Sunday, February 26, 2012


All sports seem to involve some amount of pain.  Even the most biologically gifted athlete needs to break out of their comfort zone to have success.  And how much you are willing to push yourself to uncomfortable places has a strong bearing on how much you can make the most of what you were given.


I don't really like to hurt.

I know, after 2 Ironmans my pain tolerance is all relative.  But there's a reason I like the nice steady distance stuff over the redlined sprint stuff.  Still, I've garnered some quality experiences in suffering since I entered the world of triathlon (some when I was a runner too but less so...).  If I'm going to be critical of myself, one thing I would pick on is my willingness to suffer when it's all on the line.  Sure, I'll put in some strong effort in my workouts but ask me to really really push through pain and suffer and...I don't like it so much.  There's a reason I fear tests on my training schedule!

That stops now.  One of my biggest goals for 2012 is to learn to suffer.  To keep the pressure up despite strong opposition from my body.  So that when the closing minutes of a race come around, I maintain the pressure all the way to the finish.

I got an excellent start at learning to hurt this weekend.  There on my schedule - oh lucky me - a swim test AND a bike test.  (Inner monologue: what did I do to deserve this?  My coach doesn't even live close enough for me to have shit on her front lawn!)

Saturday morning: swim test.  The standard old 10 x 100 all out on 10 seconds rest.  I did one of these on December 30th but I've been working with Tim weekly over those 2 months.  Time to see the payoff of all this technique work.

Our weather turned for the worse on Friday night and it was cold and windy when I got in the pool Saturday morning.  I shivered my way through the warmup, especially any time I had a body part above the surface of the water.  And was time to go hard.  Note: swimming all out hurts.  Doing it over and over with minimal rest just feels brutal.  10 repeats of 100 yards all out.  #1 felt strong and good and surprised me with the speed.  By #3 I was feeling a little short on oxygen.  By #5 I was ready to barf.  By #7 I wanted to cry.  #10 was just a slow slog with what remained of my arms and core.  And then it was done and I sent my total time off to Coach (in the meantime she was off swimming 100 x 100, so what am I bitching about?) and moved on.

The end result?

Best swim test ever.  10 seconds off my 100 free time in the past 2 months.  And the sad (scary?) realization that I need to be working this hard in the pool all the time, not just on swim test days.

Sunday morning: bike test.  My upper body was still a wreck and my legs weren't exactly feeling fresh. But I needed to just get it done, so after walking the dogs and grabbing all of my get-on-the-trainer paraphernalia (heart rate monitor, Powertab computer, Garmin, headphones, iPhone, Cliff shot blocks, bottle of water/Zym), I turned the fan on high, aimed it at the bike and started my warmup.

I pedaled along, watching the 4th episode of The Walking Dead (yes, I'm still a season behind reality but this is a great show for trainer entertainment), and felt pretty good once my legs warmed up a little.  I finished my last last build segment, enjoyed the last rest interval and beep-beep-beep-beep...time for the show.  20 minutes of pedaling as hard as I can.  This is NOT my idea of fun.  Somewhere around 4 minutes in, you realize just how painful this is going to be.  Minutes 7 to 10 were...highly unpleasant.  With 9 minutes to go it dawned on me that I might actually make it.  5 minutes to go and my heart rate was maxed out, face red, feeling pretty nauseous.  No more watching TV shows, I've switched to upbeat music trying to keep my legs moving anywhere near the cadence of the songs. A handful of minutes left and I just focused on 30 seconds at a time, digging deep to hold the watts, moving my feet around in circles with the stumps I had left for legs.  Beep-beep-beep-beep...*slump*...done.  A minute to gasp for air and watch my heart rate drop, then an easy spin to finish up.

I threw the data onto TrainingPeaks and headed off to my grandmother's 80th birthday party.  Every so often I checked my email, wondering what Coach would say (of course, AGAIN, she had to one-up me and go do some big indoor time trial today), but I knew I'd gained some watts so I didn't think about it too much.

Oh yeah!

