Monday, March 30, 2009

Just training

There are ups and downs to training. Fortunately, I experience mostly ups. I am lucky for this. But I also work for it. I work mentally to make all my training a positive.
This past week was tough. The hours are building. At the beginning of this month, I was soaking up the rays in sunny southern California. Since then, I have logged nearly 50 hours of training. Each week, upon scanning my training schedule, I have felt 'nervous.' How could I do it?
But towards the end of each block, often in the midst of the longest and arguably the hardest workout of the week, I have felt success. I have realized that hey, this wasn't too bad.
My body had ups and downs. There were a few sore days. There were a few days where exhaustion was the word of the hour. There were even a few days that I feared an injury was looming.
Sorry. I wasn't going to let those things get me down.
I rallied. I slept. I ate well. I iced. I rolled. I stretched. I pushed and I pushed.
And now, I rest. Ahhh. Feels great.
There's nothing quite like accomplishing something that seems so tough when you start out.

This past weekend my workouts weren't easy. It wasn't so much the workout as it was the weather. I know, the weather seems to headline way too many of my blog posts. But when you live in Maine and you're trying to train for triathlons, it is an issue.
I planned all week for my 4+ hour brick...Outside!!! This was finally the week. The weathermen said mostly sunny and 50s. Great. I can work with that. No problem. I refused to get hung up on the fact that most of the roads I ride on are still Covered with sand and frost heaves. I would deal with that when the time came.
Saturday morning arrived. Ok. 35 degrees. Foggy. Rain. Um, hello channel 6? where's my sun? I heard a lot of athletes shouting out this cry Saturday morning. I waited and waited. Finally, 11:00 and I HAD to start this thing! It was only 37 and really raining. Grrrr. I was grouchy. I waved goodbye to my kids and husband who headed 20 miles North to ski. THEY had Sun all day by the way!
I decided I would start on the trainer, again. 1 hour. that was it. It would clear. And when 1 hr was up and it was only 41 and still foggy and rainy I still bundled up (Ange style...see previous post...only This time I Needed it!) and headed out. Not too bad at first. I was good. this would be ok. I chugged along for a while. But you know, my feet literally froze! I had socks, baggies over the toes, and Three toe covers for my shoes!! I hung in there for 2 hours. I was miserable. I decided to finish the ride inside and then do my run. I think you can imagine how many clothes I was going through for two trainer sessions, an outside ride in the cold, and a run. I really hoped my feet would defrost before I ran. Nope. All my toes were white and numb. SHoot I stuck my socks in teh dryer while I changed for outside.
All that and you know what? It was a great workout. I felt so so great on my run .I had to hold back. I wanted to go for miles and miles. And my biking was a lot stronger than the week before. So, success. A crazy day, but in the end I did the entire workout and I felt great.
Sunday was a long run. More crazy weather to deal with. More gear. Two hours in 35 degree rain again. I tell ya....spring? Hello? Any time now!!!
I was slow and it did hurt but I did the work. I did the run.
Day after day I will do the work. It is requiring more and more perserverence, more creativity with the family, and more and more hard work.
But to me,that's what makes the finish line oh so sweet.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I took the bike outside!!!!!!!!!! I say finally, but really it's still March in Maine and anything can happen in March. I am actually proud of myself for being out there this early in the season.

It was comical. I didn't want to be cold. For some reason I Hate being cold on the bike. I don't mind it so much while running. But biking, nope. It's different. My feet freeze. My hands freeze. yuck. I dont' concentrate on riding, I concentrate on how cold I am. I live in a Very hilly area and so 50% of the time I am descending...brrr.
I am now a seasoned triathlete (I can pretend anyway..). I was going to be smart and prepared for this ride.
I waited until noon so the skies could warm up. It was 22 when I ran this a.m., 32 after dropping the kids, and at take off time: 43.
The "old me" would have been scared at that. Refused to try really. Not now. Now I am Tough! (I'm trying here.)
I got out all the warm stuff:
warm biking pants
loose running pants to go over those
a tight short sleeve thin underarmour shirt
a thicker and much warmer underarmour shirt over that
a random long sleeve warm shirt over that
a long sleeve tight fitting fleece zip up underarmour
and on top, my warm biking coat!
a balaclava
warm winter gloves
and the Best move of the day
THREE layers of toe covers for my shoes --- I do mean this one...that was a good move (remember that post I wrote about my cold feet? ;)
I think that was it.
I was pretty stiff. Not-much-flexibility
that's ok! I was going to be WARM!!!
I donned my helmet and glasses and off I went. Down the hill. See, I have to start going downhill!! A whole Mile! It can be a chilly way to start.
I was warm! Ha! I did it.
But wait. My EYES!? My eyes were watering so badly....I could barely see. My eyes were cold. Ok, suck. it. up! I was truly laughing at myself here.
I had a great great time. I did have to literally stop, unclip and turn a few corners oh so carefully as there's about 2 inches of deep sand on most of the backroads. They won't sweep for at least another month. (for the southerners...they sand our roads all winter so it's not too slippery. It's cheaper than rock salt.)
I felt so free. I was actually moving down the road! Take that 4 hour trainer ride!! Did I mention that before? Yes, I conquered four looooooooong hours on the trainer on Sunday. It HURT! LIterally. I couldn't sit, on a chair, for a couple days. Probably should get some real bike shorts instead of tri shorts I guess. Lesson learned. Ironman training requires real bike pads.
Aero was out of the question. I had too much on! I could barely bend to that position (ok I could) but there were so many clothes between my chest and my legs it just did not work.
I pedalled along enjoying the fresh air. Sweating.
My feet were warm though.
Ooohh A cop! slow down. Ha, you're on the bike dear, in your dreams.
I made it home and frantically peeled off the layers. Lesson learned. when you live in climates like this with ever changing weather, you have to learn what combination of clothing works for different temperatures.
I have different combos for running when it's 15 vs. 25 vs. 41. Same goes for biking...this was a new temp for me. I was a virgin sub-50 degree biker. I had to start somewhere!

