Thursday, January 30, 2014

What's Your Word?

   My brother, Rob, called last night. He lives in Santa Cruz, so unfortunately, we don't get to see each other that much. But we talk when we can. Generally, we talk about basic stuff - work, cycling (he owns a spin gym) and the like. We rarely get into anything too deep. Which is why I was kind of surprised when he asked me last night what my word was.
   "My what?"
   "Your word. Your word for 2014."
   Until that moment, I hadn't really thought about it. One word? To encompass the entire year? I mean, that's a lot of pressure for ONE word. He went on about how this was a topic of conversation at dinner the other night. Some of the words that night were happy, supportive and divorce (sad).
   My word immediately came to mind: Ironman. What else could it be? Pretty much everything I'm going to be doing over the next 240 days (!!) is going to be dedicated to IM Chattanooga in late September, and the remaining months of 2014 will be recovering from it.
   I think it's a neat concept of having a word for the year. It's something so simple, but yet can set a foundation for the entire year. So, I ask you. What's your word?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why I'll Never Win the Hardrock 100

   So, I'm sick. Not a major illness - just a cold, but enough to keep me from going into work today. Something probably brought on by a combination of the crazy temperature changes we've been having in Nashville (60 degrees on Sunday and single digits on Monday. REALLY?) and the fact that my dogs wake me up at 3:00 every morning so my sleep has been terrible recently.
   But, again, like being injured and noticing other people training, this is another way to just freak me out because I'm not out there swimming, biking or running. Seriously - I had no idea that NOT training could be so stressful!
   The smart, rational side of me thinks I need to stay at home, not work out and try to get better, which is exactly what I did today. I prone to getting bronchitis and I would really like to avoid getting it again. But then, there is a part of me that thinks I should just suck it up and workout anyway. I mean, it is just a cold (right now) and maybe I'm being too much of a wimp. Due to my being sidelined today, I read Scott Jurek's "Eat and Run." NOT a good book to read when you're sidelined unless you want to feel like a total poser. That guy freakin' ran through everything! Heck - he tore ligaments in his ankle two days before the 2007 Hardrock 100, ran the race anyway and won! NOT that I'm comparing myself to Scott Jurek (umm, legend), but if he's out there running on torn ligaments, I should be able to get out there and run with a few sniffles, shouldn't I?  Or at least climb on my trainer for a spin?
   But no. I'm sitting here on my sofa like a lump, drinking my herbal tea and taking pictures of my corgis. Which, I'm sure, is something that Scott Jurek never did. Which is why I'll never win the Hardrock 100.

This is Toby. He looks like he's judging me, doesn't he? HE thinks I should go run.

This is Henry. In a green boa. I was bored.

Until next time!  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

One Of Us...

   This past weekend, I took part of a virtural run honoring a woman that I'd never met. Her name was Meg. She was 34, a stay-at-home mother of three and a runner (Boston qualifier). And she was killed while out running the morning of January 13th after being hit by a drunk driver.
   The response to her tragic death by the running community has been extraordinary. Someone close to Meg came up with the idea that people dedicate their runs over the weekend to her. A quote from the Meg's Miles Facebook page states: "no matter what your distance, no matter where you live, run for Meg. Take in the fresh air, be aware of your surroundings, keep your headphones on low, feel the heaviness in your lungs, the soreness in your legs, and be grateful for it--for all of it."  They then asked people to post their milage and maybe some photos on their FB page.  
   I'm sure the originator of that post thought they might be reaching Meg's friends, family and the members of the Richmond Road Runner's Club, which was Meg's running group. Instead, they created a worldwide movement which stretched from the US to Afghanistan to Australia. Over 100,000 people stated on Facebook that they were participating in the run, and from the posts and photos I saw on their site, I believe it. There was no set distance - some people ran 10 miles, some only a block. But the point was they they got out and ran.
   Why did this story touch so many people? I'm guessing because it hit so close to home. As I mentioned, I never met Meg...but I do run. Often. And runners have this strange bond that unites us. This bond is hard to describe to non-runners. It's just something you can't relate to until you've gotten up a some crazy hour to go for a run…in the rain. Or until you've felt the elation of running a certain distance, whether it be a mile or 26.2, for the first time. Meg was one of us. And she died doing something that we do everyday. She went for a run.
   I don't want to go into detail on the person who hit Meg. What's the point? His actions destroyed the lives of two families and broke the hearts of countless others. But I'd be remiss to not use this opportunity to remind people to BE AWARE of what they're doing behind the wheel. If you drink - don't drive. If the phone rings while you're driving - don't answer it. If you're falling asleep - pull off the road! It's really not that hard! I'm not saying I'm perfect - heck, I swerved out of my lane a bit this morning trying to read a bumper sticker - but I am making much more of an effort to eliminate any distractions when I'm driving. And I'm asking you to do the same. You might save a life.

