Monday, December 31, 2012

Foam Roller...torture device or recovery asset?

A little bit of both.  I've finally started taking the foam roller and recovery seriously.  I have all this time to work with, so there is no reason that I shouldn't take advantage of it and make sure I am recovered as much as possible.  I think how good I felt last week was testament to adding 30-60 min of foam rolling and stretching each day.

How I finally realised how good the torture of foam rolling could be...and why I should jam this spiky ball in my chest...

I love a good deep tissue massage, the kind that is a bit brutal during but you feel like you can move, and everything is aligned afterwards.  I've always had a high pain tolerance, and its usually entertaining my first few times with a massage therapist.  A back and forth of, does this hurt? No. Are you sure? Yup. How about now? Nope. Really??

Finding a good therapist that knows where to push, and doesn't cause discomfort for the sake of going deep, but applies it sparingly in specific places to make your muscles submit and loosen is tough, and there are usually a few bruises involved in the search.

I got lucky and only had to try out a few before I found a good sports therapist who really focussed on muscle balance, knew where to trigger my muscles to get them to release down the kinetic chain, and had some interesting techniques that sometimes involve a bit of yoga in the massage.  The biggest asset though has been his enthusiasm for foam rolling.

He holds a foam rolling class, and I was hesitant to go.  I had used a foam roller on and off just sitting on the hot spots and trying to relax enough for them to release.  I love it when someone digs in a deep tissue massage, but I'm kind of a wuss when I have to cause that same sensation myself. Well I went and it opened my eyes to the possibilities of foam rolling.  I thought foam rolling was a fairly static exercise, with some rolling back and forth to find hot spots.  What I learned during this class was that movement through flexing and rotating would help get deep into the working muscles.  For example IT band I would be in a side plank position and slowly move down the leg, what he suggested is the same position, but bending the leg at the knee slowly and releasing helped me get deeper.  Or in the chest use a spiky ball and moving my arm slowly up and back to get more into the swimming muscles.

I finally started taking the foam roller and recovery seriously. The difference was staggering in how I felt each day and how my body has been absorbing work.  Here's the crazy part, for the first time I went to see my massage therapist, and 20 min into the session he asked if I wanted to do some work on my upper body.  Now this doesn't seem crazy, but usually we run out of time because my hips, glutes and IT need some serious attention!

He said that everything just released easily this time, and he was having a hard time finding hot spots, when this guy can zero in on the slightest discrepancies in my body.  So he started on my upper body...and was once again surprised.  It was in rough shape.  I have terrible posture, something I have been working on lately, and this has caused even more tightness and soreness in my upper back.  I wish I listened to my mom when she told me to sit up straight because it is damned hard to change my posture now.  My husband teases me, when I'm at the gym as soon as I'm doing any weightlifting he says I just lock into great posture, as soon as I'm done the move my shoulders collapse in.  I didnt realise it was such a visible difference!  So some quality deep tissue work was done, as well as a bit of a lecture on how a spiky ball can be added to my foam roller torture routine.  Yea this looks like something I want to jam into my chest and back...

I have to say though, I had a shockingly good swim the day after my back and chest massage.  My threshold pace that I usually have to work for to hold it for 100m, I did 3*300 at faster than threshold pace and it felt effortless in comparison to how I usually would have to work for it.  I was almost surprised to see the wall of the pool each time because it came so quickly.  So I suppose I will start working with the spiky ball, because today after the effects of the massage wore off I was back to working hard for T pace for 100m.  

Time to hit the bike for a bit, then get dressed up to go Pub hopping for New Years Eve.  Happy New Years Eve!!  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Meeting Macca in Barcelona!

Macca aka Chris McCormack is a pro triathlete and Ironman Champion, and has been a bit of an idol for me.  He has a habit of stirring things up, and a mental game that has put him at the top of the podium a few times.

When I first got into triathlon his book was the first I had read "I'm here to win" and his views on turning the competition in his favour by meticulous analysis and mind games was interesting; especially when these athletes are at such a peak fitness that every advantage is important.

Anyways I had been following him and he started a semi training group online that I became a part of when I was still planning on being self coached, and figured any advice from him, his advisors as well as other triathletes in the group would come in handy.  Well he mentioned in the group that he was going to be competing at the Half Challenge Barcelona Maresme, and wanted to meet with any members of the crew that would be out there.

Well the plan was to do a Half Ironman in May, and Challenge Barcelona was May 19th...hmm maybe?  It worked into the schedule perfectly, and who wouldn't want a trip to Spain!  I only had to convince the hubby that he wanted to go to spain too :p Which he did, but he's skeptical about how much fun a vacation can be while I am competing.  I cant blame him, any triathlete or runner knows the fun of taper madness and perhaps their spouses even more.  The one thing that will help is all of my racing this year is towards Ironman, and this would be a B race, so not the drama and nerves of my first one last year.

Plus I'll need to acclimate a little to help with the hot climate, and what better way than relaxing with my hubby feet in the water ass in the sand.

