Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Always on the Run

I feel like the energizer bunny on crack with how my life's been lately and with everything that's coming up. Tri season is here! IMCA is less than 10 days away (geez!), and I'm scrambling to make sure I'm totally prepared. One thing I had to do is update the tri wardrobe -- I've literally worn the same outfit in every race I've ever done. So I got a new (and super discounted) Orca suit from this great OC store: Tribuys. Check them out! (There I am at San Onofre testing out my new trisuit.) As for trianing, I officially started taper mode this week and am enjoying it! These last several weeks, I've really been pushing my body hard, and I've responded surprisingly well. I'm definitely noticing some increases in my fitness level. I wish I had another month to work at a higher level before IMCA, but no biggie. It is what it is....

This weekend I'm going down to San Diego (of course, right?) to watch my mom do Superseal, her first Olympic triathlon. I'm so excited to root her on and get a mini vaca on Coronado. Hopefully I'll see some familiar faces at the race!! I'd also like to point out this will be my mom's first race NOT riding her mountain bike. She's riding my Trek road bike, and given her past performances on a mtn bike, those 50-54 year-olds better watch out on Sunday :)

Next week I might go a little insane. It's my spring break at CSU Fullerton, but instead of a beer-drinking, bikini-wearing, Mexico-bound week (been there, done that, over it), I'll be taking it easy, tapering and trying not to stress about Saturday. For once, I might have too much free time: no school and essentially no major workouts! What will I do?? Well, I still have class (and an exam) at the community college. Otherwise, I'll have to channel all that ADD-ness into something productive. In the meantime, I'm being extra careful to stay healthy, well-rested and not have a stupid accident, like chop of my finger while making dinner because I was daydreaming about biking though Pendleton.

I'm starting to realize how selfish the triathlon lifestyle can be. So me! me! me! Except for one thing: Sunday is my birthday, and it hasn't even been on my radar. Not even important to me at all right now. The only significance: this is my last year in the 20-24 age group..... I don't even know what to think about that!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sydney Scores!

So I've been feeling bad about not taking Syd on a run since my recent blog. I had a 90-min bike and T-Run scheduled today, and during transition, poor Sydney was home all alone practically jumping in my arms wanting to play/exercise. Border Collies have effective ways to communicate their need to burn off energy; "no" is not an option. So, I gave in, deciding to take her on my run. As soon as I said those magic words, "you wanna go bye-bye?" she was howling (really) and jumping all around ...but first... I demanded that she go poop! (Something about running gets her "engines revving" and she always poops, forcing me to haul a blue bag of crap. Ew.) Sometimes she'll poop on demand pre-run -- quite a talent! -- but not today. I was denied. The most I got out of her was a little pee, and I wanted to get goin, so I grabbed a blue bag and hoped for the best.

How can you say no to this?

Happy dog

The run went great, Sydney's such an obedient dog. And best of all, she didn't go poop! I wonder if she can hang on my LSD runs. Hmmm.

Oh yea, today was my last day of PT; I got the OK to run to my heart's desire (with caution)! Last week I totaled about 30 miles of running, so I think I've been doing that already :)

Thirsty dog!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Memory Lane

I'm sure some of you SDers did the St. Patty's Day run Saturday. I didn't make it down this year, but I was thinking of when I ran it in 2007! Instead of the 10K this year, I did a 62-mile bike and 40-min T-run. Whew.

See me in the starting line (and my mom standing next to me)? I drank lots of green beer that day. It started with the post-race beer garden, continued in PB and ended...?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

P.E. Time ...and Cute Dog Pics

This may sound crazy, but I never run on a track for my training. Ever. I've had this preconceived notion that it must be so boring just to run in circles. (Kind of like how I used to perceive swimming laps.) It'd probably help if others were running with me, but the OC Tri Club's track workouts don't work with my schedule and I haven't researched when other nearby OCers run on tracks. So, basically, I stick to the roads, and do farlek and tempo runs for my higher intensity days. The Garmin 405 keeps me in tune with distance and I can get in more hills that way too.

But Thursday I decided to give track a chance. I ran over to my alma mater, El Toro High School, and it turned out to be a great experience. I'm all for track workouts now! First off, since I graduated, the school's put in a deluxe track, so that right there made me feel pro. Ha. For real though, being in a controlled area really let me test my limits and push my running. I had a hefty load of HIIT, and I was working in a high HR zone (80%-94% of my max) for a good portion of the session. I was worked by the end, but stoked. Having a structured run workout like that made the time fly by. Also, my ankle is feeling great! No pain (knock on wood) at all!! I must credit my awesome PT crew at Aliso Creek Physical Therapy. We have this running joke that I keep getting injured just so I can hang out with them... the ankle deal is the third issue in the last year-ish that's had me there on a regular basis.

While I was running, they were doing what?!

