Monday, May 28, 2012

Honu Race Week!

It's race week! I am stoked.

Honu is easily my favorite race of the year so I'm really looking forward to heading over to the Big Island in a few days. This will be my 6th time racing this event and I got to thinking about my history there... In case you're interested...

2006 First timer over there... All I really remember is that I had a blast and laughed a ton. Travelled with my friend Karen and she is hysterical. (Karen remember that year??) I got a flat pretty early on the bike and that sort of took the wind out of my sails... don't remember my finish time but maybe something like 5:30ish?

2007 I was super nervous for this race because I had my 3 year Hawaii residency thing at this point and I knew there was a shot that I could win the resident spot to Kona... This race was likely my turning point in actually becoming more serious about triathlon. I think I placed 6th 30-34 in like 5:22 but that was enough to get the resident spot to Kona. I cried very happy tears when I realized that I actually did it and was going to race Kona for the first time!

2008 Sat this year out as I was ~4 months pregnant with Moana.

2009 Took Moana over there when she was ~8 months old and set a new 70.3 PR with 5:16. Had a solid swim/bike and then DIED on the run but once again it was enough to get the resident spot to Kona so the death march of a run was dismissed in my mind! Plus, this is what Moana looked like back then. :)

2010 Solid day all around setting another PR (5:14) even with a flat tire. Missed the Kona spot this year but walked away feeling good about my fitness and was proud of the way I held it together mentally even after that unlucky break on the bike.

2011 Had a rare magic day... I do think we had a tailwind the whole time or something but I shocked the hell out of myself and everyone else biking 2:30 on this course... then I held on and still ran the best I've ever run over there even though I was sort of dying. They took away our resident Kona spots so that qualifying thing was pretty much out of the question given how fast the 35-39 women were over there... But a 21' PR and 4:53 was something I was elated about for pretty much the rest of the year!

So looking back on my history there and seeing that pretty much every time I've gone back I've gone a good bit faster than the year before is sort of scary to me at this point! My training data indicates that I am fitter and faster across the board than I was last year but wrapping my head around going faster than 4:53 is freaking me out. Like, can I really do that??? I think what I need to do is stop thinking about it and just go race the race and let it be what it is... If the winds don't calm down and are still gusting at 25 mph on Saturday I think I'll adjust my plan and not even start my watch on the bike... we'll see. Conditions can play a big part in finish times so I try to not concern myself too much with the clock. I will say that if I put together a day that resembles pretty much any of my key training days in the last six weeks, I'll be smiling when I cross that finish line. :)

Anyway, I'm starting to pack and Moana is getting psyched about heading back over to Kona! This will be her 7th trip to Kona (4th time at Honu- she's a seasoned vet). And she's old enough now that she understands a bit more about racing so she's super fun to have around with her pom poms and her cowbell.  

Let's do it!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pick Your Poison

If you don't live here you probably imagine that Hawaii weather is ideal all the time... but I will tell you, just because it doesn't snow doesn't mean it's always ideal here!

Usually all winter it rains a lot and can be pretty consistently windy. It starts to rain less and less as summer approaches but the wind remains fairly constant. By mid/late summer it heats up for sure though usually it's still pretty windy. See a theme? So we deal with wind. We get used to it. It is what it is. Most of the time it's pretty solid 10-15mph and we def get nice tailwind sections when we're riding with the wind at our backs but then the rest of the time we're fighting it as cross or headwind. It's pretty predictable so I'd like to say it's not that bad though honestly when it kicks up to 20+mph, I typically feel like I've just fought a war by the time I get off my bike. That usually happens like 2x/week.

Today it was particularly windy. And if it's windy here, you can pretty much guess that it's REALLY windy in Kona. For whatever reason it's usually even windier there. I thought this tweet from Lindsey Corbin (who is training in Kona at the moment)  today was funny.
Here on Oahu we were blessed with pissing rain as well this morning so that was fun. Or not. I rode with Nalani this morning and since it was raining when we started I checked the satellite radar and it appeared that after ~10 miles we'd be in the clear... so it was a suck it up buttercup situation and we started the ride. Well, ~10 miles in we rounded a point and got to see what it looked like up the coast and unfortunately it did not appear that we were going to get a break.
If today was just a standard aerobic ride I would have just soldiered on and dealt with the wind and rain but the goal today was to drill it for a while and that just seemed too risky in these conditions. So we bailed on the ride and went home to run instead. I'll try again tomorrow.

