Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I'm supposed to be on Peak Week for my Ironman training.

I'm on vacation with my family at the beach in North Carolina.

So... peak week isn't going to be peak week.  There will not be a 100 mile bike ride.  There will not be any lap swimming.  I tried that Monday and it took 40 minutes to drive to the pool.  Not worth it.

I will bike (30 miles or less) and I will run.  I will even do an 18 mile run on Saturday, since I can still be back at the house by 10am.  But I will not devote this week to training.

Sometimes your priorities have to be your family.  And spending time on the beach.

That is all.  Back to my vacation.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Here are last week's stats.

Total Workout Time:  About  19 hours
Total Running Time:  About  6 and a half hours
Total Cycling Time: About 8 and a half hours
Total Swimming Time:  About 3 and a half hours

Mileage:  189

I am tired.

Yesterday was a big workout day -- I biked close to 95 miles and then immediately ran another 6.5.  I actually felt okay afterwards -- I met Jamie and the kids for a post-brick recovery meal at Whole Foods, then I took Susanna shopping at Trader Joe's, made dinner, put the kids to bed... I felt pretty normal.  Today  is supposed to be a rest/ catch-up-on-laundry-cleaning-and-everything-else-I've-neglected day.  And so far... I have had a nap.  I tried to do a little bit of reading while Jack had his nap, but I fell asleep instead.  When he goes down for his afternoon nap, I might sleep again.  Right now he is throwing the folded laundry I never put away around TV room and I am letting him.

I am really tired.

Two more weeks of this insanity training and then I hit the major taper, which I think will be a nice way to spend my final weeks of summer holidays.  I have also tried to fix my long runs and rides so they don't happen while we're at the beach next week, other than a long run on the last day we are there since I can wake up super early for that and then relax on the drive home.

I am really, really tired.

HOWEVER -- it was a successful week of training and if I can do what I did this weekend -- run 16 miles on Saturday under a 9 pace, and then cycle 96 miles and brick run 6 at a little over a 9 pace -- I am pretty sure I can finish the race, barring any illness/ disqualification/ bike failure.

So I will take three weeks of mad training and feeling really, really, really tired.  We're almost there.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Musselman 70.3 Half Iron Triathlon: Race Report

Amazing Race.  Really.  I'm doing this one again -- hats off to Woolsports and Race Director Jeff Henderson for pretty much the best race organization I've ever experienced.   Everything was top notch from the pre-race communication, easy expo, pre-race meeting, fantastic and environmentally friendly goody bags and race premiums, post-race with food catered by Wegman's, a local produce farm, and homemade ice cream, and a family friendly venue at Seneca Lake State Park with a swimming beach, spray park, and stellar playground.

I chose this one because it was the only half distance I could find that fit my timeframe for Louisville and was within a 7 hour drive.  Jamie wanted to do a shorter distance and they had a sprint on Saturday (not to mention a super sprint on Friday, and two kid's triathlons on Saturday... Susanna is ready to race when she turns 6!) so we could each mind the kids while the other raced.  (in all honesty though, his race was about a quarter the distance so he deserves a medal for the 8 or so hours he spent from when he dropped me off at transition until I retrieved my bicycle....  I'm sure that was exhausting.  It also stormed for half of my race so that nixed the plan to spend the morning at the spray park and beach... they didn't get to go there until about 11am.  Not to mention we had to get the kids up at 5:45 and they didn't go back to sleep until hours later...  yup, he is Super Daddy.)

