Friday, March 30, 2007

Final Countdown--We Are a Go

"Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth." -- Archimedes

The final 24 hours is finally here. I feel excited and ready. I've waited so long for the final countdown. I'm actually relieved it's here. The tension in the air is palpable. I came to realize last night that that external sensation I was feeling was magic. All this hard work and effort has created this magic hovering in the air during these last few days, waiting for me to bottle it up, channel it, and produce something truly incredible. Tomorrow will truly be an amazing, surreal, magical day for me.

"The journey is the reward."
--Chinese Proverb

I've felt groggy and sluggish all week. After my cold last week, I've been terribly congested. Then, I read an editorial in the latest issue of Runner's World, where the author described having a cold during his taper and feeling crappy and groggy, right before he PR'ed for his marathon. I took this as a sign. Also, I feel better today (and twice as good as the day before) so I think everything has moved through. The last few nights of sleep have been very sound. I've also been religious about my diet, vitamins, and lots of organic, herbal tea (with honey) these last few weeks (good for hydration, at least). Maybe this will be a recipe for success.

All my workouts this week have been conservative and purely to help ease my mind and let me sleep at night. I ran on Wednesday, feeling like molassess, out 2 miles, back 1, and walked the last mile. Why? Because I could. I felt, at 3 miles, that was enough for a taper run. It felt great. Not only that but 0 knee pain!!! My peronials have quieted down.

Then, a quick pool swim. I still felt like molassess but very steady and smooth. I focused on my technique. After a nice warm up, some drills, 1x500, 1x200, 1x100, 1x50. Very conservative. It's nice to be done with a workout and feel so fresh afterwards! After a soak in the hot tub, my muscles got one last deep tissue massage. The therapist thought all my muscles felt good. No weird tightness or damage anywhere.

Even though my workouts were sluggish, I felt better afterwards. Less stiff, less congested, and I slept like a baby. Yesterday (Thursday), I took Bluebell for a final quick spin (30 min) on the trainer. No risking a flat or crash this late in the game! She felt great. Again, a little sluggish, but I noticed I felt better at the end of the workout than the beginning. Which is good. After a 5 min warm-up, the workout consisted of 3x1 min sprints at high RPM/low resistance, 1x5 min race pace, 1x4 min race pace, 1x3 min slightly faster than race pace, 1x2 min slightly faster, and 2 sets of 3x10 second increasing rpms at a high gear (this really gets the blood flowing!). Cool down, stretch, groomed Bluebell, made sure she was race-ready, and put her back in the stable with extra carrots.

"The gun goes off and everthing changes... the world changes... and nothing else really matters."
--Patti Sue Plummer

I also packed all my stuff last night. Practiced my transitions, froze my water bottles, and went over my race strategy in my head. I slept fairly well and woke up this morning feeling ready. Today, I'll pick up my race packet, go for a quick 20 min dip (to ensure a good night's sleep), have a safe, nutritious dinner, watch a movie, and go to be early.
“Mind is everything; muscle [mere] pieces of rubber.All that I am, I am because of my mind.”
- Paavo Nurmi

I've been doing a bit of meditating and visualization lately. Focusing on mantras and listening to my inner strength. Coming up with mantras. Going to keep these in my arsenal for the tough moments tomorrow. My goal is to stay positive throughout.

"Sometimes winning has nothing to do with being first across the finish line"
--John Bingham

I have done everything I possibly can do for this race. Now, it's time for me to sit back and enjoy. All systems ready. We are a go. I'll see you on the other side!

"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."
--Robert Frost

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Race Details

I think I'm going to be pretty unproductive this week. All I can think about is Saturday. I'm trying to enjoy the build-up. Revel in the excitement. It isn't often that I prepare so much for a single event.

More details:

My bib number is 1692 and my wave leaves at 7:29 am.

Apparently, you can track my progress, live through webcasts:
Pretty cool. I feel very important.
I also checked the weather for Saturday in Oceanside. If it actually turns out this way, it will be absolutely perfect. Unbelievable.
Below are some pics I pulled off the IM website from last year's California 70.3 race. They look exactly how I remember going out there and training on the course. Puts a nice mental picture in my head.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Final Taper Week--Can you handle it?

Here it is:
23 weeks of training. Can you believe it? I'm PUMPED!!! I can't believe I've been training for almost 6 mos!

