Friday, December 28, 2007

Of Finding Passion and Risky Behavior...In the Pool?

Unlike many, the swimming part of triathlon didn't terrify me. I was more distracted by the running distances, since I knew they were far flung from my normal plod-around-the-local-U that I was used to.

But the swimming made some sense to me. First: get in the pool. Second: swim freestyle (or some approximation thereof) for as far as you can muster. Third: get out of the pool and try not to trip on the way back to the locker room.

Easypeasy, right?

Ah, the chuckles I get from this.

Because OF COURSE it went nothing like that. When I first started swimming, I was an awkward ball of nerves, with my attention closer on whether the suit I was wearing made me look like an idiot and whether I was going horribly slow compared to the person next to me. The senior next to me. There was a lot of thrashing and meaningful, serious glances at the big clock on the wall.

At first, I was following a plan that was focused simply on distances. One day would have a 200 warm up, 3x200 at "moderate" pace, some kicking laps, and a cool down.

Looking back, all I can think is...boooooooring.

It wasn't a waste of time. I think if you asked any coach, they would say time in the water isn't wasted time, especially at the beginning of your relationship with the pool. So, my pace started getting better and my confidence in the pool certainly increased. I stopped pulling at my bathingsuit and started wondering what a pull buoy was. And soon, as the road began to lead to Ironman, I started working off of plans that were more intricate -- special drills focusing on form and finishing ladders "on" certain numbers. I started wearing a watch to the pool and feel more in command of myself there.

It was all very exciting and I was building some strength in the pool.

But still, I wondered whether this was really what turned people on in the pool. I read a lot of bloggers posting about killer workouts they had in the pool and I didn't really feel like that. Don't get me wrong -- the days when I would top off 4200 yards in one effort were amazing. I don't think distances like that will ever get old.

But I was bored with my work there, and it showed in my effort. I would cut things short or skip cool downs. I just didn't have my heart IN it anymore. Nothing was new to me there -- it was just a different combination of numbers that I had to get through so I wouldn't drown at my next race. I had plateaued on my times, and was at a loss as to how to get faster. So I maintained and slugged it out.

Recently, though, I've found a new passion for the pool. And this has lead to some risky behavior. Or maybe it's reversed. Let me explain.

It coincided with my coach entering the scene, but it wasn't just because of the Elf's influence. It was because I decided that I would start challenging myself in all the three disciplines this coming year.

I would start actually pushing myself in a way that had escaped me before. No longer was it about getting through the distances. I had already felt what 2.5 miles in the water felt like, I already knew how loudly my knees screamed on a half mary trail run, and how my tail end threatened secession after the 90th mile on the bike. For some reason, I think I needed to get those experiences out of the way first.

But it was time for a challenge. CHALLENGE, in all caps.

So part of my goal to challenge myself for '08 was to pick a coach who was creative, enthusiastic, and very experienced. Well, duh. That was the easiest part. But then to follow each and every thing she told me to do.

So. I did the dolphin kick drills when she told me. I figured out what "IM" meant and became less afraid of each of the strokes. I looked up what drills were supposed to look like on and mimicked what I saw. I watched youtube vids over and over again to see exactly what the hand was doing at every point, what the elbows look like. I went out and got myself my first set of paddles and figured out how to use them. I learned to kick without a board to develop balance and I no longer get water up my nose when I'm backstroking (although I do tend to bump into lane markers when I'm not paying attention!).

They are all little things. All little things.

But they are making a huge difference for me in the water. No...I'm not fast yet. I'm not swimming IMs in the local swim meets and, no, I still don't impress that one guy who comes to the pool and effortlessly swims 10 stroke freestyle lengths.

No. But there is a major difference now.

I look forward to swimming. I get excited when I have a cool set in the pool with something new I've never tried before. Now I finish my collection of 2500 meters in my little lane and wonder where the time went. I kid you not.

