Friday, November 26, 2010

Victory At Sea

Ocean swimming is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

This morning we took another go at the full double roughwater course. Last time we did it (like 4-5 weeks ago?) it wasn't even planned... it just happened to be such a beautiful perfectly calm day and we were enjoying the warm clear water swim so much that we made the last minute decision to go all the way to the turn-around buoy. That ended up being quite a hard swim, even on such a perfect day. Today, based on the conditions, we figured we were in for it right from the start, but it was fine. We were ready. We wanted it. Bring it on. Come on, ocean! Whattya GOT???


The ocean was angry that day, my friends...

I don't quite know how to describe it in words, but it was epic. There were big swells. I mean, big swells. Generated by the 35 mph gusts of wind. And the whole way out they were going with us. I swear, half the time I felt like I was body surfing. The water would just come pick us up and push us forward and then slam us down the other side. It was tough to find a rhythm with my stroke. At times I just left one hand out front and pulled with only one arm while kicking madly to try to catch and use the wave's energy. It was actually quite fun, as long as I kept the right attitude. I remember thinking that it was awesome and bad ass that we were out there, and that we were not afraid. These were the kind of ocean conditions that many people would be genuinely afraid of. Rightfully so I suppose. Maybe I'm just an idiot for not being afraid, but really, we were fine. (There were 3 of us swimming and we had 2 kayakers with us so that probably helped reduce the Fear Factor.)

Did you know that while the swell can be going with you, the current can be fiercely against you? I knew that, but I'd never experienced it to this degree. At one hour, when we should have been at the buoy, we stopped to assess the situation. And while we could see the big red buoy, well, we weren't exactly close to it. OK, so this was going to be a longer swim than we originally anticipated. I tried to keep the negative thoughts out. Stay relentlessly positive, Michelle.

So I put my head down and did my best to keep swimming. Problem with keeping my head down in todays crystal clear water is that I could see all the jellyfish we were swimming right over! They were everywhere. I got brushed by a couple but no serious stings. I don't think I've ever seen so many though. Try that sometime... swimming for over an hour in ocean water so deep that even though its crystal clear you can't see the bottom and knowing you were still probably 20 minutes from your turn around and the swells are throwing you all around and your arms have been numb for the last 15 minutes because the water isn't so warm today and then you see all the jellyfish right underneath you... Stay relentlessly positive, Michelle.

We got to the turn around buoy in 1:21. Our kayakers gave us our GUs. I brought vanilla bean b/c I like that one and know what to expect with it. Nalani gets a bunch of free ones b/c she is sponsored by GU but lots of hers come in unmarked packaging... just silver packages that say 'new flavor'. It's always a wild guess at which one you'll get if you play GU Roulette like that. I laughed so hard while Nalani was trying to eat her silver mystery GU and she got slammed by a big wind swell wave just as she was swallowing. She came back up and said, "Mmmmmm. Gingerbread." Maybe you had to be there. But it was quite funny at the time.

Heading back we couldn't even hardly swim. All the big swells that carried us forward on the way out were now against us and it was just a ridiculous endeavor to try to swim through them. But somehow we did it. Nalani's dad (one of our kayakers) was having an even harder time than we were going back into the wind. For much of the way back, in fact, he was behind us because he couldn't get the kayak to go straight into the wind and swells. The good news (I mean, really good news) was that the current was very strongly with us coming back. So even though the chop on top made swimming very hard, if I could look and see the bottom of the ocean (at times I could) I saw that we were mooovin'! Man, how I wished that I didn't have to breathe and could just dive under and dolphin kick my way back. That would have been awesome. But as it was, we still made it back in 41 minutes! You do the math and figure out the strength of the current when it took twice as long to get out as it did to get back!?! Nutso, man.

We were all so pleased though getting out of the water today. So so so different than last time. My swimming endurance is just heads and tails above where it was last time we attempted this because I didn't even feel that tired at the end. Jennifer said it best when she said, "Well, THAT was a confidence building swim." No kidding. I think we all managed to stay relentlessly positive, we all felt strong at the end, and we all know that no mater what the ocean conditions are, we will be ready for the Double RoughWater Swim! 3 weeks! :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dancing Queen

Random posts can be good, no? I hope so. Here's a bullet point one on Thanksgiving Eve...

