Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Splash and Dash

I'd heard about the Splash and Dash last year, but didn't get around to doing one. It's a series of mini races, the third Tuesday of each month from April to September. It's a 750 m swim in Quarry Lake and then a 3k- three loops of the 1 km trail around the lake. Sounds like fun, right? I had done my long run on Monday night- incorporating it into the hill workout. It was a long slow run, probably wound up being less than 6.5 miles, instead of the 7, because of the hills around Wilke. But done in 1:46 and that's plenty of running for one night. And I was having all sorts of odd pains- feet, left hamstring, GI issues, etc.

So I was planning on a nice little training exercise for the Splash and Dash. Short, but sweet, get some open water swimming in, and then a little jog. Man I was wrong! As it turns out, there is a huge rivalry about who is the fastest in this series, and this is no training run. This is an all out sprint! And I was so not ready for it. The swim was solid- started way at the back of the pack and was passing people steadily throughout. Still thinking too much about technique and not speed, but that's okay for now.

And then out of the water, the fast people were continuously passing me because it was a 3 lap course. And the trail is pretty narrow and has overhanging trees and shrubs all the way around. So lap 1 was pretty busy, and lap 2 was thinning out as people finished. Lap 3 was the worst, because I knew I was going to be last as the other slow runner past me. And all the finishers were walking back on the trail back to the picnic area. Did I mention how narrow this trail was? It angers me to no end how discourteous some athletes can be. "I finished and therefore the race is over." Um, no it's not, and I paid my entry fee just like you did, now get out of my fucking way! I stared down a bunch of them and held my ground going past them- if you don't move I will run you over, asshole! There were a number of them off to the side, cheering, and encouraging me to finish, and that was nice, but really, if they would all just clear the path, that's more than enough.

And I know there is some legitimate anger at inconsiderate people, but really, the anger is at me for being last. This is the third race I've been DFL- a 5k in College Station, the Longhorn Aquabike, and now this. And portions of the Hottest Half, but we did not finish last as we passed some people in the last miles. It sucks, even when I know someone has to be last, just as someone has to be first. But the bottom line is I want to perform better- I know I can run and swim faster, and I am making progress, it's just not as quick as I want it to be.

And on the other hand, I really enjoyed the bike ride in Selma- it was non- competitive- you biked, you rested, you finished. It was a lot more fun than this race, and that's something to remember. And I think in longer races, and in races with wave starts, it's less noticeable who is last, and I like that a whole lot better. But unless I get faster, I may DFL again. And I have to be okay with that. And remember that it is true: DFL>DNF>DNS.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fiesta Wildflower Ride

The Fiesta Wildflower ride in Selma was this morning, and it was great! I do so much riding by myself that I'm always looking for group rides on Sundays. It had 25, 40, 65, and 100 mile options and back in January when I signed up, I picked the 65 mile, which is a metric century or 100k. Last week, I decided I would probably just do the 40, and then after a week of stomach flu, I was hoping I could finish the 25! But it was a nice morning, even though I was exhausted after work and staying up late to see Avenue Q (which was really good- I highly recommend it!) The wind picked up as soon as the sun rose, and was a steady 15 mph with gusts up to 30- that's a lot of wind!

We set off at 8, and I was hoping to do the 40, but there was a turn about midway to join the 25ers to end up with 30, so I had that as an escape plan. There were a lot of rolling hills to start, but nothing too bad. With 1000 riders total, there were a lot of cyclists on the road and it was great. I enjoyed the people watching, and chatting, and it wasn't too bad getting too close or bunched up. The main problem was I needed to pee right from the start! I knew there were rest stops every 10 miles, and I was dying to go when we rolled in. The first stop had only 1 port o pottie, and had already run out of all the food except oranges. And there were stout barbed wire fences at the edges of the road, so no place to get some privacy behind a tree. And I was not going to wait until mile 20, so I was in line for about 30 minutes. It was a long time! And by the time I was back on the bike, I was at the end of the pack and kicking myself for not passing the rest stop and finding a convenient tree a mile down the road. I hustled to keep pace with the group ahead, and worried the sag wagon would come behind like it has before and is so awful!

