Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ironman Wisconsin: 4th for 40!

I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin this week. Yes. I'm pinching myself. I signed up for another Ironman. Three wasn't enough. I thought I was donewith Ironmans. Shit, I thought I was done with triathlons. I'm pinching myself. I'm so excited. I'm so happy I signed up. It's been having a very motivational and healthy impact on my life. I'm starting to maintain some semblance of balance again, the first time since I've begun teaching. Feels so right.

It's been 7 years. I'm feeling really fit and healthy after training consistently for the last 16 weeks. I'm turning 40 in October. I would love to celebrate my 4th for 40 by showing myself I still got it. Why Wisconsin? I went to college there and haven't been back since 2006.

I crashed 3 weeks ago and recovered very quickly. I took 1 week off from training to let the swelling go down and the skin regrow. I was worried I had lost fitness; afterall, I felt stale and weak after a week of rest. Not to worry. I knew after a solid trainer ride, that I was back. A run, weights, and swim followed the next couple of days. 2 weeks after the fall, I did the Redemption Ride, except tackling Page Mill Road up before turning around and going down. It was a tough but rewarding and well-worth-it ride. I've been feeling stronger in my workouts since, almost as if I gained fitness in my week off.

Week's Laundry List of Workouts:
Monday's workout: HOT (91 degrees and muggy--it actually thundered afterwards) 5 mi run in Wonderlich. Up 2 miles, around the meadows 1 mile, then a fun downhill the last 2 miles. Quiet, shady, and wonderful.

Tuesday: Swim (2800 yds) --descending ladder (300 warm up, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100, 4x50, 500 cold down) in Burgess Pool. Times steady. Felt verrry tired at beginning of workout, refreshed at the end.

Wednesday: off--tired & busy

Thursday: 45 minutes trainer ride--Spinerval DVD ("No Slackers Allowed") surprisingly quick and effective. Followed by weights. I can't believe I eked out this workout after a 2 hour nap! I was soooo tired but I did it anyway. No regrets.

Friday: 5 mile run after work up Valparaiso. Pushed myself up hill by Sharon Park at halfway point. Felt quick and strong! Had a 90 min. massage afterwards!

Saturday: 8 mile HILLY run in Rancho San Antonio. Despite the crowds, I absolutely love Rancho. I can't believe I ran all the uphills! Remember, what goes up, must come down. Running in the shade downhill after hot, sweaty uphills is SO much fun! I needed water (it was in the low 80s). I'd like to go 10 miles with water next time.

At the end of the run, I was alone and enjoying the solace, having sought out the hillier, more exposed trails. Movement flickered to my right. I scoured the dry grassy field. Suddenly, I spotted a large animal, gracefully loping through the grass, his fur perfectly matching the tawny stalks. He looked half-dog/half-fox with a bushy tail, thin, muscular body, and large red ears. He was a very healthy, gorgeous coyote. I felt honored to be able to have spotted this shy fellow on such a busy day in the park.

On the final trail next to the parking lot, I saw a couple up ahead, pointing frantically to something that looked like a log on the trail. I realized it was a huge snake, 4-5 feet long. I stopped and approached cautiously before realizing it didn't have a rattle. He was thick and had dark chocolate criss crosses on his back, overlying a lighter tan/yellow color beneath, which matched his belly. Tiny specks of sepia brown flecked his sides as if they had been splashed on with clay. He was beautiful. He didn't like me studying him for he quickly slid off into the grass with impressive acceleration.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

My First Real Fall





I've been riding a road bike since 2003. The only time I've ever fallen was in the very beginning, when learning how to use clipless pedals. Those falls happened embarrassingly at stop lights, invariably with lots of people watching. After 3 or times of falling, I learned how to use clipless pedals with nothing but a bruised ego. I kept pedaling.

I'm not a super fast or strong cyclist. I admit--I got into cycling for triathlon. But I enjoy exploring the  countryside, and I love the workout. Whether it's a tri, road, or mountain bike, I love spinning my legs on days they need to rest from the run. Lately, I've felt ready to start challenging myself with some more hills. I'd heard about the hills in the area and decided to tackle Old La Honda Rd.

I took off after school on Pandora, my quick road bike. I headed up Sand Hill Road, which became Portola Valley Road. I spun my legs as the road gradually began rising upwards. Eventually, I turned right on Old La Honda Road. 4 miles up with switchbacks. I loved the cool trees and tall, dark redwoods. The temperature dropped and my ears popped. In some places, the pavement was so steep, I had to rise out of the saddle, throw my weight forward, and pedal rhythmically (mountain-bike style) to make it over the steepest part of the switchbacks. The challenge was real, but my fitness was there. I felt great. Then, the 4-miles was over.

I turned left on Skyline Blvd towards Page Mill Road. I passed Windy Hill, Coal Creek, Russian Ridge, and many other trails that need to be explored. Although cars zipped by on Skyline, the road was wide, and there was plenty of room. To the right, I could see the clouds hugging the horizon above the blue ocean. To the left, in the distance, I could see a glimpse of the Bay. A spectacular view.

I turned left at Page Mill Road. For the first 2 miles, I was still going uphill. It wasn't steep, but I had thought I would be enjoying a descent by now. Was this some sort of cruel joke. In my experience (and knowledge of physics), what goes up, must come down, especially when riding a loop, right?

Then, the descent began. My tired legs and butt enjoyed the break. I rose up out of the saddle and leaned into the drops, letting the bike hug the turns. I focused on moving the inside pedal up so as not to scrape the pavement. Scenic views of fields, trails, and oak groves lined the road. Hawks lazily swooped to the tops of trees. I felt relaxed and happy. I hadn't zipped down hills like this in a long time.

