Friday, July 31, 2009

Helping A Sister Out

Wow. I had a great swim this morning.

It doesn't always happen. Great swims can be fleeting. But this morning was great. For now, I'm crediting my awesome neighbor, Dana, for my great swim. Since she and I started our morning daughter trade-off, I've been able to get my whole swim workout in, rather than rushing through 2500M and hurrying home so Scott can get to work. I love Dana. She always says, "Take your time!" It's awesome because I can get 3500-4000M in consistently 3x/week now and that's making quite a positive difference in my swim.


So then I come home and play with Moana and Dana's little girl, Mercey, while Dana goes running. Mercey is three. One of the first things she told me when we met was that her favorite song is Boom Boom Pow. She's a total crack up!

This morning we walked over to a pond across the street to feed the fish. Mercey found a little twig and said, "We can go fishing!"

You gotta love the imagination of a three year old.

You also gotta love it that she likes to push the baby in the stroller.

When we got to the pond I handed Mercey a piece of bread and told her to break it up into little bits to throw in the water for the fish. She tore it in half and threw both pieces in. The fish had a war. Moana enjoyed the scene and the jumping fish.

Walking home Mercey was holding her banana but couldn't get it open. She held it up toward me and asked, "Can you help a sister out?"

Yes, Mercey. I can help a sister out. Great thoughts come out of the mouths of babes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Packing List

Since this blog has sort of turned into a chronicle of How I Train For An Ironman With a Baby, here's the latest.

Today I needed to do a brick. Not a long one (2 hr bike, 30 min run) but it was supposed to be hard and fast and hilly. Sweet. I like it when I've got the green light to push a workout.

So to fit it in, I once again was depending on my friend Jenny... which is cool, because she was depending on me so she could get her track workout in and then an easy spin on her bike.

I would be in some serious trouble trying to train for this IM without Jenny.

Anyway, since she came here yesterday, it was my turn to pack up and head to Mililani today. And pack up, I did.

Bike, helmet, shoes, sunglasses, gloves, water bottles, clif bars, GU, bike shorts, jersey, sport bra, socks, run shoes, visor, more water bottles, recovery drink, oatmeal, banana, nectarine, rice/spinach lunch (for me), sunscreen, diapers*, wipes, diaper rash ointment, formula, bottles, rice/bean cereal lunch (for M), baby spoon, bibs, change of clothes for her (just in case), and her favorite blanket so she can nap.


I had to actually make a list and check it twice because a few weeks ago I was driving up to Jenny's and realized that I didn't have my helmet and shoes. Ugh. Had to turn around and come home to get them.

Anyway, I arrived at Jenny's just as she was putting Sadie down for her morning nap... then Jenny headed off to the track while I hung out with Moana. This one on one time that we have together is actually pretty nice. Sadie has some different and interesting toys that Moana likes to play with, and since I am not at home, I don't have any household chores** to do that might otherwise occupy my attention... I get to focus only on her which is pretty cool.

I got my workout in starting at about noon. Perfect heat training, you could say. I felt good, but did get a little frustrated when I got lost on my run... Miliani Mauka has some funky neighborhoods with dead end streets that are pretty darn confusing and since I've never run there before, I just got totally lost and found myself running in circles. Finally I stopped and asked some older Korean woman how to get back to the main road. She pointed me back in the direction from which I had come, so essentially I just wasted 20 minutes running these dead end streets. So the brick run was a little long.

I was shot at the end of that workout because I pushed it as hard as I was supposed to, but just because you're tired doesn't mean that there aren't two little girls who want to use you as a jungle gym when you get home! Jenny headed off for her spin and I just plopped on the floor and assumed my role as playground equipment.

Anyway, by the time Jenny and I finished talking and eating at the end of our workout day, it was 5:30PM. So yeah, that's how you spend the day when you're IM training and have a baby.

Tomorrow I'm going to be DONE with my run/swim by 8:15AM. I'm really looking forward to that. :)

*I had to take lots of diapers... poor thing has an intestinal issue of some sort... I've been changing diarrhea diapers every hour for the last 24 hours and her little bum is so red and sore. It's very sad and she screams bloody murder at the very instant that she knows another diaper change is coming... :( I really hope this clears up quickly for her sake!

**Ok, computer to read all your blogs...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One Of Those Weeks

I know I've been sort of MIA for the past few days... it's just been one of those weeks. Of course, it's possible that just about every week when you're training for an Ironman and you have a baby is one of those weeks.

It started with my Monday morning swim. Let's be clear that last week was an easy recovery week. This week is not. Which is fine- I like big hard weeks- but I also can get kind of, um, anal about getting in every workout exactly as prescribed. During these hard weeks, I want to be as tired as I'm supposed to be. I want my body to FEEL the training stress, so that next time I rest, it'll adapt appropriately. To that end, I'm dead set on getting in every workout.

