So as I described, I’ve been attempting to “rebuild” my season… which officially starts ThIS CoMiNg wEEkEnD at Wildflower, followed by a number of races Dusty and I already planned out and arranged for.
Ummmm, little problem. I’ve obviously run out of time to get into shape for this weekend, and at the moment I can’t walk without pain, let alone run or… well, sleep.
“That sucks,” you may say. “Roll it out and ice it,” you would advise.
NOSSIR! That’s not how we’re treating this thing: weirdly, this new, indescribable pain shooting down my ENTIRE LEG is a good thing. It is a sign of progress. And I have to deal with it. Until it hurts somewhere else. Then I get to deal with that.
And this isn’t some twisted “no pain no gain” game, either. This is merely peeling the onion of physical issues I’ve had forlikeever. Remember 3 years ago when I was rolling around in pain in the grass at track practice, but I was running again 2 days later? November 2011 when I couldn’t walk one day, went to acupuncture the next, and ran a 10k the next? Or last April when I had just started running again after taking 4 months off because my calves were hard as rocks? Turns out all these ouchies are connected through the kinetic chain. All my overnight “comebacks” weren’t miracles; it was my body recruiting what little muscle groups still functioned properly and running them into the ground, too. Now I’m rewinding all this poop.
You seeeeeeee, while in California, I’ve been working with Blair Ferguson at Ventura Training & Athletics. He works in Muscle Activation Technique ((MAT) and Resistance Training, which I haven’t worked my way up to yet). Blair’s big *star* client is Jordan Rapp. Jordan doesn’t stretch. He doesn’t do yoga, he doesn’t foam roll, and he doesn’t take Advil. Jordan sees Blair, who doesn’t manage pain, he fixes weaknesses. And yes, Jordan was seeing Blair before and ever since the horrible bike accident that nearly took his life in 2010.
MAT is beyond explanation without mixing metaphors grotesquely, so I’m just going tell you what’s going on with me.
The basic idea is that we are bilaterally symmetrical beings and are designed to be equally neuro-muscularly strong on both sides of our body. Pain and injuries occur when weakness sidelines muscle groups, causing other muscle groups to pick up the slack. You’ve heard of “overuse” or “compensatory” injuries, right? You START “overusing” or “overcompensating” after some kind of trauma, be it whiplash or a broken bone, a contusion or a concussion.
So what was my trauma? Well, evolving from a swimmer to a land-sport mammal was certainly traumatic, particularly in my feet, which are pretty important and complex body parts. I can dorsiflex like a champ, but when it comes to plantar flexion, it’s a wonder I don’t fall over backwards when I try to stand. Yeah, STANDING isn’t possible for me without compensating somehow –namely pronating my feet, which stresses my knees, and throws my hips back, stressing my lower back. Imagine what happens when I run and train for an Ironman or two, two years in a row.
I was born with another “trauma;” I am a freak and have two extra bones. One is a tiny rib off my C7 vertebra, and one is an extra Lumbar vertebra (an L6) that didn’t fully fuse into my sacrum, but is fused into my ilium instead. I HAVE A TAIL! Kinda. I saw an X-Ray several years ago and don’t quite remember the details, but Figure A in this image stolen from the internet is almost the idea.
The sacralized vertebra in particular, we think, is another major culprit in my kinetic chain. It results in extra and/or inhibited movement in my lower back, creating muscle imbalances, and presenting almost like scoliosis when things get really bad.
So I already knew a lot of this, I just didn’t have a long term plan or a method to deal with it beyond yoga, ice, and compression socks. None of that is going to address a deformed spine or a foot that basically points the wrong way if I want to do anything other than lay on the couch.
The MAT protocol involves testing both sides of the body for weakness . When a weakness is identified (ie, you’re not able to resist a force as well on one side as the other), we start messing with of “turning on” the muscles that aren’t functioning properly. MAT is NOT massage or pain relief. I walk out of treatment drained and exhausted, not refreshed. In fact, last week my back spazzed out twice as we’ve worked to unravel my weaknesses. Blair didn’t once touch the muscles that were causing me pain, but worked on their counterparts –the theory being that muscles were spazzing for being overworked because the guys on the other side of my back. The muscles he palpated had never bothered me or caused me pain just weren’t doing their fair share.
Wake up, guys. I need you!
And of course, some of them hurt once he started poking at them.
Although I’m currently peeling the onion and rebuilding my house, I know that this is the tough part of the “getting worse before I get better” equation. I know that ultimately Blair and MAT are going to help me function better by getting some key players off the bench and in the game. (See what I did there? METAPHORS!)
We’re heading to Wildflower this weekend, where I will just be swimming, and to Boise 70.3 in another month, where I’m guessing I’ll aquabike as I try to get my run (ie back, ankles, calves, hips, and knees) back online. It kinda sucks, but I’ll have a longer career for sitting a few races out. Hopefully, although I’m missing out on building some fitness right now, I’ll be back at it and better than ever soon(ish).
Here’s a list of Blair’s favorite MAT practitioners in Chicagoland, for those who asked:
- Shawn True, Wheaton/Naperville, IL 630-291-2322 firstname.lastname@example.org Master MAT/Instructor
- Michelle Amore, Chicago, IL 312-550-9468 email@example.com Master MAT
- Joel Reynolds, Wilmette, IL 847-530-5801 firstname.lastname@example.org Master MAT
- Johnny Cooke, Chicago, IL 312-305-4118 email@example.com
- Charlie Cates, Chicago, IL 608-469-1721 firstname.lastname@example.org
An “Experience Report” from Wildflower and my first swim meet as a grown-up will come next week.
Happy New Year!
Say what? We’re 4 months into the new year? Whatever.
MUCH has happened since my last post. New apartment!
New job! New neighborhood! New coach! New mug! New schedule! New training logistics!
14 15 weeks later, much of the above is new again. I attempted to make the new job and new training situation coexist, and ended up unable to whip myself into shape in either arena: long days and late nights made morning workouts that much harder for a decidedly un-morning person. My fab new apartment was coming together nicely, although I haven’t seen it in a few weeks: a new relationship has rescued me from the doldrums of wintery Chicago, whisked me away to Southern California, and made me ridiculously happy. It has brought a new sponsor and training partner, as well as daily inspiration to work as hard as he does… almost (and within reason for an “off”/non-Ironman year).
I also have my 2013 race schedule more-or-less set, and there’s nothing “old” about it. No traditional “favorite races” from years past, and no course/competition retributions.
Spectating Oceanside 70.3 (March 30).Spectating totally counts. This was my first time in a support role at a major event (my attendance at IMOO and IMKY don’t count), and it was a total blast. Aside from wishing Dusty luck and keeping our eyes peeled for the distinctive Wattie ‘W,’ Lindsay Zucco, Eurostar, a number of Watties and I just hung out on Oside’s “hot corner” and watched the pros and our friends kick ass. I learned a lot about tactics at the pointy end just by watching: watching Heather Jackson make her move on the run, watching Andy Potts not panic with 7+ guys hot on his heels, then making his move decisively late in the run, watching Jesse Thomas move up in that pack give everything but recognize why Potts won. It was awesome to party with HJ after her victory, BTW.
