Monday, May 31, 2010

Coaching Update

With six weeks of coaching under my belt, I am happy to report that coaching is going extremely well. It is such a relief to not be second guessing myself all of the time -- Am I doing too much? Am I doing enough? -- and to know that each workout Coach Carole gives me has a specific purpose.

Intervals - check. Long workouts - check. Recovery - check.

The absolute best part about having a coach is being able to ask questions, to get suggestions and most importantly, to be challenged.

Carole and I have been spending a lot of time talking about nutrition lately and her latest advice was a major eye opener for me. You see, as a woman, I still struggle with the idea that I need to take in a lot of calories when I exercise. I say as a woman because I think many women struggle with this concept.

Don't get me wrong, I am very focused on nutrition when I train and race because I know how important it is to be able to achieve my desired results, but I was still thinking about it all wrong. Until recently, my thought process was, "what is the least amount of calories I can consume and perform?" What I realize now, thanks to Coach Carole, is that I need to figure out not how little I can consume but how MUCH I can consume and still perform. The better fueled I am, the better I will perform.

Think about it -- if I can get by with 200 calories an hour, but my body can handle 300 calories an hour, that extra 100 calories may be the difference between performance and peak performance.

I am still perfecting my nutrition plan, but I am doing so with a totally different mindset and I think my performance will be all the better for it!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hours in a Day

At a post t-ball dinner recently, one of the other parents asked me about my training and, in what I perceived as perhaps a slightly accusatory tone, asked me whether my training takes up 30% or more of my time. Intuitively I said no, but admitted that training is a significant time commitment.

The conversation stuck with me and I decided to play around a bit in Excel to see exactly what percentage of my time I spend doing various activities in a given week. I am a total data nerd, I know ... so, how do you spend your time?
The hours left represent, well everything else, including quality family time - a big priority for me (one that I could not quantify by a daily time allowance). Thankfully, I also get family time during meal times, commuting (when I take the boys to/from school) and at church. I could have attempted to put in even more categories, but really, the remaining items are so diverse they would not make up a statistically significant percentage of my weekly time.

What this exercise showed me was that sleeping and working take up the majority of my time, followed by "hours left" -- and it really confirmed what I already knew, that is, that I make time for what is important to me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Better Late Than Never - April In Numbers

The CPA in me gets frustrated when I don't do things in order, so before I can do anything else I have to, for my own sake, post my April report. Let's just pretend it isn't already mid-May!

For the first time since I have been tracking, year over year, my numbers were slightly down for the month, but with good taper and recovery weeks in the monthly totals for an April "A" race, I am not surprised.

April in Numbers
Swim: 18,912 yards in 7:32
Bike: 331.5 miles in 19:13
Run: 83.93 miles in 12:28
Other: 1:30
Total Time: 40:43

I committed to myself at the beginning of the year to revisit my goals once a month to see what sort of progress I have been making (or not as the case may be!) ...

Goal Tracking
1. Photography – April was a pretty good month behind the camera. Between bluebonnet photos and taking pictures every week at Andrew's t-ball games, I have been enjoying using my creative side.

Tyler & Andrew Gabe (t-ball friend) & Andrew

2. Nutrition – I focused on recovery this month using Ultragen and it is really working for me. If you are not using some sort of recovery drink directly after hard efforts, I highly recommend giving it a try. You will be amazed how quickly your body can recover if you let it. I still need an easy to make, healthy new dinner recipe - any suggestions?

3. Strength Training – Strength training was spotty in April, but I am happy to report this will look better in May (cheating because I know the first half of May results!)

4. Swim Technique – I have been working on my turnover and finishing my stroke through to my hip. If you have a swim tip you think is helpful, I would love to hear it!

5. Fun goals – I PR’d the HIM! Woot! :)

Check out this photo of me riding in my cycling kit -- my buddy Ryan took the photo while he was riding too, I am impressed!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ironman Texas 70.3 aka Lonestar HIM Race Report

For those of you who don’t want the nitty gritty details, here are the highlights:

Swim: felt better than my time reflects, not sure what happened there. Sighting was decent and swam freestlye the entire way.

