12/29/07

We all have bad days.



Everyone has one. You wake up and everything goes wrong the rest of the day. You start off a workout feeling "poopy" and it just doesn't get any better. You're having a great day and all of a sudden 5 things go wrong to turn the day upside down. Well, I had one of those days when it just started off "poopy". I stayed with my parents last night so that I could take them to the airport early this morning. They are off to New Orleans for the weekend to catch a ship for their cruise on Sunday. Now, about my bad day. Last night I had a hard time going to bed and it was late when I finally did fall asleep. The alarm went off at 4:40am but since I went to bed around 11pm I was a bit on the sleepy side. My leg is bothering me again (for the past 3 days) so I've been taking it easy with the cycling. Just walking on the treadmill to keep things stretched out and if it is bursitis in my groin, it feels great to walk and swim. I debated about not riding this morning but after dropping my parents off at the airport I was up and what else would I rather do at 6:30am? Karel was joining the group today for the bridge repeaters (easy day for him) so I had a good incentive to ride with the group. I felt fine during the fist 10 miles of the ride which brought me to the group at CVS. I met up with Ray, Bob and Vince, three of the Gearlink guys. When my groin is bothering me I never know how hard to push so I put my chain in the big ring to give me a bit more power. This was the first time since I got my new Blue that I rode in the big ring and it was nice to slow down my cadence just a bit. I probably could have kept it in the small ring but I just wasn't feeling it. At that point, I was thinking maybe I'm not feeling it at all today. I tried to get those negative thoughts out of my head and I really enjoyed the absolutely beautiful (and hot) morning. Once the ride started, we took turns pulling (3 minutes each) as we rode 2 abreast on the road. I was looking forward to getting on the bridge so I could do my own thing. The plan was 14 bridge repeaters (7 each side) and I felt good starting out. My body felt good, I felt like I had enough energy but I had absolutely no power. I just didn't feel it today. I got lapped by the guys and Karel rode with me for 4 climbs until he joined the other guys who were a bit ahead of me on their 14 climbs. Soon after, I have Karel passing me again like he was riding a flat with the wind at his back. Even though the group was finished and refueling at the gas station, I finished my last 4 climbs solo, with only pedestrians starring at me strangely as I climbed the causeway alone. During the 4 climbs with Karel he asked how i was feeling and I told him I just didn't feel powerful. I was tired since I didn't get a good nights rest and I felt like I was riding with people who weren't in my league. Actually, I am no where in their league. Karel nicely explained that some of the guys power up the climbs too hard and it is the winter and there is no reason to race during this part of the season. Karel was extremely nice about everything, giving me pointers on my pedal stroke and gearing, but my ego was down and I just wanted to complain. I was just frustrated with everything, probably all going back to my leg.
Here is my point to the blog, besides me just complaining about how bad I felt during my morning ride...We all have bad days. Karel has bad days (which means I can almost keep up with him), the Gearlink guys have bad days, the Pro's have bad days and newbies have bad days. I had a bad day and I wanted Karel to just deal with it. Actually, as my fiance, I wanted Karel to just listen to me complain..but who wants to do that??? I tried not to be negative about things but complaining, well, sometimes it's just easier to think out loud. I know it's gotta be tough living with someone who has a bad day. How many times has your significant other, mom/dad/bro/sis, training partner or roommate seen you come home after a bad workout? Or even worse, a bad race??? I know it has happened to everyone and the person (as who feels the effects of the athletes' bad day) just has to deal with it. It's no fun, but it happens. Hopefully you live with someone who is positive, uplifting and understanding. I've tested my skills at cheering Karel up after a tough race or workout but it's hard. Sometimes that person just needs to vent and complain. Karel did a good job of trying to rationalize the situation and letting me know that I'm not slow and he's seeing improvements in my climbing. He said that climbing a causeway is not a climb, it is pure power-something I don't have right now. I guess one two many negative comments came out of my mouth but I was so frustrated about how slow I was today. Here I am, a triathlete who went to Kona and I am getting lapped on a causeway! I know, that is a bad analogy. I know i am the slowest on the team but I really felt like I shouldn't be riding with these guys (and Roberta). I was pretty down on myself during the entire ride and I had a hard time really searching inside of me for a time when I was keeping up with the guys. I could have easily thought about the Wed. night rides when I was making all the loops or finishing a Saturday morning ride with the guys, just before I headed out for a brick run. For some reason, I just couldn't find that inner strength to get positive and I just continued to ride in frustration. Now that I am home and expressing my thoughts as I write (which I love to do) I hope that all the people out there who have bad days, find that inner strength to bounce back the next day. I should have listened to Karel and some of the other guys (who knew I was having a bad day) and just ignored my flat ego. Errrr. It was a great morning to ride, I got in 55 miles w/ 14 bridge repeaters and I was able to spend some time with my fast training partners. But when you have a bad day, it is just so frustrating when you just can't change the scenario. Lesson learned: Deal with the bad days quickly, move on in a positive manner and realize that YOUR bad day could be someone's BEST day.

