Monday, February 22, 2010

Um, where did February go?

Well, another week is in the bank. As weeks go, it was okay. I still missed some swimming due to questionable sinus issues. Tomorrow I go back for the first time in two weeks. It is a good thing that swimming is probably my strongest of the three disciplines. It will not be fun to make up the losses from missing two weeks, but it won't be too terrible.

I had a wonderful run in the hills near my house on Wednesday before I went back to work. It was a beautiful, sunny day. It is a nice open space, but I always worry about the potential mountain lion that could be lurking around. As such, I looked up in the trees a lot as I made my way down the trail. In all I ran about 5 miles that day. I had been on this course multiple times, but I never knew the actual distance. This would explain why I was always sore after walking it. It was also the first time I attempted to run the course. In all it was a good training run, and I can now saw my running shoes are past the stark-white stage.

The biggest workout on my list last week was a bike/run brick. I kept switching around the day I was going to do it due to work schedule and then the weather. But I finally did it today. I was glad I waited. Yesterday was raining, today was glorious. I was pretty angry with myself for not bringing my camera along because it was so clear today, you could see forever. The hills are all a wonderful green and everything smells good - the jasmine is beginning to blossom (my favorite) and the plum trees seem to think it is time to be in full bloom. So I can't complain.

I also can't complain because I watched probably one of the best hockey games I have ever seen last night: USA v. Canada. Yes it was on
MSNBC, and yes, it was not in HD (grumble grumble). We will not delve into the fact that I think the bigwigs at NBC are a bunch of morons. It was an exciting, nail-biter of a game, and I loved every minute of it! I was a little conflicted though as many of my favorite San Jose Sharks (save Swede Douglas Murray and American Joe Pavelski) play for Canada. I did laugh at Brodeur so I guess that's something. I do hope Canada beats Germany tomorrow, otherwise the entire country might go into mourning.

March is quickly approaching (what? when? how?) and I find the time is running out for me to make a ski trip up to Tahoe. I have been itching to go now that I know my legs are in MUCH better shape and (probably) won't give out on the slopes. Last time I went skiing, my mind was willing but my legs just quit working and I had a huge classic Bode Miller moment where I almost fell (there would have been broken bones for sure). This caused me to go out and buy a helmet. There's a lot of snow up there though, my trip may have to wait until April...but then I get to ski in short sleeves. So we'll see.

In the meantime, now that my big brick is over, I am looking forward to "rest week". Especially since the "talking heads" (as my 89 year old Grandfather refers to them) are predicting more rain this week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A week(ish) in review

First of all, thank you to everyone who posted all the nice comments regarding my 10K. I really appreciated it!

Last week was fairly low key. I felt surprisingly good after the 10k, and I credit the dip in my cold pool for that one. I would much rather blame the Superbowl party fare I consumed post-race, but I don't think that counts!

Sinus-wise, I was a mess. My doctor started me on Augmentin and I have an appointment with an ENT on March 1st. So we'll see where that goes. The Augmentin helped me pretty quickly, but I still had to miss work Monday night. A little switching in my work schedule ended up giving me 8 days off in a row, which was great to help me recover.

So I ended up skipping the swims last week, but I was able to get all my other workouts in, including a "hilly" brick. Wow, my legs felt like concrete on the run after riding in the hills. The weather only sprinkled on me a bit, which was a nice change. I took a little dip in the ice bath/pool afterward and that made things better. Of course, I convinced myself the best way to stand in the pool would be by sipping a hot chocolate from Peet's, which I did. As soon as I was done drinking, I was out of the pool!

Sunday was a nice flat run on the Los Alamitos trail near where I live. There were a ton of people out on the trail; families and couples enjoying their Valentine's Day. I celebrating by running almost 5 miles. I was angry with myself for not looking down at my mileage when I turned around - because I could have gone just a bit farther to make it an even 5! I felt pretty good though and can't believe I can run that far for that long without my knees or ankles hurting. It's nice.

