Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Long Way to the Marathon (metaphorically, that is...)

The Lake Placid Marathon is next month, almost EXACTLY a month, to be precise. That is, if the weather is cold enough to hold the ice. It could well be the first weekend of ice there. It could also well be my first time on long track skates since last year. I really want to skate long track this year, not that I'd be tremendously better at it than I am at short track, but the few times I've skated at the oval, I have enjoyed it more than short track. I enjoy being outside, I enjoy the longer strokes and glide on the straights. That being said, I thought I'd enjoy skating a marathon on natural ice, and we all know how THAT turned out...
Five weeks ago, I was approaching my fitness goal, and was looking forward to a nice vacation before training on the ice. I had a few ice sessions and was starting to feel like I could do some training. Our trip was relaxing, even though our daughter came down with an ear infection, and then Strep throat. This kid is such a trooper, with lots of sleep and Tylenol, she managed to rally and enjoy herself every day. A quick visit to the urgent care once we got off the plane in Albany, a trip to the pharmacy, and presumably, we'd be back to normal. Our older boys are past the age where they get ear infections, and, since we were back in town, I'd be right on top of any sign of Strep. What I didn't see coming, and really who does, was novel H1N1 for the whole family, followed immediately by a high energy interaction between a 150 lb TV set and a 58 lb 8 yr old. The TV set was undamaged. Not so much with the 8 yr old.

Hmmm... I guess we can cross skis off her Christmas list. The smile was Codeine induced. The first two weeks were rough, but once she got a new, lighter cast on and the xrays this week showed that the bones were beginning to knit together, we were all much happier.
I returned her skates and skin suit to the club this week, so it looks like it's just me skating this season. Which brings me to this week. After some sleepless nights while the kids were fighting 103 degree fevers, I've spent a week sleeping on the floor next to the couch, a week sleeping in the guest bed when we managed to get our daughter moved upstairs, and finally this week sleeping in my own bed. I've been living on coffee, Halloween candy, prepackaged snacks, and pizza. We are so indebted to our family and friends, who came to our rescue with meals, and sitting services so that we could return to work while our daughter is recuperating. Now that our life is a little more calm, I'm thinking about skating.
Five weeks.....I can feel it, pudgy and slow. In one of my last posts, I mentioned needing a goal. I'm very goal oriented. This Marathon would be a great goal. I've never skated more than 9000 meters at a time, and that was on a 111 meter rink, and this season I haven't done more than a few laps at a time while I'm coaching. How to train for the entry event of Marathon skating, the 10K? I think fitness level is the key. I won't be able to get much continuous skating in during our Tues/Thur sessions but perhaps during the more lightly attended Wed sessions. Times for this event range from 15 to 38 minutes. I'm shooting for a 30 minute finish. I think it's much like training for a 5K, which for me used to be slightly more than a 30 minute continuous effort.
With that in mind, I have some very specific things I need to accomplish. First, I have to drop the weight I have put back on in the past five weeks. Second, I need to get back to my pre vacation/flu/medical emergency fitness level. These go hand in hand. I have my bike set up in the basement, waiting for me, and a slide board right next to it, gathering dust. Third, and possibly the hardest, is to get enough ice time and specifically, continuous skate time to be able to skate a 10K. Squeezing in some training while I'm coaching on T/TH and longer sessions on Wednesday nights until the oval opens, then at least 1 session at the oval before the Marathon should allow me to complete the 10K. Skating a 10K would force me to address my issues in the turns. Once I get comfortable doing these long track crossovers and keep my fitness level up, I should be able to skate other events. Participation and completion, that's the goal this year.
Sounds like a plan...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ice is Nice, but Sun is Fun!

You are looking at our late afternoon routine this past week. We've been in Siesta Key, FL, for a little R & R. For the past five or six years, our family has been learning to live "more economically ", due to layoffs, job changes, location changes, and the economy. We've been lucky to have relatives in Northerneastern coastal locations who have graciously invited us to stay with them in the summer. That leaves a long, cold, and frequently dark winter with no breaks for us. Don't get me wrong, our family loves winter, we sled, snowshoe, and two of us speedskate. Downhill skiing is beyond us now financially, but used cross country skis are cheap, and the skiing is (usually) free, so we plan to take up that sport as well.