The Swim
Jamie had raced the day before and the water temperature was 77.8.  Saturday was a hot day and I was secretly hoping the race would not be wetsuit legal.  I wanted to practice sans suit for Louisville but I didn't want everyone else having the neoprene advantage.  At 6:30 they made the final call... water temperature was 78.5.  Booyah!  There were a lot of unhappy faces and some people chose to wear them anyhow (this disqualifies them from any awards.)  The gun went off and I ran as far as I could and then we were in the water.  I kept getting kicked in the face/ swum over/ people grabbing my feet etc.  When I would come up for air, often I'd get a mouthful of water instead.  I can see why people have panic attacks in the water.  It didn't help that right before we took off, the announcer commented that this lake was 660 feet deep.  Nice!  Anyhow I kept trying to find people that were my pace to draft off their feet.  I eventually would catch them and would have to find more feet to follow.  The swim began in the lake and then went up a canal to a boat ramp.  The first buoy seemed to take forever to appear, and then the second, forever again.  When I got to the canal I started to see blue swim caps, meaning the fourth wave swimmers had caught up to me. I realized my swimming technique had been pretty pathetic, likely because I was concentrating on not swallowing water or getting kicked in the nose, and so for the final third of the swim tried to concentrate on my form. Which is hard to do when you have to keep your eye on the buoys so you don't end up swimming the wrong direction.  My final thoughts -- "This isn't hard, but this is really boring and really long.  I am really glad I do not have to swim twice this distance today.  The Ironman is going to feel really, really, really long."
Final swim time:  43:13.  Only two minutes faster than my first 70.3 despite three days of masters swimming per week since January.  Ugh.  Must work on technique.  Must work on technique.

2:27.  Not bad. Drank a bottle of Hornet Juice, pulled on my socks and shoes, put on my (borrowed - THANKS TUAN!) Aerohelmet and took off.  I think whatever time I would save swimming with a wetsuit, I make up for in T1 not having to take it off.

The Bike
This triathlon is known for it's beautiful course through wine country, but today was overcast and yucky.  I wasn't too upset though considering the temperature was a good 15 degrees lower than what I had been training in.  The elevation profile pretty much goes uphill (but not steep, aside from one hill reminiscent to the many I saw on the Louisville course) until mile 17, is downhill until 28, then there is another climb til 38, another downhill to 44, then pretty flat til the end.  My bike computer stopped working a few days ago so I have no idea what my speed was for pretty much the whole race.  I just concentrated on keeping my heart rate at a steady 150 and figured that was a decent zone to finish strong in the run.  About an hour into the bike it started to rain... and then thunder... and then monsoon.  I've never biked in a storm before, and we were heading right into it.  Crazy wind.  Then lightening... two seconds and ground shaking thunder.  The sky went black.  The next lightening strike was in the field next to us and the thunder was instantaneous.  At that point I started to get really scared.  I got as low as I could in the aero position and prayed.  I wasn't sure what to do... keep racing?  We were in the middle of nowhere.  I could crawl in a ditch but I wasn't sure if being in a ditch with rushing water was the safest thing either.  I decided to just keep on going.  The rain was insane.  The force of it was whipping my eyes and  I wished I had my open water goggles... no joke.  I passed an aid station and stopped for the first time -- I had skipped the first one.  "Heed?  Water?"  they asked me.  I guess they were not so concerned that my life was in imminent danger.  I filled my aerobottle with Heed, grabbed a couple of Hammer Gels and pulled out again.  Eventually the rain stopped, and I passed a sign that said "Mile 30."  I looked down at my watch and saw that I'd been biking for 1:34.   Really?  I never thought I'd finish the bike in under 3 hours, but I only had 26 miles left.  I decided to push it til the end.  I had plenty of water in my 42 oz bottle so I skipped the rest of the aid stations and hammered away until we got to Samson State Park.  They had warned us at the athlete's meeting that the road was rough.  I wasn't prepared for how rough it was.  Potholes, cracks, bumps, and unsealed pavement.  For the next four miles.  I counted 5 people changing flats, so I took it easy and was cautious, and thanked my lucky stars when I made it out of there with my tires intact.  Then I hit a nice downhill and hammered away again.  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the 50 mile marker and noticed I still had about 30 minutes if I wanted to break 3 hours.  I pulled into transition and my watch read 2:55:26. That's over 19 mph.... it was definitely a fast course, and I will not get anywhere near that for Louisville with it's ridiculous climbing, but I'll take it today!