There was something else going on during my run that was depressing as hell: 6th period P.E. Yup, those kids who don't play sports, the ones who have to dress out and get "physical." Physical? Riiiiight. It's depressing to see the state of physical education today.

The thing that made me the most angry is that the P.E. teacher was threatening the kids with having to run around the track if they didn't follow directions. Since when is running a punishment? I understand that not everyone likes running (I know I don't sometimes), but we shouldn't condition people to associate running with bad behavior. No wonder America has a problem!! He should have used the threat that the kids would have to go back to the locker room if they didn't participate; not being able to play the sport would be the bigger punishment in my opinion.

Watching the kids get active was pretty much a joke too. The class broke off into guys and girls. Wait, guys and girls can't even participate in the same activity anymore? Too risky? Geez. The guys did flag football while the girls were playing some softball-like game with a handball. Huh? Some of the guys were getting into the game, which was nice to see. However, most of the girls were sitting on the ground talking about their finger nails or weekend plans for all I know--not too much physical activity! Yet, none were "punished" with having to run. One of the girls asked me what lap I was on as I passed her clique, and I said "not sure." I heard them giggling as I moved on. To think that I was the "oddball" for being so active out there is sad. Then maybe after being on the field for 15 minutes, they picked up and left. The worst example of P.E. imaginable. I hope one day that changes.

Here's what I did:

Track Workout
20 min. warmup (run to the track)

6-8x accels
1200/800/600/300 @ 10k pace/hard effort w/ 200 recovery between
800/600/400 @ 10k pace or harder w/ 400 recoveries
600/400 @5k pace/very hard w/ 400 recoveries
25 min. moderate run/cool down

After my workout, it was time to mess with my dog, Sydney. She's such a trooper for letting me do this. I must have been a little crazed from my run. Ha ha. You gotta love Border Collies, they're so smart, not to mention she has endless energy and can run run run! She's in the perfect family. Unfortunately (for her) I don't take her on runs with me anymore because she poops all the time, and running with a bag of poop isn't very fun.

Here's Sydney asking to be fed. When we eat, she eats. Well, not every time--if she ate every time I did, she'd be a fatty. But she's hilarious, she'll sit there and tap her bowl until we fill it. She has my family so whipped!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Greens & My Weakest Link

I can't stand wheatgrass shots. I despise the smell of fresh cut grass (gag!) and that's what I associate wheatgrass with. Yuk. So when a friend of mine introduced me to Greens Plus, I was like, "Can I just puke on you now and save you your green-crap?" But he, and "research," insisted this powder substance is a major superfood. And I like healthy things. A lot. So, I sucked it up and tried it mixed with water. Ew, did I make a bitter face. Tasted like freakin wheatgrass! So, what did I do? I bought myself I tub. (Sometimes I question my logic.) I honestly tried to like it for nutrition's sake, but it wasn't happening so on my vitamin shelf it sat. Last weekend, after hearing the spiel on Juice Plus, I recalled the Greens+ that cost me like $30 something. That's a lot of money in my world just to go to waste, so I decided to give it another try before it expired. And I found the answer: smoothie! I just loaded a ton of crap in our Magic Bullet Blender--yogurt, fruit, ice--and wow! It tasted pretty damn good. Now I'm gettin my greens, maybe it will make me faster. I could use some help :) And on that note.....

Weakest Link

Sometimes I go through the motions of training without really letting it sink in. Don't get me wrong, I watch my times, paces, heart rate, speed, etc., like a hawk and get home and log it all, but sometimes I forget to look at the bigger picture: my progress over time. This is, after all, about improving and getting faster, right?

Point is, my weakest link was brutally clear to me this morning: I suck at swimming! I felt like an anchor. It's so frustrating. It gets even more frustrating when I swim with someone who "never swims" and they kick my ass.

But, putting in perspective: I've really only been swimming since September '08; my "swimming" before that consisted of half-ass, technique-less, 1000-yd-max, lane-splashing at 24 Hour Fitness or the Arc at SDSU. (The first time I got in a pool to swim and not just float around was Feb. 2007.) I did enough to squeak by in triathlons, but definitely not enough to improve.

So last September I went outside my comfort zone and joined a 6 a.m. class. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made, thanks to my excellent coach. I went from not knowing what 15x50 @ 1:00 even meant and having no clue how to flip-turn to feeling what it's actually like to "sweat" in the pool... and be in it for more than 30 min. I've come a long way, my coach points that out to me, but now I'm itching to get to that next level and it's just not coming.

I swim 5,000-8,000 yards a week, I can do a sub-9 min 500 and my pace for 100s is 1:40-1:50--none of that is something to brag about, just pointing out. My endurance has built--dude, I used to get the worst session-ending calf or toe cramps in the pool!--but my speed is at a plateau. And today, I felt even slower. Granted, my ankle is jacked up so that affects things.

