Saturday, June 23, 2012

7000 feet

Last September while on the drive up to Flagstaff to spend the holiday weekend out of the heat, some serious FOMO, serious plotting, and a few cocktails later; the next thing you know we have an entire year of fun, hard work and goals all planned out.

Final goal = return to Ironman Canada!!!  A few races lined up before hand, but the kicker (and must have to commit to another August race) was renting a home for the summer up in Flagstaff.  3 partners in crime (Shane, gf Karen & I) are lucky enough to be working from home (for now!!!) and pretty much all we needed was a wifi connection and we were good to go.  I put my research skills to work in December and came across what turns out to be the PERFECT rental for the summer.  It's pricey, but we have plenty of room for guests and were pleasantly surprised at the location of the house.  We are 1.5 miles from the infamous training haven of Lake Mary road,  about the same distance to downtown restaurants and bars, endless running trails at our doorstep and it's shockingly gorgeous and quiet all at the same time.   The best part about all of this is we are only 2 hours from home so it makes it easy for us to return for necessities, work meetings, etc.

While training for Canada in 2010, I spent several weekends up in Flagstaff training with friends over the weekends.  It just doesn't get any better than endless bike friendly roads and 85 degree highs in July and August.  Ok, really anything is better than the 90deg lows and 115 deg highs in Scottsdale.  I remember my first ride up north; my HR was high, but the elevation really didn't affect me all that negatively, other than having trouble sleeping.

Little did I know it was all a HOAX!  We arrived up north last week on a Thursday afternoon.  Enjoyed some champagne to celebrate our first night in the beautiful pines and then off to bed.  No sleep (as expected), and we were up and out for a run.  I have to say it wasn't all that bad.  My HR was high, but I didn't feel as bad as expected - unfortunately for Shane, he was a mess!  Hyperventilating, gasping for air and seeing stars…… 

Our second workout for the day was a 3500m swim at NAU.  The course was set up 50m long course and we had a workout with sets of 100 on descending intervals.  BSC coach gave us a few extra seconds to make up for the altitude, but it just wasn't enough.  I couldn't do anything but laugh and push off the wall hoping for the best.  Flagstaff stole my speed!!!  My 100meters were :10-12 seconds slower than what I swim at home in a 26.2 meter pool.  

#blame it on the elevation

For our first Saturday "long" ride we headed out to an area called Sunset Crater.  Our plan was to do the 50mile loop, then add on some extra miles to get up to 4hours.  The ride was GORGEOUS.  Fast start, ending with some great rollers and then climbs.  

Unfortunately, my (and Shane's) body was really having a hard time with the elevation and I found myself flat from the get go.  I tried to stay with the group, but just kept falling back.  At about 90 minutes I was dizzy, sleepy and sick to my stomach.  It didn't help that I forgot my watch so I had no measurement of my HR or any idea how long we'd been riding.  My breathing felt fine, my legs felt fine, but I just wanted to pull over and sleep on the side of the highway. With no way out other than climb the hills past the lava fields, we just kept **very** slowly plugging away.  Shane & I stopped after the 50mile loop (3700ft of climbing!) and couldn't have been more happy to get home and rest…

Sunday things were looking up a bit and we headed out for a ride with some big gear intervals and threshold sprints.  While the ride felt a bit better and pace was certainly more appropriate, I still had the dizzy/sleeping feeling at about 90minutes.

As the week went on, things continued to improve (THANK GOD).  I had a gorgeous day of riding hill repeats on Tuesday and with views like that below, how could I not feel blessed for being in such a gorgeous place??

By Friday's session at the pool I was feeling much better about things.  My sleep is still horrible and I'm definitely feeling the fatigue, but my 100 times are almost back to normal.  My HR has dropped and my breathing less labored.  No more dizzy feeling on the bike, but the long run is yet to be determined.  The dogs are in absolute heaven with open trails and woods in our backyard they are getting lots of exercise and loving having extra people around to bug all day long :)  It's a hard life being a LaPan dog...

