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In Which Preparing For Fitbloggin’ Saves Me September 11, 2012

ImageFitbloggin’ 2012 is just ten days away and the Twitter/blogosphere is really starting to buzz with excitement. I’m excited too – to reunite with friends, to meet and connect with new people, and to just be in the wonderful atmosphere that is Fitbloggin.

But I’ve had some trepidation. I’m not at all in the same place that I was at Fitbloggin’ 2011. In May of 2011 I was actively blogging – many times a week – and was really feeling great both fitness and blogwise.

This time – not so much. It’s been a struggle to keep up with regular blogging. I feel like every time I sit down to write, I’m apologizing about not writing enough. This year has meant a lot of job transition, which means I rarely feel “caught up” enough to blog. I’m often staying up until 11:00pm just trying to get a grip on my job’s paperwork. Only recently have I just started to feel like I might be getting the hang of things, and maybe, just maybe, I can complete my work during, you know, regular work hours.

Now that Fitbloggin’ is just around the corner (how did that happen?!?) it’s forced/allowed me to really think about what’s been going on this past year. There is a phrase that floats around the blogosphere: if a fitness blogger stops blogging, it probably means they’ve fallen off some wagon or another.

That’s both true and not true. It is, as they say, complicated.

A year ago, I was high about Fitbloggin’ and the fitness world. I was preparing to get certified as a Personal Trainer with a specialty in Corrective Exercise. I was studying, I was really into it. I was planning to start my own business in personal and group fitness, awareness, body image and food. I was going to call it (get this!) FoodFoodBodyBody. I took several seminars in Small Business ownership. I set up a business account. I joined a network of women working in health and wellness. I was so pumped!

And then what happened?!

About that time I signed up for my first triathlon training. And while that event was one of the most arduous-yet-meaningful experiences, one of the greatest challenges and accomplishments ever, I think it was the beginning of my unraveling. I thought I was going to turn into a lean, mean triathlete machine, but instead I ended up putting on weight. And no, it wasn’t “all muscle.” During the training I had to wrestle with a lot of person demons. I was afraid of my bicycle. I had panic attacks when I tried to swim in open water. I was always the Very Last Person during our training workouts, and slowly this began to wear at my self-confidence. And as I spent weeks training, I got more anxious and nervous. I started doing a lot more comfort eating. I tried to justify it by telling myself I was working out a lot more, but the fact was I was self-soothing because I was so damn scared.

During that time, when my self-doubt was peaking, I started doubting my business plan. I was thinking, who the hell am *I* to tell anyone else what to do in terms of fitness or healthy eating? So I started backing away from that. I started building all sorts of roadblocks to actually accomplishing that goal which had once excited me so much.

I finished the triathlon. Or, I sort of finished it. I felt good but I also felt crappy. I couldn’t help feeling like I had cheated somehow. So what did I do? I signed up for the Hike Team – during which I injured myself – and then I signed up to do ANOTHER triathlon. I know. What was I thinking? I wanted a do-over. I wanted to Get It Right that time. But because of my injury, and my frazzled self-confidence, that one didn’t work out the way I had planned either. I dropped out of the Maui (Olympic) Tri and instead did the Wildflower Mountain Bike (aka Sprint) Tri. Which was on one hand an accomplishment, but again, it didn’t solve the problem of Getting It Right.

During all of this, I look back now and I see what my worse mistake was: I stopped blogging.

I hid.

I think if I had openly chronicled (I mean really chronicled) all of the self-doubt, all of the decisions, the comfort eating, the freakouts, I think it would have taken care of itself. I mean, that’s the lesson of this blog. Being honest and out there kept me healthy for over two years. But hiding away almost threatened to put me back where I started.

Also during the last year, my beloved endocrinologist left the group practice. I was devastated. I felt abandoned, and I acted out. (in a way that could really only hurt myself) I stopped tracking my blood glucose, stopped eating so carefully, and never made an appointment (until last week) with a new doctor. I was pouting. I was really sad about this. But of course that didn’t help the course of things.

I’ve been rewriting/rehearsing/freaking out about my performance at Fitbloggin’. It will bear some resemblance – but only about 50% – to last year’s show. There’s a lot more I’ve gotta say/show/express. I’m hecka nervous about it. But also excited. Because the stakes feel greater somehow. I’m not just doing a show about how Totally Awesome my “journey” has been – but also this time – how kind of un-awesome and humbling and HARD it’s been.

But the very act of being honest is, I think, (or, I KNOW) – where the good stuff is. I’m relieved and happy to be getting back to basics. Which for me isn’t so much about working out in any particular way, or counting calories. It’s about being Real.

