Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Indoor is Okay

I've got this April Ironman staring me down, and when I signed up for it, I fully expected to be dealing with a winterful of cold weather raining. Of course, that was last July, the middle of the summer. Still this idea was strongly re-enforced when we went to Florida for the Ironman and it was too cold and windy in the mornings to go and run.

So it's been a bit of a shock to do three hour rides outdoors, long runs in a singlet and shorts and so on. We've had 60 degree days this month. Still, it is wintertime and eventually it had to actually get cold.

Like many triathletes, during the week I'm basically on a two workout a day schedule. I have three potential workout slots- early morning, lunch, after work. It's almost never feasible to do both workouts in one of those slots. Starting last week, I made a habit of getting one workout completed in the morning, and the second at lunch if possible. Early morning workouts are runs or spins, always inside (it's still dark when I start). And last week all the lunch workouts were runs or swims.

I don't like the treadmill any more than most triathletes. I recognise the beauty of it- for those days when coach hands down a workout with 2-3 minute excelerations or hill climbs, the treadmill is the way to go. But for long runs, it kind of blows. However, i'd been on the treadmill all week, just because of when my runs were falling in my day. So after doing a spin run brick Saturday all in my basement, I found myself with the baby monitor on starting a long treadmill run.

I also found out that the treadmill had gotten an exercise ball stuck under it and the belt had slipped partly off a stay on the underside. After 10 minutes of running, I stopped the treadmill, fixed the problem, and decided instead of 4 thirty minute programs, I would just jack the treadmill up to the maximum nuber of minutes, set it at a slight incline and go.

Turns out our treadmill only goes to 99 minutes and then counts down to zero. If you've never watched a treadmill count down from 99 minutes, you're lucky. I was doing fine for about the first sixty, watching the 1/4 mile laps go by, but then, it just got a little brutal. I was watching The Village and listening to music from my ipod. At about 25 minutes left I had to shed the ipod just to get a change of environment, on the idea that I'd be able to hear The Village (although I have a feeling hearing the dialog would have been of little help)- I was thinking they should change the name of the movie to M. Night Shyamalan's What the Hell ? Maybe hearing the dialog would have helped, but I do NOT recommend this movie as a treadmill movie.

I got to zero, hopped on my bike to loosen my legs and watched the 'end (?)' of the movie.

And while I suffered while I was on the treadmill, I felt good having gotten that long 'run' in.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cleanse- Day 12- January 13th

The Plunge.

I'd gotten myself in over my head, literally this year. I'd raised 645.00 for the Plunge, which meant I had to get over my head into the water. Despite the warm air temperature, the water temperature is pretty much what it is this time of year, which is cold. It takes a lot for salt water to freeze, and we certainly aren't there, but the sand and the water were bound to be cold.

I'd decided that I'd have all of my water drank and not eat anything not on the diet until we hit Bar at night, so I got up, drank a water, ate my grapefruit and pineapple, packed an apple and soybean butter just in case we were out past 10 am, and we headed out.

We had 18-20 people for the plunge this year, a good number. It was certainly better than the year that it was 16 degrees out. the tide was a little out and I don't have sandals. Next year, I wear sandals. I had promised my donor group that I was going in over my head and there would be pictures to prove it. I went in over my head and came out and went and looked at the digital camera. No pictures.

I went in a second time. I went under. I came out and looked at the camera. No picture. At this point, the water was starting to feel okay, and feet were completely numb, so I had nothing to lose. I went in a third time and we got some not all that convincing pictures.
There was another one of Eric's clients there and he took pictures and after the fact I found this picture of me, apparently doing the butterfly, which I'm not sure I really know how to do- on the first attempt.

Hopefully you got what you paid for and I REALLY want to thank the twenty-one people who helped me raise the money I did. Eric informed us that the money we raised is going to allow the family we sponsored this year take their two autistic children to a specialist in Boston. That's just awesome, and makes things like a little cold water, or the Cleanse, seem a lot less meaningful.

Jason Williams won the 25.00 Product (red) iTunes gift card.

Cleanse- Day Eleven- January 12th

I'm writing this after the end of my cleanse, but looking back on Friday, I'd say that it was in many ways the easiest day of the cleanse. Things had calmed down at work, I had plenty of time to get a decent swim in, and I had my cleanse rythm going.

