Monday, February 28, 2011

Hello March!

Since today is a rest day for me after the race, I can sum up my February numbers!  Short month, extra rest = not quite matching January but still some great work was done.

Swim: 22,200 yards (12.6 miles)

Bike: 203.4 miles

Run: 68.1 miles

Strength: 3.25 hrs

March is going to be an awesome month!!!!  I have a lot of big bike focus ahead and with any luck it will NOT rain every day like the last few weeks so I can do some of it outside.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stanford Treeathlon Race Report

We got word Saturday morning that this race would definitely be a duathlon. 30-something air temp and 48-50 degree water do not equal a safe combination for anyone to swim and then bike, so I understand the race directors’ decision. I was OK with it as maybe I was a little nervous about freezing myself!

I’m not sure how the turnout for age groupers fared relative to what it would have been with a swim, but the collegiate participation was HUGE. College kids from all over California in attendance and shivering in their little tri suits.


This was my first duathlon so I took into account everything Coach gave me for a plan and knew I’d be going for broke (and pain) for the duration!

Feeling goofy and excited during warmup


Jeff got a little blog recognition on the course today. He wasn’t sure how to handle that :-)


Let’s get this show started!



As per my instructions I eased into it and then went HARD. I passed a number of women who had taken off ahead of me but then slowed.

2k run, 6:45 pace.



Racing to my bike


T1: 56 seconds.

The bike course was 3 fairly flat loops around the port of Redwood City. It gave me plenty of opportunities to see my spectating peeps while trying to redline it for the duration.



20k bike, 18.4 mph pace.

I was pleased with managing a shoeless dismount since I had a long run through transition back to my setup.


T2: 43 seconds.

And then it was time to hurt some more! As I headed out of transition, my friend Meredith reminded me that running is my favorite part, which apparently cracked me up. Hey legs, pay attention, you’re supposed to like this!


The second run was hard. On the upside, I was passing a lot of people from previous waves and that kept me pushing myself. I kept my heart rate just *this* side of barfing my guts up. About 1/4 mile from the finish, I gasped my way past Jeff and Nigel and tried to find one more gear.


I found assistance in the form of the UC Davis tri team, who attempted to cheer one of their own to pass me before the finish.


Nuh-uh, I don’t think so.


5k run, 7:56 pace.


The end result: 4th place in a tough age group (1st and 2nd in my AG were 1st and 3rd women overall) and 11th woman overall.

Mary placed 1st in her AG for her very first duathlon! Super proud!!


I am so grateful to Nigel for coming out to cheer and volunteer with traffic direction, Jeff for taking photos and supporting me, Meredith for driving all the way out just to cheer and photograph, and Mary’s husband Gerard for also taking some great photos!

After proper post-race recovery fluids, my reward was a mimosa (or two) at lunch with the guys.


After the way last season ended at Austin, I’m thrilled to have kicked off this year going hard and fast successfully! I've never put as fast of a run pace down in a race as I did in the 1st run, and I think that's a new high on the bike for me in a race too! Rest day tomorrow and then it’s back to work!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hump Day Hit-or-Miss

It’s another one of those random bullet-point kind of days!

  • I’m back at training hard.  Three days in a row of double workouts.  It is good.
  • Thank goodness my hockey team went on an east coast road trip.  4:30pm games are easier to watch and still get to bed on time.
  • I had a run/bike/run workout today.  Oddly convenient since…
  • Due to extreme cold and rain rolling in to town starting tomorrow (like, it’s supposed to maybe snow in San Francisco), there is a strong chance that Sunday’s triathlon will become a duathlon. 
  • I wasn’t exactly looking forward to swimming in 50 degree water but I wanted to get my first tri of the year under my belt already.
  • So I might get to do my first duathlon instead, we’ll see.  I hear this is the best way to start a season.
  • It’s possible that my hair froze on the post-swim run yesterday.  And then today I did my workouts in a tank top and shorts.  OK it was still 40ish degrees out but you have to enjoy the sunny days when you can.  Especially if rain/snow is coming.
  • My new strength routine for this training block is awesome – all medicine ball work.  I’ve felt it in my abs for 2 days now.
  • I watched a Nature special on wolverines during my Monday bike workout.  I think the dogs would love to help raise a wolverine kit – they seem to have the same play style! 
  • I wanted to watch NatGeo’s Science of Dogs for today’s bike but Netflix was streaming slow.  I got last night’s Glee off Hulu instead – perfect!  Key-dollar sign-ha. *snort*

