Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ironman Training: Week 13.5: INJURY SCARE

Lest you all think Ironman training is all sunshine and rainbows, here's what happened this week:

Yup, I just shared a video of me snotting and bawling for all the world to see.


Last week I made the mental decision to step up my cycling game.  I solicited some biking friends that I don't normally ride with and made appointments to ride with them two days this week, with the express intention of pushing me out of my comfort zone on the bike.  Error #1:  planning hard riding immediately after a race.

Rewind further.

The race.  I had plans to compete in the Ironman 70.3 relay as the swimmer.  My friend Annemarie was supposed to bike, and Alex was the runner.  Right after I made the plans to bike with my fast friends on 8/12 and 8/14, I found out I would have to sub for Annemarie and bike the 56 miles at Steelhead in addition to swimming on 8/9.  No big deal, I had 50 miles biking on the schedule for the weekend anyway, so I figured I'd just do it as a training ride and kill two birds with one stone.


Turns out I'm a competitive bitch...who knew?? (; ....  and an "easy training ride" did NOT happen at Steelhead.

Here's what did happen at Steelhead:

Swim:  I was nervous about the swim, what with the crowds and the waves and the wetsuit and all.  Turns out the waves didn't exist that day so that was easy.  As for the people....once again I learned that I'm a competitive bitch.  I didn't panic at all, which was good.  However I wasn't the most courteous person in the world.  There was nowhere to go....people on all four sides of me.  So I decided to just swim.  I basically pretended there was nobody around and just swam right over/onto people.  It worked.  Except for right as I got out of the mix and had some space about halfway through the 1.2 mile swim, I started getting into the back of the previous swimmers' wave and the stragglers from waves before that.  So there was basically no time where it was just free unobstructed swimming.  I did swim head first into one of the buoys at one point.  That was funny.  All in all the swim was very easy and uneventful.  Time: 40:40 or 1:56/100yds.  I'm happy with that.  It was a comfortable pace, definitely didn't gas me at all.  Huge improvement over where I was last year or the year before. 

Bike: My normal bike speed for long rides is 15-16mph in training.  On shorter rides I'm not even very good at pushing the pace.  (Hence the decision to start riding with faster people and trying to up my game).  So I was expecting this race to be around 16-17mph.  I ended up averaging 18.7 mph for the 56 mile ride, and that was with some hills.  (Not a flat course like my Ironman will be).  I definitely pushed WAAAY harder than planned.  Definitely did some hard cranking on the pedals.  Part of it was an accident.  I was just trying to follow triathlon rules, so every time I found myself accidentally in the 12 meter draft zone I would gun it to pass them.  Which was a lot.  And passing has to be done quickly, so you end up cranking out super high watts at those times.  I quickly let go of any plans for an easy training ride and decided to just go with it.  Especially since I knew I wouldn't have to run a half marathon at the end.... no reason to save my legs.  

***EXCEPT.  I'm training for an Ironman.  And that was supposed to be a recovery week.  That's one really big reason to save your legs.  The training doesn't stop after a non-goal race.  No taper, no recovery.  ****   <---  Hindsight is 20/20!  

After I got off the bike and handed off to Alex I went for a 15 minute "transition run", which is my normal training after a long ride.  I took it at an easy pace and felt like I was going REALLY slowly, but ended up averaging about 8:45/mile.  Nice.  I do feel like I could've laid down a respectable half marathon at that point if I had been doing the individual race and not the relay. Probably 2:05 or faster.  Likely right around 2:00.  (It seems like just yesterday when I couldn't break a 2:00 half by itself to save my life!!)  

So anyway, I had a blast at this event, and was super pumped and feeling really confident about my Ironman.  This was Sunday August 9th.  Monday I took a rest day (every Monday is a rest day on my training plan).  Tuesday I did a 2500m swim and 6.5 mile easy run, relatively uneventful, no major pain or problems.  Wednesday.  Wednesday I effed up.  Wednesday 8/12 I met a guy to ride, and we headed out on the start of the route with some pretty intense climbing, then the rest of the way I pushed pretty hard.  I felt obligated to, since my whole reason for requesting to ride with him was to push myself on the bike and ride a faster pace!  About halfway through the ride I noticed a new pain in my left achilles, so I started altering my pedal stroke a bit to try to minimize it.  Didn't think too much of it.  I had pain similar to that in my right leg when I first started biking more a few months ago. 

