Thursday, December 30, 2010

Also, ice is slippery

Wednesday: Bike 32 miles
Thursday: Rest

The rest of my family is off ice skating today. It kind of sounds like fun, but today is supposed to be a rest day, and since I'm not a very good skater, it also seems like it would be too much of an injury risk. Guess that means I am Taking This Ironman Seriously. And why not? When a thing takes this much time and this much work, you don't want to do it halfway.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Swimming goal

Sunday: Bike 20 miles, run 4 miles
Monday: Swim 3,300 yards, bike 16 miles
Tuesday: Run 5 miles, swim 1,800 yards

My 2010 mileage/yardage goals sort of became obsolete when I decided to do a June Ironman and started a formal training program. But it's still a big yay for me that today's swim pushed me over my goal for 2010 of 150,000 yards. (150,600! YAY FOR ME!) So far I'm 350 miles over my biking goal for the year, but I'm not going to make my running goal of 600 miles unless I can run 83 miles in the next three days. Still, 500 miles of running plus everything else adds up to a pretty good year.

Lately my kneecaps seem to be in collusion against me. One day the left one will hurt, the next day the right one will hurt. It doesn't feel serious, but the joints are popping a lot, and today the right one has a tiny sharp pain when I walk (but not when I run). I keep reminding myself that when it comes right down to it, there are only two steps to finishing the Ironman:
  1. Do all the training.
  2. Don't get injured.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas busy today

Friday: Swim 2,500 yards
Saturday: Merry Rest Day!

'Twas the day before Christmas
And all through the gym,
Every treadmill was humming,
The pool filled to the brim.

The ellipticals hummed;
Even the rower was rowing.
The tough guys did free weights
Their muscles e'er growing!

This evening's family time;
Santa's sleigh's coming soon.
But the morning's for workouts.
Joint closes at noon.

Sorry to be so irreverent on Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas, God bless you, and don't forget to open your Gift!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bargain hunting

Wednesday: Bike 38 miles
Thursday: Run 6 miles, bike 11 miles

So I was talking to one of the fitness instructors at the gym about how expensive triathlon gear is, and she mentioned that she had bought two cycling jerseys for less than 5 bucks each at Goodwill-type stores. It makes sense. They can't take the time to agonize over what each donation is worth. It could be someone's old Little League T-shirt or a $150 cycling jersey—it all gets priced at $3.99. So I went to check the Montana Rescue Mission store, and lo and behold, THEY HAD ONE! It's a nice-looking blue thing with the front zipper and the pocket in the small of the back. It also has two long elastic loops in the pocket for some unknown purpose. (I've never owned a cycling jersey, so I have no idea what. Actually, I'm not 100 percent sure it is a cycling jersey. But it looks great, and it's a useful layer for whatever.)

Encouraged by my big score, I decided to start watching eBay like a hawk to see if I could find a used version of the $200 saddle I want. I found one of those, too, and put in a bid, which currently stands at 99 cents. I think it's too much to hope that that will pan out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Viewing the eclipse

Sunday: Bike 15 miles, yoga
Monday: Swim 3,100 yards, run 4.5 miles
Tuesday: Rest

I'm happy to have made it to a rest day: My hamstrings are sore and my to-do list is long.

We stayed up late last night to watch the lunar eclipse, having promised the kids that we would wake them up to see it, too. When I went in to wake Dexter, I realized that lying on his back, he could actually see it from his bed, so he wisely decided to stay under the covers. Michael was not so lucky. The moon was almost straight overhead, and there didn't seem to be another window in the house with a good vantage point. But we bundled him up and took him outside so he could take a look. I don't think he thought it was worth the trouble: It was 1 a.m. and 3 degrees.

I think if I work really hard the next three days, I can be done with everything and have nothing to do between Christmas and New Year's but work out and visit family. Wish I could take a training hiatus, too. You know what would be an ideal occasion for taking another bonus rest day? Why, Christmas Day!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The hardest part of my workout

Friday: Yoga, swim 2,350 yards
Saturday: Bike 17 miles, run 3.5 miles

This was one of those stereotypical days when I really didn't want to work out, but afterward I felt great. You'd think I'd learn to anticipate the feeling-great part and show a little more motivation on the front end, but it never seems to work that way.

I think one big reason is that a bike-run workout requires just a ridiculous amount of preparation before I even push Start on the timer. Here's what I have to do:
  • Copy the workouts down on a little card to take with me.
  • Pack up my gym bag with my keys, phone, and the clothes I want to wear for the day and set it by the door.
  • Get running clothes out and set them by the bike.
  • Find and put on my heart rate monitor.
  • Get dressed for the bike ride.
  • Get food and water for the bike ride.
  • Put on shoes, sweat band, and headphones; turn on the fan; and make sure everything I need is within arm's reach.
I'm actually getting better at the whole drill, but for a disorganized person like me, any one of those steps can take a disastrous turn (like finding my keys, say, or enough dry laundry) and the items I need are usually on three different levels of the house. The whole thing usually takes 20 minutes, plus at least 20 more just to psych myself up to get started.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Onboard entertainment

Wednesday: Bike 33 miles, run 3 miles
Thursday: Run 6½ miles, bike 12 miles

Just for convenience, I keep my iPod (loaded with seven U2 albums and essentially nothing else) in my gym bag to use while running and my other media-player thing (loaded with audiobooks) downstairs by my bike. Because I was going to be on the treadmill for a while today, I considered bringing the audiobook player instead, but the thought was repellent. I realized I would so much rather zone out to music than try to focus on a book.

Then I thought, could this be part of why I hate my trainer rides so much? The stupid audiobooks? Having to focus? Trying to be so clever—like training for an Ironman isn't enough, I have to improve my mind as well?

So today I tried music on the bike. It was actually a lot better. But whether it's enough for, say, a three-hour trainer ride, I don't know. I think it would help if I just stopped trying to be so literary with my reading choices. I mean, I just finished Wuthering Heights, and next up was going to be Anna Karenina. Does anyone have suggestions for audiobooks that are brain candy but not so vacuous that they actually hurt?

(If you're wondering how I can listen to nothing but U2 for hours on end—well, I just can. And if there's a song I like that fits the rhythm of my legs, I might listen to it 47 times in a row.)

P.S. This is the end of Week 12; I'm officially a third of the way through the 36-week training plan. Wa-hoooo!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sleepy-time bike ride

Monday: Swim 3,050 yards, bike 17 miles
Tuesday: Rest

I would just like to say that I really need to finish the Ironman in 15 hours or less, because if it keeps me up after 10 p.m. it's going to be seriously past my bedtime, and I'm not going to enjoy myself at all.

Note to self: Never again postpone your trainer workout until 9 p.m.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tempting fate

Friday: Swim 2,600 yards, yoga
Saturday: Bike 21 miles, run 3.5 miles
Sunday: Run 4 miles, yoga

I'm a little afraid to write this, because last time I got mushy about running, life responded by giving me an injury that prevented me from doing any for several weeks.

But. It's so new and exciting to like running so much that I have to take a moment and expound.

Tonight's workout included three intervals of 12 minutes at an aerobic pace (which for me is a heart rate of 142). So not super hard, but not jogging either. Each one was just over a mile (never mind that the workout plan assumed they'd be a mile and a half.) Those darn things felt so good that I was almost disappointed when it was time to jog easy in between. I felt like I was flying along, almost effortlessly. I had headphones on, but I didn't need any other entertainment. In fact, I was so much in the zone that I didn't notice my yoga class starting without me.

Oh, also? Friends are starting to say things like, "Look how skinny you are," which is a lie but still a sign of progress.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Wednesday: Bike 16 miles, run 4½ miles, water run 40 minutes
Thursday: Bike 40 miles, run 3½ miles

The past two days have been a challenge, not least because it's almost impossible to find a three-hour block of time in which to do these longer workouts. Today, for example, I got up, wolfed down some breakfast, worked for an hour and a half to meet a deadline, ran downstairs to bike for two and a half hours, zipped over to the gym to run for 45 minutes, and then ran back to my desk again for a different project, which was mercifully late enough in arriving that I was able to squeeze in a shower first. (You're welcome.)

Of course, that moment when you stop moving is when it all comes crashing down. I just about fell asleep at my desk, deadline or no deadline, and my knees got so stiff and painful that I started worrying that I actually hurt myself. Again. (But let's assume not for now.)

I did make it downstairs for the tail end of dinner with the family, but now I'm back at my desk again, because, hey! More work tonight!

I do try not to whine, because all of this is a self-inflicted privilege, but it would be really neat if I could have some days that are not like this, like soon.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This would look good on a T-shirt

Tuesday: Swim 3,000 yards

I had the hilarious idea today that what I am having is not a midlife crisis, but more of a third-life crisis (if you consider that I'm planning to live to 120), so I tinkered with my blog name and bio for your (and my) amusement. Anyway, the whole turning-40 thing is a lot closer to the real reason I'm doing all this.

(Also, let's face it: I exempted my blog from my 25-minute Internet time-wasting limit, so I am milking that for all it's worth. Keep watching this space for the usual 27 rounds of editing it will take until I am fully satisfied with all the new elements on this page.)

