Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Training Brain. It keeps me coming back for more!

As is true for many of us, my brain is stuffed full (and then some) with the usual tangle of multitasking working mom thoughts. It's crazy in there. It's full of lists, to-dos, daily/weekly/monthly calendars, passwords, PINs, birthdays, philosophies, tasks, how-tos, tricks, training schedules, race goals, account balances, clothing sizes....

You would not want to live in my brain. There isn't any room for you anyway. There's barely room for me.

I get a delightful reprieve from it all when I train. For me, that is one of the major rewards of the multisport life, and the reason I train on a near daily basis. I love the simple headspace of my training brain!

All the chatter of daily life gets pushed aside when I swim, bike, run, or strength train. I think about technique, how I feel, my effort, my goals, my mindset. I may count strokes or steps or breaths. On the hardest of efforts that is all I can do. That is all I care to do.

But on the easier efforts, with a little less need to attend to mechanics, there is room for a select few new thoughts to find their way in. You probably know about this! This is the space where creativity can happen, problems can be solved, and peace can be found.

A thought space forms and sometimes that thought space gets filled in the most peculiar ways.

Case in point:

The main set of Tuesday's swim was taking all I had to stay on pace (translation: taking all I had to keep up with lane mate Janet) and so I was really focusing on finishing my stroke and using more of my tricep on that final push.

this is not me. 

I must have let up a little, because a thought space opened up, and I heard my brain say:

 "It's fine if your triceps get tired, it's not like you have to go slice cheese all day." 

Cheese slicing? Where in the world did that thought come from? It was hard to keep from laughing.

Then on yesterday's run I found a fresh (and successful) approach to a problem I was having with WordPress (solved one problem, thirty seven more to go!).

I love getting my regular "fix" of Training Brain. It reboots, refreshes, reprioritizes, and sometimes just gets silly. And like any powerful drug it's got me conditioned to come back for more.

So if you are looking for a legal drug that makes your brain feel amazing, might I suggest swim, bike, or run?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Is it Suffering? Or Conquering?

Today I had my first "Functional Threshold Power" test on the bike. After a warmup, I was to do a 20 minute time trial at "maximal race-like effort." This was on the bike trainer, which is usually in the room that doubles as the kids' hang-out room. They had a friend in for the weekend and another friend coming and they said they really didn't want all that noise (from me more than the bike haha). Can't say I blame them.

So I did what my friend Kathy does and relocated to the bathroom.

I still had a pretty sweet setup with a TV, headphones, Garmin, towel, and upturned laundry baskets that made a shelf of the perfect height for the remotes, and phone, and water. I had everything I could possibly want.

I posted the picture up on Facebook and in response to some of the comments I started to write, "I suffer in comfort."

But suddenly I couldn't even write the word "suffer." I mean really...what could possibly happen on that bike, in those bright surroundings, that could even begin to constitute true suffering?

As a triathlete I throw that word around all the time. For a while my mantra was "suffer more!"

But is training and racing bad or unpleasant? No, or I wouldn't keep doing it.

It just seems like on the grand scale of suffering, something I choose to do in a swim/bike/run hardly constitutes suffering. I conquer. Or maybe I submit, overcome, endure, accept, bear, prevail, rise above, and move beyond. But I don't truly suffer.

In that FTP test, my brain shouted to slow down, and my muscles burned, but at any time, I was free to stop. When I think of real suffering, I don't associate it with choice. I relate it to oppression, poverty, famine, disease, and war --

I'm going to strike the word "suffer" as it relates to my hobby. Triathlon is the backdrop for me to test my ability to conquer, or to prevail, endure, etc. Those words are far more positive and empowering and sit much better with me for a sport that I feel only grateful to enjoy!

I don't know why just today, very suddenly, the use of the word suffer suddenly bothered me. Perhaps my post-exercise brain gave me just the split second I needed to reconsider my word choice.

I'm glad I did.

I look forward to conquering myself this season.

Friday, January 23, 2015

2014 Runabout Sports Awards

Last night our local running store, Runabout Sports, had its first year-end awards event. They held seven races in 2014 ranging from the super fast downhill Draper Mile to the Hokie Half Marathon, with all sorts of distances in between. Title sponsors included Carilion Clinic, Dowell Chiropractic and Blacksburg Physical Therapy.

The event recognized the sponsors and the following groups of runners:
  • Those who ran at least 6 of the 7 races - they won hoody sweatshirts
  • Those who completed the December 100 Mile Challenge - they won long-sleeved technical tees and were in a drawing for $100 gift cards
  • Those who won the most points overall, or in their age group, across all the races - they were awarded embroidered running jackets with money going to the top overall winners (the top male and female won $500 shopping sprees in the store!)

I received an email the prior week letting me know I was an award winner, and I was SuPeR surprised.

shocked like this

A running series award was the furthest thing from my mind and I only began racing for the year in June. But it turns out I did run 4 of the 7 races and I believe I finished top of my age group in all but the Draper Mile (edged out by the speedy Alice C!):

This is one of the most meaningful awards I have ever received.

