Friday, November 28, 2014

Space Coast Marathon Goals

Sunday I'm running the Space Coast Marathon.

It will be an experiment of sorts. When I signed up I thought I'd take my fitness from Ironman Chattanooga and spend a few weeks working on speed work and go try for a new marathon personal best. 

Buuuut, it hasn't quite worked out that way. I simply just didn't have the mental drive to stick with the training. So I've done about 85 percent of the training, exactly none of the speed work, and almost none of the cross training. 

I have also really enjoyed eating and drinking whatever I wanted including plenty of wine, beer and Halloween candy. I have a little layer of puff around my middle.

So, I have adjusted my goals. I'm going to do something I've never done before which is that I'm going to go out and run this marathon just to have fun the whole way. I'm not going to worry at all about my pace. I'm going to guess that it will be about 5 hours but we'll see. 

Also, as part of the Thanksgiving festivities I came into contact with a germ. And apparently my normal germ
avoidance talents failed and it penetrated my iron-exterior and I am sniffling today. I have been uber-hydrating and popping vitamin C so we'll see.0

I've always wanted to do this race. It's known as being a great event. So far it's been great. The check in took about 90 seconds in a local running store - the Running Zone.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chasing the finish line euphoria - my thoughts on Ironman goals

In my experience there is nothing quite like the euphoria experienced when one crosses the Ironman Finish line.

Background informal Case Studies
In the best of cases Ironman races take your intended goals and chew them up and spit them up as tears during the marathon. This year however mother nature joined the show and just made chaos out of Ironman goals across the nation.
Lake Placid Ironman - lightening in the swim.
Lake Tahoe Ironman - cancelled. The whole kit and caboodle.
Florida Ironman - swim cancelled and it became the IronBrick. Goals crushed.
Arizona Ironman - super windy beating the tar out of pro and age grouper dreams on race day.

These things got me thinking about Ironman goals. I'm a big goal person.

Who am I to say?
I'm certainly not an Ironman expert. I've done only two and I didn't win either of them. I dunno but I'm giving myself license to expound on my thoughts on Ironman goals.

Be realistic. It has to fit into your life.
There's a lot of bravado and type-a personality stuff that goes around with Ironman training. Slogans like HTFU, Sufferfest, pain cave, PR or ER. It's part of the package.
This is just here because I think it's funny.

When I was not even signed up for my first Ironman a fellow training buddy Tony was training for his first Ironman. He mentioned that he was looking forward to having a good single-malt scotch after the race. He had abstained from scotch for the duration of his six month training and was missing it. Tony is young and single. He had sworn off happy hours for the duration of his training and he was feeling lonely and anti-social. My other training buddy Randy snorted and said something like, "That's ridiculous! It [Ironman] has to fit into your life."

Two things. First, I agree with both things these guys said. I'll explain in a minute. Second, I think the key to being happy with your iron-distance performance is partly in what Randy said.

The more we sacrifice for something the more important it feels and the more pressure there is that it just be perfect. It takes 6 months of daily physical training to prepare for an Ironman. About 6 weeks of that is very time intensive and requires sacrifices by everybody in a family just because of the time involvement needed. Those are the facts, according to me.

I do abstain from lots of things including alcohol, carbonated drinks and deserts for a short period (about 4-6 weeks) before an Ironman or marathon. I want my body to be in as good of shape as I can to take on the challenge. But I don't feel deprived while I do this. If I did ... I wouldn't do it.

In fact, for the first time for this marathon coming up after Thanksgiving I am not modifying my diet before the race. It will affect my performance but I'm enjoying my life.  So, I agree with Tony's decision to drop this from his diet. But I also agree with Randy. Because it is ridiculous to give up something you enjoy, something that is a part of your life in pursuit of this hobby if it makes you unhappy. I'm not going to win this race so why should I make myself miserable training for it?

I think that in order to be able to enjoy your race you need to not resent the time investment it takes to get to race day.  It is always a good idea to remember that this is just a race and it is just a hobby we do for fun.

