Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dealing with IT band syndrome

Whenever I push it, my knees complain one way or the other. I saw a physical therapist way back when to get diagnosed. Turns out, I'm slightly knock-kneed and have weak hip abductors. This time around, my left knee is showing all the signs and symptoms of IT band syndrome.

"What is the iliotibial band?
Iliotibial band syndrome is due to inflammation of the iliotibial band, a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the leg. The iliotibial band begins at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee joint. The band functions in coordination with several of the thigh muscles to provide stability to the outside of the knee joint. "
"What is iliotibial band syndrome?
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) occurs when there is irritation to this band of fibrous tissue. The irritation usually occurs over the outside of the knee joint, at the lateral epicondyle--the end of the femur (thigh) bone. The iliotibial band crosses bone and muscle at this point; between these structures is a bursa which should facilitate a smooth gliding motion.
However, when inflamed, the iliotibial band does not glide easily, and pain associated with movement is the result. "

"What Are the Symptoms of Iliotibial Band Syndrome and How Is It Diagnosed? A person with this syndrome feels an ache or burning sensation at the side of the knee during activity. Pain may be localized at the side of the knee or radiate up the side of the thigh. A person may also feel a snap when the knee is bent and then straightened. Swelling is usually absent and knee motion is normal."

"Causes: Anything that causes the leg to bend inwards, stretching the ITB against the femur overpronation (feet rotate too far inward on impact) tightness of the ITB muscle lack of stretching of the ITB incorrect or worn shoes excessive hill running (especially downhills) and running on cambered surfaces overtraining." from


  • IT band runs from hip to knee joint along outer thigh.
  • Pain often occurs on outside of knee. It can also occur in the outer hip. Guess what? This is exactly what's happening with me! In addition, pain can be sharp (um, me), and is worse going downhill (me again).
  • Causes--think biomechanics here. Wide hips or narrow knees (common in women) are often the cause. Weak quads, tight hamstrings, or weak abductors (outer hip muscles) vs. strong adductors (inner thighs) are also contributers.

And the big question? How to fix it!

  • After controlling the initial injury (RICE--rest, ice, compression, and well as good ole' Advil), I am trying to get the injury to heal and prevent it from coming back.
  • Rest--Unfortunately, it takes time to heal. After a serious strain, it can a minimum of 6 weeks for the tissue to heal. It's important not to push through the pain. Every time I do, I reinjure the tissue and have to start all over. Right now, I'm laying off the running, which is the cause of the pain.
  • Test the waters...after the first week, I felt well enough to try and run on the treadmill every so often (2x/week) to reassess. The treadmill offers cushioning the outside road cannot. I can also control the incline and the speed. The second it begins to hurt, I can stop, and I don't have to walk all the way home. Plus, it allows me to see how I'm doing. For instance, last week I couldn't run 5 minutes without it hurting. This week, I can go about 15-20 minutes.
  • Cross-train. Perfect for us triathletes. While letting it heal, use it as an opportunity to train your limiters. We never have enough time to train. I'm using this opportunity to log more miles on the trainer and spend more time on swimming. These things don't hurt so I'm cleared for these activities.
  • Make sure you have the right running shoe. See a running specialist, physical therapist, orthopedist, or all of the above. Do you pronate? Need orthotics? In my case, I caused the injury by running on concrete in the wrong shoes. Plus, I went too far, too fast. Sigh.
  • Find the root of the problem. I saw a great physical therapist who specialized in running injuries back in St. Louis over a year ago when I first encountered my "knee" problem. Now, I know my biomechanics (weak abductors and tight hamstrings).
  • Train accordingly. Watch your form when you run and try to engage your glutes and abductors more. Hit the weight room. Well, I'll have to wait and heal first. I really need to strengthen my quads and outer hips. However, I can't do lunges, squats, or leg extensions right now b/c it puts excessive strain on my knee. However, my outer hips and glutes have no excuse. In addition, b/c my hamstrings are tight, and my adductors are dominant, I never, never do strengthening exercises for these muscles.
  • Stretch. Focus on IT band and hamstring stretches especially.
  • See a massage therapist for a deep tissue massage. Ouch in a good way.
  • When it heals, increase training slowly and back off when it begins to hurt, before injuring it.

Unfortunately, I'll always have to watch my knees and hips. However, it's a good indicator. If I'm pushing it too hard, my knees are the first to let me know I need to back off. Plus, I can use the down-time to catch up on other things with life and train in other areas that need it (e.g. swimming!).

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Falling Apart

I've determined my knee is messed up b/c my IT band is tight. More on that later...

