Friday, March 29, 2013

More On Ironman Recovery (or, Recover More!)

I like to think of myself as a fairly durable athlete... Over the years I've taught myself to be consistent in training and have managed to back up 20+ hour training weeks week after week (after week after week after week this year!) without much trouble. I think I thrive on volume and have surprised myself at how even when I think I'm tired I can still manage to rip off a decent training session if I try.

That said, Ironman kicks my ass.

Earlier in the week I actually felt pretty good and sent a note to coach saying that my head was in a good place and my swim times were right on best ever, which indicated to me that maybe the race didn't take as much out of me as an Ironman normally might. Which he interpreted to mean resume training as normal... which I thought I wanted to do... until tried to do it! 5 days later I'm raising the white flag! Yikes.Not.Recovered.Can't.Train.Normally.Yet. (Actually, what I wrote to one of my athletes describing how I felt it included a lot more F!*#^!!&% language I probably shouldn't use on a family blog... Hi Mom!)

I'm always amazed by athletes who can back up Ironmans, racing several in a row only a few weeks apart... or athletes who try to race a 70.3 two weeks post ironman. I've seen some who are able to pull that off brilliantly (Meredith Kessler comes to mind, though even she struggled at Melbourne last weekend) so it's clearly not impossible but I think most athletes really struggle with this, and for most, the reality of the fatigue comes back to bite you in the ass when you try to drill it again before you're really ready.

I was out riding this morning- just following my plan- which said to move it along in the back half if I felt good. Cliff notes version: I did not feel good. Not from the first pedal stroke and it never came around. My power meter just confirms what I feel but I was missing a good 20W off normal (30W off a strong day) and there was nothing in my head that thought it was a good idea to just try harder. Trying harder in this case = digging into a deeper hole. It did not help that the wind was stiff- and blowing into my face both ways?? Just when I was contemplating calling for a ride home (WHAT?? WHO AM I???) it started dumping rain... lovely. I interpreted that as the universe trying to tell me to stop being a dumbass. I did manage to pedal my way home under my own power but I bailed on the planned brick run without even blinking, and after a shower to wash off all the mud, I fell asleep on the couch.


Monday, March 25, 2013

On Recovering From Ironman...

Some post-IM recovery thoughts have been going through my head this week... thought they might be worth typing out! Obviously how you recover from an ironman depends on a bunch of variables... so since I'm writing from my own experience I'll say this is how it's gone for me given this was an early season Ironman for which my fitness level was high but I did not end up burying myself with super deep effort. Parts of this could be quite different for an end of season Ironman where you absolutely ripped yourself apart...

~ The evening after the race should involve alcohol of some sort. Usually we do Guiness floats (vanilla ice cream in our Guiness) but we could not find Guiness in Los Cabos so we went with tequila instead. Ironman athletes are not known for doing anything short of excessive so I'll just note here that 4 of us downed the entire bottle in significantly less time than it took to do the race. Team BSC rocks in more ways than one.
~After you're done drinking for the night, write a long email to your coach detailing the events of the day. If you do it when you're stumbling drunk, you're sure to write exactly what you were thinking without sugar coating it at all. Coaches love honesty.

~For the next 2-3 days, don't exercise at all. Eat a bunch of fried crap food that you would not normally otherwise touch. Spend time pretending you're not an athlete. Lay around and do nothing, go sightseeing if your race was in a cool place, and by all means, keep drinking.

~After you get home, it's normal to feel rather stressed as you try to get caught up on work/life that you missed while you were off torturing your body with excessive exercise then excessive alcohol. So, get up early, like 3AM, to make sure you have some quiet time to focus and get the most important aspects of your work out of the way.

~Day 5 post race all the fatigue might finally hit and you might be a crabby bitch with no energy for anything at all. Just go to bed. Your family has put up with you for all this time, they'll allow this too.

~By this time you're probably thinking you have no desire for any more tequila and just want kale. Go back to your high vegetable diet. You'll feel a ton better.

~Head out for a short/easy swim or bike ride. Don't start your watch. You really don't need to know. Really.

~If the weather looks like this, by all means, bail on that planned bike ride. You rode in enough rain when you were training, and today you're not "training". Go for a jog instead. Really.

~Jog super easy 5 miles and laugh at yourself at how slow it is (if you do indeed start your watch). Then make mental note that had you just jogged like this for the whole 26 miles last week you would have handed over a lot of cash to WTC for the opportunity to do it all again in October. Stop laughing.