So when the lifeguard doesn't show up on Monday morning and I can't swim, I get a little frustrated. Not the best way to start the week. BUT, I am resilient, and I have an awesome neighbor, so I arranged for her to come over and watch Moana at lunch so I could go get that swim in.

Dana came over at 12:15 and I headed back over to the pool. I don't normally have the opportunity to swim at lunch so this was going to be a real treat! Except that the new pool schedule has the pool closed at 12:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays. So no noon swim for me today. Strike two.


My last chance to swim would be at 8:00PM. Seriously? Was I really going to go swim from 8-9PM? That would put me finishing my last set when it was already past my bedtime. But of course I would go.

The third time was indeed the charm and surprisingly, I had a decent swim. Phew.

But swimming that close to bedtime is always a challenge because bringing yourself back down to a calm sleeping state isn't easy after such an effort in the water.

ANYWAY, my key runs are typically on Tuesday mornings. But this Tuesday, Scott had to go to work early, and Moana's sleep schedule has been screwed up for the last couple of days... long story short, I ended up having to do my trainer workout first while Moana was napping and then try to get my key run done on the treadmill at the gym while M was in the Kid's Club.

The Kid's Club there at the gym is cool. I think Moana likes it. I think the social time with other kids is good for her, and I think that having experiences away from me during the day are good for her as well. She isn't having any attachment issues with me which is awesome, and I'd like to keep it that way by giving her opportunities to watch me leave and then return later... So I dropped her off and headed for the treadmill.

Let it be known that I hate treadmill running and that I do it *very* rarely. In fact, I can't remember the last time I ran on a treadmill? I think maybe once earlier this year I did... BUT, I am going to get all these workouts in, so I did what I had to do.

I actually wasn't having a terrible run. I was sweating like crazy though- my sweat was flying all over the place and I felt bad for the people on the mills next to me... but then about 3/4 of the way through I heard the gal come over the loudspeaker, "Will Michelle Simmons please come to the Kid's Club? Mahalo."

Good thing I wasn't wearing my iPod. I didn't wear it for this specific reason. (Although I'm surprised that I was able to hear over the sound of my own breathing.) I immediately pushed STOP on the 'mill and I will admit that there was a little teeny tiny part of me that was relieved to be done with that workout- it was killing me. But at the same time, it wasn't fun to leave the gym feeling defeated. I know the run is my weakness and these Tuesday runs are key to turning that around, so finishing a Tuesday run and not being able to say NAILED IT isn't such a good feeling. BUT, it is what it is and I know that I am a mom first so clearly Moana's needs are the priority. Turns out, she was just hungry. She went on this weird eating strike for about 24 hours where she just had no interest in food- not her bottle or solid food (I know, I can't even imagine not being hungry!!). Niiice that her appetite returned in the middle of that threshold run though. But what are you gonna do?? I took her home and fed her and once again she was her happy little self.

I got a great swim in this morning and now Jenny is swimming. Her daughter is napping upstairs (in fact, both of our daughters are napping upstairs- lovely!!) I'll head out for my ride after she returns, and then she'll go for hers after I return. Nice set-up we've got! Although it looks like it's going to rain today, so in all probability I'm going to get wet on this ride. But hey, it's just one of those weeks.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Into The Great Wide Ocean

This morning was the third swim of the North Shore Swim Series. It might be the most technical of the four- it goes against the current and against the wind chop in a point to point 1.6 miles. For that reason, it's got the smallest turnout of all the swims because your less confident swimmers aren't usually so psyched for this one.

The big question for this race is always "Inside or outside?" Meaning, which route is faster? Since there are no buoys except the ones marking the start and the ones marking the finish, it's up to each swimmer to figure out the route they want to take. On the inside, you have to worry about shallow reef and rocks and surf crashing on your head. Outside I think you deal more with current and chop.

I am a firm believer in staying inside.

So as the horn sounded and everyone started sprinting, I had a choice to make. I started off heading toward the inside route, but noticed a big group of swimmers who were more along the outside than I wanted to be. Decision time for Michelle. Do I stay with the group or stay with my own plan? I stayed with my own plan. And consequently ended up completely alone.

Actually, that's not true. For a while there were a couple of swimmers right on my feet. But then they dropped off. And I was alone.

I swear, there must have been 400 people who started today and I knew we were all swimming toward the same goal, but the ocean is a pretty big space and swimmers can really get spread out when there isn't really a set course to follow.

I got that Tom Petty song in my head... Into the great wide ocean... Ok, I know those aren't actually the words, but my version was more fitting for the day. And I like to sing songs to myself when I'm swimming long in the ocean.

Anyway, I didn't actually hit any reef in the shallow water I was swimming in, so that was good. And while I wasn't looking at anyone's feet, I did see a huge turtle and an eagle ray! That was really cool. And there wasa lifeguard on a paddleboard sitting right on the surfline pointing in an effort to get me to go outside of the break. In the end, I totally think I did it right because I beat several swimmers who have been coming in ahead of me in the previous races. Though I will admit it was boring. Swimming alone isn't nearly as much fun as swimming in a pack.

