And the Training Months Tick By…July and mid-August Recap

Hmm. It’s been an interesting month. I don’t have a lot of time to go into too much detail about what’s been going on, but let’s recap:

 

-I went on a weeklong vacation to Waikiki with Erik. By day we hiked, ran, snorkeled, swam, surfed, boogey boarded, and by night we hopped skipped karaoke bars.
-I acquired two gnarly quarter-sized blisters on the bottom of both of my feet that prevented me from racing in Seafair.
-I rejiggered my tri training schedule (rather unsuccessfully) and my marathon training schedule (successfully).
-I’ve added P90X3 to my training repertoire and have been loving it! It’s been helping me a lot with my cardio output on my runs, and strengthening a lot of weak spots in my legs. Reminds me of when I was training with a personal trainer. I’m looking forward to adding some more Team Beachbody DVDs to my collection. They are intense but great!
-I finished out my first semester of grad school. There were tears and fussy nights, but I did it.
-Things at work are moving along.
-Bought a new mountain bike (taking it to Duthie Hill tomorrow with Alex!)
-Trying to get down to race weight on my old two gigantic salads a day diet (with tons of protein and snacks in between).
-I invested in way too many blender bottles.
-I keep exercising my control muscles. Look at all that candy at the office!
-I’m finalizing plans for my awesome ski trip to Niseko next February. Japow hereeeeee I come!

I’m still training for the Portland Marathon in October. I also have three sprint tris coming up in three consecutive weekends starting next Saturday. And still planning on a HITS triathlon in Palm Springs in December but I’m still majorly undecided as to which distance. I’m pretty sure I can pull a half IM again if I really focus on cycling and running (and I guess swimming too) after the marathon. Regardless, here’s my training plan for the next 1.5 months:

So, essentially life is full of work, grad school(s), training, fundraising, eating, and sleeping. And not much else. Until next time!

Week 4+5 Seafair Sprint Tri Training: Just Show Up

It seems like the weeks just zoom on by. Less than a month to Hawaii…and a month and a few days until Seafair. Oy vey! I’ve been pushing the distances a bit, presumably testing to see if I could even be ready for the Olympic distance instead of a sprint. I think it’d be a really big stretch but I think it’s possible. Should I go for the sprint distance still? Or upgrade to the Olympic? These are the thoughts that plague me. Small potatoes. I can’t even seem to get any swims in, so maybe an Olympic is still too ambitious. Maybe this week I could focus on getting more swims in. Who knows? What does it matter? Why can’t I just swim/bike/run? I like hiking so much. Can I substitute my long runs with long hikes? I’m just conditioning my legs right? (The answer is wrong, by the way.)

The theme of my last few weeks is ‘Just show up.’ I guess that’s pretty similar to ‘Just do it’ but there’s a different sentiment to it. A few years ago I took a meditation class and the lesson for us that day was that you could effect a pretty big shift in dynamics by just showing up. Your mere presence can make a difference to someone else. Or sometimes, all you have to do is just show up for yourself — as is the mentality with my training. I’m showing up to reach my goals, incrementally.

Today was one of those days where that lesson of ‘Just show up’ reared its head. I was laying in bed last night (Saturday evening) and browsing a local triathlon meetup group here in town. I’ve been feeling a bit blas√© about cycling lately (nothing less than 15 miles is worth getting dressed for….?) so I wanted a change…I wanted to ride outside instead of riding on my trainer, which has been getting incredibly boring. I knew that I was too caught up in my head about cycling in the city ever since Ron’s accident, so I decided to follow a route I saw on meetup just south of Seattle. I got everything prepped, set my GPS, and headed out on my adventure of the day.

On the ride, I thought a lot about my reticence to ride outside more often. I thought a lot about how silly it was to think I could forget how to use my clipless pedals. (Turns out that I still remember how to use them!) It felt great having the wind in my face and it was a beautiful day out. However, the trail was eerily quiet. I remember seeing that there was a 50% chance of thunderstorms and figured that I would just chance it. Only chumps stay at home, right?! It was pretty nice for the first third of the ride. I saw a group of long-haired touring cyclists on the road with panniers and sleeping bags. I envied their lack of compression gear and clipless pedals and the way their hair flowed in the wind with a touch of “I don’t give a fuck.” It was nice. We exchanged pleasantries on and off as we passed each other and took breaks. I thought a lot about forgetting my RoadID and riding across railroad tracks. Always perpendicular, never parallel. I’ve seen too many cyclists crash on rainy days in Seattle and I’ve done my fair share of reading about riding in wet weather.

