Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Race anxiety

Lonestar is on Sunday. I do not feel ready at all. And after the sluggish and painful Capitol 10k this past Sunday, I'm even more worried. I even emailed the race director to ask if it was too late to switch to the sprint, and yes, it is too late. I did talk to my coach, and he seemed to think that I should just go for it, I'm probably more ready than I think I am this early in the season. I did have a pretty good core/spin/run brick tonight, so that made me feel a little bit better. My legs felt better 10 minutes after a 90 minute core/spin session than they did for the Cap 10k, so that's something. And I'm getting to know more T3ers each time I go to practice. Hmm, that's a thought, go to practice and maybe you'll feel more prepared! I just don't know where the time went! And of course, I really don't want to blink and it's suddenly September and I'm in the same spot for Longhorn, so I'm going to meet with my coach for a little sit down tomorrow.

In other news, taxes are almost done, though ouch! And the garden is taking shape- I will try to get some pictures to post on Thursday.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

T3 Spin and Core

It's not all that I remember! I don't think I've been to a T3 spin class in 6 weeks, maybe longer. Once spring sprang, I've been riding outside as much as possible, and avoiding the trainer. But after Monday's good spin at Gold's, and this morning's fantastic, but wet, thunderstorms, I wanted to spin again and figured why not try T3 spin again.

The evening spin classes start with a 30 minute core routine that is always brutal. At least half is ab work, plus bands to work the deep glutes and hip flexors, pushups, and hamstring curls. It really is focused on just what you need for triathlons, nothing else. I was dying just trying to keep up and I know I'm going to be sore tomorrow.

The spin class itself wasn't anything special today. First off, the music sucked. The great thing about the Gold's RPM class is that it is choreographed so that your cadence should follow the beat of the music. That helps you get into it and stay focused. T3 is just random music off an iPod, and today's selection was lame. Plus my attention kept wandering- looking at other people and their bikes, while Gold's is in a darkened room. And then my bike on the trainer is just not as steady, and we work more on high cadence, which I don't really like either. At Gold's, you can crank up on the resistance and throw your body weight to simulate a hill, and you can really work up a sweat. But of course, that's not really what you want to be doing in a triathlon- you'll expend too much energy on the bike and have nothing left for the run. So again, the T3 workout is designed to be just what you need to do triathlons. It's just not as exciting.

And then there's the team aspect. At the same time I'm drawn towards group activities, getting to know people, making connections, etc; I also work myself up that all these people will reject me, that I'm different because I don't look like a triathlete and I don't belong, and in my head I'm telling everyone that they can all go fuck themselves. And really it's all in my head, because everyone at T3 has been nothing but nice to me personally, and the annoying people are just annoying people. They're not directing their annoyingness at me. And it's amazing how much energy you can spend defending yourself and coming up with snappy comebacks from comments people haven't even made, and may never make. I try to just let it go, stay in the moment, not project opinions on to other people, but it is hard sometimes.

And finally, there's the weird intimacy of blogging. There are a number of T3ers that blog, and I have read some of their innermost thoughts. And yet, in real life, they don't know my name and there is no friedship. And that's fine, until you meet them in real life. It's like meeting a celebrity- you know all about them, and they don't know anything about you. It's a little disconcerting. And do you tell them you read their blog? What are the correct manners about that?

But anyway, good workouts today, and I've gotten a new logbook to record my workouts and plan them better. Longhorn is only 5 months and 28 days away!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blue Dog 5k race report

This morning was the Blue Dog Rescue Run for the Rovers 5k. I really wasn't feeling up to it, because it's one thing to run and get all sweaty with your running buddies; it's another when these are your professional colleagues. But I signed up, it was for a good cause, and it was a way to get my butt running, which I haven't been doing much of since the half six weeks ago. Of course, it was way up in Leander, and I got lost getting out there. Way lost, like I was up to Jarrell before I realized I'd missed the exit. So I get to the start right as they are singing the national anthem. A quick bathroom break, and then I pinned up my number as I was crossing the start line with the dog runners. No time for a warmup, which was a mistake as it took a mile to get into any kind of groove and to have my feet stop hurting. But, there was good people and dog watching, and I saw a number of current of former coworkers and their dogs. Lumpy Dog did not come with me, as large crowds make him crazy and want to bite people and other dogs. And they had a pretty good crowd- maybe 300 people. I finished in a painful 45:10, and the only disappointing thing was no raffle. I love small events with raffles because if you stick around long enough, you usually win something.

