Monday, March 31, 2008

Crashing Fatigue

Ok boys, this one is NOT for you and it ain't about wrecking your bike either. For about 2 months now, I've been moaning and groaning about my lackluster training and just not feeling right. Is it my eating? Am I not training right? What the heck is going on? Yesterday was to be a 4 hour training session which ended up a barely 2 hour session which totally devestated my feeling of being ready for anything. I simply couldn't go anymore. It was a struggle to run 20 minutes, ride a little over an hour and swim 30 minutes. I was pathetic. I'm home sick. Feeling like shit -- generally crabby, tired beyond imagination (I fell asleep a minute ago waiting for a page to download), feel bloated, and most recently, inability to concentrate - my mind just wonders everywhere other than what it is I'm donig. So I do this research, and low and behold I'm diagnosed!

Its a perimenopausal symptom called Crashing Fatigue and its EXACTLY what I've been experiencing the past two months. Yes, it affects daily life, yes it frustruating and yes, it ain't going away for probably about a year. From the above website:

Crashing fatigue is a debilitating and complex disorder experienced as body exhaustion with extremely poor stamina that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. In other words, it's an endless overwhelming feeling of tiredness.
What causes Crashing fatigue? The exact causes for crashing during menopause are still in debate, but it is generally accepted that the main reason for this is that the the declining level of estrogen hormones, producing hormonal imbalance, are responsible for the crashing fatigue.

So there ya have it...I'm officially old and slow and now I have a medical reason for it! So you'll just have to listen to me whine for a couple years longer. Once the old monthly visitor goes away for good, I'll have about year to get "normal" again. In the meantime, you'll all have to deal with the be-atch. (sorry ricky!)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hopes, Prayers and Dreams

Racing is a is gift....always, always give thanks numerous times for all of it. Jamie Whitmore is a Pro Xterra athlete that for years has been fighting for 1st with Melanie McQuaid, the 3-time World Xterra Champ. The two nearly always finish within seconds of each other, passing each other many times on a course. They always make for an exciting Women's Pro Xterra race. When interviewed, the two never really have friendly feelings for each other, although they respect each other immensely. Jamie tends to be a little more fiesty than Melanie, but its always fun to hear the two "talk" about each other -- until recently -- the tune has changed. Jamie was operated on yesterday to have a baseball-size tumor removed from her butt cheek. The problem is, its intertwined with her nerves at her spine, and there's concerns of nerve damage, walking again, and of course is the tumor malignant or benign. I haven't heard any updates on the surgery. Melanie did a tribute to her on her website -- and it's touching. Between the two, it really makes one think of how precious life is.

Taking the Plunge

I said this winter I wouldn't do it because its too expensive, but after I officially signed up for my first Xterra since that fateful near-drowing incident of 2005, I figured I better learn to swim! So here's a picture of my coach for an upcoming clinic... Candy Angle.

She won Xterra Worlds in 2002, and her and her husband, Andrew Noble, own Caan Sports in Massachusetts. They coach athletes -- specializing in swim, Xterra, and triathlons. They routinely hold swim/bike/run clinics in Weymouth, Massachusetts, but are taking their clinics on the road to Philadelphia this spring and I signed up for the Swim Clinic on April 12. On Thursday, I had the pleasure (!) of being in the pool with the 4 national Y competitors while they trained for their big trip to Florida in April for a national competition. They all just glide past me like I'm standing still. I said to Rick, that's my goal... I want to glide too. He laughs, "Jill, not everyone can do that...did you stop to think maybe that's why THEY are national competitors?" Oh well, I can dream, can't I? So my goal is to glide in the water. I think I can do it! Hey - I just realized my goals and focus have officially been brought back to reality and lined up again. I was losing it there for a couple weeks! Too much too do, too little time to do it all in.

