Tag Archives: running

So Far So Good

6 Aug

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Today is the first day in a very long time (well, maybe not THAT long. Almost two months feels like a long time when you’re exhausted and miserable but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really a blink) I feel something like my normal, happy-go-lucky, energized self. I don’t feel 100% there yet but I’d put myself somewhere in the neighborhood of 75-80% and that’s not bad. Trying to be happy about all increments of change in a positive direction, even the mini ones.

I credit this good feeling to a couple of things. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

  1. I stopped falling asleep in front of the TV. In my normal life, I don’t have a TV in my bedroom. In my Steppenwolf life, I do. And at the start of the summer, I just wasn’t strong enough to turn the damned thing off before bed. In the last couple weeks, I’ve been really strict with myself. As soon as I feel like I’m drifting, I turn the TV off and go to damned sleep. I also have a cup of this “relaxing” tea that I bought in Chinatown two weeks ago and lemme tell you, that shit is the shit. Valerian root, baby. Stuff works. Ultimately, my quality of sleep has improved dramatically. I’m up fewer (or no) times in the night and therefore, I wake up feeling a little more energized.
  2. I started running again with regularity two weeks ago. The picture above was taken in my run along the lake. I made a new playlist a couple of days ago and named it “run for your life.” The longer I run, the more I believe that running will save you 95% of the times. That 5% is reserved for the times in your life when you’re injured or burned out. It doesn’t take very much either. I’ve been going out for anywhere from 40-50 minutes in low zones. Just to get myself moving and get that serotonin flowing through all those little channels in my brain.
  3. I got back into the hot room. Bikram has come to my rescue so many times in my life it’s right up there with running as a total soul-saver. And the lovely thing is that Bikram and running compliment each other perfectly. Bikram postures are specifically well suited for the kinds of overuse issues that all runners suffer from. And the detoxifying effects of 90 minutes of movement in 105 degrees can’t be exaggerated.
  4. I cut gluten out of my diet. I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting everyone cut gluten out of their diets. We’re all different and have different internal chemical scenarios and some people really have no issues with the stuff. But after being glutened TWICE this week at two different restaurants, I am almost certain that this pesky little protein is an issue for me. I’d been off the stuff for six weeks and both of the times I consumed glutenous substances (once at a Korean restaurant–it was own damned fault for thinking I could get away with a Korean rice bowl–and again at an Italian place WITH A GLUTEN FREE MENU) I was having dizzy spells within 20 minutes. After the dizziness came that lovely feeling of looking at the world from the inside of a mason jar. Three hours later, I had rocks in my gut. And twelve hours later I was constipated. So yeah, sensitive to gluten.
  5. I’ve cut down my non-fruit related sugar intake to almost nothing and cut my fruit intake down to one or two plums and a handful of berries throughout the day, but not before 11AM. I did this because my energy had been super super low about two and a half to three hours after waking and it was suggested that that was due to a drastic drop in blood sugar after breakfast. I realized that my morning breakfast bowl included apple sauce, maple syrup AND berries mixed into oatmeal. I hadn’t really thought about how much sugar that amounted to until I cut it out and noticed a marked change in how I felt by noon. Most notably, I wasn’t going down for a nap three hours after getting up. Anyway, it’s working for me. So now I start out the day with a green smoothie that has NO fruit in it. This has taken some getting used to, believe me. The smoothie is almost entirely supplements (1 scoop SuperFood; 1 tsp Maca powder; 1 capsule each ginseng, B complex, probiotic and multi-mineral; and 1 tsp complete omega oil) with one cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and two ice cubes. Then about an hour later, I have a couple of eggs scrambled with kale and vegan cheese with a piece of GF toast.

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So now it’s 2:06PM central time and I’ve been able to run, do laundry, make myself breakfast and lunch (the above photographed gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi over sautéed kale, chicken sausage, shiitake mushrooms and tomatoes) and bake a batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for our second tech this afternoon.

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I’m gonna post the recipe (adjusted from the original posted here on The Iron You–my new favorite triathlon blog). Originally, this recipe was vegan, gluten-free and Paleo. But I baked my first batch with no binder and the cookies were just too darn crumbly.

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So I added one egg to the remaining dough (sorry vegans but I didn’t have anything in the house to sub. If you want to make these, add the equivalent in egg substitute or chia goop) and they second batch is holding together better. I also cut the almond meal by half a cup and added 3/4 up of gluten-free all-purpose baking flour. You could certainly leave out the flour. I just don’t know what the hell holds these babies together if they’re all nuts and no binder.