B/c my knees have bugged me in the past, I'm not too worried. I know it's a minor injury, and I know exactly how to manage it. However, it seems I pulled something else too. After my knee forced me off the treadmill, I decided to hit the weights. I started doing lat pull downs and ab exercises but had to cut it short. Why? Oh, it just hurts to stretch up, and use my obliques....and breathe in really deeply. It seems I've pulled an intercostal muscle (muscles b/tw ribs) on my left side. Jeez. I had to really watch the weight lifting. And the Yoga. And it hurt to stretch out on that side while sleeping. Or roll over. What the f..k? Not fair. How am I going to swim? I think I pulled it while sea kayaking. Maybe while paddling. Maybe when I fell out belly first on some rocks and a big, flopping fish. I don't know. I don't really care. I just want my body to let me be active now that my mind is ready!!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

smushy Taz face

this is Tazzer-Schmazzer-Mookie Bear. He is turning 7 in June. He jumped into my sister's lap to try and steal her cereal when she was visiting. Plus, he tried to climb into bed with her. He's king of the castle, not afraid of anything, and such a sweetheart that the worst he can do is lick you when he gets upset.

Yoga for Triathletes

My knee still bugged me tonight after only 1.5 miles on the treadmill, no matter what I did. Guess I'm officially injured. It SUCKS big-ass monkey balls!!! I know exactly what I did, which is almost more frustrating. Now, time to wait and heal and watch everything slide backwards. Anyway, I was able to do a quality weight session, followed by some Yoga. I included the poses I love below. I especially love Pigeon Pose right now b/c it's great for stretching both hip flexors and IT bands, which are verrrry tight on me. It's relaxing too. I also included some basic websites on Yoga for triathletes (title link), runners, and beginners (below). Some people use it for strength and stretching but I like to focus on it for stretching and then hit the weight room for strength. But different things work for different people. Here, I'm applying it for stretching only, which is great for injury prevention. Ideally, I would do Yoga for 20 minutes a day first thing when I wake up or before I go to bed, but most probably, I'll get it in 3x/week, which is better than nothing. What's your favorite pose?

Monday, March 27, 2006

I'm Back

Jeez, time flies. I can't believe how hectic things have been. Here's a recap of last week:

Tuesday 3/21: knee still bothering me; was able to have a terrific 40 min swim
Wednesday 3/22: biked on the trainer for 60 min; felt great
Thursday 3/23: ran outside 4 miles; knee bothered me a bit; biked 40 min; did Yoga before bed
(My sister came Thursday night. We had such a blast. She just left today (Mon). I was sad to see her go. We played a lot on the beach! The weather was awesome.)
Friday 3/24: My sister and I lifted weights. I tried to run on the treadmill but my knee started really bothering me so I cut it short. Ugh. (Erin did the ellipitical for 20 min. Good for her!)
Saturday 3/25: Jason, Erin, and I went sea kayaking in La Jolla Cove. It was way-awesome. I got a great upper body workout too! We saw sea lions (and a baby!), dolphins, pelicans, seals, and swimmers without wetsuits. That's hard-core! It made me want to ditch the kayak and jump in. Out in the kelp beds, Jason and I got a little seasick as the tide began to came in so we made our way back to shore. I had to fight the waves and my stomach the whole time. It sucked. Finally, I just led the tide carry me in, right into some huge rocks. I dumped it, right on top of a slippery rock...and a big, flopping, pissed-off fish. I think we both were okay. It sucked dragging the kayak back to the drop-off point, but it was better than losing my breakfast. Jason and Erin both dumped it too so we all got a good dunking. I would love to do it again...after popping a Dramamine. I slept the rest of the day, fighting my stomach and my head. I have had wicked headaches lately.
Sunday 3/26: We all did some shopping. I was exhausted so Jason and Erin played b-ball while I napped. I still felt under the weather and was still fighting the headaches.
Monday 3/27: We all had a great picnic on the beach in Del Mar. The weather was soooo nice. The tide was at a record low so Erin and I went tide pooling while Jason got a sunburn. We saw sea anemones, crabs, hermit crabs, and collected really cool (empty) shells.

It was sad to see Erin go (see pic above; I added a link to her blog on the title). Time to get back to life. I have been feeling like crap. My head hurts all the time, and I'm really tired. I've decided to finally suck it up and go to the doc. I gotta figure out what's going on so I can get back on track. I hate not feeling myself. It also really interferes with my training. Maybe it's my thyroid. My whole family has low thyroid so that's what I'm thinking. Or, maybe I'm coming down with a cold. Jason said he didn't feel well tonight. Whatever it is, it needs to go away.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Featured bunny model of the day

Babs is such a centerfold girl!

suffering from weekend warrior syndrome

I really overdid it Saturday. I can't believe I'm suffering from Weekend Warrior Syndrome. I thought I was in better shape. I don't know if it was a) wearing the wrong shoes and messing my knee up, b) power-walking back home 3 miles (walking may feel wimpy cardio-wise, but it does work different muscles), c) playing basketball for the first time in 10 years for 40 minutes after all this (not just shooting hoops, mind you, dribbling, doing lay-ups, rebounding every missed shot and putting it back up--there were a lot of missed shots...), or d) all of the above.

