Saturday, February 27, 2010

Small Victories

2500 yards of swimming today. Not fast, not pretty, but swimming. It's nice to finally do something bilateral! My left arm eventually tired out, so I know it will take some time to get it back into regular shape. I still can't straighten it completely, but it's not so bad now that I can't at least limp along in the pool.

I'm probably not going to be around the blogosphere much in the next couple of weeks as it's going to be very very busy around our household. If you read my Blue Skies Blog, you'll know that my daughter is playing Annie in the musical production and the next two weeks will be show time. I've already had to shlep her to a radio interview, a photo shoot for the newspaper, and a couple of public teaser performances in the last week or so, not to mention dying her hair red and curling it all up! Don't get me wrong, I'm more than happy to do this. But with the additional dress rehearsals now, the schedule gets a bit crazy. Lucky for me, the running trail is only 1/4 mile from the theatre studio, so I can bop off to blow off a little steam during rehearsals when I get the chance.

Wishing you all a terrific week of swimming, biking, running, etc.!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Plans, They Are A'Changing

It's so hard to step away from a dream once you start down the path to fulfilling it. The longer and the farther you go down that road, the more difficult it is to divert onto another. Yet I know from experience that just because you must take another path right now doesn't mean that you can't revisit your goals in the future. Sometimes it's better to postpone what you once thought was immediate and come back to it when the time is right.

That's the conclusion I've come to this week with my goal to test for my black belt in June. It's just not going to happen. My arm is actually healing up very nicely, but it's nowhere near the point where I can even straighten it without pain, let alone move it in a fast or aggressive manner. And if I even think about someone else touching it, I cringe. So I'm not going to be making it to any of the intense brown belt/black belt classes any time soon, not going to be doing any two-person contact at all, and I don't know how long it will be before I can even throw a proper punch or block.

Although it's probably been painfully obvious to others that this wasn't going to happen, I was stubbornly sticking to the plan for awhile. But now I know it will just have to wait. The upside is that by the time I do test I should be extremely well prepared. Also, my son is excited that perhaps we will test together, since he has a year to go until he would be ready. I don't know yet if it will take me that long or if I'll wait for him and test together or what.

On the plus side of things, I've been able to run now totally pain-free, and even did a semi-long run today of 8 miles without the arm hurting at all. I also swam on Saturday!!!! 1000 yards of swimming and 1000 yards of kicking. The swimming is ridiculous, I look like a wounded albatross flapping my way through the water, but I'm ecstatic that I can do it at all, and it doesn't hurt. I think it will help my arm rehab too, as long as I don't push it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Splinter Faction

Note to Self: If you're going to go barefoot running, don't go on the bark trails. Especially when every set of tweezers in this whole stinking house always goes missing. My feet look like they've been attacked by tiny little porcupines.

Of course, I had left my trusty set of Vibram Five Fingers at home, and it was just too beautiful not to run.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Years of Love

Hubby and I were talking last night and realizing that we are getting ever nearer to that point in time where we've spent half of our lives together. Weird! This is our 18th year together, and I've definitely spent more than 2/3 of my adult life with him. I guess that's why he knows me so well.

So that's why, my valentine from him... No, not this...

These!!!! Totally unexpected and out of the blue, accompanied by a sweet little poem. And if you knew my hubby you'd know that for him writing a poem is truly a labor of love. I know so many athletes struggle with their spouses understanding and supporting what they do, I guess I was lucky enough to find someone just as crazy as I am.

And you know what? I can't wait to try them out. I ran 4.5 miles on Friday in my Five Fingers and my legs felt great. I ran 6 miles yesterday in my regular running shoes and the difference is noticeable. These new Five Fingers will be much better for the bark trails, because the bark gets into the old ones and gives me splinters everywhere. Now I'll just use those for Crossfitting, etc. and the new ones for hitting the trails!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

SWEET Misery

I have to love it when one of my swimmers tells me a workout has made it into his "Top 10 hardest ever" list, and today's was just such a workout. I can't believe they were giving me grief for coming up with this workout and not being able to swim it with them. I know it's a toughie, but dang it I'd much rather be in the pool busting my ass than not.

