Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sliding downhill

I'm having one of those weeks where I feel like all the training I've done is just slipping away! Work is really busy and I've got the puppy. I think when Sierra and I are together, she gets more exercise than she would otherwise, but I certainly get less. This morning called for a run, so we went to the dog park so I could run in circles until I got up to 1.5-2 miles, then we'd run together (me on the path and her on the grass) outside of the dog park for another mile or so. Mean dog in the dog park --> we left immediately and just ran 1.5 miles together outside of the dog park (her max). Tomorrow Sierra is going to doggie day care for the first time since I may be at work for 24 hours (yuck).

My eating is certainly securing my spot in the Athena division for another month. It's pretty much impossible for me to eat well and work long, intense hours. The only thing I've got going for me is that there are no gluten free cookies within walking distance of my office.

I'm still plenty sore from my weight lifting on Sunday. Enough blogging, time to plan tomorrow (hopefully a bike ride or a run before work?) and get to sleep. Even though I was in bed for 8.5 hours last night, I woke up feeling like a zombie, so I think the sleeping didn't quite work for me. Better luck tonight I hope.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tired and hot

Sundays are supposed to be relaxing, aren't they? I'm sore and tired from yesterday. I rode my bike to the gym, not a workout in and of itself as it's just 4 miles, but it was a good warmup. Then I lifted weights for an hour and then I did some ab work on the exercise ball, then more strength training with the medicine ball, then rode my bike home. My triceps, abs, and upper legs are most sore. My legs are sore like they got sore from jumping squats with the tri class, but not quite as painful. I spent the evening at work, which messed up the nutrition and sleep aspects of my training. It's hard to make myself stay awake after 9 without lots of sugar (or couch sitting). My body is all messed up today. Craving sugar, I think related to lack of sleep plus the excess carbs I had yesterday. Must get the eating back on track tomorrow. I eat pretty healthy foods, but in too large of quantity! The dried mango did me in today.

My only workout today was the ride to and from work, about 30 minutes each way, so at least it counts for something. The ride this morning was a bit tough at first as my legs were so worn out from yesterday, but they loosened up along the way. My pre-ride warmup was a walk with the puppy in the morning. I'm trying to figure out how to balance long hours at work, the puppy, and my exercise schedule this week. I think it's the toughest time yet. Doggie day care will likely become a reality this week.

Summer has definitely arrived. The last three days have seen highs of 104, 108, and 102. The heat I don't mind (terribly), but with heat seems to come unhealthy levels of ozone. We've had "spare the air" days for the last three days too. If the shuttle had a more convenient time, I would have been sorely tempted to put my bike on it and turn my 7.5 mile ride into 1/2 mile.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What it takes

My last two workouts had me fairly proud of myself at the end, not for doing a fantastic workout, but just for doing the workout. I was pretty worn out by the end of my day at work yesterday, and I was sorely tempted to just drive straight home, make dinner, and sit on the couch until Dave and the puppy got home for the weekend. But during my lunch break, I'd read a brief article on the NY Times about a study that found that people who did short interval workouts (~five 30 second hard intervals of exercise plus warmup/cooldown) compared to slower, easier workouts (~90-120 min) showed almost identical increases in their endurance after 2 weeks, tested by a time trial on a stationary bike and confirmed by molecular changes that signaled increased fitness. (The study acknowledged it works best for low-impact sports like swimming and biking, not running, for injury prevention reasons.)

Everything I've read certainly indicates interval work is especially important in swimming, but I'm not really a fan. Too much work! Gasping for breath... not exciting in general. But I figured I should give it a try, especially when I'm short on time. So I made a compromise with myself - I'd swim after work, but no more than 30 minutes, and I'd do intervals to make up for the short workout. Basically I convinced myself that if I want to be an Ironman, I can't go dropping workouts left and right just because I had a long day at work, even if it is just swimming. Mostly I don't worry about missing swim workouts because it's by far the easiest for me, and even if I didn't swim at all between now and November 7, I know I'd finish the swim with plenty of time to spare before the swim cutoff. In fact, I'm not sure how much improvement I can really expect to make on the swim even if I do 3x per week workouts.

I just kind of winged it for my swim workout, like I usually do. I swam a 250yd warmup in about 10 minutes, As best I can remember, I then swam 4x25 all-out sprints, resting about 20 seconds between each 25. Then I swam 2x50 (or 3x?), similar rest. Then 4x25 again. Followed by a 300yd cooldown. Actually by the time I was doing the cooldown swim, I was mentally into the workout and in my happy swim place where I keep telling myself "you've got time for one more lap. just one more!" Not in that voice that tells me to just keep running one more mile, but in that "come on, pleeease, i know you only planned to do a 200 cooldown, but please just a 250?" Then I cave and swim the 50. Then I want another 50. Etc. My practical side was saying "if you want any time to relax or shower or eat dinner, you have to get out of the pool now!" Swimming is SOOO nice. Especially when it's HOT outside. I enjoy the open water swims more than the pool, but convenience is pretty much everything when I'm crunched for time. And who isn't crunched for time? I felt happy with myself for finishing the swim, and left the gym thinking about how the type of athlete I am on November 7 is made up of all these little decisions until then. Each time I choose to do the workout, I'm making November 7 that much easier of a day. (however "easy" an ironman can be.)

Today's bike ride was similar in that Dave and I set out together to ride about 50 miles. We parked at the fish hatchery and rode along the canal bike path. It goes 14 miles south and then we turned around and came back. It's as flat as flat can be and a lot of cyclists use it for time trials. There are a few optional hills that the path lets you take, or you can keep going straight on the flat. I took every hill option (except one on the way back since I'd learned going up it that the path there was really poorly maintained) to make the most of my workout. The path is incredibly exposed with no shade (except for a fairly long dark tunnel near the beginning). We had a late start because I didn't turn on the alarm and we slept in until 6:30 so we weren't riding until almost 9. (I will try not to make that mistake again!) Today was hot hot hot. On the ride back to the hatchery, I was contemplating stopping there and calling it a day like Dave now planned to do. I told myself I could just ride again tomorrow morning to make up for it. I also told myself those optional hills had to count for something. But the ironman in me won and when we got back to the hatchery, I refilled my bottles and headed for Beal's Point (10 miles), hoping it wasn't as hilly as I remembered.

