Friday, April 29, 2011

Stacking Some Bricks

First things first:  yes, I got up at 2 am to watch the royal wedding.  I was back in bed by 3:30 and then slept in until almost 6 and got on with my day.  Totally worth it!

This morning’s workout was one of my favorites of all time – stacking bricks.  Long-time bloggy friends may remember when I crowed about this workout last summer. (Though, then again, you probably don’t because why would you commit my silly ramblings to memory???)  On tap for the morning was a 5-mile bike ride 1-mile run brick for as many repeats as I wanted to handle.  I knew for sure I could do three repeats but felt pretty good about making it to five.  When I woke up to 20 mph winds with gusts up to 30 mph, I wanted to chicken out of the whole thing!  But I’m a firm believer in training in all kinds of weather so I can be prepared for whatever weather race day throws at me (please, please, PLEASE don’t let it be this windy on race day!!!)  Once I got going, of course, it wasn’t super awful and I ended up with four satisfyingly consistent repeats.  Can’t ask for better than that, right?

Today’s bike-run (x4) extravaganza was made all the better by having IronHubs act as my own personal paparazzo.  Ha, ha!  (We recently got a fancy-schmancy new camera and he was trying it out for the first time.)

stacking bricks 016Wheeeee!  Heading out for Lap 1 and rocking some race-day braids.

stacking bricks 018My garage Transition Area.

stacking bricks 022I thought about cropping this one, but the fact is, no amount of cropping was going to disguise how ghetto-tastic our garage looks.  One would think with that many cleaning implements at my disposal that I would keep things tidy.  Sadly, no.

stacking bricks 024Yep, I plunked my booty right down on the ground to wrestle my toes into the VFFs.  It didn’t take as long as I feared.

stacking bricks 026Ready to run, but what’s this?  ANOTHER epic Garmin fail???  I had let Garmin stop itself with an Auto Pause in Bike Mode, and when I changed it over to Run Mode (I don’t use Auto Multisport because I don’t like the display screens as much as the regular ones.  I could probably fiddle with this, but I haven’t.), it freaked out and turned itself off.  When I turned it back on and waited the minute and a half for it to find satellites, it was still in freak-out mode and appeared to be measuring my distance in milliliters.  Thankfully, I know exactly where the half-mile turnaround point is and I was very happy that it recorded my overall time so I could do the math to figure out my pace later.  According to my Training Center data, I ran 3.27 miles at a 2:39 pace – LOL!  Next time around, I hit “Stop” as I was getting off the bike and didn’t have any trouble at all switching modes and recording correct data. *whew*

stacking bricks 029It cracks me up that IronHubs took pics of my little Transition Area.

stacking bricks 032Finishing up Run #4.  Let’s hear a little “w00t!  w00t!” for that forefoot strike.

Ahhh, another sweat-tastic workout on the record books.  You can bet I’ll be shoveling food in my pie-hole like it’s my job after this one!  Let’s crunch some numbers, shall we?

Stacking Bricks Table

Reading last year’s numbers made me a little sad (damn, I used to be fast!), but no sense lingering on that.  I’m happy and proud of where I am training-wise right now.  This week has seen my highest training volume since…maybe ever on the swim and bike, so why worry about my paces?

I hope today was a fun and sweaty day for you, too! Good luck to all my racing blog-buddies this weekend!!  Sure wish I was heading up to Eugene to cheer you all on…when you hear cowbells, just know that I’m there in spirit!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

T (x3)

Thing the First:  When “Easy” isn’t Easy

I went out for an “easy 3” run this morning and it was just about the toughest thing I’ve done lately!  Oh, I’ve got my excuses – big bike ride yesterday (more about that in a bit), crazy schedule, etc. – but I still don’t like it when I feel like I’m struggling to maintain what should be a relaxed pace for a relatively short distance.  I actually haven’t run at all since Sunday’s bunny hop.  My poor training schedule has arrows all over it, because I’m juggling things here and rearranging things there.  The workouts are still getting done, just not in the order they were planned and not always at the distances listed on the plan.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I’ve been pushing my bike mileage much faster than planned and my swim mileage is above where I thought I’d be by now, too.    The run?  Not so much.  I think that’s why this morning was so tough.  I finished it up, though, and had remarkably even splits, so I’m still calling it a workout victory.  Final stats:  3 miles @ 8:35 pace.

