July 30, 2012

The Chair

Last week we sold the glider and ottoman that had been in the kids' nursery for years. I'm not sure why, but I was very sad to see it leave the house. Maybe I'm sad because it was the last piece of "baby" furniture we had.  The crib is long-gone, and while A still has the original bookcase and dresser in her room that the kids used as babies, those pieces of furniture are not "baby" furniture, and she'll use them for years to come. 

I remember picking out the glider, over 8 years ago, when I was pregnant with D. We chose a calming sage green color, which would match the Classic Pooh theme we had going on in the nursery.  The glider rocked, and had a matching ottoman.  The ottoman had a pull-down panel on which to rest my feet, which was perfect for nursing.  We put the glider in a cozy corner of D's bedroom, next to a Winnie the Pooh lamp that glowed warmly, close to his crib.

I spent many, many hours in that chair with D.  I nursed him for 14 months, and lots of the nursing took place in that chair.  That's also where we read to him nightly, rocking back and forth.  Books like "Good Night Moon" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" and "Guess How Much I Love You?"  All books that will forever be in my memory, books that I can probably recite verbatim today. 

When A was born, and finally came home from the hospital (at 12 weeks old) we had to move the chair.  We had too much medical equipment in the room.  We had the IV pole on which a bag of (my pumped) milk would drop in to her feeding tube. We had a sat monitor, to measure her blood oxygen level. We had a suction pump to suction out the secretions in her tracheostomy.  We had a 3 tiered cart filled with her medical supplies.  There was no cozy corner anymore; instead, her room looked more like a hospital room. We moved the glider to the middle of a wall.  I never got to nurse her on it, as she never nursed, only had the feeding tube.  And while we did do her nightly booktime on the glider, it just didn't have the same feeling as it did with my son.

Eventually, we took the glider and ottoman out of her room, in order to make the space more roomy.  We put it in our room.  My intention was that I would use it to sit and read MY books...but of course I never did that. It sat in our room for a few years, with a pile of papers cluttering the chair and J's clean laundry pile sititing on the ottoman.  We knew we had to get rid of it, and finally, last week, a buyer from Craig's List came, paid for it, and hauled it away.

Before it left, I sat in the chair one last time. I took my son,  who is now 8, and held him like a baby, rocking to him and singing him the song I made up for him as an infant. I did the same for my daughter, cuddling her and singing to her.  The chair didn't hold the same good memories for me with her as it did for my son, and that makes me sad.  And now all the baby furniture is....gone.

July 23, 2012

Solana Beach Triathlon Race Recap

Yesterday I completed my 7th triathlon, the Solana Beach Triathlon. This was a sprint distance tri, consisting of a 1/4 mile swim (roughly 400 yards), a 9 mile bike and a 3 mile run.  I signed up for it for two reasons, the first being that I haven't done a triathlon since last October (the Oly I was supposed to do in March got canceled due to severe weather) and I wanted a practice tri before my big 70.3 in September.  The second reason is that my 70.3 triathlon will be an ocean swim, and all of my triathlons to date have been bay swims. The Solana Beach Triathlon is an ocean swim, so I thought that would be extra good practice for me.

I approached this race with some trepidation, as I'd hurt my back over two weeks before and had really laid off the physical activity.  In fact, in the 2 1/2 weeks since wrenching my back, I'd only done two swims (one 1000 yard pool swim and one 1300 yard ocean swim), two runs (both 3 miles) and no actual bike rides.  My chiropractor wanted me to rest my back, but said the recumbent bike at the gym should be ok, so I did do the recumbent twice, but that really isn't the same as biking.  I did have my chiropractor's blessing to do this triathlon, especially since my back was feeling much better.  I had two races this weekend (the day before I did the Bolt to the Q with my 8-year old son, recap here) so this weekend I had more physical activity that I had in weeks! It felt good.

