Sunday, December 31, 2006

2007 Resolutions

Happy New Year!!!

Here's to a fresh start and many great opportunities in 2007!

Resolutions 2006 Recap:
Before I dive into 2007 resolutions, I want to reflect on how I did in 2006.
These were my resolutions:
1. Regular exercise and healthy eating.
2. Early to bed and early to rise.
3. Be independent.
4. Less is more (Quality not quantity).

I have to say I did pretty damn well on these! I'm kind of proud of myself, if I do say so myself. I have #1 completely covered. I had taken a break and allowed my fitness to slide while I defended my thesis in St. Louis. I resolved to get back into shape, and moving to San Diego and entering the crazy-hot world of triathlon here fixed that.

For #2, this has been on my resolution list for several years in a row. I finally am getting this one down. Sounds so small, but I am ecstatic about it. Figuring out I was fighting a lot of fatigue because of low thyroid was a big step in the right direction. Half-IM training did the rest. So did signing up for an a.m. spin class.

I am definitely better at being more independent. After moving to a new place, it can be intimidating figuring out where everything is since I didn't know anyone. I've met so many people through joining the tri club. That was a great decision. With Jason in graduate school, I often have to go it alone when he gets swamped studying. I went on lots of solo bike rides (with cell phone handy for emergencies) in '06. The pinnacle was flatting, fixing it, and continuing on my way all by myself.

For the "less is more" resolution (more of a mantra), I am definitely better at dropping the "all or nothing" attitude. Sometimes, work gets hectic or life gets in the way. Fitting in a little workout is better than none at all. I'm not perfect at this one (I still want to do it all), but I'm definitely better. The key is being flexible. It's always better to do 1 workout if 2 doesn't fit in. If I have to cut it a bit short on some days, that's okay too. The key is to find a balance.

2006 was a very busy and hectic year for me. I finished my Ph.D. and moved from St. Louis to San Diego. Then, I started my post-doc at Scripps. But it was a great year. I handled the transition very smoothly. After 1 year, thanks to all the activities I was involved with, I definitely feel like this is becoming my new home. I have a great feel for the area, have made some great friends, and things will continue to build from here. It should get easier since I expect fewer drastic changes in '07.

2007 Resolutions:
Here they are!

1. Keep on truckin'.
I am giving myself a pat on the back for '06. I want to continue on my path and keep on doing the same thing b/c it's obviously working. This includes continuing to incorporate the '06 resolutions and making the ones that have gotten better second-nature.

2. Notice the magic in my life.
Things become mundane as I keep to my routine. However, there are signs all over the universe that I am on the right path. I want to continue to watch for these signs, listening for guidance, and following the core spirit inside.

3. Be patient.
I'm not a patient person by nature. I'm actually better than I used to be but I could definitely work on this one more. Things take a long time to develop: relationships, fitness, research. Specifically, my research. I'm taking it as a sign to be patient, stay in the moment, and accept that it's okay for things to be a little slower. There is still progression even if I'm not speeding ahead. And taking things in a little bit more of a slower stride can actually be a good thing.

4. Have less rage (be more positive).
I have adopted a short temper as of late. Little inconveniences can set me off and make it really hard to regain sanity and peace. In addition, it can be very unpleasant for those around me. So if a rain changes my bike plans or if someone takes my parking space, I will work on letting it bother me less. Whoever pissed me off probably did it inadvertantly anyway. There's really very few things that justify becoming enraged in life. This sort of goes hand-in-hand with the patience resolution.
a. Along the same line, I will also try to be more tolerant and accepting of others and not jump to judgements about strangers because of what they're wearing or their haircut.
b. Finally, I will try to be less "affected" by others. Who cares what others think? They're probably not thinking anything anyway (I've always been a bit sensitive).

5. Give back.
One way I used to have less rage and be more positive was by volunteering. In St. Louis, I volunteered for the House Rabbit Society, an organization that rescues rabbits and educates people about what great pets they make. I miss volunteering. I don't have a ton of time but I think I could carve out some time each month to give back and lend a hand. I love animal rescue so I'm definitely leaning that way. One organization around here that I'm really interested is Project Wildlife ( For one, you can't adopt a wild animal so my menagerie is sure to maintain its current number. In addition, if I see something I can do on a daily basis to make this a little bit of a better place to live, I want to do it. Smile at strangers, hold the door for people carrying bags, the simple everyday things that are so easy to do but so easily missed. Finally, I am going to start recycling again (now that I know the recycling center is at the community center behind our apartment!).

6. Finish my long-term to do list.
I have many lists, and they really help me stay organized. My short-term to do list always gets done. But when something seems like a bigger task, I delegate to the long-term list where it stays indefinitely. Some items have been on this list for years. In '07, I plan on freeing myself by tackling these items for good.

7. Organize my finances.
I have a "budget" but its more like an account of my spending. I want to pay more attention to my spending habits and pay off our credit card debts. I want to work on saving a bit more and avoiding wasteful spending. For one, I plan on eating in more and cooking more. Less Starbucks! Finally, I want to open a 2nd savings account and put a small percentage in there each month for fun/extraneous items. Instead of charging it, I can look in the savings account for my "allowance" for things like clothes, books, or eating out.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Stomach Bug for X-Mas and Flatted on the Trainer

Just back into town and am recovering. From what, you say? Well, turns out, I got another stomach bug. Thanks Santa! My Mom had a cold when I visited, and I think I got it from her, and it morphed into a stomach-thing. All I know is that I've been dizzy with a nasty headache and very upset tummy for the past few days. Great way to melt off those extra, unwanted holiday pounds! Not.