Today was our first true long ride.  The wind was whipping but we all rode strong.  Shane & I got in 90+ miles in just under 5hours with no nausea (minus the sugar overload) or dizziness.  My HR was slightly elevated, but I'm pretty sure that was due to lack of sleep and extra hits off of my inhaler (wind = tight lungs).  Legs felt strong and happy for overall a great day of training!

Tomorrow is our first real long run and I'm hoping for the best.  The run seems to be coming along the slowest, but we'll just see what the body can handle.

Elevation training is going to be interesting to say the least, but I can't wait to see how my body adapts and what kind, if any benefits I take away from it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Boise…half marathon

My big goals of this year were pretty simple, in theory.  Get my head on straight and build some confidence and prove I can actually run in a triathlon.  The Boise 70.3 28.4 (according to my garmin the bike was 14.1 - we were told 15, ironmanlive shows 12) was sure enough the perfect opportunity to test both of these things.

This race was a last minute add on to the warmup to Ironman Canada.  It would be a good test of fitness, and a great way to test the nutrition for my "B" race Barb's (vineman) half IM at the end of July.  I know in the past my Ironman runs have gone to shit because of my nutrition, whether it was from stomach issues from the water (CDA) or nailed nutrition on the bike (Canada) but failure to keep up with calorie intake on the run.  I had my calories (stuff my face ~750) perfected on my last couple of brick workouts and went into the race with my head in the right spot.  I gained a lot of confidence in my running abilities this winter by racing 3 half marathons under 1:40 in the span of 6 weeks.  Clearly, that couldn't have been a fluke.  I CAN run.

I of course did my due diligence and researched some past times of people I knew.  The swims were average, if not slow, the bikes were all over the place and the runs were FAST.  Apparently weather is a common factor on the bike at this race.  With that in mind I didn't put out a very specific bike goal, but for the run and swim I had a couple of numbers that my training supported.  Swim ~32mins, run 1:48.  I figured my bike could be anywhere from 2:40 on a great day and 2:50+ on a bad day.  I said it from the get go with the weather conditions; this day was going to be all about the run.  All I had to do was make it there.

Of course all of this went to shit when the forecast for race day kept getting worse and worse all the way until we stepped off the shuttle bus at Lucky Peak Reservoir at 10:30 am Saturday.  Thankfully, I had come somewhat prepared, or as much as one could be for such conditions.  I had toe warmers, arm warmers, last minute decision to wear compression socks to keep my legs warm on the bike and thaw out the toes.  I had gloves to put my wetsuit on with, and gloves to wear on the bike.  I even had my neoprene swim cap.  Karen had an extra vest she was going to loan me.  And yes, I was about to wear PINK.

there goes the motto "it's all about the outfit"

I kept fairly quiet on the bus ride up to the swim.  I was fighting the I'm freezing demons in my head, but had looking around and realizing that everyone else was in the same boat and I knew nothing I said or did was going to change the weather.  It was only my attitude that I could control.  As we stepped off the bus into the start of a downpour of rain, crazy winds blowing the freezing air and rain onto us, Shane, Karen & I all just looked at each other and with out even speaking the words we were all wondering how in the hell we would get through this.  It's one thing to be cold and miserable, but this was different.  I began fearing the safety.  With wind gusts and near freezing temperatures I wonder how not only myself, but all the people around me on bikes could stay safe.  The biggest concern was the first 2 miles of steep descent off off the damn open to all of the wind gusts...

We immediately had to take off our layers to get body marked before going into transition.  As I was shaking uncontrollably from the cold, the wonderful volunteered marked me as quickly as possible and I was bundled back up immediately.  I went to my bike and loaded my nutrition and did a quick check of my gear bag (clean transition = everything must remain in the back and or attached to the bike).  I looked around me and almost couldn't believe what I was seeing.  People huddled under trees trying to block the wind and rain.  Nearly every single athlete in their wetsuits even though some of the waves didn't start for 2 hours.  I made one last minute decision to wear the thick jacket I had worn for the morning.  I wore it for a short spin the day before, and it was warm.  It seemed to be waterproof so far as I had been standing in the pouring rain for about 30mins and was still dry.  I gave the borrowed vest back to Karen so she could double up her layers.  Karen took a quick video of the chaos around us and I threw out a "I hate everyone" statement, almost laughing at myself! At this time the race directors made the day changing announcement that due to wind chills at freezing temperatures and gusts up to 40mph they were concerned about the safety on the bike course and were shortening the bike course to a straight shot of 15miles to get us to T1.  