But, honestly, by now I'm ready to graduate to a faster lane!

I'll just keep working at it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

1 Flat & 1 Rolled Ankle Later ..... But it's not all bad news

I have tears in my eyes right now because I rolled my ankle again, the same one that's just getting over a sprain. [Update: Just fyi, I'm not crying anymore. Sh*t happens. I'll cope.] I'll get to that later... because it's been a great week up to that.

The highlight of my week was speaking with Jim Felt of Felt Bicycles (duh). I've had some issues with my new bike, and, long story short, Nytro rocks and Mr. Jim Felt himself got wind of my situation so he got in touch with me. We talked a couple of times, and he is the nicest, most down-to-earth guy ever! It's great that the man at the top is so willing to take the time for all of his customers. Truly an amazing guy. And it looks like I'll be getting a new bike. More details on that as the story develops.

As for training, the pool I swim at is fixed, so it's warm enough to comfortably last for a full 3,000-yd session. So swam twice (total 6,000), got in a killer AT trainer workout on my CycleOps Fluid 2, a 90 minute hill ride, an 80 minute hard run w/ intervals and drills, and a couple strength-training sessions of about 30 min each. And all that while studying (cramming) for and taking a gnarly anatomy/physiology exam and doing stuff for my master's program. Sleep suffered. So by Friday night I prepared for the big training weekend by making homemade beef stroganoff (my dad's favorite, and I owed him a favor) with steamed asparagus. Putting the recipe at the bottom. As much as I ate, I still had room to indulge -- that's right, frozen yogurt. I polished off a large container while getting my iPod ready for Saturday's long ride.

I'm on a training plan that called for a 270-300 minute ride, so I set off Saturday in the right state of mind. But I'm realizing this weekend was a test of how I cope when things go wrong. Ten minutes into my ride -- pop! -- a blow-out flat in the front. Luckily I didn't crash (still riding Nytro's Cervelo). Glass was the culprit I'm assuming; the hole was so bad I had to put on a new tire too. Thankfully, my pit crew (mom & dad) were only about 4 miles away at home and brought me the spare tire and another tube for the rest of my ride since I was using the one in my kit. From there, all went smooth, thankfully. I went from my house in Lake Forest, up to John Wayne Airport then U-turned and went south to San Clemente State Beach/Cristianitos Road, then back up through SC, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano and inland to my house. Good litmus test of the amount of nutrition I need: Water bottle with Cytomax, several Hammer Gels, Bear Naked granola, almonds and, of course, gum! I had to stop to refill on water a couple times too.

Overall my riding time was about 3 hours, 45 minutes and a total of 70 miles. But I was gone for almost 5 hours factoring in the flat, stopping at a billion stoplights and peeing/eating in San Clemente.

Saturday night I was invited to a "Wine & Wellness" dinner party with some girlfriends. I skipped the wine and loaded up on sushi, chips & guac and a killer salad--one of those that are a meal in itself (inspired by this: Marcy's Salad). The "wellness" part of the evening was a consultation on Juice Plus. I'm almost convinced to jump on the bandwagon. Hm.... Later, as I was driving home at the oh-so-late hour of 9 p.m., I laughed thinking how my life has changed. Three years ago, I so would have been out partying and drinking till God knows how late on a Saturday, no doubt. Now I'm talking nutrition instead of chugging beers, wearing casual sportswear instead of skirts and tube tops, and aiming to be in bed no later than 10. And I couldn't be happier. So got home, polished off a bag of popcorn while making fun of my parents for renting "Pineapple Express" and to bed....

Sunday. Not a fun day. I was scheduled to do a 2-hour run; that's not the "not fun" part. I was amped for the run; however, I got going and I'm not gonna lie, my legs were buuuurning and my pace wasn't up to par. But I would survive, or so I thought. Ha... 5.5 miles into the flat street run, I rolled my bad ankle off the asphalt into the gutter. A familiar pain. Uh oh. I cringed as my ligaments throbbed and and fell into some nearby grass, rolling around, grabbing my ankle and letting the tears flow. I was crying about the implications of this dumbass move more than the pain itself. So Pissed!! My PT warned me that if I rolled my ankle again, things could get nasty for my running life. I first sprained the same ankle about 6 weeks ago, so I it's a "high-risk" situation, very susceptible to re-injury (why I've done NO trail running). To top it off, I was 5.5 miles from home when I rolled it with no pit crew (parents) around to save me and no cell, and I don't know any one's number by heart. I went to a hotel across the street and they let me borrow (sweat) all over their phone. I remembered my friend Lindsay's number, and thank God she answered. She lives right by me so she came and picked up my crying ass. So grateful. ....R.I.C.E., Ibuprofen and more tears followed. Who knows what will happen now. We'll just wait and see..... 1 month till Ironman California. Crap.