Saturday, May 31, 2008

The 7-Day Bike Experiment

Gas prices are now over $4/gallon in San Diego. Plus, I totally missed Bike Commute Week 2 weeks ago. Therefore, I decided to embark on a new journey, an experiment, if you will. Afterall, I am a scientist.
Beginning Monday, June 2nd, I will bike instead of drive, everywhere I need to go. For the next 7 days, I will not be allowed to make any forward progress in a motor vehicle. I will have to rely on my bikes or my own 2 feet. Strider and Bluebell (my commuter bike and old road bike) will be put to the test for most of this work. The experiment will last through Sunday, June 8th. I will blog about it each day. I hope you follow along and maybe are even inspired to participate!
Pedal on...

Friday, May 30, 2008

In the Midst of Giants

Last night, I squeezed in a quick 4-mile run after work before rushing up to the Paloma Theatre in Encinitas for the first public viewing of Ultramarathon Man, a documentary of Dean Karnazes by JB Benna (coming soon to a theater near you). If I haven't said it before, I'll say it again--I am SO lucky to live in San Diego!

The documentary focused on Dean Karnazes recent accomplishment of completing 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. It also highlighted his efforts to motivate and inspire average, everday sedentary folk to get off the couch and get active. He spends a lot of time speaking and running with children at schools to illustrate the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle. Because my career focuses on cardiovascular research, this struck a chord with me. Obesity is a serious problem in our country.

The best part was that Dean (and his producer JB) were actually there, eager to answer questions! He had a light and energy about him that was infectious. He clearly loves running and sharing his passion with others. He was very inspiring. I understand now why he was voted as one of the nation's most influential people (Time).

David Goggins (another world-famous ultra-marathoner; Badwater, anyone?) also made a guest appearance. He was amongst us mere mortals, watching the documentary.

David Goggins

Living in San Diego affords me the most incredible opportunities. I walk amongst giants, and they all inspire me. The seed has now been planted in my brain. Like a stubborn weed, it grows, and I can't seem to eliminate it from existence. I want to do an ultra.....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Less Is More--Part Deux

After my massage last night, I had an hour left of sunset. Perfect for a quick out-and-back coastal bike ride. I popped Torch out of the truck, hopped on and was off. My computer wasn't working. At first, this infuriated me. A few minutes later, I was relieved. I was free of worrying about my pace. All I had to think about was making it back to the truck before it got dark. I settled into a relaxed pace and began to enjoy myself. I turned around in Carlsbad and headed south as the sun began to sink into the horizon. Now, I was racing the sunset--my favorite. The ocean was a deep turquoise, flecked with gold as the fading sunlight scattered across the water. I slowed down to watch the last remnant of the sun dip into the ocean. Then, I pedaled the last few miles back to the truck.

I slept like a baby for 9 hours last night. Woke up this morning, and went on another short ride before work. My new philosophy is to do my workouts for health and mental sanity. I will keep the same frequency as before (so I can sleep at night) but drastically reduce the volume. Intensity will be based on how I'm feeling. I'm not currently in "training." I'm just having fun.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Less is More

I've been in a rut. I'm in training, and I don't really know why. It's been hard after IMAZ to get excited for a race season full of sprints and Olympics. So I decided to work on speed, fully forgetting that just because speed workouts are shorter, they require more recovery. I've been hard on myself, killing myself in every workout, and beating myself up because I'm "slow".

I've been skipping morning workouts. However, I feel guilty the rest of the day about it. Today, after missing yet another morning masters swim class, I decided to bite the bullet and squeeze in a noon masters session. It was very disruptive to leave work, drive to UCSD, park, change, warm up, and start the workout. (After, I had to shower and grab something to eat, then drive back--major time suck). However, once I started swimming, I didn't want to get out.

I purposely swam in the slow lane. I have been pushing myself so hard and getting my ass kicked in faster lanes, and I wanted to take it a bit easier. It felt nice to lead. I swam at a comfortable pace.

