Thursday, August 31, 2006

Taper at Work

So here we are - 10 days out from Ironman!! And I think my taper is feeling the way it should. I start my workouts feeling leaden, but by halfway I'm starting to wake up. Result? Negative splits all week. Absolutely lovely.

My running continues to feel the very best, which is nice because of my knee worries. Even when I signed up on September 12th, 2005, I remember saying to people that I'd do this thing even if I had to walk the (whole) marathon. I continue to have pain-free knees and the running. feels. great. If I go into my marathon feeling the euphoria of these workout runs... well, I just can't be held responsible for the speed.

School is going well; I have a new job this year as a specialist (half-time) and teacher (other half) and that is going to be interesting. I have three different versions (3 different bosses) of what I should be spending my time on. All 3 hold their own promise. My old worries of what to do post-IM are a thing of the past. I'm actually becoming enticed by the new opportunities this position will afford me. I have a lot of passions!

But, fear not. I know that I will always be an athlete. How could I not be?? Running = breathing. So tri goals post-IM:
  • Get fast again. I'm going to do shorter races that won't challenge my knees. (I won't allow ibuprofen to be a food group after September 10th.)
  • Win first female in a small-town 1/2 marathon that I won 3 years ago.
  • Place in the top three women in an Olympic distance tri that I've been doing for 8 years.
  • Have fun on the track again. I actually (masochistically?) enjoy interval workouts. My favorites: Mile repeats with 800s to recover in between.
Yes, I can picture my future - and it's looking good.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More Please

I can't get enough Ironman. I've read everyone's blogs and it feels so good to be a part of this family who does triathlon. I smile as I read about the goals others have set for themselves, the tris they've done, the ones they're still dreaming of doing. And then I savor this sensation. I love being in this spot. I'm trained, a fine-tuned swim/bike/run machine. And I have what it takes mentally. If September 10th comes hot and muggy, I'll have the fortitude to slow down and keep myself hydrated. If I flat or start chafing, I can handle that too. I have what it takes to do this.

School started today and people asked lots of questions about IM. I felt like some exotic bird on exhibit, but proudly so (cue strut and preen)... they were very supportive. My family too this last weekend... my mom thinks I'm nuts, but doesn't she see that she's the one who's inspired me? I told her that she still outworks me. Then we talked about my sisters - all take-charge kind of girls we are. Hmmm, Mom, wonder where we get that?

And they'll all be there for me that day. That's scary. The expectations of others often scare me more than my expectations for myself. Or living up to what I imagine their expectations are. OK, enough already. I started this post all cool and calm and now I'm getting all worked up. Ugh, writing is supposed to have the opposite effect!

Maybe I better go back to reading others' blogs...

But the numbers first:
Monday = 90 minute bike, 30 min. swim
Tuesday = Off
Wednesday = 90 min. bike
Thursday = 40 min. run
Friday = Off
Saturday = 180 min. bike, 45 min. swim
Sunday = 90 min. run

8-9 hours of sleep every night. Period.

Ah... back to something calming...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Credit Card Refuses to Taper

OK, so we're in taper here, and today was a day off, so why is my credit card all sweated up?
  • Did I really need to try yet another method of stashing my Chocolate Outrage GU on my bike? (Air Box $12.95, 24 Choco Gu $25.20)
  • And who but me is still entertaining thoughts of carrying their own hydration on the run? (Ultimate Direction Fast Draw $13.95)
  • Do I really think I'll ever want to get on my bike again after September 10th - much less ride in cold weather? (Louis Garneau shoe covers $44.95)
  • And the goggles, OK, I'll use the goggles. So at least I can rationalize $5.95 of this order. Yeah, that's not too bad. I did all right...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rain II

Alright, already! I'm prepared should it rain on September 10th. Today I got completely drenched on my run. By 30 minutes into it, I was wringing out my pigtails. I also realized that I am not done learning. Does anyone else have that voice inside their head that says, "Ah, you're at the taper. Your race is already written. Kick back. You could probably even forget everything you've learned and be juuust fine. Shoot, you'd be fine even if you didn't do another workout until that day." HA! Don't listen to it!