~I went to pick up Moana from daycare today and when I walked in the door found the usual scene... Moana dressed up in some sort of princess outfit... of course wearing her pink sparkly 'dancing shoes' (the ones she insists on sleeping in now) and dancing around the living room floor. She was laughing and singing and just completely hamming it up. She's got some good moves, especially when you tell her to "shake it!" She insisted that another little girl there put on a dancing skirt too (even though Serena clearly was not interested). It actually was quite heartwarming when I asked Moana if she was ready to go and without even considering it she said, "No!" She just kept dancing.

~I asked Kirsten (day care lady) if she does this all day and she said, "Yep. Moana arrives every morning and first thing says, "Dress up, please?!?" And then she dances all day. Not a bad life, eh?

~Yesterday morning I was out running and trying to hit a tempo pace that should not have been hard. But it was hard. And my legs just felt sore. So weird- that my quads would actually be sore. From what?? I have not had a truly hard run workout in a very long time, so there was no reason for sore muscles like that. I tried to figure it out but came up with nothing. I finally just chalked it up to having an off day, quit the tempo early and jogged home. Well, it hit me about 15 minutes after I walked in the door. The flu. The kind that comes in like a lion and knocks you on your ass for the rest of the day. It was awful. I seriously went right back to bed and stayed there all day and night. The thought of food made me feel like I would puke. My head hurt and every muscle in my body ached horribly. I had a fever and chills... hot then shivering... It was one of the worst flus I've ever had. In good news, I had a gut feeling that it was only going to be a 24 hour thing. You know, when a virus comes on that fast and that violently, it usually goes away just as fast. Sure enough, this morning, about 10:00, I just felt it lift. Ahh. Achiness all gone. Phew. In bad news, I've felt pretty weak all day. Not surprising given that I didn't fuel myself at all yesterday. I did drink 2 bottles of Amino Vital (love that stuff) and took several e21 pills (love that stuff too). Though I guess as much as I love those products, they are not meant for sole survival, so today I paid the price.

~In good news, I did have a near normal appetite today so hopefully tomorrow I'll be back to normal. There's a 10+ mile Turkey Trot run tomorrow morning that I'm planning on doing. It's a cool concept- no one is allowed to wear a watch or pacing device of any kind. The winner is the person who comes closest to finishing in his/her predicted time. How well do you know pacing?? That's the name of the game tomorrow! Normally I would think I'd be pretty good at this, but given my lack of run training as of late, well, I may completely miss the mark! I've heard the course is 10.38 miles, and I'm thinking 'comfortably hard' should be like 8:10 pace... so that's what I'm going to shoot for (I think). We'll see how it goes. I'm thinking I want to run it at MP effort so it'll be interesting to see how fast that actually is right now. I don't feel like my calf is my limiter at all right now. It's the lack of training because of the calf set-back. And then the stupid virus I had yesterday. Grrr. So really, pulling off 8:10's tomorrow might be a small miracle.

~In other good news, I don't have to cook a turkey tomorrow. But we still get to eat one! We are going to Nalani's for the good dinner part tomorrow afternoon. Should be fun. I think Thanksgiving dinner should be with a good size group of people so we always look for people to join... Families in Hawaii are really good about that because there are so many people here who don't have any extended family at all. Friends become your extended family. It's cool. And Moana just loves going to Auntie's house.

Ok, that was enough randomness for now. I can hear Moana protesting bedtime pretty fiercely tonight so I'm gonna go help a hubby out. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Running Running Running!

YAY!! OK, so I am feeling *super* happy right now... just finished another run and have no pain or tightness in my calf or achilles. I feel like doing a happy dance!

Yesterday I ran 10 miles with Nalani. We didn't push the pace at all... just ran and talked and it was all quite therapeutic. I've missed our long runs and the talks we have while running them. In the end, I was happy that I wasn't feeling any pain in my calf, but I was definitely feeling the distance and felt like my HR/effort was just way too high for the pace we were running. Felt like I was experiencing that HR decoupling effect that some coaches talk about when you're not really aerobically fit. That just sucks though. I mean, really? I'm not aerobically fit?? Give me a break! Even while I've been injured and not running much, I've been biking and swimming and doing specific strength stuff so I can't believe for a second that I should have been so winded at the end of that run yesterday. BUT, it is what it is and I'll take a winded 10 miler over no 10 miler any day.

And then it was the weirdest thing- for the rest of the day my calf just started feeling better and better. Those eccentric calf dips really work. And I've been stretching a ton and using the Trigger Point calf roller thing every night. So doing all the right stuff and four weeks later looks like I'm back in the game.

