Monday, September 06, 2010

Birthday Challenge 2010

Friday was my 33rd birthday and I am always up for a good crazy challenge. The standard birthday challenge would have me either running or biking the number of years in my age. Hmmm... I don't want to trash myself with a 33 mile run and biking 33 miles isn't much of a challenge. So I came up with the idea of doing 3 races in 3 days. It turned out to be about 3.5 days, but close enough.

Race #1: Zilker Relays on Friday night Sept 3, 2010 in Austin TX
The event is a 4 person relay to do a total of 10 miles. I got together a group of my co-workers to form a team. We weren't planning to be competitive, just going out there to participate as a team and have fun was the plan. I am always competitive so my own goal for my 2.5 mile segment was to go under 17 minutes. My time: 16:58. Yay! That's a 6:45 pace which is just faster than my 5k pace and I had to push hard to get it. The reward: Taco Deli tacos and a birthday cupcake :)

Race #2: Suzy's 10K Run for Cancer Kids, Sunday Sept 5, Madison WI
I went to Madison for the holiday weekend and this was my second race. 10k is not my favorite distance to race because it just hurts so much to go as hard as you can go and stay focused for that amount of time. It's a brutal version of the 5k but it's an excellent workout and I wanted to get a benchmark for my 10k fitness. The race was for an inspiring cause and featured former Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton. The course was pretty, at least half on wooded paved biking trails. I came in as the third female with a time of 46:10 (7:25 pace). I thought I could go under 45 minutes based on my 5k pace but my high-speed endurance just isn't quite there yet. I was toasted after this and spent the rest of the day lying around and sleeping.

Race #3: Safe Harbor 5K Run for Prevention of Child Domestic Violence, Monday Sept 6, Madison WI
This was another good charity organization to be supporting this weekend. They had a 5K and a 10K but I opted for the shorter distance today. No thanks on running another 10K. My legs were feeling the burn this morning when I woke up and I was having some doubts about how I would do. I walked to the race and had to turn off all negative thinking. I was going to run this thing as hard as I could because I wanted to end my birthday challenge with a bang. Well, I did just that. I ran hard, didn't let up, worked the hills, and came in as the first female finisher. This was my fastest 5K of this year, and a whole minute faster than a month ago. It was a satisfying end to a fun birthday challenge and was a great way to kick off a new year of fitness. I am ready to make this my best year yet.

What did I learn from this?
By packing all this high-speed work into a short amount of time, I broke down some of my fear about running fast. The majority of my running in the last week has been at a 7 minute pace or faster. I couldn't sustain this type of training forever without injury, but I could be incorporating more of this pace into my workouts on a regular basis. Even if I start out a workout thinking I won't be able to perform, that may not be the case at all once I get going. My mind is a powerful thing, so I have to make it work for me not against me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

17 hours, 4 states, 5 workouts, 1000 reps

My Road Trip 1000 workout was a huge success (see previous post for the workout). Each time I did a round I felt energized and ready to get back in the car. It broke up the drive and I was able to go for 17 hours which was 2 hours beyond my goal of 15 hours. Always knowing I had another workout ahead kept my mind focused on each section of the drive, not the whole overwhelming thing. Another nice thing about it was that my "rest" time during the day was spent in grassy shaded areas outside, not hanging out eating snacks in gas station parking lots.

Round 1 [8:51]
7:30am, Roadside picnic area outside of Waco, TX
Feeling good. I liked the variety in the workout.

Round 2 [8:30]
10am, Rest area in Colbert, Oklahoma
I shaved off some time with smoother transitions.

Round 3 [8:38]
2pm, McDonalds parking lot in Chouteau, Oklahoma
By this time I was starting to feel sore from the previous rounds. It was also about 100 degrees in mid-afternoon Oklahoma. This was the hardest round for sure.

Round 4 [7:53]
6:30pm, Baseball park in Rolla, Missouri
I was definitely sore. I think I just wanted to get this round done as fast as possible so I hammered it. Then I headed across the street and got a chocolate Frosty at Wendy's.

Round 5 [8:06]
9pm, Rest area in New Douglas, Illinois
It had cooled down a little and the sun had just set. I had a great view of the moon and stars as I did this. I was starting to get to my limit for the burpees and mountain climbers.  1000 reps - done!!

[Total time 42:01]

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Road Trip 1000

I am driving from Austin Texas to Madison Wisconsin this week. It's 21 hours sitting in the car and a lot of time for my muscles to get very stiff. So, I made up this workout that consists of 1000 repeats over the course of 15 hours for my first day of driving. I will do one round of the workout every 3 hours when I am at a rest stop. All I will need is my jump rope and a bench or step.

I'm hoping that not only will this keep me feeling good, it will help keep me awake and having fun as I am driving though Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and into Illinois. I'll report back about how it goes.

The Road Trip 1000
5 rounds over the course of 15 hours (for total time):
20 jumping jacks
20 pushups
20 squats
20 burpees
20 bench dips
20 step ups (or box jumps depending on the height of the step I find)
20 mountain climbers
20 walking lunges
20 situps
20 rope jumps

Friday, July 02, 2010

bringing harmony back

I woke up with a head cold and laryngitis this morning. I am certainly getting a broad range of symptoms during this recovery. I worked a half a day in the office and then slept for 3.5 hours in the afternoon. When I woke up, I felt amazingly better. My cold is not gone but my body is coming back. I am going to be ready for a light workout tomorrow. I am even looking forward to it. I am going to stick with swimming, biking, and light lifting through the end of next week and then try out my running legs after that. I don't want to force things too fast.

The thing I am most happy about right now is that I am switching back to being a vegetarian. I ate meat as an experiment in performance and recovery, but I am no longer willing to sacrifice my personal values for this. There are ways to be successful without eating animals. The last meat I ate was the yak burger on Monday at the natural foods store in Idaho. It feels like a relief to not have to eat meat anymore. It brings a sense of peacefulness to my life knowing that no being suffered or was killed for my plate of food. This has consistently bothered me for the last several months and I don't see that changing. My life is in harmony only when my actions agree with my values.

In the next couple of weeks, it is my intention to bring my life back to balanced harmony in all the ways it has gotten off course during Ironman training.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

post-race week

Monday:  Overall very tired and sore, nothing bothering me in particular. Feeling out of sorts. I wanted to spend time at the race site to be around the athletes and go in the water again. I felt a loss coming on. Mo and I went paragliding on Lake Coeur d'Alene as her reward for putting up with all the Ironman craziness. Very fun!

Tuesday: Travel back to Austin. Came down with 101 fever and aches and nausea. Vomiting on plane, chills, bad ear pain, and headache. Still sore but walking normal. I should have been in bed, not traveling on planes all day. Very hard day.

Wednesday: Slept until noon, half day at work. Still sick but doing a little better. Stomach still sensitive. No appetite. Depressed.

Thursday: Went to work for half day in the morning, got massage. Still a little sick but fever is gone. Not sore. Doing better. Still depressed and out of sorts. Not ready to work out yet. Can eat again but neurotic about gaining weight. Haven't unpacked bag yet. Starting to get ready to think about what I will do next.

Reflections on IM CDA

I didn't set PR's in any of the sports or overall even though I thought I could do so in all of them. The swim logistics were beyond my control and I know that my fitness is much better than a 1:16. Nutrition and bike comfort got me on the bike, plus I think I should have done more hill training. I didn't know that the course was going to have such steep hills like the IM Wisconsin course. My only controllable mistake of the day, I believe, was not forcing myself to get down more liquid and calories during the second half of the bike.

I feel good about how I did on the run, how I was able to pull myself out of a nutritional bonk and wanting to quit, to feeling good and finishing in an acceptable time. If I hadn't worked on my mental training and had my head able to adjust to alternative goals and ways to stay positive, I wouldn't have been able to stay in it as well as I did.

My finish time is a bit disappointing because I can't stand feeling like I am just average or mediocre and my 12:48 finish is just too "mid-pack" for me. On the other hand, I feel that I had a good race because I worked with the conditions of the moment during every part of the day and was able to let negatives go. I executed my race plan well and was able to adapt to problems as they came up.

I am sure there are many people who would find it odd for me to think that my race makes me average. I was 33 of 131 in my age group but this just isn't good enough for me. When I do things, I want to be at the top, not just in the top quarter. When I do something, I go all out. The trouble with Ironman is that in order to go "all out" on it, you need to sacrifice all your time, money, friends, loved ones, and all your other interests in life. It is just not possible to put in all that work and live a balanced life. I have tried to make that work and can't. Perhaps I didn't sacrifice enough this time around.

This was my third Ironman and I have decided that it will be my last. Ok, don't hold me to that forever, but I have no plans to do another one for a long long LONG time.

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - part 3

Bike-Run Transition
It went like this. Stop at mount line, get off bike, hand bike to volunteer. Take off bike shoes and run to get gear bag. [oh boy, notice how legs are super stiff and feel like bricks, go easy, work it out...] Grab a cup of water and chug it down. Run into changing tent and empty gear bag on floor. Strip down naked and put on run clothes. Put on plenty of body glide to avoid chaffing. Run to sunscreen volunteers and get more sunscreen. I got burned on my hands and part of my back during the bike so I let them take a little longer to cover everything this time. Stop at the porta-pottie. I moved through this transition quickly but steadily. I made sure to do everything I needed to do to help me be more comfortable on the run. A few seconds more here would be worth it later. I ran out of transition and onto the run course.

The first section went along the beach where the swim took place and there were so many spectators out there it was very motivational. I felt absolutely terrible starting the run. I could hardly move my legs and was doing something like run 3 minutes/walk 50 steps for the first 2 miles. My glutes and hamstrings were cramping up and were seriously painful. It crossed my mind to quit the race. I didn't know how I was going to make it 26 miles. I deliberated about this for about 10 minutes. I knew I would be mad at myself for quitting after traveling all the way to the race and training for so long. Giving up over something like sore legs felt like it would be disrespecting everyone else wanted so badly to be there and was willing to work through it to finish. I couldn't stop. I had to finish, no matter how long it took me. I wasn't going to qualify for Kona so did it really matter what my finishing time was? I would simply do my best and enjoy participating in an Ironman even if things weren't going perfectly. That was the plan.

