Friday, March 14, 2014


Just over 3 years ago when I first started working with Michelle, I remember getting my first week of training put into TP.  I was at my friend Amanda's house watching the Super Bowl and got an email saying that the first week was up.  I logged in, my eyes wide open seeing a full week of swim, bike, run and then saw the tally on the side of 15+ hours.  There was so much detail! Specific HR goals, and the explanations in the swim workouts were so cool.  OMG, it was like I had died and gone to heaven.  I love DATA!  I love seeing max and average and pace and miles and all that stuff.  Oh, back then I even got some rest days ;)

I loved entering my notes and my data in, but my favorite part was the response and feedback I would get.  With each workout, there would be a response.  It was like being graded (but not really) and encouraged and just fueled my fire to do better!  8 weeks later I was asked to right a "race plan" for my first big race of the season, Oceanside 70.3.  I wrote a few things and sent it away and then got a reply with SO MUCH RED!  I guess I didn't really do the exercise as requested.  She wanted DETAILS.  Like from the time I was going to wake up, to what I was eating to making time to go to the bathroom.  It was meant to be like a bible that I would go over and over until it was embedded in my mind and could be executed to perfection (within my control) on race day.  

One thing that still stands out in my mind was the calorie amount she wanted me to consume on the bike.  Previously I've been a 100-150/hr eating on the bike.  I've also been a 9-11min mile runner off the bike.   She wrote a note basically telling me if I did not nail my nutrition of at least 750 calories on the bike, I would NOT hit my goal run split (1:50).  I'd only done 2 other races at this distance and they were both 6+hours, but this was a big PR for me.  5:25 I think, and I was able to run a few people in my AG down, never feeling bonky (although full), and PR'ing my run at by 10 minutes.  

As the year's have gone on the communication has grown.  My training has been more consistent and strong and the results have shown.  Michelle knows what to tell me to get me to WORK, and what to tell me to make me hold back (we actually have had some of these conversations just this week!).  It's a constant stream of communication and I think we both have grown as athletes and coach(es).

Part of the decision to start coaching is that I love the knowledge sharing.  I love when people ask me questions.  I can go on and on and on about this and that, and experiences.  Mistakes I've made, things I've figured out.   I love giving new ideas about training and also trying to show what can work! (It's not all go go go fast fast fast all the time!!).  When I met one of my athletes in person for the first time, 2 hours later I had to end our meeting to hop on a conference call and I was so bummed.  I could have talked all day long (not sure if that's a good thing)!  I believe in the training that Michelle has taught me, and I love that I am able to pass all of this knowledge and experience on to others.

I've had a couple of really great replies to workouts from my own athletes this week that have just made me smile.  One from one of my new to the sport athletes talking about how much she LOVED using swim paddles, how she could really understand what I was saying in the notes about how to feel the water, etc.  The other from my friend and athlete who did her first set of short hill repeats.  Her comments were something about wanting to cry, puke and then have beer.  THAT was awesome!!

I can't wait to bring on a few more athletes to help, because this journey is just making me so satisfied!  I used to be crazy excited and refresh my TP account all the time waiting to see my own schedule, now I find myself constantly staring at my email waiting for notifications when athletes upload their data and send notes.  

It's just awesome!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Phoenix Half Marathon

After taking a solid 4 weeks of pretty much no training post Ironman, I was feeling the urge to get back at it.  My body felt recovered, but also chubby, slow and uncomfortable from the time off.  I knew we were spending a good 10 days in Mexico eating chips and salsa and drinking cervesa so putting in some run miles was going to be the only way to help me feel half normal.  With that I needed wanted a reason to put in those miles, so I signed up for the Phoenix half marathon.

Of course it's not a fun race when you don't wrangle several friends to sign up with you.  A couple notes on Facebook and we had a pretty good group to run!  I sent Michelle a note to let her know that I signed up, but for fun, not with a goal to have a fast PR race.  I knew what it took to get there, and that wasn't my early season goal.  I had an Ironman to train for and a lot of work to do on the bike to get me ready for the hilly course.

So my January build started with lots of swimming, lots of biking (not long miles, just more days), and each week when I expected to see more tempo or speed running, it just never showed up.  If working with Michelle for 3 years has taught me anything (ok, a lot!) its that I 100% trust her.   I don't question her (ok, sometimes I question her sanity) and I don't question what I see on my schedule each week.
Lots of swimming and biking compared to last year.  A lot less running.

