Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I chose not to go home for Christmas this year in a desperate attempt to gain the days necessary to stabilize my life.  The job change and move (that was not to be) meant that taking a week to go home was more than I could handle. 

I thought to myself... South Florida is balmy but not terribly festive.  I probably won't notice.

That could not have been farther from the truth.  I was fine until Christmas Eve when my sister sent me a pic of herself and the freshly decorated tree.  I burst into tears then slid into depression. 

Desperate to break up the funk, I headed to the gym and did my swimming workout. Then I headed to whole foods and got some fresh fruits and veggies, a big bouquet of sunflowers, and a scented candle-apple cinnamon.    I also got some cookie dough and made bicycle themed Christmas cookies for the owner of my favorite bike shop.  All this helped a bit and I got to skype my family on Christmas Eve!

Christmas morning a few people had organized some informal group rides.  I signed up for two that were two hours apart.  It was my intention to stay on that bicycle until I was too tired to be sad about Christmas. 

The first ride was with a woman who is probably one of the fittest people I have ever met.  When she decides to push the envelope, all I can do is wave goodbye.  We were talking about it and I told her that I missed my family.  Her response was that my "cycling family was the next best thing".  It was great to feel accepted into the group like that.

Later, on the second group ride, we detoured through a military graveyard and rode past the rows of gravestones, each with a wreath, in reverent silence.  As we passed the last few rows, one of the guys - a former marine, did an informal salute and said "Merry Christmas Gentlemen and Thank You!".  It is difficult to ride with a big lump in your throat.

In all, my Christmas blues were banished by 78 miles on my bicycle.  I replaced emotional pain with physical pain.  No really, it is time to replace the bike saddle.... REALLY IMPORTANT!!  That will be happening sooner rather than later.  In fact, before I ride again.  Ow.  Whimper.

Of course, 78 miles is a personal record.  I was only scheduled to do 60 on my long ride this week.  My coach, in keeping with the generosity of the season, put next weeks training online a day early.  I looked at my long ride next week and discovered that he saw my 78 and raised me 80.  About that new saddle....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Gear!

You know.... they talk about the gear.  They review the gear.  All the tech-heads I train with have the gear.  I have only the most essential gear.  For running, shoes and a $5 watch.  For cycling, bike, helmet, hand-me-down clothes, funky shoes.  For swimming, cheap suit, cheap cap, cheap goggles.  I am more inclined to bring mini baked potatoes to eat on a ride than buy a GU or something similar.  In all, I am inclined to believe that keeping it simple, at least at first, is the way to go.  (read:  I got no cash.)

However, in my temporarily poverty stricken state... which is due in large part to the fact that I got a new job.  This time of year I am primarily helping other people who have decided, in light of the fact that I will not be able to help them during the peak season, to enlist the services of those who will.  So I am in limbo until I start this new job.  Plus I have jury duty next week.  They will offer me a healthy paycheck of $30 a day for every day past the third in exchange for the right to ruin my ability to scare up work at the first real horse show of the year.  We are not even going to discuss what I am considering to get the rent paid. 

On top of this, my car has chosen this week to need mechanical attention.  Not anything that can be ignored... like a check engine light... but rather immediately overheating as soon as it is driven more than two blocks.  I have taken it to the mechanic for repairs and am holding to the idea that it will all work out.  In the meantime, I am glad I have a bicycle.  It is my primary mode of transport these days. 

How, you ask, does the first paragraph relate to the second and third?  Well, stay tuned and all will be explained. 

The thing about gear, even the simple stuff is that it has to work, fit and be adjusted properly or it can do more harm than good.  See, I have this intense multi-sport workout schedule that takes pretty much every ounce of energy to complete. (Yeah, I could point that out to the coach, but I keep thinking I will adapt soon and I HATE to admit defeat.)  And for the most part, all of them take place at one of a few locations ranging from 13 to 18 miles from my lovely home.  And then there is my skeletal job, which is 16 miles away.  Normally, I cover those miles in the car but as you know from the earlier paragraph, that's not working out so well for me right now.  It amounts to a lot of mileage that is outside the regular workout schedule. 