12/27/07

Triathlete Thinking

This morning I went to the Clearwater Y to swim. Rather than going to my normal 5:30am outdoor swim team practice at the Palm Harbor Y, I decided to stay indoors this morning since coach Matt is out of town. There is a small group of guys who swim Tues, Thurs, Friday morning at 6am so it is always nice to try to keep up with these fast guys. At the Palm Harbor Y for the SwimFit practice, I usually swim in my own lane with my own cycle (and own sets during racing season) but I absolutely love being in the pool at 5:30am with so many other people. There are usually around 10-20 people swimming and it is a great group of newbies to veterans. With a lifetime of competitive swimming, I'm use to not getting much rest with touch and go sets and a bit of distance and yardage. But other than that I am no different from all the other triathletes. We all have goals and we all have reasons for being there. As i was swimming I was wondering what each of the guys (5 others) were thinking. For me I often get my inspirations for my blog or an article but with many years of competitive swimming behind me, I've learned to think of nothing during swim practice so that I won't miscount laps. Since only two of the guys competitively do triathlons, I wondered what the others were thinking during the 500 warm-up? What motivates them to get in the water? Is it the competitiveness, is it the camaraderie, is it health reasons or is it because they just like it? I always wonder what people think when they are training, especially when they are swimming. Back and forth, back and forth and every 25 meters/yards you get a wall to make things interesting. How boring! Well, I love it and I was thinking just that as I was in the pool this morning. I guess I have to love the water if I've been swimming competitively for over 13 years. After the warm-up, one of the guys explained the main set. I found it funny that they shortened the set after one of the guys looked at the total yardage for the set. I think it was around 2200 for the main set so they took it down to 1800. The set we did was 2 x 200, 2 x 100. We did that 3 times and each set of 200's and 100's we separately dropped the interval by 15 seconds for each of the 200's and 100's. Well, a total of 45 sec dropped from the first set to last means that the first set felt like nothing. In all, however, I liked the set and it went by fast. As I was swimming, I thought about how hard the guys were pushing but they were getting so much rest. Maybe I enjoy the burning feeling of not getting much rest on the wall but a 100 on 1:45 was a bit too easy for me... and everyone else. They of course beat me by 30-45 sec for most of the set, until the end when I had a bit more steam in me to finish about 20 sec behind them. For most of the 100's I was coming in around 1:15-1:20 which was great for an off-season swim. Anyways, as I was thinking why they shortened the set. First they come to swim so early in the morning and then the set is shorted by a 400. But they were getting so much rest?? Hum, perhaps if I was swimming with a group of triathletes we wouldn't have shortened the set. If anything, we would have made it longer, faster and harder. Perhaps we would have used the words "only" or "that's it?" when looking at the set. I am happy that the guys who don't do triathlons are in the water and I think that for them, the workout today was just perfect for keeping them in the pool on a weekly basis. I always think it is great to find a sport/exercise which you love. You will only continue exercising when you pick something which is enjoyable. As for all those triathletes out there...what is it that keeps you going? I haven't quite figured it out yet since I am still diagnosing myself. What is it that motivates us to get up so early and train so diligently? What are we trying to prove to ourselves that we have to finish a set or get in all the intervals? Why do we often feel so guilty about missing a key workout? It isn't like the triathlon congress will hunt you down and embarrass you for life :) And why do we use the word "only" when to most people our "only" is a distance or a goal which many attempt achieve? The next time you are at the gym, swimming in a pool, out on your bike or running indoors or out, take a minute to think about why you do the things you do. I think for many people it is because you love it, it's a lifestyle and it makes you a better person, both inside and out. And most of all, enjoy what you do everyday! Have a healthy day!