- Surprise! Piru 20k TT (April 7). 32:0x, 1st Public Woman, 1st Overall Female. There were only 7 women there, but I’m told my time was good, and I executed well: negative split, higher power in second half…pretty good for just going out there in my regular training trim: the only thing aero about me was my position and my helmet.
- I’ll be swimming a 500 at Master’s meet in 2 weeks for Conejo Valley Multisport Masters. My first Masters meet, can you believe? First meet since… NCAA Division III MIAC Conference in 2000. Wow.
- Wildflower Long Course (May 4). I previewed the course last weekend. More on this below.
- Boise 70.3 (June 8).
- Spectating Vineman 70.3 (July 14. Sold out by the time I realized I’d be available on this date… so I’m going to watch and eat and drink, like ya do. We have rezzies at The French Laundry, la di da de.)
- Boulder 70.3 (August 4)
- Age Group Nationals – Olympic (August 10, Milwaukee)
- Vvvvvvegas for IM70.3WC?
Meanwhile, thanks to digging a hole for myself after Kona last October, then not being able to find my footing for a few months once I was ready to start training again, and overeating all along the way, this season is off to a slow start, ifyouknowhwatimean. I’m rewriting my expectations for this season as I go. I’m also catching up on all of the physical therapy I haven’t done in the last 2-5 years, which is more important than pushing through for another year… I guess. As a result of my current condition and conditioning, and after seeing the course and recognizing my weaknesses right now, Coach Steve and I have agreed that Wildflower will be an aquabike. We called it now, a few weeks early, just so I can wrap my head around having to surrender my timing chip after T2. Ouch.
We’ll see where I am another month hence at Boise. It could be another aquabike, a great training day, or maybe we’ll take the reins off. In any case, emphasis will be on Boulder in August and generally rebuilding for another Ironman year in 2014.
Recently, an esteemed acquaintance said that I haven’t yet paid my dues to the sport of triathlon. He didn’t mean it in a jerktastic way –in fact he was saying it to comfort me— but it made me think. I trained for my first triathlon when I was staring down the barrel of my 30th birthday.* I turn 35 today (having spent this entire season as a F35-39) and am looking forward to 2013 as my 7th season, although I still haven’t figured out exactly what I’m doing with it. In an ongoing effort to calculate my next move, a few friends (including Ms. Kate Bongiovanni and her enormous compliment, as well as the “dues” comment), have inspired me to reflect on my little “journey”* so far. Join me as I gaze at my navel on the 35th anniversary of having my umbilical cord cut, won’t you?
*I didn’t know about the USAT age-up rule, so was completely pissed when body markers wrote “30” on my calf. And is “journey” not the most over-used word in triathlon human-interest stories?
We’re no Boulder or San Diego, but amateur athlete-wise, Chicagoland has an embarrassment of riches: I’m surrounded by hyper-talented people who train hard but make winning look so, so easy. These people win their age group regularly and qualify for Nationals/Worlds/Boston/Kona repeatedly, and sometimes on their first try. If there’s some mythical socially acceptable rate of improvement, these people surely overstep it: they have many happy returns on their investment. Sure, they’re human and suffer occasional setbacks and injuries, but they navigate around them toward their goals.
I do not see myself as one of these freaks.
I’m also lucky enough to train and race with people who work their way toward better and better results. Their trajectory may be a slightly slower than some of the local superstars, but it’s thrilling to watch their names climb closer to the top of the results page. Some make their goals known publicly, and sure enough, they cross items off-season by season. They demonstrate their efforts, and though the rewards may be harder to come by, their pride and gratitude is that much greater.
As I’ve described, I’m embarrassingly un-type-A about a lot: I don’t really set goals, much to the dismay of, like, every coach I’ve ever had. I joke a lot about keeping the bar really, really low so that it’s that much easier for me to hop over. Then I get to go “TA DA!” from the other side no matter how narrowly I clear said bar. Yes, I train, I race, I’ve improved, and I’m grateful and proud, but I’m not self-directed when it comes to la vie sportif. I’ve always had coaches and teams to whom I was accountable. That part on my resume where I talk about being highly self-motivated? Total lie. Fear and pressure motivates me. Here’s my background:
…And memo to self: delete this post when conducting next job search.
Swimming was my Thing, growing up. I remember being put in a floaty-O and learning how to eggbeat my legs so I spun in quick circles. After work one evening, my mom taught me to float on my back while standing on deck in her beshoulderpadded blazer. We joined an athletic club and the lifeguard/swim coach made me sign up for the diving team because I pointed my toes every time I jumped in the pool. That meant being on the swim team, too. I swam the 25 backstroke at my first meet and came in dead last and terribly confused: I accidentally ducked under the lane rope mid-length and disqualified myself. Watching the big kids, I learned how to approximate a butterfly stroke so swam that next.
Swimming was heretofore a summer sport, but in 3rd grade a swim mom told mine about a species of winter swimmers. These fish included Tommy Malchow, who I trained and traveled to a few meets with. You know Tom, the 200 butterfly gold medal winner from the 2000 summer Olympics? Yeah, before he beat pubescent Michael Phelps, he once loaned me his goggles. My mom took me to my first United States Swimming (USS) meet where I swam three events and was disqualified in two because I didn’t know the rules.
From 3rd through 11th grade I was on at least three teams a year (summer league, school, and USS). I swam a lot of individual medley and whatever stroke I happened to be good at that season (usually fly). Really, though, my coaches slotted me into the roster where ever they needed to fill it out: the smart ones made it sound like my idea or like it would be a fun experiment. “You like backstroke, don’t you? No? Sure you do, let’s put you in this relay. Learn how to do a start before the meet, OK?” This is also how I briefly became a distance freestyler in 7th grade (200 and 500 free). I choose to believe they valued my “versatility” versus taking advantage of how little I cared what race it was, as long as I got a ribbon at the end!
My best season was my sophomore year in high school: I had moved to Emmaus, Pennsylvania from Colorado just before 9th grade and was completely fuuuucking miserable (sorry, fellow Hornets). Everything had changed. Everything but my Thing, swimming. I was almost always the first one to throw myself in the pool and start warm-up, 9 times a week. Being on the swim team, staring at the record board every day, and hoping that if I got really fast I might make some friends became my purpose in high-school life. It was a coping mechanism. During that horribly awkward time, swimming was more natural and comfortable than walking the halls at school. There was a depth of talent on my team, so I never got to be the best at any event, but I did go to the State Championship and swim the butterfly leg of the medley relay (against a girl from our rival high school who went to the Olympic trials. I got my ass handed to me).
Then I moved back to Colorado. Everything changed again, including my body, and I lost my drive. As a surly senior, I quit.