Everything I do in the pool is looked at in a new way. No longer do I slug through 6x300s at a "moderate" tempo (what the heck is "moderate" anyway?). Now my 300s are a mixture of paddles and polo swimming (with your head out of the water), sighting practice, and different breathing patterns.

And I've actually done the dreaded FLY public...and lived to tell the tale. Had I not tried it, I never would have known what a great core workout it was, nor would I have used those other back muscles that get left out when all of the freestyle fun is going on.

But more so, had I not tried something so far out of my normal routine, I never would have felt like a swimmer. Like a real, honest to goodness swimmer.

Each time I hit the water, I have a goal. Often I have something new to try, or at least an interesting combination of skills I already have. And I never leave bored or wondering why I even came.

All because I decided, with my coach, that this was the year to try something new. To push the envelope and really sculpt myself into an athlete.

I used to be an athletic person who participated in a lot of athletic endeavors.

Now, I consider myself an athlete. Because pushing limits is what athletes do. And that's what I do now.

So...with that said...I thought I'd include an example of one of my workouts, prepared by her majesty, Queen of the Elfen forest. Even though I no longer make my specific workouts public (it's the Elf's work, after all!), I think sharing this may inspire others to get out there and try some new things in the pool.

Wed, Jan 2

Warm Up
300 swim
3 x 100 kick (50 dolphin kick on back no board, 50 free kick with board)

Drill Set
10 x 50 Distance/stroke drill (count strokes for first 25, drop 1-2 for return 25)(ri:10)

Main Set
4 x 400 on 9:00
#1 - swim freestyle, every 4th length done as backstroke
#2 - swim freestyle, every 4th done as FAST
#3 - pull with paddles, breath every 3 for first 50, every 5 for next 50, repeat
#4 - swim with flip turns* OR streamline kick off of each wall push off (hands clasped, tucked between arms, and KICK to flags before taking first breath)

* see? this is what I mean. I've never done a flip turn. Alright...not since I was, like, ten years old. Next Tuesday? I'm doing flip turns. No matter how intimidating they are, I'm doing them. Scary and fun, all at the same time. Like scun, or fary. Or whatever.

Cool Down
200 swim easy

It's not as scary as you'd think and the rewards are HUGE! Go, try it, be creative. Take a risk. I promise it will be rewarding!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ah, the holidays


There you have it.

My holiday season is. Done. D.o.n.e. Done. Whew.

What a whirlwind!

Leading up, there was much running to and fro for this perfect gift here and that matching wrapping paper there. (Yes, we match our paper...shut up!) And the food making and packing, oh my! My work is very busy right before the holidays because community partners will 'adopt' our client families and I coordinate this process. Heartwarming? Yes. A complicated mash of preferences, schedules and questions? ABSOLUTELY.

By the time I made it to Williamsburg, I was exhausted. But happy. And the holiday was full of cookies (AND MORE COOKIES SO MANY COOKIES OMG THERE WERE SO MANY COOKIES!) and family and nosogreat eating and ...

... well ...

not as much training as I had hoped for. Ah, well. Hopefully one week worth of fledgling activity will not undo all the work of November and December.

But tonight, it's back on the training wagon with a trip to the pool for a killer set, including a fun looking 100-200-300-400-500 ladder that will keep me busy. I need to make a point to write some more about my swimming, because I'm really (REALLY) enjoying it and actually (gasp!) getting better!

For now, though, I'm focusing on the half emptied suitcase in the living room, making my training on time and doing well, getting some actual food in non-cookie form into the house, and cleaning up the inevitable holiday mess that happens when you take three days off from the office.

Onward and upward, my friends!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


My father always said that when I was younger, all I ever wanted to do was to grow up. Be older. Move on to the next step.

And it was true. As a teenager, I longed for the freedom and release of my college years. When flexing that independence throughout college, I saw my young twenties as a time when the world would take me seriously and I would gain respect from those I respected. But my twenties became easily distracted and I was frustrated by its lack of predictability and reliability, something I was convinced would be found later...possibly in my thirties and plausibly through higher education and marriage.

