Monday, April 30, 2007

No better way to see the city

Well, I spent most of the day in a dark lab, "working" (read: blogging, checking email, answering a couple of work-related questions...basically, just like home, only in Germany). By the end of the day, I felt kind of better - and then my co-worker Erick said he wanted to go for a run.

I kind of did, and kind of didn't. My better judgment said go, though, so I put on my running clothes and shoes and headed out. We had seen a park with paths that go alongside a river on our way to the biergarten yesterday. I had an idea that it would be a nice place to run.

It totally was! I haven't spent a ton of time in Europe, so maybe all of Europe is like this, but I love that there's some monument on every street corner and beautiful old buildings. Erick and I ran into the park, and then every time we saw something interesting, we just ran towards it and checked it out. Since there weren't always signs, and we don't really read German anyway, we didn't always know what we were looking at. But that doesn't matter - we saw cool stuff, we got exercise, Erick ran longer than he has in a very long time and was happy, and I was just so excited to be outside in a tank top, in the sun, warm, and feeling more like me.

Tonight we went out to dinner, then a bar, then a club to dance. I didn't drink a drop - and I feel much, much better. Unfortunately, it's 2 a.m. and I'm not really tired, but I have to get up in four hours to go skiing!!!

Do not drink 9 beers ever again

I am such a freaking idiot.

Here I am, in Germany. I'm with three co-workers - all guys - all of whom weigh like 180 lbs or more.

We go out to dinner, and decide to drink our dinner instead of eat it. They have these steins that are apparently a full liter. We each get one. And another. And yes, another. (One of the guys said it was the equivalent of three beers - so I drank the equivalent of nine!)

And this is after a flight from Seattle to Munich, after waking up 27 hours earlier.

So, lessons learned:
-- You can get a massive hangover from beer! I've never done that before.
-- It's possible to pee for more than 30 minutes.
-- Don't go beer-for-beer with the boys. They win - they can out-drink me any day.
-- Trying to run home - through a dark park - when you don't know the way is something only a drunk person would do. Or stupid. And I was both.
-- Sidewalks are cold at night. Don't lay down on them.
-- Don't look at oncoming headlights. You might start walking towards them.
-- Drinking lots of water before going to sleep doesn't necessarily help. I'm sure it didn't hurt, but I was still in pain.
-- Ibuprofen is only sold by a pharmacist in Germany, and it comes in 500 mg tablets. Which is good.

How many calories are in beer, anyway?

New hill: Zoo hill!

I've been so busy the last few days! I'm now in Germany (Munich) for a business trip, which is interesting and I'll write about that later, but right now I want to talk about conquering my nemesis.

The Zoo Hill is commonly known as the biggest climb around here. Read the description on for more details.

I had to ride really early Saturday morning - 6 a.m. - so I could get a couple of hours in before my flight to Germany. Amazingly, I had four people join me - Danielle, Matthew, Liz, and a new guy Thom. Thom has done Zoo Hill a bunch - so when we got to that part of our ride, I said we had four choices of the hill to climb to get back home.

1) Lakemont - 2 miles long, the easiest of the four
2) Somerset - the one we did three weeks ago that was 500 feet of gain over 1 mile
3) Montreux - the one Danielle and I did two weeks ago, 700 feet of gain over 1.2 miles
4) Zoo Hill

Because it was a dry, sunny morning, we voted...and opted for Zoo Hill, since Danielle, Liz and I have never done it.

I immediately got butterflies in my stomach. I was nervous mostly because I didn't know how steep for how long - I hadn't studied the map and grades or driven it, so I didn't know what to expect.

Thom told us it was steepest at the bottom, and once we got to the water tower, we were home free. He also told me that he'd been watching how I climb hills, and said I go out too fast and lose power before I reach the top. He suggested I slow down in the beginning, so I figured I'd try that.

Well, it is definitely extremely steep at the bottom. But the thing about this hill is, it actually levels out periodically - not completely flat and certainly not downhill, but level enough that I could recover a little before the next steep part.

A lot of it was just 6 mph climbing - tough to turn the pedals, but do-able - broken up by really steep, short sections where I could barely hold 4.2 mph, and a few sections where I could go to up 9 or 10 and recover a little. The very top has two more steep sections - but since Matthew and Thom were ahead, I could push a little harder knowing I was done.

Sort of. The road continues down, but to the top of the mountain, you have to turn left and continue to the end of a dead-end road.

Happily for me, that part wasn't too steep. But it was longer than I thought it would be - Thom had said 250 yards or so, but it was quite a bit more than that.

In all, I'd have to say Zoo Hill is easier than certain other hills around here - most notably Montreux and Somerset. Yeah, it's longer, and some sections are very, very steep, but it's less consistent than those other hills and therefore offers recovery. And man, just a minute of easy spinning makes a huge difference in my energy and ability to climb.

So I was on a humongous high for the rest of the ride - and most of the day, too. It was awesome!

Now there are a few more hills in Issaquah that I've got to get under my belt...but since I did the Zoo Hill, I can do any of them.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Public service announcement: Good and evil new foods

Good: Starbucks new Dulce de Leche Latte. YUM YUM YUM. Like candy in a cup. Very, very dangerous. I'd tell you how many calories, but frankly, I don't want to know, so I'm not checking. Yet. I probably will later.

Evil: Taco Time's "Mexican Espresso Brownie." Those are three of my favorite food-related words...but together, it was SO BAD. Seriously. Like, my kids wouldn't eat it. Like, I don't really like Oreo cookies - they taste processed and yucky to me - but I'd kind of mindlessly eat them. I wouldn't even finish chewing my first bite of this brownie. It was horrible. Dry, bitter-tasting, and just not good at all. If I were you, I'd put the $1.49 you spend on this thing towards a Dulce de Leche latte. But only if you can afford the 350 calories I imagine it probably is (with whole milk and whip, of course).

Running circles around my friends

Sarah wanted me to write that. We ran circles around Danielle and Nancy. Literally, of course. Have you ever gotten to the point with running where you have a ways to go, but you have to stop for a streetlight, and it hurts so much to re-start after stopping that you just have to keep moving?