Lately I've been working with my Masters on swimming straight, something that almost all swimmers from the slow lane to the smoking fast struggle with. Last week's drill was a Blind Swim. I had the swimmer start 10 seconds apart, just doing one length at a time. The idea is to swim as long as you can with your eyes closed and NOT crash into the lane lines. Swimmers were all over the place, it looked like the freeway at about 3 am on New Year's morn out there. Crazy! Watch someone swim blind and all the faults of the stroke become much more instantly apparent. When we have that lovely black line on the bottom of the pool to follow, we constantly self-correct without even knowing that we're doing it.

Today's drill was designed to piggy-back on top of that experience and help straighten everyone out. We started off with some Superman Kick, which is my name for kicking on your front with your arms extended straight out in front of your shoulders (head down) just like Superman.

Not like this Superman, that's more like a closed-fist drill, though I have to say the body alignment is nice and straight, even if the head is too high...

And not like this Superman either, I think he's doing the butterfly or something...

Here's the Superman I was looking for, though again ignore the closed fists and the head looking up. Nice straight body, arms straight out in front of the shoulders, and hands should be pointed just slightly down so fingers aren't poking out of the water.

From the Superman kick, we went on to Superman catch-up, which is just like the normal catch-up drill except with the arms in the Superman position. Why, you might ask? Well, often when we aim for having our hands meet in the middle or enter the water right on our centerline, what we actually do when swimming is to cross over that center line, often substantially. This gives a wiggle to the stroke that incurs monumental drag and wastes a lot of our energy. By practicing the catch-up drill with the hands meeting in the middle, we can inadvertently reinforce this poor hand entry position. So I've been working on catch-up in the Superman position and I think it's helpful to get that hand-entry more in line with the shoulders, especially because when you swim if you think your hands are in line with your shoulders, chances are they're closer to your center line. If you think they're at the center line, chances are that they're crossing over it.

Here's the rest of the workout, "SWEET 16" (I heard through the grumbling that the main set was a b*tch!) On the main set, every even 150 is timed. They are swum at 90% effort, and the idea is to keep the times within a few seconds of each other throughout the main set. Odds are described below. The interval should give plenty of time for rest.


Skill: Parallel Hand Entry
Drill: Superman Catch-up

Warm Up

2 x (200 Swim
6 x 75: Superman kick, Superman Catch-up, Swim by 25s)


Main Set



16 x 150, 90% effort @ 3:00

Evens: Timed
1 – 4 Easy
2 – 8 No Free IM by 25s
9 – 12 Pull
13 – 16 Dr/Swim by 25s


6 x 25 Dolphin kick to halfway, then swim
150 EZ

Total Yardage: 4000

Friday, February 12, 2010

Shaking Things Up With the Muddy Buddies

How many times do we just go for a run: same routes, same paces, same gear, same tunes. Today was a shakin'-it-up run for our Crossfit group. The other day I was out and spotted the local frisbee golf course. We have a 9-hole course less than a mile from our house. This time of year (especially with the rain dumping down last night) it looks something like a small swamp. What a perfect place to run! Next to it is a little bark circular track, close to a 1/4 mile around.

So today's Crossfit running workout was this:

Sprint once around the track, then head off in search of Hole 1 on the disc golf course. Once the first runner gets to the tee-off for the hole, they (and the rest of the runners) have to do an exercise of their choice (jumping jacks, squats, pushups, etc.) until the last runner arrives. Once the last person is there, walk or jog back to the start of the track. Repeat for holes 2 - 9.

The workout took us almost an hour, often sprinting through big muddy bogs. After awhile I got the biggest endorphin rush and started giggling uncontrollably after each round. It was so much danged fun. Muddy buddy Carrie pointed out that workouts like this where you push through your own comfort level are what really help us to grow as athletes. The cold, the rain, the mud, the sprinting, all were uncomfortable, but also fun and exciting in that "stomping in mud puddles" childlike way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Little Things We Take For Granted

Opening Jars
Putting hair in a ponytail
Using a rolling pin
Buttoning jeans
Scratching an itch in the middle of your back
Wiping crumbs off a counter into your open palm
Opening a door when you're carrying something in your other hand
Shampooing your hair
Putting on a sweatshirt
Moving a heavy pot from one burner to the other
Two hands on the handlebars

It's almost harder to have my arm out of the cast. Hubby keeps saying things like "can't you just pick that up?" Um, no. It's still broken. It still doesn't work. It might not work for awhile. I have to tell myself this too so I don't do anything stupid and delay healing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Question of the Day

It's been a very long time coming, but I am kicking around some chapters for an Ironmom book. You see, I have this crazy idea that not everyone out there wants the ridiculous quick-fix fitness solutions that are the main offerings on the shelves of bookstores. One look down the fitness aisle will land you with dozens of variations on "Get Fit Fast, Without Hardly Having To Do Anything!" but very few books that are reasonable time-tested approaches to achieving real health and fitness. A couple of my favorites that are out there are John Bingham's The Courage to Start and The Slow Fat Triathlete: Pursue Your Athletic Dreams in the Body You Have Now by Jayne Willliams.

