Friday, June 27, 2008


As in "Anita, anita, anita Margarita!"

It's been one of those weeks. I'm ready to toss in the sobrero and have a cold one.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Update on Runner Girl

Just looked out the window and saw the same gal running that I talked about a month or so ago. She's still at it, and I can tell she's getting faster and has built up some endurance. I'm tempted to yell words of encouragement out the window, but afraid that might seem a bit odd. Perhaps sometime I'll just go out and join her for a lap or two... but not today-- I just have sandals on!


Had a great solo bike ride yesterday afternoon. Trying to do some speed intervals mixed with some hills, so it was a tough workout. But I had a blast with it. I kept harkening back to Bolder’s story and imagining I was the jungle cat and It was ON.

I didn't have anyone to race, but imagined there was someone creeping up on me and I was pulling away from them. It worked-- I really cranked up a few hills.

Then I nearly crashed coming back down. But saved it. So no gory story to tell... whew!

I'm having a very good feeling week. I've felt stronger and fitter in my workouts than I have in several weeks (including the week of my race... in fact, I rode waaay better-- meaner, tougher, more aggressive-- yesterday than I did a few weekends ago). My swim on Tuesday kicked butt-- I rocked out 2050 yards in less than an hour and noticed improvements in my strokes-per-length. And this morning my run felt much better and smoother than it has in a while. I was even starting to enjoy it by the time I had to stop :)

So, why such the great week? What's changed?

I'm going to blame my diet. Since I've been keeping my food journal, I've definitely thought twice about a few of the binge or junk-fest urges that have come up. I even "just said no" to grabbing a taco or a sno-cone at the outdoor concert I went to the other night! Basically, I've been getting full but not over-full. And I feel good.

I don't know if that's the only reason for my badass workout mode, but I'm going to tell myself it is. And I'll bookmark this post so that I can look back at it at times when I'm struggling.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

the Gut has Got to Go

Seriously. I'm sick of the flab. Everything's been shaping up pretty nicely from about mid-chest up and knees down. It's just that mid-section that still keeps holding on to what it's got.

I'm sick of it. Sick of feeling my belly jiggle when I run. Sick of having to move extra thigh flab out of the way when I cross my legs in yoga twists. Sick of not looking like I work out as hard as I do. Sick of wondering if maybe I'd be faster if I weighed less. Sick of whining to my friends that I just can't seem to get thinner.

Unlike other sicknesses, this won't just go away with "plenty of fluids and lots of rest." Nope, this is going to take some serious work to cure. But I think I'm finally ready to face the fact that I'm not going to get any smaller unless I work hard to do so. And unfortunately, "work hard" for me means I have to watch my diet.


Obviously I'm doing fairly well at balancing my intake/output, as I've been right around the same size/weight for over a year now. Even though my workouts and thus calorie expenditure have increased quite a bit, I haven't shed much if any of my excess body mass.

Body mass? Who'm I kidding. Call it by it's right name: Fat. Ugh, I hate that word. But that's what it is-- Fat. And it's got to go.

So here's the deal-- I need your help.

One of the main reasons I keep signing up for races is because it gives me a concrete goal-- something to work towards, to prepare for. It takes away the chance for excuses (oh, I'll exercise NEXT WEEK doesn't work when trying to prepare for a race). And with a race, I know that my friends and family will be checking in with me to see how my training's going, and will not feel afraid to ask me how I'm doing. So there's a little peer pressure there that definitely helps keep me on track.

With a race, I develop a plan, I implement it (with minor adjustments as necessary), and I share my experiences, my ups and downs, with everyone.

Until now, though, the weight loss goals have been taboo. I haven't made any concrete goals, just I hope I can start looking trimmer. And I don't talk about it much. And you guys don't ask me about it. So I don't feel the need to be accountable.

Well, no more.

I have a goal. And you guys get to help me stick with it.

My next triathlon is August 17-- eight weeks from now. I'll go into my race goals later. But for now, I'll set some body goals for that same date:
  • I currently weigh around 139-142, depending on the day. By Augst 17, I want that range to be 134-137 (roughly five pounds lighter). But no muscle is to be sacrificed. So I'll continue my strength training, but work to get rid of the fat.
  • I currently fit comfortably into size 10 jeans. By August 17, I want to need to go shopping for size 8's.
  • My circumfrences for the narrowest part of my mid-section, right around my belly button, and around my hips are: 30.5", 34.5", and 39.0", respectively. By August 17, those numbers will be smaller.

I've been willing to make lifestyle sacrifices to train for races. I've been willing to endure pain. I've pre-meditated weekly plans and stuck to them.

Now I'll be doing that with my diet, too.

