Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Can't Count

Am I the only one who loses track of laps in the pool?  For the first few laps I am good, but once we get above 200 yards (that would be 2 laps or 4 lengths) I really start getting confused.   I go back and forth again and think, now what was that? 4 laps?

I know, pathetic.

You would think someone who went to college for 4 years and in graduate school for 2 years (in science) would be able to count higher than 2, but somehow on the way to lap 3 I lose my place.  I have struggled with this since I first stepped into a pool.  I obviously ate paint chips as a kid or something.

I get easily distracted and can be hard to keep up with, I know that.  Like Dory on Finding Nemo, if I see something shiny my mind goes off in that direction.  That movie rocks by the way, I just wasted half an hour looking for my favorite clip that is entirely relevant to what I am talking about to put on here, but I couldn't find it.  Instead I will give you a completely irrelevant picture of Dory popping bubbles.
What was I talking about?   Oh yeah, counting laps in the pool.

So I got this cool gadget, the SportCount LapCounter:
That is not my hand, my camera's battery is dead.
I didn't want a lot of bells and whistles, and I didn't want to get a PHD to figure out how to make it function.   I just wanted something simple to help me count laps.  I also didn't want to spend a lot of money, and I was shocked at what you can spend on a lap counter.  I picked this up at Amazon for $25.

I love this product.  It fit my finger well and it wasn't a problem or annoying having something while I was swimming.   The counter is lightweight, no larger than a class ring and easy to operate with one hand.  The one hand operation is very easy to do without disrupting swim stroke, and the display is simple, clear, and easy to use.

I plan to use this on the days I am doing track work to keep record laps at the track as well, although I haven't tested it there yet.  It is so light and easy to use I am confident it would work just as well there.

If you want something with more bells and whistles than what I have, check out SportCount's website, they have some other products that are timers and lap counters that records your lap times up to 100 laps along with a whole lot of other information.

Disclaimer -   This was not given to me by SportCount to test, I purchased and tested the SportCount LapCounter on my own. This review is my opinion of the product.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's Working...

Today I thought I might borrow an idea from Anne Marie at AM Goals for the Week.  Every week she looks at what is working and what is not.  I am hoping she doesn't mind me borrowing her idea, because it is what is on my mind right now. 

What's Working:
  • My coach.  She rocks. I know she hasn't even begun to kick my butt yet, and I know I will be swearing at her at times (you want me to do WHAT?? HOW FAR?? What is this HARD HARD HARD crap? ha ha) All joking aside, getting a coach was probably one of the best decisions I have made - my workouts are for a purpose with ideas in mind heading into each workout, and I get feedback on my key workouts.  
  • Testing. This is still online with the coach, but the HR test I did on my bike on Monday went well (I wouldn't go so far as to say it was FUN, but it is DONE), and now I have my HR zones for the bike.  I have not ever worked with HR zones, and it is really going to help me know what intensity I am suppose to be at in a given workout.  I do a swim test this weekend (to figure out my per/100yd pace to work from.  This should be good and embarrassing, ha ha.), and then my run HR test, which I am really looking forward to. I love that we are working on a baseline of fitness to build on.
  • Running.  I am finally getting my groove back and it feels good.  This was a tough year for me as far as running goes, between fighting injury and then, well, fighting injury.  But right now I am healthy and feeling strong on the run again.  It is really nice to start getting back to where I was before I was injured.

