Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday Update!

Random bullet points tonight!

~You know what sucks? When you go to touch up some walls around your house that need fresh paint and after it dries you figure out that while it's supposed to match the original color, it doesn't really. So now you need to repaint the whole damn room.

~We are trying to make our condo look like no one lives here. That's an issue because, um, we do live here. In fact, 2 adults, a 4 year old, 2 cats and an old incontinent dog live here. This place is going on the market on Thursday and it is still full of junk and not ready to show. Wish us luck with that.

~We need to put it on the market because we found a house we'd maybe like to buy and since the offer will be contingent upon the sale of this condo, seems like we should be listed on the MLS, no? The house we want is old and would be a huge project to fix up (read: HUGE project, overwhelming really) but if we work on it non stop for 2 years and put every last penny we have into it, it has so much potential to just be AWESOME. Really what I like about it is the amazing ocean view and the giant mature mango tree in the front yard. The mango tree might be worth the entire cost of the home because there are at least 200 perfect mangos on that tree and many of them are low enough for Moana to pick. Mangos are worth what? $3000/ea? At least. We decided we'd put Moana on the street corner selling mangos to raise funds.
~Buying a home is emotionally stressful. Especially in this market where the nice ones are sold immediately for over asking in a bidding war.

~Moana starts kindergarden next week! We went shopping for all her new school supplies. She is stoked. She'll be one of the youngest in her class and this is the last year she made the Dec 31 birthday cut-off... next year they're changing the cut-off to Aug 31 so she would have had to wait another year. She's ready though- she's so smart and mature it's scary. She was actually asking me about college today. #truestory

~Pre-school ended last week so she's home with me for the week. It's only Tuesday but I'd say we're having fun together so far. I will say though, I'm definitely not cut out to be a stay-at-home-mom. She talks too much and I like my quiet time. ;)

~This week I have a lot less time to train, which is fine because I think I really needed a bit of a break anyway. What's fun though is that I'm allowed to bring Moana with me to the CrossFit box and she LOVES it. So I'm doing CF a lot this week. :) She swings on the rings and plays with the jump ropes and the pvc pipes and lacrosse balls... She mimics us too. Watching her try to do burpees this morning was awesome. This morning she specifically asked if we could go to the gym- it was the one thing she really wanted to do today!

~This past weekend I was asked to be on a relay team for a local triathlon we have here every summer. They wanted me to be the runner. Ha! My first response was, You know I suck at running, right?? People who are not triathletes maybe don't know that any success I might have experienced in triathlon is not based on the strength of my run... but Gail is an excellent swimmer and Erika is a super solid cyclist and neither of them like to run a step so they seemed to think that whatever I would do would be fine. So I agreed to do it. It was fun! And we wont the women's relay division, but definitely not because of me! They built the lead... I just hung on to it.

~This pic is right at the finish. I was happier with how I felt than my overall pace... That 10K confirmed to me a couple of things, one of which is that my slow run splits in triathlons have nothing to do with biking too hard because I don't run any faster without biking first. In fact, I actually run faster off a hard 40K effort! It was nice though to feel good and strong at the end- I felt like an ox and definitely like I could have continued on for quite some time without breaking down.

~Kona Camp is next week!!! Campers get ready- Moana will be there for the weekend and yesterday she declared herself Head Referee. I instructed her to deduct points for whining (NOT that any of you would even consider whining...) You should know though, she's easily bribed. So bring something sparkly.

Friday, July 26, 2013

If You Think You Can...

People write a lot about mental state and how important it is in triathlon... So ya, this is another post about that, and my thoughts on it this week.

Part of this comes from my personal experience and part of this comes from what I've witnessed my athletes doing in their own training/racing. I'll write mostly about my own experience- I guess I just mention that part about my athletes because it confirms that my experience is not unique. :)

So I think we all know that phrase... "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right." I think I'll admit that this past few weeks of training I've been on the fence about whether I could or I couldn't... I have definitely been pushing some personal boundaries in terms of both quality and quantity of training.  Volume has been higher than normal, and sometimes the sessions also call for strong effort and I've looked at them and thought I wasn't sure I could even complete it. OK I take that back... I don't think the 'could' was as much of an issue as the 'should' in my brain... as in, ya, I can go run for 2 hours today but should I?