This award marked the end of a year that finished far differently than it began. My running year led off with tears, frustration, and pain, which gave way to determination and hope, and finally the restoration of the joy of running free and healthy! I'm so glad and grateful to have battled my way back as a runner.

We got really cute Brooks running jackets (with thumb holes!) embroidered with the race series logo.

James DeMarco (in top photo) and Runabout Sports are without question the hub of running in our community. It's crazy how much he does with the stores, coaching the nationally ranked high school runners, putting on a distance running academy, hosting community running programs, directing races, etc. And beyond that, he *knows* us, he knows the area runners. When he calls your name at a race as you cross the finish line or receive an award, rest assured, he knows a bit about your journey!

Some of the folks who did at least 6 of the 7 races

The hard-earned 100-mile shirt. 44 runners (including yours truly) earned them,
with totals ranging from exactly 100 to 217! 

Five of us 100-milers were randomly selected to win $100 gift cards to the store.
I got super lucky and won!! 

What was cool about this award event was hanging out with other runner friends, seeing what we all look like in non-running clothes and with non-running hair, and spending more time together than we get from the passing wave on the road or trail. 

This event shows that running is really about showing up and that fast or slow, what matters is that we are all runners! Of the three types of awards, only one had anything to do with speed and race results. The others were about consistency and determination. 

You won't find this kind of running community coming out of a chain sports store. We are so fortunate to have the leadership of James and the staff of Runabout Sports. 

Congratulations to all who "show up" to run - recognized or not. 

2014 Carilion Race Series Overall and Age Group Winners:

Overall Winners:
Kari Putterman F 25
Sophia Link F 13
Chad Holt M 26
Kevin McGuire M 48
George Tolton M 23

Male Age Group Winners:
Sidd Nathella M 14
Sam Teller M 16
Frank Locascio M 22
Brandon Bear M 27
Nick Clark M 34
Scott Huxtable M 39
Ignacio Moore M 43
Brian Walter M 47
Marc Edwards M 50
Randy Burrier M 55
Tom Gardner M 62
Bob Shea M 69
John Gregg M 74
Female Age Group Winners:
Ailene Edwards F 13
Sarah Karalus F 19
Hayley Billingsley F 21
Allison Rahtes F 27
Mina DeMarco F 30
Ann McGranahan F 35
Kim Kitts F 42
Cortney Martin F 47
Trish Richardson F 53
Leslie Gregg F 57
Susan Terwilliger F 63
Pat Barton F 67
Rosemary Cole F 71

December 100 Mile Challenge Finishers:

Luisa Baker 100
Loren Beasley 134
Kirsten Beaudry 135.5
Brandon Bishop 100.3
Brad Bizzell 125.1
Robert Brett 153
Gary Buss 100
Janet Buss 106
Bryce Cannon 116
Jennifer Carter 104
Alicia Cohen 100
Carla Cross 141.5
Hannah Curry 129
Mina DeMarco 162
Rachel Edwards 110
Catherin Fae 101
Marlin Fjallstrom-Hosak 126.6
Jen Gagon 105.6
Michaela Kelly Galya 125
Ally Higgens 119
Shawn Hustun 155
Taylor Jennings 150
Kim Kitts 126
Cybele Lane 153.17

Tanya LeRoith 101
Michaela Linkous 101
Frank Locascio 101
Miranda Lucia 120.8
Cortney Martin 101
Corbin Mathews 120
Glenn Matthews 105
Ignacio Moore 202
Dimple Mozhi 173
Theresa Pancotto 137.7
Tara Phelps-Durr 111.5
Shannon Price 217
Joshua Rancourt 100.33
Trish Richardson 108
Brian Seitz 120
Caman Skelton 108
Dan Smith 100
Alison Smith 100
Linda Vick 115
Dawn Weeks 132.73
Nancy Whitlock 108
Mary-Beth Wisniewski 105
Toby Wright 100.2

Completed at least 6 of 7 races:

Brandon Bear
Gregor Wollmann
Kevin McGuire
Marcia Wright
Sophia Link
Vince Baranauskas
Debbie Wells
Nick Clark
Scott Huxtable
Scott Shetrone
Harry Hudson
Marlete Servidoni
Robert Smith
Theresa Pancotto
Kelly Robinson
Kim Kitts
Linda Vick
Randy Burrier
Aran Jackson
George Tolton
Heather Govenor
Kari Putterman
Ignacio Moore
Stephanie Harvey

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mid-January Training Update

Wow we are halfway through January! Days are getting a little longer and yesterday we got a big dose of much-needed sunshine and slightly warmer temps. I got off the trainer and outside on the bike for the first time since just before Christmas. There's nothing like a sunny day and an open country road to put a smile on your face!

I did my annual January replacement of stretched-out swimsuits and chlorine-trashed goggles. I must have looked through 400 swimsuit options before settling on two shimmery ones from the Finals Funkies line. Picking the right size swimsuit for online ordering is tricky. What we need is a database where you can enter your height, weight, and a few general aspects of your build along with what size you are in various brands. I range from 32 to 36 depending on the brand and have to remember what I am in which!

