Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Five: What's in Your Gym Bag?

Thank goodness it's Friday.  I won't lie - this week has been really challenging, and I'm looking forward to a weekend (even if it is also super busy and the opposite of relaxing!).  Yesterday was mostly a wash after getting my cortisone shot.  I did make it out to Curriculum Night at my daughter's school and to dinner, but then was violently ill after and am still shaky today.  More rest. Bright side, my hip is starting to hurt less, so perhaps this will all be worth it.  Today I'm joining up with the DC Trifecta's Friday Five Link-up for a topic that was too fun to not participate in - what's in your gym bag????

Short answer is: what's NOT in my gym bag?  Most of the time I think I could survive for weeks on the contents of this bag, although I invariably forget to pack one thing.  Usually it is related to work (I usually work out before, during, or after the work day, so... there ya go.  That's what Target is for).  SO beside the obvious (clothes, water, towels, etc.) I thought I'd pull some of the more esoteric stuff to show off:

1.  My Garmin 310xt GPS watch and HRM

I get very, VERY upset when this isn't in my bag and I can't properly track my workouts.  Like the tree falling in the forest, if the workout wasn't recorded, did it really happen??  I recently left my charger at work over the long holiday weekend and was without this setup for two whole days.  Longest two days of training ever.....

2.  Almonds

My go-to snack.  I can't do GUs or other high-energy gels because of my hypoglycemia (they make me very sick very fast), so I always keep a tupper of almonds for emergencies in my bag.  Before, after, or during.

3.  All the jewelry I've worn for the last week or more

I am disorganized in the respect.  I need a little jewelry pouch or something, because everything gets taken off, tossed, in and then four days later when I want to find those earrings again I can't.  And yes, that is a necklace of rubber bands my daughter made me.  Yes I wore it out in public - it looked darn good!

4.  Swim kit

Swimming is the hardest sport for me to squeeze into my routine, because it involves going to the pool (or a lake, which requires I coordinate with friends).  The gym/pool I train at is 30 minutes from my house, and 20 minutes from work.  So I keep my swim stuff with me at all times just in case a spare hour pops up (and it occasionally does!) to squeeze in a swim set on the way to or from work.  For me, this include a suit (not pictured), cap, lap counter, goggles, and tempo trainer (also not pictured).  The tempo trainer is a little gismo that you stick in your cap and beeps like a metronome.  It helps me stay focused and steady on long swims.  I don't swim with fins, pull buoys, or other stuff, as Total Immersion is much more focused on maintaining balance and form (and therefore efficiency) in the water as the means to become faster.  So my swim gear is quite simple.

5.  Emergency kit

This plastic bag was lovingly packed by my husband, who put together everything he thought I might need in case of gym-related or workout related crises.  I've got Imodium, leg cramp pills, first aid supplies, wipes to wash sweaty self off with, bee sting wipes, and usually some extra GU, ibuprofen and the occasional package of peanut M&Ms (which I tend to eat frequently, so again - not pictured).  It has come in handy more than once, as my antis to take me far and wide and into various odd situations, both medical and non-medical!

So that's my five!  What do you have in your gym bag?  Any ideas on what I'm missing??

What's on deck for your weekend??

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I've Been Shot!!

This morning was my appointment at the orthopedist for my hip pain.  The orthopedic surgeon's office is in a hospital.  I don't like hospitals.  This morning I couldn't decide what I was more nervous for - that they would put me off for more weeks before they would consider me eligible for a cortisone shot, or that they would actually give me one.  With a needle.  I don't like needles....

I'd reached the conclusion a while ago that something really did need to be done.  I struggled to even maintain poses in yoga last night.  Yoga for crying out loud!!!  Feel free to lose what little respect you may have had for me.  Back to the needle phobia - Childbirth?  If I must.  Lots of blood?  Sure.  Do a triathlon?  Bring it on!  Necropsy roadkill black bears?  No problem (yes, really - different era of life).  

But get a needle near me and whoawhaddayathinkyou'redoinggethatawayfromme!!!!!!!

The long story short is that the very nice PAC that saw me was quickly sympathetic to my two months of hip pain, my half marathon epic woes, and my Warrior Three turned into Falling Warrior poses in yoga class.  She quickly agreed that a shot to my right hip was the way to go, and breezily mentioned that I may also need one in my spine because of tenderness in my lower back (what? we'll cross that bridge later).  I told her I wasn't the best with needles.  She told me not to watch her prep the shot.... which was as long as my palm outstretched.  Yowsa.

Big needle.  Big big big big needle

I also casually asked, just before we got down to business... "so I have this race in a few days?"  

She fixed me with a very patient look usually reserved for tired parents of tantruming toddlers.  I quickly explained that I did get a runner to cover the run segment.  She agreed I can participate, but not to stress it or go hard on anything.  So no PRs for Greendale.  That's ok.  

My triathlon crew is also doing their final open water swim practice tonight at Indian Lake - the site of the race.  Again I tentatively ask, "So I'm pretty sure that open water swimming is out for tonight, right?"  Again the look.  Yes, swimming in a lake full of bacteria is out.  I'm pretty sure she mentally added, "You dumb*ss and don't anger the woman with the big needle".  That's ok.  I didn't really want to swim tonight anyway. (Don't tell my training partners). We agreed that wine and a campfire was a much better treatment option for tonight.