 

Do Race Results Matter? June 5, 2012

Today I saw the official race results for the See Jane Run 5k I did this weekend. They made me happy.  Overall, I came in #681 out of 1,475 runners in the 5k. That was in the top 50%!

I mentioned this to the family and stated that it felt better than my results for Wildflower, where I came in 776 out of 786. That’s right, I was tenth from dead last. While people can say all they want that I was miles or millions ahead of all the people who didn’t do a triathlon at all – still, it feels psychologically different. I know I’ll never WIN a race, and part of me certainly does believe that “finishing is winning” – but damn, I don’t really ever want to come in last. And I don’t like being that close to last, either. I like feeling like I am in the middle of the pack, and if I am just a smidge toward the front, then all the better.

These things are all so silly and arbitrary but at the same time, they DO mean something. Otherwise people wouldn’t be so hot to see their results, and they wouldn’t use computer chips and all kinds of fancy technology to track it all. It does matter to someone. It matters to me.

During (and after) I ran this “little” 5k on Sunday, I felt strong. I felt capable. I felt proud of myself. When I’m struggling with all my might and I’m so close to the end of the pack, it’s just that… a struggle. I have to talk myself into feeling proud. I’m physically beat and NOT feeling strong.

This weekend I vowed to mostly participate in races where I can have that strong feeling. Which means not getting in over my head, or going in undertrained or unprepared. I think it just does more harm than good. I really wish I could do See Jane Tri in September, but darn it, I just found out it’s the same weekend as Fitbloggin, which I can’t miss for anything. So.. maybe another time. And maybe another tri.

What do you think? Does it matter to you what your results are when you run a race, or are you truly just in it for fun? Do you even LOOK at your results?

 

My Left Foot November 1, 2011

Yup, that's EXACTLY where it hurts!

I can’t believe it. Just as I was feeling SO AWESOME about the open water swim yesterday, I had to turn my attention to my left foot which has been getting progressively more painful over the last week. Today when I woke up it was really swollen and tender. Oh MAN!

I went to my podiatrist (who is a century cyclist himself) and he promptly diagnosed me with Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis. First thing he asked me was, “Where are your orthotics?”

Um. In the back of my closet?? (redfaced)

See, I got these new shoes, and I was just too lazy to cut out the inserts to accommodate the orthotics, and my feet weren’t bothering me so much like they used to, and my ankle felt pretty much all better, so I just… umm… haven’t been using them.

(hanging head in shame)

So now I have a roaring case of Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis. He said that “normally” he would recommend no running or biking or any sort of weight bearing for a few weeks. But then he gave this wry smile and said, “I could say that, but I know what you’re gonna do.” (he knows me)

I mean really. I mean REALLY DUDE. This is my first triathlon that has been eating up major gallons of my blood, sweat and tears for MONTHS and it’s five days away and I’m gonna…

No.

I mean, just no.

I’m going to do my best to take really, really good care of it this week. As per doctor’s advice, I am icing the heck out of it, elevating it, taking high dose anti-inflammatories, taping it up and using my orthotics religiously. And trying to stay off the feet.

I am hoping that if I treat my foot like glass all week, then it will be able to manage the swim (no problem), the bike ride (a little more of a problem) and a modified walk-run (mostly walk) on Sunday. And then REALLY take it easy before I run again. I will go back to my trainer and work on my upper body! I will! I will! Just let this thing heal up by Sunday. Please.

 

Gentle, Kind… Victory! October 30, 2011

Keller Beach: all photo credits to Katherine Mapes-Resnik

Today was really an amazing day on so many levels. It really felt like my Last Chance. Yesterday at the bike-run workout, our Coach said, “It’s really important that you get in a mile swim in open water before the race.” I knew that was true. I have biked the distance, I’ve run the distance, but until today I had not swum (in open water) anywhere near the race distance. I needed to know I could do it.

So today a bunch of us gathered out at Keller Beach, which is pretty much right across the Bay from where we will be swimming next week. It’s the same water!

First of all, I was happy to note that I was calm and happy on my drive over to the beach. Unlike my drive over to Lake Temescal on Friday. I knew I had that positive experience in me, and I was ready to build on it. I made a bunch of pumpkin bars to celebrate a great swim with my teammates.

When we got out there, we mapped out the course. We figured that a round trip to this jutting-out-point and back was about 800 yards or half a mile(ish). So to do it twice, two round trips would be a little bit over a mile. There were already some families picnicking on the beach and some playing in the water, I noticed, without wetsuits!

We got in and that rush of COOOLD water when you open up the neck of the wetsuit – I shrieked. Mostly I noticed my feet were really cold and I regretted forgetting my new swim booties at home. We bobbed around and got used to the temperature. I took note that we would have one person on a standup paddleboard but no kayaks. Which I think was actually a good thing.

