Sunday, February 28, 2010

To Sleep, Perchance to... zzz... What?

So after last Sunday's triumphant mile-ish swim, I proceeded to piffle all the triumphant feeling away with three straight days without even a walk to and from the train station. I blame it mostly on the Olympics. And my brother. The Olympics, as we know, were shown on tape delay in prime time, even in their OWN TIME ZONE! Finally there's an Olympics where the coolest events weren't happening at 3 a.m. my time - and NBC mucks it up with tape delay and endless profiles of Lindsey's shin. I would stagger to bed at midnight or even beyond, if I stayed up for Mary Carillo and her moose. Then I'd sleep late and miss my train and have to drive to work. This happened a few times, actually.

And then I agreed to go down to San Jose Stage on Wednesday and see my brother as Jan the Czech in Tom Stoppard's Rock and Roll. On a weeknight! What was I thinking? It was awesome, but after dinner at Original Joe's, we didn't get home till almost 2 in the morning. Ouch. So I slept late again on Thursday and almost didn't get any kind of workout in. Just as the dark was creeping in, though, I whipped out my new Asics Gel Kinetics in Super Bowl Champ New Orleans Saints Who Dat! colors and went for a brisk walk-jog around the neighborhood. OK, more walk than jog, but it was brisk. I was out there by myself and I was springing down the street. Lovin' it. Nothing makes me feel peppier than brand new shoes. If I could afford it, I'd buy new running shoes every month. Or if any shoe company (preferably ASICS) would like to sponsor me...

But I was really planning to write about my problems with sleeping too late. For many years, even before the onset of Boo-Boo Kitty Syndrome, I slept a lot. Tim used to say, "You need your nine and a half hours," and he was not really kidding. I absolutely could not understand how people would function normally on four or five or even six hours. I would feel bleary with seven hours of sleep, and I might still feel wasted after eight or nine. I never, ever felt "awake" when I woke up. I often used the sentence, "I feel like I've been clubbed on the head" to describe my mornings. I once hit the snooze button so many times that a mockingbird outside the window started to imitate it. I hated, hated, hated getting up. At pretty much any time. I always wondered how much more I would accomplish if I felt better after less sleep.

Unfortunately - and I'm not even kidding here - I'm going to have to go to bed now if I'm going to get up and ride the bike to the train tomorrow morning. So this will have to be continued.

Sweet Dreams.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Serious Triumph! Longest Swim since 2007

Wow. When I think back 24 hours to how draggy and awful I felt all day yesterday (and most of the week), it amazes me how quickly things can get turned around. Pretty much all I did yesterday was watch Olympics interspersed with other stuff on the TiVo (Bells Are Ringing, Ace of Cakes, last week's Damages), and eat crap (Cheetos, Haagen Dazs Caramel Cone, French bread pizza). I felt like I needed to have my skin taken off and cleaned from the inside and put back on, after having all my joints and muscles realigned and lubed. It was all I could do to manage two loads of laundry and a blog post.

Felt a little worried after sleeping till 10 this morning, but as I started to move around I could tell things were improved. Finally I made my way out to CalFit and took the plunge. I had set this weekend as the timeline for reaching a 1500 yard swim, almost the distance of the swim leg of an Oly tri, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it because of how bad I'd felt all week. Still, as I eased into the water, I felt reasonably strong.

Warmed up for 400 yards, alternating 100s of easy freestyle and 100s of easy backstroke and my patented Frankensteinish "breasterfly" (dolphin kick plus breaststroke), or drills, or sidestroke. Then 400 easy freestyle, focusing on smooth breathing, rotating the body along the long axis, not splashing. Another hundred of back/breasterfly, another 300 of freestyle, still not pushing the pace at all. Hey, that's 1200 already. Another 100 of back/breasterfly/sidestroke. Hey, 1300. One more set of 200 and I'm there. I set to it, tracking my lengths by visualizing neon colors. The 25 of each 100 is blue, the 50 is green, the 75 is yellow, the 100 is fuschia. No, I don't know why. I let myself put a little more power into each stroke now, I'm almost done and the arms are still feeling pretty fresh. Voila! 1500 and it actually felt easy.

Then I remember that an Olympic distance tri is really 1500 meters, more like 1650 yards, so I do another 100 of backstroke and miscellany. My backstroke is never fast, and it's rarely in a straight line, but I do manage to keep my head back and rotate the bod. Then 50 more of free, this time focusing on breathing every 5 strokes instead of my usual 3. There we go. I wiggle halfway across the pool and back just for sheer happiness, grinning like an eejit. So 1675. Just for fun. And I'm seriously not even tired. Granted, I was deliberately trying not to go too "fast," but I'm still impressed as hell with myself.