When friends of ours, who have a daughter in our daughter's class, asked if we might like to join them in their parent's TWO condos on Siesta Key, we jumped at the offer. We cashed in the last of our frequent flyer miles and launched our family on a wonderful, warm, and relaxing trip south.
October is not a terribly popular month to visit Florida, for reasons I don't understand. It was warm and sunny every day. We had rain for a short time on the last two days, which didn't interfere with anything we did. The evenings were the best, though. Doing our best to avoid the damaging rays of the sun, we limited our swimming to mornings and late afternoon, each time with plenty of sunblock. Even so, we got plenty of "color"! The waters of the Gulf of Mexico were warm and clear, with just enough surf to make it fun for the kids. The sunsets were spectacular, even more so with a glass of Chardonnay! Most nights we had to pull the kids out of the water because we could no longer see them. Siesta Key is famous for it's white sandy beaches, which are mostly quartz, and have been ground to a flour like consistancy. It also makes great sand castles, and the kids made all sorts of creations.

For four days, we did little more than sleep late, have coffee, float in the pool, eat and nap, do a little shopping (Sarasota Goodwill, plenty of bargains, LOL!), and sit on the beach. Our youngest was sick (as it turned out upon returning, QUITE sick) but with lots of rest, tylenol, and motrin, was able to have fun with her siblings and her best friend from school. I put in one night of work, but other than that, I didn't think about work or skating.
I return to the cold north tan and rested, and unfortunately a few pounds heavier. I had intended to workout every day, but the pace in Florida is much slower. I did swim laps one day, but my heart wasn't in it. I am energized though and ready to start training again. Goal, I need a goal, has anyone seen one I could use?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I ran the blog through Wordle ( and this is the word cloud that emerged. Pretty neat huh? Right now my head resembles this cloud, any number of things swirling around, certain topics rise to the top. It is actually therapeutic to view this. I wonder what it will look like at the end of the skating season?
I'm very busy these days, reading and writing, morping myself back into a grad student. As always trying to keep everything in balance....

Friday, September 4, 2009

First week of the rest of my life

Whew, I survived the first week of classes ( hat #2), a full week of weights for training ( hat #3), and collected all my articles that have been assigned for the upcoming week in the class I'm taking (hat #4), and managed to be at home and present mentally while my kids and husband were awake (yes....hat #1). This is apparently, how my life is going to be for at least the next 5 years. When my kids start back at school next week, I'll have to carve myself up into a few more slices. The thing is, though, that wearing any one of these hats to the exclusion of the others, induces great instability in the wearer (me).

I know this from experience. I test this theory regularly, and it always holds up. This week, I was able to wear each hat for just enough time, but it was tough. In the past year, I've bagged going to the gym for a few days, in favor of getting "just a few more things done" until the days became weeks and soon I had packed on quite a bit on extra insulation. Every day this week I forced myself put down my work for an hour and got a workout in, I was very glad I did. For me, exercising "resets" my internal balance. I am much more productive and less anxious for the rest of the day.

This summer I have worked hard to get rid of the excess baggage. I had an injury at the start of the summer which essentially scared me straight. I was able to rehab on my own, rediscover my love of distance swimming, develop a no nonsense nutrition strategy, drop half the total weight I need to get rid of, and put alot of miles on my bike. Fantastic! I went for a fast ( for me) 20 miler on Friday that seemed to be over way too soon. I'm finally ready to start "training" September. Normally, I would expect to be in this phase, say, in April, leaving the rest of the summer to build volume and intensity, and finish with sport specific training, so that by the time regular ice season starts, I'm ready to work hard. Only, for me, it never seems to work that way. One thing or another gets in the way and only 1 year out of 5 was I really "ready" for the ice in September.

