Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thinking about working out

I swear this is a blog about working out. Really. But this darn cold just wanted to stick around for a bit. I think I finally kicked it now. I can go nearly 20 minutes at a stretch without coughing (and when I say coughing I mean like who let the seals out bark sounding cough -- its horribly embarrassing). And the Rudolph look I've been sporting is finally starting to fade. Definite signs that the end is near.

I did go to the gym last night, but only to sit in the hot tub and eucalyptus steam room. With some getting used to the steam room was actually quite tolerable....in a torture chamber kind-of way. The first time I tried it I walked in and walked right back out. It was way too hot...and claustrophobic....and kind of slimy. I felt like the air was choking me and I couldn't get out fast enough. But last night I was desperate for some lung therapy so I sucked it up and was able to swing it for two sessions of over five minutes. Today I'm crediting my coughing breakthrough to the steam. I really think it helped.

And just so you know, I haven't stopped thinking about the workouts....I even ordered a new swimsuit to get ready for the next pool workout. I was really in need of one. But they're expensive and I'm cheap. I got through all of last season with the same suit....but now its getting pretty thin and starting to sag -- very un-hot and bordering on scandalous. I bought a new one off the bargain rack at the end of the season last year but I was in a hurry and didn't try it on. The fit ended up being all wrong for me.

It seems kind-of odd to be ordering a swimsuit when its -35 and a blizzard outside, but that's how motivated I am!

My bag's all packed to hit the noon cycle class at the gym tomorrow....I'm hopeful....

Saturday, January 26, 2008

23 weeks to go

While my body is being overrun with some very ambitious little snot-making lemmings, I have discovered what is quite possibly one of the best inventions in modern times. Seriously. What took people so long to come up with this?

Puffs tissues with Vicks and lotion. Its like magic for your nose. I'm thinking of just attaching one to my face. Like a menthol-infused snot cup...no blowing required. They probably give you brain tumors or something and I don't even care. They are saving my nose.

I have been sick now for a full seven days. So, as you can imagine, my training has been completely derailed. Unless you count coughing as an ab workout. I've been doing a lot of that.

When I started thinking about a seven day break from training I got a little freaked out. Now that I've got this pesky training plan I'm sticking with it, and nowhere does it say "lay around and do nothing for a week".

But after a glance at the calendar and some quick math I determined there are 17 weeks until the half marathon, and 23 weeks until the half Ironman. Plenty of time....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Brightening up the blog might have to wait

I've been thinking the blog looks a little dull....it could use a splash of photography to brighten it up a bit. But I'm not really up for trying to bring my camera to cycle class at the gym. And the view from the treadmill...not so exciting. That leaves swimming, but no one needs to see swimming pictures of Wisconsin residents in the dead of winter. And well....it looks like this outside --

So I guess pictures are just something that will have to wait for a bit. But soon there will be great pictures from spring bike rides that look like this --

I can hardly wait!

Maybe I spoke too soon

Have slept like a rock the past two nights, but not so well last night. Woke up with a little bit of residual sore throat. Bummer. I thought I had kicked this thing.

Giving myself one more day off for more snot-blasting and vitamin C overdosing.

I did move my bike out of the garage last night, now I just need to find a spot to set it up on the trainer where I don't have to keep putting it up and taking it down (but where I can still see the TV when I ride). Nothing like fitting a bike into your living room decor! I'm sure that's a sign of a hard-core triathlete!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

So much for the plan...

Seems my body wasn't as keen on this weekends plan as I was.

It started Friday with a tightness down my neck and spine. I just figured I was stressed-- It had been a long week. But after a little run on the treadmill Friday night I started feeling a little something funny in my nose and the back of my throat.

I opted for some hot tub time instead of the laps I had planned, but by 9pm Friday that tightness turned to an all over achy feeling. I was wiped and ready for bed. I took some preemptive Ibuprofen but still woke up in the middle of the night with what felt like two grapefruits in the back of my head, making my brain hurt and swallowing a painful challenge.

After 13 hours of sleep Friday I was feeling OK. Not the horrible hit-by-a-truck feeling I was anticipating -- thankfully. So I set my immune system up for a full battle to finish the war. With lots of Emergen-C, my "snot blaster" (a great invention...like a Nedi pot on steroids), a fruit smoothie (that unfortunately took the life of one good spatula -- did I mention I'm not so good in the kitchen?), and a little down time, I seem to have come out victorious.

