Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Training for An Ironman is Like Pregnancy

I came across this post online and had to share -- in part because I have thought the same thing on more than one occassion and the comparisons are very true!

1. It takes 9 months out of your life to prepare for the event.

2. You're life will never be the same after completing an Ironman.

3. You crave strange foods, gels, and drinks at strange times of the day.

4. You sign up for an Ironman in the "heat of the moment" after volunteering.

5. You don't care who sees you naked anymore.

6. Its hard to sleep the week leading up to the event.

7. You tend to lose a lot of weight on the day of the event.

8. You have time during "training" to read books on how to make the event go more smoothly (like "Going Long" for tris and "What to expect when you're expecting" for pregnancy)

9. You eat all the time and are always hungry.

10. Getting a lot of sleep seems like a distant memory.

11. You find your body hurting in places that it never hurt before.

12. Every week or so you find yourself looking at a different person in the mirror.

13. You pee all the time (assuming you're staying hydrated.

14. You can use the excuse that you are training for an IM to eat a lot.

15. You're amazed at what your body can actaully accomplish.

16. You wonder what you did with all of your free time before training.

17. You wonder where you spent all of your money before triathlon.

18. You talk about the upcoming event all.the.time.

Feel free to add your own thought in the comments!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Anchors Aweigh

Monday was one of those days. I didn't want to get out of bed to swim. When I got to the pool I didn't want to get in the water. When I got in the water, my stroke felt off and my new Aquasphere Seal mask started leaking. Uggh. Can you see where this is going?

I felt myself going through the motions and I didn't want to reinforce bad technique so I told myself to quit whining and start swimming. I made it through the workout, only to have my swim coach give me grief about all of the things I was doing wrong that she said "came out of nowhere". I left swimming feeling pretty deflated.

I have made so much progress in the water and I have gotten used to hearing comments from my coach like, "you are looking like a swimmer" that taking her constructive criticism was more than I wanted to swallow on a Monday morning.

I did my best to learn from it and decided to get to Masters on time on Wednesday (5:30 a.m.) instead of 5:45 a.m. so that I could start my swim with the drill set instead of doing them at the end (I always do the entire workout, I just stay later).

Thankfully, today's swim was much better and my coach agreed. I felt much more confident walking out this morning! Plus, as I was leaving I noticed one of the guys swimming (next to our Masters group, but not in our group) laps had a IM tattoo, so I chatted with him for a moment. He is training for his third IM and he asked what I was training for. I told him I had signed up for Florida and he told me to have fun, you only get one "first Ironman"! Never thought about it that way before ...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mileage for Week Ending 2/22/09

My long bike ride got cut short this week, but I am still pretty happy with my mileage. I can tell that my training is ramping up because I am showering more than I am sleeping and I daydream about taking naps ... when I am not eating that is!

Swim: 5450 yards in 2 hrs 40 mins
Bike: 70 miles in 4:10
Run: 26.7 miles in 3:47
Total Time: 10:37

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I can't believe just over 2 years ago I was so clueless about triathlons ... I came across a post I wrote on a Mommy Message Board that I frequented when my boys were itty bitty. I have always wanted to do an Ironman, even before I knew much about them (obviously!).

Without further ado, this was me 2 years ago (posted 3/27/07):

"I have noticed in some recent threads (including my socks thread) that there are several triathletes on these boards and I would love to pick your brains.

I have done both sprint and olympic distance triathlons in the past, but it is one of my life dreams to do an Ironman. I have no desire to finish at the beginning of the pack - just to finish.

I have completed several marathons and century type bike rides. I am a horrible swimmer, so I know that I am going to have to take lessons for that.

Ok, so on to my questions. If you or a spouse completed either of these events - where did you do it? Close to home or did you travel? How competitive were you? Like I said, my goal is just to finish! For those that were at the back of the pack, how was the support? What was your training regimine? How long did you train?

I have an 8 year old Gary Fisher mountain bike that I have always used with hybrid tires for my long bike rides and the triathlons that I have done. Is investing in a road bike almost a necessity if I decide to do the Ironman?

How did you qualify, if necessary, for the event?

Is there a particular event that you recommend?

There is not a lot close to me, so I will probably have to travel to the race and always prefer to make a vacation out of these type of trips. For example, I did the Maui marathon in 2003. We arrived on Saturday mid-day and the race was Sunday. The rest of the trip was vacation.

I think that is it for now. Thanks for sharing! "

I followed that up with this reply:

"Thanks so much for the replies. Right now I am leaning towards researching the races, the equipment, etc. in 2007, signing up in 2008 and doing the race in 2009. I have a 6 week old that I plan on nursing for at least a year, so I think trying to do a race in 2008 would be difficult.

I am so happy to hear that the party really starts at the finish line for those that are finishing between 13 - 17 hours! I am going to use all the info that you all have given me, including the private messages I have received, to start my research. Thank you!"

What is so cool about this is that I ended up following through on this plan, even though shortly after I posted this I went back to work full time and put the dream (and research) on hold for about a year. I have learned a lot in 2 short years but I know that I still have a lot to learn!

How to Determine Training Volume?

So, last year my goal for the year was to finish a Half Ironman race. Sure, as the season progressed, I started to determine reasonable time goals, but ultimately my goal was to finish and I raced conservatively to ensure that I would make it to the finish line. The broader goal of the season was to determine whether I thought that I could physically complete an Ironman and I figured that I would see how I felt after the Half Ironman before deciding on whether to pursue Ironman in 2009. I actually utilized Don Fink’s “Be Iron Fit” ‘Just Finish’ Ironman training plan to train for the Half Ironman because I wanted to see if I could handle the training volume.

