After my trip to New Jersey I returned to find that I didn't really feel like running much. I would feel a little dread as I laced up my shoes, not eagerness.
I'm pretty sure I found the secret elixir to cure my apathy around 6 a.m. Saturday morning as I watched my husband and roughly 150 other runners line up at an old mining camp in the rolling grasslands near Sonoita, Ariz. - the Santa Rita Mountains lurking somewhere in the darkness. The ultrarunners, both professional and aspiring, rose early to tackle the Old Pueblo 50, a 50-mile race along portions of the Arizona Trail and dirt roads in and around Coronado National Forest.
I was able to crew for Adrian at miles seven, 25, 29, 40, 46 and then watched in amazement as he sprinted towards the finish line in a last minute race with another runner. He finished in 10 hours and 31 minutes. This year's winner finished in seven hours and 18 minutes. Runners would continue to stream and occasionally shuffle in for a couple more hours.
These are normal men and women, with regular day jobs as engineers, salesmen, lawyers, doctors, personal trainers etc. It wasn't as if the entire group was filled with professional athletes. And yet here they were on a Saturday morning, giddy with excitment, chatting and laughing and about to tackle 50 miles. The end elicited the same joy, relief and emotion for the runners, some now hobbled from their effort.
The look on the faces of those that finished was one of ultimate accomplishment and contentment. I think I got a brief glimpse of what it might feel like crossing the finish line at Wildflower. These days as I lace up my running shoes, I think about cruising along, the wind hopefully at my back and all those folks who can't wait to get out there and run 50 miles.
Last week ended on a high note with my long bike ride. The day after I flew out to New Jersey to visit some family. I knew it would be difficult to get a swim or cycle in. I packed my running shoes in hopes of logging some much needed miles in even though I knew my schedule would be packed with family visits and work.
I've laid off running for a few weeks because of the lingering tenderness in my right knee. The pain finally subsided and I've been ramping up up running regiment ever since. I had hoped to get a few long runs in during my five days back East. My first monring I woke up and the snow was already falling. A Noreaster hit that night, 10 inches of snow fell and my choices were immediately cut down to a treadmill in the hotel.
I can't complain. When I lived in Wisconsin the only option during the winter months was a treadmill or braving the cold and snow. My short time back in the desert has made me soft, so I stuck to running indoors. I managed two runs, which were a struggle because they were boring.
I can't write enough about how hard it is to stay on task while traveling. It's been my biggest hurdle to date. Luckily, I have avoided sickness. Everytime my schedule shifts - even one day trips away from home - my training seems to slip.
So what do all of you do when you're traveling with little more than a pair of running shoes? And how do you get those necessary workouts in when you're traveling on business and are limited by a tight schedule or the weather?
Every day I continue my training, I am more and more impressed with endurance sports athletes. Its hard enough to continuallly train 6 days a week and eat right for an Olympic Tri at an amateur level. I'd imagine that training to compete at an expert level must take at least twice as much time and probably double that amount to race an Ironman. That means that training to just complete an Ironman would probably take 32-40 hours a week of training, eating extremely healthy 7 days a week, and no partying (my crutch). If you were still living with your parents and did not have to worry about sustaining a living that might not be a problem, but from what I've seen, most people that compete in endurance racing have jobs that they're at 40+ hours a week. That makes an average of 11.5 hours a day devoted to work and working out. That only leaves about 6 hours left per day to manage eating, family, friends, animals, religion, home, etc. On top of that, there are few people that get paid any substantial amount of money to compete and most people just to it for a pride and fellowship. All of the above makes me respect and admire all endurance athletes past, present and future for their efforts and dedication to a sport that does not offer huge monetary rewards, but an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction.
