Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Goals verses Process

The main thing that Triathlon has taught me is - focus on the PROCESS not on the goals/outcomes. Of course, you start with realistic goals and formulate a process that will make it achievable.

Obviously, my long term goal is to get back down to a healthy weight and be active. That's pretty vague. I have dinner reservations to a 3 star restaurant in 6 weeks. I'd like to fit in one of the dressy outfits that I already own. So, I'm going to set a mini-goal to be down by 5 pounds and to be up to 8 hours of training per week by then. Although 6 weeks is a bit long, it is also roughly the same amount of time that habits begin to happen.

Now I need to develop the process by which that will happen. What am I going to do to make this happen? This is what I see as a full process. Probably too much to bite off at the beginning.
  • Write weekly menus that support my calorie and fuel goals. This means develop plans that reduce simple carbs and processed meats while increasing vegetables especially paired with healthy protein. 
      • However, I will continue to include some special treats to keep life happy. I've found that I have felt deprived in the past... and that totally sucks.
  • Write weekly workout plans that support my activity goals. This needs to be a balanced mix of swim, bike, run, and strength. Easy days mixed in with high intensity workouts.
  • Make at least 8000 steps per day. 
  • Get at least 7 1/2 hours of sleep a night.
  • Use MFP, Strava, and Fitbit to motivate me on my journey.
  • Find motivational quotes while eating lunch -- I have found that I struggle more in the afternoon than any other time of the day. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Coming Back to Life - I think...

I expected to need some time to decompress once I quit the JOB. I didn't expect it to take so long. I didn't fully understand the depths of soul sucking that had occurred over the previous 24 months. Not only was I spiritually depleted, I was physically depleted. I had physical manifestations of stress! My whole body ached. I expected to be back to my old self with in a month of quitting... Nope.

Over and over, I said I wanted to lose weight and get back to training. Over and over, I binged on TV and over ate. I joined some MFP challenges only to find them lackluster, non-motivating, and just a drag. The reality is, right now, I want to eat and drink what I like (mmm.... donuts). I'm so out of shape, it's VERY uncomfortable to workout (not to mention that I'm soooo slow).  So, why do it?
Why? Because, I want to be active and healthy now and when I'm 86. I want to be able to run my dogs on an agility course without sucking major wind. I want to have a clear mind with positive thoughts. I want to be out on my bike enjoying the scenery. 

Some how, I need to find the motivation to get myself out of bed in the morning and getting going early. I need to find the strength to keep my goals in mind all through the day and not over reward for workouts. Perhaps, I listen to Yoda (the whole "There is no try..." thing). Perhaps, I commit to just one thing say, Log everything in MFP for the next 3 weeks.

I've been here before. I know getting started and staying started is like catching teeth in gears. Keep trying and eventually, a tooth grabs. So, I'm starting again today.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Standing Upright

As promised, I've been looking into what is going on with my knees. I met with the ART/Chiropractor/bunch of other titles guy. He did a very quick assessment and said my ankles have no flexibility and my core is weak. I pretty much knew that. However, he recommended that I work with a woman that was combining massage and personal training.

Official Assessment

Of course, Lisbeth wanted to do her own assessment. I certainly got my money's worth. She had me like this.
I barely was able to get my foot away from the wall. Not good.

She had me do the opposite arm exercise:

This I actually did well. She had me spread my position out a bit more and I was still ok.

There were several other positions and movements she had me do. She made copious notes as she watched me. After about 45 minutes, the agreed that the lack of ankle flexibility and core strength were significantly impacting my running form which was probably leading to the knee pain and lock up. She'd write up a plan and we'd start the following week.

Training w/ Massage on the side.

The training sessions are sort of like the assessment or any of the strength workouts coach gives me. The difference is Lisbeth uses her eagle eyes to watch me do the exercises correctly. She watches for hips dropping, heels not flat on the floor, and a million other things that people with inflexible ankles and weak core do. In addition, if something is tight, Lisbeth will massage it into submission - OUCH!!!!!

 Five weeks later

In addition to meeting with her once a week, I also do the workouts twice more. In the five weeks that I've been meeting with her, my knee has stopped complaining. I've added a couple of short runs back to my routine. There's nothing major EXCEPT, I'm noticing differences in my posture when standing and walking. My core is getting stronger so I'm able to keep myself upright. I never realized this was happening.

There is a lot more work to do. But, I'm doing the workouts correctly now and I think it is showing.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tri Santa Cruz Sprint Aquabike

Last weekend, I raced Tri Santa Cruz Sprint Aquabike. This is a beach start 750 meter ocean swim, 1/4 mile run to T1, 2 loops of ~6 miles biking all right along the coast ...and, I mean along the coast.

