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...