Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Better Excuse

I've been completely bummed out all day about my fitness situation, which I will explain further below, and shortly before getting ready to write about it, I was struck with a realization: having a young child to care for and focus on (amid all of the other responsibilities I have such as holding down a full time job, running a business, running a household, wanting to have some semblance of a social life, hobbies, etc., and everything else that goes along with modern family life) is NOT the source of my not being able to do/be everything I want to do/be. It's just a better excuse. In my cloud of feeling sorry for myself thoughts, I went through the only too typical thought process: "if only I had freedom from such taxing responsibilities, I could have ____, or I would be so much more ____, or I would have time for ____." You know what I'm talking about. And it doesn't have to be parenthood that is the excuse- fill in your own blanks. What is keeping you from having the perfect life- is it stressful job with long hours? Horrifying commute? Too many obligations? Not enough money? Health problems? Relationship challenges? I literally was in the process of telling myself that I would have been further along in my fitness if I wasn't so busy being a mom and everything else. But then it dawned on me that it's not like I was uber fabulous before, I've always struggled with living up to my own expectations and aspirations.

My sprint triathlon is 2 weeks from today. Friday evening, I FINALLY broke my spell and gave the swim a try. Back a few years ago, I had trained for an Olympic distance tri, which consists of a mile swim. In practice I used to swim a mile in about an hour, under event adrenaline I did it in about 50 min. SO, I was guessing that a quarter of a mile wouldn't be so tough, even after such time away, and I was expecting that I could swim it in about 15 minutes. Good and bad news there. The bad news is, even though I seem to remember a lot of the proper technique, it is still more tiring than I had hoped. Obviously I should have been swimming regularly much sooner. In addition, I'm wearing a shortie wetsuit, and it makes it ever so slightly tougher to breathe when tired and gasping for air. The good news? It went by fast, I did my quarter mile in only 10 minutes, and I seemed to recover from the gasping fairly quickly. I began to feel a sense of cautious confidence that I really would be able to do this thing without too much agony, despite my training shortcomings!

Saturday was the bike route again. I had my friend Chuck with me again, the weather was warm but with a comfortable breeze (which at times became a frustrating headwind.) I figured hammering out this hilly route repeatedly would make it get progressively easier. However, I've had an on again, off again nagging sore hip for the last several weeks, and combined with the leadlike legs I seem to be left with every Saturday following my earlier in the week pole dance class, the first second on the bike felt like a drag. And although he looked like it was getting easier each time for him, Chuck was not able to drag my ass up that last hill. As they say in the world of marathon training, I "bonked". With no plans to even consider quitting my legs just pulled themselves out of the pedals and I jumped off. After some Gatorade and arguing with myself I got back on, ground out a couple of more strokes (this being the steepest part of the steepest hill), and involuntarily jumped off again. I walked it to the top, and bailed on the last long gradual hill. What a disappointment.

Sunday I went out in the morning before it got hot for a run, to preview the course. One block of just walking and my hip was aching me badly enough not to be able to run at all, and although I walked for about 45 minutes I probably shouldn't have. Feeling dejected, I made a plan for the next two weeks to get to and through the tri: wear no heels (they seem to flare it up), keep workouts spaced out and minimal, do my dance class barefoot this week and not at all next week (make it up later), don't climb the pole, as I think that's what is putting so much pressure/torque on the hip in the first place, and hope like hell that the hip feels better enough at the beginning of the tri to make a go of it. Even though I feel I have failed myself in my plans for training and weight loss to make this race a more pleasant experience, doing it and finishing it will still be rewarding. I just have a better excuse now than I did. Sigh...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Slogging Through; Commencing Diva Level 4!