Luckily, this is a much-needed R&R week. I wonder if I've been pushing it and this is my body's way of telling me to rest. Funny that the bug coincided on an R&R week. Good planning, don't you think? I've been noticing the cumulative toll of my workouts--feeling very sluggish and slightly cranky.

Last week, I actually got all my workouts in. The bikes were short b/c we were forced to go on the trainer a lot but the past couple of weeks, the mileage has been really high. Besides, I still got on the bike and rode the crap out of it 3 times. I did the best I could, and I know it will be fine come race day.

We actually went in the ocean for a short swim last Thursday. I woke up so dizzy I could barely walk. I think it's an inner ear thing. Let's go swimming in the ocean! Smart, eh? Well, I felt much better that afternoon, took some Sudafed and wore earplugs. The surf was a bit rough, and it was disconcerting that no one else was in the water. At least the lifeguard would have a good view of us! I was worried it would be really cold. The temperature report had said 59 degrees--the coldest I have been in. No worries! With my wetsuit and thermal cap, I was toasty! It was fantastic. I was elated. I can swim in cold water...with the right equipment.

Friday morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 6 a.m. for a morning bike ride up the coast before our flight later that morning. I had it timed perfectly. I was so proud for getting up early too; I had been up later than I wanted the night before packing and getting ready to go, and I'm not a morning person. As I'm getting dressed and getting our water bottles ready, Jason opens the door. It's pouring outside. Just pouring. Around here, that doesn't mean much. I figure it will stop in 10 minutes. We have to be back by 9 a.m. so I continue getting ready. If I have to cut the ride a little short, that will still be okay. Then, I realize I have a flat. What? My last ride was on the trainer. I think I'm the only person ever to get a flat on the trainer. Call Guiness. So I changed it, feeling the rage creep up my shoulders. Not fair! I put all this time and energy into my last long ride before going out of town and now this! Luckily, I'm pretty good at changing flats so 10 minutes later, we were heading out the door. A little rain wasn't going to stop me. We finally get outside, and the skies open up again. Pouring again. I think God was trying to tell me something that day. A bike ride just wasn't in the forecast. Some of you toughies may revel riding in the rain, but not me. Slippery, wet, cold...forget about it. I turned to Jason and motioned with a hand under my throat...Cut it. I went back inside and hooked my bike up to the trainer for really hard trainer ride and rode out the rage. It worked. By the time I was getting off at 9 am, I felt much calmer. Of course, that's when the skies cleared, the rain stopped, and the sun came out. Very weird.

Sunday, we went on our long run. 5 miles out and 5 miles back for a total of 10 miles on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Gorgeous, no traffic, along a creek, mostly flat--it's perfect. For some reason, I felt verrrry sluggish. Cumulative fatigue from multiple workouts? I got through it but it was challenging. Normally, I'm in a very lively group for my long runs, and I think this usually helps the time go faster too. Whatever it was, I felt very sloooow. It's frustrating. I've been working so hard and getting slower and slower. I realize I'm training for a long distance and have to give up my speed but I didn't realize how much! I used to be able to maintain 9 min/miles for my half-marathon pace. Now? It's 10. Yes. 10. That sucks! I'm very frustrated b/c I KNOW I used to be able to go faster. I'm having a difficult time coming to grips with this.

This run concluded the final Base1 week, which was lucky. I was too sore from the run on Monday to do anything. Plus, a nasty headache that wouldn't go away crept up. Jason and I took my Dad's bikes out for a very nice, relaxing ride on Tuesday but I didn't feel any better afterwards. Wednesday, the stomach bug came. Today, I feel better but I'm SO tired! The headache is finally gone, and the stomach is only twitching ocassionally so I think it's mostly through. Argh. So frustrating. This training stuff is really getting to me.

Other than that, our trip to see my folks was very relaxing and non-eventful. Very nice Christmas. Santa was good to me this year. It's nice to be home with the bunnies again. Oscar was very cute when I got home. Bouncing all around me like a little puppy. I think they missed me. I'm working on my New Years' Resolutions. I love New Years. Fresh start. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! We're off to go see my family in Nor Cal. The bunnies are guarding the fort.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rudolph bike ride

It seems really challenging right now to maintain my routine. The end of the year is coming, and I feel the tell-tale pressure to get everything wrapped up before 2007. I do this to myself every year. I realized yesterday that it's silly to kill myself at the end of each year. I'm not a procrastinater by nature, and I've learned by now that if it's on my list, it will get done accordingly. So I've decided to do what I can but to maintain my routine. Still challenging, nonetheless. The dirty apartment? It can wait until I get back (big sigh). The massive amount of genotyping I'm up to my eyeballs in at lab? I'll do what I can but it will be here waiting for me when I get back. I have to let go.

I'm going out of town at the end of the week, and I've planned my workouts accordingly. I'll do all my bikes for the week before leaving so I won't have to worry about that. Holiday parties and extra socialzing events as well as shopping and baking are actually uncharacteristically seeping into my life (begrudgingly). It's not that I don't like socializing or baking. It just breaks my routine. And I'm all about my routine.