Thing the Second:  Epic Bike Ride

Okay, now before you go picturing some century ride or something, let me explain that my version of “epic” is probably a little smaller than yours.  Before I took on this whole WTH thing and started measuring my bike rides by the hour, I had an 8-mile route, a 10-mile route, a 12-mile route and if I was feeling CA-razy, a 16-mile route.  So, for me, yesterday’s 40-miler absolutely qualified for epic status!  IronHubs and I went out for a really lovely (55 degrees, sunny, very little wind and excellent company) ride on a mostly traffic-free route along a really ugly canal which led us to the gorgeous American River Bike Trail.  There was a nice portion of flats, followed by many miles of little rollers with lots of cornering and finally three solid miles of climbing.  Since it was an out-and-back, the way home was blissfully net downhill.  Overall, it was an awesome ride and I felt pretty confident about my cycling skills during the more “technical” parts.  The only black spot on the day was that I had a total Garmin fail which was 100% user error – UGH!  We only stopped a handful of times (traffic lights, a potty stop and a Honey Stinger stop because I’m way too uncoordinated to ride and eat a gel!), but each time I either forgot to stop my Garmin or, if I remembered to stop it, forgot to start it again.  What a moron!  Thankfully, IronHubs was much more diligent about his Garmin, so I just used his stats.  The funny thing is, I don’t really know how much climbing we did.  His Training Center data said we climbed 1300 or so feet.  My Training Center data said we climbed about 1900 feet, but his Garmin Connect data said we only climbed 878 feet!  I will happily accept the average and say we did about 1300 feet and my achy quads definitely agree.  Final stats:  40.15 miles @ 16.3 mph.

Thing the Third:  Farthest. Swim. Ever!

After yesterday’s bike ride and today’s run, I had to round things out with a little swimming action, so after I got back from my run this morning I suited up in neoprene and hopped in my chilly-but-swimmable backyard pool.  The water temperature is hovering in the mid to high 60s now, which isn’t warm, but at least I can still feel my face after a few hundred meters.  On the schedule for today was 2000 meters, but in the back of my mind, I was considering pushing the distance a little, maybe 2200.  I’ve been doing 2000s for a few weeks now and I’m not going to say they’ve become easy, but they’re not as challenging as that first one was.  I dilly-dallied for a long time before finally getting in the pool, and once I got in I immediately just wanted to be done, which isn’t a great start to a workout.  It took a good 500 meters before I got into any sort of rhythm, but after that I was able to let my mind wander a little and just let my body swim.  At 1000 meters, I thought, “Oooooh, halfway done… or maybe not.”  Around 1500 meters, I decided that I was definitely going to make it to 2200, my longest swim to date.  By the time I got to 1800 meters, I had done the math and decided that saying I had swum a mile and a half sounded WAY more hardcore than stopping at 2200.  When I got to 2300 meters, I briefly considered going even farther because I felt so stinkin’ good, but then I realized that I had to get ready for work, so 2400 meters it was.  Holy crap, I swam a mile and a half today!  And even better than that, it was one of my faster swims!  I know for plenty of you 2400 meters at a turtle’s pace is your warm-up, but for me, it was pretty much the crowning achievement of my week and I am basking in the glow of my awesomeness.  Smile Final stats:  2400 meters @ 2:33/100.

Happy, Happy Thursday, Friends!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Bunny Intervals

When you consider the lengths that IronHubs and I go through to spoil our kids on their birthdays (we built a maze in the backyard!) and other holidays, you’d think we were neglected as kids.  We weren’t.  We’re just crazy.  Case in point:  today’s Easter egg hunt involved a bike ride to various locations within about a mile’s radius of our house and required Big Boy and Little Boy to solve riddles, read maps and think strategically.  And just how did all those eggs get hidden?  Oh, yes, the Easter Bunny got to go for a really early morning run.

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 002Hydration pack full of eggs.

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 003It was 5 am, so I was full of reflecty-ness.

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 004I was really worried somebody else would find the eggs hidden at the bus stop!  Strangely, no one else was out this early on Easter morning.

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 005The clue leading to this one said, “I am white.  I am at the end of your street.  Dogs like me.”

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 006Four sweaty miles later, I’m ready to go pick ‘em all back up!

