eat, move, think, feel


August 2011


Yesterday was a huge day in tri-training land for me. It was a workout I’d been anticipating with a fair amount of fear, especially considering my meltdown last week. I was very low on the confidence scale and just not sure of my ability to do this.

Set the alarm for 5:30 because we were traveling way up to Napa wine country for our bike/run. Picked up Lily (who had just returned from Mexico hours before, yayyy!) and we headed up.

First we had a little talk from our coach. See how serious everyone is?

I was feeling kind of wimpy when I read this.

So our bike plan was to go about 15-30 miles depending on experience. I was feeling kind of anxious-but-determined about the shoe clip thing. We headed out the parking lot and we were maybe half a block away, at the first stop sign, when coach Mark called out my name and remarked on my less-than-graceful stopping and dismounting style. Uh-oh. Busted.

He then proceeded to give me a private tutorial on balance, stopping and starting right there in the road (actually, the bike line) while the rest of the group rode off into the horizon. Without us. 😦

I had somewhat mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I felt very grateful for the private attention and help. On the other hand, I was so aware of being left behind (and last) and also of being in bicycle remedial school. It was kind of embarrassing. And as we did these drills I felt like I  was almost getting worse instead of better. It was the opposite of my session with Mary, when I was OK with the stops but awkward with the starts. Yesterday, I was starting out fine but then I was regressing back into my “slam on the brakes then leap off the bike like it’s on fire” method. No matter what Mark said, it was not sinking into my reptilian brain and I just kept reflexively doing the “jump off while bike is still rolling” thing. It wasn’t pretty.

Finally he realized I wasn’t going to improve all that much and we took off onto the Silverado Trail, which is this long mini-highway that goes through dozens of vineyards in the Napa valley. I kept praying I would not get hit by a giant limo filled with drunk people at 9 in the morning.

Once my feet were clipped in, it felt pretty good. There was a nice wide bike line, the road was pretty much flat, and it just went on in a straightforward way. But I was very aware of coach Mark behind me and even though I was pedaling as fast as my legs would rotate, I wasn’t sure if I was doing the bike equivalent of walking.

There are a few things I need to figure out still. No, a lot of things. But one of them is where to put my butt. If I just sit down “naturally” without thinking about it, I know I am way far forward and it’s all very painful and squishy. But if I really sit BACK on the cushy big part of the seat, it feels weird and strange for my back and arms. Actually, none of it feels super comfortable. So I played around with that for most of the ride.

I was starting to get kind of tired and I could feel my legs aching when YAY we got to the water and fuel stop. YAY!

This is when I made one of the best choices of my workout life. There was a fair spread of snack and beverage choices and I took a big cup of Gatorade (good choice #1 – yay electrolytes) AND a big handful of salty salty pretzels. (BRILLIANT CHOICE) I was in deadly fear of dehydration which has taken me down so many times in the past. I remembered something right then. I remembered that when I have suffered from dehydration (and Junior too) the BIG THING to bring us back from death’s door was — chicken soup. Salty salty chicken soup. And I remembered the cyclists at the Century ride snarfing down the boiled potatoes sprinkled with salt.

I think this made the hugest difference EVER.

Got off on the second half of the ride. Made it back to parking lot. Had to run into the giant food store to go to the bathroom and then changed my shoes.

We were to run a mile out and a mile back on this trail right off the parking lot. I had already psyched myself into accepting that I was going to do run-walk intervals. I was OK with it. I told myself there was no shame in walking, and I just needed to get through the two miles.

I started running. The trail was really beautiful, along a little creek (or was it a river?) and it was nice and woodsy and there were all kinds of people walking and running, including another TNT team who was doing SIX miles before their final tri next weekend. (gulp, one day that will be us!) The run went just fine. I noticed that I was not having any need to walk. I just kept going, and I was so happy to be passing (going the other way) other members of my team. We all slapped hands and gave each other encouragement. I felt so glad to be part of it.