So while I was fighting the war with the wind on my run this morning (just trying to keep my hat on!) I was thinking about how we pretty much either are always either battling wind or heat. Pick your poison. Except we don't really get to choose. I would say though, if I did get to choose, I think I'd pick heat. When it's blazing hot I don't feel like I really slow down much... at least not until I've been going for a really long time... But wind has the capacity to REALLY slow you down right from the get go. And when it's super relentless (it always is, isn't it?) I think it messes with my head more on those long training days. That said, on race day maybe I would prefer wind? Tough call. At Honu we're likely going to get excessive wind or excessive heat... b/c if its windy its not really that hot. But if the wind doesn't blow it'll be smoldering. Strong winds favor strong cyclists so there's a part of me that thinks it would be super if Madame Pele had piss in her cheerios next Saturday b/c even though I'm not a huge fan of drilling myself into a headwind all day, that would likely be a competitive advantage for me... I  know I *can* do it even if I don't prefer it... and 56 miles is really not that long... and I probably have more recent experience training in wind than heat at the moment b/c we only had like a week or two where it was really hot but it's been windy all winter. But whatever. Wind or heat. Either will be fine next weekend.

If you could pick your poison, which would you pick? Wind or heat?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What I've Noticed

I've got like 75 blog posts floating around in my head right now but for some reason this one sort clarified itself for me this afternoon so I'll take a shot at it. I always think better while I'm running so this was crystal clear a couple hours ago and now of course I've forgotten half of it!

The gist of what I've been thinking about is how important it is to pay attention to your training and how you're feeling so you can look for trends... ie when do you feel like you're on fire and just nailing everything? Vs when do you feel like a total sloth and end up with a negative attitude and feel like you just suck at this whole sport? Ideally if you pay attention you can identify trends which will allow you to arrange your training in such a way as to set yourself up for more success.

I started really paying attention last year when I started working with Lucho as my coach. I figured that in order for him to understand me as an athlete (and therefore best help me!) I needed to understand myself... as much as he knows about training and getting fit, he didn't know me very well (at first) so in an effort to help him get to know me I would write all sorts of info into my Training Peaks post workout notes- anything that I thought was even remotely possibly affecting workouts good or bad- and then we would talk about it and he could help me see the trends. Then we could rearrange my training week to reflect what we thought we were discovering to see if it worked or not. Pretty cool process I thought... a never ending experiment of one, really.

So what have I noticed? It's taken me several years to figure all this out, and I'm sure I'll forget some things I thought of earlier, but here's some of it at least! In no particular order...

~I like training long. I genuinely like riding for 5 hours and then running afterward. And I really enjoy doing those long bricks solo. With other people always turns out to be good but waking up on a Saturday morning before anyone else is up and prepping all my stuff and layering on the sunscreen and heading off by myself on my bike is just something I love to do.

~I run better off the bike than I do if I don't bike first. True story. My fastest paced training run this year came off a 94 mile ride. This actually happens so often and consistently now that I have different pace goals set for myself depending on whether or not I biked first (faster if I biked first), and I plan an hour warm up ride prior to any key run I do these days b/c I know it will actually make my run better. (Clearly I am a triathlete, not a runner. Lol) Lucho and I were joking about that a couple weeks ago when I was telling him why I planned my week the way I did... and I said something like, "Well I want to PR that run so I'm going to bike first..." and he laughed about how crazy that sounded but we both knew that in my case it was true!

~I have no issues with getting through all my training on gels and sport drinks alone. And I can have the same flavors all the time.. no need for variety or anything solid. It's really a non-issue for me. I fuel like a machine when I'm training long which is great b/c I don't bonk anymore at all. I don't have stomach issues so no worries there.

~If I have an easy swim on the schedule I'm guaranteed to be bored out of my mind and swim like an absolute sloth. I hate those swims. But inevitably the next time I get in the water I swim out of my mind so I do plan those easy ones sometimes!

~Swimming 4x/week is required if I want my swim to pop. Every time I go 2-3 weeks in a row with 4 swims my swim gets better. If I only swim twice in a week (even just one week!) my swim goes to shit for the whole following week. So I'm religious about 3x/week in the pool. Though to be honest, I can't remember the last time I swam 4x in a week so that tells you where my priorities are right now.

~The more often I run, the better I feel while running. They don't have to be long runs either... for me, 3-4 miles in the morning followed by 4-5 miles in the afternoon is better than a single 8 mile run. And I always feel better on the afternoon runs.

~I need to see a big meaty week on my calendar if I'm going to get psyched about training. I'm motivated by planning workouts that I'm not altogether sure I can do... and by combining days in such a way that makes me wonder if I can do it. That gets me pumped, and most of the time I surprise myself and am capable of doing the work I set out to do. On the other hand, when I've got an easier week on tap I'm pretty much guaranteed to be bored and will likely physically feel like crap throughout all of it b/c I'm just not mentally engaged enough to care if the schedule looks too easy. I think I also skimp out on a lot of the recovery stuff that I go out of my way to do when I'm trying to tackle something big (ice baths, compression gear, etc).

