Monday, January 31, 2011

Off the Deep End

Well, it had to be done, so I did it:  I joined a gym (and it’s not the health club where I work – shhhhhhhh!).  With swimming and biking out of the picture for the time being, there was simply no way I was going to make myself get in my backyard pool five days a week.  So, I’ve turned in my “hardcore” card and now I’m following the black line in the toasty-warm lap pool.  Sure, I’ve only been there twice, but I’ve had a few revelations about belonging to a big-box gym:

  • Everything is so shiny!  Including all the 20-somethings who are working out, yikes.  The last time I belonged to a gym, I was still in my very early 30s, so maybe I didn’t notice it as much as I do now that I’m an old lady.  The perky girl working at the front desk made me wish I was wearing sunglasses with her blinding teeth and smooth skin.
  • Swimming in a lap pool is so flippin’ awesome!  Why doesn’t my backyard pool have a line to follow, huh???  For a girl prone to severe panic attacks in the water, I’m absolutely loving that the deepest water is still only chest-high.  I am fully aware of the fact that lap pool swimming isn’t preparing me in the least for open water, but you know what?  I don’t care.
  • There’s a downside:  I’m even slower than ever before.  WTF?  I’m feeling great in the water, relaxed and smooth, but somehow my times are crazy slow.  Like am-I-actually-swimming-backwards-and-don’t-know-it slow.
  • All the Group-X classes make me feel like a kid in a candy store.  Yoga, pilates, spin, booty boot camp, aqua-robics, Zumba…YES!  I can’t wait to try them all!
  • Since I am a total newbie to the public pool scene, I was a little nervous about lap lane etiquette.  So far, though,  the pool has been pretty quiet.  This morning at 5 am I was literally the only one in the water – score! 

My plan right now – you know I need to have a plan, even if I’m not working my training plan for the next few weeks/months/whatever – is to get in the pool four or five days a week, plus some strength training and group-x classes.  The goal is to get stronger in the water and resolve my injury issues without losing too much fitness.  I haven’t taken my Half-Iron off the books, I’m just re-organizing the way I’m training and my goals for it.  Right now, just making it to the starting line is going to be all the victory I need!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I’ve had a rough couple of days.  This week, I finally came to grips with the fact that my right leg isn’t getting better.  It’s not getting worse, thank goodness, but there’s been little or no improvement over the last few weeks.  So I finally contacted my Sports Medicine doctor (who I love, even though I only see her when I’m in pain and who routinely advises me to take a break from running – boooooo.) and the news was not what I was hoping for:  she suspects sciatica and her suggested treatment is to stop not only running, but bicycling as well “until the pain is completely resolved.”  Ummmm, doc, how long will that be?  “Unfortunately, sometimes that can take months.”  Months?  MONTHS??  Yes, in case you were wondering, this news did make me cry.  A lot.

So.  A little retail therapy is in order here.  I’m heading out today to get myself some cute yoga pants and a nice mat.  Maybe a new swimsuit (I can still swim, in fact the doctor said swimming is my “best bet” right now.  Ha!  She’s never seen me in the pool.)  My mad Google skillz have turned up the info that walking, stretching and core work are also fine and can help with sciatic pain.  I’m thinking about starting a new sport – gimpathlon.  The three sports would be swimming, yoga and weightlifting.  Who’s in??

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Consistently Inconsistent

In the “real world,” I work as a fitness trainer at a health club, which I’ve come to conclude is remarkably similar to my former job as a preschool teacher.  I spend a good portion of my work day educating members on what I think of as pretty basic facts about nutrition and exercise, and sometimes it still surprises me how out of tune people can be with their own bodies (especially when those people are at a health club exercising for their health and weight loss.  Okay, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – there’s a reason they got to their present state of unhealth and heaviness, right?)  My club has this really cool technology that quantifies a member’s workout and shows them charts and graphs of how hard they worked compared to their last few workouts, how many calories they burned, etc.  On an almost daily basis I will hear a member exclaim that the machines must not be working, because their numbers are so low today.  Really??  It couldn’t possibly be that you didn’t push yourself very hard??

