Sunday, June 24, 2012

There's Something About Mary

I wrote this blog post in my head during the last hour of my long ride yesterday... I should set the scene: I had been riding by myself for 4 hours already battling 25 mph winds and it had been raining off and on all morning. I pushed the power a bit more than normal for the first 90' as a little experiment to see how I would hold up several hours later. Turns out, when you do that in the beginning, you swear a lot at the end. Anyway.

So I was filling my bottles at a beach park and checked my phone to see if Mary had sent me any info about her 1/2 IM she had raced... I had been thinking about her all morning and hoping that she was reaping some rewards from all the hard work she has put in over the last 6 months... And indeed, I could hear the happiness in her voice as I listened to her message about the big fat PR she had just posted! It was the first time I'd smiled that whole ride. :))) So I didn't know any other details at that point but it was just the motivation I needed to finish up my own ride the way I wanted/needed to finish. And interestingly, I totally stopped swearing.

Honestly I hardly even remember that last section yesterday b/c my head was just spinning with thoughts about how proud I was of Mary... how happy I felt that her hard work paid off and how relieved I was that what we had been doing was indeed working for her. So here's the thing- when a coach gets an athlete like Mary (one who does 100% of the work you prescribe exactly as you prescribe it and logs into TP immediately afterward uploading all of her power/pace files and writes detailed notes with all the feedback a coach could want), well, the coach starts to feel pretty damn responsible (and rightfully so!) for the results that athlete gets at races. In all honesty, it would have been pretty confusing to me if she would not have had a super race yesterday. She had done the work and her numbers were there in training so this result was really just confirmation that we are indeed on the right path.

Then I started thinking about some other scenarios... say, the athlete who never logs into TP to tell coach what they are doing. Result: coach is shooting in the dark trying to figure out what workouts are best for him/her. Race results? It's a crap shoot. Maybe they do well maybe they don't... but tough for coach to feel much responsibility (or pride??) in that scenario b/c athlete didn't hold up his/her end of the bargain on the communication piece. A good race result there is pretty much just luck. Or the athlete who uses coach's plan as a loose guide... sees a 2 hour bike on the schedule, doesn't read detailed instructions and goes out hammering with their local tri club and calls it good. Um. Ok. Same scenario there as above... Race results? It's a crap shoot. Maybe athlete does well maybe they don't but it's tough for coach to feel too much pride/responsibility either way. It's a two way street... an athlete needs to communicate in order to get the most out of his/her coaching relationship. Period. How many times does a coach have to send an email to an athlete requesting an update??

In good news, I've got a lot of athletes like Mary. :) And coaching them is highly rewarding! I am super excited too because in just a couple of days I am going to get to meet Mary in person for the first time! She's coming to the Ironwomen's Camp I am putting on in Kona this week/weekend... Hurry up and recover from that race, Mary, because I am going to kick your ass this weekend. But only because that's how I show love. xoxo

PS- I'll try to show you dolphins first! :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gordo Is Crazier Than Me

Who am I kidding? I miss blogging. I'm back. ;)

So I know some people think that swim training is a waste of time... and some people think I focus way too much time on swimming... but I will tell you, I know there are a lot of people who swim way more than I do (people who are trying to improve their swim times!)... Really, I typically only swim 10-12K/week and that is not enough to really improve upon one's swimming (unless you're currently only swimming 4K/week in which case 10K would indeed improve your swimming!)... as evidenced by the fact that I have been swimming pretty much the exact same times for, um, like 10 years now. I'm not the fastest swimmer around but I can hold my own and come out of the water within striking distance of the lead in most races so maybe there're the argument against spending any more time in the water. Really, so what if I come out of the water in 56' in Canada if I then go on to run 4:30?? I understand that thinking.

That said, lately I have increased my swim volume some. I'm not swimming more often, but when I'm at the pool, I'm staying in and banging out some volume. Interestingly, I bought an 8 week Ironman Training Plan from Gordo on Training Peaks... mostly b/c a while back he was selling them for super cheap and I was just curious more than anything to see how he organized his IM training blocks (I'm always interested to know what/how/why other people do what they do even if it's not how I do it). And while I knew I would not be following it per say, I was looking forward to gathering some new ideas that I could modify and incorporate into my own plan as I saw fit. And you know what struck me the most when I first saw his plan?? The HUGE swim volume. Gordo's swim plan makes my swim plan look like I'm training for an 8 & Under summer swim league. Seriously.