Yesterday I had a good long talk with my favorite instructor from the gym, Rose, who's PowerPump class I go to every Friday (and sometimes go to her Boot Camp class on Mondays). She empathized with my situation, but also told me, in nice-but-not-too-nice terms that if I really want to lose some weight, it's gonna be hard. Tough. If you want it, you have to work for it.

So next Monday she'll be expecting a Food Journal from me, in which I've written down everything I've eaten for the last week, with estimated calories eaten. And estimated calories burned. And she'll scrutinize it with the eyes of someone who knows me well enough to be perfectly honest with me, but who doesn't know me well enough to be afraid to be honest and tell me what I don't want to hear.

The rest of you will be expecting a report on how I did at meeting my goals for the week. And you'll no longer tell me nice little things like "oh, I think you look fine" or "I'm sure you've just gained muscle, not flab." Thanks, but I don't need those boosters. I need you to help me stop making excuses, to be tough on me.

To lose 5 lbs in 8 weeks will take an average loss of 0.625 lbs per week, or 0.09 lbs per day. A totally healthy rate of weight loss. That takes an average calorie deficit of 312 calories per day-- approximately two beers. Or one large scoop of macaroni and cheese. Or one pre-dinner binge on chips and salsa.

Sorry, Chuck, but it ain't gonna be easy. I'm going to have to eat good, healthy, nutritous foods to keep your energy up for all the training I'll still be doing. But I just can't keep eating "extras" just because I worked out hard that day. Sorry, I'm going to have to be anal about tracking what I'm eating. I'm going to have to say "no" sometimes when there's something really tasty in front of me. I'm going to have to report in to my friends and family about how I'm doing, and honestly answer their questions.

And if I work hard and I REALLY want this, it'll happen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What's Next?

The Missoula Half Marathon is in 4 weeks. So I'll be shifting my focus a little bit more towards running for the next few weeks. But I still have my sights on the Whitefish Lake Triathlon in late August, so I'll need to keep up with the swimming and biking, too.

Given that, here's what I have planned. Basically I'll be sure to get in my 3 runs each week-- at least one speedwork day, one easy shorter run, and one long run. Hopefully I'll still get in two swims and a long bike, and I'll be biking to work.

Week of June 16-22:
Mon- rest
Tues- 4 mi run + yoga
Wed- swim + weights
Thurs- long bike
Fri- run (easy 2 mi) + weights + swim
Sat- rest
Sun- long run (10 mi)

Week of June 23-29:
Mon- swim + hiking for work
Tues- run (tempo)
Wed- swim + strength + light hiking
Thurs- long bike
Fri- run (easy 5 mi) + strength
Sat- long run (11 mi)
Sun- rest

Week of June 30-July 6:
Mon- swim (intervals) + hiking for work
Tues- run (speedwork) + yoga
Wed- swim + strength + light hiking
Thurs- long bike
Fri- run (easy 4 mi)
Sat- long run (8 mi)

Week of July 7-13 (taper):
Mon- run (easy 4 mi)
Tues- bike (45 min easy) + yoga
Wed- run (3 mi easy)
Thurs- swim
Fri- rest
Sat- run (very easy 2 mi)
Sun- 1/2 Marathon Race

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More Race Results

This just in...

Bummer that the equipment wasn't working well enough to get splits for the swim or for transition times.Guess I'll have to do another one!

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Weekend Pictures

Me posing with my bike, who this weekend was finally named: "Mellow Yellow."
Mellow Yellow with Craig and Amy's bikes, propped up against cedars in the campground we stayed at in Glacier this weekend. On Friday afternoon I tossed my tent and pack in their truck, then dropped my car off in West Glacier and rode my bike in to camp. It was a flat, scenic 10 miles, and a good chance to loosen up my legs while gawking at the gorgeous views. We had a great evening hanging out in camp chatting and cooking s'mores over the fire (hence the smoke hanging in the trees anove the bikes). Then Saturday morning I rode back out, while those two went for a super cool ride up the portion of the Going to the Sun road that's plowed, but not open to motor vehicles yet. It sounds like they had a beautiful day and a great ride. I was jealous I couldn't join them, but that would've been too much the day before a race!
Left: Me heading into the transition area after the bike.
Right: The transition area, with Foy's Lake in the background. By this point it was in the mid-60's and just plain stellar. Mellow Yellow is lying by the fence in the foreground since someone else was parked in his spot!

Walkerruns, about half-way through the run, heading up the slight grade towards Heron Park. I was having my own race at that point, with no one a good ways in front or behind me. Just spectators walking up the other side of the road... ahh, strolling along was looking so nice at that point.

