Monday, June 29, 2009

competing like it's for $10,000

As I've mentioned a dozen times or so already, yesterday was a race day for me. I'm not going to post a long, boring race report, just a few of the highlights.

I did the race with a friend and we were talking with our husbands before the race about how nervous we were, and how we didn't train like we thought maybe we should have. My friend said, "It's just for fun. I might have done things differently if it was for, like, ten thousand dollars." And then we both looked at each other and I could tell we were thinking the same thing. "Why didn't we train like it was worth ten thousand dollars?"

So in October, I will be competing for $10,000. Well, I will be if I can find someone to spot the 10Gs. But otherwise, I'll just ask myself how I would train if it were for that much money, and try to do that. I couldn't quit my job for $10,000, but I sure would make my training a priority. So, OK, I'll just do that.

By the way, we couldn't have had better race-day support if we had been professional athletes. Our husbands really took good care of us all day long, cheered for us along the way, took photos and videos and were just generally great.

This is my tentative $10,000 training plan:

Week Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
22-Jun swim run 30-40 min Pilates walk off off Triathlon
29-Jun swim run 30-40 min Pilates 6-7 miles Cycle/Yoga* Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
6-Jul swim run 30-40 min Pilates 7-8 miles Cycle/Yoga* Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
13-Jul swim run 30-40 min Pilates 8-9 miles Cycle/Yoga* Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
20-Jul swim run 30-40 min Pilates 9-11 miles Cycle/Yoga* Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
27-Jul swim run 30-40 min Pilates 4-6 miles Cycle/Yoga* Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
3-Aug swim run 30-40 min Pilates 11-13 miles Cycle/Yoga* Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
10-Aug swim run 30-40 min Pilates 4-6 miles bike Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
17-Aug swim run 30-40 min Pilates 12-14 miles bike Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
24-Aug swim run 30-40 min Pilates 5-6 miles bike Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
31-Aug swim run 30-40 min Pilates 13-15 miles bike Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
7-Sep swim run 30-40 min Pilates 5-7 miles bike Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
14-Sep swim run 30-40 min Pilates 14-15 miles bike Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
21-Sep swim run 30-40 min Pilates 5-8 miles bike Pilates/bike run 30-40 min
28-Sep swim run 30 minutes Pilates run 30 minutes walk off half marathon

I'm sure there will be modifications along the way.

You see that Pilates (specifically, Pilates Reformer) has a significant role in my $10,000 training plan. There is a very good reason for that. I felt pretty amazing yesterday after finishing my race (in 1:38:31 for the time geeks out there), a time that was right in the same range of my other sprint tris, even though I felt like my training was not quite as rigorous as I would have liked it to be. Usually I feel more tired and sore and have bad headaches and GI problems after long races. My husband and I thought about what was different and came up with a few ideas.

  1. Pilates reformer classes. I didn't have any injury problems in training and I didn't feel like I was beat up with a baseball bat after the race was over. I think the core strength I built with these classes was a big factor.
  2. Probiotics. I have been reading The Probiotics Revolution (review forthcoming) and have been including daily doses of kefir and/or yogurt, plus the probiotic-friendly foods suggested in the book.
  3. Salt. At one of my triathlons I heard about hyponatremeia, and though my symptoms aren't severe enough to match the clinical definition, I wondered if my usual low-salt diet, plus the heat and the fact that I lose a lot of salt when I sweat, might be a factor in how I was feeling. I made sure to have saltier-than-usual foods before and after the race just in case.
  4. Heat acclimatization. I've been spending less time in air conditioning and more time training in the heat. My husband reminded me that I went out and trained in long pants on several days that most sane people were wearing shorts. Plus, our air conditioner went out for a while when it got really hot.
I'm not sure which, if any, of these was the magical factor, but since they are all easy and low-risk, I can definitely include them in my next training plan.

The best thing about the race is that it got me pumped up and excited. As silly as it sounds, I feel like now that this race is out of the way, I can really focus on my training. Half-marathon, here I come.

Anyone have $10,000?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pre-race jitters

Sunday is The Big Race.

Distances: 1/2 mile swim, 10.7 mile bike, 3 mile run.

I went to go do a practice swim on Monday and my favorite goggles were missing. I decided I must have left them at the open-water swim last Saturday and was discouraged. Then the backup pair of goggles I had broke. The inside of my head sounded something like this: "What a bad omen, I don't want to try out new goggles for the first time on race day, I'm so stupid, Why did I sign up for this dumb race anyway, Those were my favorite goggles, I feel so fat and out of shape..."