So let's talk about goals. 
Anybody who has ever taken a leadership or management seminar has probably been taught about setting "smart" goals. It's a pretty common technique and I think it's fairly effective. One of the things that makes a smart goal smart is that it's realistic. It's worth saying again - Realistic.

This is something to be very careful of when making your Ironman goals. So much of the day is completely out of your control that it's important to take this into account when making your goal. I think it's also a good thing to keep in mind with your training goals. It has to be realistic. It has to fit into your life.

Why do diets fail over and over? Because people try to make dramatic changes all at once. Anybody can make a drastic change for a short period but if it doesn't fit into your life it won't stick forever. The same is true of endurance training for these races. You probably can make huge financial and lifestyle changes for six months while you train for an Ironman but if it doesn't fit in your life, you might be miserable and it might not feel worth it.

Even more common is that you will be mentally exhausted by sacrificing so much during your training that you don't have the mental capacity to dig very deep during the race.

Beware racing in training
I've been running and racing a long time. I'm old. Okay not old but older. One thing I've observed is that if you can't tell the difference between racing and training you won't race well. It takes an effort both mentally and physically to perform on race day. Leave that effort to race day if you want to have the best performance on that day.

There is another danger hidden in racing during Ironman training and that is that you may err and set your time goals based on peak training performances. That is super risky because the only time most people put all three of the disciplines together at that distance is on race day. So don't stress how fast you ran your 18 miler or your best time on your 100 miler because it may not relate in the end. 

Beware the time goal
One hour in an Ironman race is both a huge amount of time and also practically no time at all. So much of an Ironman is completely out of our control. Specifically, the weather and flat tires. We can only race the race given to us on the day of the race. So if I give myself a goal of a 1:15 swim but I wake up to 15 mph winds I'm not going to make that goal. I'm just not. If I set my goal for a sub six hour bike but I get two flat tires - it's not going to happen. It's not a realistic goal given the scenario. So, in that case if I'm not prepared to adjust my goals on the fly I will most likely experience a sensation of failure.

This dog is awesome but perhaps not a goal setter. He's not worried about anything but enjoying this ride. A lot can be learned from this dog about being happy.
Many people are afraid of adjusting their goals because they feel that it might open up the mental door to allowing less of an effort during the race. That's a definite thing to be wary of. A lot of Ironman is mental and sticking to your goals in the middle of the long bike and long run is tough. There is a difference between adjusting your goal for a flat tire and giving up because you're tired during the end of the bike/run. I mentally practice how I will get through the mental fatigue in the bike and run. I have a mantra I want to use if I find my self veering off my desired effort. In Chattanooga on the run it was to ask myself do I have anything left? The answer was always yes and I would pick up my feet and run. 

But there is another option in those two scenarios which is to be proud of the accomplishment. To finish a 2.4 mile swim in rough conditions is impressive. To finish a 112 mile bike including two flat tires is impressive.

This is not to say that we shouldn't have time goals. I have conditional time goals for all of my events but I try to have the awareness that conditions have to be correct for me to meet them. Conditions of my body, conditions of my training, conditions on race day. And for me the ultimate goal is always to give each race my best effort that I can that day.

Beware the one and done pressure.
You may only want to do one Ironman. That is a perfectly acceptable goal. Ironman races sell out sometimes as much as a year in advance. Ironman races are also very expensive. So there is a lot of pressure on that one single day. It's a good idea to think about that before the event. 30% of people who register for an Ironman don't start the race. Their training fails, they are injured or they just get sick. Due to no fault of your own you could have the flu on race day.

File this under the 7 ps slogan. Prior proper preparation prevents piss poor performance. Be ready to accept it and make a plan. It would stink but what will you do?

One way to avoid this pressure is to be registered for more than one race in a year. But for Ironman sometimes that's not feasible.Another way to avoid this is to celebrate your accomplishments as they come and understand that the race is just a race and nothing more and nothing less.
Yes, propaganda but I love it.

So how do you get that euphoria over and over? You have to love it all.
My kids love winning. And they hate losing. Who doesn't? But I tell them this when it comes to sports. You have to love it all. You have to love everything about it. The practice and the competition or else it isn't worth doing. You will lose. Anybody who chooses to participate in sport will at some point not be the winner. What makes winning so special is that it is so incredibly tough to do.

