Wednesday, August 27, 2014


It started off pretty funny.  M was getting ready to head into the district to do some work on the Mall, and he wanted to take his bike.  (Sometimes he gets posted with a Ranger and they've said if he has a bike he can do bike posts!). He was planning to metro in, because we live soooooo farrrrrrr awaaayaayyyyy in Tysons.  But he missed the time cut off, and you can't bring your bike on the metro during rush hour. (LAME!) 

I suggested he ride all the way in.  He replied, "but I don't want to pay the full rush hour fare!"  I replied, "so just RIDE IN!"  He said, "I don't want to pay the money!"  We went back and forth about five times before we realized we were talking about different rides!  

Coffee was made.  

Then I offered to ride in with him.  We ended having a lovely ride down the W&OD and Custis trails into DC.  It's actually super easy to get dumped off in the mall... It's just a long ride.  (Over an hour!) the ride was fast and easy.  I used a few tricks I picked up reading the Fat Cyclist's latest series (his awesome wife, The Hammer, is getting coached through Leadville by ReBecca Rusch and we get to learn stuff! and really put down some super easy speed.  

It also helps that I'm getting way more carbs. In fact, for breakfast, I had spaghetti and sauce!  I love dinner for breakfast. 

So I dropped M off, and by then the day was heating up.  I debated metro ing from the start, but I decided to ride as long as I was in the shade and catch the Metro in Arlington.  So I was riding away, when I happened upon another rider who turned out to be pacing me. We both paused at the top of a little climb and said hello, and it turned out we were both headed in the same direction... Except he didn't know how to get there!  So I decided to ride him to his street crossing.  We rode and chatted, and by the time I dropped him off, I was almost at Gallows!  

I did stop by work (on vacation!) to refill my bottles. I was totally empty! And getting really hot and thirsty and beginning to doubt humanity. Two bottles of ice water restored my confidence in the goodness of creation.  Gotta be careful of dehydration! 

I recently discovered a turn in my route home that eliminates the last big hill. It's nice to be finishing a 26 mile ride and not having to redline the last few minutes. Sometimes you need the hills, but I had already biked almost double what I set out to do today and I don't want to go into Nations tired! 

Overall a good ride, but we both agreed that is our last ride before the race.  We've both been pushing really hard and we need to recover and get our stretching and core work in.  

Running the monuments and my fun tip for running with a faster partner

A few days ago, I needed to get a run in.  Somehow, that turned into me talking M into coming with me.  It was Sunday, when parking is free in DC.  So I decided it would be a fun day to drive in and run the monuments.  

I've always wanted to run the National Mall.  It just feels like the ultimate local thing to do... I know, it's weird. But even though I enjoy running in strange cities, DC feels more like a hometown when I bike or run it.  It feels like "hey, I'm local enough that I can run here and not care about how gross and sweaty I am, because a shower and snacks await me at my house!"  

So we started near what will the T1 transition area- not far from memorial bridge where all the playing fields are.  We ran the war monuments, then up by the reflection pool, then up to Lincoln.  If you've seen the second Captain America movie, you know the route.  

Then we ran all the way up the Mall.  I paced M pretty well. On the way back down, he went and did a few out and back sprints. This is a great way to run with someone faster than you- have them run to a certain point, and then they come back towards you. So he'd run two lights down and then come back and meet me.  It's a good way for the slower person to get a little speedwork in too- start running faster when the fast person is spotted coming back to you! Sprint to meet him or her, and then you get a little interval in! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bike ride! More mileage than race day, so the bike is good to go.

A few days ago, we got a flat tire on the car.  I decided I'd load up my BMC and get errands done by bike all day, after dropping off the car at Wiygul.  They've been my mechanic in VA since I was in seminary and I feel super safe with my car in their hands.  They're the type of place that sometimes just fixes stuff for no charge, if it's an easy fix.  

The Reston branch is right off the W&OD trail, which means it's super-easy to get there and back on a car free trail with just a few road crossings.  It turned out the Beetle needed two front tires as well, so we had all four tires replaced and an alignment done.  An unexpected change of four tires left this priest on vacation with a serious need to hammer out some stress.  

