The Pool

It's like a treadmill, but there is no place to put your music or magazine.

It’s like a treadmill, but there is no place to put your music or magazine.

When most people think of a pool they probably think about relaxing with a magazine on a lounge chair while soaking up warm rays from the sun.  There are some people who don’t even get into the pool.  They don’t want to get wet because it might ruin their makeup or damage their hair.  Well, I know that is not the case for any of my mommy friends with young children because when they go to the pool they have to make the committment to actually get in the pool.  Lounging is not even an option.

Well, for me, lounging is definitely not an option even when I go to the pool alone.  It does feel odd to go to the pool alone, but I do it quite often now.  My kids get jealous when I tell them that I have to go to the pool.  I use the words “have to” in order to make it clear that it will not be as fun as it sounds.  I don’t wear a fancy swimsuit, carry a cute little tote or grab magazines on my way out.  I wear my black, boring one-piece with my cheap black flip-flops and use the coarse towels that the gym provides.  As I walk into the facility, I look longingly at the mommies who are splashing around with their kids in the little pool.  Then I think about the peace and quiet I will have for the next hour.

As I get in and swim my first lap I realize that it’s a bit too peaceful and quiet for my liking.  Not only that, but it is nearly impossible to get your heart rate up when you are working out in a prone position and I am definitely not sweating.  I never feel like I am working out when I am swimming.  Yet, I know it is a necessity.  Something I have to do in order to achieve my triathlon goals.

I just wish I were good at it.  That is my challenge.  I don’t know what I am doing.  I just flop around like a fish who is missing its fins.  My head sticks up too high and my legs hang down too low.  My body zigs and zags down the lane as my mouth collects gallons of chlorinated water.  I do feel like I am getting somewhere… just very, very slowly.  I started swimming pretty regularly nearly a year ago and I still haven’t gotten the hang of it.  It didn’t take me that long to improve my running.  It is very frustrating, but I know that I need to do some research in order to get it done right.  Either that or find someone willing to teach me.

I think a lot of people like to swim because it is calm and relaxing.  I find it rather boring.  I try to daydream when I swim, but then I kind of lose focus on my already poor form.  Lately, I have been trying to make it fun by doing sprints.  I usually end up gulping down more pool water, but I do think that it helps me swim with better form.

Yesterday was a rather interesting day at the pool.  I am not a big fan of sharing a lane with others (I know, I have lots of complaints about the pool) so I always try to go during non-peak hours.  This time I decided to try 8:30 PM because I expected it to nearly empty.  Boy, was I very wrong.  There were more people in there than I had ever seen before.  Lots of teenagers who were obviously swimming with a club or team.  After about 5 minutes of swimming alone, someone asked to share a lane with me and of course I obliged.  5 minutes later 3 people got into the lane, but they weren’t moving.  When I asked them what they were doing one woman responded and said that she was teaching the other two how to swim.  Okaaaaay… so I basically just nodded and asked the guy in the next lane over if I could share his lane.  That made 3 in one lane.  Then a fourth came over.  Now I was in a lane swimming with 3 young guys who obviously knew how to swim better and faster than me.  I was sprinting at that point.  As I turned (um, not a flip turn) in the deep end I would see them right behind me.  As I approached the shallow end I always considered stopping to let them pass, but then they would be 10 yards behind me.  I think it was because they rested at the deep end.  I don’t know, but time sure did fly by!  The next thing I know there were only 2 of us left and I think the dude was thankful to have his own side of the lane so he could cruise at the speed of lightning.

One good thing about swimming with a group: it is a more realistic training environment.  I was getting pummeled with waves and had to be very observant of where I was going, who was in front of me and who was behind me.  However, I do still enjoy being in my own lane all by myself… even if it is rather boring.

Winter Cycling

Snow or no snow?  That is the question...