~2 easy days is typically enough to bring me back to life after a solid/hard block of training. I've found I get by pretty well going 5 harder/key days then 2 easier recovery days (in a row) each week. That varies of course week to week but I can pretty much depend on the fact that after 2 easy days I'll be able to go out and hit something good on that 3rd day. Sometimes (but not always so this one I don't have figured out yet) I actually come to life on that 5th (or even 6-7th) hard day and nail something crazy but given that I don't have full understanding of that yet I don't tend to plan to build into races with that strategy. That isn't as consistent as some of the other stuff I've figured out. I'll keep testing that one though. :)

Ok so that's all I can think of for now! I'm sure if you thought about your own list of 'what makes you tick' you'd likely come up with something different to my list, but I do think paying attention and figuring this stuff out is extremely helpful in guiding your training and taking you to the next level where you want to be. This type of stuff is the reason that cookie cutter training plan would never work for me. I am not a cookie cutter athlete... and my guess is that neither are you!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Honolulu Tri

A couple weeks ago I got an email asking if I wanted to race in the elite wave at the Honolulu Triathlon...  My first reaction was What? Me? Elite?? No no... But then I thought about it for a minute and was like, well I've been 2nd and 3rd OA at this race the last 2 years so that seems sort of silly to turn down...

I think this is the first time I've ever participated in a race with a separate elite wave. No wait- once I did years ago (forever ago) b/c I thought the clean swim start would be a bonus... and it was (I was a faster swimmer back then) but then I went on to have my ass handed to me on bike and run so since then I have avoided elite wave starts like the plague.

Anyway, this morning I lined up with just a few other guys/gals who opted in for the elite wave (apparently it was just a choice you could decide to race elite or not I'm not sure it was based on any actual criteria??). In reality I think there were several other gals who probably could have/should have been in that wave but either they didn't know they had the option or else they didn't have the confidence/want the pressure? More on the later. Anyway, the wave start was small. Maybe 10 people total, mostly men.

Cannon goes off BOOM and I rush into the water knowing it's going to be crazy fast and indeed... I was in the pack for maybe 25M and then off they went. ARGH! I hate having no top end speed. I tried so hard but I just can't swim that fast. So I figured I would be on my own for the rest of the swim but low and behold maybe 500M in I could see I was catching someone... wasn't sure who though I had a good guess... and turns out I was right... came out of the water with Ben. He's a good swimmer so this was ok with me. I mean, I guess the swim was ok but definitely not anything to write home about (22'). During the swim this morning I was thinking about how nice it will be at Honu to start with 1500+ people b/c even though it's all out war at the start, at least at some point I'll end up drafting in a pack of 10 instead of desperately trying to sight little buoys I could not see at all with just one guy next to me.

T1 was again nothing to write home about... on the slow side for sure as I was fumbling with my helmet strap for what seemed like forever and was so frustrated that I didn't bother to practice this yesterday. Dumb. It doesn't matter how long you've been doing triathlons... practice transitions! I should learn to take my own advice! Lol.

Finally I got off on my bike but by then Ben was long gone and there was NO ONE around. No one. Not a soul. Just an empty 4 lane road and a whole bunch of orange cones. Sounds like a dream I suppose but I'm so used to having PEOPLE around when I race... but there was NO ONE. <crickets> So I tried to push hard but I couldn't tell if I was riding well or not (racing with my policy of no watch just racing people around me except when there's no people around you this strategy isn't as good! Ha!)

I'd really like to not complain about this race seeing as it's the only opportunity we have here to do an Olympic Distance race without getting on an airplane... but honestly, the bike course was a disaster. They reversed it and had us riding on the left side (against traffic) but then sometimes crossing over the median (4 lane highway type road) and I suppose had there been people around (Someone?? Anyone??) maybe it wouldn't have been so confusing but I felt like I spent the whole first 1/2 of the bike just wondering if I was even in the correct lane?? Then I was like well it doesn't really matter does it because THERE'S NO ONE AROUND! Ha! So I rode in whatever lane had the fewest bumps. Finally we got to an out and back section and I could see the other elites coming back the other way and saw I was 2nd female maybe a minute down. Ok now this is something I can work with. Step on it Michelle. I definitely wouldn't say I felt super but I didn't really feel bad either- just pretty status quo going as hard as I could though I knew I wasn't doing anything magic.

