Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Week in Review 1/22- 1/28

All in all, a pretty good and intense week!  I managed to get one of the cold bugs going around, but still trained; just decreased the intensity to make up for feeling lousy.

Sunday- Day off
Monday- Five mile run in morning; Swam for an hour in the evening.  Still stuck on 100m's until the coach feels my form can last longer. 
Tuesday- P90X Yoga (ouch, at an hour and a half long!); 30 min. ride on trainer
Wednesday- Five mile run in the morning; Swam for an hour in the evening.  I kept with 100m's, but made my own little fun with them.  I would do one 100m "jogging", then the next 100m picking up every 25m.  It was fun and added a little variety.
Thursday- 60 minutes on the trainer.
Friday- 7 mile run; was supposed to be 9.3.  At about 5.5 miles is when I experienced the calf issue described in the previous post.  It's still sore, but doing better.
Saturday- 34 mile ride with Pat to the Millerton store.  He got new tires, but a few miles from being done he still got a flat!  Poor Pat!  He'll be a pro at tire changing.  Me, I'm just hoping I can remember how! ;)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Feeling old

This morning I attempted to run 9 miles at a 7:45 minute/mile pace.  I knew it was going to difficult, but wanted to try it out anyway. 

I am just starting a half-marathon training program, one that is by the same institution that did the marathon training program I did when I qualified for Boston in 2010 (I didn't go to Boston, but I still qualified!).  Last Friday I did a little track workout, and while I was running home my right calf felt like it had a cramp.  It was painful and inconvenient, but I figured it would just go away.  Well, it hasn't.  In fact, as of this morning, it's worse. 

I was 5.5 miles into my run, struggling to keep under 8 minute mile pace.  I needed to cross the street and there was a car coming, so I picked up my speed to get across faster.  That did it.  Suddenly my calf seized in pain!  I stopped, pushed "stop" on my Garmin (wouldn't want this to affect my average pace! ;) ), and tried to rub it out.  Nope, not doing any good.  Great!  Here I've been worried about my foot and my knees giving me problems, and it's my CALF?  Grrrrr.....

Limping home, I walked, then jogged just so I could get there faster.  It had been a drizzly morning and I was wet.  Now that I had slowed down, I was getting cold.  And I wondered and worried how this was going to affect training.  Ironically, for the passed week that my calf was a little sore, my foot had NO pain at all.  I couldn't believe it!  It still isn't giving me a problem; just my CALF!  What in the world?!

Yes, I'm frustrated.  I suppose I need to back off and let some healing take place.  Running is supposed to be my strength, and it's the element that keeps getting me injured.  Cycling is going well, although I need to get my bike tuned up.  But there are so many things on our family's "to do" list that need to take priority.  Riding on the trainer isn't as hard on the mechanics as the elements of the outdoors.  It doesn't get as dirty which is a primary issue in bike maintenance. 

Don't worry, I'll continue to press on, and persevere.  I'll look back later on in the year and laugh at myself. Might as well start now.  Ha!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Week in Review January 15-21

This was a pretty good week, except that I missed swimming on both Monday and Wednesday!  Boo hoo! 

Sunday- Ride on trainer 1 hour
Monday- 6 mile run
Tuesday- "Core" workout from P90X; 45 minute ride on trainer
Wednesday- 5 mile run
Thursday- Off
Friday- Track workout: 1 mile warm-up, 6 x 800m, 1 mile cool-down
Saturday- Virtual ride (1 hour, 22 minutes of UP HILL...virtually, anyway), followed by a 2 1/2 mile jog.  It's been a long time since I've done a brick! (Brick= Doing two elements in the same workout)

It would have been better if I could put some swims in there, but that will have to do for now!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How it all started, Part 3 (or, The Fresno Pacific Years)

Without a doubt, the four years I spent at Fresno Pacific University could be summed up quoting Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities:  "It was the best of times...it was the worst of times."  Of course, the good outweighed the bad.  And it is because of having both that I did more growing in those four short years than in the 18 combined years previous to that.  That experience made me better equipped for what life has had to offer in the fifteen succeeding years since.  FPU has a very special place in my heart, and always will.  That is why I include it in this Ironman experience:  To be an IronBIRD!  (The mascot for FPU is a Sunbird)

I am in the front row, third from the right.  My brother Jason is in the middle row, third from the right.

