Thursday, October 24, 2013

So I Figured Out Those Damn Muscle Spasms...

I've had like the biggest epiphany A-HA moment this week. Or moment(s) maybe I should say... Craziest story...

So last week I posted that I hoped I wasn't jinxing myself but that my running had been going well no injuries no whammies, etc. And then wouldn't you know it, two days later I woke up and out of the blue my hip feels all tight. Um, what!?? I did not understand. And over the course of the next ~48 hours it just got worse and worse to the point where I could not walk without limping, nor could I lift my leg. Like, at all. It even hurt to lay in bed as I was trying to sleep.

My range of motion in that left hip joint was severely restricted. It felt to me as though every muscle surrounding that hip joint was in such a state of spasm that the bone wasn't even seated correctly in the joint socket. I went about all my typical mobility drills and exercises and rolled it all out as best I could but felt like I wasn't even making a dent.

In a near panic I called SOS to my ART/chiro doc but of course he had no openings until next week. Acupuncture to the rescue! Magic Man did what he could, found and released a couple of the most obvious spasms but I limped out of his office still without full range of motion and felt incredibly bummed. :(

What had I done to deserve this? Blogged that I hadn't had an injury in 6 months?? WTF? I went back to my training log to see if I could make sense of it and find out where I'd gone wrong, but seriously, I could find NOTHING in there that even hinted at this coming. Last week was one of the lightest weeks I've had this whole year and no run was out of the ordinary in any way. AND the worst of it was that I felt like I'd finally earned coach's trust b/c just this week was the first time in forever that I was scheduled to go back to the track... He has not sent me to the track since I limped off in tears last April... with a hip so tight my foot went numb...

Then yesterday I was almost laughing at myself at the absurdity of it all... like Ha ha all I had to do was LOOK at that track workout in my Training Peaks calendar and boom I'm injured. (Sorry but Shane if you're reading this I could totally hear that statement coming from you! ;) And that got me thinking... seriously... is this like some sort of psycho-somatic thing? Is it possible that I saw that meaty track workout on my schedule and subconsciously freaked out and actually reversed into the physical injury state that I was in last time I was prescribed that track workout?? That's kinda creepy, no?

I've recently been working a lot on the mental side of things though and realizing more and more the amazing power of our brains and I thought shoot, what do I have to lose? If my brain brought this on, maybe my brain can fix it too?? So I got quiet and visualized all those muscles around my hip relaxing, and I envisioned that bone seated comfortably all the way in the back of that socket and moving freely in all direction... I visualized myself running at the track and feeling great and being healthy/strong and nailing that meaty session. (Fwiw, in case you're curious, I bailed on running this week since I couldn't walk properly... which is not how I reacted last time this happened... in April I just pushed right through the pain and ended up disabled for weeks. So that lesson I learned in earnest!)

Last night I continued my stretching/mobility/rolling stuff too but the difference was that now it felt like it was working. And this morning I woke up and lifted my leg with no pain, rotated it a little and heard/felt a huge POP and ta-dah, all the pressure was relieved and my range of motion was restored and I will not lie, I'm kind of freaking out at the astounding power of my brain to both disable and/or enable me.

I know this sounds super wacky and you can poo-poo it if you want and think that maybe I just needed a few days away from running but I'm telling you- my brain brought on those muscle spasms that restricted my joint range of motion- AND, my brain released them. I am sure of it. I also wonder now if my brain brings on the cramps I get during Ironman marathons? My gut is telling me it does. So it's not like I'm imagining the cramps- they are VERY real- but just that the negative state of mind I'm in when they happen is likely what triggers them. Maybe that's why nobody can figure out a real 'cause' for cramping? Theories of electrolyte imbalance and/or dehydration have all been debunked... and certain people cramp while others never do... My theory now is that I cramp when I get negative in my head. I can say for sure in Vegas that I was in a super PISSY mental state when my muscles seized up... like maybe that negative energy is what causes the spasm?? If I think about it, it's pretty rare that I cramp when I'm smiling and happy.

SO... my visualizations going forward are centered around my emotional state more than anything else... and my race plan for Cozumel will involve high-fiving lots of little kids. Because who can high-five a little kid without smiling and being happy? It's my new Ironman Cramp Avoidance Plan (ICAP). I'll let you know if it works! :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Hope I'm Not Jinxing Myself

Let's see how about a random post? Seems like I've thought of a bunch of things to blog about lately but none worthy of an entire blog in and of itself...