Those questions eat at you if you over think them. My biggest fear is probably getting injured again. I know my biggest gains will come from consistent training week after week so anything that removes my ability to be consistent is something I try to avoid- I've said over and over it's not about the one big session that leaves you smashed, it's about consistently (day after day, week after week, month after month) putting in solid training... that is what builds your fitness. So pushing limits can get uncomfortable because I have this fear. It's a valid and justified fear!

Interestingly though, it seems coach is a lot less afraid of the volume I'm doing than I am. He seems to think I can do it and it shouldn't really be an issue. So yesterday, after 300 miles of riding in the 6 previous days, I actually went and finished off the block with the scheduled swim/long run as planned. (True story- I'd contemplated just skipping the whole day in favor of laying in bed!) But you know what? I did fine. Ya, I was tired, and no, it wasn't the fastest I've ever swam or run... Honestly I think more of the fatigue I felt came from my brain rather than my body. It was a matter of me doing too much math in my head and thinking to myself I've never put together 7 days this big before so I assumed I'd be thrashed tired and unable to go that far. But when I finally shut my brain off and just did it, I was fine. It wasn't as big of a deal as I'd made it out to be in my mind beforehand.

And interestingly, I feel fine today. I think knowing that I only had a swim on tap for the day helped put my mind at ease that now I do get a bit of a break... and it will extend into next week so it's not just one day of recovery this time like it has been in the past... so don't get me wrong I'm not advocating that we all just push and push endlessly until we're completely smoked. Eventually we all DO need to take recovery! BUT, if you want something you've never had before, you need to do something you've never done before. And maybe that calls for 7 bigger days in a row. Or maybe it calls for a 3 week block that pushes you past the point where you think you can't go anymore? Then you prove to yourself that you CAN indeed do it, and a whole new world of possibilities opens up in front of you.

At this point, I'd say I need to thank my coach for teaching me that my limits are not where I thought they were. And neither are yours.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pre-Conceived Notions

I've been having a conversation, off and on over the last several months, with a few of the athletes I work with on the idea of going into sessions with an open mind... ie, don't decide beforehand that the session is going to suck because you feel like you're trashed. I mean, sometimes you're trashed and the session sucks.For real. But sometimes you surprise yourself... Sometimes you're capable of more than you think. But guaranteed if you go into a session with a bad attitude thinking it's going to suck, it'll suck.

I am not immune to this phenomenon. I've been teetering on the edge for at least a week now. My long run yesterday was pretty ugly- mostly just a slog. I called it a win because I didn't succumb to the desire to just walk. I got home and felt so relieved to be done with that huge week, the one that came after the other huge week I had... And I was seriously looking forward to an easy day today. I was sure I was going to have an easy day today.

So maybe you can imagine what I felt when I opened up my Training Peaks calendar to see that today called for a hard swim followed by hill repeats on the bike, then another bike with progression pieces in the afternoon. Um, WHAT?!? Has he freakin' lost his mind?!? I mean, I appreciate his belief in me and all but shit. Thus begins another one of coach's favorite 4 day blocks- this one looks like an enhanced version of what I've done in the past. The word I actually said out loud when I saw that is not appropriate to type on this blog. I thought about sending coach an email with a picture of a white flag...
But I did not. Instead I thought, Ok I'll try. But this is going to suck because I'm trashed.

So went swimming this morning. Guess what? It sucked. I couldn't hold t-pace for a 50. True story. I wasn't as pissed as I've been in the past when I've found myself in this scenario- I actually just sort of laughed and got through the set as best I could given that mindset. And then I headed off for my hill repeats. I chose my road bike primarily because I did not want to see any power data for this ride. That's what coach always recommends when I'm trashed- He would say Don't look at power just go get the session done as you feel. Nobody needs to see numbers that low, you know? So it was a moderate-at-best effort this morning and I wondered if I was wasting my time going out and doing sessions like these? Maybe better to just recover and hit up the training again when I can actually produce some quality to my workouts? Two schools of thought there and I find myself constantly going back and forth about which way is better... I know what my coach believes though and since I'm paying him to guide me I'm finding myself I'm finding myself wanting to risk it and do it his way.

Quote from my post-workout notes this morning... wondering if I keep pushing through this fatigue can I pop out the other side? Or do I fall off the cliff?