I'm so excited, and hoping he will have a better time at this race.  He can sit by the water with a beer in hand while I race, making it a perfect day for both of us :)  I'm lucky to have such a supportive husband and he didn't take much convincing, he knows Macca is a bit of an idol and this would be a cool opportunity.

This is going to be a phenomenal race, I get to meet an idol, visit Spain for the first time, give this distance another shot and see what I can do with some real training and recover with a beer on the beach.  Love it!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Hills I will own you!

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

(Young India, Volume 1, Issue 52; 1919)” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

This week has been magic.  Still working in the base phase, working on strength and endurance, so nothing fancy or outrageous but this week I started to feel the effects of the training.

It started with a long run Sunday.  The goal of the day was to seek out every hill or bump in the road, if there was an incline I was going up it.  I've had a rough time with hills, it just never feels right, I feel like I hunch over and collapse into myself, I cant get the fluid form that comes easily on the flats.

Until now.

I was freaking flying up those things (possibly a slight hyperbole) it felt great.  Even more fun, my coach told me to push on the downhills.  At first it was a slightly manic, on the verge of out of control hurling myself down the hills experience.  It was so much fun!  However being on the verge of tripping myself up (considering its happened a few times on flat obstacle free terrain) was probably not the best idea.  So I started working on a bit more controlled form, and soon I felt like the roadrunner, my legs turning over at an insane rate and it felt like I was gliding.  *Meep Meep* It was a similar route to the weekend before, but 2 miles longer and even more elevation, but I ended up running 15 seconds faster per mile over the whole distance.

Monday was the usual swim and recovery spin.  Next up my first Christmas run!  Last year I was out of the game with a stress fracture, so I had to console myself with lots of coffee with baileys, wine, chocolate and good food....what a shame.  Started out just feeling blah, legs were flat, and the rum filled (so much rum my toungue went numb) chocolates I so smartly ate before my run were not sitting so well in my stomach.  The first 2 miles it was all I could do not to turn around and get back in my robe and enjoy some boozy coffee and chocolate.  They felt mediocre until I turned on the heat.  6* 40'' faster than 5k....uphill.  It was like someone lit a fire under my ass, and my legs just perked right up.  I was gliding up that hill, and just felt the power in my legs unleashed.  

Then came the bike ride, 10 * 1 min muscular endurance 1 min spin.  Muscular endurance, I see that on my training plan and get a little bit excited.  What does it say about me when something that burns like nothing else gets me excited?  The most I had done before was 6 reps with more rest in between.  Ohh how it burned, and this ride came after a morning swim and strength session.  After the ME reps it was sustained power higher than what I had been holding and it just felt easy.  

The theme of this week has been the more power I put out, the better my legs feel :s I'm sure it will catch up at some point, but my body is responding to the little spurts of higher intensity work.  Maybe its the additional fast twitch muscle fibres, and motor units being engaged with the strength training, reducing neuromuscular inhibition, but something has just clicked this week.  My legs have never felt stronger, and at the same time have never been looser.  I've barely been feeling any fatigue after my workouts and recovering exceptionally well.  Heres hoping this continues for a while :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Big guys in tank tops and cut off shirts...

What a feeling, when your body is just taking in all the work and stress you are putting it through and just responding and adapting.  I have been feeling so good lately, so strong I love it.

I've gotten back to my roots a bit this week and started doing more heavy strength training.  When I lost all the weight it was with a personal trainer in the weight room, with a lot less cardio than people seem to think.  I found that my body responds well to the strength training, a combination of fast twitch muscle fibres and a hormonal response.  My body likes to hold onto fat stores, but at the same time can build strength and muscle fairly easily, like most things a give and take.

I dont think I will ever look like those triathletes with low body fat percentage, my body seems to respond differently to the demands of long slow endurance training.  I'm small, but have a very small frame and still about 20% body fat.  I've found that I start to gain weight when I do just steady state training.  With the attention I pay to my diet I know its not overeating that is causing it, but more likely a hormonal response to the training.  But you know what?  I love my body, and I feel damned good about the way I look.

The greatest thing that happened to me in my fitness journey is when I started seeing my body in measures of performance to make it stronger and faster.  There is no better feeling or motivation, when your body is just responding, you feel fluid, strong, and every fibre seems to move in sync.

And wow rambling, back to the weight training.  I'm doing some heavy lifting for the next few weeks.  Right now in the base period is the time to build up pure strength, something I haven't done since I started running.  I've strength trained on and off, but usually just body weight for the lower body only really lifting for the upper body.  Back in Texas I didn't want to fatigue my legs because my run would suffer, and I was just barely holding on to the running group that I was running with in the mornings.  I was also racing every few weeks and there was no period where I took a break long enough to focus on that strength.