My Dad was right -- much of my life has been spent looking forward to the changes of the future, with the unavoidable implication that I was unhappy with my present. And often I was. I was awkward in high school and desperate in college. My fabulous partying self of my twenties took a toll on my self esteem and rolled my growing addiction up into a tight ball in the center of my psyche. And as I transitioned to my 30s, I was growing uneasy with how disparate my actual life was in comparison to my expected life.

I longed and sought to replace. I looked forward instead of sat still. I was unhappy for many reasons, but sometimes it was simply my inability to be happy that circularly argued for my own conclusion of ineptitude.

I remember most of the New Year's celebrations during these years. The ones I spent in Hamilton with my college and townie friends. The ones that brought me to wonderful parties in New York apartments and smokey cabarets. The ones as the hostess with the best hors d'oeuvres and biggest glass of wine. And even the ones with broken heels and expectations, stuck in cabs at the witching hour with casual friends and empty kisses.

And, like many, I thought throughout those nights of my hopes for the next year. For sudden slimness and acquired control over my own prosperity. I, too, longed for the heart exploding joy that rings your ears with a solid note and leaves your life indelibly changed. I would fashion my daydreams of my life together in a woven fabric that defined what my personal success would look like for those 12 months.

Such an exercise. Such an exhausting exercise.

It is exhausting to forever be looking for the next goal and the next definition of want and need. It's tiring to be always a little unhappy or a tiny bit ill at ease. To never feel like here is enough. Like right now still needs work before I'm okay with it being right now.

Because that moment always passes well before you can craft it perfectly and it is never to be attained again. In your eagerness to be prepared and ambitious and right, you manage to let the here and now slip away.

And much of this, for me, had to do with being well. Many of these years I simply wasn't. I didn't have the tools to cope with the tragedies at home. I was ill equipped to recognize my own deconstruction until I was in pieces. I needed help and I got it, but until I was able to I was in no place to do anything but hope for something else.

But now is different.

I don't need the New Year. Go ahead and take it. I don't need to cleans or evaluate or re-evaluate, for that matter. I no longer have that urge to wonder what it will be like and how do I get there and why can't I have that (blank) right now.

Because I'm there. I have a full heart. I have a peace about my own life. I have the here and now, so my urge to plan and prepare for the future has ebbed. I still manage the details, but no longer at the expense of my own experience.

My future still holds more for me. It holds a marriage and children. It holds new homes and new jobs. It will likely hold loss and illness, too. But I'm not captivated by those eventualities. I look forward to my future, but I no longer spend my present looking. I spend my present living. Here and now. With my love, my work, my family.

So enjoy your New Year's resolutions. Find empowerment in them. Find an articulation of your own wants and needs. Resolve for connection and achievement, purpose and motivation. Plan, if necessary. Plan in detail and bright colors if you can.

And maybe, just maybe...resolve to not resolve. Plan to not plan. Make your immediate future about your own immediate. Allow the next thing to be new to you. Allow the now to become familiar before time steals it away. Slow down and breathe.

Define your "one day." And then just let go. Because your one day will come in its own due time.

And you will never see it at its clearest when it is still on the horizon.

Eclipsing The Lists

Christmas has eclipsed my existence for now. In the form of lists.

I make lists on an hourly basis. There's the list for the gifts purchased and wrapped. The gifts outstanding. The schedule this week for where and when I'll buy the things on that second list. There's a list of groceries to make cookies for the office and what to pack for my trip down south.

The lists are on 5 x 8 cards on my work desk. They're jammed in my driver's side door pocket, with an attached pen for good measure. They're folded in my purse.

Oh. There are Lists. They are everywhere. But such is the holiday.

So far, this is the strangest Christmas ever for me. My father has moved from our family home of 20 years (in our home town of 35 years) to Williamsburg, VA.

