riding in the wind…again…

Practice 70.3 today… more on how the whole day went. But let me start with this – it was WINDY! I know, you can hardly believe it, it’s not like I’ve EVER complained about how very windy this spring has been.

Today, I was asking for it. We set up our test run in farmland, on the prairie. It’s not rocket science. If you ride in farmland, it will be windy. It’s the prairie. What did you expect?

riding through farmland on a windy day...

I’ve realized that whenever I ride in the blowing, howling wind, I always sing this song stuck in my head. And I feel a little like this cranky old lady too (and sadly, I’m probably only moving very slightly faster than her…):

And today was no different, in fact I think I saw Auntie Em fly past me on her rocking chair while I was riding:

Thankfully, I think I’m getting a tad more comfortable holding a squirelly bike straight(ish) in the gusts and hopefully that will be the silver lining from all this wind training. I have to hope something will come from it!

Advertisements

you know you’re training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene when…

More than a few things that have occurred to me during training that have made me chuckle over the past few months so I thought I’d share a few I’ve written down.

  • In your car’s cup holders, you have a water bottle (recently emptied or recently filled) and energy gels – GUs and Hammer Gels…and a spare granola bar or Clif bar in your glove compartment. Just in case.
  • And also, you have these things in your purse. And your gym bag.
  • Your tri team says “Hey everyone, its 47 degrees in the lake… let’s go swimming!” (WHAT?! No thank you!)
  • It is 32 degrees outside and snowing sideways. Your friends are cozied up in bed or reading a book and drinking coffee and you are halfway through your 60 mile bike ride.
  • Same as above, only 25 mph winds, or driving rain….
  • The 1st thing your friends ask you when they see you is “How is the training going?” Because a) they are excited for you; b) they never see you and c) they don’t know what else it is you do these days. And frankly, you don’t either.
  • You come home to packages on your doorstep and the contents? Ironman Perform drink mix, Perpeteum drink mix, 60 energy gels, and new running shorts.
  • You’re hungry. All of the time.
  • You know for a fact that if you swim early in the day and run or bike after work, you will sweat chlorine. Profusely.
  • Your laundry piles up three times as fast as you used to and you only have time to do it about a third as often as you used to. You do the math.
  • You’re praying that the race day water is at least 62 degrees. (Normal people recognize that swimming 2.4 miles in water this temperature is still too freakin’ cold.)
  • You can eat, drink and blow your nose on the run and the bike (and you have to remind yourself not to do the latter when you’re relegated to the indoors).
  • It’s super annoying when people talk to you like a sprint triathlon is the same as an Ironman.
  • Spring training doesn’t mean baseball, hot dogs and sunshine. It means windbreakers, rain jackets, and beanies and gloves on the bike. And dark ominous clouds and threatening raindrops on the horizon.

Eight weeks to go! How do you know you’re training? 🙂

IMCDA image

training with a pack of dudes…

Over the weekend we found ourselves at a little tri-clinic with about a dozen to fifteen others getting pep-talked, drilled and advised by pros.

(Now before you read any further, the events described here did really happen and my thoughts on the whole thing, while accurately reflected here are largely intended to be somewhat humorous and tongue-in-cheek description of the day…)

Cliche as it is, most of the guys, being triathletes and, well, boys, spent much of their day trying to feel each other out, impress (someone? each other?) and out-do each other to find their place in the sausage-y totem pole. Who’s faster? Who can run further? Who’s done the most races? Who’s got the sleekest, most tricked-out tri bike? Who’s going to cry “uncle” during the workouts first and perhaps most importantly, who’s going to WIN?

Naturally, part of the day included swim drills so we divided up into 2 lanes according to speed / ability and did sculling drills, catch-up drills, drills to help with rotation and position, drafting drills and mass starts. It was all fine and good until the mass starts… we had to jockey for position and then swim out about 200 or so. In 1 lane. In a 25 yard pool. There were 6 or 7 of us in each lane. Seems like a good idea, right?