I love being back in the gym, it was where my fitness journey started and it feels like home.  It's entertaining working out in my gym though, its a dark windowless gym with low ceilings and a large group of men with their arms a foot out from either side of their bodies because their lats (or they pretend) get in the way.  A lot of strutting around in tank tops and cut off shirts, and a place where the men spend as much time flexing in the mirror as lifting.  There is a stretching section of the gym on the opposite side with a few dumbbells where you will find a few females, but the heavy weights and plates are in the heart of the gym and usually dominated by some hard core looking guys.  So I figured I would dress up as colourfully as possible and invade their space.  Sporting some neon orange shorts, electric green top and pink shoes I made my way over.  I've never seen another girl in that area of the gym, and I don't think those guys had either :p A couple side ways looks, I rotated in on the bench and did my thing.  I love the feeling of lifting heavy, that burn, knowing the adaptations it will cause in your muscles.  I kept it pretty restrained because its been so long, and look forward to seeing what changes come of it.

One surprise was how my legs felt on the bike afterwards!  They felt ready to go, just firing efficiently and pumped up.   I wasn't sure how to fit in the weight training but this works perfectly.  It forces me to go to the pool in the morning, which would usually be waylaid until after the bike and be less effective because I was tired.  Then after the swim I hit the weights (if I didn't swim first I would be headed to the gym twice in the day and thats just inefficient).  After that head home to chow down on a big breakfast, followed by a quality bike ride.  Its a simple but perfect way to add it in.  My legs feel primed for the bike after the lifting (which I did not expect) and just feel good off the bat, then by the time DOM's sets in 48 hours later I will have already done my run.  Genius!  (thanks Tim!).  So far I've been taking the weights pretty easy nowhere near failure just so I can adjust and make sure form is spot on, so no DOM's yet.

I'm loving this schedule and the day is definitely quality but works so well that I finish it with energy still high.  Overall energy has been really high, I'm just craving each workout.  It seems like my body sucks up the work and asks for seconds.  Talk about a boost when my coach adds on work and my body keeps asking for more.  I'm learning about the base period, and right now I'm training my body to be ready to really train for Ironman, setting that foundation that will carry me through to that finish line where I will hear "You are an Ironman"

There is no doubt, I will be an Ironman ;)

Carpe Diem

Friday, November 30, 2012

Back to Triathlon

Learning to listen to my body.  I used to be a slave to my training plan, especially when I was just running.  It stressed me out if I didnt hit my mileage, thinking when can I fit in a make up session around work and real life.

Somethings clicked, a lightbulb has come on.  I moved to Scotland, I ran a marathon and then probably the most important part I took a break!  Now I've only started running last summer, but the only break I took was the 5 months off when my body forced me to with a pelvic stress fracture.  I ignored it completely and it rebelled in a big way.

I did what I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it.  No schedule no stress, best part was I listened to my body and I felt good, and it let me know when it was ready to get back to work.

I started building up training again, nothing really strict, just a vague ideal that a base period would be coming and I needed to work up to it.

I think the best thing I've done with next season is giving myself time to train.  Not having crazy short timelines and frantically trying to get in enough training to perform.

* Ran first mile - 2 months later - ran first half marathon
* Decided to get into triathlon and bought a bike - 2.5 months later raced Ironman Buffalo Springs 70.3
* Thought how about I give marathon another try - 8 weeks later ran Loch Ness Marathon

It was a blast seeing what my body could pull off in these timelines, but it did cause some stress along the way.

Now I have loads of time and I feel relaxed, I can do a real base period, if I miss a workout its not the end of the world, I will actually have some previous training to back it up.  Consistency is going to be key, and that means staying injury free and fuelling my body properly.  The number one lesson I've learned is that the body is a phenomenal machine, it will tell you what it needs, when to back off, when to push and how to fuel.

I am so excited for this journey, become better aquatinted with myself, see what I can accomplish and learn a ton along the way.

Its been a while...

I was so revolved around triathlon...brand new to the sport my first tri was a huge awakening.

I didn't pull off the time I wanted, the time I think I'm really capable of....IF I had trained properly.  I'll admit it, I kind of ignored the hills on the run.  I figured I would suffer through them, and still pull off close to the time I wanted without hill workouts, shockingly it doesn't work that way :p.  I've always considered my mental strength my greatest asset in racing, but this race beat me up and cracked that mental drive.  At the end of the day I learned a ton, about myself and triathlon and wouldn't trade the experience for the world. It was an ambitious goal on just over 2 months of swimming and riding and I cant express the satisfaction I got crossing that finishing line.

(Finished in 6 hours, 6th in my AG)

Turned around in my second tri, a sprint distance and raced to 3rd female overall which I was psyched about.  Anyways it's so far in the past now, I needed a break from thinking about triathlon, and the only reason I started writing this was to give me an output to this sport I was obsessing about, instead of endlessly harassing friends and family with my thoughts, splits and crazy workouts.

But Baby I'm back!

I spent the last couple months doing a run focus to reach another one of my goals, running a marathon.  I know "they" (those mysterious interwebs experts) say you don't need to run a marathon before you do an Ironman, and I think they are right.  However I think it benefitted me to close out my season with one, to know what it feels like to cover that distance, to have the confidence of going in there with a plan and reaching it.