~Spend your free time filling out race application forms for a bunch of little local races over the spring/summer. You're bored and the only way to cure that is to enter more races.

~Finally muster up the courage to use your Trigger Point roller and ball. Swear out loud a lot and hope your 4year old is not within earshot.

~Day 8. Back to business as usual. Show up at the pool and rip off a set of 10x200's faster than you've ever done them before. Where did that come from? #tequiladoesabodygood?

~Go for a bike ride and take note that you actually still genuinely like powergels. Wonder if that is more a testament to a great company making a great product, or simply proof that you're truly psychotic?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ironman Los Cabos... AfterThoughts...

So Ironman #13 is in the books. Didn't turn out like I'd hoped... It wasn't all bad and I'm trying to see the positives while also figuring out how to move forward. Here's how the day went down from my perspective!

The swim at Palmilla Beach is awesome. Super nice ocean venue, water was pretty calm/glassy as expected though we encountered a little chop on the home stretch. It was indeed a running beach start and those are just complete batshitcrazy chaos and I was nervous about it. Watch this video and you'll see why I never found Nalani's feet like I was hoping!! Turned out fine though... I had physical combat only for maybe a minute where it was ugly and then I was totally alone (swimming way wide on the right side) all the way to the first turn buoy where I melded into a decent sized group. Didn't see any other orange caps- all green as far as I could see which meant I was surrounded by men. At times I felt frustrated that I couldn't get around these guys- drafting felt too easy an effort but I tried like 3x to move off to the side and bridge up to another group... but each time I did that all I ended up doing was working harder but wasn't actually going faster. Eventually I conceded and just eased up, cruising mid-pack with this group. I came out of the water and saw 57' which was fine- I thought I was fit enough to swim faster but whatever...
It was a long uphill run in the sand and on steps to get to the T1 tent...
I saw only Nalani and Julie in the tent (hi friends!!) and figured I was 3rd out and felt content with that. Looking at the swim splits I'll go out on a limb and say the swim was a little long or slow for everyone.

The bike was quite a bit more challenging than any of us knew. To be honest, I freakin' LOVED it. I passed Julie ~15 minutes into the race and just like that I was leading the age group women at Ironman Los Cabos!
Nearly the entire 112 miles was either up or down. I used my full spectrum of gears 39/23 all the way to 53/11. For the most part I felt great! Followed my plan of taking in ~1800 cal (4 bottles of Infinit and 6 powergels- simple!), took water at most aid stations and drank some of it and poured some of it over myself... took e21 and vespa as planned... and rode alone most of the day. Every once in a while a man would pass but I will say what I LOVED most about this course is that it was pretty much impossible for draft packs to form. Hands down this was the most honest ironman bike course I've ever seen and it was SO REFRESHING to not get passed by a woman sitting on the back of a pack of 10 men sucking wheel. Several times through the bike I just had flashing thoughts like I FREAKIN' LOVE IRONMAN LOS CABOS!!!

I knew I was riding well. I'd started my watch and I knew the course wasn't going to be fast so I didn't stress about how long it was all taking. If it was taking me a long time it was taking everyone else a long time too and I was comfortable with that. I'd definitely say I enjoyed the airport section more than the corridor section, but primarily b/c I was trained to just hold steady Ironman power and the corridor section was way more over/under type efforts on the steeper hills. Even though the climb to the airport was long and slow, it was steady so it suited me better. And the headwind on the way back also suited me. I actually enjoyed the last section of headwind possibly the most of the whole race! I felt like I just got stronger as I went, I knew I'd had a solid ride even if my split looked slow for a normal 112 miles, and my energy/mental state was good so heading into T2 I thought *maybe* I'd actually be able to run?? I had hope anyway. :)

