (I don't know what they were doing but they weren't moving and they weren't swimming, so I would have to assume they were napping.) The water and air in the leisure pool are always warmer than the lap pool, to cater to the arthritis classes, and the pool is shorter, but I really don't mind that since I know it is 44 laps for a mile. I did a mile last week and timed it and timed it again today. Last week it was 41:xx and today it was 38:25, closer to my average. I don't know why I always swim faster in the shorter pool, because I still keep track of laps and know the difference between the pool lengths. And there are more turns, so it is confusing, but it is always the same.

Today I started out double breathing down and single back. What I mean here is I took one breath for every 4 strokes instead of one for every 2 (I have yet to master bilateral breathing--maybe because one breath for every three strokes feels awkward). This has been a test in the past to see how my breathing and heart rate are doing. While I feel like I am swimming a little slower with this method, usually it leaves me breathless after about 10 laps anyway. Today I did the whole mile this way: double breathing down, single back. Maybe this is where the after-swimming calmness came from. I just didn't feel workout stressed. I wasn't out of breath. I wasn't tired. I just felt relaxed, like you often feel like after a long run. So maybe it was endorphins? Not sure as I really wasn't in the water that long.

Tomorrow will be another long run in the morning before work, meaning getting on the treadmill by 5:30 am. If I keep waking up without the alarm before 5 am, this should work okay. Saturday I will either do nothing (before the drive to Detroit and back) or do another mile swim. I try not to use my feet two days in a row for hard workouts to prevent any more heel problems. And if I don't drive, hopefully I can snooze from time to time. :)
So today in the pool, I felt a new calmness. I don't really know what it was. I had almost thought about not going, because I woke up way early and really wanted to sleep longer, but didn't feel like I needed to sleep longer so got up. (That in itself was an oddity.) I really should have stayed home and cleaned up the house that didn't get done last night from being out with the grandchildren, but I knew it would be there when I got home too.

The main pool was full, as usual, so I went to the "leisure" pool. A huge wave of heat hit me as soon as I opened the door to that pool, but no one was in it except a few nappers. (I don't know what they were doing but they weren't moving and they weren't swimming, so I would have to assume they were napping.) The water and air in the leisure pool are always warmer than the lap pool, to cater to the arthritis classes, and the pool is shorter, but I really don't mind that since I know it is 44 laps for a mile. I did a mile last week and timed it and timed it again today. Last week it was 41:xx and today it was 38:25, closer to my average. I don't know why I always swim faster in the shorter pool, because I still keep track of laps and know the difference between the pool lengths. And there are more turns, so it is confusing, but it is always the same.

Today I started out double breathing down and single back. What I mean here is I took one breath for every 4 strokes instead of one for every 2 (I have yet to master bilateral breathing--maybe because one breath for every three strokes feels awkward). This has been a test in the past to see how my breathing and heart rate are doing. While I feel like I am swimming a little slower with this method, usually it leaves me breathless after about 10 laps anyway. Today I did the whole mile this way: double breathing down, single back. Maybe this is where the after-swimming calmness came from. I just didn't feel workout stressed. I wasn't out of breath. I wasn't tired. I just felt relaxed, like you often feel like after a long run. So maybe it was endorphins? Not sure as I really wasn't in the water that long.

Tomorrow will be another long run in the morning before work, meaning getting on the treadmill by 5:30 am. If I keep waking up without the alarm before 5 am, this should work okay. Saturday I will either do nothing (before the drive to Detroit and back) or do another mile swim. I try not to use my feet two days in a row for hard workouts to prevent any more heel problems. And if I don't drive, hopefully I can snooze from time to time. :)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spring Break.

Typical weather here--rain/snow mix, more snow than rain now, after almost 24 hours of downpour. Tomorrow is predicted to be more of the same.

I do believe spring break weather is what actually broke me weatherwise years ago and I turned to the treadmill during that particular week every year. The kids were out of school and it was easier to run on the treadmill rather than outside. I had reached a point of no-return with running outside. I expected weather to be remotely warm by April, but it has never failed to snow during this particular week.

This is the second year in a row of staying home this week (actually meaning working and not traveling), so you would think I would learn to get out of town with the rest of the snow birds.

I did spend the weekend in Chicago, and since most of it was spent indoors, the weather wasn't much of an issue. But today it is. I don't want to be looking at snow in April. It is April showers that bring May flowers, right? Alas, I am afraid it seems that April showers only lead to snow and more cold. They do predict 60 by Thursday. Somehow, I don't think that far ahead or believe it will happen until I actually see it.