5 Miler

May 10, 2010

I decided to run a 5 miler on Sunday.  Without shoes, with a cold, and without taper.  The result was pretty good.

The fun thing about showing up to a race barefoot is that everyone wants to be your friend, or at least talk to you.  People want to know if it hurts and if not, why not.  I’m thinking of having a t-shirt made that says “If it hurt, I wouldn’t do it”.  Which is not entirely true – except in the case of barefoot running.

Anyway, it was a fun run and a good first-of-the-season pacing experience.  I had a pace in my head that I wanted to run.  This pace was about the same as my A-race triathlon 10k run from last August which, in hindsight, was pretty lofty.  I looked at my watch at mile one and saw that I was nearly 30 seconds under pace and thought “uh-oh, that’s going to hurt later”.  I was right, and my pace definitely slowed as the race went on.

There weren’t many people in the race and I managed to hold the third place female spot for 4 miles.  But then, just as I was flagging, a woman from behind trotted by me looking strong and fresh and I knew I didn’t have a chance.  I dragged myself through the final mile finishing 30 seconds behind her and barely holding on to 4th place.  My average pace for the race was a min/mile slower than I was hoping, but still a decent speed for this early in the season and just enough for an age group win.

After the race everyone wanted to look at the bottoms of my feet.  Apparently expecting blood and gashes, people were shocked that my feet actually looked better than theirs (which were blistered from their shoes!) and no different from how they were when I started – except dirtier!

Next week is a sprint tri.  I haven’t decided what to do about shoes during the run, but I’m tempted to shave those precious second off during T2…!

Outdoor Shower

May 10, 2009


The view from my shower this morning

The view from my shower this morning

Back in the early days of our relationship, GB and I were housesitting at an amazing off-the-grid house in Massachusetts with a hot-water outdoor shower.  It was by far my favorite feature of the house although only operable during the warm weather, of course.  I swore that when we eventually build a house it will have one because I love them.  This weekend I’m housesitting for friends who have – you guessed it – an outdoor shower.  So this morning after my run I had a fabulous shower overlooking the ocean, as you can see.

Out of nowhere, it is suddenly summer here.  The temperature hasn’t been much above seventy, but the humidity is about 85% and you can pretty much drink the air.  I love it when it gets like this.  I’m not a big sweater usually when I exercise, but I love the glossy glow of running in the humidity.  Had I not been working at the triathlon store today I might have run straight to the beach and gone swimming.

Speaking of swimming, I have done plenty of that this week.  I had two solid pool sessions this week as well as three ocean swims.  I convinced my swim buddy to come to the ocean swim and I was so psyched when she showed up.  Just like in the pool we swam the entire way side by side and stroke for stroke.  It’s really fun to have someone who is so exactly matched with my pace.  I only wish I had someone like that to run with!

I can hardly believe there are only five weeks left until school gets out and I fly back to Minnesota for the summer.  It will be weird not having the ocean to train in but wonderful having GB and the dogs back in my life for ten weeks.  I am already researching tri training groups to see if I can get out and meet some triathletes in the Twin Cities.  I also need to keep building my training back so I’m ready to take on the racing season when I arrive.  This week has been a decent week of training and I managed two painless runs.  I may even try another tomorrow depending on how the morning goes.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit outside and marvel at the view.

Happy Mother’s Day to any mothers out there.  Here on the rock people say “Happy Mother’s Day” to everyone in the same way that people say “Merry Christmas” or any other holiday greeting that applies to everyone.  It’s funny to hear people saying “Happy Mother’s Day” to men but I guess there’s no reason they  shouldn’t have a happy day too!


The dogs I am hanging out with this weekend

The dogs I am hanging out with this weekend

When To Say When

May 28, 2008

This whole ITBS thing has had me thinking a lot about training and racing psychology.  When I started working with my current coach, one of my biggest goals was to learn to push through pain more.  I have historically tended towards wimpiness when the pain sets in which has resulted in some slow runs during which I cheer on my competition.  Let the record state, I am an EXTREMELY competitive person, but being uncomfortable on the run has eclipsed even my most competitive races as I have allowed myself to ease up for comfort’s sake.  In January I decided no more.  And anyone who has visited my blog more than a few times has read lots about me pulling myself out of my comfort zone on the run.

I think it would be safe to say that I have had great success with this.  Along with my skilled and very perceptive coach, I have learned how to be a runner and how to make peace with physical discomfort.  HOWEVER, I now have a new condundrum: when to listen to the pain.  Now I have to figure out when enough is enough.  I have to discern when something is run-through pain versus injury pain.  My last six weeks of running hiatus are a direct result of several things.  One of these things was not stopping when an injury arrived on the scene.  There were two runs in particular:

1) I had a run on the track during which I was reduced to tears of pain and frustration and STILL I kept trying for more.  I could not tell my injury apart from my need to be faster and stronger.  I pushed too far and made things worse.