I asked that question primarily because I have a distinct memory of a huge swim block Nalani and I did a couple years ago- where just as a fun experiment we swam 50,000 meters in 8 days... and we 'tested' ourselves by swimming 5x1000's descend 1-5 on day 1 then repeated that set on day 8 at the end of the block... and as tired as we were mid-block, we both popped through the other side of that fatigue and swam better/faster on Day 8 than we did on days 1-7... So I guess I was wondering if coach knows something I don't know? About pushing through this kind of fatigue and can you pop out fitter on the other end? Is that why we keep pushing past the point the triathlon magazines and forums would say is ok?

I genuinely didn't know but I thought I'd go into my afternoon bike ride with more of an open mind. Trying to practice what I preach! I decided to use my power meter mostly out of morbid curiosity... because I wanted to answer the question How bad is it?? And you know what? It was not bad at all. My power wasn't awesome but it was pretty solid- way better than I would have guessed it would be. I was capable of holding higher than 70.3 race watts for the last 30' piece and it didn't even feel like MAX like sometimes it does... I'm not always capable of even doing that! Quote from my post-workout notes from this afternoon... Anyway, very pleasantly surprised with this one goes to show that's it's important to not go into sessions with pre-conceived notions of how it's going to go b/c sometimes even if you think you're trashed you can have a decent session?!?

So there you go. I will approach all three of my sessions tomorrow with an open mind. :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

On Combining CrossFit with Triathlon

I haven't been able to straighten my arms for the last 3 days. I'm blaming CrossFit.

I'm only going to CF 2x/week but somehow I have a knack for picking the days when the WOD calls for a billion push ups or pull ups. I've actually gotten to the point where I can knock out a bunch of push ups and it doesn't debilitate me for days anymore... but Tuesday the game involved pull-ups. I can do some unassisted pull-ups, but this WOD called for a total of 60 (as sets of 24, 18, 12, 6) so I used a band that helped me out. You'd think those bands would make it easier but in the end I think it's worse/harder because while there's no way I could bang out 60 pull-ups in less than 12' without a band, with a band I could... but then I haven't been able to straighten out my arms since. So maybe would be better to just do as many as I can unassisted then call it good enough when I fail? Haven't got that one figured out yet.

Anyway, it is with ams bent that I type this blog post. Just so you have the background. :)

I've been meaning to type up my thoughts on this subject for a while but just hadn't had time to get around to it. But here's where my head is at with this CrossFit/Triathlon combo... Some random thoughts in no particular order...

~It's tough to add CrossFit to the mix when your triathlon training is big and/or specific for an upcoming event. Sometimes you can get away with a less than ridiculously hard WOD and then you'll still be able to swim/bike/run later but you never really know how it's going to go when you go to the box. That might be the biggest challenge for triathletes is not knowing what the WOD is until you get there. We are planners! Pluses and minuses to that of course... because if we knew ahead of time we'd just go on days when the WOD suited our strengths, which is not what CF seems to be about. The sessions are different each day, sometimes harder than others but of course 'harder' is relative and depends upon one's individual strengths and weaknesses. Anyway, my point there is that sometimes a WOD will level you and if you're going to do CF you just have to accept that fact and understand that your SBR is going to suffer some, at least in the short term. I think I've mentioned this before, but for me, it kills my swim most obviously. (Turns out, if you want to swim well it helps to be able to straighten your arms.)

~I know I just sort of bitched about not knowing the WOD ahead of time, so this may come across as an odd follow-up, but the fact that you never really know what you're going to get is part of the charm of CrossFit. It forces you to face your fears, address your weaknesses, and be open to challenging yourself in a new way. There is no "Comfort Zone" in CrossFit. It is always challenging in some new way and you pretty much always feel like an accomplished bad ass when you walk out of the box, drenched in sweat. This is a nice change up from triathlon where after 18 years or so you can get pretty complacent and ho hum about repeating the same type of aerobic or tempo sessions week after week.

~Since the WOD sessions do seem to be so random, I wouldn't say that they directly benefit swim/bike/run. If your goal is a strength program that compliments SBR, then CrossFit probably isn't it. Which isn't to say there's no benefit to triathletes doing CrossFit- I think there is-  but it's just not set up to address that specific need. It's set up to make you a better all-around athlete, and it definitely makes you a stronger person, which I think in the game of life is a good thing. But it's not triathlon specific at all. For this reason, I can see that joining a CF Box might be best done during off-season when you're not trying to nail key S/B/R sessions. What I have noticed for sure is that while I have more aerobic capacity and endurance than most of the other people who go to my CF gym, I am almost universally the weakest one in any session I attend. I suck at squatting heavy and most everyone can deadlift more than me... but give us a set of burpees and wall balls mid WOD and I'm crushing all those powerhouse athletes in banging out reps without slowing down or resting.