The descents became steeper and windier. I shifted my weight back and used the rear break more, slowing down before the turn. The slope eased, and I dropped forward and let the bike speed up again. A right-hand turn. I'm much more confident in right turns, being right-handed. I leaned into the turn to increase speed. The pavement was slick. It had just been repaved. I squeezed the back break as I leaned in the steepest part of the curve. It felt like the road had suddenly dropped out from under me. As if in a bad dream, Pandora fell away from me. I collided with the pavement beginning with my right thigh, hip, elbow, shoulder and right hand. My computer had read 24 mph just before I'd gone down. It happened so fast that I didn't have time to react. All I could think as the bike fell away from under me was, "Uh oh. This is going to be bad."

After I had slid to a stop, the first thing I could think of was, "Get out of the road." I pulled Pandora and myself off to the side of the road to catch my breath. Then, I realized I was on the narrowest part of the curve, and therefore, the most hidden. I looked around me and scrambled to the opposite side of the road on the shoulder. I sat in the dust. The bike seemed okay. I didn't seem to have hit my head or broken anything. My right hip was on fire, and I was dazed but miraculously okay. I was still 10 miles from the car on a remote road with little traffic. If I wanted help, I would have to wait at least 30 minutes. I knew I would get cold and potentially go into shock. Without thinking too much about it, I decided to see how it felt to ride the bike slowly, especially since most of the 10 miles was downhill (I had done all the hard, uphill work already).

I didn't have to pedal much at first. The road wound downhill like a spiral roller coaster. I breaker and shifted my weight back. I went very slowly. I started to feel shaky and I could't stop my feet from quivering violently against the bike frame. I focused on taking deep breaths and pedaled slowly. My hip screamed and my elbow hurt. The handlebars felt slick with sweat. I looked down. The right side was dripping with blood from my right hand. My knuckles had also kissed the road.

The slow pedaling helped move the warmth of my blood back into my extremities. I relaxed and stopped shaking. I became thirsty and drank lots of water. Somehow, the more I pedaled, the better I felt. I was exhausted but exhilarated when I made it back to the car. I was so relieved. I was alive. I hadn't broken anything. It could have been so much worse.
Right elbow, immediately after the fall. 
48 hours later.





Monday, August 21, 2017

Sandman Triathlon Race Report

I hadn't done a triathlon in 7 years. After changing jobs, life and laziness got in the way. I always felt like a part of me had died. I didn't intend to become flabby and out-of-shape. It just happened. Then, in May, I started working out regularly again. In July, I noticed my fitness had increased. I decided to get my mojo back. Afterall, I'm turning 40 in October, and it's kind of freaking me out. So I signed up for a couple of races, including the Sandman Sprint Triathlon, August 20th, 2017.

School started on Wednesday, August 17th 2017. I'm a high school biology and chemistry teacher. My head began to spin with the daily onslaught of activities that regularly boggle my mind--part of the job requirement. I began to think racing the first weekend of school was a bad idea. However, I'm also motivated to continue training while teaching this year. Balancing both seems like an essential plan for my long-term health.

Wednesday night, I spent 2 hours gluing on new tubular tires to my race wheels, which had been hanging in my garage for 7 years. I tried them out on Thursday. The brake pads rubbed and the gears slipped. I didn't have time for a tune-up. What had I gotten myself into? I knew my training was solid but familiar race nerves crawled up my throat. Why was I doing this to myself? Waking up early, plunging into a freezing-cold ocean, and pushing myself to the point of almost puking did not seem like a good way to spend a weekend.

Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:30 am, plenty of time before my 8:05 am start. Eating breakfast was the worst part of my whole day. This activity basically involved staring loathingly at small pieces of a cereal bar for 5 minutes before forcing a small chunk down my throat. It took 30 minutes to eat a banana and half a cereal bar. I simply couldn't get down any more.

Once I got to the race site, I calmed down immensely. Everything felt familiar, and I knew what to do. There was no more stir-crazy downtime. I set up my transition area, got body-marked, made a trip to the bathroom, and slid into my wetsuit. I walked to the beach and tested the water. I had heard people say the temperature was in the 50s but my toes told me low 60s. The surface was glassy and calm. The skies were overcast and the air was cool, but mild. Conditions couldn't have been more perfect. There was nothing more I could do to prepare. I was ready.


Before I knew it, I was lining up with the women. I hopped up and down to warm up. The horn blew, and we took off through the sand and plunged into the ocean. The waves were small and easy to navigate. I found myself, as usual, to the outside of the pack on the 3/4 mile swim. I was surprised at how familiar everything felt. I was calm and enjoying my first ocean swim in over a year. The swim went by quickly; there were several turns and buoys so there was lots to think about. I couldn't believe how relaxed I felt. It was just like riding a bike (pun intended).



When I ran up into T1, I felt hot, out of breath, and disoriented. My heart rate must have been through the roof. I took my time getting onto the bike and then clipped into Torch, my old, steady race steed. We took off into the hills of Aptos. The bike was scenic but hilly. Lots of racers were on road bikes (not to self for future Sandmans). The first few miles, I tried to spin, eat some GU, and get my heart rate down. It took me about 3 miles to warm up and settle into a sustainable pace. I felt more like I was on a fun bike ride then racing. This was fine by me. After all the races I have under my belt, I just want to enjoy myself, get a good workout, have fun, and maybe make some friends when I race this time around. Goal achieved. After many ups and downs through redwood trees, horse stables, and farms, the 13-mile bike ride quickly came to an end.