Shoe Memorial for Meg.
Photo by Loren Adair Rosado.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sometimes, People Don't Suck

   I think we all know that living in our 24-hour news cycle world can be a little depressing. There are WAY too many stories of people being violent and hateful, animals being abused and politicians, well, just being politicians (sorry to all of my DC friends - I don't mean YOU!) - and it gets me down. Seriously. It's just too much and sometimes I have to tune things out for a while so I don't completely lose faith in the human race. Which is why training is so awesome.
   Why is training so awesome, you ask? Well, not only do you get the physical and mental benefits that are generally associated with exercise, but you also are out in the world witnessing that sometimes, people DON'T suck. Let me give you a few examples of things I've seen while out training.
  • Animal rescue. This is huge with me. Anyone who rides or runs with me has seen me save random turtles, snakes and even snails from certain death. But recently, I was at a local park running and noticed a small group of people, including a paramedic, hovering around a parked car. This car happened to be next to mine and when I walked by I heard a faint "mew."  Yep - there was a tiny kitten under the car and these kind people were trying to lure him out. Of course, I joined in the efforts and after about 15 minutes and some enticing with leftover chicken, the kitten finally poked his little furry head out enough to be caught. One of the rescuers took the kitten home. Turns out - none of the rescuers owned the car the kitten was hiding under. One person just heard the little cry, knew that bad things would probably happen if no one got the kitten out from under the car and stopped to do something about it. Then, one by one, others joined in and Viola! A happy ending!
  • Blankets on a bench. What? Blankets on a bench? What does that mean? Well, it's been a little chilly in Nashville recently, being winter and all. And while I was out running a few weeks ago, I spied some folded blankets sitting on a bus stop bench. I don't know who put them there or why. They could have been for the people waiting for a bus to stay warm. Or they might have been for the local homeless population to use at night. But there they were, just sitting there waiting to keep someone warm. 
  • Dads with their kids. This is probably the most heart-warming things I see on a regular basis. I'm actually not referring to dads with their small children who are out playing, though that is a wonderful sight, as well. No, I'm thinking about two specific dads that I see out regularly with their grown, mentally or physically disabled sons. One pair I see at the pool almost every time I'm there. Doesn't matter when - Saturday at noon, Tuesday night at 7:30…they are usually there playing pool basketball or something like that.  The other pair I see frequently on the bike, with the father pulling his son along behind him. Totally reminds me of Team Hoyt, or the Long brothers (Check out their stories. If you don't tear up, you're dead inside.). I do not know the stories of the families I see locally, but every time I see them, I just feel good and get inspired to work a little harder.   
   So there you have it. Three reasons why people don't suck. And I never would have experienced them first-hand if I wasn't exercising. If you have similar stories, let me know! I'd love to hear them! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

First Ride of the Year!

   So, is there anything better for a cyclist than the first outdoor ride of the year? OK, I know some of you probably ride all year long, no matter what the weather. Yes, I see you out there - riding in snow and sub-30 degree weather (or lower)! I truly admire you, I do. I think you're a little crazy - but I admire you.

I am not one of you.

