Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Haphazard Thoughts

A couple of random training topics…

Overall, I’m glad I took a full week completely off, and also glad that I took it really easy for the two to three weeks before that. I read a blog today from a world class Ironman, Elizabeth Fedofsky, and she reiterated the need for deep recovery in order to actually get harder/better/faster/stronger.

I did fall off the oreo/ruffles wagon – just for the extended weekend, but I got back up on it on Sunday. Sometimes you just need to indulge. I only gained 1 lb.

So far in this first week, I have successfully trained outside on the weekends. I went hiking with Lilac on Saturday, and it was so nice to get out there in good weather again, that I think this will be a primary weekend focus for me for the next 8 weeks. Even if we’re not running the trails (like as not), there’s still benefit – mostly some peace, and good conversation!

I’m also thinking about taking a day off and spending it on my bike all day. It just sounds like such a great time.

I’ve been beating the goon too – not thinking ahead or letting myself worry about how I’ll feel in 2, 5, 10, 20, 60 minutes, tomorrow. As always, it’s a work in progress.

I’m really struggling with coming up with a good plan for my swim – or more like trying to determine if my potential plan is a good one. Basically, I think swimming for 1 ½ - 2 hours is just ridiculous. There’s no need for it, when I’m doing sprints or olympic distances. There’s nothing that I can do in 90 minutes that I can’t do in 45. Or at least that’s what I think right now.

I feel like all that I’m getting from the extra time in the water is more wear and tear on my body, more fatigue, a bigger headache and more nausea. None of those things make me want to get in the pool, especially when it’s getting colder.

By the way – if anyone knows how I can prevent/avoid the headache and nausea, I’d really appreciate suggestions. I’m not flipping off the walls, or doing anything that should lead to those feelings, but about 45 minutes in, I start to feel very sick and dizzy (yes, I’ve been swimming through that, I’m a moron). Check all that may apply –
- Not eating before I go to the pool
- Not staying hydrated while in the pool
- Having hair that is too heavy when wet (it’s getting excessively long)
- A swim cap that is too tight with all that hair shoved under it
- Goggles that are too tight
- Something stupid I’m doing
- That’s just the way it is
Really, I’m open to any suggestions at this point!

Until I figure it out, my plan is to swim between 45 – 60 minutes max, and spend a large portion of that time doing drills. Drills keep me mentally occupied, and will help with stroke efficiency. That’s my plan for now at least. We’ll see how it goes.

Finally, I was reading Kristin Armstrong today (one of m favorites), and she had this great list of rules to running trails and how it can apply to life –

Be light on your feet...choose your path wisely...someone else's path may not work for you...when you stumble, roll with it...relax in the midst of effort...concentration doesn't mean tension...a cold beer is a fine reward...dress the part...ask questions...go your own pace, if others need to pass, they will... make adjustments to remain balanced...pack smart...have options...refuel before you are empty...don't get sloppy just because you are tired...let go of time constraints...wait for those who are on their those who have been there before...return home a better woman for having made the adventure.

Almost all of these resonate with me, so I wanted to share them, and remember them myself.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Phoenix

While we were driving to San Diego, Lilac and I occupied ourselves with our usual road trip diversion – we sang the entire way to our favorite mutual and historical CD’s. We listened to Jamiroquai, Prodigy, a Girl’s Rule Mix that I put together several years ago, and definitely listened to Incubus – which is our road trip mainstay.

As we were listening to the Make Yourself disc, we started talking about the meaning behind the phrase “So pardon me while I burn and rise above the flame.” in ‘Pardon Me’. Lilac had felt that it meant getting above your anger, but I had always thought that it was more like a re-birth, and that the burn, and rising above the flame was like a phoenix coming alive from the ashes, and becoming new and better because of the experience from the burn. Maybe this has been because I’ve always felt that we learn far more from our mistakes and tough situations than we do from successes and positive situations.