The former is a great book but is just about running, and after a good start the last half of the book kind of depressed me. The latter is an awesome and terrific book but I swear I can't get anyone to read it just because of the title alone. Picture this conversation:

Me, to friend who really wants to do triathlons: "There's this great book you should read! It's called the Slow Fat Triathlete"

See the problem there?

So I think maybe just maybe there's still a need out there for an Ironmom-y kind of a book. So if there's anything that you ever wished was in a book like that, a book that helps people get from Point A (unhealthy and out of shape) to point B (ultimately healthy and fit and loving it) in the real world where they have things like jobs, babies, and households, let me know!

Along those lines, I got a comment on a post the other day from Becky who was wondering what kind of trainer I have. I'm currently using a Cycleops Fluid trainer (and I'm using it an awful lot these days since it's one workout I can actually do with a broken arm!) I like it because with the fluid it automatically changes resistance so you can just pedal away and not have to worry about adjusting tension like in the old-style wind trainers. It's relatively quiet so I can watch a movie while cycling, and it folds up so I can take it to races to use for warming up, or I can store it out of the way. It's stable and I've only fallen off of it once (that was when I was foolish enough to watch 28 Days Later while pedaling and when a zombie leaped out at the camera I jumped so high I came unclipped and fell off of the trainer). All in all, though I'd love it if a Computrainer fell out of the sky and into my workout room, I'm happy with the Cycleops.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Broken But Still Strong

You know it's funny to consider, but once you've been bit hard by the exercise bug it is like torture to be taken away from it. While the rest of the population tries to see how little exercise they can get by with (Bikini Body in 5 Minutes A Day!!! screams the advertisement flashing in the sidebar of a web page I was on recently. Yeah. Right. And I've got a beachfront property in Arizona to sell you after you buy that one), those of us who are athletes scramble to find ways to move our body even when it's difficult to do so.

One of the things I like best about Crossfit workouts is that they're scalable. At any point, a group of people can be doing the same workout but at different intensities with different weights or subbing different exercises to still get a good workout. This makes it ideal for me at this time since I'm obviously unable to do many of the basic exercises (like anything involving my left arm of course).

Today's workout was one of the Heros, Crossfit's workouts that are named after fallen warriors. This one was Daniel, for Daniel Crabtree, killed in Iraq on 6/8/2006:

50 Pull-ups
400 meter run
95 pound Thruster, 21 reps
800 meter run
95 pound Thruster, 21 reps
400 meter run
50 Pull-ups

One of our members was having knee trouble, so she subbed rowing for running. I had to get creative for my workout, so I subbed 50 situps + 50 back extensions for the 50 pullups each time, and I did one-armed thrusters with a kettlebell instead of two-armed with a bar (a thruster is like a full squat and then you thrust the weight overhead). But just the same, it was a tough workout (especially since you consider that all of our runs here are hill runs!). Nice thing was, the arm doesn't bother me when running (as long as I take it easy and don't fall on it) and I felt strong throughout the workout.

Yesterday I was able to bike on the trainer with my left arm propped on a pillow. I think I'm gaining core strength since essentially I have to support myself on one arm right now. A few days ago I could only bike for 30 minutes with the one arm and yesterday I made it an hour. I tried swimming a bit on Saturday, I figured I would just keep my arm by my side and kick, but that didn't work out at all. It turns out that the water would move my arm in unpredictable directions, causing it to hurt. So water (even water running) is probably not going to be possible for another week or two. Luckily it seems like I can find enough that I can do to keep myself busy.

