Monday, December 31, 2012

Goals - Schmoals

Acheivements first:
I'm not the best log keeper but according to Training Peaks in 2012 I:

1701 miles on the bike.
111,461 yds in the pool.
577.98 miles on my running shoes.

Seems like a lot to me!

Last year my goals were:
  • get up to the 70.3 distance and then get faster at that distance. Did that.
  • renew my passport and travel where it was needed. Did that.
  • Give blood. Did that once.
  • be more organized and less bossy - perpetual goal.
And now drum roll please the 2012 goals (kidding ... just kidding). Actually the big massive goal is already public. I have 2 iron distance races on my schedule for this year. Ironman France in June and Ironman Florida in November. That's the big goal.

My little brother did something this year that was pretty cool. He did a goal a month. He did things like stretching and not drinking any soda and stuff like that. So I'm going to try a formula like his for this year. I am giving myself the Ironman month's off - or rather I'm making the project of the month the Ironman race.

Here's what I have so far:
Facebook only once a day.
Eat as close to no processed foods as possible.
Catch up with kids scrapbooks. Order photos and put photos into albums
Stretch and Strength Train
Floss every day.
Ironman France.
Write every day.
Update my address book.
Go to bed by 10 every night.
Clean out the closets. Yes "all" of the closets.
Ironman Florida & Throw my own 40th birthday party.
Plan the first annual Stone new years party.

So some of these I might move around some. Also some might change. The way I feel about goals is that it only makes sense to do them if they still make sense so if they seem silly I'll just do something else.

Okay enough of this goals schmoals stuff - I have to go remind my kids that the noisemakers are for outside.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Swimming and my teeth

okay so somewhere in my twitter feed this week was a post from a pro saying she was just back from the dentist and felt so much better having her teeth cleaned removing all the swimmer stains. I thought it was Sara Mclarty but I can't find it so I can't be sure.

I was all AACK ... what... can this be real?

Sadly I can't find the original post to give the person credit for my kind of gross Internet discovery. Because of course, I went home and googled this and sure enough if your pool chemicals are off (and really I think probably most pools chemicals are off sometimes) then you can get brown stains on your teeth. It even has a real name: swimmers calculus.

Luckily it comes off at the dentist and due to my fabulous history of gum issues I'm already at the dentist for a cleaning 4 times a year.

Well yuck!

Read here for actual data from a dentist. Because I'm not a dentist and I don't even play one on tv.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Training for triathlons means a lot of ...


I went out last week and bought more sports bras. Because some of mine had disintegrated to the point of not really being usable.
Sport laundry basket. All fitness stuff goes in here but not wet. Hang to dry so that it doesn't drip on the floor and then put it in here till it's so full nothing else fits or you can't find what you need to exercise. Then put a clothespin on your nose and fling it all into the laundry.

Now I should say that even though I live in Miami my sports bras are always underneath something. Except when I ride the bike trainer alone in my garage I cover up my jiggly post-baby belly. Which is to say my sport bras can get pretty worn out before I have to toss them because they are never a fashion item. But they were past their prime and as I discovered this I was tossing them into the garbage. Then there came a day where my workout was delayed because there was no clean sports bra. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ... this was a problem that needed immediate remedy.
I'm pretty sure when the seams come apart like this it is time to throw it away.

So while picking up my son's holiday present (a longboard) at Sports Authority I looked for a Moving Comfort sports bra. They are my fave. Couldn't find them so I asked and sadly Sports Authority no longer caries them. Of course!

Oh big name giant sport apparel company ... you stink.
So, I bought a Nike jog bra. Now let it be said that other than socks and sweat bands I haven't bought any Nike gear for probably about 10 years because I think it is generally ... crap. But I don't have huge boobs so I've never worried too much about the whole jog bra thing. Plus, I was MISSING my WORKOUT and I was running OUT of TIME before I had to pick up the kiddos. Wrongly I figured what could be the problem?

