Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year's is upon us!

A little review is in order.

At the beginning of 2006, I could thrash through the water for 20 minutes or so, with lots of breaks and very poor form. I couldn't run more than a minute or two, and walking 5 miles just about killed me. I hadn't been on a bike in 5 years, and when I tried spinning, it hurt so much I quit after a few minutes. Oh, and I weighed about 222 pounds.

Now: I can swim smoothly for a few hundred yards at a time, and go for 30 minutes without too much trouble (very slowly though.) I can run (plod, slowly) for 30 minute straight (if it's flat ground!) and cover nearly 2.5 miles. (Did I mention the slow part?) and I can do a 50 minute spinning class or 30 minutes on the ellliptical trainer. I've lost about 23 pounds, a clothing size or two, one of my many chins, and generally feel better, sleep better, am more cheerful and optimistic.

My goals for 2007: Run the Sharon Classic in May (5 miles, hills) - run more than walk, finish not-last. Complete the Pawling Triathlon in June (just finish!). Lose another size (OK two would be nice but slow and steady...) Keep focusing on injury prevention. Find ways to make it social to maintain my interest. Perhaps take a Total Immersion class in New Paltz.

Also - dance more (occasional real dancing ie at Arts In Motion, plus a ballroom class w/ Fred...)

I have other goals too, but this blog is just about the triathlon preparation and physical fitness!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Standing still

The holidays, the holidays! It's an avalanche of cookies! A tsunami of chocolate! And so many opportunities not to exercise! Yesterday I thought I'd go running (shooting for distance and consistency, as per my new bible, Triathlon 101, which says forget the speed work and "fartleks" and other fancy stuff til much later) but instead we went ice skating and to a dance performance. Skating feels like exercise, sort of - my rear end is definitely telling me I did something yesterday - but I don't think it added much to my cardiovascular abilities. But yes, it's fun and a great way to to spend time with the kids. Speaking of whom, they're out of school for the next two weeks, which puts a crimp into everything - my morning workout schedule is nearly impossible with them. Of course I could have gotten out of bed at 7:00 today and gone for a run before Fred left ... but did I? I did not. So no whining allowed. But I've been zealously sort of) doing my back and "core" exercises, and I think it definitely hurts a bit less. Elbow - still sore. Shoulder/upper back - a slight improvement. The knee I conked so hard on the counter at the coffee shop I thought I'd start to cry, or throw up, or both - still achy. Mysterious pain in my right thumb? Still there. Bizarre unexplained spider bites/rash which prevents me from using the heart monitor? Healing, for sure. Mood? Fine!

So why "standing still" - because I didn't really add onto my times or distances in the last 2 weeks - still working out 4-5 times a week, but maintaining. I guess that's the best I can hope for right now! Come January, the preparation really begins!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


I finally found what I think is the right book for me: Triathlon 101. The others were way too technical. (I really don't need five pages of bike diagrams showing the ratios of various parts, and I'm defeinitely not taking blood tests to determine my lactate uptake rate (I made that term up, but people apparently really do take blood tests as part of their training)! This book is much simpler. (Not that I've actually started reading it yet, but the intro makes it sound like the perfect thing for the beginner.)

I went running, sort of, today. I've not been feeling well (but won't whine about my elbow, or my rash, or my nonspecific but decidedly weird feeling under my ear here!) and when I set off (trying to step 90 steps per minute - THAT is hard!!!) my back said, "Hi there, remember me?" and my knees chimed in quickly too, in a very annoyed tone. I brought my camera, so I stopped a lot to shoot what I think will be some rather nice pictures for my photoblog. I felt a bit guilty about not training full-out, but at least I got out the door.

I saw a friend the other day who used to be fat like me, and now she is thin and beautiful. (She was always beautiful.) She drinks green tea and sips chicken broth while cooking dinner (and drinks something like 196 ounces of water a day!) -- I thought I might borrow a trick or two. 64 ounces of water and a few cups of green tea seem like a good place to start to jumpstart the weight loss - I've been stalled out for two months now. (Not that I am unhappy - having lost 24 pounds is a reward in itseld and I'm feeling reasonably patient about the next phase.)

