Sunday, December 4, 2016

Double Roughwater Swim (2016)

The ocean is like a box of chocolates. 
You never know what you're going to get...

I've lost count of how many times I've done the Double Roughwater swim? Maybe 8 or 9 times? (edit- I looked it up- I've done it every year they've heard it since 2006, so this was my 9th year!) I can't remember. I think I missed one year, and then last year they didn't put it on. I can't remember why? Maybe because there were shark attacks like every week through the fall so no one wanted to swim in the ocean. Anyway, most years since 2006 I've done this 4.5 mile swim in December.

I was glad to have this swim on my calendar this year because it gave me a nice goal to focus on when I couldn't run for 3 months. I've been pretty consistent with my swimming recently. Most of the last 2 months I've swam 16-20k/week.

It seemed like we had decent conditions this morning. Light winds means the water is glassy and that's always quite pleasant!
The race director describes this race as an "Equal Opportunity Swim"... meaning if there's a current (usually there is), we get to go against it one way and with it the other way. He also describes the ocean as a potentially dangerous place, with "big fish and things that sting". He finishes every pre-race talk with "If you have any concerns, don't swim." I love that.

Anyway, we each have our own individual escorts and once again, Scott was mine. The fact that we have done this together so many times before allows me to feel super confident. He knows where to be (in front of me and slightly off to the right) and who to follow for the best line, etc. We heard there was a head current going out so we decided to try to take an inside line on the way out. I think we did a good job of that, but yikes that current was still legit. At times I'd look at the bottom and see that I wasn't really moving forward. My strategy in scenarios like these is to not look at the bottom. :) I just keep swimming as strong as I can and trust that eventually, at some point, I'll get to the turn-around marker. I felt like I was swimming very strong and knew that there was nothing else I could do to move along any faster, so I just sort of tried to not think about anything other than meditating on my stroke/effort in each moment. Eventually that channel marker buoy did come into view. I made my way around it then stopped for a minute or so to down a Honey Stinger gel and drink some NBS fluid.

Somebody shoot me I've become one of those triathletes who swims swim races with her garmin. Blame my desire to upload everything to Strava... lol

When I was stopped I saw that there was literally NO ONE swimming near me. Scott said there were a handful of swimmers pretty far ahead, and everyone else was sort of far behind me. I told Scott that I was good and started swimming again. Immediately I was like WOW YES!! It felt like I was swimming on a conveyor belt! Woot! I still felt really strong and like my turnover was good. The return trip went by a lot faster than the outbound and seemingly all of a sudden I was at the turn buoy that marks like ~600m to go. Getting in from there it got hard again and felt like it took forever, but eventually I stood up on the sand and jogged to the finish line.
It was my slowest ever double swim at 2:13, but it felt like one of my strongest efforts. I was mostly stoked at how well I managed to stay focused and in the moment the whole time. Everyone else I talked to also commented about how it took longer than in years past. That's sort of how it tends to go with ocean swimming. Sometimes its fast and other times its slow. I won my age group and think I was 5th female OA? There are always some young gals who show up who just really are amazing swimmers. This year there were some folks from CA who showed up and made it extra competitive, so that was fun. Even then, it's a super relaxed fun kind of (Hawaiian style) competitive.

Anyway, so that's a wrap on the racing for 2016!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On Enjoying Training...

In my last post I mentioned how much I have been enjoying training recently... So I figured maybe I would elaborate. I think there are a bunch of factors that play into it, but in no particular order...

~Not running for 3 months made me really appreciate running. I think that's like a universal law or something, isn't it? Like absence makes the heart grow fonder... So even though my running is short and slow right now, when you're finally able to run again after a forced layoff, any running is good running and I'm just happy to be back out there with nothing hurting. At some point maybe I'll start putting pressure on myself to run specific paces or whatever, but as of right now, it's just getting out there and trotting along so the effort is super easy. Running (yogging) feels like a stress reliever not a stress producer at the moment.

~Swimming is good right now because I'm doing enough of it to physically feel quite good in the water. My swim set up is pretty much ideal with a consistent training partner and a free long course pool so close to my house...

~I mentioned before that having Carly to ride bikes with on the weekends has made my riding feel more fun recently, and that is true, but I'm also having fun riding in my garage these days. I never thought I would say this, but I got a Wahoo Kickr and figured out how to get it all set up and well, I genuinely enjoy riding in my garage! I'm using Trainer Road to run my bike sessions and they way it works with the smart trainer is super cool. I entertain myself with Netflix while I'm riding and 2 hours flies by in a flash! I'm not usually a huge TV watcher, but I've heard on Twitter that some of my peers really like Gilmore Girls, so I started that today... Season 1 Episode 1... Yep! I watched the whole Breaking Bad series last year but other than that I really haven't seen much of Netflix at all. So, if you have suggestions of what you like to watch, throw 'em my way! Anyway, the idea of not having to ride my bike in the rain anymore is extremely pleasing to me. I'll still go out for sure when it's dry, but I bet I'll do 1/2 my riding in my garage this next year. So far I have been unsuccessful in getting set up on Zwift, but that looks pretty cool too so I'll see if I can get set up on that at some point as well... Though by the time you pay monthly subscriptions to Trainer Road and Netflix and Zwift, well, #ridinginsideisntfree... #butitseffective.

~I know I was blogging a ton of my training earlier this year, but I haven't felt the need/desire to do that recently... Likely because I now have a coach who pays attention every day and reads my notes and gives me feedback. I didn't even realize how much I missed that until I went for a while and didn't have it. Training can feel like such a lonely endeavor sometimes... it's nice to share it with someone who can be objective with you! So the fact that I have him lowers my desire to write about the specific of my training here. That said, I did recently get myself a Strava account and have my Garmin set up to auto-upload all my training to that social site, so if you're curious and want to follow along, it's all there on Strava. Now that I have a few weeks experience with that social networking site, I feel like I should have joined it years ago! I find it genuinely enjoyable to follow along with what other people are doing, and to share what I'm doing as well. I don't know much about 'segments' in my area but I'm learning a few and I've accidentally earned myself 2x QOMs so that's kind of fun! I think I'll be able to manage myself on Strava and not let it ruin my training by getting overly competitive at the wrong times. I think that's what worried me before about that site- thinking it wouldn't be good for me b/c I'd end up racing all my training, but so far that hasn't been the case at all.

2017 is going to be my 23rd year of training and racing triathlons. Holy shit you guys. 23 years!?! That's more than 1/2 my life! The fact that I still enjoy it as much as I do leads me to believe that I'll probably be doing this sport until I can't walk anymore. Lol. It just sort of feels like who I am at this point. I feel like I've finally struck a really nice balance between wanting to be the best I can be with not putting too much pressure on myself... and being able to turn it on and off at appropriate times. So right now I'm not doing a lot of training that I would categorize as 'hard'. It's all very manageable which probably contributes to the enjoyment factor I feel. Though at some point I'll (hopefully) get back to a place where training feels big and maybe scares me a bit. Until then, I'm just consistently doing what I do, and enjoying it all...


Sunday, November 27, 2016

November...

You know its been a while since you've blogged when you have to google your own blog to get the page to come up on your computer... I've thought about writing blog posts recently but obviously it wasn't top of my priority list this past month. And then when its been a while since I've written anything I find it hard to know where to even start, so I guess I'll do what I always do in this scenario and just sort of write a random bullet list type of post...

~Let's start with running! After 3 months completely off to let my hip bone heal, I started jogging again this month. It's mostly been 3x/week, starting with 15min and working to 20 then 30... watching HR and keeping it low aerobic which means its slow and I take short walk breaks up hills to keep under my self-imposed HR cap. I've been adding in a longish walk/hike usually like 1-2x/week with the dog. We go in the woods on trails or on unmaintained roads with a lot of hills. That makes us both happy and is how I coped with some disappointing election results earlier in the month.

