Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No Excuses

There are no excuses for not doing what you want to in life, for not being vibrant and alive through all of your days. If you want inspiration, check out this dancer, don't just watch the beginning, she's amazing!

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm Going to Make You Heal Dammit

Sometimes my body can be sneaky. Sometimes it knows that I'm not really going to give it enough rest or enough downtime. I'm bad that way. So sometimes my body mutinies on me and makes me too sick to do anything. When my back really started giving me fits, I did cut back on the worst culprits - volleyball has been totally gone for weeks {sob} and I've really scaled back the intensity in karate {sniff}. I cut my running miles in half {boohoo}. I've really tried to be good. Honestly!

But it just wasn't enough for the old body to really rest and heal, so now I'm sick. No long run yesterday, no outside work, the leaf pile is laughing its evil head off out there because any exertion in the cold winter air starts me coughing my damn head off. But on the plus side, after four days of this, my back feels really really good. Maybe that's what I needed in the first place, a few days totally off.

Maybe next time I'll listen to my body and give it what it needs. Then again, maybe it'll have to kick me in the butt again. Probably so.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Big Race: Me vs. the Leaves

It's that time of year again, when I've had five dumptruck loads (like big enormous gravel-truck-sized loads) of leaves from our city's leaf pickup program dumped next to our garden plot, and it's my job (with help from the kids) to move them all down the hill, over the garden beds, and into the chicken pen area. When The Pile first arrived, it was about eight feet tall, but I've reduced it to three with my efforts this week. Unfortunately, the three feet that are left are the most densely packed, already-composting part of the pile. Every time I take a layer off, the steam comes pouring out, it's well over a hundred degrees inside the pile already.

Also unfortunately, tomorrow it's supposed to rain and that means heavy wet condensing leaves that I have to use a pickaxe to get apart. So that means today it's a race: me against The Leaf Pile. Is it any wonder that by the time the afternoon rolls around, I barely have the energy for a "workout"?? Yesterday I did an hour on the trainer, but I was really dragging. Today I want to run, but I'll have to see how many hours it takes battling The Pile first.

It sure makes you realize why our ancestors had no need to train for triathlons. Wielding a pickaxe, shovel, and rake are exercise enough for any human.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


It just hit me today in karate....I'm learning the tenth and last kata that I need for my brown belt. I'll test in March, and then it will be on to the stuff I need to learn to start preparing for the black belt.

I'm still not quite sure exactly where and when I'm going to fit THAT training in. Something will have to give, I just don't know what. Yet.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Cute New Training Partner

Asa, my 9 year old is training for her first 5k, so today we went out for our first training run together. I have to say, it was bitterly cold and I was underdressed for jogging at her pace, but we had a great time. She ran/walked 1.6 miles, running three blocks and then walking one and repeating that for the whole distance. I think that's great for a first outing, this girl is a goer for sure!

When we got home, we mapped the route together on, and then entered it into her training log. Boy does she feel like a big girl athlete now, I even put quick ties on her shoes. I'm looking forward to more runs together. This is one of the greatest things about being an athlete mom, passing on the gift, the love of the sport to your kids.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Just Not the Same

My house is missing one big and important thing these days: my husband's laugh. Now let me preface that by saying that of all the laughs on the planet, his is absolutely the best. You can't hear Wayne laugh and not at least smile. He's got this great big infectious laugh. Any funny movie you might see is ten times funnier if he's sitting next to you, the theatres ought to pay him to come to their comedies, I swear. As you can see, he's quite the joker around our house.

But the poor guy had hernia surgery last week and he's still not anywhere near being able to laugh (hurts too much). It's horrible to see someone you love in pain, and recovering from surgery is all kinds of pain. Add on to the fact that he's a very active guy, and recovering just isn't easy psychologically for us active types. And he's had this great running group this year that he loves to run with, can't do that. He started swimming with the Masters group at the club this Fall (and by all the accounts I hear, he's kicking some booty in the lanes and getting faster by the workout) and can't do that either right now.

I was able to share with him my post-partum workout secrets, which considering that I tore all of my abdominal muscles apart at the seams (there is a downside to having tight abs after all) I can remember both the pain and how hard it was to get those muscles back in action again. I had to start my sit-up routine by lying on my back, holding both sides of my stomach muscles together, and lifting my head a scant inch off of the floor.

So for anyone who goes through abdominal muscle issues, be they pregnancy-related, hernia-related, or injury-related, there is definitely a path to getting those muscles functioning again, it just takes time and patience and an ability to take it very slowly at first.

As for my hubby, he's sleeping right now and I'm hoping for those muscles to heal up fast. Not just because I want to see him happy and active again, but because I miss that laugh.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Delurking Day

Yes, I've been informed that it's Delurking Day (or else it was yesterday or the day before and I'm a few days behind, but no matter). When I look at the blog stats, I'm always completely amazed that not only A) Someone besides my family reads this thing, and B) That the world really is a small place. So out with you, who are you readers in Mexico and Mauritius, Singapore and South Africa, the U.K. and of course all over the U.S. ??

