That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Monday, May 30, 2011

swimming and biking and running, oh my

After drawing from a variety of sources, I think I've figured out a training plan for the next 16 weeks leading up to the USAF marathon. I think it's one I can even get the PT to agree to. It's lower mileage than a lot of training plans and I'm counting on the cross-training to give me that extra oomph that I'll need. I also think that it will greatly reduce the chances that this marathon will fall to the same fate as the Pig.

It's got a LOT of swimming and biking until the end of July, which is when the Cinci tri is. Then I think I'll be able to handle more time spent running and reduce the cross-training a little, if it feels right. I'm actually going for one long bike, one long swim, and one "long" run a week (long being in quotes because my first "long" run will be a whopping 4 miles) <--maybe more like 5 if it feels a shorter swim, a shorter run, and one bike/run brick. And yoga. And strength training. But I'm going to be flexible and able and willing to drop one of the shorter workouts if time/energy fails me. The rule (that I made up) is no dropping the same type of workout two weeks in a row. No speedwork right now, either, although I want to integrate it eventually. I'm not doing that until I'm BETTER better and know that my leg won't hate on me the next day if I push its limits a little.

I really don't know how the elite triathletes do it. How does a person ever have the time and energy to train to be good in THREE sports?? I'm just hoping to moderately improve in all three (and bring my running back up to the level that it was at pre-injury).

Yesterday, I did an easy run in the heat and dragged the husband along. Injured leg still gets tired way more easily than it used to, but no pain. Today I'm totally pain-free. Met up with the cycling coach for a 20 mile ride. I was so happy when he said we could meet on the bike trail, because I figured that meant a nice, flat ride. I was enjoying the heck out of it until he told me to turn off the bike trail. "OK, see that hill? It's about a mile of gradual uphill. We're going to climb it!" Gradual uphills are the WORST, far as I'm concerned, on a bike or on my feet. Let's just get the darn hill over with, why drag it out for a whole mile??? But I conquered the hill and then I got to fly back down it, which is my most favorite part about biking. I feel like I'm as close as I'll ever be to flying when I can go down a hill. I have no (well, very little) fear of flying down a hill. I felt like I could've ridden all day, too. Maybe not up more hills like that, but I think I can bike forever.

I think I may even like biking more than running. I feel completely blasphemous saying that,'s easier, it's faster, it's fun to cover more mileage and then look at the map afterwards and think, "WHOA! That's far!"

I think I'll get back to loving my running, though, after the steep recovery curve is over. I'm looking forward to the day that it feels more relaxed and natural again, like cycling is starting to feel!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tri for Joe final stats

Apparently they did not include transition time in the final time, which means that my time isn't quite as good as I thought...but it also means that my time with transitions was close to my estimate, which is ok. I kinda wish I'd have known that and I may have taken my time more. :) (Although really, I did what I had to do, caught my breath, etc. because I wasn't worried about my transition time so much anyway.)

Final stats:

Overall time: 1:38:49 (275th place out of 304)
Swim: 20:12 (280th place - so even that ridiculously ill-fated swim was faster than 24 people!)
Bike: 43:35 (237th place)
Run: 35:01 (267th place)

Slow compared to other people, but right about where I thought I would be, especially since I did it for fun and not to compete. A bit more practice and recovery, and I'll be killing that time in the future!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tri for Joe race report!! (this is seriously long, ya'll!!)

....and then I'm going to PASS OUT. :)

Official time: 1:38:51. 209th place out of...? 11/12 in my age group, but whatever. Most of my age group was within a few minutes of my time. They don't have the swim/bike/run times posted yet, so I'll edit this when they do.

Woke up at 5 am. My first thought was, "wow, I don't feel nervous about this at all." Did my pre-workout ritual: coffee (while catching up on facebook), poop (VERY important pre-workout; let's just say I discovered that the hard way), and breakfast. By the time I got to the last part, the nerves were back and my stomach felt like a rock. Discovered my wonderful husband, not realizing that I NEEDED a peanut-butter slathered English muffin before a race, had eaten all but a tiny bit of the pb. So I had the muffin with a thin coating of peanut butter, and, afraid that wouldn't be enough, made a protein powder/yogurt/banana smoothie. This had the dual purpose of trying to wake up the husband with the blender, because he would NOT wake up. I gave up on him waking up. I planned to leave at 5:45. At 5:46, as I was putting my shoes on, he came stumbling into the bathroom. YAY!! I was sooo not looking forward to doing my first tri minus the moral support.

Drove up to the bike garage (we don't have a garage, but the apartment complex has a place to store them), tossed the bike into the truck, and drove my very bleary-eyed husband to Coney Island. By that point, I had a full-fledged case of nerves about the race and about getting there on time to do everything that needed to be done - which, when you're used to just showing up and running, seems like a LOT. Had a brief moment where I considered throwing up out the window. Did a LOT of yoga breathing. Breathed a sigh of relief when I saw lots of other people arriving at the same time that we did - 6:15.

Pre-race stuff was not nearly as intimidating as I thought it might be. Got my new swim cap, timing chip, and two paper wristbands - one for me, one for my bike - and went to my assigned transition area. I was bummed that triathlons don't have bibs - or apparently, this one didn't. I guess I'll have to hang the wristband on my wall.

My transition area was close to the exit, which I decided I liked. I talked to the girl next to me, who was very nice and encouraging and told me not to stress about it and to go have fun. Got everything set up (with a brief moment of panic because I had lost the timing chip ALREADY), wetsuit on, hung out for a while, nervously re-adjusting the wetsuit every two seconds.

Swim: The swim was a time trial, and we had been assigned our numbers based on our estimated swim time. I was really doubting my estimate (15:00) at that point - I was 179, and I saw numbers as high as 282. I can swim faster than 100 people here?? Not likely! Not being pessimistic, just realistic - I CAN swim, but I swim slower than most everyone I see working out at the gym. I did get a chance to get in the water and get adjusted to it. It wasn't too cold, but I was thankful for the wetsuit because it was only in the high 50's outside. The swim course was two zigzaggy loops around the ginormous outdoor pool. People were running right into the shallow end, so when I was told to go, I imitated them and high-kneed it until I thought I could swim. As it turns out, my hand was still skimming the bottom, so I got up, ran more, and swam again.

