Saturday, January 31, 2009

Not this year

Tomorrow is my first race of the year. It's the annual 10 mile road race in my hometown. I've done this race on and off since some time in the 90s. I had to miss the race a few years ago because my arm was in a sling after shoulder surgery but last year I was there. I had a PR. It surprised me to be honest. I wasn't sure I was ready to run that fast.
For some reason, I always feel doubtful when I head into this race. It's the first of the year. I haven't used my fast legs too much yet. I question my fitness. I question my ability to move fast.

Not this year. Coach Jen gave me an awesome pep talk and I am no longer miss wishywashy. I am ready to go.
I believe in myself.
I know I have guts.
I like to hurt. "make it hurt" has been a motto of mine ( and my Dad' s ) all my life.
If it doesn't hurt, if you don't suffer a bit, of course you're not going to go faster. You're not going to PR.
I think sometimes one expects to just "have the speed." In other words, one expects it to jut come out when you want it to.
But you know what. It doesn't work that way. Your personal cruise control speed might get faster from year to year but if you want to take yourself up a notch, it has to hurt. It has to. You have to dig deep and go for it.
I know we all know this. Of course it hurts.
But you know, isn't it easy to just back off a bit after it starts to hurt for a bit. You know, you've been running hard and you kick it in and then you start to hurt. Really hurt. there's really no word that's better. So it's hurting, and you slow down. It's human nature I think. We like to feel good!
If you dig deeper when the pain comes on, if you push through and keep moving, THat's when you breakthrough. That's when you get what you want out of your race.
Just don't do it in teh first mile! Ha!! That's a whole other story. ( My friends know I've had to learn this lesson the hard way!)

So--tomorrow is the day. Kick off to 2009.
Make it hurt baby.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One more baby step

My legs are feeling it tonight. I had some solid workouts this weekend. I am feeling strong, sore, tired and ready for a nice rest week now.
Saturday mornign I woke up at 4:10 and hopped in the car to Portland.
I was excited to spend the morning with friends for a long group ride. Trainer ride that is. And because I live in Maine, and awake to temperatures like -8 with snow covered roads, trainer rides are all we have.
I was so happy to be there with this group. Most are good friends and in fact, most will be doing Ironman Lake Placid with me.
We rode for 2:45 and worked hard. I loved it all. But the ride was a solid hour + longer than any ride I've done since November, so I was tired!
After changing, chatting a bit, grabbing a coffee and a bagel, I hurried home. I was off to my oldest son's basketball game. As soon as that ended at 11:30, we rushed home for me to change, again.
We were off to the mountain for a 1/2 day of skiing.
After a huge effort with 3 small boys, we only fit in 2 measly runs. The wind was whipping the lifts around and it was under 10 degrees so unfortunately, it wasn't too fun out there. My legs were secretly happy to stop!
Today was my long run. I admit that I was not entirely into it at first. I was so tired. My 2 littlest boys were up at 5:45!!!!! Why is that? It was the Only day All week for me to sleep past the 4 a.m. hour and those little buggers were running down the hall before 6!! I did go back to sleep, bu tnot for long. I was sad.
I finally got my energy and mood up and decided to head out. The forecast had been for sub 10 degree weather but surprisingly it warmed up to about 20! And there didn't appear to be any wind. No treadmill for me!
I had 3 warm layers on top, running tights with another looser pair of pants over those, gloves, neckwarmer, and a headband. I was set. Oh, and my MP3 player.
My first 1/2 mile is uphill. I felt So heavy. My legs were like lead. I took it slow. I was chilled but knew I would warm up.
Before long, I was fine. Toasty really. WArm. I had too much on! I stopped and took 1 pair of pants off and burried them in a hole in the snow with a pine branch over them. Seems like overkill but I had a vest stolen once. I ran on. I felt better. Looser. My HR was solid in z2 and I knew this run would improve my mood and fatigue.
Mile 3, the MP3 died. Darn. No problem. It's a good time to think and get used to silent running. I do like that sometimes. Mile 3.5 had a Huge hill. I was SO warm. I took off the 2nd shirt, tied it around my waist, and motored on.
And then, the wind.It changed. Miles 5 and 6 are on a different road so I figured it woudl go away when I turned back again. I had my neckwarmer over my face, my fingers inside my gloves and just kept going and hoping. Hoping those temps weren't going to drop too fast.
I turned onto the road I thought woudl be better and was hugely disappointed. It was Worse! the wind was whipping in my face. My core was starting to chill. My hands. My hands were getting really bad.
I saw No cars for the final 5 miles. Nobody. Nothing. I was out there. I live in rural Maine and this was a quiet, cold, windy, winter road. Brrr. That's all I can say. Brrr. Pure cold. I actually enjoy cool running air. But this was starting to get frigid. Painful. NOt. FUn. At. All. My hands started to have these numb tingly painful feelings. I took my glove off to look and my left hand was so puffy and white but red in spots. Oh no. Not good. I took my headband off, put the hat in my pocket on, and wrapped my hand in the fuzzy headband andstuck it in my pocket. I had to run with my hands in my pocket! I had no choice but to run and run and run. if I slowed down, it would take Longer to get home. longer to get warm. I grabbed hte pants in the snow and wrapped those around the other hand. My eyes were watering.
It just wasn't pleasant at all.
Here's what I got out of it.
Another session of mental training. I have decided to focus on that this season. I have learned through several race situations just how Key your mental toughness and focus can be.
If your head gives up, it's over. Of course you need your physical strength and endurace, but you really have to have your head on.
I did make it to my house and after stripping the cold stuff on, sitting around in a fuzzy robe, and then enjoying a hot shower, I survived. Of course. I had visions of freezing on the side of my remote beautiful run route. But no, I lived. :)
But best of all, I had another situation that forced me to continue on despite the pain. One little babystep towards Ironman.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Get OFF that Wall!!!

