Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fair Weather Swimmer

It's now been a full week since I've swam. The heater is broken in our pool and I'm too much of a wimp to swim when the water is 70 degrees (excuse #1). I was actually planning on braving it and swimming this morning, but then Mark sent a text saying he wasn't going to be there... so I texted Lectie to ask if she was going and she replied no... Um... I bailed too. I thought about going later in the day but didn't. I can be the queen of rationalizing these things, but mostly I realized that swimming, for me right now, isn't about achieving any fitness goals. It's a social thing where I like pushing myself with my friends. Take away the friends and my motivation goes away too. I do plan on doing some ocean swim racing this spring/summer so once those get closer, my motivation to swim for performance will likely return... but until then I need my training partners. I might have to bribe Mark to come back next week... 7 days out of the water is the longest break I've had in years, and at this point, with the holiday coming up, I don't think I'll get into the water again until Monday. That will be like 12 days away from swimming? Longest break in at least 7 years.

I took Maia back to run Old Pali again. Today when we pulled into the parking lot, she knew... She was on my lap in the car ready to bust out the door as soon as I opened it. Like a kid in a candy shop!

5 minutes into the run she was already off on her own little adventure... she hopped a little wall and was off into the woods. She came back after a few minutes, tongue out, covered in mud, tail wagging... It was cute. This time I was prepared with a towel to wipe her down before we got back in the car, and she got a bath when we got home. I am learning to manage the adventurous side of a dog.

Let's hope this sign is just for show.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Gateway Trail

It was a stunning blue sky morning, which is the common weather pattern around here on the rare occasion that the winds slow down. Everybody in the family set out to do what they love to do ... Scott went surfing on the North Shore, Moana went ice skating with a local kids group (yes we have an ice rink here!), and I took Maia for her first off the leash trail run. Ok, so it wasn't really a trail. It's really just an old unmaintained road that goes up the side of a mountain, but you have to crawl through a hole in a fence to get to it so it feels like a trail to someone who doesn't run trails. I think it's actually sort of a gateway trail.

On a Tuesday morning I figured there wouldn't be anyone up there so it would be fine to let Maia run free. I was mostly right. The only guy I saw was actually a casual friend of mine (the running community here isn't that big) and he met Maia at the Jingle Rock 5K last weekend so it was all good.

By the sparkle in Maia's eyes, I think its safe to say that run ranked up in there top experiences of her life- she seemed to be in heaven- darting this way and that, tongue out, smelling everything. She stayed close enough to me that I didn't feel the need to worry, and the one time she did dart off out of sight chasing a mongoose, she came back when I called her. It was pretty much ~45minutes of pure joy for her, which made it pure joy for me, and I definitely had the thought that I can see myself going out of my way to find more off the beaten path areas to run so Maia can be free to do her thing. I feel like I experienced a gateway trail today and that it will lead to more trails in my (our) future.

Next time though I'll be more prepared with towels or something to clean Maia off before we get back in the car. Good thing I'm not meticulous about keeping my car clean.

Later in the afternoon I went out on my own and repeated that Hill Cut-Down session that I did a few weeks ago (4x90"; 4x60"; 4x45", 4x30", 4x15"). It went better today than it did the first time, which felt good. That's definitely my favorite way to break up hill repeats.

Maia likes the hammock as much as I do.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

It's All Relative

Just a short run today (~5 miles), but did a little something different with some short intervals. No Garmin, but used a stopwatch to time 30-45-60" intervals and I did those until I felt like I'd done some work.  Felt good to stimulate a different energy system for a change. I don't know how fast I was running but I don't think it matters. It was hard enough to feel like a stimulus but not so hard that I hurt myself or had to hobble home. Thumbs up!

Ended up with 52 miles this week and it's shocking to me how that didn't feel like a big week at all. It was not that long ago that a 50 mile week was huge to me. Now it feels like no issue! Granted I have not ridden my bike in months so I cannot compare to triathlon training here, but for sure I have never done run training like this. It feels good and is quite manageable. Anyway, I know that to real runners, the volume I am running right now is nothing, but it's all relative, and the fact that it feels standard/normal to me now is super cool. It's similar to the mental place I try to get a lot of the athletes I coach to be in with swimming... It's common for new-to-me athletes to whine a bit about "long" swim workouts... at first those are 3000 then 3500... Why so long?? But eventually 3-3.5K becomes completely standard and nobody blinks an eye. It's good for me to get a bit of a taste of my own medicine. :)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day

I don't even really know what Boxing Day is, but we celebrated it with a group run this morning... It's become an annual tradition... A holiday group run up/down Tantalus. This was the 3rd year they did it (my 2nd) and it's super fun! Last year I was surprised when they offered mimosas at the top. This year it's why I got out of bed to run in the dark rain. :)

In good news, the run up felt a good bit easier than last time I did it 5-6 weeks ago. I figured it would also be slower (it felt slower!), but it was not, which was a pleasant surprise.

Another pleasant surprise was that my knee held up. I've been managing my knee pain for probably 4-5 weeks now. For the most part (I think) it's just a pissed off patella tendon. It's been hurting off/on but after ~9 miles yesterday it hurt worse than it's hurt in a long time so I was a bit worried about running 5 miles straight downhill today. I was pretty convinced though that the root of the problem was likely a tight spot somewhere in my adductor or quad, so I worked it hard on the Trigger Point roller last night. I'm typically quite good about rolling my calves and my glutes using the Supernova ball, but it hurts so much to roll my quads that I tend to skip that part. I tried a few weeks ago but decided that my knee pain wasn't as bad as the pain I felt while rolling my quads...  After yesterday though the knee pain was legit enough to make me grit my teeth and do the rolling. Anyway, I could tell when I woke up this morning that my knee was good and sure enough it held up through 5 miles straight down so I feel confident that I've got the situation under control.

I celebrated with another mimosa at the bottom! :)

Cheers! Hope everyone had a nice holiday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


My friend Kendra is really young (27!) so her birthday swim didn't take all morning (had it been Mark's birthday we would have been there all morning!).

We 'warmed up' with 7x100's easy on short rest (I went off 1:40). Problem was, the heater is broken and the water was like 72 degrees, which I think is quite cold! Main set was going to be to pace Kendra through 20x100's @1:50. Given the water temps that would have been too much waiting at the wall, so Mark and I did those as 25 fly/75 free. That helped keep my HR (and consequently body temp) up so I could get through the full 2700M without shivering to death.

Afterward I stood in a scalding hot shower for quite some time before feeling like I was thawed out. I guess I shouldn't complain though. At least I wasn't swimming in this.

My legs still feel totally thrashed today so I think my only running for today will have been my jog to/from the pool. I actually don't think that Gardens run is the sole cause of my legs feeling like they do... It's the combination of the strength training with the hard running that's the killer.  If it weren't for The Big Steel Challenge I wouldn't be lifting nearly as much as I've been lifting... in all honesty it's too much when combined with marathon training (DUH!). My competitive side gets the best of me in situations like these (where the competition is basically to see who is willing to work the hardest or do the most). I try to do it all but as I was jogging home from the pool today my thought was that the smartest thing to do would be to remove myself from that Steel Challenge. It's only one more week but the fact that I feel the need to skip running today is a sign that what I did there last 2 days was too much- and while the run was hard, I don't think it would have hurt me nearly as much had I not been carrying the fatigue from heavy squats, deadlifts, and kettle bell swings. There is a reason why athletes do their focused strength training at times of the year when SBR training isn't big/specific. Again, file that under D for DUH. It's like another lesson that applies to everyone except me, until I experiment and realize that yep, it also applies to me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Ran the Gardens again today. Before I headed out my plan was to make it a goal to have a solid negative split. I managed to do that and neg split by ~3 minutes but I think my effort on the way home was likely too hard. The hill(s) in the last mile up to my house are legit and after 35' already of solid effort, I completely blew up trying to get up those. I stopped a few times just to let my HR come down. I wasn't wearing my HR monitor by but the nausea I was feeling, I'd guess I was easily 175+. I could feel down about that but the fact is that every segment of the run was faster than it was 2 weeks ago (and felt stronger today). So I blew up... ok... Fitness still isn't where I want it to be! Carry on.

I took Maia out for a jog later this afternoon and it was terrible. Legs felt like pounded lead. I was happy to let Maia stop and smell every feral cat along the way.

Moana has been sick (lethargic/coughing) for the last 5 days. I finally took her to the doctor today where she was diagnosed with bronchitis and given some meds. Not really the most fun way for her to spend her Christmas break away from school. :( I've never earned any awards for being empathetic to sick people and unfortunately I wouldn't win one for how I've been with Moana. It's a good thing I never pursued being a nurse. I would never cut it as a nurse. I hope Moana gets better soon b/c I feel like I'm done with trying to convince her to eat, drink, etc (she has eaten next to nothing for 5 days now and won't eat anything other than tiny nibbles here and there and that drives me NUTS). It's good for her that Scott has a lot more empathy than I do. I think generally I'm a good mom but I totally fail when it comes to nursing sick people back to health. :(

Monday, December 21, 2015

Maia's First 5K

About a week ago I saw a promotion for The Jingle Rock Run... a local 5K that is a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish  Foundation. It's a fun run where everyone dresses up and runs through Christmas lights in downtown Honolulu. There's a big kids race, etc. The fact that they had a pet division sold me, so I told Scott we were donating $100 to a good cause and now we had something fun to do as a family on Sunday evening... :)

Moana has been a bit under the weather so her energy levels are pretty low, but she jogged through the kids race and got her shirt and her medal and she was happy.