Sarah and I did this morning. So standing in a median, more than 10 miles into our run, we ran in circles until the light changed and we could run straight again.

In all we did 12.4 miles this morning in approximately 2:15 - that includes stops at lights, etc. I think we ran just under a 10-minute mile average.

And it felt really, really good. Sure, at the end little things were kind of achy. But in general, it was really fun.

And how incredibly lucky am I to have THREE friends insane enough to get up way before dawn to run this kind of distance? Seriously. It's pretty amazing.

And then, even more wonderful: I had to be at work quickly because I had an early-morning conference call. So Nancy was going to my favorite coffee place and I couldn't go. Well, Nancy got my coffee for me, called a friend in my building to come out to the front and get it, and my friend brought it to me while I was on the phone. And to think, I was about to down a diet coke because I didn't have time to get good caffeine before the phone call.

I'm really busy at work right now. Actually, I'm really busy in general - there's a ton going on at work, at church, at home, and in my family, plus I'm going to Germany on Saturday for work, so life just feels insane right now. Which is why I didn't blog yesterday, but I did work out: I swam 3300 yards (plus some water-polo drills, courtesy of my swim workout coach - fun, but not super sport-specific), and then did my intense bike ride with the club. The ride was good - I had decent power up the hills and felt good about it, but it wasn't a really long ride because, like I said, so busy this week.

But it's good. Man, running 12.4 miles is so good for my soul. I just feel so calm and happy now. Can I do this every day?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm a runner, too

Wow. The girls and I had a GREAT run this morning!

I had 1 hour and 15 minutes on my schedule at any pace I felt like running. But then, because I'm traveling next week and it sort of compresses this week, I really wanted to run 1:30. But I wasn't sure the girls would want to do that, so I figured if they didn't, I'd hit the treadmill for a few more minutes.

Nancy chose the route, and it just so happened that the route took exactly 90 minutes (including stop lights, but still). It was 8.5 miles long, so I figured we averaged a 10-minute mile. It definitely felt that way to me - the pace felt easy and comfortable, but not slow.

I felt incredible the whole time - even good enough for a sprint up the hill back to the club. And weirdly, I didn't feel anxious to get done when we were a mile or so away. Usually when it gets towards the end, I'm thinking ahead to the next thing I have to do (or want to do) and I get bored with what I am doing and want to move on and get it over with. Today, I just felt happy to be out.

We got a rain-free window, as usual. It was raining when I drove in, it was raining when I went to get my coffee before work. But it only sprinkled for a minute on us. We're so blessed!

But in not-so-good news, my weight is up. A lot. In fact, I almost don't believe the scale - my clothes fit like they always do, and I don't see much extra fat on my body. Regardless, the high number (see, I can't even admit to what it was) is a good trigger to get me to stop doing what I'm doing: eating fairly reasonably until I get home from work, then not meal-tracking any longer and eating whatever - and a lot of whatever.

So I'm going to make a promise to myself to meal-track in the evening too and stay under 2,000 calories per day, 50% from carbohydrates. And no more candy or sugar. Man. It just sets me off, and I don't recover. But I know all my activities will be easier if I weigh less, so I've just got to get back on it and make it happen.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Oh yeah I am a cyclist

Yesterday really shook my confidence. I was feeling so good going into the century - so confident that even though I haven't been on my tri bike for more than 56 miles before, I could pound out a century no problem.

Well, I'm humbled, to say the least. But I have to move on, right? So here I am, moving on.

I went to bed at like 9 p.m., so it wasn't much of an issue to drag my sore legs and butt out of bed to the pool. I only swam for 20 minutes, nice and slow, but it felt good. Then I did hot yoga, which felt great. I love that feeling when I leave hot yoga - for like 30 minutes, everything in my body feels amazing. (Muscle soreness does return if I was sore to begin with...but that break is so sweet.)

I was feeling yucky at work. Crabby, snappy, and not particularly nice.

Then I had to lead my club ride. I planned the easiest route I could think of...but it's absolutely impossible to ride 100% downhill loop, and it's also impossible to ride 100% flat around here.

When I showed up at the meeting point, there were four guys - all of whom could pound if they wanted to. But I was the leader, so I went my "easy" route and stayed up front most of the time.

I found I could actually ride - and it didn't feel bad! My road bike actually felt good to me - Cindy at Sammamish Valley Cycle had told me that after a season of riding a tri bike, riding the road bike again would feel amazing. Since the tri bike is so comfortable (most of the time), I didn't really believe her until today - when I could sit in an easy, upright position and spin in a much easier gear.

I managed to feel good cruising downhill at 36 mph, and spin up a long hill at 10 mph. I didn't feel 100% normal, but I felt okay - enough so that when we were towards the end of the ride, I asked the group if they wanted one more hill climb. When they said yes, I voluntarily led them a couple miles more so we could do one more decent climb. Now that's a good sign, right!

And now my brain feels better. I am much less anxious about my ability. Yesterday wasn't a great day, but other days will be - and hopefully one of those days will be my Ironman day. (But if it's not, I'll prepare for that, too.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I'm ashamed - there's no other way to describe it.

Today was the Daffodil Century. Last year, it was my first century ever, and we did it in about 6 hours or so.

The routes had changed from last year, but I expected the same.

But then again, the deck was stacked against me from the start. Some things were within my control, some weren't. I've got my period - so I feel kinda yucky. Not my fault. I ate WAY too much yesterday and the day before, so I feel kind of sluggish and bad. Totally my fault. And I skied yesterday and burnt out my quads. Plus, I was following that silly seven-year-old boy I like to ski with, and he made me go on these little trails with jumps on them, and let's just say the trails are better left to kids with 120 cm skis and not me! I landed flat on my back once, on my side once, on my butt once, and twice I actually hit the jumps, got air, and landed properly. But that was a lot of pain in my body. Pretty much my fault.

