Monday, May 31, 2010

A Monday Stroll In The Park

This morning we woke up and Drew asked me if I was going to go to the gym. I told him that I didn't want to go to the gym but that I'd do something outside. My plan was to basically do what I did on Saturday. Walk up to the Reservoir, run one loop around, and then walk home. Drew ended up tagging along with me.

Since it was so warm out this morning, I decided that I wanted to try to stay on the Bridle Path for as much of the walk/run as possible since it's much more shaded than the road is. Seemed like the best plan to me. We were walking along and it was more like a stroll in the park than a workout for me, but I didn't really mind. It was nice just to be outdoors and chatting with Drew.

Then we got to the Reservoir Path and I asked if he wanted to stay on the Bridle Path and run around the Reservoir or if wanted to run on the actual Reservoir Path. He chose the real path, which was okay with me, although it's not as shaded. He also decided that he wanted to do two loops, so I told him that he should just go ahead and run at his own pace so that I wouldn't have to wait as long for him once I was done.

I ran my one loop (although I wanted to do two) and then just sat down on a park bench and waited for Drew to be done. And then we walked home after that. Still on the stroll in the park mode, not actual workout mode. I was bummed that I didn't get as good of a workout in as I was hoping -- mainly with the walking. I guess from now on when Drew comes with me I'll have to make it very clear that since this is my main form of cardio right now, I can't really afford to be dilly-dallying around!

Time: 1:03:16
Distance: 4.60 miles
Pace: 13:45/mile
Calories: 672
Maximum HR: 198
Average HR: 150

Sunday, May 30, 2010

And I Swam

We spent last night in Westchester after having dinner at Blue Hill. Delicious cocktail, dinner, wine and desserts were on the menu, but after all that, sometimes you just need a good workout! I decided to brave the gym today with Drew. He said that he was going to do the Arc Trainer, lift some weights and do some swimming. I offered to come along and give him some pointers on the swimming part.

We did the thirty minutes on the Arc Trainer. I think that's Drew's favorite piece of gym equipment, but I don't think it's mine. It was definitely a good enough workout to get me nice and sweaty. Then we headed over to the boy area weight lifting room. I just wasn't in the mood to lift weights, so instead I flipped through the most recent Time Out New York while Drew did some lifting.

He was doing some leg lifting, but decided to cut it a bit short so that his legs wouldn't be too tired for the main event ... swimming! This was the first time I'd even been in the water since Alcatraz. It was a little bit bittersweet, especially since Drew has commandeered my swim cap, I was stuck using the one from Alcatraz!

We got into the pool, which was a bit cooler than I remembered, and Drew started swimming and I started aqua jogging? I gotta tell you, it makes you feel pretty ridiculous. Also, I never realized before how slippery the bottom of the pool is. I really felt like I should be wearing aqua socks.

So, in full disclosure, I did swim. One length of the pool. I just wanted to see how my arm was. It's not all the way back to normal yet (big surprise there, huh?). I also decided that even though I can swim, I don't think that I will swim. Mainly because I think my stroke is pretty decent right now and I don't want to mess that all up with doing a repetitive motion that is wrong. Plus, if anything is my strong suit, it's swimming. I'm the least worried about that.

I have to say that Drew does look a little bit better than he did before he took his one (and only) swim lesson. I think that if anything came out of it, he definitely realized that I might actually know what I'm talking about. Not that I think I'm the best person to coach him, but at least now if I give him some pointers, he might actually give them a bit more credibility than I think he was before.

I mainly occupied myself kicking and aqua jogging. It was nice to be back in the water, but just like this whole walking/running dilemma, it made me want to just be able to swim. Soon. Really really soon. I think.

Arc Trainer
Time: 30:00
Distance: 0.76 miles
Pace: 39:28/mile
Calories: 261
Maximum HR: 155
Average HR: 146

Time: 30:21
Calories: 116
Maximum HR: 151
Average HR: 100

Saturday, May 29, 2010

And I Ran

This morning Drew told me that he was going to do another brick, but since I was going for a walk, he had to drop his bike off at home before going running. We left the house around the same time, but since he was biking and I was walking, it took us a while before we saw each other again.

I decided to walk north up the west side of the Park so that I could wave to Drew when he rode past. But, secretly, I had a different plan for myself today. I walked myself up to the reservoir path and then I ran one loop around the path. Um, right, so I'm not supposed to be running right now. I know that. But I'm sick of this. And, truth be told, I've run a couple times before. I was just hiding it because I was embarrassed I wasn't playing by the rules.

I've run in small increments, mainly on soft surfaces, and have had no arm pain at all. I've taken this as a sign that doing little bits more is okay. I know, I'm not a doctor, but it's been a month since my arm was broken and aside from some things that I know still hurt my arm, it's fairly normal now. I'm not doing anything crazy and, truthfully, I think I'm preventing myself from going crazy!

So, I did my one reservoir loop and then I walked myself back home. It was definitely a nice morning to be out early getting my run on. So, if you don't agree with my decisions, that's fine. Just avert your eyes for another couple of weeks. Because I still have to wait until June 15 to go back to the doctor!

Time: 58:32
Distance: 4.60 miles
Pace: 12:43/mile
Calories: 645
Maximum HR: 194
Average HR: 166

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Out With The Dogs, Take 2

This morning I was the alternate watchdog for Terrier's weekly brick session. I didn't know if they'd need me or not, so I got up bright and early and headed to the Park. The nice thing? Drew tagged along too. He wanted to get in his very first brick ... ever!

At first, it was just me and another woman, Nancy. And then it ended up that there were three of us doing the watch-dogging. I had worn clothes in case I didn't have to be the alternate, and I probably could have left and gone for a walk since there ended up being three of us doing the watchdog duties, but since Drew was there, I felt obligated to stay and watch his bike since he's not part of the team and I wouldn't have wanted anyone to give him a hard time about it.

While Nancy, Tori and I were all chatting the morning away, another teammate of ours, Nick, came over to hang out for a bit. He had his arm in a sling and I asked him what had happened. Turns out he got into a bike crash and broke somewhere around 7 bones and got a concussion! The worst part is that he got into the accident by locking wheels with another Terrier while they were out doing a long ride. The good news is that he seems to be healing up pretty well so far, despite having to get some screws to hold his collarbone back in place.

I have to say that after talking to Nick and hearing all about his injury and how well he's coping with it, really made me think that this broken elbow isn't the end of the world. Nancy was telling us how she's also had to take a two-week break from training because of some back issues and I think both she and I were feeling pretty down in the dumps because of our injuries and then Nick came with his great attitude and put me to shame. I've been trying not to feel sorry for myself, but that doesn't work all of the time!

Even though it means getting up really early just to sit around, I don't mind this watchdogging business. I think Drew had a good workout, too, so in all, it was a fairly successful morning!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We Made A Mistake

Yesterday morning I woke up, ate a bar, and went back to bed. Today, however, I woke up, ate a bar, and headed to the gym. Laura and I planned to use one of our fitness passes and try out the Bally's gym. She said that she really needed to ride a bike and I figured that any reason to get me to a gym was a good one, so we agreed to meet this morning.

Except that she told me that she was running late and then had a few issues that prevented her from getting to the gym for quite a while, so I just did my workout on my own. When I was first signing in, the guy at the front desk said that the locker room was in one direction and the pool was in another direction. Ugh. Pool? And then he said the magic words "hot tub"! Double ugh. So, now, because it didn't say on our fitness pass that there was a pool and I didn't go to the website to double check, we've now potentially wasted a pass with a hot tub!

