Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why Tri?: A New Series

Endurance Planet 9-18-07: "The New Brand on the Block"

I've been pondering this question ever since I first posted on it: why tri? Why do we subject our bodies to such extreme conditions? Why do we ride/run/swim for hours at a time? Why do we scrutinize our eating and sleeping habits?

Hala Bissada gets at one possible reason in this interview (beginning around 1:50)
"After finishing my first race, practically being the last one across the finish line, there was a sense of pride and accomplishment . . . I thought I was gonna be all emotional and crying when I crossed the finish line . . . it was an awesome experience . . . It really helped me with my self-esteem, like I said, the sense of accomplishment--a sense of looking physically fit and feeling good about myself, from that perspective . . ."

I'm not quite ready to post an extended piece on my personal reasons for pursuing triathlon, but Hala Bissada gets at a lot of it.

We tri because it makes us feel totally bad-ass.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spinning Workout 21 - Building Cadence



Since it takes so long to record each podcast episode, I've decided to start publishing my workout playlist with instructions here and on itunes (you can find Spinning Workout 21 as an imix on itunes, also). This way you won't have someone telling you what to do and when, but you'll at least have access to the music and the workouts.

Spinning Workout 21 - Building Cadence
Match cadence to song BPM throughout
The Tide is High (4:42): Pre-workout
One Way or Another (3:29)--81 BPM: Warm up
The Breaks (3:23)--90 BPM: Work form, establish baseline effort
Paper Thin Hymn (3:15)--92 BPM: Fast, short climbs
I Am the Man (3:58)--96 BPM: High effort TT
We Float (6:08)--98 BPM: Quick effort with bursts of high power, 1/2 cadence
Nikita (4:42)--105 BPM: TT
Heart of Glass (3:38)--110 BPM: Jumps at: 2nd verse, 3rd verse, last verse
Stupid Girl (4:19)--118 BPM: High intensity TT
Playgirl (3:51)--120 BPM: TT with standing intervals
Inside of Me (3:42)--132 BPM: TT, faster than tempo if possible; add an extra kick 30 seconds from the end
Sayonara Senorita (4:11)--126 BPM: Cool down
Time of Your Song (4:26): Stretch/post-workout
Kissy Kissy (5:02): Post-workout



One of the greatest things about spinning bikes is that you can spin your legs much faster with a flywheel than on a regular bike. This workout uses that advantage to train mental toughness (believe me, doing 132 RPM for three and a half minutes will be tough) and neuromuscular speed. By the last song, your legs will be going at near-sprint speed. This is also a perfect base building workout, because most of the songs keep you at an aerobic level, while the last few songs should push you over the top into Zone 4.

I will also still publish my workouts as podcasts; it'll just take a while.


Looking for more workouts? Go here!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Get Out!

Although I feel sort of guilty about it, having read Gale Bernhardt's blog about mountain biking in sub-freezing temperatures on snow- and ice-packed roads, Coach Jenny has really made my week.

I wouldn't consider myself that wimpy about running outdoors in the winter . . . I did a short trail run last weekend when the temps were in the mid-30s and it was lightly raining. And I ran back from my poor, be-ditched car yesterday on an ice-packed (obviously) dirt road (the temperature then was probably around 20 degrees F).

But I spent the last four years in Southern California; so I would bet that I'm wimpier than I think.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Race Report: Derby Rec Center Indoor Triathlon

Well, this was a good end to a craptastic week.

The Derby Rec Center indoor tri is an annual, local event, very small and low-key. 500 yd indoor pool swim, 6 mile (I know, right) bike on a stationary trainer, 2 mile (20 lap) run on an indoor track. Certainly the smallest (and shortest!) race I've ever done. But I don't care. It was awesome.

My heat began at 8:30 (the heats were leaving on a half-hour interval, seeded by time, beginning at 8:00), so I left my house at 7:30, hoping to get to the DRC at around 8:00. Well . . . that didn't happen. Because I slid off the road and got stuck in a ditch. I ran the mile back home, swearing all the way and wondering what I ever did to God (actually, let's not get into that). My dad came back with his truck and we spent the next hour and a half trying to get my car (his car, actually, because the key to my car snapped off in the ignition last night while I was at Wal-Mart getting a tire repaired . . . see? crummy week) unstuck. We finally got the car out of the ditch when a couple guys in a four-wheel-drive truck came by. It took them about five minutes to take care of it. Very nice of them. And of course, by this time it was 8:45, I'd missed my heat, and I was wondering whether I should go and try to squeeze into a later heat, or take it as a sign from the universe and crawl back into bed.

I drove around the block once (which is 4 miles, by the way), and the car was rattling because of the mud and snow that had built up around the wheels. I took that as my final sign and headed back home. "Wake me up when it's spring," I told my dad, as I came back into the house. I sat down at my computer to check my e-mail, and there was the pre-race e-mail . . . heat times, race day instructions, and all. It was about 9:00, at this point, but I thought . . . I've never, ever had a DNS. I have to at least go and try to get into the race.

And I'm very glad that I did.

Swim: 500 yd - 9:48
The time is approximate. My official split was 11:11, but that included my transition time. I know for sure that when I came out of the pool area, my timer (we each had our own timer) told me that I was at 9 something. Oddly enough, because I got squeezed into the last (fifth) heat, I ended up in the same lane as Rich, one of the guys in my spinning class, who's just getting into triathlon from cycling. It was really cool to have someone to kid around with pre-race, especially since this was the first race I've done where I had neither team nor family to accompany me. I felt confident and strong going through the swim, like I was giving it my all the whole time, but not wearing myself out too much for the bike and run. However, I wasn't entirely happy with my form. There were times when I felt like my legs were heavy and my head was up. I think it's because I was being lazy about my core stability; when I tightened my core, my body position evened out. Also, I was unimpressed with my breathing--every other stroke (I normally try to do every 3, to practice bilateral breathing). But I have to admit . . . I really like the pool swims; don't have to worry about dodging other people or fighting through packs of slow-pokes. You can just put your head down and swim. And that's what I did.

Bike: 6 miles - 19:00 minutes
The bike was mentally difficult. First of all, we were on LeMond trainers with a display panel that counts down the miles. However, the amount of resistance you use doesn't affect how quickly you complete the distance, so the best strategy is to spin along with no resistance and a high cadence. Which is hard to do for 20 minutes straight. I started to space out, and my cadence would dip down to 128 or so. It's a crazy thing to do to triathletes, no? We spend so much stinking time pedaling at the ideal cadence (whatever that is for you; for me, it's around 95) in the biggest gear we can manage. That's just how we train. So to put a triathlete on a bike and tell them to pedal their legs off for 20 minutes with absolutely no resistance . . . just silly. Anyway, it was fun, because all 10 of us in the fifth heat were in a long line together, so there was a little bit of banter to be had. And once again, I was right next to Rich, which was fun (even though I thought that he was going to kill himself; he was pounding away at 140-145 RPM the whole time). So the bike was less than ideal, but I felt like I did well.

Run: 2 miles - 18:18
Once again, this time includes the transition, so it's not entirely accurate. I know that my mile splits were both under 9:00 (the first was 8:51). Running on a 1/10 mile track for two miles is torture. But I felt that I pushed my body, and managed to maintain a high level of pain throughout (although I never pushed through that to a new level, which is always what I'm looking to do in short races). And sub-9 is the best pace I've ever set for a triathlon where the run comes at the end (I did 8:34 at the CSULB reverse sprint)! Also--a fun bonus--the track was upstairs (you know, wrapping around the gym), separated from a weight and cardio room by a low wall; the floor behind that wall, in between the track and the cardio room, was blue, so it had the azure, finish-chute feel.

