Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mish Mash

Some alphabet soup of what's sloshing around in my brain today:

First try at the SwiMP3 device was pretty positive. They're bugger all difficult to get on with only one hand (hold down swim cap, pull goggles plus device over head, seems like you need three hands) and they didn't work at all for aquajogging because you lose the sound when your ears are out of the water, but I swam four laps with only one arm and in that span they worked beautifully. I loved how it sounded like the music was just coming from all around me, not little tinny sound being piped into my ears. I'll write up a proper review later, but first time around I'm pretty hooked.

Being injured sucks. I'm such a lousy patient. It's so hard not to do too much. Everything hurts. As it turns out, the broken arm isn't the worst of it. Feels like I pulled some muscles in my shoulder/neck/back and they're all complaining. Possibly even damaged some of the area where my upper ribs connect. The docs didn't look at any of that, despite me saying I got in a pretty bad wreck. At least I got to go to my magical chiropractor. He said it was all too inflamed to adjust anything, but he used his little torture machine electrical current acupressure thingie to help the muscles heal. I feel slightly better.

Packing for vacation helps alleviate the pain. Seriously, it's raining and grey and gloomy here today, but here's the forecast where we're going:

YES!!! Oh I know, I'm not supposed to say on the internet that we're going out of town. But we have some housesitters. And one of them is the Hungarian Street Fighting champion Barnabas Gaspar, who's 6'4" and 300 pounds of MEAN. Okay, just kidding. But we do have housesitters plus the vicious dogs and the attack chickens. So I feel like I can tell you that our daughter is DANCING at DISNEYLAND! Woot! Her dance team will be performing there on the Carnation stage, so exciting. I'm most jealous of the fact that she gets to go backstage underground in all the secret places. I'm a Disney Junkie and I would so love to go with her. But I'll be satisfied with just doing Disney.

It's so Un-PC in my town to like Disney. I live in Crunchy Hippieville and I swear half the kids here can't even watch Disney because Disney screwed up the true story of Pocohantas and they don't adhere to the real Grimm's fairy tales and they objectify women and it's an environmental drain and blah blah blah. Normally my liberal little bleeding heart would agree with all of that except that I Freakin Love Disney. There's no rhyme or reason to it. Hubby and I went there before we had kids. I've gone every few years of my adult life even without the kids as an excuse. This will be my fourth time there with the kids and we're all excited. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride here we come!

Hopefully by the time we get back, I can start gently working out again. I looked through my logbook from last time and saw I started running at about 3 weeks post arm-break. So hopefully it won't be too long before I'm back to training.

Speaking of which, I am kicking around the idea of signing up for IM Coeur d 'Alene. Hubby thinks I shouldn't do it. The course wouldn't be great for me, potential heat is always my nemesis. But let's face it, if I don't do that one, I probably won't be doing any IMs for a couple of years. So do I want to suck it up and face the fire? I've got a week to decide. Stay tuned...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Aquajogging Hell Mitigated By SwiMP3?

Aquajogging. The word itself is anathema to runners and triathletes everywhere. It's like a special level of hell that you get banished to upon injuring yourself, and you can't get out of until you do the appropriate weeks of penance.

Since swimming is currently out of the question, and any water exercise is better than no water exercise, I knew I was going to have to relegate myself to this torture session. So I did the only sensible thing: I ordered a SwiMP3 to make myself feel better. However, I read on the packaging that I'll only be able to hear the music if my head is submerged since the SwiMP3 delivers the sound through bone conduction, not through your ears.

That submersion thing might make aquajogging a bit more challenging.

Alternatively, I can wear earplugs. We'll see if that works tomorrow. Hubby is already salivating over my SwiMP3. You see, he's one of those incomprehensible (to me) humans who does not like swimming up and down and up and down a lap lane over and over and over. Huh. He thinks my new toy will make swimming more fun FOR HIM.

I don't think he's going to get to find out until I'm cleared for the lap lanes myself. Until then, I've loaded everything from Motorhead and X to Flogging Molly and Girlyman and I'm ready to jog my way to oblivion.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Do You Accomplish The "Impossible"?

If you picture an athlete with an Iron Will who challenges her body, accomplishes a task she thought she couldn't handle and succeeds, does the image that springs to mind immediately include someone tanned, clad in lycra, with a race number pinned to the front?