This is wear my entire demeanor changed.  I went from fighting off the "how can I survive this" to actually having a smile on my face, cheering at the announcement and saying "we are going to have a GREAT run!

I headed to the porta potties and then Shane & I huddled behind the drop bag truck and decided to put on our wetsuits for warmth.  About 15minutes later we found Karen and got her in her suit as well.  I made one key decision here that may have saved me.  As I put my foot into a plastic bag to get the wetsuit on easier, I realized how warm it was.  I had been walking around in flip flops and my toes were throbbing from the cold.  I stole Shane's bag and tied it around my other foot and was immediately better (he was wearing socks under his flip flops).  For added warmth I put on my neoprene cap (the water was said to be 58 degrees - normally I wouldn't wear it for that temperature, but the thought of anything making me warm at that point sounded appealing).

The 3 of us stood around for what seemed to be for ever and despite my two partners in crime talking about DNFing or even DNSing, I remained silent.  I just had to get through the swim, bundle up and coast downhill to town and I went get to RUN.  We stood there, shivering in silent, peeing in our wetsuits to stay warm and then slowing headed to our wave groupings.  I tried to swing my arms around and jump up and down but my body didn't really cooperate. 

Most people were excited to get into the water as it was warmer than the air, but I think I had been so chilled to the bone for the past few days that nothing was going to warm me up.  I was in wave 7 and could see how slowly all the waves in front of me were getting to each buoy.  I got in the water about 2.5minutes before the start and breast stroked to the first buoy.  I was still shaking uncontrollably but tried to take deep breaths.  I got my face wet so I wouldn't be shocked when I put it into the water.  The  horn went off and we were headed out.  I did not do my typical start hard, find feet and ease in.  Instead I knew the best thing I could do was be steady and get my breathing under control.  I seemed to be staying with a group of about 5 girls in my wave and were were quickly catching the wave before us.  I kept noticing that every time I took a breath to the left there were a ton of girls about 10 yards out… To the right, no one.  I kept second guessing myself that I was swimming off course, but every time I looked up (a lot), I was right on the buoy line.  The buoys were every 100meters so it was actually really easy to sight.  I kept going along my line and began to feel great.  

And then the first turn happened and I felt as if I came to a complete STOP.  I could see the next buoy but I felt as if I couldn't get there.  I don't know if I was so cold my arms just weren't pulling, but I think the next 100meters took me almost as long as it took to get the first 500.  I eventually hit that buoy and continued on but I had definitely slowed down and the more I tried to speed up the more I was feeling exhausted and worn down from the cold.  My hands were freezing, my lips felt like they looked like Angeline Jolie and it was all I could do to keep going.  I was expecting a 40minute swim and could have cared less.  Just get to the run I kept telling myself.

The next time I looked up on the way back to shore I could have sworn I saw a tiny glimpse of blue sky.  I smiled inside and realized that yes, I could do this…

I excited the water, looked at my watch and saw ~37minutes (I had started it pretty early) so estimated I swam about 35.. Fine enough, just happy to be done.  I had to walk up to the wetsuit strippers because my feet were too numb, I was afraid to run.  They quickly got me out of my suit and I think I jogged into T-1.  I got my towel out, wiped my feet then sat down.  I got one foot into the compression sock fairly quickly, but the next one was a challenge.  I remember looking around and laughing at what was going on.  To my left was a girl grabbing her bike, aero helmet on and heading out of transition with her wetsuit STILL ON.  I asked her if she forgot something, she said nope.  I'm wearing it.  All around me people were saying they couldn't feel their hands or feet and basically were helpless.  I knew how much time I had wasted, but honestly didn't care.  I just wanted to be warm.  I took my timing chip off to make it easier to get the other stupid sock on, then attached it back my ankle, over my sock.  Next were arm warmers, then the coat.  Gloves, aero helmet, shoes (yeah for toe warmers) and my race belt.

