Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Two For Tuesday

Another double ride day in the books. Seems my bike has a semi-permanent home now at HTC. Both rides were done there this morning. First ride was Ben's idea. Main set 30x1min heavy gear which didn't sound that hard until he said goal was 120%FTP and recovery was only 45seconds after each. I made maybe 8-9 of them at 120-123% but the rest were 115-119%. The program he uses is cool b/c it beeps at you when it's time to GO(!) then beeps again when it's time to recover and it tells you your avg power for that segment as well as %FTP. It's really like playing a video game, but a really really really hard video game. This was genuinely one of the hardest efforts I've put out on the bike in a long time.

I had maybe 4 hours between sessions to 'recover'... Then back at it with a 20/20/20 progression. I went 155/175/205w avg for those. I'm skeptical that the power was correct tonight. Either it was off or I've gained a solid amount of fitness in the last few weeks b/c that was for sure the easiest 205w has felt in a long time. But check this out- no one can say I'm not capable of riding steady!

My hip felt pretty solid so I attempted a run off that 2nd ride. Physically I felt great but before I even got 1 mile in I could feel my hip tightening up... Felt like a spasm was forming in the TFL? It wasn't terrible but typically it doesn't loosen up and get better once it starts hurting like that, so when my garmin beeped 1 mile I turned around and ran back. Pretty bummed about that because it kind of feels like I'm on this really good roll with training and if my hip was solid everything would be perfect! In good news I don't think I did any new damage to it tonight by running those 2 miles. And if the pain stayed where it was (i.e. didn't escalate) I think I could run with it as it is. I'm not confident though that I could run on it without it getting (much) worse so I will need to get it sorted ASAP.

In other news unrelated to triathlon, we found another kitten. How cute is he?? We named him Luke. He's been at our house for a few hours and seems to be settling in. Exploring everything and starting to play. The other animals seem to be taking the new addition ok. Interestingly, its Shakira who seems the most upset, which is surprising. I assumed she would be the one happiest to have a new friend? Clearly, Moana is the happiest.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Zoned Out

None of my friends showed up to swim this morning. All the older ladies who are regulars were like Are you going to be lonely today? Lol. Indeed. It wasn't as much lonely as it was simply zoned out. I warmed up 1000 easy then decided on a main set 10x300's pull @4:50 just steady all the way through, maybe slight descend but the goal wasn't to rip myself apart today. I didn't have enough energy to do that anyway.

I started at 4:35 and held that for the first few, then since apparently I can't count to 3 when I'm swimming alone I ended up doing a 400 instead of a 300, so I tried to make it right by just doing a 200 on the next rep trying to get myself back on track... Then I was holding 4:33ish for the middle few before I screwed it up again just doing a 200... so I fixed it again on the next one doing a 400 and finished up with the last 2x300's slight descend 4:31/4:27. I can't remember the last time I have miscounted on a swim set? I mean, I totally get how you could miscount when swimming in a short course pool, but long course it's harder to do! I mean, how hard is it to count to 3? In good news since I was watching my splits I figured it out each time when I screwed it up but still. Yikes. Turn your brain on, Michelle.

I'll share a little secret too- when I'm doing a long set like that I figure out beforehand how long it's going to take (usually a 3k set takes ~48-50min depending on send-offs) so when I start I just start the timer on my watch then I keep repeating until my watch says the final time... so I knew my set today was ~48min which allowed me to just do those swims without having to know if I was on #6 or #7... I almost always lose count that way but I know when I start the one off 43:xx that it's the last one... File that under #SwimmerTips. I don't fuss with a Garmin in the pool. Not ever. I just do math in my head and remember my splits and write them down in my Training Peaks account when I get home. Normally (when my brain is functioning) I quite like calculating splits in my head while I'm swimming.

Later I went riding and it was a similar kind of zoned out experience. I rode my road bike outside and it was nice to feel the wind in my face. My indoor rides have been very focused and quality so today I tried to balance that by just riding aerobic as I felt, no data, no structure, no pressure. Just saddle time. I felt terrible to start but then felt better and actually felt quite strong by the time I finished 3.5 hours later. Honestly when I was done I was surprised at how good I felt, but 1/2 hour later I was flat out on my bed thinking OMG how am I going to go be a parent right now?? As always though I bucked up and found a way.