These babies definitely hit the spot if you’re looking for a chocolate fix. There is minimal sugar in the recipe and they’re packed with good fats. Granted, this cookie is no substitute for a real Tollhouse but, as with most diet-adjusted baked goods, you gotta try to forget about the original and just take the new thing at face value. This cookie is not the cookie you grew up with. But guess what? You’re not ten years old anymore. Your body has changed and maybe you shouldn’t be eating cookies like you used to. Just saying.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Drop Cookies
(makes 3 dozen small cookies)

3/4 cups almond meal
3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
½  cup coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp sunflower seed butter
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 large egg
¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
¾ chopped almonds

Preheat oven at 350°F and place a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, sunflower seed butter and egg until well mixed. Add flour and stir until a soft dough forms. Add chocolate chips and nuts and stir to mix well.

Drop the dough by spoon onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for another 15 minutes. Move to a cookie rack and cool completely.

Oh and just a little note: the black sprinkles on these cookies are actually Hawaiian black lava salt. I picked some up last week and I’m obsessed with the stuff. If you don’t have any (and why would you) don’t worry about it. You can throw a little bit of regular ol’ coarse sea salt onto these cookies and it really works. But if you don’t like your sweets a little salty, then by all means, abstain from the sprinkling.

Whence Comes the Energy Redux

24 Jul

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That is a picture of Lake Michigan, taken during my run this morning. My first solo run since the first week of July. And it’s hard for me to even count that early July run as an actual run because it was too short and I had to stop every block for traffic and I felt like crap and it was raining, etc… Honestly, I haven’t been running for almost six weeks now. The last time I logged anything into Training Peaks was, I think, the first week of June. Sorry, Coach.

I went out on Sunday with a friend who is, like me, just getting back into the swing of things after taking some time off. He ran a 200 mile Ragnar last month and needed some time to get his legs and mind back. He was the perfect person to go out with for an easy trot. He’s an obviously experienced runner, born of a family chock-full of running phenoms (his uncle held a world record for the fastest 10k run by, like, an 8-year-old boy or some such craziness) and I could tell that on any other day, if we were both in peak condition, he’d have made me work. Hard. But it wasn’t any other day. It was Sunday. After a long rest period. And we were both happy with an easy, conversational pace and a pleasant 40 minutes along the lakefront.

I had no plans to run this morning but the minute I woke up, I felt the urge. And not only the urge, but also the ability. As in: I felt like I had the power to get up, get dressed and go for a run. The flesh was willing and the mind was strong. Anyone who has ever been active for any length of time knows that it’s a boon when the body and mind are in sync. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes your mind is OK but you’re body is wiped. Sometimes your body is fine but your mind is like, “Fuck you. It’s 5AM and it’s raining. We are staying in bed.” In either of these instances, it’s normally possible for one to override the other and you get up and you get out and you do your thing.

But when both mind and body go AWOL, it’s really hard to motivate. This has happened to me before. Actually it happens more regularly than I think I’ve ever been willing to admit. And most of the time, I muscle through. Why? Because…

Because?

Because I fear what will happen if I don’t. Which is what? Probably nothing. Nobody has money riding on whether or not I’m going to place at the next sprint tri on Key Biscayne. I muscle through because I fear what others will think of me if I don’t. Maybe people will think I’m weak. Maybe people will think I’m lazy. Maybe people will think I’m not a good athlete. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Who Gives a Fuck?

Obviously I do. Or I have. In the (not so distant) past. So for the last month, I’ve been trying to worry less about what my not-training “means” to other people (and I’ve been through enough therapy to know that, at the end of the day, it means NOTHING to other people) and more about what I can do to feel better. So I went to see this acupuncturist/chiropractor/herbal doctor and settled on a plan to eat clean, take a boat-load of supplements, sleep when my body was telling me to sleep, and focus on being a playwright. So far so good. Ish.

When I woke up this morning and felt the desire to run, I couldn’t fight it. I’ve been listening to my body about other shit, so why not listen to it when it asked me to move? I wanted to run. And that made me happy. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten out of the house so quickly. I was up and out the door in about seven minutes. Just enough time to pee, dress, strap on my Garmin and go. I ran pretty much the same route my friend and I had run on Sunday. Down towards the lake and then along the lakefront and then back. Right around 4 miles. And that felt fine.