But at the next rest stop, there was the pack again. I got a quick snack and was back on the road shortly, back in the middle of the pack. From then on, I had good groups around me, and no worries about being last. And because it's not a race or a triathlon, there is a much calmer, more relaxed attitude. People stop for 20 minutes at rest stops just to chat and eat. There are no drafting rules, so you can ride side by side if there's no traffic. I really enjoyed it! And the roads were okay, mostly smaller, rural roads, so not in perfect condition, but with such a large group, the cars were a lot more polite in giving plenty of passing room.

I passed the short cut turnoff with no question I felt strong enough to do the full 40. One more rest stop at mile 30 for oranges- they really hit the spot! I talked with two guys on recumbent tricycles- I'd like to try that, but I think they look silly. The last five miles were more in the suburbs and relentless hills. My legs were a little tired, and I was ready to be done, but it was not ready to be done with me. Luckily I chatted with a woman in a Team in Training jersey who is training for her first tri at CapTex- the same race I trained with TNT for last year! And that made the last two miles go by more quickly, and then we were done! It's funny to me that people think I'm the expert, or look up to me for what I've done. But at the same time, I think I am a good example that anyone who wants to try it, should try it.

The end was not nearly as well stocked as the rest stops, and only had personal pan pizzas and water. And no music- not even the radio. I ate my pizza and then was ready to be out of the wind, so I headed home. After a quick shower, I crashed on the couch with the kittens for a good catnap. HA!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Foster Kittens

Here are my latest group of foster kittens. These are the first of 2009- which is pretty cool right there- very little need for foster homes until April! The kitten season is getting later and later, each of the three years that I have fostered kittens, mainly due to increased spay/neuter, particularly by the feral cat program at AHS. The pipeline of homeless animals is being narrowed. Many of the places that adopt out animals are taking in animals with more problems that in previous years they would have euthanized for space, because there are fewer animals available. So it is a good problem to have, and one that will continue to evolve as spay/neuter, increased education, and legislation all come together to tackle this overpopulation problem.

One downside in keeping older or younger animals, or animals with multiple or more severe problems, is that the success rate can be lower. A point in fact is there are six kittens in the picture above with Lumpy Dog. There are now only four kittens. These six kittens were turned in via the night box at TLAC, five together and one singleton. They were about a month old, at or a little less than a pound. Most kittens are still nursing and just experimenting with solid food at a month. Who knows what happened to the moms- killed, sick, abandoned the kittens? In years past, kittens less than 1 lb without a mom are immediately euthanized because they require more than a month in foster care, increased need for medical care, and lower success rate due to illness. Because this year there are fewer kittens and more foster homes available, they decided to give these guys a chance, and I was available to take them.

I picked them up last week and got them settled in the kitten room. I took them to the ranch over Easter weekend, as I have in years past, and the two smallest kittens broke with tarry diarrhea on Sunday. In the space of about 3 hours, despite force feeding, both were dead. I suspect Panleukopenia, which the feline version of Parvo. With immediate SQ or IV fluids, antibiotics, and intensive nursing care, these two may have made it. Or maybe not. Maybe there was too much stacked against them- too young, no mom, stress, change in diet, etc. So far the other four kittens are doing okay, but I can't help to keep staring at them and thinking "when are they going to break with it?"

It does make you think that pet owners are the craziest people of them all. We get so attached to these animals, knowing that they are going to die. If everything goes exactly as it should, even the best case scenario, we are going to out live our pets. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Oh, right.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not fun...

Gastroenteritis is a condition that causes irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Diarrhea, crampy abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, and fever are the most common symptoms. Viral infection is the most common cause of gastroenteritis but bacteria, parasites, and food-borne illness (such as shellfish) can be the offending agent. Many people who experience the vomiting and diarrhea that develop from these types of infections or irritations think they have "food poisoning," and they may indeed have a food-borne illness. Many people also refer to gastroenteritis as "stomach flu," although influenza has nothing to do with the condition. Travelers to foreign countries may experience "traveler's diarrhea" from contaminated food and unclean water. The severity of infectious gastroenteritis depends on the immune system's ability to resist the infection. Electrolytes (these include essential elements of sodium and potassium) may be lost as you vomit and experience diarrhea. Most people recover easily from a short bout with vomiting and diarrhea by drinking fluids and easing back into a normal diet. But for others, such as infants and the elderly, loss of bodily fluid with gastroenteritis can cause dehydration, which is a life-threatening illness unless the condition is treated and fluids restored.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Post race ramblings

So actually, because I've never done the Quarter Iron distance, Lonestar was a PR for me. That's something. And when I went back to swim clinic practice on Monday and everyone was asking about how it went, it was hard to have a good answer. I'm not where I want to be with my training, but at least I can do it, and not everyone can. I got some good feedback and have a good idea of where I am and how to get to Longhorn. But that takes a little too long to say.