Yeah, that sucks, doesn't it?

I wasn't able to find identical goggles at Dick's and bought some semi-acceptable ones at Target. I toyed with the idea of buying new ones and having them second-day aired to my house for an exorbitant fee.

Then I told the friend I went to the race with about my goggle problem and she told me that she had my goggles in her car, and that she had bought identical ones at Dick's (I was just looking in the wrong place). Then I kept finding goggles all over my house. I apparently had three pairs of them, two with clear lenses and one with blue. I feel like this is some sort of joke the Universe is playing on me to tell me to lighten up, already.

I'm still a little nervous but realistically, what is my problem? Even if I have a terrible race, SO WHAT? The real benefit of the race was that it got me off the couch and onto my bike, into the pool, and out in my running shoes all spring.

After all the stress of triathlon training and planning, the half marathon I have planned for fall seems simple: No bike, no goggles, nothing but me and my running shoes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Starting where you are

I was a little taken aback by a comment on my last post but I would agree that the guidelines in the book I reviewed would seem intimidating. I saw it as an interesting alternative to the typical idea of aging, which would suggest that it would be different from what most people do.

Even the authors never suggested that a person should jump right into an extreme exercise program. They are careful to say that those just starting out should consult with a doctor, a trainer, etc., to determine what is appropriate given individual fitness level and physical limitations.

I started my own exercise program just by taking a walk every day until I was ready to do more. I took classes at my gym when I felt ready to bump up the level a bit. When I switched to running, I started out with just a few minutes at a time. When I compared myself to other people, or even to myself at an earlier age, I felt discouraged sometimes. To progress, I had to focus on my own incremental improvement. It took a long time to get better, and I had injuries and frustrations along the way. At one point, I had an injury, tendonitis in my foot, that prevented me from walking comfortably -- not from walking around the block, but from being able to walk around in the I grocery store. I promised myself then that I was going to give up focusing on the competition if I could ever race again, and just be happy to be there.

There is always that temptation to compare yourself to someone else, though. I went to an open-water swim sponsored by the triathlon I'm doing next week. I had planned to do 4 laps (1600 meters) but decided to do only 3 (1200 meters). I was OK with my time, 40 minutes, but the woman I went with (who has never done a swim like this before) was all worried when she found me. It seemed she had finished the same distance in 22 minutes and had gotten scared, thinking something had happened to me. I'm glad I didn't try for the fourth lap or she might have been frantic.

I told her, "It's not that I'm slow, it's that you are fast!" I could be unhappy that someone did it faster than me, but I really do believe I did fine. I am looking forward to the race next week. I enjoy racing because it makes me feel good, not because it makes me feel better than someone else.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Pursuit of Healthyness

As I've said before, I find it hard to be motivated to eat right and exercise if I focus on weight loss. For one thing, since April, I have been losing and regaining the same 2-3 pounds. I need better motivation than that!

The race is one thing I am using to motivate myself. I'm doing a practice open-water swim tomorrow, and I think I'm going to opt for the longest of the 3 distance options (1600 meters). Today, which was going to be a rest day, was so pretty for a while that I went out for an "easy" 45 minute bike ride with my husband, which turned into a much faster ride than either of us had planned -- I felt like I had it in me. Yesterday I did an hour run.

I'm also thinking a lot about the idea of good health as something to actively pursue for its own sake, and not just something that might accidentally happen on the way to getting thin. I want to be able to live as a healthy, active person for as long as possible. Younger Next Year for Women caught my eye at the bookstore, and even though I'm not in the target age group, I thought I might get a head start on aging well by reading it now. Authors Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., adapted their bestseller Younger Next Year (presumably for men) to appeal to women by adding some specialized information on menopause, lifelong beauty, and other specifically female concerns. They didn't, unfortunately, bring in a woman to write about these things, which would have improved the book. Chris has a fun, off-the-cuff style, but at times, he gets too carried away talking about all the "beautiful creatures" he encounters on his exercise adventures, and barely mentions his own wife, which I think plays right into many women's fears that they will become invisible and irrelevant as they age. That was the one sour note in the book for me. His attempts to reassure women that they can still be beautiful as they get old were pretty unconvincing to me. A woman might have done a better job. And two guys talking about menopause and vaginal dryness... ick.