AND THEN - I decided to practice "race nutrition." The one thing everyone who has given me Ironman advice has to say is that I absolutely must get my nutrition down. So I figured I'd skip the cookies, bagels, granola bars, and fruit at the rest stops and stick to my liquid and bar nutrition.

But I didn't actually think through my plan very well. For the first hour and a half, I had a bottle of Gleukos with two scoops of Carbo Pro in it. That was 365 calories.

Then I switched to plain water for an hour and ate just 160 calories in the form of a Clif Nectar bar. I ate another Clif Nectar bar at the next rest stop.

I decided I'd do Perpetuem for the next section - but that was NASTY. Gross gross gross. I could get it down, and it didn't bother my stomach, but I hated it. I think I had just 130 calories worth.

We completed the first loop - 62 miles - in 4:30. That includes stops and Liz got a flat tire, though, so it was more like six hours elapsed. It was a pretty tough 62 miles - more than 2000 feet of climbing, which doesn't seem like a lot, but almost none of the climbing was really steep, just relentless. In looking at the elevation profile, you go gradually up for miles and miles and miles, then you have fast, steep downhills to lose the elevation. And much of it was over chip-seal, which I just find so difficult to ride on.

I had burned 2400 calories by the time we finished. And I'd only eaten a total of 815 calories. Okay, clearly not enough. But I hadn't done the math...I didn't know then.

I did know I didn't want to do the second, 40-mile loop. But I thought I was being a weenie. I ate another Clif Nectar bar (160 calories) and dumped the rest of my evil Perpetuem out. I got GU2O and water (75 calories) in my aero bottle, and we set out.

Pretty much whenever I wasn't in the lead, I was dropped. By now it was just Danielle and Su; the others had planned to do 62 and were enjoying their beers and late lunch, I imagine. I was miserable. My legs were sore; when I started climbing, even shallow climbs, they BURNED immediately. My shoulders and neck hurt. I couldn't get comfortable in the aero position or out. I kept yelling, "UGH!!!" as if that would make the annoyance leave me, but it didn't. I just got slower and slower and slower.

Just before mile 8, my mind wandered and I nearly fell into a ditch. On a road where there was no traffic - so there was no reason for me to be riding near the ditch. I tried to talk to Danielle, but I was incoherent. While I babbled, we reached an intersection with a convenience store and an espresso stand. Danielle said I needed to eat - no more "race nutrition" practice - and we stopped at the espresso place. She got me an iced mocha and a chocolate chip cookie, and I could feel myself returning to my brain as I ate and drank.

When we finished our snack, we set off again. My brain felt better, but my legs were still sluggish. And by mile 13 of the 40, I realized I wasn't going to be able to complete this ride. I kept trying to decide, though, whether it would be better to keep pushing - because if I felt like garbage during my Ironman, I'd still go on - or know my limits and stop.

I decided to go with 'know my limits' and stop because it's still so early in the season. Who needs to ride a century today, for training for an Ironman in the end of August? It's just not necessary. And obviously I learned something huge: my idea of "race nutrition" needs to be doubled. I don't eat enough, even when I think I have planned things out.

So at mile 13 of the second loop, I knew where I was, and more importantly, I knew John knew this part of the route and could come get me. But I could see the Foothills Trail, and I knew the trail was 30 miles, flat, and paved. I thought that I was maybe 10 miles from the start of the route (yeah, we'd gone 13, but a convoluted 13) and that I could get back if I could just cruise on a flat trail.

Well, Danielle decided to go with me, so we parted ways with Su (who is training for Ironman Coeur d'Alene, so she needs to put in the miles more than we do at this point) and headed back on the trail.

Unfortunately, the trail ended after a couple of miles, and we were back on roads. I recognized where we were, though, and easily navigated back towards Orting and re-found the trail (it just doesn't connect all the way where we ended up). We cruised along the trail - it ended up being 12 miles total from where we turned around.

Then we hit the bar where John, Matthew, Liz, and Wendy were waiting for us. No one made me feel bad about quitting - but I do feel like a quitter. I didn't finish what I set out to do. Maybe I set myself up for failure by skiing, eating horribly, and not doing the math to see how many calories I'd be consuming per hour (plus, I think I have to go based on total time, not cycling time - I'm still burning calories even when I'm off the bike at rest stops and stuff). Regardless, I still feel bad about it.

I want a do-over.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I love training, and daylight

I'm in a fantastic mood today. No real idea why...but I'd rather not question it!

I got up this morning to swim, and got more than halfway through my swim when I realized it was supposed to be "intense" today since I didn't do an intense swim any other day this week.

So I kicked it into high gear and swam harder, then did a couple of timed 100's. 1:50 for the first, 1:48 for the second. That's an like 2 seconds. :-) But I'll take it. There was also no panic and no reverting to unilateral breathing.

Then I did hot yoga, which was delicious for my body as always. Afterwards, I got to check out Aleks' new place - it's like a two minute walk from the hot yoga studio! I'm so jealous. And it's gorgeous. She looked so happy, and I'm so happy for her.

Work is fine, but it's sunny out and I needed to do a little more running this week. So I headed out for a quick run. I mapped a route with hill repeats. The big hill is .25 long - and 150 feet of elevation gained. I'm not sure what that makes the grade - does anyone know how to do that math? Anyway, really, really steep.

So I did three repeats, then headed back to the office. However, the route I'd mapped was 4.1 miles...and I returned to my building after 36 minutes. So I needed to run for nine more minutes. It felt great to know that even with the steep uphill parts (which I know I did in about an 11-minute mile - I timed those), I was running about a nine-minute mile for my comfortable pace. I ran another mile from the office, then came inside happy.

Last year when I did those same hill repeats, I had to walk on the downhill to be able to run up again. This year, I could probably do a few more repeats - maybe next week I'll go for five!

I think I'm happy because I've been really trying to spend more time in daylight. My office is inside (no window to the outdoors) and it's dark and I eat lunch in here most days, so I just don't see much of the sun. I need to make an effort to get out more. :-)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The W run

In building up my run endurance, this week was a two-hour run. Danielle and I did it from home so that I could go to a program at my kid's school before I went to work.

