Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013... By The Numbers

OK so as I continue to analyze my training/racing this past year, I went back and looked up some numbers for 2012 vs 2013. (2012 was easy b/c I compiled them and wrote up a blog post!) Mostly I just did a quick comparison of total volume in each sport.

I thought I swam a decent amount in 2012... had ~525Kyd. This past year, even with Dec being very small, I swam over 200K more than in 2012! Yikes. That seems absurd at the moment especially given that I only got maybe a hair faster. 525K seems like plenty. No need for 735,000+yd again in 2014.

Again with biking I thought 7,090 miles in 2012 was a lot... but in 2013 I added almost 2000 miles to that, topping out at just over 9000 miles for the year (again with Dec being near zero). My biking did get pretty strong this year but I don't think it was a lot stronger than it has been since 2011. The interesting thing about the bike volume is that is was done by riding frequently, not by riding long. My longest training rides were rarely more than ~80 miles... seriously I think I did maybe 3-4 rides total that were over 90 miles (not including my 2 ironman races). So mostly this was adding up a ton of 35-45 mile rides. A lot of this riding was quite hard as well but without monitoring HR or power I can't really quantify how hard. Given my racing results though I'd go out on a limb and call it too much and too hard.

My run volume was actually only a little higher in 2013 vs 2012... I came up with 1520 miles this year vs ~1480 last year- but again, Dec was very low volume running so this is mostly an 11 month total. The vast majority of those run miles this year were done by feel vs by HR and the end result was 2 of my slowest ironman marathons in years, so clearly running by feel is not a method that works for me. Without a doubt I need a leash to hold me back on my easy runs- making sure they are legitimately easy vs just adding unnecessary stress without even contributing to metabolic efficiency. I do think run volume works for me but I need to go about monitoring the intensity differently.

I do think there are a few good things about that training I did... I believe the volume might prove to be beneficial once I shed the excess fatigue (after ~4 weeks of doing next to nothing it seems to be mostly gone now). It's been interesting though as I've strapped my HR monitor back on this past week. All those run miles did NOT make me more aerobically efficient on the run. Isn't that crazy?!? I remember when Lucho started coaching me in 2011 and he was watching my HR/pace on the run and told me that I was not aerobically fit and I was totally offended thinking WTF I'd done like 10 Ironmans or whatever how was it possible I was not aerobically fit??? But he was right! And even though I hated it (at first), I was diligent about my run training that year and per his instructions I held back A LOT in training (but put in the miles for sure) and low and behold that was the year I had my best triathlon runs- both 70.3 and Ironman marathons.

So now here I go strapping my HR monitor on again and I find my ability to run with HR in the 140's is not good (it's getting better fast though in a week I'm a minute/mile faster at that low HR). But I was fooling myself this whole past year running my 'easy' runs probably with HR in the 160's and that is not actually 'easy' and it did not work out well for me. Turns out, simply running a lot does not make me aerobically fit. Have to do those miles at the right intensity if I want the right results! :) So, in 2014 I'm going back to the Lucho method of run training (ok, bike too) focusing primarily on MAF running for the next few months then will do my quality mostly with long tempo runs once my HR monitor tells me I'm ready for that. This time around I'm actually enjoying the process because I'm confident it's the right path for me! Cheers to 2014! Happy New Year!



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thank You For The Lessons


And just like that, it's almost 2014!

I am not immune to the New Years way of thinking... sometimes I even make resolutions. Well, not really resolutions, but goals, and I guess those are pretty much the same thing, no? Anyway, like many others out there I am reflecting on the last year and thinking and planning for how I am going to move forward. And I have some very clear ideas!

Since this is a triathlon blog I'll stick mostly to my triathlon-related thoughts and plans, with just a quick mention that one of my biggest goals for 2014 is to learn how to grow fruits and vegetables in my yard! I've spent a lot of time this month digging and planting and watering and I hope to be able to soon feed myself and my family some good fresh food that grew right here. I'm super inspired to make it happen and can see myself getting pretty into the gardening thing! Anyway.

So 2013 was an interesting year. I think I mentioned before that while I'd consider it without a doubt the year I did my very best training, it is also, interestingly, the year I showed up feeling flat and unable to perform to all my big races. I took most of the month of December to reflect on this and of course the two are related. Kind of a bummer really b/c while I'd love to repeat the training that I did, I have no desire to repeat those race experiences, which means that really, I need to change my training.

I read this article a few weeks ago when it was floating around and it really hit home. I'm going to write about that article assuming you've read it... In it he talks about the ingredients to success... Talent, Work, and the Touch. I'm not sure I have the talent, but I sure have done the work, and over the years, like the author of the article, I think I've lost the Touch. He writes:

In my swimming career, as I went on, my workouts kept getting faster and faster, and over a few years I became much more focused on training. I always trained well, but it became more of an obsession and an end in itself over the years. This resulted in the achievement of some pretty high levels of conditioning and some outstanding workout sets which stand on their own, but my performances in meets became more of an academic exercise. It was as though through training I wanted to “prove” my ability to perform, much like Middle Age philosophers tried to prove the existence of God. I had to prove it to myself by training faster and faster every year and over time I relied less and less on faith or “the Touch.” I knew what the results would be because I had already been there. I lost that sense of wonder and anticipation, and I lost the belief that I had another level to reach on race day. Now, don’t get the wrong idea—I’m not talking about loafing through practice. I’m talking about maintaining an attitude–through whatever works for you—that you’ve got something more, and when the time comes you’re ready to unleash one. Training and practice are feasibility studies—you need to do enough to know you’ll be ready on race day, and better prepared than just about anyone. What if someone out there is better prepared than you? They might be—that is quite possible—it’s even probable—but if you’ve paid attention to what I am telling you–Does it matter?

Not that I've ever really had a super magic touch, but I do remember in the past surprising myself during races- performing better than I did in training or maybe even better than I thought possible based on my training! THAT is what makes racing fun! Unfortunately, I did not experience any of that this past year. I did have some training sessions that were so awesome I sent my coach text messages directly from my car at the track... so stoked at how well I'd nailed a session that I just had to share right now... but then pretty much universally on race day I felt the desire to go hide in a hole for a few days after crossing the finish line, wondering what had just happened??

So. What to do about that? How does one go about getting that magic feeling back on race day? I think it's about making sure you are as best prepared as possible for the race, yet without showing up at the start line having left your best performance on the road or track the prior week. Managing your training in a way that allows you to believe in your ability without having to prove it to yourself every Tuesday... Keeping in mind that the goal of each training session is to prepare you for a good performance on race day... Training sessions are not races in and of themselves... "Training and practice are feasibility studies". I love that!

I feel really strongly that I know what kind of fitness I need to have in order to perform to my potential in a race. I've toyed with the idea of finding a new coach for 2014, but every time I think about it, I picture myself questioning any new training process that is not the process that I want to put myself through. We all know how important it is to believe in your training, and I know exactly the type of training I believe in! It worked brilliantly for the majority of the athletes I guided this past year, so going forward, I am going to be guiding myself. When I ask myself the question, Who would I trust to coach me this year? The answer now is ME! And how cool is that?!?

So, for the next few months, I am focusing on three things: 1) Getting strong in the gym; 2) Reclaiming my aerobic efficiency by strictly adhering to HR on bike/run; 3) Obtaining a body weight that allows me to run to my potential (ahem, not the weight I am at right now!! Yikes put down the chocolate rum balls, Michelle.). That is the foundation I believe I need in order to put together the key training sessions I will want to complete in the spring when I am getting ready to race.