Today I went out and ran again- only an hour today but I threw in a little 20 minute tempo section where I ran MP-10. In good news, I can still nail pacing! In fact, I felt so good I thought briefly about extending the length of the tempo section... but then remembered that getting greedy is always what gets me trouble. So I was like, "Take your 20 minutes of tempo and go home uninjured, Michelle..." So that's what I did. It's amazing how I really have to fight that desire to do MORE FASTER HARDER. I won the battle with myself today though so score one for me for being smart.

Now I'm feeling a lot more confident about running the marathon. It's 3 weeks from today. So ideally, my big long weekend run would have been today... but I'm not living in an ideal world right now so I'm going to deal with the cards I've got, and that puts me doing my last (okay, only) long run next weekend. 2 weeks out. I think that's fine. I mean, it's not like I've been breaking myself down with 20 milers every weekend of this training block and need a full 3 week taper. I'm going to do a tempo 10 miler on Thanksgiving morning (Turkey Trot where I'll shoot for MP+10) and then hopefully an easy/aerobic 18-20 miler next Sunday. IF I get both of those runs in and feel no pain, I'm definitely IN for the marathon. That would make me super happy! I'll still have to reconsider my pacing goals for the marathon, but la la la I'm not thinking about that right now... I'll worry about that in a couple of weeks when the gun goes off.

In other good news, looks like tomorrow night is the big night! Michelle's Prime Time TV Appearance! Lol. The Fake Koko Crater Classic Triathlon is going to be on Hawaii Five-0 tomorrow night. I'm wearing a lime green top on the bike, which is likely the only place I might actually be on for a brief second, if at all. But I think I was the only one wearing green during the shooting, so if you see a lime green flash riding by, its definitely me. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Phew. Maui Wowie... I just spent the last two days working on Maui. I used to travel all the time for work (pre-family and pre-responsibility, lol) and enjoyed the heck out of it. It's been a while since I've had a chance to do something like this, so while I know it was hard for Scott to be a single dad for a day/night, secretly, I kind of enjoyed my little time away. Shhhhh.

It was a good trip and I was pleased with how successful I was on the work front. A couple of my best sales days for sure and well worth it to go over there.

Anyway, of course (like a good little triathlete) I did a bit of research before I went to find pool times and contact numbers for masters swim coaches, etc. Midday Thursday I placed a call to a guy who was listed as a masters coach there to get the scoop on swimming opportunities for last night and this morning. Our conversation started with something like this:

Me:  "Hi Malcom, My name is Michelle Simmons..."

Coach: "Oh hi, Michelle Simmons. You're from Kaneohe. I know your name."

Me: "What??"

I'm not actually that famous. Turns out this coach is also the USMS Coordinator or whatever for the state of Hawaii and just that morning he had been asked by the race director of the Double Roughwater Swim to confirm my USMS membership for 2010 to make sure I was eligible for the swim race next month. And apparently he has a good memory.

Anyway, he told me about a masters workout he was coaching last night upcountry. I was game for that so I told him I'd see him there.

Can I just tell you that it's COOOOOLD upcountry Maui at night! I was not planning on staying up there when I packed so I did not bring a sweatshirt or coat or anything warm at all. The pool was only up at about 1500 ft, but there was a gorgeous view as the sun went down over the ocean. That made up for the frigid temperatures (sort of), but it did not make up for the lack of oxygen I felt as I was doing flip turn after flip turn in this 25yd pool. I haven't swam in a scy pool in quite some time... it was just flip flip flip flip... I thought of Kerrie and others who live and train at altitude. No wonder Kerrie hates swimming. You can't breathe when you swim above sea level. My lungs were just completely burning... very different than sea level swimming. And I know I know. 1500ft is NOT that high. But it was still a problem.

Anyway, it was funny for me to swim with a new masters coach who did not know me. The main set was 900 yards. I was like, "Can I do that twice?" Ha! Part of the main set was 2 x 200's neg split. Malcom asked me, "Do you know what negative split means?" Again... ha! I was good though and just politely said, yes, I know what negative split means. He was really nice though and gave me some good stroke correction which I appreciated. Same stuff I've heard before, but he said it in a different way and took a little video on his iphone so I could see and it was quite helpful. He knew what he was talking about.

Toward the end of the workout he asked me who I swam with here on Oahu. When I told him that Brett Phillips was one of my training partners, he totally cracked up and told me that he grew up swimming with Brett. Small world. Such a crazy small world. Seems like everybody knows Brett. Of course then I posted on Brett's FB wall that I just swam with Malcom and Brett responded by telling me that Malcom was one of his favorite people. Nice.

