So, here’s the thing. I took a rest week last week and I got more tired. I basically spent the whole week in a smashed, tired little ball, lying on my bed. I am not even making that up. There’s something about as soon as you give your body a break, it’s all: ‘Ohh, this is what that’s like?! Well, screw it, I’m out, bitches!’

On the other hand, I’ve been feeling (maybe) better this week. And, hopefully, I’ll be faster for the half-marathon this weekend.

Monday

Ran a hard 12 1/2 miles on trails with my brother-in-law. It wasn’t that hard—most of it was chill and moderately easy—but there were parts that I was pretty sure we were running fast, which my Garmin totally later confirmed we were.

Nate’s strength class after. By that night, oh man, my legs physically hurt so much that I was actually positive the bones inside them were hurting.

Tuesday

Swam 1,000 yards. And, you’re lucky I even got that much done. Everything still hurt so much.

Wednesday

Swam 2,700 yards with The Kids. This included an 800 straight. See, the thing about swimming with The Kids is that pretty much everyone on the faster half of the pool could beat me at a 100-yard race. But, almost none of them could beat me at ten of those in a row. I got stamina. So, this was my kind of night.

Thursday

Oh god. My body just like quit on me overnight. I started throwing up. When I woke up in the morning to shower and get dressed, it was. not. happening. Not even a little bit. I ended up sleeping about 15 hours.

Friday

20 minutes of yoga and rolling.

Saturday

In the morning—and I mean 4 a.m. morning—I had to drive out to Temecula to film a Spartan Race for a documentary I’m working on about obstacle course racing. Running around the obstacles with a camera made me realize that my ankle, which had been sore for a few days after Monday’s trail/strength extravaganza, was still really hurting.

Rode 10 miles easy on the beach path (with three 1 minute pick-ups) just to shake it out and make sure I could get back to training soon.

Sunday

Went to Long Beach with The Kids for some open water practice. We did one 1,000-meter(ish) loop moderately hard as race practice and then The Kids ran, but as soon as I took a few steps in the sand it was clear my ankle was not up for running. Why? Because my body quit on me. So, I swam another loop.

TOTAL: 5:35

Hopefully, now, I am rested?

  • Sleep
  • Seriously, aren’t you in college, why are you up this early?
  • The importance of efficiency when planning workouts
  • Planning
  • Proper fueling and hydration
  • No, really, you should sleep more

This is pretty much me right now:

Just-too-tired

Oh, Rest, Right

January 23, 2015 — 1 Comment

Usually, I train on a three weeks on/one week off schedule. Sort of. I mean I tend to not operate exactly on a seven-day plan and it’s all relative. But, I do always make sure to have three to five days of very, very easy stuff to recover about once per month.

Here’s the thing, though: I kind of forgot to do that.

I wasn’t training crazy over break, just steady and hard. And, I was doing some other random stuff (like cross-country skiing). And, I kept taking a day or two off or easy every now and then, when I felt tired. So, it just seemed like I could keep chugging along. Plus, my schedule was such that I was going to have two weeks at the end of January of basically no working out. It made sense, then, to push through until that break.

Only that didn’t end up happening. And, instead, the first two weeks of school have beaten me up. So, Tuesday, when I was trying to decide what I was going to do this week and how I was going to deal with the fact that I’d barely slept the night before and this documentary that’s trying to kill me and the fun of driving all over Greater Los Angeles, Steve suggested maybe it was time for a rest week.

No, I’m fine. I don’t even feel physically beaten up.

As soon as I decided this was a rest week through Saturday, though, my entire body just collapsed. It stopped functioning. I slept 15 hours on Thursday, after being not well over night. I’m pretty much about to fall asleep right this second. The idea of working out is mind-boggling. It’s amazing how as soon as you cross a finish line, you stop being able to even walk straight.

I’ve been having a lot of self-question moments lately in terms of: What kind of journalist do you want to be? And, even if you tell the honest version of the story, isn’t it still your version? And, aren’t you—even the best reporters—capitalizing on someone else’s story? And, who the fuck are you to judge anyway? Anyway. I’ve been having some kinds of questions like that. This story highlighted a lot of those issue for me. It was great. But, it also really made me think about how I would have written it. I don’t know that I could have or would have done a better job.

