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70.3 in 11 Days

April 23, 2013 Fitness 1 Comment

I have my *A Race* in 11 days and I haven’t talked a bit about my training all Spring. You’re welcome and/or I’m sorry. 

So, Wildflower 70.3. Let’s break this down:

The outlook was pretty poor from the start. My knees were the main culprit, creaking all the time and causing pain doing simple things like standing up  from a seated position and descending stairs. Things were really looking bad as I considered running a ridiculously difficult half marathon after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 hilly miles. But my magical chiropractor evaluated me and said that it’s the scar tissue in my calves that is causing the issue. He gave me some homework that I have been good about and things are going much better. I did have a literal run-in with Miles’ 85-pound girlfriend Lola — straight to the side of my left knee — and that has me a bit concerned. I went to yoga over the weekend and it was sore in Warriors 1 and 2, but it was fine on my long run after that. I will keep icing everything and hope for the best on race day.

My swimming is going well. I am in the pool at least twice a week and everything there feels very consistent and good. I have to remind myself to focus on my form (rather than figuring out what I’m going to wear to work, for instance) and that helps my interval times tremendously. Go figure. I expect the swim will be my best event at the race. Update: my goggles and Ironman swim cap were never recovered. Karma’s a bitch, people. Watch out. Miles and I went for an open water swim on Friday to cool off and I went on my first real swim in the Bay yesterday. It wasn’t as fast as I maybe would have liked, but it wasn’t a disaster.

Cycling is what it is. And by that, I mean I don’t care. I’m just not driven this time around. I bike three times a week, two shorter mid-week rides and one long weekend ride. I force myself into incorporating punishment like hills and sprints. I know I will be glad I did when the time comes, but I’m not enjoying the process. I finally got on my tri bike on March 16 — the first time I had ridden it since Ironman on August 26. This expensive bike had collected a lot of dust in the garage in that time. The good news is that getting back on it was a treat. I am actually far more comfortable on this bike than my road bike. The bad news is that not even a fancy bike can make me fast like proper training does.

As for my running, I am 98% hill-centric. I have done the majority of my training on very hilly terrain that largely mimics the Wildflower course: hot, dusty, hilly terrain. I am doing almost no speed work. My average run pace is slow, but very consistent. I’m fine with that; I left this race last year saying I’d never do it again. I realize that everything is relative, and I want the suffer-fest to be relative as well. Slow and steady will win this race for me.

I don’t know what kind of race goals I’ll put together. I want to say something arbitrary like, “Just have fun!”, but who am I kidding? First of all, that’s not a measurable goal. Second, I’m competitive enough that I’m sure I’ll endure a fair amount of discomfort if I see a lot of people in my age group passing me. The best news of all is that I don’t have to train for a full Ironman once this race is over. It will be a blissful summer compared to 2012!





Relying on Goodwill

March 16, 2013 Fitness No Comments

I swam early on Tuesday morning, just as I did on Monday morning and would again on Thursday morning. And as I was finishing my 2500 yards, I remembered that I had borrowed Greg’s phone on Monday evening and hadn’t given it back to him. It was in a bag that he wouldn’t think to look in and be without it all day. This wasn’t critical for him, but definitely a nuisance — especially after he’d done me the favor in letting me borrow it.

I exited the pool at 6:50AM and rushed through showering and getting dressed, running out of the gym without even brushing my hair to get to my car where my own phone was. (I could finish getting ready at the office.) I thought that I would perhaps catch him still at home and he’d hear his phone ringing and all would be well. I dialed him 10+ times before I resigned myself that he had already left. In the end, it was no big deal that Greg didn’t have his phone that day. I apologized, he accepted.

Fast forward to Wednesday evening. I put together my Thursday swim workout and started gathering everything I needed for the morning. Only then did I realize that I was missing everything else related to the workout.  I must have left it at the gym in Tuesday’s hasty departure.

