Oi. One and a half weeks after my last post my car lost compression on the #3 cylinder. Instead of purchasing a new car I decided to work with a friend of mine and rebuild the engine. Two and a half months later, my car is rebuilt and running well, but I haven't been able the think about working out since I started the rebuild. The off-season is dwindling and I need to get back into the gym. And pronto! I'm beginning to formulate my plan for next season and I'll be getting back into the gym very soon.
I had my second yoga class this week and the experience was quite different from last week. I was able to make it through the sun salutations without breaking a sweat, although I was comfortably warm as was expected. We then did the warrior poses like last class, and I was able to make it through the whole set of sequences without having to stop. My arms felt tired, but not exhausted and shaky like last time. A few poses later and we were back to side planks. I tried to lean on my scraped up elbow, but wasn't able to without pain. So I did the side plank from my hand and was able to hold the pose for the whole duration. We switched sides and since I was successful doing the side plank from my hand on the one side, I had to do the same on the other side.
At the end of the class I was tired, but not exhausted like last class. My obliques were sore the next day, and my shoulders were a little achy, but again, not like after last class. So, I think it's safe to say that I've made improvement, and I look forward to next class.
With my season over, I decided to let it all hang out last week. No tracking my food intake; no gym; no nothing. It was nice to let things slide for a few days.
As of yesterday I started my post-season/pre-winter phase which involves yoga once a week and weight training twice a week (and tracking my food intake again). My gym offers a couple of yoga classes and there is one class that is at a convenient time of day that I decided I should attend. Yesterday's class kicked my butt! My hands were sore after all the planks we did, and my arms were like jello. With my injured elbow I was a little limited because I couldn't do the side plank with my arm extended, but I could do it with my lower arm on the ground, but that involves leaning on the part of my elbow that's scraped up and still sore. So, I missed out on some of the poses, but for my first yoga class in several years, I accepted that.
Today my shoulders ache. That suggests that I am lacking in shoulder strength, but I'm not too surprised. I haven't done any weight training since April, and little of my exercises then involved shoulders, so they didn't get stronger. I'll have to make sure I change that this time around. Core strength is another area that I'm lacking, so I have at least two specific targets for this phase of my off-season.
A couple weeks ago I noticed that my swim suit wasn't fitting like it used to. It seemed to be a little loose; the stretched out kind of loose. I've had the suit for several years now - a Speedo reversible. I decided it was probably time to start looking, so I grabbed a couple of catalogs and looked online at TYR and Speedo.
In the meantime, while I was trying to figure out what numerical size I was, my suit seemed to exponentially get worse. I noticed that there were definite wear spots in places and the material was quite saggy. I was sad to see this since I really enjoyed using that suit. When I did my open water swim, I could see the sagging material when I pulled off my wetsuit.
So after trying on a few sizes, then thinking maybe I was ordering one too large based on the body measurements, I finally settled on a size 36 and color and placed an order. My new suit will be a TYR Green Elixir. I have retired my old suit and will drop it off for textile recycling when I head up to the recycling center one day soon. *Sigh* It was a good suit, but I must move on. I haven't had a new suit in a few years so the change will be nice. Maybe I'll even swim faster.
Update (09/17/08): I picked up my suit today and it was blue. I had told them that green was my first choice, with the additional choices or blue or red if they were sold out of green.
I participated in the Delaware Diamondman Sprint Triathlon on Sunday, September 7th in Bear, DE. This was my first Piranha Sports Series event, and the closing event for my season.
My husband and I drove out to a local hotel after Tropical Storm Hanna had passed through the area. Packet pick-up and the first-timers meeting had been moved to earlier in the day so I decided to forgo getting to the Bear area in the afternoon and instead got there in enough time to check-in to the hotel, grab dinner, and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Dinner was at the TGI Friday's at the hotel and it did not agree we me. The Cherry Limeade with the Bruschetta Chicken Pasta didn't play well together and I thought my stomach might throw it into reverse. I kept everything down and hit the hay around 9:15p.
I awoke at 4:15a. I had brought Quinoa for my pre-race meal, so I heated up some of it and grabbed some water as well. I got my stuff packed up and headed off to Lums Pond State Park. I arrived at the park at 5:30a; it was pitch black. I wandered through a tree line and found the white tent where packet and chip pick-up was located. I wasn't told where the body marking and transition area was, and could see barely 10 feet in front of me, so as I wandered back to my car I asked a fellow triathlete and he confirmed that the buzz of flashlights I had seen a ways past the white tent was where it all was. I grabbed my gear, got marked, and set up my transition area. The sun was starting to come up at this point, so it wasn't as hard to see.
I had plenty of time to relax before the pre-race meeting at 6:45a, which didn't actually start until 7:00a. Following the meeting was the National Anthem, and then the walk down to the start of the swim. There's some discrepancy as to the distance between the end of the swim and the transition area; I've read 0.25 miles and 0.4 miles. Nonetheless, it was a long walk.
At this point I hadn't decided what to do about my wetsuit. At the race meeting we were told that the water temperature was 78 degrees the day previous; I was told by my body marker that the air temperature that morning wasn't as cold as the water was going to be, and it was chilly that morning. I didn't have a chance to touch the water before the start of the race, so I grabbed my wetsuit and headed down. Jeff, Kristin, and Jon were on their way, but not due to arrive a bit close to the start of my wave of the swim. I had my phone, keys, and sandals (for the long transition) and wanted to hand off the first two to someone. I realized while I was putting my cap on that I had forgotten my ear plugs back at home.
I watched the blue cap wave (just before my wave) head out into the water a little earlier than I had expected, and I missed part of the pre-swim speech because I was waiting up the hill for my spectators. I called Jeff at 7:51a, left a message to tell him where my stuff was, the headed out for the swim. As I hit the edge of the water my heart sunk - the in-water start was way out in the lake. I paddled out as slowly as I could, but ultimately missed making it to the start area before the whistle was sounded. I put my face in the water and came out with two eyes filled with pond water.
I stopped using a latex swim cap when I started swimming in 2006. I got tired of the latex caps pulling on my hair when I wore them, so I switched over to silicone which I absolutely love. There's a big difference between those two caps, aside from the hair pulling - thickness. With my hair pulled lower than it usually is when I swim and the thickness of the cap much thinner, my goggles weren't as tight as they needed to be, and there was no way I could fix it while in the water. Lose a contact and I would be done (although I did have a spare in the car). To compound matters, my wetsuit had already started to wear me out from the swim out to the start area and what flailing I had done in the water after the start.
I took some time to catch my breath and try to make a reasonable decision. I was ready to call it quits. A fellow swimmer and one of the volunteers in a boat asked me if I was all right because I was breathing quite rapidly. I said I just couldn't catch my breath. Since the wetsuit was an issue, it had to come off, so I pulled it down to my waist. That helped me relax because the water was cool on my skin. Unable to put my face in the water because of my goggles and my rapid breathing, I resigned myself to the back stroke.
My goggles were severely fogged up because of the water that had gotten in them which made sighting hard to do, but some how I made it through the swim. I had a volunteer escort on the way in because I was one of the last swimmers to come in. Once I touched the silty bottom with my hand, I stood up and started wading through the muck. There were two volunteers in the water to help people step onto the hidden edge of the boat ramp. I got onto the ramp without a problem, and was thrilled to see Jeff waiting for me with my sandals.
I had a good 60 second cry once I was on dry land. I didn't have the energy to jog to the transition area, so I walked with Jeff and let out all my frustrations from the swim. A therapy session of sorts. I noticed in the transition area that I was one of the last bikes there. My heart sank again, but I knew there was nothing I could do about it now and I'd have to make up time on the bike and run. With my emotions in check, I was ready to head out on the bike.
The bike route was essentially a folded loop. We went out-and-back in one direction, passed by the transition area half way through, and went out-and-back in the other direction. It was nice to have the transition area ride-by because the spectators were able to cheer for you. I remember three woman who didn't know me screaming "Looking great 399!" and "You go girl!". That put a big smile on my face. Then I rode past my little group and they added to my motivation.
Everything was going great until... I came up to a part of the course where there were railroad tracks and a right-hand turn. There was a line of six or so cars backed up on the road, and the cyclists were hitting the shoulder per the officer's direction. The tracks were at an angle to the road, so I had to adjust my path of travel so I wouldn't get eaten up in the lines. No problem. At some point an officer gave the go-ahead for a car near me to make their turn down the road I needed to be going down. They apparently forgot which pedal was the accelerator. I slowed down as much as I could, didn't unclip thinking they would accelerate some time soon, but hit their passenger side bumper and fell to my left side. The officers asked if I was all right, and I told them "yes" as I gathered myself back together and headed off.