So my last 3 trips to the pool have all been workouts of 5200-6200M (longcourse) and it's been freakin' awesome. Though I will say that part way through the Monday w/o, I think I muttered something like This set is sick. Gordo talks about this one a lot and if you read any of his Ironman training articles you've heard him mention his Matrix 100's... I think it is actually his super swimmer of a wife who came up with these... but basically you pick your descending intervals and then do 100's like this:
It's a total of 40 x 100's and I picked our intervals as 1:45, 1:40, 1:35, 1:30, which was kind of an asinine thing to do b/c I can't actually make repeat 100's @1:30 send-off in this pool unless I am drafting. We were not circling on Monday so I was in trouble right from the start. First round through no worries really b/c there's only 1 @ 1:30 and I think I hit it exactly then pushed off again and had the next 2 @ 1:45 to recover. Second round there were 2 @ 1:30 there at the end so basically I just swam a 200 all out straight, then flipped right into the next 100 easy after which I did not get much rest and we were off again. I think it was mid set of 3's that I was shaking my head thinking this was so much harder than it looked on paper... And really it wasn't 40 x 100's b/c the last 700 was just pretty much an all out straight swim effort. Beautiful after a 1000 w/u to sprint a 700 there at the end of a 5K swim. I tried anyway. Probably shouldn't call it sprinting. Lol.

So this morning we did another Gordo Threshold/Endurance swim workout that started with our standard 1000 w/u then rested 1' and then did another 1000 that was just supposed to be faster/stronger than the first... I got a little bug up my ass or something on that one and I decided I was going to try to stay on Mark's feet for the whole 1000... which was again a rather asinine thing to think b/c Mark can crush me these days in the pool. BUT drafting is a beautiful thing and even though technically we were swimming side by side, after 100M I was behind him some so I'd move over and get as close to him as I could (no lane lines make this possible!) on the long straight-a-ways and then move sideways prior to the flip turn so we wouldn't have a head on collision near the walls. Anyway, 300M in I was dying and had the thought that I was not going to be able to keep this pace up for another 700M... Banished that thought and just focused on his feet... checked the split at the 500 and saw 7:33 so we were just over 1:30 pace... turned my brain off and focused only on FEET... STAY ON THOSE FEET MICHELLE... checked my watch again at 800... we were at 12:03 which means that 300 was 4:30... exactly 1:30 pace... Yikes. I was DIGGING by this point but determined that I could keep doing it for another 200. So I hit the wall at 15:01 which meant, wait for it, we negative split that 1000! That also happened to be the fastest 1000 I'd ever swam in that pool. After that we started the main set which was another 3400M. Nice, eh? I'm telling you, that Gordo is way crazier than me when it comes to swimming.

Anyway, I figure as long as the extra swimming doesn't compromise my bike or run training then there's no reason not to do it... so we'll see if the change up makes any difference for me later this summer. I'd definitely say that while I do not feel fast in the water, I feel freakishly strong and like my fitness is very deep. And I really do enjoy swimming. So that's something. :)

And this just made me laugh. Good thing we don't have hot lifeguards at our pool.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cutting Back

Wow this week flew by. Part of that was probably that Monday was a holiday (local holiday- Hawaii has some odd ones) so we spent the whole day at the beach... so that was fun but it meant only 4 days this week to fit in my training and all my work and that was a bit overwhelming. Add to that Moana's class field trip (to the beach) this morning and it cuts my week down to really just 3.5 days and that, my friends, is simply not enough time to do it all. Well, it is enough time I guess b/c I did it all BUT it was not without some loss of sleep and a few more gray hairs.

I know though, right? Poor me I spent too much time at the beach this week. Cry me a river! Or more appropriately, cry me an ocean. This pic was from Monday morning... we went back this morning and it was even nicer. I'm still salty because I have not yet taken a shower (or combed my hair... in 2 days).

So I was up half the night last night with my mind just spinning and whirling and working overtime... lack of sleep is never a good thing but being up much of the night tossing and turning does help one narrow down priorities. I came to the conclusion that I have to cut back somewhere... I'm trying to do too much. So Ironman Canada is in 10 weeks and I want to be ready for that so I will not miss any swim/bike/run... I'd also like to stay married and make sure I'm not neglecting Moana so after 4:00 I go into mommy/wife mode (no training, no computer)... I've also got a whole group of athletes I am working with and that (for the most part) is going really well but only b/c I'm pretty attentive to those folks who take time to communicate with me...

