When Is Too Much, Too Much?

I think there is a fine line between when you do something because you love it, and when it becomes a (healthy) addiction. And, I crossed that fine line last night at work (however, some would argue I crossed that line months ago).

I’ve joked about it before–my quote-en-quote “fascination” with races–which really only started in 2004 when I ran my first 5k and got third for my age group, although thinking about it, growing up I was always doing something competitive.

So, when is too much, too much? Is it,

  • When you schedule all your weekends off work around races for the next year, including running races, triathlons, and duathlons–not only in the state you live in, but other states? “Oh, I know I cannot work the third weekend of September 2011 because there’s a tri Sunday morning at 0830”
  • When in the middle of writing a nursing note at the end of a shift, after coding patients, physical and mental exhaustion, feet killing you after being on them for thirteen hours, you begin to wonder how long a certain run will take you when you get home from work?
  • When you kindly decline people’s offers for incredibly delicious looking cookies at 0500 because you are getting back to your “peak racing weight”–and you actually have no idea what your racing weight should be, but know it’s just less than what the scale says.
  • When co-workers at the hospital have nicknamed you “the TKH’s very own little ICU racer”?
  • …And they cannot believe you spent two hours on a trainer before coming on to your third night in a row, or wonder how you can devour 5 hour old stale coffee black with no sugar or milk, or exist on three hours of sleep.
  • …And they know not to mess with you if you only got a 3 miler in before work?
  • …And when your fellow cycling buddy/ colleague talks about Graeme Brown after handing off report, you know exactly who he’s talking about?
  • When you spend non-working hours studying past race results, and figure out how fast you need to be this year to beat other people in your age group–just incase they decide to partake in that particular race this year as well.
  • …And, if your body can tolerate it, when you can visit family members (but really, are traveling to those places because there’s a certain race going on at that time…and it just so happens you have a family member who lives in that city)?
  • …And are glad you are still young, because the majority of people racing in tri’s are ten or more years older than you, so you still have time to do well…And wonder, “Woah, what will I be like in ten years?” Now, that is a scary thought.
  • When your doctor tells you it’s okay for you to exercise again, in hopes you will stop pestering him about when it’s okay for you to train?
  • You see someone with an IM tattoo on the back of their calf at the gym, and wonder how his swimming skills are, and which IM he has completed (and you feel a pang of jealousy that he has such a tattoo, and even know what the IM stands for, when the majority of people at the gym probably have no idea)…And then wonder if he will marry you.
  • You regret getting that tetanus shot in your deltoid the day before because it really messes up your stroke when swimming the next day.
  • You know three weeks in advance you cannot do anything on a certain Friday night because you have a brick workout scheduled the next day?
  • The majority of your clothes are either cycle wear or exercise attire, could cause blindness to people in the sunlight, and have special “sweat-wicking” properties?
  • …And other than scrubs, that’s basically the only thing you ever wear?
  • …But just found two boxes of high heeled boots and drop-dead gorgeous shoes this complete ex-shoe addict completely forgot existed, thinking, “Man, how did I ever walk in four inch heels?”
  • …Then look down at your really pathetic looking feet, thinking purple/back toe nails falling off is really a turn-off–even to podiatrists.
  • The only thing left in your kitchen is zero-calorie gatorade, powerbars, sports recovery drink powder, your newly discovered and favorite Honeystinger products, and decaf coffee (that you refuse to make, because it is decaffeinated)

Completely normal, right?

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One Week…Not That Anyone is Counting…

For the first time, I’m following the advice of a trained medical professional (minus the me working part) and have not done any training whatsoever in a week. Seven (almost) full days. No pool. No bike. No running–ehh, well, exception taken for being at work, as nursing does entail a fair amount of running around and somewhat heavy lifting. And, if I go any longer without activity, I might go crazy.* For this chica to go from being “I-need-to-be-doing-something-twenty-four-seven” to, basically, doing nothing, something drastic must have happened. Let me tell you, this inactivity has definitely been quite an experience in itself. I’ve slept more in the past four days than total hours of sleep I’ve had in the past month, and am still more fatigued that I was when working and training. It’s odd, I feel I have much more time on my hands now.