I tried to sensibly take in as many calories and liquids as I could and after about 3 miles I began to feel better. That bike bonk was really messing with my mind. After that there was no question in my mind that I would finish. My strategy would be to walk the aid stations while getting all the fuel that I needed. This averaged out to roughly running 1 mile, walk 1 minute. I alternated drinking water and cola, finished my Liquid Shot flask, had a few gels, oranges, potato chips. The cola tasted good and was the best all-purpose fuel.

The run course was two laps with a long section along the lake. It was mostly flat but then had a big hill just before the turnaround point. I walked the hill on both laps, not wanting to use energy on it. There were three aid stations with music and announcers out there to keep things fun. I was wearing a t-shirt from the Lake Mills Triathlon in Wisconsin and got several comments from people from Wisconsin. It felt nice to have a little connection with my old triathlon community.

I started to feel really good on the second lap of the run. I was comfortable running a 9 minute pace and was having fun. It is amazing how things changed for me over the course of 10 miles. I was smiling and enjoying the day. When I got to the top of the big hill and ran down it, I was at mile 21 and had only 5 more miles to go. I can do anything for 5 miles, right? That's when things starting to get hard and I had to begin digging deep and remembering that I want it. Things got progressively darker until mile 24 and at that point I was struggling to run at all - maybe 2 minutes run/1 minute walk. My feet hurt and I was exhausted all over. At mile 25 when I was a little teary-eyed and walking, a volunteer said to me "Margo, when you get to me this is when you start running... ok? ... ok, now. Go!" I started running and people around began cheering for me. I smiled. I only had a couple more blocks until the finish chute. I was almost there.

I rounded that last corner onto Sherman Avenue, and could see it was less than half a mile downhill to to the finish line. The sides of the street were packed with cheering spectators. There were a few other runners around me but I basically had the whole crowd to myself. Thousands of cheering people. It is an unforgettable amazing experience. I broke out in a huge smile and got choked up from the emotion of it all. This moment made it all worth it. I savored that last 2 minutes of the run and felt no pain as my body was floating. I high-fived the hands of dozens of people as I ran. I was there. I did it! "Margo Baxter from Austin Texas, you are an Ironman."

Run time: 4:36
Goal time: 4:00

[goal time: 11:30-12:00, previous PR: 12:36]

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - part 2

Swim-Bike Transition
It went like this. Exit water and run 50m on sand to get to the grass. Run to wetsuit strippers and lay on ground as they pull off my wetsuit from the waist down. Run to get gear bag and run to changing tent. Empty contents of bag on the ground, strip naked out of swimsuit and put on bike clothes. Run out of tent and to sunscreen volunteers who slather me in sunscreen. Run to grab bike, run to bike exit, mount bike, go. 1:22 on the clock.

There were tons of people around cheering so the start was really fun. It felt like some huge bike race or something :) My legs were a little heavy to start and my speed was a little lower than I thought it should be. It was not until 8 miles later that I notice that my front brake was rubbing the wheel even though I checked it before the race. That happened in training and I was so careful about checking it, but it managed to happen during the race :( I may have used a little extra effort in the beginning but I don't think it affected my overall day too much.

The ride was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. The first part of the loop went out and back along the lake, then there is a flat part through small towns, then the hilly section. I drove the hills but hadn't ridden them until the race so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was a little worried because some of them were pretty steep but I know that hills often seem worse in the car than when you are riding them - this was the case here. None of the hills were too bad. I just got in my lowest gear and kept moving the pedals until I got to the top. There were a few tight turns and downhills and I wasn't sure how to ride them since I hadn't practiced. I probably could have been faster if I had been more confident on the course.  The first lap felt good and I was on top of my nutrition with 3 bottles of EFS and 3 Larabars. I got back to town in 3:15 to start the second lap. If I could hold that pace, I would still be on target to hit my 12 hour goal.

The second lap got harder. The beginning section through town was fun with all the spectators, and again I enjoyed the lake scenery. I felt positive until about halfway through the hills. They seemed much steeper the second time around. I got tired of being on the bike. My back started to hurt and it was hard to stay aero because of the back pain. My head started to get negative and I slacked off on my nutrition. I saw all the bikers heading back who were in front of me and I started to get a little hard on myself for being that far back in the pack. I have to work so hard at biking and don't see the improvements I wish I would see. Why didn't I do more hill repeats in training? That was not the time to be having those types of conversations with myself. I made it through the second round of hills and was able to refocus my mind knowing that I just had to make it back to town on a flat section, however the wind had picked up and it was now going to be a headwind. A strong headwind for another 20 miles. My back was killing me more than anything. My stomach was getting a little gurgly from the solid foods and I switched to Liquid Shot for calories. I only got down about 500 calories and 2 EFS bottles during the second half of the bike, which was not nearly enough. I ended the bike in a state of bonk/dehydration. My second lap took 3:28. Given the fact that I didn't know this course, and that my biking is a little weaker this year than other years, I am generally happy with how I did on the bike. It wasn't perfect but it was decent for where I am at right now. My nutrition was much better than at my last Ironman.

Bike time: 6:43
Goal time: 6:20-6:30

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - part 1

Race Morning
My alarm woke me up at 4am after 5 hours of good sleep. My race morning checklist went into action immediately - shower, dress, eat breakfast (oatmeal, 1/2 banana, peanut butter, 1 egg, hot tea). My stomach was a little nervous and it was hard to eat all this. I was feeling full already from eating extra the day before. This morning, however, it wasn't about what I felt like eating, it was about getting the fuel in my body. We left the hotel at 4:40 and were down at the race site with a good parking space by 5am. Next was to get body marked, pump my bike tires (they had special volunteers for this), put my food on my bike, and put chamois butter on my bike shorts. I was done with all of this early and was able to go sit on the beach wall for a while to sit and relax. There was a bit of a chop in the water but not too bad. My stomach was still nervous and I tried to calm myself by remembering that this is just another day of long workouts, something that I do all the time.

At 6:30 I made my last trip to the restroom, put on my wetsuit and caps, ate a Powergel, and walked to the timing mat to cross and enter the swim start area. I wasn't sure where to place myself, but I wanted to be fairly close in with the buoy line. The start was a running beach start and I didn't know how it was going to play out. It wasn't very crowded where I was standing so I thought this would be a good thing once I got in the water.

The cannon went off and we all ran into the water, taking maybe ten steps and then diving in to start swimming. The water temperature was 61 degrees - cold, but not terrible. In practice, I was fine in my wetsuit and neoprene cap. When I dove in I didn't feel particularly cold. However, it was less than 30 seconds and my lungs started to close up and I couldn't get enough air. I didn't think I was going that hard so it must have had something to do with the water temperature and sudden entry of it. There were people everywhere around me kicking and pushing and pulling, trying to get ahead. I couldn't continue my stroke and had to stop to try to catch my breath. People continued to battle their way around me as I struggled to stay above water. I remembered what EN Coach Rich said about if you have to stop during the swim, you should backstroke so that you don't look like a buoy to the other swimmers. I flipped on my back and did backstroke while taking as deep of breaths as I could. At least I was moving this way. I was not even 5 minutes into the Ironman and I was already backstroking.

I kept alternating backstroke and freestyle until I was able to swim freestyle continuously again. It probably took about 5 minutes. Ugh. The whole rest of the way out on the first lap was super congested with people. Someone kicked me hard in the top of the head and my jaw slammed down. It was more about survival than about swimming. When I slowed down, so many people passed me that I was now in the middle of slow swimmers and it was hard to get around them. I couldn't stretch out on my stroke because I was running into people.

I thought things had already gotten ugly but when we all reached the first turn, that's when they really got ugly. It was a major crush with 2500 swimmers converging on too small of a space. The rescue boats were too far in and there was nowhere for anyone to go. We actually all STOPPED in the water and everyone had to stay still treading water for probably 15 seconds until we could move. We started moving and then 100m later at the next turn, this happened again. I was aiming for 16 minutes out to that second turn buoy and my watch said 21 minutes. Ugh. I was getting so mad at all these people for being in the way. I'm sure they were all just as mad at me.

After the first lap, my time was 37 minutes (goal 32 min). Again ugh. I was hoping I could get some clear water and decent drafting on the second lap. I didn't sight well and went too wide as I headed back out. I had clear water there, but I ended up swimming much more than I needed to. When I worked myself back onto the course, it was packed with people again and I never got any space to myself for the rest of the swim. Second lap: 39 minutes (goal 33 min). At least it was over. I needed to let it go and just focus on the rest of the day. It was disappointing and maddening but I knew the extra time it took could easily be made up with a good bike and run. Time to get my head on.

Swim time: 1:16
Goal time: 1:05

Saturday, June 26, 2010

pre-race evening

Today was restful. I slept in (until 7), watched TV in the hotel, had breakfast, and slowly got down to the lake to do a quick swim and run just to warm up my legs. I am feeling so rested that I am stiff. I packed all my bags last night and took them along with my bike to the gear check-in right at 10am when it opened. I wanted to get all this done with as early as possible and get away from all the nervous energy of the athletes. Mo and I went to the natural foods store, bought some lunch (burger and salad) and took it to a different beach for a picnic. Then it was nap time back at the hotel for a good 2 hours. Then we returned to our favorite Thai restaurant here for an early dinner. I had the "drunken noodles", rice noodles with chicken, vegetables, and some delicious sauce. We splurged and shared the mango sticky rice dessert. Then back to the hotel to do some final packing for tomorrow and here I am.

I have been having conversations with myself (and outloud) all day addressing my concerns about the race. I think I have worked through all my nervousness about the bike course, and calmed the doubts that have creeped into my mind. I have done a lot of biking and have done a lot of hills. I can do this. It seems like there has just been so much WAITING and I am getting antsy. When I get started racing I know what to do because I have rehearsed it in practice and in my mind a gazillion times. All the stories that have been going in my head will disappear. The bottom line is that I am really well-prepared for this and it's going to be awesome. I am going to remember to smile the whole day and savor how lucky I am to be doing it. I am going to use the energy of all the spectators and other racers to push me forward. My progress in the last couple years has been huge and I am ready to put it all on the line tomorrow. See you at the finish line.

