Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sorry ~ The Writing and Training Were Too Much!

Sorry, I couldn't keep up with both writing this blog, plus my regular writing and my training. But you can hop on over to my regular blog for more triathlon/Ironman training info:


Although that blog has all sorts of stuff, it also includes my race reports and some training details. Just look for "Journey to Ironman" in the Favorite Calamity Jane Series block on the right.

Thanks for following!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Training May 26-June 1 - aka: Readjusting The Plan

Week 14 of 36 (Week 8 of Iron Fit Training Plan). Twenty-three weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (May 26-June 1):

Total hours scheduled: 9:00

Total hours logged: 5:20

Total running miles this week/total: 13.3 /188.4

Total biking miles this week/total: 30.1/ 519.6

Total swimming yards this week: 2500

Level of IM enthusiasm: 6/10.

Nutrition elements: Nothing new to speak of.

Other: Kind of crashed and burned in the training this week. Started out alright -- got a long brick in on Monday (2 hour bike, 30 min run) but then things just fell apart with all I had to do.

I don't want to always make excuses for why I don't get my training hours in. But more importantly I don't want my family to suffer because I become an unbearable shrew when I feel like I'm not getting everything done. My family suffered this week. :(

After a little bit of soul searching, I started looking at my training plan and the other training plans in Fink's Be Iron Fit. I've been using the Competitive Program (the hardest one). We're still in the Base Training Phase for a couple more weeks until we move into the Build Phase (on June 15).  The Base Phase is the same for the Competitive and Intermediate programs.

This week I started look at Fink's Just Finish Program. That Program averages about 7 hours a week, and maxes at 10 hours. As opposed to the Competitive Program that averages 12 hours a week and maxes at 20 hours. Over the course of 30 weeks of training, that's 150+ hours. That's a pretty huge difference for a one-day event.

And here's the thing: I am a IM bucket-lister. I'm not ashamed of that. I'm one-and-done. This race is not what defines me and it's not going to change the person I am.

Now this does not mean I'm dropping down to the Just Finish Program. I feel like that's too light, and I would like to put in more effort than that if I'm going to do this. BUT, I have decided to change my training hours for the month of June.

New plan: 3 hours running, 3 hours biking, 2 hours swimming each week for a total of 8 hours. I feel like this is do-able, will cause me to maintain the fitness levels I've progressed to thus far. I probably won't be making any gains in fitness, but won't be losing any fitness either.

On July 1, once all my books and proposal are in, we are back from our 2-week family vacation and things have settled down a little, I will re-evaluate and move from there.

Believe me, my family is already thankful. And honestly, with this weight off my shoulders, so am I.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Training May 19-25 - aka: My Take on Hammer Products

Week 13 of 36 (Week 7 of Iron Fit Training Plan). Twenty-four weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (May 19-25):

Total hours scheduled: 10:00

Total hours logged: 9:45

Total running miles this week/total: 20.6/175.1

Total biking miles this week/total: 65.5 /489.5

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000 / 60,000

Level of IM enthusiasm: 7/10. After last week's potential life-changing news (which would require a move for us out of the country), this week seemed to go back to normal. There's no new info on the job front, so I'm not going to worry about it anymore until we have a more definite time-frame. It may end up not affecting IMFL at all. I can't control if/when the job transfer will come through. All I can control is what I do today -- that's what I keep telling myself. And today, I choose to train.

Nutrition elements: It's Hammer (report) Time, people! In the search for the nutritional product that works best for me I started trying Hammer about three weeks ago and have been very pleased. I think I'm going to stick with them. I particularly like the "Little Red Book" that comes with their products that helps take the guess work out of a lot of the nutritional stuff. Plus lots of helpful, IM-specific hints.

Please pardon the extremely subjective/personal post, but I want to keep track of which Hammer flavors I like for when I go to re-order, so I'm listing them here. (And just for reference, I'm not a big chocolate person, nor do I tend to enjoy rich, "heavy" flavors.)

First, I am not a fan of the Hammer food bars. They're basically just like Lara bars. I'll eat them if I have to, but I don't care for them. I won't be ordering any more.