Not all of us are that type of person, and not all of us seek those types of challenges. But all of us can challenge ourselves - our bodies, our minds, and our souls - to reach beyond what we thought we were capable of and to meet that challenge and succeed.

Meet Dorcas Smucker: Writer, Speaker, Newspaper Columnist, Mother to Six, Mennonite, School Principal, and probably many other hats I'm forgetting that she wears. She's one of the best writers I've ever been privileged to know, and if you want to pick up a book that will get you inspired as well as sniffling with sentiment and howling with laughter, look no further than her books Upstairs the Peasants Are Revolting and Ordinary Days.

Dorcas writes a column in our newspaper, Letters From Harrisburg, and this month's was about a physical challenge that she accomplished. As usual, I can't approach her level of eloquence, so you should go and read what she wrote: Accomplishing The Impossible, One Small Step At A Time.

It got me thinking about how many things we classify as "impossible" in our own minds, immediately throwing up roadblocks as we do so. What are we stopping ourselves from accomplishing this very day, just by virtue of thinking "I can't"? Find one thing today, and say to yourself "I can" instead.

And if you don't look like the lycra-clad athlete you think you must be in your head, remember that Iron Moms come in all packages, ages, shapes, and sizes. Iron is what's inside you, that thing that says you won't give up on your goals, and like Dorcas you'll find yourself standing on top of your world, amazed at what you can do.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why Endurance Training Is Not Nearly Enough

I love endurance sports, don't get me wrong.

By virtue of not being very fast, I'm an endurance specialist. I like to go long and you all know I LOVE my swimsuit, my bike, and ... well at least I like trail running. But what does endurance training give you beside endurance itself (mental, physical, sometimes emotional)? Not much. Despite triathlon's three disciplines, it's a very narrow skill set that you acquire for all those hours and hours of training. Just a small slice of the overall fitness pie. And probably not the most crucial piece.

When I came flying off of my bike on Thursday, I was traveling somewhere over 20 miles per hour. My chain came off the sprocket and jammed in my rear derailleur, stopping my back wheel cold, I hurtled about eight feet through the air before the first part of me struck the pavement.

By all rights, that first part of me should've been my outstretched hands, probably followed by my face, head, and torso. That's the way it usually goes. If it had indeed unfolded that way, I would probably be typing this from a hospital, while the doctors debated about whether it would be better to rebuild my jaw first or do the skin grafts.

But I had several things going for me that the average bike crash victim doesn't. Many of them are contained in the pie chart above. I had the agility, flexibility, dexterity, balance, and coordination to duck my head toward my right shoulder, curl my left arm in front of me, and execute a near-perfect martial arts forward roll. As this was happening automatically with my body taking over for my mind, my mind was free to contemplate all sorts of things.

If you've ever been in a situation of heightened danger, you know all about the relativity of time. The absolute slowest four seconds of my life occurred on a skydive between the moment when I knew that my main parachute was malfunctioning and the point that my reserve parachute was fully open above my head. It's amazing how much you can observe and contemplate in such a span of time. I could note the runway numbers painted on the pavement directly beneath me, debate whether or not I should try to move myself away toward the much-softer-than-asphalt earth should my reserve parachute fail to open, mentally review the last time my reserve parachute was packed and by who, think about the last things I'd said to several loved ones and evaluate whether or not they were what I'd want to leave with them as my final words, and hope that my mother didn't read my teenage diaries if she should go through my apartment after my demise.

So when I say that while I was flying off of my bike, I had time to think about the fact that I was hurtling toward the lane of oncoming traffic and I should really twist my body and roll on my left side instead of my right, but damn, that's my bad arm so I better make sure I tuck it under myself so I don't re-dislocate my wrist, you'll know I had plenty of time to figure that all out. And so roll on my left side I did, taking me away from my trajectory into the oncoming lane, and landing me back up on my feet. At first, I thought I'd gotten away scot free. I didn't have so much as a scratch on me that I could see, other than a small dime-sized dot of road rash on my elbow.

My elbow.

Huh. Now standing there my fingers were starting to go numb. Not good. Yep. I dinged it just hard enough to re-break it in the same spot I did last year. That's a bummer for sure, but not a catastrophe.

I was talking with a friend yesterday who said they'd just met a woman who survived a similar bike crash. Her face looked like it had recently met a belt sander. So for this, I can thank my martial arts instructors and my dedication to pursuing overall health and fitness, not just a narrow band of endurance sports.

