Thursday, February 27, 2014

My low hanging fruit is in the shop

I admit it. I'm one of those people who go for the path of least resistance, the easy/fun way out, the low-hanging fruit. I guess that's why this Triathlon is probably a good thing for me, and being that I'm giving up bitching about the weather for Lent, I really can't complain about the fact that the weather is stopping me from doing my favorite athletic thing of them all: riding my bike.

See, that's my favorite part of the tri altogether: the bike. I say without hesitation, I am a cyclist. I finish in the top 10% of all the entrants in the bike portion.  I've been in love with bike riding ever since I got my training wheels off. I didn't even own a car until my 30s. Up till then it was my bike, public transportation, and mooching rides from friends. I won't even have to "start training" for the bike portion of the tri, which at 20 K isn't even a "long ride" for me.  I'm already in condition to blast out a dozen miles.That's just an errand. My summertime commute is longer than that.

No, I have to train on the running track, and for a race that's 7 months away, I'm not doing too bad. Last week I was all giddy that I could run 12 minutes without stopping; this week I'm at 18, and the goal is to be at 20 ish by the next time I write. Last time I did the tri, I did the 5K run portion in about 36 minutes. OK, you're not impressed and you shouldn't be. That pace is about as slow as you can go and still call it "running." But I ran the whole thing, dammit, which is more than I can say for some of the other athletes. Still, here's the thing: I'm really not in love with running. Running is more like this medicine that's good for me, and I feel good afterwards, but I really don't like it all that much. I have friends who do marathons and half marathons and appear to really enjoy it. Well, good for them.

This is as opposed to the absolute euphoria I live for when climbing up a hill against the wind on my bike. Yes, I love that. Partially because it's a bitch to do, but I'm rewarded not only with a downhill cruise, but that feeling of getting to look behind at the hill I just climbed and confidently say to myself, "V'ron, you are a badass." So I don't hate  running because running is hard. I just don't like it. Even with an excellent playlist burning in my ears.

But that's the thing about a challenge, isn't it? If everything about a challenge was wonderful and enjoyable, then it wouldn't be a challenge, now would it? A challenge is not about just going for the low hanging fruit. It's about going all the way up the tree, to those scary high branches, and having faced that is it's own reward. Yesterday on the track I did 12 minutes and really felt like stopping, but darn it, I did 18 the other day and I can't go back now. So I dialed in some eurpoean electronica on my ipod that I knew would last for 6 more minutes and off I went.

Besides, I kind of have no choice. I have to focus on running now because frankly, it's just too damn cold to hit the bike trails these days. I'm a badass on a bike but I'm not that badass -- I need at least 40 degrees outside before I'm riding. And on top of that, my bike is in the shop (South Shore Cyclery is having a service special right now!) So, I'm just going to have to wait until Easter for some delicious low hanging fruit. I'll have earned it.

Down 2 more pounds this week, BTW.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Callouses: Story of my life

I need to build up some callouses: fingers and  feet
So, I did it. I registered for the Iron Girl Triathlon in Pleasant Prairie (oh, it's really Kenosha, folks) this summer. I paid the money. Now I've committed to it. I was going to do this last summer, but too much fertilizer was hitting the cooling device then. Now I have a pile of personal and physical reasons to go back to Kenosha and feel as wonderful as I did the first time I did this. This has been festering in me for some time.

I spent last summer grabbing my bike, driving out to the sticks, and just piling on it in the hot, stinking weather. I love riding my bike on a hot, stinkin' humid day (and when possible, taking a break in the middle to jump in the lake, fully clothed, only to be relatively dry by the time I rode another 15 miles to finish my ride.) I was putting on between 30-40 miles on weekend days. It felt great. Then last September, I started jumping into the pool. I've been religiously swimming in the wee hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays before work. Even today, while the snow and cold flurried outside, there I was, at 6:30 am in the Tosa Y, putting in 30 laps.

Then two weeks ago, I got off the stairclimber and instead of cooling down by walking around the indoor track at the downtown YMCA, I was too hyped up, loaded with way too much nervous/kinetic energy. I did something I hadn't done in a couple years. Not because I was thinking about doing this, but more because I just needed to do something with this spazzed out energy. I ran two laps around the track before I stopped and thought to myself not, "Wow, that was hard. No wonder I don't run." No, honeys, it wasn't that at all. You know what it was?

"Crap, how old are these shoes? These shoes SUCK! I need some new springy running shoes."

So last week while I was at a sporting goods store getting a whole lot of other crap for family, I walked past the athletic shoe display, did a double take, and picked up some new rides. Tried on some hipper looking ones, but then  realized, "No, you're going to run in these, V'ron. This is not the time to look hip in cool colors. You need your sensible, go-to brand/style." So I got the relatively plain, but road tested for me Saucony Grids. They were on sale. I brought them home and put them on and jumped up and down (I love the feel of new gym shoes!) And I went to the Y the next day and climbed the stairmaster and I walked over to the track, and started running. Baby steps here. I'm not doing the Tri-distance 5 K yet. But I did do 10 minutes. And the next day, I did 11 minutes. (25 more to go, to work my way up to my historical average to do a 5K.) And the day after that I did 11.5 minutes.

OK then. This is it. This is the year I go back to Kenosha.

Oh yeah, I forgot, I have to break these shoes in! Oh crap! I'm brewing a blister! (Now I know that people tell me you shouldn't have to break shoes in, but if I get them in a different size, once I break them in they will be wrong.) No, I've had to freshen up my callouses my whole life. My feet are an odd shape and there is no such thing as a shoe I don't have to break in. I just have to build up new callouses if I'm going to do this. Story of my life.

I mean, my band is playing out in April for the first time in a couple of years, and I put new strings on my guitar and started practicing the other day and same thing happened. Duh, long time away from the instrument + fresh strings = sore fingertips. No, I don't got blisters on my fingers, but they are pretty damn sore. I just have to build up new callouses on them, too, if I'm going to do this. Story of my life (truth be told, story of any guitarist's life.)

And I'm back on this fat blog, which means I have to prepare for the eventual fat hate from internet trolls who have no clue what trying to fight fat issues is like. Oh, they are so tiresome! "Oh, should a fat girl like you be running? Is that good for you? Why are you bothering? You're just a fattie! Just eat less!" Seriously, people do this shit. People are fucking mean.  Remember the wonderful Fat Girl On a Bike blog? Sarah ended up having to go dark because the abuse from chickenshit dickslaps hiding under the cover of internet anonymity just got to be too much.   Fortunately there are plenty of other fat chick athletes to lean on and laugh with me when the dickslap factor gets high.  So I'm just going to have to put a few callouses on my soul, too, if I'm going to do this.  Story of my life.