Wednesday, April 27, 2011


My bib number for IMTX is 354

Holy schmoley. 

Also: there are 2685 participants.  With a mass start in a narrow lake... At its widest, its 500 ft?  And at its narrowest - maybe the width of 2 taxi boats? 

Commence freaking out.

Ramblings - IMTX Peak Week Edition

I'm at the point now where coherent thought is iffy but I have a whole lot of things rattling around in my poor little head.  Here's a sampling:

I am officially over snow and cold.  I woke up YET AGAIN this morning to see a dusting of snow on the ground.  Normally, I'd be "yeah, snow! awesome!".  But there's somtehing about this little race in Houston in nearly 3 weeks in 90+ degree temperatures that's not making snow so awesome right now.  Saturday I had a 2.5 hour ride / 1.5 hour run brick, and I decided to drive up to Longmont, ride around, then run on the St Vrain trail.  I didn't even close to Longmont before big puffy snowflakes started falling.  I about started crying right there.  I will put up with a lot of stuff, but I just won't ride my bike while its snowing.  So, I went back home to workout on my trainer, but mentally, I was defeated.  I really wanted to ride outside and while I know the trainer is actually a harder workout, I have little nagging voices in the back of my head, wondering if my race will be ok since I've been having to ride inside so much.

And speaking of 90 degrees, I really don't know what to do.  Ikeep reading on slowtwitch and beginnertriathlete about how IMTX will be a suffer fest because of the heat, but I really don't have a way to train for it.  Granted, I knew about this when I signed up for the race last June, but I had NO IDEA I'd move.  So, do I spend my taper sitting in a steam sauna?  Do I wear a bazillion layers while working out?  Do I just shrug my shoulders, knowing its out of my control?  Honestly, this heat thing is consuming about 90% of my thoughts - and mainly its frustration.  The heat is simply out of my control.  A very hard thing to rationalize for a control freak like me.

I feel a bit like a mental patient with these dissenting voices.  I've trained hard and I know I can do this.  I just don't know if I can do this (if that makes sense?).  Theoretical versus practical, with NO practical experience in this. 

I am at the point where I'm just tired and want to get this over with.  For nearly every workout, I'm having to give myself a pep-talk, just to get started.  Generally, once I get moving, I'm fine.  But wow, its a bit hard to get motivated (especially with snow on the ground).  Fortunately (or not?) my fear of "I won't be able to complete the race if I miss this one workout" provides the motivation to get up and moving.

Somebody at work on Monday stole my cheese that I had for my afternoon snack.  I was VERY cranky about this.  I'm now keeping my cheese in my lunch cooler at my desk.  Do not mess with a pre-IM athlete and her food.  The only thing keeping me from sending emails or being very crabby is that I'm still new here and I don't want to be "that person".

Chocolate milk is about the most awesome thing ever.  I'm going to be sad when I'm not drinking a half gallon a week, just because I need the extra calories.

Focus.... I have none.  Lets just say that work is um, interesting right now.

I cannot wait for taper, but I'm a bit worried that while I won't be logging crazy hours, I will still have crazy ass-kicking workouts.  Guess I'll find out in a few weeks.

We close on our house in a WEEK.  Still haven't thought much about logistics or moving, or anything like that.  (see above comment regarding focus).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dear Mother Nature

I am tired of seeing this while training for a race in southern Texas:

It was 90 in Houston today.  And snowing in Denver.  Please STOP WITH THE SNOW.  Its making my training very frustrating and not all that much fun.  That, and heat acclimation is never going to happen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On being a sponge

In the notes from my coach for recovery days, she always puts "time to absorb all the work you've been doing".  I joke with her that this makes me feel like a sponge.  The whole concept of absorbing is a bit alien to me.  At least until last night.

Normally, a recovery day/few days/week, to me, is just a break.  A time to get a bit more sleep, to heal my muscles, and catch up on life.  When I come off of recovery, sure my legs feel loose and a bit lighter, but generally, I don't feel all that much different.

Last night was a track workout.  I never ran track before last year (training for Boise) but I've grown to really like it.  Mentally, its almost like swimming.  You have X distance and Y pace and you need to figure out pacing to sustain, descent, etc.  What I like about it is that you have to think about what you're doing - and it also teaches you what a hard mile, half mile, etc feels like, so you can apply it to races.  For me, track workouts are a huge confidence builder.