 So, I arrive in Fresno two weeks before school starts to check in with the Cross Country team.  It was an eventful summer in the athletic department.  The coach who recruited me resigned in the middle of the summer, and the former coach (from the '70's and 80's), Bill Cockerham, was asked to fill in for the position for that fall.  There were also several other "holes" in the team, with recruitment falling short on the leaving coach's priorities.  There were only five of us on the team, with one ready to leave from homesickness before the school year even started.  Bill did some scrounging of potential cross country participants.  If a student had put "track" or "cross country" anywhere on their Fresno Pacific application, he called them.  He ended up getting a couple more girls for our team, giving us a slim 6 (You need 5 to score, the ideal number is 7).  He also was able to find a couple of basketball players to add to the men's team, and had a couple walk-ons.  My brother was on the team for his third season, and it was so nice to be with him again! 

The race schedule that season was pieced together as best as Bill could do with the short amount of time he had.  We mostly ran in road races in town, the others being one invitational in southern California, Conference championships in Costa Mesa, then District championships in La Mirada.  We had a great team chemistry that year.  Maybe we felt like the toys in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"...we were just a bunch of misfits!  It was a successful season for me, personally.  I ran a 5K personal best up to then of 19:42 at GSAC, placing 8th overall, and also earning All-GSAC honors. 

Those few races with college athletes opened my eyes like they hadn't been before then.  I've always been critical about my size and weight.  But then seeing other female athletes in their little bun huggers and cute little jerseys sent me a bit over the edge.  For a short time I would routinely practice bulimia.  But then a couple people found out and confronted me.  I don't remember what they said, but it worked.  I stopped before the season was over!

Track welcomed our new coach, Eric Schwab.  He hailed from Azusa Pacific University, a conference rival.  All of us were thrust into a season of transition and getting to know each other as coach and athlete.  He gave me a very high compliment the first time I met him.  He told me he was excited to coach the girl who beat all of his runners from APU at GSAC the cross country season before.  Whoa!  I didn't even realize I had beat all of them.

He had us write down our best times and distances for any and all events we've ever done in track.  I only had done the 800m, 1600m, 3200m, and mile-relay in high school.  He looked at my times and said that it looked like the farther I go, the faster I go.  I didn't and still don't really agree with that, but he was my coach, and I respectfully submitted to his authority.

Sophomore year was awful.  That was the "worst of times" from the quote in the beginning.  I was broken-hearted, felt used-up, hated myself and spiritually gone.  I fell into a self-destructive routine again of gagging myself after eating.  It wasn't so much about weight this time, but about punishing myself for not being good enough.  I was still able to get All-Conference again in Cross country that year, though I'm not sure how.  While I was home during Christmas break I reunited with a friend from high school.  I poured out everything to her and she prayed with me.  She encouraged me to get right with the Lord, and give Him the weight I was carrying. 

That night I prayed and gave it all to Him.  Immediately, I felt lighter from the burden being lifted, and the room was brighter!  I was made new, and I was a force to be reckoned with!

FPU Women's Track Team, 1995

Track season my sophomore year was the best of any of my four college years.  We were a greater team, and were a tight-knit group.  I had my personal best times in the 5,000 meters, at 18:48 at the GSAC championships at Point Loma in San Diego.  The next morning I ran a 40:25 in the 10,000.  In both races I finished second place to my amazing teammate Rhonda.  Our team ended up placing 3rd place overall...the year before we were LAST!

Junior year in Cross Country was my best cross country season.  The team of incredible young women I was a part of had a lot to do with that.  For the first time a Fresno Pacific Cross Country team was ranked in the top 25 of the NAIA!  Each race we would see PR's.  At the GSAC championships that year, our entire cast of seven had times under 20 minutes!  I had my 5K PR of all time that race at 18:42.  I also earned All-GSAC again, but that wasn't even the best part.  We found out officially a few days later, but our team qualified to go to Nationals that year!  The first Fresno Pacific Cross Country team to qualify!  We were sooooo excited!