I’m in that rut where you wonder how you manage to fill so much time every day and what did you do exactly and weren’t there important work things you had on your agenda? And, then, you realize that all your time is getting used up with being tired from training, and driving to and from training, and switching parts on your bikes, and actually training. It’s exhausting.

Monday

Rode 23 miles moderately easy/medium along the beach. I was going to do some short efforts, but was pretty wiped out from coming back down to L.A., starting classes, and hard workouts over the weekend. So, no.

Swam 1,400 yards easy.

Tuesday

Ran track with The Kids, which I was primarily doing just to hang out, check in with the team, etc. After my hard track workout on Sunday, I wasn’t eager to do another, so I was sort of just tempo-ing the 2 x [1200 meters – 800 meters – 400 meters]. Also, I took one of the 400s off to go to the bathroom. But, what was impressive to me was that I was running a pace that felt good and sustainable and fast but not too fast, yet I was knocking out like 3:05 half-miles. Bam. And, yeah, I did end up running a couple laps hard-ish then, because, you know, when you’re feeling it you’re feeling it.

Did some TRX and strength work at the gym before showering to eat a quick breakfast, send some emails, and head to class.

Wednesday

Ran 1:56 (a bit over 14 miles I think). And, yay, I finally found a trail I like in L.A.! I started on the trail at the Rose Bowl, went up to JPL, and then into the Angeles National Forest. It’s insane that you start down by the Rose Bowl, where there are probably close to 100 people jogging and pushing strollers. Then, by the time I turned around an hour in, way back into the national forest, there was no one on the rocky trail and I had stuffed my headphones in my bra so that I could hear any mountain lions coming—which I’m 100 percent sure were lurking in the scrub. Ran fast and hard towards the end on the way back just for fun and just to prove to myself that I could. FYI, I can.

Swam 3,000 yards with The Kids in the evening. Lots of 100s and long efforts of 300 to 500 yards.

Thursday

Easy 14 mile bike around the coast in the morning.

Friday

Sometimes you got to do the hard workout even when you’re not feeling like the hard workout, because that’s the day it has to be done. Ran a tad over 10 miles with 20 minutes at Goal Marathon Pace and then 20 minutes at around half marathon pace, with five minutes jogging in between. The GMP part was surprisingly not bad. I ran 7:02, 6:58, and then 7:06 pace for the last not-quite-a-full-mile. The half-ish marathon pace part was nasty. I ran 6:33, 6:36, and 6:46, and called it immediately when the buzzer beeped for the third mile. And, then, I started walking to the mini-mart to use the bathroom, but I ended up having to run there or risk disaster. Extra speed work.

Light yoga, PT, and rolling when I got back.

Saturday

Cross-country skied. About 12 miles for the day, which was not quick, but was fun.

Sunday

Swam 4,500 yards at Masters. There are two practices on weekends, at 7:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Or, you can opt to do the double. I sort of did the double—as in I got out early. It was me and five fast guys doing it, so we all got our own lane and they basically just went on a totally different interval than I did. And, here’s a fun fact: I was swimming faster after an hour than I was at the start.

TOTAL: 13:00

You guys better watch out. If I can manage another two to three months without injury or freak accident, I might start having dreams of seeing just how good I can get.

Maybe Skiing is My Thing

January 18, 2015 — 3 Comments

XCski

This is me looking super serious cross-country skiing. (Actually, it’s after we skied from the trailhead to the downhill resort and were taking a break while we tried to decide where to go.)

I am not bad at cross-country skiing. I am surprisingly good. It may be the first thing in a long time that I’ve been good at and liked right away—probably since I was unexpectedly fast at running my freshman year of high school. This isn’t to say I’m good. I’m just good for having done it only three times now. And, given that we have a lot of cycling and running clothes and aren’t unfit, Steve and I tend to look like we must know what we’re doing—until one of us wipes out. Also, cross-country skiing fun.

If I lived somewhere with snow and trails and could just go every day, I might get actually good. Or, not. The list of things that I’m pretty good at, but then never get much better, is a long list.

XCski2

This is basically a Clif bar ad.