The urge to waste time is strong with this one.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Sunday: Yoga
Monday: Rest

I was supposed to swim today, but I got a new big editing project with a deadline that's, um, tomorrow, so I think I'm glued to my desk for the rest of the night. It's fine. I was just talking with Dan the Physical Therapist this morning about the benefits of taking all these extra rest days I've got available to drop into my schedule. He thinks it's a great idea, and so do I, especially on days like this.

Speaking of Dan, just when I was starting to like the guy, he declared me healed from my calf strain and sent me packing, hopefully forever. I'm not so healed that I can jump right back into super-heavy mileage right away, but my calf does feel 100%. I'm just going to follow PT's orders for a few more weeks anyway and use the pool to finish any runs longer than an hour. Won't that be fun for me?

P.S. I did three cartwheels after yoga. Still needs work.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Biting my tongue

Friday: Bike 20 miles, run 4 miles, yoga
Saturday: Bike 16 miles, run 3.5 miles, water run 20 minutes

I've tried three different times to start this blog entry, but guess what? If you can't say anything nice/well-rested/non-whiny, then it's better not to say anything at all.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Could this be the key to everything?

Wednesday: Run 2 miles, water run 50 minutes, bike 11 miles
Thursday: Swim 2,700 yards, bike 11 miles

I'm amazed at how much I've accomplished (and how much I've learned) in the past two days by holding my Internet time-wasting down to 25 minutes. I highly recommend pulling out a stopwatch and trying it yourself.

First, accomplishments:
  • I spent more time with my kids.
  • I got all the Christmas decorations up and went around the house cleaning up after myself.
  • I made a to-do list with seven items and checked them all off.
  • I got caught up with my work (and invoicing).
That last one feels sweet.

And shocking revelations:
  • Having only 25 minutes means I can't even get to about three-quarters of the stuff I was reading/checking daily, let alone dwelling or commenting on any of it. I shudder to think how many hours a day I was wasting before this.
  • I kept having to resist the urge to turn off the stopwatch, because in some part of my mind certain things didn't really "count" against my minutes—as if no time were passing while I stopped to think about my next Scrabble play or a while a page loaded slowly.
  • This is exactly like being on a budget. It was almost funny how I scrimped and saved precious seconds all day so that I'd be able to get caught up on Facebook one last time before bed.
  • Since online Christmas shopping is totally legal, I did a lot of that. (That part was not like being on a budget.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New month's resolutions

So I read The Rejectionist's blog, and she has this theory that New Year's resolutions should get a trial run in December to make sure they're realistic. Or, barring that, they should be even harder than the real New Year's resolutions so that the real ones seem easy.

I love this idea, mostly because imposing ridiculous rules on myself is the only way I can get things done, even with a scary deadline looming over me. (Like, say, an Ironman in 29½ weeks.) And I have to admit that, working and training as much as I have been lately, I sometimes feel like the rest of my life is falling apart around me.

It's not exactly that I don't have time to clean the bathrooms, or finish putting up the Christmas decorations, or go shopping with my husband, or help the kids with their homework, or cook, or sit down and read a book. It's more that because I'm so physically and mentally drained, that I take the path of least resistance and end up staying in front of the computer, wasting what little time I have playing Scrabble on Facebook or reading blogs. (Oops, stumbled into a bit of irony there, but let's press on.)

December Resolutions:
  1. Internet time-wasting of all sorts is hereby limited to 25 minutes per day, enforced by an online timer. I'm going to exempt email checking, since I usually do that in inconvenient-to-time two-second increments, and also blogging, because it's good for me.
  2. By the end of the month, I will have (re-)learned how to do a cartwheel. Because, frankly, one serious resolution is all I can handle right now.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nothing exploded

Tuesday: Run 2 miles, bike 23 miles

I got on the treadmill this morning for a super-slow, super-easy test run. I can't say my calf is back to normal, but nothing fell off, went "twang," or exploded, so I won't complain. I've been instructed to be extremely cautious, so I guess that means I'll start my runs on the treadmill and finish up in the pool. Blah. No hope of getting back outside to run for a while, either. Double blah.

So far this year I have:
  • Run 450.5 miles;
  • Biked 2,050 miles;
  • Swum 126,200 yards; and
  • Lost exactly 1 pound.
What's wrong with this picture? Oh, right. I eat too much. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010


Saturday: Swim 3,200 yards, bike 13 miles
Sunday: Yoga, water run 55 minutes
Monday: Rest

I had another physical therapy appointment this morning and got the go-ahead to try an easy run tomorrow. Huzzah! I have to say all this water running has made for a nice, low-impact week, and I'm feeling pretty good as a result. (On the other hand, I'm pretty sick of the pool.)

I got to thinking that one strategy for getting through the Ironman—just to get to the finish line, mind you—would be to train really hard at biking and walking. That would most likely keep me from getting injured during the training, and if I had a fast enough bike split, there should theoretically be plenty of time to walk the marathon. (That's not what I'm going to do; it was just an interesting thought to comfort me when I couldn't run. But I am still planning on working some really long walks into training…)

So I'm desperately trying to finish up a big work project so I can have my life back. I keep telling myself that when I'm done with X, I will have some free time again, but unfortunately there always seems to be a new X on the horizon.

Friday, November 26, 2010

2,014 miles!

Thursday: Swim 2,200 yards
Friday: Bike 19 miles, water run 40 minutes

Big day today: I hit my biking goal for 2010 of 2,010 miles! In retrospect, I guess the biking goal wasn't as challenging as the running and swimming goals I set for myself, but still, that's a whole lot of miles, and I'm proud of myself. I'm guessing I will actually get to 2,500 or so, with all the training that's still ahead of me this year.

The weather has been so miserably cold that I couldn't continue riding in the garage and still keep all my digits intact, so I brought my bike inside. I'm still staring at a wall the whole time, but I have a nice little setup in the basement with the fan blowing straight at me and all my stuff nearby. I've been listening to books on tape to entertain myself, which would work if I could just start picking some better books. ("Wuthering Heights"? What was I thinking?)

Today after my ride I brought my 12-year-old to the pool with me so he could play around while I did my run, but he ended up mostly just sticking by me keeping me company. It sure made the time go faster. I'm hoping I'll be back to real running by Monday or Tuesday. My calf is feeling pretty much back to normal, but I'm leaving the decision in Dan's hands, and my next PT appointment is Monday morning.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Injury update

Tuesday: Bike 28 miles
Wednesday: Bike 36 miles, water run 40 minutes

I've had three physical therapy appointments in the past two days (I think Dan understands I'm in a real hurry to get healed and get back at it), but unfortunately no more until Monday because of Thanksgiving.

He told me my soleus is strained, and that I should definitely not be running this weekend. It's still a bummer, but in a way it's nice to have someone tell me what I should be doing. The uncertainty was almost the worst part.

P.S. I like the therapy for this better than the therapy for my hip. Then it was all hard work, icing, and foam rollers. Now it's all heat, massage, and ultrasound. I could almost have a nap on the table.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chlorine poisoning

Monday: Swim 3,100 yards, water running 55 minutes

Doggedly continuing on with my "making the best of it" and "doing the smart thing," I decided to jump back into training but just replace the running with low-impact stuff. The result was me spending two straight hours in the pool and my skin shriveling up like a raisin, but I did it. I also made a PT appointment for tomorrow with my man Dan, and bought a new pair of running shoes that hopefully won't try to kill me like their broken-down brethren did.

All of this sounds great, and I can't think of any better way to handle it, but for some reason it does nothing to dispel the cloud of gloom I feel over being injured in the first place. It's like I'm realizing for the first time that I can be broken. Like, crap, if it happened once, it could possibly happen again, at a much worse time and in a much worse way. Or maybe it's just the horribly cold weather bringing me down. Or chlorine poisoning.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trying to be smart

Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Yoga

We are essentially snowed in, and I've spent most of the weekend either asleep or sitting around with my leg elevated (and/or wrapped, and/or iced). At first my calf seemed to do nothing but get worse. The smallest bit of walking or stretching or massage, and it would ache like crazy for several minutes afterward. In fact, it woke up aching this morning after I had slept for something like 11 hours. The aching itself is no big deal, really, but I've been worrying myself sick about what it means for my training.

But here's the good news! I took an Advil several hours ago, and as of this moment my leg feels pretty much normal, so I'm daring to be optimistic about tomorrow. And if it's still in bad shape when I wake up tomorrow, well, then, I'm going straight back to the physical therapist. Either way, I'm also going to replace my running shoes Monday.

This was supposed to be a high-volume week, by the way, followed by a rest week, but I guess I hit my breaking point four days earlier than assumed on the schedule. It still stinks, but I'm just trying to be smart and make the best of it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I had better not be injured

Wednesday: 2,300 yards, bike 9 miles
Thursday: Bike 19 miles, run 3.5 miles
Friday: Yoga, bike 13 miles

So in my last entry I made that innocuous comment about my calf cramping up while running. But was it a cramp? The calf is still really tight and sore, and sometimes achy, and now it has me a little worried. I tried massaging it a lot yesterday but didn't seem to get anywhere, so today I'm trying ice and compression. It doesn't feel sharply painful like there's a tear or a strain or anything. So what the heck is wrong with it?