If I'm honest I'd say that deep down I knew I was not fully physically prepared for this marathon. I didn't elaborate on the state of my injury going into this race b/c I don't ever want to put out an excuse before the race even starts... like here's my excuse of why I'm not going to do well... I hate that! In good news both my hip and my foot were fine by the start of race week but for the 6 weeks prior I'd been managing them to the point where I had to cut back quite a bit on running overall (I replaced that training time with swim/bike and it showed!)... I was hoping maybe my overall fitness and a strong/positive mental state (and some sparkle magic!!) would carry me through the marathon but it did not. I got through ~9 miles avg ~9' pace which was my goal. Def didn't feel super but still had hopes I could will myself to keep it up.
Somewhere around mile 12 I had a complete seizure of my sartorius muscle (same damn one every time) and that was pretty much the end of it for me. I was stopped in my tracks for several minutes unable to even walk or make any forward progress... finally I started up again but knew that if I tried to really 'run' that it would seize up again... so I resorted to this horribly embarrassing walk/jog routine and it was all those damn leg muscles would allow me to do. I'd say mentally I kept 'fighting' til maybe mile 18 or so then I just gave in and pretty much stopped trying. (Not proud of this but it is what it is! Just being honest...) By then I'd been passed so much and felt like there was nothing left to try to salvage so my effort level went down. That said, I tried to run toward the end but had another complete seizure of the same sartorius at mile 25.9... so close to the finish line and this guy was screaming at me the finish is right there keep going!!! I just stared at him and growled YOU ARE NOT HELPING. When that thing seizes up I can't even stand up straight until it releases and I needed to just try to relax and bring the adrenaline down. So I walked across the finish line and for the first time ever didn't smile or put my hands up in the air. It did not feel like a victory at all.

So there you go. Many (probably everyone except my coach and me) might say I biked too hard... My take is that I just didn't have the specific muscular endurance I needed to run a decent marathon. I think I could have biked 10' slower and I still would not have had a great marathon on Sunday. My stomach was fine the whole time... I took in gels and coke and gatorade and water and e21 and vespa totally to plan so it was not an energy issue- it was 100% muscular. Unfortunately I am not a natural runner- though I do believe that I can run a ton better but in order to that I have to run often and a lot. When I'm running often and a lot, my run gets better! When my run training is limited, it goes to shit! #rocketscience

Of course I was disappointed at the finish, though some of that feeling was muted when I found out that Patrick killed it all day, finishing in 10 hours flat with an Ironman marathon PR and placing 3rd in his age group with a spot to Kona! Super proud of him and happy about his hard work paying off! Armando pulled off a great performance relative to the training he was able to put in this cycle (10:40)... so he was very pleased. Nalani had the fastest amateur female swim split on the day (again!) and gritted her teeth through the marathon for 6th in her age group after the hills on the bike course nearly did her in... And Lou had a swim PR and a solid bike... still figuring out nutrition on that marathon but after he puked for a few miles he finished strong and motivated- top 25% of his age group. :)

Nearly a week later I'd say my head is in a pretty good spot. Coach has been supportive and said he has a plan for me going forward (he now understands the gravity of the situation when it comes to me and running!!) so I'll be spending a lot of quality time with my trigger point set trying to make sure I avoid the injury issues that plagued me this training cycle so I can train consistently in the coming months. I'm not giving up. One of these times I am going to figure out that damn Ironman marathon that has eluded me thus far! GAH!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

'Twas The Night Before Ironman...

Ok so it's almost time to play! Saturday afternoon just hanging in the room relaxing... Bike is checked, bags are packed, etc. interestingly the wind is ripping right now and there are white caps on the ocean... Too bad it won't likely be like this tomorrow morning! ;)

The pattern of the days here has gone something like this: cool mornings with no wind at all. Ocean is totally glassy and ~70 degrees. I anticipate no adversity in the swim tomorrow. Then wind starts picking up around mid-morning, so I'd guess we'll be encountering that 2nd loop of the bike.Wind  makes the run a lot cooler than it otherwise would be so the run shouldn't be blistering hot like it could be if it was calm. Really temps are not that hot but the sun is very strong and you feel it penetrating your skin. Light clouds help a lot! Overall the course is hillier than I anticipated. Even the run has some good little rollers. Nothing too daunting but relentless up/down with only a few flat areas. Overall I'd say my guess is that it is going to be a fair course that favors a strong athlete! I'm going to predict it will not be a smokin' fast course? But not ridiculously slow or excessively challenging either... I think it falls right in the middle as far as ironman courses go.

We've had fun so far... Yesterday morning Nalani and I swam with Hillary and Maik... That was fun (and confidence building!) and the seals we saw playing (so close to us!) were the icing on the cake! There is a lot of life in this ocean... We see whales breaching all over! I actually wanted to swim out by our hotel this morning bc I thought a whale encounter would make a cool story. Nalani disagreed so we went back to the swim course this morning and swam there- this time with Julie Dunkle. It was mellow and fun except for the fact that we all got stung! Not sure by what? There were these cool little neon blue sparkle things in the water below us (Magic blue sparkle! Watch out it might sting you!) so might have been that? I don't know. It wasn't that bad though. I think experience being in the ocean and getting stung and realizing you live through it might be a good thing here. My goal for the swim is to stay on Nalani's feet for as long as I can and see what happens. Rumor has it it's a running beach start so honestly I may never find her feet if its that kind of start (read: running beach starts are MASS CHAOS).