For the last, oh, two years, every time I’ve gone out for a run, I’ve had some kind of time and/or pace goal in mind. 10 minute warmup then 1 mile build to lowest point of zone 5, then 1.5 miles all out, then cool down to zone 2. Or 30min at 10K pace + 15 seconds. Or 90 minutes in HR Z1-2 NO ZONE 3! This morning, my goal was to go out and enjoy running. Funny how goals change.

But now I’m on the couch, under a blanket, with my laptop on my legs, writing this blog post, feeling my eyelids getting heavy. I had a smoothie immediately after the run that included frozen berries, almond milk, 1 tsp maca powder, 1 tsp Omega oil, one B complex, 2 multi-minerals, 1 probiotic and a scoop of Perfect Food.  Then I had a cup of mate and two gluten free waffles with sunflower butter. So…where’s the energy?

Why do I want to take a nap at 11:42 in the morning? What am I not doing right? Is this STILL caffeine withdrawal? Should I have ignored my body this morning when it begged me to get out on the road? Did I really so exhaust myself over the course of the last six months that it’s going to take another six months to get my energy levels back up to what they were? And really, what were they? Have I ever really had any sustained energy? Or have I just been faking it? The truth is, I have been tired for the last ten years. But how is it possible that I’ve been training and competing in amateur sports that whole time? Why do I feel alternately great and crappy? Energized and fatigued? Calm and anxious?

These are the questions I’ve got rolling around in my brain right now. They’re sharing space with the questions I’ve got about Oedipus and narcissists and the drama of family dynamics and how to be an adult relating to other adults. And I have to work very hard to make sure that the questions I’m asking about my health don’t completely take over that space; overpower the questions I have to be asking about my work and my writing and my personal life. But this is tricky because those questions all probably, in one way or another, point to the same answer.

I know it’s not just about coffee and it’s not just about gluten or dairy. It’s not just about booze or casein or yeast. It’s not just about migraines and balance issues and yo-yo dieting. It’s not just about hay fever or eating too much soy. It’s not about pestides and GMOs and soil depletion and how none of our food has any nutritional value anymore. Well, maybe it’s a little about all of that. Honestly though, I think it’s far more likely that this is about me, and so many other young American women, fighting to hit one or two or twenty unattainable goals and making ourselves sick in the process.

Easy as Pie. Sort of. Not Really.

27 Mar

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The pie chart above represents my workouts for TODAY.

Not for the last week or the last couple of days. TODAY. In a single day I did 30 minutes of strength training, went for an 18 minute open water swim, biked 2:12 hrs (including one hour that was just going back and forth over a bridge several times), and finished it all off with a 43 minute run.

I really can’t believe that anyone ever trains for a full Ironman because this is what training for a half is like. I also really don’t understand how anyone does this while working a 9-5 job. And I have the utmost, UTMOST respect for anyone who tackles this kind of endeavor while raising kids. Holy hell. I am so freaking lucky. And it’s kinda nuts that it takes a day like today to make me realize that.

Some of you out there are probably thinking that all of this makes me the opposite of lucky. “Four hours of training,” you exclaim to yourself. “That bitch isn’t lucky, she’s DUMB. Or at the very least insane.” And you may well be right on both counts. But I’m still grateful. And maybe it’s the overwhelming surge of endorphins rushing through my body right now but I just have to say thanks to the universe. Not only do I have the arms and legs and organs and overal health that makes it possible to even consider doing something like this, but I also have a great job and my independence and a team of training partners who push me and make me want to get out there and push myself. I also have friends and family who think that this is even moderately cool for me to be doing it.

I also have great weather. I mean, really? REALLY, FLORIDA? Really? Today? The weather today? Did that actually happen? Was it actually 45 degrees with no humidity this morning and then 70 degrees with no humidity and cloudless skies and like, zero wind when we were out on KB this afternoon? Was the water actually that blue? That clear? That flat? Really?

I don’t know what’s happening to me. I’m a little concerned about how I’m going to feel in 90 minutes. When whatever this is wears off and I go back to being grumpy or I just fall out on the couch in front of whatever shlock reality TV show is clogging up the airwaves tonight or my heart explodes or I have to eat two sweet potatoes. That last part would actually be pretty nice. And there are two in the oven right now so it could happen.

