Lessons in Laughing at Oneself

Don’t get me wrong; I take my training very seriously.  I execute my training plan as if it were my job and I don’t miss a workout without first consulting my coach. But… life is full of ups and downs.  Some days, I am ON.  I churn out completed homework, I say all of the right things in therapy sessions, I nail my workout… I even rock at walking my dog!  Other days, I seem to be running low on awesomesauce.  I accidentally brew hot water instead of coffee (turns out that coffee grounds are actually REQUIRED), I put on a pair of pants that I think are black and realize that they are actually a gray/green color when I’m in office lighting (why would you even make pants that color?  seriously?  WHAT do those go with?), and I forget to even take my dog on a walk so that the poor little guy has to cross his paws for 6 hours (please don’t call PETA).

Sometimes, having even just one “bad” workout can make me feel like I’m having a totally off day.  I deal with this by trying to dichotomize (good/bad) workouts less, and laugh/smile more.  I often find when I’m tired that I only have two speeds in the pool:  slow, slightly less slow.  It’s very disappointing to finish a 400m interval during which you put forth a hard effort and discover that your average pace was only about 2 seconds faster than your warm up pace.  *Sigh*  Okay, that sucks but I work hard!  Sometimes I’m tired!  And I’m not exactly a “swimmer” so… it’s actually kind of funny if you think about it, right?  I mean, I picture myself as some sort of cartoonish chick in a pink swimsuit, flailing about with determination while being lapped by 80-year-olds with snorkels on.  Actually, I haven’t been lapped by that guy for like a year but it did happen, once.   And just when the humor is about to wear off, I have a great workout in the pool and my self-esteem is somewhat restored.  Not that I’m fast on those days either, though.  haha… just watch out for me in the bike leg. 😉

Then there are those days when I take on new challenges and I don’t exactly succeed in the strictest, most traditional sense.  For example, I had the pleasure of riding with Rachel Jastrebsky, a newly minted professional triathlete.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned her before, but just in case you don’t live and die by my every word…  Anywho, I invited myself to tag along on her workout so we rode together for 3.5 hours in the cold and the wind and the rain… and by “rode together” I mean “I made multiple desperate attempts to hang on to her back tire but only succeeded in watching her get further and further away.”  It was kind of disappointing to make it no more than about 20 minutes into a ride before losing my riding buddy (at least somewhat – she stopped to wave me down at every turn – thanks, Rachel!) but I tried to embrace the suck that is 15mph (or whatever it was) winds and find a bit of a rhythm.  As I worked to keep Rachel within my sights I found myself composing a lovely tune (I often end up singing or playing music in my head to keep my cadence up) in her honor.  It went something like this:  Chasing Rachel, itty bitty Rachel.  Chasing Rachel cuz she’s way up there.  I know I used a familiar tune but I can’t figure out WHAT tune it is so feel free to use your imagination.  So, I know it’s ridiculous and goofy but, honestly, that little song made me smile and kept me going.  There was a time in my life/training when I would have created a song with a few more expletives and calling it a song may have actually been a stretch but this weekend I was workin’ those little pedals as best I could, chasing a professional triathlete through the wet and windy roads of Pungo and it was kind of hilarious.

And then last night… oooooh the first day of Spring!  It also kicked off the first official group ride of the season from Final Kick Sports.  I was kind of excited.  New season.  New bike.  I raced well last year.  I thought “maybe I’ll be less of a joke to the other cyclists.”  I though “now they know I’m for real and not just some crazy, careless person who is going to cause a wreck.”  The ride was going well.  I hung to the back with my tired legs and with my slight fear of group riding on my new bike but I was getting a good workout and having an excellent time.  Things were really going well and I was looking forward to the 5 mile run off the bike with my coach and another training buddy, Shawn.  Maybe that’s what I was thinking about when I fell over sideways on my bike… at a complete stop.  It happened in a sort of slow-motion lack of coordination meets gravity kind of way.  I had my left foot unclipped, which is the foot that I always unclip, but for some reason my body weight decided to lean just a bit too much to the right.  I tried to unclip my right foot at the last second, which seems like it should have been possible what with time being slowed down and all, but instead I just toppled over, landing in the turn lane with a thud.  I struggled to get back up as I couldn’t quite get my foot unclipped from the pedal with the full weight of my bike on top of it.  I imagine that I looked a bit like a beetle flipped over on it’s back, wiggling my legs in a disorganized fashion in a frantic attempt to right myself.  Did I mention there was a car behind us and the light had since turned green?  *sigh*  Eventually, (actually, rather quickly but boy did it seem like forever) I picked myself back up and rode the rest of the way back with Dai (who was the only one who waited for me).  The only damage was a scrape to my knee and a bit of a snag on the pad on the right side of my handle bar… oh and my pride.  haha.  I hammered it back to Final Kick, determined to make the workout really count but knowing that any respect I may have gained since last year was totally gone.  I mean, I didn’t exactly have cool points to spare, ya know?

