Jun 29, 2007

wardrobe malfunction

so i am swimming laps in the pool this morning.
fridays are my easy days -
30 minutes of pool running or laps. my choice.
since there is nothing easy about pool running, i choose laps.
so i'm swimming. i'm swimming.
i'm amused by the words "clean me" drawn into dirt at bottom of pool.
i like watching the bubbles that my arm makes on the strokes.
i can take an easy day to new heights. in short, i am in la-la land.
on slow, swimmy, planet suzanne.

but something is amiss.
something just doesn't feel right.
i finish the lap and look.
at my boob. and i can see it clearly. cause it's out. my boob. is out.
in all its very tiny glory. but its out nonetheless.

Jun 27, 2007

trade-offs & lessons learned

last night: another day, another club ride. the anxiety was setting in an hour before the ride just standing in my kitchen. i was thinking of blowing it off ... after all, i had already run that morning - what the hell did i need to kill myself on a ride for? my husband - who lovingly tells me i am a total head case - knows exactly why i am trying to weasle out ... he says - there's no hairpin turn in this one -- its a different route.

what? no hairpin turn? i'm in!

so there is (for once) ZERO anxiety going into ride. i don't even freak out when once on the roll, someone's water bottle is suddenly rolling all over the place and i miss it by a hair ... water off a ducks' back.

i'm good. i'm happy. i'm well ensconsed in the group.

then, my husband rolls up beside me & quietly says, this is not the group i want to be in ... i want to be in the group ahead of the one we are in. i think - no, that's the group YOU want to be in ... i'm good here. i'm happy here. why you gotta mess with my mojo? That's what i'm thinking - what i say to him is 'bite me. i am staying put'. i knew that picking up the pace to catch up to one group ahead was a recipe for anxiety - especially with a series of fast turns coming up.

but then, once we are out on river road - which is a good, long straight stretch ... i realize, and this pains me to say it - that my husband was right. this was not the group i wanted to be in. this group was far slower & far more unorganized. my husband & i tried to break away in the hopes of catching group just ahead ... but got stopped at a light & everyone caught up with us. then of course, the cocky girl who tries to pass everyone (that would be me) practically falls off her bike when her foot slips off pedal when trying to get going again. i think i got laughed at. so shit. i'll stay here.

its' crazy & unorganized, but its all a learning process ... i realized that i traded the need for a valium drip attached to me & bike for a slower ride. i think that it was a good trade. i knew i could do about 5mph faster - but i was ok with it. and so here's what i learned on last nights' ride: my husband is right.

haha. i should just end post here. imagine how much i could milk that statement.

anyhow - he says i've got the stregth & fitness level to be way up with first group. i just don't have the bike handling skills to stay with them in the first few miles through neighborhoods & on any major turns. and that lack of skills = high anxiety.

i did smoke the entire group on a major hill. and when i say entire group, i mean all of them. except two. my husband & another guy. there were 20 people in our group ... we hit the hill & i go up effortlessly. i am feeling very smug. very smug indeed. i think i have opened up such a huge gap & i see that my husband and the other guy have picked up a couple of riders that were ahead of them & i think i can have a miniscule slow down, catch my breath a bit & still totally catch up to them. and then - much.to.my.dismay - everyone i just smoked starts passing me one by one. WTF? people? hello? what are you doing up here? why are you not back there coughing on the dust i surely left in my 18mph wake?

ugh. no matter. group all back together ... including small group ahead & we head for home ... got to feel all smug again when another fellow came up to admire my very old-school steel bike & said i was a strong rider ... i attacked that hill.

yes. i did. i do love those hills.

Jun 21, 2007

third time's a charm

tonight was my 3rd attempt at a club ride.
attempts one and two didn't go so well.
but tonight - the cycling gods were smiling down on me ...

but not before i spent the first 5-6 miles hyperventilating & on the edge of a panic attack.
we roll out - and head into the park & i know what's coming: a hairpin turn. and i am hyperventilating. i kid you not. i think good god, i am going to have a heart attack - how pathetic am i? so anyhow - (insert ride minutiae here-blahblahblah) and then:
we go through the hairpin turn & i go through it faster than i ever have, but i still have to get in the big ring & HAUL ASS to catch up.

hauling ass & hyperventilating do not go so well together. so now i am flying through the park, in the big ring & i do not stop to chat with any other riders that fell off the back like i did last week ... instead - i just fly by them all - with one goal in mind: CATCH THE F--ING GROUP.

i'll spare the minutiae ... suffice it to say: i did indeed catch the group. (feel free to clap here). this was due to the workings of the cycling gods who decided to take mercy on me in the form of a TRAIN! the group gets stopped by a train & here i am ... i roll up to tracks, have time to catch my breath, coax heartrate down & sip my magic elixir h20. it was a beautiful thing. i was here now & knew i was there to stay.

i'm not saying i didn't have to work -- in fact, there was a point at which i told my husband that i thought throwing up was a really viable option ... his response? "good, then you are doing it right".

it was work. but i did it ... and the post ride beer never tasted so good.