Rather than panic, I'm now old enough to accept my limitations, and realize that I need to keep myself in fairly good overall shape, since I can no longer do the running, low walking, squatting, and low dry skating I used to do. I can, however, increase my aerobic fitness, my flexibility, my overall strength, using the sports I can still do, with the time I have (about 5-7 hrs a week) so that I can continue skating, and continue to enjoy it. Short track competition is probably a thing of the past for me, but Long Track beckons, and THAT ice doesn't start until mid December.....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I've been away for a few weeks, figuratively and literally. Away, out of town, out of state, on "vacation". I liken getting ready to leave on vacation this year to Odysseus' journey back to Ithaca, fraught with setback after setback, sometimes brought on by our own pride. Eventually Odysseus did return to his rocky home, and like our hero, we eventually reached our rocky destination. Thanks to the cavernous trunk of Nick's Ford Taurus sedan, we were able to get clothes for 5 people for two weeks, an aerobed, 2 gym bags, Nick's suit ( mid vacation meeting, ughh) laptops ( who goes on vacation without them these days...), 3 cases of diet Vernor's Gingerale, purchased in Michigan as a surprise for my mother in law, and my bike. That last item was going to be left behind, but Nick insisted I bring it. (THANK YOU!!!).

I wish I had taken a picture of the trunk fully loaded, Rubik's cubes were easier to solve. I was debating loading the bike, thinking instead I'd do ALOT of swimming, but the morning after we arrived in Rhode Island, I did a double take as I walked through the garage out to the car. That's nice, I thought, someone took my bike out and put it back together. Then I realized it wasn't my bike! There was someone else at the cottage who brought their bike too! An hour later, Jerry, my stepsister's boyfriend and I were spinning happily on the first of our 3 early morning rides to Watch Hill. Despite looking a bit like Mutt and Jeff, we were well matched speed wise, and pushed each other to keep the pace up. On the more quiet roads we were able to converse as well, and had some great discussions about family, injuries, and God's role in our lives. Riding with Jerry allowed me to ramp up my riding and I logged over 100 miles that first week. I also managed to squeeze in a long swim one day as well, in the almost tropical waters off Quonnie. I even rode in the rain one day after Jerry departed for the Vineyard, uphill, both ways..... at least it seemed both ways at the time. On each of these rides I reclaimed something I had left behind two years ago, a faster spin, sitting in the saddle for an hour or more, popping up out of the saddle for short climbs, shifting without thinking, it was all good. I could have easily continued this schedule for another week, or more.

We split our vacation time between my parents, so after a week of riding, relaxing on the beach, and trying to outsmart the dampness in the cottage, we shuffled up to Maine. Riding in Georgetown, Maine, isn't as easy as riding in Rhode Island, but again, I was able to reclaim the ability to climb without my knees falling apart afterwards. I did get to ride out on a quiet peninsula, past several Andrew Wyeth like farms. It was very peaceful, but hot and humid, unseasonably hot and humid, the hottest weather of the season in Maine, so the day after my ride, we elected to spend inside. Next year I'm going to explore the routes north of Bath.

Once I got back home, things got crazy for a few days, and I didn't get a ride in until Tuesday, when I had a few hours to myself. It was wonderful and I have no idea where I went, I headed north for about 5 miles, then east for a few, back north a few more, east, and so on, grabbing views of the ridge line just west of me, and then the bigger mountains on the edge of Vermont to the east of the Hudson. The air was warm and humid, and whatever was in bloom cast off a sweet almond smell that hit me full force when the breeze dropped. I remember backpacking on the Long Trail in Vermont and catching that same scent on hot August days. I eventually zigzagged my way home with 25 miles logged onto my cycle computer and in a great mood.
Now it's Friday, and I've been at working the past few days and haven't gotten to ride or swim, and I'm starting to get grumpy. The fall semester starts on Monday, and I've 150 or so students coming through my lab next week. I'm going to have to ( gasp) ride indoors tomorrow or I might bite someone's head off. I also have to figure out how I'm going to get some riding and weight training in at work. Priorities....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Training Interrupted...

Yesterday (actually, two days ago, read on...) started out beautifully, we were very productive in the morning, getting our house ready for the renters, and when we could stand being inside no longer, we had the rest of the warm, clear day to enjoy the outside. I swam on the cable for 20 minutes then hopped on my bike, with just enough time for a 15 mile ride before we had to leave for dinner with friends. I'm gradually ramping up my mileage and speed, but until I can ride for a few hours each time at a decent pace, I've found that combining swimming with riding allows me to get the aerobic benefit without stressing my knee unduly. Today (two days ago) was the first day I was able to bike right after swimming.

