it’s just $50 more…

Once upon a time, I was standing in the kitchen, declaring to my hubby my decision to do a half-Ironman. It was a somewhat random decision and a little out of the blue, so not surprisingly, Hubby asked “Why?” To which I confidently responded, “Well, I know I can swim. And I know I can run. And any fool can ride a bike!

That was then. But now?

Turns out, NOT every fool can bike. SIGH. Almost every fool can bike… I appear to be the grand exception.

Ok, maybe I’m not a completely awful biker but that is how it feels a lot of days. More days than not an individual who I’ve deemed NOT worthy of passing me for one reason or another goes whizzing, I mean WHIZZING past me with what appears to be virtually ZERO effort. Let’s agree that: a) there is a good, valid reason they’re faster than me, like the fact that they’ve probably put a lot of time and effort (and $$) into biking and therefore deserve to be faster and b) I’m not a great biker, probably because I haven’t put in as much into it as the speedy bugger that just passed me. 

Here’s the thing about biking that I’ve discovered. Unlike running, which you can do with really pretty minimal equipment, and swimming, which is almost purely technique-driven, biking is hugely gear-driven in my opinion and way more so than the other 2 sports involved in Ironman.

Weight, rolling weight, cadence, road vs-tri bikes, racing wheels, threads-per-inch, carbon frames and super fantastic components and accessories just to name a few things… All of these things can add up to have an effect on race day. And each of them is “Just $50 more…”. (Actually many of them are just $100 more or $200 more, but I digress.)

If you’re me, you learn about them 5 or 6 weeks before race day.You know, when you’re spazzing out about making cut-off times and freaking out about trying to figure out all of the logistical stuff and squeezing in a couple of last looooong bike rides and its too late to do much about a lot of them.

Cool gadgets. Aero bar hammocks? Whoa, what’s that? (I’m sure I need one…)

The latest and greatest tri shorts? Spandex colorful enough that your family and friends can find you in the crowd of athletes (and flattering enough that you’d dare drape yourself in skin-tight fabric from your neck to knees for the duration of the day (12-17 hours?) when thousands of athletes better looking and in better shape than you and thousands of spectators will see you and judge you based on how well you are pulling off said spandex…). And more importantly, comfortable enough that it’s tolerable for that long?

Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching.

There are stats that will show you just how expensive completing an Ironman is. And I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical of the numbers. The popular figure seems to be $10,000. That seemed like an exaggeration at the time but I may be changing my tune.

But here we are, just 29 days from race day and new gear seems to be appearing at our house – if we don’t pick it up in the store, it magically arrives at our doorstep almost daily (oh, e-commerce, how I love and loathe you…). Cases of energy gels for training. Protein powder. New running shoes. Drink mixes. Water bottles. Shorts. New tires for race day. Neoprene cap and swim booties, just in case the water is freezing.

Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching.

Another bike fit to fine tune a few last minute things (Cha-ching)…which leads to a new bike seat or two to make the aero position tolerable (Cha-ching, cha-ching). You may even be as (un)lucky as me and have to try a bunch of different seats to find the one that will work.

Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching.

I haven’t kept track of our spending for Ironman. I guess if I were to add anything to that $10,000 figure it would be to say that I think a lot of the spending is front and back-loaded. Gear to get you up and going. And then all the last minute stuff you discover you “need”.

And that’s where we’re at. Broke, exhausted, grumpy, tired of energy gels and surrounded by a mess of FedEx boxes. There are a lot of things we’ve decided to pass on (like $300 on renting race day wheels to save 10-15 minutes).  But hopefully there are also a lot of things that we’ve “invested” in that besides draining our accounts will hopefully also more and more ready for race day. Here’s hoping…

It’s like this – only my bank account does NOT say 1-0-0-0-0-0-oh so you can’t help but  feel broke when you get home!