I don’t know how to end this post. I wish I could end it with pie. Sweet potato pie. I could. Hmmmm.

I won’t. I’ve seriously eaten so much sugar today it’s a little obscene.

OK. I’m going to go take a shower. And a breath.

Race Report: 2575 Triathlon, Fort Lauderdale, March 17th, 2013

18 Mar

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As the above picture illustrates beautifully, the race yesterday was an awesome way to open the season. This is my third 2575 event and my third time on the podium. What made yesterday even sweeter, however, was the move from 3rd place to second and the fact that I finished 14 minutes ahead of last year. Fourteen minutes??!? Granted, the course was different: the first two 2575 races were held in my backyard on Key Biscayne. This year, because of the construction mess on the causeway, all of our KB races have had to change venue to one degree or another. So 2575 moved north to Fort Lauderdale to a very flat, very fast and relatively scenic course right along the beach.

The race was also bigger this year. The last two times, I don’t think there were any more than a few hundred athletes but this year the race sold out it’s max capacity of 500. I don’t actually think there were 500 people on the course. Looking through the results (which is what I’ve been doing for the last two hours) it seems like the field was closer to 350-400 people. But I can’t tell exactly.

In terms of conditions, it was a pretty perfect day. Cool in the morning, a little bit overcast with wind out of the Northwest. The swim was northbound with the current and it was wet suit legal so it was bound to be fast. But historically speaking, none of those bonus conditions that tend to make everybody else super happy have ever had any effect on me (with the exception of Augusta) during the swim. I’ve always just sorta suffered no matter what. Yesterday things changed.

I had the race swim I’ve been waiting to have for the last year and a half. I came in 2+ minutes under my estimate, which one could attribute to the current. But the good thing about race conditions is that they’re the same for everyone on the course. So if the swim is fast, it’s fast for the fastest swimmers and the slowest. If the current is against you, it’s also against the former all-state freestyle champ swimming 2 minutes ahead of you. Yesterday, I was less than a minute behind one of the strongest swimmers on my team and neck-and-neck with another teammate who is male and 22 years old and absurdly fit. So good conditions, bad conditions, my swimming has improved.

Our wave was the largest. They put all age group women in with all the men 25 and under and all the men 50 and over. So it was a friggin’ washing machine in there. And not just at the start. It was legs and arms and elbows and people gasping for breath and frog kicking and backstroking into you for the whole swim. And yet somehow, I was able to come out of the water  in the top 3rd of my AG as opposed to the bottom third like normal. When I came into transition, my bike wasn’t the only one left. Regardless of the way the waves are staggered, that is still a huge psychological bonus.

For the first time ever, I swam the whole distance freestyle without having to breast stroke or roll over on my back for recovery. I was able to swim through the fatigue in my shoulders and I had complete control over my breathing. The hardest part was heading back to shore after the last buoy because at that point the current was working against me as I tried to aim straight for the swim-out chute. I made it though and was psyched when I looked at my watch. Not only psyched, actually, a little shocked.

Of course, I got out of the water and immediately had to run across 100 meters of loose beach sand while trying to strip out of my soggy wetsuit and catch my breath. Fun fun fun. But I felt pretty fantastic all things considered and ready to see what I could do on the bike. This was my first race on Starbuck and my first race since I started doing the high intensity training.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the bike mostly because I was disappointed with my performance. But only after the fact. Because that’s my MO. I’d been aggressive with my estimate the night before because, well, because I feel like it’s time to start setting more challenging goals for myself. Goals that are not totally delusional but also not totally wimpy. I figured the course was so flat, I could probably get a 20mph avg. I didn’t really account for the twisty-ness of the course. It was two loops, so already we’re dealing with multiple u-turns and then a couple of right and left turns that slowed things down considerably and then there was the headwind on the way back. So I don’t think I pushed enough in the first three miles, although I was going 23-24mph with the wind. Even that didn’t cover  the inevitable slow-down during miles 5-6 and 11-12.

I was gauging my energy output based on how my legs felt (HR monitor on the fritz) so when they started to burn, I pulled back, especially going into the wind, for fear of blowing my load before the run. In the last mile, I did something that was maybe stupid and I decided to spin into a lower gear to move some lactic acid and get my legs going faster in prep for the run. I say it was dumb because I don’t think it made a lick of difference on the run and it cost me time on the bike. Maybe not much time but time is time. Ultimately, my bike was 4 minutes off what I’d been hoping to do and not that much better than my sprints from last year.

