veggies and cookies…

The other day, I ran out to the grocery store to get some fruits and veggies… a common trip; we go through produce pretty fast ’round these parts. I tore through the produce corner real quick-like: bananas, snap peas, green beans, spinach, mushrooms, a cucumber.  The mangoes were an impulse buy. I knew exactly what I wanted – stuff for some stir-fry, stuff for some smoothies – so I was in and out in 5 minutes.

Yet, here’s what I came home with:

There were these really super persuasive Girl Scouts right outside the door to the grocery store… and by really persuasive, I mean, they were basically just standing there. They might have asked me if I wanted to buy some Girl Scout Cookies. Or maybe they just pointed at me and then pointed at the table full of cookies. Let’s just say I was no bastion of strength in the face of these magical cookies.

I figure it evens out my food groups, right? Fruits, veggies and sugars? Ha. More like they’ll be tasty little rewards for things like taking the time to stretch post-workout or doing the laundry.

But I do have to say, even though I was weak that night, all 4 boxes are sitting in my freezer right now… out of sight out of mind. It’s reassuring to know that they’re there if I want them though (for now anyway, until my hubby discovers them!)!

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on why spinning bikes are my archenemy…

I was thinking about this today – remember that one time I fell off of a spin bike? No? I do. Like it was yesterday. And it’s a special story about a very special girl…

Last time I was training for a 70.3, similar to this year, the beginning of training season was a nasty, snowy, rainy mess. (It’s been snowing and raining since Day 1 of training!)  Naturally, I’d much prefer to be outside as much as possible, but sometimes it’s more reliable to just plan for an inside workout. And a good substitute for biking outdoors is taking a spin class.

photo found here

Spinning classes are a hot commodity around here. We live in a pretty active community, lots of triathletes in town and all of us are trying to get some bike miles under our belt while the roads and trails are still covered in the snow. It seems like all of them require you to reserve a space in advance and I have a hard time planning ahead, so on this fateful evening, I  found myself hitting up the spin bikes alone after the classes had cleared up – around 8 p.m. or so and the gym had (fortunately) emptied out quite a bit. The lights in the room were out and just enough light was filtering in through the glass doors for me to function, so I plugged in my headphones and went for it.

Something I have always struggled to understand is the benefit gained from the part of spin class where your bike has zero resistance and your legs are literally just spinning at the whim of the bike. Being still pretty new to the spinning scene, it struck me as both odd and a waste of class time – I get far more out of the climbs and the higher-resistance portions. Nonetheless, on this particular evening, I had decided to mimic a recent class I had taken so in between some climbs, I dove into the frantic uncontrolled spinning part of the workout.

Now, a quick note for those who haven’t been on a spin bike – there is usually some sort of hand brake that you push down on to slow the pedals. This is an important feature to remember because spin bike pedals do not slow down when you stop pedaling – not like they do on a normal bike. On spin bikes, the pedals just keep right on spinning (I’m assuming this is where they get their name…). Here’s the part where I went wrong. I stopped pedaling and as I tried to stop, my foot, trapped in the cage on the pedal, kept right on moving at Mach speed and went from flexed at the bottom of the cycle (heel driving downward) to pointed at the top of the cycle. And then my weight just rolled over that ankle and it collapsed. And I fell. Off the bike.  Bruised my ego, yes indeedy. And had a doozy of a bruise on the back of my hamstring from when the back of my leg hit something as I was falling (I’m still not exactly sure what…). And that is the story of that one time I fell off of a stationary bike.

These days, I only hit the spin bike when I have no other viable options. And I skip the crazy spin part where you have no control over what your legs are doing – I pedal on, but I keep my resistance high and stay in control. Because in truth, when I’m on that crazy contraption, all I can think is, “Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall!”  And I totally mean it! And sure, it’s embarrassing to be the girl that fell of a spin bike, but at least no one witnessed this ridiculously clumsy and not-at-all graceful exhibition of extreme uncoordination. But can you imagine if you were the girl who fell off a spin bike with 20 other people present?! I would probably take someone out with me as I went. Oh man, I would NEVER live that down!

