Monday, October 13, 2014

catching up!

Here we are almost 2 weeks passed our arrival back from CDA, and still trying to catch up!  I actually got to do some of that today. Analyze training plans, do some back and forth chatting with my own coach and strategize some final key workouts for one of my athletes as she heads into the last stages of Ironman AZ training.

For the past 4 weeks life has just been crazy busy.  I am one that thrives on staying busy and actually somehow am much more productive with the more I have to do!  But, over these past few weeks it's almost been too much for me.  I really had to focus on utilizing every single hour of the day, and look ahead at my work meetings and training plan to try to figure out how to fit it all in.  I don't know how it happened, but work got so crazy busy at the worst time!  With Ironman build in full swing, trying to do all of our last minute bucket lists in CDA then packing up and traveling back home there were not many spare hours (or minutes) in any given day.  

And in typical LaManiac fashion, I also planned a trip to Mexico for us as well.  For the past 3 years we've gone down the week before racing Soma, and somehow I feel like it might be my good luck charm because each year my races have gotten better and just this last time I came short of my <5hr 1minute="" 47="" and="" by="" div="" goal="" only="" race="" seconds....="">

To kick off the trip I actually took some PTO from work.  I really wanted to get in a solid ride before we left and with my early morning meetings there was just no way to make that happen and still try to leave at a decent time.  Unfortunately mother nature mixed up our training plans with a great day for storms so we had to get creative.  Shane & I did a set of 3 bikes and 3 runs back to back for 4.5 straight hours.  I started on the trainer and he started with a run.  We made our bike sets a little longer than the run sets so one person did have to wait a little bit longer, but it actually worked out ok and it was a super fun and new type of training for both of us.  Determined to get the most bang for my buck I used my power readings and set intervals increasing with difficulty for each bike set.  I did each run as a descending per MILE set and rounded off the 3 runs with a solid 10miles.  6 changes of clothes later we were finish with a solid day in the bank and in the car heading south of the border!

We had some company for this trip, Bryce our #SundayFunday extraordinaire and Shane's business parter.  We've cooked some amazing fresh seafood meals, played for hours on the beach acting like teenagers riding on the banana boat getting flown into the sea, survived a swim in the bath like ocean staring at scary stingrays on the sandy ocean floor and had a couple of brutally HOT HOT HOT sweatfest/sufferfest runs.  We sang and danced and again sweat like we were running in Hawaii at the Roger Clyne Show and met some fun people, as always, in our little second home town.  

My feet are swollen and my body is sore (DAMN BANANA BOAT) and I'm probably going to be working on rehydrating my body all week long to be ready for Soma, but as usual it's all been worth it.

I have a lot more to post, training updates, coaching updates and how I'm feeling as I lead into my first time ever doing 2x Ironman in one year!  However, for now, the beach and feet in the sand are calling my name!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

cake AND ice cream

I'm probably going to shoot myself for putting this post out there, but it's been in my head so many times I figured, eh, why not!? That said, if I get a bunch of comments (most likely on facebook - I am a glutton for punishment after all) I will most likely just sit back and watch the show while others debate.

What I DO want to do is put out there what I have found works for ME, why, and why I'm not going to change anything about it, despite all the hoop-la, discussions, articles, new products, etc out there....

I am NOT a registered dietician. I am NOT an expert in the science. I AM an athlete, a coach, and someone who is not genetically spoiled or gifted. I did not inherit any skinny genes, fast twitch muscles or naturally sculpted body.  I work for every single performance and success I've had.  I've tried many different approaches, I've failed, I've broken down, and finally I feel like I am on the road to getting the most out of my hard work....