The workout was crazy hard ( I decided I didn't want to swim 3200 meters. First, I had to get back to work. Second, I didn't want to kill myself. I swam slowly but comfortably. After 2100 meters, I hopped out, totally proud of myself. I had squeezed in a swim workout, hadn't beat myself up, and felt mentally better afterwards. Totally (almost) guilt-free.

Guess I learned something today. Sometimes, less is actually more!

Friday, May 23, 2008

1st Tri Club Aquathlon of 2008

Thursday evening, I headed to La Jolla Shores for the first TCSD aquathlon of 2008. It was cold, rainy and stormy, absolutely unheard of in these parts at this time of the year. I almost bagged it but decided to at least drive down and check it out. Upon arrival, I was impressed by the large crowd of people amassing by the lifeguard tower. Like a sheep being led to slaughter, I was hooked.

I signed up and got a temporary chip. Timing mats and everything. These things are so official! I heard the water was 69--also unheard of for this time of year. I tested it with my toe; the rumor was true. No wetsuit for me! Yippee! I hate my wetsuit--swimming without one is so freeing; plus it makes for a wicked fast transition.

I went in for a warm-up to test the water. The waves were 6-feet tall--ridiculous for the Shores! It was kind of unnerving--these massive walls of water roaring towards me. I took a deep breath, and dove underneath, only to emerge to find another huge dome of water cresting over me. I took a deep breath, and dove underneath, popped up on the other side, then repeated. By the time I got out past the breakers, I was huffing and puffing. That was a workout in itself! I quickly body-surfed back in and lined up for the start.

Unfortunately, one disadvantage to not wearing a wetsuit is freezing your ass off when you get out of the water. I did the whole body shiver, teeth chattering, goosebumps, everything--for several minutes until the whistle blew. We were off! Albeit, a little conservatively because of the giant waves. I took my time and hung out in the back, giving myself plenty of room to pick my way through the swells.

--a perfect storm--negotiating the waves

Once out past the breakers, the water was very choppy but swimming without a wetsuit set me a little deeper in the water, allowing myself to get better leverage. I felt very comfortable and only swallowed a little water. I got jostled, kicked and elbowed a ton! Remembering my swim tactics from IMAZ, I jostled, kicked and elbowed right back. Only to be met with more violent jostles, kicks and elbows. Guess we're upping the ante! Hey, don't I know you? Don't pretend you don't know me! I know where you live! Guess we San Diegans like it rough and tough in the open water, no matter who you are. That swim had more full-body contact than my Ironman swim!

Swimming with the current, I negotiated the 1000 meters with ease. Soon I had hit the 3rd buoy and was headed towards shore. I swam wide strokes, exaggerating the roll on my breathing side to look over my shoulder. I didn't want a sneak attack from a nasty wave from behind. I was very conservative, having wiped out pretty badly on the boogie board last Sunday and even ducked under a wave once or twice. Up on shore, my watch read 17:25--way fast for a "conservative" 1000 with lots of waves. Must have been a wicked strong current.

Transition was great. I took 2 seconds to throw my googles and cap on my towel and was off for a barefoot beach run on the packed sand where the water meets the turf--my favorite. Also my first of the season. The shod athletes, poor souls, were condemned to run the upper part of the beach, a narrow strip of deep sand, where an occassional wave drenched them anyway. Their futile attempts to keep their sucks dry were dashed by several rogue waves roaring up to the wall at high tide.

I skitted over the sand and flew down the beach, making up for last time. After the first mile, I settled into a nice rhythm. It always takes me a mile to warm up. My feet floated over the surface, barely touching the sand. On my second lap, I could feel blisters forming on my big toes, my ankles felt week and wobbly and my calves started aching. I convinced myself I was not running on glass--this was barefoot beach running. I have to get my body used to it again. It's wonderful to do short stints of barefoot running on soft surfaces once in awhile to toughen up your feet and ligaments. It also feels wonderful; very freeing.

I passed another couple of guys towards the end. Volunteers cheered our names. I heard footsteps quickening behind me, honing in for the final chase. I had been running pretty much all out for the last 3 miles. Did I have a kick left in me? I didn't think I did. But at the sound of those footsteps, somewhere from deep inside, I pulled it out. My steps quickenend and all of a sudden, I was sprinting. All out. And it felt so good. I bounded over the finish line with a big smile on my face (~23 minute 5K). I was ready to chat with old friends, meet new ones, and enjoy the huge spread of food laid out on picnic tables, before the tide came and washed it away.