~Given my renewed capability of jogging for 30 straight minutes, I jumped into a little local run/swim race this morning. I didn't have any expectations about any of it- honestly I just wanted to be a part of the local race scene again because I missed it. I forgot my garmin at home, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Once again I learned that the key to my happiness post race is quite dependent on my expectations going in. If I keep them low enough, I'm super happy post race. :) Really, I thought *maybe* I'd avg 9min pace for a 5k run today (and I assumed that would feel hard), but when the horn went off I just ran as I felt and inched the effort up little by little as my trust in myself grew. I didn't run a 'fast' 5k but I found out after that I avg ~8:25 and it didn't feel hard so that gave me a ton of hope for the future. The race was a 5k run into a 1k swim, which is an odd format, yes, but fun when you're a swimmer! Hey look at me! I actually get to pass people late in a race! Woot! Obviously from the expression on my face here at the finish line, I didn't did deep into to the well this morning, but I did truly enjoy being part of the local race scene again. This is a series of 3 races, so next time we do it (January) I'll aim to go faster than I did today. I don't think that'll be a big ask. All I would really have to do is try harder. :)
~I could write a whole post on all the reasons why I am enjoying training right now (in fact, I will do that!)... but here's one reason. I have a great new training partner! Carly is actually an athlete I am coaching but we are quite compatible on the bike so we can ride together a lot on the weekends. It's been great b/c we push each other but we don't race each other... and she executes sessions like they're supposed to be done so neither of us have to compromise the purpose of the session in order to have a more social ride. It's perfect, really, because it feels like we are friends but also training partners and all the while managing to maintain a great coach/athlete relationship. It's just really good for both of us! She's a bad ass. She raced this morning as well and was 2nd female OA, breaking 20min for that 5k before she swam! #TeamBSC
~I've been swimming a fair amount. Something like 15-17k/week. Not huge volume, but big enough and its been consistent and has resulted in me feeling pretty good in the water. Last week I swam a 1k TT in the pool and managed to surprise myself by swimming faster than I thought I could (and faster than I have in a long time) so that was cool. The Double Roughwater (7k ocean swim race) is a week from today so that has been the reason for the volume. I'm looking forward to that swim this year. I haven't done a ton of long ocean swims this fall but I'm totally to the point where 5k in the pool just feels like another swim so I'm gonna try to give it a bigger push than I gave this morning at that little biathlon race...

Anyway, I have a ton more I could write about but we'll leave it here for now. That'll give me something to write about in the coming week!

Friday, November 4, 2016

How To Get Your Kid To Eat Vegetables

Tonight we had a couple of the neighbor girls over playing. I made a big one-pot dish for dinner (super simple in the rice cooker just make rice then add a ton of steamed spinach, 2 cans of tuna, some mayo, relish, pesto sauce, salt/pepper and mix it all together!)... Anyway, Moana was the only one who would eat eat because it had spinach in it. After the girls left I told Scott that I sure am glad we taught our daughter to not be afraid of vegetables. I know it is taboo to tell other parents that they're doing it wrong, but any parent who insists that their kid just won't eat vegetables is doing it wrong. You know how to get your kid to eat vegetables? It's simple. #1) Eat vegetables yourself. #2) Don't give them an option of something else instead. The girls that were over tonight knew that they could go home and eat something else. Moana knew that if she didn't eat the spinach rice and tuna, she wouldn't have anything else to eat. That's how we operate and guess who eats any vegetable cooked any way? It's really not rocket science. I mean, eventually they get hungry.

Anyway. Off my soapbox.

So I'm finishing up my first week with my new coach and I'm super happy! I think the coolest part is knowing that I have someone on my side who is watching and paying attention and actually genuinely enjoys reading the notes I write about my training each day. I've missed that feeling this past year while trying to coach myself. I know different athletes want different things from their coaching relationships... I think what is currently most important to me is knowing that my coach is genuinely interested and is on my team. I have a new athlete who just started with me this week and she emailed me and in the first sentence she apologized for bugging me ... Right away I wrote back and was like you're not bugging me!! That's terrible for an athlete to feel like they're bugging their coach when they send an email. But I have felt that way. It sucks!

I'm 4 weeks out from the Double Roughwater 7K ocean swim... It's a good time to really try to wreck myself in the pool! Really what I'm looking to do is train my brain to handle the monotony of swimming strong for extended periods without breaks. This morning I swam alone because Mark didn't show up. 6x1k descend 1-6. How's that for a monster set? I've done 5x1k but never 6. I've only ever given 6x1k to an athlete once... It was years ago she was training for a channel swim and she loved her 1000 repeats. I give 4x1k all the time to ironman athletes. But 6x1k was something I really had to wrap my head around.
I brought some treats and ate one after #2 and #4. They worked a minor miracle! I swam the first 3 (LCM) in 16:11, 15:59, 15:41. Then added paddles and went 15:39, 15:24, 14:56! Pretty stoked about that last one. I checked my watch at the 500 and saw 7:31 so I knew if I worked it I'd get under 15min and that was motivating so I wrecked myself that last 500. Consequently I spent the rest of the day feeling like I needed to just stay curled up in a ball. Long hard swims do that to me.

No time to curl up in a ball though b/c I had a bunch of programs to write and some phone calls to make and some social media buzz to attend to. Woot! Happy to say I'm on the Coeur Sports Team again for 2017. This will be my 4th year with this team and without a doubt can say I'm honored to have the opportunity to continue to be a part of this group. They make the best tri kits around (#noangrykitty!) and they're great people who stand for values I believe in. It's so easy to support this company! I feel sort of lucky that I got in during their first year because its harder and harder to get in given how their popularity has grown...

And before I sign off I'll note... I did my first 'real' runs since Vineman this week! I ran (ok, jogged) 15 min twice this week! WOOT! On the comeback trail!! Lol. Felt ok while doing each of those. The day after each I felt something not quite right in my left leg. It's not my hip though and it doesn't feel like bone, so I can't decide if its something I should be worried about or if its something I can manage and jog through? It just feels like I've got a couple of giant spasms in that left lateral quad. I can feel the muscle spasms when I try to roll it out- they're huge and they 'jump' as I roll over them (it hurts!). If that's all it is (muscle spasms) then normally its nothing I would worry about. My biggest concern is why I can't get them to release? My fear is knowing that when my bone was compromised, the way I felt it was that the surrounding muscles were all essentially shut down and non functional (i.e. at Vineman I felt that 'mechanical' failure where muscles just wouldn't function on that side)... After Vineman I was ridiculously sore on that side and that soreness just wouldn't go away like normal muscle soreness does... and my glute med shut itself down and wouldn't function at all... So I know that it's not unheard of for muscles to operate (or stop operating!) in a way that protects bone when its compromised. Anyway, that's my fear. I hope its unfounded!! I guess we'll find out as the weeks go by. I keep rolling this quad and trying to get the muscle to relax. I'll jog 15min again tomorrow and will continue to monitor it.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

#Goals

I just got home from my longest dog walk yet... 3.4 miles! (Maia is currently passed out cold.) We walked ~2 miles this morning as well so it was a big day of walking. I've started using my garmin on these walks but in 'run' mode. Tonight when I finished it told me I'd earned 2 new badges! Longest run AND fastest 5k! Lol. Ready for it? 48:08! Turns out, I walk ~15:30 pace. I've really been enjoying our evening walks. Have found some good podcasts and I just listen to those and walk... I think I could walk for a really long time listening to those. My current favorite is Michael Gervais 'Finding Mastery' podcast. He is insightful and I like the depth of his conversations with his guests.

Maia and I have been walking 2-3 miles every night, and every other night I've been adding a little bit of jogging to these walks. Started with 6x30 steps then 12x30 steps... Last night I didn't micromanage it at all just did sort of this walk/jog thing as I felt and just made it feel super easy. So as soon as I felt the least bit labored I'd walk, then when I felt ready I would jog, then walk, etc. Tough to tell how much I actually jogged but it was 2.3 miles and avg 13:14 pace so maybe little less than 1/2 of it (total) was light jogging? I've had zero deep bone ache at all this week so what I've been doing hasn't  been too much (yay!).

I've been doing a bit of strength training as well- like 2x/week- and after a couple sessions squatting with 45lbs I went back up to 65lbs today (2x10) and that felt fine. Deadlift up to 95 lbs today and again that felt fine. Added kettlebell swings and step-ups today as well. I like the way strength training with weights makes me feel. It's a different feeling than the body weight functional strength stuff.

Anyway, this week I go back to structured training. It's almost odd seeing a plan in my Training Peaks... after most of this past year just making it up as I feel every day, having something in there to follow feels like a bit of a relief. I am good at following directions when someone else writes stuff in for me so it's nice to not have to think so much. It's motivating too like yay finally I get to start really building back vs just exercising and being fairly random about it all!

