Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Curse of the last Sunday in June

       The weekend started out good. I was hitting all my marks - spin class on Thur morning, stacked brick Thur night, 6 mile run Fri morning, 53 mile bike Sat morning and then the curse of the last Sunday in June struck. 
Today was the Ridges Resort 5K swim that I have had as a goal for myself when I first heard about it in 2009. Last year I couldn't do it since it was the same day as my Ironman. So, this years event would be the one year anniversary of my Ironman DNF on the swim course. Not really a good omen in retrospect.
Coeur D'Alene didn't even cross my mind this morning. I just thought about getting through the swim as best I could. After looking at the course by boat Saturday evening I began to realize how out in the open we would be throughout this swim. I started to wonder if I should just wear my sleeveless wetsuit just to ease my mind and make me feel more confident. Everyone seemed to think I would be way too hot and would hate wearing it after a while. There were only 2 out of 100+ people wearing wetsuits this morning so I went without and began my swim. 
I started off feeling a bit nervous since I did not get to warm up. I had to stop every couple of strokes and catch my breath so my heart would slow down and I could continue swimming. This went on for quite a while but finally I got into a rhythm. Around this same time George (another GFA tri person and exceptional swimmer) started to hang back and encourage some other swimmers. Our support kayak stayed with them and I continued to swim. All was going well until we turned into what they called the channel but was more like open lake to me. Lots of boats and ski jets zoomed around the periphery but the race crew kept them away from us for the most part. The only problem was that it created a little bit of chop out there and made the crossing harder than expected. Finally, I made it across to the first big buoy that looked like a giant candy corn. The entire time I could see one or two swimmers a ways ahead of me but there were no race boats anywhere in the vicinity. I continued swimming along but there was still a bit of chop so it was slow going. I started to hear some thunder and when I was close to a boat I asked if it really was thunder. They started pulling close and said yes it was thunder and there was some lightning. I asked if they were going to pull swimmers since the sky looked kind of black and that's when they threw my a life preserver and started putting down the swim ladder. I was felling pretty cold and there were no other swimmers in sight so I decided to get in the boat. My day was over.

     It wasn't until the car ride home that I realized it was the same Sunday in 2010 I had my bad swim in CDA. Today was different in that I chose to stop but I did feel I was not given clear info on what was going on. They did not pull any swimmers and told our kayaker that it was up to the swimmers to continue. I never asked for them to come get me. Just asked if there was thunder and a storm coming. In fact, there was no lightning and the skies cleared up pretty quickly afterwards. In the end though,  I am just mad at myself for giving up. I did get cold but I would have been fine had I kept going. I also should probably have just worn the damn wetsuit from the very beginning and then it wouldn't have been an issue. The cold became an excuse and there really was no reason for me to stop. I was tired but I could have swam more.
The next question is do I sign up for the Acworth 5K swim in July or just concentrate on my race distance and work on getting faster and stronger? It is a burr in my behind right now, which probably wont be fixed until I do this event again but doing the Acworth 5K would help ease the self loathing that comes with a DNF. It will take some extra juggling at work to make it happen but I will see if I can do it before I commit.  I know I did more than the people who failed to show up today but that really doesn't make me feel any better right now. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

What is optimal?

From my coaching clinic manual concerning long course athletes and "what is optimal?"

"Athletic goals need to sit in harmony with life goals and the reality of an athlete’s life situation. It only takes a little too much volume, intensity or fatigue to tip an athlete over the edge. There is no worse feeling for an athlete than falling apart two weeks out from a goal race after a whole season of diligent preparation."

"Athletes require constant reassurance that it is okay to rest. The single greatest item that most age-group athletes can add to their program is an extra hour of sleep every night."

 If only there were more hours in the day. I know I spend a bit of time futzing around at home but lately it's sleep, eat, train and work with about 2-3 hrs per day to myself. I never feel like I am sleeping enough. I just read somewhere today that during a build period Andy Potts sleeps 11 hours per day. Must be nice to not have a full time job in addition to training. I am also sure he is not trying to keep his house in order and plan meals at the same time.

Just doing the best I can right now to prepare myself and hopefully the wheels won't fall off before race day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Where are my Rocket Boosters?

            So, the last couple of weeks of training have gone pretty well. The only hindrance has been sleep or to be more precise, lack of sleep. I missed one workout because of no sleep due to storms/power failure and freaked out dog and another because I snoozed my alarm 3 times without realizing it. I also had to scale Sunday's open water swim way back when I found I had no energy to continue and did not want to end up fish food. I had done a 12 mile trail run in about 99% humidity Sunday morning and planned on doing at least a 2 mile swim later that afternoon. I felt pretty good after the run and hydrated, fueled up and when I started swimming I felt like I had a lead weight tied to my ass. I pushed on despite mental warnings of complete stupidity and possible drowning and forced myself to swim about 1400m. Better judgement won out in the end and I quit after that. I was a bit disappointed since I swam 3 miles the previous Saturday after a 8 mile run but I think the heat and extra mileage did me in that day. I am glad I got that 3 mile swim in to boost my confidence a bit since I have the Ridges Resort 5K swim this Sunday. When I first heard of this event 3 years ago it seemed like a super crazy endeavor but something I wanted to aspire to. Well, here I am signed up and ready to go for Sunday. I am sure it will be really slow but knowing I don't have to get on a bike afterwards will be a great incentive to "just keep swimming".

            As far as the rest of my training I am still sweating the bike. Rocket boosters have yet to pop out of my ass so I am still plodding along or should I say pedalling along at my usual slow speed. I have been kicking some hill ass lately so that's one good thing. Been doing lots of Hartman Hill repeats and even did one entire set in the big chain ring (just to see if I could). I have also been getting a lot of comments about looking leaner/more toned so maybe some of my extra padding is transforming into muscle mass. Come on can't be far behind, please!