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while doing this “athlete” thing for the last few years, it’s that I am consistently inconsistent.  There are good days and bad days.  There are days when I think I’m giving it everything I’ve got and I still suck.  There are days when I’m not even breathing hard and speed just seems to fall into my lap.  Sometimes I know why things didn’t go my way (chili isn’t an especially good dinner before a long run) and sometimes I just make excuses (sure is windy today!), but I try to see every workout as a work in progress – good, bad or ugly.

Today’s swim definitely falls in the “ugly” category.  Oh, my. 

I bought myself some neoprene gloves yesterday to go with the neoprene booties (thanks again, Alma!!) that are helping me stave off frostbite during my backyard swims.  Now, while swimming in the 50 degree pool, I am covered in neoprene from head to toe.  Literally.  My face and a little bit of my neck are the only parts of me actually exposed to the frigid water.  Of course it’s a good thing that I’m not risking hypothermia, but I discovered today that there’s a downside, too:  when the booties, gloves and wetsuit are all doing their job properly, I weigh a good ten pounds more than I do on dry land!  While I was struggling to lift my giant Mickey Mouse hands out of the water, I thought to myself, “Well, this isn’t going to be a fast one today.”  Truer words were never thunk.  It was my slowest 500 meters yet, but I’m not complaining or blaming the neoprene for my poor performance.  <Insert “It is what it is”-type cliché here>

I hope your day has been consistently awesome!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Week in Review

Week Two of WTH? training is in the books and, overall, it was a pretty decent week. Training volume is still really low while I’m working the kinks out of my piriformis/hammy, but I’m a fan of the “start slow and build gradually” school of thought.  This is what my weekly plan looks like:

Monday – rest

Tuesday – “aggressive” brick (meaning that I try to ride and run with some intensity, and later it will be the longer brick of the two in each week)

Wednesday – interval swim (this is still a straight swim for the time being, since it is in my 50 degree backyard pool.  As I increase in distance – and hopefully in pool temperature! – this will become my interval day)

Thursday – long run (a pretty relative term at this point – this week it was only five miles)

Friday – “easy” brick (pretty self-explanatory, but I’m digging the parentheticals)

Saturday – long bike ride (again, it’s relative, though today’s ride was a pretty respectable 20-miler)

Sunday – long swim (thankfully in the heated pool)

So far, I am loving the schedule.  The way it goes back and forth with easy days and hard days keeps me feeling fresh, and I’ve been lucky enough to do my long bike rides outside both last week and today (it’s 63 with sunny skies here today – be very jealous!)  The biggest downside I’ve found is that I’m not getting my core work done.  I’ve always done core work on my bike days, but now that I’ve turned those into brick days, I’m forgetting to get out the balance ball.  Ooops!  I just need to figure out a new routine, which will likely mean core work on swim days.

Here’s how the week shook down in numbers (you can see what I mean about the low training volume!):

SWIM:  1250 meters

BIKE:  32.87 miles

RUN:  8.1 miles

In more good news, this morning’s group ride with two other members of my new TRI club went really, really well - yay!!  As it turned out, I was probably the most experienced rider of the three of us, which was sort of funny, but worked out fine.  They were super nice and we kept things moving at a nice, comfortable and conversational pace.  Gotta give a little “thank you” shout out to Patrick, Whitney and Emily who shared some group riding tips on my last post, I thought about you guys while I was out there today!  We rode on the bike trail I sometimes run on, and boy was it PACKED with runners today!  There are a couple of local spring Half-Marys coming up and I have to assume these were training groups.  Of course, there were plenty of other cyclists, too, so we got some experience with passing and being passed by large and small groups.  All in all, it was a really fun ride.