Whatever the reason, I was a wreck on Sunday. My legs hurt so bad, it hurt to lay on them. You know it's bad when lying down hurts. My quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes, not to mention knees, screamed every time I moved. Oh, and there was a searing pain in my left knee every time I moved my leg sideways, away from me. Jason made the mistake of casually patting me on the leg last night, affectionately. I nearly screamed. "Oops," he said, smiling. He seemed to find the whole situation very amusing. I was too sore for even a massage. A massage!

Walking was challenging. Getting up or down (especially kneeling) was the worst. I relied on my arms and shoulders to help me. Guess I needed crutches. After dragging myself out of bed 10:30 Sunday morning, I lapsed into nap #1 for the day around 1-ish as Jason headed to campus to study (finals week). He came home totally burnt out a few hours later. I hadn't moved from where he'd left me on the sofa. I was able to rise for lunch. Then, I got a little burst of energy and talked about going for a walk, biking, or swimming. Hmmm. I decided to get the mail first. I hobbled out of the apartment and made the mistake of taking the stairs. I somehow made it down the first flight in agony before heading to the elevator to go the rest of the way. I had to take the elevator to go from the 2nd to the 1st floor. Humiliating. I didn't even try going back up. I just headed straight for the elevator. I mentioned swimming to Jason one more time. I rested on the sofa for a moment....then lapsed into deep coma nap #2. I was out for the next 3 hours. The walk to the mailbox had really done me in! Oh, and I had been taking Advil throughout the whole day, just as a side note. By the way, going to bed last night was no problem, despite all the naps. Guess I was tired!

I finally was able to feel a little bit more energetic after dinner but realized I was in no shape for swimming. Instead, I cleaned the apartment. Top to bottom. It helped loosen me up, and I got to take it off my list. Awesome.

Today, walking was still difficult but not as bad as yesterday. My quads still make going downstairs difficult, and my left leg still bugs me more than my right, making me limp, quite noticeably. I had to explain my "gimpiness" to a lot of my coworkers. Especially since I grunted and winced every time I got up from a chair. But, I'm making progress. My knee feels better; I can move my leg sideways! It does ache if I'm on my feet for a long time or walking a lot. Guess I won't be running for now.

I made it to the pool tonight and had an awesome swim! Guess I'm cleared for that! It felt great. I really needed it. Plus, I was able to get grocery shopping done afterwards. Bonus! I feel on-track. Hopefully, I feel good enough for a spin on the trainer tomorrow.

Oh, and as for the poision oak, the jury is still out. I thought I was in the clear, until a giant red hive appeared on my left knee (that damn knee). So itchy! But, it's not unusual for me to break out in weird hives so I'm still waiting to see if it's poison oak. Hopefully not.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hey There!

Oscar investigates the camera. Check out his gi-normous bat ears!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Crappy shoes, poison oak, and a wannabe NCAA B-ball player

Today was a much better day. I felt 100% with all the rest I've been getting. I had my fill of pancakes for breakfast, and, after I digested, I set out for a canyon run. Rain was in the forecast but the sun was brightly dominating over the diminishing thunderheads. The weather was a calm 58. Plus, I had downloaded a new mix on my Shuffle so I was all set. I put on my lighter pair of running shoes that I use for racing. I've only worn them a dozen of times since I do most of my training in my tried-and-true, supportive Brooks Adrenaline shoes. Alas, this blessed pair had been mistakenly left at lab. Determined to run despite this setback, I laced up my racing flats and set out. This was to be the beginning of my demise.

I ran on the dirt trail that led through the Rose Canyon. The trail was packed from the rain we had received the night before. Perfect. I settled into a pace and relaxed, enjoying the green, flowering view of the canyon, replete with rain. The smell of some sweet, unamed flower filled the air, mixed with wet eucalyptus and grass. I hadn't planned on running very far but I was enjoying myself so much, I decided to reach the end of the path before turning back, which would be a 5-6 mile round-trip run. No sweat. I'd take it slow.

Right before the end of the path, I glanced to my left and discovered a sign to an adjacent canyon, the Marian Bear Park. Delighted with my new discovery, I darted over the train tracks at the bottom and began on the narrow, dirt trail to explore this new territory. About 15 paces down the trail, I halted. The rain had stimulated new growth on the bushy branches, which reached my waist and nearly covered the path. Gray and dry, I had mistakenly thought these sticks were dead. However, catching sight of the new leaves, I gasped. Three-leaved clusters glistened with their deadly oil in their evil bright greens and red. Poison oak.

This species had plagued me as a girl. I had never-ending cycles of poison oak allergies, leaving scars all over my body. I had poision oak and chicken pox in conjunction during the final week of 6th grade. I used to be so allergic, I had to take steroids to prevent my airway passages from closing. I didn't even have to touch it to get it. If it was a breezy day, and I was sweaty (sort of like today), all I had to do was linger near enough to the plant to spot it, and it was too late. Oh, and the sticks are still thickly contaminated with the deadly poisonous oils. I carefully backed up, trying not to touch a thing. I was about 3 miles from home. It would be at least 30 minutes before I could get home and try to no avail to wash the poison from my legs. I don't remember touching it today but I was certainly VERY close. In my past experience, this would have been enough to receive a whopping rash. I guess we'll find out now if my immune system built up any sort of defense to this irritant, and if my body remembers one of its arch-nemeses.