Finally I realized I was only about 1/4 mile out. And I hadn’t walked yet. My Runkeeper told me that my average pace was a 11:40 mile. I was astounded because remember at our first mile, I pushed to a 11:33 mile and thought I was going to DIE? For this one I felt like I was just sort of ambling along at a pretty easy pace. When all of this came together in my head – the fact that I hadn’t walked, that I had done this AFTER a 15 mile ride, and that I had done it at this pace – I got totally overwhelmed. I hit the parking lot and just burst into sobs. I couldn’t stop crying for about five minutes. It was happy tears though.

After everyone got back, a bunch of us went out for breakfast. Normally at this point in a workout I’d be almost catatonic. I’d be shaky and woozy and ready to keel over. Not yesterday. I was soooooo full of energy and just feeling good.

yay team! That's Rachel!

For EVERY SINGLE team workout this season, I’ve had to come home and take a big nap – because of the early wakeup AND because the workouts just knocked me out. But yesterday I came home and did a little Rocky dance and then went out to take care of other stuff. NO NAP. No meltdown or wipeout.

It was the salty pretzels!!

I really feel like this was a HUGE breakthrough, physically and psychologically and even intellectually. I finally understood something about what my body needed. Electrolytes and salt! and it made such a difference in my workout (and POST workout) I can hardly believe it. Whew.

I still have a LOT of practicing to do on the bike with the clips and the on/off. But I feel so much more confident than I did just a week ago. It’s beginning to feel possible.

Back in the Saddle

So after my meltdown I’ve been slowly making my way back. I got advice that I shouldn’t attempt to “make up” any missed workout, but just to pick up the next workout. The next scheduled workout was a swim for Friday. It turned out to be an unexpectedly busy work day for me, so I didn’t actually get to the pool until 8:30PM. I’d never been there so late before. I was the only one in the whole pool. It was dark, but the pool was lit underneath the water and the whole thing was kind of surreal and beautiful.

I didn’t end up having time to do the entire “Fitness” level workout, but I did do the Developing workout and it felt just fine. I just felt relaxed and it was so peaceful. I could see the lit-up bubbles underwater with every stroke – something I can’t see in the daytime – and it was like this very artistic, pretty feedback on how hard I was pushing through the water. Pretty awesome!

So that was reviving. Then today I met up with our regional group for a “Captain’s Run” which happened to be taking place just a few blocks from my house. Yay! I got to walk there. It also started at 9am which I considered very civilized.

These runs are often just timed runs – no matter what pace, we go 30 minutes out and 30 back in, so everyone finishes at roughly the same time, even though some people go a lot farther.

Captain Matt: "Just run that way until your lungs explode."

It was interesting how the run went, and how I felt about it. I was absolutely the last one in the group. I did walk/run intervals. There were a lot of hills and some of them VERY steep, especially coming back. It just seemed to go up and up and up. But you know what? I felt okay. I ran when I could, and I walked when I couldn’t run. End of story. I didn’t worry about keeping up with other people. I was in my element, in my own neighborhood in a place I knew well. Sometimes it was so misty/foggy I couldn’t see feet ahead of me, and other times it was HOT and sunny. The fog just kept going in and out. Like the underwater swim on Friday, I found it kind of peaceful. I just wasn’t worried about it. In the end I did a 4.88 miles in 70 minutes, which was just fine.

In the afternoon I was going to meet up with my awesome buddy Mary V, who has coached those 500 mile AIDS rides. She had offered to help me get used to the new pedals on my bike. I felt like I really needed to figure them out before our long big ride in Napa tomorrow. She suggested that we just go practice at one of the BART station parking lots which is usually empty on weekends.

So I met her out there and tried to clip on my shoe to the pedal. It wouldn’t go and at first I just thought I was being super uncoordinated. But then I tried to sit on the ground and just clip my SHOE (without foot in it!) to the pedal, and it still didn’t work. Then Mary tried to clip her own shoe in and no go.