I was so obviously out of my element. It was NOTHING like swimming relaxed laps at the pool. I think between the nerves, the excitement, the wetsuit I'd only swam in once before, and the new environment, my brain got ten kinds of messed up. I couldn't take deep enough breaths and the idea of putting my face in the water - even though I can swim well over a mile's worth of laps at the gym with a pretty decent front crawl - freaked me out. So I swam front crawl with my face out of the water. I saw other people doing it, too, and I saw a guy backstroking. OK, I'm not the only one a bit freaked out, and I know it's normal to freak out during the swim portion of a tri, especially your first tri. I can do this. I can complete the swim even if I keep my face out of the water the whole dang time. I gave up on any sort of idea of how long the swim should/would take and decided I was just going to get through the dang thing even if I was the last one left in the water. Then I had to turn around a giant inflatable buoy thing....into a mass of people. I was being accosted by limbs, people were pushing my feet under, every time I tried to open my mouth for a deep breath I was getting splashed in the face. Holy crap, I have to stop. Put my feet down and.....I was in the deep end. No stopping. I fought back panic and flashbacks of every time that I've been frightened in water, down to when I was 8 and got in over my head at the wave pool at the Beach waterpark. I saw a guy hanging onto a ladder attached to the island in the deep end. See? He's freaked out too. You're so not alone. You're normal. See the ladder? Can you get to the ladder?? I had a clear path to the ladder with no people around. I could do that. Doggie paddled there (although someone got between me and the ladder so it was my turn to shove, sorry 'bout that), where I could hang on and put my feet on a ledge. I inched across the ledge like the other guy was doing, caught my breath. At the end of it, I felt ok to swim for a minute. I stopped shortly after to hang on to another inflatable thing, but soon ahead of me, I saw people walking in the water. Short swim later, and I could stand up and walk.

Saw the husband standing there. He held up one finger and I nodded. CRAP. I have to do that again. I wanted nothing more than to NOT go back to the deep end. I had a thought of getting out and calling it a day. Oh no. I wanted to do this thing too much. I am NOT going to not finish because of a stupid swim. Lap #2! I did wade for a while. I was water-running alongside some swimmers, so I figured I wasn't losing any time. I cheered on a guy who appeared to be some variety of disabled, who had someone coaching him to put his head in the water. I reminded myself that wetsuits are quite buoyant and I wasn't going to sink, no matter what. When I couldn't wade anymore, I swam. Tried backstroking, realized it was not a good idea to not be able to see where I was going, and flipped over. That part of the swim went much better, although I was still getting smacked around a bit. Can people not see where they're going?? It's a POOL, not open water! But I didn't have to stop again. By the end of it, I was able to manage an actual crawl stroke, and then it was time to get out. Husband took a picture and I managed to smile for it. "That was SO HARD!" I yelled at him. Then I started running the wrong way out of sheer disorientation and desperately trying to get that stupid constricting wetsuit off while running. Luckily, I got back on track quickly and managed a jog to the transition area.

T1: Got the wetsuit off the rest of the way, shirt, calf sleeves, socks, and shoes on. (Bra and shorts were under the wetsuit.) Ripped open my gu packet but didn't really want anything in my stomach, so I just kinda sucked on it while I got myself together. Husband showed up on the other side of the fence to snap what I'm sure was a flattering picture. I told him about my near-death experience in the swim. "But I did it!! I'm going to finish this thing, I don't care how long it takes!!" He told me the bike would be a nice break. "Yeah, if I can get on it...."

Bike: Got on it I did. I got clipped in to the pedals faster than I think I ever have. (Soooo thankful to Pete the bike coach for helping me get used to that!) I almost forgot to pedal one-footed to get my momentum going, but then I remembered, and my right foot clipped right in too. It was just FUN from there. I was passing people! I got to yell, "On your left!" Some people passed me too; it's ok, I was happy with my pace, which felt fast but not too difficult. The bike course turned right out of the park, went down a short ways, then turned around and went past Coney, further down the road for 12 miles total. As I passed, I looked through the spectators, but no husband (who had taken an ill-timed restroom break, not knowing when I'd pass again. Oh well!) The bike was by far my favorite. I had the gu in my hand (I had taken off on the bike with it still hanging out of my mouth) and forced myself to swallow it a little at a time until it was gone. In the process, my hand, handlebar, and the side of my face got nice and sticky. Oh, and I had snot everywhere. I was so glad I had decided at the last minute in t1 to throw on my arm warmers. It made the temperature quite tolerable, and they catch snot rockets very well. (Lest you think triathlon is a glamorous It's disgusting.) I decided to have fun with the bike. I wasn't going to push myself too hard, because I still had a run left. So I concentrated on keeping up a good cadence with the pedals, and making happy small talk with the riders who passed me and those I passed. People were very friendly - it's like running, middle-of-the-pack, non-competitive cyclists are the best. For a while, I didn't have anyone ahead of or behind me, and I pretended like I was just out for a fun solo ride. I forced myself to take a few swigs of gatorade during the ride because I knew I needed hydration, just didn't feel like consuming anything (or riding one-handed, which I still find a little scary!) I had my empty gu pack wedged behind the water bottle, and I lost it in the process. Sorry, Earth, hopefully that's forgiveable and you won't take revenge by sending more tornadoes to Cincy....

When I got to the turnaround, I freaked out a little - it was a tight enough turn and I had to slow down enough that I could see myself falling over. But I didn't! I excitedly told an older volunteer that I was halfway. "You're more than halfway! Good job!" The volunteers, for the most part, were very encouraging. I made sure to thank as many of them as I could, especially since I know how it feels to be a race volunteer! The course was nice and flat, although there were a couple of small hills that were downhills on the way out and uphills on the way back. They probably weren't so bad, but I was starting to realize that I was tired and I slowed way down on one. It's all right, as long as you're moving forward, you're good, I told myself. The downhills were fun. I'm good on downhills because I'm not afraid to go fast. So where most people were coasting, I'd shift into the hardest gear and power forward on them. Whee! Saw the giant waterslides....and we were back!

