Thursday, July 26, 2012

1 month to Louisville

It appears there are still general entry slots available to Ironman Louisville.

I wonder if I had known that back in April, if I would've waited? And if I waited, would I have actually been training as much as I am now?

Yes, the rumors and rumblings are true. I am doing Ironman Louisville in ONE MONTH!

It's a bit hilarious and frightening. From October through early April, I was so burnt out and DISGRUNTLED that I didn't want to ever swim or bike or run again. Not anytime soon. So for over 6 months, I didn't. I tried to learn to race walk, but those Olympic Trials came and went, and my 12-minute miles for a 5k were no match for going sub-8 miles for a 20k. Of course I missed triathlon. I loved it and breathed it from when I was 18 years old to my foray into the professional ranks almost 10 years later. Somewhere toward the end of that short-lived pro career, it became something I had to do and was not fun or enjoyable any more.

On Easter Sunday (April 8th) I went for a short run for the first time in many months. It felt so free after trying to master a walking technique that was like "running with one foot on the ground" and having to focus on every step.

On April 11th, I renewed my YMCA membership. I swam for 30mins. My first swim in half a year. I told myself if I could get through 30mins of swimming, I could sign up for Ironman Louisville (I was told that in previous years it sold out by Tax Day). One of my besties, Amy, is racing and I was already planning to go as cheerleader. Zeke and Tory (old swim buddies) were also signed up! After so many ironmans, I had never actually done one with so many good friends! And I loved my homestay Kellie from when I raced in 2010. She has always been so supportive and welcoming, and their house is gigantic!

On April 12th, I decided to spend my tax refund on an Ironman entry fee. It will be my Ironman debut for the W30-34 age group.

I needed some motivation to kick my butt back into shape. I'm not trying to break any records or win anything or steal someone else's Kona slot. My goals for this race had always gone something like this:
  1. Find my happy place.
  2. Get back in shape.
  3. Learn how to balance triathlon with the rest of my new life.
  4. Rehab that knee injury from Ironman Korea.
  5. Get over the post-traumatic bike crash syndrome, also from IM Korea.
Do I have a time goal? Maybe get an amateur ironman PR for myself? The fastest I'd gone before turning pro was my 12:08 at Ironman Wisconsin in 2005.

Meeting my #1 fan Louis, in Louisville, in 2010.
And Colonel Sanders.
For sure goal: Finish with a smile and have KFC and bourbon at the finish line!

So you want to know what my training's been like since Easter Sunday? That day I started keeping a training log again. My weekly volume has gone something like this:
April: 5.5hrs, 6.5hrs, 8hrs
May: 9.5hrs, 10.5hrs, 6hrs, 9hrs
June: 11hrs, 7hrs, 13.5hrs, 10hrs
July: 4.5hrs, 7hrs, 14.5hrs, 14.5hrs

One month to go! That's scary. But my key workouts are showing some progress. In April, I wondered if I could go "from ZERO to Ironman" in the span of 4.5 months. I started out barely swimming 30mins and laughing at myself, that if I were in the Hunger Games and there was a swim challenge, I wouldn't be the first to die, but I certainly wouldn't win either. Now I can bust out 30x100's on a decent interval and do band-only 50's. ...When I'm not hungover. (Hey, it was my co-worker's going away party last night. Had to partake! I love the company I work for.)

My 30min runs have been built up to a 2.5hr easy long run and last weekend I could do a 2-hour track session of 800's. Slower than the olden days, but I was able to descend all of them and the last one I busted out was indicative that my body has not forsaken me. It will just take time to get that speed back. And I can hammer out hill repeats like nobody's business.

Onto the bike, I think I've mentioned recently that I still feel heavy on the uphills and that downhills scare me. But put me back to my old 4-hour flat TT loop that I had plotted out when I moved here 2 years ago and the initial "oh my crotch is not used to this any more" has subsided and White Tiger has started humming along quite nicely.

I started out with a 30-min bike session in April too. 30min of each sport to begin with. No pressure. EXCEPT OF COURSE THE PRESSURE OF SIGNING UP FOR AN IRONMAN ON 6 MONTHS OF ZERO TRIATHLON TRAINING.

The more I look back at this 2012 training log, the more hilarious it is. After zero swim/bike/run, I did 30mins of each sport and then basically straight into "OK, I think I can do an Ironman again. Let's sign up!" This is why those races all sell out so quickly, idiots like me who barely train and then think they can do an Ironman. ;) Except Louisville still has not sold out?! Don't people know there is KFC at the finish line?!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

stress is stress, fast slow swimmers, and less is more

So I've read a few tri-related links recently

Jesse Thomas' Rev3 Portland race report
Inside Tri's interview with the sub-9 AG guy who trains 12hrs/week
Liz Waterstraat's interview with Crowie

and noticed some common threads on balancing your training with the rest of your life. Namely, "stress is stress", whether it is training stress or family stress or work stress. Your body can't tell the difference, and thus it is definitely something to take into consideration. And recovery is very important.

From reading Chrissie's book and also advice from several good friends, I'm still learning to cut myself more slack and not be so hard on myself. A hard habit to break from being raised as a tiger child.

I got in another good 14.5-hour training week ending Sunday (no rest days) and was tired enough this morning (and behind enough on my patient notes) that instead of running, still got up early but went straight to tackling the paperwork side of work via the magical (yet heinous) Remote Desktop Connection. I said "I'll get my run in after work, gotta heat train anyway" whilst knowing I am usually drained enough mentally after work to call it a day on all fronts by 5:30pm. So no. No run. Not because I am weak sauce, but because I'm smart enough these days to better listen to my body. Since my last rest day, I trained 10 days in a row ending yesterday, so maybe it was just time for a rest day. Ok, cool. Recovery is important!

