Thursday, January 31, 2008

You know how, like...

You know how, like, sometimes you do so much swimming that you keep thinking about fishies and you somehow convince yourself that because your turning into a fishie you get to go out for a $50 sushi lunch even though you don't really have $50 in the budget for a lunch?


Me, too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Throwin' this out there

I just want to throw this out there.

I'm having a killer day.

And, frankly, aside from the horrible scab of a woman running water aerobics two nights ago at the pool who ruined my swim and day...ASIDE from her... I'm having a pretty killer week.

You know.

Cause last week's "rest week" was fabulous. And magical. And left me feeling rested and confident even with two LT tests thrown in there (like I wouldn't notice or somefin).

Cause my nice little doctor prescribed me a nice little pill called L*nesta that may be my solution to my NOTSONICE little issue with insomnia, that incidentally had an awful lot to do with my not so nice little habit of sleeping in instead of hitting the pool before work. But I digress.

Cause my body DID arise from the warm bed this morning (gasp) on time to get to the (gasp) nearly empty pool in which I swam a nice little set of 2300 drill and form.

Cause I managed to do -- for the very first time evah -- a length of the pool on one breath. And not just for kicks and giggles -- because the Elf told me to do it. (I may not have conquered all six of them, but I did conquer at least ONE.)

Cause my abs hurt. And my back hurts. And my hammies and butt. And (ironically) only one side of my groin. But they all a good way. In a "that functional strength routine sure makes you work" way. The good way way.

Cause I'm finally going to the grocery store tonight to fill up all of those empty spaces on the shelves of my poor fridge. Homemade veggie soup with toasted cheese bread anyone?

Cause I'm hitting my sessions and not feeling strained or overwhelmed or anything...which, considering this week at work, is a massive accomplishment.


(somewhat unrelated)

Cause I have already bought my wedding dress, hired a photographer, hired a DJ, rented a venue, picked out all my flowers, picked out my bridesmaids dresses, decided on the favors and a candy table and found some special touches for the wedding. Yeah. The one that's 10 months away. I freaking love doing things ahead of time. Planning rocks.

: : SO : :

That's all. Just had to mention. Today is good.

Thursday, January 24, 2008 know, cause it's catchy

I've been struggling a little recently. With my attitude. And I haven't totally figured it out, either.

I'm working on it.

So...recently I started to train my mind a little, in addition to my body. Here's why. I'm having a hard time naturally thinking about myself as an athlete. I don't feel compelled to run around all the time in jockette clothes and yelling out splits for my time from street corner to street corner.

No, it's more like I have to adjust my thinking to include the EMOTIONAL needs I have as an athlete.


:: pause ::

Athletes have emotions? Special emotions? Athlemotions?

Yerp. Apparently so. Who knew?

Here's the thing. We put demands on ourselves, as well as our bodies. Demands for progress. Demands for meeting expectations. Demands for consistency.

Essentially, if we were dating our athletic selves, we would be like, "yo, need to BACK IT OFF a little. I mean really! You're a littl' INtense, ya know?"

Or maybe not. But you know what I mean.

As athletes, we become emotionally demanding little cusses, always wanting to see weekly goals met, monthly goals met, target times, increased thresholds, personal bests. I know tons of people that don't even display that kind of attitude when it comes to their JOBS, as in the things that they are PAID to do every day.

And we track and compute and memorize and compare. I can tell you without consultation my average 100, the actual BPM when my heart rate goes out of the aerobic zone, and predict my heart rate in specific gear ratios on my bike (well, at least when it's on the trainer). And I'd have to admit that I visit my Training Peaks more religiously than I do my checking account online statements.

And it's not just that we obsess. We have no mercy. Don't meet an hourly training goal for the week? Otherwise valid reasons start sounding like raging excuses. Backing off of a bum knee for a day feels shameful. Shameful. We don't just feel guilt, we feel regret.

