Week 8: Running is Dumb

I had this idea this past week that I’d do this week’s post as a running diary throughout the week (which I’ve done before). Usually, when I do this, I just write it in notes on my phone over the week and then press publish at the end.

Well, here is as far as I got, before I promptly fell asleep and completely forgot:

Monday

9:02 a.m.

OK, OK, guys, I’m awake, stop meowing.

9:14 a.m.

God, I’m tired. I guess I really should get out of bed. I guess. I really do have things I need to do.

10:11 a.m.

Oh, look, the Olympics are on.

11:52 a.m.

I have put away all my stuff from L.A. organized my schedule and notes for the week, redone my calendar, sent some emails, and can’t delay getting started on these workouts any longer. How slowly can I gather my gear?

12:45 p.m.

Weighted backpack stair repeats. This is really a lot of days of ultra-training in a row. I am tired. On the plus side: zone out and put on a podcast. On the downside: my legs and brain hurt.

2:11 p.m.

Easy swimming post-stairs really shouldn’t be this hard. It’s just easy. Why does this sound impossible? Why am I sitting in the car about to cry? I am legitimately about to cry. I think I might be tired. Or hungry. Or both.

2:16 p.m.

Eat a Reeses to get the job done. #protip

2:44 p.m.

Everyone sucks. Everything is stupid. I should just quit everything.

2:48 p.m.

I might still be hungry. And tired. I should probably not make any life decisions right now.

3:05 p.m.

Or I should make all my life decisions because fuck it.

3:21 p.m.

The swim got done.

6:55 p.m.

I was about to get up and make dinner but now Tupac the Cat is sleeping on me. This has not been a wildly successful day.

__

It’s not that the fatigue is a surprise. You could have fairly easily looked at my schedule and known that right now I’d be at the end of the three week block of miles I’d need to put in to be 50K ready on March 3. Coming off the almost nothing of November/December, it was just a reality that I’d be constantly at the edge of my fitness and also the edge of how quickly I could really build that fitness.

But something can both be 100% predictable and logical, and still not be easy.

I haven’t really hit this kind of training wear and tear since…September? I remember that it happens. I know that it happens. Doesn’t mean I’m awake enough to care or to be polite to some random guy who wants to monologue at me about how he’s a really big deal at Stanford and here’s a list of all the renovations he’s done on his home and what he paid. And, anyway, when the majority of your volume is coming from running it’s The Worst.

Add to that the emotional seesaw of the Olympics and this morning I was glued to the TV for well over an hour of ski jumping, just because I couldn’t motivate myself to stand up and there was something strangely mesmerizing about them going down the hill and take off and land, over and over. That they get “style” points is bullshit though. Don’t argue with me about it, not this week.

 

Week 7: In L.A.

This will be short. I am tired. Have I mentioned I’m racing my first 50K in three weeks? And we’re in the ‘you really need to run a lot’ period of training.

I went to L.A. this weekend on a whirlwind 52-hour tour to visit some friends. That meant I wasn’t exactly “plugged in” so to speak. I sort of zoned out, instead, ate a lot of cookies, did some running. Friday afternoon, after I met a friend for lunch, I rolled over to the Coliseum pool (relic of the Olympics, now a $3.50 public pool, L.A. for the win). And I could not figure out what length this goddamn pool was, why they had put the bulkhead in somewhere weird. The lifeguard said “it’s 25” and I said, “no, it’s not.” I can close my eyes and swim 25 yards. This was not that. This wasn’t even 25 meters, I was positive. It was something weird.

Turned out it was 27.5m. But my workout and intervals and times were all set for 25y, so I had to swim almost 20% more on everything. Ugh. I can not even express to you how much this sucked. I could tell you “it sucked but I got it done and it was a total slog.” Except, seriously. I almost got out of the pool and gave up. And then when I didn’t get out, I felt like I was swimming in place. And then I got it done eventually. Not amazingly. I had to burn a lot more matches, though, than I wanted to burn on a random middle-of-the-road workout day.

And then on Saturday I ran 16 miles from my friend’s house to meet her for a hike in Temescal Canyon. It was a classic L.A. beach run, down the beach bike path all through Venice, Santa Monica, almost to Malibu. It was also a bit of a slog. I actually got the iPod out, that’s how slog-y it was. I’m sure there are people who love running along the beach. Or, rather, I think there are people who think they like running along the beach. But in reality it’s a mindfuck and the cement path just pounds your legs and everything hurts and it never ends. Trust me. I’ve done a lot of beach path running. It’s not as awesome as it sounds.

But it also got done. And my legs never really felt worse. Actually, they felt OK, and I felt OK. And then I ran “fast” on Sunday and weighted backpack stair’d today.

A lot of days I don’t really know how to explain what I do or what I want to do or anything about my life. A lot of days it feels like I’m just sort of dicking around and like I should PULL IT TOGETHER ALREADY. But then sometimes I tell myself if you just do the workouts, it doesn’t matter how you feel about them. Just keep logging the work, the days, getting it done. Eventually it’ll click. I hope.