So, what have I been doing, except for sleeping upto, if not more than, twelve hours a day (I know, unbelievable, right)? Let me tell you.

1. I’ve gone through all 2011 Oscar Nominees and Oscar Nominations, and composed a list of who I think should win this year. The movies are all impressive, but I really thought James Franco had a moving performance in 127 Hours— a film I strongly suggest everyone see, but do warn that some of the content is not suitable for the faint of heart. However, Colin Firth is a brilliant actor. (Ladies, who could forget Mr. Darcy?)

2.I’ve learned that plastic melts quite quickly, and the fire alarms in my house function without a problem. Furthermore, I have the mouth of a sailor not only when cycling up hills but when things are burning in my kitchen.

Oops, my bad

3.On that note, I have embarked on a culinary and baking expedition, turning my kitchen into a food laboratory: dissecting, slicing, marinating… Experimenting with types of flour I have never heard of…And I’ve decided that the Geuss name should once again be associated with baking.**

My make-shift steamer, after melting plastic

It’s advised that you make sure you have all the cookware needed before starting to cook

4.After creating dozens (I kid you not) of different baked goods, I’ve decided to go on a raw foods diet, thus further exploring the raw foods culinary world (it was more of a decision made due to the fact I only have raw foods left in my house and do not feel like going shopping–to think I lived over a year in Virginia without a car and had more food in my refrigerator than I do now with two cars is somewhat concerning). I made Mediterranean Tabouli out of Hemp Seeds*** last night, as well as homemade peanut butter. Matt Amsden is a culinary genius. Note: this decision to go raw will not affect my baking safari, so fear not, if you live close to me, you’ll still receive plenty of baked goods.

5. I’ve learned that not only does my cat eat Tofu, but will also consume Soy Milk when she’s on a Molly Diet (aka, an “I really need to go shopping because I ran out of cat food” diet). I think she is a much happier, healthier cat now, as she runs into walls less. We are still working on mouse hunting skills together.****

6.I’ve watched an insane amount of YouTube and Netflix videos, teary eyed from laughing so much. I’m not going to say how many, because that is simply embarrassing.

7.After losing my mobile phone, and time spent debating with coworkers if I should go iPhone or other Smartphone route, the fact Verizon will have the iPhone next month pretty much made my decision for me.

8. I think Justin Harris is my new triathlon idol. I have Jennifer Dougherty to thank for this.

Lastly, number 9. I’ve decided to take up Snowshoeing (I have my father to thank for putting this idea into my head) when I’m allowed to be the overly active person once again.

The list could go on, but whilst taking a break from composing this post, I decided it was necessary to pick a shovel back up and finish the walkways, and just found out from the head doctor it’s okay for me to spend QT with my Scott once again…And found my phone…And went food shopping.

As pretty as snow is, I’m ready for spring

*Some would argue that I’ve already gone mad. As long as I have not lost my sense of humor, everything is okay.

**My great grandfather was a baker who owned the Geuss Bakery in Kingston, which closed down in the 1950’s after a fire.

***Hemp seeds are one of those “perfect foods” which contain all necessary amino acids to sustain life. No, you do not get high when eating them raw.

****Don’t worry, I take very good care of my cat. I actually have plenty of cat food in my car, so Lucky will continue to be a worry-free, happy-as-a-clam, fat, friendly feline who simply stares at mice running across the floor.

Here, More Amusing Videos for Triathletes

Some funny running/swimming/cycling videos.

It’s like watching myself in the pool…

Clip on, clip off…

No no, grab me a Latte…


Eleven Mile Route

Note: if you decide to go for a ten mile run with me, it might end up being more like eleven and a half. And, you might need to be awake at 0300 to do it with me. A positive about running that early, no cars on Route 9. Literally. No cars. Not on any other part of the run, either.

Eleven Mile Run

If I can do that, half marathon in March’ll be a piece of cake…If I’m allowed to run at that point.

I’m Not Allowed to What?