The pool actually looked nicer than the one at my regular NYSC. Or, I guess I should say that it appeared to be 25 yards instead of 18 yards, which made it look a lot better in my mind. The rest of the gym looked a little run-down. All of the cardio equipment looked a little bit older than at NYSC and at NYSC there are individual TVs at each machine. This Bally's only had TVs scattered around the gym. I don't really watch TV at the gym, so it wasn't really a factor for me.

I started out on the stair mill. I figured I'd give it a shot and see how it worked. The downside of older equipment is that there isn't a spot to set your iPod on the equipment, so I had to hold onto it myself. (Actually, I happened to be wearing tri shorts, so I was able to stick it in my side pocket). I picked a random hill climb setting on the stair mill and off I went climbing stairs. I was able to do okay - I did have to turn the level down one so that I wouldn't have to hold on with my left arm. And then, all of a sudden, the machine stopped after 5 minutes and said, "Goal Attained!" I figured that was a sign that I should go and do something else.

There were a bunch of recumbent bikes right near the entrance, so I thought I'd do that while I waited for Laura to appear. I set the timer for 30 minutes and was off to pedal my heart out. I didn't see any bikes that had straps on the pedals, which is a negative in my book. I also didn't see any spin bikes, which would be another negative if I was going to switch gyms permanently. The one thing I really noticed while I was biking today is that this gym seems to run a little hot. Or maybe most gyms do. I'm just more used to having a bit of a breeze from being outdoors I guess. Nothing too exciting to report on the bike front. I sat, I pedaled, after 30 minutes, I got up and walked around a bit.

I looked at the hot tub longingly and then decided I'd do the elliptical until Laura got there. It was also near the front, so I was able to see when she arrived. I waited until I had done 5 minutes on the elliptical and then went off in search of her in the locker room. I showed her the pool and hot tub and then I headed home to shower and get ready for work and she did a workout of her own on a different cardio bike, I believe.

I'm hopeful that Laura and I will be able to meet up either later this week or early next week in order to check out the pool and hot tub situation at this Bally's. Even though I can't swim, Jon suggested water jogging. Not ideal, but I hadn't really thought of it before, so if we go back, maybe I'll give it a shot!

Stair Mill
Time: 5:00
Distance: 0.41 miles
Calories: 49
Maximum HR: 177
Average HR: 171

Cardio Bike
Time: 30:00
Distance: 10.80 miles
Pace: 21.6 MPH
Calories: 278
Maximum HR: 160
Average HR: 152

Time: 5:00
Distance: 0.45 miles
Calories: 45
Maximum HR: 160
Average HR: 149

Monday, May 24, 2010

Learning New Things

I currently seem to be on the every-other-day workout plan. Which, frankly, isn't much of a plan. Yesterday I almost talked myself into getting up and out for a walk, but somehow I talked myself out of it. Oh well. Oddly enough, I did wake up bright and early this morning in order to get out and go. The truth is that today was Drew's first swim lesson (!), so I walked with him to the Y and then I headed into the Park for my walk.

I decided just to walk along the Bridle Path this morning. And I learned something new! That even though dogs can be off leash in the mornings in the Park, that they have to be on their leashes at all times on the Bridle Path. Of course, the other thing is that no one pays attention to that rule. I am always a little intimated when big dogs are running around on the Path, even though they're generally chasing a ball, I'm always a little nervous they're just going to come up and bite me. After I found out this new rule, I felt like yelling at everyone I saw that they were breaking the rules (I didn't actually do that).

I forgot to wear my heart rate monitor strap today, so I had to go off my perceived effort today. I knew I wasn't going as quickly as I was on Saturday, but part of that is due to the difference in walking on the Road and walking on the Path. There is just so much more to be careful of on the Path - dips, rocks, mud, etc. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just makes for a different walk.

I just kept passing runner after runner (or, more accurately, they kept passing me) and I was just thinking about wanting to run. It really wasn't that long ago that I really didn't love running. It's funny how quickly that can change. I think that I really started to appreciate the simplicity of running after half-marathon training and starting to train for triathlon again. There is just something so easy about grabbing your shoes and heading out for a run. There is also something very cathartic (to me, at least) about getting out some frustrations while running. It's just such a good time to think!

So, I have to confess, I was getting a little down in the dumps about not running, so I decided that I'd just let myself run. Not a lot, maybe about 100 yards, but enough just to get the ants out of my pants. And it worked. I felt a lot better that I could still run! Even if it was really ridiculously short. Something about it just changed my mood. Three weeks of healing down ... hopefully only 3 to 5 more to go!

Time: 1:00:00
Distance: 4.60 miles
Pace: 13:02/mile

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Are You Dropping Him Off At Daycare?

Friday morning I woke up feeling like a ton of bricks had been dropped on my arm. Instead, what happened is that I slept on my arm. I'd just like to say here that I haven't been sleeping all that great since I broke my arm. I'm a left side sleeper and when you can't sleep on your chosen side, it leads to a lot of tossing and turning in the night. Thursday night I decided to test the waters and see what would happen. The answer? Nothing good.

So, even though I woke up bright and early on Friday, I decided to forgo the walking and lounge around on the couch before work instead. I'm sure that was the right decision since it pretty much felt like I had just broken my arm and I actually had to stop a couple of times on the way to work and just breathe through it since even walking was so painful. Definitely the right decision not to go out power walking on Friday!

This morning, however, was a different story. My arm went back to "normal" and only hurts when I straighten it completely or lean on it. Drew was going to go to the Park class that his trainer, Billy, leads on Saturdays. I decided that I'd walk him to class and then go for a walk myself. We started walking and Drew quickly realized that he couldn't keep up with me!

Even though his legs are a little bit longer than mine, he said that it was really hard for him to walk that fast and he started jogging along side of me. I guess my walking is a better workout than I give it credit for sometimes. Anyway, I went to Drew to the meeting place for the class and waited for a few minutes for Billy to arrive. I wanted to know the best place to meet Drew after the class. One of the guys commented that it was sort-of like I was dropping Drew off at daycare while I went and did my own thing.

And after arranging to meet Drew where I'd left him, I went off on my walk. I knew I had about an hour to get my walk in, so I headed north to tackle the Harlem Hill. And tackle it I did. It actually felt easier walking than it does riding my bike. I'd say that it was because I was walking a lot slower than I normally ride my bike up the hill, but I'm actually not sure that was 100% true.

As I was heading back down the west side, I happened to pass another guy who was walking along. As I passed him, he said something to the effect that I had crushed him. I told him that he should start swinging his arms and pick up the pace! He told me that I had inspired him and he was going to try to stay with me. I told him that I had a broken arm, so he didn't have any excuse not to keep pace with me! He laughed and actually, he definitely did stay about two steps behind me for at least a mile.

Then I turned onto 72nd Street to head back up the east side. As I was walking along 72nd Street, all of these people wearing Bobby Police helmets and shirts were running along the transverse. And they just kept coming and coming. It felt like there were about 200 of them, although maybe it was more like 100. It was just so silly to see them. At first I thought they were wearing costumes, but it turns out that they were real British Police officers!

I then headed back to the meeting spot to wait for Drew. I walked around a bit and tried to find them, but I didn't have any success. I ended up waiting about 15 minutes for the group to come back. Drew and I were both really hungry and sweaty, so we stopped to get a Froz-Fruit on the way home. While we ate our Popsicles, we wandered home the long way and then Drew made us a delicious breakfast of eggs and toast!

