Sunday, April 30, 2006

Frustrating Foot Pain--continued

My stomach bug has passed. It totally sucked. Not only could I not eat, but my energy has been completely sapped. Finally went for a run last night on the treadmill. Went about 5 steps before the excruciating pain in my forefoot (metatarsals) brought me to a grinding halt. Went to bed completely frustrated, depressed, and freaked out.

I'm signed up for the Spring Sprint May 7, Bay to Breakers May 21, and the San Diego International Triathlon June 25. I really want to do these races. I'm just sick of being injured. Running is my favorite phase of triathlon. It's what I did before I got into triathlon. I don't mind working on the bike and swim more but I want to be able to enjoy my runs. I no longer feel strong when I run like I used to. I used to get into a zone and just float. I miss that. I want that again. I've done 2 1/2 marathons and there was a time I could figure out how to keep injuries at bay and actually get faster and stronger and build mileage. What is wrong with me? I'm 28 going on 60.

No, it's not my shoes. I've had them checked by 3 renowned running stores and a reputable physical therapist, and they all think they fit great. I only have problems when I change to a different brand, don't buy new shoes when the old ones wear out, or do too much too soon (remember that last one). The problem is, I have a very uncommon foot--narrow with high arches. The only shoes that do fit well may not allow enough support or cushioning when I land since people with high arches tend to be more rigid. I land on the balls of my feet b/c my mid-foot is just air. Thus, knee pain, hip pain, foot pain, etc.

I'm being proactive. I think I know myself well enough to figure some things out for myself. Here's the game plan:
Number 1: I probably need an orthotic to make my shoes fit perfectly to my foot and give me the arch support I need. Therefore, Number 2: I'm seeing a sports podiatrist. I have a few names that were recommended by tri club members in the area (fantastic resource), and I'm calling them up tomorrow. I just hope they can see me ASAP. Nice thing is that my insurance covers it so I don't have to worry about $. Number 3: I went to a running store today in the meantime to see if they could help. The running specialist at Road Runner Sports ( was actually very helpful. He analyzed the structure of my foot, watched the way I walk and run on a treadmill, evaluated the foot of my shoe, and pretty much confirmed that I needed an orthotic and needed a foot specialist (at least he was honest). In the meantime, he gave me an insert for arch support to see if that would help. I tried it out on the treadmill, and it helped. I was able to run slowly for 3 miles. However, I had to be very conservative and think about every step to avoid pain. Not so good. I'm asking for secondary injuries. I can't wait to see the specialist and get this fixed. Number 4: I know what the specialist will say, however. RICE--rest, ice, compression, elevation. Mainly rest (if it hurts, don't do it) and ice. Plus NSAIDs to reduce inflammation. Number 5: I'm maintaining fitness by focusing on swimming and biking. Plus I can still do weights (not lunges or squats though to be safe). In addition, I can do the ellipitical without pain so that can substitute for running in the meantime. Main thing is: when can I be up an running? Literally. I just have no patience. It's race season, and I'm sick of time off!

Why do I keep getting injured? I think I do know what's wrong with me, and I'm having a hard time actualizing it. This is only my 3rd season of triathlon. 2 seasons ago, when I jumped in, I was already in pretty good shape from running and going to the gym all the time. Hence, no injuries. 2nd season, I had to back way off b/c I was in the process of finishing up graduate school, interviewing for a postdoc, and getting ready to move out here (legitimate reasons). I maintained some fitness except for the last 2 months. After I got settled in San Diego, I underestimated my fitness level and tried to ramp it up too soon. I get so frustrated at how slowly it has taken me to get back up to where I was. But I've only returned to regular exercise since January. Moral of the takes time. I am doing too much too soon. I need to learn patience.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Frustrataing Foot Pain--Metatarsalgia

This is the type of foot pain I have. Metatarsalgia is basically pain around the ball of the foot. Great. Very helpful. It has to do with wearing the wrong shoes and having high arches and narrow feet (in my case), although obviously, there are many causes. Runners are also very susceptible. It hurts when I roll off the ball of my foot when running. It feels as if all my tendons are compressed very tightly, and then released suddenly, which is when I feel pain. Ice, rest, and NSAIDs help a lot. I'm frustrated b/c I think I got this by wearing the wrong street shoes so I didn't even injure it running this time!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Devil Dog Race Pics

my biking pics look like I'm having a lot more fun than the run. I guess the photographers loved me b/c of my funny faces. I don't remember it hurting that much. Guess I'm kind of being a wimp.

How to do flip turns

These tips helped me a lot (see link above):

1. Approach the wall of the pool swimming freestyle. Begin your turn just short of a body length away from the wall.
2. Tuck your chin to your chest and roll your body into a ball, so that you start to do a forward flip in the water.
Tips: Blow air out of your nose to avoid inhaling water.
The tighter the tuck, the better the roll.
Do only a half somersault.
3. Open your body halfway through your flip and extend your legs to push off against the wall.
Tips: Don't open too soon or you'll end up going to the bottom of the pool. Wait until you
are facing the wall.
4. Push off the wall, and you will be propelled in the opposite direction from the one in which you were swimming.
Tips: You should still be on your back at this point.
Feet land on the wall, toes pointing up, your back towards the bottom of the pool, your belly
towards the ceiling/sky.
Push off the wall, still "back towards the bottom" of the pool, belly towards the sky.
5. Rotate (the part I was having a hard time with):
As you leave the wall (remember, your hands are together, extended over your head) begin to rotate from belly up to belly down by twisting your hands slightly and by looking in the direction you want to rotate (don't twist your head - just move your eyes).
5. Streamline your entire body and roll back over onto your belly as you glide. Your shoulders should be up against your ears and your fingers should be pointed. Begin kicking immediately.
6. Begin stroking with your arms as soon as your body breaks the surface of the water.


