A Year of Extremes

Extremes. That’s my theme for 2008.

I bought a card the other day that says:

Risk more than others think is safe.
Care more than others think is wise.
Dream more than others think is practical.
Expect more than others think is possible.
-Cadet Maxim

What I want to do this year is an extension of these ideas. For training, that means pushing everything beyond what makes sense and certainly beyond what’s easy and seeing what happens. From this, I am making a few simple commitments to myself.

My workout schedule will be as follows:

Monday: Swim (am), yoga (pm)
Tuesday: Run (am), Strength (pm)
Wednesday: Swim (am) or Off
Thursday: Run (am), Texas Iron (pm)
Friday: Swim (am), Strength (am)
Saturday: Bike (am)
Sunday: Run (am)

Sometimes Texas Iron calls for a combo workout on weekends or even mid-week, so this plan may be modified slightly, but the general plan is as I’ve described. This base plan provides for 13.5 hours a week, assuming that all the weekday workouts last only an hour (except for yoga, which is 90 minutes) and the weekend workouts last only two. In all likelihood, those are underestimations, which means I’d probably be getting closer to 16 hours of working out per week. This plan covers cardio, strength, and flexibility, which are three of the five components Jake discussed. The key will be sticking to it as closely as possible no matter what’s happening at work, regardless of whether my Ethan is in town for a movie premiere, or whether I’m on the road for whatever reason. I am finally keeping a training log, so I’ll be holding myself to this, and you’re welcome at any point to ask me to see the log. I welcome the accountability.

Nutrition is the fourth component. Jake would like me to be militant about what goes into my body. Since this is my year of extremes, I would like that as well. I’m focusing on whole foods and eliminating processed foods. My meals should focus on beans, nuts, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, yogurt, and little else. No Hot Tamales or other candies at work. No toaster waffles and syrup at home. No chips and salsa in restaurants. To help myself, I’m limiting my eating out to once per week, and I bought myself a slow cooker and some vegetarian slow cooker recipe books. I will figure out how to eat better than I do. I’m also planning to recruit Mom in this effort, as I’m sure she’ll be willing to help me pack meals and snacks that are consistent with what I’ve described. She’s super helpful that way.

The fifth component is professional assistance. I’ve got that down between Texas Iron and Jake. I just need to stick with what they tell me to do. For Texas Iron, that means doing a brick if that’s what the schedule for calls. For Jake, that means using the vitamins and supplements he recommends, no matter how smelly they seem or gross they taste.

The other piece I see is sleep. The older I get, the more of it I need. So this year, it’s early to bed and early to rise for me. The goal is home by 9:30 and in bed with the TV off or book put away by 10:30, no matter what night of the week. That way I can be up at 5:15 each day. (I’ll technically be violating this by being out New Year’s Eve, but this commitment will begin the evening of January 1.)

Some (aka Jenny Cook) would say that this plan will make me rather boring, and to some extent, I would have to agree. Still, though my nights of heavy drinking and partying until 3am are over for the time being, I think it’s safe to say that my social life and habits will not change all that much. I might see less of Hayes Carll this year, and I likely won’t hit the Alamo Drafthouse solo for a 10pm screening mid week, but I’ll still see the people I love, and I’ll get my fill of movies. It’ll be a good year.

If I make workouts my priority, am careful about what I put in my mouth, and give myself plenty of time to recover from the strain I’m putting on my body, I should be able to finish my race, manage my one pull up that I’ve always wanted to do, and perhaps be a tad closer to having abs like Jeanie. Now we’re dreaming!

Thanks to Fred and MJ for a great ride.

To borrow from Fred lingo, yesterday, I rang out the old year with a base ride on Parmer that lasted just over two hours. We rode almost 32 miles. There were 7 of us, and I was by far the slowest, but I think I did pretty well keeping up with the group. I wasn’t right with them, but I was pretty close. And MJ rode with me much of the time even though I know she can ride faster than I do. She is so sweet and always a joy to chat with during the rides.

It was cold, so I got to use my leg warmers and gloves for the first time on the bike. It made me appreciate all the cold winter biking gear I purchased in the fall of 2006 and, until yesterday, failed to use. I need to make sure I put them to good use this winter.