Yesterday, after my late afternoon nap, I dragged my wrecked bod to the massage therapist's office. It was much-needed, although she tried to urge me to get in my pre-planned swim workout for the day. I refused. I was just simply too sore and trashed from the weekend. My body told me I needed a day off. I had to judge whether it was laziness or actual fatigue. My evaluation? Fatigue. I ate well and went to bed early.

The massage, food, and extra sleep did me good. This morning, I dragged myself out of bed and hopped on the bike. It was a good thing I didn't realize how cold it was outside (low 40s). Thinking the temps would be a good 10 degrees warmer, I left my ear muffs and thermals at home. Thankfully, I wore biking tights, a windbreaker, and gloves, which saved the day. I can run in the cold, no problem. But biking? That wind just cuts me to the core. It's brutal.

As I coasted down the hill and tried to warm up, I grimaced. It was painful. Once my face, fingertips, and toes went numb, I felt better. Eventually, the sun came out, and we reached a gentle hill, and I began to warm up. I've never been so happy to see an uphill climb before! We rode a 15 mile loop close to our apartment to keep things simple. There was hardly any traffic, and it was a very relaxing recovery ride. At the end, I said, "That wasn't so bad!" meaning the cold. Jason took one look at me and said, "Okay, Rudolph!" My nose was bright red. It makes me happy to say this because this would have been a tough workout a few short months ago, not an easy recovery ride. Things are changing. In addition, is it just my imagination or is it becoming easier to wake up in the morning? Oops. I shouldn't have said that.

Lab has been brutal today. Long day. I'm off to the pool. I will go. I will go. It may be cold, and the pool is outside, and the first 10 minutes will suck, but I will focus on the hot tub awaiting afterwards. Then, I have to make a pumpkin pie for tomorrow's lab party. I'm hoping to do weights while it bakes. Multitask, right?

I can't even think about how busy tomorrow will be. One step at a time. One step at a time, and it will all get done.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gummi Bears and Fig Newtons

I've had so much going on and am so exhausted, I don't know where to start. One thing I'm realizing is that the long workouts not only wipe me out but also make me very emotional and cranky. And of course, Jason and I are training together. Great combo. No one warned us about this part of it. All in all, I'm feeling very happy with keeping up with the key workouts and being able to recover in fairly decent time.

Instead of doing my usual laundry list of workouts each day, I've decided to jump to the good stuff--the weekend. First, Friday was a crazy day. I had wanted to bike in the morning and swim in the evening. I was feeling behind in workouts and in lab (typical for the holidays). I had this rushed, panicky feeling all day, which I hate. Plus, I beat myself up for not waking up earlier. I was just tired. We had a party to go to that night, and I really was looking foward to it. By the time I got home from lab, I decided it was more important to have fun at the party and rest up for tomorrow's workouts rather than rush through a swim and feel rushed. Sometimes, you have to prioritize. It's so easy for me to skimp on the socializing and become an exercise-a-holic. I took a deep breath and realized the healthy thing to do was to let it go and have fun. And I did.

This is something I'm learning. How to let go. To not "make-up" missed workouts. To simply move on and start fresh. And to balance a husband with work, training, and a social life. Something always has to give. And that's...okay.

Saturday was an epic workout day. We commenced our crazy workout weekend with a morning preview of the half-ironman bike course we will be riding in March. Because most of it is on the marine base (Camp Pendleton), much of it is closed to civilians. However, I was able to ride the first 20 miles of it (the easy part--apparently, it gets much hillier beyond the "forbidden" zone).

We started out in a group, and I immediately got dropped, as usual. Unfortunately, I kind of pushed it to try and hang on; not a good idea, especially when you're riding 45 miles (long for me). Personally, I think my 23 mph was nothing to sneeze at. Later, we were doomed to discover we had been aided by a strong tailwind.

I had decided to play with nutrition on this ride, knowing it would be more taxing than usual. I had tried Gu on previous rides and couldn't get the stuff down. It tastes like snot to me. I just can't do it. On this ride, I had come armed with my 2 secret weapons: Fat-free Fig Newtons and Gummi Bears. They tasted soooo good and went down very easily. I have the queen of finicky stomachs so if I can handle it, I predict most anyone can. I'm so used to being starved by the end of my bike rides, it was refreshing to feel energized and satiated throughout the ride for once. Eureka! I have stumbled on something here.

The group waited at mile 15 (I hate that--I don't want to be a burden), and I was able to ride with the pack for a bit. I ended up getting dropped going downhill--what's up with that? Why is it that I have to pedal furiously going downhill to keep up while everyone else coasts? I find this phenomenon bewildering and frustrating. I can climb but can't descend? WTF?

To make matters worse, I downshifted to the small ring on one of the climbs and immediately dropped the chain, completely losing the group. Damn! Ever since I changed to compact cranks, this keeps happening to me. I've taken it to the shop once, and they tried to re-align it but I've had it. That's it. I'm getting a new derailer and fixing this cursed chain-dropping thing for good. I have no attack on the hills anymore. Instead, I have pleading. I have to shift up, slow my pedaling, and pray as I carefully, slowly, delicately down-shift to the small ring. Then, I have no momentum for the rest (which is the majority) of the climb. Climbing has become a real pain in the ass, which is no good for around here--it's all hills.

