Saturday, December 30, 2006
The weather here has been phenomenal. I love it, that's for sure. No, its not tropical or anything near to that, but it is unbelievably warm for this time of year, mild, no snow, and dry otherwise. I have regretted not being able to take advantage of these great days every day with a run, but there are so many other things I need to work on, like swimming, weights, etc. So today, it was a planned run on the schedule, the last of the year and the last before the first run of the new year.
I decided not to get hung up on the numbers, but I have to say I was thrilled to again have made my goal from back in November when I started running again, and that was to run non-stop for 30 min. by the end of the year. I made that goal, and more than once over the past few weeks.
So that hurdle was out of the way and now it will be on to new distances and new challenges. I know its mind over body most of the time, and I am working on that all the time. When I get tired, I relax, get my breathing under control, and before I know it I am over that hump. How often I will be able to do that over the next year will be determined.
Today, though, I couldn't help but revel in the beauty of the day (and secretly wish it were like this the rest of the winter!) and be thankful to be able to still run and go on with living.
Another 30 min. put into the bank of triathlon.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Today was another long swim day, so of course that meant lots of time to think. :) I forgot until I got to the pool though that they had to make a repair yesterday so had been warned that the pool would be cooler than usual for a few days. 78 degrees. Almost cold enough for a wetsuit. Once you're in, its not so bad, but it definitely took my breath away for a few laps. It got me thinking what my coldest swim temperature was, and most likely it was in Lake Michigan, at any time in the summer, and being under 60 degrees. I am hoping it is not that cold for Steelhead next year!
Other thoughts going through my mind was reclarifying my running plans. I had said I would need to be running outside all the time from now on, and Sharon asked if I didn't like the treadmill or running inside. On the contrary, I like doing that too much! I get way too attached to creature comfort running, but realize I need to get back to reality running more often, and that means running outside more. Oh, I don't expect to do it more than once or twice a week over the winter. I'm not that much of a diehard any more! I just figure I need to do my long runs outside to get me used to training in adverse conditions. I read once where you need to train in the worst conditions to be able to handle anything on race day, and I believe that. But I definitely will use the treadmill to fall back on for short runs and times when I just can't face the weather. I just don't think I need to be going out in subzero or icy conditions all the time trying to prove what? Its as much of a mental toughness to stick out the mileage on a treadmill too.
My other train of thought took me to figuring out a workable, yet effective, training schedule for the next few months anyway. I'm sure things will have to be ramped up once biking season comes (and you never know when that might be around here!), but for now, I want to figure something out that eliminates the need for any "two-a-days" as much as possible. I still find I get fatigued easier so have to allow for recovery time, and once I am done with working for the day, I find it very difficult in the dark and cold months, to think about training again. It gets to be a vicious cycle then: get up at butt early o'clock to go to the gym for workouts, get to work and face whatever comes your way for the next 8+ hours, and then head back to the gym for another workout, hustle home and make dinner, and then reorganize for the next day. I'm not ready for that much yet. The only day I want to do that is on pilates day, which is an evening class. My friend Jan from work keeps pushing me to get in on spinning, but truthfully, right now I just can't seem to justify that. I really need to focus on running during the winter, because I know that's what will work best for me. She's training for Boston and really isn't concerning herself with the triathlon season that will follow, but therein lies our differences: she has the run down, I don't.
So here's my initial thoughts on my workout plan:
Tuesday: Weights/short run in the am; pilates in pm
Thursday: Weights/short run
Saturday: Run, building on distance weekly as much as possible
Sunday: Bike/short run
I figure this covers it all. But where's my rest day or day off you might wonder? Those would be my swim days. I am fortunate enough to be okay with my swimming to be able to use those as "off" days. Its not swimming that makes me tired. Its everything else involved with going to the gym and then to work that gets to me after a while. I figure I have some flexibility on when I can do most of this stuff as long as I am not taking organized classes like spinning. If they had spinning on days when I was doing biking otherwise, I would do it. If they get a spinning class on Wednesday mornings, I will consider that. Otherwise, it looks like I will be working out on my own most of the time. Again, this is a frustrating issue with me and Don, that I don't work out with his group more, but I don't see any of them with the same life issues I have, and they are all so much more advanced than I am. I find that changing my schedule around to fit theirs just doesn't work most of the time.
I'm sure I will tweak this schedule from time to time, so don't want it written in stone, but it seems to be easy enough--that is, flexibile--for me to follow. I will need to allow for any weeks when I might be doing a race, and that always confuses me. Too much or too little? I just am someone who finds it easier to do something every day, varying the long and short.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
One thing I like about long swims is that it gives me time to think about other things, sometimes solving things, sometimes just getting random, muddled thoughts out of the way. And I am actually getting better at not only thinking, but counting laps at the same time!
During my last swim, I started thinking of upcoming training for 2007--what I needed to do, how I would do it, etc. Two main issues keep presenting themselves. The first is I need to be doing more running. The second is I need to get a bike.
Doing more running is so obvious. Doing more running will certainly make me stronger. Doing more running will help maintain my weight better. Doing more running will make any triathlon easier. As my friend, Tom Henson (multi-time Ironman, marathoner, ultrarunner, etc.), always says: "It all comes down to the run." How many triathlons have been decided during the run? From what I have seen, that's where its at. Oh sure, you have to have a decent swim and bike, but without the run, there is no win.
Running is where I started, before the swimming, inside tris, biking, outside tris, etc. All I used to know was running. When I started running, I became instantly competitive. Not that I was competitive against others more experienced, but the competitive drive took over, and after just one year on the race circuit, I became an age group competitor. I knew how to train, I was willing to train, I raced to win. I was a force to be reckoned with for a long time. Without all the boring details, injuries, life, age, and loss of confidence took over, and I joined the ranks of other normal runners.
Running became hard. Long runs and marathons were mentally grueling, if not physically so. I was always "starting over" with my running because of one injury or another. I kept doing them because that's all I knew, but I was no longer "good" at doing them, and I didn't really enjoy it as much. I started swimming, and a new love took over. The odd thing though was once my swimming got to a certain point, my running improved again. While I no longer intentionally competed, I was once again running respectable times in my age group. So why not do a triathlon? Indoor tris became popular and then a new focus took over. I found that I could swim in the morning and run at noon and still do okay. I found that I could bike 30 min. on a stationary bike and still run a hilly 4 mile run with the guys and stay ahead of them.
When I did my first outdoor tri, my running was still going okay, but I wasn't doing any long races any more. Nothing over 10k for a long time. And while I panicked on the first swim and rode a borrowed bike for the bike, my run was good. I wasn't one of the faster people in my age group, but I was faster that day than now.
So what is it I need to do for this next season? Get back to basics. Get back to more running. I know that just since my accident, improving my running has made other things easier, I think, because I am stronger. I look at all the tri-geeks I know, and their strength comes from their running. Only a couple of them are super swimmers, and most of them have become super bikers, but they all have in common their super running, and I don't necessarily mean fast running, although the majority are fast. Not only do they focus their training on triathlon training, but they incorporate running into a major part of their year's training--from 10k races to marathons, they are out there all year long.
This isn't something I necessarily want to do, but something I believe I need to do. The smart thing, too, would be to get the long miles out of the way early in the year so the focus can be on biking during the biking season, so I won't have to be worrying about the running as much. That's easier said than done, considering our climate here. That means I will have to go outside and run consisttently from now until June! That means that no matter what the weather, I need to be running outside, and increasing my miles every week. This will be a huge step for me. I tried it last year and it still took me months to get to the point where I was doing more than 30 minutes of running at a time except for a race. I just didn't want to do it! But that was because something always hurt. I can't really say I don't have that problem right now, but I am learning to work through the pain and focus on the outcome.
Maybe that should be my theme for next year: work through the pain, focus on the outcome. Hmm. A lot of things to think about over the next few days before zero hour!
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
As predicted, during my run along the river and past the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, I saw no less than 20 media trucks or vans lined up waiting for some sort of scoop, I imagine. They were also readying the burial plot, so there were many curiosity seekers there with cameras as well. Fortunately for us, the weather is mild, cutting down on more chaos in our small downtown area than already we are getting. Typical of the area right now though, there has to be a major road shut down due to construction right in front of the museum. Um, yeah. I can see it now. We will probably have a major snowstorm the day of the local funeral too. LOL! It will be interesting to note when the first Secret Service start showing up. We always sit and watch them on the rooftops whenever there is any political celeb in town, which I suspect if it weren't for Gerald Ford, wouldn't be very often. We would probably remain an obscure, relatively unknown, yet major Michigan city. Sure, we have other things to offer the world, but we rarely get noticed.
I don't know how far I ran, but I was out there a little under 32 minutes, and that included waiting for 2 traffic lights. (I am not going to tempt fate and run against the lights!) I really felt like crap most of the way--my legs felt heavy and dead. I always feel better running in the morning, so I am hoping that's all it was. No way I ran 3 miles though!
I signed up for the New Year's Day run, which is 4 miles, so my main objective this week is getting enough running in so I won't totally die out there, but not so much that I do, if that makes any sense! I was glad to see the starting time is 8:30 a.m. instead of 8, which it has been in years past. A half hour makes a huge difference! :) I have no particular New Year's Eve plans, but just in case you know!
