elisariva

Seizing life's joys and challenges physically, mentally, and emotionally.


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Virtually There

My year end goal of improving my fitness is three weeks away. I am focusing on eating clean – most of the time – and keep to my workout routine.  Swimming is one of my favorite sports and I get to the pool to swim four mornings a week. I am also cycling on my trainer, rowing on a row machine and practicing yoga. While I would enjoy riding my bicycle outside for two hours, the weather this time of year is not cooperating and time management makes it challenging to carve that much time out two to three days a week.

I belong to a wonderful fitness club, but returning after work for a second workout just isn’t as appealing as it was when I was training for an Ironman. Now that fitness is my primary focus, I prefer to workout at home after work. Thanks to technology, it is very easy to find challenging workouts!

For cycling, I have a smart trainer, mine is a Wahoo Kickr Snap. There are several apps to use with a smart trainer – TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, and Zwift are a few. TrainerRoad is a great program when training for a long course triathlon. Sufferfest and Zwift combine interactive workouts with virtual videos.

Then there is Peloton. I am sure most reading this are aware of Peloton, has seen a commercial for a Peloton bike, or even may own one. I have been using the Peloton app along with my bike on the trainer. Fortunately, Peloton offers an app based program that the rider can use with their own bike. While the resistance is a bit different since I am not on the actual bike, it is a virtual spin class that offers a great workout. I am able to ride when I want with prerecorded classes, or participate in a live class. The instructor knows who is riding in the studio and online. Even app users who are not on a Peloton bike are listed. The workout stats do not register like when riding a Peloton bike, but the instructor does know when the app user hits certain milestones. Today was my 50th ride and I rode a live class with one of my favorite instructors, Robin Arzon. I always know her class will be a tough workout and she knows how to motivate and push the class. Her favorite saying is “let’s sweat, with swagger.”

My journey through 30 days of yoga is going well. Today is day 9, and Yoga with Adriene is guiding me through it. The classes vary in length from 10 minutes to 35 minutes and she mixes it up so I am not doing the same thing every day. It is still very challenging to sit crossed legged longer than 5 minutes with pain, but I am making progress. Adriene’s style is so refreshing. She talks the yogi through the movements in a very real way. It is like I am casually doing yoga with a friend.

Both Robin and Adriene know how to connect to the viewer virtually through the camera. It is like I am virtually there with them. I follow both on Instagram – and they follow each other too! I get a kick out of Adriene liking Robin’s pictures and Robin liking Adriene’s. I am not surprised they are linked together on Instagram. Robin is in New York and Adriene is in Austin, TX. Another virtual connection of outstanding instructors.

Frequently I hear people say they would exercise if they had time. I am a firm believer that we make time for what we want to do. Yes, getting to a gym can be difficult, but there are options. I have found two outstanding programs that allow me to workout at home in the evenings. My pets get a little more attention now that I am home earlier and I am able to get a few chores done too. All while I also get a good workout in – and I am virtually there with awesome instructors too.


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Peaceful Moment

In two weeks it will be a full year that I have been writing this blog and today is the first day I have sat down with a blank as to what to write. Yes, I will share my workouts, that is a common thread in my posts. As for where I will go with it, that is something both the reader and I will discover along the way.

Let’s see – I will start with the beginning. My Monday routine is taking shape well now starting with the 6:00 AM spin class. Today was a speed workout. Of the three sports that make up triathlon, cycling has been my strongest. This year I have worked quite a bit on my swimming and running to get stronger. I noticed two weeks before I left for the marathon that my cycling distance in class was not as far as it had been and my watts, or power measure, also had fallen off. That has continued since I have been back. Honestly, it is a bit frustrating. The class was a hard workout and I certainly felt it. Where my frustration came was knowing how hard I felt I was working, yet seeing lower watts and miles per hour on the screen. The statistics may have shown I was a bit slower, but I felt like I had finished one of the hardest workouts in spin class. I emailed my running coach later and we discussed adding more leg strengthening exercises in January. It is very possible that with all of the distance running I did training for the marathon, I may have affected my power strength.