Race week workouts

BIke 45 minutes easy with 2 x 90 seconds hard [13 miles]
Run 3 miles easy with 2 x 90 seconds hard [24 minutes]

REST Day - Travel to Coeur d'Alene

Swim 20 minutes on race course
Bike 30 minutes on race course

Swim 10 minutes - practice running beach starts and exits
Run 20 minutes - easy with 2 x 30 seconds hard

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

pace planning

Run 4 miles with 5 x (90 seconds hard/3 minutes easy) [33:43]
Swim 1600m with 6 x (100 race pace/100 easy) [32:01]

These were both nice short workouts just get get my body moving and to keep my speed up. As far as cardio workouts go, this was a nice brick - short but with enough intensity that I felt like I did something. Barton Springs was cold as usual today but it's good training... I'm thinking that maybe 68 degrees with no wetsuit will feel similar to 58 degrees with a wetsuit??

Last night I wrote out more lists: specific steps I will follow for each transition, my nutrition plan for race day going all the way from my first breakfast at 2am to my post-race smoothie, what I need to do each day leading up to the race once I arrive on site on Thursday. Nothing that can be controlled will be left to chance. I also looked at past race results, specifically a few athletes I know, to get a more clear idea of how I should pace myself.  Based on those results and my current fitness, here are my time predictions:

Swim 1:05 [two loop course as 4 x 16 minutes]
Bike 6:20 [two loop course with 3:10 per lap, 17.7mph]
Run 4:00 [two loop course as 4 x 60 minutes, 9 min/mile]
T1/T2 0:08
FINISH => 11:33

In my first Ironman, my finish time was a mere one minute off my predicted time. This will be huge success if I can duplicate that this time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

p-p-p-poker face

Strength Session
3 rounds:
10 deadlifts@45lb
10 push press@45lb
10 push ups
10 goblet squats@15lb
10 assisted pull up10 step ups (each leg) - 24" box
20 sit ups
I forgot to time this but I did it for time. I want to make sure I keep my muscles sharp. None of these exercises should make me too sore and even if I am a little sore, I still have 6 days to recover. I find that I race better right after my muscles have rebuilt from some hard stimulus.

Bike 60 minutes with 4 x (8 minutes moderate-hard/2 min recovery)
I did spin class tonight and Danielle played some Lady Gaga in honor of my Ironman. P-p-p-poker face p-p-poker face. I am enjoying this week and celebrating my fitness and all the hard work I have done. I am getting filled back up with energy and anticipate that after a few more days of these lighter workouts I will be busting out of my skin.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Final weekend

Bike 40 miles with 4 x 10 min, 1 x 20 min moderate hard [2:30]
Run 3 miles [24 min as 8:08, 8:00, 7:51]

Since my tri bike is already shipped, I rode my road bike. I love my road bike and I love how much more control I have when I am not in aero position. My legs felt fresher than they have in a long time and my head was a lot more positive too. I actually was not dreading this ride. I got out early as the sun was coming up (as usual) and took Mesa out to 360 for the intervals. There were a ton of bikers out there. I reflected on all the hard work I have done biking this road in the last few months.

Run: When I looked down at my watch after the first mile I couldn't believe the 8:08 because I felt like I was going so slow. I attempted to slow down for the second mile but ended up going faster. My legs felt really good. The last mile I just gave it a comfortably hard effort and ended up with a 7:51. Clearly my legs are coming back with this taper.

My Ironman run pace will be 9:00/mile for a 4 hour marathon and I tried to hit that today to see what it feels like but it's actually much slower than my "slow". This run was a good reminder that on race day, no matter how good I may be feeling when I start the run, I still need to go slow. Maybe even slower than slow. I absolutely must not go faster than 9:00/mile in the beginning or I will likely have a major slowdown in the later miles. My ultimate success in this race is to run an evenly paced marathon.

Swim 1.2 miles [33:20] - half race rehearsal

Restorative Yoga
Swim 2250m - easy steady pace in open water [38:30]

The race rehearsal swim went really well. I wore my wetsuit and neoprene cap and swam in barton springs to simulate the actual race. In Austin, wearing a wetsuit in the summer is like going running in a sweatsuit but you gotta do what you gotta do. The neoprene cap was tight and kind of uncomfortable around my chin but I got used to it. Same for the wetsuit. I prefer swimming without one but... the water in CDA will be around 55 so I will suck up the tightness for the extra warmth.

The pace I swam was hard but sustainable and know I could have swam twice the distance at that same pace. That puts me in for a 1:06 swim which would be a PR by 1 minute. Of course there are other factors to consider like swimming in a draft, swimming not exactly in a straight line, water chop, the affect of cold water on my breathing, wind, etc, that could all make me faster or slower. I feel very confident that I will have a good swim.

Yoga... nothing crazy just an easy class for some extra stretching on my hamstrings and hips. Felt good.

I came home got packed and took a 2 hour nap. Ahh. This is so relaxing. Nothing to freak out about because the work is already done. Things are good.

Oh yeah, and then I did a spontaneous second swim of the day with D. A nice enjoyable evening in the lake.

Friday, June 18, 2010

gonna name it stephanie

This will be my third Ironman and each one of them has been different. I don't have kids but this seems kind of similar to giving birth. At Ironman you get a medal and a hat to take home instead of a baby. Quieter but less rewarding. The parallels are uncanny. I've spent 5 months putting my body through huge physical stress and transformation. I had hormonal and emotional changes as a result of this. I had to eat well, get extra sleep, and was tired a lot (pregnancy). The race itself is some serious physical labor and one of the most painful experiences you can go through (giving birth). I have worked on mental strategies to reduce my discomfort during the labor (Lamaz anyone?). I have plans on what I will do after the race to reduce post-race depression (post-natal). After the race I won't want to do another but after a while I will forget about the pain and then sign up again.  No but seriously, I don't know if I would want more than three kids.

Checking in on my mental work...
I've been thinking hard and long about why I am doing this. I need to know the answer to that question and the answer needs to be good enough so that I don't give up. My one thing is that I want to master execution of a long race. I want to prove to myself that I can have a solid run after a solid bike. Two years ago at IM WI, I didn't have enough calories during the bike and I gave up during the run. I wasn't mentally prepared for setbacks and had no reason to push through. My training season was filled with injuries and overwhelming stress and it came with me on race day.

This season has been completely different and I want to use this opportunity to prove to myself that I am a strong competitor at this distance. I have a solid race plan written up with realistic pacing for each section of the course. I am extremely organized with my gear. I have made lists of all the potential problems I am worried could happen and can now come up with a solution for each one. If I have a clear plan ahead of time, then there is nothing to worry about because it is just a matter of executing a slight detour in the plan. I have more experience troubleshooting physical and mechanical issues on the spot this time. There is nothing and no one that is going to stand between me and success. I am not accepting less than 100% effort from myself. I have put in the work and I have the mental strength to do this thing.

last week of taper

Rest day and massage

Run 9 miles [1:14] 
35 min@8:30 pace, 2 mi@16:16, 1 mi@7:52

Core Routine
3 rounds of:
20 tick-tocks (each side) with stick
10 med ball twists
30 sec plank hold

Swim 2400yd [38 min]
MS: 4 x 600@9:06, 9:06,9:11,9:24 (race pace)
I'm planning to split up the race course into 4 sections in my mind so this was good practice for that. Section 3 of 4 is always the hardest because you are tired but still have a lot left to go. That's the time when I find it most necessary to divert my mind away from external thoughts and stay focused on swimming each stroke with perfect form. Long and strong strokes. Reach and pull through. Kick even and steady.

Run 5 miles [40:13] with 8 x (30sec hard/30 sec walk)
I did this run in the mid-day heat: 95 degrees and humid with full sun. I used the difficult conditions as a way to simulate the later sections of the Ironman marathon. When my mind thinks I should stop, I keep going. In the case of today, my skin was burning hot, my heart rate was elevated, and I just felt bad in general. However, my legs themselves felt fine, and there was no reason they couldn't keep running. I wouldn't feel much better walking in the heat anyway. It's almost always the case that my mind is ready to stop before my body.

I dropped off my bike at the bike shop today to be shipped to Coeur d'Alene with Tri Bike Transport. For $300 they take care of getting it to and from the race. Pricey yes, but worth saving the hassle of paying to rent a case, pack the bike, pay to take it on the plane, and reassemble it at the race site myself. I've got enough gear to carry around without having my bike.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

run and crossfit

Run 5 miles with 4 x (400m hard/400m moderate on 4 min)

Crossfit Helen - Gymrat version (burpees instead of 400m run)
3 rounds for time:
10 burpees
21 KB swings (15#)
12 pullups

I felt stiff and sore in the first two miles of the run but felt amazingly great after that. The morning humidity is an issue... at 7:30am it was already feeling too hot and I was drenched in sweat. I headed over to the gym for a quick strength workout. The goal right now is to sharpen up my upper body and core strength without getting too sore. Feeling strong gives me confidence and I need that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

big day at the gym

Strength Workout
Crossfit warmup
5 rounds: 7 deadlifts@95#, 7 push press@45#
3 rounds: 10 air squats, 25 situps

Swim 2900yd [54 min]
MS: 20x100yd@1:25-1:29 (on 1:45)

Bike 55 minutes with 3 x 6 min hard/2 min recover
[did in spin class]

Run 3 miles easy 
[27:20 on treadmill]

This took a solid 3 hours at the gym and then I was done. I didn't have to deal with heat or traffic and all my quality work got done as needed. It was a load off my mind to make it simple today. I hadn't been to the gym in a few weeks and it really lifted my spirits to be back there working out around other people. It makes me realize how isolated, lonely, and monotonous this training has become. Spin class was upbeat and I actually smiled and had fun. I have missed Danielle's class a lot.  How strange when smiling feels weird. This is really messing with my mind.

So... all the workouts were decent today. I feel kind of tired overall but I am going to come back in time to race.

