Exceed Your Limits!

One Step and One Day at a Time!

Monday, June 20, 2011

What I learned on my blog vacation!

It has once again been some time since I wrote here.  It has all been for fantastic reasons.  I have so many things I want to post and have been collecting a whole laundry list of items/ideas/information/resources that, frankly, I just don't know where to start.  I think I will start with just a recap of all I have learned the past 11 or so days.

Training with a friend (or even a stranger) is far superior to winging it by yourself.  I was fortunate enough to be included on an invite to swim with a group of awesome ladies at our local lake.  I had just gotten my new wetsuit and wanted desperately to get in the water but, for obvious safety reasons, didn't want to go by myself.  I jumped at the chance to swim with a group of experienced triathletes when that chance arrived at my inbox.  It was a fantastic experience.  We didn't swim far, but I got in the water, built confidence, and learned I could tolerate the cold (the water was somewhere around 59 degrees).  In addition to that, I met some wonderful people, gained some training partners, AND found myself registered as a two person relay team for an early race!

Then, this past Sunday, I set out for my brick workout by myself.  For those that don't know, a brick workout ties two sports together in sequence, the bike and run, and it lovingly termed the brick for that oh so lovely feeling in your quads as you switch from the bike to the run and the body fights to transfer blood out of the quads to the hamstrings and other valuable run muscles.  So as I set off for my 14 mile bike and then run I was actually dreading it.  Separately, they are fine - well, I LOVE the bike and tolerate the run (have I mentioned I am not a runner?  HA!), but transitioning is dreadful until your legs adjust.  About three minutes into my bike, I was entering an intersection and turned around to see a bike behind me.  Quickly I moved right thinking "where did they come from and did I just swerve into their path?"  As I was about to offer an apology I was met with a "Hi!"  I looked to see a rider wearing the same jersey as I was wearing, our team uniform!  She was out for her long ride and, long story short, we rode 7 miles together before my turnaround.  It was great, I shaved 4 minutes off my split time and got some great advice from a seasoned triathlete.  She had quite a story and long list of impressive accomplishments.  I was so thankful for her company and she left me with a lot of great things to think about on the remainder of my ride and my run.  It was by far my best brick workout.  One of the fringe benefits to wearing the uniform (and, for me, my ONLY long sleeved bike jersey) for a workout!

Even though swimming is easy on the joints and they say you can do it every day, three swim workouts in a row can throw my body way off.  On my plan, my typical swim days are Monday and Wed, with an occasional additional day, but not in sequence, thrown in.  So, last week I did my Monday workout (1300m in the pool) and then got the great chance to swim in the lake (see above!).  So, out I went on Tuesday night to swim.  We are not exactly sure of the distance, we *maybe* swam a 1/4 mile, so 400m?  It wasn't a distance type of workout, but rather acclimation.  Wednesdays are my coached workouts, which through last week were only swim workouts.  So, Wednesday night I headed to my coached swim which was a rough week.  I lost count at 1200m as to the distance and was getting my behind kicked in the workout.  Our final set were sprints against our lane partners.  I had been experiencing some minor cramping in my right foot, but that had subsided and although I was tired, I joked with my lane partner that he had better watch it because with fins my kick alone would power me through (we had put on fins as a means to mix it up for the sprints and focus on our arm strokes in a sprint situation).  So as the coach sent us off, I did a strong push of the wall and WHAM! - massive cramp in my left calf.  I kept swimming only to be in excruciating pain, and humbled by being beat by a full body length, at the wall.  And, in the true spirit of not wanting to look like a total idiot, I set up for the next sprint and did the same thing - the cramp just kept getting worse and worse.  By the time I finished the second sprint I was in tears and afraid I wouldn't even make it out of the pool without help.  With some stretching, however, I sheepishly swam 100m of breaststroke to move the muscles a bit to help with lactic acid buildup and got out.  Thankfully that was the end of our hour workout.  After a little nutrition and electrolyte lecture from my coach, along with the realization that perhaps three swim workouts in a row might not be the best idea, I literally limped home.  I also had the joy of waking up the next morning with a lot of soreness in my whole body. 