Tomorrow's workout is supposed to involve a 55-minute run, but unless I wake up in the morning having experienced a healing miracle, I'm going to swap it with Sunday's scheduled rest day. This stinks. I hope I don't have to burn another bonus rest day (or seven) over this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pajama party

Monday: Bike 18 miles, run 3 miles
Tuesday: Run 6 miles, bike 11 miles

You know it's not a good day when you don't even manage to get dressed. Today I got up, started working in my pajamas, and didn't finish until around 5. Then I put on workout clothes, ran and biked for nearly two hours, showered, and got right back in pajamas. Why not? It's pitch black out, and I'm not going anywhere…there's more work to do.

Despite my getting all misty-eyed about running in my last post, my body decided to rebel today. I was holding a pace just over 70% on the heart-rate monitor, and it hurt. I was breathing too hard, my calf cramped up, and even my stomach wasn't happy. Then I switched to a pace just below 70%, and everything was hunky-dory again. So 134 beats per minute = bad. 130 beats per minute = good. Go figure.

Hey, this is the end of Week 8!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why does running feel so good?

Saturday: Run 4 miles
Sunday: Rest, rest, rest, rest, rest…rest!

My husband convinced me not to bring my bike up to Butte, and after seeing the packed car, I'm not sure it would have fit anyway. But I did bring all my running stuff, and I did exercise the supreme force of will it took to put on running clothes and seek out a hotel fitness room after a very long day of swim meet spectating.

Once I got going on the run, though, I was glad I was doing something productive, and it felt good. I was kind of excited to get in 4+ miles in 45 minutes, including a long warm-up and a long cool-down. (That means that in between, I was running fast. For me.)

It's a little surprising to me how much I enjoy running. I mean, I have always liked swimming, and it has positive associations with it from all my years on the swim team, but if I were in one of those "endless pools" or something, I don't think the mere sensation of swimming itself would do much for me. Biking is newer, and I do enjoy getting out of the city and looking around at the scenery and trying to get up the big hills…but in my garage, going nowhere, the sensation of biking is more pain than pleasure. (Much more.)

Running I just like. Even all alone, on a treadmill, staring at a wall, it feels good.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tired but with something to show for it

Friday: Swim 2,700 yards, bike 16 miles

I had to drive to Walgreens this morning, and when my tired brain woke up, it had driven me to the gym instead. And that was before my two hours of workouts. Bad tired brain! No! Retain your ability to function at a nominal level!

Anyway, once I got warmed up I actually had a lovely swim and was able to hold a bunch of 100s at about 1:30, which is nice for me because it shows that I have actually improved. I'd been swimming once a week for so long before this and not really getting any better that I sort of forgot that I do have that capability.

Finally made it to that rest day. Whew.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taking it down a notch

Wednesday: Swim 2,400 yards
Thursday: Bike 26 miles, run 2.5 miles

Today's bike workout called for me to hold a 75% heart rate for two 33-minute intervals, a fact that had been driving me to actual despair from the time I woke up this morning. Then I noticed that training schedule said I'd have to be "very disciplined" in order to not let my heart rate get above 75%, and I realized that something is just not right with the heart-rate zones I've been using for the bike. It can't be. I mean, even getting to a 131 heart rate is a struggle on an outdoor ride, and holding one for that long would have killed me. Dead!

I posted a question on the website and got all sorts of useful advice, which verified for me that the number I have been using is too high, at least at my current skill level on the bike. I decided to just use perceived exertion for this ride, and take note of where my heart rate ends up at what feels like a 75% effort. It was a low of 119 and a high of 126.

I'm guessing 119 is actually out of the zone, but I think if the choice is between slightly under-doing the effort in a workout and hating my life four days a week, I'll choose the former.

Oh, also? Way too cold today to ride a bike. I had to defrost my feet inside for half an hour before I could head out on my run. Must remember that the trainer is a force for good. Especially if I can tone it down a notch now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jane, stop this crazy thing

Tuesday: Bike 17 miles, run 3 miles, hip exercises

I thought of 600 reasons why I should just skip my workout and take today off, but I could think of only one reason to do it: The training plan said so. So I did. I probably need better motivation at top of mind, but I'm too tired to come up with anything else right now.

I've got a pretty easy workout tomorrow but no rest day until Saturday. We're going to be out of town at my son's swim meet all weekend, and I didn't want to have too many workouts to worry about while we're there. And one trainer session in a Butte hotel is quite enough, thanks.

I'm a little concerned that I'm not finding time to do yoga, or lift weights, as I had hoped. I'm even more concerned that I'm not finding time to spend with my family. Right now it feels like it's all I can do to 1. Train for an Ironman, 2. Remain employed, and 3. Feed everyone. And my husband takes care of #3 for me half the time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

That screaming you hear is my hip

Saturday: Bike 16 miles
Sunday: Swim 2,900 yards, run 4 miles, yoga
Monday: Bike 27 miles, hip exercises

Oof. Feels like I went from a crazy week of work to an even crazier weekend of training. And it's still a couple of days away from a rest day! Have mercy.

So in a nutshell:
  • Saturday's ride confirmed for me everything I had already figured out about the trainer (1. It's good for me, and 2. It sucks), but I did manage to get the sweat/hair problem under control a bit with a headband and a towel. I think the next step is to park a fan in the garage for the winter.
  • Sunday was jam-packed with activities, such that the only time I could get the swim done was to get up at 6 in the morning. I also went to my first yoga class in several weeks, and luckily it was a relatively easy one. I used it to st-r-e-t-ch after my run.
  • Monday I got to try out my new bike shorts (on the bumpy roads, no less), and what do you know? They really help. Thank goodness. They're a bit on the snug side, but I am working on that.
I decided I ought to be accountable for doing some hip strengtheners at least three times a week, so I'm going to start writing them down. I don't want to end up back in PT if I can help it. But Dan achieved his great results by making me work extremely hard, and so that's what I'm trying to do to myself. I basically did sets of leg circles to failure, and afterward, between that and the hard ride, I could barely manage the stairs. Owwww.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Friday: Run 5.5 miles, bike 9 miles

What a gorgeous day for a run and ride. The only problem was that I had a little trouble keeping my heart rate down in the zone where it was supposed to be—but maybe that was just my excitement at being done with my busy time at work and the fact that it was 70 degrees and sunny on November 5.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A whole different animal

Wednesday: Bike 20 miles
Thursday: Rest

So my husband came back from the bike shop yesterday with a $5 gadget that makes my bike magically go on the bike trainer. (Well, I assume it was magic. Either that or mechanics. I wasn't there to witness it and might not have been able to tell the difference anyway.) When my work finally ended for the day, well after dark, I diligently gave it a try.

Wow. That is Not The Same as riding on the streets.

First, there was the heat. The sweatshirt I wore (because it's chilly in the garage!) lasted about 2 minutes before being flung away. Then came the sweat. It started forming somewhere on my scalp, ran down my forehead in invisible channels, and beaded up at the tip of my nose, dripping occasionally to the garage floor. (I kept trying to wipe it off, but it kept coming back, as if it was maybe trying to form a salt stalactite.) Then there was the frizz. Emboldened by the sweat and heat, my hair swelled to three times its normal size and resisted all efforts to be tucked behind my ears. Eventually I just gave up, because I wasn't going to win, and obviously I didn't really need to see where I was going (hint: nowhere).

Oh, and then there was the saddle. When you ride on a trainer, you never stand up to go over a railroad track, or put your weight on one leg to coast down a hill, or basically get out of the saddle at all. When you stop pedaling, you just…stop. So an hour and 15 minutes of riding is an ENTIRE hour and 15 minutes of riding, and let's just say I hope my new biking shorts are as magical as my husband's mechanical abilities.

Aside from all the discomfort, I learned right away that I CAN get my heart rate up to the proper levels on a trainer, enabling me to work out HARD. Plus I noticed that I have a slight side-to-side rock when I pedal. I think those two things mean trainer workouts are going to be really good for me, because I can focus on getting faster and correcting my form. It also means I am really going to hate them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Making the best of it

Monday: Swim 2,400 yards, bike 9 miles
Tuesday: Swim 2,300 yards

I was supposed to finish out Week 6 with a bike ride today, but I ran out of daylight before I ran out of work, and my efforts to actually set up a bike trainer were frustrated by a quick-release lever that seems to be right in the way. The only thing I really had time for, glancing over Week 7's workouts, was a swim, so that's what I did. I hope I have time tomorrow or Wednesday to get that ride in before I get really confused about what week I'm on and what I'm supposed to be doing.

I'm going to be busy again tomorrow, so my husband said he'd take the bike and trainer to the bike shop for me to see what can be done. What a guy.

In other biking news, I found a really good deal on eBay on a pair of fancy bike shorts I wanted, so I've postponed the saddle shopping until I see what the magical, fluffy-cloud, yet discounted shorts can do. My one concern is that they are a medium, while I remain in the "large" category, but I figure they are stretchy, right? Plus I fully intend to be a medium in a matter of weeks.