  • Practice somersaults away from the wall first.Exhale through your nose forcefully as you rotate.
  • Don't slow down before you flip. Your momentum will make the turn easier.
  • Don't flail your arms everywhere after you're over. This is a major problem for almost all new flippers because the correct arm position is counter-intuitive. When both your arms are at your side and you have not yet swung your legs over, your arms are already in their correct position facing the direction you want to go. You need only turn your hands from palms facing up to palms facing the bottom of the pool.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Little Updates: flip turns, new club, stomach flu, etc.

Sunday 4/23:
Discovered that a small apartment pool can be useful for some things. Played in the pool for 20 minutes Sunday night before hitting the hot tub (another unforeseen advantage of the apartment pool).
Number 1: It was fun. I couldn't over-exert myself so it was a perfect place for
recovery swim.
Number 2: I could practice drills.
Number 3: I could swim a bit farther if I swam in circles instead of pushing off the wall
(our pool is rectangular and about 13m long). This was also good for practicing sighting.
(Note to self: swimming into wall--bad).
Number 4: I finally was able to teach myself flip turns. Flip turns! I can do flip turns!
It's taken me forever.
Number 5: There was no one around so I didn't have to worry about being embarrassed
or self-conscious. Big plus for me!

I have had a hard time with flip turns, and I finally had an epiphany. Instead of pushing off the wall on my back and having water shoot up my nose, I figured out how to turn, while pushing off the wall simultaneously so that I twisted and ended up right side up (belly down) every time. I was ecstatic. I've been still too self-conscious to show off my newfound knowledge at the UCSD pool. I'll get my chicken-ass self to do it one of these days with others arond.

Mon. 4/24:
Joined the Tri Club of San Diego ( I went to a Club meeting last week and a Beginner's meeting this week. I've been meeting awesome people. I can't wait to go to some of the workouts! It's such a motivating club with tons of resources and lots of friendly people. Very cool.

Mon. 4/24:
Bought a wetsuit from B&L Bike Shop ( They were very nice there. Knowledgeable but not at all arrogant or pushy. No more excuses for not going into the ocean! I went in there and asked for the warmest tri wetsuit they had. I don't get hot. Ever.

Mon. 4/24:
Did something to my foot by wearing poorly fitting shoes Monday and walking around all day. The tendons on the top of my right foot hurt every time I roll the ball of my foot off the ground. I could barely walk Monday night. It's been ice, ibuprofen, and rest so far but it feels a lot better today.

Wed. 4/26:
Had the most awesome swim on Wednesday night. Found my pace and got my endurance back. Yea! Don't know why, but I had no problem swimming for a lot longer this time. I felt strong and faster than normal. Also I could go longer without rests. I was only going only 250m before resting last week. Maybe my body is finally remembering how to swim.
Swim Workout:
total distance: 2000m
10 min warm-up--alternate 1 lap each of breast--free--back
repeat this set 3x
descending sets of freestyle--500m
try to swim each set a little faster
do active recovery in between each set (1 lap breaststroke)
I also needed 30 seconds rest before starting the next set
cool-down 5 min with few laps of breaststroke and stretching in pool.

Wed. 4/26:
Contracted some sort of stomach bug. Got out of the pool too fast, however, and rushed out of the locker room b/c the pool was closing. Then had to lay the seat down in the car and try not to hurl for 15 minutes before carefully driving home, and laying on the floor of the apartment for another 20 minutes. It was something more than the hard swim though. I was extremely dizzy. I should have known better. I had been dizzy the whole day. Let's go swimming! Duh. I totally have no appetite. My stomach cramps up whenever I eat.

Thursday 4/27 and Friday 4/28:
I took yesterday and today off (work, exercise, everything) and have been resting and eating small bits of food whenever I can. I'm slightly more hungry and not as dizzy but still am having stomach problems. I also feel very weak. Don't know if it's from the illness or from lack of food/water. I have already lost weight so I think I'm dehydrated. I think it's a mild form of stomach flu. Fun.

Style Man Insults Triathletes

I just got my latest issue of Bicyling magazine, which I read cover to cover. I love drooling over the bikes and reading all the tips, although I do find it a bit "male" oriented (too many sexist comments about hot chicks). Maybe I'm just sensitive, but being female in an already male-dominated sport (not to mention my career), I'm very tuned in to those things. But I digress... I was so disappointed when I read this months column of "Style Man" (who "knows everything and knows it"). I realize he offends everyone, and his comments are just ridiculous. He gives his two cents (which aren't worth a damn) about how to dress and how your bike should look and your image on the bike. If you really care about that stuff, you're better off spending your money on a fancy Porsche and getting it over with. But there are always a few of those overly concerned with image in every sport. The whole thing is very silly, and I realize you're not supposed to take it seriously.