ok, stop laughing.


It just came to me a few minutes ago. I was getting ready to put away the groceries, and it just popped in my head. I Must take a moment to say Thanks to all my support out there. Every single day, I receive support in this sport in one way or another.

I was going to sit and write today about all my training last week and this week. It's been a tough stretch. The hours are building. There have been intervals to make and heart rates to reach all on pretty dead legs. Oh, and the dog bite. Yeah, I got jumped by three dogs while on my long run. I was 6 miles from home. Three big dogs bounded out of a driveway. These weren't 'happy just to see you' dogs. They were growling and ticked off. At least that's how they looked to me! One of the little darlin's jumped up and grabbed onto my arm. I may be tough and strong but this scared me, a lot. I have often feared dogs that run at me while I'm training. Are they going to take a chunk out of my leg muscle and end my season? Come on people...keep the dogs on a run if they have a tendency to run after innocent people. So anyway, I hollered out in my panicky voice because I saw a man in the yard. He called them in and that was that. I ran away. My arm stung. I looked at it and sure enough, teeth marks and blood. I was mad. I was worried (can you get infections? ) and well, mad!!! Within a few minutes, a woman drove up to me to make sure I was ok. Apologies do go a long way. She diffused me for sure. She assured me that the dogs are usually in the garage (?huh? ) but they got out. We'll see. And my tetnas shot is up to date so no worries. I had a nice bruise to show for it but no lasting problems.
I went off on a side note there but it was a story worth telling. I will now carry pepper spray..
Yes, the training is great. I'm working super hard. I'm tired but I feel strong. I know I have many many more long and much harder weeks.

But what I want to say the most is a Huge Thank you. Whether it's support from my husband, my kids, my Mom, my friends, my nutritionist and friend Marni ( or my coach Jen (, I am so appreciative. Seriously. I coudn't do it without you guys! It might be affirmation that I hit a 100 free hard enough, or ran the miles fast enough, or acknowledgement that I am trying to keep up with everythign at home And train hard for an Ironman. It might be help planning meals and figuring out pre/post nutrition or just someone to say Yes! I am constantly organizing training clothes too! It might be my kids saying, "love you Mommy. No, we dont' mind that you aren't here in the mornings. YOu're here all day with us." All those things add up. Day after day after day.
Sometimes I 'watch' myself struggle through a day, trying to get it all done. I usually don't succeed. But huh, I do always get the training in. I do find a way to bike for 2 hours even if that dirty bed mat sits in the laundry....trying to train my little one to stay dry at night!! I watch myself waddle through this life and wonder, "how did this happen? " When did Triathlon start to completely absorb all my waking moments? Last I knew, it was 2006 and I was going to 'give it a try.' I thought I could do alright with it since I could swim and run. It's been a crazy whirlwind over the past three years.
Here I am. Heading into year four. I am proud of my accomplishments. I can hold on with the young girls out far. I'll conquer this Ironman soon. It is taking a lot of hard work, a lot of discipline, time, pushing through the fatigure, and a lot of perserverence. I can handle those things myself. But I could not make it to the starting line on July 26th without the support of all of You!!! Thank you guys!!!!!!!!!
I think of you all day to day and am so grateful.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I found a new Zone

I've discovered a new place, a new zone.
It's a place deeper inside me.
It hurts a bit more.
But I do believe it's what will take me up a notch. I believe it.