Beautiful at Christmas, but a god awful long trip away.

So instead of our normal holiday festivities in our normal home with the normal good cheer and heart warming feelings, I'm packing everyone's gifts Thursday morning and driving for 8 hours to a brand new home. Erg.

We're going to have to make it our job to craft some warm and fuzzy moments in the new house. Pronto.

This year, Mighty M and I decided to not put a tree up, which has made me a bit sad and kind of curmudgeonly. There was simply no time to get it up before it was time to attend our relocated holiday down south. No sense in having a tree up in an empty house, right?



You can see why I'm a little grumpy.

BUT. It's still the holiday and I've been exceptionally blessed with not one, but TWO great families, so I'll stop my grumbling about a tree and the travel.

What I have found that will eclipse the list making and taking and stashing is training.

Training is the answer, folks.

My big weekend last weekend was almost shmushed by the holiday spirit, but I managed to wrangle my BIG brick on Sunday out from under the wrapping paper and broken tape dispensers.

And I know I've said it before and at some point I'll just shut up about it, but having a coach plan my training is like the best present EVAH. A year ago I would have done the brick like this...

Sleep the night before would have been marginal, at best. Why? Because I always knew in the back of my mind that the next day was stoptional. If I stopped wanting to do it, I just wouldn't do it and fashion some reason why I skipped out of the training ether.

But when I would do a brick, I would pop on the bike, put it in a gear that was a challenge but tolerable for a long time. And then go...just in that gear...for the whole time. Period. Almost as boring as this post is.

And then, hop off for a run. Likely I would slug it out with sloppy form and focus on the distance and time, rather than the quality of the exercise.

Afterwards, I would feel accomplished but achy, likely because I didn't hydrate properly during and was working off of an "eh" diet. I may have finished a long session, but I didn't really build my engine all that much.

It wasn't the worst training in the world -- I built some level of fitness with that time -- but it was far from smart. And I want to be smart. S.M.R.T. Smart. So, with the Elf's help, now my training is a little more like this....

I wake up from a full night's sleep because I know I'll be doing the brick the next day and I know there are few excuses that count anymore. And, yes, I hem and haw about it for a while. Just getting a coach did not make me a training angel -- sometimes I still have hours when I bounce around the house dreading the impending pain. The big difference now is that I don't barter with myself on ways to skip. I just bounce until I give up and justtrainalready.

I hit the bike with good nutrition in my belly and hydration for the ride. (In fact, this is a newly acquired habit after I saw the crazy increase in heart rate for rides that I would do without fluid. Who knew my little basement would cause all that sweating!?) On the aero's, I have a detailed sheet with my tasks -- warm up for 30 minutes with some spin ups thrown in there, 20 minutes in a big gear @ 90 rpms, spin it out, 20 minutes in a bigger gear @ 85 rpms, spin it out, remaining in small @ 95+. You get the picture. An hour and a half of solid work.

I hop...I mean the bike and take the transition seriously. Why? Because I want to make sure my legs have the benefit of as many bricks as possible. Why? Because I want to win next year. Nothing fancy like age group, but I want to win. And PR. And I do that by not messing around in my basement doing transitions in December. PERIOD.

Then it's time for the treadmill. I watch my heart rate carefully, because I have zones to stay within today. It means changing up the intensity when my ticker gets a little excited. It means slowing to a walk by the end to make sure that I stay in my proper zones. It's NOT about the mileage or the pace. For this brick it's about other things.
So, that's what my Sunday was like. And I lurved it. Every moment. And for that lovely 2 hours, I forgot all about my Christmas-tree-less living room covered in wrapping paper bits. And I forgot about the tapped checking and savings account. And I forgot about the Lists...the many, many lists.

You gotta love training during the holidays!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


My back hurts.

Not my upper back, just the lower. Kind of in two vertical columns where others have muscles. Apparently I have them, too, cause they're calling me dirty names right now.

