Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Don't think, just do, phase.

I will be peaking shortly.

I IRONPeople out there might say "Eh, peaking for a half iron....easy peasey" It's still a helluvalotta work. THANKYOU.

Sometimes, I think I really can't do anymore than I'm doing. No skipping workouts. No quitting when I'm tired and think, "I can't hold this pace for another minute" (like today's workout). My diet has been about as good as it gets. I even opted to not lose 5lbs (which is my normal racing weight). If it ain't broke don't fix it, right?

Really, it's that point of "Don't think. Just Do." Because when you think about the distances and the speed work or tempo work or form work or hill work, it becomes too much.

Needless to say, I've not put this much effort into a half-iron before.

SO....a week from my first peak week, and I'm starting to think about how hard those weeks hard it is to EXERCISE (for goodness's not a part time job!)......for up to 17 hours in a week.

At the same time, completing those workouts is a powerful thing. Think about the hardest thing you've ever done. Think about how you felt when you did it. It was so hard. You were SO glad it was over.

And you said you'd never do it again.

Then, you do it again. a way, it's like childbirth. You remember being miserable but the "finish" blurs some of the details, and you can't really remember the pain....but it couldn't have been THAT bad, right?

After all, you lived.

That's about it. That's where I am right now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Need a little Oooomphhhh

Usually when people post anonymously, I know who they are. Last week, someone posted. I thought I knew who it was, but I think I was wrong. Why am I telling you this? Because I did the workout that was mentioned. Clearly it was written by someone who knew what they were talking about.

With that said, Thank you mystery coach.


This week is a "rest" week. By definition, this means that I am doing one workout per day and taking off Friday completely.

It also means that it's testing week.

After having several days off from swimming, I opted to do a muscle memory swim yesterday: no more than 12 minutes and enough to remind myself that "Yes, I really do know what I'm doing here."

Today, was my test. I did not have the confidence that I did during the last test (4 weeks ago). Have I felt stronger? Yes. But....but....but....what? I don't know. When I was standing at the edge of the pool, i didn't quite feel right....not sick....

hmmm, I wasn't nervous.....

I just lacked confidence. I stood there, and I thought to myself, "I need a little ooomph today."

My last swim test was so good and took me so much by surprise, I didn't think I could replicate it. Let alone, try to beat my previous times.

My time trial is 3 x 300's keeping all 300's within seconds of each other and a short break (15 sec) between each 300.

I started my first set. I felt good, but I kept thinking "Don't worry about time just do the best you can."

As I started my second lap, a woman jumped in next to me. She seemed pretty fast. I thought "Hmmm, she's fast, but I need to focus on my pacing."

Shortly thereafter, I realized I was catching up and then passing her. I think she mentally got defeated because her speed dropped quickly when I was a half a body length in front of her.

I felt good, but I kept thinking "Don't worry if you can't hit your times from last time....just keep going."

At the end of 300, I hit my watch.

:20 per 300 faster than last time.


Next set, final set....same thing. My times were :01 second off the 2nd set and dead on for the 3rd set.

It was one of those days where I had to sit for a minute and think back to when I first started. Back to when I couldn't even finish 800m and 300m would take me over 9 minutes. In my very first tri, I clocked a 25:15, 750m swim.

Now, I'm closing in on a 30 minute half iron swim, and I didn't think I'd be able to beat my previous half iron time.

And, all I really wanted to accomplish was getting off the bike and not feeling like death warmed over.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Training Cycle

I have some random musings about my training. It'll likely bore the hell out of you, but at least I feel better about writing it down....because it shows that I CAN LEARN from past mistakes or....even not mistakes but just areas where I can be better.

As you might recall, I'm training for a half iron PR in Sept and a half mary PR in Oct.

Here's what I've learned:

1.) As much as I like to believe I can swim 3 times per week and improve, it doesn't work for me. I've worked with many plans over the years and typically make the adjustments that I need for them to work for me. One adjustment that I've never made until this year is 4x per week swim with one of those being muscle memory 15 minutes easy swimming after my long ride. I've found that this has had a huge positive impact on my swimming overall.