And then I come back to thinking about all the cheering during the race. I am slow, and carry more weight than the average person. But I am not a rookie- I've done enough races to feel comfortable participating in these events. And the issue I have is when people I don't know cheer specifically for me. Most often these are spectators or volunteers, and they say "you go, girl" "good for you" "way to get out there" and being the sort of person I am, I try to over-interpret their comments. Are they cheering me on because they don't often see a fat woman in a triathlon? Do they wish they could do it too? Do they think "if she can do it, I can do it?" Do they wonder if I can finish? Do they think I've gotten in over my head? "How can she still be out there when everyone else has finished?"

And while most of the thoughts behind those words are positive, I am uncomfortable with the attention. I just don't like being stared at, and it's too bad that I can't do a triathlon in a vacuum all by myself. I wish I could just be the average, blend in to the crowd triathlete. "Nothing to see here people, move on..."

And then while sometimes I like the distraction of smiling or giving a thumbs up or waving at the cheerers, it gets tiring. I feel like I waste a lot of energy that I should be directing at moving forward. But how can you not say thanks to volunteers that could be a thousand other places than at a race on their Sunday morning?

Anyway, I don't think there is an answer to these concerns. Everyone has a reason to be looked at, and during long, multi-lap races, there is a lot of time to kill for both the participants and the spectators and volunteers. People watching is harmless fun. Maybe it's the effort the participants are putting forth, and the just sitting the spectators are doing? Of course, I have learned that ringing a cow bell for a long period of time can make you sore.

I think the trick is to let it all go, and just go train for the next race!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lonestar Quarter Triathlon race report

I had a lot of angst going into this race, and in the end, it all turned out fine. I had a good time watching my friend C do her first ever triathlon- the sprint on Saturday. I think I am a very good sherpa, though my pictures were not all that great. And it gave me a lot of time to figure out the course and learn all the little tricks, like where the good bathrooms are! Moody Gardens is an excellent venue with plenty of parking, good indoor bathrooms, and plenty of space for spectators. And Endorfun who puts on this event is fantastic. I've been to a number of events where I wonder where my registration fee goes because they're not spending it on the race. Not this one- good organization, good schwag, decent food. Too bad they couldn't dial in some better weather- it was hot, humid, and windy!

Anyway, Sunday comes around and I'm just ready to be done with it already. The swim is cold- about 65 degrees, and with the wind, it is pretty choppy. I settle in to a comfortable pace, but am focused more on my technique than speed, doing drills during the race. That slowed me down. Plus, I didn't know how much gas I would need in the tank later, so I didn't want to go out too hard.

The bike was the best part- flat out and back. There was supposed to be a headwind going out, but it was more of a cross wind. So when I hit the turn around, I was expecting this big push back in and it wasn't there. Though I was going about 12 mph out and 15-16 mph back, so there was some help. I was about 50-50 in the aerobars, which is pretty good for me. And the only major problem was my bike shorts were all bunched up in the crotch and I couldn't fix them, so that was uncomfortable. I tried to think of songs that I knew the words to as a distraction, and as soon as I hit the turnaround, I knew I would be able to finish.

At T2, I changed shorts and went to the bathroom, and then set off for the run. I took it slow and steady, and once I found my legs, was able to maintain a jog. I didn't have to walk, though I did walk the aid stops and the one little hill. It was a two loop course, which was just fine, though a little windy, so at points I couldn't really tell exactly where I was. The nicest thing about the whole race was that the Quarter got started first, so that most of us were finishing as the Half leaders came on to the run course. What that meant for me is that I got to watch the leaders with the bike guide, and the excitement of the second and third place guys trying to catch up. And because they have four laps, I got to see them a couple of times before I finished. It was hot, and the wind didn't get bad until after noon, so it was just stifling hot. The funniest thing is that 10k I did last weekend- the same time as this 6.5 m run. So I run faster after doing 2.5 hours of other exercise. Hmm. That's just a little odd!

