Sunday, October 31, 2010

Crazy Clown Feet

I can't help it, I love shit that looks crazy. So of course, I really want a pair of these Asics Noosa triathlon shoes. Unfortunately, with my size 11 waffle-shaped feet, I would like like I was trying out for a job as a circus clown. But still, who can resist?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween-Theme Swim Workout

Here's my swim workout for the Masters this weekend, on a theme of Halloween. Fun! 

DRILL: One-arm Free, other arm trailing

2  X  (200 S, 100 Dr  100 K  200 P)

3 x

100 Hard
100 Alternating stroke/Free by 25s
100 Legs: Kick
100 Light and Easy
100 Over/Under
100 Wait 10 seconds then sprint to catch the next person
100 Easy
100 Each Stroke Once (IM)
      100 Nearly All Out
      )  r. 15

200 Cool

4100 yards

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Found It!

Thanks to Kristin's comment on my last post, I found the watch. Yep, it was in a small zippered compartment of my swim bag. Thanks Kristin! I don't know why I thought that would be a place I would remember I put it. All I can say is that with hubby out of town this week, my schedule (and thus brain) have been on overload. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Well Meaning, But Ultimately Flawed

I distinctly remember putting my watch somewhere. My running watch, the one with the heartrate monitor. The one I use All The Time. I remember putting the watch this someplace and thinking to myself "this is different from where I normally put it, but I'll remember this because it makes more sense to keep it here." Yes, I remember thinking how much sense it made to put it in that place. That someplace that I now don't remember. So if you were a watch, and you were someplace that made a lot of sense, and you were owned by a frazzled mom who's so busy this week her head is going to explode but that would like to find her favorite watch, where would that someplace be?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Trying to break the sugar addiction... again

How is it that a person can be in amazing shape, be eating so darned healthy, have just done a half-Ironman, take a week off afterwards (I deserve it, right?) to just slack off of training and maybe even have a piece of cake at my daughter's birthday party and BLAMMO! Within days I'm back to being addicted to sugar.

You know those freaky meth ads?

This would be me on sugar if I let it go on for a couple more weeks. My kids would find me passed out on the floor after crawling desperately toward the laundry cupboard where I've been hiding the Lindt white chocolate coconut bars... This stuff is Addictive with a capital A. No wonder we have health problems as a nation. It's everywhere, and never more so than this time of year. Just try to walk into a store without being overwhelmed by the Halloween Candy aisle. At least I don't work in an office anymore where people bring in their leftover 83 tons of the stuff and leave it in the lunchroom for other people to feed their addictions. But one of the moms of our kids' robotics team brought in caramel corn for a snack last week, and let's just say I'm glad that six teenage boys were clustered around the bowl because I seriously might've eaten the whole thing.

I'm posting this for accountability. It's been a month since the race and I need to get myself back with the right eating habits. I feel just yucky and I know if it continues it will be a downward spiral. I'd like to say I'm throwing away the rest of the Lindt white chocolate bars, but the truth is I ate them. So I guess now's as good a time as any to not buy any more, right? Right?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm So Zen I Can't Stand It

Those of you who have met me would probably not utter the words "zen" and "Robin" in the same sentence. I don't inspire that kind of warm, fuzzy, calm feeling. More like "zanily energetic" on a good day, and "close to psychotic" on a bad one. My former boss once confided to me that when he called on one of my references, he was told "Robin is an unstoppable force of nature. She's okay as long as you don't get in the way." I'm still not really clear on whether that was a good reference or a bad one.

I blame it all on my mother. No really. When she was pregnant with me, her doctor (in all of his 1960s doctorly wisdom) didn't want her to gain too much weight. Like no more than 15 pounds. I myself gained approximately 280 pounds when I was pregnant. Well, maybe 60 or 70, but it felt like 280. So back to this doctor. He prescribed her some appetite control pills. Which we all know back in 1966 were probably something like, oh, amphetamines. Yep, I came out looking for that energetic high. I was just lucky to get hooked on exercise, not something worse.

By the way, I don't really blame my mom. She's awesome. Really. Our kids adore her, she does cool things like kayaks and hikes, and she wears hats like this that fold out and double as a fan (really!). I totally forgive her for listening to her idiot doctor back in 1966, and also for that time she made me go to the county fair with her when she was dressed in a chicken costume (yes, I've finally worked through that one in therapy), but really I had no chance of being normal. None whatsoever.