Eventually I could see Rae up ahead in the distance... like a beacon in the night... She was riding really well though and it took me forever to catch her. Eventually on the way back I caught/passed her... but it was about this time that we ended up in lots of sprint race 'traffic'... this was sort of scary lots of little kids riding right in the middle of the lane... so then how do you proceed when you're riding on the left side of the road which is just weird... do you pass on the left or the right? I was screaming out ON YOUR LEFT!!!! as I was trying to not get taken down but apparently that signals new riders to actually move left so eventually I changed my call to STAY RIGHT... one little kid was riding all the way to the left so I just passed on the right and wanted to dare an official to call me out on that (there were no officials around). Then I was back in a scenario with a ton of orange cones and vehicular traffic and no cyclists immediately ahead of me and ta-dah... totally missed a left turn we were supposed to make. GAH! They made this change to the course and while I knew it was coming I didn't really pay enough attention and all of a sudden I was at a bit of a dead end and a cop was there and told me I missed the turn. U-turn... saw Rae making the turn and tried to get back on it but was now back in 2nd where I would stay for the rest of the bike. Not sure how much time I lost there... maybe 30"? Who knows. Totally my own fault and I was kicking myself but there was nothing I could do about it at that point but keep calm and carry on. I still ended up with the fastest bike split (1:01 on a shorter than 40K course) so I should not complain but that was a dumb mistake.

Got through T2 without any major mishaps and cheered for Rae as she was running out. I knew that unless she tied one leg behind her back that she was going to run it in for the win so I just focused on running the best I could for the 10K. By this point there were a few more people around (mostly sprint race participants but at least bodies I could aim to pass!) so this was more fun than the swim and bike... and I felt like I was running pretty well for me. Honestly I don't remember a ton about the run- it went by pretty fast. Couldn't really tell exactly where everyone was b/c the course just sort of circled around and around and around and out and back and around... a couple of girls behind me looked like they were running strong but I had enough real estate that I wasn't going to be physically caught so while they were catching me, they weren't actually going to catch me... so then I went into this whole internal battle with myself that went something like:

Can I just settle and cruise in? 
No no go for the best run split you can!
But you're going to get second no need to keep digging...
But what if someone from the age group wave is catching you and you don't know it? DIG.
Who cares if someone is catching you? You're doing fine.
NO!! Practice being uncomfortable! This is good for you...

Blah blah blah. I knew that was fatigue talking to me and found it incredibly interesting to listen to my own inner dialogue. I do think I would be better if I could just shut my damn brain up and just RUN without thinking but that did not happen today. Maybe that will be my goal for Honu. ;)

Anyway, I ran 46:xx which was satisfying enough and crossed the line 2nd in 2:13 low... turns out Lectie, with the fastest female run of the day finished in 2:12 so in reality she was 2nd today though she didn't get credit for it at awards which just seemed off.

So that's the problem with these elite waves... I suspect it's lack of confidence from the women that prevents them from volunteering to place themselves in that first wave... or that they want to be humble and not stand up and say I'm FAST I want to race elite! Maybe the issue is semantics... the word 'elite'... because well, that's elitist, no? And no one wants to appear to be 'elitist'! I get all that of course though I will say that it would be a hell of a lot more fun (and less lonely!) in that first wave if more women would jump in and play. I think given the choice to re-do this race I might have opted for the age group wave... but only because there were so many more people there to race... and that's why we race, right? To race each other? I time trial solo all the time in training so on race day I'd like to be around other people. Now ideally that would be a group of the 10 fastest women on Oahu without the masses of less experienced people in waves ahead of us (is that elitist?? Sorry if it comes across that way it's just not safe to have to pass so many newbies on the bike when they don't know to stay right)... Maybe that's what makes me appreciate mass start races so much. I love mass start races. Just put us all together on the start line and say GO and let us battle it out. Totally ideal in my world!

OK enough about that. Onward and upward! 2 weeks til Honu.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Real Bugs Drink Porter

Another sort of random post tonight...

~First of, holy cow I'm so proud of Armando! His swims still leaves a little something to be desired* so a no-wetsuit swim doesn't suit him as well, BUT he kept his head on straight and executed and even split the bike (4:58) then ran a 3:34 and missed beating that 10 hour mark by 5 SECONDS!?! It was a 17' PR which is super... but keep your fingers and toes crossed for a roll down b/c he was 11th and last year there were 9 Kona spots in his age group... 10:20 qualified last year in his age group so clearly those guys all raised the bar this year... looking at Ironman races across the board clearly the bar is being raised across the board so getting a Kona spot is no easy task these days. Crazy to think that 10 hours flat wouldn't qualify you...