And there you go! Boom! I feel good about 2014! AND there are some other new things that are developing that are renewing my excitement for triathlon... more on those soon. :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Letting It Go

OK so Christmas was super fun and all (at 5, Moana is pretty much at PEAK excitement over the Santa thing!) but there is a part of me that is glad it's over! I'm not like Ba-Humbug or anything... if I'm honest it's mostly just because all the food that has been in front of me in the past 3 weeks has been covered with butter and pecans (and maybe whipped cream) and I have about zero self-control around that stuff... especially when I am in a phase of 'training' that includes no actual 'training' and therefore requires no self-discipline! So it's a bit of a double whammy... eat delicious crap then don't train = feel like a slug + put 5 lbs right around your mid-section. So then you feel fat and sluggish so going for a run sounds like a terrible idea (um, who wants to feel like an elephant while running??) so might as well just eat more somethingorother withwhippedcreamplease. Why not?

So there you go. At least I know how I earned these extra pounds (my method was legit!), and yes I know it's fine, but there's a part of me that longs to feel energized like I used to feel after eating lots of fresh plants and putting in a strong training session! Eating crap makes me feel like crap and now I understand why so many Americans feel like crap all the time. It's not rocket science! It's diet.

Anyway, I think I can safely say that this is the longest self-imposed break I've ever taken from training. I've taken breaks before but they've mostly been forced upon me either by someone or something else... I've never just voluntarily let my fitness go like this just because I didn't feel like training. After Cozumel though my gut was telling me that I needed a long extended break. And as sad as it is to go from peak fitness to serious slug (seriously I mean how the hell does one's fitness decline so freakin' fast?!?) I do believe it was necessary for me this year both physically and mentally.

I did decide to go back to Crossfit a couple times/week. Mostly because it was something completely different than the long endurance training my body was used to and when I started to feel like I wanted to move again (but not swimbikerun) it seemed like a good option. So amazing too how I can go into that box and lift like 1/5 of what everyone else is lifting yet still be debilitated for 5 days afterward. So weak. Seriously- we were doing some sort of overhead jerk movement last week... I was doing it with 55lbs which seemed plenty heavy then I look over and next to me is a woman, 33 weeks pregnant, jerking 30lbs more than me. Like a boss! Um. Speechless. That is all.

On Christmas Eve I went and did one of their special crazy WODs... 12 days of Crossfit. It was 12 of their favorite moves done in rounds like 1; (2, 1); (3, 2, 1); (4, 3, 2, 1), etc up to 12 and by the 12th round I thought I was going to die.

I think it was the burpees that threw me over the edge, but I spent that whole 12th round trying to breathe while jumping and squatting and swinging and throwing that damn medicine ball around. I did manage the 2 strict pull-ups every round though and that made me proud!


Anyway, so that's a bit of what's going on here! But wait! There's more! I did get talked into getting back into the water this morning... my training partner Mark basically begged (ok not really) so I stuffed myself into my bathing suit and jogged 6 minutes down to the pool (HUGE perk of our new house location!)... so I did get back in and swim with him this morning and it was 2600M of ugly. Maybe I'll go back tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Home

Instead of blogging I should probably be cleaning up around here or unpacking more boxes or whatever, but it's livable here in our new house so I'm calling it good, even if there's still a lot of home projects to be started finished. I am guessing there will always be projects to do around here so I'm not going to drive myself crazy thinking they all need to be done right this second. If I'm honest, I'd admit that I used to be a lot more Type A about home organization, but I've been married to a man who is Type B for 5+ years now and part of the reason I'm not currently completely insane is that I've let some of my own Type A Crazy go.

In good news, we've got a decorated Christmas tree in our living room (next to the fireplace, which we have not used yet, but one of these nights we will!) and lights up outside. Elf has come to our house and sometimes he even flies around, which delights Moana. So we are like totally in the Christmas spirit here!

So even amidst the disorganization, I am loving our new house! It's up on the top of a hill on a quiet dead end street with ~10 other houses. I wake up every morning and look out the window and see this.
And then mid-day I look out the window and see this (Kaneohe Bay off in the distance). I swear I feel like the Queen of Kaneohe up here! Ha!

The weather this December has been better than any past December I can remember… Usually around this time I'm complaining about being cold and wet, but it has been nearly perfect every day. Too bad I'm not riding my bike this month!! Guaranteed the wind and rain will come in January when I will likely start pedaling again. ;) Anyway.

Couple other awesome things I am loving about our new house:

#1 Moana has made some friends across the street. 3 boys live there, ages 3-9, and every day she wants to go play with her friends. They are really nice boys and so far they've been awesome with Moana. Seeing them outside barefoot riding bikes up the street and playing croquet in the backyard and shooting water guns at each other makes me feel all warm and content. It's how it should be when you're a kid growing up, and she's been missing that until now. It's so good. Except for the kissing part. Yes. On day 2 of playing with her new friends I had to have a talk with my five year old about not kissing boys. Help me.

#2 There is FRUIT growing in our backyard! Well, just avocados and figs at the moment… but that avo tree is loaded. This is the view from our bedroom window (through the screen).
I've learned that it takes ~7 days for the avos to soften up after I pick them… and they easily last 4-5 days after they're soft enough to eat… so I've been picking like 5 at a time. And eating them with a spoon.
So far I don't really know what to do with the figs, but I'll figure it out! And one of the next projects will be planting these plants that my friend Mark sprouted for us! (Fwiw, sprouted plants as housewarming gifts are the bomb!) Soon we will also have beets, kale, papaya, lilikoi… well, IF I can figure out how to grow these things without killing them. I'm not known for my green thumb but I am motivated to try!





Monday, December 16, 2013

Adventure Swimming

Yesterday was the 32nd Possibly Annual Looooong Distance Waikiki RoughWater Swim on Oahu. It's pretty much the normal Roughwater course but instead of just one way, it's out/back, and ~7K.

After Cozumel I told Nalani I was OUT for the double this year… Just feeling so burnt out and tired and not interested in continuing to train or race or whatever. My Give-A-Shit meter was just broken. But then ~10 days passed and I just felt like I'd probably end the year with some regret if I didn't sign up for and do that swim. I haven't missed it in like 8 years. I figured that surely the huge amount of swim training I did this past year would get me through that race even if I didn't do much at all in the two weeks between Cozumel and the Double Rough…

I swam ~2500M on the Friday before and then came home and promptly fell sound asleep, feeling totally trashed. So sad how fast my swim fitness fades. But that's not what this post is about!

I have to say, part of the reason I like to support the Double Roughwater is that I know the race director won't cancel or modify the swim on us last minute because of rough conditions. His thing is "It's billed as the ROUGHwater…" So there's no whining if/when the water is super rough! In fairness, the only people who typically come out for this event are fairly accomplished and experienced ocean swimmers,  we each have to be individually 'approved' by the race director himself, and we each have our own kayak escort… so even though it's the most challenging ocean swim around, we are all capable swimmers so it is fine.

The best part is the pre-race meeting, where Jim, (race director) gets up and tells us all about the potential dangers we face & how unforgiving the ocean can be… Big fish, man-o-war, jellyfish, strong currents, etc. The last thing he says to us every year is "If you're unsure, don't swim." And then we all go line up at the oceans edge and wait for him to yell "Go".

In the picture above you can see how dark it looks off in the distance… that's where we swam (straight into the storm!) and it did indeed get pretty ugly. I haven't watched TV in about a month (didn't watch any while we were on our mainland trip and we don't have cable set up yet in our new house) and honestly I hadn't even thought to check the weather report. Apparently the National Weather service had posted a (rare!) thunderstorm warning for Sunday morning. Ignorance is bliss, no?

Whatever though, right? I was out there trying to swim and feeling like a rag doll being tossed around in a washing machine. But you know what? I wasn't the slightest bit upset about it. Instead I just felt relieved that Jim had enough confidence in us to allow us each to make our own individual decision on whether or not we wanted to put ourselves out there. And when I finished, Moana was on the beach cheering for me. It was super fun to scoop her up and carry her across the finish line. :)

After the race, Jim was quoted as saying, The event was typically enjoyable despite (or because of) the deteriorating weather that started 45 minutes after the start on Kaimana Beach at the foot of the Diamond Head volcano on Oahu. “The changing water conditions and currents added interest and challenge to the swim,” said race found and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honoree Jim Anderson. “But the escorts had a somewhat more difficult time with the weather, but they were unanimous that it was a fun event.