I am always fascinated, though, by what we could or might be good at. How do you know what you would be best at? What if you never find it? What if what you think you’re good at is simply a dictate of convenience and circumstance? I grew up without a lot of money in Chicago. Skiing was something rich people did, which is also what I told Steve the first time he wanted to go skiing. From Chicago, you pretty much have to fly to Colorado to be a skier. It was not something I would have ever known I was any good at.

The Australian Institute of Sport developed this series of tests a few years ago to find talent and most accurately direct that talent to the most appropriate sport for them, so that Australia could continue winning lots of medals and stuff. Man, I wish I could take those tests. I wish they had those tests for life too. And, then, that you also could still be like, “Nope, sorry, don’t feel like listening to your test. Just wanted to know. Still going to do this my own way. K, thanks.”

My way better picture of Steve.

My way better picture of Steve.

Ironman Buys More Races

January 16, 2015 — 8 Comments

2015 California Race Announcements

Yesterday, I was sitting in the office and picked up my phone to look at whatever new notifications I’d gotten, because that’s what you do in 2015. When I saw this email I actually exclaimed, “Oh shit!” (And, I hate the use of the word ‘exclaimed,’ but in this instance I’m not sure there is any other word that is more appropriate.) Of course, then, I had to try and explain to my co-workers why this was an ‘oh shit’ moment.

Look, maybe nothing will change with Big Kahuna or Superfrog, just because Ironman bought them as it continues its massive push towards total domination. Maybe. But, probably not.

People on the twitter are already upset that the Superfrog entry rose to $500, with $200 of that going in a mandatory donation to the Ironman Foundation. I have my unease about the Ironman Foundation and, certainly, I can’t afford a $500 half-Ironman race. But, coming as part of the announcement of the acquisition, the price increase was actually probably agreed to by the old owners of the event and shouldn’t be a huge shock.

What I think is more interesting is what exactly all this means for Ironman’s plans.

The company now has three California races in the span of three weeks—two of which are one week apart in Northern California and attract very similar competitors. (I’m actually going to guess that part of what convinced Big Kahuna to sell to Ironman was that they felt it was just going to get harder and harder to compete with Tahoe 70.3 and the other M-dot races.) So, now you own all these California races—races that used to be known for their independence and grassroots feel. If you’re a business and, no one disputes, a savvy one, what do you do?

I see no way that something doesn’t eventually get moved and/or cancelled. Not this year, obviously, but 2016 or 2017? Definitely. Maybe the company is hedging its bets against Tahoe, since originally it was weighing Ironman Tahoe or Ironman Santa Cruz, and so far Tahoe has had two rough years. Maybe if they actually have a year where they can do the full Ironman Tahoe and the 70.3 on the same day, they’ll decide that event format is a huge money-maker and move Big Kahuna to the spring or early summer, and roll out same day 70.3s and fulls around the country. Maybe they’re just eliminating the competition. Ironman also bought some of the smaller events that the Superfrog and Big Kahuna production companies put on. I’d be shocked if those continue beyond the next couple years.

Or, maybe, alternatively, I’m totally wrong, and this is all just part of a plan to own everything everywhere in all event formats and distances.

Either way, I’m not sure how all the buying up and squashing of competition in the last five to ten years hasn’t violated plenty of anti-trust laws. I don’t love anti-trust laws, because the line between what is just capitalism and what is illegal capitalism seems to change often, but they exist. And, if these kind of monopolistic practices were happening in another industry, I’m not sure they’d be allowed.

Which isn’t to say that, obviously, Ironman will probably do a great job with the races and Big Kahuna—sorry, IRONMAN SANTA CRUZ 70.3 now—could become wildly popular. I was, actually, originally rooting for Ironman Santa Cruz over Tahoe. And, maybe, everything Ironman does is totally beneficial to the sport, and the company is simply trying to serve a need on the West Coast. But, man, oh shit.

It seems like I’ve leveled off at my natural training point of 12-14 hours/week. When I’m super focused and build up appropriately, I can push my standard leveling off up to about 14-17 hours/week, but it’s not my natural state of being. And, that’s fine for now, particularly as I’m doing most of my hard stuff running — because running is generally lower volume and because you want to factor in recovery and stretching time and all that stuff that comes with running.

I am about to shift, though, since we’re two months out from the marathon and since I’m getting ready to lean in to a triathlon season. That means fewer long rides, but more intensity on the bike. Slightly more run volume with slightly more speed work. And, seriously, up the swim frequency already.