The amazing thing is that I was really walking fast on my walk by myself today. I'm guessing that Drew wouldn't have been able to keep up with me just walking if he had tagged along with me. I really tried to keep my heart rate up as high as possible and make it the best workout that I possibly could. And, seriously, I never ran. I think I could tryout for the Olympic race-walk team!

Walk There
Time: 26:49
Distance: 2.20 miles
Pace: 12:11/mile
Calories: 262
Maximum HR: 186
Average HR: 156

Walk Upper Loop
Time: 59:55
Distance: 5.00 miles
Pace: 11:58/mile
Calories: 718
Maximum HR: 188
Average HR: 175

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Doing Some Figurin

OK, so I've been a bad blogger. Which generally means that I've been a bad exerciser. In this case, that's actually sort-of true. Although I usually like to think that Monday mornings are not made for working out. And sometimes rainy Tuesday mornings fall into that category. I actually did go to the gym on Tuesday after work, but my workout got cut short (only 20 minutes on the Arc Trainer) because our dinner plans got pushed up. But I've got proof I actually did those 20 minutes, see:

But, the truth is, after finding out that I couldn't swim, bike or run for the next few weeks because of my broken elbow, my heart just isn't in it. So, I've been trying to figure out what I'm going to do with myself for the next month or so while I'm waiting for everything to heal. The truth is that I just don't love the gymnasium. I think it's taken me a while to figure that out and I actually think it's why I didn't really workout much before I started this whole triathlon business. The truth is that I really love to be outside.

I think I've come up with a plan that will get me up and out of bed in the mornings, but might not be a plan for triathlon completion in 2010. I'm not sure that I'm okay with that last part of the statement quite yet, but I know that I've got to keep moving in the meantime. The best thing that I can come up with that makes me happy and willing to get up early is to take long walks outside. I know that's not necessarily going to help me when it comes time to swim, bike or run. But you know what? It's going to keep me a lot happier than I have been for the past few days.

Truthfully, I've really been down in the dumps about breaking my elbow. I feel mad at myself for falling in the first place. And then I think that if I could complete a triathlon immediately after breaking my elbow, why can't I just keep swimming, biking and running right now?

I know that I most likely won't be able to compete in either of my scheduled triathlons this year (New York City and Timberman) and I'm really having a hard time coming to terms with that fact. I also have to say that I feel incredibly guilty for getting Kristin to sign-up for Timberman as well and now it looks like there is a pretty good chance I won't be there! I'm still reserving my final judgments until my doctor appointment on June 15. Of course, I'm hoping that he'll say I can go back to all three sports, but even if he does, I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do right away - especially in the biking department.

So, with all of this weighing on my mind, I went out for a nice walk this morning. It was so nice to be back in the Park and people-watching. I even saw some of my Terrier teammates out there doing their brick workouts. I knew I wasn't walking as quickly today as I had over the weekend, but I was still just so happy to be outside and getting in some cardio that I didn't really care. At this point, I have to just remember to be patient and let my arm heal so that I can continue to do triathlons in the coming years!

I have to say that I realize that this might not make this the most exciting blog for the next few months, but I'm going to keep on writing even if there isn't anyone out there reading. I'll try to take my camera along on some of these walks, because there isn't a day that goes by where I don't think "only in New York...".

Arc Trainer
Time: 20:00
Distance: 0.52 miles
Pace: 38:27/mile
Calories: 206 (from machine)

Time: 1:13:01
Distance: 5.50 miles
Pace: 13:16/mile
Calories: 593
Maximum HR: 163
Average HR: 140

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Two Down

It's now been two weeks since I broke my elbow and that means that hopefully I've only got 4-6 weeks more to go! Not that I'm obsessively counting down or anything! This morning Drew and I headed to the gym together. I will say that I really do not love the gym. I don't know why. It's not even that I dislike working out. I think most of it is that now that the weather seems to be settling into being nicer all the time, all I really want to do is be outside.

However, I know that if I only walk outside for the next 4 to 6 weeks, I won't have done enough to have a chance at doing these upcoming triathlons, so I'm going to have to head to the gym - like it or not. Drew offered to show me his Arc Trainer routine today. I have never been a super big fan of the Arc Trainer, but he said that his normal routine was no joke and it would be better than before.

He was right. We did 2:00 at 20 incline (the highest it can go) and 50 resistance. Then we did the next 26 minutes at 20 incline and 100 resistance (the highest it can go). That was not easy, but it was nice and sweaty, so that was good. Then we finished up with another 2:00 at 20 incline, 50 resistance. I'll say that I'm still not in love with the Arc Trainer, but it was better than I expected. I realized right away that going to the gym isn't going to be easy. I'm not supposed to lean on the equipment or put weight on my arm, so I can't really hold onto the equipment with my left arm. Which makes me feel a little off-kilter on everything. Here are my final stats:

After the Arc Trainer, I said that we should do 4 leg lifts. I chose two and Drew chose two.
We started off with Leg Presses, followed by Drew's Torture Non-Lift (the technical term, I'm sure), then my choice of Prone Leg Curls and Drew's choice where I quit (again, technical terms).

Leg Press: 3 set of 10 reps @ 180 lbs
Drew's Torture Non-Lift:
(Right Leg) 15 reps / 10 reps plus 5 pulses / 10 reps
(Left Leg) 15 reps / 10 reps plus 7 pulses / 10 reps
Prone Leg Curl: 12 reps @ 50 lbs / 10 reps @ 60 lbs / 8 reps @ 70 lbs

The leg presses are pretty self explanatory, I'm sure. Drew's Torture Non-Lift was basically like doing lunges, except your back foot is elevated on a weight bench and then you do a lunge forward. That pretty much sucked. I also wasn't so keen on doing something where I had to balance. Mainly because I'm extremely afraid of falling and hurting my arm further. The leg curls were also fairly sucky. That machine is just not our favorite.

And then Drew's lift where I quit? It again wasn't really a lift. It was more of a body weight thing. We had to stand on this piece of foam and reach out with one arm and lift the same leg behind us. Ok, so, I can't really reach out my left arm and I felt really insecure balancing because I'm sooooo afraid of falling again at this point that I just quit. I don't even feel bad about it. Well, that's not true. I was upset at the time because I had mentioned before that I didn't want to have to do anything that required balancing. And I was upset because I wanted to do 4 leg lifts and we only did three. But, I don't feel bad about not completing that particular lift. I think it was a good choice in the interest of my arm.

After that we headed over to the spin bikes. I was able to nab one of the computerized ones (the other one was taken, so Drew just used a regular one). I chose the Endurance Ride, Level 8, since it's mostly flat and doesn't require a lot of out of the saddle stuff. I gotta tell you, it's not easy to ride a stationary bike with one arm. And it's almost impossible to try to reach to get your water bottle with only one arm and nothing else to stabilize you. But, somehow I managed to ride for a little over a half an hour. Not too shabby - here are the stats:

I think I could get used to this sort of workout routine, maybe alternating with 2-3 walks a week. I'll probably try to coordinate the walking with the weather forecasts and head to the gym on the cooler/rainy days. Hopefully it'll keep me in good cardio shape!