And, frankly people, sometimes we just get out of hand. Our responses to our own "failures" (to hit an interval, gain enough on your average pace, meet the week's hourly plan) become out of proportion to what it really means.

For me, I'm still learning how to manage this -- to curb my own propensity for self flagellation when I don't progress leaps and bounds or don't hit every mark.

CASE IN POINT. Two weekends ago. (and yes, this post has been sitting in "edit" mode for that shoot me.) Coming off of a hard week, my left knee started hurting. Not the usual aches and pains, and not just when biking or running. Like pain. While sitting. Sitting still. So I backed off. I DNS'ed a brutal trail run that I love because I thought it was less than wise to run on my knee.

And then I worried. And moped. And worried. And felt guilty. And then began to wonder (I kid you not) whether this would deplete the progress I had already made this month since it was the tail end of a peak week.

Because I'm a little crazy-like.

Because I'm invested in this and emotional about it.

And because I'm an athlete, which means I give a $hit about my body, my progress, my commitment.

Because I believe that what I do says a lot about who I am.

Because I'm a freaking athlete.

: : SO : :

ANOTHER CASE IN POINT. Last Thursday morning. In the pool.*

The day was a retest. Oh, my bad, let's be accurate. It was a RETEST. The Elf was back with the all caps again.

So, my technical goal: warm up 1000, 10 x 100 ALL OUT MAX EFFORT, ri:10", c/d up to 1000.

My goal inside my head that I don't mention to anyone before I hit the pool but I am really really really personally invested in? Shave 5 seconds off my average 100. Yup. I dream big. Five seconds off my average 100...which means feeling the burn and keeping the form for longer and harder than I did last time.

What do you think happened?

Three. Lousy. Seconds.

Off my average, you ask?


That's right. NO.

Three lousy seconds off of my total elapsed time.

Ouch. Take that, ego. Take that, inside-my-head-goal. Take that, plan.


Here's the million dollar question -- what do I do with that emotion? How do I manage it in a way that it leads to my progress rather than sidetracking my efforts?

It's hard! It's a challenge to not immediately think about hours spent in the pool and to wonder if I'm just not doing it right or not cut out to swim any faster. It's hard to not interpret the emotion of disappointment negatively, converting it into a conclusion. It takes effort to make sure I use the information in a positive way.

But, you know what?

We're athletes, so we're really, really good at that effort thing. We just have to make sure we make our emotions just as relevant as our splits. Because -- at least for me -- mismanaged emotional responses to training can immediately, do not pass go, no getting out of it, completely ruin hard earned progress.

You know what I mean. Ever miss a run because your knee hurt and mope about it over a pint of ice cream?

Oh, you so know what I'm talking about.

My point? We are going to have emotional responses to our training. Period. Get used to it. It's not wimpy or's a fact of life. And like all of those less then wonderful facts of life (um, hullo, saddle sores?!), learning to predict, acknowledge and process will get you ahead of the game.

So, I've added training my emotions to my list of swimbikerunstrengthstretching tasks each week. I suspect it will be time well invested...We'll see!

* Dude...catch that? The "morning" thing coming so close to the "pool" word? Yup! Me. In the pool. Before work. Small victory over my bed? Helz yeah.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hello world

:: blink ::

:: blink ::

Hello world. Nice to see ya.

Feel like I missed out on some stuff. We should catch up over coffee. What's that? Coffee? In my hands. Mmmmm. 'Nilla spice.


Let's see. When we last left the episode, I was exhausted. And vaguely hungry. But distracted by being so tired.

I tried to do a swim, but upon arriving at our gym found that everyone and their sister were swimming. Did you know that our pool has one lap lane from the hours of 4 to 8 during the week? Yup, that's one.* If we're lucky, it won't be the one with the mechanism to lower wheelchairs into the water, that tends to make the lane sharing a tad bit more awkward. We weren't so lucky last night.