Last week turned out to be a perfect taper week when it's all said and done. I had the same amount of volume as a "maintenance" week (7.5 hrs), biked 2x, swam 2x, ran 2x, and did weights 1x. All my workouts felt short with fast "bursts." I felt great at the end and stopped when I could have done more. In addition, I had a cold, which I am beginning to suspect is necessary (a little one) during a taper to ensure the Type A triathlete gets enough rest. Plus, I've been super about my diet and stretching.
My massage therapist figured out what tendon was bothering my knee. It's the lower side between my calf and shin--the peroneals. My massage person went into each muscle 1 at a time. Gluts, hamstrings, quads, IT band, calves--nothing (good though, eh?). Then she hit the peroneals. Ouch! That was definitely it. Nothing too bad but definitely tight. Tweaked. She worked on it. Guess what? Felt 100% better on my Sunday 6-miler. Little pang here and there but nothing unmanageable. It's definitely improving. This tendon runs from an attachment on the side of the knee (where it hurts) to the under the foot. Because I run off the balls of my feet, this tendon is just tight. Nothing a little ice, stretching, and massage can't cure.

I had been feeling very depressed because of all the stress in my life and turns out, lack of exercise. I went for a fabulous 30-mile bike ride on Saturday and came back feeling 200% better. I enjoyed myself. We went out through Carmel Valley onto the 56 bike path. Saw some canyons, golf greens, wildflowers, and donkeys!!! On the way back, I had to get off to pet the donkeys! They were so friendly. They LOVED having their ears scratched. I was sorry to have to leave them, and they seemed sorry too. Next time, I'll bring carrots.
I can't believe how much better I felt when I got back. Everything was in perspective. I slept better too. Sunday, we went for our group run. 6 miles on trails in a canyon followed by a fabulous brunch at the Naked Cafe in Solana Beach. Yummy, fresh organic food. Best omelett ever with artichoke hearts, peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
After I digested, Jason drove me to the Cove in La Jolla. After I took off (in balmy, 60-degree water--hey, it didn't hurt to put my face in!), he drove around to La Jolla Shores and sat on a bench with a book. Shortly after, I walked up and surprised him. He didn't think I'd be that quick! It was about 0.75 miles--just right. No seaweed with a gentle current going my way. It was way fun to swim from point A to point B. How many times do we get to do that? I felt like a sea creature popping up out of the water like, "Where did she come from?"
I'm feeling pretty good about this week. I'm as ready as I'm going to be!

Friday, March 23, 2007

All the Gory Details

From the St. Patrick's Day race last weekend.

My time: 55:38 (8:58 pace) 65/219 (place)

not bad, for me, eh?

Jason rocked it, as usual (he thought he was slow!):

50:07 (8:04 pace) 42/129 (place)

Latest Taper News:

Cold--steadily going away but still feeling fatigued. Argh. Have taken off more than I wanted to this week but considering it is the taper, guess that's okay. More important to rest. Have been focusing on sleep, herbal tea, and taking the Zicam and vitamins. The Zicam does seem to lessen the symptoms and speed the cold through the system.

Taper workouts--After Monday's swim and bike, went down hard Tuesday and Wednesday. Started feeling better Thursday. Went for a run and did 1 final session of weights. Was planning on a swim today (Friday) but after my first full day back at work am feeling completely wiped. Have decided to rest instead, begrudgingly. Think this is the best option in the long run. Again...ARGH!

Knee--Has been bugging me after every run lately. Know it's my ITB flaring up again (outside of right knee; upper part). Decided to wait until my last long run 2 weeks ago to bother me. (Double ARGH!). This is a recurring issue for me; no, it's not my shoes. Have great shoes and orthotics. It's weak hip abductors. When I push the mileage and slack on the weights and the stretching, it's a recipe for injury. At least I know what it is!

It feels better this week but the pain is there and nagging when I run. Started up after 1.5 miles on my 4-miler Thursday afternoon. Ebbed and flowed from a 1-3.5 (pain scale 1-10) throughout. Was worse going uphill and pronounced on the push-off. Recovery strategy has been REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, and ELEVATION (RICE), as well as a lot of ibuprofen. And stretching of the IT band. And therapeutic massage. Going in today and once more on Wednesday. If I can make it through the race, will start physical therapy to get back on the right track before the marathon in June.

My knee plus the cold has me totally freakin out about the race next weekend! On the other hand, I have everything I need now for race day--bike is tuned up, all my supplies--ready to go. Plus, I know ALL the gory details--I can picture it in my head. I've even outlined a schedule and list of items to bring for race day. Also, Jim Vance, pro triathlete and Tri Club San Diego member, has a pretty cool website where he discusses California 70.3 in very extreme detail ( Plus, there's an entire podcast found on the race website ( where Paula Newby-Fraser interviews Roch Frey (race director) about next weekend's race from where to park to what the course will be like. Finally, I live in the area and have had the opportunity to go up there and check out much of the course a few times. It doesn't get better than that.