October wrap-up

As of the end of October, the year was 83.3% over. Here's how I'm doing on my 2010 goals:

Swimming: 99,800 yards (66.5% to goal of 150,000)
Biking: 1,721 miles (85.6% to goal of 2010)
Running: 403 miles (67.2% to goal of 600)

I'd given up on hitting my swimming and running goals, but the swimming one might actually be doable at the rate I'm going now. :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Saturday: Bike 34 miles
Sunday: Run 4.5 miles

So here's dedication for you: Up at 6:15 on a Sunday for a high-intensity run, ready for Sunday school by 8:45, done with church at 11:30, and back in the car by noon to drive to Cody, Wyoming, for a family gathering at 2.

And here's where the dedication falls apart: a cookie before getting on the road, a cookie and piece of apple cake with whipped cream for dessert, another cookie just because, and then a minor raid of the children's trick-or-treat bags after dark. It could have been worse, but I have to say I'm not proud of how I handled my first scheduled break from the Ironman sugar fast.

So here we are at dinner and my husband's cousin says, "Oh, you're training for an Ironman? Besides working out, are you doing anything else to prepare?"

And here's me, mouth full of cake: "Well, I gave up sugar…"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cautiously optimistic

Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Run 8 miles
Friday: Swim 3,200 yards

I got a weird glimmer this week of what it might be like to actually be in shape, and a hint that I'm getting there. First off, I was extremely disappointed that I ended up being glued to my desk all day Wednesday—because I'm starting to miss my actual family, but also because I was stir crazy after two full days of rest and wanted to get the the gym. Those hard workouts I dreaded last week sounded like just what I needed.

I know! Weird, right?

Then I went to physical therapy on Thursday, and Dan told me I was ready to "graduate" if I wanted. I still need to work on strengthening my hip and stretching my IT band (and I still have to refrain from sleeping on my right side), but I can handle it on my own from this point, and I'm basically cured. As if to prove it, I immediately headed to the gym for a wonderful, pain-free nearly two hours on the treadmill. I felt fabulous afterward. Like I had maybe 4 more miles in me before it was going to feel like a "long" run (slash walk).

I seem to remember from my swimming days that being in shape is its own reward. If I can just get my life to cooperate with my workout plans, I think I can make it happen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Busy busy busy

Tuesday: Rest

I have literally not left my desk for more than 2 minutes at a time this entire day, but rest assured that if I had, I would have headed straight for my bike. Tomorrow will be more of the same. Hmm. This week is looking downright deja vuey.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Not a nice day for a ride

Sunday: Swim 2,500 yards, yoga
Monday: Bike 17 miles, run 2.5 miles

The nine-day extravaganza of work and stress and pain that was Week 5 is FINALLY over, and it ended with an utterly miserable bike ride in the freezing, howling wind. It was blowing so hard that I was afraid to ride on my normal roads for fear that I'd get blown into traffic and run over by a truck. So in addition to miserable weather, it was also a miserable (but safe) route: a loop around my neighborhood, a couple miles down a nice wide bike path, a loop around a different neighborhood, and back. Lots of times.

Never again. I have been a wuss about setting up the trainer and trying it out, but the next riding day that's like that, I will have to. (I have never ridden on a trainer before, ever, but I've always known the time is coming. This is Montana.)

The run afterward was actually really nice. The wind was still howling (plus it started raining on me), but it was all much easier to deal with on foot, and running just felt good. I am starting to realize that running on a treadmill is only loosely related to running outside, and if you want to get better at running outside, then you have to actually go run there. Obvious, maybe. But it feels like a breakthrough to me, and it seems like I'm improving now that I've ventured outside a few times.

Probably the physical therapy is helping, too. Everything we do there is torture, but it's nice not to have hip pain.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

That wasn't so bad, considering

Friday: Swim 3,000 yards
Saturday: Bike 36 miles, run 2.5 miles

Despite saying I was going to take this week one day at a time, I'd been dreading today's workout. The main biking set was to hold a 75% heart rate for 11.2 miles (one-tenth of the race distance). Twice. It was supposed to be timed, but since I was biking outside, I scrapped the whole 11.2 idea entirely and just did it for 42 minutes. Twice.

I've calculated that my 75% maximum heart rate for biking is 131 (141 for running) but I actually find it really hard to get there and stay there. For most of this ride I had to settle for upper 120s (and a voice in my head screaming, "Faster! Faster!"). I spent the whole ride trying to figure out why it's so hard for me to maintain an aerobic pace on the bike, and the only thing I could come up with is that my saddle is so darn uncomfortable that I'm in actual pain even when I'm not working that hard, so it raises my perceived exertion.

That's just a fancy way of saying that I'm going to try to convince my husband that it's a great idea to drop $150 on a new saddle.

But seriously, I'm going to be biking a lot more miles, and there's a limit to how much more pain I can "get used to." As soon as I got home I started Googling, and here's what I think I want:

Isn't it pretty? See that cut-out area? That's the part that's not going to hurt any more!

I've also been researching biking shorts, and it turns out there's a whole universe of $130 high-tech shorts that apparently feel like you're wearing fluffy clouds, but I really think the saddle is the place to start.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back at it

Thursday: Run 8 miles

Wow, that was a long one on the treadmill. Technically I was supposed to run for 1:10 and bike for :50, but I've been turning the bike into a walk so I can do it all at the gym during "Project Runway." Next week is the show's season finale, so I guess after that I'll be doing my workouts properly.

Or not. I've actually been thinking of taking my long run day and occasionally turning it into a super-long hiking day—like just setting out sometime I don't have anything to do (it happens!) and walking for six or seven hours, and then building up from there. I just want to get used to being up and moving for as long as it's going to take to get through an Ironman. (Not that I'm expecting a death march or anything. But if I end up with one, it might be kind of awesome to be trained for it.)

Today I was supposed to record the time for a 3-mile run done at a 75% maximum heart rate. It was strange—when I started out, I could go 5.6 mph at 75%, but my heart rate kept creeping up, and I had to take my speed down until I was running at 4.7 mph by the end. (I guess that's the type of thing I'm trying to improve with training.) Anyway, my 3-mile time was 36:58, which is a 12:19 pace.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A few words about my day

Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Rest

Just stepping away from work for a second to say blearkjasf.




Monday, October 18, 2010


Monday: Bike 17 miles

I told the physical therapist about the bruise, and he said, "Oh, didn't I warn you that might happen?" He said they have to walk a fine line because if they're too gentle it doesn't do any good, and if they're too rough, you get raw-hamburger leg. At any rate, today's session hurt much less, and I was glad. I'm daring to hope that my IT band is actually starting to loosen up enough that future massaging might even feel good.

I'm having an almost nightmarish amount of work befall me in the next few days. I'm hoping to stick to the schedule, but we'll see how bad it gets.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yoga love

Sunday: Run 3 miles, yoga

I've been having trouble with the IT band stretches the PT gave me (in that I can't actually feel them in my IT band), and so after yoga I asked the instructor if she had any suggestions. She and another guru/friend spent 15 minutes working with me trying to find something that worked. I love yoga.

I didn't do one of my long workouts today after all. I decided I'd rather be more rested and have a good yoga class. I did. Totally worth it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

One day at a time

Saturday: Bike 14 miles, run 3 miles

First, the promised photo. Today it looks like a regular old bruise:

I had a hard time getting myself out the door for my ride today. Not because of the bruise (which hurts to touch but not to run and ride on), but just because it was gray and cold and I'm tired and cranky. Then I got back home from the ride, and it took me another hour to get out the door again for the run.

I think I'm going to have to take Week 5 one day at a time, because when I start thinking about everything that I'm going to need to do, I start to freak out a little bit. Lots of work rolling in, lots of family responsibilities, and oh my gosh, would you look at that nutty workout schedule! Week 4 didn't include a rest day, so I moved things around and created one, thinking it was just a mistake. Well, Week 5 doesn't have a scheduled rest day either, and I'm really not seeing any workouts I really want to double up on. Guess I'll burn a bonus rest day but do them all as written.

Beyond that, the strategy should probably be to get my longest workout out of the way tomorrow, before the work avalanche, but I'm not in the mood to think about that yet. One day at a time.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Friday: Yoga, swim 2,500 yards

Didn't I tell you I was manhandled yesterday? Well, now I have massive bruises all up and down my right leg. Kind of weird bruises, too. Not purple. More like a raw hamburger color. And not really bruises, plural. More like one continuous, mottled bruise. Kind of a raw-hamburger motif overall.

Sigh. Tomorrow I'll post a picture.

That part of my leg hurts even to touch, and doing flip turns on that side was pretty painful. It made me grumpy with every stupid lap. Plus there was a woman at the pool forcing a swimming lesson on her 1-year-old, who SCREAMED the entire time. I was hungry and exhausted from yoga and wanted so badly to just go home, but I kept telling myself, "This is the Ironman, sticking with crap like this," and I did at least finish the workout.

My next PT appointment is Monday. There is NO. WAY. I'm letting anyone massage my leg in this state. Is this even normal? I almost hope it's still there on Monday so "Dan"—if that's even his real name—can see what he did to me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Torture and lies

Thursday: Run 6.5 miles

Even at its worst, in the height of marathon training, my hip never hurt as much as the torture the physical therapist put me through today. I tried not to actually writhe around on the table. Much. Here's the conversation that ensued:

Me: "Ow. Ow ow ow ow. Sorry."
Dan: "What are you sorry about?"
Me: "I don't want to make you feel bad for doing your job."
Dan: "Oh, don't worry about that. At PT school they pretty much rid you of—"
Me: "Kindness and human compassion?"
Dan: "That's probably a good way to put it."

