Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Taper Blues

Taz is my taper coach. He has it figured out. Like Taz, I've been needing LOTS of sleep. Like 9 hours a night plus 2 hour naps. God, I've felt like complete shit. I guess that's normal. I hope so. I bumped into a friend at CA 70.3 and was describing my taper symptoms:
"I'm tired and cranky all the time. I'm sore and bloated and gaining weight."
"Sounds like a personal problem," she replied with raised eyebrows. I caught myself and laughed. I had no idea how similar tapering was to PMS!

Another girl in my swim class is very pregnant. Her due date is the same day as my Ironman. We were comparing symptoms:
"My ankles are swollen," she said, lifting up the cuffs of her pants.
"My feet don't fit into shoes," I replied (after my 20 mile run).
"I sleep all the time."
"Me too!"
"My back hurts."
"Me too!"
"I have weird cravings for hamburgers," she said.
"And french fries and milkshakes!" I added.
"You do sound like your pregnant!"
I had no idea how similar the symptoms of Ironman training and pregnancy were. She wished me luck on my upcoming Ironman, and I wished her luck on hers.

The first week of my taper is complete. After my "final push" weekend, I was exhausted and had stomach problems Monday through Wednesday. This is not abnormal for me--I suffer from IBS and get flare-ups when I'm under extreme stress. Considering I'm doing my first Ironman in less than 2 weeks, have to present at a huge conference the following week for lab, and am going through a divorce, I guess I was long overdue for an IBS flare-up. Thankfully, after consulting with my doc, I seem to have it under control now with no weight loss--very important during my carbo-loading period (when I'm expected to gain 2% of my total body weight due to water retention--1 gram of carbs holds 2 grams of water=bloating; yea).

I have been backing waay off on workouts. My goal was to reduce 30% during Taper Week 1, 50% Taper Week 2, and 75% Taper Week 3/race week. However, experts (Joe Friel) always warn to use that as a guideline and to back off more if needed. The number one rule during a taper is to let your body heal, rest, and recharge from all the heavy Ironman training. I guess the fatigue I felt during week 1 meant that the taper was working. They say if you're not itching for your taper workout, you should back off (intensity and/or volume) or skip it all together. I've been heeding this advice carefully and using a mixture of backing off and bagging workouts in lieu of extra stretching and naps. And after calculating Taper Week 1's volume, I ended up reducing about 50%. Not bad, not bad at all. But it's frustrating and a bit anxiety-inducing. When exactly does the fatigue (phase I) go away? My guess is by the middle of this week, I'm going to start to feel really good (phase II--superhero phase). Then, phase III begins: anxiety and pre-race jitters.