So yeah, the shot really hurt.  Like, really really I yelped in pain twice hurt.  Some people who have gotten them previously told me they weren't that bad.  They lied.  Do not believe these people.  I was also so dizzy after that I stayed at the hospital and ate lunch for a while before I felt steady enough to drive.  The dizziness has nothing to do with the actual cortisone, and everything to do with the fact that I'm kind of a pansy about these things.  But I'm am very glad that it has been done, and now hopefully I will start to get some relief and back on track.  I'll continue my PT exercise, since cortisone injections do not cure anything - they just mask pain.  I still have to address what caused this injury in the first place.

But in the meantime, I'm going to take it easy until Greendale on Sunday.

Also, since we are mourning the passing of the great Maya Angelou, I wanted to include on of my favorite quotes of hers, that seems particularly relevant to me at this time.....

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Needles and Motherhood

Apologies for the radio silence.  I've been caught up in work (oh, that....), the kids' end-of-school stuff, and my ever-annoying health stuff.  Looking over the last month or so of training, it would be pretty easy to get down on myself for not having the type of volume and quality I'd hoped for in the month leading up to my first triathlon of the season.  Heck, just the fact that I've finally admitted that I really, truly, cannot run a single step is a tough thing.  My total mileage for May is less than ten miles.  At the suggestion of my physical therapist, I got a runner (Spark's awesome sister) to run the final leg of this weekend's Greendale Sprint for me.  Even though it's only 2.5 miles (oh gawd).  When in doubt, hire a wicked fast blonde 29 year old to cover you!

Of course the irony is that, if I hadn't decided to run two half-marathons to become a stronger runner heading into triathlon season, I wouldn't be injured now.  At the beginning of triathlon season.  I go into the orthopedist tomorrow to hopefully get a cortisone shot and some relief, since at this point even sleep is evading me from pain.

Then there is the biking.  Not too many complaints in this arena, except that most of my rides have been sub-20 miles, as compared to the multi-hour 50/60/80 milers of many of my non-parental triathlon friends.  My reason for this are below.  They are such amazingly good little reasons I have zero regrets:

Biker buddy

This past weekend was Memorial Day - we got two new (to us) trail-a-bikes for the kids.  One day we tested them, then the next we took the whole family down to Rhode Island for a 20 mile ride along the East Bay Bike Path.  The kids did great.  It was a nice day, a pretty decent workout (resistance training - they don't always pedal!), and overall a day better spent than any century training ride I could have done.

Lunch near the sea

Then there is the swim.  I've been in the open water three times now.  Feeling good.  Feeling confident and calm, even if those swims have been shorter than I wanted.  Again, below are some reasons (and some of my fellow moms in training):

Open water with littles (Daddy was watching them)

I'ts pretty easy to view your life in terms of what you haven't accomplished.  Haven't done right.  The choices that in retrospect, weren't quite right.  But you know what?  While I don't consider myself 100% defined by my role as a mother, 

I take great comfort at looking at my happy, healthy, awesome little kiddos and thinking... I'm doing just fine.

4 days until race day!  Stay tuned for the recap, and possibly grisly medical posts involving long needles!

Have you ever done a triathlon as a relay???

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday - Bike Maintenance

Welcome to another edition of TriTalk Tuesday, my weekly link-up with Cynthia at You Signed Up For What and Courtney at The Trigirl Chronicles.  This week we are tackling a topic pretty near and dear to my heart - how to take care of your bike.  Why do I care so much?  Well, partially because my bikes (yes, plural) are some of my very favorite toys.  As I tell my kids on a near hourly basis, if you want to keep your toys you take care of them.  Growing up in a big biking family, there was always a lot of bike tinkering, bike washing, bike fixing, etc. going on.  At one point in his bachelorhood my older brother had ten bikes (mountain, cyclocross, road, fixer-uppers - they all had a purpose), the combined value of which was more than his car and all of his other worldly possessions.  My family all approved of this.  In fact, over the weekend I had eleven bike in my possession (one road bike and one mountain bike each for me and the Jedi, two too-small kid bikes, two correct-sized kid bikes, 2 trail-a-bikes, and my friend's bike).  I immediately texted my brother to brag that I had beat his record.  Ha!!  Ok but I'm getting off track here....

We teach bike maintenance at a young age

 1.  Keep your bike clean

That doesn't mean don't ride through puddles, etc. (doubly true for a mountain bike where mud is a sign of a bike being well played with).  What that means is make sure that you are washing down your bike on a regular basis.  If you have a bike stand like this one, great.  You can also use the rack of your car.  Hose it down, clean with mild soap and water, let dry.  The chain especially deserves extra attention, as the chain grease tends to trap grit and dust.  A dirty chain makes it hard to shift and is generally no good for the bike.  Soak it in a de-greaser (available at any bike store), let set, wipe off and relube with chain lube (also available at any bike store).  We recently got this little gizmo to clean our chains: the White Lightening Bike Chain Cleaner Kit.  Makes it so easy....  If you do use White Lightening be aware that it actually cleans while it lubricates, so let it dry for about 15-20 before you ride.  It'll flake off the junk as you ride and keep your chain cleaner.  No, I am not a spokesperson for White Lightening I just like it.....

Dirty chain --> White Lightening Cleaner Kit --> Happy Clean Chain!