~So on that topic, I think I now understand why Triathletes and CrossFitters seem to have such heated debates about fitness (Which group is fitter??). It stems from some statements made about how even if all you do is CF that you can still run a good 10K (or even marathon as some claim). Triathletes get rather pissy about that kind of statement (of course) because we tend to believe that an aerobic base is the key (I still believe this) and CFers think that being strong is the be-all-end-all and that anaerobic fitness is all you need (I can see where they're coming from). I'm not a fan of these debates though because I think high and large the people who are having them have only experienced EITHER Triathlon OR CrossFit... I do wonder how many people who wrote their arguments in heated debate type internet forums have actually gone and trained in both arenas? I think that would be critical before forming such a strong opinion for one side or the other. So here's my opinion now, having done both- Sorry Crossfitters, but if you want to be good at swim/bike/run, you have to swim/bike/run. A lot. While only doing CrossFit might allow you to complete a triathlon, it will not get you to the pointy end of the field in any race. On the other hand, sorry Triathletes- while you might look like a chiseled piece of athlete from all that S/B/R, you're probably actually (relatively) very weak. So in the end, neither side wins this debate in my mind because the argument is apples and oranges.

Given that I just admitted that I don't think CF directly benefits Triathletes, why do I keep going back to Crossfit? Because I like it. I like the new challenge. I like that I'm completely out of my comfort zone every time I'm in that gym. I like addressing my weaknesses. And maybe not coincidentally, since I've started Crossfit, I have been able to swim/bike/run my brains out and I have not been injured. I think gaining general all-around strength has made me more durable in a way that reduces the overuse injury issues that I've dealt with in the past, so in that indirect way it has actually benefitted my triathlon.

On that note, time to go ride my bike again. :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On A Roll

I feel like I'm back to Ironman training lately... even though I do not have an Ironman on my schedule!? I would say that it's weird but the reality is that the "long" stuff coach had me doing in prep for Cabo wasn't really that long. After ~7 months with him now I've learned that he's clearly a believer in stacking moderately hard days back to back to back to back. To back. Or something like that. So now even though I'm only training for a 70.3, my recent weekly schedules have just looked like those same moderately hardish days back to back. And honestly, all my best 70.3's have come when I was training for an Ironman...

It has occurred to me recently that there's definitely been a shift in what type of training scares me. As in, not many sessions scare me at all anymore. Not even the 4 day blocks coach likes to give... the ones that go swim/bike/bike, then run/swim/run, then long bike, then long run. I had that block on my schedule last week and it occurred to me (while I was happily cruising through the long run) that the first time I tried that block back in January, I failed miserably. The 2nd time (February) I made it through but it put me in a bit of a hole. Last week I saw that block show up again and I didn't even blink! Pretty cool. Not that it was easy or anything but I got through it just fine and sent an email to coach all proud of myself something about feeling great and all systems go, etc. Maybe I should have known better because an hour later I opened my Training Peaks account and saw that instead of just an easy swim on Monday, like I expected, I had hard swim, 3 hour bike with intervals, then run OTB. HA! I almost fell off my chair. Then I looked at today (swim/run hill repeats/bike) and tomorrow (bike/run Tantalus) with my jaw dropped open like maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut about feeling good. WHEN will I learn??

But the thing is, I'm on a roll. I really do feel good! Monday was one of the most solid training days I've had in a long time. And jogging off for hill repeats this afternoon I was shocked at how light and easy it felt. When is the last time I've felt like that on the 6th day in a row of such solid work?! Seriously, never happened before. 

I can tell I'm near the edge though, primarily b/c my core body temperature just feels high like all the time. It's summer in Hawaii, so it's not cold anymore, and I'm having a hard time staying hydrated when I'm training in that heat like all the time. I just feel like I'm radiating HEAT. Everything else feels ok at the moment though. I've taken between-session-recovery very seriously (in my recovery boots every day recently!) and trying to eat clean and go to bed early enough, etc. I've also been on top of all that mobility stuff that I haven't shut up about in the last few months so my body doesn't feel like it's on the brink of breaking like it did in February (when I was last training like this but ignoring mobility work).