Maia got dressed up in her elf outfit and was ready to run.

It seemed like we had to wait around forever until they finally let us start the 5K. I wasn't sure Maia would really know what was going on, but I tell you what... the race started and everyone started running and she was like

I'm not kidding she took off like a rocket. Turns out she is highly competitive and with so many people running ahead of her she was not at all confused as to what she was supposed to do...  She was attached at my waist but darting off ahead and dragging me along and I was laughing my ass off because the whole thing was so funny to me. My legs literally would not go as fast as hers though... and then a dalmatian ran by with his owner and she was like OH YOU WANT TO RACE DO YOU?!? She sure tried to match him step for step and I'm sure she could have but I just couldn't move my legs that fast so that dog got away.

She kept up her blistering pace for about a mile and then abruptly stopped on the road and took a dump. Ha! Good thing I brought a baggie along... But how was that... cleaning up her poop then what do you do? Run holding a steaming hot little bag that's what you do. I carried it maybe 1/2 mile until I found a trash can. By that point Maia had calmed a bit so she trotted by my side at a more sane pace for the rest of the race. We officially finished in 26:43, but you figure 30" to cross the start line and another 30" or so for the poop break... Plus me as an anchor that first mile. She's a badass. She was the 2nd dog across the line but we didn't hang out to get her award b/c Moana wasn't feeling so hot by then so we figured we should head home and let her get to bed.

Overall that was a blast and I would take Maia to do it again in a heartbeat!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Double Run Saturday

I ran 21 miles today. It wasn't as big as it sounds though b/c I split it into 2 runs. Funny how much less challenging it is to run that distance when you take a 5 hour break between runs!

This morning I ran 7.5 miles and I used my HR monitor as a leash which meant it was quite easy. Unfortunately it was also quite slow and left me feeling frustrated. Seems like my pace at those low HR runs should be getting faster. Every once in a while I have a run where I'm able to keep my HR low and not have to slog along at a slow pace, but the vast majority of the time those HR runs are pretty slow. Some might disagree with me, but I think there's still some good benefit to running with the HR leash even though I've done a ton of it already. Sometimes I have to work hard at convincing myself that keeping my HR low is GOOD b/c I often finish those runs feeling like UGH. I suck.

This afternoon I headed out for a 13.5 mile loop and on purpose I left my HR monitor at home.  My plan was to run it by feel and if I felt ok, do a bit of tempo/progression the last 3-5 miles. In good news, I felt quite strong and finished faster than I started, even though I started with 2 miles downhill and finished with 2 miles uphill... So A+ on pacing by feel. My afternoon run was avg 30+"/mile faster than my morning run, which means I probably was running with a HR upper 150's/low 160's and that effort was quite sustainable. Toward the end of my run this afternoon I was thinking that this is where all that easy/slow running pays off. When I finally take the leash off and just let myself run, the fitness comes through and I don't blow up like I do when I'm skipping those easy miles in favor of more quality. So I will keep sucking it up and running with my leash for the bulk of my runs.

4 weeks til the Maui Oceanfront Marathon. I don't have any black & white goals for that race but my thought was just to try to get as fit as I can and see what happens. I feel like I'm on track and if I manage to feel like I did tonight, I'll be happy!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hawaiian Winter Wonderland

Continuing our weekly routine of Friday morning ocean swims... Forecast was for 30+mph winds and a small craft advisory. That had me feeling a bit giddy about the challenge this morning- I was mentally prepped for nutso conditions. It was bumpy for sure, but once we were swimming it didn't seem altogether different from last week to me. We did the same swim as the last few weeks- Kalama to the buoy chain and back, which is almost a mile (each way) along the shore. Because of the way the wind blows and the slight current, the way to the buoy chain is harder... on the way back it feels more smooth. Today then whole thing felt rather routine and it didn't wear me out nearly as much as last week, which is a good sign that fitness is improving.

Moana didn't have school today, so Scott brought Moana and Maia to the beach to meet us post swim. I was really hoping to get Maia in the water but she was having no part of it.  She was darting around in the sand so fast it would make your head spin, but she wouldn't even get her paws wet. Typical runner. (Scott took a video of the whole scene and I put it on FB. Sorry a lot of it is just us laughing while the camera is pointed at the sand. Scott probably went surfing the day they taught Video-taping 101 at school. Anyway, check my FB page if you're interested in seeing it!)
Since Moana was home all day, of course she was looking for something to do. She has a bunch of girlfriends in the neighborhood, but most of them have gone to the mainland for Christmas. There were a few older boys playing in the street though (maybe 4th grade?). She had seen these boys before but hadn't officially met or played with them. Needless to say she was intimidated at the thought of approaching the group of them by herself (though she had wanted to- one has a Hoverboard and Moana has envy). I was impressed though by her initiative. She wrote them a nice note and left it were they would find it... They wrote back with a riddle and said if she could solve it she could join their club. She couldn't solve their puzzle but eventually they let her into their club anyway. Pretty cute way to make friends I suppose. I just like it that kids play out on the street in our neighborhood.

We took Maia for a jog around the college this afternoon. Happy to report I feel quite fine after that hill repeat run yesterday. Moana is getting stronger on her bike. There are 5x hills on our 2.2 mile loop and on her single speed bike she has sort of a hard time getting up them. Maia and I wait at the top of each one but today we didn't have to wait as long as we used to. Funny- Moana was riding along behind us singing about walking in a winter wonderland... Not quite a winter wonderland here, but sweet idea anyway.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Neighborhood Is A Playground

This morning I set out to run some hill reps. It's been a while since I've done a session like this, but it was time! My neighborhood is like the ultimate playground when it comes to hill reps. I'm a victim of over choice as there are probably 8 different hills I could choose on any given day. Most are fairly steep and take from 30sec to 2min to get up.

The one I chose today is about 1/4 mile from my house and is the longest/steepest of my options. Mostly I chose it because it has next to no traffic on a week day morning. But also I chose it because it looks like this.

This morning was especially awesome because it was drizzling rain and there was this amazing double rainbow that ended at the base of that mountain and it was stunning... It was sort of like running in a fairy tale. Except my legs were burning like mad and much of the run was physically quite uncomfortable. It was quite obvious that I had not put stress like this on my body in a long time!

Main set was:

I got that main set from Lauren Fleschman- she published it sometime last year as one of her Workouts of the Week and I thought it looked awesome so I saved it in my library. It's a good one for sure b/c as you really start to fatigue, the reps get shorter so it remains manageable.

I took full recovery after each which essentially meant walking at least part way down the hill and waiting until I felt ready to go again- the set took ~40' total and only 16' of that was actual uphill running so you can figure out I recovered at least as long (often longer than) the rep each time. The recovery is an important piece b/c my goal with this set wasn't to make it cardiovascularly challenging- I wanted the muscular load/neuromuscular connection. I discovered I really have no 'pop' and I had to focus hard on form- staying tall through my hips, slight lean forward without bending over, keeping core engaged, taking steps that were short/quick, etc. Those things don't come naturally to me at all so I really had to think about it every time.

As I was finishing up this morning I had the thought that I would like to do this session every week for 3-4 weeks and see how it affects my overall running. Seems like it would have to really help with economy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday Swim

This morning I was running a bit behind schedule and when it was time to head out to the pool I realized I'd only had one shot of espresso. On some days I would just let that go, but it was Wednesday and that means Lectie would likely show up which means it was going to be a good solid swim effort... A 2nd shot this morning was a necessity. So there I was outside my front door trying to slam a shot of hot espresso prior to jogging down to the pool...

Happy to prove the study above to be spot on. Either that, or my little recovery block is working. I felt about as strong as I've felt in months today in the water. We did a 1000 w/u (as usual) then a solid 1800 meter main set (in less than 28minutes!) It was similar to Monday in that we worked some pace changes but different in that even our 'recovery' efforts had to be a solid pace simply to make the send-offs. I was getting 6-16" rest after each swim, which turned out to be plenty. Mark and Lectie were getting more. Everybody worked hard this morning.

3x200's steady @3:10, 1x100 fast @1:30
2x200's steady @3:10, 2x100's fast @1:30
1x200 steady @3:10, 3x100's fast @1:30

I was super happy that I was holding 1:27-1:28 pace on the 200's and that was very sustainable even after 1:23-1:24 pace on the 100's on short rest. Pretty stoked to not slow down at all through the whole set. I fully expected that I would. And honestly, had Lectie not been there I would have given myself more roomy send-offs.... Starting this set I really thought it was just going to be a 'make the send-off' type set, so it was fun to surprise myself a bit. Yet another example of how fast training partners force you to up your game.

One more day with just a dog jog then I'll return to regular run training tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Free At Last!

