Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Figured Out The Nerve Pain...

Thanks for all your comments and experiences with regard to my last post... I've since figured it out though... and we were all wrong... So I guess the good news is that I don't actually have any type of piriformis issue or sciatica or pinched nerve. The bad news is that I've got shingles and it hurts and it sucks.

I'll detail it here just in case any of you ever have to deal with this... it seems quite random and it's not very common especially for younger people... yet somehow I ended up with it? I'll start from the beginning.

I've felt 'off' for a few weeks. Not crazy bad and not like I needed to lay in bed or anything but just like something wasn't quite right. It was enough that I went to my doctor and requested a full blood panel to be drawn- testing everything we could think of hormones and adrenals, etc. To my surprise, everything came back pretty normal and mostly within range, which just made me think I was just imagining not feeling well (Hello am I just completely crazy?? Don't answer that...) ... I will note here that both red and white cell counts were low... hematocrit 35- (evidence I'm not doping! Ha! But this could explain why I don't feel like superwoman when training). White cell count at 4.1- (evidence of a weakened immune system). All other tests came back with normal results.

So then last week I had that shooting nerve pain down the back of my left leg that seemingly came out of nowhere. I thought maybe it was piriformis related but even that seemed odd to me b/c I have not been pushing any limits in training lately. I mean, I know when I'm flirting with overuse injury territory and my recent training would not put me in that category. Yet that nerve pain was real and unrelenting and very bothersome.

Interestingly, when I went to see Magic Man for acupuncture on Friday (two days post start of nerve pain), he noticed a little blistery rash spot right on the acupuncture point he wanted to use for my piriformis. Hmmm. Conicidence? Must be. I easily explained that away as I'd been swimming in the ocean that morning and it's totally commonly to get stung by something that causes a minor itchy rash to pop up and then it goes away within a day or two. No big deal.

When that night I noticed another rash spot appear on that same butt cheek, it was more concerning. I texted Nalani to ask if she'd had any rash/stings from our ocean swim that morning... she said she had... but hers wasn't blistering and hers wasn't spreading so maybe mine was something different?? The whole next day I was searching for an answer to my weird rash and I finally came up with one... must be a side effect from the anti-biotics I was taking (another long story as I gashed the top of my foot a few weeks ago and it had gotten infected so I was on a 7 day course of anti-biotics). I pretty much blamed everything on the anti-biotics... They must have been the reason I was feeling less than 100% and since the package insert listed rash as a possible side effect I assumed that was it.

So then when I woke up Sunday morning and the rash had spread further even though I was done with the course of anti-biotics, well, I was having a hard time ignoring it anymore. The rash was itchy and all the new red blistery spots were lining up in a band but only on that left side. By Sunday night I had like 9 of those spots so I consulted Dr Google and found my answer.


Shingles usually begins with a burning sensation, a mild itching or tingling or a shooting pain in a specific area of skin. The affected area usually is located only on one side of the chest, abdomen or face or on a portion of an arm or leg. The skin may be extremely sensitive, so that you may not be able to stand clothing touching or rubbing the area.
After a few days, the skin becomes red and mildly swollen, and a rash appears. Blisters may cluster in patches or form a continuous line that roughly follows the path of the infected nerve. The blisters may be painful or itchy, and some may be as large as the palm of your hand. Blisters continue to appear over two to seven days and eventually break, form crusts and then heal.
Shingles also can cause fatigue, a low-grade fever and mild muscle aches.


Ah ha! I went to tell Scott that I thought I had shingles and he sort of looked at me like I was crazy and in all honesty I felt sort of crazy even saying that outloud. Great. Now I'm just one of those crazy people who reads too much on the internet and diagnoses herself with random rare diseases. But the pictures of the blisters looked exactly like mine and all the symptoms added up and made sense... Pic below is not actually of me (aren't you glad??) but this is a lot like what mine look like. The spots run right along the nerve line but just on one side- classic shingles.

Interestingly, when you call your doctor and tell the receptionist that you think you might have shingles,  she will have an opening to get you in within the hour, even on a Monday morning!! Amazing how that works. I might add here that being instructed to enter the building through the super secret side door instead of through the front lobby goes a long way toward making you feel like a leper.

Doc took one look at my rash and confirmed shingles. Shingles, really, is just a sort of rare reoccurrence of chicken pox that can come back later in life if/when your immune system is compromised. When I told my mom, she reminded me that I had a really bad case of chicken pox when I was 4.