RACE DETAILS!!! (the inside scoop)

Weather: I looked it up (it's early and can still change). Looks perfect. 0 chance of rain. Will start out around 50 and get to about 60 for a high. This can all change but considering it's been rainy the past few years, this is good. It's a bit on the chilly side, for me, so I will dress accordingly. Unless it's a Santa Ana condition, I'm expecting chilly. No worries about dehydration! Oceanside is ALWAYS windy when I ride there. I expect a headwind at some point of the ride, and from what I've heard, it's on the way back. Bummer.

Pre-Race Notes: First, because of daylight savings, it will be DARK upon arrival. The transition area opens at 4:30 and closes at 6:30 so even though my wave probably won't leave until 7-7:30, I need to get there early for a premo spot. There is NO parking close to the transition area. Spectators will be shuttled in. Athletes will ride their bike (WITH HELMETS ON) from parking to transition with transition bag in tow (~1.5 miles). Since it will be dark, I'll need to pull out my lights.


1) Swim--in a dirty harbor but at least there's no swells! In water start. COLD!!! The water is about 57-59 degrees right now. Come prepared. Wetsuits are a NECESSITY! To confound things, there is absolutely NO time for an adequate warm up before your wave starts (which doubly sucks since a warm up is even more critical in cold water). You are not allowed in until 3-7 minutes before the gun goes off. ACK!!! My strategy: jog on the beach to warm my core temperature up. The second I'm allowed in the water, no pussy-footing around. DIVE RIGHT IN to that icy water. It will suck for a moment but acclimate me the quickest. Once you get started, all buoys will be to the left every 100 meters. On the way back, the buoys will be to the left and the crowd will be to the right (something to look out for all you right-sided breathers).

T1: Once out of the water, a brief run through sand (nothing terrible) before hitting the transition area. I plan on taking my time. No sense in skyrocketing my heart rate (which is always too high at this point anyway) in T1. Because it's a long bike for me and it will be chilly, I plan on doing the surfer change into bike shorts (no changing tents, that I could see, are provided), pulling on a bike jersey (with my picnic supplies inside) and some arm warmers, maybe even some gloves, depending on how cold it is, socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses, and I'm off.

Bike: The first 25 miles will be flat, fast, and with a tailwind. It will be tempting to go all out because it will feel so easy. My strategy: save it for the winding hills on the back 25; I've heard they can really get ya. Not only that, but expect a strong HEADWIND, the last 11 miles (Doh!); my least favorite. My plan is to skip the aid stations and rely on my own provisions throughout, which I've trained with. Nothing new on race day!

T2: I'm definitely changing socks to prevent blisters. If it's warmed up, I'll do the surfer change to some running shorts for comfort and maybe a singlet too. I plan on stopping to use the Port-a-John here; otherwise, I'll run into trouble down the road. Snap on my fuel belt with my number and I'm off. Don't linger too long or the realization that I still have a 13. 1 mile run to go will sink in.

Run: A very easy, flat course, which will be lined with spectators. The only thing I don't like is that it's 2 loops--3 miles out; 3 miles back; 3 miles out; 3 miles back (and change) (BORING). I'm going to hate that turnaround when everyone else is going to the finish. Argh! Be mentally prepared to zone out through that. In addition, there is some deep sand to run through at the beginning of each loop (you have to do it twice), which sucks, mostly b/c you get sand in your shoes! This is Paul and Rochs' thang--they feel since you're racing in California, you should run on the beach. I'm sure I can think of a few things and tell 'em where to stick it on race day when I'm running through that sand!

THE FINISH!!! (I haven't thought beyond this point; I don't really need to, do I? Eating? Sleeping? Massage? Postpartum depression? J.K.)

Race Goals: It's all come down to this: what is my goal? It's my first time so in all honesty, I just want to finish before they kick me off the course! I guess that would be in less than 8 hours, or before 4 pm. That said, I've been training hard for 20+ weeks, following my plan religiously, and feel confident (did I just say that?) about the distance. I think I can do the swim in about 40-45 min, the bike in 3-3.5 hrs, and the run in 2-2.5 hrs, with transition times being 2-5 minutes. That would be about 7 hours. I have 8 before they throw me out (1:10 for the swim and about 4 for the bike, then the run). That feels like it's cutting it close. However, I would be very happy if I could do 6-6.5 hrs. We'll see. I just want to feel happy and strong at the end. Like I've accomplished something. I don't want to be pissy because I didn't do it in the time I expected. So I'm trying to set conservative goals.