Riding in the warm, sweet, August sun just after swimming was a treat. My hair kept me cool for at least 30 minutes. Riding north, I had the sun at my left shoulder. I spun in my middle chain ring for most of the ride, taking joy at the increasing speed. After turning around I was lost in the middle of a thought when I rolled over a large rock in the breakdown lane. Rookie Mistake #1. Keep your eyes on where you are going. I continued on and waited..... hmmm maybe it won't flat and I'll be lucky. Drats, seconds later I was riding on the rim. Sighing audibly I pulled over, hopped off the bike, and started taking off the front wheel. The tube was out in a jiffy, thanks to my speed lever. Here is where I KNOW better, Rookie Mistake #2. I had forgotten to put a spare tube in my pack. Tubes are cheap, and I usually keep 1 in my pack and several at home, but I not only forgot to pack one, I also had used up the ones at home. @#$%$#@. I did have a patch kit, though and two patches left, so I put some air in the tube and opened up my water bottle and found the snake bite pinch, or I should say I found MOST of it, because right after I patched it and put the tube back in, zipped the tire back on the rim with the speed lever, inflated it with my CO2 cartridge, and put it back in the fork, it was flat again @@#&$!!!@#%&. By this time I had used up most of my alloted ride time, so I grabbed my phone and called for my support team (Nick). While I waited, I found the small hole that I had missed, millimeters away from the edge of the patch, and put a patch over THAT, and reinflated the tube, just to be sure. Not sure why I did that, because now the tube is horribly bumpy and won't be very good to ride on, but I wasn't going to let it get the best of me.

Fast forward a few hours and we are enjoying deckside dining up on the ridge at our friend's house, looking down at the Hudson Valley, as the sun gently dipped behind the ridge line. We'd been here two days before celebrating their oldest son's graduation from highschool, but things were hectic and we really had missed talking with each other, and they had tons of food leftover! Never ones to refuse a free meal and some great conversation back up we went. Somehow peanuts and conversation go hand in hand and there was plenty of both. All of us dug in heartily to the leftovers, but by the end of the meal I started to feel like I had been hit HARD in the stomach, every 45 sec or so. After hanging out for an hour or so, relaxing, I figured it was just too many beans, but when I stood up I nearly fell flat on my face. Again, probably too many beans, but I really needed to get home, if you know what I mean. This wasn't beans.

I'm a scientist by trade, and my training has been in bacterial infections, specifically, pediatric respiratory infections, but I've been teaching Microbiology at the college level for several years, and one of the things I make sure my students understand is the difference between food "poisoning" and food bourne "intoxication". Without giving you all one of my lectures, I clearly was suffering from food bourne "intoxicaton". Rapid onset of violent symptoms. The toxin was very quick acting, affecting my stomach as soon as it hit. I did manage to make it home before "reverse peristalsis" set in, along with a bunch of other textbook symptoms that were with me the entire night until I passed out, literally, after I crawled to the couch. Two days later I've managed to rehydrate myself, and eat some solid food. I'm fairly certain the toxin I ingested was on the peanuts I ate. Everyone else had the same food, but I ate the most peanuts (Just typing this is making me queasy). I've lost almost two days of cleaning the house for our renters who are arriving this weekend, two days of getting ready for our vacation, and two days of riding and swimming. There was no way I could do more than drag myself around the house until this afternoon, so I've "lost" a few days, and a few pounds, gained some stress, and I won't be eating peanuts anytime soon.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Soreness and a breakthrough

I've been trying to squeeze in double workouts as much as possible this past week, meaning I bike, then swim. Eventually I'll combine them, so that I swim first, then hop on my bike, but for now I usually have a few hours between workouts, which is perfectly fine, since I'm still in rehab. The main limitation for me in the past few months has been what my knee will handle. At first even 30 minutes of very light spinning caused it to swell and become painful, so 90% of my riding has been just getting the knee to flex and extend over and over again for 30 minutes. Which means that I have to go maddeningly slow and a maddeningly small gear. This all changed yesterday.

I'd had a peek at a longer spin earlier, and I was worried that I'd pay for it, but I got home and iced and didn't hear from my knee for the rest of the day. Aha.... my NEXT ride would be a full hour I thought, and it will be GREAT. Then, life stepped in and projects around the house needed doing, the rain and wind howled, kid needed to be entertained, and I just couldn't envision riding for an hour on my clunky old road bike in the basement.