Red Mo Downriver Kayak Race Report

Not only does the Red Mo water look bad, it tastes bad too. But that didn't stop oodles of all kinds of boaters from racing it yesterday. They added several new divisions this year for the 41st running of the Red Mo Downriver race, and it brought out I'm guessing over 200 boaters from the two-person flannel-shirt and blue jean, beer drinking buds in a canoe, to the serious Wavehopper racing kayaker. It was a real mixed bag of racers and despite 30 degree temps, everyone had a blast. I finished mid-pack (I think fifth-can't be sure until the hand-written results come out) in my group. Jen and Judd Kulas, Barb Sears, Dave Geesey and Rick started out about an hour before the race and stopped at the infamous island to snap pics of the racers. They saw 3 canoes sink. Cold weather got them moving off the island shortly after my group went through. Barb and Dave experienced the Red Mo for the first time and enjoyed it as a first-of-the-year (for Barb, Jen, Judd), clean-out-the-cobwebs paddle. My division had about 10 girls. Most of us had river runner boats ( 7-8 footers). I think there was one or two slalom or longer WW boats so we were pretty much even-keel in boat-type competition (for those unfamiliar with White water boats, the type of WW boat makes a huge difference in speed; thus separate divisions for varying boats). The start was cool - each division went off together. The very first heat was Canoe women and Recreation kayak women. The 2nd heat was all the K1 Whitewater women. For the start, we all were in the water, facing upstream as the two-minute countdown started. When 15 seconds hit, we turned out boats and headed to the start line and when he said GO, we all took off. At first, we sort of hung together in a group which I didn't care for much as the first rapid came up -- I envisioned someone flipping due to too many of us clustered together. There was a girl at the start that never raced and about 2 minutes into it, I heard her say "this sucks." I don't think she expected we would actually PADDLE the entire race! She finished somewhere behind me. So we started to break apart about 5 minutes into the race. A group of about 5 stayed clustered together in front, then one girl slowly started falling back with me behind her. She stopped to get a poker run ticket (I'm not sure she knew what she was doing), and I passed her. Then another girl stopped to pee (I think), which put me in 5th which is where I stayed the remainder of the race. I lost sight of the 4 girls in front of me about 1/2 way through. I realized after the race, this was the first I was back in my Diesel in over a year! I've been paddling a shorter, playboat most of last year and decided this winter I'd go back to the Diesel for comfort sake. I was shaky in the water (first time in moving water this year), and the boat was not connecting with me, so I was fighting with at spots. The most popular spot, Rattlesnake Rapid at the island, I completed chickened out and missed the rapid -- but I'll blame the boat (ha!). Someone even said, "you're in a whitewater boat" as I totally missed the rapid. I'm such a stooge. But it was an incredible, fast-paced, high HR 1 hour paddle. Great training -- which is what I set out to do Isn't that my excuse for all my races when I don't finish well!? HA!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Red Mo Kayak Race - is 33 Degrees Too Cold?

The high temp in "Grassflat," near the Red Moshannon Downriver Race, is expected to be 40 tomorrow. At the time of the start of the race, it will be 33. We planned on meeting 4 kayaking friends up there, but Rick's a tad uncertain now given the balmy temps. None of us are fans of paddling in cold temperatures and to all of us, anything below 40 is cold. Sooo... there's a slim chance we may not go. But if we do, you'll get a report and pics.
And the race itself? Its 7.5 miles of all downriver class 1 and 2 water. The Red Mo is actually the Moshannon River, nicknamed the "Red" Mo because of acid raid runoff, rendering the creek inhabitable for most aquatic life. There are no fish in the river, thus you can paddle pretty much anytime the creek is up without disrupting the fisherpeople. That's the other downside -- its often too low to paddle. Spring or hard rains are about the only time the creek is up enough to enjoy a non-scrapey paddle. My interest in racing it is because of my preference of a straight-shot, fast, downriver run. Most of the folks I paddle with, enjoy taking breaks, stopping, surfing, rolling, fooling-around, and generally just taking their time and having fun. My enjoyment is getting a good workout, and poking around in waves doesn't always do it for me (sorry guys!). Thus, I entered the race. So I'm hoping we go, but if we don't, I officially signed up for the Xterra in NJ in may, so I'll be hitting the pool for some good swim drills in place of the race, and of course will be biking and running too.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back to Reality

The Focus: Short-distance MULTISPORT (sprint and olympic distance).

The Goal: Total body fitness.

That seems easy enough. The next step is breaking out the goal into related short, mid and long term goals.

The long term, (I think) is the total body fitness thing which matches up with the fit-as-can-be-by-age-50 goal.

Mid-term - that would have to be this season - what do I want to do to acheive my long-term goal? Race. Why do I think I have to race to be totally fit? Because it pushes me to my potential, otherwise I'd muddle along at a low HR and never really acheive a higher level of fitness. I'd even start the "oh, I don't feel like it tonight" routine and end up in the garden pulling weeds. (although I like doing that too). Slowly, but surely, I'd lose more and more fitness and end up in a size 14 again. By signing up and paying for multisport races, it forces me to workout, thus, working towards that goal.

