Monday, February 25, 2013

Blizzard training

Yesterday was one of those days where it really tests your mental toughness. 

I had a 2.5 hr easy bike (in the comfort of my basement), followed by a 30 min run.

No big deal.  Except for the fact that it was near white out conditions and ~6-8 inches of snow had fallen.


Time to put on the snow gear, dig out the yak trax and hit the door.  Suck it up, Buttercup because Ironman isn't for wimps.
normally you'd be seeing my neighbor's house and the street behind me.
I wore too much stuff, but I decided it was better to be warm.  And my ski jacket is highly visible and I had a feeling there'd be snow plows out.  My ski goggles were awesome for keeping the snow out. 

Also: I realized that my running shoes match my ski jacket.  Sweet!

Running with Yak Trax is always a bit weird.  Your feet almost feel bouncy.  I was glad I had them, though, as there was ice hidden under the snow.  My HR monitor was acting up, probably because I wasn't sweaty enough.  I didn't bring any water to drink and I surely wasn't going to stuff a fistful of snow down my shirt to get the thing to work.  So I just listened to the thing beeping at me, thinking I was at ~170 bpm.

typical running conditions
Once I got used to the feeling like I was running on Hoth, I had a fun time.  I was hoping to keep to flat roads (there are none in my neighborhood) so I ran down to the trailhead.  It was plowed earlier and I ran about 10 steps and realized the snow was too deep and the footing was uneven, so I turned around.  When I turned around I was greeted by two deer (does) hanging out.  I love my neighborhood.
action shot
So up the hill I went, exploring roads that I haven't been on.  I enjoyed waving at the cars, full of people with the heaters likely on full blast.  I saw two snowplows and was thankful for my crazy bright jacket.  I was actually roasting by the end and removed both gloves and unzipped my jacket most of the way.  All my vents were open on my ski pants and jacket too.  Pretty ironic, roasting during a run in a blizzard.

This was one of the funnest runs I've done in a while.  It was really hard to motivate myself into going outside, from the warmth of my home.  But once I got out there, I enjoyed the quiet and the falling snow, and the overall feeling of badassery. 

Colorado is awesome, no matter what season.

post run awesomness

pretty sure Brooks didn't have this in mind when they designed the PureFlow2 shoe!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snowman Stampede 10 Miler Race Report

This was the third and final installment of the local Winter Distance Series.  I signed up for the long series (10k, 10 mi, 10 mi) hoping that it would keep me motivated to run.  I think it did.  I had fun at the races (it helps the weather was amazing each time) and I saw improvement with each race.  I didn't set any PRs, but I didn't expect to, being so close after a major injury.  It was nice to be on the same course each time, as that made comparing races really easy.  I would definitely sign up for the series in the future.

That being said, we were really lucky that it wasn't freezing out or snowing.  I wore shorts and a tank top for the final race and now I have tan lines.  Sweet!

I did better this time, getting there a tiny bit early.  I had my usual 100 calories of First Endurance Liquid Shot with some of their Pre-Race mixed in.  I did a 10 min warmup.  It should have been more like 15-20, but hey, its better than the 5 min I did the month prior!

Race Strategy
Last month's 10 miler was a bit of a disaster.  I was controlled through the first 5 miles but then I ran too fast after the turn around, partially because I felt good and partially to catch up with my friends.  I then wanted to die after 7.5 miles and found myself in negotiations with myself to complete the race.  Not awesome.  I also carried a small container of Liquid Shot with me and took big gulps of it at mile 5 and 7.5.  I don't know if this contributed to my poor performance and my stomach also wasn't thrilled with being hit with a surge of calories all at once.  Also: it was a pain to carry my hand-held water bottle AND the LS flask.

This time I wanted to start out conservatively to mile 5, then s-l-o-w-l-y increase pace.  I also mixed ~300 calories into my hand-held with water for more consistent but diluted calorie intake.

Not a ton to report.  I'm glad I wore a tank top and shorts.  I warmed up with sleeves on as well and ditched those before the race started.  Good call, because it was pretty warm out.

I was very conservative, keeping my HR down around 155 bpm for the first 5 miles.  I was shooting for an 11:00 pace but I was actually a bit faster.  I stayed on plan and increased my HR to ~160 for miles 6 - 7, 165 to mile 8 - 9, and than ran as hard as I could for the final mile. 
The result: I finished strong and didn't die.  There was no negotiating with myself.  I finished nearly 3 min faster than the previous race, at a pace 16 seconds/mile faster.  And I felt like it was a good, solid effort and I left it out there during that last mile.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Tuesday morning run in Tempe

I was in Phoenix last week for work.  I was trapped in meetings all week - seriously, 3.5 days of SOLID meetings.  I got worked.  That meant I had to get my workouts done at o'dark-thirty, before the meetings started. 