Because parking is limited, Grumpy and I left really early only to find, we could have come 20 minutes later and still been fine. Transition spots were by race number so, we had LOTS of time to sit around. 

Santa Cruz Pier

I found my spot, set up, practiced T1 several times. I made sure I knew where to come in and go out.

It was still too early to warm up. The lifeguards were not there nor were the buoys in place. So we waited. Grumpy was happy to point out the water quality was poor.

This beach is listed as the dirtiest in California. The E.Coli was listed as "Unhealthy" on the website.
Eventually, every one came down to the water for the athlete briefing and finally the Olympic distance racers waves started to go. The interesting thing about this race, they were trying pace seeding. The Olympic and the Sprint each had three waves - fast, medium, slow. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this or not.

The plan was to go in the medium group. However, I decided to go with the last (aka slow) group at the last minute. 

Only a little swell for my wave!!
I was finally off! I have NO idea what I tripped on but, I fell about 2 strides too soon. I started swimming and didn't fall too far behind the group. Soon the group became a long line of swimmers. The Olympic swimmers joined us on their second loop but, for the most part not many passed me. I made the right at the first buoy and that's when I noticed the second buoy seemed out too far. It wasn't until I'd turned at the second buoy that the course started feeling LONG.

Turns out that the lifeguards had placed the second buoy at the wrong point. Instead of swimming 750 meters, we swam 900. I had hoped to come in at 17:30 but, came in at 21:06. A little slower pace than I planned but, I felt the effort was right. When I had planned 17:30, I hadn't accounted for it being the ocean. There was a little bit of chop but, only out between buoy 1 and 2.

From the beach, you run up a carpeted boat ramp where you're able to throw on shoes if you want. As I'm running up the ramp, I can't get either arm out of my wetsuit. I'm stuck. There's a whole group of spectators and I'm looking like an ass. I ended up walking so I could give an extra tug to get it off. I slipped my shoes on and ran to T1. Later, Grumpy says "You were slow running from the beach to T1". Really??? I just swam an extra 150 meters. Thanks hon.

I guess I only imagined everyone was looking at me.
T1 went flawlessly. Off with the shoes and wetsuit, bike shoes on, quick wipe of my face, sun glasses, helmet (and clip it), bike off the rack and out. Once on the bike, it's an IMMEDIATE hill out of T1. Not bad but, I not only remembered to put my bike in a low gear, I actually got it in the low gear. Yeah me!
Hill is back behind me and around the corner

The plan called for building to 90% FTP the first 5 minutes. Um... my Garmin wasn't showing me power. My heart was pounding in my chest and I couldn't get enough air. I knew that my breathing and heart rate would calm down so I didn't want to let up too much. I ended up switching my Garmin from Triathlon mode to bike mode and picked it up from there.

Not much to say about the bike. With the Olympic racers doing 4 loops and the Sprint racers doing 2, it was crowded. Many people just sort of ride like it's a day out in the neighborhood. There were also many sharp turns which made it even more difficult. Going from FTP to coast to FTP again is very draining.
Very happy to be done.
Although my time wasn't what I'd hoped, ALL the racers out there faced the same issues as I did. I managed to come in 2nd overall and 1st place woman.

It's been a very good season for me. As I look back, I see a lot of progress - physically and mentally. I'm glad I significantly reduced my racing distance as it turns out Grumpy's broken ankle really had an impact on my available time.

I also found that I missed running. Over the next few months, I hope to find out why I've had issues with my knee, and learn what I need to change in order to get back to it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 California Sprint AquaBike

So, it's been about a month since I did the California Sprint AquaBike. It's a 1/2 mile swim at Shadow Cliffs quarry lake followed by a ~9 mile bike ride around the park. This is where I did my very first triathlon - Tri For Fun.

The park is about 45 minutes NE from my house and although my wave was scheduled to be the last to take off (7:42am), entering the park backs up on race day. So, Grumpy and I headed out early.

It was still dark when we arrived. Grumpy was still in a walking boot and on crutches so he headed off to find a place to sit. I pumped my tires and gathered my gear. My club, Silicon Valley Triathlon, had a number of members racing so, we had a very nice choice of racks. I set up. Chatted with a few members and headed off to find Grumps.

Shadow Cliffs

Again, I was surprisingly calm before this race. Instructions for a sprint AquaBike are pretty simple - GO HARD! 

As the Olympic waves were going off, I got in to warm up. Just wasn't feeling it. I brought up my heart rate a few times and eventually, it was time for my wave to get to the start line. It was a deep water start. We tread water for a bit and suddenly the announcer said he was going to over to T1. WHAT?? WAIT??? WE'RE STILL OUT HERE!!! They got him back but, we were about 3 minutes past our start. 

