Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE SOME

That's how it went this weekend. I chose NOT to run the Heart & Sole race, annually held around Valentine's Day. The last time I ran it was in 2007, on a bitterly cold (3 degrees) day, just a few months after my accident. I wore Yak Trax even because snow cover on the ground was deep packed snow from an overnight snowfall. February is such a crapshoot for weather here, so you never know what you will get: either as described above or sunny and balmy, as it was this past Saturday when the race was held.

I hadn't signed up ahead of time because I honestly forgot about it, mainly since I'm not training for 5ks and also because the last couple of weekends I have dealt with the debilitating headaches and haven't put much time in and totally skipped my long runs, a staple of my running all year round, whether done inside or out, and regardless of how slow.

Then I found out the location of the race this year had moved, to within running distance of my house. Still, with the sun bright and the sky blue and almost cloudless, it was a hard decision: run long or run fast? Run fast was not an option, not having put much fast running in since before IM. And any fast running had not been on the road, so the decision came easy.

It was probably in the mid to high 30s by the time I got out to run, and halfway through the run (only 6 miles, since I had skipped a couple of weeks, so I could reacclimate my legs and lungs) I realized I was pretty much overdressed. So it was thoroughly--or almost-- enjoyable.

Then I decide to check race results out of curiosity, mainly just to see who was there and how they did. I was stunned when I found out there were only two people in my age group and the "winning" time was almost 40 minutes, and the 2nd place was over 45 minutes! Wow, and to think. I could have won the age group with a brisk walk! Or, as someone put it "just for showing up."

So, lesson learned. No more missing out on opportunities for winning bling! I have done many races where just showing up earned me an age group award, but as someone else put it, "showing up is 90% of life."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

NOT A TEAPOT
Or a sex toy (?!) as some guessed. Yesterday's "Wordless Wednesday" picture was of a neti pot, as several guessed.
What is a neti pot, for those who don't know? Up until about 4 months ago, I never heard of it or had ever seen one. A friend of mine told me about this after seeing it on the Dr. Oz show, which I also had never watched but had heard of.
A neti pot is a gadget that helps clear your sinuses better than most nasal sprays or drugs, as I am finding out after a months' long problem with plugged ears, sinus headaches, and constant nose dripping. I'm not going to go into the specifics of how this thing works, but it basically clears the sinuses with a saline solution you make yourself with saline packets and warm water.
The first time I used it, I pretty much gagged myself and barely got through the first treatment, but further treatments have gone well. What I am noticing, however, is that sometimes even hours after, if I bend over or put my head down for any reason, I still get a steady stream of saline that drips like a faucet out of my nose.
I found out years ago when I first started swimming that apparently I was really sensitive to the chlorine because after a while, whether I swam that day or not, my nose dripped chlorine or I sneezed all day long. For some odd reason, my sinuses seem to retain whatever fluid is introduced into them, which is why the chlorine sensitivity and why I would guess the saline leaks out hours after treatments.
But the neti pot does work. If you do have constant sinus problems, it is an easier and drug free solution to helping clear up that problem, and probably less costly. The kit cost about $10 and after 4 months I still have some saline packets left, which you can but individually as well.
What I can't figure out is why no doctor ever told me about this?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SERIOUSLY?
I have been doing indoor triathlons since 1994. They are a fun way to get in some serious, high intensity training and racing in the winter months while living in the ice, snow, and cold. Just a short sprint workout: 15 or 20 minutes of each leg, swim, bike, and run, and 5 minute transitions between, amounting to not more than an hour workout. A few years back, when my friend Jan started doing tris, I got her hooked on doing them as well. Not only are they a good, quick but serious workout for the off season, but it is great to be able to keep up on what other triathletes you might not otherwise see in the winter and find out what they are doing or thinking of doing for the upcoming season.
So on a swim day, when I do my best thinking, when autumn was winding down and winter was approaching, I came up with the brilliant idea to try to put together an indoor triathlon at my gym. I know there are some good and serious athletes who belong, but being a small, private gym, you don't always see people on a regular basis, and I thought that would also be a good way to get people mingling a little at the same time getting in a good bit of competition.
After weeks of discussion with the athletic director and a few other members, who I might add were all enthusiastic about the idea, the signup board when up with a projected date of February 20. The signup sheet went up about mid-January. Jan and I were the first to sign up. And then? No one. Not one other single person signed up.
Plans were scrapped for the event, and I was disappointed and somewhat surprized and baffled as to what the problem was. At our recent 2009 awards dinner, several people expressed an interest in being at least part of a relay team, a few indicated they might be interested if they weren't already going to be out of town, and others learned that you aren't expected to run 10 miles or some other ridiculous distance on a treadmill. None, however, signed up.
Chatter around the gym as to what was really going on here completely took me by surprise. An alternative competition plan came up, where you would join a team and then do the triathlon on your own time, at your own speed, and post team totals weekly, with weekly competitions taking place through March. (This is somewhat confusing, but I did finally figure it out.) So the idea then was to get into teams, do your thing, post your distance/time and see how your totals compared with others. People seemed to be somewhat enthusiastic about and on board with this, but then? "Just as long as Jan and Vickie aren't on the same team." What?
Apparently, since we are both accomplished triathletes and runners, we are to be feared? Seriously?
What was truly laughable to me about this was the fact that just because I have done an IM, suddenly I am a force to be reckoned with? Me, who is undisputedly the slowest triathlete on the planet, and someone is worried I might beat them? The only thing that might set me apart from any of them is my determination, dedication, and discipline to the sport. Speed is not a factor here, and its highly unlikely I will get faster any time in the future.
So while I am flattered at the perceived image others have of me (and I might add something that keeps me on my toes), I am just a normal person who likes to work out and do triathlons in my spare time. Nothing to worry about people!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

HEADACHE

It started innocently enough well over a week ago, probably closer to 2 weeks ago now. A headache every day that responded almost instantly to ibuprofen and only needed to be taken once a day. But still, I was a little puzzled and concerned, because headaches aren't on my list of common ailments. I attributed the daily pain to a couple of things. First, the detoxing I'd been going through, although I do not drink caffeine, wasn't dehydrated, or low on salt, which are common problems when purging your system of unneeded chemicals or additives in foods.