As I headed home, it was about this time my knee began to hurt. It had been aching on the left side of the knee during the run but I had ignored it, figuring it was stiffness. Heading back, it began to get worse. And worse. Stabbing pain shot through my entire knee, causing me to limp. I limped to a walk and stretched a bit. After 15 steps, the pain came back. I tried running on grass. No use. I tried walking for a few minutes. Nope. I had to walk the entire way back. God, that sucked. To keep my pulse up, I swung my arms, tightened my abs and glutes, and fast-walked the whole way back, looking like an idiot. I checked my pulse: 130. Not bad. At least I got a cardio workout in.

My knee felt a little better when I got home and washed up. I have been following March Madness a little, and it made me nostalgic for my glory days on the court in high school. I grabbed my ball and headed for the park adjacent to the apartment. I stunk it up on the court for the next 40 minutes but it was way fun. Every now and then, I get a basket, and it was elating. Funny, how such a little thing like watching a basketball swish through the basket fills me with such satisfaction. My legs and arms started quivering so I decided to head back. I had underestimated how much shooting hoops would take out of me. It had been about 10 years or so since I'd even been on a court. It was really fun but a lot harder than I imagined. Talk about plyometrics! I know I'm supposed to do those things on the track and skip rope and jump up stairs and do jumping jacks to build up explosive power but with all the other things I have going on, I just never do. This was something I wanted to do, and it was all about explosive power. I tried to rebound every ball I missed, which really upped the workout anty. Anyway, it was so much fun. Maybe Jason will join me next time, and we can suck it up on the court together.

After going home and taking a shower, I laid down for a deep coma-like nap. I woke up feeling well-rested but unable to walk or move my left leg sideways. My knee hurt SO bad! I promptly took 2 Advil and put an ice pack on it. It feels much better now but I don't think the b-ball was such a good idea. I may have pushed it. I'll have to focus on biking and swimming for the next few days. Doesn't matter. I'm so out of shape, it may be good to be limited to fewer activities.

I know what the problem is: my shoes. They suck. Not enough support. I won't do that again. Every time I have ever bought a pair of shoes different from Brooks Adrenaline, I have gotten a knee injury. Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Duh. Guess I'm paying the price. After last week's race, I had a deep-tissue massage Monday, and my IT bands were unusually tight. I know my IT band is acting up. I totally know what I have to do. Number 1: wear the right shoes. Number 2: no more slacking on the stretching. Number 3: Be consistent with the right type of weight lifting, especially hip abductors (outer hips) and quads. Guess I learned my lesson. Again.

Hopefully, tomorrow, my knee won't be a balloon, and I won't be itching all over.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Relapse--fighting back

Sorry for the negative posts these last few days. I've been having a major attack of anxiety, which has now turned into full-blown depression. Typical. I love it when this happens. It's so frustrating. I blow everything out of proportion and am ultra sensitive. Someone doesn't say "hi" the right way, and my day is ruined. Just ridiculous. And the whole time, I'm telling myself, "You're being ridiculous." It doesn't matter. I missed exercise of any kind today. That's the 4th day in a row, and I totally beat myself up over it. Here is how NOT to run your day:

1. wake up at 8. decide you don't feel like getting out of bed and lay there in a daze until 9:40 when you can't stand lying down anymore.
2. rush around in a frenzy to get to lab as quickly as possible, feeling panicked the entire time that you're going to get fired.
3. leave apartment 20 minutes after waking with bed un-made (bunnies fed though), hair in ponytail, glasses on, no make-up.
4. Breakfast consists of banana shared with bunnies and latte upon getting to lab.
5. Get right to work and have a rather productive day of isolating RNA, reading, and outlining papers.
6. Let RNA pellets dry too long and have reallly hard-ass time resuspending them.
7. Spec them anyway and get low yields; don't know if it's because pellets aren't resuspended.
8. Decide to try again with the resuspension and spec issue another day.
9. Scramble for lunch at 2:30. Cafeteria's are all closed. Getting car and driving somewhere takes forever. Go to vending machine and buy a breakfast burrito, which I microwave, and eat because I'm starving. It was disgusting.
10. Drink another latte.
11. Skip late afternoon run b/c worried about PI's opinion.
12. Finally head home, feeling guilty about not working hard enough and not meeting expectations.
13. Realize at home I forgot to prepare the overnight incubation of the plate with capture antibody for ELISA. Guess that will have to be delayed a day. Strike 3.
14. In complete panic-mode now. Feed bunnies, eat cereal, fall asleep for 2 hours on couch.
15. Wake up and mope. Jason gives me toast and coffee. Coffee only makes me anxious.
16. 11:30 take a sleeping pill (Ambien) and decide the night is unsalvagable and had been a complete waste.
17. Then decide to try and do something. Change litterboxes, water plants, do clothes, dishes, pay bills, balance checkbook, all as sleeping pill is kicking in.
Note: Balancing checkbook while on sleeping pill is extremely arduous and error-prone.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Highlights of my past 24 hours

