Saturday, February 23, 2008

Foggy Run

The city was wrapped in a deep fog this morning when I headed out to run with our TNT team. The fog was so thick rolling in from the coast over 40 miles away that you could taste the kelp and the sea foam and the ocean. Traffic lights over deserted streets glowed red for long distances and the chill seeped into my bones and didn't come out for an hour or two after I got home.

Still, the thing that stays with me after every workout with this team is the inspiration. Watching people work hard for a goal, hearing their stories of why they're training or why they want to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, it always warms my heart to the very core. Even on a day wrapped in fog.

Friday, February 22, 2008

So, My Husband Was Punching Me Again

Actually, there was a lot of punching going on, and yelling, and a bit of kicking too. And for this, we got a babysitter? Yep, date night at our house: extra karate class. Tuesday and Thursday evenings the class is taught by the husband and wife who run our dojo, and it's an excellent class. The kids sometimes come, but sometimes don't feel like going more than three times a week. So last night it was just hubby and I. Mostly, I'm not paired with him since we're different belt levels. At the start, I was paired with a young teen who is very very talented at karate, fast on his feet, and very serious. We did this extensive sparring drill to warm up and I was breathing hard he asked me a couple of times if I needed to slow down. Hah! I didn't tell him that at that heart rate, I could go for another twelve hours. These young kids might have speed, but they don't have the endurance of an Ironmom, LOL. But I had to work darn hard to beat him to the punch. Now my feet have blisters from all that turning on the floor. DH and I also got to practice together for awhile - elbow techniques, bunkai, and sparring.

We actually have gone out to dinner together this week, and also to a movie. So beating each other up isn't the only kind of quality time we spend together ;-)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Many people cannot excel, even though they practice a lot, because they lack ability. But the fact that they have made a lot of effort means a great deal. The winner in the match is not always the winner in life." -- Toshiro Daigo, 9th Degree Black Belt in Judo.

When I run, I must keep this in mind...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oh, So That's It!

I was talking to my Master's Swim coach and begging him to watch my stroke. Ever since I modified the "catch" part of my stroke, I knew it would take some time for my arm strength in that specific maneuver to catch up and let me swim efficiently again. But it hasn't seemed to be clicking and I've been slower than ever in the pool. It's been pretty discouraging to tell the truth, because I was hoping that this year I might just participate in a swim meet or two, something I haven't done since college. But I'm slow, slow, slow in the water and everything just feels wrong. I wanted him to take a look and see if he could tell me what was going awry.

Before I could even find a time to get in the pool with him though, he mentioned my ankle injury and asked me if I thought that was the problem. I didn't think so, but on Monday when I swam, I paid close attention to what was going on with my feet. As it turns out, my ankle flexibility on the right foot is almost nil, I'm getting almost nothing out of my kick on that side. Consequently, my arm stroke is all lopsided with propulsion coming with one of my kicks, but not the other. This makes my stroke surge and retreat, giving it a very choppy feel. Additionally, I'm only pushing off of the wall with one foot, completely favoring my other ankle, so I'm getting half the glide off of my turns that I normally do. No wonder I'm swimming so much slower per 100!

I'm so much happier now that I know what the trouble is. I've gotten used to my running being compromised by my ankle, and with over a month off I'm just easing back into that. But I hadn't realized how much it impacted my swimming. Now I know I just have to give it some time. But I wouldn't have realized any of this without my swim coach asking me to give it my attention. So now I just have to have a bit more patience for awhile, and I don't think I'll be sprinting a 100 at a swim meet any time soon!

Monday, February 11, 2008

They're Killing Me! But It's Okay....

365 Day 43: Top of the City
So Saturday was my first day back to running after my ankle injury. We had a Team in Training group run, and I figured I would hang out with the run/walkers and give it a good trial to see how it felt. My running coach though had different plans: hill repeats! Up this hill that overlooks downtown. Fortunately, the ankle feels fine, but oh my aching quads and hamstrings now. That's probably not the best way to "ease back into" running.

Then today our karate sensei hammered us with an abdominal workout from hell, somewhere over 300 reps of various ab exercises. I know really strong abs are imperative for karate, and I actually try to do ab work about 5x a week anyways. But taking a class that's used to doing 30 - 50 reps and ramping them up to 300 in one day is a bit of a shock.

Still, I am impressed with what my body can now do. I was remembering how with both of my pregnancies my abdominal muscles split apart right down the middle. You could lay a chalkboard eraser in the trench down the middle of my stomach where they're supposed to meet up after each of my babies was born. I have a very short torso, so my babies just stuck straight out when I was pregnant, and the ab muscles just separated to accomodate that. I had to start with very slow crunches - one or two only - supporting and holding together my abs with both hands. To come from there to being able to knock off 300 reps with the young people in the karate class feels just great.