One thing never changes - AquaSphere Kaimen Lady goggles for me all the way...they have never ever let me down!

Other random commentary:

  • I am back in the groove in the gym 2-3x a week including working legs again. I really strayed from this they last two years with all my leg issues, but now that the vascular problem is behind me, I feel confident getting after it again. I'm having a lot of fun with various types of squats, deadlifts, leg presses, lunges, etc in addition to upper body work. I will write more about my approach in a future post.
  • I am training with POWER on the bike now!!! I'm extremely grateful to my race sponsor, Solar Connexion, for the very unexpected year-end surprise of Garmin Vector pedals. It's been fun, but rather humbling. Let's just say if you had two modest incandescent light bulbs, I could power them long enough for you to read a short story or two!! Plenty of room for improvement there, but now it's measurable. 
  • I'm happy to be back on my training schedule, even if I did misread a workout last week. I thought the 10 minutes at tempo was 10 minutes at threshold which I took to mean: run 10 minutes as fast as you possibly can! So while I didn't follow Coach Jim's instructions, I did enjoy tapping into some max speed and seeing that I had at least a little there :-)
  • I got a deep tissue massage yesterday with Mario, my long-time go-to massage therapist. My upper back and traps are a mess of knots I suspect from swimming more, a return to deadlifts, and also probably the computer. When the chiropractor tells me I really have to go see Mario, I listen. It was uncomfortable but beneficial and as usual I could have fallen into a deep sleep immediately afterward.
  • I am cheering for my new friend Joyce who had the same artery surgery as me about two months ago. She was a 2:50 marathoner (and will be again) who has wrestled with this undiagnosed problem for 10 (yes TEN!) years. We are both cheering for P.J. who had the surgery last week. I am excited for both of them to once again run without pain! One year ago I was still undiagnosed, frustrated, tearful, and fearful that my running and racing days were over. I will never cease to be grateful for my repair.
  • Our coached swim group has expanded the hour swim to an optional 1.5 hours. We've been together a year now and it's wonderful to just show up and get it done under the watchful eye of Coach Tom. 
  • I'm not a big scale user, but I did get on the one at the gym the other day to confirm I am at my typical January weight - about 4-5 lbs up from race weight - to be expected, but also to be addressed.
  • Both kids have already missed school due to some vague viral headache-y thing. So far I have escaped it. Other than that they are doing really well in school, activities, and with friends. 
  • In terms of schedule, I am turning electronics off at 9 pm and getting in bed by 10 pm (weekdays) and it's paying off. I know I have to stick to this otherwise it's a slippery slope into chronic fatigue.
  • It looks like I'm back to around 10-11 hours of training (swim/bike/run/gym) and it's seeming manageable so far. 
I hope you are getting back into good habits and fitness and looking forward to spring as I am!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Recharged for the New Year!

I am back from a MUCH-needed general break from the busy-ness of life - and that included a short hiatus from the blog. I was feeling pretty fried from a high-paced year that included a number of extra little stresses along the way. I was also a little burned out on the computer.

Some time away from structured training plus the fun of the holidays and a 2500 mile family road trip to Florida reset me for 2015. Yesterday was my first day back on Coach Jim's training program and I was ready.

Two months without a coaching plan didn't mean I didn't keep active. Here's a few things I've been up to:

Group swims and the 12 Days of Christmas Workout with Coach Tom

Janet (front) and I knocked out a 4000y workout on Tuesday that we were pretty proud of! 

Runabout Sports Frosty 5K 

 ended up being Frosty 3-miler due to course change because of mud.

With Sarah Langlinais and Marcia Wright

Christmas with family

 The annual Christmas Eve gathering at Oma's house.

awwww! Saki liked her presents!

2500 mile family road trip from Virginia to Key West and back

Stopped at the Kennedy Space Center and spent two nights at Cocoa Beach 

Seeing the Space Shuttle Atlantis in person was really incredible.
Amazing what mankind can do. 

Swimming in the saltwater pool with Spencer our first night
in the Florida Keys (Islamorada) 

Completed Runabout Sports December 100 mile challenge!
finished the 100 miles total (plus an extra mile)
at the Southernmost Point in Key West, FL!

Incredible snorkeling on the coral reefs of the Keys - at Alligator Lighthouse. 
Pictured with Grant who switched to goggles at this point. 

Got a fair amount of relaxing in...and read two awesome books -
'The Art of Racing in the Rain' and 'Without You There is No Us'.

Listened to 'Serial' and 'Food' with family along with other assorted podcasts. 

 Kayaked on the Turner River in the Everglades. 
There's no way an airboat could top this experience.

Swam with Grant in the Gulf off Sanibel Island and saw two dolphins swim very close by!
(and I freaked out a little)

Collected shells (well, Robert and Spencer did most of this)

Ate a lot of local seafood. Mmmmm!

And thus begins 2015!

Yesterday was a swim and a benchmark run in very cold temps that necessitated a scarf!! 
94 days until the first race of the season. 

Are you feeling recharged and ready?? I hope so! Let's do this!