This morning, I intended to do my long run for the week, but I woke up feeling tender from my workout with Jake and decided that I would be better served by a day off and a New Year’s Day long run. So that’s the plan. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do by way of a workout on New Year’s Eve, but I’ll be running the next morning with my sister. Of course, after we made those plans, I read that it’s supposed to be ridiculously cold that morning. I guess I’ll be putting my cold winter running gear to good use too.

Jake hurt me this morning.

It started with a little simple jumping rope, but quickly morphed into craziness with foreign objects. Jake kept talking about explosive movements. You people know me. Is there anything explosive about how I move? Uh, no. And we did a lot of balance exercises and squats and lunges that were deeper than any squats and lunges that I’ve done before. It hurt. And now, just seven hours later, I can already tell that I’m getting sore. I’m curious as to what I’ll feel like tomorrow. Hopefully, I won’t be immobilized by the pain.

Thankfully, Jake forgot about the body fat measurements, and I, of course, did not remind him.

One fun part, aside from the good kind of pain, is that I get to collect more gadgets. Working out is very gadget/stuff intensive, whatever the sport. For this training, I need to invest in a jumprope, a stability ball, and cross training shoes. I don’t remember the last time I owned a jumprope. We did two minutes of jumping rope to warm up, and my heart was racing. It never occurred to me what a great workout that can be.

All in all, I think Jake’s going to be good for me.

The hardest 10 minute workout ever.

Tonight, we did a killer workout. It started nicely, with just a 15 minute warmup. Then we did drills and strides, which Jamie demonstrated for me. (One of the drills looks very much like a hip hop effort, which means I stink at it, but that’s another story for another time.) Then they had us run hard for one minute, stop and rest in place for one minute, run hard back for one minute, and rest for one minute. We repeated that five times so we had ten minutes of hard running, and it hurt. My heart was pounding, and I doubled over between runs trying not to get sick. Who would have thought that ten minutes could hurt so much? But it was good for me. My body is going to learn another “gear” if it kills me.

The most fun part of the workout was that I got to see my friend Judy. We met in 2000, either through Austin Fit or during the Austin marathon. I’m pretty sure it was during the Austin marathon, but we tell different stories on that issue, so who knows? Anyway, she was there, and we got to catch up. She was my initial inspiration for doing a half-Ironman, as I saw her do the Conroe half when I went with Jeanie the year before I tried it. Judy and I are close to the same speed running, though she’s a bit faster. Since I had run a marathon with her, it encouraged me to see her do and finish her half. She finished quite well. That’s when I talked myself into giving it a try. She continues to be my inspiration for doing a whole Ironman because she did Coeur d’Alene in, I think, 2006. It might have been 2005. I remember she sent me the video of her finish, so I got to see her energy and enthusiasm even after a long day’s work. She’s just very cool. She’s a huge perk of being involved with Texas Iron.

This has been a good week of workouts. On Christmas day, Caroline and I ran about 5 and a half miles together through her neighborhood. It was a beautiful, cold morning – a perfect way to start the day. I took yesterday off from working out (because the Texas Iron schedule actually called for taking Christmas day off). Tonight I did the hard run, and tomorrow morning I have my first real session with my new trainer.

Jake, the new trainer, is going to help with my strength training. Isn’t Jake the perfect name for a trainer? He seems like a nice guy who is extremely committed to what he does and who is unwilling to tolerate clients who are less committed than he is. I think that’ll be good for me. He talks about the five key elements, which he identifies as cardio, strength, flexibility, nutrition, and professional assistance. He’s going to help me on all of them, as his view is that I only have cardio down. I’ve committed to three months of working with him. We’re doing the caliper measurements in the morning, which will be no fun at all, but I expect it’ll all get better after that.

I’ve also been thinking quite a lot about 2008. I’ve decided to theme the year. More on that later.

Bike, Run, Swim to Christmas Eve

On Saturday, Poppe and I did a 90 minute mostly easy ride. There were a few gradual climbs, but nothing treacherous. It was my first time out on the road since the MS 150 in October. All in all, I felt good and had a great time back on the bike with my friend.