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Farewell to rest week

It’s an interesting conundrum…I am good at recovery – eat right after the workout, stretch, put my compression socks on, put my feet up, get adequate sleep – but I am not good at “rest week.”  What I mean is, I get bored and twitchy and look for other ways to fill my time since I am not training as much.  Sometimes I feel like my rest weeks end up busier than my normal weeks because I cram them with activities I never find the time for otherwise.

This week I

  • worked an awful lot.  I was even on work email at 7pm Friday night.  I may log in again today just to get some stuff taken care of before the Monday craziness begins.
  • ran the dogs multiple times in the pouring rain that never seemed to stop all week. 
  • except for Tuesday, when we had agility class to the tune of dry skies.
  • saw a double rainbow, while getting rained on, one of those days.


  • went to both Sharks home games. There goes the 8:45pm bedtime.
  • went to the local dog show both days this weekend.  Yesterday to run Stanley in Excellent A rally for the first time (poor Stanley was under the mistaken impression that this was more of a party than an obedience trial) and today to get his OFA thyroid test and cheer for a friend who was showing.  The good news is the fairgrounds are only ~2.5 miles from my house, the bad news is I still had to pay $8 for parking!
  • bought a comfy armchair for my bedroom, which will be my new reading chair for curling up with my Kindle and relaxing.  After I assemble it.
  • swam a lot of drills and did some very easy runs.
  • took a bike test.  Depending on how you look at it, either I gained a few watts over my last test, or I blew myself out too early in the test and will have to take another one in a few weeks.  Or both.
  • wore my new Valentines compression tights (the Zoot CompressRx ones from one of my previous posts) for the first time, in an attempt to remedy the stumps-for-legs condition I was put in by the aforementioned bike test.  While wearing them for the rest of the day did in fact work, it is worth mentioning that it’s a whole workout in itself to put them on!
  • had my first Lemon Drop.  Not bad, not bad at all.
  • saw a movie – I Am Number Four.  While I really liked the book, the film was a disappointment.  The scenes from Lorien and a lot of the lore around the Legacies was not carried over into the movie.

This week we start a new training block – yay for a return to normalcy, early bedtimes, proper eating, and some use for all this nervous energy of mine!  And, while it looks like it will be about 45 degrees and raining, and the open water swim bound to be chilly, I am still excited that I get to race my first triathlon of the year this week!!!! 

9 months exactly till IM AZ too, wow, that time is going to fly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You Wont Like Me When I’m Angry

I started off this morning (or perhaps finished yesterday) on an oh-so-chipper note (not).

The Valentine’s aspect of my day was perfectly lovely and holds no blame for this mood.

Take a day without a workout (some people need their caffeine, I need my endorphins – WHERE ARE MY GODDAMN ENDORPHINS?), add a huge roadblock at work to a project I’ve invested a year in (like someone saying we don’t need to do this project), and then add some dog-world drama, and I went to bed in a *great* (sarcasm) mood that carried over nicely to morning.

Thankfully I had a crackass-of-dawn workout to do and was able to swim away most of my mad while simultaneously composing the perfect email response to my roadblock. Getting to hang with my brother didn’t hurt either.


The rest week blues are real, people. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What’s Working

I wanted to use my most recent training block to set some very good habits for the year, to experiment with what my body needs to be successful, and to take all those tidbits of advice that we hear as athletes and put them all into practice at once and see if it makes a difference.  None of this is new information by any means but as an amateur athlete it was a good test of how being on my best behavior impacts my training. 

As a caveat, I will state up front – I’m in a very fortunate position with respect to my ability to enact these changes.  I don’t have the responsibility of children, I have some control over my work schedule, and I can afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables often. 