--the final kick

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Trail Run Supersedes Track Workout

I had every intention of doing the Tri Club ( track workout. But I've been feeling stressed out and worn-down. Don't know why. Guess work, an Ironman, divorce, and robbery can do that to you. By 5 pm, I had absolutely no desire to run circles until I puked. Even more, I had no desire to be around other people. I don't really like people, in general. People say mean things. People do mean things. People exhaust me. I just wanted to be alone.

However, I still wanted to run. Torrey Pines State Park is about a mile north of where I work. Rated as a "Rave Run" in Runner's World, I feel quite spoiled. Any time I want, I can run out the door and experience spectacular views of the ocean. It seemed stupid not to. Addicted to music, I was a bit hesitant since the robbers stole my iShuffle. But the Torrey Pines trails called me.

I pulled on my running shoes and headed down the street at an easy pace. It was such a relief to slowly warm up and not worry about my speed, not feel ashamed at how slow I am, not worry about how I measure up to everyone else. No competition. To just be. I was in total control. If I wanted to run slowly, I could. If I wanted to run fast, that was okay too.

About a mile down the road, I headed down the South Broken Hill Trail. It wound around and around and down and down towards the beach below. The path was narrow and thickly lined with shrubs and bushes. Yellow and purple wispy flowers lined the path. Cottontail rabbits darted out of my way. Little birds zipped through the air in front of me from bush to bush. The trail turned so sharply this way and that, I couldn't see where it was going to take me next. Tree roots and rocks perilously jutted out of the ground. The trail descended steeply and was periodically lined with series of stairs that had to be bounded down.

I probably should have slowed down. Afterall, I could barely see where the path was leading to next, much less what was threatening to reach up out of the dirt and trip me. But I was running downhill. Steeply. And I love downhill. I decided to run faster. My feet floated, barely touching the ground. My brain was firing rapidly as I concentrated on my footwork, dancing in zig zags to find the best spot for each footstep to land. Certain portions of the trail were thick with deep sand. I bounded onto the banks of the trail, searching for the hard-packed terrain.

I reached the bottom of the trail and slowed to a walk, captivated by the spectacular view of the brilliant turquoise surf, breaking in a gentle frothy foam over hidden rocks. I breathed deeply, inhaling the thick, wet salty air. Feeling my heart rate plummet, I began jogging again.

The trail wound up steeply, snaking towards the top of the cliffs. I bounded up stairs, urging each foot higher to ensure that it would clear the step. My face was red and hot, and I gasped for breath sharply. I was redlining. All I could think about was running. Just keep running. No matter how steep. And air. I wanted air. More oxygen please. My thoughts were so totally consumed by the physical exertion of climbing the cliffs...nothing else mattered. Such total blissful suffering.

When I reached the car, I felt completely purged. At ease and at peace. I slept well last night. Until my alarm went off. Time to get up for masters swimming. Bring on the suffering.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sometimes It's Okay to DNS

DNS--Did Not Start

I was supposed to do Encinitas Sprint Triathlon this weekend. I was excited. I had never done this one before, and it's a secret goal of mine to do every local triathlon in the area at some point in my life. Living in San Diego, this goal becomes more ambitious with each passing year (too many races--I know, I know; such problems I have).

I registered on Saturday and previewed the transition area, the swim, the bike, the run. I pumped up the race wheels on Torch, pinned my bib number onto my race belt, and laid out my race clothes. I was ready.

Later that evening, I realized I had a pounding headache, felt exhausted, and was kind of naseous. I popped a Tigan for my tummy and went to bed at 9:30, setting 2 alarms for 4:25 and 4:30 am. Maybe it was the 4,800 feet of climbing in the 40 miles I had ridden that morning in East County in 90-degree heat (pretty smart, huh?). Maybe it was being robbed earlier in the week. Maybe it was being uprooted and living somewhere other than home for the past 5 days since I didn't feel safe in my own bed. Regardless, I was wiped.