Later, when I got home and started to take off my shirt, feeling a bit bruised and tender, I noticed this interesting pattern of rash/bruising across my back. Evidence that I indeed executed a roll that distributed the impact of my crash in a lateral line from left shoulder to right hip. I don't normally post half-naked photos of myself (though I suppose that blogs who do get far more traffic than mine, LOL), but I am justifiably proud of this rash pattern (so mild, it didn't even tear through my shirt).

Eight of the twelve pieces of the Fitness Pie above helped save me from severe injury. Coupled with my helmet, they possibly saved me from concussion or coma as well. Only my endurance, stamina, strength, and power were not called into play. However, as I had only my own two feet to transport myself (cradling broken arm and carrying my bike bag) to first the doctor's office (1/3 mile down the road) and eventually home (2+ miles away), my endurance did also help me out in the end.

We never know what trials life will bring us. Are we ready to face all of them? If we had to lift a heavy object off of a family member after an earthquake to save their life, could we? If we had to walk 20 miles to safety while carrying our children or possessions, could we? If we had to make a split-second decision to roll away from an oncoming vehicle, would our body comply?

Ahead of me is yet another road of healing and rehabilitation. But just like last time, when my body has recovered, I'll be looking at that whole pie and making sure I'm ready to face what life throws me.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Short And Not Very Sweet At All

I broke my arm today.
Yes, the same arm.
In the same place.
This time riding a bike.
This time in June.
Right when I want to be out training and racing.
It sucks.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Old MacDonald Ate Some Grass-Pastured Free-Range Beef

My mom sent me this cartoon last week. I love it! How many people these days connect their food with where it comes from? How many see the conditions that their dairy cows live in, or view the confines of their omelette's crowded chickens?

Whenever I hear that the only answer to the horrible horrible ills of factory farming is vegetarianism, I want to scream. It's not an either-or equation: it's not eat meat and support CAFO-raised, GMO-infested unhealthy inhumane meat production or never eat meat again. I've looked my hamburger in the eye, and it looked like a happy grass-munching cow.

On the flip-side, when I see people starting to eat Paleo that are not concerned with where their meat comes from or what their meat was eating when it was alive, I feel like they're only getting half the picture. If your cow ate grain, your hamburger is not the same as mine. Period.

I feel a big post coming on about why I'm no longer a vegetarian, but that will have to wait for another day.

Monday, June 06, 2011

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get......Singing???

I'd like to say that this weekend's lake swim was wonderful, beautiful, peaceful, and fun. The sun was shining (after weeks of hideous rain, that alone should've made rainbows come out my ears), the lake was smooth, and I had eight of the funnest people in the world to swim with. I wish I could say I enjoyed myself, but I can't.

Even after twenty-five years of triathlons and open-water swimming, I can still have a day in the water that leaves me feeling panicked, exhausted, cold, and gasping for breath. I can honestly say that this was one of the toughest swims I've ever done.

And I really didn't expect that. Not at all.

Maybe it was the fact that the water was super cold. Like take-your-breath-away cold. Maybe it was that my bad arm was achey from Thursday's karate practice where we did a lot of joint locks. Maybe it was the fact that I ran out of iron pills and forgot to buy any more so my anemia has been creeping up on me. Maybe it was all that. But I flailed, I gasped, and for an hour of swimming I fought that panicky TURN AROUND NOW brain directive.

So how did I get myself through it? By singing cheesy Turn-of-the-(19th)-century songs. I grew up in a family that had an old-fashioned Melodrama theatre in a touristy Gold Rush town. So I know all the words to Daisy, Daisy, 5'2" Eyes of Blue, or I'm Looking Over A Four-Leafed Clover by heart. I can sing harmony on Down By The Old Mill Stream, or dance the Charleston to Dark Town Strutter's Ball. I pulled them all out of my head and more as the minutes scrolled by and one arm after another followed each other into the water, and I told myself in my head not to panic every time I breathed and it didn't seem like I was getting enough air.

I've never been so relieved to stand on the shore. Most of the time, I love the water so much you practically have to drag me away, but this time was different. In sports, we all face moments like this. Times when we really just want to lie down and quit. We all have to reach deep inside for some mental reserves to make it through. But that's when you know you're really an athlete, when you face the fire and keep on going.

