Monday, March 30, 2009

Lucky 7

There she is, finally. Mile seven seemed to have alluded me this year so far, but I nabbed that bitch with an 8:30 pace. After yesterday's depressing swim meet, I woke up today determined to prove to myself I'm not completely hopeless. I may not be a great swimmer, yet, but I can run. After three pints of water and some cinnamon graham crackers, I was good the entire run. I had a slight running stitch but it lasted a quarter mile. I got to Long Wharf in time for the sunrise, and the morning blow jobs.

Long Wharf is a notorious hookup spot, especially for men. It was my first time down there in the morning and I couldn't believe how many cars were lined up on the overlook spots. I ran passed 15 or so as Eve came on my headphones and my runner's high finally kicked in. It usually kicks in around 3 miles, the scenery helped. I said hi to a Canadian goose, but I think it hissed at me.

When I ran on Olive St I thought about how I should have my friends in the area put out water bottles for me the night before. I can run past like a reverse milk man and get some hydration. Or I can just get a damn Camelback fanny pack and look like the robot runner I am. Amphipod light and Garmin wrist laptop on one arm, iPod Touch on the other, heart rate monitor strap under my sports bra. I'm practically bionic. ...I think about some pretty weird stuff when I'm running.

Anyway, this run is exactly what I needed. Pep talks don't work for me, the only thing that works is proving it to myself.


Swim Meet

So Sunday was the last day of the first TriFitness session of the year. The coaches decided to make it into a swim meet. When I heard about this I was really, really displeased. I'm not into swimming for short speed events. I want to swim long, at a good pace and do it well. Also, I've never competed in swimming so I had no idea what it'd be like and that freaked me out.

Luckily, a girl I swim with, Jen, is a newbie too. She's pretty much as clueless as I am when it comes to all this. When they told us we'd have to jump into the pool at the start just like a real swim meet, we looked at each other in horror. When they placed us in our heats we were, of course, both first in our lane.

The first race was 50 yard fist drill, that is swimming with your hands as fists. My fists, by the way, are tiny. I came in second to last. Next race, catch-up drill using the "drowning stick". I was pissed. I have to do the drill I suck at the most as fast as I can? Again I came in second to last. At this point my body felt like Jell-O. I was pushing myself as much as I could and ending up still far behind. Third race, 100 yard freestyle. Finally something I felt like I could do before the races started. Now I was already pumped full of adrenaline and anxiety.

Jen had an early lead next to me, as I got to the end of the pool my turn around was faster. "Alright," I thought, "maybe I can actually do this." Halfway across the pool I realized, my form was totally wrong, I had let the adrenaline and drive to go fast totally take over. I hit the other end of the pool, turned around. This is when it's all a blur. All I knew was that I could hear myself gasping, the awful sound I only make when I have an asthma attack. Fuck. I got to the other side of the pool. "One more length, that's it. Do it." I struggled and gasped and was generally freaking out. Dead last. I threw my goggles on the ground and walked as fast as I could to the locker room.

My body was shaking, I wanted to vomit and break down crying, and most of all I wanted to breathe. I fumbled with my lock, threw my purse contents about the locker until I found my inhaler. Everything was spinning. I was freaking out so much the first spray went onto my tongue, I didn't even breathe in. Second attempt, success. I could feel my throat relaxing. Another spray, my head cleared enough to see straight again. I helped time the rest of the races. The old men on my heat kept saying, "C'mon Heather, just race." "Um no, I had an asthma attack." They all seemed like that was no big deal.

I was still feeling sick and shaky, and it felt like no one fucking believed me. I wondered if I just let myself puke like I wanted to do if they'd get it then. The coach told me I looked really pale and asked if I was okay. I told her I'd be fine in a bit. I was so disappointed watching everyone swim. I know it wasn't a real competition and it was just for fun. That didn't stop me from feeling like I should have done better, or worrying if I can really do a triathlon if I can't even do a few small races.

