Monday, July 28, 2008

Get it done

Today started off with my first post-lesson session in the pool. All on my own at 6:40 in the morning, I stood beside the pool, looking over a swim workout, trying to commit it to memory, trying to figure out if that was REALLY the best thing for me to do, trying to decide which lane was the slowest and ask that nice person if I could join them. I know nothing about pool etiquette. I am a novice. It's one of the things I liked best about swim lessons. A lane and an instructor to myself. All on my own time... all about me.

So as I stood around, I must have looked lost because this nice older gentleman told me I could swim in his lane - he was going to be walking in it for another 30 minutes and we could share. This seemed like a really grand idea because well, there would be little wake, there would be no "competition" or feeling like I was going to get run over, drown, hit, etc... I jumped in and swam off. I did the swim test that was prescribed on the "swimplan" site I downloaded - so they could give me a program more appropriate for my ability next time. I was completely winded after 100 yards. (Have I mentioned I'm a beginner?) With the oxygen deficit, I promptly forgot what was on the schedule along with how many yards I swam. So I just did a little of this, a little of that, some drills the instructors had taught me, some breast stroke, some back stroke when I got tired, practiced some flip turns. I was so excited when I actually was able to execute a flip turn AND continue breathing for an entire length of the pool. Baby steps! I did it twice. Maybe tomorrow I can go for three times!

After about 40 minutes, I'd had enough of the pool. I said goodbye to my lane partner and the football players next to me who provided plenty of wake (thank you very much) for triathlon training. Then it was home in time for an ab workout before shower and work.

This afternoon it was onto the nutritionist. Surprisingly he told me I was doing pretty well - with balance and intervals and intake. I just needed fine tuning (and what he didn't comment on, but I know to be true - CONSISTENCY). My body fat percentage was much better than I thought it would be so now with a "test" date lined up for 6 weeks from now, I have incentive to stay on the plan and make that number better - thus (hopefully) improving my performance along the way.

This is all seemingly good news. Except I'm anxious about it. Anxious that it's so close that the small changes won't make a difference, that my performance just is what it is... sorry that's all you get... that my weight, my body composition are as good as they are ever going to get... sorry that's all there is.... But rather than defeat myself before I get started, I'm going to try because I want to see if a difference can be had. I have a test coming up and I usually test pretty well. I've always thrived in that type of situation, that type of stress is something I understand.

So.... let's forget about the weekend and the bad diet choices and the consequently less than stellar performance on the run. Let's go get it done!

It's all relative

We had a family reunion this weekend. It's been a long time since I saw many of these relatives so it was with mixed feelings I went to this event. My sisters couldn't make it so I was left on my own with a multitude of cousins, aunts and uncles along the space time continuum. We come from a very large family so we have more than our share of "individuals" to choose from. And this time, they came from near and far. All the surviving aunts and uncles were there with their various significant others, their broods of children and even their grandchildren. Grandma and Grandpa didn't live to see some of these kids, but that's probably for the best.

I won't name names because that would be well, rude, but I will say I had a great time with some of the cousins who are my age. We were able to catch up after years of living thousands of miles apart only to discover we have a lot more in common that you might imagine. We discussed how scary it is to come to these family gatherings and discover where some of our mannerisms and idiosyncrasies come from - and what they might lead to.... We marvelled at some of our younger cousins who were busy showing their children how to multi-task (climb trees and smoke at the same time) and introducing those same children to alcohol in the form of jello shots and beer.

Yes, I come from a long line of questionable characters, most with more intelligence than they ever put to good use and several lacking any kind of common sense. Most are funny, kind, quiet spoken, and more than a little bit sarcastic if you get them started. Some of them even try to eat sensibly while holding a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other... irony at it's finest. But very few of them do much more than walk as exercise... unless you count pool and bowling. I think they must think my sister and I completely crazy. We don't talk about our athletic dreams much in that crowd. It just boggles and confuses. Leaves many people asking why?

But they are family and for all their human faults and missteps, they love us and we love them in our own way. So here's to the family. You may not always want to take them out in public, but they're always there if you need a good chuckle or a hug.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Little improvements

Woo hoo! I'm so excited. I did THREE flip turns in a row! Good ones - not perfect, but good. I even swam off a few. That's a bit harder cause I'm still trying to get the breathing down right - and still sucking in too much water on the turn, but I'm so psyched. There's hope. I can do it!