So, there you have it - one weekend, two sufferfests, two wins.  I suppose that means I'm left with no excuse not to put it all out there when required.  It won't come easy but the best things rarely do!  In the meantime I guess I'll go make friends with my foam roller because...OW.  My everything hurts.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


My private swim lessons are going...well, swimmingly!  I end every Wednesday night session feeling a little more confident about the improvement that will come in my swim this year.

Tim has all sorts of fun swim toys that I use to work on things.
 We're working all the strokes too

 Thanks to my mom for surprising me last week and stopping by our lesson to take photos!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


It takes a lot to reduce me to this.

But it was worth it, because I finished this 3-week training block with all workouts successfully completed.  Despite 3 weeks of crazy at work and a whole bunch of dog classes, I fit in the workouts, the recovery, adequate sleep and fairly good nutrition.  Win!

Triathletes are constantly looking for that next big way to get faster - and any glance at a tri magazine or message board proves it.  Do more volume, do less volume, do something special for recovery, get this coach, get that coach...people will do it all!  As best I can tell, the boring and simple answer may be the best one - consistency.  Just getting the work done, day in and day out.  You can only get by so long and so well with skipping workouts, moving workouts around, eating like shit, not fueling well, and not resting enough.  I think the science of how much you push your body and how performance gains are made in your recovery from that are fairly well documented - so it's hard to expect big gains if key workouts aren't done and recovery isn't taken seriously, right?  Again, NOT rocket science.  I've always been reasonably consistent (my husband would tell you I've only missed about 3 workouts since I started working with my coach 3+ years ago - that's not *quite* accurate) but one of my goals for this year is to put in the extra effort needed to be even better.  Nailing this training block was just step one!

Now I get to take rest week just as seriously and let my body soak in all that hard work.  The first race of the year is just a few weeks away!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fun on 2 Wheels

Today I rode outside for only the 2nd time this year and the 1st time in over a month.  It was a little bit cold to start but if there's one thing I've learned about enthusiasm for workouts, it's this - fake it till you make it!
 One thing I DO love about long rides is the chance to see farm animals.  The baby cow was not as excited to see me as I was to see it.
 When all was said and done it was a great long ride day and one of my strongest rides in terms of keeping up with the guys that I've ever had (or in today's case, beating them up the climbs).  I'm pretty sure my brand new Betty Designs bike kit made me faster.
 Freshest recovery drink around!  Fresh coconut!
Jeff gave me a helmet cam for Christmas and I finally got to try it today.  There were some issues with mounting it on my helmet so I just pulled it out a couple times during the ride.  Video speed is accelerated so as not to bore my viewers but we were going about 9mph up the big climb and 25-30mph on the descent.

One more day - and 3 workouts - till rest week!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love is in the air

My sweet Valentines kept me company today and made me feel very loved

My other Valentine is traveling for work but I found this waiting for me this morning :-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Data Nerds Unite

If you remember the cool TrainingPeaks features I blogged about a few weeks ago, and you were jealous,  fear not - you get these features in just 2 more days!  And more cool stuff too!  Check out this blog post from over at TrainingPeaks to see for yourself!

I'm really looking forward to the Segment Editing so I can name all my local climbs and track my times on them.  And adding sugar to the nutrition tracking - well, obviously that's one I'd like to keep an eye on based on my last post, right?*

*Yes, I'm eating sugar again, I just needed a few days off.  I feel much better for not having had 3 desserts a day for 4-5 days.  I am still concerned about all the sugar snuck into our food, hence the best attempts I can to avoid processed foods/junk.  If I'm gonna have sugar/dessert/candy I want it to be the GOOD stuff!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sweet Thing

I might have a slight problem with sugar.  In 2011 I cut recreational sugar for the month of May, and it was a great way to "reset" myself a bit.  I was able to enjoy it after that without riding the endless roller coaster of sugar highs and lows all day and craving it constantly.  Last week I found myself experiencing the signs of rampant sugar addiction again - thinking about it constantly, eating several desserts a day, polishing off several boxes of cookies in a week, waking up and thinking I'd rather skip my workout and just jump straight to that chocolate chip coconut cookie in the cabinet...time to SNAP OUT OF IT!