There has been so much talk and research lately with the low calorie metabolic efficiency diet/training I've definitely questioned my own methods of EAT EAT EAT = NO BONK, but when push comes to shove, I have a nutrition plan that works for ME, has brought me success, more and more as I've tweaked and perfected it. While I've changed out the type of calories I'm putting in my body, one thing has remained the same for the past 3 years (to which each ironman marathon has ended with a PR time) and that is the amount of calories I consume DURING the race as well as the amount I consume PREPARING for the race. (I also believe this is key - you have to train your gut, just like you train your legs, arms, and heart)

Before I give all my top secret (kiddding!) fuel plan details in this blog, I'm going to go back to my first few races that ended in either 5+hour marathons or 30+min positive splits. I ate 100 calories every ~30-45minutes.  So for a 6.5hour bike ride I would consume < 1000 calories/hour. This was no different than what I practiced in training, but I also never ran a marathon after a long ride.

Then I met Michelle. My first race with her as my coach she scared the crap out of me (not gonna lie, she still does surprise me with comments like that and they STILL scare the crap out of me, but it works and I always follow my plan) telling me that while I may have a goal of 1:50 run (70.3 race) if I did not eat AT LEAST 800 calories I would be walking the back half of the run.

I think back to that race (Oceanside 2012) quite often and just smile. I did everything she told me to and PR'd my 70.3 run time by over 10minutes.  Since that race, I've gone from a 5+hr IM marathon down to a 3:52 (and still working)! I have absolutely NO stomach issues, no bonking, minimal bloating and no problem taking in my calories (BECAUSE I PRACTICE IT).

I realize many disagree with this, but for me it works.  I take in 1800 calories (yes the same as a 170lb guy and I am 5'3" and ~120ish lbs) during an Ironman bike. I bring ALL my own fuel (Osmo, bonk breakers (these are magic to my stomach!) and GU chomps). When I get to the run I'm full, but not sick. I'm able to get down 1 gel every 30-40minutes until about mile 20 then I fuel off whatever I can get down in the last 10k.

This last Ironman was the first time I raced with Osmo and I 100% felt better than I ever had. I ate my above nutrition plan and when I finished and caught my breath I drank a beer, and shortly there after was able to consume real food. 2 hours later, more food.  I had no digestive issues, no bonking and no delirium.

I've gone back and forth on wondering if it would be worth it to put in the time to see if my body could become more metabolically efficient, but in the end I have a formula that works (for me) and right now I would rather focus my energy on building speed and strength to help with my splits. Doing shorter, harder efforts that require carbs and recovery and that is what will help me reach my goals.

I've talked with Michelle quite a bit about it all this nutrition and fueling stuff. She's such an incredible wealth of information from research as well as 20 years of her own experiences, mistakes and successes. I reached out to her looking for advice to give, or rather how to word and express to my athletes the importance of fueling for endurance racing.  While I didn't want to say "this is the only way (EAT!!),"  I did want to express to my athletes that as their races are closing in I don't feel they have the time or experience (right now) to work on, or try out other sources to train their body to use fat as fuel.

Michelle sent me to THIS article that so well explained what I just could not articulate to my athletes (as well as myself!!) so I forwarded it on and suggested if they were interested in working on their metabolic efficiency and lower calorie/carb approach to try it after their big races, and in the off season...

Phew - there I got out what I've been trying to say for many, many months!

Back to the cake and ice cream for a bit....  About a year ago I was getting sick, A LOT.  Like throwing up almost every night.  I ate a pretty clean die, and a typical day was:

wakeup eat PB toast and drink SPARK.
1st workout
2nd bfast eggs, maybe toast or a wrap or smoothie with vega protein powder
lunch - usually some sort of salad, occasionally a tunafish sandwich
snacks: fruit, nuts, cheese, greek yogurt, maybe cottage cheese & fruit, pretzels if being lazy, etc
dinner:  varried - homemade veggie pizza, spaghetti squash, turkey tacos, roasted veggies, baked sweet potatoe, salmon, veggie burger.....
dessert:  dark chocolate & or wine

So yes, not perfect, but certainly not horrible. I love food, I love GOOD food and wine, and I really love good chocolate.  I realize I could clean up my act a bit, but I think if I took that too seriously in order to see if it would help my training I would not enjoy the training as much.... I never want it to be taken so seriously that it isn't FUN, or that I'm not FUN.