2.) The next change has to do with cycling. What have I done this year? EVERYTHING possible. And yea, this is a change for me. I know I've been a slacker on the bike in previous years. This year I've found that if I focus less on how fast I'm going and more on each individual workout, I have greater success. A 4 or 5 hour ride IS a 4 or 5 hour ride. A 1:30 tempo IS a 1:30 tempo. An easy ride focusing on cadence is exactly that. The pressure to "go fast" is "out". The importance of doing it "right" is the new black.

3.) Running....oh it is.....after running for as long as I have, you'd think this would be a slam dunk. But Noooooooooo. Like swimming, 3 days a week of running isn't good for me. Even 3 good QUALITY running days. Four days however, on some weeks, can be too much. Instead of doing one long run on weekends and two 3 milers during the week, I've added in a mid-week mid length longish run with accelerations or tempo running. Without adding an extra day of running but adding a harder workout has made me feel alot better and stronger.

So there ya have it!

I'm sure you were all wondering exactly how I was doing.....I mean, that IS how you spend your free time, right?

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Beast is in the hospital

My bike went into the shop this week. I waited patiently for the phone call saying that everything was done and come pick it up.

Instead, I got the "Not only is your bike not done, but you have a couple of big problems that we should fix, and we need to order parts. AND parts won't be here until the end of next week."


Well, maybe the mental break from riding outside will be nice. I was looking forward to my 4 hour ride tomorrow. Instead, I'll do spin classes and run more this coming week.

All of that is ok.....I just didn't realize that I'd miss my bike so much. I look at the empty spot, where it normally sits. I can see dust starting to settle where the wheels normally take up space. My helmet sits there empty, quietly rocking back and forth when I pass, they are old and ugly and pretty heavy, so I don't miss them much, but everything else....when did this happen?

My bike is 6 years old (almost to the day---yes, I know the day I got it, so just shaddup). It's a great bike, to me anyway. It's a Trek 5000, and I call it the Beast because the bike has always been faster than me. Of course, I have been catching up to it recently.

Well....that's it. swimming has been absolutely great, running is "eh", and riding.....sigh.....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My pay day will come

Yesterday, I felt invincible.

Today, I was humbled.

Weekly volume increased again. One more week of increasing volume, and then I have a testing week.

Yesterday was my first full brick of the year, and it went extremely well.

Today, well.....halfway through my ride, I started to feel yesterday's hard brick. The first 27 miles or so, I was in cruise mode. Everything was going along great.

Then, I turned to head south. It was like I slammed into a brick wall as I started my 27 mile uphill return into the wind.

I'm pretty sure I let out a whimper. I might have even cried. I definitely said a few curse words. Each level of the climb was a challenge. My legs were shred. My butt hurt. My quads hurt. My inner thighs hurt. My back hurt. My hips hurt. My calves hurt.

If you've ever been at this point in training, and you're chasing a goal that is really important to you.....and one that is SO close you can taste doesn't matter what level of pain you experience. You just know that you are going to do whatever it takes to hit your goal. Period.

At one point, I considered placing a rescue call. But, I knew that I wouldn't. I knew that I would keep climbing. Keep going. Because every single turn meant that I would be stronger physically and mentally the next time I head out.

Of course....

I was pretty sure that I'd never walk normally again.

And I think the neighbors thought I was going to pass out as my bike wobbled up the a horse carrying a sick rider.

As soon as I ate and showered, I felt almost completely better.

It was a total of 54 miles. Next week, I jump to a 4 hour ride, which of course means that my half iron should feel like a ride in the park come race day.

Tomorrow, I have a 1:15 ride.

By my calculation, I should pull a pretty good time at my half iron with all this cycling.

Friday, July 10, 2009

That kind of day

I head out early to do my long brick. I wanted to get there before all the families filled the "beach".