You can read all my weekly recaps of being a second year pro triathlete. 

Week 4: Throwing up in Bermuda

This week, I went to Bermuda for basically a long weekend. Four days really. A work reporting trip that was supposed to include a lot of triathlon-ing.

And then I got really sick. Maybe five hours after I landed, around 4 a.m. Really, really sick.

Sometime around the start of the 12 hours of throwing up, I passed out and hit my head on the shower stall. At least, that’s what I assume happened because I came to in the act of vomiting on myself, laying in blood on the floor of the shower. (When I told the PR staff for the trip that I was too sick to do anything and probably wouldn’t be leaving the hotel room, I downplayed this part. People sort of freak out when you say things like “passed out and hit my head.” But #realtalk guys, it was bad.)

Continue reading “Week 4: Throwing up in Bermuda”

Week 3: It gets better

There was a day, during the bad period in December, when I was doing a short walk/jog and there was an older larger man also walk/jogging around the neighborhood in his basketball shorts for his health. And I was not gaining on him.

Which is fine, except that the whole time I was taking walk breaks, I kept thinking to myself: YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL AT THIS. (I talk to myself in the second person, or maybe that’s the third. Whatever.)

Continue reading “Week 3: It gets better”

Week 2: Sparkles and Sick Cats

We’re in year two of this pro triathlon thing. More or less. You can read all my weekly recaps.

When we got our new cat Snoop, poor Tupac got so stressed out he made himself sick. At first he seemed fine, then he developed some kind of urinary tract infection and blockage and had to have a mini-surgery. This is, apparently, a thing that happens with male cats: they stress themselves out so much they get sick. After he recovered, he was mostly fine again. The two of them were getting along, except for the fact that Snoop is insane and tries to break everything in the house.

Continue reading “Week 2: Sparkles and Sick Cats”

Week 32: The System

By bike, it is eight minutes from our house to the light at the first main intersection. After you turn onto the valley road there, you can ride for hours without ever hitting another light. Seven hours is the longest I’ve ever tried, but you could probably do more. You can go back and forth in the valley for countless short intervals, or you can reach the end, head up and over the hill, and have miles around the reservoir for tempo efforts. Any weekday mid-morning, you’ll basically find every pro in Marin looping the reservoir hard.

I do not generally drive to ride my bike. I do not ride junk miles (mostly). If I don’t do short runs from my house around the neighborhood or up and over the trailhead, then I typically drive the six minutes to the ponds or the eight minutes to the state park — on the way I pass my pool at the JCC. [The best place in the world to run is a 20-minute drive away, which is mostly for weekends, fun, and when I’m already headed that way.]

My point is: I have a system. And I don’t think I could actually work as much as I do (contrary to popular belief) and train as much as I do and still sleep as much as I do if I had to factor in things like other people or logistics or wasting my time. Choices and figuring things out take energy; I don’t make choices in these things, I just zone out and do whatever fits into the system.

We’re getting close to the end of the year. You can smell the toasting. You can feel in the air how done things are. How little patience there is left. If you try to waste my time right now, I might punch you in the face with whatever tiny bit of energy I have.

I’m not sure this system is sustainable forever. Both of us are less than three weeks out from Ironman and you can tell by looking at our house. Eventually it may be necessary to move somewhere we can both work from home without having to shove things off the couch. Eventually I may have to write an actual book or work a job at an actual office (unlikely, however, given that I haven’t applied for any). Eventually the system may come apart at the seams. But eventually also my upper back is going to completely seize up and my foot is going to give out and my jaw is going to grind down so hard that I bite right through my already-fake teeth. Eventually. Right now, we’re holding everything together with duct tape and glue and momentum. If you just start running the same route out the house that you always run, then you’ll be halfway around the loop before you realize you’re going.

Week 31: And Then It All Hit Me

Friday I had a meltdown. It was coming. People keep asking, ‘What’s wrong?’ Dude, what’s wrong is I did an Ironman and bounced back pretty well and then I did a really hard half-Ironman and buried myself and did not bounce back well.

I kept thinking I’d come around all week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, oh, it’ll pass. Thursday I was exhausted still, without doing very much. It’s fine; it’ll pass. But Friday I could not hit my swim workout times, was failing everything, got out of the pool halfway, and went home to sleep for 3-4 hours. I don’t do that, generally. I cut things short sometimes — a 3:30 ride is sort of like a 4:00 ride — and I have a tendency to space out during recovery weeks or mini-breaks. But abandoning a specific workout mid-way through the intervals? Nope. Usually I just suck it up and sprint until I hit the times, or ultimately fail on one and then I take 10 seconds and try again.

I slept and ate and ate and laid on the couch dicking around on my phone, mostly texting and watching bad TV. Then I slept more. And Saturday I got up and rode over seven hours (which actually took eight hours with stops, which is basically an entire work day). And I bounced back. More or less.