The biggest addition to the cleanse this year has been pineapple, which was Margit's idea. I'm not much for oranges, so after my grapefruit I've been kind of stumped. I have eaten pears a number of days, but the pineapple is by farthe best second fruit I've had during the cleanse. It's funny how a little thing like a cup of pineapple before leaving or in the car can help carry through to the mid-morning snack.

Of course, I also knew that come tomorrow (Saturday) night, it was pizza and beer at Bar after the plunge, which was a goal I'd had since the cleanse started.

I also passed the ten pounds lost barrier the day before and Eric had told me that after I lost ten pounds I could stop. I ended up losing eleven before we went to Bar.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cleanse- Day Ten- January 11th

Today I did my first early morning workout on the cleanse. I'm sure other people on the cleanse are doing early AM workouts regularly.

I tend to think these early workouts are rough because you haven't taken in any calories for about 10 hours and I don't have time to eat anything before I start. I did forty-five minutes on the treadmill at 6 AM and was surprised, after two workouts yesterday, that I felt pretty good this morning tooling along on the treadmill while listening to Evanescence, Snow Patrol, Godsmack and a few others.

I have to say that while my late-night homework, computer gaming and inability to turn off the Daily Show or Colbert Report make getting up less easy than it should be, there's nothing like having one of your workouts under your belt and having that early morning pickup.

Just don't ask me to get in the pool at 6 AM. No swimming before 7:30 AM....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cleanse- Day Nine- January 10th

The rest day turned out to be for the best.

I felt recharged today- hitting the treadmill at lunch and spinning on the bike after work, which I left a bit early to get in the shopping for dinner and cleanse materials. The day off allowed my legs to return to the fresh feeling I'm used to after a day off, and to be honest, today even the cleanse felt a bit easier, although maybe that was just getting my lunch at 1:30 instead of 3:15.

Judging from the way the cleanse has gone and the instructions I've gotten, my will probably end Saturday night, but even if it goes until next Tuesday, I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel....

Cleanse Day 8- January 9th

I never plan on skipping a day of workouts during the cleanse and in fact I rarely plan to skip a day period (unless coach says so).

Work, however, doesn't really give a crap about my workout schedule. So the fact that there was no hope of a workout (and my lunch came three hours late) was just one of those things. Granted, this doesn't happen that often, but when it does, it's mildly frustrating. Especially on an empty stomach, cut off from my water, which I'd been doing a better than average job of, er, choking down in gulps...

I was pretty frustrated by the time I came home, and had plenty of homework between me and a short spin or run on the treadmill. So I decided to take it in stride, use it a rest day. And that turned out to be a good thing...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Cleanse Day 7- January 8th

Wow ? Some days you walk into work and it's a buzzsaw- it was like that today. We had a 3 hour power outage in the wee hours and it played havoc with our systems.

I was actually looking forward, therefore, to hitting the pool at lunch for my easy 2000 yard swim. (Easy 2000 yards, alan ? I can hear you laughing.)

I was again getting blown away by the same woman in the lane next to me. then again, she got in after I'd swum 500 yards and was out again before I was finished. Slow and steady, baby, as Al Davis would say if he was still coherent (which he isn't). Swimming is kind of a weird activity- you can sort of feel everything- arms, legs, torso. While my legs are still a little bit leaden, I felt good in the pool today. On the other hand, the 9 pounds I've dropped hasn't made me any more bouyant. Overall, it was a restful swim, which was good, because after lunch at work was like two buzzsaws coming from opposite directions.

The big thing today was that we planned to go to Kampai after work for hibatchi. Hibatchi on the diet, you ask ? Well, we drink tea, don't eat the rice, and don't eat the noodles and yes, it fits the diet. Bean Sprouts, stir-fried veggies, mushrooms, some protien (salmon for me), a salad and some soup. This is the highlight meal of the cleanse and if you are struggling- give it a try.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Day 6- Is the Cleanse Good for Your Workouts ?

I went into the weekend thinking that the long bike ride Saturday would be the harder of the two workouts because of its length. I was still thinking that until about five minutes after I started running today.

Having said that, yes, I think that one of the the things the cleanse is good for, at least for me, is my workouts. Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is a performance nutrition plan. I won't be doing a two-week cleanse ending the day of an Ironman, although a short mini-cleanse within a few weeks of a big race might not be a bad idea...