I hope you’ve had a good week, too!  Happy training to us all!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Miscellany

Monday is a rest day for me (from exercise – it tends to be busy with “real life” stuff), which means I don’t get a good head-clearing sweat session.  Boo.  Here are some of the things traipsing around in my brain:

  • Today is the beginning of Week 2 of my Half-Iron training.  Week 1 wasn’t the rousing success I was hoping for, but it wasn’t a suckfest, either.  Pool workouts are going *ahem* swimmingly, with my “long swim” clocking in just a little faster than last week’s of the same distance. Yay!  I got back on the bike after a few weeks off and it felt great – also yay!  But the running…well, I’m not sure what to do about the running.  My piriformis/hamstring troubles aren’t resolving themselves like I hoped they would.  I can run a very short distance at a very slow speed without pain, which is certainly good news, but anything over two miles is still ouchy.  And it’s tough because it’s so hard to tell if it’s the sort of pain I should run through or rest from.  I feel like it’s getting better overall, so I’m going to keep on keeping on.
  • I realized the other day that the Half I’m training for is called the World’s Toughest Half, aka WTH, as in, “WTH was I thinking, signing up for this???”  Ha, ha!!
  • I’m going on a bike ride this weekend with some people in my new TRI club!!  I am very excited and more than a little nervous.  I have ridden with IronHubs before, but I’ve never done any sort of a group ride and I’m not sure about group etiquette.  Thankfully, this is a newbie group, so (hopefully) nobody will be too offended if I do something dumb.
  • In honor of MLK Day, IronHubs and I took the kids out for a little community service and picked up trash around the creek trail near my house.  We made it less than 1/8 of a mile before we had filled three trash bags – unbelievable!  I live in the suburbs in an area of nice houses, but the creek trail is a walking path for lots of high school kids who apparently don’t know how to use a garbage can.  What an object lesson for Big Boy and Little Boy!  They were completely disgusted and dismayed by all the trash we found – I’d estimate we picked up about 15 pounds of junk.  When we got home I made the boys bathe in bleach reminded the boys to wash their hands and put our clothes in the laundry.  Yuck. 

Misc 005

Happy Monday!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stylish? Not Really.

She had style, she had flair, she was there…that’s how she became..The Bloggy!The Nanny

Nope, I’m definitely not Nanny material, but I was honored with the Stylish Blogger Award by the oh-so awesome Rose and one of my favorite bloggers Sophia, and every time I started thinking about what to post, that theme song would pop into my head!


In honor of being elected to the Style Council, I thought I’d share with you my ever changing moods.  (Ha, ha!  That’s a little 80s musical trivia for those of you who weren’t even born yet.)  No, better yet, I’m going to show you seven of my most UN-stylish moments.  Everyone love embarrassing pictures, right??

1.  The 70s 004  My un-stylish debut, celebrating the bicentennial with my older brother and sister in 1976.  The color has unfortunately faded, but my brother’s shirt was checkered red white and blue.  Sa-weet!

2.  The 70s 001  Again with my brother and sister, August 1980.  The shirt I’m wearing was a hand-me-down from my sister that I coveted for a long time before she gave it to me.  I can still remember what that shirt felt like, I loved it so much.  Now, of course, as a mom, I wonder what the hell my mother was thinking, letting me slap the word “DELICIOUS” on my 10-year old chest.  I’m pretty sure my thinking was that maybe I would look like a girl for once.  With that awesome haircut, I got mistaken for a boy with alarming frequency.

3.  High School, College and Beyond 005  Being the youngest of three, there are virtually NO childhood pictures of me alone.  Lucky you, you get to bask in the unstylish glory of us all sportin’ the collared shirt and sweater look (I’m on the right, in dark blue.  I mention this because hopefully I am so unrecognizable in this picture that you weren’t sure it was me.  Yes, it is.)  This is probably 1981 or ‘82 – the Awkward Years, fer sher.

4.  Scanned pix for Pahla-9  May, 1987 – umm, still Awkward.  This photo pretty much epitomizes my teenage years:  the perma-scowl, the bushy eyebrows and the baggy clothing that I prayed would hide the extra 15 pounds.  I’m on the far left in the not-so-slimming stripes.  The “new girl” in this pic is my brother’s then-girlfriend, now-wife of 20+ years.

5.  various old pics 011  Summer, 1994 – the Party Girl years. Oh, my.   Where to begin with the awfulness that is this photo?  Let’s start with the ghostly white makeup, then move to the cropped VEST that I am wearing as a shirt (WTF?) and finally to the shorts-with-a-belt debacle.  At 24, I think I should have known better, but clearly I did not.

6.  DCP02616  Spring, 2002 – the Mom-Jeans Years.  Apparently, I owned a pair of overalls and I color-coordinated my outfits with my boys (that’s Big Boy on the far left and Little Boy closest to me – the other two were playgroup friends).  I have no memory of making any of these sartorial decisions.