Last time I posted about these swim races, a couple people asked how I could possibly know who I was swimming with in the middle of a swim race... here's my answer...

See how clear that water is? This was our finish line today. (Thanks, Trish, for the picture!) When the water is as clear as a pool, and people aren't wearing wetsuits, and we all wear whatever cap we want, all you have to do is know what your swimming buddies look like and you can pick them out in a race. :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Look Who's Standing!

Ever since Moana has learned to pull herself up to standing, my legs have been her favorite tool. Consequently, whenever I am trying to get anything done around the house, this has been my view.

I wonder where she learned that opening the fridge door with your tongue hanging out is the way to do it? Surely not from me.

Recently, the girl has been letting go. And concentrating hard.

You should see the look on her face when she realizes that she's doing it all on her own... it's fleeting and tough to capture on film, but imagine kind of a mix between sheer terror and immense pride. When she decides she's not stable enough, she does this controlled squat to the floor. Strong quads, this little gal's got. I wonder how long it'll be until she steps a foot forward?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's All Relative

I'm in the middle of a 'Recovery Week' this week. A much needed one that I am not even resisting, I might add. Last week the best I could hope for in describing any of my workouts was, "Well, it wasn't terrible." I guess that's what you get when your training volume and intensity goes up and teases your limits for several weeks in a row. All the pop and snap and spring just disappeared from my legs.

Anyway, since this is the first Ironman I've been coached through, I was pretty curious to see what a 'Recovery Week' would actually look like. It's funny, because when I first looked at it I thought, "This is nothing. I'm doing nothing next week." But then upon further inspection of the training plan, I counted about 12 hours of training. Then just cracked up at myself because I thought that was nothing. It's all relative I guess.

So I'm almost half way through this easy week now and am happy to report that my energy levels are returning to normal. My legs don't scream every time I climb the steps. And I'm friendly and smiling again. Not sure why I'm still eating like I'm training more though. Habit, I guess?

Anyway, you'd think I'd have plenty of time this week to blog blog blog, but I've been captivated by The Tour (of course) and a book my friend Nalani lent me. My free time (Moana's nap time) has been spent watching each stage (a couple times) and then reading. The book is a historical fiction novel set in the 1500's... I didn't used to like this kind of stuff, but it's a real page turner. It's called The Other Boleyn Girl, in case you're interested. Apparently it's supposed to be a movie soon. While I can't believe a movie could capture the intricacies of this novel, it still might be worth seeing if it's done well.

In Moana news... she's almost 9 months old now! And she's totally developing a cute little personality. I don't think we've ever been to the store without someone coming up and making a comment about what a happy baby she is. It's true too. The girl smiles all the time. She's a ton of fun to hang out with every day. Just when I think that it wouldn't be possible for me to love that girl any more, she smiles or laughs at something and my heart just melts again.

Last night we were sitting on the couch (watching another re-run of the Tour) and she was devouring her bottle when she heard the front door open. Usually I tell her "Daddy's home!" and then she has to actually see him before she gets all excited... but last night she heard him come in all on her own and when she did, she used her hands to push that bottle out of her face and then used all her might to turn herself around to see her dad. A huge smile erupted on her face when she saw him and then I put her down on the floor and she proceeded to race over to Scott. It was easily the fastest she has ever crawled. Talk about melting Scott's heart...

Tomorrow is Scott's birthday. He told me the other night that he can't imagine this next year being any better than this past year, though I think that watching Moana have all these breakthroughs will make it a darn good year.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hydration Issues

Yesterday I waited until 9:30 to start my long run so I could practice running in some heat. The sun was out in full force by then. It was not crazy heat, but certainly hot enough to make it more challenging than it would have been had I headed out at 6AM.

Anyway, maybe I started off a little dehydrated after a massive long hard workout on Saturday, but I have to say, I had to drink so much on this run it was almost disturbing. I do wonder if anyone else has a body that functions like mine in the heat?

There is a water fountain 38 minutes into my run. So I carried a bottle, drank it in the first 38 minutes, got to the stop, downed another full bottle, then filled it up again to carry along for the next 50 minute section where there is no water. Drank that one down in about 35 minutes (rationing myself- it could have been gone in 15 minutes had I allowed myself) and then ran the rest of the way back to my water stop dry. Well, not really dry- my socks were already soaked through with the sweat running down my legs. My shorts were sticking to my thighs and I couldn't have been wetter had I jumped in the ocean.

Anyway, I was really happy to get here at about 90 minutes into my run. See the lifesaving water fountain?
At the stop I drank a full bottle straight down in about 15 seconds. I was afraid my stomach was going to be jostling around the whole run home, but I was still very thirsty and drank yet another one straight down. At this point I just walked around for a few minutes hoping that I'd be able to run home after having just downed like 48 ounces of water in about a minute flat.

