Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Drill(ing a massive hole in my head)

Last year, my triathlon season was ALL ABOUT FUN.

Fun little 1000 meter jaunts in the pool. (How cool am I? Can you believe I just did that?) Long bikes out to Lancaster and back, through pretty farm country and at my own pace. (Those first hills are hard...good thing they're not all the way...) And a slow, but sure, gradual increase in my jog. (Yes, my jogs.)

Ah, yes. Triathlon bliss.


Enter Ironman Year...stage left.

(blink, blink)

I totally expected the volume increase. I TOTALLY got that. I even expected the higher frequency of sessions -- two sessions a day? Bring. It. On.

But I didn't expect the drills.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Last night, I had two drill sets for the bike. Okey, dokey folks. No problemo. Just hop up there and get my game on. And I did for the first one...I made it through just fine, but good grief was a sweating. Oh. Yeah. Pounding away like my run intervals...feeling a tad bit studly. So this is what they were talking about! Alright, I can do this.

So, time for a little one-legged spinning. Yup, I'll just unclip this one here...and, um...okay, there...I can balance it right up, yup, right there. Okay, round and


Um, it seems that I CAN'T SEEM TO GET MY LEFT LEG UP AND OVER ONE LOUSY CYCLE!! No. It can't possibly be this hard. I can't possibly be this weak. No way, Jose. I must be doing it wrong.

(Um, how could I be doing it wrong? Come on, bonehead. You turn the pedal in a circle. A circle. Come on...try it again.)

So I grunted and groaned. Sounds came out of me that were NOT HUMAN. I finally realized why they sell sweat guards for your trainer. My hands started cramping because I was gripping the aero pads for dear life. And I cussed. Cussed like a trucker. Cussed like a trucker who got six flats in the middle of a snowstorm in a cell-free zone.

I herked and I jerked. I slowly started to find a rhythm (nowhere NEAR the true definition of rhythm). I focused and watched my way through each stroke until I had some semblance of a cadence.

And I did 20 minutes of 30 counts left, 30 counts right, 30 counts left, 30 counts right.

And. So. On.


People, I'm cool with admitting limitations. I bring self deprecation to an art form. I don't even take compliments all that well.

But I hate not being able to do something.

And now I'm pissed.

I'm pissed at drills. I'm pissed and they should know to WATCH THE ** OUT. I've got your number, you bastards. I'm going to take you to task ever single chance I get. I'm going to intervals and closed fist drills and one-legged spins and step ups until you bleed or I fall down...which ever comes first.

I've got your number.
I'm coming

Monday, January 29, 2007

Week in Review

Okay, kiddos…here’s the dirt.

Some modest disappointment with my volume last week, but there were some key workouts accomplished and I think it was a perfect time (in retrospect) to scale back for a recovery week. I think my body needed it. And maybe my head, a little, too. No dramatic breakdowns, just a stressful week that I didn’t allow my training to make an emotionally disastrous one. And a nap on Sunday...not usually my m.o., so my body was saying something.

And, you know, (and this is totally an aside, but I think many of us grapple with the problem) I really believe that training hard or fulfilling your schedule’s plan when other stressors are begging your attention doesn’t pay off in the end. For me, at least, if I feel like I have to force a session in, I find the workout is always sub par and I mildly resent the process.

Here’s the numbers

  • Actual Time: 6 hours 00 minutes
  • Swim: 1600 yards
  • Bike: 26.8 miles
  • Run: 16.63 miles
  • Strength: 1 session

Impression: light on all, but no one discipline suffered. There were a couple of important things that went down last week worth mentioning…

1) Money, money, money!! I was just ridiculously excited when we got our first contribution last week for the IM Able/Canine Partners for Life campaign!! A massive THANKS to Iron Jenny for taking the lead and making a wonderful contribution toward the work CPL does. And if you haven’t yet made it over to the charity site…GO THERE!! This organization does truly amazing things every day.

2) Garmin – I finally (!) got my Garmin software downloaded to the junk PC we have in the basement. (I’ve been fully converted to a Mac at home thanks to Mighty M’s persuasion and, in their infinite wisdom, Garmin doesn’t think it’s a financial priority right now to push their Mac software through the pipeline. Grumble.) I was actually a little disappointed in the interface – I thought it would be a little more fancy looking. Ah well, we can’t all be fancy. ;) It was fun looking at the elevation changes for my hills session and my bread and butter 5K in the neighborhood. Beeerie interbesting…

3) A new convert?? The scientologists would be so proud of me…I think I managed to spread the triathlon bug to a friend of mine, Beanie!! (Hi, Beans!) We had brunch at the diner from The Blob – no, really, this is right down the street from my house! – and I brought all my fanciest colored triathlon books and a couple starter books with beginning plans. And somewhere in the really fun three hour brunch, we managed to squeeze in a little tri talk. In fact, there was a guy who was sitting behind us who saw the books and asked about them. Turns out he’d done a triathlon a long time ago. How fun.