Finally, I was off.  The first .25 mile is a very slight uphill with 2 speedbumps.  People were swerving all over and a couple of assholes guys came zipping by me being not just being reckless, but STUPID.  I stayed on my handlebars until I was down the wet windy descent (not like me, I LOVE to go down) and was comfortable getting aero (aero being relative to the big old coat I was wearing).  I couple of fast guys passed me, and maybe 1 or two girls, but I didn't care.  To be honest my quads were so cold and numb, I couldn't even tell if I was actually pedaling or not.  I just kept looking at my garmin and realizing how quickly the "15" miles were going by.  I soon heard the crowd of T-2 and got excited.  It was 14 miles and I was kinda thawed out and ready to run.  I dismounted my bike, and got into T-2.  I took off my helmet, coat and realized my arm warmers were soaked and not staying up so I threw those off as well.  I slipped on my shoes, visor and grabbed my bag of "stuff" and was out.  My toes were numb and at one point I actually asked a women if my foot was in my shoe.  I couldn't feel it, and felt like my left heel wasn't in.. it was so I continued on.  

As I looked down at my garmin I was seeing numbers in the mid 7's  I immediately pulled back even thought the effort felt easy.  I have practiced negative splitting my runs all year and knew that I was not up to running a 7:30pace half marathon.  Even after pulling back I was running faster than planned, but it felt too easy, so I just went with it.  I got in my head pretty early on that I could maybe run a 1:45.  The run was gorgeous, flat and scenic along the Boise River.  I was passed by some super fast girls that dropped me like a bad habit right away, but I just kept on moving at my pace.  I realized how beautiful it was, and I was smiling!  I thanked all the volunteers, high fived any kids I saw with their hands out cheering & thoroughly just enjoyed myself and the run. 

I hadn't taken in any nutrition on the bike so I took a gel at mile 3, then sips of water at the next few aid stations.  At the turnaround point I realized I was still holding a great pace and felt good, but maybe a little sleepy so I took my Slam (caffeine) drink for some energy, then 2 e21s at mile 7 and was on my way back out for the second loop.  My pace began to drop above 8min miles so I took my next gel at mile 8 and figured I could grab coke or one more gel if needed.  Around mile 9.5 I finally saw Shane and did some quick math realizing he would have to run about 2 minutes per mile to "catch me" (I knew he already made up all the time difference between our swim wave starts so the thought of actually being passed by him was so not going to happen!) and just dug deep.  I grabbed coke at the next 2 aid stations at at mile 11 I realized that I could do this.  That I was actually running my race, and proving to myself that my head was in the game, that I had accomplished what I came here for and was ecstatic.  

It truly is remarkable what the mind and body can endure.  I am so unbelievably proud of myself for not quitting, not even having the thought of quitting in my head when there was so much of it, and other negative energy, and misery going on around me.  

I finished 13th in my age group and with a guaranteed 5-6 slots to the 70.3 world championships I considered going to the roll down.  I talked with my coach, and made the decision to not go.  My year is about Ironman Canada.  As excited as the chance at a World Championships may be… my heart wouldn't be in it.  

I don't actually know if I would have even gotten a slot, but I'm ok with that.  I'm taking a couple of days to recover from the "half marathon" and ready to get back at there.

Thanks to everyone for their support and well wishes, it was definitely an experience!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

what a difference a day can make

Boys.  Beware.  This is probably not a post you want to read..   Not my typical allthingstraining post, but hey it is my blog and after THIS post, I suppose anything is fair game?

Here we go.  So, as a girl we as athletes (ok, everyone really), have that monthly pain in the ass thing we have to deal with.  It's just life.  I'm fairly lucky as I've never had any issues.  I'm healthy (somehow got that lucky gene even though my mother and sister both have had their fair share of problems both resulting in very young hysterectomies).  Of course the one in the family who chooses to not have children is just healthy as a fiddle.  god works in funny ways sometimes  So of course rather than having healthy back, hips, neck and IT bands I get healthy parts that I don't really care as much about….