~While I was out spinning this morning I had some thoughts about handling ourselves during race week... specifically about how to keep our heads on straight so when race day arrives we're confident... I say "we" but for this I'll just talk about me and what I did this week... I remember reading one time about how Simon Whitfield's coach would not let him see any of his data (pace, power, etc) when it got close to race time. That didn't make much sense to me at the time but I think this week I got it... I had a couple of key workouts that I wanted to nail but at the same time I didn't want to leave my race out there on the training day... so how to balance working as you need to in training without digging too hard and ending up flat on race day? You know what I did? I left my garmin at home. On Thursday I did ride with power b/c I had some numbers I wanted to hit but afterward I went running and made a choice to leave my garmin at home and do the run by feel instead of pace. Part of that was b/c I figured if I was running well I might just end up really blasting and digging super hard to see lower numbers than I even needed to (I know myself well enough now to know that I have no self control if it appears I'm running faster than I should be I don't just let that go... no, I milk it for all it's worth and end up full on racing myself in the workout and digging a little hole to crawl into for a few days.) But then it could actually go the other way where you're not running as fast as you feel like you should and then the race is in 3 days and OMG what if all that training was for naught and now the race is going to suck. See what happened there? Data we perceive as bad will mess with our heads and reduce our confidence level so no need to do that to yourself  prior to race day. Best bet is to just give yourself enough information to allow yourself to feel confident without giving it too much info that could sway you too far up or down the scale. So today I used HR on the bike but not power... I just wanted to see that my HR was acting in a responsive way (and it was)... I didn't want to see power b/c if the numbers were good (and they would have been) I could totally see myself jamming through some crazy set trying to hit that elusive CP6' I've been missing every time I try... I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that when it gets close to race time and you're feeling peppy and ready to rumble, I've found that I can save myself from myself by taking away any pieces of electronic equipment that might give me data that might screw with my head. Instead, I trust that I'm doing the right work at the right intensity b/c it feels right and then when the gun goes off on race day you just go unleash all that you've had bottled up this week.

~And if my race totally sucks tomorrow then disregard all that crap I just wrote and go back to doing it your old way. ;)

~Moana is stoked to come watch me race tomorrow. She helped me put my temporary tattoo numbers on this afternoon (she's a pro at those!) and she put the sticker on my helmet and my bike and put all the stuff I wanted in a crate for my car... good little helper! Having her at races gets more and more fun every year. She's planning on brining her pom pom and her cowbell down to the race so if you're there, you probably won't be able to miss her.

~Ok my wave goes off at 5:45AM tomorrow so Ambien is taking me away at the moment... But before I go... check this out. Real bugs drink Porter. (Hawaii grows real bugs.)

*Don't worry I'm on it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Race Week Randomness...

~How funny is this?!? I love my athletes! This one is in Texas right now gearing up for Ironman on Saturday... He sent me this pic on FB and I've been laughing ever since!

~It's mango season! There's a giant mango tree right outside our door and it spits out a mango every 90" or so... which would be cool, except that most of them that fall are over-ripe... and then they hit the ground and get smashed so they're not edible. Unfortunately the tree is gigantic and really too tall for us to try to pick any. Such a waste because at the grocery store they're like $2 each. I don't understand that. I need to go in search of a shorter tree because that is ridiculous.

~Our weather here the last week or so has been phenomenal. Like seriously just incredibly awesome and perfect. Blue sky and light breeze and like 80ish degrees... I look around lately and feel like I live in a postcard. In all honesty I think this is the type of weather people think we live in all the time... and it's the weather we pay for so all of us here expect to live in it all the time... but the reality is that it storms a lot here and much of the time the wind is out of control (and its not as warm as you think!) So I'm trying not to take this awesomeness for granted right now! I will admit that I wore my fleece this afternoon though. True story. The sun went behind a cloud for a bit and I got a chill. #spoiled

~I took Moana to the pool yesterday afternoon... the big one where we train in the mornings is open for play time swimming in the afternoons and I know I should take her there more often. The truth is I don't because I'm such a wimp and it rarely feels warm enough for me to just hang in the water without actually swimming! I know. Get over it, right? Moana had a BLAST yesterday though... jumping in the water and going under (she was so proud of herself) and starting to float on her back. She's old enough to learn how to swim now I know and you all will be shocked to hear that she is not yet swimming... totally my fault and I'm blaming the cold wind we usually have for that but I am committed to turning that around this summer. We had to get out at 5:00 b/c the swim team was getting in and Moana said, "I want to be on the swim team!" Ok melt my heart! She actually can't be on it until she's 5 but the sentiment was music to my ears.

~Just a couple more days until I get to race! This weekend is just sort of a tune-up for Honu which is 2 weeks later. I'm trying to drop a couple pounds to get down to that elusive race weight people talk about... Everyone looks so skinny right now. It's challenging because I love food and really enjoy eating and feel this need to fix it when I feel hunger pangs. I'm not filled up after eating two bites of food so this cutting back is a bit of a challenge for me... and I still like to train a lot and I'm not a fan of bonking so the balance is tough. I'm not trying to get all uber-skinny or anything (I'm not even sure I could or that it is best) but I've weighed a few pounds less in the past and no one was ready to commit me to a psychiatric ward so I think it won't hurt me. Goal is 128lbs and I'm only 3 lbs away at the moment so it may or may not be possible. We'll see. I'm conscious of it at this point anyway which is a start. I'm not cutting out any major food groups or any particular foods (other than straight up sugar which I don't eat much of anyway)... just trying to give myself a new 'normal' on what an acceptable portion size is for a meal. I'm starting by eating off of smaller plates. :)

~Tomorrow is my four year anniversary with Scott! (It's only been 4 years? I swear I don't remember ever living without him or Moana...) So of course we are going out to an awesome fancy dinner with wine and all that to celebrate... I guess the race weight goal will have to start on Friday. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Different Runner

Sundays are fun... email and text race results/reports coming in from all over and then I check FB and see all the pictures from races across the country. Looks like such a blast! Makes me super stoked to start racing. I get to race 2 out of the next 3 weeks so my turn is coming! :) And the timing is spot on... something about the sun coming up earlier and going down later and the weather is getting warmer and it just feels like race time. I love this time of year.

