Wednesday, January 27, 2010

...Death Before DNF...

I've been thinking a lot about my motivations lately. And I've been thinking about what it takes to spend so many hours every week not jsut training, but really focusing on an end goal. Sometimes I end up chanting "it's worth it, it's worth it" over and over on a hard swim or run. Mostly, I don't have to remind myself of that, though.

When we were on our bike ride, I had a conversation with Charlie, where I said something about how even when I wanted stop and take a break or something, I was obviously not going to just quit, because everyone knows my "death before DNF" philosophy. And he said that until Rhode Island and NBX cyclocross, he didn't really get what I meant by it. But when I stuck it out through the crappy freezing race, and then sat in the van sobbing for a good twenty minutes while I got feeling back in my toes, he understood what I meant, and even though he totally didn't know how to handle a crying female in the team van, he said that was when he realized how much respect he had for me, that I toughed it out under those circumstances.

And he's right, I was pretty proud of me too. Cyclocross in general really tested me because every weekend I was pushing to get better at something that I really didn't start out doing well in. Short course triathlons, while they're always a challenge, have been things I felt totally competent doing. I knew I could finish the swim, the bike, the run, and probably manage to not get hurt. But then with things like the half Ironman, or cyclocross, all bets were off. I didn't know if I was going to be able to do either. And yeah, I won my first half Ironman, and that was amazing. And I did well as far as collegiate women in CX, even though I got my ass kicked at most races. But I had fun doing both things. Even by mile 13 of the run during the 70.3, I never questioned why I was doing it, or what my motivation was, or thought about quitting. Same goes for during any of my bike races, no matter how poorly I was doing. It's that motivation that I'm trying to channel as Ironman training gets longer, while my diet gets more elaborate, while I'm working 13 straight hours after a 4 hours training session.

Basically, I've given a lot of thought to what Charlie said, even though it wasn't a particularly philosophical conversation or anything, and it really meant a lot to me. It's pretty awesome when you know that people you're close with have a high level of respect for you and your abilities.

That being said, I've also realized how awesome it is to be on the cycling team with a ton of amazing athletes. As I've mentioned, Matt has taken on the role of being my training partner in the gym and on rides and the occasional run and swim, and I have to say, it's done so much to boost my morale! It's a lot easier to push on a weight set when you're with someone, as opposed to when no one is counting how many reps you do. And yeah, I do enjoy being able to lift more or as much as a guy... He's also been great for fixing the 4 bikes that reside in my teensy apartment, helping switch pedals and whatnot. I love that if I have a mechanical issue, I can call him or Charlie and odds are good that someone will manage to fix my bikes for me. And the skill sets that these guys have amaze me! When I needed to learn cyclocross, I got so much great advice and training from everyone, especially Mark. And now that I want to get better at mountain biking, all it takes is a message to Cristian saying "make me a mt biker" and we've made plans for him to ride with me and help me this weekend. I love having such an awesome network of amazingly talented people to go to for any kind of advice or help I could possibly need!

Anyway, in less optimistic and perky news, Coach and I looked at my weight and whatnot the other day in order to come up with a good diet plan for me. I'd love to drop a couple pounds but more to the point, I'd rather naturally hit a good, lean race weight in the near future. This means 2 days of 2000 cal, 1 day of 2400 cal, repeat. And bleck, a lot of it needs to be taken in while working out, my least favorite time to eat! I prefer eating after workouts and really enjoying food, not slamming down energy drinks while on the bike. Still, I know how important it is, and I'm trying! It also involves having lots of small 300-350 cal meals throughout the day. I know it'll work and eventually make me feel constantly full and energetic, but these first days are just tough! I'm a big meal kind of person, and I sincerely enjoy eating 3-4 pieces of pizza at a time. So this whole thing is very hard to get used to. I'm sure I will, but no fun!! (And I do still intend on having a larger meal after a team century. There will be no convincing me otherwise.)

Other than that, the week is going well, training is all on target, et cetera. Now if I could just get rid of this damn cold that I have- I hate being congested!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Goooood Weekend!

So, we had our first long ride of the season, around 60 or so miles, in really crappy 35 degree weather where it was drizzling the whole time. Nonetheless, I had a great time. I stayed with the lead group the whole time without feeling like I was pushing too much. It was fantastic!

We hit one hill and it was pretty freaking steep, but it didn't seem too bad to me. We got to the top and Charlie just yells "Wait, Molly's big-ringing it!" Then they spent the rest of the time asking if I was on steroids. I blame the gym sessions with Matt. And yes, he's still willing to work out with me, despite my bullying tactics in the gym and my epic crashes on the road. We're both getting into really awesome shape, and I'm feeling great.

