Monday, March 31, 2014

TeamBSC Scottsdale Camp!

Long flights home are the perfect opportunity to catch up on blogging!

I think all my long flights home last year were marred by a sense of disappointment from a lackluster race performance. On this flight over the Pacific the feeling is quite different! This flight, while I feel a bit like a zombie, I have a sense of satisfaction, motivation, and hope for the future.

TeamBSC Scottsdale camp was this past weekend and all along I was not planning on attending (Krista and Kelly did all the planning/prep for that!) but then last week I was overcome by a burning desire to be there as well... mostly just because the idea of riding my bike around Arizona for 3 days alongside some awesome women sounded like it would be My FOMO got the best of me and I called Krista last Monday afternoon- and before I even said hello- I announced I was on She laughed, but said her couch was open for me, and just like that I booked my flight! Where there is a will, there is a way!

We did not tell anyone I was coming because we thought it would be a fun surprise for my athletes… Only two of the campers were actually athletes I personally coach (Monika and Tracy) and I will say, the look on Tracy's face when she saw me standing in Krista's garage on Friday morning getting ready for the bike ride was almost worth the entire price of the ticket. :) I didn't get to see Monika until we were all at the bottom of Bartlett Lake (long story- blame my lack of bike building skills) and she didn't totally recognize me because she didn't have her glasses on (ha!). It was awesome getting to ride with those gals in person and it goes without saying that they both had stellar weekends! Monika is riding like a BOSS. Damn.

ANYWAY, I am not going to go into detail about every training session as I'm sure somebody else will do that but I will bullet point some of my personal thoughts and highlights:

~Attending a camp like this as a camper vs the coach in charge was awesome. I did not feel the sense of pressure and responsibility that I typically do and that allowed me to just relax and have more fun. Don't get me wrong- I enjoy being the coach at training camps- BUT it is very stressful and when you're in charge you feel this huge sense of responsibility to make sure everyone is ok and on track and happy, etc. It takes a lot of emotional energy to do that and I applaud Krista and Kelly for doing it well! But it was nice to not be in that role for once and I have to say, I'm rather surprised at how easily I was able to 'let it go'. I had a remote fear going into this weekend that I might suffer from some sort of urge to step up and play the alpha role but I did not! Yay! That said, being more on the 'outside' gave me better insight into what it feels like to be the camper so I think I learned some things that I/we can do to further improve the whole training camp experience going forward. TeamBSC camps are awesome and they will just continue to get better!

~I love training with other strong women. On Friday we did a lake swim at Bartlett and I found myself swimming in a pack with Erica, Jen, and Robin and it occurred to me WE ARE ALL W40-44 (masters women, represent!) and here we are together ripping through this swim in the middle of a 5 hour bike ride…  The best part is that Erica and Robin and I used to train together when I lived in AZ like 10-15 years ago so it was like some sort of reunion (remember when we were in our 20's and just learning how to do all this and now we are in our 40's and still at it?? Badass, I say!) Then at one point the next day, toward the end of the Saturday ride, I sort of went to the back of the pack and just watched the group ahead of me riding and I felt a major sense of pride at how awesome the group was. Like these are my people and I could not assemble a better group anywhere- which of course isn't even true as there are awesome groups of women training together in every state- but somehow this felt special to me. They weren't just strong athletes, they were awesome people.

~After spending 12+ hours sitting on my Argon up and down mountains over the past 3 days (~14K of climbing!), I can now confidently say that I LOVE that bike. It took me a while to get the fit dialed in the way I want it, but now that it is, I am super happy with it. Plus, now that I've broken it down and built it up to fly with it, I feel less afraid of it, which I think is a good thing. You definitely can't be afraid of your bike if you want to ride it well. This weekend was also a nice opportunity for me to put the Osmo Nutrition line to the test. I've been using it in training quite a bit and feeling good, but my training has not been especially big or hard recently so it's hard to tell if that hydration/fueling strategy is really helping or if I have just been feeling good because I have not been smashed tired. But 3x5 hour training days in a row is a legit test and it was well beyond my current fitness level to actually pull that off! I used the whole Osmo Hydration line all weekend: Pre-load every morning, bottles of Active while riding, and the Recovery afterward. Mostly I ate Bonk Breakers bars but that was not my only source of calories as I also ate pretty much whatever sounded good all weekend (um, hello Cookie Cabin!). In the end, while I was not quite as peppy on day 3 as I was on the first 2 days, I'm happy with how I held up over the weekend as a whole and I'll give Osmo due credit for that!

