Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hitting the Trails

Last week was all about work, a little bike test, and trails.

I must confess, I still haven't figured out how to get in all of my workouts with work.   I know though, that if I don't get my workout first thing, I'm unlikely to get it in after work, particularly if it is a tough one.  Case in point, last week's power test.  Originally on my schedule for last Friday, I postponed it because of my gluten incident.   On Tuesday, it was on my schedule again.  When the alarm went off at 5:30 am Tuesday morning, I hit snooze and thought, I'll just do it in the evening after work.  Work is work though, and so at 6:30 pm, when I was leaving the office, and still had about 2 more hours of work on my plate for the evening, I skipped my power test and workouts and opted for some dinner, some more work and bed.   The result, 2 workouts missed on Tuesday.   I'm still learning, but on key workout days, mornings are a must if I'm going to meet one of my key training goals for the year - to be consistent.

As for the power test, I did get it in on Thursday morning.  Kate joined me on her trainer for some extra motivation (she was doing her test too) and we cranked out our 20 minute TTs.  I hope the saying is correct that you have to get a little out of shape during the off season, because I've certainly done so.  My power levels were, to say the least, disappointing.  Threshold power was down 11 watts lower than my already fairly weakling levels.  So. . . definitely room for improvement.  

Now, for the fun part.  Trails.   I really love trail running.  While training for IMLP, Bart and I spent a lot of time running in Pocohontas State Park on the fire roads.  During those runs, I loved the peace and beauty of the park and what felt like a communion with me and my goals, triathlon and otherwise.  I haven't run much on the trails this year and last Saturday's run with the gals reminded me how much I love it.   Trail running is a complete escape for me.  I don't think about running or even my pace.  Instead, I'm concentrating on the path before me and learning how to push myself based on feel, not necessarily a number on my Garmin.  Saturday, some regular billy goats took some of us relative trail newbies on a tour of Belle Isle and Buttermilk trail.  I've run these trails before but got to learn a new trail, appropriately named "the lost trail" on Belle Isle.  The weather was the start of a perfect Indian summer day and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face at the end of the run.  More trail running, and perhaps even a few trail races are in my future.   My billy goat friends have me thinking hard about the Swinging Bridge 35K Trail Race in January.

As much as I loved the trails on Saturday, I dreaded them on Sunday.  Somehow, after our trail run, I let myself get talked into mountain biking on Sunday with the crew.  Shawn took pity on me (under a total excuse that she "needed" me to ride with her so she wouldn't have to ride alone) and the two of us took off on the "easy" single track while the others headed for the harder trails.  As much as I hate to admit it, it wasn't as bad as I envisioned.  I still managed to fall a few times and have a few bruises and scrapes to show.  And yes, mountain biking is still way out of my comfort zone.  I still have trouble with my pedals (this time getting in them, not out), and I still hate to go fast down hills, particularly when there are roots or I have to negotiate between hills.  But, I did manage to find a smile or two during the day and thanks to Shawn's patience, got to build a bit more confidence.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Fresh Start

Today marks two weeks in the bank with my new coach.  While a little startling to my body, since it had previously been in hibernation and R&R mode, I definitely missed training and that feeling of "good tired" after a workout.

My workouts have been a LOT different from what I'm used to BUT I love it.  In the two weeks, other than perhaps going to Masters, no two things on my Training Peaks schedule have been the same.  Did I mention that I LOVE the variety?  Needless to say, I'm trying lots of new things, new crazy run drills, new cycling workouts (big gears and standing), yes. . . the MTB, LOTS of strength focused workouts and my favorite new thing, the TRX.

STRENGTH is a big focus of my winter workouts.  Strength training is usually something that I skip and have not traditionally focused on in the past.  As a result, I also think it has been one of my limiters in triathlon racing and performance, particularly on hillier courses and has made me more injury prone.  SO STRENGTH is no longer a CAN SKIP workout but instead is a MUST.  TRX training under the direction of my good friend SanDee and accompanied by my training buddy KATE is making it even more enjoyable.  I am fortunate that our basement space has allowed us to hang 2 TRX's next to our "cycling room" so that both of us can train at the same time.  AND, I am even more fortunate that SanDee is willing to come torture us once a week bright and early in the morning.