At 9am, it was already getting hot out. This was my first long open water swim this year. The water felt so good. The swim was an easy swim. I met an older women (70ish) out there who does sprints and olys. We do alot of the same races, and it was really nice to have someone to talk to on such a beautiful morning. Especially since, I had a bike and run planned immediately after the swim. We all know how lonely it can be out there.

At one point in the swim, I rolled over to look up at the sun. Birds above me, fish below me and only the cool slapping of water. I couldn't have asked for a nicer day.

Next up, the bike. Another easier day. I decided to circle the res a couple of times to get my hour in. I started feeling the heat on the bike and went through an entire bottle of water in an hour. I was glad I opted to take the T1 GU. I didn't think I needed it, but I noticed my stomach start to rumble with hunger.

When I get on the bike, I always expect to feel nice and cool. I guess the good thing/bad thing about tri clothing is that it's supposed to dry quickly. Today, all I felt was heat. Hot breezes, hot water, hot skin. Hot everything.

These are the crowds cheering, no bands playing, no aid stations....just me out there convincing myself that this is a good idea.

These are the days that make race days easy.

I kept thinking about the sandwhich and iced tea that I packed. THAT was a stroke of brillance. When I'm done my run, I'll go down to the water and soak my feet and eat. How great is that?

After the bike, I took a pre-run GU. It's really very hot now. I drink an entire 20oz of water (and still no need to pee...did I say it's hot?)

As I start running, I start formulating my half iron run plan. Do I run 5 walk 2? Or is that too much for a half iron? Maybe run 5 walk 1? I have a pretty lofty goal that I think I can hit. I think today, I'll do run 5 walk 1 because of the heat. Then on race day I'll adjust depending on the temperature.

At the halfway point, all I can think about is my sandwhich. I don't even remember the running back to the car.

I open the car door. I see my wetsuit on the floor. My bike is laying in the back. Everything is strewn about. I don't know why, but it makes me smile. I'm hot. I'm tired. Now, I get to eat my sandwhich.

I pull out my flip flops and exchange them for my running shoes. I grab my iced tea and head to the water.

I sit for awhile with my feet in the water, watching the kids splash and run around.

For now, I feel really good. It's time to enjoy and relax.....because tomorrow I'm up early for a 3.5 hour ride.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Waiting, waiting, waiting

If you are a triathlete, you know how hard it is to get good at this sport.

My nemesis has been cycling. Each year, it's a battle. I feel like I'm working so hard, but I make little progress. I don't see significant speed increases. Hills don't seem any easier.

THEN, today happened. To say I had a breakthrough day on the bike would be an understatement.

The funny thing is that the day really didn't have the makings of a good day. I woke up so sore....unbelievably sore. All I could think was "3 hours on the bike is going to be very painful and very hard."

That's what training is for, right? Push yourself and build strength then rest. All I had to do was get through 3 hours. Who was I kidding? I'm probably going to end the day crying like a little baby.

I started out very easy, going slower than I had two weeks ago (my last longer ride). I'm starting to know the bike course really well, but I hadn't done the full loop since last year. Still, I remember the harder climbs and some easier flats.

WELL---my legs were dead. They were sore. Yet somehow, I was maintaining a great speed! My heartrate stayed within zone 2-3, and I wasn't anywhere close to being as miserable as I was expecting.

I was trying to save any energy for the biggest climb which came at about 38 miles. When out of the blue, BAMPOP! I hit something in the road, must have been a rock and my tire just blew out.

Why does it always happen midway up a hill? I pulled out my cell to call Mike and let him know that I'd be late, but the NO SERVICE message flashed at me. I pulled over changed the tire and had a quick snack. When I got back on, I realized that short break really helped my legs which had been burning pretty good when my tire blew.

(Oh....almost forgot....while I was changing my tire, I got swarmed by bees. I'm not allergic nor afraid of bees, but they certainly didn't help my situation. Especially the one that flew into my helmet. very nice).