Fast Forward to February 2009 and I am registered for IMFL and I have picked most of my races to get me ready for the big race. I feel great about my goal and I am actually excited about the training …but this is where things get hard.

My goal for IMFL is to finish strong, but I am not attaching a time goal to the race. However, after a year of triathlon training and base building I feel like I have built a strong enough base to follow an Intermediate or Competitive plan (terms used in Don Fink’s book), but and this is a big BUT, I don’t want to burn out or get injured. Also, I have 2 Half Iron distance races on the calendar, at least one Olympic (if not two), and I will probably throw a Sprint or two in just for fun. These races will be great practice for IMFL, but I am still struggling with the appropriate training volume for this point in the season, for the other races I have on deck, and for my level of fitness … all given my overall goal for IMFL.

I am struggling with questions like whether to taper before the races or to treat them as long training days … do I really race the races or pace myself (especially in the half iron distance races)? I know I can race the Sprints and Olympics with fairly quick recovery times, but racing the Halfs is another story.

I trained for the Longhorn HIM for 24 weeks (granted there was some base building in there) and right now I am following a 13 week plan to prepare for the Lonestar Quarter and the Gulf Coast Tri Half – the problem I am facing is that there are so many plans to choose from with varying time demands and I want to pick the *right* one, and I am struggling to know how to do that.

Without a coach, maybe the confidence that I am doing the *right* thing will just have to come with time and logging the hours. I was never one to “just pass” in school and I think I look at my training the same way. Just because my goal is just to finish, doesn’t mean I want to short change my training. I want to finish strong and I want to find the plan or plans that will get me there … and right now, for me that means aiming for the plan with the most hours and using other plans as needed to tweak the plan to fit my needs.

It just seems like it would be so much easier if someone just told me what to do! :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

The goggle search continues ...

I think I am giving up on my Aquasphere masks and I am going to continue the search for goggles that don't leave horrible rings around my eyes. I tried a great pair this morning, Speedo Air Seal Tri Goggles, that were very comfortable and did not leak or fog, but they still left the "I just spent an hour and a half in the pool before the crack of dawn do you want to ask me about my crazy training hours" rings around my eyes.

I have a couple of other pairs on my list to try out but can't seem to find them locally. In a state as large as Texas and in a city as large as Houston, you would that one would have access to all of the gear she desired, but alas, no. You have to go to Austin for that!

I have tried:
-Speedo Women's Vanquisher
-Aquasphere Seal XP
-Aquasphere Women's Seal XP
-Aquasphere Vista
-Aquasphere Kaiman
-Speedo Air Seal Tri

I am going to see if anyone in my Masters group has a back-up pair of something I have not tried that I can borrow for a full practice. I would like to try Swedish goggles, but I think that I need a swimmer to fit them for me!

So, the search continues!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Great Customer Service!

It seems like more often than not, I am frustrated by the customer service I receive when I have to call a 1-800 number, whether it is because of a billing error, warranty issue, question, etc. So, I was beyond thrilled when I called Aquasphere (the maker of my swim mask/goggles) because I was having issues with them leaking and/or giving me hickies on my face from the suction.

When I called the 1-800 number for advice on how to properly put them on the nice woman offered to send me a slightly different pair for free, thinking that they might fit better. She asked me to call her back if they did not work so that we could try something else!

I called on Wednesday and received the mask today! I am looking forward to trying them out during my swim tomorrow.

Talk about great customer service!

Side note - In case you were wondering, I wear a swim mask (popular for triathlons and open water swimming because of the peripheral vision it allows) because goggles give me horrible rings around my eyes that last for hours and I worry that they are going to cause long term damage to the skin around my eyes.

It only took 1 year

I have been back on the workout band wagon for about a year now, which means I have been logging plenty of miles before work ... in the pool, at the gym, on the bike, etc. Every morning as I head to the gym or to the office I look like a bag lady, weighed down by my computer bag, gym bag, purse and lunch, among other things.

Well, Wednesday morning in my half asleep stupor I managed to remember my swim bag and towel, my gym bag, breakfast and lunch, computer bag and purse, but I FORGOT MY WORK CLOTHES!

That's right, my work attire. On my way to the office I called Doug to check on the boys and as he was gathering stuff for the boys he came across my suit jacket and asked me, "Hey, did you mean to leave the polka dot jacket thing here?"


To top it off, several lights near our house were blinking from the wind and rain storm the evening before, so traffic was a nightmare!

Doug was kind enough to grab my clothes and I met him and the boys at Andrew's school to get my clothes rather than fighting traffic two ways to go home and then to the office. I was just thankful that Doug made that off handed comment, because otherwise I would have been up a creek!

I figure forgetting my clothes once a year is a pretty good average -- you can be sure I will be double checking for my clothes in the weeks ahead!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

January Totals

27.75 total hours
120.5 miles running
24 miles biking
20,000 yards swimming

The last 2 weeks of taking it "easy" have been nice but I am getting itchy to get back into following a structured training program and logging more hours. I am taking 1 more week of maintenance and recovery before I start a 13 week training program to get me ready for the Lonestar Quarter Iron in Galveston in April and the Gulf Coast Tri Half Iron in Florida in May. I know that my body is appreciating the break despite my mind trying to convince me otherwise!

The last week of January I did about 5.5 hours and that will be increasing back up to the 8 - 10 hrs/wk average soon!