Here's My Detailed Plan (hey, I'm Type-A, OK? It's okay to stop reading if you don't want even MORE detail):

Rachel's Race Checklist California 70.3

§ Warm Up Clothes
§ Bike Pump
§ Rag
§ iPod with pre-race music
§ ID
§ Towels (2-3)
§ Balloon for Transition
§ Chalk
§ Black Magic Marker
§ Transition Backpack
§ Timing Chip
§ Eye Drops
§ Back up glasses
§ Spare Pair(s) swim goggles (one Rx)
§ Zip Cords
§ Baby Powder
§ Cereal Bars
§ Sunblock
§ Chapstick
§ Electrical Tape
§ Spare Tubes and Pump

§ Watch
§ Tri Top, Sports Bra, Tri Shorts
§ Wetsuit
§ Body Glide
§ Race Cap
§ Silicone Cap
§ Ear Plugs

§ Bike
§ Bike Number
§ 2 water bottles
§ Jersey
§ Shorts
§ Socks
§ Shoes
§ Cliff Blocks
§ Electrolyte Tablets
§ Fig Newtons
§ Sunglasses
§ Arm warmers
§ Gloves
§ Vest
§ Headband (to cover ears)
§ Spare Tire Kit in Pouch (Patch Kit/Pump/Tube)
§ CO2 cartridges (2)

§ Running shoes with quick-tie laces
§ Socks
§ Fuel belt with 4 bottles ice water+ electrolytes and number
§ Cliff Blocks
§ Singlet

Post Race
§ Change of Clothes
§ Comfy Shoes

To Do List
Final Taper Weeks:
Consistent, planned workouts at lower volume (same frequency)
Plenty of rest, including off days and lots of sleep (naps)
Good nutrition
Daily stretching
Weekly Massages
Daily Meditation/Relaxation (plan out race day in head)
Keep up with vitamins
Avoid getting sick
Bike tune-up (including new chain and new brake pads)
Purchase new running shoes, quick tie laces, aero bottle, CO2 cartridges, goggles, bike shoes, bike helmet.
Practice transitions.
Make sure race day checklist is complete.
Rest, relax and take it easy!

Days Before Race:
1. Pick up race packet Friday March 30, 2007 (or even Thursday).
2. Consider taking Friday off, or at least half-day.
3. Do very light swim, bike, and run to get all muscles moving and test equipment.
4. Practice transition.
5. Stretch.
6. Meditate.
7. Eat well.
8. Pack everything up in truck.
9. Prepare coffee and morning routine for next morning.
10. Relax.
11. Ready for bed by 7:00 pm
12. In bed, lights out by 8:00 pm.

Race Day Schedule:
Saturday, March 31st, 2007
Race Day!!!
. Wake.
Coffee pot on.
Shower, brush teeth, put on contacts, apply sunblock, deodorant, baby powder, and dress.
Eat breakfast—juice, oatmeal with fruit (raisins and banana).
Stretch and meditate. Relaxation techniques.
4:00a. Leave for race.
Arrive 4:30-4:40a. Dismount bike. Final tire pressure check. Kiss Jason goodbye. Pack gear up (backpack) and bike to transition area (1-2 miles) WITH HELMET ON!
5:00a. Arrive at transition area.
Set up transition.
Place bike on rack.
Clearly mark with chalk and/or balloon.
Lay towel on top for drying and beneath for setting up stuff.
Check water bottles in bike. Check tire patch kit. Check race nutrition stuff in Bento box.
Lay out bike shorts on bike. Put appropriate items in pockets (Cliff Bocks, Thermolyte tablets, Fig Newtons).
Make sure helmet adjusted properly. Put sunglasses and race belt with number in helmet and helmet on hoods of bike.
Make sure race numbers on bike.
Put baby powder in socks and socks on top of bike shoes.
Lay jersey, vest, arm warmers, gloves, headband under bike shoes, in case necessary. Lay running shoes with Quick-Tie laces, fresh socks with baby powder, visor, fuel belt behind bike shoes.
Empty trash bag for wetsuit under transition towel.
Go to the bathroom.
Get body marked.
Study transition area exits and entrances. Picture in mind.
Go for light jog.
Go to the bathroom.
Put on sunscreen.
Stretch. Deep breathing exercises. Relaxation techniques. Listen to iPod.
Go to the bathroom.
6:15a. Final evaluation transition area.
6:25a. Exit transition area (closes at 6:30).
Put on bodyglide and wetsuit. Relax. Take goggles, cap(s), and ear plugs.
6:40a. Watch first few waves in water to evaluate swim. First wave starts at 6:40 am.
Move around to keep warmed up. Relaxation exercises. Jog to warm up.
Jump in water as soon as possible. Dive in to get acclimated as quickly as possible. Practice deep breathing exercises and swimming relaxed, long, easy strokes to warm up.
Position towards back with other slow swimmers.
Start! (~7:00-7:30 am)
Swim 1.2 miles. Estimated time: 40-45 min. (Time limit: 1:10 or 9:10 am).
All buoys will be on the left every 100 meters.
Practice bilateral breathing. Switch sides every 20 strokes. Count to help settle into relaxed pace. Swim more to left side on way out to help orient.
On return, can breathe more on right side because shoreline helps to orient (dominate side). Still switch occasionally to check location.
Kick final 100 meters to warm up legs.
T1(~5 min):
Exit swim. Remove top half of wetsuit, then cap, goggles, and earplugs.
Run to transition area (about 300 meters). Take it easy to allow breathing to return to normal and also to avoid slipping.
As enter T2, orient using preplanned landmarks.
Locate bike.
Take off wetsuit. Put into bag.
Change into bike shorts. Put jersey on. Dry feet, put on socks, bike shoes and fasten.
i. If cold, put on arm warmers at this time.
ii. If really cold put on gloves, headband, and vest. Will decide this BEFORE starting.
Put on sunglasses and helmet. Fasten.
Dismount bike from rack and trot to mounting area.
Carefully clip in, (avoid falling), and WE’RE OFF!
Bike 56 miles (estimated time 3-3.5 hrs; start deadline is 9:20 am; finish deadline is 1:30 pm or 4:10h).
Steep hill 800 meters in.
Take time to warm up first few miles. Settle into pace.
Pace for first 25 miles (flat and fast—don’t blow up).
Big hills last 26 miles—rolling with 3 challenging climbs, especially corkscrew climb at 35 for about 10 miles).
Avoid aid stations, relying on own hydration and nutrition instead. Use them as landmarks—there are 3: 13, 25, and 45 miles.
On steep descent at end, do not pass or go over 25 mph to avoid penalties.
Prepare for headwind final 11 miles (even though flat).
Last 5 miles, slow up on drink and food. Also, focus on spinning more to prepare for transition to run.
T2 (must finish bike by 1:30 pm; est time for T2 ~2-3 min):
Rack bike.
Remove helmet and shoes.
May also remove sunglasses. If wearing bike shorts, will want running shorts (need to change in port-a-john).
If wearing bike jersey, will probably want running singlet.
Put on new socks and new shoes with quick-tie laces.
Put on fuel belt.
Run 13.1 miles (est time 2-2.5 hrs). (must finish by 4:00 pm or 2.5 h, although will be allowed to unofficially finish afterwards).
3 miles out, 3 miles back, 2x.
Some sand at beginning and finish (200 meters).
FINISH!!! (est. time 6-6.5 hrs.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sick and Kate Major sighting