What Needs Some Work: 
  • My nutrition/diet/all the food I stuff into my face. Need I say more?    
  • Well, yes, now that you mention it...actually I do need to say more.    It is hard as hell to live with someone who doesn't have any interest in eating healthy.  I would love to just have healthy stuff in the house, except that I go and buy healthy stuff and someone feels the need to supplement that with goodies like chips and salsa.  Add to this that really there is not many people in my life who really eat healthy, and it is just hard to eat clean.  I am trying, really I am.  I am writing down all that I eat.  I am knitting while watching TV instead of feeding my face. 
    I know, it all comes down to self-control (of which, I have almost none).  I am working on it.  
  • Getting up early.  5am was my workout time all summer.  Sometimes I would go even earlier.  The darkness and cold are making me dive under the covers.  It isn't a big issue right now, because I am getting my workouts in, but will be an issue later.  I am going to work on that as well.
  • This is one I have no control over, but it is something that isn't working for me.  My grandfather is sick.  It isn't working for me at all.  He had an operation this week, and things went OK, but he really is pretty sick and has a few problems going on that I hope are fixable, but we don't know.  He is home now and doing better, but it was the first time I have ever seen this rock solid man start to crumble.  
  • To learn more about him, click HERE.  But to get an idea about who he is without clicking that link - he put up 4-5 cords of wood (for next winter) the week before his operation.  He is 90 years old.  We had planned on doing it while he was getting better, but he had other ideas.
Anyone have anything that is working especially well for them this week?  Anything you really want to work on?  I would love to hear about it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Muttley Monday & My Day Made

Bailey Likes...
Doesn't he look cute with a dirty nose?
...burying bones.  I always think it is funny when he comes in the house with a dirty nose after I gave him a marrow bone to "chew and enjoy".  He generally takes it right outside and buries it.  He does it in the winter too, but hides them in the snow instead.  He gets all kinds of surprises come spring when the snow melts, and I am always trying to get the stinking, rotting bone away from him, which he finds very disappointing.


I love when you get surprises at the post office (besides bills) and this morning I got one of the best surprises - a Kona postcard from Bryan from Training Payne.  Thank you so much Bryan, you totally made my day.

Some day I will be in that water on race day...

You rock too Bryan! See you at IMLP, only 271 days away!

Training Today
Well, since I am here writing, I might as well mention what my training plans are for today.

It is going to hurt.

Today my coach has a bike test (for HR, and other stuff) planned for me that I was supposed to do this AM but somehow didn't hear my alarm and got up a little late to get that workout in.  Stupid dark until 7am is messing me up, I almost never miss the alarm.  I was looking forward to getting this on the books early, but alas, it will have to be after work.  I am looking forward to the workout, I really want to have a baseline to work from and actually be able to see my improvements in both HR and fitness levels.  But I think the fluffy bunny cave will be a little hellish today.  The direct quote from Ange "This is hard. Be prepared to work hard."  SO the test will happen tonight after work and I will let ya know how it goes. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekend Update

Only 272 days until Ironman Lake Placid!! I carved a pumpkin to celebrate...

Sorry it is a little blurry, but I had to shut the flash off to make it work...
Pain Cave?
I hate to call it a pain cave...It sounds so...scary!!...SO this is my cave of fluffy bunnies, although I am hoping for a few more outdoor rides before I am stuck inside. 
Cave of fluffy bunnies...
It is tough for me to bike outside in the am right now, first of all, it isn't really light until 7am, when I have to leave for work, so I have been spending some time on the trainer.  Besides it being dark, the past week or so there has been 1/4 inch of frost on my truck window when I went outside to check the temperature.  SO if I can get out in the afternoon for a good ride, that will be awesome.


YES!! I finally went swimming.

So I decided to go to the University of Maine at Farmington pool for my swim workouts this year.  It is the same distance away (75 minutes) as the pool at the Y in Waterville, but with better hours (um, the pool is open to lap swimming 6am-9pm M-F; 8am-9pm Sat/Sun.  I had to create a detailed matrix to figure when I could hit the window that the pool was open for lap swims at the Y, and sometimes I still got it wrong).  Plus, it is better pricing (as an alumni I get a GREAT deal), a better gym, and less crowds...  
9am Saturday morning after my swim...I love college kids who party on Friday nights.
I went yesterday and swam 1350 yards.  I was dreading getting there at 8am because I was sure that the place would be packed and I would be sharing a lane with 4 people or something.  That is how it works at any pool I have been to that late on a weekend. 

