Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Craving my workouts

I said I was feeling fired up, and my body has started to recover and the numbers are showing it.

Last two days of training have been a dream.  Yesterday I had a double run, both of them at MAF effort (aerobic runs), and today it was a long ride of 5 hours with some intensity.

Run # 1 - 8 miles

Last week my legs felt heavy after my bizarre hunch back-esque running form in Barcelona.  I was disappointed in my run there, a couple weeks earlier I ran 7:40 pace for a 22 mile long run, and Barcelona I end up around an 8:30 pace with legs feeling good but back not cooperating.  It felt so good to have a run where they felt like they were back to their pre-race smoothness.  I chose a hillier route and it felt like everything was just moving in sync.  One of those runs where you feel like you are floating along, just running for the joy of it.  Smiling to myself the whole time, enjoying the feeling.  I just wanted to keep going.

Luckily for me there was Run #2 - 5 miles

Nothing too exciting here, legs felt good from the first step and enjoyed a bit more time on my feet.  Went for a flat course, put it in cruise control and just felt relaxed comfortable effort at 7:40 pace.

Bike Ride!

I've been just loving my time on the bike lately, I'm miles away from where I was a couple months ago.  I procrastinated getting out on the roads to ride, because the small roads with no shoulders in Scotland made me really nervous.  I've been riding for about a year and I stayed on the trainer longer than I should have out of fear of the road, something I definitely had to get over.

Well I'm over it baby.  I looked at my schedule and was excited to see 5 hours on the bike today with some work in Zone 3, and playing with Threshold.  Time to play!

I think I got complacent with my bike riding before Barcelona, I would hit the prescribed watts, but on steady rides I would just go easy on the low end of the scale.  I was not even getting my HR into zone 2 on most rides, but the watts were just inside the prescribed range, no reason really just complacency and lack of focus.  No more of that crap, I realised there is a difference between just doing the workout, and really making the most of the workout.  As long as my body feels good, I'm going to make the most of the workout (listening to my body will still be priority though!).

It was a typical Scottish day (damn do I miss Texas) with some blustery wind and rain.  I started off and my legs felt average, not great, not bad.  Usually I do a weight training session before my bike ride that seems to spark up my fast twitch muscles fibers and usually has me feeling good from the start, but it wasn't on the schedule today because I was planning on swimming in the evening.  So started pretty relaxed hoping they would warm up, I got through my intervals feeling pretty good just enjoying the speed and feeling of my legs turning over.

The last one was 20min just going hard, TT effort.  I have a hard time out on the road doing a TT effort, on my trainer I just put my head down and push until I can barely breath and everything is screaming to stop.  I cant seem to come near replicating that on the road, part of it is I'm still working on being able to apply even power with the constantly rolling hills.  Texas and on the trainer it was easy, just pick a gear and keep pushing it until you are about to explode!

Whew glad thats done with...1.5 hours to go after a hard effort and my legs feel...AWESOME!  Well it only took 3.5 hours but I had this burst of energy, and my legs felt like they were firing on all cylinders finally feeling their usual spark.  So I kept it in my MAF heart rate, but went closer to the high end and just powered along enjoying the hell out of it.  I think this is the 3rd time I've gone over 4 hours (2nd time was last Friday) and so happy to finish something like that feeling great.

90 miles, 4900 ft, 18.4 mph

12 Weeks to Ironman.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fired up!

So Barcelona didn't quite go to plan.  I was so excited to get out there and do a half with some consistent training, especially since my run is in a place I've only dreamed of and I'm loving my time on the bike.  I thought it was a given that I would crush my PB even with the extreme bike course and ocean swim, but that didn't quite happen.  

Well that just got me fired up.  

Brush it off and I just want to go out there and nail every training session, I'm back to just craving every bike run and swim (well maybe not the swim but ill get it done) Unfortunately I picked up a bit of a cold on plane ride home that has had my HR high the last few days, but I slept like 10 hours last night and woke up feeling good.  So I'm ready to push, hungry for some solid hard work.

On the bright side I learned a lot from this:

1) Don't do something new on race day (duh, I know) I'm always so worried about riding aero on training rides, well maybe (just maybe) I should race that way then - rode a recovery ride today all upright and my lower back was aching, it's usually the opposite for people!  I have never had so much as an ache in my back, but learned a weakness before Ironman - I could stumble through a half looking like a hunch back, a marathon is a whole other beast.

