Friday, September 29, 2006

Another busy week...

Well I guess the 'roids are working (thyroid, that is). I'm officially doping. I can't believe how much better I've been feeling these past few weeks. I got a trim yesterday, and the stylist couldn't believe how much my hair had grown since the last time I'd seen him. He thought it was freakish. I take it as a good sign.

Monday was a day off. I was so sore from climbing the mountain and the dreadful 12 mile Penasquitos Canyon run Sunday, plus the snorkeling with the leopard sharks off La Jolla Shores in crazy, white-cap, choppy water.

Tuesday, we did our first club track workout. It was AWESOME. I was so sore afterwards though. It didn't help that I was sore when I started too. My legs felt like jello. We did a warm-up mile easy. 1 lap of "strides" which I later learned was just a quick, acclerating pace where you sprint on the long sides and shorten on the short sides. Then, we paired up and did a "baton" relay. We each ran 1 lap with the baton while the other partner rested before handing off the baton and letting our partner go. We did this 4x each before switching partners and repeating for a total of 3 sets (12x or 3 miles). It was great! I nearly died the 3rd lap, right off the bat, but felt stronger and stronger as I kept going. I was able to cut time off and then maintain it (fastest 1:15, avg 1:30, slowest 2:00). I guess all that base training really helped. Plus, it was a great way to meet people.

Wednesday, I did my own thing. A great free-weight session followed by a solid tempo ride on the trainer while watching re-runs of Lost. It's my first time. My sister got me into it. It's actually quite a captivating show they got going on.

Thursday, I eeked in a quick pool swim at the gym next to where I work. It's a cute, little gym that I recently "discovered." It's very well hidden and small so not a lot of people use it. I like having a whole pool to myself, even if it is only 4 lanes and 25 yards instead of meters. I did sprints followed by a solid 500m "endurance" set. I love sprints (well, okay--100m, not 200s, 200s suck)! They make me feel fast, even if I do want to puke by the end.

Friday, I snuck in a 4 mile run before rushing off to the cove for a swim with the tri club. Not a lot of people showed up. I guess the whole fall, less daylight, colder water, end-of-the-season, school-has-started thing. I went in anyway. FREEZING! It was 70 on Sunday (snuggly) and 60 today (ack!). Plus, the swells were huge. I swam out with a group to the first 1/4 mile buoy. Then, everyone else went back in b/c it was too cold and choppy. Wusses. I felt good at this point. Afterall, I was wearing my suit of armor er, wetsuit. So I kept going. Made it to the 3rd buoy. Swam towards the Shores a bit before turning back.

I always feel like going back is harder than going out. It was getting dark, and at this point, I realized I was all alone. Out there all by myself, in the middle of the great big ocean, with lots of waves. Ugh. I just kept swimming at this point. The whole swimming-in-the-ocean-in-the-dark thing still really freaks me out. I conjure "things" in my head and they "appear." A dark shape beneath. What was that!? The play of shadows on a wave next to me....was that another swimmer? Hey! I'm not alone! Wait...Was it....a creature?! AAAAAAHHH! Oh, it was nothing. Okay. I focused on the houses above the cliffs, and focused on slowing my breathing and taking long, slow strokes. I made it back, unscathed (and un-seasick!).

Tomorrow--we have our last long run planned before the big half-marathon next week.
And Sunday--we're biking the Tour de Poway. A hilly 44 mile ride. Yippee!

Somehow, all this activity, and it never feels like enough. Ack. I'm so sore....I like it that way.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Per Request--Bike Porn

By popular demand, I have provided the following pics demonstrating how I've pimped my bike. Enjoy...

1. new clip-on aerobars (specially fitted to the bike with me on it)

2. Compact cranks to replace the triple ring (so no more knee pain b/c the angle from my hip to knee is straighter; yay!)
3. The whole kit and kaboodle. Isn't she sweet?

4. Modeling the bike in the new-and-improved aero position, of course.

5. Last, but not least, upgraded Look pedals. Very zippy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Busy, busy--catch up on recent events

I can't believe how busy I've been and how long it's been since I've had a chance to catch up.

The aerobars are great. Pics are coming soon. The aerobars were fitted to my bike (while I was on it) at a great local bike shop so I'm able to use it as a road bike and also enjoy the aero position at the same time. In addition, I upgraded my clipless pedals (Look) and swapped out my triple chain ring for compact cranks. I also got the whole thing tuned up, including cleaning, lube, new brake pads, and a new chain. I got new race tires a few months ago. Can we say pimped out? It's awesome. I'm lovin' it.