I checked myself over and found an oozing scrape on my left elbow and some road rash on my left knee. A mile or so down the road an officer pulled up next to me and asked if I was all right. I told her that everything felt fine She recognized that the officer at the intersection had goofed and there was nothing I could have done. She told me to "keep up the good work" and headed off. The rest of the bike was uneventful, but it made me wonder what was going to happen on the run.
I transitioned from the bike to the run with no problem. I was tired, but only had two miles left to go, so I put it in gear and headed off. The run was an out-and-back in the campground area. Shortly after getting through the tree line, I walked for 10 seconds to gather myself and grab a quick breather. I was pleasantly cheered on by the other runners, and I returned the favor. It was the last few miles of our race and we were all far from finishing in the top of our respective age group; we were just trying to survive. I hit the turn around point which had a water station, so I grabbed a water, walked so I could down a gulp or two, then continued on. I was thrilled to finally be rounding the corner of the tree line and headed for the finish line just 100m ahead. They called my number and name over the loud speaker, and everyone cheered me through the finish. I picked up my finisher dog tag, turned in my chip, and met up with my group. My race day was done.
Lessons learned: - For goggles, the tighter the better - Add ear plugs to the gear list - No wetsuit needed in 77/78 degree water - Do longer swims in the wetsuit - One serving of Clif Bloks/Luna Moons is good for the bike (two is too many) - Luna Moons have too many pieces to eat; Clif Bloks are less hassle
I haven't decided if I'll do this one again. The silty, marshy waters edge is tough to navigate, particularly with the boat ramp. The end of the swim to the transition area is longer than most races. The bike was flat and fast and fantastic; the run was nice as well. If I hadn't had the time and equipment issues in the swim, I may not have minded the things I mentioned.
Once I pull out my watch times and get the official chip times, I'll post them here.
Update (09/10/08): Overall Place 166/177 Gender Place 70/75 Age Group Place 10/12
Swim - 0:39:35 (0.6 mi + long walk) T1 - 0:03:13 Bike - 1:07:12 (17.5 mi) T2 - 0:01:55 Run - 0:21:06 (2 mi) Total - 2:13:00 (9.08 mph)
This morning I went to Greenbrier State Park to test out my open water swimming skills. It was my first time with the wetsuit on in quite a while, and my first open water swim practice. They have an area near the shore roped off for swimming. While it's not truly open water, it's a close enough approximation.
I didn't have any problems with the wetsuit or the sighting. I found that sighting after breathing was the technique that worked best for me because I could breath normally, then move my head to the front, sight, then put my head in the water where it belonged. I can definitely see how it will tire out your neck and back after a while. As well as the wetsuit wearing out your shoulders.
It wasn't as much practice as I wanted to get in before the race, but it'll have to do. It's better than nothing I suppose.
In preparation for my race in just over a week, I hit the pool to gain confidence that I could swim 0.6 miles (1056 yards) in one shot. My last workout had been an 800 yard swim to get me close to my 1050 yard goal, and with how well that workout went, I thought this one would be a piece of cake. Plus, there was one annoying thing I needed to take care of in preparation for my race.
I found the sloshing of water in my ears became more annoying the longer I swam. As I got through 400 yards I could tolerate it, but as I moved into 600 and 700 yards, it was unbearable. And if it was bad at 600 yards, what about at 1000 yards and with many other swimmers kicking up the water? I just might go insane. So I dusted off the ear plugs that I purchased a few years back and decided to try them out.
My ear plugs look like this. I found it hard to get them in at first, but once in, they felt great. As I swam, the flow of water in and out of my ears was gone. And the pool noise was more subtle, which helped me concentrate on what I was doing (counting to two). When I was done, they hurt a little as they popped out, but I guess that's what you get when you have a water-tight seal.
I'm now an advocate for ear plugs when swimming. I might even use them every time I'm in the pool. Maybe.
Ever since high school I've usually weighed between 132 and 135 pounds. And ever since high school I've never really liked my body. I inherited my Mom's genes which meant I was doomed to a short torso, but had the benefit of long arms and legs. To put it in perspective, the top of my hip is just a few inches lower than Jeff's, and he's 6'2" while I'm 5'5". My life may have been very different with those few extra inches. A pro volleyball player...an Olympic swimmer...
And back to reality... While I've been unhappy, I never really did anything to make myself happier. My eating habits weren't bad and I exercised some, but I didn't make an effort to improve on how I was treating my body. Until June of this year.
With Kristin's recommendation, I purchased the Vida One software for my Dell Handheld and PC and began recording what I ate. At first this took a bit of time because I'd have to enter all the nutritional information for every item, but as time went on the entering went quicker since the foods were already there to choose from. On June 23rd I started at 137.2 pounds. This was the heaviest I'd ever been and boy did I feel it physically and emotionally.
I set the goal of having my "race weight" as 130.0 pounds. This meant a 7.2 pound loss in just under 11 weeks; a very doable goal. I didn't want to go for anything drastic because (1) I was in training and didn't want to hurt myself and (2) I wanted my weight loss goal to be an added benefit to my training, not a stressor in my life that I obsessed over (and I have those tendencies). So I began tracking everything that hit my stomach.
At first I found I was eating enough to maintain my weight, so I had to start watching my portion sizes and cut 332 calories out each day. Some days I did better than others, but I didn't worry if ate too much one day; I eased up the next. If I saw that I had only 400 calories left for dinner, I tried to plan out a meal with about 400 calories, which one time meant putting away the extra bratwurst and bun and sticking with just one that night.
At first I weighed myself inconsistently. I'd try to remember after I got home from work, but I didn't always make it to the scale. Part way into my goal I read that weighing yourself in the morning provides you with your most accurate weight because you've been fasting all night, so I started doing that. Plus, it worked out well because I would jump on the scale before getting dressed for work. No matter what time, consistency (same time of day) is the important part.
My scale also measures body fat, and the morning is a bad time to take that measurement, so I try to get that number before I grab dinner. I needed to be careful because if my body fat percentage wasn't going down (or worse, was going up), it meant that I was losing muscle and needed to change something immediately. I started out at (an embarrassing) 31% when I started working out last November; when I started here I was down to 27.5%. That value is generally in the acceptable range, but 25% is the start of the ideal range.
As the weeks past I saw my weight come down gradually. On days that I did a hard workout I would allow myself a Chipotle salad without dressing (not every hard workout, of course). About 6 weeks in, the gradual decline leveled off. I kept up with what I was doing and after a week, my weight started going down again.
On Monday I was 130.4 pounds and beginning to realize that I couldn't remember the last time I saw 129 on any scale. At all the doctor's offices in the past several years it's been 130+ pounds (and all women know that those scales add pounds). During high school and college I didn't step on a scale much. I was excited to be on the cusp of breaking new ground. So on Tuesday I weighed... 130.0 pounds. I shook my head when I saw that number; I couldn't have gotten any closer to 129 pounds than what I did that morning. It was a sick joke played on me, so I laughed. I'd have to wait until tomorrow. Or in reality, yesterday.
I finally broke the 129 pound barrier (and was at 25.6% body fat as well). You'd think I was the guy that broke the 4 minute barrier for the one mile. I was absolutely thrilled, and made sure I woke up Jeff when I kissed him good-bye to tell him the good news.
I can definitely tell a difference in how I look. I'm not so soft around the middle anymore. My pants that used to fit tight in the thighs don't fit so tight anymore. In fact, I have one pair of pants that was a little on the loose side before I started, and now they practically fall off. I haven't taken my new body measurements since hitting this new mark, but will do so soon to compare with the measurements I took earlier. Jeff started noticing a change a few weeks ago and made sure to let me know that he noticed. Overall, I feel awesome. I think I'll keep this new body around for a while.
I think my ultimate goal would be to drop 10 more pounds to put me around 120. More importantly though, I want to continue bringing down my body fat percentage. Since muscle weighs more than fat, I may find that I can't get to 120 pounds, but if my body fat percentage is lower than it is today coupled with a lower weight, that's even better. I'll take it!
And it's official: I've transferred my registration over to the Delaware Diamondman Sprint from the Half Ironman. With the reality of my long term goal (Ironman) fading off into the distance, I reevaluated my short term goal (Half Ironman). As of last night, I was capable of:
- Swimming a mile pool workout (not a continuous mile, but a workout totaling a mile) - Biking for days (read: doing 56 miles with no trouble) - Running 5 miles continuously
And this was each event individually. Factor in the sequential nature of the events, and the picture looks very bleak for the run, which would probably turn into a walk. I feel defeated by no one else but myself. I'm defeated, disappointed, and depressed. I could play the what-if game, but it won't get my anywhere. It was my choice not to workout "today" because of "this excuse" or "that excuse". I shifted my workouts to the morning and that helped, but that's only been for the last month or so. And while I can point the finger at work for a couple of weeks, ultimately it was my daily decisions that led me down this path.
