Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Official Beginning of my Ironman Training

In the last three weeks, I have been building in a few more workouts and developing some structure to my training, in anticipation of the official beginning of my Ironman training. I've done two swims, two bikes, two runs, and three strength workouts per week. I've noticed the increase in activity; I've felt a little tired but it's been OK. Yesterday I met with my coaches to review my strength training program and to receive my training schedule for September.

The strength training is going well and I am already noticing improvements. One of my coaches has me focusing mainly on learning to recruit my glutes and on strengthening them as well as my core. I will carry on with this for a while and she has increased the effort for some of the exercises by increasing the weight or reps or modifying the technique to make the exercise a little harder.

My other coach has written out my training plan for the year and has given me a detailed daily plan for the next month. It actually starts tomorrow. Because of my hip arthritis, I have to train for the run differently than most people would so what my coach will have me doing is lots of shorter runs rather than fewer runs of longer distance. The longest run I will ever do is 90 minutes but I will be running five times per week from now until taper time next June. The idea behind this is that the training load will come from frequency rather than distance, although, of course, the mileage will accumulate over all those runs. But my hip will never have to endure a lot of mileage at one time.

I will not be doing any cycling between now and the end of October, which means I'll pretty much be on the trainer the next time I ride. It seems weird to me to drop cycling off altogether but the idea here is that I need the time to get the running in and to focus on strength training, which my coaches say will make a huge difference to my cycling capabilities. At the end of October, I'll add in 2 hours of cycling per week, gradually building to the point where I will be doing six rides of six hours each during April and May.

I'm a pretty good swimmer but I'm not super fast. I will be swimming with a small group that my one coach leads, starting on September 6. Here we will focus on the development of technical swimming efficiency to minimize energy expenditure, with the goal being a relaxing, comfortable swim at Ironman that will leave me feeling good for the bike and run. I think that with the next 10 months of training, I will be able to do the swim in 1:30 and feel good when I'm done.

I asked my coach about weight loss during training. He said it will be a byproduct of the increasing training volume, if I focus on good healthy eating. I hope he's right. I seem to have the slowest metabolism in the world but I can certainly help it along by choosing better foods; I hope I can lose at least 15 pounds by race day.

My coach had a great idea for rewarding myself as I train. He suggested that I get a big jar and put a coin in it for each day that I stick to my goals for that day, including eating well, drinking enough water and doing the workout for the day. Over the 10 months, it will add up to a lot of money (if I am a good girl!) and I can use it to buy myself a nice Ironman Coeur D'Alene souvenir. I will have to work hard every day just to give myself a few cents but I know I will want to be able to drop that coin in the jar everyday so I can see this working well as a motivator.

My other coach assured me during our conversation that I am not alone in feeling like a bit of a rickety old lady sometimes. Things just aren't what they used to be when you get to my age. But that doesn't mean any of this is impossible! They both also told me that of course I was going to finish this race. No doubt. It's nice to hear that from him. I am actually pretty sure I can do the distance. What worries me is the time limit! But with the training, I should improve my speed enough to make it!

I felt encouraged and excited when I left them yesterday morning. It's exciting to see the plan and to think about how fit I will be next June! Let the games begin!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Swimming Practice

In an effort to address the swim issues I had in Chelan (and also, to a lesser extent, at Great White North in 2009), Dan, Adam and I drove up to Jasper National Park for a swim in Lake Annette. It's a four hour drive (one way) for us to get there but it's worth it to be able to swim in a lovely mountain lake. We also just wanted to have a beach day and what nicer place can there be? It's amazing to sit on the beach and look up at Mt. Edith Cavell. Just gorgeous.

