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A Shot in the Arm

June 3, 2011 Fitness 2 Comments

After nearly two months of living in pain, I finally went to the doctor for my shoulder injury. I haven’t been swimming or done arm-based exercises since May 1 and things just weren’t improving. Immediately following the fall, I had a lot of pain in the front of my shoulder. That has subsided for the most part and the rear deltoid is now in pain most of the time. I can already tell I have lost a lot of strength in this arm as a result.

My biggest concern was making a go/no-go decision on competing in Barb’s Race on July 30. I was worried that swimming freestyle would further injure the shoulder and cause permanent damage. Sure, I could dog-paddle my way through a 1.2 mile swim in the Russian River, but I wouldn’t want to put myself through that misery. So, it was time for an official diagnosis and treatment plan. As I mentioned in a previous post, my hope was to get a cortisone shot that would alleviate the pain enough to allow me to train and race. What did the doctor have to say?

Diagnosis? Acute rotator cuff impingement, obviously a direct effect from the fall I took on April 9.
Recommended treatment? A cortisone shot! And then physical therapy.

I am under strict orders not to get in the pool for two weeks to allow the shot to work its full magic. After that, “we’ll talk,” but he said swimming for six weeks leading up to the race won’t make things worse or cause permanent damage. I was glad he understood my motives and is willing to be lenient with me on the treatment plan.

Have you ever had a cortisone shot? This was my first and I couldn’t help but notice the thickness of the needle. He sprayed a cooling/numbing product on my shoulder and then went to work. I’m not squeamish about needles, so it wasn’t that bad. The general area burned for about 2 hours afterward, but I went to bed feeling good and it isn’t sore at all now.

This was just the shot in the arm (!!) I needed to fully motivate for the Half Ironman. We booked a vacation rental house and plan to make a mini vacation out of it. Up next is a trip to Sonoma County to pre-ride the race course. I hope to see my college roommate while I’m there. Both of us Iowa girls have made our home in Northern California!


700 Miles (and WWW: May 1)

May 9, 2011 Fitness 1 Comment

I am participating in May is Bike Month with my tri club and have pledged to ride 700 miles this month.


That’s a lot of miles in 31 days. What the hell was I thinking?? Well, I was thinking that I rode 324 miles last May and I didn’t even sign up for MIBM until the 15th… So, I figured I could double what I did last year if I made it a priority right off the bat. Sounds reasonable, right?

Also, we are planning a bike trip down the California coast later this month. We’re not doing the Tour of California, but we are hoping to retrace a portion of their path! I think that trip should give me about 200 miles, depending on the weather and the route we end up taking. Highway 1 is closed past Big Sur, so we may have to cut the trip short. Either way, the views should be fantastic and it will be great endurance training for my upcoming Half Ironman. I need to increase butt-on-saddle time now that Wildflower is behind me.

It’s a good excuse to think twice about driving to run quick errands and/or to visit friends. I logged 95 miles in this first week, 30 of which were errand-running excursions. It’s a heckuva good workout riding with a 30-pound backpack filled with groceries, let me tell you!

Are you up for pledging to ride more this month? Make a commitment and share it with me — we can cheer each other on!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: 1.5K swim + 40K bike + 10K run
Monday: OFF
Tuesday: 15-mile bike ride
Wednesday: 14-mile bike ride
Thursday: 5-mile run
Friday: 26-mile bike ride
Saturday: 15-mile bike ride + Bodyrock.tv

Empty Threats? (and WWW: March 13)

March 20, 2011 Fitness 1 Comment

It was another lackluster week for me on the workout front. At this point, I am threatening myself to get a refund on Barb’s Race. I have absolutely no motivation for my first (and shorter) race on May 1. The thought of a Half Ironman on July 30 makes me want to vomit. What it does not do is make me want to train harder.

My running is going well. But I didn’t swim or get on my bike even once in over a week.

What is happening to me?? (this may or may not be a rhetorical question)

Weekly Workout Wrap-up: March 13

Sunday: Tracy Anderson

Monday: 60 minute Spinning + 60 minute strength training

Tuesday: 3.25 mile Track Attack

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: 8-mile run

Friday: OFF

Saturday: Skiing (10 runs)


Early Onset Burnout (and WWW: March 6)

March 13, 2011 Fear, Fitness 2 Comments

Here we are at the beginning of March and I am already tired of the weekly workout grind. When the idea came up, I jumped at the chance to join Greg in Tahoe on Friday/Saturday. I worked hard both days tackling black diamond runs, and my legs definitely got a workout! It was a nice change of pace and left me almost anxious to get back to the Bay Area for a bike ride. Win!

