Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Ocean Around Oahu

Some random stuff for you on a Wednesday...

Just saw a cool video clip of amazing Australian Ultra Swimmer Penny Palfrey who (yesterday) broke the record (again) for the Kaiwi Channel swim... that would be Moloka'i to Oahu and she did it in just over 12 hours. I look at those conditions and salivate. I hope it's just like this on Sunday! Not that I have much interest in swimming for 12 hours, but 2 hours in conditions like that would be epic and a heck of a lot of fun! I wonder if Penny will hang around this weekend for the Double Roughwater Swim and take us all to school?? I sent her a FB message and asked her to.

Speaking of fun(?) ocean conditions, here's what North Shore Oahu (this is Waimea Bay) looks like in winter. Not sure why this guy is trying to stand up paddle at Waimea when shorebreak is like 3x overhead? I saw a follow up picture on FB and, well, that wave did indeed take him to school. I bet he won't try that again.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Like Riding A Bike

Last night I spent a bit of time on Training Peaks and looked through some of my training from last year... I gotta say, it was really quite fun/amusing to read through my bike/run workouts from January... that was my first real foray into HR training the right way (vs just wearing a HR monitor and watching what my HR did rather than actually changing anything up because of it)... I smiled as I read my notes about how frustrated I was going so slowly on the run trying to keep my HR in range... For many reasons (and that review process is the main one) I'm glad I always keep good detailed notes of each training session.

Anyway, what was especially fun was to read back on my bike workouts and what I was feeling that first month. My bike fitness progressed a ton faster than my run fitness last year and it wasn't long at all before I was riding a pretty decent pace at a rather low HR and according to my notes I was always amazed at how I didn't feel smashed or anything after some fairly long (yet not that slow!) workouts. And that meant I could back up every workout with another workout and another workout... solid stuff and I loved it.

So I haven't been riding my bike much at all since Ironman. Maybe a couple little rides here and there but nothing longer than maybe 40' and all on my road bike just la la la sight-seeing like a tourist. But I've been feeling some motivation to get back on my bike lately so today I got out my TT bike and my Garmin and actually did a short ride with some HR guidelines in mind. I was completely mentally prepared to cruise at my tourist pace since that's what I had to do last year for a few weeks as I was getting back into biking... but interestingly, that was not the case today! I was surprised to see that my HR was acting like it was August instead of late November. Apparently all that work I did last year (and progress I made!) did not just melt away in my 6 weeks off the bike. Nice! So looks like this year I won't have to spend a couple months just getting my aerobic system in place... it's still there... yay! Instead I'll get to focus on strength right from the start- which I think was my limiter on the bike last year. It's fairly common to have strength limiter so I am not alone there, BUT I am looking forward to seeing how strong I can get on the bike in 2012. In all honesty going into Kona last month I was fairly confident in my biking ability but I was quickly very humbled by how fast some of those other girls were riding... Interestingly, rather than feeling intimidated by that, I find myself feeling inspired. I can do that too. I know I can. I am feeling motivated! :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Happy Place

Well you will all be happy to know that I broke my funk! Mamasimmons is back. Phew! All it took was a 2+ hour run with 1700ft of climbing. :)

I think I was just missing the challenge of having any real 'meaty' workouts this week so it was awesome to go to my favorite route and run it feeling like something other than a lumbering elephant. It is certainly the case with me that I need to have good solid challenges on my plate. This run took me to my happy place.

Interestingly (don't tell my husband) I could not stop thinking about UltraMan during this run... and what a cool challenge that would be... I have some serious curiosity about just how hard it must be given that super ultra athletes Rich Roll and Jonas Colting both dropped out and DNF'd... If you've been following it this weekend you know they all mentioned the wind and they were not kidding- this really was one of the windiest weekends we've had all year with sustained winds of 20-30+mph. That's just relentless crap to ride through- and shoot, that kind of wind is tough to run through too! Anyway, we'll see if this UltraMan fantasy of mine is just a passing phase or if it actually becomes a goal at some point... I was thinking today that it would be super cool to go crew for someone next year and that would obviously give me more insight and probably set me straight and cure any crazy thoughts I might have about doing it myself. Or not.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In My Head

I've written like 3 different blog posts over the past week but have yet to hit publish on any of them. Do you ever go through periods where you just don't think that people really need to know what's going on in your head? That's where I'm at right now. Sometimes I read over what I write and wonder does anyone actually care about this crazy stuff going on in my head and in my world? And then I just save it and figure that since the benefit of writing it all out is actually just for me to sort out my own thoughts that I don't have to actually hit the publish button it to get what I want/need. So sorry, you're missing out on my deepest thoughts this week but here's some 'surfacy' stuff that you probably don't care about either. ;)

And just for the record, I'm not injured. I'm not pregnant. I'm not getting divorced. There is nothing crazy/big going on in my world... just in my head. Honestly, I think I'm in a bit of a tailspin because I'm just basically in between goals at the moment and don't know what to do with myself without some big race that I care about coming up at some point soon. Ok, the Double Roughwater is next week but somehow in my head that does not count as a 'big race' that I actually care about. Isn't that funny? I bet you guys all thought that I would really care about that one but it's just sort of another swim that I enjoy but it's not even on the same plane as 'Ironman' or anything to me. So of course I'll do the best I can at that swim but I'm not like banking my year on it or anything. It's just a fun challenge that I do every year.

