Saturday, October 8, 2011

All in a (Tri) Day's Work

I'd love to dive right in to my training day today but I have to mention my weigh-in on Friday first.  Down a full 3 pounds!  Can you believe that?  I was shocked.  Of course my neurotic mind went a bit off the deep end wondering if losing three pounds in one week means I'm burning muscle instead of fat.  My percentage of fat is staying somewhat steady, I think it was 41 or 41.5% this week.  I worried about this for about half of the day and then I realized I was being silly and let it go.  I lost three pounds this week and that's a good thing.

Yesterday (Friday) I went to Sports Basement to rent a wetsuit.  The salesman was fabulous and he picked out one that fit me well, though admittedly I have nothing to compare it to.  Getting it on was an experience.  The salesman had to help me adjust it to get it on all the way and I wondered how I would do this by myself! In any case, how do I look?  It's nowhere near as bad as I imagined, the wetsuit sort of acts like a body spanx.  While there I broke down and bought some "fat" tri shorts because I realized the night before that my only other option would be to wear a swimsuit and then change into my regular biking shorts. Dear me!  

So on to today.  I got up and packed my gear.  Unfortunately my bike had a flat and I was out of tubes.  Miguel, as usual, saved me.  He agreed to run to the bike store when they opened and fix my bike at the rec area.  He'd be done before we were even done with the swim.  Love him!  I was driving to the park and got hit with a bout of nerves.  Why am I doing this? What makes me think I can do this?  The combination of anxiety and self doubt was powerful and I actually started to tear up a little bit. I told myself I was being melodramatic and to Snap out of it!  - that pretty much worked.

I arrived at the meeting spot and checked in.  I shared how nervous I was and got support, empathy and great advice.  It was also good to chat with some other women who were dealing with their own struggles in relation to the swim, kept me in perspective.  It was time to suit up.  I had never done this by myself.  I put the body glide on my ankles, wrists and neck (I had to add more to my neck after I got it on and realized I was already chafing - moral of the story, you can't use too much body glide) and went to work.  It actually wasn't too bad.  I got it on without too much effort, though I needed help to zip it (too bad you can't "suck in" your back fat).  We got briefed on things like currents, tide, sighting, exit strategies, etc.  There was a plan for people doing the sprint and a longer version for those doing the olympic distance.  First, a quick group photo and then everyone in the water!  How cool do we look?  That's me on the far left. I'm wearing a "thermal" under my swim cap, one of the trimorefitness team loaned it to me.  I didn't even know such things existed.

I got in the water and was pleasantly surprised.  It was quite tolerable.  I think I had heard from so many people how freezing cold it would be that I was expecting something on the order of just melted glacier water.  This was definitely cold, my feet and hands were freezing at first, but once we got moving I was fine.  I swam and swam and swam.  I got a bit off course now and then (and found out later I wasn't sighting nearly enough) but in general there were no moments of panic.  I started to think I might be the last person in the water when a kayak support person was hovering.  I was, but honestly I didn't care.  I just swam nearly 2/3 of a mile, in a wetsuit, in the bay, for the first time and I couldn't be more pleased.  Wait, nearly 2/3 of a mile?  I swam too far.  What happened was, I got so focused on the buoys and swimming around them that I forgot to make a left and swim ashore early.  Oh well, I survived and the longer swim was a confidence booster, I know I can last 30 minutes in the water if I need to.  A review with the trimore team and we were off to change for the bike.  Miguel had fixed my tire and was still at the park with the kids.  When it was time for me to leave Marek had a MAJOR meltdown, "I want to ride bike with mommmmyyyy!"  Screaming and having a fit.  Sorry little guy.  I'll have to take him for a little ride tomorrow.

Coach Neil said we'd be on our bikes for about 90 minutes and for some reason that was a surprise.  90 minutes sounded like an awfully long time given my previous max (since having kids) was probably 20 at any one time.  I was the slowest but got wonderful company from a member of the training team and I just felt so glad I did this - and grateful for the opportunity - that being slow didn't bother me.  A far cry from my near breakdown in the car on the way in this morning.  We rode the bike course, starting with the big ass hill just to get out of the park, and I made some rookie mistakes, like shifting too late on some hills, but all in all I did what I was told and felt good about it.  The last time I rode this course was in 2008 when I was training for the Marin Tri back then.  I had just found out I was pregnant and still believed I could do the oly distance 5 months pregnant.  That was over 3 years ago!

We wrapped up the biking just when I was going to throw in the towel and head back to the park.  Good timing.  All the coach asked us to do was run for 10-15 minutes just to practice getting off the bike and running.  I did that but my pace was glacial, my legs just felt so heavy.  That didn't stop me from ending the day feeling triumphant.  My confidence for the sprint is way up and, barring any disasters, I know I'll finish.  A big thank you to the trimore team and all the women that shared their stories and lended support.  I love nice people!  And especially nice people with cameras - thank you Mitchell Marriott for taking all these awesome pictures and sending them to me so fast!