There comes a time in every athlete’s life–hell, in everybody’s life–where they get injured. And no matter what the injury, there is usually some annoyance associated with it. The injury may be a paper cut. Small little slice, but you are always aware it’s on the top of the finger because there is a slight burning sensation whenever you wash your hands. Forget attempting to clean tools in any type of paint thinner or putting your hands in corrosive liquids–not that you might attempt such a task. (I have no idea where the cleaning of tools came from, either. I don’t clean power tools.) The injury might be a broken arm, or torn ACL. Most injuries though, happen as accidents. And, boy, can they really mess up your planned schedule.

I’m someone who plans. I enjoy spontaneity–it brings excitement to life–but I also feel more comfortable being able to look at a week and know what will (or should) happen everyday. I’m someone of a nut and have this fascination (that’s a more sane word for obsession) with calendars. I think I have four for 2011. All calendars have very similar tasks/ events marked in the boxes. Next to the events are smaller boxes, where I can tick off that I finished the task/event (you really need to read my friend’s blog–she shares some of my compulsive attributes–it’s like reading my own thoughts). My need for structure and somewhat overly detailed daily lists could be a post of their own.

I do not like when my schedule is disrupted and changes are made. Although, I am much better at dealing with changes now. I’ve learned to be adaptable to most situations and not freak out when something different happens. I guess that’s what happens when you work in a controlled chaotic work environment and things are constantly changing. And, as long as I am the one doing the modifications to my schedule, everything is a-okay.

This past week’s schedule, on the other hand, was modified by external factors, which I don’t like. On that note, the rest of the month’s schedule has had some changes made to it as well due to an accident. No, I was not biking, running, or swimming when this happened either. I was shoveling my stairs. S-h-o-v-e-l-i-n-g.  The act of moving snow from one place to another to get it out of your way. Due to the act of shoveling, I had an insult to my head causing some mild degree of loss of consciousness. In lay person terms, it means I slipped on the f-ing ice, hit my head against the stairs, and passed out.

Might I add, this happened the day after my scheduled yearly physical (which I strongly suggest everyone have–most insurances cover a free physical a year–definitely take advantage of that) where my doctor, who might be one of the rare physicians I can tolerate and admire, told me I was in fantastic shape, and wished his other patients could be more like me (come on, who does not want to be me?!?).

Less than twenty-four hours later, I had my non-scheduled visit to Northern Dutchess’ Emergency Department, all because of a little knock to the head.

This story does have a point, and I am getting to it slowly but surely.

I’m not a fan of hospitals. Scratch that. I’m not a fan of being a patient in a hospital. Furthermore, I’m not a fan of people telling me what I am and am not allowed to do. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer having people tell me what to do in work/ follow directions. But not when people tell me what to do with my life.

After hours in a painful neck brace (as the medical professionals were unsure of if I did any damage to my cervical spine when I fell, and I have no recollection of the first couple minutes after I hit my head), CT scans, an MRI, unexperienced nurses trying to start multiple IV’s (I prefer to keep my blood to myself, so make it hard for nurses/phlebolomists to access it…In the healthcare  field, I’m known as a “hard stick”), I found myself waiting anxiously behind a closed curtain in a cold emergency room, staring at the normal saline running into my AC. There was some disbelief in the fact that I was (1) it took three different nurses to start the IV after five attempts, even when I kept telling them to just go for my left arm because that’s where the veins are (they didn’t listen), (2) I was spending a day off work in a hospital and (3) that I had an injury while not training.

Finally, the ohsoverykind ED doctor decided to return and say hello and let me out of the incredibly uncomfortable C/S collar. Have I mentioned I worked in an ER and know what happens “behind the scenes,” making me somewhat impatient as a patient?

“Well, Molly. Good and bad news.Good news, scans are negative. No bleeding. Just a bump on the side of your head. With any head injury, it’s always more concerning when there is loss of some memory around the event, loss of consciousness, and vomiting–all which you had.”

I knew what news was coming before he continued to speak.

“Bad news is, you said you are training for a couple big races.”

“Yes.”

