Sunday, September 21, 2014

Melted Crayons & The Bunny Swim

So ya maybe we live in 'Paradise' but it's not all awesome all the time. This summer has been one of the hottest summers I can remember in my 10 years here. Usually we have a nice Tradewind flow keeping our temps and humidity level reasonable. It sounds all great to be less windy but hot damn this place becomes an inferno when you remove the wind.

This sort of sums up how swimming has gone recently.
So you can imagine how the running has been going... Yesterday I had a longish run that included 4x10' hard. I started at 7AM which was too early for my body but not early enough to avoid the heat and am too embarrassed to admit how many times I sat down in the shade during that run. Ok not really too embarrassed- 3x. Hi my name is Michelle and I sat down in the shade 3x during a 10 mile run. That was in addition to the 2x I stood directly under a cold shower at a beach park (fully clothed- shoes too yes- but I should have removed my ipod). Just trying to survive.

I then got home and wrote the following in my Training Peaks notes: (This is what Marilyn has to endure from me. I don't think I pay her enough.)

"I am *creaky* in the mornings (ankles, mostly) these days but it's so f'ing HOT that there's no other time to attempt a run like this. did some eccentric calf dips and banded ankle mobility stuff before I left and that helped a ton. Drove 3/4 mile down the hill to the pool to start this so I wouldn't have to run/walk up the hill to my house at the end (so lazy?! But given how I felt at the end was a great call) Felt awful to start and Did not feel ready to start going harder after 20'... plus had to go to the bathroom (again) so extended the w/u until I got to a beach park where there were bathrooms. So started the faster pieces at 28' (it's obvious on the graph/file where I did those). Felt better than I anticipated on the 10' pieces and managed to run 8:15-8:20 pace for the most part (not quite flat but sections weren't really hilly until #4 which was slower than the others but every bit as hard). Wore HR separately so it's not on this graph/file but it was mostly upper 160's for these 10' pieces up to 171 I think at the end of each. I took longer than 2' recovery after each (except the first one) b/c I ended #2 and #3 at the beach park and just went and stood under the cold shower for a minute or two trying to cool off. I'm having a hard time getting my brain to be anything but pissy in this weather- like all I think the whole time I'm running is "it's so fucking hot it's so fucking stupid hot..." My 'cool down' was a pathetic walk/jog/slog up the hill to my car and then I laid down in the shade on the sidewalk and made a sweat angel on the concrete. I drank 2 bottles before I started (1 water, 1 osmo pre-load) then 1 bottle osmo + 2 bottles water during the run. Stomach actually felt sloshy toward the end like that was too much fluid but I still lost a pound during this run so thinking it's prob just impossible to get the fluid balance right when I sweat like I do (a TON) and it's this humid."

Then of course I started to wonder if I'm just being a whiny loser for complaining about the heat so much?? You know maybe if I just get over myself and ignore it I'd be able to still pull off some decent training sessions? Then Moana brought me her crayons and I decided that I wasn't just imagining it.

So what to do when winds still aren't back the following day? Take advantage of some abnormally calm ocean water and organize an epic swim, of course! It was Marcy's idea, actually, but once she put it out there I latched on and gathered the troops... texts flying all day yesterday... Most of us had never swam out to Rabbit Island before. It's officially named something else but apparently at one time it was inhabited by a couple of rabbits, who multiplied as rabbits are known to do, and the population exploded... they proceeded to eat everything green on the island until it was no longer green and then they all died off. Anyway, we call it Rabbit Island and Moana is sure that the Easer Bunny lives there. So if course she was stoked to go too!

We had a group of 8 cool swimmers plus Scott escorting on a paddle board, Nalani in a kayak, and Ted on his SUP. Then we also had Marcy's husband Bo driving an escort boat (Moana rode the boat!) just in case we ran into sharks or whatever and all had to immediately flee to safety. I guess that's the issue with this water more so than some other places we frequently swim... Everyone says it's 'sharky'. Mark brought his Shark Shield though which is this electronic thing that apparently emits some sort of signal that makes us uninteresting to sharks so Scott dragged that along behind his board as some insurance or something. It worked!

Anyway, was an awesome swim/paddle/boat ride out to the island (not allowed to land on it as it's been designated a sanctuary- birds and monk seals- we saw both from the water!) The whole way out I was just so happy and thinking This is why I train... so I can go do awesome stuff like this on the weekends... at the drop of a hat... wanna go swim to that island? Why yes I would thank you... This, to me, is living.