So, I stared through the outside window at the busy pool inside and thought about taking a nap. I went in to get an extra copy of the schedule, walked back out, and again stared through the window, wondering if I could get a sense of how long the two people in the lap lane would be. Did they have lots of equipment? Intent looks on their faces? Bulging muscles?

And I thought about food and sleep and how good they would be. But I turned on my heel and headed towards the building again...only to change my mind one more time and pull a 180 and head back towards the parking lot.

The funny part? There was a completely full spin class watching all of this without my knowledge. All of it! All the indecision, the harrumphing, the getting of the schedule, the longing looks through the window.

Who turns the lights out in a spin class? Don't they know I can't see them through their window then? Sneaky bastards.

So, after suffering that embarrassment, I left and headed home, trying to talk myself into just doing the simple sit and spin hour on the bike. Seriously -- the easiest bike session the Elf has ever given me. And I couldn't talk myself into it.

I walked in my front door, grabbed a huge handful of almonds from the kitchen, and then buried myself under the comforter upstairs. I didn't sleep. I just laid there. Unmoving. Just breathing.

After a little while, M came home and announced that I was in no way, shape, or form responsible for dinner -- it was on him. I wanted to leap for joy, but had no energy. I mustered a "weeeeeeeeee" from under the covers and let him tackle the kitchen (a very rare sight, indeed) while I was just still.

A half hour later, there was steamed broccoli, baked chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes on perfect little plates. Love him.

And then I went to bed. At 7:45, I went to bed. I was sound asleep before long and now have almost 12 glorious hours of sleep tucked deep in my body.

Oh. What. A. Difference.

I'm wracked with guilt about not getting anything done last night, but I've learned my lesson.

Unless you take care of your sleep and eat what you actually need, not what you think you need, there will be hell to pay.

Okay, maybe 'hell' is over speaking the problem. But dang will you be tired.

* To be tooootally fair, I could and should go in the morning, when they have 4 open lanes just for us. I used to go in the morning, but then my sleep got all screwy and I got a little lazy and things got sloppy. I need to start that again. Like now. Ugh. Does it count if I say it in a footnote? It's sooo hard to get out of bed... .

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I'm tired.

No. Check that.

I'm exhausted.

Last night, Mighty M and I were at his birthday dinner and I honestly wondered -- out loud -- whether someone had put a sedative in my salad.

It's come to that.

I suspected clandestine doping via salad.

Right now, I'm practically falling asleep at my desk, even though I had no workout this morning and have had a delicious large Dunkin Donuts coffee in the wee hours and a cup of hot orange pekoe tea with lunch.

:: yawn ::

And yet, I am still exhausted. Like in my bones tired.

Here's the thing. I think I know, why I'm so dang tired. And probably the frequent instinct to nosh that I have. And the animalistic attraction to anything nearby that contains calories. Anything. Please. Feed me.

I'm ignoring the changes. I've just been waltzing through my days, following a solid training plan that has me doing intervals and power sessions and lifting and a whole ton of stuff I never used to do.

I'm burning a lot of freaking calories. I'm burning a lot of freaking energy. I'm practically a freaking pink bunny who wears her sunglasses at freaking night.

Yet, every day I still eat the same stuff and go to bed at the same time.

I used to be good at math. Clearly I now suck at it.

I'm simply not being smart. I have to start getting more sleep. I have to start bringing more food to the office. I have to start acting like I'm in training in all aspects of my life.

Tonight, I'm in the pool for an hour and then home for an hour bike. Then I eat my chicken and broccoli AND GO THE HECK TO BED.


Do not pass go, do not collect money to pay for your new cadence wire, and DO NOT stop in the home office to check your emails and read a few blogs or so.

Just go the heck to bed.


Recovery and fuel. Tag words for this week.

Recovery and fuel.

Pay attention, Able.

:: yawn ::

Is it nap time yet?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Trusting Words

Sometimes I love you is no longer enough.