That said, don't be surprised if my next post is titled CRAAAACK! Lol. Typically that's how the cycle goes after a big/extended block like this. We'll see. Thursday is an easy day so if one easy day is enough for me to 'recover' enough then maybe I'll be able to keep the ball rolling a little longer!?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Healing Injuries With VooDoo

So on Monday I was out running and I'm not really sure what happened, other than the fact that I didn't pick my foot up or something over an especially rough patch of asphalt, but before I knew it was falling toward the pavement. Broke the fall with my kneecap. Lovely. It hurt, but not that bad, so I brushed myself off and finished my run, which was maybe 8 more slow miles... I didn't think it was very serious, given I was capable of running on it. Clearly nothing broken or anything.

That night it swelled up (of course) and felt really stiff. I didn't do much to address it and figured it would be better on Tuesday.

It was not better on Tuesday, but I went and spent ~3.5 hours biking and running up and down Tantalus anyway, because that's what my Training Peaks schedule told me to do. Somehow I justified to myself that it was okay b/c this was not a chronic injury, just an acute one... So while it hurt with every pedal stroke and every running step (especially downhill OMG stabbing pain) I didn't sense that I was actually doing further damage. I was just thinking I needed to stay tough and deal with the pain and eventually it would go away. In hindsight I know that is not a super bright way to think but that's how my athlete brain works (Interestingly that is NOT how my coaching brain works... I have two brains, didn't you know??)

So Wednesday morning I woke up and it was showing a pretty big bruise and swollen up like a grapefruit. I went to swim but felt like a gimp and was just in one of those feeling sorry for myself PMSy moods so I didn't swim with my normal training partners just flopped easy on my own and tried to not push off the walls because that hurt. I got home and fessed up to my coach via email because I was thinking that 2 bike rides that day prob wouldn't be possible smart. His response was classic... "You pay me to guide you through these things when they happen, not two days later..." Lol. Point taken. I will also say that it drives me nuts when my athletes hide this type of info from me too but remember, I have two brains.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the magic method I used yesterday to fix myself in a single day. I no longer believe in ice/ibuprofen to manage acute (or chronic) inflammation. If you have 20 minutes and are interested in why, here's a good explanation. Anyway, instead, I spent most of the day wrapping my knee up tightly with this Voodoo band. In that video at the bottom of that page, Kelly does a nice explanation of how to use the band, but I'll tell you how I used it... basically I wrapped my knee up as tight as I could, left the band on there for ~2' while walking around or trying to move it some, then released the band, let blood rush back in, waited 5-10', then wrapped it again, repeat. Easy for me to follow this protocol since I work at home in my pajamas... so I basically spent the whole day doing that instead of riding my bike. And guess what? Inflammation disappeared. This morning, while the bruise was still visible, the pain was almost completely gone!

So there you go. Only one missed training day! I was able to just push all my sessions back by one day and I'm back on track now. If something like this happens again, I'll be diligent about managing it with repeated Voodoo band immediately, not 2 days later when I email my coach. :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Real Swimmers

I wasn't even going to write about the North Shore Swim Series races this summer... Not sure why I thought that... maybe just that I've written about them a bunch before and they are the same every year so I didn't anticipate there would be much blog material there? But today was the 2nd race of the series and I think it provided me with some blog material. :)

So these races attract swimmers of all ages and all types. There were ~800 swimmers there this morning, which shows huge growth from when I started doing these races 8 years ago. Youngest gal today was 7, oldest was 77. How cool is that? Top 3 OA were 20-21 so I would guess collegiate swimmers? They said it was 1.2 miles but looking at all the times I'd call it longer than that, but it always is and no one cares.

Men went first this morning then the women lined up and went 5' later. It was sort of a rectangular course with a couple of boats and buoys to get around and one giant rock that served as turn buoy #3. What was most interesting to me about this morning was our start, and the realization about the difference between real swimmers and triathletes. In a way today's course in Waimea Bay reminded me a lot of the Honu swim (similar counter-clockwise loop, and in both instances I saw a turtle while warming up), except it was done with swimmers instead of triathletes. And wow- there is a difference! For the record, I am not a swimmer. I am a triathlete who consistently works hard in the pool so I don't suck at swimming. But I am not a swimmer. There girls today were swimmers. You know the difference? Real swimmers kick.

