Sunday, January 27, 2008

INO so HTFU

It was another cold weekend of training. Those meteorologists have quite the profession - be totally wrong with the output of your work, but still keep your job. They said it was going to be "partly cloudy" yesterday at noon and 50 degrees. It was ALL cloudy and about 32 degrees. At least the wind wasn't as bad as the previous Saturday.

We rode the Scott/Keo loop. I'm finally figuring out where these places are and names of highways. It was about 52 miles total. It seemed like the boys were taking it easy yesterday and making us girls do all the work. I kept waiting for one of David's 28 mph intervals, but it never happened (not complaining). Jo, who is the most phenomenal female rider I've ever rode with, pulled us hard several times out to Keo. Then I took the initiative and pulled us for 8 miles on Hwy-165 back to Scott. I really didn't think I was going to pull the whole way back to Scott. As a matter of fact, I had to glance back to make sure they were actually with me and hadn't stopped for a flat. I didn't know why anyone hadn't passed me to pick up the pace? It was a tough pull, for me. I kept thinking I was going to arrive in Emerald City and see the wizard at any moment. I think I did when David said 1/2 mile to go. I realized at home that it was only about a 20 minute effort, after which my legs were almost completely shot, but maintaining about 20 mph into wind was not easy.

I was supposed to run 3o minutes after this ride. My toes were again completely numb. We've come up with a couple of reasons why this might be. Anyway, I was convinced that I should not run on numb toes, too dangerous. So, I got back to my van, changed shoes, and decided since I had to go to the bathroom anyway I would jog the 100 yards to the building and then see. Not completing the brick was just making me feel so guilty, especially since I'd already used the numb toes excuse last weekend. The jog to the bathroom didn't feel too bad, on my feet, so I went ahead with it and ran the whole 30 minutes I was supposed to. I have no idea what my pace was, didn't care, just made sure my HR stayed in high zone 1/low zone 2. Amazing, but my toes actually warmed up after 10 minutes into the run, much faster than if I had gone straight home. I guess the blood flow was a lot faster running than driving.

I had to stop at Vino's on my way home to refill our beer jug. I have been meaning to do this for the past several weeks when I go to town to ride and kept forgetting. Yesterday, I remembered. It was a hard decision, which microbrew to get, so I had to taste-test a couple before deciding. I have to say, they all tasted AWESOME after the workout I just had. If I hadn't been so sweaty and cold I would have sat down and had one, even if I was alone. I have a feeling my Saturday rides are going to end with a stop at Vino's more frequently now that Milan has realized how convenient this is.

This morning I had a long run with a 3 mile tempo finish. My legs were tired from the first step so I wasn't feeling too confident about how this run was going to turn out. I kept it easy for the first 10 miles, like I was supposed to, and then I kicked in my "tempo" pace for the last 3. It was hard, really hard. I kept thinking I couldn't do it, I'd have to stop, I would not be able to maintain sub 8:00 pace for the whole 3 miles. I had to keep fighting these negative thoughts. And one of the ways I did, was I told myself, "INO so HTFU". INO stands for "it's not an option". I read it in some book. I kept telling myself that stopping or slowing down was INO, so just HTFU. I just learned that acronym this week from Jen. I don't know if she created it or if it's been out there for ages, but I like it. I have a feeling I'll be thinking it a lot in the months to come. My acronyms today worked. I was able to all out sprint the last few hundred yards of the run and I reached my goal of the last 3 miles being under 8:00 pace (and at times I was way under 8:00 pace).

Wish I could say my morning ended relaxing at home drinking my soy latte (had to have a treat after that magnificent effort) and watching the CBS Sunday morning show, but I had to get ready for church. Milan goes to church EVERY darn Sunday so I have to make some effort to go, at least every other weekend. It just about kills me to put on heels after a hard workout, but when you're only 5'2" flats aren't much of an option for dressing up. I survived the two hours of being uncomfortable in my 1 and 1/2" heels. What was another 2 hours on top of the 2 I already had in my running shoes?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ironmom

I'm often asked, "How do you all that?" The "all that" would be: take care of two kids, go to graduate school full-time, and do triathlons. Typically, my initial feeling is one of guilt, especially when a "stay-at-home" mom asks me that question because I immediately feel as if she is thinking I must be a lousy mother neglecting my kids like that. My usual response is, "I don't know. I just do it." You know, it's not as if I'm the only parent in the house. There is a working dad and how many dads are asked how they manage to have a job and do triathlons? How many dads feel guilty? I find it's really, really hard to find balance being a mother. When I stayed at home I wanted to be working (not that there is anything wrong with staying at home, it just wasn't what I wanted), when I was working or going to school I wished I was at home more, but just not all the time. I've decided the best case scenario would be to work part-time, or maybe work from home where there is more flexibility. As a soon to be physical therapist I think I'll have the option to work as little or as much as I want because the profession is so flexible. I do intend to work full-time though, at least initially.

