Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Human Pincushion

Recently I decided it was time to face some of my issues head on and address some problems with my body. Now I know that sounds dramatic, but it really isn't. Most of those who know me know that I have a tendency to have some stomach issues. Issues that I am capable of making worse by simply focusing on them and in turn stressing out about them. Well I have been talking about trying to figure it out forever and today I took my first step. I had my first acupuncture session.

In my 1.5 hour consultation I actually learned quite a bit. One interesting fact is that I may be slightly anemic. While I have been enjoying some of the symptoms (think female stuff), I never actually put two and two together. Well today my therapist, managed to put it all together and now would like me to consider going to get that tested. The most interesting thing she pointed out was, as an athlete, I should have a very low resting heart rate, and I am sure we all know that. Well not only should it be low, but your pulse should apparently be strong. While mine is low, it is actually quite weak, as in you have to search for it weak. So I guess it is time to start packing in the iron!

Onto the fun part, the needles. I think she inserted about 20 needles in me in different areas, but first starting with my 3rd eye (middle of my forehead).  I had needles in my hands, forearms, stomach, feet, calves, ankles and head. Sticking the needles in actually was not as bad as I would have thought. The most interesting part is I could sometimes feel it more in one side of my body than the other. She informed me that this is because sometimes we are imbalanced.

After all the needles were in, she turned some infrared lamps on and pointed them at me and left me for about 20 minutes to relax and I have to say it was actually quite relaxing. The one odd/interesting thing is that some of the needles actually began to feel heavy. Which they obviously were not, because they are so small, but they started to feel that way.

When my 20 minutes were up, she came back removed the needles and gave me a scalp and foot massage. I left her office feeling completely relaxed and renewed. I have 2 more sessions scheduled with her which may include some cupping and herbs in addition to the traditional acupuncture. I am pretty interested to see how it goes. And I would say my first foray into acupuncture was a success.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's a Wrap...The Great Six Flags Olympic Triathlon Race Report

As of this weekend the 2012 tri season ended for me with The Great Six Flags Olympic Tri and what a day it was! I went into this race with a race plan from Coach P of "No Pressure, Just Have Fun". We were working to make sure this race would not be a total season ender for me. Although I hadn't had any issues with my IT band last week, I wasn't going to try to bring the pain back just for a race.

Friday night finally got here and Nick and I headed down to the usually hole-in-the-wall, scary stink-bomb type hotel you get when you pay $89 for the night and were in bed by 9pm. We both had had a very long week, so there was nothing keeping us awake that night. The alarm went off at 5am and we packed up and headed to Six Flags to set up my transition area. I downed the usual pre-race breakfast of a scoop of protein, a banana and 1.25 cups of applesauce and sipped on some Gatorade on the quick ride there. But I have to admit, even though the pre-race prep had begun, I was still not totally into it. I even began to consider if I could just switch to the sprint. But Nick wouldn't have it and nor would I.

So I headed over and set up my transition area. Once set up we started our trek into the park to the lake where we would swim. Although the start was supposed to be at 7am at 6:40 they were driving around saying last call for our start. Well this is where the first obstacle presented itself. I still had not had a chance to hit a bathroom. And the only bathroom open to us was about 3/10 of a mile away from the swim start. So I had to pass on the potty break. And this was a new strategy for me!

We kept on walking to the swim start and that is when it clicked that I would have to run the 4/10 of a mile to transition after my swim, either in my flip flops (recipe for disaster) or barefoot. I hadn't know we were going that far in the beginning or I would have brought my sneakers with me. Well knowing that my flip flops would get too slippery I decided to go barefoot. Good decision? We'll get back to that one later.

We go to the lake, learned the course and got ready to begin. When we hopped in I realized it was a bit colder than expected but I just used my own personal wet suit warming methods and I was good to go. Off went the horn and off we went. And did we ever. A lot of these women were brutal and not very consistent swimmers. So we kept spreading out only to have people swim directly into you. I was feeling a bit out of it and I don't think I really settled into a good stroke until half way through. But once I did, I was out of there. Next thing I knew I was passing people left and right and the last buoy was getting closer and closer. The next thing I knew I was climbing out and getting ready to high tail it back to the transition area.

Swim: 23:58- my fastest Olympic swim yet

So now to the 4/10 of a mile run back barefoot. Well the first half was fine, the second half, on the other hand, was hell. It was all loose gravel. By the time I got to the transition entrance I had started walking and was worried my feet were bleeding. They were burning so bad that I was beginning to think crawling to my bike would be faster. By the time I got to my bike, I was hurting, but I threw on my cleats and helmet and headed out for my ride.

T1: 6:07- actually pretty average for my AG

The bike was set after set of rolling hills that seemed to be never ending. The only great thing, was a) I knew I was supposed to "take it easy" and b) the scenery was amazing! I mean it was so beautiful. All farmland, horse farms and mansions in the middle of no where. So while your legs were on fire, climbing all of the damn hills, you at least had something nice to look at. Other than the scenery and never ending hills, the ride was pretty uneventful. I gave a sigh of relief as I headed back into the parking lot and began thinking about my run.