I have a mesh bag that I take with me into the pool area that carries my my goggles, ear plugs, swim cap, and Ziploc bag o’ workouts. My training plan calls for specific workouts each day (I’ve been swimming 3x/week for the past few weeks) and I write them all down and then seal them in a Ziploc bag. It’s just a great way to go back and look at the workouts, especially in the off-season or when making up a workout. I was fussing about the time I spent writing them down as much as anything. Then there’s my goggles. I have a lot of trouble getting goggles to fit and “splurged” on this $40 pair in August.

The worst of it? My swim cap. It was the cap I wore during Ironman Canada. It had the IM logo on it, and it also had the Sharpie marker with my race number (2424) on it. It was a keepsake. A memento. A talisman.

Realizing what had happened — I could picture where I left it in my rush — I just knew it would be at the front desk in Lost & Found. I arrived there yesterday morning at 5:57AM with a sub-par set of goggles, ear plugs, swim cap, and brand new Ziploc bag with the day’s workout. When I explained my plight to the front desk guy, he looked in Lost & Found…. and nothing was found. Well, besides people’s dirty water bottles, yoga mats, sweatshirts, earbuds, and weightlifting gloves.

So disappointing. Mostly about the swim cap, but also about the workouts that told stories of what I had done before. And let’s not forget my fellow gym-goers! Why wouldn’t someone turn this in? I certainly wouldn’t put someone else’s earplugs in my ears, I would not dare run swim in this pool with a very specific Ironman Canada/2424 swim cap, and the goggles are wearing out quickly.

I plan to keep checking with the front desk when I’m there over the next week or so. Maybe someone picked them up, intending to drop them at the front desk and forgot on their way out. The front desk guy wasn’t that bright (or awake?), so maybe there’s another place to check… I’m not giving up home on the goodwill of humanity just yet!


Swim Like You Mean It (and WWW: June 12)

June 20, 2011 Fear, Fitness 3 Comments

My doctor is pretty sure that my shoulder injury isn’t a tear, it’s just an impingement — an inflammation of soft tissue. If I had all the time and money in the world, I’d certainly go get that MRI that he has recommended “just because he’s curious.”

But I don’t have either.

Money is one thing that I certainly do not have lying around, but the more important (!!) issue is my race on July 30. After a bunch of hemming and hawing (usually around Mile 5 of a run) that the shoulder injury is a perfect excuse out of it, I have decided that I am officially racing. And with that, I don’t have time to wait for MRI appointments and then physical therapy appointments and then for someone to decide if I can swim or not. Rather, I am falling back on my ol’ stand-by:

The power of positive thinking.

Laugh if you want, I don’t care. Sure, I’m icing semi-regularly (maybe 2x/week instead of every day) and using ibuprofen semi-regularly (maybe 3x/week instead of 3x/day)… but I simply decided I’m going to swim and it’s going to be fine. It’s going to be better than fine. It has been. It will continue to be.

My 1.2 mile (~2100 yards) swim time at my Half Ironman last year was 36:39. In the pool on my first day swimming since my race on May 1, I swam 500 yards in 9 minutes without really trying. I hit that time again a few days later, and I swam a mile (1760 yards) in 29 minutes today. I will be “fine” for the race. The best news of all is that the pain isn’t nearly as acute during the swim OR as lingering afterward as it was before May 1.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep riding and running and chanting:

“I am so grateful I can compete in Barb’s Race with Caryn and the tri club!”

“I am so lucky my shoulder has healed and I am able to swim!”

“My body is an incredible machine that responds whenever I ask it to.”

“I am a triathlete! I will swim! I will bike! I will run!”

“I’m not crazy, no matter what anyone else says!”

Sure, it’s corny, but as much as I can’t afford an MRI, I can’t afford any negative talk around here. It serves no one and won’t get me any closer to competing, setting reasonable goals for my race, and accomplishing them. My riding and running have come too far for me to bail out now. I’m going for it!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday – 49-mile bike ride + 1 mile run

Monday – 20-mile bike ride + 3 mile run

Tuesday – 10.5 mile run

Wednesday – 60 minutes Jefferson Ave hill repeats (bike)

Thursday – 6.5 mile run

Friday – OFF (+ Book Club hangover — ugggghhhh)

Saturday – 45-mile bike ride + core


Best Laid Plans (and WWW: 4/10)

April 18, 2011 Family, Fitness, Fun 5 Comments

I have mentioned our annual Sisters Trip in a few recent posts. It’s a trip where five of us — me, my mom, her sister, my sister, and my sister-in-law-to-be — get together to drink a bunch of booze in a rented house on a beach, telling stories and peeing our pants from too much laughter. This year’s trip was hands-down the best yet!

