Friday, January 30, 2009

Perspective Cracks Me Up

I competed in two triathlons last year. They were both OWS (open water swims) and my first one was such a wild experience, it is worthy of an article. In fact, I DID write an article about it...

...but I digress.

My first tri this season will take place in this lovely 50 meter indoor pool you see in this post. I was initially excited about an indoor swim because of the heated water. Now, I've become more nervous about it than I would have ever imagined.

As I sit here and write about it, I think it's simply because of the close-up view spectators can have of you. Once you're far out in a lake, you just become a mesh of bright-colored swim cap and splashed water. In a pool, people are just a few feet away from you, able to watch you closely and I think it'll make me more self-conscious about my stroke, rotations, etc.

Anyway, so what cracks me up is that I was so terrified of doing an OWS last year. Now that it's become what I know, something that had seemed easy to me (indoor pool swimming) seems harder than what I now consider easy.

Bottom line? Harden up, have fun and get it done! Plus, I feel better already having figured out what was making me so nervous...and I'm not nervous anymore. Maybe I should just go ahead and delete this post...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Miss My Golden Brown

I was looking at the pics from my second tri back in September and I was struck by how brown my back and shoulders were.

Over these last few months, I hadn't realized just how much my natural paleness had been silently pushing out the soft amber that my training this past summer had helped me acquire.

I am such a pale person and getting a tan - even in modest amounts - has always made me feel better.

However, as I've aged and started to appreciate my mother and grandmother's terrific skin - and, therefore, what mine could be someday - I've decided that sunscreen on the face is a must.

To back up, I believe we are meant to be in the sun. The latest findings show the value of Vitamin D natural sunlight helps us obtain. Obviously, too much time in it can lead to skin cancer, but again, we're talking about extremes.

So, this summer, wanting to protect at least my face against premature aging but still wanting to reap the benefits of sun exposure, I just used sunscreen on my face. I got some nice tone to my shoulders and arms and that was enough to make me happy.

Maybe someday I'll wince when I start to see the wrinkling on said shoulders and arms, but today is not that day. Maybe even as soon as next year, when I really start to up my training for Half-Iron and Iron distances and will be out in the sun longer, I'll add the sunscreen elsewhere. But today is not that day.

Anyway, looking at my coloring in this picture has made me even more excited to be out on my new bike, sweating hard underneath a ninety-degree sun, my skin being recolored by nature. I can feel the sun's warmth now just thinking about it.

My, I sure do sound eccentric. Hmm. Oh, well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

10 Ways to Boost the Ol' Metabolism

WebMD has a good slideshow about ways to boost your metabolism. Here are some highlights as well as some commentary. Be sure to check out the link at the end for the full article.

1) Build muscle (I'm doing)
Everyone burns calories, even while doing nothing. This rate is much higher in people with more muscle. Each pound of muscle needs 6 cals a day while each pound of fat needs 2.

2) High intensity workouts (Thank you, triathlon training)
They deliver a bigger, longer increase in resting metabolic rate than moderate workouts.

3) Drink more water (Thank you, triathlon training)
In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four.

4) Have your drinks on the rocks (Check)
Ice-cold beverages prompt the body to burn more calories during digestion.

5) Eat more often (No problem here)
When you eat large meals with many hours in between, you train your metabolism to slow down.

6) Spice up your meals (Will start)
Eating a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper can temporarily boost your metabolic rate by 23 percent.

7) Eat more protein (My biggest goal already, actually)
The body burns up to twice as many calories digesting protein as it uses for fat or carbohydrates.

8) Drink black coffee (I just will never, ever be able to do)
In one study, the caffeine in two cups of coffee prompted a 145-pound woman to burn 50 extra calories over the next four hours.

9) Drink green tea (I've got some in my cabinet and will make some today)
Drinking two to four cups may push the body to burn an extra 50 calories each day. That adds up to 5 pounds of weight loss in a year.

10) Avoid crash diets (No problem)

Monday, January 19, 2009

You Know You're a Triathlete When...

I found some of these listed in a forum on BT (great stuff, guys) as well as a few other sites I'll reference at the bottom. I hope you enjoy.

  1. When you are vacationing 89 miles away at the beach, you leave five hours ahead of your wife and children on your bike and meet them there.

  2. When you're on a long run and have to use the bathroom, you run into the woods and another runner is doing the same thing - and it doesn't bother either of you.

  3. You forget that talking about daily LSD [Long Slow Distance] and speed weirds some people out.

  4. When asked how old you are, your answer is 30-34.

  5. You wave at other cyclists, because all triathletes are friendly and, if they are not, they are probably purist cyclists trying to get into triathlons and they do not yet know that triathletes are friendly.

