Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pushing Pills

I'm not normally a supplement kind of person. In fact, I'm the person who normally forgets to take a multi-vitamin for days on end, so I'm the least likely athlete to be taking lots of L-Whatevertine and D-Ribowhatsis. I have to take iron daily for my pernicious anemia, but that's about all I can manage. With one exception.

On the recommendation of my chiropractor, who I see at least a few times a year when everything starts getting all out-of-whacky in my neck, back, shoulders, or wherever, I started taking this enzyme supplement stuff called Wobenzym, especially at times when I my muscles were more sore than usual. I was amazed at how much better I felt, especially after hard workouts. But I really didn't know how much of a difference it was making until I ran out. Within a couple of days I literally felt like I had aged ten years. I woke up stiff and it took a couple of hours to shake out. By the time I had gotten around to picking up another bottle a week later, I was sold, an enzyme junkie.

Then one day I stepped off of our deck and my ankle turned underneath me. Coming off of a higher plane, it really turned my ankle hard. I was sure I'd be out of training for a week, maybe several weeks, it hurt so badly. By coincidence, I had a chiro appointment that morning and I asked him what he recommended besides the usual ice, elevation, rest. He said to start taking several Wobenzyms every three hours. By evening time, my ankle felt remarkably good. By the next morning there was no swelling or noticeable pain or stiffness whatsoever. By the next day, I was running six miles. I've since recommended this stuff to people I know who have had muscle injuries and everyone has sworn by it. I have no connection to the Wobenzym people whatsoever, just passing on something that really works well for me, especially for injuries.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Do We Ever Wear Regular Clothes?

So I'm hanging out my laundry and realizing that the line is full of four karate gis, along with obis and karate t-shirts, plus five pairs of biking shorts (his-n-hers), running shorts, Miss A's dance leotards, camis, tights and "dancer pants" (in case you wouldn't know they are "dancer pants", they say "Dance!" in big pink letters down the legs), six technical t-shirts, three running bras, and eighty-five million mismatched socks. Oh, and one pair of capris, two non-workout t-shirts and a few pairs of underwear (which Miss A. and Mr. M. both insist I hang in the middle of the laundry so that they won't be "humiliated" by anyone walking through our backyard who might happen to glance up and see them.)

I think this family only wears real clothing on a semi-regular basis. Well, my hubby does have to don suits and/or business casual when he flies, but he washes and irons that stuff himself, thank god. One nice thing about marrying a former military man is at least he can iron, since I never learned how. And why bother, when I never wear real clothes anyhow?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Little Blue (ICE)

I have been told that Mercury is in retrograde. I have no idea what that means, but it's supposedly bad juju for all of us until Mercury turns around and starts heading through the zodiac the right direction. Supposedly, this retrograde business screws up all kinds of things like, say, hard drives (Mercury especially relates to all things regarding communication, like computers and such). So now I know why my hard drive went kaput, I blame Mercury. And since today pretty much went down the toilet at 10:49 am, I think I'll blame Mercury for that one, too.

In karate class today we were doing flag sparring as our game at the end of class. This involves everyone sticking a small flag in their belt and then you run around trying to steal everyone else's flag before they can get yours. Apparently, I am getting somewhat of a reputation in class for being, well shall we say just a wee bit competitive at this sort of thing. You know you're trouble when the teenage boys start cheering when you are selected to be on their team. So I can't help it, I'm a gigantic kid at heart. A gigantic kid with an even larger competitive streak (my previous post about taking the easy road with Coach Joy notwithstanding). So there I was running around like a crazy fool trying to grab other people's flags when this guy and I face off. He lunges for my flag, I lunge for his (remember they are tucked into belts at waist level). My right eyeball comes directly into contact with his lunging hand, it's shiner time for me.

Luckily I managed to get some ice on it quickly, head for home (with my head feeling like it was splitting in two the whole way) and down some arnica to help with the bruising. A friend came and took my kids over to their house to play and I lay down on the couch and promptly went to sleep! This is a very unusual occurrence. Aside from my pregnancy-induced narcolepsy years ago in which I famously fell asleep in meetings at work, I can count on my fingertips the number of times I have slept in the middle of the day. Even Ironman training could hardly induce my body to take a much-needed nap. Now my husband can and will fall asleep the second he sits down and stops moving (probably a holdover from his Army days, that), but me? No way. Sometimes I think though when your body goes through some kind of shock or brief trauma, it lets you check out for awhile and so I didn't wake up for over two hours. I'll probably be up until 3:00 am but for the first time in ages we have absolutely nothing to do tomorrow. Nothing! So I will sleep in, and hope my eye doesn't look too Rocky Balboa on me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Meet Coach Joy

When I was in Florida during the week preceding Ironman Florida, I had several conversations with other athletes (regular ol' age-groupy type athletes like me, not like Elite, headed-for-Kona-podium types) where they made pronouncements like "Oh, my coach says I have to do a 20 minute run today." or "My coach says I'm not supposed to swim until tomorrow." and sometimes even followed up by the question: "What does your coach have you doing this week?"