Malcom also put me in touch with another big Maui swimmer who trains in the ocean all the time. I called her and we planned a 3.2 mile one way ocean swim for this morning. I was completely stoked to do this swim! What a great way to start my Friday!! Unfortunately it dumped rain all night last night so she cancelled at 5:45 this morning, saying that the run off from the rain would make the water all murky. Since the place we were gonna swim was known to be kinda sharky (Malcom told me about a 12 ft tiger they saw 2 weeks ago- it swam right under them!) she said it wasn't such a good idea to swim after rain like that. Bummer. But I made up for it by showing up at another pool that was open at 6:30AM and did my planned Friday workout by myself.

After I was done swimming this morning, the lifeguard approached me and we started chatting... I told him that I had been planning to swim with Janet in the ocean but we skipped it b/c of the rain... then he told me that Janet was one of his swimming partners and then went on to tell me about the 12 foot tiger they saw 2 weeks ago! I was like, "I know! Malcom told me about it last night!" Guess it's kind of a cool story after the fact. And given that it all turned out okay, I kinda wish I would have been there, because I love cool stories like that. Anyway, I just thought it was funny what a small world it is and how swimmers just know swimmers and there's this amazing common bond we have when you can just call up someone you don't even know and immediately be connected into the swimming hub of the island. Living in a small community where everybody knows everybody has its advantages for sure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What To Do?

So my calf has been getting better and I've been increasing my running a bit. YAY! On Sunday I went to the gym to run on the treadmill (the treadmill and the track are the only flat run options I've got). I wasn't sure how far I would get, but I placed an upper limit of 7 miles on myself and promised myself I would stop at the first sign of calf tightness.

I started easy for the first mile, then upped the pace a bit each mile. NO tightness. Awesome. Ended with the 7th mile at 8:00 pace just to see if I could run MP without tightness (a week ago I felt tightness after about 3 minutes at 8:13 pace so I stopped) and turns out I could! YAY!!!! I finished that run all sweaty and as happy as I'd felt in weeks. There's just something about a good run (especially when you haven't had one for a while) that leaves you with a satisfaction that is hard to otherwise match.

So I gave myself a day off from running yesterday and then hit it again this morning with Nalani. I went into it with a bit more confidence than I had on Sunday, though I still promised myself I would back off if I felt any pain or tightness in my calf. We went 9 miles this morning, with 2 x 2 miles at MP in the middle. The first 2 mile segment went just fine... easy jog for 5 minutes then hit it again. I made the second set, but I swear it was WAY harder than the first. WAY harder than MP pace should be less than 4 weeks out from the marathon. Of course that is not surprising given that I hadn't done any real training for 3 weeks...

Running home I was feeling such a mixture of emotions. On one hand, I was thrilled that I had just run a key workout like that. I started thinking that the marathon is back ON! But then I started thinking about my goals and about how hard it was to run MP for just 2 miles in the middle of a run that was only about 1/3 of the distance of the race... how would I possibly run the marathon I want without doing all the necessary training? I am not a natural runner who can just pop out miracles for 26 miles like some of you can... I believe I have it in me to run a good marathon, but I need to actually do the pre-requisite training to make it possible. But the thing is, I can't just jump right back into my previous MP plan because that would surely be a recipe for injury for my calf again... so what to do? What to do? I've only got a couple of weeks left...

Well obviously I can only do what my calf will allow me to do. So I have to be smart. After that run this morning my calf felt fatigued. I didn't re-injure it or anything, but it felt different than my left calf... So moving forward I have to listen to my body and obviously I have to proceed with more caution than I had previously. In all honesty, I am still not sure that I will be running the marathon. I just don't want to do it if I don't think I can run a good one. And 'good' at this point has been altered to 3:45ish instead of 3:30 given that I have missed such an important block of training... Anyway, I think my plan at this point is to do as much training as I safely can and see where that leaves me in a couple weeks. While I would like to run the marathon, I absolutely will not if I think I can't do it wihtout re-injuring myself. My goal of starting 2011 healthy is bigger to me than my goal of running the marathon on Dec 12. Though seriously, can't I do both? I hope so! But we will see.

Monday, November 15, 2010

e21 Triathlon Team!

Arcadian Nutraceuticals is the Australian company that produces Recovery e21 and the accompanying Joint Health product that I have been taking. Both are all natural products made up primarily out of micro-algae (e21) and green lipped mussel (Joint Health) and both have produced notable improvements in how I feel lately!

The products are rather new (Joint Health is brand new) and they are targeting triathletes as a primary market of athletes who will likely benefit. To that end, they are sponsoring a Triathlon Team for 2011 in an effort to get the word out about their products! The idea of course is brand name recognition and getting athletes to try it and see for themselves if they indeed feel the benefit.

