Monday, September 1, 2014

Overcoming the post-Ironman sloth

Or motiving the post-Ironman sloth?  How to motivate this guy?  He actually looks pretty content being a sloth.

Since we returned from our road trip at the beginning of August, I planned on using the time before school started wisely and productively.  I would get my shit ready for school AND I would try to rebuild some sort of fitness 'base'.  Today being the first of September, I have to report that I accomplished neither goal.  I should be ready for classes on Wednesday, so that is progress, and last Friday, as I struggled through a very slow and hot run, I decided that I was officially sick of sucking so much - at least at running.  I can tolerate my less-than-stellar physical prowess when it comes to biking and swimming, although yesterday was a major wake-up call in the pool (this is what happens when you take 2 months off from swimming: you get slow).

The lack of schedule has been a treat in some ways, and I was determined that I'd enjoy the freedom that it brought me.  I can't complain because I committed myself to a daily nap, more or less, and a few other activities - reading some excellent books, cooking a few new dishes en casa (we made this pad thai which wasn't like restaurant pad thai but was really good), watching movies rather than TV series, and attempting some form of strength training a few times throughout the month.  

I also realized that it had been over a year since I'd explored any trails around Los Angeles, except for those on which I run, so we took advantage of our mid-week freedom and went on two very different hikes.  The first one was on the west side, just north of Santa Monica, up to Parker Mesa.  We realized, at some point, that we had done this hike years ago but had taken a different approach.  This approach, recommended by, was actually much more pleasant because there is a lot of shade at the lower part of the trail which was great for both the ascent and the return.  

Here I am at the top - made it!  It was fun to look out on the coast.

The second hike, Mt. Baden-Powell, represented more of a challenge as the second-highest peak in the Angeles National Forest.  The trailhead is 50 miles east on Angeles Crest Highway, which gave it something of an "adventurous" feel.  While 50 miles isn't technically THAT far, when you're on a windy mountain road, it requires patience.  The bonus was that when we arrived at said trailhead, I couldn't believe that Los Angeles was so close - it felt as though we had truly "gotten away" from the city and even the hamlets in the foothills seemed quite distant.  Baden-Powell is no meandering path - as soon as you step onto the trail, it ascends for about 4 miles and 2800 feet, mainly via switchbacks (someone said that there are 41, but I didn't count).  It was a steady march up for us.  Again, we felt lucky that there was so much shade - the trees offered great cover until the very end, where we finally ascended above treeline and were rewarded with some great views.  
Great views at the top!

Jen, another teacher, accompanied us.  She hiked 110 miles of the John Muir Trail, so she's a badass.

One of the rare shots with Michael and me together!

It was really great to spend some time on the trails at the end of the summer.  With triathlon taking over my life a bit, especially this past year, we've limited our hiking adventures.  These two hikes served as a good reminder that there are so many places to explore or to return to (such as Mt. Baldy!).  

I rounded out the month by finally getting back on my bike this past week.  Not that I pushed myself too much, but it was a good way to be social and active.  Also, I challenged myself to not suck entirely - to try to pass a few people at the Wednesday brick night, and I was successful!

Photo courtesy of California Triathlon - This is the 'before' photo, clearly.  

Eventually, I'd like to return to something that resembles 'training', but I have zero desire to race for the next few months.  A part of me wonders if I should sign up for a race so that I have some sort of a goal to work towards, but I have yet to pull the trigger on that.  I've realized that I am not one of those people who constantly trains - I think I can sustain about 6-7 months of focused training, and then I need a major break for physical and mental reasons.  While "not sucking" serves to motivate me a bit, I would, one of these days, like to get back to the point that running is no longer a painful endeavor and that I'm feeling less sloth-like in the pool and on the bike.  It has been interesting to see how much my strength, speed and endurance have all taken a hit during my two-month-long training hiatus.  No doubt, the more I put off training, the more I'll suffer when I finally recommit.  

So, here's to that training thing.  We started off September on a positive note, getting up early-ish and riding PCH from Malibu north.  It wasn't a long ride by any means, but it felt good to be in the saddle and was the perfect way to end the summer!