Those problems aside, the authors do an incredible job of explaining exactly why we might want to follow Harry's Rules and exercise 6 days a week (4 days of cardio, 2 days of strength training) for the rest of our lives. Harry's clear explanations of the science behind aging and the reason exercise can help slow or even stop it are really engrossing. And Chris tells things from a man-on-the-street perspective that can be really compelling, "You do have to age, but you don't have to rot . . . the weakness, the sore joints, the lousy balance, the feeling crappy. . . 70 percent of that horror can be forestalled almost until the end." Instead of a long, slow decline through middle and old age, Harry and Chris advocate a long plateau of health until just before death at a ripe old age. Sounds appealing, especially with the emphasis on staying fit and healthy, staying connected to other people, staying committed to things you care about. Their basic premise is that the body relentlessly sweeps away muscle if we're not using it, and that vigorous exercise, including strength training, keeps our joints healthy and can even reverse arthritis.

I really do think it was a good idea to start reading the book now, though, because I'm 38 and I have spent the summer working up to exercise equivalent to their Level 2, and I'm not sure when I'll be able to make it to their (optional) Level 3! They do provide a roadmap for getting there, though, even if you're pre-Level 1 right now.

I think the book is definitely worth a read for people who like the geeky details behind good health guidelines and who feel up to the challenge of actively pursuing good health instead of trying to stave off bad health.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Busy!

So, back in the early spring I decided it would be a good idea to sign up for a triathlon on the 28th of June, right around the time my classes for the summer ended. How difficult could co-teaching two classes be?

This course has been excruciating, for me and for the students. I'm constantly fielding frantic emails from people in a total panic. Because I'm co-teaching, I have to consult my partner on a lot of decisions I would normally be able to make quickly. Plus I'm helping with a couple of evaluation projects, we hired two people in the summer, and I'm going to a conference in early July.

The good thing is that because I have the tri on my schedule, I'm still training for it, though of course not as diligently as I'd like. I went swimming on Monday. I ran yesterday and toyed with the idea of biking, though I decided not to when the skies were gloomy and I felt like taking a nap. Today I did my Pilates Reformer class, which is not tri-specific training but which has helped immensely with running form and injury prevention. This Saturday, I'm going to the race course to do an open-water swim. I feel confident about the run, pretty good about the swim, and a little worried about the bike.

Just thought I'd give you the quick scoop in case you were wondering where I was. Now back to grading papers and answering emails....

Friday, June 12, 2009

Like, Really (words used on this blog)

I used Wordle to create a word cloud of the most-frequently used words on this blog. It's an amazing tool, and it makes me rethink the language I'm using in my posts. I mean, like, really.

Vanity pounds

My Weight Chart:
Weight Chart

That's Jillian Michaels's term for those last 15 pounds. I like the term because it is a reminder of the relative importance of losing them.

I had a scale mirage today. The first time I got on my scale, it said 166.5 -- which would have represented a 6.6 pound loss from last week. I didn't believe it, so I played the step-on-step-off game for a while. 171 was the number that came up most often, so that's what I recorded, but I should have quit while I was ahead.

I decided to go back to journaling with my "Lose It!" iPhone app. The Weight Watchers Mobile application is really limited and you need to have an internet connection to use it. Since I have an iPod Touch and rely on free wireless, I would rather use something that works offline. I set my WW Online subscription to expire when my 3-month prepaid period ends so I don't get billed $16.95 a month for something I'm not finding useful.

I got in the pool today and swam for 45 minutes. My arms feel like they got a good workout. I need to do at least one day a week until my race.

By the way, someone asked about my half marathon in October. It's this one: The Brooksie Way Half Marathon. There aren't a lot of half marathons around here in the fall, so I was happy to find this one, and it's in a beautiful location.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Training update

My trip to the West Coast seems to have scattered my mind even more than usual and I've been playing catchup all week. I'm still training for my race, but I feel like I could write a children's book about my experiences called "The Laziest Triathlete." I run consistently. I have been in the pool, oh, maybe 10 times all year, but I don't seem to have lost much in swimming ability. I have been out on my bike enough to know I can do the distance. I've done some Pilates Reformer classes to keep injuries at bay. I have a few more weeks to make up for some of my lost time.

I'm going to make it through the race mostly on my running endurance and my experience of doing races like this before. It will probably be one of the slower tris I've ever done. I expected to have more time and energy this summer and underestimated how draining my summer class would be. Still, having the race on the schedule has gotten me out and training more than I would have if I had nothing special planned.

Things are starting to settle down a little. Maybe enough that I can actually really train for my half marathon in October.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sleepless in Toledo

I had one of those nights last night. It was hot in our room, the cat kept knocking things over to wake me up, I just couldn't get comfortable in bed. Of course, about twenty minutes after the bed felt like the most comfortable thing on earth...