Now if only I can avoid the Halloween candy these next few weeks... Ugh. I feel like an elephant. Totally afraid to get on the scale but I don't need to get on the scale to feel how tight my run shorts are. Goal for a month from now is to not feel like my run shorts are all bun-huggers. #goals

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Scientific Process

Last week when I posted, I was pretty stoked about having sort of started the process of returning to weight bearing activity... Unfortunately, some heavier squats and a tiny bit of jogging on Wednesday left me feeling some deep bone ache in my left leg on Thursday. Ugh. It wasn't debilitating, but it was there and it was noticeable and was an indication that the stress I had applied- even though it didn't hurt while I was doing it- was too much. The problem was that I didn't know if it was the squats or the jogging that caused the bone ache? That was the problem with doing them both on the same day. I should have just done one and then waited to see how the legs responded... that would have been more scientific. Call it #hindsight20/20.

Given that, I took 3 days and did no weight bearing activity other than a few short walks with the dog. Not the end of the world because I have other activities that make me super happy! Saturday we went to the west side to swim and found a tons of dolphins within the first 10 minutes of getting in. The water was perfect temp with unreal visibility and the whole time we were just giddy smiles. Its was like swimming in a giant aquarium and after the dolphins we found 2 huge turtles and a beautiful spotted ray.
Honu! This guy seemed sort of camouflaged but the water was so clear we could spot him...
And of course... Swimming with dolphins never gets old. Never.
On Sunday Carly came over and we did a bit of strength training together. I backed the weight off to 45lbs but did 4x8 squats and deadlifts with just the bar. Also did a bunch of 'wall balls' which was one of my favorites from my Crossfit days. We did a few other exercises too but I don't think those would have hurt my hip or leg at all. I felt fine and strong and stable while doing those exercises and once again felt like maybe I could have done a bit of jogging but I learned my lesson from the week prior so I walked the dog but took zero jogging steps. I really wanted to see if I had any deep bone ache on Monday?

Monday came- no bone ache! Yay! Had some muscle ache for sure but it was equally distributed between both legs and felt exactly like what I would have expected to feel after a ton of wall balls. So in my mind, nothing to worry about! Phew.

So I'd ruled out that moderate weights caused deep bone ache. #scientificprocess Last night I took my dog for a longer walk (like 2.5 miles) and I inserted 6x30 steps of jogging on different uphill sections. Felt fine during those short jogs and was curious how I'd feel today. Deep bone ache? NOPE! Woot! It's so funny to be stoked about 30 steps of running but whatever. It's a start!

No jogging steps today b/c I'm taking the ultra-conservative approach and not running on back to back days for a while. Instead I went for a bike ride. It was a gorgeous day to be on two wheels. I have ridden by this spot countless times over the last (almost) 12 years and only rarely stop to take a picture. Today I just had to. It was stunning and my level of appreciation for being able to be out there was high.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I Couldn't Help Myself

I realized its been a while since I've written anything about how the stress reaction in my hip is healing... I guess I'd say it's healing well? I think? It's really felt nearly perfect for the last 3-4 weeks. I get these weird- seemingly random- moments where I feel a subtle deep ache on that left side. I'm not really sure what that's about but those come maybe 1-2x/week and last maybe 10-20minutes and then seem to just fade away. It's possible I'm just being hyper-aware and if I paid less attention those deep ache episodes might pass by unnoticed...

This week I started doing some moderate strength training. Not sure I'm officially cleared to do that yet? I hope I don't look back on this as a giant mistake, but I'll document it here just in case... On Monday I did 2x10 squats with a 45lb bar (last week I did body weight squats a couple times no issue and prior to that had been doing a 'floor routine' basic strength exercises I put together that were all non-weight bearing). No issue with those squats on Monday (not even a little sore) so today I did 2x12 with 65lbs and 2x12 deadlifts again with 65lbs and it didn't feel hard or heavy and my form felt solid. I genuinely like lifting weights but will try to not over do it at least until December. #SteelChallenge anyone? :)

I've been walking the dog like 20-30min most days for the last few weeks. Tonight I included 6x30 steps super easy/slow jogging. Each of those short jogs were on slight uphills. Zero pain (or even sensation, really- 100% fine). I'm officially cleared to start running Nov 1 so I'm about 10 days early right now, but does 6x30 steps even count? My gut just said I could do that tonight and I wasn't going to hurt myself so hopefully I'm not wrong about that. But just in case, I pinky swear NO JOGGING tomorrow. I think the name of the game with bone issues is re-introducing stress in micro-doses and then allowing adequate time to adapt. 6x30 steps felt like a mini micro-dose of stress.

Besides that, I've been riding and swimming 3-4x/week. Monday I swam alone b/c no training partners showed up to the pool and the water was hot and I just had very little motivation. Muddled my way through 3400 but it was totally uninspired. Today, Mark showed up and the water was maybe a degree cooler and that helped a ton! I'm super spoiled wanting/needing someone to push me in the pool. My 1000 w/u today was nearly a full minute faster than Monday. Main set was short at only 1200m but was quality: 2x400's strong @6:30 straight into 4x100's fast @1:40 and I swam hard enough to make myself nauseous. After that Mark got out but I was on a roll so I stayed in and pulled a 2k straight descending the 500's 7:51 down to 7:24 which was faster than it felt. Goes to show how much performance is in our heads. Physically I was no different today vs Monday but today my head was in the game and it was night and day different.

I haven't done anything specific or structured on the bike. Just been riding maybe 2 hours at a time and it's mostly been low cadence strength work. Some hill climbing but again not structured repeats or anything just out cruising around looking for hills to ride up. Efforts are seated and using heavy gearing low cadence controlled HR and its quite enjoyable. I feel like I'm finally regaining some strength in my legs.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Secret Magic Formula to Athlete/Coach Success...

I was contacted today by a guy I coached several years ago. We worked together for maybe 2 years and in that time he'd improved a lot and set new PRs at 70.3 and Ironman distances and qualified to 70.3 World Champs (it was in Vegas at the time). For whatever reason, he felt like he wanted to experience a new way of going about training, so we parted ways (amicably). I'm typically bummed when an athlete makes a choice to leave, especially when we have had success together (which is ~90% of the time!), but at the same time, I totally understand that "grass is greener" thinking and wondering how things might be different under a different kind of program or coaching... I've changed coaches for those same reasons so who am I to judge an athletes decision to do that?

That said, I find it to be a huge compliment when athletes go check out some other grass but then have a realization that what they had on TeamBSC was really the coach/athlete relationship that made them happiest. This isn't the first time this has happened- I've currently got two other athletes who left in favor of hiring a coach who was local to them, only to come back a year or two later saying that their new coach didn't pay attention like I do. It's validating when I hear these things... That we do something right at TeamBSC. I don't often brag about my coaching business here on this blog, but indulge me for a minute. Or stop reading. Your choice! :)

I feel like over the years I have grown as a coach. I have had some good examples/mentors- specifically Jen Harrison and Lucho. Those two were my first coaches and I can say without hesitation that they both paid close attention and communicated as often as I would have wanted. I was spoiled by that and assumed that's how all coaches are? (Spoiler alert! They're not!) So when I started coaching I modeled myself after them... I write good programs that make sense, I pay attention, and I respond to emails/texts promptly. I think that since my athletes know that I'm watching every day, they're more likely to pay attention to their own training and log in with details that I want to know. They know I read everything they write about every workout, and their weekly programs reflect their personal strengths and weaknesses and goals and schedule.

In my mind, those things above are the BASICS of what every coach should do. What I've found in recent years (from my own experience with the coach search as well as stories I hear from new athletes who come to me unsatisfied with their current coaching situations) is that even these basics aren't often being employed. I've seen programming that is super basic/generic and obviously isn't written for a specific athlete. I'll go out on a limb and say many (most?) coaches these days don't watch on a daily basis but rather check in to TP once/week and read over what the athlete has done. The problem I see with this is that if an athlete knows his/her coach is only checking in once/week, he/she isn't really motivated to log notes every day, right? And I know when I only log once/week I tend to forget details about sessions that might be sort of important. So I really like to give athletes a reason/motivation to log in daily b/c I think THEY pay closer attention to their training when they do this, and that's really a key part of improvement and progress. Plus, when they log in with lots of details, I'm more likely to respond with some sort of comment that's meant to help teach or reinforce something I was hoping they would learn from the session. So the more we communicate, the more the athletes learn, which helps them make decisions going forward about how to go about managing themselves and their training.