And freestyle is coming along, lots of little things that need to get fixed. I've got some drills now to work on improving. Breast stroke is okay, but not pretty. Still need to figure that one out. And butterfly. I made one pretty futile attempt before I decided that I could spend my time more wisely on other things.

Now I need to figure out when and how to fit more swim improvement into my running schedule - class is over and I'm on my own.

On another note, a patient update. The puppy is doing very well in his recovery. He continues to put a little more weight on his knee every day. We are now taking two short walks every day - down to the end of the block and back. He always thinks he wants to go farther, but we're taking it slow so as not to re-injure anything.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Manic scurrying

Is scurrying a manic activity no matter what? I don't know, but I do know it is what happens when you get home from a long swim workout at 9pm to find a message from the realtor saying they want to show the house in the morning... and you've had extra people and dogs in the house in the last 24 hours or so. Yikes!

So scurry I did.... from room to room, picking up, washing, vacuuming, straightening... and then running back to the last room I was in to do something I'd urgently remembered before I forgot again. Like, darn it, I still have to wash the windows off from all the dog slobber. And now I have to get the dirt out from under my nails from pulling weeds in the dark. That was fun!

So I sit here icing my shoulder, worrying about whether or not the house will sell... whether or not selling is a good thing, how much should I negotiate? How long will I be able to stay? What time do I need to get up for breakfast in the morning so I can get my run and a shower in before I go to my first meeting and then have to leave the house with the dog? Where am I going to go with the dog for an hour? Dog park is out cause he can't play yet - poor baby.

And yes, I'm borrowing trouble, worrying about things that haven't happened. I try, lord knows I try, but it's in my DNA. Hard wired right in there to worry about tomorrow.

In the meantime, my shoulder is getting very cold. After about 5 minutes in the pool, I had completely undone all the work the massage therapist put in this morning. So I'm back to icing. I trend I've come to love more and more lately - shoulder, calf, hip, knee... hmmmm I might just be falling apart. Or maybe I'm just finally getting smart.

Time to see if I can shut my mind off for a few hours and get some rest.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Can I?

Can I really qualify for Boston this year? I've been getting kind of fed up with my training lately. Not the schedule or even the individual workouts, but with my performance. It seems I'd forgotten what coach told me at the beginning of our adventur together almost 7 months ago. I forgot that I wasn't supposed to win all of my workouts. I forgot that the slow steady zone 1 and zone 2 workouts were for a reason and that the produced results. I forgot. So I did what any good athlete would do. I reviewed my previous training logs. I went back in time to check... was I really this slow at this time during my last training base phase? Was it really this tedious and this frustrating? The answer, was a resounding YES! Much to my amazement and relief. Ok, I guess I'm on track. I guess I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. This is good.

Now, can I really qualify for Boston? Earlier this year I tried to cut 26 minutes off my personal best to reach a time goal. I cut off 11. That was a damn fine accomplishment and I was very happy with it, but it wasn't 26. Now I find myself in a similar position at least at this juncture. In order to qualify, I have to cut almost 26 minutes off my new personal best. If I'm doing the math right, that would be about 37 minutes or so total to cut off a marathon PR in one calendar year. A lofty goal. I've set lofty goals before, albeit never in anything athletic, but I'm up for the challenge. I'm going to keep working toward this new goal and see what happens. And heck, maybe I'll run Boston next year, maybe I'll even be in a skirt!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hot and Humid

Got up extra early to eat so I could get out before the heat got too intense. But still - it was pretty hot and humid as I went out for my run. The run actually went pretty much according to plan. Of course, I wish it had been faster, but then there was a lot of time spent in zone 1 today - interspersed with hill repeats and spurts of zone 3. So it was kind of meant to be slow, but hard. And it was. I'm hoping the hills will help on the monster 10 miler in August. It's called the Run thru Hell for a reason afterall. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, I had my initial meeting with the nutritionist this week. That means I've given him lots of information and now he's working on putting together a plan for me to improve performance.... in conjunction with the training plan coach hands out on a weekly basis. Between the two of them I'm hoping they'll whip me into shape. In the meantime, I have no plan so as I was strolling through blog land today I ran across a simple pastry recipe that sounded divine. The dough is chilling in the fridge as I type. I can't wait to put it all together and try it out. Who knows? This might be my last slice of pie (so to speak) for 4 months. I hope it's a good one.