  6. You have absolutely NO idea what to do with yourself on your off day. You mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, washed the car, and there are STILL 4 hours of daylight left! Aarrgghh!

  7. Your children are more likely to recognize you if you put on your bicycle helmet.

  8. You know where the good fishing is in the lake because of how the water tastes.

  9. You think an Ironman is easier then a marathon because you don't have to start by running fast.

  10. You feel like you took the day off because all you did was swim 3000 yards.

  11. Nobody believes you when you say, "Never again".

  12. You take part in the corporate challenge to improve your base speed.

  13. Your spouse is looking forward to the day when you will slow down and just run marathons.

  14. You know what bricks are.

  15. You are actually interested in the mile by mile recap of the fairly innocuous question, "So, how was your race?”

  16. You have paused in front of the mirror in your wetsuit and thought, “Hey, I look like a superhero."

  17. You have the belief that as long as your marriage is intact, you can afford yet a little more training.

  18. Your co-workers rarely see your hair down. It takes too much time to blow-dry after a 5:30 am swim and twisting wet hair into a bun takes 15 seconds.

  19. Your bicycle has a name, sleeps INSIDE the house, and is worth more - emotionally and monetarily - than your car.
  20. Shoveling snow is a part of your cross-training schedule.

  21. You make your 5 year old sit in a jogging stroller and go for a run because the baby doesn't weigh enough.

  22. You ride your bike more than you drive your car.

  23. You can run a 1-mile faster than your teenage kids - who are in track and cross country.

  24. You tuck your wife in, wait for her to fall asleep and then go workout.

  25. You know from experience how many minutes you can swim in 45 F or lower water before your core body temperature drops dangerously low, and then time your transition into dry clothes to avoid an outhouse.

  26. You have done an OWS while it was snowing.

  27. When you ask your dog if he wants to go for a run, he scampers and hides under the chair shaking.

  28. Your spouse doesn't blink when you say, "I should be back from my run in three hours."

  29. Your co-workers no longer think it's weird when you eat your "second lunch" at 3:00.

  30. An easy swim is any distance less than 1500 yards.

  31. You've run a marathon, but never just by itself.

  32. You plan your vacations around your training for your A, B or C race.

  33. You know the difference between an A, B or C race.

  34. When traveling, you select your hotel based on the exercise room.

  35. You consider work regeneration time between training sessions.

  36. When people praise you for being able to run 3 miles, you feel insulted.

  37. Your kids grab water bottles and energy bars when you suggest a family stroll.

  38. You think there are only two seasons during the year: racing and off.

  39. You need a picture for a job application and you only have race pictures.

  40. You know what the Yellow Socks Brigade is...and you belong.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ironman Championship 2008

Yes, there's one for triathlons, too.

There are many Ironman events around the globe. Just to name a few, there is one in China, Brazil, Japan, Australia, Lake Placid, France, Frankfurt, Canada, Switzerland, and, yes, even Louisville, Kentucky if you can believe it. The championship race happens in Kona, in Hawaii every year.

At the very end of this post, you'll find a link to the hour-long NBC special about Kona this past year. Even if you're not that into triathlons, it's just spectacular story-telling, and I promise you you won't be bored.

The lady who won the women's race is Chrissie Wellington. She had a flat tire, lost her CO2, had to rely on the kindness of another competitor to give her hers and came back after losing 5 minutes on the bike to win the thing.

There's the story of a former motorcross champ Ricky James. Because of an accident he became a paraplegic. He was racing his first IM.

A Navy SEAL, David Goggins, was racing to raise money for kids of fallen comrades. He said that a Navy SEAL holding a bake sale just wouldn't cut it. He needed "something medieval" to do so he picked the IM. A Major League Baseball player, Jeff Conine, was a competitor as well.

But, probably my favorite story is of Harriet Anderson, a 72 year old racing her 17th IM. I've decided that I want to be her when I grow up.

So, enjoy, be inspired and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Breaking Up the Monotony

This month I'm doing an Ironman Challenge. The goal is to go the distance of the Ironman race in one month. So, my goal is to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. So far I'm on track. I've swum 2.2, biked 58 and run 10.

When warmer weather arrives, I plan to start an Olympic distance training plan. This means a few more hours a week than what I'm already doing for training. My training schedule's not exactly barren currently, but there will be a lot more work involved.

So, as I come out of the Ironman Challenge, I think I'm going to devote the month of February to something different, just to add some renewal to my life. I'm still going to keep a small base of the 3 sports, just in smaller quantities.