I'm hoping to get back to the plan tomorrow and head to the gym for cycle class and some pool time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Its not about the scale

Up TWO pounds? What??

Just to set the record straight -- I am not on a diet plan, I am on a training plan.

But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping (or even trying) to drop a few pounds. If nothing else, just to lessen the strain on joints and maybe...just maybe....make me a little faster. I've been carrying around a couple extra pounds of "holiday treats" in the new year and it would be nice drop the extra baggage.

And even though I haven't been trying to lose, I'm not eating any differently than I had been since the binge-fest between Christmas and New Year's ended. So why did the scale inexplicably jump two pounds this morning? Just to frustrate me? To punish me a bit for taking yesterday off?

I'm going with the theory (based only very loosely, and probably inaccurately, on science of any kind) that because I didn't workout yesterday, I didn't sweat, and am thereby retaining all the sweat that I am used to releasing during daily exercise.

Ya, that sounds good.

So I will probably be sweating double then when i run today.

Ya, double sweat. Two pounds of sweat probably...well four when you count today's sweat too. Ya......so maybe if I do tomorrow's workout today....well, err...I'm sure the math breaks down there somewhere. Didn't I say there were too many numbers in this sport?

Anyway, I'm guessing its water retention of some sort...probably for muscle repair or some such thing. But I'm going to start keeping tabs on the wacky scale, and probably my nutrition too.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why does my weekend look like work?

So here's my plan for the weekend:

lunch = 30 min run
after work = swim (hopefully a solid 45 minutes) then time relaxing in the steam room as reward
after swim = go home and clean/organize/pack for the rest of the weekend (maybe drink wine while doing this to pretend I have a life? Not too much though...keep reading....)

7:30 - 8:30am = cycle class then directly to ski hill
10-2 = ski (ok, kinda social but kind-of a workout. Supposed to be zero this weekend with windchill of -12! I'll be burning calories just trying to stay warm. And sadly there will be no adult bevies consumed or I'll never stay awake for the rest of my day....ok maybe just one....)
4-bedtime = study for big, horrible professional exam

6:30am = at gym to run, do abs (maybe a few weights if time permits), and swim
10am = meet friends for brunch (whoa, look at me bein' social!)
1:30pm - 5:30pm = more studying
5:42pm Watching Brett Favre....probably while trying to study

MONDAY (MLK, Jr day -- off work):
Study, study,....maybe AM cycling class....study, study, study....maybe PM swim....study, study, study,....

and then its back to another week!

Isn't my life fun?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Balance: The Hardest Workout

I'm on day nine of this road to 70.3 and I'm already learning (or maybe re-learning) so much. I'm seeing that the challenge is not just in going faster and farther or getting stronger. The real challenges seem to be matriculating as much more subtle and elusive beasts.

How do I fit it all in? How do I juggle all the aspects of my life and still maintain my sanity? I'm struggling with this balance thing...and not the kind that a solid commitment some form of yoga can improve. I mean life balance.

You've really got to be on top of every aspect of your life to pull this off. Every aspect.

If I am not on top of my work I might not get in my lunch hour workout, which means I'll have to work out after work (provided I don't have a meeting for some other commitment), which means I'll get home late and not have time to stop a the grocery store or I might get to bed late and not get enough sleep, which means I won't have time to pack something healthy to lug with me to work the next day, which means I'll probably have a bad workout, which along with the lack of sleep will make me crabby, which I am likely to take out on the innocent people around me, which will not make my life any easier since these are the people I count on for support....its a domino effect and one little thing can set it off. Something little, that you didn't even see coming.

I heard somewhere that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So I'm giving things 12 more days to work themselves into place. I can see workout patterns forming. I can feel muscles remembering. But I also see my free time filling and my social life slipping away.

So the question will be....can I do it all? Can train as much as I need to, work as much as I have to, accomplish all the goals I have set for myself in the next six months and still find time for a life?

Can I achieve balance without sacrifice? Or is that part of the process? Time will tell, I guess.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Is this thing broken or am I just a wimp?

Ok...so last Wednesday I decide its time to get back to cycling. I hadn't been on a bike since the day before Thanksgiving so I drag Laura along for moral support....and by moral support I really mean shared suffering.

