Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year in Review

It's that time again, when I document my year-end stats in my training log to remind my mid-winter self that I have made progress and motivate myself for the year to come.

For the second year running I am very disappointed with the amount of weight I lost since this was supposed to be The Year of Concentrating on Weight Loss. But, no thanks to 12 weeks of bronchitis and various injuries, not to mention struggling with the latter half of a 10 month plateau, I am thankful I managed to lose any at all.

I'm also very happy I reached a couple of major milestones this year:
- 1/3 of the way to my goal weight
- 50 pounds lost
- ran my first 5K

I have a need for quantifiable goals and I love to obsess over numbers, learning what the subtle variations over time teach me about where I've come from, and where I'm going. But I must admit the most important milestones I reached this year were mental.

I learned to be patient and accepting of my physical limits so I can push them safely and successfully. I've learned to trust the training process and what it can do for me, which gave me the courage to choose bigger races in the coming year. Best of all, I learned to believe that I can actually achieve even the most outrageous goals I've ever dreamt of.

Original Start: 270
Started 2006: 232
Ended 2006: 220
Lost in 2005: 12
Total lost: 50

Here's hoping everyone achieves their goals in the year to come.

Race Results: GYGO New Year's Virtual Tri

I did the Super Sprint distance, partly because my gym was only open for a little while this morning and partly because my shoulder is still a serious problem (in an 'if my doctor doesn't say something new next week I'm asking for a referral' kind of way). Because of the nearly constant shoulder pain I haven't really swam in a couple of months. My overall time was slower than I wanted, but when I thought about it I realized I was pacing pretty close to the times at my last sprint race, and this was after a couple months of not swimming or biking.

The water was cool for my gym (low 80s) so I was happy, but it's been so long the water felt thick and heavy, like I was swimming through Jello. I took it easy and only felt a few twinges from the bad shoulder. Even though it's relatively slow, I wasn't unhappy with time because I haven't been able to swim in ages trying to let the shoulder heal. The only interesting thing that happened was my pony tail holder fell out towards the end, and on the last lap I spotted it in the deep end. I took a few extra seconds to dive down to retrieve it. For just those few seconds I felt like a kid, diving for stuff on the pool bottom.

Losing the ponytail meant I had to take an extra minute to comb out the tangled hair (yeah, I know, I should have worn a cap), but the real reason my T1 took an eternity was the age-old equation: spandex tri shorts + wet body = not happening. I debated wearing my tri-suit to avoid this issue, but I was already getting enough attention for doing this at my pokey little gym, didn't want to make myself any more conspicuous.

I'm still a bit saddle sore from riding the trainer two days ago, so I decided to go with a recumbant bike instead of the upright. I was disappointed with the final time for the 10K and I assume (hope!!) it's an issue with the gym's beaten up stationary bike. I was hauling ass at resistance Level 6 doing 90-95 RPM, but the time wasn't any better than at my last race, with 90 degree heat and 20-30 mph winds.

Easiest T2 ever - I walked about 10 feet from the bike to the treadmill, re-tied my shoes and got running!

This was officially my first triathlon where I ran the entire run. Sure, it was only a Super Sprint, but it's a big psychological step and I'm excited about it. And I totally negative-splitted the run, starting at 15:45 pace and with my HR holding pretty steady at 175, building to a 14:20 pace, then sprinting the last tenth mile at 12:00. I was also happy to see I was pacing pretty comfortably within just a few minutes of my 5K PR.

I had fun - even brought my obnoxious pink race towel to make it official - but it was lonely. Will be looking for a friend to do it next year.

Swim (400 yards) - 12:11
T1: 8:14
Bike (10K): 27:18
T2: 1:05
Run (2.5K): 23:18
Total: 1:12:05

Friday, December 29, 2006

Punctuated Equilibrium

I just took a giant leap forward in my triathlete evolution:

30 minutes on the trainer. Wearing a HR monitor. Working on my cadences. While watching a triathlon video.

Twelve months ago there wasn't anything anyone could have said to make me believe this day would come. And that I would be happy about it.

Progress Report

With your host, Kona the Goofy Shepherd Monster

Vocabulary Skills

In the 8 weeks since I came to my new family, I learned the meaning of:
Sit (it means bend my back legs until I see the cookie)
Down (it means get up and sniff their hand for the cookie)
Stay (it means they're going to let go of me and I can go look for a cookie)
OOW!! (it means their fingers were between me and the cookie)
Off (it means I can't eat off the counter when they're in the room)
Lay down! Go to sleep! (it means I must protect Mommy from the cats trying to steal her pillow)
GAAHH! Not the computer!! (it means the tennis ball needs a little more slobber before I drop it onto the warm shiny box on their lap)

Dietary Habits

My Mommy and Daddy are teaching me to eliminate unhealthy things from my diet so I can grow up a to be a big, strong boy. All they have to do is yell "Don't eat the..." and I know to cut back on whatever it is. Stuff they've taught me not to eat so far includes:
That other dog's head
Eeewww... what is that?!