I started thinking more about that conversation this week as I have been at a conference in absolutely beautiful Dana Point, CA. The resort that I’m staying at is on the cliffs looking over the ocean, and has a gorgeous park surrounding it. It’s been perfect weather, and I’ve had time both before and after work to get a great run in along the coast. So, guess how many times I’ve laced up my sneakers. No wait, guess how many times I’ve even looked at my sneakers and thought about going for a run? That’s right, zero. The best I’ve done is walked to the bottom of the cliff to get fast food each night, and then walk back up the cliff to get to the resort (at least it’s a REALLY steep hill). That and I have NOT dug into the free oreos sitting in my snack cabinet here. That has been a real challenge, but I’m not falling off the no-oreo wagon.

I’m not feeling physically fatigued as much as mentally burnt out – and for all of you training for SOMA, Ironman, or a marathon, I know you’re thinking – Get over yourself, you’re only doing sprints!! My only defense is the fact that I run twice to three times slower than most of you all – so for me running 6 miles is like a 12-18 mile adventure. I’ve been putting in 8 – 10 hours of training a week, so it’s not like I haven’t been working hard every day.

I’ve realized that I’m off the track mentally, and I need to get back on. In order to identify how to get back on and raring to go, I’ve felt like I need to identify what is pushing me off the track. To date I have:

- My immediate summer goals (first 10K, and Mission Bay Tri) have been completed, and there are no short term races on my agenda.

- My longer term goals (Princess Half, maybe an Olympic distance tri) are too far off to be urgent, and get me out of bed in the morning.

- I initially scheduled my training log for these dates back in April. I was so unsure of where I’d be that I actually wrote on it “Who the hell knows where I’ll be here”. Even though I’m quite proud of myself that I’ve basically followed the schedule for the last 6 months, there’s a part of me that feels like maybe I need to re-evaluate my goals and training – specifically with the swimming.

- I’ve really petered out the last 2-3 weeks, and it makes it harder to get back into gear. I start doubting myself and my abilities.

All of these things are manageable and correctable. I clearly need to find a race to motivate me. I need to re-evaluate the schedule, maybe backtracking to the 90 min mark, and working back up from there. I need to get back on the training horse. I’m not sure what I need to do with my swimming, but I need to do something that allows me to still use it for active recovery but not continue to be incredibly boring. I also need to recommit myself and remember why I am doing this. That list looks like this (yes, I think in lists):

- I am committed to a long term healthy lifestyle – not a flash in the pan or huge weight loss program.

- I want to be healthy and active when I am 80.

- Triathlon is a process to me. It is something that I want to build into over years.

- I feel great when I am outside experiencing life.

- My relationship with my friends improves when we share great running/tri-ing moments together.

- I am a more valuable person when I take time for and love myself.

With those things in mind, I want to take the next 8 weeks (the time between now and when I really need to dig in for ½ marathon training) and focus on two things:

1. Killing the goon.

2. Getting outside.

I think 2 will help lead to 1. On the weekends, I feel like I need to do more outdoor training, and that it will allow me to be more confident when it comes time to prepare for road races or triathlons. I still find value in spending time on gym equipment – not only because I have to work out very early when it’s dark during the week, but also because it helps me push myself to be getting feedback on a monitor while cycling or running. However, it can’t be all indoors. So, with that said -

- I vow that I will be spending my weekend bike/run time outside (weather permitting) – and if I’m swimming and biking/running, I will ride my bike to the gym, swim, and then ride wherever I’m going to be training.

- I vow that I will not allow the goon to consume me or change my plans in any workout, and that I will be ACTIVELY working on how to work through the goonage whenever it occurs.

This means toughening up, buttercup. There’s a feeling of satisfaction and confidence that you get from putting everything that you have out on the table. There’s also fear in totally letting yourself go too – and I’m someone who really struggles in letting go of the control factor. But I’ll be spending the next 8 weeks focusing on this.

- Reset schedule – check
- Remember WHY I do this – check
- Set specific training goals – check
- Enjoy the process of self-motivation and growth….
- Experience the burn, and rise above the flame, phoenix style…

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Race Report: USWTS, SD – 375m/6.2mi/1.58mi

Pre-Race: This race was in San Diego, so Lilac and I drove out on Friday night and stayed with my Dad. It was a great weekend overall – perfect weather, lovely day at Balboa with my Dad, nice and relaxing overall.