Except for one mishap.

We borrowed a friend’s mini van and were pulling it into the driveway in front of my house on Saturday afternoon. My sister was driving and my Cabrio was hanging just a few inches over the edge of the driveway. I jumped out of the van and said I’d move my car forward to make room.

The keys were all the way in the house and I didn’t want to get them, so I took the Greg Approach. I opened the car door, put the car in neutral, and began pushing it forward. And it worked! The car was moving forward with relative ease. I AM SO STRONG! I BET THEY ARE SO IMPRESSED! WHO NEEDS KEYS TO MOVE A CAR?

And then my flip flops lost traction on the dried leaves in the road. My feet slipped out from under me and —

I was on the ground, my knee scuffed.

I popped up, my arms in the air to let them know I was okay! They all burst out laughing, but much to my dismay, they hadn’t even seen what I was doing. They weren’t impressed at all. I bandaged my knee and they called me a fool and we laughed about it some more. No harm, no foul.

(except for the huge glass of red wine that was spilled on the rug – unrelated to the car moving incident)

The trouble came about soon after waking on Sunday morning. At this point, I wish with all my might I had a hangover. Amazingly, no. I have an injured rotator cuff or something else related to my shoulder. Motherfucker. I must have tried to catch myself in the fall and grabbed the car, tweaking something in there. I can’t lift my arm up to shoulder height without sharp pain. Motherfucker.

My first race is in two weeks and my swimming had really come along well. I really thought I could improve my swim time considerably this year (my split was 30:41 last year). Best laid plans… It, of course, hurts to swim. So, I’m icing it a couple of times a day and using the TENS machine on it. If I can limit use, perhaps I’ll be okay come race day and still perform well.

Moral of the story: Don’t be a hero. Walk 20 feet into the house to get your keys if your car needs moved.

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: OFF

Monday: 2000 yard swim — NOT SMART

Tuesday: 24 mile bike ride + 3 mile run

Wednesday: 5 mile run

Thursday: 21-mile bike ride + 3.5 mile walk with a friend

Friday: 1800 yard swim — WHO WAS I KIDDING?

Saturday: OFF


Wildflower: The One and Only

May 5, 2010 Fear, Fitness, Friends 2 Comments

Thank you for letting me bask in my 11th place finish! If anyone asks what I’ve been doing with my time as an unemployed person, you can tell them that I’ve been training AND STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES.

The Wildflower Triathlon happens to be a bit of an icon in California and among the triathlon community at large; plus, it would do you good to learn something today. After all, you’ve heard me drone on from time to time about all the training for said event, so let me share with you the details of my race weekend.

The Wildflower Triathlon is one of the largest triathlon events in the world. The event is hosted at Lake San Antonio in central California and nearly 35,000 athletes, volunteers, and spectators travel to this site for the event. This year, there were 3,280 competitors in the Olympic distance event that I competed in. It was my first event at this distance. I knew it would be a good training event for the Half Ironman I am training for later in the season.

Part of the fun of Wildflower is seeing our friends from Kansas City and Santa Barbara there. We camp in the same spot every year and enjoy the camaraderie that goes hand in hand with the competition at this event. Greg, Kidder, Martz, and myself were all competing in the Olympic distance race on Sunday. A few members of the Santa Barbara crew were hard-core participants in the long (70.3) course and competed on Saturday, arriving back at camp pleasantly exhausted. We had a few cocktails and warmed up some homemade chili garnished with Fritos before retiring for the night. The double-edged sword of this event is that it doesn’t start at the crack of dawn, so we knew we’d have time to prep our race gear in the morning. Unfortunately for me, I don’t do so well with sleeping in a tent and I did not wake well-rested. I chalk it up to par for this race course and look forward to the reality of Greg actually owning a Sprinter van.