I have mentioned this before, but I'll say it again on here in case you missed it last time. e21 is a product made up of Duniella Salina (500mg/tab) which is a soft celled microalgae cultivated in salt ponds in Western Australia. This microalgae has been compared to spirulina as a 'superfood' and is packed with nutrients and a full spectrum of electrolytes. I take 2 before and after (and sometimes in the middle!) of key workouts and races and it has eliminated my cramping issues and allowed me to recovery faster from hard efforts. I've been lucky in that I've gotten myself associated with this company early on so I have not had to pay for the tabs, but I tell you what... if they disbanded my sponsorship tomorrow I would start buying them because I really do believe they make a significant difference.

The joint health is the new product and this is what I know about it so far: My shoulder doesn't hurt anymore since I started taking it! What else do I need to know?? ;) Well, having done a little research to figure out why, it appears that green lipped mussel (from NZ) works as a natural anti-inflammatory, and when combined with glucosamine, it allows for better absorption of the glucosamine (which means you actually don't have to take as much of the glucosamine for it to work on your joints). Whatever. My shoulder doesn't hurt anymore!

If you're still reading, good for you! Here's a cool opportunity for you for 2011... Fill out the application to be on the Recovery e21 Tri Team. The plan is that you'll get the supplements at no cost as well as a tri-kit, some cycling gear, and a cute e21 splish suit! In return, they'd appreciate you helping to spread the word about their products by talking to your friends and mentioning your experience on your blog and/or Facebook... The team will be selected in 2 weeks. What are you waiting for??

Saturday, November 13, 2010

She Came. She Swam. She Kicked Our Asses.

So this morning we were hanging out under the coffee tent we set up at Ala Moana Beach Park... Chit chatting with friends and sipping on some excellent 100% Moloka'i (good thing it was so good and smooth and easy to drink that nobody even needed milk or sugar)... when Penny Palfrey walked up to say hello.

She came!

I was stoked to see her. How often do we get to race with super stars like her here?

The swim was hard. I forgot how hard it is to go all out for 30 minutes. Ouch! But it was good. The best part was giving Moana a high five as I ran up the beach to the timing mat! I ended up 13th OA, 6th female and 1st age group. My other swimmers who were there did amazing, really. Nalani was 4th female and 1st in her age group, and Jennifer was 7th female, also first in her age group (yep, she's 50... doesn't she look great? Healthy living will do that for you. Love that!)

And Andrew, who has just recently started swimming for real, showed major gains today coming out in 36 minutes, 4th in his age group! I was seriously impressed. He's come a long way in the last couple of months!

And, um, while I knew that Penny was obviously a good long distance swimmer, who knew she was also so fast?!? She crushed us all, coming out as the first female (at age 48) and beating all of the men save one. Yep, there was only one guy that didn't get chicked today. Love that! I was planning on gifting her a bag of coffee as a souvenir but didn't have to because she won a bag of our Maui as prize for her OA. Too bad I didn't have a bag of Kauai coffee for her. That's the one she probably wanted to take home as motivation to keep training and tackle that channel again...

After the swim the coffee went fast... people flocked to our tent and couldn't stop commenting on how good the coffee was. 6 gallons of the black gold disappeared within about an hour. Then the race director called Penny up for a little Q&A session regarding her Kauai Channel attempt while we were waiting for awards. The local swimmers were psyched to have the chance to fire questions at her.
I wanted to know how she trains for such long events. Seriously. What kind of training is involved in the preparation for a 72 mile channel swim? She said she does 60-80K/week, with a long swim of about 20K on the weekends. The ocean near where she lives isn't safe to really swim in (She said they've got 'crocs' in their water that they pretend aren't there, kinda like we do with sharks here... but apparently box jellyfish in Australia are more dangerous than box jellies here- they're serious down under and will kill you)  but she said they have a section of it shielded off somehow to make it safer so she does her long weekend ocean swims there. Yep. 20,000 meters, 6 hours, back and forth across a stretch of roped off ocean that is only 100 meters long. Every weekend. Can you even imagine? I thought I was doing a lot getting in 20K/week. She's doing that in a day. All of a sudden I feel so much less crazy.