Jeff was my first advice-provider last night when I began the dialog of switching over. Kristin was my second advice-provider this morning. I waited to make the final decision until I talked to Kristin, although I had a feeling that she'd be on the same page as Jeff, which is usually the case. She told me that she was wondering when I would come to the realization that I wasn't going to make it. I already knew I had a problem in May. I told her that I appreciated the fact that she didn't say anything until I was ready to hear it.
So, my new race is a 0.6 mile swim, 17.5 mile bike, and a 2 mile run. The swim is longer than my Hagerstown race and is open water, and the run is a mile shorter; I couldn't ask for anything better. I tore through 800 yards in the pool this morning in 22.5 minutes, so I expect I'll be able to tack on the 250 yards that I need without too much issue. I'd like to try and find an Olympic distance Triathlon to finish off my season with, but I'm not going to push it.
A question came up yesterday as I was talking with someone about my Ironman plans - are you planning on working part time next year?
The question threw me for a loop at that moment (the answer was no), but later in the day it made me start thinking about the time commitment needed to do something like that. I will admit that my training plan has led me to a point that I think I'll finish the Half Ironman, but I won't be anywhere near competitive in my age group. Sure, I could have trained more, but realistically how much more? To the point that my training starts interfering with the really important things in my life like my marriage? Or to the point when my quality of life declines and I'm a miserable person? When is it too much?
It was just the other day that I calculated my estimated race time for the Half: 50 min + 3.75 hours + 60 mins = 5 hours, 35 minutes. Wow. Reality really sunk in then - that's a long time. And I want to double that time? Double the race time, double the training? Or triple the training?
The reason I got back into triathlons late last year was because I was successful with my century training plan. My bike skills and endurance were much better than 2005, and I knew I would do fine with swimming, so that left only one event that I needed to improve on greatly. Easier said than done. And since I always set my sights high, I looked all the way ahead to an Ironman as a goal, but put it two years out instead of just one since I knew one year would be tough.
Jeff came to the same conclusion that I did last night - focus on running a marathon first. I have done few foot races in my life (I think I total two 5Ks in all my life, excluding triathlons), and I'm not going to get any better if I have cycling and swimming (and life!) pulling at me all the time. Next season should be spent on improving my running skills. That doesn't mean I can't do any triathlons or centuries (the cross-training will be great for me). In fact, I don't think I could not do any triathlons next year.
So, I think it's time to put away the Ironman goal for now until some things change. I need to work closer than 45 minutes from work so I'm not wasting 1.5 - 2 hours everyday in the car; that time should be for training. And, I need to start out as a better runner than where I am now. So, I think it'll be a few years before I set my sights on an Ironman again.
I took off for a 5 mile run last Tuesday in some nice weather. I decided to run around the neighborhood to break up the treadmill workouts, and was happy I did. I finally found where my good training zones are:
up to 185 bpm - Comfortable, run "forever" feeling 186-189 bpm - No wheezing, but feeling stressed 190+ bpm - Wheezing and very uncomfortable
What I mean by wheezing is strained breathing. I've been tested for exercise-induced asthma and know that I don't have it, but I sound like a wheezing asthmatic when I push things too far. My endurance is a huge factor because as my endurance increases, my heart rate decreases, so I have less cases of wheezing.
As I get tired, I start to wheeze a few bpms earlier so I have to be more careful where I am in my zones as my run continues. I feel better knowing where I need to be so I can better judge if/when I need to walk to recover.
And for the record, I ran the five miles without stopping (except for one light).
I attending a nutrition discussion at Metro Run & Walk back in June. Rebecca Mohning works with many local athletes to make sure their nutrition is on-par before, during, and after their events. I figured it was a good way to get some free knowledge about what I should be eating and drinking while training and competing.
For the Hagerstown Sprint Triathlon I wasn't thinking much about nutrition. My main concern was my pre-race intake (which I messed up anyway) to make sure I got started off on the right foot. I had a bottle of Propel for the ride, and I popped down part of a Hammer Gel between the bike and run, drinking water on the run. I am much more concerned about my Half Ironman race coming up and for my long training sessions.
For my 40 mile, 3 hour ride last Saturday, my intake was: - 21 oz Berry Propel - 21 oz Lemon Propel
for a total of: - 42 oz water - 11.6g carbs (38 calories) - 116mg sodium - 0mg potassium - 0g protein
According to the papers from Rebecca, I should have had: - 54oz water at a minimum - 66g carbs per hour = 198g carbs (792 calories) - 300mg sodium per hour = 900mg sodium - 120mg potassium per liter - some protein for long training sessions
And I wonder why I had hunger pains towards the end... So, it's obvious that I am not feeding my body enough during long distance training rides. My stomach is very sensitive, so I think I've gotten into a rut of "well, this works so I'll stick to it" without taking some time to review what I'm doing. But now I'm reviewing.
When I was training for the century last year, I started using Perpetuem when my training mileage hit 50 miles or more. My stomach tolerated it just fine since the flavor was very mild. So, I have that to start figuring in since my next ride should be around 50 miles. That'll add the "some protein" needed for longer training sessions.
I can't mix my water any heavy than it is now. My stomach cramps at the thought of sickening sweet full strength Gatorade (I only drink the Frost line, or grab powder and mix it at half strength). So, I'll have to find a different way to get carbs using gels and the (awesome sounding) Clif SHOT Bloks. Since I love gummy bears, I think this is a viable consideration. Plus, it'll give me a distraction while I'm out riding around alone. I'm sure I can spend miles and miles trying to get the pieces of gummy out of my teeth while not using my fingers.
With the additional intake, I'll have to see what remains on the sodium front. I'm not a heavy sweater, so 300mg/hour should be plenty. If I'm still lacking, I'll have to take Endurolytes. And with all the upgrades, my potassium intake will be better, so I'll have to see if I'm still coming in low or if I'm good to go.
So in summary: - Increase water intake by carrying larger water bottles and/or CamelBak - Increase caloric intake by increasing nutrition (Clif SHOT Bloks) - Increase sodium intake by increasing nutrition; add Endurolytes if necessary - Increase potassium intake by increasing nutrition (Clif SHOT Bloks) - Continue to use Perpetuem on rides 50+ miles for protein
I don't remember now who thought of the idea, but it's definitely a good one and something I'll keep in mind. A triathlon relay is a bit like cheating - yes, you complete all the events, but it's with a fresh person for each leg. Although, it is a great way to get some exercise with your friends and have a good time too. Our team is shaping up something like this:
Maybe this will be something I pick to do at the beginning of next season - something to break the triathlon bubble early on (instead of waiting until the end of July like this season). That'll give Maria-Giulia plenty of time to break in her new feet, and for Kristin to continue working on her swimming (and hopefully biking too). Jeff can just go out and run forever, so he's ready to go anytime. How exciting! Having an all girl team would be awesome (sorry Jeff). I mean, how many times have you played soccer, softball, or some other team sport and not had enough women?
My swim workout on Friday was just over a mile (1 mile plus 90 yards). Yippie! My first pool mile! During this workout (as well as my last), I discovered that I finally have the elusive third speed - warm-up pace. I have always had two speeds, training and sprint, but it's the warm-up speed that I've been looking to gain. Now when I warm-up, I'm able to keep my HR low(ish) and relax as I swim. Four strokes per breath the entire way and when I finish, I feel warmed up and not tired. That feels awesome.
An epiphany I had on Friday was the relationship between my flutter kick intensity and my overall endurance in the pool. I discovered that I was likely kicking too hard for an endurance length swim (considered anything over 100m). With those larger muscles engaged, my HR is higher than it should be which is wearing me out quicker than I would like, especially if I expect to swim 1.2 miles in a month. Plus, over the past few workouts I was discovering that my arms weren't as tired as they had been in previous workouts, suggesting that I wasn't pulling enough with my arms (or conversely using my legs too much). With a conscience effort to pull more and kick less, my HR stayed down and my arms were more tired coming out of the pool.
Now all I need is a video camera to help tweek my technique...
I'm posting the article here for people (like me) who don't want to register on The NY Time's website.
By CHRISTIE ASCHWANDEN
Published: July 28, 2008
WHEN 60-year-old Donald Morehouse and 52-year-old John Hobgood Jr. died in different triathlon events last weekend, they became at least the seventh and eighth triathletes to die during competition this year. Those deaths came just one week after Esteban Neira, 32, died during the New York City Triathlon.
While this does not imply an epidemic — triathlon deaths remain rare — the deaths do share a puzzling resemblance: Like all of the triathlon deaths recorded by USA Triathlon at its sanctioned events in the last two years, they happened during the swim portion of the event, which also includes biking and running.