 2.  Keep your tires properly pumped up

Again - my kids both know how to pump their tires.
We take this bizznus seriously

Another big one.  Riding on flat tires is not only bad for your bike, it's a lot harder on your muscles and can be really dangerous, especially for road and tri bikes.  Yet it amazes me how often riders (myself included) forget to check their tire pressure before heading out.  Know what kind of valves you have (Presta or Schrader), how to use them, make sure you have a standing pump (like the one in the picture above) to pump and measure your PSI, and carry a hand pump or CO2 cartridges.

3.  Don't ride cross-chained.

What that means is don't ride in the largest chain-ring on the front and largest gear on the back (or vice versa), such that your chain is diagonal and rubbing against your derailleur.  You'll hear your bike complaining.  Your bike has lots of gears for a reason - shift to a different one.  In a similar vein, if your bike is clicking away like someone stuck a playing card in your spokes and you are NOT cross chained, it's likely your front or rear derailleur needs to be adjusted back into alignment.  This is often an easy fix - tighten or loosen the screws in the derailleur with your multi-tool enough to move the cage back into alignment so the bike shifts smoothly.  You may need to play with it a little.

Me adjusting Gypsy's front derailleur during a recent ride

4.  Know how to fix a dropped chain BEFORE you get one

A dropped chain is the mechanical problem you're most likely to have in any ride.  It happened to me in my first triathlon and to my very deep embarrassment I had trouble remembering how to address the situation.  (I blame the brain cell that held that info being killed by lack of oxygen on the swim leg).  Check out this quick video then go try it yourself several times so you get the hang of it:

5.  Know how to fix a flat tire BEFORE you get one.

This is probably the second most likely problem to happen to you while out on a ride.  Whether you're in a race or just out on a long ride, it really stinks to have to call it quits.  Call the SAG wagon and have your bike split blown, or call your spouse for the walk of shame pick-up home.  So practice practice practice.  (And girls, if you haven't already done this to avoid ripping holes in your wetsuit, now is the time to cut your nails down short so you don't rip them off doing this).

The Cupcake Triathlete Family's Bike Repair Toolkit:

Italics means I carry it with me in saddlebag during races/training rides

  • Lotsa bikes.  Always want one more.....
  • Saddlebags in various sizes
  • Standing pump with pressure gauge
  • Hand pump for each bike (causal rides)
  • CO2 cartridges and applicator
  • Tire levers
  • Spare tubes, in correct size for bike
  • Patch kit
  • Multitool (we use the Alien brand but there are many)
  • Chain lube
  • Bike stand
  • Chain de-greaser
  • Handbar tape

If you are a family biker like me, I just have to plug that kids are never too young to start learning how to clean their own bikes, help pump tires, and generally take care of their two-wheel toys.  My kids have gone through a lot of bikes already (including the one that was left behind the car and driven over).  But it's a good skill to have.  You'll also get very good at fixing dropped chains while biking with children, and with cleaning chains, as kids will drop their bikes in sand chain-side-down faster than you can inhale to say "no!!!".  You may also become adept at adding streamers, horns, taking IPhone photos while biking (naughty), and keeping your balance while spinning in insanely low gears to pace your kiddo going 4 mph on his one-speed 12 inch bike.  If you're really crazy you will wear your Garmin and heart monitor while doing so and log in Training Peaks.  Dum dee dum dee dum.....  It's worth every mile.  Also, pulling bike trailers and most recently trail-a-bikes is fantastic resistance training.  Especially when your training buddy declines to pedal herself, and instead coasts the whole way and regales you with the full musical score of Frozen on your hour-long family ride.  I love my kids :)

So folks, dive in.  You own it, you ride it, now learn to take care of it.  The Bike Gods will punish you with flats and all other manner of difficulties when you least want them if you neglect your bike, and neglect to learn the skills necessary for basic fixes.  Also remember that your neighborhood bike mechanic is likely to be just about the friendliest guy you've ever met (heck, he works at a bike store of course he's happy!) and will be happy to tune up your ride and teach you anything else you need to know about it.  Don't be shy - get in there and get your hands dirty!

Do you talk triathlon on your blog? Link up with You Signed Up For WHAT?!The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles on Tuesdays for Tri Talk! We’ll discover a new theme each week and talk about triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Be sure to link to your specific post and not a general link to your blog so that your post can be found in the linkup archives. Links not triathlon-related will be deleted.  Since we all have races this coming weekend, next week's topic will be PRE-RACE JITTERS (COPING STRATEGIES, WHAT HAVE YOU...)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday - Goals of a Cupcake Triathlete

Happy spring Tuesday to everyone!  The sun is out, the weather is perfect for training (or barbecuing or sitting on decks, as you like it....) It's once again the day of the week to link up with Cynthia at You Signed Up For What? and Courtney at The Trigirl Chronicles  to continue our chats about all things triathlon-related.  We've previously discussed the swimthe bike, the run, transitions, and what to wear while doing all of these.  Now that's we are more or less settled covering the basics on how to do triathlon(ish), we thought we'd spend a week talking about GOALS.  How to set them, what yours are, what reasonable goals look like, etc.  We'd love for you to link up with us as well below - the more ambition the merrier!

When it comes to goal setting, I'm a fan of setting three series of goals.  Short-term, medium-term, and long-term.

  • Short-term - small goals that can be achieved in days or weeks.  Having these types of goals keeps you motivated on your path and allows you to measure and keep yourself accountable on a day-to-day basis.  Added up, these goals contribute to your larger goals.  Some examples of these types of goals might be smaller increments of weight loss (1-2 lbs a week for a month), getting up early x number of times in a week, or running a certain number of miles in a month.  These goals should be challenging, but attainable, lest you derail and depress yourself before you even get started.

