Monday, February 13, 2012

Cheerleading Tryouts At 3 In The Auditorium.

Well, the results are in and Lance has made a big splash.  Second place in the Men's Pro division.  I don't know what other athletes DW had in Panama but his wife placed second in the Women's.  Well done, both!

As I said in my last post, I was going to wait a few days before wailing that my (pathetic) hard won gains in running were gone forever.  NOW, I will cry about it!!  My fastest run last week was 40 seconds off my fastest run before getting sick and 15 seconds slower than my slowest.  Worse, I didn't regain speed as the week went on, I lost it.  (**sniff**)  I haven't even had the nerve to broach the subject with DW about how badly I run.  I am afraid he will tell me I am totally hopeless or worse, tell me something encouraging while believing that I am totally hopeless.

So many people get into this sport and are fast right away.  I feel like this great, heavy, dead- legged whale when I run.  Is it the weight?  Is it the form?  Both are issues, though I have overhauled my form quite a bit, with some good results, though I am technically not one bit faster than I was when I ran my second 5K, even though I am working MUCH, MUCH harder.  My second 5K time and my PR (only seconds faster than my best tri run) are only seconds apart with some wildly vary results in between.  One day I can jog happily at a 9:45 and sprint at a 6:45, the next the same jog is a 13:30 and sprinting doesn't even get me below 10:00.  I look at my fast times and if the ground is level, my max speed as recorded by the Garmin Overlord and tell myself "Once upon a time, you could only run for  one to two minutes at a time and it was at 4 mph on a treadmill.  Now you can go much farther much faster.  If you can move that fast for a minute, you can work to extend the amount of time it can be sustained.  There is a glimmer of hope and that is all you need."  Then I go out and my legs feel like lead, and my hope fizzles.  

I can seem to do everything right and no matter how hard I try, there is no speed to be had.  They just don't want to do their job.  It is intensely frustrating.  It is a frustration that I have in the pool and on the bike as well.  I did a set in December where I timed an all out 100, recovered and then keyed off that pace for several more hundreds.  My all out time was 1:27 and my follow up paces were in the 1:30s.  Then DW put workouts on the schedule that were based off that performance and I never got close to it again.  The harder I tried, the slower I swam (managed to slow down to the high 1:40s over the course of several attempts), the more frustrated I became until finally the workout I could never manage to pull off just stopped appearing in favor of more forgiving ones.  I am completely aware of the omission, though we never speak of it.

And don't even get me started on the bike.  Coming back to Florida meant returning to the old routes I used to ride and the computrainer center I used to frequent.  My average speeds over the same roads is several mph slower and the wattage I am pushing is significantly lower.  In all, I am slowing down in all three sports.  I am getting steadier, and perhaps handling it better, but going slower, without a doubt.  My strength to weight ratio has clearly gotten worse.

I find myself analyzing the course of events in my life.  I have now been on the road for 11 weeks and have 5 more before I go to Houston for 3, then I will finally see home... after 19 weeks away.  I have had huge stresses emotionally, gotten sick physically, etc, etc, etc.  Really?  I am just looking for there to be an external reason, something I can change, take away, make right, whatever.  I am trying to understand why someone can work so hard and see such limited result.

The same holds true for weight loss.  I am relatively disciplined, no gluten and dairy ever sees to that, and yet weight loss is erratic at best.  I lost 6 lbs in one week in December, and that brought me back down to my summertime low from before I got hurt.  But I have only dropped a total of 6 lbs for all of 2011.  I have over 30 I could stand to lose, and perhaps more.  30 would put me at the top end of a healthy BMI and all the weight calculator's ranges.  I am only 5'4" and I carry the weight of a 6' man!!

I realize that there are a variety of body types that can be successful in triathlon, just look at the top two women in Panama.  They are both dead fit but one is compact and strong while the other is lean and slender.  I would be in that first category, but with a lot of extra padding.  I know I won't be the athlete I want to be unless the weight comes off, and I know that is going to take a lot of hard work, but the puzzle for me is this... I do not believe my eating is out of control.  My calorie consumption (around 1800 per day holds me steady.. recommendations have me at around 2400 with my workload, training and my job, to lose a lb a week) is well below what it should be to lose weight and has been for years.  When I try to eat the calorie ranges that should produce a weight loss of a pound a week, I gain weight at an alarming pace.  I rarely skip a workout unless I am forced to by injury or illness and while my training load is conservative by triathlon standards, (6 hrs of bike and run, including threshold intervals, plus 7000 yds in the pool last week, a recovery week), it is more than enough to meet weight loss goals.

I believe I can do this.  I believe that if I do the right things, if I work hard enough, I will lose the weight and improve my speed.  I believe that even if I have to redefine my ideas of an ideal weight (though I doubt it will include a lot of jiggly bits), my performance will dictate when I have arrived at that goal.

I am considering the possibility that I need to reincorporate a weight program into my training.  DW has been reluctant to do that since I have so much muscle (which is apparently useless) and so little time.  Still, I think it is time to revisit the topic with him.  There is no way around the fact that my explosive power as well as steady strength have fallen off considerably, not to mention that my core has gotten so weak that I am once again starting to have issues with hip and back pain.  I don't know if this is the answer, but I am convinced that there is an answer.

I don't believe that I am JUST slow.  It is never that simple.  I can't handle the possibility that I am JUST slow so I will keep working and searching for an answer.  I didn't achieve some of my past athletic goals by accepting that I was just limited.  Instead, I challenged every one's ideas, including my own, until I became and undefeated fighter who finally crossed over to the men's divisions because there were no more challengers in the women's.  I was hopeless when I started that, too.

When DW returns from Panama, I am going to ask him some pointed questions about his program and how it is going to develop.  He clearly has a plan (he assures me that the athlete I will be in a year will be unrecognizable to the athlete I am today), something I was not confident of with my last coach, but it is time for me to understand that plan because I need to find a little faith.  I need to give him the feedback in this post.  I need to know there is hope.  I can't even say for what, because the loosely formed, long term goals I have seem (right now) totally outlandish.  I can't bring myself to tell anyone what I want from this.  It seems too presumptuous.  However, maybe I need to put it on the table.  If I state the goal, then perhaps he can help me to understand what to expect in terms of sacrifice to get there.  I am just terrified that he will say "Forget it.  THAT will never happen."  I need to know what steps I need to take to get where I want to be.  Right now, I am going forward, blind and fumbling, and following his instructions like a player in an game of "warmer/colder".   I am torn between truly believing in my coach and needing to understand the lay of the land to get a sense of perspective.

I certainly hope so.

In essence, I need a cheerleader right now.  (Not a skinny girl in a short skirt that makes me feel rotten in gym class, though beating one of those up would most certainly make me feel better.)  I need someone who will tell me I can, even if they are lying to me (just please be convincing).  Otherwise, I am working awfully hard to no effect.  As a completely goal/results driven person who struggles with confidence, I know that I cannot sustain this forever without a sense of some success.  I don't even need much success, just a firm belief that if I do THIS long enough, THAT result will happen.

I guess today I feel a little lost.

I also know I can accomplish something that is really difficult.  I can persevere when others would quit or just enjoy it as recreational.  I am stubborn as a mule when I put my mind to something.  Without an understanding of the scope of the challenge, I can't apply my considerable bull-headedness to the problem.  It is time I got that so that I can put my head down, get it done and know I am pointed in the right direction.

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