The horn went off. Every one surged hard and, I held on to the feet for may be 30 yards. Then, it was me and the guy next to me that tried to push me off course. I finally just stopped, let him go by, and then picked it up again – then, dodged a woman going perpendicular to me. But, after the first buoy, it was fine. It felt long but, I also felt like I was putting in the right effort. My breathing was heavy but, I could make the whole distance at that pace. In hindsight, I probably could have/should have gone a smidgeon harder. Trying to dial in how HARD I can actually go for 1/2 - 3/4 mile.

No problems in T1. Between being the last of ALL the waves and the extra 3 minutes delayed start, I was more surprised to see people still coming in than to see lots of the bikes gone. Swim stuff off. Bike stuff on. 

I got on the bike and immediately realized I hadn't put the bike in the easiest gear. The bike ride takes you out of the park which means climbing a short, but steep hill. I slammed the gears and dropped my chain 4 bike lengths from the mount line. In front of all the spectators. UGH! Quick fix and I was off. 

The bike went better than expected. They had taken over one of the lanes on 2 of the 4 roads where I've had passing the back of the pack people in past races. I pretty much road in the middle of the available space passing every one. It wasn't until the sprint rejoined the Olympic race that any one passed me. The guys whooshed past me. A couple minutes later the women came by... just not a whoosey. 

I pretty much didn't worry about who was out there. Just tried to focus on not letting up. I didn't look at distance. I didn't look at watts. I didn't look at heart rate. I know what this should feel like. Do it.

The end of the course leads back down the hill into the park. Adding to all the slow riders, the race crew were yelling setup changes to each other. I lost a little time dismounting due to the confusion but, I was done. As I racked my bike, I realized I was shaking and thought I might hurl. Yep. I'd GONE HARD!

I had no idea where my placement was. I knew I was happy with my performance. For the first time EVER, I averaged 20mph in a race. This isn't all due to improved fitness. It is also due to the work that I'm doing on my mental game. It is also due to me having more racing experience. It's coming together. 
Aquabike race ends going into T2. They ask you to cross the finish line to collect your medal. I act the part.
I met up with Grumpy and we waited to see the results. This time, I made sure to really READ the preliminary list so there would be no surprises. Turns out, it was pretty easy to figure out since my name was the first... of both women AND men! 

Sucks being short

I took the overall win of the sprint aquabike!

Monday, May 25, 2015

2015 Morgan Hill Sprint Aquabike

Between waiting for pictures and a very busy work week, I'm behind getting this race report out.

A week ago, I did my second race of the season. I LOVE that USA Productions has fully embraced AquaBike and offered it for their Morgan Hill Sprint this year. The hills around the Morgan Hill reservoirs are beautiful whether green in the winter or yellow in the summer. I love racing this area any time.

I've been focusing on a big season goal and it's been a great boost in motivation. Whether the workouts are dull or super hard, I think of my goal. It's going to take focus and consistency to get this done. And then, suddenly I'm out of the pool for two weeks because of an inner and outer ear infection. UGH! Life happens. But, it happens for all of us doesn't it.

Uvas Reservoir August 2014

Normally, the water at Uvas comes up to the end of the cement ramp. However last year, fourth year of drought, caused this race to be held at Oyster Bay (40 miles north in the San Francisco bay). The SF bay area only got 3-4 actual rain storms this winter so, I had fully expected to have to run this race in the back up location we used last year. Surprise! Those few storms had enough in them to bring the water up to 70% full.

The race is a 3/4 mile swim and a 16 mile loop around both Uvas and Chesbro reservoirs over a two-lane rural road of rolling and sometimes very steep hills. I know each uphill, downhill, turn, pot-hole, and gravel pit. And the weather was forecast to below 60's and overcast - can you say perfect?

The day before the race, coach had me do a short swim. It's supposed to be an open water swim at the site but, they don't allow swimming in these reservoirs normally so, I was at the pool. The thing I wanted to figure out is how much and how hard do I need to warm up. Once, I had that dialed in, I knew this race like I'd already done it.

I'm not sure why but, I was very relaxed again. I knew what I needed to do and when to do it. Grumpy is still hobbling around so, he wasn't able to go with me again. But, that allowed me to actually chat with a few other racers. I got to transition early and decided not to rack with my tri-club in preference to a rack closer to bike out. Learning from the grave mistake I made at the Half Moon Bay race, I rehearsed T1 repeatedly.