~We had an opportunity to listen to a motivational speaker via Skype one evening and that was really great. I don't have my notes here in front of me right now but I remember the gist of what she spoke about when it came to motivation. The basic idea of it was that motivation isn't something we just magically have or don't have. It is something we GET when we ACT in a manner that is helping us achieve our goals. What I took from that was that when we feel a sense of possibility- like success is within reach if we just keep doing X, Y, Z- then we are more motivated to make good choices (i.e. skip the ice cream sundae and stretch our hip flexors and go to bed early, etc). Then it becomes a spiral in a nice positive direction because when we are doing the little things that set us up for success> we experience bits of success> we feel highly motivated to keep making the right choices. Contrast that with when we think our goals are out of reach> screw it might as well just eat the ice cream sundae b/c what does it matter we're not going to reach our goals anyway… That is a negative spiral that can be tough to break out of. But all of it stems from our actions and choices and we are in control of those. Good stuff.

~Speaking of hope and motivation, I had the most awesome opportunity to meet my new coach Marilyn yesterday! Since we were in Tucson climbing Mt Lemmon, I managed to arrange to have lunch with her afterward. That face time with your coach is so beneficial to both coach and athlete… I feel like after our time together yesterday that I understand her (and her methods) better- which will allow me to execute the plan she writes more as it is intended vs simply as my own interpretation of it. Additionally, I'm sure she now understands me better as a person and as an athlete which makes it infinitely easier for her to come up with a plan that is going to best meet my needs both physically and mentally/emotionally. An opportunity like that is such a win/win… It makes me want to save all my pennies so I can attend an Endurance Corner Camp next year… we will see. Anyway, I left our meeting with a sense of optimism and hope that I have not felt in quite some time and that makes me feel motivated to make good choices that will set me up for future success! Hope! Optimism! Motivation! Puppies! Rainbows! These are the things that you get from camp. :)

~Anyway, major congrats to Krista and Kelly for pulling off their first training camp in such a successful organized way. I knew they would, of course, but it was fun and satisfying to watch them deliver from the sidelines. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mad Calf Disease

I think blogging is easier when you do it often. Then you can just write about what's going on right now instead of feeling like you have so much to stay you don't even know where to start? Like, can I just write about my fun little chickens and how the best part of each day is now when I come home in the late afternoons and pour myself a glass of wine and lock the cats up in the garage so I can watch my little chickens free range in the backyard?

Watching chickens hop and flit and attempt to fly around my backyard is one of the best (and unexpected!) stress relievers I've found. Like my own version of meditation.

Anyway, of course I'd like to just write about how awesome everything is... and for the most part, it really is all good. Just one little thing that's not good. And it's not really a little thing. Well, in the big scheme of life it's a little thing but in my world it feels like a big thing and I suspect if you're reading this blog you're a Type A triathlete like me so it would be a big thing in your world too...

So ya, I've been obsessing over this damn calf thing for weeks now trying to figure it out and FIX IT. In the past I've been magically cured by ART and/or acupuncture... But 2x ART appts and 4x acupuncture appts and I'm now broke not just physically but financially as well. Can't afford any more of those appts for a while so in between water runs I'm Dr Googling myself. A recent history of my searching would include phrases like:

~peroneal tendonitis running
~stress fracture running
~fibular head pain running
~peroneal nerve flossing
~anterior tibialis pain running
~posterior tibialis pain running
~Zappos Hoka one one

I've come to a couple of conclusions. I don't think I actually have a stress fracture. But the root cause of all the bad right now stems from that fibular head below my knee. Lots of stuff connects into that so really could be an old hamstring thing or peroneal nerve thing... and when it gets all irritated in there the rest of everything in and around my calf gets pissed (pick a point, any point, that's where it hurts). I've gone back and forth about icing or no icing. More and more comes out that icing is actually harmful and delays tissue healing, and yet... it makes my lower leg feel better?! So I've iced a few times and heated some too- both make it feel better. I'm afraid to run because I don't want to further piss it off but damn it's been a long time since I've run and seems like it should be better by now. I'm past the patient stage and now just sort of feel sad about the whole thing. I feel like I've done my time... paid my penance for my greedy mistake of running too much in January/Feb... I've done the rehab and taken time off and can I just be better already?? Apparently, not yet.