I'm scoring flavors on a scale of 1-10; 10= yummy for my tummy (for an energy product);  No comment by a flavor means I haven't tried it yet
Apple-Cinnamon: 7/10
Banana: A little too realistic for me; 4/10
Montana Huckleberry: Funny name, but good; 8/10
Orange: Pretty good; 7/10
Peanut Butter: (I'm so scared to try this)
Raspberry: Very Good; 9/10
Tropical (w/caffeine): LOVE! My favorite so far; 9.5/10
Vanilla: Good; Buy again (but not too much) 6/10

My First Hammer Shipment
HEED (like gels, but a drink instead)
Mandarin Orange: Good; 7/10
Strawberry: Good; 7/10
I like the Heed. It gives me the energy I want plus electrolytes. Taste is fine. It really seems like they're all kind of the same with just the slightest bit of different flavoring. But not unpleasant.

I am finding, interestingly, that the Heed does not quench my thirst. Fine on the bike when I can have one bottle with Heed and one with water, but not so easy on runs when I don't want to carry two different bottles.

PERPETUEM (for 2+ hour workouts; contains some protein)
Caffe Latte (w/caffeine): Good, 8/10
Orange-Vanilla: Good, 8/10
Strawberry-Vanilla: Good, 8/10

One water bottle filled with a single packet (so I think that would be 2 scoops of the larger bucket) got me through my 2.5 hour ride this week and a 2 hour run last week with no problem. Again, I can't actually tell much difference between them in the taste, but they're all pleasant. Also, water needs to be consumed separately. Note: I'm pretty sure Perpetuem is going to be my go-to energy substance for IMFL and my August HIM. I'll be trying the chewables soon.

Haven't really gotten to these yet because the weather has been so mild (and because Heed includes electrolytes).  Will post more as I get to them. They seem pretty basic.

RECOVERITE (recovery drink)
I think I'm just barely getting to the point in my training where I need a recovery drink sometimes. For my 2.5 hour (41 mile) bike ride? -- Yes. For my less than 1 hour, 2500m swim or 6-mile run? -- No.
Orange Vanilla - Good. 7/10
Strawberry - Good. 7/10
Vanilla - Good. 7/10
(Just so we're clear here, I'm not saying these are like hmm-hmm good. They're palatable. I like that they only have to be mixed with 4-8 of water. Will order all three of the flavors I've tried again).

I also plan to try the Hammer vitamin/supplement products: Race Cap Supreme and Premium Insurance Caps.

If you've never ordered from Hammer, but are thinking of trying, please feel free to use THIS LINK . It will take you to the Gel page, but you can order anything with it. You'll get 15% off your order and I'll get a percentage off my next order too. (First time customers only). I wish I had had someone's to use when I made my first order.

And thus ends my Hammer Nutrition report. I will update as I try more flavors.

Running injury
Other training stuff: Had a crash -- while running for heaven's sake -- on Friday. Hit a piece of jagged sidewalk and took a hard fall. Tore the crap out of my hands and knee and even jarred my shoulder. Just wasn't paying enough attention - kind of like my last fall on my bike. Everybody be careful out there!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Training May 12-18- aka: My Enthusiasm Takes an Ugly Nose-Dive

Week 12 of 36 (Week 6 of Iron Fit Training Plan). Twenty-five weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (May 12-18):

Total hours scheduled: 9:00

Total hours logged: 8:30 (I was supposed to bike 30 more minutes this week, but my 14-year-old daughter asked me if I wanted to go for a walk on Sunday right as I was about to ride. If you have a 14-year-old daughter you know that if they actually want to spend time with you then you drop everything and do it. So that 30 min ride didn't get in, but I count it as time well spent)

Total running miles this week/total: 17 /154.5

Total biking miles this week/total: 47.5 / 424

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000 / 60,000

Weight: 148; down 2 lbs overall (same)

Level of IM enthusiasm: 2/10. (see below)

Nutrition elements:  I really want to discuss my Hammer products likes and dislikes (overall, I'm liking most), but it's almost midnight, so once again I'm about out of time.