This is plenty of distance for an aspiring sprint triathlete, so now I can focus on adding some "speed."

I promise not to give you blow-by-blow accounts of all my workouts, but this really felt special for me. Both because I haven't swum this far in almost three years and because yesterday was such a day of ick. It's good to have at least one leg of an Oly tri seem doable.

More soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fog of Fatigue

Hmmm.... hubris, perhaps? For the whole week since announcing I was going to try at least two little triathlons this season, I've been laid low by a low level of achy fatigue. I've managed one swim workout, which was modestly successful, and a couple of walks, both of which made me need a nap afterwards. and then I had some more naps just for good measure. I bailed just on walking back to the train station on Wednesday and gratefully took a bus for the last three quarters of a mile or so. I don't think I can blame all this on staying up late watching the Olympics (thanks, NBC). Even on those nights when I've gotten plenty of sleep, I've woken up in the morning feeling cranky, stiff, and hung over without even having had the fun of a few drinks, or any at all.

Last weekend was extremely hectic: Big Lebowski party in San Francisco, breakfast with Russ and Michelle in Burlingame, play at Capital Stage, folks in town, brother's birthday dinner... a huge amount of fun, but by the end of it I was feeling pretty drained, and that lasted all week.

I've been sitting here on the Big Poofy Chair all day mustering the energy to put laundry in the washer and then mustering the energy to take it out. I was supposed to go up to Chico this afternoon and attend the first birthday bash of Celio Clavey Perras, a serious little cutie who has learned to walk since I last saw him. That, I'm afraid, ain't gonna happen. Sorry, Celio. Hopefully getting over this will not require years of therapy.

Even my hopes of getting it together to swim again this evening are fading. Maybe tomorrow. It's a long time till the end of August. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tweeting - So 2007, but I'm Doing It

There's really no end to the ways we can communicate, right? So once I got my Droid (love, love, love it), I got my Twitter account active and I'm trying to tweet at least daily about something related to slowness, fatness, triathlonness, or any of my other interests in life. Follow @Jayne_SFT, if you dare.

Finally - a Triathlon Season!

Deciding to enter a triathlon again feels like agreeing to go out for dinner with an ex who was demanding, exhilarating, needy, inspiring, exhausting and fun. You think, hey, it's just dinner, how bad could it be? You remember the romance, the satisfaction, the highs; then the challenge of making it work day in and day out for weeks and months on end; then the pain, the exhaustion, and finally the sheer inability to do it any more. And then you remember the first time again... and you say, hey, it's just dinner. Well, maybe lunch.

You think, hey, I'll just do a little race - how bad could it be, right? You remember the joy of the finish lines, the satisfaction of the race t-shirts and post-race naps; the camaraderie;
then the sore muscles, the early mornings, the blisters, the money you poured out on gear of all descriptions; the injuries, and the chronic fatigue syndrome that hit you right after your last triathlon. Can you really do that again? And then you remember that first race... and say, hey, it's only a sprint. Well, maybe a super sprint. Or two.

How can I call myself the Slow Fat Triathlete if I'm afraid to sign up for a race? Or even announce that I plan to sign up for a race. So consider this an announcement. I plan to register for the Luna Bar Women's Triathlon in August at Rancho Seco Park in Herals, just east of Sac. And then in early October I will do the Golden State Triathlon, which is almost literally in my back yard at Discovery Park. So there. That's Rancho Seco over on the right. Looks hot, huh? Yeah, that's what I thought too. But still. If I don't feel ready, I can always downsize to the super-duper Luna Bar sprint - 200 yard swim (probably not .200 as it said on the website), 5 mile bike, 1 mile run. At the Golden State, I can always just ride home if I decide not to do the run.

I'm feeling pretty good about the swimming now. I'm up to 1400 yards per session; just need to get to 1600 and then start building what passes in my world for "speed." Biking will pretty much take care of itself because I love it, and the bike commute will start again in earnest next month when the light improves. Running... eh. It may be walking. Or walking and jogging. I did buy a nifty pair of running shoes on sale at Sports Authority... not what I recommend in terms of shoe shopping, but they felt nice, they're top of the line ASICS, and they should be fine for the limited mileage I have in mind.

Heck, maybe I'll do Lake of the Pines, too. I need some good t-shirts.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Swimming in the Rain and Pain

Swimming in the rain is so much more pleasant than cycling in the rain. You’re already wet, and you also get a huge boost of seeming tough and determined by swimming in inclement weather, while not actually adding any suffering to your process.