12/26/07

Holiday Fun

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday! My family and I are Jewish so Hanukkah was celebrated on the 5th of December. Karel joined in on the festivities and we lit the menorah and exchanged a gift with my family. Since Hanukkah isn't a big holiday for us it is often compared to Christmas, hence the giving of presents. I am a big present giving and it is really hard for me to keep things from people so I have to wait as long as I can to buy gifts or else i will just ruin the surprise. This year I did well with keeping things secret for Karel's christmas. Since Karel's family lives in Czech I have really tried hard on learning about his Christmas and bringing in his traditions and family customs. Well, in part of the czech christmas we exchange gifts on Christmas Eve and have a nice dinner before the gift giving. After a morning run and swim I got going on the cooking and I was on my feet all day. I absolutely love cooking but part of my job of the Czech Christmas dinner was baking. When I cook, I can substitute ingredients and play with the recipes in order to make them healthy and yummy. Well, in baking I only mess up the final product when I try to make things healthy. Not that it can't be done but I don't have much experience in baking. There is a bread called Vanochka and it is like Challah (breaded bread). I tried my best to at least make it look like the real thing but I'm sure it wasn't as good as Karel's mom's cooking. I tried to be patient about the rising of the dough so I think I did ok. Karel made a fantastic potato salad which is also a tradition from his family christmas dinner. The potato salad is made with all organic and fresh veggies and super healthy for potato salad. Of course his mom grows them at home so they are all super fresh! Another staple for the Czech dinner is carpe but karel uses Grouper, Talapia or Tuna. This year it was Tuna which turned out well (so he says) and it was seasoned tofu for me. I also made a salad for me and sauerkraut soup for Karel. It was a great dinner and karel told me stories of when he was young and his dad would take him for a walk before dinner so that the family would set-up the tree with all the decorations and lights. In Czech and possibly other European places, people wait to put up a tree until Christmas Eve and kids can't see it until Jezisek (baby jesus or American Santa) comes to ring the bell. Once the bell was rung, the tree was lit, dinner was served and then it was present time.
Karel and I were both good this year so Jezisek was nice to both of us. We are good at not buying gifts just for the act of buying (and giving) so we tend to wait until things go on sale, there is a special online or we know that the other one would really like the gift. Of my favorite gifts I got a Super Grover Jersey which I just love! I am a big fan of grover and I collect stuffed animal grovers. For those who need me to clarify, yes, I am talking about Grover from Sesame Street and no I will never grow up! :) I also got the Joe Friel Triathlon Training journal which is perfect since I have been seeing Karel write in his cycling journal and I've been getting a little envious. I was also given a new Women's carbon FSA Handlebar for my bike since my hands are just a bit small for the men's handlebar. What a great gift from my bike guru and I can't be upset with a gift for my bike! And lastly, a Garmin GPS for my car. Ok, I know this was a nice gesture but I must explain. I am notorious for getting lost. I come from Lexington, KY which, although it is a growing town, in my opinion it is quite small compared to anywhere in Florida. I grew up there so I knew all the roads and it was hard to get lost with a circle (New Circle) as our biggest road. I'm use to left and right not east and west and although I can read a map I'm so use to going on instinct and looking for the closest Mc'D's, grocery store or other destination to help me get where I am going. So, I have had far two many "I'm lost" phone calls to karel and my family. I try to give myself enough time but I usually find my way to where I am going with karel (or my dad) getting on the Internet as I am tearing up trying to find my way. I guess Karel was tired of the phone calls and although it was a great gift, I think it was for him to not have to help me with my directions any more :)
I completely spoiled Karel with bike swag. A bike wine rack, bike candle, poster and book. A couple other fun gifts and I think this holiday was great. Regardless if there were 10 presents, one present or no presents I am always happy to have special people in my life. I think the best part of this holiday was getting on my bike on Tuesday morning and riding with karel. We parted after about 10 miles but it was so peaceful and calm outside. The weather was overcast and a bit cool and there were few cars on the road. I saw several runners, walkers and bikers and everyone was so happy. Being on my bike and following my 45 mile ride with a nice breakfast just made for a wonderful morning. So regardless of all the presents, I am so thankful to have a healthy body which allows me to do so many fun things. I'm thankful that I can run again and I'm thankful that I have a loving family and lots of great friends. I hope everyone had a nice holiday and enjoyed some of the finer things in life. Have a healthy day!