What? You can't hear them? That must be because my calves are drowning them out with their own cries of complaint. This time it's the tops of my calves, not the bottoms. Keeps things interesting, ya know.

And did you know there's a weird muscle that's right near your armpit? Not technically in your armpit, just right in front?

Yeah. Me neither.

Until today.

Last night I lifted for real. Go figure. I have lifted in the last month, but it has been the slooooow easing into anatomical adaption phase type of lifting. Some here, some there, just ease yourself into it. And when your coach, who also writes in ALL CAPS, says "ease into it"... you tend to take the "ease into it" just as seriously. It's a sanity thing.

Sometimes I got to do my routine at home, which is fantabulous since it means I don't need to hang out with the university meat heads (sorry, but it's soooo true) after work. They're fun and all in a predictable sense, but I had enough of that in college.

But the at home lifting pales in comparison to the gym. And last night the gym hit me.

Some casual observations...

I don't know which Roman created that chair, but he should be taken out back and shot. In two repetitions of 25 shots with a rest in between for good measure.

Swapping out the pull down lat machine with a fit looking guy is fun and empowering, until you have to move the pin from 180 lbs to your 30 lbs. Harrumph.

Planks in public should be banned. Period. It's no good for the planker nor the plankee. It just ain't pretty.

That back extension contraption looks harmless enough.

Calf raises can make even the studliest calves cry. Never ever underestimate those three little inches of motion. Ever.

Aleve is your friend. And if it's not yet, send it some flowers and a nice card, cause you're going to need it soon.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not doing "reps to failure" or any crazy thing like that. I'm sure that ring of hell is waiting for, say, February.

But my body is only now starting to wake up to the idea that muscle strength is tres importante. And to get there, hitting the weights will be part of my mo. And soon it will be less of the "omgomgomgomgomg" refrain and more of "wow, maybe it's time to add another 5 lbs" going on in my head.

But until then, it's planks in public and muscling around with muscle heads in my future. And don't worry about me...I'll be able to stand up straight again soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I seem to have contracted something.

I may have picked it up at the pool. Or somewhere on my handlebars of the bike. Could it have been in my stinky Asics?

Or maybe, just maybe, in that pile of athletic gear in the bottom of that special hamper in the guest room.

But I definitely caught something.

I'll tell you how I know. Just now I was typing away on the computer in a nice little email to the Elf, trying to convince her to let me double up on sessions this week to make up for a sick day yesterday. Who does that?

Me, apparently.

You see, I've been jonezing for this week.

9 and 1/2 hours of training.

BIG swim sessions, labeled as sets that "real" swimmers do. Intervals on my runs for the first time using my new zones. Efficiency drills on the bike and -- dare I say it -- a big solid brick to cap it off on Sunday.

I've been waiting for this week to start the moment it was posted up on my Training Peaks account. And yesterday I was stuck at home sick. In bed. For hours upon hours. Bored by 9:30 and brain dead from television by noon.

And tonight I was in the pool and -- even though I asked before I touched the water where I could swim uninterrupted and I was careful to check the schedule ahead of time [I'm just saying!] -- I was unceremoniously bounced by the obnoxious coach of the tiny tots learning backstroke.

And now I'm itching. I'm feeling PHYSICALLY ANXIOUS that I can't go get back in the pool tonight to finish the set. How's that for all caps! And I'm already packed and ready for tomorrow's adventures. And I've already cleared the schedule for the rest of the week's needs, moving holiday shopping out of the way of running blocks and making sure tree trimming doesn't conflict with the brick.

For all of the training I have done in the last three years, it wasn't until now that I have contracted it.

The itch. The itch. The one that renews your vigor every day and let's you dream of strong strides across the finish line. The one that lets you appreciate feeling like you can go forever even after an hour in the pool. The one that just sits there under your skin so you never need any reminder why you love to train.

You just do. Because.

Just because.

And I have it, under my skin and it itches. In such an amazing way.

