Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gummi Bears and Fig Newtons

I've had so much going on and am so exhausted, I don't know where to start. One thing I'm realizing is that the long workouts not only wipe me out but also make me very emotional and cranky. And of course, Jason and I are training together. Great combo. No one warned us about this part of it. All in all, I'm feeling very happy with keeping up with the key workouts and being able to recover in fairly decent time.

Instead of doing my usual laundry list of workouts each day, I've decided to jump to the good stuff--the weekend. First, Friday was a crazy day. I had wanted to bike in the morning and swim in the evening. I was feeling behind in workouts and in lab (typical for the holidays). I had this rushed, panicky feeling all day, which I hate. Plus, I beat myself up for not waking up earlier. I was just tired. We had a party to go to that night, and I really was looking foward to it. By the time I got home from lab, I decided it was more important to have fun at the party and rest up for tomorrow's workouts rather than rush through a swim and feel rushed. Sometimes, you have to prioritize. It's so easy for me to skimp on the socializing and become an exercise-a-holic. I took a deep breath and realized the healthy thing to do was to let it go and have fun. And I did.

This is something I'm learning. How to let go. To not "make-up" missed workouts. To simply move on and start fresh. And to balance a husband with work, training, and a social life. Something always has to give. And that's...okay.

Saturday was an epic workout day. We commenced our crazy workout weekend with a morning preview of the half-ironman bike course we will be riding in March. Because most of it is on the marine base (Camp Pendleton), much of it is closed to civilians. However, I was able to ride the first 20 miles of it (the easy part--apparently, it gets much hillier beyond the "forbidden" zone).

We started out in a group, and I immediately got dropped, as usual. Unfortunately, I kind of pushed it to try and hang on; not a good idea, especially when you're riding 45 miles (long for me). Personally, I think my 23 mph was nothing to sneeze at. Later, we were doomed to discover we had been aided by a strong tailwind.

I had decided to play with nutrition on this ride, knowing it would be more taxing than usual. I had tried Gu on previous rides and couldn't get the stuff down. It tastes like snot to me. I just can't do it. On this ride, I had come armed with my 2 secret weapons: Fat-free Fig Newtons and Gummi Bears. They tasted soooo good and went down very easily. I have the queen of finicky stomachs so if I can handle it, I predict most anyone can. I'm so used to being starved by the end of my bike rides, it was refreshing to feel energized and satiated throughout the ride for once. Eureka! I have stumbled on something here.

The group waited at mile 15 (I hate that--I don't want to be a burden), and I was able to ride with the pack for a bit. I ended up getting dropped going downhill--what's up with that? Why is it that I have to pedal furiously going downhill to keep up while everyone else coasts? I find this phenomenon bewildering and frustrating. I can climb but can't descend? WTF?

To make matters worse, I downshifted to the small ring on one of the climbs and immediately dropped the chain, completely losing the group. Damn! Ever since I changed to compact cranks, this keeps happening to me. I've taken it to the shop once, and they tried to re-align it but I've had it. That's it. I'm getting a new derailer and fixing this cursed chain-dropping thing for good. I have no attack on the hills anymore. Instead, I have pleading. I have to shift up, slow my pedaling, and pray as I carefully, slowly, delicately down-shift to the small ring. Then, I have no momentum for the rest (which is the majority) of the climb. Climbing has become a real pain in the ass, which is no good for around here--it's all hills.

We turned around at mile 25, and I was in a real mood at this point. We had lost the group and were unsure of where they had gone and uncomfortable with finding our way back. There was a very strong headwind (explaining our lightning-quick speed going out), and the temperature had dropped, making it very uncomfortable. I was pissed about my chain, and I had dropped one of my arm warmers earlier in the ride. Plus, my legs felt heavy as I slowed my cadence, pushing a higher gear than I wanted because I was now afraid to downshift for fear of another dropped chain. I was downright cranky. As I eeked out 10 mph, I wondered how I would suffer for another 20 miles.

Suddenly, 2 members of our group appeared. One of them had gotten a flat so they had been held back. I was transformed. I felt elated. I didn't have to worry about not knowing where I was, and I could ride in a pack again (small pack). The 4 of us chatted now and again as we battled the wind. I was suddenly doing 15-17 mph, no problem. The mental state of mind is an amazing beast. I even found my arm warmer, close to the end of the ride, waving in a ditch off the side of the road.