Going to school has definitely been challenging with kids because both are a 24/7 job. Even when I'm home there is something I should be reading or writing or organizing or planning. It NEVER stops! There is always something lingering over my head that I should be doing. Fortunately, now that I am in my third year of school and spending most of it on clinical rotations, I'm feeling a little more like a "working mom". An unpaid working mom, but at least when I get home at 5pm there is no other school stuff to do or think about. It has been a really long 3 years and if a mother were to ask me for advice about going back to graduate school full-time I would have a hard time recommending it. It's really hard to come home from class and have to think about studying, making dinner, giving baths, doing homework (the kids'), and getting them to bed, without letting myself go to bed with them, because I have to take advantage of the peace and quiet to study in! Typically, I don't make it past 9pm so whatever manages to sink into my head before then is it for the day.

How do I find the energy for triathlons? I'd say that if I didn't exercise and have something else to focus on I wouldn't be able to do everything else I do, or at least I wouldn't be as happy. Yes, sometimes the training gets to me and I get burned out (like last September), but for the most part I really need it. Training for IM Wisconsin wasn't so difficult because I was in class all summer and our schedule varied. For instance, we never had class on Fridays so that's when I did my long bike rides (that I didn't do enough of), by myself! We'll see how I manage to juggle what's ahead for IM KY while I'm working in the clinic. I guess what most people don't know is that I'm up most mornings at around 4:30am getting in a workout. Fortunately, by the time I get home (around 6:30) Milan has the kids up and dressed and eating breakfast. Sometimes Luka's outfits don't quite match or fit, but I try not to complain and just change him after Milan leaves :-) Milan leaves the house at 6:40am so it's usually a quick hell0/goodbye/talk to you later. I've gotten really good at showering and dressing in the least amount of time possible. Most days I have to get on the road as soon as the kids get on the school bus at 7:04. I surely don't worry about how good my hair looks or how much makeup I'm wearing because getting my workout in is more important. I feet SO much better when I work out.

I still have guilty moments all the time so whenever I meet another working mom doing these endurance sports I feel relieved. I do think that going to graduate school and being committed to an active lifestyle are good examples for my kids to learn from. Hopefully they will appreciate and understand why I do what I do one day. I also know that one day (soon) I might have reprioritize my life, as the kids get older and get more involved in their own activities, but I think I will always be able to participate in triathlons to some extent, or at the very least stay active. Maybe I'm selfish and think of myself too much, but I also think it's easier to take care of other people if I take care of myself first.

Having a supportive husband also really helps. He wasn't so supportive in the beginning, and that was when I was "just" doing marathons, but as the kids have gotten a little older they've been easier for him to handle, and let's face it, I've just broken him in :-) It also didn't hurt that he spent a whole year at home unemployed while I worked. That really gave him a much better appreciation for the stay-at-home mom. He wasn't cleaning and cooking dinner daily and doing all the laundry, but I wasn't going to push it. Playing with Luka all day and being the only dad at the library play group was enough to ask of him. It was a hard time that I hope we never have to go through again. It had a lot to do with my decision to pursue a better profession.

I found myself today with the luxury of sleeping in (until 5:30), being finished with class at noon, postponing my tempo run for this afternoon because I knew I'd need the extra fuel and energy for it (I sure did!), and having the time to just take my time! I wasn't rushed to get anywhere or do anything. What a nice change.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's COLD!

It was a cold weekend here in Arkansas, which made for really cold biking on Saturday and a cold run on Sunday. It was 19 degrees with an 11 wind chill this morning as I headed out to run. I didn't complain when I looked to see what the temp was in PA, 5 degrees with negative wind chill. Yikes!

Yesterday's ride consisted of 4 of us. Everyone else was smart enough to stay home on their trainer when they saw the temp at noon was 32 degrees and the wind was 16 mph. We went out and back to Scott, a little over 42 miles. The out was not nearly as bad as the back. My HR was up, but my speed was slow, and we were riding totally flat terrain. I might as well have been climbing uphill for an hour and 15 minutes since this is what the wind resistance felt like. Even with two pairs of wool socks and my shoe covers my toes were still dead numb when we finished. They were still numb when I got home and into the hot shower. But at least my legs felt better than they did the previous Saturday.

Now the positive - this morning's run felt great! Even in the cold, and even after several glasses of wine last night (it's amazing how fast your body metabolizes alcohol after a long ride). There weren't too many people out there on the river trail this morning at 7am. Considering the amount of clothing I had on, that I was carrying my hand-held bottle full of Gatorade in one hand, and that I biked at a pretty good effort yesterday, I think my run today was a success. I'm not complaining (for a change).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In the bubble

On most Mondays and Fridays, and sometimes Wednesdays, I am in the bubble - the pool bubble. I am really trying to like it, but it is a little hard to find the motivation to get out of a warm bed at 4:40am to immerse yourself into what feels like really cold water. The cold shock is almost always gone in less than 100 yards, but I usually tell myself I am crazy for doing this. Once the rest of the masters group shows up and there are 3-4 people per lane swimming back and forth with water splashing everywhere, I am happy to be part of this very frustrating and challenging sport.