Every time we run by a certain woodsy area, Maia insists on stopping to thoroughly sniff out the area. I'm not sure what lives back there... possibly some wild cats but it's also probable that there are wild pigs back there. Whatever it is, Maia has high interest. Today on our way home she pulled hard and managed to get part way in to the trees before trying to come back, then when she came back she managed to wrap her leash around a tree which clearly pulled in a way that was very uncomfortable. Consequently she managed to squirm right out her harness. FREE AT LAST she darted right into the woods, up the hill... I couldn't see her and I worried for a second that she'd get lost but then decided to trust her and let her do her thing. It seems reasonable that she was a hunting dog in her past life so I figured she knew what she was doing. After a few minutes I called her and she came scrambling back, panting but clearly very happy... She just kind of looked at me like hang on just give me a few more minutes and with that she disappeared again up the hill and into the woods. Eventually she came back and let me put the harness back on and we resumed our run. She was a muddy mess, but a happy happy dog. Makes me think I might need to explore some trail running at some point.

I felt quite good today, like I didn't really need more than a day of rest and I had the thought that I could go run again this afternoon. Regardless, I stuck to my plan of taking this week easy so I did not run again today. I did put together a decent lifting session- in my side yard, not the gym.  Already I feel like I could get back to 'normal' training but I think I'll keep tomorrow light anyway.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Swim

Jogged down to the pool this morning sort of hoping maybe Mark wouldn't show up so I could just swim easy. No such luck- he was there.

1000w/u easy. During warm up is when I tend to decide what the main set of the day will be. Often I have an idea, but if I feel like shit (or feel better than expected) I reserve the right to alter it.

5x100's @1:45 w/u set as 25 fast/50easy/25 fast. Going fast felt way better than I expected it to, so I decided main set could be a decent one.

Main set 1500M. I opted to pull the whole thing so we could do them off decent intervals where Mark wouldn't have to wait forever. (He is faster than me).
200 fast @3:00
300 cruise @5:00
500 fast @7:30
300 cruise @5:00
200 fast @3:00

I was happy enough with how I was swimming the 200/500 (2:50/7:16). On the last 200, Mark, who prefers to RACE every swim of every set, was clearly bored so he opted to tie his feet together and give me 5" head start. So picture the scene- I'm using paddles, he's got his feet tied together with bands. I got a 5" head start. I went 2:49(lcm). He beat me to the wall (barely, but legit). Sometimes I think I don't want to swim with Mark anymore. But of course the truth is, I totally need him as a training partner.

I jogged home about as slow as could technically be classified as jogging.  That set completely kicked my ass. I was thinking as I was jogging home that my paces today weren't really all that much slower than I would swim if I was swimming twice as much volume... Some triathletes like to use this argument as reasons to swim less. BUT if I was swimming twice as much volume, (i.e. what I would consider normal in season swim volume 12-15K) that set wouldn't have hurt me at all. Therein lies the difference between swimming the minimum and swimming appropriately.

Maia didn't get to run today but we did go on 2x walks. Bonus! She got styled out in a special new outfit for Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

End of the Volume Block

Ran another 60+ mile week. That makes 4 in a row. I finished my run tonight and as I walked in my house I was thinking this upcoming week should be a rest week.  That was enough volume for me for right now. Prior to this last month I don't think I'd ever run 60 miles in a week? Not Monday to Sunday anyway... So putting together 4 weeks in a row at that volume for me is HUGE, even if the vast majority of it was quite easy/relaxed. The 2 weeks before that I ran 50+ so really it was a solid 6 week volume block where I avg 58miles/week.

I think making myself rest/recover will be the hardest part about coaching myself. I don't (usually) have much issue getting myself out the door to train. And its funny- recently I've been motivated by adding up numbers and going for volume totals and I think when one gets in that mindset, taking easy/light days is WAY harder than when you're thinking in terms of big picture performance. I've already started negotiating with myself with thoughts like well, I don't really need a whole easy WEEK... I bet 5 days will be enough then I can get back to it by the weekend... Fwiw, I genuinely think that's true.

Anyway, I envision that in the upcoming 5 days I'll swim and jog with the dog and probably lift some weights, but no real run training. Ok maybe I'll do a real run on Thursday morning... See how my brain works?!? I have to take Maia out every day though. This is how she responded today when I went running without her.

Friday, December 11, 2015

More Fun Than Pool Swimming...

We are back into the routine now Friday morning ocean swims. With my first glimpse of the water  this morning I knew we were in for it... plenty of surf out there and the water just looked bumpy. I don't mind those conditions but I'm definitely better in them when I'm exposed to them often and recently we haven't been in the ocean much so I had a feeling it might be sort of an ugly swim. I do remember last spring in the build up to Honu we swam this water every Friday morning for ~5 weeks in a row and seemed like every week it got bumpier and bumpier but I could feel how I was adapting and getting stronger because of it. Given that experience I felt mentally/emotionally up for the challenge today.

As I was battling the rough conditions I was really trying to pinpoint how I was adjusting/adapting my stroke to be most effective. There's just no way that a nice pretty "pool stroke" would be effective in super chop. I came to the conclusion that these are the thing(s) that matter...

~Stroke needs to be highly effective underwater but really only the first ~3/4 of the stroke.  Having a strong finish to your stroke doesn't help much in super chop. It's a matter of holding a high amount of tension from wrists through your armpits. A couple times I felt myself get lazy (or fatigued) and just sort of let my arms noodle their way through the water and that is just not at all effective- ever- but especially not in chop.

~Turnover needs to be quick. It doesn't matter how you get your arms through the recovery phase (bent or straight elbow- either way- fine) but there needs to be a quicker rhythm about it. No dead spots. No gliding forward as your hand enters. No long finish at the back of the stroke. No long intended breaths. Just whip your arm back up to the front and get to the effective part of your stroke.

~You need to be okay with not being able to site very effectively. Most of the time when you look up to breathe, you're just going to see water/waves in front of you. It's really best to be able to site something on land that is far away and trust that you're generally going in the right direction.

~You need to be okay with salt water in your mouth and up your nose and in your throat. That's just part of ocean swimming, especially when its rough. Accept this because it's just part of it.

~You need to develop confidence that you're going to be just fine. I do think the best way to develop this confidence is really to expose yourself to rough conditions at every opportunity. I used to HATE rough ocean conditions. HATED THEM. But then I kept trying and eventually figured out to not fight it and accept it for what it is and then everything got better from there. Now I genuinely like rough conditions, but I think a lot of that is because I know I have a GIANT advantage over most competitors when its rough... because most people don't practice enough in the rough to learn how to positively embrace it.

~Some people complain about nausea or feeling 'sea sick'. Maybe not in every case, but in many cases, this is all in your head. As soon as you let your brain go negative (which is easy to do when you're being slapped in the face and are choking on salt water every time you attempt to breathe) you can start thinking all sorts of bad stuff and one of those things is about being nauseous. I've done this before too and if I start thinking about being nauseous, I totally get nauseous! The key there is to not even let those thoughts enter your head space. That goes along with the confidence I mentioned above. Being confident helps keep your head in the positive space.

All this might sound like swimming in small craft advisory conditions is a complete nightmare, but honestly, once you mentally accept it for what it is, it's super fun! Mark and I stayed in and body surfed a bit at the end, got pummeled a few times in white water crashing right over us, and got out feeling exhilarated! Mark's comment as we were walking to the showers was spot on... Well that was a hell of a lot more fun than a pool swim!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

When You Don't Feel Like Running

I'm definitely still carrying some excess fatigue. I don't think I'm in a deep hole or anything, but I'm just sort of tired, which is certainly to be expected given the running and lifting that has gone on recently. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn't really very sore this morning. Maybe a bit tight all over but no seriously sore muscles after that heavier lifting day yesterday.

I went for a social jog with my friend Nalani today. It wasn't a hard run but somehow when I run with people my HR is always at least 5 beats higher than it would be at that same pace if I were alone. Is that the chatter tax? Obviously I talk too much.

So I came back home and spent the rest of the afternoon working and decided to not go run again with Maia. I just didn't feel like running again. At all. But then 3:00 rolled around and Maia started bouncing around the house and looking at me with those eyes of hers and I just couldn't resist. She's only asking for 20 minutes, I told myself... Next thing I knew she was dragging me down the road- tongue out- happy as she could possibly be and on the hunt for cats- and I actually laughed out loud at myself. Really, if you lack in motivation to run, all you need is a dog who is addicted to her daily runs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chop Wood, Carry Water

This morning I jogged down to the pool for a short but solid swim session. Main set was only 1600m, done as 4 rounds, no extra rest between rounds:

250 steady @4:00
3x50's fast @:50

I swam ok, held pace even if it wore me out to do so. My swim fitness is declining at the moment but it's not the end of the world. That's just what happens when I only swim 6-8k/week.

At the end we tried to do the Top Hat Drill. I saw this video the other day and was super curious to try it and see if I could do it. Took me a few tries to learn how to breathe without losing the paddle, but I got the hang of it fairly quickly. It's not as hard as it looks like it would be. The key, I think, is carrying enough momentum, and breathing quick and early, which is how we should be breathing anyway. I did 2x50's without losing the paddle, which was cool. No flip turns in a long course pool, though I attempted a few turns, unsuccessfully. Looking back I think I wasn't doing them quick enough. You have to be quick about the flipping, just like you need to be quick about the breathing, to not lose the paddle. Anyway, fun drill! Give it a try sometime just for fun and let me know how it goes if you do! :)

Maia was dying to go run today since she didn't get to run yesterday. I was less excited to run. In good news she seemed to sense my energy and I kept repeating "Just jog! Just jog!" and it did feel like we went about as easy as we've ever gone and it felt fine to do that. Plus, we stopped a few times so she could smell cats.

