I don’t know if I’m feeling ready!

A few days away from being just nine weeks out from Ironman Lake Tahoe. Kind of scary. Friends have been asking how I feel, if I feel ready, how my training is progressing.

I don’t know.

I know that I did a pretty consistent effort ~100 mile ride two weeks ago and felt okay. Ran 15 miles the next day – though not quite as fast as I would have liked. I’ve done two really long run/hike days in Yosemite at elevations far higher than Lake Tahoe, which has to count for something. Swam 2.4 miles about a month ago. Finished, despite forgetting to eat before the event.

But am I ready? I don’t know. 

Fortunately, some friends invited me to join them in Tahoe for the weekend, so I’ll get another opportunity to get out on the course. I’m also doing a half Ironman at Donner Lake (also at altitude) next weekend, which will also be a decent kick in the pants indicator of my training.

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Spinning those pedals…

Training has included some pretty significant bike rides so far. Good thing, since race day is < 15 weeks away!
 
1. Pre-Wildflower double Diablo, Saturday, April 27. Mt Diablo is 3,864 feet. The ride is 10-14 miles, depending on where you start your engines (say 12 miles, 3,500 ft climbing). We did it twice. In 100 deg temps. Brutal. But, 90 minutes of consistent climbing is very good mental prep. 
 
2. Motherlode Century. Saturday, May 11. Another scorching hot weekend. This time, a 94 mile “century” in El Dorado County. We took a LOT of breaks on this one. Aid stations were advertised to be fairly spread out, but then ended up being about every 10 miles or so. Good, after some of the particularly heinous climbs like Mosquito Road (six miles, lots of people walking their bikes)… but otherwise only really necessary for bottle refill since it was so hot. We enjoyed the watermelon, Jelly Belly beans, and other snacks a bit too much. Regardless, early in the season for a long ride. Good to get the mileage in the bank. 
 
3. Normal San Rafael lollipop out towards Petaluma. Saturday, June 1. Not a very BIG ride, but a good, consistent solo effort over about 60 miles. Two short map checks and a pit stop. Decent amount of time in my aero bars. Confidence booster.
 
4. Ironman Lake Tahoe course preview, Saturday, June 8. Definitely took a lot of breaks, but some strong efforts over 85 miles. We did two loops, which meant we got to see the big climb twice – and notice how it felt the second time around (Not as nice. Aside from the obvious fatigue, the heat had gotten turned up a bit more, and I think I benefitted from naivety the first time up.) The top of the Brockway climb is steep. About 1,100 feet of climbing in ~ 3.5 miles. Couple other kickers in there, including a minor, but surprisingly painful climb that we’ll get to do three times, due to the 2.333 loops we do on race day. Hoping to revisit the course again this summer!

Not a master + knee update

So, thanks mostly to my knee pain, I’ve been back at the pool. Saturday and Sunday on my own, then Tuesday and Thursday with Masters. 
 
Lap swimming at the public pool over the weekend. Six lanes. Two medium – on the left. Two fast – in the center. Two slow – on the right. The fast lanes are less crowded than the medium lanes, but I knew that if just a few more Actual Fast Swimmers came into that lane, I’d get run over. I joined the medium lane, where I felt, next to the old lady with the snorkel, the puffed-out chest guy doing one length at a time, and the breast strokers, like I was Michael fricken Phelps. (I also assumed that there must be water wings and a swim up bar in the slow lane if those were the medium swimmers.) 
 
But then… masters. Masters is intimidating. 
 
I have found the slow lane, where I am not in fear of being run over. The coach is great. He gives the fasties their stuff and then, when I finally finish the first set, he tells me what to do next. 
 
Tuesday included 9×100 yards. In swim speak, the coach will say something like 9x100s on the 1:30, meaning to start the next 100 on 90 seconds – regardless of when you finished the previous one. So rest is variable, and, if you don’t pace yourself and tire out early, rest gets shorter and shorter as you slow down. Afterwards, I heard women talking about doing these on 1:05, 1:10, and 1:15. 
 
I did them on 1:55. I am slow. It is a wonder I haven’t gotten booted from masters, since I obviously have mastered nothing.
 
Thursday, the coach told me to do a set that included 100s on 1:45. I’m sure this sounds ridiculous to him, but he always manages to keep a straight face. Sadly, 1:45 is a fast 100 for me. Meaning, no rest at all. 
 
Awesome. I got him to give me an extra five seconds so I could catch my breath. And then towards the end, I had to give myself another five seconds since I slowed down. Ouch.
 
 

Knee update:

One week post-onset and I’m doing much better. I’m still in pain when I lift up my knee, but nothing like before. I’ve brought my mini foam roller and a lacrosse ball to work and try to carve out a few five minute breaks to just shut my door and roll out my legs. Felt a huge release in my hip on Tuesday, thanks to some quality time with my roller while watching The New Girl and The Mindy Project. Seems like a good excuse to watch tv to me!
 
