Monday, June 28, 2010

Operation Glutes

I got home from Boise with two clear-cut goals: 1) Heal my ITB injury and all the little parts affected. 2) Enjoy the journey. I did not want to be a negative nancy because I couldn't train and race. Plus, look at it this way, an "offseason" was handed to me. Why not enjoy it?! First step: Indulge and let loose (granny terms of letting loose, mind you). So I indulged. But that got old quickly. It also felt like I gained 5lbs in 5 days. Major yuck.

Onto the main mission: Build a strong, injury-resilient body. I'm calling it "Operation Glutes" as a huge part of my ITB issues stem from weak glutes/hips. It's turning out to be more fun than I anticipated. Don't get me wrong--it kills me when seemingly everyone I know is out there racing on the weekends and killing it. But it is what it is.

On that note, a quick aside: I got to live vicariously through one of my athletes last weekend who raced at the Breath of Life Olympic Triathlon in Ventura. She did awesome: An age group podium in 25-29 F and top 10 overall. It also qualified her for AG Nationals, so I'm hoping she can go! Glad to see her hard work pay off, the girl works hard... thanks to me!

So meanwhile I have lots of "training" going on. Part of it's legit business; part of it's to maintain sanity and burn some calories! (Did I mention I LOVE to eat?!?!) Last week I got in 9.5 hours ......of things like yoga, mellow lake swims, surfing, PT exercises/strength-training, rowing, a couple bike rides and even a couple suuuuper short test runs. (Such a nerd--I actually logged all those things!)

As for specific ITB rehab, it's all about strengthening the glutes & hips, as well as some intense stretching, ART and foam-rolling. There are a lot of major and minor muscles just in that area that often go neglected, but without working on them specifically they can really make or break your endurance lifestyle. I wouldn't say my glutes/hips are overly weak/incapable, but they're part of my current problem and they definitely need some work to not only get better now but to handle the amount of training I wish to do in the future.

Here's a look at a typical non-weight-bearing at-home PT routine:

4x15 leg abduction with external/internal rotation (side leg lifts, turn toe up/down)
3x20 bridges + 3x10 single-leg bridges (variation: with weight)
3x20 clams (variation: with band)
4x15 prone hip extension
3x10 single leg squats or 3x10 single leg deadlift
5 rounds of lateral walk with band - lead with knee; keep good squat form!
3x15 leg adduction
3x5-10 side bridge hip abduction (also an ab workout, and hard!)
etc, etc, I might be forgetting something, etc...
plus a few rounds up pushups, abs/core strength, etc.

These things are truly difficult if you do them with 100% correct form. For certain exercises I'll sometimes throw on ankle weights, but with others no weight is necessary to feel the burn.

....And that's just what I do at home; it doesn't even touch on all the stuff I do at the gym, nor my flexibility work. That would make this post too long.

Then today I had a breakthrough, after what feels like ages (but really only ~1.5 months). Back up a little first... I've tried two test runs since Boise, and pain came within 5-8 min each time. Stopped and walked :( But today I ran 10 min pain free, with no pain after, either! And that was after a circuit training routine at SPI that involved an easy 400 m run and other run-specific stuff. Yessss!

Baby steps...

There's one last thing I forgot to mention. But I gotta get going, so stay tuned for my next post about a little "medical magic" I'm trying in the mix of this rehab (no not cortisone shots or drugs of any kind).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Boise Highlights & News on My Season

unfortunately, the moment has sort of passed on writing the "good news" portion of my Boise trip (sheesh, slacker). but in blog world, I guess even old stories can still come off as new. still, i'll keep it relatively short (in my terms of short ha!) and use my pics to tell the tale of the ultimate girls trip...