Arc Trainer
Time: 30:00
Distance: 0.82 miles
Pace: 36:35/mile
Calories: 348
Maximum HR: 181
Average HR: 173

Weight Training
Time: 37:13
Calories: 282
Maximum HR: 165
Average HR: 135

Spin Bike
Time: 32:26
Distance: 12.50 miles
Pace: 23.12 MPH
Calories: 327
Maximum HR: 175
Average HR: 159

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weather Is A Motivator

This morning I spend lounging about, but after realizing that I was wasting a beautiful day, I got myself off the couch and outside. My plan was to go for a nice long walk. I wasn't really sure exactly where I was going to go, although I thought that walking along the Westside Path sounded like a good plan. When I got there, I decided to walk south along the path. I have been north a number of times riding my bike and thought it'd be fun to mix it up a little bit.

When I first started walking, I was really feeling sad for myself. I just kept watching everyone running and biking past me past me and felt especially bad when I saw two couples riding bicycles built for two. It's all just a reminder of what I can't do right now. But, then I realized that it was a beautiful day outside and I might as well take advantage of that. So, I sucked it up and kept on walking. Since I didn't really have a plan, I wasn't really sure how far I was going to go. I knew when I got to Chelsea Piers that I was about two miles from home, but I decided to keep going until I got to 45 minutes in one direction.

I ended up making it to Houston Street at the 45 minute mark. That's 3.4 miles away from our apartment (a 13:14 pace). I kept peeking at my heart rate monitor throughout the workout. I really wanted to know how high my heart rate was getting and if this walking stuff would be a decent enough substitute for running while my arm is healing. As soon as I saw that my heart rate got to 160, I did everything I could to keep it there or higher.

When I turned around at Houston Street, I really tried to book it home and see if I could make it home faster than I walked there. I felt really great that I was able to pick up the pace a little bit, especially since I felt like I was walking pretty quickly on the way there. I have to say, though, that there is something a little bit ridiculous feeling about being out there and just going for a really long power walk.

Drew's sister recently started running after going on long walks for exercise and she said that when she was considering starting to run, all she could think of was how she could get places so much faster if she was running. I kept thinking the same thing myself today. But, the truth is that I can't run. I've got to stop feeling sorry for myself and just do what I can.

In actuality, I felt really good after this walk. I was glad to have gotten outside and enjoyed the weather today. I was glad that my arm didn't really bother me too much while I was walking. I was glad that I was able to hold such a quick pace for the walk. And I was especially glad that there was a street fair on the way home where I was able to buy some Kettle Corn. I'm sure that's a good recovery treat, right? As soon as I got home, I iced my elbow as a precautionary measure, but I think that everything is okay there (as far as I can tell).

Time: 1:28:39
Distance: 6.80 miles
Pace: 13:02/mile
Calories: 869
Maximum HR: 172
Average HR: 157

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Out With The Dogs

Last night I went to pick up my bike from being shipped back from California. It was a tiny bit bittersweet for me since I won't be going out for any rides anytime in the near future. It was also ridiculously painful. I had a feeling that manipulating my bike into and out of the subway wouldn't be easy, but it was a lot worse that I expected.

I was almost reduced to tears after turning the turnstile with my left arm (you have to turn the turnstile even if you go through the special entrance door). Of course, after I did that, there was a cop on the platform and I figured I couldn't cry because I would look suspicious and then he'd want to search my bag and all I wanted to do was get home and rest my arm.

Riding the subway wasn't any easier either. Luckily, after two stops, I managed to snag a seat by myself, so I was able to sit down and rest my bike against my legs and I didn't have to really hold onto it anymore to prevent it from rolling around. Finally, I got home and collapsed on the couch. I did have a vague idea that maybe I would go to the gym once I got home, but my arm was just in too much pain to really consider it once I actually got home.

This morning I was the substitute watchdog for the Terrier brick. Even though I couldn't ride or run, it was still nice to see my teammates and feel as though I was still part of the team, even though I'll be taking a hiatus for a while. I chatted with the other watchdog (after last year's biting incident, they've instituted a two-person watchdog policy) and we talked about races, injuries and Radio Lab (you should really listen to the first 5 or so minutes of this podcast!). Not a bad way to start the morning, even if I did have to get up at 4:50 and didn't get a workout in.

I'll leave you with some fun doctor stuff. Here's the official report about my arm. I understand about 2% of this report:

And here's the actual MRI - I've circled the part that's the break. Apparently it's that line across the bone there:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who Knew Your Leg Could Do That?

First, I think I need to clear something up. I broke my elbow on the way to do Alcatraz. I was riding my bike to the race and fell. So, that's right. I did the entire race with a broken elbow.

Last night before I went to bed, I set my alarm for 5:45 this morning so that I could head to the gym this morning. Drew was having a hard time sleeping last night, so he woke up at 3:30 and went downstairs to watch some MLB TV and sleep on the couch. I woke up at 5:30 (before my alarm went off) and went downstairs to have a pre-workout breakfast.

Drew and I ate our pre-workout bars and he said that he didn't feel like going to the gym. Between the rainy weather and my dislike at the thought of going to do the elliptical, I was easily talked into lying down on the couch and watching Glee. Of course, I didn't manage to stay awake and instead fell asleep and had another crazy dream.

In my dream, Drew and I were going to a party at our friend's (Dave & Heather) house. We were all hanging out waiting for some other people to come over and Drew, Dave and Heather all decided to head out to buy some more beer. I decided to stay at the house and wait for everyone else. While I was waiting, I was picking at a scab on my left leg (this is true, I'm having a hard time not picking the scab on my left knee). While I was picking the scab, the whole front of my leg fell off. Who knew it could do that?

So, when I say it fell off, I mean it was sort of in the shape of a shin guard and it was my "shin bone" that fell off. Except my "shin bone" was the width of my whole leg and covered in skin. And when I looked inside my leg, I saw some intestine looking things, instead of what I imagine muscles to look like. I started to get a little nervous when I couldn't reattach the front of my leg with a band-aid.

I called Drew and asked him if he could come back, but he told me that they were out at a bar and wouldn't be coming back for quite a while. Of course, that didn't help my mood or my leg any. Instead, I rifled through Dave and Heather's medicine cabinet and found this silly putty type stuff and somehow I was able to MacGyver this silly putty stuff into holding the front of my leg back on.

I wish that someone could explain to me what that means. It's just so weird, right? I will tell you that when I woke up from my dream, I was sleeping on my left arm (the one with the broken elbow), which was far from comfortable. So, maybe that was part of it?

I was planning on going to the gym tonight after work, but I just got a call that my bicycle is back from California and the bike shop is having an event tonight and asked very nicely if I could come and get it tonight. So, I'm going to tackle that after work today. Not sure how easy it will be to maneuver getting on and off the subway with my elbow, but I think I can handle it.

And, to top it off, I can't go to the gym tomorrow morning either because I was asked to fill in for the Terrier watchdog tomorrow at the brick. Of course, now that my bike is back, I'm really bummed that I'm not able to participate!! Oh well, this patience thing is all part of the healing process.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Big Break

This morning I went back to the doctor to get the results of my MRI. I was convinced that he would be telling me that I had sprained my elbow and I could expect to feel better soon. Except he said that I had broken my radial head in my elbow.

Definition: A radial head fracture is the most common broken elbow bone seen in adults. This type of injury is most commonly caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand. Radial head fractures cause pain and swelling around the elbow.

Okay, so my elbow fits the textbook definition of this. The only good news is that it was a clean break and I don't need surgery. Really, you'd hardly know I broke my elbow to look at me. I'm wearing a wrist brace because my wrist still really hurts as a result of this elbow break. The doctor said that I can definitely wear that at work, but I don't have to wear it all the time if I don't want to. I don't have to wear a cast, so basically, I have to walk around looking like I'm fine even though I'm not.