And finally, the Finish Line!!! Note the smile and the "Victory!" arms. (okay, this picture was actually posed... Amy's camera froze up on her during my actual crossing of the finish line... so I had to take off my number and run back through a few minutes later. but this it a really good approximation of what my real finish looked like!)

Summit Solstice Triathlon Race Report

Well, I did it. A triathlon. Whodda thunk?!

Okay, the setting: Sunday morning, clear blue skies with a few scattered white fluffy clouds. Gorgeous. Green grass and trees shining in the sun. Temp on the way there: 43 and rising.

My nerves: totally calm.

Arrived at the race site. Found a spot for my bike and gear. Learned to use a bike rack ;) Checked out the new swim course and transition areas. Talked to other folks from my class. Got body marked with my race number. Smiled while getting marked—ha! now I look like a triathlete! Stood in line for 10+ minutes to use one of the two bathrooms at the start.

Warmup: rode my bike a mile or so up the road to Heron Park. Hopped off and ran for about 10 min. Returned to my bike and had no wait for the bathroom there! Poo #2. Rode back to the starting area, racked my bike, and suited up while at the pre-race meeting. Feet were cold walking around on the bare ground, but rest of me was plenty warm.

At the start, the men went first. It was sweet to watch some of the faster guys. They looked like they were swimming so effortlessly, so smooth! And sweet, too, to see a few guys doing a doggie paddle or breast stroke. Women were supposed to start 10 min after the men. So once the guys took off, I hopped in, peed in my suit to warm it up!, reluctantly stuck my head in and swam around a few strokes. Warmed up okay. But then we waited, waited, waited. Got cold waiting. It was a long 10 min.

Finally the gun went off. Splish, splash, 80 or so women took off swimming. Bodies here, bodies there. Got swam over. Swam over someone else. Was totally cool about it all. I just hit my rhythm right off the bat, took a good pace, and ignored everything else. Just as I’d planned. 123-breathe-456-breathe-789-sight, 123-breathe-456-breathe-789-sight… Turned the first buoy in a mid-pack group. Started off for the 2nd buoy. Had a bit of a hard time getting something to sight off of, was a little disoriented watching the sea of bobbing pink caps ahead of me (all women were issued pink swim caps with their number written on it). So I doggie-paddled a few seconds to get my bearings, swam a bit more, and repeated the doggie-paddle another time or two until I neared the buoy. Turned, and kept it steady towards the swim exit. Passed several people at the end. They stood up and tried walking/running out of the deeper water. I just kept swimming past their legs, touching bottom with my hands, until the water was barely deep enough to float in, then stood up and ran out of the water (don’t remember where I picked up that tip, but was glad the others hadn’t!)

Ran up the hill out of the lake and across a freshly-mowed lawn. Unzipped my suit and took off my cap and goggles and was taking my first arm out before I got to my bike. Sat down and took off the rest of my suit in the methodical order I’d practiced, and used a bottle of water to try to wash the grass clippings off my feet. Put on socks, shoes, shirt, then sunglasses and helmet (I’d worn my tri-shorts and a sports bra under my wetsuit). Ran with my bike out of the transition area. Hopped on smoothly and started pedaling.

THE BIKE View Interactive Map on
First little bit was flat. Started spinning fast, gearing up, passed two girls in the first half mile. Then a climb up a good hill. Good gearing, legs were working. Then began the downhill. Pedaled fast and got up some speed. Or so I thought. But then I started getting passed. On the downhill! Several people. People I’d beat on the swim were now passing me going downhill, and I was pedaling. Not cool. That’s it, I’m buying a road bike. Cruised along, not at all-out, but at a pretty good clip. About 15 minutes in ate a Hammer Gel. I’d taped it to my handlebars with masking tape and had written my theme for the day on the tape: “Celebrate!” Ripping it off reminded me to look up and appreciate where I was. Cruising down a winding mountain road, with wooded hillside on my left and on my right a pasture of tall green grass and black cattle in front of a little farm house. Gorgeous. Other bikers in the other lane headed back up the hill. I’d been worried I’d be cold on the first part of the bike, but the sun just felt great. Only my feet were cold. They felt weird, and I tried wiggling them around to warm them up. To no avail.

Hit the flats and cruised along, geared down for the 180 turn, powered thru it. Then started back up the hill. Tried keeping the gears low and the revolutions high. But before long I was getting passed. By yet another group of folks. One couple encouraged me “Way to go on the mountain bike… You’re really gutting it out!” And that’s exactly what I was doing—gutting it out. I just couldn’t hang with the road bikes. “We did our first one on mountain bikes a few years ago; we know how much harder you’re working,” the road-biking couple continued as they gained ground on me.