we arrived at the airport looking sharp. i'm pretty sure the lieto brothers will now forever know me as "compression chick" (long story). we also dubbed sara as "flannel." sweet of my bags didn't make it to boise. or so i thought. turns out an old man mistook it for his and left me with his pom-pom luggage. minor delay. lesson learned: always get luggage before picking up the rental car. btw, check out out rad rental TRUCK (good price too!):i got to play driver the whole time. loved it. except for my poor navigational skills. we survived.
our home away from home was such a nice change compared to the usual cookie-cutter hotel rooms, ya know with the mini coffee makers, bad decor, weird smells and life of living off stale bars and packaged oatmeal. yuck. instead: we stayed in idaho's version of shangri-la... ...and had the best "mom" ever. she was so hospitable. she cooked awesome food, gave us free reign in the kitchen/fridge and cleaned up after us despite my best efforts to wash even one dish. definitely an unexpected surprise! this was the man of the house:i really tried to fall in love with 'stache cat. (fyi, i'm not a big fan of cats, at all.) and in all honesty, he wasn't that bad at all, but no. i couldn't fake it. i am a dog person. cats don't do it for me. sorry.

i ate well in boise. i had plenty of good ol' spuds, duh... although, i prefer sweet potatoes any day (had those too, of course). speaking of food. we found the boise co-op thanks to molly from zoot, and it quickly became my favorite place! i think sara was slightly freaked out/surprised by my uber-healthy eating habits. i crave healthy things like other people crave junk food. weird. i.e. check out my co-op special, a couscous/black bean/fresh turkey/salad thing i compiled, with a kombucha...

ok. enough food talk. the race expo was the same old. saw some friendly faces, which is always nice. got recognized thanks to the blog. sweet! the big highlight was spooning with sara on the "compression-like recovery" bed (which i don't buy into at all, sorry!).we explored downtown boise and got in trouble in urban outfitters. bad girls. hm. what else. we met up with ian on friday to go to bike drop off together. he gave us the inside scoop on the pro meeting and filled us in on his life with coach dirk, etc. he also gave us a good laugh when questioning the appropriateness of where his mom was aiming when taking this shot ;) .....oh, back up. sara & i did a little pre-race ride to make sure our bikes didn't fall apart after building them. too bad my seat post didn't slip then! wtf?! oh well. it was so nice having open, endless roads and no stoplights. the constant smell of manure took some getting used to, however.this storm came in quickly and we had to race it home. good thing we did go on a ride... sara needed a new chain, bad. while we were there, i saw eileen swanson and said something along the lines of, "heeey, i know you from blog world!" crazy what these blogs do for our networking! anyways, on race morning, i was nervous mostly of my unknown fate. we watched some soccer, i didn't understand much but i tried for the sake of sara and my boyfriend. then i was bored and just was waiting to eat again...passing time.... then the race happened. got that blog out the way already! post-race we chowed at pf changs then i got to play "mom" to sara and cheer her on/take pics for her 5th place podium finish. all races should have awards that go five deep! i stalked the pros some more. they must have gotten the memo that black and jeans are the way to go...

then we met up with our new friend cortney (thanks for introducing us, ian!) and the girls went out for some beers in boise. oh, our new friend denny was there too. sara met denny on the run. she cracks me up with her people-meeting skillz. we didn't even get started at the bar until past midnight and lasted until 3 a.m. ish. i needed those beers. to this day, i'm still needing a drink with all that's happened :)fun characters come out to play in boise at night (the guy in this photo was tagged as matt lieto on FB... hmmmm, secret life?) and then before we knew it, we were leaving. i was really sad to go so soon. it truly was an awesome girls trip, and this blog doesn't even do justice to how much fun i had with sara. definitely more triathlon girls trips in our future!

oh yea, fyi, i was nervous about using a soft bike bag to travel, but my bike survived just fine! even on the way home when my re-packing of the bike was less than stellar.

so the new news...

the injury is not going to make a miraculous recovery in t-minus 20-something days until vineman. i still am unable to run for more than 5-10 min without getting major pain, and continuing to train hard (even without running) then race hard would be dumb. nothing would heal or get better, and chances are i could make things a lot worse. because this isn't kona on the line, i've decided not to risk it and i pulled out. i'm young. there's time.