My first questions after he told me about the break were about healing time, which is 6-8 weeks. Not a big surprise. Then I asked about working out. He said that I can do the elliptical and ride the stationary bike as long as I don't put any pressure on my elbow. Swimming is out as are other high-impact activities.

As he was telling me all of this, it was all I could do to choke back the tears. I told him that I really thought he was going to tell me that I had sprained my elbow instead and he said that no one gets elbow swelling like I had from just a sprain. I wish that he had told me that last week so I didn't get my hopes up.

I have no idea yet what this means for the rest of my triathlon season this year. I found out that you can defer New York City until the night before the race. Timberman doesn't have deferrals, you can only get a $75 refund if you decide to withdraw by July 1. Right now I'm not making any decisions, but I did want to know my options.

As of right now, I can't wait to get to the gymnasium and work off some of this frustration. I have to say that it's funny since I really thought that I'd almost feel better if it was broken. At least then I wouldn't have been wimpy during the race where my arm hurt and I'd have a reason for running an 11+ minute/mile pace. Except that I don't feel better about San Francisco. I knew I did my best break or no break. And now I'm just sad about maybe missing out on these other triathlons. I know it's not the end of the world. I do know that. But I was doing pretty well on the training plan and I was excited about reaching those finish lines.

It's obviously not set in stone about what will happen. I have to see how my elbow does recovery-wise. And I think what I really have to do is try not to push myself too hard in the meantime and injure myself more. So, I think you'll see a lot of elliptical / spin bike posts in the future, so I'm sorry in advance for the monotony. I'll try to spice it up as much as I can! And I'll be hoping for a speedy recovery so that I can mix things up sooner rather than later!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

R Baby Mother's Day 4M

This morning I had a 4M run that I needed to do in order to keep going on my marathon qualification for 2011. This was race number 7 (out of 9) so I'm definitely in the home stretch. The only catch? Until I hear from the doctor, I'm not supposed to be doing anything. Which meant that I went with a big goal of walking the 4 mile race.

I was really curious to see if I could do the race in under an hour (15:00/mile pace). I was fairly confident that all my New York City walking could pay off and that an hour or less was a pretty realistic goal. I walked to the Park, used the port-a-potties (I forgot to go before leaving home - what was I thinking?), and then lined up for the race.

Now, I'd just like to mention that since I knew I was walking, I lined up at the back of the corrals. Not in my assigned corral. Could everyone else who is a walker in these races please take note? I don't understand why if you know you're walking, you find it necessary to be more towards the front and getting in the way of those who are running?

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I started walking as quickly as I could. My only goal was to get to the first mile marker by 15:00. It was quite windy here in NYC today, so the mile markers were on the ground today instead of up in the air because they didn't want them to blow over. I know approximately where they should be, but I felt like today more than ever it was really critical to see them to know how I was doing time-wise.

You can imagine my shock when I got to the first mile marker at 13:13! Holy cow, I was doing really well. At that point, I figured that I could have a couple bad miles and still come in under an hour, but since I had done the first mile so quickly, I was curious to know if I could hold that pace for the rest of the race.

I got to mile number 2 at a total time of 26:05 (mile time of 12:52) and I was sure I could hold on to the end. My arm was actually feeling okay at this point too. I basically just had my elbow at a 90 degree angle and swung it slightly back and forth while I really swung my right arm back and forth. Amazing how much easier that was to get some momentum than having my arm solidly against my body like at Alcatraz.

I got to mile 3 at 39:10 (mile time of 13:05) and I knew I was still on pace to finish this thing in about 52 minutes, which I couldn't believe. I wasn't surprised that this mile took a little bit longer, there are a couple rolling hills here that always make this a slower mile (even when running).

At this point, I really had to fight with myself to keep from running. Part of me really wanted to know how fast I could do it just walking, but the other part of me is going completely stir crazy from not exercising and I just wanted to run! Finally, as I was rounding the corner on 72nd Street to the finish line, I gave in. I only ran about 0.10 miles, but it felt great. Of course, I didn't pay any attention to how my arm was feeling, I just wanted to stretch out my legs for the last little bit. I ended up doing the last mile in 12:30, so the running didn't really affect my total time, I don't think. I probably could have come in just over 52 minutes if I hadn't run, which would have still been amazing, I think.

The funny thing is that even though this was my slowest running race ever, I felt awesome when I left because I had shattered my goal of finishing in an hour! My arm actually felt okay at the end, just really tired. That definitely continued as the day went on as well. The good news is that it doesn't feel any worse, but still no real improvement.

Time: 51:40
Distance: 4.00 miles
Pace: 12:55/mile

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's Going To Be Uncomfortable

Last night I went and picked up my race number and t-shirt for the Mother's Day 4 mile run on Sunday. I'd just like to say that it's not like I didn't listen to the doctor yesterday, but I've already paid the money and this will be my 7th race (out of 9) for the marathon qualification, and I've decided that I will just walk the 4 miles. That can't be against the rules, can it?

This morning I went to get my MRI for my elbow. After yesterday's appointment, I am thinking that maybe I sprained/bruised my arm and that's the reason for all the discomfort, but I guess I'll wait and see. I really had no idea what to expect. I've never gotten an MRI before.

I don't think the technician was very excited that I couldn't straighten my elbow all the way, as I guess that makes it harder to get clear images. I felt like pointing out that if I could straighten my elbow, I wouldn't have been there in the first place! The technician had to test out several different positions before he finally ended up having me lie down on my back with my left arm shoved in this torture device that kept it straighter than I wanted it to be. I also had to keep my right arm above my head the entire time.

After he got me all positioned, he said it's going to be a bit uncomfortable and really loud. Okay, what he didn't say is that it's going to sound like someone is shooting at you and it's going to happen sporadically, so try not to jump when you're startled at the loud noises! After about 10 minutes of being fairly uncomfortable, he came back in the room and asked me if I had moved. I told him that I didn't think so, but I suppose it was possible. To make me not move again, he ended up putting something heavy on top of my left hand, which made it go from fairly uncomfortable to completely uncomfortable. At this point, my right arm (above my head) was totally numb and I had to will myself to keep that arm still as well.

I have to say that it's not a totally unpleasant scenario, but keeping your body completely still is almost next to impossible. The biggest bummer was at the very end when I was trying to get my right arm to wake up and the technician told me that the doctor would probably have the results on Tuesday, so I could call him then and ask about the results. I am pretty bummed that I have to wait 4 more days to find out what exactly is wrong with my arm!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No! You Can't Do Anything!

This morning I had my appointment with the orthopedist to have him look at my arm and let me know what sort of damage (if any) I've suffered. First he had me move my arm around and he poked and prodded my arm and asked about 20 times, "does this hurt?" Generally the answer was no. What really hurts my arm is trying to straighten it completely or completely bending my elbow. I also seem to have some pain in my forearm when I turn it to the side, although that also hurts my elbow.

After some more moving and poking and prodding, he brought me over to the x-ray room and took some x-rays of my arm and elbow. He said that my forearm isn't broken, although he could see where I had broken my arm twice before (and I could see them too!). He also pointed out that at some point I had broken a bone in my hand, which I never knew about. He said that he couldn't see anything on my elbow, but it's a really hard spot to x-ray and that he wanted to send me to get an MRI to make sure that nothing was broken.