I hit the one flat spot and gained a little ground on the group in front of me. But the big hill came up quickly. I geared down. And down. And down some more. Not the granniest gear, but the second lowest possible. I tried to focus on spinning, making good circles, not mashing. Passed one lady, which felt good. But my legs were getting tired. And all the getting passed had me feeling a little down.

Crested the top of the last hill and enjoyed a short downhill spin-out, then cranked along the flats to the transition area. Spun it out for a few seconds right before dismounting. Didn’t biff the dismount! Then heard “Go Carly!” from friends Craig and Amy, who’d left their cozy camp in Glacier early that morning to come watch me race. Thanks guys, you rock!!!

Ran down 5 racks to where my spot was supposed to be, but it was full of bikes. I must’ve miscounted. So I stopped, counted again, and realized Crap, someone put their bike in my spot. Screw it! I said, partly to myself, partly to Craig and Amy who were photographing me from the other side of the fence. I dropped my bike along the fence, then located my pile of gear, tore off my helmet, popped on my visor, and took off at a pretty good clip out of the transition area.

THE RUN View Interactive Map on
For the first hundred yards or so, running actually felt kinda good. I was glad to be off the bike. And glad to get the chance to finally warm up my feet, which had been cold the whole race.

But the good feelings soon left. As my feet started to thaw, I got the sensation that two large sticks were running lengthwise down the bottoms of my shoes. Ow! It hurt! And I also realized that I was breathing pretty darn hard already. Slow down a bit—you’ve got three miles of this! But I soon hit a small hill, and the heart rate soared. The gal in front of me started walking, and I followed the siren’s call. But upon reaching the top of the hill, I took off running again. I made the first turn and headed up through a neighborhood of high-dollar lakeside houses. My feet continued to thaw, and reached the stage in which they started sending sharp pains from my toes all the way up my legs and into my hips. Mother-f-er! This hurts! Additionally, my chest felt a little tight, and there was a pain in my back between my shoulder blades. Owww! And then to add injury to insult, I was hit with a super steep hill to run up for 200 yards or so. This time, though, when the siren started walking, I resisted the urge and just kept grueling. At the top, we turned a 180, and headed back down. She passed me, though, when I stopped to walk a few steps to catch my breath. That hill got me. I never caught her again.

After winding back down out of the shi-shi neighborhood, I hit the main road, and was just out on my own for a while. I saw Amy and Craig walking up the road towards the finish line, and chatted with them as I passed. This is the hardest 5k I’ve ever run, I reported. Everything hurts! They just took pictures. Thanks—I’m sure those are stellar…

More uphill. Not steep, but up. Another turn, and yet more uphill. At this point I could see the finish line. People gathered all around. Runners hauling down the last hill. How easy it would be to hop the fence and run down there and be done! Yet I still had a little over a mile to go—out farther up the hill, then looping around the park. Ugh!

One last quick walk break towards the top of the hill, then I hit grass. The softer footing felt good, and my legs finally started feeling okay. The pains were subsiding, I finally got a rhythm. Two girls sped past me, but I didn’t mind. I was enjoying feeling halfway decent at last. Not fast, but not in pain. I even started to look around and appreciate the scenery again. The sound of the finish line grew nearer, and I made up my mind not to push it hard to the finish. My goal for the day was to Celebrate, and I knew that if I pushed hard, I’d finish feeling pukey, and wouldn’t be able to smile and raise my arms in a cheer like you so often see people do. So when I heard footsteps approaching behind me, I turned my head and shouted encouragements to the girl who was about to pass me, rather than try to outrun her. There’ll be other races for being competitive… I’m just going to enjoy myself. Finally, there it was. The final 100 yards to the finish. I spotted Amy standing right behind the finish mats, camera in hand. Finally—I’ll be able to smile at the finish! Then folks started calling my name… “Way to go, Carly! Whoo hoo!” Folks from my tri class, from the gym, and Craig and Amy were all rooting me on. I crossed the line with a big grin and hands in the air. I’m a triathlete!, I hollered.

So it’s official. I’m a triathlete. That feels great to say.

So how was my first triathlon? Hard. I’m not gonna lie. It was harder than I’d imagined—harder than any of the single workouts I’d done in preparation. Duh, you say. But for some reason, I just didn’t expect it to be quite so hard. I expected the run to be my strongest part. But instead, it was way, way tougher than I’d mentally prepared for. And obviously tougher than I’d physically prepared for. Damn. I see more hill workouts in my future.

The swim, however, exceeded my expectations. Again, it wasn’t fast, but it was smooth, calm, and confident. Go figure. Looking back, I know that I was out of the water before 4 of the girls that I'd trained with, plus several others (who all went ahead and passed me on the bike). So that was cool.