Anyway, turns out, shingles just gets more and more painful as the days pass by. I've felt like absolute garbage, mostly in bed, for the last 3 days. A lot like severe flu symptoms, really. Achy all over and then that rash hurts like a bitch too (an unrelenting bitch!). So while I've been in bed, I haven't actually been sleeping b/c it all hurts too badly to sleep. Doc gave me Rx for anti-viral meds, viodin for pain, and ambien so I could sleep. You know its bad when it's 2AM and you're up surfing the web desperately looking for an at home remedy for shingles blisters pain because the pain is so bad that the vicodin/ambien combo you took didn't even allow you to sleep. Seriously. I made the mistake of giving in to the urge to SCRATCH last night and oooooh.... aaaaaahhhh... just made it worse. Somebody handcuff me?? I've put coconut oil on them and that has been somewhat soothing but the best thing I've tried was apple cider vinegar. That has actually worked to relieve some of the pain and itching and dries up the blisters a little. Fwiw, paste made from baking soda and water stings like a mofo. Not recommended.

Not sure how much longer I'll be in bed with this? My urge to exercise is a big fat zero. All I really want is some relief from the pain and a little bit of energy. Too much to ask?

Don't take your health for granted. Maybe that's the lesson here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Uninvited Electric Shock Therapy. Please Help!

Well well... so it seems I have to deal with my first ever case of Piriformis Syndrome. ~18 years of running and riding and never had this issue before... though I hear it is a common one so hoping maybe some of you out there in Blogland might be able to help me through it? I've had my share of calf issues in the past so feel like I've got the process of managing that one down pat... but this piriformis/sciatic pain thing is new and I'm kind of at a loss.

It started a few days ago seemingly out of the blue. Well, I did a long run on Sunday (19 miles) but woke up Monday morning feeling awesome... the pain actually started on Tuesday evening but wasn't really that bad... but Wed morning I woke up to what felt like some more serious type of pain. Weird- like pulsating electric pain down the back of my left leg. I was guessing it was nerve pain b/c it was just so different from anything I'd ever felt before? I bailed on my planned run that day (and the next) b/c it just didn't seem prudent to run when I had this pulsating electric pain every 30" all day/night. It didn't seem to matter if I was sitting or standing or sleeping or swimming- every 30" or so I'd get this shock of pain down my leg that was enough to make me grimace. I broke down and took some ibuprofen (had to go out and buy some b/c we didn't even have any in the house- I don't take that stuff unless emergency!) but it did not seem to help. Ice did not seem to help though eventually after consulting Dr Google I moved the ice pack up to my lower back and interestingly that provided more relief than icing my hamstring which was where I was actually feeling the pain.

So I've been stretching with every piriformis stretch I can think of... rolling my ass out on the Trigger Point ball (UM< OUCH< OMG> WOW< PAIN) and seems like I've gotten it to release a bit... enough that I ran a short bit on Friday morning and while it didn't feel perfect it wasn't crazy painful. I went and had acupuncture on Friday afternoon (nothing like having a long needle stuck in your ass- glamorous!) and thought maybe it would be better but rode ~30 miles yesterday morning and after that my left foot was numb and tingly. Prob not a good sign, eh? Since then the electric shock nerve pain is back and I had a hard time even sleeping through it last night. :(

I have an ART appt tomorrow and my guy is good- he works with IM athletes so hoping he'll be able to help.... but of course I'm curious to know how other athletes have managed this type of piriformis tightness when it's affecting sciatic nerve. That nerve pain is uncomfortable (to say the least). Any tips on how to get rid of it??

Friday, October 26, 2012

Just The Right Kind Of Crazy

Several times/week I go for a 5ish mile run that loops around my town... down to the ocean and back. It's one of my favorite loops b/c it's got nice views of the ocean and it's a bit hilly and usually I'm just relaxing and cruising fairly easy when I do it. Anyway, I used to call it my 'Gilligan's Island Loop' b/c there's a view of a cute little island out there which is where they filmed the intro for Gilligan's Island way back when...
It never really occurred to me that this would be a good place to swim. Mostly b/c ~8 years ago when I was buying this condo I mentioned something about how cool it was that it was to live so close to the water for swimming and my real estate cut me off and said Don't even think about swimming there- Kaneohe Bay is a breeding ground for sharks! Well ok then. So I've never, not once in almost 8 years, swam there.