new plan: work on a full recovery and beyond. i've done a lot of thinking (ya know, the whole "why me?!") and i think i know why this happened... as this year continually got more busy, i put my own training needs on the back burner. i was neglecting the little things to keep myself strong and injury-resilient. even my training log disappeared. well, all that caught up with me, and now i really need to take a step back to work on the foundation before i expect to put in some miles.

in a way, i'm excited for this new challenge. i'll, of course, be sharing my journey as it unfolds.... i do expect to be able to race again before this year is over, so don't count me out yet! and i'll still be highly involved in the triathlon world... maybe even more so with all this extra time :)

last but not least... a couple of the recipes are in the comment section of my "Food" blog. more to come. enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Boise 70.3 - The "bad news" first

I have to break down my Boise 70.3 adventure into two parts: 1) the actual race and 2) the trip in general. Blog numero uno is the race report, which unfortunately is the "bad news." Hm, maybe "not so good news" is less harsh. Either way, it was a tough day for me on a lot of levels.

But it's all good because the future Blog #2 will wrap up my story of this past weekend on a good note--i.e. the fact that going to Idaho with one of my best friends, Sara, was so incredibly fun and even with a 70.3 carried out as an aquabike, it still was one of the funnest trips ever. No regrets. Seriously.

Just look at this place:
So the race....

A 2 p.m. start sounds cool, and in the case of Boise, I definitely preferred it over a morning start given the frigid lake temps/cold mornings. However, I would rather start a race at 7 a.m. any day. Sitting around waiting to go is tough. Knowing how much/how little to eat before the race is tough too.

We left our house at 11:30 a.m., which ended up being way too late. We were late to drop off run gear at T2, which was closed by the time we got there. We begged the security guard to add our bags. He did:

Yay, we made it to the race start...

But wait. stress was a comin... we were late. I HATE being rushed before a race, and that's just what happened when we got to transition. I had non-stop prep to do that I didn't even finish before transition closed. I was shaking with anxiety, and literally blacked out to the rest of the world. (Sara and I were talking about it later, and I have no recollection of some of the things she said to me.) Thankfully, I calmed down a little bit before starting, as our wave was 30 min after the pros.

But while waiting, the sweating began. See how sunny it was:
And crowded. Getting corralled down to the lake in sardine-like crowds:

It was so hot standing in our wetsuits before the swim that I opted to not apply Bengay on my lower legs/feet, which I was planning to do given my tendency to cramp during cold swims. (Using Bengay to stimulate warmth was a tip I received from a good friend/athlete in SD.)

Finally into the water. Frigid. As soon as we got in, all heat left my body and I was immediately freezing. The lake water was apparently in the low- to mid-50s. Colder than the ocean. major uh-oh. The snow just recently melted off those mountains:

The swim was awful for me except for my sighting--I stayed pretty much on course the whole time. But I felt like crap. I had no "oomph" in my stroke. Maybe it was lack of taper, maybe it was the freezing water. Whatever it was, it was beyond demoralizing to feel so flat and blah. Then the leg issues came. I don't kick too hard on triathlon swims, but this time I played around with my kick force hoping to maintain warmth. Nothing worked, and my legs were turning into ice blocks/anchors. It didn't take long for that familiar tingling to show up, then full-blown cramping hit at about the halfway point. Doomed. The pain and annoyance of that caused me to feel claustrophobic.

I had the slowest swim I've ever had in a half-Ironman, which kills me more than I can even describe. I know it was freezing and blah blah, but I cringed in disappointment when I saw my time. I was ready to cry, but not ready to give up.

Can you see sadness/anger?

I took my sweet time in T1 like never before. For the first time ever in a triathlon, I put on socks because that's how bad my feet hurt from the cold, even though it was ridiculously hot and sunny outside at that point. I headed out.