But sure enough, after maybe 2 minutes, I was able to continue running sans any jostling at all, and drank a sixth full bottle in those last 38 minutes. And immediately upon walking through the door at home I drank some more. So doing the math, that's like 150 ounces of fluid in just over 2 hours of running. Who does that? Apparently I do. But only when it's really hot and sunny. On a cooler or cloudier day I wouldn't need so much.

The crazy thing was that it's not like I went on a peeing rampage the rest of the day. In fact, I didn't pee for about 3 1/2 hours after I was done. I have a Tanita scale that says I'm normally about 55% water, sometimes 56%. Yesterday after the run it said 54% so just a little low but not extreme by any means. Though maybe had I checked before the run I might have seen it a good bit lower? I don't know. But whatever the case, I think it's clear that my body requires more fluids than normal during hot workouts because this isn't the first time I've been through this- just the first time I'm writing about it on my blog. ;)

In good news, I did spend the rest of the day recovering with my two favorite people at the beach.
It's too cute to watch Moana crawling all over the sand. Though we do have to be quite vigilant these days because she'll crawl herself right into the waves if we aren't careful!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

For months now I've been dying to have the time to do a good 4000M workout in the pool. I wanted to swim HARD, but not just for 2000M... no, I wanted HARD for 4000M.

So naturally I was all psyched to get in the water this morning, knowing that I had plenty of time to get the whole workout in. It was especially cool too that I actually had an opportunity to chit-chat a little bit with my training partners between sets. Usually we just get down to business with the only talking being a very quick explanation of the set and then you hear something like, "5 seconds" and then we're all underwater and going.

That's how it has to be when you're cramming as many meters as possible into 50 minutes flat.

But this morning Quinn found out that I can actually be friendly when I'm not totally pressed for time. :)

Anyway, much of this mornings workout was very hard, and while I was psyched to have the opportunity to do it, I'm currently just exhausted! I forgot how much a long hard swim workout can turn you into a wet noodle for the rest of the day.

In the end though, the new arrangement with Dana coming over in the mornings is a win-win-win for everybody. Scott gets to go to work on time, I get a great swim workout in, Dana gets a quality run in, and Moana and Mercey have each other to pay with! Mercey was just as happy as she could be to get to play "Big Sister"... wanting to push Moana around in the stroller and all. I stopped her short of actually trying to feed Moana herself though in fear that the oatmeal would end up all over the kitchen floor.

The only factor I didn't consider in this whole arrangement was the fact that after I get to do my great awesome long hard swim, I get to come home and be not only mommy to my little 8 month old, but also play mommy for a 3 year old. Which can be a little bit of a challenge when you're body is functioning like a wet noodle. Though in the end, I'll take it. Dana and I are planning to continue the trade off on Mondays and Fridays, so I should have no problem getting my quality swims in from here on out. I just have this feeling though that I'm not going to be looking forward to the future ones as much as I was today. The novelty of killing yourself in really hard workouts can dissipate quickly when you're over trained and tired, ya know?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

With A Little Help From My Friends (And Neighbor!)

I'm excited about my swim tomorrow morning. Wanna know why? Well, for the first time in, well, a looong time, I get to do a whole swim workout with rushing to get home! YAY! It might sound like a little thing, but something that's been a challenge for me lately is the fact that a combination of factors (pool schedule, Scott's work schedule) has caused me to have a maximum time of about 50 minutes in the pool three times a week. That's fine if you're training for a half Ironman, but having a long swim of 2800M just doesn't cut it when you're training for an Ironman. It drives me nuts to get out in the middle of a long hard set and rush home, though that's what I've been doing for months.

I know the swim isn't my limiter in triathlons, but I still need to have at least one day a week where I can get at least an hour swim in to make sure I keep it that way.

Anyway, my neighbor is going to come over tomorrow morning at 8:00 so Scott can leave for work. It's actually a *perfect* plan that we came up with... Dana has a 3 year old daughter that she runs with just about every morning in the baby jogger. We usually see each other as I'm coming home from the pool and she's headed out for her run. Anyway, we all know that to really train for running you can't always be pushing a baby jogger, but Dana doesn't have anyone to watch Mercy so she can get a quality run in. SO, she's going to come over and watch Moana so I can finish up my swim workouts without rushing. Then when I get home, she'll leave Mercy here to play with Moana so she can go running on her own. Perfect, no?

I'm really excited about this trade-off and I hope it works out! Though I'll admit, I have no idea what to do with a 3 year old. Guess I'll figure that out tomorrow... If any of you have 3 years olds and can offer up some insight, by all means, help me out! ;)

Anyway, in other news, Moana and I and met Kelley and Sara at the beach today. I'm dying that neither of us had a video camera, because Moana and Sara were totally chatting it up with each other today! It was too cute. Their conversation went something like this:

Sara: "Ga ga ga ga ga ba ka!"

Moana: "Ahhh ah ah ma ma ba!!"

Sara: "Ba ba ba dah dah ah!!!"

Moana: "Ahh ba ba ba ah ah!!!!"