We turned around at mile 25, and I was in a real mood at this point. We had lost the group and were unsure of where they had gone and uncomfortable with finding our way back. There was a very strong headwind (explaining our lightning-quick speed going out), and the temperature had dropped, making it very uncomfortable. I was pissed about my chain, and I had dropped one of my arm warmers earlier in the ride. Plus, my legs felt heavy as I slowed my cadence, pushing a higher gear than I wanted because I was now afraid to downshift for fear of another dropped chain. I was downright cranky. As I eeked out 10 mph, I wondered how I would suffer for another 20 miles.

Suddenly, 2 members of our group appeared. One of them had gotten a flat so they had been held back. I was transformed. I felt elated. I didn't have to worry about not knowing where I was, and I could ride in a pack again (small pack). The 4 of us chatted now and again as we battled the wind. I was suddenly doing 15-17 mph, no problem. The mental state of mind is an amazing beast. I even found my arm warmer, close to the end of the ride, waving in a ditch off the side of the road.

I made it back to the car, 45 miles and 2:45 later, tired but happy. I had done it. And survived. We put on our running shoes and then did a 30 minute run. Yup. This was a brick workout. I was so tired but I knew I could run for 30 minutes. And it actually felt good. I was just happy not to be biking into a headwind anymore. After the first half-mile, my legs warmed up, and I fell into a rhythm.

We spent the rest of the day eating and sleeping, although I did manage to change litterboxes and go out with some friends to a movie (and eat sushi afterwards--the best post-workout recovery meal).

Sunday: As if Saturday wasn't enough, we did our long run with our running group Sunday morning. It was raining when I woke up. I coaxed myself out of bed and into the shower and into my running clothes, and eventually, we were out the door. By the time we reached the meeting spot, the sun had come out and it had stopped raining and was in the mid-50s--perfect running weather. That's San Diego for you. Never cancel something due to rain around here. Just wait 10 minutes. We did a 9 mile run. I was worried about the distance after Saturday but at the turn-around point, I felt really good. My legs didn't hurt, and I actually rallied the group up the hill.

When I first saw the hill, I leaned into Jason and said, "I'm going to take it slow." He just nodded at me. I pushed "Play" on my shuffle and one of my "Power" songs (Eminem) came on--a secret weapon. I felt a surge of energy and decided I was tired of being at the back of the pack. I came up behind the group, shouting, "Attack!" and passed them. The guys behind them rallied with me, and I stubbornly pushed ahead. One of them, a Navy Seal, waited me out. When my song ended 3/4 of the way up the hill, I died. He yelled, "Passing!" and took off with Jason. I didn't see the 2 of them again until the end. Oh, well. It was a lot of fun.

We all went out to breakfast afterwards. Because of the rain, we had to cancel our ocean swim (too much bacteria in the run-off--ewww) so we dragged ourselves to the pool. We had a really good, easy swim.

The rest of the afternoon has been eating and sleeping. It was a tough weekend!

Lessons Learned:
1. You can't make-up missed workouts. Start fresh. Do what you can. Focus on your key workouts.
2. Prioritize. Sometimes, it's okay to miss workouts to lead a balanced life.
3. Training is just as much about building mental toughness as it is physical. Learn to stay positive b/c that fuels the body.
4. Eating and sleeping is key to a fast recovery.
5. Trust your body. You can do it if you build up to it.

Total Weekly Stats:
Swim: 2x; 4000m
Bike: 2x; 67 mi
Run: 3x; 18 mi
Weights: 1x
Total time: 9.25 h
Overall: missed 1 swim, 1 weights, and 1 bike but got in all the key workouts despite it being a hectic week. My body feels stronger.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Gratuitous Bunny Pics!!!

So much to blog about but I've decided the buns haven't had enough press lately. So here you go!

Top: Babs grooming herself. Bottom: Taz squished behind the couch for a nap (he's
jammed in so tight, he had to back out).

Top: Oscar in his box for his nap, in a very grumpy mood. When I tried to get a better pic, all I got was a grunt.
Bottom: When Jason has the camera, Oscar is a ham!

Top: Babs contemplating where she's going to lick next.
Bottom: Taz behind the sofa for a nap (day 2).
Guess he likes to be squished.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Meeting Michellie--"Really Cool"

I have a confession to make. I skipped my workouts yesterday. Why? Well, I didn't care what happened to the rest of the world but at 6 p.m. I was going to be at Road Runner Sports. Why? For the monthly Tri Club San Diego meeting, of course! Not that I go every month, although I usually regret it when I miss it. In addition to free stuff and pizza, there is always an excellent guest speaker. I missed Kate Major last month and have enjoyed Bob Rolland Roch Frey & Paul Huddle at previous meetings. Howver, I couldn't miss tonight's speaker, my all-time favorite:
Michellie Jones!

Michellie has become my favorite pro-female triathlete. She lives in Carlsbad, just north of me and competes in several local races. It seemed as if she was in almost every race I did in 2006! I always thought that was neat--to be racing behind some of the world's greatest athletes. After volunteering at America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon this August, I waited at the finish to cheer Jason on. Since I had led the wheelchair division, I was at the very front. I saw a tall, lean woman come flying down the chute and heard several cries, "Go, Michellie!" It was the first time I had seen her "in person" and it was very surreal. She seems so open, honest, and genuine--someone I can get behind and root for. I was definitely pulling for her to win the World Ironman Championships and was elated when she did.

