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!