I returned to swimming at Carleton College, though, and made great friends there. Every year I thought about quitting: dedicating two of three trimesters per year to such a time-consuming extracurricular along with the rigorous academics at Carleton was overwhelming. So was the thought of not having swimming, though. Not just the sport, but the people. Just by virtue of knowing the team, I knew 8% of Carleton’s student body (small school), and knew them well. We spent a LOT of time together. We were family, and still are. Facebook lights up every time we hear Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” (see 2012 Superbowl) or if there’s a remarkable development in our world.
Collectively, we loved this video so hard. If anyone had a camera at our winter training trip in Florida, we would have created something similar. Actually, the infamous “Men’s Team Entry” video is the late 90s VHS Bizarreoland equivalent. Why isn’t this on YouTube?
Cut to post-Varsity life and several years in my 20s of thinking about joining a swim team, or taking up jogging, or bike commuting… but finding excuses not to. I was pretty convinced I couldn’t do land sports: a lifetime of virtually zero impact on my joints (unless skiing counts? And I injured myself plenty doing that) made it seem out of the question. That meant triathlon was out too, although I was really attracted to the funny-looking bikes and cool running shoes.
Anyway, I spent a few years watching teevee as my 30th encroached. Then this episode of “Scrubs” came on.
I signed up for a training program that would get me to Danskin Sprint Triathlon for Ladies and gave it a shot. I procured a wetsuit, already had a road bike (“Denty” was about four sizes too big for me), and figured I could walk the run if I needed to. I tested out my joints during a few training runs wearing my very fashionable Pumas, which LOOKED vaguely like running shoes, but had no function other than being really blue.
Training was a lot of fun, even the running part –actual running shoes made a big difference. And hey, guess what? When you start out slowly and follow a training program, you can do just about anything. The Chicago Tri Club took me in and I got hooked fast, partially because after half a year of working alone at home, I found a social group. Moreover, after five years of living, studying, and working in an area dominated by gay men, I met some STRAIGHT BOYS! Yaaaay, triathlon FTW!
I once had no idea how anyone could move their legs fast enough to break a 9 minute mile. It seemed impossible to me… unless I was chasing the boys at the front of the local fun run. I would listen to them having easy conversations while I turned purple and doubled over at stop lights, wondering how they could talk and run at the same time. The “fun” part of the fun run lasted less than two miles before the boys started disappearing in the darkness between street lamps blocks and blocks ahead.
I spent my first several events calculating my results in various races and was triumphant if I was anywhere near the 75th percentile (or the 50th, in a road race). Thank you, Athlinks! I thought it must be cool to finish in the top 20, then 15, then 10 percent. I admit to stalking past results and a few competitors’ times to better understand what that might take at certain events, but I didn’t know what I could pull off myself.
After volunteering at Ironman Wisconsin (IMOO) in 2007, my friend Mike and I hatched a plan to do it together in 2009. The 2008 season would just be about ramping up ambitions: I’d do a few races, including a half iron and a marathon. I wanted to know I was structurally sound enough for the higher mileage of long course triathlon events. Mike, by the way, conveniently forgot about our pact. He was busy qualifying for Boston anyway.
Thanks to illness and travel, as well as general cluelessness, I didn’t train well in 2008. My first half at Racine went OK (I went sub 5:30 thanks to a REALLY short swim course), but I wasn’t fit enough to bounce back. I lost steam and basically didn’t train for the marathon. I did one long run a week and spent the rest of the week sore and afraid my knee was going to explode. I finished the Twin Cities Marathon in something like 4:07, then sat on the couch for the next two months.
Well-Fit opened the Training Center in early 2009, and I joined immediately. I also lucked into winning a spot in Liz Waterstraat and Keith Klebacha’s Ironman training program. GOOD THING, since the Elite Team rejected my application that year. =P I also finally got a new bike with aerobars and everything, which was a significant improvement over Denty.
I really liked training for Ironman, especially with a group. I had my own agenda after hours (I mean I lived with another triathlete) so it took a while for me to warm up to the dynamic. Like my old swim team, however, I couldn’t imagine training without my little tri family. We were all fairly-to-brand-new to triathlon, but had some strong people in the group. I did a few more halves that year in the build-up to IMOO and had a pretty good day. Actually, it was the best day of my life to date. (Here’s my long race report on Facebook.)
I applied for the Well-Fit Elite team AGAIN and was accepted for the 2010 season! Hurrah. I spent most of that year feeling comparatively slow and self-conscious. I still couldn’t run, and my bike was only slightly improved thanks to many more miles in the saddle. Although I was a swimmer, I felt like I was drowning next to the fast lane’s wake. I think that year I just rode Stacey’s feet and hung on for dear life. I also didn’t have a very ambitious race plan for the season. I felt slightly burned out from Ironman, completely intimidated by the team, and generally meh about my lack of goals. Coach Hayes and I had signed up for the Branson 70.3 in mid-September as our ‘A’ race, but decided to ditch it, so it was a pretty anti-climactic year.
The good news is that after a few months of mental recovery and dieting, I was really ready to hit my off/out-season plan. We registered for the Cary Half Marathon, which kept me running during the cold and dark months. I did my long runs on Sundays just before heading to my girlfriends’ dinner parties to stuff my face. 1400 calories out, 1400 calories back in! Hayes had also become serious about coaching and was reading just about every book published on training. Doctors Skiba and Coggan were informing some seriously intense trainer rides at home. I don’t think I swam at all during this time, figuring it was better spent making my legs suffer.
Ironman Wisconsin gave me a driving force behind my season, which was just the fear of Ironman and hoping I could do better than my 2009 time. I knew I could shave off a few minutes thanks to experience and better decision-making in race execution, but who knows what the day could bring in terms of other obstacles. Weather, nutrition, mechanical disasters? After a few months of Elite Team workouts, though, people started asking me if I wanted to qualify for Kona. Ummm… sure, who doesn’t? But that’s not going to happen. I thought I MIGHT be able to squeak into the top 10 of my age group, and that’s all I really dared to hope for. It would take a lot more than that to qualify.
Sharone really started shoving Kona qualification down my throat. I choked on it. I told him I wanted no one to expect me to do anything of the sort. True, I was placing well in local events and on familiar courses throughout the season. Time-wise, however, I didn’t do anything too remarkable. Barely sub-2:20 at an Olympic here, survived a hot half-iron there. Big deal. Kona qualifiers finish well at big events, right? They podium at 70.3s with national draws (which I hadn’t done), and they run WAY faster than I do.
Well, I never
wrote finished my race report from IMOO 2011, but suffice to say it went better than I expected. I have Sharone and others to thank for putting the idea in the back of my head, at least, which made me take my race preparation quite a bit more seriously than I would have otherwise. Still, I set that bar lower than I needed to, so was completely gobsmacked a spectator told me I was the 5th amateur off the bike and only two minutes down from Sarah, the leader of my age group (and eventual winner: I cashed myself catching up to, passing, and then getting passed back by her). I had friends on the side of the road who had their eyes bugging out of their head in disbelief and/or excitement. My teammates greeted me on State Street, then at the finish line with high-fives and congratulations. It was another amazing day at Ironman.