Anyway.  I used to have a a cycle that I could track down the the HOUR.  Yes, you read that right, hour.  Then things got a little less consistent, but still always regular.  I don't have a ton of pain, maybe just a couple hours or so and rarely do I have mood swings.  I suppose it's really just like my personality.  Steady, even keeled. I guess the really only bad bad thing is my bloating, but if that's all I get, I can take it (and of course bitch about it).

All that said, apparently the recent stress in my life has taken it's toll and I've been a little out of whack.  I suppose my mom passing and finding out I have no job as of next year all within a couple of weeks of each other took it's toll.  Last month, my cycle was delayed by almost a week.  I ended up having to race in very uncomfortable circumstances but what I didn't realize is that delay may have also put me in bad timing for this weekend's upcoming race…and if things don't get regular could interfere with IM Canada as well.  I know, not the end of the world, but certainly not something I want to deal with.  So with all of this in mind I started Dr. Googling (it's totally a term, you know) to see if there was any crazy witchcraft like remedies to "start your period early."  Yes, I totally put those words into google.

And, sure enough page after page of funny forums and crazy people asking crazy questions and even crazier responses popped up.  A few were a bit out of my comfort zone and involve putting foreign objects into ones body (you know you are googling this right now, huh?), but I did come up with one other suggestion I was just enough NOT in the right state of mind and willing to try out.

Yes, I think I've lost my mind.  No, it hasn't worked yet, but yes I'm giving it one more day of trying in hopes something happens by tomorrow am… Nuff said.

Like I said, I'm typically a no fuss kinda girl, however, every few months here and there my hormones must get completely out of whack because something inside me turns to rage.  I feel like I'm crawling out of my skin, snippy, on edge and incredibly emotional.  So, pretty much like most ladies once a month, but NOT.LIKE.ME.  #husbandhappytoleavetown

Yesterday just happened to be one of those days.  The alarm went off at 5 am for Shane to get up, run and start the trek to Boise.  I woke up feeling unrested, and just cranky.  I had my usual routine of Spark (seriously - love this stuff and have drank it nearly every day for over 10 years) and PB toast.  I got my running clothes on and after about 20 minutes of procrastination (why does the taper do this to me?) I headed out the door.  I immediately felt like SHIT.  My hip hurt, my legs felt like lead, I was hot.  My belly was swollen and felt like it was protruding over my shorts ala muffin top style.  I had to pee (and yes I did - I have no shame in peeing in any of our desert washes - even if it's less than 1/4 mile from my house), and the thought of ending the run at "race pace" tempo made me want to vomit.

After the 30 min warmup I somehow lost my bitchy attitude and settled into a 20min tempo pace, dropping the avg about :10 each mile.  By the time I got home I felt so much better.

Unfortunately the mood didn't stay and I continued to crawl into a deep dark hole the rest of the afternoon.  I left my kitchen a mess (usually my pet peeve - is it REALLY that hard to rinse something off and put it in the dishwasher??), opened the fridge about 14 times thinking something yummy, pre-made and magical would just appear…  Grabbed the box of girl scout cookies no less than 5 times but somehow convinced myself to put them back, making a better alternative decision with a Choc/PB protein smoothie to curb my craving.

Next up in my wonderful day was the dentist.  At least I showered.  With my husband's new 'willfully unemployed' status, we are losing our dental insurance at the end of the month.  I had two old cavities that needed fixed and also one big honking old silver thing that needs to have a bit more extensive work done.  None of which needed to be done right now, but the $ saved makes it worth getting it done.  So, nothing more fun to do than sit and have your face turned numb, and teeth drilled into while the new to me dental assistant wants to talk about my life story, then proceeds to tell me that I remind her of Jody Foster.  All things that are seemingly harmless but make me want to throw softball at her head for NO LOGICAL reason.   The dental work ends and as I'm paying for the less than fun service and having to make a bigger decision about this stupid nasty silver tooth.  I realize the decision is logical.  Get the thing fixed, pay $500 vs $1000 without insurance or worse have the tooth crack and need a crown.  But, instead of making the appointment for next week to start the process.  I get pissed.  Pissed that I have to spend $500 on my tooth.  Pissed that I have to do it RIGHTNOW.  Pissed that I'm not going to have dental insurance and even more pissed that I'm going to have to drive down from Flagstaff for a day to finish up the job.