Annika, my mentor, who has swum right next to me for all of my panic-swims, asked if I wanted a buddy. I said I was going to try and just go with the group. She said I could just wave my arm if I was in trouble. I prayed that this would not be necessary. Somebody made a fake horn sound with their mouth and we started off.

What can I say? It just felt different this time. Right away I stretched out my arms as far as I could, and I swam with the “gentle” exhale and “kind” inhale like last time. (Again, huuuuuuuuuge shout-out to Annelise who suggested this to me via Twitter) It just calmed me. I also employed the roll-and-breathe method where I pretty much rolled on my side and put my face up to breathe. Which gave me more breathing time and also kept me going in the right direction. I just kept going. I’d say on a scale of 1 to 10, I got about level “3″ tired. I never floated on my back to rest. I never did the heads-up freestyle. I just kept swimming.

When we were about to the turnaround point, my right ear was reallllly hurting from all the cold water. I’d forgotten to put in my ear plugs and I thought, I’ll just go to shore. I’ll stop. I’ll just do one lap. And so on. It was a familiar litany of “you can’t make it the whole way, just stop.” But then when we got out to the point, another voice said, “that was 1/4 the way. not bad.”

It just felt like fun. My teammates were all around me and every once in a while I’d bob around and check in with them. At one point I saw what looked like someone in a black swim cap, and then I was like… “Um, what’s that black thing?” It was a harbor seal, coming to check us out! I had a little flutter of nerves over that but my teammates reassured me that nothing bad would happen and he was just being friendly.

our little swimming companion

We returned back to where we started and Monica asked me if I wanted to go again. A bunch of people had headed in at that point. I said yes. I knew I could’ve said I was done, and she would’ve said it was okay. But I reallllllllly felt like I needed to get that mile done, for my own mind’s sake. I wasn’t tired. I knew I could do it.

So we did the 2nd loop and it was just… man, I can’t describe it. It was calm, and relaxing. Swimming without having a panic attack is kind of like… walking. It was just that easy.  I kept my “gentle-kind” mantra going, and I noticed that when I put my face in the water, it was this pretty green color, and when I put my face up, it was blue sky. Green-blue-green-blue. It was all very… relaxing. When we got out to the point the second time, Monica said, “You just look so peaceful!” which made me really happy.  We turned around and went back to shore. It was like.. nothing. It was fine. I could’ve gone further.

When I got back to where I could touch down, I was so happy. I felt like Rocky. I wanted to cry I was so happy. Instead I went to hand out pumpkin bars and the box was full of ants!! It didn’t faze most people (“hey! more protein!”) but we managed to shake them off most of them and pass them around.

I was just kind of walking around the beach in disbelief. Even if we don’t actually do a triathlon next week, this swim felt like such a major victory. Man, it hasn’t been easy. But it’s taken time, and going back again and again again. Learning about myself, learning some tools. I am so grateful to Michelle and to my amazing teammates and mentors and coaches and FRIENDS and family who have believed in me these past months. My own belief has dipped down to incredibly low levels, especially recently. I really wasn’t sure I was going to make it, last week.

GO TEAM!

But now I am happy and I feel ready. All I need to do this week is take care of my foot (funny ankle/foot injury that popped up last week) and rest and do some taper workouts and get ready. I’m not dreading next Sunday anymore. I am EXCITED.

 

I’d Like to Schedule an Open Water Lobotomy, Please October 22, 2011

Today I did another mini triathlon although it wasn’t my original intent really. My intent had been to get another open water swim in, this one organized by a private group called TriMoreFitness. It was taking place at the actual Marin Triathlon swim course and after last week, I felt like I really need to get back in there and also have another go at open water.

I was feeling so prepared. I’d gone to see the sports psychologist and we’d had a fabulous and what felt like very helpful session. Last night I swam a mile in the pool and felt so incredibly relaxed and happy the whole time. I felt like I was doing everything possible to make this go right.

Sigh.

I admit, it went “righter” in many ways than last time. But still it was not what I had hoped.

This is the course. I know it’s sort of hard to visualize, but this is what we did.

So we started at the point marked “Olympic Swim Start.” First we got in and got our faces wet and practiced floating on our backs for a while. That was pretty relaxing. I checked in with myself. So far so good. The first kayak paddled out  about even with the end of the pier. Man, it looked tiny and far. (first flutter of anxiety as I noticed this) Then it was time to go. I tried to really focus on going SLOW (the coach instructed us to go what felt like “embarassingly slow” and I was glad to comply). I think I was about half way to the pier when my brain kicked in with, “I need a rest.” I flipped over on my back. Already? This was kind of annoying. But whatever. I breathed. When I turned over I noticed the huge and growing gap between me and the vast majority of swimmers. There was one guy behind me with the other kayak I think.