A few sprinkles came down. Didn’t seem like a big deal. My jacket was waterproof. I would actually tag it as water resistant at best, because when someone turned on the firehose I was soaked TO THE BONE. I knew that if I stopped for too long I’d definitely get cold so I made it a point to keep pedaling, no matter how slow I was going. At some point the Interurban Trail signs switched from Tukwila to Kent to Auburn, and even though I didn’t make it to the city center, I decided to turn back around. I was getting tired and I knew that 1) I still had homework to do when I got home and 2) I could always come back for another ride on another weekend. No big deal. On my way back I managed to fumble while clipping out of my pedals…uphill again…and so I crashed. I was about 20 yards shy of oncoming traffic. Some pedestrian trotting along with his umbrella made eye contact but since I got up just fine he kept moving. I have a small cut in my palm and it’s still a bit more, but it beats shattering a shoulder.

I pedaled back towards home base. All I could feel was the squish in between my toes. I felt like I was swimming with my bike. I was soaked from head to toe. I don’t have any fenders on my bike so I was pretty sure that I was getting pretty dirty. At least I finally learned how to ride clipless, otherwise the ride would’ve been really dangerous on slick medal pedals. I kept going and then in my field of vision I saw a downed cyclist. He had faceplanted into a railroad crossing that happened to pop out from a turn and he was lying in a small pool of his own blood. I saw his bike to his side and an oncoming train, so I rushed to clip out of my bike and signal the train conductor to stop. After ensuring I got the conductor’s attention, I turned my focus on the rider. I asked him how he was doing and if I could help. Moved him off the tracks and saw that he was in pretty bad shape. Didn’t look like he had any broken bones and he seemed to stand okay. We moved his bike to the side and the train took off. I stayed with the rider since he seemed like he was pretty shaken up. I handed him my water bottle so that he could clean up his face and mouth a bit since he was bleeding a lot. It seemed really painful but nothing life threatening. I saw that he broke his tooth so I went back to see if I could find the fragment. Nothing.

I went back to him and asked if someone knew he was out riding. I asked if he knew someone that could come get him and if he knew that number by heart, and he said yes. I tapped out the phone number and dialed. His girlfriend was understandably frantic but I tried to assure her that he was banged up but nothing life threatening, and that we would need her to come pick him up. I moved him away from the scene (we were at a weird part of the trail that was inaccessible by vehicles but somehow navigable by every single train car south of Seattle) to somewhere more quiet and along the road so that it would make for an easier pick up. There, he cleaned up some more and we chatted a bit. I tried to keep him calm but he was obviously very scared and the shock and adrenaline was beginning to wear off for him. His girlfriend peeled into the parking lot, threw his bike into the backseat, loaded him into the car, and headed off to the emergency room and I headed back on my way.

In hindsight, I was glad that I turned on my GPS. I generally track all of my workouts live with RunKeeper, and recently I had downloaded the RoadID companion app for the safety beacon feature. A couple of times during the whole ordeal the safety beacon countdown timer began beeping and it gave me assurance that if I were ever met with a fate like this rider, that someone would know that something went wrong. I really shouldn’t have forgotten my RoadID and will probably never forget it ever again after a day like today. ‘Just show up’ had a whole new meaning after today. It’s one thing to be on course while helping a fellow racer with dehydration, like during my last Seafair triathlon. It’s another thing to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right training to help.

Speaking of which, I should really look into the wilderness first aid classes. That was something I wanted to do this summer. With all of these hikes and future backcountry/sidecountry skiing I plan on doing, it is always better to be prepared.

Week 4 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, June 2: Rest

Tuesday, June 3: 5k run/39:47

Wednesday, June 4: 10k run/1:25:24

Thursday, June 5: Rest

Friday, June 6: 5k run/38:16

Saturday, June 7: 3.16 mile hike/1:07:28

Sunday, June 8: 5k run/41:24

Week 5 Seafair Sprint Tri Training:

Monday, June 9: Rest

Tuesday, June 10: Nothing ūüôĀ

Wednesday, June 11: Nothing, again. Work and school got really busy!