Thursday 8/13 I did another 2500m swim and a 6 mile interval run, and I definitely noticed my achilles when I was running.  I took the run on the easy (my "fast" intervals were only like 7:45 pace) and it wasn't awful, just a little sore and tight.  I warned my Friday ride buddies that I was DEFINITELY taking it easy the next day and riding a gentle pace. 

Friday 8/14.  OUCH.  I woke up and was like WTF.  I couldn't walk normally around the house.  I for some stupid reason thought it would loosen up a bit and loaded up my bike to meet the guys to ride at 7:30.  Hopped on the bike and headed out on those same hills as Wednesday, took them as easy as I could, and was in excruciating pain.  I aborted, said farewell and turned around about 3 minutes into the ride.  Ice.  Aleve.  More ouch. 

I went to work and was limping.  I freaked out.  See original video above.  Decided to take the weekend off biking and running.  Very very very worried that it was something more serious that would require more time off than that.  Not a good day.  Lots of alternating ice and heat and aleve when I got home.  Severe pain with certain movements.  

Saturday 8/15.  It's a miracle.  It feels SO MUCH BETTER.  I can walk around my house barefoot normally.  It feels so much better that I was tempted to go out and run after all.  But I'm not going to.  I only have like 6 weeks left until my race.  If I don't let it heal and end up making it worse I won't have time to recover and get back on the horse.  A few days now is definitely the smarter move. So today instead of swimming 3,000m and running 14 miles, I'm just swimming the 3K.  Tomorrow instead of biking 70 miles I'll swim another 3K.  I *might* try to run a short distance, like 6 miles or so.  I'm definitely not doing any cycling until Wednesday, which will be a full week off cycling.  And when I do, I'm going to be extra careful and cautious about not cranking too hard and being on the lookout for pain.  I also adjusted my seat forward and down a little bit, which should hopefully help by not making me reach so far at the bottom of my pedal stroke and overuse my calves and achilles.  

I'm optimistic now.  I think I nipped it in the bud.  Hopefully.  Please please please, be over.  

Side note:  I am a triathlete.  I'm not a runner anymore.  I am starting to like swimming and biking as much as running.  And I love that there are very few, if any, injuries that have the ability to sideline me from all three disciplines.  Even if this achilles thing ends up being bad, it hasn't affected my swimming, and I like that a whole lot.  

Onward.  Ironman Maryland 2015.  

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Ironman Training: Week 1.857

Welp, I'm in it.  I've been "loosely" training for my Ironman for months now, just building up a base and working on my skill in swimming and cycling.  But now, I'm officially in it.  I'm in "the plan".  My plan is a 20 week somewhat minimalist plan that I absolutely love.  I love the structure, the simplicity, predictability.  It's a thing of beauty.  After tomorrow, I'll have finished the first two weeks of the plan.  

During my self-designed base building winter/spring training, I was doing 2 bikes, 2 swims, and 2 runs each week, plus 4 short strength training workouts.  Most of my bike rides at that time were on the trainer.  One ride would be short, during the week, at 30 minutes to one hour.  The other would be longer, at 1.5 to 3 hours.  Same idea with my runs.  One short one (4-6 miles) during the week, and one long one (10-13 miles, usually), on the weekend.  Swimming, I had been doing almost exclusively at Master's, usually two weekdays in the mornings at 5:45 am, usually at about 3000-3500 yds each day.  I do the strength training from  I consistently do Bia (hip), Athena (leg circuit), Poseidon (general strength bodyweight), and Apollo (dynamic core).  The others I only dabble with here and there for variety, and not very often.

Before getting into the plan, I was a little bit dreading the official training.  I wasn't loving the biking, especially.  It was uncomfortable, I didn't enjoy it, and it took a lot of time.  I kept thinking about what my "ideal" training schedule would look like.  This is what I came up with:  3 run days, 2 swim days, strength training as I've been doing, after my workouts, and biking only for commuting/leisure/fun.  I would have one designated rest day, and one "fun" workout day for rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, or a group social bike ride.  I still think that sounds fabulous, and may very well do that for a while when I'm done with this thing.

