Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Bike Ride that Wasn't

My friend Laurie and I met up this morning to take a nice bike ride on the O Trail. We met in the parking lot  and headed out talking about the possibility of an hour bike ride together with a plan for me to continue on for another half an hour or so. We headed south on what seemed to be a very quiet trail. It was so nice to be on the trail with Laurie since we don't often get to work out together anymore. 

Picture of me prior to my first Oly distance Tri!
As we were riding and chatting about life I was feeling pretty good! We were 5 miles into the ride and then we rode over one of the wooden bridges on the trail. My bike started riding oddly and I looked down and was greeted with a flat front tire. This was not bad news at all because I am fairly efficient at changing my tire (typically only takes me a few minutes)  and between the two of us we had all the necessary equipment to make the quick change.

I got the tire off, pulled out my tire lever and promptly broke the lever. That should have been a sign! I then asked Laurie if she had a lever because if you have ever tried changing a tire without one, you will know a 5 minute task can quickly turn into a 25 minute task if you are lucky. Laurie had a lever and I quickly got my tire off the rim and the new tube inserted. I got the tire on the rim and pulled out the bike pump. I pumped up the tire a little bit and noticed a mistake so I had to take the tire off the rim again. I should mention in the very beginning of this fiasco I dropped Laurie's bike pump in the grass; it wasn't a drop that should have broken the bike pump. Anyway, after removing the piece on the stem I placed the tube back on the rim and went to use the bike pump and it basically came apart in pieces right in my hand. 

This is how I felt when the bike pump didn't work!
What to do now!!! I had a tire that was flat, a broken bike pump and we were five miles from our cars! Laurie started digging and came up with a co2 cartridge but did not have the pump that was needed to use the cartridge. At this point we started talking about the closest intersection to our location. It was a trailhead about a mile back. Our plan, Laurie would drive to her car and come and collect me at the trail head. In the meantime I would walk to the trail head with my bike. So onward we went with our plan!

Laurie took off on her bike and I started walking. This is when the trail became a little more active and I learned that my psychology instructor was totally wrong when he told my class that when you are alone and in a lurch and there are very few people around, you are more likely to get help. He was so wrong!!!

As I was walking up the trail with my bike flung over my back I did pass, or was passed, by a number of people. I was shocked because I was passed by one family on their bicycles and I quickly asked them if they had a pump. They answered no, but a pump was definitely attached to one of their bikes. A couple of runner dudes ran passed me and quickly said 'what a bummer' and 'that sucks' to which I responded yes, yes it does. One cyclist rode past me and asked me if I was alright, I said yes and told him I had a flat. He responded with a head nod and stating that he needs to remember to bring a pump with him. 

I think my favorite though were all the people I encountered on the trail who looked at me, and quickly looked away as if them looking at the ground would make them totally disappear and I wouldn't see them! Oh, and those cyclists who carry everything with them but are too focused on getting their workout in that they didn't even acknowledge me as they sped down the trail.

I am now committing myself to stopping when I see a cyclist stranded or walking with their bicycle over their shoulder down the trail!

The day wasn't a total bust though. After a 1.25 mile walk to the parking lot in my bike shoes, I threw my bike into Laurie's car and she drove me back to my car. I then went on to her house, took a shower and enjoyed some awesome food and SUPER DESERTS to celebrate Easter! I guess that means the day didn't end so badly, just not how I planned my day. Now to readjust my workout schedule to accommodate the bike ride that wasn't!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bad luck OR Opportunity

I woke up this morning with plans and lots of them. My intentions? Go to church, workout, meet a friend for lunch, get my clothes ready for the week, go grocery shopping, get my lunches ready for the week and write my blog post for the week.

As I write this, I have accomplished nothing. I got sidelined by dropping my cell phone in a full sink of water.