  I did packet pickup on Friday, so Saturday all I had to was pump my bike tires and load it in the car and quadruple check all my gear. I get really obsessive-compulsive about making sure I have everything (I have nightmares about getting to a race and forgetting my goggles or bike shoes or something else vital) so I usually start laying gear out a few days before so I can check the list and then check the list again. By Saturday night, everything was loaded in the car, all that was missing was me!

I went to bed at 8:30, and slept fitfully, waking up every few hours (as is my norm the night before a race). I was up for good at 4:00, well before my 4:30 alarm, so got up, got ready, and left a bit earlier than I had planned. I ate about half of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the car; I just couldn't choke down the other half. I got to Solana Beach, easily found a parking space at the train station, and made my way over to transition.  Transition was supposed to open at 5:45, but I got there at 5:35 and it was already open. I had lots of space to choose from on the racks, which was great, because usually I end up squeezing in someplace.  It was still dark when I got there, and I had lots of time to set up. It was awesome using my new tri bag, which I got a few months ago for my birthday but hadn't had a chance to use yet.  I chatted a bit with the women around me, got bodymarked, and found my friend Andrea, who was racing her first-ever triathlon but was in a different wave than me.

all set up!

Soon it was time to leave transition.  We headed down to the beach, and I was pleased to see the waves were minimal.  Yay!  The announcer said the water was 70 degrees, which was perfect.  I was in wave 6 (women 35-44), so Andrea and I had about an hour until after the close of transition until my wave, which was at 7:45 (Andrea was in the wave after me).  I made sure to get my wetsuit up as best I could, as I've had issues in the past with feeling constricted and I wanted to make sure all the material was up over my shoulder.  I got in the water, not really to warm up but more to get acclimated to the water and to make sure my goggles weren't leaking.  Soon, it was time for my wave to line up for the beach start.  As usual, I lined myself up in the back.

The horn blew and we all ran into the water.  Well, most people ran. I half jogged, half walked. It's hard running into the water!  My goggles made it hard for me to see accurately, so I ended up taking them off until I was actually ready to swim.  This was a 1/4 mile U-shaped swim, roughly 400-440 yards (I don't have a waterproof Garmin, so I didn't get the actual distance). It was a short distance to a buoy, then a right turn parallel to the shore for a bit, then round another buoy to head for the shore.  Well, the water was so shallow in the beginning that for the first several yards, we weren't swimming, we were walking. Finally I was deep enough to dive under the next wave that was about to crash on me and I was off swimming.  By this time, I was really behind everyone, and I noticed only a few other red-capped women behind me.  After several yards of swimming with my head up, I finally felt comfortable enough to put my face in and began bilateral breathing, every 3rd stroke.

The swim, while super short, seemed to take forever.  This was mostly because my shoulders were killing me.  Remember I wrote that I sometimes get shoulder aches and I was careful to pull the wetsuit up all the way? Well, either I didn't succeed in that, or the problem is something else (ie I need a new wetsuit altogether).  Each stroke was painful. I MUST figure this out before my big race in 2 months; if 400 yards hurt me, imagine doing 1.2 miles?   Regardless, while the swim seemed to take forever, soon I was at the first buoy.  Suddenly I was back in the thick of the other swimmers, so I really caught up.  Here it was a bit more crowded, but I always had space to swim, and not once during the swim did I get kicked or swam over (although I almost ran into another woman who wasn't sighting well and was swimming perpendicular, right into my path!).  Finally I was heading back to shore, and even caught a few waves to body surf in a bit.  I stood up several yards before the shoreline and trudged through the water, unzipping my wetsuit as I went.

The path back to transition was cruelly up a steep hill.  Some people were running it, but I walked up.  My heart rate was high from the swim and I didn't care about adding a few seconds to my transition time.  I made it back to my bike, pulled off my wetsuit, put on my Garmin, dried my feet, put on my socks, bike shoes, headband, helmet, sucked down some Gu, and clip-clopped out of transition to the mount-bike line.