If you want the recipe, go to David's blog. And if you love chocolate, be sure to buy his chocolate lovers cookbook. It's fabulous - but decidedly NOT low fat - so only for base phase or AFTER that big race. Happy baking.... and training.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Peace in the pool

I find peace in the pool... and laughter (completely at myself - which is a good thing)... and a huge learning curve. But I continue to be amazed and pleased at how much I am enjoying the pool. I wish I could say it was relaxing - in some ways it is, but it is such a challenge for my mind that I never get to that zen state - roll, reach, exhale, inhale, elbow up, hips up, change stroke, hips down more, what the heck are my feet doing, turn, push, float, glide.... but I'm enjoying the process and hoping that in the long run it just makes me a better runner.

And tomorrow, it's a nice early day - try to get that run in before it gets so hot and humid that it's completely unbearable - the weather being what it is, "before" might have actually happened yesterday. Tomorrow is a killer run - a hill workout with lots of repeats, zone work, fun stuff. But with running I don't have to think. I know to breathe, I know to put one foot in front of the other. And I know that I've already programmed Mr. Garmin with the various repeats and zones and intervals... so tomorrow no thinking, just doing. I will conquer the hills in the heat in preparation for yet another hilly 10 mile in my not too distant future.


Monday, July 14, 2008

swimming? skiing? hurdles?

I've figured it out - swimming makes you blog :) I had another great time at the pool this evening. Different instructor, but I still learned a lot. I think it helps actually to have more than one point of view when learning something completely foreign. Different things stick in my head from different people and then suddenly (hopefully) they all come together. At least that's what I'm hoping. That's what happened for me when I learned downhill skiing. Wow! In less than an hour, I've compared swimming to skiing and running hurdles... :)

Anyway, I had a glimmer of what its supposed to feel like today, maybe even two glimmers. Just a glance, a feeling, a whisper... call it what you will, but I think I almost had it.... once. So I know it will come down to repetition. So I'll keep chugging along and see if I can conquer this beast. It's so much fun to learn something new. It makes me feel like I used to as a kid, like I can do anything if I put my mind to it, like I can conquer the world, like life is completely what I make of it.

I walked out of the gym smiling today. As I left the locker room, I walked past the raquetball court. (That looks like fun. I haven't tried that in years. I think I could do that.) I walked past the basketball court. (I haven't done that in forever. That's something I've always longed to be good at. I love basketball, but it seems like you get to a certain age - especially as a woman, where that's just not something you do. Is it too late?)

I went to the coffee shop still thinking about these things and the girl asked me what I was doing this evening. Well, now know this... it's 8:30 by this point and I did strength training this morning and just finished an hour in the pool. I'm going home and going to bed! But I told her that I'd just been swimming, taking swim lessons even. What the heck? She's like half my age and probably going to think I'm a total freak. Oh well. Instead she was impressed. Impressed? Really? With me? So I walked out of the coffee shop with my swim head, wearing my latest 10 mile t-shirt thinking you know what? I'm pretty cool. This is all I've ever wanted - to be an athlete. I've always wanted to be an athlete - for as long as I could remember.

But there comes a time as an adult where you can't be an "athlete" per se unless you're getting paid for it. I mean we all have other jobs and responsibilities and things to do and take care of and running and such well, that's just to relieve stress or get away from the family for a few minutes, put off house work, lose weight, etc.... We can't possibly be athletes. Or can we? Can we in our 30's or 40's or 50's or beyond be considered athletes? Is an athlete only a profession? Can it be how a project manager or a housewife or a vice president defines herself? An athlete first and then all that other stuff? Is the other stuff who we are or just another label we've given to ourselves - or worse that someone else has stuck on us?

What does that label mean? Surely it doesn't define who we are. Not completely. For we are so many things. It's so complicated and yet so simple. We are exactly who we want to be. We define ourselves. We decide what face we want to present. And sometimes we present a different face to different audiences. It's situational. I think it has to be in the society we exist in. But I think that's okay. As long as we can reconcile it all - as long as we can figure out a way to be comfortable in our own skins, our own heads.