Who knows what they were saying? It did seem like they were actually carrying on a conversation though. Maybe they were talking about what cool moms Kelley and I are for bringing them to the beach to play. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm sure that's what they were saying.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Moana's Favorite Things

Life this week has been a delicate balance. I've been training. A lot. I feel TIRED. I want to nap but have to chase Moana around instead to make sure she isn't getting into anything that could hurt her. Most of the time she's not really getting herself into dangerous situations, but she does have the ability to get herself quite dirty. Clearly that is a hit on my housekeeping skills, though I swear, if you were to look at my house you'd think it was clean... Moana just has a way of finding the really dirty spots and focusing her time there.

Take right now, for example. She just crawled up to my computer and is trying desperately to get her grungy little hands on the keyboard. Her face is a mess. I think it's because she was trying to lick the screen door just now.

She has this new ability to pull herself up to standing on anything and everything in the house. And she's tall enough now to reach right up onto my desk and pull down anything that might be there. Note to self: clean my desktop.

Current favorite things to do around the house:

1. Find a stack of magazines and pull them off the table one by one until they are all on the floor. Then randomly rip a page out of each one.

2. Chase the dog or the cat. Ally has the ability to escape by jumping up on the couch. Hoku can't jump so she kind of gets herself cornered sometimes and that's not so good. Sometimes I shut her (the dog, not the baby) in the laundry room. I tell myself that it's for her own safety, when really it might be that I just vacuumed and want to keep the floor dog-hair-free for just like 10 minutes.

3. Bang the dog's water bowl on the wood floors. That makes a good loud noise. It also gets the floor all wet if mommy doesn't remember to empty out the water every morning first thing. Poor Hoku not only has to hide for her safety, she is also quite dehydrated.

4. She's learning to stand on this car thing. It rolls though and sometimes she gets supremely irritated that it won't just stay in one place. She's taken several steps with it going forward but hasn't thought that was as exciting as I thought it was.

5. Moana is obsessed with the radio in her room. It sits on the floor and she is always in there pushing the buttons and changing the channel. We listen to a real variety of music when she is in charge. And sometimes we just get static.

6. She is also obsessed with the remote control. Any remote control. The other night Scott and I were watching a movie and she got a hold of the remote and pushed something that muted the TV. But not the mute button. It took us about 15 minutes to figure out that our tuner has 'Stereo A' and 'Stereo B'. For future reference, it needs to be on Stereo A to produce sound.

Finally, the girl likes to eat. Even though she still only has 1 tooth. Clearly, it is now time for some grub. She's not kidding. She can't really talk yet but I'm pretty sure she's saying, Mom, get off that computer and feed me already!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

North Shore Swim Race #2

This morning was the second of the North Shore Swim Series races... it was a triangle swim in Waimea Bay... supposedly 1.2 miles but may have been just a little long? Who knows. I almost always question the distances of open water swims because, really, who knows how long it actually is? I think race directors guess a lot. In the end, it doesn't really matter.

In the winter, Waimea Bay can look like this*.

Lucky for us, it's not winter.

In the summer, it's usually like a beautiful lake in this bay. Our start line today was between these rocks.

They did actually put a couple of buoys on the course today which was nice, but one of our turn points was a Giant Black Rock instead of a Giant Orange Buoy so it wasn't like they totally gave in and made it easy.

Anyway, the women started 5 minutes behind the men today, which always presents a challenge half way through the race when your goal goes from stay on her feet to don't get kicked in the face by that guy doing breaststroke.

If you've been reading my blog and remember from two weeks ago, there was a little confrontation at the end of the first race- essentially, I got yelled at by a gal I regularly race against for drafting off of her and then passing her at the end. In an effort to keep our rivalry friendly, I told her last time that I would not draft off of her for the rest of the races. I did not say I wouldn't draft at all, because we all know that's the name of the game in swim racing, but I did keep my promise not to draft off of her. So today, she and I lined up on opposite ends of the start line and when the horn sounded it was an all out sprint as usual.

The first 15 seconds were pretty tough on me as I got pummelled over by a whole bunch of high school swimmer girls in string bikinis. A dream come true for many men I suppose, but I wasn't so thrilled about it at the time.

It took me a while to get into a groove and find some feet that I liked. About half way through I saw a bunch of white water up ahead and figured I knew just who was making all those bubbles... only one local swimmer I know kicks like that in open water swim races... I confirmed it was the gal I thought it was by checking her cap and the tan lines on her legs from her cycling shorts, and then felt quite satisfied with myself for finding her. Tucked in comfortably on her feet, I figured I must be doing just fine if I was here with her.

That nice ride lasted for just a few minutes and then the swim course turned into an obstacle course and the name of the game became Maneuver Safely Around All These Men.