I happened upon a group of the tri club at the hatchery, a lot of them had done a swim at the lake and were now doing a bike ride. As ridiculous as it sounds to me now, I'd decided to skip the swim-bike tri club brick workout because I thought I'd be too cold on the bike soaking wet. (I can suffer for a race, but for training? eh, not quite that tough yet.) I am sure I would've dried almost instantly! The group told me that another group of them had just started the ride to Beal's. I hurried to catch up. I rode so fast to catch up that I flew past them a mile later, only noticing after I passed that it was them. I said hi and then decided I might as well keep riding hard for awhile. They caught up to me before too long though and I enjoyed chatting with them for a few more miles. We saw a big snake on the bike path - always exciting when that happens! They stopped to regroup halfway to Beal's but since Dave was waiting for me I kept going. That's when the "hills" start. I put hills in quotes because they're only hills if you live in Sacramento where it's super flat. When we first moved here from St Thomas, we rode up to Beal's and when we got back to our car we were convinced we must have gone the wrong way. That couldn't have been the part of the bike path everyone says is hilly. It only took a year before I started viewing the route to Beal's as my hilly ride. Pathetic! Luckily the "hills" are starting to seem flatter again.

Knowing the tri club would see me if I cut my workout short provided extra motivation to finish the journey to Beal's where I refilled the water and headed back downhill. Ah, the fun reward. The river out there is so pretty, too! With about 5 miles to go I was getting super overheated. The sun was pretty brutal and my drinks weren't helping me feel refreshed. I had a bottle of water and a bottle of Hammer's Perpetuem. I keep trying to like that stuff but after today I think I've officially given up. It's probably worth drinking because it has protein in addition to carbs, but almost every endurance drink with protein tastes disgusting. It's like drinking orange flavored chalk. I kept adding more water to it but still could barely make myself drink it. I need to test a few more drinks because I think I'll be a lot better off in Florida if I can consume some protein on the bike. I can always just have peanut butter I suppose, but a drink would be a lot easier. I should probably just start eating nut butters on the bike to get used to it.

I'm a little nervous about Vineman 70.3 now. There was no way I could have safely run very far after the bike today. I was just way too overheated! When I trained for St Croix 70.3, I did one long run starting at noon to get used to running in the hot sun. I'm not sure I'm up for that right now. So I'm hoping that on July 19 in Napa the mercury doesn't go above 90!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Long run redux

Yesterday's long run was really fun, as I think I mentioned. I got started a few minutes late (seems to be a theme in my life these days) but still finished on time. I took most of the same route that I usually bike to work, mostly because it has quieter roads, less traffic, and fewer traffic signals. I ran with my Camelbak on my back filled with water, wallet, breakfast (cream of rice + protein powder), and 2 larabars for snacks at work. I wore a bike jersey because it's a little warmer than my running tops and it has a huge pocket in the back. In the pocket I stashed 2 Gu packets, 1 pack of Gu Chomps (strawberry w/ caffeine - YUM) and a serving of GF pretzels so I wouldn't have to worry about searching for sodium at work. I just ate a banana before I did the run, and had 1 Gu pack plus most of the Chomps on the run. A chomp here, a chomp there... tastes like strawberry jam. yum. Plus I wore my fuel belt with 1 water container on it in case I needed to refill my water a the park. Refilling a Camelbak from a drinking fountain seems impossible  (Plus the fuel belt ensures my running pants stay up! Must stop buying running shorts/pants without draw strings!)
The weather was great! A little cooler than I expected, high 50s, but it was perfect after about 10 minutes. Funny how when I first started I thought I was cold, but I was too lazy to turn around and run back 5 minutes to get a long sleeve shirt to wear! Silly considering I had so many miles to go...
I ran the 4 miles down to the gym and used it for a pit stop. (Hey, I'm paying the monthly fee, might as well use it for something.) Then ran to the park and ran along the bike path away from work for a mile, turned around and headed to downtown. I must have misjudged the time when I was on the bike path because I thought I didn't have time to run the whole 12 miles, so that's why I only ran 2 extra miles on the bike path.
My route has three spurts of traffic lights and they are at the very beginning (3 of them), middle (2), and end (5, 6, 7?). It works well when I'm on my bike because it gives me a warmup and cooldown with a little break in the middle. Running though, I wanted as few lights as possible downtown. Last time I ran from the park to work, I had to stop at almost every light, and on the bike it doesn't bother me because it's such a small portion of my workout and I don't usually consider the ride from the park to work a workout anyways, but when I'm running I want every mile to count. So I ran through the mall which saved me 7 blocks of lights. Before that though I ran in circles around Old Sac to get the mileage up a bit higher since I was just at 9.5. I ran in circles downtown too, looking for an ATM so I could buy some coffee, but eventually gave up and just ran around the capitol until I hit 12.0. Got some stretching in, showered, and showed up at work on time with a bit of a red face.
My knees started hurting around the same time I started running through the mall. Wondering if the concrete surface in the mall and on the downtown sidewalks contributed to it. I tried to walk 1 minute every 8-10 minutes. It's a lot more convenient to just run 1 minute every mile though. I try to hit my lap counter each mile, so I'm already paying attention for that. But to do that and try to keep track of every 8 minutes.. too much work!  But next time I think I'll try to walk a little more often. My pace was great. Almost the same as my 12 mile run in AZ two weeks ago. 11:18 min miles (AZ was 11:19).  My legs were a little tired in the morning and still are a bit tired today, but they feel pretty good and are pain free again.
I had to work late last night, so was stuck with the dilemma of using another emergency ride home (only get 6 per year though!) or riding home as the sun was setting. I rode home fast! I took a new route that I think was definitely faster. I made it home in 25 minutes - record time, and on my hybrid. I got lucky with the lights too though, lots of green. I passed an old vagrant-type looking guy on the bike path and he caught up to me at the light to leave the park and said "hey - pretty good for a girl". I wish I'd come up with a good response at the time. Instead I just sped off when the light turned green and left him in the dust again, never to catch up to me again.
Had an early day at work, so ended up driving to work. Twice this week. ugh. Definitely missed the bike ride. Hoping to get out early enough to swim on the way home.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Run to work day

I survived my run to work! I added a few miles in the park at the halfway point but still ended up running in circles once I got downtown to meet my 12 mile requirement for the day. It was a great run. Really fun. If I could, I'd run to work more often, even just the 7.5 miles would be fun. But in keeping to the 10% max increase in mileage per week rule, I don't think I can swing it and still increase my long runs enough to get up to 20 miles by October. I feel so productive having done my long run as a commute.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

bike-swim-bike to work

Today I biked to work on my hybrid with a stop at the gym for a swim along the way. Basically biking 18.5 minutes, swimming 32 minutes, biking 18.5 minutes. I did the whole routine in my tri top and tri shorts so I wouldn't have to change my clothes at all. Luckily there was a bike locker available at the gym so I didn't have to waste time removing all the goods and panniers from my bike, but it still took me longer than I'd like. I suppose I'd save a few minutes if I brought my own lock, so I wouldn't have to go inside to get/return the key to the bike locker. That would mean a few extra minutes of swimming or biking. I swam 1600 yards, wanted to do 1750 for the mile marker but I just didn't have time.

