Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dreading and Owning

So I had this workout on the schedule...I saw it Sunday and kinda went, gulp.

That's gonna be hard.

I thought about it often this week. I kept thinking how it was going to be hard, and how I was going to really need to dig deep and focus.

Coach Emily wants me to do some Yasso 800s. It's an aggressive pace for me to hold for an 800, but then again, I'm going for an aggressive pace for me for 26.2 miles. So what I needed to do was hit a track.

Except we got a SNOWSTORM yesterday. A FREAKING SNOWSTORM.


So track at 5:15am + snowstorm would not be a good idea. I opted for the treadmill...better than nothing.

This was my first attempt, so I was to do 5. I was supposed to start these before I got sick, so I'm definitely late to the game. But what's done is done--I have to look forward now. Coach gave me permission to do the first 2 at 8.1 mph and hold the last 3 at my required pace of 8.2 mph.

I know the tready is easier than the road, so I do know I need to get outside soon for these. But in the meantime, I decided to face the dread head-on. I loaded up the iPod with lots of new tunes and made a playlist entitled "ALL IN." I knew it would be handy while I was running staring at the wall the next morning.

I started to get pumped.

The alarm went off and I was ready. Bring it. I knew it would be a good run. I started and my warmup pace felt easier than it did on Tuesday...progress, noted.

Then I busted these things out.

The first 2 I did do at 8.1mph, and it was tough but doable. I did the next 2 at 8.2. Difficult. Done.

The last one I did at 8.3 since I felt guilty for being on a treadmill for these. It was very tough. But I put the Eminem on and really focused, and got it done.

So there's 5 Yassos. I need to work up to a few more, but it's a good start.

I was so pumped when I was done after the full 7+ miles that I did some upper body work, did one extra chin-up (yay!) but still workin' on those pull-ups...and even had time for breakfast, coffee, and a much-needed shower before work.

All day I've been in a good mood. I am feeling good. That workout made me feel good.

I'm starting to really believe.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


12 miles, 9:04 pace, outside with Ana, felt GREAT!

THAT was good for the head.

Next week I'll be ramping back up to 16. Bring. IT.

Gonna go hydrate myself somethin' stupid now!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seven Weeks

So I know it's been quiet over here.

Part of that is it's the end of the 3rd quarter. In fact, I have a pile of AP essays sitting next to me now begging to be graded. Sigh.

But part of that is that I just haven't quite known what to say.

I got ANOTHER infection last weekend. The doctor thinks it was a secondary sinus infection. Basically, I felt like butt. Headache that literally had me laying around like a slug (which works very well with two toddlers--my house looked like a tornado had come through) and begging for mercy with the most disgusting matter ever coming out of my nose. After a 5 mile treadmill run that literally almost had me in tears because how on earth was I ever going to run this pace again?, I cried uncle and called the doctor. She put me on antibiotics. I've taken it relatively easy over here--a MUCH better 5 mile run yesterday morning that even had me feeling like Rocky and busting out some pushups afterwards, but when it comes down to it....

I am still not 100%.

It's been over 2 weeks. Two very, very important weeks of training in a very, very important part of my marathon training plan.

To say I've been panicking is the understatement of the century.

Yesterday I lost it. I came home from work and was already bawling. Matt had no clue what to do with me. I just kept thinking how things were going so well, and this was my one chance before the times dropped down to what is darn near impossible for me, given my daily life responsibilities.

I felt like I was watching it slip away.

Emergency email into Coach Emily (who, by the way, kicked some serious ass at IM San Juan 70.3...she's pretty awesome like that). Basically saying something to the effects of:

Am I out of time?

Out of miles?

Do I give up? Do I drop to the half or do I readjust my goals and accept that this isn't in the cards?

She gave me a nice and much needed ass-kicking to the head. Here are some of the points raised:

1. There are 7 weeks left. There is still time to ramp up my miles. Not much, but enough.

2. What's the worst that can happen here? I blow up? So let's say I blow up. The sun will still come up on May 16th. The earth will continue to rotate on its axis. Life will go on.

3. She directed me to this article. Specifically, the part about Kara Goucher at the end. Is awesome. "I either need to be all in, or this isn't going to key word now is of limits of myself, free not to do anything but run as hard as I can..."