For me in Ironman winning is finishing. Winning is doing my best, meeting my goal of the day whatever the day may bring. 

May your next finish line be euphoric wherever that finish line may be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I get a physical every year ... and so should you

I'm a middle-aged mom and every once in a while I just can't resist getting up on my box and saying, "hey you should do this!"

I'm healthy. I'm 41 years old and I'm healthy. But every year I get a physical. I just had my physical Friday.

adding to the chaos of my life this car was in the body shop for 2 weeks after it was skewered by a forklift. Not related to my physical at all but still a crazy story. all better now as you can see.
My doctor has a new team member and because I'm healthy I get the new kid but my doctor will still review all my results. She must have asked me about 15 times why I was there ... did I have any concerns. I finally asked her whether I was the only adult to get a physical and she admitted it wasn't all that common. One of the nurses was in the room when I asked this and she chuckled and said that I was a good patient who followed directions. I guess that's not the norm either.

I'll admit that one reason I do this is because I am out there racing endurance events and it's good to know my body is in good shape. But that's not the primary reason I do it.
from my daughter's birthday party. 11 year olds singing karaoke. adorable.

My father died of heart disease and for better or worse I was around during the last say 7 years while he was getting treatments and surgeries and so forth. I learned 2 major things during that time that I take with me always.

First, the decisions you make in your 20s and 30s will dramatically effect your medical options in your 60s and 70s. My father stopped smoking around 1980 his surgical options when he had a bypass surgery more than 20 years later were very limited from the damage done to his veins by smoking. While we can't do anything about the way we've already lived our life we can make better decisions from this day forward.
The final cake from the endless birthday celebrations of October and November. Dairy Queen ice cream cake.

Next, it's really good to have a relationship with your doctor and for them to know what you are like when you are healthy. That way when you get sick they have a comparison to make and a basis to recommend what treatments you can handle. Every person is different and figuring out what's going on when you're sick is a very complicated process. If there is somebody who knows your baseline that can be helpful in the process of diagnosing what's going on. 

I'm healthy and my doctor and his office know that. They know me very well. They know my hobbies and they know my family history. When I collapsed last year after making a poor decision to run a triathlon while I had the flu - I was out of town. I was in the emergency room in another city. When I came home I was able to call in and tell them what happened and they helped me recover and get back to form.

In this off season I tried zumba. With my daughter behind me in the jean shorts (which she did classify as work out clothes). It was a fundraiser to benefit the UM CARD center. Portia Lange the instructor is amazing. I still lack any kind of dance coordination but it was fun.
Like I said above. I'm 41. I actually remember when my parents both turned 40. I remember each of them got reading glasses for the first time. I have been able to avoid this by getting lasik about 8 years ago. My parents also for a 40th birthday present both started high-blood pressure medication. At 40 they were both pretty overweight and inactive. I remembered this about them this morning and I was happy that with my 41st physical exam or well checkup I do not have that.

This is the first school project that I have almost done completely for my kid. This was ridiculous. Even after I downloaded directions from google and pbs it still took me about 5 hours. And I'm not kidding it doesn't work all that well so she'll probably get a D. We're at peace with it. Hopefully there will be some extra credit we can do.
So, take care of yourself. If you don't have a doctor maybe look for one. If you haven't had a well checkup in a few years - go get one. 

Me on the bike this past weekend. I actually was dropped by my group. So all that iron fitness is gone. I have to admit that the little paunch around my belly is probably from all the cake and not just the jersey being unflattering. Yikes. Back to work soon.
In other news specific to training. I am sort of off track. Just sort of. I have a pain in my right leg that doesn't hurt while running, walking or riding my bike but sort of niggles me other times. Also family stuff has been keeping me majorly busy so I've been eating too much, drinking too much and treating myself too much. It's okay. Let's call this the off season. I'm adjusting my goals for the marathon accordingly and all will be okay.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The word of the last few weeks is "overcommitted"

I'm not even sure if overcommitted is an actual word.

But it should be.

There is one week a year that is always very busy in my house.