And I supposed I shouldn’t be so disappointed in the bike. But I kind of am. It was disheartening to get passed by so many folks. I felt like I did much better on some of the practice rides of equal or longer distance and similar difficulty. But, of course, I hadn’t done a swim before those. And I wasn’t filled with race-day jitters. So maybe I should just take it and be proud for now. I really only started doing bike workouts in Feb or so, but only on the open road in April. So I’m very much a rookie. And I’ve always taken it for granted that anyone can ride a bike. Apparently they can… but not anyone can crank out a fast ride on a very hilly course. Again, I see some more hill climbing on the horizon.

There were definitely a few highlights of the day:
- Hanging out in the water with girls from my tri class before the swim, and starting the swim knowing I was amongst friends.
- Hopping out of the water feeling strong, and keeping my planned method for the transition.
- Seeing so many face I knew on the bike, and cheering folks on by name. I probably hollered out for 20 people throughout the bike, including my instructor Ted who was in 3rd place when we crossed paths (about two miles into the bike for me!)... he subsequently won the whole thing!
- Getting "Celebrate Good Times, Come On!" stuck in my head once Nikki (one of the gals from my class) sang it to me when we crossed paths on the run
- Smiling across the finish line… so much nicer than puking!
- Giving and getting congratulatory hugs at the finish line. Yay, I was psyched to see several of the girls I knew already there, and had fun cheering on others who were behind me.
Running across the finish line a second time with Kip, a gal from my class who came in nearly last, after most folks had left. Amy, Craig, and I were already heading back to the car, but then I noticed Kip rounding the last turn. So I ran down the hill and joined her for the last leg. “Thanks!” she said, “I think I’m the last one.” Who cares, you still just completed a triathlon. Woo hoo!!! I was super proud of her!!!

After loading up my gear and slipping into my hot pink cotton sundress, Amy, Craig, and I headed to McKenzie River Pizza for lunch. We shared some cheesy breadsticks, and I had a giant "Taos salad"—mixed greens, carrots, green onions topped with ranch dressing, chicken chili, and crushed blue corn chips. Yum! I’d never had chili on a salad before, but it was most excellent. Yeah, I love post-race meals... they're always SO good, regardless of what you'd think on any other day.

I spent the next few hours shopping for an outfit to wear to a wedding in a few weeks. It was a great day for shopping. I’m usually not much of a clothes shopper, but was having a great body-image day, so it was actually fun to try on lots of dresses. It was also fun to have other ladies in the store give sideways glances at the big black “”119” written on my right upper arm and left calf. Yeah, that’s right, I’m a badass triathlete, I wanted to say. But said nothing and just kept searching for the perfect shoes. Which I found. And accessories. Yes, folks, I bought a dress, heeled sandals, AND accessories. I guess being a triathlete makes you do crazy things. Yeah, I’m a triathlete. Tee hee. I can’t get over saying that.

I got home and cleaned off my bike and hung my gear out to dry. Then I popped on my swimsuit and headed down to the pool at my apartment. I dove in, and was amazed how much warmer it was than Foy’s Lake! I floated around for a few minutes, enjoying the lack of gravity on my legs, then plopped down on a lounge chair to read a magazine and soak up the sun for a few hours. Ahh.

Now I’ve showered, eaten, and spent the last hour or so typing. It’s time for bed, dear friends. Thanks to all of you who’ve supported me in my training for today’s race. And Happy Father’s Day, again, Dad!

In retrospect, the race was great. I went there to experience my first triathlon, and to celebrate my accomplishments. So in that way, I won.

Now here are the stats (drum roll, please......):

Total Time= 1:44:45

Overall Rank Amongst Females: 52 of 79
Rank in Age Class (30-34): 11 of 14
Rank Amongst Girls I'd Trained With: 6 of 12
Those Who Beat Me Did It On The: Bike=4, Swim=1
Amount of Money I Now Need to Raise for a New Bike= $500+
Donations Can Be Sent To= ha ha!