But then I saw a picture on FB (the one posted above!) last weekend that some of my friends were swimming around that island... Great 1.75 mile swim, they said. Beautiful reef, they said. Hmmmm. So we can swim there after all? What about the breeding of the sharks?? I asked Scott and he said, "Oh they're just baby sharks..." So what? Baby sharks don't eat so we don't have to worry about them? I did a google search for Coconut Island pics for this blog (we didn't bring a camera this morning so I'm shamelessly stealing pics from others!) I found a couple pics of the sharks that are out there. Spoiler alert: We didn't see any this morning.
So as the sun was coming up this morning I was running down to the water with my cap and goggles in hand. It's ~2 miles down to the private property we were trying to sneak onto to start the swim... that's the other issue with this swim- no good public pier to launch from. Once you're in the water, it's public. But getting to the water is tricky, b/c it's private. PITA if you ask me! Nalani was worried about breaking the rules so this was not a relaxing morning for her. Mark and I are more the rule breakers so we were like WHATEVER. Sure enough when we were on the private pier about to jump in the water a guy on a boat came up to us and told us it was private and we weren't allowed to be there... we played dumb though and smiled and told him we'd be careful and this would only take like 40'. :) So off we went!

And you know what?? I LOVED IT. It was super cool swimming around the edge of the reef- sort of reminded me of that scene from Finding Nemo where Nemo wants to swim off the edge of the reef- we basically just hovered around the perimeter of the island right along the reef drop off. Here's an aerial view I found online...
We stopped a bunch and chatted... checking out the island from the backside... and decided that if we had access to a pier where we knew we wouldn't get in trouble we'd be swimming here ALL THE TIME! So maybe 10' after that we saw a guy on a stand up paddle board headed our way... stopped and chatted with him and turns out he has a house with a pier not too far from the private one we pretty much got kicked off of. He said normally he doesn't allow people to use his pier but that we were apparently just the right kind of crazy (his exact words!) and that he would let us use his pier access. TA DAH! Like serendipity or something?? He gave me his phone number so we can get in touch next time we want to run to the ocean for an awesome swim. Here's a view from the backside of the island looking at Oahu. Obviously I did not take this picture but this is what we saw this morning... Windward Oahu. This is where I live. I really try not to take this for granted. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Joy!

You know what's interesting? These new kitties have brought a ton of JOY into our home. They are just so cute and so much fun and all of us are really enjoying them. Even Hoku! I swear she is 5 years younger having these active little furry things to watch all the time. Right now the 2 cats are playing tackle tag which is apparently a favorite no matter what time of day or night.

Moana gets home from school and first thing is like Let's play with the kitties! Turns out, kittens are awesome babysitters.
Ozzie is coming out of his shell. He was pretty shy for the first day or two and this is pretty much what we saw of him.
Now he hides a lot less. The other night he actually spent like 30' cuddling with me while I was reading (I am finally reading Gone Girl- wow- captivating book!) and he was purring up a storm and I just really enjoyed the fact that he chose me to trust and open up to.

One thing I can say for sure is that having two cats is really not any harder than having one, and overall I'm super happy with the decision to bring Ozzie home as well. They entertain each other (and us!) all the time and are clearly super happy together. Harriet cleans Ozzie.
They share the same food bowl.
They work together to get around the big black dog who guards the bottom of the stairs at night.
And now I'm thinking that this is the new normal state of geckos in our household. Good thing those tails grow back.

Anyway, don't worry... this blog isn't going to turn into a cat blog... I'm still running/biking/swimming and finally it's starting to feel more normal (which is also bringing me JOY!) and at some point I'll talk about that more again... but for now seems like folks are all its-off-season-sit-you-should-sit-on-your-ass-and-eat-cake-and-if-you're-not-doing-that-somethings-wrong-with-you so once that general sentiment passes I'll talk training again. ;)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cats Don't Wear Barrettes

So my husband learned a little lesson yesterday... something like Don't let Michelle go to Petco alone. In fairness, he knew that I was going b/c I wanted to adopt a little black/white kitten that had been abandoned in a box in a field with its 7 siblings... but he was a little shocked when I came home with the black/white one and her brother. I could say I was pressured into it- the cat adoption lady was pretty adamant that the two would be happier together and oh the poor little grey cat left all by himself, etc. Moana, of course, was over the moon when I pulled not one but TWO cats out of the bag last night. It was so incredibly cute- the two of them rolling around and wrestling in Moana's room. Might have been cuter if it was 11 AM instead of PM but whatever. We missed some sleep last night.