Well the geniuses at Nike put a big Nike swoosh on the inside of the sports bra. And well lets just say not great. I mean maybe it's fine if you're doing yoga or something but if you're running ... nope. Luckily it was a short run/jog.

Okay so it's off to the local run store for actual moving comfort jog bras. They cost a fortune but in my opinion they are worth it. Plus I feel better having shopped at my local small business.

Put this on the list of things you need a lot of when training for a long course race
Additional plus ... I think I almost have enough jog bras to make it through an entire week before I hit a laundry delay. I'll admit though that I'm pretty spoiled when it comes to laundry in that I don't actually do much of my own laundry unless there is a laundry explosion due to a stomach virus or something. Lucky me.
Another thing that's helpful to have a lot of when you're a parent. Those handy medicine measuring cups. Last week with two kids on liquid medicines I did a lot of rinsing of these cups.

In other news - I swam Wednesday. Lunch swim. It's wonderful - sunny - friendly - and I didn't upchuck my soup that I ate at 11:30.

So then Thursday morning relaxing trainer ride - no sufferfest just slow pedal while watching the first episode of Breaking Bad. Pretty entertaining. Then quick 30 minute slow run because the weather is currently fantastic before 10:00 am when it gets hot.

Today - Friday. It's the end of the world. Not sure what time that happens exactly. It's end of school party day at my kids school. It's also my husband's birthday and perhaps due to the impending end of the earth a bizarre weather day here in South Florida. Perhaps I'll make it a rest day. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

grrrr stupid little bacteria gremlins

Bah humbug ... a little bit.

My kiddo was back at the doctor yesterday to reveal that the 10 day course of antibiotic didn't get rid of her strep throat. Which is why when she stopped taking it ... dum dum dum...her fever came right back.

So we're trying another medicine. Actually we're not at the moment. She wanted to take pills because she doesn't like the liquid medicine. But unfortunately we now know she can't quite swallow these capsules. She choked one down last night and failed at that this morning so we're waiting for the dr to call in zithromax to start again. Meanwhile she's vegging in her pjs in front of the tv.

Like the good parent that I am my son said "my throat hurts" at breakfast so I gave  him some ice water and sent him off to school. Have I mentioned he's allergic to most antibiotics? This could be a pain.

I on the other hand hit the trainer today for 60 minutes and then a 30 minute run. Go me. I need a new sufferfest video because this one has gotten very boring. Such are my first world problems.

In the good news area - I found my heart rate monitor strap which had been hiding in my closet under about 6 fuel belts for weeks.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What got me out of bed this morning

My plan today was the noon masters swim group but yesterday my daughter's fever came back and so that meant child care at the noon hour and therefore (sigh) early morning swim group.

The kiddo climbed into my bed at 2 am and needed more fever medicine. Side note: nighttime parenting is a drag but a required part of the mommy gig.

The alarm went off at 5:30. I was nice and snug under my covers and seriously considered blowing it off. But then a thought went through my veins and I bolted out of bed.
The thought was "@$@#$@#%$@# Ironman France. " And as I mentioned before after that little thought bomb my eyes were open and I unceremoniously rolled out of bed and got moving.

Then I got to the back door and it was dark and chilly (65 degrees and yes I know I'm a wimp) outside and I thought again about just going back to bed but instead I grabbed my run sweater which I had luckily left in the laundry room and I just sucked it up and went to the pool.

Ta - dah. Today I win the battle of the willpower.

For my readers. (Do I have readers?) Here is today's question. I get through about 2000 yards in an hour. Masters practice is an hour. I try to go 3x a week for that hour plus my open water swim on Saturday after my run.

The Ironman swim is just over double my single pool swim amount. I think roughly 4100 yards is 2.4 miles although somebody should check my math. Is this going to be a problem in preparing for the event? Do I need to regularly do significantly more yards in practice?

Options include that I could go to 2 masters sessions on M-W-F but they would not be back-to-back. There is also a 90 minute practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays and of course on the weekends I can do my long open water swims on the key.