And short-term...the weekly training. How much time am I willing to commit to reach the goals? 8-12 hours a week is the aboslute max. Are there time constraints. Yes - work! Yes - my gardens! Are there other obstacles? Yes - I need flexibility in the weekly plan. A canned follow the plan by the rule isn't going to work. If its nice on Tuesday, we're going kayaking and I'll have to switch the Tuesday bike ride to another night. I think this is where my downfall is. I need to come up with a good plan to follow and build fitness, yet allow for as much flexibility from weeknight to weeknight as possible. And we all know most plans are fairly strict... so this is the part I need to think through a bit more.

Are the goals realistic?

Are they measureable?

Are they enjoyable?

Gee whiz, I feel like I'm at work figuring up performance measures and strategies. Yuk.

Next up...a plan to follow. I was using my plan from 2005 doing Xterras, but its just not working out now that paddling is in the mix. Mother nature plays a big role in paddling and she's not following no stinking training plan. So research is underway to develop a flexible, yet fitness-improving training plan.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Everyone Who Races Needs Goals and Focus

I have a problem, unlike many others who like to race -- I want to do it all. My head wants to do this one, do that one, even do two in one weekend! I want to be top point scorer in Rivertown Race series, I want to do Xterras, I want, I want, I want. .. but my body is telling me something much, much different. In my search to figure out what the heck is going on, I believe part of my problem is focusing and goal setting. Mr. Laub said a long time ago at the beginning of one of the race seasons, "What are your goals, what's your focus?" And those simple words spell out and answer many questions. This article, the Creative Athlete, is a good, relatively short and informative read. There are short, mid, and long term goals. The short and mid are what most of us weekend warriors focus on. The long-term goals, in this article, are for the elite -- what if I go Pro, what could I acheive? Most of my friends have goals -- the Weisers want to do the Wild 100, and a 12-hour adventure race. So their training is focused on long, endurance-type events (i.e., the 12 hours of Lodi, some of the 50-milers MASS is holding). Chrissy has her sites set on Xterras this year; thus, she's swimming/biking/and running like a superstar (of course having an almost-pro ironman-caliber triathlete to train with and get some mojo from certainly helps!). My Mountainside buddies have an easy focus -- win bike races, so they bike, bike and bike some more. Me? Like I said earlier, I want to do it all. And that's certainly not much of a focus is it now. I want to do long stuff (cause its slower), I want to do Xterras (cause you don't have to train as much and put in the hours AND they have appropriate age groups for oldster women), I want to kayak (but that doesn't do much for the other stuff I want to do). ARGH! All the while, my training and performance is suffering. There's no structure, no focus. There's no training plan, there's no goal to acheive. I muddle through a training week hoping I at least get through the week -- hoping I get the hours in, but ignore the most important part of training: focusing on what your goals are -- 'cause I don't have any! Occassionally, I think about getting my heart rate up wehreby if I had a "real" training plan, my HR would have been up quite a bit the past month. Instead, it goes up every now and then, wipes me out for a couple days, then I get frustrated and think about quiting 'cause I wonder if I'm too old or whatever. Geez. When I took up mountain biking 7 years ago, I did for one reason: to lose weight and to be as fit as possible by age 50. My first goal was accomplished and I have racing through the years to help for that. I have 1.5 years to go to accomplish the 2nd goal. I felt super fit two years ago when the weight was down, I was hitting the weightroom 3 times a week and I wasn't putting in super-long training hours. Today, I just feel a mess. Even this morning, my head was swimming with what to do the weekend of May 17 and 18. There are 3 events, and I simply can't decide which to do. I've told Chrissy about 100 times now I'm doing the Xterra, no I'm not, ok I'll do it, no I'm not. I think I have some focusing to do. This article on goal setting was a good start for me too... it asks things like do I enjoy what I'm doing? Am I willing to put in the hours it may take? I'm already have a couple ideas in my head. I'll be back with a plan. Of course, I just realized, I had a plan at the beginning of the year and didn't follow it... there was definitely a break-down somewhere. Doh!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Soon Retiring

