Fish

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm tired.

People say "I'm tired" all the time.  What good does that do?

When someone tells me this I instantly want to ask them (in an acusatory, asshole-esque way) "WHY?".  Almost every reason someone can come up with for being tired is self-imposed.  And the truth of the matter is that even when sleep is a priority, everything we do has an impact on when we feel tired.

I am writing this today because today I feel really tired.  I can't blame sleep, because I sleep at least 7 hours a night, but what I do notice is that my body is just beat.  For me, being tired is much more than just feeling like I need to take a nap, it is my entire body telling me to stop.

Endurance sports require - you got it - endurance.  The ability to keep going when the body wants to give up.  But how much is too much?  This is probably the thing my mom hassles me about the most.  At some point, you just have to give it a rest.  And I don't mean taking a rest day, or even two.  I mean a solid couple weeks of backing off and letting your body recharge.

I am so ready for a break.

But where I live, in Boulder, working out twice a day is normal.  Training for marathons is normal.  Training for 100 mile races, dare I say, is somewhat common.  People are outside riding their bikes, running, swimming and doing anything else you can imagine at all times during the day.  It seems like 90% of the population here are professional athletes.  Like, people get PAID to work out all day.  So these are the people who I expect to have the endurance and the energy to keep up the strenuous pace.  And then there are the rest of us, mere mortals who have to go to work every day.  I am just a pedestrian in the land of chiseled athletes. I am not the person that is going to win.  I can't even consider smelling the podium.  I am just a regular person doing the best I can.  

And sometimes doing the best I can makes me tired.  And is it worth it?  I don't know.  I feel different training for my upcoming marathon.  Is it weird to say that I feel "seasoned"?  I mean, at this point, I know I can do it.  I can get through the miles.  But the difference is, this time I feel like I am doing it quietly.  I don't feel like I need to tell people what I am doing, or that I need to look up all sorts of research about people's experiences.  This time I have my own experience to work from.  

Is that confidence?  I don't know, I still feel pretty damn nervous.  And that 10k swim, nervous for that too.

To be perfectly honest, I am most nervous about my XTERRA triathlon on Saturday.  This is what the course looks like:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tpfompmb8LY

I might get last.

In other news:
We have a roof on our house!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thoughts

There are a lot of great things to be said about training solo.  Team sports have never been for me.  I like knowing that success in a race is determined by me.  Nobody else can get out there and put in the time and effort to train.  I am solely responsible for my own performance.  Unlike a team where everyone wearing that jersey wins or loses regardless of whether they play the whole game or ride the bench.

For the most part, I like having all the time to think.  And between swimming and running, I have a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts.  I would say my favorite time of the week is Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Reservoir.  The swim itself is organized through my team, a course is set up and there is a designated timeframe for the "workout", but it is not coached and there is limited interaction with others.  Essentially, it is like a track workout with no clock, no coach and no rules.  Stepping into the water, putting my goggles on and starting to swim, feeling the shock of the cool water and the lack of constraints makes me feel alive.  It is truly my happy place.  As I make my way around the course I pass people who look like they are struggling, I get passed by triathletes wearing wetsuits and paddles, working so hard to go as fast as they can and I always smile because I know that I am the happiest person in the water.  

A lot of people hate to swim because they think it is boring.  Let me tell you, I understand how this feeling happens.  Nobody who loves to cycle would ever say that riding their bike is boring.  When really, what is more boring than pushing pedals around and around, hurting your crotch and staring at the shoulder of a road for hours on end?  This is why you usually see bikers in packs of two or three or 100.  They need each other to keep going because what they are doing can be boring and lonely.  Anyone who uses the excuse of swimming being boring as a reason not to swim is not willing to put in the time and effort to build their strength enough to appreciate the freedom that comes with not talking, and just being a fish.  One of the weirdest things you can do in the water while you are swimming is to listen.  Listen to what is happening around you.  At the surface of the water you will actually hear your stroke.  You can hear the sloshing, you can hear white noise from outside of the pool, you can hear everything.  And as easy as it is to find that noise, you can block it out and hear absolutely nothing.  You can get lost in a song, a thought, a story or anything else.  I cringe watching people click on and click off their watches at the "start line" of the course.  Way to suck the joy out of everything.