It looked to be the best organized race that I have ever done. When we went for packet pick up on Saturday morning, the entire race area was already set up, so we could identify bike in/out and run in/out for transition, where the finish line would be etc. Race day morning came and that organization continued. We got there with about 20 minutes before transition closed, got set up, and left transition to watch the first waves of the swim. Not only did they start on time (shocking), but the waves were sent at exactly the right time. It was so precise and ordered. The sound system and mic-man were perfectly prepared for the day.

As the 40-49 year old wave prepared to go down the ramp, the true spirit of a women’s only event took hold, and we saw 25 middle aged women in yellow swim caps and wetsuits start dancing and clapping together as a big group to Cindy Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. It was such a cool moment, and really got our “girlyness” going.

The Swim: Our race wave (#14) started on time, to the second. Unfortunately, they only gave us about 30 seconds to get into the frigid water, and ready to go. As I was getting into the water, I totally lost my breath from the cold, and as such, was still gasping and trying to breathe when the gun went off. Pictures taken during this time indicate that Lilac dove right in, and I did not. :) My plan was to stay in the rear, and try not to get kicked in the face and lose my goggles. This would have been a disaster because I absolutely cannot see without contacts and salt water and contacts do not mix. In reality however, the water was too cold for me to put my face in, even though I really tried. And not putting my head in the water meant I basically flailed along, rather than swam along. It also didn’t help that I don’t give myself enough credit for my swimming ability and I was caught in a mass of poorer swimmers that I could not get around throughout the entire race. Kicking was frequent, however, not really painful, and almost always followed with an “oh goodness, sorry!”, something I doubt happens when men are racing. The end result – Lilac finished almost a minute before I did – she said her experience was full of the same thrashing humanity that I experienced. Time: 12:04

T1: Luckily Lilac also needed to bring everything but her Mary Kay lady to the transition area, so she was busy using a mango and tea tree peal conditioning face scrub, as I came in wriggling out of my wetsuit. (I jest, she only put one moisturizer on). We took our sweet time in transition here, it wound up being 5-6 minutes, depending on whose time you’re tracking. We ran with our bikes out of transition, and took off. Time: 5:45

The Bike: I am soooo glad that we decided to ride our mountain bikes to this event. Not only was it so crowded that all USAT passing rules went completely out the window, but because it was at a beach, the road was somewhat sandy at times. Both of those issues would have led to a falling incident had I been on a road bike. I’m just so uncomfortable on that bike that I can’t relax. But you know what happens when you CAN relax? You ride two miles per hour faster in congested race conditions than you ever have at a race, and for the first time ever, you pass other people on bikes (even road bikes). Now granted, this isn’t about beating other people, but as the person who has only ever been passed, it felt good to at least pass a couple of people :)

Overall it was a pretty flat course, it was a gorgeous day, I was glad that I brought my jacket, and I couldn’t be happier with the bike segment. Though it was two minutes slower than last week’s time trial, my legs were in far better shape when I got off the bike. Time: 28:04

T2: This was much faster, even though we were still taking out time. We racked our bikes, deliberated and decided to take our jackets off, and then found our way out of the run exit. Time 2:11

The Run: The run was a nice course along the beach, but on the sidewalk on the way out, and the street on the way back. I felt pretty fresh, though Lilac clearly felt really fresh, because she seemed to want to take off. Generally this is the loneliest time during a tri for me, primarily because as a super slow biker and runner, most people have finished by the time I get on out on the course. However, because the race directors had the longer race start before ours, there were tons of women on the course with us, and it became a real cheering fest. We actually also passed some runners. It felt pretty cool!

On the way back I designated the run to the finish point in the distance, and even though the course wound up fooling me with an additional little loop around the parking lot, I didn’t give into the goon, and entered the finish shoot strong. As we were running in the shoot, people were cheering and hooting and hollering, and it felt great (people around the finish area is something I’m also not accustomed to!). Lilac actually turned to me and said “I have goose bumps!” We finished the race hand in hand, and strong! Time: 20:38 (two minutes faster than the time trial!)

: As we left the finish area, and walked back to transition (trying to find my Dad, who had been furiously taking pictures with his super duper manual camera for us – and did an outstanding job of it!) the DJ started playing the Shake Shake Shake Senora song by Harry Belafonte, and the post race party started for me. We danced our way over to our bikes, and packed our stuff up. A wonderful glowing breakfast with Dad and our medals finished off a great morning!