4) Key workout – Hills. You know how great it is to find that perfect route that fulfills one of your training needs…and it’s right around the corner? Yup, I founds me’z some HILLS!! There’s a beautiful easement near my home and it turns out to have some really good hills to train on. It’s just shy of a 2 mile course and has two 50-75 ft inclines that are pretty steep. All I know is that the first time around I couldn’t finish either one without stopping to walk, so this will be a great challenge for the future!

5) Key workout – Swim Time Trial. I’ve never done this before, and it was really informative. (Go figure!) Turns out that my average was about 2:23/100 meters, once my aged brain figured out the math. I’m going to work this in every four weeks or so to see how my speed progresses. I thought I was swimming faster, but turns out that I was just picking the wrong times on which to base my sets. My only concern was that this TT was during a week that I kind of kicked my own butt in the weight room and felt it for the rest of the week. A possible influence? Maybe, but in a way, who cares.

So, the plan for this week? This will be my embarkation to BASE LAND! This week is Base Week 1 and will include the six key workouts you would expect – an endurance and a power/speed session for each sport. I’m still working on how to plan the week so that I don’t set my schedule up for failure. There are just some things I can’t seem to fit in without some serious hurting going on. For example, Monday morning anything. My sleep is so completely messed up on Sunday nights that attempting to do an AM session the next day will never work. Why bother to pack the bag? It is, of course, still sitting in the guest room…now waiting for tomorrow. So, time for a little reality to settle in.

Oh, yeah...and posting more!

Be well, guys and gals!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Week in Review

With all of the excitement about the new website (what? you haven't been to the new website?! for shame...go there now...I'll wait), I forgot to do a week in review!

So, here goes it.

First: the numbers...

Actual Hours: 7:30 Planned Hours: 8:00 Swim: 1750 Bike: 65.8 Run: 14.89 Strength: 0:30 m

Last week was prep week two and IT FELT GREAT!! I was a little disappointed in my first week -- missing some sessions and being off the projected time. So, I was really pushing to get through the workouts and not push them off unless I had to. As always, I learned many things...

1) Strength training is STILL my weakest commitment. I know that I need this to improve power. I know that I need this to help support my knees and other joints, protecting me from injury. And I know that the AA stage is crucial. If I don't do this now, then I'm asking my body to do too much in the later months reserved for things like getting speedy. Now is the time. Carpe weightum...or something like that.*

2) Trying to run in Zone 1 is nearly impossible. Zone 2 should be reserved for inside, out of sight of neighbors or other friendly runners. Lock the doors, pull the shades, it's time for a recovery run. Backwards.

3) Heart rate zones. Gadgets are fun. Learning to use them is funner. I'm slowly starting to get some good readings from various runs to hone in on my true run and bike zones. I have a couple of sessions set up this week to help me -- a 1000 meter TT to find my average 100, a 30 minute moderate run to find my LT heart rate (according to Big Papa Joe), and a 30 minute ride (again under the tutelage of Big Papa Joe).

4) Missing a workout sucks. I'm almost more motivated to get through all the ones scheduled for one day just so I don't have to go through the trouble of figuring out when to do them later in the week. This week -- watch out planned hours! I've got YOU in my radar!

5) My fancy new knee brace has been a life saver. Just what I needed. I've had minimal (really...like almost none!) pain and been able to do 1:30 on the bike after 1:15 run with no problemo. Kudos for whoever thought this thing up! (Btw, I've been wearing it above my knee, not below, like in the picture.)


6) Finishing a strong workout makes me feel like a stud. Finishing a strong workout with intervals makes me feel like a super stud.

That's all from here. Now go check out the new website!!!

* As I type this, I'm pleased to say that I've already knocked off one session this week. I'm certainly sorer for the effort, but good grief it felt great! One more to go and that goal is accomplished.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Congratulations...IT'S A WEBSITE!!

I can't tell you how excited I am.

I am busting out of my britches with excitement and pride, and maybe a little dash of quiet relief. After many (many!) moons of talking about "the charity website" being in production, it is finally finished.

In all its glory, it is finally purchased, put together, and published...but maybe not totally polished yet.