If there's many more days like yesterday, the future of racing for Chili is inevitable. Maybe it was Rick's fault -- making me lug the chainsaw through 3 miles of trail. Maybe I'm just totally out of shape, old, whatever -- but my piddly two hours of bike/run was all I could do after hiking through the woods, with an average HR of 130! That's all she wrote...very dissappointing. And everything hurts, my shoulders, my legs, my ankle feels like its broke. Whine, whine, whine. Yes, I'll have some cheese with that whine! Make mine portwine.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Miracle Gel - and Its Homeade

Some folks get through long rides and races without any supplements -- they must be freaks of nature. And everyone is different on what works best for them. None of our engines were built the same. My 4 cylinder runs fairly smoothly (smooth, but not fast -- especially on the uphills) with gels and Clif Shot and Hammergel got me through many rides. This year, something different caught my eye -- mainly 'cause its homemade and you control the ingredients (i.e., organic, fresh, "healthy" non GMO soybean protein). Last week was the maiden voyage of this potion, and my engines kept stoked throughout the whole ride with no hick-ups; so its going along again today for the ride to confirm this gel is a go for the season.

Gel with Protein - fills one 4 oz gel Flask
  • 6 Tablespoons honey

  • 5/8 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (I LUV this stuff and have been eating it for years. Its full of calcium, potassium, carbs and iron -- two tablespoons a day right out of the jar will cure all that ails you).

  • 6 3/8 teaspoons soy protein

  • 1/16 teaspoon salt

  • 1-3 Tablespoons water (to get it to the consistency you like).

Gel without Protein

  • 7 1/3 tablespoons honey

  • 3/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses

  • 1/10 teaspoon salt

Good stuff...fairly inexpensive too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Master Athletes -- Its a Little Different Each year

But does it have to be? Most say no - most coaches claim the decline of fitness with age is mostly due to the decline in activity -- even to the point of inactivity. Scientists claim you may slow with age, but your fitness does not have be lost with age - if you keep it moving and moving it at a high intensity. Once of Chris Charmichael's staffers wrote a great article on the Master Athlete and Recovery She states:

How can masters athletes compensate for cardiovascular changes related
to aging?One of the most dramatic age-correlated effects is the decline in
maximal aerobic capacity (i.e., the amount of oxygen the body can transport
to muscles for use during a really hard effort.) Although some decline in
aerobiccapacity is expected as athletes age — there is a reason why senior
citizens generally don't compete in the Olympics — you can minimize this
impact with high-intensity training. Start by incorporating
high-intensity intervals that last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes into your
workouts once or twice a week. You can do this while running, cycling,
stepping on the elliptical machine or swimming in the pool — anywhere you
get your cardio exercise. Once you're warmed up, do a set of 3 all-out
sprints lasting 30 seconds each (or 45 or 60 seconds if you're already
very fit). Then recover for about twice the time of the
interval (i.e., 1 minute for a 30-second interval) at about 65% of your maximum
heart rate. As you become fitter, you'll find that you need less recovery
time between efforts and that you can hold the intensity for progressively
longer intervals. Over time, work your way up to one set of 5 intervals that
lasts 2 (or even 3) minutes each.

My aging bones have been having issues this year, and after reading this, I'm prone to believe possibly I haven't been working hard enough - I KNOW I haven't been in Zone 5 more than maybe 2 hours all winter. The past two years saw high intensity intervals for bike racing, but this year I haven't been getting the old HR up much past 165. When the Humdinger Trail rain near zapped everything out of me and it took two weeks to get back in the swing, I now realize its because I haven't been getting HR up high enough. So I guess that scary zone is in order pretty soon. Crap.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

No Blue Marsh Trail Run Report

Decided to bag the 7.46 mile Blue Marsh Trail run because of rain/mud AND I simply didn't feel like racing. Always trust instincts and tuition... yesterday was slow, but I managed to get in a nice training session in Weiser State Forest and got a LOT of updates on conditions of trails there. Read hear to see the latest on RCST trails.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Damn Thing just Won't Roll

I look pissed on this picture because I AM pissed. We spent several Sundays this Winter at indoor roll sessions to learn how to roll a kayak. Rick does beautiful, perfect the pool. Its a different story in moving water. Last year I got a roll ok, but didn't really practice it...just didn't see the need. I was also fine with the idea of swimming (swimming in whitewater kayaking is the term used for pulling the skirt off and sliding out of the kayak if you flip in a wave in fast water and are upside down). And I'm ok this year too with swimming. We joke about one of our kayak friends, Dave Geesey, who is the most calm, cool, controlled paddler we've ever seen -- he never gets caught in a wave and goes over; thus he never swims. But....he doesn't have his roll perfected either. So those of us that can't roll well say we go to the Dave Geesey school of paddling -- paddle well enough you never HAVE to swim! I completely lost my roll this year. Rick thinks I just HAVE to get it, but I really don't want to. I like that Dave Geesey School of paddling!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Humdinger Results