I can probably talk myself into believing that I am fit enough now to compete in an Olympic distance tri and perform reasonably well. I hold myself to a very high standard and that is a double-edged sword. Sure, I’m dedicated to my training and make no excuses to miss a workout. But I fear I may have hit it too hard too soon based on my level of burnout already. After Wildflower, I’m running Bay to Breakers and I already signed up for Barb’s Race — a half Ironman — on July 30. It’s not like I’m going to be taking it easy this summer… This weighs heavily on me.

Is anyone else doing any of these races? It’s the 100th running of Bay To Breakers (and my first time)!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: 45 mins on StairMaster

Monday: 30 min swim + 18-mile bike ride

Tuesday: 60 minutes yoga + 4.0 mile Track Attack + 4.25 miles run

Wednesday: 2300-yard swim

Thursday: 21-mile bike ride

Friday: Skiing (10 runs)

Saturday: Skiing (12 runs)


Insert Obligatory Year-End Post Here

January 4, 2011 Favorites No Comments

** I know this is posting on January 4. I was having too much fun in Tahoe to get this updated earlier… **

Enough about what I didn’t do in 2010. It was a pretty monumental year (they all are, really) and it is fun to marvel at the great life I have and the cool stuff we do. I make it a point every day to be grateful for what I do have and not focus on the lack.

So, as a blogger, here’s my obligatory recap of The Year 2010:

I added a new “sport” in January: yoga. I’m still lukewarm about it, but I can tell a big difference in my flexibility and my ability to shut my head off (most times). I even set a mini goal to be able to get into and maintain a headstand, which I accomplished by September. Core strength is my weakest link and I continue to be reminded how critical it is for everything fun I want to do.

I participated in a swim clinic with the El Dorado Hills Tri Club in February and it changed my triathlon life. Completely unrelated, The 5th Annual Sisters Trip with my mom, her sister, my sister, and sister-in-law-to-be happened mid-month. We traveled to the Russian River Valley and rented a cottage there, drinking copious amounts of wine and pretty much peeing our pants all weekend. I’m not joking about that last part. We brought Depends. We used them.

Training started in earnest in March and continued through April in preparation for Wildflower. We made our last trips to Tahoe and otherwise I settled into a rigorous training schedule, including track workouts to build running speed. Even knowing how effective they are, I hate track workouts and am dreading them already.

May brought with it the first race of the season – Wildflower!  It was a fun triathlon and, as always, we had a great time hanging with the Santa Barbara and Kansas City friends at Lake San Antonio. It was my first Olympic distance tri and I learned that I really enjoy that distance.

I spent June preparing for my big race of the season on July 4 – the Half Ironman in Vancouver, BC. We try to travel internationally at least once a year, and this trip counted towards that (although it kind of feels like cheating). The triathlon was a big success and enough selective memory has kicked in that I’m anxious to sign up for another one. I’m even kicking around the idea of Ironman Canada in 2012.

July was pretty epic, all things considered. We took a week-long vacation to/from Canada for my race, then came home and got ready for the Vineman 70.3 that Greg participated in. Barely recovered from that, we packed up our bikes and headed to Iowa to ride RAGBRAI. I stayed in Iowa several extra days hanging out with my family in Okoboji.

The last half of the year was a whirlwind. I participated in an all-women’s triathlon with Caryn in August, then Greg and I did the Oyster Race for the second year in September. In between the two, we installed a synthetic lawn by ourselves. And don’t forget the biggest and worst news of the year — Argus’ cancer diagnosis in October. I did a 9K race in November, followed by a half marathon. I thought that would be my last race of the year, but my mom planned a family scavenger hunt in Lenox over Christmas. My team – The Devious Elves – won!

I went for my last run of the year on December 31 and loaded the data into Garmin Connect because I’m OCD like that. Just for fun, I ran a report for the full year and came up with these stats:

Activity Count: 258
Distance: 4000.7 miles
Time: 354:27:39 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 204,896 feet
Average Speed: 11.3 mph
Average HR: 136 bpm
Calories Burned: 263,998

Pretty impressive! And this doesn’t take into account my swimming workouts… or the days when my Garmin was lost during RAGBRAI… or the number of fear calories burned. It also does not count the number of glasses of wine consumed, which is probably a good thing!

What a year!


The Rest of the Story

July 22, 2010 Family, Fitness, Food, Friends, Fun 1 Comment

While I didn’t love listening to talk radio in the car as a kid, I learned to perk up when Paul Harvey would provide a factual tale with a twist at the end. Here’s the rest of the story of the Vineman Half Ironman. Can you find the twist?