Sometimes it only takes one event, one change in plans, to throw my whole system off.
I was off yesterday. Completely off.
I have a routine. And I had momentum.
I have been working pretty hard for the past few weeks. Kicking of 2009 with fresh training. I love it.
Wednesday was a different mid-week day because we were heading out for the night. We had a babysitter lined up adn we'd be home late. But, we'd be home. Plans changed and around noon it was decided that my kids would stay with my parents for the night so Mark and I could stay in the free hotel room we were offerred. (we were at an important business event for my husband.) That was great because it meant I would be there on time and wouldn't have to leave early. This was an important for my husband and I wanted to be supportive.
But look out.....spontanaeity is Not my middle name! This was a change in plans and HOw would I deal with my a.m. workout? Be flexible Ange. I reminded myself that it IS in fact only January and it would all work out.
And I had a plan. I would scramble just a Little bit more and be prepared for an early spin class at my shop in town. Perfect. Mark could get the kids from my parents and get them to school since we had 2 cars. Ok, all settled.
Well, bedtime was 11:30. That was the first hint. THen, I couldn't sleep. I mean, how can someone SO tired be So awake at 1 a.m? I had been up since 4:20! My mind was going 100 miles/hour. I was just awake. Around 3:30, I reset the alarm from 5 to 6. There goes spin class. Darn. Now what. All I knew was I had to sleep at Least 2 hours! Right? I stayed awake even longer thinking of my next plan.
I would get up at 6, head rigth home (1 hr away), do my workout, and then Mark would come alone with my 4 yo a bit later. It was a good plan.
Another curveball.
I got home and my house was 48 degrees!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhh. That is NOT at all tolerable. You see, we no longer heat with oil. Yeah! But boo to the new system, so far. We converted to wood pellets. I will spare you all the boring technical details. In the long run, I am sure it'll be great. How can't it be!? But for now, we have major issues. There are about 25 people in Maine with this new system. Most are thrilled. About 4 are losing their minds. We are in that group. It shuts off all the time. Usually we catch it early enough and the house doesn't freeze. But my spontaneous overnight caused us some major issues. It took All day to warm this place up again. not good.
As a result, I was off my game yesterday. I was late getting on my bike because I had to call soemone to help me get heat running and then stand around and watch all that. (Hubby getting kids and still a few hrs away)
I was exhausted.
I was mad.
Did I say exhausted?
So, yesterday's workout was Not my best. I felt bad about that. All day long. I stewed. I reassurred myself. And then I stewed some more. I know it's just ONE workout, but in my mind they All matter. They are All linked together. I really do usually Try to do each one just right.
I was also appalled at how one little day can throw someone's momentum off so much. I just had no motivation. No excitement.
I think sleep really really can get you down...or lack of sleep rather.