While I was laying in bed Friday afternoon freezing and whining to Steve to bring me more blankets, I thought, ‘Well, if I can’t rebound in time for Louisville, I’ve had an OK year anyway, that’s fine.’ I may have been slightly melodramatic, because of course I’ll rebound in time for Louisville. Nothing about this is unexpected. Including the fact that I’m done, ready for the end of the season. Just under four more weeks, guys, and then you won’t even believe how much I don’t plan to get out of bed.

 

Week 26: What We Have In Us

It’s time to race Ironman Mont Tremblant and I’m in taper mode, so I probably have argued with you about some tedious fact, because goddamnit I was right. I also feel terrible. You can read all the weekly recaps of how we got here.

When I signed on with Hillary in June 2015 my goal for IM Wisconsin was a solid race under 11 hours. At some point, while training, I realized I could maybe hit 10:45, and if things went really really well I might slip in around 10:30 and be in the top 4 or 5 girls.

I ended up finishing 2nd in 10:21 and I’m pretty sure if you had seen me in the last two miles, while I was high-fiving every person there, you’d have known exactly how surprised I was about it.

Continue reading “Week 26: What We Have In Us”

Week 20 & 21: Three Stories

I was going to write this amazing essay about California and America and training and balancing injury with always being on the edge of injury anyway. I’ve been writing it in my head the last two weeks while biking and I’ve been spending a lot of time biking, so it was pretty good in my head. But, well, I’ve been spending a lot of time biking. And working. And eventually the math just isn’t there on the number of hours left. So instead, here are three things that happened in the last two weeks:

1. On 4th of July I went for my second long ride in four days. I was exhausted and the ride sucked. Then, as I was almost done, descending back into town and had to be home for an interview in 27 minutes, my back brake caliper came off. God, I was so pissed. I almost started throwing stuff over the side of the bridge I was on: water bottles, phones, keys. But the fastest way to deal with it was to pull myself together and fix it (temporarily), so that’s what I did. And, then, totally true story, as I was rolling home from there, soft-pedaling through town, a bird shit on my arm.

2. Wednesday night I was supposed to be at a show from 8-11:30 p.m. But Tupac the Cat has recently decided his new trick is to go out and refuse to come home for many, many hours. We ended up rescheduling the show for this week and, so, I ended up with three free hours where I had nothing I had to do. Theoretically. Yet, somehow those hours got filled with work due the next day, with fixing up my back-up bike while the Dimond was getting worked on (not as nice as the Dimond but got to make do), and getting things done so I could ride first thing in the morning before we had to leave immediately after I was done. Basically all stuff that had to happen that night. Which raises the question: What was my plan originally? Did I have one?

3. Friday, it was 107 degrees up in Sonoma. I know this because I rode the 60 miles back from Healdsburg. Usually, heat isn’t too bad on the bike and I deal OK with it at this point (though I still hate it), but Friday was a furnace. The wind blowing in your face felt like an oven. I couldn’t literally drink enough water. And then I started to get nauseous and have a bad headache—things that happen when you’re getting heat messed up. Add to that, I was barely turning the pedals over. About 25 minutes from home, struggle slogging through the miserableness, I saw my front tire roll over a rock and go flat. And for maybe five minutes I stood there, in the 3 p.m. heat, trying to decide if I should call someone to come get me, if I was going to die on the side of this road. Then, I got on with fixing the flat, one slow step at a time, and then I got back on the bike, and then I rode home.

This week sucked. It was ugly and rough, and when I can’t physically cram everything in, I get angry. It goes something like: This is stupid, what the hell are we doing, why the fuck am I trying to make this all fit when it won’t fit, am I some kind of goddamn idiot. It sucked.

But I think there’s something Ironman training teaches you—for better and definitely for worse—where you just keep going one step at a time, and there is no plan, because for the love of God you can’t think beyond this immediate step you’re on right now, all you can do is the next thing you need to do and then the next and hopefully eventually it all works out. I mean, if that’s not the underlying principle of Ironman, then I haven’t learned shit in the last two years.

Week 10: Into the Canyon

You can read all my weekly recaps of being a professional triathlete

This week’s comes with a trigger warning: Please do not tell me you are concerned about me. No kidding. I am concerned about me. Please assume that if I actually needed help my first course of action wouldn’t be to write vague essays on the internet. 

If you’ve ever swum competitively, you’ve had a day where you struggled to make the intervals. You were swimming full-out and at first you’re hitting the wall with a couple of seconds before you have to start the next one. Then, you’re barely touching and you have to go again. You’re swimming as fast as you can, hard, again and again. Until eventually you just miss an interval. You hit the wall, fuck, and go right into the next one, but you’re a second behind now. You’ll have to swim faster to catch up, but you can’t swim faster because you’re already swimming as fast as you can. So you start to weigh your options: Should you sit out a 50y and then jump back in? Take an extra five seconds to re-group? Try to go harder and make it up? And the whole time you’re thinking this, you’re still swimming full-out, floundering, because you can’t afford to fall farther behind.

This is pretty much a metaphor for my last week. Also, literally, that happened to me in the pool on Thursday.

Continue reading “Week 10: Into the Canyon”