So in the meantime I swim and I bike and I water run and I do all those fun functional strength type exercises. Started a little group session at my house on Tuesdays with a few of my local athletes who can make it and that is a highlight of my week!
I should probably write a whole post about what I've learned from Marilyn's coaching in the last 3 weeks... It's good stuff. I feel like I'm doing next to nothing because my total volume is lower than it's ever been (~16 hours/week which after last year seriously seems like nothing) and a lot of it is very easy/aerobic effort. But then every once in a while I get to rip it and when I do, it's amazing! Maybe because I am carrying so little fatigue? I don't know, but I absolutely shocked the hell out of myself this morning in the pool swimming the fastest 800 I've ever recorded in that longcourse pool... came through the 400 and checked my watch... the split totally threw me for a loop b/c the number was one I'd never seen before in a 400... It took me like the whole next 100 to do the math and figure out my pace... then I figured I was screwed b/c clearly that was WAY too fast but I just kept chasing Mark and trying to stay close to him... Shook my head at the end when my watch said I neg split that swim WHAT!? Shocking. So I guess therein lies the benefit to keeping your easy days truly easy... because if you're not carrying a bunch of fatigue into your hard days, you can really reach new heights when you start to throw the hammer. Good stuff.

Now if I could just figure out the cure for this Mad Calf Disease...

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Plan... Reinstated

Feeling some major relief today! You know that saying You Don't Know What You Got Til It's Gone? Ya, well I don't know that I knew how much I really wanted to race Honu until the probability was that I would not actually be racing… Maybe I take it for granted or whatever but yikes the last two weeks I've been in a bit of a haze like I have no GOAL… Trying to envision the month of May if I was not peaking for Honu… That's what I have done during 7 of the last 8 months of May… WHAT would I do with myself instead?? And while part of it is the actual race itself, most of it is the whole race weekend experience… I like that race because so many of my friends/athletes are there. I like that race because the morning before we show up at Hapuna beach feeling fit and spunky and we float around in gorgeous clear warm ocean with our friends looking for turtles (and we always find them)… 

Then when the race is over we drink beer right at the finish line and share war stories about how freaking HOT and WINDY it was… 

I could not think of a 'replacement' race that felt right in my heart, so when I saw a had a phone message from the Ironman Office this morning my heart skipped a beat… b/c surely if they were denying my request they would just send a faceless email, no? And sure enough, she said my email(s) were so genuine that they agreed to make a rare exception and allow me to race… My faith in Ironman has been restored!

So, 12 weeks til Honu! Let's start training! :)

Actually, it's going fairly well on the swim/bike front. Amazing how much differently I approach training sessions when someone else writes them for me. Last week I had my first legit bike training week in a long time (didn't skip *any* rides yay me!) and I just watched my HR/power ratio get better and better with every ride. Turns out, the more I ride, the stronger I get on the bike. File that under #Duh. Same rule applies to swimming… After 4 purposeful swim sessions last week, I actually surprised myself this morning with paces I was able to hold in the pool (this is extremely rare for me to actually be surprised)… but how great is that? Add a coach = immediately get faster. Well, it's really like Add a coach = immediately work harder, so I guess not really the same thing. But close enough!

In case you were curious, that whole do more get faster thing doesn't apply to running. It's my own fault really- part of the mess I created for myself before I hired Marilyn went something along the lines of run run run until your calf gets so pissed you can't walk. Whoops. It's been a couple years since my calf has been this pissed. I'm trying to be patient but water running is getting old. Anyway, I'm working on it and trying to get back to real running ASAP. Marilyn has been quite patient with all this and its refreshing to be guided by someone with that mindset… like these little hiccups are just part of it so we do what we need to do when they come along to maintain fitness and we will get back on it when we can… Keeping my chin up!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Best Laid Plans

So you know how Jan 1 rolls around and we all close our eyes and dream about the year we're going to create for ourselves? Ya. So mine went something like this:

I'm going to coach myself! I know *exactly* the type of training I want to do for myself... and I'm going to show up at Honu fit and fresh and ready for the race of my life!