Bike: 1:27- faster than my usually hilly course average, so I was ok with it
T2: 1:17 - now that is more my style

So now it was time to run. I gave Nick a wave and headed into the park for my two loop course. We ran through different sections of the park and then out to the Haunted Hayride trail. And yes, it was a trail. Again, as I always say, I wish they would mention trail runs in the race description so you would be prepared, but no such luck. The trail was actually pretty nice although a bit rocky. Somewhere during mile two I gave my ankle a good twist and decided it was time to pay attention to what I was doing. I hit my first mile at 8:20 and realized I may have come out too fast. After all, I was supposed to be taking it easy, but apparently I wasn't. (Surprise, surprise.) There were a few very small climbs and I made sure to ease up on those to give my IT band a break. After the first three miles, I was feeling worn but not too bad.

As I passed the finish line and entered into my second loop I saw Nick and he jumped in with me. We figured as long as he made it past the security guard into the park, he could finish up the race with me. He made it past and then the next three miles were just good fun. I had someone to talk to, and that helped me to not push myself too hard and we still kept up a decent pace. But I must say I was happy when I was done.

Run: 55:59- not too slow, but definitely not taking it easy pace

And the icing on the cake, I ended up 3rd in my age group, so I got a fancy little award plaque to bring home!

We spent the rest of the day in Great Adventure walking around, playing games and going on rides. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone in the area. It was set up great and if anything it is worth it just for the scenery on the ride.

So now, I ended my 2012 tri season by placing and now I am moving on to see what kind of damage I can do to my upcoming marathon. On to some run training!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Now I Get It!

So apparently I finally get it. If you listen to your body and what your coach is telling you to do, when it comes to injury and rest, it pays off! Who woulda thunk it?

As I have mentioned before and as you have probably gathered from my race reports, I have a tendency to hear the things my coach tells me, but I sometimes I choose to not listen to them or practice them. Well it seems I have turned a corner on that one. I have been following his recommendations along with listening to my body and it seems to be creating a positive outcome.

On Tuesday, I had ZR ride on the trainer and then I headed out for a Zone R and Zone 1 run. Well after an hour and half on the bike I was a little wary as to how my knee and IT band would feel. But I came out of it feeling good. There was still a dull ache when I was done, but I iced and it was ready to go by spin class. After class I got in a nice Epsom salt bath and then went to bed.

Wednesday, I woke up feeling it a bit, and rested in the morning. In the afternoon, I hit the pool for my swim (who is this girl, I know!) and by evening I was feeling a bit better so I hit an early evening barre class. After class I felt even better. I really think the amount of stretching you do in that class HAS to help. After class it was home for dinner and another bath.

I got up today feeling good and got in a 1:30 Z1 ride followed by a 45 min Z1/Z2 run. And again, I felt great. I am thinking I might head to the pool this afternoon to get tomorrow's 1 hour paddle swim out of the way since I have a clear afternoon and then depending on how I feel, I may hit a barre class again.

Well I guess the moral of the story is, that maybe, just maybe, the professionals know what they are talking about, and that sometimes, I should stop being such a stubborn person and listen to them. Only sometimes though! I mean I can't stop being me.

Anyone racing this weekend? I have a weekend off before my final tri of the season.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Very Introspective Monday

Well with no race to get ready for this past weekend and a knee to take care of, I spent some time on the couch and also some time going out and having some fun. It was all the craziness and fun that lead me to today's post. Sometimes I think it is good to take a step back and look at your life and the way you are living it. In doing this every once in a while, you can take a good look at the decisions you are making and why you are making them. And to be honest, just sitting a few hours and thinking really opened my eyes to a few things.

So, since I already had to drop one of my September goals, of a Half PR, I will add a new one in instead. My last goal is now to try to be a little more true to myself with the decisions I make. I feel some times we make decisions for the wrong reasons. Whether it is to fit in or to make yourself feel better, and the results of those decisions are very short lived. So instead of just making a decision without thinking about it, I will think first and be true to who I am.

I know, you are probably thinking jeez this a little deep for a Monday or man, what did she do that was so bad this weekend!?!? But to be honest, nothing bad was done, I just think doing personal inventory every once in a while can have positive effects on your outlook on life and help you to make good decisions as opposed to decisions "just because". So mental inventory for this month is complete!

Now onto the physical inventory. Well, as I said, I spent a decent amount of time on the couch resting and icing my leg, and sadly I went for a quick 30 min walk on Sunday and the pain is still there. It is a little disconcerting considering all I was doing was walking. I had a repeat performance today, when I walked 10 blocks to pick up my bike. I made it back home and the pain was back again. Although I was able to ride the bike home with zero discomfort. So at least I have that!