Other: It was my worst week for training -- in terms of enthusiasm -- so far. Two sick kids out of school for a total of four days, my parents in town half the week, weather crappy. But the real problem came on Tuesday when Captain Awesome and I received some potentially life-changing (in a good way) and definitely Ironman-changing news on the job front.

Yeah... nosedive
The news is quite exciting, but at the same time I recognize that it may be impossible for me to complete my IMFL training and/or get to the race, depending on the time frame of this new job. Running through different possible scenarios in my head got me all flustered and frustrated, in terms of training this week.

In the midst of it all, one thing definitely became clear to me -- and I feel like such a wimp admitting it -- I am definitely not interested in doing this much training if I don't have a specific race goal at the end of it. As soon as the potential of IMFL being unavailable hit me, my training zeal nose-dived.  I didn't want to do the work.

I will admit, I picked myself up by the bootstraps and got almost all my hours in for this week. I'm proud of that. And until we have a firm offer and timetable my training will continue. Who knows, everything might work out for training and the race. I hope so. I've got a lot invested in this: financially, physically, emotionally.

I want to do IMFL 2014. I really do. And in most ways, I feel like if I don't do this particular race, I may not ever get the gumption back up to try another one (Plus, I am not the only person involved with IMFL -- this is a three person event with my two besties, Princess & Hippie.  It was a miracle we all got spots at IMFL. And the thought of letting them down is worse than not doing the race).

But right now I'm taking it one day at a time. I can't control what happens tomorrow. I can only do what I can do today. And today I'm training with the plan to race IMFL 2014.

Training May 5-11- aka: Only stats! No time to write

Week 11 of 36 (Week 5 of Iron Fit Training Plan). Twenty-six weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (May 5-11):

Total hours scheduled: 8:00

Total hours logged: 8:00

Total running miles this week/total: 16.5 /154

Total biking miles this week/total: 41.5 /418

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000 / 60,000

Weight: 148; down 2 lbs overall

Level of IM enthusiasm: 8/10.

Nutrition elements: My Hammer products arrived. More on that soon.

Other: Training went well, just not much time to write this weekend.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Training April 28-May 04 - aka: Putting Some Muscle Into It

Week 10 of 36 (Week 4 of Iron Fit Training Plan). Twenty-seven weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (April 28-May 04):

Total hours scheduled: 7:00

Total hours logged: 7:05

Total running miles this week/total: 14.5 /137.5

Total biking miles this week/total: 35.5 / 376.5

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000 / 55,000

Weight: forgot to check and am too lazy to run upstairs. Let's just call it no change from last week (148; down 2 lbs overall)

Level of IM enthusiasm: 8/10. We hit the SIX MONTH OUT mark this week. It was invigorating! I know how quickly six months goes, so I am ready to start putting some serious hours in.

Nutrition elements: Still waiting for my Hammer products to arrive. One mark against them is that they are very pretty slow in delivery, it seems. It took them over 48 hours to even acknowledge my order. I'm on day #10 right now waiting for the stuff. Luckily last week was very light in terms of nutritional needs. Hurry up, Hammer!

Someone suggested E-gels which look interesting (although I am a little wary of a company called CRANK sports -- that seems like a heart attack waiting to happen, doesn't it?). E-gels seem to be both carbs and electrolytes so you don't need anything else. Intriguing, but one of my big concerns is that they suggest you drink 16-32 oz water between gels in order for it to work properly. That seems like a lot of water in your system, especially on a run.  But I'll still look into it after Hammer if I feel I need to try something else.

Other: This week I worked on adding functional strength training into my routine. Between the four kids, deadlines for two novels coming up, teaching my college classes and all my IM training, I just have not been able to find time to take another 1-2 hours and go to the gym for strength training.

So, I decided to try a new system. I looked up some of the best strength exercises for triathletes (there are some in the Iron Fit book too) that can be done at home then separated them out to arms/shoulders, back/core and legs. Then I picked a group to work on each day.

I set my phone to go off once an hour, then got up from my computer and did one of the exercises for whatever muscle group I was on that day. Took 2-3 minutes once an hour, for a total of about 20-30 strength training for the day.