And I'm not running the Honolulu Marathon. I got my race number thingy in the mail thing the other day... I entered the marathon last January when it was $35 for residents... I figured that $35 was not a bad price to pay to have the option of running it if I felt like I wanted to come December... I would never pay $180 or whatever it is to run that marathon (or any marathon for that matter!) which is what it costs if you miss the early entry. (Isn't it funny I'd pay $35 to not run but wouldn't pay $180 to actually run? Ha!) Anyway, I just don't feel like my running is at a point where I would cross the finish line of the marathon feeling like YES! THAT was awesome. I think I could put together a decent but not *super* (for me) marathon right now but running a marathon just to run a marathon when I don't think I'd be super happy with my result doesn't excite me much. (I'm too hard on myself at the finish line of run races so anything slower than what I really think I could do would be dissatisfying and I just don't feel the need to put myself through that again.) Honestly, it's not worth the recovery time to me when all I really want to do is train. I am enjoying run training right now and just want to keep on keepin' on and that does not involve resting for and recovering from a marathon.

Moving on. I did run a rather disappointing 1/2 marathon last weekend. It wasn't actually truly terrible until the last 3 miles... which I guess are pretty much universally terrible in 1/2 marathons but really this was like all of a sudden I'd picked up a 3000lb grand piano and put it on my back to carry up and over Diamond Head at the end. True story- While I was 'running' those last 3 miles I had the thought that 9' pace was actually a decent pace to be moving given that 3000lb piano on my back. Ha! Interestingly 4 days later I ran a 10 mile Turkey trot on the same course, called it a tempo run in my head (instead of a 'race'), felt absolutely horrible warming up, yet ended up coming through 10 miles faster than I did the first 10 miles of the half marathon and feeling 100x stronger. That sort of just solidified in my head that some days are just better running days than others. Go figure.

Anyway, we had a nice Thanksgiving. Nalani's family has the brilliant idea of having pie and coffee for breakfast on the beach (isn't that a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition?!?). So then later when you're stuffed from Turkey and potatoes and green beans you don't also have an obligatory piece of pie to stuff down. If you eat the pie in the morning after a solid 10 mile tempo run you can really enjoy it. :) Anyway, I thought it was brilliant. And here's what it looked like...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Twinkle Think... Twinkle Think...

Moana had a party at pre-school today and came home with a helium balloon. She let it go when she came inside and it ended up on the kitchen ceiling. It was cute to watch her drag a chair under the balloon and stand on it to grab it and pull it down. I gave her a high five b/c she was super proud of herself for 'solving the problem'.

Mama! I solved the problem!! Mama mama mama I solved the problem! Mama I solved the problem! Mama mama mama... (she is in the repeat everything 100x stage... that I hear lasts until she's about 13).

A few minutes later (after re-creating and solving the same problem several times) she let go of the balloon in our living room and then let out a very loud SHRIEK when she realized that vaulted ceilings provide a problem that cannot be solved with a chair. There was quite a bit of serious (and rather obnoxious) whining at first. Since we watch Sesame Street pretty much every day, we were able to calm her down by telling her that we need to Twinkle Think... Twinkle Think... (if you have a toddler you probably understand this reference... if not, use your imagination) about how to solve this new problem. That made her smile and eventually with the use of a broom pole daddy helped her solve the problem.

All this problem solving reminded me how much I enjoy solving problems. That I am indeed happiest when I have a problem to solve. Right now I have a couple of problems that, in the big scheme of things, are not very big problems, but they are problems for me nonetheless. One of these problems is that my running is (still) slower than I want it to be... which I know is not a unique problem and it is, indeed, a problem I have had for, well, let's see, since I started trying to run? Maybe it's a problem I'll never truly 'solve', because really, how many people truly think I am really happy with how fast I am running... Um, is there anyone who thinks that?? So this problem of mine is rather universal yet I whine about it sometimes even though I know that is very obnoxious. Anyway, I have spent a good amount of time Twinkle Thinking and hopefully have come up with some potential solutions. Unfortunately, this one won't be solved in a matter of about a minute with a long broom, but I think some diligent smart work over the next several months will point me in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keeping The Dermatologist In Business

So today I made my annual trek to the dermatologist. We have Kaiser insurance which has turned out to be way better than I anticipated... mostly b/c the folks at Kaiser understand and promote preventative medicine better than what I experienced when I had a regular open health insurance. Anyway, they know I am a crazy triathlete who spends too many hours in the sun my health history and consequently send me appointment cards in the mail telling me I have an appt to come in b/c they want to make sure to get rid of all my little pre-cancerous spots before they become a big deal.