Tomorrow, if I don't do my weight/running routine, I will do a spinning class. I also plan to sign up for an indoor tri at the end of January, so I need to get a little more biking in. Maybe I should do a reverse New Year's Day indoor tri for practice? That's a distinct possibility. Belonging to the private club, I have access to a pool 24/7 if I want. Yeah, that's what I will do--if I don't die from the 4 mile race first!
I was surprised to hear on the news this morning of Gerald Ford's passing. Gerald Ford, hometown boy, 38th president of the U.S. Naturally, its all over the news here, and nationally as well. After getting hung up on the local news of the highlights of his life, I decided I would do my workout today outside--a nice run along the river, past the Ford Presidential Museum, and soon to be burial spot for the former president. The weather is supposed to be mild and warm today, and its likely after today you won't be able to get near the museum for a while. I'm expecting to see mourners and reporters filling the small, riverfront park so many like to jog and walk through at various times of the day.
I remember clearly the day 30 years ago when I woke up on a November morning to the news that Ford had lost the election to Jimmy Carter. I was pregnant with my first child and had gone to bed early the night before, before there was any clear indication of the election outcome. It was as if someone had kicked me in the gut when I turned the TV on and saw Ford conceding to Carter. Forgive me for going political here, but I believe Carter was one of the worst presidents in our country's history, and certainly the worst in modern times. Back then, I didn't really follow the news much, back before the Internet provided me with most of my news as is true today. And while I admit I most likely voted for Ford because he was the hometown boy and favorite, I also had a bad feeling about Carter, then and now. Jerry Ford was a decent man for West Michigan and a decent man for the country. I honestly can't comment on his grade as president, but I realize he lost that election due to his pardoning of Nixon, something he did as a decent human being, my feelings notwithstanding. He certainly put human decency before his own self in that act, which is exactly why he has been loved by so many all these years.
So it will be with a little sadness as I head out today on a run, across the river, along the river path, and past the museum, as I think of this man and what he did for all of us. And hey, I might even get on TV!
Monday, December 25, 2006
I hope everyone had a wonderful day. I know the world and life itself isn't perfect, but hopefully you had one day or so of happiness with those you love or doing something you love to do.
My weekend started on Christmas Eve, since I worked Saturday. By then, I was done with all my shopping--since I had no more money, it was easy to make that decision! But it was such a perfect day! Sunshine, blue skies, warm weather--and best of all (for me)--no snow. It was just an enjoyable day all around, weather and all.
I started the day with a run from the park. By the time I got there, everyone else had taken off, but I am okay with this. I wanted to run alone, at least for now. I am still a little hesitant to go out alone, but I did bring my cell phone. I decided to head down the river path, since with no snow it would be clear. I figured since I had run the 3 mile race the week before, today would be a good day to run to the footbridge over the river and back, about 4.4 miles total.
After just a few minutes on the path, I came to a flooded spot from all the heavy rains from the last two days and nights. I was hoping it wasn't too deep in the middle, so decided to go through, but sure enough, it was deep enough to cover my shoes, and it was freezing! Dammit, dammit, dammit, I said as I tried to hop through the puddle. My shoes were soaked and my feet were now icy, but I decided not to turn back. The rest of the path was higher ground, so I didn't expect any more flooding. With luck, there was none.
I am always bargaining with myself: I'll run 15 min. and walk; I'll run 20 min. and walk; I'll run a mile and walk. That is my downfall, allowing myself to walk when I really don't need to. I am running easy, I am not out of breath terribly, and I am certainly not sprinting, so no real reason, right? Right. So on and on it went. Before I knew it, I was coming upon 3 other ladies. As they got closer, I could see it was Libby, Kim, and an unknown person. We said hello and kept going. Sometimes I am saved from myself by the simple fact of running into other people--I don't want them seeing me walk, so I keep going, I push past my down times. By now, I was at about 15 minutes and I decided I was going to keep going.
Next, I came upon Lecia and Sue, both slower runners like me. I probably could have gone out with them today, but we didn't link up. They stopped, and I stopped, and I was glad for the short break. I told them I was going to the bridge and they let me know I was getting close. I was at 21 min. by then, so knew I was getting close, even though I couldn't see the bridge yet. So on I went, glad for the second wind.
At the bridge, I turned and did decide to walk a couple of minutes. But then I started back up and didn't really know what I would do except keep going. By the time I knew I was well into the third mile, I was really getting tired, and wanting to just be done, but then I remembered the puddle and decided if I made it that far without walking, I would walk through the puddle. On and on I trudged, and since I couldn't remember exactly where the flooded spot was, I had the stupid idea that it had somehow dried up while I was out (I wasn't out there that long), but I finally came to it and was tired enough by then that I let myself walk through it. It was just as unpleasant the second time. I was at 45 min. and I was about a half mile from the end. I kept checking to see if anyone was behind me, but I never saw anyone. I knew someone would probably come running up fast behind me, so I half expected someone at this point to just show up, but no one did.
I was finally off the path and back on the road and really wanted to be done. I was bargaining with myself again: just to the corner; just to 50 min.; just this and just that. By now, though, there were other people coming behind me, so now it was a matter of pride to keep plugging along to the end. I waved at the people already driving away, and tried to keep my mind off the overwhelming fatigue I was feeling. When I got to the end of the path, and was back at my car, it took me a few minutes to get my breath back. Another woman came over and asked how my injuries were, and proceeded to go into an account of when she broke 2 ribs two years ago and how she was still suffering from it, blah, blah, blah. I don't get it, because she runs far more than I do ever, and yet she still complains about her old broken ribs (which, I might add I was the cause of when I crashed my bike into her in a torrential rain and my bike slipped out from under me and into her, so I do feel responsible). Anyway, I was glad to be done and still had a full day ahead of me, so I chatted briefly and took off.
I met my daughter at the gym so she could work out and took one of the kids with me. I am glad to see she is working out on an almost daily basis. Even though she is about a size 2, at nearly 30 she was starting to go south, if you know what I mean. Working out these last few months has retoned her and she looks great again.
Austin, my grandson, and I were on a quest to find one more small stocking stuffer for my youngest son, which I had been unsuccessful finding up to this point. I should have known taking him shopping with me would wind up costing me more than I intended on spending! Always a sucker for treats, that's me.
We never found what I was looking for but found a suitable substitute and then headed home. I still had a day's worth of cooking to do for the next day and needed to finish decorating and cleaning the house. I had to bribe Austin with the prize of opening a gift early to help me with some stuff, although I'm sure he would have done it anyway! I had no time to think of being tired, and really didn't feel it, and even forgot about eating. We decorated the house, and then they had to leave for another party. I had the luxury of spending the next 4 hours puttering in the kitchen, making the food ahead of time, for our gathering the next day, listening to Christmas music. Still I forgot to eat.
By 5 o'clock, I was getting hungry and weary, but I had made huge progress for our Christmas day gathering. Don and I were going to the tri / running club Christmas Eve gathering that evening, and I still had to wrap a white elephant gift to bring.
The tri / running club has been gathering on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning for years. The first couple of years after my divorce, I at least had this to fall back on for Christmas Eve, but I was desparately lonely for my kids on that night and never really enjoyed myself until the last couple of years, when I finally realized this was the way things were, and I was lucky to have these friends to spend my favorite evening of the year with. Much as I wished my kids could be there, my consolation has been to have them all on Christmas Day.
We were to bring a gift to the party of something around the house that we no longer needed or used. I had a back pack I had gotten free a year before when I purchased $50 at a running store. I have 4 others, and had never used this, so it seemed a perfect solution. Then we play a sort of game where the object is everyone picks a number and then in number sequence, we get to pick a gift that appeals to us. The catch is that the next person up can "steal" your gift for themselves, and so on it goes. The hot item of the night was an old purse filled with 5 bottles of different beers. That made the rounds until someone was able to "steal" it back 3 times, which then you get to keep it; another was a mountain biking book and calendar. I ended up with a "regifted" portable foot massager. Who could have picked a better gift than that for me on that particular night? My feet were so tired, and it was a relief to slip them into the massaging slippers.
I was very tired by the time we left around 9:30, yet when I got home I still found other things that needed doing for the next day. Don and a bunch of others were meeting for their annual Christmas morning 5 mile run, but I told them when I left that night I would not make it.
The next morning, however, I got up again to the alarm, drank my coffee, and planned in my mind what I still needed to do that morning before everyone arrived, and plotted out whether I would go out and run or not. Two days in a row was going to be huge for me, but I felt I really needed to get a better workout in than just walking or nothing, after all the crap I had been eating the past few days. I finally got out the door, and was glad I hadn't passed up a chance to run on a mild, somewhat warm winter morning, with no snow and ice to hinder me.
I ran a little over 2 miles and was really whipped when I got home, but amazingly, I made it all day until about 7 pm before the yawns finally got the better of me. All the food was eaten, everyone seemed to have a great time, I got to send care packages home with the older kids, and I only ended up with 4 things to return! My dad was feeling okay that day also.
