Sunday, January 30, 2011

Honeymoon Training

If you have ever planned a wedding, there probably came a time when you thought ... "after the craziness surrounding all of this planning, I get to celebrate with my loved ones at my wedding AND I get to go on the honeymoon!" ... and that thought alone was enough to get you through the stressful times.

For me, training for a big race like Ironman can get overwhelming, stressful, tiring , but usually I really enjoy it. It is probably an 85%/15% split on love/hate.

I don't enjoy endless hours indoors on the trainer and I am getting itchy for the open road, but when I start getting frustrated I remind myself that I get to celebrate all of my training by racing an Ironman (the wedding) AND this year, right after IMTX I get to go on a second honeymoon to Belize (we celebrated 10 years of wedded bliss in December)!

So, when the temps get hot and the miles get long, I will be thinking of two things to get me through - the IMTX finish line and a hammock outside of a beachfront cabana in Belize.

If you have ever been to Belize, I would love your input on what to do / where to stay /etc.

The first month of Ironman training is in the books, coming in around 44 hours. Not bad for my first month back. I got the majority of my workouts in and didn't miss any of the "important" ones. I am not nearly the slave to my plan that I once was, but I still make time to get er' done. I could probably stand a few more days a month in the pool, but as many before me have said ... it's all about the bike.

Happy February! I don't know about you, but I can already hear the sound of the waves ...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dancing in Heaven - Q-Feel

It never ceases to amaze me how different I can feel running (or swimming or biking for that matter) from one day to the next. One session makes can make me feel like an Olympic champion and the next makes me feel like the kid who got picked last in gym class (well, as a tomboy, that wasn't me, but I felt for the kids that did).

If you like bad 80s movies, it reminds me of the lyrics of the song Dancing in Heaven (Orbital Be-bop) by one hit wonder, Q-Feel, featured in my all time favorite movie as a child, Girls Just Want to Have Fun. I can't tell you how many times I have seen the movie, but there were plenty of nights growing up that I would watch it multiple times in one night. I *really* wanted to be a dancer.

Anyhow, back to the lyrics -- part of the chorus repeat is "Slow - slow - quick, quick slow" and that is how my workouts sometimes feel (check out the You Tube link to hear the song), although thankfully my workouts are more like "Quick, slow, quick, quick, slow" ...

The good news is that I try to remember the words of Caballo Blanco from the book Born to Run (I am paraphrasing here because I listened to it on Audio book, so I don't have the book to look up the quote), "When you feel like running fast, run fast, and when you feel like running slow, run slow."

Don't get me wrong, there are definitely times for intervals and speed work, but what I took Caballo's words to mean were simply, listen to your body.

Week 3 of IM training is behind me and my muscle memory is coming back. Getting up early is getting easier, although I do miss the extra sleep. Happy training and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Too Hot to Handle

The joys of traveling and training ...

Woke up in chilly Ft. Smith, Arkansas this morning on business and decided not to tempt fate by running outside in the dark in an unfamiliar area, especially when ice was a possibility.

I opted instead for the hotel "gym", a room just large enough for two old school treadmills, an elliptical, a bench with free weights and a recumbent bike. There was not room for much of anything else, including walking around room. My hotel room itself was definitely larger than this cubicle of a hotel gym. Sadly, this hotel actually had better facilities than the hotel I stayed at last week ...

There was an old school big box TV mounted on the wall on a news station, but no volume, so I ran with tunes and decided to make the best of it. What I didn't bargain for was the heat. There was no fan in the room and the heat must have been on high because I was drenched within a mile and my heart rate was screaming. It wasn't as hot a Bikram yoga session, but you are also not running during yoga, so I will call it a tie.

I was spent after 5 miles and had to take 15 minutes to cool down before getting in the shower. It was definitely not my finest run, but it is in the books and I stayed the course despite wanting to quit at the halfway point. Score 1 for winning the mental challenge. Can I count that as heat training for IMTX?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Conflicting Goals

"One of the most maddening parts about timed racing is that speed - the very component that truly defines success - is largely incidental. Whether it's swimming, biking or running, speed is overwhelmingly influenced by terrain, weather, equipment, and a host of other factors. Did you shave 10 seconds off your PR in the pool because of hard training or was it because of that new full-body rubberized suit? Was that 5K PR due to smarter pacing or was it a tailwind pushing you along? Nowhere are these questions more prevalent than when you're on the bike, where wind speed, road surface, tire choice, equipment aerodynamics, topography and even air density play a role in speed. How fast you go is all that gets recorded in the official results, but it doesn't even come close to telling the whole story of what it took to get there."

- Jordan Rapp, "Power Play", Lava Magazine

The above is an excerpt from a Lava Magazine article on training with power (which I don't, in case you were wondering). This concept that speed is incidental is one of the first lessons that Coach Carole taught me last year. Carole was far more concerned about the execution of my plan (for a given workout or race) than she was about my speed, since it is all relative.

That brings me to this quote from Mirinda Carfrae from the "Chasing Down a Ghost" article, also in Lava Magazine (by Susna Legacki) ...

"My goal was to race my own race, and I did that. I knew that people would ask about Chrissie (Wellington, 2009 champion who did not race due to illness), but I really know that I raced my best on my best day and I just wanted the focus to be on that."