Bike: a touch of hip pain slowed me down around mile 20, but I found a comfortable position and hammered it on the way back. Cross/head wind on the way out and cross/tail wind on the way back.

Run: I executed my plan and had even splits for the first 3 loops and opened it up the last loop.

Overall: I wanted to break 5:45:00 and I did it! That is an 8 minute PR for me on a similar course under similar conditions, I’ll take it!

Swim: 47:19 (43 of 76 in AG; 820 of 1337 Overall)
T1: 2:46
Bike: 3:00:17 – 18.6 mph (22 of 76 in AG; 630 of 1337 Overall)
T2: 1:59
Run: 1:51:57 – 8:33 pace (17 of 76 in AG; 328 of 1337 Overall)
Total Time: 5:44:18 (19 of 76 in AG; 452 of 1337 Overall)

Detailed Race Report

Packet pick-up and bike drop off were the night before the race, so we drove down to Galveston after a full day. I picked up my packet, dropped off my bike and got a short swim in on the course.

I have been using Trislide for anti-chafing with great success, but I was anxious to try it out with my wetsuit. I sprayed it on my ankles, wrists and neck to see how effective it would be come race day at aiding in wetsuit removal and I will never use anything else again! After my swim (which was spooky since I don't do a lot of open water swims solo), I was able to pull my wetsuit off without a struggle thanks to the Trislide. That was a first for me - normally I look like one of those "how many triathletes does it take to change a light bulb" jokes!

I also found out they cancelled the swim for the Sprint and Olympic distance races earlier in the day and was relieved that the forecast for the half looked much better.

Since we stayed in a smoky, dumpy motel, we only went back to the room to sleep. We ate our pre-race pizza on the seawall before calling it a night.

Race morning
I-Hop oatmeal for breakfast and then straight to transition for body-marking and getting situated. Then it was time for the waiting game. My wave went off 1:05 after the pros …

Waiting, waiting, waiting …

Still waiting …

My parents arrived and a quick hug and kiss later, it was time to go join the other blue caps on the dock. I had to take in some calories right before the swim since it had been hours since breakfast! When it was finally our turn, we jumped in and treaded water for a few minutes before the gun went off for our race.

Me with Parents
My wave getting ready

note: it is slightly disconcerting to see a swimmer coming in on a jet ski right before your wave starts!

The swim felt great. Yes, I was pummeled a time or two, but overall, I felt like my sighting was good and I was swimming strong. I was pretty disappointed in my swim time because I felt faster than that, but the good news was that my best two sports were yet to come!

I RAN toward the wetsuit strippers and saw Doug as I was headed into transition, which always gives me a sense of peace and calm as I get ready for the loneliest, most self-reflective part of the race.

I am pretty happy with my transition time, although they can always get faster! I was 14 of 76 in my AG for this transition and within 30 seconds of the winner of my AG.

I saw Doug again right as I was mounting my bike (he should totally win the spectator award for running around to see me as many times as possible) and then I saw my mom as I was turning the corner to head out of Moody Gardens.

Bike Out
The course was a generally flat (minus bridges) out and back along the coastline and while there was wind, I would not call it a windy day. I guess all those rides this Spring into horrible winds paid off because I felt strong. I developed some hip/leg pain around 20 miles into the bike that affected my power, but shifting positions helped and it finally went away shortly after the turnaround.

There was definitely a bit of wind help on the way back in and I felt like I was flying. It felt great to be passing people left and right. My only pet peeve was that many riders were not staying to the right so to pass I had to go into the traffic lane. When I saw that I was within striking distance of my 3:00 bike split goal, I put the hammer down.

I drank First Endurance EFS on the bike and felt fantastic when I hit the dismount line, ready to run and knowing I had taken in plenty of electrolytes to keep me going. It was a warm day, so taking in plenty of sodium was key!

Again, pretty happy with my transition time. 20 of 76 in my AG and again within 30 seconds or less of the leaders.

Running the Bike Into T2
Running Out of T2
This is the one portion of the HIM that I felt like I had the most room for improvement. My first HIM was all about finishing. I ran the entire course, but it was hilly and I was conservative for the majority of the run because I didn’t want to compromise the finish. Run pace was 10:19 on a hilly course.