I kept going. It was sort of swim, rest, swim, rest until I got to the pier. I was happy to get there. But then I noticed this weird… “What the heck?” feeling. I was caught in a fishing line. For a second I felt like a fish. It was like walking into a spiderweb (ack! no! What is that??) but stronger. I was really hoping there was no fish on the other end of it.

So, that rattled me. The coach came by on his standup paddleboard and kind of guided me off and away from the pier. He was reassuring. I set my sights on the first buoy beyond the pier (there were 3 total, and after the third we were to sort of make a sharp U-turn to shore).  But by then my breathing was all messed up. I’d swim like two strokes then my body would almost involuntarily flip over, like, HELL NO this isn’t working.

My sighing was also messed up and I realized I was relying on the coach to kind of point the way. Which he did. But then he started talking to me and gesturing and I couldn’t really hear him because I had earplugs in. It seemed important (and potentially lifesaving). So I wrestled one earplug out and tossed it in the water. (sorry for the litter) He was saying something about swimming with one arm. At this point my brain was kind of scrambled. Like seriously scrambled. I had no idea what this meant even though he was gesturing. He could have been speaking Swahili. I tried the one-arm thing and then he said “Face down!” and I was like, “Ohhhhhhhh man I am just screwing up right and left!” I know he was really trying to help me get more relaxed and save energy and all that but I was seriously stressing at this point.

That’s when the wheezy, death-rattle breathing started up. Oh GREAT. I was talking myself the entire time, saying my “You’ve got this!” mantra. But at this point another voice came up, somewhere around my strangled lungs, and responded, “I don’t believe you!” So that’s what was going on. Some crazy Gollum/Smeagal death match in the Bay.

I didn’t know what to do other than just roll over and try and get my composure. But I remembered last week the instruction to “Just keep moving” so I was fluttering my feet and arms like snow/water angel formation. The coach was like, “STAY STILL!” because he wanted me to conserve oxygen and get a grip. But I was now confused as well as freaked out. I heard him say the work “kayak” and that was it.

Suddenly I wanted that kayak and I wanted it BAD. So the kayaker came over and she was very kind and patient and I grabbed the rope thing. I had really, really, reallllllllllllllllllllly wanted to complete this swim without kayak aid. But here we were. She began paddling toward shore and I kicked and she pulled me a long for a while (I have no idea. 50 yards? 100?) until I realized I could breathe. I made some conversation. I said, ‘Oh man, what if this happens to me during the event?” And she said, “No problem, you just go to shore and go do your bike and run.” And I was like, WHAT? Even if If don’t go all the way around the 3rd buoy? And she insisted no, “the swim can be whatever length you can do” and I was like, “Huh!” This was a glimmer of hope and possibility. I swam alongside the kayak and for a little while it felt almost as good as in the pool. I got back to shore.

I think I swam out to the 2nd buoy, which was about halfway between the pier and the turnaround buoy. Which was about 3/4 of the way, more or less. Maybe 2/3. Better than last weekend’s halfway.

So. The good thing about today’s swim is that I went farther. I only hung on the kayak once, as opposed to like half a dozen times.

The bad things were getting tangled in fishing line, getting freaked out by not hearing/understand the coach’s instructions, and the Bad Phase in which I had dueling voices in my head and could only swim two strokes at a time.

I was not the last person out of the water because most of the people did their complete swim, ie around the 3rd buoy. Which would naturally take longer.

After the swim, Lily and I had a rather leisurely transition onto our bikes (which had been locked in my car) and we did one loop of the bike course. My chain slipped off two times. (Lily helped the first time and the 2nd time I put it back on myself, yay for that) I was more tired on this bike ride than any of the other three times I’d done it. I realized I hadn’t really had anything to drink or eat after the swim, and I didn’t drink while on the bike either. (I better get used to that Camelbak) I was pooped. After I got back down we hustled into our running shoes and went up to the run course.

Both of us realized pretty soon that we really, really needed to pee. Which is a not-good feeling when trying to run. It’s almost like having an injury. At the very least it’s extremely distracting. So a lot more walking than usual went on.

That was our mini triathlon of this weekend. I keep telling myself the ways in which it’s going to be better on Race Day for a variety of reasons.

Right now I am really kind of looking forward to completing this season. I’m disappointed that my mental training did not yield a calmer swim than what I had. But I’m glad that I accomplished what I did today and I’m going to move forward. No crying today or tomorrow.