I get on the bike and I'm feeling a little rusty. Things don't seem quite as smooth as they used to but I figure that's to be expected. I've been a slacker so I know I'm about to suffer a little.

But about 8 minutes into our 10-minute warm up I'm beat red and starting to seriously sweat. This was probably the turning point for my mental stamina. It was all downhill from there. As we headed into the actual workout part and I'm starting feel like I'm going to die there were a lot of things that crossed my mind -- none of them positive.

Finally 30-minutes in and I'm thinking I really can't finish the class. I'm dying. I've had every negative thought possible about my chances for this race season and I finally start to think...this bike has got to be broken. I've never suffered this much in a class. But then, of course, I second guess....no, you're just a wimp.....you've been nothing but lazy and gluttonous for the past six weeks....the bike's not broken.

At about 32 minutes I break out of my downward spiral of negativity and ask Laura if her bike seems hard to spin on the easiest resistance. She's like "uh, no". So finally I just can't deal anymore. I get up and move to another bike and its like I suddenly discovered steroids or something. Whole new ball game. Turns out I'm not a complete wimp.

And I think I further proved that point at my cycling class tonight when I logged over 24 miles in an hour....way above my average on the road, even during peak season....and burned well over 400 calories. Nice. I so needed that little boost. And not that I'm competitive....'cuz I'm really not....but I was glancing at my neighbors computers and noticed I was ahead of both of them! HA! Err...I mean...this was not a competition and we all get gold stars for just getting ourselves to the class in the frigid temps. :)

So anyway...I feel a little relieved. Maybe I haven't completely lost all fitness. Then again, maybe that bike was broken too?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Gotta Have Goals

People always ask why I do these crazy endurance events, and I don't really have a good answer.

I like to say that I do them because I can. "Because if someone told you that you couldn't....wouldn't you want to?" That's what gets me out the door for runs sometimes....thinking that if for some reason I wasn't able to run again, wouldn't I want to have that feeling one more time. I know, kinda depressing....but it works.

The truth is, I'm not really all that motivated about working out. So I do these crazy-big events because I HAVE to. Because if I put a 5k on my calendar as a goal I would know that I could slack on the workouts and still slog my way through it. If I didn't HAVE to go to the gym, I'd probably find a million reasons not to.

But when you pay $195 and drop a Half Ironman entry onto your calendar...well, things start getting real.

Workouts are no longer optional, they are mandatory. I didn't pay $195 (plus airfare and other travel expenses) to DNF. I paid to finish.

This year's big goal is to finish the Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3 in less time than last years Ironman 70.3.

Last year's race was a disaster....I can give my 101 reasons a half ironman shouldn't be your first race of the season AND your first triathlon ever some other time.....so I'm not setting the bar very high.

But in addition to the big goal, I've got a few mini-goals leading up to the big event.

So here's the little list that will be running my life for the next six or seven months:
--Madison Half Marathon (finish in under 2 hours)
--Verona Triterium Olympic Distance (not lose Laura after she passes me on the bike)
--Lake Stevens 70.3 (just a good solid race, negative splits on the run would be nice)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not Fast

I'm not fast. And I'm OK with that... sort-of. I like to blame genetics for my lack of speed, but I'm thinking it might have a little more to do with my aversion to any sort of actual training.

I'm trying to change that in 2008.

The training part, not necessarily the fast part. Though I think with some training I might inadvertently get faster.

The thing I despise about training is not what you would expect. I love to sweat. I love to move and be active. I like riding my bike, and water, and I don't entirely hate running. What I hate about "training" is the numbers.

It seems that when one is on any sort of training plan there are all these numbers to worry about. How many miles do I need to go.... What speed should I be going.... What's my heart rate.... Is my pace too slow.... If runner A left the start line at 6:15pm and she's traveling at a pace of.....well, you get the picture. It's like a never-ending 5th grade math story problem.

It kinda sucks all the fun out of it.

I'd rather be thinking about what a beautiful day it is. Or how lucky I am to be out there. Or the latest social escapades of whoever I'm working out with that day.

But here I am, looking at the start of another tri season. Another calendar that finds itself full of race commitments even before the snow's done flying (much less melted). And a training plan. An actual training plan.

And so starts another adventure.