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 008I told the boys they had to empty the dishwasher before they could hunt for eggs – I’m so mean!

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 011The first clue was found at a park.

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 017Working together to solve a word problem.

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 019The Easter Bunny is a nut.

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 024Some of the eggs were more hidden than others.

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 028And where were the baskets?  Back at home in their bedrooms!!

Easter Egg Hunt 2011 036The Easter Bunny went CRAZY at the Buy-One-Get-One Lego sale.

I hope you’re all having a HOPPY EASTER as well!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I {Less-Than-Three} Hills!

It’s true:  I am now officially a lover of hills.  At this point, I might as well love ‘em, because I can’t avoid them and race day is looming ever nearer on the horizon and I need to be ready to face some big ones. 

The WTH bike course description is enough to strike terror in this flatlander’s heart, with 5500 feet of elevation change and a 12% grade monstrosity at Mile 50.  On the one hand, I’m still working my way up to riding the Half-Iron distance at all, but with only a month to go it also seems prudent to work on my mountain climbing skills, so flat bicycle rides are now a thing of the past for me.  When I’m indoors, I’m working on one of my “hilly” Spinervals and when I’m outdoors, I’m making the 30 – 45 minute drive to hilly terrain (the biggest hill in the town where I live is a highway overpass – not quite the training I need).

Yesterday morning, IronHubs took me out for a ride on a course where he trained for Silverman and, oh yes there were some hills!  Check out the elevation profile from Garmin Connect:

Elevation Profile Bike Ride

And because I know you love crunching the numbers as much as I do, here are the stats:

  • Total Distance = 28.96 miles
  • Time = 1:47:54
  • Average Speed = 16 mph (ouch.  Kinda slow, but did I mention that there were hills?)
  • Max Speed = 32 mph (wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)
  • Elevation Change = 3,236 feet
  • Steepest Grade = 11%
  • Average Cadence = 86 rpm

This ride was a total booty-kicker, for sure, but I’m so glad I did it.  First of all, it was a lot of fun to ride with IronHubs.  We almost never train together because he is so much faster and stronger than me (which got a little frustrating toward the end of this ride when I was wiped out and he was still fresh as a daisy), but it was excellent training to go with him, because I learned a lot from his example.  When he changed gears, I changed gears.  When he got in aero, I got in aero.  I found myself riding a lot more aggressively than I probably would have if I’d been alone.

You know that feeling of accomplishing something you weren’t entirely sure you could accomplish?  Yeah, this ride gave me that.  Hills??  Bring ‘em on!! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vibram FiveFingers Follow-Up

The short answer to “How’s it going with your VFFs?”: I LOVE THEM!

I’ve owned my VFF TrekSports for two months now and I’ve put a whopping 43 miles on them so far.  Underwhelming numbers?  Yes.  But I really didn’t want to ruin this whole minimalist adventure by jumping straight to maximum miles and hurting myself (again).  I admit, I ran in them (.65 of a mile) the very first day I got them, which wasn’t super smart, but since then I’ve really taken the time to get used to them slowly.  My longest run in them so far is just three miles, though I’ll be pushing it to four miles this week.  I’ve been  wearing them around the house and just this week started wearing them out in public and even wore them to work Monday and yesterday.  I’ve done two short runs in shoes since I started wearing the VFFs and discovered that I really don’t like shoes anymore.  My [name brand unnecessary because they’re great shoes, just not great for me] shoes were uncomfortable and heavy, and my Newtons did quite well, but were still…well…shoes.

Here are the answers to some of your questions:

  1. Have your calves gotten used to the forefoot/midfoot strike style of running?  Yes.  The first few times I ran in the VFFs, my calves were begging for mercy, but they’ve adjusted quite nicely since then.  It took about three or four runs, plus a week or two of walking around in the VFFs for my body to get used to using my calf muscles for forward motion.  Also, when I first started out, the forefoot strike was much more exaggerated, because I was trying to figure it out.  Now, I’ve learned exactly how to land on my mid-foot without feeling like I’m running on my tippy-toes.
  2. Are your calves huge now?  Honestly, no.  I thought I would see some real muscle development in my calves, but they don’t seem all that different to me.  See for yourself:

Pahlas Tri 001September 2008, when I was still in my 30s.  *sigh*

P's Sprint TRI 011Ha!  Almost the exact same picture, two years later.  This was last July, when I was still just 40.  *double sigh*

Calves 011Taken in my kitchen just two days ago.  Yes, I asked IronHubs to take a photo of my calves for my blog.  Nerd alert!