All in all, a wonderful Christmas!
Friday, December 22, 2006
Yesterday, I mentioned the weight training class one of the fitness instructors taught and who urged me to try her class. Classes are held M-W-F noons and W-F evenings. I thought hard about it, as far as when I could go, and finally decided this morning I would go at lunch time today. So I skipped the morning workout and just came to work early to have time to get away for this class. So guess what? She doesn't show. There were 3 other women and a guy who showed up, so it still gave me a chance to observe them and question the usual routines. What I saw convinced me that I could do this on my own, at my convenience, preferably in the mornings, and still accomplish what I hope to achieve--as long as I am consistent.
Here's what I observed: The only person using any weight over 5 pounds was the man, who was using 10 and seemed to be struggling at that. This guy is a big man, so 10 pounds seemed a little puny to me for someone that size. And he seems to be in decent enough shape otherwise. The women tended to go with quite light weights, and I can accept this, realizing their limitations and the fact that they aren't trying to bulk up, just gain strength. But again, some of the exercises they did seemed too tame for me. So I did my own time-tested routine, only at a much reduced level right now.
This routine I developed about 4 years ago from a book I read, and for the life of me I can't remember the name of it or the author. The only part I really remember is the routine I developed and some of the rationale behind it. In order to build strength, you need to lift as much weight as you can manage for three sets, starting out with legs, which are the biggest muscles. So I do leg presses, right now at 120 pounds. Three sets of 20 reps. Then I go to the chest, back, and arms. Three sets of 10 reps. And I'm done--with the weights. Then you go to cardio, 12-15 min. at a high intensity, whether running, biking, elliptical, or whatever, the idea being to work the heart muscle, and the idea again being to use higher intensity like you do with the weights--do as hard as you can but only for 12-15 min. There's no set standard on weight or speed, its as much as you can do. That means, for most people, that initially you will not, and should not, try to lift so much weight that you are staggered by it. In fact, it really is recommended that you spend 2-3 months adapting to any weight lifting to protect your joints, before you attempt to go with heavier weights. Eventually, with consistency, everything improves--how much weight you can lift and how fast you can run (if you use this for your cardio).
Since I have been doing some weights for the past 2 months, I decided it was time to up the weight, but so far am only at a conservative 8 pounds max for anything with free weights, and a varied weight on the machines, and 120 for leg presses, the ideal to be able to lift your own weight--with your legs that is. 120 is pushing it for me, but I have gone up from 80 to 100 and now 120, so I'm not just jumping up to 120. When it gets easy, I will go up more. Same with the arms. When I get on the treadmill, I start at my usual 11 min. miles and after a min. go under 11, then after 5 go to 10:30, and at 10 min. I go to 10 min. miles. I can't run more than a few minutes at this pace right now, so it is a good place for me to max out. I am hoping after a few months I will be able to do this whole thing in the 9s like before.
What it has done for me in the past, when I consistently did this 2-3 times a week, was helped me build body strength and gain running speed, to a pace I could hold for at least a 5k. And that's all I really care to do right now. It served two purposes: (1) weight training and (2) a speed workout so to speak. And it is easy enough so I can do it at least twice a week but am not too tired to do other things too.
I have another routine I got from Runners World many years ago, but that is more for building endurance for longer runs or races, and is much harder and more involved to do. If I ever get back to being able to do that, I will know I'm ready to tackle an IM race.
Nothing like starting the day out with a melt-in-your-mouth piece of Belgian chocolate. Or maybe some Moose Munch. How about some Peppermint Bark? Those are just a few of the Christmas delights I found on my desk this morning. Everywhere I go in this office, there is food, food, and more food. Treats to be exact. Homemade, store bought, treats from clients. The other day, I kid you not, I got 10 e-mails in a row about client treats that were dropped off: cheesecakes; nuts; cookies; fruit. You name it, we've got it! With my oven being totally dead (I just found out), I am tempted to come by at night and load up and take home for my guests this weekend! Who would miss any of it??
But there is good news, according to a news report put out by NBC's Today Show last week. According to their "experts," the "average" person only gains 1 pound during the holidays. That's 3,500 calories. I have quite a distrust of the media, so have to wonder who exactly are their consultants that have come up with this 1 pound theory. Hey, if that's what people want to believe, I'm okay with that. And according to this report, there is really no need to watch what you eat if we're only talking about 1 pound. That's easy enough to work off. Oh sure, if you didn't eat for the next 3 days!
Personally, I'm not going to worry about it. I'm not going to go hog wild on the junk, but I certainly am not going to deny myself that delightful chocolate luring me into oblivion. I have lots of people coming around this weekend that will hopefully help me dispose of all the excess goodies.
So eat, drink, and be merry this weekend. Have a safe and happy holiday. Get your workouts in. Figure out your schedules for next year. Enjoy!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
That seems to be on a lot of people's minds right now. I had hoped to get in some serious weight training during the off season, but for obvious reasons, that hasn't happened. I am just starting to be able to do some of the exercises I did before, but at a much reduced weight load, of course. Still, I realize the value of weight training.
When I first started, probably 19 years ago, when my youngest was a baby, I was at home during a leave from work (gee, you think I deserved it after having 4 kids??), but was actually working part-time evenings. So I was home all day, and the only day time TV I was interested in was anything to do with fitness. I was determined, even then, to not let myself slack and get out of shape (actually, I was trying to get back into shape), and this was still before I started running. There was the usual aerobics and yoga (a totally new and foreign concept back then), and then I found on PBS an older woman doing some weight training (she might actually still be on TV!) and Denise Austin. Both were doing some light weight training. I didn't have any weights other than my husband's barbell set, which was scattered all around the house in various stages of lost (since he rarely used it), but they did suggest using soup cans or other canned goods. I had those.
From that primitive start, I began a regular weight training routine, along with my aerobics. I noticed even from the light weight of the cans that after a while my biceps started taking on some definition, and lugging around another baby seemed a little easier.
The following spring, when I actually started running and was back working part-time days, I joined the community college gym (a mere $80 a year, but even back then a stretch for my budget). Once I joined the gym, it was like I was in heaven! All the things I dreamed of: weight machines, free weights, exercise bikes, treadmills. I couldn't get enough of it. But I was restricted to just the 3 days a week I worked away from home. That's when I became more exposed to weight training. Without really knowing anything at all, I watched the guys to see what they were doing, and scaled down my own routine from that.
After I had my 4th baby, I started suffering badly from carpal tunnel. Apparently this is fairly common during pregnancy and after birth from all the bodily changes (I'm not going to go into the actual details) and the fact that I was working evenings as a medical transcriptionist, so I was spending 5-8 hours a night straight typing. My wrists got so weak and sore, I couldn't even shift my 5 speed car with one hand. Once I started even the slightest weight training, that problem started clearing up, even though that too was difficult at first. I haven't been bothered once from it now in the 19 years since, and I have often told the women at work who have the problem and those who even have had surgery, that weight training is the way to go.
So its been on my mind a lot lately, and I've been trying to figure out not only some time to get this done, but what I can do in my condition right now to get those muscles that are weakest built up to be able to handle the load of heavier training to come.
After my run workout on the treadmill today, I was on my way to the locker room when I ran into the weight training instructor at the gym. We have talked briefly before, so she knew a little of my accident and my condition. She complimented me on my running. "Boy, I wondered who was pounding out those miles in there. You're pretty fast." NOT! But I won't let on to that. Anyway, the conversation got around to her classes and why didn't I come, etc. I have been meaning to take advantage of her free classes at this gym, but its 3 days a week at noon, or 2 nights a week. If it weren't for all this stuff with my dad, I would have the time to go at least 2 times a week, so I am going to have to seriously figure out a schedule here. I have to wonder if this is an answer to my trying to get back into the routine. She's the same age as me (53), but probably 3 sizes smaller and way more fit looking.
If nothing else this next year, I want to achieve total body fitness, and having the muscular and toned look she has without being bulked up. I think that would be the ideal, and I know it would help with all 3 disciplines. I know I have lost a lot of muscle tone, and am really just getting back some strength in my upper body, but I also know I am way off what I was before, and I need a way to get that back without straining or over doing it. I don't want to make weight training my main focus, but want to use it to enhance my other fitness levels.
I am going to try to go to her class tomorrow and see how it goes. I figure that way I have the whole weekend to recover if it bothers me.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Today a miracle happened. This was one of the days when I had to take my dad for his weekly blood draws to check the white cell count after his chemo treatments. Last week, I pretty much reached the end of my patience when we went to his weekly appointment because, as on every other occasion, we spent two plus hours just getting his finger poked.
When they initially said he would have to have chemo treatments every 3-4 weeks, what they failed to tell us was that he would also need to get his blood checked weekly between treatments. Once the shock of knowing we would have to go to that clinic every week wore off, then the irritation started building at each weekly appointment.