So that's what I love about this event… the athletes who participate genuinely like (and embrace!) extra challenging conditions. It's like Adventure Swimming at it's best! Instead of seeing a strong current as a reason to modify the swim, in an event like this it's seen as an element that adds interest. YES. Thank you. I find myself feeling more and more drawn to events like this one.

Plus, at the end, even though emergency sirens were going off in town (warning of impending flash flood conditions) we hung out and put away bottle after bottle of champagne… It was a great way to end the year.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ironman Cozumel, Afterthoughts...

I posted this the other day, for like an hour, and then took it down. I don't know. I wish I had a super cheery post for you where I just gush about how happy I am that all my hard work paid off and I had the race of my dreams… But that is not this. This is maybe more a lesson about how sometimes hard work can be too much.  And how sometimes it backfires on you and you just feel flat and blah throughout your race day. In good news, I feel like I have a pretty good grip on what the issue was so if my mojo ever comes back I might be able to right the ship. Its true that sometimes you learn the most when things don't go your way. And while I'm trying to find positive things to say, I'll tell you that it never once occurred to me to quit. :) So this is an honest look at how the day went for me anyway and even though it's a lot less fun to write, it's maybe more interesting than reading a race report that goes, "I just felt great and had a super day and am so happy!" Lol. So here you go. :)

Once again I find myself on a long flight home from a disappointing race… my initial thoughts were that I would not bother with a race report on this one b/c these types of race reports are just old and redundant… and I am not one to make up a bunch of excuses… but I know some of my athletes were genuinely curious as to what happened out there on Sunday and I do believe its true that we learn the most when a race doesn't go as anticipated… I'm not going to bore you with the details of a play by play of the day but I will jot down some of my thoughts because I feel like there's definitely something to learn here. Hindsight is 20/20 in this case.

My training in the 12 weeks leading up to the race was really solid. In the 2-3 weeks prior to the race I'd logged some training sessions that would fall under the category of 'Best Ever' and I was stoked, thinking, I'm almost 40 and I am in the best shape of my life! Honestly I thought this was super cool and it gave me more confidence than ever that I was finally going to have my day. I had added a piece of mental training that I have not done before and I can say that was the real saving grace for me. Hey! At least one thing went well! And that's a BIG thing. 

I'd like to say I don't have much to say about the swim- but of course I have a lot to say! My opinion (of course) is/was that it was just LAME of WTC to shorten the swim like that. Yes- the current was legit but it was swimmable for most. Yes- the DNF rate would have been higher and some of the weakest swimmers probably would not have been able to do it, but the vast majority would have been fine and had they let us swim as planned, at the end of the race we'd all be talking proudly about the *epic* swim we survived instead of trying to guess what our 'real' finish times would have been had we had a 'real' swim. Shoot, they could have at least let us go the full 2.4 miles- all they would have had to do is allow us to go 1/4 mile past the finish dock then turn around and do last 1/4 mile into the current to finish up- that solution still would have catered to the lowest common denominator b/c 2+ miles still would have had the strong downstream current and the 'hard' part would have been super short. BUT they continue to send the message to triathletes that there's no need to really prepare for the swim portion of a race because if it looks like there's even a slight possibility (at all) that the swim might pose an actual challenge, they will alter it at the last minute to make sure its as easy as possible. 

Sorry. That sounded bitter I know. I did say I'd be honest though, right?

Fwiw, in case you're wondering, I would have felt similarly had they (for whatever reason) shortened the run to 20 miles because it was windy with rain coming down in sheets. I knew/understood the distances when I signed up, as did everyone else, and I prepared as best I thought I could for the full distance for all 3 legs, and to do so in any conditions, as did everyone else. So I'm not just bitter about the swim because I'm a swimmer, though the consistency with which WTC alters the swim leg leaves me less and less interested in WTC races.

In good news, guess what?? I'm a 38' Ironman swimmer!! Ha! #Lame. In good news, I think I did a pretty good job of letting go of how shitty I felt that whole situation was and immediately moved on mentally. I finished the swim and then completely forgot about it in T1. 

I never felt good at all on the bike. Well, maybe for a bit on the second loop I felt like I had my legs but that was pretty short lived. The whole time it felt like it was just harder than it should have been. I got passed by more people (men and women) than it seemed like I should have (more than normal anyway and given how my training went this was somewhat confusing to me) but I simply was unable to respond. I tried to keep a positive attitude about it- talking nicely to my legs and thanking them for hanging in there even though they really weren't… I've never actually spoken to my muscles so kindly- usually when they're not performing like I think they should, I yell at them… to which they respond by rebelling and completely seizing up on me… effectively stopping me in my tracks. Mental/verbally abusing myself mid-race does not work and I finally understand that (yay me!). So this was a bit of a revelation and a lesson I will take with me going forward. What is that Natalie Merchant song that goes, I want to Thank You Thank you, thank you thank you, thank you thank you…. That was in my head for the entire 3rd lap when my legs were just DONE and I swear the only way I got through it was thanking my muscles for not giving out on me completely.

Side note: If my mojo ever comes back and I decide I want to take on another Ironman, this is my bike course for sure. That flat windy road right along the ocean is pretty much exactly what I train in all the time. Lucky me I know!

I was telling myself to save my energy for the run, but there was just no energy available to save for the run anyway. It was like that really deep well I built/dug while training all year was simply dried up. More on this later… 

I will say this about the bike- it was 100% possible to ride very legally even on this flat course. It also seemed quite obvious to me whether or not athletes were choosing to draft/cheat. Especially on the windy section. I saw a lot of athletes going out of their way to stay legal. (yay athletes riding fairly!) I also saw a lot of blatant wheel suckers in groups.  I saw only one woman cheating (the rest I saw were men)- I saw her not once but TWICE sitting inches from a guy's wheel while they both passed me and rode away… She was in an older age group and ended up with a Kona spot. Again- more on her later…  I only lost my cool once and yelled at one big group (declaring them all f'ing cheaters) so let's call this a success for me. :) In the past I have let this cheating get to me a lot more than I did on Sunday. This time around I pretty much just acknowledged it then let it go.

So onto the marathon… Going in to this race I really did believe I was ready to finally have the breakthrough marathon my training had indicated I could have. And even when I started running and my quads felt like absolute mince meat I still believed I could turn it around. I was telling myself all sorts of really positive things like You are the kind of runner who runs well when you're tired. You are the kind of runner who runs well off the bike. You are the kind of runner who runs faster as you go… etc. All that good stuff. The whole time. AND, I stuck to my plan of high-fiving every little kid I saw. I smiled. I cheered for and high-fived my athletes as we passed. I danced through aid stations where they were playing fun music… and even though I wasn't floating like a butterfly like Katy Perry sang, I put my hands up and belted out the chorus anyway when I heard that song blaring. It was like a 'Fake it til you make it' scenario, except I never really made it! I did not look at my watch b/c I could feel that I was not moving very quickly but I was doing everything in my power to avoid getting pissed at myself and I knew seeing splits or times would not help my cause so I simply just did not look. Even when the drafting/cheating older woman from the bike leg was running on my shoulder, off and on from mile 7 until I finally dropped her for good at mile 21, I avoided calling her out for the way she rode, instead opting to keep my energy as positive as I could. (This is a HUGE win for me OMG if you even knew how annoyed I would have typically been as she was asking me if we could work together so I could help her 'move along' because she was 'leading her age group'… Um, sorry cheating woman, you might need me but I don't need you...) I thought about that picture I posted on Facebook about Never Giving Up. And for once, I feel like mentally I did not cave. I guess my point with all this is that my issue out there on Sunday was not my head, like I think it has been in the past. On Sunday, the problem was my body, not my mind.