I hopped back on and checked my average speed. Still above expectations, but here comes the climb. No big deal. Take it slow.

Before I knew it, I was at the top. I felt really good. Maybe not REALLY good, but much better than I expected.

By the time I got to the meet up place (where Mike was going to pick me up), I was tired, but I had a smile plastered to my face.

Finally after the years of doing this, nutrition, hydration, training all came together.

Each week, I get nervous for my long rides. Each week, I'm getting stronger. My next long ride is 3.5 hours. I'm excited. I know it will be difficult, but I know that I'll be able to push through.

All I know is that I'm setting myself up for a very good race come September.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Being a junkie

I get excited for my big weekends. I know this sounds crazy, but I really miss Ironman training.

Yes, I know half iron training is still more training than 99.9% of the population does.

I've been doing my training. It's been going GREAT, but this weekend is my first real weekend of longer distances. Longer being relative. I still have a hard time referring to a 3000m swim as long, or a 45 mile bike or an 11 mile run as being long....even when they are done over a weekend.

It's that thing we like to call distance perspective. The longer we go, the shorter "long" feels.

I don't even know how it happened. I don't know HOW I became an endurance junkie.

A friend of mine has been trying to get me to do the Greenland 50k next May. My hesitation wasn't about whether or not I could do it. It was trying to figure out if I could fit training in with the 500 mile bike and the Ironman race that I want to do.

That shit's insane.

When I stop to think about some of the stuff I do now, I can't figure out when I switched. For a long time, I was happy doing up to half marathon distances.

I think the appeal for me is the meditative side. The concentration required for a short race is so intense, but it's different for endurance events.

It's the rhythm that I get into when running. It's my way of blocking out all distractions and focusing inward. When I'm swimming, it's the rocking of the water. It's different everytime, but it's always there. On the bike, sometimes it's the lines on the road. Sometimes it's my own breathing. Sometimes it's a line from a song playing over and over and over in my head.

Every little ting gonna be alright.

I think I'm a better person because of it. I'm much more relaxed during the day, more confident, more focused. Things don't bother me like they used to. I've had good races and bad races. Good training and bad training, but I keep coming back for more. I can tell's no fun getting your arse kicked.

But, the other side....the challenge, the success, the perserverance, the moments in which you feel few and as far between as they may be, make all the bad days worthwhile.

And the water felt thick

If you don't spend alot of time in the water, you might not understand. I might not even be able to explain what I mean.

Swimming is about balance, propulsion, and form.

It's about being a straight line, elongating your body and rotating. It's complex. It's hard to master.

It's much different than the swimming many of us learned when we were 7 years old.

If you're like me, swimming was more of survival, splashing around frantically just trying to get to the other side.

It never felt easy.

Then we make progress....and a little more....and a little more.

Still, the effort is there. It almost feels as though you're battling the water instead of using the water. There's nothing to hold on to that allows you to pull yourself through.

After years of making small adjustments of getting faster, maybe you've resigned yourself to the fact that swimming will always be hard. The water will always feel as though it's slipping through your fingers. You reach out for it, but it dissolves as your arms sweep back.

Your arms are paddles. They smack the water and hurry back out, so they can try to keep you afloat.

One morning, as you plunge in, you notice that you feel like you are laying on a soft mattress. You are laying on top of the water. Your legs aren't sinking. You aren't struggling to stay afloat. Out of nowhere, when you plunge your arm ahead, instead of dissolving, you feel like you are pulling yourself through jell-o. You have a grip. Your legs are forcing the current. You can feel the power of your kick propelling you forward. You can use the water, but it doesn't feel like water. You're not sinking; you're not struggling.

Somehow, the water has become thick. Instead of fighting it, you've found the balance. You've found the technique. You've discovered power where you didn't think it existed. Instead of struggling, the laps become effortless. You are pulling yourself through the water as if you were rock climbing. Each stroke gives you another handle to pull yourself through.

When the water becomes thick, you've found your stroke.