The thyroid medication has been working. I've leaped back into workouts at full throttle. Part of me wants to get back into shape (and lose the muffin top I've gained), and the other part (the main part), is just having a blast. I logged in 11 hours the week before and 8 hours last week, which is more than I've done all year! It seems like a lot but it feels right. I'm eating better, sleeping better, and sticking to a routine more consistently.

Last week, Tammy from Seattle visited and joined us for an ocean swim at La Jolla Shores. It was such a pleasure to meet another fellow blogger! I can't wait to do it again. My sister, Erin from UC Davis, visited for a long weekend last week, and we had a blast. The two of us went snorkeling at the Shores and saw tons of leopard sharks (harmless). It was awesome. They flock here to breed every fall. We were surrounded by them (up to 7-8 at a time), and they were very docile. Each one had slightly different leopard spots, colors, and patterns. Some of them were huge (~7 feet long)! The surf was really rough though, and we were buffeted about pretty badly. Thank God for buoyant wetsuits! I've never seen it that choppy off the Shores. We could see whitecaps all the way out to sea.

Saturday, Jason and I participated in the tri club's Pine Valley Duathlon. Basically, we drove up to this little town east of San Diego at 4000 feet and then biked up this mountain. We biked 17 miles up to Mt. Laguna in the Cleveland National Forest, reaching 6000 feet.

I know this doesn't sound like much for most of you who don't live at sea level but, believe me, my lungs felt it. Big time. Imagine biking straight up a mountain on windy switchback roads with no shoulder and a cliff to the right of you with speedy little sports cars doing their weekend joy rides to the left of you. Oh, and add hurricane-like gusts of wind coming down the mountain and sudden gusts coming at you from the sides, making a deafening squealing sound for the first 8 miles. It was like biking up a mountain in a wind tunnel.

It sounds like I'm exaggerating. Like I'm an old granddaddy telling his grandkids they have it easy, and when he was a kid, he had to walk uphill through the snow to school for 5 miles--both ways. And he had to eat nails for lunch. And he liked it! No, but seriously, that's what's so incredible. It's not an exaggeration. It was crazy. My upper body was sore from gripping the handlebars like grim death to keep the bike upright. I was scared, no terrified, a few times that I was going to be blown over.

And then my lungs started screaming. And my throat was burning. The air was so thin and dry, and the wind was bone-chilling. My eyes were watering and my nose was running, and my head was pounding from the lack of oxygen. A few times, the grade was so steep, I had a hard time turning the pedals over. 6 mph, the whole way up, in my lowest gear. We were afraid to stop because if we did, we weren't sure we could get enough momentum to get going again.

But then it started leveling off, and we realized we could clearly see the Anza-Borreogo Desert below us (a lot of dirt), and we were surrounded by pine trees and cows. I also saw a few turkey vultures, struggling to fly through the wind. I was just hoping they weren't waiting for us to keel over. At the top, the club had arranged a kick-ass picnic with chicken fajitas, sweet strawberries, all sorts of soda, Gatorade, fruit juice, and muffins, brownies, etc. Good thing too, because I had been hallucinating waffles and bacon just a few miles back. Giddy with the feeling of accomplishment for making it up the mountain (and lack of oxygen), we ate and chatted (I, on very wobbly legs).

Then, we turned around and biked back down. It was awesome. Like a well-earned treat. I didn't pedal for 10 miles. No, I had to use my brand-spankin' new brake pads. I had to brake to 40 mph. I just didn't feel comfortable flying around the switchbacks (no shoulder) at a faster pace. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

My legs, needless to say, were toast. Jason and I, stupidy, tried to do a 12 mile run in the Penasquitos Canyon on Sunday but we ended up walking a lot. It was hot, dusty, and my legs were very mad at me.

Earlier this week (Thursday), I did the club Aquathlon at the Shores (1000 meter swim/3 mile run), which was great. I passed a guy at the end who wasn't too happy about it, and he rallied with me almost to the end (don't worry; I kicked his butt).

Last weekend, I also had the chance to try out my new aerobars, which I love. I feel stronger and more efficient in them. I feel like I can go forever. It's amazing. I ended up going 37 miles and had only planned on going 20. Note to self: do not add Gu to your water unless you don't want to drink the rest of the way home. Bleck! It was very scenic--gorgeous horses that made my heart ache, hot air ballons, hanggliders, surfers, the ocean, pelicans swooping down the coast for the evening dinner patrol, a gorgeous sunset--doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, September 18, 2006


I got AEROBARS!!!! And I LOVE them!!!! (I'm pimpin' my bike.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Triathlon and the Drill Seargent

There was an article in September's issue of Triathlete magazine titled, "The legend of Mr. Triathlon," that really struck a chord with me. In this article, the author describes trying to silence the perfectionist within and balance his competitive edge with being healthy and having fun. It's definitely easy to overdo it. Why else would we read so many articles on overtraining (and then write them off b/c they don't apply to us)?