From this point forward, I'll be taking my Advair again. It's a preventative, expensive, asthma medication. I don't like to use it, but I also don't want another asthma attack. This was the first real attack where I felt totally out of control and felt sick for hours after. I wanted to be hugged and comforted, I felt so feeble and just really sad and disappointed. Lame.

To end on a high note, I apparently smoked everyone at the doggy paddle. As a final race and a joke, they had us do a doggy paddle relay. I decided I could at least pull myself through a 25 yard paddle, since it's the one thing I know I can do and there's no right way to do it. When it was my time to go, everyone was way behind me. People were slightly amazed. Of course, how like me, to be good at the most bizarre thing. Maybe I should doggy paddle my way through the triathlon.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just Because

I've been tired, sore and kinda miserable lately.
My friend sent me this, and it cheered me up.
She said this is what she imagines I do after a workout.

I love this kid!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hammonassett Run

Disappointing run today. I didn't get enough sleep last night, for some reason I just couldn't sleep and stayed up til around 2am and woke up around 8:30am. Felt groggy and listless, worked on the blog some more, and played around with the TrailRunner software I downloaded yesterday. It was supposed to be a bright sunny day in the 50s. I was determined to at least go out for a run. My initial idea was to run at Lake Saltonstall in Branford, CT since one of the trainer's at Aiki highly recommended it.

By the time I got to Lake Saltonstall it was 2:30pm. I drove around the park area a few times, the parking areas were closed and there were no good spots to park. I decided to scrap the idea, and thought of other places to run. Lighthouse Point crossed my mind, and would have made more sense, but I decided to spring for Hammonasset State Park. I was there yesterday with a friend, and as we walked around I saw a lot of runners and decided I was going to run there sometime soon. I wasn't expecting it to be the next day.

By the time I got to the Hammonasset exit, I was feeling off. A combination of little sleep and eating too early. I had planned to run around 12:30 or so, so I ate around 11:30. Now it was 3:00, and I was running near empty. It was a gray chilly day at Hammonasset. Everyone was bundled up, except for me of course. Run started out okay until a little after the first mile. Cramps. Stupid, annoying cramps. Breathed through them, and hit mile 2 surprisingly quick. Just after the second mile though, the cramps set in again. Breathed through as much as I could, but decided I'll make it to 3 miles and quit. The last quarter mile felt twice as long. The walk back to the car was depressing. I was probably a little over a half mile away.

Blah I really wanted to get more miles in this weekend. There's always next weekend...


Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Garmin Forerunner 305 Run

Today I fully merged my tech/nerd side and athletic side, and I'm quite pleased. I took advantage of the beautiful, albeit still chilly day to embark on a long run. I was hoping for 7 miles, but I definitely didn't eat enough breakfast. I petered out around 5.5 miles. Still good if you figure that my last outdoor run was a month ago. I readied my Garmin by connecting it with my computer and making sure it had the latest firmware on it. I also downloaded the Garmin Training Center for Mac program.

It was about 40 degrees when I started my run, and really bright out. At the end of my warm up walk, who should I see riding their bikes, but my dearest Kelly and her beau. She, of course, busted on my wrist laptop. As I started my run they caught back up with me a few blocks down. I shouted to them the distance from the street corner we met up at and their approximate speed. It's really cool to be able to look down and see my speed, it kind of makes me feel like I'm on some elaborate virtual reality treadmill. I tried to keep it in the 7mph range.

I should have drank a third glass of water before my run, I didn't factor in the green tea I drank this morning. I got a few cramps but I breathed through them. At one point I realized I'd be able to see the watch better if the face was on the inside of my wrist, so I moved it around. After a mile or so I noticed the speed displayed was lower than I felt like it should be. I had a flashback to the manual, and how they recommend keeping the face on the outside of your wrist for better reception. D'oh! Lesson learned.