When I rolled into T2, the person next to me had dropped my bike in my spot. I ended up covered in grease and blood from her rear cassette by the time I had racked her bike, and then mine. Rude! But, soon enough, I had my running shoes and cap on, and I felt surprisingly springy for the run. After all, running has always been my favorite part. Then, I hit the sand. The entire 4-mile run was on the beach (hence the name Sandman). It was a tough beach run! Between the tide coming in, seaweed, uneven sand, and people running this way and that, it was more like an obstacle course. I focused on maintaining a steady, strong pace, as opposed to speedy. I leaped over 3 logs each way. My shoes were soaked. But I loved it. Not once did I feel bored or in pain. With so many things to weave in and around, there was plenty to keep my mind occupied. The miles flew by. Before I knew it, the finish line was in sight. The last stretch before the finish line involved deep sand. I forced myself through it, giving it all I had left. I had no sprint in me, only 1 gear. But I did it--I finished strong and felt great afterwards. I high-fived the woman who had rallied with me to the finish line, and headed over for bananas and water. I'm so excited to be racing again!


As I packed up to leave, I felt calm and at peace. I'm very excited to be back and racing again. Racing ensures that I will maintain my workout/training plan. Right before I started rolling out, I heard a gasp from the spectators. I humpback whale had just breached right off the beach. I watched in amazement as a pod of humpbacks surfaced, spouted, and frolicked peacefully in the exact spot where I had swam only a few hours ago. It felt like a good omen.










Friday, August 11, 2017

First Brick

I did my first brick in 7 years today. It was amazing. Bricks make me feel like a true triathlete, following a bike immediately by a run. Not only do they get your legs used to running off the bike, but for some reason, I actually like them. I take awhile to warm up, and I've found I actually run faster off the bike than running alone. Today was no exception.

The other day, I had to slog through an awful 3 mile run. My body was feeling under the weather, and I couldn't muster the strength to move my legs. My body felt like lead, and my stomach sloshed around nauseously. It felt very hot, even though the weather was a breezy 73 degrees (thanks Bay Area for perfect weather!). I wanted to quit. I wanted to beat myself up for running so slowly. But I made my mind go blank and just focused on getting it done. Not every workout is going to be stellar. What's important is that I still do them and not give up. Those tough, crappy workouts are the ones that will make me stronger on race day.

I was happy I pushed through. I took the next day off and have rebounded since. Today, I did a 21 mile bike, followed by a 3-mile run. I felt strong and fast. My average bike pace has increased by 2 mph since I've started, and I'm going faster up the rolling hills. Although this is not the first time at the rodeo, it is interesting to assess the difference in training since I've lost so much fitness. The gains seem to be coming back faster this time around. It helps not being injured or overtrained (probably for the first time in my life). I feel wiser and better at listening to my body. Let's hope I can maintain this new, more patient perspective.

The bike and run today were blissful freedom from my racing mind. School starts on Wednesday, and I've been caught up in back-to-school activities. It will only get worse. My goal this year is to maintain balance and be able to juggle a demanding teaching career with my training schedule. Even though I was tired from work and my mind was racing, as I biked down the road, my legs spun my mind into blankness. My to-do list which had been on repeat in my brain suddenly paused. I did not think of the upcoming race next weekend, nor the Ironman I want to do in a year. I did not even think of the run I had to do after the bike. I thought of nothing. My legs repeatedly revolved in a rhythmic manner, and my body became a well-oiled machine, quieting my anxious mind. As my mind went numb, I reached that blissful state I can only achieve for brief periods of time when I attempt to meditate. I relished in the freedom, taking my peaceful stat of mind with me into my run.

I finished the bike, grabbed my dog, and trotted off down the road. My legs continued to rock steadily in a high cadence. I thought of nothing except the space between each footfall and watched Juneau's tongue lolling out of the side of her mouth. The miles flew by. It was a wonderful workout, and I'm hoping sleep will come easily tonight.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Annual Fall

I took my annual fall this week. It seems I fall while running once a year. I was having a very pleasant, 7-mile road run with my dog, Juneau. A construction zone appeared ahead with traffic cones, funneling traffic into a narrow lane. The shoulder was being repaved. No room or signs for pedestrians. One of the construction workers was standing on the newly paved section. After a quick assessment, I decided to run where the construction worker was standing. If he could stand there, I could surely run through there, right? However, I did not see the "trip-wire" blindly hanging about 2 inches off the ground. Juneau gracefully hopped over it as my right toe hooked underneath of the string. I flew across the pavement, Superman style, landing on my knee, stomach, elbows, and hands. I grunted, heaved myself to my feet, and dusted myself off. The workers stared at me in disbelief.
"Are you alright?" one asked.
"Yeah," I replied in annoyance. I was not happy that falling was becoming so routine that I wasn't even phased. I brushed myself off and kept running, knowing a) my injuries seemed superficial and b) all inflammation and pain wouldn't begin until 30 minutes after my run finished. Besides, I still had 2 miles to go and running would get me home faster than walking.
I'm healing nicely and my injuries did not prevent me from further workouts. In addition to the knee wound, I have poison oak scabs all over both legs from 3 different trail runs/bikes. Apparently, I'm very sensitive, which is not a good recipe for living in Northern California where poison oak is rampant. Did you know that the itching lasts for 3 weeks?

I'm slowly clawing my way back onto the exercise wagon. I feel like I've reached the first tier of fitness. I'm back in shape again. I can swim 2500 yds, bike 30 miles, and run 7 miles. I feel healthy and ready to add more miles. Now, I want to start racing again, building endurance, and see where it takes me. I have to be careful not to bite off more than I can chew and end up inured or burnt out again. However, dreams of Ironmans and ultra marathons are dancing through my head. I have a long, long way to go. It's frustrating because I can see how much I've lost. It's hard to be patient and let my body absorb the workouts. However, I do best when I just enjoy the workouts, don't push, and let my body tell me when it's ready. I'm excited to see where this takes me.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Resurrected!