 

Back in the Saddle/Water September 19, 2011

I knew that if I didn’t do something FAST to counteract the terror of yesterday that I was going to be in deep trouble. So today I made a plan to swim at Lake Temescal with Lily and my bike friend Mary. It turned out to be a really hot day out so even though we brought our wetsuits we knew we would be broiling, no matter how cold the water.

You can click on the lake picture above to see how it’s set up. There’s the shallow part, which goes to the orange  floaters. Then it drops off and gets really deep (“really” = anything over my head). There’s a lane line where people can do laps way out yonder. That looked kind of nifty from the parking lot.

But my objective today was to get comfortable swimming again. It was to avoid having a panic attack at all costs. So basically what we ended up doing was lots of laps back and forth on the “deeper” side of the orange floaters. It was mostly over my head, but I knew that all I had to do was splash over that rope and I’d be standing up again. Which I really psychologically needed.

The first length was kind of a shocker, it was pretty cold and I could feel my heart racing. But it wasn’t HAMMERING. And I wasn’t having an all out panic. I was tired, and sort of out of breath when I got to the end, but I wasn’t like dying. I did a bunch of laps back and forth and each time it got a little better. The last few times, we did two lengths (back and forth) without stopping. That felt just fine.

I’m feel like I’m taking little baby steps (strokes?). I am back at square one. I’m going to have to build from here. But I  accomplished my goal for today, which was to find my way back to some sort of comfort zone. Next time, we push it just a few feet more. Then a little more. Baby steps.

it's good to have buddies.

 

Open Water September 18, 2011

I was actually really excited about the open water swim yesterday. The drive out to Del Valle Lake in Livermore was incredibly beautiful and I wasn’t feeling too nervous. We had had a good pool swim on Tuesday where I’d done about 2000 yards and felt relaxed – slow, but relaxed.

First we had a little clinic about open water swimming- how to “sight” (ie see where you’re going) without the comfort of lane lines in a pool. Then they passed out our wetsuits – very exciting! Wooo!

We got a demonstration on how to put on BodyGlide and how to turn it inside out and put it on “like pantyhose.” Then we were shown how to do the “wetsuit wedgie” – when someone else picks you up to jam the wetsuit completely into your crotch. Pretty funny.

AJ demos the pantyhose technique

Then it was our turn! Here’s Matt giving me my wedgie. Wheeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!

We felt pretty stoked with our new wetsuits.

Finally, we went down to the lake. The mud at the edge was SUPER DISGUSTING feeling but soon we waded in up to our waists and dived in and opened up our neck holes to get water into the suits (this is to form an insulating layer to keep us warm). I didn’t think that the water was too cold, actually.

Here they are instructing us to pee in our wetsuits to warm up. Nice!

Our first drill was to swim out about 25 yards (a pool length) to coach Stephanie in her kayak, then swim back to shore. I took off and the first several strokes felt just fine. I noticed right away that there was NOTHING TO SEE underwater – ie, it was just a bunch of murk. Just bubbles from exhaling. Okay. I think maybe I was about halfway to the kayak when I realized I was panting. Oh man, I have to rest already? I rolled onto my back and tried to breathe some. I made it around the kayak and got back, but I was SUPER out of breath and it didn’t feel good. I thought, “Man, what was that? Am I getting asthma or something?” The feeling in my chest was just tight.

I'm in the aqua cap

Second trip around the kayak went much better. I felt relaxed, but the memory of the first trip had kind of spooked me. They had asked us at first, “Who wants a buddy swimmer” and silly me didn’t raise my hand. But when we got set to do our first long swim (1/4 mile back and forth to a buoy) I was like… um, yes please! So my mentor Annika said she’d swim with me.

Things were going pretty well for about the first half. Then I heard Annika say, “Susan, turn to your left a little.” I popped my head up and saw that I was bearing really hard to the right, and I had drifted way away from everyone else (who was also way ahead of me, not to mention way to the left). I think that was it. My chest just seized up instantly. I couldn’t breathe. I turned on my back and tried to breathe but I was hyperventilating. Coach Haakon came over and he and Annika literally held me up, horizontally, like a little baby, while I struggled to regain my composure. It felt like forever. Finally they asked if I could manage to do sidestroke. I tried. I did sidestroke for a little while and then I felt like my lungs attacked me again. I sort of flipped out. “I…. can’t…. BREATHE!” I flailed around for a bit and then coach Stephanie showed up with the kayak and I pretty much lunged for it. I held on for dear life and panted and panted. I felt like there was a giant steel vice around my chest and it wasn’t letting me breathe. Stephanie asked if I wanted her to pull me in. I felt very, very defeated but I said, “Yes please.” I felt like there wasn’t any choice. I think we were very near the buoy at that point, but I’m not sure.