Mark gave me a bunch of mangos off his tree. They were pretty ripe so they needed to be used ASAP. I made Moana happy by making a bunch of mango coconut ice cream! All I did was cut up a bunch of mango and put it in the blender with ~1/4 can of coconut milk. Blended that up then stuck it in the ice cream maker for ~20minutes. So good!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lessons In Sport

I'm watching the Olympic Trials as I type this... I might get distracted. I love the Trials! Maybe more than the Olympics?? NBC does a great job telling some of the stories of the athletes and I just think its so cool to watch the competitions. One thing I pay attention to is what the athletes say when they get interviewed... Across the board the successful athletes talk about how they try to tune everything out and not think about the results, but instead just focus on the process and what they need to do in each moment to bring out their own very best. Good lessons there!

Today I did another bike session in the HTC Computrainer studio. I rode 5x this week and 4 of those were in there! I do ride pretty hard in there and can get in some quality watts so I guess we'll call this an experiment to see if those transfer over to the road/races.

Today, 8 of us who are going to Vineman all rode part of the course, which was pretty cool. We spent 3.5 hours in there and after a fairly long w/u, did a main set of 5x25min at or slightly above race effort on 5min easy, then 4x2min alternating heavy gear 55rpm w/ 2min spin 95+rpm. I feel like I rode pretty strong today. Figured out how to get my indoor ride files to automatically upload to my Training Peaks account so it was fun to come home and see/analyze my file.
My hip didn't feel terrible so it's possible I could have run but I chose not to. It just seemed like a smarter decision to not push it today. I've spent a bunch of time in the last 24 hours rolling on my Supernova ball (best tool ever for releasing glute spasms) and based on how that has felt, clearly I've got some solid spasms in my glute. I'm just guessing, but it makes sense that a giant spasm in one of those muscles would effectively disable it, which would force another muscle to do more work and eventually that secondary muscle would get pretty pissed off. In my case I *think* it's glute medius that is spasming so TFL compensates and currently TFL is pissed. So the fix is allowing that TFL to rest while getting the glute med spasm to release. That's the route I'm taking anyway trying to fix it. I'm not sure it's really a lack of 'strength' thing. James Dunne (running coach) writes a lot about running form and function and he often posts about lack of strength being caused by "a weakness or an inhibition?" If you're doing all your basic functional strength type exercises but you're still not strong enough to perform your sport without pain, then you have to start looking toward the inhibition side of things trying to uncover/allow the functional strength you want/need. In my case I think I'm strong enough but all those muscles need to be in a state that will allow them to do their jobs effectively.

So far the Olympic Trials swim races I've watched have all been won in the back half of the race. #EnduranceFTW. #DontGoOutTooFast #LessonsInSport

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Two For Two

Guess what? Easy recovery days are the bomb. :) Yesterday I did exactly as I planned... 2k flop/choice swim that included some kicking and some sculling and even a bit of IM... all very relaxed effort and that was just what I needed.

Today I got up early and drove out to Waimea Bay for the 2nd swim of the North Shore Swim Series.
Just like I did before the first race, I jogged a super easy 5 miles, keeping HR <140 for the first mile then <145 after that. Felt fine but wasn't judging it at all. #JustTrot

Usually Waimea Bay is full of really nice clear blue perfect water, but today it was all brown. There's a river that flows into the bay (from the mountain) and it must have poured rain overnight or something bc that river was just dumping brown water into the bay and it was gross. The race director did the best he could changing the course trying to keep us away from the mouth of the river, but it was so brown all over... Tough to avoid completely. This is the course, according to Heidi's Garmin. The only place it was clear water was at the far corner where we rounded a couple of big rocks.
I found this picture on Instagram. This is the women's start, as seen from the top of a big rock in the bay! I was somewhere out in the middle of this group, near the front but not at the front. (These are real swimmers, not triathletes.)
So the challenge with the brown water was that we couldn't see each other as well as we normally can. Given that, it felt more aggressive at the start. I don't think women were pulling and pushing at each other on purpose, but since we couldn't see each other as well it was harder to intentionally avoid hitting others who were around you. Whatever. It was fine. I swam hard, sometimes near other swimmers but not directly drafting off anyone like I normally try to do. I kept checking in with myself like is this as hard as you can go right now? And every time the answer was yep I'm happy with this effort. I felt strong and in control but like I was really working. No lazy strokes at all.