We then went back to the regular exam room and he gave me a wrist brace to wear instead of the sling I had been sporting. He said it would keep my arm more stable and it's important to keep your elbow moving, even if it is broken. He also mentioned that even if my elbow is broken they won't cast it because elbows can get too stiff in casts and they will generally heal on their own. Once he said that, I wondered what difference it would really make if it's broken or not if the treatment is basically the same.

Since I'm itching to do something athletic, I asked if I could go swimming. His immediate reaction was, "NO! You can't do anything until we know the results of the MRI! Then we can discuss your options". Sigh. I'm a bit bummed out by this, even though I'm not surprised. Luckily, I got an appointment for the MRI tomorrow morning at 7:15, so hopefully that means that I won't have to wait too much longer to know what's really wrong with me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Healing Hot Tub

Since I'm still waiting for my doctor's appointment tomorrow morning, I feel like I shouldn't workout until I get some sort of diagnosis from the doctor. I somehow managed to talk Laura into meeting me at Battery Park to have a hot tub session this morning!

Even though it is not convenient at all to get there (really, it's crossing the Westside Highway that's the pain in the neck), I think that it was totally worth it. We met at 8 and ended up sitting in the hot tub for about a half an hour. I think that's definitely something I'm supposed to be doing to make my arm feel better, right?

Even if it's not, I felt better by getting up and doing something before work this morning. Kinda like my old routine. The thing is that I have really been wishing this week that I could get outside and do some working out. Even though I know I have to wait for the doctor to give his okay...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Escaped!

So, this is just a quick post to say that I did it ... I escaped from Alcatraz. It was the most amazing race, but I've got quite a story to tell. I'll be back in the next day or so with a real race recap...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Escape From Alcatraz

Yesterday was a great pre-race day! After my crazy dream, we got up and went out in search of breakfast. We were going to the Giants game and found a breakfast on the way there. After breakfast, we wandered around the stadium for a while before meeting up with my uncle and cousin to head into the game. Lucky for us, the Giants won and we saw a splash hit! Pretty awesome!

After the game Drew and I headed to Marina Green so that I could pick up my race packet. That is a lot easier said than done. San Francisco seriously needs to work on its public transportation! We ended up walking to a bus then to a cable car and then still walking another mile to get there! We tried to hail a cab, but it's nothing like it is here in NYC. I guess I got my exercise in for the day.

When we finally got there, I checked in successfully and found out that I was number 118. I have to tell you, that made me feel much more elite than I really am! When I went to get my swag bag, they didn't have any small t-shirts left. Nor did they have any medium t-shirts. So, I'm stuck with a size Large t-shirt that won't even fit Drew! I would just like to take one minute here to rant about this. I mean, what is the issue? They've known for the past 6 weeks that I would be wanting a small t-shirt. It's on my race registration, it's on my packet, it shouldn't be a surprise that when I get there I want a small! Was it so hard to order enough small t-shirts?

Anyway, after my annoyance about that, we waited around for the mandatory race meeting to start. I had confirmed before we left for San Francisco that the meetings were indeed mandatory. Except that no one checked my name off a list or anything, so I'm not in fact sure that the meeting was mandatory. I don't think I learned anything new at the meeting that I didn't already know from reading the website and watching the videos that the race provided with tips.

After the meeting, we called a cab and went back to the hotel. I was able to spend the next hour or so packing everything up into my gear bags (one for the boat and one for mini T1). Drew was nice enough to go to the grocery store to buy me Gatorade, so that I could check and double check everything. Then I was all packed up and ready to go.

We then headed out for a late dinner with my uncle, his girlfriend and my two cousins. It was a really nice meal. Unfortunately since we got a bit of a late start on dinner, we had to cut it short as well so that I could get back and get to bed. I think we got back to the hotel around 11, which was fine. Even if we had been done with dinner earlier, I don't know that I would have gotten to bed any earlier. Luckily, I fell asleep pretty quickly. Of course I woke up at 1:30, 2:30 and then at 3:30. I had set my alarm for 3:45, but I knew that there was no way I'd really fall asleep for those last 15 minutes, so I just went ahead and got up then.

I tried to get dressed and eat as quietly as possible. I mostly hung out in the bathroom eating my Clif Bar and drinking Gatorade while playing solitaire. I won the game of solitaire that I was playing and that gave me really good vibes for the rest of the day (dorky, I know). Finally, it was time to go! I put on my shoes and helmet, strapped on my bag, gave Drew a kiss goodbye and took the elevator downstairs and headed to the race.

Our hotel was about 3 miles from the transition area, so I just took my time riding my bike there. As I was riding, I had to cross Powell Street. This is a street that has a cable car. I'm guessing you can figure out where this is heading. I definitely looked at the cable car track and thought I was going diagonally enough across it, except I wasn't. I got my front tire stuck in the track and over I went.

I don't remember a lot about falling. I fell to the left, which makes sense since that's the foot I normally unclip first when stopping. Really the only thing I remember is that I scraped my chin and while that was happening all I could think of was "please don't chip a tooth!" As soon as I was done scraping along the pavement, I picked myself and my bike up and ran over to the sidewalk. Nothing worse than being on the dark street at 4:30 in the morning thinking you could then be hit by a car!

Once I got to the sidewalk, I saw that I scraped up both sides of my right hand, I knew my chin was scraped, and I had a really good scrape on my left knee (which was a little weird since I was wearing pants and my pants were totally fine - how does that happen?). The worst thing was my left arm. Not a scratch on it, but it wasn't moving quite properly. I think I must have completely braced my fall with my arm.

I stood on the corner for a minute and weighed my options. I didn't have my phone with me, so I couldn't call anyone to calm me down, so I figured my option was to get back on my bike, make sure it was working okay and ride to transition. And that's exactly what I did. I got some blood on my bike from my bleeding right hand, which I thought gave it some added character. I got to transition and set everything up, handed off my gear bag for mini T1 and boarded the bus.

I was walking down the aisles of the bus looking for a good seat when I heard someone call out, "Amy?" I was confused for a second since I didn't think I knew anyone, but then realized that it was Sarah, the girl I met on Friday! I have to say, the timing couldn't have been better. I was so happy to see a friendly face and just have someone that I could tell about falling off the bike. She also assured me that my chin didn't look that bad.

We rode the bus over to Pier 3 and got of the bus and began the waiting. We had to wait about 30 minutes outside before we were let onto the boat. I was wearing my running jacket and yoga pants over my tri top and shorts. I was a little chilly waiting outside, but it covered up the fact that I was shaking a little bit from being nervous and worried about my arm. While we were waiting, we took turns visiting the port-a-potties and chatted with our neighbors who also got there early. This was also where we picked up our timing chips.

At 6:00, they started letting us on the boat. Since we had gotten to the Pier early, we were some of the first people on the boat. We staked out a good spot near a post on the boat and it was also near an exit, which would turn out to be handy later on. Then we continued waiting around for another hour. Sarah ran into a friend of hers, Josh, and we chatted with him for a while. And again, we all took turns using the restroom. Luckily, when I went, there were only about 4 people in front of me. The lines would get a lot longer as time went on!

We actually left the Pier early enough that we had some extra time and so the boat captain was able to circle around the island. It was a little hard to see from where I was inside the boat, plus I tend to get sea sick, so I just kept focused on stuff inside the boat where the horizon wasn't shifting all over the place.