~Biggest news first! Maybe I shouldn't even write this down yet for fear of jinxing the situation but I'll take my chances... It *appears* that this condo is on its way to being sold and it *appears* that we have found a kick ass house to move into soon. And by soon, I mean that "we" will very possibly be moving the weekend I will be in Tempe cheering on my athletes who are racing Ironman Arizona. Whoops! Not sure how I lucked into that timing but my plane ticket is bought... Sorry Scott wish I could help you move but I won't be here... Anyway, some more paperwork has to go through (read: I have to keep signing documents I'm not even reading) and the bank has to officially say yes but assuming everyone at that escrow office does his/her job, then I'm going to come back from Cozumel and spend the month of December unpacking boxes and settling into our new home. A house with a yard! With an avocado tree! And a fig tree! Pinch me! It's a really nice house and after all those shitty tear down scenarios we almost got ourselves into, I'll be counting my lucky stars if this actually all works out. I'll also be selling avocados to help pay the mortgage.

~Back from Kona earlier this week and YIKES I was trashed. First time in a long time I can even remember bailing on a swim session mid-workout! That 10K on Sunday took a LOT out of me and I went to swim 2 days later (on Tuesday) and was like OMG I spent *all* my swim mojo on that 10K and have nothing left! I swam ~1K and decided I was wasting my time and really just did not need to be swimming that day (it was UGLY) so I got out, bailed on my planned bike ride, and came home and took a nap. It's not often at all that I bail on training but it's also not often I feel that trashed so I didn't feel the least bit bad about my decision. And you know what? I woke up the next morning and went to swim and had one of the BEST workouts ever. So really I just needed one more day to do pretty much nothing then it was like I had some sort of breakthrough. Super cool. While Nalani and I were swimming on Wednesday I was thinking that I felt absolutely bulletproof and was swimming really well and just not even feeling tired. Kinda freaky, really.

~I'm having a little breakthrough with my running right now as well. Finally!! I have not transformed into speedy runner overnight or anything but I have been running injury free and very consistently for months now and it's finally coming together. I think a very large part of that is in my head... meaning that as soon as I started truly believing that I don't actually suck at running, I started running like I don't actually suck at running. Funny how that works. So I will continue to explore this new finding of mine where I'm trying to rewrite the script in my head and see if I can make it play out on a race course in Mexico in a few weeks. Will keep you posted!

~For the most part I'm still on my no-wheat kick. As long as I eat mostly at home it's not that hard to do... in Kona it was more challenging and I did eat a wrap on race day when I was out/about town and was starving to death with no other options. And it wasn't the end of the world for me but I did wake up Sunday morning with swollen eyelids which I've come to find is 100% a wheat reaction. No wheat = no swollen eyelids. Eat wheat = swollen eyelids. Weird, right? I don't have any other really black/white symptoms like that but I can say that I just feel GOOD overall right now and my recovery day to day has been awesome so I have no desire to go back to eating wheat and other processed foods. I do find myself replacing wheat with more nutrient dense plant based foods so that's likely part of the reason I feel better. I do find I'm sleeping better too so that, of course, is a huge bonus.

~Speaking of my no-wheat-but-more-nutrient-dense nutrition plan, I made "pizza" from scratch tonight! Let's be honest it wasn't really pizza as it has a cauliflower crust, and it was harder than this recipe made it look (mostly b/c my BlendTec doesn't chop up the cauliflower very efficiently), but it was tasty! We ate it with a fork and really it was all plants and cheese. I added chopped garlic and basil and rosemary to the crust 'dough' before I baked it and then topped it with cheese, spinach, red onion, yellow pepper, and feta. Super tasty!

~Tomorrow is going to be a fun day! Kelly is here on Oahu so we are going to do an ocean swim with her then I'll get to hear her full Kona story in person over a beer at Dukes. Can't wait! Then we are taking Moana camping tomorrow night at a super cool botanical garden nearby where there is a free Blue Grass Festival... I bought marshmallows to roast on the bonfire and Moana is having a hard time waiting until tomorrow to eat those. :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kona Week 2013... Spectator Report!

We are home after a full week in Kona and the washing machine is working overtime. I took just about all of my sports bras and running shorts over there and put them to good use!

Helicopter buzzing the ocean race morning... Nice glassy water!