The “journey of Ironman” is horribly cliché, so here’s my new metaphor:
The cocktail of endorphins, adrenaline, and achievement that is Ironman is the sweetest ambrosia I’ve ever tasted. I would get drunk on it every day and twice on Sundays if not for the hangover.
The aftermath of qualifying for Kona without really doing the mental preparation has brought unexpected consequences, though. By “mental preparation” I mean I didn’t have the confidence within myself to believe I could do it, so when I did, my perception turned upside-down. Being surrounded with freaks and diligent athletes hasn’t lent much perspective in terms of where I stand in the greater scheme of things. I spent time asking for validation: did that really happen? Who DIDN’T show up that allowed me to qualify? Dare I ask for help next season? Will PowerBar take me on? (Yes.) Timex? (FUCK. NO. Dream on.) I glossed over my 2012 season here.
2012 was a year where I lost everything from top down EXCEPT my races. No, I don’t think I’m the shit. Although I wasn’t able to train as hard as I would have liked, I did work on quite a few other things: barely eight months ago, someone told me it was pathetic how I can’t enjoy small victories (personal bests in workouts, for instance) any longer than two minutes before questioning whether or not I gave it everything. I’ve since tried to draw the connection between hard work and positive outcomes, which are always nice. Before this year I never really posted my race results, but a) sponsors want to see them (sorry), b) it’s not about self-promotion; it’s about thanking the teams I love, and c) I finally feel kinda proud of the races I’ve learned to put together. As much as my Minnesotan nature chafes at doing it, hello, I like racing, I like doing well, and I like telling my friends about it. It’s just nice to do something and to feel supported. Not everyone gets it, appreciates it, or understands that I’m still just gunning for the pretty ribbon at the end. It’s just positive outcomes, see?
So I set the bar low for Kona (to “just have a good time”) –I knew I wasn’t at my best anyway—so that helped take the pressure off. Predictably enough, I cleared it. Seriously, try not enjoying Kona. It’s impossible.
What’s funny and/or hypocritical is that I always harp on people who take our little hobby too seriously. I’ve told grown men “this is supposed to be fun, and you don’t have to be here, so quitcherbitchin’.” However, I’ve also told teammates to stop complaining and get the fucking workout done. =) OK I didn’t say that, but “quitcherbitchin’” is a softer version of that general sentiment. I’ve also told people “you’re your worst critic, you have nothing to prove to anyone, no one will judge you based on your results.” Well sure, except for YOURSELF, and that is a person who can be hard to answer to. I don’t want to let anyone down, including, like, ME. And as much as I say “we’re adults, no one is making you do this to look good on college applications,” a lot of this still feels like high school. I want to get fast so I can feel like I belong. I don’t need to prove ‘em wrong or anything, but I do have to remind myself that I have worked for it, like, since I was six and put on that swim team.
Maybe I should just quitmybitchin’.
It seems that I have brought up more questions than I’ve answered: can I suddenly become a self-directed, goal-setting, driven and disciplined triborg? Is that honestly something I have to do to continue progressing in the sport? Can I fully realize that there is no peer pressure to do this: it’s my choice and for my own benefit? There’s still work to be done here, both mental and physical.
Meanwhile, here’s to ageing up and paying my dues.
So I had this whole navel-gazing post all worked up in advance of my birthday this Saturday, but have decided to publish it another time (like, maybe on Saturday). Meanwhile, I noticed someone was directed to my blargh here by searching for the “’shower smoothie’ recipe.”
I don’t know if the searcher was looking for Craig Alexander’s recipe, here (scroll down), or what, but I have a different favorite. It’s the deliciousness that’s pictured with my blue toes in a post-long-run ice bath.
Here’s the basic premise:
(frozen solids (fruit) + liquid) x blender = smoothie
smoothie + supplements = post-workout smoothie
post-workout smoothie + ((hungry)(stinky))^post-workout athlete = shower smoothie
Caution: the shower smoothie is prepared in the kitchen, but shower smoothie time is spent in the bathroom. If you have a problem mixing food with fixtures, this is not the recipe or recovery method for you.
First, choose your frozen solids:
Frozen bananas are kinda clutch, in my opinion. They make your shower smoothie frothy and filling. I peel and freeze smoothie bananas once cereal bananas become too ripe for my taste. My freezer looks like a banana morgue.
Choose your own “flavor fruit”: mixed berries, blueberries, mangos, cherries, even spinach (yes, I KNOW spinach isn’t a fruit). Take into account what kind of supplements you may be adding; don’t mix spinach with vanilla protein powder.
Next, choose your liquid:
I always have almond milk on hand, but you can use anything (except water. Blandzilla!): orange juice, apple juice, coconut water, coconut milk, regular milk, even iced tea. Almond milk is my favorite. Apple juice is good for “savory” smoothies like Green Monster-style spinach ones, and tea is nice because it lends herbaceousness and is non-caloric. I wouldn’t use tea with protein, though I’ve never tried it.
There’s plenty to choose from out there, but I like the vanilla flavored whey protein stuff from Whole Foods’ 365 line just fine. Adding protein makes a shower smoothie what it is –a recovery drink– and whey protein is faster absorbed than soy protein. I have this FRS concentrate stuff on hand if I just want a jolt in my breakfast fix.
Two “specialty” items I include in a good shower smoothie are lecithin granules (not pictured; I’ve run out) and flaxseed oil. Add 1-2 tablespoons of each. The oil has all yer Omega-3s and whatnot, which are good for your muscles, and the lecithin is good for your brain and nervous system and junk. The lecithin also acts as an emulsifier, so your water-based fruits blend nicely with the oil.
Pro tip: shake up your flaxseed oil and store it on its side in the feezer. There are solids in there –the hulls of the flaxseed which are high in fiber and good for you– and this helps squirt them out in even ratios with the oil.
Here we have:
1/2 banana + mixed berries + coconut milk + vanilla protein
Throw it all in there. There’s no point in measuring everything, especially after a workout when you’re just concerned with cramming something into your stomach, getting clean, and going to bed. If you’re an obsessive food logger, God bless you. Let’s just say a whole banana plus ¾ to 1 cup fruit needs about 1½ cups of liquid (?).
Serve and enjoy!
I’ve tried lots of combinations of all of the above. I think my absolute favorite so far, though, was this combo:
Banana + cherries + almond milk + vanilla protein (+lecithin + flax oil, optional) = amazeballs.
