Sunday, December 28, 2008

Three Days

I've given up chocolate (not to mention all processed sugar) for three days now. Once I went forty days for Lent without chocolate, so I have a vague memory that it's possible. Right now, in the desperate hour of the day's just ugly. The kids built marshmallow snowmen today and melted chocolate in the microwave for hair and to glue them together. I thought I was going to go insane from the smell alone. Now the snowmen are mocking me with their sugary goodness and chocolatey arms. Seriously, is this thing evil-looking or what? It would serve it right if I ate it...

Friday, December 26, 2008


Some folks over at the Trifuel forums are on a 50 Days of Core quest, working out the core muscles every day for 50 days. People are posting before and after photos, so I went off to take my "before" photo today. I have to say I'm a bit horrified. What I noticed is not so much that my abs are in bad shape, they're not. I do a lot of ab work for karate and do it on my own most days too. But it's that they're buried under about 8 pounds of extra sludge. Most of that padding came all at once, when I had a thyroid medicine issue about 10 months ago. I'm missing half of my thyroid, so my metabolism is never a simple issue of "calories in/ calories out". My doc figures I got a bad batch of my prescription meds as my weight shot up, my body temperature fell and my hair started falling out, all familiar symptoms to those of us who struggle with thyroid issues. The big bummer is that when I've had these issues in the past, the weight fell back off after I got my meds under control and this time it just didn't. Part of that was due to the fact that I was struggling with my tendon injury in my foot at the time and not running at all and not swimming or biking hard. Part of it is undoubtably due to the fact that I'm 42 now and my metabolism is just slower in general. Part of it is also probably that I can't seem to give up my morning chocolate habit.

Whatever it is, I first resented those 8 or 9 pounds, and now I've more or less gotten used to them, until of course seeing this photo and being forced to confront them. So now I'm actually posting the photo for accountability's sake, and not only will I be participating in that 50 days of Core thingie, but I'm vowing to give up on sugar for those 50 days as well. I may be sipping a tiny bit of caffeine in the a.m. to make up for my lack of chocolate, and we'll see if we can unbury those abs before the spring sprint triathlon season hits.

After all, I can look at this photo from right before the Ironman in 2006 and be inspired to have this kind of fit body again. The sad truth is that with my metabolism as naturally slow as its always been, with the added loss of much of my thyroid and dealing with meds all the time, it's never been easy for me to get or keep a lean body. It's always a struggle. It's never felt quite fair. I was the chubby child, the plump teen, it shouldn't take training for an Ironman just to get down in the high 150's weight-wise, but that's the way it seems to go for me. So I can rail against the unfairness of it all or just buckle down I guess.

When I hit post in a second, that will lend some accountability to all of this. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Worst Is Not To Come

So I've superstitiously avoided posting anything about this, but I've had this terrible pain in the sides of my abdomen that's come and gone for about two months now. It started when we were in Italy, but then went away. Then it came again a few weeks after we got back and has come and gone since then at seemingly random intervals.

I went to see my doc and he ended up ordering up an ultrasound that looked at just about everything in every organ group in that general vicinity (I'll spare you the details) and found pretty much nothing. That should be reassuring, but when you're still hurting it's more or less not. So I made another appointment and have been googling all kinds of things. From IBS to colon cancer to Polycystic ovaries to whatever, just trying to find something that might resemble what I'm feeling.

The thing is, about the year that Wayne and I got married, my aunt (who was in her 40s) died of cancer. She left behind four school-aged children in this heartbreaking scenario that was reminiscent of that awful scene in Terms of Endearment where Debra Winger's character says goodbye to her kids. My aunt had been to her doctor for months before her cancer diagnosis, only to be told she was suffering from "allergies". By the time she got the cancer diagnosis, it was largely too late. So now that I'm a mom, whenever I've had any little weird pain or twitch, all that she went through comes back to haunt me. I'm not the hypochondriac type, and I'm generally very healthy, but there's always that worry of "what if this is worse than something minor". Couple that with my legendarily high pain tolerance (which, contrary to what people might think, is usually not a good thing, since you often don't know if something is wrong with you until it's REALLY WRONG) and it's been a recipe for a lot of stressful late-night conjecture lately.

So I've got this other doctor's appointment scheduled for next week, but as I was stretching two days ago, hubby noticed how incredibly tight my back was. I'm normally freakily flexible. With his advice, I took myself off to my chiropractor and discovered that I've injured a big muscle group in my back, and that causes all kinds of "referred pain" in the sides of the abdominal area. Phew!

The reason this started on our Italy trip might've had something to do with repeatedly hauling our 50-pound bike-carrying suitcases on and off of multiple trains. Ya think? So the good news is that nothing life-threatening is on my horizon that I know of. And the bad news is that I'm not able to play volleyball right now, and probably won't be running for a week or two either just to give everything time to heal up. I'll be back to see my chiropractor, who when he's treating me I swear could double as a medieval torture specialist. But I can't argue with the fact that all of his poking and prodding and cracking works. I feel a lot better today than I have in weeks.

We'll be hunkered down for an old-fashioned family at-home Christmas this week, so I wish everyone who is celebrating a holiday to have a good one. I'll definitely be remembering to say a prayer of gratitude for my good health and even for my pain and troubles because it reminds me not to take for granted the way my body does so much for me so easily most of the time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If You Could Only Talk to Product Support While Cycling

So I'm still slaving away over the #@! hard drive on my main computer, trying to get it reformatted. And it always galls me when I have to get to the point of calling product support because you know, I actually used to work in the computer industry and fancy myself not a complete novice on these devices (my first day of work at Microsoft in 1988, I arrived at my desk to find a PC in pieces with cards I needed to install, and mind you I had only worked on Macintoshes and mainframes before that!).