Thursday, June 12: Nothing ūüôĀ

Friday, June 13: Feeling like a lame duck

Saturday, June 14: Make up a week of sloth with a killer 7-mile hike up Poo Poo Point. Will definitely hike this one again. This was a great workout, and the view was pretty spectacular! Need some better shoes or insoles…I could feel it in my knees on the way down. Definitely don’t want to feel those twinges ever again in my legs.

Sunday, June 15: Had my explorer helmet on and went for a nice long ride along the Interurban Trail, from Tukwila to Auburn and back. I will definitely make this a recurring route. I really liked it!

On Fear and Falling

Ladies and gents, I am so happy right now. Like, bursting at the seams happy.

So, finally after many months/years of this weird mental game of being scared of clipping in, I decided to give it a go again. And guess what? I did it! I’m still in one piece!

It might sound kind of lame but I finally felt like a *real* cyclist. Is that even such a thing? Anyhow, I am completely over the moon. I felt pretty comfortable since I had plenty of practice leading up to it. I worked on some clip in/out speed drills on the trainer. Skiing definitely helped me get over the fear of feeling locked in. Seeing that my feet didn’t come flying off when tumbling down the bunny hill was pretty reassuring for some reason.¬†And skydiving definitely helped assuage my fear of falling.

There is a moment when fears and dreams must collide.

For some people, this is probably a really trivial skill. But, for me, it means a lot. I was scared to do it, but I did it anyways. Falling is normal — it’ll happen again eventually. Just like in skiing and skydiving, I need to embrace the fall. After mentally agonizing about this for years — yes, YEARS — I feel accomplished in finally getting over this hurdle. I look forward to previewing the bike course tomorrow morning and also getting some more riding in. Nothing too strenuous…just want to get the legs moving. The weather here is so beautiful that it would be a waste to not get in some fun riding in the sun!

With this under my belt, I somehow feel more confident that I can finish the bike leg under the time limit. It might be a mental crutch, but I’m hoping that this will give me the badly needed boost in the cycling department.

In other news, I fell in love last weekend. (It was my first time ever on skis.) Felt so exhilarating to learn something new, get over old fears, and practice patience with myself. I seem to be thinking about it a lot more, trying to schedule it in as much as possible, etc. I’m definitely working it in to my off-season training! I think a part of it is that I felt that I was nearing the top of my triathlon career (note: I said triathlon and NOT Ironman!) — I’ve got the basics down, and now I just need to work on strength and endurance. With triathlon, I’m working on improving what I currently have. However, with this endeavor, I’m venturing into unknown territory again — learning new things, getting out of my comfort zone, facing my fears head on. I’ve not felt this way in a long time. I struggled with the basics of just standing up. I fell every two to three feet. I don’t feel comfortable turning left. It’s the little things, you know?

Anyways…yes, I am bursting at the seams happy. Might’ve been all of the delicious food I had today, the fact that I’m finally on a real vacation, that I got to travel and read today, that I successfully clipped in and out of my bike, or that I’ve been sipping a mint melange tea for the last few hours, but I am quite excited at what the next few days, weeks, and months have in store for me.

Olympic Tri (My Way) and Race Recap: Athleta Iron Girl 10K

So sometime last night, when I was tossing and turning because I couldn’t fall asleep, I came up with this plan…

I’ve been really annoyed lately that I can’t find a nearby triathlon that works with my schedule so i decided to do my own thing. (Story of my life.) I decided that since my 10K was going to be timed, I might as well take a stab at doing an Olympic-distance triathlon on my own terms before trying an actual Olympic-distance race. Or perhaps eliminating the need or desire to register for races in general. I wanted to see if I was on to something, so I decided to do a reverse Olympic triathlon.

So, with a few winks of sleep and some terrible GI issues, I showed up to Green Lake Park for the Athleta Iron Girl 10K start line.

photo-31

It was cold (by my standards)! It was also windy! I was sad that I didn’t follow through with my thought to bring my arm warmers. I figured that I I would warm up anyways during the run, so I tried to cozy up to hundreds of other runners to stay warm. By the time I was at mile 1, I was glad I didn’t have my arm warmers.

In terms of the race, there was one big issue right off the bat: It was a 2-loop run for 10k’ers. I hate HATE hate loops. I hate knowing what I’ll have to experience again. That’s one thing that bothers me about a lot of Ironman races is that they end up looping around multiple times. I’m not sure why but I just find it demoralizing. I much prefer a point-to-point course and I’d rather deal with the hassle of shuttles than looping during a race.