But the best part of the day was that I got first place in my age group, with a time of 48:36! Well, allow me to add some caveats: the woman who was actually fastest in my age group got third place overall, which means that she was taken out of the running for age-group awards. She was a minute faster than me (if only I hadn't worn socks . . .), but I'm pretty sure, because of her placement, that I got fourth overall. And okay, there were only fifty people racing, and there were only four or five people in my age group, but I really don't care. I got first in my age group!

And I'm sure you could guess, but this really turned my day around. I mean, I still had to go pull a six-hour shift at the rock wall, but I was in a much better mood about it today. So I hope that this small triumph will be enough to pull me out of what has been a really terrible week. After my car went into the ditch this morning, I was afraid that the bad week was going to expand into a terrible month or something. But I feel much more motivated, now, to work harder at not letting any bad aspects of life spiral out of my reach and take over my whole outlook.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Product Review: Balance Bare

Some of you have probably already read my run-down of a selection of nutrition bars. This weekend, while shopping at Dillon's, I happened to read the back--more specifically, the ingredients--of a standard Balance bar. As soon as I saw "high fructose corn syrup," I despaired. Much like Iron Wil and her yogurt, Balance bars are one of my favorite options (although I often opt for the cheaper and less-filling Nature's Valley 36-packs) for on-the-go breakfasts.

Well, hard as it was to pass up such tempting new flavors as triple chocolate chaos, I decided to go the more disciplined route and tried the new (to me) Balance Bare bars. I bought three different bars, just to try them out: fruit and nut, chocolate chip, and cinnamon oats and honey. This morning for breakfast, I tried the fruit and nut variety.

The bar is surprisingly hefty, thicker and stouter than I would expect, whereas Balance bars are generally small and dense. The bar weighs 50 g, has 15 g protein, 7 g fat, and 23 g carbohydrate (16 from sugar, which seems to me really high). Like a standard Balance bar, the Bare has a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, although I don't have a Balance bar around here right now to compare portions.

The bar has a very pleasant taste. It's sweetened with evaporated cane juice, which gives it a light, almost malty flavor and texture. It reminds of this really, really good trail mix I had once . . . I think it was called Mrs. Mayo's . . . and it was sweetened with pomegranate juice. This bar reminds me of that taste and texture. The bar is primarily crispy rice, I think. At least, that's what I think that textural element was. At any rate, the fruit and nut element was understated, but it was very tasty when I got a hit of dried cranberry or nut.

My main complaint was that the coating on the bottom of the bar gave the whole thing a crumbly, even grainy texture. I think that's probably from the added protein. So while the bar was actually pretty tasty, I didn't care much for the crumbly, malt-o-meal texture. And the fact that so many of the carbohydrates were sugars further deters me. So would I buy this bar again? Maybe if it's on sale; it was only a dollar, the other day. This definitely won't be one of my regular purchases, however. I guess if I want a nutrition bar that's all-natural, I'll go back to Clif (or just stick with my cheap, Sam's club bulk boxes of Nature's Valley).

I also recently tried a Muscle Sandwich bar (made by a completely different company than Muscle Milk, which also makes Cytomax). I'm sure it has plenty of protein and amino acids, but I will never put that in my body again. With enriched flour, partially hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup, it's no better than a high-protein candy bar, and if I want a high-protein candy bar, I'll buy a Snickers, pay less, and enjoy it a lot more. I would consider Muscle Sandwich a nutrition bar for muscle head amateur body builders who don't know any better.

We Are Triathletes!

We are insatiable. We are unstoppable. We are not deterred by wind, rain, or snow.

We do not let the insignificant ephemeralities of normal, daily life detract from our goals. We do not give up, even under severe conditions. We do not stop moving. We do not have limits.

We are fitness machines. We are eating machines. We are not going to let silly things like cold weather stop our training schedules.

We are bad-ass.

We are . . . canceling our indoor triathlon because the ground is a little slippery.

Seriously, Wichita West YMCA, WTF?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Spinning Workout 4 - Intro to Climbing

It's here! It's here!

SPINNING WORKOUT 4 - INTRO TO CLIMBING (45 minutes)

Black and White (3:47) : Pre-workout
Don't Stop Believing (4:10) : Pre-workout
Goody Two Shoes (3:29) : Warm-up in saddle, turn up to (3) halfway through
Back in Black (4:15) : +(4), get legs going, up at 2nd verse, +(5) at guitar solo
Bathwater (4:04) : down, stay in (5), pick-up at chorus, up and pick up at chorus, +(6) at bridge, -(5), down at coda, pick-up at chorus, up, stay quick at last instrumental
Step Away From the Cliff (2:48) : down, stay in (5), push it out
Breaking the Girl (4:57) : -(4), get legs going, +(5), up at chorus, down at 2nd verse, +(6), up at instrumental
Youth (4:20) : -(5), stay up, ++(7) at chorus ("Young man"), --(5) after chorus, ++(7) at chorus, -(6) after chorus, +(7) at chorus, --(5) after chorus, pick up slightly through end of music
Neighborhood #3 (5:15) : -(3), downhill, high cadence, +(4) after brief interlude (about 1:32), pound through brief flat
One More Sad Song (3:03) : in (4), get cadence going, +(5), up at pre-chorus, +(6) at chorus, -(5) at 2nd verse, +(6) at chorus
Yellow (4:29) : -(5), down, +(6), up after "For you I'd bleed myself dry"
How (2:51) : pick up cadence a little, +(7) at 2nd section, +(8) at 3rd section
For What It's Worth (2:43) : Cardiac cool-down
Papa Loves Mambo (2:43) : Stretches
One Sweet Love (3:58) : Post-workout

Looking for more workouts? Go here!

Don't Drink the Orange Juice

It may be tempting.

Everyone in your office and home may be sick. You may be borderline overtrained. You may have gone running in 35-degree rain this morning. You may even have the start of an itch in your throat.

But whatever you do, don't drink half a quart of orange juice.

"Why every not?" you ask. Orange juice is full of vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and flavonoids. It is naturally sweet, tangy, and nutritious!

It is also loaded with sugar.

And if you drink a quart of it, you're liable to get a searing headache.

By the way, anyone know how to tone down a sugar rush migraine?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Art of Motion

Last night, I had the opportunity to see a friend from high school perform in a senior dance recital at Wichita State. I was absolutely blown away by the talent exhibited by these students (undergrads!), by the level of artistic expression they achieved, but most of all by their physical grace and power. My first thought, on watching these dancers move in ways that made me forget I was looking at people, was, "I wonder if I could recruit them to triathlon."

That thought made me pause.

Because while I believe in what I do--after all, I coach people through some very challenging experiences in order to achieve goals that at first seem unthinkable--it seems to me less than what these performers exhibited. Yes, dancers and triathletes share some common characteristics: Both groups train for power and performance, dancers and triathletes each strive to maximize strength, tone, and endurance, and of course we all look damn fine in a pair of tight, skimpy shorts. But dancers acquire this level of power, strength, endurance, and tone in order to communicate beauty and emotion to other human beings, while triathletes . . .

Well now . . . here we come to the crux: Why do we tri?
More to come.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Youch!

I never thought the easy workouts would be the end of me.

Since the Genesis Multisport Club is on break until January, I reserved the climbing wall for us last night, as a kind of fun, social workout. During this easy workout, I was trying to master a particular move that my co-worker, Mario put up. I almost had the move, which was super exciting, because I've been working on the start of this route for the last week and a half. Then I felt a sharp pain in my left arm and down I went.