Back to the bike store! Third time in three days! They’re going to have to paint my name on the floor in the spot where I stand and wait. Mary was nice enough to help me and help them and explain the issue. They loosened up the clip then let me get on their trainer (bike stand) to practice. Mary coached me in the in-and-out. I got my right foot pretty quickly but the left one was a lot more awkward. After about 15 minutes of this everyone seemed satisfied that it was working, I could get my foot in and out and I was deemed ready to go. The bike guys were like, “You want to go take it for a spin?” “NOW? HERE?” Um, no, thanks.

Mary took me up to the trail nearby where I’d practiced a bunch with Lily. She was so patient. (and believe me, standing in a parking lot and then in a bike store and then riding about 20 feet was NOT her idea of a fun bike ride!) She was so kind and yet firm. “OK, get on now.” She had me get on and off the bike and ride a bit (“Now stop!”) maybe about ten times.


I only rode a little ways, and I’d say that I had two really awkward ugly starts, and two really nice graceful ones, and a whole bunch of them that were somewhere in between. But I DID NOT FALL DOWN once. And that was a huge victory. And even though I wasn’t what one would call “comfortable,” I DID It. and I hope this will translate into a not too humiliating or painful experience tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are riding up in Napa. Which is over an hour from here. And we meet at 7:45. IN NAPA. So I’ve got to get to bed now, y’all!


Melt by leeroy09481
Melt, a photo by leeroy09481 on Flickr.

Today was one of those days that started out with such good intentions. And which just fell apart little by little.

First, I have brutal PMS which means I am just ready to cry buckets at the drop of a hat.  Today was an OYO bike/run day. First I was going to go for a ride with my helpful friend Mary, but then it turned out she had tickets to a show and couldn’t go. Which was OK because I had another plan.

After last weekend I made the decision that I want to move from toe cages to shoe clips for the bike. But I knew it would be scary and freaky so I thought, I’d get a bike trainer to practice on! Last night I went to Lily’s house because she offered to loan me her trainer while she was away. But her housemates were not home. Wah. No problem. I would get one on my own! How resourceful am I! Because I am going to need one anyway. I went to Craiglist and got immediately confused and then I got a cheapness attack and went for this bike trainer that costs $35. I have no clue about these things. The ones at my local bike shop are like $300. What is the difference? I had no idea.

I had a rather stressful hard day at work. Thursdays are often like that. But I left a little early and went to buy this trainer. On the way I suddenly got all paranoid about people getting murdered or attacked when they go to meet a Craigslist contact, so I texted my husband the address and phone where I was going, and said if you don’t hear from me, go here. He was like, what? Why would I not hear from you? And then I transferred my paranoia to him.

I found the place and it was like this ginormous overstock warehouse place, with basically shelves of junk all over the place. They had a whole shelf of these cheapie trainers. I got one and put it in my trunk. I even got a receipt and a 7 day return slip! (smart) Then I went to the fancy bike store to get the clip pedals. But then they told me I’d have to bring in my stupid shoes to have them fitted to the clip things.

That’s when I started to melt down. And realize that I was very, very very tired and hungry and I still had like a 75 minute workout ahead of me. I think I actually started to cry a little bit. My husband was texting me about “what is the dinner plan” and my brain just melted out my ears and I couldn’t even THINK let alone form a coherent dinner plan so I said we could get takeout from this place but then I couldn’t locate our daughter to figure out what she wanted which led to me sitting in the takeout place texting everyone in my family for like half an hour. Meanwhile I was getting more exhausted and overwhelmed.

Finally I got home and we ate dinner and I thought, OK, even if I don’t go out for a ride I can setup my new TRAINER and I can practice various bike skills and get a workout while watching some mindless TV.  And we took the thing out of the box and we sort of set it up but it kept not really working right because the pedal would hit the round thing and well…..

It was the wrong size. It was for a 24-28 inch bike and I have a 17 inch bike. So it wouldn’t work. So I had to put it back in the box and at that point it was dark and I couldn’t ride OR run and I just put on my pajamas and cried.

That was my day. Tomorrow is a new day. I hate hate hate hate HATE missing any workout because it makes me feel like I will just get even further behind until I am just left sitting, old and out of shape and the last one on a rock somewhere. Or an iceberg.