So last time I was there he told me that if I needed to keep training, we could work around that and still get my hip healed. But then today, he goes, "So you're not running anymore, right?" Um…right. Also, I'm definitely not planning to run 6.5 miles later on the treadmill.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Don't let the sun go down on me

Wednesday: Bike 31 miles, run 2 miles

It seems like every ride I take ends up as some kind of epic battle of the elements. Today's elements included ferocious wind that died down just when it was due to become a tailwind, a herd of crazed cows in the middle of the road, a bug that flew directly down my throat, and (most seriously) the rapidly setting sun.

I knew I might be cutting it close when I set out at 4:30 p.m., because it's getting dark ridiculously early these days. But I realized partway into my ride (scheduled for an hour and forty-five minutes) that I was attempting too big of a loop and wasn't going to make it home on time. At that point I scrapped the workout I was trying to follow and decided to book it home as fast as possible (which was kind of the idea behind the workout anyway). I was dreading the thought of being out there on a rural road with no shoulder (and no jacket, and no light) in the dark and cold. In the end I was home only 10 minutes late, and the temperature had only dropped to about 60 degrees, and the sun was still just visible on the horizon, so everything was fine.

And as a bonus, it ended up being a 15.6 mph average speed, which is really fast for me considering the wind. Also, gorgeous sunset for my run afterward.

Physical therapy

Tuesday: Rest

Great news! I finally got serious about doing this Ironman (it seems) and went to see a physical therapist to try to resolve my two years of hip pain. I was nervous because I've never been to one before. I fretted a long time about whether to wear jeans or running clothes or yoga clothes or what. But then I started Googling Ironman nutrition articles and lost track of time, and when I finally looked at the clock again it was three minutes past time to leave, so street clothes it was!

I wasn't surprised that the therapist gave me a lot of tsk-tsking about waiting so long to have my hip looked at. He was also horrified at how tight my IT bands are and how weak my right hip is. Apparently it all adds up to something-something-something bursitis (he talked really fast). I got assigned a bunch of exercises and stretches to do and am supposed to ice it three times a day. I'm also seeing him twice a week for a while for ultrasound, plunger, and rolling pin therapy. (Actually I'm not sure if it was really a rolling pin, but it felt like one. The plunger was really a plunger.)

Oh! And I was instructed not to lie on my right side to sleep any more, which turns out to be the most horrible thing ever. I dutifully went to sleep on my left side, only to find my husband poking at me an hour later to roll me back off that right hip. I don't know why my two sides aren't equally sleep-worthy, but there it is.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Swim time trial

Monday: Swim 3,300 yards

Did the week's big swim today. The main set was 2 × 1,000 at 75% of my maximum heart rate. I wasn't about to try my borrowed heart-rate monitor in the water, but from a few weeks of experience, I know what 75% feels like (a fast pace that makes you breathe hard but doesn't kill you right away) so I felt pretty confident about being able to approximate it. I knew I shouldn't get my hopes up about my times, so I wasn't too disappointed to see 16:28 for the first one. But I was pretty excited to see 16:26 for the second one. Now that's pacing, baby.

I'm supposed to record my time per average 100, so here it is: 1:39. Hmph.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

No, NOW it gets serious

Sunday: Bike 19 miles, run 2 miles, yoga

It's Week 4, and this morning I took a look at the schedule for the first time, aiming to find a workout with a bike ride (because it was such a nice day) that wasn't too difficult (so I could squeeze in some yoga as well). Well, huh. Looks like they're all on the difficult side this week. Plus at the end it says something like, "Congratulations on finishing your first real week of training."

So OK then! Welcome to my first real week of training! Wonder what this is going to be like!

It ended up being a great ride, a decent run, and a killer yoga class, all done in rapid succession, leaving me a sweaty pile of goo who nonetheless had to hurry and get cleaned up to go to dinner at my parents' house. I was famished when I got there and for some reason decided that I was allowed to eat my mom's cinnamon rolls because she doesn't use all that much sugar on them. Then I (apparently) decided I was allowed to eat about seven of them.

Lesson learned. Two and a half hours of working out + yummy food you don't have to cook = DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ironman live

Saturday: Bike 13 miles, run 2.5 miles

I spent almost all day watching the Kona coverage online. It's funny; you think I'd be inspired, but seeing those elite athletes destroy the course in just over eight hours is actually really intimidating. I should probably stay up and watch some folks finish in 14 hours, but let's face it: They're faster than me, too. :)

So I took an Internet time out during the bike leg to finish up Week 3 of training. I'm pleased that I'm feeling so good. My run is already improving. I just hope I get to actually USE my running skills in the race. It doesn't do much good to learn to run if the thing just ends up as a death march.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Plugging away

Wednesday: Bike 24 miles
Thursday: Run 6.5 miles
Friday: Swim 2,400 yards, yoga

I had something to say, I think, but never mind. Nap now.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Sunday: Bike 13 miles, yoga
Monday: Run 3 miles, swim 3,200 yards
Tuesday: Rest

Today was supposed to be one more big workout day before my day off, but I got overwhelmed in the morning with a bunch of deadline work and just couldn't even think about when I might have time to get out for a bike ride. So I decided rather than stress about it, I'd switch things around and just take today off instead. (I have the itty-bittiest, teeny-tiniest pain in my hip from Monday's tempo run, so it might be good to rest that up, too.)

The rest of my week seems to be filling up, so I'm going to have to be diligent about getting the rest of my workouts in. I'm not ready to burn a "bonus" rest day just yet.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Now it gets serious

Saturday: Run 3 miles, swim 2,400 yards

OK! That's two weeks down, and the end of the period ominously labeled "Orientation" on the training schedule. I feel like I should get a cookie or something, but NO COOKIES FOR YOU. YOU ARE TRAINING FOR AN IRONMAN, LADY.

Actually? I had a profound insight about "training for an Ironman" while running today. (Ready for it? It's pretty doggone profound, so read it with the proper respect, if not reverence.) Here it is:

The training is the Ironman. Finishing the race is of course a big accomplishment, but in a more basic way it simply demonstrates what you've already accomplished. It's just the last day of a 40-week process that, bit by bit, makes such a thing possible.

Told you.

Friday, October 1, 2010

September wrap-up

So at the beginning of the year I set myself some (perhaps overly ambitious) training goals. Here's how I'm doing as of yesterday, with the year 74.8% over:

Swimming: 77,300 yards (51.5%)
Biking: 1,492 miles (74.2%)
Running: 346 miles (57.7%)


Thursday: Bike 5 miles, Run 6.5 miles
Friday: Yoga, bike 11 miles

I got my friend's heart rate monitor in the mail, and it is so exciting to be able to execute fancy maneuvers like "Gradually bring your heart rate up to 75%" that I can't even believe it. It finally gives me some confidence in what I'm doing. And I think it's going to be a great way to see progress. I mean, running at 75% might be just 4.6 mph NOW, but maybe in a month it will be faster.

Today I had sort of a clumsy bike ride where I a) took a corner too fast and almost smacked into the curb; b) ran off the road onto some gravel and weeds (and very nearly the ditch); and c) flung my water bottle away and had to go back for it. This was all during the warm-up. So I was a little apprehensive when it was time to do one-legged drills again. But I tried to focus on not killing myself, and they actually went pretty well.

I read an article in some triathlon magazine I just got about the importance of recovery and that one rest day a week and one rest week a month wasn't really enough. It made me glad that I have already built 21 extra rest days into my schedule. If I start sounding overwrought on this blog, will someone please remind me to take one?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I *AM* taking it easy

Wednesday: Rest

I decided last night that I had nothing to lose by writing to the eBay seller to complain about my heart-rate monitor. I don't know if it will do any good, but at least I got a giggle out of the reply I got:
Dear friend,
Thanks so much for your message and glad to serve you!
Very sorry to hear the problem you said! We have sold a lot of the items but there are few problems. But please take it easy. We will surely be responsible for this matter.
Do you mean that it can't work well or it inaccurately works? Could you please tell us the problem in details?
Please don't worry, if you really don't like it, we will surely give you a resonable solution.
Please let us know the result. Thanks a lot for your time and understanding in advance!
If you have any question, whatever, please first feel free to contact us right away.
Wish you have a great day everyday!
Best regards,
Danny, Customer Support

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Runner's high

Tuesday: Bike 13 miles, run 2.5 miles

Due to a clerical error, I did my run at a lower heart rate than I was supposed to. And it was AWESOME.

I'd tell you my top speed, but you'd laugh, and it might bring me down off this runner's high.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 2: Self preservation

Sunday: Bike 19 miles
Monday: Swim 1,800 yards, yoga

So hope dawns anew with Week 2 of training, and I decided it needs a theme, and that that theme should be "self preservation." By which I mean not just staying in one piece, but actually preserving my SELF…doing all this training and remaining Julie. As opposed to the anxious, selfish, frantic psychopath who has been inhabiting my skin lately.