There is a drill seargent that sits on my shoulder and shouts orders. I always feel compelled to obey, although I don't as much anymore (I have a couch potato on the other shoulder; some people have angels and devils; I have drill seargents and couch potatoes). He's always shouting, "Eat less! Work harder! Exercise more! Go farther, faster, harder! Be perfect!" Sometimes, I ignore him and am happy with what I can do. Other times, my drill seargent tears apart and tells me I'm no good.

I used to think I was alone in obsessing about the "perfect" body image, shape, and weight. That I was the only one in the gym for hours on end, ensuring I got my exercise in. Even though the AHA only recommended about 6 hours of physical activity a week (including gardening and cleaning), that didn't apply to me. No. That wasn't acceptable for me. I had to go above and beyond that.

I never actually had an eating disorder but I walked the line. I definitely had/have body image issues. Everyone has one body part they hate. My nemesis is my gut (on many levels b/c I also suffer from IBS). I can't stand the pooch that poofs out over my pants. I used to obsess about it (I still do to some extent). I wanted to have "Britney Spears abs" (before she had kids, obviously) and began doing several hundred sit-ups a day, upping the cardio, and counting calories.

Never mind that the actresses in Hollywood and models on the catwalks are unhealthy, all have eating disorders, and all have plastic surgery. Never mind that their bodies aren't naturally like that. I became obsessed with making my body conform to that image. And I'm a smart person. I know all about eating disorders, the media, the hype, that these bodies aren't "real." And I still tricked myself into this mindset. I love the recent news stories on the new restrictions on super-skinny runway models. (They won't be allowed to participate in fashion shows unless they have a B.M.I. of at least 18, which means the minimum weight for the average, 5'9" model is 120! Over 1/3 of them won't meet this requirement. Models with BMIs of 16 or below will receive medical intervention. The model agencies are arguing that this is discrimination against naturally thin people. Puh-lease! No one that eats well and is 5'9" or taller weighs 90 lbs!!!),,3-2349467,00.html,23663,20393440-5007192,00.html

The majority of the country is overweight or obese (statistics from the NIH, based on BMI).
There are people who really do benefit from nutritionists, balanced but restricted diets, food journals, etc. And everyone should exercise and eat healthfully. But then there are others who really should eat more. I've never been able to be happy at my "healthy" weight. At 5'8", 130 lbs., I'm naturally lean. I should be happy. My BMI (body mass index, which is height in meters squared, divided by weight in kg) is 20, right there on the low side of healthy, according to the NIH (Normal is between 19 and 24).
(You can calculate your BMI at the following website:

However, I still have this damn "pooch" that I find unacceptable. I think my low point was on a hot, humid run in St. Louis one brutal summer day. I was pushing my pace, like always, and felt awful. I felt naseous and sick. Jason told me to stop, and I refused. He asked why I wouldn't just take a walk break. My answer was, "Not unless I fall down, pass out, or throw up." Then I actually began wishing for one of those things to happen in order to justify slowing down.

A few months after dieting and spending hours upon hours at the gym, I began suffering from minor overuse injuries from running every day. I started mixing in swimming. Then came the bike. Triathlon followed shortly after. It seemed like fun. That's a good thing. Like a great way to apply all that fitness I had been building at the gym. It also seemed like a great way to legitimize the unhealthy mindset I had adopted. "Oh, I can't eat that b/c I'm in training. I have to exercise this much b/c I'm training."

In my first season of triathlon, my largest week load was 18, and I was averaging 15, enough for an Ironman. I was doing sprints. After completing a few races during my first season, I suffered from fatigue, overuse injuries, and was fast-approaching burn-out. I read an article about overtraining and realized my symptoms fit to a tee. I realized if I didn't cut back on training and rest more, I wouldn't be able to keep it up, and my performance would suffer.

A transition ensued. Instead of caring about body-image, I focused on performance. Triathlon began transforming the way I perceived myself. It wasn't about how I looked, it was about what I could do. I have become much better at listenign to my body and allowing myself to cut back and rest when I need it. But I'm not perfect (hmmm. new concept). I still err on doing too much and beat myself up for not doing more.