  • Medium-term - goals that are achievable over the next several weeks or months, or within a training season.  These can be (but don't have to be) related to your "A" race for the year.  Examples could be increasing your bike speed 1-2 mph, lowering your stroke count per length, losing a more substantial amount of weight, or other larger fitness metrics.  Again, these should be reasonable and attainable.  If you start a training cycle as a 10:00 mile runner, it's not reasonable to expect to race a half-marathon at 8:00 minute miles at the end of a 16 week plan.  

  • Long-term - here is where you get to get a little nutty.  To dream big and throw out the really big "Mt. Everest" ideas.  What you'd like to do someday if there was nothing holding you back.  These may or may not ever be destined to happen to you, but if you never dream it, it is sure that you will never achieve it.

So getting personal, I will share my short, medium and long term goals as they stand right now:

Short term goals:

I have two races coming up - the Greendale YMCA sprint triathlon on June 1st, and the New England Trifest Olympic distance triathlon on June 29th.  I'm not quite where I had hoped I'd be going into these races, but I'm feeling pretty zen about things.  I've done some really good work towards short term goals so far this year.  Through my Total Immersion classes, I've become a more comfortable strong swimmer.  I've been getting in a lot of time on my bike.  I'm also past my recent bout of illness and feel pretty strong and ready to go.  So short term:

  • Push the bike speed up past 15 mph.  I'm not sure if it's the hills I train on or what, but no matter what I do or where I ride the darn Garmin seems to say average speed 14.5.  Always 14.5  Once it was 14.6.  God give me a flat course some day and I will crush that little 14.5.....
**Update before publishing Tuesday morning - my ride last night ended up at 15.9 mph.  Goal met.  This blog is self-fulfilling.  See what I mean about short term goals being attainable??**

  • Steady, smooth breathing in the cold cold open water!  I've done a couple of open water swims in the last week, and while they were fun, we were more acclimating than actually doing a lot of swimming.  Of course, I was the goofball that figured out if you put your SwimSafe buoy under your head it's like a pillow and you can relax and float, but I DO need to actually practice swimming in the open water now.  Such that when Greendale does roll around and I'm required to swim 1/2 mile in said water, I can do so in a calm, smooth, collected manner.  Without ordering "pond water-tinis".
Non-athletic Open Water "Swimming"
  • Depending on what my physical therapist and the orthopedist says about my hip(s) this week, I am hoping that I will have the fortitude to stuff my ego down the front of my sports bra and just walk the run leg of the Greendale sprint if necessary, and turn NE Trifest into an Aquabike.  This is a mental challenge.  One that I may very well fail at.  Especially since I have a ton of friends at Greendale with me, and there will almost certainly be a part of me that wants to prove something to them, random bystanders, and myself.  Of course, if the doctors say that I shouldn't be running at all, that thing that I'm proving will be that I'm a stubborn idiot....

Medium-term goals:

  • Related to the last bullet, I'd like to do whatever is needed for my hip to heal.  Honestly.  I hope that I will still be able to take my daughter running, and do the occasional 5K with friends, but if that is it, I am ok with that.  I'm at peace.  However, if I do start to be able to take on longer distances, I want to get into trail running more.  I love the woods and I should be playing more in my element instead of trying to keep up with my super speedy roadie friends.

My new studio
  • I'd like to establish a more regular, focused yoga practice.  I love yoga.  I'm just such a much better person when I do yoga on a regular basis.  I got a groupon for ten classes at a new (to me) local studio and I adore that place.  I've been twice in the last 4 days.  I feel calmer, my joints and muscles are less painful.  So much of my goals with triathlon are to calm my depression and anxiety - yoga does more for this than nearly anything else.  I need to talk to my coach about this goal, actually, as I don't know how to fit three 90 minute yoga classes into a full triathlon + life schedule.  But it might need to be done for my physical and mental health....

  • I'd like to try a stand-alone open water race.  Without the kerfuffle of the bike and run after.  I feel like it would help me focus my swimming in a new way and be enjoyable.  I'm not sure about ocean versus fresh water.  I have this gut feeling from all my scuba days of being pushed around by waves and currents that, if you are going to be in the ocean, you should be allowed the advantage of fins.  So I have some soul searching (and web surfing) to do towards this goal....
Long-term goals:

Ahh.... this is the good stuff.  You'll note a lack of triathlons so far on my list of goals.  I'm afraid you'll not find an Ironman here either.  That's because to me, triathlon is a process - a means to an end.  I enjoy the regimen of training, the structure and variety of the triathlete lifestyle, but a race isn't my finish line.  Whether it be because I'm just not that competitive in athletics (no one would accuse me of not being competitive in other aspects of life), or because I just can't wrap my mind around the training volume required for long-course triathlons, I just don't aspire to do them right now. 

What I do dream of is the day that my kids are off to college and the Jedi and I are on our own, not yet in our 50s, and still in great enough health to do all the things we dreamed of doing when we were younger.  Of being the silver haired couple that rides century charity rides together.  That hikes on the weekends.  Of being the older woman at the pool that swims three times a week because she truly enjoys it.  Of someday being free of the cloudy of anxiety that has followed me every day of my life since I had my first panic attack when I was 18 months old (my mother will attest to this).

