Gone With Z Wind?

To Z-Pack or not to Z-pack, that is the question. It's been roughly a week since I got sick and I'm really starting to see signs of improvement.  For instance, I ran a fairly easy 9.25 miles in just under 1.5 hours this morning, the first 20 minutes at an especially mild pace with Stephanie.  While I continued to cough junk up, it wasn't as frequent even as yesterday.  Same went for my third pool workout in as many days.  This time I had a strong 3,100 yard swim filled with 300s at descending T-pace times.  If only I had felt as good at Wildflower in the water as I did today!  I even clocked a 5:03 300, which is pretty solid for me.

I survived my first real double workout day since before the Half-Ironman.  No pain, no aches, no real feelings of illness.

However, tonight at my sister's condo I made the mistake of coughing and my parents freaked.  They think I absolutely need to crush what's left in my system with a Z-pack -- the medical congestion equivalent of an antibiotic nuke.  My doctor originally told me that a Z-Pack should only be used if I wasn't seeing improvement.  However, I've clearly been getting better day by day.  My folks (and Stephanie) think that I could suffer a setback given I'm back to pushing myself on training.

Not sure whom to listen to here.  I can't afford to miss more workouts, but am I compromising my body's own ability to heal naturally with unnecessary drugs?  I just don't know.

I'll sleep on it tonight and decide tomorrow.

49 days and counting.

Carpe Diem?

Day five of not working out. I'm at home, while Fortius swim practice is occurring just down the street.  Instead, I ate a full Cinco de Mayo meal alone in my kitchen, enjoying the silence like Depeche Mode.

There hasn't been much quiet in my life the past several months, and it's really my fault.  I added the responsibility of writing for Lava Magazine Online onto my schedule while knowing I'd be training for a second Ironman, while knowing I'd be helping oversee the launch of two game titles this year, while helping my fiance finance and plan a wedding.

I'd ask, "What the hell was I thinking?!" but the answer is simple: I wasn't.

And so here we are.  Recovering from what my doctor says is a trifecta of an upper respiratory/sinus infection and allergies.  Tired physically and mentally. Wanting to work out again, but not really having the energy or the willpower to clip into my trainer bike literally five feet away from me.

I'm sure you've had that feeling before too.

So I turned on the TV instead, something I've done a lot of the past couple days.  Something I haven't done with regularity in many months.  I've caught up on some garbage movies, including Green Zone and Rambo III.

And then I saw Dead Poets Society playing on HBO.

This movie came out either right when I was a senior in high school or early in my college days. I knew it was brilliant then and yet I think it's even better now, as I'm older and can appreciate youthful exhuberence from a different perspective.  I got choked up several times as I remembered the kid I was when first seeing Robin Williams preach "Carpe Diem!".  I think what got to me was the realization that I've forgotten my own Carpe Diem from time to time -- and I've certainly lost track of my YAWP lately.

It's easy to get caught up in routine.  Wake up.  Work out.  Eat.  Shower.  Work.  Work out again.  Eat.  Work.  Home.  Quality time with fiance.  Stretch.  Bed.  Repeat.  But WHY do we do it all?  WHAT are we seizing here?  HOW are we seizing the day?

I must say I've enjoyed the quiet and lack of workouts the past few days. I wouldn't have taken the days off had it not been for being sick.  But being on my ass a lot has forced me to slow down and reflect.  My motor was running too high, something one can only realize after it's been forcefully shut off by someone or something else.

Maybe I hadn't forgotten about Carpe Diem, but have been trying to Carpe Diem too much?

At the same time, I know this is the final push, the final 50-something days until Ironman Coeur d'Alene.  The final month until E3 (the Super Bowl of video games shows).  The final few weeks before our wedding website launches, invitations go out, caterers get paid and bachelor parties get planned.

It's all coming to a head soon.  I can either run from it or take it head on.  Either way, all these things are going to happen anyway, so there's only one answer.

Carpe Diem.  Time to get back into the pit once more.


52 days and counting.

PS: For those who encouraged me to try Newtons and take the Newton Challenge, I finally got around to writing down my thoughts for Lava Magazine.  The article is live as of today, so please take a peek.  Thanks for your encouragement and support throughout that process.  I never would have even tried if it wasn't for you.

Sick Day

My body finally said "Enough is enough." I stayed home from work today, falling victim officially to what could be either a cold or an upper respiratory infection. Usually, when I stay home from work I sleep for a few hours and then rally to work remotely throughout the day.  Not this time.  All I could manage was to drink soup and tea in between three rounds of two-hour naps.