But this month, he takes it too far:

This was the question:
"I see a lot of Ironman triathlon competitors wearing arm warmers
with sleeveless tops, leaving their shoulders bare. Thoughts?"
And his response:
"You're asking for a style ruling on people who can't turn a corner
without crashing, who desecate handmade carbon-fiber frames with
$1.33 bits of matlodextrin, and who piss in their shorts because they
lack refinement, persepective, and handling ability? Get on your knees
and plead for your life. If Fausto spares you, never get on another bike
with a seat angle sharper than 72.5 degrees."
Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but this just made me angry. I'm a triathlete (sort of), and I read Bicycling. Aren't I a bicyclist too? Why do triathletes get such a bad rap when it comes to their biking skills? They can bike just as hard as the next guy. What's the deal? I'm sick of triathletes being criticized as quasi-cyclists. Maybe these cyclists are just jealous b/c they would sink like a stone in the water and couldn't run to save their life. Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Training Routes

I am listing all my training routes in this post, which can be linked to from the sidebar. Check frequently, as I will be updating regularly.

  • Running:
  • Torrey Pines Run

  • Rose Canyon Run

  • UCSD Loop Run
  • San Elijo Canyon 12 mile Run
  • other favorite places to run include Mission Bay, Penasquitos Canyon, Lake Miramar, and on the coast, along Hwy 101.
  • Biking:

  • Mission Bay Ride

  • Miramar Reservoir Ride

  • Lake Miramar via Penasquitos Canyon Ride

  • La Jolla to Mission Bay to Rose Canyon Route

  • North Coastal/Lake Miramar

  • Mt. Palomar Ride

  • Anza Borreogo Stagecoach Century (50 mi)

  • Tour de Julian (28 mi)

  • Tour de Poway (44 mi)

  • Favorite Coastal Ride (UTC to Oceanside--57 mi)

  • inland north county ride (55 mi)
  • Scripps Ranch Old Pros 4th of July Ride (50 miles)
  • Poway Highland Valley Loop (40 miles w/HILLS!)
  • North County Ride (El Camino Real-San Marcos-Carlsbad-Del Mar) 40 miles from Sierra Club (
  • Swami's Ride (
  • from Mira Mesa Cycling (
  • Carlsbad/Elfin Forest (
  • Del Dios/Highland Valley (

  • Race Reports

  • I have decided to keep all my race reports on one post and then add it as a single link on the sidebar. Here they are:
  • St. Louis 1/2 Marathon 4/05

  • Fair St. Louis 10k 7/05

  • Hillsboro Biathlon 7/05

  • Stoneman Triathlon 7/05

  • 10K Super Run 2/06

  • 10K St. Patrick's Day Run 3/06

  • Carlsbad 5000 4/06

  • Devil Dog Duathlon 4/22/06

  • Spring Sprint Tri 5/7/06

  • Bay to Breakers 5/21/06

  • TCSD Aquathlon 6/15/06

  • Low Tide Ride 'N Stride 6/18/06

  • San Diego International Triathlon 6/25/06

  • San Jose Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon 10/8/06

  • Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 11/26/06
  • Monday, April 24, 2006

    Race Report

    I had an awesome time! I actually used the word "stoked" in describing my feelings about the race to a friend. Race morning I woke up at 4:15 a.m., afraid I would miss my alarm, scheduled to go off an hour and 15 minutes later. Try as I might, I could not go back to sleep. I was wide awake. This has never happened to me in my life. It was kind of cool. I decided to get up and get ready early, giving me extra time to have breakfast, watch the news, play with the bunnies, do Yoga, and relax.

    I got to Area 43 right on time--7:00 a.m. The race started at 8:30. As expected, there was a delay getting to the transition area since it was on the base, and the marine people had to check our license and registration before we could get in. Very high security. I felt very privleged to be let in "behind the scenes." Sort of like a V.I.P. guest.

    I loved looking around. There were these corny billboards, reading: "Marine! Don't do drugs. Drugs are unmarine." Or, "Marine! Slow down. Speeding is unmarine." I love it. Unmarine. Jason and I used it the rest of the weekend. "Jason! Clean up the kitchen. A dirty kitchen is unmarine." It was hilarious.

    The weather was perfect. Some clouds, low 60s with a light breeze. It is San Diego afterall. We all lined up in the starting chute. They had a really animated D.J. who got us all pumped up. I was racing next to all these big, tough military guys. When the gun went off, they just took off. I let them go, even though I was psyched as well. I kept reminding myself to take it slow. Afterall, I still had another bike and run after this first run.

    The first run went really well. Most of it was on packed dirt/gravel paths, which was heaven for my knees. It was mostly flat, and we ran through some fields that smelled like fresh mint and licorice. I refused both water aid stations since my stomach and running often don't get along. I finished feeling fresh and ready to bike in under 9 min/miles. An improvement for me! I had a great first run.