Aside from those touchy-feely amorphous goals, I do have some "bucket list" goals.  The first one will be a sooner-rather than later goal:


  • The Pan-Mass Challenge.  The PMC is the mother of all charity rides in our area, benefiting the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. - while there are multiple routes and lengths available, some day I would love to do the 2 day route from Sturbridge to Provincetown.  111 miles one day, 81 the next.  Even tougher than getting ready for the ride itself is the fundraising needed to participate in the PMC - but someday I will make it happen!

  • Thru-hike the Long Trail in Vermont.  I wanted to do this before I had kids, but Mini-me made her entrance into the world before I had a chance.  Mini-me and I have talked about hiking the smaller MidState trail (that bisect Massachusetts) over the course of several weekends once her legs get just a little longer.  Maybe by the time I'm able to do the Long Trail she'll want to come with me for the whole length on her teenage legs.  Maybe?

View from the Long Trail
  • Maybe... maybe.... do a Half Ironman some day.  Maybe Timberman up in Vermont, or a destination race-cation with friends.  Maybe with Cynthia and Courtney?  This is in the dream world where I have the time in my life to train properly and my body isn't injured.  There could be a race in a place pretty enough with enough good friends, wine and chocolate to make me register.  It could happen....
Whatever set of goals you are pursuing, make sure that you take the time to look back and see how far you've come.  Always pushing forward and looking for the next challenge is great, but if you aren't enjoying the journey, and you don't appreciate where you've been, you are losing out on a lot of the value.  This weekend we visited my parents for their birthdays.  We used to live quite close to them.... the day brought us to a playground where we used to take the kids when they were small.  Watching the other parents there chase their toddlers around the mini-slides and push babies in the swings I remembered my days as a diaper-wielding, baby hoisting, sleep deprived mom of babies.  

The Jedi and I linked our fingers together, I rested my head on his shoulder and said, "Wow - we've come a long way together". 

And we have.  As parents and as people.  That is to be valued.

Stop and smell the flowers

Remember what is most important.

 Best wishes to all of you in pursuit of your goals, triathlon and otherwise.  Have a beautiful week!

Do you talk triathlon on your blog? Link up with You Signed Up For WHAT?!The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles on Tuesdays for Tri Talk! We’ll discover a new theme each week and talk about triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Be sure to link to your specific post and not a general link to your blog so that your post can be found in the linkup archives. Links not triathlon-related will be deleted.  Next week's topic will be Bike Maintenance, for you advanced planners!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Five: 5 Reasons to Include Yoga in Your Training

Happy Friday everyone!  This has been a super long week and I am thrilled that tomorrow is Saturday. I can't wait.  Phew.  In the meantime, I'm joining up with the Friday Five link-up hosted by Cynthia at You Signed Up for What, Mar at Mar on the Run, and Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC for this week's Friday Five topic - Five Reason to _____________!  Hmmm... Five reasons to sleep in... Five reasons to eat more chocolate.... Five reasons I really should get a pedicure.... getting off track here.  So I settled on: 

Five Reasons to Include Yoga in Any Training Plan

1.  It is the perfect counterpoint to endurance training.  High impact, repetitive activities like running and biking take a toll on your joints and muscles.  A regular yoga practice stretches and strengthens the muscles that support your other activities, increasing performance.

2.  Injury prevention.  This is a prime example of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do.  I try to do yoga on a regular basis.  However, I'm 100% confident that if I was better about it I wouldn't have nearly the number or severity of running-related injuries I do.  Tight muscles that are never released, imbalances in your muscles, weakness in your core - all of these lead to injury.  Yoga is a reset button that prepares your body to repeat your workout the next day.  Without the reset, these imbalances and tight spot build up and turn into injury.

3.  Peace of mind.  The meditative aspect of yoga is tremendously powerful.  I find a yoga class to be one of most calming activities in my weekly routine.  While there is something to be said for the endorphin-driven stress release of a hard workout, it's just not possible to always push it hard in order to de-stress.  At some point your body revolts.  Having a way to calm your mind while restoring your body instead further stressing it (physically) is a valuable tool to have in your arsenal.

4.  Building good habits.  Even if you are training for an IronMan, chances are you're only actively training 15-20 hours a week.  But you breath, sit, walk, and move around in your body 24/7.  Yoga teaches an awareness of your body, your posture, your breathing, and your mind that you can practice any time.  Sitting at your office desk, waiting for the train, getting ready for bed - you can "practice" yoga anywhere.  I've said it before - I'll say it again - It's all mental.  Yoga is very helpful for the mental aspect of training.

5.  Variety.  Did you know there are several kinds of yoga?  Power yoga offer quick transitions through poses for a tough strength workout while you build flexibility.  Bikram (hot) yoga is the same sequences in a specific order in a warm, de-toxifiying room.  Restorative yoga focuses on injury prevention.  Yoga for relaxation.  Yoga for runners (my favorite DVD).  Prenatal yoga.  Iyengar. Hatha.  So many kinds of yoga to try, and so many to use depending on what your body needs on a given day.  Moreover, while classes are ideal, there are a plethora of DVDs and free videos on various internet channels, so you can practice at home.  My most common practice space is my kids' playroom.  The biggest challenge there is getting them to clean it for Mommy.....

Do you do yoga?  What is your favorite kind?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dance Apocalyptic.... with Cake

Last night I had a [very rare] phone conversation with my friend and coach, which ended with him laughing saying, "Man I love your life" to which I replied, "I just can't WAIT until you have children".  You see, I called him in a "safe time" - on my drive home.  But he was dutifully pushing up a hill at 450 watts in Central Park like the good Ironman in training that he is, so by the time he returned my call, I had walked in the door at home and was fair game for The Children.