Getting it off the ground took some wrestling with the hosting company as to the design application and a failed purchase of the domain on their part. It also took me some time to learn a completely different language (i.e., html) and MS Publisher, which has opened up a cool new techy world for me. Plus, there was some time to pull together the cool graphics for the banner (which I have to give proper kudos to Mighty M for his wonderful logo design) and the really fun bumper stickers and tee shirts to come.

Eeeeeeeny way...

It's DONE!


So, when you have some time between now and your next workout, please visit www.im-able.com, the new home of the IM Able charitable endeavors. I would love to hear your suggestions and ideas about the site.

Right now, though, I'm as proud as a peacock and can't wait for everyone to see it.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Week in Review

Here's the low down on my first training week. I definitely enjoyed being back into a regimen, even when it meant facing down the cold pool in the morning or the hyper distraction of my 90th minute on the trainer. (Good grief, Shannon...3 hours on the trainer! You have the patience of a monk.)

Here are some of my reflections:

1) I'm not very good at estimating. I'm over estimating my swim times (based on projected meters in the set) and underestimating run times. So my actual vs. planned is a bit off, even though I was meeting my planned sets. Ah well, it'll shake out.

2) I have to FORCE MYSELF TO DO MY STRENGTH SESSIONS. I had the grand idea of being able to do an augmented set at home, but that doesn't really work. So, I have to force myself to make these sessions at the gym.

3) I must not have pushed myself at all last year. I say that because I've been able to retain so many things over the off season, with zero effort. For example -- last week I was swimming 100s in the 2:10 - 2:15 range. Not great, of course, but also not that far off from my training times last year (2:05). And that was my first swim session in months. Conclusion? I have the chance to get much faster this year, folks. Watch. Out.

4) Intervals are fun. I threw a couple of hard 5-minute segments into my long ride on Sunday and it was a blast. My cadence was high (125), my heart was pumping, and my legs were feeling it. What a total blast!

5) I need a new bike. I hate to say it, but it's time to sell something of value and save every penny. Now that Banana is up on a trainer and I'm not distracted by, say, drivers and road kill, I can really tell that it's set up for touring and not tri-ing. Upright is comfy. In the drops is not. Aerobars are awkward. But more importantly, is I am clearly losing power when I'm in aero. The bike is bouncing all over the place when I'm in the aeros, but smooth as silk when I'm upright. I'm reaching out way too far to even reach the bars and when there (because of the reach) I'm bouncing my thighs on my front. It's all bad. I've been eyeing up the Equinox 7 WSD at my local store. Maybe I can find a good one used and sell Banana...

6) BE FLEXIBLE. The future in-laws came over on Saturday for Mighty M's birthday celebration, bringing with them the most adorable two year old that ever lived. In-laws and bricks don't go well together, so don't even try it. Even Sunday involved helping my Dad out with the holiday decorations. So, be flexible. Morning run + afternoon family + evening bike. Not ideal, but certainly doable. No worries.

Okay, the totals.

Actual Hours: 5:28
Planned Hours: 7:30
Swim: 2900 yards
Bike: 44.57 miles
Run: 10.07 miles
Strength: 0.00

This next week includes the same pattern...2 swim, 2 bike, 4 run, and 2 strength (approx. 7:45 hours). I'm hoping to do the Chilly Cheeks on Sunday, but won't be able to tell until mid-week how my knee is responding to the new brace. We will see.

And I'm out!

Is it lunch time yet?

Okay, so I'm at work and posting since it's lunch. But, frankly, in my world...it's always lunch. Or dinner. Occasionally Linner. Often Brunch. More frequently Breakfast.

I apparently have a tapeworm.

In fact, I was flipping through the channels last night (ridiculously late, which is a completely different post...specifically my inability to sleep on nights when I should be crazy tired, to the point of fall down exhaustion, but watch bad tv endlessly to no avail...but I digress...) and saw a show about medical parasites. This guy had picked up a tapeworm. Possibly at a tapeworm store. I don't know. He didn't mention that part.

Anyway, he had literally found the end of this said worm and started pulling. A lot. Apparently he picked it up a while ago. He kept pulling and pulling until it wouldn't go anymore, then his (VERY LOVING AND UNDERSTANDING) wife snipped it with scissors.


Double ew.

Recently, though, I think I managed to pick up one of these unlikely guests because I am clearly hungrier than the average hippo. Could it be the extra time training? Maybe. I think it's a guest worm. A guest worm who, I've affectionately named TYR. I think it may be appropriate.

But, TYR doesn't seem to mind my training schedule and I don't mind craving almonds at 11:30 at night. As long as he doesn't start bouncing rent checks, I'm happy he's here. Bring on the pasta, baby.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Just another Thursday

Okay, it wasn't really a big mission -- 1050 meters before work. But this morning was the first morning when I rolled over and looked at the clock (beepbeep, beepbeep, beepbeep) at 5:30 and thought...oh, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, GO AWAY AND LET ME SLEEP!