Even if I ignored the hill training this time too...damn you'd think I would learn my lesson the first time :p

I had a perfectly logical reason (aka: excuse).  I was determined to run a marathon in 8 weeks, but there was a possibility that I would be moving to Scotland either 2 weeks before the marathon or one week after.  So training in Texas, for a hot and flat marathon, with the possibility of moving to cold and hilly Scotland.  Whats a girl to do?  Obviously sign up for 2 marathons on the same day, one in Texas, one in Scotland and see where I end up!

Well I ended up in Scotland at the Lock Ness Marathon, with not a flat portion to be found and a monster hill at mile 19.  Guess I shouldn't have skipped those hill repeats.  My goal on the flat course was 3:25, I figured with the hills 3:35 was a good adjustment. I didn't realise how ambitious that was, the hills didn't look so big on the course layout.

Mile 5...when my calves started hurting...not cramping...why are you doing this to us pain...

I think the last time my legs started hurting at mile 5 of a run was my first month running.

I started questioning, but I had braved the UK train system and made it all the way to Loch Ness, I was either going to finish this marathon or become best friends with Nessie, and Nessie didn't pop up to say hi.

It was a roller coaster ride, I had no strength on the hills so it was a yo-yo effect with everyone running around me.  Going up the hills I would fall behind, going down the hills I would surge ahead...pacing was completely out the window!

Mile 19: mile long hill, everyone I can see starts walking because running up the incline isnt any faster. That doesn't help the pain.

Mile 20: Ok everything hurts, I mean really hurts, but I've worked this hard, its so hard to keep going.  I need something to keep me motivated.

Queue the head games: Ok lets see how many women I can pass, 10k left, I won 1st female in my last 10k, sooo lets see if I can do that here and not have any women pass me before the end.

1,2,3,4, 3...crap gotta keep her in my sights cant be passed, 4

Mile 23: Ridiculous surge of energy, I'm really going to finish this, I'm actually starting to feel a bit better...
Mile23.2: Ohhh man this hurts, can I finish?

Mile 25: Head on into the wind, just keep moving, just keep moving.

Mile 25.8: Two girls pass me, ohh no I've held them off the last 10k this is not happening.

Sprint!  All out, lets go, ohh man my legs don't feel collected to my body they are turning faster than I thought they could.

26.18: Passed both of them back!

26.2: WOOT!! I am a marathoner!!!


Oh dear lord I cant walk...seriously.  I don't know how I ran this thing, after the race my calves refused to extend or flex at all.  I had to take itty bitty steps to the food tent...after I picked up my bag on the other side of the felt like it took me years...

I wasn't really planning on writing a race report, but I left my running group back in Texas and the family doesn't quite get it when I talk about this stuff.

Fun fact: it was 2 weeks before I could walk normally again, I am proud to say I left it all out on the course that day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Taper Rules

So its taper time... as when I started this I have so much on my mind and now I have time to write about it and have no idea where to start. 

How about the rules I was given during taper:
  • Don't try to gain more fitness, anything I do now wont help race day and could potentially hurt me.
  • Trying to find that balance is definitely challenging!
  • But thats one thing I'm so good at!  Feeling some new achilles and foot much for that point.
  • Run taper is going to be pretty drastic this week, hopefully it goes away
  • I have to say I got very used to eating 2200-3000 calories a day...I'm hungry, but still eating about twice what the average woman eats.  For formerly being overweight its crazy to look at the amount I ate in training while still loosing body fat.  It took me some time to get there just that mental block of wanting to get lean which usually means restricting calories, but I truly saw some amazing changes when my body is properly fueled.  Plus with all the training it would have been impossible for it to have negative effects on my waistline.
You know what though, with all the uncertainty of my first triathlon, the ridiculously short training period, and some of the what the hell were you thinking feedback I've recieved...I have never felt so prepared for a race.

I gave this training, 110% I was excited for every workout, and now when I think about race day I feel a calm confidence, and get this crazy smile on my face.  Which is a huge contrast to every other race I've done, my half marathon I was a flurry of nerves and excitement for two weeks leading up, I've had 5k's I've felt more nervous about!  Its 5 days out, maybe the nerves are still to come, but I am enjoying the calm right now. 

Here is a picture I saw inspired by Macca:

3 weeks is long enough to train for a Half Ironman as your first race....right?

What an experience so far.  I wanted to keep this more updated with my training and experiences, but I got to a point where my focus was exclusively training and trying to cram in all the information I could about race execution.

This timeframe is ridiculous, I am 5 days away from my first triathlon.

I've had a bicycle for just under 2months

I've been swimming for 2 months (actually focusing on swimming the last month)

Its only been 3.5 months since I could run my first mile after recovering from 5 months off due to a stress fracture.

Before the stress fracture I only had 3 months of running experience (before that couldn't run a mile)

To top if off I've had only 3 weeks total of Ironman 70.3 specific training...before that my focus was a sprint. 

This is either going to be an amazing first triathlon...or a fight just to finish.