It is always striking when an athlete dies during an endurance competition, especially a young or well-conditioned athlete presumed to be at the peak of fitness. When Ryan Shay, a 28-year-old marathon champion, collapsed and died during the Olympic marathon trials last fall, even his closest friends and family were shocked. (Tests later determined his death was brought on by an irregular heartbeat that stemmed from an enlarged and scarred heart.)
But what makes the triathlon deaths more mysterious is that they all occurred during the first part of the race. Deaths during marathons tend to be more evenly distributed over the course of the 26.2 miles, with the largest grouping in the last mile, said Dr. William Roberts, a professor of family medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School and the medical director of the Twin Cities Marathon, who has studied marathon deaths in the United States.
The deaths of Mr. Morehouse (at the Spudman Triathlon in Burley, Idaho, an event not sanctioned by USA Triathlon) and Mr. Hobgood (at the New Jersey State Triathlon) are under investigation by medical authorities, as is Mr. Neira’s. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in triathlons over the last four years, and with just 23 deaths recorded by USA Triathlon since 2004 (not including last weekend’s deaths), the timing could be a statistical anomaly. But this much is clear: 18 of those 23 deaths occurred during the swim portion.
“There have been some striking similarities among recent fatalities,” said Kathy Matejka, the director of event services at USA Triathlon, which does not track the total number of triathlon participants. At least seven of those who died this year, she said, were men with “some measure of experience with the sport.”
Despite these similarities, a precise cause of death remains elusive in many cases. News reports suggest that at least three of this year’s deaths were linked to heart problems, but it is unclear whether those problems were primed to happen imminently or may not have happened until later without the race as a trigger.
No one knows for sure why deaths are more common during the swim portion of triathlons, but researchers have some intriguing theories. Public accounts of this year’s fatalities indicate that the athletes seemed outwardly healthy, and in some cases autopsies turned up no obvious cause of death, such as blocked arteries.
The combination of apparent good health and a negative autopsy suggests a fatality caused by abnormal heart rhythms, said Dr. Pamela Douglas, a Duke University cardiologist who has studied triathletes.
Evidence suggests that swimming may trigger a certain type of cardiac arrhythmia caused by a genetic condition called long QT syndrome, said Dr. Michael Ackerman, a cardiologist and the director of the Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. About 1 in 2,000 people are born with a heart condition that causes a glitch in the heart’s electrical system, and the most common of these is called long QT syndrome, after the tell-tale interval on an electrocardiogram.
The long QT heart recharges itself sluggishly between beats, and that delay sets up the potential for a skipped beat, Dr. Ackerman said. When the problem strikes, the heart’s electrical system can go haywire, degenerating into a potentially fatal arrhythmia.
Dr. Ackerman’s research team has identified several genetic forms of long QT syndrome, and one of those seems especially bothered by swimming, he said. He’s still not sure why, but sees one clue in a Japanese study several years ago that found that irregular heartbeats occur more commonly during swimming than during the same level of aerobic activity on land.
"It’s not that swimming is horrendously dangerous and running is not,” Dr. Ackerman said. “It’s really a perfect storm that needs to happen.”
“It requires a second hit,” he said, “something to irritate it, and we know that swimming is one of those triggers, but it’s not going to be the absolute trigger.” An expert could detect most cases of long QT syndrome on an electrocardiogram, he said.
Whether a race begins with a swim or a run, Dr. Douglas said, the adrenaline rush at the start could aggravate conditions like long QT syndrome, because adrenaline and its related hormones can make the heart more prone to arrhythmias. Physical exertion won’t create a heart problem where none existed, she said, but it can create problems for people with underlying cardiac disease.
Any medical problem in the water is more likely to turn fatal than one that arises during a bike ride or a run. “Water is not a forgiving environment,” Dr. Douglas said. “It’s really hard when you’re swimming to sit down and say ‘I’m going to take a breather.’ ” Sudden fainting remains the classic warning sign of an underlying arrhythmia problem. “If you faint while running a race and your heart snaps back into sync 10 or 30 seconds later, you wake up,” Dr. Ackerman said. “If it happens in the water, even if your heart regains rhythm 30 seconds later, now you’re underwater.”
Many triathletes point to the swim as a triathlon’s most stressful segment. Most swims take place in open, often cold, water with hundreds or thousands of other swimmers vying for position. “Nothing can prepare a newbie for the start,” said Russ Evenhuis, a triathlete in Olympia, Wash. “It can be like jumping into a washing machine. You will get swum over, kicked, hit and banged into.”
A triathlon’s open-water swim hardly resembles the pools where most triathletes train, said Neil Cook, a New York City based triathlete and coach. “There is no wall 25 yards away, you can’t see the bottom and the 50 to 150 people around you are more than you’ve probably swam with in total during your training,” he said. “Oh, and you are wearing this wetsuit that’s tighter than a girdle and you can’t breathe.” Raise your heart rate and blood pressure under those conditions, he said, and “any weakness you have will become apparent.”
Fabian Quesada, 42, of Brooklyn prepared for the New York City Triathlon by taking part in an open-water training session with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. “They have trained coaches who tell you what to expect,” he said.
Still, Mr. Quesada had a bout of anxiety his first time swimming in open water. “Even though the wetsuit keeps you buoyant, it’s very restrictive, and you panic because it’s tight,” he said. “You’re out in the open water where you can’t touch the ground. It can be an overwhelming experience.”
Triathlons normally hold meetings to brief participants on safety procedures, some of which are standard practice. For instance, “If you’re in the water and you have a problem, you’re supposed to stop and raise your hand,” said Dr. Doug Hiller, the chief medical officer for the International Triathlon Union, the sport’s worldwide governing body.
Ms. Matejka of USA Triathlon said her organization is committed to safety and will ask its experts to look for lessons in this year’s deaths, but as of yet, the group has no major changes planned.
“Speaking as a 20-plus-year triathlete, I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Andrew Hunt, the medical director for USA Triathlon.
“Do I think open-water swimming is inherently dangerous? No I don’t,” he said. Regarding the number of swim deaths, he said last week: “You can’t just look at the numerator, you have to look at the denominator — my guess is that that number is probably in the six figures. Six out of a hundred thousand isn’t that many.”
But no one really knows what the denominator is, because USA Triathlon does not keep records of how many people participate in its races. While the number of USA Triathlon members has risen from 53,254 in 2004 to 100,674 in 2007, those numbers don’t account for every person who races because nonmembers can buy a one-day license for individual events.
There’s no way to regulate away risk, Dr. Hunt said, and some triathletes say that’s part of the sport’s appeal.
“We want to push the limit of our comfort zone and experience life,” said Joe Bator, 37, of Boston, who has competed in triathlons for three years.
“Sure we want to minimize those risks,” he said. “But when it is time to race and put on that number, we need to be willing to push just a little bit more and get just a little bit more uncomfortable. If we don’t, we will never know what we are capable of achieving.”
As I was checking out CrossFit (something my boss had mentioned to me that friends of his were doing) the other day (07/31/08), I came across a link from The NY Times that discussed triathlon deaths. I was curious to see what it said, so I clicked and read on. Apparently 18 of the 23 deaths recorded (not including two recent deaths) by USAT since 2004 have occurred during the swim. These weren't inexperienced athletes, but people in good health with at least some experience doing a triathlon. There are theories as to what is happening, and they involve abnormal heart rhythms, a.k.a. cardiac arrhythmia. This got me a little nervous, so I read on.
An aside...Back in the summer of 2001 I started noticing that my heart felt like it was skipping a beat when I was at rest. It would take my breath away, so I would cough and my HR would return to normal. It went on for some time, then I decided it was time to see a doctor. After several tests, the cardiologist determined that I had an sinus arrhythmia and that it was nothing to worry about. I went on my way, and for six years I only had a few mild episodes, but this summer my symptoms returned with full force.
Last month I decided it was a good idea to get a physical amidst all this additional physical exercise I was getting. I mentioned it to my GP so he took an EKG. Everything looked fine except for the sinus arrhythmia that was evident. He requested I get the test result notes from my cardiologist so he could better understand the diagnosis, so I did (I was curious as well because I hadn't done much research when I was first diagnosed).
And back...Reading on in the article I learned that the likely arrhythmia causing these deaths is long QT syndrome. The heart is slow recharging itself which is a good setup for skipping a beat. There was a study performed in Japan that showed swimming causes more irregular heartbeats than the same level of aerobic activity on land. It won't cause problems where none exist, but the adrenalin and associated hormones can aggravate a heart with underlying cardiac dysfunction. And that was my cue to stop being nervous: adrenalin.