Focusing too much on performance can also trigger my drill seargent. It's like swapping one obsession for another. I admit, I walk a fine line. It's great to have a competitive edge and strive to be healthy and active. But, especially with triathlon, there's a fine line that I must walk on--to do enough, but not too much. It's not like a drug addiction, where you cut the drug out of your life forever. I hope to always eat a balanced diet and lead an active lifestyle. But I'm learning when to ignore the drill seargent and listen to my body and when the drill seargent might positively motivate me to push my limits and see how far I can go and what amazing goals I can achieve.

Time to go for a run. Nothing makes me feel more alive than my heart pounding in my chest and the sweat dripping down my chin. Good music in my ears and the rhythm of my feet pounding the dirt beneath me. The smell of the salt water from the ocean and the sight of pelicans flying overhead. It's all about keeping it fun.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

On a Break...

Been kind of taking it easy and relaxing a bit. Need to get this hypothyroid-thing under control. Everything's fine! Will be back up and blogging soon.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Thurs night swim, "maintenance" phase, and falling asleep tips

Took a late afternoon nap yesterday. So bad but felt so good. Woke up and dragged myself to the pool. I'm so glad I did. I had a great swim. It's great swimming the last hour before the pool closes because I took fewer breaks, trying to get in as many laps as I could before quitting time. (Stupid pool closes at 8; how lame is that?)

I warmed up with a nice, relaxing 50m each of breast, free, back (x3). Then did some drill work to get back to basics and think about form. I'm much stronger and more balanced on my right than on the left. On the left, I tend to sink more. Plus, I'm trying to work on recruiting my core muscles when I twist to give me a little extra propulsion through the water. On the right, this works out well; my body seems to know what I'm talking about. On the left, it's not quite there; I actually jerk backwards a little before twisting forward from the hips. I'm going to have to work on body positioning a bit more on this side.

Followed drills with a set of 500m free at medium pace. Felt easy and strong. Then, did a stroke counting drill where I swam to the right 25 meters, back to the left 25 meters, and then repeated trying to take 1 off each time. Counting every time my "breathing" arm hit the water, I was able to manage 9 to the right, and 9.5 to the left. Again, gotta work on the hip twisting thing.

Finished with a very short sprint set--3 laps (150). It was awesome. Definitely the most fun. I focused on long, sleek strokes and gliding through the water. I remembered watching the pros for some championship on t.v. last weekend and how high they rode on the water, as if they were on top of a wave. I tried to find that wave and propel my body just on top of the swell, letting the water carry me through. Again, to the right, the swell was slightly more pronounced than the left but the overall feeling was amazing. Like a a dolphin.

I would have liked to do 2 more sets of this but everyone else had gotten out and the 2 lifeguards were standing over my lane, waiting for me to get out. It really creeped me out so I finished up and got out. Sigh. The best part was how fresh I felt at the end. I couldn't believe it.

Since my season is just about over, I'm trying to hold back and go into a "maintenance and recovery" phase. I'm still working up to a half marathon in October but I feel my base is solid enough that I won't have to work too hard to get through it. I want to be well rested and fresh when I start thinking about next season so right now, I'm trying to hold back and enjoy myself. Do a workout 6 days a week and have fun with it. Then, I'll reassess draw up new goals, and begin working on my weaknesses during a long base phase for the off season. I think it's a good sign I'm rarin' to go but I'm holding back after my long illness.

On a side note, that damn nap I took really made it difficult to fall asleep last night. Let's review falling asleep tips:
1. no caffeine late in the day (that includes soda and many power drinks or gu).
2. no naps!
3. wind down an hour before bedtime.
4. get things cleaned up and organized for the next day so it's not "hanging over your head."
5. journal for 5-10 minutes to clear your head.
6. take a hot shower or bath to let your core temp drop.
7. sip some hot chamomile tea spiked with skim milk (not too much or you'll be peeing all night).
8. turn off the t.v., dim the lights, and read for 15 minutes before turning off the light and drifting to sleep.
9. if you find your mind racing, I do the following exercise:
Picture the colors of the rainbow individually, starting with red and ending in violet.
Focus on one color at a time and only that color. Other thoughts may drift in and out but they are only
background noise.
Let that color fill your mind until it is so vivid, you are surrounded in it and feel as if you can reach out
and touch it.
To help, think of objects that are that color--for red--an apple, cherry, or fire engine.
Let the objects fade and the color bleed over and fill up the empty space of your mind. Let your mind
soften as you would let your vision soften to increase peripheral vision, and the color should grow very
You may fall asleep before you reach violet, and that is okay. If your mind begins to drift, let it. You're
trying to fall asleep so that's okay. The color focus exercise just stops your mind from racing.