We had two hours scheduled...but we didn't have to necessarily do hills. But hey, if they're fun on the bike, aren't they more fun on foot?

Maybe. Actually, the uphill was about the same bike or on foot; but downhill on foot was kind of painful instead of fun. I got cramps - I think because it was so steep - and frankly, it was a relief when we started going up again. We did a run whose profile looks like a W - Down a big hill, up a big hill, down a big hill, up a big hill to finish.

I was kind of lamenting the fact that whenever we run from Danielle's house, we always have to stay ON until the very end - her house is at the very top of the hill, and there's no break whatsoever between the top and her home. So you push push push to the top - and then you're done.

Unlike other runs, like from the Pro Club, you don't do something like turn onto the ending street, run flat or downhill or even just slightly uphill for a few minutes and sort of feel done before you're actually done. On runs from Danielle's house, you don't anticipate the end of the run and all the good things like showers and food that will happen after the end. In fact, the end of the run worries you because it's so steep. As Danielle says, "It makes you keep it authentic the whole way through."

Yup. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

As an aside, my heart rate was really low today. I'm sure that's a good thing, but it was a little odd. And my legs feel kind of weird - very very loose in the joints, but a little sore in the muscles. The combination of hot yoga with endurance exercise, I guess.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

4500 yards

Yup. I swam 4500 yards. By my calculations, that's 2.6 miles.

I did it in about 1:45, including rests, equipment changes, and a jump out of the pool to put de-fogger in my goggles. It was probably 1:40 of actual swimming. And I'm cool with that - I'm a slow swimmer, and I just want to get through the Ironman swim feeling fairly fresh and happy in about 1:30 (which I believe I will do, based on three things: I won't have to stop every 25 yards to turn, I swim faster in my wetsuit in open water, and I will benefit from a draft).

Then the mid-morning weather was incredibly nasty, so since I'm doing a century this weekend, I decided to bag my Wednesday bike ride and go to yoga instead. Well, the sun came out at noon and it was gorgeous, but yoga was great anyway.

Then I picked up my bike with my newly-cut aerobars - Yay! Shifting is going to be so much easier now!

I'm hoping to get a short run in this evening, but I'm not sure how I'm going to manage it since I will have both kids. We'll see how it goes. I'm just loving that it's light at 6 a.m. now and stays light until almost 8. It's almost time to start bike-commuting to work!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Catch-up, Week 5 Recap,"Running Errands"

It's been a busy few days. On Sunday, I hosted my son's 7th birthday party - to see how I made the kids exercise, check out my other blog. Other than chasing 14 kids around, I took Sunday as a rest day.

So Week 5 Recap - here goes:

Nutrition: I'm not talking about it. With Easter and a birthday party, let's just say things could be better.

Swim: Not bad! Still tiring around 3,000 yards, but I physically can do more - and though not fast, fast enough. I actually swam more hours than planned this week. Now that's a first!

Bike: Cycling is going well. I made it up that huge hill without puking, and I feel really comfortable on my bike. I did decide to get my aerobars cut a little shorter - I'm having to reach too far to shift - but that's a minor tweak that will only result in me being more comfortable, and I'm already pretty good.

Run: That annoying hip thing went away as quickly as it came on, but it scared me. Consequently I was incredibly low on run hours, but I'm sure to make that up over the next couple of weeks.

So yesterday was the start of week 6, and I kicked it off with the "Gambler's Run." I describe what to do in the link, but basically it's a really random workout that usually ends up being intense intervals. I didn't have time to go through the full deck of cards, so I just did 45 minutes worth - and I did get some killer sets, like 8 minutes at 7.0 mph on the treadmill with grades varying between 1.5 and 4.5, changing each minute - but it was worth it to feel strong when I was done. Then I did hot yoga, then at noon went for my bike ride (and the only 60 minutes in which it poured rain yesterday in Redmond was the 60 during which I was riding. Nice. Just my luck!)

Yesterday was also the hubby's birthday...and to celebrate, I took him to the Winemaker's Dinner at Palisade, one of our favorite restaurants. Needless to say, big dinner plus lots of wine (and yes, I had to drink all of it - after all, each was carefully selected to pair with each course!) meant I couldn't get up to run with the girls this morning.

I needed to bring my bike in to the shop, but it was at John's work. So I decided to combine a lunchtime workout with running my errand! I ran 3 miles down to John's shop with a backpack on my back. In the backpack were my bike shoes and helmet. At the shop, I put my running shoes in the backpack and put on the bike shoes and helmet. I rode to the bike shop, dropped off the bike, put the running shoes back on, and ran back to work. Perfect, huh? And I didn't even lose my awesome parking space!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What's better than riding hills?

Riding hills on my new bike with Danielle on a cool, sunny day! Yay!

I had a fabulous route planned today, but only Danielle could make it. I love riding with a group, but riding with just Danielle is so easy - because we ride so similarly, I just RIDE. I don't think about pace or worry about keeping up with her or her keeping up with me. We just go, and we rarely stop.

I chose today's route for one primary reason: I wanted to ride a particular hill (it's only a 450' gain over two miles, but it FEELS huge). The hill is near where I live, but anywhere you can get to by climbing it can be gotten to in much easier ways. So for that reason, I'd never even driven 15 miles or so of the route.