Friday, December 14, 2012

And just like that the streak is over ...

Respect the running streak
In my last post I briefly mentioned that I had started a running streak. Oh how quickly the mighty fall. It's true that finding 30 minutes a day to run should be doable for everybody. What's also true is that there are days as a mom where it is hard to make that happen. For me that day was Tuesday (swim practice, pediatric opthamologist appointment, traffic, dinner, sleep). My perfectly awesome running streak attempt #1 was 7 days.

So now it's time to suck it up and try again - with new respect for all of those folks who are out there with running streaks that are unbroken for hundreds of days - new respect.

Well I like to think that if you're not failing your not trying enough hard things so ... moving on! Run streak attempt #2, day 3 today ... no run quite yet although I am in my run attire so there is hope.

Exciting news on the whole Ironman France deal
We have most likely booked our travel ... we decided to meet with an agent and they just called with an itinerary. I do think it's actually not the one we wanted so there might be a hiccup but we'll see. We're also looking at apartments for the week in Nice as our little brood just doesn't fit into a standard European hotel room.  

This alone has of course totally brought back the whole can't sleep freaking out what the F@$#@$% am I doing sensation at night when I should be sleeping. Do you ever get that? For me it goes like this ... Drifting off to sleep happy... happy... sleeping ... aaaack Ironman France - crap - hills - PANIC feeling ... drat I'm awake.

Also last night was the Geminid meteor shower. When the kids went to bed the sky was cloudy.  Alas nothing to see. My oldest kiddo who wants to be an astronomer looked it up online and found out that the peak time was between 10-2 am. Who taught this kid to use google - so inconvenient. So unbeknownst to me she set her alarm for 1:40 AM. Around 1am she climbed into my bed and so at 1:40 her alarm didn't wake her up ... just me. After stumbling around the house half-awake I finally figured out the random beeping coming from her alarm clock and was about to go back to bed when I thought hmmm... I'm up it's a shame to at least not just check it out. I went outside alone and the sky was clear. I waited a few minutes and I did see a few shooting stars. So then in either a great parenting moment or a really crappy one (the verdict may still be out on that when it comes to waking up a 9 year old at 2 am) I actually woke her up and we went out together for probably 10-15 minutes. They are a little tricky to see because they are fast and at first I wasn't sure if I was actually seeing them or just moving my head or blinking or imagining them. But then one will happen more in the middle of the sky and it's very cool. So we did see a few together and she was very excited. Then back to bed. She of course fell asleep instantly - mom, not so much really.

So, today the kid helping me to the car with my groceries told me I looked tired. Awesome!

Training through the holidays
I know that training through the holidays is a challenge. So I'm not too hard on myself when things aren't 100%. That's one reason that   I thought the running streak would be a good idea. I should be able to squeeze that in pretty much anywhere. And all but one day I have. On the not so good side though today will be my first swim of the week. Monday I was home with a kiddo - Wednesday same kiddo had a school party during swim practice. I need to figure out whether I just have to get up early and do the early swim to make sure I don't miss it. The answer to this is yes ... it's not really a complicated question there is rarely a conflict with anything else at 6 am. The problem with the early session is that it's cold out and dark and requires extra motivation. Swimming at noon on a sunny day is like a mini-vacation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just when you think life is going your way ...

Your kids all get sick and you find yourself going from dr to pharmacy to home and washing your hands every 3 minutes hoping you don't catch the "crud".

Weekend Update
Remember the weekend update from Saturday Night Live - hysterical. This won't be that funny.