To make a long story short, after doing a little research on the internet, I think I've partially ruptured an annular pulley or two in my left hand. I started off wrapping my whole hand and forearm with an Ace bandage (for compression), but it hurt so badly last night that I actually had trouble sleeping through it. This morning, it was stiff and cranky, so much that I couldn't pull a shirt on over my head or put on my watch. I iced it for a bit, and now I have my fingers taped, which seems to be helping. I still get pain in my palm when I flex my fingers, but no more pain when I dorsiflex my wrist, and the overall soreness is less.

In the meantime, no climbing. No weightlifting. No guitar. No piano. Whether or not I can swim remains to be seen.

Which means that my off-season just got really, really boring.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Eat More Garlic!

A diet rich in garlic can have a significant positive effect on your health, according to the New York Times. It seems that garlic increases the production of hydrogen sulfide in your blood, which—in the short term—relaxes your blood vessels and increases blood flow. In the long term:
The power to boost hydrogen sulfide production may help explain why a garlic-rich diet appears to protect against various cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon cancer, say the study authors. Higher hydrogen sulfide might also protect the heart, according to other experts.
The downside (if you can call it that)? Benefits from garlic consumption in studies required an equivalent of two medium-sized cloves of garlic per day, and while some countries—namley Italy, Korea, and China—average as high as eight to twelve cloves a day—it may be a lot of garlic by your standards. Then again, if two cloves a day keeps the doctor away, I can deal with the bad breath in other ways.

References here and here.

Garlic is also an antioxidant, which can help reduce muscular soreness after a workout by neutralizing free radicals in your bloodstream.

However, as the article notes, you have to eat A LOT of it if you really want to see the benefits; a clove is equivalent to about a teaspoon of chopped garlic (if you use the pre-chopped stuff like I do). So here's a recipe that uses a ton of garlic AND quinoa, which is my favorite super food, and a new recipe for those of you who have already tried my garlic cucumber quinoa salad.

On a related note, I dreamed earlier this week that I went to a school where they were trying to turn all of the students into vampires. So maybe eating plenty of garlic will also keep those crazy vampires out of my dreams.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Surge

Thanksgiving is over (and happy Thanksgiving to you all!), and with this landmark holiday behind me, I find myself wanting to start base training. Immediately. Tomorrow. Time to work that weight off, dial in the nutrition (I've been prepping my nutrition for the past two days), and build my endurance (and build and build and build). I'm not scheduled to come out of off season for another two or three weeks (at least). But as soon as I think, "You know, I could just start my base training tomorrow," I feel this little surge in my stomach. My body is saying, "YES! YES! YES! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! LET'S GOOOOOOO!"

So I guess I'm ready.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A New Idea

I have a great new idea for building bike strength:
















Original post can be found here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Race Report: Turkey Trot

Well, my race this weekend was nowhere near what Bill went through. The Wichita Turkey Trot involves either a 2 or 10 mile jaunt through Wichita's Riverside area. Lovely parks and paths, it's the perfect setting for a fun, late-season race (there are also some interesting trails that I can't wait to try out). The atmosphere at the Turkey Trot is fantastic. There's a traveling trophy that goes to whichever local school has the most student participants from year to year, so there are some really young runners, as well as mothers pushing strollers, groups of grade school children with matching shirts, and a few runners who have done all 32 Turkey Trots.

The atmosphere before the race was warm and intense. Not tense in the jittery, porta-potty filling way that the beginning of a triathlon is, but intense as in "Man, this is my first race ever! I hope my kid doesn't beat me." There was definitely an air of excitement and first-race nerves; as someone who runs/races more than the average person, it was fun to be around so many people--young and old alike!--who are just taking their first steps into fitness. Both the two mile and ten mile races started simultaneously, but at different places, so I don't know what the ten mile starting line was like (probably less crowded, with a greater average height for participants). But the starting line--or rather, the line of starters--stretched around the corner and down the road a bit. In fact, I couldn't even see the actual line; my dad and I arrived late because I had to teach a spinning class before getting my Trot on.

My race began with leaning forward at the sound of the airhorn, accelerating in super-slow motion as the hundreds of runners ahead of me began to pick up speed. At the beginning, I tried to run with my dad, but as a gaggle of older women ahead of us settled into a jog, I decided to make my move; after all, I knew I'd see him again in fifteen to twenty minutes. I started darting in between kids and old ladies, running off the road, dodging between little packs of joggers. It took probably a minute or two to get out of the thick of things and into enough open space that I could start setting my own pace. I knew that it was only two miles--less than twenty minutes!--but if I wanted to do well, I needed to be willing to hurt pretty bad for those twenty minutes.

The initial darting was enough to get my heart rate up into the 160s, but I wanted it to be higher for this race. I picked up my pace until I was sitting right at 175. Other runners fell away to my left and right, and more came into view in the distance. At a certain point, the runners in front of me stabilized, and I knew I'd found my race pace. My heart was still beating 175 times per minute.

It's amazing how slowly the miles seem to pass when there's only two of them. I haven't run just two miles in months, unless I'm just killing time on the treadmill or something. But when I passed the first mile marker, I thought, "Really? That's all?"

I had to stop twice: once to take off my long-sleeved T-shirt, once to shake out my shoulder. Sometimes when I'm running, I develop a catch in my right trapezius. It's been so bad in training runs before that I've had to ask a buddy to massage it for a few minutes until it settles down. It feels like a muscle spasm. I think it's particularly bad when I'm running at lactate threshold. At any rate, it hurt badly enough that I had to stop and stretch it against a tree. Which is embarrassing. I'm a triathlete, for crying out loud! Pain? What's that?

Needless to say, I got passed by quite a few folks (including one girl with a race belt on . . . you know what that means: fellow triathlete!), but I caught up again by the end. That final kick . . . I am definitely a kicker (by which I mean I almost always sprint to the finish; ask my spinning classes; I do the same thing with bike workouts), and I don't care whether you're running 2 miles or 26.2. The kick hurts. Once you really get into it, it's not so hard to maintain. I mean, it's not easy, but it doesn't provide the kind of gut-wrenching pain that the acceleration does. And that acceleration. Oofh. Every time I go for it, whether it's the end of a race or the end of a workout, I wonder if this is going to be the time where I keel over. Death by kicking. But then I get into it, and it's the best feeling in the whole world.

Results aren't up for the race, yet. At least, not the full results; a list of the top finishers can be found here. In fact, I don't know if they ever post the full results for this particular race . . . It's more a fun run than anything else. At any rate, I finished somewhere around 18:30-18:50. I didn't look at the clock right as I crossed the line. Either way, I ran something like a 9:20, which is about what I expected. It's not the fastest I've ever run, but it's a good place to start going into next season.

Honestly, I could have pushed myself harder at this race. I didn't quite achieve the level of hurt that I would have liked for a two mile race. After all, it's only two miles! And 16 minutes of pain never killed anyone. Or at least it wouldn't kill me. But, then again, this is off-season. And the Turkey Trot is not a PR kind of race. It's more like an excuse to eat a turkey brat for brunch.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Off-Season Overlap

Did I mention that I work at an indoor rock climbing wall, in addition to teaching group fitness and coaching triathlon? Well I do. Which is great. I love climbing, I haven't been able to do it for a while, and it gives me a way to stay active in the off-season. And I recently found out that climbing might improve my multisport performance, as well.

I was reading an article on NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) about dry-land training for swimmers. It noted that the main muscles used for swimming are the rhomboids, the obliques (both internal and external), and serratus anterior. These muscles wrap around the shoulders and diagonally across the chest and abs. They produce diagonal force when they work together; this is called the Serape Effect. That's why it's so important to have a strong core, because strengthening the muscles between your shoulders and knees enables you to better use the diagonal, rotational force of the Serape Effect. The article also offers a few land-based exercises to train this effect, namely the stability ball log roll and diagonal cable chops.