“That would explain why you have a resting heart rate of 52, which is good. Means your heart is in great shape.” Somehow I think he was veering off topic. This non-scheduled visit was because of my head, not my resting heart rate. I was annoyed.

“My medical advice is that you abstain from any physical activity for a while. We don’t know the extent of the damage, but after I what i just said, you did have some sort of brain injury, even if there was no evidence on the scans. Which means, no swimming, no biking. No running.”

“You’re telling me I’m not allowed to do those things? For how long?”

“I cannot stop you from doing what you do, but my advice is just to take it easy for a couple of weeks. You are a nurse, what would you tell your patients to do?”

Sigh, I hate when people say that, because I’m great at giving great advice that I never do myself. “You know, this really messes up my schedule.”

“I’m sorry.”

You get the point. He continued for another couple of minutes with discharge instructions and then finally stopped talking.

So, for four days, I’ve refrained from any physical activity, besides work. And, it’s driving me mad.

If you are an athlete who has been injured, you know how painful it is not to be able to do something you love. I’m antsy to get out and go for a run in this beautiful weather. Yes, I know it is freezing out. My bike misses me, I know it. I’m beginning to miss the taste of chlorinated water.

Long long story short (well, somewhat short), all will be well. But my training schedule must be modified. And  we’ll just have to see if I’ll be able to tolerate this lack of activity for much longer. Come visit my house, and you’ll notice it’s unusually clean, that all my clothes are now color coordinated (I noticed the majority of my jackets are orange, a blinding reflective color, or green–not weird at all), and I’ve baked more food than the inhabitants of Luxembourg could consume.

Running in the Cold and Snow

I’m not a fan of cold weather riding, or running, or doing anything which takes up lots of time in the frigid outdoors. Although, I do not mind activities such as snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, or mountaineering.Here is a little side story which does not really have anything to do with running, but I will get to the parallels between the two activities later, trust me.

A couple years ago I thought it would be fun to climb the Gran Paradiso and Mont Blanc over summer break. If you aren’t familiar with those two mountains, the Gran Paradiso is the highest peak in Italy, and Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Europe. The climbs were very physically demanding–I even tried preparing myself for them throughout the summer. Have you ever seen those mountain climbing videos where the climbers just take one step at a time, slowly, taking seemingly forever to move two feet? I experienced that first hand. There is less oxygen the higher you go, which the body is not used to, and each footstep feels like you are moving a brick. (Many professional athletes train at higher altitudes which help the oxygen capacity in their blood. I did not have the foresight to do that).

Despite the layers of modified soft shell, then top jacket (Gore-Tex™), gaiters covering my climbing pants, and  awesome, heavy mountaineering boots, when we reached the top of the mountains (both times), I had no feeling whatsoever in my hands–even with three layers of mountaineering gloves on. I have poor circulation– and having Reynaud’s syndrome does not help me with my efforts to keep my fingers and toes from turning numb and useless phalanges.

My guide and I climbing on la Mer de Glace in '05, photo thanks to R. Geuss

Now, that was a useless story of my mountaineering adventures in Chamonix, France, and Italy. Incredibly challenging, both emotionally and physically. I did have a guide, and met great people along the way. Might I say perhaps some of the best times, and most challenging times of my life. However, the one issue that put a damper on the climbing experience was the fact I my hands were so cold they felt like someone was piercing them with knives (not helpful for tying knots, putting crampons on your boots, gripping an ice ax, or using rope at high altitudes, either).

How does climbing to an ascent of 13976 feet relate to running in Rhinebeck, NY, in -1 degree weather? The painful, numbing feeling I get in my hands.