So the horn goes off and I'm on the front line and you know what? I had no business being on that front line! I would guess that 50 x 13 yo girls swam right over top of me, though I couldn't really see any of them because of all of the white water. KICK KICK KICK like freakin' motorboat propellers those girls were using their FEET. I cannot kick like that for 25 meters but I am not kidding they kicked like that for probably 500 meters! I couldn't see a thing in front of me except white water being created by these fast feet.

In most triathlons I can start on the front line and maybe I watch a few girls swim away but not more than a few. In these races I look up a few minutes into the swim and seems like there are 100 girls ahead of me already. It is crazy! Eventually it did thin out a bit, and my triathlon experience gives me a leg up when it comes to two things- 1. Open water sighting (I can do it without stopping and doing breaststroke- 13 yo girls seemingly cannot) and 2. Endurance. After the 2nd buoy this morning I found myself catching and passing some of those young gals who had gassed themselves kicking like it was a short sprint race. So that was a bonus.

Interesting too as I was rounding the final rock I saw the gal who won my age group at the first race two weeks ago... She crushed me by 2+ minutes at that race so I did not expect to see her, but when I did, it was interesting to feel the competitive SPARK I felt! It's been a while since I've felt that b/c let's face it, in a triathlon swim it doesn't really matter if you come out a few seconds ahead of another swimmer... the race gets played out later on the bike and run so I am not really accustomed to gunning it with the intent of being first out of the water... but in these races, that is the goal! So I put my head down and made a beeline toward shore... trying to become invisible in my bright pink sparkle suit so she wouldn't see me and try to jump on my feet...

In the picture below you can sort of see the black rock (dead center) that served as turn buoy #3.
So I gave a solid effort at the end- one I felt proud of for sure... thought I was likely going for the age group win with that move but in reality turns out 2 gals in our age group were just ahead of us... Pretty cool really that top 4 in women 35-39 were separated by only 36 seconds!
So there is a series win that a lot of us go for... It's been a few years actually since I've been around for all four swims but this year I am so I am keeping track of the series results... at the moment I am THIRD in my age group but only 1-2 minutes behind the other gals... which seems like a lot but the next 2 races are longer (1.6 and 2.3 miles) so I think there's a chance I can move up on these girls. We'll see, but the tight race has been super for my swim motivation this summer. I would much prefer a good solid battle like this than it just being a run-away. Definitely brings some excitement into what would otherwise be just another season of summer swim races. :)

Moana and I got tons of compliments on our sparkly suits this morning... Me, and my mini-me. I'm sure one of these years she'll be racing these swims too. I will LOVE that.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Earn Your Bat Cap... And Other Musings...

Funny story from the other day... somehow a couple of us got to chatting on Twitter and ended up creating a little challenge because it appears there are some folks who would like to get their hot little hands on one of these Bat Caps.

I don't just give these away so we had to come up with an appropriate challenge to earn them...
So here's what I've come up with... I have 10 caps to give away and I'll give them away this month. IF you want one, here's what you do. During the month of July, swim this set at your local pool:

10x (8x100's @10" rest, 2x100's bands only @10" rest).
Simple, not easy. (I had to make it fit in 140 characters so twitter would accept it. Hence, the simplicity. :)
It must be done in one session, 4 hour cut off time, which works out to 2'/100, or less if you like to take breaks between sets.

Have someone take a picture of you swimming with your feet tied together and send it to me on Twitter or FB, #EarnYourBSCcap. Then, email me your address and I'll mail you your cap! First 10 people to send me the pic get their caps. I think Susan Lacke is planning to be the first as she's swimming the 10K set tomorrow. :)

In other news, I feel fat. BLAH. It's a simple problem of just not paying attention and eating too much food. The fix is less simple. I'm just one of those people who genuinely enjoys eating, so cutting back is tough. Especially when I'm training a lot. You'd think that you could out-train a bad diet, but you can't. So. 10 weeks to Vegas I'm putting it out here publicly that I'm going to be more reasonable about the amount of food I consume with the intent of showing up on that start line in Vegas not feeling like I do right now. Hold me accountable.