As is my policy, I swam until my hand hit the bottom (don't stand up early!!), and then a really little wave came and beached me on the sand (like a whale!) and it cracked me up b/c I knew my suit would be full of sand (it was!)... I stood up laughing and ran up the little hill to the timing mat. I couldn't find Nalani, which was weird, but then I turned around and saw her come across the line behind me (What?? That never happens!) with Kathryn right on her tail. Last time the 3 of us finished within like 15" of each other and this swim today was similar spread even though we never saw each other. That confirmed to me that yep the effort was as strong as I felt like it was. I ended up winning my AG again (I'm two for two in the series now!) but was 34th Female OA (vs 19th like last time) b/c a young swim team showed up and crushed us all. Seriously. The winner was 13 years old!

Afterward we hung out for a bit, then I went running again. 8 more miles and I started to do it as a progression until mile 6 when my hip started yelling at me (it was whispering earlier but I ignored that). That was a bummer b/c for once I actually felt really strong and solid, like a machine! I had been nailing the descend each mile and I'm pretty sure I had 2 more faster miles in me but I did what I think was the smart thing and shut it down and just jogged the last 2 miles trying to not further piss off my hip. I'm stretching and rolling it now and will have to see how it responds overnight. Kind of a lot of running- 33 miles in the last 3 days (between the 20 miler Thursday and the double run today)- so if my hip said that was enough for now, I'll listen. It's the exact same pain that took me out for a few months in Feb/March so I don't want to push it. Getting greedy is always how I end up hurt.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

20 Miles

I know there are a lot of athletes who can knock out successful Ironman marathons without doing any 20 mile training runs, but I'm not one of them. I will say though, in my experience as an athlete and as a coach, many runners and triathletes do actually benefit from them (mentally and physically). 4-5 years ago I ran 20 milers fairly often, and I got to the point where they were no big deal and I could knock them out without really blinking. In the last 3 years though I don't think I've run a 20 miler in training? I've also not run a decent marathon in that time frame. So. I know I can get better at 20 milers, but the only way to get better at 20 milers is to run 20 milers.

I ran 17 miles a few weeks ago and it went just fine so I think I didn't give the 20 miler today the respect it apparently warranted. Somewhere around mile 12 today, the riding I've done the last 3 days showed up not only in my legs but in my brain. I think I was fueling and hydrating plenty so that wasn't the issue. It was just straight up fatigue. I was hot, and tired, and bored. I'd arranged my run so I was basically doing out/back segments and using my car as an aid station so I'd have ice and cold fluids every few miles, which I guess is a decent way to arrange things when you're running in the middle of the day in Hawaii in June, but it's not exactly an interesting way to get the miles done!
I had thoughts of bailing at mile 12, but then I decided that was completely unacceptable because 12 isn't even remotely close to 20 when it comes to running. So I went out/back for another 4 miles and got back to my car at 16 and tried to decide if that was close enough... I mean, really, it was probably long enough, but it still would have felt like a fail to me, and I'm running out of time to get these 20 milers in prior to Vineman, so I forced another out/back on myself and managed to make my stupid garmin beep to 20. Overall I guess the run was a good mental task (make yourself keep going when you're really tired and want to stop) but physically it took a toll.

I felt like my legs were on the verge of seizing up for much of the last 4 miles (hamstrings, quads, adductors) and had to really focus on staying calm and relaxed and not get pissy with myself. Managed to do that (yay me) and finished running without doubling over... Later though in my car driving home I was feeling irritated about that run b/c it just felt crappy to me- not only b/c it was pretty slow but mostly because of how hard I had to work to get my brain to shut up and stop whining about it all. I have suspected for a few years now that when I'm on the verge of cramping, negative thoughts are the thing that throw me right over the edge, and sure enough as I was driving my diaphragm just knotted up in the most painful spasm. ARGH. And I couldn't get it to release, which made me more mad, which caused it to grip even harder. There was no place along the road where I could safely pull over so I kept driving, one hand on the wheel while the other was jammed under my rib cage and my hips were lifted up off the seat trying to straighten out my midsection while swearing out loud, taking deep breaths, and trying to not crashing my car... Finally I pulled into my neighborhood where it was safe to pull over and I got out of my car to stand and stretch and that's when that spasm finally released.