The bike ride was nice. I hadn't ridden on my bike in almost 3 weeks, since I had hurt my back, and it felt good to be on. I still need to get my bike re-adjusted (I did have it fitted a few weeks ago but I don't like the tilt of the saddle) and my quads were confused at the feeling, after 3 weeks of non-use, but it was nice. It was a double-looped ride, out-and-back on Highway 101.  It was a gorgeous ride by the ocean, plus see the other bikers on the other side of the course and also the runners doing their thing.  There were a few tight U-turns to navigate, but I did those with no difficulty. I ate a Fig Newton on the ride, which really hit the spot. 9 miles later, on the dot, I was back at the dismount line and  back to transition.

After a quick change of shoes and removal of my helmet, I was off for the run.  I thought it was supposed to be a 5k (3.1 miles) but I had misread it and it was only 3 miles so I was pleasantly surprised.  The day was overcast, and I didn't see the sun until I had 1/3 mile left, which was awesome!  The only issue I had was that my heart rate was STILL elevated (it was beating fast on the bike too) so I took some walk breaks when I needed to, to try to slow it down.  I took water at the aid station, not to drink but to pour on my head.  It wasn't hot, but it was humid, and it felt good to cool off.  Like the bike, this was a double looped out-and-back, and it was nice because I saw my friend Andrea 3 times.  Before long, I saw the finish line up ahead and ran to it.  The announcer called my name (always a bonus), I crossed, and got a medal (this was cool, because this company usually only hands out finisher pins, not medals). I had told Andrea that I would wait for her at the finish; she wasn't too far behind me and it was great to see her cross, hear them call her name, and see her officially become a triathlete!


Overall I was happy with this race. I  had fun, and performed well, but wish I could figure out two things: why was my heart rate up so high during the race, and why are my shoulders hurting? I think I am going to rent a sleeveless wetsuit and see if that helps; if it does, I need to suck it up and buy a new sleeveless wetsuit. I'd rather spend some more money, and be a bit colder with no sleeves, than to swim 1.2 miles in something that is causing me pain.

Next up: SuperFrog 70.3.  You can be sure I'll be writing about THAT soon. I'm freaking out already!

July 21, 2012

Bolt to the Q 5k Race Recap

This morning I ran the Bolt to the Q 5k with my son, D. It was put on by the San Diego Chargers (part of the NFL series).  The course went from the Chargers' Training Facility to Qualcomm Stadium, where we were to finish on the 50 yard line.

All week I'd been kind of dreading the run; actually, I've been worried about this whole weekend.  I hurt my back, on the lower left side,  a little over 2 weeks ago, and while it's dramatically improved it still hurts sometimes, especially if I pull on it or twist in a certain way.  Additionally, I hurt ANOTHER part of my back (this time under my right shoulder) on Thursday. I had taken my daughter into the doctor with a fever.  They had suspected a urinary tract infection, and while I was bent over the toilet trying to collect a urine sample from her (I know, the life of a mom can be so glamorous) that part of my back spasmed.  I did go to my chiropracter on Thursday afternoon, and by Friday night it was much better, but still, I was worried. I  had two races this weekend--the Chargers 5k and a sprint triathlon I'm doing tomorrow. I was worried about how my back would hold up today.

Packet pickup was yesterday, when I went to Qualcomm Stadium and got our bibs, timing chips and t-shirts.  One thing that wasn't good was that they didn't have kid sizes for the 5k, and the adult small they gave me for D would be HUGE on him.  Luckily, I was able to exchange it for a kid-sized t-shirt for the kids' 1-mile race, but I heard that other people weren't so lucky.  I usually don't wear the race shirt in the actual race; I prefer to "earn" the shirt and wear it after, but my son wanted to wear his so I wore mine to match him.

The race started at 7:00, and since it was a point-to-point race, they had shuttles getting people from Qualcomm Stadium to the starting line at the Training Facility.  The last shuttle was to leave at 6:30.   I planned on leaving my house at 5:45, thinking that it would be plenty of time to get there. I was wrong. I hit tons of traffic getting off the freeway, and was very lucky to get there in time.  Note to self:  always leave more time than you think. I actually know this, and usually do this, but since I had my 8-year old with me I didn't want to wake him too early.  I should have known better and woken him 15 minutes earlier.  Lesson learned.

before the race
training facility at the start
We finally got to the start line, where we met up with my friend T and his boys.  One of his boys is D's age, and they're friends. They goofed around, as only 8-year old boys can do, and soon it was time to line up.  The race was corralled, which I thought was unusual for a 5k, but we went to the last corral.  There were Charger Girls at the start, cheering us on, which was cool.  Soon, we were off!