Snow or no snow? That is the question…

Yesterday was the first time I had taken my bike outside with snow still visible on the ground.  If the freezing temperatures aren’t enough to scare me off, then the ice usually does.  After being on the bike trainer for a couple of weeks I was starting to get cycling cabin fever.  However, it’s one thing to gear up and go for a run… riding a bike drops the temperature another 10-20 degrees thanks to the wind chill.

Sure, I was excited about our white Christmas and I sure do love sledding on fresh snow with my girls or skiing the slopes with my husband.  Yet, part of me wants this snow stuff to go away.  I’m kind of torn.  I love snow, but I also enjoy riding my bike outside.  If I were training for a snowshoe race or a downhill skiing competition then I would obviously thrive on the snow, but a triathlon involves swimming, cycling and running.  Thinking about getting into the pool when my toes are frozen due to the walk from the car to the gym is a bit daunting.  Putting on loads of gear to head out for a quick 4-mile run just sounds like a lot of work.  Cycling into the wind and freezing your face off is just unthinkable.

Yesterday an opportunity was laid out before me.  Weather.com was predicting highs in the upper 40’s with minimal wind.  I usually take the weather report with a grain of salt, but I figured that I should at least give it a try.  I loaded up the bike in the car before heading to work at the fun hour of 4:30 AM.  Six hours later I was at the gym.   As I walked across the parking lot I felt a chill in the air.  40 degrees?  Whatever.  I only hoped that it would warm up by the time I finished my swim.  After getting out of the pool and walking into the freezing locker room, I began to wonder whether or not I would chicken out and head home to the trainer.  The hot shower changed my mind.  I proceeded to dry off completely, including my hair.  There was no way I was getting on that bike with wet hair.

A few minutes later I walked out into the bright sunshine.  It felt so good beaming down on me.  I realized that now was my chance.  I went to the car and analyzed my gear options.  Should I just wear a long-sleeve shirt or should I put on a wind resistant jacket?  Should I wear a hat?  Do I need an extra fleece?  I decided not to be too confident because the temperature always drops as soon as you start pedaling.  I opted for the long pants over my biking shorts, the long-sleeve shirt with the jacket and my gloves.  I put my hat in my pocket just in case.  I was thankful for my gear selection as soon as I started pedaling.

It didn’t take long to warm up and I felt so exhilerated to be outside on such a beautiful day!  All of the sand and rocks on the road were a bit of a bummer, but I didn’t see any patches of ice on the main roads.  It was kind of ironic to be riding past fields of snow on such a warm day.  I became so confident about not running into any ice that I had to make an abrupt stop on a neighborhood street when I came upon a large patch of ice that stretched across the entire road.  It was in the shade of a large pine tree so it wasn’t planning to melt any time soon.  I unclipped from my bike and slowly walked my bike across the patch nearly slipping as I did so.  After that I became more observant of where I was going (which I should probably do anyway).  At one point I decided to take one my old trails.  I couldn’t ride as fast as usual because I was concerned that an unexpected patch of ice would be around every corner.  I encountered one along the path and then came to a patch so large that I decided just to turn around and stick with the roads.

Now I am looking forward to my next ride, but I am not sure when the opportunity will arise again.  This weekend it is supposed to dip back down into the single digits.  I just wish this weather would make up its mind!

I love running and I hate it too…

 

As shown here, I am usually prepared for cold weather.  Not Today.

As shown here, I am usually prepared for cold weather. Not Today.

Today I loved running.  And then I hated it.  And then I loved it again.  And then I hated it.  Fortunately, we managed to end on a good note (only because it was the end and that meant coffee).

 

 

I woke up early.  As usual.  On a Saturday.  You know, when the rest of the normal world is still asleep.  Good thing my running group doesn’t consist of normal people.  I didn’t wake up as early as I had planned.  Yes, it appears that I actually slacked a bit today.  I was planning to run 2 miles before meeting up with the group so I could make sure that my total mileage added up to 10.  Anyway, I did get up in time to meet the group.  Because when I say I am going to be somewhere, then I am there (even if I don’t want to be).