Consistency and Trust

I do the workouts on the schedule.  I don’t second-guess if my body can handle them or if they’re really important, I trust my coach to make that decision.  I don’t try to push a little harder than instructed because I want to get my averages or miles up – if it says easy, I go easy.  I trust that if I work hard enough I can meet the assigned targets for each one.


I’ve always been fairly good about getting a good amount of sleep but I remember those freakish nights in Ironman training where I passed out exhausted and then woke up sweating and shivering all night, or unable to fall back asleep, or starving, or peeing 5x a night.  Some of that will be unavoidable, but going into this year I wanted to work on my sleep habits and get a better understanding of how my body operates at rest and what it needs.

So, I took a leap of faith and invested in a Zeo Personal Sleep Coach.  For a very detailed review of this device and the plethora of features and functions it offers, please see DC Rainmaker’s review.  Suffice it to say there are a lot of cool features, like the Smartwake option where it wakes you at the best moment in your sleep cycle within your defined time window.

One of the first things I saw from tracking my sleep data was that the vast majority of my deep sleep (the kind where physical restoration occurs) comes early in the night and I miss out on a lot of it if I go to bed too late.  By the same token, my REM sleep (the mental restoration part) all comes in the wee hours of the morning.

The most interesting feature of the Zeo that you don’t get from a standard alarm clock is the sleep coaching.  There are multiple steps that focus on different areas (learning ways to relax yourself into sleep faster, improving your bedroom environment, synching with housemates, etc) and each can take one to several weeks to complete.  Among the changes I have made, I’ve stopped watching TV or surfing the internet during my last hour before bed, I’ve turned the heat down at night so I don’t repeatedly wake up sweating and then shivering, and I’ve stopped waiting for Jeff to be ready before going to sleep or heading to bed to start powering down.

During this training block, I completed the step on optimizing my sleep schedule.  Based on my feedback about what time I needed to get up most mornings and the data about what I needed for sleep, the Zeo assigned me a bedtime of 8:45pm and a rise time of 5:00am.  The only night that I found difficult to meet the bedtime goal was on Tuesdays, where I have agility class with the dogs until 8:15 and only barely get home by 8:45.  Otherwise I stuck to my schedule fairly well and found that I was falling asleep faster, getting more overall sleep, more deep sleep, more REM sleep and feeling better and more eager to work out in the mornings.

So, hey, that’s progress!  I am looking forward to seeing what the Zeo has to say about dealing with noisy housemates when I reach that step. :-)


It’s no secret I’m working to clean up my diet even more this year.  I shared my green smoothie recipe last month.  I’ve continued to refine my eating habits over the last few weeks.  I refreshed my memory with a visit back to my favorite sports nutrition book to ensure I was fueling at the right times for my training.

One of the things I shoot for with respect to my daily input is a lot of fiber.  Possibly really high for some people.  I try to take in at least 35g of fiber on an average day, some days I end up in the 40s.  The result for me is that I’m likely to fill up on a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, leaving less space available for eating junk.   A typical morning or afternoon snack might be a big bowl of fresh berries, satisfying my sweet tooth and some of my fiber needs all at once. 

I got a subscription to Cooking Light recently and have been experimenting with more of their recipes and cooking at home a LOT more often than past years.  I live at Whole Foods (OK not quite but I’m there 2-3x a week since I like FRESH ingredients and only shop for a few days at a time).  I am eating less meat than ever – it does NOT need to be the centerpiece of a meal to be well balanced.

And the funny part of all of this is, I feel like I’m eating more volume-wise than ever!  But by timing the meals with my workouts and eating meals and snacks with some balance, I’m possibly beginning to master this whole nutrition thing.  I consider this a HUGE gain because I remember the all-day-long chowfest that was Ironman training and I want to have a better handle on it this time. 

The even nicer upside of good nutrition during the past few weeks is a noticable change in body composition.  Clothes are fitting differently (looser in the waist, for example) and I’ve visibly gained muscle mass in other areas: classic moment, coming out of the shower and drying off I glance in the mirror - “what are those lumps under my armpits?” – hello, dummy, those would be LATS.


