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Reality Bites (and WWW: May 8)

May 16, 2011 Fido, Fitness No Comments

It was a busy week of taking care of others — dogs, kids, houses. By the time the prescribed day of rest came on Friday, I gladly obliged! Then I slept in until almost 10 AM on Saturday and decided to have another low-key day based on how tired I felt. I was clearly exhausted and finally decided to listen to my body and give it the rest it needed.

The week started on Mother’s Day, and my dear dog found himself in a situation that led him to chomp down on my hand. I take responsibility for putting him in a stressful situation with an unsocialized dog, and I was punished for it.



There has been quite a bit of pain and swelling this week. Thankfully, Pete cleaned the wounds (5 punctures total) thoroughly and they are healing well. The pain is from bruising and general tenderness, but there doesn’t appear to be any infection, tendon damage, or nerve sensitivity. Whew! I can’t swim because of my right shoulder pain, and it wasn’t advisable to get in the water with my left hand injury. Maybe I’ll be able to swim this week…

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday – OFF

Monday – 29-mile bike ride

Tuesday – 7-mile run + 6 mile walk with stroller

Wednesday – 17-mile bike ride + 5 mile walk with stroller

Thursday – 4.5 mile run + 20 minutes yoga

Friday – 4 mile bike ride (errands) + core

Saturday – 4 mile bike ride (to/from gym) + 20 minute sauna


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

Taper – Race – Recover (and WWW: April 24)

May 3, 2011 Fitness, Friends, Fun No Comments

I really love the taper week. The workouts feel like they’re my own again. They don’t have to be the best work I’ve ever done; I’m just out there to stay loose and keep things well-lubricated. No pressure. In light of choosing my own adventure, I did two Bodyrock.tv workouts on Monday that left me hobbling from sore muscles the rest of the week. That Zuzana is hard core! I wouldn’t say this was my smartest taper week move… I enjoyed a massage on Wednesday evening and went into the race feeling as ready as possible.

The race was a success! I’ll give more details later, but here are my splits:

Swim: 27:37
T1: 3:26
Bike: 1:28:54
T2: 2:20
Run: 53:23
TOTAL: 2:55:40

It was a fun weekend at Lake San Antonio with beautiful weather. Actually, the folks participating in the Long Course (Greg and Kidder) would say it was a bit too windy for their liking on race day… Our recovery plans on Monday included a nice lunch at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay followed by a couple of hours of stand-up paddling. What a fun afternoon!

I’m exhausted, but in a good way. I feel like I can take this week for my own workouts again, so that helps mentally as well. I did one Bodyrock.tv workout today followed by a 15-mile bike ride to run an errand. My goal is to enjoy the sunshine this week!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: 6-mile run

Monday: 2 Bodyrock.tv workouts

Tuesday: 16-mile bike ride

Wednesday: 4.5 mile run + massage

Thursday: 14-mile bike ride

Friday: 3.25 mile run

Saturday: OFF (unless you count 3 trips up and down the big-ass hill at Wildflower as Spectator Extraordinaire)


Wildflower Race Goals (and WWW: April 17)

April 25, 2011 Fear, Fitness 3 Comments

The first race of the season is a week away. I’ve done what I can do training-wise. I’ve put the work in — hopefully it was enough. Depending on what my race goals are, I can rig it so that it is! Ha!

I mentioned in my last post that Greg’s Sea Otter race goal was not to win or necessarily place high in the rankings. It was to work hard. He considered this a “B-level” race and he successfully achieved his goals of working his race legs to prepare for Wildflower this coming weekend.

So, what are my race goals for Wildflower?

  1. Sub-30 minute swim. I hesitate to write this. I was solidly on track for a great swim this year before the rotator cuff injury. I worked hard on my swimming all winter and even had a great first (and possibly only) pre-race open water swim. My time last year was 0:30:36 and I really want to break the 30-minute barrier this year.
  2. Faster transitions. My transition times last year were horrendous at 4:40 and 2:12, respectively. Admittedly, it’s a long run up the boat ramp from the water to the far side of the transition area… but I am clearly not being as efficient as possible once I get to my spot. Maybe I should practice this week like these guys?
  3. No walking. Before you write me off as a pussy, let me explain. There are actually people who RECOMMEND walking the hills on this course, saving their legs for the flat and downhill sections. This is not my run strategy. I tested both approaches in my training over the last three weeks and I shaved 2:30 off my run time by running all the hills (even though my lungs were burning and my HR was nearing danger levels the first time). My problem is this: my tendency is to leave everything I have out on the bike course. This is a hilly run course — 518 ft of elevation gain over 6.2 miles — and it is very exposed. My race starts at 10:35 AM, which will put me on the run course around 12:30 PM. My goal is to run all of it.
  4. Finish sub-3:00. Last year’s official race time was 3:00:07. I’d really like to come in under the three hour mark and I think it’s possible. If I plan to shave a couple of minutes on both transitions AND the swim and the run, this is doable. Right? Tell me my math works. My bike leg was very good last year at 1:29 and my cycling has been inconsistent this year. I don’t know that I can expect to do much better than that this year, especially since one of my goals is to leave enough for a strong run. I hope my savings in the other areas are enough…