    I swigged some Gatorade and got ready to ride. I know I could cut a few minutes off my time by working on speedier transitions but I like being calm and deliberate instead of rushed and hurried. Besides, it gives me time to hydrate and allow my pulse to slow down. I hit the road, and Bluebell and I took off. I felt fast. I've been feeling pretty strong on the bike, and the roads were smooth and flat. I went all out. I didn't hold anything back. I passed a lot of people. (A lot of people passed me too.) I loved riding so strong on my simple entry-level road bike, sans aero-bars. I felt totally in my zone. Some people I passed had an attitude and weren't very friendly (like not moving over when I called out nicely, "On your left." What's up with that?), but I was totally unaffected. I didn't care about anyone else. It was great. I felt very positive. Like no one or nothing could ruin my mood.

    I finished the bike in record time--55 minutes for 18.6 miles. This is a PR for me. Somehow, even though I feel out of shape compared to 2 years ago, I have improved on the bike. Go figure. Maybe it's the trainer. Or more mileage. Or the fact, that I slow down and smell the roses more when I bike. I don't know, and I don't care. It feels great.

    I started the second run very sluggishly. But it was okay. I knew I wasn't supposed to feel great. Those bike-run bricks always suck. I just took it slowly and kept willing my legs to trudge forward. I went off of rote muscle memory. I know those legs can move. My knee started stiffening up some. I got a little worried. I remember thinking, "Well, I 've already done this run today. I could just go home now. Or I could walk." Then I looked at my watch and realized I could finish in under 2 hours. I decided to set a new goal (I originally thought it might take me 2.5 hrs) and see if I could finish in less than 2.

    Then, I hit the dirt path, about 3/4 of a mile in, and I started to loosen up. My stride became less labored and more regularly, and I found my pace. Everything began to get a little easier, and I knew I would be able to finish. I saw a girl with a TCSD jersey on, and I introduced myself and we chatted a bit on the run. I'm actually hoping to bump into her again as she is looking for a swim buddy to practice open water with in my area! I hit the turn around point and felt jubilant. I started chatting to everyone. "Yes! Turn-around!" or "Ah. Love this downhill." I like breaking the ice with those around me. It makes it more fun and you get to meet really cool people. I cheered on a guy in his 50s who zoomed past me, breathing like his lungs were going to burst. Then, I saw the finish line, and my legs picked up. I actually managed a little, feeble sprint the last 100 meters. I felt so good.

    I finished in 1:55 and felt great afterwards. I took the rest of the weekend off except for a fun swim on Sunday. Incredibly, I didn't feel too sore or stiff. Plus, no injuries! My ribs and knee feel great! I can hardly believe it. I can't wait for the next race. Or my next workout. I'm totally pumped.

    Friday, April 21, 2006

    nervous about tomorrow's race

    This week has gone by in a hurry. I've been feeling more and more energized about my workouts. I still feel out of shape but better. Plus, all my injuries are healing. My rib is sort of my intensity indicator right now b/c when I push it too hard, it starts to ache.

    Summary of week's workouts:
    Monday--awesome swim
    Tuesday--Torrey Pines 4 mi run; super hard (but knee felt good)
    Wednesday--reluctantly took off (rib hurt and very tired)
    Thursday--quick 10 mi bike around UTC (ended up being sprints); 4 mi AWESOME treadmill run; 30 min weights

    I'm hoping to go for a quick swim in the next hour before going home, eating, doing chores, and getting ready for the race on Saturday morning. I need to lay out everything, write some lists, clean up the bike, and go to bed EARLY. I also plan on doing Yoga tonight.

    I'm nervous about tomorrow's race. Between my poorly built endurance, my rib and knee injury, and the distance (5K run--30K bike--5K run), I'm kind of freaked. But I think I can do it if I just take it easy and focus on finishing strong. No PRs. Just slow and steady. I'm excited though b/c it's the first multi-sport race of the season for me. Spring sprint will follow shortly after! I'll give a race report tomorrow after it's all over with (one way or another).

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    Return to bike commuting and pool

    I decided to try biking the commute in to lab today since my ribs were feeling so much better. However, being exhausted with achy quads, I dreaded the one short but steep hill I would have to get up by UCSD park. Sniff, sniff, whine, whine. To avoid this, I went in the opposite direction to hook up with Gilman Dr., ensuring that my entire route would be uphill. Plus, I ended up almost doubling my mileage from 3.6 miles to 6. Instead of 15-20 minutes, it took me 45. I'm such an idiot. You can see my routes below: (smart) (dumb)

    After lab, I mustered up the energy to get in the pool and brave the waters for the first time in 2 weeks. Rib ached just a little but only for the first few minutes. I swam for 45 minutes! I had to take a lot of breaks but I was able to swim a lot farther. I had kind of a breakthrough. I'm so out of shape compared to 2 years ago, I get frustrated that swimming 500 meters is difficult now. Today, since I'd been out of the pool for so long, I had "permission" to be out of shape. Plus, I was being conservative to nurse my rib. Instead of trying to plow through the entire 500, I broke it up into 2x250 sets with a 1 min rest in between. I did it, no problem, and was able to maintain (somewhat) my form throughout! I followed this up with a modified descending set: 2x125, 2x75....etc. I kind of pooped out on the 2nd 75 m. I felt like I was sinking and working hard but going nowhere. I figured I had fatigued and could no longer maintain form despite rest breaks. It had been 45 minutes so I decided it was a good effort, a good 1st return workout, and threw in the towel. I've been exhausted the rest of the night. It was all I could do to clean up the apartment. Grocery shopping will have to wait.