So the race was super fun to watch. I'll be honest though- last year I was not the slightest bit jealous of the athletes racing. Partly b/c I knew I was not fit enough to pull off a decent Ironman but mostly b/c the windy conditions last year were just going to make it a brutal day on the bike and I'd trained in that enough to know that racing in it just simply wouldn't really be very fun! This year, however, was a completely different story. First off, I think I am currently fit enough to pull off a decent Ironman and race day conditions were the best I've ever seen there in 9 years... I knew it was a PR type day and I was just salivating wishing I could be out there myself. After a couple beers though I was capable of putting my jealousy aside and cheering like a maniac. :)

Xena and Leanda running together at mile 2...

I've been a more serious fan of the sport in the last few years and have followed more closely the careers of many of the top pros. It's easier to do now with social media and blogs, etc... Possible to feel like you can get to "know" the pros a little better now which helps me pick my favorites. I do think pros do themselves a disservice by not (honestly) putting themselves out there. It's kind of part of the job description I think these days if they want to have fan support and also be supporting their sponsors, etc.

I paid a lot of attention to pre-race interviews and then consequently how athletes performed on the day. Couple things I found interesting... Those who came across as being the most cocky and sure of themselves pre-race actually had the worst days. Those who came across as a bit more reserved with a "we'll see" attitude seemed to, for the most part, do better. Several of the seemingly most confident athletes were actually hiding injuries. And the ones who appeared the most wafer thin ended up with DNFs. There's definitely a balance when it comes to race weight- the top pros were certainly not carrying any extra weight but they also didn't look gaunt and skinny like a few of the pros who actually DNF'd. Last year I remember thinking that Rinny looked skinny as a rail. This year, while it's not like she was carrying even an extra 1/2lb, she didn't- like last year- make me turn my head and think YIKES has she not eaten in a month?? And look how much stronger she was! It's just confirmation to me that thinner is not always better. There is a point where it is significantly worse to be too thin. Anyway. GREAT race for many of those athletes! I remember watching Rinny run at mile 2 and thinking She is running faster than the men! And sure enough, only 2 men outran her. Simply amazing.

Enough about that. :)

With Cozumel 7 weeks away (or is it 6? I've lost count), the week was an ideal time for a little personal training camp and the location couldn't have really been better. I always get super motivated to train in Kona, and when I'm seeing super fit athletes everywhere it just compounds the positive energy I already feel. I knew I would feel good over there so I requested a meaty week from coach and he gave me one! It was one of the most solid weeks I've ever pulled off and honestly, I surprised myself with just about every session going better than I anticipated. Some solid work got done and I couldn't be happier! I also taught myself some important lessons this past week... The #1 lesson was about how our brains dictate how we physically feel at any given moment. Since I had decided before I even got on the plane that I was going to feel awesome all week, it's no surprise that I felt awesome all week. :)

The #2 lesson I learned over the weekend is that fear is a huge motivator to swim faster than you normally can.

So the highlight of my year week was the swim I did yesterday morning with Hillary Biscay. She is training for UltraMan (Thanksgiving weekend) and wanted to get in the whole swim, which is ~10K (slightly more) and without really thinking it through, I begged to tag along. In all honesty I didn't give it a ton of thought until I was in the car driving over to meet her at the pier... All of a sudden I kind of had a holy shite what am I getting myself into moment. But that passed. I had a couple of gels and my cap/goggles/sunscreen and that was all I really needed. A gal was supposed to meet us there as kayak support but she was a no show... I mentioned to Hillary that I wasn't entirely sure I knew exactly where Keauhou Bay was (our finish) b/c I'd never finished a swim there... I'd been there several times but just wasn't sure I'd recognize which bay it was. She laughed and said she didn't really know either but we'd figure it out. Ok then! I tucked my gels into my suit and off we went. The first ~20' was a fairly relaxed pace- I felt good swimming and could feel that we were moving right along but it didn't feel hard. Then she started to pick it up so I got on her feet and just forced myself to stay there. I felt like I was racing an ironman... at times maybe even 1/2IM race effort. I can't track time at all in my head while I'm swimming in the ocean but after what seemed like forever- in reality after 75'- we finally stopped for a gel. I had a chance to look at the coast line to figure out where we were and guessed we were already more than 1/2 way there b/c I saw we were already past the TYR house, which I'd run by enough times through the week to know it was ~Mile 3 on Ali'i Dr. Wow- I calculated that we were on 2:30 pace. Yikes. And it's not like Hillary is known for slowing down... we were stopped for I'd guess less than a minute then right back on it...

