Monday, February 26, 2007

A Perfect Week! (complete update)

I had a very busy and most-awesome week but Blogger was a poop-head and disabled my account! Finally, I can get back on and update my blog. I've had major blog-withdrawal.

Weekly Recap:
Monday--great pool swim
Tuesday--"off" day. did weights and had an awesome session, probably b/c I wasn't tired from all the other workouts of the day
Wed--brick workout
Thursday--pool swim (back with the masters class) and evening spin
Friday--10k evening run
Saturday--long-ass bike
Sunday--12 mile run, 1 mile ocean swim, and weights
All in all--A perfect week! When does that ever happen? I completed all my workouts and logged over 14 hours (not including weights), with 3 runs (22 miles), 3 bikes (120 miles), and 3 swims (4 miles). Whew!

Looks like I'm back on track. Here are the stats so far:

Weekly Highlights:

Riding with Strangers:
This cartoon just cracked me up. It also reminded me of my brick workout on Wednesday. I headed up the coast for a zippy 30 mile ride. I felt great. The weather was brisk and had a nippy breeze, coaxing me to go fast. On the way back, a fit looking guy on a nice bike intersected paths with me at one of the lights. He commented on how chilly it was (mid-50s--I know; boo-hoo). Then, he proceeded to draft off me for the next 10 miles. I think most people would be a bit miffed to have a stranger draft off them for that long but I was completely flattered. I'm fast enough to offer someone a draft? This guy isn't totally embarrassed to be drafting off a chick (lots of cyclists out there have big-'ole, inflated, sexist egos)? I was happy to offer a draft. Not only that, but it pushed me to my limits. I went all out to see if I could challenge him and ended up challenging myself (and giving myself a great workout). Then, we hit some hills, and as I predicted, I slowed considerably (trying not to let on how much I was gasping for air). I pulled to the right, and he chugged on ahead. Oh, well. It was nice while it lasted. I wish I could have caught a draft off him but I was spent. Thank you, stranger, for a great workout! (I was able to finish the hills strong and get in a strong, 4-mile run afterwards to boot.)

Who are You?
Thursday was my first day back with the masters swim program after almost a month of swimming solo. It was embarrassing to show up again after missing so many workouts but I figured it was better than not showing up ever again, right? The coach came over to me and asked, "Who are you?" I had to re-introduce myself. To be fair, he had been out for awhile b/c of hernia surgery and I'd been swimming with a lot of subs before my cold so it wasn't just my lack of being there that explained his lapse of memory. It was a tough workout:
Warm-Up: 50 breast--50 free--50 back x3
16x50s in sets of 4: 1--50x4 free; 2--25-back-25-freex4; 3--25-breast-25-freex4; 4--25-fly-25-freex4
aerobic main set (base pace):
1x250 free--4x50 stroke (back)
2x250 free--3x50 stroke (breast)
3x250 free--2x50 stroke (25 kick--25 breastx2)
1x250 free (fast)--1x50 stroke (back)
total of 3500 meters!
Not only that, I felt good. I got the whole workout done with 5 minutes to spare! When has that ever happened?

I always have my best workouts on Friday afternoons. I think I'm glad the week is coming to an end. I ran a zippy 10k loop around where I work. It was refreshing.

Monster Bike Ride:
We headed out on what was supposed to be a 50-60 mile ride. It was Jason's first time back on the bike after being sick. Plus, we rode inland, which is notorious for being extremely hilly. It ended up being the bike ride from hell. Starting out, it was nice. We rode up the coast and enjoyed the ocean view before heading inland. We rode up past Rancho Santa Fe, where the streets are paved with private country clubs, golf courses, and gorgeous stables. I saw many arenas with riders out on their mounts, practicing over the fences. Made my heart ache. It had just rained so everything was unusually green. Lots of trees (also unusual for this area) and there was water in the creeks. It was so beautiful. Even more inland, we hit desert where there was nothing but desolate rock and dirt. This is where we rode up, up, and more up. We rode past Lake Hodges, a strange, unnatural, man-made lake, sitting oddly out of place in the middle of the desert.

