February 23, 2013

Back to Pool

I finally did it. I finally dragged my reluctant self to the pool for a swim. It may not sound like much of a feat, but when you consider I only swam 23 times in 2012, it's significant.

When I learned to swim in 2008 it was an incredible journey. I was tackling one of life's big to-dos and paving the way to doing my first Ironman in 2009. It was exciting, new and challenging. I went to the pool five days a week and loved it. Even while training for my first Ironman, I chose to swim four days a week instead of the three prescribed by my coach. But over time, my love of swimming waned and it became a chore. Now I can barely stand the thought of it.

Six of the months of 2012 were swim-free, and the other six were spotty at best. I only swam three times to prepare for the Celebration Sprint in June, and only two times to prepare for Steelhead. I knew I was strong enough to get through the races and didn't care if my times were slower.

But now as I stage a comeback from total burnout and tackle my fifth Ironman, I'd like to do it right, which means getting back to consistent swimming. I only went once in January and skipped the first half of February, so this week's solo swim was my fresh start. I'm aiming to do the twice-weekly swims my coach has laid out - nothing more, nothing less.

So how was my first swim in months? It was as expected - a little awkward, definitely slow and surprisingly tiring. But it wasn't awful and because I have a flexible schedule, I was able to go just before 9am and have the pool to myself. Now I just need to do it again and again, until it feels like part of my normal routine.

A lot of triathletes don't enjoy swimming. Is it your favorite or least favorite of the three sports?

February 18, 2013

Downton Abbey Sundays

Buy wine online at Wine Chateau.

Sunday is usually my rest day, plus it's farmer's market day and generally an all-around "me day." I sleep in, have breakfast or brunch out, go to the market, do my other food shopping, run errands, get a manicure, visit with friends. It's always a pretty fabulous day. But when Downton Abbey season three began, Sundays went up a notch. We drank wine, had great food and watched Downton. Does it get any better?

Some menu highlights have included 40 cloves of garlic and a chicken, salmon with shallots and grapefruit, and grass-fed beef chili and cornbread. Last night, for the final Downton Abbey Sunday this year, I braised a pork shank in white wine. The shank was from my favorite local pork purveyor, Flying Pigs Farm and the recipe incredibly simple, yet the outcome so divine.

The shank is rubbed with a mixture of crushed garlic, fresh minced rosemary and olive oil, then placed in a dutch oven with butter and a mixture of carrots, onion and celery. I used some beautiful yellow carrots from the farmers market.

After slightly browning, the temp is lowered, wine is added, and three magical hours later you have the most incredible pork you could imagine.

The wine line-up paired beautifully: Joel Gott Pinot Gris 2010 for braising and sipping; Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2007 with the pork. 

The meal was outstanding. The finale of Downton Abbey, however, was not. I'm still in denial. I'm also in denial that Downton Abbey Sundays will have to wait until January 2014. In the meantime, I'll continue my other Sunday MyDay traditions.

On the training front, things continue to progress after a major stress, exhaustion, work, life-change setback. Thankfully after missing most workouts for two weeks, I had a structured rest week and nailed almost all of it. It's still a juggling act, but as I phase off my consulting work, more time is freed up for training. I also have a new motivation - more to come on that this week!

Are you a Downton Abbey fan? What did you think about the finale?

February 14, 2013

She's a Maniac

I haven't exactly been consistent the past year and a half and I've paid for it with loss of fitness. I run a lot slower, I can't remember the last time I biked outside and let's not even discuss swimming. So, if I can't do quality for now, I decided to go for quantity.

The cancellation of the NYC Marathon left me with a choice - take the guaranteed entry and pay yet again to do the race, or take a refund for 2012 and lose an entry I'd already paid for at least three times due to deferments. The reason I've postponed it so much is the timing. It's just months after Ironman Wisconsin and I'm usually burned out or barely jogging by November. But this year, I decided to do both. And if I were going to do two marathons in two months, why not three?

I've always wanted to qualify for Marathon Maniacs and decided 2012 is the year to try. When registration opens Tuesday, I'll sign up for the Chicago Marathon, which will make three marathons in 57 days, enough to qualify for the Bronze Maniac level.

I may not have a full race schedule yet, but at least I have a big goal. I'll do Ironman Wisconsin September 8, Chicago Marathon October 13 and New York City Marathon November 3. And on November 4 I may be hobbling, but with a really huge sense of accomplishment and my very own Marathon Maniac number.

February 7, 2013

Excuses and a New Job!

Once again, I've dropped off the face of the blog earth, but I swear for good reasons. I was easing back into life as an Ironman-in-training, and finding it pretty hard to give up the 9 hours of sleep I'd become accustomed to. Actually, I still am. But that wasn't the reason for my silence.

First, my beloved Macbook failed me. Think about how much you rely on your computer, then multiply that by 10 - that's how I felt. As a freelancer, my entire existence lives in that little, metal box. It took me a week of working with a huge black strip up the middle of the screen for me to find 5 days I could part with my prized possession. During it's absence, I had to work on a Dell... I have nothing against PC people, but I do not work well on one. I stuck to absolutely critical tasks only, like doing my work, and did everything else on my iPhone. Blogging from the iPhone sucks.

Then, I was hit with the stomach virus circulating around the city. It hit fast and hard, and ruined an entire weekend. Plus an entire week of training. While my computer was broken.

But the best reason of all to drop off the face of the earth - I accepted a new job! I wasn't technically looking for something full-time, but was offered a chance to join the executive team of a start up. It's in the wine business and I get to help shape a brand from scratch. Did I mention it's in the wine business!? It was perfect for me so I accepted and started the same day the offer was made. In the meantime, I still have clients so I've been keeping that work going, starting a phase-off and tackling my new role simultaneously. I've never been happier, but I've also never been more exhausted. In a couple weeks it will start to settle into a more normal pace.

So there we have it. My list of pretty good excuses for not training and not writing. But I've restarted the training and my computer is fixed, so no more excuses. Plus there will be a lot to share as I embark on this new adventure. I'm definitely looking forward to the journey.


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