Other than keeping up with training, work has been keeping me PLENTY busy with a few day trips here and there to Virginia Beach, Chicago and this week Raleigh.  One of my goals this year is to do improve fitting my workouts in with work.  Consequently, I'm getting used to early morning workouts and even the occasional lunchtime run around Belle Island.

And finally, my food notes for the post.  I've started using a new protein shake made by Vega - the Whole Food Optimizer.  LOTS of yummy plant based protein and other cleansing things.  While I had some "cleansing symptoms" of the worst kind associated with my first two uses of it (and particularly the ChlorEssence in it), my body is now acclimated to it.   One half serving (one scoop) is only 120 calories,  3 g fat and 13 g of protein.

Lastly, after an incident last Thursday night eating out, I have confirmed that I absolutely CAN NOT have ANY gluten in my diet.  Will post more about "The Incident" later.

So. . . here's to a fresh start and new things.  Try something different out this week.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick or Treat

I spent the last weekend of my training hiatus in Philly with Bart, Lulu and Mav visiting my sister and her family for Halloween.  My weekend was mostly filled with treats.

I had a blast hanging out with my nieces, Kate and Emily and seeing them all worked up for Halloween.  Kate, with her recently pierced ears, dressed as a cowgirl.  Emily's costume was an adorable pink and white horse.  Saturday morning, Kristen and I dropped Emmie off at ballet and enjoyed a quiet hour of conversation at the local coffee shop.  When we got back home, we played with Emmie's pop bead jewelry set that I had gotten for her for her birthday and then carved pumpkins.  (Kate and mine was the best I think).  Bart and John came back from the farmer's market with a treat for me - two loaves of freshly made gluten free bread (which I needed since I had left my homemade pumpkin bread sitting on the counter in Richmond).

Bart and I then headed off to "downtown" Bryn Mawr by foot - a short run there, a tour of the local bike, tennis and running stores and then a short run back made a bit more awkward by our purchases.   Saturday night we met a bunch of Kristen and John's friends and had a blast at their club playing paddle outside in the crisp fall air and getting to know their friends at the party that Kristen had organized just for us!  Of course, we stayed up way to late, drank a bit of vino and ate too many goodies.

Sunday morning brought beautiful weather.  John, all four dogs and I walked through the Bryn Mawr campus and then let the dogs romp around a bit more back at home.  Then we all headed to their club for the annual Halloween party -- complete with costume contests for the kids, a DJ, kids oriented food, a haunted house and hayride.  

Post party, we loaded up the car and headed home.  The dogs slept the whole time, wiped out in the backseat from all of the playtime with their dog cousins.   And, we made fairly good time getting back.  About 20 minutes out, we called for the last treat of the weekend - pizza from Stuzzi.  Stuzzi has become our favorite pizza place due to the fact that they make yummy personal sized gluten free pizza.  When we arrived, however, the trick was on me.  Bart went in to get the pizzas and the dogs and I waited in the car.  About 5 or 10 minutes later, while I was getting impatient, my phone rang.  It was Stuzzi.  "I'm sorry ma'am, but we just ran out of GF pizza dough."  My reply - "Did my husband ask you to call me?"  Stuzzi -"No"  Me - "Well he's been in the restaurant for about 10 minutes waiting on our pizza."  Stuzzi "Oh, I think I see him.  Would you like pasta instead (implied - and wait even longer while we cook it for you?")  Me - "No just forget my pizza."  Sulk.  So we left Stuzzi with one regular pizza for Bart and me, in a bad mood, irritated and frustrated, wondering what I could find in our bare cupboards for dinner.

I don't whine much about having to eat GF, mainly because I feel so much better and I know that it is a direct result of my GF eating but sometime, it can be a real pain.  There are definitely occasions like this weekend, when I wish I could eat the yummy looking Halloween sugar cookies with the orange and black icing that everyone was chowing down on or just be able to go into a restaurant and order whatever I want off the menu.  But, the reality is, I can't.  So, like last night, I need to just move on, try and make the best out of it (I made myself an artichoke burger with tomato sauce and a slice of cheese on it to satisfy my Italian craving) and celebrate the treats I do have in life.