Zenman's 2013 Training Journal: 07 October

small zendurance cycling logoMonday, 07 October

“Unexpected Medicine”

In the previous Entry (Scroll down to “Friday, 04 October), I discussed some of my preparation for USAT Long Course Nationals (LCN). I reviewed this process through Sunday, 29 September. On Monday, (13 days before the race), I was physically and mentally amped for a high-quality run session to prepare for LCN. (There is something to be said about obligations that limit training for a few days.) After a generous warm-up, I planned a run of (5X) 16:00 race pace intervals, with 4:00 easy run between each. My intention was to run each interval faster than the previous - using the same course for each so I could compare by timing. The course was a rolling paved course on quiet roads - similar to what I anticipate for the race.

My hilly warm-up on mixed surfaces went well. I changed into the shoes I will wear for the race and headed out for the intervals. I felt great through the first and second intervals: “All systems GO!

Less than 2 minutes from the end of the second interval, I inhaled a wasp. The wasp stung me on the back of my trachea - deep down, near the base of my neck, close to where the trachea branches into the bronchia. I stopped running and forcibly exhaled several times to expel the wasp. Once I saw it exit my mouth, I resumed my run - still finishing the second interval faster than the first.

Unexpected Medicine

I’ve been stung a few times in the mouth (on my tongue and inner lip) while running. I know from experience, if I just keep running (or biking), the high rate of metabolism spreads the venom fast throughout my body. During my 4:00 recovery run, I quickly refilled my small hydration flask and (with some difficulty) swallowed a few gulps of HEED.

Carry On

Since I had no breathing at all, I headed out for Interval 3. I ran it faster than the second. It was a bit painful swallowing, but I was able to continue hydrating in sips. I continued to build speed through Intervals 4 & 5 - inspired by the challenge of transforming the venom - and my body’s response to it - into “medicine” for my performance. As I finished, I felt calm and relaxed. I am certain that this feeling of ease - rather than panic - is what minimized the trauma potential.

It was more of a challenge to calm Betsy when I returned home - especially since my voice was raspy and swallowing was so difficult. I assured her that my respiration was completely unaffected, although a few hives did surface on my body.

I made a smoothie - the only thing I could ingest for recovery from the run. While it was painful to swallow, the cold liquid was soothing. I biked to Island Health and Fitness for two private swim sessions. When I returned home, I picked and steamed some greens from our garden and put them in the blender with some hummus. With some difficulty, I managed to swallow this tasty concoction. Later, I slurped down a yogurt.

For me the biggest challenge with this situation was tolerating the build-up of mucus around the wound site, so deep in my respiratory system. I refrained from obsessively clearing my throat - knowing it would just result in further irritation (not to mention more concern from Betsy). This was the greatest challenge to sleeping, but I did well.


It was difficult to discern the fatigue and stress from my challenging run (and limited ability to promptly re-fuel my body) from the trauma of a sting so deep in my respiratory system. Tuesday morning, I was still expelling a lot of mucus from the wound site, and swallowing was still painful. I ran easy for 40 minutes... And felt better. I refrained from using my voice throughout the day - sitting quietly to write. Midday, I set-up the trainer and rode the TT bike - some Zendurance Cycling Drills and some short, high-intensity jumps. And I felt even better.

In the evening, I swam for 40 minutes - including (13X) 100-yard intervals. When I began teaching the Swim Mastery Session, I explained why my voice was so raspy. Amazingly, by the end of the session, my voice was near normal. By the next morning - less than 48 hours after my dose of “medicine”, my symptoms were all but gone!

Forward Ho

On Wednesday, I did my usual 5:00 AM deep T’ai Chi practice (in the dark) and then yoga/Pilates, before heading to the Greenstar Co-op for my weekly bakery shift. When I returned home, I immediately suited up and headed out for a 2-hour ride on the TT bike, knowing this might be my last outdoor TT ride before LCN. I did 10 minutes of jump rope when I got back. Just before the Wednesday evening edition of Swim Mastery, I did a 20-minute “zen swim” - every lap exactly 14 strokes.

As anticipated, Thursday morning, my legs were heavy. I ran very easy - my usual mixed-surface hilly recovery run - extending the distance by 10 minutes, and finishing with (4X) very intense 30-stride hill repeats. Midday, I swam a “400/100 Volley” with commitment!

For clarification about my swim training methods, see 29 August: Training and Racing, Post “Casual” Iron

At just 50 minutes, this swim set left me really fatigued. I put my heart into this one - just like the run on Monday. After lunch, I had to lay down and nap. In the evening, before the Thursday edition of Swim Mastery, I did another 20-minute “zen swim” - this time every lap at 15 strokes per lap.

After 11 straight days of leading swim clinics/presentations/weekend-workshops and/or private sessions, Friday was my first day off from the “swim focus”. I headed for the Cornell running track, under heavy overcast skies. I did a very patient warm-up and drill sequence - finishing my preparation with (4X) 100 meter sprints. This process took almost 50 minutes - a very patient warm-up. Then, I ran (8X) 400 meter intervals, with 200 meters recovery. With keen body-mind focus, I ran every one within a 3-second range. In the evening, I ran again - very slow.

To finish out the week, on Saturday I arose early for another Pilates/yoga mat session. Midday, I swam an interval set - again with commitment. This time, it was a “long/short volley” of : 800/50/600/100/400/150. My tempo for the longer distances (800/600/400) sped up by .03 each time. The tempo for the sprints (50/100/150) slowed by .02 each time. If I had just a bit more energy, I may have swam a 200 that would have been at a tempo exactly between the fastest distance swim and the slowest sprint. However, fatigue (and consequently an escalating SPL) prompted me to call it good and head for the steam room.


I feel certain the “unexpected medicine” of the sting was an inspirational gift - and a “legal” chemical performance enhancer. I really am grateful for the experience. From trauma to transformation!

I am looking forward to the “competition” of LCN - “A successful petition for the empowerment of companionship”.


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