Over the years, as I’ve “grown” and “learned” as a runner, I’ve found helpful hints, and have come across many interesting articles about this very issue of running in frigid weather. Ohh, if only it was in the 70’s, slight breeze, no humidity, then all would be perfect in the world. But that rarely happens in Upstate New York in the winter time. And  since running on a treadmill is simply not an option for me, I’ll have to grin and bear the cold and forecasted snow tomorrow for my 10 miler.  On the note of treadmills: they are fine for if one absolutely NEEDS to use one. But I despise them. They are boring, there are people are all around you, and as best I try, I always end up looking like a sweaty gross mess next to the neat, petite girl with the perfect pony tail and perfect body over on the elliptical trainer with barely a bead of sweat to be seen on her brow. I was blessed with the Geuss Genes…we sweat a lot an insane amount. Am I jealous of that petite gorgeous girl, who you can very tell takes all the attention of the guys over on the weight machines urging each other to get her number. Perhaps I might be, in that she does not look like she just took a shower and never bothered to towel off. Then again, I doubt that gorgeous nearly perfect girl is training for a half iron man in June. See my point? Too many distractions when running in a gym on a treadmill.

Yes, long run is scheduled for tomorrow. With my odd sleeping habits (damn you, night shifts), I fall asleep during the day and then am awake all night, even on my days off. Last night I decided to go for a run to make up for a run I had missed on Friday during the day. Only 5 miles. Sporting two layers of wicking long sleeve t-shirts, a hat, and thermal running pants. Oh, and then I had my head lamp and my reflective jacket. It was very chilly, -1° Fahrenheit, and, mind you, it was also midnight, so naturally, not the warmest part of the already cold day.

The run was fine, but it was chilly, and I forgot my balaclava (of course) which would have definitely given my face some shield from the bitter cold, and make breathing less painful.

I’m praying tomorrow will be slightly warmer,but am not losing my lack of sleep over it.

I’ve decided to include some helpful hints for those of you who just have an unbearable urge to run when it is in the negative degree digits.

  • Layer layer layer up. When you have more layers, you can shed them if you get hot, and then put them back on when you become sweaty and slightly cold.Each layer actually has a specific purpose, too (did you know that?)–similar to any cold weather activity. The top layer should be a waterproof shell of some sort which is breathable, like Gore-Tex™* especially if running in snow, because once the snow hits your warm body and melts, it turns into, basically, rain, so you want some sort of waterproof shield on your body. The base layer is your next-to-skin layer, and manages moisture produced by your body (aka sweat, for those of you who do produce it). Merino Wool is an option I prefer. Its soft and organic. The middle layer is the layer which is the insulating layer and is meant for trapping heat and warmth–such as a fleece.
  • Wear a hat, as up to 40% of body heat is lost through your head* (no, having hair does not mean you lose less heat that those who have no hair)
  • wear wool socks, not those super neat super cool technological socks. Wool has wonderful insulating properties, and helps wick sweat away and keeps your feet dry and warm. My preference is Merino wool (surprise!)- it’s soft and is not like wearing itchy wooly socks your grandmother  knit for you last christmas (or anything knit by your grandmother for christmas). Smartwool ™ actually has wool socks with compression capabilities! And we all know that compression socks feel so so insanely fantastic post recovery run…Even better than fantastic, they feel orgasmic on your legs–oops,did I just write that out loud?
  • A running scarf or balaclava are life savers for keeping your nose from falling off, and breathing less painful. Yes, you might look like a bank robber, but your body will thank you.
  • Running tights: wear special insulating/compression (or combination of both) running tights. If your knees have the tendency to get cold, you can also purchase knee warmers (no, not like the leg warmers seen by Jane Fonda in her aerobics videos). New Balance, CW-X, Craft and 2XU are brands that have great insulating running tights. (On a side note, I just purchased a pair of Craft pants for winter cycling, and they are a-m-a-z-i-n-g.)
  • Shoes! Very important! If your running in your shoes that you used to run in the summer, your feet are going to become soaked quickly, because summer running shoes are mostly mesh–very good for keeping your feet cool in hot weather–not so great for stopping slush, snow, and water from seeping in. Wear a shoe that is waterproof (Gore-Tex™ all the way!) and has good traction for the slushy roads. If need be, you can always get some Yaktrax (like everyday crampons) which fit on the bottom of the shoe. I knew someone who wanted to save money and duct-taped the mesh part of their running shoes to make them more waterproof. You could always go that route too, but the tape on the sole can be slippery (I tried it when saving money in college, ended up tripping on ice with a huge nasty bruise on my upper buttock…TMI?Let me just say it was painful to sit for a week).
  • One more item to add to the list (which I could write on and on about, and is a huge issue, especially when you have poor perfusion to your hands), you probably guessed it: gloves. If you do not have gloves, wear mittens. If you have nothing at all, wear socks (yes, I’ve sported socks on my hands when I could not find my gloves. They aren’t as fashion friendly,and probably a fashion faux-pas, but do a damn good job at keeping your fingers warm instead of nothing). There are oodles of gloves you can wear. Mittens are a better option for running, because having your fingers next to each other keeps them warmer than when they are separated (in gloves). I have a pair of gloves that have a shield like covering which you can flip over the fingers of the gloves, to act like mittens. However, let me warn you, they are not as warm as mittens.