From that point on I was pretty much on my own, though I could see White Water Kicker up there a couple body lengths ahead of me, I just couldn't get to her because of all the men in my way. But then I look off to my left and lo and behold, there's my good friend and training partner, Nalani! She was nice enough to wear a very bright suit this morning so there was no mistaking that it was her. Just like we do most mornings of the week, Nalani and I swam side by side and pushed each other right toward that finish line. We ran up the beach together and she got me at the line by .4 seconds. Love it.

In the end, I came second in my age group behind a gal that is Uber-Swimmer, and ended up about 25 seconds ahead of Jana, who, I am happy to report, could not find a reason to yell at me again today.

In good news, this race didn't kill me like the last one did. Afterward I still had the energy to get my long run in, so I ran for a couple of hours along the north shore. It ended up being quite a hot afternoon, and I tell ya what, a dip in the ocean sure was sounding like a good idea as I was finishing up that final mile. So I took my last gel (to make sure I didn't bonk while floating on my back) and jumped right in, running shorts and all. Lucky I live Hawaii. Yes.

*By the way, I totally stole these pictures off the Internet bc I did not bring the camera today. And I did not bring the camera today because it died last week. Grrr.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hill Repeats

I gotta say, I was pretty disappointed about missing my quality run on Tuesday since I was sick. Given that running is my weakness, I've really been looking forward to those key run sessions, knowing that no matter how much they hurt, they are making me stronger. So skipping them sometimes hurts worse than actually doing them.

Given that I was feeling back to my old self yesterday, I sent Jen an email and asked if I could do Tuesdays run this morning instead of the easy run that would have been on tap had I been following the normal schedule. She said ok. YES!

The run workout this week was to find a hill that would take about a minute to run up, and charge up it 8 times. That didn't sound all that hard to me, but I figured it would be once I was actually doing it. See, I run hills all the time here. There's no flat option unless I were to drive myself to the track- even just running over to the track I've got some hills to cover before I get there.

But I've heard that running up hills during normal workouts is different than running up hills during a hill workout. I was about to find that out for myself.

Part of my challenge was to pick the right hill. I was pretty much a victim of overchoice when it came to this... But when she said to run about 2 miles before and after, I knew just where to go.

This incredible park is just over 2 miles from my house. I know I've written about it several times before, but it's just the most awesome place to run and it's my sanctuary so I can't help but write about it again. Humor me. ;)

So this first hill was where I watched the sun come up this morning.

I placed my water bottle on the grass next to a plant that would serve as my Start Line. Then I charged up the hill and around the corner until I got to a 'Caution Pedestrians' sign that would serve as the Finish Line. First time up, OUCH. This is going to hurt. 7 more times.

I gave myself two minutes to walk/jog down the hill to recover, so the repeats were on 3 minutes (You just can't take the swimmer out of me- I need interval 'Go' times.) I let my watch run continuously and went off on my hill attack every time the number was a multiple of 3. This was key because then I didn't have to worry about losing count after my brain was officially oxygen deprived and ceased having the ability to do simple math. Just keep going until the watch said 24 minutes and then jog home.

By the sixth one I could feel myself starting to fall apart... desperately swinging my arms (and whole upped body) as if that would help my feet pick themselves up off the pavement... I had to make a conscious effort to not let my shoulders actually touch my earlobes... My legs felt like J.E.L.L.O. Who would have known that just a few hard minutes could produce such an effect?

I barreled up the hill for the eighth time as fast as I could. WOW! I made it~ 5 seconds faster than I'd done the first few! Gasping for breath at the top. Hands on my knees as I tried to steady myself and not actually fall over. Goal accomplished. I worked that hill. I own that hill.

But I was happy for every red light I got to stop and wait at during that jog home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What Do You Mean, I Can't Call In Sick??

Monday night my back started feeling all achy. At first, I attributed it to the weight lifting session I'd had in the gym that morning. I tried to remember all the exercises I'd done in an effort to figure out which one might have the been the culprit of the excessively achy back, but then realized that other than the pull-ups, I didn't really do any back exercises. So what's up with the aching back?

And why did my neck hurt? And now a headache? Uh oh. This was looking like the flu more and more with each passing minute.

I woke up Tuesday morning with what felt like a fever and my whole body just ached. My skin even hurt. It was bad. I sent Nalani a text message and told her I would not be showing up for our planned hill run. GRRRR. Another key run session missed because I was sick. GRRRR again.

But you know what's the worst part about being really sick when you're a mom? You can't really be a mom. Not a good one anyway. I was flat out on the floor in tears as Scott left for work yesterday morning... had no idea how I was going to handle my little Baby On The Move all day long when I couldn't really move myself. Um, I'd like to call in sick. But who do you call in sick to when you're a mom??

Anyway, I just sort of hung out on the floor most of the day and let Moana use me as a jungle gym. Apparently my body on the floor is way more interesting than pretty much anything else on the floor. In great news, she did take two rather long naps yesterday which helped me immensely. I felt really bad for the first one... Apparently I fell asleep right there on the floor and so did she. It's sort of sad to see your little girl sound asleep on the floor because you weren't responsible enough to get her into her crib. Just call me Mom Of The Year. But I eventually woke up, transferred her carefully to her crib, and climbed back in bed.