Which is all to say that I don't usually inspire feelings of zen in people. Except that this week, I'm just all over the zen thing. First of all, okay I do use the word zen when I talk about swimming a lot. Because in order to swim well, you have to "turn the eye inward" as they say in the zen business and really notice what you're doing. Lots of people just go swim laps, go back and forth and back and forth at the same speed with the same technique and never really get any better. In order to swim better, you have to start by paying attention. So when Julie used the word Zen when she blogged about our first swim coaching session, it didn't surprise me all that much. Fortunately, she's like a zen master already or something and was able to incorporate the whole gliding and stretching thing out and decreased her swim golf score by an astonishing amount just in one pool session.

Then, just while I was basking in the whole glow of someone actually grokking what I was trying to tell them in the pool and getting all zen with it, I get an email from a Buddhist magazine asking to use one of my photographs to accompany an article. It's always exciting to me when my photos get published, and I'm honored that they think it's worthy to go with such introspective thoughts.

That all collides nicely with this week, which has already become one of the shit-craziest scheduling nightmares in my parenting life so far, and has ominously shown itself to be the harbinger of things to come. My daughter is taking seven dance classes (no that's not a typo), plus theatre, choir, horseback riding, and French. My son is taking Spanish, training at the brown belt level in karate (lots of time at the dojo) and I'm coaching his robotics team. These activities are in all sorts of different places. Throw in my coaching gigs at three different pools, taking karate myself, and teaching kickboxing, and you've got twenty-five (I counted) different places I need to be each week. Those are just the scheduled things, that doesn't account for the playdates, field trips, and unscheduled appointments that might crop up. So needless to say, if I'm going to feel any measure of zen in the coming months, I'm going to need to create it myself. So now it's after midnight, I'm done blogging for now and I'm off to meditate my way to a state of inner peace. Namaste and goodnight.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Toe Shoes: The Trend of the Year??

I admit it, I'm a numbers geek. There's no possible way I could have a blog without looking at the stats. Frequently. Who visits here, where they come from, how they got here, why the heck they're interested in what I have to say. It used to be that the biggest keyword searches from Google and Bing would be for swimming workouts, my triathlon checklist, or recipes. But those days are gone.

For now is the Time of the Toeshoes. Vibram has captured the fascination of the running community and increasingly of the occasional athletes and wannabe runners. It used to be that when I wore my Fivefingers in public, people gawked, stared, and asked me what the heck they were. Now they only ask me if I run in them, and how far, and what I think of them. Because of course they're thinking of getting some. Because apparently everyone in this universe is thinking of getting some. Maybe I exaggerate just a tad, since I live in the running capital of our galaxy. So maybe in, say, Burnt Corn Alabama or Hoople North Dakota people would still gawk and stare at my funny feet. But there's no denying, there's a trend in the making here.

Check out my list of most popular Search keywords and tell me what you think:

1. running toe shoes
2. running shoes with toes
3. toe shoes running
4. toe running shoes
5. ironmom
6. toe shoes for running
7. new toe shoes
8. sugar hangover
9. short models
10. gym shoes with toes

Yes, I too am curious about those people who found my blog via searching for "short models" or "sugar hangover". I'm not sure I have even written about short models, but maybe I should start dreaming up more posts about them. Maybe if I posted a photo of short models wearing nothing but running toe shoes, my blog would be the most popular in the universe. Or maybe I'll just keep writing about triathlon and training and stuff. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Topping the List of Cool Events I Wish I Could Do

Online friend Allison Kaplan Sommer (check out her very interesting blog on "Motherhood, the Middle East, and life on the cultural fault line between U.S. and Israel"  AN UNSEALED ROOM) just did the Sea of Galilee Swim, which is apparently in its 57th year and is the largest amateur sports event in Israel. It's either a 1.5 or 3.5 k swim in one of the most historic bodies of water in the world. Doesn't it look beautiful?? So it's definitely way up there on my list of things I'd love to do (along with visiting Israel of course). Alas, this recession thingy is disrupting all of my plans to be a world traveler and to take our kids adventuring to places like this. That and the fact that I am a couple of chapters shy of my book proposal, on my way to being a famous author, you know? Yes, I know you don't get rich by being a famous author, unless you're like JK Rowling or something. But a girl can dream...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pushing Daisies

I love almost everything about my Vibram Fivefingers. I like to wear them for walks (just like going barefoot, but without the trips to the ER when you step on broken glass!), on the pool deck (like aqua socks, but comfortable and with toes), when I'm teaching kickboxing (keeps my feet from getting roughed up every time I pivot on the floor, yet flexible and thin enough to feel like I'm kicking in bare feet), and of course running. I've worn them so long now that if I wear my old Asics running shoes, I can literally feel how they're trying to make my running form go all wonky.