Up until this point I feel as though I have written this like the Oracle that somehow knows a secret other people don't....and that is not the case.  I find myself struggling with running the same way others complain about struggling with swimming.  I never ever allow myself to run at a pace that allows me to get lost in my thoughts at all.  I am the person starting and stopping the watch.  I am the one who is aware of every step, every muscle movement.  I think the reason is that I am not a good enough running to comfortably run at a pace I feel is "acceptable".  With all the apps available now to track mileage and time I am embarassed at what my pace would be if I were truly just to go out and run and enjoy it.  Right now I run anywhere from 9-9:45 min/miles with, what I would consider, to be a hard effort on my part depending on the heat and humidity.  If I look back on the runs I have truly considered to be a pleasure cruising speed that I have done with some of my other friends I will check the pace and see somewhere around 11 min/miles.  So why is that something I consider to be a great job for them, but not good enough for me?  

Is it because I know I am capable of better?  Probably.  Or do I need to take my own advice and let myself zone out and enjoy it?  I think I need to explore the pacing thing a bit more and let myself get lost in running.  Just this morning as I was swimming I was thinking about how much I have grown to like running, how it has shown me that I can continue to start new things.  There is a life post-competitive swimming that includes improvement in other sports.

I have a huge run this weekend.  I am guessing it will be more challenging than the actual marathon, which is one month from today.  Saturday I am going to cover 20 miles with almost 5000 ft of gain.  I will not be able to run the whole thing, there is a 14% grade for the first few miles.  This is not an excuse, that is just reality.  But the bottom line is that I don't want to care about time.  In fact, I am not going to look at my pace the entire time because IT DOESN'T MATTER.  Trails are not a track.  Every one is different, a mile is a mile and some are more challening than others.  All I can do is try, all I can do is get through it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Registered.

I am doing it.

I registered today and it is for real.

If anybody wants a way to get $5 off their registration just register under "Team Faszlama".  WTF is that you may ask?  Well, my Hungarian friend, Viki, discovered the bunchie originated in her homeland and that is what it is named in Hungarian.  So I am going with it because the bunchie is my power animal.

The next few weeks and weekends are going to be busy and exhausting.  But, I am looking forward to the challenges ahead.  I have been sticking with my running plan and my mileage has been (weekly) 21, 30, 37, and this week will be 40.  I have a twenty miler this weekend, and I am actually kind of excited because the route I mapped is going to take me a few places I have never been before.  And the fact that I end up at home is a bonus.  This week will be my peak, and though my mileage is lower than before, frankly, my confidence level seems higher.  There is something to be said about knowing I CAN do this.  I did my 16 mile run yesterday and felt pretty good.  I had two running buddies (thank you Lissy and Patrick) and by the end I was tired, but not paralyzed.  And today I feel fine, so I am taking it as a good sign for my upcoming week.  And today is rest day!

As far as swimming goes, that has also been going well.  I am averaging about 17,500 meters a week.  And even though that puts me way way ahead of what I should be doing for my upcoming 10k swim I still am nervous.

But on top of all of that, the race I have coming up that I am most nervous about is the XTERRA triathlon on July 26.  We signed up a long, long time ago for this race because we knew it would sell out.  I had big plans about doing the marathon and then spending the summer mountain biking in preparation for this race, but we just haven't gotten out there.  Not really at all.  In fact, I have been on my bike once this summer.  And now I am going to do a race on it.  It isn't a long race, 12 mile mountain bike, but that is still 12 miles on a mountain bike on a course that is on private property.  And that is relevant because nobody has ever ridden the course, there is no map with any relevance and no race report to look over.  It is going into a race totally blind.  And that scares the shit out of me.  It isn't like training for a swim race here and doing it somewhere else, water is water, but I am nervous about the technicality of the course and my ability to keep my cool while getting passed over and over again.  I am a great swimmer, but still a beginner biker, so I am sure that all the people that I stay ahead of on the swim will be right up my ass on the bike.  It is a race, so I don't expect people to ask nicely to pass me either.
If I can get through those 12 miles in one piece, without crying, I will be pleased.  I am hoping to see Patrick on the podium for that race, I know he can do it.  He is an excellent mountain biker and all around athlete.