I know this is not the most effective way to do strength training. But right now it's my only way to do any strength training, so I'll take it.  And I felt sore from different muscle groups every day, so I must be doing something right!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Training April 21-27 - aka: Stop. Hammer Time

Training Week 9 of 36. (Week 3 of Iron Fit) Twenty-eight weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (April 21-27):

Total hours scheduled: 8:00

Total hours logged: 7:45

Total running miles this week/total: 15.4 / 122.91

Total biking miles this week/total: 49.3 / 340.98

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000 / 50,000

Weight: 148 (no change from last week; down 2 lbs overall)

Level of IM enthusiasm: 7.5/10 - still feel pretty good.

Nutrition elements: I'm done with UCan. I know I said I would give it another 3-4 weeks, but I just couldn't do it. IM training is hard enough (mentally and physically) without doing it feeling like you're starving. I followed all the UCan instructions and in two "long" workouts this week (1:45 bike and a 1 hour swim followed by 45min run) and in both I was just miserable. I decided I'm not willing to give it any more time, and sold what I had left.

I really want to find what works for me. At the Sprintfield Sprint Tri they handed out some Hammer products in our race bags and I got a raspberry gel. Low and behold, when I tried the gel a few days later during a ride, I actually liked it (I am not a big gel person. The consistency usually creeps me out).

I really like the Hammer website and that they seem to understand what an IM athlete will want/need. Plus a lot of their stuff is non-GMO, organic, gluten free. Moreover, many of my friends (mostly runners) swear by their products. I ordered about $100 worth of different products and samples, so I'm hoping I'll find some combinations that work for me.

Other: Took part in the Richmond Tri Club Sprint Triathlon this weekend. I realized I've got to find some hills to train on before my Augusta Half IM in September. And transitions.... I have no idea why my brain just seems to shut off during transitions.

I've also started a 5-week swim technique class with a triathlon swim coach. I took a similar one last November, and learned so much. I'm a firm believer that technique makes you a much faster swimmer than just attempting to power through. And hopefully the class will keep me from feeling how I so often feel about swimming:

Richmond Tri Club Sprint - Race Report

A training workshop originally scheduled for earlier in April got rescheduled to April 26, the same day as the Richmond Tri Club Sprint Triathlon, so I decided to go ahead and sign up for the race. It was a spring: 400m swim, 13-mile bike, 5k run

This isn't a race I'd normally do since Richmond is a couple hours away, but since I was already going to be there... Plus, the race started at 7:00, which would give me time to race, shower, change and still make my workshop by 10:00am.

But it did mean I had to leave my house by 3:30am in order to make it there, pick up my packet, and get everything situated in transition. Since I knew I would be leaving my house in something akin to a coma, I laid everything out the night before, then packed it up and had it ready in the car.

Sigh. Remember the good ol' days of footraces where all I had to remember was my bib number and to throw some clothes on? Those days are long past.

I arrived (it was cold!!) and set everything out in transition, determined to remember to face the right way on the bucket when I sat down this time so I wouldn't have to keep stretching behind me to reach stuff.  Yeah, I still didn't do very well in transition.

The Swim (400 meters)

This is a very unique swim in that it is an "open water style pool swim." It was a 50-meter pool (twice the length of the normal size pool), seven foot deep everywhere, that had buoys. They had us start in groups of 10 (based on estimated swim time). Nobody was allowed to kick off the walls as we started or as you zig-zagged up and down the pool around the buoy.

It gave me a nice taste of an open water swim without the dark cold water.  It was choppy and we were all swimming all over each other.

I loved it.

Admittedly, I couldn't go as fast as I wanted because I couldn't figure out how to get around the couple of guys in front of me for a long while. But compared to my sprint tri a couple of weeks ago, I felt so much better in the water.

For one thing, I didn't wear my heart monitor and (sorry guys, overshare) I loosened the hook on my running bra before the swim. This way I had nothing that felt like it was constricting my chest. I also was able to warm up for about 10 minutes in the smaller (25 yd) warm-up pool about 45 minutes before the race started. I'm not sure that actually did any good, but I felt like it did.

