Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Day in The Life: Thurs-day, Wet-day

If I told you I was a lawyer or a teacher, you would have a pretty good notion of what my daily schedule looks like.  Appear in court.  Take a deposition.  Teach 5th period English.  Patrol the lunch room.  But when I tell people I am a "professional athlete and coach," there is clearly a [blank] where their mental image of my lifestyle and day should appear.  [Smile.] [Nod.]  Sometimes they might be envisioning Donovan McNabb or LeBron James, neither of whom I am, just, you know, in case you were suffering some type of disillusionment.  Heck, I'm not even Meb and he actually runs. 

On the flip side, people sometimes wonder how "working out all day" can be a "job."  In their minds I wake up late, sit in coffee shops all day wearing lycra, take naps, and tool around on my bike.  Some days I do do that.  Some days we all do that [or the equivalent]!  But those days are usually preceded by a significant amount of hard work.

So here's a day, a little more training than most, but overall pretty average.  I don't pretend this is scintillating, but I do think it's normal - for me and other professional triathletes, at least that I know or am acquainted with - and realistic - for my profession and other professions with which I am familiar.  Life isn't cut and dry, coffee and doughnuts; you start with a to-do list, make a schedule, and hope for the best.  But my pay-day isn't at the end of the week, it's at the finish line and it takes many weeks to get there.

Here goes a Thursday....

5:45 AM - It's dark and raining and I'm awake.  I got to sleep in 15 min today because my swim workout is a little shorter.  Dress, vitamins, make and start consuming breakfast #1 (smoothie), grab the bag I packed last night, and jet. 

6:00 - 6:30 AM - Ride to the pool in the wet dark...but where I'm going is wet and dark so does that make this my pre-swim?  Continue to drink breakfast #1 at any stop lights.

6:30-7:30 AM - Swim: right, left, right, breathe, left, right left, breathe, right, left, right, breathe, repeat.

7:30-7:45 AM - Take off wet swimsuit, Shower #1, put on wet clothes, eat orange and anything left of breakfast #1.

7:45 - 8:15 AM - Ride home.  Still raining but now it's light out.  I swear they sell crazy on the corners when it precipitates in DC.

8:15 - 10:23 AM [had hoped for 9:30 AM] - Now I get my more traditional morning.  Deal with wet bike and clothes.  Breakfast #2: oatmeal, scrambled eggs, coffee...I'm not a big coffee drinker, but I've been wet and cold for long enough this morning already.  Check the news, email, weather - yup, it's raining and will continue to do so for a long time.  The entire Eastern seaboard is a green blob of heavy rains and flooding, tornado warnings, and high winds thanks to the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole.  Longer emails and more involved web stuff gets held for later.  Ultrasound a knee with one hand while eating with the other.  Bike maintenance for the bike going out.  My bathroom is already beginning to look like a laundromat and my sink is already getting pretty full.  Received an email from a friend I forgot was going to be in town so my evening plans of sitting and watching TV will likely change.

I engaged in the age-old bad-weather training debate: is the weather bad enough to train indoors?  The sides are pretty obvious: go out to preserve mental sanity, get a better workout (if it involves hill intervals like today's), and prove I'm not a wimp; or stay in to stay (relatively) more comfortable, not get sick (if it's cold), and avoid potential precipitation-related accidents.  The calculus can change slightly when I have some OnDemand shows I want to watch (I'm an athlete, not a monk!) or if that specific day, I just can't stomach riding indoors for that long...again or I just can't face being cold and/or wet for that long...again.  Changing up the routine, length of the workout, and mental sanity play a major part in these decisions.

I have very few good excuses to stay inside so the decision is made and the appropriate clothes are assembled.

10:23 AM - 1:32 PM - Ride.  Wet, as advertised, but not cold.  I did a weekend group ride route backwards, so it started by heading out of town through RCP.  Big mistake as RCP has another strike against it - it floods at the first raindrop.  There was more creek in the road than there was in the creek.  In fact, some stretches were all creek and no road - so twice I was wading knee-deep with my bike on my shoulder because there are no roads that would get me off and away to another useful route.   The third time of wading I cleared some trees on a corner and everything I could see ahead of me to the next turn, maybe a quarter mile, was low-grade rapids from the trees on one side to the trees on other.  There were waves in the middle of the street!! I turned around to head back and walked off the edge of the road (which was under at least a foot of water) and almost got my shoe sucked off.  So yes, my "ride" included maybe 5 minutes of me, wading through knee-deep water, carrying my bike on my shoulder, "up-stream" [and then "downstream"] along a major thorough-fare in our nation's capitol.   That's what the weather is like in DC right now.

Got a slow-leak and rode it home because I was disinterested in stopping and changing it in the rain. 

1:32 PM - 3:35 PM - Lunch #1, immediately, like I started eating standing in my kitchen wearing all my wet clothes from the ride (my parents know all about this part...), partly because I'm hungry and partly because I have a run to do and I have to wait to two hours after a big meal to run or it ends up on my shoes.  Shower #2 to rinse off road grit and warm-up.  The key is to walk into the shower fully dressed - everything gets rinsed and doesn't smell quite as bad as it dries.  Then more food, all told it was smoothie, rice, avocado, turkey breast, brownie (remember, athlete, not saint!), some apricots and almonds, pretty much whatever I saw and could reach that wasn't dairy or gluten.  Ultrasound.  Deal with wet bike and clothes.  I wish I could say I dealt with some emails and my kitchen, but really I wanted to stare off into space for a while and then I had to get ready for my run.