I've decided to breathe new life into this blog again to symbolize my return to endurance training. It's been a year since I posted. How did that happen? I guess life got in the way. Once the school year started in 2016-17, I dove into the classroom and didn't surface again until June.

Now that I've had the whole summer to work on myself, I've been doing lots of training and lots of reflection. I've realized that endurance sports are a strong part of my identity (as well as teaching). My goal this year is to somehow meld the two. I've worked hard to gain a modicum of fitness this summer, and I'm not going to give it up easily. I'm signing up for races and can't wait to give you some race reports! (See sidebar for list of races). Another goal I have is to not lose myself in the endurance training either, but to lead a more balanced life between work and play. I want to workout at a sustainable level. Burning out is not fun, and it's taken me years to recover.

I ran in Wunderlich Park today, a hilly, shady network of trails in the Woodside area. It's gorgeous, quiet, and full of redwoods. I felt like my complete self as I battled the hills, huffing and puffing, refusing to walk. It was exhilarating. For those 7 miles, I felt lost in my footfalls. I savored every minute of it. I'm excited to see where this journey will take me.

In addition, I'm turning 40 in October. I'm using it to motivate me. I'm excited to get my mojo back. I'm considering doing another Ironman. I didn't think I wanted to do that distance again, but after a few weeks of reflection, I've realized I have the hunger again. It would be a great way to get redemption. I can't think of a better birthday present for myself. Now the question is, which Ironman?  I would love to pick one in the summer when I'm not teaching. Any suggestions?

Monday, August 08, 2016

Sweating and Loving It

Got another bike ride in the books. Woke up at 5:45 am (which is what time I need to wake up for school starting in a week) and decided to get my workout over with. I was a bit nervous since it was 25 miles and included some hills.

I headed out from my home in San Jose. Unfortunately, I have to ride through 10 miles of gross urban traffic before getting to the scenic foothills. I live in the valley, apparently. Although my ride started out easy and flat, I somehow got stuck behind 2 garbage trucks. It was trash day in south San Jose. Not only did I have to swerve around haphazardly placed garbage cans but the smell of rotten food and other jetsam and flotsam made me extremely nauseous. I think the truck actually had decaying corpses in it; the smell was that bad. I felt the urge to vomit, and slowed, downshifted, and breathed deeply for several minutes until the feeling passed.

Finally, I reached Hicks Road and began riding through the foothills between Los Gatos and Almaden Quicksilver Park. Shade blanketed me and the morning dew still clung to the trees. I immediately felt a cool mist refreshing my skin, legs, and spirit. By the time the climbing began, I was ready. I found a steady but slow pace and settled in as I climbed. In the lowest gear, I struggled to get up the hills but knew I was strong enough to make it. I focused on each pedal stroke and my mind escaped in each pause and rest between rotation. There was nothing else except push....rest....push...rest. It was glorious, relaxing freedom. My skin shined with a thin coat of sweat, and I realized I felt the best I had felt in months. I always feel the most amazing when I work out. It's wonderful to be strong enough to finally enjoy each workout.

The rest of the ride was smooth. I zipped down the downhills and, back in town, the uphills felt like tiny bumps. I practiced pedaling uphill in a higher gear and practiced spinning at high rpms on the downs. My legs felt heavy with muscle and strong.

I have 1 week left until school begins. Now, I have the rest of the day to do whatever I want. Yay for morning workouts!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Building Fitness and Self-Improvement

Over the past 6 weeks, I have suddenly resumed working out regularly. I even signed sprint, and olympic triathlon! I have many transitions over the summer, and I feel my old self finally coming back.

I've been going through a lot lately. Seems like I say that a lot. My saving grace is that I've been working out consistently. With all the turmoil spinning around me and inside my head, my workouts are a constant, comforting lifeline that I can always rely on to lead me in the right direction. That's all I can say right now. It's purposely vague. For all the gory details, well, you will just have to wait for the book...

I'm starting to get a base back. It took 4 solid weeks of running 3x/week, suffering through each workout, taking walk breaks, and being humble, before my running legs came back. I'm still slow and have many miles to build but I can now run 4-6 miles at a steady pace comfortably without needing to stop. I can finally run for mental peace and active meditation again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Swimming has been coming back a little faster. I can swim a mile in the pool without stopping...slowly, but pretty close to my old base pace. I will be tested in two weeks when I have to swim 3/4 of a mile in the open ocean. The Pacific up here is so much colder, and the waves are much bigger. I will need to practice...

Biking has gone very well. I don't know what my pace is because I've purposely failed to replace the batteries in my cyclometer. I'm riding 25 miles on road and even throwing some mountain biking in. My training goals are just to have fun and resume fitness for mental health purposes right now. Since I suffered such a long burn-out, I want to come back into endurance training slowly and with a different (less competitive) focus this time around.

I definitely need new running shoes! My old Brooks Adrenaline model has been replaced with a completely different model that doesn't work with my orthotics. I did a trail run at Rancho San Antonio Park and got a little excited. I felt so good, that I accidentally ran 8 miles, besides the horrible pain in my toes when they pounded the toe box on the downhill. I ignored the pain because, well, that's what I do. My toenails have since been a gorgeous deep violet that I'm thinking of marketing as "Black-and-Blue". I painted the rest of my nails blue to match. No chipping and it lasts for weeks!