Other things.... I dropped off my bike at the shop for it's final tune-up and cleaning, and I bought all the nutrition products I will need to top off my stash until race day. Working down the checklist.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

IronKids Triathlon

[Rest day today]

This morning I volunteered at the IronKids triathlon in Round Rock. My job was to ride back and forth on a section of the bike course and make sure everyone was safe. The age groups were 6-8, 9-11, 12-15. It's interesting to watch kids race because you can see in them the same variety of seriousness and focus as in adults. Some kids are out there with expensive tri bikes, race wheels, and aero helmets racing to win. Other kids are out there with cheap bikes from Target with pink streamers on the handlebars just having fun. Some kids were able to push themselves really hard out of a competitive spirit and some of them didn't care much about that.

It was very rewarding to see their faces light up and smile when I would ride next to them and tell them what a great job they are doing. I asked a few girls about the swim and they told me it was good but there was seaweed and it stuck to them (giggle).  When I saw kids slowing down or about to give up, I told them to go chase the kids ahead and that always lit a fire under them.

This race reminded me how triathlon is fun stuff. It's play. For the kids today, the distances were plenty long (2/4/8 miles on the bike) and for us big kids at Ironman the distances are longer but it's still the same fun game. And with that I'm gonna go chase down those girls ahead because I don't want them to beat me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

friday and saturday

Run 11 miles [1:34 with 2 x 20 minutes harder effort => average 8:32 pace]
Swim at Barton Springs [BOMB]

It was so humid I felt like I weighed 200 pounds plodding along the trail this morning. Ugh. My body was just going through the motions on this. I went to Barton Springs after and intended to swim for an hour, however after my first 400m lap things just weren't going well. My shoulders were sore and I had no energy. Fast repeats definitely were not going to happen. I stopped and stretched thoroughly in the cold water, then got out and called it a day.

Bike 50 miles [3:05 with 3 x 25 minutes hard]
Run 5 miles [44 min]

I got out early and hammered 360/Bee Caves road out and back. I've been having a lot of trouble with saddle sores and chaffing so I changed my saddle. The new saddle worked better, well enough that I am making the executive decision that I will race on it. Saddle choice is a big issue because it has a huge impact on bike pace. A painful saddle means I can't stay aero and that directly translates to speed lost. I've never found a saddle that feels perfect, so I am happy with "pretty good". Some discomfort there is expected.

I used water, EFS, and Liquid Shot as my nutrition today - no solids and it worked really well. I am getting better on swallowing the Liquid Shot in big blasts and can now get down about 100 calories in one gulp.  On race day I am going to use solids in the first half and switch to Liquid Shot in the last quarter so my stomach can settle before the run. This was a good data point.

Run. Ugh. Slogging through. I wasn't sore, but just exhausted overall. Mental tricks were needed. I practiced picking a landmark like a tree or mailbox or driveway and running to that, telling myself I could re-evaluate walking when I got there. Most times I could pick another landmark and not walk. I took just a few 60 second walk breaks. I imagined the race and how I am not going to give up no matter how bad I may feel.

I was thinking to myself, why why WHY is this so hard today? 1) no-brainer - heat and humidity... 2) oh yeah, I did most of an Ironman on Monday and am probably still recovering from that.  Relax, this is allowing me to practice working through things with my mind.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

thick brick

Bike 2 hours [35 miles, 3 x 25 min hard/5 min rec]
Run 5 miles [41:09 as negative split - 20:38, 20:32]

I woke up before my alarm at 5am and was on my bike at 5:45 when it was still dark. I was determined to get the workout done and do a good job. I rode a fairly hilly course out to 360 and back and did my best to ride all hills on my big ring and focus on leg power. My legs felt oddly fresh yet quick to burn on hard efforts. I have not recovered from Monday's saddle sores so this ride was challenging to stay aero. Time is getting short and I am finding myself visualizing the race, rehearsing my mental strategies, and tuning in to my paces all the time.

My run was very solid and I was able to run a negative split even with a huge headwind and uphill on the way back. The goal was tempo effort in the last half and I delivered. The air was SUPER humid and soupy, but it was cloudy so the temperature wasn't too bad. I'm kind of a nut about Lady Gaga and when Alejandro came on my player, I put it on repeat for the last 30 minutes of the run.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

psych! not there yet

Tapering sucks. That's what they say.

Finishing that monster workout on Monday led me to some big celebrations in my mind - the hardest part of the training is done, you are almost there, it is all downhill from here, etc. However, as I come back to reality I must face the fact that I do still have 3 weeks of work ahead of me and this is not the time to slack off. When you get to mile 23 in a marathon it's easy to start thinking "woohoo! I am almost there!!"... well those last 3 miles are the hardest and 3 miles is not nothing. Mile 23 is too early to start celebrating, as is the first day of an Ironman taper. Yesterday I celebrated, and today I was hit with the reality of the fact that I still have some hard workouts left and need to stay consistent.

The beginning of the taper freed up my mind just enough to see a sliver of the light of day and make some realizations about my state of being. Right now I am exhausted from all this work. I am stripped down physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have no energy to do the simplest basic things in life other than the absolute essentials to maintain the training. For example, essentials are wash workout clothes, buy groceries to fuel self, get gas in car so I can drive to workouts, go to work. Non essentials are things like mow lawn, vacuum floor, clean bathroom, replace burned out lightbulbs, balance checkbook, keep in touch with friends.  Small things become extra annoying and hard. This is the real-life equivalent of mile 18 of the Ironman run. It's hard and I want to stop but I can't give up now. I won't.

When I woke up today it was pouring rain so I couldn't do my ride. I decided I would go to work early and then do both my ride and swim after work. Well, after work I needed a nap and after my nap I couldn't get myself motivated to go do the workouts so they didn't happen. I beat up myself for a while about this and then changed perspective to get mindful about it all. One extra rest day is not a big deal as long as I get back on it tomorrow. Key point: I am not starting my celebration until I cross the finish line. If this were easy I wouldn't be doing it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

final race rehearsal workout

Bike 100 miles [6:15]
Run 7 miles [1:07]
Temp 93, Humidity 50% = Heat Index 100 degrees

I took the day off work today so I could do this grand finale mega-brick. The idea was to do a dress rehearsal for the race: use a similar course, plan nutrition accordingly, wear the same clothes/gear, etc. The only uncontrollable factor was the weather and I got a tough day. The heat made this truly an Ironman-like effort and the good news about that is that it is very unlikely that the actual race conditions will be that hard.

I left my house at 5:45am and got started on the bike right at 6:15am when the sun came up. My course was 3 laps of the Mansfield Dam loop, which has lots of long gradual climbs. My first lap went well with all my nutrition going down right on schedule. The sun started to get real hot around 9am when I was about 50 miles in. That's also the time when I started to feel pressure in my saddle and my neck started to feel the first signs of fatigue. Ugh, this was going to be a long second half. Around mile 70 I was getting chills and some dizziness. My body was on fire and my mind was foggy. My fluid and calories were not lacking.

For the sake of my safety on the road, I stopped at the end of my second lap at mile 80 and called it a day on the road. I was on the borderline of heatstroke or something similar. I drove to the gym and finished off the ride with 75 minutes on a spin bike (rolling hills) to approximate the last 20 miles. After that, my body had cooled back down to an acceptable level of hot and I felt normal... as normal as one can feel after over 6 hours on a bike. I was ready to head back outside into the oven for my run. I changed into my run clothes, slathered on the sunscreen, ate a package of Clif Shot Bloks and drank half a bottle of water with EFS.

I chose to do the 7 mile loop on the Town Lake trail because it has a hill in the middle, which is much like the Ironman course that I will be racing on. It only took my legs a few minutes to get warmed up and feel decent. I was so happy to be off the bike that I was actually looking forward to the run. A few minutes in I got stomach cramps and gas and had to walk to work through the shooting pains. I think Clif Bloks + EFS + heat + my stomach don't go well together. Luckily it only took a few minutes to go away and I was able to jog again.

As long as I was able to get some water to drink and put on my skin every 1/2 to 1 mile I was ok, but there was a stretch between mile 2 and 4 with no shade and only one water stop. This section was tough and I had to walk a lot of it as I was starting to burn up again. For the last 3 miles, I got serious and put my game face on... how would I deal with this in a real race? My strategy became run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat. My legs were still feeling ok, but the heat was taking all the energy out of me. The 5 minute run sections were so hard. I sucked it up and ran most of the last mile, visualizing the finish line and lots of spectators around me. OMG, I'm done!!

Key Lessons Learned
- I will need to focus hard during the last 30 miles of the bike
- It is important to start the run slow
- I should plan to use a walk/run strategy
- I need to keep working on my mental training and come up with some key words I will use to keep myself going when I want to stop

Workout Nutrition Today:
6 Larabars
5 scoops EFS electrolyte
12 bottles water (about 200 oz)
1 package Clif Shot Bloks
1 Clif Shot Gel w/ caffeine
[2100 calories total]

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Danksin Triathlon Race Report

Danskin Sprint Triathlon Austin
[6th overall, 1:17:21]
Swim 1/2 mile: 13:48 (1:34/100yd)
Bike 12 miles: 37:25 (19.2 mph)
Run 3.1 miles: 23:48 (7:40/mile)
Full results

This was my second time doing this race. I raced in the elite wave this morning and there were only 3 of us so our start seemed very personalized. It was nice to start first, right at 7am, and to be able to avoid some of the heat later in the morning. I felt fresh during my warmup and was excited but calm at the start.

My swim was very strong today, 4 minutes faster than in 2008. All the open water practice I have been doing lately has helped me learn to focus on my form outside the boundaries of pool lanes.  My sighting was perfect and I swam right on course the whole way.

The bike course was hilly - it seemed like there was way more uphill than downhill. For the most part, the hills were long and not too steep, long grinds, unfortunately the easiest way to make my average speed take a hit. There were also a bunch of turns and gravel. I am not aggressive enough with my handling in these situations because I have some fear of crashing after my two crashes of 2008. Also, I am not completely sure but my front brake may have been rubbing the wheel for part of the ride. I had to keep trying to adjust it. On the positive side, my head was in the right place and I pushed myself to labored breathing for the entire ride and worked to maximize my gearing choices, often shifting up to maximize my power. My bike was 2 minutes slower than in 2008.

