17 February 2010

Goals and the Business of Setting Them

Whenever I'm out running, or riding the bus to work, I always think up topics I'd like to talk about on the blog. I then promptly forget about said topics when it comes to writing my blog in the evening. But I have been thinking about something lately and, luckily, I happen to remember it right now.

This year, I want it to be a great year in terms of my racing. I've hired a coach, I am being smart in terms of the number of races I'm doing this year, I have the opportunity to do two Ironmans, and I'm not in school any longer (haven't officially graduated thanks to one of my professors NOT submitting my grades for a 50 page paper I slaved over, a situation I hope is resolved ASAP) and thus have more time to devote to training and sleeping. I'm starting to make (small) changes to my eating habits - less meats, more fruits and veggies, the whole "eating clean" concept, but I'll never swear off chocolate as long as I live. I have set some moderately ambitious goals for myself that I think are reasonably achievable.

And that brings me to the business of confidence, a crucial part of setting - and meeting - goals. I've become a more confident person overall since I picked up triathlon, both in the sport and outside of it. But I'm still sometimes afraid to go there - to set really ambitious goals because, if I don't meet them, what does that mean, what will it do to my confidence, and will it undermine me as an athlete? If I'm shooting for a certain race time and I've built it up in the weeks leading up to the race and felt fully confident that I CAN meet that particular time... and then, partway through the race I look at my watch and realize it's totally not feasible. Will I give up? Will I feel like the race is a waste and just stop trying my hardest? Will I be angry at myself that I didn't get a certain time, even if I did really well in the grand scheme of things?

Psychologically, it's always easier to set easier goals for oneself, ones that you know you can easily reach, because then you don't feel like a failure, yet you didn't really have to push yourself to the limits. In a sense, you are settling. Those who are truly great, who are going faster and harder than anyone else - they aren't setting easily attainable goals. They are setting ambitious goals, doing the grueling training, and then racing their hardest on race day - both physically and mentally - to reach that certain time or certain AG placing.

So, here's to training the mind to create ambitious goals and forcing the body to follow through with the training and racing. Here's to not fearing failure and realizing that if you don't push your limits and flirt with the possibility of failure, you're just shortchanging yourself and limiting your potential. Full speed or nothing at all!

14 February 2010

It's Baaacccckkk!

Ironman and its accoutrements have crept back into my life. It's been a slow progression over the past month and a half, but this weekend leaves little room for denial. It's back and it's here to stay until at least September.

It all started yesterday morning, a Saturday, when I WILLINGLY got up at 5:15am to do a 3 hour training ride followed by a short run. I haven't gotten up at 5:15am on a weekend since, oh, probably Ironman Florida back in November. I was done with an almost-4 hour workout before 10am on a Saturday. Talk about accomplishment.

Another sign - I broke into my bag-o-fuel that I haven't looked at since Ironman Florida - in fact, some of my leftover food from the race (unopened, of course) was still in the bag. I grabbed a few powerbars and gels to fuel me on my trainer ride. I also noticed that I really need to replenish my supply, pickings were rather thin and a chocolate powerbar REALLY isn't appetizing at 5:45am.

I sleep like a rock, not really something new, but I dozed for 2 of the 4 hours we were in the car last night returning from visiting our puppy. I'm not usually one for napping, but the early-morning workout wore me out.

But the biggest indicator that Ironman training is back in my life... my appetite. It won't quit. I will eat and then be hungry again a short time later. I went to the pool today, not long after having pizza, and 3/4 of the way through my workout, I was ravenous again. We had to go straight to PETCO after the pool and I ran into Trader Joe's while Mark parked the car so I could grab some munchies. I must've looked as hungry as I felt because the guy at the check-out asked me if I had just finished a workout as he scanned my Clif MoJo bars. It took all of my self-control to wait until I had exited the store to rip into one of those bars. It was 7/8 gone by the time I walked two stores down to PETCO. Fortunately I had three more bars and a bag of pretzels, successfully helping me avoid a post-workout/pre-dinner meltdown.

So here's to Ironman training and everything that goes along with it! Welcome back, I've missed you!

11 February 2010

Ready for normal again...

The double-whammy of snowstorms have really screwed with my daily routine. It has been nice that the office was closed two days this week and I was able to work from home for a third day, and Mark and I have been able to spend time together and get our house more in order. But I AM LACKING IN STRUCTURE AND IT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY. The pools have been closed, the sidewalks are not conducive to running, I've barely left the house, and I'm eating junk food like it's going out of style. I'm not mentally plugged into my training lately and things just feel kind of... "off." My mother has said that I was always a happy kid as long as I was kept on a routine - as soon as I deviated from that daily routine, I had a meltdown. Twenty-eight years later, the same continues to hold true. Thank goodness metro and metrobus is up and running tomorrow, the office is open, and no snow is in the forecast for the weekend so we can get stuff done.

Oh, and in other exciting news... We're going to become parents to a NEW PUPPY (hehe, you probably thought I was going to say parents to a BABY - nope, not for a very, VERY long time).
Meet Miles - he's an English Setter and SUPER cute. He will be tri-colored, white with brown and black speckles. Mark has always wanted to get an English Setter, he had one growing up, and we are both excited about our new addition. He comes home with us on the weekend of Feb 20/21.