When we got to Escondido, things took a turn for the worse, and Jason promptly got a flat. Sigh. I helped him change it. Meanwhile, the most adoreable little chihuahua kept jumping up and down in his backyard to peek over the fence. I saw this cute little white head bobbing up and down. It made me laugh. We fixed the flat and got back on the road, only to make a wrong turn. Consulted the map, retraced our steps, and got back on the right route. Okay. 3 extra miles there. Then, at another road, we made another wrong turn and went right instead of left. A very friendly cyclist helped us reroute our way back to the coast.

When we finally reached the coast again, Jason was spent. I actually felt a little better because I knew where we were. My fatigue had been mainly mental. Jason pulled a leg muscle at mile 50 and got dizzy (bonked) at mile 60. I dropped him off at the Starbucks in Del Mar with cash for coffee and a danish and continued home, racing to beat the sunset. I had been on the bike for over 5 hours and out for over 6. Once home, I got in the truck and went back to retrieve Jason and his bike. I think I broke him. I guess I thought he was Superman. I thought b/c he was a guy, he didn't need to workout as much to keep in shape. Guess I was wrong. That said, on Sunday, his leg felt better and he went for a short run pain-free. So I'm not all wrong about the Superman-thing.

That was a tough bike ride. Very tough. If I can do that, I can do anything. Here's the route, if anyone's interested:

Very Busy Sunday:

I wasn't sure how I would do on Sunday after Saturday. But I love my weekly running group, and I really wanted to see my friends. So I showed up for a run at Lake Miramar, one of my favorite places to run (see pic above). There's an easy paved path that makes up a nice out-and-back 8 mile total run. Plus, I always see lots of hummingbirds. I felt great, surprisingly. Did the 8 miles and turned back to add on an extra 4 for a total of 12, managing about 9-min/mile pace (faster for me). I couldn't believe how well I did.

After a luxurious and relaxing breakfast, I headed for La Jolla Cove for a much-needed ocean swim. Enjoyed the cute seals at Children's Pool and saw lots of baby seals. Can we say adoreable? Heading out, I felt good. Not too cold with my wetsuit, thermal cap, and booties in the 56 degree water. Current was with me, and although there were, oddly enough, no buoys (where did they go?), I used the Scripps Pier to sight and swam 20 minutes out before turning around. Coming back was much harder. I was fighting a couple of cross currents, which always seems to happen at the cove. Plus, the clouds rolled in and the surf got rougher. Great. I swam into a huge forest of kelp beds and had to keep stopping to negotiate around them, while fighting the big swells. Made me uber-seasick. Fighting the naseau, I somehow made it back to shore. Once on land, I felt instantly better but started shivering uncontrollably after peeling off my wetsuit. Dried off, put on dry clothes and staggered back to my car. Somehow got home, where I promptly fell into a deep slumber for 3 hours (before even taking a shower--ick).

Once I got up, I felt 100% better. Showered, ate, and completely cleaned our apartment. Treated the rug for mites and did a thorough shampooing. Then, lifted some weights before retiring to bed. It's so nice to have a super-clean apartment.

I'm pretty happy with my achievements for the week. Hope everyone else had awesome weeks too!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Weekly Stats

Blogger is being poopy so I'm including my latest training data in this post. You can see the 2 weeks of R&R from being sick (and life getting in the way) pretty clearly. But you can also see 2 solid weeks following. I'm not quite back to where I was but almost. And since I have 2 more weeks of training before taper, it should work out to just about perfect.

Swimming in the Rain

I feel better today. Sometimes, I just need a little time and recovery to put some perspective on a bad ride. It was pretty funny though. I brought Bluebell into the bike shop today to have her gears tweaked, and she was pretty dirty from the ride yesterday. I don't remember how she got that way but it looked as if I took her off-road. I normally give her a good grooming before putting her back in the stall after a hard ride but wasn't in the mood yesterday. The guys at the shop poked fun at me a little. However, I'm really excited about having her shift perfectly. It's been quite a work in progress after changing to compact cranks.