On my next run, I decided to take my favorite running partner, Juneau, along with me. She always smiles when we run and jogs when I talk walk breaks. She always pushes the pace. Whenever I'm suffering, I just look at her happy face, and it takes the pain away. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to the bushes that jutted out into the sidewalk, narrowing our path. With a car parked to my left and Juneau to my right, there was simply not enough room for both of us at the same time. She leaped left, directly under my knees, causing me to fall H.A.R.D. on the sidewalk. I sprained my right hand and tore a lot of skin off my right knee. Hey, at least I have cool battle scars to show off. 

one day later














I will continue to transform myself by being active every day (or almost every day--I'm going to listen to my body). Stay tuned for motivating updates!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

South Bay Roadie Ride

I am still working out regularly, suffering through each one. Today's workout was a road ride. Since my workouts have been slow and tedious, I wasn't expecting much. I decided to ride from the house to make it easy. Unfortunately, it takes 7 to 8 miles to get to somewhere cool from San Jo. Even though it's been hot, I felt good. Zipped down the road on Pandora and, surprisingly, quickly settled into a comfortable pace. Maybe walking the dogs around the block first had helped me warm up.

I couldn't believe how quickly the miles flew by. It was hot, and I am out of shape, yet this ride felt easy. Of course, I pulled a little trick on myself--I took the batteries out of my computer so I have no idea how fast I was going. That way, I would avoid negativity drills. I reached Hicks Road and began climbing. The climbing was hard, very hard. However, I was still able to settle in and find a pace.

Very soon, I was winding my way through Los Gatos and Saratoga. I felt great, and the tough hills were behind me. I was amused at a couple of male cyclists who hammered past me, only to pull off at the top to drink water as I passed them again, slow and steady. I wove Pandora through crowds of pedestrians, bikes, and cars around the Saratoga Village, avoiding a huge weekend festival. Soon, I was headed home again. I still can't believe how quickly the 22 miles went by. I feel great and even followed it up with some core and upper body weights.

I am pinching myself. This is the first workout that has felt fun and "easy", relatively speaking. It makes sense that it would be a bike ride and not a run (although running is my favorite). I can't underestimate the thousands of miles I put into the road bike years ago for my IM training. Is there such thing as muscle memory? I guess I'm going to find out. I'll keep you posted.





Thursday, July 14, 2016

Top blog of 2012? Just discovered this!

Triathlon TrainingI just discovered a website that nominated my blog as one of the best of 2012. I am so flattered. I really needed that!

http://www.triathlontrainingschedule.org/top-125-triathlon-blogs

Phoenix Rising

I'm coming back after being on the couch for 4 years. It's been 3 weeks of workouts--mostly 3-4 mile runs with some bikes and swims sprinkled in. No goals right now except to find a sustainable pace. I've decided to revive the blog since journaling about my workouts helped motivate me in the past. Read and enjoy if you want.

Last few runs have been a sufferfest. Not being able to eat or sleep doesn't help. Neither does the 90 degree San Jose weather. I've been escaping to the local redwoods for relief. It is somewhat cooler, and I love the solace of the trail but the hills are humbling. I basically walk up them, knowing as long as my heart rate is up, I'm getting the benefit. But it's hard to quiet the drill sergeant in my head. He yells nasty insults at me when I walk. Then, I get to the top of the climb. Turn around. And I get to run down the entire hill. During that time, there are moments of peaceful bliss that remind me I should keep doing this. It may take 6-8 weeks before it starts to feel easy. I remember this. But I keep on doing it, knowing every bad workout will pave the way to many future ecstatic ones.

The photo shows me running at Big Basin State Park. The Bay Area has so many fantastic trails! Time to start exploring!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Update

It's been over a year since I posted. Thought I'd drop by and give it an update. My life has been such a whirlwind. Over the last 5 years, I've been "remodeling". I guess you might even say that I turned 30 and went through a quarter-life crisis (I'm planning on living a long time). Five years later, I finally feel like I'm moving forward and am on the other side of the tunnel. I'm on the right "path" again, so-to-speak, and not just spinning my wheels. Or, to be literal, I got divorced, quit my job, went back to school, and changed careers. Next week, I'll be moving 500 miles north, from San Diego to the Bay Area (where I grew up). I'm very excited about moving close to my family again. I haven't been close (location-wise) since I was a teenager.

I decided to be a scientist when I was in 8th grade. That went really well until, at 30 years old, I discovered during my postdoctoral fellowship, that I wasn't excited about my career prospects. I loved doing science in the lab, but something was missing. After much soul-searching, I discovered that "something" was teaching. In 2008, I spent 6 months trying to find a job in biotech. Not only was the economy dismal, but I realized I was dreading potential job offers following each interview. That wasn't a good sign. St. Patrick's Day of 2010, my sister and I went to a psychic in the GasLamp Quarter downtown San Diego. It was the first time either one of us had been to a psychic. To be honest, I didn't think she was very good. However, she did say something that struck me: "Don't take a desk job. It will cause your soul to suffer. You need to be on your feet and moving around. You have a lot of energy. You like children. You should be a teacher." Hmmmm. A teacher? That didn't sound like a bad idea. To be honest, the idea had been growing in the back of my head since graduate school when my professor expressed concern at the amount of time I spent teaching the undergrad course I was TA'ing, rather than spending time in the lab. I had never been brave enough to take the plunge and make the switch. Now I was unemployed and dreading my job prospects. What did I have to lose?

I got my start as a math and science teacher at a small private school in Orange County. A year after not being able to pay my bills, I went back to school. I quit my job to attend the single subject (high school) teaching credential program at Cal. State Univ., San Marcos full-time. The program was extremely demanding and rigorous, requiring a full year of student teaching, instead of the typical 8 weeks (which was one of the reasons I joined the program). I recently earned my California state credential in biology and chemistry and just earned a job up near Palo Alto! I LOVE teaching. Every day is new and exciting. I LOVE the interactions with the students.