When I finally got home and took a shower I noticed I had what felt like a burn on my neck about the size of a 50 cent piece.  I guess I needed more body glide but I was thankful it was only in one little spot.  The kids were napping so I got to relax for a short while before going into evening/dinner mode.  I was tired and felt bad I didn't have more energy for them.  I'm going to get a good night sleep tonight though and give 'em all I got tomorrow!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Training Day is on the Calendar!

We've had a nasty bout of cold, rainy weather these past few days and I've felt like the treadmill has been giving me threatening glares.  I admit, since I started running outside again I have been scared of the treadmill.  My virtual coach and I talked this morning about my run pace and how intervals can help me get up to 5mph (12 minute mile), which is what I'd like to be able to maintain.  She sent me a breakdown of a 26 minute run ranging from 4.5 to 5.1mph.

I got to the gym thinking I would try the treadmill with the intervals.  Incidentally, I was feeling triple tense when I arrived and for no apparent reason.  I got started with my exercise hoping knowing it would help me unwind.  I hopped on the treadmill and started out at 4.5, then 4.8, 5.0, 4.8, 5.1 - you get the idea.  Most of the intervals were 5 minutes, except for the 5.1's, which were only two minutes.  The main thing is, I felt great!  I felt strong and running felt relatively easy.  I wish it felt like that every time!  I went on to back/biceps and core work and wrapped up with 5 minutes on the stair climber and a good stretch.  I didn't mention that my back hurt this morning, maybe 60% of a really bad day.  I think exercising really helped but we'll have to see how I feel tomorrow morning.

On to the really big news!  I asked a local tri group about ways to get a practice swim in before the sprint.  I don't think I'd do the tri if I couldn't practice at least once swimming in the bay in a wetsuit.  Anyway, a local trainer told me about a training day being put on by TriMore Fitness.  I finally got the details today and the thing is, it's this Saturday!  As in two days from today.  Of course I got my butt in gear - I arranged things with Miguel so I can do it (Thank you honey!) and I juggled my schedule so I can to Sports Basement tomorrow to rent a wetsuit.  I'm excited but super nervous.  They said all levels and newbies are welcome but I'm still scared.  I'm at least 30 pounds overweight, I'm barely in shape to do this thing and I'll be putting on a wetsuit and swimming in it (in the bay, which is connected to the ocean!) for the first time in my life...and with a bunch of (probably very fit) strangers. On top of all that I'm slow as molasses.  Eek!  I can't believe I'm doing this but I see no other way.

Here's the schedule for the day:
    9:30 - 9:45am  -  Registration and check-in.
    9:45 - 10:15am  -  Swim briefing & lecture, safety, sighting, skills and swim drills.
    10:30 - 11:15am  - Open water swim, swim of actual course.
    11:30 - 12pm  - Swim review, change for ride.
    12pm -  Bike briefing and lecture, Race strategy, etiquette, safety and tips.
    12 - 1:15 pm -  Bike Course Ride. (Road is open to cars)
    T-Run after ride, all participants - 15-30 minutes on own.
    1:45 - 2pm -  Q & A Triathletes return.
I feel like this is more nerve wracking then the actual sprint will be.  In any case it's done, I signed up for the training day and I'm renting a wetsuit.  This is getting very real.  This training day will be the deciding factor in registering for the sprint.

In the something's got to give department I had a brunch/wine tasting thing to attend on Sunday but I think I'm going to bow out.  I just can't see leaving the kids all day Saturday and then again on Sunday. I don't know, maybe I'll go late and leave early (for the brunch, not the training day).  Well, that's it for me.  I am skipping the gym tomorrow and counting this training day as a workout so you probably won't hear from me again until after it's over.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Balancing Exercise with Motherhood Sometimes Means a Late Evening Workout

I was tempted not to "count" Sunday as a workout day since I didn't go to the gym and didn't do any strength training.  Then I realized I need to acknowledge the work my body did even if it was outside of my routine and allow my body the rest/recovery that it needs.  So I went to the gym on Monday and yesterday (Tuesday) and taking today (Wed) off.  Then I'll go Thursday and Friday and take Saturday off.  As much as I like going to the gym on the weekend, it fits my schedule (and time with the husband and kids) better to take Saturday off.  Fitting in the gym with kids and a husband, a house to maintain, a full time job, mother's club, friends, etc, etc is an ever-changing prospect.

I had to go to the gym in the evening yesterday because my day was too full to go earlier.  The kids weren't in bed when I left and both of them were not happy I was leaving.  Marek started crying/whining, "I want to read books with mommmmmyyy," and "take me with youuuuu." Myra was following me around with her arms in the air for me to pick her up.  Talk about guilt.  Miguel grabbed some books and got Marek excited about reading with him.  And I sat Myra down with some toys and whispered in her ear, "I'm doing this for you too."  Is that how we parents convince ourselves that it's ok?  In any case, I believe it.  I believe that going to the gym, getting/staying fit, having more energy and less stress - well, it's important enough to miss the occasional bedtime, right?

So I get to the gym right at 8pm and spent a bit of time chatting with the gym staff while I filled out my workout log.  By the time I started my workout I was pressed for time.  I did 25 minutes on the bike, level 6 random, which is still a good challenge.  After that I started into my legs/shoulders routine with some core work mixed in.  I wrapped up with 5 minutes on the stair climber and then some quick stretching before wrapping up. 