I woke at 4:25 am. Laid in bed for 5 minutes, weighing the pros and cons. Debating. Justifying. Deliberating. When the second alarm went off at 4:30 am, the jury was in. I was out. I simply did not have it in me that morning to race. I felt sick and exhausted. I was not excited to race that morning. So I bailed.

I am not a pro. Triathlon-ing is my passion, my hobby, and I plan on keeping it as such. If I force myself to race "C" races on under-the-weather days, I will not last long in this demanding sport. It took a great amount of effort not to chastise myself yesterday for bowing out. But I know I did the right thing.

Right now, I'm happy to be back in my own bed. The bunnies are happy to be home. I'm still wrapping up loose ends from the robbery. Probably will be for a little while yet. However, I get to resume some semblance of a routine, and I look forward to this structure. I can't wait for my workouts the rest of this week!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Amateur Tri Girl Gets Robbed

I returned home from track practice Tuesday night and knew instantly something was amiss. All the drawers and cabinets on the hutch were ajar. The wooden box that contains the silver my grandma gave me was sitting on the floor. Babs and Taz ran up, begging for dinner. At least they were still okay. Pandora and Torch (and Slider, Bluebell, and Rocky) were still happily resting in their stalls. I proceeded through the apartment. All the drawers and doors to my closets, cabinets, and furniture were ajar, and all the lights were on. All the contents inside had been rifled through. The screens to the office window had been removed and put inside my closet. The front door was unlocked. I started leafing through my items, quickly realizing there were many things missing--jewelry, a camera, stereo, electronics, credit cards....that's when it dawned on me that I had been robbed.

Shaking, I called the police. They asked if the intruder was still in the apartment. I shuddered. I hadn't even thought of that. Luckily, they had probably left a long time ago. Another woman in the complex knocked on the door an hour later, clearly distraught. She had been robbed too. Apparently, it had occurred that afternoon. The police came and very thoroughly went through the "crime scene" and dusted for fingerprints. That stuff makes a mess! He got several off the screens and windows. The robbers had climbed in through the window (even though I live on the 2nd floor) and left through the front door. By the time the officer was through, it was almost 1 am. I was exhausted. He had commented that I seemed very composed. I'm tired and want to go to bed, officer! I thought. Unfortunately, I'm still exhausted because apparently, burglary is not good for one's REM sleep cycles. But I'm okay. And in the big scheme of things, this is just a small bump in the road. However it has taught me some valuable steps we can all take to protect ourselves.

How to Protect Yourself from Robbery:
1. Have renter's or home-owners insurance.
It's cheap and will save your ass. Do it. It's a no brainer.
2. Document and photograph everything you own.
Know serial numbers, model numbers, and values. Keep all receipts.
3. Keep very valuable documents in a safe deposit box at the bank.
I had a fire-proof safe in the closet. Not good enough. If I had my stuff in a safe deposit box, I would still have my social security card.
4. Scope out your apartment or home.
Look for easy access points--roof overhangs, openings onto the roof, weak locks, etc.
5. Check your locks.
Make sure the front doors all lock with a deadbolt. Consider a 2nd lock. Keep track of all your keys (including spares--the robbers got my spares).
6. Close up and lock everything when you leave.
This includes windows, folks. Set your alarm, if you have one. Leave blinds closed and lights on.
7. Have an escape route.
In the unfortunate situation that you are home when a thief enters, plan out what you will do. Always keep your cell phone with you. Consider locking your bedroom door at night. If you are on the 2nd floor, know where the fire escape is located.

What to do in the event of a robbery:
1. As soon as you realize you've been robbed, leave the premises. Do not enter until you are certain the intruder(s) has left.
2. Call the police immediately.
3. Change your locks, even if you aren't sure they have your keys.
Better to be safe than sorry.
4. Report all your accounts, credit cards, and bank cards as stolen.
Put a 90-day fraud alert out on your accounts using TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian to protect yourself from identity theft. Also, order a monthly credit report to keep track of any unauthorized loans or accounts opened in your name. Assume they have all this information and will use it.
5. File a claim with your insurance company.
You will need to make an itemized list of everything stolen.
6. Check with your neighbors.
Report the incident to your office, if you rent. Check with all your neighbors to see if they saw anything suspicious. Also, this will alert them for future incidents.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Grrrrr Face!