Again, how does this relate to gear?  Well, my bike fit is off by a bit and my running shoes are a year old and in need of replacing.  That, combined with the increased mileage, means that my back has decided to throw in the old towel, on the week that I can't just opt out of riding!!

I am supposed to just do a very easy 1000 yds in the pool today on the heels of completely breaking down and limping out of my interval workout last night.  And I agree, that would be exactly what I need since we all know that back problems are on exacerbated by fully resting.  But I am four miles from the nearest indoor pool and the outdoor pool on the roof of my building would require a wet suit, grease and a support team!


Note to self, get your gear fixed ASAP.


Friday, December 10, 2010

A Day of Rest!

I have a rest day today.  That means that my only scheduled workout is an easy thirty-five minute run.  It also means that I completely tortured my body for the last three days and need to recover before this weekend's brick (a combination bike-run workout) and long ride (known as the bloody Sunday ride... for a reason!).  So what's a girl to do...

For starters, sleep.  Sleep until you can't sleep anymore.  You know that gluttonous pleasure of no morning obligations?  YEAH!  Sleep in, take a nap, whatever.  Supposedly, the body does all it's good work when you are sleeping, kind of like the Toothfairy.  The Toothfairy hormones go to work repairing damage, building muscle, and burning fat.  Oh, that is so much cooler than leaving a quarter for a little discarded enamel.  If only I could get out of the habit of drinking coffee by the pot, I'd be golden. 

Eat.  Oh boy!  I can sure do that!!  OK, what this really means is eat this carefully balanced array of nutrients so that the body can repair itself and refuel it's reserves for tomorrow.  Buzzkill.

Read.  OK, technically this doesn't help in recovery but it is so much easier to read on a rest day than on a heavy day when your eyes can't focus due to exhaustion.  That way, some of the training tips might have a chance of penetrating the gray matter and getting stored for later use.  It also serves to keep the mind focused on training.  I find that if I don't train, my first impulse is to forget that I ever did or wanted to.  Usually, I remember after I have burrowed like a cocaine-driven mole through three quarters of a half-gallon of ice cream.... OH, YEAH!  I didn't want to sabotage myself today.  Crap.

Walk the dogs to the waterfront.  Or some other thing I don't normally have time to do.  Like date.  HAHAHAHAHA!  OK, better now.  Seriously, I am finding that I chose a sport that will eat your life like some universe sucking black hole.  Fun and socializing are teetering on the event horizon like a couple of doomed planets and there is no Hollywood hero in a fancy ship coming around the corner to save them.  Besides, walking the dogs to the waterfront makes for tired dogs, empty of poop, and that is a blessing.

Cheers all!  It's nap time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Not just one of those days...

Yesterday was emotionally and physically grueling.  I am working near home now.  It is a weird feeling.  When I am on the road and working, my sleep is interrupted and I am exhausted, but for all intents and purposes, life is totally on hold.  I eat, sleep, work and work out.  There are no other priorities.  When I am at home and all of life's details are tugging at me, it becomes very difficult to be so tired.  At the moment, I am not busy enough to wear myself out, relax about money and finally fall asleep as I normally would.  Instead, my sleep is interrupted but there are none of the usual upsides working in my favor.  The result... one very incoherent, cranky woman.

On top of that, one of the other braiders (that is what I do... at least for now.  I'll discuss the new job later) has a pair of pretty aggressive German Shepherds.  They ran down my old dog and punched a few tooth holes into her back.  That was upsetting enough.  Later that morning, I found out that a friend is gravely ill and has been suffering with far more pain than I ever realized.  Those things, mixed with my angst and anxiety over moving away from my beloved town, in a base of exhaustion and stress, and made bitch soup.