The first 5K was fun. We had the road to ourselves. There were a lot of walkers and for the most part, they had studied up on runner’s etiquette and knew to stay to the right of the road. I started out with the 11:00min/mile corral but it proved very slow for me, so I weaved around until I settled in with a pack at the 3 mile mark. The rest of the ladies who were continuing on to round 2 for the 10K all seemed to keep a good pace. I was massively hurting because of stomach distress issues — I didn’t need to stop, but everything felt crampy and tight. Something about this liquid diet just isn’t sitting well with me so I’m trying to re-introduce less mushy foods into my diet as my gums/teeth/pain will allow.

Because of this, the second 5K was particularly difficult. I kept wanting to aim for negative splits. I wanted to outdo myself at run the 10K at an hour, or at least under my fastest 10K time. It wasn’t in the books this time but I’ll know what to do differently next time. (The biggest thing will be NOT scheduling major dental surgeries in the middle of training seasons!) I finished with a surge, something that I don’t remember doing since the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas last year. It felt great to finish strong.

As I waited in line with my complimentary meal kit for a free cowbell, the oldest runner made her way past the finish chute — she was 82. Amazing.

Now that I have another medal, I really want to figure out a nice way to hang all of them in my apartment. I’d also like to start a bib collage. I think it’d add a bit more personality to my space.

photo-22

I was pretty exhausted after the 10K, especially with all of the digestive issues. I just also felt a bit tired, but I chalked that up to nutrition issues. I fueled up as much as I could so that I could continue with my diabolical plan of 25 more miles on the bike and 1500m in the pool. I set up my bike trainer, put on a movie, and got to work.

The longest ride I’ve ever done was probably a little over 15 miles, so 25 was a bit of a stretch. I gave myself permission to take stretch breaks, to grab water, and to have a GU when it was necessary. The movie ended about 40 minutes before I reached 25 miles, so I relied on my iPod to keep me company. A part of me wanted to hop on a video call but I had no clue who would actually want to chat with me in the middle of a workout. Plus, if I were able to chat, one could argue that I probably not working hard enough anyways.

In the same fashion as the 10K I surged my final mile and a half and felt good…exhausted, but good. I hopped in the shower for the third time of the day (once before the 10K to wake me up, one after the 10K to clean myself off, and now to clean myself off from the ride).

I tried to set my expectations for my swim. I was insanely exhausted and very stiff. I downed a shake (my general sustenance of choice these days) and took a nice long shower. I stretched and sat down for a bit, tried to bring my heart rate down and just relax. What I really wanted to do was lay down, but I knew that if I did, I would fall asleep.

And then I just said to myself, F it! It’s MY tri and I’ll do it in whatever way suits me. So I took a nap and it was glorious. The only contingency with this nap was that I could NOT skip my swim, no matter what. As insurance against this I wore my swimsuit underneath all of my clothes.

I woke up on my own and felt refreshed. I was still a bit groggy, but I combed my hair back, grabbed my swim bag, and headed out to the bus to get to the gym.

The pool was completely empty when I first started. It was also freezing. On Sundays, apparently they shut off the heat since they clean the pool late at night. I guess perhaps they also don’t get too many guests either, so it makes sense from an energy perspective. I had prepared for the cold with a nice cold shower beforehand. I began to do a few laps (backstroke to start) and eventually people started to fill up the pool.

It seems like the evening dynamic is much different than the morning. In the morning you get a mix of 50% women and 50% men. This evening, I was the only female. There were probably about 20 men in the pool area in general — about 7 or so swimming (one shared a lane with me) and the others were in the hot tub, sauna, and steam room. I got a few gross looky-loos from creepy old men but kept pushing forward anyways. If anything it gave me an incentive to swim faster and harder.

A guy had jumped into my lane and began sharing it with me (without asking!) but I found him to be a nice companion. He wasn’t too fast or too slow. He was right around my speed, so we were able to alternate laps around the pool. At any given time we would pass each other in the lane, so it really kept me swimming freestyle rather than resting with the backstroke. Whenever I share a lane and backstroke, I usually end up with a nose full of water. At least this way I could be incentivized to freestyle and finish my distance at a good pace.

photo-13

The last 800 meters was the hardest, but again in similar fashion I tried to surge in my last 200 meters. After I finished I was so elated that I didn’t even feel tired. I rinsed off, pulled on my clothes, grabbed the next bus and headed home. I ate a bit and treated myself to some Thai food delivery. (It was decent-to-awful, but it’s the thought that counts.)