If anyone was wondering Javier is crazy. On top of his workouts he played indoor soccer on Tuesday and Wednesday. He was telling me about it on Wednesday morning and I didn't fully appreciate what he was talking about. Then I played with him after my workout on Wednesday night. First of all, I need to clarify that I'm not a soccer player and although Javier was nice enough to set me up for a goal after he beat two people I also accidentally deflected the ball into our goal on defense so it kind of evened out. I guess there was one other one passed to me that I was able to tap in earlier on. Nonetheless, I was beat afterwards and I didn't play half as long as he did. My legs and feet were sore in ways I haven't experienced before. I thought basketball once or twice a week was bad but soccer definately takes the cake. At least you don't have to jump so much in soccer. On Monday, I was taking the ball in and pulled up for a jump shot and instead of rising into the air to a comfortable level for my shot I traveled so little that I was starting to wonder if I even left the ground. I had come straight from the gym and apparantly my legs hadn't recovered from doing squats yet. That was embrarrasing. Suffice it to say I missed the shot. As the weather continues to get better I'm hoping to start working in some Ultimate Frisbee. I'm almost feeling like I'm getting back into the groove of working out after being out sick and I'm excited at the prospects of being in shape for a frisbee game. At the same time I'm disappointed that I'm not in nearly as good of form as I would have hoped to be in by now. I guess I'll just have to take full advantage of these last two months.
For weeks a friend of our family's and longtime cyclist has suggested we take a ride to together. We always had good intentions, it just never seemed to happen.
We found a few hours to hit the road Friday and my only wish is I had done this much earlier. From the beginning, it was relaxing, yet challenging and I blocked out the cars. Tucson, Ariz., is a great cycling town and dozens of professionals and other serious riders descend on the city each year to ride the hilly terrain of the foothills. The strong cycling advocacy in my town has resulted in lots of nice bike lanes. I was still afraid of traffic, even with the bike lanes and never felt totally comfortable with cars whizzing by.
Friday's ride changed all that. We took off from my house and made our way along River Road, an east-west hilly road that splits Tucson between the foothills to the north and the city to the south. We rode to Sabino Canyon, a beautiful desert park at the eastern foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains and then cruised through a variety of neighborhoods. We returned following the same path for the first half and then headed south into the city and finally back up to my house.
I am no cycling expert. I fall much closer to the rookie category. Our ride was mostly instructional and I've started to inch my self away from rookie. I learned a lot more about shifting technique, riding with traffic and even practiced - as silly as it sounds - drinking out of my water bottle more effectively.
I can't wait these days to get back on my bike. Everyone has got to find a maven for themselves. Although Mike, it sounds like you might be one yourself.
Mike's blog talked about the challenges of fueling and hydration for training and racing. On my main page of Active Trainer lives several reference documents. If you haven't read them lately (or at all), take a look here about 3/4 down the page.
Since the team is getting into some longer workouts, be sure to take a look at the Exercise Fueling document.
Wheeew. The brick workouts combining running and cycling at the same time are really kicking my butt. I can maintain a good pace doing either one individually, but combining the both back to back is ****. It is taking some serious determination and mental strength to even start the run after a decent bike ride. I did start taking GU (which is an energy gel) and that seems to be helping my energy levels if I can consume one of those before I start the bike portion and one before I start the run.
I am sure this phase of wanting to lose it each time I hear the word brick will go away soon just like my resentment for the word swim soon faded a month into my base training. In the mean time, I figured I would gripe about it while I could.
I couldn't resist. When Jesse sent me a link to this video I thought of you guys! Kirsten, you said you were looking for motivation a while back. If this doesn't help you, I don't know what will. So here it is...The Triathlon Song.
Yesterday I went swiming and then running. Although i was really tired and did not want to run after the swim i forced myself to do it. I was astonished when i realized that i could keep running and running. I think all this training is paying off. Lately, I have realized that i can keep going ,not at the fastest of paces, even when i am extremly tired. I also glad because i feel i have more energy during day (which i dont really know if it is a good thing, since i try to do more things and get tired by the time i am supposed to excercise.) I am really looking forward to excercising tonight !!!!
I'm going to have one of those rants that addresses everyone generally, but really I'm only to talking about a few of you - and you know who you are. Actually, you probably don't, which makes it worse.