So after the long ride, we went home, cleaned up, and I rocked the compression socks on a trip to the dining hall (thank you for the guest swipe!) to load up on food after a 4.5 hour ride. This was amazing because the guys were talking about how tough the ride had been and how they felt like crap during parts of it but I had had an amazing easy time! I really can't believe how good I felt on a ride that apparently was pretty tough, so I'm pretty proud of myself, and it shows that clearly my coach is right on the money with my training plan.

Then, home to grocery shop and do an hour of yoga-lates (yoga and pilates combination). The stretching felt great!

Yesterday, I had an awesome hour and a half run- my longest in quite some time- after an hour and a half bike ride, and it was great. I ran through the park and then into my old neighborhood. I saw kids riding bikes outside like I used to do when I was a little kid.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Up Side of Being a Triathlete...

Things I did today:
1. Had a playdate with a 3 year old- we played with Legos and had string cheese as a snack!
2. Watched a movie called Chomp Chomp about junkyards with said three year old, and was very invested in it.
3. Splashed around in the pool for an hour!
4. Played- ok, ran- in the park
5. Rode my bike to the gym
6. Took a nap
7. Put off doing homework

Being a triathlete and a nanny basically means I'm a little kid...

In other news, I woke up and my neck was killing me. I guess I got a little bit of whiplash from the crash yesterday, or pulled a muscle, so it's super sore. Swimming hurt just a tiny bit. And my hip bruised up pretty nicely, it's now a 6x6 inch circle of black bruise surrounding a few pretty deep scratches. Other than that, I'm great.

I was exhausted today, since I had to get up at 6 for work after going to bed at midnight, after a day of extra strength tylenol and just my body trying to heal. So I got home from nannying, went straight to the gym, swam, went home, ate and passed out for a hour. I felt a million times better after that, and went for a lovely run through the park right before it got dark out. It went much better than I expected it to, thankfully. My knee seems to be getting a lot better, and my hip didn't hurt too much...

Now, it's a long weekend ahead- bike and a long run tomorrow, then a looong bike (75 or 100 miles) on Sunday followed by yoga. I'm excited!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cold and Bloody... First Road Ride of the Year.

First time out on the road bike in New Brunswick since May when I crashed and broke my bike. I've ridden since then, but generally not with anyone else, and not in New Brunswick. So, I was nervous. My heart rate was higher than normal as we passed the place where I crashed the bike, and I was braking more than I normally would. Still, Matt is easy to follow, so it was a pretty good ride.

The problem was, it was early in the morning and the ground was still frozen in some spots on the road by the canal. We hit a patch of black ice and I went down in a very big way, right in front of a car. Poor Matt, I think he was more freaked out than me. My handlebars were screwy, and my hip got pretty cut up and I bruised my elbow, but generally I'm ok. I guess it's good that the first crash of the year is over with...

This is my seriously heavy volume week, and today was supposed to be a 2.5 hr ride and after a rest, an hour long run. The ride was an hour and a half, and I was going to hit the trainer for an hour afterward, but obviously, tending to my poor bleeding hip was a bit more important. Added to that, my knee has been acting up. Bleck.

I'm taking a rest and then heading out for an easy easy run, then maybe later tonight I'll ride for a bit on the trainer just to make sure that everything is ok.

Other than that, training is going really well. Lots of volume, as I said, but it's feeling really good. I'm swimming again, and it's boring in the pool, but it feels good. And Matt and I have been doing our weight lifting together, which has been nice for getting more done and more effectively. Plus, Mark, Matt and I have been having dinner together once a week after training, and Matt and I make oatmeal mornings after rides or weight sets, which is good for keeping me on my healthy diet.

In other news, I have even more mohawk going on in my hair, since we buzzed the sides even more. I like it!

Here it is a week ago, it's shorter now but this is basically what it looks like:
(And check out the sweet Batman shirt my mom got me for Christmas. Yes, it's a children's shirt. And I love it.)

My friend Cristian says it's my return to punk. I don't think so, it's just something interesting to do, but he is right, I have been hanging out with people and going out more. I get the feeling that's going to change soon though, since I'm already feeling completely crazed with school and tutoring starting up again.

Let's hope this Sunday's century ride with the team goes a bit more smoothly than this morning's ride did.. and fingers crossed that running with a couple really deep scratches on my hip doesn't hurt too too much...

How do I manage to do stuff like this?

Friday, January 15, 2010

In Other News...

More about my real life later, but I had to share this sweet song called "Molly Made" that my friend Rob wrote in high school and recorded now, 8 years later, in a sweet ska format. It's about when I used to make him clothes and read lots of books. It's basically made my whole 2010 seem a lot more awesome.