The run course is all on grass through Lake Decker park and there were some big hills. The hurt was on but I knew that at least it was short. Spectators told me I was 5th off the bike and 4th was about a minute ahead of me. By mile 2, #4 was walking and I passed her easily. It was so early in the morning that no one was out on the run course yet. I remember from 2008 that there are lots of supportive spectators and funny homemade signs on the course for the age group athletes... they weren't out there yet. Spectators or no spectators, I kept pushing and was the 4th finisher. My run was 2 minutes faster than 2008. I ended up placing 6th overall because two age group athletes were faster than me within their waves.

What did I learn today?
- My head is in the right place
- I have good mental focus when I need to
- My swim and run are faster than ever before
- I MUST triple check my bike for mechanical issues before races
- I was reminded that sometimes it's better to go for the bigger gear

Later that day.... 

Swim 2.4 miles
4 x 0.6 miles@17:11, 17:09, 17:12, 17:18 (60 seconds rest between)
[1:08 not including 3 min rest]

It's time for my final race rehearsal workouts before I start my taper this week. This was the swim, and tomorrow will be the bike and run.  I could feel this morning's race in my arms as I did this swim but it wasn't too bad and I had no trouble with endurance for this distance. I did have some trouble getting out the door to get to this swim and my mind was trying to talk me out of it in all sorts of ways. No dice there. I got it done. Together with my swim this morning, the pace I swam these repeats makes me confident that I am capable of swimming my 1:05 goal at IM.

Ok, now fueling up and resting for 107 miles starting at 0600 tomorrow morning...

Saturday, June 05, 2010

technical swim

Swim 2400m open water at Barton Springs
[49 min]
This swim had a few elements that made it a dress rehearsal for both the Danskin Sprint Triathlon (tomorrow) and IM CDA. Danskin is not a wetsuit swim and I needed to test out my tri race outfit to make sure it would not slow me down to swim in it. I'm happy to report that it was perfect and had no negative effect on my speed.  If anything, I was faster than usual today. My form was right on.

I started the swim with a jumping in start (no water temp acclimation).
- 400m sprint- 800m steady
- Get out and do 10 burpees
- 800m moderate/steady
- Get out and do 10 burpees
- 400m hard

This allowed me to simulate:
1) the frigid cold water in Idaho and abrupt beach start
2) the initial open water sprint in any triathlon
3) dropping back to a strong and steady pace after the initial craziness of the start
4) the short beach run in the middle of the Ironman swim (the hardest part of the burpees was the mild disorientation and dizziness when going from water to land)
5) getting back into the water after the beach run and going at a hard effort to get back into my stroke rhythm

Next up: Went to the running store to get a new pair of shoes - dropped some big dough on a new pair of  Asics Gel Nimbus. Then, Danskin Triathlon Expo and bike check-in. Huge long line for race numbers and then traffic jam to get out to the race site. Arg. That all took 3 times as long as I will spend actually racing. Whatever. I am racing in the elite wave as number 2 and there is no number 1... that's a first for me.  Now I definitely have to bring it.

Friday, June 04, 2010

right place at the right time

Run 18 miles
10mi@1:26 (8:35/mile), 5mi@38:18 (7:36/mile), 3mi@26:30 (8:50/mile)
[2:31 total]
The goal was to run the middle section slightly faster. Mission accomplished. This was a decent run but it got tough at the end. I went into this run feeling sore from Crossfit. I have gotten to the point where sore muscles are just something to work through during a cardio workout, not a reason to change or not do it. The main effect of this seemed to be that I got crampy and more sore than usual when the fatigue started to set in in the last 3 miles. Of course, this may have also been due to slight dehydration and being low on calories... I didn't feel very thirsty because it was cloudy and I wasn't sweating too much but I know I could have drank more. I had 2 1/2 gels and this may not have been enough. Of all things, my feet hurt the worst. That reminded me that it really is time to make the trek to Rogue to get a new pair of running shoes. Ok, as I write this I am realizing that perhaps there were a lot of controlables that I could have done better on. That said, it was still a decent run.

I watched some Gilbert's Gazelles running form videos for inspiration yesterday ... I used this long run to practice what I saw by paying close attention to quick foot turnover and picking up my knees a bit more than normal. It is always interesting to me that as much as I know about running, there is always a ton more to learn. Learning new technique makes it fresh and new all over again.

I am lucky to be in this place...
I am at the end of a hard 5 month training block and I am at the peak of my fitness. I am not sick or injured. I have not gained weight. I learned how to do my race nutrition. I made myself stick with my training schedule workouts every day even if I didn't feel like doing that particular workout. I have done long repeats, short repeats, lots of repeats of all intensities. I have eaten well and taken care of myself so I would recover. I am confident in my training and I am mentally strong. Things are going smoothly. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to do Ironman Coeur d'Alene coming from this positive place.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

you gotta dream and you gotta start

Swim 3500m, open water at Quarry Lake
3x750m, 8x100m@1:32-1:36, 8x50m@45-46sec
Last night I discovered that the buoys set up by the pier in Quarry Lake are exactly 25m apart, and there are 4 of them. This means that you can do laps of 50m and 100m straight with no turns! I can't believe it took me this long to realize this, because it is an absolutely perfect setup for long course training. My target Ironman 100m pace is 1:40 and I was well under that on my repeats this morning. Swimming with no turns is definitely harder than in the pool, but now I have the perfect place to practice. Score!

This song has been on my headphones a lot lately. You can dream and hope for anything but you aren't going to get it unless you get over your fear and start. And you will never accomplish amazing things if you don't dream.  What if "Marshall Mathers never picked up a pen?"...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

swimming with heart

Strength Session
30 deadlifts@95 lbs
30 push press@45lbs
40 box step ups@24"
40 situps
20 squats
20 pullups
3 x 30 sec plank (15 sec rec)

Swim 2800m
[51 min, open water at Quarry lake]
3 x 750m @ 13:02, 12:40, 12:33 (30 sec rest treading water)

As I go into the last month of training (Ironman is 27 days away!), it is time to get down to the mental preparations. My head is what will make the difference between a decent performance and a great one.

I just finished reading this inspiring book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. A young shepherd travels across the desert from Spain to the Pyramids in Egypt in search of treasure. The story is his journey of following his heart with courage to realize his dreams. The story is timeless and spiritual and it resonates with my journey to Ironman. It has reminded me that each workout I do is a step along the journey and that I need to stay in each moment and to listen to my heart. Overcoming adversity creates satisfaction and creates the self-learning that accompanies the journey. The alchemist reminded the boy that "the darkest hour of night comes just before dawn" and one needs to push through without giving up. This is exactly how I should be thinking about the Ironman run - it is the last and hardest part of a 5 month journey. Success is dependent on staying with my heart and focusing on my dreams until I cross that finish line.

I incorporated some of this into my swim workout today. I swam my first 750m repeat at a comfortable pace not particularly focused on anything. The pace came out to be nothing special. I swam the second 750m thinking about having good form and pushing myself. This one came out to tie my Ironman swim PR pace (1:07). For the third one I focused on good form AND I thought about following my heart to achieve my goals and to be my best self. This one hit my goal Ironman swim pace (1:05). What I learned here is that only when my body, heart, and mind come together in perfect harmony, can I push myself to greater heights. If I want to swim a 1:05, I need to be focusing in this way.

Monday, May 31, 2010

memorial day cook out

Bike 85 miles, Run 1.8 miles
[Bike 5:27, Run 14:55]
2 x Mansfield Dam/Spicewood loop, 1 x Cuernavaca loop = lots of hills all day
Start temp: 70 degrees at 6am, End temp: 93 degrees at noon
Nutrition:  6 bottles of water (120 oz), 6 scoops EFS electrolyte (600 cal), 1000 calories of Larabar, fig bars, raisins, almonds.

Honestly I was not looking forward to this ride. I would have rather slept in and eaten pancakes on this day off. It took me some serious mental prep to get my mind around it. I went in strong and positive. Just get the work done. I only have one more long ride after this. Then I don't have to ride long in the heat ever again if I don't want to.

It was very pleasant when I started, cool with the sun just coming up. By 9 it was starting to heat up, and by 10 it was an oven out there. Having a breeze from riding kept it bearable, but there were a few large hills that I couldn't get any wind because I was going so slow. These were pretty much miserable and there was nothing to do but keep pedaling and know I would get a breeze soon. My nutrition worked fine other than my water being lukewarm at the end and not very appealing to drink. I'd say that successful nutrition in 90 degrees alone made the day a success. In the past, I would have gotten it wrong and ended up a cooked dehydrated mess on the pavement. Today I was merely hot at the end, probably unavoidable.

It seemed very hard at the beginning when I wasn't warmed up, harder than it should. I knew my legs were sore from the Crossfit, but were they THAT sore? My average speed was only about 14.5mph and I was working hard. It took me until mile 20 to realize that I had been riding with my front brake rubbing the tire. The minute I adjusted it, things got a lot easier. A whole lot easier, and my speed went up. I did some of the hardest hills with that on. Sweet :( Ok, so that was a learning experience. I definitely need to have a bike mechanical checklist for race day.

Brick run - I forced myself to do it. It would have been so easy to be done after the ride. The training plan said to do 30 minutes, but in the heat, my only goal was to run long enough to get the biking stiffness out and 15 minutes was enough.  After riding the triathlon bike today, my lower back was sore during the run and my hip flexors weren't too happy either. Good data point. Is there anything I can do at this point to make the run a little more comfortable? Perhaps some extra core work so I stay strong?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

weekend recap

Run 6 miles with 3x1 mile repeats
[mile splits: 7:06, 7:09, 7:10, total time: 48 min]
Decent mile splits. I had to work for these.

Crossfit SCARS workout
30 kettlebell swing, 25#
400m run
20 box step up, 24"
200m run
20 front squats (i did air squats)
100m run
10 wall ball, 10#
100m run
 20 clean and jerk, 45#
200m run
10 pullups, 10 burpees
400m run
[time: 22:03]
I joined the Saturday morning Crossfit TRIBE group with Bonita, Jon, and my brother Brad down at Austin High School. It's been weeks since I have done a real Crossfit workout. This was a long one and it reminded me how good these are for Ironman mental training. The weighted movements combined with cardio get me into my zone 5 discomfort zone very quickly, while reminding me that I can go there and it's ok. Each movement goes by and you are onto the next one, much like the Ironman day. You focus on what you are doing in the moment, do your best at it, and then move on to the next the exercise (or the next section of the course).