Well, the stars were aligned yesterday and I got my hour long ride in, and I even snuck out of the granny gear and spun along the flats for a bit at a decent pace. I was religious about gearing down when I felt pressure on my knee, and actually finished the ride under an hour, so I tooled around a few neighborhoods until my time was up. Again, I iced the knee and it was very quiet all day. During the day, my neighbor and I decided to run the first annual Brookview Terrace Kids Mini Triathlon, to amuse our children. My daughter and her daughter are going to participate in the Fronhofer Kids Tri on Saturday and we thought they should have a taste of what it's going be be like. Along the way, we seemed to collect 4 more children, until, at the end of run stage, I think I had 9 kids at my house! I shooed them all home minutes before my friend Lisa showed up for our swim at Lake Desolation (coined Lake Destination by my daughter, who at 8 is still coming up with funny malpropisms).

The swim should have been great, the water was warm, there were plenty of people, and when I have a double workout, in the past, I am usually loose and relaxed for the second workout. This time, I fought it the entire way. My stroke was short and choppy, and I kept inhaling water. I was 2 minutes slower than last week, a clear indication I wasn't swimming efficiently. I also was hungry. I don't remember ever thinking about food while I swam, but tonight, that's all I could think of! When I finished, I swam with the kids for a bit, then we all headed up to the deck at Tinney's to eat dinner and watch the sun go down on the lake. A lovely young couple and their 16 mo old daughter joined us. They had recently moved here from Florida and were both looking for jobs in the area. The view and the conversation and the baby's antics were enough to distract us from our nearly hour wait for our order. Tinney's is immensely popular on Thursday!

I noticed that I was unusually tired when I got home, but I still wasn't aware of the cause. When I fell into bed I had a minute to reflect on the day. It was then I remembered what this overall tiredness was. I finally exerted enough effort for a long enough time to tire my body out, I remember this! The tiredness was GOOD! The combination of riding and swimming did it, I finally hit on an intensity level that tired me out but didn't negatively affect my knee. This is tremendous.
Today, I will enjoy the overall muscle soreness, because it is a sign of good things, not injury. It's time to start training.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something to be said for NOT paying attention

I'd love to write that while I was riding I was so in the "zone" that I forgot to pay attention to how long I was riding, but, that wasn't the case this morning. Sometimes I really, truly do get so focused I get lost in the ride, but I'm afraid my inattention was a direct result of my activities last night. I spent the first half of my ride wondering if just around the bend would be a good place to pull of and discharge whatever was left in my stomach from last night's margharita and mexican food soire'. No names will be mentioned, the guilty know who they are. You see, I'm kind of out of practice for these events, and although I had the sense to stop by 8pm, the damage was done. Too much sugar, too much tequila, too fast. As predicted, no amount of coffee this morning could clear my head. This, however, proved to work to my advantage.

Sometimes, you just have to get on and ride, which is what I did, and by the time I decided that I wasn't going to have to stop, I was well past my halfway point, timewise, in my scheduled ride. Seeing an inviting, wooded, stretch of gently undulating roadway, I thought, okay, I'll go until I reach an intersection, because I can be a little OCD about leaving things half done. Along the way back, it occured to me that this was a REALLY nice road to ride on. Well paved, nice breakdown lane, lovely, damp forest smell, and look, there's a horse, and another one. Wow, I am having a nice time. I want to ride this road again, and maybe go past my turnaround point, I wonder what the next few miles would reveal. I spun back home with a smile on my face, and checked my summary file on my bike computer. I increased my ride time by 1.5x, kept my speed to a reasonable rate ( I measure it in KMH so I don't choke at how slow I am ACTUALLY going right now), and yikes, look at the time! Didn't I leave at 9:30 like I usually do? How did it get to be 11:15? Oh yeah.... I slept in a bit today...