Laying down the hammer on Torch during Spring Sprint last weekend.

Ironman Training Guidelines

Life is moving waaay too quickly, and I have LOTS to talk about (not me; I never have anything to say) but before I move too far forward, I want to post a little bit about training for an Ironman....not that you asked....and I'm far from the expert on the matter but here's my 2 cents anyway:

These are the guidelines I used in training for Ironman Arizona:

1. Set goal(s).
I had 2--my A goal (to finish and have a good experience) and a B goal if conditions were favorable (to finish in 14 hours). Conditions were not favorable but having 2 goals made it more likely that I would achieve at least one of them.
2. Design your plan (or use a coach; I prefer to make my own).
I read several training plans before concocting my own. I used Joe Friel's Triathlete's Training Bible and Going Long, Paul Huddle and Roch Frey's 24 Weeks to an Ironman, and TCSD's Ironman Coach, Craig Zelent's Ironman Arizona Training Plan ( (simple, easy to follow, invaluable). I also used my previous training plans from my 2 Half-Ironmans as a template. I then worked backwards from the race-date to include:
a) 3-week taper
b) 3-week final build
c) 4 week-structured base periods with the 4th week a recovery week at 50% volume reduction
d) 4-week "Prep" period to introduce my body to regular training and to prepare for Ironman training
This leaves you with a minimum of 12 weeks. Since I was a newbie to the Ironman distance, I had extra time so I could include:
a) an extra "Ironman Prep" period between Prep and Base phases. This just gave my body a little extra time to adjust to the increase in volume. I've heard overtraining is really a result of being undertrained when starting your training plan. I cannot agree more. This extra "Prep" period made it less likely for my body to become overtrained with the unfathomable amount of training I faced.
b) an extra "Base" period. Again, since I was a newbie to the long distances, extra base is ALWAYS good. Also, since it's at a lower intensity, I felt it was relatively safe.
c) having extra time allowed me to alternate my run-heavy and my bike-heavy weeks so I avoided doing the dreaded "death" weekends (100 mile bike Saturday, 20 mile run Sunday--recipe for disaster--of course, I didn't follow my guidelines and did this one weekend anyway for kicks. I paid for it later the following week.).
3. 3 bikes, 3 runs, 3 swims per week (plus 2 weights).
My bikes and runs consisted of 2 shorter rides/runs mid-week (speed, hills, and/or tempo) and a long ride Saturday and long run Sunday. (Again, I alternated between run-focused and bike-focused weeks so when riding 100 miles on Saturday, I would only run 12 on Sunday; when running 20 on Sunday, I only rode 50 on Saturday).
My swims were mostly masters (swimming in the ocean in the winter sucks). I tried to do either a time-trial swim in the ocean or pool every other week but once a month was sufficient as well. Masters swimming was amazing in helping me prepare.
I find I don't really need them. They end up wearing me down too much, and I can't recover in time for my next work-out. However, I'm kind of a freak in that I run really well off the bike.
For those of you that crave bricks, I find it helpful to run for a short period of time after the long bike on bike-heavy weekends (make sure you don't have a 20 mile run planned on Sunday). Start with 10 minutes and work up to no more than 40 minutes. This brick run mostly tests that your pacing, nutrition, and hydration are dialed in on the bike.
Once a month, or every 6 weeks, I swap a mid-week bike and ride for an "Olympic brick". I combine a 20-30 mile time-trial tempo ride with a 4-6 mile brick run at Olympic distance race pace. It's a kick-ass workout that knocks out both a bike and run for the week in a clean swoop. Make sure your next day is an easy one; this one kicks my ass and requires recovery time.
There is a ton of dispute on whether or not to do weights when training for an Ironman. If you are a woman or older athlete, I highly recommend 2 sessions a week 20-40 minutes long. It highly increased my strength and endurance and also went great lengths to help prevent injury. That said, these workouts are the toughest to fit in, and as my training volume increased, these were the first to go, especially in the late phase of the base and build periods. When I was feeling especially tired, I chose to skip weights in favor of Yoga, stretching, or sleep and found this to be more beneficial. Also, reduce weights during the taper and do not lift weights the final 2 weeks before race day.
4. Key Workouts:
Long bike, long run, long swim.
Enough said. All the other workouts are like homework to prepare you for your long workouts. Slowly build each one every week so that you can ride 100 miles and run 20 miles (first-timers). You should be able to swim the entire 4000 meters and hop out of the water feeling fresh.
5. Recovery
I cannot say enough about recovery. I trained really hard, and I recovered hard. I think this is what saved me.
Always take 1 day off per week. Every 4th (3rd if you're feeling really ragged) week should be a recovery week at 50% reduced volume. I took 2 days off (Mon and Fri) during recovery weeks. Also, alternate easy days and hard days to allow ample recovery between workouts.
Plan extra time. You will need more sleep and you will need more food. A ton of both. It will freak you out. Just do it. Do not question the IronBeast that is awakened within. I consumed 3000-4000 cals a day (5'8", 130 lb female) and slept 10 at night and often needed another 90 minute nap as well. It was crazy. I also got a deep tissue massage 1x/week, and it totally saved me. This helped me recover very quickly after my tough weekends. I also stretched almost daily and did Yoga about 1x/week--also very helpful. Icing the lower legs after long runs and compression tights is also useful.