Remember when I said I wasn’t going to go into this in great detail? Well, because I’m crazy and have too much time on my hands, I averaged out the top bike times from each female category. The first place female elite amateur had the best bike split at 34:35; the first place female 18-24 age grouper had the slowest with 49:32. So what did this obsessive number crunching get me? The realization that I am the average. But at least, I’m the average of the best. Enough.

The run. The run felt hard. I went aggressive with my run estimate as well and was hoping to actually beat my most recent 5K road race time. I don’t know why I thought that was going to be possible but it wasn’t. At least not yesterday. I was off by a minute from my PR and 1:43 off my estimate. But whatever, I finished first in my AG on the run so that’s cool. Still, it was a LONG mile and a half to the turnaround. I’d gone through about 20 oz of Perform on the bike so I felt adequately hydrated but I ended up taking half a caffeinated chocolate Power Gel around mile 1 and the other half around mile 2 to avoid any potential bonk.

We had the same headwind on the run that we’d had on the bike so the way home was rough. But my legs felt good and my breathing was fine despite the fact that I was way high in the zones at this point. I really, really, really wanted to win my age group. I went into this race wanting to win my age group and at mile 2 of the run, that desire to win had not faded. Of course, as an age grouper, it’s not like you really know who your competition is. Maybe you know a name or you’ve seen someone at a race before but it’s not like you’re prepping with a specific competitor in mind. But in this sport, the person you really have to be ready to tackle is you. You have to be willing to destroy your own mind. That’s one of the things I love about triathlon because as any of my closest friends will tell you, I absolutely love to beat myself up.

That said, right before mile 2 on the run, this chick sidled up alongside of me and said, “You’re doing really great, great run, I’ve been following you for a while.” I thanked her as she passed me and she said, “Don’t worry, I’m not in your age group.” And I said, “Then go get it!” I was running around 7:20 pace at that point so she must have been hovering right around 7:00. I kept her in my sights until the very end. With a mile left to go, I saw her sidle up alongside another chick and then pass her. I quickened my pace at that point and starting closing in on the other chick. I checked out her leg, saw that she was in my age group and was like, “Fuck that noise.” Until that moment, I had no idea what other women were in front of me. All I thought was, if she’s the only one up there and I have the chance to take her, I’m taking her immediately. Especially, with less than a mile to go.

I didn’t really have to pick up the pace that much. Just a touch so get beyond her. Then there was the realization that she’d probably see the number on my leg and, if she was any kind of competitor, that might be the boost she’d need to kick into gear. So with that thought rolling around in my head, I knew there was no slowing down. In fact, I absolutely had to speed up enough to keep the gap wide or force her into a home stretch burn out. I took it down under 7:00 for the last several hundred meters. It hurt. It hurt a lot but the thought that this woman might catch up to me was enough to keep me going.

I got through the finish like 14 seconds ahead of her and then discovered that there was indeed one woman who had beaten me through the shoot by about 50 seconds. But because of that extra push at the end, I moved up in the rank from last year. Hard work and performance addiction pays off.

It was a really big day for the whole team. Six of us placed and got to take home fancy hardware.

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Below is a pic of me with my teammates JD (who took first in his notoriously tough AG and 27th overall) and Mike (third in HIS notoriously tough AG). I train and race with these guys all the time so it was nice to be on the podium with them, even if it was only for the photo op. If the day comes when I’m actually able to beat Mike in any of the three events, I’ll have to turn pro.

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Somehow I got camera shy during the awards ceremony:

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And then got my mojo back:

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The rest of the day looked a little like this:

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Not a bad way to spend a Sunday in March.

Addendum:

I just realized that if you’re a tri person reading this blog, a lot of what I’ve written will mean nothing without my splits. If you’re a non-tri person reading this blog, you’re like, “what the F is a split?” And even if you know what a split is, then mine will mean nothing to you without some frame of reference. So I’m going to post my splits (the times for each event) along with the splits of the woman who got first in my age group and the top female elite amateur. So you know what’s what.