I guess the good news about being hit that hard by the flu is that usually those really intense bouts don't last that long. It was really just a 24 hour thing and I started feeling better last night. Phew! In the end, I guess I'd rather have one horrible day of being sick than a week of just feeling kind of sick but less than 100%. I feel fine today, although when I emailed Jen and asked her if I could ride my trainer today her reply came back, "NO NO NO!"

See, left to my own devices, I'd totally be on my trainer right now. But I guess this is why we hire coaches- to keep us from doing things that'll just keep us down. In the end, I'd rather be 100% and able to get in a good hard training session than just keep pushing myself when I'm down and never get better. Hopefully this extra day of rest will leave me feeling fresher this weekend so I can put in a good couple days of key training.

And it didn't turn out to be a terrible day for Moana. Check it out, she even found a new friend to play with.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mama Found Her Mojo

I just had a great weekend of training! It's Sunday night... I'm feeling quite satisfied with the weekend that I just had. Phew!

I spent much of the month of June trying to get my mojo back. I know its very common to have some 'down' time after a big race that you've been focusing on for a long time... And while I can't say I was like, depressed, or anything, after Honu, I did spend about a month feeling somewhat unmotivated to train. Physically I didn't feel great and I felt like I was just going through the motions during my workouts, if you know what I mean.

In my head, Ironman Training began July 1, so I was trying hard to shift my mental focus back to wanting it... I needed to have some hunger for training... But I think I was just so physically tired (or something??) that it just wasn't happening for me.

But finally, this weekend, I felt it. My mojo came back.

The training plan called for an 80 mile ride, including 5 x 5 min hard toward the end, followed by a 4.5 mile run, including a 20 minute hard effort after I got going. That's a tough workout to do if you're just going through the motions.

Turns out, the group ride turned into a girl's ride, and the only two girls were Sandy and myself. As much as I like riding with the guys, riding with Sandy can be just as good. Our average speed may not be quite as fast without a boy up front breaking the wind, but that just means that she and I work harder to do it ourselves. Like we would in a race. So we took turns taking loooong pulls (like 20-25 minutes at a time) and just cruised in our aero bars at a steady effort... until the 5 minute intervals... when we just jammed down the road at a pace normally reserved for a 20K TT. It was awesome.

At the end of the ride, Sandy checked her computer, and we decided that our average speed for the day would have made us both quite happy with our bike splits if we were to ride the same pace in Kona.

Quick change of clothes after I got home and I was off running. In some sick kind of way, I was kind of glad that Jen gave me the green light to push the run for 20 minutes. Many times I'm told to just keep it steady, but not yesterday. Instructions said HARD, in capital letters. So I cruised through the first couple miles of my normal brick run at my normal pace, and then picked it up. I ended up running about 90 seconds faster than I usually do that run- with all of that gain in the last 2.5 miles. I almost peed myself when I looked down at my watch at the end. Really? A PR on this run course after that ride?? Niiice.

Focus on recovery... drink, eat, ice bath, compression socks... 4th of July celebrations... and off to bed before my 2 hour run today.

I remember when I first started training for Ironmans. Like, a looong time ago. First of all, we knew nothing about training methods or recovery or nutrition or whathaveyou. But beyond that point, I was just not physically capable of completing two hard workouts on back to back days. Every time I tried to do a long run the day after a long bike, I would completely fall apart and end up walking, head down, toward home.

I think it really takes years to teach your body how to Go Long. I know some people can do it seemingly overnight... but those folks must have more genetic talent (or something??) than I do, because for me, it took years.

Anyway, my body finally 'gets it'. After 15 years of triathlon training, I can finally say that I can pull off a great long run the day after a great long brick!

I was amazed at how fresh I felt when I woke up this morning. Since my legs didn't feel heavy or anything, I chose my hilly long run... the one that goes up and down relentlessly for 5 miles... and then at the end of the road I snuck through the fence and kept going up the unmaintained road that climbs up the side of a mountain... up up up... and then down... until the road actually ended at a highway that I wasn't going to cross. Turn around and go up up up and then down down down* and then eventually back to the park where it was time to turn the engines ON and push it for 20 minutes. I felt like a rock star running that section... I knew I was working harder than I'd ever worked on a long run (I've been a long time student of the slow long run philosophy, but Jen is teaching me to change up pace during long runs). I felt like I could actually pick my knees and feet up and run up the hills, rather than just slog up them like sometimes I do. Sweet! When I got to the gate that marked the end of the park road, I saw yet another PR on my watch. Gotta like that. I cruised home at what felt like an easier pace, but it was still as fast as I went last week when I ran shorter and pushed it. Go figure.

And now, with my compression socks on, I am actually feeling pretty good. Not nearly as beat up as you'd think after a couple of days like that. I think the key for me is making my easy days EASY. Thursday and Friday were both just aerobic easy days, so clearly that was the key for me this weekend. Keeping easy days EASY allows me to be fresh(er) for the hard days so I can go HARD.