So, here is the schedule:
July 20 - BAM Bare Bones 2 mile
July 26 - XTERRA Aspen
August 10 - Horsetooth 10k swim
August 17 - Revel Denver Marathon

And then....
My season ends!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

HOT running

Does anyone else struggle as badly as I do running in the heat?  It is seriously demoralizing.

I have been keeping up with my running, but my pace and effort level are not where I am used to seeing them.  It is not like I am going to the fucking Olympics here, but it has been tough to maintain my usual 9:15-9:20 pace as the temperature is starting to hover around 90.  My run yesterday, I was pretty confident I was running sub 9 minute miles based on effort and I checked afterward and I was hovering around an avg of 9:30 for the whole thing.  Sad face.

I know I should cut myself some slack and let my body slow down and find its rhythm in the warmer months, but it is really messing with my head to see a slower pace and wonder if I am improving or not.  I am already slow, so the thought of running even slower is tough for a turtle like me.

It seems to be a pretty common issue for pace to slow down and general fatigue to set in earlier into a run during the warmer months.  The interesting thing about running in Colorado is that we don't have the humidity issue that a lot of other areas seem to have.  But what I question is whether or not that is good thing or a bad thing.

I have always found that when I run in a more humid place I just feel like the sweat never dries, and in Colorado you can only be "wet" for a few minutes before all the moisture evaporates.  This is great for arms and legs, but other areas are not immune to sweat buildup, and for me, it is under my boobs.

A huge negative to running in the dry weather is the necessity of water.  I find that if I plan on trotting for more than 6 miles I need to carry my hydration pack and I always, ALWAYS finish the entire thing, which is 70 ounces.

So I don't know which is worse, but I am feeling a little bit down about my general ability and performance in the heat.  I think what I might try doing is just not looking at the watch and focusing on getting the miles in.  On race day, which is August 17, I will be running early in the morning so I am hoping for cooler temps.  But in Colorado you never know if it is going to snow or burn to the ground.

I am taking today off and tomorrow I have 6 planned, then I can choose one rest day over the three day weekend, one day I need to run 12, and one day run 6.....

I might die.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Two Mile BAM Swim



I'm not dead.  Not yet at least.  I just haven't done anything noteworthy lately.

Two weeks ago I did an open water swim race that was a benefit for my swim team.  I managed 54 minutes for the two mile, non-wetsuit division.  I was the fourth female finisher.  Not bad, not great, it just was.  It was in my "home pool", which in the case is the Boulder Reservoir.  The only thing that I don't like about open water swimming is the mass start.  This race had three distances:  2 mile, 1 mile and half mile.  All categories had wetsuit and non-wetsuit divisions.

As I walked down to the "beach" of the Rez I noticed the winds had picked up and there were actually white caps on the water.  The excitement level got higher as I entered the water with 150 triathletes in wetsuits around me.  I only saw a couple other people without wetsuits.

For those of you reading who don't know what wetsuits do for you, I will explain that it is much more than just keeping the swimmer warm.  Triathletes prefer wetsuits because the suits themselves are buoyant.  It requires much less energy and not as great swimmers can "fake it" through a swim race much more easily than without a wetsuit.

I have my opinions about wetsuits, but I know what you're all thinking:

So before I knew it the race started and I was in the middle of a washing machine cycle.  I had humans all around me and limbs hitting me.  But I know the key to a good race start and that is to let the triathletes sprint for the first 100 meters, then they die, then I make my move.  I start to pick off the people around me and finally get to a point where I am getting a good rhythm.  I pass some people who started off so fast and are starting to struggle so soon into the race I start to think....

Because it is the Rez and it's full of God knows what.  I actually LOL'd at that meme when I found it.  Ahhh, the little things.

By the end I had a couple girls who I knew in my reach but I couldn't get a good line and I didn't manage to overtake them at the end.  But the good news is that I have another opportunity on July 20.

In other news, I have been running, I am sticking to my training plan for another full marathon on August 18, but still haven't signed up.  I flip flop about it because some of my runs are so bad due to the heat that I wonder if I can do this.