But it made me even more nervous about Lonestar. If 3 miles were painful, how about 6.7, after 28 miles of biking? I'm kicking myself for not training more consistently, and trying to figure out a way to do the sprint. No Aquabike for the Quarter, but maybe I could do the Half Aquabike? I just don't know. And 14 days away is not the time to be putting in harder workouts, but tapering. Maybe I can do a big brick on Monday to prove I can do the miles. But this is not my 'A' race, that Longhorn in October. I don't need all this pressure, and I don't need to bust myself for this first race of the season. I have three sprints to come over the summer, and I'm in fine shape to complete those. Argh, where did the time go?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Evening Ride

I love having it stay lighter in the evenings because I can get stuff done before the sun goes down. The garden is looking good, except that all the containers have had to move out of the back yard because Lumpy Dog want to eat them. He's only killed the garlic chives my cousin gave me, but has damaged the squash and bell peppers. And I got to go on a nice hour ride over to Onion Creek. My butt wasn't that sore from yesterday, but I could definitely feel it in my quads, so I tried to keep it a nice, high cadence spinning ride.

And I have only one event left for my HCO challenge, and there is nothing that fits my schedule and looks interesting. I think it's a good thing that I have a lot going on, and HCO was only supposed to fill in the gaps, but it's too bad I can't find anything that works. I think I will do the yoga next week, even though it's not an official HCO, it was affliated, so maybe that's close enough. And looking ahead to April, it's the same thing. A lot of the days don't have events yet, so I know there will be more coming, but with work, triathlon events, swim clinic, and previous social engagements, there is not a ton of open space. Of course I could do a 7 hour birding event, but really, that's just too many birds.

And I've been getting to do some "special surgeries" at work- not just spays and neuters. And one a little while ago was a Caesarean section on a chihuahua mismated to a lab mix. When she went into labor and couldn't get the first puppy out, the owners relinquished her to a shelter. Insert stupid people comment here. She had three huge puppies, and they all survived! She is an excellent mom- keeping those babies clean and their bellies full. The pups will probably have to be weaned early, but that's not a huge deal. Here's one of them, about an hour after surgery.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ride at Decker Lake

It has suddenly come upon me that the Lonestar Quarter (600 meter swim, 28 m bike, 6.7 m run) is quickly approaching. Like less than three weeks approaching! What happened? I still have a lot of training to do, serious training, not just the let's go out for a spin that I've been doing for the past three months.
So today, to honor that panicky feeling, I just went out to Decker Lake. The Danksin/ Couples bike course is 11 miles around the lake with three killer hills. I planned on doing three loops, with a minimum of two, because of the hills. I slept in, so didn't get on the bike until 10, and got to see a little bit of the rodeo action at the Expo center just down the road from the lake. I felt pretty good going out, and decided to add a little bit of the Longhorn course so I wouldn't have to go past all the horse trailer traffic again. Then doubled back to get the first killer hill again. This hill is such a pain because there is a sharp right hand turn on to it, so you can't carry any momentum up. And it is steep! And while it is only a medium length, it has a false flat right near the top so it feels like it never ends. Even in my easiest gear I'm struggling to go 40 rpms and doing the huffing breathing. It is painful.
I slowed at the top of the hill and thought "I could just turn around here at the top of the hill and not have struggle up it again." But the endorphins were flowing and I wanted to see where the road went on the other side, under the new toll road. So down the hill, which is a lot scarier going down so steeply, and then over to the new section that ends only about 500 yards from the highway. I soon found that going down the hill was a big mistake. That endorphin rush was the last gasp before the tiredness started to settle in. And there is no momentum to go up the hill- if you start from the toll road it makes the hill twice as long! I actually had to get off and walk up, which is the first time I've ever had to do that on the new bike. I was tanked, and still had 7 miles and two more killer hills to go!
The last two hills are called Bitch and Bastard on Hwy 969, which has quite a bit of traffic. Bitch is the worst because there's no shoulder, so when you're huffing to go up, cars are waiting behind you to pass. Bastard is longer but has a good shoulder. Both are pretty evil. When I finally got to the top, there was only about a mile left back to the car. I stumbled off and was still trying to catch my breath for about 5 minutes. A short pit stop at the convenience store on Decker Lane to get cold gatorade and Nutter Butters- yum! Then home for a shower and a three hour nap. I was toast.
So back to the panic for Lonestar- imagine that bike ride, followed by 6.7 mile run, after a 600 meter swim. Though Galveston is supposed to be pretty flat. And I have a large endurance base from all the half marathons this year. But if I could switch to the sprint, I would do that in a heartbeat, but I can't get off work on Friday and the sprint is on Saturday, while the quarter and half tris are on Sunday. That is one positive- there will be Half Iron triathletes that will still be out on the course when I finish so I can't be last! Thank God for small blessings!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Event #11

This event was birding at Turkey Creek at the Emma Long Metropolitan Park. I have always enjoyed birding on a very limited, and amateurish way. One winter at the YO I even started a birding list, and carried around binoculars, but that didn't last very long. Birders in general though, have a bad reputation for being nature know it alls, with their only goal in life to check birds off their life lists, with no regard to the greater scheme of things, like the reason you saw that specific bird on it's migratory route was because it was blown off course and is now going to die. Hurray for you!

