Monday, April 29, 2013

T-minus 5 days .... crazy insane race

This whole training for your second Ironman thing is really weird.  The first time around, every single week was a repeat of "omg, my coach is trying to kill me!" to "well, maybe I can do all that" to "I killed that workout!".  Everything was new.  I was doing distances I hadn't done before, riding in places that were new, and the idea of doing an Ironman was a big scary thing.

And then I did one.  and I lived.

So now I'm training for my second one and it's really not so bad.  I keep waiting for the "I'm going to die" part, but really, it's not so awful.  Sure I'm a bit more tired than normal and a bit more hungry than normal, but I'm not constantly freaking out about my workouts.  Its more like "ok, I got it".  I don't think about it - I just DO it.  Probably the biggest difference, other than experience, is that I have people to train with and I know I'm riding the proper terrain for my races. 

As part of my training, my coach wanted me to do a 70.3.  I really wasn't interested in Galveston.  As fun as it would be to race with friends, I really, really, really hate that run course.  Blech.  HITS Marble Falls was an option (hills) but the travel element was a bit of a pain.  I thought hard about NOLA, mainly b/c I have a free place to stay, but honestly, what will I gain from doing a flat 70.3 as a test for CDA?  So like a lemming, I signed up for St George with several of my Denver tri buddies.

I think the logic was that maybe St G would be so hard that CDA would seem easy?  I really don't know.  I'm not even sure someone like me has any business doing that race.  Really. 

And then I obsessed about the bike course. 
Specifically, that big ol' hill at mile 40 up Snow Canyon.  Apparently its a Cat 3, ~3 miles long and 800 ft of climbing.  Yay (?)

I was so wrapped up about the bike that I totally forgot that the run is actually worse:
What is that, 2 x 2 mile long hills?  I hate running up hills. fml.

Oh and it might be 90 degrees.  It is forecast to snow here, the day before we leave for the race.  And the winds could be wicked.

Normally I'd be freaked out, but really, I'm just hanging out.  I figure it will hurt.  I'm expecting the worst.  Who knows, I may suprise myself.  I have been riding a ton of huge hills.  Deer Creek is 14 miles and 3,000 ft of climbing.  And I've done that 3 times in the past month.  And I ran 10 miles and 1,000 ft climbing a few weeks back and actually felt good doing it.

My coach is doing the race also.  In fact, I'm driving her home from the race.  She asked me to develop my own race plan.  I replied back with "I plan to survive the race".  Somehow I don't think that's what she meant.  So I sat down, looked at my old race times, looked at what I've been doing, and came up with a plan and some times.  I have some "worse case" some "I'm ok with that" and "super happy" times written down.  I'm curious to see what she thinks I can do.

I'm so laid back about the dang race that I don't even have my nutrition worked out.  Its been too damn cold here to worry about that.  I'll go ride for 4 hours and consume 300-400 calories.  That is no where near what I'll be consuming in a race.  So I've hobbled a plan together with some back-up options, in case my main plan fails mid-race.  We'll see.

Oh, and this is my first race in nearly 2 years.  And its my hardest (from an elevation perspective) race ever.  WTF was I thinking?

Hopefully I learn a lot and suprise myself along the way :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

oh, hi there

Seems that I got sucked into the Ironman Training blackhole.  Things are going pretty good, I'm just busy and hungry and tired.  Here's some random updates:


look at that sweet carbon work
I got full custody of it at 9 PM on Friday, April 12th.  Little irritated I got it so late that night, but hey, at least I got it.  Took it for a ride around Palmer Lake on Saturday.  Needed 70 miles.  Probably not the smartest idea to have my maiden voyage be that long, but I had training to do.  It was ridiculously windy, so we cut it short at 50 miles and then I initiated the new bike to 20 miles on the trainer.