Hill training....with no hills...does wind count?

Hills...something I will have to face in the race that I have had no opportunity to experience in training.  The top chart shows the race course hills....the one below shows my training grounds.  The uphills will be tough and the downhills terrifying...bring it on :)

Typically I would have spend some time to go out to a hillier area to get some training in...but with only 3 weeks from the point I decided to do my first triathlon to taper there was only time for ridiculous amounts of training when I could get it in.  So plan for hills is...dont crash...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hot, Windy, Hard, Perfect

I dont like to suffer, I just like the endorphin fueled sense of accomplishment that I feel after.

Midland has no hills, my elevation chart is consistanly flat as a pancake, the only bump when I go to "The Hill" (more like a speed bump) in Midland and power up it.  The closest thing we have is wind, now since there is a canyon involved in IMBS 70.3, I was hoping for a whole lot of wind this morning.  Last year it was in the triple digits for the race as well, heat we have.  I usually start out earlier, but wanted to run in the heat of the day to simulate race day if conditions are like last year.

So today was 20-25mph winds, starting temp of 75, up to 88 at the end of the run.  That'll work.

The workout was intervals at 95-100% of lactic threshold heart rate (the point where your legs and lungs burn, only sustainable for an hour at 100%).  Over a 2:45 ride, followed by a 3 mile run to complete the brick. 

I was determined to go out there and push, I was excited about it, I want to see what I can do.  4 mile warm up where I was already mashing gears into the wind, and it was time to go.  The IMBS course starts with a huge hill, so into the wind I went into a gear that I could just push.  My legs were burning, it was 20 minutes into the ride.  After a 2 min recovery, back hard on the pedals.  I spent the first 12 miles in my first gear, just barely able to keep my candence above 70 rpm.  HR averaging near 100% of LTHR, it burned.  Looking at the road ahead was rough, barely keeping 12mph it felt like I was in slow motion and the next overpass never got any closer. 

This is exaclty what I need, easy doesnt do me any good, hard will make my quads respond, become solid and strong. 

I fell into a rhythm, focussing on the 4 corners of my pedal stroke, the pressure of my feet on the pedals.  Feeling the muscles in my legs and glutes contracting and releasing working in unsion. 

An out and back route rewarded me with the wind at my back, speed felt effortless, so I had to go faster until my HR creeped back into max.  The hard part was turning around back into the wind for another loop.  It really started heating up and I ditched my top to finish in a sports bra, fyi drivers notice you more and give you more room if you're in a sports bra.  I'm sure you would get even more regard if your a guy in a sports bra :p

I ended up getting a little turned around on the way back, I ran out of water about a half hour before the end which came back to get me later.  I had planned on looping near home to get a planted water bottle because I knew I would be low by then.

The run:

Running off the bike is bizarre, my legs want to keep going faster with what felt like no effort...but my lungs couldnt keep up.  I had to keep slowing myself down, legs itching to increase their turnover but the cardio system wasnt ready to perform at the same level.  After having my heartrate so high for so long it didnt have it left to give.  I chugged some water before I started running, but I dont think it was enough.  I started to feel punch drunk, forgetting to focus on my legs to discover I was going a minute per mile faster than I should be, realizing it too late when my breath started coming in gasps. 

The first lap hurt, I had two more.  Gasping, HR soaring, legs were the only thing that wanted to keep going.  It was exactly what I needed. 

Lesson learned, stay hydrated, keep pace on target, dont speed up no matter how good legs feel.  Thankfully there was no ill effect from all that I ate on the bike, and my legs obviously had tons to go on.

Now I know the idea that 3 miles was so hard after, when I would have an additional 10 in the race should be a negative.  The difference is I wont be racing at over 95% of LTHR on the bike, and I wont have had a 14.5 hour week of built up fatigue.   

This was the hardest thing I have done so far, I was suffering.  Usually after my workouts I bounce into the house still brimming with energy.  This time I was dripping in sweat, I couldnt talk because I was still gasping, I felt drunk, I felt nauseous, I had nothing left, but I was right where I need to be.

My body amazes me, I felt broken down physically (mentally I was soaring), but 10 minutes later I was back.  I felt great, I felt as if I hadnt done the workout.  I have never worked so hard, yet minutes later I was having trouble sitting still.  I got this.

What I discovered on this brick:

1) That rhythm is golden, falling out of it makes everything feel hard.  While connecting with the sensation of the movment of my muscles to complete the pedal stroke makes the hard feel strong.

2) Keep my head down, even though I will be missing the exciting west texas view of tumbleweeds and red dirt, sacrifices must be made.  I had trouble with that racing motorcycles too.

3) Sunscreen is your friend.  My back is now near purple red it is so sunburned...the plight of a redhead.  I put on sunscreen before I ran but the damage was done

4) I can eat a lot on the bike, I ended up averaging 275 calories per hour on the bike and I was starting to get hungry near the end.  I will keep trying to see what my calorie limit is before it negatively affects the run.