Really, this was the best mindset I've ever had during an Ironman Marathon. Yet it was my slowest one in probably 7-8 years. What gives!?? Like I said earlier, hindsight is 20/20 and my gut is saying there were several issues, the biggest one possibly being that my 'taper' was not a 'taper'… It was more of a steep drop off where I went from big/hard training for weeks on end to next to nothing during race week… and my body did not react well to that at all. In hindsight, it seems it went into complete shut down mode (and still has not come out!). Doing next to nothing in race week can be a good strategy but I think it depends on where you're coming from- if/when coming directly off a big/hard training block, it doesn't work. Also, as much as I freakin' HATE this excuse, I got my period on the Monday after the race and historically, training/racing long during that phase of my cycle has never been good for me. But since this is like the 5th Ironman I've done where I got my period the next day, I should be used to this by now. It's like my curse or something.

2013 will go down in my head as the year I had the best training of my life. It was also go down as the year I had my worst races (Cabo, Honu, Vegas, Cozumel). It took me a while to figure it out, but I'm pretty confident I know what the issue is now. And as much as I hate to admit it, I'm now physically and mentally fried. I do like to analyze these things and put the pieces of the puzzle together to try to figure it all out, and in this case I have to just be bluntly honest with myself. You know, after Vegas I cried. A lot. I was so confused and just really did not understand what went wrong. That was hard. This is not hard. This time I am not confused. This time I did not cry. And I know what I am going to do going forward. I will start by taking as much time as I feel I want/need completely off. I won't even have to force myself to rest this time around. My mojo is currently completely gone and my desire to swim bike or run is currently completely zero. I had to learn the lesson the hard way for sure, but I learned it! (Note: 8 days later body and mind are still in shut down mode… I still have no desire to swimbikerun at all!)

In good news, my athletes did awesome this past weekend! This was a huge saving grace for me and since I know the training/taper they did vs the training/taper I did, their race performances also really helped me understand my own. Once again, Nalani led the age group women out of the water (fwiw, she would have absolutely annihilated the whole field had that swim been legit and on the normal course)… then she went on to have her best ever bike and run splits, finishing up with a negative split on that marathon, smiling the whole time. Nick and Tiffany are two of the most awesome and positive people I've ever met- they were both first-timers out there and they both also had amazing days… Nick managed himself really well all day which resulted in a negative split during the marathon (with a smile!) and Tiffany balled tears of joy for the whole last mile. xoxo. And then Ramona managed a PR of almost an hour even though she stopped to change 3 flats on the bike! How's that for tenacity?! Those 4 athletes made me smile for sure, and their performances solidify what my gut is telling me… 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Compartmentalizing

This has been a long trip! And it's not over yet…

I am sitting on the floor in the LA airport, for the third time this trip, (on a very long layover) listening to Christmas music and waiting for my overnight flight to Miami, which will eventually connect to my flight to Cozumel tomorrow. I'm thinking if I just close my eyes and ignore it all, eventually I'll just be there. And since it's Thanksgiving and all, can I just say how thankful I am for TriBike Transport?!? I don't know how I would have done this if I had to lug a bike box around. Also, since I've been on the mainland for so long, I'm thankful for big warm hats that cover my ears.

I was thinking today about how I have split this trip into 4 parts in my head. 1st part, Arizona, which was awesome and fun… where I lost my voice but got all inspired watching so many athletes crushing that Ironman- and enjoying doing so. Then I had a few days to kill while waiting for part #2, so I spent my time either training or generally trying to relax.

2nd part, California with Scott's family. This only lasted ~3 days but was good to catch up with them all and I got to reunite with Scott and Moana. A week is a really long time to be away from your 5 year old. I think it's harder now than it was when she was younger. I don't go away without her that often but now that she is old enough to understand me being away, it's harder because she tells me how much she misses me and that tends to break my heart.

3rd part, Lake Tahoe where we got to see my brother and his family as well as my mom. It's been years since I've seen my brother and my nephews, Moana didn't remember much about her cousins at all, and my mom had never really had us all together in one house before, so this was really good family bonding time! (Read: my mom cried a couple times and took a ton of pictures) We did Thanksgiving a day early since I had this Cozumel trip… I might have been a bit overly concerned with my food intake given that I have an ironman in a couple of days… Would have been nice if I could have raced first and THEN gone to see them so I would have felt okay about letting loose a little more, but in the end I think it was fine. My biggest concerns this past week were 1) keeping a handle on my diet and 2) making sure I was getting enough sleep, and I think I did okay on both fronts so that was good! It was freezing up there but I finally figured out how much warmer one can stay if wearing a big warm hat that covers ones ears. (#thankful) Also, going in I was pretty sure my race week training sessions would suck due to lack of oxygen in the air at 6300ft but I was pleasantly surprised that I did not actually suffocate after all, even while flip turning! That said, having seen a bit of the IM Lake Tahoe bike course, I'm more convinced than ever that I should never (read: not ever) attempt to do that race. Ever.

Also, we went sledding! YES! That is me! IN SNOW. I was freezing, but will admit that sledding down that little hill was fun. :)
Moana liked throwing snowballs a lot better than being hit by them.
So now here we are… onto part 4! This week has not been your typical 'race week' and I have not had any typical 'race week' feelings. But like I said, I have compartmentalized each part of this trip so I have not been in 'Ironman' mode at all until now. And even now, I'd say I'm not quite there yet. Part of me thinks I should hurry up and start to get anxious, after all I am doing an ironman in what, 3 days? Or is it 2 now?? Depends on how you count I guess. Either way, it seems this is going to be more of a whirlwind type trip where I won't have much time to sit around and think… which might be good! Don't Think, Just Do. Right?

Part 5 will be when I go home and move into our new house! I bet a few years from now I will look back at these 3 weeks and shake my head and laugh. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

So all you crazies who live on the mainland and think 30 degrees is not cold or whatever, congrats to you… but shit if I'm not freezing to death here in California! I was out running this morning, officially it was 39* degrees but felt like 29* to me and I swear I just never warmed up at all. I had a decent run and all but on my way home I was thinking I didn't care if this pace was faster with less effort, it's so freakin' uncomfortable to be numb like that and I would not be a runner if I lived here. OK, not a morning runner anyway. Then I read on FB and Twitter about people running in 5-10* or whatever and I try to imagine but just simply can't so I have to stop thinking about it.

If I lived here my hot water bill would bankrupt me. I just want to take hot showers until I parboil myself.

Yesterday I got up early early and made my way over to the Stanford pool for masters at 6AM. Again it was 39* degrees and if my in-laws didn't already think I'm a complete nut job, they sure did after that. She's what?? She's swimming? At 6AM on a Saturday? It's 39*!?! But I wasn't the only one… there must have been 70+ swimmers there! I was shocked. Super cool it was set up long course so I appreciated that for sure, but 7-8 people/lane (x12 lanes) was def new for me considering I typically swim with just one or two other people. Got to swim with Hailey and Jess though and we had coffee afterward too so it was all good.

When Moana is not crying about the skin under her nose feeling all chapped, she is having a blast here with her cousins. Right now her cousin is teaching her how to play the piano and it's super cute! My in-laws also have a new Maltese puppy that keeps passing out from all the chasing. It's a win-win situation when a 5 year old meets a puppy.