I'm coming to terms with the reminder that this is, in fact, a MARATHON. There are NEVER any guarantees in a marathon. There is ALWAYS the chance you will blow up. There was before, and there still is now. These two weeks have not changed that entirely.

This has never, ever been easy for me. I am not the best athlete. I never have been. But what I do have going for me is a borderline irrational level of determination. I know that if I lined up on May 15th wearing a half marathon bib or standing by the 3:50 pace group, regardless of what happened at the finish line, I wouldn't sleep well that night. I would wonder. I would feel that I haven't given it my all.

That I wasn't all in.

The next seven weeks will be a true test of how far my heart can get me. I am going to have to work harder now than I was going to before. (And that was going to be pretty damn hard to begin with.) I am going to focus on just doing what I can do--letting these two weeks go, and focusing on the future.

And now I'm about to get all history on yo' asses. ;)

One of my favorite quotes that I always give my AP kids every year before they take their test--in a note I write to them with smarties stapled to it--is the one I had in my bento box the day I did Ironman almost five years ago. I think I need a refresher.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." --Teddy Roosevelt

No one ever said this would be easy. Especially for me.

It's about damn time I freed myself from my own limits.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What To Do When You're Hit with the Flu

Maybe you've already been there. Maybe you haven't yet.

But trust me, you will someday.

Everything will be hummin' along just feels great, you feel great. And then one morning, your run seems a little harder than usual.

Hmmmm. That's strange, you think. I wonder why my heart rate was so high, or why I couldn't maintain that interval as easily as I could last week. Ah, well, it's probably nothing...

And then the next thing you know, BAM! For me, it was 103 degree fever and the flu.

Now, if you're anything like me, you're a Type-A triathlete who probably thinks, "No big deal! I can take an Emergen-C and everything will be FINE! I can totally still run (or bike or swim) long tomorrow like I have scheduled....cough cough WHEEZE."

The fact of the matter is, sometimes you get sick. Especially up here in Northeastern Ohio where March is undoubtedly the most unpredictable weather ever. Literally, one day is sunny and 62 are wearing shorts and flip flops, everyone is riding their bike outside, and I swear I even saw some girl sunbathing in her front yard after school. (We get a little excited at anything over 50 degrees here.) And the next? 12 inches of snow.

What to do, what to do?

Well, I'm going to write this to myself, here, because I am TOTALLY awful at following logical advice when it comes to training. I don't slow down well. But here I am, on day 5 in bed and finally feeling a bit like the old me again, so I'm going to give myself a few reminders. Hopefully, if any of you get hit with something nasty, you can find some advice here, too.

1. First of all, STOP. Seriously. You have to stop. No good, I repeat, NO GOOD will come if you try to continue hard workouts right now. A good rule of thumb I've always followed is that if your congestion is from the neck up, you can probably continue some light workouts (but keep them LIGHT!), and if it's from the neck down, you should rest. Chest congestion is nothing to mess with. Neither is a fever. As hard as it is (and believe me, I struggle with this one!), you have to take a few days and just rest and hydrate. Remember, you have a bigger goal here. Most training plans for endurance events last several months. Repeat after me: taking it easy for one week will not make or break a training plan. (And yes, I'm repeating that, too!) That leads me into point #2...

2. Don't let your head mess with you. Again, even with the nastiest of flus (which I am currently getting over), this is one week. I will be the first to admit that I was in full-fledged panic mode last Saturday. All of my friends were racing Saturday, running long Sunday, and my running partner had a good solid run. All without me. It was rotten. I felt like certainly I would never! race! again!, but after another day of thinking and looking at my training log, I was slightly reassured. I've put in a lot of miles to this point, and I still have a lot of miles to go until my big race in May. I've come to terms with the fact that things will somehow work out and be okay.

3. Think positive. For me, I read some of my favorite tri and running blogs while drinking orange juice. I spent time getting lost in Facebook land on the pages of my favorite tri-products, like SRAM, Specialized, Headsweats, Zipp, 2XU, and CycleOps. I looked at race registration pages for races I plan to do this summer, and signed up for my big team race at Lifetime Fitness. Another way to keep your eye on the prize is to pick up a new book related to your season. For me, I am reading "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan. This has gotten me all geeked up for when I finally feel better and can hit those roads again! Another one I love is "Run Like A Mother" by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. Anything that keeps your mind moving forward about how good you'll feel at races when you're healthy is a great thing to do right now!