I had to remind myself of my theme today when in yoga my wrist started hurting for no apparent reason. Solution: Don't worry. Don't try to power through. Do the things that don't hurt and skip the rest.

There. That wasn't so hard.

P.S. Swimming immediately before yoga leads to crazy hair, which is actually not at all at odds with the theme of the week since my hair borders on crazy all the time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pulling my crap together

Saturday: Bike 40 minutes, run 45 minutes

A lot of yesterday's trauma has resolved itself, and I think I'm back to normal (i.e., sane). My current status:
  • A little sore where I hurt my groin muscle, but not limping, and on the mend.
  • A little tired from working out and then walking around a lot of the day, but not unreasonably so.
  • Allergic to stuff, and sniffing a lot, because it's fall, but not actually sick.
  • Still kicking myself over the heart-rate monitor stupidity, but thankful for a sweet friend who's going to lend me a decent one so I can get on with my life.
  • Able once again to laugh at life's small mishaps, for example when you're riding along and a BIRD ACTUALLY CRAPS ON YOUR LOWER LIP, MAKING YOU NEARLY RUN INTO A DITCH BECAUSE OF ALL THE ENSUING SPITTING AND WIPING-OFF.
  • Trying not to say "crap" so much in this blog, but seriously, can you believe the kind of crap that happens to me?
  • Glad to have finally finished Week One, and to have made up that bike ride I missed earlier in the week by dumping a swim instead.
So I'm pretty sure about this heart-rate monitor being a piece of crap (last time, sorry). For the warm-up on my run, I was supposed to work up gradually to 123 beats per minute. This is how it went:

OK, I'm at 100 bpm; I'll pick up the pace a little.
Uh-oh, I'm at 140 bpm, better walk for a second.
Oops, now I'm at 90, better jog.
Oops, now I'm at 150.
And so on.

I could never hold a steady heart rate for a single minute the entire run. Starting to think it might actually be a cardiac condition.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The bad beginning

Thursday: Run 5 miles, bike 6 miles
Friday: Yoga, swim 1,800 yards

Editor's Note: I waited to blog until I was in a better mood, so if you want to know how I really feel, you should probably multiply the following rant by ten.

Are the workouts I've been doing this week really that much harder than what I did all summer? Are they? No, really, I'm asking you. Because I am stinking exhausted and I don't know why. And this week has just been one unfortunate event after another. (Perhaps that's what I get for calling it "Week the first," hmmm?)

So yesterday I was supposed to run for 55 minutes and then bike for 30. The idea is to keep your heart rate elevated for a longer time without beating up your legs too much. I figured it would be fine to do the running on the treadmill and then just use the stationary bike at the gym. But it really wasn't fine. It was extremely uncomfortable, more difficult than it should have been, and actually painful in one knee (the other one). I realized the whole thing wasn't just suboptimal but actively counterproductive, so I went back to the treadmill to walk to the end of my time. From now on I'm going to either just walk for the biking time or give up on trying to do that kind of workout in the gym at all.

I woke up pretty tired this morning but was still having a decent yoga class until I kicked up into a handstand and pulled a muscle in my groin. My first thought was, Oh, no I did NOT just injure myself for the SECOND TIME in my first week of training. But oh, yes, I did! I was still able to swim afterward, but without any kicking, and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do tomorrow's run/bike workouts at all. I came home nauseated, starving, dizzy, drained, dejected, limping, and wondering if I was actually sick on top of everything or just allergic to the world. Instead of working I spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the couch watching Netflix crap and feeling sorry for myself.

My heart-rate monitor finally showed up today, and I realized that instead of having bought the practical, utilitarian, no-bells-and-whistles piece of equipment I thought I had, what I likely now own is instead a total piece of crap. It feels cheap and is hard to use, and the instructions are written in a very broken English. It wasn't expensive but certainly isn't worth what I paid. It might make it through the next 39 weeks of training, and it might not.

I might make it through the next 39 weeks of training, and I might not.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reasons not to panic

Tuesday: Yoga, swim 2,400 yards
Wednesday: Rest

Reasons not to panic:
  • I'm thinking being so tired yesterday was a bit of a fluke; I'm actually feeling fine today.
  • My knee still feels a little tweaky, and it's popping like crazy, so I think something is probably going on there. I'm going to attempt to make a smart decision and skip my (puny, inconsequential, irrelevant) 40-minute bike ride tonight to give it a real good chance at healing up completely before it becomes even a hint of an actual problem. Tomorrow is a rest day, so that will help.
  • is up again, and I've copied all the workouts into a Word file just in case the site ever crashes or the folks there decide to take them down. Peace of mind.
I really hate the thought of skipping a workout already, but like I said, I'm trying to be smart here, and I'd rather risk being undertrained than risk getting injured.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Too tired for optimism tonight

Monday: Run 3 miles, bike 14 miles

Reasons to panic:
  • Ugh. Tired, so very tired.
  • Tiny pain just below the knee. It was the one-legged pedaling what did it.
  •, where my training plan lives, is crashed. Tried to copy and paste cached versions of all the weeks' workouts in case it's permanent. Got only about a third.
Reasons not to panic:
  • Perhaps I'll think of some tomorrow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week the first ("I'm training for an Ironman!")

Bike 21 miles, yoga

So I finally got to crack open the much-anticipated training plan. 'Bout stinking time. Now if anyone asks, I can say I'm training for an Ironman and not feel like I'm lying.

("I'm training for an Ironman." See? See?)

Today I was supposed to do an 80-minute ride that included some single-leg and cadence drills. Sounded easy enough. But then I discovered a few itsy-bitsy flaws in my cycling technique:

Flaw 1. You know how a pedal stroke is ideally supposed to be some kind of a circle? Well, the single-leg drill revealed that mine is apparently a shape with somewhat straighter edges. (And I'm not talking dodecagon here. More like pentagon. Or triangle.) Plus, there's a point just before the top of the pedal stroke where the whole thing sometimes comes to a complete stop, even if I make little "uh, uh" noises.

Flaw 2. I know pedaling fast is good in theory, but the cadence drill seemed to indicate that I haven't exactly internalized that concept. I was supposed to pedal at three speeds: 80-85 rpm, 90-95 rpm, and 105+ rpm. I'm not sure what my comfortable, normal, happy pedaling speed is, but today I learned that 80 rpm is faster than that. 90 is possible. But 105 was not going to happen, and whatever top cadence I did manage had me bouncing all over the place, which is a) stupid, b) embarrassing, and c) painful.

Glad I had yoga afterward because I rock at that.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Thursday: Rest
Friday: Yoga, walk 1 mile
Saturday: Yoga

I'm feeling nice and rested and really, really eager to get started on my training program. My only reservation right now is a tiny bit of bummage that my yoga is probably going to suffer severely through all this. Yoga is clicking like crazy for me right now. I love it when I can do every single move in a class, and even do a bit more than what the class is doing (why just flop onto your stomach when you can float into plank and then lower yourself down gracefully?). That's why I'm so determined to keep at least a couple of classes in the weekly mix. It would be awesome if I could keep feeling this good as the running and biking volume builds up.

First up (because of all my schedule rearranging) is an 80-minute bike ride on Sunday. Should be a piece of cake unless my heart-rate monitor arrives in the mail before then and I find out that my normal riding pace is not nearly hard enough to qualify as aerobic—which is very likely, actually, now that I mention it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Heart-rate shenanigans

Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Run 2 miles, weights

I finally bought a new heart-rate monitor, but while I wait for it to be shipped, I decided to take my sad, lonely strap back to the gym and do another heart-rate-based workout with the friendly treadmill. Nice in theory, but the treadmill wasn't feeling friendly.

Everything was fine at first, and I was able to jog comfortably (but very, very slowly) while keeping my heart rate at 118. Then suddenly my heart rate dropped down to 80, and the treadmill incline shot up to 8%. Then my heart rate went down to 70, and then 65, and the incline went up to 10%, and then 11%. Gasp! Choke! Then the thing seemed to come to its senses and showed my heart rate up in the 140s, which it probably was, and the incline eased up, and soon I was fine again. So either something was interfering with the transmission, or I have a severe heart condition.

Anyway, this happened three times, so I guess I can just call it an interval workout.

Then I headed over to the weight area to try "The Exact Gym Workout to be Doing During Race Season" according to The workout has three main focuses, one of which is hip strength, and is designed to be a quickie gym session that will help prevent injury for triathletes. Seems perfect for me, and I'm going to try to work at least the hip stuff, and probably all of it, into my routine for the next, oh, 37 weeks. I know there's a limit to how much I'm going to want to ADD to the Ironman training schedule, but I promise this is it.

P.S. I decided to start Sunday instead of Monday to give myself the full 40 weeks to train. I like that nice, round, pregnancy-reminiscent number, especially since the prospect of turning 40 was kind of the impetus for this.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The right and wrong way to obsess

Sunday: Yoga
Monday: Rest

I think I've been obsessing way too much about this Ironman. (Outside of what I write here, I mean. After all, this is an Ironman blog, so I don't sound at least a little obsessed on the blog, then I'm probably doing it wrong. Yes?)