As we sat around, I kept getting more and more nervous about my left arm. I was having trouble bending/straightening it and I wasn't sure about how I was actually going to complete the race. I actually wondered if I should even get in the water at one point. Sarah reminded me that the only person who could make that decision was me. Finally, the time came to get our wetsuits on. Sarah had to help me put mine on since I couldn't do a lot with my left arm. She also had to help me put my swim caps on (I ended up wearing three - one lycra, one latex and the official latex one on top). I decided that I would get in the water and see what happened. Worst case scenario - I'd stick my arm up for help and have one of the 100 people in the water come and help me. I didn't think I was going to drown even without the full use of my arm.

And just like that, there were only 5 minutes left until the race started. The pros line up along the edge of the boat and jump in first, followed by everyone else on the boat. While we were waiting for the horn to blow, I realized that I really had to pee. I figured that I would just wait until I jumped in! It really only took a minute or maybe two for me to be standing there waiting to jump in. I started my watch about 30 seconds before I jumped in and then pulled my wetsuit sleeve over my watch. The girl in front of me didn't jump on her first attempt, so I had to wait for her to jump in and then it was my turn. I never hesitated. I just put my hand up to protect my goggles, jumped, and started swimming!

During the race meeting, they gave us about 6 different landmarks to sight, but I ended up using the Sutro Radio Tower almost exclusively. I had read a lot of race reports on Beginner Triathlete where they said that they sighted to the left of the tower and thought that they could have sighted right, so that's what I did. I sighted about every 6 strokes on average. I think that having my watch covered up really helped me. I couldn't be nervous about how long it was taking me, all I could do was keep swimming to shore.

I did remember to stop and take a look around at the view. I even turned around to see how far I had swum from Alcatraz. Actually, if I'm being perfectly honest, what I realized after swimming for a while is that I never peed. So, I slowed down, did some breast stroke and did my business while taking in the sights. Might as well multi-task, right? It was pretty cool to be in the water and see and hear the helicopters flying above and know that they were there for us. There was also a blimp there too, which was pretty cool.

So, my arm? Okay. I kept looking at it and thinking about my stroke and knew that I wasn't pulling as much water on the left as I was on the right side. I was definitely reaching out further with my right arm than with my left, but I think that the cold water and the adrenaline helped with getting me to shore. Also, my shoulder seemed to be fine, which I think is most important for swimming. Oh, and I should mention the water - not a factor for me at all. I was glad I had a long sleeved wetsuit, but I was never cold. I never felt like my hands or feet were going numb either, so I'm glad I didn't bother with booties or a neoprene cap.

All of a sudden, I was getting really close to shore. I couldn't believe it! And just like that, my hand was hitting sand and I was up and out of the water. I looked at my watch as soon as I got out of the water and it said 32:35 and I was so incredibly happy and proud of that time! (My official results are longer since I had to run a little bit up the beach to get to the timing mat). I actually beat one of the professional women out of the water! Miraculously, I got my wetsuit off both arms. I have no idea how it happened. It was on one second and the next it was off and I just kept pulling it down to my hips as much as I could.

I ran up this little asphalt pathway, which really hurt my feet! Our gear bags were all laid out for us, so I took my wetsuit off the rest of the way, toweled off my feet and put on my (old) running shoes, grabbed my bottle of water and ran the rest of the way to real T1. I was really near the bike in/bike out entrance to transition, but it turns out that I was at the opposite end of the run in/run out. So, when I got to Marina Boulevard and could see my bicycle, I was a little annoyed that I still had to keep running to actually make it all the way there.

I think I had a decent T1 in total. Not that an almost 9 minute T1 is usually anything to brag about, but in this particular race, it's not bad. I got to the real T1, switched into bike shoes, put on my helmet, remembered to reset my bike computer (which I had forgotten to do when setting up transition), grabbed my bike and headed out for a ride.

About 200 yards into the ride, I realized that the back water bottle cage on my bike was loose. I stopped at the side of the road to try to tighten it up as best as I could in the hopes that it would hold for the race. I had told myself that if I could manage to get to the first aid station on the bike with my arm that I could talk myself into doing the rest of the race. On the very first hill, a guy passed me and asked how I was doing. I told him that I was just out for a nice leisurely bike. I saw him a couple miles later on and he was having some bike issues (his derailleur had come off) but I checked his results and he finished the race, so that's good!

The first hill was a good learning experience, I think. I realized that I would have to be careful when I used my granny gear on the race. I could shift into the granny gear okay, but I didn't have enough strength in my left arm to get it back to a bigger chain ring. That meant that I had to shift with my right hand on the left side of the bike, which wasn't the worst thing ever, but it wasn't perfect either.

I had cut up a Cliff bar into 6 pieces and put it in my bento box to eat on the bike. I ate 4 of the pieces as soon as I could after getting on the bike because that was the flattest part. I also knew that I probably needed the nutrition after the swim.

Once I made it to the first aid station, I knew that I could make it for the rest of the bike. I knew I wasn't going that fast, but I knew that I would finish in the allotted time unless I had some sort of mechanical issue. I thought that the bike course was really amazingly beautiful, especially the portion along the coast line. As I was going down the huge hill at Mile 7 (along Ocean Park), I was just looking out at the views instead of thinking about the fact that I'd have to climb back up the hill!

From there, we entered into Golden Gate Park for a couple of miles. That wasn't too bad, even though it looks like a fairly steep hill on the course map, it wasn't that bad. The bad part was somewhere around Mile 11 when we exited Golden Gate Park and were just about blown over from winds from the Ocean. Seriously, I wasn't quite prepared for that. I was also nervous that they'd stick with us for the entire huge climb for Mile 12, but they subsided about half-way up the hill.

I think the one thing that really struck me about all the hills on this race were how quiet they were. It seemed to me that people definitely bunched up on the hills (spreading out more on downhills) and we all just dug deep and kept pedaling. There was really only one time where I wished that I could get out of the saddle and pedal - it was right at Mile 13 - where we had just climbed that huge hill and then there was another short climb and it was on that short climb where I wished I had just that extra bit of oomph. As it was, I have to say that I was glad that I didn't 100% listen to Drew about practicing getting out of the saddle and pedaling since it turned out that it wasn't an option for me with my arm.

As I was coming back down from the Golden Gate Bridge (the last two miles of the bike course), I was riding downhill and my water cage came loose. The top screw had come completely out and so the cage and the water bottle were in the way of pedaling. I thought that maybe if I tried to pedal, it would knock the water bottle out, but instead what happened is my foot got stuck. That meant that I had to stop and take out the water bottle.

Of course, that wasn't enough. The water cage had to come completely off too in order for me to be able to pedal. I had to unscrew it and I put the cage around my right wrist like a bracelet in order to not litter on the course. I put the water bottle in my left hand and thought that maybe I could carry it back to transition with me, but with my arm, it just wasn't happening. After pedaling for all of 30 seconds while carrying the water bottle, I decided that it wasn't worth it. If someone saw me, I'd take the time penalty for littering and I threw my water bottle to the side of the road. So, I'm sorry Earth and I'm sorry San Francisco for littering. But I felt like it was my only safe option at that point. From there, I finished up the last two pieces of the Clif bar before heading back to transition.

I should just mention here that I read about it in the race reports and they mentioned it at the athlete meeting, but the roads in San Francisco leave a little something to be desired. Other than the really smooth pavement in Golden Gate Park, it was a pretty bumpy ride. I don't think that helped my arm out any.