So I have the push/pull thing going on, where I'd like to know more, but I don't want to become one of the bad birders. And then there's the idea that this would be something I would like to do in 50 years when I'm too old to do the fun stuff I do now. I also have sea kayaking and RVing on that list.

I was a little hesitant, but game. HCO didn't even have a leader for this event, just tacked on to the Audubon Society's weekly birding hike series. There were only 3 people signed up, and I don't think anyone else showed up. Of course, birding is supposed to be a quiet activity, so I didn't do much socializing to find out who was HCO anyway. There were about 40 people total, with the median age about 60. We split into two groups, and the leader was a quiet, bearish man in his 50s, who could recognize all the birds by ear.

Right off the bat, we saw very briefly the Golden Cheeked Warbler, which is an endangered species and has been a contentious bird around central Texas because efforts to slow habitat destruction have come up against developers. Immediately, the serious birders got in a tizzy about whether the two second look could be counted or not. We walked up the road a bit, saw some cardinals and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
and heard a couple of other birds. But no other Golden Cheeked Warblers. With 20 people though, it's hard to be quiet enough, and to get close enough to hear what the leader was saying. And I had to pee! Really bad. And normally, I'd go find a tree. But there were 40 people in the woods. With binoculars. So when we went past the parking lot to go up the trail, I just got back in my car and drove off to find a quiet place to pee down the road.

This is another recurring event, but I haven't decided if I will go back. This was the first one, and everyone was surprised at the turnout, so maybe next week will be fewer people, which would be a lot better. And I will pee many times before, so it won't be a problem again! And I have only one more HCO event to get to 12- this hasn't been too bad at all, and looking ahead, when I've been a member for 6 months I can become an event leader and get free membership. That would be pretty cool!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Event #10

With my 31 days of Yoga Challenge and my 12 HCO events in 3 months challenge, the two worlds collided with the HCO event Outdoor Yoga. This was at Butler Park, which is the newish park next to Palmer Events Center. It is an ongoing yoga class that is "by donation" and I wrongly thought it was sponsored by Austin Parks and Rec. It is not, and is actually one woman who does all the classes, though she is on vacation, and her substitute Ginger was teaching instead. S from the ski trip was leading it, and there was only one other HCOer there, but about 8 other people from the public. And with all the lovely new green grass, the class was instead on the hard fake wood dock. But it was a beautiful spring day, one of about five total in the whole year in Texas, and the class was actually very good. Ginger was a pretty good instructor and I enjoyed the poses she chose. One weird thing was her sighing- very loud and frequent. And I get the impression she was doing it on purpose. But these were angry, pay attention sighs, and it made me feel like there was a lot of pent up emotion that she really wanted to let out, but instead just sighed, loudly. Very distracting.

But I really enjoyed the outdoor part of it, the fountain noise, and the breeze, and the birds, and the sun. There was some noise from the kids playing, but it was far enough away to be pleasant. HCO is having another yoga class event next week, but on a day I can't go, but I think I will go back on my own.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yoga update

It is March 12 and I have had 12 days of yoga. There have been a few modifications, like lowering the minimum to 10 minutes and I skipped one day but did two sessions the next, so I guess that would really be only 11 days but 12 sessions. Whatever.

I've enjoyed it, and I am already seeing some increased flexibility. I have also found some new favorites. I have gone back to the Namaste Yoga, which as long as I concentrate on my pose and not the closeup of random crotches, it's fine. I do like that they have regular warm ups and cool downs, and the middle section is new poses. This is different from the yoga classes I've taken at Gold's which are usually all the same, with lots of Sun Salutations and the dreaded Downward Facing Dog.

One new favorite is the Pigeon pose (shown above) which I've done a variation of to stretch my iliotibial band and deep gluteals which have caused some problems with running. Another favorite from today is the wide Hero pose with side bends. Side bends always make me groan because I can tell how tight those muscles are and how resistant to stretching.

So, almost halfway, and doing pretty good keeping up with it. It makes me wonder what challenge I should do next month...