Top Female Elite:
Age 28, Finish time: 1:10:04
Swim time: 12:10,
Transition 1: 1:41
Bike time: 34:35
Run time: 21:41

1st Place Female 35-39:
Age: 36, Finish time: 1:20:17
Swim time: 15:31
T1: 1:51
Bike time: 38:49
Run time: 24:07

My Splits:
Age: 34*, Finish time: 1:21:07
Swim Time: 15:43
T1: 1:35
Bike time: 40:07
Run time: 23:43

* USAT decides age based on how old you’ll be on December 31st of the current year so even though I don’t turn 35 until September, I had to race in the next age group. But it actually worked out in my favor this time since the field was much more competitive this time around. Had I raced in my old category, I would have placed 6th.

Addendum to the Addendum:

I was looking at my Garmin time yesterday and I realized that there was a  big discrepancy between what the machine had calculated as my run time and what the race results folks had calculated. This happens sometimes. You’re racing, your head is spinning, you hit the lap button a few seconds too early or too late, and your time is a wee bit off. But the race results had me running about 45 seconds slower than my Garmin, which calculated distance at EXACTLY 3.1 miles. I was scratching my head trying to figure this one out and then one of my teammates solved the mystery for me: the race did not include T2 in their calculations, only T1. So they added the T2 time to the run total and that’s where my 42ish seconds went. So my run time was actually 23 minutes pretty much on the nose. So I was only a minute off my prediction as opposed to almost 2 minutes. Now I’ll be able to sleep.

On Time and Chocolate Pudding

12 Mar

It’s been a boring day so I don’t have much to report. Except I did go on a plant-buying spree and spend some time in the garden. Oh and I made a quick chocolate pudding (recipe below). Oh and I returned some library books and did a 400 meter swim test (14 seconds faster than last time!). I guess today was actually pretty full. Whatever. Instead of writing a whole big thing, I’m going to link to an article I just read on the USAT website entitled Fitness Isn’t Always a Linear Progression.

The article spoke to me because I was just bitching to the Commander about my last time trial test on the bike and how I was only .6 mph faster than the bike test we did when I was just back in January, weighted down by holiday fat and still riding my road bike. I was especially frustrated because I’ve been doing this whole High Intensity bike training program with him and I expected to be way faster than I was.

The article basically demystifies why we do what we do when we do it during an endurance training regimen. I read this and realized that I’d never really asked any questions about the logic of training phases. I mean I know the basics but in general, I pretty much just do what the Commander tells me to do. It’s what makes me eminently coachable: my willingness to just do what I’m told because I assume that the person telling me to do the thing knows more than I do. This is also one of the things that makes me eminently easy to walk all over in romantic relationships but that’s a whole separate post.

I’m lucky in that, over the many years I’ve been participating in amateur sport, I’ve had great coaches who know of what they speak. It’s been easy to give over to their authority. In athletics, proof is in the results and I’ve always been happy with my results and the results of my teammates. However, it’s always a good idea to be educated in regards to any endeavor so for that reason, I’m posting a link to the article. The big take-away from it is this, I think:

In our sport consistency is the key to growth. There is no one magic workout that is going to set you ahead of your competitors, but instead a steady diet of hard but manageable workload is what is going to keep you improving. In reality triathlon (or any endurance sport for that matter) is a very “blue collar” sport. There is no (legal) way to get around the fact that you need to put in the work to improve. So get out there and put the trust in your coach or your training program and let them carry you to a new season of personal bests!

And I mean, once again, I’m choosing to focus on what I have NOT accomplished as opposed to what I HAVE accomplished. My bike time was faster. It’s not like I got slower. And also, as stated above, my 400 time has been steadily decreasing between January (8:45) and today (8:17). Also, I’ve been getting way faster on my runs right off the bike. BECAUSE we’ve been focusing on cadence during the HI training sessions. So now, when I get out of the saddle, my legs just wanna go go go! So really, I’m living this article and need to cultivate patience and understand that the more time you put into training, the less time you put into the race.

Now to the pudding recipe. It isn’t great but if you’re craving chocolate and short on time, give it a whirl:

Quickie Chocolate Pudding

2 cups  unsweetened almond milk
3 tbsp sugar (I used coconut palm but you can use whatever you prefer)
2 tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp salt
1 pat of butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions

Whisk one cup of milk with corn starch to make a slurry. In a sauce pot, whisk together the remaining milk, sugar, cocoa, spices and salt. Bring to a simmer and then add the slurry. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Run your finger across the back of the spoon. If the track stays clean, no drips, the pudding is done. Strain over a bowl to eliminate any lumps and then stir in the extracts and butter. Pour into 3 serving bowls. Cover exposed area with a small sheet of waxed paper or parchment or plastic wrap, then cool slightly and chill until cold. The pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.