Challenge. That's why I decided to re-join the masters group, along with knowing that I would need extra motivation to get myself to the pool during the mild winter months here in Arkansas. I don't particularly like getting my butt whipped up and down the pool, but I am realizing that the more I do this, the harder I push myself, I will and am getting better. I will overcome my fear of open water, I will swim continuously at the Ironman, and I will have swim finish times that are at the better half of my age group.

Flip turns. I have tried to get this thing down, but it's just HARD! With every lap I just think about how I am going to approach the wall. Am I going to have enough air in my lungs to get through the flip and to the surface? Am I going to hit my head? Are my legs going to make it straight over or am I going to kick someone or end up tangled on the lane divider? So, for ALMOST all of the workout I don't do it. The good news is that I am getting faster at turning around at the wall. I'm not stopping for an eternity to take the biggest breath I possibly can, as if it might be the only one for that entire lap (which I have been asked to do in certain workouts and it sucks!).

The workouts. I find myself chuckling often when I read through the workout. For example, on Monday the "triathlete" workout included, "9x100 on the 1:50, alternate fast and easy". OK, the words "easy" and "on 1:50" do not belong in the same sentence for me. So we began the segment as I eagerly volunteered for the last position (I was swimming with 2 other guys and 1 woman). Now, I do have to say that drafting in water is just about as good as drafting on the bike. Pulling water that is already moving is MUCH easier than pulling stale water. So we finish the first 100 and I thinkthat I'm not going to have any rest time. But I'm surprised, I actually have almost 10 seconds to catch my breath. I think I can do one more at this effort and that will probably be it. To my surprise, and a slight modification (we took a longer rest after each 3 100's) I made it through the whole 9x100! My arms were screaming, but that's OK.

I LOVE how I feel every morning after I have finished whatever workout it is I've done. When I'm driving home from the pool (in a big hurry) I am so thankful that I forced myself to get out of bed and that I have the rest of the day to look forward to. A day I will have much more energy and happiness getting through.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

You have to turn it to burn it!

My first outdoor bike ride of the new year was today, after not being on my bike for 2 weeks because of our trip to PA. Yes, for the past 2 weeks I have been doing indoor spinning in Pennsylvania. I enjoyed the spin classes so much I came back with a sweatshirt from the studio (The Sheltering Tree) where the logo on the back says "You have to turn it to burn it". I knew I wouldn't feel as great as some of the other rides I've had with the group, but I had NO idea it was going to SUCK as much as it did. Big mistake #1 was that I did "functional lifting" yesterday AFTERNOON. The routine includes lunges. Lunges ALWAYS make my legs and butt sore when I don't do them on a regular basis so what made me think I wasn't going to be sore today? What made me think I'd be able to hang with this elite group of cyclists not being well rested? Especially after not riding for 2 weeks! Dumb, dumb, dumb. And I was supposed to brick after! My legs were already bricks, from mile 1, I didn't need anymore "brick".

I had a bad feeling about this ride from the start. We didn't start until noon, which gave me the whole morning to mope around the house in my pj's while I tried to read a very wordy chapter on Professional Ethics. Just what I needed to put me in the biking mood. I realize once I get downtown and open my trunk that I have left my helmet at home. I immediately think I will not be able to ride, and initially I am very upset because this screws up my whole weekend training schedule. Then I get a brief happy thought that I don't have to ride, but that Jen will be very unhappy if I do that. Ride alone when I get home? So boring. When the group arrives and is assembled and I see who will be riding today I am a bit relieved that I've left my helmet at home. There were about 6 very lean and buff men and 4 equally lean women, 3 of which I know are smokin' fast, the other I had never met, but she looked fast too. She actually saved my ride and happened to have an extra helmet in her car. Nice girl!

I find out we are doing the "Batesville Pike" route. Initially I don't know what this route is, but I know it is not the flat Scott/Keo ride we have been doing. When I see we are heading north on the trail I realize we are going be hill climbing and going up Remount Road. I HATE that road. I decided it's called "Re-mount" because it's so steep that you should walk your bike up it and then re-mount at the top. This is the first of many times I get dropped by the group and I'm already feeling guilty. I'm thinking I should turn around and go back because I just don't have it in me today to push. My legs are already screaming.

To summarize the ride: I struggled, the group waited for me at convenient stopping points, I struggled again and got dropped, the group waited for me...etc. I felt horrible. Once we finally got to about 6 miles from town and I knew where I was I was relieved. I guess about 10 miles before that I just stopped caring. I decided I just had to suck this one up. I tried to think of the positive things of this crappy ride: 1) Be happy that the weather is so nice (50 degrees) and I can ride, 2) Even though my legs hurt they are getting a benefit from this workout 3) I'm so glad I found these incredibly fast people to ride with (if they still let me) because I would never push myself alone as I do with them 4) One day I'm going to be just as smokin' fast as the other girls, I have POTENTIAL!

Back at my van 2 hours and 23 minutes later the guilt of not doing the brick I was scheduled to do made me reconsider. I decided I would do at least 20 minutes of running, and that it would be sloooow, just like it was supposed to be and I wouldn't feel bad about it.

And now that I'm home and showered I can look forward to tomorrow morning's 1:15 run. I just better not tell my legs that's the plan.