T2: I unclipped waaay before I needed to, because I didn't want to fall in front of everyone. I didn't! People were jogging in the transition area with their bikes, but my legs didn't want to move that fast, and jogging in bike shoes is difficult anyway. I got the bike back on the rack, took a few seconds to breathe and gulp down more gatorade, and change shoes. They were announcing that the 5k was about to start. That meant it had been less than an hour. Really?? I must've started the swim after 7, and I had estimated that the swim and bike would take me about an hour. Maybe I was ahead of my predicted finish time! I gave Speedy the turtle a kiss on the head for luck. OMG. I really have to run 5k after this??? I was not feeling capable of it, but I ran out onto the course for the spectators' benefit.

Run: I was running soooo slowly I felt like I must look ridiculous. My legs and brain didn't seem to have proper communication anymore. I knew from practice that it would pass and I'd feel better about a mile in, but it was such a struggle to move forward. Other people around me were about my pace. I walked for a few seconds to re-adjust my hair, and then kept plodding along. I ended up taking way more walk breaks than I wanted to, and I recognized fully that I was physically ok, but my mind was far beyond gone. It was stuck in a permanent "WTF" state. I tried chatting with someone else, a duathlete, who asked me about the swim. I started telling her about it, but I realized that re-living that experience was NOT doing anything good for my state of mind, so I shut up and let her go on ahead. The run seemed to stretch on for an eternity. The Anderson High School pep band was playing "Ironman", which made me smile and gave me some drive to keep going. We passed the pool and I turned my head away from it. Not thinking about that. I kept trying and trying to just find a comfy running pace, and NO running pace felt good. I kept myself going by taking very short walk breaks, and there were plenty of landmarks - that cone. That trash can. That tree. Now run again. My longest running stretch was a half mile, from the first mile marker to the turnaround. I took fewer walk breaks, but the last mile still felt like an eternity. I tried thinking of other things, singing in my head, just get to that dang finish line. I took some water at a water stop and it felt like a brick in my stomach.

And then....I heard people! KEEP RUNNING! I ended up side-by-side with a power walker in a knee brace. I saw the home stretch and all I could think was that I didn't want to cross the finish line with a walker, so I broke out as much speed as I could and flew by him.

And was over. They announced my name as I crossed the finish line, and someone immediately took my timing chip. Holy crap....I just did a triathlon!

I'm good with how it went. I wish the swim wouldn't have been panic-inducing, and I intend to try to join in some group swim practices and some open water swims so it won't be next time. Plus, I really know what to expect now. I'd been told, but you don't really know until you're in there and people are trying to crawl over you and your head's spinning. I wish the run would've gone more smoothly, but I was injured. I'm three weeks in to re-learning to run after nearly two months off. Next time, running will be a much more comfortable thing for me. And I think without the mental insanity of the swim, I would've had better focus on the run.

I have new respect for triathletes, for sure. That was probably the hardest thing, physically and mentally, that I have ever done - and that was just a sprint tri. I've got a ways to go to be ready for longer races.

I think that what I yelled at my husband as I crossed the finish line sums up my race quite nicely: "THESE PEOPLE ARE ALL INSANE!!!!"

Can't wait to do it again!

(Oh yeah, the gimp leg = tired, a little tight, but not sore. No injury site pain!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

the night before

For someone used to traveling to a race with the clothes on her back and a few things that fit in a spibelt....this certainly feels like a lot of gear!

Not pictured: helmet, bike .

Not to mention the arm warmers I packed just in case the weather is as chilly as it was today, plus spare ponytail holders, since I've lost them while swimming and biking.

I know a lot of people don't use gels for sprint tris, but I get absolutely ravenous about 15 minutes after a swim of any length. Hopefully the gel will stave that off.

Oh yeah, that's Speedy on top of my water bottle. He's going with me, of course, for luck! I'll have to find a spot in the transition area where I can stash him.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

grumbles and race strategy

Looking at marathon training plans. Freaking out a little. I haven't been thinking about it much, but I need to. I have 16 weeks (after this weekend) to train. All of the training plans say I should be able to do a 6 mile long run and increase from there. Even if I add one mile on to my longest run every week, I won't even hit 20 within 16 weeks. Eek.

I'm going to talk to the PT again on Tuesday. I'm going to see if he'll compromise and instead of letting me run back-to-back - which I don't even really WANT to do anyway - see if he'll work with me on focusing on safely increasing distance. A 3 mile run followed by a 2 mile run the next day isn't how to get to where I want to be.

I'm beginning to doubt that I should've signed up for the marathon. This is beyond frustrating to think about.

So I'm going to try to stop, because I have a triathlon this weekend. I picked up my swag tonight, although I don't get the number or timing chip until Saturday. I must say, the swag gets a thumbs up. I wasn't expecting a tech shirt (even if it's not the coolest looking shirt ever), plus fun stuff like two tickets to Coney Island, a pedometer, and sunscreen.

Oh....swim cap....I should be getting a swim cap too. I think they were just giving out the bags that everyone gets tonight. The swim cap should be based on which wave you're in. I'm expecting to be in the slow kid wave, natch. :)

Got a swim in today. My 700 yd time was faster than it has been lately. I tested out the wetsuit the other night and it felt weird. I debated not wearing it, but (a) that changes my wardrobe plans, and (b) the water will probably be cold, and I HATE getting into cold water. Hate it to the point where it can be 90 degrees outside and if the pool isn't heated, my husband has to beg me to get in past my knees. But I also think I didn't have the wetsuit pulled up enough or fastened right in the back. I'll spend more time on that Saturday. Wetsuits also theoretically make a person faster, because they help you float. We shall see.

My official strategy for the tri: slow and steady. I realized today that I swim faster when I'm calm and keep a steady pace, not when I'm TRYING to swim fast. It'll also keep me from panicking (water = last place on earth one wants to panic) and it'll conserve energy. The good thing about the setup is that the swim is two laps, the bike is out and back, and the run is out and back. This means that I have two distinct halves to each leg of the race, so I can start out at a strong, steady pace, and speed up in the second half if it feels good. I think that's how I'll race happiest, for sure.

Some thoughts I posted on a tri forum:

Swim: I'm planning to totally focus inward and go at a pace that feels good, almost relaxing. To equate it to running (since that's where I have the most training), my swim pace should feel about like my long run pace (comfy, sustainable for a long time, relaxed). This is so that I don't wear myself out, and also so that I don't start getting tired mid-swim and panic in the deep end.