    Carlsbad 5000 pics

    I found some pics of us in the race from last weekend. Jason is having lots of fun. I look very serious.

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    Happy Sunday Adventures

    Today was a much better day. I put on the new running shoes and braved the canyon run again. I only went 3 miles to be conservative and test out the ole' knee. The shoes were awesome! They're the same shoes I've had, which fit really well, but they're new, and the extra cushioning really made a difference. My knee held up fine; my lungs, well, that's another story. Turns out, the entire way back was uphill. Since I've been confined to the treadmill, the hills were very humbling. I just took my time, focused on form, and decided it would make me stronger. That always helps get up those big hills.

    Then, I hopped on Bluebell, and headed to Mission Bay. I took the Rose Canyon Bike Path the entire way in. After crossing Mission Blvd, there were a few sketchy part under some bridges where homeless people had left their carts and stuff, but at least there was no traffic. I continued around the bay, quite pleased with myself that I had been able to find the bike path all the way in. The ride seemed easy. Too easy. I was going 18-20 mph, no problem. I had to shift into the big chain (which my stick legs are usually not strong enough to do), to keep my rpms at 95. Hmmm. The only time that has happened before was when there was a strong tailwind. Sure enough, I would have to fight a wicked headwind the entire way back. Why does the headwind always have to be on the return?

    As I swung around Fiesta Island, the crosswinds picked up, buffeting me this way and that. Well, that would explain all the kites, I thought. Everyone was grilling, lounging, playing volleyball, having picnics, surfing, and doing all sorts of fun things. I had a fun time watching as I rode past. The best was the windsurfing, which I've never seen before. These people get on surfboards, and hang onto this huge kite-like-parasail-thing. The wind pulls up the sail like a big kite, dragging the person on the surfboard across the water at alarmingly high speeds. It was really cool.

    I had no problem finding my way back to the bike path on the way home (no getting lost at the bottom of Mt. Soledad this time!). The only thing that really ticked me off was two cyclists going in the opposite direction, riding abreast. They refused to ride single-file as they passed me on the very narrow trail. I was almost pushed up against the cyclone fence on the side of the path. I was very angry. I glared at the guy closest to me, even turning my head to continue my glare. I was very close to yelling at him but I held it in. I have to check that bike rage.

    Anyway, I made it home unscathed. 26 miles. Not too shabby. I was too beat to try another run afterwards. I'm doing the Devil Dog Duathlon next weekend. I'm a little worried about the 5K run--30K bike--5K run. I know I can do the run or bike or even bike and then run, but both runs? I don't know. The best part was that Jason was home when I got home, and he made a very nice steak dinner for me when I came in...starving.

    Saturday, April 15, 2006

    I Am A Big (Self-Defeated) Chicken

    By Friday, I was really grumpy from taking so much time off for my knee and rib. I decided to do something; if coughing and sneezing hurt my ribs, how much worse could a run and bike be? I got on the trainer. Then, I jumped on the treadmill. I was planning on going 4 miles, but I stopped after 3.25 after the knee pain started up. Ugh. This is so frustrating. At least I got a good workout in. Endurance-wise, I felt fine. This morning, my knee felt fine, which is a good sign. My ribs actually feel a bit better today too.

    When I was getting a rack for the back of my commuter bike at the local bike shop on Friday, I was invited to go on their Saturday "C" ride with the San Diego Bike Club. One of the people was a female triathlete so I was encouraged. Plus, the ride started from the shop, which was an easy 1 mile ride from the apartment. So last night, I froze a water bottle, lay out my clothes, cleaned my bike, lubed my chain, and pumped up the tires. I was pumped.

    Then, the alarm went off at 6:30, and I totally flaked. First off, I was totally exhausted from the workout the night before and was sleeping hard. Second, there had been a steady rain all night, and the sky was overcast with continuing drizzle.

    However, it wasn't that bad but it all started mounting up. The real reason? I chickened out. The ride was going to be paceline-style, which I've never done before and am totally intimidated by. The ride I was planning on doing was supposed to be for beginners like me with a group leader who would coach me through it. But that intimdated me too. I just wanted to ride. I didn't want to have to think about everyone else too. Plus, for triathlon, we can't draft, so how is it applicable? I know, I know--bike handling skills, you can go farther and faster off a draft and still get a great workout. But I just freaked out. They had handed me this little sheet with their ride guidelines. Their "easy" C ride was still going 35 miles at 15-18 mph. I probably could do it, but I normally have been going 20-25 miles by myself. I can go about 16-17 mph on the flat, but up hills? Nope. Usually, I end up averaging about 14 mph. Plus, with my injured rib, I was worried I would get out there, and make it worse.

    I could see it now--I would be holding everyone back. Because it was a beginner ride, they wouldn't drop me; they would wait for me, which is worse. I'd be like drop me, drop me, please; it's okay. They would be glaring back at me, whispering to each other, "Who invited her?" Then they would yell out, "Just pedal faster! C'mon!" I would be humilated, come home crying, and never ride again. Maybe I'm exaggerating but a combination of total social anxiety kept me home. I've never been good at team sports.