I forgot that this was a college pool and that UMF doesn't have a swim team, and that 8am Saturday morning is pretty early for most college kids.  I was the first one there, and I had the pool 100% to myself for the entire swim.  That was pretty awesome, just me and a bored life guard playing with her iPod and glancing up once in a while. It stayed quiet my entire swim, as I was coming out of the water, two ladies came in to start their swim.  Now, that is my kind of pool.

You Need a Ride?
I always find it funny when well-intentioned people think I am not out running by choice.   

I ran after work on Friday.  You could feel and smell the dampness of the coming rain in the air as I started my 40 minute run.  It started sprinkling a bit at first, and then turned into an all out down pour.  I must stop here to say that I love running in the rain, it is one of my favorite things to do.  I see rain, I want to go running. It is kind of weird I guess, but that is just me. 

So the harder it was raining, the better I was feeling.  It is so nice to have good solid runs again.  I run on dirt roads as much as I can, so I was getting all muddy and dirty, which is another thing I really like.  So I was having fun out there.  One of my neighbors drives by me, and I see him put on the breaks.  He sticks his head out the window and shouts,
 "You need a ride?"

I smiled and told him no thanks. 

"You sure?  It is raining, and it is really kind of raw out!" 

"Yeah, I noticed. Ha. Thanks, I am good, honest." 

He shrugged and drove off.  It was really nice of him to check on me, and I am sure he went home shaking his head and told his wife he saw that crazy girl from down in town who swam past their house all summer (they live on Pleasant Pond) who is always out running (or biking).

This week
Bike - 50 miles
Run - 14 miles
Swam - 1350 yards
Time - 6hr 20 minutes

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Morning Run

Stupid alarm.  4:30 already?  Ugh.  It is dark outside. And cold.

It is so warm under those covers, and I really want to just stay right there.  

OK. I rip myself out of bed, put on my glasses.  Bailey wastes no time and takes my place, he puts his big hairy butt right on my pillow, the jerk.  John pets him and tells him he is a good boy as Bailey's tail goes thump thump thump on the bed.  I am sure they are both back asleep before I am out the bedroom door.

I wander downstairs, fumble around for the light switch.  Force my contacts into my eyes, brush my teeth, and note the thick frost on the trucks outside.  I also note the temperature is about almost 20 degrees. Isn't it October?

I remind myself that 20 degrees is going to be T-shirt weather come Feburary, and will myself to continue moving forward.

Since I slept in my running clothes for that day (What? Doesn't everyone?), I just had to pull on some socks, tie up my running shoes, and grab a warm hat.  Mentally, I am just not into this right now, I am kind of more into getting back into bed and sleeping another hour.

"Come on Mandy," I tell myself as I feel my resolve start to dwindle, "it is only 4 miles, you always have 4 more miles in you, no matter what."  I force myself out the door, about 10 minutes from wake up to running.  Some would say that is quick, (what no breakfast? Coffee? Tea?) but for a shorter run less than 6 miles, that is pretty much how I roll (Hi Ange! I don't eat before my super early morning runs!)

As soon as I start running, I am thrilled to be out there.  My breath comes out in little white puffs as I run through town, past all of the dark houses, people still in their warm covers.  Early runs in the winter mean I am running the Main Street Treadmill.  Not overly exciting, but it gets the job done without me getting hit by a log truck, which is always nice. 

The time and miles pass quickly - when you are running back and forth under the lights of a town with 60 people in it, it is pretty easy to let your mind go blank.  Sometimes I get to see a moose, but not this morning, which is OK, because I am pretty content just to be moving in the cool morning. 

As I finish my third lap by the houses in town, a few lights turn on.  People are just getting up, rubbing their eyes, turning on their coffee machines.  The fact that I put 4 miles in before they even got out of bed makes me smile.