Pity party! OMG. But today is over. I am going to bed. And tomorrow I will get up and in spite of the fact that I have to go to work all day on a day that is normally my nice workout-work parttime and do errands day, I will get a full real workout done tomorrow. I’ll get back in the saddle or in the pool and just carry on.

So the question for any coaches or mentors out there – if I skip a workout because I had a total meltdown, is it best to just SKIP it, or do today’s intended workout tomorrow? Hmm?

It’s Better With A Buddy

My workout buddy Lily has been in Mexico visiting her abuela all week and I’ve been feeling kind of bereft without her. It just isn’t the same! Before she left, we got a mani-pedi and had our toenails painted Team in Training Purple. 🙂

On Sunday I did a run on my own, around my beloved Lake Merritt. This is where I did a lot of my training last year and I’d really missed it. I love seeing the people of Oakland all out, some walking, some jogging or wogging and others just all-out fast athletes. Everyone’s out there. It’s just so beautiful. As I was coming around about 2/3 the way around, I ran into my friend Mary who also works at WW and who has done many of those amazing 500-mile bike rides. (whoa.) She had told me she would help me with my riding and I would help her (hahahaha) with her running.  We started running together and I told her all the woes of my Sunday right, the toe cages and the horrible hill and all that. We got so involved in our conversation that at one point she didn’t see a little blip in the pavement and BOOM. She fell. On her face, and her hand. Blood was everywhere! I felt so bad for her. We made it back to her car and she washed up but man she is going to have one big shiner. It was so reassuring to talk to her up til that point though -she has helped SO many beginner, nervous, neurotic bike riders and I can’t wait to practice with her.

Yesterday was one of the first really, really warm days here ALL SUMMER (it’s about time, right?) and when I got to our regular gym pool after work, there were probably 100 kids in there. NOT conducive to lap swimming. They do an adult swim for 10 minutes every hour but that is hardly adequate. I was already really tired from a hard and long day at work. Sigh. So I decided I’d go to my college, which has a super nice aquatic center, and give that a try. When I got there, I had to park in a lot that was a ways away. Like a ten minute walk. So I parked and went up to the pool. They said I had to have an ID, because that is what they keep for security while you’re swimming.

My ID was IN THE CAR. Frack. So there’s another twenty minutes trudging back to the parking lot and back again. By this time I was fairly exhausted and annoyed. I slapped the ID down and they reminded me, “Pool closes at 7:30pm.” It was just about 7:00pm on the nose. Not nearly enough time. I was about close to tears at that point, but I went and changed, got in the pool and had just under a half hour workout. Once again my time ran out before my energy did. I didn’t get to complete even half of the workout that had been assigned to us. Of course at that point I COULD have driven back to the other gym, because the kids would have been gone at that point, but I just could not bring myself to do so. So that was it for my swim yesterday.

Today was a run workout. Normally they have a “captain’s run” (regional runs led by mentor coaches) but it takes place at the same time as my WW meeting so I always have to do my run on my own. I figured I would do the same interval run as last week and hoped it would be good enough. I went up to the park near my house and set my Runkeeper app to those intervals. Which included four 2-minute level 9 intervals. Man those things are tough. For at least two of them I stopped (for a few seconds) before getting to the entire two minutes. I haven’t quite figured out the right pace that is “almost all out” without just killing myself. Which is still glacially slow for any of the 20 year olds on my team. Oh well.

I was so glad I’d gotten the run done in the morning though. It feels so much better. Trying to get motivated to work out after a full work day is TOUGH. Which is what I guess I’ll be doing tomorrow. Tomorrow is supposed to be a bike/run. Oh man.

Lily offered to loan me her bike trainer, which is a stand you put your bike on and can use to work out – like making your own bike a stationery bicycle. I went to her house but her house sitters weren’t there tonight (drat). I was hoping I could set it up tomorrow and really practice my stop/start, on/off and also maybe work on dealing with the toe cages. Mary said she thought the shoe clips were 100% better than the cages, for a variety of reasons. I think I might have to bite the bullet but I have to practice before I go do our big coached ride this weekend. (up in Napa! Wine country! I might have to down a bottle of wine after this one)

So I’m plugging along. Some days I feel like I just haven’t gotten any better at all in a month. Other days I feel more optimistic. Tonight I’m just… tired.