I had to stay late at work tonight so I used a emergency ride home free taxi ride voucher for my return commute. You ask, how is she getting to work tomorrow with her bike in my bike locker downtown? I'm running to work tomorrow! It's a 7.5 mile trip but I'm planning to add some extra miles to make it my long run of the week. Goal is 12 miles. Then I'll bike back home.

Less than 20 weeks to go before Florida. Last Friday night I was trying to imagine how I would be feeling 20 weeks from then. Friday before the race. (IMFL is on a Saturday, the only IM on a Saturday.) Just thinking about it makes me nervous. I think the key to the race is remaining calm though. Not letting the crowd of athletes and spectators make me push too hard, staying calm so my stomach is happy to consume the vast amount of calories I will need. One of the tri club coaches did not finish her ironman race last weekend due to stomach problems during the race. So many people end up having GI problems. Running can often upset a stomach; I've heard it's due to all the josteling around. Seems silly, but maybe it's true. Speaking of which, I need to get to sleep so I can wake up early enough to eat something before my run to work. I'm giving myself over 2.5 hours to get there and shower.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beautiful mornings

We've had some absolutely gorgeous mornings this week. It's been in the low 60s, which surprises me because I would've thought I'd freeze in the 60s, but it's perfect for biking or running. Yesterday I did my bike commute on my hybrid so I could bring my food for the week in the panniers. The hybrid has wider tires, more surface area, and is a heavier bike, so I think it's more of a workout mile to mile compared to my road bike. I biked pretty easy since I was concerned about my hip flexor/upper thigh. The few hills I have (freeway overpass, bridge, etc) I just spun up in super low gears. I rode for an hour Monday morning before work. My hybrid is lacking a bike computer so I have to calculate my mileage by paying attention to the mile markers on the bike path, since I typically do any extra miles on the bike path.

On the bike ride home from work I came up with a new route, using part of the way Artemis and I found last Friday. It's always fun to try new roads, but I was mildly concerned I was going to end up on the freeway by accident. Work kept me in the office late so I skipped the swim I'd planned for the afternoon.

My leg was feeling much better last night so this morning I ran for the first time since last Thursday. Wow, that's a long time, considering I should be running three or four times a week (1 long run, 1-2 aerobic run, 1 transition run). The run was great. I ran super easy, just shy of a 12:30 pace (although that includes the stopping to fix my shoe at some point). It felt really great to be out and running even though it was slow. I felt like I could maintain that pace forever. (Probably the duration that the run leg of an ironman feels like.) But I had to get to work.

I drove to work since I had plans for a long picnic lunch with family who were in town to see the capitol, and I wasn't sure how late I'd have to stay at work to make up for it. I brought my swim stuff hoping I'd get a swim in after work. But I opted for a trip to Trader Joes instead. Almost out of protein powder and TJs is the only place I can find it. Had to take advantage of having the car with me and it being late enough that traffic was a non-issue. I think it's that time of year with work where I really need to decide which workouts are a priority each day and do those in the morning, because when I work late I'm really unlikely to have the energy to do the afternoon workouts. I haven't figured out tomorrow's plan yet, but if I can get the timing right I think I'll bike and swim in the morning. Or maybe I should just move on from missing the swims and stick to the plan I emailed Rose earlier today, which means biking 1.5 hours tomorrow. I suppose today's PM ironman plan involved focusing on nutrition and sleep - 2 of the 5 disciplines in triathlon training!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Off days

I'm having one of those days today, where nothing is going according to plan. Last night I went to sleep planning to get up and do a 53 mile hilly ride with the Sac Wheelmen bicycling group. Since the Vineman events are 4 weeks and 6 weeks from now, it seems imperative to really do some hilly rides.

Unfortunately, I woke up with pain in my upper left quadricep. Maybe it's a hip flexor problem? I'm not sure what the deal is, but it's definitely the muscle that gets sore when riding uphill, walking upstairs, running uphill, etc. I rode on the trainer a few minutes and confirmed it would be too painful to do the ride today. We went for a walk with the dog instead.

Now I'm sitting here trying to figure out what to do. Do I go for a flat ride and hope that I don't make my leg worse? Schedule a massage appointment asap? Ride the trainer so if it starts to hurt I can call it quits? Go for a long walk? Go for a swim? I'm really not sure what to do. I just wish my leg didn't hurt so I could've gone on the bike ride as planned.

At first I thought I was lacking motivation and just being lazy. I pulled up ironman.com and started watching the live video of IM Coeur d'Alene. There's no audio for most of the day, but I'm watching silent cyclists stream in past the webcam in packs. Apparently nobody is getting in trouble for drafting. Although with the number of cyclists riding, I don't know how one could avoid drafting. (On the bike, you have to be at least 3 bike lengths behind the next cyclist to avoid a drafting penalty (a few minutes added to your time). Drafting is only legal on the swim and run.) It seems there are updates (with audio) on the top of every hour. It's really interesting to watch the pros who are 80 miles into the bike right now. Almost everyone in the race seems to be riding a Cervelo.

I also started reading stories from Becoming an Ironman, a great book to read when lacking motivation. It a collection of various athlete's stories about their first ironman event. There are stories by people who won their age groups the first time they raced, people who barely met the 17 hour deadline, people who had average races, people who didn't finish.