My random impressions/thoughts:
  • the bike is PURTY!  They did this irridescent pearl coat and this bike is blingy in the sun.  Seriously.
  • Bike weighed 17 lbs 5 oz without pedals.  LIGHT
  • leg geometry seems to be spot on.  I've done 2 long rides and my legs really don't feel wiped out afterwards. 
  • I'm still not sold on the bar tape.  Its a bit too neon green and kinda clashes.  However, its comfy and I will notice it in transition.  And I don't have the energy to swap it out right now.
  • Carbon frames are soooo awesome on cracks and chip seal.  There's this stretch just south of Palmer Lake that's pretty rough, and I'm usually going along muttering "ouch, ooof, ouch" on my aluminum frame.  The carbon really absorbs nearly everything.  Amazing!
  • The bike isn't the "magic bullet" for climbing.  I was hoping it would be, but I knew that in reality, it wouldn't.  Palmer Lake felt pretty hard, but my friend (on her TT bike) thought that day felt harder than it should have.  I attempted Deer Creek and Highgrade this past weekend.  The canyon part wasn't bad but I was doubtful I'd make it past the first switchback.  I had to stop too much (3x) to catch my breath.  I gave myself a pep talk after the first switchback and made it through the second one and to the guardrail, where Highgrade really gets steep.  I just didn't have it in me to continue so I bailed and turned around.  Legs felt ok, but my breathing and HR would not cooperate.  Maybe due to training fatigue, maybe due to my lungs being angry at me all week.  I'll keep trying and we'll make it up on the new bike eventually.
  • I have got to - NEED TO - spend more time in aero to get my forearms used to things.  Last Saturday, I was trying to make myself stay 15 min in aero in the last hour of my ride and I just couldn't do it.  My neck hurt, my arms hurt at the contact point with my pads.  And my index finger went numb and stayed numb for hours after the ride.  The only solution to this is more time on the bike.  I need to get used to this or 112 miles will be ugly.
I've been running up hills, which is new to me.  I've been instructed to do "easy runs on rolling hills", which is an oxymoron if I've ever heard of one.  I did a 10 mile run that had 1,000 feet gain and it actually felt good.  Weird!

We invested in a brewery and they had their first event the night after my maiden 70 mile voyage on the bike.  I had to make it awkward when they asked for volunteers, by explaining my training and asking for the option to sit down while volunteering.  Way to make an impression, Erin.....  The event was really good.  They rented out the Presidential Suite of a historic hotel and had ~30 people in for a tasting.  They had 4 beers.  a wild-yeast Saison, a british IPA, a chocolate stout, and a salted porter.  I think the salted porter would be BRILLIANT after a long bike ride in the summer.  They promised us dinner but all that they had was pretzels.  FAIL.  So we ate dinner at 10:30 PM.  Not awesome.

My nutition isn't all that great, I really haven't found a groove.  I've been travelling to Phoenix, and they keep getting bread-heavy food for working lunches.  And I'm starving, so I eat it.  And then I feel crappy because I ate bread.  I've also been relying on take-out too much.  Q'doba, cupcakes, Jamba Juice.  I need to spend some time getting good food and prepping it, so I can eat better. 

I'm also still fiddling around with my traning nutrition.  I've been going back and forth between Skratch Labs and First Endurance EFS for my drink mix.  I like Skratch but it doesn't have much in the way of calories, so I have to carry around a ton of food.  EFS has more calories, so less food is needed.  But the new bike only has room for 2 bike bottles or my 40 oz Profile bottle.  So I need to figure out how I'm going to store more drink mix and/or just do water and then have some Liquid Shot for calories/electolytes.  I really don't know what my plan is.  I'll probably just try something at St George and see if it works.  And I'll probably NEED to stop at special needs in CDA to re-up my nutrition.  Its probably a good thing I can't carry a ton of fluids anymore, because it is HEAVY.  And I really can't be carrying around extra pounds of water while climbing hills in a race.

And oh, I have a 70.3 in less than 2 weeks.  How the hell did that happen?  Why am I not more freaked out about this?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Climbing Hills

One of my reasons for signing up for IMCDA is that I knew that I would have to get better at climbing hills to be successfull in finishing the race.  See, I have had a hard time with hills.  A little over 2 years ago, I lived in the flatlands of Houston, where the largest "hills" were the highway overpasses.  Then I signed up for the Boise 70.3 (June 2010).  I would drive up to Chappell Hill to train, where these little 300 (?) ft hills would kill me.  Seriously, I'd get to the top and wonder how I was supposed to race the hills of Boise which were ~double or triple the size of what I was training on.  I was having nightmares about walking my bike up the hills during the race.