: 58/62 20-29 year olds, 251/303 women overall, 1:00:04 sans transition (our goal was an hour!) 1:08:40 total time. A great triathlon with your best friend? Priceless.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Taking Control

I have to say that writing about my Goon did help me clarify some of my frustrations and allowed me to pick myself up and start moving in a more constructive direction – so thanks for letting me take a blog to clarify inner-turmoil.

This past week I have decided to take control back from the Goons – the Work Goon, and the Athlete Goon, at least. Before I get into how I’ve managed this feat, just know that I am extremely superstitious (I was the kid who had to stay in the bathroom for the rest of the game if our Patriots scored a touchdown while I was in there) so I will be trying hard not to jinx myself with regards to possible future opportunities. :)

First the Work Goon –
For the last six months, I have been waiting along with everyone else to see how the new org structure will be put into place to determine how and where I wanted to fit within it. There were many reasons for my forceful patience (not one of my natural virtues). Basically, when you know that there’s going to be a reduction in force, you don’t want to be the big mouth that keeps asking questions. Also, I’ve never worked with the new director of my group and I thought it would be kind of obvious if I started talking her ear off, and all of my questions were about this new planned org that we knew nothing about. Furthermore, I believed that many if not all of the positions would be posted (don’t you love having to apply for your own job?) so I didn’t think there was a need to stir up the waters before the postings came out.

However, once it was determined that some positions would map, and others would post, and it was also announced that people who work on new world work today (me) could be mapped, I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands.

I set up a meeting with my director, and nicely told her that although I have successfully done work in all of the 5 silos, I was most passionate about the Strategy workstream. I also told her that I saw this re-organization as a good opportunity for my title to reflect my work, and that I would be eyeing strategy manager positions. I believe that the meeting went well (knocking on wood). At least now I know that they know what I want, and can make a decision based on that, rather than just continuing to sit on my hands and hope they can read my mind. Take that Goon! Since I set up the meeting, my director has actually asked me to attend a strategic planning conference in Laguna Beach, and it’s going to be a fascinating meeting. I just bet that I wouldn’t have been asked to attend had I not had the gumption to ask for the initial meeting.

I also decided to not just wait and see what the future would hold, and applied for a Strategic Planning Manager position for a different department – the newly created Customer Experience team. The fact that one of the projects that I’ve spent the last year working on is going to be transitioned to this new position was one of the main reasons that I applied. The posting closes today, so we’ll see if there’s any traction on it in the next few days. Haiiiii yah (karate chop) Goon!

It seems that things are starting to move quickly with the org changes, so we’ll see what the future holds on the work front, but for now I’ve knocked the Work Goon out!

Now to the Athlete Goon –
One of the interesting things about keeping a ridiculously complex training log is that you begin to see patterns where you wouldn’t necessarily have seen them otherwise. I have mentioned that I’ve been struggling with a tired body and a tired mind, and after writing my Goon Blog, I decided to take a look at my log, and see if there was any pattern in when the tiredness (is this a word?) cropped up.

Well low and behold, it’s like freaking clockwork – every 12 weeks I either get sick, or start to fade significantly, and need to take the better part of a week off to recharge my batteries. Makes you realize that all of those “12 week plans” are 12 weeks for a reason. Other than realizing that I may need to make every 3rd recovery week a REAL recovery week, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. I did mark it in my future logs, so that I know to be aware of it. I think sometimes just being aware that your body will feel a certain way during a part of the cycle helps combat the Goon, because you have expectations for how you should feel, and how and when to fight your battles with him.

Another way to beat the Goon is to practice race day situations. With the upcoming Mission Bay Tri (this is actually called the U.S. Women’s Triathlon Series San Diego – which is too much to type every time, and it’s taking place at Mission Bay) just a week away, Lilac and I decided to do a time trial to get a feel for putting the race together, practicing transitions, and having me spew out rule after rule to Lilac, which bless her heart, she just accepts and goes with. Since this will be her first race, I wanted her to talk through the process with her as we were doing it, so that on race day we wouldn’t have a meltdown somewhere because I hadn’t discussed why you needed to leave the bike transition with your bike in easy gears even though you don’t feel comfortable in them… etc.