So I found my motivation but my leg still hurts. I'm wishing I lived right next to the river bike path so I could ride safely outside without having to worry about traffic. Riding outside is so much more fun than being stuck on the trainer. Maybe I should hop on and ride for a little while and see how my leg feels. Or maybe I'll just go swimming, do some abdominal exercises, and things that don't involve the legs.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

FLOW swim race

This week ended with a big boost to my swim training. I actually stopped by the gym on the way home on my bike on Thursday and swam. It was super easy, logistically. The gym has three bike lockers and two were available. The gym gives you a lock and key, so I used the bike locker which saved a lot of effort that would have been involved in using the bike rack. Locking my bike to a rack involves taking off my saddle bag, pump, and lights and carry them plus my helmet, gloves, and panniers. All I had to do on Thursday was roll my bike into the locker, place my gloves and helmet with it, grab the swim bag from the pannier and head into the gym! Quick transition.

Although I dreaded getting to the pool while the masters group was still swimming (5:45-6:45), it was a long distance workout so it was super easy. I'm fine with distance, not so great with short bursts of speed. I know I need to work on it, but masters swimming can be a bit intimidating. I went to the slow lane which was empty, and followed the workouts directed to the old lady with fins in the lane next to me. Basically swimming 75% of what everyone else was doing. Timing worked fine. Since I missed the first half of the workout, I was just there for a 600 free, 100 kick, then 2x300 free. When masters left I did another 350 to swim 1650 (a mile, eerrrrgh except I just realized that I was thinking meters, I needed another 100 for a mile. d'oh).

My ride home from the gym went smoothly. It was warm so the water had felt nice (I'm always worried it'll be cold) and riding home with wet hair was fine too. The ride was the standard route home and I was home within 30 minutes of exiting the pool. I think I'll stop by the pool more often.

My ride from work to the pool was a little bizarre though. I had the pleasure of riding with my coworker who rides to work when she can. She's adopted the moniker Artemis ever since reading about my being an Athena in the triathlon world. We followed Artemis's route to Old Sac (the nice shaded way that avoids the super busy and super slow streets), only to discover a train was blocking our access to the bike path in Old Sac. Signs indicated a bike detour but we couldn't figure out how we would actually cross the freeway on the street suggested. Artemis thought of a way we could go and we both discovered a new way to get to work on our bikes. I love the bike commute for this reason. I could ride a different way each day for a long time. I think I rode a different route each day this week actually.

Now to the subject of this post... the Folsom Lake Open Water swim race was this morning. I decided last night to participate. (I love being in condition to sign up at the last minute for a 2.4 mile swim race, or a 5k run race, etc.)  I was a little worried about the water temperature. It was 75, and without a wetsuit I was shivering until about 5 minutes into the race. I'd swam a bit to warm up before the race started, but apparently not fast enough to warm up. The course was a 1.2 mile loop (in theory, more on that later), with 5 buoys that we had to keep to our left. I had two main reasons to do this race. First, to get a time in the 2.4 mile distance (IM distance) and actually making myself swim the full distance, since it's really boring to do in a pool. Second, it seemed like a good chance to practice mass swim starts. Unfortunately I forgot about the second reason until just seconds before the race started. I tried to jump into the middle of the 80 or so swimmers to have ample opportunity to get kicked in the face and to practice pushing off other swimmers. I only had contact with about 6 or 7 swimmers though. Better luck next time.

The water was really rough for about the first 1/4 of the race. Lots of waves. Not sure if it was due to the wind, boats, or the mass of swimmers. I practiced coughing up water while keeping a good pace. This first stretch was really uncomfortable. My breathing wasn't right - too fast, hard to catch my breath. I know to expect that at the beginning of a swim race, but I didn't feel like I went out fast enough to go anaerobic. I was bumping into people a little bit here and there, which didn't bother me by itself, but when you add that to inhaling water from waves, it contributes to the overall feeling of being in a washing machine and a cold one at that. So I wasn't really thrilled at the prospect of doing two loops and considered calling it a day after one. The ironman side of me said forget that, you paid for this and it's a waste of money to not do the full 2.4, it'll be nice to have a time for 2.4 so you can make some guesses as to how IM day is going to go, and you have nothing else that needs to get done this morning so just get in a nice groove and stick to it. I warmed up pretty quickly after that, and once I made the second turn the waves didn't bother me as much, so I was set to do the full two loops.

I tried drafting off various people before deciding none of them could swim a straight line. Call me lazy but I think the shortest way between two buoys is a straight line. One guy had potential but I quickly realized he was only swimming straight because he stopped and swam breaststroke every few strokes. The risk of getting kicked was too high, and he slowed down with that breaststroke. I finally found a woman without a wetsuit who swam straight and at my pace. It was great. I decided that the best people to draft off are those without wetsuits. Perhaps because they're hardcore enough to know what they're doing. I felt bad because I tapped her toes quite a few times. After the race I apologized but she didn't seem to mind. She only had concern that she was going to accidentally kick me. All part of the game!

My time for the first loop was 32 minutes, which really surprised me. Finish time was 1:06. My pool swimming has been quite a bit slower than that pace, more like 42 minutes for 1.2 miles. I'd told Dave to expect me to finish at 1:30, give or take 10 minutes. After consulting with a few other swimmers, we came to the unanimous conclusion that the course was definitely short. Maybe more like 2 miles. (While I was talking to these swimmers in the water after the race, I accidentally dropped my RX goggles, so time to order more. They're essential for open water swimming without contacts!) If today's swim was 2.0 miles and I kept the pace up for another 0.4, then I'd finish in 1:19. That seems reasonable. The funny thing is that the only other time I've swam a 2.4 mile swim race, I had the exact same time of 1:06 (and I won!). But that was in the VI when we were swimming a lot and really trained for the event, and I think there was a bit of a current, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was a little short.