The very next day, I was reading a training article about rock climbing. It also noted the necessity of a strong core in climbing, mostly for body tension and stability, especially in the obliques. The more I thought about this, the more it made sense. I always tell folks at the wall that skill in climbing comes not from upper body strength but from technique. And climbing technique involves using your arms and legs together in coordinated motion, finger strength, and body rotation (there are other trainable aspects such as confidence in your holds/rself to hold on, keeping a stable body, flexibility, keeping your center of gravity close to the wall, etc.). What I'm trying to say is that climbing engages some of those same muscles that are so crucial in swimming.

This leads me to believe that climbing is a perfect off-season activity for triathletes, for several reasons. First of all, there's the aforementioned advantage of training the Serape Effect by strengthening the obliques and rhomboids (I need to look up the serratus anterior before I can tell whether or not climbing can train it). There's also the improved arm strength and an increased awareness of the forearms, which will help with the catch phase of your swim stroke. The legs get some good training, too, as they do most of the work, and climbing can be as much an endurance activity as a power activity, so it will increase your muscles' tolerance of lactic acid. Furthermore, it helps to improve flexibility, particularly in the hips and knees, which will aid in injury prevention later in the season. Oh, and did I mention that climbing is hella fun?

I've finally finished my senior thesis, so I'm ready to start working on something new. I think I'll do a little more research on climbing as off-season training for multisport athletes, then I'll try to get it out there to other triathletes.

And if you're interested in climbing, here are some links to get you started:
http://www.bodyresults.com/S1Climb.asp
http://www.trainingforclimbing.com/
http://www.indoorclimbing.com/climbing_training.html
http://www.touchstoneclimbing.com/train.html
http://www.indoorclimbing.com/worldgyms.html

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The A to Your Q

Larissa asks:

Any tips for those of us who aren't necessarily training towards something, but simply trying to grow in general healthiness and discipline with good eating and exercise habits?

Yes! I do have advice! I think the best advice I can give you is to train towards something :smile:

I'm only half kidding; although I've seen (both in my own life and in others') that nothing motivates change like having an event you love to train for, I think you might be able to achieve the same affect by good goal setting. And while I think that "general healthiness and discipline with good eating and exercise habits" is a great goal, it'll probably be easier to stick to if you have a more concrete, specific goal. This could be something as definite as a 10 K, or as laid-back as weight maintenance. But here's the thing with "just working out": Do it long enough, and you're probably going to plateau. Now as long as you plateau at a healthy level, there's probably nothing wrong with that (besides the fact that it's boring). But if you have definite goals that you're targeting, you'll only get so far without goals and a definite plan as to how to achieve them. For example, if you're trying to lose weight but you're working out at the same intensity and eating the same amount of calories every day, then even if your caloric intake is initially enough to stimulate weight loss, eventually your body is going to adapt to that stimulus and it will begin to maintain instead of lose weight. Same thing with fitness gains. If you're trying to strengthen muscles or get your heart more fit, you have to keep varying the training stimuli in order to keep seeing improvement. Plus, setting and reaching periodic goals gives you a feeling of empowerment and achievement that keeps you engaged with your working out (which means you're less likely to burn out and turn into a couch potato). So even though it sounds uncharacteristically Type A of me, I am a big proponent of setting goals and making plans to reach them (gag, planning, I know).

Here are some tips for good goal-setting:
- Set goals that are measurable, achievable, and consistent with each other
- Have an overall, long-term goal and some small, checkpoint goals
- Your long-term goal should be meaningful for you. Because if you believe in what you're doing, you're going to be more likely to continue pursuing it no matter what happens. So, for example, if you really believe in taking care of your body because it's a gift from God, then that should be part of your goal.
- Your short-term goals are little steps that keep you engaged. They should be challenging enough that you're going to have to work hard for them. Here's what my text book says: "A challenging [short-term] goal is one that has about a 50% chance of success. Thus a well-constructed short-term goal represents a compromise between guaranteeing success, as in the case of a goal that is too easy, and requiring too much effort. Short-term goals are meaningless if they are not reasonably difficult; they will lead to going through the motions as opposed to investing real effort." Perhaps a bit dry, but concise and clear, no?
- There are three types of goals: Process goals (refers to the process, or the actual working out), outcome goals (where you're looking for a certain outcome that's somewhat out of your control), and performance goals (tied directly to your personal, subjective performance). You can have a high degree over performance goals, like if you set a goal to have a positive attitude when working out, or to practice good exercise technique; if you work hard enough and concentrate, you're going to be able to meet that goal almost every time. Outcome goals are all about social comparison, and as a result you have less control over achieving them. Like if you want to be the fastest runner in your family, you're only going to go so far by working hard, and after that, you're relying on everyone else in your family not working as hard (and not being genetically superior to you). And performance goals are harder to define . . . an example would be an interval goal, in which you want to reach a certain performance standard by a certain point, for example being able to increase your bench press a given amount over a given period.
- Set a time period of accomplishment for your short-term goals. If you don't achieve your goal, re-evaluate and adjust it.
- Establish rewards and consequences for yourself. If you meet your goal, reward yourself (for example, when I break a 3-hour olympic time, I fully intend to buy a new bike). And if you fail to meet your goal . . . well, I personally don't use negative reinforcement to achieve my goals, but if your personality works well with punishment-type scenarios, then it might be helpful to take away something you enjoy if you don't meet a goal. For example, if you miss a bunch of workouts one week, maybe the next week you sacrifice your favorite TV show.

I'll put up some more posts in the future about how to work exercise into a busy schedule, as well as tips on eating healthy, but I hope this helps to get you started.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

So What's the Plan, Stan?

With my first half marathon under my feet and the Genesis Multisport Club going strong, it's time to turn my attention to my second (third?) triathlon season. I feel like I've got a really good handle on how to plan a season, how to periodize my training, and how to get the most out of myself, so the prospect of looking forward is downright thrilling.

A new season . . . a new chance to prove ourselves. Anyone else feel like they have to rein themselves in, this time of year? We've just gotten past the ITU and Ironman world championships; we've seen the best of the best do their best against each other on some of the toughest courses around. And they make it look so darn easy! I watch Sam McGlone powering through mile 20 of her marathon, her arms and legs swinging easily along, one foot in front of the other, and I think, "I could do that."

It's disorienting when I actually get out on the track (or treadmill) and realize that, even though I feel as good as she looks while running, I'm setting a 9:20 pace. Which is nowhere close to the 7:00-minute miles I would probably need to clock if I were to get anywhere near the top spots in a sizable race; I just don't have the kind of speed to be on the podium.

But as I go into a time of recovery this off-season, the back of mind is whirring like the cogs in a tiny, homemade clock. Now if I just base build here and start my speed work here . . . if I really work on technique . . . if I buy a new bike and really put in those long hours . . .

The impossible suddenly seems achievable.

With that in mind, I have this crazy, empty-headed notion that this year I'm going to be competitive. This year I'm taking my hopes beyond Oh God I hope I can finish this thing, which is what I experienced in my first (and only) Olympic distance. This year, I have the knowledge, commitment, and desire to take my training and racing to the next level. And if that's not enough, then it will provide that much more fuel for the 2009 season.