BUT, I no longer dread the Ironman training.  I really like it.  And....hopefully....maybe....I'm going to start actually enjoying the biking!  I'm not getting my hopes up too far yet, but I think it's looking good.  The thing is, I still don't like triathlons.  I like triathlon TRAINING, but not triathlons.  I like doing triathlon training for running races, and the occasional swim or bike only event.  But I don't particularly enjoy doing all three in one day.  Part of that is just that the events themselves are so dang expensive, and the people are so.....gear heavy and a little snobby (overgeneralization, I know,, I have some awesome triathlete friends, but runners are still the coolest people around! :)

Anyway, my training right now is, like I said, fairly consistent.  Here's my week:

Mon: rest, work either 7a-3p or 11a-7p.
Tues: interval swim (5:45am), interval ride (7:30am), work 11a-7p.
Wed: easy run, Bia (hip), Athena (leg circuit).  Work either 7a-3p or 11a-7p.
Thur: interval swim (5:45 am), easy bike (7:30am), work 11a-7p.
Fri: easy run, Apollo (core), Poseidon (arms).  Work either 7a-3p or 11a-7p.
Sat: Long bike ride.
Sun:  Open water swim, long run.
Or, written another way:

Swim: Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday.
Bike: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.
Run: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday.
Strength: Wednesday, Friday.
Rest: Monday

As always, you can keep tabs on my training log at
I do make some modifications as needed.  I have already, and will again, flop my Wednesday/Friday interval and easy runs, usually to accommodate social group runs falling on an easy day.  I didn't have time to do my strength training with my run yesterday, so I did it today.  Tomorrow is supposed to rain so I'm doing a pool swim instead of open water.  But mostly.  I plan to follow it basically as written!

Let's talk now about gear.



I like swimming now, a lot.  But I didn't have a wetsuit and didn't particularly want or feel the need for one.  But, I guess it's a competitive disadvantage to NOT have one, due to their buoyancy.  Plus, IM MD apparently has a small jellyfish issue.  So.

I am however, fairly cheap, so I went on Ebay to track one down.  After some research, I decided I wanted the DeSoto two piece style wetsuit.  I got the tops and bottoms separately, used for about $40 each.  The top was a "black pearl", or lower end model, while the bottoms are the "first wave" or higher end model.  I bought them several months ago and finally had the chance to try them out in my first open water swim of the season last weekend.

I swam with a girl I met through the Ann Arbor Triathlon Club at Silver Lake in Pinckney.  We then went on a 7 mile trail run afterward.  ANYWAY, yeah, the wetsuit SUCKED.  The bottoms were fine, but the top was horribly constricting, especially around the neck/chest.  I made it all of 300 yards before heading over to the beach to take it off.  The good news is, I have a pretty good tolerance for cold water when swimming (not unlike my excellent tolerance of cold weather while running).  (Biking in the cold is a different story entirely though.....)  After doing some more research, I think that the "Black Pearl" line of wetsuits is just too stiff.  I should have waited for a "First Wave" line in the top, or gone for a larger size in the top, because it just doesn't have enough give.  I will keep an eye on either of those options on Ebay.



So, what changed with biking?  Yesterday, I went to the Bike and Tri Shop in Livonia, and got a fitting done.  I had REALLY wanted to go to Jess Bratus (Fit Mi!), but I discovered that the Tri Shop offers a 50% discount for Ann Arbor Triathlon Club members so I just couldn't justify the extra cost to not use that discount.  (If I had read the discount list earlier, I actually could have gotten the fitting completely free in the off season!!  DAMNIT!!!)  I decided I needed to go fairly urgently, because I had developed some pretty decent pain in my right posterior tibial tendon (medial ankle area) that seemed to be exacerbated by hard cycling, and I though something might be wrong with my cleat setup (I was right).

At the fitting, mostly, I had a blast.  It was so cool.  I took some photos and videos (below).  I was surprised at how "subjective" to my preferences Tom let the fitting be, but I think that is the right way to go.  If I'm not comfortable, it doesn't matter how fast or ergonomic the position is.  I was really impressed with his knowledge and passion for biking too.  I would definitely recommend doing it!  We ended up moving my saddle forward and up, and rotating the nose down a bit, rotating my handlebars toward me a bit, and adjusting my cleats to a more neutral (vs. toed-in) position.


While I was there, I ended up trying on and buying a sleeveless wetsuit.  I got this one.  It felt much better than my DeSoto Black Pearl top in the store, but I haven't gotten the chance to try swimming in it yet.  I won't until next Sunday probably, because it's supposed to rain most of the day tomorrow.  I like the idea of sleeveless right now anyway, because I'm a strong enough swimmer to not need that buoyancy in the arms (I'll still have plenty in the body and the legs), and I tend to run pretty hot while working out, and the water will be on the warm side most likely at my race, and I was very very worried about shoulder fatigue swimming with a full sleeve wetsuit for such a long distance.  I'm excited to try it out next week.  I am still on the lookout for a different DeSoto top to have available for colder swims, but for now, I'm happy.  