Greg is pretty much a triathlon machine and a man of few words, so there won’t be all the belly-aching about training and emotions that you got with my race recap. Since I’m writing it and this blog is about me, it’ll mostly be about what I felt about his training and what I felt about his feelings.

WHAT?! You’re still reading?!

If you are, good news! Of course, I’m just kidding. This is a story about a great event and the fun you can have as a spectator. After reading this, I’m sure that everyone will want to go next year! Triathlon is not a quintessential “spectator sport,” but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to prove the average spectator wrong on that front.

You might remember me talking about Mike Kidder from Kansas City. He’s the one that talked me into doing a 70.3 in the first place… He and his wife Melanie came to town as well as our friends Mike and Nancy from Santa Barbara. Mike Kidder was here to participate in the Vineman triathlon (the other Mike completed his 70.3 in Kona in June). Our friends Mike and Tiffany joined us from the Bay Area as well. We had a full house of Mikes, competitors, and spectators!

Mike & Tiff were kind enough to offer up FREE accommodations in Occidental, which we promptly accepted. The three cottages on the property were exactly what I had expected — rustic and secluded. The environment was quiet, tucked away in the trees between the coast and the real world. Melanie and I enjoyed a vodka drink at our house while we packed everything up, then made it through a bottle of pre-made sangria I had picked up from Whole Foods while in the car — and all before hitting the Russian River Brewing Co. and dinner in Santa Rosa. You might call it spectator training for the big event! In the cottages that night, we enjoyed good wine we had brought from home, served out of coffee mugs that were available in our cottage. Melanie and Mike were on Kansas City time and she was the first to, shall we say, “retire” for the evening.

We woke up in a coastal fog on Saturday morning and it was quite chilly. The rest of the gang went in to Occidental for breakfast while I went for a 5-mile run along a less-traveled road through the hills and trees. Kidder and Greg packed up their gear for the transition from bike to run (this is a two-transition course) and we finally headed out for packet pick-up just as the sun was breaking through the fog. This is the 20th Anniversary of the Vineman event and a record number of competitors were registered (remember that I couldn’t get in?). We must have hit the Expo area at the right time — or maybe wrong time, as it was in the heat of the afternoon — because it wasn’t packed. We milled about there and made our way down to Johnson’s Beach so that the guys could splash around in the river they’d be swimming the following day. The rest of us proceeded to snack and drink and soak up the rays, just as we’d be doing the following day… It was a great day on the river!

Knowing that there’s often too much to do on the night before a race, I had prepared a big roasting pan of chicken parmesan ahead of time and brought along “homemade” pasta sauce, pasta, and enough fresh CSA greens for the whole crowd to enjoy on Saturday night… but then our crowd grew, and the oven didn’t work, and we all just conceded, “Let’s go out!” We ventured back into Occidental and settled in at Negri’s Italian Restaurant. Dinner out with a crowd of 10 takes longer than you want it to and we didn’t get out of there until after 10 PM. As usual, the guys still had a bit of race prep to do before setting their alarms for a 5:30 AM wake-up call. The night before a race is never what you want it to be.

Race day! We were up early and despite the sunshine outside, I was in a bit of a fog. I honestly can’t tell you how Kidder and Greg felt… When I asked, they mentioned they were hungry and there were several jokes tossed around about me being “drunk helpful girl” before going to bed, insisting on getting up at 4 AM to fix eggs and bacon. THANK GOD THEY DIDN’T HOLD MY FEET TO THAT FIRE. We loaded up about 15 minutes later than planned and headed to Guerneville. Melanie and I sent our men off with kisses and well-wishes and made haste for the Starbucks.

Swimming is Kidder’s strongest sport — by far. Melanie and I were standing on a foot bridge over the Russian River, so we could see all competitors pass beneath us on their out and back trips. Pretty cool! Greg’s wetsuit has a bright yellow back (and is the only one of its kind that I’ve ever seen), so we knew we’d be able to spot him quickly. Our guys were set to start at 7:58 AM and had bright red caps on. As the red caps swam beneath us, we spotted Greg and knew that Kidder should have been ahead of him. We couldn’t find him and figured we’d missed him. On their trip back under the bridge just before the finish, we spotted Mike first and Greg was not far behind. Their times were great from our estimations (30:19 with ~300 yards to go)! We found out after the race that Kidder was still in line for the porta-potty when his race started. For some crazy reason, these race officials allowed spectators to use the same bathrooms as competitors. This was “important business” so Kidder did what he had to and subsequently started the race 4 minutes behind the rest of his wave. It didn’t matter; HE SWIMS LIKE A FISH. When we were able to check the final results, it turns out that he finished the swim in 25:49 and was the first man out of the water in his age group (the timing started when he got in the water) — beating 245 other men. What an amazing feat! He finished 13th in the swim overall, among 1259 competitors! Greg finished in a respectable 33:45.