7.  Dora at Legoland  Wow, nothing screams “MOM” like an extra 30 pounds and tennis shoes with a skort.  Yikes.  This is May, 2005 – the BR (Before Running) Years.

Okay, well that was fun!  I know the rules say I’m supposed to tag some of you, but I think quite a lot of you have already done your stylish post already.  If you haven’t yet, consider yourself TAGGED!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Good News and More Good News

Today has been chock full of good stuff and it’s not even 2 o’clock – I love it!

  • I ran this morning!  It was brief and it was slow, but it was almost pain-free, so I’m calling it a victory.  I made it two miles at a …well, let’s call it a “relaxed” pace.  My booty felt great.  My hammy was still barking at me, but not until I was past the 1.5-mile point.  This is excellent progress and really started my day off on the right foot.  *groan*  On tap for this week is more stretching, more rollering and more taking it easy.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a long run of 4 miles next weekend.
  • I swam in a heated pool this morning!  IronHubs has access to a nice pool through his work that is inconvenient to use (it’s about 20-30 minute drive from our house and he has to accompany me, since it’s for employees only), but – check this out – completely deserted on the weekends.  Believe me, I know exactly how lucky I am!  I went a little bit further this morning – 750 meters – and it felt really good.  I was slow, of course, but my pace was consistent with my training last year, so I’m happy that I don’t seem to have lost too much swim fitness since September.  I have gotten awfully used to those wetsuit-assisted swim times, though!

Swimming AloneLook, Ma – no wetsuit!

  • The sun came out today!  I am NOT complaining about the cold, believe me (I know better!), but the last four days have been nonstop gloomy, cloudy and gray.  Weather like that puts me in a really blech-y mood.  It’s still chilly here, but seeing the sun makes everything better.
  • I’ve decided to join my local TRI club!  This is such a huge, huge, HUGE step outside my comfort zone that I can’t believe I’m even thinking about it.  I’m not a social butterfly, but every so often I get a real longing to meet more people (*ahem* in the real world – why don’t all of you live in my neighborhood???) who share my athletic interests.  About two years ago, I joined a meetup group for a running club here in my town, but I never went to a single meeting.  I got their constant emails and reminders but I made excuse after excuse not to go.  The times weren’t convenient, I wasn’t training for the same races…yadda yadda yadda.  It was all fear and intimidation talking, of course.  What if they’re all younger than me?  What if they’re all faster than me?  What if they’re not friendly?  What if the girls all have smooth, pretty hair and big boobs?  (“Oh, hello, Massive Insecurity!  I didn’t see you there.”)  Well, this time around I still have all those same fears and insecurities but I’m not letting them stop me!  Even if I’m the slowest, most uncoordinated, oldest and ugliest girl in the club.

What good news do you have today??

Friday, January 7, 2011

Photo Phriday

Winter Swimming 003Gray and gloomy morning.

Winter Swimming 001Outside temperature.

Winter Swimming 002Water temerature – yikes!

Winter Swimming 006Here I go…

Winter Swimming 010Four seconds faster than last time, 2:06/100.  Woo hoo!!

Happy Friday, Friends!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Two Steps Forward…

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.

I went for a run this morning and it wasn’t quite the glorious return to running I had been envisioning for the last ten days.  Bummer.

I took it slow and I didn’t plan to go far, but apparently it was still too much.  1.83 miles and I walked it home because my a** was killing me.

It’s taken me almost all day, but I’m starting to see the positives in what seemed like a really negative situation.  So, here’s my sunshine on a cloudy day:

  • I am 100% confident that my self-diagnosis is correct.  My knee didn’t hurt at all this morning.  The pain started deep in my glutes and radiated down my hamstring, almost like a cramp.  That, my friends, is tight muscles.  It could be a million times worse and I’m very grateful for how minor of an injury this is.
  • Tight muscles have a solution.  I’m continuing with the Trigger Point massaging and stretching.
  • As soon as I stopped running, the pain went away.  Actually, the reason I thought I could run this morning is because I’ve been feeling great.  I haven’t had any pain or tightness during everyday activities.
  • I’m going to be better soon.  This setback is temporary and there’s a good lesson to be learned about patience and taking care of myself, blah blah blah.
  • I am actually looking forward to swimming.  Can you believe it??  Me, daydreaming about the pool?  I guess truth is stranger than fiction.