Then I went to the gym. Sue posted another big strength session this morning which motivated me, so I put my girl pants on and lifted more than I've been lifting (24,000+). It feels a bit like cheating when you can use machines. Previously I'd been doing all my lifting in my side yard with a bar or dumbbells or a kettle bell or whatever, which I think is likely more functional. But if you want to lift a lot, you can do that with machines. I mean seriously, give me a lat pull down machine or a row and I can get a decent number out of that!! I walked out of the gym and felt like jello. For the sake of the Steel Challenge I might go back to the gym a few more times, but I'll likely keep the bulk of my strength stuff here at home. My issue today was that my legs just felt too tired to properly squat or deadlift. I needed to go do something different, so I did.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Long Progression

This morning started with a sunrise ocean swim at Kaimana Beach (in town). I used to swim there all the time but it's been a long time since I last did. Funny though, it hasn't changed and honestly this morning was really nice- water was glassy and clear and overall quite enjoyable. I wore my wetsuit so I wouldn't have to whine about being cold, plus, my friend who I was swimming with is faster than me so I figured the wetsuit would help me keep up (it did). I had the thought while I was swimming that it's interesting that 100% of my swim training partners are a notch or two faster than me. For whatever that's worth.

Instead of driving straight home, I went around the long way so I could make another attempt at the long run... Thinking it would be fun to run somewhere new for a change. I'm typically pretty lazy and end up always running from my house. I can be a bit of a hermit though so it's good for me to venture out. I started at Sandy Beach and ran into Waimanalo backroads. It was along this coast.
I should drive to runs more often.

I used my heart rate monitor as a leash the whole way out... la la la HR cap 150 which mean trotting pretty slowly and taking short walk breaks as necessary (up most hills). In the first few miles I let myself feel frustrated. I had a memory though from back in 2013 after Vegas 70.3WC... That was a shitty shitty race for me. The following week I remember strapping my HR monitor on and running 10 miles and it was eye opening b/c as the run went on, I was getting slower and my HR was getting higher. I actually came home and logged in my notes this giant A-HA! I was pretty proud of myself for discovering the problem- somehow even with all the insane hours of training I had done that year, my aerobic fitness was shit, which is why I was racing so poorly. But then my coach at the time wrote back and he said PUT YOUR HEART RATE MONITOR AWAY IT IS MESSING WITH YOUR HEAD. Um, what? I had just discovered concrete facts about my lack of aerobic fitness and probably should have listened to my gut back then but I didn't and I went along with the training program and finished out the year with another shitty Ironman where I fell completely apart. So given that memory, I slogged along and jogged and trotted and walked my way through 9 miles, keeping my HR in the 140's.

Then I turned around, and since I felt totally fine, decided to make it a bit of progression run and see what happened. It's been a while since I've done a controlled progression run like this so I was curious. I gifted myself 10 extra beats for the next 6 miles. And since my fitness is different now than it was back in 2013, that meant I got to run faster. :) I wasn't really micromanaging pace, but on avg it was ~45"/mile faster than the way out, which is about right for +10 beats. I still felt quite good, so at mile 15 I hid my water bottle that I had been carrying behind a rock (you know it's ON when I drop my water bottle), and gave myself another 10 beats for the last 3 miles. It was fun to jam home, long progression style, and finish ~90"/mile faster than I started!

I took off my shoes, garmin, HR monitor, visor, and iPod and went straight in the ocean when I was done. I do think floating around in salt water has got to be about the most enjoyable thing you can do post long run (assuming you wore Coeur Sports gear and don't have any chafing!)
I hadn't been in the water at Sandy Beach since I was in college (I know, right?!) It brought back all sorts of memories of Saturday mornings and being super hungover (sorry mom).

My legs are legit tired now and I have that pounded feeling for sure. I made the mistake of checking the Steel Challenge log and saw that Sue lifted big today and is now like 1000lbs ahead of me in the standings. Dammit. I'm gonna have to go to the gym tomorrow. If my legs don't recover overnight I'll be bench pressing a lot.

Monday, December 7, 2015


I still felt sort of sluggish today, so I took it rather easy. I did do another strength session (because I feel compelled to keep adding to my total in the Endurance Corner Steel Challenge). I'm up to 64K+ lbs moved in the last 8 days. I've found that requires a pretty high volume (and consistent sessions!) to make the numbers add up. If I was lifting heavy I don't think I'd be physically capable of hitting that kind of total volume because I'm just not strong enough- nor adapted to super heavy weights. I did up my dead lifts to 105lbs today. Did 4 sets of 8 of those which only totaled 3360lbs. I prob could have gotten a bigger total there had I stuck with 95lbs b/c I could have done like 4x12 and that would have been an additional ~1200lbs! These are the kinds of things one thinks about when playing silly games like this. It's not altogether different though from planning running volume vs intensity. If you keep intensity on the low side, you can run a lot and not get hurt or even really *that* tired. When you start adding intensity though, that limits total volume. Finding the right mix (given your goals and the time of year) is the key. I'm not as well versed in the strength training world so I can't say I really have any specific weight training goals, other than to post a high number on the board- without hurting myself nor limiting my running. So far so good. The fact is, I'm not going to win that challenge b/c several of the guys are quite strong and are lifting HUGE and have like 90K+ logged already. So my goal, really, is just to put up something respectable for a girl. #LikeAGirl

Afterward I jogged 3+ miles with Maia and it was a little easier/slower than yesterday which I think was fine/good. I'm going to try again tomorrow for the long run. I'm heading into town to ocean swim first thing with a friend of mine and afterward I am thinking about running from Hawaii Kai to Waimanalo (and back). It's a beautiful coastline that I have ridden my bike on a ton, but I've never run it. Doing something fun and different like that is intriguing and motivating and just the kind of thing I'm looking for right now. If I run that way, my view will look something like this.
Maia might get the day off tomorrow. We'll see?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Long Run "Fail"

My plan was to do a long run today... I was thinking 16-18 miles. On paper, given that long/hilly tempo effort yesterday, that was stupid. I think when you coach yourself its easy to think of yourself as invincible, as exempt from the standard 'rules', but as it turns out, I am not exempt. ;)

I did set out to run long, but by mile 4 I had made the decision to NOT slog through another couple of hours. Instead of taking the long way, I took the short way home, and ended up with ~7 miles, a bit more if you count the strides I did at the end trying to shake off the sluggishness. My HR wasn't high today- in fact, it was low. But my legs felt pounded and my turnover was slow and overall I just felt sluggish and without much desire to run anymore. Strides at the end almost always fix that, if I can make myself do them. Today I made myself do them.

There was a part of me that felt like today was a big giant FAIL, but I sort of think the bigger fail might have been to keep pressing on when I felt like garbage. Instead I came home, spent time with my family decorating our Christmas tree, then did a bunch of laundry and thoroughly cleaned most of my house (which I haven't done for a long time).

Later in the afternoon I played outside with my 45lb bar and logged another ~11,000lbs on the Big Steel Challenge board. I've figured out a few things this week regarding this challenge... 1) I like to be ranked toward the top of the list; 2) If I "only" log 10-12k in a session, I'm less likely to be super sore the next day which means I can lift again sooner (consistency!); 3) Given lesson #2, if I want to log the highest *total* that I can, 10-12k 5x/week will be better than 18-20k 2x/week. 4) Pull ups give a decent 'bang for my buck'. They count as body weight x reps, so 3 reps gets me just over 400lbs. This weekend I did a total of 11x3 (my pull-up bar is near my laundry room so every time I did a load...) 5) The Steel Challenge is super motivating for me!! I genuinely like the "competition" and absolutely will do more because of it. Maybe I should join Strava?? #NO

Later in the afternoon Maia was begging me to run so what the heck I laced up and we ran another ~30' this afternoon. I felt 100x better than I did in the morning. I would not have gone running again this afternoon had it not been for her beautiful loving and loyal eyes. She ran 6x for a total of ~18 miles this week! Her endurance is 100x better than it was 3 weeks ago. Her knowledge of where all the stray cats live is also quite keen.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Gardens Run

This morning I ran in the botanical gardens near my house. It's probably my favorite run, though only when I'm running well. If I'm not running at least moderately strong, the gardens run will kick my ass because the whole thing is short/steep up/down. Last time I did this run (early Nov) it kicked my ass. I wasn't running fast (at all) but it was just SO.HARD. My breathing was labored and my legs were shot and it was my 'wake up call' that I really needed to do something to fix my run fitness.

I avoid running back there when the goal is just to get in aerobic miles- unless I were to walk all the hills, there's no chance I could keep HR in 140's on this run. I typically avoid wearing my garmin when I run this route- I prefer to just go by feel- but here's the elevation profile from

I feel like I have a decent handle on aerobic HR right now, so this morning I headed back there with the intention of just running however I felt. I felt quite good, so I pushed the effort up a bit on the way home and ended up with a nice negative split and ~40' of quite solid tempo/strength effort. The difference between today vs a month ago was that today it was only hard when I was working hard on purpose. Plus, I finished ~5min quicker. Makes me feel like I'm on a decent track at the moment and it motivated me to stay on the path I'm on!