1. Woke up late to hungry bunnies realizing I still hadn't gone grocery shopping.
2. Received compliment from P.I. about revisions I made on her grant.
3. Successfully harvested elicited peritoneal macrophages from 3 mice--6 x 10^7 cells/mL, baby!
4. Earned a free coffee (11th one free deal).
5. Got an awesome deep tissue massage.
6. Answered phone as walked in the door only to find Grandma from TN had dropped in for a surprise visit due to a serious illness my great aunt (her sister) has (who lives here).

1. Missed lab meeting b/c of great aunt's illness.
2. Have felt guilty all day about it.
3. Made reservations for dinner with Grandma (coersion).
4. Rushed around all day to get RNA from stimulated macrophages (see #3 Monday).
5. Missed lunch and nearly fainted in mouse surgery class.
6. Completely messed up 2 moderate Sudoku puzzles.
7. Am going to be late for dinner.
8. Still need to clean apartment, change litterboxes, do laundry, pay bills, balance checkbook and budget, bike, and weight lift somehow after dinner.

Sigh. Recipe for disaster.

Weekly Evaluation

Last week, I struggled towards the unattainable goal of having a "perfect week." I feel very short. I missed 1 bike, 1 run, 1 swim, and 1 weight lifting session as well as coming in under the minimum amount of training time (under 5 hours). I'm not happy. Not only that, I put off errands so that they got shoved off on this week, making this week difficult to obtain a perfect week for the 2nd time in a row. I'm not happy with myself. Everything was going great until Thursday. I took an unplanned day off. I was tired. I looked back over my training log. Seems that I've taken Thursday off every week for the last 9 weeks. What gives? Why is Thursday been dubbed "lazy couch potato day"? Anyway, I had to scramble Monday morning to go grocery shopping, and the apartment still needs to be cleaned as well as other odds and ends. I also am not up to doubling workouts in one day yet, which didn't help. So even though I biked Friday and had the race on Saturday, I still fell short. Then, Sunday, I took another day off. Bad, bad, bad. I was still kind of tired from the race. In addition, I had a huge assignment due in lab on Monday, and it took me all day Sunday (until 3 a.m.) to finish it. I wanted to make a good impression on my new boss. Well, at least I accomplished that mission. Sigh. Here I am off to another lousy week. I hate starting off on the wrong foot.

Question of the Day

1. Do you do flip-turns when swimming in the pool?
2. How? (I always get water up my nose!)

I started learning flip-turns and began practicing away. It made me very tired, I kept getting water up my nose, and it totally slowed me down. Eventually, I just gave up. My excuse for not learning flip-turns? It takes too much time away from training. By the time I learn how to do them effectively enough so that it actually makes my lap swimming faster, I'll be doing all open water triathlons. So the only time I would be doing flip turns is in practice. How does that help me on race day? Then, I'd have to swim extra laps to compensate for the boost I get from doing the flip-turns and pushing off the wall (curiously absent in the ocean). So, I look like a doofus at the pool. I'm curious to hear how other people do it.

By the way...

Jason kicked butt in the race on Saturday. Despite everything, he ran 7:50 min. miles the whole way, pulling in a sub-48 min time by the end. Unbelievable. He was frustrated because he had to stop and tie his shoe. If he had double-knotted, he could have done even better. I couldn't even see him after the first 1/2 mile. I'm envious.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

St. Patrick's Day 10K Race Report

We awoke this morning at 6:10 a.m. It had rained all night, and even though I went to bed late and took awhile to get to sleep, I slept soundly after I fell asleep, which is the 2nd night in a row this has happened in awhile. I actually felt psyched about the race. Jason went out to the balcony to check the weather. He reported back: wet but not raining, chilly but sunny and still a nice 50 degrees. Okay. I could do that. So I lurched out of bed, threw on long pants, a long running shirt, and grabbed my gloves and earmuffs to protect the extremeties from the wind. We headed down to Mission Bay Park. We sighted several vivid rainbows, arching over us under the clouds. I actually thought there might be a little, dancing, laughing leprachaun at the end with a pot of gold; it was that tangible. This must be a good sign.