So what did I learn today? I learned that I STILL could wreck my marathon. I did an out & back course for my two hour run, but took only 20 oz. of fluid. I heard the logical, sensible me saying, "Turn around at 1/2 hour and refill your bottle, then repeat that route for the second hour" while the illogical me prompted, "Keep going. You'll be fine. And the scenery is so much prettier when you only run over it twice instead of four times. Plus, think of all the raindrops splashing into your mouth. You're plenty hydrated."

So Peacemaker Me compromised; I turned around at 50 minutes - and was rationing fluids with 30 minutes left to go. Will I ever let this happen again? Nah...

Then I have my whole heart rate dilemna. I reworked my race plan today, updating it with all I've learned. On my run then, I was thinking that I should add my target heart rates for each portion of the race, something along the lines of...

Miles 1 - 80: No higher than 135 beats per minute
Miles 80 - 100: Can get up to 140
Miles 100 - 112: Up to 151

Miles 1 - 25.2: No higher than 145
Last mile: Give it everything I have left

So I had this all worked out in my head, when I thought, "Na, I'll just trust myself. I won't get carried away. Why write the numbers down?" With me, writing = sticking to it. So some evil part of me doesn't want to stick to those low heart rates... Does anyone else get the impression that I want to sabotage my race?? I learned the "too fast" lesson 3 years ago... Ouch, painfully.

I was training for a marathon with the goal of qualifying for Boston. I needed to run a 3:40; my best time to date had a been 4 hours flat. That spring I stuck to the training plan like glue too, and was in fabulous shape - the best of my running career. I was even first place woman at a couple of smaller races. So the big day came, and I was bawling at the starting line. I went out at the gun and ran a 1:30 half-marathon (lifetime best). I thought, who needs a 3:40 when I could get a 3:00??

Do you see the handwriting on the wall?

I bonked. Hard. At mile 16, I told my husband to go to the finish line or I'd make him take me home. At mile 23, eight-minute miles would have still allowed me to qualify. But I didn't have them. I finished in 3:52 and told Chris to NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES let me EVER sign up for anything like that again.

So here I am... I need to remember the humility I learned that day. I have been my own worst enemy in the past, a traitor to my hard work and training. On September 10th, I vow to smell the roses that come at a slower pace - OK, it won't all be roses even then - but I will stick to those heart rates above. And finish. That is my goal.

End of story.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rain Doesn't Frighten Me

I did my bike ride in the rain today and thought - whooeee... I'm glad I had a chance to do that before the race. At the beginning of summer, I did every workout for a week in the rain, but by now I was a bit rusty.

...As I realized when I was cornering and hit a paint strip. My rear wheel fish-tailed and I shook, then recovered. After that I was a little more cautious (at least at first). It'll change the whole tenor of the race if we get rain on September 10th. Now I can visualize myself proceeding calmly, collectedly, and quickly!

My swim was interesting too. I couldn't get my wetsuit zipped by myself and ended up asking the custodian to help me. (Made his day.) Then I realized that I'd forgotten lubricant, so I had to improvise in order to prevent the "wetsuit kiss." I remembered a swimming drill where my coach had me swim with a tennis ball tucked under my chin. If I could swim like this, that would decrease the rubbing, I figured. Well, when my coach had me do it, the tennis ball popped out every stroke. However, today I must have done better - I can happily report that I have no wetsuit kiss.

Stats for today:
1 1/2 hour bike ride: 30 miles, Av. heartrate 119 - felt strong
30 min swim: Av. heartrate 104 - arms and shoulders felt tired, but OK
Calories burned: 1300
Nutrition: 1 Gu, 1/2 PB&J sandwich, 40 oz. Gatorade

Of note - 2nd day without knee pain!!