Next, I wondered if it had something to do with the new swimming classes. While I had been swimming for years and swam a lot last year training for the IM, none of it was with the high intensity I'd been putting into these classes.

So I tolerated these headaches, figuring they would eventually subside. Instead, they only got worse, to the point where my whole head ached all day and all night and my vision was actually getting blurred from the pain. I was grouchy and irritable besides.

Only when the spasms started in my head did it finally register with me that I had had this problem before, over 10 years ago, and it led to the same outcome: spasms, which the doctor attributed to tight neck muscles and inflammation of the occipital muscles in the back of the head.

The only way to describe the feeling of these spasms is to imagine someone yanking on your hair over and over, all day long, until your scalp is tender to the touch and it is so all encompassing that you can't think straight.

So I have been completely delinquent in any workouts or attending to much in the way of family time. Cleaning and wash? Not happening.

I finally was put on muscle relaxers, which for the most part leave me feeling groggy and lethargic. Working out was not an option most of the days once the spasms started, however, I couldn't help but notice the headaches subsided while working out. Once the spasms started, however, I pretty much became a vegetable.

I think another factor, for me, is the need for regular massage, which I have neglected this as well since IM mainly because the person I regularly went to disappeared and the couple of people I went to after did not suit my needs at all.

Apparently regular massages must become a part of my routine, whether I think I need them or not. Today, 4 days into the muscle relaxer therapy, I am finally able to return to work, and am having only slight to no discomfort, and no spasms as of yet. I have an indoor tri to do this weekend, which that happening right now is somewhat debatable. If the no spasms continue through Saturday, I will do it. Otherwise, I'm dropping out. I would rather get rid of this problem rather than aggravate it.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN SWIM?


That's what I thought anyway. Technically, yes I can swim. And I can swim long distances. And I can swim every day if I wanted to. And I have been swimming for 18 years. But apparently, according to the master's swim instructor, I don't do it very well.


Over the years, I have swam with probably 5 different master's swim groups. For those who don't know what this is, master's doesn't refer to an age group thing like it does in running. I don't know what the actual description of it is, but to me it means people who get together with or without a coach to practice swimming: drills, flip turns, different swim strokes, etc. Some of it is intended to be used for competing in "master's" swim meets: meaning, out of school adults trying to stay competive.

Its been probably 5 years since swimming with any organized group, but I figured it would only be a tuneup when joining this year, with the goal of becoming faster than ever before. After all, I just did an Ironman swim, after spending an entire year working on that swim, along with several triathlons over that year and in the past 13 years. I could always lap people in my regular pool, but without any concentrated speed work in the pool, I wasn't all that fast in the tris, and I was finding myself only getting slower.

So I joined this group this year with the intention of getting super fast. Three weeks into this, I'm not sure if I'm getting any faster, but I do know everyone else around me is. I can be thankful at least that all my last place finishes in races have prepared me well for the humiliation of being last every single time in our drills.
For me, the hardest part after killing myself on the drills to not be so slow everyone waits for me every time is swimming with all these crazy people! Its just like a triathlon, so I guess that's some good experience. While I do not have trouble getting through the water in a triathlon, I do hate the body contact involved and have developed some pretty bad swim habits to avoid getting whacked or running into others.
Last night was particularly difficult because, even being in the "slow" lane, one new person got mixed in with us and another sort of fast guy. I made body contact with someone on every single length (not lap--apparently "real" swimmers do not swim laps, just lengths), and I don't think it was always my fault. In circle swimming (where you go down one side of the lane and circle back on the other), there were two groups doing two separate things. That amounted to 8 people in one lane. The "faster" of the slow people had one side of the lane, and that left me and new girl to take the other side of the lane. I'm not sure how wide these lanes are, but they are definitely not as wide as 8 people standing shoulder to shoulder. So it was going to be tight.
New girl apparently either did not understand the concept of circle swimming or she didn't realize she wasn't doing it. We collided on every single length, and if I didn't get it from her, I got it from the fast guy in the slow-fast group. I know some of it wasn't intentional, but I have to wonder if some was. I lost track of the number of times I scraped my knuckles or whole body against the wall trying to stay out of everyone's way. So it was no surprise when each of my "descending 300s" actually turned out to be ascending, meaning slower. The first two were almost exactly the same; the last was a full 25 seconds slower, but I guess I just got tired from trying to stay out of the way of everyone on each length I did. That in itself probably took up some extra energy I could have used to hopefully speed up.

But progress does seem to be happening. Last night I actually hit the 1 mile (1600 meters)cumulative distance in the 1 hour practice (not straight through swimming and with kick board and rests between drill sets). And to think, when training, I used to do 1.5 miles in an hour.
I am trying to stay positive and not talk myself out of quitting. While it is not "hard," it is definitely a learning experience. Every week I learn something new that I'm doing wrong.