Race morning! Ever since I was a kid, I have enjoyed the jitters that accompany the anticipation of my participation in something. As we walked down the steep hill to the race area, the butterflies started and I could feel myself getting into race mode. I had quite a bit of time to wait before my start, but there was plenty to do in getting my transition area set up and supporting the guys. Every five years, they will all fall into the same age group — and this was the year. Martz at 40, Greg at 43, and Kidder at 44. The competition was fierce! As I watched them plunge into the cold lake water, my stomach was really fluttering.

My wave started a full hour after theirs, at 10:35 AM. This seems like a good thing when you’re going to bed late at night and have a lot to prepare in the morning. However, it means your bike ride and run will be in the heat of midday and that can often mean disaster. The forecast called for a sunny 78-degree day and it was already warming up fast. I made my way to the start line. As I was stretching out, the announcers called our attention to a swimmer who was coming out of the water momentarily. His name is Talmadge Atkins and he has cerebral palsy. This athlete had just swum 1.5 km (0.9 mi) by himself, alongside a companion swimmer. The announcer told us he was then going to ride tandem with a cyclist for 40 km (24.8 mi), and then his mother was going to push him in a “stroller” for 10 km (6.2 mi). Hearing this feat helped to put my own race into perspective.

I paused for a moment to take in the sights and sounds of the competitors and spectators around me. I am so grateful for the physical and mental ability to take part in these activities. Not only that I’m reasonably good at it, but that I am ABLE to do it. At the end of the day, it was helpful to put into perspective that it was less about how well I finished, but that I was able to start and finish at all. Let the race begin!

It was our turn. The women 35-39 age group. We had our chance to test the water, then lined up behind the timing mats at the start line. The buzzer sounded! It’s quite a swarm of flailing arms and legs as everyone runs and dives in, and not at all enjoyable. The only up-side is that it takes your mind off how cold the water is. It takes until about 100 yards past the first buoy for the crowd to thin enough to be able to get into a real swimming rhythm. Overall, I was pleased with my swim and how straight my path was, relative to other open water swims I have done. Clearly the practice has paid off! I only looked at my watch once to see how long I’d been out there (0:17:34), though I did not know how far I’d gone. When I finally made it to shore and stood up, I was pleasantly surprised to see my time right about where I wanted it to be at 0:30:36. I made my way up the ramp, catching my breath. I was refreshed and felt good going into my strongest of the three events: biking!

This was my first time wearing a wetsuit during an event, though it didn’t really slow me down in the transition area. I’m not known for fast transitions anyway, and this doesn’t bother me all that much. I felt reasonably speedy and was headed out in just a few minutes. Wildflower boasts a very hilly bike course. It’s an out-and-back, so there are no surprises on the second half of the course. This is good and bad, as you can imagine. Right out of the gates, we have to climb Lynch Hill. Admittedly, it isn’t an easy climb, but I was shocked at the number of cyclists walking it. Not just Team In Training people, but “real” athletes who have supposedly trained for this event. Talmadge Atkins was a distant memory at this point and I secretly scoffed at them. I actually feel kind of bad now…

I reached the top of Lynch Hill and refueled with a banana and some FRS (too much manufactured food upsets my stomach). I had ridden this course before and I knew what to expect — rolling hills that are less easy than you think they are. Only three women passed me on the way out, and only one was in my age group. I felt reasonably good about my “standings” at this point. I was passing a lot of people — including Talmadge Atkins on his tandem — and knew I was moving up in the world. On the turnaround, two more people passed me, but I was able to re-pass two of the people who had previously passed me, including the woman in my age group! Knowing I didn’t have enough fuel for the run in this heat, I ate an Accelerade gel and downed the rest of my water. I looked at my time and knew I could finish within 1:30 if I really pushed hard. I did…and came in at 1:29:22.

I quickly transitioned and headed out on the run. I was disappointed that I didn’t see or hear Greg on my way out, as I knew he had been finished for quite awhile by this time and had hoped to get his vote of confidence. It was 1 PM by this point and the heat of the day was bearing down on us. I had brought along my water bottle with a Nuun tablet in it and I’m glad I did. I was really unprepared for how hilly this run is. I like to tell myself, “You can do anything for two miles.” Not only is it true, it helps break something big down into manageable pieces. I simply had to “do anything for two miles” three times in a row. These are the mental games I play with myself.