I had so many thoughts of just wanting to slow down and stop working so hard but if I did that I would have been all by myself out there in the ocean and that was less appealing than simply continuing to WORK so I kept on the gas the whole damn time every stroke. Once or twice I lost concentration and would be slightly off the back and then I'd have to SPRINT to get back on so I really tried to not let even the slightest gap form... Had to balance that of course with avoiding touching her feet... I accidentally touched them a couple times but doing that was like pressing the accelerator button b/c she would speed up and I was like NOOOOOOOO as I was sprinting to stay on and avoid certain death. Anyway, we stopped briefly again for a gel at 2 hours and looking at the coastline I guessed we were at about the 5 mile mark so only ~1.2 to go... still on 2:30 pace. Head down back on it- next time we stopped was almost 30' later when we saw a kayaker and asked where Keauhou Bay was... oh back there, he pointed... HA! We were on our way right past it so we turned around and headed back into the bay with the docked boats. And honestly, as soon as I could see those boats and knew I wasn't going to die alone in the wide open ocean, I completely shut it down and cruised in easy easy... backstroke and breaststroke trying to shake off the effort of that 10K. Funny how once my fear was gone I couldn't force the pace anymore. Afterward I sent Nalani a text and told her I'd be a faster swimmer if I was more afraid that she'd just leave me out in the open ocean if I didn't hold pace. Lol.

Anyway, back home now and I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been hit by a bus! The fatigue has set in. Time to chill out and recover for a bit...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pro-Stalking in Kona

Aloha from Kona!

So I'm sitting out here by the pool while Moana floats around… she is very much enjoying her Kona vacation… As am I! We got off to a rather rough start and in the first ~15 hours we were we were operating under the premise If it could go wrong, it probably will… But even at 9PM when Moana was sitting on the sidewalk eating store bought mac-n-cheese with her fingers outside in the rain while I fumbled fruitlessly with the lock box on the condo we couldn't get into, we managed to keep our chins up and believe that eventually we would figure it out and get settled, and eventually we did! 

I've been on a bit of a training rampage this week and I have to say, there's really no place better than Kona during Ironman week to be an athlete in training! Screw that taper stuff… There's an ocean here where the water is clear and temps are perfect and buoys are all set up marking a full 2.4 mile ironman course. So swimming really could not get any better. And so far I've run ~24 miles, mostly along Ali'i Dr so I've got this nice view of the ocean and all the triathlon related nutrition companies have a table/tent set up somewhere along the way where you can stop and fill your bottle with whatever they are serving (and it's all ICE COLD so nice). Cytomax, Clif, GU, Skratch, Powerbar, you name it… They're all out there! And they're not the only ones… Tons of athletes, some racing but many just training, are out at all times of day walking and running and riding so there's pretty much no way to be out there without spotting *someone* you know. So that is cool!

I'm also trying to keep track of the past World Champions I have spotted in the last 2-3 days… Chrissie Wellington, Paula NF, Michiele (sp?) Jones, Mirinda Carfrae, & Pete Jacobs so far. Will keep looking because playing "Who Can Spot a World Champion" is a fun game to play here this week. :)

Yesterday I let down some of my inhibitions and totally allowed myself to be the dorky triathlete who walks right up to pros she recognizes and introduce herself (vs just silently gawking!) The Parade of Nations was going on along Ali'i Dr and there were tons of big name people there… I saw Jesse Thomas and without even thinking just JUMPED up from my seat on the curb and was like JESSE!! I AM A CRAZY ASS FAN! Yep. It was that bad! But when else do we little peons get to do stuff like that?? It went well with Jesse- he was genuinely nice (of course) so that gave me courage… So then when I saw that Tim O'Donnell tweeted that if we saw him walking we could introduce ourselves and he would give us a sweet Castelli Stealth cycling top so of course I was looking for him (and I found him!) Supposedly that top would (theoretically) save ~6' over 112 flat windy miles (um Hello IMCoz) so when I scored one of those the positive reinforcement I felt for approaching pros went through the roof! Next up was Mary Beth Ellis… Then tonight at this little Thai place we went for dinner, Julie Dibens walked in and I couldn't help myself b/c I'm a HUGE fan of hers and I think one day she is going to WIN this race and that's what I told her tonight. Yep. Full on pro stalking dork right here ladies and gentlemen! But it made Julie smile when I told her that so it's all good.