After my class I headed to the pool. The cool water was great to jump in to after the hard class. I swam on my own and I was determined to keep my 100 meter pace up, which I did. How quickly my perspective has changed when I came in at 2:02 and felt I was slow. This summer I struggled to get to a 2:04 pace. In all I swam 1,600 meters. I felt good swimming, but I had a subtle feeling of fatigue. After swimming a hard 3,000 yesterday, I did not want to push it. Additionally I plan on swimming every day this week. Getting distance in will not be a problem.

As my day progressed I realized that the fatigue I felt in both workouts this morning was my body telling me something. Usually I can quickly tell – I may need rest, stretching, or to lighten up my intensity. Today I had no idea that it was a warning sign of something I have not experienced in four years. By the mid afternoon I began developing an ocular migraine. This was only the second time I have had one – it starts with white spots in my vision as if I had looked into a bright light. Once the spots go way and I can see clearly, the pain starts. Both have dissipated since I was able to go home early and take it easy.

When I was driving home, I began thinking what I would write about. As you can see, I did not get far in the thought process. What I can say is that even after a migraine that impaired my vision, I did not lose the joyful underlying feeling I have been experiencing. Ah, there is my day’s experience to share. To clean up a well know phrase: circumstances (read: poop if you will) happen. I am learning more and more that when my scheduled out day has a wrench – or migraine – thrown in it, getting worked up will only make the situation worse. It is what it is. And sometimes it is better to take in the peaceful moments of the day with my eyes closed while the headache goes away.


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Advancement

The body’s ability to adapt and mend is an amazing thing to behold. Eight days ago I ran a marathon, a week ago I was struggling to walk down hill, two days ago I swam 1,000 meters and was ready to finish, and today I went to spin class for an hour covering 20 miles and then swam 2,000 meters right after. The only kink, and it was actually a kink, was in my left quad. When I was pulling in my swim warm up I felt a cramp start. I did most of the swim workout pulling after I did 4 x 50 with kicking. The cramp got worse and I wanted to finish. Even though I didn’t kick, I didn’t take it easy either. I was swimming my 100’s on 1:52 and most of my 50’s on 53 seconds. I even did a 200 without full force and came in at 3:56. That is fast for me. Yes, pulling helps me go faster. I was also giving my lungs a good aerobic workout.

Getting through a swim workout sometimes can be challenging. Today I swam with a friend and it helped both of us get through the workout. There is always a fun element to swimming together on the same timed send off. Being slower than most of the people I swim with, we make adaptions. When I did 4 x 100 on a 2:15 send off, she did 4 x 125. On the even ones when we finished on the same side I would try to glide ahead and feel like I was winning, even though she swam 25 meters farther! Hey, what ever it takes to stay motivated. Once again, the buddy system came through.

This evening I did a Pilates workout. My trainer told me to focus really hard on proper form. I don’t know if it was my focus, a week off, or a combination of both, but I am feeling the workout. As much as the body adapts quickly, it also loses strength when not challenged. Core strength is becoming a bigger focus for me. I am thin and have flat abs – it is surprising that flat does not always mean firm. Holding the positions is challenging and I would love to have a pillow for my head, but that would be defeating the purpose I guess…

In reflecting on my training today and over the past eight days, it is more evident to me than ever that nothing comes easy. Building endurance, strength, and speed take time. The training is always challenging if you truly want to improve. Maintaining, if not building upon, athletic levels is a constant focus. Oh and how parallel is this to life? Relationships, careers, faith – all require time to develop, build and even master. Then there is the constant maintenance – nothing can be left on a shelf and be expected to sustain. Sometimes it requires our own effort, sometimes the help of a coach or mentor, and many times the support of friends. Like the marathon course I ran, nothing is linear. There are always ups and downs, even when billed an “easy course”. Hopefully lessons are learned from what works and what doesn’t. It is a terrible sorrow when the same mistakes are repeated over and over. It is a wonderful joy when advancements are made. Yes, how parallel – in sport and in life. It may not be easy, but I want the path of advancement.


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A Few Things

Now that I am back home and getting fairly close to in my at home groove, it is time for change. Notice I did not say back in my routine, the routine keeps modifying – almost with the seasons. Today I started a few new things.