Tuesday was my usual interval run:

Warm-up 5 minute walk then 10 minute easy jog.

3x15min (5 min. easy jog (HR less than 140), 5 min hard run (HR btwn 150 and 160), and 5 min medium run (HR less than 150).  Plus an additonal 5 min with a HR less than 140. 
Cool down at least 5 minutes
I slept poorly and was a bit nauseous when I woke up, which is weird, because that never happens.  I sucked it up and headed out.  I decided to run along the IMAZ course at Tempe Town Lake.  It was 5 min from my hotel, flat, and well lit.  My legs didn't feel all that great going into it, but I was having fun running on new terrain, taking in new sights.

Legs ended up feeling awesome and I managed to run a full minute FASTER than normal.  Thank you lower elevation. 

The bridges were lit up and the sun was starting to rise, so I snapped a few photos.  I miss running in the mornings.  This run was definitely a special one.
Mill St Bridge looking west, all lit up


pedestrian bridge with fabric awnings and blue lights
sun rising over Tempe Town Lake, looking east towards the Mill St Bridge

Friday, February 08, 2013

Because I'm a data nerd

IMTX and IMCDA don't exactly have the same training calendar - CDA is a month after TX.  Still, I was curious to see how my January 2013 stacked up against my January 2011.  I also love spreadsheets, so behold:
Ok, this doesn't look super great, mainly because while my excel skills are awesome, my HTML skills are the opposite of awesome.

Swim:  I am kicking booty.  Not only have I swam WAY more in Jan 2013, but I am swimming nearly 200 yards faster per hour.  I was with a masters team both months (and swam solo a few times both months).  Maybe the fact that I'm in a meters pool now is contributing?  I dunno.

Bike: Jan 2011 was partially on a spin bike (I conservatively estimated 12.5 mph for those 8 hrs) and on the road.  Jan 2013 had one road ride and the rest were trainer rides.  While in 2013, I am short by nearly 100 miles in distance, my pace is dead even from 2011.  Considering that in 2011, 55% of my time was spent riding outside, which is typically faster, I'm pretty dang happy with a dead even pace difference.  I'm curious to see how my pace does once I'm on the road more.  Also, I lost 2 potential bike days because I was skiing, so I may have had another 4-5 hrs and 50-60 miles.

Run: I ran nearly 13 more miles in 2013 than 2011.  Cool!  My pace is 0.2 miles/hour slower this year, but considering how many recovery runs and MAF runs I have with heart rate limits and ~12:30 paces, I'm actually suprised I'm slower by such a small amount.  I think my tempo intervals and my 10 mile race speeds are faster than 2011, which is helping to even things out a bit. 

  • Swam 60% more distance at a faster pace.  Cool.
  • Rode 40% less but at an equivalent pace, despite all of 2013's miles were on a trainer.  I'm ok with that.  A bit afraid of March when the bike starts to ramp up, but we'll just have to deal with that when it happens!
  • Ran 20% more but at an overall slower pace (36 seconds per mile slower).  But considering that the majority of my runs are MAF runs or recovery runs with HR limits of ~140, which have substantially slower paces, I'm ok with only being a hair slower than 2011.  Especially when I ran significantly more miles!

Thursday, February 07, 2013


I've owned Buzz since January 2009, when I walked into my local bike shop and officially began my journey as a triathlete.  Buzz was the first non-knobby tired bike I had owned, since my 15 speed I had as a kid.  I still remember the day I got him.  I tried out several other bikes but he was - luckily - the one that fit the best.  And he was on clearance.  And obnoxiously yellow.

I loved him right away. 

It was a bit scary riding him at first, being a TT bike, he was a bit wobbly.  As I got used to riding aero more, we had grand adventures.  Click on the bike tag linky thing, our adventures are well documented.  We've ridden fast on the flats, nearly been blown away by the spring winds on Galveston Island, raced a ton of races, had miles and miles of solo adventures, and became an Ironman together.  When we reached mile 100 of the bike on IMTX, I got misty-eyed, patted him on the aero bar, and was so proud of us and what we had accomplished together.  I told him he was a great bike that day.