The only thing I really don't like about the Five Fingers is how whenever I run on grass, I get flowers stuck between my toes. No really! I'm not kidding. Okay, so maybe it doesn't look quite like this, but I regularly have to stop and pick daisies and dandelions out from between the tootsies. As it turns out, when you run barefoot your toes actually kind of spread out just before you make contact with your midfoot/forefoot (as opposed to the heel-striking style of running that's more typical in cushioned running shoes). And when your toes spread out, they collect some flora along the way. I guess if that's my only complaint, it's not so bad. On fields that have been recently mowed or dirt or bark paths, I don't really have too many problems with the flowers. Only on the weedier patches is it an issue.

Check out this interesting video on the science and history of barefoot running. In the last part of the video (about 4:30 in), you can see the slow-mo on a treadmill of a barefoot runner. You can easily see the daisy-plucking part of the stride when you watch how the toes operate. It's fascinating to think how differently even your toes react when you run barefoot.

And by the way, if you are going to buy some Vibram Fivefingers shoes, make sure you get them from a reputable dealer. There are all kinds of ads going around on the internet for counterfeit varieties. A friend of mine bought some on a "great bargain" and the seams were so poorly sown, he got really bad blisters. Clearly counterfeits. Also, if you're converting to barefoot running, be sure to take it reaaaaallllllly slow. I've heard of more than a couple people giving themselves bad running injuries from too much barefoot mileage too soon. If you're not used to barefooting it, your feet need time to build up the muscles and ligaments that would be stronger if you spent your life barefoot as our ancestors had.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Punching Things, With Julie

So Julie, from Chubby Mommy Running Club came over to my garage/gym yesterday for some coaching - ostensibly aiming to do a triathlon in the spring. But somehow one thing led to another and we ended up punching things (well, things like my punching bag at least) and maybe kicking a little bit too. The great thing about spontaneous fitness is you never know what you'll end up doing. A few laps around a track or a session with the boxing gloves. Having fun with exercise is the single most important thing in my book. If you can't have fun and play like a kid, why bother?

Well, let's just say that Julie knows how to play, and brings a lot of enthusiasm to the table. You can see our adventures and misadventures with our impromptu kickboxing lesson in this hysterical video on her blog.

Speaking of spontaneous fitness, this is a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately, what with the winding down of my triathlon season, thinking about what fun things I might do next year (a swim of Crater Lake with our Master's team might just be in the works, wheee!), and of what, really, I want out of my personal fitness goals. Are they serving me? Or am I serving them? What do I want to be able to really do with my body and why? How do other people approach their goals? What things work and don't in order for people to stay motivated? Stay tuned for more aimless ramblings on this subject at some unspecified time in the future.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Precious Precious Days

In October, sunshine is precious. It poured grey rain all weekend. The outdoor pool is only open for 20 more days (but hey, who's counting?) and with Pool Perv gone for good I am pinning my hopes on at least 20 days of mild weather. There's nothing as dear to the heart of an athlete as those last few good weather outdoor workouts in the fall before the rain, the sleet, the hail, the frost, cold, and snow make outdoor runs a test of will and fortitude.

Luckily, I get to go run with @juliejulie tomorrow and the prediction is sunny and 73 for our inaugural run together. Sounds auspicious, no?

I hope you all are enjoying the precious days of fall!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Focus Shift: Black Belt

The triathlon calendar has come to a close. Even with the inauspicious beginning, starting off with a broken arm, it's been a good triathlon season for me. Three top-5 women's finishes in Sprint and Olympic distance and one top-12 in the half-Ironman distance has made it one of my better seasons. Which is good, because next year I'm not sure if I'll have a season at all. Which is kind of weird to say because Robin with triathlons is kind of like pancakes without syrup: you have to wonder what the heck is it good for at all? Luckily, I frequently eat pancakes without syrup, so I can envision that I might also be able to exist without triathlons in my life for a season. It's also highly unlikely that I won't do any tri's next year. There will most likely be a sprint or two at the very least.