I know my body well. I know my different levels of hurt. Of work. Of suffering. I can run along at a nice pace, I can go faster, I can push harder than that, and I can run until my legs feel like they're going to fall off and I will gasp my last breath. That 5K feeling....
And the water. Ahh, the water. You see, I have been in the water "making it hurt" since I was about 8. Swimming came naturally to me as a kid. I was lucky. My Dad was a jock and somehow I was blessed with some solid athletic genes. Dad taught me about working hard. Not giving up. Always doing your best.
So that's what I did. I have always worked hard. At everything I believe. It's just who I am. I do believe in giving it my all.
I no longer swim with teammates. I do miss swimming with my HS and College friends. We really were a family. And workouts were a whole different experience than they are now. And, sigh, that was a long time ago....
Now I swim alone. Typically I have my own lane. There are no teammates who swim 3 seconds faster to pull my along, to make me push harder.
It's just me. Most of the time I can make the intervals. I have to work hard to get in on some of them, but I do it. I know just the right speed to make 100s on 1:20 for ex. I can do that. It gets hard for sure. And I work hard. I really do.
I took it up a notch the other day and now I know. I know I have more in there. I have a new zone. I was digging even deeper. Pulling even harder. I thought I had been going as fast as I could. I thougth I knew my 'fastest my hardest zone.'
Ha!! I was wrong! Yeah!
so now I have raised the bar for myself. I will no longer accept the other speed. The other pull. the other pace. Its' gone.
I have had a few solid workouts lately.
Instead of taking it right to the pace I'm supposed to and holding it and gradually backign down as the body fatigues, I take it back up. The only way to get to the next level is to push beyond where you think you can. Dig more. Dig longer. It's those moments that will change your season.
Try it.
You might surprise yourself.
And man is it fun.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Toothpicks anyone?

That's what I need right now. For my eyes.
I am asleep on my feet.
I'm nailing my workouts right now. My motivation is high. I am kicking my own ass each day and loving it. I had a swim this morning and broke down a new barrier. I went so much faster than I have been...I raised the bar for myself. I love it.
But triathlon training is not just about the workouts. It's about fitting those workouts in and staying Awake and Functioning through real life After the training!!!

I woke up at 4:15 today. And yesterday.
I have been hunting for leprechauns today. All. Damn. Day. I kid you not. this was cute and fun at first. But now I'm SICK OF IT!!!!!
And why am I so sick of it? Because I am so so so sleepy!
I could just go to bed earlier. How? I really do try. But once all 3 are in bed, some time around 8, I have stuff to do that got neglected all day. Or maybe I just want to sit and be Me for an hour with my husband.
I'm struggling to find more sleep.
Where are you sleep? Tomorrow is a 6:00 wake up. Muuuuch better.

I know I'll feel better later. I just need a few toothpicks to get me through the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A beautiful day

It was a beautiful day in Maine today. The sun was shining. And it was warm! I believe it was in the mid 40s. Yes, that is warm right now. It's all your perspective. It's been freezing for months so above 40s is practically beach weather.

I set my alarm this a.m. But this time it was set for 7:00 instead of 4:15. Much much better. I rolled out of my warm flannel sheets by 7:30 and took my time getting breakfast for the boys. I enjoyed some coffee, some oatmeal, and a banana. Today was my long run day. I was really looking forward to it.

Warm sun on my face. Dry roads. It doesn't get better than that.

We also planned on skiing today. So the kids and Mark packed up as I headed out the door.

I am so lucky. I really am. I thought about this a lot on my run. My husband practically forced me to sleep in and meet them at the mountain after lunch so I could enjoy my run. Thanks Hun. He's really great about this. He looked at me as I left and said, "Please...enjoy this. We will be fine. It's good for me to be alone with them sometimes." Wow. I am really really lucky for his support.

So off I went. I felt Great. Great. I am so happy about this. My running was heavy and effortful for a while back in January. It hurt. Now, it is fun. It is relaxing. (Not too relaxing....:) Dont' worry Jen.)

I just ran and ran. I ran up and down and up and down. Big long hills, short steep hills, a few flat all felt good. Nothign felt hard. I just love when I am blessed with these awesome runs. My love for the sport comes pouring back in.

I had a painless two hour run. How can that be? My new running shoes are a whole size bigger than my foot. Yes, it's true. It sounds absurd. But I have serious foot pain from Morton's neuromas. Both feet. Well, one was excised 3 years ago but I guess it must be the scar tissue that plagues me in that foot. Regardless, they burn and then go numb and then ache for most runs over 6 miles. Not today baby!!!! 14 miles of pain free running!! I was in heaven.

I thought about this and that. I thought all things over. For the last 4 or 5 miles I mostly thought about Ironman. I visualize myself in races a lot. When I'm in the pool, I often visualize myself racing the 500 in the sprint race coming up. But today on my run I visualized myself on various parts of the Lake Placid run course. I imagine seeing friends out there with me, I imagine seeing family there to support me, and I imagine myself running under the Ironman arch at the finish line. I practically get teary Now thinking about that.