We rode our bikes to the gym, nice and easy. (Wow was is beautiful this weekend? I swear the temperature dropped 40 degrees overnight, and it was absolutely gorgeous out! Still, it was a little chilly in the morning, so we got in the indoor pool.) This is the part of the race that we are both most nervous about – for separate reasons. Lilac is concerned because she thinks she’s not a very good swimmer (she’s made HUGE progress this year) and I’m afraid of getting my goggles kicked off because I cannot see without contacts in, and if the salty sea brine gets into my contacts, well I’ll need to be tethered to Lilac for the remainder of the race because I’ll be blind. We did our 375 meters, and she felt better because she wasn’t even half a lap behind me. We also practiced “beach entrance” because Lilac isn’t the kind of person who normally dives into cold water to get the shock over. She felt much better about the swim afterward, so it was worth it to get in there. She also had about 13 skin products that she decided she needs to bring to transition. (Momo – you’re not the only one who apparently needs to brush your hair in transition – and this for a sprint!)

Our time trial for the bike would be interesting, because we were going to be making 2 ½ loops (6.2 miles) of the paved portion of the Orchid Canal, to see where we were timewise on mountain bikes. Lo and behold, I am actually faster on my mountain bike than I am on my road bike. It’s probably because I’m not frantically trying not to fall off of my bike the whole time – and maybe being able to sit comfortably helps as well. I think I pushed it a little bit too hard on the bike, because my legs were not cooperating when we locked the bikes to a sign, and started the run portion. Good practice though – now I know how hard not to push it.

The run was more of a shuffle, stop, shuffle, stop, but 1.58 miles goes by quickly. We were actually chatting about wedding plans (for her) when all of a sudden our stop line came up on us. I was totally unprepared for it. I guess that means I can tell the Goon that it will be shorter than I think it will, and that might give my legs some extra juice.

Overall, I feel completely confident in our ability to get out there on a beautiful SD morning, and have a great time. So take that Goon!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Run for Congo Women - 10K

Pre-Race: I’m just going to say it – I hate the name of this race. It should be Run for Congolese Women, since that’s what they call people from the Congo. It’s the same as saying Run for America Women, or Run for China Women. I’ve thought many times about just changing it, but since it’s a really good cause, I wanted everyone to be able to actually find the website – . However, since it drives me crazy, it will heretofore be mentioned only as “the race”.

Before I get into the actual event, I do want to mention what a great cause this is, and how grateful “Cassandra” and I were that this race was being held in the Valley. It was a $20 fee, and all proceeds went directly to the support of the Congolese women who are being systematically desecrated and killed in a land war with their men. 54 million women and children have been killed. My $20 will feed and house a woman and her children for a month.

OK now to the event. Cassandra and I were planning on doing this race last year, until my alleged stress fracture happened in July. Also the fact that I had double-booked it with my trip to China nixed it as well. But this year we were healthy, so we decided to go!

It was at Kiwanis Park, starting in the “Sister City Gardens”, which was an apt location. It was a very small race – the highest bib number I saw was 133. It was my first 10K, so there were definitely some nerves, but I’ve been running 6 miles on my long runs for the last couple of weeks, so I was confident that I was going to be able to finish. I also looked at this as a trial for signing up for the Disney Princess 1/2, if I could keep myself at a sub-16min pace. I absolutely do not want to go all the way to Florida, and then get picked up in the loser cruiser for not keeping pace.

The weather had miraculously cooled down this weekend, so we were only in the low 90’s – way better than the summer races, however the race was scheduled to start at 8, then 8:45, and finally at 9am. Frankly I would have preferred to be done by then, but at least it wasn’t too hot.

Race: 9 am, go! Cassandra and I decided to go with 6/4’s, with me dictating pace, and her dictating any additional required stops (I’ll save you the suspense and confirm that yes, in the end I dictated additional stops as well). We had looked at the course map while we were waiting for the gun, but it was… rather convoluted, and I don’t think either of us had a clue what we were supposed to do. They confirmed it was marked, so we assumed we’d follow the signs and everyone else. The course started running down the canal, which we did brilliantly, and then cutting down to go around the lake. That’s when things got interesting – because the marks had us running straight through park areas, and not running on the sidewalks, which is the standard process. It almost felt like cheating, and cutting corners, but we were following the marks and people so we kept on going. We found the first water stop, and went over a hill. Then we lost the trail.