My second HIM I wanted to break the 6:00 hour mark and when I got off the bike, I knew what I had to run to break 6:00 so that it what I did. Again, a conservative move. Run pace was 9:37 on a course and in temperatures similar to Galveston.

For Lonestar, I wanted to throw conservatism out the window and see what I could do. My plan was to run the first 3 loops of the 4 loop course below 8:45 min/miles. I ended up clocking 8:35, 8:38 and 8:37 averages for those laps. For the last lap, I decided to not look at my Garmin, but to run however fast I could, simply using perceived exertion. With exactly 3 miles to go I looked at my overall time for the day to calculate what approximate pace I needed to finish under 5:45.

I am never great at math in my head, but definitely not at the end of a 70.3 while running towards the finish. My rough estimate was that I needed something close to an 8:00 min mile average for the last 3 miles to break 5:45 and I thought it was a long shot, but I decided it didn’t matter, I was running as hard as I could maintain for 3 miles. All I could think about at the time was how fast and light I felt in my Saucony Fastwitch 4s. Each mile got faster and I ended up with an 8:18 average for the last 3.275 miles.

I was running ...
I for one, really enjoyed the loop course. I loved the fan support and getting to see my family over and over again. It can be mentally challenging to pass the finish line repeatedly, but that is far outweighed by the excellent fan support, especially from my #1 fan (my amazing hubby) and my parents, who cheered louder than anyone on the course that day!

As I ran into the finisher’s chute I passed several people, well squeezed by them, and while I felt bad about it at the time, I have decided that in the end, this is a race and if that means passing people in the last 20 yards on the far side of the chute (to get around them), then so be it. This was further re-affirmed when reading Ryan aka White Hot’s account of his 2nd place AG finish at IM St. George – second by .05 seconds. It can be a sprint to the finish. All said and done they were actually faster than me overall because they were in an AG that started after me, but that doesn't change my approach to the finisher's chute.

Finisher's Chute
It was also great to hear the announcer call my name and see my family cheering for me as I crossed the finish line. When I finally stopped running (momentum is not your friend here), I pressed stop on my watch and saw that it was still 5:44 … holy cow, I did it! Douglas and I were equally excited about my finishing time and I got the best post-race hug immediately after crossing the finish line! This is huge for him because he is not a big fan of sweat, and let me tell you, I was sweaty!

It was a great first race of the season. The benchmark has been set for the season and I am excited to see where I can go from here!

My #1 Fan an Ironmate!
My Support Crew

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Meet My Coach

I did it - after 2 years of being a self-coached age-group athlete, I have turned over my training plan to a coach! I have been wanting to do this for quite a while but the control freak in me was hesitant.

What if I needed to make last minute changes to the plan and move things around?
Also, until now, I have been accountable to myself and no one else - what would a coach think of my training to date? What if the coach thinks I am an impostor? What if I disappoint my coach?

Those were a few of the things that made me nervous, but they were offset by my desire to improve and to get the one thing I was missing from my training -- FEEDBACK!

Once I decided I was ready for a coach, I had to find one, and luckily for me, I didn't have to look too far.

I met my coach, Carole Sharpless, through Team Trakkers. Carole is a professional triathlete and all around extraordinary person. Her blog regularly makes me laugh in hysterics or cry and it is definitely worth a read.

So, why did I choose Carole? First and foremost, when I approached her to ask questions about coaching we were immediately on the same page, plus, personality wise, we are two peas in a pod. She loves to laugh and to be silly but she is passionate about what she does, she is fiercely loyal and absolutely knows her stuff.

She realizes that coaching is dynamic and that those of us who do not do this professionally have other obligations that come up and our schedules change -- so we have agreed that when that happens, we will just modify the schedule to make things work. This was my biggest concern and it turns out, it really wasn't an issue at all.

She is already teaching me so much about nutrition and being an expert about every single thing I put in my body ... and best of all, I immediately felt like part of her family and that my success is her success.

With the first race of the season behind me (race report to follow soon) and Cedar Point just 4.5 months away, I am excited to see how far and how hard Carole can push me!