sweating the small stuff…

Someone once said, don’t sweat the small stuff. That someone obviously never did Ironman.

There are all of these little things (that all add up and can easily make the difference between making it and not making it). When you think about it, so much has to go RIGHT for you to make it from Day 1 of training, 6 months of training. And there’s a ton of things that need to go RIGHT for you to cross the finish line on race day. These little things compound, especially (seemingly) after about 65 miles on the bike. And all these small things are the things we need to sweat right now.

Clothing issues: to tri suit  for the day or change at each transition? Seams on your running shorts or bike chamois can cause major issues over 140 miles. Bike shoes slightly too small?

Gear issues: Aero bars too close or too far away? How’s the bike seat – do you have a road seat that doesn’t work once you need to spend hours in the aero position? Running shoes – too old or too new? Both can cause issues. Do you know where you chafe?

Temperature issues: How cold is the water going to be on race day? Are you acclimated to it? Have you planned for it (aka – booties, just in case? Ear plugs to keep the ice cold water out of your brain? Are you used to the neoprene cap that makes you feel like a little munchkin is hanging onto your throat for dear life the entire swim?)?

Then there’s the food issues: leading up to race day and of course during the race. Nervous stomach? How am I going to eat breakfast that morning with my stomach in knots? What am I going to eat to keep my energy up and not bonk but also not have gastrointestinal issues that put a premature end to the day? Can I possibly manage to choke down one energy gel every 40 minutes for 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 hours (for me, I’ve come to realize the answer is no)?

Hydration issues during the event: Have you been training with what they will provide on the course? Does your stomach tolerate it or will you use your own? If you’re using your own, how are you going to carry and restock?

Special needs bags – what’s going in them? You don’t get them back and they may get lost in the shuffle so it needs to be good stuff, but good stuff you may have to go without…

Race week strategy. Race day strategy. Survival strategy. All the stuff of many many little things.

As the workouts get longer, the small things become a bigger deal. A seventy mile bike ride last weekend left my lower back KILLING me. I could not have possibly ridden another 40. Something needed to be done. A new bike fit to make the aero position doable for hours upon hours.

This weekend’s 80 miler was a test run for the new fit – the back is much better. But now the saddle is no bueno. Great. Saddle research, saddle shopping.

It was also a test run for different food – non-energy gel food – sweet potatoes, tortilla with honey and almond butter, fig newtons. Mostly good – no Gu-gut bomb, and while I could’ve done a better job toward the end, no major bonk.

But with just 6 weeks to go, there’s a very small (and quickly shrinking) window of time in which to fiddle with things. So there is also a sense of frantic desperation… we are frantically fiddling, researching, and fine tuning with hopes that things will click in the next few weeks and we’ll be golden by race day!  Here we go… sweating the small stuff 24/7 till we’ve got it all figured out!

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music to motivate…

Week 10. I’ll admit I’ve been dragging more than a little bit this week. Feeling a little rough around the edges. Feeling a little less than motivated. I have literally been forcing myself to just. go. workout. Must. go. workout. Makes for a long week.

This morning, I had a running date with some girlfriends who are training for their 1st half marathon this fall. Every Saturday we meet for a handful of miles and once upon a time, we used to meet at 9 a.m. It keeps moving up – earlier and earlier. This week was the first week of 7:30 a.m. and feeling unmotivated and drained as I have felt this week, I was tempted to bail. But the great thing about meeting up with people is that it really does keep you accountable. So I drug myself out of bed. It took every bit of my willpower to shove the covers aside and put my feet on the ground.

I gave myself just enough time to get dressed and run out the door. In the car on the way, I put a good trusty stand-by song on – it always picks me up and gets me ready to roll.


I’m hoping with some sleep this weekend, next week will be a little better. But just in case, what gets you moving when you are short in the motivation department?

adventures in winter running…

The reality is, if you live in the Inland Northwest (or anywhere that has 4 seasons) AND you sign up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene, you are going to be doing some cold weather training. For some folks this means treadmill time. But for me it means bundling up and running outside. I’m like the postal worker of Ironman training when it comes to winter weather – Neither snow nor rain will keep me indoors if I can help it (so long as I can take a nice warm shower when it’s all over!).  As one of our local running gurus always quips, there is no such thing as weather that’s too cold, just people who are too soft!