I made sure I was in the water in plenty of time to warm up per my new knowledge. The waves went off every 4 minutes and my wave was the last to go off. When the horn went off, I went strong and hard. I could see a few people to my right fall behind and as I reached the first turn buoy, I started reaching the straggling yellow caps (wave 4 minutes before me).  Even more surprising, before I reached the second turn buoy, I passed a few more yellow caps and a red cap (8 minutes before me). I couldn't see where the rest of my wave was. I knew I was swimming strong, straight, and clean. As I rounded the final turn buoy, it got crowded. I swam over yellow caps, red caps, and even a silver cap (12 minutes ahead of me!). I looked at the official time and my jaw dropped. I had a very decent swim.

Look how far up the water is!!!
My swim goal was sub 28:00 and I kicked it. More importantly, I'm zeroing on what effort to put into the swim. I had more in my tank.

As I had rehearsed, I was in an out of transition quickly and on the bike fairly smoothly. My goal for T1 was to have the fastest transition of all AquaBikes. NAILED it.

The bike course starts fairly flat allowing my heart rate to drop a little. Being in the last wave, I passed numerous people on the first climb. The power wasn't showing on my Garmin so, I was going by feel. This is a Sprint so, pretty much go hard for an hour. The downhill and turn at the bottom was fairly free of other riders. I could go as fast and wide as I needed. Once onto the flat, I started passing people again. I began to play leap frog with a couple of guys and realized I wasn't focusing enough. I hit the steep uphill and lost the guys. A woman passed me and when I got to the top, I saw her off in the distance. I decided I was going to catch her and I kept the pressure on the peddles. I caught her on the final up hill and passed her quickly. Many people were struggling here. I had no idea who was in my division and who wasn't.

I pressed hard to the dismount line being VERY careful not to go over. I had loosened my shoes but, the sweat kept them on tight. My goal on the bike was sub 58:00. Again, smashed that!

NOTE: If I'm not wearing socks, I need to use powder.

Since my race was over as soon as I hit T2, I took my time getting over to the finish line. I had no idea what my time was. I decided to get out of the wet clothes and find some food.

After a long wait, they posted the early results. Every one gathered round the board but, I managed to squish in and I saw my name was listed 3rd. Ok. I'll stick around for awards then.

After another long wait, they started awards. They decided to start with the oldest first which was kind of fun. It was a joy to give a standing ovation to Harriet Anderson for taking her division of F80-84. But, after 45 minutes of waiting, I was beyond ready to go. Finally, women AquaBike division was announced.

Third place: Rosie Thompson

... oops, I must have read the list wrong. That's ok. I worked hard and there was some competition out there today. I'll just keep working harder. More consistently. I'll get there.

Second place: Sara Cutrignelli

... yeah.... I wonder what their times were.

First place: Me

????? What????? OMG!
USA Productions provided all of the race photos for free!

I had read the sheet wrong. I was 3rd PERSON in but, 1st WOMAN in. Completely in shock.

Coach has been giving me some very challenging workouts and I'm eating them up. I plan to keep going.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Shouting down the voice

Just a short note on a training break through I had today.

Time and time again, when the going gets tough in a race, I'd give up. At that moment, I just don't care enough to fight for it. The theme of this year is to "Do it with confidence" and to that aim, I've been working on my mental toughness and my grit bucket.

I've done a lot of reading since the beginning of the year (which I talked about here). I've continued with:

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain which helped me to sort out some non-athletic ideas. Interestingly, it led me to be extremely relaxed before my last race. Normally, I'd have Grumpy to shield me from the noise and commotion but, he couldn't be there. And yet, I was fine.
  • Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To by Sian Beilock which discussed studies that showed writing about what's important to you and your values can improve your performance in clutch situations. 
I've come to believe that doing this reading alone has helped me has helped me improve my mental stamina.

This week, I had several hard bike workouts. Each built on the previous workout's tired legs. Today, it was 3 repetitions of 10 minutes each of hard peddling. I put a movie into the DVD player not really thinking too much about WHAT the movie was.

After the first 10 minutes, I doubted I could do two more.

As the second repetition began, the voice in my head was already starting to come up with an excuse as to why I couldn't do a third:

"Dear Coach - My legs were tired."
"Dear Coach - This was just too hard for me."
 To start the third repetition, I bargained with my voice. We'll do it 2 minutes at a time. Just go for the next 2 minutes like you're supposed to. Five minutes in, the voice figured out my little scream. Suddenly, I latched on the montra from the movie that was on (Unbroken).

If I can take it; I can make it.

That was it... My head was filled with it. Nothing else entered for the next 5 minutes.  Suddenly, it was over and I was spinning easily. I have NEVER done this before. I've never pushed this far past where my body wanted to quit so badly. I wonder if I can transfer this mental strength to running.