My shoes were SOAKED... and my socks... ugh.  Some smarter people had put their shoes and socks in Ziplock bags.  Not I.  I put on my drenched Nikes, race number, drank another bottle of Hornet Juice, downed  a Clif Shot, and headed off.  Time:  2:33... not really sure how my T2 was longer than T1.

The Run
My runs have felt horrible all week so I wasn't sure how fast to take it.  I had a general time goal to have my pace under 9 minute miles, and decided to go by heart rate rather than pace and try to keep it around the upper 150s for the first half and then upper 160s for the second half.  The first three miles were pretty flat and I was trotting along at about an 8 minute pace.  Then the first ridiculous uphill came. The course went through the town of Geneva, literally up stairs.  The run course was tough -- miles 3-8 were almost entirely uphill, and it was getting hotter (maybe 80 degrees?  Pretty cool compared to what I'd trained in but after 4 hours of racing it still felt tough.)  There was amazing spectator support and lots of homeowners standing in their yards with hoses to cool us off if we so desired.  I so desired.  I was careful to take Heed (energy drink/ electrolyte replacement) at every aid station so as not to have a repeat of the National Marathon.  I had also brought along my own Clif Shots, but when I reached down for the third one I realized my second two had fallen out of my race belt.   So I had to use whatever they had at the aid station, which scared me because race nutrition is an issue for me on the run and I had never practiced with Hammer Gels, but they seemed to work fine.  In fact, I didn't cramp at all the entire race.  I got to mile 7 and saw the monstrosity of a hill we had been warned about.  This was worse than the stair climb.  NO ONE was running this baby.  It had an 80 foot elevation climb in about a third of a mile.  Check it out (the red is the run course.)
Thankfully there was a guy playing steel drums at the top, which at least motivated me to keep moving forward.  I reached the top, started running again, and saw that mile 8 still clocked in below a 9 minute pace.  I knew the rest of the course was downhill and I could probably finish in under 1:55 if I kept a good pace to the end.  I did pretty well on the downhills, around an 8 minute pace, but when I hit the flat section at 11 I was really, really tired.  My heart rate was about 165, and I couldn't get my legs to move fast enough to get it any higher.  The last two miles felt really, really long.  My pace had slowed considerably - maybe I was up to 8:40s.  I was thrilled when I finally saw the 13th mile marker and I started to book it.  Now -- here is my ONLY complaint about the entire race.  It was NOT .1 miles to the finish.  Oh no.  I sprinted and looked down at my Garmin and a tenth of a mile had passed and I still was not across that finish line.  In fact, it was a good distance away - I'd stay the finish was a quarter mile from that 13 marker.  Ugh!  But I made myself keep going and throw up my hands at the finish line like I see in all those Ironman finish photos instead of looking like I'm in deep pain and about to throw up like I usually do in finisher photos.  Final run time:  1:50:48.

Overall Results:

Race goody bag -- with things that are actually USEFUL!  Shampoo
and conditioner, all natural peanut butter, a stuffed mussel for
Jack and Susanna, AND gourmet dark chocolate (eaten before
I could get a photo.)

Jamie and I have matching tech shirts and
can be twins on the drive home tomorrow.
Race medal are from recycled bicycles - how cool?!?

It turned into a beautiful day and we hit a fabulous winery that was on the bike course.  I finally got to see this view instead of fearing for my life.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Peak Training Week 3

And this weeks stats are:

Cycling Miles:  156
Running Miles:  41
Swimming Miles:  2.2 (Only did one masters session this week -- traveling...)
Weight Training:  2*20 minutes

I spent my birthday (today) cycling for 5 hours with an ending temperature of 99 degrees.  Then I got off my bike and attempted to run for 60 minutes.  My pace was pretty nice for a training brick, under a 9 minute mile, but I felt like crud.  Jamie and the kids were meeting me at Whole Foods for a celebratory microbrew and pizza feast and instead of running past it for a mile and a half and turning around, I ran right in and chowed down.  So much for my hour long "brick."  I did, however, make myself finish it after we ate.  By that time it had rained and cooled down a lot, and I felt SO much better.