    In the end, I should have packed the bike on the back of the car and trekked up to Solana Beach to go on a more beginner-friendly, non-draft style 18 mile bike ride with the Triathlon Club. Again, I was worried about the ribs. Sigh. I looked into some of the more "relaxing" touring-style riding clubs in the area. They think a social ride is 45 miles. Hello! Why can't someone do a fun group ride for 20-25 miles at about 14 mph? Why is that so wrong. I feel very self-defeated.

    To make matters worse, the running "specialists" at Movin' Shoes totally ripped apart my running form today. I went over there to get their advice on my knee and make sure my shoes fit. All in all, they were pretty helpful, and I feel much more confident that I'm wearing the right shoes and on the road to recovery (recovery is just slow). However, after I tried on some shoes, and ran around the parking lot under their scrutiny, they critiqued my form. They were trying to be helpful, but I think it made it worse. I feel like I can't run now--the easiest, most natural thing in the world. "Your upper body is too stiff. Your calves are too tight. You don't bend your knees enough. You don't swing your shoulders enough." Ack! I had no idea. How do I fix those things? It's bad enough I can't just go out and run without thinking about how soft the terrain will be and then do all the stretching I need to do; now I need to think about how I run. This is going to give me a stitch for sure. I just want to run! That's the beauty of it--it's mental zone-out time. So I came home with my new shoes and instead of going on a ride or a run, I just flopped onto the sofa, feeling completely incompetent. Sigh. I thought this was supposed to be fun and boost my self-confidence.

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Arch Nemesis

    Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk---need I say more?

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006


    I can't do any of the workouts I want. All I can do is get on the trainer or treadmill. It's gorgeous outside. This sucks. Last night, my ribs hurt so much, I just laid around like a sloth...eating chocolate. Oh, did I mention I'm PMSing? Great timing. Sleeping was agony. Coughing is torture. Sneezing is excruciating. These processes probably do more damage than anything else. Needless to say, I'm restless, anxious, irritable...and I feel fat.

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Doctor's Report

    After a deep-tissue massage last night, I woke up this morning with an extremely sore rib. It's been about 3 weeks since my kayaking incident when my ribs first started to ache. Today, it hurts to cough! Since the pain is still persisting, I decided to buckle down and see the doctor. Not a small feat, considering I'm a new patient and don't have a doctor yet. The clinic within walking distance down the street got me in this afternoon. Yeah! Guess that's one small perk of working in biomed research; I'm usually close to the clinical side of things--literally. After being juggled from one waiting room to the next, I finally saw the doc. He felt around and said I was probably aggravating the injury by continuing to be really active (a.k.a. weight-lifting, swimming, biking, running). He said it was probably a bruised rib or strained muscle and to lay off the activity for a week to let things heal. I got a chest x-ray too just to rule out fracture. Fun, fun! Anyway, I've decided (begrudgingly) to postpone swimming and weights for a week, but to replace this with running (nurturing the knee) and biking. That will help keep me on track for the Devil Dog Duathlon in 2 weeks. Maybe I'll bike more on the trainer since that seems to allow me to lay off my rib muscles (going up hills really aggravates my rib). Hope the Devil Dog isn't hilly!

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    carlsbad 5000 race report

    I did it! It was way fun. Biggest plus: my knee held up the whole time. Yeah! I was happy b/c it was the first time I ran outside in 4 weeks. My knee feels good today too. Now, I can begin running 3x a week again. I'll still be doing lots of treadmill runs but I can start doing outside runs. I ran pretty slowly. 9 min/miles. Understandable considering my time off and my knee. Jason did awesome. He ran 7:30 min/miles. Go him! The race was very well organized. A huge food vendor court, expo, and beer garden. Awesome t-shirts! Under-Armour technical shirts. Very pretty blue color. There was lots of support along the way. We ran past people's houses with stereos blaring and people on the porches ringing bells. There were also little cheerleaders lining the route and chanting out cheers. It was awesome. Most of the course was along the ocean so I spent a lot of time daydreaming and watching the surfers. I had a good time. I'm definitely doing it again next year (and will hopefully beat my time).

    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    my new station wagon

    No, I didn't get a tri bike. Don't have enough dough (or experience) for that...yet. Anyway, I've been meaning to replace my old beater that I used to commute to and from work. It's a Pacific I bought used from Sears 6 years ago. It's way comfortable, and I kind of did it up with new pedals, seat, and a tune-up, but it was like putting a really nice stero in a crappy car. The thing was beginning to rust, and the back wheel was permanently wobbly/loose. It was finally getting unsafe to ride, and the gears were having a hard time shifting, making it a bitch to get up hills.

    I'd been putting off replacing it but finally, I visited the local bike shop this afternoon (UC Cyclery, right next-door) just to check it out. I rode a few different bikes and fell in love with the Specialized Sirrus. It's a hybrid that leans towards the road bike side with a flat bar and slightly wider wheels so I could go on light trails if I wanted. I can load it up with stuff using panniers, and I've mounted lights on the front and back for night riding. It's way comfy but still allows me to have enough power to breeze around. Plus, it has a guard on the chainring to keep my street clothes from getting dirty. I totally want to start hopping on it for errands: Blockbuster, groceries, etc. I think it'll make me look forward to errands. I basically want to start using it instead of a car whenever I can. I'm totally psyched about it.

    the hill

    the beginning of the hill; doesn't look too bad yet... top view of the hill (looking northbound)
    I was really hurting by this point.

    a small idea of "the hill" at Torrey Pines (not my own. see link above).