Interestingly, I feel like I came out of my Maui weekend with a nice little fitness boost. I haven't ever really felt such an immediate little boost as what I felt today, so I'm just sort of guessing it might be because of the 4 hour "big gear" session I did on Saturday? That climb didn't hurt me, per say, because I was never really digging... It was just a long strength workout. Anyway, my power today on the bike was good! And that was surprising to me because I would have assumed I'd be carrying some fatigue but power meters don't lie. I'll take it. The other thing I've been doing a lot of is mountain running... up (and down!) Tantalus, up (and down!) Haleakala... and I think that strength is translating over to my normal every day running as well. Either that, or the supplemental jump rope I've been doing lately... or maybe both? I don't know exactly but today was the third run in a row where I noted afterward that I felt good and that is just a HUGE relief after ~a month of just CRAP run sessions. I feel like I'm on a little roll here and it's been a long time coming.

The other thing that's been on my mind that I've been meaning to write about is my continuing experience with Crossfit. Before I started CF I must have just been ignoring the whole Crossfit vs Triathlon debate (where apparently athletes just cannot get along) because I really didn't know there was such animosity coming from both sides?!? Now that I've spent some time doing both I have some thoughts on the subject... I wonder if those who have such strong opinions about one camp or the other have actually experienced both types of training?? Those thoughts really deserve their own post so I'll wait til I have more time to type those out. Suffice to say, I did 124 push-ups today (total, not in a row) and I prob won't be able to swim worth crap for the rest of the week. Somehow I always manage to make it to CF on the day they do a ton of push ups. Gah! That said, I keep going back...

Ok let me know if you plan to earn your bat cap this month. :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Haleakala... Cycle To The Sun

So they call it the longest steepest paved road on the planet. I didn't believe it. I mean, that must be an exaggeration, no? I mean, ok 36 miles is a long way to climb and 10,000ft is pretty high up there (especially when you start near the ocean) but it wasn't that steep, was it?? Just some mellow climbing for ~4 hours is what I anticipated.


Anyway. I entered this event about 3 weeks ago. It had been in the back of my mind as something I wanted to do but I wasn't sure at what point I'd do it. Everything just sort of lined up this year though... I've been riding enough all year to feel confident that I could jump into an event like this without a ton of specific training and still get myself to the summit. Add to that the fact that I had been coaching a Maui athlete for the last several months specifically for this event, and that she had an extra couple of bedrooms at her house which happened to be part way up the slope of the mountain... And then when I ran the idea by Scott and his first response was I love Maui let's make a family weekend out of it, well, the deal was sealed. I bought plane tickets for 3 and told my coach I wanted to add some extra climbing to my schedule for the next few weeks.

We flew over Friday morning where I got to meet Dianna and her awesome family... staying with them was a big part of what made the weekend what it was. :)

Heading into Saturday morning I was undecided how I was going to approach the actual 'racing' part of the climb. Was I going to race or was I going to climb the mountain? I wasn't sure!? I was going to make decisions as I went along and just see...  Like, if I found myself in a position to contend, maybe I would contend. If not, my day would be 100x easier. :) You can see how amped up I was right before the gun went off.

It was a pretty mellow roll out- no safety issues. Everyone seemed to line up in a pretty appropriate spot on the fairly narrow road. There was a small group that stepped on the gas right away and they were gone. I watched one gal go with that early group and didn't even think about going with her. I settled in behind a guy I know from Oahu who seemed to be cruising a pretty steady effort and let the race begin. It's uphill the whole way, right from the first pedal stroke, so we were warming up while climbing.

Maybe 15' in, a gal with bike shorts that said IM Louisville rode by. I considered going with her but was comfortable enough on the wheel I was on... plus, I hesitated too long and by the time I thought maybe I should go, it would have taken a decent surge to get on her wheel, so I stayed put. But then a few minutes later another gal rode by and I made the instant decision to go with her. I still wasn't sure that I wanted to race, per say, but it occurred to me that I might miss the opportunity if I didn't jump on the train and ride with the gals who were gunning to place higher up in this event. So I thought I'd give it a go and see what happened.