But for example, I've declared my (perfectly sane and rational) intent to take it easy for a few days until I officially start training next week, and since I've been feeling a little tired, I decided it would be good to take today off. But there's a part of me screaming, "Nooooo! Must get faster! Must lose weight! Must get comfortable on the bike! Must buy $6,000 worth of new gear on eBay! At least get in a short swim! No, a run! No, a ride!" and so on.

I feel like I'm counting down the days until a big race, rather than just the date when I arbitrarily decided the training "officially" begins. Must chill out.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Low ebb

Friday: Yoga, bike 9 miles
Saturday: Yoga, bike 34 miles

So tired. Either the yoga+34 miles wiped me out, or my body is busy fighting off the disease my husband and son have (or both). At some point this evening we just gave up trying to do anything useful, had pancakes for dinner, and watched movies on Netflix until bedtime.

I have to say, it's disheartening to be so exhausted after a ride that's less than a third of 112 miles. Instead of a marathon afterward, I took my grandmother grocery shopping. After about an hour of moving at 0.5 mph, I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep on her living room couch.

I might take tomorrow off just so someone around here has the energy to do the dishes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Playing with my toys

Thursday: Walk/run 6 miles

I still have just the strap of my heart-rate monitor, but I decided to try it out at the gym to see if I could get the hang of this type of training. The treadmills are compatible with the strap, and they have programs that automatically adjust the incline so you can hold your heart rate wherever you want it.

I thought it would probably be pretty easy to do the whole walk/run at 65%, but that actually turned out to be a bit harder than I've been walking (uh-oh). In fact, I thought I was doomed at first, because it took some very steep, very fast treading to get my heart rate up to the magic 118 and I kind of got out of breath. (Starting to wonder if I am the world's wimpiest walker.) When I jogged, though, I literally could not go slow enough to get it down to 118, but at least it was flat, and I felt more relaxed.

My resting heart rate is pretty low (although I'd like to find my watch and actually measure it), so I wonder if I might need to adjust the training ranges down from what the treadmill suggests. More research!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting ready

Wednesday: Rest

I tore the house apart yesterday looking for my heart-rate monitor and came up with nothing. Then I mentioned to my husband that I was looking for it, and he walked over to a drawer and emerged with it 10 seconds later. The strap anyway. I still don't know where the watch is, and neither does the amazing magical genie spouse.

I took my bike into the shop this morning and am getting an 11/27 put on. I hope that's sufficient. I really had no basis for deciding whether that would be easy enough or if I would need a third chainring, so I went with the simplest and cheapest option. At any rate, it will help. I was counting my pedal strokes per minute last time I climbed the Molt hill, and I got as low as 35. If this keeps me above 60 or so, I'll be delighted.

While I was tearing the house apart, I found an empty little datebook that will be perfect for planning out my training weeks. I have Week 1 filled in and it looks pretty easy, so I went ahead and planned on three yoga classes. It's ridiculous how many variables go into planning a week: weather forecast, gym schedule, workload predictions, kids' schedules, spacing out the easier days evenly, and—yes, I admit shamefacedly—putting my long run on "Project Runway" night. You didn't expect me to sacrifice for this goal, did you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Easing up

Monday: Bike 17 miles
Tuesday: Yoga, swim 1,500 yards

I'm toning down my training a bit so I'll be rested and gung-ho when I start the "real" training in a few weeks. The plan is to start the day after the Montana Marathon, and I'm so glad I decided not to run that! I managed to sell my slot on Craigslist to a woman about my age doing her first marathon, so I'm really happy it's going to someone who is excited about it. She asked for advice, so I threw in my "wisdom" about the course free of charge. It's nice to feel like a veteran.

I got up for psycho-early-yoga again. I felt pretty good in class this time, but man, it makes for a long day. And it seems to require that I eat an entire extra meal ("second breakfast"), so I think it might be counterproductive as far as losing weight. Maybe if I go to bed at 8:30 tonight I can stay within my calorie limit??

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy to have a plan

Saturday: Yoga, swim 1,000
Sunday: Run/walk 4 miles, weights

I've spent some time this weekend doing training research, and think I've come up with a plan. I really like the free ironman training program at, but I had a few concerns:
  1. There's a ton of swimming (up to four days a week!) that I don't necessarily need.
  2. Everything is done by time and heart rate rather than distance, so if I remain very, very slow, then I might not get in the distance that's intended.
  3. There's no time for yoga, which I really think I want to keep up.
  4. The taper is only two weeks and (to me at least) looks like too much work too close to the race.
  5. My job is going to create a handful of three- or four-day periods where I can't work out at all.
So the plan I came up with is to start the 36-week program 40 weeks out. That gives me one extra week to taper, one extra week to add on distance to my long ride and/or run, and two weeks of buffer to add random rest days when work gets crazy. I'll stick to swimming once or twice a week, but maybe double up the swims to get in the full week's yardage. And I'll take the time freed up by swimming less often to do yoga about twice a week.

I'm 42 weeks out from the race right now, so I'm thinking I might back off on my training a bit for the next two weeks (and hit a ton of yoga classes instead) so that I can start fresh and raring to go.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Friday: Ride 44 miles

Wow, that one hurt. 44 miles, plus massive hills. Still, it was another beautiful day, and it almost made me feel guilty to ride by people out doing actual work. Think I'll have a shower and go eat something…or possibly everything.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The gear I want

Thursday: Bike 31 miles, walk/run 6 miles

Such a beautiful ride today. The wind was howling, but it was cool and crystal clear, and the sky was pure poetry. I didn't attempt another hilly route, but I was certainly cursing the headwind for the first part of the ride. (The way back, now!! That was fun.)

It's been dawning on me that my bike (purchased in Virginia Beach) isn't really geared for mountainous terrain. Well, I always knew that, but I guess what's been dawning on me is that this is fixable. I ran across something that said that the IM CDA bike course gets up to a 19% grade (what?!!) for short sections and that you'd be a fool to do it without at least a 12-25 or 12-27—WHATEVER THAT MEANS. I'm pretty sure I don't have it, though. I checked my bike for similar numbers and saw "53-39," but I'm not sure that's even related.

(I know there are punier gears out there, because when we were in Colorado and drove up to the top of Mount Evans, I saw a guy pedaling up an incredibly steep hill at about 100 rmp and going about 2 mph. That's the gear I want.)

Anyway, the point is I'm clueless about this stuff, and another stop at the bike shop is in order. Might as well do it sooner rather than later so I can start practicing on appropriate gears.

P.S. I added a grand total of 5 minutes of running to my 90-minute walk. So far so good, hip-wise.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How I'm doing on my goals for 2010, in pictures

It's going to be a long day

Tuesday: Yoga, walk 2 miles
Wednesday: Rest

8 a.m. Feels like I've put in a full day already. I started feeling better last night and decided to give the morning yoga a try today after all. When it was over, I still had time before anyone at home would be awake, so I got on the treadmill. Now I've had two breakfasts, I'm showered and dressed, the kids are in school, my husband went out to work in a coffee shop—and I'm looking at another day with not a lot to do and wondering why, in that case, it had to start quite so early.

11 a.m. It's my normal lunchtime, but I'm not hungry because I've been snacking all morning to stay alert. Don't know why I'm bothering to stay alert, because although I now have a few things to do, I've not started them yet.

2 pm. Oops, suddenly have tons of work. There go any plans to ride my bike later. Taking a real rest day tomorrow. I wrote it down already, so it must be true.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tired now

Sunday: Yoga, walk 2 miles
Monday: Walk 2 miles, yoga, swim 3,000 yards

I had no work today, and somehow I decided that meant it would be a good idea to spend three hours at the gym. Tired now, and sore. I think I'm going to postpone 5:15 a.m. yoga yet again and take tomorrow off. Unless it's nice biking weather.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bad decisions

Saturday: Yoga, bike 40 miles

I guess I was really annoyed about being defeated by the uberhill route the other day, because I decided to do it yet again. It started off being a good decision. No wind, no traffic, nice and cool, and the climbing is still getting easier every time. I decided to ride all the way into the town of Molt before doubling back to make my loop, which was exciting because I crossed the county line again. (Don't know why that makes me feel like such a daredevil…)

Unfortunately, a storm crept up on me while I was up there, and when I turned off to make my loop back home, I realized I was going to be riding right into it. I hadn't brought any extra clothes*, but I figured that's all part of the getting-tough process. Then I saw several lightning strikes and rethought that toughness thing a bit. Um, yeah, better go back the way I came instead.

So I headed back, but it started pouring rain on me anyway. The wind was chilly, and it looked to me like things were only going to get worse. Just then I saw a car pull up to a mailbox, and I figured it might be my only chance to ask another human being for shelter. I asked the woman if I could duck into her barn for a minute, and she said sure. So I walked my bike down the dirt driveway*, got out of the wind, and stopped to think.

Eventually I decided the best thing to do was to call my husband and have him rescue me* before things got really nasty, but darn it, there was no cell signal. I stood there a while debating about going up to the house, but then the rain died down, and I decided I was being a wimp and needed to get back out there. Unfortunately, by that time, my tires and biking shoes were covered with mud, and when I got back to the road, I couldn't clip in.