3.     Are they comfortable?  Yes, absolutely!  These past few days, I’ve really extended my wear time by wearing the VFFs at work for a 4-5 hour shift and they’ve been great!

4.     How do people react when you wear them in public?  OMG, you would think I had grown an extra head when I wore them to work the first time!  People went nuts, it was the talk of the club all day long.  I started to feel like a weird fetishist or something because everyone wanted to touch my shoes to see what they felt like.  Every time I said, “They’re running shoes,” people responded with a hugely shocked, “You RUN in those?!?!?!”  Reactions varied from “Oh, those are so cute, where did you get them?” to serious questions about running style/form and stories about friends or family members who also wear them for running.  Some of my older clients swore that their podiatrists told them everything that was wrong with them was because they went barefoot so much.  EVERYBODY who saw me had some sort of reaction and something to say about the VFFs!

5.     Do you still run in other shoes?  No.  Other than those two runs mentioned above, I’ve been running in VFFs exclusively since I bought them.  As it happened, I was recovering from sciatica/back problems when I got them, so I wasn’t running at all for a few weeks.  With the “gotta keep my mileage up” pressure nonexistent, I was able to convert completely to VFFs without feeling like I “needed” to run in other shoes.

6.    Are you going to keep running in them?  I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t.  So far, “going minimalist” has been a terrific experience.  I’m still in the adjustment period, working out all the tweaks in my ankles and feet while they get stronger, but I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

7.     Are you going to wear the VFFs for your Half-Iron?  I’m still undecided about this one, but I’m leaning heavily towards “yes.”  It’ll be my longest run in them, by far, even with my increasing mileage between now and May 22, so I’m nervous about injuring myself, but there’s the risk of injury no matter what I’m wearing on my feet!

8.     Are you running any faster in them?  Not yet.  I’m gaining some speed as I get used to the VFFs, but between recovering from injury and learning a new running style, I figure it’s going to take me awhile before I’m back to my regular speeds.

9.     Do you think going minimalist is the right choice for everyone?  Nope.  I’m no expert and honestly never considered going barefoot until I kept suffering injuries one after the other for about six months.  The VFFs were sort of a last ditch effort for me to save my running, because at the rate I was going, I was seriously thinking about giving it up.  My unsolicited and inexpert advice, though, is if you are thinking about getting VFFs or going barefoot, TAKE IT SLOW!  Give it time.  It’s just like starting to run for the very first time, because it is that different from the running you’re used to.

Happy Running, Friends!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

FTF

Happy Friday, everyone!!  Here are the Four Things on my mind this Friday, in all their bullet-pointy goodness:

  • THING ONE – I’m starting the count down to WTH race day, and that means I’m in nailing-down-the-details mode.  I’m not for sure on my outfit yet, but this week I’ve been figuring out what to do with my hair.  About four and a half months ago, when I signed up for this crazy race, my hair was at that in-between length where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cut it short or let it grow long.  Short hair, of course, is easier on race day – at most, I’d need a SweatyBand to keep it out of my face on the run, but long hair requires a bit more attention.  My hair is a giant rat’s nest wildly curly, so there’s pretty much no actual style to it other than “short” or “long.”  Sometimes I have bangs and sometimes I don’t.  Right now I don’t, but that’s only because it’s been almost a year since my last haircut.  I asked IronHubs for his opinion and he said, “Well, I think you look great when your hair is short or long!  I know you’ve had a couple of short haircuts you didn’t like, though, and you’ve never been unhappy with long hair.”  (This, BTW, is the secret to our long and happy marriage – did you notice how he managed to say, “Please, please don’t cut your hair short!” in a diplomatic and even complimentary way?  Gotta love him.)  So now my hair is long enough that it gets stuck in my bra straps and I have to hold it out of my way when I shave my armpits.  Awesome.  Mostly when I’m swimming, I just put it into a bun at the back of my head.  When I’m biking, I wear a low ponytail and when I’m running I wear a high ponytail.  The trick, of course, is to find a style that’s comfortable under a swim cap and a helmet that won’t get in my way while running.  So this week I’m experimenting with a long french braid and so far I like it!  It passed the individual swimming, biking and running tests and didn’t look completely awful after any of them.  I’m also going to try the braided piggytail look, a la Chrissie, before I make a final decision. 