As a family we have gotten better at handling it but it's a madhouse no matter what.

That week is the last week of October. This year that week multiplied itself into a few weeks. 

October 26th - off to grandma and grandpas house to celebrate the birthdays with bbq and ice cream cake.

October 27th - my daughter's actual birthday - and swim Halloween party plus a cub scout meeting. I always make my kids homemade cakes for their birthday so that's what I did while they were in school.Oh and I ran to the lego store for a giant lego set which was her toy present. She's growing up but she still wants a toy for her birthday.

October 28th not her birthday but we had to take a giant cookie to gymnastics anyway.

October 29th - my birthday. I celebrated by eating lunch at school with my son and playing games and reading books with him. Plus later stone crabs and a giant chocolate cake.

October 30th - just lots of leftover cake.

October 31st - Halloween. Fun all day. Plus costumes and candy and way too much wine.

November 1st -- this runner did not get up and run her 17 miles. Nope. Didn't. I did actually get up and make coffee and then decided I was in no shape to run and went back to bed. Bad runner.

My husband took my daughter and a friend to see Cinderella the show and on the way back they were speared by a forklift while driving. I know this sounds too bizarre to be real but it's what actually happened. Nobody was hurt. Traffic on US-1 was ridiculous so he took a local frontage road that goes in front of a hardware/lumber store (shell lumber). As they went by the store a forklift ran into the car and speared the front and took out the right front tire. So that added a little extra chaos to our day. Luckily we were home when he called. We were heading out to the bookstore because we just read my son's homework worksheet which said at the top, "read a book about a hispanic american" which we hadn't done and didn't have. Oops. But instead, I took the other car to get them all and I noticed that this car seriously needed service. All the scary looking service lights were on which got my attention. My favorite part was calling to tell my daughter's friend's parents what happened ... not.

Oh and then my husband took my son to the haunted house and to get the aforementioned book on a hispanic american. My instructions were to find the shortest book possible. Which turned out to be Roberto Clemente.  My daughter and I stayed home. It was a long day for my husband. 

November 2nd -- my son and husband spent the day with the cub scouts at the football game. Seriously 9:45 - 6:30. My daughter and I finished her science project. There were only 2 sets of tears so that was a success. And then at 12 we went to her swim meet. Where she did very well, thank you for asking. Then we went to dinner and then quickly to Macy's to get pants she needs for school this week. Apparently Macy's closes at 7 which we didn't know and let me tell you they should really make an announcement because it scared the pee out of me when the lights went out while we were in the dressing room. Luckily not all of the lights but still. Very weird. We were able to get the pants but after we checked out we couldn't get back into the mall and had to walk around the outside to get to the car. So we got home at about 7:15 and the boys were already in bed. By 8 the whole house was sleeping. It was daylight savings but still we were all exhausted from the week and weekend.

At this point of the busy week we had exactly zero food in the house. So the next morning I fed the kids something and scraped together a bare minimum lunch with my one goal of going to the grocery store. But instead ... remember the car being speared by the forklift ... I spent the morning with my husband getting a rental car which took slightly less than forever. I was a little grumpy about the whole thing because after all "I" didn't get the car speared by a forklift. Then my husband's car went off to the shop where it needed to be seen because all of the scary service lights were on and it was frightening. Turns out he had basically no front brakes left ... those are good to have so I'm glad the scary lights were on. Although I don't know if my husband would have every actually had the car serviced. And then it was time to pick up the kids and there was no trip to the grocery store made. Proof that I have a very creative mind was shown when I managed to make a dinner out of the nothing in the refrigerator.

And then on November 4th I finally got to go to the grocery store. Ahhhhhh. Who knew that all it took to make me happy was ... produce.

Then we immediately had house guests and some out of town travel because my husband 's father was celebrating his 80th birthday. Which is HUGE and I'm thrilled to celebrate it with them. But those celebrations turned into a week. A fun week but still I'm ready for some downtime.

In order to spend the weekend with them I did my 20 mile run on Friday. So that's the longest solo run I've ever done. 

Our houseguest left today. In fact I just got a text he landed at his home airport. Now it's time to catch up.