Anyway, she did say that she will likely try the Kauai Channel again in March. Hopefully 3rd time is a charm for her. She was really cool. Very humble and didn't act like a celebrity even though we all treated her like one. And now Penny and I are like BFF's. Lol. OK, well were Facebook friends anyway.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Brewing The Coffee

Well, tomorrow morning is the Turkey Swim at Ala Moana Beach Park and Coffees of Hawaii is sponsoring the swim with brewed coffee for the swimmers/spectators and bags of coffee for the age group and overall winners. Sounded like such a good idea when the race director called me and asked if I would do it. YES! I replied. Count us in! Then I started to think about it and it hit me... wait, that means that I have to collect the brewers and the tent and the table and the cambros and the cups and get up in the middle of the night to brew all this coffee for everyone and get myself down to the park before the sun comes up to have it all set up... Lovely. At least I got a free entry into the swim so I'll get to race! Fair trade I guess.

Hope everybody likes their coffee black because I don't have any milk.

Funny thing (and somewhat related, keep reading)... yesterday I was out and about around town and ran into Penny Palfrey at a local cafe. You may not know Penny's story if you don't live here... she's a swimmer from Australia who has now twice attempted to swim the 76 mile channel between Oahu and Kauai. No one has ever done it before and she was hoping to be the first. She tried in March... made it about 30 miles and then got wrapped up in a massive swarm of man-o-war and had to bail on the swim. She came back to try again this past week. She was all over the news for her attempt at the crossing so some of us who cared followed her progress online.

Now, I've had some bad man-o-war stings before, but I've never seen anything like this.
Um, OUCH! Holy cow. I mean, seriously. This is what happened to her 17 miles into her 2nd attempt on Tuesday. Apparently this one on her face was the final straw.
I read her story on on Tuesday and felt bad for her, though seriously, attempting to swim 76 miles across a channel like that is just ridiculously insane.

So when I saw this woman walk into Kalapawai Cafe on Thursday with this giant scar across her forehead (Harry Potter style) I knew right away that it must have been her. I didn't want her to think that I was a crazy stalker, so I let her order her food before I approached her, but eventually I did go introduce myself. I think she was a bit taken aback because although I did not ask for her autograph, I did ask to get a picture with her. She didn't know she was such a celebrity. The funny part was when she was telling me parts of her story... that she's tried before in March (Yes! I know!)... and that she had to pull out b/c of the man-o-war (Yes! I know!)... that she is from Australia (Yes! I know!). Clearly the internet is an almost scary tool when someone like me can know so much about someone like her by spending just a couple of minutes on a particular website.
Anyway, I finished up my conversation with Penny by telling her I was sorry that she didn't make it across the epic 76 mile channel... I suggested that maybe as a consolation prize she could come race the 1.2 miles across Ala Moana and back tomorrow morning before she flies back to Australia. I assured her that man-o-war are very rarely (if ever?) present in this protected lagoon. She laughed of course and mentioned that 1.2 miles is a bit short for her, but that maybe she would come. I wonder if she'll actually show up tomorrow morning? She might. Wouldn't that be cool? I told her I'd give her a bag of coffee to take home with her if she did.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New And Different

The other day Nalani and I were ripping off some fast 200's in the pool... the fastest 200's I've done since high school! How fun! (ok, not really... in reality my toes were completely numb and I felt like I was going to hurl... but it was fun looking at my watch at the end of each one and gasping with surprise!) Finally in these last few weeks I have seen some real improvement in my swimming. And it has been awesome to swim next to Nalani again instead of behind her. :)

When things are going well it is always good to take a step back and assess what the source of improvement might be.

Make no mistake about it, I've been working my ass off in the pool. But I always have, so this is not new and different. What has been new and different in the last few weeks? After much thought, I'm attributing my change in speed to a couple of factors:

~I've incorporated stretch cord exercises and drills into my weekly routine. I think they are helping me develop automatic motor patterns that I can use during my catch, specifically keeping my elbow high and getting that early vertical forearm. It does not take long to perform the exercises and I think they're a good warm up prior to swimming in the mornings.

~I've kept my frequency consistently high. 5x/week swimming is not realistic for me when I'm actually triathlon training, but right now since I'm pretty much swim-focused leading into the Double Roughwater Swim (5 weeks!) I can make it happen.