I haven't actually spoken on the phone to my coach in a very long time, so I picked up.  Which breaks one of my rules in life, which is that its really annoying to be on the phone with a parent who is simultaneously talking to you and their offspring at the same time.  I try not to, for the general cause of not being an a**hole to my friends.  Which, in truth, is why mothers text as their primary mode of communication.  We did manage a decent amount of conversation, even though I was putting a band-aid on my son's finger, laying out my daughter's outfit for her dance pictures, getting said daughter upstairs (a process), and telling her how to put on her outfit.

Me: "No underwear honey.  Don't ask - it's a dance thing"
Coach: "Ok - I guess I understand that".
Me: "I was talking to her not you.  You should understand not wearing underwear for athletic events".  Chuckles.  

I finally had to hang up when she put her tights on backwards and I realized I had about ten minutes to get her hair into a sock bun and her tutu-ed little behind into the car.  My regular readers will remember my earlier hairstyle related breakdown on the subject.....

Came out pretty good!

Anyway, I did get her coiffed, photographed, and transported to the next town without incident (she did great not touching or messing up her hair in the car, partially because she is awesome and partially because I ended every sentence I said to her with "and don't touch your hair!").  Once we got to her studio were were ushered into a very small, very hot, very chaotic room where dozens of other moms and their children worked together to get all the little heads in up-does, make up on, and complicated dance costumes tied (thank goodness my kid had an easy costume, if not easy hair) and into the photo room.  Phew.

The chaos of a mass swim start is nothing compared to picture day at little girl dance studio.....

Once home, we started the reverse process.... feed child, bath child, scrub makeup off child, scrub hairspray out of child's hair.... get child to bed.....

Only to remember that I was supposed to meet friends that night.  Oops.  Once again, I'm a bit of an a**hole.

A "Dance Apocalyptic" evening.  I love this song.  "You're not afraid to freak out!!!  You're not afraid to freak out......"  Indeed.

What's my point?  Well, that for all the reasons so eloquently and hysterically described in this article, being a parent of small children really does make you kind of a a**hole.  Or if you don't like that word, at least accept that it makes you truly incapable of doing everything, remembering everything, juggling everything, and doing it all well.  This absolutely impacts your training as well.  Or at least it sure does impact mine.  Even if I wasn't sick (which I am), and if I wasn't injured on running restriction (which I am), it is just really darn hard to pull off a consistent training schedule gracefully without sacrificing other areas of your life.

Side note:  I just heard my husband yell from downstairs: "Stop playing in the toilet!!  You're making a mess!"  See?  Parenting = crazy.

Can it be done?  Sure.  There are plenty of people out there who do it.  I'm a huge fan of reaching for big goals.  But I'm also a huge fan of balance and recognizing that's it ok to scale them back.  I have several friends who have downsized their tri goals this season in favor of new jobs, more family time, and frankly more sleep and sanity.  I realized several months ago that this was not the year for me to go for a long-course triathlon.  I'm now realizing that this may even be a year that just finishing my current races is all I can manage - forget getting faster or any time or power goals.  I am honestly ok with that.  Of course the irony is that if I hadn't done two HMs to get faster on the run, I'd probably still be able to run at all.... neither here nor there....

A coffee machine at my work had a "Well-being" button.
If only it were that simple!!!

Gosh Cupcake Triathlete - you scaled back your cupcake business, and now you're scaling back your triathlon stuff?  Really?  Why should we even read your blog?

I don't actually know
what this means....
Excellent question!!!  For which I don't have an answer.  Same reason my coach puts up with me - sheer entertainment value?  My adorable children?  That I often hurt myself in amusing ways?  My efforts to be honest and real?  If you want straight shots in inspiration there's tons of stuff on Pinterest.  Here's a good one for ya.....

And I'm not really scaling back on the tri stuff, just not leaping forward to take on anything huge or crazy anytime soon.  Plus getting an X-ray for my hip and some other boring stuff.  I know in my heart of hearts that staying active is my very best combat to the parental crazies, which is why yesterday I busted out of the office at lunch time for a quick walk to nearby conservation land for a trail run.

Ahhhh sweat and nature.... so much better.....

In an effort to hold your attention, I AM going to share the recipe for the amazing cake that I forced my husband to my husband made me for Mother's Day.  I'm not a big fan of frosting, so bundt cakes are some of my favorites.  This one is very flavorful and unique (butterscotch and coffee - sounds odd but sooo good)!!!  Originally from Bundt Classics by Nordic Ware:

Gather Round Pound Cake

  • 1 (6 oz) package butterscotch chips
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee or espresso
  • 1/4 c hot water
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 325.  Grease and flour a 10 or 12 cup Bundt pan.  Melt butterscotch chips with instant coffee powder and water; set aside.

In large mixing bowl, mix sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in buttermilk and butterscotch mixture.  Mix in all remaining ingredients.  Spoon into pan.

Bake at 325 for 55 to 6 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool ten minutes.  Remove from pan - cool complete on the rack and then dust with powdered sugar.

What is your favorite kind of cake?
Do you talk on the phone with your kids around?  Tell me stories.....