Anyway, I took Moana with me and she was just awesome the whole time. She loves going to the doctor! Go figure. At her 3 year appt she got 3 vaccines and a TB test and didn't even flinch when the needles went in (and she watched! Brave girl!)... so today while doc was freezing my spots off I was totally pretending to be as brave as she was... though I was not watching... not that I could have seen anyway. Most of my spots were on my upper back and neck and, um, that freezing stuff stings. And then it burns. And then it blisters. OUCH. In all I had 7 spots that he thought were pre-cancerous and one that had developed further into a basal cell on the back of my neck that he actually numbed up and cut out today. Of course my first/only question before I let him cut was Am I going to be able to swim because I have a swim race in less than two weeks so if not I can come back after and you can cut away all you like but he assured me I could swim tomorrow no problem. Phew.

In more good news, he said I didn't have anything else that looked serious, though he did move me up to the 6 month appointment slot vs the annual one so clearly I'm not off the hook here. Now all of you who live where the sun don't shine all winter can give a little nod of thanks that you don't have to worry about this stuff as much as we do here in the land of year round ocean swimming and sleeveless bike jerseys and zinc sunscreen.

(And before any of you go ape shit on me about not wearing enough sunscreen, you should know that 100% of my basal cells and pre-cancerous spots have come on my upper body where I was exposed to mantle field radiation 12 years ago during treatment for Hodgkin's Disease. I can lather on sunscreen all day and I am still going to be at higher risk than you due to this history.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reflections: The Swim Block

First, by the numbers:
~50,000 meters done in 11 swims over 8 days in 5 different pools and two ocean locations. (Estimated 50,000 b/c ocean swims are not exact, but it's pretty darn close.) I didn't keep track of exact minutes or anything but logged ~16 hours of swim time. All that done with 1 awesome training partner who made it way more fun than it would have been solo.

Most challenging part:
~Finding the time to do it all... This was more challenging logistically than say a bike or run week would be simply b/c of pool hours and availability we had to work around. Good thing we had the ocean as an option as well.

The hardest workout:
~ The first one last week Wednesday 5 x 1000's. That workout trashed me. Lucky for me we got to do that one twice.

The least enjoyable workout:
~The second one last Thursday morning. I was still trashed from Wednesday and the water was freezing and it was dark out the whole time.

The most enjoyable workout:
~Tuesday morning sunrise ocean swim. It was simply gorgeous and glassy and glorious. Swimming doesn't really get much better than that.

The biggest surprise:
~That we both swam right through the fatigue and actually felt better as the block went on (rather than worse as I expected). Not only did we feel better, we swam faster at the end. It was awesome to do the test 1000's at the start and the finish of this week... Interestingly, my slowest one this morning was faster than my fastest one last week... In total I dropped 93 seconds (combined total for 4x1000's) with the last two each being a full 30" faster than the last two I did last week.

More deep thoughts about swimming a lot... These might seem a bit rambling but remember I just spent ~16 hours swimming so I had lots of time in my own brain... In no particular order...

~When you swim 3x/week for maybe 2-3 hours total, swimming is not nearly as natural and automatic as it becomes when you spend 16 hours/week doing it. If you want to feel more natural and confident in the water, spend a lot of time there.

~ I was very rarely bored in the pool. Go figure.

~I was crazy stiff/tight for the first ~3 days and then either it got better or I became numb to it but I swear right now I am not as tired/fatigued/sore as I was on Friday. I talked to Lucho about it yesterday and told him that I expected to feel like I was sliding right down the side of a mountain all week and was nervous about how quickly I felt like I was descending last week Thursday (day 2!). I was rather certain that by Sunday I would have been in the depths of hell on those 100x100's... But instead of sliding down out of control, by the 4th day I got my grip and actually started clawing my way back up. And then by day 6 I found myself climbing a whole different mountain- one that was higher than the one I was on last week.

~While I would admit that it was common for me to wake up in the morning feeling like I'd been hit by a bus, by the time I got up and had some coffee and hopped in the pool and got going I was okay. Same story told by Nalani so it's not like I am a freak of nature here- she fared physically and mentally pretty much exactly like I did.

~Surprisingly, I did not need a feed bag all week. Maybe a little more hungry than normal but not ridiculously so. I did find that I was very thirsty and my skin was very dry (there were days- ok really that was just Monday- where I swam doubles where I didn't even get out of my bathing suit between swims- true story- and I swear I felt like my skin was fuzzy from the chlorine. Nasty.) I also felt sleepy a lot and stiff especially through my upper body but also my legs.

~Pretty much universally when I swam doubles I felt physically better on the second workout of the day. That's the same story I've got for running so maybe afternoons are just a better time for me physically?

~Where's the physiology in what we found out this week? I don't really get it... science would say that as we use our muscles a lot and get fatigued that we would perform worse, not better. The improvement/adaptation part is supposed to come after we allow our bodies an opportunity to recover, which, when we're swimming 2x/day doesn't seem like recovery? I mean, Sunday 10,000M, Monday swam twice for 6700M, Tuesday swam twice for 6500M, then this morning swam faster than I've swam in years? Hmmm. I would say that yes, physically I felt better but that maybe the biggest difference was in my head... My confidence this morning was sky high and I had that Eminem song in my head (I'm Not Afraid) as I just ripped off evenly split 1000's that just got progressively faster as the swim went on. I knew I was not going to fall off any cliffs and I think the confidence I gained this week was the biggest benefit of doing the swim week.