I came back into transition for T2. I had a quick bike in, but a long run out for the run course. When I got off the bike, I think my watch said something around 2:15:00. I was realizing that if I could have a good run, I could finish in about 3:30:00, which would have been awesome for me! As I ran out of T2, I saw Drew and told him that I thought that I had maybe broken my arm. I'm sure that he thought it must have just happened on the bike, but I sort-of just needed him to know. I realized almost immediately that the run wasn't going to be easy and I wasn't going to have a good run. I re-adjusted my hopes and expectations and just kept 4:00:00 or under as a goal.

The first mile of the run was okay. It's along a dirt/gravel path by the San Francisco Bay with a nice view of the Golden Gate. I realized that in order to run, I'd have to not use my left arm at all. I zipped up my tri top and held my hand onto the collar of the top keeping the rest of my arm more protected and close to my body. Somewhere between Mile 1 and Mile 2 they said in the athlete meeting there would be "a few stairs". Apparently their definition and my definition of a few are totally different. I think there were like 150 stairs. And of course, they're not all the same - they sort of wind about - so I just decided to walk up the stairs. I wasn't going to gain that much more ground by running at that point. Then Mile 2 to Mile 3 is pretty much straight up hill. You can see how the run just kept getting better and better, right?

I knew that I wasn't running my fastest. But you know what, I was running the best that I could in that moment. I was really frustrated with myself a couple of times (both on the bike and the run) and shed a couple of tears each time. I think I was just so annoyed at myself for falling and possibly breaking my arm and all I could think of was how I might have just ruined my chances for doing both New York City and Timberman this summer.

The run was really, really hard. Both physically and mentally. I knew that I could finish, but it was a bit defeating. As soon as we ran down to the beach, I thought we'd get to turn right and head back up to the road, but someone else thought it'd be a good idea for us to run for a while down the beach and back before we did the Sand Ladder. I'm not sure who thought that up, but it was a lousy idea, I can tell you that. The sand seemed like it was about three feet deep and with the tide starting to come back in, it wasn't easy to run along the harder packed sand closer to the edge of the water.

The Sand Ladder wasn't easy - just like they said. But at least I was prepared for that. I walked up the Sand Ladder (as did everyone else that I could see around me). And I definitely used the cable along the side to pull myself up a couple of times. There was someone directly behind me, so I felt like I couldn't go any slower and I definitely couldn't chance slipping and falling backwards into her, so I didn't have any choice but to keep going up!

After the Sand Ladder, there was another half-mile incline. I walked a few steps past the Sand Ladder but then just kept running, although at that point it was probably more like jogging. I did glance at my watch a couple of times (which was actually a lot harder than it sounds since it hurt to move my wrist around) and saw that my heart rate was frustratingly low for running. I think was frustrated me the most was that I knew my body and my legs were capable of going harder and faster, it was just my arm that was slowing me down. It also made me realize that I lose a lot of momentum without swinging my arms like I normally do.

Because the run is largely an out and back course, I knew that once I got back to the "few steps" that I was only about 2 miles from the finish. I tried and tried to pick it up there, but it just wasn't happening. My arm hurt too much and I couldn't make myself pound the pavement any faster (although, technically, there wasn't that much pavement at that point). I wished and wished that I could force myself to the finish line faster, but it just wasn't meant to be at that point.

When I finally had the finish line in sight, that was when I realized that despite everything - falling, not being able to put on my own wetsuit all the way, not being able to shift properly, not being able to have my best run - I HAD FINISHED! I had Escaped from Alcatraz! I think in that moment I realized that it didn't matter what my time was. I reached the finish line and I finished with a smile on my face, which is always the end goal.

All in all, this was an awesome race for me. I don't have any regrets about it. I'd love to have the opportunity to have a do-over another year, but if this was my only chance, it was a great race. The course is tough, but beautiful. The weather was amazing on my race day and it was all I could have ever asked for. I'm so glad that I decided to do this! The only thing that I will say is that I think that I was so focused on the bike course elevation map and worrying about how hard the bike would be, I forgot to think about the elevation course and the challenges of the run. On a good day it would have been a hard run course, but now I know!

After the finish, I immediately went to the medical tent. Not surprisingly, they told me that they really couldn't do anything for me. They put some ice on my elbow and told me that I should go to the hospital to get an x-ray. I decided that I'd wait until I got home instead since I didn't want to wait for hours in San Francisco at the hospital. Instead I'd like to go out and enjoy the city, even if I had to carry my arm around in a drug-store sling.

So, the results on my watch were a little bit different from the results from the course. Which I thought was weird because I knew I started my watch long before I jumped in the water and yet my watch time is actually shorter than the official results. Not that it really matters in the long run. I think I did really well on my nutrition for this race. Besides accidentally taking a cup of Cytomax in the first mile of the run (which actually sat pretty well and I ended up taking a second around Mile 6), I relied on myself for nutrition. I'm glad to know that I can do okay on my own.

After gathering my gear bags and dropping off my bike, Drew and I shared a cab with another couple to the hotel. Then we took a nice hot shower (I was really really salty from the swim) and went to meet Sarah and her friend, Anna, for lunch. I'm so glad that we got to meet up with them afterward. Even if Anna and Drew were a little bit bored, it was great to re-hash the race with Sarah! She ended having a great race and she definitely made my entire race day a lot better!

Official Results (click to enlarge)

Watch Results
Time: 3:45:55
Distance: 1.50 miles swimming / 18 miles biking / 8 miles running
Calories: 2678
Maximum HR: 193
Average HR: 174

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I've Dreamt All The Bad Things

So, I had the most ridiculous dream last night. Probably all pre-race jitters, but I'm sure that it's better to get them all out before the race! In my dream, I did the swim with no trouble at all. I got to the mini T1 and changed and ran to the real T1. I was really happy because I was done with the swim and T1 in 44 minutes, which I thought was a great time (and I'd absolutely be happy with that in real life).

However, when I got to T1, my bike wasn't there. I realized that I had left it at the hotel. That only left me one option - to go back and get it. I ran to the hotel (about 3 miles from transition) and when I got to the hotel, I realized that I didn't have a key with me that actually worked (this is actually true - somehow my key card demagnetized yesterday). However, I lucked out because my mom was there (totally weird) and she had an extra room key to give to me.

When I walked into the room, Drew was still there and was naked with another girl. I just looked at him and said, "I don't have time for this right now" and left. I have to tell you that in my dream, I was actually pretty mad that he wasn't there watching the race! Before I left, he told me that she was there because she wanted to close the blinds because it was so sunny in our room (also true).

I make my way back to the transition area with my bike and when I get there, I realize that I'm still carrying the hotel room key and so I need to give it back to my mom. I set my bike down so that I can return the hotel key. When I get back, I realize that someone has stolen the handlebars off my bike! I am frantic at this point. I try to think about whether or not I can do the race without handlebars. I try to think about the fact that I could just take the chain off if I need to change gears, but then I realize that I can't brake properly without the handlebars.

At this point, it's 1:30:00 into the race and there is a three hour window for the swim and the bike portion of the race. I go talk to the race director to see if anyone has seen my handlebars anywhere. While I'm talking to the race director, I realize that my entire middle school class is there watching the race and they're all wearing yellow M&M t-shirts.

After a few minutes, someone finds my handlebars in the middle of the road. The race director tells me that at this point he can't let me go out on the bike course. I am infuriated at this! He tells me that there is no way that I am a fast enough biker to finish the course in the three hour window, since so much time has already passed. I ask him how he knows how fast I am and he sort of stammers an answer.

I decide that I should just get on my bike and go. Of course, that was the end of the dream, so I don't know how it ends. I figure that tomorrow can't be much worse than the dream -- at the very least, I plan on having my bike there with me!