But, I actually feel pretty good about all this. So far.

Monday

Swam 2,400 yards. I was still very weirdly tired in weird places from cross-country skiing, so I almost nixed the swimming, but I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to do anything after classes started, for a variety of reasons, so got to get it in while you can.

Tuesday

Rode about 50 miles, some with Steve, and then some on my own up Alpine Dam and back down. I was going to do the whole loop, but it was getting dark and cold and I was tired still.

Wednesday

Ran about 8.5 miles before I drove down to L.A. Included in that were descending hard efforts of 6 minutes, 5 minutes, 4, 3, 2, 1. It was supposed to descend from half-marathon pace for the 6 minutes to 5,000-meter pace for the 1 minute. I went 6:39 pace, 6:34, 6:21, 6:14, 6:03, 5:41. There is no universe in which 5:41 is actually my 5,000m pace. So, that was either a mistake or wildly optimistic.

Did some light core and then yoga and rolling out my legs before getting in the car. Sigh, the car.

Thursday

Nothing.

Friday

Ran a bit over 5 miles easy, with drills, in a sad, sad park after work on my way home. A thought: if a large park with a lake and walking trails, etc, is the only really good and safe place for people to walk or jog after work, then why would you lock the gates and turn off the lights at 5 p.m. That seems counterproductive.

Saturday

Rode from Pasadena up Mt. Wilson with Justin. It’s 6,000 feet and about 18 miles up (and not warm at the top). And, naturally, it started raining on us as we descended. I was promised this wouldn’t happen in L.A.

Sunday

Ran about 7 miles on the track (which was rough and sucked, because it was just one of those days where the first track and pool I went to was totally closed, the second one was in the heart of Santa Monica, so I had to park at a public lot and pay, and then the pay machine broke, right at the same time I got done and a Christian youth group event got out, so no one could leave). But, I finished the workout: 1 mile at 6:52, six 800s descending at [3:09, 3:09, 3:07, 3:06, 3:00, 2:59], 1 mile at 6:44. Yes, it was ugly, but it got done. And, then, I finally got home after the parking gate finally opened, and yoga’d and rolled and laid on the floor.

TOTAL: 12:05

Oops with the not swimming.

I’m actually getting pretty fit. Sometimes, I can tell that. Justin told me I’m biking much stronger than I was back in that hole of miserableness in the fall. And, I’m running reasonably fast for me. I’m definitely getting fitter. What I’m not sure about is how fit — both in comparison to recently but also in terms of all-time. I signed up for a half-marathon in two weeks, so I guess we’ll see.

On Thursday, the USOC picked Boston as the American contender to host the Olympics in 2024. Somehow they were able to do this despite the alleged massive, huge, giant outcry on the social medias.

Now there are lots of weird questions about why the USOC picked Boston over Los Angeles or San Francisco (OK, really over Los Angeles, because even though I was massively hoping for San Francisco or for a joint L.A.-S.F. California bid, that was never going to happen — the internet was even more certain of that). And, I personally am of the opinion that Boston is not going to win the games. They clearly could not beat Rome or Paris or Istanbul or Berlin in a fair fight. Of course, the Olympics bidding process isn’t a fair fight and the U.S. will definitely get an Olympics before NBC’s TV contract comes up for renewal. So, who knows.

But, what really fascinated me was that as everyone started (or kept) speculating, one of the things story after story repeated was that Boston would have to overcome all this opposition from the public. I mean, there was a Twitter account against Boston2024, for Chrissakes, a Twitter account!!

So widespread was the certainty that public opinion was being reflected online and that the internet public opinion could stop the Olympics from coming to the U.S., that I heard it cited in conversation as a reason Boston won’t get the games. I saw this argument in papers and on other social media accounts commenting on the opposition’s social media accounts. (To a degree, it did manage to stymie the San Francisco bid in the sense that everyone knows anything is a hassle in San Francisco.)

And, yet, when I went to the NoBostonOlympics twitter Friday afternoon (after the selection announcement and after all this press, when presumably it would have had an influx of supporters), it had 560 followers. You know who has more Twitter followers than that? Me. Maybe my opinions should single-handedly shape public events.

