The Triing Lizard

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Maffetone Training! My newest training regimen. My goal originally was to do every training session (including bike, runs, or swims) staying in the Maffetone HR range (calculated to be 146-156 where max HR = 180-29+5 = 156) to build my base for triathlon season. Tri season starts with the Columbia Triathlon in May (olympic distance). So based on the tri season start date I figure training from now until say the end of Feb should be focused on base building.

But now I'm contemplating running the Gasparilla marathon (my first marathon!) on February 26th. That would give me enough time to use one of Hal Higdon's training plans however Hal recommends doing some runs in the higher HR range closer to lactate threshold (which may not be ideal for my base building). The other concern with doing marathon training is that it will only allow me swimming or biking one day per week, which probably isn't even enough to maintain the levels where I am now.

So the question is twofold:
1. Will March and April be enough time to build back up my cycling and swimming base if I focus on running for the next few months?
2. If I decide to do the marathon should I do all the Hal Higdon training miles in the Maffetone zone? Or should I follow the Higdon plan as he specifies? Which is better - spend all training time training your body to burn fat as fuel and becoming an efficient aerobic engine or giving up some of that low HR training and replacing it with speed sessions?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Race pictures. There are very few things in my life that can cause me to feel as low as I do when I see race pictures of myself. I can't see them and be proud of the fact that I accomplished the event or see them and say, wow, I have lost weight! Or say how great it is to have a picture to commemorate the event. Nope, I see none of those positive and enlightening things. The negativity in me all comes out at once as soon as I see those pictures. All I can see is the progress that still needs to be made. I see the fat on my legs, the fat on my arms, the fat on my stomach. I see that my running form is still not optimal, that I'm not kicking my legs back and using them like pendulums as advised in the "Triathlete's Training Bible". All I can do is compare myself to the other people racing around me who I see as being thin and perfect (of course I should be happy that everyone around me is so fit and perfect looking, that means that once I lose the extra 10 pounds that I'll be kicking their butts)!

My friends give me advice on how to deal with this - don't look at the damn pictures! Just delete them! Well, I wish I could do that. In theory that would work. But for me, each time that email pops into my box with a happy subject line about race pictures, I feel this glimmer of hope that this time the pictures will be good. I will look good, that extra weight that I've been working so hard to shed has finally come off and I will be happy to see that I finally have an "after" picture that I can be proud of. Unfortunately that has yet to happen. But it will. I will lose that weight. I will finally be able to look at race pictures and be proud and happy of the new person that I've managed to transform myself into. I will look at those pictures and see an athlete. Until then I'll keep working on the transformation!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The timed two mile during high school field hockey practice was the biggest athletic challenge during the first 18 years of my life. I remember dreading those practices, the coach would tell us not to even bother bringing out cleats out to practice. I dreaded being at the back of the pack and being passed by freshmen who were on JV. I can still remember the dirt being kicked up in my face as all the fast runners took off. I can feel my heart pulsating out of my chest and realizing that I would have to stop to walk. And the worst was when the results were published for public viewing outside my coach's office. I think my best time was somewhere around 22 or 23 minutes. I don't think I ever broke 20 or came anywhere close!

But times have changed and this past weekend I ran the Baltimore half marathon! I RAN 13.1 miles (well walked for maybe .1 of those)! I finished in a little less than 2 hours (8 seconds less to be exact). 2 hours was my goal so I did pretty much whatever was necessary to get my body over that finish line in 2 hours. My pace was 9:09/mile. I was in the top 17% of my age group, no back of the pack this time! So I decided to look back at my percentiles in some of my past races. My last 5K back in March I finished with an 8:08 mile pace. With all this running training since March, I'm hoping for a 7:30/mile pace in my next 5K, which would put me around 23:15 for the total race. I can't believe that in high school I used to run 2 miles in that time! It's so exciting to see the progress!

Monday, October 10, 2005

My boss asks me the other day what makes me such a good business analyst. Why are project leads fighting for me to work on their projects and trying to bring me over to their group? I admit that I was flattered by the acknowledgement that this had been going on for the past 6 months, ever since someone read one of my documents. Interesting how one document can cause everyone to take notice. I was glad the document had turned out so well because I remember working on it thinking oh my gosh I hope this isn't going to turn out like some of my college papers where I worked really hard on the paper and then didn't get a great grade. Going back to the conversation, I wasn't quite sure how to respond to my boss. Why was I a good analyst? What skills did I possess? Was it my writing skills, was it the fact that I had taken almost enough math classes in college for me to triple major in math? So I responded back explaining that I had done this type of work in my previous job and the skills translated well to my current job. I also explained that I had extensive writing experience, enjoyed problem solving, and got along with all different types of personalities, including extraordinarily lazy developers (well, I didn't go that far).

During a subsequent training run that evening or a few days later, I revisited the conversation in my head and started to brainstorm the real reasons why I'm good to my job. I decided that the skills I've developed while training for triathlons have helped me immensely in my role as a business analyst. Here is why. Each week I design my training plan based on a set number of hours that I have targeted for training. I then decide the number of workouts I will do in each discipline, add in a rest day, and decide when and where I will do each training session. This scheduling also takes into account social and family obligations already scheduled for that week. During heavy volume weeks this leaves little room for last minute changes or shifts and doesn't allow for re-scheduling if a workout is missed. It also tends to involve early morning workouts and evening workouts and mid-day workouts that require clothes, shoes, helmets, and other equipment to be packed and brought with me, strapped and secured to the car, in the car, in lots of pre-designated bags, etc. So when the alarm goes off at 5:00 AM, often preparations have already been made, things have been packed, the coffee maker ready beep is already going off, the swim schedule at the local pool has been checked, no last minute changes can be made. I MUST GET UP. I trudge out of bed and into my swim suit, grab my coffee (I LOVE my brew timer), and head out the door. I finish my swim workout and head to work. Already packed in my workbag is a post workout snack, lunch, and an afternoon snack. Work is rest time for my body but an active time for my brain.

So what does all this carefully crafted planning and scheduling, packing and training have to do with being a business analyst? In both, time is the most important part of the picture. Things MUST be done on time and with efficiency. I am assigned a project at work and I have to figure out how long it will take me and then go and DO IT until it is FINISHED within that alloted timeframe. The deadline cannot be changed once I set it. I have to use my time wisely, work hard during that time and get it out the door. Perfection is not an option. I don't strive for perfection anymore because nothing is perfect. And better yet, it doesn't matter if it isn't perfect because most projects change at a later phase anyway. With triathlon training it's the same basic principal, I have a certain amount of time per week that I have scheduled for training. When the time comes to do a given workout, DO IT. Focus on that workout only and get it done. Expect that it won't be perfect. But enjoy the journey.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Beets are amazing! They are the one food that can turn everything and anything that comes into contact with them a bright purple color. My lunch today is a casserole of beets, pears, onions, wheat bean, cilantro, and red lentils. The beet juice has permeated everything and turned EVERYTHING purple. The combination of flavors is amazing. The beets and pears were a last minute substitution for carrots and celery and they made the dish all the much more interesting. What other veggies are capable of spreading their color in that same way?