When I got back to the apartment, icing down felt amazing! I let out audible sighs of relief as I moved my roommate's bags of frozen edamame around my legs. I don't remember a time icing down felt so good before! I then grabbed my laptop to play with the Garmin Training Center program. It was great to see my exact route on the screen, no more tracing with MapMyRun! I logged onto my MapMyRun account and downloaded the Garmin connection plug-in. I loaded the data into the training log. I definitely prefer the MapMyRun's Google map to the basic Garmin one. I used the Calories Burned Calculator to figure out the more accurate amount burned. The Forerunner data says I burned 523, whereas the calories burned calculator (that has been within 10 calories of the more accurate Timex watch) estimated 769 calories burned.

Now I just need to settle on what program I want to stick with for logging data! The only log I seem to be able to stick to is my notebook, but it doesn't make fancy charts and graphs for me. I try to stick with MyMyRun, for maps it's cool but I'm still not crazy about the format. Recently heard about and will try it out.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Learning to Rest

It's really hard for me to rest, especially when I have the time to workout. I woke up this morning around 5:40am, doing the usual internal workout psych up. The motivational pep talk soon turned into a debate. "I've worked out pretty hard this week, my arms ache, my legs are stiff, I should probably rest." "But my clothes are laid out! My lunch is waiting in the fridge to be packed!" "Rest is an important part of training, you need to accept that." "But I'm already up and started to get ready!" I'm still debating as I'm typing this, thinking I could bust out a couple more sentences before throwing on my workout clothes and rushing out.

Rest days are important for muscle and body recovery. It's hard to let it sink in sometimes that over training can lead to a decline in performance, and can be counter productive. I should have learned my lesson last month when I got sick. After some searching, Dave Scott, six-time Ironman Champion gives me more reasons to rest today:

While I'm not at the point he talks about, where I feel unable to get my heart rate up, and my body just feels heavy and tired, I have been there before. It's not hard to recognize when you're body is starting to feel worn, but when you're in good shape and have pushed yourself before, it's really hard to tell yourself to rest.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Training Blog

Added a new blog, "Run, Bike, Swim, Fight! - Training". Today as I was writing in my training log I realized that its contents span 2 years this week. It started out as a food and exercise log, and then became just an exercise log. Writing down everything you eat is not only annoying, but I felt strange after awhile. My log definitely has some points where I dropped off from training and/or logging. From 6/5/2007 - 1/26/2008 I stopped logging. I do know for a fact I was still training. Impressively most of my workouts from 2008 are in there. It's kind of crazy to flip through. What I was doing at any point in the log reminds me of what was going on then in my life. Whenever I see "arc trainer" I know I was working out at Planet Fitness, and living at my apartment on Nicoll St.

I think my training log is integral to this blogging endeavor, but I realize it's pretty dry reading. I decided to add Run, Bike, Swim, Fight! - Training so that it can be separate from my thoughts but still accessible. There will be some overlaps of course between the two, but I really don't expect anyone to RSS to both, or even read the training blog on a regular basis.

Another observation I made while looking through my training log, is how far I've come in my running! The first mention of a treadmill is 5/6/2008 where I ran a mile in 11 minutes. By 6/5/08 I was running 15 minutes plus 3 minutes cooldown with a distance of 1.56 miles. A month later on 7/8/08, I ran 25 minutes with 5 minutes cooldown with a distance of 2.51 miles. In August I was running more than 5 miles outdoors. Unfortunately I slacked on logging my outdoor runs, and the only log I can find of running more than 5 miles is from 10/10/08 where I ran 7.39 miles, doing 9:33 minute miles. Still, I'm pretty impressed with myself, and I don't say something like that often! Looking at the progress I've made makes me look forward to how far I can run this year, and to cutting my times down even more.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Toys!