The rest of the day was delightful, cavorting at Tripp Lake, pictured above ( picture taken from with the kids, and evening mass. I don't think I'll utilize today's method of training much, but I am going to try to just go out and enjoy the ride more often.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thank you, Rachael

I had a great swim last night, largely thanks to Rachael, who happens to swim almost exactly the same speed as I do. With the Lake Placid Ironman looming this weekend, our numbers were down for the swim, which meant no kayakers to accompany us. I'm okay with that, having made the swim twice, I'm gaining confidence. Rachael and I were the only non wetsuited swimmers, which makes us, coincidently, the swimmers most at risk. Have you ever swam in a wet suit? It's virtually impossible to drown. If you are in trouble, all you need to do is turn over on your back and let the wind blow you to shore. Even your swim cap, which traps some air, affords you some bouyancy. Rachael and I started out together, with an unspoken agreement between us, that we wouldn't lose sight of each other. As always in open water, my first few minutes are a bit frantic, my stroke count is high and I go into O2 debt pretty quickly. Somewhere around minute 5, I realize what I've been doing and make a conscious effort to increase my glides and relax. However, when I did that Rachael would pull away. I am, at heart, a competitive person, and I love a chase, and to be chased. It makes me work harder. Now, everyone's first impulse, when trying to go faster is to move faster, and work harder. In running, people tend to move their legs faster, in swimming, they increase their stroke count, in skating, the tendancy is to revert to shorter quicker strokes. I have found, though, as I age, it's better to work SMARTER, not harder. A theory I try to apply to every sport I participate in. So, fighting the impulse to start flailing away, I tried to remember all the Total Immersion drills, and made an effort to swim more quietly, and really make sure the weight transfer with my hips was timed to match the dive of my incoming hand. Did you know there is weight transfer in swimming? There is, and it makes a huge difference.

Even after practicing this in the pool I still find it hard to put into practice in an open water swim, especially in a race situation. But, as much as I could, I swam very consciously and purposefully, trying to make the most out of every stroke. I could feel the surge ahead as I lengthened out. I am graced with a long body and arms, and although I am not lean, I am "leaner" than I was a few months ago. This, I believe, was the sole advantage I had, all other parameters being roughly equal. Rachael was about 8" shorter than I was.

On and on we swam, at times I pulled ahead, and at times she led me, until we got to the island, our turnaround point. It had taken us 17 minutes, with no stops. We paused briefly, then headed back. 17 minutes to the shore, 1 stop when we collided with a group heading out. Oops! The swim was beautiful, because neither of us wanted to get left behind, yet neither of us could pull that far ahead, so we kept each other going. I swam steadily for 35 minutes, about 0.9 mile. Very nice for an evening workout. Top it off with a Saranac and a chicken salad with friends at Tinney's and it made for a great time. Thanks again Rachael, hope we can swim together next week too. Today is a rest day, as I'm tired from pushing the mower up and down our hill and my swim.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bright Idea

Faced once again with having to be creative with my workout, this time, due to weather concerns, I decided that the best course of action today would be to get my ride in EARLY. Since I had an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon at 9, I thought that riding TO the appointment would kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Then I remembered that the route would take me cross town, during morning commute, and thought better of it. Stop and go, it would probably take me the better part of an hour, and wouldn't prove anything. I could ride one of my usual routes.....yawn..... No, what made the most sense, really, would be to put my bike IN the car, drive to the Dr.'s office early, then ride out and back, clack my way into the office, sweaty and stinky. What doctor wouldn't appreciate that?
I picked one of the east-west arteries that feed the small city of Saratoga Springs, and in the mist and light rain, I pedaled westward. The mist wasn't too bad, and I noticed, with some satisfaction, that my average speed was up. Now, I'm a numbers person, and I love gadgets that provide me with data, so I resolved to keep my average speed at this new level. Bright Idea.

I arrived back at the office with 10 minutes to spare, and breezed into the waiting room, damp and sweaty. The actual appointment was brief, the Dr. was pleased that I was biking and swimming, cautioned me to ramp up my workouts slowly, and said I didn't need to come back until I either re injured myself ( always a possibility) or I wanted to get that meniscus trimmed. Fantastic, and I nearly skipped out of the office. I'm sure they had to deodorize the room after I left, I think my shorts and shirt were capable of standing by them selves.

Down the stairs and out to the car, and that's when I felt the first twinge. By the time I got home, my knee was very stiff and sore. Bright Idea to maintain the increased average speed, eh? Apparently, recovery is going to proceed VERY slowly. Ice and ibuprofen, my old friends, here I come once again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

10 Feet of Rope, 2 Bungee Cords, and A Belt

The exercise addiction has kicked in, like I knew it would. It's a good disorder to have, every day, looking forward to that "fix". I especially like cross training, or multisport training, because every day I do something different. With no gym membership, and a restriction on running, I'm left with cycling and swimming, and weight training. I'm also at home with at least 3 children, sometimes 5 or 6, depending on the day. We seem to collect them, which is fine with me, but I have to plan my training time around who is coming and when,and sometimes things happen at the last minute. This morning was an example of the usual "unusualness"of my life. I offered to watch a friend's child while she worked for the morning. The arrangement came about after a flurry of texting early in the morning. It's a win win situation, my daughter is entertained, and the mom gets to work for the morning. We were both going to the movies with our kids after lunch anyway.