Okay, since I have falling asleep down so well, can anyone out there tell me how to wake up? I have such a struggle...even with an alarm clock!

Totally Awesome Wed Bike Ride

I posted this earlier, but I think it got buried so I moved it up. (Comments were moved to the bottom of the post).

To be honest, I like training solo. It allows me to meditate and stay in my zone without worrying about anything else. Plus, I can do it on my schedule. That's why it's been hard to motivate myself to go to some of the great club workouts.

Rode my bike in this morning in my work clothes. Wrapped things up at a decent time. Ate half a Pria bar to quell a small but growing hunger pang in the stomach. Filled up the water bottle halfway and clip-clopped out the door all suited up in my bright purple jersey with a little baby yellow chick on the front with the words "Biker Chick" on the front. Aren't I cute? Took off down the road.

Only problem with riding down Hwy 101 at 5:30 is the rush-hour traffic. Somehow, I'm invisible to cars at this time. I can't believe how many cars I had to avoid as they decided that the bike lane was a third lane that no other vehicle was in but they had the magical privelege to go in to zip down and rush past the standstill traffic. Plus, drivers hate to see cyclists zipping past them when they're sitting still. It's like, "Hey! That's not fair." Hey! It's called bike commuting. Look into it! Oh, and there were also the cars parked on the right-side of the bike lane that decided to run through the bike lane into traffic without looking for the invisible cyclist (why do I bother wearing these hideously colored jerseys if drivers are going to ignore me anyway?). Oh, and then there are the cars that decided to pull over in front of me and cut me off and then back off into me. What is this? Do they have a hit out on me? Let's try to hit Rachel day! But I digress...

I managed to avoid the harrowing traffic and melt into a zone. I felt very quick and strong. I tailed 2 cyclists for awhile and then took off in front when the traffic thinned, much to the dismay of the younger male cyclist. He later sprinted past me at a stoplight. Whoa. I'm impressed. You just risked life and limb so you could pass a girl. How cool.

I reached Encinitas and had to avoid a few surfers darting across the road with their surfboards. Sigh. Only in Cali do cyclists have to watch for surfers. However, I did enjoy watching them catch waves in the Pacific on the way back. Like sharks in the sea, they bobbed up and down, dotting the surf as the sun set in the background. How poetic.

There was a great stretch in Solana Beach where it was relatively flat and I was able to go up into my big gear at 94 rpm and 23 mph and sustain it for a period. Ah. Felt so good. I relished being able to cycle like one of the pros. Or dream I was. But I felt strong. Normally, I ride in that in-between zone where I want to shift the small chain into a gear too hard for the middle ring but too easy for the big ring. I've been in limbo like that for months. I'll shift into 3rd and try to sustain it but my rpm will drop into the low 80s. Then I shift back into 2nd and my rpms are around 110. I'll shift up in the small ring and my chain rubs. So I go back and forth. It was so nice today to be able to stay in the big gear for more than 30 seconds. I'll just have to keep working on it.

Turned around at Swami's in Encinitas. Was it just me or can I ride farther in a shorter amount of time? Seems like it. My training rides used to be only 15 mph. Today, I averaged 16-17 mph and that included the tough climb up Torrey Pines (which wasn't as hard as I remember; is this possible?) Coming back was very nice. The sun setting over the ocean to my right. Hot air balloons in Del Mar on my left. Hang gliders by Black's Beach. Surfer's galore everywhere. Runners. Cyclists. Egrets in San Elijo's Lagoon. The line of pelicans flying over the beach at 6:30, making their routine evening feeding rounds. Like clockwork. I never feel alone out there.

I didn't need Jason to make it home this time (out and back is pretty fail-safe). He's making a great steak dinner (great post-ride recovery meal to feed those muscles!) and complaining that I stink as I type this. Gotta go hit the showers.

Comments (from earlier):
At 4:46 AM, Jenö said...
Well done and well posted! I love reading about rides/runs where things just seem to work and leave you wanting more. Good job!
At 6:40 AM, Jodi said...
There is something so peaceful about a workout by yourself. I used to love my morning runs when I lived in Melbourne, Australia. I saw the same things everyday and it was so soothing! Seeing the hot air balloons go up, the buses go by, the same people going to work. It really helped me get into a groove.I'm impressed that you braved that traffic. I've become a little bike-shy since I crashed last month. Need to get that back!