It’s scary for me to write these down. I have created a space that can be filled with disappointment by saying it out loud. Greg suggested that maybe I’m sand-bagging and I should be more specific on Goal #4 and shoot for an overall time of 2:50. But he also said it’s up to me based on how I feel. I’ll tell you how I feel right now: tired and injured. And accountable.

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: 21-mile bike ride + 3.5 mile run

Monday: Bike — hill repeats

Tuesday: 5.25 mile run

Wednesday: 20-mile bike ride

Thursday: 1600-yard swim + errands on the bike (10 miles) + chiropractic

Friday: OFF

Saturday: 34-mile bike ride


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


First Open Water Swim (and WWW: 4/3)

April 11, 2011 Family, Fitness No Comments

I finally took the plunge — my first open water swim of the 2011 season. I was in Santa Cruz for the 6th Annual Sisters Trip and thought the Beach Boardwalk area would be a good place to test the waters.

It was sunny and reasonably warm on the beach (~60). I wasn’t sure if I’d have a rocky water entry, so I chose to wear my Vibrams. My intention was to swim out to the end of the wharf and back. I didn’t measure the distance, but I had my watch on so I figured I’d go for 30 minutes or so and call it good.

A wetsuit is really a great thing. The water was cold — colder than I thought it would be — but between my “shoes” and wetsuit, it didn’t feel horrible.

But I won’t lie: putting my face in the water was worse than I thought it would be. Way worse. My hands do that crazy Raynaud’s thing when they’re only slightly cold, so I knew I wouldn’t have feeling in them for the entire 30 minutes. I was right. This was great practice, though! I had to force myself to breathe deeply and make full strokes. I had to force myself to calm down and settle in. As I looked up and saw fishermen casting their lines from the wharf, I had to stop thinking about the sea life that was likely swimming right under me…

My mom and sister kind of panicked when they couldn’t see me anymore, so they walked out onto the wharf to spot me. The Harbormaster had noted on a public chalkboard the water temperature: 52* F.

I finished in 24 minutes and my body was tingling from being so cold when I got out and started to warm up. It took a good hour to get feeling back in my toes, even after a hot shower. I ran 7.5 miles on Saturday, including to the end of the wharf and back. I was really pleased that the distance from where I went in the water to the end of the wharf was a half mile. If I can swim roughly a mile in roughly 24 minutes, I will be very pleased! My time last year at Wildflower was 30 minutes!

It was a great training weekend, performance-wise and scenery-wise!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: 33 mile bike ride + 4.5 mile run

Monday: 2100-yard swim

Tuesday: 19-mile bike ride

Wednesday: 5 mile run

Thursday: Hill repeats – bike ride

Friday: 1-mile open water swim

Saturday: 7.5 mile run


Stuck (and WWW: March 27)

April 4, 2011 Fitness, Friends 3 Comments

I went from snow bunny to dancing queen in a matter of 6 hours on Saturday. I rushed home from Tahoe, showered, and put on some go-out clothes, donning a lovely cocktail ring given to me as a hand-me-up from a friend. I don’t know why I’d want to draw more attention to my man-hands, but it really is a lovely piece.

It went on with no trouble. No trouble at all. I realize this may be hard to believe from the looks of those knuckles… I went out that night in San Francisco, celebrating a dear friend’s upcoming nuptials. I was on good behavior, though, because I had to drive myself home. When I got home at 1:07 AM, I quickly undressed… except for one thing. I couldn’t get the ring off.

Between two days of skiing, coming back down from altitude, a fancy dinner, and a few glasses of wine… This ring was settling in as a permanent fixture. I went to bed, exhausted, and figured I’d get it off in the morning.