Last night called for a 2 mile warm-up, then 5 sets of 20 sec strides, then 3 x 1 mile repeats at zone 4 heart rate.  I sprang into a fast, but relaxed run, looked down at my garmin and saw 8:45/mile pace.  Wowzers, no way I can sustain this for 4 laps, not to mention 3 repeats, need to bring things back a bit.  I usually try to descend my repeats, and really push my final one.  I messed up with my garmin for the first mile, but based on the pace numbers I was seeing, I bet my mile time was 9:30, maybe a hair faster.  Ok, lets push the second mile harder - came in at 9:15.  Now its go time for the last repeat - came in at 9:03. 

When I looked back at my logs from the past few months, my previous fastest mile was 9:25 and I was DYING. 

Last night, even though I pushed myself, I really improved my times without struggling.  There was no "omg, I'm going to die" feeling, like there usually is.  And even though I pushed the last one, I felt like I could have ran another 1 or 2 mile repeats.  Sure it would have hurt (a lot), but I could have done it.

Last year, a 6 mile track workout killed me.  Now, I leave it feeling like I could have done more.  Awesome.

I haven't been doing a ton of running lately, and I certainly haven't been doing much in the way of speed workouts.  The only thing I can attribute to this speed boost is my overall fitness and my recovery period to absorb my recent workouts.  I guess being a sponge is a good thing.

30 days to IMTX

Monday, April 18, 2011

5 weeks to the big show

First up: sunburn status..... my legs have tanned and started peeling yesterday.  The "tan" is a very awkward blotchy pattern that really looks like I have a skin disease or really awkward birthmarks or something.  My arms started peeling on Friday.  One band on my right arm turned into really tight leather which has peeled away to freshly red skin.  My back is a whole other issue.... its still VERY red around my strap-lines.    It finally quit hurting, but apparently even with 2 visits sunscreen slather people, I severely sunburned my back.  Awesome.

So, yeah, less than 5 weeks to IMTX.  I'm still not really sure how I feel about this.  I know that I can do the 2.4 mi swim and 112 mile bike.  Well, I've never ridden that far on my bike, but I'm pretty sure I can do it.  Its wrapping my head around the fact that I will be running a marathon AFTER doing both of those.  I suppose this is one of those "trust your training" things, where nothing about Ironman is logical, so you just have to trust that once you get off the bike, the run will just happen and everything will be fine.

What else is funny that while I'm still throwing down big hours every week (which normal people consider insane), I don't think that my training time is super insane.  Friday I only had to swim - that's it!  I had the afternoon for errands and then Will and I went to a pub by our new house.  Its funny, I really don't know what to do with any free time that I have, since I've had so very little of it for so long.  Last week was still a pretty heavy week (18 hours - including a 70.3 race).  But in reality, last week felt almost easy.  Yes, 18 hours of exercise, including a race, felt easy.  Monday and Tues were recovery days.  And I only had one day with 2 workouts.  EASY.  (Yes, I'm insane... I really don't know what to say about this).

This weekend was supposed to be a big bike challenge.  I swam 3,000 yards Friday morning then I had to bike ~70 miles.  My marching orders were "long steady ride, keep it all zone 2".  Well, with all the hills around here, the zone 2 limit is pretty challenging, so I decided to be pedestrian and do the Denver trail triangle - which is about as flat as any ride could be.  It also meant that I had to do zero route planning, which is nice.  (I'm getting very tired of planning out rides and then executing them by myself).  So, 70 miles and 4.5 hours later I was done and had plenty of energy left.    Sunday was supposed to be a 100 mile ride, as a test for IMTX.  I met a friend up in Boulder and we were going to do the Carter Lake loop.  About 30 min into the ride on Foothills Parkway, the winds were sooooo crazy, that we looked at eachother and knew that Carter Lake wouldn't happen.  I knew that there was no way I could ride 100 miles in those conditions.  Since I'm so close to race day, I really didn't want to risk a wreck just for the sake of putting miles in, even though I very much wanted to ride the 100 miles.  We ended up turning around and riding around north Boulder for a bit to get to 1.75 hours and a whopping 26 miles.  Then I got to spend 3 hours on the trainer.  No where near my 100 miles or 6.5 hours on the bike for the day, but what can you do.

Then today as I was fixing my food for the day, I actual had a debate on whether or not I "deserved" my chocolate milk today (for the calories).  I mean, I didn't get in my 100 mile ride.  (I still exercised almost 9.5 hours this weekend, which is still significant).  But not getting in that long ride made me feel like I was slacking yesterday.  (yes, 3 hours on the trainer = slacking.  really questioning my sanity here).