Feet up!

 Our kids watch us...

Mark had swam this area once before and said the cliffs off to the side were worth swimming around to see, so we did that... and indeed... so cool. We hung out here for quite some time just treading water and talking and smiling and just generally enjoying our surroundings.

Then the best thing happened... Moana was yelling to me from the boat MOMMY CAN I JUMP IN?? Um YES of course I thought the fact that she wanted to was just awesome... so she fearlessly cannon-balled her way into this deep blue water and hung with us all and I was just so proud. And it made me realize once again that our kids are just products of their surroundings. They watch us and they see what we do and they adopt our values. Moana has grown up watching her daddy surf big waves and her mommy swim long distances and I'm sure she sensed the jovial mood of our gang in the water so if we are not afraid, why should she be afraid?

So anyway, this swim today made up for the run yesterday. Hawaii really is paradise, even when our crayons are melting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On Motivation...

I've had like 100 ideas for blog posts floating around my head recently and realized a common theme among a lot of it has to do with motivation... So I'm just going to start typing and will see what comes out. :)

I find myself highly motivated to run right now. Like, even more than last month when I wrote about how motivated I was to run. :) I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I'm seeing more and more glimpses of progress. Of course not every run is awesome, but every time I run I have this strong gut feeling that I am chip chip chipping away... And then I'll have a little breakthrough type of run and think WOW maybe I actually am not doomed to just be a shitty runner my whole life?!

So of course I'm paying close attention to it all and how Marilyn is structuring it for me and it's been interesting. One thing I can say is that she is working on making sure I have more than just one speed. Every week I hit all paces from sub 7 to 10+ for differing amounts of time... I'm running frequently vs long. I'm not paying attention at all to weekly mileage (seriously have not added it up in my head or looked at totals in Training Peaks) but frequency of runs is 5-8x/week and that's been good. I run short hills, long hills, uphill reps, downhill reps, treadmill reps, easy jogs, tempo effort, threshold effort... I'm even doing drills a few times/week which I think have been hugely helpful.

What I find interesting though really is how much I am just shutting my brain off and trusting the process right now. Like not micro-managing my weekly mileage... That is new for me! I've NEVER not added up those numbers... Also, my HR monitor is separate from my Garmin at the moment... mostly b/c my Garmin HR monitor crapped out on me (again) and I have not been motivated to buy yet another one... but then my neighbor had this super basic Timex one that literally does nothing but show you current HR and she gave that to me... So I'm loving that b/c on my easy days I can just go out and run by HR and time and not have any idea about pace (so therefore I cannot judge myself about that) but rather instead I'm just putting in the time at the right effort level... Then on my more specific/hard days I can use my garmin and watch pace and try to hit whatever I'm supposed to hit and not let HR numbers screw with my head. This has been a real game changer for me- to separate HR from pace yet still use them both as tools when appropriate.

Back to motivation! So I think that for me (and I'm guessing I am not alone here!), when I sense that I am doing it... that my goals are within reach... motivation sky rockets. It's a very positive spiral because I start doing all the little things that also help along that path.

Related: I have been carrying an extra 8-10lbs all year. I willfully gained that weight last December after my disappointing race in Cozumel by spending the month not training and indulging in all things sugar and chocolate. I ASSumed (no worries!!) that it would all drop right off when I started training again in January but shocker- it did not!?! Apparently now that I am 40 I do not have the metabolism I once did and weight does not just fall off without a seriously conscious effort. Interestingly though I have tried all sorts of things this year trying to get that weight off but it never happened.

Now I should note: I know I am not 'overweight' in the sense of being healthy, but as far as achieving my best running? I have not been at a weight that is conducive to that. There is a difference and I am well aware of it... So my efforts at the moment to drop these pounds is not about being healthy as much as it is about running faster... and having written and re-read that, it sounds like I'm starving myself and on my way to an eating disorder (never gonna happen I love food!) so don't take it like that! But hopefully you get my point. I believe I can drop a few more pounds and still be considered 'healthy' (and also not look like a stick figure).

But if I 'tried' for 8 months to lose weight but never did it, why/how is it happening now? Have I cut out half the food groups? Or stopped eating food altogether in favor of juicing all the time? Ha! No. I'll tell you what I have done. I got on the scale (brave!). Then I ate less that day. Then I got on the scale again the next day. I stopped mindless snacking when I wasn't hungry and I didn't go back for seconds after dinner. And I kept doing that... every day. So for me, it's not about eliminating sugar or bread or meat or dairy. It's about being moderate. It's also about paying attention... What gets measured, gets managed. So I break that dumb rule about not weighing yourself more than once a week or whatever... I weigh myself often and find it interesting to see how my weight fluctuates through the day based on hydration levels. I don't judge myself based on whether that glass of water I drank caused the number on the scale to go up 1/2lb (duh of course it did!). Anyway, back to motivation...