~I'm really glad we did this swim block. Like I said above, the biggest benefit for me may have been emotional/mental vs physical... I thought it was super cool to pay attention to how my body was physically responding and teach myself that my limits are so much further out there than I even thought they were. This week, while challenging, did not put me at my physical limit (as far as volume goes) which of course begs the question- Where's the limit? I still don't know... which is rather cool I think. I absolutely loved the challenge of this though.

~I don't think I'll repeat this swim block in the near future, primarily because I don't think it is the wisest way for me to spend my training time and energy. The swim is not my limiter. I will say though that after this week I am now in love with the idea of sport specific blocks and without question I will be putting in some very big bike and run weeks in 2012. I feel like this week was further proof that our bodies adapt to whatever stresses we place upon them. Guess what kind of stress I'm going to apply next? ;)

If you have any other burning questions about this swim block, feel free to ask below... I'm happy to answer!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunrise Swimming

This morning I dragged myself out of bed at o'dark-thirty to go swimming again. We dove in the ocean just as the sun was coming up and I found myself breathing.every.single.stroke because this is what my view looked like. It turned out to be one of the most glorious swims we've had all year. I really have nothing to complain about.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Going Fast Is Harder Than Going Long

Spoiler alert! Swimming 100x100's is not that hard.

Really, it wasn't! I'd say the hardest part was arranging the logistics and finding a pool that was open when we needed it to be open... Once that part was set it was just mind over matter in getting it done. I will say though, had we tried to do this at the Marine Corp base where the water is not heated I likely would not have made it. As it was, I had goosebumps for the last ~30x100's and the water we were in was probably near 80 degrees. BUT, there was a hot tub and it was indeed hot and we hung out there post swim for ~10' and then I was totally fine and started drinking beer. :)

Back to the beginning... last night I was packing my bag with everything I thought I would need for this morning and I counted out 100 raisins and put them in a little baggie for Nalani... she loves raisins and I thought it would be a fun little treat for her to eat one after each repeat. I knew we would not actually need those raisins to keep count (we had watches for that) but it was still kind of a fun little gimmick to help pass the time nonetheless.

The place we swam this morning had both a short course pool and a long course pool... unfortunately we were relegated to the short course pool to start which was a bit of a bummer but beggars cannot be choosers so we did not complain at all! We spent the first 20 x 100's warming up and kept the pace super relaxed. First 10 @ 1:40, next 10 @ 1:35 and we cruised 1:23-1:25 for those.

The next 40 were the meat of the whole set... originally planning to do 40 @ 1:40 but that was assuming longcourse so we changed it to @1:30 since we were shortcourse... I do think 1:30 SCY is easier than 1:40 LCM but then flip turns are a strength for me... anyway, we got through 4 of them and then got the tap that the LCM pool was open for us... YAY! So we gathered our stuff and moved to the other pool and restarted the 40 @ 1:40. It was not hard to keep count for those either b/c 10@1:40 takes 16:40 and every time my watch got to 16:40 I hit split so it started over and we just did that until we got to 16:40 4x. Again, we just swam steady effort and came to the wall 1:32-1:34 for each of those and just kept knocking them out. No real speed involved there but we did not fatigue or slow down at all either.

With 60 down (really 64!) we were over the hump (and it seemed like just about done really) we got our toys (play time!) and pulled the next 10 easy with just a buoy @1:45 (mostly this was like a mental break), then put on our paddles and swam 10 with just paddles @1:40... Then the plan was to finish up the last 20 with paddles, bands, buoy @1:40 again but BONUS we had already done those 4 in the scy pool so we really only had 16 left to hit 100! And honestly, after 84 x 100's, 16 felt like nothing and they went by in a flash. We were a bit fatigued at the end of course but I wouldn't say I felt worse at the end than I did after the first 60... and in the end we both agreed that a 20 mile run is harder. Shoot, even a 10K run where you're racing is harder. A 2.4 mile ocean swim race is harder. Shoot- even those 5 x 1000's we did on Wednesday felt harder... reduce the intensity down to nothing but steady and volume is really not that hard once you wrap your mind around doing it.

Going fast is way harder than going long. That's all I'm saying.

The funniest part of the morning... somewhere around like #75 I started smelling hamburgers on the grill. Um, really!?! People are grilling burgers right now?!? What kind of sick cruel joke is THAT?? In the 7" we had at the wall I asked Nalani if she also smelled it (was I hallucinating??) and she said yes and I swear I spent the next several 100's almost choking on the water b/c I was laughing so hard at the thought that these people were relaxing poolside with a big juicy burger while Nalani was treating herself to a single raisin after every 100! HA! That just seemed hysterically funny to me at the time. I'm totally craving a burger right now but I have not had one yet. Though I did bring a couple of beers in a cooler and we sat outside the pool under a tree and enjoyed them immensely. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Let's see... I'd say I'm 1/2 way through the big swim week but I have not done my swim yet today so not quite there... but it will only be 3K this afternoon and not that hard so I'm not the least bit concerned about it. Today is the easiest swim day on our schedule, primarily b/c it falls between the 7K ocean swim (yesterday) and the 100x100's (tomorrow).