In trying to figure out how/where to trim the fat from my life, I'm thinking it may need to come in the form of reducing my time spent on/with social media for a while. I tried to cut Facebook out for a whole day... managed to do it for most of the day on Wed but checked in really quick in the afternoon only to find out that the whole world was a buzz with this Lance Armstrong news and then I just got totally sucked in reading up on all that... I don't really watch TV or even listen to the radio much so most of my news comes from FB (I know, sad right??)... I am kind of used to being in the know so cutting back on this form of news is going to be tough but I am going to do it... at least until after Canada and then we'll see. I also just cut my athlete roster down by a few athletes... sorry but I can't spend my time being frustrated trying to help those who can't help themselves and/or can't be bothered to communicate with me. (WHY hire a coach if you're not going to communicate with her? That is another blog post...) It was hard yet liberating at the same time... But taking charge of how I want to run by business felt very empowering. I am my own boss so if I'm frustrated with how things are going I have the power to change that. So I am taking steps in that direction and it feels good. :)

Anyway, if you hear less from me over the next couple of months (not my athletes- just in blogland or FB/Twitter), just know that in all likelihood I'm out riding my bike or working with my athletes or playing with my family instead of spending every free second in front of this computer. ;)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Born Leader

Scott's sister is in town this week and she brought her 12 yo twins. It's been a couple years since Moana has seen them but just the mere mention of 'cousins' got her all pumped up (seems she is confused and thinks they are actually her brother/sister and as much as I try to correct that she's not accepting it).

It was so interesting to me to watch the dynamics going on last night. Upon first meeting them Moana acted shy. That lasted about 60 seconds and then she and Erica were off looking for shells and flowers. What I found most interesting was how Moana was leading the way... grabbing Erica's hand and pulling her this way or that and instructing her about what they were going to do next. It made me shake my head... Um, she is 3. Where and when did she learn to be such a little take charge leader?? (Don't answer that.)

Anyway, last night we all hung out and then the cousins came here to spend the night. We don't actually have an extra bedroom so Nate was sleeping on the couch in the living room and Erica was sleeping on the couch in Moana's room. This excited Moana til no end. As soon as they arrived she was giving them a tour of the house... showing them where everything is... Then she got out just about every one of her toys to show Erica how to play. When I suggested that maybe Erica could read a bedtime story to Moana, Moana excitedly and enthusiastically  insisted, "No! I'll read a story to her!! Where is Mouse In The House??" (That's the one story she has completely memorized word for word so we had to find that particular book.) Eventually I found it and Moana sat her cousins down on the couch and read them the whole story. They were such good sports though they were kind of laughing at this point (following my lead I think because I just found the scene unbelievably funny).

So I'm trying to decide if Moana is going to grow up to be the bossy kid at school that the others all hate or if she'll learn to meter her enthusiasm for giving instructions and just end up class president? Maybe captain of the swim team? This remains to be seen.

In triathlon related news, I got my mojo back. That was quick I know but 6 days of doing next to nothing and then "watching" my two athletes Krista and Shane run so well at Boise 70.3 today was enough to light my fire! I wrote out not only my goals but the actions I plan to take to achieve them and then went out running and enjoyed every.single.step of it! Yay for the return to training!

"Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire."
Reggie Leach, hockey player

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Let It Ebb

This week was planned to be a bit of a mid-season break... physically recover from Honu... get mentally refreshed a bit... get caught up on stuff around the house and anything else I'd been neglecting...

Physically the recovery from Honu wasn't very hard. I was super fit going in, and since unfortunately I actually ran slower than any/all of my training runs in the last 3 months, the race didn't take a huge physical toll on me. That said, it did take a significant toll on me mentally/emotionally so I'm still taking this week to process it all and am waiting until I get my mojo back to really start training again. I don't think it'll take too long but I know myself and most of the time I'm chomping at the bit to get after it and TRAIN. Right now I'm not so I'm just going to wait it out and one of these days I will be back on a plan.

I did go ride my bike today... just one of those rides where you're cruising and taking in the scenery. I love those rides. I just let my mind wander and before I knew it I was back home. I don't even really remember a lot of what I was thinking about, but I do remember thinking that I am glad I have a nice uninterrupted block of ~8 weeks to train now... then in August I'll do Boulder 70.3 then 3 weeks later IM Canada. I have some ideas about what I want to focus on between now and then and I'll know when I'm ready to really get after it. Not yet.