All in all, a good day. I’ve quite literally never did this before, so I’m happy to check this off of my to-do list, even if I didn’t technically race. I know what it feels like (albeit with a nap in between sports) but now, for sure, I know exactly how hard the 70.3 can be.

6am Gym Date, Got My New Bike Trainer

I fell asleep really early last night — 10pm or so — and ended up waking up at 4am with nothing to do! I was still a bit sore from the day before, so I tried to get some more shuteye and then I opened up my inbox to see an email from SparkPeople…

With a message like that, who can stay in bed? I decided to get up. Thanks for the motivation, SparkPeople! I skipped my first cold shower of the day but changed into my swimsuit and packed for a bike ride at the gym afterwards. (Another brick workout was on the schedule!) I took the cold shower and the gym and let it chill my bones for a good 3-4 minutes. I hopped into the pool immediately afterwards and PRESTO! It felt like the pool was heated.

Last night, before I fell asleep, I watched this really great 3 minute swim lesson on YouTube. I tried to remember all of the points to improve on, but couldn’t remember them all this morning. I mainly focused on 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock arm placement, and that actually helped out my swimming a lot! I tried not to sprint in the pool, which causes me to get winded quite easily…by moving at a relaxed pace down the length of the pool, I was able to maintain my form and breathing.

I headed to work and the day went pretty well. When I got home I decided that it was time to set up my bike trainer! It took me less than 5 minutes to unbox, get the new axle on, and get everything in place. Good thing I watched a few YouTube videos the other night on it, otherwise I’d probably get lost. It was really easy though. No tools necessary, at least not for the trainer I purchased. I also got a small thing for the front wheel to rest on…that way, the bike stays level while I’m riding (and not just wobbling on the ground). A part of me wishes I got the mat underneath it, but maybe I can get that later. Or I can use an old yoga mat.

Then, to top it off, I bought myself a nifty (and cheapie) bike computer so that I can get the best measurements for when I do more indoor training at home. That way, when I’m getting 3-4-5+ hours on the bike, I can figure out how far I’m actually going. (Olympic triathlon = 24.8 miles, Half triathlon = 58 miles, Full triathlon = 112 miles)

I feel like I’m getting back to my old self again. Feeling focused and motivated. Next up, I need a new training swimsuit…I’ll have to earn it first. Onwards!

Hired by Amazon, Moving to Seattle, Learning Ruby/Rails, And Other Good Things

It’s been a long while since I’ve updated here!

As you may have noticed, my running is a bit off. Well, it’s like, super off. It’s so off that I’m sleeping with my running gear on so that when I get up tomorrow morning it’s the first thing I do! I’ve only logged 5 runs and 2 bike rides this month…eek. I guess with races off my plate, along with my heightened stress level, it’s taken a forever-backburner.

Despite the lack of training and increase in working, there’s been a number of great things that have been happening in my life — which all have admittedly sidelined me from my usual strict training regimen.

  1. Awhile back I was accepted to Bloc, an 8-week Ruby on Rails intensive. For those of you who are not in the tech world, it’s a web development course. I’m in week three (??) and so far it’s kicking my butt, in a good way of course. I’m so used to things in technology coming easy to me. This feels foreign, strange, weird, and difficult…all of the things that make a great journey (and a hard time)! If you want to read about my day-to-day experiences at Bloc, go for it.
  2. I’ve been picking up a lot of steam with my freelance clients. Had a lot of interesting projects that were interested in my work…some I took on, a lot I had to turn away just based on my unavailability.
  3. My boyfriend finally met my parents!
  4. One of my BFFs graduated nursing school.
  5. My boyfriend’s startup raised their second round of funding! (Hip hip hooray!)
  6. And last, but not least…I got a job offer. I got a job offer when I wasn’t even looking for a job. ¬†It makes me feel like I might actually be doing something right. More on that below!