Tomorrow we head up to Lake Tahoe to hang with my brother and his wife/family for the Thanksgiving week. My mom will be there too and she is beside herself as this is the first time she will get to be with all 3 of her grandchildren at the same time! So I'm mentally prepping to be even colder than I am now (I went to Target and bought a snuggie- true story- that thing is awesome I absolutely love it). I also find myself wondering how race week prep will go up there at 6500ft? I'll try to not let it affect me mentally anyway, but after freezing to death and not being able to breathe all week, I think I'll be pretty stoked to land in Cozumel when I finally get there!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Arizona

Some of you may not know this about me, but I used to live in AZ. Graduated from ASU in 1997 and then lived here off/on until I moved to Hawaii in 2004. Arizona is where I lived when I got my first bike and started into this sport of triathlon! Being back here has been nostalgic and surreal in many ways, as I find myself out riding roads and having memories of all the group rides I used to do out here… As a college student then as a young adult you know you move like all the time so I lived all over this valley and consequently have ridden many of the roads here and it's all just really fun to be back and pedaling! I cut my teeth riding on these roads so being back now with the experience I currently have is pretty cool.

My athletes here have been so awesome and welcoming too. HUGE thanks has to go out to Monica, who doesn't even live here, but who drove out from CA with her bike and left it here for me to ride for the week. It's a 51cm Cervelo P3 which is exactly what I ride at home. All I did was jack the saddle up some and called it good to go. Monica you are a gem and I will pay you back soon with a thorough ass whooping! Ask my other athletes, that's how I show love. xoxo

Things have finally calmed down a bit after the crazy jam packed race weekend! (More on that in a bit) I'm staying at Krista and Shane's house this week as they are happily recovering at a beach in Mexico. What's been fun is that I've got a bunch of old friends and athletes here to train with and it's been super fun catching up. Funny though, I have to say I appreciate some alone time for a few days right now. While I love being all social, when I'm surrounded by people all the time I realize how much I also enjoy my alone time. As I get older I'm becoming more and more of a hermit.

Can I just say how awesome the food choices are here in AZ?! I am super impressed with the availability of really awesome fresh whole foods everywhere. I've had some of the best salads ever in the last few days. It feels like a really healthy environment/atmosphere. It's no secret I would have moved here in a heartbeat… but that won't be happening anytime soon as we closed on our new house on Oahu and Scott/Moana moved in over the weekend without me! Scott says there are plenty of boxes waiting for me in the garage so I'll have lots to keep my busy when I return home in a few weeks. :) We had a little scare when my favorite cat ran away during the move process… he is afraid of pretty much everything/everyone but me so I suspected the move would cause some anxiety in him but it never occurred to me he'd completely disappear! In good news, Scott found him in the middle of the night and was able to get him over to the new house… I can't even imagine how I would have felt had he not come back. :(

I can see this post turning quite random and simply highlighting some of my experiences here the last 5 days… Sorry but I'm living out of a suitcase for 2+ weeks and feeling a bit scattered and all over the place!

~Race was fast on Sunday! They had great conditions and I think the fast times really motivated athletes during the race to keep pushing because they knew they were crushing their goals. Lots of smiles and happy faces on course and it was fun to watch! TeamBSC had some super performances that made me so proud… Lynsey led the age group women out of the water and I was beside myself cheering her on as I watched her ride off. I wasn't surprised she was first- I told her to mentally prep for this b/c I knew it could happen- but you never know what other fishes show up on race day…
Lynsey went on to PR by 25', cracking 11 hours for the first time finishing in 10:50! Shane also had a super day, with a PR of over an hour… in 10:25! How do you think we felt about that??
Krista also had an amazing day, with a 32' PR finishing in 10:31 and ON the podium! Her face at the finish line was so awesome (check her FB page for that shot). The thing that was most apparent to me about Krista's race was the JOY she was feeling… every time we saw her she had a HUGE smile on her face. She believed it was going to be her day and she delivered and loved it the whole time. Good lessons there!
Tracy had a similar day! All smiles every time we saw her. And what's not to smile about when you're on your way to an hour+ PR?!
Ryan had a more challenging day. He got sick before the race. Lesson there… racing with a virus sucks. :( That said, he persevered and got himself to the finish line which is always awesome!

I have to say, having watched 2 Ironmans in the last 4 weeks, I am super excited that it's finally almost my turn! Physically, my build up training has gone pretty much perfectly. But that's not new. My training almost always goes well! I do the work. All of it. Every day. And I love it. The trick for me is to figure out how to translate that into the race performance I want. I am pretty sure this time around that it's all in my head, so I've been putting a big focus into rewriting the script in my brain. In a couple weeks when I get back from Mexico I'll let you know how that worked out. :)





Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cats In Boxes

OK so not sure what happened there, but my old domain name just went away and I don't understand the workings of the inter-webs well enough to figure out how to get it back... but I did figure out how to get this to post via blogspot so there you go! I suppose I've prob lost a lot of readers by switching the domain but that's fine. Maybe for the best! :)

So the big news at the moment is that all that paperwork for the bank is about to pay off in the form of a new house for us! Sign here, sign there. Sign this, sign that... and Ta-dah! We move on Friday! (I fly out on Thursday night but never mind that for now.) I've been spending some of my free hours packing boxes and at the moment our house is a disaster zone with boxes and crap everywhere, but at some point, probably mid-December, we'll be all unpacked and settled into a sweet house. With a yard! And storage! For now, the cats just think this condo has become the ultimate playground and it feels like my life is a disaster area.
So as I'm packing I'm trying to figure out what I need for my week in Scottsdale (a cowbell and lots of training gear), what I need for Lake Tahoe (lots of cold weather clothes), and what I'll need for Cozumel (lots of race gear!). All that crap goes in the suitcase (how it will all fit I have no idea) and the rest of it gets packed into boxes that I will unpack as part of my Ironman Recovery Plan.

3 weeks til Ironman #14! How did that happen? Turns out, if you just put your head down and train, all of a sudden it's time to race! It's winter now here in Hawaii... and while winter for us doesn't mean snow, it does mean rain. I was thinking today and trying to remember the last ride I did where I did not get rained on? It's been a few weeks anyway... Today was about as wet as I've ridden in all year, and my bike finally just revolted. Admittedly I have not been taking good care of it... and now I have a bike that won't shift gears. Today I had 3 options for gears. 53x14, 15, or 16. Good thing my route was pretty flat! I called in an SOS to my friend who is a BMWMHC (bike mechanic who makes house calls) and he's on his way to help resolve the situation for me. Phew.

Tomorrow I will go tackle the track set that has been my nemesis all year. I have yet to (ever) nail this one (21x800's) but I think maybe tomorrow will be my day. #IThinkICanIThinkICanIThinkICan It took me like 8 tries before I could finally say I owned that 60x50's set in the pool, so given that this is only my third attempt at these 800's, I won't be too hard on myself if they don't go perfectly. At least I expect  that I'll be able to do them better than I have in the past. Progress is the goal... Honestly I think it's more of a mental hurdle than anything else... just like the 60x50's... Once I got over my dislike fear of the set and just shut my brain off, I was absolutely physically capable. So that's what tomorrow is about. Brain Training! And ok, maybe some leg training too. :)

Moana just said, "I know that if you don't win, you just have to keep trying because maybe you'll win next time!" Smart little girl, that one. I'll follow her advice!

In the meantime, if I can get the cats out of the boxes, I'll keep packing...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Moving, Man-o-War & PMS...

I think blogging is easier when you do it often... when too much time passes between blogs it's like so much has happened I don't even know where to start??

It's November! I find myself having all these thoughts about how This is the last time I'll do this or that from our current home... 10 days left of owning this condo that I've lived in for nearly 9 years and while it's exciting to move, there's more than a bit of nostalgia attached to this place for me. I mean, I know the distances and mile markers of every run in every direction of this place... Our new house is only ~2 miles away, so the reality is that I'll still only be a mile from the pool, and I'll still run and bike the same roads... but the mile markers will be different. And the last mile of every run will be even more uphill than it currently is.