After almost a year of debating, I finally gave in and bought a Garmin Forerunner. My coworker says it looks like a wrist laptop. It practically is, and it's totally nerdy but at the end of the day I love gadgets and what else would you expect from an athletic web designer?! I haven't had the opportunity to run with it yet, but I can't wait. I did try to wear it to a spin class, but I hadn't read the manual and didn't know how to shut off the GPS function. The next day after figuring out how to shut off the GPS for "indoor mode" I ran on the treadmill with it. The heart rate monitor seems accurate, I compared it to the treadmill's sensor a few times, each time it matched very closely. Unfortunately the display doesn't change much if you turn the GPS off, so the heart rate gets lost on the display and is so small I could barely read it. Another annoyance I had was that I couldn't find the calories burned function. After reading up online, it seems the calories burned is way off anyway. It uses speed as part of its formula, so if you're on a bike and coasting down a hill at 17mph it shoots the calories burned up as if you're exerting enough effort to move a bike that fast. I mentioned this to a coworker (I had the Garmin box on my desk so people were asking all about it) and she told me she had a heart rate monitor she wanted to get rid of.

Enter gadget #2, a Timex Ironman Triathlon Heart Rate Monitor 50 lap watch. Another reason this is an awesome addition, besides the more accurate calories burned function, is that I can wear this underwater. For indoor workouts it's perfect, and the display shows my heart rate very clearly. I tried it out during two workouts this week, and I'm kinda in love with it. I had no idea before how many calories I was burning during my kettlebell workouts. Answer, A LOT. Like 200 in 15 minutes! Having the watch also helps me time my workouts, so I can accurately do 15 minutes of kettlebell work, 10 minutes of ab work and so on. This is great for pushing me to do more, or stopping me from going overboard. It keeps me focused as well as telling me which heart rate zone I'm in.

Since my heart rate with the Timex Ironman was just as accurate as the Forerunner when compared to the treadmill sensor and it factors in weight, I'd like to think the calories burned feature is pretty accurate. It says I burn more calories than the treadmill estimates, but then again, the treadmill doesn't factor in my heart rate a majority of the time. I did a bit of research and found this calculator. It factors in sex, weight, average heart rate and duration. This calculator was very close, within 15 calories of my watch. Obviously calorie counting isn't an exact science, but it's definitely interesting and helpful to know how much you are burning. I still can't get over how many calories doing kettlebells after running burned! I found yet another reason why I love kettlebells!


Monday, March 2, 2009

In the Fast Lane, Back on Track

Yesterday at swim class was my first real workout in almost a week. I got there about five minutes late, and found new people in the slow lane I usually swim in. (The pool is divided up from the slowest swimmers to the fastest, that way there's not a traffic jam when slow swimmers hold up fast swimmers behind them.) The new swimmers were already clinging to the sides of the pool out of breath. I've never seen people stop in the middle of the pool before.
The coach put another slow lane regular and I in the fourth lane and said we graduated for the night. I think I kept up pretty well for most of the class. I did get tired pretty easily, and I did cough a few times which didn't help much. The slow guy and I were doing the group B drills, so we only had to do half the amount of laps in one section as the two group A girls that were in our lane. Once we got to that section of the drills, they flew passed and lapped us. Oh well!
I'm surprised that even in a faster lane, people don't really understand the drill sheets. They ask over and over how to do the drills, and how many lengths to swim. Look, if it says 2x50, do two sets of 2 lengths! It's pretty easy to get the hang of. The pool is 25 yards, divide the second number by 25 and you get the number of lengths. I'm a math idiot, but I can figure it out! The asking and hold ups are so annoying, and then they usually end up doing the wrong amount of laps. I try to do the right amount of laps, and then they're like "Oh you're still doing that drill?" I want to be like, "Yes, because you cut it short by 2 lengths, and I'm doing it the right way." But I just shrug and continue finishing up the set.
Did my first strength training workout in over a week this morning. Unfortunately my workout was cut short due to the fact we got a shitload of snow. Digging out my car and dealing with the roads cut out a half an hour of the hour or so I wanted to get in. I guess it's better to start off slow anyway. I hope to spend this week slowly getting my workouts back to normal. The only trace of my cold is a few coughs here and there. Because I have asthma, whenever I get a cold, I usually have a cough that lingers a few extra days. I still can't get over the fact I was sick only a week! If only I could tell me of a few years ago to take a bunch of vitamins, take Zicam and eat vegetarian. I could have saved myself from a multitude of doctors visits, antibiotic treatments and bullshit.