As to the brass tacks . . .
April 22 - Spring Migration Tri (super sprint, priority C)
May 5 - Wildflower (Olympic or half, I haven't decided yet, priority B)
June 3 - Flint Hills Tri (Olympic, priority B)
June 16 - Topeka Tinman (Olympic, priority A)
July 1 - Town and Country Tri (super sprint, priority C)
July 18 - Shawnee Mission ("Long," priority A)
July 28 - Mudwater (sprint, priority A)
August 11 - Salty Dogs (super sprint, priority C)
August 25 - Splash 'n' Dash (super sprint, priority C)
September 9 - Midwest Meltdown (Olympic, priority B)
September 22 - OKC Redman (Half Iron, priority B)

That's a lot of races for one year, and I'm sure--absolutely positive!--I'll pare it down. For one thing, it'll probably be too darn expensive to do all of them (my spreadsheet tells me almost $800 just in entry fees). But I love racing, I want to do as much of it as I can, and this plan is only tentative anyway.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Race Report: Wichita (Half) Marathon

Well. That wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done. It's probably only the fourth or fifth hardest thing.

The world of running is new to me. I didn't come into triathlon from a solid endurance sport background. So this is my first straight-up running race since my dad made my brother and me do the River Run, which was when I was seven or eight. In other words, I had no idea what to expect.

The experience was totally different from a triathlon. First of all, there's the wake-up call. With no transition area to set up and no body marking and no wiggling into a wet suit and no warming up three separate ways, there's really no need to arrive any more than fifteen minutes before the start. Add that to the fact that my dad and I each ran half of the race and I ran the second half (i.e. no pre-race warm up at all for me), and I ended up taking pictures at the starting line; I may as well have been an observer.

Along with all that, this is the first race I've done in Wichita, although not my first Kansas race. Since the only marathon I've really been fully exposed to is the L.A. Marathon, which is a haven for the unexperienced and those looking for a challenge, I think of a marathon as a pretty manageable endeavor, something that takes some stamina and training, but not at all superhuman (and I think the current literature, for example, the "Marathoning for Mortals" phenomenon, reflects that attitude). I could have guessed that the Wichita Marathon would betray quite a different point of view. See, the L.A. Marathon serves the city as a mechanism that reduces the distance between the gods and mere mortals; true, the elites still finish the "race" six hours faster than the slowest Angeleno marathoners, but they all finish the same race. Wichita, as of yet, has no such mechanism; the gap between the superhuman and the everyday is much, much wider.

So while I was expecting at least a thousand participants--I figured people would come from all around because the race was advertised as a flat, fast, "qualify for Boston" kind of course--there were actually about 400. And hey, nothing to be disappointed in; that's 400 bad-ass Kansans. Nowhere near the 20,000 who turn out for the L.A. 26.2 every year, but as I said, not disappointing. Intriguing, but not disappointing.

From a personal perspective, all these differences between the Wichita Marathon and, say, a collegiate tri added up to a very laid-back race day for me. I had already established that I was not going to be able to do this race fast, and I had made my goal simply to finish. I had made my peace with that decision, telling myself that I can run fast when I go back to 5K. Thus, in my mind, the only objective was to keep putting one foot right in front of the other.

And it added up to one of the most pleasant race experiences I ever had. The miles flew by. Well, the time flew by; the miles did not, in any sense of the word, fly (unless you know some object that can go airborne at 5-6 MPH). In fact, as I passed mile 21 (my mile 8), I thought to myself, "This is the easiest long run I've ever done!"

Until mile 10.

At mile 10, my legs turned to lead and my hamstrings and quads pulled up into my pelvis like testicles on a cold day. "No no," they seemed to say, "you can do the rest of this race without us!" I wasn't wearing a chronograph, and the Wichita Marathon uses neither chips nor mats for timing, so I have no idea what my pacing was like, but I would bet that I was running sub-11-minute pace up until mile 10. Since my overall average pace was just under 12, I figure I must have been running slower than 13-minute pace by the end. It was horrible. It hurt so bad just to put one foot in front of the other. The time passed as if it were covered in molasses and crawling on its elbows through jello. It took every ounce of discipline and masochism I've managed to cultivate in the past year and half not to start walking (although the tall, strapping guy about a block ahead of me who was walking sure helped my resolve). We all know how it is; we've all had those moments (multiple times!) where our bodies hurt and our souls are crushed and we just want it to be over . . . but we've trained, and we know we'll hate ourselves if we stop now, and we know that if we can just keep moving, it will be that much easier to overcome this pain next time. It's what makes these crazy endeavors we undertake beautiful and ineffable and ethereal. I'm pretty sure it's what keeps us coming back for more.

Anyway, fortunately there were volunteers and/or supporters every block or so, each one shouting encouragement and praise at me (after 5 hours on the course). There was one guy who said, "Just five more blocks, and you have a tailwind!" and I thought, "What the hell? No I don't! It's blowing right in my face!" But inane comments aside, the supporters were great. And as I ran into Old Town (on bricks, I might add--the streets, not my feet) and heard the music and microphone-enhanced celebration of (five-hour) finishers, I willed myself to pick up the pace. My parents came into view, my dad holding a camera as I started to use my poor, shrunken ham- and quad-sicles to rotate the lead weights coming off my hips a little bit faster. I shouted at him, "You better make it a good shot, because you're only getting one!" Then I was around the corner (still on bricks) and within view of the finish line and the crowd. With about 50 yards left, I gave it all I had left and sprinted full speed across the line. "Jamie Morton, you are . . . " the finisher of a half marathon. Hurray! (maybe someday with the Ironman thing. I've got time, ya know.)

Looking back, it was a great experience. Oh sure, there were some hitches . . . I forgot my heart rate monitor, and my chronograph. I came into the race with a weird pain in my left foot (from teaching water aerobics, of all things) and ankle. A cold front moved into the area within half an hour of the race start, causing temperatures to abruptly drop 5 degrees and bringing a biting north wind that persisted for the remainder of the day (actually, it's still persisting). I started off with a long sleeve t-shirt which I had to shed by mile 3 (but hey, a triathlete would always rather over-prepare than under-prepare, right?). I did something to my knee on a downhill that involved lots and lots of pain through miles 5, 6, 7, and 8 (I considered stopping at several of those aid stations, asking myself, "Is this annoyance, or real, dangerous, I-am-your-ligament-and-I-am-torn-and-shriveling pain?"). I forgot sunscreen. Oh, and I can't walk down stairs or move in pretty much any manner without encountering severe pain. And after the race was over, as I was scarfing down bananas and Gatorade, my dad and I discussed how we seriously don't like running. It hurts and it's hard and it sucks and we don't think it's for us and we don't want to do it ever, ever again . . . ESPECIALLY not for 13.1 miles. And definitely never, ever for 26.2.

Today we got a brochure in the paper for the annual Turkey Trot (November 17). We're debating whether to do the 2 miles or the 10.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

T minus 6

Well, I have much to say. About the results of Kona. About the 2008 season (which I've been busily planning). About plans and poems and pictures. About spinning workout 4, which I'll be uploading soon.

But for now, I'll just say that I'm running my first half marathon--my longest run ever--in six days.

Eee!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Spinning Workout 3 - Cadence (45 minutes)

"Jamie, haven't you been promising us a new spinning workout for a long time?"

"Why, yes! I have! Here you go!"

Sorry it's been so long in coming. These things are time-consuming!