View heading out of T1:

As I got going, I still was undecided on run vs. no run. Maybe a subsequent half-marathon could happen? But about 30-40 minutes into the ride, the knee pain started. Eventually, I felt it all the way up my IT Band. I decided not to bike as hard as I would in an A race scenario, and I took it down a notch. I couldn't let this ride be my season-ender.

Then there was wind.... crazy mo-fo wind! Hold on it's gonna be a bumpy ride, yee haaawww!

I've experienced gnarly winds, but never nonstop gnarly winds for a full 56 miles. For the most part it was either a headwind or scary crosswind. I heard the gusts were between 30-40 mph. Not sure if that's true, but let's just say I was more than ok with going 10 mph on some stretches vs. death and dismemberment.

At one turnaround point between miles 20-30, I was singing songs (I tend to do that) and waiting to see Whitney and Sara go by in the other direction. They eventually passed, in that order. I was about 6 min behind Sara, so I was making up good time from the awful swim (she swam 4 min faster than me). For a few minutes I got super motivated. But my ITB/knee was still hurting, and I think I realized my fate at about mile 30. Don't overdo it, I thought.

Meanwhile, more issues... like forgetting to take electrolyte tabs before the start and forgetting to put extra tabs in my bento box. It was pretty dang hot, and GUs+Gatorade helped but weren't enough to counter my major sweating/electrolyte depletion. Or how about this one: My saddle was slowly dropping the entire ride and destroying my lower back, knee, power & sanity. I questioned whether I was imagining it? Nope. Failed at the bike-building. Rookie! At least my handlebars stayed securely in place.

Adverse situations were hitting me hard. What could I do? I just laughed like a psycho as tears welled up in my eyes. I was loony, yet determined to stay positive. I thought about how great a trip it'd been so far; thought about Benoit, my tri friends and my family. I even thought about my triathlon-related jobs/commitments and this dang BLOG, which, btw, is always on my mind during races!!! It's cool to have followers and no longer be an anonymous face/name in the tri world... but scary too! haha :)

In the end, what a journey those 56 miles were. Incredibly brutal, but I'm glad I experienced it and survived. My time was ridiculously slow (slowest to date) but given the circumstances, I was not disappointed in that time. A lot of others said the bike was insanely hard on them, too--physically and mentally. Glad I wasn't alone on that.

For those wondering about the Boise bike course: The scenery is awesome if you like looking at mostly undeveloped open space with rolling green hills, livestock, trees, rivers, nature, and eventually downtown Boise. As for course profile, without wind, I'd say it's a moderate course: fairly hilly but not the hardest of climbs, good flat sections, decent descents, always changing directions and not boring with spectators cheering throughout the whole thing. But add in wind, and it's hard as can be!

Typical sights:

T2 & The End

The most emotional part of the day.

I hopped off the bike, hobbled to my run bag, put on my shoes, jogged back and forth in transition deep in thought.... A 13.1 mile run would likely mean the end of my season. Heck, I was suffering on the bike and could barely "run" in transition area! I couldn't bear the thought of digging myself deeper into an injury.

Decision made.

Next thing I know, I was in medical with an ice pack on my knee and a smile on my face. I didn't feel like smiling, but I made myself do it anyways, and eventually that smile felt real....

I know I made the right decision and am thankful for all I learned and endured during the race. Oh lots was learned, and it wasn't easy.

Hanging out at the finish and cheering. Bitter sweet...
Waiting for Sara (who did great)...

Just like that, the day was over. At around midnight we remembered that we had to pick up our bikes. Oops. We were nearly the last ones to do so, even the racks were taken down by then... late again haha.

Here we are getting the bikes, all smiles. I was down but definitely not out! Life could be worse. And you better believe that beers and good times followed. We played until 3 a.m.!!!

And, fyi, I'm putting the pressure on myself for Vineman............. ?