As we arrived, my stomach calmed down. My stomach is always quite grouchy in the a.m., and the 1/2 honey nut granola bar I had scarfed down had not made it happy. Finally, the pre-emptive Zantac quieted it down. Cars and people were scrambling about. The first thing we encountered was total chaos and disorganization. The finish and the start were in separate places. Neither one was clearly marked. The registration was at the start but the shirt and goody bag were at the finish. We drove to the finish first. Then the start. After registering, we drove back to the finish, intelligently realizing we wouldn't want to walk a mile in the rain after we were done. The thing that really sucked about the shirts and goody bags being at the end was that they ran out of goody bags by the time Jason and I went to retrieve ours. (We did get our shirts though. Most important). This ticked me off since a lot of people didn't even show up to race b/c of the weather. What was with the shortage? Anyway, by the time we parked, we only had, according to my watch, which is a few minutes slow, 15 minutes to make it back to the start, about 1/2 mile or so down the road. The wind begin to blow in gusts. Just about this time, it started pouring.

We took off jogging--a nice warm up given the weather. However, being that I'm not in that great of shape right now, I would have rather walked and conserved energy. We finally got to the start, very warmed up and also very wet. It was about 10 minutes to the start. No one was lined up. I couldn't even see the start. It wasn't posted. I asked a race director. She calmly said everything was on time. Okay. About 10 minutes after 7:30, the 2 and 4 milers lined up and then, a volunteer hoisted up the start banner. Okay. The 10K racers had to wait an additional 10 minutes after the 2 and 4 milers started (this group had grown substantially in size as original 10K people jumped ship). By this time, I had cooled off again and was totally pissed and glaring at anyone who glanced in my direction to let them know how I felt. Oh, and as we were waiting, it started to hail.

Finally, after jumping up and down (more wasting energy) for 20 minutes, we lined up and started. I have never been so happy to start in my life. I started out way too fast, realizing I was going 8:10 by mile 1. Maybe okay a year ago, but not today. At this time, my body began telling me I had taken off too quickly. I got a stitch on my right side and a major muscle spasm under my left shoulder blade. Dammit. I slowed down and began deep breathing exercises. I must have caught it right in time because by mile 3, I felt much better.

The whole time, I felt sluggish and had a hard time reaching my pace. When I did, it was difficult and lacked spring. Part of the problem may have been my new "racing" shoes, which are lighter than my normal Brooks shoes. They were much stiffer and less springy so I had much less bounce. I also just didn't have a lot of energy. Trying to keep warm in the cold had sapped it out of me. By mile 5, I had just started to get comfortable again and realized I would be able to finish at a stable pace. I almost slipped over the line of flour the volunteers had decided to pour on the ground to mark mile 5. Hmmm. Wet flour. Cement. Wet running shoes. What a brilliant idea. Dummies. Then, we hit the sidewalk and began pounding on the cement. I had to grit my teeth and tune out the agonizing pounding pain in my hips, knees, arches, and calves as I pounded away. I hate cement. I actually much prefer asphalt.

Finally, we turned onto grass and I passed over the finish. 55:50. Definitely not my best time. But I did it. I could have gone back to bed this morning. I could have gotten back in the car when it started hailing. I could have walked. But no. I toughed it out. So there. When I got home, I promptly took a scalding hot shower, turned up the heat, and retired to the bed for a 4 hour nap. I've felt groggy the rest of the day. Oh, well.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Thanks for everyone's helpful comments! I've added some more links to some fellow blogger's sites on my sidebar. I can't believe how many other triathletes live in San Diego! I've heard wonderful things about the Triathlon Club of San Diego. There's a beginner bike ride this Sunday. I'm planning on checking it out in hopes of joining in the near future. Pretty exciting. I also need to check out the tri shops in the area and get a wetsuit (as well as drool over the tri bikes). I can't wait to do some ocean swims!

Lab has been totally wiping me out. Between doing experiments, planning a 2nd related project, and trying to teach myself everything about macrophages, immunity, inflammation, Toll-like receptors, and atherosclerosis, I'm totally overwhelmed. At least the ELISA I did today worked.

When I got home, I just crashed. I feel way too exhausted to do anything tonight. Maybe I can sleep better tonight. I have a lot to do tomorrow to try and play "catch-up" for slacking today. Ugh. I'd like to fit in 2 more runs, 2 more bikes, 1 more swim, and 1 more weight session, as well as some Yoga before the clock hits midnight on Sunday. Plus, I need to change litterboxes, go grocery shopping, and clean the apartment. Sigh.

Oscar in his box

grrrrr. leave me alone!!!

(the bear, lurking in his lair)

Pics from whale watching trip

san diego bay

jason (cutie pie)

sea lions (very happy) ocean water!!!

Struggle for perfect week

I'm still tired and having sleep problems but I think I've figured out why. I've decided to give in and take an evening nap for now. I try to do it as early as possible so it doesn't interfere with evening activities and bedtime.

Monday I had an awesome swim.
Tuesday I logged in a nice little 4-mile run. I felt sluggish but got better and better throughout the run.
Wednesday I had an awesome ride on the trainer for an hour. I feel stronger, faster, and can go harder. I followed it up with some weight lifting.