Tomorrow's a longee - bike 1, run 2. (hours) The true test for my knee...

Classroom looks great! Whitewash your brain of primary colors and picture instead...
- Muted, cool colors with some of our unused wallpaper used to brighten up the darker walls
- Strings of lights on the walls, lamps located in little nooks throughout the room
- A couch & recliner; I'm trying for a homey, curl-up-with-a-book feel

What tween would not want to walk into this room and spend 8 hours of quality learning time??

I'm starting to be OK with school starting. At first I wasn't ready to blunt my IM passion/share my time & energy with anything else, but maybe there's enough of me to go around - especially with taper. (And hey - who'm I trying to kid, school's gonna start with or without my approval!)

That's it for now. Happy training!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mutual Embrace

I go for a run
In the morning sun.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

End in Sight

Here goes... first post... and so near the end of my Ironman training. September 10th is the big day and I'm so excited and scared and... confident. I printed off my little training plan from BeginnerTriathlete and stuck to it like glue. Now I feel good. I feel like I'm ready for anything. Just as long as they let me race...

I just found out - at least I'm almost sure I found out - that athletes need to register and do packet pick-up on Friday. I thought it was Saturday. I wouldn't have known but was surfing and saw on BeginnerTriathlete that all IMs require a 2-day prior check-in. I sent a question to the IM Wisconsin contact email and got a nasty reply stating that I wouldn't be allowed to race unless I picked up my packet and registered from 9:00-11:00 AM. Hmm... guess I'm still not sure on the DAY that I need to show up. Am I missing communications from the organizers? I got a volunteer email, but that's it. And the schedule on the website says nothing about packet pick-up. Anyone out there in the know?

Also, what next? What are you doing after this? Training for Ironman has been such an all-consuming project. How do you top it? I was truly a newbie on my bike and nutrition. I've learned so much! My longest distance prior to signing up was Olympic, although I was first a runner, so I've done marathons. Then I did a half-IM this spring just to try out nutrition and pacing. I looked at my list from the beginning of the summer and "purchase aerobars and front hydration system" were where I was at! My wetsuit was new to me. I have became (way too) intimate with Clif, Gatorade and Gu. For the first time in my life, I've chafed. I just REALLY found out about (read: bought) CO2 cartridges & pumps last week. I have a race belt now, quick laces (not yet laced into my shoes), a heart rate monitor, a tri suit and Endurolytes. And I know how to use all of it. What a learning curve.

But I'm also amazed at the training distances. This is actually the first triathlon I've followed a training plan for and it has challenged me. Now with the longest distances done, I grow nostalgic, but I remember grumbling though those 5 & 6 hour bike rides thinking - now why am I doing this again?? Turning around yet again to pick up the mesh water bottle plug as it popped out. (Now I have that down too - ask if you want to know how to rig yours up so a) your mesh doesn't pop out and, b) you can purchase just the Profile Design bottle and not the mounting bracket.)

My long runs were mostly OK - I was happy just to be doing them because my knees very nearly forbade it. Even now I'm taking plenty of ibuprofen to get me through to Ironman. Plus, running has always just felt good to me. At my half, I remember popping off of my bike and thinking, "OK, now I'm where I should be. I was born to do this."

But, ugh, the long swims... anything over an hour and I should make sure I do it with my masters swim class! I remember a 2-hour session out on open water that I thought would never end. How come I'm such a clock-watcher when I swim but can run without time ever occurring to me? I say that on the heels of a very satisfactory 1-hour swim today. I tried my wetsuit for the first time in months and absolutely loved the feel of it. It took me 6 1/2 minutes to swim a distance that I swam yesterday (wetsuitless) in 8 minutes, so that helped too - knowing that I was going faster. Get a wetsuit! Just for the joy of it.

Hmmm... that about does it for my first post. Happy training!