The plus side of all of this is that I think it has real entertainment value AND I think that having a good sense of humor can really enhance one’s psychological durability.  Negative emotions are just that:  negative.  There’s not really much of a place for those in training nor in a joyful life, in general.  Do I wish I could have turned gravity off for a few seconds during yesterday’s ride?  Yes.  But since that wasn’t an option, I’m going to laugh at the experience.  And you know what?  I don’t need anybody’s respect to be good at what I do so I’ll keep training hard, aiming high and believing in myself.  And laughing.  I’ll be doing lots of that, too.

Blue Skies Smiling at Me!

 

 

NO MORE FUNK!  I have Dai Roberts Group to thank for that. 🙂  I spent the last five days in Apex, North Carolina with Dai and Denise Roberts, as well as several other athletes.  We trained on the Raleigh 70.3 course.  We rested.  We ate.  We trained on the NC hills.  We rested. We ate.  I didn’t have to cook.  I didn’t have to clean.  I rode well.  I ran well.  I rested well (for the most part – hotels are always rough).  My confidence is being rebuilt, piece by piece.  It was also very good to share time with like-minded individuals (a.k.a. triathletes) and it was refreshing to socialize in the evening while still getting plenty of rest since, usually, I’m overworked, overtired and sitting along with a lovely though not very empathic or talkative dog.

Image

The gang before we headed out to ride 70 miles on the Raleigh course.  We were joined by Rachel and Brian Jastrebsky who just happened to be in the area for a wedding.  Rachel is beginning her first season as a professional triathlete and both she and Brian are on the Zoot Ultra Team.  I’m so glad they joined us!  Rachel’s down to earth conversation and positive attitude made the ride much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise!

Image

On Sunday, we ran the Raleigh 70.3 run course (or at least as much of it as has been identified thus far).  There were definitely some serious hills and, for a Midwestern girl who was raised in the flat heart of Illinois, it was an eye-opening experience!  I ran 12 miles (obviously not the entire course) at an average pace near 8:15 without pushing myself particularly hard the day after a 70 mile ride so I was also pleased with the morning.

Image

I wouldn’t say that these are the most nutritious post-workedout snacks but after we rode another 35 miles on the Raleigh course on Monday, Bill helped himself to some thin mint cookies, Sarah enjoyed the gorgonzola flavored crackers and I went for the classic mini pretzels.  What can I say?  I was hungry and it was there.

Image

As of this morning, Deb and I were the last two athletes standing!  Other folks returned earlier for work and life, etc., but we hung in there until the end!  Dai found a lovely loop around a lake for us to run along.  Another hilly 8 miles in the books for me, though the loop seemed relatively flat compared to the previous days’ runs!

It was great to have several days in a row on the new bike.  The TARDIS (that’s her name – extra cool points to those who know where it came from) and I are getting along now (btw, I bought a new bike – don’t think I mentioned that but I am now the proud owner of my very own tri bike!).  I learned how to better handle hills on the bike (when to shift, when to stay in aero, when to sit up) and I learned that I may have been under eating over the last few weeks.  It seems that, as I’ve tried to eliminate most processed foods from my diet, I was failing to eat enough whole grains to sustain me in my workouts.  Though individuals who subscribe to the Paleo diet will disagree, Coach Dai tells me that these grains are essential for sustaining the level of training that I wish to maintain and that it is especially important that I get them earlier in the day.  Grains aren’t entirely absent in my diet but I will be adding a bit more in the way of grains and a few more calories overall, too.  Perhaps that will help keep my mood and energy levels a bit more stable.

I have a big month with three races; two 5ks and an 8 miler.  The 8 miler is the only one that I intend to “race” in a way that requires me to take a few days off of strength training.  This weekend, I’m racing a local 5k and I intend to race hard but I’m not going to skip strength workouts to prepare for it.  The 8 miler is two weeks after that and then I’m racing another 5k on March 30th.  My church puts on a race each year around Easter called the “Resurrection 5k.”  Last year, the proceeds from the race built an entire medical center in Haiti!  This year, the funds will go to multiple sclerosis research.  This effort is being led by my friend Thomas Hicks and you can learn more about him, his fight with MS and the Resurrection 5k by clicking here.

I definitely think that the change of pace this week helped out quite a bit.  I’m also not sure that we would have so easily discovered that I was under eating if I hadn’t been able to spend so much time around my coach in a short timeframe.  Now I know to be on the lookout for such things as nutrition deficits when I’m feeling overly fatigued, sad, cranky and frustrated.  I also believe that switching things up and getting more rest played a very significant role in this about-face so I will keep that in mind for the future as well!