So we were pleasantly surprised yesterday that the conditions for our ocean swim did not suck. I do think it's always good to mentally prepare for THE WORST and then when it's not that bad it seems downright pleasant! :) The weatherman totally botched the forecast for this weekend... It has not really rained at all so I don't know what that forecast about rain rain rain for 3 days in a row was about. Yesterday in town it was all blue sky and a few puffy white clouds and we were like, um, this does not look like what we thought it was going to look like! I chose to wear a wetsuit though during that long ocean swim and I'm glad I did b/c it allowed me to relax and cruise at an easier effort than normal... and then my lips did not turn blue and I was not shivering at the end so that was a big bonus too. We made it all the way to the Ala Wai Channel Marker buoy and back so basically the whole Double Roughwater course. Thinking about it today I would say that it really wasn't that bad but I will admit that after about 90' of swimming yesterday I was thinking that I was OVER IT and actually started day dreaming about running. Miracles never cease I guess.

Interestingly, this morning when I woke up I actually felt better than I did yesterday morning. My fatigue is actually less after the third day than it was after the second day. In fact, my whole upper body feels rather normal right now. Go figure. Ask me again Monday morning and I may have a different story though?

For a while yesterday our 100x100's were in jeopardy.... scheduling challenges that moms have to deal with when their husbands have stuff they want to do too meant that we needed to get that swim done in the morning instead of the afternoon but finding a pool that is open on Oahu on a Sunday morning is no easy task... I thought briefly about hopping the fence to get into our normal pool b/c really, I'm sure no one would even see us in there (and it's not like I haven't hopped fences to get into swimming pools before but I guess that was college and we were drunk and I really should not tell that story b/c, well, the police were involved and my mom reads this blog and anyway...) This community is so awesome and when I put the SOS out there yesterday Kim came through in an amazing way and figured out how to get us in to a private pool... and not just any pool... a HEATED long course pool... with lane lines. We will not know what to do with ourselves!!! Rumor has it there is also a hot tub there and a sauna... OMG. I will take pictures and post about that tomorrow. Epic workout is back ON and we owe a big thanks to Kim and Coach Joe for helping us make it happen.

I was asked if I am also running during this swim block... yes... am running! Mileage is cut down of course but I'll still get in ~35 miles this week and ~40 next week so definitely not cutting it out. I'm running a 1/2 marathon next weekend so it'll be interesting to see how that goes after all this swimming.

Did I mention we are going to a Chocolate Party tonight? I know. Perfect fueling for the 10K swim tomorrow morning. Moana is going to be a complete spaz. This will actually be her third time attending this annual party. Last year she made the evening news because she was so cute- all covered with chocolate and a big goofy grin on her face.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Swimming A Lot Kicks My Ass

Ok so we're ~1/4 of the way through... 12K of swimming done in the last 30 hours... that's about our weekly average when Ironman training (we did not swim that much all spring/summer just like 3x/week) and I am feeling it!

Yesterday we did our 5 x 1000's and they went pretty much as I thought they would. I managed to hold a steady pace with each one getting just slightly faster... the 5th one was 10" faster than the 2nd one (1st one was w/u) so they were all right there in a tight range avg 5-6"/100 slower than my t-pace in that pool. Given how I feel at this moment (after swimming twice today) I would say I'll be surprised if I can repeat that next Wednesday but we'll see. I've heard stories from cyclists who have done RAAM and they've said that while the fatigue in the beginning is high that by the end they are feeling stronger and stronger every day... that would be super if that happened but I am not holding my breath!

Our normal pool does not open until 8:30 on Tues/Thurs so Nalani and I decided to go over to a pool at Pearl Harbor (military base) this morning. It opens at 5 so she came to get me at 4:30 and I had the coffee brewed. I had flashbacks of my high school days and waking up in the middle of the night waiting for one of my teammates to come get me to drive me to swim practice (I was too young to drive). I did not drink coffee back then so I really don't know how I did it. I guess 15 year olds are just resilient like that?? Anyway, it wasn't until we arrived at the pool that I remembered how lucky and spoiled we are that our normal pool is heated... this one is not. And it was dark and very windy at 5AM and I know everyone hates it when I bitch about being cold when it is 70 degrees but I'm telling you... 70 degrees (it might have been less than that?) and no sun and 20+mph wind and an unheated pool for 4400 yd just left me completely shivering and with muscles that did not even feel functional. I will say it was nice that this pool had lane lines and a pace clock, but I will take heated water over lane lines and a pace clock any day. And let's face it, long course yards is just weird. Who builds a long course yards pool??