The soup chef ran another 5K last night.  Not only did I feel leaden while I was running, I allowed EVERYTHING to piss me off.  I was running near a group of children to whom a race course was a playground and their antics and capers were irritating and slightly dangerous.  They were hurdling cones (IE. jumping at them, not over them and sending them flying into the crowds of runners), yelling, screaming, weaving in and out of traffic, while starting and stopping without care for who they tripped or interrupted, etc.  It was enough to irritate me on the best of days.  Yesterday, it made me borderline sociopathic.  I was wishing for a pox upon all their houses.  (Not really but to post what I was actually thinking on the Internet might be irresponsible)

When I warmed up, my legs felt totally leaden.  I could barely move.  I felt tired, dehydrated, and stiff.  I warmed out of it okay and found a pretty good rhythm.  Then they called everyone to line up twenty minutes before the gun.  It was cold and we were packed in so tight that I couldn't stay warm.  I had no strategy for dealing with this (let's face it, I have no strategy other than try not to fall down and watch out for stationary objects).  By the time the gun went off, ancient oak trees could have run faster. 

I wasted as much energy as possible being pissed off instead of settling into any kind of zen space.  Then I started thinking about all the events of the day.  I was disgusted with myself for not running faster, berating myself for worrying about a little discomfort when this friend is dealing with pain I cannot even comprehend, feeling sorry for myself that I am going to have to leave a town I love (for a fantastic new job in a fantastic city... it's just not a warm city.  Like 10% of Americans would kill to have any job and right now I have two that pay well... add disgust with my own lack of perspective to the list), being angry that these dogs have turned one of my dogs into a midnight snack... AGAIN (Hate them), and generally feeling like poo.  This is not the formula for a good race. 

AND yet, I managed to cross that finish line faster than I ever have before.  In the spirit of the evening, I was frustrated and disappointed in my time because I wanted a PR by a LARGER margin.  Okay, maybe there needs to be a bit of an attitude adjustment on all fronts... except maybe the dogs.  If they snack on my sweet puppies again, I will have Shepherds Pie for dinner!!!

At present, I am cleaning my house (and by cleaning, I mean procrastinating by blogging) because that is the shortest route I know to a good outlook on life. 

I'll let you know how that works out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One Holiday Down... and Mom did the 5K!!

I have made it through the insulin fest called Thanksgiving.  I went to South Carolina to celebrate with family.  I got the idea of doing a T-day 5K and tossed the idea out to everyone.  I actually figured I would be doing it alone but we ended up with a team!  Mom, Aunt N, Aunt A and Uncle J joined me.  Getting them organized proved to be a touch difficult... the way reforming health care or herding cats can be a touch difficult.  But we got there, all made it to the start and all made it to the finish.  I have never done a 5K with my mother and a year ago, when she had her second hip replacement, it seemed totally inconceivable (GO MOM!!).

Surviving the meal was an adventure since I have recently adopted a gluten-free diet.  (I resisted for years but the GI issues ultimately became very persuasive.)  I ate more salad than anything else and completely skipped the stuffing, green bean casserole and ALL PIE.  There was a moment of weakness when a few squares of Ghiradelli chocolate went down as quickly as my bank balance at Christmas time!  I also managed to complete every scheduled workout, including a brick in 44 degree weather and a long ride in 37 degree weather.  Yay!!

On Monday, I headed home and then the need for a confessional arose.  I stopped to pick up a book on tape since lately the prospect of long drives has been driving me nearly out of my mind.  I found the perfect antidote for the impending psychotic break and headed for the register.  That is where the trouble started.

Do you know what happens after Thanksgiving?  The retail stores try to put you in a festive mood.  Lights, decorations, cheesy music.... and white chocolate peppermint bark.  I didn't even have the car started when the first half of the bar went the way of a lawyer in T-Rex's gullet.  I was through the rest in, oh, maybe 45 mins.  I will need to avoid retail establishments in December for the rest of my natural life or risk peppermint induced diabetes.  Henceforth, all my loved ones will be receiving mail-order sausage and jelly baskets that they will regift the moment I look away.  I am okay with that.  Feliz Navidad!