I just thought I'd put it out there that even the most hard core training loving triathletes lose their mojo sometimes! So if you happen to feel this way (now or after any big race) it's nothing to worry about... totally normal... Mojo ebbs and flows and I think when it's ebbing you just gotta let it. It'll flow again soon. :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Honu 2012- The Details

OK so, um, where to start? I pride myself on keeping a pretty open/honest blog so with maybe just a little bit of a filter, here you go. ;)

I'd be lying if I said I was feeling totally satisfied with my race yesterday. That's a bit of a bummer b/c I feel like I was diligently prepared so to come away knowing that I just didn't have it during the race is confusing and frustrating. That said, it could have been a lot worse... and to end up on the podium in the most competitive age group in a super competitive 70.3 on a day that didn't even feel good to me is not something to be bummed about. And given some time to reflect, I can find some positives so I'm focusing on those.

I feel like I want to do this sort of bullet point style so bear with me.

~The swim started off perfectly. I had a clean start and hardly got touched at all. So that was nice. I started hard and after a minute or so saw Nalani swim up on my right so I got on her feet for a bit then as she started pulling away I saw Rae so hung on her feet until the first turn buoy. If you're wanting to know how in the world in a swim start with ~1600 people I know who I'm swimming with, I'll offer you this: 1- The water at Hapuna is as clear as it gets. 2- I used Foggle to clean my goggles prior to the race so my vision was good. 3- I swim 10K+/week with Nalani so I would recognize her stroke anywhere. 4- Rae was wearing my race suit from last year that I gave her so she was obvious.

~Because the water was so clear and because I tend to trust those I swim around in big races like this, I hardly bother sighting at all. I'm like a lemming in these swims. I am not even kidding when I tell you the first time I looked up the first turn buoy was right there and that was maybe 400M into the race? Beautiful! Point is, I follow feet and call it good. But I will admit it was weird when at one point we were swimming along and all of a sudden everyone seemed to make a pretty hard right and started heading toward shore. I kind of looked up at that point b/c I didn't think I saw a buoy so it was weird that we were turning so sharply but everyone around me was doing it so how could everyone be wrong?? Ha! Everyone was wrong. I've heard some different stories but I think the deal is that a buoy broke loose and floated away (officially 33 knot winds and a small craft advisory but funny b/c it didn't even seem that choppy to me? We swim in small craft advisories all the time so no concerns there...) and the front group missed it and headed toward another buoy that wasn't actually the correct one... Scott was watching from shore and saw that we all missed it but couldn't figure out what the lifeguards were going to do b/c the group was so big (like 50-100 people?)- he said it was impressive how they got us all to turn around. I don't know. At one point I stopped and put my head up and heard the guard yelling and pointing THE BUOY IS BACK THERE!! and I turned around and saw it so sure enough, we all went back. Except for 2 people I heard went all the way to the shore and then were told to go swim all the way back. What a cluster. Anyway, it added some time to our swim- not terrible maybe 2' at most. Scott said the lead swimmers had the worst deal b/c they/we had further to go back to correct the mistake vs the swimmers who were not as far along when the correction needed to be made. Whatever. I kept my head on straight through all of that though coming out with such a huge group made T1 a crowded ugly mess. Turns out though I was only 30" behind Nalani out of the water and she won the TYR prize for fastest amateur female swimmer so even though the overall time was slow, my position was fine.

~I didn't waste a lot of time in T1. I practiced buckling my helmet beforehand so no fumbling this time. :) That long steep hill is a bitch to run up though.

~Immediately on the bike I did not feel super strong but figured I'd give myself some time to settle in and maybe it would get better? It was crazy windy. Ripping wind. I remember thinking I wouldn't really bother to try to describe it to anyone because unless you were out there, you don't really know. I will say though, it was the worst wind I'd ever ridden in (ever in 18 years of riding a bike) and there were plenty of times I was legitimately afraid. Mostly b/c it was a crosswind for the bulk of it. I totally remember thinking I just wanted a headwind. Headwind makes it hard but doesn't make it scary. I can do hard but I don't like scary and honestly I'm disappointed in how I physically handled it (up out of my aero bars vs just powering through it). I ride in wind all the time so was confident I would be fine but maybe I was overly confident? Whatever it was, I was tense and afraid and not feeling strong and just didn't ride as well as I have before. Then it started raining on us which was almost comical. I don't really mind riding in rain but I will say that descending from Hawi spinning out in your 53/11 while the winds are gusting at 40mph from the side on wet roads leaves a little something to be desired. That's all.