Did ya miss me?

Okay, folks.

I'm back.

And even though I'm sure that I have only, like, three people who still read my blog, I kind of miss writing here. Not that the vacation hasn't been fun...cause it has.

But, for the sake of my future marriage, I think I should blog again.

Cause Mighty M may just kill me if I don't.

No, don't get me wrong. He doesn't READ this anymore...nah, he gave that up a while ago. I could divulge his deepest secrets here and he have no idea until someone randomly came up to him and pointed accusingly at a race next year.

No, it's more like I talk too much. WAAAAAAAY too much. And now it's not just about triathlon. Now it's about weddings AND triathlon. And Mighty M is breaking under the pressure.

So I'm going to need to get some of this out in blogging again. Beats payin' for therapy.

So. Things I've been meaning to say and haven't yet....

(1) I've decided that swim paddles are like cocaine for pool rats. The moment you put them on you're bigger, faster, stronger, and will nevereverever stop swimming. The down side? The moment you take them off you have T-Rex arms that barely drag you down the lane any faster than a sea slug. Paddle hangover, I guess.

(2) Cadence is all relative. All relative. When I started up with prep for my 2008 season, I thought 95 rpms as a "warm up" for 20 minutes was some crazy fast nutty stuff I should only do on the trainer outside of the watchful eye of the public. Now? 115 and I are friends. FRIENDS. Go figure.

(3) Single legged drills? Still suck.

(4) I've decided to get my own custom designed shirt for racing next year. People tell me all the time that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I'm an open book. (Apparently, I'm also a walking metaphor.) So I've decided on the coolest of coolest designs for a new custom race jersey. I'll reveal it dramatically at a later date. As in the later date when I have time to just put the graphic into electronic form. I'm a weeetle slow like that.

(5) I've decided to take my writing to a new level. I had a very sad loss recently -- a friend who I will dearly, dearly miss. And in my sadness, I have been searching for a way to manage this loss and convert it to something useful, for myself and others. I don't do many things well, but I know my way around a paragraph. So I've decided to turn sadness into words in a big way. A very big way. More to come for this, but it has been on my mind for weeks now.

(6) I'm still training...a bunch. My coach has been building me up slowly from the bottom and I'm starting to feel -- really feel -- the change in my confidence levels. I'm simply stronger in the pool and stronger on the bike. My running comes easier, too. And that's never happened before. I always tend to have one hiccup each week that messes with the schedule, but I'm being really good about sticking to the plan. And it's paying off. More to come on that, but it's all good.


(7) I'm still getting married. (YEAH FOR ME!!) I'm still in total bliss and gush over Mighty M each day. Our future is so full of hope and joy, I can barely contain my excitement. It's exhausting, of course, finding the right place and managing the budget. I mean, who knew that photographers were that much money? My budget is good on some things and baaaaad on others. We'll figure it out, but the planning is an emotional minefield. So far, no major explosions...well, there was that one, but let's just not talk about it. Cause WE'RE GETTING MAHWEED!!

Okay, that's all from here. More thoughtful, non-bulleted writing to come. But for now, just know I'm back and thinking up crazy things to say here while Mighty M absorbs every second of televised hockey at his disposal.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Time for a training update to keep me honest.

This week's joy?


Doesn't that sound fun? No? Not even a leetle beet?

Yeah...I agree. Here's how it played out.

First -- The Swim Test. This consisted of a nice little warm up and then a series of 10 100s in a row, with a rest of 10 second in between. Sure, why not? Sounds like fun, right?

Hell in the form of binary numbers.

The description my coach put in the Training Peaks file indicated I was to go ALL OUT on this.


Until this point, I never really knew what swimming in all caps felt like. Turns out that the first 100 is terribly empowering...the second and third made me feel strong and fast. By the time I hit the third, I was starting to feel the burn and get a bit sloppy, but I WAS SWIMMING IN ALL CAPS so there was no stopping me now. I was in it to win it and I wanted more.