Bike Fall / FAIL; photo found here

adventures in forgetting…

Day 1 turned in to a two-workout day.  Here’s how it all went down:

First up was the swim on my lunch hour, and I forgot my towel. Nice.  You’re probably thinking to yourself – Who does that?! And now you know: Me. Brilliant move. (And no, I didn’t have a shammy either…). Doesn’t necessary affect the swim itself, but certainly throws a little wrench into the post-swim process drying off process, which is pretty necessary in order to return to work, which I did have to do.

The training plan called for 1500 for the day. The swim workout I did is as follows:

–         Warm up (600): 3x (50 Back, 50 Breast, 50 Free, 50 Fly) with :20 rest

–         Main set (1200): 3×400 with :15 rest

–         Cool Down (400): 4×100 Kick with :10 rest

Total: 2200 yards

After a looooong day at work and feeling good about the yards I put in at lunch, I headed home after work. Well. That’s not entirely true. Since it is the first day of spring and I live in the Inland Northwest, it was snowing / hailing / raining / gusting 40 mph winds all day. Outside on a bike was not sounding so great so I stopped at the gym to try to get my 2nd workout out of the way, only to realize that I didn’t bring the right clothes to jump on a bike (only running shorts, which drive me crazy on the bike… always catching on seat and riding up and generally being obnoxious. And no padding).

So I went home, figuring I’d change at home and head back out to the gym from there… which, if you know me (and I think I do), you know that it may have been slightly delusional of me to think I’d want to leave the house again. Once I was home, I got comfy. And warm. Read a little. And I settled. Oh, and I ate. Not only did I eat, but I ate a leftover slice of pizza from Capone’s. And a handful (or maybe 2 or 3) of salt and vinegar chips – a(n addicting) rarity in our house that I treated myself to over the weekend while my hubby was out of town…but I digress.

No surprise, when it came time to head back out, it was a bit of a shock to the system, which had by then settled quite nicely into relaxation mode. I must say that I’m quite pleased with myself that I even made it out of the house and that I completed the 40 minutes on the bike. I quickly remembered how difficult it is to push through a spinning workout ALONE. And I quickly realized that I had put on running capris (no butt-pads…what?!).

Now, I don’t know what it is about spinning, but I sweat like you would not believe when I’m on a spinning bike. Really. I had never really felt the “sweating bullets” phrase until I jumped on a spin bike. And then I got it, and redefined it. What’s bigger than bullets? Sweating bombshells? That’s what I do. And to top it off, on this particular occasion, I was sweating chlorine (a side effect of spending the lunch hour in the pool), and certainly sweating sea salt and vinegar to boot! (A word to the wise- maybe not a good pre-workout snack if you don’t feel like sweating vinegar.) And again, I forgot my TOWEL. Here again, not a deal breaker, but perhaps a better option than using my shirt. Maybe next time. Sigh.

All’s well that ends well.  The thing is, today’s examples are not the only examples I have of the goofy things I forget. If I had a dollar for every time I forgot my socks and had to buy them at the gym or on my way to the trailhead, I could probably afford to buy another pair of socks, maybe a 3-pack even.  And I’ve been known to forget my sports bra, which in some cases has also meant a less-than-ideal sports bra purchase at the gym (if that’s where I discover I’ve forgotten it and if they sell them), or on a couple of occasions, cancelling the workout altogether. Obviously, I forget towels somewhat frequently.

photo found here

So my lesson for the day?: Pack ahead of time. Planning ahead is key (at least for me). If you’re always running late and in a rush in the morning (like I am), for your own sanity’s sake, pack your gym bag the night before.  And even better, plan to forget. Then it won’t be such a big deal when you do. Keep a spare set of gym clothes in the car, in a gym locker or at your office. Because, let’s face it, I have so many (totally lame) excuses already lined up that forgetting a towel, socks, a sports bra or whatever can easily be the icing on the cake that makes me decide to just go home. And eat cake!

thoughts on getting started…

The 70.3 training plan is 20 weeks long.  So by my count, Day 1 of official training is here. Am I ready? Am I ready? AM I READY?

Whenever I start something, there are a few weeks where, to be totally frank, it’s tough. Physically, oh sure, there are questions.   It will take a little while to adjust as my body remembers what it’s like to be more aggressively and purposefully active day after day after day, week after week. And sure, this is something to think about. And in this case, since I have ventured down this road before, I know what to expect. Old nagging injuries remind me that I will once again be GOOD friends with my physical therapist, chiropractor and massage therapist this year. Oh brother. But in honesty (other than wondering if certain muscles and tendons will “hold up”), the physical challenges aren’t the major hurdles for me.