Recent Accomplishments

I helped groom my sister - the crunchy slobber all over her head works just like gel!
I gave my Daddy a mild concussion all by myself!
I saved my Mommy money - I helped smash her teeth right into her lip so she'll never need to get that collagen stuff to make them puffy!
I helped Mommy by cleaning up the kitchen while they were having dinner - she didn't need that roast chicken anyway, right?
I helped Mommy with her diet - she didn't need to eat that plate of sausage for breakfast!
I helped Daddy practice using the new carpet cleaner AND helped him get in some cardio 10 minutes before company arrived for a party by demonstrating my muddy hole-digging prowess (that tennis ball wasn't going to bury itself!) and then making him chase me around the white carpet.
I helped the plants get enough sunlight! I'm sure they didn't want those blinds on the windows anyway!
I proved how strong I am by shredding - in less than two weeks - an industrial strength dog toy that not even all the dogs at a kennel could shred in a year!

It sure has been fun living with my new family and I learn lots of new stuff every day. I'm looking forward to next year - I keep hearing about this place called "obedience school." I don't know what it is, but it must be good because Mommy keeps talking about how she can't wait for it to start!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

My family's getting good at following the hyperlinks I send when they ask what I want for my birthday : )

And for my geeked-out viewing pleasure, I also go these DVDs:

Wildflower: The Legendary California Triathlon
What It Takes A documentary about four world-class triathletes' quest for greatness.

Now we're going shopping because, studly Runner that I am (hee hee - I couldn't even type that with a straight face) I need new running shoes.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Not Exactly Funny 'Ha Ha' But We Laughed Anyway

Sitting around the table after a belated Christmas dinner with what's left of my mom's family today, we were randomly chatting and the subject of birthdays came up (and not by me).

A minute or so into the topic you could see a light go in on my mom's face. She reached across the table to get my attention and says (Ooooh how I wish I was making this up):

"Hey, in case I forget, happy birthday"

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santa Must Be a Triathlete

Or maybe his elves read my blog : )

Minoura Mag 850D (Big thank you to Flatman for helping me not only figure out what (to tell Husband) to get, but for finding an insane deal on it too.)

I got the silly T1 gadget I wanted so bad!

Nobody was ever more content to get socks for Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Another Day, Another LSD

To spare the interweb the redundancy of another Siren's-slower-than-molasses-in-January LSD recap thought I'd share this little mash-up, of which I am particularly fond...
Grocery Store Wars

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Explicit SNL

*Warning - do not follow this link if you have a congenital humor defect*

Seemed too boring to talk about another LSD (although I will just say it ROCKS to have a friend call you 5 minutes before your workout to join you) so I thought I'd pass along this hilarious SNL skit that wasn't suitable for broadcast.

(Although, maybe it says something about me that I don't think it was at all inappropriate to be broadcast, since the lyrics are barely explicit and it's on very late at night.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Food Porn

I was looking for a Roquefort Pear Salad recipe and stumbled across this heavenly concoction...

Here's the crazy part - I have everything on hand to make it.

So later today, when Bears fans at other people's houses are eating Domino's and deep fried they-used-to-be-potatos, my guests will be enjoying Banana Nutella crepes after I serve the chicken, artichoke and roasted red pepper pizza.

While they're doing that, some of the girls and I will be making homemade pesto, rum balls (including an experiment with a Chocolate & Chambord version) and maybe some ginger snaps or molasses cookies.

(Now I need to grab lunch - goat cheese, pear and grilled chicken on a toasted baguette - before I hit the grocery store or I'll buy all kinds of crazy things.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

12 Days of Christmas - Triathlete Style

[I must credit Yo Mip for inspiring this today.]

On the first (etc, ad nauseum) week of the season my training gave to me…

12 Sweaty socks
11 Dropped chains
10 Muscle pulls
9 Tubes of Nuun
8 Funky sunburns
7 Tempo runs
6 LSDs
5 Hour Brick
4 Road rashes
3 Black nails
2 Shin splints

... and a finish medal in this sport of three

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cue The Music

'Cause I'm doin' the happy dance!

This was only my 4th dedicated LSD workout, and to my absolute shock there was a measurable improvement. Today I was pacing roughly 25 seconds per mile faster than I was 2 weeks ago at the same HR!!