Week Four Workout Blitz

This weekend I thought I would be missing out on the big coached team workout (held on Saturday instead of Sunday). But plans changed at the last minute and I was able to make it. Yesterday I spent much of the day traveling and arrived back home really tired at 8pm. It was the first day that I skipped a TNT workout. 😦 I chose not to beat myself up over it, but I don’t want to make it too easy on myself to allow that to happen very often. It’s so easy to come up with excuses!

So I was happy to be able to get to the coached workout this morning. We had a big swim. We are now officially in the “Fitness” level of swimmers, for better or worse. I got up at 6 and picked up Lily at 7 and we headed up to Novato for the workout. The exciting thing for today is that they set up these underwater cameras so that everyone got video’ed so we can have our strokes analyzed. How cool is that? This is what makes Team in Training so world class. There is this GIANT team of coaches, mentors, captains and overall Helpful People to support you in every way, and they really work hard to help you improve. It’s really so awesome.

Amanda setting up the pool camera

The swim went pretty well but it was long. First we had a warmup of 200 yards. Then we did a set of 25 x 8 (25 = one length) during which we were supposed to start out slow and progressively speed up or exert more and more each successive time. I have a very hard time controlling or gauging my swimming speed so I did #1 glacially slow (ahhh), the middle ones at sort of “regular” and then the last one I tried to imagine that I was swimming away from a shark. That got my heartrate going all right, but I am also sure I was thrashing around like an octopus.

Then we did several uninterrupted sets of 300, 400 and 500 yards (500 = 20 lengths!). At the end of the 400 I felt like I was getting sort of delirious underwater, swimming crooked and having trouble with my breathing. In the middle of the 500 we were told to go get our video recorded. We only had to do 2 lengths for that, and it gave me a much needed break in the 500 or I feel like I might’ve just melted my brain into the pool. Then we did a 200 “cooldown.” I wish I could really do any other stroke – I’m not very good at backstroke or breaststroke so I could really recover more. But all I know is freestyle so that’s what I did.

We got changed into our bike stuff. I was feeling kind of shaky and wobbly and just WEAK after the swim. I’m sure I didn’t drink enough (DUH). I had a KIND bar and tried to drink water. But I was not feeling at my physical or emotional best.

Last week I had an official fitting which was supposed to make things all perfectly aligned and awesome, but: I think the seat is too high because when I get up on my toes, I can barely get my padded bottom onto the seat. Often it gets stuck, which is awkward and… unsmooth. Then, my new bike shoes are too thick for the toe cages I bought. The toe cages officially make me REALLY NERVOUS and I noted that my start-stop is MUCH more anxiety-provoking than last week. I think I might take them off. I am not sure. I got all tangled in stuff and have claw marks up and down my legs just because I was nervous and not doing things right.

There were two bike groups: the Olympic group, which is supposedly me, but they were going for either a 70 or 50 minute ride. The Sprint group was doing allegedly a 30 minute. I wanted to do more than that but I was kind of disoriented and the Olympic group took off and I was not with them. I tried to follow them and catchup but to no avail. For about 15 minutes I was riding completely by myself which I did NOT LIKE. So I stopped and waited for the S group to catch me (that didn’t take long). But then we were going on the wrong route and ended up at the freeway entrance (which I also did NOT LIKE) and had to turn around. Finally we found the street we were supposed to turn on in the first place. This street had the biggest hill I have ever ridden on in my entire life. In every other instance of my life, I would have taken one look at that hill and just walked the bike. But our group leader, Art, urged us to STAY ON THE BIKE and use our gears and our legs and what-all to do the hill. Going up it was pretty hard, but OK. Then we went down. And down and down and down. And I realized that the OTHER side of the hill was even steeper and we’d have to return up it. OH SHIT.