So as I see the number on the scale go down, I feel my running getting better! I feel less like an elephant and more like a gal who can run. That is motivating! So when my husband brings home a bar of dark chocolate (true story I am not kidding it just happened as I was typing this) I was able to take a small bite of it, savor it, and then give the rest of it back. I am more motivated to feel good while running than I am to get the temporary satisfaction of eating more of that chocolate. So that's it... I am motivated to continue what I'm doing because I feel it working. It's not an overnight process and I don't know how long it will take to reach my goals... shoot, I don't even know exactly what my goals are?? Interesting, no? What's my goal for the marathon? I don't know. I guess it would be to run it and to feel stronger than I usually do... and maybe not want to flick Nalani off if she's trying to take a picture of me while I'm out there... Funny though I have not put a number on what the clock should say at the finish... same way I have not put a number on what the scale needs to say before I'll feel like I've reached my 'goal'. I feel like I'll just know when I get there. And right now I just feel like I'm on the right road and have an awesome map! It's motivating! :)

Anyway, I had (have) a ton more things (some related and some not) that I could write about, but I am going to go spend some time rolling this old body out so I can run again tomorrow and not have super stiff tissues that are all pissed and rebelling...

Monday, September 8, 2014

A 5K/20K Weekend

This past weekend we got to go up to the North Shore and race a new ocean swim race... the 5K that went from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay...

Athletes could choose to do it solo OR as a relay, which made for a fun team event and opened it up to more people than maybe would have been interested otherwise... I've done this swim several times in training with friends. In fact, my friend/athlete Kevin and I did it on the 4th of July just for fun. :) The water up there in the summer is seriously gorgeous and it's one of my favorite places in the world to swim.

Unfortunately, I came down with a bit of a virus last week... one that made its way into my chest and left me coughing up some ugly sticky stuff. It's always a bummer going into a race you're excited about when you don't feel healthy but the idea of staying home and missing this was worse than the idea of doing it while sick so it was an easy decision to go ahead and swim. Maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me something, given that the night before the race I had a dream that I did this swim while wearing a fleece jacket and towing my purse...

The turn out for this first year race was really good- 200+ athletes brave enough to challenge themselves over the distance. Pretty cool I thought! That said, the mass start was easy... I heard the horn and started swimming and never got touched. Given that I didn't feel like myself, I kept a pretty relaxed conservative effort/pace and just cruised along. So weird I didn't see ANYONE around me... no one to the left or right as far as I could see (which was pretty far b/c water clarity up there is as good as it gets). I wasn't leading or anything- I knew there were a bunch of swimmers up ahead- but these types of races there are not buoys every 150M like there are in triathlons so most everyone just spreads out and does his/her own thing heading in the general direction down the coast. That said, I did feel some tapping on my feet off/on for the first ~45' of the swim and turns out while I wasn't towing my purse, I was towing Sergio, which I actually didn't mind doing at all. I was proud of him for sticking on my feet and perfecting the art of the draft!

I've said it before and I'll say it again- I think the ocean is healing and is a good place to go when you're not feeling well... Maybe 1/2 way through this swim I actually started to feel a bit better and kind of picked up the pace. (Sorry Sergio!) I then spent the rest of the swim finding swimmers up ahead of me and picking them off one by one. So that was a fun way to finish the event. I actually had a bit of a race right to the finish line and managed to out sprint an 18yo through Waimea Bay which has probably never happened to me. Ever. Turns out, the only way I can out-sprint an 18yo is if she swims 4500M first. Then I can get her in the last 500. Lol.
Waimea Bay is amazing. I stole this picture off Facebook.

Anyway, this is now easily my most favorite ocean swim race ever. The atmosphere after the race was fun... full of friends and a good local community vibe. They gave out these awesome cookies as awards (made by the wife of the swimmer who placed 3rdOA in the race!) This pic is actually of someone else's cookie... Mine got devoured by a little blonde 5yo as soon as she saw it. I bet they tasted really good though?

