An Open Letter to My Personal Trainer, David

Well David, it’s that time again, where I’ve done something rash and signed up for something I probably shouldn’t do. There’s a timeline involved, and some frankly optimistic requirements; I figured I’d apologize now and get it over with.

You see, I let the Ms.Krieant sign me up for Tough Mudder, and I have a little under 13 weeks to get ready. It has some impressive obstacles, most of which have me scared out of my mind, but as you know once I’ve said I’ll do something, I’ll do it…

…as long as I get to whine a lot about it.

So I realize that up until now your charge has been mostly to try to get me stronger while avoiding the injury of the month; in our short tenure together this has meant occasionally avoiding my knees, my neck, my upper back, my lower back, or my right hip. Now we need to ignore all of that, because I will need all of those parts working and functional.

I also realize that this means that the chattiness of our sessions will have to reduce, that we can no longer freely evaluate others in the gym as you hand me five more pounds of something or have me do 15 more push-ups. It means that you’re likely to give me homework, that I will need to actually do weight work more than twice a week, and that I will be very, very sore these ensuing weeks.

But David, I’m turning 40.

I realize this isn’t much to you — I think 40 hit and flew by for you about a decade ago, not that you’d notice, being an ex-Marine and all. I realize this isn’t much to most of our early-morning compatriots, as I think the average age at the gym at our time of morning is mid-50’s. It isn’t technically even much to me in the sense that I’m not having a huge to-do over it, nor do I want to see black balloons, nor do I think the day after my birthday I will suddenly fall apart or feel older. The fact is, David, I’m tired of having my body feel older now.

Five years ago I entered into a half marathon, having never run, because someone told me I couldn’t do it. (Actually, he laughed and said, “yah, right”). Three years ago I entered into a 2-day, 160-mile bike ride because someone said I wouldn’t want to do it. Last year I did the STP pretty much under the same auspices. And each time, I injured myself either in training or in the event itself. But each time, I did the training without any professional help.

You’re here to fix that, David, because at 40, I’ve decided I’m tired of injuring myself. And this likely means I’ll have to do a lot of things I was heretofore unprepared to do, like go to the gym more than 4 times per week and maybe, actually, you know, stretch. Perhaps even do my regular PT exercises. I have a support group in my friends — one lent a very pertinent book (Supple Leopard, indeed), one gave me tips on how to deal with the electric shocks (or at least a realistic impression of what they’re like). But your job is to make sure I’m ready, and so I really do hope you’ll understand the bullet-pointed list you’re going to get when next we see each other.

I still reserve the right to whine, though.

Event Driven

In keeping with my usual way of doing things (e.g., the dopamine rush that one gets from chocolate, online Scrabble, and checking things off of one’s list) I have signed on for a whole bunch of stuff this year. Some I will discuss, and some I will not. There will likely be an announcement of the Not Currently Discussed Items around June or July. But this isn’t about that. Think of it as one of those teaser trailers before the show.

The Events of 2011, at least sporting wise, are:

  • A 5-k run. Yep, I have to get back into running. I’ll be starting a team of at least 10 here at Expedia for the American Lung Association’s annual 5k, and so I shall go forth to the Running Shoe Store where they will provide me with shiny new shoes. Be prepared for posts about sore knees, the amazing physics of excess flab as you run, and whether or not this was really a good idea. Also, I have to raise money.
  • A 2-day double-century bike ride, known as the STP. The Seattle To Portland, more specifically, and training for that has already begun. The fact that as part of training we will be riding 80 miles one day and 80 miles the next which is what I did for The Whole Ride last year is a bit of an eye-catcher.
  • An October stair climb event for the ALA (place to be determined). Again with the raising money.
  • And then, depending on how things went with the 5 k– the Seattle Half Marathon in November. Again.

Folding into this training schedule is that thing I call my job, which I love but which has gone up to 11 as of last November and *stayed there*. When your boss looks at you earnestly and asks you when you’re going to take any time off, and at least three coworkers suggest you need a drink, you may need to take some time off. But when you’re committed to having everything come off PERFECT or at least NOT MESSED UP then you have a hard time putting down the iPhone and the Email. The Job is having me travel a bit this year, including to Geneva (let’s hope my luggage doesn’t get lost) and then there’s personal travel too (hello, Phoenix! Hello, Hawaii!).  Oh, and then there’s boy schedule and its companions of sports and karate and boy scouts and camp and PTSA in there too. Mustn’t forget that.