After a while we turned around and started heading uphill — first it was gradual, then it got more and more intense. Then REALLY intense. I desperately put my gears at the very lowest setting and just tried to stay on and stay alive. My breath was totally ragged and I was gasping, gulping and praying for air. AND I felt like I was going to puke my guts out. It was like the most all-out running sprint ever. I knew that if I stopped or got off, I would just collapse into a heap of jelly and there would be no getting up. So I kept going and finally got to the top. At the top, it was not this big relief. I felt like I’d died a little inside. I didn’t really start breathing normally for about half an hour, and I was sort of veering and swerving like a drunk.

I was sort of proud of myself, but also sort of shell-shocked and miserable. It was about 10x harder than last week’s ride had been. I got into the car and sort of wondered again what I had gotten myself into.

blech. unhappy camper

Eventually, people from the Olympic group started coming back in. I had some Gatorade and a little bit of power ball something that someone gave me. I was pretty wacked out for a while. I talked a bit with Katherine, who had been the “sweep” (tail end) of our group and who had been a huge moral support to me when I had a little mid-intersection meltdown over my toe cages and felt too paralyzed to get up and go. She gave me a little pep talk about hills and such and cheered me up somewhat. She is one of maybe two people on the team who might be my age or older, and she has already done triathlons so I have the utmost respect for her. She inspires me. Whereas some of the uber-young people who leapt off their bikes to take an optional RUN after it all, just made me want to weep.

Katherine the Awesome

I started feeling just a tad bit better as people started finishing the other ride. For the record, the Sprint group did a 50 minute ride (not 30!) and the Olympic group did like an 80 minute ride (not 50 or 70).  So it’s always longer than they say it’s going to be. (word to the wise) Today was a day when I was once again feeling very Grinchy about the bike. I hated the toe cages, and hated the height of my seat. Bah, biking!

This is what my mentor Annika and her husband do for fun: she leaps on his back in the “Superwoman” position and then he does squats with her on his back. Fun, huh! These crazy kids!

What fun! Right?

I got home and yes, I was tired. I lay around and read and did stuff on the computer for several hours. Then I took a long nap. Now it’s almost dinner time. I have to come to grips that these big workout days pretty much ruin me for anything else (ie don’t try and do a solo performance or anything dumb like that).

Today’s mood: determined but sober.

What “Can’t” Really Means

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “can’t” lately. Since I started triathlon training, so many of my previously ingrained “can’t” beliefs about myself have been shattered, turned around, evaporated. Some of them are big and some of them are small, but I realize how in many instances, “can’t” has really meant (until now) “prefer not to.” Heh.

For example.

  • I can’t preferred not to bike or swim. I can only run.
  • I can’t preferred not to ride a bike in traffic or anywhere near cars.
  • I can’t didn’t train so that I was able to swim more than 4 lengths of a pool. (ahem: last night swam 76 lengths!)
  • When I’m swimming, I can’t prefer not to breathe on my left side.
  • I can’t would rather not but am willing to try to ride a bike with toe clips.

Language makes such a difference doesn’t it? In our heads and in our reality. I can’t even describe how many YEARS (decades) I used to say out loud, “I can’t bike or swim.” Well clearly that isn’t true. But the truth was, I preferred not to, and I CHOSE not to. But it wasn’t that I couldn’t.

This little one about breathing on the left side. Haha. Well, the truth is, that it’s awkward, and I turn my head in an uncomfortable and spazzy way, and I end up sometimes gulping water when I try to breath on my left side. Which is why I most often CHOSE to only breathe on my right side. But our swim coach Angie kept reminding us that it would be a good thing to be able to swim bilaterally because what if we are in open water and the wind and waves are ALL on the right side. That would not be good. So last night during our OYO swim workout I really, really practiced the left sided breathing. It did not feel easy or fun or natural. But at the end of the evening I had not drowned and I had clearly succeeded in doing even awkward, flawed left sided breathing. So I have no business saying “I can’t.”

