January 31, 2012

No Oomph

Sometimes, regardless of how much I like to run (or bike, or swim, or do yoga, or lift weights, etc...) it's hard to get my butt out the door. This winter has been so much harder for me than last winter in terms of motivation, and I'm not sure why. Last year, I would uncomplainingly get out of bed at 5:15 in the morning to be in the pool by 5:45. This year? I have only done that a few times, opting instead to swim later in the morning when the kids are at school. Or, as has been the case some days, skipped my swim entirely. I have not been biking as much as I should be, considering I have my second Olympic-distance (Oly) triathlon in March, with a 25 mile bike ride. And while I have been consistent with my runs, it often takes a few hits of the snooze button before I get out of bed to actually gear up.

I'm not sure what's going on. Yes, I'm exhausted, and I'm trying to go to bed earlier these days (I'm usually in bed by 10, but these days I'm shooting for the 9:30 range. Apparently, I'm 41 going on 85). But I'm always tired; that's just a fact when you're a busy mom of two, trying to fit in parenting, chauffeuring, cooking, volunteering, and oh yeah, triathlon training. I think it's more of a matter of my motivation.

When I was training for my first Oly last year, I was on my game. I consistently swam 2 long swims a week, and was on my bike every single weekend hill training for what I knew was going to be a grueling hilly route. For this Oly, however, I'm not as motivated. Don't get me wrong, I'm still working out, almost every day. But the drive isn't there. I know I can do the distances (the race will be a 1500 meter swim, 40k bike and 10k run) if the race was tomorrow. But to do it well, not just survive the race, I need to kick it up a notch.

Maybe I'm feeling a bit burned out. Yesterday I took my fourth yoga class, and really enjoyed it. I think I'm enjoying the challenge of something new. Not that running, biking and swimming isn't a challenge for me---all 3 disciplines are hard for me--but I'm enjoying the mental aspect of doing something new with yoga. However, I'm not burned out on working out...there have been times when I've complained on twitter and dailymile that I've "lost my workout mojo", where I don't want to workout at all. That's not what's going on here...I DO want to work out, I DO try to find the time every day to squeeze it in...but the initial "oomph" I used to feel in the morning to bound of bed and do it isn't there.

I hope this rambling made sense; I think I'm just trying to work it out in my own mind. I have lots of races coming up--4 half marathons and an Oly before the middle of June--and I need to get my mind in shape as well as my body.

January 25, 2012


As I have written on many occasions, I am constantly plagued by injuries. My most bothersome one is plantar fasciitis, although ever since I ran the Silver Strand Half Marathon in November I am bothered by intermittent glute pain (I'm still not sure WHAT it is, whether it's muscle or nerve). Regardless, my plantar fasciitis is much better, although I still have it somewhat. I have tried everything I could think of to ease the pain, from rolling my feet on frozen water bottles, golf balls, specially-nubbed balls, acupuncture, wearing the Strassburg socks to bed, and, most recently, several sessions of ART (active release technique).

While the ART was somewhat helpful (if not the most painful thing I have ever experienced; I cried during most sessions) I did get one piece of valuable insight: that my tight muscles are affecting my feet! I have very tight muscles, from my quads and hamstrings to my calfs and hips, and apparently they are all working together to cause pain in my feet. I've always been inflexible--I've never been able to touch the floor when I bend over, I can only touch the tops of my feet--but I never thought much of it. I guess it's a big problem! They advised stretching the muscles, with the theory that looser, more flexible leg muscles will make for happier, pain-free feet.

With that advice, I decided to try yoga. I have never done yoga before (well, I tried it once, about 15 years ago, and hated it) but know that yoga promotes flexibility, as well as strength and posture. So, three weeks ago, I bit the bullet, bought a yoga mat (I didn't want to use a gross, sweaty one that they provide at the gym) and went to my first class at my gym, a Vinyasa class.

Oh. My. Goodness! I knew that yoga would be hard, but the classes are kicking my behind! Many poses I am able to do fairly easily, but others are too hard for me, as I am too inflexible. Luckily the teacher preaches moderation, to do what I can, and I do my best. I am loving the stretches; they feel sooooo good! And I can see how this will help my strength training. Even though I have strong arms and shoulders--as a triathlete, I swim and lift weights and am pretty toned in that area- holding myself up in Downward Dog gets hard after a while! It's challenging my muscles in new ways.

Today was my third class, and I'm hooked. I truly look forward to going each week, and am trying to figure out my schedule so that I can go more than once a week. I hope that by continuing to do so, my muscles will stretch a bit more and I can run injury-free!


January 23, 2012

An IEP for the Home?

My daughter has an IEP at school (Individualized Education Program) which is a legal document that lists all of her needs and how the school is going to help. We have an annual IEP meeting, where all of her therapists and teachers get together to discuss her progress, and we make goals for the following year. Here is where her services are set: deciding which therapies she'll be getting, such as speech therapy and occupational therapy, as well as how many hours of each therapy she'll be getting each week.