What is supposed to take place is when we arrive, he gets signed in, they pull his appointment sheet, and he should get called in within 15-20 minutes. Until today, that never happened. The first two times we went, we waited just to get the blood drawn for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Why? Because for some reason they never pulled his chart. If I hadn't gone up to ask what the hold up was (after we saw everyone that came in behind us during that time come and go), they indicated there was a chart mixup. Oh fine, I just want to sit here freezing in the reception area next to the door because you screwed up! The next time, they couldn't even find his chart, so again we waited until I inquired as to what was going on. (I was catching on to the routine by then.) And unbelievably, the next time, the woman at the reception desk left for lunch before pulling his chart. She apparently got distracted by a call after we signed in and it totally escaped her mind. We didn't find that out for over two hours that time.
So then we come to last week. I was over tired, over booked on other things to do, and had an appointment myself that day, so I was in no mood for what took place at that appointment. First, there was no place to park within reason. Close enough for me, yes, but not close enough for an old man on a bitter cold day. I wanted him to get out at the door, but he insisted he was okay. That was until we had to park way around the back side of the building and then found out the entrance there was only for a particular office, so we had to hike back around to the upper level of the lot to the front of the building. I know he regretted not getting out at the door then. Next, upon registering, once again there was a mixup on his chart. I knew that from the fact that we had to fill out another information sheet--something they must use to track down a missing chart. This time, though, I followed up within 5 minutes to be sure they had his chart. Yes, you're all set, we were told. And he actually got called in within 15 minutes, so I was pretty happy about that, thinking we were going to get in and get out quickly, something that also worked in my favor to get everything else done I needed to do that day.
But alas, a quick appointment it was not to be. For some reason, they told him he needed to see his oncology nurse, Matt. Which meant we had to wait in the overcrowded waiting room they have for treatment patients. At least it was warm in there! But after waiting 15 minutes or so, my dad started his wandering, thinking if he walked around and looked for Matt, that we would get out of there much sooner. Sometimes, this actually works. But he couldn't find Matt, and after another 15 minutes, I was at my wits end, sitting on a hard-backed chair that hurt my shoulder, listening to a woman yap on and on in Spanish on her cell phone, and basically starting to worry I would miss my upcoming appointment. Still no Matt in sight. So I inquired of the whereabouts of Matt from the receptionist in that department, and she said she would tell Matt we were looking for him. We were looking for him? I thought he wanted to see us?? Another 15 minutes or so go by and by now I am steaming. I finally went to the receptionist and asked her to just tell Matt to call me if there was something he needed to tell us. I couldn't wait any more. She then very rudely said, "You don't even have an appointment until 1 o'clock." I said we didn't even have an appointment, but that the hematology nurse said he wanted to see us! Fortunately, right then, Matt showed up and said he did not want to see us, he just wanted to be sure we had a correct schedule for the future appointments. OMG! I was ready to strangle someone at this point.
I told my dad that day, after I griped all the way back to his car, that from now on, we are going to go, get the blood drawn, and leave, no matter what they tell us they want us to do. I figured if he pretended like he didn't hear them, what could they do? Call us, that's what. There wasn't anything we would have to do that day that a phone call couldn't fix.
So today, as I said, it was a miracle! We got there, waited less than 10 minutes, and were out the door within 20 minutes of arrival! Yipee! I was only gone from work 1 hour 15 minutes instead of the usual 3. Do you realize how much more time this gives me this week to get other things done??
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
That's what I figured when I signed up for Steelhead. It wasn't exactly an impulsive decision. I had said at Steelhead this year (August) that I wanted to do the race next year, so it was more of a follow through for me. Had I not had to sign up this early, though, to be sure of getting in, I can tell you I would have procrastinated until the last minute to decide.
In a way, I'm relieved to have the decision over--I know what I have to do and can now move forward to being prepared. There are a few drawbacks here though, and the first is not having made a decision on a bike. I keep waiting for the insurance company to come through with some sort of payment, which I would then turn around and put on a new bike, but that hasn't happened, and quite truthfully, I'm not confident I will ever see anything from this accident except pain and suffering and residual pain and suffering.
Residual pain is most likely the reason for my shoulder flareup this weekend. Just from doing what I would normally do (and really not even half of what I would normally be doing). That is another issue I will be dealing with this next year. The more I do and push myself to accomplish, the more likely I will have pain like I had this weekend. So I realy don't know what way to go with this--push myself and see how far I can take it or pace myself and hope I make it (and it even rhymed!).
Steelhead is August 4, 2007. That gives me 8 full months to get ready for this race. I do hope to be able to do a few other tris before that, so really I will train for those as a buildup to Steelhead. Right now I figure if my brain can perceive it, I can achieve it, and I can see myself doing at least that distance. Naturally, I can't make any predictions on finishing time right now, and I don't even want to get hung up on numbers until I actually get a bike, start riding, and see how the other races go.
We all know there are so many variables in a triathlon, and the longer the distance, the more variables there will be. Aside from the training, my main concerns will be managing pain and figuring out a nutritional plan that will work for me. I already know what products out there don't work for me on shorter races, so I won't even try to incorporate them into a longer race. I want to be able to come up with a plan suitable for me, that is also compatible with what they offer on the course. I haven't been very successful in this aspect in the past, so I will really be concentrating on this part of my training.
People are always amazed at all the things I do, especially after the accident, but I am amazed at the fact that I actually sat and did NOTHING for two whole months. Sometimes I feel like it was a forced rest, not necessarily appreciated, but I do feel I rested. Had it been under better circumstances, I would probably be feeling on top of the world, and I can definitely see where a break after a long training season can be beneficial and really not hurt you that much. If I can get back to where I am after a couple of months off, admittedly while recovering, I would hope next year I can wisely take at least a month off. If I am really going to eventually do a full IM distance, I think a long rest will be beneficial, mentally and physically.
So, now my focus is going to be on getting that bike. I have an idea of what I would like to get, now I just have to decide where I want to buy it. Bikesport in Detroit is where Don just went to buy his bike, but he has time to drive over there, get fitted, etc. I have to be practical in the fact that I don't really have time to drive 2.5 hours to a bike shop for a fitting. I have to wonder what the comparison is to the bike shops here in GR. Can they do a similar fit for me here, saving me the time and drive? I think I'm going to have to at least do some research there. And then I keep getting these e-mails from a place in Tucson that will pay airfare and hotel to come down and buy a bike from them. Um, yeah, I would love that! But the bikes they offer in that deal are about twice what I can afford right now. Decisions, decisions, something I have a hard time doing quickly. This is just what I needed to get me moving.
Monday, December 18, 2006
My streak of getting to the gym in the mornings finally was broken, thanks to an unplanned oversleep. Not that it started out that way. No, I did wake up, but then for an unknown reason, I fell back to sleep and didn't wake up until 2 hours later! Obviously, I needed the sleep.
Way too much partying this weekend was one reason. We had our annual office party on Thursday night, a formal affair, and while it wasn't terribly late when I left, I was so tired that day anyway that I was bleary-eyed most of the evening. And I actually had to work overtime that day, so I got to the party late. I had decided to take Friday off, however, just because I had some packages that needed to be readied and sent out by Friday, inventorying the gifts I had already bought, and catching up on my wrapping. That evening, I took my grandsons to see Peter Pan on stage, and while they were mesmerized, I couldn't keep from nodding off almost from the start.
Saturday, of course, was the 3 mile race, half mile swim after, work for a couple of hours to catch up lost time from the week, and then head home to wrap some more before getting ready for another party. This was given by one of the attorneys at his home, and only a small group was invited. Because I had ditched this party last year, I felt I should attend this year. I had a hard time getting myself out the door, since I was still so sleepy. It was nearly midnight by the time I got home, and then had a hard time sleeping, since I was a-buzz from all the chocolate and sugar I had consumed! It was probably 1:30 by the time I went to sleep.
Sunday I woke up early and then went right back to sleep until 8:30 am. I still felt sleepy and out of sorts, but I still had a few shopping items I wanted to get done, and I figured it would be better to get out there early before the after church crowd showed up. So I was out the door by 10 am and on to the mall! I was pretty much done (and out of money) by 3 pm so headed home. It had been a lovely, warm, and partly sunny day, enough so I could open the sun roof in my car and enjoy the fresh air. I was glad I had taken the time to get my car washed the day before too or there would have been a nasty glare from the sun shining through the salt buildup on my windows.
Don and I had talked about running later in the afternoon, but at this point I decided walking would be enough. My shoulder was aching something fierce, more so than it had in a long time, and I also didn't want to spend the extra time it would take to get dressed to run and then shower after. So we walked. For 45 minutes. He was ready to go longer, but I had had enough, and twilight was actually upon us. The street lights came on and it wasn't even 4:30! We are approaching the longest day of the year, and then happily it will start staying light out longer each day, probably only by seconds at first, but I always do notice a slight change after December 20.
When I got home, I decided to tackle the candy making I had started the day before--Buckeyes. For those who are not familiar with these, they are chocolate covered peanut butter balls. To give them the "buckeye" appearance (chestnut), you dip them in the chocolate leaving just a portion of the top showing. Ha! While I have made these successfully dozens of times over the years, today was not going to be one of them. For one thing, the "dough" was too soft. Trying to roll this into balls left nothing but a melted mess on my hands and only a semi-firm ball to work with. Worse yet, trying to then pick them up to dip them into the chocolate, they melted even further, making it impossible to dip. So I had to pour the chocolate over these semi-shaped peanut butter blobs, wasting a lot of chocolate in the process. What I didn't eat then (you have to taste your creations), was wasted on these unsightly messes.