If the braids make me even one-third as fast as her, I’ll be a happy girl!

  • THING TWO – Have I mentioned that there’s about 5500 feet of climbing on the bike leg of the WTH?  Yeah, well, that’s because I’ve been in denial about it.  I’ve been working on my “Hillacious” and “Uphill Grind” Spinervals DVDs, but I’m sure you already know that nothing prepares you for hills like actually climbing some, so this morning I did just that.  I have to drive about 45 minutes to get into even moderately hilly terrain, the American River Bike Trail that I’ve mentioned before.  There’s a really nice 2-mile stretch that includes a few small hills and about one solid mile of 6% grade climbing.  I did this out-and-back (oh, how I loved the “back” portion of this ride with that sweet long downhill – hello 28 mph, where have you been all my life?!?) four times, plus another short steep hill at the end of my ride just for fun.  It was 18 miles of confidence-building awesomeness!  It’s true, I was very slow, averaging only 15.6 mph for the ride, but my cadence was spot on (average 84 rpms) and my legs didn’t feel completely trashed at the end.  I’ll take it!
  • THING THREE – I took a little 2-mile dash in my Newtons this morning.  It’s been over a month since I’ve run in shoes, but I am a little worried about wearing my VFFs at the WTH.  Mostly I’m concerned about the VFFs because of how long it takes me to put them on, which is sort of silly considering that I’m obviously not racing for time!  But the Newtons with speed laces would be super easy, so I’m trying them out before I make a final decision.  Here’s what I noticed about running in shoes again:  they are really, really LOUD!  I have become very accustomed to being a silent little running ninja in the VFFs and today I felt like a galloping rhinoceros – TROMP, TROMP, TROMP!!  Also, I remember the Newtons feeling very roomy before, but today my toes felt claustrophobic.  The good news is that now I am definitely running correctly in the Newtons.  The forefoot strike is completely muscle memory at this point, so I’m good to go with either shoe.
  • THING FOUR – I admit that I am green with envy a teeny, tiny bit jealous of all my super speedy bloggy buddies who are off to Beantown this weekend, but honestly, I’m super, super excited for all of you who are running the Boston Marathon!!  I think my online stalking tracking list is well into double digits.  Hopefully, I won’t get into too much trouble for watching the action online at work.  I will be virtually cheering for all of you as you enjoy the race experience of a lifetime – good luck and have fun!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ice Breaker Open Water Swim Race Report

Okay, first of all, this totally wasn’t a “race” since I chose the Open Division and the swim wasn’t officially timed.  But the “ice breaker” part was descriptive for sure – whooooooo wheeee that was some chilly water this morning!!  I’m not a fan of suspense, so I’ll tell you right up front – this “race” didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but it wasn’t a complete bust, either.  Now on to the details…

I didn’t pre-register for this race, but it’s been on my revised-and-revised-again Half Iron training plan since the very first draft.  I knew I would need the open water experience and nothing prepares you for race nerves better than a race, ya know?  But still, I dragged my feet and didn’t sign up online.  After our beautiful weather last week, this week took a dip into colder temps and threatening rain, which didn’t make me super eager to get into the lake, either.  I hemmed and hawed all week, feeling like I needed to do the race even though I didn’t want to do it.  Even as late as this morning when I woke up, I wasn’t certain that I would be going to the race, but I got ready as though maybe I would.

Big Boy came home from school yesterday with a monster migraine and slept literally all day long, woke up long enough to eat some dinner, then went back to bed for the night.  When I woke him up this morning, I wasn’t sure what the day would hold for him.  I love to have my kids cheering for me at races, but it was clear right away that there would be no cheering section today.  Bummer.

So I debated some more, I meandered around the house, I considered just taking Little Boy with me, and IronHubs assured me it wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t go.  In the end, of course, I went, even though I went all by my lonesome.  I have never been to a race all by myself before, it was a strange feeling.

There was a one-mile option and a half-mile option (as well as Open and Competitive Divisions – but the Competitive Division was NEVER an option for me!!), and while I was standing at the registration table I made the final decision to wimp out and only do the half-mile.  OMG, I’m so glad I did!!  The half-mile ended up being so difficult, I’m glad I didn’t struggle through twice that distance.

