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 25: So Done

Last Sunday, I ordered a new phone on the T-Mobile website, since I had neither the time nor the energy to go to a store. But it never came. That meant I was going to have to deal with this today, spend time on the phone, explain and re-explain and explain again what my problem was even though it wasn’t really my problem. I had paid my money for an order I needed. I just wanted there to be a person I could call and ask, “Where the fuck is my phone.”

But of course that’s not how things work in life.

Two hours and six transfers later, and one bout of crying, they’re now sending me my original order. Theoretically.

Two weeks until Ironman. It appears I consistently reach a point about two weeks to go where I am just done. Completely done. More excited about going to New York for five days after Ironman and having NO REAL WORKOUTS than actually doing the race. It’s usually around this point that I also start cutting corners and struggling with basic human functions. I think I took a two-hour nap yesterday and then slept over nine hours last night. After my last long hard run and my last long hard ride and just my last everything.

Done.

The Costs of Triathlon

The other day I was so tired I forgot to pay for daily parking. Literally just forgot. And it’s not like it’s secret that you have to pay a day fee for parking. I walked out of the lot and didn’t think about it again until I got back. Which made me think the $45 ticket is part of the cost of triathlon, since I was just so wrecked my brain was fried.

What else would count as part of the cost of triathlon? (Besides all the clothes + shoes + equipment + travel + races + hotels + doctor’s appointments + gym memberships. Ugh.)

  • Lots of pairs of headphones — now that I’m running on the treadmill 1-2x/wk I am frying headphones at an alarming rate
  • Which means you can also add the long-term effects to my hearing to the list of eventual triathlon costs, because you have to turn up the sound really high on the treadmill
  • Food, so much food, all the food, and since I’m too tired to make food I have to keep buying it already prepared
  • Lost income from the work I don’t do because I fall asleep on the floor
  • The super amazing magazine/producer/angrier-version-of-Oprah job I don’t have, obviously, because of triathlon
  • Healthy relationships. Hah.

Training Week 4: Nov. 17-23

This week was a recovery week, even though it’s not like I have a whole ton to recover from in my first three weeks of training again. Still. You know it’s time when it’s time.

Recovery weeks work different for everyone. Hell, training works different for everyone. For me, recovery usually involves four to five days of very little activity, light workouts, and a rest day or two. Then, back at it. So, that’s what this week was. And, Friday, we were back at it.

We were really back at it over the weekend, when we (the USC tri team) did a mock race duathlon thing against UCLA at the Rose Bowl — after having ridden moderately hard on Saturday. The kids and I may have to have a talk about taking it easy when it’s time to go easy and hard when it’s time to go hard. And, not trying to win everything. Also, the discussion might include my belief that race mode is an extra mode above what you’re capable of in a workout, and you’ve only got so many times you can go into that place. Use those times wisely.

Monday

Nothing. Unless you count lying on the floor as a thing.

Tuesday

Ran four miles easy with Natalie in the morning. “Played” some underwater hockey in the evening — in quotes because I mostly kicked around on the surface and tried to remember how to snorkel.

Wednesday

Yoga. Or, part of a yoga class, because I was so bored. Bored, bored, bored. Oh my god, is this over yet?

Thursday

Swam 1,600 meters between work and interviews. Pretty easy. Very tired from the talking.

Friday

Slept in, which meant I had to run in the afternoon. Usually, I avoid scheduling workouts on Friday afternoons/evenings, because I tend to come up with reasons not to do them. (This is also true for work. Basically, don’t expect much of me after about 3 p.m. on Fridays.) This time was no different. I was not excited about the run and delayed getting out the door. But, once I was going, it was fine. Actually, it was great. I ran about 7 1/2 miles with [5 x 5 minutes at goal marathon pace, 1 minute jog in between] and it wasn’t even hard. I ran all the efforts right around 7:00-7:05 pace — which, FYI, is faster than my goal marathon pace, but it just felt so easy. And, that’s why you take rest/recovery weeks.

Light core, PT, and stretching after I got home.

Also, I didn’t swim as a reward for being awesome.