Here's hoping the next lake swim will have me singing a different tune!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Three Long Course Swim Workouts

The summer is almost upon us, at least it felt that way today. And for some of us that means access to 50 meter pools (outdoors is a real bonus). Sometimes workouts designed for a 25 yard or 25 meter pool don't work all that well in a long course pool (how exactly do you do a 100 IM? What about those 25 yard sprints?), so I like to think up some good ones especially tailor-made for the long course. Here's this week's 50-meter workouts. Don't worry, if you have a 25 yard or 25 meter pool, you can do these workouts there too!

Long Course Workout #1:

300 Swim
8 x 50: IM Order: Kick 1st half of the 50 then switch to Swimming
300 Pull
4 x 100: Closed-Fist Drill 1st 50/Swim 50


4 x 100 @ 2:00 interval: At a distance pace. Note your average pace for these and use it in the following set as your DP:

600, rest :60
Broken 600: 3 x 100 at DP, rest :15
                     2 x 100 at DP – 5 seconds, rest :15
                     1x 100 at DP – 10 seconds

EZ 50 Recovery

400, rest :60
Broken 400: 2 x 100 at DP, rest :10
                     2 x 100 at DP – 5 seconds, rest :10      

150 EZ

4000 Total

Long Course Workout #2:

200 Swim, Kick, Drill, Pull, Swim

3 x 150 Build each (start slow and get faster throughout the 150)


14 x 50 @ 1:00
    Odds: Sprint
    Evens: Recovery

EZ 200

14 x 50 @ 1:15
    Odds: Stroke
    Evens: Freestyle
EZ 200

14 x 50
    Odds: Catch-up
    Evens: Work on 2-beat kick

EZ 200

4150 Total

Long Course Workout #3:


500 Swim
200 Breaststroke
500 Pull
200 Breaststroke


3 x 800, rest :90, Each Faster

200 EZ

4000 Total

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Paleo Parenting Is Not Always Paleo Purist

Paleo seems to have hit the tipping point, it's exploding all over the internet. I love all of the Paleo blogs, #Paleo twitter feeds, and informative articles online these days. Great recipes abound and there is plenty of support and information out there. If I get bored or need some food inspiration, it's easy to find a new recipe or the some great articles on nutrition from an evolutionary standpoint.

But, most of the Paleo folks are twenty-to-thirty-something year olds who only have themselves to worry about. Going Paleo is simple, right? You get some meat and some veggies, cook it up or make a Big Ass Salad. Some fruit for dessert and you're good to go. But what if your husband doesn't want to eat that way, and what if your kids eat something completely different? Changing the way your family eats isn't always as simple as just wishing it were so. Even if you feel like they should eat differently, they actually might have a mind of their own. And I'm here to tell you that making three separate dinners is a real PITA when you're a busy mom.

My kiddos are now 11 and 14. They're no longer malleable toddlers who eat what mom says they should. And they're often out and about without me these days, clearly what they eat is no longer 100% in my control. So trying to entice them to eat more paleo has been about finding ways to cook something similar to what they normally might be eating, but in a new way. Fortunately, my kids are pretty game to try my culinary experiments (steamed cauliflower as a pasta substitute went over surprisingly well). And fortunately, they grew up eating a lot of veggies and fruits. It doesn't hurt that they're allergic to cow's milk, which means they've never really eaten most processed food.

Unfortunately, I was a vegetarian when they were little, which meant that they pretty much got indoctrinated with the Veggie philosophies and it took me awhile to first explain and then help them understand why I all of  a sudden felt that eating animals was A-OK (it helps that we buy local humanely-raised meat).

Sometimes, a Paleo meal that satisfies everybody ends up being a Mostly Paleo meal. For instance, we decided yesterday that in honor of the crappy wintertime rainy and sleety cold weather we've been having, we would just pretend it was actually June (instead of the February that got shipped here on accident) and have a summertime meal. Asa wanted Sloppy Joes, corn on the cob, and watermelon. Yum!

Since both the kids are eating gluten-free right now (hey, it's a step in the right direction), we decided to forgo the buns and just have the Sloppy Joe hamburger stuff in a bowl (we couldn't decide if that was the Sloppy or the Joe). Mixing up some local grass-fed hamburger with organic tomato paste (no sugar added) onion, garlic,  paprika, Bragg's amino acids, cumin, and chili powder with a bit of honey for that sweet Sloppy Joe-like flavor came out pretty darned good if I do say so myself. We thumped a bunch of watermelons at the store 'til we found one we liked (I know that's not a local fruit this time of year, but we splurged).