I went to bed early and started fresh today.
I'm back.
I had an awesome swim set (thanks Jen!!) with some killer intervals. Intervals that I would not have ever given myself. I was challenged.
So I did it.
I pushed So so hard and quite frankly, surprised myself a few times.
Fast swimming secrets started to come back to me. I remembered simple things. For ex, a flip turn is NOT a time to Rest!!! You have to engage those abs and flip over fast and GET OFF THAT WALL!!!! I really worked on these little things and you know what, it worked.

So if you have one of those days, and we all do I imagine, just wipe yourself off and start over.
It will be ok. As long as it doesn't become the norm.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I feel like a fairly confident person.
I believe in myself.
I do know I work hard to do things "right." Whatever that is...
And I try Very hard not to be selfish. I mean, is it Possible to be selfish when you are raising children?
I work hard to be a good wife, a good Mom, a good friend, a good daughter, and a good sister.
I have nothing but the best intentions for these things.
Of course, we all have our moments. We all make mistakes. Let's all remember that song, "Everyone makes mistakes oh yes they do" I believe it was from Sesame Street...about 100 years ago. My Mom used to sing it to me. My 7 yo son brought it up at dinner last night! I can't remember what he did...but he quickly reminded us that Grammie sings that to them when they're at her house. hmmm, wonder what they do to provoke that little tune from her. All I ever hear are raving reports of their "perfect" behavior. Off on a tangent there....
Ok, where am I going with this?
Why do I continue to feel the need to justify my training/racing with those outside the sport?
People out there seem to really question me and the time I spend running, biking, and swimming.
Here's where my confidence fizzles.
I can't tell if they're "impressed" or "disgusted."
Do they wish they could do it too or do they think I MUST be depriving my family from quality Mom/wife time?
My alarm rarely goes off after 5 a.m. Even on the weekends. Today is my birthday after all and I was up at 4:45 and I am still doing laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, and nursing a sick little boy. I am not selfish. I don't think....
" I don't know how you do it. I mean, you do have a really young family. How do you get all the housework done? How do you take care of everything else?"
I I just do.
Was that a criticism I just heard? Or a compliment? Tell me. Which was it? Cause right now I feel like a shmuck. Or do I feel proud of myself?
Stick me on a starting block or in the front of a pack at a triathlon start and I feel like superwoman. I am strong, confident, sure of myself.
Question my mothering and I wither into a puddle.
Why is this?
Maybe it's because I have succeeded in my athletic life but the verdict on my mothering is still out there.
When I am 84 and the kids are 55, 53 and 51, perhaps I'll hear some nice feedback about their childhood or what a supportive, loving Mom I was. Maybe. Please boys? We all wish for this someday. (reminder your Moms. )
I have stepped back from my career to raise these little people.I have a Master's degree in my chosen field and yet I do not even bring a single dollar into this household lately. This is for them..not me. I am here every single day for them. No matter what. And I love it. I am thankful that I can do this. I feel lucky. And I enjoy it.
Is it so bad that I squeeze a few hours out of the day for myself?
I dont' think so. I do think it's ok. There are millions of books written on this topic. On how it's ok, no, it's Critical for Moms to take time for themselves. I do not miss any sporting events, I do not miss family events, but I do miss a lot of sleep. I do scramble to fold the laundry and does Not get folded!!! It's ok right?
My goal ( one of them of course) for 2009, for my 39th year, is to be more confident about my choices. My husband and I discuss this Ironman plan. We discuss my training. We have made it work for Our family. He knows it is one key part to my happiness. I need to do this stuff. I have always been an athlete and it wont' stop. If it did, I would lose a part of me.
From now on I will not let those naysayers get me down. My kids are happy, well cared for, and their Mom is there for them.
I make a resolution to stop trying to justify myself.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 Happy Moments, Proud Moments, Challenging Times, and things that made me Tough!