2) Get out and swim in the damned open water - 2nd open water swim, 2nd near panic attack where I can't put my head in the water the first few 100m.  Huh doesn't take a genius to see that pattern. It doesn't matter what I can swim in the pool if I loose 10 minutes just freaking out.  

3) I can eat a hell of a lot on the bike and feel good.

4) Transition is not the time to rest, just because everyone is is taking their damned time and doing their hair doesn't mean I should too.  I've never done transition well outside of Duathlon, and there is no good reason for it, just need to get my head in the right place and ass moving!

5) Post race beers are the best beers, and hot sauce is terrible on fries. 

So I signed up for another 70.3, it won't be a priority like this race I just want to get together and put together a good day for Ironman. I'm starting to learn that experience is a valuable asset that I dont have much of, this was triathlon #4 (2 sprint 2 70.3).  

Even writing this, all I can think about is my run tomorrow, I cant wait to get out there!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

12 Weeks to Ironman

Holy shit, this is coming up fast...that is all.

Challenge Barcelona & meeting Chris "Macca" McCormack

Challenge Barcelona European Middle Distance Championships
2nd 70.3 a European championship…seems like a good idea right?  Why not, I can make the distance at least it will be an experience.  Definitely the best race I've ever been to and like nothing I've experienced.  I really loved it in a brutally hard day kind of way :) I haven’t quite cracked this distance, I made a few mistakes that made it a long day.
I’m feel like I'm better at running races and duathlon’s, they are all about just going out and suffering.  Suffering I can do, I LOVE going hard and just seeing how close to the edge of spectacularly exploding I can get.  70.3 and Ironman seem to be a bit more elegant than that.  
I had a couple reasons to head to this race.  It worked well with my schedule with Ironman in August and it was in Spain and after living in Scotland for the last 8 months I needed some sun.  I’m solar powered and haven’t been getting my sunshine hit.  To top it off had the opportunity to meet an idol of mine, a guy who knows how to suffer, Chris "Macca" McCormack.
Got a chance to go for lunch with Macca before hand, get to know him a bit and hear some very entertaining stories about his experiences.  If anyone knows the history of triathlon its this guy, his enthusiasm and love of this sport comes through in so many ways.  You always hope when you meet someone you have looked up to they dont turn out to be a douche bag and full of themselves, and luckily Macca wasnt.  Just a down to earth guy that loves what he does.

This was almost funny to watch the start, I swear it took our wave 2 tries to just get into the water!  We would run in, massive wave would knock half of us down, knocking down the others, get up and run in again!!  I’ve never swam in the sea before and I was kind of terrified.  I should have gone in the days before to get used to it but honestly I was scared.  I started learning to swim a year ago and open water is still tough!  I had a teensy panic attack the first 200m, I couldn’t put my head in the water until after the buoy when I finally calmed down and just got into a rhythm.  The waves made it hard to sight, but it was actually fun going up and down :p I got off course (leave it to me in a straight line swim) but ended up swimming about 2250m – not that I needed the extra distance!
WICKED!!  I only got passed by 7 guys and passed hundreds of people.  Pushed uphill, and I was worried about loosing a lot of time on the descent, but motorcycle skills kicked in and I didn't get passed at all on them and passed a lot of people, crazy counter steering on a bicycle!!  What an adrenaline rush. I used to race supersport motorcycles and I have to say that descent was right up there with the feeling of your knee dragging along the concrete with 600 cc’s underneath you, the best part of the race for me.
BUT I did make a mistake that I know for Ironman now, when climbing we were going like 8mph so I got out of aero position and was on my handle bars for a power advantage.  Well, I never do that in training, I’m always aero.  My lower back started hurting, half way through I made the connection and dropped back down into aero and the pain went away…but the damage was done.
Now I love running off the bike, I know a lot of people feel heavy or dead legs off the bike, but even after my hardest lactic threshold work my legs feel good off the bike, at least for the first 3 miles.  It feels like they are locked into a tight form and pulling me forward.
Unfortunately this time PAIN!!  So frustrated, my legs felt fantastic, but my lower back was just in agony.  I’ve never even had so much as an aching back after a long bike ride, its just never been an issue.
It gets better – it suddenly seized up causing me to fall ass over tea kettle, landed on my knee and elbows and bloodied my hip as well about 1.5k into the run…right on the carpet area on the finish line – there are much better reasons to end up with carpet burns than face planting in a race ;)  One of those things you just have to laugh, and think at least the finish line photo will look kind of bad ass with blood dripping down.
As long as I could stay upright my legs felt great, but my back kept tightening pulling me into a hunched over, bent at the waist position.  I almost fell over the finish line it had tightened so bad, I was almost at 90 degrees.
You know what though, even though I was having a bad run, it was easier to let it go with the amazing level of crowd support on the race course.  Loved how many people showed up to cheer us along, and I know it kept my ass moving.