On to the other disaster then, my first attempt to make turtle candies. I had the pecans, the caramels, and more chocolate to be melted. I followed the directions of a recipe I got from the Internet, a very simple, hopefully no-fail recipe. Once again, things did not go well. The recipe called for placing the pecans on a baking sheet in the shape of a turtle. ?? What would that be? Try taking pecans and making them look like a turtle, I dare you. On top of this, you put one caramel. Then you place the cookie sheet into the oven just long enough to melt the caramel. Remember, my oven has been on the fritz (hopefully to be fixed today!), so I had to put them in my toaster oven. While the caramels were melting, I was spooning chocolate over the peanut butter balls. The next thing I knew, the caramels were still not melted, but now the pecans were looking scorched. Great! I turned the oven off and just let the heat finish melting the candies, but again, by the next time I looked, most of the caramels were melted but had oozed off the nuts. It almost looked like burnt cheese. Well, I guess I'll just put the chocolate over these and see how they taste later. In the meantime, I will not make any more. (Now what do I do with all the other unwrapped caramels??)
I spooned the chocolate over these messes and then put everything into the refrigerator to set. When this was done, I tried to get the turtles off the foil and could immediately see that they might not be edible. They were hard as a rock. But they actually tasted okay, burnt nuts and all.
By this time, I'm about sick from all the chocolate and nuts I had been munching on and decided to do some wrapping for a while. My shoulder was now hurting so bad that every move made me groan. I started wondering if I was out of alignment and would have to go see my chiropractor, which was not on the schedule until Wednesday.
After I wrapped for another hour, I made some dinner and then found it hard to get up and continue on with the rest of my chores for the night. I was tired and achey. I finally made myself get up and clean the kitchen and make my lunch, wrapped a few more things, and then finally tried to settle down. It was after 10 o'clock by then, and my shoulder hurt so much I was really miserable. I took an 800 ibuprofen and a muscle relaxant, to no avail. I then tried some heat, and that relaxed me enough so I finally was able to fall asleep around 11.
I didn't sleep well because of my shoulder, so today I will have to go have it looked at. I'm sure all this contributed to my oversleeping, ya think? It will be nice when all this is done later this week. I am having my family for Christmas again, instead of my sister, but hopefully the oven will be fixed and I have everything ready! If I get a workout in today, it will definitely have to be after work, but I am not betting on it.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
That's what I thought anyway. The weather was in the upper 30s, a stiff breeze, and partly sunny. Pretty nice for December. Today was the annual Grand Rapids Running Club's Candy Cane Run. A couple of weeks ago, when I started seeing some mileage improvement, I put it in the back of my mind to run this thing as a goal to move up to the 3 mile level, on the way to the 4 mile level needed for the New Year's morning race. I had been able to comfortably run 2+ miles on the treadmill for the past week, so I figured I could do this. The only caveat was if the weather was icy or sloppy, I would forget it. I slipped on the ice a week ago (didn't fall), and it reminded me again of the previously broken ribs and shoulder.
This race used to be run on a college campus about 2 miles from my house--very convenient. The last time I ran this was probably 3 or 4 years ago, during a developing winter storm, so it was terribly windy, icy, bitter cold, and slippery. I wish I could remember my time, but I would guess over 30 minutes easily.
This year, a different race director took over, so the race was to be held at the Veterans Facility just on the outskirts of town. I had never run there before, so didn't really know what the course would be like. I wondered if it would be some trails, since part of the grounds includes the old soldiers' cemetery that runs next to the highway. I couldn't imagine they would pave that whole thing.
Before the race started, I saw quite a few people I knew, so it was like old home week, visiting and catching up. Everyone was so glad to see me they all had to hug me (ouch!) or pat me on the shoulder (again ouch!). There were also quite a few people I didn't know, since the Running Club membership has grown so much over the past few years, thanks to the infusion of new blood into the club by the current and recent past presidents. A lot of the newcomers though were young high school cross country runners, since their coaches were avid runners and used these off season races to keep the kids in shape.
I also saw the Stripper, the woman who seemed to think it was okay to completely change in transition during triathlons. One good thing I have to say about her is she is good, whether running or doing tris, especially for being 52. And she is the only woman I know who has 6-pack abs. She was warming up with her daughter, who must be 14 now, and who is also an outstanding runner and fledgling triathlete. The bad thing I have to say about this woman is no matter how much someone struggles through a race, she NEVER gives one word of encouragement. If you can't keep her pace, you are dismissed as being not worthy of her time.
So before the race, the club president makes all the usual announcements, gives course directions, and then says the reason why we are running here today is because of the vets, who make it possible for us to run anywhere, anytime. So true. For that, I am humbled and grateful.
This is a 3 or 6 mile race--3 miles for all kids and age group women, and 6 miles for all men and open division women. Naturally, I was doing the 3 miles. My only real goal was that I could do the whole 3 miles without walking, and my hopeful goal was to finish under 35 minutes. My one reason for picking this low-key race--no chip timing here and you get a popsicle stick when you finish with a number on it--was even if it turned out I came in last in the 3 mile race, there would still be enough people doing the 6 so I could blend in and not be last overall.
We started on a countdown from 10 and I started my watch on go. Off the crowd went, in full race mode, while I went along at an easy enough pace, but still one where I was trying to keep up with some people. I started close to the back, so I was going to have to make my way up to the front of the back of the pack to not be last. And I really wasn't. Of course there were walkers and I did eventually pass even the slowest runners. I could never catch up with the sled dog one guy was running with or the next woman in front of me. I considered myself middle of the back of the pack, a new title I thought up for myself that day.
I ran alone. And the course did go through the cemetery, as I had guessed, so after climbing the hill to the burial grounds, the paved path went to gravel. The cemetery was established in 1886, and I suspected some of the gravestones were that old as well. It was very quiet running through here, past all the gravestones lined up in silent rows. There were no mile markers, and no one calling out your time at any place on the course, so I decided not to look at my watch until I finished. I didn't want to get it in my head that, okay, you've run xx minutes, so its okay to walk if you want. No, that wasn't the plan today, so I figured it would be better not to look at my watch.
I was really surprised they could get a 3 or 6 mile course out of the grounds, but soon found out 3 milers had to do 2 loops, and the 6 milers had to do 4. I was okay going past the start for the 2nd loop, but I have to wonder how strong I would have been going around 4 times. So it was easy also to do the math for distance. I figured each loop was 1.5 miles. I still resisted looking at my watch and just plugged along, back up the hill to the burial grounds, through the cemetery, past the start, and out to the main road, then down the sidewalk in front of the facility, and back up the driveway to the end--finally. I was really starting to feel the distance by what I figured was the beginning of the third mile. I felt like I do in every race--a little sick, definitely winded, and wishing it would be over soon. I had been lapped 3 times by the male front runner by the time I was within a half mile of finishing. I also was gaining on another woman in front of me. She looked like she was slowing way down, but I still couldn't get close enough to catch her. I was close, but there wasn't enough distance left to overtake her. The Stripper and her daughter cruised by on their cooldown, and as expected, she ignored everyone in the back of the pack. She really ought to teach her daughter some humility here and compassion for others.
I finally came to the finish line and was glad to be done. I was winded. I took a peek at my watch and was fairly happy with the results: 32:44. So I did better than 11 min. miles! I'm not sure how much longer I could keep going, but I suspect if I had to do another mile I could have gutted it out somehow.
I had too much to do and decided I wasn't staying around for awards. Besides, the likelihood of me getting anything in my age group was pretty low--two age groups that dominated in the women's race were the 19 and unders and the 50-59s, and everyone in my age group was ahead of me. I was happy with my effort and my time, all things considered.
Friday, December 15, 2006
I started this post the other day but then deleted it, thinking all would be well with Beta Blogger once I understood what was going on. But the more I think of it, and the more I read of others' problems, I realize this isn't just my problem.
At first, I thought it was something personal, that certain people had blocked me from commenting, and I was a little concerned that maybe I had said something that had ticked them off. But then after reading Iron Pol's post about the problem, I realized it wasn't just me.
I can still comment on others' blogs, but now I have to use my login name (which, since I was in a hurry when I started the blog, and I am typically unimaginative and clever in thinking up a good name, I put my own name down). I would rather use something clever or more anonymous than my own name, so I might have to change that--if I take the time to figure it out.
I considered switching over to Beta, just because the promotional info every time I logged in popped up, enticing me to make a switch and have a better blog. I did attempt to do this, but once I got into the actual nuts and bolts of the instructions, I decided I didn't have time to figure it out.
I type and read fast, the only reason I really have time to do any blogging, but I have never taken the time in depth to figure out all the clever and fancy stuff like others have on their blogs. So it is just a stripped down, plain and simple, version for me.