Only 275 days until Ironman Lake Placid!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last Week in Review, a day late...

Only 278 days until Ironman Lake Placid!!!

I am skipping Muttley Monday this week - Bailey will be back soon, I promise.

Thank you all for supporting my niece Maria in the Making Strides walk, it means a lot to have fellow bloggers mention the walk on their blogs and make donations - you guys are awesome!  She raised over $5000 in her mothers honor (holy crap, that is a ton of money for a 15 year old to raise, right?), her and her brother Kevin's soccer teams both came along to support them (her other two brothers are away at college), which I thought was really cool.   There were some great team shirts out there, I thought this one was pretty good:

Three of our friends drove south from Caratunk to walk with us, that meant so much - thank you SO MUCH Beth, Chris, and Cindy, you guys are the best!  There was a ton of positive energy in the sea of pink that took over downtown Portland, and Becky's Team had really big showing (I didn't count, but I am sure there was nearly 50 of us, not counting the soccer teams) and raised over $8000 for breast cancer research. 

Truth be told, I actually am not a lover of pink, but on this day it is a good color.
I am in the middle, with my buddies Beth and Cindy
Beth, Cindy and I looking out at Portland Harbor during the walk.
Training Stuff...

I was able to get outside on my bike for one ride, which was SWEET!! I thought that this is great, fall riding rocks!! Just a little chilly and windy but hey, this works, I thought, gee I can't wait until my next ride. 

Then today it snowed.

Yup, there was snow today.  Granted, it was really just snow squalls that didn't amount to much, but the first snow is always a sign to me to dust off that trainer, change that rear tire to a crappy one, and get ready for the winter.

Total training time: 4:50 (31 miles biking, 5 miles running, 1 hour of strength training
Congrats to my buddy Steve (check out his new blog!)- on an awesome 3:32 marathon time at Mount Desert Island Marathon this weekend!  Steve is the one responsible for getting me into endurance sports, someday I hope to be fast like him!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday Randomness

Back in the Saddle
I have gone for a couple of rides this week, my first time back on the bike after a 3 week lay-off.   It was 100% worth it to recharge my batteries and focus on the year ahead, I think I needed that month of non-structured training.  I love riding in the fall, the air is so crisp and clear.  The downside is that it is freezing in the morning now (29 degrees this morning, I had to defrost my truck) so I am trying to get my rides in later if I can.  The sad thing is, it isn't going to be too long before I am on the trainer.

Getting my running legs back...
I haven't been feeling that great on the run for a long time.  I feel very clunky and just not right.  I remember when running was my thing, I felt fluid and strong.  I want that back.  I think that the injury really messed me up mentally as much as anything else.  I will find my zone again, I know it.

I plan on posting my weekly workouts again...
Um, yeah, now that I am working out again. 

I eat a lot..
Seriously, for a girl my size, I eat more than you would think. I actually weigh more than you would think too.  Nope, not going to tell you that number!! So I have started tracking my diet by writing everything down I eat in a notebook. I want to lose 10 lbs, I figure it is free speed to head into next season with.

I love this photo of my man and I...
Our friend Scot took this picture of John and I at Grand Falls this past weekend, I think it is cool.
Grand Falls, Dead River, Maine

Just a little shameless promotion of Maria... 
My niece Maria is a sophomore in high school, an athlete, and the youngest with three older brothers.  She is a pretty freaking awesome young woman.  I may be a little biased, but seriously, you would love her. 

Her mother (my sister-in-law) Becky, fought breast cancer for many years.  Unfortunately we lost Becky a year and a half ago, and we all miss her greatly.  Becky participated in the Making Strides walk every year of her fight, and it was a very important event for her.  We have kept the team going in her honor, and Maria was one of the key people behind keeping the tradition going.