I'll be done with the pro stalking since it's now like 2 days before the race and time for everyone to get serious. Besides, I'm going to be on my bike for most of the next 2 days anyway and I'm guessing most of the athletes who are racing are not going to be out there drillin' it on the Queen K or anything… too late for that for them… but not for me! It's funny b/c I wasn't going to come for the whole week this year… I didn't think I'd want to be here since I wasn't racing. But the universe sort of conspired to allow it to happen and now that I am here I'm thinking I was crazy to think about missing this bc it really is such a cool experience, whether you're racing or not.

So what else?? Everyone staying at this condo complex seems to be from Europe (or so I'm guessing based on the languages I'm hearing). It's easy to forget what a truly international race this is until you hear people talking and realize you have no idea what they're saying… Lots of triathletes train in what look like race kits which I've found interesting. I tend to run in run gear and bike in bike gear but here I feel like I am in the minority with that.

Jen Harrison popped over this afternoon and we spent HOURS gabbing about anything and everything so that was super fun! I felt like I knew her already but really we just met for the first time today! She is exactly how I pictured she would be, but they always are when you can tell the blogs and social media posts are honest. :) 

Scott arrives tonight... Then Kelly and Patrick (my 2 athletes here racing) are coming over tomorrow night for dinner so that will be awesome to see them again! (And I can make sure they are eating well... it's all about the fueling you know!)

OK so that's the scoop for now! More later since I found an internet connection I can hack into if I sit in just the right spot on the couch...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ironman Fever

Tis the IRONMAN season, eh? I guess some athletes are winding down or whatever, but a lot of my team is still going going going! Kona next weekend (2 athletes racing) then IM Florida (2 athletes racing), IM Arizona (5 athletes racing), and finally finishing up with IM Cozumel (4 athletes racing). Phew! I'm actually going to be physically AT all of those with the exception of Florida... Moana and I head to Kona on Sunday so that should be a fun week... then I've got a rather long mainland trip around AZ and Thanksgiving coming up, culminating in Mexico! It's like All Ironman All The Time this fall!

AND, with that, I am going to Kona in less than 48 hours. Have not even thought about packing or making a list or anything. There's so much less stress when one is not racing! I will be taking all my training crap though and everything for Moana as well b/c she is coming with me for the week. She's pumped too. She's been working on a very special cheer for the athletes. I'll get a video of it and post it at some point next weekend. :) It's a true classic.

To make things even more exciting, I just crashed Hillary Biscay's 10K UltraMan swim that she's planning the morning after the race. I saw her post on Twitter and couldn't help myself! Like a pesky little sister or something I just begged to tag along!

This new development about this swim made me full full on GIDDY with excitement! Same swim we did at Kona camp in August but the opposite direction. It will be the highlight of my week!

Of course I love Kona week... getting to observe it all from the outside is a really good learning experience. I watch all the interviews and listen to what the pros have to say... I find that more and more interesting every year! Tough to pick favorites as there are so many talented athletes, but if I had to put money down on someone, I'd pick Caroline Steffen. She is a machine and it's her turn to win! Of course I'd say that though, right?? (I'm drinking the TeamTBB cool-aid) So I will cheer for her... and Jodie Swallow, even though it's her first crack on the Big Island. And MBE, even though she is all hurt right now from her bike crash... What a bad ass though for even considering racing with a broken collarbone?! Sentimentally I also like MBK. She just seems so nice and genuine and I don't know. something about her I just like even though I've never met her. :)

In other Ironman related news,  I threw my name in the hat for Cozumel. Physically my fitness is there... training has been so consistent and solid for the last at least 5 months (NO injuries knock on wood!) so it's hard to think about NOT using that fitness and doing an ironman this fall. What it comes down to is that I've got ~2 months to work on getting myself mentally fit for the event so that's really where my focus is at the moment. That race will be successful or not depending on my mindset. I've got a plan in place working on that aspect of it so we'll see how that turns out. :)

Anyway, will try to post some from Kona but will also try not to be completely obnoxious about it b/c I know how annoying that can be. Will be live tweeting on Saturday though so stay tuned for that! It will be better than IMLive coverage. Lol.