Dan and I put on our wetsuits and hopped in to the water. It was cold and I didn't want to put my face in! But, I got used to it pretty quickly and off we went. We swam parallel to the beach but a ways off shore, crossing a small cove. I mapped the swim afterward and we covered 500m. It wasn't a totally serious swim as far as distance and effort went! We stopped and talked along the way. Still, it was a worthwhile swim because I learned something. First, the water was cold and it does take your breath away a bit. It wasn't that cold in Chelan but it was still chilly there and it seems that hitting the chilly water affects me and makes it a little harder to catch my breath. Perhaps if I try doing a warm-up swim just before a race, it might help me get used to the water and swim without trouble. People have since suggested that to me, including my coach, so I will give it a try next time I race. Second, I noticed that my wetsuit is kinda tight. *Blush* A little more room might help with the whole breathing thing!


I'm a little late getting my race report posted but here it is nevertheless! I did the olympic distance triathlon in Chelan, Washington on July 16. It was wonderful in many ways and disappointing in others.

The area is gorgeous - much like the Okanagan - and the lake is beautiful, clean, and clear. It's like swimming in a sandy basin filled with tap water. The bike course went out along the lake and was really beautiful. The run covered the first part of the bike course, again along the lake. The weather was nearly perfect, about 70 F with a few clouds. It rained while I was on the bike but I was really only aware of it for a few minutes, probably at a moment when it was raining a little harder. (I started the race with Sister Madonna Bruder right beside me on the beach and she passed me on the bike but when we got to the top of the biggest hill, I saw them leading her off to the side, wrapped in a blanket. Perhaps she fell; I heard afterward that there were a few minor accidents on the bike course because of the rain. She did, however, do the sprint distance the next day!)

I started the swim in a wave with about 100 people. I got right in there and started swimming. Things were going along tickety-boo until about the 100m mark. Suddenly, I couldn't breathe. I stopped swimming, sort of bobbed and breaststroked along, trying to catch my breath and get myself under control. I don't know what caused it. It wasn't really panic or anxiety. I wasn't overly nervous about the race, I didn't mind the other people in the water, the lake was nice, I was OK with the distance. But, wow, it took a long time to pull myself together! I just told myself to keep moving forward while I waited for it to pass. At about the halfway point, I did get myself under control and could put my face in again and the rest of the swim was super.

Swim time = 49:56, about 10 minutes longer than I expected.

T1 = 4:21. I was very dizzy from the swim and couldn't move very quickly.

The bike was very nice! The scenery was just beautiful. I felt strong and good. At the beginning, I rode past Dan, who had just started out on his race (he did the 10K run). He cheered me on and that was nice to hear. I drank most of a bottle of Gatorade and ate six Clif Blocs on the bike. This was a very enjoyable part of the day.

Bike time = 1:47:49. I expected to be 1:45 for the bike. The course was actually quite a bit hillier than they describe on the race website so I am OK with my time being a couple minutes longer.

T2 = 3:31. I had to pee, darn it.

The run was mostly a walk! When I finished the bike ride, I hardly had legs to stand on. I had trouble even getting off my bike! I tried to jog out of transition, just for the sake of saving face but that was hard. The run starts uphill! I didn't expect much from the run because I have done very little running in the last couple months. Although I walked a great deal of it, I suddenly found a little something in my legs near the end and I ran the last mile.

Run time = 1:33:55. I expected to do the run in 1:20 so I lost some time there but, in retrospect, it's not a shock that it took the time it did.

When I crossed the finish line, a guy also crossed with me. He was finishing up his half iron. (They had started 40 minutes before my wave but he was still pretty darn fast!) He turned to me and shook my hand and said congratulations and I thought that was a pretty nice touch!

Total time was 4:19 (but I was not last!). I would love to have done it in under 4:00 but the swim issues and lack of running and brick training made that unreachable this time. Still, this was my first olympic distance and I felt happy when I finished.

I plan to work on identifying and learning to deal with the swim anxiety issues or whatever that was. Training will take care of the rest!

My brother, Paul, and my niece, Lizzy, who live in Seattle, met us there for the weekend. Paul did the sprint and Lizzy did the kids' splash and dash. It was great fun to watch them. Adam (my son) also came along and he had a great time cheering us on and taking pictures of the weekend. And of course, being in wine country, we had to stop by and visit a winery and do a little tasting after the race!