Coach Gerardo told me to take a couple days off from training.  As much as I don't want to, I know I must.  I'm hopeful my conditioning will allow me to bounce back quickly, but whatever I have at the moment feels particularly nasty.  It caught me with my immune system compromised heading into a taper.  Based on what I've heard from my friends at work who may have had the same bug, I might anticipate up to a two-week recovery process.

All I can do is take it one day at a time now, and try to give my body what it needs. I suppose it's the least I can do given what I put it through on an almost daily basis.

54 days and counting.

Down But Not Out

The streak has officially ended. After more than a year, really since the LA Marathon in 2010, I've gotten sick again.  It may just be a cold, allergies, or as bad as an upper respiratory infection. I can't tell yet.  Eyes are heavy, body is hot then cold, throat is on fire and muscles and joints are still achey.

If it had to happen, I'd much rather it be now than immediately before Ironman Coeur d'Alene.

Nonetheless, I do NOT believe coming down with something just before race day affected my Wildflower performance.  Poor decisions were to blame far more than a scratchy throat.  The real question now is how do I recover?  Do I try to work in a few workouts lightly and keep some semblance of fitness?  I realize that any illness from the neck up is generally something you can train through.  But is that the case immediately after a half-Ironman event?  The toughest one in the country no less?  I honestly don't know.  I was supposed to do yoga or strength training today and I'm basically stretching for 30 minutes and calling it a night.  We'll see how tomorrow goes.

Really, that's all you can do in triathlon.  Today is over.  Yesterday never happened.  Tomorrow is all that matters.

Otherwise I think it's even harder to get out of bed to train, whether your body hurts or your psyche.

55 days and counting.

PS: THANK GOODNESS I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR IRONMAN ST. GEORGE!!!! (Maybe that's the wisest decision I've made all year?  Stick to the plan.)

Mind and Body Re-Unite!

It took me two days, but I think my head finally made it home from Texas, along with the rest of my body.  But it cost me a day of work to do it.  I stayed home today as I was utter trash when I awoke this morning. In fact, I slept straight through 10:15 a.m. and could have kept sleeping had it not been for the massive rumbling in my stomach.  After all, I dropped three pounds of water weight overnight!  I went to sleep at 137 pounds and awoke at 134.  No joke. Most of my day was spent in a hazy, exhausted fog. All I wanted to do was sleep. I felt like Ryan in Wonderland. Up was down, right was left.  I just didn't feel like my normal self.  Lethargic, to say the least.  And, for the third day in a row, I didn't train.  I just couldn't do it.  No energy.  No desire.

Tonight though, I had to drop my monthly coaching fee check off to Coach Gerardo. Normally, I'd give it to him right before jumping in the water for my Tuesday swim.  Instead, I was observing the team from above the deck.  At first, I was afraid that I had ZERO desire to be in the water with them.  But, in talking with Gerardo, he said what I was going through is normal -- especially for someone training for his second Ironman within a year.  "This is why I told you not to do two Ironmans in one year!" he said.

Hindsight is a bitch.

Gerardo added that I haven't lost any speed or fitness in the past couple days and to simply reset mentally.  Don't dwell on the lost workouts, or trying to make them up.  They're gone.  And it's not a big deal.  Focus on the workouts at hand.  Start from zero mentally.

I can do that.

By the time I was done chatting with Gerardo, I was smiling and starting to feel like my old self again.  By the time I got home, I was listening to the Rocky soundtrack, "Going the Distance," and ready to jump back into the ring again.

Tonight was one of those moments where having a coach really paid off.  Yes, it may cost a lot less to train on your own.  But when you run into mental obstacles like the one I faced the past few days, it's invaluable to have someone you trust tell you it's gonna be OK and adjust your workout schedule accordingly.

Thanks Coach.  I needed that.

Back on the bike tomorrow.  I'm back.

Let's do this!

98 days and counting.

Energized But Cautious

I enjoyed my fourth or fifth massage in as many weeks tonight, courtesy of Fortius teammate David via LA Body Mechanics. The effects are starting to pay off.  I feel more limber.  Less acidic.  My body aches less.

Combined with the reduced training over the past few days, I think I can start to feel my body replenishing its stores.  Which is what I'm supposed to feel at this point, by golly!

Now I'm just trying to stay focused on remaining healthy the next several days.  If I could live inside a bubble I would.  My boss is sick.  One of our creative directors is sick.