On my way out I was chatting with one of the owners of the gym.  I asked about the gym staying open until 9:30pm.  That half-hour difference would allow me to put the kids to bed and then go to the gym on those days when I have to do an evening workout.  The staff mentioned that they've also had other requests for a slightly later closing time.  The owner told me they don't stay open later, in part, because it's not good for your body to exercise later in the evening.  I had to research this.  Was I harming myself by working out until 9pm? 

I found and read several articles and they all said essentially the same thing.  Here's a good summary:
"Many fitness instructors give bad advice when they tell you not to exercise within three hours before going to sleep. Several studies show that exercising vigorously before going to bed does not interfere with sleep. One study from the University of California at San Diego showed that three hours of vigorous pedaling at 70 percent of maximum oxygen uptake in very bright lights did not stop fit men from falling or staying asleep.
The old argument was that vigorous exercise causes your body to produce large amounts of its own stimulants, adrenalin and nor-adrenalin, that make your heart beat rapidly, raise body temperature and prevent you from feeling tired. Newer studies show that doesn't happen. We also know that exercise helps to prevent disease, prolong life and make you feel good. So it is better to exercise whenever it’s convenient for you, even if it's just before you go to bed."  Gabe Mirkin, MD
I highlighted that last sentence because it was the most important to me.  If gym-goers are told it's not good for their body to exercise at night it can be just another unnecessary barrier to regular exercise.  I know for me going at 8pm is sometimes the only option and I'm relieved to find it's not bad for my body.  And by the way, I slept great last night.

Monday, October 3, 2011

28.8 miles, 6 wineries, 2 flats and a whole lotta fun!

Before I go into my weekend fun I'll do a quick rundown of the gym.  Alright, truth be told, I can't remember anything.  All I know is I went 5 times last week and made sure Saturday was a day off so I could rest before my big ride on Sunday.  Saturday night we went to my mom's for dinner.  Let's just say my mom likes to serve dips.  The yummy kind, with lots of calories, that are downright irresistible!  Then there were the steaks and baked potato.  I called it carb loading and tried to let it go.

On Sunday I got up bright and early and loaded the car full of bikes and fellow riders.  We drove up to Healdsburg and promptly got ourselves in gear (no pun intended, well, kind of).  I was in front initially, which, though I'd never thought about it before, is nerve wracking.  Good thing we stopped around mile 3 for our first winery.  I'll spare you all the gory details and summarize - ride, taste, pick up lunch, ride, taste, eat lunch, ride, taste, ride, get a flat, ride, taste, ride, taste, ride, taste.  We heard the old, "isn't wine tasting on a bike a bad idea?"  #1 - no worse than in a car and #2 - you don't even get a chance to get drunk given all the riding between tastings.  Unless you were really trying of course.  As the day wore on I did more and more sharing and spitting.  I had to drive us home and I didn't want to drink all the calories I was burning.

This is us at our first winery, Simi.  I'd post some pictures from our last one but they are NSFW.  Kidding.  Here's one from Francis Ford Coppola's winery.

We look like pros don't we?  I had a great time, these ladies know how to have fun!  Only bummer was my clothes were almost too tight.  They were all purchased when I weighed 20-30 pounds less than I do now.  But I am certainly not going to go out and buy "fat" biking clothes so I went with it.  So on the last leg of the ride (ha! another pun) my thighs starting hurting.  I had that burning pain I got on that 50 mile ride I did when I was pregnant.  It's the kind that hurts even more after you stop.  Ouch!  But I took some ibuprofen when I got in the car and that was the end of it.

I felt fine today, just a bit tired.  For the first time I wanted to skip the gym.  I think it was partially the rain (man did we get lucky on the weather for our ride because a storm arrived today).  Anyway, I got to the gym and was tortured about how to do my run.  I can't tell you how much I hate the idea of 25 minutes on a treadmill but it was chilly and rainy outside.  I asked the Ian (gym guy/trainer) if I would freeze my butt off if I ran outside - "just do it" he tells me.  So I did and while there were chilly moments it was actually really refreshing most of the time.  It was mostly misty but it started to actually rain the last 5 minutes or so and I got wet.  I was imagining passerby to be thinking, "look at that super dedicated woman running in the rain."  I like projecting positive thoughts onto others, most especially when it comes to thoughts about yours truly.

I finally remembered to wear my Garmin.  I'm super pleased with the results.  I averaged 4.8 mph and ran 2.01 miles in 25 minutes.  Yay!  I was worried I might be running 4mph or even slower!  I'll take 4.8 any day of the week.  Why would I even worry about that anyway, who cares how fast I'm running?  Sometimes on my run my mind tries to think negative thoughts and I am working on training it not to do that.  Ever.  I am running for crying out loud!  The last thing I should be doing is criticizing myself.  After my run I did chest and triceps with core work and finished up with some nice stretches.  I left the gym feeling very glad that I resisted the urge to drive home after work.

Oh, I almost forgot.  My weight on Friday was 188.8, .2 pounds down.  I'll take it!  Night all.