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    TGIF bike ride

    I rode Bluebell to work today. I love it b/c it takes me the same time as driving, and I'm always charged up and ready to go when I get to lab. I changed into my "civilian" clothes at lab, setting the bike clothes aside for later. I've noticed people tend to start early and leave early where I work, which is hard for the late shifters, like me. Around 5 p.m., everyone was drinking beer. Normally, 5:00 rolls by, and I don't even notice. Today, I got ancy feet. All the beer-drinkers reminded me it was quitting time. Instead of downing a cold one, I changed into my bike clothes, jumped on Bluebell, and rode off. That's my version of happy hour.

    All I had to do was turn left and I was heading north up the Pacific Hwy. Sunny and in the 60s, the weather was brilliant. I saw tons of bicyclists in each direction. Some rode very hot bikes with loud jerseys. Others rode in packs, dropped over their aerobars. "Triathletes?" I wondered. All these guys passed me effortlessly. I also saw tons of bike commuters with backpacks and laptop bags, heading home after work or school. Very cool. I kept wondering about the stories behind each cyclist--do they run or swim? Are they triathletes? Will I see them in my next race? I wonder how many cyclists I pass every day that I'm closer to than I know.

    I headed down the killer hill on Torrey Pines road by the nature reserve. I sat up coasted when my computer hit 30 mph, letting wind resistance do its thing. Traffic was hideously backed up. It was at a standstill due to a broken down bus up ahead. It felt almost (but not quite) unfair to be zipping past all the cars in my empty bike lane. This only is confirming my decision to try to bike commute more. It's so awesome!

    After Del Mar, the road flattened out, and I settled into the drops, managing about 18 mph and 96 rpm. I turned into the beach at Cardiff by the Sea and paused to stare at the ocean and all the surfers coming in with their wetsuits hanging off of them like a shedding skin. Heading back was just as blissful. However, I slowed up through the hills, knowing the dreaded Torrey Pines hill laid ahead. I knew I was in trouble too b/c the smells of dinner emanated from several nice seafood restaurants along the road, making me salivate. I always know my tank is near empty when I start to get hungry. I was craving meat--a big juicy cheeseburger--not a good sign.

    Then, I hit the hill, and it was time to focus. This hill does me in every time. Going up Mt. Soledad is worse (I have to walk up that one), but this hill just keeps going and going. It's about a mile long and goes up and up, winding and twisting. It's deceiving. Every time you reach a corner, you think, thank God that's over, only to find more damn hill around the next bend. However, it forces me to focus. All I can do is think of the hill when I'm going up it. Thinking of anything else risks completely losing it. I think about maintaining correct form to allow me to have enough force. I think about my legs turning over smoothly, each revolution gliding me up a little more up the hill. I try not to think about how much hill is left, only how well I'm doing. I maintain a steady pace so that I feel like I can keep going. When I think I can't go any farther, something always kicks in and takes over, and I tell myself, just a little bit more, and somehow, I always get up the hill. It makes me feel tough. I can take that hill anytime. I always feel valiant at the top. Exhausted, sore as hell, but valiant.

    I headed home, dreaming of burgers the rest of the way. Jason made steak for dinner when I got home. Medium-rare, tender and delicious. I showered, napped, ate, and have felt physically exhausted all night. I was thinking of doing a run earlier today but my body has convincingly made a case for eliminating that without any hesitation. Just can't do it. However, some serious stretching is in order. My lower back is so sore!

    Back of my mind...Only ride was only 20 miles, and it took a lot out of me. I'm a little concerned b/c I'm doing the Devil Dog Duathlon in a few weeks. This is a 5K run, 30K bike, 5K run. I know I'm not in the kind of fitness I want to be in for this but I'm worried about the distance. I'm just not where I want to be yet. But I'm getting there...

    Going for It

    The Carlsbad 5000 is Sunday. I'm going for it. My knee is feeling better and better. It's still tentative, and I definitely won't be setting a PR but I can go and enjoy it and get a cool t-shirt. Plus, I can improve my time next year.

    I ran on the treadmill yesterday. 3 miles. I kept it at 6 mph. It did so much better than last time. It didn't hurt at all! Not only that, my knees don't hurt at all today! All this is such an improvement: running 3 miles without pain, running faster, not hurting afterwards or the next day. It's awesome.

    I have to really focus on form. When I lean slightly forward from my hips to engage my glutes more, it seems to take some of the pressure off my knees. Plus, I try to pull my legs back before landing so that my feet are under me, allowing my center of gravity to balance me more. That way, my body can help take the impact off my knees. That seemed to really help. Hopefully, all the treadmill running will end up helping me improve my form and prevent future injuries. Treadmill running is so boring; I have nothing to think about but form and knees.

    After the treadmill yesterday, I got on the trainer and biked. The fact that I felt energized enough to do that (and had a solid bike as well) is a great sign. My endurance is up, and my body is finally ready for some bricks. It feels good. So good. Afterwards, I did some Yoga and stretching to loosen my hams, quads, and hips. That's been helping a lot. I'm starting a gentle Yoga class this Saturday to enforce my new stretching program.