I got a message for y'all...stay AWAY from me!

And I mean that in the nicest of ways :)

To combat any potential problems, I'm taking an Emergen-C packet each day, along with my Echinacea  pills.  And my allergy medicine.  And let's not forget the beta alanine and asthma inhaler.

Yep, I'm going a little overboard.  But I don't want to leave any room to chance.  I can handle an injury at this point if that's what's meant to happen.  But an illness, or something as silly as a cold?  Man, that would just suck.  But, if it can happen to Chrissie Wellington, it can happen to anyone.

So, for now, I'll take each day as a gift of health and energy.  And hope I wake up the same way the next day.

That's all I can do at this point, right?

10 days and counting.

Overdoing It

I wrote my blog last night in a strong but tired state of mind.  Then, I signed off my laptop to fall asleep. And waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

Actually, I waited a loooong time before even coming close to sleeping.  Despite the chilly 67 degrees setting on my air conditioning, I was flushed.   I kept changing pillows to find anything resembling the normal coolness that soothes me to sleep.  No relief.  My skin felt like it was truly hot to the touch. Feverish, almost.  My head throbbed. Eventually, I trudged into the living room and tried to crash there -- with an ice wrap on the back of my neck and the cool leather of the couch providing some unlikely help.  That barely helped.  Whether it was waking up to readjust on the couch, use the restroom or drink water, my exhausted body just couldn't turn itself off.

I've really never had that happen before.  Even my heart rate felt elevated.

I'm not quite sure what heat stroke feels like, but if I had to guess, this was it.

And I had nobody to blame but myself.  In hindsight, yesterday I shattered the line between breaking new ground and breaking myself in the process.

After about four hours of fairly awful sleep, 8:30 a.m. sounded off on my alarm with all the charm of a drill instructor banging pots.  There was no way I was going to be productive today at work, so I used a sick day and just stayed home and rested.  I caught up on some extra sleep only to be rudely awakened by Trudy and Bam-Bam using their condo as a jungle gym once again.

I swear I'll have my revenge on them one day. (In a perfectly legal way, for any lawyers reading.)

Overall, I feel better now.  I tried to do too much over the past week and my body decided to send a formal letter of protest.

Message received.

I should be more even-paced over the next few days, which will help.  And I've once again learned a valuable training lesson: Intensity is not always the best substitute for duration.

There will be many more challenges during the next three-plus months march toward the Ironman.  Hopefully, I'll approach those challenges with my usual smarts and ease back on the bravado.

Easier said than done!

103 days and counting.

Down and Out

I didn't do any training today yet it feels like I did.  My back and neck are sore.  My head hurts.  My knees are creaking.  I'm tired.  Wiped out really. Still, it would be dishonest to say I didn't enjoy the day at least a little.  Since training was out, the only thing I really could do with any amount of success was sleep, eat and drink.  Not to mention one hell of a hot, steaming bath.  And I did those things well.

I really needed a quiet rest day at home.

Yet I can't help but get a little frustrated about one portion of my issues mentioned above...namely, my tight back.  Why am I changing my swim stroke the week before the national qualifier triathlon?  On one hand, I completely understand that I can generate much more power from a bigger muscle group (lats) than my hands.  However, at what price?  It practically hurts to breathe when I'm leaning against the couch while typing. That can't be good.  And that's after a sports massage with David on Friday night.  Do I not use my lats at all and that's why I'm so sore?  I don't get it.

Further, why is it that after every damn industry event I get sick?  You'd think I'd have a decent immune system with all the generally good food and proper sleep I enjoy -- not to mention the close to 15 hours of training a week.  Am I so fragile that one week of schmoozing, occasional boozing and cruising the show floor reduces me to a whiny mess at home?

I do think there's another factor at play here, and it's one I'm perfectly accepting as the culprit: the epic awesomeness of my GSNML this past Thursday.  If ever there's such a thing as an emotional hangover, I've got it.  I'm lethargic.  I'm reading every little post-game write-up -- even from the Boston newspapers.  I'm re-reading my own blog post!  I'm just trying to relive the magic of that night, and failing.  I miss that euphoric feeling, as draining as that night ultimately became.  It was such a high.

So, the truth of my situation is that I'm really drained. Physically and emotionally.  I trained really hard last week to try and maintain my peak conditioning, and with everything else going on I just kind of petered out heading into today. I overloaded my body.