That left corn on the cob. Gasp! It's not Paleo. I could've said no, we're not eating that. Or I could've gotten some for the kids and not eaten any myself. But they would've been disappointed, this I know. It would've ruined the fun little fake-summertime atmosphere we had going. So what did I do? Ate the darned corn on the cob of course! With lots of yummy organic butter, and some cool pink sea salt and multi-colored ground peppercorns. And it was delish. Sometimes the things you do for your heart and your head and your mood and your family are more important than what you do for your stomach. Of course, if I was eating the standard American diet of All Corn All The Time my health would suffer. But on an early June night with some giggling kids and the rain crashing down outside our windows? Well it was just about perfect.

A Must-See IFor Every Athlete

Here's the motivational speech of all time. For athletes, kids, and anyone anywhere:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

8 Weeks To Your First Triathlon: Weeks 5 & 6

I have some sad news to announce first off, Iron Girl has cancelled their Portland Triathlon (I don't have any more information than that, I'm sorry). That's the triathlon that this plan was written for, though it will work for any sprint triathlon that you might feel like training for. If you're part of the group that was training for Iron Girl in Portland, I can recommend the Luna Bar All Women's Sprint Triathlon on July 30 instead. I  have coached women in years past who have done that race and they have had a positive experience. It's a course that I have done many times, it's very flat and scenic, with most of the run on trails through the park.

If you transfer over to another race, just re-start the training schedule 8 weeks out from the race, or alternatively, you can complete the training schedule at 8 weeks, then add on a few more weeks of training at the same or slightly longer durations as those found in the last few weeks of the plan. Just don't forget to follow the Taper (Week 8) so that you are rested and ready for your race.

I will be training for and competing in Iron Girl's Lake Tahoe Triathlon on September 18, and I will be giving away a race entry for that race as well as some goodies, so stay tuned if you are looking for an exciting fall triathlon!

Now on to the training plan!


DAY 1: BIKE 10  Miles

DAY 2: 2 x (300 + 50 Breaststroke) + 2 x 100

10 Minute Warmup
300,  rest :60
50 breaststroke, rest :30
300,  rest :60
50 breaststroke, rest :30
2 x 100, rest :30
10 minute cool down.

DAY 3: RUN 2 x 1 Mile
Warm  up  with 10 minutes of running or run/walk, do joint rotations
Run: One mile (1600 meters or 4 laps at a track), time your mile with a watch, rest 90 seconds

Then run 1 mile at the same pace, rest 90 seconds
Cool down with 10 minutes of running/walking

DAY 4: SWIM  8 x 100
10 minute warm up
Swim 100 and time it with your watch or the pool clock
Swim 7 x 100, rest :60
10 minute cool down.

DAY 5: Mini BRICK Transition Practice

Set up a “transition area” at your house, garage, a track, or even in the back of your car or van, where you have your running gear handy. This needs to be someplace where you can secure your bike and you can keep coming back to. This is when you start dialing in your choices of gear: what shorts will you wear, what shirt? What goes on easy and feels comfortable?

Warm up  with 10 minutes of running or run/walk, do joint rotations, then:

Bike 3 miles
Transition to your running gear and lock up or stow your bike
Run 1 miles
Bike 3 miles
Run 1 mile
Bike 3 miles
Run 1 mile
Cool down with 10 minutes of running/walking

DAY 6 & 7: REST


DAY 1: BIKE 11  Miles

DAY 2: SWIM 2 x 400
10 Minute warmup
Swim 400 (16 lengths of a 25 yard or meter pool),  rest 2 minutes
Swim 400, rest 2 minutes
10 minute cool down.
DAY 3: RUN 6 x 800 Meters
Warm  up  with 10 minutes of running or run/walk, do joint rotations
Run: Repeat 6 times:

800 Meters (2 laps around a track or ½ mile), rest :60
Cool down with 10 minutes of running/walking

DAY 4: Bike 12.5 Miles
This is it, the race distance. After today, you KNOW you can do the bike course!

DAY 5: SWIM  9 x 100
10 minute warm up
Swim 100 at your medium (distance) pace and time it with your watch or the pool clock
Swim 8 x 100, rest :60
10 minute cool down.

DAY 6: Run 3 x 1 mile
Warm up  with 10 minutes of running or run/walk, do joint rotations
Run 1 mile, rest :60
Run 1 mile, rest :60
Run 1 mile, rest :60
Cool down with 10 minutes of running/walking