The gig requires a move to Seattle…a city I’ve visited once (now twice, since I had to fly up for my interview). It’s with Amazon and I get to do what I already do — application UX/UI. The last year or so has been both difficult and amazing at the same time — I’ve never hit so many plateaus and peaks in succession as I did in the last 12 months. (I went from having my own business to working full-time to getting laid off to going to massage therapy school to having only $100 to my name to closing more freelance clients than I could handle to getting offered a full-time job.) I think this relocation will be great to help re-energize me in general. It’ll keep me plugged in to a major powerhouse — a Web 1.0 property! — while challenging me immensely. (That’s an understatement.) I look forward to the adventure and all of the trials and tribulations I will face in a new, strange city.

I am so excited that I’ve already mapped out what I hope my new life will look like:

  • I’ll get back into training regularly. I’ll be moving to Seattle in the summer, which will lend itself nicely to outdoor training. However, come fall, winter, and spring, the rain will rain and won’t stop. I’m hoping to get an apartment in a complex with a fitness center OR to get a great 1 bedroom and buy a bike trainer…and figure out a way to get my running in.¬†I’m looking for apartments within walking distance from work, but also big enough that when I have visitors that I’ll have a private room to myself.
  • I’d like to try some other things outside of event training to stay in shape…maybe a dance class, or crossfit. Something without an event payoff. I’m not sure if I’ll stay motivated but it might be nice to just try it for a month and see how I like it.
  • There’s a women’s Ruby meetup group that I’d like to join…they help women of all levels learn OOP, Ruby, and Rails. I think I could benefit from the female¬†camaraderie. Tech is so heavily influenced by males. Really, I spend most of my time with guys. That’s fine and all, but sometimes the intentions are not as innocent as I’m led to believe…I’d like to steer clear of that as much as possible in this new city.

So far, that’s it. I’m trying not to plan too much. I want my life to be so loosely planned that anything else that ends up happening is just gravy. Work out. Go to work. Code like crazy during my free time. Repeat. My boyfriend’s schedule is loosening up a bit so he may be spending some time in Seattle (fingers crossed!) and shuttling up and down the coast. Since the weather is so crappy I won’t want to be hanging around anywhere anyways. Conditions are perfect for learning and introversion! I mean, if I’m not doing something that scares me, I’m not doing this right….right?

 

Temporary Lulls Are Just That…Temporary

This post sings a bit of a different tune. It’s more about the lulls in energy or drive that hit me in my daily life, be it work related, training related, or personally related.

It seems more so than ever I am aware that my life really is a series of unbalanced scales. I have a finite amount of hours and energy each day I bring to a project, to school, or to a training session. Sometimes when things in my life don’t seem to be in balance, it throws off the entire equation and I just shut down for awhile. Sometimes that while can last a few hours to a few weeks. And, every so often, I try to take a step back and really examine what I’m doing. Since I don’t work a 9-to-5 job, my projects last anywhere from a few hours to a few months. It’s nice and refreshing to be able to reframe my viewpoint so regularly. In fact, it is a luxury that I quite dearly missed in the spurts I committed to working full-time the few times in my adult life.

Lately I’ve been juggling more design work than school work. Just a few months ago, I was immersed full time in school work. What happened? Did I get bored or am I just coming up against a temporary lull? As you may already know, my interests oscillate between tech/design and health/fitness. One started off as a hobby and became a career, and sometimes it seems like I’m trying to redo that entire cycle over again in a completely different field.

I like to think of these temporary lulls as good practice for the Ironman. 17 hours is a long time to slug away at something. There will be some times when I don’t feel like swimming another yard, biking another mile, or running another step. It is in these temporary lulls that build character and grit. It is in trying times that you learn that the best things in life are the things you earn — education, leadership, strength. The things in life that are worth having are worth working for. Some have to work tirelessly before they see the fruits of their labor. Some people will never reach their end goals, but the journey is so consuming and well worth the investment that it is, in of itself, the reward.

It is in these quiet times I spend alone that I learn the most about myself and the people around me. A little bit of quiet observation unfolds a great deal of analysis of my past and present. I can’t predict the future but I can stack the odds. I can make plans for the future without sacrificing my appreciation of the present. I can honor the past by living fully in the present. I can (try to) learn to let go of the people and events in the past that burns inside of me.

I think the one thing I’ve learned the most in my adult life is how little I actually know. It’s kind of scary. I don’t have enough time on this earth for all of the books I want to read, the languages I want to learn, the places I want to visit, the startups I want to work with, the people I want to meet, the races I want to run. A lot of people at my age (and younger) feel invincible and on top of the world. I feel the exact opposite. I have so much to learn and so little time to execute it in. And, even though one of my goals is to complete an Ironman triathlon, I know that I have a lot of training ahead and a lot of life lessons to learn along the way.

