Falling Off the Fitness Wagon

(Note: Photos will be added tomorrow. I'm still on a plane on the way back from Austin!) I fell off the fitness wagon this weekend.  This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, my demise is rather spectacular.  In this case it meant lots of Texas barbecue (Salt Lick OMG!), lots of Amy’s ice cream (Oreo Speedwagon!), Shiner Bock beer (among my favorites!) and good wine.  It also meant very little training, to the tune of one hour, 15 minutes over the entire weekend.  The odd part is, my travel-driven fitness blunders usually happen when I have everything planned in advance.  Pool to swim in at hotel confirmed in advance.  Fitness center with all the good equipment confirmed in advance.  Gear packed.  Cycling class scheduled, shorts packed.  Even my Garmin watch was charged.

But my intentions were outweighed by reality.  Standing on my feet for hours on end at events and the show floor, being “on” for press and fans of our games, simply wreaks havoc on my back and legs.  I can run all day but can’t stand still!  I’d rather run 15 miles and be sore than deal with the stiffness of waking up after hours standing in one place.  Combine that with being in Austin for the annual music, film and games festival, South by Southwest, and combine that with daylight savings time…and boom goes the training dynamite.

What the heck was I thinking to even try fitting training in this weekend???

Now I know what is meant by the term “Triathlete Zombies.”  We don’t think practically sometimes.  We just have tunnel vision to find a way to complete the next workout.  Stay on schedule, at all costs. Even at the coolest gathering of live, authentic entertainment and kick-ass food in the country.  Meanwhile, life marches on, by and through our somewhat self-absorbed plans.

I should have known it was going to be a long weekend from the very beginning.

I had booked a bike at Mellow Johnny’s (Lance Armstrong’s cycling shop) in their Pedal Hard Training Center, where I was supposed to preview the Ironman Coeur d’Alene course via CompuTrainer.  There was only one problem – Mellow Johnny’s forgot to reserve a bike for me.  My original plan was to cycle for two hours, maybe more, run back to the hotel a few blocks away and then head to the show floor to report for duty.  That blew up in smoke, and in fact Pedal Hard training master Chrissie had to apologetically send me back to the hotel.  I was devastated, like going to the toy store and being told you brought a dollar too little to pay for that favorite action figure you’ve coveted all year.

But then, Cycling Karma smiled.

I had chatted casually with a few of the cyclists using the CompuTrainer equipment on their own bikes as they prepared for their workouts.  Two of them, Casey and an unknown but very kind cyclist on a sweet Felt/SRAM roadie, heard about my plight from Chrissie after I had left.  They both offered to let me borrow their bike for an hour.  So, as I was talking to Steph back at the hotel, dejectedly preparing to swim, Chrissie texted me back and told me to hurry on to the shop again.

That was probably my fastest mile all week!

Chrissie single-handedly saved my morning.  I was so grumpy and dejected at first that I was afraid it would affect my performance at the panel I was leading later in the day.  Missing workouts through no fault of mine is the worst!  But Chrissie doted over me for the hour at Pedal Hard, devising an intervals workout for me, instructing me carefully on how to balance my cadence, and gently urging me to, well, pedal hard, when it counted.  By the end I was spent.  She also advised me to look into a 25/27 cassette for the hilly Coeur d’Alene course as it might save my legs on the run.  Further, she had completed Ironman Coeur d’Alene and gave me all sorts of great advice on how to handle the bigger hills at roughly miles 18 and 72 (“just keep spinning,”)

I was preparing to pay for my session when Chrissie said it was on the house, for the “inconvenience.”  I told her it all worked out fine and I was more than satisfied but she insisted my workout was free.

My faith in all things Cycling Karma had been restored, Mellow Johnny’s remains the Mecca it had always been, and I can’t wait to plan my next trip there.

Thank you, Chrissie.  Thank you, Lance.

That would be the last bit of training I’d do the entire weekend.  An entire day of booth duty, a panel, press interviews and a dinner that lasted until midnight (at Driskills, DO recommend!) crushed me Sunday morning. I simply couldn’t get out of bed.  I knew it was a combination of daylight savings time, fatigue and really the heart of the matter, a quiet room with no Bam-Bam upstairs banging on the ceiling, no snoring next to me (sorry honey!), and the quiet hum of the air conditioning set at the temperature I love.  And the room was dark.  The trifecta was complete, Quiet, Dark, and Cold.  The perfect sleep cave.

Ain’t.  Gonna.  Move!

I’m torn about ditching my weekend training.  On one hand, I know I needed the rest.  I worked hard this week and through the weekend, on top of all the recent business travel.  I know the incremental gains made by training through the fatigue could have worn me down enough to be susceptible to illness considering all the dirty hands I shook (I set a world record for hand sanitizer used in a six-hour period), sweaty console controllers I held, and how much air travel I’ve done the past several weeks.  I feel like rest now will pay larger dividends later than trying to be a tri-zombie and cram in one or two more mindless workouts just because they’re on the schedule.  I also know that I’m not quite in the final critical three months stage just yet, and if ever there was a time to relax a bit, eat a bit more, enjoy a city I love just a bit longer and have a bit more fun, this was the moment. I just wished I had come to terms with that sooner, as in Saturday night when the streets were bustling with activity, rather than Sunday morning alone in my hotel room staring at my suitcase with the goggles and swim cap inside.

Will training a grand total of seven hours this week hurt me at Coeur d’Alene?  Maybe. How much?  I have no idea.  Do I care?  Kinda.  But right now I don’t regret it.  I made the choice.  I did what I had to do to listen to my body and my brain.  My heart didn’t object.  Everything said, “take it easy.”

Whether that’s experience or laziness talking, I’m not so sure yet. Though I can tell you that I’m ready to attack training as best I can in the coming days.  Maybe it’s guilty nervous energy.  However, I may ease back into it just a bit so it’s not such a shock to the system.  I’ve been in this place before, trying to overtrain to compensate for lack of activity (and stretching).  That’s how problems really start.

So while I’m eager to train hard, I know it can’t come all at once.  I’ll have to train smarter.

Maybe my Tri-Zombie days are finished.  Maybe I’m getting a little wiser, a little more relaxed  and gaining better perspective about this crazy sport.

Or maybe it’s time to just have a little more fun when I go on these trips.

Maybe falling off the wagon is a good thing.  After all, once you fall, you have to stop, dust yourself off, and take a look around before getting back on again.

100 days and counting.  Bye-bye triple-digits.