I ended up running with D and his friend.  D is a fast runner (in a 1-mile race last month he clocked in just over 7 minute) but his endurance past a mile is terrible.  I need to work on that with him by running with him more.  Needless to say, he needed lots of walk breaks, which was fine with me. It was hot and oddly humid (at 7:00!) and I didn't want to stress my back, especially since it was feeling good and I have a triathlon tomorrow.  It was nice to take it easy, run hand-in-hand with my son, and tackle the course, which had a few uphills but was mostly downhill.

view of the stadium before mile 3

Soon we hit mile 3, at the stadium parking lot, and it was time to head to the finish line.  We ran through a tunnel and ended up on the field, at the 50 yard line, with Charger Girls waving their pom-poms and lots of spectators in the seats. It was really cool!  They had a camera set at the entrance to the field for the Jumbo-Tron, but I looked up too late to see us on the screen.  We crossed the finish line, collected a souvenir headband, waited for our friends, and took in the feeling of being on the field.

heading into the tunnel

almost there!

finish line!

it was neat to see the stadium from this vantage point!
I would definitely do this race again. It was well--organized, and finishing on the football field was just too cool for words.  A fun race, especially with my favorite running partner---my son!

July 12, 2012


Last week I wrote about how well my training is going for my first 70.3 triathlon, SuperFrog, which is in less than 3 months.  This week, however, I've been sidelined, as I've hurt my back.

To this day, I'm not sure what happened.  Last Thursday morning I woke up and had a slight twinge in my lower left back (more at my left side). I had my usual 3-mile run scheduled, and told my husband I felt a little sore and if it gets worse I'll either walk or turn back. As it turned out, my back didn't bother me at all, and I had a great 3 mile run with the dog.  I came home, showered, blew dry my hair, got dressed, and was still pain-free.

Soon, though, my back started hurting really badly.  Spasming. It hurt to sit down, and it hurt to stand back up. I couldn't rest much, because we had things on the docket I just couldn't ignore (a speech therapy evaluation for my daughter, plus her 6-year checkup at the pediatrician).  Driving hurt, and I wasn't able to lift anything heavy all day.  That night, it got worse. I went to bed early, as usual, and woke up at 11:30 pm to go to the bathroom. The pain was so intense I literally could not stand up from the toilet without screaming in agony. My husband had to help me up (a real embarrassing moment in our marriage, to be sure) and I cried myself to sleep. I have rarely felt pain like that.

The next day, Friday, I called my doctor and was able to see him that day. He ruled out anything major, like a kidney stone, and told me to rest and alternate ice/heat.  He also prescribed me two painkillers and a muscle relaxer.

On Sunday, I had my first-ever DNS (did not show) at an aquathlon I had signed up to do. I was really bummed, as not only was I out the money I had paid, but more than that I had really wanted the training for my 70.3. It was to be a 1 mile ocean swim and a 10k on the beach, all of which would have been great preparation for the big race.  However, I knew I wouldn't even be able to put on my wetsuit, let alone swim and run, so I DNS.

Over the weekend, I was still in pain, though little by little the pain ebbed.  The doctor had advised me not to do any exercise until I was pain-free, and I let five days go by without a workout.  For me, that is a lot. I have kept a written log of my workouts since July 2010 (exactly 2 years now) and there have been only THREE instances that I let 3 days in a row go by without working out. I've never gone four days, let alone five.