We kept following people, so we felt good. We went around the park area, where the indoor pool is, around the soccer fields, and got back onto All American Way. We saw lots of people coming around the other way, so we assumed there was a turnaround - only we never found it. We did find ourselves back at the water station, so we asked for directions. Too bad the water station lady didn’t know the course. She told us to lap around the lake, so we did. About this time we started getting passed by guys who were yelling to each other that they were on their “last lap around the lake, then going up to the canal and then done”. From that we assumed we had to loop the lake at least one more time after our current loop. We had a plan! We were also really starting to be by ourselves out there. There was a mother/daughter team near us – just as lost as we were – who took turns playing leap frog and navigator with us. Once we completed the loop around the lake, and made a pit stop at the bathroom, we were back at the water station. Keep in mind we have no idea how far we’ve gone, as there were also no mile markers (actually maybe there were on the real course, and we didn’t see any because we weren’t on the real course…). The water station lady now had the same confusing map that we had see prior to the start, which frankly did not help us at all. She told us to go back around the park, and come back around the lake, so that’s what we did.

Somewhere between the water station and the hill to the park, we lost the mother/daughter team. We didn’t see anyone else who looked like they were racing until we hit the same patch where people were going the other way. At this point, the frustration was mounting, and the goon was starting sneak in thoughts of helplessness and wasting time. We decided since we had no idea where we going to cut across the soccer field, and continue on. We went back to the water station. We looped the lake again. Then we got to the canal. At this point we knew where to go!

We went up to the cone, turned around and ran to the finish line – where my mom met us with Sprinkles cupcakes! Yay! Even more exciting was the official clock (about the only race item out there) that said 1:28:31!! However, the fact that we had no idea if we had actually completed the course kept me from being too excited about a successful 10K, and a possible PR.

The best part of the race for me was the mantras that Cassandra and I exchanged at what we assumed to be close to mile markers – that we were grateful for our health, our successes, our friendship, that we didn’t have to walk for war-torn miles every time we needed water, and that we were able to participate in such a good cause.

: I don’t know why I was expecting my actual position and race time to be listed on a website anywhere. There was no chip, or finish time on my bib. I did go home after the race and map out (via satellite map, so I could see the actual sidewalks and paths) the course we took. Counting the soccer cut, and the extra mileage to the bathroom, we successfully completed 6.08 miles. That’s 14:34 per mile, which IS a PR for me for this distance, and is definitely under the Loser Cruiser line, which is great news.

It was a successful race in many ways – completing my first 10K race, our ability to somehow map out our own 6+ mile course, the opportunity to share a morning with a great friend, a PR, confidence towards the Disney Princess ½, and most importantly, giving assistance to women just like us who are in serious need.

John “the Penguin” Bingham said it best: “So many of us have changed our own lives through running that it makes sense we would want to change the lives of others the same way. We can take the drive, ambition, and dedication we used to transform ourselves from couch potatoes to athletes and channel that into making a difference for someone else.”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Beating the Goon

It’s been difficult keeping my focus positive the last few days (week). My mental Goon has been working overtime to try to keep me down, and I’m tired of fighting him. Part of it is work related, part of it is the juggling, part of it is the nervousness of Run for Congo Women, and part of it is the fact that I feel almost over-prepared for the Mission Bay Tri, especially since I just found out they changed the distances - and made them even shorter!

I’ve alluded to the work thing a couple of times, and since this is my biggest kill joy, I think (hope?) it will be cathartic to write out my frustration, so feel free to skip the whining!