As I was running home today I was thinking that while I run slow/easy quite a lot, I'm actually not (at all) against running hard. I think the key is just placing those hard runs into the schedule appropriately, and only after I've 'earned' the baseline fitness to do them. It doesn't make sense to me to try to run hard when you're not fit- because then hard will be just hard- it won't also be fast. When you're fit, hard is (at least relatively) fast. When I've tried to build fitness the other way (starting with hard) it's backfired on me and hasn't worked.

This should be another solid mileage week. After I jog with Maia later today I'll have ~48 miles for the week (so far). Long/easy run tomorrow.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ocean Swim & HR Data Collecting Benchmark Session

Used to be that on Aloha Friday mornings we would ocean swim in Kailua. Most of the time it's just Mark and me. For a while (several months) we didn't go because 1-2x/week there was a reported shark siting or attack. These were happening on all shores of Oahu, but since Lanikai/Kailua was included in that, well, it effectively scared us away. I knew at some point I'd go back, though I wasn't sure when? Today was the day.
It was much colder than I remembered it being (last time we swam it was still summer and that El Nino thing is legit- ocean temps were WAY warmer this summer than normal). I would guess water was like 74-75 this morning, which should be fine but next time I'll wear a wetsuit so I won't have anything to whine about. I admit I had a little bit of concern getting in… wouldn't call it 'fear', just concern… but then as I was swimming I started thinking about how danger is everywhere, really. I mean a (seemingly) normal guy could come barging into any public place and shoot me with a gun at any time so I might as well take my chances with the sharks. Yes that's what I was thinking when I started swimming. As is most common, I had nothing to be concerned about this morning so we will bring back the Aloha Friday ocean swims again. :)

Afterward, since I was in Kailua where the land is flat as a pancake, I decided to run a sort of MAF Test. I pretty much despise the word 'test' when it comes to any training session… so really I thought of this more like a data collecting benchmark session, not a 'test'. A test seems so pass or fail. A benchmark session is just a check on where fitness currently stands.

Anyway, I strapped my HR monitor on and jogged a mile super easy, HR 130's (which for me is quite low), 10:07. Then into 4 straight miles HR 148-150. I went 9:16, 9:40, 9:53, 10:00. Def wasn't stoked about that fall-off in pace. To be honest, it wasn't nearly as bad as the fall off I experienced last spring when I did a few HR benchmark sessions just like this on the same stretch of road (back then I was falling off to 10:30+ pace!). I think it has more to do with my body not effectively dissipating heat than it does lack of fitness. Maybe that's wishful thinking? It's true though when I do a HR run inside on a treadmill where I have access to Osmo and temps are cooler I hardly slow down at all. Regardless, I opted to run the 6th mile at HR 158-160 just to get a data point on that HR and that mile was 8:46, a full 75seconds faster at just +10 beats (and it felt good). Usually I'd expect to see a pace change closer to 40"/mile for every 10 beats, so if 8:46 is HR160 pace, then 9:26 should be HR150 pace, and 10:06 should be HR140 pace. I think those numbers are pretty close, the issue is just the drop off as my body heats up. Not exactly sure how to fix that other than to actively work on cooling myself down, which I didn't do at all today (i.e. had no fluids during that 6 mile run).

Back in 2011/2012 when I raced faster I could run 9:00-9:15 pace at HR 150 so I'd like to get back to that point. Gonna spend Dec running mostly aerobic HR 140's then I'll get another benchmark and see if there's been a change?

My legs are still sore all over so I didn't take Maia running this afternoon. We went for a walk instead, which she didn't mind because she knows where the stray cats live and she went straight to them and stalked them until they were out of sight (up a tree or back in the woods). Maia is OBSESSED with chasing cats outside, which makes it even more funny that she will stand aside and lets Ozzie eat her food.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Boring Swim Sets, Big Steel Challenge, and Pee Sticks

Sometimes (ok often), endurance training is not very exciting. I think athletes like to talk all about their fast/hard workouts but the reality is that the bulk of the work we do is fairly monotonous and boring.

I didn't get in the pool for ~5 days. I could tell you all the logistical reasons why but the truth is that I just prioritized other stuff ahead of swimming (my choice, it's almost always a choice, even when it doesn't initially appear to be). It's not normal for me to do that so I don't stress about it, but when I got back in the water yesterday I didn't expect to feel great (consequence of my choices, I can accept that). Rather than getting to do something fun and fast, we just knocked out a moderate volume aerobic set.

1000 easy w/u then main set all off 50"/50 base send-off, no extra rest between rounds:
3x150's; 3x100's; 3x50's
2x150's; 3x100's; 6x50's
1x150; 3x100's; 9x50's

It was steady and fine and I held it together well enough and as I was jogging home I had the thought that I could probably get away with swimming 1-2x/week and not really slow down very much. I won't take that route for a few reasons: 1) I genuinely enjoy swimming, mostly b/c of the people I swim with and 2) I think swim fitness (or lack thereof) shows itself later in the day if you're racing a triathlon so even if I only lost a minute on the swim itself, I'd likely lose more time later in the day simply from being overly fatigued.

Funny that is my view on swim fitness and yet I haven't been on my bike in at least a month now.

My legs were (are) still quite sore from lifting heavy things on Monday. I didn't run much yesterday other than jog commute to the pool then a short dog jog in the afternoon. I did however do another lifting session, maybe against my own better judgement... but I'm a sucker for silly online competitions and since I'm in one right now with the Big Steel Challenge, I did the session and for sure did at least twice as much as I would have had I not been logging it online. Whether that's good or bad is yet to be determined. Walking is uncomfortable today but jogging with Maia this morning was tolerable and I will head out this afternoon on my own and see how far I can reasonably go.

Talking trash on Twitter is fun and probably the real reason I am participating in the Steel Challenge.

In other news, a few of my local athletes and I had the chance to have dinner with Stacy Sims last night. I knew she was smart but damn, she pretty much blew our minds with all the stuff she said... I took pages and pages of notes and am still trying to process it all. Really I think I could have sat there for several more hours and just let her talk. She did say she's in the final stages of writing a book that's supposed to come out in February so I'll have that on pre-order I'm sure. In the meantime, per Stacy's advice, I just ordered a bunch of pee-sticks and am going to start experimenting with those.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Running Tantalus & Non-Stop Girl Talk

Today I ran Maia in the morning. Our routine, if I am not swimming, is that we walk Moana down to the bus stop then when the bus comes we go for our jog. I think she is figuring out pacing on our runs b/c she pulls less now in the beginning and finishes stronger than she used to. She's a smart dog.

Then I drove into town and met Stacy Sims for a run up/around Tantalus. It's a decent sized mountain, about 5 miles up then 5 miles down, about 1500 ft elevation at the top I think. Lots of switchbacks. Gorgeous scenery. Very lush/green.
I'd never met Stacy in person before but we've exchanged lots of Facebook messages and she has helped me (and my team!) out tremendously, educating us about hydration and fueling for exercise performance and recovery (read, she created Osmo and it has changed my life). I've been such a fan of hers for such a long time… listening on on every podcast she does and trying to learn as much as I can. So naturally I was super excited to have the opportunity to run/chat with her today! We did not stop talking from the second we met it was non-stop chitter-chatter all the way up/down. It was so refreshing to have an intelligent conversation with someone who truly understands physiology and a woman's hormonal cycle. I think in the past a lot of people have thought that I was a head case about how my performance would tank right before my period starts- like I've been imaging it or something? I've been tracking it for ~4 years now though and have figured some stuff out about how my body functions at different times of the month and explaining it all to Stacy was quite validating b/c she was like yep yep yep and she explained the physiology right back to me. 

There was so much good energy in that run I hardly even noticed how much my legs hurt. They hurt now. All over. I think the 100x kettle bell swings yesterday combined with all the running I have done recently is finally taking its toll. It's a good kind of fatigue though and I like it!
Half way up the mountain we were running and some guy drove up to us with his window down and was like "Hey do you ladies lift weights?" Ha! Um, yes. "Has anyone told you that you're beautiful?" Not today, buddy! Thanks for the compliment now scurry along we have a lot of talking to do...

Monday, November 30, 2015

Months End

It's been a while since I've really focused on volume as a metric. For a while there I started to believe those people who say that volume isn't the thing we should measure, but need to focus on intensity and recovery and that's the way to improve. Well, maybe for some people that's how it works. Volume is what works for me. 100% I believe that the more I run, the better I feel running. There must be a limit at some point, where more is no longer more, but I haven't found that point for myself yet. The same holds true for swimming and cycling, and I've proven this to myself several times over the last ~6 years but somehow allowed myself to be swayed in recent years. I'll look at that as having an ability to be open minded and having a willingness to try things a different way.

Today was mostly a recovery day. Just an easy 30' jog with the dog. It felt exceptionally smooth and easy/relaxed. No struggle at all even up the hill to my house. I also did a decent amount of lifting of some heavy things this morning (in particular, a kettle bell, a medicine ball, a big bar, and some weight plates). More on that in another post.