Dehydration = water retention.

The morning situation was worse. I tried soap, oil, butter, an ice bath, and more oil. Nothing. I had to do a long brick workout, so I did it with the fancy cocktail ring. I think it added a certain panache to my workout ensemble. It actually worked kind of like compression socks, but on my middle finger — an obvious spot for needed relief.

I definitely wasn’t any less puffy after the workout (33 mile bike + 4.5 mile run), and I began to look at My Life With A Cocktail Ring as my new existence. I pictured myself swimming on Monday morning with the cocktail ring. I had a babysitting gig on Monday  as well — I’d look complete in the sandbox with such a lovely bauble.

Greg and I took Argus over to Coyote Point for happy hour on Sunday evening. At his suggestion, I kept my hand elevated above my heart. Also, the wind was cold. My hands do that crazy Raynaud’s thing anyway, so I was kinda hoping they’d become numb enough that I wouldn’t care if I scraped the hell out of my knuckle getting it off.

It worked! We got home and I juiced my finger up with dish soap and the ring slid off. WHEW!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: 40-mile bike ride + 3-mile run

Monday: 2100-yard swim + 4 mile hike

Tuesday: 45-minute run with Sherpa + Tracy Anderson

Wednesday: Bodyrock.tv strength training

Thursday: 21-mile bike ride

Friday: Skiing

Saturday: Skiing

NOTE: My entire outfit is an ensemble of hand-me-ups: hoodie + T-shirt from Sarah, shorts from Mel, flip-flops (not shown) from Jane. The cocktail ring is from Tina. I am a grateful beneficiary!


What is Quality?

March 28, 2011 Fitness 2 Comments

I trudged through the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I first picked it up several years ago. It was my first post-college philosophy reading and my head wasn’t in the right place. Like the book’s character Phaedrus, I thought I might go crazy trying to figure out “What is quality?” — and why I need to figure it out in the first place.

When I read a blog post from Joe Friel last week, this idea presented itself again. I will summarize a few key points:

Training quantity is simple. It’s just how many miles, kilometers, hours, meters, yards, TSS or kilojoules done in a week. Your volume. All you need is an adding machine. This is the focus of the Base period – accumulating general fitness by doing lots of non-specific training. “Non-specific” means the workouts aren’t necessarily like the events for which you are training. For example, you may be lifting weights. At no point in your races this summer will you have to stop and pound out a few squats. Weight lifting is non-specific. Drills to improve technique are non-specific since you don’t do them during a race.

While the purpose of the Base period was general fitness, the purpose of the Build period is specific fitness. This involves individual workouts that simulate the intensity and the duration of your next A-priority race. You can stop being concerned with volume at this point. If you did a good job of raising volume during the Base period then you can maintain it quite easily now.

Quantity is not the key to performance; quality is.

So that brings us back to where we started: What is quality training? You should have a pretty good idea of how to answer this now. Quality training involves doing workouts that simulate the intensity and the duration of your goal race (and other unique variables such as race terrain). Some of the Build period workouts will focus on the specific intensity. Others will focus on the specific duration. The highest quality workouts will include both specific intensity and specific duration.

This training philosophy struck a chord with me. I did a good job of raising my volume during my Base period this winter. (Perhaps I did too well, considering my burn-out…) Now I’m training in the Build period. I am one month out from my first race. Going out there and shuffling through my workouts just to check them off the list is not going to serve me on race day. I need to be focusing on quality workouts: rides at the average speed I expect to achieve, runs at race pace over hilly terrain, and I need to get my ass into some open water sooner rather than later.

After weeks of rotten weather in the Bay Area and a couple of weekends in Tahoe, I was really getting concerned with how the race would go. I was even threatening to drop out of the 70.3 in July. I know I could physically complete it, but the mental race is even more important. Yesterday, the clouds parted (literally) and I can see the light again. My 40-mile ride was great, followed immediately by a reasonably quick 3-mile run in my Vibram Five Fingers shoes. It was quality training — both in intensity and duration. I am so relieved!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up: March 20

Sunday: Bodyrock.tv workout + 45 mins StairMaster

Monday: 1900-yard swim + 20-mile bike ride

Tuesday: 60 minutes yoga + 6-mile Track Attack

Wednesday: 20-mile bike ride

Thursday: 20-minute sauna + 30-minute swim

Friday: 9-mile run + 90 minute massage

Saturday: 75-minute yoga + 30 mins StairMaster


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)