I could go ahead and talk about cold weather cycling now, but will save you the pain of reading it–many concepts are the same. I hope I was able to provide some slightly useful information to the aspiring winter weather runner!

Happy Winter Running!

*courtesy of Runners World

She Cooks

It’s a new year, and you know what that means: new years resolutions are the talk amongst friends sitting and getting coffee. It’s in magazines. On television. What is your new years resolution? Things people say they are going to do and stick with the resolution for a couple weeks, and then the excitement of changing something in their lifestyle dwindles right along with the resolution. That’s why I’ve never made new year resolutions. Instead, I prefer to see something in my life which needs some “tidying up,” and work on that. For example, my spelling skills need work (read any of my posts and you are sure to find numerous spelling mistakes).

This post is actually about food, not bikes, or guitars, or races. But food is a vital component for any athlete. Whetever he or she puts into her mouth can affect his or her performance drastically.

After  swimming 2100 at Bard, and a 45 minutes on the trainer, I became somewhat hungry and decided to check out my culinary skills and…cook. Start the new year off with eating healthy. Sounds like a good idea, right? Plus, after stepping on the scale for the first time in who knows how long I found out that I gained (gasp) weight. The dreaded 6-letter word starting with “w.” There’ll be no meat in the picture (which is easy since I’m a vegetarian),  no sweets, even as tempting as they might be at work and you are exhausted at 0400. No dairy, which can help improve the digestive system. So, basically, a modified vegetarian diet…Almost exactly what I was before.

This change in eating habits actually occured after someone looked into my refrigerator (and the scale issue had something to do with it too), the interior composed of only a jar of pickles, britta filter with about three drops of water, Soy milk, and lettuce.”I think you need to go get some food. Your refrigerator is pathetic.” I felt embarrassed for my poorly stocked refrigerator. So, this girl, more commonly known for her baking (heck, the baking runs in the Geuss blood), is brushing off the spider webs of her knife handling skills

I wandered around the internet for some healthy yet nutritious and easy thing to make, and I came up with Sweet Potato Falafel with  Yogurt Tahini.  If a meal will take me more than 20minutes to prepare, chances are I’ll lose attention and bag the recipe (sounds like trying to stick to a training plan). This evening I decided to try this recipe out, after seeing in on  Fat-Free Vegan Kichen’s web site (great site if you want something easy to make, and lots of vegetarian/vegan options).

The ingedients:

1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds + 2 tbsp hot water
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 18 ounces, total)
2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/8 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup minced parsley
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup chickpea flour or besan
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
sesame seeds (optional)

the ingredients (sweet potatoes were in the oven)

Mix the flax seeds with two tablespoons hot water and set aside to thicken. This acts as a binding agent, similar to what eggs do.

Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a fork and place on paper towels in microwave. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, turn over, and then cook for another 2 minutes. Check for tenderness, and if not cooked all the way through, cook in increments of 30 seconds until tender. Set aside to cool until easy to handle; peel and place in a large bowl.

note: I put my sweet potatoes in the oven, as I never knew you could cook a potato in the microwave…

Preheat oven to 400F. Mash sweet potatoes well with a masher or a fork. Add the flax mixture, seasonings (including parsley), and lemon juice and stir well. Mix the chickpea flour with the baking powder and add it a little at a time to the sweet potato mixture. Stir until well-combined. Batter should be stiff; if not, add chickpea flour a tablespoon at a time until batter is thick. (If the batter is too stiff to blend in all the flour, add water a tablespoon at a time.)

all the ingredients in one bowl

Oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Use a cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon to make about 20-22 little mounds of dough on the baking sheet (dippingthe scoop in water every now and then will help prevent the dough from sticking to it).

balls

Flatten the balls to about 1/2-inch thick and 1 1/2-inches wide. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until bottoms are medium brown. Serve hot with yogurt-tahini sauce.