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday: For the Love of Spandex

It's Tuesday again, and I'm being a bad blogger.  Today is the day I should be linking up with Cynthia at You Signed Up For What and Courtney from The Trigirl Chronicles and telling you all about what to put on your body (and what NOT to put on and take off) for a triathlon.  But my friends, I am sick.  I feel really super dooper crummy.  Crawl home and under the covers crummy.  The only possible aspiration I can conceive of for between now and Tuesday (it's Monday afternoon as I type - these blogs don't write themselves!) is maybe watching Game of Thrones before I fall asleep.  Maybe my kids teeball practice.  Priorities.  So the girls very kindly gave me a pass for the week.  Thank you tri-friends!!!

Before I completely punk out, I'll share a couple of photos from over the weekend.  I've been feeling poorly for about a week now - I've had ups and downs, and in those ups, I did squeeze in a little bit of training.  I dug out my tri kit for a brick workout on Mother's Day:

"Tri kit" being my tri shorts (padded a little, but less than regular bike shorts), and spandex top. Single piece trisuits also exist - I prefer the two piece variety for ease of potty stops, etc.  It is really best if you just convince yourself you rock the spandex look early on in your triathlon career, even if it isn't true. 

Just own it.  You got it. You were MADE for this look.

(Side note: existing on Gatorade and crackers for a week or more makes your tri kit fit better, but your training suffer.  I don't recommend it).  

Gil and I test the waters

I also got to play with my new (to me) full-sleeve wetsuit over the weekend.  (This goes on OVER your trisuit, by the way.  Then you take off the wetsuit and continue with race wearing just the trisuit).  First open water swim of the season.  Which, since in New England, the water temps have just barely broken 60 degrees, makes me a badass.  And it's good to be a badass every once in a while when you're not feeling well.

I will now head to bed and refer you back into the very capable (and way more informative) hands of Cynthia, Courtney, and all our linkers below.  Have a great week!

Do you talk triathlon on your blog? Link up with You Signed Up For WHAT?!The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles on Tuesdays for Tri Talk! We’ll discover a new theme each week and talk about triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Be sure to link to your specific post and not a general link to your blog so that your post can be found in the linkup archives. Links not triathlon-related will be deleted.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What I Really Want for Mother's Day

Ahhh... Mother's Day.  T-minus three days.  Technically I don't get to answer this question, since I already bought the following items for myself and informed my family that they were for Mother's Day:

  • My Garmin 310XT training watch (clearly needed)
  • A Vera Bradley computer bag (also a training expense - was lighter than the monster bag work gave me which was aggravating my hip)
  • A full wetsuit (water temps are still in the 50s here and my first race is in 3 week.  Brrrrr.....)

But if I WERE to get to ask for anything else for Mother's Day, this would be my list.  A girl can dream, right?

1.  My own theme music

This one is already kind of a gimme, since for the last couple of days my little girl has been singing a modified version of this whenever I come in the room.  "Mommy is awesome!!!  Everything is cool when you're on Mommy's team!!"  So far I still think it's adorable.  It might be starting to wear on the Jedi's nerves.....  oh well.  I like it.  For now...

2.  The ENTIRE bed to myself

The other night the Jedi jokingly asked me if I wanted him to sleep on the couch so I could get a good nights rest.  I said yes.  Sadly he didn't get that I wasn't joking in return.  I haven't been sleeping well lately, mostly due to pain and my furry companions that insist that I am some sort of extra full body pillow for them to lay on top of.  Ugh.  Which brings me to my next wish...

3.  My toenail back!!!!

For the last several week my hips have been causing me a lot of pain.  The meds I've been taking have exacerbated my migraines - more pain.  I finally saw the doctor yesterday about all of this hot mess.  He gave me some new treatments for migraine that are so far working.  He also diagnosed acute greater trochanter bursitis in both hips from overuse running.  I'm seeing a orthopedist and considering a cortisone shot.  Oh and by the way no running for a while.  Which is great since I have that Oly coming up... sigh....

I have a serious bone to pick with the sport of running.  I am a biker by nature.  I have been biking for years and years.  Biking has never caused me so many injuries that I've spent hundreds of dollars in medical tests, physical therapy, and treatments.  It's never caused me to become dependent on pain medication.  It's never caused me to stop in the middle of a workout to go #2 in the woods.  And it's never caused my toenail to fall off!  This happened last night right before I went out on my evening ride and I very nearly lost it.  I'm going to start shedding parts of my body like a leper now, too??  This is the last straw.  

I would very much like it if all my running friends would instant convert over to biking friends.  Also, all triathlons shall now take on the format of "Swim, Bike, and More Bike".

4.  A whole day completely ALONE with no agenda

My kids schedule (mostly) - stolen from my friend's house
 This should be self explanatory.  If not, see the above - the kid's schedule.  Then add my work schedule and deliverables, and my training schedule and deliverables.  Add making dinner and answering the 500 zillion questions my kids ask a day and the dozens of requests for hugs and kisses and play-with-mes etc.  Alone, please.  Don't touch me.  No agenda.

5.  A whole day to spend with my kids

Yes, I can want this and #4 simultaneously.  As a working mom, I don't get enough time with them.  And they are such great kids.

In reality, probably none of these will happen.  At least not this weekend.   That is ok.  So for now, let me say a huge Congratulations and Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing moms that I know (including my own!).  Let's all recognize each other and ourselves for all the good work with do raising our kiddos.  Maybe, just maybe, we'll steal some time for ourselves this weekend....