I have problems with water and cell phones. Here is the history of my cell phone destruction:
  • Dropped my cell phone in a bucket of water while washing my floors. Cell phone never worked again. 
  • Dropped my cell phone in a puddle of water while rushing to a triathlon start line. Cell phone busted.
  • Dropped my cell phone down an elevator shaft. Cell phone made calls but the display was shattered.
  • Sweat all over my cell phone because I needed to talk to my friend while running on the treadmill. Cell phone still worked but the key pad would not type properly. 
  • Dropped my cell phone in a full sink of water (this morning) and it is now drying out and I am hoping it works tomorrow.
On Friday night I went to see Bill Rodgers speak, and it was quite interesting. What did I learn about/from him? Well he is an accomplished marathoner who spent some years as a smoker prior to winning the Boston marathon and the New York marathon four times a piece. I also learned he won twenty-two marathons in his career but he also DNF'd 8 plus marathons in his career. One race he quit at 25 miles and one Boston marathon quit at the top of heartbreak hill.

Boston Bill Rodgers talked about, even laughed about all of the races he didn't complete. He is so passionate about running it is almost difficult to follow the course of his story telling to decipher the true message in his story, but in steps my mom to translate! My mom went with me to see Bill Rodgers speak since she was in town for the evening and she pointed out the fact that Boston Bill was very forthright with his struggles and very passionate about his running.

Life is about opportunity! Bill Rodgers talked about our continued need to look around to see what our 'competition' is doing. As a matter of fact, someone asked Bill what he typically eats pre-race. He responded with a long story about another runner who was eating a huge meal before a race and the reaction he had when he saw the guy eating biscuits and gravy and a mound of bacon, just to watch the guy drop out a mile into the race. The point of this story was that sometimes paying attention to the competition does not adequately reflect what is actually going on. The natural assumption? The guy who ate a ton before the race probably had plans of only running a mile and dropping out. By the way Bill eats macaroni and cheese pre-race. Bill took this scenario as an opportunity to better understand that looking around at others does not always adequately translate to what is actually happening. My friend Laurie kind of blogged about this exact topic this week; you can read her post here

The real message for me is that unless I do the research and really know someone, I do not know their entire story so I prefer not to judge. The opportunity in all of this is understanding that I am my own competition, so knowing how different things impact me, is what truly matters. Quite honestly, what works for my friends is likely not going to work for me and so I don't really pay attention to what they, or any other athletes, are doing except to cheer them on. If I see something that makes sense, I might try to adopt that method and see what happens but picking up the entire path another person is choosing could actually result in failure. I stick to the professionals for my strategies. By the way, for Bill heat seemed to be the theme he kept bringing up that negatively impacted him at races, as we know, others thrive on heat. So what does that tell me? I need to take the opportunity to learn if I am better in the cold or hot.  

Lately, I have been struggling with my workouts. Why? Perhaps because I was recently sick and still have the residual head and chest stuff going on, I haven't been getting enough sleep and I haven't been fueling properly? Depending on the day, it is probably a combination of the three. So, I need to sleep more, eat better and take some Mucinex. If that doesn't solve my problem? Well, I will cross that bridge when I come to it. 

What I am saying here is that yes, my cell phone issues have a theme, I need to pay attention to the fact that my cell phone busted at an 80% rate because of water. This is my opportunity to learn; I need to quit bringing my phone around water because that is the item that keeps destroying my phone. 

The bottom line is this: When something seemingly bad happens, take it as an opportunity to learn what you are doing, and for us endurance hobbyists learn from our own challenges and truck on! 

Bad luck is perception, I view it as an opportunity!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Getting Back on Track!

It has been a couple of weeks since I've blogged and what a couple of challenging weeks it has been. If you happen to follow my blog, you know that I have recently been sick. I have been trying to lay low so as to make sure I am healthy enough to resume training and stay healthy. With that said I ran two races over the last two weeks that have surprised the heck out of me.

Running O' the Green

This particular race was a 5 miler in my home town. I ran it because my sister and her husband were running and I happened to be in town for my brother's wedding shower. When I woke up that morning I really had no interest in going out to run the race. It was pouring and I wasn't registered yet so I figured I would stay in bed but the rain stopped. Well it stopped long enough for me to get dressed, drive to the race and register. And then came the rain again. The race started about 15 minutes late and I decided to try and keep up with the woman running with the stroller. I held pace with her for two and a half miles and realized I had a little more in me so I kicked up the pace for the last two and a half miles.