There's a reason the cleanse comes in January. Well, there are several reasons, and that's for EH to say, not me. But I know for me, I'm in a re-building period. I've taken my two weeks off, I've started up my workouts again and I'm certainly behind the curve a little bit relative to where I was and where I want to be.

Which is OK, and which is the point as well.

I have some good training habits and some bad training habits. One of the bad habits I've developed on the bike is knowing what speed I can ride at what heart rate on a good day. My heart rate on the bike tends to be lower and I can push harder for longer and stay in a particular zone. The problem is that every day is not a good day, or at least the same day, and getting fixated on speed is counter-productive. Nevertheless, there are days I come back from a ride and look at the computer and-

Yesterday was not going to be one of those days. That's not to say that I was planning to dog the ride and use the cleanse as an excuse. But it was my first outdoor ride in about two weeks, I was supposed to be doing a steady ride in B, and that's what I went out and did. There was no stress about the fact that I was riding the route a good two miles an hour slower than normal.

I went out today with lowered expectations. My legs were a little tired, it was kind of a late start. But again, I didn't stress about it. I just did my run. I use out and back loops when I am training for an Ironman. There's no question you're going to be doing at a multi-loop course at an ironman, and I find the out and back's comparative monotony to a single loop actually helps prepare for that repetition. I can't say the run felt good- and there are days that they do. I anticipated falling far short of how far I ran last time I did the run, which was about 10 days ago.

I didn't run as far today as I'd run last week, but I did run far enough that I could see where I'd run to last time- a few hundred yards difference over 45 minutes. And while I didn't push as hard as I'd had last time on the way back, I still managed a decent negative split of over a minute.

I was tired when I got done, no doubt. I didn't feel all that great. But I'd had a good solid run, close to what I'd done last time. If the cleanse had done anything, it had just been to control me a little bit, and keep me in the workout. As EH says, we are not starving, after all. There's no reason for our workouts to fall off the cliff.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Day Five- Saturday

Today was probably the biggest workout I'll have on the cleanse, a three hour bike ride.

It was supposed to be sunny and 65 today. It was. After I got done riding, that is. It was still foggy and wet, about 50 when I started riding, and it was still soggy and wet after 2 hours. However, it was about 50 or 55 the whole time and at 2 hours I pulled off my jacket and shoved it in the centre pouch of my cycling jersey. I hadn't ridden outside in two weeks and I felt a little tentative on small wheels and a wet road especially since I had no choice but to pump the wheels up.

It was not my best ride, but I wasn't sent out to have my best ride, just a steady ride. Unless you're Kenny, your bike may not be in prime shape in January either. So there was some noise, a sense the bike wasn't functioning like a well oiled machine, but mostly I just felt like I was sort of all over the place- sliding forward on the seat at times, climbing a little slowly. I tried to settle in and just work on having good technique as parts of my feet started to kind of fall asleep.

I'd asked Eric about nutrition for the long workout and he said for the long workout, stick with my usual plan- a package of ClifShot blocks every 45 minutes and 1 16 ounce bottle of gatorade endurance. I mix the Gatordae myself and I mixed it half-strength from my supply of water. In the end I only used one pack of the Blocks.

I rewarded myself for the ride with a six-inch subway veggie sub on whole wheat (no cheese ? yes, no cheese) and let me tell you, after eating whole wheat pasta for lunch all week, it really was a treat...

So, yeah, you can do the long workouts on the cleanse, and achieve your goals, as long as those goals are reasonable.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Day Four- Cleanse-Irritation Nation

Well, it's inevitable that some irritation sinks in during the cleanse. I'm not your typical big ball of sunshine to begin with, I know well enough, but this is different.

I usually try to get some decent sleep on the cleanse, but I was up until about 12:30 playing computer games. I slept in a lot, until well after 6, but, well I came into work to a pretty full load of new problems and it wasn't long before I started to just feel extremely irritated. The usual office contributors- emails and a seemingly constantly ringing phone- made me decide around 10 am (after my apple/peanut butter) to go visit some classrooms that needed some attention. That was a good move, do some solitary work.

I hit the pool at noon. If you've been reading my blog (and that would make you probably the first person to ever do so), you know I ran down a guy on a mountain bike the other day out on a run. Let me me the first to say that my running and my swimming are not in synch. After about five laps, a woman got in the lane next to me. She had her water and her flip-card workout and she got in and proceeded to toast my ass. Granted, she was doing a workout and she'd stop after a few laps for a brief rest, but when she was swimming, she was making me look developmentally disabled.

