Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Catch Up

Oh, where to start? 

Yeah, I abandoned my blog a bit post-Kona, which is a shame because I actually do enjoy writing and need to make more time for it.  My absence has nothing to do with a lack of material -- there's been a lot going on -- but to be honest, the lot left me slightly overwhelmed and blogging fell by the wayside.  So here's a little catch up...

Triathlon-wise, after Hawaii I took my forced down time like a big girl,  but I didn't like it one little bit.  Maybe I'm alone in this (I can't think that I am, but it's possible), but I struggle with off-seasons.  Sure, I don't mind catching up on my wine consumption, having the time to see friends, staying up a little later, all that stuff.  But I also need the endorphins and the routine that triathlon training brings to feel like a properly functioning, bearable human being. 
I did/ do enjoy these kinds of nights, however,
Still, after pretty much an entire year of hitting the training hard, my body (and maaaybe mind) needed the rest, that was obvious, so I took a few weeks of doing very little, activity-wise, spent a little bit of time with my foot in a walking cast (all better now!), wined and dined and brunched and occasionally ate Skittles for lunch.  I kept that up for a few weeks, growing grumpier and grumpier by the day, until it was time to get back on a schedule. 
Post-Skittle Lunch sentiments.  HT: Karin.
But on the plus side, I also used that down-time to work on some weaknesses. I moved back into my condo in May.  Between May and October, the extent of my use of the appliances in my kitchen was fairly heavy microwave utilization, and a teeny-tiny bit of use of my stove, mostly for scrambling eggs.   Here's my confession.....I eat (ate) horribly.  I mostly eat (ate) out, especially when the training load picked up.    Last summer, I think I kept the Chicagoland Chipotle restaurants in business.  Let's not talk about Arby's.  I don't (didn't) make the best choices with food selection and my training and recovery often suffered as a result.  Jelly beans are not the fuel of champions!  I'd try to clean things up, diet-wise, for the weeks before big races, and I was somewhat successful with that, but overall, food and eating was my big weakness last year.

So I took the last couple months to learn how to eat and how to cook.  I consulted with a dietician.  I bought a Vitamix that I became obsessed with.  I began cooking big, healthy meals on Sunday evenings that lasted me through the week (and then some).  I started eating vegetables and actually liking them. Who knew eggplant was so flippin' delicious??

The Precious
 And with the help of my Super Baker/ Cook/ Food Blogger/ Kick Ass Cyclist friend Andrea, I baked a pretty ornate and delicious (if I do say so myself) apple pie for our office's Bake-Off.  I did not win, and I'm not bitter, but I think it was rigged.  Just sayin'.  
Baking AND wine = proper off-season
My apple pie and a ridiculous sweater vest I bought when I was taper crazy
 Aside from that, there's been a progressive increase in training.  Once I got back at it, I spent a month feeling horrible and slow and weak, convincing myself that I was washed up, had no fitness at all and would never be fast again.  I was quite the pain in the ass! 
Great mug from my sister and pretty accurate representation of my enthusiasm for training that first month
But then, after about a month of getting back into a consistent schedule and building a base (and panicking) I did some baseline testing and surprised myself.  First up... a 5K/ run test.  I was supposed to race a Turkey Trot while I was home in Ohio, but I slept through the race.  To atone for my sin, I signed up for a local 5K the next weekend.  But then it got cold.  Really cold.  Like, 7 degrees, feels like -8 degrees cold.  

I've spent winters running in Providence, Boston, and obviously Chicago, so while I can't remember actually doing so, I am sure I have run in colder weather at some point.  I can guarantee, however, that I have never raced in such frigid temperatures.  It hurt, so very badly.  My fingers were numb.  My nose felt like it was going to fall off.  I was breathing incredibly loud, even for me, because the cold, dry air really bugged my lungs.  

But I ran as hard as I could (which, wow, really hurt after a month of only slow, aerobic jogging) and was pretty shocked to win the race in a time that was pretty darn good for me, and actually, as fast as I've run a 5K in eight years.  

When they asked me to spell my name at the end of the race, my frozen mouth had trouble forming the letters, but we got through that, they snapped this lovely picture (could I look any colder?) and I hustled inside to warm up.  My sinuses felt like they were going to explode for the next 15 minutes. 
A few days later I did a bike test, which I was 100% fully convinced was going to be a disaster, wasn't.  In fact, it was pretty good (for me), so I chilled out a bit on the ole' I'm totally out of shape panic and trudged forward.

That was all early December.  Since then, life's been a bit....messy.  I spent the holidays with my family, which was a wonderful respite and so very necessary, but aside from that, December's a month I'd be OK with forgetting.  The one thing that's kept me sane-ish has been the swim/ bike/ run.  I don't think it's necessarily good to use exercise to escape from feelings, blah blah blah, but I did a lot of that in December and it is what it is.  On the plus side, there have been some awesome workouts (including an extra special swim I did today that I think is worth a blog entry of its own, not because I like blogging about my workouts but because it was a big deal to me). 
Brother / Family Time, trying to get a decent pic
And now it's 2014.  I'm kind of excited about a new calendar year and new beginnings.  2013, on whole, was a pretty amazing year for me with a slight down-tick there at the end.  I don't know how 2014 is going to take shape, but I know it's going to be way, way different.  There are some big changes in store and that's invigorating in its own way.  But for now, I'm just plugging along, trying to do the little things right and make each day count.  And staying warm!  Sorta. 
This nonsense has been going on for like 9 weeks now
High of NEGATIVE 12?  Wha, wha?

1 comment:

  1. The "I Tri" mug is perfect.... that about sums up my off-season... meh. That or the "iron manatee". That's all - can't wait to see you kill it in 2014!