5) Make sure you know where your going before you run out of water.  It makes running hard later.  HYDRATE! 

The swim...what the hell are my legs doing back there?

Friday was a swim workout.  I've been struggling. A month and a half ago I couldnt make it 500 yards without stopping.  That worried me with a sprint in my sights.  What makes me think I can make it the 1.2 miles? Well there is no other choice, so I better make it.

I've been doing drills, trying to work on a perfect form that changes wildly depending on who you ask.  I feel like I'm doing one thing, when I'm actually doing something completely different.  I can't make it 100 yards the speed that most people are doing the 1.2 mile swim.  Its frustrating because I dont know what I'm doing wrong so I dont know what to correct.

But like I said, since signing up for Ironman Buffalo Spring Lake 70.3 I have felt unstoppable.  On the schedule was 300 WU, 5* 400.  Seriously?  Last week I almost drown trying to do a 500 and 2*200's. 

I've got this drive now that I didnt have last week.  I started out, the first one felt hard, the second one I started thinking about the start in open water, I started to get a little panicked, heart rate shot up form went to crap.  The thought of giving in early was tugging at my mind, I was all alone at the pool and I'm still not comfortable in the water.

The only way I will survive it though is if I put in the work now.  So what the hell am I doing thinking about quitting early?  Do I want my arms burning and heart pounding here in the pool where the edge is yards away, or when I'm in the middle of a lake with people kicking all around me. 

With that I proceeded to have the best swim workout yet.  I felt every muscle move with every stroke, I felt strong, I felt smooth.  Its the first time I really thought I could survive the swim, and it was done in well under an hour.  I still have no idea what my legs are doing back there half the time, but things are changing, my body is adapting.

There is going to be a lot of competition on the field, not to mention the field itself, so I have to be on my game if I have any chance.  Every workout is key, so I'm going to treat it that way.  5 weeks tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I'm not satisfied just to finish, I'm in this for Kona

So here we are.  Wednesday I decided to do the Ironman Buffalo Spring 70.3.  I have to say it is a huge relief to have a plan.  I was agonizing back and forth on olympic or 70.3.  I want to do the 70.3, but could I be competitive, was I better off doing the Olympic and have a chance of placing?

Those questions no longer matter, I'm in this thing.  I'm going to push until I have nothing left.

This decision came at the right time.  I would say I pride myself on my mental drive.  I've won 1st female in races that I did not have the fitness for, I was just willing to suffer more.  I nearly puked and passed out after my half marathon, but I gave it everything I had.  While I realize that is just the last leg of a triathlon, I'm proud of holding steady and then pushing until I had nothing left at the end, when all I wanted to do was slow down.  I was spending too much energy trying to decide what I wanted to do and not enough on my training. 

I couldnt get my head in the game, I didnt miss any of my workouts, and I didnt loose intensity, but I wasnt feeling that unfailing determination and conviction that I can perform.  I was doubting myself, performing regardless, but it was painful.  I went on a run with a group of runners that I always regarded as too fast, and while they could beat me in any race there is no reason I couldnt keep up in training.  But I had it in my head I wouldnt be able to, and guess what it was painful trying.  I had two options to run home, another 1.5 miles with the group or take the other way around and run on my own.  I chose to run on my own, I didnt think I could keep up, I gave myself an out with the bike and swim fatigue, I gave in mentally.  I ran home, it was a hard pace, but I kept thinking about how I was just trying to keep up when I was with them.  Well shit I looked at what they ran the rest of the time, I could have kept up most of the way. Damn. 

Then I signed up for Ironman Buffalo Spring 70.3.  Its time to go,its time to push, no more excuses, I only have 3 weeks to build I have to lay it all out here.  No more coping out, every workout is a key one, no quitting early.  That lit a fire under my ass. 

I have felt unstoppable since.

I scoped out the competition, I found out what it will take to win this, what it will take to get to Kona.  Now I know what I have to do, and I have been bursting with energy since.  I'm looking forward to every workout, each one is a chance to get faster, to push harder and get to that point of pain that means something good is happening.  I'm not there yet, but I will be.  It sounds cocky to say I have a chance at Kona on my first triathlon, but if I didnt believe it I wouldnt be out there before the sunrise pushing myself to my limits.  I'm not in this just to finish, maybe it will end with me being humbled, having not paid my dues.  Either way I'm in this, I will finish, I will race smart, I'm sure there will be some suffering, but I'm going for it with everything I have.

3 weeks until taper, I will live and breathe triathlon.  I will pay in sweat, burning legs and lungs.  I will recover and stay  healthy.  3 weeks, to become the best I can.  Then its time to see what this body can do.  It amazes me every day, now that I have my mental fight back I can be confident I will be competitive.  If I dont win first in AG, I am going to make the women that does fight for it the whole way.  I'm not satisfied just to finish.

Ironman 70.3 for my first triathlon...I'm pretty sure I'll survive so why not?

Am I crazy?  Thats what I posted on the message board of an online triathlon group.  They say no...everyone else says yes...I think they may be a bit biased.