I'm getting a bit tired of doing races that aren't actually the advertised distances! But I'm glad I did the swim today instead of the 5k or 8k running races we could have done. Running races are a lot easier to come by. Actually the local high school is starting a Thursday night track meet that's open to the general public, with results being age graded, so everyone, young or old, has a chance to win. (I'm slow for a 30 year old though, so not really hopeful.) I may try to attend one of the meets and run a mile race to see if I've improved my speed at all.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sticking to the plan - or not

I'm not very good at following the plans I make. I guess I like to keep things flexible. Yesterday, after I got to work, someone on the tri club sent an email reminding everyone of the Wednesday night group open water swims with yoga at the lake on the other side of town. I got excited realizing I had actually driven to work and had my swimsuit so I could go. But by the end of the day I remembered I drove to take it easy and skip the biking that day. I wanted to make sure I'm completely over whatever bug has been bugging me lately. So I skipped the swim that I hadn't planned on doing but suddenly decided to do. I also didn't bother swimming at the pool on the way home for the same reason. So after running 6.5 miles in the morning, I went to bed feeling guilty about not doing any other workouts that day. Sometimes I think training for a marathon would be so easy compared to this.
This morning I had more plans that I failed to follow. Actually I'd written down on my calendar that I needed to bike an hour, with 6 x 20 second sprint intervals. Then swim and do weights if I hadn't done them the previous two days. I went to bed planning to drive to the park, and do my hour ride from there, then have the mini-bike commute back to the park, and could then hop in the pool at the gym if I so desired. Once I woke up I came up with the idea of just riding my bike the whole way to/from work, and bringing a lock to lock at the gym. Then I started thinking I should do weights and swim in the morning and do an hour ride after work, since it'd just involve adding 20-30 minutes to my normal ride home. Blah, blah, blah. I went back and forth so much trying to figure out my plans: which sport first, ride the whole way or halfway, which bike, which clothes if I'm doing a swim-bike combo? Having a plan and sticking to it can save so much hassle!
I ended up leaving the house 40 minutes after my planned departure, on my hybrid bike, with my lock and swim suit in one pannier. I did my hour bike ride on the way to work. But I decided 20 second intervals of speed were too short, so did 30 seconds. And I did 7 intervals instead of 6. Then I did two hill repeats in the park, just to see if the hill was long enough to be worthy of hill repeat workouts in the future. Not sure I can confidently say it is. I got downtown a few minutes early (i.e. I'd only been riding 55 minutes) so I rode around a few extra blocks to get my hour in. I event spent a few minutes stretching since I got to work early. I think I had all this extra time because 1) my planned departure time was 30 minutes off, and 2) riding my bike the whole way means my exercise starts the minute I walk out the door, not 20 minutes later after sitting in traffic. If only my commute was slightly more pleasant. I'm thinking the afternoon commute will be nicely broken up by a stop at the gym to hit the pool. Every time I ride past the gym (it's on my commute route by bike), I think about how I could stop by on the way to or from work and do some extra exercise. Today I will finally do it! It might just be a short swim, but it'll be something so that a detour to the gym won't be so strange or seem like a hassle when I'm on my bike.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shoepod and low sodium = annoying

Monday afternoon's ride home was nice. I wasn't thrilled about having to ride home, so made plans to hook up with a coworker who was also riding home the same general direction and we rode together for the first few miles. She found a new way to the park, which let us avoid the super slow street with lots of lights and the super fast street with lots of cars. It's always fun to feel like you're exploring on the bike. Once I got home, I did the brick as planned. It was fairly windy so I wasn't happy about having to go run outside, but 1) I'd posted on my blog that I was doing to do it, and 2) it might be windy at Florida, so I went for it. The run made me decide that my shoe pod is definitely not working properly. The watch I wear receives the data from the shoe pod, but on numerous occasions, I'd glance at the watch to see my pace and it would say "00:00". Not cool. [Oops, after revisiting my training log I realized I'd misread my handwriting. Originally I wrote: "But overall the data at the end seemed about right; it said I ran 2.37 miles in 22 minutes." Not right. I ran for 30 minutes, so 2.37 miles is probably a bit underestimated.] About 2 hours of exercise total on Monday. One strange thing about exercising both in the morning and the afternoon is that I don't have any large block of time to just sit around, or watch a movie, or make dinner. Basically I wake up, have breakfast, exercise, go to work, exercise, eat dinner, spend about an hour doing whatever (make next day's dinner, chat with Dave on skype, stretch) go to bed. It makes every day feel very repetitive actually.

Tuesday's plan called for an hour bike ride. I opted to do it in the morning. It was going fine until I hit the halfway mark and turned around. Then I started feeling sick. As far from my car and work as possible. I had no choice but to keep riding. I kept getting slower and felt really out of it. A bit light headed, and my heart rate was really low (110 during a workout?). I tried to make myself ride faster just so it would all be over sooner. I stopped for a snack about 10 minutes away from my office, thinking maybe I really desperately needed sodium or sugar. I was so happy to finally get to work that day! I felt a bit better after some popcorn, so I think it was a low sodium thing. Probably was also dehydrated. So have been drinking lots of fluids ever since. I skipped the swim and weights in the afternoon, figuring I should just go home. I made soup with salt and lots of water for dinner and went to bed by 9 for another night of 9 hours of sleep. I felt so much better after I woke up!

This morning I did my long run. But since this week is a recovery week, it was only 6 miles. (It's so nice to have my short long run be 6 miles when this time last year my long run was 4 miles.) It was breezy and refreshingly brisk this morning. I think today was the first time I wore my capri running pants since early April. I had more problems with the shoe pod today, noticing a lot of "00:00" listed as my pace. I kept fidgeting with it, trying to make it more secure on the laces. Maybe it's a battery issue. I just changed the battery but perhaps it wasn't a brand new battery that my dad gave me. (dad?) Needless to say, it was really annoying to be out on a run, feeling good about the run, thinking "hey, this is a good pace" and then looking to see what the pace was and seeing 00:00 minute miles (or 21:00 one time!). Other time it'd say 9:50 or 10:00, which I think was probably about what I ran the whole time. My watch says I ran 5.40 miles with an average pace of 13:29 this morning, but given the calorie burn it lists (655) and my time (1:12:53), and how it felt, I was pretty sure it was closer to 6 miles. I mapped it on Google Earth and it says 6.5 miles, so I'm sticking to 6+. I'm going to replace the shoe pod battery tonight if I remember. Hopefully that will solve the problem! It would be so annoying to be running in the ironman and have no idea what pace I was running.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Easy chilly ride to work