My answer: "Whatever the hell I want to!" If the water is blue and perfect and flat and the sun is shining, she wants me to go for a swim. If I feel like I really need to see the first part of the bike course in order to feel good coming out of T1, she wants me to bike. If my legs feel like they need a little shaking out, she wants me to run. See, my coach is Coach Joy, and she wants me to train in a way that brings me...well...Joy!

Really, I got to feeling like I must be the only person doing an Ironman without a personal coach. And the only person not consulting my charts, heartrate monitors, glucose levels, anaerobic thresholds, and god knows what other things they've come up to measure on triathletes. Now don't get me wrong, if these things really float your boat, if it keeps you motivated and totally happy to consult the numbers, the graphs, the periodization bibles, etc. then I think that's all good and fine. But it seems like for so many people, it just looks like it stresses them out. They worry too much, and some of the joy leaches away from what is really an amazing thing - the ability to move your body through space under your own power with grace and speed.

I admit it, I've been thinking about getting a coach this year. It seems like kind of a strange thing to do after 21 years in the sport, but I've come to recognize that I've still got some speed left and could be faster if I actually maybe say planned my workouts with some sort of organization and goal in mind. But my fear is that if I hire Coach Jim with all of his numbers and tables, Coach Joy might just abandon me. If I start focusing on just becoming faster, I'm not sure if I'll get as much out of it as I do right now.

Last night I took a wonderful bike ride. I had gone out to the river with my kids and a friend and her kids and she agreed to drive them all home while I took my bike. So I got to ride on roads I'd never been on, and since the bicycling map I just bought to replace my old one turned out to be blank on the actual map side (I need a refund on that one), I just had to go by instinct and hope that the roads would connect where I thought they would and I'd be able to find a route home (I did). It was 7:30 and the sun was slanting in from the West across the fields and everything looked golden and lovely. It took me an hour and 15 minutes to get home in which time I consulted not a watch nor a monitor, but just how my body felt and how hard I wanted to push myself up and over the big hill between the river and town. If, instead of enjoying this lovely ride, I was stressing over the fact that I was supposed to be doing sprints on a flat course or hill repeats or a long slow run or something, I'm not sure if I would've enjoyed it as much as I did.

And that brings me to my theory: Anything done with joy gives you 200% of the benefits of the same action done without joy. Two people could consume the same meal, say a gorgeous Italian dinner with sausage and pasta and a garden salad. One person is savoring every bite, tasting the sun and the soil from the grove that grew the olive oil that they dip their bread in. The other person is worrying about how many carbs are in the pasta. I think the food nourishes the first person's body twice as much as it nourishes the second, even though it has exactly the same nutrients, calories, vitamins, and minerals. I believe exercise is the same. A workout done with joy gives you twice (or more) of the benefit of one done with stress. A workout you want to do can double the results of a workout you feel you have to do. So there may come a time when I'll hire Coach Jim with his times and tables. If I want to qualify for Kona in a few years, I might just give him a ring. But for now, I'm sticking with Coach Joy. Let's see.... what do I feel like doing for a workout today???? The sun is shining and the outdoor pool just opened. I think I'll swim!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Requiem For A Hard Drive

Alas poor hard drive, I knew him well. But he's dead and gone and a new one has (thankfully) taken his place. It'll be awhile before I have even half of the stuff uploaded that I need to, but at least I am up and running and it's a start.

Last weekend was crazy-busy with all of the end-of-term recitals and programs (though we are homeschoolers, everything seems to go with the school calendar for some reason). So I missed the first group open-water swim at the lake last Saturday (funny thing, I couldn't squeeze it in between our karate belt tests, a birthday party, and a my daughter's huge dance performance), but I did manage to make it to my Master's swim group this morning. That ended up being a good thing as I have been in the workout doldrums for more than a week. Everything feels wrong, everything's sore, I'm not working out with enough volume or intensity for it to be overtraining, but it's probably related to overall life intensity and not getting enough sleep to really recuperate. So today's swim was a breath of fresh air. Finally it felt like my body was working right again. All last week it felt like I'd been taken apart by some crazed factory worker and put back together all wrong. Now at least my arms and legs are working in the right directions.