I found these guidelines really worked for me. Below is a spreadsheet of the specific guidelines I used to structure my key workouts in my 22-week IMAZ training plan (click on the image to enlarge it). Hope this helps. Please let me know if you have questions. Good luck to all training for your Ironman! I will be cheering everyone on at Ironman Arizona in November.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

And The Winner Is....

Thanks to everyone who played "Guess the Temperature"
on race day in Tempe.
The official high reported on for Sunday, April 13th in Tempe, Arizona was 94 degrees Farenheit. My total time was 14:40:47. Here were your answers:

1. Cvsurf guessed 96 degrees with a time of 13:42.
2. Sara guessed 93 degrees and 13:54.
3. Shawn guessed 100.3 degrees. Thankfully, it wasn't that hot!
4. Chad in the Arizona Desert guessed 97.
5. Wes guessed 94 degrees and 13:31.
6. Azra from the homeland (Tempe) guessed 95.
7. Jay guessed 96 degrees.
8. JeffM guessed 98 degrees.

And the lucky winner is.....(drumrull please).....
Wes from Woostock, Georgia! He will receive a brand-new Tri Club San Diego visor autographed by muah! What a lucky fellow!

Thank you all for playing! Stay tuned for more games and prizes to come!

Life Goes On...

I'm finishing up week 4 of my "unstructured" training period, recommended for recovery following an Ironman. The post-Ironman blues phase has faded into more of a stone-washed denim. I feel well-rested, fully recovered and am mapping out my training plan for the summer. I feel energetic, healthy, and rarin' to go. Honestly, I can't wait.

I can't wait for my summer races. Can't wait to work on speed. Long, at last, I finally get to work on speed. After months and months of base training, I get to go fast. Oh, boy! I'm chomping at the bit. In addition, I get to settle back into the comfort of a routine training plan. Since summer is around the corner, I also get to look forward to long days at the beach, playing in the surf and boogie-boarding. Finally, I can't wait to keep all you guys up-to-date with more race reports and training rides, which will continue to breathe life into this entity of a blog. Sometimes I wonder if I don't train/race to blog!

5/4/08 Spring Sprint
5/18/08 Encinitas Sprint
6/29/08 San Diego International
7/19/08 Camp Pendleton International
8/9/08 Camp Pendleton Sprint
8/24/08 Santa Barbara Tri (Long Course)
9/7/08 Gatorman (3 mi ocean swim)
10/19/08 San Fran Nike Women's Marathon

Yup! It's a full season!