RIght now I feel myself tending toward thinking things like, “I can’t run six miles after I’ve ridden 24 miles and swam a mile.” I’ve got to stop thinking those thoughts. I’m working on repeating to myself, “I am TRAINING to ride six miles after riding 24 and swimming one, and when the time comes, I WILL BE READY.” I believe I can’t do it today or this week, but I have to have the belief that when November comes I WILL be ready.


This is Recovery Week?!

swim team by getthebubbles
swim team, a photo by getthebubbles on Flickr.

Early this week we got an email from Coach saying,

Hello all you phenomenal triathletes (nice way to start an email, yes? :-))

Here we are in week four already. More importantly this is your first recovery week. While our training volume is still relatively small (uh-oh), it is very important to scale back a bit to give your body a chance to heal and recover from everything that you have put it through. If you are having any nagging physical issues, be sure to take extra time off to heal. Your body does not get stronger from simply beating it into the ground. Reality is actually quite to the contrary. When you exercise, your muscles are subjected to stress that actually damages the tissue. It is only during recovery that the muscle can rebuild itself stronger so that next time it is better able to handle the stress you put it under. In other words you get stronger and more resistant to injury.

Stick to the training schedule that I have laid out and don’t be tempted to push harder or do more. (oh, don’t worry about that, coach! haha!)

At first I was so excited. It sounded almost like a “rest” week! What is recovery week! Yay!

Then I took a look at our OYO swim workout for yesterday. It was a total of 1900 yards (76 lengths) – 600 more than last week. THIS Is recovery? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I said to Lily, “Are you SURE you want to do Fitness level again?” She replied, of course we can do this.

And as it turned out, we could. But I still am unclear on the concept of what “Recovery Week” means. It makes me afraid for NEXT week!

Kickin’ In Year 52, Triathlon Style!

I have to say, I had a pretty awesome birthday on Sunday. I got up at 6am, even did my 750 words, then dressed, had my pre-workout whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and went to pick up Lily. We were going for our first long bike ride + run workout. I have to say, I was nervous. This was my first team bike ride and even though I’d done some biking on my own, it was all pretty much on trails. It’s the TRAFFIC I was worried about.

Team in Training is very spirit oriented, very rah-rah. Which sometimes can be annoying but with TNT I don’t mind it at all. In fact, I really appreciate it. This week’s Spirit Challenge was to wear weird and crazy socks. I had bought some pink flame socks to go with my new bike shoes, but Lily came through with some rocking matching animal print socks which she gave me in the car. She is the greatest.

rockin' the crazy socks

We got out to Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton and met up with the team. Guess how many other people were wearing crazy socks?? Not very many! So we won!!!!! We got some awesome TNT purple swag. Then our team mentor asked how many of us had not skipped a workout. Was I the only one to raise my hand? Really? I was presented with the golden sparkly cowboy/girl hat of fame!! WOW! Too much!!

mentor Annika giving me the hat!

This was all very fun and distracting but I knew that the actual bike ride was coming up. NERVOUS. I immediately placed myself in the “Developing” group (the beginner group). They had us ride around the parking lot a couple times. Well, that was fine. Then we headed up a hill out of the park and across a four-lane road, and… we were ON THE ROAD! Cars were zipping by. We were in a bike line. It was flat. For the first few minutes I was having an out-of-body experience as the cars whooshed by. But then I just kept watching the bike in front of me, pedal pedal pedal. I started to realize that it was not so bad. (whew!)

Our Developing ride was supposed to be 50 minutes- 25 minutes out and 25 back. But it ended up being much longer. There were some slightly scary moments – when we had to ride in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD because we were going straight, and there was a right-hand turn lane; when the “bike lane” ended and there were just cars (parked) and cars (moving) on both sides; when we came to a narrow curving overpass thing with basically NO shoulder and NO bike lane, and a few hills where my rubbery legs kept slipping off the pedals (toe clips being installed today!!). But I managed to deal with all of it without melting down or falling off or getting injured. Team mentor Karla who was bringing up the rear kept saying encouraging things to me, like, “You are so much better than you think!” and “You so got this!” etc. I couldn’t believe she was actually saying those words to me.