So that swim took just about all the energy my body had that day and I was pretty useless the rest of the afternoon/evening (sorry, Moana!). That said, I was signed up for a 20K run race the following day and decided that since I was capable of doing the swim race, I should also then be capable of doing the run race, no?

Turns out, for me, swimming a 5K while sick is 100x easier (and a good bit faster!) than running a 20K while sick. I really tried to keep an open mind and told myself that I came around and felt better 1/2 way through the long swim race, so maybe the same would happen in this 20k run?? Ha! No. I seriously considered dropping out around mile 8 when we ran right by the finish line... but then decided that jogging it in was preferable to a DNF so that's what I did. Nalani was there with her camera taking pictures and I kind of wanted to slit her throat every time I saw her pointing that thing at me... but instead I just shook my head and laughed and flicked her off for trying to capture this failure of mine on film. There may or may not be a picture of my middle finger surfacing later in the week.

I got home yesterday and spent most of the rest of the day online 'watching' Ironman Wisconsin... Apparently the "live" coverage in Mt Tremblant was non-existant... I would have missed it anyway b/c I was sleeping and then at the 20K... I may or may not have skipped most of my run warm-up though in favor of checking my twitter feed trying to see the updates on who was winning that race... good thing for Twitter, eh?

Anyway, now I rest and try to give my body the time it needs to get back to healthy. In good news, my two week stint as single mom ends tomorrow as Scott finally returns from his two week surf trip to Indonesia...

Monday, September 1, 2014

On Being Proactive

I might not be the most talented runner it the world, but I really love running! The more often I run, the better it feels, which allows me to enjoy it even more... And then I am motivated to run MORE... and so goes the cycle.

For the most part, this is all be good. The only issue, really, is that I am not 25 anymore! I am running almost every day (often quite hard!) and consequently I have a few body parts that are starting to whisper to me that they might not be 100% happy with my recent running intensity. Of course the best way to improve your running is to run consistently and I know this... Must.Avoid.Injury... With that in mind I find myself going way out of my way to proactively keep myself healthy.

The tissues on the bottom of my right foot were feeling uncomfortably tight last week. It wasn't a sharp pain at the heel so I wasn't super stressed about plantar fasciitis, but it didn't seem like a stretch to understand that if I ignored that stiffness and just kept running, I'd end up hobbling every morning and eventually would be unable to run! So instead of ignoring it, I took a couple of proactive steps...

~Put a lacrosse ball under my desk and rolled my foot out on it a few times/day while I was working (doing it right now in fact!).

~Use my trusty Supernova ball all up and down my calves. That supernova ball gets used daily- I seriously don't think I'd be healthy without that thing. Hands down my favorite tool for body work! I use it on my glutes, adductors, psoas, and calves.

~Started doing some foot strengthening exercises... standard stuff just squeezing my toes super hard, moving towels around with my toes, etc.

That stuff seemed to keep it from getting worse and allowed me to keep running, but I still felt the stiff tissues so didn't have complete confidence that I was in the clear. In good news, for the last ~4-5 months I've had a standing weekly appointment with Dr Zen at The Zen Center so I had him take a look at it. Dr Zen pretty much works magic... He used his electric stim thing on my calves/feet and then adjusted my ankles to his liking and wouldn't you know it? Completely pain free walking out of his office! So it seems maybe I dodged a bullet with that one, but I know I have to keep up the rehab stuff so it doesn't come back.

Yesterday, I got to run twice! Hill reps in the morning then hill reps again in the afternoon! Woohoo!

Fitting all this training in while acting as a single mom while my husband is out of town has been no easy feat, but with the help of awesome friends, I've managed. However, it does mean I am at the mercy of anyone who is willing to watch Moana. Yesterday that meant doing repeats up/over Diamond Head for an hour at 2PM on one of the hottest days of the year while my kiddo played in the ocean. Moana had a blast while I got my hurt on. (Thanks to Kelly!)

Speaking of getting your hurt on, you can imagine how hill repeats twice in one day made my achilles tendons feel... Once again I spent some quality time with my Supernova Ball digging into my calves last night... and my next appt with Zen is tomorrow! My confidence is high that I'll be just fine, but in the meantime, I'm doing a sets of eccentric calf dips whenever I get to a step.

So that's the thing- to achieve your running goals, you have to push some limits. But while you're pushing those limits, understand that your injury risk is going to be higher so you have to go out of your way to keep yourself healthy. Be proactive and listen when body parts start whispering to you. Don't skip those PT exercises, roll yourself out often, and find talented professionals to help!

See you on the roads!