I am really frustrated with my cycling.  I've gotten so much faster with running since I started triathlon in 2010, but my cycling has gotten slower and I can't figure it out.  Today my final average pace was 15.8.  Granted it was on the bike trail and there are just so many stop signs that it is impossible to get a good speed going for a long period of time, but two years ago I regularly averaged 16.5 - 17.5 out there.  My race pace was about 18 - 19 mph, and I haven't seen those numbers at all this year.

Swimming -- also frustrated.  I have done so much more swimming - Masters 3X per week! -  and I still feel slow as a turtle.  Actually the turtle might be faster if we had a race.  Our coach is great, and when he helps me with technique I get faster for awhile, and then I always seem to forget the skills and go back to how I was swimming before.  After the December marathon I may really focus on swimming 5X a week... I need to get some technique improvement or I'm never going to get any better.

I'm having nightmares about not finishing the race by midnight and ending up with a DNF.  I know I need to really get more cycling fitness, which has been a lot easier to do now that school is out.  I need to cycle between and hour and 90 minutes every day, I need to do more bricks, and I need to do a couple more 100 mile hilly rides.  I am terrified that it is going to be 100+ degrees on race day.  Today was close and my run was awful.  Sure I felt fine after the pizza stop, but it's not like I can just pause the watch during the Ironman and sit down for a leisurely dinner and then finish the race.

I've got a Half Ironman race coming up on Sunday and I guess that should help me gauge how I'm doing a little bit more than just from training.  My last 70.3 was 6 hours 28 minutes.. we'll see if this one is any better.  

Finally, I've been doing some reading on my Nook to try to motivate me during this peak training phase, which is just exhausting.  I'm reading the new book by Chrissie Wellington called A Life Without Limits -- it's fantastic and she does a great job explaining the history of Ironman.  She tells of Julie Moss, the 23 year old graduate student who competed in the 1982 Kona race and nearly won before her body gave out on her in the last yards of the marathon.  Though she didn't win and was unable to even walk, she crawled to a second place finish.  The below video is a big part of what inspired many to train for Ironman -- it's truly amazing.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ironman Louisville Training Weekend

First of all, a big thank you to the folks at iamtri.com for putting on such a great training weekend.  Secondly, I'm not sure if it made me more confident or more freaked out about the race, now in (gulp) less than 8 weeks.
The Ironman Louisville Finish Line --
Where I hope to arrive before midnight on August 26
Jamie and I had spent the previous week in Indianapolis visiting my parents, and decided to make this our first kid-free mini-vacation.  I realize that only total tri-nerds would spend that time at training weekend, but we decided to make it fun.  We got a room at The Brown Hotel downtown, which is right near some great eateries.  If you are going to burn 4,000 calories over the course of the weekend, you might as well indulge.  We had lunch at the Bluegrass Brewing Company (the best part:  Bourbon Bread Pudding for dessert), then explored the city a bit.  They were having an... interesting... convention down by the riverfront with thousands  of people in costume (sidenote -- it was 102 degrees.  No way I would stay in some of these costumes in that heat.)  I resisted the urge to get photos of every conference participant I saw, but did get some pics of us with a hearse parked in front of the Galt hotel.
Jamie's new ride
A new friend for me!

We walked a mile up the river and finished up with dinner at a lovely little place called Hillbilly Tea.  I had "Chicken Fried Tofu", which despite the name was positively gourmet.  Then we headed back to the hotel to try to get some sleep before our big day.