As I learned through later research, a sinus arrhythmia can be aggravated by the simple act of breathing. Generally these arrhythmias are benign and cause no issues except for the occasional episode of a skipped or sped up beat. My episodes occur when I'm sitting still - driving in the car, sitting in a meeting, watching television. I've never had an episode while working out, and since it is evident (from all previous tests) that I have no underlying structural problems with my heart that would cause other issues (yet, lets be reasonable), I'm good to go for a while. A Long QT heart is aggravated by exercise and adrenalin, a completely different situation. So while my heart may skip a beat or two while I'm vegetating, I have no worries while I'm pumping out 40 laps in the pool or 100 miles on the road.
Saturday night brought fitful sleep, but at 4:30a my alarm went off and I started prepping for the race. Mentally I was far from being ready; it made me nervous. I could have easily gone downstairs and folded laundry and not have missed racing that day. But, I got myself ready.
At 5:15a, I hit the road to Hagerstown. I wasn't able to find my bike computer, but since I had another one, I hoped that it would suffice. I didn't have my usual Basmati rice for the pre-event feed, so I grabbed very stale Ritz. The ride up was uneventful, and I hit the park around 5:45a, grabbing a prime parking spot right near check-in and the transition area. I checked-in, got my body markings, and grabbed my bike so I could pick out a rack spot. I took my time setting everything up at my transition area since the race meeting wasn't until 6:45a, and I knew I would be sitting around quite a bit after that.
The race meeting came and went, and I got all my questions answered. I was all set...to sit around. I was about 227 people into the swim, and figuring that I'm an average swimmer at an 8 minute swim time, I had 2.5 hours before I would hit the pool (turns out I was pretty close; I hit the pool around 2:20). The weather at 7a, when the first swimmers hit the pool, was great. At 9:30a, the sun was out and it was humid. Yuck.
Kristin and Jeff came out to support me, and I got to chat with them a bit before I got called over to stand in the swim line. It was awesome that they came out. The woman next to me in line was doing her first triathlon and had fear and nerves written all over her face. She was my lane buddy for the swim, and I told her to do the race at her pace - whatever made her comfortable. And then it was our turn. We jumped into the water and had about 20 seconds to get ready. The water took my breath away (they had had a hail storm the night before), but I quickly warmed up to it and was ready to go. 3, 2, 1, go! After lap 2 I lost count, and that wasn't the best thing. At lap 3 I was expecting the one-to-go notice, but didn't get it. And then at lap 4 I didn't get it. I felt like I was swimming forever. At lap 5 I got the call, and was greatful to be almost be done. The water in my right eye google was annoying me the whole swim. I probably pushed a little harder than I would have liked, but remembering back to my swim in 2005, this was much better. I got out of the pool and headed for the transition area. I finally started my watch since I had forgotten at the start of the swim. Oops!
Socks, shoes, gloves, sunglasses, helmet, kiss for Jeff, and go. It took about 10 minutes to be rid of the disorientation of the swim and transition and finally relax into the bike. I was very aware of the sun being out since there was little to no shade on the ride. I now wondered if I had enough liquid. Turn after turn, mile after mile. I was passed by four people, and passed four, so I had a net of zero on the ride. Woo hoo! I pushed the last quick mile into the park and was back where I started 11.5 miles before.
Switch shoes, gu and water, gloves off, helmet off, number on, off again. I'm beat. I make it out of the transition area and grab a few walking moments to gather myself. I skip the 0.8 mile water stop since no one is handing out anything and I felt fine. Walking a little more. I see some spectators, so I pick up the pace. Kristin and Jeff are there, and Jeff wants the kiss that he didn't get at the transition. We succeed in exchanging a smooch without bashing faces while I'm running and he's standing still. How cute! I run to the next water stop, grab some water, and walk until I'm finished with the drink. Then I'm running again, but walking up the hills. Walk through the next water stop at 2 miles; 1.1 miles to go. I'm now mostly running, but grabbing a few moments of walking when my breathing becomes very labored. I walk through the final water stop at 2.5 miles and set off to finish the race. I have to grab a few moments walking to catch my breath shortly thereafter, but with the cheering on by another runner, I gather myself and head for the finish.
I finish strong, but I'm really beat (duh!). I get my bottle of water and sip it. Kristin and Jeff meet me at the finish and I get a hug and a kiss from Jeff. I'm about ready to rip my shoes off my feet. I don't, but instead I gather everything from the transition area and start heading to the car for the ride home. I did it - my first race since 2005 and I finished. Yay!
Lessons learned: - Register early for this race - Analyze my nutrition more closely, especially for the pre-race meal and bike - No events the evening before (family thing this time); this should be prep time - Heat does terrible things to my run; adjust accordingly (as I did)
Once I get my swim split and rankings, I'll add them here.
Update (08/02/08): Well, between my cycling computer and the official splits, I have my times (they missed my bike end time which mucked up my bike time and T2 time). And here are the results:
Swim - 0:08:37 (300 m) T1 - 0:01:32 Bike - 0:40:22 (11.5 miles) T2 - 0:02:45 Run - 0:35:18 (3.1 miles) Total - 1:28:34.2 (10.02 mph)
My first race of the season is in 4 days, so I figured that it was about time I did a bike/run brick to (hopefully) build confidence. I planned a 10 mile out-and-back bike ride and a 3 mile out-and-back run before work to make logistics easy. At 4:30a my alarm went off and it was tough getting up (I usually get up at 5:30a). But I rolled out of bed and got on the road.
The bike went fine, and as it turns out there's a great 5 mile out turn-around, so that was perfect. I wore my triathlon suit to do a test ride/run (I wore this suit in 2005) since I was particularly concerned with the thin layer of padding in the shorts as compared to my usual well-padded parts. The first 100m or so was a little tough as I wasn't sure I was actually going to be able to sit on my saddle, but after that I was all warmed up and had no issue sitting comfortably.
The "transition" was quick, and I was running within 2 minutes of getting off the bike. My ride was flat and quick, just like Sunday's race, and my legs felt fine coming off the bike. The problem I had was with my heart rate being a little high. It was a little humid this morning so I was up a couple of beats, and at 190 bpm I found it hard to keeping running. After walking for around 2 minutes, my HR came down and I got back to running. At the halfway mark, I was feeling stressed again, so I walked another 2 minutes or so and felt much better, and was able to finish out the run.
Overall I felt that this was a successful brick (I finished it after all!). While I did have to walk twice, it helped me overall because I was able to run longer and more comfortably. The numbers broke down like this:
10 mile bike - 35:54.6 Transition - 1:41.3 ~3 mile run - 38:24.2
All your life you get harassed - if you have siblings, it's from a brother or sister; in school - a bully, or maybe the popular kids if you're not one; as a teenager - parents. But then you become an adult and the harassment goes away, right? Wrong.
My accomplishment today (I'll write about that later) has been forever tarnished by what happened while I was out on the trail. I was in the run portion of my bike/run brick, on my way in on an out-and-back. There are usually several Hispanic young men who I see riding their bikes on the trail when I'm out, and I always look straight ahead and keep on running (the benefit of cycling on the trail is that I'm going much faster so my interaction is very little). I usually get a creepy longing stare I see out of the corner of my eye or a quick "hello" from these particular guys. The iPod makes it easy to ignore any remarks, though the music is low or not playing so I do hear them. A quick aside...
Anytime I'm out alone cycling, but more so for running, I'm always keeping an eye on the situation around me. I'm a confident young woman and I project that when I'm out. I generally don't make eye contact (I need to research and see if this is a good thing to be doing) with others unless I get a friendly greeting, and sometimes not even then. I consider every person a possible attacker and that keeps me on edge with my brain always thinking about where I am and what I would do to get away. I don't care what color your skin is or your gender, you could be an attacker. Back to my story...
So one of these young guys rides by me. About 100m down the trail he twists around on his bike, still rolling forward. I figure he's going for another look at me (pig). He twists back around and keeps going. Little did I know that his buddy was slowing down to interact with me. It went something like this:
[Young man slows down on his bike, although I don't know this since he's coming up from behind. I don't have my iPod since I'm training as I'll run on Sunday]
YM: Hey baby, whatcha doing? W: (no answer, staring straight ahead) YM: Hey, whatcha doing? W: I'm out running, now keep on moving. (said with confidence) YM: (says something else) W: Keep on moving. (said with confidence)
The young man rolls away, albeit slowly; I think I'm in the clear, but I've already noticed that I don't see anyone on the trail in front of me and I'm not in a residential section of the trail. About 25 m down the trail I see him pull out his cell phone. I now think he's calling his buddies to intercept me further down the trail and I don't have my cell phone on me. I'm in serious trouble. After his call he turns back around and starts heading in my direction. Great.