As a dear friend says to me sometimes – Thing One. The first thing I did was a bit of my old routine – I was up by 4:30 this morning and made it to spin class. More of my friends showed up this morning so the class was really fun. To have a group around me I know well and enjoy makes the hour spin by quickly. I did notice that my legs were much fresher than the last few times I took the class while I was peaking in my marathon training. Now that I have recovered, I was able to push at higher watts and faster speeds.  After class several of my friends headed to the pool for a swim. I believe that will be in my future next week as long as I have the time in the morning. So part of Thing One is my return to spin and part is adding more swimming after. A nice way to start a day I would say.

Thing Two – for those reading on WordPress and not email – I have changed my layout again. Just a change in pictures and colors to fit the winter season. The layout has also come full circle. This is the picture I started the blog with almost a year ago. I took it one morning as the sun was rising over the lake across the street. It is such a beautiful scene, I could not think of a better one for winter.  With the welcome of December, the Christmas season, and winter’s soon arrival, I wanted to turn with the season.

On to Thing Three. As I am preparing the information my triathlon coach requested, I am assessing what I would like to do in my training and racing. Despite my doubts, I believe I will be participating in at least one 70.3 triathlon and a marathon in the coming year. My running coach and I discussed some training strategies. We are still in the planning process, but adding at least one long long run – 15 to 18 miles every 4 to 6 weeks will help me strengthen the distance bace I built up training for this marathon. I do not want to go too long without a good long run and risk losing all that I built up.  I also want to add one to two century bike rides this summer. I think there is a blogger reading this in the great state of Michigan hooting with agreement. Finally as part of Thing Three and being a triathlete I can not leave out swimming. If there is one thing my new coach can do to make me a happy camper is make me a faster swimmer. So he will be getting the details in my “help me” list.

This time of year there is one thing that is routine. And I love doing it. This evening I picked out my live Christmas tree, hauled it home, and put the lights on tonight. The rest of the ornaments and home decorations will go up this weekend. I decorated the outside of the house over Thanksgiving Weekend. I really enjoy putting the tree up. The lights, all 1,120 of them, give me a comforting feeling. I have a lighted star at the top, yes it is a representative of the star in Bethlehem, but to me it is also a reminder of my mother. She made the holiday so special for me. The memory of her lights up my heart as the tree and star light up my room. The holidays are said to be the most wonderful time of the year. With loved ones passed on, relationships sometimes in turmoil, and a host of other concerns -some days it can also be the saddest and loneliest time too. The tree reminds me of the hope that was born in a manger that will truly bring joy. Here is the tree – with just the lights so far.

photo


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Monday Monday…

As the song goes … can’t trust that day… I woke up this morning and headed to the gym with 60 degrees and wind. Ah, that wind blew in rain and cold temperatures by the afternoon. Dark, rainy days are bad enough. When it happens on a Monday, well it seems even more dreary. Fortunately the sun looks like it will be shining by tomorrow afternoon (after a 40% chance of snow) and it should stick around until Sunday. The sun, not the snow. There, I already found my something good to look forward to.

When I got to spin class my friend asked how my long run went yesterday. I told her it went well and I felt good enough for cycling. That was before I got on the bike. I did not hurt, but my legs felt like bricks as I started pedaling. The fatigue from pushing race pace yesterday was showing. I took it easy in class – I gave myself two choices. A) if I am to keep up with the RPMs that the instructor suggested, I would have to reduce the tension to the point where there was barely any resistance. Or B) add enough resistance to feel I am working out but reduce the RPMs my 5 to 10. I chose B. I worked up a good sweat, got my heart rate in zones two and three, but I still didn’t hit the speed or watts I have in the past. I keep reminding myself that the marathon is the most important thing to focus on right now, this workout does not have to be all out. In fact later today I checked in with my trainer and she agrees – Friday I have a 10 to 12 mile run with up to 7 of the miles at my goal race pace – no spinning on Friday. Just running.