I pedaled for a while anyway but realized that if I couldn't clip in for the descent I was probably going to CRASH and DIE, so I stopped again and used my fingernails and most of my water** to clean off the clips. Eventually made it work, and eventually made it home. Then stayed in the bathtub for an hour and a half.

I keep reminding myself that it is good to get a lot of varied experience and good to learn from mistakes right now.

* Bad decision
** Seems like a bad decision but was probably for the best

Friday, August 27, 2010

Licking my wounds

Thursday: Walk 5 miles
Friday: Walk 1 mile

Well, I found out I was the fourth person to turn in the correct answer on the World's Greatest Copy Editing Challenge. Rats! Guess I'll have to look elsewhere for vocational affirmation.

My back seems pretty OK, but maybe a bit fragile. Or maybe that's just my imagination. Either way, I didn't want to miss my Thursday night walk/TV time, but I'm taking today off.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sugar fast

Tuesday: Walk 2 miles, weights, swim 1,000 yards
Wednesday: Bike 34 miles (14 mph)

The kids went back to school today, and I decided that this was the moment to start my sugar fast. I usually swear off sugar between Halloween and New Year's, in order to avoid making candy and cookies a daily part of my diet, but it's obviously not good for me at any time, so I've instituted a special Ironman-edition sugar fast, from now until the race. I'm allowed my usual exceptions (holidays and birthdays), plus I'm going to let myself have the occasional dark chocolate square (which all the women's magazines assure me is healthy, healthy, healthy), and obviously whatever sugar I need to get through long workouts.

I felt like kind of a hypocrite today, though, because I packed jelly beans for my long bike ride. Literally two hours into the sugar fast, and I'm already rooting around in the kids' candy drawer? Uh-huh.

So today I set out to finish the ride I couldn't do Sunday. What a great route. The climbing is hard — but gets easier every time — and the reward is 24 miles of awesome scenery and gradually-rolling-downhill terrain. I was feeling great afterward. I got home, showered, started to get dressed, and then felt this, um, twanging sensation across my lower back. (Backs are really cruel that way. They get you when you least expect it.) I had to lie on the floor for about 10 minutes, but then got up and took some Advil, and I think I'm actually not too bad off. It did derail my plans to try the 5:15 a.m. yoga class tomorrow, but I think I'll be OK in a few days.

I wasted literally the rest of the day on a stupid contest, trying to find an error in a book that was just published, in order to have the author declare me "the world's greatest copy editor," among other prizes. I believe I've found the error, and now I'm just anxiously waiting for email confirmation that I'm the world's greatest copy editor. The competitor in me could not resist that challenge, phrased in that way. Sure hope I was the first one to email the guy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In which I struggle to stay upright

Sunday: Bike 23 miles
Monday: Rest

When I set off on my ride today, it was easily the windiest weather I've ever (voluntarily) ridden in. But you know, when I signed up for a June Ironman, I think I forfeited the right to be choosy about the weather for my workouts. Anything short of snow on the roads is biking weather!

I did get a little concerned about the sky as I set off, though, because it looked like I was going to be riding right into an oncoming storm. But I was thinking rain or maybe hail. What I got was wind, and lots of it.

The ride I was planning is about 10 miles of climbing, some of it pretty difficult, and then about 25 miles of rolling hills and descents on a long loop back home. The climbs are bad enough in calm weather, but I found it incredibly tough with a giant headwind gusting toward me at about a 45 degree angle. The shoulder becomes a cliff in places, and I was very concerned about getting blown off the road. Luckily there's not a lot of traffic, and I rode toward the center so I wouldn't end up in the ditch, or worse.

I finally made it to the top, where the landscape opens up — and the wind basically doubled. So even though it was flat or downhill, I was struggling to get my speed into double digits. I suddenly realized that at that rate I was going to be out there four more hours, OR possibly have to call my husband for a rescue, possibly in the middle of nowhere, possibly someplace out of cell range. But I really hated to go back down the steep hills with that cross wind. So I stopped for a moment to think and decided that the lesser of the two evils was to go back.

Sheer terror! By the time I got down, my legs were shaking and my hands hurt from gripping the brakes, but at least I stayed on the road.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Early to rise?

Saturday: Yoga, swim 1,500 yards

Yoga today was great: It was a hard class, but I kept up, and I can feel my muscles remembering what it is they're supposed be doing. I wish I hadn't taken that month off before my race, but now that I am again one with the universe, I think I'm going to stick with it.

In fact, I'm seriously considering starting to go to the 5:15 (yes, that's a.m.) class taught by my favorite instructor on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I could do weights or a quick run afterward and still get home in time to see the kids off to school and start my workday. And there are Spin classes taught at that hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so I could make it a regular thing if I wanted through the winter.

Of course the problem with that plan is that I'd have to go to bed at 9 or 10 every night, possibly even before the kids!

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's supposed to be hard

Friday: Yoga, bike 19 miles (16 mph)

So I'm already back to feeling exhausted and unmotivated, but I guess I've been working out for two-plus hours nearly every day, so it's not all that shocking. Going to press on, though. Getting tough as iron is supposed to be hard work. Plus I've been counting calories, and it's great to see say, "You've earned 1159 extra calories from exercise today."

Oh, is that all? I don't think I could eat that many extra calories if I tried. (Not going to try, either.)

By the way, I decided I'm going to count calories every day until I've lost 5 pounds. After that I'm not sure what I'll do. Probably a little happy dance — and then count calories every day until I lose 5 more.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Feeling better

Thursday: Bike 22 miles (15.9 mph), walk 5 miles

I think taking yesterday off was the best thing I could have done. Not only did I wake up feeling peppy again, but I have a little more clarity about my training. Specifically: All I need to worry about right now is losing some weight and biking, biking, biking. It's too soon to worry about a formal training schedule, and it's way too soon to freak out. (Or maybe way too late, but there's no getting out of this now.)

I did have an insight on the treadmill that might be helpful: I walk way too slowly. And since undoubtedly the Ironman is going to involve a good amount of walking, it would be really good to get comfortable walking faster. So today I pushed my pace a little bit, and next week I'll push it a little more. It wasn't my-mom-walking-through-the-mall fast, but it's something.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A small sampling of what's going on in my head

Monday: Yoga, bike 17 miles
Tuesday: Swim 1,500 yards
Wednesday: Walk 2 miles

I'm getting overwhelmed thinking about all the things I need to do to get ready for the Ironman. I thought I had my priorities in order (bike, bike, bike, swim, and yoga) but not running has me feeling fat and panicky. Isn't that the best way to lose some weight (and isn't that the real priority)? Shouldn't I be trying out my hip and making the call whether I need physical therapy while there's still time? And when I swim, I wonder if I should be working solely on endurance (10 months early) or try to work on speed (for the leg of the race where I will least need it). Should I do freestyle only, or should I keep my other strokes practiced up so they'll be available to me if I need them? Maybe I really shouldn't worry about swimming at all just yet? And even yoga has me worried. There's no doubt in my mind it's beneficial, but is it beneficial enough? Would my time be better spent on weights? If I do weights afterward, will I get less benefit because I'm already fatigued? Or will I just burn out from too much time in the gym? On top of all this, my motivation is waning (again, 10 months early). The more I think about everything I need to do and how I can possibly schedule it, the less I want to leave this chair.

So my plan for today is to make a plan. Just a short one, like from now until school starts. And I'm also going to do some more research on what an Ironman training plan should be so I can form some of the broad outlines of the rest of my year is going to look like.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Better offers

Friday: Yoga, weights
Saturday: Yoga
Sunday: Rest

I keep meaning to go biking, but I keep getting better offers. Today, my parents called and wanted to know if the kids and I wanted to float down the river on rubber rafts and go rock hounding on the islands. Well, of course! It was an all-day event, but it ended with ice cream, and I found 44 agates, so a day well spent.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Two trips to the gym

Thursday: Swim 500 yards, walk 5 miles

The 90-minute walk is going to be a Thursday evening tradition: We don't have cable, and it's the best way for me to watch "Project Runway."

The 500-yard afternoon swim was supposed to be longer, but I hadn't moved my goggles back from my post-vacation "pile" to my gym bag, and the only ones I had were leaky and unacceptable.

I've been counting calories on My Fitness Pal, but somehow it seems to be making me heavier. I think because it gives me way too much credit for the exercise I do. (Example: Yesterday it said I burned more than 1,900 calories on my 30-mile ride. Surely it doesn't realize what an awesome bike I have. Or that 14-16 mph is not really that "vigorous.")

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tough enough

Bike: 30 miles

Another good ride. I am trying not to obsess over the mileage, so I've been keeping the bike computer set to display the average speed instead. Of course, that means I obsess over the average speed a bit, but maybe that's a good thing. Yesterday was a hilly route, and I averaged 14.8 mph. Today was much flatter, and I averaged 15.3 mph. That's pretty good for me!

So of course the point of all this biking is to get used to a variety of situations, and just generally get tougher. Today I came home with:

1. My shins coated with gravel.
2. Giant sweat stains on my shirt.
3. Two saddle sores the size of nickels (pre-existing).
4. A grasshopper in my hair.

How do you like me now? Am I tough enough yet?