Friday, February 27, 2009

Team In Training - Sharing the Fun

This week our TNT coordinator asked if I'd mentor on the run team. I was already running as a participant and the team could use one more mentor. Without even thinking about it, I said sure. If TNT needs a mentor, I'm in it to win it. Mentoring is fun and it a great way to give back to Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Certainly there's also fundraising which I'm happy to do, but helping people reach their endurance race goal is a thrill.

Whenever I think about mentoring, I think about how much there is to learn about endurance events. Going into my first marathon, I had a ridiculously full fuel belt. I wanted to be prepared for any and all possibilities. It's as if I was packing for a camping trip, not a race. If you click on that first photo, it'll take you to the flickr page which lists everything I managed to pack for the race. That's not all. There's another photo of my race outfit and a third of my post race gear bag. The second photo is my gear/clothes for my second TNT event with a much smaller fuel belt and a lot less stuff. I was absolutely prepared for that race, but coaches and mentors and experience had taught me what was important to carry and what's okay to forget. Now, I carry even less.

Of course, this means that Steve is mentoring the cycle team and I'm mentoring on the run team. One of these days, Steve and I are going to need to align our event calendars.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day To Me

After the race in Phoenix, I was trying to explain the concept of Marathon Head to my friend Erica. Marathon Head is the stupor of fumbling confusion that happens to runners after an endurance event. It's not being physically tired; it's being completely out of glycogen. As we were leaving the parking lot I warned her to be careful, since most of the drivers were a bit impaired.

If she needed a demonstration of Marathon Head, I gave her one (or three) and I'd only done the Half Marathon:
  • On the way home from the race to her house, I lost my sunglasses in her car. I had them on my head and then I couldn't find them.
  • When we left for the airport, I forgot my cell phone. We drove back to her house and I got it.
  • When I got home to San Diego, I realized that I'd forgotten my Ipod...somewhere in the Phoenix area.
On Saturday I came home to find a box on my front porch. Erica had recovered both my sunglasses and Ipod and sent them home to me. (Thank you!!!) They were sweetly packaged in bright, happy Valentine's Day paper. Doesn't it look like a present?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting Advice from the Experts

Last night, we went to a lecture on planning your training calendar by Arnie Baker, M.D. He knows his stuff. Arnie is a doctor, a cycling coach, an adviser to the International Olympic Committee. He was a CAT 1 Elite cyclist with 200 wins and 6 US National Champion titles. He's coached for the Olympics, US National Championships and 40 US record holders. In his spare time, he's written books on cycling, endurance sports and nutrition. In other words, if Artie is speaking near you, go listen.

The audience at the lecture was mostly cyclists and a few triathletes. I was probably the only runner there, but I found an awful lot of useful information. A few minutes into his talk, I realized this was going to be really good stuff and I started taking notes on my blackberry. If you're interested, you can "read more" to see my notes.

Planning Training Periods - Arnie Baker, M.D.

Schedule time to fully plan your calendar for the year (or longer). The calendar should have blocks set aside for each training period listed. Each period should be months, not days.

Recovery - Downtime and preseason. Get your family, home, taxes in order. Recovery isn't just for your body, but also for your life in general. Everything needs to be ready for the rigors of training.
Foundation - Build your base of strength, aerobic fitness and overall endurance. Lot of miles.
Fitness Systems Prep - Work each system individually to build it: aerobic, lungs, legs, form, race nutrition, mental preparation. Utilize High-Intensity Training (HIT). Re-evaluate your goals. Do mental training to practice shifting your mental focus and using your focus to reach goals. As an example, on a hill do you focus on the whole hill, focus on the next small segment, focus on your breathing, focus on form. Knowing how to control your focus gives you options to conquer challenges.
Racing - The racing season.
Specialization - Specialization training to sprint, ride a century, run track, etc. Do specialization as needed for your discipline.
Peak - The planned culmination of your season when you plan to be your best.

Some other notes:
  • The most common mistake is going too easy during your hard workouts and too hard during your recovery workouts. It prevents full recovery which eliminates the progress gained by working at your maximum during hard workouts. Go easy when you go easy. Go hard when you go hard. Use your heart rate monitor to confirm your easy workouts.
  • You can't train hard all the time and probably much less than you expect. A limitation is the amount of glycogen your body can produce. If you're really, truly going hard - 2 hours per week.
  • Strength work only helps if it's at the correct time in your training calendar. Doing individual leg training or heavy weights will not help you during the racing season. Instead, it will leave you with dead legs.
  • While backdown weeks are needed, Arnie doesn't plan them for his athletes. Instead, when life (or soreness) demands a lighter week, it's not a big deal. No need to stress, we knew there would be some weeks of backdown.
  • When you're over training, your family knows before you do. If you're irritable or you go through your entire workout without any joy, then you're over training. If you think you need a day off of training, then you do.
  • Plan easy workouts in every week. If you don't, you're likely to have a bunch of mediocre workouts instead of a variation of easy and intense workouts.
  • How long you need to taper before a competition is dependent on the activity. Cycling may require only a day or two. Eccentric exercises, such as running, require a much longer taper.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Second Verse, Same as the First

Long time readers (both of you) may remember that my last tangle with cycling didn't end well. I decided to go back to marathons and I sold my beautiful bike to someone who loves it.

