Notes From The Coast

The beach does funny things to the brain

Age. Wiping it’s feet on my dreams.

Random physical pain associated with the aging is completely lost on young people. With their resilient muscles and limitless cardiovascular abilities, it’s no wonder when you try to tell a youngster (anyone under 30) that you wake up with aches and pains simply from sleeping, it causes the same reaction as if you’ve just sprouted a horn from your forehead.

I have never had to confront my age as frequently or as brutally as I’ve had to since I started training for this stupid race.

The pitfalls of working out at this age (Just guess, okay? My TV had a dial not a remote, we had “the” phone and it was in the kitchen sporting a really long cord, I had several pairs of legwarmers, I loved Laverne & Shirley) is that injuries blindside you. There you are, diligently trying to get in shape, doing the same workouts you’ve done before and suddenly, your ankle hurts. Your hip feels like it has inexplicably come out of its socket. Your knee swells up. And, out of nowhere, tendons start screaming that they’re sore and need to sit in the Jacuzzi.

It’s a bitch getting old.

Which brings me to the point of this post.


Shin splints (both shins)

Akin to someone driving wooden splints into muscle tissue, this is searing, unending pain in my shins begins to scream during the first mile of a run and doesn’t shut up until I’m done.

The Right Achilles Tendon

I believe we still use it as a metaphor for a fatal weakness. “Red Velvet cupcakes are her Achilles’ heel of desserts.” Well, mine is the sort of hell that started from playing tennis. Unendingly sore and often stiff. Like rigor mortis is setting in.

The Left Ankle.

Ugly but important. The ankle’s job is to keep me upright and stable enough to walk. When I’m walking, it holds 1.5 times my body weight. When I’m running, it’s designed to hold eight times my body weight. Eight times!  Its mutiny is justified.

The Right Hip

My friend, Karin is convinced that once you break a hip, you’re a goner. Looking at people who have broken hips, it does seem like it’s the first step toward the dirt nap. I’m pretty sure my hip muscles are separating from the bone every time I run over three miles. Say a prayer.


A tiny piece of cartilage called the meniscus likes to come out and announce it’s torn presence with authority. So, at the end of every run, my meniscus are the size of apricots sticking out of my knee. Welcome to the knee brace. Next, crutches!

So, to sum up, Age is wiping its nasty feet on my dreams. At this rate, if you whisper “CrossFit” in my general direction my hamstring will spasm.

All this working out at the gym has led me to spot a trend. It seems we’re all working out so much harder these days. Women and men are taking cardio kickboxing and barre method classes, torturing themselves on Pilates machines and taking excruciating TRX classes often all in ONE DAY. CrossFit training is the hot workout of the moment so I took a complimentary class. That shit is HARD. It rendered me disabled for 72 hours where my activity consisted of hobbling to the bathroom for more Advil.

I remember when a bike ride on a beach cruiser followed by some half-hearted sit-ups was considered a fair workout. Now, it seems like if you’re not vomiting in your mouth a little during your workout, you’re not “feeling the burn.”

To this I say, pppfffffffft.

I think being in shape feels truly great and we should all strive to get daily exercise. But some people just take it too far. Perhaps they feel that this is the last thing they can totally control in this day and age. And to some extent they’re right. But honestly, all I can think when I look at some dude who is in stupid good, magazine cover shape is, “Don’t you have any hobbies?” Pick up a guitar. Learn Russian. Have a drink (not a Miller 64) and talk to people. There is more to developing yourself than shirt-stretching muscle mass or flat abs.

But then the reality hits me. I have  to be one of those people. At least in the short term. So, injuries withstanding, I shall carry on. Do what you say, say what you do.

It’s a powerful thing that I try to follow.



Hard lessons from the weekend

The hardest part my training schedule is reigning in my weekend fun. Blame it on wine. No, wait. Wine is not the real enemy here. It’s happiness. Happiness is the downfall of my training.


Friends, barbecues, sunsets, outdoor movie nights, hilarious conversations, and football. Wine goes well with all of these activities to say nothing of the natural pairing of a cold beer after an ocean swim. Damn you, moments filled with utter happiness! Damn you.


Along this journey so far, I’m getting in touch with myself again. I feel the burn and the pain of the workouts, I feel the guilt of missing one and the satisfaction of completing one. Another delightful surprise is rediscovering that my body parts can talk to me. And in some cases, scream.


For instance, this is what will happen on tonight’s run.


Stomach: Here’s a little throw up for you. That’s for the wine you drank last night. Payback is a bitch.


Lungs: It burns. It burns in here! Where is all the air? Are we in some sort of decompression chamber?


Legs: We supported your idiotic decision to play tennis as if you had the skills of Sharapova yesterday, but we’re not going one step more than three miles today. If the Brain gets on it’s power trip, prepare for collapse. You’re not 25 years old anymore.


Brain: Keep going! What? No, no, I’m pretty sure we’re still 25 years old! Ignore the legs, those whiners have been giving us shit for years.


Heart: Sure, now you regret those French fries. Also, stop with the Elton John already.  Play something by Public Enemy or Jay-Z….. much better. Okay, let’s do this.


So, me and my body parts are going to finish this run, have a sensible dinner and bask in the afterglow of a weekend of happiness and a horrible but necessary workout.




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Lavaman 101

Some background information on Lavaman….


Support is key when you’re facing a challenge like this one. So, upon hearing the news that I signed up for this race, my Dad offered the ever-encouraging words, “You’re nuts.”


He might be right.


The Lavaman is an Olympic-sized triathlon. It consists of a one-mile swim, a 25-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run. In that order. Each leg of this race is hard in a different way. The swim is in the ocean where we contend with waves, rip tides and reef sharks. The bike route is so notoriously windy that every year some poor cyclist is nearly blasted into the Pacific. And then there’s the run through lava fields which, logically so, makes it feel approximately twenty degrees hotter than the surface of the sun.


After perusing the Lavaman website I got this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. There were pictures at the finish line of all these extremely fit, athletic types with big muscles, lean torsos and huge smiles.


These are not my people.


My people run 5ks for the free beer at the end of it. My people consider boogie boarding a good workout. My people ride beach cruisers to the pub where they order buffalo wings. Needless to say, we’re a happy bunch.


Somehow, I have to bridge this gap between the athletes and the fun bunch.


I consulted my athletic friend Christy, an accomplished runner and triathlete who wins races instead of just finishing them without going into cardiac arrest (my humble goal). She strongly suggested we bike 50 miles one weekend and possibly do a half marathon.


One of the main reasons I chose to do a triathlon is because swimming in the open ocean and biking in high winds sounds MORE FUN than running 13.5 miles in a row.


So, no. I’m not doing that.


Even though it’s good advice. I’ve ignored good advice before and lived to tell about it. The message was clear, however. We need to train hard for long periods of time.


I’m working up to it slowly  – running 3.2 miles three times a week right now, plus a bike or a swim where I can fit it in. This is a smart strategy at my age where snapping an Achilles or dislocating a shoulder is not wholly out of the question. At this rate, come March of next year, I should be able to survive the plane ride to Hawaii.


So, unlike many a training blog that catalogues physical triumphs and strange new diet regimens adopted by triathlete zombies trying to become superhuman for a day, I’m taking a different route.


I’m the new breed of athlete in training. The quasi-dedicated, retardedly optimistic, wine-loving, slow-training, life-enjoying one. You know me. You ARE me.


I’m counting on my will to survive. That should at least get me to the run. Then, I’m betting on my Finnish pride coupled with a deep desire for a cold beer to get me to the finish line.


At least that’s the theory.