Finally about 2 weeks out from the race, after a weekend 18 mile aerobic run (I keep forgetting I have a marathon in a few weeks!) I sent a note saying something like... "I know I'm not planning a fast half marathon next week, but I would like to remember what it's like to run fast, or at least have an idea of what I can expect to do next Saturday."

So, with that 2 track workouts popped up on my schedule.  One was last week with a 24x200.  I didn't even know what to do with that one.  Thankfully, Kelly was in town and joined me for this.  We were given some pacing to do and I have to say I epically failed at it.  Give me 800s, 1200s, 1 mile, 2 mile, heck I can even pace a 20 mile run to perfection, but 200s?  Half a lap?  We started out with the first 6 faster than we were supposed to descend down to.  I just had no idea what my garmin should be reading, and couldn't figure out the math.  We managed to hold the pace and pick it up a bit on the last 6 so I suppose it was a success?  We ended the week with a 4hour hilly ride and the next day a 1:45 run where we went super easy the first hour then goal was to build each 15mins.  I wanted to see what race pace(ish) would feel like, but all I could muster at the end of that run were ~7:50s.  It felt harder than it should have, so with that I knew a super fast half just wasn't going to happen.

I had one more opportunity to test out the legs on Wednesday before the race with a trackworkout of 2x2miles around race pace.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but was happy about being able to hold ~7:30's without it feeling too hard.  Now I had a descent gauge and figured I could pull off about a 1:40.  Anything under would be super, anything over, well that would be ok too.

Prep for a race that is 100% for fun is so easy and stress free!  Packet pickup took all of about 5 minutes, and honestly the only part we had to really think about were race morning logistics.  My two little BSC athletes running the half are not known for their punctuality, and when I mentioned we had to leave our houses at like 4:25 in order to catch the last bus at 5am they were about ready to bail on the whole thing.

Somehow we figured out a way to catch a ride to the start.  I studied the race map and figured it would be pretty easy to get dropped off close.  The thought of standing out in the rain for 90 minutes before a race did not sound fun.  Our plan worked out perfectly.  We were dropped off about 250 yards from the start line and stayed in the warm car until about 15 minutes before.  Just enough time to jog a bit and get in line.

My goal was to just stay close to the 1:40 pacer and see what happened.  I lined up with the girls in the 1:50 group so I could just ease my way up. It started pouring rain just before the start so the roads were wet, but the temperature was perfect.  I couple of miles in the rain stopped and I was just  slowly picking up the pace.  I got a random side stitch at mile 3 so I slowed from my 7:35 pace down to a 7:45-8.  The next several miles just clicked away right around my 7:35-7:40 planned pace, but I still wasn't catching the 7:40 pacer.  I didn't have the confidence to pick it up so I just did my own thing.  Everything was going great and I felt like I was putting forth a solid, but not too hard effort.  Something I could hold.  Then miles 8-12 happened and we ran into the 10k walk/runners.  We had one side of the road, but it was so crowded.  I was litteraly zig zagging back and forth, up the side walk, back down, outside the cone, back in.  It was so much wasted energy and it cost me about :15/per mile for a while, but there was no way around it.  It was super frustrating and I found myself getting a bad attitude, then quickly got my head back on, remembering this was not an important "race," and to just keep going.  In the last mile I was just passing people left and right and realized I had quite a bit left in the tank so I picked it up.  My last mile + were my fastest and it only took me about 2 minutes to gather myself, and catch my breath before jogging back out for the girls.

This race was such a great experience and learning opportunity.  Honestly, one of the things that I love most about this sport is always finding something new to improve on, to learn from.  While this wasn't a PR race by any means, it was a good measure of where my fitness is, and reminder that the hard work I'm putting in right now is working, and helping me get ready for my first big A race in CDA.  You don't have to spend miles and miles on the track killing yourself to have a solid race.  Putting in the time and consistent training makes you a strong, durable and FIT endurance athlete.  I'll take finishing a half marathon with energy to spare and ready to get back out there with little down time ANY day!

My official finish time was 1:40:40, about 6 minutes slower than my PR for a half, but a great day indeed.  Nothing beats putting a medal on this guy.  My little retired runner.  He's got more miles in his 4 legs than most and wears each medal he gets proudly.