Anyway, I went to see my naturopathic doctor and had a full food panel/allergy test. My biggest fear when I went in for my appointment to review the results was I'd developed a peanut butter allergy...

Thank GOD that was not the case, however, I was basically allergic to everything else I loved:
TOP allergies : cow dairy, eggs, tomatoes (I'm back to eating those with no side affects tho?) and pineapple
Next tier: wheat, yeast
Lowest tier:  a few random things that I don't even remember and she said not to worry about.

The plan was to start a gluten free diet, eliminate all cow dairy and eggs.  So, pretty much where I got 75% of my protein from: wheat, eggs and dairy (cheese, greek yogurt).

I spent about 2 months eating absolutely NOTHING on my allergy list. I ate all vegetables, fruit and some plant based protein. I was tired, grumpy, bonking.  Yes I realize that it would have helped if I added some meat in there, but I haven't had red meat in about 15 years and I haven't been able to stomach chicken for the past couple of years. There was no way I was going to force feed myself these things.

The positive? I stopped throwing up. My body was swelling less and recovering faster.  The negative:  I gained about 5lbs (probably lack of protein, overall calories as well as a few other adrenal/hormonal things I had going on) and I was definitely having more lows than normal during training.

For me it's not just buying gluten free products (which I do now, but I was trying to go ALL in then) because most gluten free products still contain some form of yeast and egg). I was super frustrated for a while, but then I found a few things that worked for me (Gluten Free waffles, and after about 6 months I added in egg whites only without getting sick).  I dabble with a little bit of cheese (I can still eat goat and sheep) and as long as I am moderate about it I don't see any adverse affects.

Will all of the above information I definitely have to focus on my training nutrition a bit more.  Naturally a lot of my carbs (bread, sometimes pasta, crackers) were taken out of my diet.  I didn't really mind it, I love making big salads for lunch and focus on a higher fat diet to fill me up.  BUT, when training week after week 15-20 hours back to back eventually the body gets depleted and just needs some damn sugar (this is MY body I'm referring to). I don't realize it until it's too late and more often then not Michelle catches my comments in training peaks and replies with - GO EAT CARBS.  Guess what? Every single time she said that to me, and every single time I do as I'm told it WORKS.

A short little scenario example from this week. Last weekend after camping with my dad I let my diet go. I had a few bites of normal eggs, I ate some bread, I devoured some huckleberry pancakes. I topped it off with pizza. Shockingly, I woke up in the middle of the night throwing up. I felt like complete crap for 2 days and after 4 days of a clean diet, and crappy workouts, Michelle suggested carbs. I snacked on fruit before a swim set and NAILED it,  then last night I ate some coconut ice cream for dessert with a side of wine.

Today, I had my best run in weeks. I'm full of energy, I'm motivated and awake. I realize this isn't science here, but it's just 1 of many examples of every time I hit that low low low, I add in some extra carbs and I end up circling back around.

Now, the cake part... that was just partially to get interest, and the other part was truth in my best short course race of the season a couple of weeks ago happened when I ate a piece of chocolate cake the night before.  This might be my new pre-race ritual instead of wine ;)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Priest Lake Triathlon

When I found out about the Priest Lake Triathlon, I was bummed because it fell on the same date as the Seawheeze half marathon I was planning on doing.  However, after Ironman my heart was just not into the half, or spending the money to travel away for the weekend when I was already "away" from home.  As soon as I made the final decision to back out of the half, I instantly was "in" for the Priest Lake Tri. It was the last race in the area and wrapped up a solid month of racing for me with back to back weekends, something I've never done.

The only dilemma was I couldn't find a reservation at the "resort" where the race took place the night before so we were up at 4 am and on the road before 5. We've been spoiled here not having to do those 4am wakeup calls so it was a nice little reminder :)

My friend from HS planned on joining us Saturday for some camping style fun and celebration so we rented a little cabin for the night after the race.