Then I moved out here and learned what real hills were like.  I'd purposely avoid the challenging ones, assuming that they were too hard.  After IMTX, I did a "classic" ride from Boulder to Jamestown, up Lefthand Canyon.  If a) my friend wasn't way ahead of me and b) there wasn't a promise of pancakes and bacon at the top, I would have turned around.  That 8 mile climb kicked my ass.  (stats: 8 miles, 1300 ft elev gain, ~3% slope). 

Then last year, on very little training, I had the brilliant idea to do the Boulder Epic Century ride.  That proved to be a funny (now, much later) lesson on getting my ass handed to me.  Lets just say that the bar for "hard" has been set pretty low.  A ride isn't "hard" as long as my Garmin doesn't auto-pause on me (because I'm going so slow) and/or a spider isn't spinning a web on my handlebars as I'm riding.  Yeah, that ride sure was epic.

Also: I sure can be a moron at times. 

So yeah, with my awesome history on hills, I decided to sign up for a ridiculously hilly 70.3 (St George - what am I thinking?!?!) and IMCDA, which has 5,500 ft of climbing.  That is more climbing than I've done on a single ride. 

I figured there was no way I would make myself climb hills on my own (they're scary!) so I'd sign up for scary races and force myself to climb hills.

I hired a local coach who won her age group at CDA last year.  I figured she'd know the course and would know the area well enough to get me trained up for the race.  Last week, she informed me that I would be riding Deer Creek Canyon and High Grade for my Saturday ride.  *gulp*  I know that Michelle and her training buddy ride on this road regularly.  I also have several (really good) cycling friends who mentioned riding up Deer Creek to train for St. George.  I was afraid but I knew that I didn't have any other choice than to just do it.

I decided that I would do the ride by myself.  That way I wouldn't have any extra pressure put on me.  If I needed to rest, I could rest.  If I needed to walk (or worse, turn around) I could do so and not feel like I was holding someone up.  Basically, I was giving myself permission to do the ride on my own terms, without time limits.  I would just ride and see how I went and not worry about the clock.  The goal was to make it up, not to make it up in record time.

Since I don't have my Alchemy bike yet, I took my road bike.  I started at South Platte Park, so I could get in a good 5 miles as a warm-up before entering the canyon.  At the turn-off into the canyon, I ran into two women who were riding into the canyon.  One woman (older) said she rides the canyon once a week.  The other woman looked scared out of her wits.  When I told them I was riding up to High Grade and Conifer, the both looked scared and mentioned something about a 13% grade.  Oof.  Just keep an open mind and keep pedalling.  That was my mission.

So the ride up the canyon was suprisingly decent.  I had on too many clothes, so I stopped at at turn-out and stripped off my tights and jacket.  It was shorts and a short-sleeved top for me!  And no sunscreen.  I need to remember to put some on.  I got to the top of what I think was the canyon and made the left hand turn onto Deer Creek Road, which eventually turns into High Grade and then eventually turns into Pleasant Park Road.  The signs weren't very prominent and I really didn't know where I was.  As an added feature, I had zero cell signal, so my GPS map wouldn't load.  Fun!  I just keep going up the hill - it didn't matter what road I was on.

Then I hit some switchbacks.  Ok, done.  Then I came to a section that had steep rock faces and a guardrail.  I still didn't know where I was, but I was really hoping that I was on High Grade, as I was afraid for my near future if I hadn't yet made it to that section of road. 
not my photo, but you get the idea. 

definitely not in town (or flat)!
As I'm riding, I'm noticing that I'm getting closer to the top of the foothills that are surrounding me.  And there's snow on the ground.  But its all good, because I wasn't dying!  I finally saw a sign confirming that I was on Pleasant Park Road, which meant that the switchbacks and guard rails was High Grade.  I survived!

one of my stops on Pleasant Park.  Look at the snow on the left side of the road!
I did stop on High Grade once to use my inhaler.  And I stopped two more times on Pleasant Park to catch my breath.  Both stops were quick, just enough to calm my breathing down.  Considering that I was too sick to ride outside 2 weeks ago, I think I was doing really well!  Legs were a bit tired, but not dead.  And I was actually not hating life. 