November 28, 2012 Update:
I just tried a new combo. I was dragging after my run this afternoon and realized I hadn’t had anything but coffee beforehand. Oops. HOWEVER I was about to leave for an insanely delicious meal involving approximately ZERO vegetables, so wanted something low cal and green to hydrate with. Enter HULK SMOOTHIE:
1/2 banana + 2 tbsp Green Vibrance* + frozen mango chunks + iced tea (+ flax oil, optional) =
This is a variation on a tried and true but about 500 calorie smoothie I’ve made while doing crazy cleanse diets:
1 full banana + 1 cup unfiltered apple juice + 2 tbsp each (Green Vibrance, lecithin, flax oil).
stay tuned. maybe i’ll keep adding to this post…
It’s Sunday. I’ve tried to make sitting down and writing my “job” on Sundays. I love writing, but what toooooootally sucks is having nothing to write about. So I guess this is my blog about nothing.
Maybe not “nothing” so much as not knowing
what’s watt’s next. Tis the off-season and I haven’t come up with a plan for next year, yet. Earlier this week, the 13th, marked exactly 31 days since that thing I did. While I feel it’s time to get back on the horse, I also want to give my mind and body a break, heal up any injuries, and make sure I’m ready to commit.
I’ve always taken a ton of time off after my season ends:
a) I’m highly effective at talking myself out of proactivity.
b) I’m a natural couch potato. My ass is perfectly accustomed to sitting in cars, chairs, and planes. Any cushion I’ve ever plopped in has a shorter-than-tested double rub count and develops a sizeable dent. Actually, this also helps explain how I’ve worn through so many saddles in my relatively short tri-life.
c) I’m super wary of burnout. Feeling obligated to follow a training plan when my upcoming season isn’t even outlined yet doesn’t feel good. I don’t necessarily need a big A-race to shoot for (though the fear of failure certainly helps motivate me…): it’s enough just to know that I plan to race a bunch next year, want to do well, and could/should maintain some fitness for it.
During the season, I looked at showing up to swim practice with the team my “job,” getting enough rest as my “job,” filling in my calendar with a completed workout was my “job.” Well, now I’m basically unemployed. Is fixing myself/having fun/reconnecting with the world at large my “job” now? Even that sounds haaaaaaaaaard and I don’t wanna work anymooooreeeee. Just let me sleeeeeep.
See how good I am at talking myself out of accomplishing anything? Yup! Usually, I sit and I wait until I totally hate myself and the wad of melted wax my body has become before I start training again. Nothing productive happens in the meantime. Although triathletes have a reputation for being “type-A” (the polite way of saying “douchebags” or “borderline schizophrenic personalities with OCD and psychopathic tendencies”), some of us are just fucking LAZY. I’m not going to make a judgment on whether my brand of off-season sloth is good or bad, because it works for me in some respects.
Having a goal is important, though, even if it’s just “I’m going to nail the next X-number weeks of workouts so that on Y-date I can start my season with Z-omg fitness.” I’m just not ready yet. Namely, I tend to wait until my schedule is totally clear of interruptions, and, well, the holidays are coming up, I’m planning a semi-cathartic solo road trip, and more change is coming my way soon. Aaaaand, excuses, excuses, etc., etc., QMB.
I AM starting to chew on next season, though. My idea is to lock in on the half iron distance and learn how to really race it. I had good and bad luck with this season. I love the balance between mind and body in long course triathlon. You have to have the power, but you can’t turn off your brain and skimp on nutrition, pacing, and strategy. I’ll probably throw in some Olympic distance races too, because that is really my Achilles’ heel for almost the opposite reason: I conserve too much for fear of blowing up. I let my mind get in the way.
This is exactly what I tell my short-course friends when they’re like “Ironmerg, ermahgerd!” I personally find speed WAY more daunting than distance.
Of course, I also tell people that spectating an Ironman is harder than doing one. It doesn’t make sense to some, but I believe it.
So, now what?
I was recently introduced to this concept of Vision, Priorities, and Alignment. That’s PowerPoint talk for setting a goal, prioritizing actions to help reach that goal, and evaluating how each action* is helping you reach that goal. Or something like that.
*Within reason. All RELATED actions, maybe, though it’s pretty life-encompassing when it comes to health and performance.
Ugh, what was that about not wanting to work? OK, I’m just thinking aloud here. Chime in if I’m being dumb. Here are my PowerPoints for 2013:
Vision: continuing to improve. 2013 will be my 7th (? WOAH!) season of triathlon and I haven’t had a setback yet.
Priorities (not prioritized, yet):
- I need to run faster. Right now I can basically only-barely hold onto whatever advantage I build in the swim, and I can’t excel past that. I lose it on the run and race results become too close for comfort (like the girl at Kansas 70.3who ran more than 12 minutes faster than I to finish within about 2 minutes of me? Yeah, like that). This means:
- Working on my form.
- More mileage, as long as I don’t get injured (still nursing a stupid calf issue).
- I need to bike faster, too.
- This might require more consistency than I was able to have this last season, meaning, in part, a trainer at home, which I haven’t had.
- More intensity work, bumping my “roof” to raise my “ceiling.”
- Weighing less = faster. I cut *some* weight a few seasons ago, and again about this time last year, but did horrible things to my body this summer and gained it all back (see bloated marshmallow pics from Kona). Ugh. This is going to be hard.
- Sorry, Traveling Triathlete, who once asked how I did it, it involves obsessively counting calories. I don’t go in for the denying your cravings—dafuqs the point of that? Luckily, I find that calorie counting is the gateway to making better decisions in general, and is way easier than any periodized plan where you can only have so many mgs of magnesium within 3 hours of waking up or whateverthefuck. So short of adopting a crazy diet of denial (NO grains/white food/gluten/dairy/alcohol/JOY), just count.
- Maybe I’ll adopt a higher-protein diet, says the girl eating a package of gnocchi right now, with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer for later.
- SHIiiiiiiT. All of this is adding up to “strength.” I basically have to get stronger, and that means doing more strength work. If speed is my one Achilles’ heel, I’m going to have to say that not having the patience, discipline, or attention span to do strength workouts would be the other (you get to have two Achilles’ heels, right? Bilateral symmetry and whatnot?)
Alignment: ummm. Figure out what’s going to get me there? I guess? Maybe it’s time to switch up the plan. Swim like a swimmer, bike like a biker, run like a runner, and do strength… well, I’ll still be a triathlete there. Only functional work, please! La de da!
This is the part I’m still trying to figure out.
Good thing I’ve got a little time before the semi-arbitrary deadlines of my birthday and the New Year come. (Arbitrary deadlines are also motivators.)
Now if you’ll excuse me, my ass has worn a dent into this chair. I need to go take a nap.
I haven’t blogged about anything that has happened since May. There are multiple reasons for that, namely it hasn’t been an easy summer for me, and I hate talking “aloud” about stuff. Stuff like training, racing, and FEEEEELINGS. The pressure I put on myself in training for Kona and my other races, traveling twice as much as normal for work, major strains in close relationships, and bouncing from couch to couch just didn’t make for happy or healthy times.
I have one of those little journals where you only have room to write five tiny lines about your day. I even gave that up early in June. Too hard. Too much/little to say. Too much changed from day to day, and I wanted to ignore the frequency and find my node. Get me, physics nerds? (Sorry, I barely passed that subject in high school.)