My turn to look back on 2008. I am not going to post any resolutions this time. I'm going to remember 2008 and think about some moments I won't soon forget.

I think we can all say that things happen in a year that make us stronger. Things that make us proud. Things that are truly challenging but somehow, hopefully, we overcome them. And, the best, things that make us happy.

In my 2008 year of sport, here are some of my moments.

February at the 10 mile midwinter Classic- turning around at the finish to see my husband running in 10 seconds behind me! That was cool. He's a great runner/athlete hadn't really been training. He "secretly" ran Hard behind me that day and made it the whole 10 miles. I was psyched for him...impressed really.

May - PolarBear Sprint Tri- Overcoming a certain competitor on the bike leg! the BIKE leg! Me!? Passing her on the bike!? Oooh, big thrill there. I actually ended up with fastest bike split that day! Again, me? cool.
Same day-now a challenging moment- Finishing that thrilling bike leg by Falling in a heap at the dismount line (I'm SO cool) and then getting passed moments later by aforementioned competitor. Ok, time to learn toughness. I got to T2, admired my bloody legs, and hammered on. 2nd place is pretty good after all. I didn't melt into a heap and feel sorry for myself after falling, I keep moving and ran hard despite a tad bit of pain. Lesson on toughness #1 of the summer.

June -Lake Placid- riding my first century. I conquered 116 miles of Ironman course hills. Longest ride before that was 75 mi. I even ran after! Big day for me. I knew I was on my way. Big confidence builder.
Same weekend-moment that made me happy-spending quality time with new friends. Another major benefit of this sport. Great people!

July-Urban Epic Olympic Tri-this was a big one for me. Lots of lessons/moments at this race.
#1-I can hold my own in power packed elite swim waves. I must be confident and remember that I can swim hard..this is where it all started after all.
#2-that same swimmer Can meet her match in the water. I had a moment learning how to stay calm-I got stuck under the buoy on the course because of a Mean current. I was literally trapped underwater and Feared for my life. I have Never been scared in water like that. Ever. I was very scared. I called for help with a breath. I came free at that moment and thanked God. Truly. Next wave: course changed.
#3 Challenging moment-I hit my brakes upon missing a turn and flew head over the handle bars. Yes same race as almost drowning under buoy. Ok, I flew over bars and landed on my head. On my shoulder. At that moment, while I layed in the road determining if I could still remember my name, I almost quit the sport. My kid's lives flashed in front of me. I want to see them grown up. Head injuries are not worth tri racing. I was sick. I was in pain. I was scared. I couldn't move my arm. I was bleeding. bike parts were everywhere. Time to learn more toughness. No one was near me. No one. I called, no cried for help. nothing. So, what's a girl to do? Get up darnit. I got up, loaded my bike back up, and hit the road. I still had not been passed by a girl, or a guy. So, Go!!
Shortly thereafter a friend came by and I said, "I hit my head! :( " Looking for sympathy here. Instead, I just kept racing. After a while, I got my mojo back and was able to push on.
#4 Happy, Proud moment in same race (told you this was a big one) - I ran hard. I ran well. I held on despite total pain. I Almost beat a girl who is an elite amateur. She is young and amazing and this is what she does with her life. And she only got me by 5 seconds!!!! That made me happy. If only...nah. can't live that way. I know what I did that day. And because of that day, I am a tougher person.

August -Looking up at the beach before diving in the water at the Maine State Tri. Mom and Dad were there to watch. Surprise. They absolutely rock. World's best parents. I'm a lucky girl and just Hope to be there for my kids like they have been for me.
Same day-Fun moment-slopping my way through knee deep mud on the run course of this race. How can you not Love that! We All had to do it my sister in-law pointed out and she ran along doing it too, just to cheer me on.

August Timberman Half Ironman-
Happy & Proud moment-coming across the line, totally spent, and hugging Mark. "I think I won honey." He smiled calmly, "You definately won." (my age group that is.....= spot in Clearwater.)

September Lobsterman Oly Tri
coming out of the water...first woman....ahead of a superstar swimmer who kicks my butt when we swim together. I have no idea why. But I'll take it.