The last piece of the puzzle (as I see it) is that a good coach has to genuinely care about his/her athletes. I think most care at least a little, but if a coach has another full time job and is just coaching on the side, he/she probably isn't going to have time to really give athletes the time and attention they're paying for. I think a key piece to my coaching success is that I do it on a full time basis. Which means that when I'm not writing programs or looking over files/notes, I'm furthering my own education by reading articles and journals and listening to webcasts and podcasts and stuff like that. I do this *mostly* b/c I am personally passionate about the sport... so I want to learn because I find it genuinely fascinating. Then I apply the training strategies to my athletes and I watch carefully to see how they are physically (and mentally/emotionally) responding and then we tweak as we go. I take the success of my athletes personally. At the same time, since we communicate so much, we develop genuine relationships which turns out to be a shockingly important piece of the puzzle when you're talking about an individual sport like triathlon.

Anyway. That's it. That's the secret magic formula to coach/athlete success (as I see it!). It doesn't seem like rocket science and yet even though there are a billion triathlon coaches out there right now, it's surprisingly hard to find the right match. Every time an athlete I have coached in the past looks back on our time together as the best of their years as a triathlete, it makes me smile. And I love it when they come back after having experienced something different because it just validates the thing we have going on over here. It's good stuff. I would say I feel lucky to have this situation but I don't think it's really luck. I think I've worked hard to create this unique thing that has become TeamBSC and its a place where athletes can come and know that they are genuinely cared about while they go about shocking themselves about what they are capable of on a race course.

This is possibly one of my most favorite pictures of all time. It's Liz right after she finished Ironman Louisville on Sunday... She surprised the hell out of herself- leading her AG out of the water in 55min then riding a solid neg split 5:42 then running an evenly paced 3:46. She said she cried for the whole last mile because she just couldn't believe she had done that. I remember telling Liz a year ago that Ironman was her thing... I'm not sure she believed me but maybe she believes me now. :) Regardless, this picture still makes me tear up and I think Yep. This is why I coach.
I have 2-3 spots open for 2017. If you want to join our team, shoot me a note and lets chat!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

My Needs Are Simple.

If there's one take away I had from this weekend, it's that my needs are simple. If I have my bike, my goggles, an internet connection, and a power source (ok, and my phone, obviously!), I'm satisfied! Turns out, the backyard tent accommodations were perfect for the Kona spectating and training weekend. We did have access to a refrigerator and a toilet and an outdoor shower, so that helped. I would consider staying there again if we ever just pop over for a training weekend and are trying to not really spend any money.

Here are just some tidbits from the weekend:

~At one point we went to a party with some old friends of mine. They'd rented a mansion on the water on Alii Dr. It was all marble and granite with a pool right near the ocean. So ya, pretty much the same as the way we did Kona.

~Riding your bike from the airport with a big heavy backpack is all good until Heather Jackson goes flying by, making you feel like you're going backwards. A few minutes later Jesse Thomas rode by and because I am a #crazyassfan I tried for a brief second to chase him down but to no avail. I did, however, have a #fangirl moment with his awesome wife on race day when I turned around a found her right behind me! Of course I took a selfie.

~We rode the south loop to Captain Cook and Kealakekua Bay. I haven't had my garmin 920 for very long but that 40 mile ride earned me a new badge for *Most Ascent*! There's some legit climbing on the Big Island and as I was riding (everywhere but the Queen K) I was thinking that they could make that bike course 100x harder if they used any other road. Of course, there's not a big enough shoulder on any other road to support a bunch of riders so a course change will never happen.

~In the past it felt like Kona residents were sort of half/half on supporting the event in their little town (i.e. some love it while others hate it). Seemed like this trip I ran into more residents who fell on the side of get these athletes out of our town already. At one point Carly and I were riding, in a shoulder, single file, and a woman driving a truck going the opposite direction honked at us. We smiled and waved while she flicked us off. Well! Ok then... Aloha to you as well!

~Watching the race was fun. In the past I've often felt envious of the athletes racing but this weekend I didn't. Likely b/c I know my fitness is shit at the moment so I wouldn't have been able to do it well at all. So there were exactly zero thoughts of I wish I was out there racing too... That made for a more fun spectator day than I've had in the past!

~I found it 100x easier to cheer for athletes who managed to smile and acknowledge us. I know how hard Ironman marathons are but the number of athletes running who looked absolutely miserable was interesting. Several times I suggested that they smile and enjoy it best they can b/c there are 10,000 athletes who would have happily traded places with them there on Alii Dr.

~I have respect for the pros who don't perform well but hang in there and jog it in anyway (vs dropping out). I watched Leanda Cave at mile 25.5... jogging and talking with a gal who was at mile 1. Obviously that wasn't the day Leanda had trained and hoped for but the fact that she used her time on course to chat up some amateurs starting their marathons sent my respect level through the roof. #LeandaFan I can say the same about Meredith Kessler and Natasha Badmann. Michelle Vesterby was probably the only athlete who was near the front who seemed like she was enjoying herself. I take that back- Heather Jackson seemed to be enjoying herself as well. The rest of 'em, not so much. I sort of thought that Mary Beth Ellis would maybe smile like for a half a second but she didn't (at least not in the 3 times we saw her and cheered for her on that run). I mean, come on, she announced her retirement so this is the last time she'll be running down Alii Dr in this race... she wasn't in the top 10 so why not maybe ease up a bit and look around and soak it all in since this is your last chance to do so with so many people whooping it up and cheering for you!?

~Clif bar did an awesome job with their marketing and promotions during the weekend. Their reps were everywhere and they were giving out free products at every turn. It was an impressive effort.

~I felt proud to be associated with Coeur Sports over the weekend. They hosted a really nice brunch at Daylight Mind the day after the race and it was a great chance for a bunch of the team members (and their friends/family) to be together and share stories. Thumbs up!

As we were riding back to the airport I had the thought that I'm *really* glad we made the effort and went over there. For so many reasons... Until next year...

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Kona On The Cheap...

I have to admit I enjoy this time of year... when tons of triathletes start showing up on the Big Island and posting horror stories about how hot and windy it is. Lol. Welcome to my life, bitches! And what? There's a chicken at the grocery store? No way! What a pretty sunset. Do you not have those where you live?

Obviously I'm just being snarky, but I find it entertaining to see these types of posts.

I wasn't going to go watch Kona this year... But then this hip thing came up and I wasn't able to run Ragnar with my friends which meant I had a plane ticket that needed to be used... And with 3x TeamBSC folks racing this year I really should be there... But it's so expensive I wasn't sure I could justify it... But I figured I'd at least look into it and see what I could find as far as Kona on the cheap...

So. For a small change fee I had a plane ticket. I texted my athlete/friend Carly and asked where she was staying. She said she'd rented a tent in a guy's backyard via Airbnb. $58/night and yep we could share it. Wait. What!?! Ok. I'm in.
Scrap renting a car. You can't park anywhere in Kona during race week anyway. So we'll ship our bikes- without a box- on Aloha Cargo ($49 each way) and pack all our stuff in backpacks and ride from the airport... Carly says she knows where some CO2 cartridges are hidden at the airport, and I have a few friends with hotel rooms near the swim start where we can stash our bikes when needed... Between the two of us we've got it covered!

So we'll hop over on Wednesday morning and spend 3 days riding and ocean swimming (and she will run!) then we'll drink beer and cheer on Saturday. I'll likely be tweeting my observations on race day, so tune in to Twitter if that interests you. I promise I won't post any sunset photos. ;)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekend Riding

Currently... on the laptop on the floor, with wine on one said and my loyal dog/cat on the other... :)


Hey, where did my bike fitness go? I mean, it's only been like 7 weeks since I did an Ironman... and I've been riding like 3-4x/week... I mean, even if most of that riding was easy, you wouldn't think your power would just go away like mine has. I guess if I didn't have a power meter I wouldn't know the difference, but those #littleliedetectors are telling me that things have changed in the watts department. I'll admit that maybe I haven't been as diligent about taking care of myself these last few weeks, so that could be part of it, but still.

Dinner, anyone?

Since I'm not training for anything right now, I've found it to be a good time to go out and join my community and be social and do other's people's workouts for a change. Its been enlightening!

I think the thing I've noticed most when riding with groups (any and all groups!) is how hard people ride up every hill. I mean, any time the road tilts slightly up, everyone starts pushing hard, but no one will admit they are pushing hard. Yesterday I was cruising along by myself when I got caught by a group of guys who said they were just out for a short easy spin b/c they were doing the Honolulu Century Ride today... Just a short easy spin, they said... ok, so if you are going "easy" then why I am pushing 240w to stay next to you while we climb up this hill?? I guess the easy part comes at the top of the hill?
Backroads Waimanalo and yes we take up the whole road.