Being the smallest in the lane and also the only female in the fast lane, I let the hot headed dudes sort themselves out, not wanting to be on the wrong end of a testosterone fueled elbow or fist. Generally in these kinds of situations, including triathlon starts, that is how I roll. I’m usually faster than the average person and underestimated as well. Let others throw elbows in the pack, I’ll draft up the chain and pass later. No biggie. Better that than needing stitches.

But at the clinic, holding back meant I sacrificed my position further up in the line  for the entire drill. With just 25 yards to work with and 6+ people to the lane, there was almost always other people coming straight at you at high speeds and with not enough room to go 3-wide in the lane, you were basically were stuck in line until at least halfway down the lane when the oncoming traffic cleared. Then you had 10 yards or so to make a break for it, pass the other person and get back onto the right side of the lane before you got plowed over by oncoming traffic.

Sure enough, after just 25 yards I found myself behind a dude whose weiner, ahem – I mean ego, wouldn’t get out of my way. Every time I made a break for it, I’d pass him and hit the wall first – me on the left and him on a right. I’d push off strong with every intention of escaping quickly and unscathed and most importantly in front of him so I could swim at my own pace and not his snail pace. But being a dude, he couldn’t take getting beat by a girl so he’d push off to the right and crash into me, run me over and I’d find myself getting ramrodded into the laneline and stuck behind him again. (As obnoxious as this was, I can only assume he identified this as his last-ditch option to prevent a girl from passing him as he didn’t appear to be able to outswim me…) And then, just a few yards into the lane, I’m smacking the bottom of his feet, his ankle, even the back of his calf with every stroke, having to pull back and breaststroke even (the slowest of all swimming), waiting for my opening to make a break for it again. It got old real fast. But I did get some good drafting practice in, so at least there’s that.

Look, I’m as competitive as anyone. But seriously dudes? We all know you’re all big and tough. Strong and fast. The best and the baddest, right? The supercoolest. We know. Your egos are fragile and getting passed by a girl is only the worse thing that can happen. But please move out of my way. You’re embarrassing yourself and I’m embarrassed for you. Isn’t it worse to have a girl have to slow down and clearly cut back to 50% effort than to just let me go by? I’m promise I’ll be discreet – no one will even see it…

being chased by a lion…

Earlier this week, as I do so many times in a week, I was doing a bike ride after work. On the trainer. Indoors. Booooo.

To help pass the time (and give me some change in ‘scenery’), I had the TV set to Animal Planet or Discovery Channel or something along those lines and a funny thing happened. I realized that every time they showed a chase scene with a predator chasing their prey, I sped up. Not intentionally, but it happened. The best I can figure is that 1) the music usually was a little more driving (due to the urgency of the situation) and 2) I was trying to get away from the lion, ahhhhhhh! Conveniently, it mixed up my sprint workout nicely.

Next time you’re stuck in your basement on the trainer, check it out. Be the warthog and RUN PUMBA, RUN!

spring is in your…nose?

Hello springtime! My wish for Phil to declare winter to be over came true, at least by the looks of things. When temperatures hit the high 40s and low 50s and snow and ice has melted off the trails and roadways, folks round here declare it the start of outdoor biking season.

Round here, that officially happened over this past weekend. That’s right. All of us poor schmucks who have been relegated to indoor trainers and spin classes since November hit the roads (covered head to toe in the warmest gear we could find from beanies and ear warmers to gloves and wind breakers jackets and tights and toe warmers) to dodge the gravel and sand left on the roads by the plows and again feel the (cold) wind on our faces and blowing through our hair. But oh! To be going somewhere after months of pedaling in place!

early spring biking

One cautionary note on riding outdoors – the bugs have also realized spring is coming. They’re not out in droves yet, but enough so that when you sniff (cause it’s cold and your nose is running), you’ll likely catch at least one in your schnozz, maybe more.

Happy springtime everyone!