I guess one place where I can start is…how the heck do I work all of the gears on my bike? That’s a pretty actionable first step, right?

Thoughts I Think While I Tackle The One-Mile Swim

On Friday I completed my very first long swim of one mile. (I think I completed something close to a mile before in an open water swim, but I don’t count that too much because we took a lot of breaks and it was with a class.) It was one of the few times where I had the lane all to myself and didn’t have any music or people distracting me from the task at hand. Not only that but it seems like they had cleaned the pool since I was last there a few days prior. Huzzah!

The first few laps were easy enough. I thought of them as more of a warmup than a workout. The first half mile was moderately difficult since I was mostly doing the backstroke. As I closed in on the second half of the swim I incorporated more and more freestyle. The thing with swimming is that I find that my lungs and heart fatigue much faster than my legs and arms. I need to work more with my breathing, technique, pacing, and speed, before finding out what the best swim routine is.

The pools I train in are generally 25 meters in length, so…
¬Ĺ mile = about 800 yards = 32 lengths
1 mile = about 1700 yards = 68 lengths
1.2 miles = about 2000 yards = 80 lengths

The last half mile was much more difficult as the tiredness was setting in to my arms and legs. By the time I was in the home stretch, I wanted nothing more than to go home, munch on some almonds, and lounge around. I figured that I only had a few more laps to go before I could get there. Right when I was three or four laps away from finishing I ended up having to share the lane with her. It wasn’t too big of a deal since she knew what she was doing.

As I’m trying to get back into the habit of swimming, I’m still incredibly fixated on the idea that it’s my weakest sport. (I should really try to fix that with some visualization or meditation.) Thank goodness it’s first in the trio of triathlon. The 70.3 I’m racing in is in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I actually went there a few years ago while on a family vacation and thought that it was a nice spot…I never did realize that I’d be back so soon!

Every time I’m in the water I try to visualize what I remember of Lake Havasu. I can remember London Bridge, all of the little shops, the rocky sand. It was a really calm, placid lake, with a gorgeous view of the mountains. The air was crisp and calm. I know that the morning of the race, the lake will be anything but placid — the it’ll be rough whitewater with thousands of other people paddling and kicking their way to the finish line. What’s really neat about this swim course is that you swim in Lake Havasu, in the state of Arizona…but you can actually see California in the distance. It’ll be a nice mental game for me when I’m in the water — “Just swim towards home and you’ll be fine!”

As for the distance…I’ve had a few thoughts about downgrading to the Olympic distance (0.9 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike ride, 6.2 mile run), but I really think that seven months will be more than enough time to train for this event, if I make a schedule and stick to it. Each time I train I feel like I get one step closer to achieving that goal…and it feels empowering.

I’m not looking to give up on my goal or anything, and when I take the 1,000 foot view I think it’s completely achievable. However, when I’m in the thicket of training it’s really difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. No one is there alongside me when I’m short of breath, halfway down the pool lane. No one is there when I’m struggling with the mileage on my bike or when I get three flats in a row. No one is there with me when my legs are quitting on me during a run. It’s just me competing against myself, so instead of trying to psych myself out, I focus on something else. Call it distracted swimming…

Some things that I think about while swimming:

-I generally think back to all of the support I’ve had for the LA Marathon, my blog readers and the kind words they’ve left me. I think back to all of the literature I’ve read on triathlon. I think of my friends and family and somewhere from there I find the drive to continue.

-For a long time (while I was still in college), I was really driven by anger. I suppose that’s another blog entry altogether. I’ve had to deal with a few issues in my life that were very difficult. Every now and then I have flashbacks but I try to quell that anger. I like to think of how far along I’ve come in that regard.

-I think of my significant other a lot.

-I play music in my head. I have a tendency to overplay music while running so I’ve pretty much remembered the beat and track for every song I have loaded.

-I think back to my LA Triathlon experience. I can’t believe I swam off course so many times. I can’t believe how difficult it was to swim in the ocean. It was great to be able to take breaks by hanging off of buoys or flipping to a backstroke.

-I think of my swim coach last summer. She was really nice. She also had great form. I can’t believe she taught me how to dive…I was completely scared to do that prior to meeting her. I wish I can hire her again this summer to help me.