I was already cutting out most of my extra workouts that were kind of like "junk miles"--padding my training hours, for what, my ego?--and making sure that each session I did had a purpose. I don't need "active recovery" sessions any more, now that I realize that trying to make more time for more training was more stress than just skipping it and just chilling for real recovery.

I'm down to just 2 or 3 swims each week (more like 2 these days than 3) but I go really hard each time. Make it count. Then I don't dread swimming any more. (I really dreaded it when I "had to" swim 6-7x/week because I was a "bad" swimmer...and now I'm thinking all that extra swimming probably did more bad than good.) Besides, did you check out the top 3 pro women at Lake Placid? How awesomely hilarious is that for bad swimmers everywhere?? They went 1:09, 1:09, and 1:02. bwahahaha. IM Switzerland winner the previous weekend, my old friend and teammate Erika, swam a 1:02. And IM UK, the women's winner swam a 1:03.

Erika the shark. Congrats Coco!

So maybe all those swim courses were "long", (eh heh heh, that's what I always told myself after a bad swim), or maybe it's a sign that I'm not too slow of a swimmer to win an Ironman.

What, me, win an Ironman? Don't be silly, I'm retired. Of course I'm not entertaining THOSE sorts of thoughts again. (They also ran pretty fast marathons, 3:13 in Placid, 3:11 in Switzerland, and 3:18 in the UK. Which I haven't done yet--but if anything, I can much more easily/realistically take 10-20mins off my run than in my swim. And huzzah for them to prove that the race is NOT won in the swim. yeah!!!)

Anyway. Right. I don't need to swim any more than 3x/week, and 2 is fine, and that's cool.

Especially the article about the entrepreneur guy who trains 12hrs/week, got me thinking "how LITTLE can I train and still be decently good at Ironman?" And I remember after reading Macca's book how he says to build a "skeleton program" of the most minimal you can train, and build around it. So I made a nice list of my essential workouts that are the high priority ones I must get done each week.

There's the long flattish time trial on the bike, solo and 95% in the aerobars. 800's on the track and/or hill repeats (running). 100's with pull gear in the pool. I have always trained well against the clock, and this is what I've been doing.

Anyway, stress = bad. Recovery = good. Swimming lots does not = swimming faster. And rest days are nice.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

finding that sweet spot

Well, I had two blog drafts I typed up on my netbook (in between the Alaska and SF trips, like a quasi sister's marathon race report, and then something else) and like the latest title of this blog, "REAL LIFE" just got in the way. It's been so long since I used my netbook that I can't find the power cord (it's somewhere in the house...) so I might as well start a new one (I'm on a different laptop right now). I'll even throw some fun photos in for good measure!

Traveling took more out of me than anticipated. It was the ping-ponging myself across 3 or more time zones 6x in the span of a month (home to Vegas to home to Alaska to home to San Francisco to home, yes, home being Delaware now) and by the time I finished, my body was just confused and tired. I didn't feel like training much for the rest of that week (I came home 4th of July...on which day my brother proposed to his girlfriend, pictured below, far right. WELCOME TO THE FAMILY!!!).

And now I'm currently acting as head coach of Sandbagger Triathlete Enterprises. (That's a fancy way of saying I'm coaching myself now.) Really, I'm just trying to figure out how much time I can spend and am willing to spend on training. The confounding factors that determine this go beyond "how many hours per week, minus optimum sleep hours and work hours". I'm finding that work stress, life stress, and social commitments, along with current level of fitness, and how damn hot it is outside, all play a role in this. (It was much less "damn hot" when I was visiting San Francisco with all my girl cousins for the wedding...but damn, we look hot!)

I can't just train all day during a non-workday, like I used to. Because I'm not quite fit enough, the weather is ridiculously hot and humid (def not heat-acclimated like I used to be), and well, because I just don't want to. There are much more fun things to do than just train all day, and that is probably why I'm not a pro triathlete any more. Training all day isn't fun for me any more. Last week I got to see Magic Mike with the girls at work (following margaritas and shots of Patron), go to a BBQ in Philly, catch the COWBOY MONKEY RODEO (!!!), and had an obedience lesson with the Christmas puppy. Sorry, that's the cowboy monkey's dog, not our dog:

I missed 3hrs I had intended to train, but still logged in about 14.5, which is still my biggest week this year. But I'm not freaking out about it, because I'm trying to find a good balance. I'm trying to find that "sweet spot" on how much training I want to do/am able to do, and also that "sweet spot" of where I want to be fitness-wise. I can't shake the desire to want to be fast again, but I'm balancing that against how much work I'm willing (and able) to put into that, and how much I'm willing to sacrifice for that.

I want to get to the point where I'm happy with where I am, regarding fitness, speed, and not feeling like a fatty. I'm enjoying working, and I also have to balance not training so much that it compromises my performance at work. (If I'm too tired I have less tolerance for the "difficult patients.") And I also don't want to miss out on fun events with other people. My days of being a completely antisocial professional triathlete are gone. I had many years of saying "no, I can't go to (insert fun event), I have to train in the morning/afternoon/all day." This includes my earlier years as an age group triathlete in college!

That was a long ramble. I don't even know how many hours other age groupers with real jobs train each week. But that's the update for now. I can tell I'm getting fitter, although biking up hills is still hard (I can't tell if it's because my legs were tired from the hard run the day before, or if I'm just a fat ass) and biking down hills is still scary. For the most part I'm feeling pretty happy and healthy, if not slow.

Oh yeah. And I can't mention Magic Mike without a photo, can I? My favorite dance was the "It's Raining Men" one with trenchcoats and umbrellas. I had the giggles. Here ya go. You're welcome.