The account now has about 1,800 followers after more coverage of its opposition efforts. And, you don’t need to convince me that how many followers something has is not the best indicator of anything. But, the fact remains that there was barely an internet movement against these games — until we gave them a platform to become one. (For comparison, the NoSF2024 twitter has about 100 followers and the organization is made up of about four people who know how to work the media, and still they got significant coverage in Bay Area news. Despite actual polls suggesting public opinion was very different.)

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Olympics is going to move forward if no one wants to host it. There’s been quite a bit of discussion about if the cost and burden of hosting the Olympics is simply not viable in a democracy. But, I don’t know if that’s the right question.

People having a voice isn’t a problem. Some people’s voices being artificially inflated until a few sound like a mob is a problem.

The internet has been wearing me out lately. (Like, really, really wearing me out. And, boring me with its over-the-top predictability.) And, I love the internet. When people ask what I do for work, sometimes I just say, “The Internet.” But, I will be the first to tell you that the internet is home to as many problems as solutions. It tends to magnify our worst tendencies and make it easy to rush to judgement. It works in favor of those who do not deal in nuance. It often misreads tone and fails to grant the benefit of the doubt. And, it creates mobs where there have not always been mobs. I’ve been thinking about this a lot because I’ve been forced to, because over and over again the internet mob creates just one version of the truth. And, perhaps, I often agree with the mob right now, perhaps I’m ideologically aligned with strident liberalism, but what happens when the mob is wrong? What happens when they’re not wrong, but just don’t deserve to be the only voice? What happens when I don’t agree with them anymore, when the mob turns on itself?

I love the Olympics too. I do. Despite all clear-headed skepticism about how it is packaged and sold, I love it. I think there are lies within the games, but that the competition at its heart is one of those capital T Truths. I believe that the Olympics can cost a city money, but I think it can also bring a city a lot in return. I know that there are changes that need to and must be made to how the Olympics run (like athletes being paid better), but I hope those things don’t fundamentally change the Olympics.

And, I really hope the internet doesn’t ruin the Olympics.

From xkcd of course.

From xkcd of course.

Monday

Off, because I was working in the city.

Tuesday

TRX in the evening after work — which was a weird TRX class. It involved jumping jacks and circuits and the instructor yelling a lot. I totally get that after a day of sitting around at work, “Cardio TRX” sort of makes sense for people. The class is geared at 9-5ers who want to get a little sweat on. At this point, though, I am 100 percent sure I could be a fitness instructor, but my class would be only geared to freelancers who have a lot of time to train. It would be just the strength work I want and none of the extra bullshit.

Swam 1,500 yards relatively easy.

Wednesday

Biked 14 miles. I was going to ride more, but it was a long exhausting day and by the time we left, I barely made it to the end of Lucas Valley before I wanted to turn around.

Yoga routine at home.

Thursday

Rode 41 miles with Steve out to Pt. Reyes. Way, way better than the day before. We actually hauled a decent amount of the ride, with me on my time trial bike, so that was fun.

Friday

Swam 3,150 yards at Masters in the morning. Oh, Masters.

Ran up Mt. Baldy after — the long way around Phoenix Lake and up the back side. It was cold. I was running across ice on the shady back side of the hill. And, it wasn’t that clear at the top because of all the fireplaces or “haze” or whatever. Still, though. It was a gorgeous run.

Saturday and Sunday

Cross-country skied. It turns out I am pretty good, for never have done it before. (That one time we tried to go in high school in Wisconsin totally doesn’t count, because my recollection is that we went almost nowhere. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure we were trying to do the wrong kind of skiing for the kind of skis we had.) But, being surprisingly good for your first time is still not the same as being actually good. So, we still sort of had to screw around on the trails, fell over some, accidentally went up a black hill, and managed about two and a half hours each day of real skiing.

TOTAL: 12:40

The cross-country skiing messed with my training a little bit. What does that count as? How much time do you have to spend not falling over for it to count? Will it translate to running fitness? And, I’m really sore in weird places today, so that sort of messes up the rest of the plan.

This was my last real week before heading back to L.A. And, things are about to get crazy as soon as I head back, so I won’t be getting as much training in. That means I wanted to get more in before I left, but you don’t always get what you want.