November was a 'Back to Basics' month for me. I ran almost exclusively by HR, keeping it low. For whatever reason I hesitate to call it MAF, but that's essentially what it was. I did a little bit of tempo running and some strides here and there (maybe 1-2x/week) but the vast majority of my miles this month were HR 140's, which for me means easy running. I think when you're going for volume, you (I) have to do the bulk of it easy easy. I just added up miles for November. I ran 237. I think that might be my biggest month ever? It's also possibly the most I've truly enjoyed running in quite some time. My plan is to keep up the bigger volume for another month or so, then we'll see where I'm at and figure out how to progress from there.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Durability Project

As I was heading out for my 2nd run today (the dog jog, starring Maia and now including Moana on her bike), I was thinking that it was really going to be quite the durability type run for me. I ran long this morning and didn't feel great at all. I've been increasing my overall run volume recently, mostly via frequency vs single long runs. Long runs still tend to take a legit bite out of my legs even though the shorter ones really don't. Anyway, I took my pounded legs out this evening for 2.5 miles of hilly fartlek style intervals… Maia is attached at my waist with a race belt and an old bike tube. When she smells a cat, we sprint. When Maia has to poop, we jog easy easy, then stop- sometimes very suddenly- while she poops on the sidewalk. At the top of every hill we stop and wait for Moana. On the downhills when Moana coasts ahead, we sprint. (Turns out, Maia is quite competitive and likes to lead our runs, so having Moana out front is unacceptable.)

It was interesting to me that at the end of that run I felt 100x better than I did before we started.

I ran 11 times this week for a total of almost 60 miles. 7 of those runs were 3.5 miles or less. I think the short frequent runs are quite good for durability, which is good because I have some goals for 2016 that are going to require a high level of durability.

In other news, this picture wasn't taken at my house, but it totally could have been. Add a white chicken (and 2 guinea pigs) and this is pretty much it!

Saturday, November 28, 2015


I was planning on doing a short little run/swim biathlon this morning, but bailed at the last minute. I had a lot of excuses, some of them maybe valid. Wanna hear all my excuses?

~My dermatologist had his way with me on Wednesday, cutting out 8x basal cell spots. He suggested I stay out of the ocean for a week or so, for fear of infection risk. Had this been my only excuse I don't think it would have been enough to keep me out of the race, but combined with everything else, it was probably the tipping point.

~I was up at midnight cleaning up projectile vomit off Moana's body, clothes, hair, bed, and floor. A sick kid would definitely be a valid excuse to skip a race, especially just a little race that you don't care about. Turns out, she's pretty much fine today with energy levels near normal, but I didn't know this would be the case when I shut my alarm off at 5:30AM.

~Last night when I went to bed my throat felt a little scratchy. Not terrible, but just felt like my immune system was fighting something off. This morning I felt the same way and spent several hours sneezing and blowing my nose. I figured it was possible that a hard effort (for example, a 5K run) would throw me over the edge into full sickness. Or maybe it wouldn't have. I don't think I was imagining it, but I feel pretty much fine now so it turned out to be nothing.

Instead of racing, I slept until 7AM when Maia woke me up asking for breakfast. I drank a cup of coffee then took her for a walk where she clearly wanted to hunt for something in the woods. Later I went for an aerobic jog ~80minutes. I figured it would be pretty slow b/c my HR would likely be elevated since I wasn't feeling 100%. Indeed, on avg I was ~20"/mile slower than I did that same run earlier in the week at the same HR. Not concerned a bit about that b/c I have a clear understanding of what was up. I actually thought it was going to be worse so only 20"/mile off was a pleasant surprise. I do firmly believe that in the physical state I was in this morning, aerobic running wouldn't hurt me. A hard threshold effort very well might have. Knowing these things and being confident enough to make decisions about what's best on any given day feels pretty cool.

I'll probably take Maia on a dog jog later this afternoon. The wind is howling today but for the first time in ~10 days, it's not raining. She's stretching now.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

I've been thinking that I want to start updating this blog more frequently again. I think blogging is easier when you do it a lot b/c then you're less overwhelmed at all the stuff you could potentially write about. :)

It's Black Friday. I'm not much of a shopper, but I did buy some new bathing suits and a new espresso machine that were on sale. Our espresso machine died the other day and it was really sad. I would have bought a new machine immediately but I had a feeling if I just waited a few days I'd save some money. Indeed, waiting 3 days saved me $45. Worth it to miss my morning espresso? Debatable.

Yesterday I ran our local Turkey Trot. It's super fun- 10 Mile "Guess Your Time" run and many in our local running community turn up. It's $7 and they give you a popsicle stick where you write your estimated finish time. No watches allowed. I've done this one a bunch of times over the years but haven't really 'raced' it since 2011. The night before I went back through my training logs to see what I ran the last few years (to give me an idea what I should guess)... I found 1:29:10 and 1:32:30. I've been running a fair amount recently but almost all relaxed/aerobic (read: walking up hills to keep HR low). I figured I could run at least as fast as last year, where I noted that I jogged easy for ~6 miles then felt good and ran strong the last ~4. So yesterday I guessed 1:32:00 which made me comfortable to the point where I didn't feel any pressure. I jogged super easy to start for the first maybe 2 miles, then as I started to feel better I picked up the effort. I had a feeling I was below 1:32 pace but since my legs felt good and my breathing was 100% controlled I opted to go for the long tempo effort and finished in 1:30:06. It was fun and a stronger workout than I would have done on my own. Had I guessed 1:30 flat I might have won a pie. Live and learn!

The rest of the day was social and centered around eating and drinking. All summer/fall I didn't drink much alcohol at all but recently I've been pretty liberal with the wine. I woke up this morning and my first thought was that I needed to cut back on my alcohol consumption, but then I remembered that tonight is another party with friends. Maybe tomorrow I'll go dry.

This morning we swam (as is standard M-W-F mornings). Good group this morning- Once again I was the weak link which is fine by me most of the time. We did a main set of 5x400's pull @6:20 (lcm), descend 1-5. Funny- you tell a set like that to non-swimmers and they're like um, no thank you. Tell it to lifelong swimmers and they just want clarification about whether or not the descend is within the 400 or across the set. I was in the mix for the first 1-2 as no one was going that hard yet (6:07/6:03) then the effort picked up. I hit 5:53 on the 3rd one and wasn't in the same zip code as Lectie, Mark, or Hudson. Then the trash talk started (this is the best part of swimming with swimmers). The 4th rep in a set of descend 1-5 is tricky bc it's going to be hard but you have to save another gear for the last one... I hit 5:49 which I was quite happy with but again was no where near my compadres. I joked with them about the racing they were doing and Hudson said no the racing hadn't started yet (ha!). Lectie took the boys to school on the last one I don't know what she swam but I finished in 5:42 (happy with that!) and I'd guess she had at least 25" on me, maybe more. I was gaining on Mark who'd spent all his pennies on the 4th one trying to keep up. In fairness, we had paddles and Mark did not. He reminds us about this (cheaters!) when he starts getting tired. Afterward we hung out and ate left over coffee cake and it was delicious.

I have to say, I'm really enjoying training at the moment. It feels fun. A lot of it I am sort of making up as I go along (What feels like the right thing to do today? What is fun?) and I've been running a lot with Maia which is also super cool. Having her has added ~15 miles/week to my running mileage (bonus!). She's pretty fast for the first 2 miles or so then tends to get tired and runs beside me instead of in front of me. Our new favorite loop is 3.25 miles and I'm going to take her on it right now.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Who Rescued Who?

You know how once you start to get an idea in your head, the thoughts grow and grow until you just figure out how to make it happen? That's pretty much how we ended up with Maia.
I haven't been riding my bike much (ok, at all) for the last few weeks and that has left me with some extra time on my hands. I tried filling that time with extra running, but there's only so much running I can do without sending my calves on strike. I just had this persistent thought that I would make a good dog mom… and every day I woke up with the desire to have one that much stronger. Every time I saw someone post a picture of their dog, or saw a dog playing at the beach, or running with his/her owner, I just kept thinking I WANT ONE OF THOSE.

Long story short, I had my eyes and ears open looking for a dog that needed a good home. While puppies are adorable, I knew I didn't need a puppy. In fact, I sort of figured an adult dog might be better b/c of the whole potty training thing. I mean, I could have done that of course, but not having to was pretty appealing.

Anyway, I found a post on Craigslist for this Rhodesian Ridgeback dog that had been found on the side of the road… The folks who found her had been fostering her but she needed a forever home. I did some research on Ridgebacks and basically this is what I found: Great runners. Don't shed much. Don't bark much. Really smart. Like to eat. :) All of the pictures I found of Ridgebacks showed them as being brownish/red so I figured this dog was a mix of some sort which was 100% fine with me. A friendly loyal dog who wanted to run was really what I was looking for!

So I answered the ad on Craigslist expressing my desire for this dog and then couldn't sleep that night. The next morning I got a reply back saying that of all the people who responded, it sounded like our home would be the best. We arranged to go meet the dog that night and I was beside myself with anticipation! I went straight to PetSmart and walked around in a daze at all the options of things to buy for a dog… I didn't go crazy and just bought the basics… food/water bowls, collar, leash, food, dog bed, a toy and some treats. Scott came home that evening and was like You bought a dog bed?? We haven't even met the dog!? Ok so maybe I was a bit impulsive but I just wanted to be prepared. The thing was, Scott wasn't as mentally prepared to have a new dog yet. His dog, Hoku, who he had from a puppy for 14 years, passed away last year and emotionally that was quite hard on him and he wasn't sure he was ready to do it again yet. I knew though that he could love another dog again. 

We drove to the other side of the island to meet this dog… She came running out and immediately came right to my feet and rolled over on her back! It was pretty much the sweetest thing ever, love at first sight, and 30' later she jumped right in our car no questions asked and we were driving her home. She slept on my lap the whole time.