The day was made better though but the awesome after party.  Getting together with the group, the man himself Macca and partying with some big personalities.  Lots of beer, stories told and shenanigans had.  I could not have imagined how the weekend would end, and it was pretty unforgettable.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coordination of a Drunken Sailor

Challenge Barcelona Half is 8 days away!! 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run :)

I should be out riding my bike right now but I'm sitting with a bag of ice on my knee.  Not for any glamorous reason, like an over use injury, or crash on the bike....  Jogging in a parking lot, I tripped over my own feet a rabid squirrel that jumped under my feet and proceeded to steal my cupcake!  Ok maybe there was no squirrel...unfortunately no cupcake either.  Now my knee is a swollen bloody mess, I went back to work and tried to demo a lunge for a client and fell over, my knee didn't agree.

I guess its not the worst timing, a week should be more than enough time to heal up, I know I've put in good training leading up to it, so missing a bike ride, and possibly a run wont derail my race.

Its more just the mental side, I enjoy being out there, and my last few bike rides where I should be dialling in specific race watts have not gone to plan.  Between power meter issues, a cold, a car crash (minor I'm ok car is ok) and now this I dont know that I have a feel for that race effort.  I was shocked at the difference going from riding on the trainer to riding on the road.  In Texas it was easy to choose a gear and stick with it, and you would have even effort, here its constantly changing and applying constant power over changing elevation its something I still need to work on.

I have mixed feelings about the bike.  I've been looking forward to each ride, enjoying my time outside and the workouts.  However my legs have been feeling heavy, watts getting harder, I know I'm not getting less fit, the fatigue is building as it should.  I've been doing some decent time on the bike, but I feel like my muscles have been the limiter lately, they tire before my HR becomes a factor.  I know some rest will freshen them up, I just feel like I have no top end lately.

On the other side, my run has been going amazingly well.  I just feel bullet proof lately!  I had a 22 mile run last week that went incredible.  Motivation was just average last Sunday, not my usual excitement to get out there but threw on my running shoes, loaded up with gooey gels and head out.  The goal was to find MAF effort pace and then hold onto that pace while effort built.  It could not have gone better, I kept it comfortable to start and felt better and better as I went, got an hour in and it was time to keep the pace going while effort built.  I loved it, and felt strong, gone is the breakdown that I used to experience on these long runs.  The last 6 miles were definitely effort, but finished feeling remarkably good for 22 miles, it was so hard not to say screw it and run the last 4.2 to a new marathon PR!

Pace on Sunday 7:40
Marathon PR Pace 8:10

Post run consisted of beers on the back lawn while getting to know our neighbours.  It was a great Sunday.  I also realised any ability to tan that took 2 years to build up to in completely gone... Last thing I expected in Scotland, a sunburn...looks like I'm back to my pasty red head ways :p

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I'm Baaack! 15 mile Trail Race Report

Oh man so life got in the way a little bit.  I started working again, and its been an adjustment fitting in training and trying to start a new Personal Training business and build a client base.  Luckily it seems like things are going to smooth out now, and I have a bit of a rhythm again.  The client base came a lot quicker than I thought, I think the best thing I've had in my corner is the ability to relate. I was overweight working the desk job, never played any sports in school, generally as sedentary as possible.  Thats why I got into this I want to show people its possible to change, and hopefully share my passion for health and fitness.  Its a daunting task to take that first step, and it still bizarre thinking of myself as an athlete.