SPINNING WORKOUT 3 - CADENCE W/ INTENSITY & CLIMBING (45 minute)


Saturday Morning (2:57) : Warm up (3)
Brand New Hero (3:43) : Spin : +(4), up at 1st verse : pick up at chorus : down at 2nd verse : pick up at chorus : +(5) up at bridge : pick up at chorus : -(4) after chorus
100 Miles (5:03) : Time trial : +(5), up at B : -(4), down at second B
Crying Shame (3:06) : Time trial : pick up at guitar solo
Come on Eileen (4:08) : -(3), down, quick legs : high intensity, flats : +(5), up at chorus : down at end of chorus : +(5), up at chorus (stay quick!) : -(4), down, accelerate with music at bridge : up at "To me!" stay quick : -(3), down, recover through instrumental
Blood (2:51) : Begin climbing section : +(4) at intro : +(5), up at 1st verse : +(6) at 2nd chorus
Are You Happy Now (3:49) : Stay up, -(5) : down at chorus : up at 2nd chorus :
Breaking the Girl (4:57) : (5), stay up, match cadence : down, keep cadence at 2nd verse : +(6), up at bridge : --(4) at end
Thoughts of a Dying Atheist (3:11) : -(3), begin descent : pick up at chorus : +(4) at second verse : pick up at chorus : up at interlude : pick up at chorus
Crush (3:11) : stay up, on-off sprints : on-off sprints at 2nd verse : down at cut time, pick up at end : stay quick through interlude, push cadence through end
Crazy Life (4:17) : Cool down
The Toilet Song (1:24) : Stretching

Looking for more workouts? Go here!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Surprisingly Delicious

I'm pretty sure this is delicious, although it's weird enough that I can't be sure. At any rate, it's been one of those nights where I come in from a run and eat anything that moves, so my judgment might be impaired.

Quinoa Peanut Butter Pilaf
1/3 cup quinoa (I use 1/3 cup because that's about as much as I can eat at one sitting)
1/4 cup all-natural peanut butter (unsweetened, unsalted)
1 Tbsp honey (good stuff, preferably organic and raw)
Salt to taste

Cook the quinoa by simmering it in twice as much water (in this case, 2/3 cup). It's done when the grains are translucent (you can see a tiny dot or squiggle in each one), the water's gone, and it's tender. Immediately add the peanut butter; you need the heat to melt it in. Then add in honey, and sprinkle with salt. I know it sounds weird (and it's not actually a pilaf), but it was pretty good. Unusual, but tasty.

Let me know if I'm truly crazy.

Health is my Addiction

Health is like a drug. Two years ago, I couldn't run more than two miles at a time. I ate sensibly, but I would never think of counting calories or grams of protein. And I certainly would never have given second thought to the idea of a weird diet like all raw foods.

Yet I find myself strangely drawn to this idea of a raw lifestyle. What I've read about it seems really promising. As far as health goes, it seems like a wise move. And the recipes . . . they look pretty good. Besides, it's not like I have to go 100%, all-out raw (at least not right away).

What I'm realizing is that health is addictive. At first, I was just working out. Then I started becoming so healthy and strong. I loved being in tune with the contractions of my muscles
going up stairs and lifting groceries. It was a new feeling, and I really enjoyed it. I had a new rapport with my body, and so I wanted to take better care of it. Which means that I'm willing to go to greater and greater lengths to . . . let's call it detoxifying. Partly I've realized how much of what we, as modern consumers, put into our bodies is harmful. Unnatural. Toxic.

I want to cut all of that out, and make my lifestyle as natural as possible. But reading about what's involved . . . no cooked foods? Sprouting? Dehydration? Wheat grass juicing? I waver between "This is a bit excessive," and "No, this is the way things are supposed to be; this is natural."

So . . . natural lifestyle. I've decided on one raw meal a day, less sucrose, less sodium chloride, less gluten. Which means less bread. Sigh . . .

And new raw recipes coming soon!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm Back!

Guess what! My keyboard is fixed! No more number/letter combos! No more deleting every other key! What does this mean for you, dear reader? It means that my excuse for not posting is gone! Which means that I'm back in the blogging mix.

So what's new? I'm working about 20 hours/week at my gym, and have officially taken over our tri training club. My coworkers are awesome . . . so supportive, so friendly and encouraging. It's only 20 hours a week, still . . . and that's only part classes. The other part is working (read: babysitting) at the club's rock wall on weekends. It's mostly a good thing . . . I love climbing, but haven't been able to really do a lot of it in several months. My hands and arms are definitely much stronger; I can already tell a difference in my finger strength. But it is boring, at times, since the traffic at the wall is so light. Most of the time I just sit there and watch sports on TV. The kids who come in are mostly nice and well-behaved. I make just a little above minimum wage (which is the lowest hourly wage I've ever been paid, in five years of working). But I think that the pros and cons pretty much balance out.

I look at this job as an internship; I never had one in school, and now I'm paying my dues. I'm investing in a company that I believe in with high hopes that someday soon it's going to work out as a full-time, secure job for me.

Kind of like training. You put in the time, deal with the pain, run when you don't want to run, keep your legs turning over when your muscles scream, continue swimming even when you're kicked in the face . . . and what drives it? It's an investment. Whether in speed or pride or lifetime fitness, it's an investment. And it's a really smart investment, at that. Have you ever found yourself, at the end of a race (or even of a workout) thinking, "That was so not worth it." Of course not! In fact, I would say it's much more likely that you might wish that you had invested more.

Anyway. Investment. I'm still investing. I'm investing in my half marathon training, I'm investing in my fitness career, and I am investing in this blog. To that end, I'll have some more of those spinning workouts up for download later this week.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Successes and Mistakes

Well, this morning I made a mistake; a couple of them actually. See, I've been very much enjoying yogurt smoothies for breakfast, lately. Today, I looked in the refrigerator and saw a very ripe mango in the crisper drawer. I think that it had been there for a while; the skin was a little wrinkly, and it was soft to the touch. But it was still good, so I decided that it would be the perfect ingredient for my morning smoothie.

Now, as I was making this smoothie, I thought that strawberry-mango sounded like a promising combination. But I decided to forego the strawberry element and stick with straight-up mango. To the diced mango, I added 1/2 cup yogurt (the last of it! I must buy some more!), a scoop of whey protein powder, and 1/2 cup of milk.

Or at least, I thought I did.

The blender didn't blend as smoothly as I am accustomed. It had to work a bit to get everything mixed up. Then when I poured the blended, um, "drink" into my cup, it looked a little . . . glooooopy. So I grabbed a spoon.

"Hmm," I thought, "This smoothie is really, really thick. It's actually more like mango/French Vanilla (flavoring from the protein powder) yogurt than a smooth drink. I guess next time I need to add more milk." And it was heavy enough that I couldn't eat/drink the whole thing at once, so I went to return it to the refrigerator until such time as I am hungry again. And on my way to the fridge, I saw my second mistake: 1/2 cup of milk sitting on the counter. Yep; I never added it to the blender. So I really was eating mango yogurt.

As for the first mistake, after I mixed in the milk, I realized that mango is just too sweet to be a good smoothie-maker on its own; it needs some tartness to balance it out, and the strawberries would definitely have done that.

But it hasn't all been mistakes! I've had a couple of original recipes work really well in the past couple days. For your gastronomical pleasure, I present:

Venison Mushroom Nu Ways

1/2 pound ground venison
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 tbsp steak sauce (or BBQ or Worcestershire)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and let them set for 15 minutes or so, enough to let the flavors mix around a bit. Brown the meat mixture in a skillet until it's crumbly and cooked through. Drain the liquid off, if you like (I don't, because both meats are so lean). Serve on whole grain bread with lots of mustard, and cheese, if you want it. Sliced onions are really good on top, too. I don't know how wide-spread the Nu Way restaurant chain is, but we have them in Wichita. A Nu Way sandwich is like a crumbly hamburger, and so this is a take on that idea. I use venison because it's very lean, much better for you than beef, and has a much stronger flavor. The mushrooms really highlight that slightly wild, gamey taste. A very healthy alternative to fast food. By the way, I used 5 oz ground venison and 3 oz ground turkey in this recipe, because I needed to get rid of the last little bit of ground turkey. Makes 2 servings.

Blawberry Smoothie
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp turbinado sugar

Frozen berries are okay. Blend together. Add protein powder if you like.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Longest Run Ever

Not because it was difficult; I'd just never run 8 miles at once, before.