I had a nice and easy bike ride to work this morning. I rode my hybrid so I could carry all my lunches and snacks for the week. I wasn't able to fit my running shoes into my panniers so that eliminated the running option once I got downtown, which gave me some extra time to ride more leisurely and still add a couple extra miles. It was a nice way to ease back into biking. It took me about 50 minutes to get to work with my slight detours and slower pace, but it felt nice not to be rushed. My running equipment is just inside my front door so as soon as I get home I'll head out for a short run.
The air felt surprisingly chilly this morning. It was just 60 degrees which is a bit different from the temp at 8am in Phoenix. My lungs were a little unhappy going uphill with the colder air but they recovered soon enough. In shorts and short sleeve jersey, I felt warmed up within 20 minutes or so, except my ears. They're always so cold. Trying to decide if I want to wear ear warmers for the Ironman. Problem is it requires readjusting my helmet when I take it off (it's a thick headband). Maybe I should look into the ones that attach to each ear individually, although when I tried them this past winter, one fell off during my first run.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Scratch that

Just got back to Sacramento and I really feel like I should go for a bike/run brick but I don't think I'm up to it. I think I am getting or already am sick.  I already mentioned how I felt during yesterday's run. Last night I didn't sleep well. I was hot all night - apparently I turned the A/C down to 68 at some point - we usually keep it at 75 when sleeping and 78-79 the rest of the day. I feel like my face is hot and my belly feels crampy. I think I will take a nap instead of any more exercise today. I'm a bit worried about taking another day off since Thursday and Friday were rest days, but I also don't want to go do a half-hearted 1-2 hour workout today and get more sick and then not be able to exercise for a few more days. Hopefully a nap will nip this in the bud.

Exciting news - I finally made it off the waitlist into Vineman 70.3. It's a half iron distance race in Napa next month. It'll only be my second half iron race. A lot of people from the Sac Tri Club are doing it, including Rose. I'm looking forward to it, but I need to start incorporating more hills into my workouts. If only I lived within 20 miles of a hill...

Back in Sacramento

I haven't done much exercise since my long swim in Phoenix on Wednesday. I'd hoped to get a hike in Thursday morning before leaving to fly back home, but I stayed up too late with the family Wednesday night so Thursday became a rest day, which was plan B.  Unfortunately Friday also became a rest day when I slept 11 hours and woke up not breathing so well. Taking the asthma meds a few hours late plus all that crappy Phx air finally doing it's damage. I had plenty of things to do before driving up to Chico for the weekend to see Dave and the puppy. Oh and on the plus side, I did manage to pencil in two months of workouts into my calendar on the plane so I'm no longer living week to week (or day to day).

Saturday morning Dave and I went for a run. The plan required a 45 minute run with 6 intervals of speed bursts that lasted 30 seconds long, with 60 seconds recovery after each interval. Ten minutes into our run I felt sick to my stomach. Corn thins and lots of water may not be the best thing to eat before a run. Had I been alone, I definitely would've turned around and called it quits. But since Dave was there to carry me home if need be (or at least go get the car..), we continued. This was definitely one of those workouts that only made me stronger, since it didn't kill me. I felt better after about 25 minutes of running and decided to try the intervals. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being an all out sprint, I was supposed to run a 9. I ran the first interval at about a 5 or 6 to test how I'd feel. The rest were pretty much done at an 8 or 9. Somehow in the 45 minutes we only managed to run 3.92 miles. (I think I remember walking for a minute or two in the middle as we decided which path to take on the way back.)  Average pace was 11:29, max was 6:26. It looks like I hit about 6:30 at the end of most of my intervals, though the average paces during the intervals were far slower (7:00 to 10:00). Maybe I take longer to get to max speed than I should? I do recall seeing my current pace at 00:00 more than once, so maybe my shoe pod wasn't attached firmly enough and messed up my stats.

Heading back home soon where I plan to do a short brick workout. Maybe 2 hours total. Just something to get myself back into biking, and to maintain my running mileage for the week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Meters vs. Yards

Swimming in the Phoenix area in the summer is so nice! The water is never too cold and it always feels so nice to be in the water that I never want to stop swimming. If you live in or visit the area, Cactus Pool in Scottsdale is great. $2 per visit includes access to the pool and the gym! I haven't checked out the gym because I always forget to bring my closed toed shoes, but the pool is great. Always plenty of lanes open since it's an L-shaped 50 meter pool that is usually setup as two 25 yard pools..

This afternoon I swam 3250 yards, which is 1.84659091 miles (according to Google). Would've been nice to swim a nice even 2 miles, but I thought the swim team was about to ask me to move to the other pool, and I had lots of other things I needed to be doing today. Actually I'm glad I got out when I did because as soon as I walked out of the facility they announced an emergency pool evacuation drill. Not sorry to have missed that.

I should probably be using my watch/lap counter to keep track of how long each X yards takes me, but I have a Polar heart rate monitor watch and when the battery runs out, I have to actually send it to a specific place in Los Angeles to have them replace it. I don't want to have to do it again before November, so since heart rate doesn't mean much in the pool, I just don't use the watch in the pool. As far as I can remember, I swam the first 20 lengths (250 years) in about 9 minutes, the next in 10, next in 10, and left me with the first 65 lengths in 32 minutes. I paid attention to 65 because I was thinking it was a mile until I remembered I was swimming yards, not meters.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who is bothered by the difference in yards and meters. Training books always give the workouts and just say do it in meters or yards. Sure if you're not swimming very far it doesn't matter, but 1600 meters is a mile (ok 0.994 mile, but close enough) but 1600 yards is only 0.9090 mile! So six lengths, 150 yards, and 3 minutes later I had swam as close to a mile as I could get without swimming a partial lap. One mile took me 35 minutes. At that pace, I'd finish 2.4 miles in 1 hr 24 minutes. My goal time is 1:30 so I guess that's okay. (My goal is pretty conservative and allows for getting kicked in the face/neck/stomach and stopping to cry for a minute or two, I figure it's nice to start a race feeling like I'm ahead of schedule.)

My memory isn't so good after the 1 mile mark... Very rough guesses: I think I swam 80 lengths in about 42 minutes (or was it 84 (1.2 miles)..?) and I hit 100 lengths around 53 minutes. Total was 130 in 67ish minutes. (Pace = 2.4 miles in 1:27.)