Compression tights (well, sadly cheap compression capris but they were almost like tights on me) went right on after long rides.  Compression socks after most other hard workouts.  I think this went a long way to helping my muscles rebound faster from the abuse I put them through.  Based on what I felt from using the “tights” I really want to try these at some point.

By the same token, I’ve worn the calf sleeves less since I got my bike fit.  There’s been less need now that my pedaling position has improved so I’m not pedaling toes-down so much over-working my calves.


I’ve been following the same routine every morning: 1 multivitamin, 2 Recovery e21 electrolyte capsules, and 2 Joint Health capsules.  I take additional electrolyte capsules after long or threshold workouts and will be taking them during long workouts over 2 hours.

The multivitamin just seems like a basic good idea in the event that I’m missing some key nutrient in my diet.  The electrolyte capsules are contributing to faster recovery from workouts and – yes, bonus! – decreased soreness.  They are also going to be great for electrolyte replacement during workouts and races in the heat this year!  Since I began taking the joint health capsules, I’ve lost all those twinges in my shoulders after weight lifting and knees after running, so they must be doing something good for my joints!

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Or rather a decreased amount of alcohol.  Rather than a drink or two, several nights a week, I’ve basically dropped off to once per week.  I know this is a hard one for some, but it’s felt right for me as more often than not, there’s really no reason to have that drink. 

I’m sure I will have lapses during the year or events worth celebrating a bit more enthusiastically.  When I DO indulge, thankfully, I’ve learned a couple Recovery e21 capsules before bed restores electrolyte levels and I’ve been able to train the following morning feeling 100%!


So in summary, none of this is ground-breaking or new.  I’ve done bits and pieces of it in the past when training.  But I’m still learning a lot about putting it all together and will continue to now that I’ve seen how well it works for me! 

I apologize that this post turned out so long!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

And now, I rest

23 straight days of training since my last rest day.

38 workouts.

27,500 yards of swimming.

195.3 miles of biking.

61.1 miles of running.

4 hours of strength training.

And I feel…STRONG.  Excited.  I want MORE. 

I am so proud of this training block and how well I’ve managed my body’s recovery needs.  I’ll post about this in detail tomorrow (because what else do you do with a rest day besides whine that you need something to do), but I have to give a huge shout-out to Recovery e21.  2 capsules every morning and 2 more after big tough workouts equaled sustainable endurance in the face of a challenging training block and a significant reduction in muscle soreness.  Or, as my husband said, “I know you haven’t been sore because you haven’t been complaining about it all the time like you normally would.”

*What are you waiting for? Order now and use the code “mollymc” for 20% off.*


I finished off the week with a long run with my little brother, who is training for the full Iron distance at Vineman this July.  (Check out his blog and give him some support!)

Come out, sun, we need to warm up!


Not sure why we look so happy about this!  Maybe Robert was happy he was totally kicking my ass with the pace, and I was happy I didn’t take another picture of my foot.


Thank goodness the fog burned off


Water views make every ride/run better, right?


Yes, the weirdness DOES run in the family.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

If it’s freezing where you live, please avert your eyes

because today was a GLORIOUS day for cycling!


We started out at the same location as Melissa’s birthday ride, so that I could give her my best wishes before she and her crew hit the road.  Last year I paced Melissa to a 10K PR for her birthday celebration in San Diego, this year she is celebrating kicking cancer to the curb!


Today was another first for me – I wore bib shorts for the first time.  Wow, they are really comfortable, I am in love!


As I mentioned it was another shitty day of riding in Northern Cal.


Way up ahead is George, the father of one of my junior high classmates, who kicks my ass on every uphill.


Aaaaahhh, enjoying an easy spin in between tougher intervals.




Nigel working off a few beers, or is it earning new ones?


Did I mention it was almost 70 degrees out?


Best I could get of Jeff as we approached the top of a long climb


And then he passed me.  Not gonna feel bad about that, I was on my cooldown by then.


Proof of spring: the cherry trees are blooming


Some enjoy a post-ride beer, some of us just get water!