You want to say more. Those tiny words, repeated at the end of phone conversations and in morning partings before work, begin to feel pedestrian, limp. "I love you." A phrase you could barely wait to use when you met, the only approximation you could come up with to describe the pounding in your chest you felt when you rounded the corner and pulled up to his house. A phrase that was so genuine and heartfelt that you passed it over, as if carefully wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a bow. Precious and rare. It articulated your heart beats and anticipation of simply being near him. It invited more, it allowed for 'just the same.' Accepting and caring, accurate and adequate.

But now the house is your house, too. And pulling around the corner is coming home, rather than coming over. And as weeks turned into months, and months to years, the unfamiliar became close and the new became reliable. And somewhere in between, there was a day when the words failed. There was too much more to say. Those same tiny words no longer conveyed how large your heart had grown, nor how your feelings had evolved. They were inadequate to describe what you felt when you watched him sleep, when you touched his cool head on the pillow and whispered goodnight. It bore no witness to how you trust his decisions, his judgments, his thoughts. These three words could barely contain a hint of the future you see in his eyes and how you warm inside when he laughs out loud.

And what do you do then? Do you find more words? Do you search your vocabulary for other ways to put it together and offer it up? What words would work -- are they many or are they few? Complicated and full of meaning, or simple and short?

Or do you trust? Trust that he sees it in your eyes, when you smile back from the casual glance across the table at a crowded dinner. Trust that he already knew, by the way you touch his head right before he falls asleep at night and walk arm and arm with him at the mall. Your needless calls just to hear his voice or the way you settle down around him, happily. Do you trust that he knows just how important he is from the simple gesture, when mere words begin to fail?

The words 'I love you' no longer reach the edges of what I feel for you, M. I hope that you know how very, very important you are to me. And while I cannot seem to find the words, I promise you a lifetime of little gestures to express my heart.

Happy birthday, beebie.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Why bother?

If you're anything like me, you're just learning about what benefits there are to training with heart rate zones. For me, I never used to use them because I never bothered to do the benchmark test to get the right zones. Everything seemed (and would have been!) silly without that.

So the HR strap and Garmin collected dust in the closet.

But, now that I'm working with the Elf, I've taken the steps to test myself and get those elusive zones. Painful? A little. Useful? More than I ever knew.

But seriously...

...what's the point?

What's it all about? Why bother?

If you've ever asked yourself that in the last day or so, maybe...then check out this article on the Multisport Mastery website (Elf's company). It makes an awful lot of sense to me!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Thought you'd like to know,

Last night

I made that stability ball

my bitch.

(And I didn't cry.)

Both are Good Things, even in Martha's book. And I bet she does know about being someone's bitch and all, what with the prison thing.

Sorry, Mart, just sayin'.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Gear Me Out

With the advent of all my new fun training adventures, I've decided to do a little investing in me.

Okay, it didn't take too much convincing. I'm good like that. What? Invest in me? Sure! All for it.

First and foremost...I registered for some events. The Brandywine Valley Duathon is the first big scheduled item on the calendar, plus my return showing at the Mountaineer Half. Good thing I got those (lousy) $2 discounts on Active! This year, Mighty M and I are staying at the fancy hotel for the Mountaineer in Morgantown, WV. Last year, we stayed in a bit of a - um - flea bagged place. I didn't mind, but that's mainly because I was busy racing and all. Lesson: Gots to Think of Your Sherpa.

This year, M, we're in the fancy digs. I'll stock the fridge with Diet Pepsi's and you keep your eye out for pros in the lobby, okay?

Recently, I've taken to rewarding my efforts in the pool with fun play toys for -- you guessed it -- the pool! I have a brand new set of funner-than-i-thought-they-would-be paddles. I replaced my see through suit from Target with an honest to goodness SWIMsuit from Nike, with a cool matching cap (which incidentally ROCKS compared to the hair pulling latex ones). I also rewarded myself with a new gym bag that (GASP) didn't have a broken zipper and resistant attitude about getting the heck into my locker already.