Bike: This is my strongest area at the moment. (Totally unaffected by the bad leg.) I'm going for a comfortably hard, steady pace, since it's a flat course. The effort should feel something like my 10k run pace.

Run: I know this may be a struggle. Coming back from injury is a b****. I'm going to start slow and comfortable and pick up the pace in the last mile if I've got it in me. I'm pretty good at running at a steady pace, and pretty good at knowing where my body is and where it should be when I run. I'm getting re-used to some of that, but I can see obvious improvement in all of those things every time I'm back out there.

No Garmin. I don't need the numbers distracting me. No ipod. They're not allowed in the triathlon world, and it would be one more thing to deal with. (The amount of gear needed for a triathlon, to someone who's used to just running, is insane!) Plus, I've been trying to run more without the ipod. I don't bike with it, for safety reasons, and I enjoy biking just fine. No reason why I can't grow to be the same way with running.

I have no real time goal, but I find it impossible to think about this without estimating. So if you're curious, I estimate that I can do the swim in 15-20 minutes (that's the hardest to estimate, since it will just be a freaking madhouse), the bike in 40-45, and the run in 33-35. I gave my estimated finish time as 1:45.

But I can finish happy and I can totally live with that. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Speedy the Turtle

When I was hurting, I thought that running injured was about the hardest thing I've ever done.

Then I couldn't run. Then being injured and NOT running was the hardest thing I'd ever done.

Now I'm running and trying to return from being injured. That is equally as hard as the last two.

It can be SO discouraging coming back, being slower than you used to be, especially when you know you spent what seems like a large percentage of your life busting your ass to improve your speed and endurance....which apparently can go out the window at the whim of a very uncooperative shin bone.

I was having a rough time this morning. The leg felt stiff and uncomfortable and tired going into the run. I also wanted to get it done, because I wanted to get one more run in before Tri for Joe, while still giving myself three whole days to recover. Even two days isn't enough sometimes, not right now, if the gimpy leg wants to get cranky about it.

So I trudged off down the road. I tried so so so hard not to pay attention to my pace and just run comfy, but not paying attention is hard to do with a Garmin strapped to your wrist. And once you're paying attention, it's hard not to be bothered when the first number of your pace is one that you haven't seen in a long long time, not even during your longest runs.

Trudging down route 32, something on the ground caught my eye. A turtle! For half a second, my fuzzy brain thought it might be a real one. We've had enough flooding that I've actually seen more than one turtle while out running, biking, or driving. But it was actually a little stuffed one. I kept going, but I realized how appropriate a turtle was for my slow butt, and decided I'd have to pick it up on my way back.

I took a route I'd never ran before because I was afraid of running on the busy road, but the marathon training group got me much more used to road running; plus, the shoulder's wide and there's a middle lane, giving cars and me both plenty of room. This was the same route I planned to run the night the shin splints really gave me hell. Today, though I was going to avoid the hilly neighborhoods, except I ran out of sidewalk and decided to turn into one of them anyway. Heck, didn't matter much if my run got even slower.

I totally surprised myself by tackling the hills. They weren't bad, but I haven't ran up a hill since the 10k, and my hatred of them is pretty well-known. Plus, I'm not really supposed to run on hills....I don't think. And it was a dumb idea on a day that I was already hurting. But they really weren't that bothersome. Really. And once I got out of that neighborhood, I felt fantastic. I picked up the pace. I made sure I picked up my turtle, and the last 1/2 mile of my run, I was running with a filthy little stuffed turtle balled up in my fist.

My last mile was a 10:10. A 10:10 is not where I want to be. It's slower than my previous 5k pace, slower than my previous (non-injured) 10k pace. Barely squeaking out 3 miles is not where I want to be. But 10:10 is the fastest mile I've run since coming back to running, and it was the last mile of a run - a run where I'd previously felt as great as the road dirt caked on the poor little stuffed turtle. I decided the turtle is my new good luck charm.

So the turtle got scrubbed clean. Dingy, but clean. His name is Speedy and he is my new reminder to persevere, to just keep going, and I'll make it to where I want to time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

multipurpose running gear

My husband decided that my foam roller also makes a pretty good iphone stand.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Holy crap

And now...I just officially registered for my first triathlon. It's in 6 days. I feel nowhere near prepared enough for it. ( somewhat of a perfectionist, I recognize that I never feel prepared enough for anything, and I need to just jump in and do it, and it generally turns out better than I think it will. Eight years' worth of college exams taught me that.)

I'm not likely to drown, I'm not likely to kill myself (even if I do fall off the bike), I'm not likely to make the injury worse at this point, and I'm likely to cross the finish line. Guess that's good enough criteria to give it a try!

It feels so good (and sooo scary!) to be registering for races again!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

triathlon and marathon endeavor updates

This year is going to be a year of firsts for me, for sure. First major running injury, first real road bike, first sprint triathlon, hopefully first olympic distance tri.....and first marathon.

I officially registered for the US Air Force Marathon on September 17. I'm in. I'm paid. I'm committed.

I'm terrified.

This is with the blessing of my doctor, and my PT, whom I asked MULTIPLE times before I signed up. When I signed up for the Pig, that seemed like a tough road, but something doable. Now, when I can barely squeak out a few miles and I have four months to octuple the distance I can run.....this endeavor now seems to be somewhere along the same level as making pigs actually fly. But ya'll know I'm going to try my head off. Or my feet off.

This also means that I'm officially marathon training again, I guess. I began the official training with....a near 4-mile run. In 40 minutes. And, going slower than my previous long run pace, I was wearing myself out. Sigh. Running endurance sure disappears fast!

The very good things about that run: it was 40 minutes of running straight. The most I've done since the 10k. And my running buddy came to visit for it!!! I've soooo missed running with her!! Nice to ditch the ipod and have a good chat every once in a while. And the other good thing: I'm fine now. Leg is tired, but not in pain. I'm still hyper-aware of the signals I get from it and what they mean. I still have some discomfort and weirdness from it from time to time, but very little pain. I can tell it's getting stronger. I'm thinking/hoping that when the injury is really gone for good, my endurance and speed will shoot back up to their previous levels.