I managed the first two miles without walking. It was hot and hilly and I was tired; I wanted to walk a million times. I told myself that I could walk the next hill if I made it through the first two miles without walking. When my Garmin showed I had passed the two mile mark, I almost begged for the next hill so that I could walk and catch my breath. My heart was racing at 170+ bpm. I turned a corner and faced a huge hill in front of me. I was sooooo prepared to walk and then I saw him: a challenged athlete running with a prosthetic leg like athlete shown in this picture. Again, my own race was put into perspective and I kept running. I made it to the top of that hill and then HAD to walk. My heart was going to pound out of my chest. As soon as I brought my heart rate down to a reasonable level (in the 150 bpm range, in ~10 seconds), I ran again. I had to walk a few more hills before reaching the road that passed by our camp — so I knew it was the last hill of the day. One more mile and it was all downhill! The Santa Barbara crew was there at the last corner cheering me in. I let gravity pull me down the hill, looking and listening for Greg as I passed through the 100-yard finish line. I raised my arms when they said my name as I finished and felt great!

I knew when I returned from the bike leg that I was doing well when most of the bikes around me were still gone. It felt great to finish and see a sea of bikes still on the racks in the transition area. No one in my age group had passed me on the run, so I knew I had done well as long as I had held my own during the swim. I finally caught up with Greg and Kidder and expressed my disappointment that they weren’t there to see my finish. He was sorry and admitted that he hadn’t expected me to finish for another 30 minutes and raced to the finish line when they heard my name being called. I was glad to be able to share my feelings with him rather than let it stew the rest of the day. We moved on to the next order of business: a cold beer! The final “event” after finishing a race at Wildflower is trekking up the steep hill back to camp. We made our way and celebrated with a few photos, a few margaritas, and some snacks with the gang. The Santa Barbara crew headed out and we enjoyed a few more beverages while waiting for the traffic to clear. Kidder and I continued to booze it up on the way home while Greg chauffeured us. After picking up Chinese take-out, Kidder successfully passed out fully-clothed and still wearing his contact lenses. Ouch! Greg and I checked our standings online. Hooray — 11th place!

Kidder didn’t have to leave until Tuesday, so we spent Monday at the beach in Half Moon Bay. After a 5-mile recovery run on the cliffs above the beach, we enjoyed lunch on the deck at Sam’s Chowder House and then had a couple of beers at HMB Brewing Company. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.


Inundation: A Lesson Learned

March 4, 2010 Fear, Fitness 1 Comment

Here’s a little bit of marketing research geekery that you might not know. I assume that if you have not been living under a rock for the past ~15 years, you are familiar with the “Got Milk?” campaign. Part of the research behind this campaign was an “inundation / deprivation study.” People who drank milk all the time were forced to stop drinking it and record their experiences, and people who never drank milk were forced to drink it and record their experiences.

As it turns out, the people who were already milk lovers felt a huge void in their lives without milk in it (cookies and OJ, anyone?), and those who hadn’t been milk groupies found a new love and need for it in their lives. It became a new way of life for them based on being inundated. Hooray for milk!

But let’s get back to the matter at hand: me. I was inundated with swimming based on the prescribed training regimen for a Half Ironman triathlon. I had to swim most days of the week (often in addition to another activity). Immediately following the swim clinic, I experienced several bad swims. I knew I was doing it wrong. It didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel smooth. It certainly did not feel natural. I was fighting myself and the water the whole time — and this was in a pool! What was going to happen in open water?!

And then it clicked.

I went every day and learned to think about different things while I was swimming. I learned to assume my legs were doing the right thing while I figured out how to complete a high-elbow-catch stroke. I learned how to engage my core to breathe properly. I learned how to leave my leading arm extended while my other arm caught up with it. Can you hear the clicking??

Open water swimming is on the calendar very soon and it will be a new ballgame then, but I am thrilled that I was forced to overwhelm myself with swimming immediately following the swim clinic so that it is now becoming almost second-nature and I actually look forward to the swim workouts on the calendar.