(PS – I know, now that’s I’ve said all of this, we’ll get snow and cold again and for that, I’m sorry!)

rooting for Phil…

Oh no.

Week 3 and I’m already tired of biking on the trainer.

Tonight’s workout was a power interval workout. Merely an hour-long workout yet even with a warmup and intervals to break it up, the last 15 minutes sure did drag by.

I’m going to spend the next few weeks rooting for the groundhog – Punxsutawney Phil – for an early spring. If I ever needed it, it’s this year…

C'mon Phil, we need you to do the right thing!(photo from: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/02/02/133427240/punxsutawney-phil-says-spring-is-coming)

little ol’ phil…

C’mon Phil, we need you to do the right thing! Do you take bribes…?

 

Photo credit: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/02/02/133427240/punxsutawney-phil-says-spring-is-coming

open water swims…

A few years back, I signed my mother up for her first triathlon. She had been saying for years and years that she always thought about doing one, that she thought it’d be fun. And she never signed up. So one year, for her birthday, that was her present. Happy birthday, Mom! Now before you deem me to be an evil child, you should know 1) that I flew home and did the race also, and 2) my mom was perfectly capable of finishing a sprint tri, probably without even training for it (she just needed a little push. You know, in exchange for all of that love and support she gave me when I was growing up. Oh, how the tables had turned, haha).

Having said that, my hubby put together a training program for her to follow. Which she did, to a T. Except for the part where you have to get into the open water. Despite my strong encouragement to go find a lake, ALL of her swims were in a pool. Which is fine, except that race day open water swims are not pool swims. Dark, murky water. Cold, sometimes chest-freezingly, brain-numbingly cold water makes you gasp for air. Makes your lungs freeze up. Makes you want to get back out (the same way you came in – the short way!). Add the hundreds of other people splashing and kicking around (and the stress of potential fist or foot to the face hazards) and the open water swim can be enough to sink anyone. Now my poor mom learned this the hard way. She made it through and she completed the race, but not without some emotional scarring. She has since completed a half marathon and last year, a full marathon. But I’m not sure that I will ever get her in the open water again…

English: Open water swimmer

Open water swimmer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Determined not to face the same traumatic experience as my mom did, my hubby’s taken a different approach and yesterday faced the freezing cold lake for the first time. Mano a mano. Fifty-five frigid degrees seemed not to deter him though I’m not sure why. Perhaps one part of why he has already hit the cold water is because he knows that he might well be facing the same conditions on race day. When I went through this two years ago, with the exception of 1 Olympic distance race, every single one of my race day lake swims was in water temps between 55-58 degrees – not exactly tropical soaking temps. Regardless, I’m proud of him for facing the open water swim. And not only that, but for spending a full 25 minutes in it! He goes into this weekend’s 1st tri, and the tri season, wiser and more experienced than those who haven’t yet braved the cold, dark open.

It’s funny, the things that wear you out when you’re swimming in the open water. It’s tough to fight your natural instincts to gasp for air as your chest and lungs submerge. You can’t see the black line on the bottom of the pool because the water is dark and gloomy and murky. Mentally, it is exhausting to try and NOT lose your cool when you see something dark and shadowy below you. Especially if it’s big. Or moving. Toward you. Even perfectly logical and rational people like myself can easily imagine the fictitious black octopus of death swimming menacingly towards you with its eight poisonous legs ready to grab you and drag you to the depths so he can eat you for dinner. You’re such easy, unsuspecting prey. Oh wait, that’s just a tree branch. Safe…? For now…The point of all of this is to say, I highly recommend you don’t make race day your first open water experience. First of all, if you live in this neck of the woods, you can wait for the water to warm up, but really – there’s a chance the water really might not be any warmer on race day and you’re certainly going to have to deal with it then, aren’t you?