Anyway, our appointment to sign all the papers at the escrow office is this afternoon and I'm just going to try to close my eyes when they get to the part about how much we're actually going to be paying over the course of the 30 year loan la la la I can't hear you!! Just send us the new mortgage bill every month and give us the keys and we'll figure it out from there...

I should be packing right now. We are master procrastinators though so we have not packed a thing. But hey, at least I'm not buying any new food. We are trying to eat our way to the back of the cabinets... which means lots of rice and canned beans for dinner. Mmmmmm. Yum. Or not.

Yesterday Nalani and I swam out to the Mokes. It was a postcard beautiful day (because in postcards you can't feel how strong the wind is blowing)... Really nice warm water though and while it was crazy choppy, the pretty blue color of everything (almost) overruled my feelings of being a rag doll. The monk seal is still there hanging out on the sand, rolling over once in a while.
(picture stolen from a FB friend who posted it weeks ago)
Half way home on the swim Nalani stopped b/c she'd been stung by man-o-war... Argh! Not too bad she said just keep swimming to get away from it... so I kept swimming and was thinking with a smile that it's really been a long time since I've been stung by a man-o-war... Prob shouldn't have been so smug about that because next thing I know I'm all caught and tangled in the biggest man-o-war ever and it feels like electric shock all over my face, neck, arms, back, shoulders... my whole upper body was just tangled in this massive man-o-war tentacle and I couldn't even get it off me. Nalani saw it clinging to my back.

I pretty much just swore out loud and thrashed around a bunch trying to get it off me and finally I was able to swim free but the electric shock feeling lasted for at least another 30' or so, or until the Benedryl kicked in. We made a b-line to Safeway as soon as we were done swimming b/c the welts had already shown up and I really wanted to reduce my reaction as much as possible. We decided that we should keep Benadryl on hand for all ocean swims just in case... this kind of thing happens rarely (well, minor stings are common- a really bad one is rare) but Benadryl helps a lot when it does.

In related news, Benadryl completely knocks me out. I slept from 4-6PM yesterday then again from 7PM until almost 6 this morning. You can see the welts across my cheek, the bridge of my nose, and above my eyebrow... as well as on my arm, torso, chest, and back. They don't hurt anymore but they do itch. I would guess they'll go away in another day or two. So not really a huge deal but annoying for sure! Just a risk we take I guess for swimming in the ocean around here...

In other swimming news, we entered a swim meet!! How funny is that?! I saw an email come through the other day about a masters meet and my first thought was that this is like the opposite of what I am good at but then I thought that's *exactly* why I should do it! It's next Monday (Veteran's day) so why not?? Nalani and Mark and Steve (my normal swim partners) are going to do it too and we think we might make a decent medley relay (one that might not get disqualified anyway). In reality, the relay would would really kick ass at would be the 4x1K but they don't offer that as an option. We thought we might start a petition... B/c wouldn't a 4x1K relay be like super exciting?? Honestly, if any of us manage to dive off a block without our goggles filling with water, we'll call it a win. At the end of our swim this morning we asked the guard if we could practice a couple times off the blocks and he said no. So I guess we'll try to re-learn that skill at the meet next week. :)

What else? My hip doesn't hurt. Hasn't hurt at all since I figured out how my brain could fix it last week. So back to running as normal. Phew!

And a little update on my no wheat thing... I know people like to poo-poo this idea of eliminating wheat like it wouldn't really make a difference or its not sustainable or whatever, but I will tell you, the choice for me is now a no-brainer. Mostly b/c a benefit I have had for the last 2 months is complete elimination of my PMS symptoms. I don't talk about it all that much here on my blog (though I've mentioned it before)... but the 2-4 days prior to my period every month I tend to cry about stupid little things, my workouts go bad, I'm all negative in my thinking, etc. It has affected my training and racing every 4 weeks like clockwork for years and I've thought there wasn't a lot I could do about it other than simply accepting it for what it is and knowing it will pass.... BUT, 2 months in a row I have not felt the need to cry, my workouts have been solid/stable, and I haven't been pissy at all! Honestly last month I was surprised when I got my period because I had been having great training sessions and wasn't a bitch so just figured it was late or whatever (b/c hello I am *always* a whiny bitch for at least 2-3 days... that's how I know I'm about to start) but then it came and I swear it was the first time ever since I'd started paying attention that I could remember not having all those symptoms... so I guessed it was likely the diet change that was the positive thing there but figured I'd try one more month to see if indeed it was something that stuck? So here we are month 2 and again, no PMS symptoms at all! That my friends, is motivation enough for me to pass on the bread and pasta. Goodbye, emotional roller coaster! :) What a relief. So laugh at people who eliminate wheat if you want, but this little experiment of one is enough evidence for me to stick with my choice...



Thursday, October 24, 2013

So I Figured Out Those Damn Muscle Spasms...

I've had like the biggest epiphany A-HA moment this week. Or moment(s) maybe I should say... Craziest story...

So last week I posted that I hoped I wasn't jinxing myself but that my running had been going well no injuries no whammies, etc. And then wouldn't you know it, two days later I woke up and out of the blue my hip feels all tight. Um, what!?? I did not understand. And over the course of the next ~48 hours it just got worse and worse to the point where I could not walk without limping, nor could I lift my leg. Like, at all. It even hurt to lay in bed as I was trying to sleep.

My range of motion in that left hip joint was severely restricted. It felt to me as though every muscle surrounding that hip joint was in such a state of spasm that the bone wasn't even seated correctly in the joint socket. I went about all my typical mobility drills and exercises and rolled it all out as best I could but felt like I wasn't even making a dent.

In a near panic I called SOS to my ART/chiro doc but of course he had no openings until next week. Acupuncture to the rescue! Magic Man did what he could, found and released a couple of the most obvious spasms but I limped out of his office still without full range of motion and felt incredibly bummed. :(

What had I done to deserve this? Blogged that I hadn't had an injury in 6 months?? WTF? I went back to my training log to see if I could make sense of it and find out where I'd gone wrong, but seriously, I could find NOTHING in there that even hinted at this coming. Last week was one of the lightest weeks I've had this whole year and no run was out of the ordinary in any way. AND the worst of it was that I felt like I'd finally earned coach's trust b/c just this week was the first time in forever that I was scheduled to go back to the track... He has not sent me to the track since I limped off in tears last April... with a hip so tight my foot went numb...

Then yesterday I was almost laughing at myself at the absurdity of it all... like Ha ha all I had to do was LOOK at that track workout in my Training Peaks calendar and boom I'm injured. (Sorry but Shane if you're reading this I could totally hear that statement coming from you! ;) And that got me thinking... seriously... is this like some sort of psycho-somatic thing? Is it possible that I saw that meaty track workout on my schedule and subconsciously freaked out and actually reversed into the physical injury state that I was in last time I was prescribed that track workout?? That's kinda creepy, no?

I've recently been working a lot on the mental side of things though and realizing more and more the amazing power of our brains and I thought shoot, what do I have to lose? If my brain brought this on, maybe my brain can fix it too?? So I got quiet and visualized all those muscles around my hip relaxing, and I envisioned that bone seated comfortably all the way in the back of that socket and moving freely in all direction... I visualized myself running at the track and feeling great and being healthy/strong and nailing that meaty session. (Fwiw, in case you're curious, I bailed on running this week since I couldn't walk properly... which is not how I reacted last time this happened... in April I just pushed right through the pain and ended up disabled for weeks. So that lesson I learned in earnest!)

Last night I continued my stretching/mobility/rolling stuff too but the difference was that now it felt like it was working. And this morning I woke up and lifted my leg with no pain, rotated it a little and heard/felt a huge POP and ta-dah, all the pressure was relieved and my range of motion was restored and I will not lie, I'm kind of freaking out at the astounding power of my brain to both disable and/or enable me.

