eat, move, think, feel


August 2011

Flat Tire, Flat Brained

flat tire by ShmuliPhoto
flat tire, a photo by ShmuliPhoto on Flickr.

Yesterday was one of those days when I was just completely overloaded: emotionally, physically, and every way. It was just TOO MUCH.

It started with a 6am wakeup and then being unable to find my bike shorts OR my swim cap and goggles, which I either left at the pool on Friday OR were taken at the pool. At any rate, they were missing. So I started out in a state of total discombobulation.

I carpooled to the swim/bike site with Lily. When we got there it was freeeeeeeeeeezing. I mean freezing. But thank goodness the water was warm and we got going on our pool workout.

I’d say the swim workout was the best part of the day. It wasn’t easy  – I was often out of breath and tired – BUT I felt like I was improving and each small tip they gave us, like tucking our chins down, made a difference in my stroke quality. So that was awesome. The other good thing is that I got moved into the 2nd lane again, so I can feel confident that I am not in the beginner-beginner lane anymore. That made me feel encouraged. So it was a really good workout – probably 75 minutes or so – and I felt good about it.

Then we had to change clothes and get ready for the bike part. It started with a safety clinic and then a lesson in how to change a flat tire. I was noticing during that time that I was almost on the verge of tears and maybe some sort of panic attack (which is not typical for me). Just the thought of all the hazards they were describing were making me so anxious I could barely think. Then we had to take our tire off our bike, open it up and remove the tubing, blow it up with our mouth (!) then replace it and put it back on the bike. This entire process was just so fraught with anxiety for me. I didn’t know the name of anything or have any idea how any of it fit together or worked. I felt like I had been asked to remove the back of my computer and take apart the circuit board. I was a total deer in the headlights. Some of the coaches took mercy on me and kindly helped me out, like every 2 minutes, since I CLEARLY had no clue what I was doing, and I managed to do the whole thing. But it was still so anxiety filled for me. After that, the beginning level riders took off for a short ride but I had to leave to go to San Francisco for the SF Theater Festival where I was performing.

The whole notion of combining a workout day with a performance day was probably very, very bad. When I have a whole team workout, I pretty much collapse and go to bed after. And when I perform, I pretty much need several hours to calm and focus beforehand. So it was sort of a losing setup. I didn’t have time to shower as I had wanted, so I just changed and got in the car with crazy swimcap hair. Which was already a drain on my confidence. Then there was horrible bridge traffic in which I sat motionless for too long, and then my stupid GPS directed me to drive through SF CHINATOWN (ACKKKKKKK the worst place to drive EVER) and I got there with like a minute to spare.

The performance itself was… not my best. First, the amazing Zahra went before me. People kept streaming in through her whole show and we kept adding rows and rows and rows of more chairs. She probably had 100 people in there. Then, she finished, and like… 80 people left. That was… gulp. OK. Kind of demoralizing. So I already had bad hair, and no clue how to end my show, and a measly audience. I got through about 75% of it in strong form (I think) and then I pretty much tanked. It wasn’t the best. I had last tweaked the show for Fitbloggin and I knew I had to do something different, and I just didn’t have it together.

After my show I had to put in 3 hours of volunteer time ushering for the Festival, which was an unpleasant and resentful and exhausted way to spend the late afternoon. I was in a very bad mood.

Finally I came home and keeled over.

Today is a new day. I learned a lot yesterday. I learned that I HAVE to limit my activities or I’m just going to burn out. If I had yesterday to do over, I would have probably:

  • Chosen one thing or another: the workout OR the performance.
  • Chosen to perform my other piece which is polished and has a solid ending.
I have to really think about this bicycling thing. The level of fear I felt yesterday (without even going on the ride!!!!!) was overwhelming. I realize that this car/traffic thing for me is NO JOKE. I can’t bear the idea of cycling through a narrow space. (ie between cars) I just can’t.
The triathlon itself is going to be on a closed road with no cars. So I am wondering if I can do my training in areas with no traffic. Because I am damn sure I have NO goals of ever, ever, EVER riding in streets with traffic (for the long run). My goal is to finish the damn triathlon. I just need the skill and endurance to get through the 12 or 24 miles (Sprint or Olympic) in November. That is my ultimate goal. If I am going to train on traffic roads, I am going to need hypnosis or anti-anxiety meds or SOMEthing to get through it. I am really struggling with how I am going to manage this but I’ll be damned if I give up the entire triathlon just because of this fear.