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way
My daughter got sick toward the end of last week. Turned out to be strep. The other main contender was influenza so I'm pretty happy it was just strep. Then Saturday evening (read: after the pediatrician's office is closed) my son's scratch on his eye/nose got all yellow and spread bumps ... empetigo most likely. Really gross but we've had it before so I started putting the creme on it that we had from before and took pictures of it throughout the weekend to reassure myself that it wasn't spreading. It's all over his eye - he looks ridiculous and it's contagious so we're off to the doctor in a bit to make sure I'm doing the correct treatment and he can go back to school. (Update went to the dr who freaked out a little bit and gave us an antiviral and we have a follow up with a specialist eye doctor to make sure his rash isn't also IN his EYE. That would be bad. )

And in the meantime ... it's Chanukah. Yes we celebrate all the winter holidays in my house. We are a commercial boondoggle for local stores. But all these kids staying home from the doctor has me waaaaaay behind on the shopping.

Sunday was the official Shiksa Latke day. Which is the day that the family comes over and I make Latke's. I call them Shiksa Latke's because I'm the chef and I'm the shiksa so I think it's kindof funny. For some shiksa is an insulting word so if you're offended ... sorry (actually I'm not sorry but it's possible that I suffer from a female mid-western inborn need to apologize often).

December is a busy month in our house. I'm just going to throw this out there in case anyone has stumbled onto this blog looking for blended family marriage advice. (that would be weird but it could happen, right). If you choose to marry a guy from another religion and honor both sets of traditions during the holidays ... you had better like to shop and wrap. That is all.
latkes at the start. This is the entire reason I own a cast iron skillet. It's the only thing I use it for. I also have a wonderful latke bowl which is a gigantic bowl my sister in law got me for holding all the latke "stuff."

Back to the s-b-r grind
Swim more
Last week was the first week I was back on track training. I did three masters sessions (well in the last one I goofed off for half of it). After Cozumel I came back determined to not slack on my swim training. Be ready for the swim - never skip a workout - except today I'm home with my infected kiddo so I'm not in the pool.  I even swam Saturday on the key - just for 10 minutes or so but the water was freezing. Wet suit practice - yes ma'am.

Bike More

I'm also researching bike training options. As I have stupidly chosen a ridiculously hilly IM course and I live in and insanely flat state this is going to take some creativity. Mostly I think preparing for this bike will take dedication to make sure I bike a lot and that I'm honest with myself that it's going to take 8 hours to complete the bike course so I need to be ready for that. Yup 8 hours.

This is the bike. Notice how it's just one giant hill. Craptastic!
I have one friend who had great success using Computrainer to train on her bike for Florida. She was injured and couldn't ride outside at all. But I have some issues with Computrainer ... let's start with the fact that I think the darn thing costs $1800.00. So let's say I have 6 months to train and I use it 2 times a week (which is a lot actually) that is approximately 48 workouts. If my math works out that's $37 a workout. That seems ridiculous. Plus it doesn't work on a Mac so I'd have to procure a desktop also.

Option two I am reading good things about Trainer Road. This is a web-based option that uses data from your existing devices to give you virtual estimates. I dunno -- it's probably not perfect but then again it's $10 a month ... yes $10. That's a whopping $60 for six months of training. So, I am going to try that. I currently have my step-daughter working on upgrading my dinosaur of a macbook pro so that it will run on that computer and then we'll see how it works.

Lastly, this is the off season down here so people are mainly just socializing on their rides and many people are taking some time off. Especially in my training group where almost everyone has completed their Ironman in November - they are taking a well deserved break. Which is why I ended up riding by myself yesterday. I'm a little proud of myself that even after everybody cancelled I just saddled up and went. I did pair up with somebody I knew for part of the ride back and that did help with the boredom.

I am also planning to change out the cassette on my bike so that I don't have as many easy gears. I'm a little fuzzy on the details here but apparently what I want is a 12-27 and what I have is something else. For some reason I have more of a climbing cassette which will pay off in the mountains. But for training I want to work harder to get stronger.  So figuring this out is on my to do list.

Run more
I also have started a vague plan to run a little bit every day ... I saw something online about a 100 day challenge. So while I didn't officially join the challenge I have run 30 minutes everyday since Tuesday. Well Sunday after the ride it was a lot of walking but whatever. This would be my first ever "streak" ... should I go for 100 days? Should I just do 30? Should I make up my mind already?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's your normal?

