Saturday, April 25, 2015

Peak Weak is over...HEEELLLOOOOO Taper!

I saw this on the FB page for my tri club, and it is probably going to be accurate as the final weeks to IMTX unfold...but we shall see :)

I concluded the bulk of my training today, there are no more build weeks, and I survived Peak Week (the week with the highest volume in a training plan, for those non-tri folks).  It actually went really fast and really well!  I had my long swim on Thursday night, and other than getting a horrible case of black line syndrom, it wasn't too bad!  I was grateful when the aqua Zumba class started in the lane next to me, because let's just say they provided the entertainment for the second half of that long swim :)

Yesterday I took the day off with the intents of getting my bike off the trainer and doing my 100 miler outside.  Well, wouldn't you know it, we woke up to wind and rain.  Dangit!  I wasn't happy about that, but guess what?  The ride still has to get done!  So, I was trainer bound. I loaded up my TV tray next to my bike with 6 hours of water, and all the fuel that I need for my mammoth ride and then got the remotes all situated and I was good to go!  Netflix is a thing of beauty for occasions like this!

You know what?  It really wasn't that bad!  I don't know why, but last week's 90 miler seemed more painful than this one!  Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't fantastic, but it was bearable.  Of course I would have preferred being outside, but this wasn't pure torture either!  With the kids at school and IronSherpa at work, I had the whole day to ride away, no interruptions or anything else, so it worked out well that way!

Today was my long run.  It was supposed to be just 16 (you know you are training for an IM when you say "just" 16) but earlier in the week someone posted on FB about giving their bib away for the Striders 30 k (18.6 miles) race up in Eden.  I figured why not?  I might as well have someone else lay out the support for me, run with a group and get a medal at the end, and what's a few extra miles?  So, I did just that and had a blast.  I decided to really make sure I treated this as what it was, a training run, I really made sure to keep it reigned in, and kept a good comfy pace.  I woke up with my butt and legs already tired from yesterday's ride, so I knew not to expect much.  I was pretty bummed by all the people that passed me the first half of this run, but ya know what?  I passed them in the last 3-4 miles!  I was proud of myself for keeping a good conservative pace and being able to run the entire thing with the exception of the few aid stations.  I finished feeling strong too.  Yes, I was tired, but this run didn't totally kill me either.  I love it when you see training pay off in small ways like this!

With that, my Peak Week ended!  Now, I have to say, this makes me sad and excited at the same time!  Sad because I know that this journey is quickly coming to an end and I have loved every moment of it.  I have loved what I have discovered about myself this past year, and I have loved the training. I have been pleased with how with a specific goal in mind (one that has scared the crap out of me) I have never been more consistent in my training and I have seen results.  I have loved pushing my body week after week and seeing it do so well and bounce back and maintain injury free status!  I tell ya, the human body is the most amazing thing ever!  I am also sad because I still don't know what I want to do post IM.  I know that there are always more races and heaven knows I will do them, but I don't know what else will live up to this kind of journey, if that makes any sense.

I am also so excited that the hard work is basically done!  On the way up to Eden for the race this morning the song Hall of Fame by the script came on.  I seriously started bawling as I listened to it and was visualizing race day.  I am so freaking excited for it!  I know what it will be something else, and the unknowns are always there, but I know that I have put in the majority of the work, and I am excited to see what the day holds.

So, bear with me the next couple weeks.  I feel like I need the first  pic printed on a t-shirt and use it as fair warning for people that have to deal with me the next few weeks :)

In the meantime, Happy training, racing and TAPERING all!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


I am officially one month out from the biggest race of my life, Ironman Texas!  How am I?  The truth is that I am so excited I can't stand it! Seriously!  I am excited about every aspect of this, from the trip to Texas and the time with Ken sans kids, to meeting up with people from the IMTX Facebook group, to going to an Astros game, to attending race clinics, the welcome dinner, and most importantly...RACING!
A couple of days ago bib assignments were made, and I am #1198.  I have this really weird thing about numbers, and I love even numbers, so I am glad I got an even number.  I noticed when I was on my bike the other night that my sticker from IMStG 70.3 was still on my bike and my number for that race was 981, so it is kind the same?  That is a good reminder if I can survive that race and the crap day that was, I can do IMTX :)
When I look at this in real life terms, I only have 10 more days of hard training and then my taper begins.  I have a 90 mile ride this week, 100 next, and a 16 mile run both of the next two Saturdays.  My swim taper is only a week, I still have a few build weeks in that regard, but that is no big deal, as I am most comfortable in the water.
My bike is going good.  I am able to bike relatively pain free (regarding the shoulder/neck issues I have had) and I think my bike fit is the reason.  I am more comfortable for longer periods of time on it.  I feel that endurance wise I can handle these rides, it is just the boredom aspect (they have all still been on the trainer) that makes them tough.  However, Netflix is a thing of beauty on these rides and helps the time to pass relatively quickly.
My run is what it is.  The good thing is I don't hate running anymore, in fact it is quite the opposite.  I just wish I was faster.  I am running pain free.  My endurance is there, the two 16 milers I have done have been pretty fast, for me anyway.  It has helped immensely to do them with a good friend of mine who is training for her first marathon.  However, due to differing schedules, the next two will be solo, which I need to do, even though I don't want to.  On race day I can only rely on myself to get myself to the finish line, so doing these final two long runs solo will be good from that aspect.
Nutrition wise, I am where I should be.  I have finally figured out bike nutrition that will work for long rides, and though it won't allow me to live off of the course like I wanted to, it will work for me and keep my stomach happy.  For the run, I will be fine with what is on the course.
I have read many articles lately on race execution and feel that I have a good plan.  Basically, I will take it easy until I hit Mile 80ish on the bike, then maybe push it into Zone 3 based upon how I am feeling and the conditions.  And, I will break down the course into segments and do one at a time.  Way excited to see it all in action though!
I have also heard about the infamous IMTX window display at Lulu Lemon in the Woodlands Town Center, where they put all the participants names up.  Yeah, finding my name on this window just got added to my Texas MUST DO list :)