Taper Breakdown (to date):
Monday 3/24: off (massage)
My massage therapist freaked out because my legs and feet were swollen after my crazy "final push" weekend and then sitting around all day Monday exhausted. Hmmm. That's why I couldn't fit my feet into shoes! Felt so much better after she worked on me. I could feel my lymphs draining. Yummy.
Tuesday 3/25: fast 16 mile ride on the coast
Tried out demo race wheels (Zipp 606s) for the first time on Torch. Man, can I fly on those things! That was fun. I headed out at 25 mph and promptly flatted on the way back. Shit! Luckily, a good friend from B&L (http://blbikes.com/) recognized me and helped me change it. I was a little freaked out about the tire falling off the wheel so he escorted me back to my truck (I later learned that's a really difficult feat to accomplish). The awesome Dan "Dan O" Rock from B&L drove by (after the store had closed) to check on me and make sure all was well. Talk about a full-service bike store! The next day, he showed me how to change a tubular and had me change it by myself several times. Awesome! I had no idea it was so easy! I feel really confident now if I flat on race day. I'm kind of glad I flatted so I could learn how!
Wednesday 3/26: 14 mile ride on 56 bike path
I bombed this one. This was supposed to be 17 miles, followed by a 3 mile brick run. I felt like such crap that I stopped at mile 7 to re-evaluate. After which, I experienced a spell of such severe light-headedness and nausea that I turned around and headed home....s-l-o-w-ly. WTF? I bagged the run, of course, and went to bed early.
Thursday 3/27: 2700 masters swim and 5 mi run
First day I woke up not feeling sick to my stomach! Yea! I had a sluggish but good swim. Felt better after 2000 meters when the workout was almost done. Endurance is still there. Check. Hate the sluggish feeling though. My run in the afternoon went well. Kept an even pace and had a good rhythm but sluggishness still there. Like a slug.
Friday 3/28: 48 mile ride up coast
Donned my full race regalia (aero helmet and everything) and headed up to Oceanside to get myself all excited about CA 70.3 on Saturday. Felt like crap. Very tired and sluggish. Saw other cyclists getting ready to race on Saturday. They all wished me luck, thinking I was racing as well. I just smiled and wished them luck too. For some reason, this ride felt like 80 miles, not 48. Ugh. Like molasses. I just focused on spinning and keeping an even rhythm. Almost got hit by a car turning into a parking lot on the way home. God, that got my adrenaline running. All I could think was, "not this close to race day." Got my priorities in order, huh?
Saturday 3/29: Day "Off"
Supposed to be an "Off" day after how crappy I felt all week but going to CA 70.3 to cheer ended up being far from a recovery day. I don't consider waking up at 3 am and walking 6 miles up and down the race course a recovery day. My legs didn't think so either. I was EXHAUSTED by the end of the day. On the other hand, it was exhilarating and awesome to cheer all my friends on and see the pros. The electric race atmosphere was infectious. I had race-jitters by proxy. I was physically and emotionally spent by the end of the day....and it was TOTALLY worth it. I had a blast! Awesome job, you guys!
Sunday 3/30: 4 mile Run
This was supposed to be a 90 minute run. However, I played too hard on the BB court earlier in the day. Don't really know what came over me but I spent about 60 minutes, dribbling, doing lay-ups, rebounding missed baskets (which was many), and shooting 3 pointers and free throws before I realized I was tired. My arms and quads were SO sore on Monday!!! Oops! Felt exhausted on my run and cut it short. I felt good--no pain and good rhythm. Just tired. When I continued to feel tired at mile 2, I knew I wasn't going to "run" out of it. I realized there was absolutely no benefit in going farther during my taper so I turned around and headed home.
Monday 3/31: A True Off Day
I did nothing but sleep, sleep, get a massage, eat, and get more sleep. It was great.

Woke up this morning feeling much more rested. Let's see what the next taper workout brings....

PS--Just found out I got in to the Nike Wo
men's Marathon (October 19, 2008)!!! Yippee! My first marathon!


Wes said...

Yea, make sure you get SOME REST :-) Sorry to hear you are going through alot of stuff, but you're a tough gal!! You could do very little over the next two weeks and you'll still be MORE THAN READY. Keep everything smooth. Work out the jitters. Be strong!!

TriGirl Thea said...

I want to be able to offer you words of wisdom, but since I've never trained for an Ironman, all I really have to offer is encouragement.

My guess is that you need so much sleep because your body is busy rebuilding all the little clinks in your armour, that have built up as a result of all the punishment you've given it over the last few months. Which means that in a little while you'll not only FEEL great, but you'll be stronger and more capable too.

Not long to go now sister. Keep your chin up, and know you'll get through this.

beth said...

rachel- great post- the taper sounds pretty challenging. hopefully things cleared up last week and you'll feel strong by the end of week 2. with everything you have going on, make sure to include a "mental taper" with your physical one. giving your brain a little rest with everything you have going on may be needed!

jameson said...

your training up to your taper has been killer, you've done the hard work, so don't let the sluggishness get to you... it will just stress you out. With the work you have put in you should be very confident.

I know what you mean about watching the 70.3. Beth and I were just sitting around the house after the race and I remeber telling her I felt like I had just done the race because I was exhausted.

Marcy said...

Ahhhhh see, you all ready and set to have kids ;-)

CONGRATS on getting into the Nike Marathon, that should be sweet!

Sara said...

Wow your life is crazy right now - no wonder your IBS is going crazy!! I hear ya with nerves - I'm an IBS-C (vs D) but whenever I'm nervous that quickly changes!! Right now I'm more dealing with extreme bloating. But now it seems like nothing b/c I just know what you must be going through right now!!

Sleep tight!

Ange said...

What a tough process taper is. I am impressed by your ability to listen to your body and give yourself the extra break when needed. I think that's great. I battle with that but am goign to learn from you. It sounds like you're doing it just right and it'll all come together for you on race day.

TriSaraTops said...

This made me laugh--you're right, taper is like being pregnant! Both are very uncomfortable, make you antsy, and make you feel pretty bloated. :)

You are going to ROCK IMAZ! Rest up and listen to your body--hope this week goes well!