Jun 19, 2007

still -- cheaper than therapy

i just dropped a small bundle on a SECOND pair of running shoes today. there's nothing wrong with my first pair. they only have 100 miles on them - they're perfectly good.

but my coach told me months ago that i really should have two pairs so i could rotate them. it sounded fairly frivolous & expensive to me ... but i knew he was right. rotating shoes is a good idea.

so, now that i am really on the upswing of this recovery & starting official marathon training as of July 1st - today was the day to drop a small bundle of money on new shoes. dammit.

so i go to the running store today & i totally thought i'd just be getting the same exact pair. this, apparently, is not recommended. i try on 3 shoes & this is the pair that won -- mizuno wave creation 8. i've never run in anything but adidas ... but when i put these on - i loved them. and now that i'm home & have read reviews - i love them even more.
so while they cost a ridiculous amount of money -- my coach said that my legs & feet will thank me because of the rotation ... shoe guy says that rotating shoes will help to lessen the chance of injury - which, theoretically, should lessen the need for physical therapy & deep tissue massages. and running, in general keeps me in such a happy place that it's therapy for the price of some sneakers.

Jun 16, 2007

finding my mojo in the hills

given all my issues ... on the bike that is, (there's plenty more issues, but i'd need another whole blog for them) -- there is one thing i do really well: climbs.

i mean, i got it going on in the hills. i love them.

but the thing is - after hearing about the hills that my husband encounters on his rides, i'd been starting to think that the hills i love so much & can just breeze right up as if they aren't even there are probably no big deal - just mere bumps in the road. so i decided that i need to see a real hill - a hill that i had figured would reduce me to tears or vomitting halfway up - whichever came first. i needed to see if i can do it. more importantly, for my own confidence - i really needed to kick the shit out of a real hill and in the process, get a little mojo back.

my husband knew the perfect ride - we planned it all week. i called for sitters (hard to find one that wants to come over at 7 am on a saturday) ... we dropped the kids off at a friends with a couple dozen krispy kreme donuts. nothing like pawning your 3 children off on friends & telling them to get all jacked up on sugar while they're there. good morning!

i had heard about this ride & how gorgeous it is. the quintessential kentucky ride. rolling fields, cows, horses and those endless horse fences all along the way - with the very occasional glimpse of the ohio river. but more to the point & the reason for the ride - i had also heard about the hill and how there is no way to have any momentum going into it - because you make a 90 degree right hand turn onto it & it starts immediately climbing. its actually more than 90 degrees ... i'd say it was more like 100 degrees. and they're not kidding when they say it starts immediately climbing. i had been given all kinds of advice on how to set up for this hill & i had heard so much about it & it was all bad. i spent all week wondering if i could actually do it.
i didn't have to do it fast, i just had to do it.

so - we're riding, we're riding & it is indeed gorgeous - but mostly, i just cared about hitting this hill & getting over it - happily, without losing any steam.

we get to a certain point & my husband tells us to get in the granny gear ... i think, holy shit - now? its here now? (i'd say its about halfway through the ride - about 20 miles in) i didn't put it in the granny gear - mentally, i needed to know i had one more down to go. so i am in second to lowest. and here we are - right hand turn .... and UP UP UP ... holy shit. my husband & friend get out of their saddles & go up ... i get out of mine & up i go ... i saw that they could stay out of their saddles the whole way up .... i didn't think i could make it out of the saddle the whole way (i'm guessing it was about 1/2 mile, 2/3 mile climb?) .... so halfway up, i get back down & put it down one more gear - stay in the saddle & just steadily climb up .... we got to a point at which it levels off a bit & you can catch your breath (and believe me, i had a lot of breath-catching to do)before the next uphill - which isn't as steep, but it's longer ... once i make it over that second climb - the elation i feel over having climbed this hill is overwhelming .... like i just won a 5K overwhelming ... and i am on such an enormous high that i feel like i could climb hills all day. i wanted to go around & do it all over again.