So I would be excited if someone considered me athletic, maybe not an athlete because society after all has rules and ideas and definitions, but I think I could qualify for athletic in the minds of many. And I want to try so many different sports. I want to see if I can become at least proficient in many, well-rounded if you will. And if I can become better at things like flip turns and free style, endurance running, bicycling, moguls, hiking, maybe rock climbing and tennis.... I will be an athlete. If not in the minds of all, at least in my mind. And that is all that really matters in the end.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

whew, I'm tired

I wanted to practice swimming today and flip turns :) So I got up earlier on a Saturday than I did during the week to make it to the pool during lap swim. It wasn't nearly as fun without my cute little boy toy instructor (hahahaha). But it was good for me to get in the pool. I went to a different Y today. This one had a "real" deep end. (the one I usually go to has a 5' deep end). I hadn't anticipate the deep end and I kind of freaked out when I started to see the bottom drop away from me. This is a problem I've experienced in the past so it wasn't new to me, but I really wanted to get past this fear. So rather than doing a flip turn that first time down (or I should say attempting one!), I just got to the end wall and hung on. I caught my breath and told myself this was no big deal. It wasn't like I needed to touch the bottom. I can swim the length of the pool. I had to talk myself down while taking a few deep breaths.

To my amazement and delight, it actually worked. I got over myself. I swam back to the other end, caught my breath again, then continued. Next time down I actually tried to do a flip turn. It wasn't pretty, but I tried - and I tried, and I tried. I ended up swimming 500 yards today. Not a lot if you know what you're doing. Quite a bit for me. But it was good practice and I good mental exercise, getting myself pulled together.

Then I did the impossible... I changed into my running clothes. I kid you not, even a little damp, changing into a jog bra is the hardest thing known to woman-kind. I swear I just about approached a complete naked stranger and asked her to straighten me out. Picture it, naked in the locker room, the jog bra twisted around my clavicle. Seriously! If someone were going to invent something worth while, it would be a jog bra that you can actually get on and off without having to do naked gymnastics. And I don't want one of those with the industrial size clasps on the back. It's truly not necessary for an industrial size anything in that department!

So the run was a little more difficult than usual cause well, I went for a swim first and it was hot and it was humid... the fartleks were okay, but I couldn't really get my heartrate under control. Then it started to rain. I was so wet went I got back to the gym that the girl behind the counter kind of snarled at me as I handed her my gym card. Well, SORRRRRY but I have no control over the weather... and I'm working out here!

Now it's time for a nap

Thursday, July 10, 2008

And other big decisions

Seems like this week is big decision week - or rather big action week. First off, put the house on the market. That was a little frightening and exciting all at the same time. It was a decision I had to make on my own. Now, I know I'm not some simpering girl who can't do anything by herself, needs a man for validation, etc, etc...

BUT I do miss being married. I do miss having someone to talk to, share stuff with - both the good and the bad. I do miss having someone to bounce the decisions around with and come up with "the best solution for us right now". But alas, I am out here in the wind, so while I did bounce some thoughts off friends and family, received some good advice and some helpful words of caution, in the end, the decision came down to me. What am I willing to deal with? Do? Cope with? Experiment with? How am I prepared to live?

And then I started swim lessons. Why? In part because I've been reading all these blogs, but in truth because I know as I get older I need something that will allow my body to recover and exercise more gently. I need some relief in my knees and my hips and my feet. And if I'm going to swim, then by god, I want to learn how to do it right. So I'm swimming. And absolutely loving it.

Yesterday was another big action day for me and the beginnings of another big decision. Yesterday I called a cemetery. I know, there could be lots of jokes there, but people really do work there and even occassionally answer the phone. And for the most part, they're really nice. Anyway, I called to find out about plots and headstones and options. You see, it's coming up on the five year anniversary of Dennis' death and I still haven't done anything about a headstone or any kind of remembrance. I have wanted to, but I've just never been ready to deal with it, to face it - and to face his family. Plus it's a long distance thing. He should be remembered in California where his family is and where we lived. I now live on the other side of the country. So now, I have to decide what to say.

What do you say in a limited space about a person that was your entire world? What do you say that will literally be carved in stone for all the world to see that will speak to many different people about this one fabulous person that we all had in common? What do you say?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

So maybe I'm not a stud

But I am still an athlete! :) It took one flip turn (attempt) to put me firmly back into reality. I swear there is no more water left in the pool. Flip, flip, flip... I never got my hands in the right place. I did manage to actually push off the wall. I never actually got to the twist part - you know where you actually turn over so you're going in the right direction. I did manage to get water up my nose more than once - or 100 times!

Despite it all, I still had a blast! I guess it could have been the cute young instructor, but I think it's more likely the challenge of learning something new and using different muscles and the giant improvements you can make when you first learn something.