As I mentioned yesterday, all things being equal, I'm glad I'm getting this out of the way now and not in a few weeks preparing for the Vineman 70.3 event.  But I would really have liked to have swept into this final week of Breath of Life prep with a wave of confidence and strength.  No doubts.  No fears.  It seems the only "important" race where I've experienced that sensation has been Wildflower.

I sure hope I don't have any conventions before the actual Ironman in November.

151 days and counting.

Sick? Again?

What timing. There must be a big race coming up because once again, I feel like I'm getting sick.

Oh, that's right, that Olympic triathlon qualifier for the national age group championships.  On June 27.

Yep, it's time to come down with something.

I mostly credit that annual germ-fest known as the E3 videogames tradeshow as the culprit for my demise.  There's 45,000 people pouring through the LA Convention Center doors, most of them hygenically challenged...all putting their hands on the same controllers at each kiosk.


So, couple that with lots of hand-shaking, late nights, early mornings for training, questionable nutrition, and less sleep.

I suppose it's no surprise that I don't feel my best.  Coach Gerardo indicated that if I skipped today's run and tomorrow's four-hour bike ride that my fitness level wouldn't be affected at all.  That's enough to get me to probably call it a weekend and go toes-up on the couch for some much-needed rest.  I tried to rally today in the pool for a long swim and came pretty close.  The workout called for 3,500 yards over an hour and 10 minutes.  I didn't have that amount of time because Stephanie and I were attending her cousin Emily's birthday party in Huntington Beach.  Still I managed 2,300 yards consisting of drills and laps in about 55 minutes.  It wasn't ideal, but I could sense incremental progress in my stroke, especially the lat muscle pulling instead of my triceps.  That means I'm using bigger muscles to push me through the water instead of just my arm and hand.  Hopefully, that will make me go faster!

For now, I'm likely to hang it out for the weekend.  Take it easy. Chill out.  Shut it down. Maybe that will help me overcome whatever's ailing me and get me back on track for next weekend's big race.

151 days and counting.

When Ya Gotta Go...

Warning: This is not one of my touchy-feely posts. In fact, it probably won't get much grosser than this.

Tune out now if you can't handle a little "dirty" humor.  And I mean yucky, not sexy.  Just to be clear.

Mom, I'm looking at you.

I never thought this would happen to me.  Before every race or even any training session, I get my bathroom breaks out of the way.  My innards "know" it's time to...ahem...release before I start training for an extended period.  This afternoon, at the weekly LA Tri Club Griffith Park brick, I got faked out by my digestive organs.

I'm sharing this because I think it's happened to all of us at some point.  Whether it's in a race or just practice...when ya gotta go...ya gotta go!  Usually we hope there's a port-o-potty nearby.  Sometimes, like during a trail run, there's just not.

The bike portion of the brick was just fine -- outside of what felt like a swirling headwind that kept our progress up Mt. Hollywood slow and steady.  It was the run that felt like it gave me the runs.

First off, it's a good thing I was running alone today.  (I had to leave early to attend a party with Steph's friends, which turned out to be a lot of fun.) Midway through the run, it was clear something wasn't agreeing with my stomach.  While my pace didn't really slow, let's just say I was re-enacting that famous scene from "Blazing Saddles" where everyone around the campfire is having a toot-fest.  Except I was alone, which meant I could kind of giggle a bit to myself. Jet power!  Because let's face it, no matter how old you are, farts are funny. They just are.  C'mon, you know it's true.

But what's less than funny is realizing that the next toot might not be so innocent.  And nobody wants to relive the movie scene from "Along Came Polly" with Phillip Seymour Hoffman realizing he just "sharted."  I don't think that word needs any explanation, by the way.

So, I had to find a quiet place to, well, uh, you know...poop.

Hey, everybody poops...sometime.

There are few things quite as embarrassing or demeaning than copping a squat in nature but feeling like the whole world is watching.  Whether they are or not doesn't matter, it's just that feeling of knowing you A) look pathetic B) couldn't hold it and C) don't have a magazine to read.

After covering up my creation, I continued my run issue-free. Yes, I felt a little lighter.  And if you know me really well, then you also know I may have had a bit of a guilty-silly grin the rest of the run.

Just don't tell anyone, OK?

Always a new adventure to be had in this sport, right?  This was the first time since junior high school a situation like this occurred.  I kinda hope its the last.

Now, I've got to be up in about six hours to jump in the pool.  Hopefully, issue-free there too. Good night!

175 days and counting.