Our dog is ~14 years old and prefers to not move as much anymore because her hips hurt :(. That said, her face lit up like a little puppy when we introduced the kittens to her- perky ears and interested eyes... The cats growled a bit at first but seems it took them ~10' to figure out that Hoku is not actually a threat at all. So now there are as many pets in this house as there are people!

I'll post pics when I can manage to get some. If you've ever had a kitten maybe you understand my dilemma- they don't sit still long enough to get a good shot? I will tell you we took Mary's suggestion and named then Ozzie and Harriet. Harriet is the little black/white one and she's as outgoing as they come. She was running laps around the house this morning while Ozzie hid under the bed. That said, Ozzie is coming out of his shell and the two have been playing together all afternoon. I guess that's the benefit of having two! Harriet also tends to lick Ozzie clean. Just like the girl to have to clean up the boy, no? Lol.

Just overheard in our house, Me: "No Moana- Harriet doesn't want a hair clip in her fur..."

Moana: "WHY MOMMY??"

Me: "Because cats don't wear barrettes."

Moana: "Well I'm just going to show her the hair clip..."

So this should be interesting for everybody!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kona... From The Sidelines

Sunday night we're back from Kona and mostly all unpacked already. I can walk up and down the stairs just fine and don't have to hold onto the railing or anything! I guess that's another bonus about not racing. ;)

So I was asked quite often yesterday by friends I saw throughout the day "Are you bummed you're not racing??" In all honesty, I thought I was going to be way more bummed than I actually was. Of course when I was watching the swimmers get in the water, of course I had this thought that I wanted to get in there too, but it was brief. Then it passed and I sincerely enjoyed watching and cheering the rest of the day!

If you followed along on Twitter yesterday you prob have a good sense of how the day went from my perspective... started with a 5ish mile run in the dark down Ali'i Dr... then we stopped here prior to finding our spot for viewing the swim start.

Swim start was exciting and full of energy as always. Though maybe I was seeing things wrong, but it just didn't look as crowded/brutal as it has in years past? Maybe it just looked weird b/c the floating Ford car was missing.

The cooler part of the morning was viewing from the hot corner. So that's where you get to see cyclists ripping down Palani, left on to Kuakini for a bit of a climb, then screaming back down Kuakini, right turn up Palani Dr prior to heading out on the Queen K for the rest of the ride. We had a super spot in the median of the road right on that corner so we could see riders coming and going and holy cow just about everyone was HAMMERING through the turns and up that hill. Yikes. I mean seriously. I think I heard a report from Training Peaks about a power file that had been sent in where one of the pros hit a max of 824W at that point?!? I mean seriously, it was like watching a sprint triathlon. They were just RIPPING. Some of the interviews I heard later said that McKenzie and Crowie were the ones pushing the pace and maybe that was b/c they realized Macca was like 50" back out of the water so they were trying to gap him? It worked if that's what they were trying to do. The women were a little more spread out when they came through and didn't look like they were hammering quite as hard, but no one looked like he/she was easing into their bike ride. That's for sure!

Then hoards of age groupers came through and most of them apparently thought that what's good for the pros must be good for them too b/c many of them were standing up and sprinting up Palani like there was some sort of prime at the top of the hill. It's so early in the race at that point and there are spectators with cowbells everywhere and you're in The World Championships and the energy and mood surrounding you is simply frantic and well, most everyone gets caught up in it and goes super hard. Maybe some of them are fit enough to handle a burst like that but I would surmise that reality set in for most of them somewhere around mile 90, at which point sprinting up Palani might not have seemed like such a good idea after all. Interestingly, I saw some of the top amateur girls who looked very controlled at that point. Smart!

Anyway, it was super fun cheering for everyone yet dizzying looking for specific friends b/c it was all so crowded and so fast. I hung around and waited until I saw most all of the folks I knew ride up the hill and then I ran back to our condo to chill out and recharge my phone. Apparently when you tweet every minute or so for ~two hours, it kills the battery on your old iPhone 3. At home I was able to follow the action on Twitter so we knew when the boys were going to start running...