As far as conditions go, it was chilly at the start of course, but there was plenty of sunshine and absolutely no wind.  The water was calm but brutally cold, maybe 55 degrees.  I wore my full wetsuit, a neoprene hat and neoprene booties and I was numb within seconds.  One guy wore nothing but a Speedo!

Ice Breaker BreakdownI think my only real complaint about the race was how few buoys they put out.  There were two and it took approximately forever to reach them!

The race started a little late (medical personnel had trouble getting there, and what with liability issues and all, they can’t have a race without medical support), which basically meant more time to be cold and nervous.  I tried to do a warm-up swim, but since my face froze almost immediately, I wasn’t sure if that was a smart idea.  When they blew the horn, I sort of waded into the water and took my time getting going.  No sense duking it out for a non-competitive swim, right?  I felt okay and settled into a decent rhythm, though in hindsight I can see that I should have started a little closer to the middle of the pack.  I lost sight of other people pretty quickly and had a LOT of trouble getting my bearings.  The first buoy seemed impossibly far out and about halfway there I started to panic.  Dammit!  I had really, really, REALLY hoped that all my training would keep my panic issues at bay, but nope.  First kayak stop.  The incredibly friendly volunteer was so nice, telling me that I was doing great and I was almost to the first buoy.  So I looked back and - whaddya know? – I was almost there!

So, off I went to swim some more, rounding the first buoy and making my way to the second.  The long stretch between buoys had direct sunlight blinding me when I took a breath to the right.  No bueno for sighting, but I completely suck at sighting anyway, so I’m not sure it made much of a difference.  Thankfully, I had no trouble at all between the buoys and felt great for this entire stretch.  Yeah, I was freezing my face off, but my breathing felt fine and I was swimming strong (for me).

I turned at the second buoy and was so excited to be on the home stretch, but suddenly I panicked again.  The finish line wasn’t getting any closer and I couldn’t see where I was going and…kayak!!  Another incredibly nice volunteer let me catch my breath and listened to me swear.  I was so disappointed.  I didn’t have any time goal for this swim, but I did have a “no panicking” goal and I missed that one by a longshot.  UGH!

After thanking the nice kayaker, I put my head down and “powered” into the finish.  I am 99% certain that I was DFL out of the water, but I sure as heck didn’t turn around to look.  Some things I am better off not knowing.  There were three very nice people at the finish line who cheered for me when I came out of the water, so I gave it a big ol’ “WOOO HOOO!!” and then stumbled out to my car.

Ice Breaker Swim!! 005So very, very glad to be done!

Here’s what I learned from today’s experience:

  • Swimming in a pool does not in any way, shape or form prepare you for swimming in open water.
  • Swimming in open water is pretty much the scariest thing in the world, but
  • I WILL conquer this fear!
  • The only way to get better at open water swimming is to do more of it, so guess what I’ll be doing next weekend?
  • Even races that don’t go as planned offer you something to be proud of:  I got out there and I did it and I survived, which means I can do it again.
  • I don’t panic for any of the obvious reasons – it didn’t bug me at all that I couldn’t see the bottom of the lake (in fact, it was so murky I couldn’t even see my hands going into the water!), the numbness in my hands and face was bothersome but not scary, and it didn’t faze me when I got a big gross mouthful of dirty lake water - what really freaked me out was feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere.  Every time I looked up, the buoy still seemed really far away and I lost my sense of moving forward.  Knowing what makes me panic, I think I can work on my mental game.

Out in my car, I called IronHubs to tell him I was done and then struggled out of my wetsuit.  I had brought clothes to change into after the swim, but I couldn’t make my hands function, so I just dried off the best I could and put my sweatpants back on over my trisuit.  I cranked the heater up to eleven and high-tailed it home.  Finally, about 30 minutes into my 45-minute drive home, I could sort of feel my fingers and a little bit of my face.  Holy smokes that water was cold!

Ice Breaker Swim! 002Hours later, I’m still cold enough to wear my hat indoors.  I think I’m going to wear the hat all day – I certainly earned it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cold to Hot and Back Again

It occurred to me last week that I’m getting mighty close to my Half Iron race.  Like, it’s a mere 46 days away.  Holy crap, how did that happen??  Apparently, while I was sitting on the sidelines, time was still passing.  Who knew?