The Swim
This was just to give us a feel for swimming in the Ohio.  The Ironman Louisville course starts out on the dock at Tumbleweeds restaurant and goes "upstream" in the place between Towhead Island and the shore, then turns around and is downstream for the remaining two miles or so.  We were allowed to do as many laps as we wanted in the sheltered area behind the island.  The leader of the training weekend said "There are two reasons Ironman Louisville doesn't sell out. The first is the heat.  The second is this river -- people are really nervous swimming in the Ohio."  Well I'm not.  I've swam in the Potomac and in the Indy Canal.  It doesn't get worse than the Indy Canal - my pink swim camp turned brown and never recovered.  So I jumped right in while most people were peering nervously at the muddy water.  It was nice and warm and there aren't any sharks or jellyfish.  I did one lap and got out.  17 minutes.  This was my first time in open water with the Garmin and it was ridiculously inaccurate.  I'd love to believe I did .77 miles but... no way in the world could I do that in 17 minutes.  

The Bike
Jamie and I decided to start out together and he would head back at the 60 or 80 turnaround, and I would do all 112.  It was already 90 degrees at 8:45 a.m., and much of those at the training camp had opted to skip the swim and head out early and beat the heat , leaving at 7.  The group we took off with only had about 5 riders and we quickly lost the three guys in front who were hammering it at 20 mph.  (Side note:  This was the fittest group of people I have ever seen and I started to feel very inadequate pretty much immediately.)  
The first part of the course was flat and I started thinking that people exaggerated the difficulty of this race and that really, it wasn't so bad.  I'd done Casa River Century with all those hills, no problem, this couldn't be that bad, right?  There was a long climb and then we were at the first aid station.  Jamie and I filled our bottles and we headed off for a ten mile out and back, which the guy at the aid station described as "some rolling hills -- you'll really enjoy it!"  We turned and came upon a steep descent.  My bike computer registered 38 miles and hour -- whee!  Except that meant I had to go UP that hill on the way back.  And yes, on the way back that 38 mph turned into 8 mph.  Still, I was feeling good.  Jamie and I headed on to the main loop.  I stopped to use the restroom at about the 33rd mile, and Jamie said he thought the next aid station was in three miles.  I started looking for it but didn't see anything.  I pulled into a church to look at my map and a couple guys stopped to ask if I was okay.  They told me that the next aid station was after the next left turn so I put my map away and followed them.  As we passed through the town of L'Esprit I heard Jamie call out "What was THAT???" at the top of his lungs.  I figured some car had cut him off or something.  I had almost no fluids left and it was in the 90s.  After the left turn and a couple of miles I stopped to look at the map, which told me the aid station was not until we reached the 50 mile mark.  We were at 42.  What happened to the one that was supposed to be at 38?  Jamie rode up behind me and I showed him the map.  "Why didn't you stop when I called out to you?"  -Jamie  "You called out to me?"  -Me  "Yes, when you were hammering up that hill I called out to you - you missed the aid station!  I have no water!  We have another 8 miles til we get to water!" - Jamie   "Well... maybe we can stop at a gas station?"  Except there wasn't one for those next 8 miles - just a lot of hills.  This course was just full of hills.  Look how happy we were to get to aid station!  
  They had a nice lunch spread (barebeque) in addition to the Ironman nutrition (Infinit, gels, etc.) at the other aid stations, and we stayed at this one for awhile.  It was only getting hotter and I still had a second LeGrange loop to complete (Jamie was just riding straight back to the start, giving him 80 miles total.)  So I took off by myself.  