This year is the first year I’m operating completely without a paper calendar. Usually, I am the recipient of a calendar from a friend who likes dogs, from a family member who defaults to Calendars, and some sort of work gift thing. And this year, I got none of it. My wall at work is empty, my dedicated calendar space at home is devoid of said calendarage. I’m operating completely on my Google and Outlook (syncd!) calendars. It will be an experiment in e-venting, I’m sure.

What I’m discovering thus far is that I need to stick to plans if I’m going to make them. When you put in your calendar that you are going to go to spin class, it’s because you realized two weeks ago when you put that there that you had a 7am call the next day and so you wouldn’t make it to *that* spin class and if you were going to get your required weekly time in the saddle then yes you really did need to do spin class on Thursday. Or when I lay out the menu for the week then I really do need to stick with it because if I wing it and use the potatoes with the pork tenderloin instead of the pasta then that means the chicken has to now go with the rice and you have to put peas with potatoes which takes it away from the cacciatore that was supposed to go with the pasta. Oh, and you end up with really weird menu combinations, which sounds fine for Iron Chef but not for Random Sammamish Hurried Dinner Wednesday.

I have — and love — my iPhone. I may need to expand its applications to help me keep the dopamine rush at a steady state.  Meanwhile, you are to fully expect more e-Venting.

PS — Starbucks is releasing a 31 ounce coffee drink. ‘Nuff said.

Swim Bike Run… more Bike, less Swim and Run?

Today I went on a lovely figure-8 jaunt of Lake Union with Ms. Krieant that featured brunch at Dish. I could rave about Dish, and I should, given that a garden omelette with eggbeaters was clearly so awesome that I scarfed it in seconds (note: Dish does not take cards. I do not carry cash. The bar next door has a cash machine, and sells Bitburger. Ok that’s enough plug there.)

Biking is now my favorite of the three pieces of a tri. Running is to the state where I am having to tape, and whine, and I suspect new shoes will be purchased and ibuprofen and glucosamine will feature as regular items in my morning routine. Swimming is not hot either, what with the hair messiness of it all (I just got it did, okay?) Also, swimming isn’t nearly as social. If you think it is, I invite you to go swimming laps with a friend and carry on a conversation. And I don’t think you can bring your tunes with you.

I am realizing though how much better a day is with *some* form of exercise. It’s better than coffee… (yes, I really did just say that).

Glub Glub

Very little in my life is safe from the rationalization that an Excel spreadsheet offers. Within rows and columns, little formulas and “if” statements valiantly try to take the somewhat-partial data I have and render a decision for me. The spreadsheets are rarely seen by anyone other than myself, as it would be akin to airing my entire thought process — even those thoughts that you don’t tell anyone you have but you actually have. I have a coefficient for budget splurges based on average monthly temperature, for example.

The spreadsheet has had me purchase a triathlon wetsuit. I’m totally blaming the spreadsheet.

Renting a triathlon wetsuit is $40 for a six-day span (Thurs-Tues). Purchasing a decent one is about $160. I have 6  weekends of swimming ahead of me, and more if I end up doing the Black Diamond. $240 being patently more money than $160, I caved.

Would that it were that easy to get back in the water again. Swimming laps in a pool is a semi-boring chore that offers at least the diversion of the occasional mouthful of chlorinated water. Swimming in the open water means that occasional mouthful is of something that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike water. There are *things* floating in there. It doesn’t taste good. 

The thing is,  having done a tri before, I’m shirking more than I ought. Even though my first few runs have been at a pathetic pace, I’m still in the “oh three miles no big deal it’s not like I have to actually *train* or anything” mindset, and this is naturally extending to my lack of workouts (only 2 in the last 4 days) and thusly the scale making noises at me.

I need to build a spreadsheet for that, I think.