I guess this all just means that physically, and probably mentally, I'm close to being ready for IMTX.  When 9.5 hours of exercise over the weekend and 18 hours for the week seems EASY, that should mean I'm ready for 140 miles in under 17 hours, right?  At least that's what I'm hoping for.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Race Report: Ironman Texas 70.3 (2011)

I will start this race report by saying this was really just a long training day, in preparation for IMTX.  Just a day for a bit of pushing and getting the kinks worked out.

Since this race is now run by WTC, I wasn't expecting much of an expo.  I just showed up to get my packet, rack my bike, and maybe attend the athlete meeting.  Packet pickup was a non event, although they RAN OUT of swag bags (really? how do you do that?)  They're the same design as last year, so I'm not really torn up about it.    They had the same oddly sized K-Swiss race shirts as last year, and somehow I was smart enough to order a Women's Large, so it fits perfectly.  Then I went to rack my bike (a non-event).  Ran into my friend C, who had to run up to the hotel to get a sleeveless wetsuit from a friend.  We then went to the athlete meeting (sat in the back) and when the RD came on, we couldn't even hear him.  Then the crowd broke up and I guess the meeting was over.  Hopefully we didn't miss anything important (we didn't).  Then back up to Pearland, where I was staying with my friend L and her family.

I slept ok (was woken up by singing 2 year olds and my own stomach's grumbling - a few bites of a protein bar and I was zzzzzzz).  Got up at 4:40, left the house at 5, got to Moody at 6.  The line into Moody looked long, so I decided to be tricky and go in the back way by the air museum.  Fail.  This resulted in me having to park by the air museum, which was a LONG walk by myself with all my crap.  So much for being tricky. 

Transition set-up wasn't anything spectacular. Got all my stuff set up, said hi to my neighbors, stored by gear bag at a bike shop's tent.  Found C again, and we hung out until our waves started.  Pros left at 7 AM, my wave started at 8:35 and C's was at 8:40.  So yeah, we had time to kill.  We actually watched the pros come in to T1 after the swim, which was pretty cool.  Then we wriggled into our wetsuits, took a bathroom break, and made it over to the swim start just in time to get lined up. 

The water was 72 degrees, which is a bit warm for a full wetsuit.  I brought my speed suit with me and nearly used that, but my coach advised that "anytime you can use a wetsuit, you should".  It was windy, with the wind going away from land.  This meant that we had a tailwind going out, crosswind for the long stretch of the swim, and headwind coming into land.  Fun!  The swim start was uneventful, no thrashing or chaos, just a LOT of people in a small area.  It was choppy and I'm out of OWS practice, which resulted in sighting WAY too much.  My lower back didn't like this and decided to lock up, which limited my ability to kick with any sort of gusto.  In a way, this was probably ok, as my coach is always onto me about kicking too hard on the swim.  My kick this time was an easy 6-beat kick for rotation purposes only.  Once I made the first turn, something clicked and I just relaxed and settled into the swim.  Sure, it was choppy and I had people on me the whole time, but I just decided that this swim wasn't going to be fast, so I should relax and laugh at all the crazy.  I focused on putting my head down (ie not sighting so much) and working on my catch and a high elbow.  The swim felt pretty easy - I wasn't even really breathing hard.  I got up and out of the water, pulled my wetsuit down past my hips pretty easy for the stripper.  Hit the strippers and I was off to T1.

Very much out of practice here, as I just sat and stared at my gear for aa bit.  I made sure to spray sunscreen on my legs, but forgot to spray TriSlide on my toes.  I didn't remember about the TriSlide (even though it was next to my shoes) until after by bike shoes were on, and at that point, I just told myself  I'd deal.  On my way out of T1 I stopped by the sunscreen slathering table - my mission was to not get sunburned this year.  Miraculously, my pedals were set up perfectly for a quick start (I totally forgot to do this, so it was just dumb luck) and I was up and on my way.

So the course is a flat, windy out and back along Galveston Island.  I've been riding in Colorado in the wind and hills, so I was VERY interested to see how I would do.  Winds were ~18 mph from the SSE with gusts of 25 mph, so a bit stronger than last year, however, I was really hoping for a sweet tailwind at the turn around.  My "orders" for the ride were to stay 10 beats below target, but also to push a bit.  I was holding 15-16 mph pretty easily and decided to push a bit more.  This resulted in 2 things: my hamstrings getting tight, which then made my stupid inner thighs get tight.  I have no idea why my inner thighs give me such issues!  I tried stretching them while riding to no avail, and after the first aid station, my speed dropped to 13.7 mph - at mile 15.  Ugh.  So I decided it was better to stop and stretch than to suffer and have it get worse.  After stretching for maybe a minute, I was up and holding my pace again.  I tried pushing a few more times, but I'd get twinges of tighness.  Considering in the past, it would take that muscle one month to heal, it just wasn't worth it to push, as I've got IMTX in 6 weeks.