Eventually yesterday I met up with another group and they were riding in a similar way. Uphill 200+ watts; at all other times 100w. I guess there's some merit to that style of riding (call it fartlek intervals?) unless you're prepping for a long distance triathlon, in which case I'd say its decidedly less than ideal. There's only one gal in this group who is prepping for an upcoming long distance triathlon, so I made an attempt to teach her how to 'flatten out the hills' when riding over gently rolling rolling terrain. Goal: keep effort steady, which means that pace will not be steady! You'll go slower on the uphills. Let it go. But you'll go a lot faster on the slightly downhill parts! And overall will go faster b/c you won't be spiking your power and therefore won't need extended periods to 'recover'...

That's me checking watts on my garmin and trying to explain this concept
before we attempt another 20min 'steady' interval...
I think everyone was bored out of their minds climbing behind me b/c I eased up enough to not spike watts, but at all other times they were working while I was holding the watts when the road tilted slightly down.

See how spiky up and down my pink line is? It's all over the place! Can you see the one short section where its a more steady effort?
I think this is really the biggest issue with group rides- it's nearly impossible to ride a truly steady effort. So yes, group rides are fun, and its good to be social(!), but if you're serious about training specifically for a long distance triathlon, you might be doing yourself a disservice by always riding with others. Especially if no one has a power meter. :)

Today I led a session at the computrainer studio, which I haven't done for a long time. So of course being inside is an opportunity to be more specific- not that I personally need to be at the moment- but I was doing a favor by 'guest coaching' the class. I chose the session based on the needs of the gals who were there, so while the race specific session was good for them, it was a bit beyond what I am capable of need to be doing at the moment. Um, when did 160w become hard??

Pretty specific set. Anyone guess what it is?

Note about my hip- it feels nearly perfect. And because of that, I can totally see how this is the type of injury that can take like 6+ months to recover from... Mostly b/c if I hadn't read so many horror stories online from athletes who felt better and started running then re-injured themselves then had to rest again, I'd totally be out running right now. It def feels like I could. However, I've talked with several athletes who have been through it and universally the ones who healed themselves the quickest were the ones who heeded the instructions to NOT RUN for the full time the doc says. One gal I rode with yesterday told me that hers felt good for a full 4-5 weeks before she attempted running on it again, and then when she did start to run it was all good no issues she could just build her run volume back up and has had no further problems. So her story was reassuring and steeled me in my resolve to follow the instructions Don't test it! I have, however, walked the dog a few times and it doesn't seem to have set me back to do that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Moving On...

On Sunday I was at a local triathlon with one of my local athletes... I wasn't racing (obviously, since there is #norunningallowed at the moment) but it was an annual all women's sprint distance race and they put out a call for volunteers and well, it made sense that I would go support the event even though I couldn't race. All I really did was direct them on the bike at a corner (right turn! right turn! right turn up ahead!) but I think it was helpful to many and it was good to be a part of the community at least a little bit.

Afterward I was having a conversation with the gal who I coach (She won! Overall! Boom!) and we were talking about the coach/athlete relationship. She and I haven't been working together all that long, but I feel like already we know each other pretty well, and we care about each other as people not just as athletes, and it's just an overall really good situation. She knows that I 100% have her best interests at heart, which makes it easy for her to trust me and communicate with me and once those things are in place, good things happen. I lamented to her that I wanted a coach to care about ME the way I care about her. See, I'd actually hired a guy to work with me... We were coming up on a month together and I just felt like he didn't really give a shit about me. It wasn't sitting well in my gut and it caused anxiety and well, I know it had only been one month and he is remote so we didn't really even know each other but still...

I wasn't really sure if I should give it more time or just cut it off before we were in too deep? But I'll give a little tip about coaching... If you email your coach and he doesn't respond for 3 days, he doesn't really want to coach you. That happened repeatedly, so it wasn't just one instance, and I was trying to figure out if that was something I could put up with or not? I think what it came down to is that I know how *I* am as a coach, and I can't imagine not checking my email. Hello. It is my JOB to check my email. I check it probably 10 times/day. And when an athlete sends me a question or a concern, I hit reply. And I answer. Partly because that is my JOB but also because I care about these athletes as people and I genuinely want to help.

Anyway, I had no intention of burning a bridge so the email I sent to him telling him that this relationship wasn't right for me was very respectful (I thought). <Crickets> from him confirmed for me that I made the right call (seriously, the guy can't reply and say something basic like, "I understand and I wish you the best going forward..."??) Damn, I feel like I just wasted (what was for me) not an insignificant amount of money... It was more than I'd ever paid a coach for a month before... So the lesson learned is that money will NOT automatically buy you attention from a coach. And I guess the other lesson is to listen to your gut. If you think your coach doesn't give a shit about you, you're probably right. It doesn't matter how smart they are or how much they know about physiology and training adaptation and response... If they don't care about you, you won't learn any of it. Move on and find one who does.

Don't worry! This story has a happy ending!

I contacted another coach who has been a twitter friend for a while. I've seen that over the years he has worked with masters females who have posted good results. I sensed that he was open and friendly with a good sense of humor but also kind of no bullshit, more is more, and you can't fake it kind of philosophy when it comes to training and racing. He had a real website with a contact form so I shot him a note and wouldn't you know it? He replied first thing the next morning, set up a phone call for that afternoon, told me he was flattered I contacted him and was very interested in working with me... A 90min phone call confirmed that yep we are on the same page and within 10min of hanging up the phone he'd emailed me his on boarding forms and just like that, I found myself in a coaching relationship with someone who cares! I feel good about this one! I think he's a lot like me, but he's not me, so he can be objective with me and call me on my bullshit which I will appreciate because I sense that he genuinely wants to be a part of me reaching my goals. THAT is how it should be. Like, a partnership.

We're not gong to officially start until I'm cleared to run which should be Nov 1 but we'll have to see how the healing of this hip continues to go. Its was feeling quite good and I have not been pushing it at all... The deep ache was going away little by little. Last night though I was sort of wrestling with Moana and I felt a sharp pain in my hip (GAH!) when I was in a weird position and now the deep ache is back. GAH! I can't imagine I did any serious damage just in that stupid simple movement but I'm back to being super careful with it because I really do want this thing to heal up 100%. I miss running.

In the meantime I've been swimming a bunch and riding some. Swam the last 4 days in a row and got in ~15k. Some of it easy, some of it moderate pacing, some of it strong. For those of you who come here looking for swim session ideas, there's what I've done the last 4 days:

Sunday ocean 4k continuous. Really relaxed/easy.

Monday main set: swim 20x100's off 1:35 held 1:28 for most all of those. Call that a threshold set for sure. I felt nauseous after ~12 but held pace anyway.

Tuesday pacing set, all with paddles. Started with a 2k straight, descend the 500's to mod/strong effort. 7:57, 7:54, 7:46, 7:37. 100 easy then 2x500's pads again trying to go faster than the last 500 of that 2k. Barely made it 7:36, 7:31. I was going to do 3-4 of those 500's but I was hungry and bored and felt like that work was solid so I called it enough.

Wednesday main set: swim 2 rounds 2x300's steady @4:55> 2x100's MAX @1:35> 4x50's @:55 hold pace from the 100's> 100 easy rest as needed before repeating round. Had training partners this morning which made this set a very strong one- held 1:20-1:22 for those 100's which is pretty fast for me in this pool, especially mid-set like that. Was pretty happy with the pace change there as I was holding ~1:31s on the 300's. So 10" drop in pace is HUGE for me. Finished today with 1000 steady pull 15:29. That was faster than it felt, which is always nice.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

On What I *Can* Do...

Often when you're injured it's easy to focus on what you can't do. I have a stress reaction (turns out if's actually femoral neck and intertrochanter, not exactly femur) so I cannot run. I cannot hop. I cannot do weight bearing exercise really at all. So that's a bummer. However, I *can* swim and bike and water run and do some basic functional strength stuff and all that is enough to keep me sane at the moment so really, it's all good.

So what have I been up to? Swimming a couple times/week and that's pretty much 'as normal'. Not sure I need to bore anyone with the details. Some swimming has been pretty easy, some has been more tempo, and some has been downright MAX. So. Pretty standard. It's been a bit of a logistical PITA b/c the pool right by my house has been closed for a full month now (pump repairs) so I've been scrambling to get to other pools that are open but with limited hours which just sort of screws up my day. I miss just swimming MWF morning with my pals and having it all done early. Hopefully next week my 'home pool' opens back up. I know I shouldn't complain about my life being hard because it is not hard but regardless, I'll appreciate the ease that is having a free long course pool open 1/2 mile from my house. #spoiledbrat

Biking has been mostly super relaxed and easy. Been riding maybe 3x/week. I have no pain in my leg/hip at all when I ride which is awesome. So my rides are super cruise I've been avg like 115watts for maybe 90-120min each time out. I have been adding in some very short but near full gas efforts like 40-60" uphill... only maybe 3-6 of those in each ride. Call it 'polarized' training if you want to give a name to it, but I've spent my time riding at either 110watts or 310watts*. Not much in the middle. This was my ride from Tuesday.