Check the lyrics:

She’s got some cloth, needle, and some string
She can make almost anything/
A five speed singer sewing like a dream
She rocks it hard even on a flat seem/
With her thimble she is well protected
Don’t ask her out because you'll get rejected/

Her mom took her dew and they just closed the library/
She’ll go on sewing just you wait and see

Its Molly made she’s sewin’ never know quite where she’s goin’/
Its Molly made it aint kitsch cause it’s made with a drop stitch

I got a problem, don’t know what to where
No need to fret no it’s not time to despair/
I call her up yeah she’s got her own phone line
Tell her that I need a new shirt design/
A dash of glitter from the five and dime
Some safety pins and its done in no time/

She read Nancy Drew when she wasn’t supposed to/
I recited her poem as a Montague

She was a girl scout so her merit badge says
Look at the stitchin’ its so bitchin it’s the best that there is/
Some people buy their clothes at the store
Spend all their money on quality that’s poor/
Abercrombie was never for me
I rather wear something made by Molly/

I love it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Week One of Training, Check!!

Pardon me while I fall asleep on the keyboard... zzzzzzzzzzz...

Seriously, this winter break has been more stressing than a whole semester! Because Robbie is at his parent's house, and my parents and sister are home, I find myself running all over the place in order to see them, instead of the normal seeing Robbie every night at our apartment, and seeing Colleen for our weekly dinners and on weekends. Combine that with working extra hours nanny-ing, being alone in a really cold apartment a few nights a week, actually having a semblance of a social life, and of course, the new training stuff, I'm totally exhausted.

Oddly enough, next week when the semester starts, I'm pretty sure I'll get more sleep, even if I'm doing more, just because I'll be on a stricter schedule. It'll be nice to have the gym open 7AM-11PM too, this whole 11AM-9PM thing is total crap. It's almost impossible for me to get a swim and weight set in between babysitting with those hours. Luckily, my boss has offered me use of her treadmill anytime I want to use it after the kids are in bed, and Coach has been awesome letting me use their studio for the day I couldn't run in the gym because it was closed and couldn't fit it in during daylight hours.

In other news... training is going really well, and I have to say that I'm really happy with the fact that I have a PLAN. I know, I train like a maniac year round, always with some goal in mind, but this is the first time my plan has any real structure, something that changes as I progress, factors in rest time, changes workouts to mirror progress, isn't just "Monday: 1 hr run, 1 hr bike" every single Monday. Rather, it's "47 minute run at a 6.2-6.5 mile per hour pace," then an explanation as to why. So, thanks to that, I'm working a lot harder and I'm feeling improvements already, in little things like a reduced heart rate when putting the same power down on the bike during long trainer rides. And recording everything and knowing Coach Keith is looking at it makes me even more accountable.

This week so far has seen a super long trainer ride on Saturday, a long brick on Sunday (running some hills and trails in beautiful but freezing weather!), then a 3200 meter swim on Monday, broken into 800's (soooo long...) and a weight set, then trainer ride and run yesterday. It'll be nice to ride outside with the team once school starts, though I'm enjoying the trainer + TV combo too...

Matt and I are also striving to stay on our damn diet, though it's much harder now that I'm actually training hard and constantly hungry- usually for junk food! We succumbed last night and ended up getting fries and sodas at a Sonic that just opened up, but generally I've been pretty good about eating well. It's hard to figure out how much to eat in a day, since my training is always changing, but I'm trying to figure it out. I'd still like to drop weight but I figure at this point as long as I eat healthy stuff for the most part, the weight will come off on it's own and I'll hit a good race weight fairly easily. It's just a matter of sticking with the healthy foods and avoiding the "8 cookies per night" binging that I love to do.

So, to sum up, hopefully by next week I'll be on a fairly normal schedule and will be able to post more. For now, wish me luck!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year, New Training.

Enter Day #3 of official Ironman training. And I love it!

It's so nice having a training plan again, especially one this strict that totally holds me accountable. If I skip a workout, not only will I know, Coach will too. So, no slacking off for me! (Not that I usually did, but this makes sure that I can't slack off during a workout either- not when heart rate monitor data gets sent to him too!) It's also nice to not really worry about if I'm training right or enough or correctly. Obviously coaching doesn't guarantee a perfect training plan or schedule, but I think this one is pretty solid, and definitely better than what I would make up.