I hit the turn around and hurray!  I had a sweet tailwind :)  It wasn't a strong tailwind, but hey, better than it swiching directions like last year.  I could easily hold 18 mph on the way back and the last 10-15 miles I pushed it to 19.  I was secretly hoping for a 3:30 time and came in at 3:31 (still a PR).  I thought about pushing harder, but really, it wasn't worth it for the extra minute.  It was better that I come off the bike strong, which was the case here.

I also want to say how LUCKY I was to not get a flat tire.  Around mile 40, some kind soul dumped tacks on the course.  I saw 3 ambulances assisting injured people (presumably from getting a flat and wrecking at speed) and way too many people with flats.  That's crappy on so many levels.

Nothing special.  Shoes off, shoes on, helmet off, hat on.  I did stop by the sunscreen people again for good measure.

So, this was going to be the interesting part.  Last year, it was hot and I walked at least half of the run.  In Boise, I ran the whole thing with a time of 2:39.  This year, I'm stronger but not used to the heat.  My orders were to run the first loop easy (HR of 150) then gradually increase pace by each mile.  Immediately my HR jumped to 170, so I moderated my speed (I was running WAY too fast) and it came down.  I was really concerned about hydration, so I ran to each aid station then walked through, taking a swig of my concentrated Infinit, some water, and some ice along the way.  For the second loop, I pushed a bit faster (10:30 pace?) while still walking the aid station.  I think I took in too much Infinit (a swig every 0.8 miles) and my stomach was a bit crabby.  I reduced my Infinit intake to a swig every 2-3 aid station, which was much better.  I also think I drank a bit too much water, as I had to take a bathroom break in the third loop.  The third loop was the roughest - it was hot (they ran out of ice for the 2nd loop).  My legs felt ok but my overall energy was fading, so I ended up walking proably half of that loop.  The fourth loop I resolved to do better - I ran to the first aid station, then walked more, then did a run/walk thing sorta randomly.  I did push to the finish after the last aid station for a strong finish.  Based on my garmin, I really didn't think I'd PR, with all the walking and the bathroom break.  Somehow, I PR'd by 1 minute, definitely due to living in CO and my IM training.  When I was running, it was a ~10:00 pace.  That saved me.  My feet on the last loop were pretty unhappy on the soles, from being soggy for so long.  Even the texture of my socks (which I wear for every run) was hurting.  Doing double the distance will be interesting.  I think I'm going to get a seond pair of shoes/socks and put them in my special needs bag for the IM run.

I looked back and saw 8:31... I did some limited math and with my 1:35 start after the clock started, that put me under 7 hours (!!!).  I was hoping for 7:10....  I did this race last year in 7:26.   Totally crushed it, even with weird muscle issues and 2 bathroom breaks.  I then hobbled over to the massage tent, then got my  gear, walked to my car, and got a post-race victory Ben & Jerry's waffle cone, in something like "extreme chocolate".  :)

Nutrition Plan
 I think I did pretty good here, but I learned a few things.
  • Pre-race - just right.  Stomach was great for the swim
  • Bike: mixed up 4 hrs of Infinit, I drank probably 3.25-3.5 hours worth.  Also had 2.5 gels (1/2 gel every 30 min).  Supplemented with ~1.5 bottles of water, and also took in 1 salt pill every 20 min.  This was perfect, even though I had to take a bathroom break.  I'd rather have to do that than be dehydrated.
  • Run: Had Infniti concentrated with a 2 hour mix, I probably drank half of it.  For the first loop, I'd take a swig every aid station, but that was too much, so I cut it to every 2nd or 3rd.  Stomach quickly settled when I made the change.  Also took a salt pill at 1 hr and 2 hrs.  Probably could have taken more.  Also took 2-3 gulps of water at each aid station, probably a bit much as I had to make a pit-stop half way through, but I didn't want to get dehydrated.
  • Post-race: who doesn't love ice cream?

Swim: 40:24.  Shocking because I wasn't pushing it and conditions weren't great.  Technically not a PR (Boise was 40:08), but given that Boise was in a lake and smooth, and this was choppy with currents, I'm calling this a PR.
T1: 4:16 (almost a minute faster than my other HIMs!!!)

Bike: 3:31:52 (15.9 mph) 0-28 mile split: 1:54:03 / 14.73 mph, 28-56 mile split: 1:37:49 / 17.17 mph (which included a bathroom break) - PR!