Also in these meetings, all classroom adaptations are discussed. For example, because of her vision and hearing issues, she needs to sit in the front of the classroom on the left-hand side. Since her vision AND hearing is better in her right ear and eye, sitting on the left side of the class puts her right eye and ear closer to the teacher. Other adaptations, such as giving her special scissors to use and a bench to put on her her feet for stability, are also brought up here in these IEP meetings.

While she is getting such great support in the classroom, it turns out we're not doing as well at home. This weekend we realized that for years, we've had A sitting in the wrong place at the dinner table! Our seating arrangement has always been me on the left side of the table, with A next to me at my right; across from me is my son, D; and next to D (diagonal from me) is my husband, J. Often at dinner A will ask "what did you say?" and we'll repeat ourselves. Sometimes I even check her hearing aide battery to see if it's still on! It never, EVER occurred to us that she was in the wrong seat! Her "good" ear, the right one, was facing nobody. She needed to be sitting in MY seat, so her right ear would be pointing toward the middle of the table. J noticed this issue this weekend, and it was like a lightbulb going off over our heads.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I feel so bad! How could we not have noticed this error in seating? It's remedied now, so hopefully A will be able to hear more at the dinner table. But gosh---sometimes I wish a professional could come in to our home and point things like this out!

January 15, 2012

For Sherry and Beth

All week I've been mourning for a runner, Sherry Arnold, who went for a run last weekend and never returned. She was 43 years old. A few days ago, she was confirmed dead. Sherry is the cousin of Beth, a wonderful person whose blog I read faithfully and actually had the pleasure of meeting in Las Vegas.

Let me first tell you about Beth. As a runner and a blogger, it's no secret that I love to read running blogs. I love the stories, motivation and inspiration I get from reading blogs of runners and triathletes. Long-time readers of mine will remember that back in June, my 5 year old daughter, A, was in the ICU for a week after her lung collapsed in the recovery room post-surgery from closing up the hole where her tracheostomy had been. My daughter was put in a medicated coma and was on a ventilator. I sat by her bedside for hours at a time, feeling helpless and hopeless. I would take breaks for meals, and during those times I would sit alone, in the cafeteria of Children's Hospital, and catch up with my favorite blogs on my phone.

It was during this time, during some solo, pitiful dinner at Children's Hospital, that I stumbled upon Beth's blog, titled "Shut Up and Run". I think I clicked a link to her blog from another blog. I don't know why I hadn't seen her blog before, but I was glad I found it when I did. Beth's blog is so funny, so honest, so hilarious, that I was laughing in the cafeteria, laughing and getting out of my head and the misery that was my daughter lying in a coma upstairs. I bookmarked her blog, and have read it almost daily since then. In fact, it's been on my blogroll for a long time.

I got to meet Beth in Las Vegas, when I was there to run the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. I was at a meet-up the night before, and she was there. She was like a celebrity to me, and I bravely went up to her (after telling myself that she's just a mother and runner like you, Sugar!) and introduced myself. She was so personable and friendly, and I left happy that I had a chance to meet someone who has provided so much levity for me. You can click here to see a picture of me and Beth together that night.

So this week, when Beth posted that her cousin, Sherry Arnold, who was a mother and a beloved math teacher, had gone missing, it hit me hard. Partly because I care about Beth, but more because I, too, am a woman, a mother, a runner...someone like Sherry. Someone who could also go out for a run and never come back. The same thing happened a few years ago here in San Diego to a teenager name Chelsea King--I even wrote about it here on my blog--where a sweet, teen girl was attacked and killed on a run. I can't even comprehend how this could happen. I can't wrap my head around it.

The other day, after a week of searching, Sherry was declared dead. They still don't know what happened. Two men are in custody. Yesterday Beth posted that a theory is perhaps the men hit her with their car and moved her body to cover it up. As horrible as this would be, I hope this is what happened, as the other scenarios are just too heinous to consider. I sobbed when I read that she is dead, because Sherry is me, is you, is every other person in the world doing what they love to do.

This is not going to stop me from running. I will continue to run, and run long. Horrible things happen, and you can't let fear stop you from living life. Some people have been attacked while running, yes, but people have been eating lunch in a restaurant where someone opened fire, people have been on trains that have been bombed, people have been on planes that crashed through buildings. I can't let this fear stop me. I am thinking about getting pepper spray to carry on long runs, but even that I'm not sure about. I want to LIVE life. I CAN'T live in fear. That doesn't mean I am not careful---I don't run at night, or in areas I think are unsafe, and I try to be aware of my surroundings. I try to be careful in everything I do.

I have never met Sherry, and really, I don't know Beth...but they have both left an indelible place on my heart.

Rest in peace, Sherry...and Beth, I hope you find peace through all this horror as well.