So I was quite happy to be headed to the pool for my second post-January-illnesses swim session. My happiness persisted until I realized that I didn’t have my trusty bright orange swim cap and beat-up pale green swim goggles (clearly color coordination is not a big part of my athletic routine). I waited for ages at the front desk for the helpful CalFit guy to look through the giant lost and found bag, but he came up empty on the goggles front. And to my amazement, the “gear” store at the front of the gym didn’t sell anything related to swimming. You have 3 pools at your place, including a dedicated lap pool, and it never occurs to you that swimmers lose their goggles like, ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME? And that they would gladly buy a fresh pair at inflated prices? Clearly I need to be made manager at that place.

So I had three choices - go home, try and work out in the assortment of clothes I carry around in the car, or swim commando - no cap, no goggles. Going home was not really appealing, and neither was riding an exercise bike in my cargo pants and Vans. So I blinked a couple times, apologized to my eyes in advance, and suited up for the swim.

It wasn’t that much of a swim. I did a lot more backstroke than usual. Even some Esther Williams sidestroke (no relation, alas), just to give the eyes a rest. But I think I got about 900 yards in, and I felt pretty burly about it all. My arms and shoulders felt the effort. My eyes burned, which is not the kind of burn you are supposed to get while exercising. The cool rain didn’t really help soothe them, but it contributed to my sense of burliness.

I bought groceries and eye drops on the way home.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Triumph of the Won't

When I started the idea for this little blog, I must confess that I thought it would be something like 65% physical and psychological triumphs and 30% setbacks, with 5% set aside for musings even more random than my norm. Lately, though, the percentages have been pretty much reversed. At best. And I didn’t really feel like writing about that. So I fell silent for a number of weeks. But is that what real bloggers do? Well, judging by the number of abandoned and half-assed blogs I’ve seen out there, yes, apparently it is. But I’m not going to fall into that pit. I promised you the Big Fat Fitness Comeback, warts and all.

I’m happy to report that most of my setbacks have had causes other than simple lack of motivation. I worked out at CalFit pretty regularly right up until nearly Christmas Eve, mixing swimming with a couple more X-bike classes and a couple resistance training sessions. I continued to walk to and from the train at the Berkeley station, though cold, rain, morning and evening darkness, and a flat tire pretty much convinced me to forgo my bike commute. (Forecast is dry for tomorrow though, and the days are getting longer: perhaps I can brave mere cold and evening dark.)

Christmas is really one of my favorite things about being alive. Even though it’s crazy, fraught with overspending, overeating, overdriving, overdrinking, and overviewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I just love it. No Christmas light display is too cheesy, almost no Christmas music too repetitive. (Not super fond of “Up on the housetop reindeer pause.”) My family’s annual carol-singing fest is the highlight of it all, followed closely by the big day itself.

But the holidays and the concomitant overdoing of everything usually wreak havoc on my immune system. The night after Christmas I developed a slight wheeze in my chest. The next couple of days I felt ill, though not desperately so. Then the hammer dropped, the fever went up, couldn’t breathe, ached like mad. Kaiser said over the phone it was probably H1N1, and would I be so good as to not come in and infect them. Inhaler, cough medicine, Advil, repeat. A couple days of sheer misery, a few more of lethargy, pallor, and weakness. It was a good 10 days before I felt really right again.

And at that point, we were well into the madness of 27 grants all coming due on the same day. Five staff, three contractors, seven clients’ staff and a partridge in a pear tree, working massive overtime to get these things into shape.

Having felt really well for about 2 1/2 days, I was planning my return to the gym. Then my guts started to cramp, I got nauseated and achy, and completely lost my vim again. What the hell? This deteriorated over 36 hours into explosive, virulent diarrhea after the intake of any food whatsoever. So I quit eating food entirely and spent another four days working my way from clear liquids up to white rice, then adding bananas and saltines into the mix. Finally after a week of near starvation and more overtime at work, my system accepted a quesadilla. With salsa! And on the bright side, I could fit into my skinniest jeans…

By this time we were about five days from the big 27-grant deadline, so I proceeded to work through the weekend and the MLK Jr. holiday, along with the six staff, three contractors, four calling birds, etc. Exercise was out of the question, and I was driving into the office more because of my odd hours.

Once the 27 grants were done at 11 pm on Tuesday the 19th, it took me two full days to recover enough to even think about physical activity. On Friday I went back to the gym and managed all of 800 yards in the pool. Saturday I got on the bike for 45 minutes. Sunday I sat on my ass and watched football, and Monday I had a meeting after work. But today I walked, and tomorrow I may ride.

It’s not much of a triumph, but it’s what I got. Call it the triumph of the won’t-give-up, dammit. And February’s got to be better than this.