Swim Clinic

I'm taking the T3 swim clinic which is a six week, twelve session intense swim class. It focuses on breaking down your swim stroke into three parts- body balance, effective roll, and efficient swim technique. I have been a swimmer my entire life, been on numerous swim teams as a kid, spent one entire summer at the pool, and generally feel very comfortable in the water. I am not fast, but I am smooth.

One of the most important parts of the swim clinic is the videotaping sessions, one at the beginning and one towards the end. I had psyched myself up for the first one, which was this past Monday. I kept repeating my mantra of "this is how I am right now and I'm okay." So we did the taping, only to realize we wouldn't watch it until Wednesday, so two more days to wait! The coaches did a good job of breaking the whole class into men and women and filming the groups separately, even though there were only 6 women and probably 20 men. We swam down individually, first taping from the top and then taping underwater.

On Wednesday, we watched the video in our groups and it was eye opening. Remember, "this is how I am right now and I'm okay." First of all, swimsuits do not hide any flaws, and instead highlight them. And the buoyancy of the water allows any body fat to roll and move like seaweed in a not particularly attractive way. And that's everybody, even the two super skinny marathon runner types. If their body ripples and waves even at 10% body fat, then every body will! Second, the buoyancy does make your boobs look enormous. It reinforces (ha) why I like to wear a sports bra under my speedo.

But after the initial weirdness of seeing my body in water, I focused on the swim technique and Coach C was very good about freezing the picture and going in slow motion to highlight certain areas. She told me that I have very good body balance- my head and chest are pressing down which lifts up my hips and legs and makes me more streamlined. I have a good roll, which allows a strong release of energy with the pull. I have an "advanced" recovery, which we haven't talked about in class yet, where you keep a high elbow and relaxed hand to minimize drag on top of the water. So those are all very positive things.

Some things Coach C pointed out to work on- my extended arm is a little too close to the surface which causes the head to rise and the hips to drop. It probably should be about 6 inches further down. When I breathe, the extended arm drops too far down, which causes the stroke to be shortened. And my kick, which I always thought was a strength, is all from the knee and not from the hip, which is ineffective and causes more drag than forward propulsion. Who knew? Of course, probably the biggest limiter to improving my speed is the extra weight and drag. Even with the most balanced and efficient stroke, I will be slower than an equally balanced and efficient swimmer because I'm hauling around an extra 100 lbs. But that is not something that was pointed out or focused on because that is not going to change in a six week clinic. Instead, we focused on the things that can change. "And this is how I am right now and I'm okay."

So now I have a picture of all the things I can work on and improve. Of course, when we did get in the pool after watching the video, it gave me a headache trying to work on all of those things at once. But just keeping the arm extended in the correct position made me feel more streamlined and able to glide. And the remaining five weeks we will drill and concentrate on those areas so that at the last taping session, hopefully there will be noticeable improvement.

So it was just another view of "this is how I am right now and I'm okay." No one laughed at me. Everyone was more concentrating on themselves. And I had a much better stroke than a couple of the women, so if they were looking at me, it was how to have a stroke more like mine. I didn't spontaneouly combust or break down in a pile of tears. I didn't go home and eat a pile of pizza and cookies either. It was fine. It was useful. I can improve my swimming. "This is how I am right now and I'm an okay swimmer."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Event #9

This event was an evening walk around the Town Lake trail to P Terry's burger stand for dinner and then back. I was looking forward to it because they don't often have little events like this on Friday or Saturday nights, and because Friday is a weekday night to me, I like the shorter events better.

I have a new theory that you should wear a shirt that can be a conversation starter- I wore the Skeese Greets triathlon shirt, which is also a nice cranberry color. I started a conversation with a guy asking about his Colorado bike race shirt- see it works! At dinner, I talked with a guy who works at Dell. And then on the way back talked with a guy that's a nurse in the ICU. So that's three different guys I'm having conversations with in one night- wow!

The bad news was how glaring some people's eccentricities are and I wonder if I am just as bad, just not aware of it. There was the slurper- at dinner, chewing with his mouth open, slurping his drink, sucking his teeth, and picking out the leftover food bits. Gross. And then obvious social anxiety types with diarrhea of the mouth. And then the center of the universe types who turn the conversation to focus only on them.

But it was interesting to observe and for the first time I was just relaxed. Again, no guys were really dating material, so I could just converse and not take anything personally or overinterpret. And I think I as stop focusing on my issues in the group, I can see other people's issues. And the only thing they're focused on is their own issues, so it makes my issues even less noticeable. That's a little circular, but true.