So when I heard she would be the speaker at our club meeting yesterday, I knew I had to go. Before the meeting started, she stood at the back, wearing her signature pink jersey, signing autographs. Autographs! I had to have one. I told her to make it out to Rachel and she asked, "Is that you?" I was speechless. I wasn't prepared to speak to her! I told her that yes, that was me. She said, "Nice to meet you," in the sweet, characteristic manner that is Michellie. I tried to tell her that I admired her abilities as an amazing professional athlete but all I could get out was that I thought she was "really cool" like a bumbling 12-year-old with a crush. I told her I had cheered her on at the end of America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon, and she responded, "I actually paced myself for that race, and I still blew up at the end," she said with her cute Australian accent. So modest. I wanted to tell her that even if she thought she had "blown up" she was still extremely fast in my eyes and had looked strong at the finish to me. Instead, all I could do was tell her that she had looked "really cool". That's what I said. That she was "really cool". Seriously. I could feel my cheeks burning as I struggled to redeem myself as an intelligent, coherent human being that knows how to carry on a simple conversation. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't get out the words. I think I told her she was "really cool" about 5 times. She was very sweet about it and seemed flattered and somewhat amused by the sympathetic smile she gave me. After she signed my magazine, I took it and scurried back to my chair where I collapsed into a hunched up little ball, shaking with excitment, my cheeks still bright red. Jason, laughing, asked, "What's wrong with you?" He says I'm a "funny, little person".

I feel like Chris Farley in that skit he used to do for SNL, where he would interview a famous celebrity.
"So, remember back when you used to sing for the Beatles?" Farley
"Yeah." McCartney
"That was really cool." Farley (and me with Michellie!)
(Several minutes later, Farley would slap his forehead several times, muttering, "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" Again--this is me.)
I don't understand. I give presentations about lipid metabolism and adipocytes and atherosclerosis in front of intimidating professors all the time. I have a Ph.D. for Pete's sake! And I can't complete a coherent sentence when I meet one of my real-life heroes? Oh, well. All I know is that I'm forbidden to use the word "cool" for 3 months!

Michellie gave a great talk about her decision to do an Ironman. I think it's really incredible that she could win a silver medal at the Olympics for short-course and then win the World Championships for Ironman this year. She spoke about her accomplishments with great humility. She's very modest and emphasized that she's a "normal person who pays the bills and cleans the house just like everyone else." However, she also does Doggie Dashes with her min pins and Paula Newby-Fraser (not normal). She also talked about feeling like sh*t at the end of racing an Ironman and the mental challenges of being faced with running a marathon after biking 112 miles. I was struck by this. She may be able to finish the race in half the time it takes me to complete it but she feels the same things I feel and battles the same issues. That kind of renews my inspiration. Next time I'm out there hurting on a run, for some reason, I find it reassuring to know that Michellie's out there hurting on her runs as well.

proof that MJ actually came and spoke to our club!

In addition to describing her experiences, Michellie shared some insightful and important tips when training:
1. Learn from your mistakes. She said you don't want a "perfect" race because then you have nothing to learn for next time.
2. Know when to stop. It's okay to pull out if you're injured. Don't run through the pain.
3. You have to slow down to go long. This was one of the big things holding her back from going from short to long course. She didn't want to relinquish her speed. She says she's slower now but she's also stronger. This struck a chord with me because I've been beating myself up about not improving my times. Now, I realize I'm not training to go faster. I'm training to go longer. And you can't do both. You have to choose. Sigh.
4. Figure out your nutrition. She takes in about 300 calories an hour. 3 scoops of Carbo-Pro in each water bottle (4 for the bike on an Ironman course) and several gels and gummy worms. She also takes LOTS of electrolytes. I forget how many she takes on the bike but on the run, she takes 2 Thermalyte tablets every mile! She also takes Motivator towards the end of the run to give her a caffeine boost without the tummy upset. (As you can see, I paid close attention to her nutrition advice since I'm working it out myself for my training.)
5. Get lots of sleep and rest.
6. It's the weeks of training and preparation before the race that counts, not the night before (lots of people have insomnia the night before but she believes as long as you're well-rested before that, you should be fine. I've heard this before. Reassuring next time you're tossing and turning!).

All in all, it was great to hear her speak about her experiences. Turns out, she rides horses too! Her mare is actually pregnant right now. Okay, now I'm jealous! I want a horse again!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Week 7--Back on Track

It's been a training blur lately! I feel good though so I must be getting stronger.

Let's see...where did I leave off? Oh, yes, Thursday (previous post).

Thursday afternoon:
Well, after my morning spin (and narrowly missing slicing off poor Babs head with the pedal), I was running around in lab like crazy. At about 3:45 pm, the fog began to roll in off the ocean. I glanced outside for the first time all afternoon, and we were encompassed in a gray, fuzzy cloud. I got chills down my spine, rushed to a stopping point, grabbed my running clothes, and ran into the bathroom to change. My coworkers gave me some odd looks. I love running in mist or rain.