I know this sounds super wacky and you can poo-poo it if you want and think that maybe I just needed a few days away from running but I'm telling you- my brain brought on those muscle spasms that restricted my joint range of motion- AND, my brain released them. I am sure of it. I also wonder now if my brain brings on the cramps I get during Ironman marathons? My gut is telling me it does. So it's not like I'm imagining the cramps- they are VERY real- but just that the negative state of mind I'm in when they happen is likely what triggers them. Maybe that's why nobody can figure out a real 'cause' for cramping? Theories of electrolyte imbalance and/or dehydration have all been debunked... and certain people cramp while others never do... My theory now is that I cramp when I get negative in my head. I can say for sure in Vegas that I was in a super PISSY mental state when my muscles seized up... like maybe that negative energy is what causes the spasm?? If I think about it, it's pretty rare that I cramp when I'm smiling and happy.

SO... my visualizations going forward are centered around my emotional state more than anything else... and my race plan for Cozumel will involve high-fiving lots of little kids. Because who can high-five a little kid without smiling and being happy? It's my new Ironman Cramp Avoidance Plan (ICAP). I'll let you know if it works! :)


Friday, October 18, 2013

I Hope I'm Not Jinxing Myself

Let's see how about a random post? Seems like I've thought of a bunch of things to blog about lately but none worthy of an entire blog in and of itself...

~Biggest news first! Maybe I shouldn't even write this down yet for fear of jinxing the situation but I'll take my chances... It *appears* that this condo is on its way to being sold and it *appears* that we have found a kick ass house to move into soon. And by soon, I mean that "we" will very possibly be moving the weekend I will be in Tempe cheering on my athletes who are racing Ironman Arizona. Whoops! Not sure how I lucked into that timing but my plane ticket is bought... Sorry Scott wish I could help you move but I won't be here... Anyway, some more paperwork has to go through (read: I have to keep signing documents I'm not even reading) and the bank has to officially say yes but assuming everyone at that escrow office does his/her job, then I'm going to come back from Cozumel and spend the month of December unpacking boxes and settling into our new home. A house with a yard! With an avocado tree! And a fig tree! Pinch me! It's a really nice house and after all those shitty tear down scenarios we almost got ourselves into, I'll be counting my lucky stars if this actually all works out. I'll also be selling avocados to help pay the mortgage.

~Back from Kona earlier this week and YIKES I was trashed. First time in a long time I can even remember bailing on a swim session mid-workout! That 10K on Sunday took a LOT out of me and I went to swim 2 days later (on Tuesday) and was like OMG I spent *all* my swim mojo on that 10K and have nothing left! I swam ~1K and decided I was wasting my time and really just did not need to be swimming that day (it was UGLY) so I got out, bailed on my planned bike ride, and came home and took a nap. It's not often at all that I bail on training but it's also not often I feel that trashed so I didn't feel the least bit bad about my decision. And you know what? I woke up the next morning and went to swim and had one of the BEST workouts ever. So really I just needed one more day to do pretty much nothing then it was like I had some sort of breakthrough. Super cool. While Nalani and I were swimming on Wednesday I was thinking that I felt absolutely bulletproof and was swimming really well and just not even feeling tired. Kinda freaky, really.

~I'm having a little breakthrough with my running right now as well. Finally!! I have not transformed into speedy runner overnight or anything but I have been running injury free and very consistently for months now and it's finally coming together. I think a very large part of that is in my head... meaning that as soon as I started truly believing that I don't actually suck at running, I started running like I don't actually suck at running. Funny how that works. So I will continue to explore this new finding of mine where I'm trying to rewrite the script in my head and see if I can make it play out on a race course in Mexico in a few weeks. Will keep you posted!

~For the most part I'm still on my no-wheat kick. As long as I eat mostly at home it's not that hard to do... in Kona it was more challenging and I did eat a wrap on race day when I was out/about town and was starving to death with no other options. And it wasn't the end of the world for me but I did wake up Sunday morning with swollen eyelids which I've come to find is 100% a wheat reaction. No wheat = no swollen eyelids. Eat wheat = swollen eyelids. Weird, right? I don't have any other really black/white symptoms like that but I can say that I just feel GOOD overall right now and my recovery day to day has been awesome so I have no desire to go back to eating wheat and other processed foods. I do find myself replacing wheat with more nutrient dense plant based foods so that's likely part of the reason I feel better. I do find I'm sleeping better too so that, of course, is a huge bonus.

~Speaking of my no-wheat-but-more-nutrient-dense nutrition plan, I made "pizza" from scratch tonight! Let's be honest it wasn't really pizza as it has a cauliflower crust, and it was harder than this recipe made it look (mostly b/c my BlendTec doesn't chop up the cauliflower very efficiently), but it was tasty! We ate it with a fork and really it was all plants and cheese. I added chopped garlic and basil and rosemary to the crust 'dough' before I baked it and then topped it with cheese, spinach, red onion, yellow pepper, and feta. Super tasty!

~Tomorrow is going to be a fun day! Kelly is here on Oahu so we are going to do an ocean swim with her then I'll get to hear her full Kona story in person over a beer at Dukes. Can't wait! Then we are taking Moana camping tomorrow night at a super cool botanical garden nearby where there is a free Blue Grass Festival... I bought marshmallows to roast on the bonfire and Moana is having a hard time waiting until tomorrow to eat those. :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kona Week 2013... Spectator Report!

We are home after a full week in Kona and the washing machine is working overtime. I took just about all of my sports bras and running shorts over there and put them to good use!

Helicopter buzzing the ocean race morning... Nice glassy water!

So the race was super fun to watch. I'll be honest though- last year I was not the slightest bit jealous of the athletes racing. Partly b/c I knew I was not fit enough to pull off a decent Ironman but mostly b/c the windy conditions last year were just going to make it a brutal day on the bike and I'd trained in that enough to know that racing in it just simply wouldn't really be very fun! This year, however, was a completely different story. First off, I think I am currently fit enough to pull off a decent Ironman and race day conditions were the best I've ever seen there in 9 years... I knew it was a PR type day and I was just salivating wishing I could be out there myself. After a couple beers though I was capable of putting my jealousy aside and cheering like a maniac. :)

Xena and Leanda running together at mile 2...

I've been a more serious fan of the sport in the last few years and have followed more closely the careers of many of the top pros. It's easier to do now with social media and blogs, etc... Possible to feel like you can get to "know" the pros a little better now which helps me pick my favorites. I do think pros do themselves a disservice by not (honestly) putting themselves out there. It's kind of part of the job description I think these days if they want to have fan support and also be supporting their sponsors, etc.

I paid a lot of attention to pre-race interviews and then consequently how athletes performed on the day. Couple things I found interesting... Those who came across as being the most cocky and sure of themselves pre-race actually had the worst days. Those who came across as a bit more reserved with a "we'll see" attitude seemed to, for the most part, do better. Several of the seemingly most confident athletes were actually hiding injuries. And the ones who appeared the most wafer thin ended up with DNFs. There's definitely a balance when it comes to race weight- the top pros were certainly not carrying any extra weight but they also didn't look gaunt and skinny like a few of the pros who actually DNF'd. Last year I remember thinking that Rinny looked skinny as a rail. This year, while it's not like she was carrying even an extra 1/2lb, she didn't- like last year- make me turn my head and think YIKES has she not eaten in a month?? And look how much stronger she was! It's just confirmation to me that thinner is not always better. There is a point where it is significantly worse to be too thin. Anyway. GREAT race for many of those athletes! I remember watching Rinny run at mile 2 and thinking She is running faster than the men! And sure enough, only 2 men outran her. Simply amazing.