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the 15 minute rule…

Ever have one of those days? You know the ones, don’t you?  When it’s hard enough to convince yourself to change into your gym clothes, let alone leave the house and go workout. The days where you get to the trailhead or the pool or the gym and you’re not sure you have the willpower to even start. The days when you sit with your gym bag on the bench next to you, staring at the locker, just willing yourself to put your socks on. Change your shoes. You know the days.

Yesterday I had one. I made it to the pool. I did. I got that far. I even got into my swimsuit and cap, ready to roll. And I had the place ALL to myself and a quiet, calm water surface that was mine, all mine. Usually a place of extreme peace and serenity for me. Bodes well and I thought I was golden, but on this particular day, it was all downhill from there.

Physically, I felt fine. Well, a little tired. (But really what do you expect?)  But I thought I’d be able to push through. And that’s when the mental tired hit me. Really, I can usually push through that too. I consider myself to be pretty steely. Pretty mentally tough. Very much a mind-over-matter type of gal. It’s a point of pride for me. A hallmark of my character, if you will.

Yet yesterday, lap after lap, all I could think of was “i don’t wanna i don’t wanna i don’t wanna i don’t wanna.” Ugh.

And sometimes, this just happens to me. So every once in a while, I give myself permission to pack it in for the day. There are rules, however (can’t have myself just willy nilly throwing in the towel EVERY day, now can we? Talk about chaos…). Well actually there is just 1 rule. You ready for it?

No matter what, I MUST WORK OUT FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES.

I have to at least make an attempt.  If I’m still not feeling it when the chrono hits 15, then I can call it a day. Running, biking, swimming, whatever. And hey, at least I got 15 minutes of exercise (better than none at all…).

Here’s the beauty of this rule. For me, I almost always feel much better right around 12 or 13 minutes and then I’m in it for the long haul and able to finish whatever workout was on the books for the day. It’s practically like clockwork. But not quite. Almost always.

Yesterday’s swim was more like 25-30 grueling and mentally demanding minutes. But when just could not pull another 50 yards out, let alone another 1000+, I gave myself permission to jump out and hit the showers. And just like back in the high school swimming days, a long hot shower after some pool time makes everything better.

I got back on the horse today. And while it wasn’t a-mazing, you’ll be pleased to know that today’s swim was better. Much, much better.

 

SWIM 5/10/2012

2x {50 free, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 fly}
4×50 scull drill
5×300 (sight 1x per 25)
2×100 Cool down

Total 2300

rewards (in the form of lemon berry ricotta crepes)…

One of the reasons we work out is so we can eat more, right? If you know me, you know I LOVE food and you know that I think that one of the great things about this many workouts a week is that I’m torching tons of calories. Which basically means I can eat almost anything I want and be (almost) totally justified in the irresponsibility of the indulgence. Awesome.

The trick is to a) not to eat more than I’m burning (and that is definitely a feat some days – I hate to pass up an opportunity to indulge!) and b) to replace those burned calories with things my body can use for fuel in the next day’s workout (i.e. protein and carbs and all that good stuff). It gets a little scientific for me, but I know that eating potato chips and Twix bars for meals will leave me feeling worn out big time in the next day’s workout. It’s not really worth it to be dragging over a bad decision. So we stick to the basics, a lot of super foods – fruits, veggies, salmon, black beans. Lots of salads. Stir frys. Mexican goops. And fortunately, we don’t usually have much of the “bad” stuff in our house anyways, so not much temptation.

But obviously it’s fun to reward yourself for sticking to your training, so I often do. And often these rewards are in the form of food. Not only that, but they commonly take the form of processed sugars. You know, cookies and the like.

Sundays are great for rewards like sleeping in. Waking up without an alarm clock. This particular Sunday also proved to be a great day for Lemon Berry Ricotta Crepes, which we had originally planned to have for breakfast but turned out to be a great dinner as well –

Here’s the recipe, which I adapted from a recipe for crepes that I found in our local paper and combined with a recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce from Two Peas & Their Pod (though I pretty much just used their blueberry sauce recipe and saved the pancakes part for another reward day…).