I've also been keeping a very detailed food diary on training peaks and it's a huge hassle. But, it's just for a week or two so Keith can look at my intake and make suggestions. I'm hoping to drop a few pounds early on in training, since the intensity and volume aren't crazy just yet. I think I dropped a few pounds over my off season because I didn't have much of an appetite, which is good but annoying when it came to trying on and testing out my newest swim suit. I bought a 32 because reviews said it ran small, but it turns out I could have used a 30 or a 28, because it was practically falling off once I got in the pool! It fit ok dry, just a teensy bit loose, and I hadn't tried it on until now (I bought it 2 months ago though). Otherwise I would have returned it immediately after trying it on and realizing it wasn't very tight. But, it was past the return period, so I went in the pool. Now I don't know what to do with it! Is there any way to shrink a swimsuit?

Anyway, all this time spent on training peaks has been detracting from my desire to blog... But I'm sure I'll get used to it and have more time, especially once I don't need to record food.

In other news, I went mountain biking in the snow with Vlad this weekend and had a blast! It was freezing cold but so much fun. I'd never mountain biked before, so this was all new. There was snow, and under the snow was ice, and under that was rocks. It was definitely a challenge. We were out for 3 hours, trying all different kinds of trails (loooong uphills, loooong downhills, rocky mountain bike specific trails with obstacles, walking trails that were just sheets of ice in some places, and one really steep hill that we had to walk up in order to attempt to ride down.) I was so proud of myself when slogging up a super long steady hill, I outlasted Vlad!

This has also led to me getting really psyched about the King of the Hill off road triathlon at Round Valley Reservoir in May. First, because I love trail running. Second, I liked mountain biking a lot. Third, Vlad may come home to race. Fourth, my friend Cristian is a mountain bike lover, so he's going to ride with me a lot more, so I can get better. Fifth, because Cristian is convinced he can kick my ass in an off road triathlon based on his bike skills alone. So it's a challenge in a lot of different ways. And of course, Cristian is going down...

My other friend- and diet/training partner- Matt and I finally started our training now that he's home. Yay! We had a very exciting day yesterday- we went to the gym for his first weight set (I "coached" and did some light sets even though it wasn't a weight set day... oops.) Then, we went to Efingers so I could get some sweet winter riding gloves. Finally, no cold hands! I hate spending copious amounts of money on bike gear, but it seemed worth the $40 to not be miserable the next few months. After that, grocery store! There's nothing like shopping with a vegan who's on a diet with you to keep your grocery cart super healthy...

So, by the end of the trip, I was proud to fill my fridge with carrots, hummus, fresh salsa, whole wheat tortillas, frozen veggies, yogurt, tofu, blueberries, granola, and about a million other things. This whole eating healthy thing seems to be working fairly well. Matt and I cooked with a few of our friends and made a huge stir fry with tofu, kale, water chestnuts, snap peas, broccoli and a bunch of other veggies for dinner last night and my fridge is well stocked with leftovers from that too. Very exciting...

My winter weather gear pile has been growing too, thanks to the gift card to Eastern Mountain Sports my boss gave me. I now have:
  1. Gator tip toe covers! (little neoprene toe booties that go over socks and under bike shoes. Surprisingly great for $8.)
  2. EMS Skull Cap: finally, I have something that fits under a helmet for winter riding...
  3. Face Mask: neoprene, so I can wear it when riding and not have my face freeze.
  4. Yak Trax: they attach to the bottom of your shoes so you can run on the ice. I can't wait to try them out!
I'm a total sucker for this shop now. It's pricey but hey, I have a gift card that still has a good amount of cash on it. And the people who work there have been completely awesome- even suggesting that I try Efingers for cold weather gloves because they didn't think that they had a good enough selection there. I appreciate anyone who's that honest, and frankly, I'd shop there again even if it's a little pricey, just because the people were great every time I've been in.

So I'm pretty stocked up, now that I have all my great Christmas presents and this new stuff. Perfect way to start training!!

(Of course, I still need 2 new sets of pedals and clips, maybe new road shoes, and most definitely new running shoes, and pretty soon it's going to be time to start browsing for new tri shorts and tops for the summer... It's always something when you're a triathlete.)

Last but not least, my pseudo-mohawk hair cut:
(it's not super easy to see in pictures, and it looks even funnier when it's actually blowdried so it's up, but here's the general idea. Robbie and I buzzed it on the sides and then he did some serious trimming for me.)

I promise I'll get better at posting again... Winter break brings out the lazy in me- I finally have time to veg on the couch with Robbie, or hang out with other friends at night (shocking people who haven't seen me in 2-3 years when I show up to hang out with friends...) So it's been a very healthy off season break for me. But now it's back to training and frankly, I feel better (if a little bit more sore) than I have in weeks now that I'm back to training!