My training over the past few weeks has been mediocre, at best (and nonexistent at worst). I was out of town for three weeks, then when I came back, I started working my first 40 hour work week ever. I'm working at a gym, but still. Being gone from 8:00 to 6:30 every day makes it difficult to get in the kind of miles I need for my upcoming events.

But getting out and running today will (I hope) act in a revitalizing fashion. The climbing wall (which I'm staffing at my club) is cutting back to fall hours starting Monday, so I won't have to be there from 12-6 every day. Which means that I can get in some of those big rides and runs during the day, instead of having to get up super early or stay out super late. 8 miles wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be; I feel like 10k was the big hump, and after I did that (my first 10k training run was in April), everything else is cake. Although we'll see if that's the case as I get into 10 and 12 mile runs. Obviously, it's not easy to keep those legs moving after the miles start building, but it's possible. And it reminds me of that self-discipline that makes me love running so much; once I get going, I feel so strong, so empowered, so capable. And I think that reminder will keep me going over the next few weeks as I train for non-tri events (which, frankly, aren't as exciting to me).

I now know the importance of carrying band aids along with me on training runs. I actually had to stop at Walgreen's to buy some and bandage my blistered feet. I also really need to purchase some new running shoes; I've had my current pair since December. Including stops for band aiding, I was out for 1:51; without those stops, 1:36. That's about a 12-minute-mile pace, right? I guess that's okay. I'd really like to be between 10 and 11 for the race, but that might not be realistic. At any rate, this will be my first half marathon, and so my primary objective is to finish!

My dad is also training, although I think he's focusing more on his biking right now. I'm really looking forward to these endeavors. And I can't wait for my 10-mile long run next week!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Still Alive


Back from Kaua'i. Ke3y6bo9ar4d st5i8ll br4o9ke3n. Hope to get it fixed soon, at which point I'll really update. Until then, i8t5's si8mp0ly6 t5o9o9 fr4u7st5r4at5i8ng t5o9 have3 t5o9 de3le3t5e3 e3ve3r4y6 o9t5he3r4 char4act5e3r4.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Back

Back from my week of working with high school students at a Mennonite summer camp. It was exhausting. And I'm extremely glad to be back in my house with a normal shower and bed. I'm also glad to be away from the delicious but deadly German food which I enjoyed all week (enjoyed far too much, in fact). Also, with all that meat, bread, and cheese, I'm looking forward to pooping again.

Although running around with a bunch of teenagers all week did keep me pretty active (and I was also driving back and forth between Cheney and Wichita to teach fitness classes all week), I didn't get as much training in as I would have liked. One of the other counselors (who's running for Friends University starting this fall) and I planned to run in the mornings, but we were so bushed that we never did. Probably a good thing; I'm sure it would have been difficult for me to keep up with her, no matter how slowly she ran. I did get out for one 2.5 mile run on Thursday morning, but it wasn't particularly useful; I was so mentally tired that I couldn't keep my legs moving. I wasn't fatigued or out of breath; I just didn't want to run.

And I find that my training once again lacks motivation; I enjoy swimming, biking, running, lifting, climbing, yoga, and whatever else I can find to do, but it seems pretty aimless right now. But I guess I felt the same way before my first race; I was working out a lot, but I didn't really have any concept of what was required. I guess it makes sense that the same would be true for the time leading up to my first half marathon. I'll probably finish super slowly, feel inspired to be better next time, and train my little heart out for my next long run. 'Tis the way of things.

By6 t5he3 w2ay6, my6 ke3y6bo9ar4d i8s act5i8ng u7p0.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Too Much

Now wouldn't it be ridiculous if I got all overtrained when I'm not even (technically) training for anything?

This morning, I commuted by bike for the first time. It's a 17 or 18 mile bike ride from my house to Genesis, which I didn't think was too bad. And I gave myself an hour and a half to get there, so I knew I didn't have to rush.

But I really should have thought better than to commute by bike to teach a spinning class.

As a result, I felt like the energy was way down for my class; this is the first time ever that I have not wanted to really push it in my spinning class, and I think it was hard for my students to go as far as they could have as a result. Besides which, I think the workout I planned was just too hard. Last week's was really difficult, too (but difficult in a way that was much more fun). So I think that next week I'll try to make my class more fun. Still intense, but more fun. Today felt like work, and I don't want it to be a place where clients enjoy being.

I guess I need to recognize that I'm not going to be perfect at this teaching thing (even though I think I'm pretty naturally suited for it). Some days, I'm going to mess up. And hopefully I don't chase a bunch of my regulars off. But maybe the small failures are worthwhile if I learn from them.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Recipe: Creamy Garbanzo Bean Soup

Found this recipe today, and just had to try it. I made half a batch ('cause it's just me tonight) using a can of Trader Joe's garbanzo beans, about a sixth of an onion, a full clove of garlic, and a quarter cup of cream. The soup is easy to make and delicious to eat. I recommend skipping the cumin oil unless you have real cumin seeds; all I had was ground cumin, and I definitely didn't make the oil swirled on top look as appealing as the recipe's creator. Besides which, the oil adds so much fat and so many calories, you're better off without (then you don't have to feel so guilty about the cream); just add about a teaspoon of cumin directly into the soup, or else sprinkle it on top. I'm eating my soup with a slice of whole grain bread, because that's all I have. But I bet it would be excellent with some crusty baguette, or maybe sourdough bread.

Eat a cup of it for 480 calories, 50 g carbohydrate, 11 g protein, and 27 g fat.

So What's Next

My triathlon season is officially over, now (although I've seriously considered looking for another race in the next few months). I've been racing since February, and have done something like half a dozen races here and there. And I feel like, for my first season, that's not bad. Now I have a new set of goals and ambitions that I'm hoping to accomplish, and I'm even looking ahead to next season to see what might be possible.

First up, I have a few more events on the horizon. The MS 150 is a two-day tour I'll be doing with my dad (whom I'm hoping to draw into triathlon this year) for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. By the way, if you'd like to check out my info and/or donate to my ride, you can visit my participant page. That's in September. After that, I'll be gearing up for my first-ever half marathon, which will be the longest distance I've ever run (I'm also doing that with my dad, unless he bails at the last minute; I don't think he believes that I really expect him to do it).

But besides the next races, I have a long list of off-season goals, the first of which is to build my aerobic base (hence the long races). I just can't compete with the folks who have been doing endurance sports for the last 10 years. I know that building that kind of aerobic base takes time and hard work more than anything else, but I want to do as much as I can in the next year to make sure that I have a solid base to start from. Core strength is another goal of mine; I'm so lazy when it comes to doing crunches. I'm already starting to do a lot of swimming and running drills, so that I can improve my form and be able to compete with better efficiency next year; I'm hoping that will set me up for some big leaps forward in my swim and run pacing.

I want to dial in my nutrition, so that I have that reliable habit of eating consistently well, and so that I can lose some weight and seriously reduce my body fat percentage (which my scale says is the same as last year at this time, and I have no idea how that is possible; I think the scale is inaccurate). At any rate, to that end, I've been keeping track of my nutrition fastidiously: Counting calories, fat, protein, and carbs, as well as various vitamins and minerals. Know what I've found? I get pretty close to my target consumption (1700/day), but in the wrong way. I haven't been able to get enough protein. Granted, I've only been paying attention to protein for 3 days now, but I've been far enough off (like 50 g off target every day, going by the 40-30-30 rule) that I suspect I lack protein in my diet. Which strikes me as odd; I've read that most Americans get roughly 300% the protein they need every day. Maybe that's not true, or maybe I'm not a very average American. At any rate, I need to get some more protein!