Winter trail

As you can imagine, this means running in snow. On icy roads. In the dark. And the cold. You would be correct in all of these. The other night was no exception and all of the above was true. Fresh snow. On top of old snow which had melted into ice. And it was dark but not the coldest run of the year. Naturally, running in the winter can be hazardous so hubby and I and the rest of the members of the local wintertime running group (organized by the local Fleet Feet) were cruising along much slower than normal due to the ice below the snow. Outdoor wintertime runs are no time for speedwork, you know. And sure enough, just 10 minutes out from the “finish line”, my spidey-senses detected extra super-duper iciness, so I started to slow to a walk. Yet practically the instant I decided to walk I found myself a-slip slidin’ away, landing squarely on my tush (with some impact absorbed by my wrist since I have somehow still not taught myself in all my years of snowboarding and falling NOT to put my hands down).

Luckily, in this case I merely sustained a bruise on my behind and a ‘tweaked’ wrist. Today we had 3 or 4 inches of fresh snow out and a high of 20 degrees and I went out again at lunchtime for a sanity break. (Ironically, everyone looked at me like I was insane…). The cold air is downright invigorating but there is an intense quiet and utter peacefulness that comes with winter running. This is why we run in the winter.

 

Peace on the trail

If you can bring yourself to brave the cold, here are a couple of articles that have great winter running safety tips, from dressing in layers to making sure you’re visible in the darkness to keeping your feet underneath you (and your butt off the ground). Take it all in and hopefully you can avoid a bruised badonkadonk like me:

http://www.active.com/running/Articles/Winter-Running-Tips
http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/10-tips-running-cold?page=single

Happy running!

 

 

on heat and hydration…

I have such a love-hate relationship with July. And mid to late summer events, for that matter. There’s no doubt that the start of actual summer-like weather makes training and triathlons easier in a lot of ways. It’s a pretty safe bet that from now until October, I will probably not have to worry about planning a training workout around rain or otherwise foul weather (I did say probably…).

Here in the Inland Northwest, we generally have 2-4 weeks of really, truly HOT weather. The number of times we break 100 degrees can usually be counted on one hand. But our hot weather has come early this year – a week ago, we jumped straight from 70 to 95 in a matter of two days and haven’t dipped below the mid 90s since. Not that I should complain. I’ve been more than ready for sunshine and blue skies for MONTHS. But I digress.

Most reasonable people spend these scorching days submerged in water – floating lazily in an inner tube down one of our rivers or on one of the many lakes. Me, I have the distinct (mis?)fortune of being in the midst of training for a summertime 70.3 Those of you doing the same or something similar know that when these hot days come, we must spend the time acclimating ourselves. Because lord knows, come race day, it’ll be 95 degrees out and we’ll have no choice but to deal with it. Better to give our bodies the chance to get used to it.

Saturday was a scorcher and that is an understatement. Seriously. And from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. I was out in it. During the nearly 3 hours I spent on the bike, I was thankful that I had remembered to apply sunscreen on my arms and face. But I still got a mild sunburn on the side of my thighs, adding to my rockin’ bike shorts tan lines. Note to self: remember to apply sunscreen before the race and stash at transition area for “just in case”.

I’m working on fine tuning my on-the-bike nutrition and always have to make a conscious effort to eat, eat, eat when I’m on the bike. Note to self: make sure that whatever you bring to refuel is tolerable when it’s warmed up! Some gels are really pretty gross when they’re warmed to 90 degrees… but some are ok – apple cinnamon flavored Hammer Gels taste like warm apple pie! And espresso flavored GUs also seem pretty normal at 90 degrees… I guess because coffee is often served warm so the temperature matches the flavor. Or something.

Bicycle water bottle

Bicycle water bottle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then of course there’s the issue of hydration. As you all know, the hotter it is, the more you sweat, the more you need to replenish – both fluids and electrolytes. On hot training days, I really have to make sure I’m carrying enough water. Or that I have a plan for refilling often enough. I drink quite a bit cause I’m a big sweater… so I need to have quite a bit of water on hand or a lot of planned water stops. The problem with carrying it all is, of course, making sure you have enough water bottle holders on your bike (or you could carry a Camelbak or some sort of hydration pack) and also that the water will heat up the longer that you’re out. The other day when I was out, I was definitely drinking really warm water, which makes me not really want to drink it. Race day is generally a different story with water stations, but it’s definitely something to think about. Note to self – try this: freeze some water bottles the night before the race. Stash them at transition and pull them out at T1 and T2 (depending on how hot and how long the race is).  And also, find some better insulated water bottles. Pronto.

photo from: guysandgoodhealth.com

Post bike/post run, basically as soon as I stopped moving, sweat just poured off of me. How the heck was I going to cool down? The last late July race I did, I jumped back into the lake following the run and sat until I could get my core temperature back to normal. Fortunately, there was a river alongside the trail I was riding and running on, so immediately after I finished running, off came the shoes, the tunes and the sunglasses and into the river I went. I sat and I floated and I cooled off. No better way in the world to do it. Note to self: pack a cooler with a post workout water bottle! And only work out near cool rivers and lakes!

Just a few things to think about…after this weekend and also after today’s toasty midday run, I’m reminded that hydration issues can definitely derail my race day. So as much as I’d prefer to skip the midday 90+ degree workouts, practicing and adjusting my race day strategies and hydration has to be part of the training plan. For a few more weeks, anyway.Do you have any special tricks for dealing with the summer heat?

shoe dependency…

My shoe situation has still not quite been resolved, though not for a lack of trying. Since shoe #3 (which seemed like it would work), there have been #4, #5, #6 and #7. Different brands, different levels of support, different widths. Each of them has not quite fit the bill; actually all of them made me feel like my feet were on a slope. Like my feet were starting off square on the orthotic and as I ran, sliding off of center towards the outsides of the shoes. Every time. So I have concluded that it must be a problem with the orthotic. What’s that argument – argument ad populum? 50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong! 600 million people can’t be wrong about Facebook! I know it’s a fallacious argument, but not in this case. In this case I believe there must be an exception – half a dozen shoes can’t be wrong! It’s not the shoe(s). It simply can’t be.

So what, then? Well, to make a long story short, first, I’ve scheduled an appointment with a podiatrist who specializes in running. Unfortunately, the appointment is not until the end of the month. And even then, it’ll be a consult initially. Someone I can tell my running story to – an expert on running who also runs himself (this is important). Someone who has an education in feet (this is also important).

Second, I went back to the doc who prescribed and ordered my orthotic and he is going to order a new one for me with some slight adjustments and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that this next one is better. Ugh.

The story of how I ended up in a custom orthotic in the first place? Well, it’s a short one: I was tired of dealing with IT band pain and had tried everything from Superfeet to foam rolling to strength and flexibility exercises. To no avail. Someone suggested fixing the base (feet) and it made sense to me. But with this recent orthotic debacle, I’m wondering if maybe, just maybe, all of those years of IT band issues were caused by running in a neutral shoe with Superfeet inserts when I really should have been in a supportive shoe with Superfeet. Not necessarily a custom orthotic. Now wouldn’t that be silly. Such a small adjustment. Huh.

So my third step was based on this last hunch, the last little “maybe”. I went back to our local running store where this same poor girl has been working with me very patiently to find a shoe that works. I told her to just start from scratch and asked her to take a look at my feet, how I walk, etc., and fit me in a shoe as if I were a brand new customer coming in off the street. Because maybe I don’t need a custom orthotic after all. Off came the shoes, the socks. She measured, observed me walking barefoot, running. And the verdict? She didn’t seem to think I had particularly flat feet. Or that I necessarily needed a wide width shoe. She said I have flexible arches which flatten a bit when I run, causing me to pronate, so she would recommend a shoe with support. Ok. Bring it.

Pair number 8, maybe #9(?) accompanied me home on Monday night after work. Sauconys this time. Supportive ones. Shiny, red, super cushy ones. I was supposed to test them out yesterday, but I procrastinated – because what if it’s bad news? Yesterday I just wasn’t sure I could handle another shoe fail. But I need an answer, so at some point today, I’ll take them out for a spin and see how it goes. I’m hopeful. Or maybe I’m doomed.

I’m very anxious for some kind of resolution… hopefully a permanent one. It’s been real hard to be excited about running when there’s so much going wrong. Nine times out of ten, running is actually fun for me.But with so many issues lately, it’s been a chore. I can feel it. It’s taken the wind out of my sails. I’ve dreaded it. And let’s face it, I need to be running because, you see, I have this little 70.3 looming… in 8 weeks if we’re being specific. And I need to be able to run 13.1 miles by then (and ideally, countless 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 mile training runs to prepare). And if I’m being honest with myself, I can’t really afford to skip too many more of them without paying for it.

Keep your fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted…

on being cinderella…

Alright, so time to talk about running shoes. I never felt like I had to a problem finding running shoes. Before this time. How did we find ourselves here, feet?

The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a girl who was learning to love to run. She ran and ran and ran. Just 5ks. Until one day, a 10k. And a half marathon. And another. And then, she thought she’d tackle a marathon. So she registered. Nashville was on the books.

But it was not to be. Not at this time. For she had some serious and persistent IT band issues that kept her from running loooooong. What a pain. Literally and figuratively. Seriously.

She could muscle through 13.1 miles. The first nine were good. The last four were always pain. (I grimace just thinking of it.) Marathons would have to wait.

Eventually, a physical therapist prescribed Superfeet inserts. Some strengthening exercises. Foam rolling (“therapy”… you may recall my feelings on this. And if not, you can find out here). Ah, relief was ahead, right? Wrong.

Years of supportive shoes and Superfeet seemed to do just enough to keep running tolerable. To keep 13.1 within reach (and within her pain tolerance).

And then one day, someone recommended custom orthotics. Well, what the heck. It made sense. Fix the base and the rest would fall into line. Funny enough, it worked. Three glorious years of pain-free running passed, a few more half marathons (faster and faster half marathons!), a 70.3 and a marathon (!) and things were seeming pretty good for our heroine.

Sigh. What a lovely story.

But wait. All good things must come to an end. Three years of near-constant training. Miles upon miles took their toll. Custom orthotics break down, need replacing. And easy fix, right? Ah. Wrong again.

Fast forward to two months ago. The 1st replacements were much too small and much too narrow for running shoes and had to be reordered. And the 2nd set (nearly a full month later) – went into a new pair of the same running shoes I’ve been running in – weren’t a good fit in the new shoes. I felt like I was running on the outsides of my feet. Like I was double-correcting by being in a custom orthotic AND supportive shoes. Possible… yes. But that was also the dynamic duo that got me through 13.1, 26.2 and 70.3. Huh.

So back went the shoes. Out came another pair. A neutral pair with a smaller drop from the heel to the toe. Good, except my fat feet, sitting on top of the inserts, were rubbing along one of the outlays along the outside of the shoe along the outside of my foot. As a side note, my sweet sweet hubby insists I do not have fat feet, just that I have “a part of my foot right under my pinkie toe that seems to be slightly wider than the average”. So sweet. Fat feet. But I digress.

So back went #2. Out came #3 (less support than #1, more than #2) for a run. But potentially too narrow. And? Well. The jury’s still out.  They’ll be running with me again.

I think deep down, the answer is: they don’t work. But at this point, I just. Want. Shoes. Shoes that work. And I’m totally totally totally willing #3 to work. You know, so my feet can have their happily ever after. I don’t want to be the fat-footed running Cinderella. When, oh when did finding shoes get to be so complicated?

the week of the (semi-) slacker…

Well, it was inevitable. Somewhere along the line, there is always a bump in the road. And I found it this week when I had to leave town for a week-long work conference on the coast.

A trip that required a flight (read: a bike-less trip).

A conference that, as with most, requires me to be in sessions all day (read: to work out each day, I could get up early – ha, SO not gonna happen – or count on it being nice enough to go after work. Do you feel lucky?)

A conference that, as with most, provides an abundance of food that is NOT good for you (read: uh-oh, not only NOT working out, but also NOT eating good. Talk about a recipe for potential disaster!).

And a trip to a coast that tends to be rainy more often than not (read: a weather pattern that presents a challenge to running and staying dry…) and windy more often than not (read: rain, I can do, but wind? ICK.).

A hotel that does NOT have a full sized swimming pool (read: looks like no swim training either…).

Ah. Challenges abound.

Fortunately, the breakfasts provided have a lot of fruit, so if I need mid-morning snacks, there’s my easy standby.

Fortunately, I brought my running clothes.

Fortunately, running on the beach is a very magical draw for me. (Running on the beach always brings to my mind sunshine and shiny happy things. I never watched the show, but we’ve all seen the intro to Baywatch, yes? Running on the beach is ALWAYS like this, right? Right. In Oregon?…right…maybe not so much in May.)

And fortunately, rain, especially the Oregon brand, was expected. I brought my rain jacket.

It’s true – half the battle is planning ahead and being prepared.

And a few days into the week, I’ve been exorbitantly lucky on the post-conference weather. While each night has threatened rain, it’s been dry in the evenings. And if you run with the wind at your back on the way out, you have no choice but to suck it up and make it back to where you started (that may not be the most ideal way, but facing into the wind is not a great option either…).

Well. Maybe this week won’t be such a big setback for me after all… at least there is running.

Image

week 8 recap…


Day What I was supposed to do… What I actually did…
Monday Rest Rest? Meh, who needs it?
Thursday’s Bike 1:20
Tuesday Bike Short Hills (1 hour, 10 minutes total with 9×1 minute hill climbs) Wednesday’s run:
47 minutes with 9x:30 sprint set with 1 minute rest
Wednesday Swim (1625 yards)Run Speed Intervals (47 minutes with 9x:30 sprint set with 1 minute rest)  Lame-o Swim Attempt – ALMOST today’s yardage… 1500 yards
Thursday Foundation Bike 1:15 Swim:2x {50 free, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 fly}4×50 scull drill

5×300 (sight 1x per 25)

2×100 Cool down

Total 2300

 

Friday’s Foundation Run:  37 minute predator run

Friday Swim / Foundation Run + Strides set REST.
Ok. I’ll admit it, I guess I do need it.
Saturday Foundation Bike 1:45 Sunday’s Brick WorkoutBike 1:15
Run 30 minutes
Sunday Swim / Brick Workout Combine Tuesday’s hill workout with Saturday’s Foundation RideBike: 2 hours of hills, hills, HILLS!

on moose and motivation…

Late last week, I was looking to run somewhere new so I drove a little bit out of my way to a state recreation area where there were hiking and horse trails that I knew I could run on. Trail running – a great way to challenge yourself and mix up the scenery. This was gonna be good.

Great idea, only I realized as I was running that it had been raining for the past 4 or 5 days and the trail was muddy. Mostly passable, but in some places, mud puddles much bigger than I wanted them to be. I was on a 5.5K loop and while I had originally planned to run 2 loops, determined that I didn’t want to deal with the mud and I’d just finish the 1 and call it a day. Maybe even call it my “rest day.” Ha.

I honestly enjoy trail running. The hills, the mud. I like channeling my inner badass. It’s fun to be the “hardcore” girl who trail runs, right? Mud splatters on your calves. Maybe a smear on your cheek. Ain’t scared of nuthin.

But here’s the thing. I was all alone on this particular day – the parking lot was completely empty (it was threatening to rain). And honestly, sometimes that’s MORE disconcerting than if there are a few cars. Cause you

are

all

ALONE.

Just me and the mud. Ok. This was peaceful at first. Quiet. No watch, no tunes. Just me and the mud.

So I’m plodding along through the mud and I got to thinking : what if anything were to happen? Well, I had grabbed my cell phone at the last minute (I didn’t look, but I’m not really sure I had coverage). I guess if I were accosted, well, I could throw my phone at them (and hope my aim is better than usual). And run like hell. Those would be my options. Hmmm. Not great.

This all starts to make me feel just a wee bit unnerved. Looking over my shoulder more often. Stopping to listen. What was that in the bushes? A quail? Or another person?