Fitness in the Hairdryer

In Phoenix, Monsoon season begins in mid July, which means we’re just before it. This also means winds. Winds, in 110 degree heat. It’s like living in a hairdryer.

Living in the hairdryer isn’t all that bad, in and of that you actually spend the hottest part of the day indoors in lovely ubiquitous air conditioning. You slather yourself with spf 1000, wear sunglasses and hats, wear loose cotton clothing, and learn to accept that tile is in fact a good floor covering. Phoenix is the exact opposite of where I live: dry and hot means no wood floors, no pine trees and ferns, my hair BEHAVES, my skin BEHAVES, and buildings are low and long. I wouldn’t retire here but am glad to have a second Casa Conti to go to.

Working out in the hairdryer, however, is a whole other kettle of fish (or terra cotta pot of lizards, I guess). Yesterday I got up at 6:30AM to run — because by 7am it’s too late. I ran a mere mile, and I did it at more of a “jogging” pace (we’re at 1,700 feet here and my parents have somehow managed to purchase a home in an area full of mild uphill grade cul-de-sacs), but imagine running face first into a hairdryer. It was great in and of that I didn’t perspire, water wicks away near-instantly. However, breathing in hot air while running uphill? Not so much. I plan to get up at 6am tomorrow in hopes of a 5-degree difference.

Swimming in the hairdryer is also interesting. My parents have a pool that is about 30′ long and I swam very small laps this morning with a small child wanting to occasionally be tossed about in the water. So it would be swim swim swim pause throw child swim swim swim pause throw child swim swim. After 40 minutes of this you get out of the pool and are COLD because somehow the 80 degree pool water in a 95 degree blowing heat evaporates and makes you cold, for the first five minutes.

And then you’re back in the hairdryer.

Back Anywhere But The Saddle Again

Having just completed 160 miles on a bike I really am not sweating training for the 12 cycling miles of the Danskin. I *will* get on the bike, I just haven’t this week. I also haven’t run, or swam, this week either. This week I was very very very lazy, workout wise. This week was full of travel (coming back from Vancouver, to/from SF, and now to Phx), full of food (Mom’s house, a beer tasting, Chupacabra’s baby-size burritos, etc.), full of drinks (well, naturally), and full of work (which is fun).  That said, I will shortly (erm, 2 hours?) be in Phoenix, Arizona, and must correct all of this laziness.

It is 110 degrees F (43.3 degrees C) in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a dry heat.

This means if I want to run (and I need to do it at least twice while there) I need to do it at 6am. If I want to swim (and I need to do it at least once while there) I need to do it in the early morning or late evening.  I have 4 days worth of regular clothes, workout clothes, miniature toiletries (this trip’s forgotten accoutrement? Hair goo), sunscreen (spf 50 for us pale types), and the last Harry Potter book all crammed into my carry on, and I’m optimistic that I can actually, you know, get a workout in on this trip.

Moving On

I was going to have a whole series of little vignettes about the Ride — about the guys playing soccer at camp, about the awful food (but you’re so hungry you don’t care), about how they insisted I bring my own food and then I didn’t need it (or they didn’t have it), about the back pain and yet surprisingly no leg pain, about the endorphin rush and near-wall-hitting, about the simple pleasure a hot shower can bring at the end of a long day.

There really isn’t a place for all of that. None of those things translate well, and they were little events that were part of a much larger event; in short, you don’t care, and I’m not sure how much I’ll remember or what weight I’ll put to it in future. If something strikes me as particularly funny or poignant, then I may. But right now, nothing comes to mind: it was a good ride, I want to do it again, and that’s about it.

I haven’t been on a bike in three days, nor have I done any real exercise beyond some brisk San Franciscan walking. I have a triathlon in seven weeks, though, and I need to start training for that.  So if you’re up to listening to me blather about swimming (and possibly a swim coach), biking (hah! what’s 12 miles?!), and running (let’s hope the knee doesn’t die) then tune in.

Otherwise, move along, nothing to see here 🙂

PS — very glad I didn’t do my planned run in SFO today. They are not kidding about the cold fog early in the morning, and I foolishly packed shorts and a tank top.