12/23/07

Fantastic Weekend

Saturday morning was a little cold starting off. However, it was the good chill which you wear arm-warmers and you are comfortable wearing them during the entire ride. Karel has a recovery week so he was taking his time getting ready. I fixed the coffee and had some toast and PB and I was out the door around 7am. I saw lots of people out exercising and the majority of the people were running. As I was warming up I saw lots of Gearlinkers riding. I was looking forward to the bridge repeaters and it's always nice when there are lots of people to keep you going. The plan was 12repeaters and although it was like the past weeks I felt great on them. The wind was blowing strong (south to north) so on the longer side of the sand key bridge, I struggled as I was climbing. Around #5 I saw Karel on his sharp new cervelo and he was matching in all red and black. Oh, the things that I notice as I am riding :) karel joined me for 2 climbs but I could tell that Karel wanted to be around the other guys. No worries, I was in my zone doing my own thing so I didn't mind having karel fly up the causeway to catch up with everyone else. Seriously, he makes it look so easy and effortless. He is a machine and I'm like the little engine that could. "I think I can, I think I can". I've been noticing how my emotions change so many times when I'm training. One minute I am so bored, next minute I'm loving it. Well, today was one of those days that I was just loving it. Karel headed home but I was still wanting to ride. I ended up with 50 miles and I really enjoyed being on my bike this morning. Karel and I switched crank arms and he changed my saddle and I fell so good on my bike! What a difference a small change of a crank arm can make. The rest of sat was low-key. A couple errands, a visit to Karel at his work and a trip to the grocery store. Sunday morning I met the group at publix for our sun morning ride. Well, the group was more like 4 people and counting me, it was no good for drafting. I didn't feel strong and the pace was a little fast for me, but I did my best as I drafted and pulled. I only did 40 miles cause my mind was feeling a run. Yes, a run. I remember so many bricks this summer when my legs felt heavy and sore. Well, with only 40 miles on my bike and a 9 min pace, I thought I had just finished my last long workout before an IM! My shins were hurting, my pace was slow and I had trouble getting my rhythm. I was a bit scared since this was my first time outdoors really running so I took my time for the first mile. I re-laced my shoes and walked for 10 minutes and before I knew it, I picked up the pace to a 8.5 min/mile pace and I was feeling it. I had no negative thoughts in my head and I tried to keep everything positive. It would have been really easy to think about my last two summers of running a 7.5 min/mile off the bike or an easy 4 mile run after a 100 mile bike ride, but I was so happy that I was running. I truely enjoy running. There is something I love about moving foward so quickly and just being comfortable with each stride. You are out in the environment and your mind can wander. Sometimes you think about life and sometimes you think about nothing. For me, I think about lots but for some reason I never remember it. Sometimes I am stressed or overwhelmed when I start a run but when I get home I feel so much better about everything. I hope everyone can get in a run, walk or even bike ride over the next couple of days. Regardless if you are traveling or spending time with family, perhaps the people you are with could use a chance to get outside (or in a gym) for a little stress-relieving workout. And if you need to release some energy from all those sweet treats, plan your workout for the early hours of the morning so that things don't come up and you can enjoy the rest of your day! Have a healthy day!