It's funny... I've had some killer training days lately and I think about posting all the details here and then change my mind and think it's really nobody's business... and besides does anyone really even care? And then think I should just keep it to myself and wait to let it all out on race day... But this weekend was just too good and I can't keep it in. How funny is that?? So here you go... :)

My plan for today was to go out and try to PR my Gardens run... It's a beautiful (very hilly) route that I'm sure I've posted about before... I remember when this run used to take me ~1:45 (like 7 years ago) because I couldn't actually run up all the hills... then finally I got strong enough to run the whole thing without walking and that was a huge step forward... then I remember being stoked that it was only taking me ~90' to run... then in the past couple years I was consistently doing it in 1:27-1:28. Once last year I had the green light to really get after it and was stoked to get <1:25! Yeehaw! So this year I've tried a couple times to TT it. On New Years Day I went out to set a benchmark for myself for 2012 and came in at 1:23. That seemed like an awesome start for the year! The second time I tried for a fast one I crushed my old PRs at every time check and came in at 1:21:07. I was so stoked about that one.

So all week I've been gearing up for cracking 1:20 on this course today... A couple days of rest and some easier workouts earlier in the week gave me some breakthrough workouts across the board s/b/r in the last few days so I was feeling fairly confident that I'd have a good run today... of course I biked 94 miles yesterday including 3 x 30' sections in the second half of that ride where I was just drilling it at over 70.3 race pace power. That didn't hurt me too badly though b/c I was able to run 4 miles off the bike at 70.3 goal race pace and it didn't feel that hard. But today I thought my best bet to PR the Gardens run would be to spin it out for about an hour on the bike first (I always run better off the bike than I do just running) and then try to run. I think that was a good call b/c my legs felt pretty darn heavy for the first bit on the bike... but of course they came around after about an hour so I gave myself the green light to get after it on the run!

I started off feeling super and light and easy but not slow... I have intermittent time checks on this route that I know... for whatever reason I never wear a garmin on this route... somehow that would ruin it for me... this route stays more 'pure' in my mind when I just start my Timex and go for it without worrying about actual miles splits. Anyway, I got to the turn-around in <40' which is a first (42:11 was my previous best!) and knew I was on my way to sub 1:20 b/c I always negative split this run... and sure enough, negative split by nearly 2' and got home in 1:17:52. Excuse my language here but HOLY SHIT!!!! I was stoked. Huge PR 3+' on this route. I am just beside myself at the moment. :)))

You know, I have worked so hard so consistently year after year after year after year... and for the first time really I feel like my run is actually (finally!) coming around. You hear (or read) all the time that hard work eventually pays off and I have lived by that for so long and even when I wasn't seeing huge results I just kept after it and kept diligently consistently chipping away at it... and finally now I feel like I've had this breakthrough. I wrote in my TP notes today that I feel like I'm a different runner now. So anyway, we'll see if I can run like that in the next few weeks when it actually (sort of) matters at these races. I think I'll be able to. Stay tuned! :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012


So the magic formula for improving in triathlon goes something like this:

~Build yourself an awesome and deep base. This usually takes years so be patient.
~Train consistently (nearly) every day.
~Be smart about recovering between workouts by maximizing sleep, nutrition, compression, massage, etc.
~Pay attention to how your body is responding to the training you are doing (HR, paces, power, mood, appetite, sleep, etc).
~Work yourself until your body tells you it needs a break (see signs above). The deeper your base and therefore the more fit you are, the longer/harder you will be able to go before your body will start rebelling. Less fit athletes will require more frequent unloading.
~Unload when its time.
~Reload when your body gives you the green light (ie HR is normal and power/desire is there).

By the way, that whole unloading thing is the bomb! I'm reloading now.

15 Weeks til IM Canada.

Monday, May 7, 2012


I like the term 'unloading'. Somehow it sounds better to me than 'resting' or 'recovering'... both of which maybe somehow imply weakness (only in my own head?)... Or maybe not weakness but you know, the things you have to 'recover' from are typically not good things... Recovering Alcoholic comes to mind... but 'unloading' somehow sounds smarter or more scientific or something?? For whatever that's worth.