If you've never commented here before, today is a perfect time to say hi!

Then A-freakin'-gain...

You know, they say "If you don't like the weather in Oregon just wait five minutes." But you'd THINK that the people they pay to predict this stuff could do just a teensy eensy weensy little bit better job. I mean they predict five straight days of sunshine in the morning, and by afternoon it's already raining! Piss.

Now That's Cheery

On my iGoogle front page this morning:

Looks like maybe I can even ride my bike outside this week. Hooray! Those of you in warmer dryer climates might not understand fully, but this time of year here in the Pacific NorthWET it's usually cold and rainy, cold and rainy. This sort of a week is a gift.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Feeling Lucky??

Here's the Master's Workout I wrote up for today. It's one of those deceptively hard ones. I'll write out the workout and then give you the blow-by-blow. If you do this one right and you're not wiped by the end of it, you're one tough cookie!

"Lucky Sevens"

7 x 125 - Odds Swim, Evens Alternate Drill/Swim by 25
25 EZ

7 x 75 - 50 Kick, 25 swim
25 EZ

Main Set:

7 x 175: 1, 2 Cruise
3, 4 Build
5 - 7 Descend
25 EZ

7 x (25 Stroke, 25 all-out sprint)

7 x 125 : 100 Pull, 25 Scull
25 EZ

Cool Down:
7 x 25 Cruise
25 EZ

Total: 4150 yards

How to work it:

7 x 125 - Odds Swim, Evens Alternate Drill/Swim by 25

Really concentrate on your drills on this warmup set. Each time you swim after doing a particular drill, focus on that aspect of your stroke during the swim. Put your brain to it.

7 x 75 - 50 Kick, 25 swim

Work the kick to start warming up your legs. Focus on kicking from the hips. Do some of the kick on your back and make sure you don't have "popcorn knees" (knees popping out of the water). Do some of the kicking on your side in a streamlined position with one hand straight ahead and one hand trailing behind you. By the last couple 75s, your kick should be moderately hard in effort.

7 x 175: 1, 2 Cruise
3, 4 Build
5 - 7 Descend

Make the first couple of these at a moderate speed - your long-distance pace. For numbers 3 and 4, build by 25's over the course of the 175 going from a cruise to a hard pace by the end of each. Drop back to cruising speed for number 5, but make 6 at a fast medium-distance pace, and make 7 as hard as you can sustain for 175 yards without slowing. There's should be at least 10 seconds difference between your cruise, medium, and fast 175's.

7 x (25 Stroke, 25 all-out sprint)

In our lane, we rotated through the strokes in IM order for this drill. The interval for this should be long, because you're going to be working at an all-out pace. We used a 1:30 interval, whereas our normal 50 yard interval is :45. Do the stroke at a medium-hard pace, hit the turn and come out of it into a hard sprint all the way back. You should be feeling the lactic burn on every one of these.

7 x 125 : 100 Pull, 25 Scull

Use these to improve your feel for the water. Sculling should sensitize your hands to how you're putting pressure on the water. Moderate pace. Resist the urge to go too easy on these.

7 x 25 Cool Down - Just cruise these and let all the lactic acid flush out, stretch your arms out into a long loose stroke. Throw some backstroke in to stretch out the shoulders.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Swim Coach Sez.... Drop the Poolside Toys

Oh I know, triathletes LOVE their gear. Can't get enough gear, triathlete who dies with the most wheels, helmets, wetsuits, and running shoes wins, right? But when you hit the pool deck, you're really better off leaving the toys at home. You know what I mean fellas (yeah, it's mostly fellas though a very few female triathletes run into this trap): you go to do 3,000 yards of swimming and you do 1,000 of them with a pool buoy, 750 with swim fins, and 500 with paddles. That leaves you with, what, 750 actual yards of swimming?

Not that there's not a time and a place for crutches, er, swim aids. Used judiciously, they can help build technique, stamina, and even strength. But for most triathletes, judicious use flies right out the window. And let's face it, if strength was all that important in swimming, the guy with the 42 inch chest and bulging biceps would be cruising smoothly down the lane instead of eating the wake of the 60 year old grandmother next to him.

So here's the guidelines I use with my swimmers for various poolside toys:

Pull Buoys:

Uses: Buoys can be used to free yourself from worrying about kicking so you can focus on various aspects of your arm stroke or breathing. They can also be used during the latter half of a distance workout to simulate the greater arm fatigue of a wetsuit swim. Use a pull buoy with the drills portion of your swim workout (you DO incorporate lots of drills into every workout, right???) Or for a killer Ironman training swim, do 2,000 swim, 2,000 pull continuous and aim for a negative split.