It was Brad's first Crossfit workout and it was tough in the heat but he was a great sport and made it through. I think there is a chance he might get hooked on Crossfit....

Bike 37 miles
Steady riding on road bike, rolling hills, done in mid-day heat
90 degrees with 60% humidity
In these brutal conditions I found that I need 20oz of water with one scoop EFS electrolytes every 45 minutes. I felt decent while keeping a steady stream of that going down, but only had two bottles with me so the last part of the ride got really unpleasant. Riding in this type of heat scares me because I get so hot and it is really imperative to have enough water. This was more of a heat acclimation ride than anything else. I pushed myself to stay steady and keep a good average speed, but I rode fairly close to home, doing laps on a partially shaded road. I am pleasantly sore from Crossfit yesterday and it felt good to loosen up my hips by biking.

Crossfit 1/3 Jeremy
21-15-9 (one round, full jeremy is three rounds)
Overhead squats (i used pvc pipe, aiming for good form on a full squat)

Friday, May 28, 2010

long swim

Swim 4000m (2.5 miles)
[10x400m on 8 minutes, 1:19]

7am in the frigid waters of Barton Springs with no wetsuit.
Back and forth, back and forth, 10 times until my arms felt like rubber.
Yummy warm bowl of oatmeal with almonds, walnuts, and protein powder.
Yay, just one workout today.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

another awesome long run

Run 15 miles
10 miles@1:24 (8:24 pace)
5 miles@37 min (7:24 pace)
[2:02 => 8:08/mile average pace]

I love my long run week after week. Sunrise on the trail, me, my music, my breathing, my legs, and my attitude. There is probably a relationship between my consistently good performances and my positive attitude :) I ran solid and steady for the first 10 miles today and then cranked out some speed in the last 5. I feel great about my fast finish today. When I feel strong and visualize myself as a strong runner, I run strong*.

*notes to self to take into the Ironman marathon

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

nothing special

Run 5.5 miles with 6x (30 sec hard uphill/ 1 minute easy down)
[4.25 miles: 35 minutes, then hill repeats, then easy jog home, 50 minutes total]

Swim Strength warm up: 
25 pullups
25 pushups
25 sit ups

Swim 2500yd
2x600@IM pace (9:04, 9:06)
2x300@IM pace (4:30,4:36)
[44 minutes]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Solid brick

Bike 75 minutes, 21 miles
8 minutes - 2.64 mi = 19.8mph
12 minutes - 4.0 mi = 20.0mph
15 minutes - 4.95 mi = 19.8mph

Brick Run 2 miles, 14:55
Mile 1 - 7:55
Mile 2 - 7:00

I was very steady on my bike pace. My quads are tired but I had a little fire in my belly this morning that got me through it. I went directly from the the bike to the run with one mile to warm up and one mile hard on the way home. I didn't look at my watch at all during that last mile and was shocked to see my pace. I have struggled to hit a 7 minute mile in my run workout intervals lately. I guess I still have some speed in there even when I feel completely dead. This was a confidence builder because it makes me think there is hope for a good performance after I am tapered and rested.

Monday, May 24, 2010

dreaming of post-ironman days...

Swim 3400yd, 1:02
10x100 as 50 hard/50 easy on 1:45
6x200 (descend)@ 3:10, 3:06, 3:04, 3:03, 3:00, 2:55
A perfect descending set! Exhibit A that I am good at judging my pace based on perceived exertion. The goal was to get a little faster for each repetition and I did just that, all in a very controlled manner.
Good job Baxter.

I have two more weeks of this insanity before I start tapering. I have two mega-long rides left and one 20 mile run left. I also have the Danskin sprint triathlon, which I am looking forward to just because it's fun. My body is struggling and I need to focus on getting more sleep... 8 hours per night on the weeknights and more plus naps on the weekends. I am irritable a lot lately which I know is a sign of overtraining. Normally I would rest, but in this case I am simply going to hang on to get through the last two weeks the best I can. This week is a slight recovery week with *just* 15 hours of training.

Post-Ironman Things I Am Looking Forward To
Eating less
Crossfit WODs
Real running (no dead bike legs)
No saddle sores
Sleeping past 5:30am on weekends
Going out past 9pm on weekend nights
One workout per day
No stress about how to fit work around workouts
Social life
Time to cook new recipes
Time to play my instruments
Time to look for and buy a house

blow up

Sunday Planned Workout:
Swim 2.5 miles
Bike 3 hours with intervals
Run 30 minutes

Sunday Actual Workout:
Swim 2.6 miles, open water, 1:21
Bike 19 miles, 1:24

Things did not go as planned today. I started off fine with my race distance swim at Barton Springs. Back and forth, 10 laps with some zig-zagging=2.6 miles. I swam with no wetsuit, sucked up the coldness, and it felt good until the end. Then I put on my bike clothes, drove up to Parmer Lane, and started out on the bike. Even though I got an early start, the wind had already picked up on Parmer and it was about 15-20 mph. As soon as I got on my bike I knew my body was not happy. It was painful to sit on the saddle and my legs had nothing left. Ok, I guess I went harder yesterday than I realized and it was catching up with me.

Even with the tailwind, I could only go about 19mph on my tri bike and every other biker on the road was passing me, everyone. I couldn't face the intervals I had planned and I knew I would have a nasty tailwind coming back. I decided to cut things short and I turned around when I was 35 minutes in. For a good bit of the way back, I was going 10mph at max effort into the wind. I was on the verge of tears and wanted the ride to be over asap. It took me 50 minutes to get back. When I have normal energy levels, that section takes me about 60 minutes total, not 1:24.

I got in the car, went home, and proceeded to take a 4 hour nap. Then I laid around watching movies for the rest of the day. Then I slept for another 9 hours.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Real Ale Ride

Bike 75 miles 
[4:43, road bike]

I did the Real Ale Ride in Blanco Texas this morning. I am loving the organized rides as a way to get through all these long miles. The ride officially started at 7:30 but I got there early and did 10 miles before the start in effort to get in the time but avoid the mid-day heat.

The ride was HILLY and WINDY. There were a lot of large roller coaster style hills where you could use the momentum from the down to get part of the way up the up. Then you hammer the rest of the way up, or grind it out. Wisconsin is a lot like this so it's the type of course I am relatively good at because I know how to maximize my momentum and gearing. I totally rocked this ride with a 16mph average and stayed with a very steady strong effort throughout.

Oh yeah, and it was a really pretty course too... I did look up a few times :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

taco motivation

Bike 60 minutes with 15 x (30 sec max effort++/30 sec easy)
Great Northern/Shoal Creek on triathlon bike

Swim 4200yd
6x400@5:59,6:02,6:02, 6:03, 6:06, 6:06 (30 seconds rest between)
10x100 (50 hard/50 easy with 15 seconds rest)
[1:13 total time]
Deep Eddy Pool 

Today was bike to work day. My morning ride conveniently went by one of the breakfast stations and I picked up a free Kerbey Lane egg and potato taco on the last lap of my intervals. If there are a lot of people like me who are highly motivated by free breakfast tacos, I'm thinking that it would be worth developing a program for tacos for bike commuters every morning. The Austin transportation department is working on strategies to reduce traffic congestion but have they thought of this? I'd definitely bike more often if I could get free food on the way to work.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

joyful running

Long Run - 20 miles
4 x 5 miles@43 min, 44 min, 39 min, 40 min
[2:50 total time => 8:30/mile pace]

This was a great run and a very solid performance. Why was it great? The joy of running. I filled my iPod with new songs, sang along (out loud on the trail), noticed nature, and made a point to smile. Yesterday I was in a complete funk about how grueling and hard this training is, but Teresa and Mo helped me turn it around and be positive. My mind gets in an Ironman performance rut and I forget to step back and realize how amazing it is that I am doing what I am doing. It turns out that my body is capable of awesome things.

The result: today I enjoyed every minute of my run and felt lucky to be able to spend 3 hours on the trail. At mile 14 I felt slightly sad that the run was going to be over soon. I smiled in mile 17 as the soreness was starting to set in. I sang Guns n' Roses to the people on the trail at mile 19 as I pushed myself to the very edge of a conversational effort. This was FUN, and that's what it's all about :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

fresh yet tired

Run 7.3 miles
[2x1.5 miles@11:07,11:06 - 1:02 total time]
Early morning run around Town Lake. I had the odd sensation of feeling fresh, yet tired. Rested and not sore after my rest day yesterday, but tired like a deep sluggishness that didn't go away once I got warmed up. My interval pace was about 7:20/mile and even though that's pretty slow, it's all I could do today. I had a good attitude about pushing as hard as I could no matter what my pace turned out to be.

Swim 3650yd 
MS: 5x200, 6x150, 6x100
Again it was that fresh, yet tired feeling. My muscles weren't sore and my upper body felt almost too rested. However, I couldn't lock down a good form and I had no strength. When I know early in the workout that I've got nothing left, do I stop or do I continue just to get through the miles? That usually goes on a case-by-case basis. With this swim, I decided to just get in the distance however I could. I added some pulling with paddles to mix things up. I didn't push the effort because it felt pointless to do that. Sometimes I think I have better swims when I am a little sore because it is easier to feel the muscles working.

Strength Session
For time:
50 pushups
50 situps
50 squats
50 lunges
50 pullups
50 kettlebell clean and jerk
I missed a week of strength training last week and have been easing off on it in general. It has come to the point where I am losing some of the strength I built from all the hard work I did on Crossfit earlier in this 20 weeks of training. This workout was harder than it used to be. I feel weak. It's really important that I stay consistent with this stuff so I continue to have a strong core foundation and prevent injury.