So it's true that while I understand the concept of resting, I myself am not a huge fan of actually doing it. BUT, when I change up the semantics and think of what I'm doing as unloading, well, it all becomes perfectly acceptable. Because, you see, before you can unload, you have to have something to unload from... and I just spent the last several weeks loading up. My goal was to push myself right to the edge, but not over the edge, stay there and play for a little while, then back off a bit... So this is tricky of course because how do you know when you're at the edge?

Maybe it's different for you, but for me, here's how I know I'm nearing time to unload...

1. I just don't want to train. Our brains are super cool in that they are awesome indicators of when we're nearing the edge. I almost ALWAYS would rather be training... so when I start having thoughts like I don't want to do this... well, that's a sign that it's almost time to unload. I say almost because I think that part of the training process is to teach our brains that we are capable of doing more than they think we can... I think our brains give us fatigue signals pretty well in advance of when we're truly at the edge, so pushing through some of that is good and necessary if we want to push the edge out further for next time. I started feeling like I didn't want to train anymore on Friday... felt it again starting Saturday... interestingly pushed right through it both times and my brain got on board for Sunday and it didn't even try to get in my way. That sort of surprised me but I found it pretty cool. This morning though, there was absolutely nothing in me that wanted to go to the pool. So I didn't go. I'm unloading now. :)

2. My numbers are off. Could be trending slower and slower pace in the pool or on the run... and now I can also see when I just am not able to put out power on the bike which is really a clear objective sign that I've never had the opportunity to work around in the past. So say, for example, that I was headed out to do some threshold intervals on the bike... and I know what power I should be able to push because I've done it before... but I get out there and just can't even come close to hitting the numbers I was supposed to hit. Maybe it's a one off day and I don't worry about those too much but when you start to see trends going in the wrong direction, well, it's time to unload. When your pace in the pool slows over the course of a week and you don't want to train anymore and then you try to ride and your power numbers suck, well, these are the trends that add up to show us the big picture... It's like rocket science, isn't it? ;)

3. Low and sluggish heart rate. People think that heart rate training is always about easing up and going slower than you want to go... but it's not! Heart rate data is super valuable and paying attention and knowing what yours should be on a normal day is good stuff. So again I'll use the bike as an example: when I'm out riding and see my HR is 134, well, that's pretty low for me. Maybe not a problem if I'm going really easy but if I try to go hard and it only jumps up to 138, well, that's a sign. I can ride for extended periods of time with my HR at 180+ so if I'm out there and 140 feels hard and it won't jump past 148 even when I'm trying to sprint up a hill, that's about as reliable as the low power data I was talking about above in indicating you're at your current training limit and it's time to unload. When I'm fit and fresh, I can ride pretty strongly at HR140, but I also have the ability to pretty quickly jump up to HR 175+ should I want to. When I'm not fresh I cannot get my HR up that high no matter how hard I try.

So anyway, I had a great build and got myself right where I wanted and now I'm going to back off for a few days and let my body fix itself a bit. I've been through this process a couple times already this winter/spring and I'm actually pretty stoked about it because I know I have some *super* workouts coming my way after I ease up and unload for a few days. It only takes me maybe 3-4 days and then I'm on FIRE for another couple of weeks... or however long it takes me to LOAD UP again. ;)

Friday, May 4, 2012

On Giving In To The Demons... Or Not.

I got in the pool this morning and started warming up and the piano fell on my back after about 50M. Sweet. It was going to be one of those workouts... Which was a bummer b/c this was supposed to be a good hard one and I had been looking forward to it. Sort of.

I kept the w/u pretty mellow and then we got into the long main set and I was just off the back right away and thinking whatever. Just get through this one. Or maybe I should get out? Should I get out? No. Stay in and do it but just let it go that it's just going to be a shitty day.

As the meters dragged on my thoughts evolved. I didn't say any of this out loud but all this was going through my head this morning...

This sucks. I am just too tired. I should know that if I want to swim well on Friday morning I can't do a w/o like I did Thursday afternoon... and Wednesday... and Tuesday... So much fatigue. Ugh. Mark and Steve don't have this fatigue b/c all they do is swim. Losers. I should swim by myself more. Seriously, they have no idea what it feels like to actually be tired. I need to eat more. Ugh. Am I going to get my period soon? I bet I am and that's why I'm being so pissy. Oh that would suck. Honu is 4 weeks away and if I'm going to get it now then I'll be PMSing at Honu. That sucks. Seriously I have just not fueled enough this week. So.much.fatigue. Damn Mark is all peppy. Whatever. Should I start resting soon? Feeling like this sucks... I must be PMSing.

So there I was swimming off the back with all those negative thoughts in my head. I wasn't speaking to anyone at the wall except to say "5 seconds..." and then we'd just go again. It wasn't very much fun.