NEXT WEEKEND: Tri for Joe! I haven't officially signed up yet....but I'm gonna do it. It's going to be tough. The other day at the gym, I did a mini-triathlon: 20 minute swim, 20 minute stationary bike, 20 minute run on the track. It wasn't exactly the same, obviously, because I leisurely changed my clothes and fixed my hair between the swim and bike, but it was good practice for doing three in a row. Holy crap. That kicked my butt. This triathlon thing looks so easy on paper, but it's a whole new mental game when you're tiring yourself out before each workout!

But I will finish and I will have fun, and since I've never done a tri, I'm not thinking too hard about the time at all. I can't remember the last time I've done a race without being a little OCD about time and pace, so it'll be nice. I just want to see how this goes!

And finally: I think I've got the clipless pedal thing figured out. I'm by no means good with them, but I can set my bike in motion without falling over now, and kinda clip as I go. I can unclip at will, although I'm still a bit skittish so I start unclipping looong before it's necessary! I even rode in freaking traffic, with multiple stop lights, clipping and unclipping. Nearly fell over when a car suddenly stopped, but I hung in there.

Fell once on the bike trail. I was going to pull off into a parking lot and turn around to head back home. My inner dialogue went something like this:

"OK, unclip right foot. UNCLIP RIGHT FOOT. (Note: by default, I stop using my right foot when I bike, so I'm working on unclipping that one to stop.) WHY won't it come out?? Aaah! It's stuck! It's so stuck!! OK....I can keep pedaling a little longer. Now, come out right foot. Hmm. Left foot? OK, left foot's out. Now I can stop! Wait...wait....why the eff am I leaning right to stop?? No! Wrong way! Aaahhh....*crash* Don't even tell me my stupid foot is still stuck to that stupid pedal. Oh....NOW you're unclipping!"

But nobody was around to see, and a little road rash never killed anyone. :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

triathlon = money pit

Since deciding that injury = darn good reason to take up triathlons as a new hobby, I have acquired:

  • bike
  • bike shoes
  • swim cap (because I always just swam in a ponytail before)
  • new goggles (on backorder from amazon...but my old ones, which I think are from wal-mart, are getting leaky)
  • tri shorts
  • tri bra (quick-drying after being immersed in water)
  • bondi band with a tri logo, after I realized that I'll need a quick - and of course fashionable - solution to the "running with crazy wet hair in my face" dilemma
  • wetsuit
This had better turn out to be a really fun endeavor.

PS - of course I got a pretty decent deal on everything on that list!!! :)

She's a brick......OUCH.

First of all....I took a little bit of a hiatus from blogging, since I spent a few days out of town for a wedding, then came back to the post-vacation-return-to-work craziness. But here I am....

More specifically, I went to the Outer Banks, where there is a BEACH. And I got to RUN on the beach!! And I found out that running on the beach is hard!! (Yes, it may seem obvious, but when you're usually hundreds of miles from anything resembling a beach, you tend to not know these things.)

The interval thing is slowly but surely working, I think. I feel an awful lot like a baby learning to walk. Holy crap....running is HARD. I'd forgotten that. Now I'm up to 5/1 jog/walk intervals, and I find myself REALLY looking forward to that one minute. It's hard to believe that a couple of months ago I was running 15 miles straight and finding long runs to be (mostly) relaxing. And it's a little discouraging at times. I mean, I want to train for a marathon, and right now, a 5k would be a struggle. When does running start to NOT feel like I'm killing myself?? When does it feel like second nature again? When do I get my pace back? Arrgh.

And you know what else is hard? Training for a triathlon. :) I'm learning many new things about cycling that non-cyclists are not aware of and generally invoke an eyebrow raise and a "wtf?" from those who do not cycle. One of the biggest ones - and my current nemesis - racing requires cycling shoes. Cyclists actually clip their shoes to their pedals. That's right, you're attached to your bike. And they make it look super easy.

So, I got my cycling shoes, which were free because I signed up for the bike shop's rewards program and had plenty of points from buying my bike to get some gear. I was quite happy with myself, because I found a pair that was not only on clearance, but in a world where shoes are built primarily for function, so consequently most biking shoes are U-G-L-Y-you ain't got no alibi, I scored a relatively cute pair.

Function, appearance, and frugality all in one!
I figured out how to attach the cleats to the bottom, and took them to the gym to practice clipping and unclipping while riding a spin bike, which happen to have the pedals that match my cleats. (There are different kinds of cleats/pedals, which I'm not even going into right now!) It was surprisingly not hard, and I practiced for a while until I felt like I got it.

Thursday's workout was supposed to be another 30 minute jog/walk. I had time to combine it with a 30 minute ride. Then I thought, "Why don't I make it a brick??" (A brick would be a back-to-back workout to simulate what it's like to go from one to another in a triathlon.) Then I thought, "Hey! I want to try this clipless shoe thing!"

Get up in the morning, get ready for a workout. Triathlon is making me miss the days when getting ready for a workout involved throwing on the nearest clean-ish running clothes and heading out the door. Now I've got to get dressed, put on calf compression sleeves (<3 them, btw), strap on the garmin, put on arm warmers (because you dress like it's 20 degrees warmer for running, but do the opposite for cycling), make sure my hair is in a low enough ponytail so as not to get in the way of a bike helmet, but a high enough ponytail that it's not all stuck to my neck because I *hate* that, grab water bottle, bike shoes, socks, running shoes, road ID and spibelt with phone in case I wipe out and have to call someone to scrape me off the bike trail....holy crap, I feel like I'm going on vacation.

I put my shoes in a bag, decided to drive over to the bike trail in my flip-flops (because I was not going to make my first clippy attempt anywhere that I would be in traffic or stopping at lights), and oh yeah - grabbed my wallet just in case someone decided to pull me over during the less than two mile drive over. Grabbed husband's truck keys, left him a note that I stole his truck (as he slept like normal people do in the morning),  drove up to the apartment complex bike garage to sling my bike into the back of the truck, and off I go.