I was trying to stay focused on my own swimming by rolling my eyes up in my head so I can't see the other lanes and telling myself my training is different and that I'm doing endurance swimming. But the truth is that unlike when I run, there really aren't many other gears I can call on. There's no swimming down a better swimmer for me. I have maybe two gears, one in which I swim slowly, and one where I swim marginally faster and use twice as much energy.

Although I did outswim the woman in my last five laps, it because she was doing some soft of backstroke that I don't even know the name of. Now I know my ego is a limiting factor, and nowhere more so than in the water. I have no business even looking at what's going on in other lanes until I better sort out what's going on in mine.

I will say that when I got out of the pool, my muscles felt warm and happy and the drive back to work (and lunch !) was short and sweet, and my morning irritation had faded. Here I am on day four, and looking forward to 1 and 1/4 cups of whole wheat pasta !

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cleanse- Day Three- January 4th

I had a pretty sluggish run today at lunchtime, but I chalk it up to running in the evening yesterday and getting very little sleep last night.

As Eric says, when people tell him they are starving on the cleanse, well that's an exageration. Maybe because I'm smaller and need less food, I don't feel as much of an effect of the 'diet' aspect of the cleanse. The fact is there's certain food I just want, and it's more of annoyance than anything like a need not to have it. I certainly lose weight- I lost ten pounds in four days on the diet one year.

At the same time that diet might start to weigh down on you, though, there is also a sense of accomplishment that grows with each day that you 'get through it', at least there is for me, and after two weeks of that accomplishment, you almost don't want to stop- almost. Then again, beer is a good thing.

These are the early days- it gets harder, but then it gets easier.

Day Two: Wednesday

The initial shock of the cleanse that kind of settles in on day one is gone. It's always easier to get that water down after the first day, you've cooked your pasta the night before, you realse with some forlorness that no, there's no beer forthcoming (beer fridge or no).

Fruit is always an issue for me. I eat half a grapefruit at breakfast, but have no interest in eating oranges. I tried a pear today- not sure if that's really kosher or if that's too close to an apple in nutritional value. Since I was OK with it, I've hesitated asking, but if EH hasn't already read this, I will.

I always go with peanut butter and the apple for my mid-day snack, and do my lunchtime workout before eating. I was glad to climb out of the pool today and hop in the car knowing I was headed for my lunch. Whole wheat pasta isn't exactly my dream food, but with some tomato and garlic sauce (plus some hot sauce to give it the flavor I'm used to at lunch), it's not bad.

I know the hard days are ahead...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cleanse- Day One- January 2nd

The hardest thing about the first day of the cleanse diet is drinking all that water. 100 ounces- 6 bottles of the Poland Spring Water (carbonated, lime flavoured). That's like 2% of my body weight in water. Between the obvious increase in frequency of water closet visits, the fact that I'm often cold at night, and the general pressure of getting the water drank, well, it's not at the top of my list of things I love.

I was out running today and a guy rode by me on a mountain bike. I watched him pull away slowly and decided I really wasn't happy about that, so I ran him down, and then passed him. he wasn't exactly riding as hard as he could- and he was on the wrong side of the road with no helmet- but I had to work pretty hard.

Ego is a funny thing...

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year, No Beer

I felt really bad this morning missing my coach's annual New Year's Day run. I'd caught some kind of a cold and spent half of Christmas Eve Night hunched over a humidifier trying to breathe. While I hadn't missed any workouts and even managed a 90 minute, high intensity run on the 28th, I was not sure I was up for an hour or more of running in pouring rain at 45 degrees. I opted for 75 minutes of spinning instead.

Of course, workouts get co-mingled with something that is, for lack of a better term, called the 'cleanse.' This diet, which lasts two weeks, is designed to eliminate our bad nutritional habits- 2-3 beers at night, that four-slice swiss cheese sandwhich which I call lunch, and spicy potato chips, in my case.

I dread the cleanse in a way that is almost ritualistic, not because it's a bad idea, but because my food willpower is not as easily summoned as my workout willpower, and because this year I am training for an April Ironman.

I'll be posting on how the cleanse is going every day right here....