Bobby, Maria, Becky, Ian, Kevin, & Jason
Maria has raised a whopping $4045 for the Making Strides walk this weekend, that is really impressive I think.  I am beyond proud of her.  I would love to see her make the top fundraiser (she might just do it), so if you want to check out her fundrasing page it is here.   Another way you can help is to mention this on your blogs or tweet about it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Muttley Monday - AWW Throwback

When Bailey was a little guy he and I worked together as Allagash Rangers, patrolling the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW).  We worked 10 days on and getting 5 days off, living alone in a remote cabin (2hrs from pavement, and further than that to a store).  Driving home to Caratunk was like a drive into a big city.

I did this for 2 summers, I only had Bailey for the second summer.  I often miss the solitude I had on the waterway, it was a really great time in my life, and it is what lead me to getting Bailey in the first place. 

This Muttley Monday is a bit of a throwback to those times.
Bailey checking out a moose

Waiting for permission to leave the canoe, Umsaskis Lake, AWW, Maine
Long Lake Dam, AWW, Maine

Our cabin on Umsaskis

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dead River Canoe - Day Trip

Yesterday was an awesome day.  A few of my friends and I canoed a short section of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (which is on my bucket list) from Long Falls Dam to Spencer Stream, about 6-7 miles and then attended the grand opening of the newest hut in the Maine Huts and Trails trail system, the Grand Falls Hut.

I love being on the river, any river.  I grew up on the Kennebec River, so that river is closest to my heart, but I could sit and watch a river flow for hours and be content, more so if I am at a rapid or waterfall.  I find it ironic that the only place I am able to be still and "relax" as most other people do is if I am by moving water. So I guess that means my life is defined by movement. 

We had a small group, which was awesome.  We got up and headed to the Long Falls Dam put-in.  It is about an hour and a half drive through Highland Plantation, one of the prettiest areas of Maine (I think their population is lower than Caratunk's). 

Shameless advertising of my man's company on the shuttle vehicle...

Long Falls Dam, I am bad at following direction.
We tooled around Long Falls Dam for a while, and decided that we are definitely doing a multi-day trip here next fall.  The town of Flagstaff used to exist where the lake is now.  When the dam was built in 1948 the town was dis-incorporated and the people were all forced to move.  The same thing happened around here to part of the town of Pleasant Ridge when the Wyman Dam was put in.  Anyway, when the water is low you can see the old foundations, cellar holes, and roads under water.

That is kind of creepy.

Anyway, back to that canoe trip.  I wore my sexy rubber boots.
Sexy boots, right?

The crew...why is my mouth ALWAYS open?

The put-in below the dam.
So I wanted to take all kinds of pictures of the canoe from the dam to the falls, but first, I was kind of busy paddling, but second, there was this headwind from hell that was blowing upstream and creating pretty good whitecaps.  So, I didn't get any pictures besides this one.  But trust me, it was a really pretty paddle, and my arms are tired today.
As we neared Grand Falls, we stopped and checked out the water above the falls to see if we could do the lower water portage.  At high water, you don't really want to take a chance, but at lower water, there is a fun little rapid above the falls and a nice beach type area that you can take out a few hundred yards above the falls.  Just don't miss that eddy.
John and I in the rapids above Grand Falls

Grand Falls
We got the portage done, it was about a half mile or so to get around the falls, and then we put in and paddled back upstream to get a better look at the falls. 

We took the boats out and loaded them into the truck.  We talked about the shuttle back to get the truck at put-in and then walked along the river on a Maine Huts and Trails trail.  It was gorgeous, an awesome walk.  In about a mile we got to the hut itself.

Grand Falls Hut
It was really neat being at the grand opening of a new hut (this is the third of six to be built, all connected by a trail system).  I hope to do some cross country skiing on the trails that the Huts maintain, they have a pretty good network of trails not too far from my house.