needless to say - making it over that hill did a lot to boost my biking confidence. i may be shit on the turns - but i can kick some ass in the hills.
oh yeah ... and i can run too. today's run was 8 miles. longest since mini marathon. not entirely pain free. but it didn't suck either. i've been leaving the watch and heart rate monitor at home and just heading out with the tunes. it's getting better. slowly, but its moving in the right direction.
so, for someone who is not really running - i've logged 32 miles this week. and for a runner girl pretending to be a biker chick, i logged 95 miles on the bike this week. not bad. not bad at all. must stop beating myself up & worrying about my shortcomings & instead be happy with what i've accomplished.
i got my mojo back yesterday.
it's all good now.

i am my own worst enemy

well, the bliss came back & it came back big ... but not before i had a couple of shitty runs & an even shittier bike ride. worst ride ever, in fact ... so lets start with that:

thursday night i went on my second club ride with husband & friend ... it was the worst ride in all my 499 miles so far. (but lets pause a moment to reflect on the fact that i have ridden 499 miles in about 3 months!).

but back to my miserable ride:
there's a hairpin turn in the park & very early on in the ride. and when i say hairpin, i really mean hairpin. and when i say early on, i mean first 5 miles. (of a 25 mile ride). my trouble began here. i fell off the back (way the f off the back) due to my white knuckle death grip & fear of the turn. once i fell off, (the back, not the bike) i just plain didn't feel like putting it into the big ring and hauling ass to catch group. in other words, i was lazy, and i was struck by a serious bout of wussitis. and now here is where i am my own worst enemy: it was here that i did an amazing job of messing with my own head by convincing myself that:

  1. i had no right to be on these rides - for god's sake, i can't even turn without feeling like i am pulling a few G's - which sends me into pathetic panic mode.
  2. my legs were tired from morning 6 mile run and i would have been better off at home, i am after all "recovering".
  3. slowing down to about 10 miles an hour to chat with other girl (also dropped at that damn turn) & was perfectly acceptable.

my husband had to turn around to come back for me so we could chase the group. i had already messed with my head enough & convinced myself I was tired & wasn't feeling the love for the chase. i kept trying to yell after him " i don't want to do this!" ... and then, "i'm not feeling the love tonight honey" ... and then the whiny "my legs are tired" ... all of it bullshit, of course. when he told me at some point after going through a neighborhood that we were going slower than training rides, I almost died - mostly, because i felt like i was gonna die. i was just all jacked about:

  1. my breathing -- it was all crazy - am quite sure i was close to hyperventilating - i probably could have talked myself into it if i tried hard enough.
  2. the fact that we were chasing the group for the second damn club ride in a row.
  3. about the fact that i just felt so out of control & it pissed me the hell off. and why couldn't i just be good on the damn bike. wtf was i so scared of???? (i'll tell you in a minute).

lets just say my husband had to pull my sad, sorry, whiny ass for about 15 miles - we saw the group at the turn around ... we were all of about 3 minutes behind them - the whole damn time. there was a brief shining moment in the ride, when it occurred to me that my legs were not actually at all tired - this realization came when i pulled my husband up a hill, into the wind, in the big ring, at 20 mph. but that was the end of the ride ... took me that long to get my mojo back. too bad it didn't come back earlier.

later that night at home - i am beating myself up over my biking inadequacies (again, i am perfecting the art of being my own worst enemy - i could hold seminars i am so good at this) ... my husband wants to know what i am so scared of. i'm not entirely sure, but mostly i am freaked out that i'll fall & get really hurt - in which case, that means more time spent not running. so my husband says, the why don't i just quit the bike & concentrate on the running. when he sees i am considering this option, he says, jesus - reverse psychology doesn't work so well on you. i'm not hanging up the bike. if i could just tell my head to shut the hell up, i think i could be really good at it. so its just a challenge.

i thought it was a challenge between me & the bike ....
but now i know that its a challenge between me & me.

Jun 7, 2007

missing the bliss

my longest run in a month was today. 7 miles. on grass. i was a sloth.
the grass may as well have been 3 inches of mud. my back hurt.
the whole thing sort of sucked.
i long to be over this back issue.
i miss the bliss of running.
a runner friend who knew how much biking i've been doing lately asked if i got the same feeling on the bike as i do running.
no. not even close.
the bike is this thing i need to conquer ... the bike is the thing that is allowing me to keep my fitness up so i can get back to running. i love it - but there is no joy. maybe if i stopped being scared shitless for a minute some joy could eek in ...
but as of right now - its' not anywhere near the sheer, blissful joy i can get on a run ...
i feel like i am in detox (not that i've ever been there & not that there's anything wrong with that. it's just a metaphor.) & jonesing for a really good fix. i really really need a blissful run.