Oh, those shoes made me nervous. But it looks so easy when other people do it, and I'm smarter than a lot of people, so surely I can get this bike shoe thing down. I walked my bike over to the trail and stood there for a minute analyzing things. Then someone passed me, and I realized that my dumb butt was right in the middle of the trail. So I moved to the right side. Still standing, I swung my right foot over and after a few tries, the satisfying "click". I'm in! Attempted to push off, get left foot in, and....WHAM. WTF? My bike was on the ground. In the process, I had managed to jerk my right foot free so I was standing over the poor bike. Try again...this time, much the same, except I ended up on the ground, too. Luckily, I landed mostly on one butt cheek, which is sufficiently padded so it didn't really hurt. (Plus I had aimed the fall toward the grass and mud.) I kept trying, but I couldn't get that left foot in without falling. When it looked like my choices came down to either fall repeatedly, or get a ride in, I decided to back up a step and try one biking shoe, one running shoe.

Returned to the truck and....I had forgotten my running shoes.

So I went for a short ride in one bike shoe and one flip-flop. I didn't get too many weird looks - I don't think people really pay attention to feet. And I could totally tell the difference with the bike shoe - it felt way more efficient and fun to be attached to the pedal.

Back to the truck, went back home, grabbed running shoes, did a short ride on the bike, but I still had my bike legs, so I think it was a successful brick attempt. I think they call it a brick because it feels pretty much like running with bricks attached to your legs. But, although it felt slow, my pace really wasn't off from its norm at all. I was SERIOUSLY tired by the end of the run, though. I'm gonna blame that partially on the brick, partially on the injury, and partially on the fact that Cincinnati has decided that it's August now and it was much hotter and more humid than I bargained for. I came back SOAKED in sweat....but the morning had been a pretty good workout.

Got some advice from a tri forum, and I think I'm ready to attempt the shoes again sometime soon, even though I can't be convinced that they're NOT out to kill me (and my poor bike!!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Song Challenge week 6

This week is....Your Favorite Song from a Movie.

Interestingly enough, I have yet another running-related answer, and it came to mind as my for real favorite movie song. It just happens to also be motivating as heck as a running song.

I first saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch as an undergrad in my cult film class. (Something you may not know about me: my bachelors is actually in film and communication, minor in theater. Near minors in psychology and Spanish, for what it's worth.) There's way more to this film than I can put into words, but a quick synopsis: it's the story of love and identity from the perspective of a botched-transsexual German rock singer. It's also a stage play. It also has pretty much the most rocking soundtrack I've ever heard. I bought the CD (because this was before the days of the ipod - I feel old!) and pretty much wore it out. It brings back tons of memories from my film major days.

So here's the actual movie clip of Tear Me Down, which is the first song featured in the movie. If the video draws you in like it did me, get a hold of the movie and watch it - it'll make you laugh, think, and rock out.

And as I mentioned, it's a great motivator when I'm out running. You want me baby? I dare you - try and tear me down!!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


The Flying Pig volunteer t-shirt = pretty much adorable. I love how the pig's butt is the G. Heehee!

recovery is a b****....

I'm not gonna lie. Yesterday's run did not leave me feeling great. There's a small amount of pain I can pinpoint to the injury site (oh, THERE you are again) but mostly my whole lower leg has a dull ache (including when I'm not putting weight on it) and it feels unstable and awkward and it's leaving me a wee bit grumbly. I actually slipped on one of my compression sleeves last night, and it helped. Going to wear them for running now, for sure. I woke up this morning and stretched out my leg and it was twingey.

I don't think that running was the mistake....I think I took off like a bat out of hell. Can you blame me? I mean, I was running for just a minute at a time. I didn't think I was sprinting at the time...but with all my excitement, I probably was. At any rate, I think I've established that I CAN still run at something close to my former pace, but I don't think I SHOULD at this point.

It probably doesn't help that I gave blood after I ran yesterday, so I'm feeling a little off anyway. It usually doesn't faze me much, but yesterday I felt kinda like a truck had run me over.

I'm going to try again tomorrow. I'm not sure if I'm going to re-do day one or go ahead and try for day 2, but I'm going to slow it way down to more of a jog than a run. I'm going to OBX for a few days for a wedding (I think they have sunshine there!), which is probably good, because I won't do much intense exercising, but I should be able to put on my running shoes and keep up with the recovery plan.

At any rate, this is reminding me that no, I'm NOT healed yet. I'm not at all over this hump and I need to check myself before I wreck myself. Reinjury....SO not worth it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oh wait....Guilty Pleasure #2

After I posted this, I was playing around on youtube, and I remembered a song that epitomizes guilty pleasure. I can't remember if it's still on my running playlist or if I got sick of it and deleted it....but it's also hopelessly catchy, and absolutely ridiculous.

(Note: video not worksafe, and somewhat creepy.)

30 Day Song, two, skip a few....

I've had some trouble coming up with the past few weeks of Running Buddy Jene's song challenge. What's happened usually is that I decide that I have to think about it and come back and post when I've thought of the perfect song....and that never happens. This week, though, was easy, and doable for most runners.

This week: A Song that is a Guilty Pleasure.

Really, who runs and doesn't have an ipod FULL of guilty pleasures?? I can tell you that my running playlist is chock full of songs that an educated self-respecting woman, in theory, should not enjoy. But you know what - the most brainless (and sometimes foul) pop and techno and rap songs make the most motivating workout music.

I bet Jene is totally thinking that I'm going to put "A$$ and Ti++ies" here. But I'm not, because I don't even consider that a guilty pleasure. I know of other people who enjoy the song just for the absolute ridiculousness of it. Come on, it's hilarious.

None of my 80's music has a place here, either. If you know me well, you know that I'm not ashamed of my love for 80's music. It's not a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure.

Most of my rap/pop music COULD fall into the "guilty pleasure" category, because I don't think most people would place me as a rap fan. But indeed, Flo Rida, Usher, Ludacris, and many more earned a spot on my playlist. I don't even consider Lady Gaga to be a guilty pleasure....ok. Maybe a little.

The rest of my running music? A lot of techno and some harder stuff like Manson, Slipknot, Rage Against the Machine (and if you don't run to "Bulls on Parade", you are SO missing out).

But the song that ultimately earns the guilty pleasure award is a song that actually does make me feel a little guilty (and dirty!) It hasn't even made it to my running playlist yet, since I was having hard drive issues and haven't downloaded anything for a while. But it's going to get there, because it would make a great running song. I was instantly dancing in my car the first time I heard it.

Then I checked out the lyrics. HOLY CRAP. Not only are they awful, but some of them are just downright icky. But the song is SO FREAKING CATCHY.

