Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Daylight savings...

What a bad idea this was. For those who don't know, daylight savings has been extended by Congress. As originally conceived it is a failed energy policy and yet Congress lengthened daylight savings adding a few more weeks. Did anyone really ask for this...I doubt it.

Toil we must to get through these next several months when the only view of the sun is practically limited to your afternoon walk. I like the dark but not a lot of it. I like 8-10 hours of it to aid my sleep. I don't object to running in the dark, I find it calming, knowing the sun will inevitably rise fills me with hope. I hate leaving work in the pitch black, everyone looks so different, so hurried. Once I was in Alaska for the summer white nights. At midnight the sun illuminates your surroundings. I remember seeing some folks leave a bar inebriated and at the time I found it very strange until it occurred to me, "these are night people in the daylight."

I find this time of year to be similar, we are day people in the moonlight. Here is hoping the winter solstice comes on us quickly and gives us back a minute or two of daylight each day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hats off...or on to my friends from MN

I travel a lot for work and while that can get tiring there still is a sense of awe at discovering a new city. Earlier this spring I was in Minneapolis. I remember as we were landing looking at all of those lakes and thinking this is a great tri-city. I had a great run, a great meal, and the weather was perfect--all of which adds up to a wonderful experience.

This week, I headed back to Minneapolis. The weather was quite different, beautiful but exceptionally crisp--the locals call it balmy. The high was 42 the low was 26. I was searching for my gloves and mapping out the skywalks (for those who don't know the entire city is inter-connected by a series of skywalks so you do not have to go outside in inclement weather). As I looked outside, I was stunned to see Minnesotans running and biking.

Now, I am undeterred in winter weather mostly because I hate the treadmill. I know how to layer and I've run with minus 10 windchills. I'm certain Minnesotans do this too, only under much more extreme circumstances. So, to my friends to the north hats off to your serious fortitude.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The intimidation factor

This may be a coincidence, but in the last two days I have run into two triathletes at two separate meetings in DC and in FL. I try not to think about my worlds merging together when my professional world and my sports passion cross--were I to ponder this I would not find comfort.

Nonetheless, in casual conversation the same response occurred. In the first instance, I noticed a guy with a certain sports watch and I was curious if his GPS system works more effectively then mine. There is nothing more frustrating then going out on a long run and having your GPS system continually lose its signal. When I asked him about his watch I first asked if he was a runner. He responded, "No, I'm a triathlete". Funny how I never assume that someone is a triathlete. Anyhow, I said that I was a triathlete as well and asked him his distance. He replied, "Olympic only". He asked what I was training for and I replied, "Lake Placid". Immediately, he repeated to me how his job did not allow him to train more so he could never do anything more than an Olympic. I get that, it's not for everyone--there are time issues, and distance issues, and personal sacrifice issues. He got really defensive and I remember thinking how it was odd. It was as if he heard me say "if you don't do iron distance you aren't a triathlete".

Fast forward to FL where I met a woman who is new to triathlon. She had a great first race and I encouraged her to do more races--who wins their age group first time out of the gate (or for some of us, ever). She also asked what I was training for and I said I was looking forward to Lake Placid. Again, more defensiveness. She expressed how work didn't allow her to compete at that distance.

What do I make of all this? While my survey is far from complete, it seems to me that people are intimidated to meet the crazies like me who are willing to put themselves to the test in an Ironman. In my view, I am no different then any other triathlete or any other average American. I think anyone can do endurance sports but I also know that not everyone wants to. So to my friends who like the olympic and sprint distances, more power to you. I am just not fast enough for the sprint and now that I have done a half-Ironman the Olympic distance is only exciting if there is some environmental condition that makes it difficult--like extreme heat. In my world, I think ultra-marathoners are a bit extreme because I never see myself doing it but I doubt if I ever met someone who was an ultra-marathoner that I would be defensive about my short mileage runs.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Swimming is boring, or not

I have a friend that once said to me that he would never do a triathlon because swimming was too boring. True, it is monotonous. Stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe, where is the wall...... Is that really so bad?

Sometimes I use my swim to organize my day--conference call at 9:30, be sure to copy my presentation on to my thumb drive, do I know what airline I am taking, don't forget to submit my weekly program report....blah, blah, blah. Mainly, I use it to process. Usually I process work-related stressors like how to deal with personnel issues, or what I will say to X funder, or on a good day when the light at the end of the tunnel is an interview I practice my responses to interview questions. I use my swim to rehearse my conversations and organize my thoughts.

Is swimming boring? In my view that is the wrong way to look at it. Does swimming offer an opportunity to self-reflect? Oh, yeah (she says in her Canadian border town accent) you betcha!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bikram Yoga

With encouragement from my massage therapist, I took a Bikram Yoga class this week. I was confused, I didn't think this was the hot yoga. What's hot yoga--yoga conducted in a room that is heated to 113 degrees. To be fair, this might be a slight exaggeration of the temperature but it certainly felt like 113 degrees to this heat-intolerant cold weather gal.

I'm interested in yoga for two reasons: one, to help with my flexibility and stretching, and two, to help improve my balance by working on my core. It was an incredibly arduous class but I think I did most of the poses correctly--note I didn't say most flexibly. Still, I was grateful for a man in the class that was having more difficulty then me. No offense man in blue shorts, but you gave me confidence and made me feel good about myself. I think he was there in the company of his wife, I'd be surprised if he came back next week.

During the class, I was willing the clock to move. Apparently I have no telepathy skills. It was an hour and a half of intense exercise and I was sweating profusely. In fact, before we hit the first pose sweat was pouring off of my elbows. For the next several days my back was killing me. Will I go back? Probably, it will be good for me in the off season. Would I recommend it to my friends, well....maybe those that were deserving of such an extreme workout.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Why couldn't I have been born a fish?

I see people swim effortlessly and I stare in envy. I think there are people who are just naturally swimmers. They smile when they come to the pool, they slip into the water as if it were their natural environment, they eloquently and yet speedily move up and back in their swim lanes. In my mind, these are people whose parents drove them to swim practice everyday since they were 5.

When I enter the water, I do so with dread. I'm reminded of the dreadful swim lessons I took as a child at the Aquatic Club where I learned little outside of how to make the time pass without having to swim. It is unnatural for me to be in the water, I am a land animal but perhaps this is why I enjoy the Sysophean task of trying to improve my swim leg in the triathlon. I have good days, and bad days in the water but each day I work toward the goal of swimming effortlessly like the person in the next lane. If I couldn't be born a fish, all I ask is that I do the best human imitation.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I'm Lost

I'm lost in my off-season. For the last 9-plus months I have gotten up every morning and had a plan. Lift weights, swim, ride to work. Long-run. Bike 55 miles, run 10 miles. Hill ride, swim.

This is the off-season. A time I am dedicating to recovery, base building, and form in the pool. It is suggested to run, bike, and swim twice a week in the off-season. The problem is, I'm addicted to endorphins. While I know my 44-year old body needs to rest and recover (I'd love not to carry my ITBS into next season) it is really difficult to get a rush out of this limited phase of exercise. My runs are supposed to be less than an hour but it's hard not to go longer when the weather is ideal and I feel great.

I struggle against myself....is there a 12-step program for endorphin addiction?