So I spent much of the rest of the morning writing programs (and sending emails to several of my new athletes reassuring them that yes, it is ok to jog/walk that slow if you have to to keep your HR low... trust me... it works... be diligent...) and studying these animated videos of world record holder swimmers. Can you believe the kick on that guy? For 1500M he can do that! I watched that video for probably 10' with my jaw dropped open thinking I don't know if I could do that for a 50. I'm totally a 2 beat kicker- using my kick only for balance. I really get very little propulsion from my kick, as evidenced by the fact that when I tie my feet together I only slow down maybe 4"/100... as opposed to Nalani, who has a very effective (but still 2-beat) kick and slows by ~12"/100 with bands. Anyway, so this afternoon when we went back to swim we tried some 50's where we practiced kicking faster just to see if we could do it. Very interesting to feel how for the first few I really just did not have the motor coordination to kick like that... then my brain got in touch with my muscles and it became ever so slightly more natural. Still not something I'm going to strive to switch to b/c I think as a triathlete it's not really the best idea to use so much energy kicking like that, but nevertheless it's not a bad idea to have the ability to kick in your toolbox so you can call on it if it ever becomes appropriate or necessary.

Anyway, so I am a bit worried about this weekend. I think it's going to be more challenging than we originally anticipated for a couple of reasons... a) I'm more tired than I thought I would be on Day 2... b) Weather calls for rain, high winds and 7 ft waves (small craft advisory warning... WE ARE SMALL CRAFTS... we are advised) so the 7K Roughwater course is not going to be easy (or even pleasant) tomorrow morning... and c) The pool we're planning to go to on Sunday for the 100 x 100's is similar to the one we swam in this morning in that it is not heated. GAH! I am going to freeze to death.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let The Swim Challenge Begin!

OK so tomorrow starts our 8 day swim challenge! I've come up with an outline of the schedule... logistically how we are going to fit it all in... several double day workouts and hitting up 3 different pools (working around pool hours- ugh!) as well as the ocean on 2 of the days... and we should be able to get in 45-50K over the course of 8 days. The two key days are the 2+ hour ocean swim on Friday (with kayak assist) and 100x100's (long course meters!) on Sunday.

We are going to start with 5 x 1000's tomorrow... moderately strong effort... timed just to get a baseline. Mostly I am super interested in how much this swim challenge week is going to hurt/fatigue us, so as a fun experiment we are going to finish out the challenge next Wednesday with a repeat of the 5 x 1000's to see how our times compare (doesn't that sound like fun?). I'm expecting to see a bit of a drop off in times from start to finish but then I would think that after a couple further weeks of reduced workload maybe will see a bump... say if we were to repeat the set 3 weeks later... but honestly I have no idea how we will feel?!? I have never really done anything like this before... well not in my adult life anyway. I think I did when I was in high school but I don't remember keeping track of total yardage or really paying attention much at all. I just did what my coach said and consequently I just have vague memories of swimming ~6K in the mornings and ~4K in the afternoons... wincing if I were to massage my triceps and and feeling like a zombie much of the time. It's just a week this time though so I'm not all that concerned about it (maybe I should be more concerned?)

Anyway, when I consider my reasons for attempting this week here's what I come up with:

1. I'm fairly certain I *can* do it. And the fact that it is a different challenge outside my normal training challenges makes me *want* to do it. Just sort of a break up the 'normal' week type of thing. (I'm pretty sure this is Nalani's sole reason.)

2. I'm genuinely interested in my physical response to such a week? My guess is that in the short term I will feel some real fatigue and will likely be slower at the end of the week than I was to start it. But then I would expect to see a fitness gain after a bit of recovery time but I am curious as to how much that will be? Significant benefit or no? And how much recovery will be necessary prior to seeing a gain? Unanswered questions. I do think it's cool though that Nalani will be doing the whole week (ok really its 8 days) with me though b/c then rather than an "Experiment of One" it will be an "Experiment of Two". Will we respond the same way or not? Again, unanswered questions. But maybe some interesting answers?

3. I look forward to going through this experience myself b/c several of my athletes have inquired about wanting to do something similar so I'm sure I will learn some valuable lessons (make my mistakes on myself and my gracious guinea pig Nalani) rather than making them on you. :)

Anyone out there have experience with a big swim block like this? Any predictions on how the 1000's will go on the last day vs the first? (Nalani's big question revolves around how hungry we will be after all that pool time!!?)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Perfect Saturday

I'm not really sure I could have dreamed up a better Saturday? It went something like this:

5:20 Get up and come downstairs to check IMFL swim times. All 3 of my athletes did great (2-3' PRs for the experienced guys and a very solid one for my first-timer) so phew I can breathe and brew some coffee.

5:45 Brew 2 extra french presses of coffee and put them in an airpot so it'll stay hot and be ready for us post swim.

6:10 Go pick up Nalani for our run/swim in town. Girl talk in the car. Could have ended my day right there with that and would have been happy. But it gets better!

6:45 Plan to start the run with Elizabeth and Nalani but hang on I need to check my phone one more time for IMFL updates. Steady steady they are pacing well and doing awesome on the bike. Perfect. Ok let's run! 30' venting session with the girls was just what I needed... then let it go and let's chat about more pleasant things!