Jun 6, 2007

pool running ... who knew?

a month of little running and much trying to recover has come & gone ... i have been instructed to give it two more weeks of light, slow mileage. coach says we have plenty of time & he wants me to go till July on this light, slow mileage plan to ensure that i am fully healed and not dealing with any sort of pain once the really hard work of this marathon training begins.

so - the newest addition to my schedule is deep water pool running. 1 1/2 hours of pool running a week. 1 hour one day. 30 minutes another day.

i tested this out earlier in the week ... told the kids to play on the steps at the pool, swallowed my pride, because i was sure to look like a total dork with my just my head out of the water as i s-l-o-w-l-y made my way across - and plopped my bikini clad* self in a lane to give it a try before i had to do my official hour the next day. *note: not good pool running attire. any kid underwater with a pair of goggles on likely got an eyeful. not that there's much to eye. but still.

lets just say that the "testing of the waters" so to speak was less than stellar. my mantra? "he's insane, he's insane" ... referring to my coach - i thought he was out of his mind to think i was going to do it for an hour. i did it for 15 minutes & got out.

and of course - when i got home, i googled pool running. apparently, every minute of pool running equals a minute of regular road running. i smugly thought - yeah, right.

the next morning, i'm up at the butt crack of dawn to get a lane at the pool (also the added bonus here being that no one would really see my crazy self) ... i had secured myself a buddy to keep me company ... a runner friend who is 7 months pregnant & has put off running for the last trimester ... so there we are in the pool, running. we don't really know what we are doing - it takes a few laps to get some sort of rhythm ... and it is SLOW going ... but my heartrate is up. i didn't really know what to do with legs ... you are supposed to do exactly what you do on land ... but this is easier said than actually done. in hindsight - i think i wound up doing more of a scissor kick / cross country skiing thing.

whatever i was doing - i had absolutley no intention of sticking it out for the whole hour. (which is unusual for me - i follow my schedule to the millisecond of a mile. i do everything it says.)

but then, just as in running, when you say to yourself - i'll just do one more mile, or run to that tree, telephone pole, run for 5 more minutes ... i say, i'll just do one more lap, 5 more minutes - we'll tell another story ... then lo & behold, the hour is over ... we're done!

and because i still do not respect the pool running, i think its' a bit of a crock -- i just shower & go home to start my day. no stretching. nothing. as the day wore on - i felt the run. i felt like i ran 7 miles. only - my back didn't hurt. nothing hurt. it was just the nice, tired soreness of a run. a real run. only i did it in the pool. sheesh. who knew?

trial by fire

i bit the bullet & went on my first club ride yesterday. my cycling partners had gone on a couple of the club rides last week to test the waters; assess the group and see if i could hack it. and actually, my husband & i went on a ride last weekend & bumped into two women that he remembered from the ride -- we rode with them for a while & i realized for myself that i could totally hack it.

until that is - i got to the parking lot where everyone meets - at which time, i promptly wanted to throw up. the feeling of anxiety was not unlike my first big dog run. there were about 50 other riders decked out in snazzy bike duds. with snazzy bikes. and then there was me. runner girl trying to be a bike chick for a while. runner girl who can't even clip out of her pedals on time at every stop & has got the bruises & cuts all over her knees to prove it. in my bike shorts, with a running top on. on a 20 year old hand-me-down steel bike.

as an aside, i am looking at 20 year old steel bike as the equivalent to high-altitude training. i mean, jaysus - if i can get fast (eventually) on this old beast ... imagine what i can do when i get down to sea level on a snazzy, carbon somethingoranother bike.

so - ride starts, everyone heads out of parking lot ... i make my husband promise not to leave me .... so we're off & the 3 of us are in the back. i'll spare you the minutiae of every light ... there's a bunch of lights, a bunch of people in front, and i do just fine. we make it out to where we can really start to stretch out a bit & i feel more comfortable ... i hang way back - but am in the middle - there's another big group behind us ... at any rate, we get out to river road (this road parallels the ohio river & is so so so gorgeous) and i'm feeling more comfortable about making my way into pack more ... then i notice my friend paying a lot of attention to his back wheel - he's talking to my husband & there are weird hand signals going on about slowing down & having other riders pass us. i realized he had a flat - my husband was trying to get a tube out of his seat pack for him. th eother riders had passed us & i thought we had to sit on side of road to change a tire -- i thought my husband told me to stop. so i stopped. but what he said was to keep going. how i confused the two is beyond me because they sound nothing alike.