How I ended up signing up for the Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Spring Lake...instead of the Tri-Raider sprint happening at the same location.

It all started with my new bicycle.  First two weeks I had it I was like a kid that just removed the training wheels.  Wind made me nervous, cars made me flinch, dont even mention going into aero position...too unsteady.  Thankfully I started to adjust, get more comfotable, and most important get more speed. 

Last weekend I ran 14 miles on Saturday fast enough to beat my half marathon PR, and then had an offer to go for a ride on Sunday.  I was hesitant at first, because I didnt know how my legs would feel after the run, and didnt want to slow them down.  I ended up going, and it changed everything.  I rode 25 miles with the group at just over 18 mph...which was faster than my 45 min tempo I attempted earlier in the week.  Apparently my legs are adapting, sweet.  It was a great ride and I was feeling good at the end, but hungry.

(Side note, biking makes me insanely hungry, I eat bars, gels, hydrate and use sports drinks...I'm hoping this will help me with 70.3 once I dial in the far it seems like I can take in a lot without an upset stomach...)

Well I head home with the plan of a short brick, I had my mother in law visiting so I didnt want to be out all day.  Well I got home and everyone was still asleep so I figured I would try for 10 more miles on the bike.  I downed a power bar, cytomax chews and some chomps and head out.  That 10 would bring me to the furthest I've been so far.  Well that came and went and I was still feeling good, so 10 more it was, and since I was already at 45 for the day may as well round it out at 50.  I didnt have my garmin set up for overall speed so I had no idea what it was for either leg of the ride.  Amazingly I didnt feel wrecked after it either, sure my butt started to get a little sore but nothing unmanageable. My longest ride before that was 30 miles at 17mph.  I ended up with 50 miles at over 18mph!  Well thats when I started thinking about doing the Olympic distance in Lubbock, with secret thoughts of the 70.3(they are holding a sprint, olympic and 70.3).  I mean Ironman 70.3 sounds so much cooler than olympic. 

So stats for the weekend, fastest splits yet on a 14 mile run, followed by 9 miles easy on the bike, sunday had 50 miles at over 18mph, first time going 50 miles and after my highest volume week ever (14 hours).  Well hell, maybe that 70.3 isn't out of the question.  I started looking into it seriously and agonizing back and forth between olympic and 70.3 (sprint was already out of the door). 

I figured I would consult with the all knowing interwebs.  Because everyone online knows what they are talking about so their advice can be trusted :p Fortunately I'm part of an online triathlon community that has some great knowledge and resources. 

"Am I crazy?" was the title of the post, and the general opinion was yes....but arent we all a little crazy in this sport?  A resounding go for it.  I followed up talking to a triathlete that recently joined the running club, and with a little more info he said go for it too. 

I was still going back and forth, I wanted to but I dont want to do this just to finish.  I want to race, I want to win, I'm not doing all this training just to reach the finish line.  I want to be there first in my AG.  The biggest reason I want to do this 70.3 instead of waiting is its the final Kona qualifyer that I can race this year.  Sure its a little sooner than I wanted but if I have a chance to qualify before leaving the states, this is it, this is my only chance.

I talked it over with my husband and his blunt, do you think you can qualify, was enough to make me really think about it.  I said yes...I wouldnt do the race otherwise.  So with his support I signed up that night. 

The twist:  The triathlon is the Ironman Buffalo Spring Lake 70.3.  Its regarded as a 3/4 triathlon because of the challenging nature.  Whats the problem, I like a challenge, why else would I be considering this after two months of training, having a bike for 3 weeks and well I could count the times I have swam on my fingers. 

Then I saw the elevation chart...well shit.  8 challenging hills (in and out of a canyon...a freakin CANYON!) on the bike, and 3 on the run. 

We dont have hills in all...the wind is the closest thing.  So some treadmill training and gear mashing for me.  Shit I thought I would have a lot more time to figure out nutrition, transition, bricks and what I can do on the bike.  Well I was looking for a challenge, I got my fill.  Time to get to work.

A T-shirt turned me into a Triathlon Junkie

So on to the fun stuff, I figured I would start this to chronical my fight to finish my first triathlon...and to have a place to get out everything on my mind.  I know my husband, family and friends love me, but there is only so much they can stand hearing about my last swim, bike, run splits...which I'm sure sounds like gibberish half the time in my adrenaline/endorphine fueled recaps. 

I decided to do a triathlon when I heard there was a local one in town, the conversation came up over a t-shirt at run club.  Who knew someone wearing a t-shirt could change my life, pretty drastically.  I knew I wouldnt be able to run as much as I wanted coming back from the stress fracture, and I latched on to this idea of triathlon. 

The local triathlon is a sprint in July, and that seemed daunting at first.  I was riding on the stationary, knew I would need a bike and was overwhelmed by the selection of bikes, components, road bike, tri bike, rearsets and derailluers.  I had no idea what any of it meant, luckily my husband had raced mountain bikes when he was younger and understood the language of bikes.  I ended up getting a Specialized Transition Elite. 