So here you long as you're not at work or around small children, enjoy:

(PS - Sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me - gee, clever. Didn't I see that on a Hot Topic shirt sometime in the mid-2000's?)
(PPS - I think my mom reads my blog. Yes, mom, you TOTALLY raised me better than this. :))

Return to running: day 1

The visit with the doc went amazingly well. An appointment with him is a huge pain because he's been running at least an hour late every time I've seen him, but he's a fantastic doctor. He seemed to be genuinely happy for me. Apparently the PT eval said that I've made some huge strides (not literally yet, haha). I don't know how they measure everything, but apparently my leg strength was a 3/3 initially, which basically means able to stand up against gravity. That's it. Now it's a 4/4, which is supposed to be way better. All their other crazy numbers showed improvement, too.

He put pressure on various parts of my leg. Nothing. He had a huge smile on his face and signed off on a walk/jog program. (This was after he misread it as a "walk dog" program, got very confused and asked if I have a dog. Haha!)

It's a slow return, for sure. Here's the plan: I'm allowed to walk/jog every other day and go on to the next day as long as I can do it pain-free and without discomfort the next day.

Day 1: walk 5 min, jog 1 min, repeat for 30 min
Day 2: walk 4 min, jog 2 min, repeat for 30
Day 3: walk 3, jog 3, repeat for 30
Day 4: walk 2, jog 4, repeat for 30
Day 5+: work toward 30 minutes of jogging

I did Day 1 today....and screwed it up already. I was thinking it was walk 4/jog 1. Whoops. I only added in one extra minute of jogging....err....running. I probably was supposed to be taking it slower. My first lap around the track, I covered in 2 minutes. It's a 1/5 mile track. That's a 10 minute mile pace, and I was walking for half of it. But it didn't feel like I was pushing too hard, either - it felt like a pretty comfy pace. I guess I'll have to find out if my cardiovascular endurance will let me hang on to that pace!

It felt great at first, although my leg was feeling strange by the end. Not painful per se, but more unstable. My whole leg, not just the injured part. It feels tired now. Then again, I let them work the heck out of me in therapy the past two days. (I'm allowed to jump now, and they had me doing jumps on the leg press machine - it's so weird!)

My stride has also changed. I used to strike on the inside ball of my foot, now I'm landing on the outside of my foot and I couldn't seem to change it. The PT is going to evaluate me for orthotics at any rate, so I'm not too worried about messing with my form at the moment. I also feel like I'm not nearly as sloppy as I used to be. I felt more gazelle-like, although God knows that may be all in my head!

Anyway, I'll be on day 3 or 4 next time I see the PT, so we'll see how I'm doing at that point.

Oh yeah, the plan specifies "level ground". No hills for now!! :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

good news and a silly cat picture

First, as promised, here is my tiara! Napoleon the crooked-eared cat makes a great (albeit not super willing) model!

Rocky the cat is in the background. He wouldn't sit still for half a second with the tiara on.

And the good news: I saw the PT this morning. I told him that I ran. He wasn't mad at all. Instead, he said, "Great! How'd it go? Did it hurt?" He told me it would be a boring world if we all followed doctor's orders all the time. See why he's the best PT ever???

I told him about all the running and jumping I've been doing unintentionally. He messed with my feet, hips, and knees, and worked me to death today. It was the first time that I was really wiped out by a PT session - my leg was shaking by the end of it, and my hips were totally sore. And then he said that he would write the doc a note for my appointment tomorrow, and if the doc agrees, he'll put together a walk/jog plan for me. He said I'm healed enough for it!! Just in time - I'm going to the Outer Banks for a few days, and then coming back for what's supposed to be the beginning of some beautiful weather.

I totally squealed like a kid at Christmas who just got the best gift EVER!!! Cross your fingers that the doc says yes!!!


Check out the female winner of the Flying Pig. She's completely amazing. If she can go out and win a marathon, surely the rest of us don't have any excuses to be meeting our goals.

I love how she leaves Ken speechless, and he's like, "'re...what??" Ken Broo creeps me out a little. He reminds me of Skeletor.

When she passed me, I was so stoked. I'd been watching for the first woman FOREVER. When she ran by, I yelled that she was in first and she got this huge grin on her face. Little did I know that she probably wasn't aware of it! She was just out there running and enjoying it!! Go, Amy, go.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Flying Pig weekend recap

I didn't run....but I worked hard this weekend. I have a new appreciation for everyone who makes a race possible, and not only possible, but fun.

Saturday was freaking BEAUTIFUL weather. So I hopped on my bike and went downtown for my shift at the Girls on the Run booth at the expo. As it turns out, biking makes navigating downtown SO much easier. I hate going downtown because I hate traffic and having to search for a parking spot and paying to park. Oh, how I love my bike for cutting two of those things out of the equation entirely and making the other one easier to deal with.

I got there early enough to freshen up and reapply deodorant and all that fun stuff before walking around the expo. Waaay too crowded in spots for my taste, and I'm proud to say I got out of there without buying ANYTHING. I talked myself out of buying any running clothing until I can actually run again. I found out that I look ridiculous in a bondi band (although I will probably order some chica bands when money is more expendable!) What I nearly bought was a pair of orthaheel sandals. I got to walk around in a pair. Holy arch support. They made my leg feel super good, but $50+ for a pair of shoes is just not doable right now if they do anything short of curing me entirely.

At the Girls on the Run booth, I answered questions about the program, hopefully without sounding like a total doof, and ran the tiara making station. The tiara is a staple of GOTR, and for a dollar donation, kids (and a few adults) were able to make their own. By the time I got there, some of the more popular letters were out, so I became the expert on making E's out of F's and A's out of W's and H's and V's. I was impressed by some of the parents that let their little boys make and wear pink tiaras because they really wanted to. Defeating rigid gender roles, one tiara at a time.

Rode my bike back the heck did I end up riding against the wind both ways?? Had Don Pablos with some friends and ate like a horse after over 25 miles of biking and relatively small amounts of food.