But Danielle was up for an adventure, and here's what we got:

-- The big hill right at the beginning. Way to warm up first thing in the morning!
-- A decent but busy road with an adequate bike lane leading to...
-- An INCREDIBLE trail. Gorgeous, smooth pavement, not too many people (mostly runners or dog-walkers). Flat for the first half, hilly for the second
-- A kind of scary part on a four-lane busy highway that the bike map said had a shoulder - but the bike map lied! Obviously we were fine
-- Rolling hills over country roads - some of which the bike map said didn't have a shoulder, but all of which did (I think this is due to new housing developments out that way - the developers had to improve the roads, which also improved them for cyclists!)
-- A delicious stop at the Black Diamond Bakery - yum chocolate-filled crossaint
-- 10 miles of largely downhill riding, with only one scary incident (I was going 37 mph downhill, in the aero bars, and a cross-wind hit me and moved me A LOT. I was able to get out of the aeros quickly and get on the brakes, which stabilized me and I didn't fall)
-- One final massive hill back near home - 727 feet gained over 1.5 miles. (Note: Danielle said this hill felt easier than Somerset - 500 feet over 1.2 miles from last weekend. Ha! Wrong! This was WAY harder for me)

So, yay! Now I am certain I don't need to change my crankset to easier gearing. If I can do this stuff this early in the season, I'm only going to get stronger on this bike. So I'm all about doing the work to improve (and I think I'm starting from a solid place anyway).

Up the final big hill, for the last five minutes or so I admit I was close to tears. I was going 4.1 miles per hour and I just wasn't sure I could keep moving my legs. My chest ached, my lower back was screaming regardless of whether I was in the saddle or out, and my quads were very, very angry. But Danielle was ahead of me, and I was not going to give up. I really don't want to ride that hill again - it took at least five minutes after reaching the top to even feel good about having done it, I was in too much pain to celebrate - but man. If I can do that, what can't I do?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Better today

I feel a lot better today. My leg still hurts a little, but much much less. I was able to swim happily this morning and do hot yoga - in fact, I had no pain whatsoever during swimming or hot yoga.

Now that I'm at the office, when I sit for a while I stiffen up and then need to stretch my leg back out, but it's a lot improved.

That was scary. I had visions of my Ironman going down the toilet. UGH.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I went to bed last night with some slight, weird pain in my hip.

I woke up this morning unable to walk without a limp. And it HURTS.

I was supposed to run 90 minutes with Danielle. Instead, I limped down to the car, drove to her house, and caught her before she left to meet me.

She pulled out a yoga mat and one of her books from college and helped me figure out where exactly the pain is. It seems like it's in the tendon that connects the femur to the glute on the right side. It's causing tingly, yucky pain up and down my leg. I can bear weight on the leg, but on if it's exactly straight. Any lateral movement causes some significant pain.

I don't remember doing anything that caused this. But Danielle helped me calm down (of course I'm freaking out, maybe it needs to be amputated, maybe my Ironman dream are destroyed) and told me it's probably just tendonitis and some ice, rest, and shiatsu massage will probably help.

So I'm making a shiatsu appointment right now. And obviously training is on hold until I can walk normally.

I can't believe this is happening! And right after I blogged about how good I felt!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Flat day

Today I did my endurance swim - I managed 3900 yards in 1:30, but with stops and rests and it wasn't all swimming - some drills. Again, tiredness set in around 3,000 yards, but I felt okay to finish. I had mis-counted, though - I thought I was only at 3700 when I needed to start the rest of my day. Had I realized I was at 3900, I would have done at least another 100 to make 4000 - or a little more to make a new longest swim ever. So my swim was a little flat.

Also, I learned that last week's T-time (my 100 average) was still 1:52, the same as last month. However, I slowed down this time and didn't panic, so I think in this case it was okay to be flat.

But then, on my intense ride, I got a flat! Actually I got it before the ride, but then someone else went flat during the ride and I decided to take the opportunity to change my tube, too, because I was imagining that it was losing air again. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but hey - since I had the chance to make changes, why not. Then later on, a guy broke his chain on our ride, so we ended up doing an out-and-back route instead of our normal loop.

So that's pretty much today - nothing too exciting happening. I did get a look at the proof for the brochure I'm going to be featured in for the weight-loss program I did. The picture is a little, um, let's say top-heavy, but it's reasonable considering I was running and you can't really put your face and body in perfect, photogenic ways while sprinting! I can't post it yet, but I will when I can.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nancy and Sarah wrote this blog post

Okay, not really. But as we were coming back to the Pro Club from our run, they were discussing what I'd write:

"The run was so rockin'! And Nancy and Sarah were weenies!"

I told them I'd never write that my friends were weenies - we all have our days, and it wasn't too long ago when I was the one being dragged along instead of leading. But the run was really rockin'. But let me back up.

I don't know what my deal is, but every time I go to run, I get nervous. I don't know why. I worry about the temperature. I worry that I'll be slow. I worry about getting cramps. And every time I run, everything is fine.

Today I had an extra worry: Shona, a newer runner to our group (but a very experienced, very fast runner) was taking us through Bridle Trails - trail running. And apparently, according to Nancy, Shona had kicked Nancy's and Sarah's behinds on Friday (yeah, they were still up for more).

I've run with Shona once before. She runs faster than our group, but not so much faster that anyone would tell her to slow down. Nobody wants to be the weenie.

Plus, I had to do my intense swim this morning before the run, so I worried I'd be tired.

I ate a Luna Sunrise bar with my coffee on the way to the club. I did a 45-minute swim - the main timed set was 5 100's with fins, each faster than the previous. My times were:

1 - 1:40
2 - 1:37
3 - 1:34
4 - 1:33
5 - 1:32

I could feel myself tiring in the last couple, but I didn't panic and I was able to push on the second half of the 100 each time. The rest of my swim was drills and a couple of timed 100s where I just swam at my "natural" pace - which is now less than 2 minutes. That's good, because I know I lose time on my turns (I don't flip-turn, and I'm debating whether I should use some precious pool time to learn), and a 2-minute 100 is just fine for my Ironman swim.

When I finished my swim, I got changed and ate a GU in preparation for the run. Fortunately for me, as we were starting, the Pro Club "Boot Camp" class was also starting their run - in the same direction we were headed. Shona saw a few of her friends and ran with them up this super-steep hill. So I got to run at a reasonable pace up the hill with Nancy and Sarah.

Then we hit the trail. I started out running next to Shona because there really was only room for two across. And we started chatting, and suddenly we're pretty far ahead of Nancy and Sarah and I realize - I'm running with SHONA. Scary, fast Shona. And I'm talking!