I also took the liberty of ordering myself some new running shoes this week after realizing that the last time I ordered them was early last fall! I usually don't let my shoes get this bad, and I think that's been responsible for much of my leg, hip, knee, and back pains this week. A new swimming suit was also in order as all of the elasticity suddenly failed in my old one, resulting in the straps rubbing my neck raw while the other end of the suit continually trying to crawl upwards in a most uncomfortable manner. And goggles as well, so maybe next week I can actually see something. So hopefully next week, having outfitted myself appropriately and maybe even gotten some rest, I can feel like the athlete I used to be (at least a week or so ago).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bugger Bugger Bugger

Actual cut and paste from my call to Product Support yesterday:

1:15:11 PM Me: My desktop computer has a corrupt system file and can no longer boot even to Windows. The file is c:\windows\system32\config\system

1:16:26 PM Useless Support Person: I understand your concern, not to worry, I will be glad to help you.

(endless rehashing of things I had already tried deleted here...) hour later...

2:14:50 PM Useless Support Person: The system files are corrupted.We are trying to access them, however, it is not going through.
2:15:23 PM Me: yes, that is what I know. That is what I told you *an hour ago*

Arrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. And you know it is a bad sign when, after an hour, Useless Support Person says "Do you any data on this computer that is important to you??"

Needless to say, my computer is toast. I'm posting this from my hubby's computer but I may not be around online much until I (hopefully, without undue loss of life, limb, or data) recover my computer. I probably shouldn't have laughed so hard at J's posts about customer service. I'm singing the same sad tune now....

Saturday, June 02, 2007

And Then Solitude...

It was a beautifully sunny day on Thursday, supposed to hit 90 degrees here, and I realized that school gets out next week, which means the beaches will all get crowded. Time to take advantage of that homeschoolers' free time thing and get the kids to the beach. Actually, we ended up going to this lake right next to the beach with lots of sand dunes around, a favorite place for them to play. We piled the van full of them and their friends, a bunch of sand and water toys and headed for the coast. It was cooler than here, and strands of mist alternately covered the sun and revealed it. The wind picked up and died down so we were freezing one minute and warm the next, but of course the kids jumped right into the lake and swam endlessly, not to mention having sand-mud fights, burying themselves in sand, and finding all sorts of other ways to get sand in every conceivable part of their bodies.

Usually when we go there, I manage to sneak in an open water swim while a friend watches the kids, and this time was no exception. It was a little bit like jumping rope. Your friends are twirling the rope and you're watching it go by, looking for just the right time to jump in. I watched the fog swirl in and retreat, felt the chilly wind blow and abide, and looked for just the right time to jump in that slightly-too-cold (and I didn't bring my wetsuit!) water. Finally it was calm and sunny and I went for it and swam a mile or so around the edges of the lake.

At the start of every open-water swimming season, I somehow manage to forget just exactly how wonderful it is. So every time it surprises me just a little, how the water looks like champagne when the sunlight hits the small bubbles rising off of my hands entering the water, how the splashes sparkle in the air, how smooth it feels to just keep on swimming with no turns and no walls. And then again, how absolutely freaky it is when you run into The Dreaded Lakeweed for the first time each year. I try not to panic and thrash about and get dragged down to the depths by the creeping tentacles of lakeweed, but I swim away quickly nonetheless. Other than the lakeweed though, it's just me out there, in the silence and the sunshine, with the osprey swooping overhead and the tatters of mist blowing by. I felt like I could swim forever, but eventually reluctantly head back to shore. I had a small twinge of sadness when I reached the shore and my Sabre wasn't waiting anxiously there for me. You see, although he was half Labrador, he never liked to swim, and he always felt that I was in imminent danger when I went into the water, so he would hover along the shoreline, fretting and whining the entire time I was swimming. My friends got used to this and I came to just expect it - my furry sentinel watching over me. So it was hard when, for the first time, he wasn't there. I'd like to think that somewhere in the sunbeams hitting the lake, his protective and loving spirit was standing guard still.

After everyone was good and tired out, we piled back in the troop-hauler and headed wearily for home. The kids almost fell asleep in their plates of pasta, and they left a small sandbar in the bottom of the bathtub, but the inaugural beach day was as wondrous as it has always been. Here's to more yards in the great blue solitude.