It's dark out there. It's warm in here. I'll do it later. It's only a swim session, I'll make it up over the weekend. My head hurts. I'm tired. It's going to be cold in the water. It's even going to be cold in the locker room. Good grief, is it snowing?

And, you know what? It was dark out. It was warm under the covers. My head did hurt and I was tired. The water is always ridiculously cold in the pool. Right, right...and right.

But wrong, of course.

All excuses. Ugly, posturing excuses.

No listening to the procrastinator who takes up shop in your head over the wee hours of the morning. No listening to the excuses -- squirming to find and form a reasonable reason to hedge, quit, short-change.

I learned all about that.

Just do it, stupid. One step at a time and before you know it, you'll feel better. These nagging thoughts will be replaced and forgotten.

You know, Mighty M was asking me the other day how my first IM training sessions have been, the trooper that he is. And, upon reflection, I realized they felt like an old hat. Easily recognizable, sometimes awkward, always reliable.

I don't know if I expected some major revelation to happen this month -- the sky to open up and some great truth to reveal itself to me. I guess so many of the wonders of the sport and the preparations were really peeled back and illuminated for me last year, it's hard not to expect a second coming. Triathlon was a shiny new object, sparkly and beautiful, even in the toughest moments. There was something profound to be learned at most junctures because most junctures were firsts. First distances, first falls. First finishes and first personal bests. Novelty can be a novelty, in and of itself.

I guess the real revelation that I'm landing on now, through the process of planning such a big year and engaging so many people in the process, is that it is terribly satisfying to flex my metaphorical muscles. Flex my reliability. Flex my commitment. Even flex my enjoyment in the unpleasant side of the process.

These were not qualities that I made great use of before -- or arguably even had in my repertoire. But now, that pre-dawn conversation is predictable and almost amusing. Even my sluggish and foggy mind remembers what I used to say and why, and why those answers are no longer relevant. I no longer rob myself of time nor opportunity. I no longer accept meager excuses to cloud meaningful goals. I just don't do it anymore. Each day is important and no one day will do it alone.

I have felt deep and painful regret. It is destructive and has no place in my plans anymore.

So, grinning knowingly, I quietly switched off my alarm and slipped out of bed. Grabbed my lunch from the fridge and gym bag by the door, and headed out to scrape off the crusty windshield. It was Thursday, my swim day. Gotta get moving before the lanes fill. Just one more day to fill my coffer. One more day when I can be proud of my little moments of integrity. One more day to have the gift of time to craft a meaningful life. Just another Thursday.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


There is usually one or two things that I forget on my way to the gym in the morning.

I plan ahead by packing my bag the night before, thinking about what I'll be doing there and each step of getting ready for work in the cold, somewhat sterilized environment of the women's locker room at my local Y. I think about how cold it will be on the way there, my goggles and cap, and whether or not I'll want to wear jewelry during the work day. I try to remember the round brush for my hair and deodorant for my coworkers' sakes.

And, of course, I always forget something. Frankly, it's usually two things. Not three...just two. Sometimes it's really important (e.g., skivvies...let me tell you...INconvenient to say the least!) and sometimes forgettable (perfume).

Today was my first day back to pre-dawn swimming and -- although I spent my usual preplanned walk-through last night -- I forgot two things. Today, though, they were kinda funny.

First: my winter coat. You roll into the Y in darkness, you can get away with an over sized hooded sweatshirt over your suit. Hood up? Nobody cares. I don't think I even bothered to brush my hair. But it's the real challenge is to remember that it's just as cold when you leave afterwards as it was on the way in and somehow the sweatshirt does not translate over to the Ann Taylor skirt and sweater set. Still working on that one.

Second: how to count
. Yup, today I forgot how to count. Laps, that is. I *know* that I warmed up with 200 breast stroke. That I know for sure. And I'm pretty confident that I correctly counted the first 200 free right...I think. But then things completely went awry. For some reason, when I'm counting my 775th meter, I realized that I was counting wrong.


Sometimes I have stupid for lunch. Today, I apparently had it for breakfast.

The good news is that rather than having done 800 free, I probably did more like 1400. Because for some reason I was convinced that each lap was 25...rather than each length.

You know...it did seem like a long set.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I just peed my pants

When you're the craziest ones in a room full of nuts, this is what it looks like.

PS -- I will NEVER, EVER look at the American flag the same way again. Neither will those people in the window, I bet.