I calculated last weeks' hours and actually didn't come out too badly. 9 hours (and 10 last week)--not too shabby, eh? 85 miles on the bike, 20 miles running, and a 2000 meter time trial. Not perfect, but not too shabby. I'm feeling better about showing up ready on race day. I have a few more weeks to put in some good mileage until taper. Plus, I've been working hard up until now. Swimming has gotten easier, running is solid, and the bike, well, the bike will come back. I know it. I can't wait to get back on this week and put in some good mileage.

It rained all day today! Very weird. Torrential downpours. And it was super hot and dry all weekend. Quite a change. I could feel the wind blowing from the east from the hot, dry Santa Ana's as I road out on Sunday. Then, when I headed back (before I got lost and called Jason), I could feel the winds shift, temperature drop, and blow from the west. Headwind both ways. Nice.

Anyway, the rain foiled my ocean swimming plans for today. So I jumped in the pool. It felt very weird to swim in the rain. At times, it was coming down hard and felt like little rocks pelting my back. Being immersed in the water was very soothing. I had a good, solid swim and have definitely gotten faster, which makes it so much fun. I did my own thing:
500 meter free, warm-up, easy--focus on form
50 breast--active recovery
250x3: 50m pull--50m kick (no board)--50m drill--50m golf (swim as few strokes across as you can)--50m back (stroke)
I was pretty happy. Using my new and improved technique, I shaved strokes off my lengths. I used to be a solid 20 but I actually got it down to a solid 17, 15 if I really stretched it!
main set: 200x4 (descend every 50m)
100x4--descend every set
I timed myself for fun. First set was supposed to be slightly easy. 1:57. Hmm, maybe I pushed too hard, considering easy used to be 2:05-2:10? Second set: 1:50. Wow! Third and fourth sets: 1:47. Is this for real? That's almost 15 seconds shaved off. And consistent. This is getting fun.
Again, I timed. First set: 0:57. Second set 0:50. Third and fourth 0:47. Hmmm. Not only shaving off time but extremely consistent. I'm happy.
Total distance: 2500m
I'm feeling pretty good in the water lately.
Trying really hard to get all caught up in lab and at home and with training. Making progress. Also trying not to get Jason's cold. Taking Zicam. Washing my hands. Taking multivitamins. Getting lots of sleep. Drinking lots of green and chamomile tea. Keeping fingers crossed. I won't know for sure until Thursday.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bad Bike Ride

I'm so frustrated right now. The end of the week didn't as I had hoped. I did my long run on Saturday instead of Sunday and the long bike on Sunday. This would have been fine, except I was in a terrible mood Friday evening and unable to coax myself onto the trainer or into the pool. If I could have just gone to the pool... Because of that, I only got in 1 swim this week. Ugh. I know I'm not supposed to whine over missed workouts but I can't help it. I was unable to get up early and make it to my masters workouts, and I'm really pissed at myself. I was really behind on the biking as well, also because of not being able to get up early. I had planned on going Friday afternoon but a meeting got moved from a.m. to p.m., started late, and went long, destroying my plans, which is why you should always get the workout in early. Otherwise, things pop up and sabotage the best-intended plans. I just feel totally overwhelmed with everything going on right now. I can't get it all done.

Saturday, I decided to bike 15 miles to our group's run start. We did a 10 mile run, and I biked home for a total of 30 miles. This plan worked out well. I felt great on both bikes and the run, despite the heat (mid-80s!).

Sunday--time for my long bike. I had a terrible time finding a group to go with. There were millions of rides on Saturday but the only rides I could find on Sunday were planning on 80 miles of hills at 20 mph, or 30 miles at a social pace of 14 mph. Why am I stuck in limbo? Are you telling me there are no riders who want to ride 50-60 miles at 15 mph? I know I'm slow but this is getting ridiculous. Normally, Jason would go with me but he has a terrible virus and is stuck in bed with a fever and involuntary fits of severe coughing. (I just can't wait to get sick again and have my fitness plans completely smashed to bits....another reason why I'm grumpy.) I found a route to try and posted an e-mail to the tri club, hoping someone might show up. However, I posted last night so I knew there would probably be no one this morning waiting for me. There wasn't.