Saturday

Surprisingly, my legs were kind of feeling the run from the day before. Shock. But, I was meeting the kids in Malibu to ride the PCH. (Booooo, the PCH.) So, off I went. Before we even made the turn on to the road, though, everyone had taken off and was all spread out and blown apart. Silly triathletes; group rides are supposed to be in groups. I rode with a couple of girls at a perfectly fine pace for a totally enjoyable ride until we made the turnaround. Then, I realized I needed to haul to get back and get to Venice by noon. It stopped being enjoyable, then, and was a little bit exhausting instead. And, because of the wind, all my killing myself only got me back about two minutes faster than it’d taken to go out.

Sunday

Fake duathlon around the Rose Bowl: four laps biking (a bit over 12 miles) and one lap running (about a 5K). I was 100 percent sure I was not “racing” this. I was prepared for a hard workout, but that’s it. And, when we started on our first little 3/4 mile run before jumping on our bikes, it was clear that I was not ready for anything resembling a race. My legs were beaten up and I was wheezing.

So, I got on my bike — not my nice race bike — and started riding moderately hard. I got passed by a UCLA girl. Then, I got passed by another USC girl. I felt like I was riding reasonably hard, but not hard hard. Also, I felt tired and like my bike is old. I was pretty unfocused and sort of thinking about the mental difference between “races” and races, and about how that’s exactly why I always do so badly in aerobic testing, and about what I was going to eat for lunch and if I need new tires on my bike, and about the fact that, man, that girl hella dropped me. Then, I was getting off my bike and talking to the people with the stopwatches and taking my time to brush the dirt off my socks and changing out of my bike jersey. Honesty, I don’t know what I was doing. I think I had checked out so much that I was creating reasons to not go fast. But, then, I started running.

I didn’t really intend to run hard. I just was focusing on turnover and breathing. It didn’t feel that hard at first; it just felt like very fast tempo and I figured it’d be good practice. Once I started to catch people, though, I definitely wasn’t going to slow down. And, it started to get faster and faster (and, then, oh, ouch, slower). It actually hurt for maybe five minutes in the middle, but not badly. It just felt like a hard, strong run. Only, it turns out I ran in the mid-19:00s for that 5K. Since my 5K PR is 18:58, that’s actually pretty fast for me. So, oops. Either I’m getting fitter and faster at running, or I accidentally ran really hard and am getting better at lying to myself. Both bode well.

Then, I cooled down with another lap running and swam 900 meters easy.

TOTAL: 6:50

I fell asleep shortly after 9 p.m. both nights this weekend. But, the fatigue isn’t all from training. Mostly, I’m just counting down until I can turn off my brain, play with Tupac the Cat, and run on Marin trails. 32 hours.

What It’s Like to Feel Shitty All the Time

For the last five to six weeks I’ve felt pretty awful. Whether or not this is ‘since Ironman‘ or ‘since moving to LA’ or ‘since starting the grad program’ is hard to tell. Those things all happened within three days of each other, so who knows. Obviously, I’m not stupid, so I figured at first that I just felt Ironman/moving-across-the-state awful. It would pass.

But, it hasn’t really passed. To a degree, yes, when I started sleeping some, I felt somewhat better. And, eventually, the post-race why-do-my-legs-now-weigh-200-pounds thing went away. The problem is, though, that it hasn’t gone all the way away. Most of the time I just drag myself around. I try to do some workouts, but they sort of mostly suck. Sometimes the workouts suck more than just in a generic way, like Sunday when I was so dehydrated and tired and struggling that I couldn’t make it through a 55 minute easy run without dry-heaving and walking. Somedays I just wake up and can’t even keep my eyes open. It hurts to walk. It’s exhausting to try and converse with people. I find myself standing in the middle of a room trying to decide what to do next.

This past Friday was one of those days, so was yesterday. Yesterday, it was like some mini-depression shit. I was dragging myself around. It was the worst I’ve felt on a random Wednesday for no reason in a long time. Of course, naturally, when I finally made myself go swim — because I have not been swimming and who knows how this Big Kahuna race is going to go — it was fine. It was slow and miserable, but it wasn’t the worst I’ve ever swum.