T2: 2:45

Run: 2:38:55 (12:08 min/mile) - PR!

Overall time: 6:58:12  Sub-7 hours and a PR by 28 minutes :)  I had no idea I'd shave off this much time and I'm just super happy with my performance.  :)

Friday, April 08, 2011

Back in Houston

I'm back in Houston for a few days for work and to race Lonestar (aka Ironman Texas 70.3).  I'm a bit wiped from my IMTX course bike ride, so here's some observations in bullet form.

  • Its green here.  Trees are fully leafed out, the air smells like blooms, grass in green.
  • Its windy.  But at least for today's ride, it wasn't nearly as windy as last Saturday's Palmer Lake ride.
  • Traffic is bad and the drivers are crazy.  Also: rubbernecking.
  • I miss my friends.  I've done something with people every night since I got here.
  • The "hills" on the IMTX course are not hills.  There were maybe 3 that got my attention.  I never had to go into my small ring.  Awesome.
  • Its HOT.  Even with my Infit drink mix and taking some Enduralytes before the ride,e the heat still got to me.  The first 3 hours of the ride were awesome.  Then my HR got stuck at 162 bpm, much higher than my effort was.  Then I had a mental lapse and did a sweet sideways slow-mo crash while clipped in.  No idea what happened there.  I still had 30 min left on my ride schedule, but after riding back to the truck, I was slightly trembling and I had a pretty sweet heat headache.  Ugh, IMTX is going to be interesting....
  • The IMTX bike course is PRETTY.  I've missed riding up there in the forests. 
IMTX course in the National Forest.
pretty pastures and wide open road in Grimes County, IMTX course

Thursday, April 07, 2011

24-Hour Freakness

I'm in Houston for work and Ironman Lonestar 70.3.  I had ~2300 yards on my schedule, but since it was Thursday, that meant no Masters team to drop in on.  So, off to utilize my barely used 24 Hour Fitness membership. 

During my hour swim, I witnessed:
  • A guy that would alteranate btwn doing jumping jacks and this weird sort-of breastroke/treading water thing
  • A woman who was doing backstroke WITH A KICKBOARD under her back (trust me, she did NOT need flotation devices)
  • A dude in a way too small speedo who lacked the skills to back up the speedo.  Unfortunately, he was in the lane that was on my breathing side. 
  • This was accented by another guy (who looked like he was wearing boxer/briefs) who was in the pool for maybe 5 min, during which he sunk to the bottom of the 5' end (holding his breath) then swam across all the lanes to hang onto the wall and do a bunch of kicking.
  • Finally, after my workout, when I was in the locker room, there was a lady getting ready to swim (with a noodle) who pulled her suit on over her underwear.   
I could not make any of this up.  It was freaky.  At least I wasn't bored?  (and THANK GOODNESS I had a lane all to myself).

Friday, April 01, 2011

March 2011 Totals

FINALLY - a good solid month of training :)  Its amazing what not being sick and not having family emergencies will do to keep you on your training plan!

Bike: 38h 04m 21s - 542.28 Mi (almost double of what I did in Feb)
Run: 12h 17m 27s - 63.57 Mi (almost double of what I did in Feb)
Swim: 11h 30m - 31200 Yd
Core Training: 30m

Evaluation of March's goals:
Goals for March:
  • Survive training. More building and catch up in March. Lots of cycling. On hills. At altitude. My goal is to keep a positive attitude and keep working at getting better.  This has been a hard one.  Physically, I'm doing really awesome.  Mentally, its hard, mostly because I've done all of my runs and rides by myself, and the lonliness is really starting to get to me.  Last weekend all I wanted to do was spend a whole day on the couch.  But I still got up and out the door at my designated time and got in my workouts.
  • Figure out how to train in cold weather, even if that means treadmill. Or figure out what to wear when its cold and I run outside. Or figure out how cold is "too cold to run". It hasn't been cold at ALL this month, so I get a free pass on this goal :)
So, goals for April.....
  • Ride the IMTX course on April 8th to refresh my memory on the course, and hopefully give myself a confidence boost.
  • Use Lonestar as a training race, not a race-race.  Really try to run the whole run, even though it will be warm.  Still, I'm curious to see how I do on the race overall compared to last year, since my fitness is so much better. 
  • Get all my IMTX kinks worked out, specifically nutrition, clothes.  I switched to non-protein Infinit last week and I got a new Pearl Izumi Race kit for the IM.  Going to use Lonestar to test out both of these.
  • Stay healthy.
I've got a big month ahead of me :)