Seems like I'm on track. Will this week be a "perfect week?" A perfect week is when I accomplish all the things I set out to do on my list at the beginning of the week. My weeks begin on Monday so I can use Sunday to catch up and plan my new week. Totally anal retentive, I know. I use Sunday to plan out my next week. I have a training plan guideline for the year that I use. On my calendar, I figure out which days to do the most training, which days to do the groceries, change litterboxes, clean the apartment, etc. That way, nothing interferes too much, and I can plan my day off guilt-free. However, I'm always overly-ambitious and plan too much for each week. Usually, I feel drained and defeated by Sunday. Monday, I'm always optimistic because it's the beginning of a new week, clean slate. I'm probably one of the few people who looks forward to Mondays. Because I plan too much, I only end up accomplishing 2-3 "perfect weeks" a year. When I do, it's like reaching nirvana. I feel like I'm floating and everything is clicking for me. I can create time and truly relax.

Will this week be a perfect week? It's Wednesday, and one of the first weeks in a long time that I'm totally on track. Hmmmm. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

2 workouts/day?

Question of the Day:

Do you do more than workout a day when training for triathlons? If no, how do you get all your training in? There's not enough time to train for 3 sports, plus weights, plus Yoga, plus life in a week! I don't understand how to fit it all in, without doing 2 a day. Please let me know how y'all do it.

Science and Training--all in one

I've been continuing to get my workouts in. Still not strong enough for two-a-day. Ugh. So slow. I wish I had more endurance. I was beat after my bike ride on Saturday. Sunday, I lounged most of the afternoon on the balcony, soaking up the sunshine, drinking a latte, and watching the house finches at the bird feeder as I played Sudoku. Verrrry relaxing. I took a late afternoon nap, and then got my ass in gear and got onto the treadmill. I squeezed in a weight lifting session afterwards.

Today, after lab, I went to the pool. The day flew by and I didn't have the typical late afternoon slump that normally keeps me from the pool. Hmmm. Still figuring out how to get my energy levels up and avoid naps. I've actually been REALLY good. I've only taken 2 naps in the past 7 days! Progress. I'm still having a hard time going to bed on time and waking up earlier. Sigh.

Anyway, my pool workout went as well as could be expected. I have been missing my swim workouts so I expected to have lost some endurance. I still enjoyed my swim. I did some sets of breaststroke-backstroke-free for my warm-up. It really loosens me up. I love backstroke to compliment freestyle. And breaststroke is my active rest. I then did a set of 400 m before my form started to fall apart. Sensing I was starting to get fatigued, I did some drills to work on my form, intermixed with laps of free. I ended up with stroke counting. It felt so good. My shoulders and back are dead tired but I got a little massage from Jason and I know I'll be back in tip-top shape in no time. I just need to swim more!

I get a massage from a new person on Friday. I'm very excited. My back has these HUGE knots. My back and neck get really sore after biking. I don't know if it's a fitness thing or bike fit thing. Maybe I should find a bike shop I trust and schedule a professional fitting.

After my swim, I was really too tired to bike on the trainer so I scrapped that and decided to be satisfied that I got my priority workout done and gave it 110%. I still managed to clean the balcony and vacuum and change litterboxes and do clothes and clean up the kitchen and call the cable co and credit card co to bitch at them for being dumbasses! That will clear the way for more time during the rest of the week, so there!

I'm excited b/c Jason and I are doing the St. Patrick's Day 10k this weekend. Then, April 1st, my dad and I are doing a 4 mi run from Saratoga to Los Gatos when I visit my folks. Then, Jason and I are doing the Carlsbad 5000 on the 9th--the fastest 5k in the world! I have to do it b/c the motto itself gets my adrenaline pumping! And April 22nd, I'm doing the Devil Dog Duathlon at Camp Pendleton. Then, tri season starts, kicking off with the Spring Sprint in May. Isn't it crazy? My "A" races this year will be the San Diego International in June and the Camp Pendleton Olympic distance a bit later. I now just need to get a wetsuit so I can do some ocean swims!!! And next year, maybe a new tri bike? I haven't earned my aero bars yet but if this season goes well, maybe next year. I'm also going to check out the San Diego Triathlon Club. It's really reputable, and they have all sorts of good things going on.

As for lab, I've been settling in nicely. I really like the people I work with. I do my experiments all in the morning, particularly the mouse work. Then, in the afternoon, I settle into writing everything up, reading and outlining papers, and project planning. That's been taking up a lot of time and it's been a great schedule. I try to squeeze in a run in the afternoons when I can. I can run up to Torrey Pines, the beach, or go to the UCSD track. Way-cool. Or bring my bike, and head up the coast towards Del Mar on the Pacific Highway.