Yesterday the temperature was something around 97 degrees (according to my phone) when I set out to run.  Needless to say, my 6 mile run turned into a 5 mile run with a bunch of walk breaks and I had to stop unexpectedly to fill up my water bottle.  I question everything during those runs.

green animated GIF

Monday, June 9, 2014

Insanity at its purest level

I don't know if it is what people call the "post marathon blues" or what, but for some reason I feel the need to do another one.  Is this insane? 
 
I started to think about possibly trying to do another one in a few months, so I looked online at the Hal Higdon plans to figure out how I would fit in because the race I have chosen is only 12 weeks away.  And the plan I found is actually called "back to back" marathons.  And the first thing I saw on the page is the bolded words "insanity at its purest level".  Honestly, the plan doesn't look nearly as bad as my 16 week schedule that I did before.  The mileage is about the same, but the runs are split up differently.  The weekend runs are longer and the weekday runs aren't more than 6 miles, which I can do during my lunch break at work.  Also, I get an extra rest day, which is something I figured out that I needed a little too late during my last training plan.

But before I cave to my lack of direction, I want to make sure this is something I really want to do.  I don't want to sign up for a race just to fit in with the culture in Boulder.  In Boulder, everyone is training for something.  ALL.  THE.  TIME.  And it isn't usually a 5k.  It is a marathon, an ultra marathon, an Ironman, or anything else that takes up too much time and money.

So here is what I decided to do.  I am going to start the training plan, it is actually an 8 week plan and I am 10 weeks out, so I am going to continue running when I want to over the next two weeks and not pushing myself too hard.  I am going to start and then see how I feel once July 15 rolls around.  That is when the price increase happens for the race I selected.  I don't want to talk about the specific race yet because I don't want it to be "real" until I am ready.

Make sense?

Swimming this morning: (50 meter pool)
200 Free
250 Free 
50 kick/swim by 25
200 Free
50 kick/swim by 25
150 Free
50 kick/swim by 25
100 Free
50 kick/swim by 25
50 Free
50 kick/swim by 25

6x50 drill/swim

3x
3x100 descend
6x50 Fast

4x50 kick fast
3500 meters

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Recovery

I am not going to pretend like I know how to recover from a marathon, because I don't.  I can tell you what I've done this week to try and help repair my body.

Sunday afternoon I was sort of like a freight train, it was rough getting going, but once I got moving I was okay.  Sadly, we had to sit on an airplane for two hours to go home so I was prepared to feel pretty rusty but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.  Even though there is no scientific proof of these being helpful, I wore my compression socks on the plane.  If anything, they felt good.

When we got home it was 11PM and we had been up since 3AM, it was time to call it a night and I slept really really well.  It was hard to turn over or really move at all during the night.  Patrick was really struggling, I could actually hear him moaning in his sleep.  The next day we woke up around 8:30AM and I was feeling much better than I thought I would.  I could definitely tell that I had done something awful to myself the day before, but I was moving.  Patrick was paralyzed.
I got up and went and got a 90 minute massage, something I had been looking forward to for three months.  It was so great and I was surprised to feel areas of soreness I didn't expect, like my upper back.  Afterwards I felt like a new woman.  I have no idea of this helps speed up recovery, but it was a treat.

On Tuesday I went back to swimming.  I know, one day off isn't a lot.  But honestly, it had been 10 days since my last swim and the muscle groups are different so I knew the longer I waited to get back in the water the more out of shape I was going to get for swimming and then I would be sore and out of shape.  I actually had a great workout, I was fast and the only soreness I felt was in my quads during flipturns.

Wednesday I swam and didn't feel as great as Tuesday, but I had a decent practice.  Thursday I had planned on going to the Rez for an open water swim but got my period and cramps forced me to want to stay in bed, so I went with it.  But Thursday night I went out for a little trot to see how the legs were feeling.

Let me tell you about this run in one word:  terrible.  I started to trot along and I knew I was moving pretty slow, but I didn't anticipate how long each mile would feel.  I think in my mind after running 26.2 miles I figured a 3 mile run would feel short.  It didn't.  I did three miles at 10 min/mile pace and felt like a ton of bricks so I deduced that I need to take more time off from running.

Then yesterday I swam again and felt pretty good, so as far as recovery goes my advice is to.....not run.