I think what it was is pretty simple: I like the trail. I like the variety of the land, scrambling up hills and practically sliding down, running around corners, and so on. It's pretty, it's safe, the worst thing I have to dodge is horse poop, not traffic, and I love how trail running really uses all the muscles in your legs and core to maintain balance. It's just different from pavement.

So I managed to keep up and feel happy the entire way. It was a pretty morning, and the trail wasn't too muddy. Then we hit pavement for the last half-mile or so back to the club - and immediately I felt a pounding throughout my body. It felt hard and yucky. I liked the connection to the earth that I felt running the trail.

Then I did my strength training, but I found myself getting really hungry - so I had to finish up and hurry to the office so I could eat.

Solid training day! I do notice, though, that my legs are kind of tired. They're probably angry at me for writing yesterday about how good I felt. I know they're doing a ton of work - I'm just sayin' they're strong!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Week 4 Wrap-Up

Well, it was supposed to be a rest week, but with an extra bike ride, a full day of skiing, and an extra hot yoga session it ended up being a pretty big week. I did drop the intensity to some degree, and the fact is, I feel amazing. I feel so much more confident and stronger and faster than I did at this time last year - so I'm thinking as long as I listen to my body and respond to its needs, whatever they are, I'm okay.

I have no pain. I have no soreness. I remember last year at this time, marveling at how Danielle could go from workout to workout to teaching exercise classes to working out some more to bike-commuting 100 miles in a day and reporting that she felt no soreness. I didn't get it. Now I do - my body is making adaptations to heavy load, and responding positively to it.

So, specifics from the week:

Nutrition: So-so, again. I'm not eating more calories than I'm burning, at least, but I'm also not eating much less. So my weight is stable. I'd still like it to be lower, but there's all that Easter candy in the house!

Swim: My longest swim ever happened this week, and I was pleased with the result. I'm feeling faster and smoother in the water, but that doesn't matter too much. What matters is I now know for sure that I can go the Ironman distance before the cut-off time - which is really all that's important to me at this point.

Bike: Man, hills are my best friends. I can't believe how much fun it is to climb on the tri bike. And I definitely do not need to change the crankset to a compact double - the geometry and size of the bike combine to make a regular double just fine.

Run: Nothing spectacular happened this week in my running. I didn't do the intense run because I didn't have the right mentality, clothing, whatever - I just didn't want to, so I didn't. But it was great to run outside in daylight last Friday afternoon!

Skiing: I love Spring skiing. Next season I'm not doing an Ironman so I can get more Spring skiing in. Seriously. Fewer hours to train in the early part of the season = more Spring skiing.

Anyway, since it's Monday, I'll just throw in that I did my moderate bike ride today - 14 miles with a couple of reasonable climbs in an hour - and I went to a 90 minute hot yoga class which kicked my butt while I was doing it and made me feel tingley and happy and calm when it was over. I can't believe four weeks of training have been completed, though - that means only 20 weeks left!!!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

It was the best of times...

it was the worst of times.

I was supposed to have a rest day today, so I planned to take the boy out for a little ride. But he wasn't feeling it. He said, "I don't know why, but my body is telling me not to go."

A premonition? Who knows. John was supposed to ride, though, so I just said I'd go with him instead. However, I had to drop the boy off at the grandparents house, so John would ride there and I'd drive the kid and then meet John at - where else - Starbucks.

I left the house wearing a cycling skirt and tank top, light gloves, and my new warm-weather cycling shoes. It was 65 degrees and sunny - lucky me!

There are two ways to get to Starbucks from John's parents' house. 1) Straight and flat about one mile. 2) Up a mile and a half, detour for another mile and a half, make a u-turn, and then go down for three miles.

Guess which way I went!

The two hills were super fun. Neither was anything on the scale of what we did yesterday, but both felt serious yet achievable. And wow - the way down - especially on the u-turn part - was really fun! A definite reward for doing the work to get to the top.

So then I met John and we set out to ride around Lake Sammamish.

We got half way around the lake and realized it was getting late - we had told his parents we'd pick up the kids between 4:30 and 5, and it was already 4. So we decided to just turn around and go back the same way we came - it's slightly shorter and definitely faster.

Just then, it started to rain.

It didn't pour - this is Seattle, pouring isn't polite - but the rain came down in little needles. They pricked my bare arms, legs, and face. And suddenly, I was very, very cold. My toes went numb, water beaded up on my shoulders, and I was 10 miles from the car. Yuck.

John had had the foresight to wear a raincoat. I hadn't even brought along arm warmers! What am I, a newbie rider in the Seattle area? Who goes out without an extra layer in APRIL???

John asked me if I was okay. My head was full of garbage. I didn't need to ride, this isn't fun anymore, why is John faster than me uphill, why is John making me go 20 mph on flats, ow the rain hurts, where did my toes go, next time I'm listening to the boy when he says he has a feeling we shouldn't ride.

"Do you want to call my parents?" he asked. I had left our van key at their house in case they needed to move the van; there was a 7-11 store on the left where we could wait. We had like six miles left to go.

"No, I'll be fine," I said from between chattering teeth. There was no way I'd quit. The fact that he offered to let me out of riding, though, was the stimulus I needed to finish.

We rode hard the rest of the way back to his parents house - John is actually really strong when he focuses on riding. When he builds his endurance up, I have a feeling I'm in for a butt-kicking. And that will be a good thing.

But man! Hills are fun! The two I did alone today were a great encore to yesterday's ride. Now...what's in store for tomorrow? :-)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

One crazy bike ride

Even as I drew the map and wrote out the cue sheet, I wasn't sure this ride was reasonable.

But see, I only had two hours on my schedule. And with so little time, I wanted to stay close to home.

And close to home there are a handful of hills I've been eyeing.

Nobody said I needed to string them all together in one ride, though.

But whoa! I am so glad I did! 2,000 feet of climbing in 26 miles! Woo!