So I cut out the sugar again.  I may go for the rest of the month, I may reintroduce it again sooner but I need to regain a little bit of control first.  Day 1 was hard - after 24 hours without sugar, I was sleepy at 6pm and ready for bed, thinking that life without sugar was not worth living (I can't make this shit up).  Day 2 was better, and by day 3 I felt fabulous!  I had one small package of raw cacao treats while I was down in Arizona yesterday but I think just staying away from processed sugary treats is helping me a lot.

In other news, training is going well.  I closed out another strong week of building volume/intensity and have one more big week to go before rest week!  I've been doing a lot of TRX for my strength work lately...I love the TRX! Nothing has taken me further with my core strength because it requires engagement of multiple muscle groups for every move.  I told Coach this week that it never gets easier, I just manage to do the moves for longer!

I also started using my swim snorkel finally this past week.  My old masters coach (from ~2009) pulled the snorkels out once and we tried them and I promptly inhaled water up my nose every time I put my face in the water and so I threw it back on deck.   And never touched it again.  But now it's 2012 and Coach says they are good swim toys to use and my swim guru - who is helping me change my whole stroke - wants me to use them, and so I've bought one.  The first time I tried it, I once again inhaled a large amount of chlorinated water and threw it on deck.  The next time, I spent the evening before visualizing a smooth calm inhale/exhale that did not involve my nose and the next morning I was able to do 50-75 yard blocks with the snorkel on!  I'm excited to incorporate snorkel sets into my swimming now!

On my way back from Arizona yesterday, the security line at Sky Harbor was really long for the D gates (where my flight was) so I went over to the A line (the gates all connect in Terminal 4).  The Homeland Security guy checking my ID said "You know you're in the A line and this is a boarding pass for a D gate, right?"  I told him yes but I know they all connect (the terminal is a big square).  His response? "I don't think you want to do that, it's like a mile walk."  First of way it was a mile.  Secondly...there are moving sidewalks the whole way!  *shakes head*

I'm going to go have some Greek yogurt as my "dessert" (oh gee, how exciting) and go to bed by 9pm now, as the 4:45am alarm for masters comes awfully early.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Random Thoughts From Training

We've got a rain storm coming in tonight and I. Can't. Wait.  I've been sniffling my way through a bout of allergies ever since we got home last week...pretty sure that's cause it rained while we were gone and now everything is blooming and thinks it's spring already!  I need a little bit of rain to tamp down all those allergens for a few days.

I was s-l-o-w and dragging in the pool at 5:30 this morning.  A little sniffling isn't a big deal on the bike and run but it does complicate breathing when swimming! I swam hard for as long as I could and when I felt my form truly slipping, I put the paddles and buoy on.  Don't judge, Coach says they are good for me.  After I got back from the office this afternoon, I put in my time on the TRX for a strength workout.  My core strength has come so so SO far in the past few years, and most of those gains have come in the 2 years I've had the TRX here.  I haven't tried anything that challenges my core as much.

I'm still tickled pink about putting in a solid week of work last week.  Not that I've been slacking but I trained on my own for December and took my recovery from IM AZ seriously, and then January was just easing back into regimented training.  February is clearly where we start gearing up a bit!

Last week was just the beginning of picking up the weekly volume!

I've been chuckling because my bike volume will likely look deceptively low this year.  I'm using a different trainer than I did in past years...Coach suggested I use Jeff's trainer instead of mine, as it's a bit tougher on me.  I still put out my intended watts for each workout but I just seem to have to work a little harder at it.  The interesting thing is that for whatever reason my speed/mph is way way lower on this trainer for the same power output as the other one.  So a workout that would have averaged something like 16mph on the old trainer is a nice speedy...12mph on this one :-)  Hence, I'm not going to worry about trainer mileage because I know I'm putting out quality watts for the workout!