We got about halfway back and all of a sudden I realized I was breathing normally. I wanted to swim again. I said, “I think I can try again.” I got back to doing freestyle and it felt pretty good. I thought, at least I can redeem myself by swimming back half the way. It felt decent. Then I was almost, almost, almost there – I mean SO CLOSE and Bam! it hit me again. I was so close. I think what happened is I thought I could touch bottom and then when I tried and couldn’t, the Thing happened again. Shit! Another coach AJ asked, “Are you okay?” and I said, “No! NO!” and he grabbed my arm and dragged me like five feet to where I could stand. Annika asked if I needed to sit down but really I just needed to stand there and breathe. I was devastated. My breath sounded like a death rattle. My lungs were, I don’t know how to describe it. They felt like they were made of wood. It felt like an asthma attack. Was I having an asthma attack? I just couldn’t breathe. The coaches asked if I had an inhaler or I’d taken my medication. I haven’t actually HAD asthma in probably ten years so I don’t have an inhaler, no.

We got out of the water and out of our wetsuits and changed into running gear. That’s when I heard we were running 4-6 miles. I was like, oh BOY. Most of our post-bike or post-swim runs have been really short, like 20 minutes or 2 miles. This was a definite change.

We headed up to the trail for the run. Coach Joan told us it “wasn’t flat.” Um, true story. I decided I would do a 5/1 run/walk ratio. It was going okay at first. My feet were pretty achey but I know from experience that that goes away after the first mile or so; I was just going to have to run through it. I knew that I had about 3-4 people behind me and something about that made me feel like I had some company at my pace. The deal was we were supposed to run to the 2 mile marker, run back, then run to the 1 mile marker and back for a total of 6.

There was a killer hill in there right before the 2 mile mark that I just had to trudge up. Again I was feeling that panting feeling, like I couldn’t catch my breath. I didn’t like that very much. But I got to the 2 mile turnaround and realized the people behind me weren’t there anymore. They must have turned around earlier so that meant I was truly the last one out there. Coach Mark showed up to see if I was still alive (ha!) and jogged around with me a little bit. He nudged me up a couple of hills. Then my breathing started acting up again. I wanted to cry. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get my lungs to fully open up. I kept wanting him to go ahead of me and leave me in my misery so I could walk and cry.

Finally at the one mile marker he seemed satisfied I could make my way back so he took off. That’s when I pretty much hit my psychological wall. I was walking. I was walking really slow and the most incredible onslaught of thoughts just ran through my head. I knew there was no way I was going to go back out for the 6 miles. Four was going to have to be it. I thought about the swim and how terrifying and upsetting it had been. I thought about the really sucky bike ride I’d had on Friday and how I still couldn’t manage to deal with this little bridge on the trail near my house, and how I almost fell down twice. Almost.

By the time I made it back to the rest of the group, I was emotionally wrung out. It was HOT and I went over to sit under a tree a little ways away. I sat on a curb and cried for about twenty minutes. I knew that if anybody came and talked to me I was going to get truly hysterical so I kept my distance. Then I went and got my car. I have never felt so discouraged. I really felt like it was over.

Lily was a total rockstar yesterday. She did two entire loops around the buoy (1/2 mile!) and the whole 6 miles. I am so proud of her. We talked on the way home and she was her wonderful supportive self.

Look who got the Golden Hat of glory this week!

I’m not ready to give up. I’m going to give it another go, hopefully soon. But man, that was scary. I have to have some success and soon or else this little dream of mine is going to deflate fast. My friend Mary challenged me to a pretty daunting bike ride this afternoon but I know that’s not in the cards. I need to feel some success, some ease, some sense of possibility.

 

The Manatee Gets Swim Lessons September 13, 2011

So I just got my swimming analysis video from the Team in Training folks. WOW. Eight minutes of slow-mo, extreeeeeeeemely detailed analysis of my every move, from both above and below the water! My initial reactions are: wow, this is some excellent feedback. So much more than I was expecting. And two: holy moly, I look like a manatee underwater. :-(

But the real reason I posted this was just the amazing level of attention and support we are getting from our coaches. Isn’t this pretty phenomenal?? I also got to look at the videos of my teammates and really learned some great stuff from that – like what is it SUPPOSED to look like. Impressive!

 

In Which I Biked On Hills, In Traffic, Without a Bike Lane, With Huge Wind and Hairpin Turns! September 11, 2011

me and Tree

Yesterday was really special. I got to get together with my beloved workout buddy from my 2000 TNT marathon training. Back in the day, she and I were stuck together  like peanut butter and jelly. Treeeeeeeee! I just love her. I hadn’t seen her in like seven years  but something about being back in the TNT mode just made me miss her so much. So yesterday  we got together and tried to smush 7 years of conversation into about 90 minutes. It made me realize that even though I like being on the team, I need my One Person. Y’all know who that is for this time, because I don’t go anywhere without her!