Next up, story of the best girls trip ever.

(Oh, and PS - I will get out those recipes from the Food blog soon. Thanks for the great comments)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Chillin before Boise 70.3

I could really get used to these 2 p.m. race starts. However, it's 9:30 a.m. in Boise right now (well actually I'm nearby in Nampa, Idaho) and I really don't know what to do with myself. Bags are packed and ready, waiting to eat again, watching the World Cup... waaaiiiting... blaaaahhhh.

Race outlook: The sun is shining! It should be nice & pretty warm. Not the water though, which, apparently, is in the low/mid-50s out toward the middle of the lake. The wind is going to be a big factor on the bike today, too. It's howling, and it gets gnarlier as the day goes on. Thankfully, unlike past years at this race, looks like no rain. But there have been a couple random storms since we've arrived, so who knows.

My race strategy: Have fun. I no longer see this as an A race due to the knee/ITB issues, so I'm excited to experience the course, push myself and keep a smile.

On that note, given my knee/IT Band injury, my final race plan: I'm putting my Zoot shoes in T2, along with all my other run gear. I'll decide if I'm running once I get there. I don't know what to expect. Sara and I rode on Thursday, and there was some knee pain. So, in my crazy logic, it comes down to this: I don't want to make things worse, so I won't run if the pain is really bad. But if it's bearable, I'll see how far I can make it through the 13.1 miles. However, I will not walk/shuffle through a half-marathon today just to avoid a DNF. If I can't run, I'll pull out. All that may sound psycho, but I at least want to give this race a chance. What if everything felt good coming off the bike and I didn't have my shoes because I decided to play it safe? I would hate that.

Whatever happens today, I couldn't be more stoked on this trip. I'm happy I came even if my race is poop. It's been A BLAST so far. I've never traveled to a race with one of my best girlfriends (usually it's the parents or solo), and I am loving my Idaho vacation with Sara! The laughing is nonstop, as are the little adventures and crazy scenarios we're getting ourselves into. Idaho is a gorgeous place, I love it even more than I thought I would. I guess staying in a nice house on multiple acres in the countryside may have that effect.

Expect some good stories/photos when I get home :)

Monday, June 7, 2010


There's been a lot of good eating going on this year. I'm sticking to roughly 85% gluten-free living, with the other 15% broken into 5% of times when it's either eat gluten or don't eat, 5% of gluten things I won't give up, and another 5% of splurging.

I cook a lot and, surprisingly, I'm not that big a fan of eating out. It's expensive and I prefer home-cooked meals. I get in more of the things I want that way.

I also like taking pictures of food, which I often get made fun of for doing. But I don't care.

Here's a peak at typical eating. If you want recipes for anything, give me a holler! It's pretty much all GF unless otherwise indicated.

Turkey balls with peppers and onions

Greek-yogurt-fudge cupcakes with flax & dark chocolate chunks

Brown-rice-spaghetti-squash-feta "casserole" with sausage, veggies and orange zest. (This one was created while I was cooking it and just continually adding stuff in... everyone loved it, so I have to share)

Sweet potato cornbread

GF Crepes with a variety of fixins' (sweet, salty, sweet & salty mmmm)

GF-crumb-crusted eggplant

Pan-roasted almonds

Slow-simmer marinara with sauteed veggies thrown in (fyi- we threw in veggies last minute to not totally obliterate their nutrients). We put this on GF pasta & chicken; would be great for anything!

A Trader Joe's special: Polenta (L) & Quinoa (R). Both come from the frozen section and are so darn good. Staples in our house. Quick, convenient, tasty and nutritious. (OK, TJ's, want to sponsor me yet???)

And I'll end it with a yummy gluten-loaded splurge... A birthday dessert of "build your own" angel food cake, breyer's vanilla bean ice cream, all-natural whip cream, strawberries, crushed dark chocolate and candle wax ;)

Bon appetit!