That left me without a bike which was kind of a bummer, because I missed the Team In Training spin classes. TNT spin class is different from spinning at the gym. Classes are held outside and you're on your own bike which is harnessed onto a spin training stand.

For the last few weeks, Steve has been searching Craigslist for a bike for me. Since I'm not doing endurance cycling I decided that I didn't need (or even want) a super-duper-all-carbon road bike. I wanted a solid bike with big fat tires - heavy and stable.

This weekend we found a nice hybrid bike and made an offer. The seller is training to be a professional cyclist which is perfect. Those types of riders take excellent care of their bikes. The bike he listed on Craigslist had been his commuter ride. (He also had a Trek Madone and a yummy Felt Triathon bike.) He was a total sweetheart and threw in spare tires, tubes, a rack and panniers. He also swapped out some pedals for me.

Last night Steve and I hit the TNT spin class. I was having a great time. To wrap up the class, we did some standing spinning. You won't believe this, but a pedal flew off the bike. If you're doing the physics, you can probably imagine how this went. I'm standing on the bike pedals. One bike pedal flies off. I slam down on the bike's top tube. Yep, right on the hoohaa. Ouch.

Sometimes, I think maybe I should stay off bikes entirely.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day To You Too, You Cranky Old Bat

For Valentine's Day, we had tickets to see the San Diego Opera's production of Don Quixote. We had a little adventure getting there because dinner ran long and then we had a mix-up with the seats. (We meaning me. Steve was sharp-eyed enough to realize we weren't in our normal spot.) We sprinted upstairs and got correctly seated with a minute to spare. Normally, Steve is the one who's itching to arrive early. This time, I was the one insisting that we sprint down B Street to the theater.

It was a beautiful production - funny, touching, romantic in it's quixotic way. Ferruccio Furlanetto was amazing as Don Quixote. He's a great singer, a great actor and a perfect fit for that part. There were a lot of things done very well in the production - the supporting performers were solid, the orchestration was joyful, the sets and lighting were fresh and stunning.

As the crowd milled out, we were discussing the high points of the show. Not that it was flawless, but there were plenty of things that were definitely praiseworthy. Apparently, not enough for the old bat walking behind us. She was harping on how "awful" Denyce Graves was as Dulcinea. The old bat prattled on about how she was "horrible" two years ago and worse now.

For the record, Denyce Graves wasn't horrible at all. Admittedly, the first act wasn't kind to her; her costume was oddly barrel-like and the staging was off. (Dulcinea shows up and the party stops? Huh? Whatever Dulcinea's flaws, she wasn't a buzzkill.) However after a soft start, Denyce Graves gave a solid performance. Was she up to the level of Furlanetto? No, but it's sort of like saying Scottie Pippen wasn't as good as Micheal Jordan. Really, who was?

That harpy old bat really poisoned it for me. For the life of me, I will never understand why some people feel superior by being a harsh critic. It doesn't make you superior. It just makes you an unappreciative ass.

Photo credit: I swiped the photo from Aria Serious - the San Diego Opera blog.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Three Mammals Live In This House

Guess which one snores...

For now amuse yourself with Toby snoring and I'll be back with a real update soon. Life has been busy. The good news is I'm back to running with Team In Training first thing in the morning.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Race Notes: Surf City Half Marathon

Let me start by admitting that doing a half marathon on a sprained ankle may not have been the wisest decision ever. If this had not been the final race of the California Dreamin' series I wouldn't have run at all. However, I really, really wanted my California Dreamin' medal and jacket.

After I sprained my ankle, folks at Rehab United gave me some excellent advice about wrapping and icing and the swelling was greatly reduced by the end of week. Also, thanks to nasty cold that smacked me hard on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I had plenty of rest. It's easy to keep your ankle elevated if you can't get off the couch. By the race my ankle was as good as I could have hoped.

My plan was to walk the race to reduce the impact of running. When I got going, I figured out that running wasn't going to be a problem but swelling might. Time to replan my race strategy. I wanted to get the race wrapped up as quickly as possible; therefore, I was running a lot in the early miles.

My nutrition was off somehow, because my energy lagged in miles 8-10. I'm pretty sure I was drinking enough, but maybe I should have gotten some additional electrolytes. The problem could have been that it was a pretty boring course, with a long (boring) out and back. I really felt for the marathoners who had to run 1 section of the course 4 times - the boredom would be too much for me.

At the end of the day, I came home with two of the prettiest medals in my collection. The surfboard is a classic woodie surfboard. The California Dreamin' medal is gorgeous, huge and heavy. Man, I love that thing.