I was glad I have been working on breathing out of both sides, because I got next to someone for at least 25 yards who was splashing like a maniac on my right side, forcing me to breathe to my left. It wasn't my preference, but I was able to handle it no problem.

Everything got a little jammed up at the end trying to get out of the pool. I should've just jumped up on the wall rather than waiting to use the ladder.

Total Time: 9:04 

Evidently transitions are just not my thing. It took me even longer in this transition than in my race a couple of weeks ago! Unbelievable.

I am proud to say I faced the correct way on the bucket this time, so I wasn't reaching around behind me trying to find my stuff. My fingers weren't working too well because of the cold (low 50s, and I was soaking wet) and I ended up hardly getting my feet dried off at all. But -- helmet and sunglasses on, socks and bike shoes on and I was ready to go.

My real problem began when I noticed my HR monitor belt laying over my handle bars as I was running (in my bike shoes -- not fun) through transition. I had made it about 100 yards when I saw the HR monitor (which I had decided earlier not to use in this race because it gave me fits last time; plus, it's a sprint -- who cares about HR?). I knew I had to do something with it; I couldn't just keep it laying over my handle bars.

Sitting here at my computer, all nice and dry and warm with no pressure, I can clearly and easily figure out multiple things I could've done with the HR belt:
  • Put it around my waist as a belt
  • Looped it around my arm multiple times -- annoying, but not problematic
  • Handed it to a volunteer and asked them to stash it at the transition tent
  • Put it in the small pouch I have attached to Shane West designed to carry nutrition or, say, a HR monitor belt that is in my way
But instead of doing any of these things, I ran (with Shane West in tow of course) ALL THE WAY BACK TO MY BUCKET, threw the HR monitor in with my stuff than ran all the way back out of transition.


A friend suggested leaving my helmet upside down on the bike with my sunglasses inside to shave a few seconds off my transition time. I will definitely do that next time, although I'm thinking a post-swim lobotomy might actually do me more good.

Total time: 2:59

Bike (13 miles)
Course was just over 20k at 13 miles. Although I couldn't feel my feet because of my cold/wet socks, I had a pretty good time on the bike except for the hills. I need more hill training, not necessarily for IMFL but for my half-iron in Augusta in September. I just don't know how to get the training around here in super flat Virginia Beach.

I knew I needed more hill work when I got to a big hill, kept shifting to an easier and easier gear until I ran out of gears. Then what was I supposed to do? Fortunately I was at the top of that hill by the time the time I bottomed out of gears, because what was my next step?  (Btw, this is a real question, if anybody had suggestions I would love to hear them. I'll take anything)

Besides the hills, felt pretty good. What goes up, usually comes down after all.

Total time: 44:27

A little bit better (not that it could be worse than T1). It was a big transition area and I had a while to run in my bike shoes, which seems so slow to me. But once I got my bike racked, I calmly put on my shoes and running hat. No problems.

Total time: 1:58

Run (3.1 miles)
Run felt pretty great for me once I made it through the first mile. My Garmin was all screwed up (had been all day) so I had no idea how fast I was going or how far I had gone. I just kept running.

Once again, I ran with my iPhone in my hand listening to music through its stereo. I had the volume pretty low so I don't think anyone could've heard it without being right next to me (although who wouldn't want to hear some FloRida while in a triathlon??)

No issues or problems in the run. It was a great pace for me. Shaved nearly 2 minutes off my race a couple weeks ago.

Total time: 28:44

Overall Race Time: 1:27:10

Overall Thoughts:
My ranking was much lower in this race than the last (89/162 women compared to last race's 101/203) which discouraged me a bit. But really my bike and run times were a little faster so I shouldn't feel that way.

Nutrition was pretty basic: drank an Ensure in the morning during the drive, along with a couple cups of coffee. Also ate a banana and peanut butter as well as some crackers. Had a Hammer gel on the bike and a couple of shot bloks on the run.