I went solo. I went on a new route in new areas I had never gone on before. How else am I going to try new things? It would have been fine too, except I didn't feel great. Very sluggish. Plus, there was a strong headwind and lots of long, steep hills. Lots of them. I actually felt better on the climbs then on the flats. At least then I had an excuse for going so slowly! The route was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful parks and canyons and very nice residential areas. Wildlife reserves, lakes, farms, horses, and deserts. Kids playing soccer and flying kites. A horse whinnying in the distance. I'm so mad I felt so crappy! I couldn't enjoy it. At mile 40, I was supposed to stay on the on-ramp on the interstate for 1/4 of a mile, and I freaked out and went straight instead. I HATE doing that, even though it's allowed for certain portions of the interstates around here. It wasn't clear to me that bikes were allowed on the shoulder at that point, and being alone, I hoped I was supposed to go over the interstate and stay on the road I was on. Wrong. Few miles down the road, I figured out where I was and probably could have planned an alternate route home but I was done. Mentally (and physically) I had just had it. I don't know if it was the run before or the hills or being alone or if I'm out of shape on the bike but I was done. I was creeping along at 12 mph and knew I still had a long way to go. I guess I mentally bonked.

I called Jason, and he dragged himself out of bed and picked me up. I feel utterly ashamed and embarrassed. Like I failed. To be honest, I feel exhausted too. Now that I'm home, I'm realizing I don't feel that great. I have a headache and am really tired. I think I might be coming down with Jason's bug, and I don't know how I can still stay on track if I get sick again. I'm mad I didn't get into the ocean this weekend with it being so beautiful outside. I'm mad I didn't finish the bike. I'm worried about how I'll do on race day if I feel so crappy right now. Really worried.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Update: Oscar, life, training, Tour de Palm Springs, and swimming breakthrough

Phew! It's been awhile. I've had a ton of crazy personal stuff going. But everything is beginning to settle down now and get back to normal...for me anyway.

He is recovering very well from his molar abcess and is now eating on his own and very rambunctious. He's extremely playful and feisty. I'm still giving him penicillin shots every other day and applying hot compresses to the site of the abcess but he's in no pain, has gained all his weight back (and some), and seems back to his playful, ole' grumpy self. The vet has had to drain fluid from the site twice (about 1 week apart). The first time was 5 days post-surgery, and a lot of pus was still present. The 2nd time was just fluid, indicating that the infection was being defeated. Knock on wood, but his 3rd recheck is tomorrow and there is no sign of swelling on his neck.
Other bunny notes:
On the other hand, the vet discovered Oscar has mites (invisible little bugs that make them itch but are harmless to humans). I realized that Babs and Taz must have it too since they're all free-roaming, and the mites probably come from the rug. That would explain the bald patches on Babs' neck and shoulders. I feel bad for neglecting this for so long. I had no idea. At first, I called the exterminator but then realized how dangerous that might be for the buns. Sure, it would get rid of the mites too but it also might get rid of the bunnies, and that would defeat the whole purpose. After consulting with some pet- and bunny-conscious friends as well as the vet, I have decided to take a more do-it-yourself approach. This weekend, with the help of a friend's rug shampooer, we are going to be using some extreme elbow grease. Since I'm having a get-together Saturday night for Jason's birthday (yeah!), I'm using that as incentive for getting it all done by then. It's my deadline.

After many lulls and false starts, my life is going to get a lot busier. My projects are really starting to pick up, and I'm starting to get pretty excited about how they're going to develop. That's all I'm going to say right now. I can do a "science talk" later.

I've left the best for last. Despite everything going on right now, I've actually been pretty good. Afterall, California 70.3 is less than 6 weeks away!!! I ended up having 2 weeks of R&R between getting sick and Oscar. I was still able to eke out some runs and even participate in an open-water swim clinic during this time. Last week was my first week back on the full training schedule. I was actually surprised at how good I felt. I don't feel too tired or sore after my workouts. If anything, I feel pretty good and very well rested. Maybe those 2 weeks were a good thing. My running didn't suffer at all since I was able to keep up with it during R&R. My swimming suffered a little at first but I actually had a break-through the other day so now I'm ahead. My biking suffered the most since it's the hardest for me to get out and do, and that's what I did the least during R&R. But it's quickly coming back.