If you’re up for a challenge, choose something that has been just beyond reach or just outside of “pleasant” for you and inundate yourself with it for one full week. See what happens!


Day of Rest – Take 2

February 26, 2010 Fear, Fitness No Comments

About 10 days ago, I started following a prescribed training regimen for a Half Ironman triathlon. So far, so good. In fact, it has really helped me stay motivated. I like knowing what I’m going to be doing and not having to come up with it myself. That said, I’m working considerably harder than I would be if I were the decision maker.

Tomorrow is a prescribed day of rest and I can’t wait! This week was supposedly a “light week” in terms of workouts, relative to what next week will be. I had guests in town and could not participate in the 56-mile bike ride on Sunday, and I chose to do a 40-mile bike ride on Monday instead of the grueling swim workout that was on the schedule. Other than that, I did as well as or more than what was planned: Tuesday morning yoga + 5.5 mile track workout (in the pouring rain) that was H.A.R.D. Wednesday’s swim workout was a welcome change because it didn’t require my body to hold its own weight. I was sooooo sore from Tuesday I could hardly get out of bed, get onto or off of the toilet, into or out of my car…you get the picture. It felt good to be semi-weightless in the water! I was proud of myself for completing the 1400-yard workout (and actually enjoying it). The “lunch ride” on Thursday was, for me, a 21-mile interval ride with lots of short, steep hills and little recovery. Today, a 3.5 mile run, my strength routine, and a much-needed 90-minute massage. Ahhhhh…

Tomorrow is a day of rest. But I have seen what is on the calendar for the following 7 days and I am officially frightened. It is a week that is largely focused on swimming, and that is clearly my weak link. I am nowhere near where I need to be to get through the drills and main sets of swimming in terms of my basic form. There are lots and lots of bricks — swim + run, swim + bike, swim + strength, swim, swim, don’t drown, swim. EEK! I’m scared that I won’t be able to do the swim workouts well, and that mental defeat will play into my other sports. I’m scared that it will rain all week and I won’t be able to get out on my bike or otherwise have to compromise myself. I’m scared I’ll look for excuses to compromise myself because it’s too hard.

So, I ran my 3.5 miles today and enjoyed my massage (probably a little too much). I am considering a yoga workout tomorrow if we don’t go skiing in Tahoe… but will otherwise relish the day off. That’s a first for me, and a big win mentally as I enter a week that is sure to be full of a lot of mental failures.

Here’s to progress — and FEAR!


An Impostor’s Question

February 5, 2010 Fear, Fitness No Comments

Are you more afraid of…

Looking like a fool while swimming?


Looking bad in a swimming suit?

This is what plagues me on this rainy Friday evening. I signed up for a swim clinic to improve my weakest triathlon link. I’ve known about this clinic for a few weeks now and have not been excited about it from the beginning. Sure, I know it’s the right thing to do. I know I need it. I know that everyone else who has signed up is likely in the same boat, or one that at least looks similar. Hell, my husband signed up and “he’s good at everything.”

But then I face the reality of it. It’s a 2-hour drive. It’s an outdoor pool. It’s going to be raining. I will be videotaped.

There are people out there who are TRUE triathletes. Not just people who complete a designated swim/bike/run to check it off the bucket list. These people live triathlon — their workouts, their diets, their lifestyle. I am not one of these people. So maybe I’ve got a bit of the Impostor Syndrome going on here. I like to do triathlons for fun, for camaraderie with friends, as a common thread with my husband,  and to stay motivated with my workouts (note: this motivation mainly lies in being able to eat and drink what I want and still have my clothes fit the same way each time). I’m competitive by nature, so I do them to compete with myself and get better each time, but I’m no die-hard. That’s what I’m getting at.

So, as I continue my week-long commitment to no-carbs-except-red-wine diet on this Friday evening, I contemplate the fear that is before me. I am confident I won’t be the worst swimmer, nor will I look the worst in my swimming suit. Even if I am, I have committed and I will finish the clinic and my training will benefit from it. That’s what I keep telling myself.

Which do you fear more?