Checking out the course the day before the race.  It was COLD!  Nationals was held in Kenosha, Wisconsin that year.  From left to right: Angie, Kim, Chyllis, Jaynee, Vanessa, Rhonda, me.

None of us really had a great run that day, but it was still a momentous occasion, and we loved almost every minute of it!  Those girls are still so precious to me!

Track my junior year raised another challenge that would affect my running attitude for 14 years after that.  Eric said he wanted me to try to qualify to run the marathon at Nationals that May.  In order to qualify I would have to run a half-marathon under 1 hour, 29 minutes.  He registered me to race in the Las Vegas half and paid for me and my mom to go.  That was an amazing run!  The first 8 miles has a slight downhill, then flattens out the last 5 miles.  My training got me through the first 12 miles.  Praying got me through the last 1.1 mile!  My finishing time was 1:28:15.  I made it!  I couldn't wait to get back to Fresno to tell Eric (this was back in the day before cell phones)!  He wasn't surprised at all that I had made it, but shared in my excitement.

The rest of the season is a bit of a blur; nothing really exciting happened until I got to Atlanta for Nationals.  I was accompanied by two other teammates that had qualified: JT in the Long Jump, and Coleen in the Hammer.  Coleen and I were able to stay with my aunt and uncle in Marietta.  I was so glad to have their support through the marathon race.  My cousin Tammy even drove up from Florida to see me, too!

The marathon race was so strange to me.  The night before there had been a thunder storm, which was nice for us to run in cooler, clean air.  There were only 16 women starting, and slightly more than that in the men's field.  We had a 5-looped course, each loop consisting of just over 5 miles each.  It was kind of shaped like a cross, so that spectators would see us several times each loop if they stayed toward the center of it.  Also running in the women's race was a girl from our conference who attended SCC.  I was told by Eric that she wanted to beat me.  We had a bit of history, that girl and I.  I had beaten her every time we raced up till then.  I had even made up almost an entire lap in a 10,000m race.  But that was history, and the marathon was this day.

Eric wanted me to try to average 7:30 pace, which now that I know more about marathoning, was way too fast for me!  But, for the first loop, that is the pace I ran, staying with the pack.  I knew that was too fast for me by the second loop, so I slowed down.  By the third loop, the prospect of not even being halfway done loomed before me, and I got discouraged.  And for the first time in any race, I walked.  I fell to last place.   Never, ever, ever had I EVER finished last before.  I didn't want this race to be my first!  I had three goals going into the race:
1- Finish
2- Don't finish last
3- Beat the girl from SCC

I really wanted to do all three; but at the time, I just wanted to finish.  Loop three and four finished with me continuing in last place.  Then, on the fifth and final loop, a miracle happened.  Eric told me the girl from SCC was slowing down, and he thought I could catch her.  That was all he had to say!  It took me another mile or so, but I caught her!  I passed her!  I wasn't last anymore!  I even went to pass another girl, too.  I finished in 3:48 and in 11th place, and met all three of my goals!  There were 3 women who had dropped out during the race.  But boy oh boy, I never wanted to do a marathon again.  And I wouldn't for 14 more years!

Senior year was another bit of a blur.  We had some girls on our team graduate, others transfer to other schools.  There were only four of the nine women from the previous year's team left.  I earned All-GSAC again for my fourth consecutive year.  I was the first female athlete in Fresno Pacific history to do so!  Track was ok.  Eric wanted me to try to qualify for the marathon again, but I fell short of qualifying in a half marathon in Bakersfield by a few minutes.  I really didn't want to do it again, which is probably why the "fire" wasn't there.  The only thing from that season was a PR in the 10,000 meters, ending at 40:15.  I was glad to have even ran that!  It wasn't a good race, and I think I could have done better under better circumstances.  Oh well.