Anyway, after the race, I got into the massage tent immediately because most of the Quarter athletes had left and the Halfers hadn't finished yet. And same with the food tent. It was perfect. C and I watched the T3ers run for a while before she had to leave, and then I hung around a little longer before I went to the hotel to shower and eat before coming back for the awards ceremony. And I won a free prize- a fuel belt, though since I already have one, I gave it to another T3er who doesn't, but still- I won something! Yay!

So I finished. I worked myself up, and did just fine. And hopefully that panic will translate into going to practices so it won't happen for the next race. Of course, the next three are all sprints, but I can work on speed for those, before gearing up for the longer two races at the end of the season. Longhorn is only 5 months and 19 days away!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Swim clinic video part two

So this week was the second video session for the swim clinic, and while the first one was bad, this one was worse. All the things I have been working on and feeling good about- the video shows that, no, I'm not doing it right. Of course, the second time around we are much more critical of the technique, and I don't think I'm regressing. It's just that, in my head, I'm doing all the right things, but my body is not translating those thoughts into action. But at the same time, I would never know that if we didn't videotape. So it is a good thing overall, but still painful to watch.

If you want to see how it is supposed to look see Grant Hackett below (though you may get more out of it if you can understand French!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

EvoMe Check In #2

So back in January, I proposed this EvoMe challenge, with all sorts of benchmarks and measurements to show my progress. Well, that hasn't panned out very well, most importantly because I have decided to try a different tactic as far as the dieting goes. Because a year of concentrated diet, personal trainer, half marathon and triathlon training, and my weight was up. And I was eating out of control. So I found a couple of new ideas in the following books: Shrink Yourself by Roger Gould and Overcoming Overeating by Hirschmann and Munter and Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch. The basic premise of all of these books is that by restricting your eating, you automatically set up rebellious binge overeating. It's a cycle: feel bad about how overweight you are, start a diet, eventually get tired of the restrictions and someone else telling you what to eat, overeat, feel bad about how overweight and now out of control you are. Repeat endlessly until you feel crazy.

They say people who are overweight do not have a food problem, but a calming problem. Eating for comfort is a learned activity that has been the only way to calm yourself in the past. It's the equivalent of applying ice cream to a scraped knee. Some people drink, some people yell, some people curl up in a ball, some people eat.

And then, once you get good at that, you learn to translate all your problems into eating problems. Have a hard day at work? Come home and overeat, and then beat yourself up about overeating, vow to get back on the diet, etc ad nauseum. When really, the problem was work. It just got translated into food, because that's a known problem, not the uncertain and more difficult work problems. Those can be completely avoided because your focus is on food.

And the answer they propose is to be a better caretaker of yourself. Accept who you are right now because that is not going to change this second. Be gentle with how you talk to yourself. Wear comfortable clothes and get rid of all the skinny clothes that don't fit. Throw away your scale. And most importantly, legalize all food. Eat what your body wants. Eat how much your body wants. Stop eating when your body is satisfied. And with time, you will stop using food as a calming device and only use it for fuel, and you will find your natural weight.

So I've been working on these ideas for the past month or so, and I think it's working. I'm calmer and more accepting of where I am right now. I'm trying to treat myself like a friend. I legalized all food, and after three days of pizza and chocolate chip cookies, I was craving tuna fish. Sometimes it's lunch time and I'm not hungry, so I don't eat right then. And it's surprising and a little sad when about five bites into a nice dinner, I'm full. Now I have to recognize and honor that, just like I recognize and honor that biscuits are what my stomach wants for dinner. And, no, I'm not miraculously at my natural weight, and may not be for some time. That's okay. And what if where I am right now is my natural weight? That's okay too. And I still have moments of mouth hunger that I don't feel like working through to get to the underlying emotion. But I feel like I'm in a better place now than I've been in for a long time. And that's more than okay.