So I got a clue that maybe this ride was a little over the top when nobody responded to my email to join. Okay, fine, maybe they all had things to do (and I know Wendy, you would have been there if you could), but even my dear husband said, "Thanks a lot for designing a ride I can't go on!"

But Matthew, Danielle, and Liz all did decide to go with me, despite the threat of rain (what else is new? We now return to our regularly-scheduled spring weather, after yesterday's gorgeousness).

We started out mostly downhill for about the first eight miles...but the rest was pretty much climb after climb after climb.

Climb #1: 300 feet of elevation gain over 1.2 miles
Climb #2: 300 feet of elevation gain over 1 mile
Climb #3: 500 feet of elevation gain over 1.4 miles (avg. gradient 9.5)
Climb #4: 300 feet of elevation gain over 1.3 miles (but 130 of it in the last .3 - wow!)

The rest of the elevation gain was either scattered throughout the ride, or hills we always do (like the way back to my house - there's like more than 100 feet gained in the last couple of miles, but it feels gradual).

The thing is, crazy as this sounds - especially on the new bike with the regular double crankset that scares me - after each hill I felt stronger and better and more confident. I knew I was going to be able to ride them all. So this was super-rockin'!

I'm pretty sure my riding companions felt the same way. We knew this morning we were in for a big challenge. We knew there was a very real possibility we'd need to walk. And we all succeeded and felt amazing!

In the interest of recording the whole truth, I did pause slightly on climb #3 - I was only about 3/10 of a mile from the top, but I wasn't sure because the road was so twisty-turny - so I turned right onto a side street and rode on the flat road for a minute before heading back out to the hill and back up. I didn't get off my bike or anything, but I did take a slight break. It just helped to drop my heart rate and allow me to breathe again, then I felt stronger as I finished that hill.

But now that I know what I'm capable out, friends! I've got some more hills to conquer!

Friday, April 06, 2007

My perfect kind of day

"On this perfect day, nothing's standing in my way. On this perfect day, nothing can go wrong.." So it's from the Legally Blonde soundtrack by a cheesy teenybopper band. I like the song. :-)

So here's today: My alarm doesn't go off. I wake up naturally at 4:50 a.m. My first thought: "I don't have to swim, because it's too late!" My second thought: "No, not true. I only have to do half an hour. There's time before hot yoga."

So I jumped out of bed, went to the pool, and swam really well. I felt strong - and happy to be there! I knew I had pushed the battery life limit of the SwiMP3 - I haven't recharged it since the week before last - so when 15 minutes in the volume dropped, I knew my laps were numbered.

Amazingly, though, it lasted until I only had 300 yards left - so I finished in silence, but by then I was determined to get it done, so it was totally fine. I did 1500 in 30 minutes (drills and swimming) and happily went off to hot yoga.

Hot yoga was amazing, as always, and I figured out how to start doing a new pose (Bird of Paradise). Danielle was in yoga, and we had coffee and bagels afterwards (and ran into Aleks, who was there with her parents). Then I took off to pick up the boy and play hooky for a day!

He didn't have school today, so I took the day off to head to the mountains for one final ski day. And oh my goodness, what an amazing day it was! It was gorgeous outside - clear and warm - probably 55 degrees in the mountains, and well over 70 down here. Gabriel and I skied the soft, semi-slushy runs for hours - and we hit all the black diamonds at Summit Central, then headed over to Alpental.

Alpental is known for its really steep stuff - and usually I stay on the bottom half of the mountain. Well, today conditions were just perfect for a little risk-taking. Gabriel and I discussed it, and decided to go up to the very top - Chair 2. Expert Only - no easy way down. Yee-haw!

Well, we rocked it. It wasn't too tough considering how soft the snow was. G had a little bit of trouble initially, but once he got over it, he wanted to do the upper mountain again and again until we were exhausted. We got some coffee and cookies (okay fine he had soda) and headed home...but not before doing a little shopping! See, I said it was a perfect day.

G needed new snow pants, so we stopped at an outlet mall on the way home. Well, I found pants for him for $20 (score!) and a really cool metallic orange quilted jacket for me - for $10!!! (I love orange. Next to pink, of course.)

So then we came home and rode our bikes to G's baseball practice. While he practiced with the team, I got out my mp3 player and got a little run on at the track next to the baseball field. It's so nice to run outside when it's warm! Then we rode home....and now, after a quick dinner, I'm wrapping up the day with blogging and then catching up on all the TV I didn't watch this week. America's Next Top Model, The Pussycat Dolls Present The Search for the Next Doll, Survivor...yeah. It's a rockin' day.

I mean, I like my job... but on a day like this, I wouldn't have gotten anything done anyway. I would have been dreaming about getting outside! And I got to do everything I love outside today! Yay!

(Although, now that I'm cooling off indoors, my face feels hot. Better go look in the mirror and see if I have a sunburn! But even if I was still a perfect day.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My longest swim ever

So this morning, I decided I was going to go straight to the pool.

However, my class is at 7 a.m. - and that's way late to be just STARTING a workout on a weekday morning! So at first I thought I'd obey my schedule and do 1:15 of swimming, which would mean starting at 6:45 and doing class for an hour.

Well, traffic was light, so I got to the pool at 6:25. I thought about doing something else first...and then decided: wouldn't it be fun to swim 4,000 yards today?

Answer: Yeah, actually. Kind of. (THANK GOODNESS for my SwiMp3!)

So I did 1500 before class, then 2500 in class. The 2500 included three 100's at T-pace, but I'm not sure if I improved over last month because I was so intent on completing the 2500 that I didn't get out of the pool right at 8 a.m. when the instructor was giving out our times, and by the time I was out of the pool, he was gone.

That was the longest I've ever swum. I think I did 3100 one day last week, and prior to this swim, that had been my longest. My actual swim time was about 1:35 when you take out rest times; but the 1:35 includes drills, and I'm massively slower on some of the drills than I am just swimming. Not that I'm particularly fast when I swim, though.