I'm glad I did this race, if only for the swim part. It was a confidence builder I needed. The rest of my Tri's will be in open water (although my next race is not scheduled until July, this was my "May" tri and June is just crazy for me with travel). Looking forward to that next challenge.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Training April 14-20 - aka: Yeah, that's my weight, don't wear it out

Training week 8 of 36.  (Week 2 of Iron Fit) Twenty-nine weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like  (April 14-20):

Total hours scheduled: 7:00

Total hours logged: 7:00

Total running miles this week/total: 14.62 / 107.51

Total biking miles this week/total: 43.5 / 291.68

Total swimming yards this week/total:  5000 / 45,000

In a tri-suit; not skinny but not fat
Weight: X-2 or,  weight for it, (see what I did there?)... 148 pounds. There it is: my actual weight out there for everyone to see rather than the infamous "X" I've been using for the past eight weeks. (In case math isn't your strong suit, I weighed 150 pounds when I started training.) I'm 5'9, so 148 pounds is not terrible, although still 20 pounds heavier than when I got married 17 years ago.

Just want to clarify (since last week I got a lot of comments on FB about not using training as a method of weight loss): I am not trying to use my IM training to lose weight. I have no actual weight goals when it comes to IM. Although if I'm gaining weight while exercising 10-20 hours week, I seriously have to be doing something wrong.

What I would like to do is make these seven months of training as easy as possible on myself. If I could shed 5-10 pounds, OR just get myself more lean with muscle rather than fat, I would be closer to an idea racing weight. That is optimally where I'd like to be. Of course, if I dropped 30 lbs doing that, I'm certainly not going to cry. But if I drop zero pounds, I'm not going to cry either.

But no more "X". I weigh what I weigh. Moving on...

Level of IM enthusiasm: 7/10. Just another week. Kids were on spring break, so everything was more difficult to fit in, but I did it.

Nutrition elements: Ordered more UCan. Got lemonade-crap and blue-razz-crap flavors and some of the protein. We'll see. I don't know that I can do every long workout always feeling like my tank is mostly empty. But maybe it's just a mental thing and my brain will switch over and it'll be okay.

But Lordy that stuff is god-awful tasting. Completely chilled helps a little, but not much.

Other: Starting a five-week swim technique class this week with a local Tri coach. I took one back in November and it helped me tremendously. Unlike biking and running, I believe the only way to become truly faster at swimming is to improve your technique rather than power through.

Also have another Sprint Tri next Saturday. 400m pool swim (in a 50m pool, so that's a little different), 13 mile bike and 5k run.  Then nothing on the race calendar until July.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week 7 Training (April 7-13) - aka: Welcome to the Grind

Week 7 of 36. Thirty weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (April 7-13):

Total hours scheduled: 7:00

Total hours logged: 7:00

Total running miles this week/total: 12.79 / 92.89

Total biking miles this week/total:  43.50 /248.18

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000 / 40,000

Weight: x-1 (same. always the same) A friend suggest that I might want to measure inches lost instead of weight lost. Might think about that.

Level of IM enthusiasm:  9/10. This is "real" week #1, baby! (see "other" section below)

Nutrition elements: Used UCan again before my 1:45 bike ride. I want to like this stuff (because if I can do a 2+ hour workout using only one 100ish calorie packet that contains no sugar than I AM IN!), but still am not convinced that it really works.  If you're used to working with gels/shot bloks -- you know that feeling you get just as your system is starting to tell you it's time for another one? That first moment of weakness/hunger/whatever you want to call it? That feeling where you know if you don't get another gel/blok inside you soon things will be pretty ugly a mile or so from now?

It's not ugly yet, but you can glimpse it.  ...That feeling?

After using UCan I constantly have that feeling, like I need more in my tank or I'll be in trouble soon. But then it never gets any worse, and the trouble never actually comes (in these 2 hour workouts).  So it's kind of annoying the whole time, but never becomes any more critical.  I don't know if the UCan is working and that I'm so used to a sugar high & crash from gels that I need to adjust to a more even release of carbs, or if it's all just hype and I'm tricking my own brain.