This Sunday, I kicked off the '08 season with the Spring Sprint Tri . Always a favorite. Even though IMAZ was technically my first triathlon of '08, I felt like it ended a season. Closed a chapter in my life. Hence some depression that follows the ending of anything. With Spring Sprint, I opened a new door, started a new beginning and felt nothing but a wash of excitement as I crossed the finish line. With a full season ahead, I have A TON of things to look foward to. Let the games begin!

Don't worry. The saga of my so-called tri-life will continue....

Spring Sprint Mini-Race Report:
I had a fantastic race. With absolutely no expectations, I arrived calm and relaxed. Met up with a ton of friends. I warmed up by running an easy mile. Stretched. Got into the water early and swam back-and-forth. Avoided the jellyfish floating menacingly about. Peed in my wetsuit. Realized I had gotten in too early because I was freezing if I tried to get out.
I saw my wave lining up and joined them, seeding myself towards the back as I normally do. The horn blew and we were off...
I quickly realized I should have seeded myself up front. When swimming only 1/4 of a mile, cutting in and out of slower swimmers makes a difference on your time. The pack split into 2 groups, and I was caught amongst the slower swimmers. I squeezed my way to the front of the slower group and missed the draft for the faster group. Oops.
However, my sighting was spot on. First buoy--dead smack in the middle. Turn left, 2nd buoy. This was great! I had forgotten how quickly a 450 meter swim goes by. I felt strangely sentient for the swim-part of a triathlon; none of the disoriented fog I normally experience. 3rd buoy--Wham! 4th buoy--Boo-ya! Then turn left again. The 5th and last buoy was to the right. I noticed most of my wave swam waaay over towards the last buoy before cutting left again and swimming again. I decided to use my skills from geometry class and swim the straight line between 2 points (the shortest get the point). I abandoned the pack and cut left to swim straight in.
Out of the water, out of my wetsuit and into T1. Swim time: 9:30 minutes. Surprisingly slow. Oh, well. Not a big deal. Time to work on sprint sets in masters swimming! Yipee! T1 was pretty fast. I noticed many bikes were still on the rack. Since when did I get so competitive? Anyway, I didn't even dry my feet. Into my shoes, helmet on, and I'm gone. I definitely need to learn how to clip into my shoes on my bike. That's the next goal. Anyway, T1 took ~1:00. I think I could go faster if I practiced--my goal is to get it down to :30.
The bike was sweeeet. Fiesta Island is normally windy but in the early morning fog, the winds were strangely absent. Conditions were cool and calm. Purrrfect. A nice change of pace after IMAZ. One girl on a pink Guru took off in front of me, right out of T1. I kept her in my sights. Since running is my strength, I just try to keep my competition in view on the bike, and go in for the kill on the run. Pink Guru girl faded at mile 4.5 of the 9 mile bike. My speed didn't change the entire time. With my Zipps (Speed Weaponry!), I was able to maintain a consistent 20 mph pace. I blew by her, entirely expecting her to chase me down. It never happened. Only 2 guys in the wave behind me passed me on the bike the entire time. This was my race. First time in my history of racing. I was having a great day. Screamed into T2 for a bike split of ~28 minutes. Whoo-hoo!
I definitely need to work on transitions! I'm still using shoelaces! Talk about old-school. My hands were shaking from pushing it on the bike. I need Yankz! 4 girls beat me out of transition. All-in-all T2 took me about 1:30. I can get this down to :20 if I unclip on the bike and get Yankz. Simple.
Keeping the girls who got out on the run first in my sights, I began the hunt. I was gasping for breath but decided to hammer. Afterall, it's a 5K. Worst-case scenario, I can slow down. All of a sudden, the course took me through deep sand. WTF? It's an obstacle course. I began leaping and bounding through the ice plants for better traction. I could feel my heart-rate soar but was passing people left and right so I didn't care. I passed all speedy T2 girls in the first 1/2 mile. Whoo-hoo! This was fun! For some reason, I felt super-competitive. I would find a poor victim with the age 30-34 on her calf and chase her down. Then, I immediately looked for my next prey. I was ravenous! I caught Michelle at mile 1.5, a good friend of mine who is super fast and has beat me on every previous race . We chatted for a bit (actually, I let her do the talking while I slowed up to recover--sorry Michelle!) before I pressed on. Girls and guys race so differently! Guys usually talk smack while girls pretend to be syrupy sweet. On the inside, we're thinking, Kill, kill, kill!
"Look at you, Miss Speedy," said Michelle.
"Well, you're really fast too. Good job!" I replied.
"You're doing great."
"You too."
"Don't let me hold you back."
"Oh, no. I'm sure you'll catch me in a minute," as I run on ahead. In my head, I'm thinking, I'm going to beat Michelle! Yessssss! (Again, sorry, Michelle! I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be able to catch you because you are SO fast and strong!)
I ran on ahead and began my 2nd lap. I couldn't find anyone else with the 30-34 numbers on their calf. Strange. The finishing chute came out of nowhere, and I mustered up the last bit of reserve to sprint down to the line. I didn't have much left for sprinting. Good. I normally leave too much in the tank anyway. Crossed the finish and actually recovered almost immediately--none of that pukey feeling I normally get from going hard.
Run: 22:30
Hmmm. Faster than my PR at the Carlsbad 5000 with the deep sand. I'm thinking that course must have been short b/c that time just seems impossible.
Total time: 1:03
A new PR for me by 4 minutes!!! Whoo-hoo! This is the year of PRs. Plus, I placed 6th in my AG, which has never happened before. I'm pretty happy. I wasn't trying to PR, which, of course, is when it always happens. I think I can break an hour next year!!!
I guess the moral of the story is: to go faster in a race, do an Ironman 3 weeks before.