What a fantastic event.  Everything was casual, well organized and the scenery was unbeatable.  The best part about the race was the swim start.  It was a self seeded rolling swim start for everyone.  I got to start right up front and had the BEST swim I've ever had in any distance race.  I went out hard, but controlled and found my rhythm and my pack. The water was so crystal clear you could see the bodies around you and barely had to sight. This is something I've yet to experience in any race. I knew I was with the front pack and raced hard and smart to hang on to the back of the pack, which I've never been able to do before.  I came out with about 8 other swimmers in 11th place including the men!

This picture isn't of the race venue but somewhere else we drove to on the lake - you can see how crystal clear the water is!

The bike was just as breathtaking and I actually had to remind myself that I was racing not sightseeing. I rode strong, but did have to back down a bit because my left glute/hip was locking up a bit.  I knew there were some really strong girls behind me so I was happy to hold them off until we rolled into T-2.

The run was again just as beautiful, which made up for the fact that it was out of my comfort zone all on dirt forest roads without a flat section on it!  This was definitely the most challenging 10k I've done but I was just so happy to be out there, and thankful I didn't have my Garmin on!

I was passed by one girl and she was FLYING, but not in my age group.  Then, in the last quarter mile I heard heavy breathing from what sounded like a girl.  I didn't turn around to look, but I was damn sure not going to give up and get passed (which I usually expect in a short course race) in that final stretch. I dug deep and pulled away, crossing the line just seconds in front of her, and happy I did because she did turn out to be in my age group!

In the end I ended up 2nd, which must have been due to the rolling start because there was no one else in front of me (in AG - just elite category) but someone did have a faster time by THREE seconds :)

All in all it was my favorite racing day so far and I would go back and do it in a heartbeat!

Shane race in his first Mtn Bike tri and got 1st in his AG. He's hooked! Solid day for both of us, and a fantastic time with friends after the event just hanging out on the beach and later by the campfire.

It has been so MUCH FUN doing these new (to me) events, such a nice change from the same old Tempe Town Lake venue with exceptional race directors and really, really nice athletes.  In fact, at the start of the race as we were lined up for the swim - it seems everyone knows everyone and they all introduced themselves to me, wished me good luck then cheered for me out on the course.  Amazing sportsmanship and a reminder of how much I love this sport and community.

One more fun weekend adventure coming up in Montana doing real camping with my dad (wish me luck - it's been years since I've done this!) then back to Ironman training next week!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Racing Coeur d'Alene

Since this is the first time I've ever raced 2 Ironman in a year, I wasn't sure what to expect between the two. I was curious how my body would recover and how my mind would handle jumping right back into training. Well, my body surprised me a bit with feeling pretty great after about 10 days, but instead of hopping back into long steady ironman stuff, it's been quite the opposite.

After talking with Michelle about how the next 6 weeks were going to be - finding some threshold and switching it up to get my muscles out of that Ironman pacing, I quickly jumped into finding race mode!

Let me just say that the past few weeks of training have had me more trashed, more sore and more in shock then a peak month of Ironman training. My muscles have been so confused with what I've been trying to do to them.  Sometimes they respond, sometimes they fight and sometimes they leave me so sore I can hardly move. All good feedback that we're doing the right thing here.

So 2 weeks ago was a race that I've looked at for the past 5 years. Actually, I did participate in it back in 2009 when we were here for 2 months, but as a relay.  I swam, Shane biked and friend from high school ran. We had a blast, but in the back of my mind I thought I have to do this someday....

The race overlapped with a weekend that my uncle was coming over from Seattle, and in an effort to not take it too seriously I was on my feet too much, drank too much and stayed up too late the night before. Priorities of spending time with family that doesn't happen very often or maybe save a couple minutes on a race?

While that all sounded good at the time, at mile 3 of the bike as I was trying to find as much power in my legs as possible to hammer on the flat sections, it certainly didn't seem like my best idea. My quads were SCREAMING with every pedal stroke and the sensation of a possible cramp gave me no choice but to ease up and listen to my body.