This evening I did my intermediate Pilates DVD. The slightly more intense moves definitely make a difference. The more I do it, the more I like it. Mixing things up and trying different routines has opened up so many opportunities. I have had a light banter going with another blogger over at Fit Recovery about yoga. Specifically if it is just a girly “foo foo” activity or is it for real men too. I will leave it up to him to discover if it is for him or not, but I do miss it. I hope to get back to a few yoga classes after the marathon. My gym even has a class that is a Yoga/Pilates Fusion class. The opportunities seem limitless…

Monday, Monday… sometimes it just works out that way. Today was not a typical Monday, but lately I am not sure what typical is. The day was dark and dreary. I sometimes prefer snow – at least the white flakes brighten things up. But I did enjoy all I did today, even if I didn’t push as hard as I would have liked in cycle class. Some days are strong, other require a bit more active rest. Sometimes it just works out that way.


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Staying Motivated

I find it hard to believe that it was just yesterday that I had an active recovery day. After spin class this morning and running this evening, I am ready for another day off – or at least a very early bed time. All signs of a good day of two hard workouts. First this morning – spin class was an endurance workout that also pushed to anaerobic threshold. I haven’t tested where my zones are on the bike in over two years. I know that on the bike my aerobic zones should be about 15 to 20 beats per minute lower than running. If that holds true, then I did max out just over my threshold and my average heart rate was in the high end of zone two. What I do know is I pedaled my legs off. We had several excel repeats that took our RPMs well over 100, a few sets to over 110 and 120. Walking into the locker room after class I felt like I had just gotten off of a horse.

This evening I had an endurance run with the goal of staying in zone two for 70 to 90 minutes. The detail junkie in me just had to set a mile goal today so I ran 6 miles easy, no walking, and kept my average heart rate at 134 – right in zone two. All in 71 minutes. So far this week I have run 38.4 miles and I still have a run in the morning to do. This will be the most I have run in one week all year not counting one week when I ran a long run on Sunday and then the following weekend ran my long run on Saturday. No wonder I am feeling so worn out – I am!

This evening in the locker room I was chatting with a woman who is just getting back in to exercising after having a baby. She asked how I stay so motivated to exercise. That was a tough question to answer. It has become such a part of me that even feeling so exhausted as I type right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yes, training for races does help me keep the intensity up – but I only have running races planned from now through May and that does not keep me from the pool or the bike. I enjoy how I feel while working out. I enjoy how I feel with the rush of endorphins after. I really appreciate the benefits working out has on my body – both physically and mentally. Making friends along the way helps too, I am not alone in this journey. I do not need motivation to get up every day and work, I love my career. I do not need motivation every weekend to visit my father and manage his affairs, he is my family and I love my family. I guess the best way to answer the question, is that I love doing it. Not every day at work is wonderful. Not every interaction with family members is joyous. That does not stop me from staying the course. Not every workout will be the best workout, but it is helping me be the best me. And that I love.


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If I Stand

Yesterday was a good day – inspiring and full of accomplishment. So it is only natural that today, well, was just not yesterday. Part of it honestly for me has to do with the fact that I have not seen a ray of sunshine for at least 10 days. I even saw a few wild snow flakes flying around today. But beyond the weather, today was just blah. So bear with me as I work through this post and search for motivation, or a ray of sunshine if you will.

When I woke this morning I was not nearly as sore as I expected after running 21 miles yesterday. I had the typical fatigue that I have after a long run and the tightness in my right plantar fascia that demands some attention first thing in the morning. Nothing too sore that kept me from going to spin class. In the spin class room I am warming up only to learn that the class is going to be hills with most work going anaerobic. My thought – for some, but not me. I did the entire workout as instructed, I kept the RPMs suggested, and worked up a good sweat. What I did though was bring down the intensity so that I was in upper zone two into zone three rather than upper zone three into zone four. My legs just did not have enough gas to push it after my run yesterday. In all I got a good workout in, but something in me was just missing.

Usually I do Pilates at home on Mondays after work. Today I mixed it up because my trainer wanted to work together to show me my new resistance program for November. Just when I was getting my old “new” routine down she goes and ups the intensity. We only did one set of everything since I am just a day off of my long run. Wednesday I will do Pilates, and yes I will also up the intensity and move up to the intermediate DVD. Again – I got a good workout in, but I left with more of the blahs.