I popped out the door and down the road into the Torrey Pines State Park, which has astonishing views of the valley to the east and the ocean to the west. It felt very surreal running through the cloud, as if I was in Lord of the Rings or some other fantasy. The sun was shrouded in the fog, and I could stare directly at the dim orange orb without hurting my eyes (I know; still not supposed to do that). I passed very few people, although one elderly runner kept pace with me on the way back.
"How far are you going?"
"Just 4. Gotta love this fog."
"Definitely. Funny. Keeps a lot of people away."
That's one of the things I love about the fog and rain. The solitary nature of running by yourself in such an unusal setting. So pensive and meditative. Almsot like being in a dream.

By the time I reached the turn around point, the fog had crept to the east and fallen into the valley below. This cloud was like some creature, creeping across my path. The sun came out, and the skies were blue again, but I could still see the gray remnants of the phenomenon that had just occurred to the east.

A "get it done" day. Woke up early and did the weights. Bike commuted (again), which I am loving. It's a great way to get an extra 40 minutes of biking in and do some active recovery. It also is free energy, I'm finding. Nothing like traffic in the car to suck the energy right out of you. I made myself go to the pool (easier on the bike since I have to actually roll past the pool). There was no one there since it's been so chilly and it was Friday night.

It took me forever to warm up. 15 minutes after zipping up and down the lane, it was more tolerable (although I was still a bit chilled; why can't they heat the pool more?!). We decided to go long to begin to mimic race day. After an easy warm-up of 300, we did 4x500 free with 1 min rest in between. Booring. Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought. I got into a zone and let my mind float. The sound of bubbles under the water and soft trickling as I swim is quite soothing.

Everything was fine until the 3rd set when my too-tight goggles gave me the headache from hell that made me feel as if blood was going to start spurting from my eyeballs. Repressing the urge to rip off the goggles, sacrifice my contacts, and get an eyeful of chlorine, I toggled with the straps until they were almost too loose; I could actually feel a droplet of water sneaking in the side of the gasket. Although this in itself was irritating, the seal held, and it was much, much more preferable to bloody eye sockets. (I have a very-difficult-to-fit face with deep-set, narrow eyes, a high bridge, and a very small face--goggles are always too tight or too loose). I got through the final set uneventfully, blissfuly dashing over to the scalding hot tub afterwards to warm up. I hate being cold! That's one thing I can't stand about swimming in the winter. What's up with these frigid outdoor pools?

Saturday--Tri Club Pine Valley Duathlon (#2):
This was a big workout day. After trying the "duathlon" in September and getting completely obliterated by the bike, we decided to give it another try and battle Mt. Laguna again. Basically, you bike up a mountain. Oh, and also, it's supposed to be a race so lots of wackos actually go as fast as they can. Jason and I just wanted a good workout. Here's the club's description:

TCSD Duathlon Series
Pine Valley Duathlon 17 mile bike/ 4 mile run
Saturday, Dec. 9th, 9:00am
This race is very challenging and scenic. But be warned that some pretty tough competition typically comes out for the Pine Valley Duathlon. Why not get in a good work-out and have fun and food with fellow athletes. As always we will need volunteers to keep the event running smoothly and keep it safe for all participants. Pine Valley Challenging and scenic bike course, a run with a view, TCSD race buffet, what more could you want! This is a must do TCSD 5-Star event.
The bike ride starts in Pine Valley and heads up Sunrise Highway. The first 11 miles are uphill with a few plateaus followed by 6 miles of rolling hills at about 6,000ft. The run course is mainly on an old dirt road with equal amounts of ups and downs. A great view of the desert below comes with the run. It’s roughly an elevation gain of 2100 ft.
The run course: The run will be a two loop run course, two miles per loop. There is an elevation gain of about 220 ft the mile up, 220 ft elevation loss coming down, then back again for the second loop. 220 ft doesn’t sound like much, but your legs will definitely feel it! The surface of the run is a combination of loose dirt, hard pack dirt, rocks and asphalt. If you take the time to look up, it’s an extremely scenic run course. The run course skims along the side of a mountain with a great view of the desert below.

Here's the elevation profile:

Hanging at the back of the pack, we started in Pine Valley, a small mountain town at 4000 ft and biked up to the top of Mt. Laguna at 6000 ft. We climbed 2000 ft in 10 miles. We had to deal with torrential headwinds in September, slowing us to about 5 miles an hour of an agonizingly slow pace. This Saturday was different. Clear, sunny, calm...perfect. The temps hovered in the upper 40s...not too bad with a long-sleeved shirt. I chatted with a few buddies on the way up, and before I knew it, I had crested the summit and was into the 7 miles of rolling hills. Boy, that seemed fast. I couldn't believe how much easier it seemed. I was even able to enjoy the aero position for the rolling hills part. The wind picked up a bit but getting aero helped negotiate that; just a bit nippy with that high altitude wind. We made it to the top in half the time it took us last time--only 1:15. Jason thinks it's b/c we're in better shape. I think it was the absence of wind. Who's right? Who cares! Feeling great (no altitude headaches this time either), I popped on my running shoes and headed up the trail for the 4-mile run. The trail was 1 mile out so we went out-and-back twice. My legs were like rubber, and I just concentrated on not falling to my death below (there were some amazing views of the desert all the way down the mountain) as I negotiated the gravelly, extremely rocky and windy path up. Yes, more up. My quads were not happy. Coming down was great (my lungs said, although my knees sorely disagreed later that night).