View from the top!  Look, you can see big snow-capped mountains from here!
I made it to the Old School House, which is made up into a little cycling rest-stop with picnic tables and a portable toilet.  There were a bunch of cyclists there but I had mapped my ride to Conifer, so I just kept going.  It was a bit of uphill, a bit of downhill, and a bit of flats.  And it was COLD.  I went until the road made a downhill switchback into Conifer, where I decided that I was done climbling switchbacks.  I had cell signal again, so I texted Will to let him know I was alive, and then I put on all of my layers for the descent.

Stats for the climb:  time- 2:18, 21.28 miles, 3608 feet.

And yes, I may have done a little happy dance.  I was damn proud of myself.

I rode back down the the Old School House and decided that since I'd only had 1 hrs worth of drink mix in 2+ hours that I should stop and have a bite to eat (SunRype Strawberry Fruit Source bar) and some drink mix (First Endurance EFS).  I hung out for 5-10 minutes, eavesdropping on a conversation.  Then I decided it was time to head down.

Damn, it was cold.  I was roasting on the way up and freezing on the way down.  And since I took off my clothes and tied them across my waist during the climb, they were now damp... making things colder.  And I only had my fingerless cycling gloves.  Brrr.  I normally love to bomb downhills, but given that my fingers were frozen, there was some sand/gravel on the road, and I really didn't know the road that well, I took my time.  I actually road my brakes most of the way down.  I was just so afraid of my fingers being too numb to operate the brakes that I just took it easy.  Honestly, the way down was much worse than the way up.  That's something I didn't think was possible. 

Deer Creek Canyon - how pretty is this?!?
Victory smile!
Even though it was freezing, I road down with a HUGE grin on my face.  Not only did I make it to the top, I
actually think I did the climb pretty well.

After I got out of the canyon, I had ~18 miles to do around Chatfield.  That wasn't so much fun, but I think its just because I'm not used to riding my road bike.  And I hate the saddle that's on the road bike.  At 60 miles, I made it back to the truck and called it a day.  Total climbing for the ride was 4,260 ft.  Phew!

And then I got a hard earned chocolate cupcake.  I devoured it in about 30 seconds flat.  I was hungry!

When I got home, I send my coach a victory text.  To which she replied: good - you'll be doing that ride weekly!


I definitely think I'll get good at climbing hills after this race.  Wow.

Monday, April 01, 2013

March 2013 - Training Totals

I was sick for pretty much the whole month of March.  That put a dent in my training potential, as I had about 5 days where I pretty much slept most of the time and I had ~3 weeks where I just felt weak.  We had to keep my workouts light because I literally couldn't do anything more than that.  This past week was an easy build, since I went off of antibiotics on Thursday and we didn't want to relapse.  With less than 5 weeks to St George, I really don't have time to mess around.

That being said, I had respectable distances.  Given being sick and I had a day on the slopes, I feel pretty good.  Bike and swim both increased.  Run stayed about the same, but that's mainly because I was too sick to run very much. 

This next month will bring hills, hills, and even more hills.  Hills on the bike and hills while running.  Oof.  CDA is 12 weeks away.  I can do this.

March's totals:
29h 13m 20s - 361.32 Mi
9h 37m 53s - 47.55 Mi
13h 05m - 37510.94 Yd
5h 00m

February's totals:
16h 11m - 195.43 Mi (so more like 231.9 miles if you include spin class)
10h 44m 59s - 53.28 Mi
9h 05m - 25419.07 Yd
13h 00m
Snow Shoveling:
1h 35m
Spinning Class:
2h 55m