   No, for me, the first outdoor ride of the year was yesterday. My friend Kathy M. invited me to join her and a few friends for a ride. Now, normally, I don't ride with Kathy because I can't hang with her. Seriously, she can drop me like an anchor without breaking a sweat. She races almost year-round and the girl has got some serious cycling skills. And while I'm OK with being dropped if I know where I am, I really didn't want to get dropped out in the middle of nowhere. But, then I decided to apply Rule #5 and go. I'm never going to get faster if I don't ride with faster people, right? Kathy also said she wasn't going to ride hard because she was just building base miles. I figured I could hang with that.
   It was a bit chilly to ride by my standards -  it was still in the 30's Sunday morning when I was getting dressed, and would be in the low 40's when we started to ride with eventually getting into the 50s. Since I generally don't ride when it's this cold, I had NO idea what to wear. In theory, when you ride outside, you dress for 10-15 degrees colder than what the actual temperature is because of wind. After running around the house trying to find all of my random pieces of cold-weather riding gear, I was off to meet the gang: Kathy M., my FTP training buddy Kathy R., Kristie (one of Kathy M.'s teammates) and Angela, who races mountain bikes.  Seriously - do I have some bad-ass friends, or what?
   I brought my Litespeed, rather than my tri bike to the ride. I love my Litespeed. Seriously - it's the best bike. I know it probably sounds crazy to most people to be so devoted to a bike... because it IS just a bicycle. But it fits me perfectly. When I ride it, it's like it's an extension of me - I know exactly how it's going to react in any given situation. I don't feel that way about my tri bike - it's twitchy, as tri bikes generally are. I'm not a fan of twitchy. My Litespeed is smoooooth.

Best bike ever.

   The ride was great. It was pretty flat and we rode at a pretty casual pace. Generally, I head out to Leiper's Fork or some place out in the country to ride. This time we met up at LP Field in downtown Nashville and headed up to Joelton - definitely more urban than what I'm used to. Fortunately, riding with car traffic doesn't bother me, and there wasn't that much of it anyway. There was one CRAZY hill up to Joelton, which was a bit of a leg-breaker after not being on the bike since October (Yikes!), but I survived. Kathy R., Angela and I split off at around 20 miles and headed back. I think we rode about 30 total. Nothing crazy, but it was a great way to kick off riding season. So glad to be back on the bike!   And I need to be because I'm aiming to tackle my FIRST century ride in May - the CRAM in Clarksville! There are lots of distances for this ride, so you all should come join me!  

Monday, January 6, 2014

And I'm Starting to Panic

   So, it's January 6th. I officially have 264 days until Ironman Chattanooga, or a little less than nine months. But this fact alone is not why I'm starting to panic. No, I'm starting to panic because I'm starting to see other athletes training for Chattanooga...and I haven't really started to do anything for it yet. Heck - I don't even have a plan for it yet - forget about actually training for it!
   That's the issue with knowing a lot of triathletes and following several triathlete forums - you get overexposed to the sport. You read about how someone just did a 75 mile bike ride and a 10 mile run, while you're sitting around eating Christmas candy. And it makes you feel like you're a lazy bum. More than a lazy bum - you feel like a damn slacker. While I know that I can't compare myself with other athletes, my anxiety level rises every time I read someone's training schedule.
   But here's the thing, there's a reason why I haven't started training for Chattanooga yet - I'm only doing a six month training program. I really think that's all I can do without losing my freaking mind or completely burning out. I also don't want to get sidelined by an overuse injury. Am I still active? Absolutely. I just finished the Holiday Streak on New Year's Day. I ran nine miles yesterday. I've been swimming somewhat regularly and have doing some yoga/bosu, as well. Today is actually the first day I haven't worked out since before Thanksgiving. Yet, I still have this pit in my stomach because I feel like I'm not doing enough. It's crazy, I know, but it's still how I feel.
   I'm not exactly sure what to do about this. I really enjoy reading about different workouts and training schedules. I know I've picked up some good tips from them. But I also don't like feeling like I'm a Ironman poser because I'm not riding centuries every weekend. Sigh. If anyone has any remedies for Ironman anxiety, I'd love to hear them. I'm sure this isn't the first time I'll be freaking out over the next nine months!