YM: Hey honey. W: (no answer) YM: Hey honey. I know you. W: (no answer)
He rolls on away from me and I don't look back. Shortly after the interaction I hit a residential section of the trail. Do I bail? No, there are people on the trail in front of me. I'm not counting on them to help me; just to deter an attach. So I keep going. I take the opportunity to look back and he's not there; nor is anyone else. I hit the next residential area; people on the trail ahead so I keep going. Each step felt like an eternity, and I was ever so glad to be back at my car. I relaxed and buried my face in my towel and had a good cry for a few minutes.
I took self-defense from a couple of Kung Fu instructors several years back, then went to their studio and continued my study. So, I'm trained in how to defend myself without the aid of anything, but with this being my first real interaction with a harasser/possible attacker, it really unnerved me. I maybe would have pretended to dial someone when I was first approached, and maybe gone to 911 after I saw him talk on his phone, but an attack occurs within seconds so maybe having my cell phone would have been mute. I feel like my confidence helped me out, but I am still a little shaken up. Why can't I be a 6'2" white male?
One of the most recent health scares has been bisphenol A (BPA). I'm not the type of person to jump on the out-of-my-mind-with-fear bandwagon and do whatever I hear is the best way to save myself, so I've been considering the sources and doing some of my own research to determine how I feel about the situation.
Anytime I look up research on the internet, I consider who funded the study or who is making the statements to determine their validity and where their opinion may be skewed. For example, take this website:
They state that "Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the most extensively tested materials in use today. BPA has been safely used in consumer products and researched and studied for over 40 years." They site research that supports their claims. But go look at the media contact: American Chemistry Council. Hmmm. Would you expect them to say anything other than that BPA is safe? I think not.
I consider the NIH a pretty good source of good information. It is the government after all, so maybe there should be some skepticism because of that fact (there were government and non-government scientists on the panel). But, I'll stick with them to find out the truth with BPA. The panel summary says that for adults, there is "negligible concern for adverse reproductive effects following exposures in the general population to bisphenol A" and "for highly exposed subgroups, such as occupationally exposed populations, the level of concern is elevated to minimal". There's more to it than just that as the review of the Board's findings as well as public comments suggested that the type of lab research may not be enough to produce the real story and that the danger maybe be higher than the Board suggested, but it gives you an approximate level of concern.
So what am I going to do with my collection of Nalgene bottles? I'm not going to relegate them all to the trash today. The older ones, which I have read are more prone to leaching BPA, will probably hit the trash in the near future. I've also read that exposing the bottles to high tempertures (either by placing in the dishwasher or putting hot liquids in the them) increases leaching. Since most (or maybe all) of my bottles fit in one or both of those categories (and hence why I did the research), I'll slowly replace my collection with BPA-free bottles. Nalgene makes a new line of bottles made with the Eastman Tritan Copolyester, a BPA-free material, so I'll consider going down that road. I like the weight of PC as well as the durability, both of which you may not get in metal (but be careful of the type of metal) or glass bottles.
But what will they find wrong with Tritan in 10 years time (a question from Jeff, the eternal realist)?
Even though I'm in the middle of training this year, I need to start looking ahead to next year because registration is starting to open (and close!) for some of the larger events. Many of my triathlon club buddies are competing in races this year, and based on their race reports, I'm going to look into those same races for 2009. So, I'll use this post to track what others have done, and the races I have found, and tally a watch list.
SPRINT 05/04/08 - New Jersey Devilman (Cumberland County, NJ) 0.45 mi/23.5 mi/4 mi 05/18/08 - Little Pepper (Culpeper, VA) 06/01/08 - Cascade Lake (Hampstead, MD) 0.31 mi/15 mi/3.1 mi 06/17/08 - Tri-to-Win (Westminster,MD) 06/29/08 - Ladies Y-Tri (York, PA) 08/03/08 - Patriot's Triathlon (Bath, PA) 650m (0.4 mi)/15 mi/3 mi 08/17/08 - Lums Pond (Bear, DE) 0.5 mi/19.5 mi/3 mi 09/07/08 - Delaware Diamond Triathlon (Bear, DE) 0.6 mi/17.5 mi/2 mi 09/14/08 - Marshman (Downington, PA) 0.25 mi/12.5 mi/2 mi 09/28/08 - Cape Henlopen (Lewes, DE) 0.25 mi/14 mi/3.1 mi 10/12/08 - Brierman (Boonsboro,MD) 0.45 mi/21 mi/4.9 mi
OLYMPIC 05/18/08 - Columbia (Columbia, MD) Olympic 06/28/08 - Escape from Fort Delaware (Delaware City, DE) 1500m/40k/10k 06/29/08 - General Smallwood (Indianhead, MD) 1500m/40k/10k 07/12/08 - Diamond in the Rough (Perryville, MD) 1 mi/27 mi/5 mi Current and light chop/wind waves, nasty mile 22 hill, flat run 06/29/08 - Spirit of Morgantown (Morgantown, WV) 1500m/40k/6.55 mi 07/20/08 - Suzuki Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA) 1500m/40k/10k
HALF LITE 08/03/08 - Patriot's Triathlon (Bath, PA) 1300m (0.81 mi)/41 mi/7.6 mi 10/12/08 - Brierman (Boonsboro,MD) 0.85 mi/40 mi/9.3 mi
The clouds have opened up again. Last week I spent two days away from the office (read: away from the gym) in software training, then five days working on the house in preparation for a special event on the 12th. Jeff and I ran on the 1st so it wasn't totally a dry week. Then this week I've been super busy (read: not getting enough sleep) with special event preparations because I'm getting on a plane in a few hours and heading across the country until Friday early-evening. This trip for work could not have come at a worse time. I'm spending more time in airports and on a plane then I will at the actual meeting. Ugg. Then with the event on Saturday and having to work on Sunday, I won't be riding this weekend. I'll probably get a day off later in the week next week, but I'm not sure that I want to be in the high-traffic areas of my ride on a weekday. I'll have to put on my cojones if I do, or shorten/change the route if I don't.
Sometimes life just really irritates me, but at least I'm living it. At least this will only be a two week dry spell; I have a race on the 27th and I don't want to perform at it like I did in the 5K.
Kristin sent me a link a few weeks back about someone else who strives to be different. Her name is Roz Savage and rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean wasn't good enough for her, so she decided to row solo across the Pacific Ocean, which is what she's up to right now. You can read all about her adventures here. She decided that her day-to-day life wasn't what she wanted it to be, so she left it all behind and set sail.
I'm not sure how my century ride measures up to what Roz is doing, but I suppose it's a start. It's not only a physical journey, but psychological and emotional as well. When I stood at the start line last year, I had a moment of trepidation as I knew 100 miles lay in front of me with unknown consequences and rewards. One mile at a time I rolled along and several hours later I shed a tear as I completed my first century. I currently have my next "crazy" goal of completing an Ironman. But what after that? I heard raising kids is pretty insane. ;O) Maybe another century or four, or maybe a double century? Many people complete a century, but fewer ride a double. May the Death Valley double. Yikes! Put me in a straight jacket and save me from myself!
I chatted with Kristin after she sent me that link, and we decided that we would be each others right-hand woman for something crazy. It's much more fun to share something insane with someone else, and Kristin is the best person for me. We're loosely thinking of riding across the United States on our bikes. We'll have to have a purpose - something to raise money for and make people aware of. We'll need a SAG wagon, and we'll have to meet as many people along the way as we can. There will be a website for blogging and tracking our journey. Plus plenty of other logistical things that I haven't even begun to considered. It's a thought somewhere on the back burner. Kristin needs to get healthy, and we'll need to be sick of our jobs. In due time.
I began to wonder, with all the working out I was doing (or at least imagined I was doing), why I was seeing little change in my body other than a few extra muscle lines. Kristin recommended a program for my Dell Axim X50v, so I thought I would give it a try. It's the VidaOne MyPersonalDiet software (I also purchased the VidaOne Diet and Fitness for my laptop so I could sync everything in case I lost one of my systems). It's all right, but I've noticed a few bugs. I think I'll keep a running list here, and then send them all to Tech Support at some point down the line. Feel free to skip that section since it's probably boring until you have the program.
For the overall picture, I have entered a diet goal to be 7.2 pounds lighter than my weight on 06/23/08 (137.2 lb) for race day, 09/07/08. I figured it's something simple to shoot for. I'm already OCD enough with weighing out my foods and tracking what I can; I don't need something else like losing lots of weight to drive me to insanity. What I found after tracking myself for a few days is that I'm eating enough to sustain, not to lose weight. So, I need ease up on the food a bit, and exercise more. More of the exercising more thing than the eating less thing.