Here’s me and Lily working out on our weekend vacation last week. (“triathlon means bike, run, and… hot tub, right?”) ANyway, it was awesome to have this little mini reunion from my BFF from TNT ’00.

I wasn't ACTUally drinking wine while training. I swear!

Today, many of our mentors headed down to participate in the Pacific Grove Triathlon (where they rocked it! Go team!!!!!!!!!!!!) so we had a smaller group do a “captains’ workout” of a bike and run.

Yesterday I prevailed upon my every kind and generous friend Mary to help me fix my flat tire. She was working at Weight Watchers all afternoon so I hauled the whole shebang over to the center and we got down and greasy in between people walking in to get weighed. I have to admit, after doing this process now for the 2nd time I’m probably more intimidated than ever. It involves so many intricate moves and decisions. Right away I jammed my finger in between the frame and the tire and I don’t know what I did but it is all bruised and swollen. (note: if you’re doing bike sports, don’t EVER EVER get a manicure because it is so not worth it. It will go to hell in about an hour) Even after the tire clinic, and watching the Youtube video half a dozen times, I still feel like if this ever happened to me, like in the middle of an event, (please NO) I would just sit on the curb and cry and wait for the SAG vehicle to come pick me up. (SAG = Support and… Grapefruit? Gummy bears? Giggles?)

Anyway, I got the new tube in my tire and got pumped up and I was all ready for this ride today. Again, I was sort of dreading it. OK, not sort of. I was really dreading it. I feel like every bike ride has had some new unknown bad thing I hadn’t even dreamed of before. So what was in store today? I had no idea what the course was like or how long or if there were hills or anything.

We met up at Blackie’s Pasture in Tiburon. From the chatter in the parking lot, I just picked up on random words like, “narrow, treacherous, rollers (rolling hills).” Uh HUH. Okay. I just love that word “treacherous.” NOT.

But what choice did I have? I clipped into my pedals (go me!) and we took off. At first we were on this bike trail (sort of nice, but also sort of an obstacle course around little kids with training wheels, strollers, runners and dogs) but pretty soon we were on a Real Road (stomach churning) with some semblance of an actual bike trail (OK nice!). That was good for a while. It was flat but there were also more cars than I really like to be around. Then we headed into some other area where there was: 1) no more bike trail; 2)fewer cars; 3) MORE HILLS, 4) hairpin turns, and 5) Wind! So windy! Like a few people almost got blown over it was so crazy windy. What was THAT.

The first big hill damn near killed me. I actually had to stop about 3/4 way to the top because I was panting and hyperventilating so hard and getting That Pukey Feeling. It was kind of ridiculous how short of breath I was. The sweep person stopped and hung out with me and said that maybe I was on too much of an easy gear and spinning my wheels (hahah) too much. So I took off again.

I swear, this road is exactly the kind of road that would turn Mr. McBody’s hair white if it wasn’t already. It is the kind of road we drove on to go out to the beach last weekend (ie DEATH TRAP) where we were cursing the cyclists at every blind turn. But it was different, and I mean way different doing it on a bicycle. For one thing, there’s not much I can do. I can stay as close to the edge of the road as I humanly can. Other than that, I’m just focusing on getting up the damn hill or getting around the hairpin turn or not flying out of control on the downhill. I am focused on the BIKE.

It is much, much harder and more annoying to be a car driver on a road than it is to be a cyclist. I pretty much seethe at all the bicycles who have the potential to ruin my life forever when I end up KILLING someone. But when you’re the one on the bicycle, there’s really no energy for being afraid. It’s the car’s job to stay away from you. They had these huge banners on the street poles that said, “Spandex is not armor.” Tell me about it.

That said, there are certain manners that I think most cyclists do not adhere to. Like there’s this thing on narrow, twisty, hilly windy roads called PULLOUTS. They are designed for slow vehicles (slow cars as well as two wheeled vehicles) to PULL OUT INTO when there is someone on your tail who would like to go ahead. We never, ever EVER witnessed a bicycle using a pullout on Highway 1. They just act like they own the place.

But I pulled out. I pulled out plenty today and I felt like in doing so I was being polite to cars, AND I was potentially saving my life.  And I noticed that the faces of the drivers passing me looked infinitely more upset/distraught/annoyed than I felt.