We headed out and John and our buddy Scot (yes, 1 t) took care of the shuttle after dropping us off at home.  I am looking forward to the full trip next year!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Little Push

I have also gone years of racing without really pushing myself until I see the finish line.  I have never really followed a training program beyond well, I am going to run three times, swim three times, and bike four times this week; one short and fast, one kind of tempoish, and the other long in each workout.  Then I do all of those workouts at my nice easy pace and wonder why when it comes race time, I have just one pace.

Duh.  You race how you train.

I finish my races and have fun - which are the primary goals of course - but I do not push myself really.  The truth is, I can be kind of a dud with training, just going through the motions, especially when I am alone in my training, no training partner to push me, no one to call me out on a lame workout. 

In general, when I train, I stay comfortable in my pace most of the time.  When I hit a motivation low and admit it to my friends, they usually encourage me to skip the workout, take a break and go to 2 for 1 Pizza Night or Burger and a Beer Night at the Marshall and get smashed.  As fun as this is (and as much as I love pizza & burgers), it would lead to me missing the workout the next day (and not losing that 10lbs)...which leads to...well, you all know how the nasty workout-skipping spiral goes.   

Now, all this encouragement by my friends to skip a day or two of training is all very well intentioned.  My friends think it is really cool and all that I am training for an Ironman, but they sure don't have any interest in doing it (most of them would rather lick a cheese grater than spend 3-7 hours on a bike) or even really know all that much about triathlon.  

A few of them wish I would just "get over this" and "get back to normal" again.  (Hint, this is normal for me, I don't see myself getting over it.)  A lot of them are still confused about what order things happen in triathlon ("is it the run first?") and wonder how the IMLP distance compares to "that race in Hawaii."

So lets just say that when my motivation is low, I need to find the will to go within myself.  So do you.  I think that many lucky triathletes are helped along with this by having people they train or meet with for long rides and runs.  They have that little extra push that helps them get out there - and I am insanely jealous of you all.

Not really kidding.

Often when you are low on motivation that is really the time you need to get out there.  That is when the mental training kicks in, running even though the thermometer reads -10 (or less) and you really don't even want to look outside, getting up early for a workout even if it is really warm and cozy in those covers, going one more mile on that blasted trainer, making the long drive to the pool at a ridiculous hour.  All that stuff is money in the bank toward your mental toughness.

In the end when you toe up to the start line for your A race, no one else is really going to care that it was -10 in January so you bagged that run, or that it rained that day in May when you were going to ride 100 miles, or that it was kind of cold in May so you just couldn't bring yourself to get into the water at Pleasant Pond.  Only you really.  Missing that stuff is what eats away at your mental toughness, chips away at your confidence.  That is the reason to get out there and push through those tougher times, so when you toe up to the line, you have little doubt are ready to roll.

All of this has lead up to my decision to enlist a little help on my Ironman journey - I now have a coach!  Actually, I decided this about a month or so ago, but I am just getting around to talking about it here.
I am working with Angela at TriMoxie Coaching - her and her business partner Mary are rock stars who are both experienced competitive triathletes and moms who understand the challenges involved with juggling life and training.  I am really excited about this, I know Ange will help push me to work harder than I would alone, and I also am pretty sure she will call me out if I am being a dud.  Seriously, you guys rock, and I am looking forward to working with you the next 289 days until Ironman Lake Placid, it is going to be a fun ride! 

Best of luck this weekend to all Kona athletes, you all inspire me!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Muttley Monday: Working Dog

292 days until Ironman Lake Placid!

Welcome to the second installment of Muttley Mondays, where I post a few pictures of my buddy Bailey.  This week he was busy at work, working on getting a part of the operators lunches and snacks.  He even kicked a guy out of his machine to show him how to make his ditches a little more narrow.

Showing the excavator operator how it is done.

Confiscating dougnuts
I have learned that it is tough to write a triathlon blog when you are not doing much training.  Well, tough for me anyway.  Plus, work has been really busy so I haven't had a lot of time to post or read your blogs - I am going to get on that, promise!
H2O Audio - Beat The Boredom