This week is more of the same. Some hilly running (that should be interesting). A brick on Saturday which I will be dragging David along for so we can go somewhere a bit further out (I don't really relish riding alone). Some swimming as well.

Oh yeah, and a few days of work thrown in there for good measure!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

First 10K..ever

Well, I am not sure what made me sick. It could have been the ride I did in the rain on Thursday (likely) or one of my patients at work (also likely). Either way, I woke up Friday morning with a familiar feeling in my nose - congestion. I have all the prophylactics available (sinus rinse, nasal spray, decongestant), but they never seem to work. If I get a sniffle, it turns into a sinus infection, even if the sniffle was merely from the common cold.

I saw an ENT for this once, and after looking at my CT scan, he said he wasn't sure if surgery would help me. Then I read Marit's post yesterday and decided to email my PCP and get a referral to see a different ENT. I am so tired of getting sinus infections, it is not even funny. I got a sniffle at the beginning of December and decided to try and fight it off. I failed, miserably. By the middle of the month I had resorted to taking my first Vicodin ever for my sinus pressure and ended up on 2 weeks worse of Augmentin (which did other bad things to me - but at least I could breathe!).

I probably should have skipped my swim yesterday, as this tends to anger the nasal passages, but I hate missing work outs. So I swam anyway. The rest of the day was spent sneezing and just hating my nose in general, even though the rest of me felt fine.

I knew today's run wouldn't be an issue as running releases so many endorphins, it is a natural way to clear your sinuses, until the run is over, in which case all the pain and stuffiness comes back.

Anyway, suffice to say, I was quite stuffy today for my run. But I didn't care, I was going to run.
David was coming along for today's trip, so we both got up at 6am and after making some coffee and eating some oatmeal, we were on the road by 6:40am.

It was a gorgeous day in Santa Cruz. The sun was shining (?), there was a slight breeze, and it was just beautiful. Parking wasn't an issue and we were checked in at least an hour before our race. We saw Molly and her family right away and I picked her brain about what was going to go on in this race, being that it was my first running race. Swim meets I understand, running - not so much.

For one thing, I ended up dressing too warm. I had on my new warm leggings, my under armor long sleeved top, and a light rain/windbreaker. After my warm up, I took off the under armor and just ran in my sports bra and windbreaker. Honestly though, I could have worn shorts. I would have been fine through the run, but cold at the end. Maybe next time.

David and me - pre-race.

After watching the 3K run go off, I decided we should start near the back. There was no way I was going to fight with all those people, and I wanted to find my own pace, not having to worry about anyone else.

At 8:30 we were all in the street, and they sent us off! David and I did stay near the rear, and still there were many people who passed me through out the race. I did have my Garmin on, but I only set it for distance and I didn't glance down at it once. They had volunteers at every mile marker telling you the running time anyway, so I was able to figure out my pace from them. My goal was to do 10 min miles, and finish as close to an hour as possible. This was a goal I made for myself, I just was really curious to see if I could actually hold this pace, and wondered what it would feel like. Oh and as Coach said - GO HARD.

The course was beautiful, winding out to the ocean and running along the cliffs. It was a little more "hilly" than I had thought it would be. I decided I would try and hold a steady pace to the turn around and see if I could pick it up a bit on the way back. I don't believe I was able to negative split, but I did hold a really steady pace and heart rate, so I was happy. I was also able to run the entire time, no walking whatsoever, so that was a huge accomplishment for me as well.

The finish line looked SOOOOOO far away on the final stretch home. I did try my best to sprint the last 50 Meters or so, which hurt and brought me very close to puking. But throughout the run, my legs felt good, my knees and ankle didn't bother me (they are unhappy now...), and I felt like this was something I could do again.

Here is a picture of us, after the race:

At the finish, we met up with friends, took pictures, and watched the award ceremony (Molly won our AG =>).

Here is one of me and Molly, aka "the Champion of our age-group" It was pretty funny when I asked her how she did and she responded "I won our age group?" Very proud, must be all that hot chocolate =):

Once we got home, I convinced David it would be a good idea to get into our pool at least up to our thighs. Our pool is currently 40 degrees. This is as close to an ice bath as you will see me get.

