Monday, April 9, 2012

April 2-8: It's Just Wind Rattling My Windows

Most of my training early this week was sluggish. Part of it was probably the lingering fatigue from the awesome 4 hour brick last Sunday. My legs felt pretty beat up until Friday or Saturday, which is a ridiculous recovery time, even for a 4 hour workout.

The intermittent bouts of fatigue could very well be due to the lingering effects of the physical and emotional exhaustion from the events that followed the Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami last year. Most of you  know this, but for those who don’t, most of my job involves evaluating mathematical models of nuclear reactor accident events and mitigation strategies, and using that information to most effectively implement regulations associated with operating said reactors. Needless to say, the events at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant turned my life upside down last spring, and plenty of sleepless nights and anxiety-filled days have filled the last year.

Of course, what I’ve experienced is nothing compared to what the people of Japan have endured – losing 20,000 of their own in the devastating tsunami, rolling blackouts that continue over a year after the earthquake, and vast portions of the country left uninhabitable following the destruction of the tsunami. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy. The work we do here in the U.S. is changing every day as a result of new regulatory orders and the like. And for several weeks last spring, I was assigned to be the “overnight monitor" for our organization, meaning that I got called in the event of another aftershock or a major development at Fukushima Dai-Ichi. I went through months of jolting awake with every sound, even just wind rattling my bedroom window, positive that it was my phone ringing to alert me, and our organization, about a less-than-ideal turn of events. Difficult and draining, to say the least, as it was, and still is, impossible to push away the devastating images and stories that continue repeating themselves in my head.

For some reason, I’ve recently started violently awakening the same way in the middle of the night, positive that there’s more bad news.** Not ideal for recovering from or resting up for key workouts. There’s no good reason for this to happen now, except that, as the clinical psychologist significant other points out, I may finally have enough chronological and emotional distance from the original events that my brain can start processing everything. I suppose I can only hope that this is temporary…and try to sleep as best possible in the meantime, even if that means grabbing naps here and there to catch up.

Enough about devastating natural events. The under-rested workout redux:

Monday: Easy 40 minute recovery swim to flush out the brick from Sunday.

Tuesday: First thing in the morning, an easy 1 hour spin with fatigued legs followed by 30 minutes of core work and stretching. An impromptu 2500 meters with the DCRP Masters team in the evening.

Wednesday: Evening track workout of 5x1200 building to threshold, with legs that magically filled with lead about 300 meters into each 1200. Some physicist should look into this intriguing phenomenon of spontaneous lead formation.

Thursday: Rest day for the leaden legs.

Friday: A slow, windy run of 10 miles in the morning. Spectating and playing sherpa at the Crystal City 5k in the evening

Unfortunately, Doug did not understand that the point of a sherpa is to carry all your spare gear while you race, and got to wear my pink jacket for warmth before the start.

Saturday: 1.2 miles of tired swimming, just a hair over 30 minutes, followed immediately by 35 minutes of climbing out of Rock Creek on my bike, and immediately coasting back down to start over again. I definitely need to practice hills…so what do you think about the grade on the one from mile 2-2.5? 

It didn’t kill my legs. Bonus.

Sunday: 30 miles on the bike, winding through Beach Drive up to Garrett Park at an average speed of 16.7 mph. Not bad for a few rolling hills and false flats. Finished up the week with an easy, relaxing 1800 yards of swimming.

Worst part of the week: Constantly confusing wind rattling my bedroom window with a middle-of-the night phone call regarding a troubled nuclear reactor.

Best part of the week: I can climb on my bike - for short distances. And long solo rides can go well, too.

**There is no need to lecture me about how counseling/therapy could be useful; our employer was quite aware of the impacts of spending every day watching 20+ hours of news footage of tsunami wreckage for several weeks and made sure we had the assistance we needed. It's still not easy to read about TEPCO employees who found bodies of their coworkers, who had drown in the tsunami, several weeks after the event.


  1. Oh those look like good hills! And I hope Doug did well at the 5k

  2. Yay hills. That one you pointed out looks like the one I climb on my hill repeats, though mine is steep for the first third, levels out for the middle, then gets steep again for the last third. The San Francisco bike map helpfully says it's all the same grade category, but said category spans 5-10%. I don't know if that's normal or not because I don't know anything about hills, really. This comment is kind of going off the rails, isn't it?

    Boo for the lead legs and the stress. At least it is just wind.

  3. While your job sounds like it can be very emotionally draining, it also sounds really interesting (says the girl who minored in math).

  4. Oh yes - I understand some of your stress. When I was a law firm attorney, I worked on a death penalty case -- the crime photos were haunting. And in my current job, I do get middle-of-the-night-emergency-need-you-on-call-now calls. The differences is that I don't have the combination of the two (my work emergencies involve harm to technology and profits, not human life). But I can understand how hard that would be, and how it (or the memory thereof) interferes with recovery. And recovery is the most important part of training.

    After we figure out the lead formation, can we maybe get on transmuting it to gold?

  5. You could have written the second paragraph in Japanese and it wouldn't have negatively impacted by ability to read and understand it.

    Those hills look like good times! I know you said your 70.3 is flat, is the IM hilly?

    My legs were also sore all weak...lots of compression happened.

  6. "most of my job involves evaluating mathematical models of nuclear reactor accident events and mitigation strategies, and using that information to most effectively implement regulations associated with operating said reactors" -- I had to read this a few times cause I'm not a nuclear physicist of awesomeness. You regulate the operation of nuclear reactors?! Seems pretty amazing. And kind of related to law. You're the law maker, really.

    That is a stressful job, and I can feel mental fatigue weighing on me and affecting my physical energy. But nothing helps stress fade away better than a little sweat...

  7. Nice job girl. I an't even imagine having the stress you do at your job. Holy moly. Your workouts all look great to me on this end, but then again-I would tell you that if you only biked a mile because that causes me more pain then anything.