Ingredients:

For the Berry Sauce:
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh or frozen berries
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water

For the Ricotta Filling (you could probably cut this in half – we had a lot leftover):
2 cups ricotta cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Crepes:
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 fluid ounces water
1 cup all purspose flour
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Vegetable oil for the pan

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and cornstarch and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine berries (we used frozen mixed berries), sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and stir in lemon juice and cornstarch mixture. Stir until the sauce thickens slightly. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Combine ricotta, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Refrigerate until ready to fill crepes. Refrigerate until ready to fill crepes.

Combine eggs, milk and water; mix well. Add flour and mix until just combined. While stirring, pour in melted butter. Mix well until smooth.

Heat ½ teaspoon of vegetable oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel, leaving a thin film of oil.

Pour a scant ¼ cup crepe batter into the skillet and tilt the pan until batter evenly covers the bottom of the pan. Cook crepe without moving until top surface is dry and edges start to brown, loosening it from the side of the pan with a spatula. Gently slide spatula under edge of crepe. Grasp with fingertips and flip crepe. Cook until second side is lightly spotted golden brown.

Fill each crepe with sweetened ricotta cheese and berries. Roll up and place seam side down on a plate. Top with a dollop of ricotta (and the recipe also suggests fresh mint leaves and fresh fruit. We weren’t classy enough for fresh mint, but we had strawberries!)

What’s great about having these for dinner is that you know you’ve either earned them. Or you haven’t. In our case, I figured that 8 workouts over the course of this past week called for a crepe-tacular, fruit and ricotta-filled breakfast/dinner.

Although now that I think about it, having these for breakfast would put some pressure on me to go get a workout in at some point during the day! Cheers!

so long, stinky ts…

Workout clothing has made huge strides in the past 10-15 years or so. Remember the old cotton ts we used to work out in when we were in high school? Running stairs during volleyball practice in those hot, “Heavy Cotton” Fruit of the Loom Ts? I mean seriously – they said HEAVY COTTON, like that was a good thing! My 1st 5k was in a cotton t and my reward for finishing said 5k? A cotton t commemorating the day.

These days, technical ts rule my closet and drawers. I’m more likely to do a race that promises technical ts to the successful finishers. Shallow, sure. But it’s the new standard. My old cotton Ts have been relegated to the bottom of the drawer and dozens more race Ts are stashed in a box, awaiting their future as a Race T quilt.

photo found here

I live in technical ts in the spring, summer and fall (and who am I kidding, winter too), sweating in them hours a day, every day. Especially when it’s race season. And while each technical t maker will undoubtably tout the “quick-drying, moisture wicking” qualities of the t-shirt, with some even claiming to have “antimicrobial” qualities that “CONTROL THE GROWTH OF ODOR CAUSING MICROBES”, after some time, these Ts too will stink. Even if you follow the proper care instructions, it’s just a matter of time. This season, though it is still early, I’ve noticed a few of my favorite workout ts are in definite need of retirement. How do I know this? Well. It’s like as soon as I start sweating in them, all of the smell of all of the sweat I’ve EVER sweat in them comes rushing out in a nasty rush of highly offensive wafts that aggressively attack my nostrils (and presumably the nostrils of those around me, if anyone should be so unfortunate as to be within a quarter mile of me at the time…). How embarrassing. You know its time to dump those old ts when, 5 minutes into your workout, people start sniffing the air, wondering where that horrible scent has arisen from and why, oh why, they must be present to bear witness to it on this of all unfortunate days.

Dear old ts, you’ve been good companions, nothing but loyal and efficient servants in times of overheating and high perspiration, faithfully wicking moisture away from my body in my times of need. But I’m afraid its time for us to part ways.

Running store websites are calling my name, their pages full of colorful new ts and the promise of a (temporarily) clean slate. It’s that time. Time to start anew. A-shopping I will go. Trust me, my nose (and your nose) will thank me later.

photo by Fleet Feet

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!)!

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!