There was this group of runners from a fire department running who were clipping at a little faster pace so I decided to try and stick with them. I was successful, actually so much so that one of the guys couldn't stand the fact that I was faster than him so he would speed up to pass me and then get in front of me and slow down. At about a mile until the finish I told him that I realized he really didn't want me to get in front of him so I said let's just race it until the end and so race we did. I kept in front of him for almost the remainder of the race until he flew past me in the last few feet to the finish line. All in all it was a good race and PR. Here are my splits:

Mile 1: 12:04
Mile 2: 11:52
Mile 3: 11:49
Mile 4: 11:47
Mile 5: 10:47

For an overall pace of 11:40! Not to shabby...

Kinsale 4 Miler

Last night I went to run a 4 miler with my friends Laurie and Sue. Sue and I have been training for a half marathon together so this was a good opportunity for us to begin practicing our strategy for the half marathon. Well we both forgot our race plan (next time it gets written on my arm) and just started running. I started talking about how morning runs are better for me but not quite sure why. This race started at 6:00 in the evening and it just didn't feel as nice as the five miler just one week before. Even still we were doing pretty well.

We ran the first half of the race feeling pretty good but also feeling a little pathetic because we were not pacing to finish even close to our finish times from the previous year so I decided to kick it up a notch. We met a person along the way who is typically a 9 minute miler but struggling with shit splints. She decided to finish the race with us. It was important to finish this race with my training partner, and that we did! Again, another race with negative splits.

Mile 1: 12:12
Mile 2: 12:05
Mile 3: 11:35
Mile 4: 11:11

Average Pace was 11:45!!!

Again, not a bad performance and a very nice race with a great finish time. There is nothing better than crossing the finish line with a friend.

So with both of those accomplishments in my back pocket and health on my side I am ready to get back to my training for the half iron distance triathlon. Rather than look back and beat myself up for the training I have missed I am going to congratulate myself for taking care of myself, getting healthy and am looking forward to the rewards training has to offer me.

I also am looking forward to and appreciate the kind words to come or that have been offered to me about my goals. Thanks to my friends and family for encouraging me along the way!

Monday, March 4, 2013

It Started as a Joke...

About to enjoy my turkey birthday cake!
*This post is less about my athleticism and more a rant. Read on if you wish to learn about my disdain for aspartame. 

You may remember a few weeks ago I posted about giving up Diet Coke. I am officially aspartame free for over a month. If I am being totally honest with you, I quit drinking Diet Coke and eating products with aspartame because of an article I read about the impacts of aspartame that was, in part, refuted by The article talked about all of the negative impacts aspartame has on your body including twitching of muscles, symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis, ringing in the ears, weight gain, brain damage and my favorite, formaldehyde poisoning.

I went to work the next day sans my Diet Coke and announced that I was giving up Diet Coke because I jokingly self diagnosed myself with formaldehyde poisoning. My colleagues and I got a good chuckle out of this and we started blaming all of my personal afflictions on FP. Yep, you got it, we started calling formaldehyde poisoning FP. We still joke about it actually. If I have a headache, my colleagues say it must be FP. Cold? FP. Eye twitch? FP. Hungry? Well it must be FP.

Here is where I have to tell you that Snopes stated that FP is not real however it is true that aspartame, at a certain temperature, does convert to formaldehyde and then to formate. You can read more about it here. Now the response on Snopes was written by a representative for the FDA, and he states that the levels of what we actually ingest is fairly modest. But, what doesn't make sense to me is this: Why the heck would we want to ingest something that converts to the same chemical that preserves our dead bodies.

Now, let me state that I am not a scientist or a researcher on the topic and my knowledge base is what I can find randomly on the internet but there is one consistent thing that I keep finding and that is aspartame seems to have a lot of controversy surrounding it. What actually put me over the edge today was this blog post (again, I haven't verified its validity) that talks about the milk industry wanting to have the ability to put aspartame in milk. Why? Because the sale of milk has been decreasing over the years? This article states that although the sales of regular milk has been decreasing over the years, the sales of organic milk has been increasing. Perhaps it is because we all are smart people and can see the growth hormones that are pumped into cows are not great for our bodies and so we switched to the better product. And now they want to add aspartame to milk?