We had a great vantage point for all cyclists coming out of the transition area and making their first couple of turns onto the bike course. Greg had a fast transition (2:45) and we saw him very quickly after the swim finish. Kidder isn’t known for fast transitions (his was 5:54) and we knew they’d be gone for about 2h30m if Greg was on track to meet his race goals. This meant a transition for us spectators as well. Melanie and I met up with Mike & Tiff to assess our own race goals. On Saturday, we had visited the Safeway and purchased enough beverages to satisfy a small fraternity. It was just after 9 AM and Melanie quickly mixed up a bloody mary (I was driving) while we all snacked on chips and dip, looking at the map for the next vantage point. We decided the best idea was to head over to the bike/run transition area, which was also the finish. We’d be able to see everyone coming in from the bike, out for the run, and in to the finish.

By the time we got over there on the back roads, the sun was coming out and we all shed a layer of clothing once we found parking. There, we fixed up Leg 2 of our drink-athlon: blueberry vodka + Crystal Light lemonade. Delicious and refreshing! We packed a bag with our libations, a few snacks, and our cameras. Positioned at the bike dismount, we got to see everyone come in — Kidder and Greg, several friends from Santa Barbara and the EDH Tri Club, and friends of Mike & Tiff. We were in the right spot! Greg finished about where he wanted to at 2:32 and Mike came in about where he expected to at 3:11. They were quick in T2 (2:47 and 3:08, respectively) and we settled in for the last leg.

After two 32-oz Nalgene bottles of vodka drinks, Melanie and Tiffany were close friends by this point, I encountered pretty much everyone I knew in the triathlon community, and the world was a very sunny place (literally and drinkatively). Unless disaster struck on the run, we knew the guys would finish with flying colors and we’d all be celebrating — as long as their stomachs held out. The three of us girls cut each other off on story after story, all the while cheering competitors out on their run (“only 13.1 to go!”) and congratulating those just finishing (“just around the corner!”). With a run split of 1:43:44, we damn near missed Greg with all of this chatter! He came by looking tired but good and finished at 4:55:47. He wanted to finish in under 5 hours and he did it! We ran to the race finish to meet him there with hugs and good cheer. After Greg grabbed some post-race food and drink, he, Melanie and I headed back out to our vantage point to wait for Kidder’s finish. It was quite a sight as both Greg and Melanie ran with Mike as he turned the corner into the final gates at the finish. With a run time of 1:59:19, he finished in 5:45:30. Hooray!

We wrapped up at the finish line area and the guys were gracious enough to postpone showers and rest to grant Melanie her one wish: to visit a tasting room on this visit to Wine Country. We drove the race course back out to La Crema, a race sponsor and the winery the runners had to circle, and found their only tasting room is in downtown Healdsburg. Off we went!  In addition to great wine (our third leg of the drink-athlon), Melanie got a cute T-shirt at La Crema and Kidder surprised me with a generous gift from Stephen & Walker Wines for “taking his challenge” of completing a Half Ironman this year. I was in tears with gratitude and friendship. Keep in mind , Melanie and Mike are the ones that introduced me and Greg. They are friends of the highest order!

After the guys showered at the cottage, we headed to dinner at a favorite place of ours — River’s End in Jenner. Mike (of Mike & Tiff) was sober enough to drive the rest of us tired and drunk “competitors” along the windy roads out to the coast. We got there just in time to see the sunset where the Russian River meets the ocean. Greg’s dinner recommendation did not disappoint and we all enjoyed fantastically fresh food and a race recap from everyone’s perspective. Of note, the clam chowder was different and better than any I have ever had. Of course, there was more wine served as well.

We got up on Monday morning and, luckily, Greg and Kidder weren’t too sore to pack up everything from our cottages to head home. We all thanked our gracious hostess and loaded up in the Element. Melanie hadn’t trained properly for her first drink-athlon and was not feeling her best. To this I said, “Bloody mary, anyone? I like mine with a twist.”

And now you know… the rest of the story.


A Compromise

June 2, 2010 Fear, Fitness No Comments

I made a couple of Big Hairy Audacious Goals for the year on January 1. One of these is to write my memoir this year. I have nothing to report on this subject at this time. But please, do keep holding your breath. You look great in blue!