The biggest detriment from the 2 weeks of R&R I've noticed is the inability to get up in the morning again. I'm not a morning person, and it took everything I had in me to get up early before. I miss my morning workouts! So I've been doing a late afternoon workout and a mid-evening workout, which is much more tiring. I definitely would like to try and work on getting up early again. The one thing I don't miss is being able to stay up until 10 p.m. without falling asleep. Afterall, Survivor is back on, and it doesn't come on until 10! Is it so wrong to get on the trainer at 9 pm, instead of 7 am? That said, I miss riding on the road during the week. C'mon daylight savings!
My plan was to have last week be a mini-prep week to get myself back into the swing of things. This week and the next were to be Base/Build weeks to get my endurance back to where it was and build a little speed and strength on top, if I can manage. The following week, I will bring it down to a "Prep/Maintenance" week, instead of an R&R. Basically, I'll do more than I would in an R&R week but less than I would in a full Base week. Finally, the last week before taper, I'm going to really push it, using this as my hardest week before going into taper. Then, I'll ramp everything down for the 3 week taper and focus on short, high-intensity speed workouts while maintaining my swimming (my weakest link and the least stressful on the body). I think I will be able to get to the start line on race day fully prepared.

I've been feeling really good on my mid-week runs and a little tired on my long runs on Sunday. But the long runs are always after a full week of workouts and a killer long bike on Saturday, which probably explains it. Last night, we went out for a very dark 10K run, and I had a blast. I felt very zippy. It was fun to fly around.
Last week, both my mid-week rides were on the trainer, and it just about killed me. It's SO BORING! I always ride a lot slower on the trainer than I do outdoors. Anyone else experienced this? I was freaking out about my lack of mileage when we drove up to Palm Springs last Friday night for the Tour de Palm Springs on Saturday. We rode up to the start line for the 56 mile ride. I was a bit nervous since I hadn't been on the road in 2 weeks. It was a fantastic ride. The course was flat to downhill and very easy. It was sunny and in the low 80s. We rode by desert and resorts with gorgeous gardens and immaculate lawns. The bike lanes had a golf cart graphic in addition to the bicycle one--only in Palm Springs. My only complaint was that there were just too many cyclists--over 8,000. Even though there were all different rides and start times, all the riders ended up convening at the aid stations and at different points on the course. Since it was not a closed course, this made for lots of angry traffic and dangerous situations. Cyclists of all abilities, paces, and comfort levels on every type of bike imaginable, all trying to share the road. It was very harrowing at times. However, all in all, it was a good confidence builder. Since I had to hold back a lot because I couldn't find a good pocket to ride in, I didn't feel tired or sore by the end, yet I was still able to manage a 16 mph pace. Not bad, not bad at all.
Only bad part was that afterwards, I got separated from Jason, couldn't find the car, and didn't have my cell phone with me. I wandered around downtown Palm Springs barefoot (bike shoes aren't comfortable to walk in) for about an hour and a half before some man took pity on me and let me borrow his cell phone. After that, I was tired.
I've been really bad about missing my masters swim classes. I haven't been able to make the 7:30 am swims. I have to admit, I really enjoy planning my own workout and swimming with a whole lane to myself in the evenings. I can really focus and get in the zone. After reading up on my stroke in the latest issue of Triathlete, I headed to the pool to work on my form. Usually, I incorporate drills into every workout but I haven't seen much improvement. I think this has been because I just want to get through the drills as opposed to really internalizing what my form and stroke are like.
Last time, I decided to do some long, slow sets and really focus on my form without doing a specific drill. I swam a few laps thinking about keeping my head down, eyes focused on the bottom, taking as few breaths as possible. Next few laps, I thought about turning my head without moving my head so that it pivoted next to my shoulders, instead of snaking about. Then, I thought about keeping on my side for as long as possible and turning to both sides fully for each stroke. Next, I tried to stretch my stroke out for as long as possible, reaching as far as I could, like I was trying to reach for something off a shelf. I thought about taking as few strokes as possible to get across the pool to help enforce this.
At this point, my left shoulder began to ache. Normally, to relieve this, I drop my elbows and find the least path of resistance through the water. This relieves the stress on my shoulder but also propels me forward the least as well. I had read about keeping your elbows up through the pull part of the stroke so I realized dropping my elbows wasn't the answer. Instead, I decided to leave my other, leading arm outstretched in the water for longer as the left arm made the catch into the water, really focusing on front quadrant swimming. I figured by relying on the rest of my body to help propel myself through the water, I would relieve the stress on my shoulder. As I made the catch with the right arm outstretched, I felt my entire core and lats engage as I corkscrewed to the other side in one swoop, as if my body were a board. This allowed my entire body to help with the pull part of the stroke, making it feel easy and efficient. It felt as if I was climbing up a ladder. The pain in my shoulder was gone immediately. When I would slip out of it, I went back to basics: head down, reach out, front quadrant, core stiff like a board, elbows out and up. All of a sudden, I hit the wall. I shaved 2 strokes off each length. It felt easy. I timed the next 100m and was able to remove 10 seconds without even thinking about it. A breakthrough! I can't wait to hit the pool again. When is the last time that happened?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Poor Oscar-Bear