On Tuesday I saw a chiropracter. She advised that I should move a little, that movement may heal, as long as it wasn't anything long or major. She advised against biking, as I would be leaning over, but she suggested I try swimming and light jogging.  Yesterday I did my first workout in 5 days, a 3 mile slow jog. I didn't feel any more pain during or after the run, so I'm glad I went (I was prepared to turn around and walk home at the first twinge of pain).  Today I did a short swim---20 laps, or 1000 yards--instead of my usual 40-50 laps.  It felt great, although at lap 18 I started to feel a small twinge in my back, so I'm glad I stopped when I did instead of pushing it.

I'm worried that only do I still have pain (although I am now rating it a 2/10 on the pain scale) but my big race is quickly approaching. I need to train, and I can't do the kind of training I need to do while hurt.  Sure, I can swim a little, run a little, maybe ride the recumbent bike at the gym...but I need to swim long, bike long, and run long. And right now I can't.

Please send me some healing vibes, quickly!


July 6, 2012

3 Months Til the BIG RACE!

My huge race, my 70.3 mile (half-Ironman distance) triathlon, SuperFrog,  is in less than 3 months.  September 30 is the big day.

When I signed up for the race on March 30, the race was exactly 6 months away.  Today, I have just less than 3 months before I toe the line for my biggest endurance endeavor ever.

Although I can theoretically say that I've been training for this for two years (it was two years ago this month, July, that I added swimming and biking into my running regime and unwittingly began triathlon training), I have been intentionally training for this for three months now. I thought I would recap where I am with my training.  I started 70.3 training at a baseline level of being able to do an Olympic-distance triathlon (1500 meter swim, 25 mile bike and 6.2 mile run) as I had trained to do an Oly triathlon at the beginning of March (that triathlon got  canceled due to horrific weather, but still, I was trained up for it and ready to complete it!)  So, on March 30 when I hit the registration button for SuperFrog, that was where I was at.  Let's review where I am now, shall we?


Before I registered, most of my training swims were between 30 and 40 laps in the pool (1500-2000 yards).  Sometimes I would do 50 laps (2500 yards) but not too often.  Since registering, my short swims are 40 laps but I try to do 50 laps.  This past week I even did a 60 lap swim (3000 yards). The swim for SuperFrog will be 1.2 miles, or roughly 2100 yards.

I have also been practicing ocean swims.  Before this, all of my open-water swims (OWS), both in training and in each of my 6 triathlons I've done, have been in bays.  I'd never swam in the actual ocean.  SuperFrog has an ocean swim; actually, it's a double loop, meaning I'll do a swim, get out, then get back in the water to repeat the course to complete the 1.2 miles.  A few weeks ago, I met up with my friends Steve and Andrea for an ocean OWS. They taught me how to get under the waves on the way out, how to swim parallel to the shore, and how to ride the waves back in.  I was terrified at first (a few tears were shed) but once I got in it was exhilarating. 

I plan on doing a few more ocean OWS, and a few more bay ones as well, before SuperFrog.  I am also signed up for an aquathlon this weekend, which will have a 1 mile ocean swim, but I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday and may have to skip the race if it's still hurting. Regardless, I will get lots more practice in before September 30, and will continue with my higher yardage in the pool.


If you've read my blog for any period of time, you know that the bike portion is my worst of all 3 disciplines. I actually have learned to enjoy riding, and even love it at times, but it's the hardest for me to do.  When I signed up for this race, my longest ride had been 32 miles and that had been 6 months previous.  Aside from that one ride, my long weekend rides were about 26 miles or so.

Since signing up, I have really been concentrating on the bike.  My "short" weekday ride now is about 21 miles. And I've been steadily increasing my long weekend rides. I did 40 hilly miles one weekend, and 45 hilly miles another.  A few weeks ago I rode the Silver Strand bike path, which is where SuperFrog will be (although it will be on the highway itself, not the bike path) and I did my longest distance ever---56 miles--the distance of the bike portion of the race. The course is pretty flat--not pancake flat but mostly flat--although the headwind is pretty bad. I felt like I had a headwind both ways, a mild one going south and a much more severe one going north.  My legs, especially my quads, were screaming on the ride (heck, they scream during my hilly rides too) but I felt so good afterward knowing that I completed the 56 miles....that I CAN do the distance on race day. It took me just under 4 hours to complete (a turtle's pace) and I hope to get that time down to 3:45 for race day.