They haven't posted the break-down yet, but here's my approximation:
I forgot to start my watch for the swim. Oops.
I remembered to start it sometime between T1 and the first 1/2 mile of the bike... don't remember when exactly. But pushed it going out of T2, so total bike and some transition time= 50:31; so that would mean a MINIMUM average of 15.7 mph
Run time (ugh,) was 31:39, an average of about 10:12 min/mi (not so bad, I suppose, given that a year ago I was pushing to do 10 minute miles in regular 5k's)

I'll post the break-down times when I get them. This should give you enough to chew on for now, though. And more pictures, too-- for some reason they're not uploaded for me right now.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tomorrow's Goal: Be like a bee

Well folks, it's almost here... my first triathlon. Luckily, the gods have taken pity on us poor Montanans and thrown some sunshine and 70 degree days our way, after beating us down with 4" of snow and 30-degree temps earlier this week.
So, as Jimmy B would say, "the weather is here."
I took my bike by the shop today for a lube job. My gear is all laid out on my living room floor where I've practiced my transitions a few times today. I went for a beautiful super easy-paced bike ride in Glacier Park this morning (not hard to resist going faster when there's such great scenery to gawk at!). And I'm on my way to pick up my race packet in just a few minutes.

Everything's in order. I'm ready to roll. And for a little extra information, I re-read one of my favorite stories this morning. I'll share:

"A few years ago, the story goes, scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) developed an interest in the bumblebee. The lab folks reckoned that the little insect held some secrets of flight that may provide answers to questions about operating in space. After all, they asked, how could such small wings produce efficient lift for a relatively large and hairy torso? And how could a round body and flight position that violated many principles of aerodynamics move so effectively through the air? Indeed, there was much to learn from the little hummer.

So the scientists set about studying the bumblebee to discover its flying secrets. As scientists always do, they hypothesized about, scritinized, examined, dissected, measured, timed, filmed, observed, compared, quantified, thought about and debated the bumblebee. After weeks of study they came to one conclusion: Bumblebees are not capable of flight.

Fortunately, no one told the bumblebee. The silly insects go right on believing that flight is normal for them despite what the best minds in the scientific world know as fact.

We can learn a lot from the bumblebee. The single most critical piece of the multisport puzzle is believing in yourself and your capacity to succeed. "If you thin you can or think you can't," automobile manufacturer Henry Ford said, "you're probably right." The bumblebee thinks it can fly. Actually, the thought of anything else never even crosses its tiny mind. It just keeps on flying."

(from The Triathlete's Training Bible, by Joe Friel)

Stay tuned for a race report...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Taper Week Blues

TAPER (\'tā-per\): v/ 1: to become progressively smaller toward one end 2 : to diminish gradually

Yeah, right. Who becomes progressively smaller during a taper week?!?!

I feel like a blob! It's hard to adjust my diet to fit the lack of 2-hour workouts. And I'm finding it easy to skip workouts this week, rationalizing "well, it's supposed to be a restful week, so since it's cold and I don't really want to, I'll skip my swim tonight."


According to Wikipedia, "a review of fifty studies on tapering indicates that optimal levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones, which are significantly depleted by intense endurance training, are achieved during a taper." Pretty much any endurance sport training plan, article, book, or whatnot will talk about the importance of tapering before a race.

Sounds great, right? You get to ease off on the workouts, have more time to do non-training things (work in the garden, go shopping, watch a movie...) So why is it that so many athletes have a hard time with the taper?

Well, folks who have been training for a big endurance event just simply aren't used to not going full-bore. They're used to working out hard, following a routine, and eating enough calories to replace the hundreds or thousands they burn during workouts. Then all the sudden they're supposed to just change up the whole routine...

For a day or two, tapering is a nice break. But after a few days, it sucks. The body starts to feel unused, unloved. And it's darn tough to not feel like a total blob if you're eating "normally" but not working out as much!

Okay, I'm off to the pool. For real this time!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Weekly Wrap-Up

Here's what this week has looked like thus far:

Monday- Rest day after last weekend's rough riding; enjoyed strolling around Home Depot & Lowes looking for yard/garden toys

Tuesday- 45 min swim workout w/ some longer sets in which I worked on building speed, followed by a 45 min steady-paced bike ride

Wednesday- 3 mile run and pushups, situps, and pullups in the morning; 20 min open water swim (to the island and back) in Foy's Lake (it's getting easier and less scary every time!)

Thursday- 1 hour Iyengar yoga class in the morning; brick workout in afternoon (after a short warm-up ride and jog, we began: ride a very hilly 3 mi loop, then hop off your bike and run a 1/2 mile; then hop on your bike again, then run... rinse and repeat for 60 minutes at race pace.
(holy camoly, what a workout. my heart rate was UP... averaged 173 (~83% MHR) for 60 minutes, with a peak of 190 (93% MHR). I was one tired puppy after that. But it was good-- I felt strong and tough, and ready to rock next weekend's race)

Friday- 1 hour Power Pump class this morning. Workout went like this:
~10 min step aerobics to warm up
1 lap (200 m) of walking lunges on the track with two 5-lb weights
2 min wall-sit
first set (x3): 16 pushups, 16 rear delt flys, and 32 one-legged deadlifts (16 per leg)
second set (x3): 16 tricep extensions from a plank position, 16 bicep curls paired with a plie squat, 16 knee crunches from a plank position, and hold a side plank for 30 seconds
finally finished up with about 8 minutes of crunches, oblique crunches, and leg extensions
(whewee, my legs were doing the Elvis-shake thing after that workout!)