I loved that bike.
IMTX - a great ride
And now I'm a traitor.

Somewhere in the back of my head, I knew I was having a hard time climbing.  During group rides, people with similar bikes and crank set-ups were blowing past me.  I was dying on the hills.  Dying.  And for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to get better.  Last summer, my solution was to buy a road bike with a triple crank, and figure out how to ride hills that way.  Hills which used to kill me were manageable on the road bike. 

Then I signed up for IMCDA.  My coach promised me that I'd be riding my TT bike for the race.  A race with huge hills, that traditionally, have killed me.  Hmm.  I was scared.

A few weeks ago, I noticed on facebook that a custom bike builder from Houston was opening a shop here in Denver.  His bikes are amazing.  I'd previously said that it was a good thing I moved away from Houston when I did, or I'd own a Shama bike.  Fast forward 2 years, I have HUGE cycling goals, and I gave him a call.  He has a system where he can adjust a bike-like piece of equipment, while sensors monitor your movement, cadence, speed, and power.  Essentially, they develop a bike geometry that specifically optimizes your power output.

As soon as I talked to Phil, I knew that Buzz was not going to like where we were headed.  Traitor - big time.  Oof.

It came down to this:  I work hard - really hard - at cycling, and I thought I owed it to myself to know for certain if my challenges with hills was due to my bike not being right for me, or if it was due to operator error.  I did not want to be struggling this year with that as a question in my head.  Self doubt, in Ironman, is killer.  If it turned out that Buzz was good and I needed to work, cool.  If not, well, then I'm a traitor.

I did my evaluation last night.  Phil set me and Buzz up on a computrainer and had me ride along at a set power output.  He took some recordings and looked at me for a bit.  Then I hopped off and he moved my stem around at a steeper angle.  Hopped back on, and pedalling was SO much easier.  Crazy easy.  Only the power hadn't changed.  Free power, simply by switching my saddle around.  I've had 3 different bike fits and no one has done this.  Ugh.  We kept tinkering around, optimizing my fit on Buzz.  Then it came time to go on the fitting machine (Retul) and "see what a good fit feels like."  At this point, I knew I was doomed.

We got the Retul set up and I started riding.  Phil would make micro adjustments and I'd spin faster at the same power level.  He made some minor adjustment and *bam* I was spinning at over 100 rpm - and the power level hadn't changed.  They saw my legs kick in and commented "she found her sweet spot". 


I'm getting a custom carbon Alchemy TT frame and a custom build by Phil of Shama Cycles.  To pay for part of this new toy, I have to sell Buzz.

Big time traitor.

I am also big time conflicted.  I am deeply, deeply attached to this bike.  How can I not be attached?  I've ridden him for 6,000 miles.  460 hours.  I've had him for 4 years and have ridden him in 3 states.  We've reached some huge milestones together.  And I'm selling him.

Part of me is excited, though.  I get a bike made for ME.  I get to choose the colors and graphics.  This bike should help me climb and soar and reach my mountainous goals.

If you love it, set it free?  I think that's what I'm doing here.  Hopefully he will go to someone who loves him as much as I did.  I will also probably cry a bit when I do give him up.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

January 2013 - Training Totals

Ironman CDA training has started in earnest - well at least the base training has.  That means its time to start tracking my training!

January's totals:
Bike:9h 44m  - 127.58 Mi  (should be more like 149.5 miles if you include my spin class)
Run:15h 06m 59s  - 71.75 Mi
Swim:14h 15m  - 40737.1 Yd
Strength:1h 00m
Skiing:6h 00m
Spinning Class:1h 45m

 by comparison:

December's totals:
Bike:9h 5m  - 115.43 Mi                                                                                               
Run:10h 05m  - 48.53 Mi
Swim:9h 10m  - 24901 Yd
Skiing:21h 00m

So, January saw less skiing (boo) and more swim/bike/run.  A boat-load of swimming.  A pretty heathly increase in running (nearly 25 more miles in Jan), and a steady increase on the bike.

I think my fitness is really coming along.  I had a 2.5 hour aerobic ride on the trainer Saturday morning, before we left for Steamboat.  I was dreading having dead legs on Sunday for skiing, but I was pleasantly suprised.  My legs were super fresh and I skied from 9:30 to 3:30 and felt great all day.  Pretty cool!

Pretty soon, however, I'll be logging 150 miles on the bike per WEEK, not per month.  I know its coming, but that doesn't make it any easier to process.