Fourth 100? Starting cussing out my coach. The fifth and sixth were a blur and by the time I made it to the eighth, I wondered if I could actually drown in the Y pool while SWIMMING IN ALL CAPS. Seemed entirely possible at the time. The ninth was the looooongest four lengths of my life and the last one was like running the horse back to the barn...I just tried to block out the pain for only a wee bit longer.

Whew. Swim Test #1 down. Baseline numbers on the books. Now I have zoooooones to work with, no longer my two speeds of (1) swimming, and (2) standing at the end of the lane staring importantly at the clock.

I have zones now. Booyah.

Results: Avg 100 = 2:03

Second...The Bike Test.

This one I was smart about. Do it in the morning, so you don't worry about it all day long. Good advice, self. No ruminations on the impending pain. Just get up, wipe the sleep away from your eyes and kick your own ass in the basement while everyone else is sleeping, cozy, in their beds.

Again, the architecture of the pain was the same. A nice little warm up, nothing you can't handle. Spin away for a 1/2 hour and get lulled into submission by CNN's morning loop of news stories. And right when you're starting to feel good, clear all electronic devices and start anew.


Again with the all caps, dammit. Twenty minutes HARD. Don't blow up in the first 10 minutes, but remember this is supposed to make you cry by the end. So I kicked my own arse in the name of fitness. Pushed hard in my biggest gear for 20 minutes, dripping well earned sweat all over the floor and watching the slow minutes tick away.

By the end I wanted to punch the tv and fall on the floor in a heap. But it was done. I BIKED IN ALL CAPS and made it out the other end alive.

And, again, I'm now armed with zones. Actual zones that will make me faster. Booflippingya.

Results: Avg HR = 157, Max HR = 169, Avg Speed = 26.5, Dist = 8.8 miles

Third...The Run Test.

This, my friends, it my personal ring of hell. I don't like to run. (GASP!) Check that...I love to run, but I'm not very good at it so things get challenging for me earlier than most. My bulky bod and bad knees weren't really made to run. Maybe roll large boulders, but not run.

Do this test was something I dreaded all week long. I have never ever run in all caps. Ever. So the thought of running ALL OUT for 20 minutes was foreign to me.

Twenty minutes.


And when I woke on Sunday morning and found it was sleeting out and I would need to do the test on the treadmill...well, my hell clearly came monogrammed with my name on it.

But my coach told me to do it and I do what she says. Period.

The first 20 minutes were sooo nice. Just jogging along for a warm up at 15 minute miles. Do, do-doooo. Sooo nice. And before I knew it, it was time to put your seat trays up and prepare for take off. Clear all electronic devices and put your bags under the seat ahead of you.

It was time to run. IN ALL CAPS.



People, it sucked. That was the hardest 20 minutes of my entire life. You have no choice on the treadmill. You just push. And push and push and push and push. Until you almost fall off the back and you're completely covered in sweat and you are huffing and puffing like the nutjob that usually runs next to you at the gym. And then you look down at your watch and you see that you have no less than 12 more minutes to go.

And you cuss your coach. And you cuss yourself for having this ridiculous idea to get faster and stronger. And you cuss your boyfriend who is still sleeping in lower case upstairs. And you cuss the news anchor on tv, even though you can no longer hear him over the din now being created by your own personal treadmill hell.

The treadmill's pitch screams just like your lungs. But you can't slow down because you're RUNNING IN ALL CAPS this week. And your coach promised you it would be worth it. And you really hope it will be.

And then, magically, before the puking's done.

Finally, testing is done.

And after cooling down and drying off, I wandered upstairs and found Mighty M sitting on the couch with his mouth in a big "O" looking at me like I was mad.

"Geeze, hun. You were really booking down there!"

Yes, hun, I was. I was training in all caps.

Result: Avg HR = 179, Max HR = 185, Dist = 2.11 miles