I also recently got a professional bike fitting and bought aerobars for my bike.  This, theoretically, should help with my speed, especially on the flat portions...but I need a new saddle because leaning over is hurting my lady parts. My friend Angi is letting me borrow one of her woman-specific saddles, so hopefully that will help once I get it put on.

Over the next few months I intend on doing more 40-45 mile hilly rides, and a few 56-70 mile flat rides. Hopefully this will not only strengthen my bike portion physically, but give me the confidence I desperately need on the bike.


The run is the one part I am not too concerned about.  Don't get me wrong---I am very anxious about running a half marathon (13.1 miles) after that bike ride. In fact, when I did that 56 mile ride I then ran 1 mile and was freaking out about running 12 more!  But I love running, and am trained up for it right now. Since signing up for SuperFrog, I have completed 3 half marathons (Hollywood, OC and San Diego Rock 'n' Roll) and even accomplished my long-time goal of running a sub-2:30 half marathon in San Diego.  I continue to run, doing my short runs of 3 miles in the week and a long run on the weekend, anywhere between 6 and 10 miles. 

Part of SuperFrog will be run on the sand, both loose and packed.  A few weeks ago I ran a 10k on my own on the beach, for practice. It was wonderful! Unfortunately, there was no loose sand at the time, but I had an easy time running 6.2 miles on packed sand.  If I get to do the aquathlon this weekend, that will give me additional practice, as that 10k run is all on the beach. Regardless, you can be sure I'll be doing more beach runs.

Bricks and Misc.

I have done quite a few bricks recently (biking then running). It doesn't happen with every ride, but I've been trying to run at least a mile off every bike ride. These short transition runs help get my legs used to the idea of running after biking.  Of course, as the summer goes on, I need to run longer than a mile or two. My goal is to bike 50 miles then run 10...that will be the peak of my training, most likely at the beginning of September.  But in the meantime, these transition runs have been good.

I had signed up for two races before SuperFrog, all with the intent of practicing for the 70.3. One is this weekend, the aquathlon. The 1 mile ocean swim and the 10k beach run seemed perfect practice for SuperFrog. However, I may not be able to participate with my newly pulled back muscles. If I can, I will, but I'm not going to sweat it if I have to withdraw. I was doing it for practice only.  I am also signed up for a sprint triathlon in a few weeks, which I'm doing for two reasons:  one, because it's an ocean swim, so great practice, and two, because I haven't done a triathlon since last October and I want the practice of doing one with transitions and everything.

All in all, I am feeling like I am doing well for still having almost 3 months left. I have dramatically increased my mileage and fitness.  Can I be doing more? Sure. I know lots of people training for 70.3 races who do more mileage, even do two workouts a day. Ideally I'd be adding in more strength training sessions, something I used to do pretty regularly but have abandoned with the kids home from school for the summer.   I'm trying to balance my life...I have two young kids to take care of, plus my volunteer work and taking care of the house and the dog, and I can't do it all. I am doing the best I can.  I am training as much as I can while still balancing my life.

I see and feel a difference.  I can go farther than I ever thought I could. I'm still as slow as molasses, but the endurance is there. I have gained weight, about 7 pounds, but have lost inches. The added weight is muscle.  I bought a bikini last summer (my first bikini I'd owned in over 10 years) and last week I went to put it on and the bottoms were saggy and too big. I couldn't wear it. The difference between last summer and this summer is my biking---I'm doing LOTS more of it--and it's making a physical difference in my body.  I've been doing breathing drills during my swims, breathing every 5 strokes, then every 7th, 9th, and built my way up to doing 250 yards only breathing every 11th stroke--and the increased lung capacity has helped my biking and running.

I am getting stronger.  I'm doing it. I still imagine I'll come in last place on race day, but I no longer doubt that I'll finish the race.