And, according to UPS tracking (what ever did we do without this before??), en route from Phoenix, AZ is my brand new pair of Zoomers.

MY FIRST FINS, thankyouverymuch.

I know, I'm excited, too.

Retail. Therapy.


Along with said Zoomers, there will be a nice little Aerokit for the bars on my (ahem) new (but not named yet) bike. Ostensibly for fluids and food, I dare say the tv remote looks like it would fit snugly in there, too.

I've also added a set of 5 and 12 pound hex weights to the collection and a 4 pound godforsaken medicine ball, although the ball is technically part of an arsenal, not a collection. A fancy illumiNITE jacket to keep me safe and some long underwear (but you wear them as outerwear and nobody knows it) to keep me warm. Thanks Santa!


It occurs to me that my "hobby" may be a wee bit of financial liability to my future marriage.

Nobody mention a thing to Mighty M. M'kay?

Belly Up

I cried.

For the first time in my training, I cried. In a sniveling heap of exhausted, frustrated, and defeated form. Even my reflection in the mirror leaning up against the basement wall said the same thing.

Balled like a sissy for about two minutes.


God damned knee ins. To be specific, the stability ball knee in exercise. Or my third ring of hell.

I've made a goal this year to increase my overall -- and especially my core -- strength. No chance of winning if I'm a squishy mess out there on the bike. If I don't get the chance to be small, I'm at least going to be strong.

So the Elf has added what's needed -- two big sessions a week of strength and ab/core work. And my session last Friday reduced me to tears.

Give me a weight and I'll lift it. Give me a count of crunches and I'll do 'em. Even give me a plank time and I'll grunt my way through it.

Give me a stability ball and I'll look like a monkey humping a greased football.


When you don't have a lot of upper body strength (yet), then it's hard to keep the top of your body up properly so you can focus on your legs. When your core strength is in the range of pathetic (so far), you can get easily distracted my your legs that continually come crashing down on the carpet, pointedly on your sore knees. Oh...and when you can barely find the "stable" button on your stability ball (yet) and you struggle to get through 5 of the assigned 20...

...well, that's when you find yourself on the floor, rug burned and crying.

Defeated. Deflated. Disappointed.

I was an instable ball of D's.

Mighty M heard me from upstairs and came down to help. He told me to get up and show him what I was trying that made me cry. So I did. And he helped me by spotting my legs so I could finish a few of the reps without crashing down. And he encouraged me by counting out loud and forcing his words through my disappointment.

I didn't get all 20. But I did get a set of 5, then a set of 8, and then 5 more.

You see, for the first time in a while, I wasn't very good at doing something. In the past years I've gained at least a passable proficiency of all three sports -- just hand me the gear and opportunity and I can swim, bike and run.

And I got a little complacent with that.

So when I was going through this strength session and encountered something that was so far outside of my comfort zone, I didn't know what to do. All of a sudden I couldn't, and I wasn't used to that. I wasn't comfortable being crappy at something.

So I pitched a fit, just like any 34 year old adult would do. (Right?)

It ended quickly, but it was a great lesson. I can't forget...

This is going to hurt.

Getting better isn't easy or everyone would do it.

New skills must be acquired through pain and effort.

It's been a while since this has been really driven home with me. Perhaps it's because I want it so much now. Perhaps it's because I'm getting better in all the other avenues that I'm becoming blase about my own abilities.

There is a silver lining, at least. Last night I returned to the carpet in the basement for another hour of lifting, crunching, grunting and balancing on the ball. And I still struggle with anything that requires me to be balanced. But I'm getting a little better. And I suspect that will continue, as long as I keep going back, regardless of rug burned elbows and bruised knees.

The Elf calls it eating the pain. And I guess that's what's on the menu for this winter. Time to belly up at the table and get some grub.