And with that...college life and running collegiately ended.  I didn't end on my best, I feel.  There was more in the tank left, but I was out of time.  I would take some time off, I told myself, and get back to it.  I was getting married that summer, and like so many before and after me, I had such high expectations on how life would be.  I was in for an awakening.  Ken and I had a "five-year plan" laid out.  Ah, the plans of mice and men. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Training Update 1/1 - 1/14

I really should do this more often!

Ok, I don't have particulars for these two weeks, sorry!  I am not writing any of this down anywhere else right now.  I have to look up in my Garmin to see what I've been doing, but even at that it doesn't record my swims or rides on the trainer.  So here goes my best guess:

I skipped a week of swimming, but only one of the two was my fault.  The coach didn't show up on Monday, and then Wednesday I had to do CPR/First Aid certification for Team in Training coaching I'm doing this spring.  Last week I made both swim nights, and improved a lot!  In my last 100 meter intervals on Wednesday I finally felt like I wasn't going to burst my brain by concentrating on all the mechanical particulars!

Cycling is going really great.  I feel a lot stronger already!  I have had the great fortune of not getting as many flats as my training buddy (he's 3 for 5!).  I know they will happen, so I'm going to enjoy this lull in flats while I'm having it.  I get on the trainer at least twice a week.  One of the training articles I've read is that riding on the trainer for an hour is more efficient than an hour out on the road.  This is due to a lack of having to deal with traffic, lights and signs.  There is no coasting, just constant pedaling!  A couple of weeks ago I rode 45 miles, which is my current record distance!  I can't wait to laugh at myself in the months to come when that distance stretches out farther and farther.  By May it will be 100!

Running...oh how I love it!  It is a passion of mine, and near and dear to my heart.  It doesn't always feel good doing it (like going 8 miles the day after riding 45 miles...at a constant pace of under 8 minute miles each of the 8 miles!).  But the confidence is growing and so is the training!  Pat and I did that 8 mile run together, then did a 10 mile run the next week.  I think we both have the gift of exhortation, because we do a good job of convincing ourselves "we can do it!".  It's been nice to have a buddy!  I also run with another friend who is trying to get back into running shape, and another who will do a half ironman distance triathlon with me in July.  I look forward to doing long rides and runs with others as the months progress!

Well, there you go.  Sorry I am not more disclosing on particulars...I would if I could remember!  Don't worry, I will have a notebook with my official training schedule once that starts in March.

A Foot and A Heart

Last time I wrote about my foot having hurt for some time, and I was going to get it looked at.  Last Monday I did the usual office visit, complete with xrays and examination.  This time the Dr. gave me a prescription for an orthotic.  He also said this should make it less painful, and that I can train as planned.  He even wished me luck on the Ironman!  Oh, Happy Day!!!  This Wednesday I go to get fitted for my orthotic. 

I recently confessed to my training buddy that I have had a cold, dry spell spiritually.  It was terrible to hear myself saying those words!  I have been blundering through each day for many months now.  It has felt like winter in my soul for far too long.  There have been questions, frustrations, doubts and...more frustrations.  It didn't happen overnight, but has been a slow progression of neglect of nourishing my soul on my part. 

It is my opinion and experience that athletes will understand 2 Timothy 4:2 (as well as other scripture using a racing language) better than anyone. "Be ready in season and out of season...."  The Apostle Paul is writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, as he is training to take Paul's place.  "Be ready..." 

Am I ready?  No.  I feel like I am at the starting line and have no training done to get me through the race in front of me.  It would be like being told I have to do the Ironman this weekend.  Ah!  I have some in the tank, but nowhere what is required!  So it is with the health of my soul.  I rely on past experience and knowledge to get me through.  This isn't the first time it's happened, but it seems like it's been a long time since the last time I've been at this place.

Well, it is no longer winter in my heart.  Spring has sprung!  New life is rushing through each pounding pulse it takes. 