I guess the only downside to all of this is that, as excited as I am, I don't want it to end.  I have LOVED this journey...every bit of it.  The training, the learning, the pushing myself, the planning, etc.  I really don't know what I will do with myself after it is all done.  I know there are other races, and if this goes well I don't see myself being a "one and done" kind of person, but I do worry about all the build up and then the "what now?" feeling after the race.  Heaven knows I will always have enough on my plate, but it just won't be the same!
For now, I am riding the roller coaster where it is at and it is a wild ride.  Can't wait to see how the next 30 days go!  Happy training and racing all!

Traveling and Training!

I went to a conference for swim coaches in Seattle this past weekend.  I had to still train seeing as how I am in my peak training month for IMTX, but I managed to get it in.  I had to move something around with my plan, but I don't think any of the changes will impact me negatively.  I had to switch when my rest week would have been since I knew I wouldn't be able to get in long bike or run while in Seattle, so I switched them out for this week instead, which would have been my rest week.

I also realized that I wouldn't be able to bike at all, given I wasn't taking my bike nor would I have access to one while there.

I was thrilled to see the hotel had a gorgeous 25 meter pool.  I was able to get my swim training in with no problem.  I had the entire pool to myself when I was there at 5 am! (Yes, I know it is pretty pathetic that while on vacation I was up that early, but dang internal clock, I couldn't help it!)

The highlight of my training and of my trip was my Friday morning run.  I had mapped it out before hand on Mapmyrun, and had no idea of the area, other than it would give me the distance I was wanting and I could tell that it ran along Lake Washington.  It turned out to be awesome!  It started at my hotel in downtown Bellevue, but within the first mile it turned off into a super swanky and beautiful neighborhood along the lake.  It was cool and sunny out and just perfect!  I loved running in this quiet and pretty neighborhood!  I obviously didn't pay any attention to the elevation chart when I was mapping it because there were some brutal hills!  I made myself run them no matter how slow, and it was actually a fun challenge!  I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this run.  I love exploring new areas on foot and with running, and this was perfect for that.

I had several "you know you are training for an Ironman when..." moments on this trip.  Like the fact that I got up at 5 every morning to train.  Or the fact that I took just as much, if not more, training clothes than regular clothes, or that I was also asleep most nights by 9 because I was so tired.  Yep, can't get away from these things!

I was proud of myself for sticking to my training while I was gone.  I usually pack training clothes when I travel, but don't get around to it.  Maybe it is because I was sufficiently scared of what lies ahead of me that I didn't skip, but it turned out well.

In the meantime, Happy Racing and training all!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring Break Training and Welcome to Hell!

This week I am off for Spring break (one of the benefits of being a teacher).  Ken wanted to go somewhere as a family, and I told him that I couldn't get away and miss training.  April is peak Ironman training month and I just don't want to miss anything, nor do I want to try to fit it in on vacation, because that never goes as intended too.  He decided to take the kids and go camping with his brother and his kids in Southern Utah leaving me with 72 glorious hours to myself.  Hmmmmmm....what to do, what to do.....

I immediately knew I would call my fellow crazy friend Kim and arrange some quality training.  Kim and I met online (I love to say that, it just sounds so funny) on Beginner Triathlete and actually met up in person a year ago at IM StG 70.3.  We were instant kindred spirits.  We are both high school English teachers, both triathletes who love this crazy sport, and both quick witted. She is training for Ironman Couer de Laine. She is one of those people that just puts a smile on your face.  Anyhow, she lives in West Wendover, Nevada, about a 2.5 hour drive from me.  It was also her spring break, so this was going to work out perfectly!  She has always told me a ton about her swimming at a natural spring lake called Blue Lake that is about a half hour south of her.  I am so envious that she gets to swim in such a place year round and told her someday I would love to come and join her.  Well, this week was finally time to try it!