Maybe this is a good sign, I don't know. But it's freaking me out. I knew I was going to come down with something. My boss and several coworkers all had colds last week. One particularly nasty and vengeful coworker actually went out of her way to purposely cough on me every time I walked past. One of those times was with my tray of food for lunch...which I then ate. Stupid, stupid. I should have taken more precautions.
Blissfully ignorant, Monday was great. I went to my masters swim class and had a fantastic session. I was able to swim 2600 meters without feeling tired at the end. This is a first. Normally, I feel trashed like my shoulders are going to fall off. The coach worked on getting me to swim more relaxed and not hyperextending during the reach phase. It worked! Amazing! I actually felt refreshed and energized when I got out of the pool.
Had a great day at work and ended the day with a zippy little bike ride up the coast. 22 miles, 17-18 mph. Not bad. Afterwards, went to pick up a fresh pair of running shoes. Don't worry y'all--it's the same brand I've been wearing for years and years. It's just that my current pair is on the end of its lifespan, and my knee has been acting up. I routinely get a fresh pair of running shoes for half marathons a few weeks out. This is no different.
Anyhoo, on the way home, felt an odd, achy fatigue creeping over me. Then the sneezing and sniffling started (no sore throat though--good sign?). Jason made a fabulous dinner, and for the first time since I can remember, I wasn't hungry. I took a few nibbles and knew I was doomed. Jason concoted a marvelous cup of Mighty Leaf (best tea in the world) citrus chamomile tea for me, which I drank and went to bed. Spent the whole night sniffling and sneezing.
Woke up Tuesday and knew I had a cold. Unfortunately, I had to go in for an important experiment, which I slogged through before going home in the afternoon. I took the rest of Tuesday off and took a long nap. Have been drinking LOTS of fluids. Taking Zicam. Luckily, I had already started taking Zicam Monday morning as insurance against a cold. Say what you will about the stuff; I think it works! At least it can't hurt. Wednesday morning (today), I already feel better. I want to get over this thing quick so I took today to work at home and rest up.
Yes, I'm freaked out that I contracted a cold so close to race day. However, I think I'm on top of this one. It seems to be already passing through. I'm hoping it won't have any long-lasting effects on my fitness or endurance. Plus, at least I have over a week before race day so it seems there may be just enough time to recover. Also, it ensures I'll have a good taper, right? Fully rested! Isn't there a superstition as well about many triathletes getting a cold during the taper only to come back and kick ass on race day? Well, I'm making it one. This is my "taper cold."