On my way out I saw the Master Swim coach at a table with information. I stopped to talk with him because I know he also is a triathlon coach. My friend I ran with yesterday works with him and he coached her through her first half iron triathlon this year. We talked a bit about group and individual training. This is something I am seriously considering. I really have enjoyed working with a running coach and adding a triathlon coaching program may be what I need to have a strong finish in Syracuse in June. So I left the gym with a little encouragement.

On my way home I listened to music on my iPod – specifically to an artist that wrote amazing worship songs before his untimely death – Rich Mullins. Regardless of your faith, there are a few lyrics I want to share that did bring today into perspective. The song is titled If I Stand. Without seeing sunshine for so long, the opening verses hit a cord in me:

There’s more that rises in the morning
Than the sun
More that shines in the night
Than just the moon

Yes, there is more out there than just the sunshine. Sometimes I have to dig deep on days like today to remember that I do not stand alone. And yes, there will be days when I would rather fall. Today came close. The chorus goes on to say:

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That You will pull me through
And if I can’t let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You

Well there it is. If you would like to hear the song, it is here. So today, today I will stand. Even if that means I do so on my knees.


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November

My workout this morning to welcome November was a swim. Thursdays are my active recovery days, so I wanted to make the best of my only workout today. I swam the 3,000 meter workout that I only was able to get two thirds through on Saturday. A nice endurance swim with a main set of 100, 200, and 300 meter sets and a good start to the new month.

With this being the first of the month – it is time to take a quick look back at October and look forward to all that is in store for November. For October my goals were to run the 10K and set a PR hopefully finishing under an hour. Well, I did PR – but the sub hour time still eludes me. I beat my previous time by my huge three seconds and that was a celebration for sure. Sometimes it is the little things that make the big impacts. My running program for October was centered on my marathon training. All went as planned except for the shortened long run this past Sunday. In training I planned on adding Pilates and resistance training. As I have written, that has occurred. I really enjoy Pilates too. Strengthening my physical core is also reminding me to keep my spiritual/mental/emotional core strong and in check. The resistance program is going well. I can feel the changes and the chin ups, well, are just down right empowering.  Swimming – I have been able to swim three times a week as planned. I love it. While I continue to work on my form and pace, I am making sure to fine tune my flip turns. I started the year just wanting to learn how to do it. I want to finish the year with it close to mastered. Adding backstroke, breaststroke, and even butterfly was not planned but a welcomed addition to my training. And finally spinning – I have been going twice a week and I am feeling stronger. This was a tough hurdle for me at first since I did not favor a class environment over the roads. Fortunately I found a class that works and is as close to road riding as it comes.

So now on to November. I do not have any races scheduled this month. A first since February. I am consider a 5K the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It is called the Pigskin Classic and runs on the same day as the Ohio State – Michigan football game. Yes I live in Ohio, but I am a Michigan graduate and bleed maize and blue. This race is the weekend before the marathon, so I will play it by ear. In running my entire focus is on my training and tapering for the marathon on December 2nd. I will continue with Pilates and resistance training up until a week before the race. As for swimming, I will keep with three times a week until I leave for California. Spinning I will continue twice a week until the week before the race. The focus is on fresh legs then to run my race.

I find it almost therapeutic to take a moment to reflect on goals, accomplishments, and “works in progress” as well as looking forward. Living each day for all it is worth is my goal. Having plans for the days helps me relax and enjoy the day. I am learning to be flexible along the way too. Sometimes the goals are missed, sometimes greater ends are reached, and sometimes the day goes as planned. At least in training…


