Friday, August 23, 2013

Tough, lazy, exuses or big bite?

More often than not these days, I  find myself thinking, "Am I not being tough enough? Am I being lazy? Am I just making excuses? Have I bitten off more than I can chew?".

Training for an Ironman 70.3 triathlon is tough. I have completed 2 of these races (Eagleman and Cozumel in 2012), so I know what it takes and what to expect. However, when you combine that with training for your very first marathon, it's a whole different beast. I have learned a lot so far, but something tells me that my learning curve will soon skyrocket, as my run mileage is about to increase. I just don't know how my body will respond to running more than 14 miles. On top of training, I recently started a new job and we all know how challenging getting acclimated to a new company can be. Plus, my Mother/Sister are starting to need more help and helping from a distance creates a challenge all on it's own. I feel like I have the world on my shoulders most days and like I'm on an island all alone. Many folks just can't seem to relate and even if they can, they really can't help. Stress is one of the things that causes my skin condition to act up and training puts stress on the body. So on many days, I feel like my skin is raw and is about to peel off or it's itchy like I have a million fire ants eating me up. The way that I have been coping with it all, is by channeling all of my energy to myself: "No, I can't help you do XYZ or volunteer or meet you for drinks to hear about your problems or take your call if you don't have anything positive to say/ask. Just no. Leave me alone while I try to get a handle on all this stuff." I need a true vacation, especially since the week of mandatory vacation for the new job was spent taking care of my Mother in Georgia. It's a lot.  I do plan to spend some time with friends soon. I really really need that. I need to laugh and dance and relax on a beach and explore a different country too.

The lessons in all of this have been plentiful. Some of them have been about digging deep and discovering who I really am when stress takes a hold. I have learned:

  • I really don't need anyone to run 14 miles with me. I thought I did. I even went out with a group. However, when I stopped to adjust my hydration belt and then to stretch my Achilles, I lost them. I had a cue sheet and in hindsight, I probably really didn't loose them. One of my phobias just took over. The path curves in Rock Creek Park so they were probably just right ahead of me, however, my phobia of running alone in parks (because of the Chandra Levy case) caused me to wig out and exit park left. I exited the park way too early and got off course. I managed to get back on course all alone, but at mile 7, the route took me back into the park. So, I turned around and retraced my steps, minus going back into the park. I have run 13 miles before (4 times, actually) and I have run 12 miles alone in the past. So, I was just wigging out. This experience taught me that sometimes when we think we need others, we really don't. Often times "we already have what we are searching for inside of us". My friend Monnie told me that back in 2003. I didn't know what she meant, but now I know. That run turned out to be just what I needed to clear my head, think through some things, pay attention to my form and asses why I stop so much while running. It was a perfect run to figure out some things about myself. I needed alone time with just me and my thoughts.
  • If my skin is feeling raw (due to my condition or a crazy chemical burn.... long story), I am not making excuses or being lazy about going for a swim. It just doesn't make sense to get into a public pool with chlorinated water that could possibly aggravate my raw skin even more.
  • Pacing myself while cycling hills, especially when I don't know the course, is really the smart thing to do. I tend to get all excited and want to CHARGE up the hills and then I burn out later in the ride. Pacing is key to endurance! Pacing is important in life. I need to take things slower and figure it out instead of just jumping in sometimes.
  •  It's true that I have not conditioned myself enough for some of the distances that I have run and that is probably one of the reasons why I fall apart on every single triathlon run. However, my diet is probably a very strong contributing factor as well. I have been reading more on nutrition for distance runners and it's not just a good idea to get enough carbs and energizing foods the day before a long run, but what you eat during the week leading up to the long run is just as important. Also, eating something sweet before a long run is not a good idea, because although, I will burn it off, that sugar high usually turns in a "crash and burn" feeling. So, I will not have desert the night before my long runs. There is no such thing as "I earned this desert" or "I will burn this desert off, so it's okay".  If I want desert, I will have it, but not if I will pay for it during my training. I don't need to make training any harder for myself than it already is.
  •  Sometimes I just really need more sleep. Our bodies repair itself when we rest and with all the extra mental and physical stress, sometimes I just need a little extra. If I can get it, then why not? It does not mean that I am being lazy. I may just need an extra hour or two to get recharged so I can continue to deal with everything effectively.
  • Dehydration can make you feel exhausted and ill. I previously thought that the only symptoms were thirst, dry lips or cramping. Sometimes water alone is just not enough for me. I really should make sure I stay hydrated with coconut water or an electrolyte drink while training throughout the week and not just for the long runs and long bike rides.

There have been many lessons learned from training this season. The answer to all of my questions are all, "No". No, it's not that I am not being tough enough. No, I am not being lazy. No, I am not just making excuses? No, I have not bitten off more than I can chew. {I am sure all of those double negatives drove someone reading this crazy}... It's just that I have a lot of stressful things going on all at once. My approach of not extending myself too much, working on remaining "whole" and eliminating the stressful people/things/articles/television shows, etc., that weigh on me, is probably a good and permanent approach. If something/someone doesn't serve me in some way, I can't give any energy to it. I just simply don't have the energy to give. All I want to do is focus on my job, my training, my family and spend some times with friends who actually care about me... Unfortunately, the beach and exploring another country will have to wait awhile.

5 weeks until Augusta Ironman 70.3!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sunday Morning Swimming

I'm in Georgia this week and need to get some work outs in, as time is rapidly passing by and Augusta Ironman 70.3 and the Marine Corp Marathon will be here before we know it! I reached out to a few nationwide triathlon groups on FB about places to swim and Ann-Marie responded. I was excited that Ann-Marie not only gave me some suggestions of places to swim but offered to swim with me. Game ON.... or so I thought.

Ann-Marie and I first met at the track at Piedmont Park to get some speed work in. The workout was hard, as expected, but the humidity made it tough on the lungs which made the rain much welcomed. I was a little pressed for time, so we had to cut our time at the track short and head to the pool. Yeah... Ann-Marie neglected to tell me beforehand that she swam competitively back in the day. I knew that she gave swim lessons earlier that morning and that she probably wanted to get a swim in herself, instead of coaching me, but urra uhm... that is what ended up happening after she saw me swim.

She just had this "look" on her face and so I decided to welcome any tips or suggestions.... and then it began. Ann-Marie first told me about a few things I was doing wrong and suggested that I do this and that... Then,  she pretty much just let me have it, with a big old Georgia smile. All I could do was laugh. This chick basically told me "You ain't going NO where fast if you keep up that SUNDAY MORNING SWIMMING!".  I was so focused on my swim form and trying to gliiiiiiide through the water and swim prrretttty and not disturb the water, but basically she told me to pick up the pace and do the dang thang! She told me to say this in my head as I swam, "1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2" and stroke each time I said it. I decided to say "1-PULL-1-PULL-1-PULL", because she had told me that I wasn't really PULLING ( This is when your arm is underwater and you are stroking back. You are supposed to really PULL yourself through the water). So, I guess I have been lollygagging as I swim and taking it easy like Sunday morning. Okay.

I tried the "1-PULL-1-PULL" tempo in my head for a lap and was breathing HARD at the end of the lane. She said, now THAT is how you swim when you are trying to go somewhere. She pointed out that for my cool-down, I could go back to my "Sunday morning swimming", but if I Sunday morning swam the whole time, my cool down would just be to stop swimming. Ha! She then told me of a lady she coached for an Ironman that was a "Sunday morning swimmer". She said in 2 weeks, this lady had gotten dramatically faster. Well, damn. I got it!

No more Sunday morning swimming for me! Thanks Ann-Marie!!

7 weeks until Augusta! YIKES......