Bugs: (1) If I enter 8.4 or 8.9 into the Total Carbs category, it turns into 8.400001 and 8.900001, respectively. If I enter 9.4 into the Calcium category, it turns into 9.400001. (2) After entering a diet goal, I had a message that said "Congratulations, you have gained 0.2 lb and are on track with your diet...". My goal was to lose weight so this is definitely NOT what I was looking to be congratulated on. (3) When starting on Jun 28, 2008 on the Health Record screen and using the right blue arrow, I jumped to Saturday Feb 06, 2106 then Thursday Jan 01, 1970 then Monday Jun 23, 2008. This is a result of having a Health record entered on 02/06/2106 (not me!) and no Health record on 01/01/1970. There were no Health records entered after 06/28/08 at this point, and there had been a syncing error recently (see 4) (4) Currently I can't sync the Health records between my computer and handheld due to a database issue and runtime error. I reported this to Tech Support 07/04/08. (5) When I choose to display my body fat "From state of diet", "Past 30 days (by week)", "Past 3 months (by week)", "Past 6 months (by week)", or "Last month" it says -1.8%, but the graph points show an increasing slope. (6) When adding a food and adding the nutrients, if I choose to edit Calcium (at the bottom of the scroll bar), the bar that shows which nutrient I'm editing will jump down to Iron and remain there until I enter the number I want and choose another nutrient, at which point the bar will jump back up to Calcium. The number gets entered correctly, but the jumping bar is an issue. (7) If I scroll too fast across the screen, the display gets jumbled (words mashed together). I have to exit and reenter that screen to correct the issue. (8) Looking at a graph of my Calorie intake from 07/04/08: "The goal is to lose 332 cal and you lost 306. The goal is met at this moment." Eh, not really. What is the tolerance on the number of calories? Apparently at least 16.
Annoyances: (1) I saw a diet result saying "You have gained 0.0 lb since you started your diet...". I neither gained nor lost weight, so this message should read differently. (2) There is no way to browse the foods in the library without adding a meal or editing one already entered. (3) You can't change the time of an entry after it's entered. If you goof on the A/P character, this means you have to delete the whole entry and start over. (4) There is no way to delete the foods that came with the program. Chances are that I'm not going to eat many of these so I'd like to make the food list as short as possible (consider giving the user the option to import these foods or starting clean). (5) I can only track: Calories, Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Potassium, Carbohydrates, Protein, Calcium, Iron, and Phosphorus; what about all the other vitamins and minerals out there? (6) The diet results are summarized, but they don't always say over what interval ("On average..." over what period?). I'd like to see these explicitly written out. (7) After choosing a date and time for a meal, if you go back to edit the meal, you cannot edit those fields. Thankfully I've only done it a few times, but it's annoy to have to delete a meal because it was at 12:30A instead of 12:30P. (8) The serving sizes include conversions into ounces which don't always apply. For example, 1 cup IS 8 fl oz, but a cup of lettuce is NOT 8 oz. This is an issue when nutrients are entered, specifically fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and the resulting calorie count is heavier than the ounces of the serving. The program MAKES you change something, which means that the serving size isn't necessarily what you want it to be. (9) I'd like the option of the serving size to be # "something"; 1 roll, 1 slice, etc. I've been reduced to using 1 ounce (of 1 cup, 1 liter), then including in the notes that 1 ounce/cup/liter = 1 piece of sushi, for example.
Running outside is much better than in the gym. Well, for the most part; in the gym I don't get whistled at, but that's what my iPod is for. Jeff has been doing some running in recent weeks to help out with his soccer endurance, and he's asked me if I wanted to go. Knowing that my recent running has been lackluster, I've told him to go without me.
On June 27th I went out for a run. Again, it was the hottest day of the week like my June 10th run. I was trying to think more positively, so instead of "I'm not a runner" it was "I can do this". I was able to sustain 2 miles, followed by 0.5 miles of walking to relieve cramps, followed by another mile of running. It wasn't much compared to where I need to be, but it was something and it ignited my belief that yes, I can do this. The next day I hit the road for a 28.5 mile ride, and boy was I hurting that night from those two workouts. It was a good hurt though.
On Tuesday Jeff asked me if I wanted to hit the road with him. With my recent success, I said "sure" and that I wanted to do a 5K. He planned out a route and off we went. Mile 1 came and went. At mile 2 I was feeling my "mile 2 cramps" although less severe than before, and I was able to run through those. We had the option of taking a street near the house, or one a block over; I opted for a block over because I didn't want the temptation to turn home. Mile 2.5 came and went and the end was in sight. Neither of us could remember if the route had been 3.1 miles (we were guessing 3.03 miles), so we turned towards the house and ran past it (oh the pain!) to the end of our block. And 3.16 miles were in the books.
After getting home at midnight Friday night, I decided that hitting the road Saturday morning wasn't in the cards, so I moved my ride to Sunday morning. Sunday morning started like every other ride prep with waking up early (5:00a this time), and spending an hour getting gear, drink and food together. I hit the road at 6:00a with a 22.4 mile route planned out.
This was my first ride since Bike to Work Day on May 16th. That trip was a 22 mile round trip, so I didn't think matching that mileage would be a problem. What I didn't realize was how "not a problem" it was going to be.
My first test on this route was at 4.5 mile hill, aptly named because this is a very common route out to the Frederick countryside, and it hits me right about 4.5 miles into the ride. I knew this hill needed a name since it and I have quite the history. When I first started riding last year, I would end up with my heart rate pounding at 200+ bpm at the top. After learning how to properly climb hills, I was able to keep my HR under 200, and based on my fitness level, it continued to drop. Sundays result? 187 bpm and feeling like a champ. I didn't have my heart rate monitor when I rode this hill the week before BTWD, but I know I didn't feel as good as I did yesterday.
As I continued on, I found myself laughing, talking to myself (which then caused me to laugh more, mostly at myself), whistling, playing games with the squirrels in the road, and generally having a grand ol' time. I'm still astonished at how relaxed and mentally calm I was. I hope this is something that stays with me. This was a great time for this kind of thing to happen because I've been on the fence recently about whether or not I would make it to race day. With my swimming and cycling strong, I just need to push harder on running and I'll be golden. Easier said than done. But my cycling is strong.
I decided after my unproductive treadmill run last week that my biggest issue now was running on a treadmill. There are things inherently wrong with running on a treadmill such as lack of air flow, the surface, and the monotony (not to say that running isn't monotonous, in my opinion). It seems I can't move beyond a 30 minute treadmill workout, so I decided it was time to hit the paved W&OD trail behind work.
I decided on Wednesday that I would run before work since it had been so toasty lately. Well, even at 6:30/7:00a, the dew point was elevated, it was humid, and it was hot and sunny. I did a 3 mile out-and-back, and the first half was brutal. I was working through a cramp that started at my clavicle and stretched down to my lower ribs on the right side. This made me begin to doubt why I had thought I could be a runner and that I should stick to cycling and not this fancy triathlon stuff. On the way back things felt better, and I let all the bad thoughts fall onto the trail. There was a lot of walking overall, but considering the weather, I let it go.
Hopefully getting out of the gym will help me extend my runs (or rather, walk/runs) and build up my endurance. I'm tired of hammering myself for not being able to run 3 miles straight, but if I start walk/running 4 or 5 miles, those first 3 miles should become easier. Here's to hoping.
So I finally remembered to grab my HRM watch and figure out my 100 yd and 450 yd times this morning. I'm looking at:
100 yd (not fresh, after the 450 yd swim) - 2:11 450 yd (projected from 100 yd time) - 9:50 450 yd (fresh, actual) - 10:31
Comparing my sprint triathlon time to today's 450 yard time, I see:
Sprint Tri - 33.3 m/min (36.5 yd/min) Pool Workout - 39.1 m/min (42.8 yd/min)
If I used my 100 yd time, I would have 41.9 m/min and 45.8 yd/min, but that's more indicative of a sprint rather than a longer endurance swim which is why I went with the 450 yd time.
Nonetheless, what I see is that I'm faster than my triathlon time. I don't remember doing any swim workouts at that distance before the triathlon and I was nervous and excited and all those race-day emotions so I was a hair panicked in the pool. A small victory.
Today is May 28th. My goal race is September 7th - 14 weeks, 4 days away. I'm beginning to have doubts that I'm going to make it. Take a training plan, insert life, and you end up with a haphazard arrangement of workouts that create some improvement in distance/efficiency/endurance/strength, but not enough to make it to race day.
At what point do I admit defeat? Do I throw in the towel now and find another race? Do I hold on to what hope I have and continue to train, only to break down in tears the night before the race when I'm in the arms of defeat? I can't tell yet. I need to look at my training plan and see where I am, then make projections of where I'll be nearing the race. The golden rule is no more than a 10% increase in distance/intensity/speed in a week. If I can't make the necessary distances by race day staying within that rule, I think I'm done.