They Rode 100 Miles, I Cut Up 100 Watermelons…

one of thousands

Today, my TNT buddy Lily and I went out to the Marin Century (100 mile) bike race to help staff the Team in Training hosted food table. It was really amazing. They had warned us that bike races are NOTHING like running races (where you run past for a cup of water or Gaterade and maybe a package of Gu) and they were right! One of the cyclists called it the Four Seasons of rest stops – we had three giant tables loaded with every kind of fruit imaginable (oranges, bananas, grapes, figs, dates, watermelon, peaches, nectarines, cherries), sweet treats (M & Ms, cookies, Nutella), salty treats (boiled potatoes with salt shakers- they were a huge hit! as were potatoes slathered in Nutella), peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, hotdogs, Ramen noodles and tons more. It was insane!

Lily & Heather making the PBJ

The cyclists were on their 75th or so mile when they got to us. (Whaaat????????) It was interesting that they rolled in, came up to the table looking not very tired or in pain, and chatted and sat around for like half an hour before getting up and going again. That was pretty interesting. Of course one guy rode past on his bike and grabbed a potato to go, but most people seemed to take a very leisurely rest. It was kind of fascinating.

This race also seemed to be 75-80% men, especially the first half that came in. At first I actually thought it was a men’s race. An OLDER men’s race. There were some women, but they were definitely in the minority. Especially younger women. Which was also really interesting. Some of the riders were going to do a DOUBLE, ie 200 miles! YOW!

Anyway, I sliced watermelon and cut up PB and J and opened endless packs of cookies and got to chat with other TNT folks who were doing other events, mostly the Nike Marathon. One triathlete is doing the Alcatraz Tri in a couple weeks (yikes).

It was fun to get out there and see what other people are doing. And we got some nice fundraising credit from TNT for being there (niiiice).

After our four hour shift we did our run workout for the day, which was a 30 minute easy run. It was not very easy for me. I had gone to my trainer yesterday and we did a core/strength workout that involved a TON of squats and lunges. My hamstrings were freaking killing me and felt like they were made of thick, tight rubber bands. I could barely run, for real.

Tomorrow is a whole team swim workout followed by our first bike clinic and team bike ride. I am nervous and excited. THEN I am going to buzz over to San Francisco to perform “FoodFoodBodyBody” in the San Francisco Theater Festival. I sure am going to sleep well tomorrow night….!


Midweek, Week 2: Of Beasts and Blood

Two more workouts down! After that emotional meltdown on Tuesday, things have been going more smoothly, at least psychologically.

Yesterday was a run workout. I did it OYO (on your own) because of my WW meeting in the evening. Our coach had sent out a rather cryptic workout schedule with codes and numbers I didn’t fully understand. What he wrote was:

WARM UP: 10’ Easy jog with 4-5 x 10”-15” strides


T = Threshold pace = RPE 6-8. This is moderate to hard pace where conversation is possible but labored. Walk or jog very easy during the recovery interval.

R = Repetition pace = RPE 9-10. This is a near max effort. Focus on maintaining running form throughout the set. No recovery interval is given. Take as much rest as needed in order to perform the next repeat at the same high intensity.

Developing   (400T, RI 200 + 200R) repeat 4x or (4’T, RI 2′ + 2’R) 4x

Fitness           (400T, RI 200 + 200R) repeat 6x or (4’T, RI 2′ + 2’R) 6x

Competitive   (400T, RI 200 + 200R) repeat 8x or (4’T, RI 2′ + 2’R) 8x

COOL DOWN: 5’-10’ Easy jog or walk

I’m not sure how YOU would interpret this, but what I did was: (at “developing level”) – warmup, then four minutes of Threshold Level, 2 minutes of Repetition Pace “near max effort,” 2 minutes of recovery (ie staggering/walking/trying not to throw up). Then repeated that 4x. Then cooldown.

I am getting a little more of an idea of how to figure out these RPE (Rate of Perceived Efforts). A “near max effort” is one thing to do for 20 seconds (a true sprint) and another thing to do for two entire minutes. I have to really pace myself. And it just feels sick. But I configured my Runkeeper to chime at all the intervals, and I did it. At the end I was REALLY wiped but felt quite proud of myself. And super sweaty.

Later I found out that I had interpreted the thing wrong. When coach Haakon interpreted his symbols into ENGLISH, he said it was:

4 minutes at Threshold pace (RPE 6-8), rest for 2 minutes
2 minutes at Repetition pace (RPE 9-10), rest as long as you need to in order to do next set at the same intensity and focus.

So I had left out the resting in between Threshold and Rep, and NEVER did the “rest as long as you need.” He said that he liked my workout and that should be called The Beast. 🙂 and that as long as I was not injured, it was “money in the bank.” You can see how this guy thinks.

Yesterday I coincidentally got a handwritten letter from Junior in the mail. I cannot even REMEMBER the last time I got a handwritten letter from ANYONE and so I treasured every word like it was a gold nugget. But my very favorite part was the end of the letter.

That pretty much made my day. There’s no way she (or anyone else) would have said this about me three years ago. It made me feel very awesome.

Today was bike/run day. I got to reunite with my workout buddy Lily, whom I had not seen in what felt like eons! We met up on the same mild hill trail that I did on Saturday.