Oh, another thing. I'm dropping off my bike at B&L for a final, race-prep tune-up. I feel very foggy in my cold med-induced haze. I keep wondering why several staff members are running around the store in a mad frenzy. I look to my left. There's a cute, petite, very tan woman with ENORMOUS calf muscles and an endearing Australian accent standing there with a confident air about her and a small entourage in her midst. I get the feeling that I'm standing next to someone important, not because she's arrogant, no, quite the contrary (she seemed very sweet, friendly, relaxed, and easy-going). It was just this feeling that came over me (and perhaps the way everyone around her seemed about to fall into the Wayne's World, "I'm not worthy," pose.

I look to my right and this amazing bike is sitting there. Sleek gray carbon with orange points--an Orbea Orca. I look closer and there's a cute little cartoon of a smiley face on it (see pic to right). Next to it, a name monogrammed onto the top tube, which reads, "Kate Major." I'm standing next to Kate Major. Yes, Kate Major. As in Ironman World Champion, Kate Major. I backed away slowly, realizing I was standing between her and her bike, which has to be bad mojo.
Turns out she needed a new wheel for her training ride that afternoon. Unfortunately, I felt way too sickly to tell her what I big fan I am, or even say hi. Well, I may have clammed up even without the cold. All I could do was to keep reminding myself not to stare. However, I did feel pretty good about dropping my bike off at that store for a tune-up. Just seeing her did make me feel a little bit better. First, Michellie, now Kate. And I'll be seeing both of them in Oceanside in 10 days. It's nice to be living in the land of pros.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Freaking Out & St. Patrick's Day 10K

I guess this is completely normal for the taper phase of training. But I am seriously wigging. Work has been super stressful. Combine that with lack of exercise and you get one very unhappy Rachel.

I gave a horrible lab meeting on Tuesday. Didn't have enough time to work on it since the recent departure of a coworker has more than quadrupled my workload. Add the conference in Borrego Springs from last week and it boiled down to 24 hours of cramming for the meeting. I was very fatigued and blundered my way through it but my confidence has been dashed...again. Needless to say, work has been stressful. Crying a lot. Lots of negative thinking.

I know it will get better. Gotta keep at it. Day by day. I have great friends and a great husband. Jason has been very helpful and supportive. But this next year is going to be tough. Why did I choose such a particularly stressful career?

Last week, I had a very solid week and was able to complete almost all my planned workouts. The desert (Anza Borrego) was very hot and dry so I ended up having to cut my bike short (40 miles instead of 60) but it was still a good effort. Also, I didn't get my ocean swim in but I did one the week before, and I can get in the ocean a few times before race day so it's all good. I did notice some pretty significant fatigue towards the end of the week. I've also been feeling a little burned out. I get overwhelmed when I think about long workouts. I think I'm walking that overtraining edge. However, we managed a fantastic 14 mile run last Sunday (3/11), which felt like a solid accomplishment (and the farthest I've ever gone).

Only problem is that I tweaked my right knee. I could feel it during the run, especially after mile 10 but the endorphins masked the pain superbly. When I stopped, I could barely walk and was having a hard time trying to jog across the street for brunch. I'm pretty sure it's related to my weak hip abductors/IT band/stabilizer muscles. I've been to a physical therapist before for related injuries. It's all about biomechanics. Plus, it's on the outside of the knee--usually an IT thing. I was pretty worried about it. Kept it elevated the rest of the day with ice on it and took massive doses of ibuprofen. Continued ice and ibuprofen through Wednesday. Got a deep tissue massage on Monday. Ouch! Really helped though. Think it's feeling a lot better. However, I've been very conservative. Haven't really tried it out yet.

So Monday and Tuesday were well-earned days off. Wednesday, I had a terrific 30 mile bike up the coast. Felt terrific. Unfortunately, Thursday and Friday were unintential days off. I felt completely frazzled and tired and honestly didn't feel like it. Saturday, we did a St. Patrick's Day 10K (, which was fantastic. It was the first time I ran since my long run last week. I was really worried about my knee. It felt stiff the first 2 miles, then it warmed up and felt fine for the next 2. Last 2, I could feel a twinge in the knee, which never escalated above a 3 (on a 1-10 pain scale; last weekend, it reached a 6.5-7 at it's worst) and would phase in and out. I actually sprinted at the end and felt really good afterwards. Plus, I was really happy with my time--finished in ~55:00, which meant I was able to maintain just about 9 min/mile pace. This is actually an improvement for me, believe it or not! I've gotten so slow with all the LSD training; I was happy I could eek out some speed. (I've been icing and ibuprofen-ing my knee again to play it safe).