What do you want for Mother's Day?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday: Transition Translation

Holy Moses it's Tuesday AGAIN!  I'm not quite sure how that happened, but it is once again to link up with Cynthia at You Signed Up For What? and Courtney at The Trigirl Chronicles (and all of our lovely linkers below) to continue our chats about all things triathlon-related.  We've previously discussed the swim, the bike, and the run, so it naturally follows that this week we are discussing transitions.  For those advanced planners among you, next week's theme will be What to Wear (in a triathlon... hopefully that was obvious...)

One of the most comment questions I got as a newbie triathlete causally mentioning (or shaking-in-my-boots craving advice) to more experienced folks that I was racing was, "Did you practice your transitions?".  Before I started, I joked with my coach (who was just my friend at the time), that I was planning on taking a few deep breaths, maybe high five-ing my friends... perhaps downing a beer and cheeseburger in between the race elements.  Well, it turns out that the time it takes you in between the events counts too.  Therefore, serious triathletes all get very, very particular and opinionated about their transitions.  

Most athletes have an exact order of what they do when, an exact placement of each relevant item on their transition mat, and practice the transition over and over again until it's in muscle memory.  Coming out of the water or off the bike, your adrenaline is through the roof,  you may be dehydrated, be low on fuel, and many major muscle groups might be threatening to fail.  Along with higher motor functions like balance and coordination.  Your brain should not have any role in transition - you should just do it.

Good motto for transitions

The majority of triathlons are organized as first swim, then bike, then run.  There are 2 transitions.  The first, T1, is between the swim and bike.  The second, T2 is between the bike and run.  All of your mental prep should happen before your race.  This is the time to embrace your inner (or outer) control freak and make a list.  Check your list.  Check it again.  Lay out all of your stuff as you would in the race.  Practice T1.  Practice T2.  Repeat until your spouse yells at you to stop being a weirdo, turn out the light and come to bed already.  Then repack all your stuff.  Check that it made it into the bag.  Repeat. And repeat.....

I'm sure that others will be sharing their best practices for what to pack, how to lay things out, etc.  I am going to focus on some simple dos and many don'ts that I learned by experience.  Considering I've only actually raced three triathlons to date, I have a surprising amount of what NOT to do stories to draw on....

1.  Don't get nekked.

Seriously folks.  We'll talk more about what proper attire for a race is next week, but for now... take my word and do not show any of your goods in during transition.  The only possible excuse for traumatizing fellow racers is a Janet Jackson-style wardrobe malfunction.  Which, if you are properly sausaged into your spandex, should be hard to do.  To be clear, this one is not from first-person experience, but from unfortunate bystander experience....

2.  Don't be a space hog

Limit your transition area to a small towel.  Small.  Not bath towel.  If you get there early enough to get the end spot, huzzah and you can take a bit more space.  Otherwise be respectful of other racers and don't squeeze your bike into the rack where there isn't enough space, or spread your belongings out as though you are camping.  Violators will be subject to malicious reorganizing of their stuff (see above as to why this is bad) and/or slashing of bike tires.  It's only fair.

3.  When in doubt, snoop

If you're not sure what the etiquette is (assigned spots or free-for-all), or just how to do something, ask!  Or look around to see what others are doing.  It is perfectly acceptable to do so.  Most people will be happy to help you set up and offer some words of encouragement and advice.  And if they do not, see the consequences permissible in #2.

4.  Practice EVERYTHING beforehand

You'll read and hear all sorts of slick solutions to transition.  5 gallon buckets to sit on.  Extra water bottles to wash your feet.  Cool ways to roll your socks so they go on .3 seconds faster.  I tried that last one without practicing.  The result - I rolled my sock on one foot, realized it was upside down.  Fell over trying to fix it. Got it off and then on the correct way.  Repeated the entire process on the other foot.  Fail.  I'd have been much better off just putting socks on the normal way.  Anxiety makes you do crazy things.  Like triathlons....

Racking my bike in T2

5.  Have a sense of humor.

Beauty and grace may not follow you into transition.  That's ok.  Make sure you have friends and family there to take silly pictures.

Swim out

 5.  Go in order. 

I like to do everything from top to bottom.  Goggles and cap off, strip to waist.  Run to T1.  Wetsuit off.  Helmet on, sunglasses on, bike shoes on, go.  Top to bottom.  Similarly, in T2 after unclipping and running my bike to my spot, helmet off, sunglasses back on, shoes off, socks on, running shoes on.  Top to bottom.

Oh wait, I said I wasn't going to share my particular line up.  Just proves my point about people being very opinionated about the "right" way to transition....

My all-time favorite picture.  Talk to the hand!  Run out!

6.  Practice EVERYTHING beforehand.

Yep.  Just to reiterate.  Your transition time might not make or break your race, but forgetting your GU or socks, or doing something that disqualifies you like not taking off your helmet out of T2 can ruin your race. (Actually I don't know if that would DQ you, but you'd sure feel silly and have to go back).  Similarly, not properly slowing and unclipping into T2 is just plain dangerous.  So practice those critical few moments to make the rest of the race the best it can be.

Do you talk triathlon on your blog? Link up with You Signed Up For WHAT?!The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles on Tuesdays for Tri Talk! We’ll discover a new theme each week and talk about triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Be sure to link to your specific post and not a general link to your blog so that your post can be found in the linkup archives. Links not triathlon-related will be deleted.  Also, please link posts that are on topic for each week's theme.  Ex. this week is transition.  Next week is What to Wear.  Thanks!