All-in-all, I had a fantastic time, got in a great workout, and was able to reacquaint with several good friends. A good time was had by all.
Laying down the hammer at Spring Sprint

Friday, May 02, 2008

Post Ironman Blues--they're real

There's no such thing. How ridiculous! Sad because the Ironman and Ironman training is over? Sad because I have time to rest, relax, and enjoy life a little? Sad because I'm not chronically overtrained and exhausted? Not me. Impossible.

Turns out, the whole post-Ironman blues thing? It's real. Apparently, I, Iron Girl, was incorrect in thinking I was superhuman, immortal, invincible, indestructible, with special powers. Apparently, I'm not immune to the post-partum Ironman depression.

I was fine the first 2 weeks. The first week, I was in Atlanta for a conference and was too exhausted from the race and stressed out about my talk to feel anything. I was still in crisis mode. 2nd week, I was so relieved to finally be home that I enjoyed mellow club workouts. And then, during the 3rd week, it hit me. Hard.

I feel rested. Healthy. Strong. My body is energized. My mental focus and faculties have been miraculously restored. I didn't even realize they were missing but all of a sudden, my productivity at work has sky-rocketed. I don't need 9 hours of sleep and mid-afternoon naps all the time. My appetite is under control; I don't feel like I have a tapeworm. I've been eagerly looking forward to my once-a-day workouts. I've been swimming-biking-and running fairly well. I should be so happy.

Then why do I have all this angst? I miss being so exhausted that I didn't have any left-over energy to deal with Life. Oh, right. That. Things were so much simpler when I all worried about was training, eating, and sleeping. I miss that. Now, I have to deal with my Problems. Damn. Guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Meanwhile, I get frustrated and try to exhaust myself...go out for a hard, fast, hilly evening ride. Ride until my lungs are going to burst and my quads are screaming. I finish as the sun sets, somewhat relieved. Maybe I will be exhausted enough to sleep tonight. But when night falls, and bedtime passes, I find myself tossing and turning, hour after hour, yet again.

This too, as most things in life, will come to pass. I just have to give it time. Patience is something I've never been very good at. Meanwhile, I'm designing my summer training plan. I have a full season ahead of sprint and olympic tris that should be lots of fun. I have a fall marathon that I'm really excited about.

But when I do manage to fall asleep, I dream about two things, and only two things. First, I dream I'm still out there running on the Ironman Arizona course, after the sun has set, the second half of the marathon. I wake up and feel great sadness that I'm not still out there running. I guess a part of me is still in Tempe, still running. And the second thing? I'm flying up to Penticton, Canada to secure my Ironman Ca spot for 2009.

Links to Post Ironman Blues Articles: