you know you’re training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene when…

More than a few things that have occurred to me during training that have made me chuckle over the past few months so I thought I’d share a few I’ve written down.

  • In your car’s cup holders, you have a water bottle (recently emptied or recently filled) and energy gels – GUs and Hammer Gels…and a spare granola bar or Clif bar in your glove compartment. Just in case.
  • And also, you have these things in your purse. And your gym bag.
  • Your tri team says “Hey everyone, its 47 degrees in the lake… let’s go swimming!” (WHAT?! No thank you!)
  • It is 32 degrees outside and snowing sideways. Your friends are cozied up in bed or reading a book and drinking coffee and you are halfway through your 60 mile bike ride.
  • Same as above, only 25 mph winds, or driving rain….
  • The 1st thing your friends ask you when they see you is “How is the training going?” Because a) they are excited for you; b) they never see you and c) they don’t know what else it is you do these days. And frankly, you don’t either.
  • You come home to packages on your doorstep and the contents? Ironman Perform drink mix, Perpeteum drink mix, 60 energy gels, and new running shorts.
  • You’re hungry. All of the time.
  • You know for a fact that if you swim early in the day and run or bike after work, you will sweat chlorine. Profusely.
  • Your laundry piles up three times as fast as you used to and you only have time to do it about a third as often as you used to. You do the math.
  • You’re praying that the race day water is at least 62 degrees. (Normal people recognize that swimming 2.4 miles in water this temperature is still too freakin’ cold.)
  • You can eat, drink and blow your nose on the run and the bike (and you have to remind yourself not to do the latter when you’re relegated to the indoors).
  • It’s super annoying when people talk to you like a sprint triathlon is the same as an Ironman.
  • Spring training doesn’t mean baseball, hot dogs and sunshine. It means windbreakers, rain jackets, and beanies and gloves on the bike. And dark ominous clouds and threatening raindrops on the horizon.

Eight weeks to go! How do you know you’re training? 🙂

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the weather gods must hate me…

Springtime in the Pacific Northwest is an awful and horribly unpredictable time to be trying to train for an Ironman.

Each weekend, as training progresses, there is a longer and longer ride staring up at me from that piece of paper on the counter. And each weekend, there is a terrible weather forecast staring at me from the computer screen. Bad on Friday, bad on Saturday and worse on Sunday. Substantial chance of rain, slight to middling chance of snow, windy as all get-out, a very good chance of you getting wet on the bike ride and 100% chance of freezing your bum off on your bike.

There are some who say that training in poor weather makes us stronger. And to an extent, I would agree.

But there are times when I cannot take any more. These are those times.

Each weekend that I have a horrible, awful, no good, very bad ride, I think it can’t get any worse. Two weekends ago, I had a 4 hour ride to squeeze in and the option between a bad weather forecast on Satruday and an even colder, wetter, nastier forecast for Sunday. So I took my chances with Saturday and found myself riding for hours in blowing gusting 25 mph winds  with snow, rain and hail to boot. My feet were frozen after 50 minutes. After 2 hours, I wondered at what point I should be concerned. At 2 1/2 hours, I stopped in a outhouse for shelter to warm up my feet. At 3 hours and fifteen minutes I had to stop in another outhouse to re-warm up my purplish, reddish feet. At 4 hours and fifteen minutes, I was relieved to see the “finish line” but I couldn’t show it because my face was frozen in a perma-scowl due to the blowing rain and snow (and the tears and snot running down my face probably didn’t help).

Last weekend, we had sun. But the wind was possible worse than the week before – strong and constant. At one point, I realized that I should’ve easily been cruising down the hill, but instead I was cranking away as hard as I could to go TWELVE MILES PER HOUR. DOWNHILL. That’s how windy it was. Not cool. Not cool.

Mentally, these rides are taxing too! I’m worried I have a limited amount of mental toughness and that I’m going to use it all up on getting through these dumb ol’ training rides…

I had high hopes for this weekend, but once again we have projected sunshine and nice weather until Friday, with WIND projected again for this Saturday and Sunday.

I’m not sure what I did to offend the weather gods, but I sure hope race day brings nicer weather. Because right now, more than anything, I just want to ride in calm, pleasant weather. Especially on race day. I need to find a sacrificial lamb or groundhog or something to appease them before then… anyone got the inside track on what the weather gods prefer? Squirrel? Deer? Gold? Anything?

boston…

Ask anyone why they run and you’ll get a lot of different answers. To relieve stress and maintain their sanity, lose weight, achieve new goals, have new experiences. But for many of us, one of the benefits of running is an unanticipated one – the camaraderie and community of runners you quickly find yourself in.

Thus, today I find myself absolutely sick to my stomach with a lump in my throat as I watch in absolute horror what is unfolding at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two virtually simultaneous explosions. A third device nearby. At the finish line of the marathon? Yes, a marathon. All I can think is “Please say everyone is ok, please say this was unintentional. Please. Please say everyone is ok, please say this was unintentional. Please.”

And yet, so far at least 2 3 are dead and 9 17 of the 23 (and counting) more than 140 who are injured are in critical condition.

I didn’t know anyone who was running today. I didn’t need to. What I know is that they are runners. Just like you and me.

I can’t imagine – at one moment, joyful. Gleeful. Triumphant and victorious. Relieved to be crossing the finish line. And at the next?  Terrified, confused, panicked.

On so many levels, I simply cannot fathom…

Running is a journey. There are obstacles, challenges, bumps in the road. But training for a marathon is not supposed to end this way. No one should ever have to go through something like this. Ever. Anywhere. And yet I know this kind of thing happens around the world, nearly every day. It is a sad, sick world we live in.

There are no words.

My thoughts are with those in Boston and my heart goes out to everyone involved – the runners, first responders, the spectators, friends and family of the runners, the race organizers, the race volunteers and medical personnel.

training with a pack of dudes…

Over the weekend we found ourselves at a little tri-clinic with about a dozen to fifteen others getting pep-talked, drilled and advised by pros.

(Now before you read any further, the events described here did really happen and my thoughts on the whole thing, while accurately reflected here are largely intended to be somewhat humorous and tongue-in-cheek description of the day…)

Cliche as it is, most of the guys, being triathletes and, well, boys, spent much of their day trying to feel each other out, impress (someone? each other?) and out-do each other to find their place in the sausage-y totem pole. Who’s faster? Who can run further? Who’s done the most races? Who’s got the sleekest, most tricked-out tri bike? Who’s going to cry “uncle” during the workouts first and perhaps most importantly, who’s going to WIN?

Naturally, part of the day included swim drills so we divided up into 2 lanes according to speed / ability and did sculling drills, catch-up drills, drills to help with rotation and position, drafting drills and mass starts. It was all fine and good until the mass starts… we had to jockey for position and then swim out about 200 or so. In 1 lane. In a 25 yard pool. There were 6 or 7 of us in each lane. Seems like a good idea, right?

Being the smallest in the lane and also the only female in the fast lane, I let the hot headed dudes sort themselves out, not wanting to be on the wrong end of a testosterone fueled elbow or fist. Generally in these kinds of situations, including triathlon starts, that is how I roll. I’m usually faster than the average person and underestimated as well. Let others throw elbows in the pack, I’ll draft up the chain and pass later. No biggie. Better that than needing stitches.

But at the clinic, holding back meant I sacrificed my position further up in the line  for the entire drill. With just 25 yards to work with and 6+ people to the lane, there was almost always other people coming straight at you at high speeds and with not enough room to go 3-wide in the lane, you were basically were stuck in line until at least halfway down the lane when the oncoming traffic cleared. Then you had 10 yards or so to make a break for it, pass the other person and get back onto the right side of the lane before you got plowed over by oncoming traffic.

Sure enough, after just 25 yards I found myself behind a dude whose weiner, ahem – I mean ego, wouldn’t get out of my way. Every time I made a break for it, I’d pass him and hit the wall first – me on the left and him on a right. I’d push off strong with every intention of escaping quickly and unscathed and most importantly in front of him so I could swim at my own pace and not his snail pace. But being a dude, he couldn’t take getting beat by a girl so he’d push off to the right and crash into me, run me over and I’d find myself getting ramrodded into the laneline and stuck behind him again. (As obnoxious as this was, I can only assume he identified this as his last-ditch option to prevent a girl from passing him as he didn’t appear to be able to outswim me…) And then, just a few yards into the lane, I’m smacking the bottom of his feet, his ankle, even the back of his calf with every stroke, having to pull back and breaststroke even (the slowest of all swimming), waiting for my opening to make a break for it again. It got old real fast. But I did get some good drafting practice in, so at least there’s that.

Look, I’m as competitive as anyone. But seriously dudes? We all know you’re all big and tough. Strong and fast. The best and the baddest, right? The supercoolest. We know. Your egos are fragile and getting passed by a girl is only the worse thing that can happen. But please move out of my way. You’re embarrassing yourself and I’m embarrassed for you. Isn’t it worse to have a girl have to slow down and clearly cut back to 50% effort than to just let me go by? I’m promise I’ll be discreet – no one will even see it…

grumpy hip flexors and reality checks…

I realize this training go-round that I’ve not really delved much into my actual training plan. Many people go about training differently. Having had previous success with using a training program for my previous two 70.3s, I decided to stick with a 24-week long Ironman plan from one of Matt Fitzgerald’s books. In addition, I have a lot of resources and individuals with whom I’ve consulted as to what kind of training plan they used and how they would recommend we go about doing this. In general the plan calls for 9 workouts a week – 3 swimming, 3 biking and 3 running – with brick workouts a couple times a month. The first 70.3 I did, I got pretty darn close to hitting every workout . Last year, I was a lot more realistic about whether that was entirely necessary considering my goal was not to win the whole race, just to finish.

This year, I figured that I’d be pretty happy with 6-8 quality workouts and on weeks where time was especially tight, I’m making sure to hit the long runs, rides and swims, the interval training, the hill workouts, etc. and dropping the foundation workouts if necessary (what could arguably be considered “junk” miles).

I’ve been trucking right along, (scheduled to clock in about 4 hours of running, 6 hours of biking and 3 hours of swimming alone in Week 13) but what’s been clearly missing in all 3 years is any dedicated time for strength training and any time for stretching. They are the “assumed workouts” – the ones we all know we should do but are so often guilty of skipping because we’ll do them later or because they must not be that important if they’re not written into the plan…

This year has been no different . All of the biking and running I’m doing, added to the fact that I commute a little over an hour each day to and from a job where I sit at a desk all day at work and no stretching during the day or after workouts, meant that some of my muscles were getting pretty grumpy with me.

Two weeks ago I was doing a mental check-in and it was clear I needed to start doing something to provide some relief to my tight muscles, especially my hip flexors, which had been pretty vocal the past 2 or 3 weeks. I was starting to feel creaky and downright OLD. It became crystal clear that if I didn’t do something to head this off at the pass, there was a lot of potential for my hips to become a much bigger problem in training for Ironman. If I didn’t do something it seemed, my tightly wound hip flexors might just snap. Ick. Sounds messy. And dare I say, an untimely inconvenience.

As a result, Week 11’s resolution was to spend more time stretching and strength training. The guys at Mobility WOD have some good stuff for all sorts of fixes and I found this to be a painful (yet helpful)  addition to my days:

But I also know that I’m flat out awful at committing to stretching for more than a few days in a row, which is a big part of the reason why I’m in this position in the first place. So I also added in one evening a week for yoga – 90 minutes dedicated specifically to stretching and  focusing on erasing the tight spots with some added core and balance elements as a bonus. And of course, mentally it’s refreshing to focus on one thing and one thing only – not falling over.

After three weeks, I think I feel some improvements. Whether it’s the yoga or the mobility wods, I’m no longer in fear of my muscles snapping. Now on to Week 14 and figuring out how to NOT get that same crick in my neck every time I’m on the bike…