So I rode up and down the W&OD, stopping to try and have lunch with M who unfortunately got busy.  So I had to eat my turkey sandwich all alone.  But I was super nice and got him a sandwich too! Wait a second- aren't I vegetarian? Well, these days, it's pretty much slackertarian.  With my tummy being so fussy this year, I've opted to go for a what-is-healthiest.  And for a long bike ride, I felt the turkey sandwich offered a nice combo of protein and carbs and high sodium.  I have issues with electrolyte balances, so my doctor actually told me to never cut salt and to consider adding it at times.  Deli meat is loaded with sodium, way more than normal people should regularly eat. For a treat, all of us can eat the turkey sandwich once in a while.  For me, for a long training day, I can have the sandwich...  And a Dr. Pepper.  Cures what ails ya!  

And then I held down a 15.7 mph pace for the next hourish of my ride... Even factoring in stops at the roads and hill climbs.  

Suffice it to say that I'm starting to feel like a shadow of my old self again.  

I also replaced my gloves.  Well, I forgot my gloves so I had to stop and buy new ones.  Don't judge. I went for Pearl Izumis, a women's cut for once. Sometimes, women's gloves are too small for me and chafe my sometimes tender right thumb.  Especially during seasonal changes, my hand is still temperamental.  

Over all, I dropped the car off at 10 and picked it up at 3, with a 30 minute lunch stop and a 20 minute visit to the tri store.  It was definitely a fun way to spend a day that would end in me giving lots of money to a mechanic! 

But now our car is purring like a kitten and running very smoothly (whoops. Alignment is so great).  

My BMC is happy and I have no qualms about the bike portion of Nations. In fact, I was daydreaming about how excited I'll be to get out of the water and onto my bike at the race and how fun it would be if the crowd would chant Oregon cheers with me.  Never mind that I'm way too shy to actually coax crowds to cheer, so I'll just have to hope my Duck-Lip-equipped supporters have that covered.  

And today, I get to go watch baseball, which means a metro ride and a big walk.  And of course some stretching and barre work.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Vacation! And The Triathlete Overplans

Having realized earlier this month that I was about to head into program year having taken approximately zero of my vacation, I figured it was high time the boss made herself take that vacation!  It's a stay cation, mostly, with perhaps a few solo day trips, and perhaps one camping trip if I can talk M into a spontaneous camp out.

With Nation's coming up in a few weeks, I'm feeling better than I have all summer (who knew that food could make you feel good, eh?), but also woefully undertrained.  I felt so low energy and miserable all summer because of the Idiot Nutritionist's goals that I skipped a lot of training days, sleeping away hours in the afternoon.  (Yeah, not cool, really.)

I know I can't make up lost training time this close to the race, so I've been working REALLY hard these last few weeks on cardio in order to do a good healthy taper.

During taper, I'm going to focus on flexibility and strength.  I am going to set a goal of 5-6 Barre3 workouts a week (15-30 minutes in length, focusing on the flexibility and strength ones. There's even several just for runners!).  I always find that being flexible and strong increases my endurance as much as hours on the bike do.

I am also going to do my nutrition coach proud and eat the healthiest damn diet ever.  She has given me recipes for protein pancakes and salads... and I am going to eat so many veggies this vacation!  And drink so much water!  Usually I go into a tri completely puckered up from the sugar overload, but I had a chance to experiment with some new nutrition this year, and I am pretty sure I know how I will eat during the race.  (Picky bar before, Hammer gels and Powerbar Perform on the bar, and whatever liquid Gatorade-like-beverage we get on the run course).  I've learned that my post-e.Coli tummy prefers to not eat anything really solid on the bike or the run right now.

Since I feel my race day nutrition is OK (if not exactly dialed in at this point), I'm going to focus on my day-to-day nutrition, which quite frankly is the bigger challenge for me right now.  I need to really learn how to eat healthy, without dairy, and getting sufficient balances of protein, fat, and carbs... all out of whole foods.

Also over vacation:  I'm going to be using a wedding honorarium to replace few totally worn out clergy shirts (one ripped across the back seam after ten years!) with some cute jersey ones, and I'm going to buy a new work bag for when I need a nice bag to carry around town but want something smaller than luggage.  I'm a little obsessed with finding good things- I don't like to shop, so I take FOREVER to buy something.  Then I keep it forever and ever until the straps literally fray through and my previously perfect work bag crashes into oblivion.  Farewell, O Bag.