One more day to go until rest week and I’m excited, for tomorrow I get to do a long run with my brother!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Working For the Weekend

Thank goodness it’s finally here!

I don’t talk about work much but I had an interesting work week.  I had a kickoff meeting Wednesday for a project that got dumped on me when we set our goals for the year.  I’ll admit it was not something I was particularly excited about…until this meeting.  My collaborators were so eager and enthusiastic about the project that it was contagious!  Ah, what a pleasant change to hold a meeting where people actually wanted to do some work and contribute instead of bitch about being stuck being involved.  This will probably end up being one of my more fun projects this year just because I get to interact with such a nice team.  It’s a good reminder of what a difference the people make in any venture! 

I’ve got a long ride and long run on the schedule to wrap up this training block and I can’t wait to get on them!  Due to work meetings, I was only able to fit in one workout this morning (masters swim) so I ran at lunch today on everyone’s favorite local multiuse trail.  I would have brought my camera to photograph how AMAZING it was out, but I feared my frozen Midwestern friends would send a hit man in retaliation.  Let’s just say I had to apply sunblock and I was borderline overheated in my short-sleeved technical top and shorts.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scenes From Above

While landing in San Jose on Sunday (for the gazillionth time in my life), I remembered I had a camera!  The flight path for SJC goes right over the area we predominantly cycle in so I captured a few shots from above.

Uvas Reservoir.  One of our local triathlons starts here with a swim around that island-like peninsula on the left side.  Pacific Ocean in the background.


Chesbro Reservoir just up the road from Uvas.  IMG_0620

And Calero Reservoir up the road from that.  I pass this one on more than half of my rides.


Coming in to the more urban south end of Silicon Valley


I can see my house from here.  Really.


Go Sharks!


Now…does anyone have any questions about why I don’t have a lot of options for flat outdoor cycling routes? :-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Party Like a Rockstar

I woke up feeling fresh as could be Saturday morning, after my night of sushi and blushing geishas.  I had a wonderful long run on the Scottsdale greenbelt.  I figured it was safer and less likely to incur the wrath of midwesterners if I didn’t run with my camera to show the beauty of the desert at sunrise. 

Then I spent the day at my first ever golf tournament.  Um, there’s nowhere to sit down (unless you want to spend $500).  Walk, watch, walk, watch, walk some more.  I did eat the best steak burrito I’ve ever had, but by the end my feet hurt!  Popped home for an afternoon nap and then back to the golf course Saturday night for the concert at the Bird’s Nest, where I danced my ass off for several hours (all while sipping a bottle of water because (a) it’s the desert and (b) I was thinking ahead to my Sunday workout).

The Bird’s Nest scene is an over-21 combination of good music and mostly-intoxicated people who’ve been out in the sun half the day.  Fun times, if you can avoid the worst of the drunks.  Sometimes frustrating if you are 5’ tall and getting knocked around by every person walking by. 

The VIP area included all-you-can-eat food catered by a local sushi place and all-you-can-drink beverages (Jeff put this feature to good use).


Rather than stay in the small VIP stage area, we waded in with the masses to get closer.

First thing I saw was the police swarm and arrest someone who’d started a fight.  Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.


I wish I’d gotten a photo of this couple from the front.  Think Brett-Michaels-wannabe (complete with sunglasses on, in a tent, at night) and his ho.



Finally the headliner for the evening, Metalhead, came on.  Metalhead is a local Scottsdale band who cover 80s hair band songs.  If you grew up in the 80s, you’d love their show.


Sunday we were up in the dark to pack up and fly home, where I had a big brick workout waiting for me.  I managed to find a reasonable pre-workout meal at the airport, going with a banana and 1/2 a blueberry muffin from Starbucks.  My T1 time (from airplane arrival to bicycle) was about an hour and then I had ~2.5 hours of good work to do.  And I NAILED IT! Coach even said she’d have to mail me more nails.  Now *that* is a good feeling.

FYI: Dorian Gray is NOT a movie you want to watch on the trainer.  Or possibly watch ever.  I fast-forwarded through the last 1/2 hour just to end the suffering.  I want my eyeballs cleansed and my innocence back. *shudder*