Now, here is where I get creative. I can't leave the kids to go on my ride, however, we do have a backyard pool, which gets used almost every day from May to September by the kids, and occasionally by us adult types when we can't stand the heat, or, after mowing. Swimming laps in the pool, however, is not a whole lot of fun, possibly less fun than, say, riding on rollers in a damp basement, another activity I studiously avoid. to the garage to dig around for some bits and pieces of things, and here is what I found:

Doesn't look like much, does it? It's actually a high tech swimming training aid, in disguise. I tied the rope to the fence, hitched 2 bungee cords together, and hooked the bungee cords to the belt, which was around me. In I went, and off I swam. 20 minutes on the cords and 10 minutes of laps. All this while the kids were swimming. Yay for me. Now, to work on the weight training without stressing the knees...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wither thou, O Athlete

After wallowing for a year or so in self pity, and reinventing myself as, more or less, a full time college instructor, I found myself unemployed this summer. Hrupmph. No time like the present to get back in shape, I figured. Off I went for a run. The last run I would ever take, apparently. Whether I had a previous injury or the run caused the injury I won't know, but about $1400 worth of exams, XRays, and MRI's later, and the diagnosis ( drum roll....) meniscus tear. OK! Those are repairable, I know, because I tore the meniscus 3/4 of the way around on the OTHER knee and most of it was able to be stitched back on.

Noticing the furrowed brow on the surgeon's face, I then deduced we weren't through yet. We both peered thoughtfully at the Xrays and the MRI report. "Hmmm....see this here ( pointing to the top of my tibia on the Xray) and this here ( now the other tibia)?"

"Yes..." I replied slowly...trying to seem like I was following this.

"You have some pretty serious osteoarthritis going on in these knees, how much pain are you in on a daily basis?"

"Ummmmm......" not wanting to admit that even sitting for short periods causes my knees to ache horribly.

"You know..... ummm, your weight has alot to do with the stress you are putting on your knees, and, errr, you are, let's see....a good 40lbs over weight right now"

Great, thanks for that, I thought. Something I didn't already know. Actually, he was being nice, it was more like 50.

Back and forth we went, and I asked for a month or two to drop some weight and start exercising again before we started talking meds and arthroscopy. He agreed, as long as I never ran again, and cycled, for the time being, on the flats, for short periods of time. We shook hands and I made my next appointment, ego stinging smartly.

Back at home, I pondered.... what to do..... how to drop the to get back in shape..... Well, the first is obvious, eat less. Check! Actually this proved easier than I expected. I eat every 2-3 hrs, very small amounts of food, nothing that isn't fresh, lots of veggies, etc. The second objective required more thought. Biking, at first, just irritated the injury, so I started out with 10 minute spins on the bike, comical, when you consider it takes me almost that time to find my gear, put it on and get ON the bike. I have a pool, but swimming laps in the backyard pool is torture, and I can't afford a Y membership, so where to swim, where to swim.... Enter my saviors, the Saratoga Tri Club. Open water swimming, FUN! So once a week, I swim about a mile, out to an island and back. This week my friend from speedskating, Lisa, joined me. She's a tremendous endurance athlete and had no trouble with the swim. I'd like to do this more often, but I won't swim alone, so I'll have to find another form of exercise to round out this training. As a bonus, I also will not have to give up Triathlons, which I find enormously fun, thanks to Jayne Williams. I can just do the swim and bike portions! Some races even have an "Aquabike" category. This way I will be able to do both Sprint and Olympic distances. I'm pondering the Lake George Oly this Sept...... Here's where we swim, beautiful, isn't it?

As far as speedskating, I probably won't be skating much short track, but I should be able to be on the rink to coach. Once again, I hope to be able to compete in long track this year. I've still got a good 30 lbs to shed and alot of endurance to gain, but I may just be able to be an athlete again.