But for many reasons (not the least of them financial), my focus needs to shift. And right now, there's only one direction that what remains of my scattered ability to focus on anything will be. I'm this close to getting my black belt in karate. I'm actually about one broken arm away, since I should already have been able to test for my belt this year, if it wasn't for that fateful dog tripping incident. The arm is now healed about 90% for karate purposes, which means I can do most of the necessary training, with the exception of any serious contact on the left arm. I'm hoping to test in March, with a fall-back to June if that doesn't work out. My son Mackenzie is now a brown belt as well and training seriously for his black, so we can do a lot of training together at home. So I will be shifting to at least four days a week of training at the dojo, and more here in our garage at home. Swimming, biking, and running will take a back seat for the foreseeable future, though I can't really see giving any of those up completely.

I will still be coaching my Master's swimmers, so you can expect to see more swim workouts and swim tips here, but I hope no one will mind if I hang up my lycra in exchange for some white cotton pajama-y things for awhile. I'll be following the rest of you triathlete, swimmer, biker, and runner friends vicariously though!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Oooooh, Icky, Icky, Icky

I had to deal with a Perv in the Pool today. Had to report said Perv to the pool manager. Turns out I'm not the first one, there have been several complaints about this guy in the last couple of weeks. The pool manager was thankfully very responsive:  this man will not be back. Sometimes it's hard to be a woman. I hate looking over my shoulder as I bike home, wondering if anyone is following me, especially the creepy guy in lane five.

It's a good reminder to follow our intuition, to be assertive, to take the time to make the complaint. It's one reason that I love the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, as well as Protecting the Gift, his companion book for keeping your kids and teens safe. I like to re-read these books every couple of years. I like to remind myself that it's better to be rude than to be wrong about a dangerous predator. It's better to be the complainer than to be the victim. It's better to be alert than to be lulled into a false sense of security. I don't like to feel paranoid, and I'm not normally the type to worry unnecessarily. But when something or someone feels really really wrong and creepy, it's time to take action.

Saturday Swim Workout: Mind Games

I have to admit, I like tricking my brain. I like playing little mind games that make my workouts go by easier or quicker, even if they're not really easy or quick. That's one reason I like to throw in sets with odd numbers of yards, so that we end up on the other end of the pool frequently. For some reason, it's easier to swim a 225 than a 250, even if it's all just mental.

So with that in mind, here' the swim workout I gave my Saturday Masters this week:

Drill of the Day: 10-stroke catchup. Take exactly 10 strokes of catch-up per 25 yard length. This translates to a actual stroke count of about 13 - 16. If you're under 5'4", you can extend this to 11 - 12 strokes of catch-up and 16 - 19 strokes per length.


300 Swim
100 10-stroke catch-up
100 Swim
6 x 50:  25 10-stroke catch-up, 25 of 13 - 16 stroke freestyle
6 x 50 kick


Main Set:

4 x (125 Distance Pace, rest. 5 sec; 25 EZ, rest 20 sec)
4 x (25 Hard rest 20 sec.;  25 EZ rest 5 sec)
Rounder (rest until the clock reaches the top again)

3 x (225 Distance Pace r. 5; 25 EZ r. 20)
3 x (25 Hard rest 20 sec.;  25 EZ rest 5 sec)

2 x (325 Distance Pace r. 5; 25 EZ r. 20)
2 x (25 Hard rest 20 sec.;  25 EZ rest 5 sec)

3 x 100 IM kick
150 Cool down

4100 yards

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Swimming in Sunshine

For those of you in southern climates, you might not understand how precious our last few outdoor swims are to us northwesterners. At any moment, the clouds could roll in and we won't see the sun for oh, five months or so. So it's imperative that when we have a sunny day in October, we head to the pool. Yesterday I got a wonderful 3000 yards in for no reason whatsoever. I didn't do any drills, any sprints, just some distance sets, some strokes, and whatever else I felt like doing. Like my run this week, it was a swim for the heck of it. Can you tell I'm enjoying my unstructured training time?

Best of all? I'm still getting a tan.

Monday, October 04, 2010

My Run For the Heck of It

When you're training for a big event, every workout has a purpose. It's a tempo run or a hill run or a long bike or an interval swim. Today I ran just for the heck of it. I have no goals in the immediate future, I can just enjoy going out for a run or a bike or a swim just because I want to.

So today, I slung on my Five Finger toe shoes and headed down to the park. I decided instead of running in boring straight lines, I would play slalom with the trees in the park. I ran around one tree and accelerated toward the next, then jogged for a ways then slalomed around the next tree, probably looking like a crazed skier with no snow. But it was fun, and served no purpose whatsoever. Which made it perfect for today.