3:35 - 4:30 PM - A cute little run.  The rain stopped, but now it's hot and I'm still coming home in completely soaking wet clothes.

4:30 - 4:56 PM - Shower #3, again walk in fully dressed.  Though first I had to remove the bike that was in my shower, drying off.  After the run I have hanging in my shower: 1 bike jersey, 1 pair knee warmers, 1 pair capri tights, 2 sports bras, 3 pair bike shorts, 1 running hat, and 1 running shirt.  Remove toe nail.  Lunch #3/Snack #1 - nectarine, yogurt, cottage cheese - while I pack up for the gym.

4:56 - 5:13 PM - Ride to the gym in Dupont.  Still no rain.  I wanted to go to a different location in order to take an abs class, but I just didn't have the, shall we say, interest to climb the hills to get there.  I can do abs on my own.

5:25 - 6:25 PM - Strength training.  Most enjoyable part: it was dry.  I guess my "work" for the day is done, but what I eat for dinner and when/how I sleep is also work so...

6:35 - 7:15 PM - Snack #2: green/yellow split pea stew with quinoa and avocado, apple.  Raining again.  Ride home and run an errand along the way.  Hear from friend about dinner plans.

7:15 -7:43 PM - Dry off, change, stare into space for a few minutes.

7:43 - 9:18 PM - Dinner #1 with an out-of-town friend down the street.  Lamb burger, sweet potato fries, heavenly.  Heavy rain now; the forecast is calling for up to 5 inches on top of what already fell today.  The paths for my long run tomorrow are going to be messed up, to say the least.  I just hope it has stopped raining by then.

9:18 - 9:31 PM - Walk home while having daily chat with The Support Staff.  Still heavy rain so now I have two socks and a pair of jeans joining all the other stuff in my bathroom.  It's like a tropical rain forest in there.

9:57 PM - Stick a fork in me, I'm DONE.  I wish I could say that my sink wasn't still full, that I had responded to more than 1 overdue email, that I had started a load of laundry, that I had taken better care of my legs or properly cleaned my bikes....  If I wanted to get the ten hours of sleep I probably need, I would have been in bed at 7:30.  Oh well.  Up at 5:30 and to the pool...

The End.

[NOTE: I did not choose today because of the weather.  I decided last night (Wed) to do this post and although I knew the weather would be unappealing, I didn't know it would be this bad.  That said, it didn't change anything about my training or routine except the sheer amount of clothes and wetness I went through.  Oh, and the wading.  Usually I ride my rides.]


Leah K. said...

You are amazing!

Got any tips for those of us who aren't quite elite-professional-full-time-level athletes, as far as how to fit everything in? And I know that's now always possible, but how do you prep each day/each week for the training load (including fuel and recovery) ahead?

Kelzie said...

Leah (et al.) - I appreciate your feedback, but in the context of lives and schedules, I don't know if mine is that special - or crowded. People with kids and/or real high-powered jobs and/or multiple jobs - I have no idea how they do it. My point is that my days are normal: busy, hard, and a little bit fun from time-to-time. And I have the latitude to be more selfish than most.

The one aspect I haven't been able to overcome is being disconnected for so long each day. Working in an office, you have internet/email access all day. Now I have to schedule time to respond to emails.

Anyway, some tips:
- in my post about Costco, I talk about making a week's worth of grains/stews on day and storing them in tubs in the frig. Then you always have healthy and calorically-dense food ready anytime.
- I never go anywhere without at least one snack, sometimes two. A single-serving yogurt, a piece of fruit, some grains/stew in a container. Plus an emergency gel and a serving of drink mix. One particularly hectic day when I worked in an office, I counted that I have 1500 calories in my backpack at one time.
- I have a bookcase right next to my front door and the area where I pack my bags and each discipline has a shelf on which goes the commonly used equipment. My entry-way is very cluttered, but I'm about efficiency, not entertaining dinner guests.
- learn to enjoy, or simply tolerate, the trainer. [I watch cable shows OnDemand that I can't stay up late enough to watch during the week...I actually look forward to trainer sessions.] It can save you TONS of time and actually make your bike sessions more efficient. Same thing for the treadmill so you can lift/run back-to-back.
- when I worked on the Hill, I showered in my apartment maybe 2 or 3 times a week. I found a shower at work (after a bike ride between leaving home and getting to work) or used the pool's. Travel-size toiletries rock.
- Belong to a gym near your work, that also has multiple locations, and hopefully one near your house. Bonus if it offers yoga so you don't have to pay extra at a studio.
- Ride your bike to/from work, errands, etc. Helps to make up for any missed bike workouts.
- Ride your bike to work, pack light, and do an extended ride on the way home. I've taken the round-about way home from work - past Great Falls.
- The day/night before I lay out the schedule of what order and what time I want to do my workouts (i.e. swim 6 am, ride 10, run 2 etc...) and how they fit into anything else and The Support Staff. The exact time might slip a little, but it keeps it from getting to be noon and suddenly there is five hours of daylight and six hours of training to do.
- Be honest about how much time a workout takes - prep, getting there, doing the workout, getting home, eating/changing - and schedule for that complete amount of time. Do you know how many times I thought "leave work at 6 pm, two hour workout, and I'll be home at 8" and then get home at 9:30? Especially do this when other people are involved with your post-work-out plans.
- I rarely went to work straight from home or straight home from work. There was almost always a workout on each commute. Because once I was at home, the chances of going out again were...diminishing.

Hope these help!

- Kelzie

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