That in itself would be fine if I had learned from the experience and not repeated the mistake several days later:

2) I had a long run with some efforts thrown in.  It was a key run for me, mentally, and I refused to give up long after it was time.  I pushed through discomfort, then through pain, and then even further until I couldn’t walk.  And what did I have at the end?  An incomplete workout an a fully-established case of ITBS.  Was I a stronger person for pushing through?  No.  Was I fitter for pushing through?  No.  In fact, it resulted in weeks and weeks of no running, lots of tears, millions of desperate emails to my coach, and a solid amount of extra stress on my relationship and personal life.  Nice.

When I set out to get tougher on the run this year, I thought swallowing the pain would  be the hardest thing.  Boy was I wrong.  The hardest thing by far is listening to the pain and decoding it.  Is it the type you make piece with or is it your body giving you a clear signal that you need a break?  As athletes, it’s very difficult to admit when we have to step it back a notch.  We don’t want to be weak.  We don’t want to risk losing our fitness gains.  We are stubborn and we ignore the signs.

I have been doing triathlons on and off for more than fifteen years.  Every time I learn something new about myself, I discover something else that I need to learn.  It’s constant, the learning.  Between rest, and recovery, and intensity, and time, and nutrition, and coaching, and weather, and equipment, and mood, and life circumstances, there are so many variables.  I often wonder how will I ever solve the puzzle of being the fastest and the best I can be.  I guess that’s part of the beauty of this sport.  You can learn, and learn, and learn, and there’s still lots to learn.  Which means you always have the potential to be a faster athlete and a better person.

IT Band(wagon)

May 13, 2008

My ride last night went very well and my leg handled some hard efforts without complaint.  Things were a little tight when I got home but nothing I couldn’t tackle with my foam roller. 

This morning I had my first run in I don’t want to think how many days.  Instructions were to stop if I felt any pain, stretch, try again, and if I still felt pain to walk away and NOT think injury thoughts or get worked up about it.  I think I did pretty well in both departments and got off the treadmill after 3 minutes without shedding a single tear or even making a sad face.  So I will remain on the IT Bandwagon with the likes of Rachel Ross for perhaps a few more days.  Now I just wait while my darling coach drinks her morning coffee so she can come up with a plan b for me.  I have noticed that I’m really starting to relax a lot more about being partially sidelined.  My biggest race is in just over 3 weeks so I have time to get this thing taken care of before then and I know I have accomplished over 4 months of the most solid training I’ve ever done.  Even with an injury I’m leagues ahead of where I was at this time last year, so I really don’t have a whole lot to be stressed about where training is concerned.  I am coming to terms with the fact that it will resolve itself when it feels like it – not when I feel like it.  Ahh, surrendering control.  My favorite thing…(not really). 


May 5, 2008

I’m not gonna lie.  (Well, not about this anyway).  I’m struggling.  After 4 months of virtually pain-free and illness-free training, I have hit a bump in the road.  And I’m a little pissed off about it.  I have a pain in my knee that resembles ITBS.  I’m walking a little gimpily, running not at all, and my knee is NOT begging me to be pushing circles on a bike.  So i guess it’s a good thing my new Splish suit arrived this weekend and I invested in much-needed new goggles.

Yesterday I was ridiculous.  I would sit there icing it and reading about what it COULD be or what it SEEMED like on the internet while intermittently bursting into tears.  My coach suggested I see an ART therapist which I thought meant an art therapist – like the kind who paint and draw.  So I sat around the house contemplating the potential benefits of art therapy for my leg until I realized that ART was an acronym not a way of emphasizing the word art.  It didn’t help that the email contained only two sentences: “Go see an ART therapist.  Trust me.”.  And just so you know how much I apparently trust my coach, I was all ready to go out and purchase a set of watercolor paints in order to take my training to the next level.  It’s sick, really…

Anyway, I called an A.R.T. therapist – can you believe she doesn’t work on Sundays???  WTF??!?!  Doesn’t she know this is an ATHLETIC EMERGENCY!!!??  I NEED HER ART!!  We also had dinner at our friends’ house last night.  One of them is a chiropractor and pointed out that my fibula on the painful leg is considerably further forward than on my other leg.  Of course I could just see the joyous fire in her eyes when she said “oh yeah, I could just pop that right back into place”.  I backed away slowly saying “no thanks, I’ll try watercolors first…”.  Call me crazy, but I’d rather paint my emotions any day than have someone moving my bones around in ways that just feel….WRONG.  I hate being adjusted.  If I started a religion, the basic premise would be loving peace, triathlon for all, and NO chiropractic adjustments.  To be fair, I’ve seen it work wonders for some people, but I am just not a fan of it for MY body, thanks.