What does the rest of the weekend hold in store? More fun torture ;) I'm hoping to get in a 20-30 minute easy swim this afternoon, then a 9 mile run tomorrow, and a 16-20 mile bike on Sunday. Then it's TAPER TIME next week-- a few short, low-intensity sessions, but basically resting up and staying loose for the race on Sunday

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pre-Race Thoughts

A lot of my thoughts these past few weeks have been on my upcoming triathlon. Some intentional, some not.

I've been intentionally doing some visualization exercises to help mentally prepare myself. I imagine myself starting the swim. Running up the hill to the first transition. Hopping gracefully onto my bike. Spinning up the hills. Gracefully dismounting my bike. Beginning the run. Finishing the run. SMILING as I cross the finish line (I always forget to do this in races!)

But there's another strain of thoughts that keeps creeping in unintentionally. Especially during workouts.

Last week in the pool I started worrying: "What if the swim takes me over 30 minutes instead of just over 20 minutes... What if I freak out and have to float on my back for a while... What if I get off course..."

Then on my crappy run yesterday morning I was again laden by negative thoughts, by fears of failure. "I haven't been doing as much speedwork as I meant to do... This cold I've been battling has sure slowed me down... I don't feel as well-trained or as ready as I'd like to feel... What if I get a side cramp during the race... What if I have to stop and walk... What if I don't finish the run in less than 30 minutes like I want to..."

All these what-ifs. All these self-doubts. Where do they come from? Why do they keep bubbling up during my workouts here lately? Usually I enjoy my workouts because they help free my mind of all the stress, the negative thoughts, the worries of everyday life.

But with a race on the horizon, some of my recent workouts haven't been so freeing.

From reading other triathlete's blogs, I'm not alone in having these thoughts. (see here and here... It's kind of comforting, actually, to see that folks who have been triathloning for several yaers and are tough enough to be attempting half and full Ironmans are having the same sorts of doubts about themselves.)

So the rational side of my brain has been having to work overtime, and I've had to conjure up that little cheerleader inside of me to say "Shut up, stupid, you can do this!" (Okay, so she's not the nicest cheerleader... but she gets the point across).

The rational side is counteracting the What-ifs with some of these affirmations:

- Remember that not two years ago, you couldn't run a full mile. And just 6 months ago you could barely swim a full lap. Now you'll be swimming 1/2 mile, biking 13, and running 3. And you know, at the very least, you can complete all of these activities. So be thankful that you have the strength and the courage to even sign up for such an event.

- Remember this great quote: "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." (John Bingham, running speaker and writer)

- The race is not a test. It's a celebration. A celebration of the training that's gotten you to where you are. A celebration of your dedication to be active. A celebration of the fact that your body is able to respond to the challenges you put before it.

- You've never done a triathlon before. Thus, you have nothing to compare this one to. Thus you can't let yourself down. You're guaranteed a PR. Whatever your time is, be happy about it. Worry about improving on it next year!

As race day approaches more, I'll continue trying to keep my thoughts positive. And I'll continue my visualizations to help me get as mentally prepared as possible. And as much as I feel like I should keep pushing hard to get in several more great workouts, I know rationally that I'll benefit more from a week of short, easy workouts, good nutrition, and lots of sleep. So I'll reluctantly taper. And I'll keep repeating to myself my overall goal for the race:

Survive the Swim, Bust out the Bike, Rock the Run

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Little Consistency, Please

Dear Body,

Why can't we just have good workouts all the time? I mean, yesterday we were SO GOOD together. We hit the pool with a vengeance, and knocked out those 1600 yards like champs. We breathed well together, we did well keeping our strokes per length at the lowest we could do. We even stuck to the plan of doing a 500 yard with the odd 100's at hard effort. It was great-- the heart was pumping good blood around, the lungs were filling up quickly, the arms were strong, and the legs kept the hips up. It rocked. Then we hopped on the ol' bike and went for a good strong, steady ride. We even extended the ride from 30 to 45 minutes because you were willing to come along when my curiousity got to me. Good thing, too, because we discovered a cool new loop to ride. Ahh, you and me, we were really clicking.