So, I'm moving through my workouts, plodding along to the big tri in 2.5 weeks. I know I can do it, but it will definitely be tougher than I had planned/hoped. Put in another ride on the bike course on Tuesday eve (yesterday). Did I mention that those hills suck royal ass? I definitely do NOT aspire to achieve the red polka dots, green all the way, baby! My legs started out feeling even more lead-like than the previous time, I guess there's just less gas left in the tank after a workday. Luckily I had my new workout buddy to prevent me from changing the course to a more flat route. Thank you, Chuck! :) I did raise my seat and figured out how to stand to climb, so even though it felt a lot worse than before, I think we went faster. I keep forgetting to time it.

I will beat myself up if I don't get to the pool tomorrow!!!

Despite still eating like a maniac, I've taken back off 2 of the 5 pounds I had lost then regained. Sigh...

My DivaFit class (pole dance) "Level 4" starts tonight. My very favorite workout of the week! :) Sometime in the next couple of weeks we start to learn "inversions", which means hanging upside down from the pole. Surely that is a joke! I look forward immensely to the Level 6 graduation performance opportunity, but I fear I may get stuck at Level 4 for a while. With some extra pounds and weak shoulders and abs, I may not make it through these moves quite yet. We'll see!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Training, Head in a Muddle

Tri training is going reasonably well, although I'm getting to the point of really pushing it by not having given the swimming a go yet. For the inexperienced, the swim seems by far the most intimidating. It definitely was for me the first time (which was an open water, one mile swim.) Why start small, right? But, with my training for that tri focusing heavily on the swim (I went like 3 times a week and took stroke improvement classes), I learned that it is a lot more technique oriented than anything else. Sure, swimming training helps build up the cardio too, but so do running and biking. Someone who is improving their cardio stamina through run and bike, and knows the proper technique to swim most efficiently, should, in theory, be fine on the swim even if a little rusty. HOWEVER, that's assuming I have the body memory to translate what I know the swim is supposed to be like back into an actual stroke, as it's been a few years since I focused on it.

Now, that aside, I have still been running here and there, and this weekend was my best run yet- 40 minutes nonstop, with a big heavy stroller on the flat, went 2.9 miles. That comes out to a snailey 13.8 minutes per mile, but I'd like to see how I do on the same route sans stroller boy. Additionally, I need to try the race route soon! :)

Plodding along on the bike, which is all I can do there. It's a horribly hilly leg grinding course, and all I can do is keep repeating it until I'm more used to it. I did it a second time this weekend with a friend, and let me tell you two things about that. One, it is a lot easier to suffer when you've got a distraction, such as checking up on and/or not wanting to look bad in front of someone else. Two, however, I do not recommend riding 12 miles up hills the morning after having a bunch of wine and 4 hours sleep! Enough said about that. :) I am planning to go pound it out again tonight, hopefully accompanied by the same friend.

Don't quite know what to say about the head muddle. Obviously, someone who chronically overeats and struggles with achievable weight loss goals is not in an ideal place mentally, anyway, but I feel weirder than usual the last week or two. I'm not even sure what I can say about it. I have not had anything significant change in my life, but I feel slightly less happy than I was bursting with a few months ago. I'll mull it over and write about it soon if it clarifies itself.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

One Month 'Til Triathlon

Oops, I wrote this Saturday night, but it took me so long to finish it posted Sunday morning.

Oops, I've been absent from my blog again.

Oops, I've been eating like the famine is coming. And no, not vegetables.

Oops, I think I put those 5 pounds I lost back on. After my monthly friend leaves I'll let you know if it was permanent or not. I'm thinking yes, as the calories ingested usually don't lie.

Alas, I've had so much to say recently, but as I'd compose so many posts in my head I realized they were the same old story, and I was mildly embarrassed. If you've been with me for any length of time, you've already heard me whine about hormones, about food addictions and restrictions, about my desire to achieve healthy greatness not translating into action. So, I blogged in my head for a bit until I had something new to say. I would have liked to make some workout entries, but time got away from me too, out of habit, out of mind.

But now, I am one month from my sprint triathlon. Not my first, but my first in a very long time, and my first that I won't be focused only on finishing, but rather have some modest goals for myself, too. I have been exercising, including running some, but I don't know that I would use the word "training" with a straight face, and with one month left, I took a "moment of truth" step today- I got on the bike.