 

I rolled out of bed and put on my running clothes.  I knew without a doubt that I would need the below 40 degree pants (I’m starting to think that I should invest in a pair of below freezing pants) and my fleece lined long-sleeve shirt.  I thought that maybe I might need an extra fleece so I grabbed one just in case.  Yeah, that was definitely a good idea.

 

As soon as I stepped out of the car I wished I was back home in bed.  As soon as I started running I hated running.  The wind chill must have been below single digits (try putting a negative sign in front of a single digit).  My face became so numb that I had trouble speaking (and of course I didn’t think I would need a face mask).  Then there was the matter of my fingers.  Where were they?  How come I couldn’t feel them?  Oh, wait a second, I am feeling some pain now.

 

Then we turned around.  Did I mention that I love running?  I was chatting with my running group and picking up the pace.  It was a great time.

 

Then the group was finished and I had to do my extra 2 miles.  The wind was still at my back, but my stomach was somewhere else.  It was in a world of hurt.  I had to stop.  Then I knew I had to find a bathroom.  FAST.  Yet, I couldn’t go fast.  I couldn’t even run.  I hated running anyway so what did it matter?  I managed to get to the bathroom, but my stomach never really recovered for the last mile.  It was a painful last mile.  It was NOT FUN.

 

Then it was over.  My stomach could relax and I could fill it with some nice hot coffee.  As soon as I sat down in the coffee shop with my running group I was one happy runner.  I had finished my 10 miles as planned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bikes, pools & weights oh my!

It is not as fun as it looks... but it can be made more fun with episodes of 24 or a good magazine.

It is not as fun as it looks… but it can be made more fun with episodes of 24 or a good magazine.

I was a bit disoriented when my alarm went off.  Now why was I getting up at 6:30 AM when I didn’t have to take any kids to school or be at work until 1:00 PM?  The confusion lasted a minute before I realized that I had agreed to meet my friend at the pool at 8:00 AM.  Well, it sure as heck doesn’t take an hour and a half to drive to the YMCA. Oh, that’s right.  I had made a plan to ride on my bike trainer for 30 minutes before going to the pool.  I laid there for a minute and realized that I should either drag my butt out of bed or just set the alarm for an hour later.  Sleep seemed like the logical choice, but I don’t always listen to logic.

It is that damn competition.  I don’t even know why I am bothering because there are people who are supposedly doing 4 workouts per day.  How can I compete with that?  I have 3 kids and a job!  Okay, I suppose I could do 4 workouts a day at a half an hour each because that adds up to 2 hours.  I already spend 2 hours working out per day.  However, I am focused on my 1/2 Ironman training.  That means I need to focus on cycling, swimming and running (well, weight training is also a necessity).  I just named 4 possible workouts, but the thing is that I need to have quality workouts.  A 1/2 hour on the treadmill is not quality.  I am just going to have to pass over quantity for the more desired quality.

Well, that doesn’t stop me from being competitive.  I will still give it my best shot.  That is why I got up early to go for a ride on the bike.  Even though it wasn’t a quality workout, I figured it was better than laying in bed doing nothing.  At least I indulged in some quality time with Runner’s World.  So after my half an hour was up I hopped off the bike, changed into my swimsuit and headed out the door.  Then it was an hour in the pool.  That was my long swim for the week so there was definitely some quality involved.  I debated whether or not to go home, but then decided that I should just stick with my plan to weight train.  Once again (after a quick shower) I had to change my clothes.  Jeez, the laundry pile in my house is ridiculous.  It would make sense to lift weights before swimming so that I don’t have to take 2 showers, but I would probably drown because I wouldn’t be able to move my arms and legs.  I spent some quality time with the weights (a nice 45 minute workout).  I even tried to save some body parts for tomorrow so I can do another workout in addition to my long run.  Okay, maybe this is going to be more painful than I need it to be.  Stupid competition.  I can’t wait for March Madness because that competition is based on the amount of time that you spend working out.  Maybe then I will have a chance.