I am exuberant about my new life. I'm moving to the Bay Area next week with my 2 dogs and bf. School begins in August. I have SO much work to do. But, one of the things I want to do most is to begin working out regularly again. I let my fitness go completely. I would love to get it back again. It will help me stay healthy and happy during the school year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm Alive

Thought I'd drop in and let everyone know I'm still alive. Haven't been posting...and, sad to say, haven't been training either. :( My teaching job, on the other hand, has been fantastic, albeit all-consuming. I'm hoping I have more time to breathe so I can post more (and train more) soon. I have an interview for a teaching credential program next week. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Carlsbad Half Marathon Race Report



I decided to do the Carlsbad Half Marathon at the last minute this weekend. I wasn't going to do it. I hadn't trained enough. Plus, I'm signed up for the Wildhorse Half Marathon next weekend. Two in two weekends? It felt like too much. Then, I agreed to let a couple couch surf the night before the race at my place. Afterall, the start was within walking distance of my front door. I knew I wouldn't be able to control the jealousy of watching others benefit from my awesome location without doing it myself. Without much thought, I went and found a bib.

I was a little wary. I hadn't been training. The longest run I logged recently was 8 miles. Furthermore, my week leading up to the race had been a zero week, due to a very hectic work week. I just hoped I could make it to the finish line! I don't remember ever being this undertrained for a half marathon before.

Race morning, I was relieved I had procured a bib. Below my balcony on the street, I watched masses of runners park and file down the sidewalk to the start. I dragged myself out of bed only an hour before the start, knowing I wouldn't have to battle traffic, fight for a parking spot, walk miles to the start, or stand in a long port-a-potty line. Star treatment! It's AWESOME living so close to a primo race!

The gun went off, and I started running for my life. I was seeded in the 2nd wave, and the crowd of speedsters swept me along breathlessly for the first 2 miles. Finally, I slowed and settled into a relaxed pace. It was so hard not to let the adrenaline push me to the max. I reminded myself to take it easy, and just aim on finishing the run. Trying to push it on undertrained legs was too high of a risk for injury. Nonetheless, I was clicking off 9:30s. Not bad for someone who hasn't been doing much!

I found my sweet spot, the pace where I float along above my legs and enjoy the ride. I watched surfers catching the waves, calm and peaceful, juxtaposed the the busy mass of runners toiling down PCH. Crowds of spectators and bands lined the street, cheering, singing, yelling, and urging us on. There were tons of motivational signs (including my favorite, the one that simply read: "Motivational Sign"). I had forgotten how infectious the energy of a large race is, spectators and participants combined. Running the course almost felt like cheating; I simply allowed everyone's energy to fuel my strides.

My hips started hurting at mile 9. Then, a hot spot developed on the ball of my right foot. Then, my calves began to cramp. At first, I scoffed at the aches and pains. I had felt pain much worse many times before. My body knew better than to whine. It started as a mild protest, knowing my legs wouldn't get much sympathy for me, much less mercy. It was only when my stomach started to churn that I begrudgingly slowed. The pain increased and subsided in mysterious waves. It was bearable at slower paces. It was hard to convince myself not to settle into a restrained run. Then, the pacer with the 2:00 sign started to pass me, and a jolt of determination burst through me like a shockwave. Grimacing, I flailed my arms and legs wildly, coaxing them into a faster pace. I knew I couldn't keep it up much longer.

All of a sudden, I was flying down the final hill to the chute. How had I reached the end so quickly? I didn't even remember battling last, dreaded uphill before the finish. How had it snuck by me unnoticed? I sprinted down the hill, blocking the screaming pain in my calves out of my head desperately. I had nothing left when I reached the finish but I felt victorious. An incredible training run, fully supported right out my front door. And lots of motivation and some speed work to boot. Not a bad start to the 2012 race season!





Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Squeezing in a Swim

First off, I've begun officially doing Yoga again! Our school has a Yoga instructor so I asked if she would be willing to give me a private session after school Monday nights, and she said Yes! What a great way to finish a Monday! I had forgotten how wonderful Yoga feels for the whole body and mind.

This morning, I was supposed to wake up early to go for a swim. The plan was to wake up at 5 am, do my hour commute first, swim up in Mission Viejo (where I work), and then shower, change and go into work. I get home so late, and my planning for the next day takes so long, that I'm lucky to be in bed, lights out by 11:30 each night. I can skimp on sleep twice a week to wake up early but after that, I start to fall apart. There was no way I could get up when the alarm went off at 5. I readily traded the extra 1.5 hours of sleep and moved my workout to the evening.

All day, I was itching for my swim. As soon as my last class was out, I ran out the door and headed down the street to the Mission Viejo Rec Center (http://cityofmissionviejo.org/DepartmentPage.aspx?id=12474) for a swim. $8 to drop in, and the pool is open from 5 am until 8:45 pm. Nice hours! I got to the locker room and realize I had forgotten my cap, goggles, and suit. Doh! My heart sank. I dug around to the bottom of my bag and found a bikini and an old pair of goggles. I could make that work. I had a hard time tying up my hair so I didn't choke on it, and my goggles kept sliding down my head, cutting into my ears, but I made it work. I was going to swim, dammit!

It felt soooo good to jump into the water after a long day of work. So convenient too! Maybe it was the bikini, but the lifeguard, a cute, little teenage boy, kept chatting me up every time I rested on the wall. Questions like, "I haven't seen you here before. How often do you swim here?" It was kind of adoreable and definitely flattering but also a little creepy considering he was the same age as most of my students! I banged out 2400 very slow meters and spent 5 minutes in the hot tub with the jets massaging my sore lower back.

My New Years' resolutions continue to be a success. I love how it's all centered around 1 word: Balance. I've been drinking more water, eating in more, brown bagging lunch, and eating much more healthfully as a result too (not to mention saving a ton of moolah by not eating out). My body is thanking me. I have more energy, and my attitude is very positive. Go Me!