Today my "main set" was 3x40seconds (wow, right?) but I avg 400+w for each of those which is pretty big for me. Full recovery on those at <100watts for as long as I need to feel like I'm ready to hit it again. I find it easy to wrap my head around such itty bitty short little sets. And doing the majority of my 'training' at such a low intensity pretty much has me chomping at the bit to go HARD when I finally get the opportunity. Overall I think I could characterize my riding these days as 'patient'.

"Running" has been done in the ocean. I started off going into town and 'running' at Ala Moana which is this protected area of water where there are no waves or really any adversity at all. Water running there is actually somewhat enjoyable b/c there's a nice view of Diamond Head and I can chat with stand-up paddlers and watch Japanese tourists have their wedding pictures done on the beach. The last few days I've been logistically challenged with getting into town so I've just stayed close to home which means water running on the east side... but the wind has been blowing (out of the east) at a solid 25mph which creates different conditions than what you get at Ala Moana... It's more akin to trail running I guess you could say. Trail running in the ocean? Something like that. It's challenging and I have to pump my arms pretty hard to keep my head above water. Even then, its a constant smack in the face with the wind chop. Can't say water running there is my favorite thing to do BUT it is better than water running in an indoor pool so once again I'll shut up and not complain. #spoiledbrat

The deep ache I felt in my hip is going away slowly but surely. I think this is the time period where its really good that I had the MRI to confirm what the problem was. If I didn't know it was a bone issue, I'd probably be trying to jog on it right now (it feels almost like I could). I can see how when athletes don't get a correct diagnosis that this injury could last a long time b/c I think if I were to try to run on it tomorrow, I could, and it would only hurt a little... so I'd go running again the next day and it would hurt a little more... and that would set me way back in the healing process. I've circled Nov 1 on the calendar as the day I'll start back walk/jogging (Ok maybe I'll start walking prior to that? We'll see). I've walked a little here and there- doc said I'm ok to go without crutches and I'm super glad about that. I think it was an ok call as well b/c I feel like the pain is just a little bit less every day so I don't think I'm doing anything at the moment that is causing a delay in healing. I've only been walking enough to go about my daily life though- not extra walking. Scott has been in charge of all the dog walking for the last 2 weeks and while he's good at that and enjoys it, I think Maia misses the long walks on the trails she and I used to do. I'll look forward to getting back out there with her as soon as it feels ok to do so.

In the meantime, seems the highlight of her day is waiting for the cats to finish up eating so she can clean their bowls.

*Did I mention that PowerTap replaced my pedals that fried out right before Vineman? Took me a while to get on the customer service dept to make that happen but once I started the process, it was easy and now I have new pedals that function. Mahalo, PowerTap!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

What A Difference A Shore Makes...

Here on Oahu we had two long ocean swim races this past week. Monday (Labor Day) was the Waikiki Roughwater Swim on the south shore (2.3 miles, supposedly), then today was the 5K up on the North Shore.

The Roughwater attracts ~700 swimmers each year, many of whom come from California or Australia. It has the feel of a 'big' race in that it goes off in waves and well, it's just a 'big' race with a lot of people. I've done it a few times over the years, though I often skip this one. Mostly b/c logistically it's a bit of a challenge for those of us who live here (hello, have you tried to park in Waikiki recently??) It's point to point and when you finish, you have to walk back 2+ miles to your car, or find a friend and hitch a ride. The plus side I suppose is that we get to race people who we don't know. I'm not 100% sold on this being a 'plus' as honestly I have more fun racing people I do know, but I suppose its fun to stretch yourself sometimes and race new people.

Before the race I heard the announcer say that the current was neutral so should be a good day out there. I don't think he 'lied' necessarily, but clearly he didn't have all the information when he told us that. After we got out there it was clearly the strongest current I'd ever swam against in Waikiki... Just nuts. Long story short (because this could seriously be loooong!), I was over it by the time I walked up the beach to the timing mat... It took me 1:32 to get through that swim, solidly 30+ minutes longer than ever before. The funniest part was that even with that time, I won my age group (23rd OA female), which is just a testament to how ridiculous the current was. Apparently they were pulling hundreds of swimmers out... putting them in boats because there were so many who just couldn't even swim against that current anymore. Crazy. An Aussie Olympian who just swam the 10k in Rio didn't even make it under an hour. Hearing all that made me a bit less salty about my own personal slowest swim, because well, I didn't get pulled out. #smallvictories Actually, I was sort of stoked to win my AG there. They give big umeke bowls to age group winners at that race and I have one from 2006 (that I still use as a fruit bowl in my kitchen!) so to earn a matching one 10 years later was a secret goal. Let's give that a hashtag #longevityinsport!

Fast forward 5 days later and ~100 mostly local die hard swimmers showed up on the North Shore to swim 5K from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay. (Not my file. I don't wear garmins during swim races!)
As I was swimming this morning I started thinking about all the things I like better about this race vs the Roughwater. Mostly what it came down to was that racing with a smaller group of friends is way more fun, and hello, when you finish this race you're on the North Shore vs in Waikiki! #KillerTacos

This race seemed to fly by. I did it in 1:19, a full 13min faster than the Roughwater, which is hysterical given it should be ~20min longer! Won my age group again, which was cool because it meant I could get in a photo with the cool kids (and Hudson, lol!) To be fair, some Aussie guy showed up and stole Hudson's blue ribboned medal... Apparently he didn't get the memo that this was just a local race... ;)
Anyway, fun day today for sure. I'll miss swimming on the North Shore. Winter swells will start arriving soon and making it not suitable for swimming up there until next spring... So, until next year...


Thursday, September 8, 2016

If you're Googling: "Stress Reaction Femur"

It's been almost a month since I've written here. I'd thought about writing, but really I'm not sure anyone would have wanted to read all the thoughts in my head this past month. Mostly b/c I've been pretty obsessed with this hip pain I've been feeling. I didn't know what it was, and my theory about what it was changed every day, so posting day after day about that would have just made your eyes roll. I do feel like maybe I want to document it though b/c one thing I've actually found to be super helpful is reading stories from other runners who have been through something similar. So. Here we go.

The week before Vineman I made a note in my log that my hip flexor felt tight. It was after a run and I remember being able to run ok but it was not without pain. I ran a few more times over the next several days, but just like 4-5 miles and each time the tightness was there for the first 1-2 miles then it would sort of disappear and I'd think everything was fine. Then it would come back after I was done running.

Race week I limped while walking every day. It made me nervous but I couldn't see how I had developed a serious injury in the week leading up to a race when I wasn't even doing much training so I figured it was phantom taper pains. Or something like that. Just in my head. Everything would be fine. Race week I ran once for 3 miles and limped through that then tried to block that experience out of my head.

Race morning I woke up and had ZERO pain. I'm not normally a believer in 'race day magic' but looking back, I'd say this was an amazing mental feat by my brain! I wouldn't say I had any specific hip pain during the race, but I did feel like my muscles weren't working properly. Cramping in races is nothing new to me though so I just sort of chalked it up to that again like, I don't know... My muscles just don't work when I do Ironmans??

After that race I was insanely sore. Like insanely sore. I'd done 15 ironmans previously but had never had soreness like that. I thought it was weird like every muscle around my left hip was completely seized up and no matter what, would just NOT release. That week I did a bit of walking (with a limp) but figured I just needed some time to recover then it would be fine.

In the next 4 weeks I was home and saw 3 different chiropractors (several times each... seeing doctors was beginning to feel like a part time job) who adjusted me, did ART and acupuncture, and every time I thought maybe I'd solved the problem, I'd wake up the next morning and all those muscles were completely seized up again. It was incredibly frustrating.

Looking back I can see how *smart* our bodies/brains are. At some level my brain was simply protecting me, I think, from continuing to do any further damage to that stressed out femur bone. That's what caused me to make an appt with my sports med doc. I like to truly understand injuries and it made sense that if acupuncture was making my muscles relax, but then within hours they'd go right back into spasm again without me doing anything to cause that, then they must be protecting something? An unstable joint maybe? That's what I thought. I read about labral tears and feared I would end up having surgery at some point... A stress fx still hadn't crossed my mind.