Afterwards, I munched on some Christmas cookies and fruit before hopping on the bike, looking foreward to the ride back down. It was not to be. I had forgotten the final 6 miles of rolling hills, which unfortunately, when you're mentally "done" and physically tired and expecting blissful, easy downhill recovery, well, let's just say it sucks. I coasted down the first false hill only to be dismayed by the road leading up in front of it. Grumbling, I shifted back into my small ring, only to drop the chain (a frequent occurrence since switching to compact cranks despite frequent visits to the local bike shops; they say I need a new derailer; argh). Stopping on a curve with no shoulder, I put the chain back on and sheepishly tried to wipe the grease off my hands before continuing. Jason, feeling good, fresh, and annoyingly cheerful, zipped on ahead (he waited for me up ahead). I continued duking it out on the uphills, sweating and cursing in my jacket. On the downhills, the wind picked up, whistling my my ears, making me grateful I had decided to don the jacket for the descent.

Finally, at mile 6.71, when I felt I could take it no more, the road began to curve downwards, gently at first, then steeper and steeper, winding down and around. Yes! I was ecstatic. The headwinds picked up and were brutal. I can't believe what a difference the wind makes! Last time, we had a tailwind going down the mountain and I had to brake to 40 mph to manage the switchbacks. This time, even though I was going down, I still had to pedal to maintain speeds of 25 mph. Still, it felt much better than going up.

In addition to all this, PMS decided to raise its ugly head, triggered by the physical fatigue, I suppose, or just being cruel in the way PMS is. My lower back started to ache from biking, or so I thought. I stood up in the pedals and streteched. The pain intensified. Hmmm. I stretched some more. The pain knifed around my side and down my abdomen. Oh, crap. I hunkered down on the bike like an old woman. Cramps? You have to be kidding me! I don't know why they decided to start then but I concentrated to getting down the mountain (and the bottle of Advil waiting at home for me). I grimaced and gritted my teeth and tried taking deep breaths. I pedaled slowly, trying to work the cramps out. It must of looked like I was doing La Maz down the mountain. Thankfully, I was on the downhill part so the worst was over. I was grateful to reach the bottom where the toasty warm car awaited.

It had taken me an hour to get through the rolling hills part (7 miles). The final 10? 20 minutes with headwind. Go figure.

As if Saturday wasn't brutal enough, we decided to go out with our group for a long, slow run on Sunday. We ran up and back on the coast and enjoyed a really fun, social and delicious brunch afterwards. I ended up going 8 miles. Jason? He went 10. Show-off.

We were going to do our open water swim but bagged it after hearing the national weather service issue a warning for strong currents and rip tides:


The waves were 8-10 feet and breaking very unevenly. The wind was gusting, causing whitecaps to break the surface of the water way past the breakers. The ocean was not just alive and seething. It was angry! (Reminds me a Seinfeld episode where George says, "The sea was angry that day, my friends. Like a grumpy old man trying to send back soup at a deli..."). As if that wasn't reason enough, it had rained the night before, making the bacteria counts suspicious, and as we all know, I'm prone to stomach illnesses. No, thanks! And finally? We were beat! We went home and took a nap!

I actually feel pretty good today. I know we pushed it but I'm not as sore as I predicted, and my energy is pretty good. I just wish I could stop eating!!!

Weely Stats:
Swim--2x (pool); 2h total; 3200 m total
Bike--3x; 6.7 h total; 95 miles total (includes bike commuting)
Run--3x; 2.7 h total; 16 miles total
Total hours (not including weights): 11.4
good week!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Kona airing on NBC tomorrow (Sat) 1-3 PST!!!

Just a little heads-up (most of you probably already know) that NBC will be airing THE Ironman tomorrow from 1-3 (Pacific time).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

1st half of Week 7--on the Up & Up

It's amazing what a difference a little exercise makes. Night and day. I have been feeling so much better. I think I've found my natural Prozac. I've decided to schedule laid-back workouts during future R&R weeks, like many of you suggested (thanks!), which will prevent depression, lethargy, and fitness loss. However, I will take 2-3 days off, which will be scattered evenly throughout the week to allow tissue repair and muscle rebuilding. But instead of taking 3-4 days in a row off, I will schedule smaller, lighter intensity workouts to maintain fitness and sanity. This will prevent the crappiness I felt last week, the loss of fitness I've felt for this week, and the battle with inertia to resume full training the following week.

Monday was definitely a fight with inertia day, and unfortunately, inertia won. Somedays, I have the worst late afternoon slump at lab. I feel like I'm going to die if I don't take a nap. Unfortunately, there's not a really good place to sneak off to and nap here, otherwise, I'd be set. I'm a big believer in siestas. I wish more Americans would agree (especially fanatical, overzealous, workaholic scientists). I came home from lab completely exhausted, and spend the rest of the night moping because I was too beat up to work out. However, I'm pretty sure it was mental exhaustion and not physical. I can't figure out why some days I feel like such crap in the late afternoon/early evening period, and others, I feel just fine. I really want to figure out what makes all this tick so I can make the high-energy phenomenon happen more often.