The adjustment has been about as easy as I could have possibly imagined. I think I figured that I would have to earn the trust of this dog, but I didn't have to at all. She bonded with me instantly. She is so friendly, loves people, and wags her tail all the time! Just a dog full of joy. She does cower at times, which makes me so sad to see… I think it's clear that she was not treated well at some point in her life because she has some real fears (she is quite afraid of dog toys, especially ones that squeak- simply the sight of one makes her attempt to get out of the room). That makes me so sad and I can't imagine for a second how anyone could ever be mean to a dog like this. 

My biggest concern about bringing a dog into our family was that we have three chickens and a cat (and 2 guinea pigs, but they are in cages so no worries there)… But even that part has been a non-issue. Ozzie (our cat) and Maia did have a surprise confrontation at 3AM the first night Maia was home- she was sleeping (in her new bed!) when Ozzie came in… Maia barked and tried to get Ozzie, Ozzie used his claws on Maia's nose, Maia yelped then chased Ozzie up the stairs and straight out his cat door, and my adrenaline shot through the roof… I had some fears that Ozzie wouldn't want to come home anymore, but those were unfounded. As I type this, Ozzie is in my lap and Maia is at my feet, both sleeping peacefully. Ozzie is clearly the dominant animal in this house, Maia seems fine with that, and everyone is happy. (Maia hasn't seen our chickens yet, but she has seen wild chickens on the side of the road as she isn't interested in them.)

Anyway, it feels like Maia has brought so much joy into our house. She's only been here for like 4 days but she is already completely part of the family. She's a stud runner- I've taken her 3x now on the same 2.2 mile loop and she pulls me along the whole way! I'm guessing she hasn't done a lot of leashed running so I don't want to overwhelm her with too much too soon, but I'm sure I'll get a bonus 10-15 miles a week running with her simply because it's such a fun thing to do to take this dog running. Most of the time she does a great job staying focused and running straight, but it's pretty clear that she was used as a hunter in her previous life because sometimes she insists on taking breaks to stop and smell the feral cats along the way.

It's been interesting to get some comments on my Facebook posts about her… Friends thanking me for rescuing this dog… I totally get what they mean but you know what? As good as it feels to give this dog the home she deserves, the joy we get back is so real that it doesn't feel like it's any 'sacrifice' at all. That phrase 'Who Rescued Who?' is legit. Bringing Maia into our family has been one of the best decisions I've made in a long time!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

On Searching for Peace… And Not Finding It. (Ironman Louisville 2015)

I feel like I need to preface this post with a comment about how it comes from the perspective of an athlete who has been racing Ironman for 18+ years. Sometimes I read blogposts written by athletes newer to the sport and it makes me a bit jealous at how they define and feel success… Like when you're newer to the sport, improvement somehow comes more readily… vs 18 years later, finding improvement can be like trying to squeeze blood from a rock. Anyway, here's the perspective 18 years later. I hope it doesn't come across as me being too jaded. I do tend to be quite hard on myself. 

I have a vivid memory from the finish line of Ironman Cozumel in 2013. Nalani had a good/satisfying race there and she said, "I'm at peace." I didn't feel the same way. While I'd gotten myself to the finish line, I didn't do so in a way that felt like I'd had "a good day". That was frustrating to me because I felt like I'd earned the right via hard training to have a good day... One of the reasons I feel attracted to Ironman is that, for the most part, you get out what you put in. But then again, not always.

I waited almost 2 years before going after Ironman again. I think I needed a whole year (2014) to get over the disappointment of my race results in 2013. This year, I felt hungry again. I felt ready to train and I was motivated and all year I did the work. I dotted my i's and crossed my t's and with Marilyn's help, got myself to the start line of this race feeling fit and healthy and rested and ready. I really had no excuses which left me feeling quietly confident that I was set up to have a stellar day out there on that Louisville course. Deep down what I wanted was to finally feel like I could be at peace with the Ironman distance. I'd done this Ironman thing 14x before and while some of those races had been decent, none left me with the feeling of YES! I DID IT! That was the feeling I was seeking. 
Because of the concern about the possibility of toxins and bacteria in the Ohio River, I didn't do the practice swim the day before the race. It just didn't make sense to risk getting sick when I was feeling totally healthy. While I knew I would feel better on race day if I had the opportunity to get familiar with that water first, I opted to play it safe which meant winging it on race morning. And while I would guess that *most* would be like Wow great swim! (57:40), I definitely expected more from myself (my swimmer friends understand!). I felt sloppy while I was swimming (having not swam in my long sleeve wetsuit for who knows how long!?! Years. My fault, yes, but in my defense it was freaking HOT this summer!). I thought lining up middle/back of that time trial start would be fine and swimming around people who started ahead would be fine, but in reality I felt like I did the whole swim head up tarzan style b/c the brown water didn't allow me to see anyone without lifting my head.  Excuses excuses it is what it is and I got out of the water not knowing my time but thinking that it wasn't great… but whatever. It was fine and I wasn't tired and that's all I felt like I needed from my Ironman swim. If I could go back and change anything about my execution of this race, I would have done the practice swim the day before and lined myself up more toward the front. While I can't say I really enjoyed swimming in the Ohio river, it was fine and the 'nastiness' of the water was really over-hyped. ("Fine" seems to be the appropriate description of that swim.)

In T1 I opted to put on my vest b/c I felt cold. Looking back I think I probably could have gotten away with no vest, but again, fine. I did stop briefly on the bike at ~mile 35 and donated that vest to some spectators. :)

Onto the bike I remember thinking that I really felt no sense of 'urgency'. First 10 miles were fairly flat and I was just riding. Not super easy but not hard at all and people were FLYING by me like I was riding backwards and all I could think was have you people not ever heard about how important it is to pace yourself in an Ironman?!? I was definitely holding myself back there but it felt like the right thing to do and I kept reminding myself that this is a LONG day and that being patient early on was important. Did I hold back too much?? Maybe. I don't know. I race by feel so I don't have any concrete data to look back on and tell me if I was doing the right thing or if I was just being a pussy. I did feel like I was getting stronger as the ride went on. I fueled and hydrated well (~1800 cal & ~7x bottles of Osmo & water), peed 3x. I felt better on the 2nd loop than I did on the first, and in the last 20-30 miles when we had a decent headwind I was still happy enough, thinking that the end of most of my training rides I have a headwind stronger than what we had there. In the last 10 miles I caught back up to a couple of gals in my age group who had passed me in the first 10 miles so that was reassuring that my pacing strategy had been good. I had been glancing at my watch when I saw mile markers but wasn't micro-managing it… the running time on my watch though seemed loooong to me b/c it was saying it was almost 7 hours into the race by the time I got off the bike… to be completely honest I was expecting to be off the bike more like 6.5 hours into the race but I've been around long enough to know that some days are slower than others so I really tried to let it go and kept convincing myself I was doing well. Physically I'd say I felt ok at the end of the bike, except for the fact that my eyes weren't focusing anymore. I was seeing double and it was weird and I had a feeling it was due to being in that aero position for so long… like maybe an optic nerve was impaired or something? That was disconcerting and it made me want to be done riding for sure. Otherwise, I really had no problems on the bike. My Cervelo worked flawlessly and as I rolled into T2 I was grateful for my mechanical luck!
I have to say, that Louisville bike course was pretty awesome. Much of it had recently been repaved so for the most part we were riding on super smooth roads… Fun hills like roller coasters going up/down for the bulk of it. This course is advertised as 'rolling' but that's a bit deceiving. There are some legit hills on this course and a few that were short but very punchy and required some WATTS to get up/over. Because of the nature of the course, riders had to go out of their way to draft. That didn't stop some from trying- I didn't see any big pelotons like you see on flatter courses, but there were a bunch of little groups of 3-4 riders- including some women in my AG- working together (cheating!) and that was frustrating- if unfortunately standard- at times. On the plus side, I think I did about the best job I've ever done of not giving any of my energy away to that (Look Mom! No swearing!). Toward the end of the ride when I was sort of trying to calculate splits, I knew mine wasn't anywhere near my fastest (at 5:51 it was actually my slowest in probably 10 years?) but I did feel a sense of pride that it was 100% mine with no draft assistance from any other riders.

Finally after what felt like forever I got off my bike and as soon as I stood up I was able to see again, so that confirmed to me that the vision issue had more to do with being aero and wasn't about hydration or anything like that. (Phew!) T2 felt like it took forever but ~5' later I had taken care of business and was out on the run course. Right away I saw Scott and he ran with me for maybe a minute as I was chatting his ear off about how the bike felt (LONG!). Then he left me on my own and I settled in for the long run. I really tried to just turn my brain off and don' On purpose I held way back that first mile, just trying to get my legs under me and steel myself to the fact that I was going to run every damn step of that marathon. Somewhere in that first mile I saw Marilyn as well but I had turned my brain off by then and I did not recognize her! When you're wearing your name on your bib number a lot of people you don't know cheer for you by name and I felt like I couldn't acknowledge everyone who yelled GO MICHELLE!! but after I passed Marilyn I was like hmmm… I think that was my coach?!? Lol. When I saw her a few miles later though I perked up and was able to smile and tell her I was all good.

