Friday, February 16, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I'm so glad to hear Oscar is on the mend! Good luck fighting the mites, and Go Oscar!!! :-)

WRT the bike trainer, do you use Spinervals or the Chris Carmichael videos? I always get a fantastic workout that way, and since I have to drive at least 30 miles to get to someplace safe to ride (unless you count the 1.5 mile loop at the park), I do a lot of indoor spinning.

Coach Troy (Spinervals) and iTunes have been a great combo for me, and I've successfully ridden centuries and done half-IMs using my spin videos for most of my training.

Kate said...

Glad to see you back! I agree with bunnygirl re: Coach troy- he makes the trainer my friend :-)

I can't believe 70.3 is so soon- how time flies! It sounds like you are still well on track for it. I can't wait to follow you through those last few weeks.

Cliff said...

u shave 10 sec off your swim time? Impressive.

Too bad u can't find a pocket to ride in..I would love to do one of those tours (with road close). None of such exist where i live. Nuts.

JeffM said...

Great breakthrough! In Total Immersion class they taught core as a board and the arm out until the other one replaces it, which is what I wasn't doing before.
Good to hear Oscar's ok.

Fizzgig said...

phew! Glad Oscar is feeling better, sounds like an awful lot of work, but bunnies are worth it arent they? Hope he is back to 100% in no time! My chelsea still has to have her abcess drained from time to time when it comes back. it's so sad!

Triteacher said...

Swimming rocks!!! I love breakthroughs. :)

Habeela said...

oh my word! What an amazing breakthrough on the swimming! I wish I could get mine to flow that well. Glad to hear that Oscar is back to normal.