Enough about that. :)

With Cozumel 7 weeks away (or is it 6? I've lost count), the week was an ideal time for a little personal training camp and the location couldn't have really been better. I always get super motivated to train in Kona, and when I'm seeing super fit athletes everywhere it just compounds the positive energy I already feel. I knew I would feel good over there so I requested a meaty week from coach and he gave me one! It was one of the most solid weeks I've ever pulled off and honestly, I surprised myself with just about every session going better than I anticipated. Some solid work got done and I couldn't be happier! I also taught myself some important lessons this past week... The #1 lesson was about how our brains dictate how we physically feel at any given moment. Since I had decided before I even got on the plane that I was going to feel awesome all week, it's no surprise that I felt awesome all week. :)

The #2 lesson I learned over the weekend is that fear is a huge motivator to swim faster than you normally can.

So the highlight of my year week was the swim I did yesterday morning with Hillary Biscay. She is training for UltraMan (Thanksgiving weekend) and wanted to get in the whole swim, which is ~10K (slightly more) and without really thinking it through, I begged to tag along. In all honesty I didn't give it a ton of thought until I was in the car driving over to meet her at the pier... All of a sudden I kind of had a holy shite what am I getting myself into moment. But that passed. I had a couple of gels and my cap/goggles/sunscreen and that was all I really needed. A gal was supposed to meet us there as kayak support but she was a no show... I mentioned to Hillary that I wasn't entirely sure I knew exactly where Keauhou Bay was (our finish) b/c I'd never finished a swim there... I'd been there several times but just wasn't sure I'd recognize which bay it was. She laughed and said she didn't really know either but we'd figure it out. Ok then! I tucked my gels into my suit and off we went. The first ~20' was a fairly relaxed pace- I felt good swimming and could feel that we were moving right along but it didn't feel hard. Then she started to pick it up so I got on her feet and just forced myself to stay there. I felt like I was racing an ironman... at times maybe even 1/2IM race effort. I can't track time at all in my head while I'm swimming in the ocean but after what seemed like forever- in reality after 75'- we finally stopped for a gel. I had a chance to look at the coast line to figure out where we were and guessed we were already more than 1/2 way there b/c I saw we were already past the TYR house, which I'd run by enough times through the week to know it was ~Mile 3 on Ali'i Dr. Wow- I calculated that we were on 2:30 pace. Yikes. And it's not like Hillary is known for slowing down... we were stopped for I'd guess less than a minute then right back on it...

I had so many thoughts of just wanting to slow down and stop working so hard but if I did that I would have been all by myself out there in the ocean and that was less appealing than simply continuing to WORK so I kept on the gas the whole damn time every stroke. Once or twice I lost concentration and would be slightly off the back and then I'd have to SPRINT to get back on so I really tried to not let even the slightest gap form... Had to balance that of course with avoiding touching her feet... I accidentally touched them a couple times but doing that was like pressing the accelerator button b/c she would speed up and I was like NOOOOOOOO as I was sprinting to stay on and avoid certain death. Anyway, we stopped briefly again for a gel at 2 hours and looking at the coastline I guessed we were at about the 5 mile mark so only ~1.2 to go... still on 2:30 pace. Head down back on it- next time we stopped was almost 30' later when we saw a kayaker and asked where Keauhou Bay was... oh back there, he pointed... HA! We were on our way right past it so we turned around and headed back into the bay with the docked boats. And honestly, as soon as I could see those boats and knew I wasn't going to die alone in the wide open ocean, I completely shut it down and cruised in easy easy... backstroke and breaststroke trying to shake off the effort of that 10K. Funny how once my fear was gone I couldn't force the pace anymore. Afterward I sent Nalani a text and told her I'd be a faster swimmer if I was more afraid that she'd just leave me out in the open ocean if I didn't hold pace. Lol.

Anyway, back home now and I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been hit by a bus! The fatigue has set in. Time to chill out and recover for a bit...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pro-Stalking in Kona

Aloha from Kona!

So I'm sitting out here by the pool while Moana floats around… she is very much enjoying her Kona vacation… As am I! We got off to a rather rough start and in the first ~15 hours we were we were operating under the premise If it could go wrong, it probably will… But even at 9PM when Moana was sitting on the sidewalk eating store bought mac-n-cheese with her fingers outside in the rain while I fumbled fruitlessly with the lock box on the condo we couldn't get into, we managed to keep our chins up and believe that eventually we would figure it out and get settled, and eventually we did! 

I've been on a bit of a training rampage this week and I have to say, there's really no place better than Kona during Ironman week to be an athlete in training! Screw that taper stuff… There's an ocean here where the water is clear and temps are perfect and buoys are all set up marking a full 2.4 mile ironman course. So swimming really could not get any better. And so far I've run ~24 miles, mostly along Ali'i Dr so I've got this nice view of the ocean and all the triathlon related nutrition companies have a table/tent set up somewhere along the way where you can stop and fill your bottle with whatever they are serving (and it's all ICE COLD so nice). Cytomax, Clif, GU, Skratch, Powerbar, you name it… They're all out there! And they're not the only ones… Tons of athletes, some racing but many just training, are out at all times of day walking and running and riding so there's pretty much no way to be out there without spotting *someone* you know. So that is cool!

I'm also trying to keep track of the past World Champions I have spotted in the last 2-3 days… Chrissie Wellington, Paula NF, Michiele (sp?) Jones, Mirinda Carfrae, & Pete Jacobs so far. Will keep looking because playing "Who Can Spot a World Champion" is a fun game to play here this week. :)

Yesterday I let down some of my inhibitions and totally allowed myself to be the dorky triathlete who walks right up to pros she recognizes and introduce herself (vs just silently gawking!) The Parade of Nations was going on along Ali'i Dr and there were tons of big name people there… I saw Jesse Thomas and without even thinking just JUMPED up from my seat on the curb and was like JESSE!! I AM A CRAZY ASS FAN! Yep. It was that bad! But when else do we little peons get to do stuff like that?? It went well with Jesse- he was genuinely nice (of course) so that gave me courage… So then when I saw that Tim O'Donnell tweeted that if we saw him walking we could introduce ourselves and he would give us a sweet Castelli Stealth cycling top so of course I was looking for him (and I found him!) Supposedly that top would (theoretically) save ~6' over 112 flat windy miles (um Hello IMCoz) so when I scored one of those the positive reinforcement I felt for approaching pros went through the roof! Next up was Mary Beth Ellis… Then tonight at this little Thai place we went for dinner, Julie Dibens walked in and I couldn't help myself b/c I'm a HUGE fan of hers and I think one day she is going to WIN this race and that's what I told her tonight. Yep. Full on pro stalking dork right here ladies and gentlemen! But it made Julie smile when I told her that so it's all good.

I'll be done with the pro stalking since it's now like 2 days before the race and time for everyone to get serious. Besides, I'm going to be on my bike for most of the next 2 days anyway and I'm guessing most of the athletes who are racing are not going to be out there drillin' it on the Queen K or anything… too late for that for them… but not for me! It's funny b/c I wasn't going to come for the whole week this year… I didn't think I'd want to be here since I wasn't racing. But the universe sort of conspired to allow it to happen and now that I am here I'm thinking I was crazy to think about missing this bc it really is such a cool experience, whether you're racing or not.

So what else?? Everyone staying at this condo complex seems to be from Europe (or so I'm guessing based on the languages I'm hearing). It's easy to forget what a truly international race this is until you hear people talking and realize you have no idea what they're saying… Lots of triathletes train in what look like race kits which I've found interesting. I tend to run in run gear and bike in bike gear but here I feel like I am in the minority with that.

Jen Harrison popped over this afternoon and we spent HOURS gabbing about anything and everything so that was super fun! I felt like I knew her already but really we just met for the first time today! She is exactly how I pictured she would be, but they always are when you can tell the blogs and social media posts are honest. :) 

Scott arrives tonight... Then Kelly and Patrick (my 2 athletes here racing) are coming over tomorrow night for dinner so that will be awesome to see them again! (And I can make sure they are eating well... it's all about the fueling you know!)

OK so that's the scoop for now! More later since I found an internet connection I can hack into if I sit in just the right spot on the couch...