The gal I was with was riding what felt like a pretty strong effort- she was on a mission and we passed by a bunch of guys who had gone out harder than us. One by one she was picking them off with me on her wheel, and eventually, maybe 20' later, we had IML gal in our sights as next on the road to catch. We were only maybe 1500-2000ft into the climb at this point, and I was thinking that the smartest thing this gal could go would be to catch the IML, ease up a bit, and have us all work/climb together for the next 5-6,000ft and then we could sort out the placing after the 8,000ft mark. But that is not what she did! Instead, she surged and attacked. So ok I'm not the most experienced bike racer in the world, but seems to me when you still have like 8000 feet of climbing left, starting the attacks that early is not the brightest thing to do. (post note, turned out it was indeed not a good decision for that gal to be drilling it so early- she ended up only finishing ~3' minutes ahead of me, while IML gal rode strong all the way up and finished ~30 minutes ahead of us. #pacing #tactics)

I was watching all this take place and made another decision- one that involved not playing these games. I don't know. It was just such an amazingly gorgeous day- blue sky and the scenery was unlike anything I ever get to ride- and it just occurred to me that I didn't want to spend my whole morning suffering and staring at this gals wheel... I wanted to enjoy the ride b/c it was just such a stunning morning. So I let them go. And instantly I was happy. :)

So that was it. From that point on I tried pretty hard to not get caught up in groups. I was thoroughly enjoying climbing this mountain by myself at my own pace. I alternated sitting and standing as I felt, looked around at the amazing views as we got higher and higher, and thought about how incredibly awesome this mountain is. I think these switchbacks pictured below were the ones that come ~1/2 way up. So, um, ya. ARE WE THERE YET? ARE WE THERE YET?
I stopped at the aid station at 6200ft because Scott and Moana were there... I drank a bottle of coconut water and told them this was harder than I anticipated. :) BUT, still pretty darn awesome. A few hundred feet later I entered the clouds and it started to feel cold, but it was epic and felt right to be among this mist. It only lasted maybe 1000ft and by 7500 ft I climbed right out of it and just like that was above the cloud line and back in the sun. The wind started to blow, and I admit it was a little scary... I am afraid of heights so being on a skinny road at 9,000ft in a strong crosswind blowing in the direction of the fairly steep slope was not my favorite. I tried hard to not look down during that section.

I'd been warned by just about everyone that the last 1/4 mile or so was the worst- super steep like maybe you fall off your bike kind of steep... so I was *sort of* prepared for what I encountered right there at the end. I swore a lot anyway and wished I had like 3 more gears because my 39/25 was just about as inappropriate as I could imagine on that section. I'll guess I was ticking over at ~40rpm (maybe 30, seriously) and even though there was like no oxygen up there I managed to drop a bunch of F-bombs out loud (if no one is around to hear them did they really get said?) Just trying to stay upright.

Eventually I came around a little turn and saw the most beautiful sight ever- it was a yellow sign that said FINISH.
It was freezing and windy up at the top. I had to wait a while for Scott to get there with my bag of warm/dry clothes so that was the only part of the day where I was actually near tears. Finally Scott got there though and once I had a coat on I was a lot happier. Then Nalani pedaled up and we started drinking beer. That made me even happier. This one seemed appropriate given that essentially I spent pretty much the entire ride in my 25 tooth cassette, wishing I had a 28. Or a 32. (No kidding some people had 32's. Brilliant.)
Then Dianna and Kurt got up to the summit and we were all happy! Success all around, and we checked that off the bucket list!

In the end, they gave me 1st in my age group, but only b/c they took the actual first place gal out and gave her an OA award. It was  10 year age group 30-39 which was actually pretty cool b/c for the first time ever, Nalani and I actually got to share the podium!
So, a few days removed of course I'm looking back and thinking things over and what would I have done differently, etc. And to that question, I'd answer an enthusiastic Nothing! I'm super happy with how the whole weekend went... It really was a ton of fun, all of it. I'm not sure I'll go back and try again, though if I did, the first thing I'd change is my mindset- I'd go in more prepared to grit my teeth and suffer. Next, I'd have to lose 10lbs. At least. Those mountain goat girls who can climb are smaller than me. Lastly, I'd change up my gearing on my bike. 28 on the back for sure. That said, I'm not envisioning myself going back to ride up that mountain again. I feel pretty content letting that be my one and only crack at Cycle To The Sun.

That said, Sunday morning I woke up early and went for a longish run... ~65' up, 50' down, all relaxed effort. It was without a doubt the most peaceful run I've done in years. I absolutely loved it. I've never felt a pull toward Ultra marathons, but I heard a rumor that they might bring back the Run To The Sun, and if they do that, I could see it being my first ultra.