8:00 Plan to start swim but delay again b/c hang on I gotta check IMFL updates again. They are all still on the bike. From the splits it looks like it was windy. I rest assured that was not an issue for them based on what they trained in here. Let's swim!

8:30 I start to think that I was quite ambitious in planning an ocean swim that included 3 x 10' tempo sections when I am the weak link of our little trio. Um, I do not want to be swimming out here alone! Kill myself to hang on to Nalani's feet (and she was generous in cruising at a pace that allowed me to do so. Mahalo, Nalani!) I should probably note that I got a nasty sting from an unknown sea creature right across my cheek- OUCH- so I guess the day wasn't 100% perfect. But in good news, we managed to navigate through some pretty big waves and we didn't get pummeled so that was a relief.

9:45 Back to my phone for more updates... YES! Gene and Patrick both biked 5:18 and are now running  at the pace they were planning to run. Sweet. See Scott and Moana who showed up at the beach park (with our dog!) as well as Elizabeth's husband/daughter (who is about 1 year older than Moana). Introduce the 2 little girls and watch them become instant friends playing in the sand and water. Really, there are not many things cuter than 2 little girls playing with sand toys at the beach like that! They were in heaven. As was Hoku who was just chasing her ball in the waves. Go get that airpot of coffee to share with my friends and spend the next hour chatting and drinking coffee on the beach while watching our daughters giggle and play. Lest you think my life is perfect I should mention that at one point I got sand in my coffee... one of the hazards of drinking coffee on the beach I guess. So again, not a *perfect* day but I won't complain! Lol. ;)

10:45 AWESOME. Gene and Patrick are both 1/2 way through the marathon and holding steady pace. Leigh is done with the bike and onto the run. Moana and Nalani and I pack up and head to another park to watch a kid's soccer game. I drive while Nalani uses my phone to get updates on everyone else we know who is racing.

Noon I start freaking out b/c is freezing up and not giving updates anymore and OMG my athletes are just about to finish and OMG somebody please give me a freakin' update!!! Finally I see Patrick's come up 9:55 which is a 20' PR for him in his 2nd IM (first one same course in 2008). He stayed totally steady the whole day and even at the end was running only ~10 sec/mile slower than he started. I literally started to get tears in my eyes as I smiled and reported his finish to Nalani (I'm such a sap!). 20' later I finally get an update on Gene who finished with a 9' PR in 10:23. Bummer for Gene he got a respiratory infection on Thursday so he was off today but even his 'off' day was not bad at all. Like Patrick, he stayed super steady all day and executed his plan and finished running only ~20"/mile slower than he started. Never fell apart.

3:00 Moana is sleeping and my phone rings and it's Leigh... Calling to tell me about how she ran every step of that marathon- started at just over 9' pace and held that the whole marathon. 4:03! She said "Michelle I remember you telling me that if I was running 9 minute miles I'd be passing a lot of people and you were right! I was passing so many people!!" Leigh was just gonna do one Ironman and was hoping to break 14 hours. Today she went 12:26 and signed up for next year. Can I brag a little more and tell you that Leigh swam 52' in the last 70.3 she did but swam 1:15 this morning?!?

OK I am drinking a beer. Holy crap I'm pretty sure coaching Ironman is a hell of a lot more fun than racing one. ;)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sidewalk Chalk Is Useful

I've totally been into apples lately and have tried lots of different ones. At this point I'm rather convinced the 'honey crisp' ones from Costco are my favorites. They are juicy and crunchy. I don't like soft apples. Anyway.

I was supposed to do my first real track/speed workout yesterday but I felt like crap so I skipped it and slept instead. Actually, back that up- I was supposed to do it on Tuesday but it had been dumping rain so much that I knew our dirt track would actually be a mud pit so we ran hills instead and rescheduled track for Thursday. Excuses excuses, right? Gah! And this was a workout I was really looking forward to doing but it just wasn't happening.

Yesterday I battled that flu virus with my typical arsenal of fruits, vegetables, kefir, and apple cider vinegar 'tea' and woke up this morning feeling better. So I wanted to do that track workout! BUT, it really hasn't stopped raining all week so our track looks like this. While Moana would probably love to run through that, and I agree it has the potential to be fun, I opted not to do that today.

In good news, I can be quite resourceful in making things happen when I want them to... so this morning I powered up my garmin and borrowed a piece of pink sidewalk chalk from Moana (one of the many benefits of having a 3 year old is the endless supply of sidewalk chalk at the house) and jogged over to a quiet neighborhood a few miles away where there is actually a flat section of road... measured out and marked my distances and set to work.

It was a perfect workout this morning and I think I executed it exactly as it was meant to be and as I was jogging home I was thinking about how *ready* I felt to finally start that type of running. I've spent ~10 months just diligently establishing my aerobic fitness and I have this base that is so huge I feel like I can do just about any workout and absorb it and recover from it so much better than I've ever been able to do in the past. The workout I did this morning would have left me tired and sore last year... but this year it just left me invigorate and hungry for more.