So WTF was up this morning? I mean, all I was asking for was a nice steady-paced 3 mile run. At this point, that should be just about as easy as breathing. But noooo.... you had to go and rebel. I'd planned a port-a-potty stop at 1.5 miles. But you had to get all antsy and want to go before that, making for a pretty uncomfortable stretch between the 1.0 and 1.5 mile marks. But alas, I gave you your pit stop and thought we'd be all better. Wrong. You decided to grace the rest of the run with a nice sharp pain under the right rib. What was that all about? When was the last time we had to stop and take walk breaks on a 3 mile run?! When was the last time it took us 34 minutes to do 3 miles?

Please, dear body, tell me what I need to do to keep you happy. I love it when we get along well.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

This Darn Cold

Ugh. I've had this darn cold for going on three weeks now, and just don't seem to be able to shake it. It made me miss my race a few weekends ago when I was really sick with body-racking coughs. Then it simmered down for a while and I just had the occassional coughing fit as I tried getting all the phlegm out of my lungs. Then towards the end of last week it seemed to rare up again. My head got all stuffy, my sinuses full, and I started having runny noses and sneezing again. That continued all weekend and yesterday. Today seems to be a bit better, knock on wood. But I just haven't felt WELL in several weeks. Not exactly ideal for my last few big weeks of training before my first triathlon :(
I've tried taking a few good rest days, have been taking my vitamins and drinking plenty of fluids. Eating soup. Gargling with hot water. Washing my hands. What the heck else do I need to do? An exorcist?

I'm wondering if I could mount such a contraption to my bike helmet?...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Week In Review

Monday: 60 min bike ride early in the morning, immediately followed by a 50 min easy-paced run
Tuesday: 60 min swim workout, followed by a 30 min bike ride

Wednesday: 35 min run in morning followed by 20 min yoga; 20 min open-water swim in afternoon (much better than the first attempt!)

Thursday: 30 min yoga in morning; 80 min bike ride in afternoon

Friday: REST DAY

Saturday: ~9 hrs riding my horse working cattle (which involved lots of leg work-- my inner thighs were quivering they were so tired by the end of the day!)

Sunday: another 3 hours on my horse

So the weekly totals turned out to be:
BIKE- 2 hr, 50 min
RUN- 1 hr, 25 min
SWIM- 1 hr, 20 min
YOGA- 50 min
OTHER- ~12 hours horsin' around

I had planned on doing a 9 mile run on Sunday, but was so spent after Saturday, plus we had more cow work to do. I'd also thought that if it was nice out (which it totally was on Saturday) that I'd go for a short swim in Frenchtown Pond. But alas, Saturday's work was much more extensive than I had thought it would be! But all in all, I got at least 2 workouts each in swim, bike, and run, plus some yoga. Plus all the work on my horse. So I'm pleased.

What was all that horse work about?, you may be wondering. Well, we had roughly 200 mother cows and their babies and 8 bulls all in one 300 acre pasture. We had to gather them all up and herd them to a 2-acre pen. From there, we had to find the baby calf and its mother (a "pair") and move that pair up a short hill into the corrals where we wrote down the eartag number of the calf, then put the pair in one of 4 holding pens. We had 4 different leases to send the pairs to-- in Superior, Ninemile, Frenchtown, and Ovando. And we wanted pairs of the same sex to all go together. (So for example, we needed 30 pairs to go to Superior, and we wanted them to all be larger girl babies.) Once we got a pen filled up with the requisite number of pairs, we then had to sort off the cows from the calves, then load them into trailers to get shipped to pasture (it's better not to stick little calves in a trailer with bigger cows, lest they get squished!)

The whole process just took a long time to do. But it was a lot of fun. It's kind of like playing a giant board game-- find which mama goes with which baby, all in a pile of black or black and white cows (hint: they have numbered eartags!) And it's a pretty good workout to be riding a horse doing all of that-- you're definitely not just plunked down in the saddle going along for the ride. My legs were constantly moving, steering my horse this way or that. My arms were usually up or out to the side guiding the cattle. I was bending over to get gates. And I got off and back on my horse dozens of times-- quite the feat for a short girl with a tall horse!

Overall the horsing around was a great workout and a ton of fun. The weather was gorgeous (though I forgot my sunscreen, so today my neck is reminding me how sunny it really was... ouch!) Most importantly, working with the horses and cattle is something Jim and I love doing together. It's nice to have an active activity with your partner-- it's often easy to sink into a routine of just hanging out eating, watching movies, or whatnot. But doing things together really helps strengthen the bond, give you shared experiences, and keep you healthy-- all plusses!

So that's my week in review. Otherwise titled "The Varied Life of a Triathloning Cowgirl" :)

(PS-- I didn't get a chance to take any pictures this weekend... but here's one of Jim when we were working in the corrals earlier this spring)