(Warning: science talk approaching.) Lab has been going really well. I'm learning how to work with mice. It's very challenging and very new to me but I've been practicing a lot and gaining confidence. My project is investigating the role of Toll-like receptors in atherosclerosis. It's so cool. There's the whole connection between the immune system, inflammation and atherosclerosis, and I'm trying to elucidate the connection. I think it's cool that fat triggers an immune response like chronic inflammation. Plus, there's another level of complexity when you think about plaque development from differentiation to a foam cell in the early lesion to thrombosis and plaque rupture in the late lesion. Waaaay cool. The lab I'm in uses a mouse model prone to atherosclerosis--the LDL receptor knockout mice. We can cross them to other mice (TLR2 or TLR4 knockouts in my case) and also do bone marrow transplantation following gamma-irradiation to investigate the role of specific proteins in only macrophages in lesion development. It's a cool system. That's sort of where I am right now. I'm learning how to harvest macrophages from mice, culture them, and stimulate them with TLR agonists to look for changes in gene expression by harvesting RNA and doing RT-PCR, using high through-put gene array. I'm learning a ton. The lab is really great too. Everyone is very helpful.

Sorry if I bored everyone with the science talk. I've got my life neatly divided into a trifecta: lab, family (Jason and buns), and triathlon. Pretty perfect!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ocean ride

I had an awesome bike ride today. I went solo again b/c Jason had to study. I decided to do an out and back ride on the coast. No chance of getting lost! It was very breezy and almost chilly. I was fine since I put on long underwear under my bike shirt. I ended up going a total of 23 miles. It was so exhilarating, relaxing, and cleansing. I could smell the salt. The air was moist with ocean water. Sea salt collected around the top of my water bottle, further preventing dehydration...the natural way. The waves were very violent, and the tide was high. People were hang gliding and flying kites. I saw tons of sea birds and hawks, taking advantage of the winds. I passed through Del Mar, Solana Beach, and Cardiff by the Sea. I love the little ocean towns north of San Diego! I've decided I want to live there when I grow up. ;) The hills didn't seem so bad today. However, I was exhausted when I got back. Why does my throat get sore after a hard work out? Strange. Anyway, I scrapped my 2nd workout for the day, considering how sore my ass felt and have been resting all weekend. I still am overestimating my fitness and trying to pack in too much and too many workouts in one day. Frustrating. Oh, well. I've been back into it for 8 weeks now. I'm definitely building endurance and consistency. Ugh. So slow. Baby steps....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Napless, sleepy, sluggish

Monday, I had an awesome treadmill run followed by a solid weight-lifting session. Even though I was sore from Sunday's bike-ride, I felt very motivated. (I still took my nap Monday). Yesterday, I struggled to avoid my 5 p.m. nap. I was exhausted. I haven't been sleeping all that well, and this has been confounded by waking up early as well. I can't believe I've been waking up earlier. Unfortunately, I need to wake up early, and avoid the afternoon naps. Hmmm.

I downed a large cup of coffee and had a peanut butter sandwich. After appropriately digesting, I finally felt awake enough and refreshed enough to try for a nice, slow, quiet workout in the pool. I'm very behind on my swimming so it felt SO good to finally jump in the water. Plus, it was very well heated, which was a nice combination with the cool evening air.

I began my warm-up, feeling very sluggish. My arms moved like molasses, and I had a hard time going straight. That was okay. Obviously I haven't been swimming enough so I accepted that I had lost swimming fitness and plodded on. I decided to work on my form and do some drills. This should have been calming and relaxing but it had the opposite effect. I felt worse and worse. After swimming for a total of 30 minutes, I rested for a bit on the end of the lane. My head was spinning, and I felt very naseous. I took my goggles off, forgetting that they were prescription. Looking around with blurred vision did not help asuage my dizziness. I steadied myself, and got out of the pool. My workout was over (unless I wanted to revisit my lunch and introduce to my neighbor swimmers).

After a long slow shower, I picked up Jason and had him drive me home. I was so naseous and dizzy by this point, I believed I was coming down with the flu. After resting at home, I finally became hungry...had a nice, light spaghetti dinner (thanks to Jason)...and was then exhausted. I slept like a baby.

This morning, I feel great. I slept in because I felt I needed the sleep. I have felt very energized all day. Could my crappy workout and onset of flu-like symptoms been due to exhaustion? Perhaps. I hope so because that's pretty easy to fix. I didn't even feel the need to nap this evening!!! I can't believe how hard it is to a) repress the need to take a nap, b) go to bed early, c) wake up early. They are all linked. You mess up one, and everything comes crumbling down. Not only that, these three things seem so simple. Why even care so much about them? The thing is, when I can do those three things, everything I have to do on a daily basis gets done with ease because I actually feel good.

This afternoon, I went for an awesome 4 mile run from lab. It was gorgeous. It's hard not to gawk at the ocean. I felt like a kid on a playground. I ran so fast, I gave myself a whopping stitch from my shoulder blad down to my side. Ouch. It felt good though (the run, not the stitch). I feel like my workouts are becoming a little more solid, a little more consistent. Whoever thought being selfish and rewarding yourself with working out could take so much discipline?