I made it back to the car, 45 miles and 2:45 later, tired but happy. I had done it. And survived. We put on our running shoes and then did a 30 minute run. Yup. This was a brick workout. I was so tired but I knew I could run for 30 minutes. And it actually felt good. I was just happy not to be biking into a headwind anymore. After the first half-mile, my legs warmed up, and I fell into a rhythm.

We spent the rest of the day eating and sleeping, although I did manage to change litterboxes and go out with some friends to a movie (and eat sushi afterwards--the best post-workout recovery meal).

Sunday: As if Saturday wasn't enough, we did our long run with our running group Sunday morning. It was raining when I woke up. I coaxed myself out of bed and into the shower and into my running clothes, and eventually, we were out the door. By the time we reached the meeting spot, the sun had come out and it had stopped raining and was in the mid-50s--perfect running weather. That's San Diego for you. Never cancel something due to rain around here. Just wait 10 minutes. We did a 9 mile run. I was worried about the distance after Saturday but at the turn-around point, I felt really good. My legs didn't hurt, and I actually rallied the group up the hill.

When I first saw the hill, I leaned into Jason and said, "I'm going to take it slow." He just nodded at me. I pushed "Play" on my shuffle and one of my "Power" songs (Eminem) came on--a secret weapon. I felt a surge of energy and decided I was tired of being at the back of the pack. I came up behind the group, shouting, "Attack!" and passed them. The guys behind them rallied with me, and I stubbornly pushed ahead. One of them, a Navy Seal, waited me out. When my song ended 3/4 of the way up the hill, I died. He yelled, "Passing!" and took off with Jason. I didn't see the 2 of them again until the end. Oh, well. It was a lot of fun.

We all went out to breakfast afterwards. Because of the rain, we had to cancel our ocean swim (too much bacteria in the run-off--ewww) so we dragged ourselves to the pool. We had a really good, easy swim.

The rest of the afternoon has been eating and sleeping. It was a tough weekend!

Lessons Learned:
1. You can't make-up missed workouts. Start fresh. Do what you can. Focus on your key workouts.
2. Prioritize. Sometimes, it's okay to miss workouts to lead a balanced life.
3. Training is just as much about building mental toughness as it is physical. Learn to stay positive b/c that fuels the body.
4. Eating and sleeping is key to a fast recovery.
5. Trust your body. You can do it if you build up to it.

Total Weekly Stats:
Swim: 2x; 4000m
Bike: 2x; 67 mi
Run: 3x; 18 mi
Weights: 1x
Total time: 9.25 h
Overall: missed 1 swim, 1 weights, and 1 bike but got in all the key workouts despite it being a hectic week. My body feels stronger.


Cookie Monster said...

Figs and gummies are great for long rides. Actually, I found that anything "new" tends to be good. I find that around mile 60 I need more protine so recently I tried a McDonalds cheeseburger. Best thing ever yet normally you would't catch me dead at McDonalds.

Cliff said...

Keep those legs fresh for those key workouts are crucial.

...don't feel bad about the bike ride. The strong wind will make u tough. On race day, u will see the consquence. I use to die on the hills too. I still die..Just die not as much :0

Lance Notstrong said...

Experiment with your food on the bike. In time you might be surprised what you can keep down. I've eaten pizza on the bike before :-) And I can't believe your group dropped you.....all alone!!!

bunnygirl said...

It's always a good day when you find a new food that works for you.

And you're signed up for a tri that has a "forbidden zone" on the course? Cool! :-)

jameson said...

solid. solid stuff. You are defintely going to be ready for the 70.3 miles.... lets just hope it's not too cold.

RunBubbaRun said...

Fig newtons, the popular choice in my bento box. Try cliff bloks, pretty good stuff as well on the bike. Great lessons learned during training. Miss a workout, forget about it, balance is also inportant especially for these long training sessions. Great work.

JeffM said...

Heck of a workout weekend. I hate wind, it's worse than hills because at least a hill ends. You're going to be ready come March!

qcmier said...

Glad you found some foods that work for you. I still get crap when I show up for a ride with donuts. I'd do a t-bone steak on my bike rides if I could.