This pace (15:45) was definitely pushing the envelope of how fast I can walk without serious discomfort, so after going that speed for long enough to convince myself it wasn't a fluke (about 10 minutes) I took y'all's advice and started playing with the incline. It worked like a charm, and even though I reduced my speed each time I increased the incline, once I adjusted to it after a minute or so I found my HR actually slowing down and I'd have to bump the pace back up. It was great!!

Just to remind Body what this is all about I jogged for 5 minutes at the end of my 40 minutes at a nearly freakin' perfect 140 HR (+/- 2-3 BPM). Even though I only increased enough to cross the walk/jog threshold - to a 15:00 pace - the ol' HR instantly jumped to 158, and then drifted until it stabilized at 168.

Here's the thing - I felt GREAT. Usually by minute 55 of a workout I'm ready to keel over, but I felt fantastic and had to talk myself into stopping (real world, work, all that jazz).

So - YAY!!! LSD works. I know I can't continue to expect crazy fast results like this indefinitely, but it sure was nice to get them this time to keep me going. I am a bit worried about reaching the walk/jog crossover speed (if this progress keeps up it'll only be another few weeks) and how that will feel. Since my HR always skyrockets by 30 or more BPM when my body shifts from walking to jogging I can't help thinking the transition won't be smooth.

But I can't think about that right now - I've got some dancin' to do.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

For Their Sake...

... I wish the world was different.

This is Abby and Sarah. They're the 15 month old daughters of our dear friends the McKendalls, whom we've known since college.

When Abby and Sarah were born we thought it was beyond wonderful that one twin looked like Sean and one twin looked like Cindy. I never thought too much about what it might mean for them, and their parents, as the girls got older. But it turns out this society is still far from colorblind and they are treated differently.

When I look at these little girls I don't see anything but the beautiful children of my dear friends. It bothered me to learn that they get so much attention for simply being who they are that they were even on the news.

Mental Challenge

My first LSD workout after my epiphany and enthusiastic decision to dedicate myself over the next several months to proper Zone 2 training was a major challenge.

I was very, very slow today and struggled to keep my HR 140-145. I did 35 min, pacing between 18:45 and 17:40, with the majority of the workout at 18:10. Last week I was able to pace in the low 16s with my easily at HR 135-140.

It was mentally tough and very frustrating but I stuck it out for 35 minutes (not counting all the warm-up and cool down time, of course, which made it closer to an hour). I'm not going to give up on it the first day no matter how crappy it was. I just keep telling myself it's all part of the process.

I didn't sleep much last night - maybe 4 hours. I don't function well with less than 8 or 9. I wonder if that has something to do with it? (I sure hope I get that heart rate training book I requested for Christmas!)

High on Ironman

Watched DVR Kona tonight. Loved every minute of it - it was great that this year they seemed to focus more than usual on the fact that ordinary people participate.

I was totally sucked in, cried for John Blais and cheered for Sister Madonna Buder. I barely noticed that it was two hours long and that my bedtime had long since passed. I got high on Ironman.

I must have gotten high... because there's no other explanation for the voices in my head.

The ones that kept asking why not me?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Somebody Hit Me With A Clue Stick

I had a revelation of epic proportions this weekend.

While I have been thrilled with the fact that I finally found my Zone 2 sweet spot so I can do proper LSD base training, I have been not so thrilled with the fact that it is a walking pace.

It has been, to be honest, a serious emotional letdown.

Because I've finally been doing all this running, ya know? And here I am, stuck walking. So the whiny little kid in my brain has been bitching and moaning that we're not going to make any real progress in running if we're not running.

Apparently my recent understanding of LSD concept wasn't enough of a clue. But this weekend I guess I got hit with a clue stick in my sleep, because I woke up and suddenly everything made sense and I'm not so sad about walking my LSD any more.

I finally GOT IT.

Right now any running at all - even a 14:30 plodding jog - sucks donkey balls. After just 1-2 miles it is harder than hell and keeping it up beyond that becomes a matter of sheer force of will. And this is what I've called success.

This whole time I've been thinking I need to do more of that - that horrible torturous forcing myself to go on - in order to make progress.

But I've been reading other tri blogs for over a year now, and I always wondered why my slow runs sounded like other people's crazy fast runs. This disconnect settled into the back of my brain and grew into a clue... which finally burst out and smacked me upside the head.

So, thank you thank you thank you. To everybody who has written about running. To everybody who has given me the - I now understand - extremely solid advice that I need to be walking right now. Seriously - thank you. I GET IT NOW.