            Spin still kicks my ass every week (ahem, except for the couple I missed due to lack of sleep) but I think that's the point. This morning I was bound and determined to get to that class despite the fact that Betty would not go out and pee and my garage door would not open. I drove like a maniac and prayed it would not be a full class. If it's crowded its first come first served for bikes. I got there just in time to grab a bike and fired up the Garmin and no HR graph. What?? Recent firmware update deleted all my settings and apparently this too. Then it started picking up everyone else's monitor (something it has never done before). After much fiddling I gave up and decided to used PS or "perceived suckiness" to determine my HR and exertion. I think I managed adequately and achieved a fine state of suckiness by the end of class.
            The last song for today's sufferfest was a mix of The Police's "King of Pain" that made me think about when I first heard that song in 1983(!) when Synchronicity first came out. Little did that silly 14yr old sunbathing with headphones on know that 28 yrs later she would be sweating in a dank, dark room while training for an Ironman. "What the F** is an Ironman?" says that girl and "Why the hell would I do that? Sounds boring and stupid". Yeah, well, what can I say?


Friday, June 10, 2011

Conflicted and Stressed

Life has been extremely crazy these past few months since I started this blog. The last few weeks have been particularly insane and stressful in all aspects of my life. May started with our trip to St. George, Utah for John's first Ironman of the year. Given it had the reputation as the hardest IM in the US I was not participating in this brand of lunacy. So, while John, Mike, Alan, Beau and Mariska were doing an Ironman, I was essentially not training. Once the IM was over, John and I travelled to Zion, Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Phoenix. I needed some rest so it was a welcome vacation. A little hiking was done but it was also another week with no training. I was starting to get very anxious about this and looked forward to getting home, settled and back into my routine.
             John's depressed immune system after the event caused him to pick up a cold. We spent a lot of time in a closed car together and by the end of the trip I had a cold too. The cold was pretty mild and I was already feeling better after a few days when things took a turn for the worse. This coincided with out trip to Louisville for USAT Level I coaching class. Needless to say the first day of class I was miserable blowing my nose while sitting through 8 hours straight of class. All I wanted to do was sleep. If I was at home with the cold I probably wouldn't have been training anyway but it was another missed week. The training class was awesome - learned lots of great stuff - but now I have lots of reading and a big test I have to take in the next 3 months to earn my certification. This equals more stress.
            Cut to the week leading into the Memorial Day holiday. I was the late PA and was scheduled to work that Saturday and be on call for the weekend and holiday. It was one of the worst weeks I have had at work. Super busy, short staffed and I was still recovering from the cold that would not go away. The sneezing and blowing was done but my head and chest were still congested and the coughing was so bad it would wake me (and John) up at night. I finally went to the doctor for some antibiotics and hoped this thing would end soon. I trudged through my week of work and managed to squeeze in some half hearted workouts but I was definitely not 100%.
            So, here we are 2 weeks later and I still have a residual cough. The good news is that my energy levels are back to normal. I missed half of last weekend’s training due to a work conference in Philly but I should be home now for the rest of the summer. This week has been the first week (in a LONG time) that I have felt like I was training at my full potential, despite the persistent cough. But now the doubt is kicking in BIG TIME. I feel so behind. I knew May would be a tough month but I wasn’t counting on the illness to make things worse.
            The IM is 93 days away and while that might seem like a lot of time, it really isn't based on where I feel like I should be right now. My hope and plan for this year was to do more than just "get through" this IM. I wanted to be able to get through each leg without sweating any cutoffs or potential disasters and be able to relax and enjoy my race. I don't feel like that is possible right now. I have been concentrating so much on the bike when I have been able to train that I have been neglecting my swim and run. Oh yeah, there is also a little 5K swim coming up in 2 weeks that is really going to suck. I am sure I will be able to gut it out but there will be a lot of breast stroking while I pause to catch my breath. That the only positive thing I can say right now. I have enough of a base built up to force myself though anything despite how miserable I will be while doing it.
            If all the time on the bike was actually producing measurable results I would be a little less panicked BUT alas I still feel slow and tired and just plain “shite” all the time on the bike. Adding to my stress level is the fact that it is time to think about next year’s race. What?? I haven’t even finished this years!! Yeah, I know, the IM process is stupid at best. Most races fill up within hours of opening so you have to register one year in advance. John is all gung ho about 2 new races in Montreal and NY that open next week. Also, there is one in British Columbia he would like to do so he has been posting, e-mailing and chatting up all of these possibilities.
            Meanwhile, I am in a bad place mentally about my race in 93 days and don’t even want to think about going through all this mess again next year. I still firmly believe I should have never signed up for last year’s IMCDA. I would have been better off working on my bike, sticking to 70.3’s and getting stronger. On the other hand, I have pushed myself and done more than I ever thought I could. I just wish I was seeing more results for the time I put in. I am getting up at 4:45am twice a week to do strength and speed spin classes followed by core training in addition to my brick, long rides and hill training sessions. All the cyclists I know say the only way to get better on the bike is to ride. Well, how much more F’n riding do I have to do? There aren’t enough hours in the day to ride more plus take care of my house, work, eat and sleep. Not to mention when you are really SLOW it takes that much LONGER to get through those rides. It also leaves me no time to really think about what I want to do next year.
If I saw some improvement I am sure my attitude would start to change but currently I am nothing short of depressed.  
          So, do I want to get on this merry-go-round again or take some time to get stronger and then see what happens? How will I feel if others in my group are training for an Ironman and I am not?  Without a race on my schedule it will be next to impossible to push mys