Today's workout:
200 free warm up
3x150 (50 breast-50 free-50 back)
500 free
3x200 free
5x100 free
100 cool down

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Workouts Continue

My workouts are continuing to go well. I've noticed that as the week progresses and the responsibilities of work builds and takes its toll, I get progressively more tired. I've planned Thursdays as my regular rest day to try to compensate for this (I get Fridays off).

Last week started out great with Tuesday kicking off with a 5:30 am run and Wednesday with a solid hour workout on the trainer. Thursday and Friday, I crashed and burned, completely exhausted. Then, I dislocated my jaw. Ugh. It's the 4th time (although it's been 7 years since the las time). I had a ton of oral surgeries when I was a kid. As a result of multiple jaw dislocations during surgery to make my mouth open wider, I now am at risk for dislocating my jaw simply by yawning. Every now and then, I forget to yawn "small" and dislocate it. My jaw gets locked open, i can't swallow, I can't talk, I can't eat or drink, and a visit to the ER is called for. This Friday evening was no different, unfortunately. The agonizing hour-long wait in the waiting room was the worst, as I held my head up by my hands, catching drool with a Kleenex. I used mental toughness drills to block out the pain, learned well from many grueling races. All that suffering comes in handy in day-to-life situations! The doctor and assistant used lots of pushing and pulling, heaving and grunting, and finally cracked it back into place. No more yawning for me!

Saturday evening, I groggily hit the trails (Lake Calaveras http://www.carlsbadca.gov/services/departments/parksandrec/trails/Pages/lake-calavera-trails.aspx) in east Carlsbad for a 4-mile run (2 loops around the lake), much to Travis' delight. I finished up with weights. What a great way to spend a Saturday evening!

Sunday, I enjoyed an awesome ~20 miles of mountain trails on a borrowed bike around Lake Hodges (http://www.sdrp.org/trails.htm). It had been awhile but I was pleased to see I retained all my skills and could still navigate over rocks, through creeks, and up and down hills. Fun!

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 5:15 am to squeeze in a run before work. I did not want to get up. My saving grace was that I had laid out my clothes the night before. It seemed a waste not to use them, and I knew I would feel down all day if I skipped my one chance at a workout. I slipped into my running clothes, gloves, headband, headlamp, and warm-up jacket, braving the dark, early morning cold. Travis didn't seem to mind at all, even though he didn't have the benefit of any warm-up clothes.

I ran briskly, trying to warm-up. Man, it was cold. I know I'm complaining about upper 40s but it always feels coldest right behind the sun rises. I welcomed the long, steep hill I had to toil up right out of the gate. There would be many to follow. Carlsbad is riddled with hills. I felt good, however. I refused to walk, no matter how slowly I jogged, I forced myself to run up each incline.

I reached the ocean and felt so good, I decided to extend my normal 4-miler. Travis has been running better and better. I can see his fitness improve with each of our runs. I hope it's a reflection of mine as well. I paused at the ocean, and turned off the ipod, listening to the deafening pulses of the waves crashing into the sand. In between each wave was a perfect, peaceful stillness with silence so loud, it was all I could hear. During those moments of silence, I could feel my hearbeat and breathing slow, and for those brief moments, my thoughts became still. Even though the stillness was brief, I lived so completely in those moments, that they stretched on endlessly, as Travis and I watched for the next crest of wave emerging from the stillness to repeat the cycle. The swollen full moon glowed brightly in the northern sky as the southeastern horizon became a golden pink with the impending sunrise. I stood there, watching the waves for only a minute or two, but during those precious minutes, I was reminded of why I drag myself out of bed in the cold and the darkness each morning to squeeze in my runs. Those runs are some of the few peaceful moments of my day where I am free of all worries.

I continued on my run, heading back home. It must be getting late; I better hurry if I want to make it to work on time, I reasoned. I turned down a residential street, which wound around, and then turned into another street, and then another. I could see the ocean coming towards me again. Wait a minute. I need to be going east, not west! Suddenly, I hit Tamarack again. I had just added on an extra mile and made a full circle. Not to mention another unnecessary, extra, steep hill. (Never take a road called "Skyline" unless you want to climb). I started booking it, much to Travis' dismay. Not only had I run an extra mile, but the only way back now was the long way home. Time to suck it up. Finally, we made it home, 7.6 miles later. Oops! How did a 4 mile run turn into almost 8? Poor Travis!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

New Year's Resolutions Underway!

Today is Day 4 of implementing my New Year's resolutions. So far, it's going swimmingly (no pun intended). I've been more balanced, eating healthier, and working out every day. I feel more organized. more positive, and more energetic, despite my sinus infection.

This morning, I was able to successfully wake up at 5:30 am, and I am NOT a morning person! Not to mention that I slept like crap because I can't breathe through my nose. Ugh. Travis was surprised when I woke up and asked, "Run?" Despite his sleepiness, he couldn't resist the three-letter word. His excitment helped me follow as he bounded out of bed. He watched impatiently as I put on my running clothes (I couldn't find my damn cold-weather running tights! Grrr.) and fumbled around for my headlamp. Ick. It was still dark out.

Undeterred, we headed out into the early morning blackness. I braced myself against the cold. Travis didn't seem to mind at all. He seemed to keep up a lot better with me this time. I guess dogs build fitness too. My stomach was churning from the antibiotics for my sinus infection but I ran on. I carefully listened to my body, however, slowing my pace and walking the tough hills, guilt-free. I was just happy to be out of bed and mustering a run, no matter how slowly. Around the turn-around point, the burning in my stomach turned to nausea, and I was forced to walk. I remained totally positive. I felt very alive, and my sinuses had completely opened up. I ran whenever I could and walked when I had to.