Vacation is going way too quickly. I think this is the first time I've ever taken 2 full weeks off from any job, and I'm amazed at how quickly the time has flown. I'd hoped to do more, like a rent a bike and go for a long ride while I was here. But I just have the time. It'll be interesting to get back on my bike tomorrow after I get home and see if my legs remember how to pedal hard!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Nightmares and long run

Last night I had an ironman nightmare. It was the big day and I had forgotten to do lots of preparation for race day. For example, I'd forgotten to put my glasses in my T2 bag, which meant I was going to be running in my sunglasses in the dark. I hadn't even realized this was a potential problem until I had this dream. I'll need an extra pair of glasses if I decide to go the glasses route instead of contacts, since the T1 and T2 bags all get dropped off a day or two before the race. I don't remember much else about the dream but I felt totally unprepared for the race.

I did my long run this morning, running 12 miles in the neighborhood. I did my standard 4 mile loop three times. My pace was 11:19 so it took 2 hours and 15 minutes. I didn't keep a consistent pace throughout, as I ran a bit faster in the middle lap. I followed the run 8 minutes, walk 1 minute like I did last week. My legs got a bit tired by the end. Definitely need to stretch tonight.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Swimming drills

Swam about 45 minutes with lots of drills today. I lost track of the laps once I started drills. Since I was making my workout up as I went along, I'm not entirely sure how far I swam. Probably about 1-1.2 miles. I swam a 500 warmup, then a few laps of random drills, like "swimming downhill" where you focus on pushing your upper torso down into the water to bring your hips up -- a balance drill. I also did a few kick only laps with the same focus. Then I worked on speed a little by doing a ladder of swimming 50, then 100, then 150, then 200. I swam at the top on each of those (i.e. when the second hand was at 0, so giving myself 1 minute per 50) and by the 200 I had way too much rest time. In theory I should've then swam a 150, 100, and 50, but I decided to go back to drills. Practiced the shark fin drill which focuses on rotation, did some fingertip drags, practiced pushing my hands in more forcefully since I've been told that I tend to gently place my right hand flat in the water. I also did some breathing drills - both the kind to get used to not breathing as often and the kind to make sure my head placement is proper when I do breathe. I swam a cooldown too. It was fun seeing all the kids at swim team practice, which was starting when I arrived. They set the 50 meter pool up so that there are two 25 yd pools, so the kids didn't get in my way. But it reminded me of when I was a kid swimming all summer long here in Phoenix. 

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Running weekend

Friday I'd planned to run 4 miles, but when I started my foot hurt. I kept adjusting my shoe, stretching my ankle, etc, but after about 5 or 10 minutes I decided I should give up and try again tomorrow. I did part of a pilate dvd instead. My abs are still feeling that. (Also getting in plenty of ab workouts because my brothers make me laugh so much.)

Tried running again Saturday morning and had the same problem. I finally realized it was the slant of the street that was irritating my foot. Usually I run a counterclockwise loop, and I'd decided to run the other direction so my hips and legs wouldn't get sore from always turning left. But when I run clockwise from my parents house, I usually run on the wrong side of the street past the first 4 houses to eliminate two extra street crossings. So as soon as I realized it might be the street slant, I continued the run and sure enough as soon as I turned right and ran on the left side of the road, my foot stopped hurting. Perhaps this is an indication that I need to get a new heel insert for my right shoe (to even out my slightly shorter leg). My run felt nice once I solved that problem. Nice enough that I decided to do the 4 mile loop instead of just the 1.5 mile loop twice. I'd left a bottle of water by the front door of the house, figuring I'd stop by in the middle to quench my thirst. But the 4 mile loop doesn't come near the house at all. I had to cut it short when I realized the country club's water fountain had been moved into a secured area, unavailable to trespassers like me. So I just ran 3 miles, but that was fine because I knew I'd find someone to hike or run with Sunday morning with all the family in town. I did go for a short bike ride last night too, but it was more of a leisurely fun ride with my friend and not really a workout. It's strange not having my bike while I'm in AZ after having spent so much time on the bike last month! Without long bike rides, my workout hours have sure shrunk.

This morning my sister-in-law and I ran 4 miles. I slept in (until 8!!) so I was afraid she'd have gone without me, but she waited. We'd planned to run 3, basically doing the 3 mile loop I'd done on Saturday, but carrying water this time. But we were enjoying it so much we went for 4, to burn off some of the excess calories we'd consumed in the form of carrot cake (GF and regular - my mom is a baking machine!). My brother rode a bike along the route with us for part of it. Jumping in the pool afterwards is always a nice way to cool off! Tonight some of us are going for a night hike. The city pool has longer lap swim hours M-F so I'll probably aim for a real swim tomorrow or Tuesday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Swimming and wetsuit shopping

Swam at the local pool today. I love how the Phoenix metro area has so many public pools available for lap swimming. $2 for lap swimming and the use of the gym weights. The pool I like to use now is the one where the state recreational swim meet was each summer when I was a kid. I think I swam in the same lane today as I did about 16 years ago in a race. But instead of swimming 50 yards, I swam 2640 yards (1.5 miles, 105.6 lengths of the pool). Took me almost an hour, ~ 57 minutes. I was feeling slow today. I think I was at about 9 minutes for the first 500, 10 for the second 500, and was at 1.2 miles in 45 minutes. Last time I just swam 1.2 straight it took 42 minutes. Oh well, what can I expect. That was a month ago and I've only been to the pool once since then.
After the hour swim I went wetsuit shopping at Triple Sports. The people who worked there seem really nice. I talked to two different people on the phone (both owners I think) and dealt with their employee while in the shop. I tried the Zoot Synergy, Orca Equip, Blue Seventy Synergy and Blue Seventy Reaction. I'd swam in the Zoot Fuzion in the Ice Breaker events in April and didn't like where the neckline hit me. I tried the next step up in the Zoot line but it was the same way. The Orca had a fantastic neckline, but the rest of the suit was disappointing. It was really hard to get on (did not fit my shape right) and the arms have special things to make them more buoyant (--> more speedy) and the seem where they attached to the rest of the arm was really uncomfortable.The Blue Seventy suits both fit really well and the neckline was a definite improvement over the Zoots. I could definitely feel the difference in flexibility between the suits and think I'd prefer the more expensive one. Blue Seventy suits have more sizes available (i.e. I'm a Medium-Large, an actual size between M and L!) and the ML fit great. The guy at the shop actually discouraged me from buying it though unless I planned to maintain my current weight. He said it fit perfect as-is and it might get too big if I lost any. I'm optimistic that I can lose a few more (at least when I'm not at my parents' house), so he said I should hold off and buy later. Who knows if I can get down a full size though, in which case I'm back to the drawing board for trying on wetsuits. Trying on a wetsuit in Phoenix in the summer is tough work! 4 per hour!
I didn't leave the store with a wetsuit in hand though. So I'm still undecided about Saturday's race because I think I'd be happier with a wetsuit. I'd like to do it because it'd force me to swim 2.4 miles - and open water long distance is almost always nicer than in a pool. But after my 1.5 mile swim I was reminded of that nice post-swim relaxed feeling that makes you just want to curl up and take a nap. Saturday will be a busy family day so not sure how that'd work. And swim registration fee + wetsuit rental fee = less to spend on buying a wetsuit later. I think there are some open water swim races coming up in the Sac area soon though...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