-I think of what it’ll feel like to cross a 140.6 finish line.

-I think of how tired I’ll feel after a 2.4 mile swim and that the distance I’m training at is nothing in comparison!

What do you guys think of when you’re training hard? What keeps you going?

Paleo Day 11…Workout Recovery and Minor Ethnic Cheats

Thursday…it was the day after Wednesday, the day after I had pushed myself a bit farther than usual. Every few months or so I’ll get a yearning to try my hand at a solo sprint triathlon, meaning that I attempt the distances at a local gym to check out my current level of conditioning. Well, since I was off of official training for quite a bit, my personal sprint triathlon was pretty tough. I had a hard time getting through the bike and run portion! I had plenty of nutrition on hand but it was one of the more difficult workouts I’ve had in a really long time. That’s probably a good thing.

The day started off with a great egg scramble with broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers. Hey look! My reflection is in the spoon!

Then, someway mid way through the work day, I began getting massive sugar cravings. I peeled three oranges and shared them with Shant, who was working from my place for a few days.

Then, another snack attack…

…and more snack attacks…

…which then led us to dinner. We’d been eating in quite a bit lately so we were really craving something different from the norm. We’re only a few miles away from Little Ethiopia and we used to frequent this little restaurant called Merkato. I always get the veggie combo plate. It’s served on a large platter of injera, which is made out of teff flour (which is a grain and NOT paleo). We had a semi-cheat but I must’ve eaten a small bit of bread. I had some pea stews, cabbage, collard greens, and tomato salad.

Strangely enough after I had a few bites of my food with the injera and I actually preferred to eat without it. There was something incredibly satisfying about eating with your hands (no utensils allowed!!). The foods tasted so rich and pure…I didn’t want to denature the taste with the injera bread. So, I ate without it and every once in awhile, when I found it was really tough to hold the stews in my hands, I grabbed some bread for a small morsel. So delicious!

Paleo Day 10…Workout Fueling and Late Night Eats

Had a pretty awesome day in terms of energy level. Again I was reluctant to head out for my back to back to back workout with GU so I tried a little experiment and took along three bananas. I downed the first one right before swimming, the second one after my swim, and my third one after my cycling and running. It kept me going as well as the GU, although the banana is admittedly more smelly and produces more trash than the GU. Go figure. I can discretely down some GU on the bike or treadmill but it’s kind of silly looking to be chomping away at a banana during a workout. Maybe I can shatter some sort of eating-in-the-gym stereotype or something.

Then came breakfast. I wasn’t too hungry. It happens a lot when I work out. I don’t get hungry for hours but I’m usually exhausted and too tired to cook anyways. I mustered up enough willpower to put together an egg white, broccoli, bell pepper, and baby bella mushroom scramble. (Not yet getting tired of eggs for breakfast. Who doesn’t like eggs?!)

Then, as I was settling down for a good work session, hunger struck again! Thankfully I was already thawing out some salmon. This time I pan-fried it with a little olive oil and tossed some broccoli in. So good!

I started getting the munchies for something sugary, most likely because of all the energy I expended during the swim/bike/run. Put together a dried berry and date melange…super sweet. It definitely gave me the picker-upper I needed.

I had an event at UCLA I needed to attend but I didn’t want to go hungry and end up snacking on something unhealthy, so I took a bag of raw nut mix with me to eat during the car ride there. It staved off my hunger until nearly midnight, when we were all starving for a nice meal…which lead us to drive all the way to Hollywood for some awesome Thai food!

Had my usual Tom Kha soup (coconut milk, chili paste, chili peppers, lime, lemongrass, with fish). It was hot and spicy and everything I love about Thai food. My mouth is still watering thinking about the hot pot.

I also forgot to take a photo of my other dish but I got a spicy squid entree with water chestnuts, bell peppers, cashews (which I avoided since they looked funny), peas, and carrots. Yum yum. (This photo was taken off another site and wasn’t exactly what I ate.)

It’s getting easier and easier to skip the jasmine rice and Pad Thai and Thai iced tea…but I won’t lie. I really really really wanted some!!

It seems like it’s much more feasible to eat out on paleo than previously imagined. You just have to get a little creative with the restaurant. It seems like the Asian restaurants have dishes that are more easily adaptable than other cuisines. Do you guys have any recommendations on restaurants and places to eat that are paleo friendly?