One of the reasons that I chose a Hero workout for our WOD (workout of the day) was to remind myself how precious these moments are that we're given. I don't know anything about Daniel Crabtree, other than what his friend wrote about him on this blog but I'm pretty sure if he could choose, he'd be somewhere running around enjoying life. Life's too short to whine about what we can't do, we're better off embracing what we can. Today's workout was a great reminder that though part of me might be a bit broken, the rest of me can still be strong.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Healing Properties of Dog Slobber and Glowing Balls of Yellow Light

Castaway! No, not a movie starring Tom Hanks and a disturbing relationship with a piece of sports equipment... my cast is gone. Gone precious, gone! I have to admit, I was happy to get the thing in the first place, since every bump and movement was sending my arm into paroxysms of pain. But it quickly got old, especially in those dreaded moments when you have an itch underneath (coat hangers are your friend).

I got a new set of X-rays yesterday and everything is healing up amazingly well. I have pretty much no swelling at the site, the joint looks great, the tendons all look fine, and the bone is healing nicely. Best of all, the doc who took a look at it gave me the green light to move around as much as I feel able, just cautioning me to "let pain be your guide". That's always a sticky wicket with me, since my pain tolerance is freakishly high (I once famously told my midwife I was worried that I wouldn't know when I was in labor. She laughed. Until it came true.) Still, I figure as long as I proceed with good caution and don't do anything stupid, I'm going to be able to train, at least in a moderate fashion. That's WAY better news than I heard from Doc #1, whose mantra seemed to be "Wait 6 weeks" to do ANYTHING.

I don't know how much of what I did after the break influenced the healing, but here's my regimen for speedy bodily repair:

- Big doses of calcium and vitamin D (as per Doc #1)
- My old standby, Wobenzym, for soft tissue repair (this is the one supplement I use when training hard as well, just because it helps me be so much less sore after intense workouts)
- As much sleep as I can make myself get
- No NSAIDS (doc #2 says that now most docs believe they're contra-indicated in bone healing anyways)
- Lots and lots of dog kisses
- Positive visualizations in which I mentally send big glowing balls of healing energy light down my arm to the broken place and visualize my bone and tissues repairing themselves.

That's it, that's my magic formula. But speaking of dog kisses, here's something interesting. Since I've gotten my cast off, my dog Sophie has been coming up and licking my arm constantly. I wonder if dogs know that something is injured even if there's no outward sign. She doesn't lick my good arm, just the injured one. As you can see, just trying to get a photo of my cast she kept interrupting with more puppy kisses. She obviously believes I need more love in my life, what a sweetie!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

If Only It Worked That Way With the Stock Market

This morning I woke up with the theme music to Hawaii 5-0 running through my head. If you're not as old as I am, you might not remember this show, one of the longest running cop dramas on TV (12 years I think). Chances are though you know the theme song, if only from it's ubiquitous use by marching bands. I was having this awesome surfing dream, the kind where you catch every big turquoise wave with effortless ease. It was accompanied by a full-force blast of the theme song apparently, since I woke up with what sounded like the whole orchestra in my head.

Not twenty minutes later, Asa wanders down to breakfast, fires up her iPod and starts her usual round of finding the latest cute kitten and hamster videos on Youtube (if you ever wonder who drives those videos into the millions of views, look no further than the 10-year-old girl contingent). So what comes blasting out of the iPod as the soundtrack to the first video? Hawaii 5-0. This kind of thing happens all the time to me, I can sometimes literally name a song, turn on the radio and it's the next thing that plays. So why aren't I getting cosmic market tips instead of music predictions, that's what I want to know!

By the way, rumor has it that CBS is considering Australian actor Alex O'Loughlin to fill the shoes of Hawaii Five-O boss Steve McGarrett in the upcoming remake of the once-popular show.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Getting Rid of That Extra Mouth to Feed

Whenever an injury forces me to...erm...I mean... I take some well-deserved time off of exercising, I'm always amazed at how little food my body needs to actually sustain itself.I can eat an egg or a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and not be hungry by 10:30, not even need to eat again until noon! I mean you know that exercise is burning calories, all the books tell you that one, but it's pretty amazing to see in real life the difference between a resting metabolic rate and fueling the exercise regime of a triathlete and martial artist.

Looking at my workout log for January, I've averaged about 15 hours a week of exercise: 7 hours of swimming, biking, and running; 4 - 6 hours of karate, 2+ hours of Crossfit, and some miscellaneous bike commuting and hiking. I guess that adds up to a fair amount of extra fuel needed now that I'm down at zero exercise for awhile.