Bright and early Sunday morning....I'd considered biking to the meetup point, but I was feeling a bit sore, it was supposed to rain, and I didn't want to (a) leave my bike out in the rain, and (b) end up having to ride home soaking wet. I heard thunder, and that confirmed my decision. At the meeting spot, I was assigned to a spot near mile marker 15 with my partner, who turned out to be pretty cool. And we had a great spot in the race, because it was where the course does kind of an out-and-back - out down one side of Murray, a few turns at the easternmost point, and back down the other side of Murray, where the same people would pass us at mile 16.5 or so. The disappointing thing was that we didn't seem to have much of a job except to make sure that people were going the right way and weren't dying, and we had a race director with us who told us he usually pretty much handles that on his own.

But we did end up being needed - a little. My partner and I ended up back-to-back so we could monitor the different parts of the course. And I ended up with plenty to do, not because the course needed to be monitored, but....

....because I had had an idea. I wanted Running Buddy to be able to spot me on the sidelines, so I figured I should hold a sign or something, but I couldn't come up with anything. Then I heard about a course monitor who was considering giving out cookies. No way was I baking that many cookies....but what do runners need in the middle of a tough race? What did I need during my half? I needed a freaking HUG.

So "FREE HUGS" it was. And it worked!! It was a while before I gave out my first hug, but I figured the faster people wouldn't be willing to stop. Then a guy I recognized as one of the speedier members of the training group offered a high-five. Then, a little while later, a tough-looking guy came running toward me with his arms out.

I didn't count, but I probably hugged about a hundred people. Some of the faster ones were still running and I had to brace myself to stay upright and take a few steps with them. I got way more exercise hugging than I realized I would - when someone is running towards you with their arms out, it's pretty much impossible not to run toward them as well. Nobody seemed to care that I kept running out onto the course. A few people told me I was too far out of their way - I was on the outside of a corner - so I ran to them. I had to do some quick footwork to get from one to another. Some people actually waited their turn for a hug. One guy doubled back for one. Another person yelled to me when they passed again because they wanted another one. Some said that they were too sweaty and they were sure I didn't want a hug. I guess they didn't realize I was already covered in runner sweat! I gave people words of encouragement with each one - if I caught their name on their bib, I'd call them by name, tell them they were awesome, that they were doing great. I heard a lot of "I needed that". One guy told me not to tell his wife. I got one kiss on the cheek, from a girl. It seemed to be providing some entertainment for the police officers standing near me and some of the spectators. None of the cops wanted a hug, though! A lot of people seemed too ultra-focused to see anything around them, and a lot of people smiled at the sign but didn't stop. I get that - sometimes you get to the point where if you stop, it's impossible to start again. Making people smile while they're running is good, too.

I also hugged one bike monitor, and two little girls who were spectating and came up to me, but were too shy to ask. After the race, when traffic was back on the road but was moving slowly, one girl got out of a car and wordlessly gave me a hug.

Between hugs, I was yelling my head off. If someone had their name on their shirt, I called them by name. I got lots of smiles in return. It was fun to have a chance to see all the runners - from the lead guy who came flying by with nobody behind him for a good three minutes, to watching for the lead female, to some of the more interesting runners:

-two guys running together; one's shirt said "BOO" and the other's said "YAH"
-a couple whose shirts said "Getting married in 5 days"
-a guy who ran the whole thing barefoot. I don't mean Vibrams barefoot, I mean nothing between his feet and the pavement. HOLY CRAP.
-a guy whose shirt said "Running sucks"
-a few people who, instead of getting their names on their bibs, had nicknames. The first one I saw was a kinda larger, hairy middle-aged guy who had "Sexy Beast" on his. He got a hug.
-costumes including a shark, a tube of toothpaste holding a big toothbrush, Mr. Incredible and Wonder Woman, and of course lots of pig-themed costumes.

Of course, in there I was looking for people I knew. I got a text when RB had hit 13.1 (in 2:01!) and I started jumping up and down. I tried to keep an eye out for her and at one point I was afraid I missed her, but my timing was off and I realized it had only been 13 minutes. The 4:00 pace group passed and I was a little worried about her, but then I saw the only Yankees hat I had seen during the whole race and knew it was her. Lots of yelling and jumping up and down - NO, I'm not supposed to be jumping, but there's only so much I can help!! She looked a little tired (I was also positioned just after a steepish hill) but great. A little while later, I saw Erin, the director of GOTR Cincinnati, flying toward me in her own tiara. She got a big hug too.

Toward the end, more people wanted hugs. I felt truly awful for the people who were out there struggling, because I know how that feels. One girl looked like she had never been in so much pain in her life. Some were limping, although they all told me they were ok. Some of the walkers toward the end told me they were really hurting. They got big hugs. I was really worried about one walker, a guy with lots of tattoos who told me he was in bad shape and headed for the medical tent before he moved on. It seemed to take him forever to come back around and I was worried about him. I made sure to watch for him and give him a second hug.  I wish I would've remembered his number so I can see if he finished. His bib said "Tank". I hugged a whole family that was walking together, and they made sure I hugged grandma, who was old enough for walking a marathon to be very, very impressive. I was really impressed by the people at the tail end, who were walking right in front of the sweeps bus that picks people up who can't maintain the required 16:00 pace. That's gotta be a rough spot - knowing you're last and that bus is on your tail - but they were still going, laughing and having a good time. A lot of spectators left, a lot of volunteers left, they shut down the water station, but I made sure to stick around until the last people had moved on.

In the end, I'm really glad I did it. Support means everything out there, and all the hugging was therapeutic for me, too. I didn't even smell nearly as bad afterward as you'd think! Oh, and the rain? It let up before long at all. I'm still glad I didn't bike, though. My leg was hurting after all that standing/jumping/running myself, not to mention the bike-riding yesterday AND we went bowling last night too. I went home, ice-massaged it, and decided to steer clear of any other exercise today, with the exception of some light yoga later.

Do I feel great about not being out there myself? Nah. That's not possible. There's no way NOT to wish that I was out there, too. I thought I would feel more mentally ok once the pig was over. Nope, I'm still a bit of a mess. I'm not gonna lie, I held in a lot of tears while I was out there and let them out when I got home.This past week, I've pretty much wanted to run and hide from everyone and everything. This injury thing is still a special kind of mental agony. The only thing that's going to cure that is being able to run again.

In the meantime, though, I give really good hugs, and if I couldn't be out there, that was probably the most fun I could possibly have had.

Oh yeah, of course I wore my GOTR tiara. I'll take a picture of it later - it's in my car and I'm too tired to go out there. :)