Our condo was just maybe 1/2 mile past the 5 mile turn-around on Ali'i Dr so we figured that would be a good place to start watching the marathon. It also gave us a few extra minutes to drink more beer before we headed out there. Of course, we brought a bunch with us on our fancy cruisers. This pic is especially awesome b/c I snapped the shot while I was riding after already having had 2 beers... THEN, while still riding, I posted it to Twitter! I have skillz.

So we were right by mile 5 for the next few hours where we continued to drink and cheer like mad... I took pictures of most of the pros who raced by and we yelled mostly what we thought was inspiring stuff at them... though as the beer bottles emptied further our comments (to each other at least) got more and more honest.

In case you missed my live tweets... Lol...

So ya, we had fun out there!! When it was time for Jacobs to finish we started making our way back into town but then, well, that's a long way on heavy cruiser bikes when you're buzzin' and of course we ran into like 100 people we knew so we stopped to chat a lot and well, we didn't see the men finish. I think by the time I got back to Palani the top 15 men had all already come in. BUT the women hadn't come in yet and this is where it gets good! Everyone I was hanging with by that point had a dead phone battery so last we heard, Rinny was still ~3' back and had stopped gaining but Leanda was gaining on Steffen who was still out front. I think that was like mile 22 update. After that we knew nothing! So we were hanging around making our guesses as to who we were going to see running down Hualalai first... my bet was Steffen... primarily b/c when we saw Leanda at mile 5 she was huffing and puffing already and honestly did not look good. Here's what I tweeted at that point (mile 5):
So honestly, hearing that she was still ahead of Rinny at mile 22 was shocking to me! Anyway, eventually we heard helicopters up ahead so we knew the women must be getting close then we saw the lead motorbike coming down the hill and sure enough, Leanda Cave was pushing hard for the final turn onto Ali'i Dr! The crowd was thick where I was and it was all just so cool to see her running her way to the win.

It was a few more minutes before we saw Steffen and then a few more minutes still before we saw Rinny, so clearly those two had shut it down to some degree once the win seemed out of reach. Watching Rinny run down the hill to the finish I'd say she did not have the same look of grit and determination I saw on her face last year at that same point (last year I was on my way up Palani as she was ripping down to the finish for 2nd and I don't think I'll ever forget the look on her face?? It was incredibly intense like she had still not given up on winning!?!) This year the lookon her face said she'd been beaten and she knew it. I didn't actually see her on Ali'i Dr but Scott did and he said that when she had the finish line in sight, she looked behind her then started walking. Obviously I don't mean any disrespect by that (ha! Given how may times I've walked in Ironman marathons I've lost count!) but just interesting to note the difference between last year and this year.

I am in awe of Leanda Cave- primarily b/c of her tenacity and grit in holding it together when she looked like she might fall apart so early on in the marathon. I posted this on FB last night... Apparently I wasn't the only one who saw Cave early on and dismissed her as a potential winner. There is a good lesson in there for all of us about just how mental this Ironman game really is. How much did Leanda BELIEVE she was capable of catching Xena?? Her belief must have been steadfast to carry her though like that. Super cool.

Anyway, after that we hung around and watched a bunch of our friends finish which was also super cool- especially the first time Kona finishers who had some tears welling up in their eyes as they turned onto Ali'i. I think just about everyone was fairly significantly slower than they thought they were going to be (or might have been capable of on a day with more mild conditions) so on a day like that you throw out your finishing time and relish in the fact that you got to experience it all! The swells in the ocean, the legendary winds at Hawi, the blazing sun/heat on the run... Ironman Hawaii is indeed a very special (and very humbling) race experience.

Moana enjoyed it too! She got a lot of high 5's there on Ali'i Dr and was so stoked every time! Watch this short video, then next time you race, give that little kid a high 5 when they want one!
video
In other news, we all guessed wrong on our predictions of the top 3 winners of the race! BUT, I am still going to send out the box of Powergels... and I'm giving it to Monica- primarily* because Monica came up with the best story about how the race might play out and she was the only one who guessed that Macca would not even be a factor. I do wonder if he is going to be done with Kona now or if he'll be back?? Seems like he wouldn't come back unless he thought he could win (which seems highly unlikely at this point?) but how do you end your Kona legacy with a DNF? And it wasn't even like he kept pushing until he passed out or evenly clearly needed medical. He just gave up?!? That was disappointing for sure. I will note here that Crowie showed class hanging in there even when he was out of the top 10.