~I've started taking a new joint formula and my left shoulder feels less beat up. I have never taken any glucosamine or joint formula stuff before, so honestly, I wasn't sure I would notice much difference with this one. But I was told that it wouldn't be a bad idea to start taking one as a preventative thing, and I was sent some to try out, so I figured I'd go ahead and try it. It was made by the same good Aussie folks who produce the e21 that I know for sure works very well for me, so I trusted the company... and this stuff is made with green lipped muscle mussel and who doesn't want green lipped muscles? Anyway, to make a long story short, my left shoulder really used to bug me when I was swimming. And since I've upped my weekly volume (like x2!) recently, it was bugging me even more. The pain caused me to compensate by altering my stroke a bit (dropping my shoulder and elbow on the pull) and therefore I was less effective under the water. But after a couple weeks of taking this stuff, my shoulder doesn't hurt anymore. And that means I can pull stronger without dropping my left elbow and I get more propulsion with every stroke. I think this has contributed significantly to my new found speed.

So, to finish up another awesome week of swimming, we're going to do a 2000M ocean race Saturday morning! It's called The Turkey Swim. Not sure if they give away turkeys for winning, but that would be cool. It's been a while (like 2 years) since I've been able to give Nalani a run for her money in a swim race, but I told her that I'm gonna try on Saturday. We both agreed that it would be way more fun if we can seriously duke it out with each other out there. :)

You know what else would be super fun? Playing tug-of-war in the pool! Nalani found these two-person stretch cords on Designed to allow swimmers to play tug-of-war in the water... 

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Believe In The Training

In good news, my calf is on the mend. I've run a couple times over the past couple of days and as long as I keep it flat and easy and short, I'm pretty much okay. I saw a gal who did an ART session with me this afternoon and while I don't think it was the complete magic cure I was hoping for, it was somewhat helpful. She told me that I have been doing all the right things (ice, eccentric calf raises, massage, trigger point, etc) so it is healing faster than it otherwise would. So that is good. Plus, now I have that really cool tape on my calf. All the cool kids have it, didn't you know? Ha.

What was a bummer was that I missed out on the half marathon yesterday. Grrrrr. Instead of running it myself, I had to live vicariously through Nalani, who was instructed to go to the well yesterday. Of course she had pacing instructions, but they were aggressive and right on the edge of her current ability based on the training she has been doing. I knew she was ready to run a good race. And she did. She dropped over 14 minutes off her half marathon PR from last year. 14 minutes!!! She ran exactly what I was hoping she would run, and it just solidified in my mind that specific training works. Her race yesterday was not a fluke. She earned it, every step of it, and that is just really freakin' cool in my mind. I could not be more proud of her!

We talked about it this morning (of course, since I was living vicariously through her I wanted to know every detail!) and she mentioned how a year ago if someone would have told her that she would average 7:30's for 13 miles she would not have believed them. Shoot, even 3 months ago it was tough to imagine that as a realistic possibility. But I designed an appropriate training program for her, she executed it to a T, and she did it. 7:30's for 13 miles. Amazing.

Then she said to me (she's always so encouraging!), "Well now you know that you can do it too." And she's right. Well, minus my little calf injury right now, lol. But prior to the last 2 weeks, given that we did such a huge chunk of our training together, at the same paces, I do believe it is in me to do what she did! That is so cool. Mostly because I never really believed that I could be a good runner, but now I think I can be. Which is again, really freakin' cool.

Okay okay, it's all very wouldda couldda shouldda DIDN'T right now, but to that end, I am seriously ready to get all healed up so I can execute the kind of training that I know will yield some race results that a year ago I thought were just flat out out of reach. YAY! I am feeling quite encouraged. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go do my calf raises...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mama Did A Bad Bad Thing

Moana is in the process of potty training herself. I am not pushing it on her but I do ask her several times a day if she wants to go shi shi on the potty. Sometimes she says yes, sometimes she says no, and generally I've been taking her direction on it all. Lately there have been more yes than no answers so the potty thing has become semi regular.

I'm new to potty training and still have not read a lot about the techniques of how to do so with a toddler, but I think so far it's going fairly well.

Last night she went poo poo on the potty and got a lot of praise. So tonight before her bath I put her on the potty (after she said yes). She went shi shi and then said 'poo poo'. Ok, I figured that meant she should stay there a bit longer. I didn't bring any books into the bathroom so I figured we would sing to pass the time. I tried Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with her but she said, "No, Mama. A, B, C!" So we sang the alphabet song several times.

I'm not sure how it started, but somehow Moana started saying 'POO POO!!!" instead of one of the letters... and we were giggling... so I chimed in and took it a little further...

"a, b, c, d, e, f, POO POO, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, POO POO, q, r, POO POO, t, u, POO POO, w, POO POO, Y, and POO POO..."

She laughed so hard every time I sang that! It was hysterically cute. Then she took a dump. Nicely done.