Anyway, a good time, pretty good exercise- four miles at a pretty fast walking pace- I got sweaty so I'm counting it as exercise. Though I should have stretched afterwards- I'm a little stiff this morning!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Taco Soup

1 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
1 onion, chopped
3 cans of beans- black, kidney, pinto, your choice
2 cans Rotel
1 can corn
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch seasoning

Brown the beef with onions, then dump everything (don't drain the cans) into a big soup pot and heat over medium for 20 minutes until heated through. Put a serving in a bowl and add sour cream or avocado or fritos (or all three) and enjoy! Though there are a lot of beans in there, be careful!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Desiree Ficker!

I went to Jack and Adam's for my bike fit and Zane made a bunch of adjustments- lowered and moved the saddle back, moved the cleats on the shoes out, moved the brakes in, and moved the aero bar up. Throughout this adjustment, I'm sweating all over the place. I'm not working very hard, but it's always warm in the store, and I get nervous when people look at me. And then there's the constant stream of customers peaking into the fit area- they're getting pretty busy as the weather warms up. And who is one of their sponsored athletes who comes in to get an adjustment on her bike? Desiree Ficker!

I've seen her on TV- in the Kona Ironman where she placed second, and at the Olympic Marathon trials, and on the cover of Runner's World magazine. She is amazing! And now she's watching me on the bike! Of course, I do remember last year's CapTex, where I was so proud to have finished when a bunch of people dropped out due to heat exhaustion, and she was one of them. She could have finished on her hands and knees and still beat me, but that's beside the point. She didn't finish and I did. And apparently that's pretty common among professionals- once they realize they're not having a good enough day to finish in the money, they stop and conserve their resources for the next race when they could make some money. But then dropping out always gives you an option to do so, and it doesn't look very good either. But that's the life of a pro.

Anyway, I'm happy to get my bike adjusted and want to go for a ride this afternoon. I will never by a professional triathlete, but that's okay. I will also never be this guy either.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

31 Days of Yoga

So I'm not much of a bandwagon person, but when there is a good idea, I jump on it. Using Google Reader, I now follow about 70 blogs- not all of them are good, and I'm deleting some of them as I figure out they're not interesting to read. But one new one I found and like is Carrots and Cake she is doing a 31 Days of Yoga challenge. I've always wanted to like yoga, and most of the classes I've taken just haven't hooked me, most likely because I go once and then give up on them. So trying different classes, DVDs, online, etc for just 20 minutes a day sounds relatively easy and enjoyable. Especially trying out the Yoga Online free 20 minute audio classes. I can download them to iTunes and print out the pose guide to follow along. And I like the audio because they're pretty good at describing what the next pose is, and I'm not craning my neck to see the TV. I have tivoed Namaste Yoga from FitTV and it's porn with a yoga twist- soft music, closeups of scantily clad women in odd poses exerting themselves. The one I did on Sunday was almost too annoying to continue, mainly because I'm sweating and shaking and giving the stink eye to the models instead of concentrating on the yoga.

So it's March 3 and I've done three classes, and my favorite so far is the Gentle Hatha Yoga #1. I like the slower, more stretching and breathing yoga better at this point. I can feel the extra weight I've put on and the strength that I have lost since I stopped going to the gym, but at the same time, I'm working on the breathing and being okay with where I am. I have a mantra: "this is where I am right now and I'm okay," so when my mind starts yelling that I've let myself go, I was a lot stronger last year, why are my arms shaking, I hate downward dog, blah, blah, blah. I just repeat "this is where I am right now and I'm okay." That doesn't mean I want to stay here forever, I'd like to get stronger and fitter, more flexible and at peace, but hating is not the way to get there.

This is where I am right now and I'm okay.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bike ride parts I and II

So I was all excited to see T3 was planning a Sunday group ride because the weather on Saturday was expected to be so windy. I convinced S to come with me and we were going to do the 30 mile ride down 360 to Parmer. I knew it was going to be pretty chilly, but I'd ridden once before when it was cold, so I thought I was going to be okay.

31 degrees with 10 mph winds is not okay. S and I lasted 1.46 miles before we gave up. It turns out a bunch of the T3ers did the same, but most lasted a little bit longer than we did, though some just didn't come at all and did 80 miles on the trainer (that's horrible!)

So we regrouped at noon for a ride down Southwest Parkway and by then it was sunny and 50- much better, though the winds had picked up to 15 mph. The main problem was not the wind but all the fiddling I've done with the saddle and pedals- it's all wrong now and I can tell it's wrong but can't figure out how to make it not wrong. So my knees and hands hurt the whole way. But we got in 18 miles and I have an appointment for a bike fit this week- yay!