I've got 3 athletes racing in Florida tomorrow and 1 in Vegas. Spent much of this morning talking the Florida ones down off the cliff through dealing with cold (they are also from here and 47 degree air temp is very cold for us!). I've lost some sleep this week thinking about them and their racing this weekend. I'm pretty sure I'm more nervous being on the sidelines watching than I would be on the start line racing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My 'Off Season'

In risk of stating the obvious, um, it's NOVEMBER. Time flies when you're having fun! Though I guess it would not be an untruth to say that Oct 1 seems like absolutely forever ago. Like seriously, wasn't it like a year ago that I was packing and getting ready to go to Kona? Had to have been at least a year.

So I'm not really employing 'off-season' in a typical sense of 'off-season' the way some people interpret 'off-season'. Let's face it, since it doesn't get cold and snow here in Hawaii, we don't feel the need to hibernate like some athletes who live in normal winter climates do. We still have some races coming up in the next couple months and while I would not say I'm taking them too seriously, I do like it that they give me a bit of a sense of purpose in training... or maybe I'm just using them as an excuse to train, which is what I really like to do... and I have to say, training for the sake of training because I simply enjoy training is awesome for me. It's been such a relief to go out and just run or swim... and just run or swim and not (over)analyze how every particular workout would/could/should affect a specific race performance. And I feel the freedom to experiment with different types of training too which is rather fun. For example, Nalani and I went out running this morning and at the end as we were finishing up and feeling like we had worthless wet noodles for legs, I commented that we had done this to ourselves with a total of 7 minutes of ridiculously hard work. 7 minutes. Amazing. But cool.

Another thing I'm thinking about employing is a big swim block (Lucho gave me the thumbs up on that today which definitely means we should do it)... thinking about trying to see if we can put together an 8 day block with ~40-50K of swimming... incorporating some double days and some long swim days... now would be the time to do that and benefit from it I think, and shoot, I just think it would be a fun/cool challenge. Especially given that Nalani is game to play too. Of course she is! I think we will start that next Wednesday. Stay tuned and I'll tell you more about it as I figure it out.

So I guess you could say that while my 'off-season' isn't a traditional physical break, it is most certainly a mental break because the way I am viewing my swimming and running right now. It's just fun. Even if it's a lot. And some of it is hard. (Notice I didn't mention my bike at all... that would be because I'm not spending much time on it. That is also the reason I am actually enjoying all this rain we are getting! Running in the rain = awesome. Biking in the rain right now would make me pissy. And I am not doing anything in my 'off-season' that would make me pissy.)

And in other fun news, check this video out. I got my TRX back out (yes it hangs in my living room) and Moana is enjoying it every bit as much as me. It's like an indoor swing set that requires a strong core.

My 3 Year Old Fairy

Moana's life has been hectic this last week! I know my mom is dying for an update so here you go... :)

Thursday she turned 3. Scott's parents were here so we had a little birthday party for her and she enjoyed her cake. The icing was a bigger hit than the cake, for sure. (On Friday I had to throw the rest of the cake away b/c, well, sorry but I work from home and I have NO will power when there is cake in my house.) Moana got one of those balance bikes for her birthday so now she gets to ride bikes like mommy.

On Friday she got to go on a field trip with her school to the pumpkin patch, which is really just a farm in Waimanalo where they import a bunch of pumpkins and put them in a field... but we do what we have to do here in Hawaii where pumpkins do not grow on their own. Anyway, she came home with a white pumpkin. Interesting, I thought. I asked her if she got to pick out her pumpkin. "Yes! I picked out my pumpkin!" What color pumpkin did your friends pick?  "Orange." Were you the only one who picked out a white pumpkin? "Yes." Wow. I thought that was so cool- the fact that at 3 years old she is confident enough to go against the grain and be the only one to pick out a white pumpkin. Good girl.

Saturday we went to the zoo with grandma and grandpa. What do you see?

Good thing grandma is strong!

Then yesterday was Halloween so of course we went out and taught Moana how to ask strangers for candy. (It did not take her long to get the hang of that.) The neighborhood we went to was all in when it came to this holiday... houses all decorated and everyone was gathered outside in their driveways (no need to ring any doorbells b/c everyone just sets up their candy tables in their driveways and blasts scary music and the kids just run up the driveways and collect their candy.) No kidding there were 300+ kids Trick-or-Treating there... plus all their parents as escorts... it was like a block party. Pretty fun. Moana was a bit intimidated by groups of older kids who were much more aggressive than she... but she learned to just sort of stand back and wait... just let them do their thing and then she would approach the driveways when there was adequate space.

In the last bit of Moana news today... Guess who had her first haircut last night? Nalani's mom cuts hair so she did the honors. She cut 4-5" off but it's still really long. (This pic is pre-cut.) Moana was a trooper and didn't mid getting it cut at all. One of her friends at school also just had her hair cut so I think that made it more acceptable. Maddy got her hair cut! Peer pressure can be awesome like that... in the same way last month it was Maddy wears big girl underpants...