And then, 2600M into the swim, I told my bitchy self to SHUT UP and I started SWIMMING. Nalani and Mark noticed right away b/c I was actually swimming next to them instead of 1/2 a pool behind them... Nalani was like "Michelle is warmed up now!" But it wasn't about being warmed up. It was about getting over myself, shutting out the negative thoughts and doing WORK. I jammed through the rest of the main set (which was only like 1200M but still) and even started goading Mark on (which was way more fun than just being a bitch in my own head)!

I think the biggest take-away for me today was that it is indeed possible to turn around your shitty attitude mid-workout. I've known for quite some time that especially when it comes to swimming, whether or not I swim fast is completely dependent on whether or not I decide I'm going to swim fast. I know it's all in my head. But typically the way that works is I decide on my mind-set (consciously or unconsciously) prior to starting the swim and then it is what it is and the whole w/o goes that way. Today was the first time I've managed to turn it around in the midst of it. Valuable lesson to put in our pockets!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Just A Bunch Of Dribble

This is my favorite time of the day... mid- morning home from swim w/o sitting at my computer with a good cup of coffee... checking out FB and Twitter and thinking I should be writing schedules but then come up with an idea for a blog instead... By the way, good coffee is totally worth the extra couple of bucks. Grind it yourself and make it in a french press. Funny how that is something I truly look forward to.

So in reality I don't have a good idea for a blog post this morning I was just thinking that it's been a while since I've updated and for whatever reason I feel compelled to share what is going on in my world sometimes... this one will probably be all over the place so bear with me... or just close this tab and don't read it if you don't want to read a bunch of dribble coming off the top of my head. ;)

Holy cow there's a lot of racing going on this weekend! Lots of big races and little local ones too... not here in Hawaii but across the mainland (world actually). If I could pick one to be at it would be Wildflower... hands down... Man I would love to go do that race again. One of these years I will... when Moana is a bit older I can totally picture Scott and I taking her and camping out there all weekend... One of my athletes is racing there on Saturday so GOOD LUCK KELLY!

I've actually spent a good bit of time the last few days reading through and commenting on race plans for this weekend. I haven't write a ton about my coaching business on here but I just have to say... I am loving it more and more as the years go by. This year it seems I have a particularly awesome group of athletes (near and far) and we are meshing well even if some of us have never met. I was telling Scott the other day, I now have athletes in Hawaii (of course), California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Illinois, and Kentucky! Most are experienced and focusing on Ironman but I do have a few newbies too and it has been fun to show them the ropes. One of these days I'll have to write a blog post about all the funny post-workout notes I read in Training Peaks... Guess I should ask permission before I make some of that stuff public but just last weekend I got a movie recommendation, read all about what several people ate for breakfast, heard a serious saddle sore woe, screaming toddlers, and even read a story involving a stuffed rooster. I cannot make this stuff up. Anyway, sometimes I have to pinch myself when I take a step back and see how awesome this life is that I have created for myself. I get to work from home in my pajamas drinking coffee... I don't worry about commuting or showering... and I train pretty much whenever I want. I do work a lot of off hours and am pretty much a slave to email and Training Peaks even on nights and weekends... so I guess that's sort of the downside of the job (there's really no vacation at all b/c pretty much 100% of the time I have schedules to write and emails to respond to) but thinking about an alternative career that would involve getting dressed and putting on make-up and a commute to an office, well, there's no comparison in my mind. I will happily work nights and weekends so I can ride my bike during the day. :) Plus, it's super cool when you get feedback from your athletes who are so stoked b/c they are reaching new levels and hitting paces and watts they didn't think they could. I love that and it gets me all pumped up.

What else? Training is humming along nicely. I am motivated and feeling super and nailing workouts across the board. Here's the swim set we did this morning (some of my athletes have seen a version of this as well- I thought it was an awesome main set!)
4 x 200's fast @ 3:20
100 easy
3 x 200's fast @ 3:15
100 easy
2 x 200's fast @ 3:10
100 easy
200 FAST.
Of course you change up the intervals according to your own t-pace (this was LCM) but the key is you should have no more than ~20" rest (max) and ideally holding about the same pace throughout the set... I was stoked b/c I actually started at a solid pace and then got faster as I went so that's a satisfying sign of some deep swim fitness. Seems like lately I have not had super swims on Wednesdays but today I felt good... I'm guessing that's b/c we swam super easy on Monday. Easy swims are boring as all get out but if that's what I have to do in order to swim like I did today, well, easy/boring every once in a while is worth it. :)

OK well looks like the sun has finally come out (and my coffee is gone) so I'm off to go ride my bike... Not a long one today but I am going to try to put some pressure on my pedals (and hold it!) so we'll see how that goes. Funny now that I have a power meter and can quantify how hard I'm actually working, I get way more nervous for hard bike workouts. Because with the objective data there's no fudging it and being all subjective thinking 'Ya I worked that one hard' when really you were only giving 80%...