Food issues.... I am fighting weight gain in a serious way right now. Lots of cardio = lots of low-grade inflammation = cortisol = my body hanging onto fat. I am logging my food to control calories in versus calories out, aiming for about a 300 calorie deficit per day to lose 2-3 pounds. I slacked off for a while and some non-ideal foods crept in for the sake of convenience. I found out from my food log that I had been eating too much. It is so easy to do that when you are hungry all the time. Managing calories and getting back to gluten-free and dairy-free are my main strategies right now.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

10 x 12 minutes... think about that

Bike 3 hours with 10 x (12 minutes hard / 3 min recovery)
[52 miles, 2:52, Parmer Lane out and back]

Brick Run ~3 miles
[28 minutes (15 out/13 back neg split)]

It was a tough ride today with all those long intervals. It was a good way to make myself focus on steady effort for the entire ride. Riding this way, I was 8 minutes faster than when I did intervals on this same route a couple weeks ago. It's definitely something to think about as a race strategy too because I was close to my half ironman bike time even with the warmup, cooldown, and 3 minute recoveries. Running off the bike... yuck. After 5 minutes I wanted to stop because I was hardly moving and my legs felt terrible. I forced myself to keep going, and as usual my legs came around and I was able to run at a normal pace after about 12 minutes.

I was eager to get this done and still have some weekend left, so I got up at 6am and was on my bike at 6:45. It's still just noon and I am done, showered, stretched, eaten, car unpacked, and workout logged. I am looking forward to a whole half day of freedom.

Stick a fork in week 14 of training. It's done! On to week 15, aka 6 weeks left.
Volume this week:
Swim 10,4000yd (3:00)
Run 32.5 miles (4:30)
Bike 162 miles (9:30)
Total time: 17 hours

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Horseshoe Bay

Bike 70 miles [4:15]
Around Horseshoe Bay Texas

Mo and I stayed at the Horseshoe Bay Resort as part of a work thing she was doing and it was one of the nicest places I have ever stayed. Seeing people relax made me realize that I never relax. Hearing her colleagues talk about staying up to play mini-golf followed by poker made me realize that training requires that I go to bed early every night and I miss out on these things. It was a reality check on how hard I am working right now. After my ride today, we had a nice lunch and hung out by the fancy pool... no lap, no goggles, no cap, no workout cards, just playing around and lounging. After this weekend - 3 more weeks then 3 weeks of taper.

As for the ride, I put my head down and got 'er done. Nutrition today was reliably good using combo of natural solid foods and EFS products. The scenery was among the prettiest of any of the rides I have done this year. The weather was perfect, and I found out later that it poured all morning here in Austin so I really lucked out on being out of town :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

run swim tacos

Run easy 3.5 miles with 6x30 sec sprint up hill/jog down
Hill repeats the day after my long run... seriously?? I don't usually use running as a recovery for running but I am sticking to my training schedule this week. Amazingly I felt a lot better after this recovery run than before. The hill repeats were short enough to be energizing and not draining.

Swim 3700yd [1:02]
MS: 3x1000, 1x500
This was going to be 4x1000 (60 rec) to simulate an Ironman swim but it started lightening and the pool was cleared halfway through my last interval. I was solid and steady but in the second half I really needed to think about my form in every stroke in order to stay on pace. Based on my pace today, I think I am looking at a 1:05-1:07 IM swim. 1:07 is my current PR.

Then... Torchy's breakfast tacos! (eaten too quickly for photos)

Up at 5:45am for multiple hours of training for the 4th day in a row... I am an Ironman workhorse zombie.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

long run

Run 18.5 miles [2:36 => 8:23/mile pace]
6am, 75 degrees, 70% humidity
Workouts, workouts, and more workouts. This training is a grind. Eat sleep train. I still love my long runs though. I started from my house (in the dark), ran to Town Lake, did the 5 mile loop and returned to my house. It was mostly downhill on the way out, and uphill on the way back. I traveled light with two gels and a flask of water that I refilled at every water fountain available. I didn't take my ipod (unusual for me) and I didn't miss it. I didn't take my watch because it is broken and I haven't gotten a new one yet. I enjoyed being free of "stuff" and just focusing on running. Running without my watch was nice and I think I ended up going faster because I had no idea about the numbers. Perhaps I am faster than I think when I just run on feel. This was a good solid run. It was supposed to be 17 miles but I miscalculated the route a bit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

one advil to the rescue

Run 5 miles with 3 x 1 mile hard [42 min]
Ugh. I am tiiiiired. My body can't seem to catch up.

Bike 90 minutes with 6x hill repeats
Did 3 x Far West, 3 x Mesa
Experimented with standing vs. seated climb.
It's been a long time since I've done these hills as repeats and am excited to report that I have gotten significantly faster on less recovery than when I did them regularly in 2008. Great workout today. I didn't let myself do less than what was planned even though those bargaining devils entered my head a few times.

Swim 3200yd [57 min]
4x300@4:18, 4:17, 4:15, 4:22 on 5:00
2x400@5:56, 5:52 on 6:30
I went into this swim tired and irritable from being stuck in traffic. I killed it. My arms were strong and I swam faster than threshold for all the repeats. Ok, I admit I took one Advil this morning because I have been feeling lingering inflammation throughout my body. Since I only take Advil as a complete last resort and have probably only taken 15 total in my life, this was kind of a big deal. One little ibuprofen pill has a huge effect on me. Two great workouts today. Hmmm.

Monday, May 10, 2010

chocolates in my hat

Swim 3500yd [1:03]
6x150@2:04-2:07 on 2:30
8x100@1:18-1:24 on 1:45
8x50@0:39-0:43 on 1:00

Bike 45 minutes, hill intervals, trainer

Run 2 miles easy with sprints [18:00]

The countdown begins... 13 weeks down, 7 weeks to go. I surprised myself with the swim intervals today- I haven't done short repeats in a while and I have gotten faster. 1:18 was my previous 100yd PR and I matched that today on several of the repeats without specifically trying to sprint for a PR.

Training is kind of like this classic Lucy clip...  it starts off real nice and manageable when you are 20 weeks out but becomes complete chaos by the end. I'm in damage control mode and am nearing the point where they start putting chocolates down their shirt and in their hats.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Armadillo Hill Country Classic

Bike 108 miles [6:41], road bike, 15-20mph wind
Run 3.5 miles [29 min]

Today I joined the Armadillo Hill Country Classic ride in Liberty Hill TX and did the longest route they offered, 108 miles. The weather was cool (low 70s) and mostly cloudy with a 15-20mph wind. The wind was a factor from the beginning and I kind of dreaded going out because even my car was getting blown around as I drove there. It turned out not to be too bad. Many sections were shielded with trees, and the course changed directions many times so there weren't too many extended periods directly into a headwind.

The aid stations were well-stocked and I enjoyed the squares of PB+J on squishy white bread at every opportunity. I also supplemented my food with Larabar, EFS electrolyte drink, and EFS liquid shot for a total of about 1500 calories and 4 bottles of water.

I met a guy, Andy, around mile 35 and we stuck together for the rest of the ride, working together to draft and taking turns blocking the wind. Later on we joined a larger group of ten riders for more help with the wind. As for the distance, it was easy and enjoyable until mile 45, additional focus was needed for miles 45-75, and I really needed to bear down and concentrate through the discomfort for miles 75-108. I went through a rough patch of near calorie-bonk around 75 but was able to fix it by taking a good big drink of the EFS liquid shot. The strong sweet vanilla flavor of that can be hard to get down and I learned that I may not be able to rely on it for as many calories as I was planning. Solid food is most appealing to me while riding.

After 108 miles I was ready to get off the bike, but was not totally spent. My butt and back were the most sore and my quads were tired, as expected. Next up was an easy pace 3.5 mile run on a flat route around my neighborhood. After the initial stiffness was worked out, my legs felt good. Well, as "good" as they could have. This is a good sign that my nutrition worked. I went into this long day short on sleep and am happy with the solid result.

Post-Workout:: smoothie, ice bath, stretching, rolling, FOOD!

traveling this week

Long Run - 14 miles [1:52]

Swim 4200yd [1:12]
MS: 2x500, 3x400, 4x300 @ 1:30/100 pace


Run - 2x1 mile@7:11, 7:09, treadmill, 5.5 miles total, 45 min

Strength Workout
Chair Dips

Swim 2000yd, 35 min
MS: 1x400, 2x300, 1x200@ 1:32/100 pace


I went to New Orleans for a conference for work on Wednesday and Thursday. I was operating on very little sleep, long days, plane travel, different foods than usual, and standing on my feet for hours. It was very obvious to me how the quality of my workouts depends on a delicate balance of reduced stress, mental calm, rest, and diet. I scrambled to catch up on sleep for the weekend and ended up with 9 hour nights on Thursday and Friday.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

link between inflammation and fat

Chronic stress begets chronic inflammation, which chronically elevates cortisol, which induces insulin resistance and belly fat accumulation. 

I don't agree with everything about the Primal lifestyle on Mark's Daily Apple, but I do think the above statement is 100% true. It backs up what I have observed in myself about hormone levels and fat during hard endurance training. The best way for me to reduce the effects are to aim for an anti-inflammatory diet.

Monday, May 03, 2010

good workouts

Strength Workout
30 lat pull warmup (55-70)
30 jumping pullups with controlled down
30 burpees
30 box step ups for each leg (24 inch box)
30 side lunges with 25 lb plate held at chest
20 push press (started at 45, maxed at 55) - no improvement here, status quo
30 deadlift (started at 45, maxed with 15 reps at 75lbs) - yikes, found my weakness here!
40 bench press (started at 45, maxed at 85) - haven't done this one in a while, big improvement
4x30 seconds plank - I should be better at this. Needs work to hold longer.

45 minutes, spin class with: [3x (4x30 sec max/30 sec rest)]

30 minutes, 3.7 miles, treadmill
[10 min@8:30 pace, 10 min@7:20 pace, 5 min@7:40 pace, 5 min@8:30 pace]
The 7:20 pace run was the hardest part of today. I was nearly anaerobic and really had to work with my mind to keep it going. I chose to do this on the treadmill because I knew it would force me to get the workout done as planned, no cheating on the paces.