Also at the Tri Shop,  I picked up a trainer mat for my bike, and some Chamois Butt'r.  (I hate that that stuff is necessary.  There's another strike against cycling!).  All in all, I swiped a pretty big credit card purchase yesterday, but no buyer's remorse so far.  I got a better deal than most places online, had a great time, met some great people, and got my bike a lot more comfortable and ridable than it was!

I rode it for about 30 miles today and it felt great!  I actually enjoyed the ride a lot, and put up some better speed numbers than my usual.  I went at 7am with two other ladies, stopped for coffee at the turnaround point, and made it back in time to beat the thunderstorms.  All in all a great ride.

On that note, I want to add that I love love love my friends and the endurance athlete community in Ann Arbor.  I don't have to choose between Ironman training and a social life, because here, Ironman training IS my social life.

Last Saturday I rode with the AABTS.  Last Sunday I swam and ran with Laurie from the Tri Club.  Tuesdays and Thursdays I swim with the Masters Club.  This past Wednesday I ran at 5:45 with Ashley and Lina.  Friday, Ashley met at me at 5:15am (!!) to run intervals with me before I went to work at 7am, even though she didn't have to be at work until 9.  Today I biked with Darleen and Jill (who has done 5 full Ironmans!).  Tomorrow I'm swimming with Alex, and running with Lina.

The ONLY thing I'm struggling with so far (aside from the ankle pain, which is improving/gone), is nutrition.  I am not going to open that can of worms in this post, but let's just say I haven't quite mastered fueling for this level of activity yet.

Game on.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

WCC Indoor Triathlon 2015 Results

Ok, here's the deal.  I'm going to take Janet's advice and write what I want, when I want, no pressure :).  So who knows how often that will be.  I can tell you it will be probably less focused on running and numbers and pictures and good quality funny writing, and more on emptying my brain.  I attempted the journaling thing and mostly find it to be pointless since nobody reads it.  I generally opt out of doing it because...why bother?

Anyway, I just finished the WCC Indoor Triathlon.  In fact, I'm still sitting in the gym in their coffee shop waiting for my friend to finish.

My goal for this race was to WIN IT.  I'm not sure if I accomplished that or not.  They give a 3 month free membership (worth $65 a month = $195) to the overall female and overall male winner.  I won it last year, but it looks like the competition that turned out this year was a bit tougher.  I'll find out later this week.

The format is 20 minute swim, 20 minute bike, 20 minute run, with ~5 minute transitions between.  They just sum the total distance to determine the winner.  (Which is absolutely a STUPID way to score it if you think about it, but I don't feel like going in to it.  I might have talked about it last year. ).   I won it last year with the following results:

Swim: 0.6106 miles (1075 yards)
Bike: 10.08 miles
Run: 2.65 miles
TOTAL: 13.3406 miles

My results today were:
Swim: 0.6534 miles (1150 yards)
Bike: 10.05 miles
Run: 2.73 miles
TOTAL: 13.4334

Soooo......meh.  I feel like my fitness has improved a lot more than those times show.  I'm pretty happy with my swim today, I didn't go all out but managed about 1:45 min per 100 yd pace for 20 minutes.  The bike is pointless because it's based on cadence only, so you just spin at 120rpms with no resistance.  The only reason my distance was slightly different this year was because my feet accidentally came unclipped from the pedals so I had to slow down the pedals for a second to clip back in.  D'oh.  The run is where I'm a little disappointed this year.  I ended up at like a 7:20 pace average for the 20 minute run on the treadmill, but I don't feel like that was a 100% effort.   I think I was a little too cautious at the beginning, trying not to start out too fast.  I just hate treadmill running;  it's so hard to run by feel when you have to push a button to increase or decrease your speed.

Anyway, I'll hopefully update you with my placing later this week.  A distance of 13.4334 miles LAST year would have put me in first place overall, INCLUDING the men, but like I said, I feel like they had a stronger turnout this year.

Next up today:  a 70.3 (half iron) triathlon clinic with professional triathlete Karen Smyers from 11:30am-1p, and a bike clinic with her from 2:30-4pm.

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