So the plan for today is yet another ZR ride and then maybe I will take the dog out for a walk and test it out again. Fingers crossed that the nagging IT band pain goes away!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Decisions & Disappointment Go Hand in Hand this Week

So tomorrow would have been my only half iron distance of the year. There is hope yet, that it still may be, but I am waiting to see what Coach P has to say.

So here is how is started. Last Saturday, I had a long brick to lead up to the race, I did a nice 50 mile Zone1/Zone2 bike and quick 30 min run and I felt great. Then on Sunday I had a 1 hour Zone 1 run then later in they day 1 hour on the bike and then another 1 hour Zone 1 T run. Well the first run my HR was totally jacked up because it was so hot in the gym. I managed 9:29 min/miles and although sweaty I felt ok. I came home, rested, ate and got on the bike. My hour on the bike felt great, then it was off for my 2nd hour of running. It had cooled off at the gym which was nice, and 58 minutes of that run felt fantastic (9:22 pace), but then my right leg started to feel funny. So I stopped 2 minutes short and went to stretch and roll out my leg.

I walked home the 6 blocks and when I got home it was a whole different story. I couldn't bend my right leg or really stand on it. It was IT band pain but also felt like I had pinched something. I sat on the couch and iced my leg all night. When I got up in the middle of the night to pee, the same thing happened and I had to hop to the bathroom. I went back to bed and hoped it would be different in the morning. Low and behold it was not. When Nick got up he got me some ice and I spent a few hours in bed icing my knee before I got up.

I decided I would skip my runs for the rest of the week and do a little biking if I could in order to keep limber so I could foam roll my legs and ice. Last night I went to my massage therapist for a full hour of lower back and leg work. The F-bomb was dropped quite a few times along with some major sweating but I thought by the time I left I had turned a corner. Well, not so much. I woke up this morning, not in the usual after a hell-massage pain, but specifically with IT band pain. DAMN IT!!

So now I am faced with the decision of do I race or not. The only thing I know is that if I attempt to take this on, I know me, and there is no way in hell I would take a DNF, so if I set out to race it, I will race it regardless of how much pain I am in. Stubborn is ingrained in me, what can I say? So my options now are:
  1. Race the full race and get over it
  2. Switch to the Aqua bike division (that means no half for me this year)
  3. Don't race at all
I am waiting to see what Coach P has to say but I would like to stay as far away from option 3 as possible. And honestly even option 2 would still make me a little down, but I would at least still get to race. I am prepared to race and I want to. But we will see, he knows best right?


And I think the racing gods are trying to tell me something, I just got a call from my bike shop letting me know that both my gear cables where shredded and the housings were cracked. Maybe I should just stay home this weekend?


The IT Band has won, I will not be racing this weekend. Instead I will be buying new sneakers and spending the weekend biking and running in Zone R. While I am disappointed because I was ready, I know this is the best decision for me. I need to get this IT band thing under control so I can finish out the 2012 season healthy. Now I am going to go cry into my cheerios.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Goodbye Summer...Hello September, my Tri Month

Well sadly the summer is over. We toasted to the end of this summer with a fun Labor Day bbq and luckily we picked the only nice day that we had! On Saturday we had our friends over for a full day of bbqing, cocktails and sun. It was a great way to end the summer and begin what should be quite a challenging few months.

My month of local barre also came to an end and since I have a few races coming up, I am going to hold off on starting my next month. But one thing I can say is all this lifting and core work has made a big difference in the way I feel and my workouts. I am noticing it the most in my swims. And yes, I can use the plural of the word because I have been in the pool more than once this month and not to float on a raft and read a book! 

So now onto this months goals. Here goes nothing:
  • I want a PR in my Half  coming up this weekend. In the past I have chosen races where the bike and run are so challenging that I never had a chance to PR. This time I think I picked the right race and I am ready to finally get this PR.
  • PR in my swim for my Olympic Tri this month. During the NJ State Tri, I started out strong but crapped out at one point, I want to attack this one with everything I've got.
  • Continue with local barre at least 4-5 times a week, once I start up again.
  • Use up the remainder of my boot camp classes to test my strength a bit.
So this is what I am up against this month and then it is the end of my tri season. I then move on to marathon training for the NYC Marathon in November. And that will bring on a whole different set of goals, but let's deal with September first!

Now I just need to get my head ready for this weekend's race. I am feeling a little bit antsy, I think only because every other season by now most of my hard races are behind me. But not this year! I have two right ahead of me! I have the half this weekend, a weekend off and then an Olympic on the 22nd. The best part is that the Olympic is at Great Adventure, so we get free park entry. Which means Nick and I will celebrate the end of tri season by eating bad food and trying to not throw it up on the rides! Good fun.

Well that is all for now, the goals are right here in writing so I guess that means I have to try my hardest to complete them!

Happy September! Bring on the apple picking and football!