Now I used to play on the race track with my Yamaha R6 motorcycle...the thought of two wheels with no engine was a new concept for me.  Can anyone say clipless actually want me to attach my feet to the pedals???  What if I fall over, what if they dont come undone.  All I could picture is a slow fall sideways, in front of a laughing crowd. 

Well turns out they are pretty easy to use once you get the hang of them...although that slow fall sure did end up happening.  Stopped to talk to some aquaintences on a ride...put the right foot decided it wanted to go left...luckily they didnt laugh...I dont know if I would have shown the same restraint :p

The bike has felt pretty comfortable so far, the swim is entirely another matter.  I never really had swim lessons, so my form is attrocious.  My endurance worse...the thought of 500 yards was a huge stretch when I would make it 25 across to the other side.  LOTS of work to do there.

I run 5k's pretty regularily so I wasnt worried about it, I would have to do a couple bricks to see how it feels off the bike, but at least I knew I wouldnt drown running. 

In true "Jenna-Caer" fashion, I started training much more than what is required for a sprint.  I already had my sights set on the Austin 70.3 in October.  I couldnt imagine what it would take for me to survive that swim and realize I would actually have to work on it, biking 56 miles....really??  The farthest I had gone was about a 14 mph that speed it would take me forever!

Now I've mentioned it before...I'm competitive...since I won that first 5k (1st female) and realized that I actually have some athletic ability that had eluded me through my school years I could not plan on doing a 70.3 just to finish.  I need to race it.  At this point I wasnt sure I could survive, never mind race so I had a lot of work to do.  So even though the only race I had commited to was a sprint I was putting in 10-12 hours of training with that 70.3 in mind...little did I know how much I would need those hours.

Ironman - Till I Collapse

Drive, determination, competition and a healthy dose of fear.  But I'm going to fight...till I colapse.
Welcome to my blog!  I'm new to blogging, new to triathlon, just bubbling over with inexperience and enthusiasm.

A bit about me: I'm a former seriously unathletic, overweight and uncoordinated person, turned running obsessed wanna be triathlete. This first one is a bit of my life story, triathlon training, thoughts and many many questions will be in posts to follow.

I was overweight working an office job, when I finally saw some unsightly strech marks and decided something had to change!  I had always been competitive in nature...I just wasnt very good at competing... I tried sports in school, badminton, wrestling, but never won.  I had drive and determination, just no skill or coordination.  So I joined the marching band... Anyways, my clothing size was increasing, but it was the dreaded stretch marks where I had enough.  I went to the gym near my office that day, and guess what, they had a competition to get into shape!  1st prize was a trip to Vegas, so my competitive nature took over.  2 months I lost 30lbs through cleaning up my diet and weight training with a personal trainer (no starvation diets here, I like food too much).  This put me in a healthy weight range, unfortunately I got second overall in the province...(oh yea I'm Canadian, Alberta grown, eh!).  My weight was up and down for a few years, periods of lots of beer and pool, and then back to the gym. 

Things changed from being in ok shape to great shape when I moved to Texas (work in oilfield services...suprise).  Alberta is the Texas of Canada so it wasn't a huge culture shock, with the benefit of the weather!  I had some time before my work authorization came through, so I got started with P90X, followed by Insanity.  I found if I kept myself interested I would stay in shape instead of the yo-yo working out and weight I had before.  So I was hungry for a new challenge.  Now for the record, I HATED running, I avoided it at all costs, my husband used to run in the mornings and I thought he was insane.  However I was looking for a new challenge, and I must have seen an ad for a marathon or something, but I decided I was going to do a half marathon. 

Seems like a great idea right?  I tend to be a little all over the place, and need to be kept entertained.  Sitting quietly is a nightmare for me.  I will read a book, while listening to music, while cooking dinner and stretching.  So the idea of running around in circles for hours had zero appeal for me, not to mention I could not run a mile without stopping to save my life!

Well I figured I better work on that and joined a running club.  I have to say its doubtful I would be here if it werent for that amazing group of people.  The first time I ran 3 miles (or 1 mile) without stopping was chatting with people on the club run.  Their enthusiasm got me excited, well that and the fact that it turns out there are RACES!  Queue competitive juices.  I ran my first 5k a few weeks later, ended up winning 1st female overall and I was hooked.  I ended up running a half marathon 2.5 months later and got 3rd female overall and decided marathon here I come!

(First 5K right before finish..I must have had more to give I'm still smiling)

So last year I went from not able to run a mile, to training 65 miles a week for a 3 months...which resulted in a pelvic stress fracture. 5 months later I was able to start doing low impact work biking (on a stationary) and swimming-ish (never had swim lessons so I'm going to call it swimming but experts may disagree)...well that got me thinking triathlon. Now I'm able to run again, finally got a bicycle, and can make it across the pool without drowning. Triathlon is my new obsession, and I've got an Ironman 70.3 in my sights. Should be interesting!

Before and Afters...before kept me motivated!