What I learned today was that I pretty much could keep swimming all day. My arms felt kind of tired around 3,000 yards, so I compensated by slowing down a little and ensuring I had good form. I told myself if my form got too sloppy, I would get out of the pool at once. There's no reason to risk injury this early in the season. But honestly, I was fine - and more bored than anything else.

I thought my arms would hurt for the rest of the day, while doing normal things like brushing my hair or typing. But they didn't. We'll see how they respond to my strength training tomorrow, though...I bet they won't be psyched.

At lunch time, it was intense bike ride day. Unfortunately, I got the start time wrong for the Cascade group ride, and since I got it wrong and Danielle had met me at my office to ride with me, we opted to ride just the two of us and not wait half an hour for the group's start time. And it was good - we did a kick-ass hill that I've done a couple of times before, and a new hill I've been eyeing for a while. I expected the new hill to be hard. It actually wasn't. And I held 23 mph on a flat part of our route for as long as we were on the road. Fortunately for me, it was only a mile or so.

So I planned a CRAZY route for Saturday's ride, full of killer hills. I CAN'T WAIT! Am I insane?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

La la la, feeling good

It's my light week! The fourth week in each cycle is not quite rest, but just lighter. And I think it's good - I'm feeling totally rockin'. Maybe that means I need to work harder.

Okay, maybe not. Anyway, yesterday the hot yoga teacher didn't show at 6:30 a.m., so I went to work really early. At noon I did a moderately-paced bike ride - 14 miles in one hour (with hills, of course) and that was lovely. It was a sunny day - not too warm, so perfect for riding.

Then I was able to hit hot yoga at 4:30 for a 90-minute class. It rocked, as always - although it was really humid. More people, later in the day, I guess. My eyes got sweat in them, though, and it caused my contacts to turn, so pretty much for 20 minutes after hot yoga I couldn't see very well. (Contacts are weighted and need to be in the right place, but they had moved and stuck to my eyes in some weird way. Anyway, no big deal - they went back to normal right when I was getting on the freeway to head home.)

This morning I didn't want to get out of bed, but who does at 4:30 in the morning? I did anyway, and I had a really nice run with the girls (despite the 34-degree weather - what's up with that? It's April!) and lifted weights with Regan afterwards. My weights are getting easier. Normally I'd say it's time to increase the amount I lift for each exercise, but I think for the in-season time, I'm not going to. I'm only lifting to maintain muscle while I step up my cardio, not necessarily build new muscle, so unless it gets so easy it's ridiculous, I'm going to stay with lighter weights and higher reps until the fall.

Plus, hot yoga helps build incredible triceps. All those tricep-pushups. Which SUCK, but I don't mind because hot yoga will equal hot arms, and despite the 34-degree morning, it's getting close to sun and tank top time! Yay!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Week Three Wrap-Up

Wow, this was a big week!

So, it's been going really well. I turned this week into something bigger, too, because I went to hot yoga more than planned and yesterday we decided to get what will likely be our last ski day this season.

Skiing was way fun, though. It actually snowed and was cold all day - and we found nice groomed runs with lots of paths through the trees for the fearless - i.e. the six-year-old wonder. Man that kid is nuts. And it's SO MUCH FUN!

So anyway, the week.

Nutrition: So, it was difficult. I kind of got off-track last weekend and didn't do a great job of getting myself back on. That said, I didn't weigh myself daily this week because it was making me nutty. So I took a break from the scale, but for the most part, I'm eating okay. Not perfect, but okay. I don't think I've gained any weight this week, at least. (Which also means I didn't lose.)

Running: As my posts explained, I've been reluctant to run. I'm not sure what's going on there. But once I start running, I feel great. One thing I noticed: I run a lot better when I'm not freezing. I'm really looking forward to 50-degree mornings; these mornings in the 30s just keep me so cold, and when I never really warm up, I feel stiff and just not smooth while running.

Cycling: This was a great week. I got solid, decent riding in and really enjoyed it. The Monday intense ride was crazy and hard; Wednesday was just a joy; and today I finally rode my tri bike! Danielle and I rode a ridiculously long route to brunch with the gals - and our route included two big hills. Actually, one big hill and one HUGE hill. On the big hill, Danielle and I were riding about 10 mph. I felt like this was how hard I'd be going if I were in a race. Then Danielle looked up ahead, pointed at a guy climbing the hill up above us, and whispered, "Let's catch him."

I didn't know I had it in me, but suddenly we're going 14 mph and we catch the guy! He was mad, too. I told him we only caught him because of our hot bikes.

On the huge hill, I felt amazing. Climbing was a dream. I could totally spin and just loved every second.

At the end, though, of this 57-mile ride, we ended up at the base of the hill Danielle lives on. And it was HARD to ride up that hill. I did it last week on my road bike, and frankly, I think it was easier on the road bike. So I kind of wonder if there isn't something that happens when the hill gets to a certain steepness - like, normal big hills are easier on the tri bike, but crazy steep humongous hills, like Danielle's, are better on the road bike? Or maybe I was just more tired. Either way, the gearing on these bikes is totally different - I have a 50/34 crankset on the road bike, 53/39 on the tri bike. Both have 12-25 on the back, I think. But that means it should be easier to climb the steepest stuff on the road bike. And the fact that I did it on the tri bike tells me for sure I don't need to change the crankset on that bike - I just need to ride lots of steep hills.

Anyway, I need to start riding the tri bike more. It's a very different feel, and I need to get my body to adapt to it. But I like it!

Swimming: It was a good week. I only got two swims in, but more than 5,000 yards done. This week I'm going to aim for three swim sessions, even if they're shorter. I feel my stroke improving and my speed increasing.

Strength training: I missed my second session this week, and I'm having trouble bothering to care. Next week I'll work on not missing those workouts!

Hot yoga: I did three sessions and I really feel it promotes healing and mental health. It was a good week overall. Plus, when I was skiing yesterday, I totally felt the benefit of Chair Pose in my quads. It was rockin'!

I'm looking forward to the lighter rest week beginning tomorrow - I do feel I need some more sleep. That said, training makes me happy, so life is good. :-)