Drawbacks: All too many triathlets use a pull buoy to make up for poor body balance in the water. If you pull with a buoy faster than you swim, this is a sure sign of a poor kick (usually kicking with too much knee bend, which will slow you down) and/or poor body position (typically with feet and hips dragging in the water). Cure: Total Immersion balance drills and kicking from your hips and not your knees.


Uses: Paddles can be used sparingly to improve your feel for catching the water, for keeping your elbow high during the catch, and for increasing fatigue on the arm muscles. Use only with the band that goes around your middle finger (not the wrist band) for keeping a high-elbow catch. If you drop your elbow, you'll lose the paddle. They can also be used to work on the weak arm of your stroke, as in this drill.

Drawbacks: Danger Will Robinson! Paddles can have some really bad consequences when used poorly or excessively. The lightest of these consequences would be contribution to a poor stroke, especially hand entry. Paddles tend to exacerbate poor hand entry and can also lead to ineffective catch and pull as well. They can also exaggerate side-to-side movement or s-turning of the body in the stroke. Unless you know damn well that you have great stroke technique, make sure you get a coach to watch you with the paddles and make sure you're actually benefitting your technique instead of hindering it. The worst consequences of paddle use is actually injury. They can cause or contribute to rotator cuff injuries, shoulder injuries, and I've seen people literally been taken out of swimming for long-time recovery due to poor technique with paddles or excessive paddle use.


Uses:Fins can be useful for speed work (as in building up your turnover for sprinting speed, which most triathletes don't need) and for getting a feel for kicking with a flexible ankle. They are also almost invaluable for learning the butterfly stroke (again, not a staple in most triathlons). When I use them with my swimmers it's usually to help them get a feel for an easy kick in which the foot flexes and bends. Kick with the fins, then try to make your feet do what fins do - flex up and flex down.

Drawbacks: The main drawback I see with swimmers who use fins a lot is that fin use can facilitate a kick with a bigger knee bend. You really really don't want to bend your knees much at all while kicking. Kicking with too much knee bending is one of the single most common swimming flaws and one that is most likely to hold people back from achieving faster, smoother strokes. And in reality, you don't need to kick a whole lot during a triathlon swim anyways. You want to kick enough to keep your feet on the surface of the water, and stabilize your hips against the powerful twisting of the torso, and that's about it. So building up great kicking muscles probably won't do you much good anyways.

So remember, when you sit on the edge of the lap lane at the pool, the best swim aid is your own brain. Concentrating on the various parts of your stroke that you want to improve, focusing on what your arms, legs, feet, hands, and torso are doing during your stroke, and disciplining yourself to swim drills instead of just junk yardage are your best weapons in developing a fast, smooth triathlete's distance stroke. Use your pool toys to achieve those ends, but don't overuse them. And for heaven's sake, don't ever use them just so you can be as fast as the granny in lane two.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Most Romantic Words Ever

When spoken by my hubby: "You know, I think I'd like to go swim the Alcatraz Shark Fest"

{{{Swoon}}} No wonder I love the guy!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Another Year, Another Fifty, Another Trip Around the Sun

Another great big fast ride around the sun has come to pass, and to mark the journey I once again set off to the pool on New Year's morning to swim the ritual "year in 50's". Thankfully not 2009 of them, but we did 109 this morning, leaving on an interval of :45. Each of us on this planet is engaged in the business of getting older, something we don't really think much about for a decade or two or three, but as an athlete edging toward the mid-40s, it eventually strikes you that at some point you will cease getting faster and stronger and start getting slower and weaker. As each milestone or race comes along, you wonder not only whether or not you can achieve a PR, but whether its your last one.

So its with not only joy but a small sigh of relief that I note that I felt strong, really strong as we pumped out those fifties this morning. Our Master's coach has been working us steadily from an average 3800 yard workout up into the 4600 range, so this year's New Year's workout didn't feel near as tough as it has in years past. With six of us in the lane, each of us took turns leading ten of them, with a couple of us taking more than one set. I took three sets including the last one and felt faster with each one, bringing in those last 9 fifties in :38 apiece.

I'm hoping that bodes well for this year's season of triathlons, assorted running and swimming races, karate, and other sports. Since 2008's season was beset with injuries at the start, and a schedule of other commitments that limited me to two tris and a running relay, I'm really looking forward to a healthier more intense 2009 season.

This is my hoped-for events for 2009, all subject to time and money, health, luck and fate...

March - 4-week time trial series (bike)
April - Albany Sprint Tri
May - Eugene Half Marathon
July - Hagg Lake Olympic Tri
July - Cascade Lakes Relay (running)
August - Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim
- City of Portland Oly Triathlon
September - Black Hills HIM

Oh, and in March I test for my brown belt (karate) so I'll start my year+ of training for black belt. That may suck up most of next year's tri season, so I hope I get to do some good races this year.

Wishing you all a wonderful, fast, and fun New Year!