   This is where it really started to get hard mentally.  The first loop, I could take the hills,  It was a good 10 degrees hotter, I was by myself, I was tired, and I still had another 62 miles on the bike.  I tried to break it up into smaller sections -- at 56 I could say I was halfway done!  At 68ish, I pulled into the aid station I had missed the first time around.  There wasn't much left for us -- most of the folks that actually did all 112 had left early, and with the heat a lot that left at 9am had opted to stick to one loop.  Another woman pulled in and showed me that her gear shifter had just broken, which happened right after she started the second loop.  The fact that she was finishing anyhow and hadn't called SAG to pick her up was motivation to keep going.  I took off again and caught up with a few riders from Indianapolis.  We made it to the 50/ 80 mile aid station, checked the weather (99 degrees) and took off to "get this thing over with."  And then at the 83rd mile I got a flat rear tire.  NOOOOOOO!!!  I stink at changing tires.  I opened up my seat bag and realized to my horror that I didn't even have a CO2 cartridge with me.  Ugh.  I called Jamie.  He had just finished the 80 miles and was not in the state to drive 40 minutes to bring me the pump (forget picking me up -- I was finishing this thing.) I felt too guilty to call SAG since they made a big deal about how we needed to be able to change flats.   I flipped my bike over just stared at the rear tire.  At about this time a couple of Latter Day Saints missionaries drove past and stopped to see if I needed help.  One of them knew how to change a tire so she showed me how to get the rear wheel off the chain.  She didn't have a pump though.  Aside from the woman with the broken gear, I wasn't sure if anyone else was finishing the whole course.  And then lo and behold, two guys came pedaling around the corner.  They had CO2!  They changed my tire!  They will have good Karma forever!  And I will make it my mission to learn how to change a flat on my own in the next couple weeks.  Really.  I am going to practice and practice and practice.  I thanked my four new friends, called Jamie (who says to me "I'm just warning you - that last 30 miles is bad.  It looks easy on paper but it's bad.  Bad bad bad."  Just what I needed to hear.), and headed off.  Mentally it was tough - it was hot and there were still little rollers -  but this was the "easiest" part of the course, with a net downhill.  I reached the final aid stop, filled up my 42 oz fluid bottle for the fifth time that day,  chatted with and again thanked the men who helped me with my tire, and got on the road again.  I. was. so. tired.  I was so ready for that bike computer to say 112.  While the first few miles of the course flew by, each of these felt like eternity.  When I was about 9 miles from the finish, Jamie started driving loops around the course and honking at me.  He is awesome.  He said he was ready to die the last ten miles and knew I would need some motivation.  When I finished, he had the A/C blasting and potato chips in the passenger seat.  I collapsed, he racked my bike, and we set off for the hotel.  I knew I needed to run a mile or so just to get a feel for running after such a long time on the bike.  I spent the car ride convincing myself to do it.  I changed into running shorts and checked the temperature.  101.  Perfect.  I ran for 11 minutes.  Good enough.  
That bike course is brutal.  Total elevation gain:  3,450 feet. That's a lot of climbing, especially with temperatures in the high 90s/ low 100s.  Anyone who tells you Ironman Louisville has "a few rolling hills" is seriously underestimating this course.  We collapsed in the hotel for an hour or so, then cleaned up and went out for a fantastic celebratory dinner at Doc Crow's.  Check out our dessert.  Yes that says "Brown butter praline ice cream with Bourbon caramel ribbon atop CINNAMON PORK RINDS  sprinkled with CANDIED BACON topped with a Bourbon Cherry."  A local specialty.  And it was good.  Really good.

The Run
All I can say about the run is these other folks doing the tri-camp run really fast.  After riding the night before I planned to take it easy.  I asked the other folks what pace they planned on going, and most wanted to go at about an 8 minute mile.  No thank you.  I fell into step with a couple that was going about 9-9:30s, and found out they were also from Virginia.  They were fun and it was nice to have company.  We had started the 13.1 run loop about 2 miles from the actual start, and when we crossed the "finish line" at Fourth Street Live at 11ish miles we were so close to my hotel that I decided to just run back to it and get a shower in before checkout.  So I only did 12 miles.  Good enough.

It was a great weekend.  We finished it off with brunch at a fantastic place called Toast on Market.  I think we ate out more this past weekend than we did the whole of last year. Too hard to eat out with a baby and a three year old.  My parents are awesome for babysitting.