And perhaps most important (at least as far as I’m concerned), you’ll want to learn what your personal reactions to things may be – both physiologically and mentally. For example, I know I need to get in to the water and submerge myself just before the swim starts. So that initial panicky cold has faded enough for me to control my breathing. If I don’t, I spend the first leg of the swim trying not to hyperventilate. Also, you will probably want to check out your wetsuit before race day. I have a friend who didn’t and found out at the start of the swim that the neck of her wetsuit were like tiny little angry toddler hands strangling her as she swam. Joy. At least it was just a sprint distance. It was not her most favorite triathlon experience.

And I know that I’m comfortable in the (pool) water, but open water makes me J-U-M-P-Y! But the more I’m in the open water, the more I’ve “survived” the open water – maybe it IS safe after all? And I’ve found that orangey-amber colored goggles literally brighten my view. Rose colored glasses. Think about it- nothing bad or scary ever comes from somewhere bright and sunshiny. Yes, it’s a total head game. Mock all you want, it works.

Sure, you may get a little cold venturing out into the cold, dark. But all of these little things could really save your tush on race day. Doesn’t that make it worth it?

in the blink of an eye…

Yesterday we took advantage of the cool, but very pleasant weather, the Memorial Day holiday (day off) and a really fantabulous 70 mile long multi-use trail we have in the area that we had (remarkably) never used before. We were slated for a 3 hour bike ride this coming weekend (the end of week 11), but bumped it to yesterday because we had all the time in the world and who knows what the weekend would look like.

Along the way, we were graced by 3 moose and countless great blue herons in the river and marshes alongside the trail. It was quite easy to get distracted by the abundance of wildlife. And it would have made the time go by really quite quickly if it weren’t for a persistent headwind that kept us from really cruisin’.

We were making pretty good time despite the headwind. But our heads were on swivel sticks. Looking this way and that to glimpse all of the creatures we could see. And somewhere along the way, I decided to look down – at my shoulder, I think – and in that second, maybe two, I drove my bike right off the side of the trail into the soft gravel that grabbed my tire and threatened to take me down.

Now, I know what you’re thinking right now.  “Didn’t she just fall off of her bike not too long ago?”  I’m not going to justify that ridiculously inquiring line of thought with a straight answer (see answers here and here); suffice it to say I may or may not have some injuries that may or may not have originated from a certain incident approximately 5 weeks ago.

As is always the case when you’re falling off of your bike, it all happens in slow motion. Well, steering off of the trail happened in the blink of an eye, but what happened after that was Matrix-dodging bullets-slow.

“Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

“Not…”

“a-”

“-gain…!”

“(insert self-scolding)”

“@#%$^%)*!”

“Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Fortunately, in this particular instance, I was able to steer myself back onto the path and slow my bike to a stop. Rather gracefully considering the circumstances if I do say so myself.

And eventually, I was able to swallow my heart and put it back into its rightful place in my chest and get it to beat at a less frantic pace. Eventually.

Talk about a close call. I mean, really.

And I can hear you judging me – “GOOOOOOD-ness! Someone get that girl some training wheels!”  At this point, I can’t say I blame you. I will certainly not turn down training wheels. Elbow pads. A-D-D meds. Whatever would help. This is madness.

All I can say is this – please be careful out there. You may not have the same tenuous relationship with your bike as I do, but all it takes is the blink of an eye to steer off the trail, hit some gravel, or lose control and turn your training ride into a trip to the hospital or worse. I’ve had enough mishaps on my bike for a lifetime (or at least it feels that way with how things have gone lately). I think I might even start taking my own advice: Take ‘er nice and easy out there. Happy riding.

on still not quite being prepared (again…)

The plan for Week 7 included three bike rides:

– 1 hill workout (1:15 total time including a warm up, cool down, and 11×1 min climbs with 2 minutes of active recovery), proposed for Tuesday

– 1 “foundation” ride (1:30), proposed for Thursday

– 1 long ride (2:30), proposed for Saturday

Admittedly, seven weeks in, I’ve been trying to see some friends this week and juggle some after work activities this week. So I decided to squish my hill workout in with my foundation ride and did a 1:35 hill workout one night after work. A twofer, if you will. Legitimate? Yeah, this week, totally counts.