About 150 calories per serving, 5.6g total fat, 1.5g sat fat, 21.2g total carbs, 10.2g sugar, 2.2g protein.

Crazy Begets Crazy

5 Mar

It’s been a wild few weeks of air, auto and rail travel, meetings, milestones, head colds, writing projects, performances, friends in town, friends out of town, and through it all, training, training and more training. After dropping my friend D off at the airport at 5:30AM; after a 6AM weight training session and an 8:45AM appointment with my foot and ankle orthopedist who told me that one of the joints in my feet is fused in a way that explains ALL the pain I’ve ever experienced from standing, walking and/or running; after paying some bills and taking care of some work-work, I had the day to myself.

I made a giant pot of veggie “baked” beans in my crock-pot and then finally got my gas sitch fixed so I have a working oven. Yes, I realize that’s a funny sentence. Beans, gas, ha ha. Whatever. I can eat hot food again, which is nice since it’s friggin frigid in Miami right now. Then I spent the rest of the day writing and fighting a migraine. I know I got this migraine because I fell off the wagon again and had coffee this weekend and then didn’t have coffee this morning. C’est la vie.

I was in front of the computer for about five hours working on this ongoing project that is kicking my ass but also making me very nostalgic. It was a busy day disguised as a relaxing day and at the end of it, I was feeling a little loopy and overheated from sitting under my heating pad on the couch. I debated whether or not to go out on my Monday recovery run but then realized that I absolutely had to do it because I needed some physical activity to counter the cerebral activity of the day. I had just been writing about this exact balance and so it only made sense to live the narrative.

The weather was perfect. The whole Grove smells like it’s on fire (in a good way) because everyone is using their fireplaces right now. The Commodore trail was empty but for a few runners out enjoying the night and I  just felt fantastic. So my 2o minute RR turned into a 40 minute RR and I wanted to keep running but knew to do so would be foolish. It would turn this workout into something different and I’m trying to stay on plan. Still, what a night. It all felt so good that I got home and did this:

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I’d been talking about it and talking about it and I finally decided to do it. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and be all, “Never make an important decision if you’re in the midst of a runner’s high!” But I doubt it. I got twelve weeks to shed my wetsuit and get comfortable with the thought of a 1.2 mile lake swim in South Florida in May. Bring it.

Blood, Butts and Glory

12 Feb

The title says it all. Over the last few weeks, there’s been some bloodshed, there’s been a lot of saddle soreness and there has been a spot of glory. I’ll go in order.

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The Blood

So I’ve been doing this high intensity Computrainer bike training series with the Commander. I committed to the five-week long endeavor because  a) I’m performance addicted; b) I feel compelled to work overtime now that I’m on the God forsaken Shadow Unit; c) I have this sweet new ride and; c) I’ve seen my swim and run times decline precipitously over the last year while my bike times have remained somewhat consistent. That’s not entirely true. I’ve gotten nominally faster  but not to the extent that my bike times are truly impacting my overall finish times. I decided to make the commitment and thus far, I’m glad that I did. Although the training sessions are grueling. FAR MORE GRUELING than any training sessions on the road. Working on a trainer (see above set-up) is way more difficult and after two testing sessions, the Commander has designed a training protocol that leaves my legs feeling liquified for several hours after I’m done. But on to the blood.

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The deal includes two blood lactate tests. We already performed one (see above blood lactate testing set-up) and discovered that my zones have been pretty much what we thought they were. My bike zones are a little lower than I thought they were, my run zones are about the same. Still, it was pretty cool to get the exact numbers. Now that I have accurate zones, I have a really good sense of how hard I’m working and whether or not I can push myself a little more or pull back a bit. I’ve been out on the road several times since I started the High Intensity training and I’m already feeling a difference–mostly on inclines (not that we have a lot of those down here) but also on the flats. My most recent testing data shows an obvious improvement. I went from a 10K time trial at 18.9mph in the middle of January to a 16K TT at 20.4mph just a few weeks later. Now, I did buy the new bike so that might have something to do with it. But I’m thinking the combo of new bike and intense training will get me to my goals this season.