This was the most relaxed I've ever been going into a race, to the point I was almost lazy in my preparations for it.  I didn't really take the time to plan nutrition, or set any pacing or HR zones. I raced a sprint triathlon the weekend before (race report to come) had a decent training week and was really just running this for fun.  Although fun doesn't mean that I was going to jog along the whole route, ready for it, fatigued, whatever, if I'm on the race course I'm going to push, I can jog around for free :p

Dont get me wrong I was planning on doing well in this race and wanted a podium spot, and if anything the plan was to go out strong and keep increasing the effort to all out in the last few miles.  It seems like running races are just so much easier than triathlon, I know how to push myself running, mentally I feel strong in running races, there is no excuses of saving myself for the next leg like multisport. 

So the morning started with a nice drive, the race was about an hour and a half away.  I was in a weird mood not feeling the usual race day stimulation so I decided to take the back roads, put the car in "SPORT" mode and enjoy some windy twisty country side and get my stimulation that way.  

I love the feeling of my car in sport mode, the suspension stiffens, steering tightens, turbo kicks in earlier, it feels like a whole other beast.  I remember thinking thats how it is when I race, its the same legs, heart and lungs pulling me along, but my form tightens, wasted movement is eliminated, everything is driving towards being as efficient as possible.  Sounds kind of lame on paper :p  It was odd, I know 15 miles is a long distance especially when racing intensity is introduced, but the distance just didn't feel like a big deal.

So lining up, ok here it is, I'm ready to go, in a rush that hunger to win is sparked up, and I want this, just in time for the gun to go off.  Insanely windy day, 25mph with gusts of 40, I'm starting to get used to that in Scotland.  

And we're off, head on into the wind, goal number 1 try to find someone going a simular pace and draft off of them.  Luckily found a group of guys to draft behind.  There were 2 women in front of me that just took off, I had thoughts of going with them but the sub 6:30 pace was beyond me, I can do that maybe for 5k so off they went.  I went a little faster than I thought I would in the beginning but the draft advantage was huge, there was a big gap between our group and the one behind me and running into the wind myself would have taken a lot more energy, and it wasn't anything I couldn't handle.  If I was going anaerobic to keep up I would have backed it off.  

This was the most beautiful run I have ever been on, it was a true trail race.  At most a quad would have been able to follow the route, but any other vehicles wouldn't have made it.  I definitely still have a bit of weakness on going uphill but make up for it in the downhill.  I was playing yo-yo with the group around me, they would surge up the hill and I would catch back up on the crest and downhill.  I seriously feel like the road runner going downhill legs turning over crazy fast and slightly on edge out of control feeling is so much fun.  

Then came "The Hill" 2 miles of an uphill grind, I dont know that I pushed this as much as I could, it was a tough terrain running on just big rocks. I knew there was a flat section and then a massive downhill to the finish so I kept it pretty moderate and fuelled and hydrated on the climb....well tried to hydrate...found out the bottle in my back pocket had completely emptied in the previous miles...found out after I ate the gel...2 miles until the next water stop with gooey gel coating my mouth!  This is where I started planning the race to the finish, I had been passed by 3 women on the climb and I kept them in sight planning to pass them when we got to the top.

We got to the top of the climb and what a view!  Looking over vast hills and valleys it was stunning.  At this point my HR monitor went a little screwy or my HR was depressed, we hit the top of the hill and I started pushing, breathing was through the roof it wasn't much farther to go so I was going hard, but HR didn't reflect the effort.  At this point I just started picking off the women in front of me, I got in front of all 3 by the last 2 miles of the race.  I thought it was all downhill from there, and I knew that I was stronger on the downhill portion so I figured I had it locked.  

Guess again...something that wasn't on the elevation chart...a half mile of 15-18% grade all off road, just grass and rocks and the faintest outline of a trail going what felt like straight up!  Oh man this is going to hurt, I just gave it everything to get up that damned hill.  The other women weren't far behind me and my lead was being whittled down.  Hit the crest still in the lead, and bombed downhill at a slightly manic pace, hopping over rocks and tree branches just trying to stay upright, I loved that part!  

Woot 1st in the Senior Division (20-39 AG)!!  So first off road race was a success, and I absolutely loved it.  I think some of the strength work that I've been doing really helped me get through it being able to take a few more risks on the terrain.  I've been working on overall strength training but specifically a lot of lower leg strength training and some single leg skipping, I think it made all the difference on the day.  Congrats to the women who won it and broke the course record, a blistering 6:30 pace over a crazy course!

So that was a really long rambling race report, I just finished a 22 mile run so I'm still in that post run bliss and may be a little dehydrated, so enjoy!