Anyway, to summarize the sportif part of my summer, which was oddly successful despite everything:
Late May: The week after Galena, I traveled to Austin, TX for work. I had a great time pretending to be a resident, hanging out with my besty from high school, Paige, and her wonderful husband, Zev. Training was limited to Yoga Rave with Tyler at Black Swan, some sickly, sticky hot runs in the evening, and a great 2+ hour ride out of Mellow Johnny’s. I was the only girl there, and pretty quickly realized the only role a chick plays in a group ride is managing the egos of the dudes around her. Push the pace and get caught, drop behind and get asked how you’re feeling. Annoying. I’m on a 50 pound rental bike, guys, it’ll be OK.
June: The first week of June, Well-Fit represented in a big way at Leon’s World’s Fastest Triathlon. Our women’s team won the team competition (they take the fastest 5 times of a team of 10 people) and a gigantic trophy and some sweet schwag from title sponsor Zoot. I didn’t enter the elite/”all-star” division (it sounded really ostentatious when I registered…), so won the W35-39 division with the third fastest lady-time on the course. The overall winner was the amazing Adrienne Shields, who also won our race at Galena.
The very next weekend, a group of us headed to Kansas 70.3. I traveled with my teammate Jessica, and we formed a quick bond over bad coffee, worse pop songs, and stories about boys. We met up with other Chicago teammates and a contingent from Boulder, including former teammate and Timex neo-pro Christine Anderson, her brother Gavin, and thoroughly charming boyfriend, Owen. It was a great trip. I entered the weekend with a bit of anxiety about my preparedness and fitness level, but decided to relax and see what happened. WELL, what happened was a wire-to-wire Age Group win with the 3rd fastest amateur time. Sooooo I earned my pro card (should I choose to accept it, which I don’t think I will). That’s pretty cool.
The rest of June was really tough, with tons of travel for work, a fair bit of upheaval in my living situation, and plenty of emotional duress. At least I got to steal away to Madison for a weekend or two to start ramping up my bike miles, but the month was horribly inconsistent otherwise. I also got celebrate with my IMOO teammates at the end of the month (Veronica’s blog) AND travel to San Diego to see some of my family, which was long overdue.
July: With only one more ‘B’ race left (actually, two), I entered the phase of my summer where I really needed to buckle down and start adding volume to prep for Kona. Luckily, I had a number of friends training big too, including Jeffanie: Steph and Jeff, the amazing power couple. They made room for me on their near-weekendly trips up to Madison. My very good friends up there, Claire Pettersen and David Kholi, had room and endless patience for me dropping in on them ALL THE TIME to train.
The weekend of July 18-19th, my teammate Laura and I traveled to Door County, Wisconsin for one of my favorite races, the Door County Triathlon. It is a fantastic event: organized, fun, spectator-friendly, community-oriented, non-branded, and makes for a really fun weekend. New friend Fons comes up with his family every year, too. Laura and I stayed well outside of town at our teammate Jeremy’s house, with his lovely wife Michelle. They’re pretty much the coolest people I know, and Laura is a tremendous Sherpa and person.
This was my third year participating in the Half Iron on Sunday, but there’s also a Sprint on Saturday. I wanted to do both races: just for fun, and to jump-start my big-volume training. The Sprint was a BLAST –I hadn’t done that distance in a while and really enjoyed flipping the switch from a mentality of conserving energy for the run to SHUT UP BRAIN, GO GO GO! I won overall by a minute or two.
The Half didn’t exactly go my way: there was some stiff competition, including Kimberly Goodell and Adrienne Amman and others. I came out of the water second, then got a flat in my rear tire immediately out of T1. I spent something like 5-6 minutes fixing it. Special thanks to super-studette Jenny Parker Harrison for reminding me to stay calm as she blew by me on the side of the road. The bike was a little lonely and I got pretty discouraged at times. I basically decided to QMB and HTFU if for no other reason than that I REALLY needed to do a long run, so might as well finish the race.
So I moved forward in the field during the run (this is new to me), and thought I was in 3rd of the Elite wave. Door County plays it a little differently, though: counting age group participants among the overall results, while not letting Elite participants into the age group results. A dark horse ended up stealing first from Adrienne and a few more pushed me out of the overall standings. Well, I wanted to take home something shiny, but had a great time that weekend.
August: I finally FINALLY FINALLY was able to buckle down a little and get in some good training. I was still traveling for work, but trundled up to Madison most weekends. My swim was feeling good, bike was great, but I had no confidence in my run. Track workouts had been going well, but I didn’t do much in the way of long runs all summer. I had a great opportunity to run in Waterfall Glen with the R^3 team and went for it: my longest TWO runs all summer had been at my half irons (13.1 miles) so of course I went for 19 miles with a big “fast finish” push during the last three miles. I did plenty of big bike mileage weekends, too, and had lots of fun with Steph, Jeff, Claire, David, Lindsey Heim, and other good friends. I tried to close my eyes, compartmentalize my life, and just do the work.
Work sent me to Louisville the weekend of the Ironman there, so I got to Sherpa and spectate and get inspired by many friends racing that weekend, including pros Jackie Arendt (2nd) and Thomas Gerlach (3rd). I was texting with a fellow spectator at Ironman Canada and learned two additional teammates, Erin and Kimber, would be heading to Kona. Big, big year for us!
September: Traditionally the end of the end of the tri season for Chicago triathletes is Ironman Wisconsin. Prettymuch everyone was tapering or recovering at the beginning of the month, just as I was trying to do my biggest volume. Luckily Russ was in the same position so we banded together for a few big workouts, including a 2:40 run and 135 mile ride one weekend. Really, I had done HUGE bikes like that in July, when the IM Lou/Canada crew was building, and again in August with IMOO friends.
I had a lot of mixed feelings building into Kona: a lot was in my head, not the least of which was major doubts as to whether I had been able to prepare well. My summer was inconsistent at best. Until August, I hadn’t hit a stride in training, and was basically only doing what workouts I could when I could, and making up the rest. I didn’t see a steady progression in my training log and knew I had been battling some major handicaps. Just as I had leading into Kansas, though, I kinda resigned myself to relaxing and taking it for what it is, knowing I wasn’t at my best.
They say you can’t ask anything of your first time at Kona: that expectations will be shattered by the conditions and competition. On the advice of many people, including some deep, beer-fueled conversations with Rich Strauss, I decided to basically follow this advice from Endurance Nation and do my best to take control of my own experience there. The race would unfold as it may, but I would not forget that it is an honor just to be there.
Thanks for reading. A hopefully more succinct Kona race report is next.
FIVE weeks and many many beers later, my memory and testimonial of the Galena Triathlon may not be too reliable. Luckily, this was my fifth time racing this event, it is near and dear to my heart, and it marks the kickoff of the tri season hereabouts. I have good institutional and emotional knowledge of Galena. It is a beautiful setting.