One of my favorite geeky things to do in my TrainingPeaks account is look at the Performance Management Chart.  The short version of how the chart works, from the TP site, is "just remember the blue line represents your fitness, the pink line shows your fatigue, and the yellow line shows how fresh you are."  I like to look back all the way to when I started with Coach in fall 2008 and see how far my fitness has come.  You can see the blue line build to IM AZ 2009, then drop as I recovered, build to Austin 70.3 (my A race for 2010), then drop as I recovered (but not as much as the year before), build to IM AZ 2011 (new peak fitness!), then drop as I recovered (again not as much as the previous year), and now it's juuuuuust starting to build again.  I love seeing a quantitative measure of increased fitness from season to season!

I'm playing around with nutrition again for this season, using some things from last year and trying new things.  It's what makes this time of year so much fun!

Happy training!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Home, Home on the Range...

We got home very late last Sunday night and were immediately thrown back into the fire - it's been one CRAZY week.  Work was just insane, we were both commuting back and forth to the office a lot, all 3 dogs had classes to attend in the evenings, and sleep went right out the window.  Somehow, I managed to get all my workouts completed and handle way too many hours of meetings at work, on less than optimal hours of sleep per night.

It all came to a head Saturday morning though, when after 8 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling like crap.  I walked and fed the dogs and then went back to bed.  I woke up again around 11:30am, ate a bit more and suddenly felt fantastic!  I'm so glad I listened to my body and took the time to rest up some more.  I nailed my workouts for the day after that!  With the completion of my long run today, I've put a solid week of training in the books - really the first big week of 2012 - and gained a little more confidence about how much I can juggle when life is truly nuts.

A few photo/video highlights...

Max and Puck doing their last run of the night at their first nose work class - success!

Some Stanley agility photos from his trial in January.  My baby dog has turned into quite the momma's boy all of a sudden.  It's awfully sweet.

Beach trip this morning!  I can't believe it's February...
 Beach dogs are happy dogs
 Max says you should never turn your back on the sea
 Puck chases a seagull
 Boy was he surprised when the wave hit him...

 He was even more surprised when he jumped off a rock and landed in a deep pool of water - first time swimming!
 WTF was that??!!

3 dog baths and a long run later, I'm all worn out and ready to watch football.  Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cruise to Run - Days 5 and 6

Friday was our last island stop of the trip, on Barbados.  I could see the race start/finish beach as we pulled into harbor.  We were bussed from the terminal over to Brandon's Beach for the 5k run and open water swim.  It was a hot and windy day, so I wasn't expecting any sort of PR, but I had a run test to get done so I knew I'd be going hard.

You can see the little orange buoys at the beach

 Many of the local runners and track teams came out to do the race as well
 And we're off!
 "This hurts."

 Matchy-matchy with Gayle post-race
 No PR but 2nd in AG calls for a recovery beer!
 By the time awards were announced, I was on to the victory beer - W30-34 podium posing with Sarah
 Once all that was done it was time to swim!  I'm so glad I was able to swim in open water nearly every day last week.  Here's a view back towards the beach from the 1st buoy
 I don't know *why* everyone made fun of my swim cap... LOL
 Saturday was a day at sea as we cruised back to San Juan before we all headed home.  We hid out and avoided the crowds plastered to every chair on deck of the ship and ended the day with one last dinner with Alex and Susan.

 Sunday we disembarked and headed home.  There were some eventful airline bobbles along the way but it couldn't diminish the glow of such an awesome trip!  I can't recommend Cruise to Run enough for anyone who is looking for a warm sunny fun vacation with some active people.  

Tomorrow, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Cruise to Run - Day 4

Thursday was one of the most wonderful days on the cruise.  We again skipped the group run and went on an all day excursion exploring the natural beauty of the island of Dominica.  This little volcanic island has some serious vertical scenery and amazing features.
 We snorkeled on the Champagne Reef (so named because it sits on the edge of some volcanic activity and the water bubbles from underneath you), visited the Emerald Pool, lunched at a beautiful research center in the mountains, and then visited Titou Gorge and Trafalgar Falls before returning to the ship.

 Those are several old cannons underneath Jeff!

 As our guide explained it, this is Dominica's erection tree.  With a ratio of 7 women to every man on the island, the men need to keep up their, ahem, energy, and so they boil the bark of this tree as a natural form of Viagra.

I'm pretty sure we were in bed by 8pm that night.  It was a long day!!!