So. Apparently I don't have the cramping problem solved. :( I drank 6x bottles of Osmo, SOS, and that new NBS hydration drink, so its hard to believe dehydration was the issue (though even with that I did lose 2lbs during the run, but that seems within the normal range of what you'd expect to lose during a 20 mile run). Extreme muscular fatigue was likely an issue given the riding I did the last few days. I'm sure I was depleted going into the run today, which was by design. Apparently it was too much though.

Today was not a confidence building run. I would like to fit in another 20 miler prior to Vineman and I think I have time to do that if I knock it out in the next 10-15 days... Next time though I'll time it so it's not done on legs that are already thrashed. And I'll continue to experiment with products that might help my muscles work more effectively! I will say, I do think 20 milers get easier the more you do them, and I'm glad I didn't save this shitty experience for race day. That's what I did at Louisville last year and it sucked!

Anyway, I spent an hour or so like this before I had to go pick up Moana and be a functioning human being again.
I'll save you a trip back to this blog tomorrow by writing tomorrow's blog tonight (I can do this because I'm psychic):

Friday Recovery Day
Swam 2k super easy flop didn't time anything. Included some light kicking. Felt like shit to start but better by the end.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Swim + Double Ride

My swim notes copy/pasted directly from Training Peaks. Swam with Mark and Nalani this morning, both of whom kicked my ass. I don't think I was swimming poorly. They were just swimming fast!

1000 w/u neg split 8:04/7:43 (15:47)
500 pull @8:00 (7:25)
8x50's fast swim @:50
500 pull @8:00 (7:24)
6x50's fast swim @:50
500 pull @8:00 (7:18)
4x50's fast swim @:50
100 c/d
felt ok. tired at the end! 50s @:50 kill me!

Not too long after that swim I found myself back on my bike that was hooked up to a Computrainer again at HTC. I did an 80min session that included a 40minute main set of 10x3min "hills" (on 1 minute recoveries) at 3% grade pushing ~60rpm and shooting for ~95%FTP. It was hard but not impossible. My thought in doing that session was really to test it out and see if it was an appropriate one for my first group Computrainer session (which I was leading at 6:00PM tonight). I decided that it was indeed appropriate.

So... Bike session #2 today was a repeat of Bike session #1. In case you were wondering, it was 100x harder the second time around! My legs feel completely zapped at the moment. Good fun though with the group...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Quality Brick

It was a nice day today and I could have ridden outside, but I rode inside. Who am I?? Well, really I rode inside because Ben was teaching me how to set up the bike on the Computrainers at HTC and set up the programming and hook up the audiovisual, etc. Tomorrow night I'm actually going to be leading my first Computrainer session (!) so I needed to know how to get it all set up and functioning. The program is cool how you type it all in and tell the computer what intervals you want to do and what watts you want to hit and it basically just makes you hit the watts for as long as you said you were going to. I think this is good for me because commonly when I'm riding on the road I just make up what I do along the way based on how I'm feeling and it happens sometimes where I bail out or whatever. No bailing out once the program is set in the studio though! Anyway, I rode for 2:15 and that included a main set of 5x3min @230w, a 30min piece building from 160-170w just steady, then a 30min piece at 190w which didn't feel as hard as I thought it was going to feel.

My plan was to run afterward, but when I was done riding I had a ton of reasons why I shouldn't run. I forgot my iPod (is that a reason to not run?? #no). It was sunny and HOT (this was legit). It was 1PM and I hadn't had lunch. BUT, I have an Ironman next month. And physically I felt fine after that ride. And I was in a place where I could run flat. So I sucked down a gel, drank some ice cold SOS Rehydrate and turned on my Garmin. I ran 4x1 mile repeats on a flat stretch of road. I didn't have a pace goal in mind but more an effort goal... I wanted it to feel strong and solid but also controlled (not forced). I was shocked when my garmin buzzed and I saw 7:50?! It didn't feel as hard as I would have thought a 7:50 mile would/should feel... I recovered until my HR came down to 130 (which was only about a minute) then went again. 7:47. So it wasn't a fluke! Then 7:46... I made a mental note to NOT drill myself into a hole trying to continue the descend, but I tried to focus on staying relaxed and keeping my hips stable and just floating through that last one... 7:39! What a difference stable hips make. Also confirms my belief that you can do a lot of slow/easy running and yet still run faster when it's time to do so.