Looking forward to biking tomorrow. I've ridden a little bit the last few days but honestly it hasn't been great- the traffic is scarier than anything I've ridden in before and I've found myself feeling super timid which is odd for me. The course/road itself actually looks like it has the potential to be nice but the traffic doesnt let us experience that. Roads are closed on the course tomorrow so hopefully I'll put my big girl pants on and be brave! That's my goal for the bike. Be brave!

Not really sure what to expect on the run? 3x out/back but it appears there are 4x turn-arounds on each loop so that's a lot of 180degree turns!! I accidentally ran part of it today... Found T2 which is different from T1 which is different from the finish line. I'm guessing I'll be a little lost the first time around in the run but after that I'll have it figured out. :) As always in my world, the run is a bit of a crap shoot but my goal is to keep putting one foot in front of the other in an action that can technically be called "running" (vs walking!) and not over think anything. Just shut my brain off and run. That's all. (Sounds so easy, no??)

Anyway, that's it! Sorry no pictures... I'm posting from my iPad and too lazy to figure out how to post pics. But look on FB or Twitter bc lots of pics are being posted there by everyone and well, that's pretty much what it looks like here! Beautiful! This really does have the potential to be a top shelf race. I hope they pull it off in a way that does it justice!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Ironman Build

12 weeks of crazy... almost complete! Just a run and an ocean swim today and I'll call Ironman training pau, which is good since the race is in, um, 7 days. Apparently we don't believe in long tapers around here so I'll let you know how that all works out next weekend. ;)

So I have all these thoughts floating through my head about how these past 12 weeks went down and I wanted to write them all out before the race... then maybe after the race I can look back and see if it all still seems to fit or make sense... if that makes sense? I think I need to bullet point this post.

~This was hands down the most consistent 12 weeks of training I've ever done in my life. I checked out a bunch of data points in Training Peaks because I was just curious as to how this compared to Ironman builds I've done in the past, and it just confirmed what I thought. Though I will say this- I was all over the place in my prep for Canada last summer! Somehow I remember feeling like I was *ready* for that race but comparing training notes this time vs that time makes me re-think how "ready" I actually was in comparison. On average I trained 6 hours/week more this time around vs the 12 weeks prior to IM Canada. I checked out my builds to Coeur d' Alene and Kona from 2011 as well (just for fun!) and saw that while those builds were bigger than my Canada build, they were both still 4 hours/week short of what I did this time around.  #moreismore

~I know it's not all about volume, though volume helps when you're doing an extreme event like Ironman. I haven't really kept track of total time at/above threshold or anything, but I can pretty much guarantee that I spent more time flirting with threshold in each of the 3 sports this time around than I ever have before. My coach is in love with sprint 50's in the pool (though for the record, I will tell you I would 100% prefer to swim 4x1000 vs 50x50's. I did both those sets last week and I'm not kidding I wanted to blow my head off during the 50x50's (GAH! BORED TO DEATH) but 4x1000 might have been my favorite set of the build. Maybe because I set a new 1000M pool PR on the 4th one? And maybe if I had TKO or whatever that software is, I could quantify total time spent pushing 200+W on the bike these last few months... But I don't dig that deep into workout specifics. If I had to guess though I'd just say, um, Yeah. Did that. A lot. I didn't do tons of running <8' pace but I did do some which is more than I've done in the past. :) #makethetraininghourscount

~Overall I did fewer really long sessions on the bike or run, and I did fewer runs off the bike. My coach seemed to think that 4 hours was plenty for a long ride which was somewhat surprising to me. Maybe it works because I had time to do that more than just once/week on the weekends? It does feel a little weird though going into an Ironman knowing that I have not even ridden 100 miles once since last Ironman!? At this point though I am just blocking out the doubts. #believeinyourtraining