Something I read did say that eventually Blogger would change things so there was compatibility again, but in the meantime, and until Blogger forces the issue, I will continue the way things are and log in to make comments on others' blogs as myself. I hope this answers others' questions as well about the Beta mystery.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Its almost scary, this realization that lately it has been easier to run after the bike than alone. I really hadn't intended to spend much time on the biking until after the first of the year, but something prompted me to think of using it for a "warmup" for the run. But once I got going, I really wanted to see not only how it would go, but how much I could do.
So for the past 5 run workouts, I have preceded it with a bike workout, anywhere from 20-40 minutes, and from there have been able to run 2 miles without stopping. Just the week before, I had a hard time running one mile without stopping, so this phenomena had to be tested out again and again before I was convinced that maybe I really can do this thing called triathlon. Oh sure, I have been at this for 6 years now, but never had the confidence in myself that I could actually do this. I could do each part of the event, I actually did pretty well swimming, and I could put them all together in fact, but I never had the confidence I could do a full triathlon well, so I didn't disappoint myself when I came in last or darned near close to last. After all, I told myself, I wasn't very good, I just enjoyed it.
Now, all of a sudden, the head has cleared and I do believe I can do this. I was on the way to believing before I had the accident. I hesitated in my thinking for a while after, not sure what to expect in recovery, but now 5 weeks after starting my first run and only about 7 weeks after starting swimming again, I can start to see things down the road. That's not to say I will do any better next season in age group placing, but I do think I will improve my times for any event I enter. I guess as long as I can make the cutoffs, I won't worry about my placement, but I still think I will do better.
Next season's lineup is in the making. I will probably surprise myself as to what will be on the agenda.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
No, I'm not talking about the psychedelic, mind-altering drug from the 70s. I'm talking about the running philosophy of Arthur Lydiard, the running guru who, according to a blurb on his website: ". . .devised the principles of training now employed by leading coaches and athletes all around the world, in track and field and many other sporting spheres; he invented the simple exercise of jogging. . . ."
A better definition? LSD, long, slow distance. This is something I heard way back when I first started running. I kept hearing the term "LSD" from veterans and not only did I not have a clue what they were talking about, I didn't dare ask. Could it be possible that these WASPS were talking about getting high? It didn't seem likely.
But, if you ever run a long, slow distance, getting high is exactly what happens. High from the endorphins your body releases after extended exercise.
When I first started running, I had four young children, worked full time, and had such limited time for such a luxury that I trained fast, ran fast, and raced fast. It worked for me. Or so I thought. It worked fine for about 4 years, but any run over a 5k and I was not that successful. Not that I didn't try. Oh yes, I tried every distance except the marathon in my first 4 years of running. I was only successful at the 5k distance, however, because I couldn't adapt to the proven principle of LSD running. I didn't understand it. I didn't realize that running LONGER and SLOWER would actually make me FASTER.
Its not that I didn't run longer distances, but the training for me was tedious. It took a lot of time away from my family responsibilities, so I tended to hurry, no matter what the training distance was for a given day. And I have to say, I didn't enjoy it that much. I did enjoy the training, as it was a great stress relief and the endorphins did kick in. But the racing was stressful because I always blew up somewhere in the race and then was angry with myself for not doing better.
After I got to the point where I had accomplished every running distance and goal except the marathon, I knew it was time to change gears. My first marathon was in 1992. My training partner was a woman I worked with at the time, who was 14 years younger than me. We were perfectly matched on regular runs at lunch hour, where our distances were from 3-5 miles, but get us in a 5k and I beat her every time. Get us in anything longer than a 5k, and she beat me every time. So this marathon training we were attempting would be a learning experience for me--I had to learn to slow down at the beginning of the runs so I could last until the end with my friend.
Fast forward to the marathon and of course she still beat me, by 26 minutes. But it was the first one, no big deal. There was always the chance for more. So every other year for the next 6 years, I trained for and ran a marathon or an ultra. And the funny thing about the ultras? I actually ran better, per se, than I did the marathons. I took it easier, was more relaxed about my finishing time, and actually finished strong. Case in point.
Maybe that's when it finally sunk in about the LSD. Run slow to run fast. Slow and long. Look at Dean Karnazes, the ultrarunner who ran 50 marathons in 50 days. If you look at his non-A race marathons, his times were in the 4+ hour range. When he was here in Grand Rapids back in October, he ran 4:20 something. The next day, he ran the Chicago Marathon, finishing in the 3:20 (?) range. His last race of his 50 was the NYC marathon, where he ran under 3 hours. Does that prove something? I think it does.
So my goal then for continuing with my rehab training and on to next year will be to get back to that long, slow distance. I can see already, from the little I have been doing, that running longer has given me more strength and seems to be moving me along the road to full recovery faster than if I were sitting waiting for things to heal fully. Doing leg presses, when I first tried them when I started working out again, I was pushing myself to press 100 lb., but in the past 5 weeks, I have been able to add 20 more pounds, for 120 pounds. I believe that strength came from increasing my running time, if nothing else. Since I have become naturally slow, from injuries over the past few years, to aging, and now to injury again, I am hoping it is easy (my definition of easy means not collapsing!) and enjoyable. It might even happen without a full blown injury like I have had the past few years, other than the accident injuries. If I am truly going to do an IM within the next couple of years, or even a half like I plan to this year, I have to get back to that long slow run.
As my friend Tom Henson says, it always comes down to the run.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The 12 days of Christmas start today, and I am already behind schedule. Not hopelessly, thankfully, but slowly falling behind. Usually by now, I have baked at least one thing, but not yet. And usually my tree trimming and other household decorations have been up since the day after Thanksgiving, but not yet. And I definitely have my outfit for my Christmas party figured out, but not yet. Shopping is usually close enough to being done that I can breathe a sigh of relief, but not yet. And wrapping is usually up-to-date with the shopping, so of course not yet! Yes, I am busy, but I feel like I shouldn't have any excuses to not have this stuff done, but by the time I get home at night, I am ready to sit and do nothing. And right now, I have three things in my car to be exchanged or returned, and I'm not really sure when I will get to those.
This year, I only have one child living out of state, so I only have one-fourth of my shopping that really needs to be done in time to mail out. I'm close, but still haven't wrapped the stuff or found a box big enough for mailing. My Christmas tree sits with lights on but nothing else. The only decorations I have put up or out have been a wreath on the door I just put up and a few floral displays that I bought. Its looking pathetically not like Christmas. And today is supposed to be the biggest online shopping day left before Christmas, but even if I knew what I wanted to buy, I don't have any money left to buy with until payday!
Its times like these I want my own personal shopper, butler, maid, or whatever, along with an unending money supply. LOL! Even just a day off to do some of this stuff would be great! But somehow, everything gets done and things work out, so I am going to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy!
Monday, December 11, 2006
Yesterday, after all the weekend activities, the IM party, the actual outdoor "run," three hours+ at work, and then a little shopping, I was decidedly bleary eyed by the time I got home at 6 pm. After being gone since before 8 am. Long day. And this was a Sunday, supposedly a day of "rest."
This morning, it was very hard to open my eyes. My alarm went off and I was still dreaming, a sign I was still in a deep sleep, a sleep that should NEVER be disturbed by the sound of an alarm.
But I got up and went through the morning routine of getting coffee, my lunch made or packed while it perked, and getting my brain in gear as to what needed to be done. Most of my morning preparation was done the night before, but there are always some things I inevitably put off until morning.
Don gets annoyed with me, I know, for getting up early almost every day and leaving the house for a "workout" as he puts it, when I am this tired. But for me, it isn't just about the workout. Its become a whole lot more. And now with this new gym, I really have no excuse to not get to the gym any morning. While the workout is important to me, and its pretty much a part of my day, leaving the house in the early morning hours is more about cutting down on stress: the stress of less traffic, less hassles at the gym (even less now!), and getting to work pretty much on time. After spending 20 years white-knuckle driving to work every day from the suburbs, where we moved for a better way of life and schools for our kids, some days putting in 50-100 miles of driving, and each day wondering if this would be the day I would end up one of those mangled wrecks on the side of the highway that happened daily, or worse yet, a fatality, I have found that going as early as possible alleviates at least that much stress in my life. As does living closer now. And its also the best time for me to work out on any given day, before the demands of the day get in the way, or suck away my energy so that I am too fatigued, mentally and physically, to go to the gym. And if having less stress means getting up at 5 am every day, that's what I am willing to do.
I did my one mile plus a little more of swimming this morning, trying to go a straight 45 min. and went over a little more, also trying for an even amount of laps. Its really hard to know after a certain amount of laps what the distance is in this pool, since it is short (60 laps for a mile), so doing only 5 more could really be negligible. And I am glad this is out of the way for the day, because I know for a fact it is less likely to happen at any other time during the day or evening. Once I am done at work, I just want to go home. Most lunch times are spent catching up on Internet news and/or making up working time, so mornings are my time, and I don't want to give them up.
As usual, Blogger wouldn't let me upload these yesterday, so here they are now. (Besides the fact I was supposed to be working!) The first one is me, Shelley, and Amy, another triathlete and runner with our group. (She is also one of the "babies" in the group, being still under 30!).