Anyway, I could tell that my sports med doc was thinking along the lines of stress fracture. She ordered an MRI but I had to wait a week to get in and have it done. In that week I googled anything and everything about stress fractures and based on what I was feeling and what other runners had written about how they felt when they had one, I basically diagnosed myself. The two biggest factors were that I failed the hop test (no can hop!) and the sharp pain I felt after 'unweighting' that leg after standing on it was what others noted as well. So really I just didn't know if it was femur or femoral neck, and I didn't know if it was a stress fracture or stress reaction, but I figured something along those lines...

Email from doc came today and she said it was a stress reaction of the femur. I didn't cry when I read her email, because I'd already mentally accepted that this would be the diagnosis. Honestly, I'm relieved to hear t's just a "reaction" vs full fracture and I'll attribute the fact that it didn't progress to the fact that I didn't attempt to run through it (ok, well, after I did Vineman I didn't attempt to further run through it!). I did walk a lot, and I have been swimming and riding my bike. It actually feels like it's improved since a week ago (I can mostly walk without a limp now, nearly 6 weeks post Vineman). I have no pain with swimming or riding or water running (which I've been doing in the ocean!)

So. Going forward I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to be able to do? I'll have a call with my doctor tomorrow to learn what she has to say about what she recommends I should and should not do for the next (I'm guessing) 4-6 weeks. Part of me thinks 4-6 weeks feels like FOREVER but then I know that it'll fly by in a flash if I have the right mindset about it.

I had to tell my Ragnar Hawaii friends/teammates to find a replacement runner for me for that relay run in October b/c obviously I won't be able to do that. That's really there only thing that made me cry (that was last week). That would have been super fun and that weekend I'll be bummed for sure when I'm home and they are running all over the big island...

I won't document this day by day (b/c OMG can you say boring??) but because there will probably be someone I don't know who will google "stress reaction femur" and will want to know what to expect, I'll write maybe once/week with my progress and what I'm feeling and doing...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

#OceanSwimmingProblems

Last night I sent a text to Mark about swimming today... This is how workout planning is going right now...
I don't think I would have chosen to swim that long today but Mark is doing a long weekend of swimming next month... 3x channels (like 5-6 hours/day swimming 3 days in a row between Maui>Lanai>Molokai I think?) I actually asked if I could do it too but it's a boys trip no girls allowed so ok whatever I'll still train long sometimes.

Walking to the water this morning I looked down and saw the biggest man-o-war I think I've ever seen. My eyes got huge like OMG. It had a tentacle that must have been at least 6ft long. I didn't get a picture but it looked a lot like this (pic stolen off the internet somewhere).
We looked around and sure enough saw 2 more right nearby. Ugh. I asked Mark what he thought the chances were of us swimming this morning and not getting stung? His response, "Fucking ZERO." Awesome. I didn't get up at 5:30 to go to the beach and not swim, so I bucked up and prepared myself for some pain and got in and started swimming.

Sure enough, 10min in I felt the searing electrocuting pain around my face/armpit. GAH! ARGH! UGH! I hate that! I think after having been stung like 6-8x/year for the past 11 years I've got a bit of an immunity to some man-o-war stings, but these big ones are legit and they hurt like mad. I'd rank the sting I got today in the top 3 worst of my life. Out of sheer stubbornness, I kept swimming, but can't say I enjoyed the rest of the swim at all. Mostly b/c every stroke I had this fear that I was going to get electrocuted again. I didn't, but the pain from the first sting lasted 3+ hours until the Benadryl kicked in.

We didn't make it 4 miles but got close to 3, which was a miracle in and of itself. My chin and armpit are still swollen and welted almost 10 hours later. I should know to stay out of the ocean when we see man-o-war on the sand like that... But then again Mark managed to get through the swim without getting stung (lucky!!) so sometimes it works out ok. #soyouresayingtheresachance

Monday, August 15, 2016

To Blog or Not To Blog...

I go back and forth about blogging these days. Like should I keep blogging my training or no? What I'm doing right now doesn't even really feel like "training"... It's very haphazard just whatever I feel like on the day with a focus on swimming because I have 3 ocean swim races coming up this fall (4k, 5k, 7k). My hip and all the surrounding muscles are still "angry" so I have not been running at all, though I need to get that fixed ASAP b/c I agreed to be on a Ragnar team running the first Ragnar relay on the Big Island in October (more on this maybe in another blog!) I've been riding a bit but all road bike just super relaxed/cruisy effort just because I like riding my bike and don't know what to do with myself when I can't run.

Anyway, swam at lunch today in a different pool from my regular pool (regular pool is closed for repairs for a few weeks). Water was HOT and I cooked myself for sure. Got in a solid 5k that started with 2 x 1000m swims both of which were way faster than they felt like they should have been based on my effort (15:35/15:10). For a while I just thought that pool was just faster than my regular pool, and maybe it is by a bit, but when I got to the main set of 200's I def started to swim a more 'normal' pace for the effort and toward the end felt terribly nauseous and sick. Working hard in 84 degree water for 90min will do that to you. The last of my notes from TP today...
Anyway, there you have it. So exciting, no?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

My Own Finger Wag

The days/weeks following an Ironman can be challenging. I tell my athletes this too, but you never really know how you're going to come out of an Ironman (mentally). Sometimes you're still in it and feeling on fire and like yep lets get right back to it! While other times the bike stays packed for a really long time while you eat ice cream on the couch...

I'm somewhere in the middle this time around. I spent a week on the mainland vacationing with my family and not thinking much about exercise at all. To be fair, that adductor spasm I had for 8 hours while I was biking/running around Windsor is still lingering a bit. All the surrounding muscles and attachment points are "angry" (according to Dr Zen) and I'm still limping when I walk, so haven't considered running.

I don't have any big goals coming up so feel a little lost about what's next... But I have to say, I have a bit of inspiration to swim a legit prep for the 5k ocean swim race coming up next month. Our summer series here is 5 races (The upcoming 5k is separate and not part of the series). I won my age group in the first 4 this year but then wasn't able to be at the last one because I was on vacation, so I wasn't eligible to win the series. Then I saw that the gal who I'd been beating all summer posted this on Facebook after the last race...


"We did it?" Who is that happy after winning by default? 


It's all good. Lights a little fire which makes me want to be READY for the 5k. Bring it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Vineman Highlights & Fun Facts

~Staying in a cool place with cool people makes the whole race experience super awesome. We rented a ‘treehouse’ in Monte Rio which is about 4 miles past the swim start (toward the ocean) and it was in the middle of a redwood forest and it was just great. I stayed with my family and my friend/athlete Kelly. Kelly and I mesh quite well as race weekend travel partners and there’s absolutely nothing I would do differently if I were to do it again.

~The day before the race is commonly a whirlwind and this experience was no different. We really enjoyed the pre-race swim and social hour, but then we had to drive to Windsor to drop our run stuff off then back home to prep our bikes then ride to T1 to drop those… Doesn’t seem like a lot but throw in a solid traffic jam and the fact that my bike prep took some extra time and I don’t know… it felt like rush rush rush! Fun Fact: Athlete friends who mail you their new PowerTap P1 pedals so you can have wattage data on race day are gems (thanks Anne Marie!!). Not-so-fun fact: I still couldn’t walk without limping because my hip was still all locked up. It just seems like not an ideal scenario to be limping when you’re checking your run shoes in for an Ironman the next day.

~I spent a ton of time with a lacrosse ball jammed into my hip pocket on Friday night hoping against hope that a miracle would happen. Shockingly enough, I woke up Saturday morning and my hip pain had disappeared overnight(!?) and I had zero hip pain throughout the whole race. Fast forward 3 days later and I am limping again because its back feeling exactly like it did pre-race. Super weird? But even though I’m scratching my head about it, I’m really thankful that the hip thing wasn’t a problem over the weekend.

~Race morning went smoothly and I have to say I’m a huge fan of the self-seeded rolling start. To be honest, I like a good mass start the best, but self-seed rolling is better than wave starts that put women 40+ at the back. Or stupid systems like Louisville where they go first come first serve… Clear water and clear roads to start the bike… Yes please! I seeded myself right up front in the sub-60min group and it was ideal. Fun Fact: Most everyone who seeded themselves in the group up front had nice wide shoulders. :)

~For the most part the swim was uneventful. I scraped my fingertips on the bottom a fair amount and even though I swore I would NOT stand up and walk any part of the swim, when the water was only about a foot deep I kind of felt like I had no other choice. I don’t swim in my wetsuit enough to be super happy in it so I did find myself wanting to take the wetsuit OFF. I didn’t feel like any magic was happening on that swim but I knew it was fine and well, that’s it. I was hoping to lead my age group out of the water and win the Roka FOTW award, and that happened, so, thumbs up!