~In the end I rode ~8' slower than last year which given the conditions wasn't as bad as it could have been (2:38). I think I was 4th amateur off the bike? Funny that that would be disappointing to me, eh? I have a new theory about expectations... given how I felt all week (all year, really), my expectations were that I was going to blow it out on the bike. But I did not. I rode fine, but I did not ride like I expected to ride so that was frustrating. That said, it was all I had on the day, as evidenced by the severe cramping I experienced in the first 1/2 mile of the run...

~It was almost amusing, really, to witness the cramping in both my quads when I tried to start running. First time all year I've had even a twinge of a cramp so not sure what that was all about? Looking back maybe I was missing a bit of nutrition on the bike? I did pretty well with that but wasn't able to totally follow my plan b/c much of the time I was simply too afraid to reach for a water bottle so I definitely drank less than I would have otherwise. I took Vespa so wasn't super concerned about missing some calories- I got enough fuel down to feel like I would be ok. Yet there I was... maybe one minute into the run just bent over watching both my quads knot up. I took a couple of e21 tabs and thought I just needed to keep moving forward so just tried to walk it off... sure enough maybe a minute later I was jogging again. e21 is a serious miracle. I swear that first mile felt like it was 20' long with all the stopping and walking but it was only 10:35 (how bad is it when you're relieved it only took you 10:35 to cover that mile? LOL). And yes, I changed up my normal plan and wore a garmin on the run. I'm glad I did b/c pretty much the whole time I felt like I was running even slower than I actually was so the mile splits, while not what I was hoping for, were faster than they felt. It got better after that first mile and I started running 8:25, then 8:18, then 8:08... still slower than I anticipated based on my training but not a complete disaster. The middle miles were pretty much like fighting a war- running into 30mph winds is hard. At one point maybe mile 8-9 I was running with my friend Ryan and we were actually laughing at how ridiculous it all was. Killing ourselves to run 9' miles on a long downhill with wind just kicking up dust/sand so we couldn't even see. There really was nothing to do but laugh. I tried to stay focused and just move forward as fast as it could but it was hard. But mile 10 or so I got to turn around and run uphill- normally this part of the course is a bitch b/c it's hot like an oven and let's face it- mile 10 of any 70.3 is just crazy hard- but this is where I actually ran my best- over 1'/mile faster going up with the tailwind vs down into the headwind. Nice, eh? Last 3 miles mostly with a nice tailwind pushing me home I felt like I was running instead of simply fighting a war. Final time was 5:07, fully 15' slower than last year. At first I was most disappointed b/c I felt like this race did not reflect my training... but maybe the reflection of my training is the fact that I can still pull out a fairly decent race even when I feel 'off' all day? Now to just figure out how to feel 'on' on race day... The Million Dollar Question... Still working on that one as it appears to be elusive and different with each training cycle? I thought I nailed it this time but I did not. I'll try again in August though. ;)

So there you go. True to my word I had a beer down the hatch within 10' of crossing the finish line. Firerock!
Some final notes...

~I'm probably most proud of the fact that I didn't mentally collapse when I knew I wasn't having a great day. I got passed, I felt frustrated, but I kept my shit together and didn't fall apart and give up. I did the best I could with what I had yesterday. No excuses.

~I'm a Powerbar girl now! I've been using Powerbar products all year and didn't even realize how much I liked them until I took a GU they gave out on the run course. That GU was so thick and tough to choke down. Funny b/c I used to choose GU exclusively but I'm a convert now. Next time I race I will carry more of my own Powergel. I find the thinner consistency (and better taste!) so much easier to deal with when racing. Double Latte is probably my favorite one though I pretty much like them all.

~I'm super proud of my athletes. Patrick, Gene and Leigh all had solid PR's (simply amazing and tells us they've got way faster ones in them for next time!). Patrick got on the podium in his age group and also took a Vegas spot. Nalani won the TYR prize for fastest swim (her second one- she's legit). Elizabeth finished her first 70.3 AND got Lance to sign her medal. Steve finished despite having not run a step in 4 weeks due to a random accident resulting in a broken toe. Wayne finished even after being blown into a ditch on the bike, and Ramona also persevered the windstorm and showed some grit getting to the finish! 8 starters, 8 finishers, all with their own awesome war stories of a day they will not soon forget.

~Lance is a complete bad ass. OMG. 2:01 on that course in those conditions? I saw him hammering twice (each out and back section) and it was incredible- like he was not even affected at all by the wind. I am not even kidding when I say I think he could have 20' lead on Macca in T2 in October. That is going to be one amazing race.