I asked if she was all pau (Hawaiian word for done) and she said, "More poo poo." I thought that was odd b/c she had just taken a good sized dump, how could there possibly be more? But then again I wasn't about to put her into her bubble bath if there indeed was more poo poo coming, so she stayed on the potty. And insisted I sing the song. Well, it worked before right? So let me sing it again...

And again... and again...

I'm sure I sang it more than the alleged 7x that you need to hear something to allow it to permanently stick in your brain (and who am I kidding? Toddlers only need to hear something once to have it etched on their brains permanently). I kept thinking, "Kirsten is going to kill me when I take her back to daycare next week and she's singing our version of the POO POO alphabet song."

20 minutes later, after lots of giggling over the word POO POO, she was still insisting that there was more poo poo. My patience was wearing a bit thin by this point and her bubble bath was getting cold, so I told her to push it out. She repeated, "Push it out!" Then somehow I think I taught her the phrase, "Push out the big one!"

She never did go again, but yes, I taught my daughter the Poo Poo Alphabet Song and the phrase, "Push out the big one!" tonight. Mama did a bad bad thing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


This week has just flown by! I can't believe tomorrow is Friday already. I feel like I've been quite productive this week and theres some good stuff going on with work, so it's all good.

My in-laws are here visiting this week (from Northern Cal). It's good for Moana to get to spend time with them and of course they just love her. I have so many observations and thoughts from the last few days that are best not written on a public blog, so, sorry... Though I will say that I am just flat out amazed at those of you who have families of five. Five people go through A LOT of food. And dishes. Holy cow. With 5 people for dinner each night, I have to hand wash dishes or run the dishwasher every day if we want clean plates the next day. I guess I am spoiled with normally only having 2 people (Scott and Moana) to cook for each night.

This week would be a good week for me to be running a lot, but I am not able to do that yet. In good news, my calf is getting better and I am optimistic that it will be 100% better soon. The acute strain (torn muscle?) part was pretty minor and feels fine now. It's been feeling better and better every day and this morning I woke up and decided to head out for a 10 minute jog to test it out. I promised myself I would not get greedy and do more than 10 minutes no matter what (being greedy with my training is what always gets me in trouble)... And though I can say I did not feel pain this morning, my soleus  muscle did get super tight right away, especially on a slight incline. It was reminiscent of the way it felt at mile 5 of that 30K last week when I kept running (but should have stopped). I kept my promise to keep it short and easy, so I did not re-injure myself or anything, though I'm pretty sure that had I run faster and/or longer I would have hurt myself again.

But I am optimistic at this point because I feel pretty confident that there is just something in or around that soleus muscle that needs to be released and then the tightness will disappear and I'll be okay. To that end, I have an ART appointment on Monday, a massage on Wednesday, and an acupuncture appt on Sunday next week. If I'm not better after that, well, then I'll be seriously bummed. I actually think I'm gonna be better after the ART on Monday. That was magic for me last time I had a calf strain. Here's hoping for a Magic Monday.

I am feeling pretty bummed that I won't be able to race the half marathon on Sunday. I was seriously looking forward to this one. Now I will have to live vicariously through Nalani. And I'll have to find another half marathon in the spring to run...

In good news, turns out that when I'm not running I can fit in an extra swim session each week... and swimming 5x/week for a total of nearly 20,000 meters when I'm not tired from running is a recipe for strong swimming for me. I've had a couple of stellar workouts in the pool this week so that has been somewhat satisfying. I actually went ahead and entered a 2000M swim race for next Saturday. Haven't done this one since 2005 b/c I'm just not normally in the kind of shape to race 1.2 miles in November, but I think it'll be fun this year. I'll actually be there for the purpose of brewing coffee and serving it to the swimmers before and after the race (Coffees of Hawaii is sponsoring the Turkey Swim this year) so I figured if I'm gonna be there I might as well race!

I've also spent a bit of time on my bike. I managed to get out today during the only 2 hours it wasn't raining, though holy cow the wind was howling. It was actually sort of scary at times. But I'm a firm believer that you train in whatever conditions you are presented with that day (I can say that because I live where it never gets below maybe 65 degrees, lol) so I skipped the trainer and opted for the wet roads. Each time I go out on my bike lately I've been further clarifying my goals for 2011. Today the word on my mind was Durable. This spring I'm going to focus on making myself durable enough to run a solid marathon after biking 112 miles. You have to be pretty freakin' durable to do that. But it's possible. People do it. Just because I have not done it yet doesn't mean I can't train myself to do it, right? There are multiple areas of training I'll need to focus on to make that happen, but Durable is the goal!