Most people I interact with on a daily basis think I'm a little crazy for the training I do. Heck ... (yes heck, this is a family friendly blog) sometimes I think I'm a little crazy.

But then ...

I learned about Jim Simpson who is about to run his 1,000th marathon. Yes ... thousand.

He's part of a group called the Marathon Maniacs ... I'm not one of them. I did read the criteria but it seemed too challenging at the moment.

And also I met a nice woman in Cozumel. Her name is Susan. She has no website or anything that I can find. But I learned from her facebook feed that she's participated in 18 iron distance events this year. 18!

What's interesting to me is that if/when you choose to do so many of these endurance events it just becomes a part of what you do. When I met Susan she was enjoying her holiday in Mexico with beer and Mexican food even though she'd be racing this huge long event where my friends were being very cautious about their food and stuff. Just makes you think a bit ... well makes me think anyway.

These guys make my crazy seem very normal indeed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ironman Cozumel - report part 2 - just get it done

Again - I didn't race this event just attended. But I learned a lot.

This is my friend Doug walking into transition the morning of the race. Even though it was one of the biggest transition areas I've been in what was most striking was the silence. Participants were quietly readying their bikes side by side with very little chatter and goofing off. The seriousness of what lay ahead was definitely in the air. 

If you follow the sport online you may have read / heard about how the swim was difficult. It was. According to the media office 180 people did not continue past the swim. Rumors put the number much higher. I can't see a reason why the race management would give an inaccurate number but at least one of my friends who was there thinks 180 is really low. Could be - but whatever.

This is a quick video I took at the start. At the very end you can see that the people are struggling to make forward progress against the current. This was the start of the swim and the swimmers also had to do the last half mile against the same current to get to the finish. Apparently for many swimmers it was like swimming in place.

What I learned as a spectator / aspiring Ironman is that when it comes to the Ironman race one of the challenges is taking what the day delivers. In the case of an ocean swim like Cozumel that can be a big time ocean swim with current and chop - be ready for whatever the course can deliver. I felt bad for all the people who didn't get to continue but the other way to look at this is that 2530 participants completed a tough swim and they get to say that they did it on a very tough year.

For me I'm signed up for a race with a swim in the Medeteranean Sea. I need to research what those conditions can be and prepare for that. Also my bike is in the mountains in the summer and my research has already told me that I need to be ready for a cool possibly wet day. Which to be honest doesn't sound like much fun. So hopefully I get a beautiful day.

This is me at the start of the race. It's a cool thing to see in person. I look forward to doing it myself next year.
Ready set go! This is three frames taken seconds apart at the start. Notice the difference in spray when the swimmers all start swimming at once.

Me walking the 5 miles back from the swim start. Not a huge fan of the 2 transition set up actually :-)

The bike - I didn't get much done during the bike except walking back to town and then checking on my friend who missed the swim cutoff.
they use a lot of water!

I don't know who this guy is but I wanted to take a pretty picture of the bike and so I did.
A suggestion for families traveling to Cozumel for the race. This hotel had the BEST set up for families watching the bike course. Just fyi.
If I do this race I'm putting my family here.

So, this blog is about triathlon and marathon and my life but before I got obsessed with that I was a photographer. It's my training. I had "taken a break" starting about 3 years ago. Really just did nothing - hung up my camera. But I have to admit - I enjoyed covering this event. I didn't do a spectacular job at it because I was half cheering my friends and half working but not getting paid or anything so really just cheering for my friends and taking pictures. Ahh but the switch is back on ... what does that mean. I dunno. But I did really enjoy it.

As I took a break for dinner runners made their way through the dark around the course.
This is what the finish line looks like as you run through it. The bleachers are full on both sides of screaming folks. It's cool.
The Finish Line
The mass start and the finish line are definitely the two main images I already had in my head before I went. But it was also good to see the condition that people were in when they finished.

I was at the finish line for about 3 - 4 hours.