All in all, I'm really disappointed with this week. I keep beating myself up more for not doing more workouts. I only biked once and ran once! I know this is the taper but that's ridiculous. On the other hand, maybe I needed the time. I had really been pushing it and I was tired, mentally and physically. Maybe this will ensure that I will be well-rested. I can't build any more fitness in these past few weeks anyway but I can tire myself out and injure myself. Plus, my training has been VERY consistent. Probably more than what I need. On the other hand, I'm sure I can lose fitness if I don't maintain.

As you can see, I'm a little stir-crazy right now. I'm very good at freaking myself out. My instinct tells me I'm on track. I was listening to my body and needed the rest, especially since I'd been walking that overtraining line.

Here's my plan: For this next week, I will focus on maintaining the same frequency of workouts to ease my mind but will back off on the duration to allow my body to rest. Basically, a maintenance week where I will cut to 50% of my hardest week, which will be about 7 hours. I'll keep my swimming up since that's pretty gentle on the body. Also, I'll still bike 3x but my weekend ride will only be 40 miles. I still want to do weights 1-2x this week but will make sure it's in the maintenance phase and refrain from going all out. I will also do them earlier in the week since I will not do any weights the final 10 days before race day. For my runs, since my knee has been aching, I will back off to 2 shorter runs for this week, a 4 mile, and a 6-8 miler (6 if the knee hurts; 8 it if it feels good).

Monday: swim am; bike pm. Tuesday: weights am; run (track) pm. Wednesday: swim am; bike (spin trainer) pm. Thursday: weights am; ocean swim pm. Friday: off (massage). Saturday: 40 mile bike. Sunday: 6-8 mile run.

The following Monday-Friday will be the final days before race day (Saturday, March 31st). I will do lots of rest with only very short workouts to keep my mind at ease and my muscles loose. I plan on doing 2 very short swims, 1 short 15 mile bike, and 1 short 3 mile run with the run and bike being earlier in the week. No weights but lots of Yoga and stretching and a massage on Wednesday.

Other race prep stuff: Bike is going in for a tune up this week. I'm also getting a new pair of running shoes this week and have already made a list of things I need to pack for race day as well as a detailed hour-by-hour schedule for race day. Looks like I will be getting up between 3 and 3:30 am! I have lots more details about the race itself that I've gotten from other pros in the area that have raced it before. Gotta love living near the race venue! Anway, I'm totally freaked and extremely excited. It's coming fast. Not only that, but it keeps my mind off work!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

10 Signs Your Half-IM Training is Working

1. You eat so much that all your friends think you're pregnant or have a tapeworm.
2. You sleep 10 hours a night and still need a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon.
3. You have a hard time finding a group to ride with on the weekends because the "A" group is too fast but the "B" group doesn't go far enough.
4. Happiness is riding or running until you're tired, sore, exhausted and can barely walk.
5. You become neurotic, cranky, and borderline psychotic on rest weeks and a monster during the taper.
6. You feel like you're undertrained if you're not doing at least 2 workouts a day, and 3 is better.
7. You annoy all your coworkers by insisting on taking the elevator up 1 floor because you want to "rest your legs."
8. When waiting in line at the grocery store, you casually stretch your quads, calves, and hamstrings.
9. A 20 mile bike, 4 mile run, and power weight session has become a nice, little workout.
10. Your resting pulse and blood pressure have dropped so low you have to take a long time to stand to avoid passing out.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Work & Play in the Desert

Just had the trainer ride of my life. It was late but I was in the mood. Even dimmed the lights to set the atmosphere. Gotta love Coach Troy. It was a good Spinerval session. Think it was the 60 min Time Trial DVD. I was just in the zone. Had some good songs come onto my iPod, felt the adrenaline pour through my veins, and just let 'er rip. Good fun. Good times. My legs are sore.

I'm off to Borrego Springs (in the Anza-Borrego Desert) for the rest of the week for a conference. Yup, work stuff. However, we're staying at a very nice resort, complete with gym, running trails, and swimming pools (and golf courses, if you're into that stuff).'s within driving distance so I'm bringing Bluebell (my bike)! Already plotted out my rides on GMaps. We get 6 hours in the afternoons between sessions to ourselves to go play. Play for me is going to be fanatical amounts of exercise. This is my biggest heavy volume week. It couldn't be more perfect. Who would have thought work and play would mesh so nicely?

Off to go play in the desert. Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Moving On

Babs--quite an expert on R&R. Maybe we should take note!