*The secondary reason I'm giving it to Monica is b/c I know she sucks at fueling herself for long training so I'm hoping this will spark her to eat something other than cake. ;) Send me your new address, Monica!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kona Fever!! And PowerBar Schwag!

OK so are you sick of it yet? It's only Tuesday of race week but yikes if my whole FB/Twitter feed isn't filled with pictures from Kona... I know I am not the only one who is not there (yet) but at times it feels like I am the only one who is still at home and working.

In good news, we are heading over on Thursday night to hang out and watch the scene for the weekend. I am excited of course and I know that I'll have a blast watching and cheering, though I would be LYING if I told you I was happy to not be racing. TGINR??? Um, No. Well truth be told, if someone told me today that a spot opened up and I could start on Saturday I would turn that down b/c, well, I am FAR from feeling like I'm in shape to knock out a good ironman right now, but you know what I mean. I can promise you that when I am standing on the sidelines on Saturday morning and the helicopters are buzzing overhead and the drums are beating rhythmically and the swimmers are in the water waiting for the cannon (oh I just got goosebumps), I will have a massive pit in my stomach that will turn into something that will burn in my belly until I get to the start line in Cabo in March.

Anyway. I'll be drunk by noon and then it'll all be just fun and games hooting and hollering at everyone as they suffer out there on the Queen K. ;)

So I've been asked several times who my picks are to win the race... It's a crap shoot really, because what do I know? Disclaimer: I don't know any of those pros. I am completely guessing. But here are my WAG's anyway... and I'll give you my little reasonings why I'm guessing the way I am.

Women first!

1. Steffen (she's coached by Sutton and I have a hard time believing she won't be 120% prepared for this. She's like a machine, no?)
2. Cave (I think she has more confidence and sees herself as a deserving contender now. She'll come off the bike 2nd and stay there?)
3. Joyce (Total guess here but I think she'll stay near Leanda and finish before Rinny. Either Joyce or Ellis in this third spot but since I'm writing it down, I'll guess Joyce.)

Notice I left Rinny off the list? I don't know. She's hard to bet against in Kona, but maybe since she dropped out of Vegas and just hasn't seemed to be on fire anywhere yet this year, I am betting against her. There you go. I said it.

Men next!

1. Macca (ok I know people love him or hate him but I love how he puts himself out there and I think he's going to be ready for this race mentally more than anything. I think he's going to shadow whoever is near the front until late in the marathon where he will run to take the lead!)
2. Andreas Raelert (He's hot. and a badass. That's all.)
3. Crowie (I think he'll be right in there and close to the lead with Macca and Raelert and I don't know why I'm betting against him losing on the marathon but my WAG is that he is not going to actually be able to run them down- they are going to run just as fast as he does.)

So who do you think are going to be top 3 women/men? Give us your WAG's in the comments below and I've got a box of PowerBar gels (Kona Punch!) to send to whoever guesses correctly!

I'm also working the Powerbar booth on Friday morning, so if you're around, come say Aloha... and I'll also try to grab some more schwag to send out to whoever guesses the winners correctly! And in case it happens that 2 people guess exactly the same and are both right, the prize will go to the first person who made the guess... so I guess a good WAG strategy would be to not guess exactly the same as the person before you? Mix it up a little... :)

One last note, I'll be tweeting from the race all day on Saturday so if you want my version of the live happenings, follow along! #mamasimmons :)


Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Changed My Mind

One of the things I've been teaching Moana lately is that it is okay to change our minds. So now she says that all the time... I changed my mind... I want to wear the flowered shirt, not the blue one... etc. No problem, I tell her. Change your mind! She actually seems to be empowered by the knowledge that she can make a decision but then isn't totally bound to it if later on something else seems like a better idea.

So that's kind of how I'm justifying the fact that I gave up on my sparkly new coaching relationship less than a month into it. In the end, it turns out, I don't actually want to follow a strict Ironman training plan right now. Right now, I want to run. A lot. I want to run the 30K in 3 weeks and I want to run the 1/2 marathon 3 weeks after that and then I want to run the Honolulu Marathon 3 weeks after that. So while maybe a bike focus with only 14 mpw of (hard) running would have been a better long term ironman plan (?? maybe... up for debate), my heart said run the marathon. So I scrapped those 14 hard miles that were on my schedule this week and replaced them with 38 MAF miles (somewhere Lucho is smiling... for better or worse I am scarred for life now believing that building a MAF base is critical before trying to run hard) and along the way, even through all those boring tedious jogging miles this weekend, I found my joy.