I saw people finish smiling and hooting and hollering and dancing. I also saw people really uncomfortable and injured and even a few collapses.

Without a doubt I hope to be a finisher with a smile.

I think that more than anything being ready for this race comes from being honest about your training throughout the year and being mentally prepared.

Two of the most successful finishers that I know were actually woefully under trained. Interestingly both of them had crashes during training and came back to race. While you would expect that they would have had dismally hard slow races they mentally prepared to be uncomfortable during the race due to their lack of training. I think that their mental preparation made a big difference because they finished very strongly. They finished ahead of faster people with more training. It was amazing to watch. But I still don't want to crash :-)

Getting my head in the game
During November I've known a lot of people who competed in Ironman races between IM Florida, Arizona and Cozumel. Some had great experiences and finishes and others didn't.

I didn't train with all of them so I only know what I know but for some I really got to see the mental side of this race.

As a result my nickname should be WAFFLE. Yes I'm racing in Nice, nope I'm pulling out. Next day Okay - France is on. Later that day - nope no way not gonna happen. At this precise moment I'm proceding with going to France preparing the best that I can and knowing that there is a reasonable chance that something will happen and I won't finish.

So, I'm also signing up for Florida :-) Hedging my bets.

This part of the post is kind of rambly and may not make much sense. Lessons I took out of this that I hope to keep with me as I train for my own races include:
  • Be honest about my training. When you're doing group training you have to be careful to make sure you don't confuse your training with what others are doing. If I go out on group rides and draft the entire distance my solo ride will be much harder race day. If the schedule says 3000 yards and I only do 1600 I need to be honest with myself about that. If I skip a bike session I can't be expecting to get better.
  • Nobody can do my race for me. I train with others and they are all different levels and training for all difference races. But I have to keep in mind that on race day I have to be able to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run 26.2. So if somebody says hey the water looks rough I think I'll pass I need to keep in mind that that might be okay for them but I have to decide for myself to do my workouts. Swimming in rough water is something better to prepare for than to avoid. Riding in the wind is a skill to prepare for not to avoid. Nobody else is training for 10,000 feet of climbing. I have to do that myself. I have no idea how that's gonna happen.
  • Knowledge is power. Discomfort when it comes as a surprise is unpleasant but if you're ready for it you can perhaps work through it. I know people who stopped racing this year from leg cramps and migraine headaches and also those who continued racing on a broken bone and after collapsing and getting medical care. As I watched it unfold I honestly wasn't sure which way I would go if something like that happened to me on race day. I'm not sure if I can know until it happens what I would really do. But I think that the more prepared you are mentally for the race and the discomfort it brings the more likely you are to finish. So my woefully inadequate self analogy is with running at the end of a long race my legs tingle and go numb when I'm working really hard - not sprinting so my chest is fine. It's a mental decision for me that I know intellectually that my legs are actually fine and I can ignore the symptom. So, I need to prepare as much as I can. I know I get freaked out with contact in a swim so I need to practice for that. I don't yet know what will happen to me on 112 miles followed by a marathon so I need to try to figure that out :-)
  • Commit to finish. If the race doesn't go your way and you are slower volunteers will start to ask you" do you want to go on?", "Do you want to stop" the temptation is probably really big to stop but here's where I think if you are mentally prepared to finish no matter what you will find a way to continue. I'm not saying continue if you are at risk of injury. But for me if I have an 8 hour bike in France (ouch my butt hurts just thinking of it) then the marathon may be slow and I may be finishing in close to 16 hours. The volunteers are going to want to go home and that's okay but I want to finish. So I plan to prepare for that myself.  
  • My last lesson is embrace the pain. I am definitely one that when I feel the discomfort that goes with speeding up I can convince myself to back off. And then I run a mediocre race and kick myself for that. The more I can push myself to be on the threshold of discomfort the more I'll be ready for that feeling on race day.
And that's it - now off to do something else like shower and eat lunch and take my kids to the dentist. Oh right and buy holiday presents :-)