I'm so glad I made the decision to actually take some lessons. I love learning new things. And apparently the instructor I had today is more into form and technique - which is good because these are things I need to work on. He had me working on body roll - in between flip turns of course. It's amazing how much easier it is to breath once you get this roll thing down better. How much fun is that?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Swim lessons

I had so much fun today at the pool. Today was my first day of swim lessons. I've never had any, but I've taught myself the basics along the way. Without any formal training or really knowing what I was doing, I've always been a bit apprehensive in the pool. I have always felt like I could do better. I've always had trouble getting my breathing under control, always struggled with form and strength and endurance and speed.... In short, I've never been friends with the pool.

So I decided to rectify that. I signed up for swim lessons ... beginner swim lessons... and they started today. So I went to the pool with a little trepidation, but a lot of excitement, ready to learn. And I did. I got better breathing. I had to swim with the little barbell thingy and practice breathing for entire lengths of the pool ... it was easier when I got to use my arms. I got some pointers on making my kick stronger. And I got to practice my stroke. Even got a compliment on my stroke. Now I just need to figure out how to get in more air - or not let as much out so I don't feel so winded at the end of a darn length.

I didn't know what to expect today going to swim lessons. I didn't know if I'd be as good as everyone else. I didn't know how many students would be in class or what the instructor was like. But I was pleasantly surprised. The instructor was a nice young girl who knows the basics and was able to give me a few tips that helped immediately. There was only one other person in the class and I have to admit I was a bit more advanced than she was. Now, that's not bragging - cause lord knows, I'm no shark in the pool. But this girl was a true beginner, trying to learn how to float and kick and turn her head to breath. She never left the edge of the pool. We spoke after class and she said this was her sixth lesson. Wow! I felt like a freaking stud! :) (well, not including the part where I tried to do breast stroke - you're kidding right? people actually DO this? in races?)

Overall, it was a nice way to end the day. Because today I acted on a really major life decision. Today I put the house on the market. I don't have a plan beyond that. No plan for what I will do if or when it actually sells. And I AM A PLANNER. Heck, planning is part of my job. It's certainly part of who I am, but I don't have a plan. This just seemed like the right thing to do at this time - so there you have it. I put the house on the market and learned how to swim better today.

Quite a day. I am an athlete :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008


I got up early this morning to get ready for a killer training run. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I couldn't do that cool 15k I'd planned to do because of Willie's recovery. SO in it's place I found a 10 miler - a week earlier - a trail run. Sounded like a good idea at the time and coach said sure, but it's not a race, it's a training run. Okay, no problem.

So I drove about an hour to this beautiful park where I met up with about 100 of my craziest friends. I say crazy because, well, only crazy people pay to do this kind of stuff. It was really a beautiful run, but I'm not used to trails - not like this one, not this long, and steep and, well, difficult. It's been a while since I hiked in the mountains - and that was what this trail run reminded me of. There were steep up hills and down hills. Rocks, sand, roots, trees, blackberry bushes. One of those blackberry bushes had the nerve to actually untie one of my double knotted shoe laces. one of those roots tried to send me sprawling into the mud. (I won that one) The sand up the hill they called T Rex was killer, but not as bad as the roots and loose rocks on the downhills.

I'm still icing my knee (which tried to give out around mile 4), even after sitting in the ice cold creek at the end of the trail. And after all that, I have to add. I had a blast! It was nasty! It was scary in places! It was fun! Now, if I can only walk tomorrow, I'll be all set.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I'm in a mood

Man, got the cranky pants on nice and tight this morning! Don't know why exactly. I do know it's not PMS, so cross that off the list. Maybe it's the fact that I did such a good job cleaning yesterday I couldn't find my water bottle handle-thingy for my run this morning. (Since been found in the place I looked three times!) Maybe it's the fact that I had to move a bunch of furniture this morning in preparation for the carpet cleaning guys. Maybe it's that property tax bill that came in the mail yesterday... or the fact that people were talking over me in the first meeting of the morning... or the number on the scale this morning. In all likelihood, probably that last one. And why do I let those kind of things ruin my day? Cause I know I didn't eat "right" all day yesterday - not completely over the top bad, just not perfect. And I know that I can't eat perfect all the time so am I destined to just weigh more than I want to, never have those washboard abs, always struggle to fit into my jeans?!?!?

And why is it that when you hear or say, "I'm in a mood" it's never a good mood? It's not a precursor to and I feel so good, life is great, the sun is shining, I'm happy to be alive. It's a precursor to doomsday, my life sucks, I'm pissed, people are stupid, why did I get out of bed today. It's a warning to all who approach. Beware, cranky pants on nice and tight. Don't get too close, bark is not necessarily worse than the bite.