Hopefully today either the art therapist or the A.R.T. therapist will call me back and I can get to work on fixing this problem.  I have a big training week ahead and I am just not in the mood to miss out on any of the good stuff.

Killer Deer

April 28, 2008

GB and I had a bonfire last night.  We made smores and had a good laugh about life.  I was so tired from the weekend that I practically fell asleep staring at the fire.  Eventually we went down to the pond for our little camp-out.  We left the dogs in the house which proved to be a good choice given the abundance of wildlife in the night.  Definitely the highlight of the night was some time in the four o’clock hour. 

Just so you get the full picture, GB had pitched the tent in a clearing next to the pond.  There was woods on three sides and water on one side of us, and what is obviously an animal path running very close to the tent itself.  So there I was deep in four o’clock sleep when I heard a tremendous crashing and cracking and LOUD, HEAVY animal feet on the ground, some screetching, and then some VERY heavy breathing that was not mine or GB’s…  Instantly we were both sitting bolt upright in the tent and you could feel our heart beats in the walls of the tent.  GB is much more wild-animal savvy than I am and I would expect for me to have a more fearful reaction due to my belief that herbivores want to eat me.  However, the fact that GB was also sitting up alert and freaking out was extremely terrifying to me.  In my mind, a bear had just chased a deer, was eating it, and was planning to eat us next.  (GB later pointed out that a black bear would much prefer to eat berries).  Anyway, once the loud crashing stopped, there was an angry snorting sound for a while before it went quiet again.  We thought it could be a moose, but moose steps would probably have been even heavier than those.  The best part was that as I was sitting there waiting to be attacked, I noticed that my hands were on my legs and my legs were shaking.  I think that after this weekend, my legs were saying “oh PLEASE don’t tell us we have to run some MORE!!  We do not have the energy to run for your life right now!!  YOU WILL DIE if it’s up to us!!!”.  Luckily there was no running involved and we eventually fell back to sleep.

The most likely theory about the event is that a deer was on it’s way to the water, saw the tent, and completely freaked out.  Then it lingered for a while, breathing heavily before giving up the idea of getting a drink and leaving.  Whatever the actual truth of the matter, it made for an exciting night! 

Today I am feeling very tired.  Just plain dragging.  I have some aches and pains that seem like they are fighting to become full-fledged injuries, and I just feel tired all over.  I emailed my coach whose response was “take the day off”.  I nearly cried at the thought.  Which is a sign that a day off is really what I need most.  It’s such a battle between doing the smart thing and feeling like a wimp but when I weigh the pros and cons of taking a day off versus provoking my body into injury, I think it’s obvious that some down time is the best choice.

A Different Person

April 17, 2008

I’m feeling a little different these days.  A little faster, a little more focused, a little more at peace.  I did a quick brick workout last night and was feeling like ass during the run.  My stomach was upset and my body was just plain protesting.  I felt slow, fat, and grumpy.  (It cracks me up how I can be totally happy or totally miserable with my body without it changing at all, just depending on my mood!).  But I kept going because it was only 15 minutes.  This morning I woke up and felt great.  Not especially tired, not sore at all, and very happy to be alive.

This is really an awesome time of year.  Birds are making bird-noises before I even wake up, the screen door that we locked open for the winter is now in use and makes that awesome creaky summer sound that screen doors in the country should make;  People have put their kayak roof racks on their cars;  I rode downhill at 46 mph last night without getting cold hands;  I swallowed my first bug of the year; the dogs are constantly wet and muddy from playing in the pond.  Life is good. 

All that and this morning I measured the run I did yesterday and realized WHY it was so painful.  I was shocked to see how far I ran in those fifteen minutes.  I was thrilled to see how far I ran in those fifteen minutes – those fifteen minutes OFF THE BIKE!  This bodes well for Sunday.  It bodes very well indeed.

Finn and I went for a run this morning.  I had pick-ups to do and he’s especially good at those.  I say “ready??” and he perks up.  Then I say “Let’s GO!” and he starts into his cute little doggy canter.  He gets pretty excited but I think is a little disappointed I can’t go as fast as he can.  So we did pick-ups this morning and Finn was SO brave on the way home.  Usually he freaks out when he sees a storm drain but today he calmly (okay, he was a little tense) ran past giving them only a few extra feet of berth instead of the usual 20 feet and eyeing them sideways.  I was a very proud Mom. 

I’m fired up for today.  I have a solid list of things to accomplish both personally and professionally and I’m going to execute these things IN SHORTS!!! (Did you hear that, Beth?).  I’m wearing shorts to work today!!  Anyway, that said, I’m going to go about my day and get started on my list.

Happy Spring Everybody!