So with that, I wrote out a rough 5 month plan for myself. It was awesome. Perfect progression of sessions leading into the key ones I wanted to be able to nail 3-4 weeks out... Long sessions, short sessions, hard sessions, easy sessions, hill reps and track workouts... even a rough idea of where rest blocks would best fit were planned out. I loved it and it made me feel so good to look at all that work on paper!

Then I went to implement my perfect plan. At first it went pretty well. But then one day it would rain, and I'd decide that my bike ride might be better done tomorrow instead of today... I'll just run instead... then it would rain again the next day, and the day after that. It's ok though I thought! I'll modify my plan and make this a RUN BLOCK. Bike block can be next week... if it's dry...

Then a dry day would finally come and I would hem and haw and procrastinate until I had like an hour until it was time to pick up Moana... Ok so a short ride is better than no ride... I'll just go do some short hill reps and call it good. Damn, those hurt. 4 is good enough, no? I don't really need to do 8 of those, I justified to myself...

And on and on it went until ~2 months had passed and I found myself modifying just about everything and simply doing whatever I felt like and if I didn't feel like it I just wouldn't go b/c who really cares, anyway? Turns out, being accountable to myself is pretty much like being accountable to no one. And that just doesn't work for me.

My decisions to hire coaches ALWAYS come when I'm out on my bike and wimping out on myself. This time around was no different. It was a couple weeks ago (on a ride that was going to be 2 hours including strength intervals but I modified it to ~1:15 easy spinning because that's how I roll when I'm accountable to myself). In good news, this time around I had pretty clear criteria about what I believe I need in a coach...

~I wanted a woman. Yes I know this is stereotypical but I think most women communicate better than most men. I believe that communication between coach and athlete is KEY for success. I know I am good at communicating with my coach and I wanted a coach who would  also be good at communicating with me.

~I wanted someone who I felt like had a view of training that was very similar to my own. I've tried going out on a limb and doing things differently. That's cool! I love challenging my own beliefs because who am I to say I've got it all nailed?? Except, guess what? I'm 40 now and after 20 years in triathlon and trying a variety of different types of training, I think I have a clear idea of what works and what doesn't work for me. I don't feel the need for some big experiment right now. I just want someone who will write some good solid standard training for me, pay attention to how I respond, and then progress the plan. Don't treat me with kid gloves, but don't try to actually kill me either. Just because I'm durable enough to handle a giant training load doesn't mean it's actually the best thing for me to do in the long term.

Anyway, with those two things in mind, I found Marilyn Chychota with Endurance Corner. For years I have valued the things I've learned at the Endurance Corner website. All their coaches seem so professional and every article I read there just seems so logical and spot on. Then I started following Marilyn's coaching page on FB. She posts a little something every morning and every morning I would read it and think YEP YEP YEP... I will admit, I was also attracted to the fact that Marilyn has started doing Crossfit! Finally I got off my ass and sent her an email introducing myself and promising that I am a low maintenance athlete who will do what she says and I will log in every day I pinky swear and will she please consider holding me accountable to my training because I suck at doing that for myself... In good news, she said YES so YAY I am back on a plan and could not be happier. :)

It is seriously astounding how when the workout is entered in Training Peaks by someone else how I will execute it on point exactly as written... vs if I am the one who put it there it gets modified to something easier almost 100% of the time. But you know, the last thing I would do is hire a coach and then have her spend time creating a program she thinks is appropriate for me and then not bother to execute it as written. I never understand when athletes do that. Maybe money is too valuable to me to waste it like that? Or as a coach myself I have too much respect for the thought that goes into those programs to disrespect the coach by modifying them? Regardless, having a plan to just do, not think is awesome and it is what I need. This morning was Day 1 and my plan called for 6x intervals on the bike and it never once occurred to me to just do 4x. Success!

Anyway, now my only real problem is that the Participant List came out for Honu and my name is not on it. WTF? I entered (or tried to anyway!) last September via way before it filled up. I don't know where the glitch was but I've got 3 plane tickets to the Big Island, a condo/car reserved, TriBike Transport paid for, and a heart set on doing that race for the 8th time. I've sent letters to both Active and Ironman but no one will respond. Unfortunately neither of these organizations is known for their outstanding compassion customer service so I think my chances of having the opportunity to race there may be quite low but if there is anyone out there who has a heart and a voice with Ironman, will you please help??