While on my ride, 5 hill climbs in and getting a drink of water at the top, I reached underneath my seat for some strange and unknown reason and I realized something.  Holy geez. My seat pack – you know, the one with all of the supplies? – was not there.  Huh.  We had gone out and purchased pumps and installed them on our bikes so we’d be totally ready for next time. But after that, my husband had taken my seat pack off to give me a spare tube and it never made it back onto my bike. Which meant that all of those tools, and the spare tube, were ever-so-conveniently back at the house. Seriously. After all of my posturing about promising not only to be prepared for my own future flat-tastrophies, but also so that I could help save others if the need arose. You know, so I could pay it forward from last weekend. So much for good intentions. Chalk that up to a big, fat FAIL.

Might as well have been riding here!
Photo by fireflythegreat

Fortunately, I flatted not, nor did I run into any other dudes or damsels in distress. Whew. I didn’t miss my first opportunity to pay it forward…There is still time for redemption.

And, needless to say, the first thing I did when I got home was to locate my bike bag and reattach it to my seat. And now, ladies and gentlemen, I proclaim myself ready  prepared for anything.

 

 

p/s – to whom it may concern, that is not be misconstrued as “bring it”… I’m perfectly happy never touching my fixin’ tools…

battles with the evil foam roller…

I’ve recently resumed foam rolling out of, uh, necessity. I find it helps my running – it’s one of the magic components of a flexibility and strength plan that keeps me on track and trucking along. For those of you who haven’t experienced the torture that is foam rolling, let me warn you: While disguised as docile creators and lauded for their many therapeutic benefits, foam rollers are really quite evil, nasty creatures.

Therapeutic benefits may lead you to think… therapy. And therapy’s  a good thing, right? Immediately, visions of serene spas. The peaceful sounds of a gentle fountain in the background. Perhaps some quiet, relaxing music. Maybe the smell of lavender. Ahhh. Well that sounds perfectly lovely, you think to yourself. Why not?

Be careful. Don’t let the vicious foam roller lull you into complacency. Don’t be fooled by its soothing colors (ours is many shades of blue, presumably designed to make you think calming thoughts of nice cool waters, ocean breezes and beautiful blue cloudless skies). Sitting there in the corner it looks so harmless. How could such a little piece of foam be bad?

But once it has pulled you in by convincing you that somehow it will be a peaceful therapy session, the delusions it has created in your mind will come crashing down. You find yourself rolling up and down along your IT band and your world becomes one of violent pain. In no time, you’ll be gritting your teeth, clenching your jaw, cursing its very existence, thinking and at times, maybe even yelling obscenities of which you weren’t entirely sure you were capable. And, if you’re anything like me, within minutes of this torturous “therapy” you’ll find yourself hurling the cursed foam roller out of the room with a yell that is one part anger and one part victory (albeit a small one, one more of survival than anything), leading others in your house to wonder about your sanity and indeed, your very well being.

Experts suggest this so-called therapy several times a week to keep muscles and tendons pliable and flexible. Ironically, this painful therapy is supposed to help with sore muscles, as well as increase flexibility, decrease muscle tension and help to prevent injury. I was introduced to the foam roller years ago when I was first having IT band issues. Unfortunately, I find that if I do not stay up on a few key core strengthening exercises and foam rolling, my IT band starts to complain. Eventually if I slack off for long enough, I’ll be out running and my tight, neglected IT bands begin the mutter and complain. And without foam rolling, this muttering soon turns into a constant yell. Apparently, I have a couple of masochistic IT bands. Dang.

Anyhoo. If you, too, find the need for more pain in your life and feel that trading a few minutes of pain and suffering each night for the promise of less pain in the long term, here’s a video for you to check out and also a couple of links to articles that explain some other foam rolling exercises.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Runners World – Foam Rolling for Runners

Running Times – The (almost) Magical Foam Roller