Every day my training brings me a step closer. Day by day I am closer to being prepared. I will do this. I will do it well. I will do everything in my power to prepare for July 26th.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Don't you love it...

when you feel fast in a workout. When you start pre dawn with legs of rubber...feeling the previous day's effort, but as you warm up they start to feel strong and powerful. When you run off the bike and go Faster than before but with the same effort! When you get ansty and excited for the season ahead. When you look forward to the next day's workouts instead of dreading them. When you feel confident and ready. Ready to race. But alas....this is Maine right now. There are no lakes ready for us. There are no roads ready for biking. Please please Mother Nature...stop dropping the white stuff. We eat up winter and enjoy the outdoors but it is time for some warm sun here in the Northeast.
But I'm feeling strong and fast and excited. So I'll keep my chin up and enjoy the trainer and treadmill a Little bit longer......just a little.

Happy Birthday Nicholas

I can't believe my baby is 5. Happy Birthday little one. You're amazing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another world for a week

San Diego. It's the opposite corner of the country from Maine. I lived there for almost a year as a 22-23 year old. It was my escape year. I was escaping real life. I had graduated from college and things were up in the air. I did something rather uncharacteristic for me and took off...I spontaneously changed my plans and drove away from home. I landed in southern California and lived a life so foreign to me. I played on the beach every day. I walked in sunshine every day. It's a whole different place out there.
Last week I was able to return. I travelled many hours with Mark and our 3 little guys to a world of sunshine and fun. It was strange for me to go back. When I was out west as a young girl, my life was scattered. I was just living day to day. I didn't know how it would end. Would I stay there? Would I return to my roots? The friends I had there are gone. I have lost touch with them. It was almost as if that year disappeared from my reality. But when I started driving the streets again, it all came back. That really was me out there. I found my old apartments. I found familar restaurants. The beach I ran on.
The difference was that I had my family. My kids. My husband. I no longer feel lost and disconnected. I guess things happen for a reason. That time in California was good for me. It made me realize where I belong. I am a northeasterner at heart. I love the seasons. The fresh spring air, the hot summers on the coast, the smell of dried up leaves in the fall, and yes, winter. I love that too.
However, last week was awesome. As tiring as vacations with young kids are, they are good for the soul too. We were all exhausted from a 3:30 wake up and 8 hr travel day on the way out and we're all jet lagged still. But we have fresh minds and new memories.
My training did continue while I was there. I had a recovery week which was perfect for the family schedule. My husband was attending seminars for 3 days and we had evening committments with that so time was an issue.
My favorite was this pool. (Click on the image for a nice big view...Alina, Mary, Jen, Steve..doesn't that look great!) It was 50meters of heaven. Open air, lots of sun, and uhh Fast 400s! (right Jen? :) I did work hard in there but somehow it seemed easier being outside with the ocean a few hundred yards away.

I was also able to enjoy a few long runs along the beach and harbor while I was there. I rented a bike too. I wasn't able to escape for hours at a time but I did love the feel of actually moving down the road again.... has it been 6 months??? Pretty much.

This is Tommy and Cameron in the pool at the hotel. They spent many many hours just jumping in and out of the water. This was also the First time that Nicholas hopped in the pool to play....alone! Yahooo..swimming lessons are paying off! Go Nick!

Of course we visited the Zoo....

King of the orangutans...This guy was HUGE!

Tommy looking at the Polar Bear from Mark's arms..

One of the highlights for the kids was our trip to Mirimar Marine Air Base. We were able to get on an F18 Hornet (cool military fighter plane....I'm sure I got this wrong) and we watched several take off with the afterburner on. Young pilots showed us the cockpits (Hello...HOT Marine Men! Woah. that was the highlight for me) and we were given a tour of many other planes. Think: Top Gun. We were at the base where that was filmed and on those planes. The boys got all dressed up for the big event.

This boy of mine is too much....gotta love that grin...

How cute is this...I even got an "awww" out of the boys. I spent an afternoon in La Jolla with the boys. What a beautiful coastline...I must say, it even rivals Maine's coast.

La Jolla-The Children's cove...we counted 178 seals...amazing.

A day of whale watching...I got laughed at for these pictures. You can see the splash though...a beautiful day on the Pacific.

This is the face on poor Tommy as we drove to the airport. Genuine saddness... I don't know what Nick was up to.


California was a blast. Fun family times. Fun training. (albeit fairly limited) Warm days. Sunshine. All good stuff.

All that said, I am so happy to be home. I am missing the sunshine and THIS AWESOME POOL!!! But otherwise it's nice to be back to our routine.
More stories and pictures soon....