My renewed warrior mindset went to the test today and I won. When I let myself off the hook by cutting a workout short or doing fewer intervals or going less intense, I am only hurting my own race performance. I need to challenge my body to do things it doesn't want to do when I am training so that I am prepared to do that when I am racing.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

ironman race nutrition

I have never nailed my Ironman nutrition in a race, but I think this time I have it down. Proper nutrition is so crucial to having a good race. The distance is just too long to wing it, and if you make a mistake, you are going to suffer. I have practiced this two weeks in a row and is working! Here is the plan for Ironman race day:

Breakfast - oatmeal with protein powder, flax, almond butter, banana, green tea

Pre-race - Justin's PB squeeze pack, PowerGel (chocolate w/ caffeine) - 300 calories

Bike - 2000 calories and 6 bottles of water as:
Solid food mix - fig bars, raisins, raw dates, almonds, Larabar - 1000 calories
FirstEndurance EFS Electrolyte drink - 200 calories
FirstEndurance EFS Liquid Shot (diluted in one water bottle) - 800 calories

Run - 1000 calories and water every mile
100 calories every 3-4 miles as gel or whatever looks good at aid station
Alternate water/Cola at aid stations

reality check

I was pretty down about my result from Galveston 70.3. It wasn't a PR and was my second slowest 70.3 next to my first one 5 years ago. My placement in my age group was disappointing. When hard work doesn't appear to pay off, I start to wonder why I am doing all of this. Earlier this week, I was having serious doubts about myself as an athlete and was even starting to think about just doing Ironman TO FINISH. Seriously... to finish? That is giving up. I don't give up and I don't give less than 100%. Ever.

Bottom line - at Galveston I should have gone harder on the bike, and I should have put sunscreen in my transition area so I wouldn't have fried on the run. Things have to go wrong in order to learn. I learned about pacing. I learned that 90% effort is not good enough. That race is done, it's over, and it's time to move forward.

I start fresh right here, right now. I have my fitness and my attitude. I will go into the final 8 weeks of Ironman training with a renewed warrior spirit and a belief that I can and will do whatever I set my mind to.

lots o miles

Bike 91 miles steady riding [5:38 as 2:24 out/3:14 back], road bike

Bike 53 miles with intervals [3:00], tri bike

I did a lot of biking this weekend. Yesterday I joined the Austin to Shiner G.A.S.P. ride, doing 45 miles with them and then turning around to go back 45 miles on my own. The event is a 100 mile point-to-point ride and had 2000 riders, and lucky for them, they had a tailwind the whole way. For me, I had that tailwind only for the first half of my ride. Doing events like this makes a huge difference in getting the work of these long rides done because there are so many people out there to chase and try to keep up with.

Today my ride was all work though - 3 hours on my triathlon bike, aero position, intervals. I went out early to hammer it out on Parmer Lane, and the time actually went by really fast. It was cloudy with not too much wind - excellent conditions. My intervals were 2x15 minutes hard (5 min easy riding), 2 x 25 minutes hard (5 min easy riding). Once my legs were warmed up, I felt great. These are the kinds of efforts I should have been putting out in the race last weekend.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Race Captain for Marathon Nation

Marathon Nation is a new online running community started by Patrick McCrann, the founder of Endurance Nation. When you join, you get a training plan, a community of supportive friends, all the training information you could ever want, weekly video chats with the head coach, and a lot more. The training plans emphasize very specific workouts that help runners get stronger and faster... i.e. lots of speedwork and drills. Recovery and core strengthening techniques are also included.

So... here's the news.... I'm the race captain for the Marathon Nation Philadelphia Marathon team (Nov 2010)... what does this mean? Well for one it means that after Ironman Coeur d'Alene I will rest and then train to do that race myself using the MN training approach (can't wait!). MN will have a special Philly race group that I will be in charge of. I will answer daily training questions, keep up with everyone's progress, and create special challenges to make the training more fun. I will host a group gathering/dinner on race weekend.

I'm excited to be part of this community and to help people achieve their running goals. I ran the Philly ING Distance Run last year (and set a big PR) and did the full marathon a few years ago. The fall scenery is beautiful, the course is pretty flat, the weather is cool and not-humid (unlike Austin), and the pro-field is world class. It's a great race.

If you are already in Marathon Nation, consider running Philly with us! If you have never heard of it, take a look at the website. We are friendly to all types of runners.

this week is a breather

I'm done whining. 5 days have passed since the half ironman and I am starting to feel normal again. I decided to abandon my training plan this week and just do whatever I am in the mood for based on how I am feeling each day. This is helping my mental state because I don't like feeling boxed in by a strict plan. I don't mind doing the work as long as I don't feel like a train wreck.

Swim 4000yd, 1:13 at Deep Eddy pool
MS: 200, 300, 400, 500, 400, 300, 200 - all at 1:30/100 pace steady
Deep Eddy is COLD! The water felt awesome on my sore muscles. I had no trouble holding my threshold pace for this.

Run 7 miles, 59 min - Town Lake loop
Ugh, legs not horrible but not quite back to normal.

Swim 3000yd, 53 min
MS: 10x133 in 2:00 on 2:15, 10x66 in 1:00 on 1:15.
Big Stacy pool - so yes, the lengths are strange. Basically repeats of 2 laps and 1 lap. Nice swim. I went under my goal pace for many of the laps.

Run 10 miles, 1:26 with last 2 miles at 8:14 pace.

Strength workout
This is a modified version of the Crossfit Spartan Challenge:
25 pullups
50 pushups
50 box step ups on 20 inch box
25 lying leg raises
25 tick-tocks with broom stick
50 kettlebell clean and press with 20lbs
25 wall ball with 12 lbs

3x10 seated leg press machine@130 (not hard, just a reminder to my legs)

Monday, April 26, 2010


Bike 45 minutes (spin class, recovery)
Strength 15 minutes (lat pull, deadlift, pullup)

My hips and inner thighs are sore, and the rest of me is kind of tired, but the worst part of recovery from yesterday is the sunburn. I have a few really painful spots that hurt when my shirt rubs against them. I wish I would have thought to reapply my sunscreen before I started the run. Hello lots of aloe.

I am feeling kind of deflated today about triathlon. It really bugs me when I work so hard at something and still end up being an average middle-of-the-pack finisher. I feel beat up inside and out by that race. It felt more like work than fun. Thousands of Type-A triathletes in a small space is not an energy that is fun to be around. Why am I doing this again? I am optimistic that Coeur d'Alene will be better because the conditions won't be so brutal, and the course is nicer. I am going to do some hard thinking about what it will take to push myself to the limit in a positive way at that race.

In the spirit of this negative post, I may as well get it all out at once.... I have gained back the 3-4 pounds that I lost in the off season. It's not a lot in the grand scheme of things but it is enough that I feel it and notice it in my clothes. It is probably affecting my performance too. I think I tend to use food as a reward for really hard workouts, or fall into the trap of thinking that just because I have an Ironman on the calendar I can eat whatever I want. It's time to put some restrictions back in place:
1. 12 hour fast every night. i.e. All eating done by 7pm so I can eat breakfast at 7am. I will not die if I go to bed hungry.
2. Eat roughly Paleo with starchy carbs only immediately pre and post-workout3. Portion control

Lonestar 70.3 Race Report 2010

Galveston is a strange place. It's still struggling to get itself back together after Hurricane Ike. Many houses and buildings have boarded up windows and some still have blue tarps on the roof. The sun there is very intense and it is ultra-flat, and windy. There are miles and miles of beachfront on the Gulf of Mexico, with lots of resorts, but while it seems like it may have been nice at one time, it is now kind of rough around the edges.

And so was the Lonestar 70.3 Half Ironman. It was in the 80's, clear and sunny, and with a relentless 15 mph wind. My age group (30-34) put me in wave 14, which meant that I started at about 8:10, over an hour after the first athletes. This gave the wind and sun an extra hour to intensify. The point-to-point swim in the bay had a choppy headwind the entire way. At some points I felt like the waves were sucking me backwards. My swim was well-executed but it took me a slow 40 minutes to muscle through the 1.2 miles.

The bike was 56 miles of the flattest road I have ever biked. It was an out-and-back route along the coast, which meant beautiful views of the ocean the whole way. I looked up once in a while to make sure not to miss that. The super flatness gave no terrain variation so I could use different muscle groups or stretch. My inner thighs cramped up at mile 20 and I had to fight cramps the entire way. I wasn't sure how that would play out since I have never had muscle cramps there before. The bike was 3 hours down in aero-position cranking out steady power... with a 15 mph crosswind the entire way. There was nothing to block the wind or provide any shade. I took it a little conservative on the way out and hammered the way back. I should have gone harder the whole way - that was a good lesson in pacing learned the hard way.  Lots of women passed me, and I shouldn't have been so ok with that. I wasn't going hard enough. On the plus side, my nutrition worked perfectly: 900 calories and 3 bottles of water in the form of Gatorade, EFS drink, and my special mix of Larabar, fig bars, walnuts, raisins. The solid food tasted good and I had no trouble digesting it. Final time: 3:02.

I was glad to get off the bike to relieve my hip flexors and inner thighs from all that aero-time. I headed out on the run course for 4 laps through Moody Gardens. They use the word gardens loosely because it is a commercial resort and the entire run was on concrete with no shade. My game plan was to work the bike out of my legs on lap 1, find a steady pace on lap 2, work through lap 3, and push it on lap 4. All those laps were mentally hard, but the nice part was that there were aid stations every mile. I needed them badly in the heat, and walked through every one taking all the cold sponges and water I could get. I also had Gatorade or some other calories at every other mile. I didn't have quite enough and started to go into bonk mode. I got real cranky and was so spaced out I started bumping into other runners by mistake as I passed too closely. The heat got to me and by this point I could tell I was getting a nasty sunburn. I had a decent pace for the first two laps but after that it was a fight, a death march - one foot in front of the other... just make it to that next sign post...ok, now get to the next one, etc. Seeing a lot of spectators and all the runners on the course made it bearable. Final time: 1:52.

There was nothing I could have done to make my swim faster given the water conditions. I should have biked harder the whole way. I should have used a slightly harder gear and just pushed it. I should have gone to war with that. A+ for good bike nutrition today. My body isn't used to the Texas heat and direct sun yet, even though I have lived here for a few years. It really got me on the run. When I get overheated in a race, my mind goes. I had trouble keeping my thoughts positive and adjusting my run nutrition to the conditions on the fly. I did ok at this but not optimal which is why my run time is ok but not what I am capable of.

Finish time 5:38
18th of 89 in age group female 30-34
[previous half iron PR 5:22]