So listen up, sicky (and yes, I'm talking to myself here)...this is NOT the end of the world. Get yourself another glass of water, pick up a good book, go register for that race you've been eyeing this summer, and remember, the sun will come out tomorrow. Even if the day after that you get snow.

Happy Spring Training, everyone!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Doubt Monster

Lady Gaga has her "Fame Monster."

I've been noticing a doubt monster.

He creeps around every once in a while. Sometimes I see him when I'm getting ready for work. Sometimes he peeks his head from the corner of my disaster-zone basement when I'm running on the treadmill. For some reason, I think he's blue. And fuzzy.

And tonight, I swear he crept behind the door at Urgent Care when the doctor on duty told me I had PNEUMONIA. Effing pneumonia. No running for 1-2 weeks.

1-2 weeks?

Bodies have a way of telling you they have had enough, thank you very much. It's been pretty high-stress around here lately, and I think that along with my unwillingness to back off or budge on my training (despite coughing all week--oops) has finally caught up with me.

And now I'm staring the doubt monster directly in the face.

I know it's normal to be afraid sometimes. My attempt at a 3:40 will take every ounce of guts, blood, sweat, and tears I have. It is the upper limit of what I can do, and I know this. I might crash and burn. I've accepted that.

But now I'm wondering if missing 1-2 weeks right now, in what should be the thick of my training, is going to make it out of reach. And that makes me feel like I am giving up. And I hate that.

I'm wondering if I need to realistically re-examine my goals right now. Maybe it makes more sense to try for 3:40 in the fall. Hell, that's the magic number I need for what seems like forever. It's not going anywhere.

But then I feel like I'm giving up; admitting defeat. And that's worse than this stupid pneumonia that has me with a 102 degree fever and feeling like I've been hit by a semi.

I guess what I need to do is see how long it takes me to recover from this stupid thing. Maybe it makes sense to downgrade to the half. Maybe it makes sense to adjust my goal for the full.

Right now I wish this stupid doubt monster would leave me alone. And I just wish I felt like myself again--the one with a take-no-prisoners attitude, do or die, 3:40 or bust. I hope she comes back soon.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Lookin' Up!

Well, things are better than we thought.

Turns out most of the things that are NOT covered by insurance were able to be saved! TV is OK (whew). All our furniture we got after this happened the last time was able to be cleaned.


It's still a disaster down there as is my house--it basically looks like Fisher-Price threw up everywhere--but it's gonna be okay. A little while until things get back to normal, but okay.

This week's workouts, however, were NOT okay. I kind of dropped the ball. Still managed three runs and one ride, but still not what I needed to do. Ugh.

So I was going to run with Ana this morning--a pretty specific run including 35 minutes at marathon pace. And then I got up to SNOW. AGAIN. Covering a lovely layer of black ice.

&**^^*(), @@@*&^)%!

We debated what to do. The black ice is what really stinks, as we just didn't want to risk turning an ankle. So we decided to run on the treadmill and indoor track at her gym. She said it opened at 7, so she picked me up at 6:55 and off we went. As long as we were back at her house by 9:20, we'd be good.

Except it was closed. She read the schedule wrong--7 on SATURDAY. Bummer.

We zoomed home and figured we'd give it a go. I couldn't BEAR the thought of another 2 hour session on the dreadmill. So we set out and it wasn't too bad! I wore my trail shoes to give me a little more traction and protection from the slush. We had to slow it down a bit and didn't attempt the pushes. But we still got 11.25 in before she had to run home, and held it right around a 9:10 pace. Alright, given the conditions.

Then I hopped on the treadmill and grabbed some trusty tunes to do the remaining 17 minutes I had left at 8:20 pace. It was tough and I was definitely tired, but I got it in.

When all was said and done, I managed 13.3 at just about a 9 minute pace. Not the workout I was hoping for, but one that is good money in the bank nonetheless.

Went to the zoo, looked at lots of monkeys and snakes, and now I am going to have some bonding with my couch and Toy Story 3.

Hope you stay warm if you're around here, and if you're not and it's warm out, can you please send some my way? I'm beginning to think this Groundhog was pulling my chain.