I get that I won't make progress in my distance running by engaging in personal torture. I get that by sticking with LSD for a good while I will be able to engage in actual running, and not the miserable exercise in self-flagellation I've been doing. I get that this is what will not just make me achieve my goals for next year - it's what will ultimately make my wildest triathlon dreams come true.

Seriously - thanks guys. I don't think I'd have ever figured it out without your help.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dreaming Big

Last night, honest to god, I dreamt I was doing an Ironman. In my dream I came out of the water with 40 minutes to spare and I finished the bike with an hour to spare.

Note how even in my dreams I'm working in terms of beating the cutoffs? ; )

There was, of course, goofy dream nonsense like wandering around lost in a crowded building trying to find transition, but in general it was one of those vivid, lifelike dreams and I felt perfectly reasonable doing what I was doing.

Of course, Kona woke me up before I saw how the marathon ended.

We just got a DVR (can I get a hallelujah?!) and last night I had my first digitally recorded triathlon experience. Lifetime Fitness Triathlon on a 50-inch HDTV baby!! (Can I get an AAAAAMEN?!?!) So I'm thinkin' maybe watching Hunter Kemper and company racing right before I went to sleep had something to do with my crazy Iron dreams...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Interesting New Ouch

My quads ache along the outer edge of my legs. That's never happened before. It's a goofy place and I can't quite figure out how to stretch it.

I refrained from mentioning this interesting new muscle pain before now because I wasn't sure if it was from the first super-fast-walk LSD workout, or from... (can't believe I even have to admit this twice in like a month)... let's call it 'recently enthusiastic marital relations.'

But, I did the super-fast-walk LSD again today and sure enough my legs ache in the same place again tonight, so I'm ready to conclude that's the cause.

Anybody know how to stretch such a goofy spot?

Establishing a Routine

20 minutes. 16:15 - 15:45 pace. HR 135-140.

LSD. Yawn.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Proved It Like a Theorem

Today was my first day back to working out since the Cough From Hell set in two weeks ago. I decided since I needed to ease back anyway (still have a teeny cough) it was the perfect opportunity to test my theory about where to find my steady Zone 2 pace - the Elusive 140 HR.

I warmed up for 10 minutes and then gradually dialed up my speed until I got a steady 135 HR, which ended up being at at 3.7 mph (~16:15 mile). As I'd hoped/feared, it's not that I was doing the LSD wrong, it's that I'm so lacking in cardiac fitness at this stage that my steady Zone 2 HR is a fast walk.

And I also wasn't exaggerating when I whined about avoiding this pace for a reason - today confirmed my suspicion that I literally could not maintain that walking speed without a treadmill pushing me. It's an almost torturously fast walk, which was frustrating because the rest of me felt fantastic. I know I can only walk like when my legs (bad calves in particular) are feeling their best, so it's more incentive to keep up the stretching and massage therapy because I want to do proper base training.

But even with the little frustration that I currently have to walk for my LSD workouts I'm happy because I learned something concrete today, and I finally managed to nail 20 minutes kept perfectly between 135 and 140. I'm content to know that if I keep doing this the little frustration will disappear because I will get faster.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Snow Day

Highlights from Friday's adventures with blizzard conditions.

Kona's perplexed reaction to his first real snow encounter - but he only sat there for a second before he went crazy with joy.

I discovered the funniest possible way to make a Shepherd lose his mind: throwing snowballs. We did this for a whiiiile - and he never got tired of it.

"But why won't you come out and play with me?"

This gives you a pretty good idea of the quantity of snow we're talking about.

Ahhh... Midwestern cardio at its best. This took nearly 2 hours.

Friday, December 01, 2006

They Cost More Than a New Jersey

Yesterday I woke up, heard the weather report, got dressed and was literally at the shoe store 30 minutes before they opened (which just might be a sign of the apocalypse, because I've never beaten anyplace open in my life). I remember seeing these at the store a few weeks ago - walked right past them to ogle the sleek black leather spike heeled concoctions - and remember thinking that I haven't owned snow boots since I was a little girl and perhaps it was time to do something about that. My snow removal responsibilities (one of the things I agreed to take on when I started working from home) have made them a necessity, and today's snow day extravaganza is the ultimate case in point.

Best part - after selling the same boots to a couple of people before me the clerk asked "is it supposed to snow or something?"

I'd much rather have bought a new bike jersey. Or those cold weather, wind-proof running pants I've had my eye on. Or new running shoes, for that matter.

But as I look out my window at the knee-deep snow, thankful to have a job I can stay in for and dreading the moment it finally stops and I have to go wrestle with the mother of all freakin' snowblowers, I'm awfully glad I spent my gear money on these.

And for anyone who's curious about how we came to own the mother of all freakin' snowblowers... that's a story in itself.