I'm talking about drivers. You know the people. They get into their protective steel one-ton boxes and fly across roads, talking on their cell phones all the while swerving into bike lanes, cutting into bike lanes when they want to turn right, and generally doing their best to kill me.
I am, of course, not in a protective steel box. I'm on my bike. So when I see a - faded black Honda Accord (shall I include the license plate?) - turning right as I make my way across the street just north of him, and then that person changes their mind, flips around to go left and almost nails me ... Well, I get scared and angry. I probably shout expletives. Yes, I shout a lot of them. And this really solves nothing. It only makes me more angry when the guy in the faded black Honda Accord shrugs and scoots around me.
I know a huge part of my problem is I'm simply not used to riding in a bike lane with cars whipping past me. The majority of cars are not trying to kill me. If anything they are trying to avoid me.
When I got my new bike and began practicing clipping and unclipping, I primarily stuck to this great carless biking and running path that runs behind our house. The path follows the Rillito, which is a riverbed, not a river because this is the desert. But on occasion a river runs through it so I suppose that's why the city built a path along its side.
I stuck to the bike path for far too long. For one, it is easy and convenient to jump on and off of. Plus, it is perfect if I can't get a ride in until around rush hour and the path is long enough to get 20 miles in or more. The problem is it's flat. The Wildflower, as we all are learning, is hilly.
I need to get used to what everyone else who cycles has had to learn. Cars, or more specifically the people driving them, will try to kill you. But that's OK because most drivers try to avoid cyclists and you just have to keep your eyes open for all the faded black Honda Accords out there.
This last Sunday I decided to step up and see where I was at in my training and opted to do a 30 mile bike loop and then run for as long as I could. I averaged 16 mph on a hilly loop without pushing it too much on the bike because I was trying to save some energy for the run. I was pretty satisfied with that effort and took off running about 5 minutes after the bike ride.
As the run started out, my legs felt really wierd as if I was floating. It wasn't necessarily a sense of fatigue but just different. I got about 1 mile into my run and had to stop because the front outside part on the bottom of my left leg was starting to throb. Not like a shin splint, but like it was going to explode if I kept going. This is a common sensation that you get from riding motorcycles, but it occurs in your forearms. Anyways, I switched to a run/walk after that to avoid injury. Once I got home, I put some ice on it and all was back to normal pretty fast.
I am guessing it has something to do with dehydration due to all the water I burned up during the bike, If anyone can offer a remedy to this sensation, I woud wlecome it with open arms.
So I missed all of last week. I stayed home from work and stayed home from the gym and slept a bunch. I started feeling better yesterday and managed to stay for all of church. Today I'm at work again but my heads starting to remind me that I'm still not 100%. Running sounds reasonable but I just don't know if I can handle the pool yet. The week before last I think I did myself in swimming. I was feeling really good and then the day after I went swimming I suddenly started feeling tons worse. Not sure if there was a connection there or not - maybe it's just in my head. The worst part about it is I still haven't had a chance to try out some of the latest swimming tips. I'm excited to make a breakthrough in the pool and am sure that it'll come if I just put in the time. I just don't want to risk not getting better this time.
Well.... not exactly, but that's what I tell my self for encouragement. Each day I get in the pool I feel stronger. I am sure it is the drills and using the kickboard is really helping out as well. My roommate who was killing me in the swim is still swimming much farther, but I am at least able to hold pace with him which is positive. Below is a list of all my issues I still am having with the swim.
When are you supposed to breathe? I am currenlty breathing on every other stroke, but only on my right side. I see an equal amount of people breathing out on both sides as I see breathing out of one side. This seems to be one of the hardest part of swimming for me.
Breast Stroke or Freestyle? I can go faster swimming freestyle, but can not maintain the speed or consistency do to my issues breathing described above. The breast stroke seems to be substanially easier for me and I can keep up a consistent pace using this swim technique. I guess what I am asking, is what will be better when I actually compete. A faster, less consistent method, or the steady and easier/consistent method?
Getting a stronger kick. I thought my kick was good until I saw a few of the other people in the pool using the kickboard and they just destroyed me. What workout outside of the pool can I do to improve this?