I got in slowly, just dipping my ankles in first:

David just walked straight in, which caused this face:

I then moved over to the steps, getting my legs in slowly, and all the way past my knees. I took the pictures as proof that I did indeed get in my unheated pool, in February.

After 10 minutes or so, I got out and put my happy pink compression socks on. I didn't want to take a shower right away and mess up all that icing! So I just got off my legs.

Later on, we went to a family friend's house for the Superbowl. We used to go their house as kids for great Superbowl parties, and they wanted to restart the tradition this year. It had been at least 20 years since I spent a Superbowl with this family and I think we all enjoyed ourselves. I am sure I did not eat the appropriate "post-race" food. But oh well, it was yummy. We had a great time, even if David spent the majority of the time on the couch with ice on his knee.

So now this week's goals have to do with getting some antibiotics as soon as possible, rolling out my legs and maybe another dip in the cold pool. All in all, I was pretty happy with my race today - and it was fun to be competitive again, even if I was just racing the clock. I was happy to keep my pace somewhat consistent, so that I can begin to learn what that feels like.

My next 10k is in a little over a month, and I am looking forward to racing it even faster, and sinus infection-free.

Here's to a great week!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Soggy. Wet. Drenched. That was me after my 1:40 hr bike ride yesterday.

It wasn't raining when I started, but it was windy. A check of the good old Doppler Radar made it look as if rain was imminent, so I decided it would be a good day to try out my new rain jacket.

Within the first 5 minutes of my ride, it started raining. A light drizzle at first, turning into full on downpours. I was also riding into a head wind which made life interesting as well. Luckily, the roads were all pretty clear of debris due to the fact it hadn't rained in a few days.

Of course, I didn't wear my shoe protectors for this ride. Not a smart move. About 40 minutes into the ride I think I had added an extra five pounds to my bike from my shoes. It felt as if I had put both of my feet into a puddle up to my ankles. Very interesting feeling to pedal through slushy socks. I won't forget those next time.

During my ride I thought about many things. First, I contemplated what I was going to buy the next time I went to Sports Basement: cold weather cycling gloves and a back fender for my tire to prevent the dirt spray up my back. Second I wondered, many times, if I should just head for home and continue my ride on my trainer. But each time, I would remind myself what an incredible mess that would make in my office with all the mud and dirt from my bike, so I kept riding. Oh, and that I was tired of my trainer. I also wondered if there are waterproof legwarmers or cycling leggings, because my legs were drenched.

My legs pretty much felt like crap the first 40 minutes into my ride. The 45 minute track work out from the previous day probably had something to do with it. By the end, the lactic acid had been worked out and they felt okay. Even riding into the headwind which I faced for the last 10 minutes or so.

I also learned something interesting about tail winds. Tail winds are great. It's very nice to be going 20 mph and be in Zone 1. It's fabulous. Too bad I needed to not be in Zone 1. Which meant I had to pedal harder. Bummer. Actually I normally wouldn't have mind, but it was so wet out, that I was hesitant to push on that surface. So I just let Garmin beep at me, and figured it would all even out when I faced the headwind again!

Once I got home I realized my core stayed very dry. So the new jacket = good. My legs were another story. They were cold. I might as well have jumped into my pool with my bike shorts and leggings on. So this may be a work in progress to keep my legs dry and warm. I fear it may be a losing battle, however.

Rest Day today. I really wanted to get out of the house and do some yoga and shopping. However my landlord has contractors here replacing the cabinets and counter top in my 35+ year old never been updated bathroom due to termite damage. So I guess I will be here for the day. No complaints though. Rest day = good.

Tomorrow is a swim (let's hope those fin people behave) and then the run on Sunday. The weather people are saying it should be rain free, and I am looking forward to suffering next to the beautiful ocean.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fin Rant

Let me begin this post by stating I have nothing against people who wear fins. I understand their worth for people who are new to swimming as it helps their body position and kick immensely. I also understand their importance in helping people who have some sort of upper body injury (shoulder, elbow whatever).