(Now I want to take a minute and tell you that I do not really view myself as a scaredy cat as a general rule. Not really. But I do have an overactive imagination that I have to keep reined in. Once it starts running, it’s hard to reel it back to reality…)

Ok, so I’m jumpy. Alert. Paying attention to my surroundings. Still enjoying the run, but certainly with a heightened sense of awareness. Which is really always good when you’re running alone. I think I picked up the pace a smidge too. Get back to the car and back to safety faster.

I’m making pretty good time and getting fairly close to the end of the loop and watching the trail for roots, rocks and other things I could trip and fall over and all of the sudden, up ahead I hear something jump out of the bushes. Fast.

At this point I jumped out of my skin and, I’m not proud to say, but I might have emitted a startled kind of eeeek / ahhhhh / eeeeee. And I froze.

And just look what I saw straight in front of me:

Holy moly! It’s a MOOOOOOOOOOSE!

Yes, I was practically face to face with a freakin’ moose.

Pretty cool. We stood there, staring at each other for a minute. And she did not move.

If you don’t know, moose can be cranky sorts. Most moose I’ve stumbled across over the years have run off in the other direction. This one stood her ground. On the trail. In between me and the shortest way to my car. Since she didn’t bolt, I assumed that there may be a baby moose close by and that was why she was standing her ground. Not wanting to be the next day’s headline “Stupid Runner Girl Gets Trampled by Momma Moose, Dies Alone in the Woods”, I decided that it was best if I gave her some space and went back the other direction. As I turned to go, she seemed satisfied to have won the stare down and that I was going to go away.

And so back I went. And you know, I made my 1:10 long run of the week. Without that moose, I was considering throwing in the towel and skipping the week’s longest run, settling for two 55 minute runs and a shorter 35 minute trail run (instead of the two 55 minute runs and the 1:10 run I was supposed to do). Maybe that look she gave me as I turned around and left her on the trail was one of satisfaction, knowing she had helped me finish a run I had no intention of finishing without her help.

You never know where you’re going to find accountability. Or motivation.  Let’s just say, I certainly didn’t expect to find it in a moose!

week 6 recap…

Week 6 recap:

Day What I was supposed to do…

And what I actually did…

Monday REST Rested. Well, walked. I needed the fresh air. And I needed the rest. Walking was a good compromise.
Tuesday Bike 1:15 – with 10×1 min short Hills Swim: 2200 (in place of Wednesday’s swim)400 warmup2x300 (50 kick/100 swim/50 kick/100swim), :30 rest

3×200 pull, strong effort, :20R

3×150 (50free/50 choice/50free), :20R

100 cool down

Run: 45 min predator run (negative split)

Just flip-flopped the runs and did Friday’s workout.

Wednesday Run(50 min with 12x:30 sec intervals)

Swim (1950)

Strength training (Gotta fit it in somewhere. This week it ended up bumping a swim out, but c’est la vie!)Tuesday’s Bike workout: 10×1 min hill climbs, 2 minutes active recovery, 1:15 total
Thursday Bike 1:30 Swim: 2400 (in place of Friday’s swim)600 warm up6x50 (alternate 25 drill/25 swim and 25 kick/25 swim) with :15 rest

6×50 (25 sprint/25 easy) with :20 rest

2x{4×50 fast, :30 rest /200 pull}

2×150 (50 free/50 choice/50 free) on the 3:15

100 cool down

Friday Run 50 mins with 4x:20 strides with :40 sec recovery

Swim 2000

Run: 50 min, 12x:30 with 1:30 active recoveriesWednesday’s workout!
Saturday Brick – 1:15 bike/20 run Brick – 1:30 bike/ 20 runWhen I first hopped on the bike, I could tell my legs were tired from the previous day’s sprint workout but once I warmed up it was alright.The twenty minute run was alright – still feels funny to hop off the bike and try to run. My legs didn’t feel like bricks, per se, but it was a slower run for whatever reason.
Sunday Swim (1700)

Run 40

Bike 1:00. This was supposed to make up for the Thursday 1:30 ride, but we made it out to our turnaround faster than we thought and I was BEAT and sucking wind so we called it quits early and came home to eat crepes!