I couldn’t believe that I was actually riding a bicycle with my shoes clipped to the pedals, and I was going up and down hills and around crazy sharp turns on a narrow road with no bike lane and cars going past about six inches away. I managed to do the whole 90 minute ride and was feeling very “OMG I did that!” when I rode into the parking lot, all proud of myself and then promptly fell over. Right in front of my car. Niiiiiiiice!

After I got semi cleaned up I put on running shoes for our little (20 minute) run. Again, my feet and calves felt like absolute concrete. It was torture. I felt like I was about 90 years old and just shuffling, one foot in front of the other. And a few times I had to actually slow even more to a hobble (ie walk), it was so ridiculous. Only when I was close to being finished (about a mile plus) did my feet and legs start feeling like I might be able to run anywhere. So. Note to self: don’t freak if you can’t run. Hopefully this will come at around mile 2 or so.

So in spite of the embarrassing owie at the end, I feel insanely proud (and kind of shocked) at the ride I did today. It’s not something I could have even imagined a week ago. Or yesterday.

Next week: Wetsuit distribution! OPEN WATER SWIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Resistance September 8, 2011

Resist by Stefano Pizzetti
Resist, a photo by Stefano Pizzetti on Flickr.

This triathlon training is teaching me so much about myself. Recently I’ve been learning about resistance. Yesterday was supposed to be a swim day. I was sort of planning to sandwich the swim in between work and this dinner party I really wanted to go to. But I got out of work late. I was tired (what else is new?). It was Juniorette’s first day back at crew practice and I knew she would really appreciate a good hearty dinner when she came home. So after work I went grocery shopping, went home and made chili and cornbread (one of her favorites). By that time it was after 7pm. Lily had just texted me saying she was sick and couldn’t make the workout.

Part of me was so, so, so tempted to just say “Oh, nevermind!” and just skip the workout and go straight to the party. Wouldn’t that have been nice? No. I would have felt maybe like I’d gotten away with something. But I would have also felt bad about myself.

I decided to go to the pool and do my workout. Again, I thought that 1) since Lily wasn’t there to push me, and 2) nobody was looking and 3) I wanted to get that party, I would do the shorter Sprint/Developing workout instead of the longer more challenging Fitness level workout. I studied them both pretty hard. The S/D was 1200 yards total, and the Fitness was 2300.

I was in a cranky mood already because I’d of the aforementioned long day, the lack of swim partner, missing the party and LOSING the 4th set of goggles I’ve had since the season began. Jeebus. What is wrong with me? I lose goggles like I lose hairs out of my head. I went to the gym’s front desk and bought the best pair of goggles they have, which are sufficient for keeping out water but also keep me blind as a bat. I need the goggles with the lens correction in them, or I’m hopeless.

I did find a pair of silicon earplugs in my purse, and decided to try them for the first time. This turned out to be a good thing. I liked that kind of insulated feeling, AND of course they did the trick of keeping water out of my ears. Recently I’ve been getting a lot of water in my ears and it HURTS. And is irritating.

Anyway, I got going and after the 12 lengths of warmup I pretty much decided I was going to go for the Fitness workout. I talked to myself underwater. I mean, who was I cheating if I skipped a workout or did the easy short one? ME. And what is my goal here exactly? My goal is to enjoy this triathlon if possible (of whatever length), to not drown or suffer too much during the swim portion of it. (or any portion) So in order to meet that goal it behooves me to do the best I can. As I say to my PT clients every day, “Give it your Safe Maximal Effort.” (ie do the best you possibly can without hurting yourself)

I did the Fitness workout. It took a little over an hour. I took the 10 second rests where dictated. But toward the end there was a 500 yard set, ie 20 lengths without stopping. I didn’t churn it out, but I kept it steady. I wasn’t going at a snail pace. I remember doing a 400 a few weeks ago that almost made me pass out. I do think I am getting stronger. Later I discovered that a mile is 1750 yards. So I did MORE than a mile, albeit with some rests. It felt just fine.

I went home, made some nice Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies (throw in pan, dry hair while they bake, then GO) and went to the party. It was more of a meeting than a party, of very fine Solo Performance minds, and people were taking notes and talking a mile a minute about the recent NY Fringe Festival. It was very stimulating and I was glad I’d gone.

Fast forward to today. Another long day at work. Went out to do hill repeats after 8:45. I was in a terrible, horrible mood! Feeling resistant again! Realizing how very hard it is to do these workouts when I already feel spent from working all day. Especially the days that end at 8:00pm. But I went out there, and I pushed myself up the hill 7x (Developing level tonight!) and done.

All I can say is, if I did not have this training to be accountable to, there is NO WAY IN THE UNIVERSE I would be doing these workouts. No way. So I am so thankful to this training for getting me out there, even when I realllllllllllllly don’t feel like it.

 

 
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