I need a little help and supplementation for adequate nutrition.  I hate sports drinks.  I hate the perception that in order to perform well you have to buy these expensive engineered products to guzzle, gulp, mix, and pop in your mouth to complete a workout or race.  I just don't didn't believe in the whole sports nutrition industry.  That was until my massive cramp episode and further research.  I still, frankly, believe that in most cases, for recreational athletes, most of the stuff on the market is crap unnecessary.  [but, read my disclaimer!  LOL]  I am leery of products until I learn more about their content and how much sugar/fructose is jammed into the drink/powder/gel/chew/pill.  But, for me, the bottom line is I don't think I can eat enough to provide some of the needs my body has.  First, I am still breastfeeding my huge baby boy.  I sometimes work long and crazy days, which can cause me to skip snacks and, on the very rare occasion, lunch.  I have also significantly increased my activity level over the past few months and built lean muscle mass that has higher demands for energy.  I also have a history of low sodium levels and have increased, dramatically, the amount of water I drink (for example, on a light workout day, I still consume 120-140 oz of water a day!)  So, nutrition right now is a crap shoot for me.  The cramping and other issues I have had (cravings, unusual fatigue, headaches) have led me to believe my nutrition needs to be re-balanced (and, no, I am not expecting a 4th baby!).  I am working on it through research and trial and error with some nutrition products designed for consumption during workouts.  I was recently provided with some samples of gels, chews, drinks and the like.  I tried them these last two weekends on my longer workouts with decent results, but not anything I can say is proof they work (although if you can get past the "snot like" consistency and fructose, Powerbar's chocolate gel is YUMMY!).  I am still hoping to learn some tricks that will allow me to provide the missing elements with whole foods, but that will take some time to "test drive."

There will always be Negative Nellies, critics, and those that, well, just would love to see you fail.  No matter what I do I have to realize there will be people in my life, whether I want them there or not, who will not have well wishes for me or my success.  It is a fact of life, one I cannot change.  It is not an indicator of a fault of mine, nor is it an indicator of their faults.  It JUST IS.  I need to remember to employ the patience and tolerance I try to instill in others around me when I hear them talk ill of others.  I always try to look at it from the other person's position, be in the other person's shoes.  In the case of those that are negative about my pursuits, goals, passions, or general lifestyle, I need to do the same thing and realize that they are never going to understand or be able to stand in my shoes and "get" my life.  While it appears they don't want to even attempt to just "leave it alone" because it would take away what appears to be a source of entertainment/amusement/gratification they get from remaining negative or judging me, I need to be the bigger person and just ignore it.  It is an energy suck.  They haven't been in my shoes, nor I in theirs, and they have no idea of the full suite of elements of my life, nor I of theirs.  The result is two-fold:  give them a break because they are not fully informed, and don't take it as true (the opinions or criticisms they put forth) because, well, they are not fully informed.  Basically, give them a break and give myself a break and just block it out - it is unnecessary noise.

Focusing some thought energy on those I admire is priceless.  I have been thinking a lot about people I admire.  For a variety of reasons, one of which is blog related, but mostly because I have been hearing about so many great things going on in my friends' lives.  Two families I know recently finalized their Forever Families after a long and uncertain time.  One friend has been committed to becoming more active in their lifestyle with things that interest them and their family and has successfully lost a whole bunch of weight, inches, and sizes!  Another friend trained for and ran a Warrior Dash and just appeared to have the greatest experience!  Another friend has lost 114lbs in less than one year and accomplished amazing fitness goals!  The list just goes on and on.  Thinking of my friends successes, their patience, their endurance, the unending perseverance has been priceless for my spirit and my strength!

I really would LOVE for people to share their ideas on topics I write about on this blog.  I know I can learn from those that read this blog, and I KNOW many of you are people I admire so I invite you to join in, even if you disagree with me.  It is all about learning for me, broadening my horizons, and hopefully providing at least one thing for someone to think about, ponder, or try!

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