So, what does all of this have to do with me? With week two of IM training behind me, I have been struggling to articulate my triathlon goals for 2011.

I can say without question, on a perfect day, I would like to break 12 hours at IMTX. To refer to my teammate Mike Moore's (no relation) term and one that I have used before, it is my BHAG. Big, Harry, Audacious Goal -- a stretch goal that is still achievable.

But I don't want to define success at IMTX based on a time goal. My goal at Cedar Point was to race my best on my best day, to adapt to the conditions and know at the end of the race that I had done my best. I feel like I got 90% of the way there (see my run race report for details).

So, for IMTX my goal will be the same - to race my best race. Will my fitness be there to break 12 hours? Will the conditions help me or hurt me? I can control the first (well, some what, more on that ...) but not the second.

IMTX will be my third Ironman but the first I have trained for with a significant work travel schedule. The workouts that suffer the most during travel are typically the ones in the pool. Hotel pools are invariably too small and a lot of the small towns I visit do not have other facilities available close by.

Going through this exercise has also reminded me of why I compete -- I enjoy having a goal to work towards, I like this lifestyle and I like pushing myself from time to time to see how I am doing (e.g. a race). What I have also realized though, is that after 3 years in the sport, that improvements in race times will be harder to come by and I have to be ok with that, unless I am willing to sacrifice something else (time/balance, money) to get faster, which for the time being, I am not.

Like race day, I am going to do the best I can through training. I am going to get in all of the workouts that I can, and especially the long training and intervals and know that when I show up on race morning that I am racing as a wife, mother, full time employee and athlete. I will be mentally prepared to push hard to race my best race - regardless of the time on the clock when I cross the finish line.

p.s. I ordered the Cycleops 2 Fluid Trainer - product review to come!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Seeking Your Wisdom: Fluid Trainers

Alright, blogger buddies, I need some help.

I don't mind riding indoors. Honestly, I don't ... but I hate my trainer.

I currently have a Blackburn Trackstand Fluid trainer that is probably about 3 years old. I can't seem to dial it in to get the prescribed ride effort level my workout calls for. It seems to be too easy or too hard and I don't feel like I am getting as much from my indoor riding as I should.

Since I will likely be spending some quality time on my trainer in the upcoming months when the weather is too cold and/or rainy for this Texas girl, I want to make sure that I am getting the best workout that I can.

My question is, if I upgrade my trainer, will I have a better indoor riding experience? I have been reading good things about the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and Cycleops Fluid Trainer 2. What trainer do you suggest? Positive and negative reviews welcome.

On a side note, week one of IM training is in the books ... 19 to go!

I appreciate your pearls of wisdom, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Aspire to be More Like my Dog

Meet Indy, my faithful chocolate lab aka The Best Dog in the World

This lovely brunette is almost 4, which is 28 in dog years. As the only girls in a house full of boys, we have to stick together, so it is good that we have a lot in common. Besides being close to the same age (I am 31) and brunettes, we are passionate about many of the same things in life and we are both fiercely loyal.

We both love …

1 - Eating
2 - Relaxing lazily in the warm Texas sun
3 - Sleeping for 10+ hours at a time (or more)
4 - Running around like crazy for fun
5 - Playing with and protecting our boys
6 - Hiding from our boys when they are being, well, boys
7 - Cuddling on the couch
8 - Wrapping up in a warm blanket
9 - Attention (unless it is a result of #6)
10 - Being with our family
11 - A good back scratching
12 - Sneaking food from the boys

… just to name a few.

For as much as we have in common though, she has (at least) one quality that I seek to possess…

Sheer excitement to go for a run no matter what time of the day, how hot or cold it is outside or how tired (who am I kidding) she may be. She does not love to swim (hmm, not sure if I do either) and she can’t cycle so I can’t speak to those sports.

Let me paint a picture with words on what I am talking about.

Tuesday morning, 5:25 AM. Bedroom is dark. I am up, have brushed my teeth, put in my contacts and put on my running clothes. I am sitting on the bedroom floor putting on my socks and shoes and I look up at the bed to see Indy staring at me longingly, much like in the photo above.

I get up early often, so I know it is the running shoes that have given me away. I ask her if she wants to come for a run with me and her head perks up. I finish tying my shoes and tell her that she better get off the bed if she is going to come with me. She immediately jumps down and stretches (something I should do more of too).

As I stand up she starts walking circles around me in excitement. When we get to the utility room to grab her leash she starts jumping up and down. She can no longer contain her excitement about what is about to happen. When we get to the street, I barely have time to hit the start button on my Garmin before she is ready to take off.

Her leash is adjustable so I am able to wear it around my waist so that I do not have to hold it while we run. After the initial quarter mile or so, her pace settles in as her excitement becomes pure contentment to simply be running – and you can tell by the smile on her face.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


So long, farewell, aufwiedersehn, goodbye ...

To sleeping in past 6 am
To staying up late
To the extra 7 hours a week
To the dust on my Felt
To the 7 pounds that I need to lose

Goodbye, offseason! I will miss you greatly these first weeks back in the saddle when I am getting up with the moon, but I am excited to put you behind me as I prepare to tackle IMTX.