I think the thing that struck me the most is how completely and utterly unprepared I feel for this distance.  Not the swimming so much, thank goodness, but anything over an hour on my bike still feels like work to me and my current long run is only 3 miles.  Yikes!  Obviously, I knew I wasn’t going to be fully trained for this race because of the injury rehab and whatnot, but now that the clock is ticking down, I’m starting to feel a little worried about my ability to pull it off at all.

So, how do I handle the nagging doubts?  By stacking the long, slim odds as much in my favor as I can with some race-specific training, of course.  Case in point, today’s workouts:  a one mile swim and a three mile run. 

Rather than driving to the oh-so-cozy gym pool this morning, I suited up in neoprene and jumped into my 60 degree backyard pool.  Cha-cha-chilly, for sure, but not as bad as I thought it would be.  The pool is much warmer than it was back in January, and – as it turned out – I am a much better swimmer now, too.  Not only is this good training for the WTH in May, but I’m doing my first open water swim of the season this Saturday in the Open Division (as opposed to the competitive division – I don’t care how many hours I’ve put in at the pool, I am not in any way, shape or form a “competitive” swimmer!) of a local swimming-only race called the Ice Breaker.  I am completely panic-stricken about this race and I knew that this morning’s little jaunt in the pool would be an indicator of my readiness to swim in icy waters.  Honestly, you would have thought that today was race day the way I was carrying on this morning.  I procrastinated getting in the pool, I whined to my husband that I couldn’t do it, I had a nervous stomach and I seriously wanted to cry.  In my head, I have never swum in my life.  My brain has no clue that I’ve been training for this sort of thing for months.  My body, of course, knew exactly what to do as soon as I got in the water and 39 minutes later I was done with the fastest mile I’ve ever swum.  (Yes, even with a wetsuit, I am the slowest swimmer alive).

There was lots of good news to come from this swim.  First of all, even though the water was quite cold, it wasn’t unbearable until the very end of my swim.  The lake I’ll be swimming in this weekend should be more or less the same temperature as my pool, so now I know I can handle it.  Second of all, swimming a mile felt like a piece of cake.  I wasn’t tired or otherwise ready to get out of the water except for the fact that my face and hands had gone numb. Talk about a confidence-booster!  I’m sure I’ll still be procrastinating, whining and ready to cry this weekend (because that’s pretty much how I always feel on race days), but somewhere in my head, I’ll know it can be done.

To further simulate race-day conditions, I waited until this afternoon (after five hours on my feet at work) to run my three miles.  This is way outside my normal routine, but that was pretty much the point.  On race day, even if I am having the best day of my entire life – somehow managing to swim like a fish and ride like Lance – I will be running 13.1 exhausting miles in the heat of a late May afternoon.  Blech.  I am not a fan of running in the heat.  I would rather get up at 3 am to run than slog my way through anything over 60 degrees, but I did it anyway.  Today was about 75 degrees, but there was a nice breeze and some cloud cover, so the run went a lot better than I thought it might.  I wasn’t fast, by any means, but I felt good and I managed very even splits, so I’m happy with the accomplishment.  When I got home, I waded back into my pool to cool down, which made me laugh.  The water that was so cold this morning felt mighty nice after a hot run!

How do you prepare for a race that you’re pretty much unprepared for?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Scary Reminder

This is excerpted from an online article from my local newspaper:

A female jogger suffered life-threatening injuries when an SUV struck her this morning. She is being hospitalized while police investigate what caused the collision.

The incident occurred around 8 a.m. near the corner of L Blvd and LP Drive.

A police spokesperson said that the driver was traveling on eastbound L Blvd and hit the jogger while she was preparing to jog across at or near a marked crosswalk.

The impact threw the victim into the air and caused her to land in a traffic lane on L Blvd, the spokesperson said. The driver then remained at the scene.

Police believe that the driver may have committed a right-of-way or a red light violation before the collision.  It does not appear that alcohol was involved and police are still contacting witnesses in their investigation.

No criminal charges were filed against the driver as of press time.

The victim has not been identified since she lacked some form of identification. [emphasis mine]

“That’s making our efforts to identify her that much more difficult,” the spokesperson said.

The victim is described as being in her 30's or 40's.

Friends, PLEASE wear your Road ID and be careful out there!!!