I arrived yesterday afternoon and we met for Mexican food.  We then went back to her house and watched a documentary called The Distance about 3 different Age Group athletes that are all training for IM Wisconsin.  It followed them throughout their year of preparations, jobs, family, etc leading up to the race.  Kim and I sat and laughed, nodded our heads in agreement at parts, or simply made fun of the people in the film.  We also had many "What the crap have we signed up for" moments where we just looked at each other and thought we have indeed truly lost our minds.  Good film, but honestly, if you are not a triathlete, it may bore you to tears.

It is very pretty out there!
We got up this morning and went trail running first.  Both of our plans called for a one hour run.  We drove a couple of miles out of town (not hard to do, it is in the middle of nowhere) where we parked the car and she took me on her favorite trails. It was fun, dusty, hilly, windy, and a great work out.  Thank heaven the wind calmed down though!!  I thoroughly enjoyed this run, but couldn't wait to swim :)

We went back to her house, ate a quick breakfast, changed clothes and were off to swim.  We took my Jeep and she directed me down to a State Highway that you follow for awhile, then turn onto a gravel road, that turns more into like a 4 wheeling kind of road.  There are only two signs telling you where to go, and you could easily miss them and even after that it is a series of twists and turns on this road to get you to literally the middle of nowhere.  There is this gorgeous Caribbean blue lake amidst the tumble weed and rocks.  Kim explained that she even comes here when there is snow everywhere because it stays around 70 degrees year round.  With a wetsuit on, that is a perfect temperature.  Weather today was around 45, windy, and sunny.  Very chilly, but, like she said, once we were in the water, it was perfect.

Two soon to be IronWomen!
Blue Lake is a popular spot for fishermen, scuba divers, and others, but today it was just us and two guys that were fishing.  The lake is pretty shallow along the perimeter, but will then quickly drop off to pretty much bottomless.  Apparently a plane is down there somewhere.  I immediately noticed as we were swimming that it is crystal clean and you can see pretty white sand right below you.  You can also see fish as well as you swim.  So freaking cool!  I was in immediate heaven out here!  I tried to swim the perimeter as Kim explained she does, but it would all of a sudden be too shallow and I was dragging knuckles and would actually get out and walk to where it would drop off again and I could swim.  I eventually just swam back and forth across it and practiced sighting.  I had several "All is right with the world" moments while doing this.  There was something magical, liberating, and freeing about looking up at a clear blue sky with sun and clouds surrounded by dessert, then looking down into the water on your down stroke and seeing the blue water, the fish, and the white sand.  I was like a kid at Christmas.  Pure heaven.  It reminded me how of all the workouts that we do as triathletes, open water swimming is my true Happy Place.  I loved every second of it.  With the wind, the waves got choppy at parts and I made myself swim against the chop for practice, and even though I wasn't going fast, I felt like it!

Our hour swim went way too fast.  It honestly felt like playing, not like "training" at all.  I got my planned 2600 meters in (thank you Garmin!) and we then had to get out of the water into the cold and get back to the car.  It wasn't even that bad!  It made for such a fun training day and I loved doing it with Kim!

This brings me to another thought I have been having.  I am now just a hair over 6 weeks from race day.  That is four weeks of solid training and a two week taper.  Holy Crap is that coming fast!  So, pretty much that means that the month of April is brutal as far as training goes.  As I look at Training Peaks and what it has in store for me over the next month, I truly believe if I can survive this month, I can survive anything, and that includes the race itself :)

I have now started referring to April as Hell Month for that specific reason.  Other than next weekend when I will be in Seattle, every Saturday has either a 16 mile run or some horribly painful brick workout.  This is along with the Friday night long rides which in all reality will most likely be on my trainer and are now up to 5 hours in length and getting longer.  The "short" work outs in the middle of the week are longer and more intense as well.  Like I said, April is now Hell Month :)

But, in keeping perspective on all of this, I know it will fly by.  I am loving it, as much as I dread it in the weeks ahead.  I have loved this journey so far.  It has gone too fast.  I have had ups and downs and moments where I am feeling like the strongest woman in the world and others where I lay in my bed at night and wonder what the heck did I get myself into and how much did I pay for this???.  The other night was one of those.  I was trying to break down how the day might go.  I visualized the swim, getting out, changing in T1, then getting on my bike.  Then I started to think about how I wanted to break the bike into segments as the whole thing will probably take 6-7 hours. Then I had a thought..."what the crap are you doing?  You don't even like riding that long!  It makes your butt hurt! Who the heck does that?  Did you not learn anything from the Triple Bypass?  But OH NO!  You didn't learn!  Because you are going to top that off with a full marathon because you wouldn't have suffered enough already, huh?  Did you forget how much you hate marathons???  Whatever happened to being content with 70.3s?"  So yes, I had a little mental meltdown. There may or may not have been tears involved.  Don't worry, after a day of training like today, I am over it :)

So, that is where I am at.  I am training well, feeling good, and enjoying my break.  I am committed to seeing these next 42 days till Go Time through and can't wait to see what it looks like from the other side :)  Happy Training and racing all!

My version of Heaven on Earth.  Thank you God for days like today and places like this!