Like the title implies, this is just one step back.  I still took those two steps forward and I’m definitely feeling better than I was a week ago.  My plan of action from here is to take a few more days off, stretch and roll, then try again this weekend.  I think the biggest thing I’m trying to do for myself is not feel anxious to get back to running too soon.  Training for the World’s Toughest Half starts Monday, but – worst case scenario – I’ll skimp on the run training and just keep belting it out in the pool.  Oh, wait, I think that might actually be the BEST case scenario!  Smile

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

MissZippy, I’m gunning for ya!

Um, yeah, not really. 

But Miss Zippy (I’m not even going to ask if you read her, because of course you do) had a fun post today about how she’s doing so much swimming lately that she’s gonna take Michael Phelps down this year.  Well, I’ve been doing so much swimming this week that I’m dreaming REALLY big and putting myself in the same league as Zippy!

Exhibit A:  I’ve been in the pool three times in the last six days – I think that’s more swimming than I did in the entire calendar year 2009.

Exhibit B:  IronHubs told me I’m a rock star, and I think we all know that he’s an impartial judge of these matters.

Exhibit C:  Yes, it was wetsuit-assisted (omg, not only was the outside air colder today than my last outdoor swim {high 40s}, but the pool was colder, too – 48 degrees!), but today’s swim was the fastest by far of any swim in my entire life:  500 meters in 10:34, a 2:07/100 pace!  [Really long sidebar about my distance and pace in the pool.  I know for a lot of you, me crowing about 500 meters at a 2:07 pace is pretty much the equivalent of saying, “I just walked really slowly around the block – woo hoo!”  I’ve recently decided to be okay with that.  I totally believe in the power of positive self-talk and rather than always being self-deprecating about my slow swimming, I have decided to be proud of what I’m accomplishing in the pool.  I might be the last one out of the water, but at least I got in, ya know?]

I think it’s clear that 2011 is the year I DOMINATE in the water, so Zippy and Michael better look out!

What did you do today that made you feel like a rock star??  Tell me all about it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

“My First 5K” Spectator Photo Report

This morning, Big Boy and Little Boy raced a 5K called “My First 5K,” though it certainly wasn’t the first 5K for either of them.  This race is super flat and really small (just under 500 participants) – a perfect race for beginners or kids.

first 5k of 2011 109

All bundled up and ready to cheer!  I was wearing two shirts, a sweatshirt, a hat, jeans, two pairs of socks, heavy shoes and two pairs of gloves and I was STILL cold!

first 5k of 2011 113The race started and finished in front of our beautiful State Capitol building (aka The CIM Finish Line – my favorite place in the world!)  The weather was about 40 degrees and rainy – BRRRRRRRRR!  Check out the reusable cloth swag bags.

first 5k of 2011 011Aaaaaaand, they’re off!  I always take pics of the start like this and I can never see the person I’m trying to photograph.  Oh, well.  The girl in bright blue (left of center) was the first overall female.  The kid in the green shorts and racing flats (far left) ran almost the whole stinkin’ race with an untied shoe!  I was terrified he would trip, but he came in somewhere in the top twenty.  The man in the red jacket (center) ended up in second place overall – not sure why he started so far back in the crowd.

first 5k of 2011 035The course was extremely spectator-friendly.  We saw the kids fly by at Mile 1 and Mile 2 before the Finish.

first 5k of 2011 051Little Boy working hard and running strong!

first 5k of 2011 084Big Boy passing one last guy on his way to a smokin’ fast 23:02 finish!!  He beat his previous best by 29 seconds.  Final Stats:  46/497 OA, 3/25 in M12-Under AG.

first 5k of 2011 098Flying into the finishing chute for a 28:10 finish, beating his previous best by over 11 minutes!!  Final Stats:  108/497 OA, 7/25 in M12-Under AG.

first 5k of 2011 105Exhausted and drenched, but oh, so HAPPY!  Everybody loves to start the year with a PR!