I'm also collecting swatches of fabric: M and I are picking out fabric for our upholstery project.  Neither of us has ever done upholstery, so why not start with a full size sofa?

We've also been given tickets to the Nats and the ballet, so we are getting all sorts of culture over the next few weeks.

Expect to see a slew of boring posts about taper training, salad eating, and how the ballet was!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Big Swim, Hard Run, Eat Food.

I did my weekly Big Swim at the Wilson Pool on Monday.  It was delightful.  M was off to a meeting elsewhere, so I walked from Georgetown to the pool.  Considering that I'd been lazing around all day, the lengthy walk (about 2.5 miles) was both comfortable and necessary.

Once I got to the pool, I changed and went for the slow lane.  (The medium lane was pretty full).  I had the very unique experience of catching and passing people on the swim!  This is the first summer that everything really seems to be coming together on that swim, so being able to fight to catch a stronger swimmer's feet (usually M's.  He's fun to chase!), or to pass a swimmer, is something entirely new to me!  Still, it only happens when all elements have pulled together, which doesn't always occur.  I'm definitely very aware of the times when I am positioned correctly and catching the water, and when I slack on my form and positioning.  I don't think I have seen the end of my arm drills and kick board drills.  But it is kind of cool to feel water rushing by my legs when I kick!

I owe huge thanks to Judy from Oregon who coached me in swimming last year, and totally helped me correct some of the worst defects in my stroke!  I was kicking like I was riding a bicycle, and she helped me learn to kick like a dolphin.  I hope she's back into her own groove, too!

Yesterday, I squeaked out time for a run.  Being short on time (it was after 5 and I had a meeting at 7!) I opted for the short and intense version of the workout.  If you can't do your planned training, it's beneficial to go out super hard and short to get SOME benefit.

Sadly, my phone app didn't work like I thought it would, so I don't have my splits.  But based on feel, I would not be surprised if I held down a 9 minute (or even sub 9!) mile for the first 1.5 miles, and then held at least a 9:45 for the last 1.5 miles.  I know I was out for just about 30 minutes, and that the route was just over a 5K, and that the last half is pretty much uphill.  I was really pushing it!

Then I went to my meeting, where we were promised food.  That is when I realized that what I mean by "food" is not what others mean by "food", because they aren't training for a big race!  So I had had my lunch (a nice big salad with beans and pita), and nothing else, because I figured on a big dinner.

The meeting had delicious grapes, nuts, and crackers-and-cheese (of course I couldn't eat the cheese!).  It was a very good and productive meeting, but I couldn't wait to get out of there... I made a beeline to the grocery store, where I probably had the most hangry shopping experience ever!  I started at the spaghetti sauce thinking I'd get sauce to make pasta and sauce (which was a great idea).

Then I thought it would take too much time to boil water and make pasta.  So I revised that plan to vegan pizza.  The store did not have any vegan pizza, and then I started thinking it would take too long to heat up pre-made pizza.  (Yeah, it was getting bad).  That explains ENTIRELY how I ended up with vegan "buffalo wings" and marinara, because they took 2 minutes in the microwave and if I didn't eat RIGHT NOW I was literally about to starve to death in my kitchen, whimpering to a hungry end.

I also ate some veggies.

It was not my proudest moment in nutrition, but I do accept that I allowed myself to get far too hungry!  I need to eat snacks before I am hungry, or else I eat chicken nuggets.  That being said, vegan chicken nuggets are probably not the worst thing I could eat, hopefully.

But I'm definitely going to be making the normal pasta and sauce today for my supper.

I'm also wearing my compression socks and taking today as a cardio rest day.  I'm planning a bike ride for tomorrow, and considering that I am behind on nutrition, I want to give my body a chance to catch up.  This summer has been so rough that I think a little TLC is okay right now, especially this close to the end.

(Incidentally, due to a late meeting today, I am going to be cooking at church, so I can avoid fighting the traffic!  Such is clergy life at times.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gleaning the Library: Empty Space in Life

This summer, I've been working on a big project: I'm gleaning my work and personal libraries.  

I always thought I wanted to be the person who had the walls and walls of books in her house, and my dream house as a kid always included a library with a skylight and a fireplace, which would open onto the solarium.  (Preservation was less important than possession, I guess!)  