Results from the Humdinger Trail run are up Alaina Deitz ran it in 1:04!!! That girl must have Gazelle blood. Speaking of Alaina, she was overall high points scorer last year for the entire River Towns Race Series. Yours truly was second highest. That was incentive enuf to motivate my arse a little more! So another race has been added to schedule in April. Its a short one that I'm using as an "opener" for the Savage the following day. Just 2.5m paddle, 5m run, and a 10m ez mountain bike. I'm also working on the potential of doing a two-day adventure race in August that's part of the River town Race Series. Not sure yet on that one yet. The organizer is planning a 200 mile trek over a weekend -- I told him that's too much, 100 miles would be more appropriate for the average weekend warriors that would enter the race. So I'm waiting to see what he comes up with. There's also a possibility it may be teams only and I'd rather go it alone. Will have to wait and see what the race entails. In the meantime, I'll be working towards two-days of racing by putting together back to back shorter races on weekends. I may also do a 75 mile road ride the day before the NJ Xterra if the date truly is Saturday the 17th (he's screwed up on the Website saying its Sunday, May 17) FOOD is my big issue right now and getting the right amount of calories and nutrition and protein (its a challenge if you want to limit meat consumption!) Carmichael is my new best friend again.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Oh the Pain - Like Two Wooden Legs

It's been 48 hours since that Humdinger of a trail run, and I'm STILL feeling the affects of the screaming downhills AND the pokey uphills. My ass hurts, my legs hurt and the result is this stiff-legged walk that very much resembles Forrest Gump before he ran his leg braces off. Of course it has everything to do with running down hill. Good article about painful quads after a run here. But...recovery nutrition is everything too and as usual, I was in too much of hurry to get out of there on Saturday after the race, and ate a banana and a Luna Bar for lunch (after a 1:25 hard run? - what a jerk) and didn't eat again until about 4:00. So we headed from the race to the YMCA and I started to swim and about 15 minutes into the swim everything started to get worse and I haven't been the same since. I'm still slightly lightheaded, in pain everywhere, tired as all hell, crappy attitude, lack of sleep and of course no ambition to ride or train. I managed to force a two hour ride on the trainer yesterday morning, but the crappy attitude/lack of sleep/Forrest Gump legs continue. I said to Rick - its awful early in the season to be thinking about not racing already! I'm signed up for 3 races (St Patty's Scramble, Savage, and the 12-Hours of Lodi)...I think I'll hold off for anymore at the moment until I feel human again. I really want to do the NJ Xterra, but I gotta get my head/body in shape. HELP!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Humdinger 7.1 mile Trail Run Race Report

Lots of up, lots of walking, lots of screaming back downhill -- IF your shoes of choice were good grippers and knobby. Some guy in front of me was slipping, sliding, falling all over 'cause he was wearing worn-out old sneakers. So word to the wise -- wear knobbies in snow when running downhill. That was about my only saving grace -- good sneakers and being able to catch some of the near entire pack that passed me about 4 minutes after the start. The race was for training and it was perfect training.... 164 avg HR, 178 max; 1:24 minutes for 7.1 miles. Yup...that's about a 12:00 minute mile average. HA! What a loser I am...but it WAS good training. Alaina Deitz wins the women's (again). Not sure about the gents. Lots of Rick's Pix of the race here...including Alaina crawling up the hill. Results aren't up, so I don't how I compared but it really doesn't matter much. I'm now the oldest in my age group and just as I anticipated, am getting whooped on by the younger gals. I saw at least 3 girls ahead of me in my age definitely no podium. But it was a nice day and definitely good training. Next up...a 7.46 trail run at Blue Marsh followed by the whole-loop bike ride with Missy Chrissy. Will be another awesome training day. If anyone wants to join us, leave a comment and we'll hook up with you the day of the race. The bike will be about 23 miles...maybe 3 hours. And if you aren't familiar with Blue Marsh, there's bunches and bunches of short steep hills.