As a competitive swimmer there was only really two times I ever wore fins. First, when I developed tennis elbow in my right arm (caused by throwing around the medicine ball during dryland - oops). I wore cut off fins during practice to take the strain off my elbow and let the worn off cartilage regrow. The second time I would wear fins was if it was a set where the ENTIRE GROUP was wearing fins. That's it. No other times. After all, you cannot wear fins in a swim meet! We might use them for speed work during a taper, but that was it, and the entire group wore fins - not just a select few. You swam, you pulled, you kicked, you did NOT wear fins.

I first noticed the fin phenomena in Masters when I was 20 years old and swimming at Arizona State University with their program. Here were these in shape looking guys, who were good swimmers, wearing fins during the hard sets (which I regularly would beat them on - sans fins). It bothered me to no end. Either do the set and work hard to make the interval, or change intervals. Putting on fins to make an interval on the main set is a cop out to me.

Today was my first day at a new Masters program. I got in the safe, middle lanes, figuring I could make the interval. There was one lady in my lane and two in the lane next to me. From their locker room chatter, I gathered they swam at least 4x a week. They looked in shape. They did flip turns. They were swimmers - pure and simple - just like me. As the coach explained the main set (an inverted pyramid of sorts) he told us our base interval would be 1:40/100yards. Immediately I heard the ladies exclaim that they couldn't make that without fins. The coach told them that fins were optional. Well you know what? I don't have fins. So I just figured I would swim and see if I could make the interval.

I was the last one to get the wall after the first 350. Out of the four women that were doing this interval, I was the only one without fins. When I got to the wall I was quite happy that I would be getting over 20 seconds rest, but I was a little miffed that my lane mates had gotten well over a minute. Really? You can't make this interval without fins? Really? Exactly HOW much rest do y'all need?

On the second 350, my lane mate almost lapped me. This was getting to be ridiculous and I fumed as I swam. I had to turn things around because I was getting angry at their sandbagging. If I could make this interval, get adequate rest, and not wear fins - then so could they. Otherwise they should be on a faster interval.

I knew all these negative thoughts were bad. I am not their coach. I knew that their wearing fins during the set only hurt their training, not mine. They're not on my relay, we're not competing together to earn points, so I should really just deal. I knew that if push came to shove, and we were in a race, I would win - because I was certainly getting more out of the work out then they were. I knew that if I met them at the beginning of a swim in a triathlon, I would stare them down, knowing I could beat them in this fin-free environment.

Still it bothered me, obviously. It was just the principle of the thing. I was quite happy to be making the interval the whole time. I began to think my goal would be to be able to beat these ladies, with their fins on, and move right past them to the fastest lane, fin free.

Perhaps I am being petty. Perhaps there is something I do not understand about wearing fins for an entire swim practice when you're a good swimmer, only so you can make the interval.

I hope I haven't offended anyone. These are just my opinions. I also have to remember that swimming is only 1/3rd of the race that I am training for, so getting to the fast lane is a good goal, but not really what I am working toward these days. Still...I am quite ready to ask Coach Jen if I can start swimming 3 times a week...

Okay..rant over.

Bike test was Friday. It went well. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade did a good job of getting me through. I don't believe I have ever, EVER sweated that much on my bike trainer. It was crazy. But good. I really need to get the speed sensor working on my bike so that I can figure out how far I am going on the trainer, mile-wise. The cadence monitor works, so that was the important part. I am beginning to covet a powertap though, but there are so many other toys I need to buy first - so it will be a while before that purchase gets made.

So the test week is over. I have new heart rate zones to work with (YAY!!!) so I am pretty excited about that.

I am off work tonight. Then I work Tuesday and Wednesday night, then I am off until the following Monday night. Good stuff. The weather today is absolutely beautiful. My swim tan lines are coming in nicely.

Okay time to sleep least a little nap...