suffice it to say, we lost the group & proceeded on a 6 - 7 mile 22 mph CHASE to try & catch them. amazingly - we did catch the last two stragglers & kept going to see if we could catch the back group ... about 24 miles into this ride, we see the first (i.e shit-ass, crazy fast) group pass us going other way (it was an out & back course) ... we turn around in between this group & the slower group behind us. now - this is where it gets exciting. for me at least. that slower group behind us never caught us. so i am now in the middle group. i am the only chick. my husband says to the guys that its' my first time & i'll hang in the back. i am now in a pace line of 7 veteran riders & i am keeping up. we turn into a little neighborhoody area & there is a hill ... and I SMOKE THEM. ok ... granted, they rode farther than my husband & i ... and this was likely their "easy ride" day ... but i still went right by them all on the hill. my glory was very short lived because where there is an uphill, there are downhills ... and on the downhills - i f-ck up all my hard earned glory because i start to brake like a total wuss.

anyhow - we make it back home. in one piece. i didn't fall. i clipped in to pedals every time. i have a really big problem with the artificial gap that needs to be worked on (this problem deserves an entire post all its' own). i need to grow a pair. i did not cause any major 7 bike pile-up.

i had naively told my husband that i didn't think our 25 mile rides were doing it for me anymore. i felt i could handle more. i got more. i rode 33 miles and averaged 18 mph ... including a 7 mile 22 mph chase ... and i smoked a bunch of guys on a hill. i was drop dead exhausted when i got home. but i did it. i'm fairly proud of myself that i just jumped right in & gave it a try. i need to do a lot of work -- but the tuesday night rides are going to be my regular gig now. i am going to get over my issues & be good at this. all in good time.

Jun 3, 2007

closing in on a month ...

a month of barely running, that is.
so in the meantime - this is what i've been doing:
and loving every minute of it. (that's me in the middle there - on today's 25 mile ride)
the bike scared the shit out of me at one point in time ... that tiny seat, the pedals that you had to lock your shoes into, the traffic, the speed, the thought of road rash -- i am a worst case scenario girl & believe me - i could conjure up some ugly scenes while riding the bike ... me, in a ditch still locked into bike. me, flying through air smacking into a tree - never to run again. or worse. one might wonder how i can possibly enjoy a ride with these thoughts in my head ... but here's the thing: i couldn't run. if i couldn't run - i HAD to do something else ... it was complete serendipity that despite the crazy shit going on in my head about what could happen -- i actually found that i enjoy it. i really, really like it. the thing about worst case scenarios - is that they almost never happen & you are left with pleasant surprises. my pleasant surprise is that i have found this great thing i can do to cross train & keep my fitness level up & best of all i can enjoy doing it with my husband ...the fear is slipping away little by little. ok - key word here being little.

here's what i am good at: i can kick some serious ass in the hills ... in fact, i LOVE the hills ... i know there are hills out there that i have not encountered yet that would reduce me to tears ... but, until i meet them, head on - i like hills in that "i'll take some hills with my breakfast" sort of way.
i love the flats - feel like i can go for days & days & days and never stop ...
the downhills - a straight downhill - are slowing growing on me. in that, oooh - i get to go into my big ring, turbo-booster gear sort of way.

the thing that gets me? the place where i am always dropped? a turn. a measly turn. i start to panic about the bike skidding out from under me & wonder to what degree i am banking & i brake like a total wussy girl ... but i know i'll get over this. eventually ... right?

my husband says i need to learn to trust the bike and myself. he says the bike wants to stay upright. i have heard this before in different contexts ...

my husband and i met at flight school ... so our dates were always spent flying a little cessna 150 together ... we'd talk about flying & all that i was learning - i confessed to him that i was too scared to practice the stalls that my instructor wanted me to practice ... he said i needed to trust the plane ... because, inherently, it wanted to stay flying. it wasn't just going to fall out of the sky.
we had a sailboat when we lived on the coast of maine and would go 'sailing' frequently ... sailing in quotes, because i was too afraid to ever leave the harbor. i was terrified that we'd capsize ... he always told me that if i could fly a plane, i could sail a boat - imagine the sails were wings ... and, inherently, the boat wanted to stay upright ... it wasn't just going to go over.

do you see a pattern here? clearly, the common denominator here is me & my irrational fears. i really just need to conquer this fear of the bike & learn to trust it. and me on it. mostly, i think - i just need to trust myself. cause if i can do that - i can kick some ass.