The second picture is Lecia, Shelley, and me, on a "run" Sunday morning, starting just before the sun was fully up. Lecia is the photographer who puts together all the DVDs for the group of their IM, triathlon, or running activities. Its a nice way to preserve the memories, that's for sure. And yes, we have snow, but it wasn't terribly cold for a change.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Sunday, while "running" with Shelley (more on that later), I wore the same socks I wore Saturday and Thursday (and yes, they have been washed!), and again, no heel problem. No problem during or after. BUT, I change my clothes and change into another pair of socks, and my heel starts hurting again. Before you think, well, it was bound to happen, the socks had nothing to do with it, let me mention this. I took the socks off and went barefooted in my Merrell shoes, and guess what? The heel pain eased up almost immediately. And yes, it was my old pair of running socks.
Its odd, I know, but again, when I think back to when this started, at least 3 years ago, and always more in the late fall/winter, its always a time when I wear socks most of the time, running, working out, or otherwise. Probably the only time I don't wear socks is when showering or swimming. Until we get to the warmer weather again. I'm not sure what to make of this, but there it is. The old socks, too, were great for running in--other than the heel thing--they didn't bunch, shift, or any other problem. They were made all in one piece, meaning no seams either. Weird, that's all I can say.
I'll keep trying the new sock method and see what happens. I'm willing to try ANYTHING to keep this thing cleared up.
And this weekend was no exception. My last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, not only in terms of putting on a family Thanksgiving by myself, but also with all the stuff going on with my dad, my own rehab (dr. appts. and trying different workouts), and shopping, etc., but then there is also that thing that seems to get in the way of all other aspects of life: work, the necessary evil.
So I was taken by surprise when I got an e-mail from Shelley that we would talk about some things when she came over this weekend. This weekend? What was going on?? Oh yeah, the Ironman party. I had totally forgotten it was this weekend. I'm glad Libby was on the ball and invited her.
I started thinking of all the things I was supposed to do this weekend and wondered if I would even have time to go to the Ironman party. But, as I said, I always try to find time for my friends, and I was able to change things around enough so I would be around for the Ironman gathering, a yearly get-together of the Iron people here (and wannabes) to watch the showing of the Ironman Hawaii race, watch their IM videos, and generally pig out on all the food everyone brings.
Friday at work had been so crazy, I never made contact with anyone about what time we were getting together or what I needed to bring, or even what time Shelley was planning on coming to town. I had promised my grandsons I would take them Saturday to a Christmas party at my credit union to visit Santa and for other goodies, so I was committed to doing that in the early afternoon. I decided to just blow off work for the day so I would have time to make something to bring to the party and not be too tired to have a good time. Basically, I thought up something to bring as I was going through the grocery store after the Santa party, and had to whip it up while I fed the kids and cleaned up their mess before they had to leave.
I was really glad to see Shelley, and she had just arrived at our friends, Bruce and Nancy's, house just before Don and I showed up. It always seems that whenever we get together a few times each year that we still don't ever get enough time to talk and get caught up! And everyone here is always glad to see her too. And of course, they all have Ironman talk to discuss, so its a fun time for her, too, I'm sure.
One thing we all hate about the Ironman coverage on TV is all the commercials! They'll show 2 or 3 minutes of coverage and then switch to a commercial. We all felt, though, that they seemed to cover a little more of the "regular" people than just the pros. I guess that's how they tempt you to buy the DVD.
After the Hawaii coverage, we watched the IM Florida DVD and then Wisconsin again, once again being reminded what the conditions were for both races, less than ideal. We then watched a homemade DVD Lecia, another friend, put together, recapping the year from the pictures she took at so many of the races we all did, and put it to music that was fantastic! She does such a good job. In her next life, she needs to put together race DVDs, she does such a good job. So that's always a lot of fun too.
The evening wore on, and Don got out his "What it Takes" DVD about the lives of 4 pro triathletes in the year 2005, culminating in the IM Hawaii world championship race. It included Peter Reid, Luke Bell, Heather Fuhr, and Lori Bowden, who as you might remember had a baby last year and did not compete at Hawaii. So it was a late night (9:45!) and some of the people were talking about their running plans for the next day. The plan ended up being meet at 8 at the "park" and run whatever you wanted. I haven't been down there in a while, for obvious reasons, but had already decided I needed to get back to the group sometime, so Sunday seemed a good time.
Shelley and I agreed to go together, since I knew I couldn't keep up with anyone but the walker probably at this point, and she was willing to do whatever I wanted. We spent so much time talking, that even though we covered almost 5 miles (for me, a HUGE milestone), we walked as much as we ran, as we chatted away. So much to talk about! And I saw some old friends who seemed very glad to see me back out there. The weather, too, was much improved over the last few days, with bright sunshine and an almost "balmy" (maybe 40?) temperature.
Then it was on to breakfast before she had to leave. It was a big crowd today, and we were all spread out in the restaurant for a while, but finally were able to get a few tables to sit together. Everyone was discussing their "calendars" for next year, and it seems quite a few are doing the Triple T, so Shelley will have some company there!
I'm always amazed at how much these people do. They have events planned for the whole year. One right after the other. Get done with one, and boom, on to the next. And they always do pretty well, regardless of the weather or whatever, so they are true, hardcore athletes. And making it more interesting? Only a few are under the age of 40! Most of them are over 50 in fact. I couldn't tell you how many marathons, ultras, IMs, or other tris they have done in total, the number is so high. Its like a hobby for them!
All too soon, it was time for Shelley to go. I hope it won't be too long before we meet again. Hopefully, I'll have pictures later.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
I think I may have finally reached the turning point on my injuries. I don't really know for sure what changed things, but I definitely feel stronger. A lot stronger. Two things I am sure helped: lots of swimming and time.
After my "successful" bike/run on Thursday, I decided to try it again today, only increase the time and/or distance of both. So I decided on a full hour workout, an increase by 15 min. from my longest up to this point. I did 40 minutes on the spin bike, with enough resistance that I felt it, and then planned to do 20 minutes of running. The running went so well that I ended up doing 2 miles straight through, in 22:28, 11:14 pace. This was a comfortable pace, but I was breathing hard just the same, just not out of breath. I really wanted to do more, but I am still of the mindset that I need to pace myself here, and I think I am right. Better to leave something behind for later than use it all up and have nothing to work with later.
My heel also was not a factor today. I did buy a new pair of Thorlo socks from Hollie, the sock merchant at work, and will likely buy a couple of more. I have been in desparate need of new socks for the longest time, but was convinced I could only wear a certain type, which I have been unable to find either in the stores or on line. But now that I think of it, I have been wearing this particular type of sock for almost 3 years, and it has been the last 3 years that I have suffered constantly from the heel pain I complained about last week. So, could it be the socks? Could my feet be that sensitive that a pair of socks might make all the difference in the world? I don't really know. I only know how my foot felt today and Thursday, and neither time was I bothered with that heel pain, either during running or after. I guess I can keep experimenting to see if these new socks really do make the difference. To be safe, I did do some icing after each time, but didn't really feel the need, only did it as a precaution.
I will be shopping and other things on my feet most of the day, so time will tell. If something so simple as a sock can get me to a future finish line, then I need to buy a truckload!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
For my dad. Surprisingly, he came through the first bout in good shape, no serious side effects. Yesterday, knowing what the last visit was like, we at least knew what to expect. Not only did I bring a puzzle to do, but I didn't schedule anything else for the day either. And I let my office know I would be out, based on the timeframe from the first time. It makes a long day for me, no matter how it works.
First, I have to pick him up at his house, which is about 25 miles from where I live and 35 from the clinic. Thankfully, the snow/rain mix that came down overnight was melting off by the time I had to leave, and it was smooth sailing all the way to his house and back to the clinic. I finally learned how my 4 wheel drive works too, so that made me feel more secure. LOL! I can't believe I went a whole season last year not knowing how to use it, so didn't. I was seriously starting to question the need for or usefulness of a 4 wheel drive vehicle until I figured out how to use it.
Next, when we arrived at the clinic, I was a little dismayed to see so many people already there waiting for something to be done. He had to have his blood count checked first at 9:30, then see the doctor at 9:45, and finally have treatment at 10:30. We all know that once a doctor's schedule gets behind, it never catches up. He didn't get called for his blood work until 9:50. I just sighed and kept doing my puzzle. Surprisingly enough, they called him for his doctor visit shortly after, and another surprise happened.
When he got called for his treatment, it was 10:31. Amazing! As usual, once you get to the treatment area, there isn't any place to sit, and barely enough room to stand, it is so full of people. Today, I couldn't help but notice some very young women there, bright scarves on their heads, doing a jigsaw puzzle, waiting to be called in for their chemo cocktails. It certainly is a humbling experience, observing all this. Sort of puts a lot of things in perspective and makes me thankful every day for good health.
Once he gets started on his treatment, I race off to work and try to play catch up there until its time to leave and go get him again. I was especially thankful there was no bad weather, since, not only would that prolong the whole trip, but I hate all that driving in bad weather!