Anyone who’s ever felt a generic shitty knows that half the problem is the uncertainty. Are you just imagining this? Do you just need to snap out of it, pull it together, stop being lazy? Do you really feel that shitty? Lots of people feel shitty; maybe this will go away? Can you quantify what is wrong exactly? And why do you feel so shitty anyway? Maybe it’s something straight-forward: more sleep, eating better, active recovery? Maybe it’s not? Maybe there’s something wrong with your actual body: low iron, depleted stores that never bounced back, chronic allergies? Or some kind of massive serious illness?

These kinds of things can be hard to pin down for anyone, but for athletes it’s especially difficult I think. You might not even have noticed if you weren’t trying to do more with your body. Or, you might have noticed, but it wouldn’t make much of a difference in your daily life. But, when every tiny soreness and aching muscle prompts concern or cut workouts, then massive general fatigue is going to be noticed. And, it’s going to make a difference.

I’m giving it another few weeks to see if this shit gets less shitty. In the mean time, I’ll sleep and eat and rest and get my life in order and finally figure out my new schedule and unpack and finish all my homework and do moderate workouts to get moving and hope. I’ll definitely hope.

Am I Losing My Shit?

My mom sent me this on Facebook. In this analogy, I am the owl.
My mom sent me this on Facebook. In this analogy, I am the owl.

Yeah, maybe.

On July 29, I move to LA. People keep asking me if I’m all packed up. My reaction to this is basically the same as my reaction to all those questions people kept asking before our wedding: Oh my god, aren’t you so stressed? Isn’t it so hard to pick out all the details? Did you hire a planner? That reaction, in case you were wondering, is that I want to be like ‘Hi, I’m Kelly. Have we met.’

What would I wear for the next two weeks if I had packed? And, how would I even find stuff for my Ironman? And, oh yeah, there is an Ironman first you know, after which I’m home for about 18 hours before flying to LA, so what exactly am I supposed to pack? The one suitcase I’m bringing with me? Because, anyway, I’m coming home after the first three week orientation and driving back down with more stuff — which won’t even be all my stuff, because OH YEAH, it’s only 10 months and Steve is staying up here, so. Hi, I’m Kelly, have we even met.

There has been a decent amount of stuff to do to get ready for USC, though. Stuff like filling out paperwork, and figuring out IMAP settings for my email account, and signing up for half my classes and wondering why the other half are full already and realizing that means I’ll have to hope my powers of persuasion are as good with professors as they are with security guards.

Mostly, though, I’ve been worrying more about the Ironman first. There are a lot of things to worry about. Why is the internal hydration system impossible to get inside my Shiv (*my fancy bike, mom)? If I decide not to use it because I hate drinking out of straws, even if I can get it installed eventually, then where will I put extra water bottles? If I put the extra bottle on the frame, so I can access it better than on the back of the seat, then that’ll take the place of the aero-fuel-box that’s on the frame, so where will I store food? If I put food in between the bars, because a regular bento box won’t fit, then where will I put my computer? It’s like a more annoying and less cute version of ‘if you give a mouse a cookie.’

I also tried to work double last month, so when I get paid for that work in August (when I won’t be working), I’ll have money to buy stuff like food. This plan may not be working out great, though, because last week I worked three tiring days straight at the county fair, then was in the mountains for three days, then my sister visited for three days, and then I had to take a nap before we go to a wedding for three days. Today, I finally finished one story that was super overdue. Tomorrow, I have to finish the other. (Sorry, Mario, I promise, it’s coming.) This is exhausting.

Which brings us to what I’m mostly freaking out about. I do not feel ready for an Ironman. I feel exhausted. Of course, I’m used to feeling shitty right before a race, but not two weeks before, more like 1 to 4 days before. I haven’t even really started tapering. I just recovered last week from my big training block, then messed myself up at elevation running with Steve. And, now, I can barely run and swam terrible yesterday and my legs hurt and I think I need another nap. My current plan to solve this problem and the problem of having a stomachache for two weeks is to eat lots of red meat. And more vegetables. And less beer. And definitely less wine. Like Paleo, but still with some beer and chocolate-covered Oreos.

So, no, I haven’t packed yet.