~I felt strong to start the bike (doesn’t everyone in an Ironman?) and having power data to look at was reassuring that I was doing the right thing even when girls were storming by me. For the most part it’s a beautiful bike course and I really enjoyed it. I felt my first twinges of cramps after I stopped pedaling while descending Chalk Hill. If I’m honest, I kind of thought that I was screwed. Like, um, how am I going to ride another loop and then do this climb again without completely seizing up?? I didn’t get mad about it though. Instead I just went into management mode and let myself soft-pedal whenever the course allowed it, hoping that giving my muscles intermittent breaks would allow me to not have to end up sitting on the side of the road watching my quads contract uncontrollably. It worked. I had to climb as easy as possible that second loop (and I spoke out loud(!) to my muscles thanking them for hanging in there and doing a good job) which allowed me to get by with only minor twinges- no full on muscle seizures. Fun Fact: saying out loud Thank you legs you did a great job works to prevent cramping.

~I was a complete pussy on downhills and during sections of crappy pavement. Probably what I get for doing the vast majority of my riding inside in the weeks leading up to this race.

~My desire to eat was pretty much zero but I made myself do it, because fueling correctly is a choice. I ate 4x bonk breaker bars and a snickers bar and 5x gels. Yep. All of that. I figure that was ~1750 total cal, which is maybe slightly on the low side but I never felt like I was bonking at all. I drank 4x bottles of Osmo plus waters from aid stations (I’d drink some and pour some over myself so I don’t really know how much water I drank maybe 2-3 bottles total?). Definitely a lot less fluid than I would drink at home but it was also a lot cooler. I think it was enough because I started peeing at ~mile 40 and then on every downhill on the whole second loop, I peed more. I have no problem peeing on my bike. Fun fact: The first time I peed on my bike was 18 years ago! I also took e21 every hour and a few MAP (Master Amino Pattern) tabs. Overall I’m happy enough with how I fueled myself on the day.

~I knew I hadn’t had a stellar ride but whatever- it was fine. I was happy to have had no major mishaps. Honestly I always feel like it’s a minor miracle to make it to T2 with air in both tires and no mechanical issues. With a big sigh of relief I handed my bike off to a volunteer and ran into the T2 tent where I sat down on the ground in a far corner and peed (again) in the grass. Fun fact: Even full of urine, my Coeur Sports tri shorts never chafed me at all!

~Starting the run my legs felt better than I expected them to. I made a point though to hold back and go easy because I’ve done enough of these things to know that OMG it gets hard… So my thought was that I didn’t need to go out of my way to make it get hard because that was just happen all on its own. Sure enough somewhere around mile 8-9 I felt my legs start the twinges again. My #1 goal was to not be forced to walk for long stretches so I knew I needed to avoid the major charlie horse type of cramping. I figured my best bet would be to nip it in the bud when I felt the cramps coming on… So I functioned by taking 5 walking steps every time I felt a twinge. That short amount of time was enough to ‘reset’ myself then I made myself get back to jogging. This is how I managed to get myself up that big hill all 3 times as well… Jog 20 steps, walk 5, jog 20, walk 5, count to 20, count to 5, repeat repeat repeat. (I need to thank Marilyn for teaching me that system last year when I was falling apart during the Louisville marathon- Thanks Marilyn!) 

~I never looked at my watch during the run. I knew my best bet was to try to keep myself from getting mad/frustrated and my best bet for that was to 1) fuel enough to keep my brain functioning, and 2) focus only on managing myself in the moment I was in. I’ve learned from experience that any excess emotion (excited, frustrated, mad, etc) results in immediate and massive/painful debilitating cramping so I was actively trying to avoid emotion. I think if there’s one thing I’m most proud of about this race, it’s that I managed to do this. It’s for sure the best I’ve ever done in an Ironman as far as not getting mad when I wasn’t doing as well as I was hoping.

~I managed to get down 5 gels during the marathon, which was a huge feat! The first 3 went down pretty easy. The last 2 were forced and took me quite some time to finish (like I’d hold the gel in my hand and just take tiny sips of it every few minutes). I like Honey Stinger gels the best but after I went through my personal stash I took Clif Shots from the aid stations and yikes those things are THICK. Yuck. But again, fueling correctly is a choice so I gagged them down. I never had any stomach issues but I chewed a few Tums anyway. Continued with my e21 every hour and a few MAP tabs at various points as well. Water and Coke at aid stations and I grabbed a Base salt container thing and licked my thumb with that a few times as well. 

~As I (finally!) got close to the finish line I started to get excited and that’s when the most severe cramping came on. It’s happened in Kona and in Cabo before- I get close to the finish and I start to get excited and try to pick up the pace a bit and BAM! Cramp! So I’m less than a quarter mile away from the finish on Saturday and I’m bent over trying to stretch out my adductor which had decided it was all done even attempting to function for the day… Spectators are trying to tell me the finish is RIGHT THERE(!) and I’m like I KNOW(!) but I seriously couldn't move. It kinda sucks that I can’t even let myself get excited or be really happy until after I cross the line but I knew I had to hold off any emotions so I was telling myself to just relax and stay calm and one foot in front of the other just get there, etc. Not-so-fun Fact: Vineman has a really long finish shoot and for like 1/2 mile everyone is telling you “It’s right around the corner!” but they’re all lying because there’s always another corner to run around.

~I distinctly remember how mad I was about what I felt was a shitty performance at Louisville last year and I know I pretty much ruined the whole race experience for everyone because I just endlessly bitched about it all afterward. I actively made a choice before this race that no matter what I was NOT going to act like that this time. And I didn’t! So while I wasn’t even remotely stoked about finishing in 11:35, I smiled and let it go and congratulated my friends and athletes who were finishing and thanked my parents and husband and daughter for being there and sat around and drank beer and exchanged race stories and just generally enjoyed the whole finish area.

Final Thoughts:

~I don’t know why my muscles don’t seem to function during Ironman races? Instinctively my first thought is that I just didn’t train enough (wasn’t strong enough) and while this may be true in part, I know there are a lot of athletes who train less and their legs function better. That said, I think most of the girls who finished ahead of me on Saturday train longer. I really don’t think my issue is/was fueling or hydration or electrolytes or anything like that. I feel like I did all of that pretty much the very best I could all day. Not-so-Fun Fact: My quads hurt so much during that run that I didn't even know I had this blister until I took my shoes off.

~I’m sort of glad I experimented with the shorter but more frequent and higher intensity indoor bike training. I think it was good in a lot of ways, but it’s not a substitute for long outdoor riding so if I could go back and do it again I would ride longer outside more often. I think I would also do more long/extended downhill running.

~I wonder how much of my muscle dysfunction is due to my brain expecting muscle dysfunction because of all the times in the past when my muscles have not functioned during long races? Like, I want to believe that my muscles will work solidly for all 11 hours but it’s like realistically they never actually have so how can I make myself believe that?? I don’t know.
~So what's next? Honestly, I don't know. After Louisville I swore no more Ironmans. I definitely had the thought during this one that I wasn't sure if I wanted to try it again. But I finished and thought that maybe, under the right conditions, I would come back. And if I were to try it again, I would come back to this race without hesitation. I genuinely did love the whole trip and we got to see family and friends and athletes and if not for triathlon I wouldn't be here right now so the thought of hanging it up doesn't sit well. That said, I'm not sure I'd want to coach myself through another one. I've really liked coaching myself this year(!), but I also really like having a coach. My issue with hiring another one is mostly that the thought of going through the learning curve with a new coach is daunting. I'd really like to work with a coach who genuinely wants to work with me (I think this is imperative in a coaching relationship!) If I work with one who doesn't already know me then he/she would have to want to take the time to get to know me and how I tick, because I think coaching a masters female who has been doing this for 20+ years is different than coaching someone who is newer at it all... I was telling someone after the race that what I'd really like is if there's an experienced coach out there who has sort of followed along with what I've been doing and thinks to him or herself If only I could get my hands on her I could help her I'm sure of it... This is probably a long shot but what the hell I'll throw it out there anyway... If you're that coach and you think you can help me, shoot me a note and lets start a conversation...