I did manage to get in a brief weight workout and then ran 1 mile on the treadmill after. My heel is okay with just that amount of time. I should have done my swim workout, but I realized I was neglecting the upper body weights, and that won out for the day.
This morning, it was up again at an un-Godly hour and back to the gym for the real workout (LOL!). I was a little skeptical of trying to run again after the night before, but finally settled on a bike/run workout. Yes, I did both! 30 minutes on the spin bike, with a moderate amount of resistance, and then I hit the treadmill. At first, I was thinking of doing just a mile. But as I went along, I felt so good I decided to go for 15 minutes. Before I even got to 15 minutes, I had already decided to go to 18 min. and then walk it to 20. So, 18 whole minutes without stopping. That's my new record! The running was SO much easier after the bike, I might just consider doing this twice a week for my short run workout. I figure it certainly can't hurt.
As I am sitting here typing this, I am getting blinded by some unknown light source. Wait! Can it be?? The sun, missing in action for days now, is actually shining into the sliver of a window I have to look out of and reflecting off my crystal Christmas tree on my desk. Get out the sunglasses!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
That's what the sign said at the gym over the past week, and it started last night. I decided to try it. I started doing pilates probably 6+ years ago, after searching the Internet for something to help my aching low back. I was coming off that nasty piriformis problem I had had for almost 3 years, and that, among other things, was leading to a lot of nagging other problems, constant low back pain being one of them.
I didn't even know how to pronounce pilates back then. But from my personal research and reading, I thought it was the way to go, at least for me. Little did I know what a new wave it would be in the years to come.
My first experience with pilates then came from seeing a video as I was walking through Wal-Mart: a Denise Austin pilates/yoga tape pretty much jumped out at me and threw itself into my cart. That had to be a sign. So I bought the $9.97 tape and went home and attempted to perform the 20 minute routine that first night. All I could say was Wow! I am really out of shape here. Not only could I not do some of the moves for lack of familiarity with what they were, I didn't have the core strength to do even the simplest exercises. And my back was so tight, I could barely do some of the forward stretches. I was shaking and sweating when done.
But, as with everything else, I persisted day after day until after a week I was able to do a V-sit without losing my balance or without any major quivering of the limbs; I could do the "hundred" and then some if I had to; and I almost had the breathing down. Little by little, after about 2 months, not only had I developed some core strength that I never had before, but I could actually see a toning of the stomach muscles without doing all those boring crunches and situps!
Since my accident, one thing I have not had much success with was getting back to has been even modified pilates or core strength work. Only recently have I been able to do even the simplest floor exercises, and its not comfortable even then. I really didn't know what this instructor would do, or whether I would even be able to do much of the class, but I figured it was time, and a little more pain and discomfort could only serve to make me stronger, right? (At least that's what they want you to believe!)
I knew I would need some sort of warmup before getting started so did 30 minutes on the spin bike with a fairly hard resistance level, so that by the time the pilates class was ready to start, I was sweating but felt looser. Usually, after sitting all day at work, I am stiff and tired, and today was no exception, so I needed something to get a jump-start on the class.
The instructor was this tanned, toned, sculpted woman, who looked like she spent most of every day working out. She teaches a lot of the classes at this gym (yoga, spinning, kick boxing, etc.), but she confessed this was her first experience with pilates and would need to use her "cheat sheet." There were only five of us, with one observer. Three of the participants were work colleagues in varying stages of fitness, so I figured even if I couldn't do much, I wouldn't be alone.
Having been interested in or involved in some sort of fitness program for most of my life (without really having accomplished much with it, it seems!), I am always a little surprised at how little others really know about taking care of themselves or gym-related things. One of the women asked how I was doing and what I was able to do now. She mentioned she had been doing the strength training classes and suggested I join them. She mentioned she can only do 10 pound weights as her max, and only on some exercises. That made me feel a little better, being only up to 5 myself right now. But it was a thought I might consider.
On with the class. First thing, just laying flat on the floor mats. Ouch. I forget how uncomfortable it is still laying flat out, especially on something hard like the floor. It took a few minutes for my ribs to settle but then I was okay until we had to roll up. Not happening. I still have no strength in my back from the cervical to upper thoracic area (neck to about middle of my back), so that had to be modified some. But the actual stomach or core exercises I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was still pretty strong there. That was a relief for me to realize, and probably is one reason I haven't been plagued with much low back problems over the past few months while I sit around most of the time.
After a full hour of this, though, I was getting worn out. Not just a fatigue, but actual "I've had enough" feeling. My ribs were hurting, and my shoulder was really complaining about some of the overhead stretches. An hour of mostly core is good though, and I went away feeling tired but refreshed, if that makes any sense. Just the right way to feel after a workout.
Upon leaving, the instructor said "after 30 days of this, you'll have a new body." One can only hope!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
This is a shoe I am considering getting. It is the Merrell Overdrive. Here are just some of the specs:
New trail running technology that brings some serious swift, keeping adventure racers centered and efficient to maintain speed over changeable terrain. Proprietary TrailSpring™ design positions visible tubes bi-sected by support beams in a full-length TPU plate to inhibit overpronation and cushion heel-strike. Trail Balanced last with integrated arch bridge stabilizes the heel while freeing the forefoot for easy toe off. Co-designed by adventure racing veteran and Team Merrell Captain Robyn Benincasa, the Overdrive's quick-cinch Airmesh upper and Air Cushion® sole (with Q form stride alignment for women) drain readily and are gaiter-compatible. Contingency eyelets accommodate traditional lacing. Traditional lace included. Click here to view Quick-Cinch Lace removal instructions. Vibram® Full Speed II™ sole features heel-centering cutaway design and flex grooves for propulsion at the forefoot.
Now, these aren't labeled "running" shoes, but I do like the category they fit into: Active Speed/Trail. I figure with the description given, not only will they get me through the slippery spots a little easier, but they definitely have support and stability, both of which I like in a shoe. And with my good luck on other Merrell shoes, I will take the chance. The best part of the deal is we get a dealer discount here at work, so my cost? $49.50 (retail is $99). I figure I can't go wrong there. Even if they don't work for outside running, they will work otherwise.
I realized recently that I haven't replaced my running shoes in many moons, so that could be part of the problem with my heel. I really don't want that turning into full blow plantar fasciatis or a heel spur, so I would rather take the preemptive steps to avoid it now. They also have a waterproof version for those seriously into trails, which I'm not particularly, but they actually would probably be great for snow as well.
I bought a pair of Merrells earlier this year and loved them. (Blogger says the image has been uploaded, but as you can see, it isn't.) I bought those when I had this problem before and needed something comfortable for vacation. I loved them so much, that I went back and bought 2 more pair. They were lifesavers after my accident with my broken toes because I couldn't get any other shoe on comfortably except these. I have continued wearing them, even though from time to time I do wear other shoes now, just because they are so comfortable. They definitely are a casual shoe, but look great with work pants or jeans.
The Overdrive also has the cinch lace system, which to me is a main time saver getting shoes on and off, and of course those are perfectly geared for triathlon. So, who knows? Maybe this will become more than just a winter shoe of choice. I'll report more after I wear them for a while.
Monday, December 04, 2006
And now that all the talk about Christmas shopping has started, I have to comment on one (of many) of my pet peeves about this office. First, there was the Secret Santa thing. Like I said, its not that I don't want to participate--after all, you're not considered a team player (apparently) if you don't get in on at least one office gig--its just really not my thing. I went along with it this year since I am in a new office location from the past 16 years, meaning new floor mates, etc. This is a regular thing for a lot of them, so I went along to basically go along. And then I saw what that got me. But that wasn't the worst of it.
No, the worst part is where I have been appointed personal shopper for all the running guys and gals in the office with assistants who need to buy them something. This has been going on every year for as long as I can remember. And as the years have gone on, I have had less and less connection with a lot of these other runners because I have gone on to triathlon and all they do is run. Somehow, I have become the guru on what to buy these people, none of whom I run with. Ever. Few of whom I discuss running or triathlon with. Ever. And even fewer of whom I really know.
But, apparently, I am one of the few in the know about what to buy a runner. The word gets around, too, and it seems like every couple of years or so, someone I don't even know e-mails me about what to buy for so and so. Do any of them ever ask if I care? No. And my answer is the same: I really don't care. Actually, I have told them many times, I do not care what you buy this person, and I doubt that buying them running gear is that important. After all, two things I notice about these guys (mainly guys) are: (1) they wear the same stuff over and over and over, day in and day out, changing only for the season at hand, and (2) all of them can afford to buy anything they want whenever they want it. But there's a third element here: Most likely you won't be able to afford anything they really want anyway.
Gift cards just don't seem to cut it with these pass-the-buck shoppers. Short of getting someone to actually go out and purchase their gifts, they rely on others to do all their thinking and online shopping.
This year, finally, I may have put an end to this. There is a woman here who sells Thorlo socks for $5, from running and walking, to hunting and skiing. She also has an inside connection to other sporting goods. I just pass on to the would-be shopper the suggestion that they check with "Hollie" and see what she has on hand.
Hopefully, this will get them off my back for at least a year or two!