Took the week off from spin/bike/run (aside from my flat commute to work), returning to the bike on Saturday. 
 
Planned prevention:
Continued self-care, like my mini breaks during the day, longer sessions anytime I’m watching tv. I’ve highlighted the yoga classes at my gym that could work with my schedule (next up – actually GO to a class), and hit up a yogi friend for some help with a home practice in the 20 minute range. I also seriously need to continue to follow mobilitywod.com and stay on top of this shizz. Maybe swap out Body Pump with some heavier weight training, at least early in the season.

Rough training outline. Comments welcome!!

Planned training schedule… I’ll be working up to this over the next few weeks. In the short term, I need to focus on the bike and use my Mondays to get outside (I’ll be snowboarding over the weekends).
 
Target is to insert at least one double a week by February 1, twice a week by March 1. First race is an Olympic in mid April, followed up with a half IM in early May.
 
Monday – day off work
Ideal – Outdoor bike ride, transition run (brick), Body Pump class in the evening
Or combo of these choices:
1. Spin class AM or PM
2. Run
3. Pool swim, solo
4. Body Pump class – phase out as season progresses
 
Tuesday – high likelihood of being tired, if weekend + Monday go as planned. Good day for one workout, but options for AM/PM if energy is high.
Options: 
1. AM run (interval/speed)
2. PM Body Pump – phase out as season progresses
2. PM masters swim
3. PM track workout with Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders
 
Wednesday – non-negotional AM spin class and masters swim (once I start to do doubles). I expect this will be my long day. 
AM spin (try to arrive early to do my own warm-up)
PM masters swim
 
Thursday – may depend on what happened on Tuesday. Ideally, this will be another day of doubles.
AM run
PM masters swim
PM run
 
Friday – choose one if doubles on Wednesday and Thursday.
AM spin
AM run
PM masters swim
 
Saturday
long bike – inital focus on hill climbing
 
Sunday
long run – slow ramp up in mileage okay, no need for injury. 
 
  • With more daylight – potential to incorporate more outdoor rides during the week. Thursday would be a good day to do an evening ride. 
  • Keep up with core and body weight strength exercises
  • Climbing gym! Maybe try to go on a Sunday after my run?
  • Weekend ride/run with SF Tri Club and other friends when possible

Four things to try in 2013

I subscribe to Chris Charmichael’s online newsletter (probably an accidental enrollment, but I haven’t unsubscribed, so he’s doing something right). His Happy 2013 message was “Weekend Reading: 13 Ways to Boost Fitness, Lose Weight, and Get Faster in 2013!” Who doesn’t want to do all of those things in 2013? Or, rather… today?

Points that I’m going to try to take to heart:

 

2. Get used to being hungry: Almost without exception, we can all afford to lose some weight. To do it, you’re doing to have to suck it up and go hungry. Stop gorging after long rides and workouts, eat smaller portions, skip desserts, etc. If you’re consistent, your body and brain will adapt to eating less.

*This sucks. But I’m working on it. Four days in bed with the flu and minimal exercise due to holiday travel and events means my stomach is already partially adapted to eating less. Need to keep this up as I re-introduce training (as the body allows with my flu recovery).

3. Commit to consistency: Training 4 times a week (ie. twice during the workweek and twice on weekends) is good. Five training days a week is great. Six may actually be too much for some athletes, and 7 is generally not a good idea.

*Getting in five to seven days of activity in a week is not normally a problem for me, but I’m out of practice. This is a good note that it’s okay for me to ramp it back up to five or six days – and that four is actually acceptable in the beginning!

9. Drop caffeine: Caffeine enhances athletic performance, but to get the biggest race-day impact from caffeine you don’t want a huge tolerance for the stuff. When you consume less caffeine on a daily basis, less caffeine is required to achieve an ergogenic benefit, so the relatively small amounts in gels and chewables will help you more.

* I knew it!!! I’ve been cutting caffiene from my daily routine in advance of big races for the past five or more years – and in 2011 switched to decaf for most of the year. I’m back on that plan and will try to have caffiene only when truly needed.

 

10. Fall in love with this workout: 3×10 SteadyState Intervals (3×20 for advanced riders), with recovery between intervals 5 and 10minutes, respectively. It’s not sexy or complicated, but sustained time-at-intensity increases sustainable power at lactate threshold. This the performance marker that leads to higher climbing speed, less taxing rides in the pack, and faster bike splits in triathlons. Intensity: 90-95% of CTS Field Test power, 92-94% of CTS Field Test Heart Rate, or an 8 on a 1-10 exertion scale.

* I will have to give this a shot. It will likely suck to do this on my own, but I’ll try to hide out in the back of class during spin and just knock it out. Guessing this should be done three times a month or so? I’ll start with once and see how it goes – after I’ve gotten myself back to a solid routine.