    I lifted weights today. It actually helped that it was my only workout because I could really focus on the weight-lifting session. My intensity was higher, and I focused on the quality of my form. Slow and controlled lifting. Abs contracted. Felt good. My left lower rib is still very sore, and it is hard to do oblique exercises on that side so I kept that pretty minimal. However, I was able to do light chest and ab exercises. That's an improvement. I only worked on abductors for lower body. I don't want to stress my knees out yet with the race on Sunday. Beginning next week, I'll try to do some squats and see how that goes.

    After my swim Monday, my lower ribs actually felt better. I think the hot tub soak helped a lot too. However, I started feeling like I was having a heart attack Monday night as I went to bed. Turns out, I strained my upper left chest muscle. Compensation injuries, anyone? Tuesday sucked. My ribs felt better but my chest ached a lot! Sneezing was murder. Luckily, it was a minor strain because I did some chest presses today, and it felt fine. I think I'll be able to hit the pool again this week.

    Everything else is pretty good. I'm really trying to eat healthier. Small, frequent meals. Everything I eat counts so I try to make sure it has nutritional quality. I still allow for 1 dessert. I can't give up chocolate! Still, I'm trying to skip dessert some nights. Sleep has been hard with daylight savings. I'm such a night owl. I was doing great beforehand. Not needing naps, feeling more energized, going to bed by midnight, waking up 8-9 hours later. I know. I sleep a lot. What's up with that? However, between the clocks changing this weekend and noisy college students as neighbors (who stay up to all hours having loud conversations on their balcony so that their echoes reverberate around the stucco building), I've been sleeping like crap. I am totally refusing to resort to sleeping pills this time so instead, I've resorted to late afternoon, 2-hour naps. I feel very well-rested, and I'm able to get all my stuff done, but it has totally thrown my schedule off. Why is this so hard for me?

    All in all, my injuries are healing, and I actually feel stronger than I did a few weeks ago. My energy levels are starting to rise, and I actually am starting to get ancy if I don't do some sort of exercise in the day. All good signs.

    In lab, I'm breeding mice, and I think some of my females are going to have pups next week. This will be my first time. I'm so excited! I don't think they like me checking on them every day though. Anyway, I almost feel like they're my own pups. I've been telling everyone in lab that I'm going to have pups next week!

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Hanging in there

    Guess I'm doing pretty well, consistency-wise. Managed to do a treadmill run plus weights on Saturday. Followed by stretching. Sunday, biked on the trainer for an hour. Followed by stretching. Monday (today), biked to and from lab. Then swam in the pool for a bit.

    The rib muscle definitely hurt, and definitely limited my stroke twist, reach, and mobility, but I was able to hang in there for a solid 30 minutes. I found if I focused on my form and slowed down the pace, I could swim pretty effectively. Matter of fact, it may have even been conducive to helping me find a stable pace and maintaining a straight form. I also increased the frequency of my kicks, which also seemed to help.

    It hurt the most during the first 5 minutes before subsiding to a dull ache. To be honest, bringing my legs up to push off the wall hurt the most. Backstroke hurt the least. I limited the swim to 30 minutes before making myself get out. (I wasn't tired and wanted to do more so at least my endurance is better!) I want to see if it hurts more, less, or the same tomorrow before swimming again. This was sort of a test. If it hurts more, I'll know I can't swim until it gets better. If it's the same or less, I'll know I can swim a bit without injuring myself long as I'm careful. I followed the swim by a nice soak in the hot tub for 10 minutes, which felt delightful.

    It hurts!

    see red lightning bolts. now you know why it hurts to breathe!

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    Resting, Injured, and Frustrated

    Between my pulled rib muscle and my messed up knee/IT band, there's not much I can do. It hurts to sleep! Ugh. I'm so discouraged. I've been resting and trying to do a little here and there but everything hurts.

    Yesterday, I ran on the treadmill. 3 miles. Slow. 30 minutes. I could do it with minimal pain if I went verry slowly (about 5.8-6.0 mph) on an incline no less than 1.5. There was some pain after 2.5 miles, but it was manageable if I leaned forward slightly and translated the pain to my hips. I stretched lots before and after. I keep telling myself that it's getting better. On Tuesday, I could barely run for 15 minutes before my knee was screaming in pain. However, it hurt to walk afterwards and was still very sore this morning.'s still injured. Sucks.

    I did some weight lifting afterwards. My rib muscle is still pulled but it's somewhat better. It's taking forever to heal b/c you can't just stop using it. Every time I roll over in bed, it hurts! It was much easier to work through the pain than my knee, however, and I was able to manage a quality lifting session. I think the activity actually made it feel better.

    So I'm frustrated. I'm not working out nearly as much as I'd like and I'm so worried of losing everything. I was supposed to fly north this weekend to see my folks and run a little race with my dad. Between my knee and being crazy-busy in lab, I scrapped the race and cancelled the plane tickets. I'm feeling a little frazzled. The Carlsbad 5000 is next weekend. I was so looking forward to it, but now I don't know if my knee will be able to hold up! This sucks. The season hasn't even started and I feel like I'm already out of the game. Sigh.