The one glaring problem with my training plan is not training for intermediate goals. As I heard on the radio, setting general goals sets one up for failure; setting specific goals allows one to measure progress against a tangible effort. Back in November I said I would do this race, but didn't pick any intermediate races to allow me to gauge my progress. Sure, I had the 5k, but that was just after "life" got in the way and I performed poorly. What if it had been a few weeks earlier, or later? I've added the Hagerstown sprint triathlon to my race schedule, but that's a sprint towards the end of July; I should be doing sprints now and Olympic distances then.
Is it too much too late? Have I learned my lesson too late this season to make a full recovery?
The only triathlon I've completed was the South Carroll Swim Club triathlon held Father's Day weekend in 2005 (June 19th). It was a 400m outdoor pool swim, a 14 mile ride through the hills of Mount Airy/Westminster, and a 5k out-and-back run. While they didn't calculate the splits, I think I have my numbers pretty close to right, and they looked something like this:
0:12 Swim (33 m/min) 0:04 T1 0:57 Bike (14.7 mi/hr) 0:05 T2 0:36 Run (12:00 mi pace)
For a grand total of 1:54 (1:53:55 chip time), 9.14 mph. This put me 7/8 in my age group (20 - 24) and 218/243 overall. Considering I was under trained for this event, I was hoping only to not come in last. I did even better though - I pretty much hit my marks for biking and running, with my swim time about 2 minutes slow. The event is now closed for this year, but I really wasn't looking forward to riding the big hill again, although with my triple on my road bike I may have actually done all right. Maybe next year.
I meant to write this entry two weeks ago but I didn't make the time to type it out. So here it is, two weeks late.
May 16th was the annual Bike to Work day. I participated in 2005 and 2007, so it was no surprise that I registered for it this year. Typically that ride has been my first of the season, for whatever season I was participating in that year (rock climbing, completing a century, doing a triathlon). Flash back now to October 6th, 2007.
I completed my first century that day. I told myself that I would take one month off to let everything heal, then it was back on the bike (and probably on the trainer) for the winter. Well, flash forward to May 10th. That day was my first bike ride since the century. All winter long I said "I'll pull out the trainer and ride today" or "It's a nice day, I'll ride outside today". A proverb comes to mind: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." I had good intentions of riding during the winter, but alas my butt didn't hit the seat until the spring.
During the May 10th and 16th rides, I felt pretty good, unlike previous years where my first ride wiped me out. I kept at least some of my conditioning it seems, or else the gym time over the winter, helped me out. Whatever the reason, I'm in okay bike shape.
Saturday morning brought a not-so-sick feeling and hopes for the race that night (Frederick Twilight 5K). I decided about mid-afternoon that I felt good enough to compete, so Jeff and I made our preparations for the 7p race and headed over there with time to pick up our packets, chips, and shirts and get to the start line.
It's funny the differences in our race preps. Considering this is Jeff's first organized race in a while, and he is hardly the believer in a structured sequence of events to prepare oneself for the best possible race (in due time), I'm not really surprised. His prep: nap until 6:00p (when I woke him up), eat a bowl of granola with 2% milk, chow down a whole wheat bagel and lite cream cheese during the 10 minute trip to the fairgrounds, race. My prep: small bowl of basmati rice with a small pat of butter at 6:00p, race. I have a very sensitive stomach and if I eat something with too much flavor, I hear about it. Jeff, on the other hand, appears to have an iron stomach because he suffered no gastrointestinal distress from his heavy, diary-containing meal. If he gets serious about training, I'm not sure how long he'll be able to keep up his rebel eating style. I suppose this may be a case of trying to help out before he finds out the hard way, but if he doesn't listen, helping him out after he's prayed to the porcelain gods (or to the neighbor's mailbox). Who knows - he may even surprise me and be able to keep this up.
Jeff stayed with me the entire race. Well, not really a race for me, more like a survival. We finished with exactly the same time (aww, how cute). Some how I ended up below him in the rankings, though... ;O) Alphabetical, maybe? Anyway, it all broke down like this:
Weather: Hazy, 69ºF, wind N 6mph
Chip Time --> 34:52.75 Total Pace --> 11:15/mile Overall Place --> 447/637 Gender Place --> 217/359 Division Place --> 37/58
Half Rank --> 423 Half Time --> 18:21 Half Pace --> 11:50/mile
Finish Rank --> 481 Finish Time --> 35:20 Finish Pace --> 11:15/mile
I'm not sure what the finish rank is reflecting since it doesn't match my overall place. I know the finish time is gun time and my finish pace matches my total pace. I'm not really worried though; I understand what everything else means, especially the NEGATIVE split. I ran an 18:21 then a 16:32; a -1:49 split. Jeff and I picked it up towards the end, but I don't think it had that much of an impact. Looking at my watch, this is how my race went:
10:23 run 2:00 walk 6:24 run 4:02 walk 2:57 run 4:09 walk 5:11 run
I walked following the half-way point (also a water stop), so the 4:02 walk is about the start of the second half. I marked time from my first running step (after the gun but before the chip pad) so my final time of 35:06 is between my finish time and gun time. I just about split walking and running in the second half, and ran about half as much as the first half, so what the heck was I doing in the first half?? I doesn't make sense, but it all adds up. Trim off the extra 0:13 (difference of watch and chip time) from the first run portion, and I'm still questioning my watch-operating skills, even though I know I'm within a few seconds of when I started running or walking. I'll have to check this out more closely at home tonight.
So there's my new PR for the season. It's a bit of a cheat since it's my first 5K in ages, but a PR is a PR. I'll take it - another first.
I'm not sure that I'll be running in the Frederick Twilight 5K this Saturday evening. For the past three weeks I've been working 12 hour 12a - 12p night shifts, which with a 45 minute commute and needing to eat something right after leaving work adds up to no time to workout. So, I haven't worked out in three weeks. That didn't bother me as much as what started up on April 29th - a cold.
I felt the gunk materialize in my throat as I drove home after eating "dinner" on the 29th. When I woke up for my Wednesday overnight shift, I was a goner - my throat was rough and my nose had taken off for a long run that the rest of my body wasn't invited to. I survived my shift, but was severely congested, had treated a sinus headache, and my neck was very sore. I made it home fine, and after filling my tummy with food, I passed out.
I've moved mostly past the runny nose stage and am now in the coughing stage. The crap in my throat is starting to loosen up, which is good. I mowed the lawn yesterday, a 20 minute affair, and my lungs were burning when I was finished. Not good.
I've never had a cold "attack" my neck musculature like this one. I'm typing one-handed because my other hand is holding a heating pad around my neck. Depending upon what I've been doing, my whole neck could be mildly sore, or part of it could be severely sore. I'm suffering the latter since I slept on one side last night. I had to get up because my coughing and sneezing was starting up and I didn't want to wake up Jeff. At least it was later than the 2a that I got up yesterday.
I'm trying to hold onto a little hope that I'll be able to run Saturday night, but I'm also trying to be reasonable. I need a small miracle to overcome this perfect storm that is spinning around me.
Yes, I'm missing a meal. I'm in the middle of changing my sleep schedule over, and wasn't hungry for dinner after a big lunch, so I didn't eat. Sometimes this happens (the not hungry for dinner part), so I was curious to see what the totals would be. Drum roll...
1469 calories 49.7 g fat 171.2 g carbohydrates 47.1 g protein
My fat intake just about hit the goal amount, but is probably estimated high due to the nature of splitting something with someone else. I don't believe I got as much of the tzatziki sauce as would normally be present on half a gyro, but it's a decent estimate. So, this day was high in fat, and low in everything else. I needed to pump some pasta and lean meat into myself.
I think this'll be the last food record entry for a while. I'll continue to record what I'm eating and drinking, but until I change my workout intensity/amount, notice something interesting about my diet, or drop a significant amount of weight (not planning on it), I'll keep my numbers to myself.
- Biscuit and Sausage Gravy, Scrambled Eggs and Cheese, Bacon - Tums (breakfast didn't sit well) - Ham and Cheese Sandwich - Diet Coke and Chips Ahoy Thin Chips - 3 Maki, 2 pieces Salmon Nigiri, Hand Roll, Green Tea
And the totals?
1706 calories 72.8 g fat 174.8 g carbohydrates 84.2 g protein
My carbohydrate intake is worse this day. I ate a lot less carbohydrates at breakfast and it seems I put myself into a deficit I couldn't get out of, even with sushi for dinner (I had 62.5% of my carbs at dinner). My fat intake is about 20 g over (I had 53.5% of my fat at breakfast). My protein intake is 8 g over, which I think is acceptable. Learning from this, I should have left off the cheese and/or bacon (dropping the fat about 8 g and the protein 6 g for each) and picked up some fruit. Doing so may also have helped with the heartburn I experienced after breakfast.