I don't even know what to say about all of this. Let me also mention that I am not big on gimmicky diets and so for me to declare that I am giving up a particular item is kind of hilarious to both me and my friends. But I've tried some of those crazy diets in my past and I know that they aren't really sustainable. I mean, come on now, if you don't have a medical reason, such as celiacs disease or ADHD or diabetes or high blood pressure, dictating a specific diet then moderation and exercise are the key to health. I am kind of tired of hearing about the gluten free, dairy free, meat free, vegan, sugar free, I eat water diets. I seem to be having success losing weight eating veggies, meat, dairy, grains and even cake and ice cream from time to time. The difference now is that I am not eating cake with fake sugar and guess what? I haven't gained any weight because I exercise too.

Now here is the thing, aspartame is a manufactured chemical that makes food taste sweet, which is why people like it when on diets or trying to decrease their sugar consumption. They can still eat or drink that additional item because it has fewer calories. I bought into it too. I was drinking diet coke because it tasted better than water and the bubbles, oh the bubbles... The fact of the matter is this; the week I gave up all things aspartame and fake sugar I lost 2.6 lbs, the following week? 2.2 lbs. I've gained a little back since those first two weeks because the moderation thing is hard and takes will power, and I was lacking some of that will power last week, but I find comfort in knowing that I didn't put any manufactured chemicals in my body. Additionally, I had some odd twitches in my legs and fingers, was getting tired often, craving sweets all the time and had some ringing in my ears prior to giving up aspartame and most of those annoying things have subsided.

Now I can't attribute all of those improvements solely on my lack of consuming aspartame but I am certain it didn't hurt matters either. So I am going to charge on eating food and enjoying food. I'm simply not going to eat any more fake food, and I'll still probably lose some weight and feel better about it in the long run!

And to think this all started as a joke...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I Sick

Every time I get sick I find myself whining to Dukie by saying I SICK in the voice of my little niece. I was visiting My sister's family in the UAE a few years ago and  I remember driving out to Oman for a cruise and little Rosie was not feeling well. I then spent the drive back to Sharjah, after the cruise, in the back seat with Rosie and a puke bag while Rosie said over and over again 'I SICK'. And sick she was. I was sharing her bedroom while visiting and she coughed all night long almost every night. I felt so badly for her.

And now here I am, day number four of not feeling very well and day number two in bed. Yes I am blogging from bed. On top of it, I have been on the road for work and my workout options were not that great. I got in some of my workouts but certainly didn't get everything in. I also missed my long run yesterday and will miss my long ride today.

After going to the doctor this morning, I stopped in the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions. I have quite possibly the best pharmacist you could wish for. I have been going to this pharmacy for a long time and the pharmacist seems to remember me every time I walk in the door.

So I was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and when I went to pick up my prescription the pharmacist instantly empathized with me. You see, I was just in there about a month and a half ago with a sinus infection and had an allergic reaction to the medication I was prescribed so I was back there day after day until I finally got a prescription that didn't make me sick.

Anyway, as I was sitting there waiting for my prescription the pharmacist started telling me about his recent illness. He knows that I work out a lot because of another circumstance from a few years ago. I'll spare you the details on that one... Anyway, he was telling me that he is doing 2 a days 6 days a week and had to take six weeks off because he went back to his work outs too quickly after having a similar virus.

As you probably guessed the biggest challenge for me when being sick is knowing I shouldn't work out and so I constantly sit around plotting out my return to the athletic world. I thought I might try and go to the gym today but I have no interest in getting off the couch. I also don't want to find myself sick again in a few weeks or not better in a week or so because I plodded on when I needed to let my body heal. So my new plan is to see how I feel at 4:45 tomorrow morning. If I'm feeling like I did this morning, I will roll over and sleep until work...

Until them I'm going to lay around and not feel badly about it because 'I SICK'!!!