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Location

“Location. Location. Location.” A frequently used phrase that most often refers to real estate. Lately it has meant far more to me. Being at the right place at the right time. (rarely, though I wish it would happen more) Being at the wrong place at the right time. (this is my specialty and I learn far more than I wish I had) And being at the wrong place at the wrong time, especially when someone is on my bike when I arrive to spin class. I am a creature of habit and my friend and I have two specific bikes we prefer in the spin class. She has to leave a little early to get to her daughter, so we position by the door. I really like the bike next to her because of the computer. In a room of 60 spin bikes, there are several bike computers that do not work. When I walked into the class, at 5:55 like I always do, the class was filling up fast and two people were on our bikes. Grrr. I made my way to another bike closer to the middle of the room leaving the last end bike for my friend so she could scoot out without climbing over people. Starting into the warm up, the computer would not turn on. At all. I moved over to the next bike. My new heart rate strap was reading fine on the computer, my RPM’s were showing, the watt power meter looked accurate – and I was averaging close to 40 miles per hour. Okay, so one function was off. From the watts I was generating and the RPM’s, I believe the computer was reading double the speed.

This bike I ended up on was located square in the middle – middle row, middle bike. The room has  air fans lining across the front soffit. Where my usual bike is the fans angle out a bit and do not blow directly on me. In the middle it is full on fan action. While I would prefer this when running, I learned today I do not like it while spinning. As soon as I would perspire, the fans would evaporate it. I was working hard but I did not feel as if I got a descent workout it. I was not sweating at all. This combined with a crazy computer recording a 39.8 mile ride in 56 minutes had me a bit high on the anxiety side. Something I have had plenty of lately.

The gloomy, rainy weather does not help improve things, but I am thankful it is not sever. My thoughts are with all of the people on the East Coast coming under Hurricane Sandy today. I am fortunate to have power and the ability to head up and do my Pilates DVD soon and possibly a little yoga/meditation to shed this stress. So I wonder, is being in the right location really all that? Yes when it comes to buying and selling real estate one would argue. But in so many other aspects, changed or “wrong” locations just may help in the learning experience. So I had to change bikes today. As a result I learned a few things – get there even earlier and stay away from the power fans – but also flexibility goes beyond exercise. Anxiety usually comes from reactions to things out of my control. What is, is. Hey, I think I just found a new mantra for stress relief… What is, is.


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I’ve Got the Power

Today was framed with endurance workouts. First this morning I had spin class and we did an endurance workout that pushed to our anaerobic threshold. Each set would increase effort and each set lasted longer. By the end I felt I had a good ride. Since I have been attending spin class I have been paying attention to the bike computer. It measures watts, or power output. The higher the watts, the more power per unit time. Lately I have been averaging 20 to 22 miles in an hour to hour and five minute class. My watts range from 180 to over 350, usually averaging in the 250 area.

After seeing how I have done in class, I became curious how to keep track of this and translate it to the road, my speed has not been this fast. I also don’t think I have worked this hard on the road usually. Both my Garmin Edge 500 for my bike and my Garmin 910XT watch measure watts. Finding a power meter is another issue. They are not hard to find, but they are expensive! A decent power meter for a bike runs at least $1,000. I have a good tri bike, racing wheels, and several gadgets, but I draw the line at spending that much for a power meter. Just before giving up on the idea, I called my bike shop and they told me about the Cyclepos Powercal Heart Rate strap. In short it uses heart rate and other data to translate heart rate effort to power output. The margin of error is about 10%, but the cost is also only 10% of the power meter – about $99. I am going to give it a try and see how it works. Hopefully it will be a good training tool to improve my speed on the road.

This evening I had a speed/endurance run – after a mile warm up I ran 4 sets of 6 minutes at half marathon pace followed by 3 minutes of recovery run. My run went well – it was powerful. I was very happy with the pace I was able to sustain, about 10:20 mile pace, and my heart rate stayed in my high zone three. By the time I finished, I was ready to go home, eat dinner and go to bed. The only thing stopping me now from going to bed is the publish button on this blog.

My workouts today were challenging, but I was ready for them. Getting adequate rest is important and so is proper training. Today was hard. Tomorrow is scheduled to be lighter and I am listening. I had considered running a 5K race tomorrow, but I have decided to pass. Sticking with my training plan and working toward the goal of running a strong marathon in December is my top priority. Power – the power measured to know how hard I am working and the power to exercise control. Both are hard – working at maximum power as well as refraining and minimizing power. Both also will help me improve. The key is knowing when to go strong and when to refrain.