I've been good about my back exercises and did a little weight work today too. Tomorrow if I"m feeling better I'll start a more intense week again: swim spin swim spin swim. Or almost that much. Something's burning gotta go!

Friday, December 01, 2006

An intense week

My friend Beth told me to alternate intense, building weeks with recovery weeks. I'm not sure which one this was: I worked out every day, Monday-Friday. Monday: 20 minute swim. Tuesday: 50 minute spin class. Wednesday: 20 minute swim. Thursday: 30 minutes on treadmill, with sprints and walks. Friday: 30 minute swim. Tomorrow I'll do Pilates (protecting the back)and some elliptical. Sunday, probably rest (going to the city.) I have to get a grip on the eating, and my back still hurts. Next week I'll focus on low-intensity, improving technique, with at least one other day off. The following: ratchet it up a notch. I guess this is still the off-season!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A little break from training...

For Thanksgiving, and to recover from various back pain - lower back, from jogging and overdoing Pilates, and upper left back and neck from I don't know what. While I was in Ohio for Thanksgiving, I got a massage (thanks, F, for giving me the afternoon off from the kids, and thanks, D, for paying for it!) which helped, some. Large quantities of Advil helped more, and 3 days of almost no excercise seems to be helping most of all. (Just some core work and a little swimming around the hotel pool.) The scale is up, but the pain is down. My triathlon books came in to the library so I'll have something to read tomorrow.

Training for the T gave me a topic for all my Thanksgiving chats with relatives - everyone was Really Impressed. Does that mean I really have to do it now? Not that I"m considering chickening out. And one can always claim an injury if necessary. I just hope I'm not talking too much about it too soon, considering that a 20 minute swim, 10 minute jog (with some speed work) and 5 minute bike ride at the hotel completely wiped me out!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Steady progress

This was a good week for me. I didn't swim, though I've been reading up on Total Immersion swimming, hoping to improve my technique and thus efficiency and thus speed. (At the moment I'm probably the slowest swimmer in the pool at any given time - if not the slowest in three counties.)

But I did 2 days of spinning, yesterday did Pilates, 20 minutes on the elliptical, plus a 7 mile bike ride with A. It was tough going for her, and definitely got me breathing hard in parts - the slow steady uphill coming back into Millerton from Coleman Station. Going slow so she could keep up is almost harder than going fast.

Then today I ran. It was my first time not on the rail trail, thus my first time on hills. Downtown Sharon has a few, and going past the clocktower up Mansion Row there are several steep ones. I was hoping to go for 26 minutes, but worried I couldn't even equal the 24 I did last week. I encountered a new obstacle: phlegm. I couldn't get rid of it and started to feel like I was choking. After I went up a fairly steep hill, coulnd't catch my breath, and couldn't swallow the phlegm, I turned back, figuring I'd just hobble home and drink some water. BUt I rallied, and ended up doing 30 minutes with only 2 very brief (20 second) breaks to walk. Via car odometer I figured it to be 2.4 miles (give or take.) That's - what, a 13 minute mile? But hey, it was hills, I was phlegmy - I feel quite proud of that.

My weight has started to go back down after Halloween hell (though I haven't done myself any favors with this weekend's cookie baking festival.) If I can hang in there through Thanksgiving, maybe I can get a few more pounds off by New Year's. I'm far from where I thought I'd be, but still, far from where I started.

I'll swim tomorrow, spin Tuesday, then travel Wednesday. Thursday and Friday I'm sure I can sneak off to the hotel gym or pool to at least maintain. By Sunday I'll be ready for another run - 32 minutes this time!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Here's a "BEFORE" picture to compare to - it's from last May before I lost any weight. I'd just finished a 5-mile race, which I walked almost entirely.

So I'm trying to amass as much cool gear for as cheap as possible - I bought a $5 nylon swim cap and equally cheap goggles at paragon. So far so good with them. (It's actually my second pair of goggle. My first fit like two tiny monocles and were incredibly uncomfortable. These are cooler looking and even though they leave racoon marks around my eyes (which are already deepset with dark circles - this does NOT help my appearance!)