November World Championships in Clearwater, 70.3
Crossing the finish line with a 14 minute PR
Hugging Mary when she crossed the finish line with a >20 min PR!
Spending Great time with Mary, Andy and Mark at Worlds

There were so many more wonderful moments in 2008 in my triathlon world. So many. I had so much at races with my dear friends Mary and Alina, I grew closer to many new friends and am so thankful for all of them in my life. I even got to know some girls whom I have been racing for a few years and have found new friends in them too. This sport is so great that way. Cut throat on the course but just a great group off people off.

I am fired up for 2009. I can't wait to have many more moments that will help me to be a stronger person and tougher competitor. Even if that darned birthday has to happen this week. I like what Mary said. I'm not young. But I'm not too old either. Bring it on!

I forgot a couple! Not sure how I could forget these:

November - Worlds Award ceremony- My proud moment- standing on the Giant stage with my face and name on the jumbotron while holding my Mdot trophy over my head with the other winners in my age group. Amazing moment for me.

July-Proud and happy moment-watching two of my boys compete in an "Ironkids" race in Lake Placid. They Rocked and had huge smiles the whole time!

July- STanding on a picnic table at MIrror Lake watching the start of Ironman 2008. I was so proud of all my friends heading off on their wild day in the rain and truly moved by the image of all the athletes heading off on such a tough tough day. And soon, that will be me.

I think I could list 100 more moments. So, it's time to lock them away in my memory and move on to 2009!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Getting old....getting cold

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERONE! Here comes 2009...ready or not.
My birthday is next week so I might be in the the 'or not' camp. I will have 1 more year in my age group. I have been watching age groups since I was in 10 & U swimming. I can't believe I'm turning gulp, 39, and still paying attention to age groups.

I need some advice. It's about feet. Yes, feet. I hate feet in general. There's really nothing attractive about them in my opinion.
But I have very very bad high maintenance feet. This can be an issue for someone who loves to swim, bike and run. For a skier. For a Mom who likes to play outside in the snow wiht her boys. For a Mainer with coooooold temps from time to time.

Issue # 1- Neuromas. I have battled with this since ~1999. Bad stuff. Painful. Annoying. I had surgery in my right foot in 2005. Now, the left foot is bad and I have scar tissue in the right which makes it just as bad as before. I'm dealing with this. Basically, I can't run more than 8-9 miles without seeeeerious pain. Again, this is just my reality and I am dealing with it. This is one of the the biggest challenges I may face next summer in my first Ironman. Will my feet let me finish?

Issue #2- Chilblains!! I just found the real clinical name for this weird thing that started happening to me last year!!! Basically, the feet have a painful abnormal reaction of the small blood vessels in skin when exposed to the cold. The constriction of the small blood vessels and the rewarming process causes leakage of blood into the tissue. The result is painful, swollen, itchy, red/purple feet that can split (yes! mine do) and put you at risk for infection. (hard for feet to heal because of constant use.) It Hurts!! I had this last winter and after weeks and weeks went to the one had a clue but one guy did say it was some form of a "cold injury." As soon as the cold weather started this year, it came back. Right now, they are ok but I am at risk for this. Why?? No clue.

Issue #3- I'm not sure why I started getting this chilblain thing but as a result, my feet are SUPER sensitive to the cold now. This is the worst thing at this point. I took my kids tubing yesterday for 1 measly hour. I was in Agony before we left. I had polypro socks with smartwool socks over those and what I thought were decent LLBean boots. (not "bean boots" for all Mainers reading this...those are cold...these are just from Beans and are supposed to be warm witner boots.) I wwas literally in tears. I got new ski boots for Christmas (down hill skiing ) because we thougth last year my issue was old boots that no longer fit. (got them in 1994....3 kids ago) I'm losing hope that this will help.

Anyone else with crazy cold feet? Has anyone used battery powered socks? I can't imagine they work but I'm ready to try Anything! Those little tiny feet warming packs dont' really work very well....but I'll try those again too. But when it's 15 degrees and you're on a chairlift, it doesn't really cut it.

Calling all skiers and people living in the cold!
I need your help!