157 Days Until Ironman Florida

No good words to really explain my last week. My grandpa died on Saturday afternoon. He was 91 and lived a full life, sharing a lifelong love with my grandma, but it doesn't make his passing any easier. This Sunday would be their 70th anniversary, and we'll be celebrating his life and their love this weekend in Phoenix. It'll be nice to see the whole family - 5 generations. We put in our vacation requests at work in January, so I'd already asked for the first two weeks of June off to be in AZ for the anniversary party. I'm glad because I think I need the break and the family time. 

My worrying about my grandpa getting moved to hospice on Friday led to increased emotional energy which I spent entirely on the bike commute both ways. Near record time on the morning commute (31:14) and record time on the way home (26:30). I am pretty sure I'd only ridden sub-30 once before so the ride home amazed me. I'm sure there must have been some wind to help, but mostly I was thinking about my grandparents. 

Friday night I drove up to Chico, as Saturday morning Dave's academy class was putting on a 5k race. The race went well and I was the second female finisher (not out of two! out of three!) and I was only a few seconds behind #1. But by my shoe pod calculations, it was only 2.95 miles, not 3.1. Had it been 3.1, I would've PRed as my time was 25:00, so I was running an 8:28 min mile pace. I felt like I could've kept it up for another 0.2 miles which would've meant a 26:16 finish. I think my 5k PR is in the 31-32 minute range, and I know I've never finished sub-30. So I'm in the market for a real 5k race to do. There's one Sunday morning here in AZ that I'm considering, but given how hot it is here they start at 6:30am on the other side of town, so still just considering. After the "5k" race (which Dave won, but that's another story), Dave and I ran up the "officer down" hill a few times and then we volunteered to walk the course again to pick up all the course markers. Then I recalibrated my shoe pod on the track by running another mile. (The shoe pod had actually indicated the race was 2.90 but after recalibrating it we determined the course was 2.95 miles.)  By the time we got home, I decided I didn't really feel like riding my bike even though I was desperately falling behind Rose in our contest. My legs were really, really tired though, and I knew I wasn't going to feel like biking 150 miles over Saturday + Sunday to win, so why bother trying at all when I probably needed to give my legs a break. They'd been really sore and tired for a few days. The rest of Saturday was sad. We drank some beers for grandpa. thank goodness for gluten-free beer. Due to various kitchen mishaps (shoe polish in 350 degree oven = very bad (and long story)), we had a very late dinner out and minimal sleep was had by all.

On Sunday I didn't feel like doing anything. At some point I put on all my cycling gear, got my food and drink ready for a short one hour ride. I thought it'd be good exercise and probably be good to get outside and get some fresh air and stretch my legs a bit. Then I took the dog out for a potty break before my ride. We came back inside and I put my helmet on. Then I realized how exhausted I was. Mentally, emotionally, physically. So instead of a ride, I took a shower and a nap. Monday was pretty much the same, but I spent more time walking the dog. Bidwell Park in Chico is a really nice place for a run or a walk, and probably for a short bike ride. Then I headed back to Sac to work on my To Do list before leaving town.

Yesterday morning I rode on my bike trainer for 45 minutes, did some abs, and that was it. I'd dreamed of swimming but I just had too many other things to do. And swimming is not hard to do in AZ!

This morning I did my long run. I ran 11 miles, avg 11:35 min miles. I employed the run/walk method. I am trying to be careful with my mileage increase, but since I figured my long run last week was actually more than the 9.68 miles my shoe pod had indicated, I opted for 11. I'd read some of my ironman training book (Going Long, by Friel) on the plane, and learned that while increasing mileage at 10% per week is usually recommended, it's okay to do 15% if the run/walk ratio is closer to 6:1. (i.e. run 6 minutes, walk 1.) My total weekly mileage increase was probably about 12%, therefore I decided to run 8 and walk 1. Fairly similar to last week's pace where I'd used more of a 10:1 ratio. I started my run way too late in the morning, it was after 7:30. It was almost 90 degrees when I finished, and it felt a lot hotter. Yay for the swimming pool in the backyard to use for a cool down. 

In sum, I've had an exhausting week. Tomorrow will be a swim day, if I go to bed early enough to get to the public pool during lap swimming house. No way am I swimming long in a 15 yd pool. Saturday there's an open water swim race nearby, but I need to either buy or rent a wetsuit, or get tough.

Final total for Bike Month contest:
Rose: 744
Kendra: 607

Rose is a cycling machine! I'm so glad bike month is over! I'm also incredibly proud of Rose for starting a bike commute for the first time and sticking with it for the rest of the month. Totally worth buying her a dinner for winning the contest! And to think our initial goals for the month were 300 and 301. I definitely learned that cycling should be the focus for my training. If I can ride 112 miles and have my legs still be fresh enough to run a marathon, I'll be in great shape for the ironman. I rode two centuries this month and if it hadn't been for the contest I would've only done one, or I might have pushed it off another month thinking I wasn't ready. Instead, I rode 1/3 of my month's miles in two days. I love it when I impress myself.

Five months to go. It seems incredibly soon when I think about my running. But then I read all these books saying I shouldn't run for more than 3 hours straight, and I'm at 2:07 right now, so... maybe it is doable. It's certainly an adventure. I'm sad I won't be able to call grandpa on November 8 and tell him all about the Ironman race. When I saw him last week I told him about my 100 mile bike ride and I know he had no doubt that I'll finish the Ironman on November 7. He's got faith in me, so I do, too. I just need to hold on to that faith when things aren't looking so good. I know there will be a time during the race, just as there are times during the training, where I question myself and my commitment and my desire. But in the end, I just need to keep going. One stroke, one pedal, and one step at a time.