This weekend was so nice to put a stressful week in perspective and move on. I was finally able to focus on each day as it came, and the key workout for the day. I didn't try to make up for missed workouts, and I decided not to feel guilty about it. This is a new one for me. Afterall, this week was supposed to be a "Maintenance" week anyway. Looking back at my stats for the week, I still logged in plenty of hours, while scaling back, so maybe it worked out for the best. 8 hours of training is nothing to sneeze at, eh?

Saturday we did a nice 52 mile coastal ride. It was WINDY. I mean like, hurricane windy. I had a hard time keeping the bike upright at times and, in low areas, close to the coast, I got pelted with sand. I got sandblasted. Literally. Ouch! For some reason, when the going gets really tough on the bike with a big hill or severe wind, I've adopted a much more "Bring it," attitude than in previous years. I love having to focus every part of my mind and body on the extreme physical task ahead of me and being forced to tune everything else out. Sometimes it's turning the pedals over up a steep grade or holding the bike up in extreme winds, or both, but it's just man vs. nature. Primal. I love it. That's why we're out there doing this, right? To feel....ALIVE.

The bike felt great. Only problem is a screw fell out of one of my pedals at mile 30, and I had to finish only partly clipped in. Gotta haul the bike to the shop tomorrow to fix that. Jeez. What a pain. I was stubborn though. I finished out the ride. I was in the zone. I just had to go with it, no matter how windy it was or how my bike was behaving. Somedays, you just have to go.

Sunday we did our "long" run but I scaled back this week since running is so stressful. My knees have been a bit achy, indicating me that I've been pushing it. We did a gentle 8. I didn't feel too sore or tired at the end and chatted the whole time with friends in our group. The miles flew by, and the battery in my watch died yesterday so I went sans watch. Felt great.

I feel refreshed and happy that I listened to my body this week. I actually tried to push through my stress and fatigue and started some workouts on Thursday and Friday. Hooked my bike up to the trainer and did the 10-minute rule to see if my mind was psyching my body out. It wasn't. 10 minutes in, I felt just as crappy. Same thing happened on Friday while trying to lift weights, a gentler, more relaxed workout. My body said, "Nope." I admit, I was pissed both times, but I listened. I stopped, had some tea, and went to bed. It's the first time, I've ever bagged a workout like that. Normally I push through. But I realized I was going to get absolutely 0 benefit from that philosophy, while good 'ole-fashioned rest was what I needed.

I feel good as I enter my final week of training before my 3-week taper. That's right folks. We're beginning the 4-week countdown. Yes, I'm freakin' excited! This is going to rock!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Work vs. Triathlon--Can We Say Stressed?

This week has not gone as planned. Work has been kicking my ass. I feel like I just can't balance work with triathlon as well as I would have liked. Lab just sucked it out of me this week. One of my colleagues is leaving, and I'm taking over his stuff, which is a mixed blessing. I'm completely overwhelmed but I get a quantum-leap jump start on my research, which will be wonderful 6 months from now. Anyway, lab has been ultra-stressful, and, instead of feeling productive in lab at the expense of training, I just feel drained. However, unfortunately, I don't feel like I've accomplished anything in lab this week. I know I have but it's all intangible, planning this and that, learning this, etc. It's been go, go, go, meeting, meeting, seminar, meeting, get yelled at by the P.I., criticism from this person, pressure from that person. All of a sudden it's 5 pm, and I'm shaking from being yelled at all day and not having eaten since breakfast. And then I have to rush to a 6 pm class that lasts 3 hours, completely ruining my entire evening. I can't wait for things to begin to settle down into a routine (even if it's hectic).

Anyway, by the time I was completely wrung out and hung to dry from work, all I could was stuff candy bars down my throat before collapsing in the bed. I don't remember being this stressed out for a looong time (okay, graduate school; not that long ago). At first, I felt even more stressed out that I didn't get a workout in. However, after much reflection, I think this week is going to end up for the best workout-wise.

Monday was a much-needed rest day and massage. Tuesday was a really tough masters swim class. Wednesday was a great, relaxing run. Thursday and Friday went downhill and were unplanned rest days. Okay so I'll be behind on my workouts for the week. I'll still get in a nice long bike on Saturday and long run on Sunday, maybe even a swim and some weights, if I feel up to it. To be honest, after the last 3 weeks of solid training, and increasing volume, this week should be an R&R week. I was pushing it to expect it to be anything else. So maybe this will allow my body to completely heal from the last 3 weeks.

Next week, I plan on pushing it. My final week of training before entering my 3 week taper. Then....race day. I can't believe how close it is! I'm so excited! These last 20 weeks have just flown. 20 weeks. Can you believe it? I've put in 20 weeks of solid training. I feel strong. I feel confident. I know I can do the distance, something I didn't believe before. My body is an amazing machine that can do things I still can't wrap my mind around. So I think I can be a little forgiving on a few stressful days in lab and some candy bars, eh?