It's funny how we feel bound to the schedule that our coach creates for us. I definitely felt that way. But then I felt like I wanted to run more. Like, a lot more. So I felt conflicted! And then when the coach says no I don't think the marathon 14 weeks out from your Ironman is a good idea, you go away from the conversation maybe a little bummed thinking you can't run it. Too bad so sad. But then you wake up and think WTF!?! I am an adult and this is my hobby and if I want to run the fucking marathon, I'm going to run the fucking marathon. And if it turns out to be a bad idea, well, I'll live with the consequences.

So there you go. Yesterday I was supposed to run a hard hilly hour hour, but I ran 2 hours MAF instead and ended up here.
Scott was on a team for the 24 Hours of Hell in Paradise (Mtn bike race) so he was going to camp and ride here for the weekend... Tough life I know! :)

I drove the car home then went back to get him this morning... Looks like a postcard, no? 
Mahalo to Mike Abbott for the photos!

Instead of driving back, I ran. It was awesome. My MAF pace improved 13"/mile in 1 day, even though day 2 was way hotter and net uphill. I love watching my fitness come back! I'm still crazy slow at MAF but I'm thinking in 4-6 weeks I should be in a much better spot and then the hard running I'll do will be more beneficial because a) I'll be able to do it and b) I'll be able to absorb it and c) I'll be able to recover from it. That's how it's worked for me in the past and that's how it's worked for a whole bunch of athletes I've coached over the years so that's how I'm going to try to do it again. ;)

So in the end, what's the lesson? That you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Lol. Nah, I am definitely open to new ways of doing things, but the fact of the matter is that personally, I thrive on load... emotionally and physically, I thrive on load. I read an interview by Matt Dixon where he said that about MBK and I was like YES! THAT is how I feel too! When I miss out on training load, I feel oddly empty and dissatisfied. So while 12 hard hours/week would probably be a magic formula for some people, turns out, it drives this old dog crazy in 3 weeks flat. Is that a new record?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

An Old Dog Learns New Tricks

So I was riding this afternoon, my third ride in 2 days, and thinking that I am just so stoked to be training so differently right now. Sometimes I feel like quite the old dog in this triathlon game... My first triathlon was in 1995 and I've never missed a year of racing so you do the math. Anyway, part of my rationale for hiring a new coach was in hopes I'd learn something new and here we are, beginning week 3 and I feel like I am indeed learning all sorts of new stuff! It's fun and invigorating and I am happy.

So ya, I will admit, when I saw my training plan for this week (first glance) I was a little disappointed. Mostly b/c my first glance went to weekly totals and I saw 12 hours and went WTF!?! I am training for an Ironman 12 hours is not going to cut it. Right? Well I'm 2 days into my 12 hour week and feeling pretty trashed.

Lesson #1. I guess if you do it right, 12 hours can completely kick your ass.

We're currently 24 weeks out from Cabo right now so doing training that is the opposite of Ironman is not a bad approach to take for an athlete like me (ie temporarily tapped out on low/moderate intensity volume). Which means I'm ripping up 50's in the pool and hammering for 2' at a time on the bike and doing fartlek runs and strides. It's completely different than anything I've done in years! And honestly, absolutely NOT something I could probably make myself to do unless someone was telling me to do it.

Lesson #2. I work WAY harder when someone else tells me to do a workout and I know I am going to report back to them. This, for me, might actually be the biggest benefit of having a coach.

I got on my bike this afternoon and with the first pedal stroke my legs started yelping LOUDLY (ouch)... and it occurred to me that even though I had not ridden more than ~30 miles at a time, when you do 3 such rides in 2 days, it adds up! So I got ~90 miles on the bike within ~30 hours time frame and the quality was quite a bit higher than what I would have done in a straight 90 miles. She's sneaky in how she set that up... making me think I wasn't biking long! My mind is already spinning in how I can use a similar strategy stacking workouts with some of my athletes this winter. ;)

Lesson #3. If you train often enough, and hard enough, it's way harder than just training long.

I'm sure going forward I'll have plenty of lessons about running... right now the focus is on the bike (obviously). Project: Transform Michelle Into Uberbiker has begun! ;) Of course I really like this part. I'm just hoping Sam isn't underestimating the massive challenge it will be when it comes time for Project: Transform Michelle Into Runner... That part might be harder.