And one guy zipped by (not our team) and yelled out, “Nice socks!!!!!!” Hahaha.

After the ride (13.5 miles, 80 minutes!) we tried to quickly transition into running shoes and just take off for a “brief” 15-20 minute run. OMG. That was one of the most PAINFUL runs of my life. Ever. My calves and feet were SCREAMING and had no desire to run. Or even walk. Hobble maybe? I pretty much walk/hobbled/ jogged at a ridiculous pace. I couldn’t believe how jellified and also petrified and painful my lower extremities were. It was not a pleasant run. All I could think of was, I am going to do 6 miles of this?? NO WAY.

Thank goodness it was a short run. I got back to the picnic tables and pretty much collapsed. Happily, I was revived by birthday cupcakes! How sweet is that! Annika made them (with purple icing, natch) for me and Art, whose birthday was this week also. What an awesome team!

Truly though, NOTHING was a better birthday present than surviving that bike ride. Even enjoying more than half of it. And the nervous parts weren’t wildly, horribly debilitating. It was like butterflies in the stomach, not like panic attack level. So that was a huge victory. A great present. An enormous breakthrough.

I got home and had a wonderful birthday NAP. Zzzzzzzz.

Then cake and presents with my lovely family! Junior is away so it was Mister, Mom and Juniorette. We had an incredibly delicious cheesecake.

One of my favorite presents was this little kit which basically starts as a bunch of colored straws with holes in them…

Which you cut up and then follow numerical directions and they turn into… pig and chicken robots holding fish! WHAT!! Could there be anything cuter or more clever? I don’t think so. This was hands down one of my favorite gifts EVER.

After all the festivities, I got to go to San Francisco and have a girlfriend birthday dinner with one of my best buddies. It was sooooooo great.

Lobster salad!

It was really an extraordinary, wonderful day which made me feel very grateful and happy to be alive. I am a bazillion times healthier (and undoubtedly happier) than I was at 42, and I’m looking forward to more.

Tri Training: One Workout At A Time

So after my mini meltdown on Sunday, I’ve recovered and I am carrying on. I have kept up with my workouts. All of those check marks represent a completed workout according to the Team in Training schedule that our coaches gave us. I’m not giving up.

On Tuesday, Lily and I did a swim workout and it felt pretty good. She suggested that maybe we move it on up to the “Fitness” level next time. I was like, hahaha! The workouts are split into four levels of difficulty: Sprint level (the shorter triathlon), Developing Olympic level, Fitness Level and Competitive level. We had been working out at DO level for the most part.

On Wednesday, I took Junior to the airport in the morning and then had a tough work day that didn’t end until after 8. I was supposed to do a run workout. It was late. It was dark. I was so tired. But I did not want to miss doing my workout so I went to the gym and did my run workout on the treadmill. It involved six level 9 intervals which I was not excited about. But I did manage to finish it and went to bed tired and relieved I’d done it.

Thursday was the day of my TNT fundraiser. I got up early and did my bike/run workout on the local hill trail. It was not the best workout but not the worst one either. It was interesting to do the instant transition from bike to run and to think, I’m going to be doing exactly this in the race. Then Thursday night was my bartending fundraiser. A lot of people came and generously drank cocktails (our signature cocktail was the Tequila Sunrise, since we get up at sunrise to work out! Haha!). I still don’t have the total, but I think I raised a nice chunk of cash. Here I am raising the Jack Daniels! It was fun being bartender for the night.

Today was swim day. Another long work day and Lily reminded me that we said we were going to do the Fitness level. I said okay. We followed the printed sheet. At one point I asked, “What, no kickboards?” And she very cutely said, “No my friend, we are doing the Fitness Level. No kickboard for us tonight.” We proceed to kick ASS in our workout and we completed it. During one 12-length series I could feel my stroke disintegrating. I was so tired. I got a cramp in my foot. I finished. Go us.

Tomorrow – run at Inspiration Point. Sunday – bike and run out at Shadow Cliffs. I’m gonna keep going.




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