(picture several months ago; before surgery)

This week has been very stressful, frustrating, and unproductive. My lingering cold has sapped all my energy, and I am completely out of my routine. I made a feeble attempt to do some workouts this week. Let's just say it didn't go well. I feel chronically tired and completely sapped of energy. I know it's the cold, and I am getting better on the whole. I am just freaking out about how much fitness I have lost. Basically, I've taken 2 weeks of R&R, and I have 8 weeks until Race Day. I'm hoping to ease back into this weekend with some good, short, confidence-building workouts.

On Monday night, I noticed Oscar has a huge lump on the left side of his jaw. Upon further examination, it seemed to be emanating from the bone. Great. I took him to the vet Tuesday morning, and, as I had feared, it was a molar abcess. I have no idea how he remained symptom-free all this time, and worse, I have no idea how long this infection has been festering without me noticing. I feel so negligent. He went in for surgery to have the abcess removed Tuesday afternoon. They tried to pull the suspect molar without much success (it came out in pieces). Apparently, he had a hole in the bone of his jaw, and the infection was inside the bone. All I can say is, OW! They made an incision on the side of his neck and took out the abcess (without going into more detail, I've been told by the vet techs that it was quite disgusting). They packed antibiotic-soaked beads into the hole to help fight the infection, and inserted a tube into his jaw (coming out his throat) to help drain the rest (yes--very gross). I picked him up on Tuesday night. He was groggy and his neck is shaved, covered in stitches, and has a tube poking out of it. He looks a little like a big bunny with a skinny turkey neck; poor guy.

Since then, I've been tending to him constantly. Wednesday, he spent the day huddled up in his box while his tube drained, not eating, drinking, playing, or looking at all comfortable. He's in a lot of pain as his jaw heals and can't eat very well. He's on pain meds, stomach meds, and antibiotics (which I have to inject daily for 3 weeks--yuck). Plus, I'm force-feeding him with a syringe, which is just awful and very messy. The only thing that seems to comfort him are the hot compresses I apply to his drain, which I do for 20 minutes, twice a day. He curls up on the hot washcloth and presses down on top of it, closes his eyes, and purrs. I took him back to the vet on Thursday so they could give him fluids and meds for his tummy (when bunnies don't eat, their digestive system shuts down, which further keeps them from eating). He finally seemed to come around a little Thursday night when he started eating lettuce with enthusiasm. Today, he seems even more perky. He came out of his box and spent the day on his blanket. His drain hasn't been leaking "stuff" today, which makes him feel a lot better and makes me hope that maybe his infection is clearing. He goes in again tomorrow to have the drain taken out. I can't wait. I know that thing has been making him feel really icky.

I'm very hopeful that he will heal. I think he will continue to improve from here on out. I just pray that the antibiotics work and the infection goes away so that the abcess doesn't re-develop in the future. I don't want to have to put him through this again.

Needless to say, between my being sick and Oscar being sick, it's been a very stressful week.