Let the Training Begin!

Kiefer and I wll be cycling buddies for the next 24 X 8 hours!

Kiefer and I wll be cycling buddies for the next 24 X 8 hours!

I was kind of a lump on a log during the holidays.  Okay, maybe I was still pretty active, but not as active as I usually am.  I went 2 days in a row without working out and it really bothered me.  Thanks to the damn stairs I nearly broke my toe, but I am pretty sure it was either just a sprain or a ligament tear…. still not really sure, but it doesn’t hurt.  It just looks ugly.  Well, I guess my toes have always been ugly so this doesn’t make much of a difference.

It just so happens that December 31st (of our dearly beloved 2012) was the start of my official 1/2 Ironman Training.  It kind of worked out with it being at the start of the year.  It is almost like I am in with the Resolution crowd.  Okay, not really.  Working out is nothing new to me.  The only thing that’s different is now I just need to have it planned out and stick with the plan.  Fortunately I am being helped along with a little competition.  Oh yes, I love competitions.  It is the Jammin’ January Challenge.  Whoever completes the most workouts in the entire month wins!  I’m all over this!  Bring it!  That is the only reason why I got up extra early this morning to make sure I could squeeze in a swim workout AND some weight training before work.

I have my little plan written down on a calendar.  Okay, okay, I have yet to do exactly what the plan says.  I have already switched days around, but next week this family will be back to a normal routine.  You know, school and after school activities…. all of that fun stuff that keeps you busy.  I will have my scheduled gym days and my scheduled free time when the hubby is watching the kids.  It will be scheduled… since schedules never change.  Ever.  Yes, I will laugh at that.  We are a military family.  However, we are not very military-like these days because my husband just goes to school.  Whoa!  He has a normal schedule folks!  That is unbelievable!  Okay, maybe this will work.  A schedule and a plan.  I got this!

So, my basement is ready for me.  Basements are scary, I know.  I have learned to sort of like our basement.  Sure, it is creepy, but at least there is a window.  Well, the window is only a hole with a view of the dirt, but at least some light comes in.  The scariest part is the crawl space that is closed off with a curtain.  I don’t like to look under there.  Crawl spaces definitely creep me out.  So today my husband (with some help from me) hoisted the treadmill from our room on the very top floor all the way down to the basement.  You see, I made the mistake of having the movers put it in the bedroom.  It was too late to change my mind when I saw it in the room.  That would’ve pissed them off and they would have taken more than our folder of DVD’s and my very special candle (where else could that freakin’ candle be??).  Maybe they were planning a hot date with a movie and a candle.  Oh, and a stepstool.  We are missing our stepstool.

Anyway, back to the treadmill.  It just made more sense to put it in the basement.  So, after 6 months it is finally in the basement.  I don’t have to run on it and worry that I am going to fall on my kids who might be sitting downstairs in the living room.  Okay, I rarely use the treadmill, but those single digit temperatures at 6:00 AM might entice me to use it more often.  Now the glorious treadmill is sitting right next to my bike trainer.  At least it was.  My husband is back down there moving things around to my liking.  He asked me for my opinion without realizing that I would actually give it to him.  In front of the bike trainer and the treadmill will be a very old t.v…. one of the ones that actually looks like a box.  However, I will probably be bringing down my laptop so I can watch the entire 24 series all over again.  And trust me, I will get through all 8 seasons of 24.  My butt will get sore in the process, but that is better than getting a sore bottom from sitting on the couch.

Week 1 is almost complete.  Nevermind.  I just realized I still have a long ride and a long run to do before the week is over.  Oh, and a long swim (even though the definition of a “long swim” is only about an hour, that is still a heck of a long time to swim in circles without music or something to look at).  This is going to be a long 20 weeks, but it will be worth it in the end!  Sure, some people think that is just crazy.  Do I care? Nope.