The first 13 miles went by just like that and before I knew it I was back near the finish and smiling like crazy b/c so many people were around and I saw Moana and Scott and my mom and Moana made sure to point out my name she'd proudly drawn on the road in chalk… 
It was all super fun at that point and I was stoked thinking YES I AM DOING IT and while I knew maybe my swim+bike weren't exactly stellar today, I had the thought that I was going to salvage this race with a decent run at least! I still hadn't walked at all- not even through aid stations- and I really felt about as okay as one could feel at mile 13 of an Ironman marathon. It made me think that maybe my relatively "slow" bike was a good thing...
After that it started to get harder but my self talk was (mostly) still quite positive… telling myself stuff like yep this gets hard which is why it feels like such a great accomplishment at the end… I could feel myself slowing a bit but was still running every step so it was fine. I had my watch on but I never looked at it b/c I genuinely like to run these long races by feel, just constantly assessing the pace/effort by feel… Is this a pace/effort I can keep up all day? Yes. Can/should I go faster? No. That's all I really needed to know. When the negative thoughts started coming in stronger around mile 15-16 (This is stupid. Ironman is stupid.) I combatted them by taking in more sugar… then the negative thoughts would subside (at least briefly). Somewhere around mile 18 I really had to go to the bathroom. TMI probably on this but one of my worries before the race was that I was not on my regular bathroom schedule (6 hour time change from HI to OH meant I was pooping in the afternoon vs morning each day)… So when I saw the porta-potty I knew I needed to use it and was trying to figure out if it would count that I still "ran every step" if I stopped and used the bathroom? I decided that if I started running again right away after that yes it would still count. I wasn't having a problem in the bathroom, it was just normal business in there (my stomach was fine all day), but it prob took ~2minutes. I don't know I didn't time it. But resuming running again after was VERY hard b/c my legs were hurting pretty badly by that point.

It was about a mile later that I got the first twinges of cramping, and not long at all after that when my adductor just completely seized up. If you've experienced an adductor seize like this you know what I mean- it's not possible to run through. Shoot- it wasn't possible to walk through! GAH! It just sucked. I was almost at the far turn-around but I couldn't even make forward progress b/c I was just stopped there bent over stretching and waiting for this thing to relax. This is not the first time I've had this happen in races, in fact it happens with a fair amount of regularity. 19 miles is actually the furthest along I've gotten before it has happened so if there's one positive to take away its that… but still… UGH. Again I don't know how long I was stopped- several minutes I think before I could walk, and while I was bummed to be walking, it felt like a better option than standing or sitting, and those were essentially my other options at that point (Quitting was never an option- it honestly never crossed my mind). A couple times I tried jogging but immediately I could feel the seizing coming back on, and then I was pissed. And then I was sad because there it went I couldn't even salvage this race with a decent marathon… And then I was pissed again. It all sort of spiraled out of control at that point and then I started thinking my swim was not great, my bike was slow (for me), and even without extending myself too far swim/bike I still couldn't pull off running 26 miles. I suck at this. Ironman is not for me. I am done even trying.  All that training and I still can't do it. Those were the super fun thoughts going through my brain from mile 20-22ish. 

Then I saw Marilyn. She yelled at me to RUN and at that point I just burst out into tears. For sure that was the low point in my day because it felt like not only am I letting myself down, I am letting her down as well. I sort of remember telling her "I can't". It really didn't feel like lack of will at that point- it felt like mechanical malfunction. I was watching all these other athletes run by me and their legs were working (so jealous!) and I was just like WHY WON'T *MY* LEGS WORK?? I think somewhere around mile 23 Marilyn came back and told me to jog 5 steps walk 5 steps. Jog 5 steps walk 5 steps. I tried that and was somewhat capable so then she said jog 10 steps walk 5 steps… Ok not capable of that. It was like I could jog 6-8 steps then felt cramping coming on so 6-8 steps at a time was my max. I think I settled on a 6/6 pattern that went jog 6 steps walk 6 steps jog 6 steps walk 6 steps and I did that the rest of the way in. I think having that task to focus on at least kept my brain from spiraling out of control about how much I was sucking at this.

To be honest I was worried about the finish line b/c with all those people surrounding you... How does one not RUN on that red carpet with all that loud spunky music and so many people cheering for you? I knew if I tried to jog more than ~8 steps my legs would just give out on me, so I didn't really have a plan for how I was going to tackle that finish line. 

Somewhere around mile 26 was actually the highlight of my day… One of my really good friends from high school (Scott P, not to be confused with my husband Scott) had told me that was going to come out for my finish (He lives in Louisville and was the one who planted the seed in my brain years ago to do this race one day) and as I was approaching the turn before the finish line, there he was, smiling with his arms stretched out ready to give me a big hug and that was so exactly what I needed at that point. I had long been done "racing" or even caring at all what the clock said (11:49, it turns out, over an hour slower than I was hoping to go), so when I saw Scott I just stopped and stood there and I let him hug me and we just talked… and he laughed with me and agreed that Ironmans are long and stupid and at the time that was funny and then eventually he was like you need to go to the finish line! Oh ya… so I can't remember if I resumed my walk/jog thing or not, but Scott told me where my family was on the right hand side near the finish so I stopped again when I saw them and hugged all of them and then I think I attempted to trot across the line but I stumbled and almost fell flat on my face. In all honesty that would have been a classic ending to this Ironman. My legs hadn't been functioning for the last 7 miles so its not surprising to me that they didn't function at the finish line either.

I spent some time after the race feeling really sad and frustrated but mostly confused. I feel like I know what it takes to prepare for and execute a good Ironman race. Shoot- I have taught tons of athletes how to do it over the years! But when its my turn to give it a shot, my legs fail me. Cramping on the run aside, why the hell did I ride so slow?? It didn't feel like I was soft-pedaling, my brakes weren't rubbing (I checked!), execution of the ride felt strong/solid… At least on the swim I could say ya I felt sloppy so when the split shows that it makes sense (that makes it easy to let go!). On the bike I felt like I was working as hard as I should have but the split being 15-20' slower than I think it should have been is just flat out baffling… Until I consider that actually, every race I've done the last few years I've felt like effort on the bike was good/solid but my split was slower than what I would have expected for the effort. The problem is that I have this memory of being quite strong/fast on the bike (because I used to be!) and I still think of myself as that strong cyclist but my race results these last few years tell a different story, so I don't know. I thought my training on the bike had been good but apparently not good enough to meet my own expectations of myself on race day. Coach keeps encouraging me to not compare myself to other athletes (or even to the athlete I used to be) but I find that to be nearly impossible to do… The bike used to be a place where I could gain time on people and I still think of it like that but the reality is that recently it's been a place where not only am I not gaining time but I am actually losing time and yikes that just does not sit well with me. Do I need to change my mindset and expectations to meet my new reality? Do I just accept this situation that I'm just not the cyclist I used to be? Am I too old now? (I don't think so!!) Coach also continually encourages me to race with a power meter but interestingly I find myself resistant to that. I know it would make analyzing the race afterward easier, but I've never raced with power (I train with an old/heavy power tap) and I've had some really solid bike splits in the past (there I go again living in the past!) so I know it's possible to put together a good ride by feel. Plus, getting a new power meter would require a hefty investment $$$ and at this stage in the game for me I'm not sure it's a viable option. Maybe I'm just an old dog in this regard. 

The reality is that the way I felt on that ride last week makes me think that what I did was actually the best I could have done that day… so how can I be upset if I did the best I could? Well, I guess I'm just not satisfied with the fact that 5:51 is my best effort. It's all relative I know. But in my head I am a 5:30 IM biker (4x I've ridden 5:3x so I don't think I'm delusional in this regard). I don't know if that makes sense but therein lies my frustration with my recent riding.

So what now? I'm not sure yet. Its tough b/c I have been feeling like I am nearing the end of my Ironman days. I'd really just like to wrap up this ironman phase (the 18 year "phase" I've been in since 1997) and my hope was that this day in Louisville would wrap things up for me in a way that would leave me feeling satisfied. The reality is that Ironman takes a toll on my family (I don't half ass Ironman training). It's also super expensive b/c racing one requires not only a ridiculous entry fee but also a long trip to the mainland (or to another country)… I'm trying to figure out if I can be happy putting Ironman to bed knowing that I have not reached my potential at the distance? I want to be at peace with it, but I am not at peace with it. So shit, do I really have to go through all this again? And if I do, what do I need to change to get myself physically to a place where I could execute a super long day and finish feeling like I DID IT!!? I truly thought I had it right this time… Trained long/hard but not so long/hard that I felt like I was in any deep holes… I felt rested for the race. I was consistent with ZERO injuries this year, hardly ever got sick, ate appropriately clean, etc. I don't have the answers to these questions. I don't know if I am going to try it again. I'm experienced enough to know that I should never say never (though of course I said NEVER AGAIN at the finish line on Sunday- my family wanted it on record!)… I do enjoy training so I can see myself training and staying in reasonable shape and doing shorter races even if I don't do another Ironman… I don't know. 

I'd say that finding 'peace' with ironman might be too elusive but Nalani got her peace so I know it is actually possible. So the question becomes, What do I need to do to be at peace with Ironman? Are my expectations of myself too high? Have I already hit my peak so will be unable to be the athlete I once was? My gut says I still have a good Ironman in me. It's just a matter of figuring out if/when/how/where/why to pull it out.