My other 2010 goal is to complete the Vineman Half Ironman. The entire post can be read here, but for those just joining the broadcast, the race registration closed before I had a chance to sign up. To be completely honest, it closed six days after I decided to do the event and eight days before I got around to registering. Lesson learned.

In the meantime, I was in correspondence with the race director regarding my entry. She explained the wait list rules and said there was a chance I’d be allowed onto the wait list in February. I waited patiently…and did not get chosen. She said there would be a chance in April. I waited patiently…and did not get chosen. I opted to take a charity slot, which means I’d donate $500 to cancer research in addition to my $265 entry fee. The race director said that the charity slots filled up…and basically that my incremental $500 was no good here. A girlfriend of mine is unable to do the race, so I asked if there was some loophole we could find for me to take her registration…and denied yet again.

I am a committer.

While it has been tempting at times during the training season to throw in the towel and shrug my shoulders with, “There’s always next year,” I have chosen to make a minor modification to my resolution. While I won’t be doing THE Vineman Half Ironman, I will be doing A Half Ironman — The Subaru Vancouver International Triathlon on July 4.

The July 4 date cuts two weeks off the training time from Vineman and will require a bunch of logistical bullshit that I wouldn’t otherwise have to deal with (bike shipping, hotel, ground transportation, etc…). However, I’m looking at the positives: the course is almost entirely flat, Greg will be there to cheer me on and vice versa, and I hope to parlay it into a mini vacation. I say SUCCESS!

Throughout the winter and spring, there was fear nagging me that I wouldn’t get selected to race Vineman and that I wouldn’t find another suitable venue. I kept wondering if all of my training was in vain. Now that my money has been sent in and I’m officially on the race roster in Vancouver, I feel very good about the way this has turned out. The flat course alone is reason to celebrate. I’m basically over-training every time I leave the house!

Now, the only fear nagging me is that my right Achilles will not hold out for a month of training. I did a little self-diagnosing today and it looks like I’ve got all the symptoms for Achilles tendinopathy. This is the new fancy name for tendinitis. I apparently have the acute kind — it hurts worse in the morning, screams at me when I flex my foot, painful to the touch, etc… I have been icing it a few times a day and using ibuprofen. I am extremely disappointed about this, as I have been running at least once a week in my Vibram FiveFingers shoes, I have adopted the Chi Running form, and this is supposed to be my “good leg.”

Either way, July 4 will be Independence Day for me — the 70.3 no longer hanging over my head and, of course, America’s birthday (which will be celebrated in Canada). How d’ya like that, eh?


Big Hairy Audacious Goals

January 1, 2010 Family, Fear, Fitness, Friends 1 Comment

Enough of the reflection already. Let’s move on to the hopes of the new year!

I have said out loud that I have no intention of going back to a desk job just for the sake of having a job. If I find something that I really care about OR if things get really dire for us financially, I’ll take a job with The Man. Otherwise, I have my sights set elsewhere:

Number 1 Resolution for 2010:
Write my memoir

I have been talking about doing this for awhile now, and have even outlined a few chapters. I’m working on a more concrete plan, and even working on transforming our second bedroom into an “office” with a real desk and everything. I am not scared of failing in terms of not finishing it. I will get it done. I am more fearful that it won’t turn into anything or that I’ll find someone to publish it and it will otherwise be poorly received. The thing I’m trying to focus on is finishing the task that I have said I would do for several years.

Number 2 Resolution for 2010:
Complete the Vineman Half Ironman Triathlon

Burning calories is what you want? Train for a triathlon, that’s what I say! I was surprised at how many calories my body required just to stay nourished when I was training for the Santa Barbara Triathlon last year. A Half Ironman will be my longest event to date: 1.2 mile swim + 56 mile bike ride + 13.1 mile run. Greg signed up to do The Vineman, and then I was “encouraged” to do it by our friend Mike Kidder when I saw him in Kansas City just before Christmas. I agreed that this would be a good challenge for me and I psyched myself up to do it — but not psyched enough to actually REGISTER that day (December 18). No, I waited until today and found that the event filled up and that the wait list closed on December 24. Hmmph!

Mentally preparing for a race like that is difficult. Physically preparing for a race like that is grueling. Worrying how you’re going to get a registration ticket for that race is the worst. I am all set to find a swim coach to help me with my weakest link. I’ve been steadily improving my times on the bike and run. I love Kidder and his family, and it would be a great event to do together in Sonoma County  in July. I just need a ticket!

These are some big goals for me this year. What are you aspiring to in 2010?

Happy New Year!