Setting (Geological): Galena is a sleepy, lush Mississippi-River-tributary town in the very northwestern corner of Illinois, that is carved out of the Driftless Region’s hills. Technically speaking, this area of the Mississippi River Valley is the hilliest shit we Midwesterners can hope for. The hills aren’t long, but they’re frequent and steep, and the race organizers do a pretty good job of finding some challenging roads for us to sweat on.
Setting (Sociological): Several Chicagoland triathlon clubs, including the Chicago Tri Club and Well-Fit, of course, use this race as their first major social/training/racing event of the year. Very large groups rent very large houses in the Galena Territory and Eagle Ridge, make a weekend of it, and turn the post-race party into a shit show (more on that later, maybe).
Setting (Political): I don’t know if it’s necessarily fitting that Galena is the home of U.S. Grant or not, but the Galena Triathlon has the power to divide houses. All things being equal – namely the reach of this race is hyper local, attracting mostly flatlanders who have little to no experience on hills this early in the Midwestern tri season – this race helps shake out “who’s fast/strong” among local athletes. It is surprisingly competitive, exceedingly difficult to get on the podium, and sets a baseline for the rest of the season. At least I’ve always seen it that way. In prior years, I had finished 7th AG, 6th AG, 4th AG, and (weirdly) 3rd OA, and basically had entire seasons to match those results.
Setting (Mental): Sparing some details here, a week and a half prior to this event, I snapped and left my life as I knew it. Training/sleeping/eating was pretty difficult (but had been for a while), but I got to move in to my friend Stacey’s spare office. Thank god for Stacey! Around this time, another major breakup involving a teammate and good friends took place, and my teammate Marc lost his father. The emotional milieu was NOT ideal, but (almost) everyone decided to make the best of it out of respect for the tradition of having insane amounts of fun at the race.
Let’s start a little before race day. Three weeks prior, a group of Well-Fitters rented a house and held a big bike weekend in the Galena Territory. I rode pretty well for 2 days, didn’t do much in terms of running (I mean it is so goddamn hilly, people) but dug a little hole for myself in the nutrition and sleep department. I didn’t rest or recover, or take in enough calories while training, and had a totally shitty bonk on our third day. I suppose it’s best to get that type of thing out of the way when training and hope you’re spared of the experience on race day.
Race weekend, we arrived in Galena laaaaaaate Thursday night in order to enjoy all of Friday doing “shake out” shit and race prep. This involved sleeping in, a group bike wash on the front porch, brief group ride in full race set-up mode, and a really fun swim. Unlike previous years (when organizers have kept a daily vigil by the thermometer, hoping that the lake temperature will come up enough to actually hold the swim and not force EVERYONE into a duathlon situation), there was no doubt the swim was on for race day. Friday, the water temp was comfortable enough that we left our wetsuits in the car. Thank you La Nina and global warming for the beautiful spring! Anyway, a group of us swam the entire course, with a king-of-the-mountain play break at the diving dock, obviously, and practiced a few beach starts.
Race day… I don’t even know what happened. I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep and have no recollection of what I ate (English muffin and peanut butter, banana, Starbucks Double Shots as is my tradition … maybe? Boring!). We set up T2 and trundled over to T1 in this point-to-point setup. I did a little 8 mile ride (nearly killing Henry when he took a fun left turn right in front of me as I was descending at 30 mph. Fucker), said howdy to a few people, but generally tried to keep calm and not freak that there were 3 former pros in attendance (my former coach, Liz Waterstraat, Jenny Parker Harrison, and Jennifer Garrison (two of whom are in my age group)).
Who am I kidding: I was TOTALLY freaking out.
Somewhat-unfortunately for me, I insisted I be put in the F35-39 wave for USAT accuracy (which the race organizers are a little soft on). That took me out of the wave with the F30-34ers, who would have been great to race against too. My new wave went second-to-last. More time to watch friends in previous waves and be proud of my teammates. In retrospect the lesson is, if you have a chance to be in an earlier wave (and against the presumed winner), take it.
Swim: my new roomie Stacey and former coach Liz and I all toed the line together, front and center. The two of them planned to stay on my feet…like as part of their race plans. I mean, talk about pressure! So basically I went balls out and tried to look for them over my shoulder at the first turn. They were a few yards behind me, but as I looked for them I ran into two big dudes from a previous wave and a kayak, all hiding on the other side of the buoy. I popped my head up and screamed “MOVE! MOVE!!!” Although I could bust between them myself, there were 30 pairs of arms and legs behind me, too. I swam hard but never found a good rythem thanks to having to swim over so many bodies stranded by their waves. I exited the water first in my wave with Stacey close behind. Thanks to a clumsy attempt at wetsuit-stripping efficiency on my part, Stacey entered T1 before me. I was on a different rack, though, so I never saw her again (apparently we passed again at the mount line).
Bike: haaaard! My grand experiment for this race, as a swimmer/biker, was to blow myself out and try to hold on for the run. This is a biker’s course, but the run is, as always, important too. As is the way with hilly courses (especially after a hypoxic swim like I had), I never quite caught my breath during this ride. I don’t train or race with a heart rate monitor, and that’s probably a good thing or I may have psyched myself out. I stayed aero almost the whole ride (unless I was climbing at <11mph, or about to crash into someone who had crashed on the trickiest descent on the course). All power data from my Power Tap is long gone by now, unfortunately. It would have been fun to look at.
Run?: This didn’t go well. I started out feeling pretty strong, but soon the sun and unfamiliar heat got to me. I couldn’t feel my quads after that ride. Or more accurately ALL I COULD FEEL WAS MY QUADS SCREAMING AT ME. LIKE THIS!! AAAAAGH!!! About a hundred yards outside of transition, you have to run down a giant hill, then up another. I let my legs really spin for free speed on the downhills, but going up the other side they flipped me the bird. To keep this unpleasant portion of my race report brief: I melted. Down. Luckily there was some great stranger who was running slower than I, but who kept chugging along while I took little (walking, shh) breaks. He encouraged me every time he passed, urging me to stay strong, complimenting my pace, and saying “there ya go!” every time I passed him back. All I could muster was a “nice!” whenever he came around me.
Eventually I got over myself and wanting to die and realized Liz Waterstraat was a hard-charging runner and would be coming for me any second. Sure enough, on a switchback about a mile from the finish, I saw her coming. I dug deep and kept running, knowing a pass so close to the finish would be hard for her and heartbreaking for me.
Settling: The finish line is a little like the first day back at elementary school. There are not only bananas cut in half and wax paper cups filled with bright liquid, but a lot of familiar faces and people you’ve lost touch with during the off-season. Lots of asking about summer plans, lots of “how ya been, how’d ya do?” stuff. I rehydrated and took a little walk with some teammates, then ran back to the after party. The waiting game is intense, eased with more fun conversation (and, in my case, a little Frisbee, and a handstand competition with an 8 year old). There was a lot of speculation among the 30-34-35-39 women under the Well-Fit tent as to who did what. I was told by agents doing recon (“WHAT WAS YOUR TIME?”) that I most likely got 4th overall, winning my age group, at least. Cool, hand me another beer now, please.