At least I felt strong on the swim?  The water was typical race day choppy, but I absolutely loved it!  I bolted out in front of my wave (all women under 45) and while a few dropped me I held my ground and came out of the water in 5th.  The time meant nothing as it was obviously a slow swim (27mins!!), but looking at the results and seeing I was #5 made me happy.  I'm FINALLY learning to race in the water!

another great example of swim time not equivalent to actual swim pace.  in 2009 I swam this course in  under 22mins ...

Anyway, back to the bike. The bulk of the 1300 ft of climbing is in a 2.5 mile section that takes you from the lake view section of the bike (and run) course of IMCDA up into these gorgeous hills. I've been riding the course weekly (but easy effort) because the views are just unbeatable. You basically do 10miles of flat, then climb straight up 2.5 miles.  Then have a couple more fast and flat miles before another section of climbing.  Then after 18 miles you basically descend all 1300 ft of climbing in ~2 miles before a 5 mile FLAT section back to transition.  It's fun, it's hard and it's certainly not a fast course.

What looks like a little bump around mile 5 - that's the hill we do on the run course.  It just looks small in comparison to the next giant hill! I actually did repeats on that big hill last weekend and put a screen with grade on it. It ranges from 6%-14% at the steepest section (the very top).

I couldn't believe I hit my goal time based on how my legs felt and came in around 1:14, in 5th place OA.  I had passed a couple of girls, and I also got passed by a couple more.

Then the run happened. I got off the bike and as soon as I started running my legs felt like bricks. They felt worse than they did after 112 miles on Ironman day.  Between the hard efforts earlier in the week to not resting enough it was going to be a very long 6 miles. I couldn't get my pace for mile 1 under 8min for anything.  FINALLY somewhere around mile 3 the legs started to loosen up and I was running about 7:45's, but had nothing more to give.  I got passed by 2 more girls, 1 in my age group and just tried to hang on!  I finished with a barely sub 49min 10k and felt every muscle in my legs.

That race hurt like nothing I've felt in a long time.  Just a reminder how important resting and taking care of your body is, but that said, I have no regrets ;)

The post race celebration was awesome.  They had a beer garden serving a delicious huckleberry ale and everyone in our group got an award.  Shane's relay team won 1st place and I got 3rd AG and 7th OA.  Super fun day with friends, then the rest of the afternoon was spent cruising around town with Shane & my uncle.  A perfect summer weekend...

Note to self - wearing a dress and flip flops on a road bike with speedplay pedals, not the most comfortable option :)

Next up was the CDA crossing! When we were doing a practice swim for Ironman a man promoting the race came up to us and gave us swim caps. I was online a couple days later finding out the details and we were a shoe in! Very unlikely for me. We have how many splash and dash and OWS events in AZ and I never participate.  But,  this was different.  It was in MY lake and you get to swim across it?  How cool is that?

It was a very low key but awesome morning.  We walked onto one of the resort cruise boats and were shuttled to the other side of the lake. Got off the boat, and 10minutes later we were off on the adventure. My instructions were something like swim your face off and if it doesn't hurt you aren't doing it right. And, the result should leave me curled up in a ball on the couch the rest of the day.

Mission accomplished. I swam and swam and swam until my arms actually failed to come out of the water a couple of times. And while my time wasn't exactly what the goal was, after computing the ACTUAL distance into pace it was right on and made me happy. Instead of a 2.4mile swim it was about 2.6 and my 1:07 pace makes a 1:01 pace for 2.4.  YES.  Stings a little to not have that official, but oh well - I did what I set out to do, and I beat my husband out of the water by 5mins.  I've spent 8 months trying to pay him back for smoking my shitty swim time at IMAZ.

The swim ended at the Hagadon Center (or the floating green golf course) where they provided food and had a ton of raffles.  A top notch event with the proceeds going to 3 local charities.

Oh yah, did I mention the 10-13 year olds that did this and many swam under 1hr.... or the 70plus year olds that did it. Super inspiring and cool to see!