Before I tell more, a not-so-quick synopsis for those not in the know on my fitness history:

Childhood- ballet, ballet, ballet. Earliest childhood through sophomore year of high school, I was into progressively more serious ballet. I had a teacher who had been pro in an eastern bloc country, and she bred a couple of pros here. So, as one aged and blossomed, one was chastised for not having a ballerina's body. I practiced 3 times a week and was in the performing group, but was always solidly average. Eventually she told me (and a few of my friends) that if we weren't headed down the path of becoming professional then we were wasting her time and ours. So, not having the physique or the desire, rather than $hitting, I got off the pot.

Middle school through early college- horseback riding. I only figured out how cool riding would be when I met another friend who was doing it. Went to a very proper (kinda snotty) riding school, learned a lot, worked the stables to "train" to work there for about two years before figuring out they weren't going to pay me. Never had a shot of having a horse myself because of money and lack of experience by me or anyone in my family. It's not just a pet and a hobby, it's a whole lifestyle. Freshman year in college I was on the riding team, competing at the lowest level, and then the following year budget cuts resulted in sale of the school's team horses. After that only those who could bring their own mounts to school with them could ride.

My only other school activities through college were singing, theatre, and other non-physical pursuits. That's it. No soccer, no nothing.

Post college, I got into playing volleyball, competitively. I played for several years and wasn't half bad. For a time, I went through a phase of running. Got up to regularly doing 3 miles, didn't keep track of my speed. Then, following the debut of women's hockey in the Olympics, a light bulb went off and I took that up. While I was helping my best friend prepare for entering the FBI Academy and coinciding with turning 30 and feeling weird about it, I entered a 10K. (Should have started with 5!) I swindled another friend into doing it with me, and we walked a lot of it. Felt like dying afterward because when I saw the finish line it looked a lot closer than it was and I sorta sprinted a hideously long way. At 32 I really fell off my rock and entered an Olympic distance tri, and really actually trained, but I trained to be able to start and finish, starting from zero. My goal was to survive, and to finish. I accomplished that, finishing very last, walking the entire 10K, with the course closing around me. But it felt absolutely amazing to accomplish that, one of my best moments. A year or two later prior to having a kid I wanted to do another one, so I did a sprint distance, and barely trained at all. I finished, but it wasn't very fun.

That's it. I'm 38 years old, I have a kid now who is almost 4, I've never taken off the baby weight and accompanying post-baby stress weight, which is why I am writing this blog to work through, and my main forms of exercise now are playing hockey and pole dancing. So, naturally when I found out there was a tri IN MY OWN NEIGHBORHOOD I couldn't help myself.

So, back to the bike. Last weekend at the beach, my butt touched a bike for the first time in 5+ years, and I rode it approx. 12 miles to verify I could deal with that distance. I could, but it was a poor test, because it was a big 'ole beach cruiser bike, and I rode it up and down the boardwalk where I was braking and weaving among other bikes and pedestrians the whole time. Took me an eternity, and my butt and legs were horribly sore upon dismounting. But, I did the "brick" thing and jogged a couple of blocks after to get accustomed to how badly that feels. So today, I climbed on my mountain bike which is outfitted with road tires, and rode it the exact 12 mile course of the tri. The run leg, happily, is advertised as "flat and fast." The bike leg, however, is not. For those familiar with this neighborhood, a good portion of it is hilly. They managed to put it downhill for the very longest and steepest hill, but other than that it is a lot of freakin' uphill. I did the whole thing in 51 minutes. Snail city! But, the cool thing was twofold. First, I had run earlier this morning, so my legs were not fresh, as they won't be after the swim, and second, as awful as I felt DURING the ride, after when I got off I didn't feel half bad, like a run wouldn't have killed me.

So, looks like I will be riding those hills a lot over the next month in an attempt to diminish them. Wish me luck!