Instead of taking a spin class twice a week, I'm going to take it twice a month. Instead of swimming 3 times a week, I'm going to swim once a week. Since I've been so negligent with my running, it'll probably stay the same: once a week. I'll still do strength training 3 times a week, though.

So, what will I do instead? The world is before me. Maybe I'll go snow skiing once a week. I haven't done that in close to 10 years and I miss it. When I've got a good groove going downhill on the white powder, it's one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I might take that pilates class at the Y afterall. They've also got a kickboxing and basic training class that look like fun.

I just need a break from the usual before I really plunge into tri training again in the spring. Stay tuned for more details about my absolutely interesting life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Plans are plain. Or are they?

I decided last week to write down my goals for the week in a table on my BT Training Log. I'm also writing them down off to the side on this blog, too.

As I've been doing my training this last year, I've just had a general idea of what I might squeeze in each week. I've just gotten up, seen what my day looks like and then train doing whatever I feel like. I believe this has put me in a deficit. So, the idea for the goal-writing was born. (A novel idea, huh?)

I met my goal of lifting 3 times for 30 minutes each time.

I met my goal of swimming 3 times per week, 900 yards each time. This totaled 1.6 miles.

My plan was to take a spin class twice this week. I did so on Tuesday, but I had to cancel Saturday morning because of icy roads. I was up and ready to go, though, so it wasn't because I was lazy.

So, I've had to move biking once. I took that spin class this afternoon and a couple other people from that class were sticking around for the next one. I did that, too. So, I exceeded my bike goal by 50%.

I truly believe this one is causing me the most difficulty because of the cold weather. Everything else takes place indoors. I had to move my 2-mile run once, but I completed it according to the reschedule.

I moved my 4-mile run once, but I only completed 2 miles of it that day and the mileage was not consecutive. So, my plan was to finish out these 2 miles of my run today after spin class. Well, since I did 2 spin classes, I was particularly beat so I only got in 1 mile. I did make it a brick, though.

Positive: Having these goals has helped me. Prior to this, even after I've worked out, I've always felt like I've had something more to do hanging over my head. Now, all I have to do is to go to my spreadsheet, look at what I've finished for the day and relax because I'm done. No need to worry about tomorrow either because it's on my schedule.

Negative: I am disappointed that I've had to move my runs around so much. I consider the moving of the bike the exception because it really was inclement weather's fault.

Learned: I think I need a plan for my planning. For example, there is a 10K running program I'm looking at and it will tell me how many minutes and miles I need to do per week. I'm currently doing one for swimming, so that's taken care of. When Springtime rolls around, I'll be doing an Olympic distance plan for all the disciplines.

I'll give a report toward the end of next week. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Surprise

If you treat the first day of the new year like any other day, it will be any other day.

The cold weather out my door was laughing at my cowardice, using the wind that knocked against my windows as its bellowing voice.

Each time I responded with a shudder. Each time I lost a little bit more determination.

Then came yesterday. The wind was absent. The sun seemed to offer me its warmth, its energy, its strength. I felt stronger as if today could be the day I break out of my running rut. It was 29 degrees and I'd run and biked in colder weather, afterall. The few weeks I'd missed running outside were over. The new day was offering me a chance to claim my blank slate.

However, even though the wind wasn't present today, I didn't need it to discourage me. It had left enough of a mark within me the last couple weeks for me to take up its flag in its absence. "Boy, it's just so cold outside," was how the flag always began its wave. Today was no different.

Gary and I don't do anything to celebrate New Year's. It's just not that big of a deal to us. However, as the New Year's Day afternoon began to fade, I realized that I simply could not start off a new year with another excuse, with another day of cowering before the cold air outside.

I got dressed and put on my heart rate monitor. "I don't know whether I'll be back in an hour or twenty minutes," I told Gary as I grabbed a bottle of water and left the door.

The first five minutes are always the hardest because they're the coldest. I had quickly decided that I would just run for two miles; however, when I got to my turn-around point, I realized I had the energy to make it three.

I am so glad I didn't give in to the fear. That run was refreshing and invigorating and I am so glad I took that first step out my door.

Even though I try not to make too big a deal out of the first day of the year, the truth is I would have regretted not running yesterday, of giving in to the comfort I wanted to maintain.

I have got to remember that if we spend our days waiting around for the perfect conditions to do something, we may never get it done. Afterall, the sword isn't forged in circumstances that are easy. Stressed under fire and finished by cold water, it only becomes what it's meant to be under the unusual.

I didn't want yesterday to go out as any other day. Whether I liked it or not, this first day was becoming special to me. Now, it's even more so.


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