I was also reminiscing with our Team in Training crew about how I couldn't run a mile after my 2nd kid was born. It really is true that with incremental improvement, we can do amazing things. Just running a bit farther each time, walking a bit less - it really does all add up. I just know our whole team will do great on race day, because I know they can do it. I've been from there to here, and I know they can too.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Faves & Raves

Favorite Pre-Workout Breakfast: I thought I had posted this one up before, but couldn't find it looking through my archives so here it is (maybe again, maybe not!) Since we have our own chickens, we have tons of lovely eggs all the time. I like eating a high-protein breakfast, since it keeps me from the carb-crash later in the morning, but I get tired of just eggs. I love oatmeal, but it doesn't seem to stick with me very long, within an hour or so I'm hungry or just feeling low in the energy department. So this is my solution:

Robin's Breakfast Oatmeal Custard:

1 Cup Organic Steel Cut oats
2 Eggs
3 Tbs Milk
Cinnamon and Nutmeg to Taste

Cook up the steel-cut oats according to directions. While the oats are cooking, which only takes a few minutes, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon & nutmeg. Pour the cooked oats into the egg mixture in a microwaveable bowl (make sure you use a big enough bowl as this mixture will puff up as it cooks). Stir in any (or all) of the following:

Dried cranberries
Chopped Dates
Dried unsweetened coconut
Walnuts or Pecans

Bake in the microwave for 4:30 (cooking times will vary, but it will get solid looking all the way through). Serve with milk.

Rave: A friend of mine who was training for the Eugene Marathon got hit by a car in a crosswalk two weeks ago. That's bad enough for any ordinary human, but for an avid runner to have a broken leg or two is doubly agonizing. As athletes, we know how dangerous it is to run anywhere near large two-ton hunks of moving metal, but we don't often have a choice. Remember to wear reflective gear and blinkies in the dusk, dawn, and nighttime hours. I believe my Illuminite jacket and headband saved my friend one night - we were on bikes and the car that was going to smash into her only stopped once its headlights hit my jacket - the blinkies on the front and back of her bike were not pointed in the driver's direction at the time. 365 Day 290: Glow Girl

Fave Music on my iPod Right Now: Aman Iman: Water is Life, by Tinariwen. I'm not always a fan of world-beat music, but this band definitely catches the ear and holds on to it. Formed in 1982 in Moammar al-Qadhafi's camps of Tuareg rebels, these musicians take musical roots from their own traditions, and combine it with bluesy guitars for a totally unique sound. The lyrics are mostly in French and Tamashek, but the beats are unescapably good, and the theme of their music is independence for their people.

Fave Book On My Nightstand: The Warrior's Path: Wisdom from Contemporary Martial Arts Masters Despite the cumbersome title, this is a gem of a book with photos and words of fifteen martial arts masters who have dedicated a lifetime to their practice. Many of them were born in Japan in the early part of the 1900s. All of them have decades of wisdom that anyone striving to better themselves in any practice can appreciate.

Favorite Quote: From the above book: "You can easily recognize whether the archer hit the target or not. But this is not what we should be judging for success. Did the archer tackle kyudo with an empty mind, one that will create a healthy body and healthy mind? That is the Way that kyudo is seeking - whether the archer has contributed to a healthy society. Of course there are targets to shoot, to aim for, but hitting the target is not the final goal. In kyudo we say "Shoot at your heart" -- shoot at your conscious thoughts. You yourself must recognize whether you exerted the utmost effort toward the target. How many arrows were shot is not important -- the contents of those arrows is what counts." -- Nobuyuki Kamogawa.

I am absorbing much from this book that is relevant to my own martial arts training, but also to triathlon and other sports, and to my endeavors as a teacher and coach to others.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

And Another

Since my ankle sprain is still keeping me from running (though I did a very very chilly bike ride with my Team in Training team this Saturday - 36 degrees before you figure in the very brisk wind chill, and sleeting rain!), I'm in the pool a lot more these days. Here's another great distance swimmer's workout:

Warm up and then:

6 x 500, Descend x 3 on 8:00 (or interval of choice). 2nd set faster than 1st.

When I do these, I aim to do the first one at a total cruise, then medium, then pretty fast. The second time through, I go about 15 seconds faster on each one than the first time around. By the time you're done, you should feel good and thrashed!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Triathlon Swim Workout

I coached the morning master's this week (5:15 am - eeeeouch!). The workout I put up is a great one for any distance swimmer looking to improve their time in anything from a 500 to an open water mile or more. After a good warmup, this is the main set of 2,000 yards.

2x the following:

The first time through, you go easy on the 50's, and really work the longer distances - they should be swum at your distance tempo pace, the kind of pace you would swim a hard 500 at. Take 10 sec. rest after the 50's, and 20 sec after the longer distances.

The second time through, you swim the 50's hard, and the longer distances at your long distance pace, the pace you would set for a 1500. Take 20 sec. rest after the 50's, and 10 sec after the longer distances.