This weekend will end my summer of racing with the one that has a little more nastalgia for me.  It takes place about 2hours north of here at the gorgeous Priest Lake where I grew up camping with my family every summer.  I can't wait to SWIM here:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Race the River Sprint Tri

What happens when you put someone who has been training for Ironman distance into a Sprint Triathlon on a whim? Well, I'll tell you. You can go maybe a TAD bit faster than normal, and finish ready for the next workout :)

July so far has been about all these fun new challenging workouts. Short, hard, max effort, hammer up the hill, squat, lunge, then run or ride on those squat and lunged legs, repeat. No 5hour rides (although the swim distance is still there, so are the 100's repeat!), no long slow HR caps.

I'm loving the mixup of training, and based on what my Garmin is showing, it's MUCH needed. My legs poop out on the max effort 1min hill repeats with a HR BARELY hitting 170. I can run at 145-150 all day long but that 170 on the bike I literally almost fell over at the top of the hill only to dart down it and do it all over again.

I guess I got off topic here. Shane & I were out on this gorgeous ride on the old IM Course by Hayden Lake. It was a Friday afternoon and I took a long lunch. It was perfect weather, perfect scenery and I was happy as a clam. I have absolutely no idea how the idea popped into my head, but I said to Shane, "what do you think would happen if I raced a Sprint tri on Sunday." He replied, "Well, you probably won't win."

Challenge Accepted. Kidding. But, of course I got home and send Michelle and email saying something about Good idea? Or, Bad idea, trashed slow ironman legs? I honestly wasn't sure what she would say, but I figured if the idea is to get me out of my comfort zone and try to find some top end, or at least get me out of Ironman speed then a sprint race would certainly give me that opportunity.

Michelle thought it was a great idea but she instilled a PANIC REST taking my long hill repeat ride off for Saturday in lieu of an easy flush ride trying to give my legs a little last minute pop. So, Saturday I soft peddled for about an hour and rode over to the race registration. The race would take place just down the path from our rental so I could just wake up and ride my bike there in the am. Perfect!

The quick recap (how much detail can there be for a race that is just barely over an hour!?) is I had a blast. It was very well organized, a good mix of local pro and elites all the way to beginners. I was in a swim wave with all women 30-39 and I did just exactly what I've been trying to do for YEARS in the water. I started out in the front hard and didn't let up when I wanted to. I swam with one other girl who started to pull away so I got behind her until she was veering too wide from the buoy line so I pulled away and swam straight . We exited the water together as the first two in the group and I hauled ass up the 1/4 mile stretch from the river.

From there on out I stayed out in front passing the youngsters that started behind me on the bike.  The bike had lots of turns and 2 loops for just 11.5 miles. Thankfully I'm well experienced with that since all of our races in Tempe do the exact same thing. My legs and lungs burned from the get go but I just tried not to let up. I didn't get passed once and was out onto the run with a quick ~:30 transition.

The run was an out and back with a 1 mile jaunt off to the side (.5mile uphill/.5mile downhill). I had ONE speed.  I didn't wear a Garmin but I checked my watch at every mile marker and mile one was only my half ironman pace :)  Thankfully, each mile mile my legs loosened up and I could get a faster turnover.  Who negative splits a 5k by ~1minute?  Clearly someone who is in Ironman shape....

I was passed only once on the run by someone who started in the wave 5minutes behind me so I was super happy to finish a race for the first time ever NEVER being (race wise) passed.

I checked the results later and while my splits are nothing to be very impressed with, my attitude to go out there and go hard and not give up (YAY, I'm finally learning how to race a swim!!!) = mission completed!

I ended up winning my age group by ~ 6 minutes and coming in as the first age grouper (non pro or Elite) for the day so couldn't ask for anything more (the results show one girl ahead of me that started in my wave but pretty sure it's a mix up since no one was ahead of me or passed me).

This is my second local race here and I have 3 more - I'm very impressed with how organized and well everything runs so I hope the next races are the same!  Loving the different venues, different competition and overall experiences of this summer.

Next up is a very HARD and hilly race that starts in the same place as IMCDA.  It's a very competitive race that has been going on for over 30 years.  I competed as a relay a few years ago (swimming), but I'm up for the challenge of that nasty (yet gorgeous) bike ride!