~There was an interesting shift about 1/2 way through this training cycle. The first half I'd say I handled fairly well physically, but mentally adapting to the day after day longish hardish consistency of the training was a challenge for sure. Then somewhere along the way something clicked in my brain and I stopped viewing it all as crazy and I gained confidence that I could do it, etc. Then physically I started falling apart! Interesting shift I think. Honestly looking back I'd say my #1 problem there was that I got lazy and complacent when it came to things like Trigger Point rolling and basic functional strength exercises, etc. That complacency cost me a lot of money and time back and forth to chiropractor/ART, acupuncture, and PT... Where does it hurt? Pick a point, any point... In good news I now have a much better understanding of what I need to do to take care of myself and keep all those big working muscles happy (vs extremely pissed off)... it has a lot to do with stabilizer muscles and well, I just can't ignore those anymore! I haven't packed for Cabo yet, but I can say with certainty that my Trigger Point rollers will be in that suitcase. Shoot- maybe even my carry-on? Would TSA take away my Trigger Point quad roller if I tried to take it on board a plane? I use those every day now- no more complacency when it comes to that stuff. #learnedmylesson

~My body wasn't the only thing that took a beating during this build... my bike had a hard time holding up as well. I had 5 flat tires, a shifter that broke off mid-ride, a crank arm that I pedaled right off the bottom bracket, 2x replaced batteries in powertap, and then of course there were my shoes that I rode until the uppers ripped right off the carbon soles. #hawaiiishardonbikes

~In good news, I still love the sport! That was honestly one of my concerns going into this new training program... wondering if I would just train myself into a hole and end up HATING triathlon and triathletes?? I have no hate! Just love. :) Ok I do have a little bit of hate for riding in pelting rain, but mostly b/c I'm just OVER IT. In good news, I saw the forecast for San Jose del Cabo for next Sunday and it said chance of rain 0%. Though if it pelted rain the whole time and winds were ripping 20-30mph I'd prob have a bit of a competitive advantage. :) #beentheredonethat

So we leave for Mexico on Wednesday! Moana is staying here with my mom (Grammy is coming!!) who is flying out from Ohio to spend the week with her (those two are going to have a blast- seriously not sure who will actually enjoy it more??) And can I just say that this is going to be THE FIRST vacation Scott and I have ever taken together without Moana? Scott's got a pretty good deal going- vacation in Mexico at an all inclusive resort (read: free drinks all day every day) and he doesn't even have to do an Ironman! He deserves it though after putting up with me these last few months. I am looking forward to warm sunshine, hanging out with my husband, seeing a bunch of old friends and meeting some new ones, watching 4 of my athletes race, and celebrating this training cycle by seeing how fast I can cover 140.6 miles. Then, of course, the fiesta afterward! See ya on the flip side amigos!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Breakfast Of Champions

What a great weekend! First off, I want to brag just a little about how awesome team BSC is doing right now... Strong performances happening all over the place... At the Great Aloha Run a couple weeks ago, Gene set a 3' PR and Patrick won his age group (also with a PR). Leigh won her age group yesterday at the Haleiwa Sprint Tri... Karen won her age group at the Women's 10K this morning... Krista BQ'd with a 38' PR at Phoenix Marathon yesterday... Mary put together a good strong 1/2 marathon... and Scott successfully Escaped from Alcatraz!

My head is spinning.

And did you see what the BSC girls are going to be wearing this year?? MAGIC SPARKLE!
Special thanks to Jodi over at (Maui based) Salty Coconuts for creating these for us! I cannot wait to wear this in Cabo... IN TWO WEEKS.

In other news, I had a nice confidence boosting morning. Raced a 20K TT on my bike. I've done this one the last 4 years in a row... for 3 years was 2nd or 3rd OA and, well, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't in it to win it this morning. 2nd and 3rd is good and all, so I don't want to come off like I'm complaining AT ALL... BUT, I've been training my ass off and somewhere in my mind I just felt it was time to freaking WIN one of these things.
I brought out my whole race set up... race bike (that I have ridden exactly once since IM Canada), race wheels, helmet, new shoes... so that was good to test out everything exactly as I'll be using it in Mexico and happy to report it was all perfect. I love that white P3 and love that I only ride it on special days b/c it retains a bit of magic for me that way. Anyway, not a ton to report about the race itself. It was windy. I rode hard. I won. Mission accomplished!

Oh- and clearly the most important part... the winners got a big cookie as part of the prize. Moana actually saw this cookie when she was with me at packet pick-up yesterday and asked me to win it for her. She inhaled it while still in her pajamas this morning. Breakfast of Champions.