Friday, October 05, 2007

Mental Exercises--Overcoming Negativity at Fiesta Island

If this week has been a whirlwind, this weekend is going to be a hurricane (final training week--long run Sat, followed by long bike Sun). It's all good though. Jason has come down with a cold, and since I'm feeling run down anyway, I'm treating him like a leper, poor guy. I've been furiously sticking Zicam nasal swabs up my nose every 3 hours, trying to ward off the oncoming cold but I can't help feel a little like I'm throwing salt over my shoulder to ward off bad luck.

Next week, I begin my taper. Part of me can't wait. The other part is nervous about doing less. I finally feel like my body is getting accustomed to 10-12 hour weeks. I'm recovering faster and able to handle a slightly heavier training load, slightly higher intensities, and even squeeze in weights, stretching, Yoga, acupuncture, massage, a smattering of a social life, and lots of sleep. It'll be hard to dial it down--25%, 50%, 75%.

After my bike and weights Tuesday and my awesome swim Wednesday morning, I met up with my tempo running group for a Wednesday evening run. Most of the runners were missing since they were traveling to Utah for the St. George Marathon. The few of us stragglers enjoyed a nice, 6-mile run on one of the Torrey Pines trails, finishing on Black's Beach. I got a great workout between the trail and beach running.

It was high tide, forcing us to run in deeper sand and play chicken with the surf as it threatened to sweep around our ankles. It feels like winter on the beach. The air is cooler, the water is rougher and the wind has picked up. We got to see the sunset at the end. That's 2 days in a row for me! Plus, the climb back up the mountain by the Glider Port was extra credit afterwards!

Yesterday, I missed my am swim. Damn! I opted to do weights again. That's the 2nd week in a row I got my 2 weights/week in. 2 for 2! I can really notice a difference too. I've gained 2 pounds while my body fat has dropped slightly, and my arm muscles are starting to pop. Plus, I feel stronger and faster on my runs. Gotta love weights.

Thursday evening, I trucked Torch over to Fiesta Island for a 16 mile time trial workout followed by a 4-mile brick run in Mission Bay. I normally ride over but with the sun setting so early now, I decided to just focus on 4-mile loops around the Island and weed out the commuting parts. Fiesta Island is perfect for time trials--no stop lights, very little traffic, high winds--great to break out the tri bike. I started out, preparing for the usual eastward headwind. Instead, I was presented with a tailwind (either that, or I have become Supergirl fast since I was clocking 25 mph).
As I swung around to the south side of the island, the headwind hit me. It was strong! On my first lap, I kept my intensity and was reduced to a humbling 14.7 mph. I hate wind. It's this strange, invisible entity that I can't size up, unlike hills. I used to hate hills too but living in San Diego has forced me to befriend them. I still can't climb fast but at least I can climb, and I embrace them. However, I'm still working on loving, or at least liking, the wind. Since I can't see it, it's this relentless, battering force that plays mind games with me. When will it end? How bad will it get? Why am I going so slow? It's torture!

I've been working on my mental toughness so I decided to use the headwind on Fiesta Island as a mental exercise. The wind hit me and internally, I groaned. "C'mon now," I told myself. "It's Fiesta. You knew there would be winds. It's good practice." The devil on my shoulder just stuck her tongue out at me.

I've come to realize it's uselss to argue, fight or even talk with the negative voices in my head. It's a waste of precious energey. I'm learning how to let the negative thoughts flow over me. I hear the thought, let it pass, and don't justify it with a response. It's like ignoring the whiny brat, begging for candy at the grocery store. Eventually, the whiny brat, realizing you're not giving her any attention, gives up. Instead, I focus on trying to clear my head of any thought whatsoever. Empty my mind. I figured this out during the La Jolla Rough Water Swim when negative thougts threatened to disarm me. When I stopped fighting with the negativity and told myself to deal with the thoughts later, I was able to clear my head and focus on the task at hand--swimming. This was a breakthrough workout, mentally. Ever since, I have been able to disarm the negative thoughts in a split second and consciously return to the zone.

As the wind pounded me, I cleared my head and then focused on my pedal stroke. I kept it even and rhythmic. I focused on my hip joint, moving in a circular rhythm, imagining the power flowing out of my hips. I let my mind become attuned to the rhythm--this makes it easier to stay in the zone. I felt as if the wind was pounding all around me but I was protected inside this shielded bubble where it couldn't touch me. Inside my bubble, I was spinning away.

Once I realized I could use the headwind as an exercise for mental toughness, I welcomed the grinding 2-mile stretch of wind on each lap. It became a challenge instead of a battle. Then, I had 2 miles of sweet, rewarding tailwind to recover. I did this 4x and felt like I had overcome my inner beast by the 4th lap. Plus, my total average mph was 18.2! This is much higher than my speed in the past so that was definitely icing on the cake!

I polished it off with a 40 minute brick run. I ran along the northeast side of Mission Bay from Fiesta Island to DeAnza Cove and back. It was fantastic. Even though it was nightfall, street lights marked the path, and the sidewalk was littered with other runners, walkers and cyclists so I never was alone. Plus, I love running in the dark--it's so surreal. I feel like my feet are floating over the ground. I felt very comfortable the whole way.

The Soma Half-Ironman is in less than 4 weeks! Can you believe it? I feel ready. Everything has gone so smoothly. I'm starting to get butterflies. I also can't believe the Ironman World Championships are next weekend!


Shawn said...

Fiesta Island sounds like a great place to ride. I have been reading alot about mental toughness along with decreasing the amount of negative thoughts during the day. Good luck with your Run and Bike this weekend.

Dying Water Buffalo said...

Very cool about your "challenge" to youself on fiesta island. You sound SO freaking ready to rock this thing...

oh, and this sentence, "I'm recovering faster and able to handle a slightly heavier training load, slightly higher intensities, and even squeeze in weights, stretching, Yoga, acupuncture, massage, a smattering of a social life, and lots of sleep" makes me wonder how you do it! You truly are supergirl :)

jameson said...

i'm still recomending the glutamine.. especially during your taper. It will promote recovery and boost your immune system.. exactly what you need right now!

Kate said...

You really are ready! That's a very impressive speed, especially given the wind. I feel exactly the same about wind as you do- unless it's gale force with gusts, when I start to realise it's THERE, like a hill.