Here we are before we set off.

Lily: she's so cute!
me, feeling very jocky!

We took off. The trail was very beautiful and cool and woodsy and not nearly as crowded as it had been on the weekend.

Lily's butt: woosh, she just whizzed past! So speedy!

We went down the hill, then up the hill (puff puff) and it was very pleasing to have a nice easy hill on which to practice our gear switching. We were pretty psyched. THEN on the way up for the 2nd time, all of a sudden I felt this JERK! and my bike just STOPPED and I was flung to the ground. OUCH. My shoelace had gotten all wrapped up in the gear and well… ack.

This was a very unhappy moment for me. I was on the ground and it took forever to untangle my shoelace and nurse my wounds (both legs) and regain my confidence. Lily was very nice and walked with me for a little bit. Of course it brought back all sorts of PTSD re my bike accident, and I started muttering internally about how much I HATE BICYCLES because they are dangerous nasty beasts that can hurt you and get you killed.


So eventually I calmed down and we resumed going up the hill and it went fine. I know it was my FAULT for wearing running shoes with long laces. Mr. McBody had warned me about this (wagging finger and all) on Saturday and I was also dreading the “I told you so” speech when I got home. Bleah. But I got over it and we finished the ride, which all in all had been a success.

Then we RAN! It wasn’t a long run, but we ran down the hill and then up the hill. When we were done we felt like we’d definitely accomplished something. This was our first OYO multi-sport workout. Coach says we need to get used to doing a couple things at once. Okay.

Tomorrow is swim day. I am actually looking forward to it.

The Workout That Almost Wasn’t

Today was one of those Not Easy days. I did not bounce out of bed all excited to get into my new triathlon week. First, I had a super tough day at work. It was psychologically tough. Sometimes I work with people who are in a lot of pain and who have huge physical limitations. Today was one of those days. I just felt such incredible sadness, and the folks I worked with were in despair and I felt like I could not do a thing to help them. As the day went on I felt myself getting more and more tired and weighed down. I went to Starbucks after lunch for iced coffee and a cookie (note: did not help in the LEAST). By the end of the work day I just felt glued to my chair, dragging with no energy and dreading my swim workout.

A little part of me contemplated not going. But I knew that this would just be a horrible slippery slope and if I didn’t go once, then it would just set a precedent for not going again and again.

I was bummed because my buddy Lily couldn’t join me today. I haven’t seen her since last Friday and I miiiiisssssss her. Funny how quickly we establish routines and traditions. I got used to working out with her last week! It feels like an eternity!

I came home after work to print out the workout and get my swim gear. Of course I COULD have done that before leaving in the morning, but I hadn’t done that. I knew it was going to be dangerous to come in the house and sit on a chair. I did not allow myself to lie on the bed (which I really wanted to do). I dragged myself over to the gym after 7.

As I was driving, I got a little flash thinking about my work clients. And it struck me that I was feeling kind of guilty. That here I could work out and do all these things with my body that they just can’t do. It struck me how unfair that was. And I realized that that exhaustion hit me in the afternoon, I think partly because I was overwhelmed with the fact that I get to go and train for a triathlon and they can barely walk down the hall. I felt like I was showing off. And that I didn’t have the right to go work out when people are suffering in their bodies. (this is something along the lines of not finishing one’s plate when there are children starving in X…….. country)

Then I remembered something that our coaches say to us at almost every workout. That when we are tired, or not sure we can start or finish a workout, we should think about our honorees who have, or did have cancer, and that what we go through in our workouts is a mere tiny infinitesemal fraction of what they go through. And that we have to keep going.

My triathlon training is unfortunately not going to help every single person who is suffering in every way in the world. But it can help some people who are dealing with blood cancers.  I thought about Izzy and about Susan, another one of my honorees (just diagnosed a few weeks ago) who has already inspired me so much – post about her coming in the next week, and about Scott Simmons and Ruthann Cons and Robert Allen, my “in memory of” honorees. Then I realized that I just passed 25% (!!!!!!!!!!!!) of my fundraising goal (awesome, but that means I have 75% to go! hint hint!) , and that gave me some good energy.

So I went to the pool feeling tired, pretty grim, but determined to do it anyway.

I got in the water and right away I felt calmer. We were supposed to do a total of 700 yards of drills and freestyle. I did it and it was not a struggle. It actually felt really good. When I was done I added an extra 50 yards just because I felt like it. It made me excited to feel the progress I have been making with my swimming.

I was feeling so happy when I got out of the water.

After I took a shower I put on the shirt I’d tossed randomly into my bag. It was my shirt that I got at the Fight for Air StairClimb. In case you can’t read backwards, it says “I climb because I can.” And I guess I swim because I can.

When I was driving home there was an incredibly beautiful fingernail moon hanging over the city.


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