Completely rational, right?

Next up was a trip to Target to restock my laundry supplies so I could actually finish what I started on Sunday.  After I checked out I tried to ask the checker if I could leave my bags on the counter for a minute so I could use the restroom.  As I tried to speak, I realized how numb my mouth still was and instead of actually speaking English, I sounded like a sedated 2 year old speaking with drool falling down my face.

Awesome.  My life is Awesome.

Safeway was my last stop for a few juicing supplies (one more attempt to make myself feel human).  As I was was in my own world in the self checkout line doing JUSTFINE, the helper person decided she needs to come stand over my shoulder and watch my every move trying to reach in and push buttons for me and tell me what I'm doing wrong and blah blah.  I nearly bitchslapped her and walked away sans beets and kale.

my god I have got to get myself home in a safe place where no one has to see or talk to me in this state

Once home, safe and sound, I finished up work, obsessed over some more, got pissed that I'm going to freeze my ass off, fought off the urge (ok, somewhat fought it off) to eat all things chocolate in my house damn you Costco and your dark chocolate covered pomegranates,  made another serving of above mentioned crazy witchcraft tea and settled in for several mindsucking hours of  crappy reality tv #loveochousewives!

After bitching out loud to myself about my still numb face and wanting to eat, I made the very sensible decision to offset my chocolate intake with one of my everything I have in the fridge salads.  Today's ingredients included;  mixed greens, cucumbers, radish, snap peas, tomato, artichoke hearts, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, topped with avocado, cottage cheese and balsamic vinegar.

As usual, I felt worlds better after a healthy meal.  Rewarded myself with some more unnecessary chocolate, watched more  mindless TV and finally put an end to my miserable day/attitude and went to bed.

So, back to my point about what a difference a day can make.  I woke up, was woken up by little miss impatient Juliette having a party in the living room throwing her bones around the floor **CLANK** at about 5:45 am.  My sleep in/taper day and that crazy red dog wants to be fed party.  She continues her efforts to get me out of bed, by jumping up and down and running across my legs.

And you know what, I realized I didn't mind.  HALLELUJAH!  I'm BACK!!!!  I got out of bed, poured myself some veggie/beet juice, made my PB toast and spark and started picking up the KristaNado of a house I left myself yesterday.

By 8 am, I had done 2 loads of laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, made some more magic witchcraft tea, walked the dogs and made the bed.  Yes, things are back to normal and I'm hopeful I didn't offend anyone yesterday ;)

Oh and I haven't even reached for any chocolate.  Yet.

honey, it's safe to see me again :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012


As most of you know I decided to be part of a charity, Team Newton/Athletes for a Cure, for Ironman Canada.  I've received an overwhelming amount of support from my amazing friends and family, and last night I had a little cocktail party to thank everyone for the donations.  The party was a blast, and Shane played a great bartender!

 I decided to do a couple of fun raffles and had some super great donations made for gifts -  A massage by Abby,  A hair cut/color/style service by my sweet sister and hair dresser Shayna, a hair blowout/style at Park Avenue Dry Dar (this is a company that Shane is helping mentor) and last but not least, my winnings from the Rocky Point Tri!

I also decided to throw another twist into the mix.  I decided to play "guess Krista's Canada finish time."  Most people tried to ask me my goal (HA, as if I would tell), while others asked about all my past race times..  I gave them that info, but that was about it (well, ok - some people maybe got a little extra info after I had a couple of drinks, but I think the guesses were already on the sheet).  Let's just say that I have some pretty BIG fans out there.  I'm humbled at the confidence some of these people have in me, but also… I had no idea how much it would FIRE ME UP.  While I don't feel like I have anything to prove, I would love nothing more than to make my friends proud!

The prize?  Closest predicted time to my actual finish time gets a special present brought home from Canada.

Talk about motivation????