I've been trying to drink more milk and eat more cheese, and I've been eating more quinoa (although I discovered today that the glycemic index is a little higher than I might like for it). I guess I'm going to have to start doing the broiled chicken breast thing, too. It probably wouldn't hurt to cut back on my carbohydrate consumption, either, especially now that I'm not training as vigorously.

Anyway, training and diet aside, starting in September I'm going to be running the west side multisport club at the gym at which I'm working, and I'm very excited about that. I don't think I could possibly have as much fun with this team as I had with my wonderful USC team, but it will be excellent to train and race with other tri crazies again. Not to mention, I'll be getting paid for it. Not enough to pay the bills, but hopefully that will be worked out when I get my NSCA certification.

So that's what I have coming up during this offseason. Without the training, perhaps I'll have more time to post workouts and recipes.

Look!

Photos, courtesy of my dad and my new (awesome) camera!

Pre-race

Reppin' USC!


Swim

I've never seen a close-up picture of myself swimming. It makes me aware that I need to work on my recovery.


T1

Man, I wish I hadn't run so hard coming out of the water. That hurt.


Bike

I swear there was more uphill than downhill on this course. I don't know how that's possible on a circular loop, but I swear it's true.




T2

Totally rocking transition


I'd like to mention that my race number ripped off my belt in transition, which is why it's on crooked here.


Run



Oh, so much pain . . .


Hanging with Sarah Reinersten!

Who is a USC grad, by the way.


Please, do not expect me to do anything for the next five or six hours

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Race Report: Shawnee Mission

Honestly, I haven't wanted to do this. My race didn't exactly go as well as I wanted it to. Well, in a way it did. Right after the race, I felt okay about it. I knew that I had given what I had to give. I knew (from my heart rate monitor) that I worked as hard as was reasonable for most of the race (and sometimes harder).

But upon reviewing my results, I've been supremely disappointed. That's not how I trained. Those speeds are not what I was prepared to race. And I keep telling myself that I've still improved by leaps and bounds over last year's performance. And that I've only been doing this for a year, and that I can't possibly compete against people who have been building an aerobic base for the last 10 to 20 years. And that I gave all that I had.

But I wish I had more to give.

Swim
Last year: 24:18
This year: 23:04
I have to say, I was very pleased with my swim. Standing in the water, waiting for the start, I was confident, excited, and calm. I think that, in terms of race preparation and mental state, this was my strongest start ever. I knew that, even though I'm a fairly slow swimmer (2:18/100? My goal would be 1:45/100), I can be a lot more competitive as a swimmer in Kansas, as opposed to California (where everyone, at some point, was on a swim, water polo, or synchronized swim team). So I stood in the front, and figured if anyone wanted to go around me, I'd rather they have to swim around me than I have to swim around them. But this swim was the first one where I'd really felt the infamous aggression of triathlon open swim starts. I was hitting someone or being hit (but more of the former, sorry fellow competitors!) for most of the 1000 meters. It was actually kind of fun, but a little frustrating while trying to swim around (sometimes over) someone else. I tried not to be too mean; I know how I would feel if I got mauled and passed in the space of a minute. Anyway, long story short, I had the 41st fastest swim (out of 57).

T1
Last year: 3:48
This year: 1:02
7th fastest.

Bike
Last year: 93:50 (11.5 MPH)
This year: 65:02 (16.6 MPH)
The day before (as I drove the course), I realized that I may have made a misjudgment of the course. Because I was so slow and undertrained last year, I built this idea that the course wasn't that hard; it was just my perception. Besides, when you're averaging 11.5 MPH, the smallest hills become mountains. But there are some sizable, very intimidating hills on that course. And I had to do each of them 4 times. And I simply wasn't in climbing shape. To be fair, there is absolutely no way to train hills around Wichita; we don't have any! But that wasn't very comforting when my speed dropped to 5 MPH on the Dam Hill (which lives in infamy for all Shawnee Mission Triathletes!). At any rate, my 40 MPH downhill speed and 26 MPH cruising speed (which I was able to sustain for the 1 mile of flat road at the end and 1/2 mile at the beginning of each loop) couldn't make up for my embarassingly slow ascents. 36th fastest time. But at least I wasn't the last one on the course this year!

T2
Last year: 1:39
This year: 0:50
Fifth fastest time!

Run
Last year: 55:26 (12:21/mile)
This year: 52:48 (11:54/mile)
When I looked up my results the other night, this was my biggest disappointment. I haven't run so slowly since Cal Poly, in March. Since then, I've broken my 10:00/mile a couple of times. And I've run most of my training runs closer to 9:20. Even on my brick workouts, I've been running 10:00 or 10:30, but never 11:54. Again, the course was harder than I remembered. Harder and hotter. Last year, I was just focused on keeping my legs moving, so much so that I never noticed the hills (we had to run up the Dam Hill, as well). And last year it was raining, so I never knew that most of the course is exposed to the sun at 10:00 a.m. The heat was just miserable. For the first time, I really, really wished that I had a fuel belt or a water bottle along on the run. I think if I had been better hydrated, I would have been better able to keep my heartrate down. My heart rate, by the way, stayed right around 181. Which makes me think that I've probably trained my lactate threshold higher. Because it was at around 184, but I stayed right below that for almost an hour. I was pretty excited thinking about that during the run. The course ended on a decent-sized hill. So that was fun, to run up that at the end. My HR climbed to 194, which (I'm pretty sure) is the highest it's ever been. I wanted to die, after that. I thought I was going to fall down and then throw up and then fall down some more.

But you know, writing it all out again, reliving it in my mind, I feel pretty good about it. Yes, I didn't achieve my goal of reaching the podium, or of being in the top 10 women . . . I didn't even meet my goal time. But I did go out there and I worked as hard as I could. Yes, I wish that could have been harder; I wish my body would have had a little more to give. But I gave what I had. I performed my best on Sunday. So I'm pretty proud of that.

Final
Last year: 2:59:10
This year: 2:22:44
Overall, I've seen a lot of improvement. I still have room to grow. And I keep remembering what one of my tri buddies said after UCLA's reverse sprint. We were looking at the results and he told me, "You know, out of everyone on the team, I think you're the one who's improved the most. And in a couple of years, you're going to be a really competitive age grouper." So yeah. I'm still improving. I took more than half an hour off my time from last year. I got to the start confident, calm, and collected. I rocked my transitions. I finished strong. These things have come with experience, practice, and hard work. So I'm going to keep working and racing, and I'm going to be back next year stronger and faster.

I am no longer a tri neophyte.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

T Minus 1

I'm off to Shawnee Mission for my priority race and final triathlon of the season. My muscles feel packed with glycogen, I've gone over my race checklist (twice!), and I've tuned, oiled, and tightened my bike. I'm feeling a little tight, especially in my legs (maybe I went too hard on my "easy" run yesterday). But I'll stretch it all out before we get in the car, and then again after we check into our hotel.

Race report forthcoming. See you then.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

T Minus 4

Rest yesterday, rest today. Easy run tomorrow with short, intense intervals (just to remind my legs what to do). And packing! Because on Saturday I get to go to Shawnee Mission!

In other news, I got a call from the Multisport director at Genesis, today. We'll be meeting on Monday to discuss the possibility of me taking over the West Central Multisport Club. Which would be awesome.

I don't know what I'm going to do for spinning class on Monday; I doubt I'm going to be able to maintain the level of intensity I would expect from my students. Maybe a climbing workout is the way to go. With lots of climbing, my heart rate won't climb as high as if we do a lot of speedwork. I'm sure my heart rate will still be much higher than normal, but I hope it won't be so high that I can't set an example for intensity for my class.