Today I spent a couple of hours in the car by myself and had my own little worship service.  I had to be careful not to cry too much so I could still drive safely.  I wanted to fall on my knees and lift up my arms to my heavenly Father, my Lord and my Holy God!  Life worth living begins and ends with Him alone.

One of my favorite hymns is "Tis So Sweet (to Trust in Jesus)".  I have loved it for many reasons, but mainly for the simple verbalization of His preciousness.  This is the second verse with the chorus:

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise
Just to know, "Thus Sayeth the Lord"

Jesus, Jesus, How I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus
Oh for grace, to trust Him more!

Amen, and amen!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Training Update (Ok, more like Confessional)

It's...happening...again!  I make such illustrious plans- Ieven try to fit in some "what-ifs" and "just-in-cases" into the training forecast.  I can't even blame the weather- it's been beautiful!  It's life; it's the little things that add up to a lot.  Today's excuse was getting my hair cut and eyebrows done.  But then again, I hadn't had my hair cut since last May, and I needed it.  I have this little window of time every day when the kids are at school to do all of those things that I would not normally do with them around.  There is this whole world that has opened up for me in the realm of grocery shopping without children.  It is FABULOUS! 

Ok, so back to the confessional.  I haven't posted my training log in awhile because there hasn't been much to report.  I left off on December 17th.

December 18-24:  Between my daughter's sleepover and a scheduled group date night, I missed swim all week.  I never made it to cycling on the trainer, and I only ran twice.  One was a fun one on the track with a friend.  I was honestly busy getting ready for Christmas, and in the kitchen most of the time (so I wouldn't be on Christmas day).

December 25-31:  Double or Nothing week...kind of!
  • Sunday- Nope, sorry, nothing on Christmas.  I loved every minute of the day with my family!
  • Monday- Run in morning; Swim at night.  I just did my own swim workout.
  • Tuesday- Rest (aka "nothing").  I meant to ride on the trainer, but never got to it.
  • Wednesday- 45 mile ride with Pat.  My first time to Humphrey Station, and my longest ride to date!  Swim practice that night; the coach worked with me on my stroke and kick.  By the end I was feeling very confident and he said I "had it down"!
  • Thursday- 8 mile run with Pat.  Wholly Guacamole!  I was thinking a nice, comfortable pace, but no!  We did all 8 miles under 8 miles; our last mile was even 7:20!  I had a reminder that training does and will again hurt!  But it was so great and felt like such an accomplishment!
  • Friday- Rest.
  • Saturday- 3.5 mile run in Chico around my parents' house.

When this week is done I will have to confess some more.  I missed both swim nights this week, but only one was my fault.  The coach was a no-show on Monday.  :/  I have been able to get a run and a ride in so far; today was suppossed to be a ride day again...see the first paragraph for that excuse.  Ok, I guess you just got the confession!

Tomorrow will be a 10 mile run with Pat.  I am really looking forward to it, and a little nervous, too.  I haven't run that distance since training for a marathon in November, 2010. 

The reason why I haven't run much distance in over a year?  Let's see if I get the saying right: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  I have had pain in my right foot since the fall of 2009, and it gets worse with more frequent use and higher mileage.  I have gone to two different Orthopedic doctors, twice had it x-rayed, and even had blood tests (to rule out arthritis and gout).  All came back negative, and they don't know what's wrong without a more thorough scan done.  So, this Monday, I am again headed to a doctor with great hopes that there will be some sort of diagnosis and resolution.  I was given the reference to a friend's Orthopedic doctor, and even heard he is one of the best in the Valley.  Before I was not willing to have an MRI done because of the cost.  I am willing now.

I need my foot to be "normal."  Since it has hurt I have restricted myself to fewer runs.  Instead of getting to go out when I am able, I have a pretty set routine of three times a week.  Any more than that, and my foot hurts even more than normal.  I noticed that I run heavier on my right side; my right knee is the one that aches a bit as well.  It's almost as though I run with my right leg, and the left just follows along.  I have tried to reteach myself how to run with both legs, leading with my left leg as much as possible.  I know, that sounds wierd!

So, here's hoping for a great end of another week.  311 days to IMAZ!