"I have to be halfway across town in 20 minutes!" says my husband.

"Fine, go. What are you yelling at me for?" I mumble, half-asleep still.

When I was tossing and turning, I tried to bore myself to sleep with a little visualization of what I would look like when I was at my goal weight and buying all new clothes. Oddly, this was not the comforting, easy prelude to dreamland that I thought it would be. I just couldn't imagine it, and then I got wound up wondering what that meant.

Then when I finally fell asleep, I dreamed about obsessively searching for the right bikini to wear to the beach (as if).

The last time I got to my goal weight, I had fun shopping for smaller and smaller sizes, but then I sort of forgot about clothes because I didn't worry anymore about what I looked like. Feeling that way was really disorienting. It was like I didn't know what to do with all my unused brainpower (and at that point, I was still in a PhD program, so there is really something wrong with me). I used to get up, put on the first shirt and pants I grabbed, and be off to the races. It's hard to imagine that kind of life.

I really wonder if the secret to getting there is being able to picture it, and I also wonder why I can't really do that. Something to ponder, I guess, when my brain finally wakes up.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Back and forth (originally posted by mistake at toledolefty)

I have been toying with the idea of dropping my Weight Watchers Online subscription, because I hate to pay for something I'm not using, and I have not been journaling much in the last few weeks. I thought that my trip would be a good time to start, but then I didn't. My food was weird and I didn't have a lot of time to myself or a reliable wireless connection for using the mobile points counter. I really wish that WW would create an app like "Lose it!" that doesn't require a constant connection to the Internet to work.

I thought I'd give it another try before I make the decision. Honestly, the $15-ish dollars that I'm spending for my online monthly subscription is not that much. I am going to go back to a strategy that has worked well for me in the past: Journaling everything, no matter what, for the next week days without worrying about the points total. I want to just observe and see what happens.

For one thing, I want to see what my points balance is when I'm making good choices but not being overly restrictive, and see if I can raise my points allowance from the very low 22 points per day that WW suggests for someone my size. For another, I want to break the perfectionism habit that seems to keep smacking me in the face.

I also want to change my abusive thought patterns. Seriously, I caught myself thinking my body was "repulsive" yesterday just because I was still feeling bloated and stiff from the plane and couldn't go do a run. WTF? My poor body, which has done amazing things for me over the years while I've overstuffed it, yelled at it, over- and under-exercised it, does not deserve that kind of treatment. Seriously, it's time that I gave myself (and everyone around me who has to listen to this BS) a break. I'm going to try some of the strategies from this article and see if I can't be a little kinder to us all.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Unchecked baggage from my flight?

I missed my weigh-in Thursday so I did it this morning. I was up quite a bit. I'm hoping it's just water retention from my cross-country flight, because even though I had too many cookies, I don't think I had three pounds worth.

There is a temptation to try to prop up your flagging energy with sugar and caffeine at these training things, especially because it's so conveniently provided for you every few hours. Also, I was seriously craving salt.

It doesn't really matter. I need to start tracking again and paying more attention to my choices, so I am just recording the weight and moving on. I need to remind myself that recording my food in the WW tracker is really not that hard, I just have to take a few seconds and do it right after I eat instead of putting it off.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Jetlagging

I'm doing a short stint in my old life -- consulting for my former employer. As I was packing and worrying about my trip to the West Coast, I thought mostly, "how the hell did I do this all the time?" I was jittery about the work and worried I'd forget something important.

After two days of everything going great, I realize that there were some really great things about this job, mostly the people I meet when I'm staffing an event. It's fun to sit around and talk about ideas and exciting new things for a couple of days with very smart strangers. But mostly, I know why I burned out so fast. The days are long and exciting in an exhausting way. I miss sleeping in a comfortable bed and having my own stuff around. Being three timezones away from my husband makes even calling home a little tricky.

It's sort of fun to step into an alien landscape and try out a new climate, check out the crazy plant life and the weirdly svelte squirrels, meet lots of people and spend time learning things together. It's not so fun to live out of a suitcase, realize you forgot some stuff it would have been better to have. I will be glad to get home, and even happier to turn in my invoice and get paid for my time -- money that will be about half my summer income.

I stayed up really late last night and went for a run this morning, which seems to have rebooted my system and gotten me on Pacific time -- just in time to go back home and be jetlagged again.
"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07