I made a pick-your-own- veggie station...for myself (not crazy at all, right?)

Since I didn’t have any tahini paste with me, I  made home made Tzatziki sauce to go with them, which worked out perfectly.

Et voila: la Pièce de résistance

Now that it is 2011, a fresh new year, a time we can start over again, improving ourselves, learning from the mistakes of the past…How amazing life gives you second chances!

I hope this year will find you good health, happiness, a life full of  friendships and amazing experiences which are yet to come.

Happy Belated New Year

It Clicked

It’s amazing how I continue to despise certain workouts, including trainer time, and pool time. Looking at my weekly schedule and seeing that on Tuesday and Thursday I need to be in the water, on Wednesday I have interval training, does not excite me. The cold weather does not help, nor knowing that there is possible snow in the forecast, when you have a long run or ride scheduled.

Yesterday, I found myself at Bard when they opened at 0730, wanting to get my swim workout over with as soon as possible. I’ve played around with going to the pool at different times during the day (on my days off), to see if that affects how the workout goes. It’s amazing how busy the small University pool is during “Lap Time.” I’ve come to recognize when certain people go to swim, who the recreational swimmers are, and even which swimmers are triathletes (which, I’m pretty sure the tri shorts gives away).

I began with drills my coach told me to work on after our session last week when she butchered my swim skills (it was okay though- I told her to find everything wrong and tell me, and that she did). One arm “side swims,” one arm strokes. I was so focused on bent elbows and reaching infront of me as far as I could, not inhaling through my nose while my face was under water, and breathing when turning my head to the right. I prefer to only breath to my left, which is something my coach picked up on right away when she saw me swimming. “Your head is too far above the water…Turn to the side…When you breathe, you cross your arm under your torso…Use your obliques…Remember to reach, like climbing…” It’s hard to focus on so many different aspects of swimming at once.

I’m not sure if it was the fact I had not slept in almost 24 hours, pure exhaustion, or an insane amount of caffeine that I recently consumed, but something changed on my date with chlorine. I was on my second set of freestyle. Suddenly, something clicked. The non-stop racing thoughts ceased. My breathing was at ease. I could feel myself gliding through the water, weightless, almost effortless. For the first time, swimming felt…Natural.

At the end of the set and once my cool down was complete, I stopped my timer and could feel myself smiling as I looked across the pool. Success. Dare I compare the feeling I had to a “runners high” after completing an unusually fulfilling run?

I am actually excited for the next time I can enter the water.

I Have…A Fan?

Never would I have thought I’d have someone asking me for beginner triathlon training advice, but it happened. I’ve given my fair share of advice on running (basically, just train and prepare for races). It was just a matter of time before I shared my reply with cyberspace.

Dear X,

Wow, I have someone who reads my blog religiously? Sweet! Learning that totally made my day.

My own tri training is only beginning, considering I just started competing in duathlons this summer. I was more of a runner before I started biking, although when I lived in Lux I did more biking than running. I’ve always dreamt about competing in an ironman, and there are lots of sprint triathlons that you can do which are probably the smarter option than starting off with a half ironman like I’m doing. Then again, I have no concept of moderation, so I tend to err on doing stupid things, like running marathons without training for them (NOT smart–my left knee will never let me forget those mistakes and still acts up on me).

I got a triathlon coach, who specifically works with women training for triathlons, as well as personal training, and she is awesome. Yes, I pay money for her to make plans for me, and critique my swimming skills, but it is totally worth it. You can do it on your own, but with my nursing schedule, she kind of takes the work out of my training for me. I love her.