Basically, I love my job. I love my work. I am very well compensated, I have a great boss, I get to work from home, I’m not curing cancer – basically I have nothing to complain about. I actually am really fascinated and enjoying the research into some of the deeper level of the unconscious and how it impacts decision making, which makes design even more fascinating to me. The problem is this: Six months ago they announced that there would be a re-organization, and there would be reduction in staff redundancies – and we literally haven’t heard a peep since then. As the only person in my organization who received an Exceptional rating on the most recent performance appraisal, I feel pretty confident that I will come away with a position. The problem is everyone who’s not confident (which is everyone else) has basically put a big bulls eye on my back, and spent the last six months arguing with me about absolutely every little teeny weeny thing, and it’s starting to get exhausting. Tell me, what does a green square with a checkmark mean to you? What about a yellow triangle with an exclamation point in it? What about a red circle with an x? Well according to my five “peers” (who by the way have no official background/certification in design) these things are “hieroglyphics”, and they think there are “too many colors”. Well I’ve travelled the world, and these are all internationally understood symbols. I just have to fight against 5 Shit-for-Brains to try to get simple efficiencies added to my system, and it’s pissing me off. The good news is that in the future this won’t be the case. There will be one direction, and we’ll move forward without dragging 5 weights around. The bad news is that after six months of no discussion, I’m starting to think the future won’t be here until 2012!

This constant negativity that I’m receiving is creating a feeding ground for my mental Goon. You know, the guy in my head who tells me I can’t run for 90 minutes, or do sprints, or that it’s ridiculous to swim for 2400 meters, when my race is only 375. He tells me that I’m tired, that my legs hurt, that I have a race on Sunday so I should take it easy. Basically the Goon does everything he can to keep me fat, unhappy, and sleeping all hours of the day.

Generally I can fight him. I have tricks. I meditate before bed, and then visualize every single moment of the next morning, and how I’m going to “wake up at 4am refreshed, and ready to go”, get dressed, grab a granola bar, run out the door, go to the gym, start on the bike at level 5 for five minutes, etc etc etc. Generally this works well. For my scariest workouts on Thursdays, I remind myself that I “don’t make decisions while I’m sprinting”, and focus on positive self-talk while resting between sprints. Things like “I can run at 6.6. I’m capable. I have an iron will” that sort of thing. Lately though, none of this stuff is working.

Tuesday was a really tough day. We were told that the announcement was officially coming. There were all these rumors that went against everything I’ve heard to date, we were in full panic mode all day – just to find out that the announcement actually had ZERO information in it, but maybe they’ll have some specifics for us by around the end of October. I had a great practice at GOTR, but it ended on a bad note, and I was physically tired from having run 6.4 miles in the morning, and being out with the girls in the sun. As I was cleaning my bedroom, one of my dogs absolutely attacked the other – going for the kill. I went to bed, and got woken up several times, it was just a long day full of high anxiety. So I woke up Wednesday morning, and didn’t want to go swim. I just had no desire to swim at all. I forced myself to get up because it was weigh in day (no change, really glad I got up for that). I got in the pool and I swam half-heartedly for about 35 minutes, and then the Goon came up with a sneak assault- “Why the hell are you swimming for 90 minutes today? Your race isn’t even going to take you 10 minutes in the water. You could be sleeping right now.” And sadly enough, I had no counter-argument, so I got out of the pool, went home, and went back to bed for another two hours. He also convinced me to make chocolate chip pancakes when I woke up - and they were good.

Some days I struggle with listening to MYSELF, and listening to the GOON. Sometimes I can’t tell who’s talking. Is it me, really strung out and tired, and really needing some extra recovery? Or is it the Goon trying to make me lazy? Wednesday I couldn’t tell, and I frankly didn’t have the energy to fight with yet another negative attitude – even if it was my own.

Today I had a new plan to beat the Goon, who was forcefully telling me that I couldn’t do 2/2 sprints for 55 minutes, and run at 6.6 (I know, everyone else thinks this is a normal pace, but it’s really really fast for me). However, I knew I could do 1/3’s at that speed, and I would focus on my sprinting form instead of length of time. So ha! The Goon was unprepared for my tactical transition and confidence, so he let me be for once. I had a whole workout (biking 12.26 miles, and then running 3.79) without him. It was great! I wish I had thought of it last week...

Sometimes we need to balance between where we “should” be, what we “want” to be, and what we “can do” on a given day. It’s a tough balance, and sometimes we get too comfortable, or we get too strained. We need to learn how to listen to us (my calves are definitely tight) but not listen to the Goon (I maybe felt a twinge when I was getting out of the car). However, I think a little flexibility allowed me to be successful today, and even more important FEEL successful – even though I did less sprinting than last week. Today I beat the Goon by being willing to play the “I’m not feeling it game”, and I’m glad I was willing to get up and do something that still made me feel good.