On Sunday, I did my first long run with Texas Iron. We started at the intramural fields. I did just under 12 miles in about 2 hours and 10 minutes. I got there a few minutes late, so I didn’t actually run with the group. I just followed the same course. We went through Hyde Park, campus, and downtown, and then took Lamar back to 38th street, to Guadalupe and back to the fields. I loved running through town rather than just on the trails. I think these runs will be good for me. I just need to be on time next week. When they say that they plan to start “promptly” at 7:15, they do mean promptly.

This morning, I thought I would hurt some, but I didn’t. I got up and did a swim – only 2000 meters. It’s likely the only swim I’ll be able to make this week given the modified holiday schedule, so I’m glad I made it.

All in all, I’m pleased with the last few days except that I’ve eaten a whole lot of garbage. My new trainer is going to be horrified by my food log. I need to curb my ingestion of sweets and get back to being better about what I eat.

Yesterday was double good…

Jenny Lloyd and I met early yesterday morning for a run. I think we did somewhere between 3 and 4 miles, but the best part was just getting to catch up with her. She has been such an encouragement to me through all this training madness. Despite working full time and having little Libby, she has continued to remain involved in my workouts, often meeting me for a portion of my long runs or meeting me at the gym for a swim. I owe her gratitude for her time and her enthusiasm for what I’m trying to do.

Then last night, I went to my second Texas Iron session. We did another trainer session, but this time it was led by Andrea. I spent a good bit of time watching her legs so that I could try to keep up with the speed of her turnover and, honestly, I just couldn’t do it. Her “easy” spin seemed to be 90 rotations per minute at least. And you can see each muscle as she moves. If I don’t finish this event but manage to develop a body even remotely like hers, I’d be thrilled! Well, maybe that’s not true because I’d be really bummed not to finish, but looking that good would be a welcomed side effect – a bonus to a successful finish.

Today was the first in a while that I managed two workouts. I’m going to need to do more of them, which I think should be doable in the coming months. Right now, my bigger issue is backing off the chocolate at the office. We have so much junk food in the office right now and I take in so much of it that I honestly feel like I need to drink water just to wash the sugar out of my system or at least try to dilute it. I need to back off the sweets, which I plan to do after tomorrow. I say tomorrow because tomorrow is my birthday, and I know Mom’s making what will be a phenomenal cake, so I’ll have cake and *then* I’ll back off.

No swim this morning due to temperature.

According to weather.com, it is 29 degrees in Cedar Park, so my swim is canceled. I’m disappointed about that, though I suppose it means I could crawl back into bed for another hour or so. Even so, I’d rather be swimming.

Yesterday, I ran by myself on Lady Bird Lake. It had been a while since I’d done that, as I’ve been really lucky lately to find people to run with, but I enjoyed it. The 4 mile loop (which I think is really 4.2 miles) took me 46 minutes with one water stop at the turnaround bridge. It was cold out, so I ran in pants and my long sleeve shirt from the Decker Challenge a few weeks ago. It was a perfect way to finish out the weekend.

Also, Jamie sent me the December schedule for Texas Iron last night. I’m debating whether I should treat it more like a bible or a guide. For example, I’m debating continuing to run with Gilbert’s Gazelle’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but if I do that, I’m straying from his schedule quite a bit. And if I keep swimming three days a week, I’m straying further because the schedule I want to follow has a run intensive focus. I feel like I’m more likely to keep up with the schedule by following it closely, even if that means doing some workouts on my own. And since I really don’t want to back off the swimming, I think I should try to stick with his schedule as much as possible besides that. So I may not do Gilbert’s after all. I need to give that some thought.

The last big thing is that the Coeur d’Alene girls had brunch together yesterday. It was good to see everyone and hear how training is going for everyone. We’re all approaching this very differently. It sounds like Malinda and I are relying on a group’s structure, but everyone else is working out basically on their own. I wish I had that in me, but I know myself well enough to know that I need the accountability and guidance of a group. Even being involved with these girls is part of that need. I need the support and encouragement. Erin and Jeanie made up these fun “in training” t-shirts, and they’re planning some training rides and races for us in the spring. Hopefully that means we’ll all see more of one another next year.