As I mentioned above, there are different distance triathlons that you can choose from: sprint, olympic, half IM and then full IM’s. If I were you, I’d find a sprint tri–usually a 750m swim, 20mile bike ride, then a 5k and have that as your first. I am sure they have them in the UK–the tri season does not usually start until May, and they continue throughout the summer, at least where I live in the US. Warmer locations have them throughout the year.

Tell your mother driving is more dangerous than bike riding. I bought my first road bike in August and adore it.A completely different type of cycling. One day, I’ll invest in a time trial bike, but for now, aerobars clipped on to my road bike are good for me. You do need to be aware of your surroundings all the time, and of stupid retarded drivers. But wear a helmet, have a cell phone on you, stick to roads you know, have a spare tube, and you should be okay. I’ve had my share of accidents (which I’ve blogged about), and no matter how careful you are, every rider has some accident at somepoint in their cycling career. It goes with the sport. Think of our own Andy Schleck, or other pro cyclists out there.Lance Armstrong. I’m pretty sure they’ve had their share of tumbles. To be honest, I think I’ve tripped more running than I’ve fallen biking…Yes, I’ve needed to get stitches from tripping over a root on a trail run (maybe I should consider a helmet when running?). Knock on wood, no stitches needed from bicycle accidents. But, truthfully, cycling is as safe as you make it for yourself. Think about it. If you’re riding 60 mph down a hill and your wheels hit a patch of wet pavement or leaves, chances are you could skid and fall. Then again, going fast is fun.

http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/

That’s a great website which I could spend hours on. Great info for newbies, and a site I could think of off the top of my head.

 

The Triathletes Training Bible is a book you can get on amazon which is fantastic.

Hope that helps a little! Congrats on the half marathons!
Happy running!
-Molly

PS. It’s very easy to make your dream become a reality. I’m on my way to making mine come true. And, you are starting young, so you have plenty of time to make it happen.

This Isn’t About Running, or Swimming, or Biking?

No, it isn’t a post about either three of those topics. Nor about sneakers, or nursing. Is it possible for me to write about a different subject? My fascination (some might call it more of an “addiction”) with endurance sports has been interrupted by the new addition to the household– a guitar.

I was surfing the internet yesterday–a daily occurance in my life when I am not working, or training, and an add for guitars popped up. I found myself for the first time looking at a non-athletics related site. As I looked at the different pictures of fine intstruments, I felt a sudden longing to play the guitar again. It’s been a couple years since I’ve plucked the bronze strings of the guitar, and I’ve mentioned my first guitar briefly before here. My lust for the musical instrument lead me to search for music stores in the area, which, thankfully, there are plenty of, especially in the Woodstock area. Who would have thought there is a plethora of music shops close to a music festival mecca?

When I entered the small music shop, I could not help but smile when I saw a couple of people strumming away in the corner, trying out some tunes on guitars. Man, it’s been too long since I’ve played. The selection was not massive, but I was not planning on purchasing Gibson’s 1942 J-45 Legand. No no, I was on a mission to find a basic, smooth, beautiful six stringed instrument. After a couple of minutes gazing up at the guitars hanging, my eyes fell upon a Ibanez. And not just a plain Ibanez. A mahogany/deep red Ibanez. I was never a big fan on colored acoustic guitars in the past, but times have changed, and I’ve changed.

Filled with anticipation and excitement to play with my new toy, I found myself cross legged  in the middle of my kitchen floor trying to open the dusty chest of musical knowledge that I had stored somewhere in my brain. To my pleasant surprise, I remembered how to play Blackbird, one the first songs I ever learned how to play. Well, technically, I think the first song I learned was Eagle Eye Cherry’s “Save Tonight”–the only reason I remember that is because I had a teenage crush on the person teaching me how to play the guitar at the time. Wow, was that a long time ago.

After spending too much time playing into the wee hours of the morning, serenading my sleeping cat, and fingertips that were incredibly raw and sore, I managed to learn how to play Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours,” and successfully find the key to unlock that dusty musical chest I had forgotten about.

Should my bike be jealous?

When was the last crazy post written?

January 2011
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