And when I see numerical proof on my watch that I am improving, that goes a long way toward bringing back that mojo I had leading up to Honu.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hoku Loves The Cheerios

So things are a bit crazier around here now that Moana is On-The-Go. My stay-at-home-mom job has really turned into a game of Chase The Baby... or Make Sure The Baby Doesn't Conk Her Head... or Don't Let Baby Touch The Bikes.

Since we don't have a garage, my bikes reside in a little nook near the kitchen. They are currently barricaded with a chair, which only does a mediocre job of keeping a curious baby away from the greasy chains.

And seriously, who really cares about a little road grime on a baby's hands? I mean, shoot, her hands are constantly covered with dog hair now that she's crawling everywhere. I vacuum every day, but the second that Hoku stands up and walks across the room, the wood floor is once again carpeted with black hair. We need a yard.

And speaking of vacuuming... lucky me! Moana is not (yet?) afraid of it. Most of the time I do it while she's taking a nap upstairs, but sometimes I do it while she's awake. The other day I held her in my left arm while vacuuming with my right just because I wanted her to be near the loud machine in hopes of minimizing any future irrational fear she might acquire. She had no problem with it. In fact, she reached out for the handle as if to push it herself. One of these days I'll be blogging about how Moana vacuums the room herself every morning as part of her daily chores.

Let me live in my own little Dream World, will ya?

Anyway, it can get a little dangerous around here if I'm not watching Moana every second. One of her favorite past times these days is to cruise around the house looking for stuff she can climb up on to stand. The dishwasher is a favorite for sure. Which isn't a problem now that I'm remembering to put the knives up high or in the back.

So Hoku has really taken a bigger interest in Moana lately. I'd like to say that it's because she really just adores the little baby who likes to grab her hair but doesn't know the meaning of the word gentle, but I don't think that's actually the case. But it might be the Cheerios. Usually in the evenings while I'm trying to make dinner, I stick Moana in this scooter chair thingie and let her cruise around the house. You should see her in this thing- she runs! And then BANG! Right into the wall. It's pretty funny. Anywho, lately I've been putting Cheerios on the little tray table thing. They keep her occupied, but she doesn't eat them. Instead she throws them on the floor, one by one... and Hoku wags her tail and follows her around like a puppy. Or like a vacuum cleaner. Inevitably there will be a Cheerio or two left in the seat after I put Moana to bed, and Hoku finds those too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Raising The Bar

July 1. My friend Mike called today the start of "Over-Training Camp". Ha! Good thing I have a coach to keep me from doing all of Mike's workouts.

I think it's something like 14 weeks til Kona. I'm looking at it as 3 months of training- July, August, and September... Because October will just be 9 days of taper and then race day.

So even though I've been training plenty over the last few weeks, in my head, Ironman Training started today. It's more of a mental shift than anything so far because my actual training schedule isn't yet altogether different from what I was doing leading up to Honu. Although I would suspect that it'll become bigger here shortly.

I'm no stranger to IM training. This will be the tenth time I've trained for an Ironman. I have no idea how many 100+ mile rides I've done over the years. A lot. Last time I trained for an Ironman (Kona 2007) I did eight long rides (95-115 miles) and ran after every one of them.

The thing is though, last time I trained for an Ironman, I didn't have to be a mom as soon as I got home from those long workouts. In fact, I think most of the time I was able to just eat and shower and eat and stretch and eat and then sleep. By myself. So it'll be interesting this time around to see how I do with what will likely be some compromised recovery. Already I've dealt with some of that... like when I do a long run in the early AM hours during the week... I walk in the door all sweaty and thirsty with my heart rate still up above 150 and before I can blink I get handed a baby as my husband is rushing out the door to work. It's like Tag Team parenting around here when I'm training a lot.

Luckily Scott is supportive and understands that this big stuff isn't year round. Though I'll probably owe him every Saturday all winter long so he can surf and play soccer...

Anyway, Nalani and I have a new swim training partner. Just when you start to think you're swimming pretty fast, along comes an ex-collegiate swimmer to serve you up a piece of Humble Pie. Quinn is awesome, in a lot of ways. Nalani met her at the swim race last weekend and invited her to join our AM training sessions. She showed up on Monday and then again this morning. I really like her. But Nalani and I just about died trying to keep up with her. There actually is no keeping up with her. Maybe just trying not to get lapped by her is a better description of what we're doing. It's good though. Swimming with Quinn is raising the bar for me. No getting complacent and thinking my swim is good enough...

Which makes me think about a lot of the other people I surround myself with... I definitely feel some sort of magnetic pull toward people who are faster than me. I like to find them and train with them. They push me. They also make me feel slow a lot of the time, which is okay. When I am constantly comparing myself to the fastest people around, it's inevitable that I will feel "slow". But where's the drive to get faster if you're always the fastest one around?