January 11, 2012

2012's Fuzzy Goals

So we're already a week and a half into 2012 and I don't really have my fitness goals outlined. Specifically, I don't have my triathlon goals set. I have 5 half marathons on the docket (Surf City, Hollywood, OC, Rock 'n' Roll San Diego and Portland), all of which I'm very excited about. Completing Surf City and OC, in conjunction with the Long Beach Half Marathon that I did in October, will earn me a special medal called the Beach City Challenge. Portland will bring me back to visit my dear friend Krista, who will be running it with me...and give me state #3 in my far-fetched quest to run a half marathon in every state. Hollywood should just be pure fun, as it's the inaugural event. And finishing these 5 half marathons this year will bring me to 8 races within 365 days, which is the next level in Half Fanatics.

Plus, my ultimate goal is to crush the 2:30 mark. I almost did it in Vegas, as I was just a few seconds over 2:30...and I am determined to reach that goal this year. 2012 WILL be the year of the sub-2:30 half marathon.

Which leads me to triathlon. I am only signed up for one, the Super Seal in March. I did the sprint version of this race last March, but this time I am doing the International Distance, which is a 1500 meter swim, 40k bike ride and 10k run. I have only done one other triathlon at this distance, which kicked my ass, so I am looking at this race with both excitement and nervousness. The bike portion is flat, so that should be a huge contrast to the giant hills I had to contend with last September.

But that's all I have planned so far, and that's no good. I need to have races in mind, as my training goes best when I have a goal to work toward. Today I knocked out 50 laps (2500 yards) in the pool, but if I didn't have a big triathlon to train for I doubt I would have gone that long. So you see, I need race goals.

I am not sure what I want to do post-March. I have a few choices:
1) to complete a few more sprints, which are smaller in length
2) to complete another Olympic-distance tri, perhaps the same one I did last September. That one was so hard for me, especially on the bike portion, and it would be great to train hard and seek vengeance on those hills
3) to complete a half-ironman distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run).

The logical step in my triathlon career would be a half-ironman distance, otherwise known as a 70.3. But there are so many reasons I am afraid of this distance:
  • the swim portion of the 70.3 I'm looking at consists of 2 loops in the ocean. That's two ocean starts. I know I can swim 1.2 miles, but have never done an ocean entrance. Every triathlon I've done has been in a bay. The very real possibility of being knocked around by the waves, not only once but twice, is scary.
  • Although the bike portion is flat, I've never biked 56 miles. I would have a headwind one way. And the time cutoff for the bike is 3:45, which I'm not sure I can do.
  • I can easily complete a half marathon, but after that huge swim and a 56 mile bike ride? I'm not so sure. And the time cutoff for the half marathon is 2:45. I would be really cutting it close, as my recent times have been ranging from 2:30-2:43.....and those times have been run on fresh legs.
  • To summarize what I just wrote, I am afraid of not being able to finish in the allotted time. I mean, I'm pretty darned slow. I'd hate to train all year and not be allowed to finish.
More than all this, I'm not sure I have the drive and motivation to train for a 70.3 right now. To complete this race I would have to train soooo much, much more than I already do train for my half marathons and Olympic-distance tris. I would need to drastically increase my bike mileage and speed, practice ocean-start swims, and do huge bricks (running off the bike). And as I have been plagued by injury in recent months, with both plantar fasciitis and glute pain, I'm not sure it's the smartest thing for me to do.

On the flip side, how amazing would that be to complete a 70.3? As a former non-athlete, it would be positively miraculous.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with sticking to Olympic-distance tris...or even sprints. Anything that keeps me in the pool and on the bike is good, as I love the cross training and need it to counteract the pounding that running does to me.

I don't think I'll make any major decisions until this triathlon in March. I want to race it to see how it feels doing that distance. If I finish feeling like I could go longer (like double) then I'll consider the 70.3. Otherwise, it may be another year of the same for me...which is okay!

January 4, 2012

A Quick 2011 Recap

Happy New Year! It's been a while since I've written, mostly because I've been on vacation visiting family in Texas. I have been very inspired reading my favorite bloggers recap their year; while I don't want to go into great details, I would like to do the same.

For the most part, 2011 was a great year for me and my family. The one awful part was my daughter being in the hospital for 10 days. She had gone in to get her stoma closed (the hole in her neck where her tracheostomy, or breathing tube, used to be) but had horrible complications in the recovery room when her lung collapsed. She was put in a medicated coma, and was on a ventilator for over a week; she was even in ICU during her 5th birthday. However, she pulled through, and is doing great. So, boo for the unexpected, extended hospital stay, but yay for her finally being able to swim and take a bubble bath for the first time! That horrible chapter of her life was finally put to a close.

Overall, everything else in 2011 was great!

I look forward to 2012; it should be a great year. I will most likely write a goals post about 2012 soon. I hope it's as fulfilling to me as last year was!