My early morning workout paved the way for a successful day. I felt chipper and energetic all day, much to the annoyance of my co-workers. Tomorrow's workout? Hopefully, a bike on the trainer. The bike is all hooked up, the DVD is in the player, and my clothes are laid out. No excuses!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Another Workout Done--Swimming

I've been off today. Some sort of sinus infection, blech. I started the Z-pack tonight. I was VERY tired today. However, it was also my last day of freedom. Tomorrow, I will resume my hectic teaching schedule. I didn't have a fever. I wondered if a workout would make me feel better. I had a swim and bike on the docket. The bike would have been fun but I knew I wasn't up for a double. I really needed to swim. It had been (gulp) 6 weeks. Oops.

I started by taking Travis for a brisk 30 minute walk. He appreciated it, at least. Normally, these walks help me loosen up and make it easier to transition to a workout afterwards. Today, I felt weak and winded. I knew I was under the weather. Yet, I really wanted to swim.

I headed down the street to the local pool. It had closed 5 minutes earlier. Blimey! Undeterred, I found another pool at the Y in Encinitas, using my trusty site "Find a Pool Anywhere in the World!" (http://www.swimmersguide.com/). It has yet to let me down.

After getting my bearings at the new pool, I found an empty lane and jumped in. Brrr! I hate that feeling when you first jump in, especially when you're sick! I took off sprinting, trying to warm up. Surprisingly, once I warmed up I settled into a relaxed pace and slowly but surely banged out 2300! I definitely feel better now that I swam. Great workout! Now, I just got to get better and FAST!

My Workout:
200 free warm-up
3x50 (back-free-breast)
Descending Ladder:
500
400
300
200
100
(50 breast ez in between)
Cool-down-100 choice

Tomorrow's Challenge: Will I be able to wake up at 5:30 to sneak in a pre-work run tomorrow? I REALLY, REALLY hope so! Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Working Out on a Low-Energy Day

My plan was to go on a mellow bike ride this morning, down the coast. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, typical of San Diego. After breakfast and coffee, I committed the cardinal sin--I sat on the sofa to "relax" for 10 minutes. This turned into an hour. Which led to a nap. I woke up even more tired than before. Had lunch. Took another nap. It was one of my "low-energy" days. I wasn't depressed, just tired. I'm susceptible to chronic fatigue so I'm always taking notes of the patterns of these days, trying to determine the secret formula to prevent them. It's not as simple as it seems. (Yes, my thyroid and iron and wbc levels are all normal). However, I've learned to be patient on these days, as opposed to getting frustrated at how little I can accomplish.

After waking up for the 3rd time today, and enjoying my 3rd cup of coffee, I glanced at my "To Do" list. Surprisingly, I wasn't that far off. I realized I could at least try and work out. Feeling a slight peak in energy after a bowl of cereal and another cup of coffee, I knew this was my window. I hooked my bike up on the trainer, popped in a Spinerval DVD and hopped on. I was able to bang out 60 minutes on the trainer and follow it up with solid session of weights. I am SUPER proud of myself. I was able to work out despite myself! Plus, I'm hoping that the more and more I get used to motivating myself on low-energy days, the more the high energy days will be there.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Moving Forward, Moving On--Bring on 2012!

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's. I've been a little envious reading some of your 2011 re-caps, filled with joyous race reports and smiling photos. I don't really have anything of note to mention for 2011. To be honest, it was a crappy year. Unemployment, failed relationships, and depression is what comes to mind, along with being laid up for a big chunk due to a lame foot injury. So I'm not going to do a re-cap because it's not something I want to focus on. The best parts of 2011? I got an awesome job the week of my birthday as a math/science high school teacher. Happy Birthday to me! And I learned how to mountain bike--even some of the scary, technical stuff. So I'm thankful for that.

One of the benefits to a crappy year ending is that it fills me with hope for a positive change. I'm looking forward to a much happier 2012. So this New Year couldn't come at a better time. I love the infectious motivation available to prod me off the couch and into action. I love my new job and am enjoying this new time in my life to focus on myself for the first time. I'm getting more comfortable in my skin and more excited about pursuing my personal goals. I have an Ironman to look forward to! I am currently working on my training plan for the year and am more excited than I have been in a long time.

As I said in my last post, my New Year's Resolution for 2012 can be encompassed in one word: Balance. This includes pacing myself, not working too hard, eating healthy, sleeping healthy, exercising regularly, and being better about self-monitoring my energy levels so I don't drain myself out (a bad habit I have). I've been using the past few days to implement my new plan. Little by little, it's going very well. It's amazing how little changes can make big differences in my mood!

These past two weeks, I've been on break. I've been so depleted from my new job that the break was a mixed blessing. I loved the opportunity to rest and relax but it came at the cost of depression. I was just too exhausted. Plus the holidays always make me a little blue. I always feel pressured to feel "happy" and ironically, this triggers a bad mood. However, the past few days have seen a change in the mood barometer, and things are looking up. I'm feeling better and better and able to be more pro-active about self-care.

I went for a run this morning with Travis. It was the first time in a week. My exercise has been so inconsistent, which I'm sure has contributed to my bad mood. My feet were heavy and awkward, my left foot continuously banging on my right ankle. I was slow, my breathing was labored, and I kept having to stop and wait for Travis to sniff and pee every 10 feet or so. The flabby, unused muscles in my legs ached and burned. Despite these discomforts, I felt something I had forgotten; something I hadn't felt in awhile: peace. My mind became still and my vision softened; I was exactly at the right place at the right time. I was living in the moment. And yet again, no matter how many times I forget, I remember why I run. Running is an act of meditation.