I've not had as much luck with bike gear. I don't care so much that the grippers on the shorts cut my thighs in half like a balloon being twisted into a dog. But the fact that the seams split after about six wearings is pretty annoying. The shoes are OK - like all shoes they hurt my wide feet - but the cleats are absurd since I can't even attach them to the spinning pedals. I think the chances that I'm actually going to want to clip my feet on a real road are pretty slim because of the fear factor: I read somebody's triathlon diary online and she mentioned hills. Going up hills isn't the problem, it's going down hills. I hate going down hills. I hate going fast and feeling out of control. My stodgy mountain bike is probably going to be pretty sturdy, but I think road training in general is going to be my biggest obstacle - I'm afraid of getting hit by cars, of skidding out, of falling down and getting a boo boo. Hmm... this could be a problem!

So I called this post "setbacks" - why? Oh, right. Back pain...gotta call the physical therapist and get a handle on that. And Halloween. I'd broken the big 2-0-0 barrier (that's pounds, folks) but a sudden inability to stop eating mini-Twix bars has set me back weeks! And Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away, with Christmas/Hanukah/Solstic/New Year's, etc etc just behind. I suppose if I could arrive at New Year's day weighingt what I do now, that would be accomplishment enough! (But I want more, more, MORE!)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

First Brick...

...sort of. I rode for only about 3 miles, at kid pace - lots of stopping, heart rate never got above mid-80's, really hardly any effort. But then I ran 24 minutes (and a little more, but that doesn't count as I stopped to tie my shoe.) I went about 2 miles in that time. I'm not worried about pace (much) - just time and total distance, right now. I suppose that in six months of concerted effort I could get up to 10 minute miles for 3 miles -that seems a very manageable goal. (To do that after a swim and a bike ride would be just fine!) I feel fine right now (of course I've had 2 cglasses of wine at a little event I popped in to) so why shouldn't I. I am quite concerned in the long term about my lower back - it's been so painful lately I think I should probably check in with my good friends at Nordicare physical therapy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Slow week

I swam once this week for only 20 minutes. Even with fins on, I was way slower than the woman swimming next to me: she could do flip turns so she's obviously got some real swim training. I read a few tri-reports on - there's a lot to learn about transition technique that I won't start thinking about for months. I should definitely make sure to do some open water swims before the big day, as well as road biking (not just spinning and rail trail) and bricking (combining at least two of the three sports in one day's workout). Tomorrow or Sunday if it's not too cold, I'll go for a run - I'll be shooting for 21 minutes nonstop.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tri-Di? Why?

It's a diary of my attempt to train for and compete in the Pawling Triathlon, on June 2, 2007. That date is almost exactly 13 months from the moment when I decided that I could not go one more day as I'd been - gaining weight, feeling physically and emotionally tired, achy, and old. At 41 years old, I felt like it was now or never - I was half-way through my life and couldn't spend the rest of it feeling this way. Inspired by a friend who lost 15 pounds (how did she do it? she ate less and exercised more) I started doing the same in May 2006. I started with walking and swimming. After a month or two, I heard Jayne Williams, author of Slow Fat Triathlete, on the radio (the subtitle is "living your athletic dreams in the body you have now."). She was so funny and down to earth that the thought crossed my mind, for the first time, that I could do something like that. I've run in a few races over the years - in New York in the late 80's I ran in a few "Corporate Challenge" 5K's, and here I've entered the 5 mile road race for the day care center twice. In almost every race I've ever run, I've come in last or almost last - as the old blues song goes, I'm built for comfort, baby, I ain't built for speed.

But I got my bike out of of storage and fixed it up, added spinning and now, running to my workout schedule. I've lost 23 pounds (from 222 to 199), and I can take a 45 minute spinning class, run for 19 minutes without stopping, and swim for 30. I hope to lose 30 more pounds and be ready to compete by next June: it's a 1/3 mile swim, 13 mile bike ride, and 3 mile run. Seems pretty daunting, but I have six more months to train and I think my body could do it.

I don't think it will be interesting to read (or write) about equipment, or workout schedules, or nutritional supplements, or weigh-ins. But maybe I'll find something to say that will be entertaining, enlightening or otherwise useful.