Tuesday, I woke up late despite my best efforts to do a morning workout and felt so crappy that I took a mental health day from lab. I got to spend a day as a pro-triathlete. I had a nice, balanced breakfast and lifted weights. Had a post-workout snack and took a nap. Woke up, stretched and got on the bike. Jason and I went for a fabulous ride up the coast. The ocean was a real show-off. Bright blue, gentle waves, very clear. I love the smell of sea salt as I ride. I was able to get into the aero position for a solid 40 minutes or so and loved every minute of it (although my shoulders were a bit sore afterwards). I felt strong, focused, and fluid. The ride totally revitalized me. We stretched afterwards and ran errands (okay, that last part is un-pro-triathlete-like, I guess. They probably have someone to run errands for them so they can stay off their feet). We had a great sushi dinner and fruit. Follwing this, I made chocolate chip cookies, which was the best indulgance. We also gave each other mini massages to relieve our achy shoulders after our ride.

Wednesday--We had way too many cookies (3 dozen) so we gave a dozen to our elderly neighbors and a dozen to my coworkers at lab. It was so cool to see the expression on our neighbors' faces! I have to remember to spontaneously give people things more, even if it's just a smile; it makes me feel so good!

I had a great day in lab after a revitalizing Tuesday. Very productive--more so, I think--than if I had slogged through Tuesday. I enjoyed a deep tissue massage that evening (much needed) and somehow motivated ourselves to get to the pool for a master's workout. I really didn't want to go. The temperature really drops at night here! 70s during the day, 40s at night. Brrrr. Where's my indoor pool? The outdoor pool was heated, however, and it felt good to get in and just swim. There was a lot of steam coming off the surface. That's kind of neat. I swam a little too hard and got kind of naseous at the end. No more nuts and chocolate chip cookies for a late afternoon snack. Ugh. Plus, I felt a little more sluggish than usual after taking most of last week off (won't make that mistake again). But I was happy we did it. Plus, having a sweatshirt and jacket at the poolside made getting out into the biting air bearable. Yes, to all you other non-So-Cal people out there--I'm totally a wimp.

Thursday--Wednesday night, I laid out all my clothes, set up my bike, made my lunch, and packed my bags so I could get going. I didn't want to wake up early this morning but remembering how much effort I had put into laying everything out last night motivated me to get up. I didn't want to waste all those good intentions! Gotta remember that for next time. Got up, fed the buns, and got on the bike for an 80 minute Spinerval Base Building DVD workout. It was tough at first but I actually got a second wind halfway through. Listening to my iPod helped too. I had to stop in the middle because Babs decided she wanted attention and made a headlong dash for the pedals (she did this twice; domesticated bunnies aren't all that clever sometimes). To avoid slicing her head off, I stopped, shouted, and swatted at her, to which she responded by freezing in horror. This just made me feel bad. Jason came and helped scooch her away. Afterwards, I had to give her extra kisses but she seemed to have gotten over the traumatic affair.

I bike commuted into lab, which was awesome! I missed my commuter bike. Trying to put in another productive day!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Week of R&R Blahs

I've been feeling very down lately. Blah. Unmotivated to do anything and beating myself up for feeling that way. I'm not sure if it was too much R&R last week or chemical or what, but it sucked. I'm hoping the worst of it has passed.

Last week (wk 6) was my hard-earned R&R week. I was really looking forward to the rest. My Achilles tendon and shoulder really needed it. By Wednesday, I told myself I would do a little something to keep myself fresh. Not much, just a little. But I felt dead-tired. I had no energy all week. It was all I could do to make ends meet and keep caught up in lab, let alone think of anything else.

Thursday, I dragged myself (well, Jason dragged me, actually) to our 7 am spin class, and it made me feel better. I guess I'm addicted to exercise. Unfortunately, this is the last spin class for now, and it's not very half-IM specific as far as training goes so I'm going to have to rely on self-motivation to wake up for morning workouts.

Despite my most well-intentioned efforts, I did nothing Friday and Saturday except beat myself up about not doing anything. Which kind of sucked because it was supposed to be an R&R week. What's the point if I'm going to beat myself up anyway?

Sunday was the best day of the week, by far. Jason and went to La Jolla Shores. We went in the water and had the most terrific swim. I was a little nervous of it being too cold but it was perfect. About 62 degrees. Although the first bite of the water touching my feet worried me, I adapted quite quickly and wasn't cold at all after slowly immersing myself. We had a nice, long, slow warm-up, and I found that helped too. Gotta love the wetsuit! Plus, it couldn't have been more perfect weather. Brilliant blue skies, 74 degree-weather, no one at all on the beach, and water so calm and clear, it looked like glass. I have never swam in ocean water that calm. Very refreshing and inviting.

Afterwards, we changed into our running shoes and went for a 6 mile beach run. It was very nice and relaxing but it was hard. I don't know if it was the sand or the swim beforehand or not having run all week but I felt like molasses after 3 miles. We had to do a little rock climbing around some tidepools at the beginning, which was fun. I saw sea anemones, crabs, little fish, and a giant red starfish! North of La Jolla Shores is Black's Beach, and the naked people were out in full force. Most of them were out-of-shape middle-aged men so it wasn't the most pleasant site but it sure was amusing. There were naked people playing in the water, strolling, laying out, jogging, and playing volleyball.

Even though I felt sluggish during the run and dead-tired afterwards (what's up with that--after a little swim and run? C'mon!), I was happy my Achilles didn't bug me. I was pretty much useless the rest of the evening, however. All I could do was eat and sleep. Not sure what's going on there.

Anyway, I'm glad R&R week is over b/c now I get to get back to business. However, for future planning, I'm curious. How do you schedule workouts during your R&R weeks?