By awards time I was pretty well ruddy with sunburn and drink, and I gave up caring about results. They finally got to my age group and rattled off Stacey’s name… which meant… something… I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Liz won the age group. My name wasn’t called. They probably fucked up my timing thanks to switching waves. I decided to go for a jump in the Bounce House instead of caring. I handed out a few high-5s to people heading up for their awards. Then they called my name.
Swim (660 yards) 8:53
Bike (16.8 miles) 48:02:00
Run (4.3 miles) 32:20:00, pace 7:31
This was 8 seconds behind 2nd (my teammate, Erin), and another stellar competitor, Adrienne Shields, who crushed us all with her run.
Hand me another beer.
It’s been INSANE, kids: the last 7 weeks or so have been full of heady madness… and the same could be said of the last 7 months (at least). Follow me here, in roughly chronological order:
- My personal and coaching relationship with Hayes came to an end.
- I became homeless, but for the kindness of good, generous friends and teammates
- 2 friends announced their pregnancy (waiting for a third announcement any day now, as things happen in threes).
- I raced 3 events in 4 weeks, none of which I took lightly or wanted to use as a “training day.” (Galena Triathlon, Leon’s World’s Fastest Triathlon, Ironman Kansas 70.3)
- Work has taken me to new places (literally), and thankfully delivered me into the arms of good friends in Austin, TX, Madison, WI (my home away from home), and Virginia.
- 2 friends’ parents passed away (NOT waiting for a third tragedy here, thank you, Universe).
- I’m homeless again.
- I’ll hopefully be “settled” in a new home sometime this week.
- Heading to San Diego this coming weekend for family time.
- Heading back to Madison and to New Orleans for the first time for work….
CAN I SIT DOWN, NOW?
So for the purposes of keeping this blargh somewhat on-topic, I’m going to concentrate on the 3 races, with all the other ancillary stuff (which is NOT SMALL STUFF, mind you) in the margins. Here we go!
Sorry I’ve been MIA during what has turned out to be a gorgeous early spring here in the Midwest! Although I’ve always been one of those people who says “I could never live anywhere that doesn’t have all four seasons,” I have to say I now *get* the appeal of a non-existent (or at least curtailed) winter.
The great weather and resultant vitamin D-induced high has not only inspired a few dreams of running away to anywhere in the Southwest, but has:
- healed up my calf injury, and I’m happy to report that I’m back at running (within reason –I still have to be smart, which is HARD). I’ve been hitting the track and hill repeats, the transition runs, and some hour-ish whatever runs, and will be working on getting my long runs longer in anticipation of Kansas 70.3
- inspired me to get outside and not spend my weekends shackled to this laptop, which is how I spend most of my weekdays. So, sorry for the lack of BLARGH entries, here.
Watt I’ve been doing instead of Blarghing:
I’ve been rolling with an ever-changing crew of Well-Fit Elite and Development Teammates out in the suburbs for a 50-something mile ride once a weekend. This ride is honestly the highlight of my week: Chase tapes a $10 speaker and his iPod between his aerobars and bumps a really random mix of terrible songs the whole way. We dance and sing, and when “Jump Around” comes on, it’s time to bunny-hop and practice those bike handling skills…on your TT bike. AWESOME!
A few weeks ago I participated in the Barry-Roubaix Killer Gravel Road Race. I say “participated” instead of “raced” because I was COMPLETELY unprepared for the thing. This was my maybe-fourth time on my CX bike, definitely-first time riding it more than 9 miles, and virgin-run as far as, uh, gravel or the 2-mile stretches of deep sand and puddles. To everyone who said “with your power, it should be no problem,” I say EFF-U, it was a problem. However, after I let my ego get bruised within the first 5 miles, I had a really, really, really fun 30 left to enjoy. The best part (for me) was the last 4 miles on ACTUAL PAVEMENT (thank God), where I got to channel my inner Fabian Cancellara, drape my forearms over my bars, and TT my way home.
TT? Did someone say TT? Yup… To Be Continued in next post…!
I have the very good fortune of being able to train with a group on a regular basis. I’m a member of Well-Fit Triathlon and Training, a coaching service and training facility here in Chicago. We have an Elite Team (who doesn’t these days? But Well-Fit’s was one of the first!), comprised of good-hearted but crazy local athletes who push themselves and each other to the limits of physical and mental well-being. If you know what I mean…
(…I *mostly* mean we push each other to perform, and sometimes we drive each other insane.)
ANYWAY, in addition to seven months of Elite Team workouts, Well-Fit offers group workouts for “everyday heroes” that run all year: something like two swims a week, a Computrainer ride or three at the Training Center, and informal groups usually organize around runs on the lakefront or outlying forest preserves.
Personally and inexplicably, I avoided these workouts this fall. Instead, I convalesced for a few months after Ironman Wisconsin, trying to recover well, to preserve my sanity for what will be a long 2012 season, to enjoy my down time, and to become a “real human girl” again. You know, a girl with manageable hair and soft IT bands. Unfortunately, without any structure or group activities, I’ve just ended up nursing what turned out to be a pretty serious case of the Post-Iron Blues.*
*I hope that by capitalizing this condition I can help codify it. It’s a real phenomenon, people, trust me.
January 1, 2012, was my deadline to get the fuck over it, though: IT’S TRI SEASON, BITCHES!
I mean, not really. It’s actually tri-OUT-season now, but I need the motivation. Months of feeling emotionally and physically worthless coupled with impending Chicago winter-induced cabin fever means time to buck the fuck up, be social, and get some endorphins flowing again.
Overall, it’s great to be back in the saddle again. –I’m spending a lot of time literally “in the saddle” because I’m nursing a calf boo-boo that hasn’t let me run much in the last month.– Before specific training starts and people split off for random races each weekend, getting together to get our sweat on has been just what the doctor ordered. At this point in the season, I don’t care what my training plan calls for or if the planned group workouts are properly periodized *for me.* If I need to modify something, I do. If I need to swap workouts between days to accommodate the group schedule, I have been. It’s worth it. I value my team, my coach(es), and my training partners. I love accomplishing something every day (even if it’s *just* recovery, yoga, or surviving Sharone’s “treatment” of my calf) and giving others who do the same high-fives.
My new normal is getting up before dawn, something unthinkable for me as recently as 2009.
2010 was my first year on the team. I spent a lot of that season felling slow and fat, comparatively. I didn’t go to a lot of the workouts because I was afraid I couldn’t rise to my teammates’ levels. I thought I would drag everyone down. I didn’t get that I was only hurting myself. My season and disposition suffered accordingly.
2011, I got over it (mostly).
2012, all I have to say –to myself and others who may feel the way I did– is QUITCHERBITCHIN’. Show up with a smile on your face and ready to work. I hope everyone at Well-Fit knows how lucky we are to have each other, and how much I’m looking forward to this season.