End of Year/Holidays/New Year

It’s one of my favorite times of year (besides the months of May-August, oh those long summer days…).  I welcome the holiday cheer for one month out of the year (about as much as I can stand).  I’m a fan of all things holiday decor, and I’m really excited to actually have a home this year to decorate.  You don’t want to see my sad decorating that occurred in the studio apartment.  It was a sad metal tree with one ornament: a picture of Nancy and Ronald Reagan from my museum visit.  My roomie Amy is picking up our REAL TREE this afternoon, and I can’t wait to see it covered in lights.  I’m planning on doing some outdoor lighting as well.  And we’re hosting a holiday party next Friday, so I can indulge all my baking desires without having to eat all of it by myself.  Mostly, though, I love that I have a good week and 1/2 to spend in Texas visiting family & immersed in holiday warmth without a bit of irony–but still with lots of laughs.

I also like a year end because I’m reflective like that & also forward-thinking (a NEW year, a NEW start).  Since I’ve been obsessed with triathlons the past 2 years, I’m really into future racing goals.  I realized I qualified for the USAT Age Group National Championship next August (my 1st place finish at Playa=woo hoo!), so I have something big to train for.   I’m also realizing that I need to know why I’m doing the workouts I’m doing & what is best for my body/performance.  Runner’s World used to be my only guide to any training plan I had.  Now I’ve attended workshops, read more books, found a great trainer, and listened to more professionals talk about why they do what they do.  Last year I spent some money on some one-on-one swim technique lessons that totally changed the way I swim (and feel about swimming).  I learned that there were different types of bike workouts & mixing it up really helped my performance (and my comfort level on the bike).  Working out in the gym has taught me how my muscle strength can improve running, swimming, and biking technique and speed.

So my training/racing goals for 2010–1) following a nutrition plan that’s suited specifically for endurance athletes.  This would be huge for me, because my current diet is pretty much “eh, eat 4-5 times a day, pretty much whatever you want, usually leaning towards healthy but very few veggies.”  And every typical “diet” I read doesn’t account for the 1-2 workouts a day I might do or the 3 hour run/rides on the weekends.  I can’t simply limit calories.  I don’t care about body fat, measurements, etc (well, I do because I know losing 5 pounds would make it a lot easier to bike up those hills!!)–mostly it’s about maintaining a certain level of energy throughout the day.  Eat to fuel.  I went to a great seminar a couple of months ago, so finally went to the guy’s website today and ordered “Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes”–a year round nutrition plan that fits my training schedule.  Definitely the most pretentious sounding nutrition book yet!  I will keep you updated on how this works for me.

Race Goal #2—I’m trying a new training plan for the L.A. Marathon this year.  I know I really haven’t reached my potential with that distance yet.  I like running it slow & having a good time…but can I at least make it under 4 hours?  Finished in like 4:07 for Vegas, so I’m pretty sure it’s a realistic goal.  9 min miles.  Anyway, i want to train for it without injury & without giving up my other sports–so I found a 3 day a week plan.  It’s tough, though, because those 3 runs don’t include my favorite “easy run”–today I’m headed to the gym for a really challenging speed workout.  I just hope I make the first mile split without flying off the treadmill.  But I love a plan, and I love that each workout is building something: endurance, speed, & putting them together.

I’m sure I’ll have more triathlon-ing goals when I start that training after the marathon is over (March 22), and I imagine that the main one will involve: hills+a bike+more milage.  I haven’t been on my bike or in the pool in over a month, and it’s been great to mentally take a break from all those workouts & just get out and run & do fun races.  But I’m soooo eager to jump into it again.

In non-racing news, what a year 2009!  I have to admit that spring was a rough time for me this past year– several things bringing me down at the same time (though not necessarily any different than typical struggles one faces any given year)…& my inability to deal with it in my usual (controlling) ways.  I know those times force me to make changes in my life that will hopefully make me a more grounded, fully-realized, humble person.  Easier said than done!  I don’t know quite how to describe myself in this world–only that I feel every nuance (which is GREAT when I’m running out in the mountains, or laughing with a good friend–not so great when it’s a more stressful time).  Soooo sensitive yet so guarded about that sensitivity (it’s the John Wayne in me).  But there’s nothing I love more than a triumph story, even if it’s a tiny personal one.  So yeah! for painful growing pains–now I’m almost like a real grown up.  Except I’m having a holiday party with a keg & beer pong.

All that to say I’m looking forward to 2010 with a more relaxed & more open attitude.  Have a great holiday!