As I've worked through grad school and gotten more established in my career, I hung onto all my books.  This last move totaled more than 37 boxes of books, between the two of us.  

Yet as I watched the movers huffing up three flights of stairs, and as I later squirreled away the books in my new place, my anxiety just spiraled up.  Quite aside from my fear that one of movers was going to drop dead of a heart attack mid-job, I realized that my philosophy of holding onto ALL THE BOOKS wasn't consistent with the way I was living my life now.   

Ironically, every single book has been opened, and at least parts of it read.  So none of these were books that I bought and didn't read.  It's just that, for many of them, I felt I had gotten my fill out of them.  

My rule for the rest of my house is that if I haven't touched or used it in a year, it goes out.  If I really truly love it or if it's an heirloom, it may stay.  It helps me keep my stuff pared down and easier to pack for my many moves.  More importantly, it gives me breathing space.  I love the feeling of being able to come in and just do something in the house because the space is clear.  I like seeing open space on top of a table.  Or just a single item on the mantle.  I am far from a minimalist... but I am finding that I am resonating with the need to own less STUFF in order to have more room, mentally and spiritually.  

I began the project thinking I'd sell all the books to Amazon.  Until I learned that Amazon won't take most of them, and of those they will take, I'd get pennies on the dollar.  Yes, there are thousands of dollars invested in the books over the years.  But I realized that I was happier to get the weight of the books out of my life via a nearby book donation program than I was waiting for any money to come from them.  The open, breathing feeling I am getting with every shelf I glean down from double packed to single rows is worth its weight in gold.  

I've been scanning my old notebooks and making an annotated bibliography of books that I am "on the fence" about.  That way, I guess I can feel confident that I can find the resource again if I need it, and in the meantime, it is taking up just organized electronic space.  I can let go of the physical weight.  ANd far from making me more anxious that I'm losing a resource, I am finding it is like magic: releasing my long-held anxiety with each book I let go of.  

We got rid of an extra car this year, because we wanted to live lighter on the earth.  We live in a flat instead of renting a house because we like smaller spaces.  I guess my childhood dream of the solarium-library has changed.  Somewhere in the last few years, it faded away and was replaced by small, open spaces.  

How does this relate to triathlon?  Well, it's not very sporty.  I wonder if, perhaps, in this year of recovery after having e.coli, if maybe the e.coli did more than just destroy my ability to digest dairy.  Maybe it also changed my perception of what I had to have around me in life in order to feel like I had enough, and was happy.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Fired The Nutritionist

You probably saw this one coming. 

After getting home from the horrible bike ride, I got in touch with a friend who is a tri coach- in fact, we met when she also lived in Eugene and owned the tri shop and ran the tri club we went to.  I told her about my nutrition woes.  She looked at my plans from the Fancy Nutrtionist.

Short story: my meal plan was only well balanced and ample, if you are a lethargic flea.  There was just no way I could have met my quotas or sufficiently fueled my body eating that way. At the end of the day, I was clocking in at around 1200-1300 calories... My doctor's had an RD whose starting suggestion had been 2000.

So I hired my tri friend to help me learn proper nutrition, and for the last week, I just ate what I wanted. I ate the protein pancakes she suggested for breakfast, because they are yummy.  I ate salads and nuts because I like salads and nuts. I ate apples and peanut butter.  I had a few pita sandwiches.  And I have myself a week off from tracking.  And weighing myself.  

I've got issues with control, and with controlling eating, and ultimately, a lot of what I was having to do with the nutritionist was just triggering a lot of very scary and uncomfortable behaviors for me.  That's just not a good place to be.  Very happily, my tri friend also has been through eating issues, and she knows how to help me be healthy without getting trapped in a cycle.  

I did a run, and two swims, and a few barre workouts.  I helped a friend paint her house.  Mostly, I walked a lot.  And I didn't track any of it, although I let my Shine track it for me.  I was disappointed to not get very many points for house painting! M points out that I was mostly just standing or sitting while I did cut ins.  I tried to explain that even though I was sitting, I was sitting on the roof of a house!  

That  should count for more, right? 

By yesterday, I realized that for the first time in months I was home from work and didn't feel like taking a giant mega nap.  I hadn't needed a nap for a few days, actually.  

Firing the nutritionist was probably the best thing I've done this summer.  I just hope I can salvage enough of the season so I can race this race and not just finish it!