10 February 2010


Seriously... I've been in DC for almost six years and I've always wanted to experience a "DC Snowstorm." I'd heard rumors that the city shuts down if there's alot of snow, that people freak out, that it's a modern-day version of the blizzards Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about in her Little House on the Prairie books. While being snowbound has had its advantages - bonding with neighbors over the shared misery of shoveling multiple feet of snow, an excuse to bake (and eat) chocolate chip cookies and other junk (need to build the fat stores just in case we lose power and heat), sledding (though that's more fun if you have the proper equipment), and your office shutting down for multiple days in one week. Being snowbound also has disadvantages, especially in DC. Sidewalks are buried under snowdrifts as tall as me, we've taken the car out ONCE - no twice - in the past six days because we're afraid we won't make it back up the steep road to our house, metro stops running its busses and above-ground trains making it near impossible to get to work, and some streets are still unplowed, oh and I haven't touched pool water since Thursday of last week because all of the INDOOR pools have been closed. Running is a bit treacherous, even with my snow chains, the bike path has been missing for almost a week, and I just plain don't want to be outside working out - it isn't fun. In fact, I literally have not stepped across the threshold of my door since coming home from work last night.

Fortunately, it appears that this may be the last significant snow for the foreseeable future. I'm going to get my running in somehow during the next few days and my fingers are crossed that the pool will be open by Sunday because I MISS SWIMMING! On the upside, me and my bike haven't missed ANY quality time together.

We've misplaced our USB cord for our camera - once we find it I will upload the pictures from Snowpacolypse, Son of Snowmaggeddon, Snoverkill, whatever you want to call the weather we've been having for the past week.

Next week is a HUGE training week for me - fingers crossed that the weather helps make it a pleasant week too.

I'd say I need to go to bed now so I can get up for swimming in the morning, but all of the pools are closed.

04 February 2010

Awaiting the snow... EEEEEEEEEEEEK!

The weatherman just said "12 inches is going to be the minimum" in reference to the snowstorm arriving tomorrow. I am SO EXCITED about this nor'easter - I haven't been in weather like this EVER in Virginia. Ohhh, the weatherman just said "historic" in reference to the storm too. Can hardly contain my excitement! Unfortunately, no luck in finding a sled to buy. Mark went to four stores with no success. Hudson Trail Outfitters were very cryptic when I called in the evening "we are supposedly getting a shipment of sleds within the hour, but I don't know how many." I arrived an hour later and they were sold out. Booooo. Some friends of ours bought some extra sleds, so I'm going to try to tag along with them this weekend, try out sledding at the Air Force Memorial hill. I did, however, buy some snow chains for my running shoes and I put them on the shoes tonight - very excited to use them tomorrow! I have my running clothes bag packed and ready to go to work tomorrow. You'd think that with all of this enthusiasm, I'd never seen snow before; it has just been so long since I've been in a good snowstorm - I've been waiting years for a major DC snowstorm.

In other news, I got my swim and run on this morning before work - I love getting my workouts done before work. Swim was about 2200-2300 yards and my run involved hill repeats. I was really pleased with my mental strength in this workout - my last repeat was my fastest one, even though I wanted to stop partway up the hill.

Recovery day tomorrow, unless I'm slogging home through the snow!

03 February 2010

New England Weather in Virginia!

It feels like I'm seven years old again, anxiously awaiting a big snow. I've lived in Virginia for over five years and we've NEVER had a winter that had even CLOSE to as much snow as we've gotten so far this winter. Mark and I missed the big December storm because we were enjoying some sunny SoCal weather for the holidays (can't complain there), so I am thrilled that the storm this weekend might be almost as big as the December storm. I need to find my snow chains for my running shoes (still packed away somewhere, I bet) because I'm going to have some bonding time with the bike path and the snow this weekend! I'm also considering bringing my running shoes, snow chains for my shoes, and warm running clothes into work with me on Friday. The snow is supposed to start during the day and I bet the roads are going to be a mess by the time the late afternoon rolls around. I only live four miles away from work and I may be jogging home if the traffic/roads are ridiculous. Better than sitting on the bus for hours.

Training is going just fine. Yesterday morning at the pool was a comedy of errors. I forgot my key fob to get into the gym (they let me in anyways); I brought one sandal that was mine, one that was Marks - both for the left feet; I broke my swim cap in half when I tried to put it on. Fortunately, that was about the end of my snafus at the swimming pool. All before 5:30am! I did promote myself up one swim lane because my normal swim lane was full. I managed to hang on to the back of the pain train, but I will NOT be in that lane on Thursdays - speedwork days. That's just asking to be lapped. I also did my run when I got home from the pool - it feels so good to get both workouts down before work! I'll be doing the same thing tomorrow. I even managed to get my bike ride in this morning before work on the trainer. I love not having to do anything when I get home from work, it's just so much easier. And I'm sore too, from the workouts. On paper, the workouts don't look that bad. When I'm actually doing the workouts, I don't feel like I'm about to die. But later on, my muscles are definitely feeling the workout, in a good way.

Time to finish folding the laundry and get to bed. And crossing my fingers for LOTS of snow this weekend!

01 February 2010

Swim/Bike/Run totals for January

So, for the first time in my athletic career, I've actually tracked my workouts for a whole month. My coach, Jen, lives out in Illinois so Training Peaks is a way for both of us to see my workouts and track my progress. I still don't have a bike computer to track my progress (and I've been bike-trainer bound all month, rendering the GPS in my Garmin useless for tracking biking mileage) so I'll just put down the number of hours I spent bonding with my bike for January.

Swim: 25,949 yds
Bike: 9.75 hours
Run: 78.66 miles
Other (strength, core): 3.83 hours

I'm pretty happy with my numbers. And it's really liberating having a coach - I don't need to be constantly thinking about what sort of workout I should be doing, what my numbers should be for the week, is there anything extra I should be doing. Nope - it's all planned for me and all I have to do is the workout. Love it!

Okay, to bed because I have to go swim and run in the morning, hooray!