So here I am, an hour into a chat session with a product support specialist from heaven knows where on earth, and after succinctly stating my problem:

I quote directly from the chat session: "I have already tried to install Windows from the reinstallation disk, and it doesn't even let me get to the page with the partitions before I get the blue screen of death and the following error:


so then an HOUR into the session after various dorking around, the support person tries to get me to run install from the reinstallation disk, and after my protestations that I already did, they make me do it again and then ask me what error message I get. I type in the above error code, AGAIN, and finally we can proceed. However, that was half an hour ago, and now I've been bumped up to a supervisor who maybe knows something about something.

If I could only do all of this while on my bike trainer, it wouldn't feel like such a monumental waste of time but I'm stuck sitting here for the duration - 1:30 and counting.

The good news is that I always buy my computers from Dell, and Dell product support has not once failed me, and I'm probably the pickiest support customer on earth. So I have faith that all of these efforts will not be in vain and I will indeed get my hard drive back and operational, eventually...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Million Tiny Laps

It's snowing here, which is cause for much rejoicing among the members of the family under age 13. And actually, I love the snow too, we had a great time sledding, throwing snowballs, and goofing around. But it also means no running down the sidewalks, trails, and other fun outdoorsy kinds of places that I like to run. I did thankfully get my long run in on Sunday, then made it to the pool on the first snowy day, and yesterday I rode my bike on the trainer and watched Intolerable Cruelty with a friend (funny funny), but today I really wanted a run so it was off to the gym and the 1/16th mile track. Which made me feel about like this:

Friday, December 12, 2008


I had to get up and coach the 5:15 masters swimmers this week. Now usually I'm a night owl, not a morning person. So if I have to get up at that kind of hour, the swimmers know they're in for a crazy hard workout.

This is the main set I had them swim

400 Swim
4 x 100 Descend (slow, med, med-fast, fast)
400 Pull
3 x 100 Descend (leave off the slowest 100, so this is med, med-fast, fast)
400 Choice
2 x 100 Descend (med-fast, fast)
400 Freestyle
100 HARD

This was after a good long warmup, with the daily total being about 4500 yards. This is a great set for triathletes, try it sometime and really work those hundreds, you'll feel it afterwards!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When Sports Collide

On Monday night I noticed something very peculiar was going on with my swim stroke. I wasn't pulling much water, and when I paid attention I noticed that I have been tucking my thumbs into my hands. I'm pretty sure that this has something to do with the fact that our green belt blocks in karate are all knife-hand blocks, and I have been learning to tuck my thumbs in for the knife-hand a little too well. Now it takes an effort to keep that thumb out on my swim stroke. Weird!

Then Monday I jammed two of the fingers on my left hand at volleyball, today it was two fingers on my right hand. By the 10:00 karate class, I can't make a fist with either hand. Try explaining to your sensei why you can't do almost anything right in class. But turnabout's fair play because I sucked at volleyball due to the fact that my wrists were hurting from the Jiu-Jitsu wrist locks and arm bars we've been learning in karate these days.

If my sports keep colliding into each other like this, I won't be much good for anything at all!

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Need

There are times in life where my workout might feel like something I want to do, or maybe something I know I have to do but don't particularly feel like doing in that moment. And then there are the times when it's something I Need to do, with that capital "N" on Need.

I don't deal with chaos well. I'm really an introvert of the worst kind. I could possibly be a hermit in another life. It wouldn't bother me to be marooned on a desert island for awhile (as long as I had a couple of good books, and maybe some goggles and a beach towel). I don't know how I ended up being a homeschooling mom, a coach, married to an extreme extrovert who just about busts at the seams if I'm too overwhelmed to talk with him much, and now coaching my kids' robotics team, volunteering at the theatre where my daughter's been acting, etc. etc. For a deserted-island-hermit-type, I'm really in over my head right now.

Which means my workouts have been great. The more I need them, the more intense I can just push and push myself and the better it all feels. Yesterday I rode for an hour and a half, and went for a 40 minute run without blinking an eye. I remember a time when doing a sprint triathlon seemed like an impossibility. Then came a time when a sprint triathlon was a short workout day. Now an Oly triathlon is just another workout day. It never fails to amaze me what the human body can adapt to, and not just endure but actually come to crave. When I watch my cat go out and just run around for the heck of it, I realize that it's really our birthright to be able to extend the full range of our body's abilities and feel good afterwards, to not just want it but to need it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You Know It's Going to Suck When...

You look at the board at your swim workout and see the following main set:

10 x 100
10 x 100
10 x 100


Yep. Suckaroo.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Still in Shorts, in December

Running today, shorts and a t-shirt. Bicycling this weekend in short sleeves. My rhododendrons are blooming. It's December in the Pacific Northwest and this is just downright weird.

Meanwhile, as part of their robotics team's research project, my kids have been researching the effects of global climate change on wineries. As it turns out, Napa Valley may be growing olives and walnuts in the upcoming decades, our area might see Syrah and bigger reds, while our lovely Pinots might be migrating north towards Seattle. Who knows, maybe Gewurztraminer growing in Canada?

Yep, not a climate change skeptic here. 99.9% of me knows that this is not a good thing for the earth as a whole. But as a triathlete in shorts on a sunny December day, it's hard to complain.