Picture found: HERE

For me, the fight is mostly fought in my head.  Over the next 20 weeks, but especially over the next 3-4 weeks as I ramp up the number and intensity of my workouts, this mental fight will be pronounced and definitely at the forefront of my mind. Mentally, as I fight with my inner lazy, the voice inside of my head that argues with me, the fat kid inside of me who just wants to sleep in and eat nachos everyday. That voice that reminds you how nice it was to just RELAX. Watch a movie. Read a book. Sleep in and have a relaxed brunch. Go have drinks and delicious calorie-packed appetizers with friends after work. That voice that is relentless in coming up with excuse after excuse after excuse for why I should just go home and _______________ (clean? reorganize your closet? play with the dogs? make some cake?!).

It takes weeks to create new habits. To make a new “normal”. To reassure myself that I CAN do it, that I DO have the mental stamina to commit to this for the next 20 weeks. To quiet those voices, or, perhaps more appropriately, to  teach those voices the new things that they should be saying, like – Atta Girl!, You can do it!, and  Woohoo – Look at you go! when I need to be praised. And things like – Go running, lazy bum! and Push through it! when I just need to get out and go.

Starting can be intimidating. But when you’re charged with eating an elephant, you’ve gotta do it one bite at a time. That’s the only way this can work. Procrastinating won’t help anyone in this case and certainly not me  – it will only make race day more painful. Each time I procrastinate, it will make achieving success slip just that much further from reality.

 So recently, I’ve been preparing. Steeling myself against the voices and the excuses. Dusting off my game face (which will be used in victorious efforts mostly against overcoming my weaker side and occasionally, posted here in ridiculous hamming-it-up post-workout photos).

I ran across this lovely little reminder (<—) a couple of days ago here: A YEAR FROM NOW, YOU WILL WISH YOU HAD STARTED TODAY.

I think that starting is definitely a hurdle for many. It has been for me. We’ve all been there… I’ll start tomorrow.  Then tomorrow comes AND we put it off another day. And then another. And another…

But the first step to training for a 70.3 is to ignore the excuses and start on the day you’ve marked on the calendar. And for me, that day is Tuesday, March 20, 2012. TODAY.

the back story…

Way back in late 2009, I decided to do my first-ever half-ironman triathlon. For those of you new to the tri world (as I very much was), the half-ironman (aka long course, aka 70.3) is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run for a grand total of one 70.3 mile-long event. I’m still not exactly sure what came over me. It just popped into my head one day. Since I’d started running in college, I’d done countless 5K, 5 milers, 10Ks and half marathons. And I swam competitively in high school. I guess I was looking for a new challege? I distinctly remember thinking to myself (and rationalizing to my husband, “Well, I know I can swim the distance and I know I can run the distance. And heck, ANYONE can ride a bike…”). And the rest is history.

I started with a couple of sprint distance tris and threw in an Olympic distance tri for good measure. In August of 2010, I completed the Calgary 70.3.  Two months later, in October 2010, I ran my 1st full marathon in the pouring rain. Two weeks after that, I flew to Denver to run with my mom as she completed her first half marathon (yes, it was crazy and very painful, yes I shoulda given myself time to recover and no, I do not intend to do that again! And yes, people do MUCH crazier things, but by my standards, this was NUTS!). Let’s face it, I was tired. Mentally, physically, emotionally. Toast. The very next day, I retired to the couch, determined not to train again until I damn well felt like it.

Fast forward to today. Spring 2012.

My husband, Jason, indeed quite the athlete himself, has been pondering races for the year, did not do Calgary with me (instead stood beside me as I trained, ever the wonderful, devoted and stalwart supporter) and decided to take on the 70.3 this year. I will be training alongside him and we are both registered for a local 70.3 in early August.

The “official” day 1 of training is fast approaching. In reality, we have both been preparing for a while. He has been learning to swim (not something that comes naturally to him) and I have been remembering what its like to like to run again.

This will simply be a tool to share my stories, reflections, recipes (!), inspiration and motivation (and often, my lack thereof), (mis)adventures in training, and, perhaps more realistically, balancing the eat- sleep – WORK- swim- bike- run- repeat sequence that will become my life in less than 2 weeks.

I hope you’ll enjoy the journey. Heck, I hope I do too.