Friday, February 24, 2012

Mixing it up

I love routine. Every morning I drink my orange juice out of the same cow glass. We only have one, and it's mine--a friend gave it to me in grad school. Technically, you're supposed to drink milk in it, but I like to cheer myself up in the morning with the cow glass, and I don't want to drink milk then.

This week I dropped the cow glass and it shattered. I drank orange juice out of a regular glass the next morning, and it wasn't the same. Then a package came yesterday, and in it were some of these, bought (and express-shipped) by my awesome husband:

It is a little alarming how much this improved my mood. The 6-yr-old was alternating between barfing all over the living room carpet and keeping us up with fever-induced night terrors, and I was all happy about my new cow glasses. (He's better today, also.)

I do not love routine in my training. If I do the same workout too many times, I have nothing to think about except how I'm doing compared to last time, and I don't find these thoughts to be helpful. It's also pretty clear that the body adjusts to routine, so if I want to improve, I need to mix it up a bit. So mixing it up has been the theme of my winter training so far.

First big change: I've been riding outside a lot this winter--almost every week. Thanks, lame-a** winter! I've riddensome with friends, including a lot with Linda

and some by myself.

I've always secretly wanted to get my VO2 max tested but have been kind of scared to do so, but this winter I was pushed to do it because a friend of mine needed subjects for her dissertation study. Turns out the VO2 test was a cakewalk compared to the actual study. Here I am suffering on one of my two study rides (each of which was followed by 5K hard on a treadmill while a vampire someone took blood from my hand every 1K while I kept running).

If you think I look sweaty and miserable, it's because I was. This was before the bike started to feel unbearably hard, at which point all I could really think of (and talk about) was how much I hated my friend and her study. In fact, for a moment I panicked and thought that maybe this was one of those "fake" studies, and really what she was looking at was how much subjects complained and how much that impacted their performance. But really, in hindsight, it wasn't that bad. Here is my friend (the shorter one) along with her vampire assistant:

I know they don't look cruel, but don't be fooled.

And my VO2 is higher than I expected, so now I'm wondering why I'm not faster. Maybe this knowledge will expand the limits I inadvertently place on myself. Or maybe when I get it retested at another lab (because now I'm kind of a VO2 slut and am doing it wherever I can), I'll find out their instrument was miscalibrated.

I'm mixing it up in the pool by increasing volume slightly over last year and swimming most times with Linda, instead of by myself. Swimming with someone else is huge--it is pushing me to go faster than I normally would, and it is so much more fun. My coach has thrown in a few baby IM sets, and I can actually swim 25 yards of "butterfly" (I use that term loosely) without the lifeguard springing to her feet for an imminent rescue. But seriously, I took over 25 seconds of my 500 yard TT time from last year this time, so I think all this swimming stuff is paying off.

To be able to swim longer and also to swim regularly with a buddy, I joined the local Y, instead of swimming for free where I work (but where the hours are severely limited). This also means I can jump in a weekly spin class, which is another new thing for me. If I keep going like this, in another couple months I'll be doing zumba.

I did one run--my first ever (and before my friend made me do it twice for that @#$%^&*! dissertation study)--on a treadmill. This was in Indianapolis in January, when it was 3 below and I had brought only one layer. I made it 20 minutes outside and cried uncle. The treadmill confirmed my suspicion that I do not run on treadmills, but the experience also reminded me that my whole self-righteous and smug "Of course I don't run on a treadmill! I run outside! I'm a real runner!" thing is only because I live in New England, where even during a harsh winter, it's nothing like the midwest.

I still am not ever planning to do a half or full ironman, but I signed up for a "half lite" in May just to mix up my racing a bit, and because I thought it would be good for me. Also because all my friends are doing it.

I took time out of being all Sporty Spice to be like most of my fellow Americans and sit around and watch other people be athletic:

It was exhausting, really. Also loud. And all you people who think Steven Tyler didn't do the national anthem justice, you are just being haters.

First race of the year is coming up this weekend!