Local Yocals Swimming with the Sharks

This is really for the local yocals from Philadelphia/NJ/NY. The Sandy Hookers Triathlon Club puts on the Long Branch Sprint Triathlon Series each year. I haven't had the chance to get out there for it yet, but I'm planning on doing just that a couple of times this year.

I've heard good stuff about the series and the race managment. Plus, it's a GREAT way to get in open water ocean swims for a tiny fee. And, comm'on. We *all* need to practice our open water swimming.

The race dates are July 1, July 29, Sept 2, and Sept 30. If you can't drive there, consider taking the train -- the race site is apparently 1 mile from the Long Branch Train Station.

If you know of any regular open water swims (ocean or otherwise) definitely let me know. The more swim time out of the pool, the better!


Bring it ON

Well, I'm back. From vacation, that is. I discovered something very interesting last week. Here I was, enjoying a bonus vacation week granted to employees at our office for the holiday. We are very lucky in that regard -- our office leadership truly believes in the balance of work and home lives, and supports everyone in keeping a healthy respect for each.

Vacation it is. Use it, or lose it.

So, I was off for the whole week. The beginning was really fun -- sleeping in, working on personal things, killing Christmas by packing up all the decorations, getting through financial tasks that were languishing on the ToDo list. All good.

Then Wednesday hit. And I got antsy. Really antsy. I don't think vacations and I get along. I seem to only operate well when there isn't enough time, when I'm being pulled in many directions and I have a daily schedule to follow because I *need* one. When I have all the time in the world, I simply waste it.

Ah, well. Know your limitations, I guess. :)

So, I'm just tickled to be back at work. I love my job, so that makes it much better, of course. And, since we are mere months away from IMmoo...it's time to start smackin' out a little training!

You can check out what's on the docket for this week on my TrainingPeaks public site. That will be my go-to site for tracking all of my training, and where I will ultimately have my formal plan posted.

This week consists of four runs (including one run off), two bikes, two strength, and two swims. I'm heavier on the run frequencies because I feel like that running may warrant some special attention, due to my persnickety ITB. If all goes well, I'd like to sign up for the Chilly Cheeks trail run on the 21st. They throw such a great race, but we'll see.

(By the way, although I could never count it as real training, I wasn't completely idle last week. I was very pleased to find that I retained more muscle strength than I originally anticipated. My strength sessions didn't leave me bent over with soreness and I was actually doing more reps than last year (since this is AA an all). That was definitely a pleasant surprise.)

You know, I'm actually very excited for a lot of things this week -- solid training, back at work full time, and a full schedule. Yeah, there will be a point where I link back to this post and rue the day I wasted extra time and looked forward to a full schedule. And, yup, that day maybe tomorrow.

But for now, bring it on Life.

Bring. It. On.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope EVERYONE had an exceptional new year's celebration that was everything they expected. Mighty M and I enjoyed a wonderful night together of delish food (shrimp cocktail, filet and strip steaks, fresh veggies, and raspberry ganash cake...mmm) and new movies. And thanks -- we gave lots of thanks for this past year. I gave thanks for the dating gods for finally pulling me out of purgatory and introducing me to M, for the advent of exercise and health in my life, and two happy and healthy families to enjoy. Very, very good things.

And I DID do the GYGO triathlon...well, at least I gave it my best shot. Even calling ahead of time to check the Y's hours for New Year's day didn't work. I got there excited (and, to be honest, a little nervous) for the first swim of the season and the whole place was dark. D.A.R.K. And a little creepy. Not a soul around, except the teen in the pool area cleaning the pool. Well, I guess that means that today's swim will be extra enjoyable!

Never fear, I did come back to and knock out 15.8 miles on the bike. It felt great, of course! I missed my 'Naner, but don't really miss the sore butt that comes with the beginning of a season. Ouch! M was a trooper and -- with a bit of a workout agenda of his own -- he ran the mill of dread at the same time to keep me company. Now, if he could only keep all the sweat from his bald head ON his bald head...then we would be in business!! ;)

Then my mushy legs and I headed out for a run in the 'hood in the pouring rain. I would normally say yuck, but it was great. I missed running! My knee started yelling at me early on (mile 1.5 or so), and so I mixed in some walking, too. I will have to be very, very careful with (1) my running mileage, and (2) my bike to run bricks this winter. I also want to bring my bike into Andy to get the float checked on my pedals and do a full fit. I suspect that I have too much float in the pedals and that's aggrevating my knee. Andy will know.

Okay, well, I'm on a little VACATION this week (love.my.job) and will have lots of things to post and lots of updates on training. Take care, everybody, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!