The Butt

That brings me to my butt. I have no pictures for this section. Sorry. The “bottom” line is I need a new saddle STAT! The one that came with StarBuck is not going to cut it. I don’t know how to express what I’m feeling without being crass so I won’t bother. Those of you who’ve ever ridden a road or TT bike for an extended period of time now what I’m talking about. It’s more uncomfortable than I could have possibly imagined and I fear for my future genital health. So I’m going to make the switch to an Adamo road saddle as soon as I get my tax return. If not sooner. ‘Nuff said.

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The Glory

Despite an hour-long leg liquifier last Friday, I managed to run a PR at the Chapman Partnership Run Wild 5K on Saturday, win my age group (1st of 90!!) and get 2nd overall women! That’s me up there with two Miami Dolphins cheerleaders (WTF?) Posing with those two brought me back to my boxing days when I couldn’t understand why they’d put ring girls in for girl fights between rounds. Don’t get me wrong, they were totally nice but I would have much rather had a picture with the 2nd and 3rd place runners. At any rate, I was psyched with my performance especially since not 16 hours before I’d been grinding away at 300 watts for 12 thirty-second intervals with four-minute “rest” intervals at 100 watts between. I was on the fence about whether or not I’d race this race or just try to enjoy myself. Apparently, the second option is never really an option. I did a long warm up before the race start (about 35 minutes) and I highly recommend this to everyone before a 5K. I’d heard tell that this was the way to go but had never tried it.

The last time I ran all out at a 5K was September 2011, right before I really started training with Alien Endurance. I ran a 23:17. I managed to pull off an age group win at that race as well but got horribly sick immediately after. Like balls to wall sick. Couldn’t move for days. It was awful. My best 5K training time last year was 22:40-something so I was hoping to beat that but my 5K TT when I got back from the holidays was a shabby 24 minutes and change. So I really had no idea what to expect from myself. I ran that long warmup super slow with a few little pickups. The pickups had my HR spiking and my quads burning so I wasn’t sure about my capacity for speed once the race started.

But there’s something about race day. The way your body just takes over and the gun goes off and your muscles fire and you just do what you’ve trained to do. I went out way too fast. I glanced at my Garmin about a quarter-mile in and I was clocking 6:38 or something absurd like that. Absurd for me, that is. I realize that isnt’ absurd for some people. I felt really good, which was surprising, but I didn’t want to screw myself in the last mile so I decided to calm down a bit and try to get the pace up to around 7:30. I did that and my HR was hovering in high Z4, which felt good. Breathing felt good and legs felt good. I felt good.

At the half-way point, I picked it up a bit and brought the pace down around 7:09-7:15. The course was a lovely, loopy jaunt through the Miami Metro Zoo. After the race, everyone assured me that they’d seen giraffes and elephants and other such creatures but I hadn’t seen a damned thing. I was too busy frothing at the mouth and focusing on the few ladies in front of me. Right after the mile 2 marker, I decided to kick it into high gear. I’d passed one chick and had my sights on another: a super lithe professional looking older woman I’d seen warming up at the start line. The chick looked crazy elite and was literally floating through the air. When I passed her, I was a little shocked. I later discovered that she is 60 years old and a professional marathoner. She was amazing. But as I passed her, I heard a guy call out to her, letting her know that she was 4th. So I heard this and was like, “he can’t mean she’s the fourth woman. Because if she is and I’m passing her then I’m the third woman, which makes no sense at all.”

There was one more woman up ahead of me but I could see that she was hurting and at that point I was feeling really great. I checked my Garmin and saw I had about a three tenths of a mile left so I decided it was time to just burn what was left in the tank. I kicked it up, got down to a 6:50-something, which is way faster than I thought I could run, and blew passed the last lady. I got through the finish chute at 22:24.

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I have to say, I was pretty pleased with myself. I know 22:24 is no elite finishing time but I felt like I paced the race perfectly and managed to leave it all out there in the last mile. The first place gal finished in 21:08, I think. I wonder what I would have done if I hadn’t had that bike training session the day before! In the end it doesn’t matter. This 5K has me super excited for my tri runs this season and I really love seeing speed gains over the course of the years. At my first ever 5K (the 2006 Country’s Midnight Express in Columbus, Georgia) I ran a 27:24. And I was only that fast because there was a BBQ sandwich waiting for me at the finish line. It took me five years to get my ass back into gear and I’m glad that I did. First place out of 90 women feels pretty awesome and second place out of about 500 feels even better. Maybe even better than a pulled pork sandwich. But let’s not push it.