If it was just these issues, I would probably give it a couple month run and see how it plays out. But the stuff tastes like flavored chalk. No kidding. I have the new Orange-crap flavor and the Pomegranate/blueberry-crap. The Orange-crap is almost drinkable but the Pomegranate-crap is beyond gross. 

Overall consensus after writing this: I will give it a couple more weeks and also order a couple more different flavors to try. After that, if I'm still not convinced, I'm moving on.

Other: After of two weeks of my debut novel release shenanigans and vacation where training was pushed in wherever I could find time, I was ready to get back to the IM grind. And perfect timing because we are 30 weeks out. This is where the training plan I am using (Don Finks' Iron Fit) actually starts. The last six weeks were just extra (that I wish I had used doing something other than running, biking and swimming. Like crossfit or Zumba. Hindsight 20/20...)

So this is it. I will be, as much as possible, following this plan down to the letter (see the Training Calendar above it you want to know what this involves each week). I am choosing to believe if I put all the hours into the training involved in this plan, it will pay off with a successful Ironman Florida race come November.

Of course, I'm leaving myself room for changes that will have to be made because of life (family, travel, illness). But otherwise this training will be happening almost every day of every week for the next 30 weeks. 7 1/2 months.

Sweat is for those who know that winning is a choice, not an accident. Welcome to the grind.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Week 6 Training (Mar 31-Apr 6) - aka: Wetsuit for the first Time

Week 6 of 36. Thirty-one weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (March 31-April 6):

Total hours scheduled: 7:00

Total hours logged: 6:51

Total running miles this week/total: 15.4 / 80.1

Total biking miles this week/total: 29.45 / 204.68

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000 (ahem, bs!) / 30000

Weight: seriously, I've given up on this.

Level of IM enthusiasm: 4/10 -- vacation and book release week. So IM training took a back seat. Way, way back.

Nutrition elements: Eating everything possible while on vacation? Is that a nutrition plan?

Other: My training was pretty much crap this week, so let's just talk about the swimming, the only thing significant.  I didn't do either of my scheduled 2500 yard swims. But I did do three important swimming events this week which allow me to cut myself a little slack:

1) I did my first open water swim while on vacation in Ft. Myers, FL. I don't know how far my swim was (I just kept going out to a buoy and back, that I think was probably around 100-150 yards away), but I did it. The water was cold just in my bathing suit, but I felt okay.

Struggling with my arms
2) I did my first open water swim with my wetsuit. That was scary. I'm pretty claustrophobic, so I bought a used DeSoto two piece wetsuit off Ebay a few weeks ago, having read the two-piece nature of it would help a little. This was my first time using it.

The good news is, I didn't freak out. I got both pieces (the bib, long-john type piece that goes on the legs and torso and the jacket which covers the torso and arms). And I made it into the water and began swimming.

I'll be honest: I didn't like it, although I must fully admit that was because of ME not because of the suit. My shoulders felt constricted, I couldn't get into my grove swimming. It was all just yucky-feeling. It didn't help that all my friends were on shore watching, worrying that I might have some panic attack and flip out  (but, of course, they all had their phones handy so they could record it all and put it on YouTube if that happened -- as friends should).

Trying it in just the Bib
I swam probably 200-300 yards then decided to try it without the top jacket part and swam in just the bib. Having freedom in my arms felt MUCH BETTER, although the DeSoto bib is not meant to be used alone -- it created drag. I might look into purchasing the DeSoto Speedvest to go over the bib that would leave my arms free.

I would call it a successful first attempt at both open-water swimming and wetsuit usage. I definitely need more practice with both, especially getting past that 300 yard range where swimming becomes much easier and less sucky. The first 300 yards are always the worst, even in a pool -- I need to give myself a chance to get past that in a wetsuit and THEN see how I feel, so I'm comparing apples to apples. I'm excited to do that.

Looked a lot happier than I felt

Finished this week with the Smithfield Sprint Tri -- making me officially a triathlete. Race report is here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Smithfield Sprint Triathlon - Race Report

As part of my preparation for Ironman Florida, I registered for the first local (southeastern Virginia) triathlon of the season: the Smithfield Sprint Tri.

My first triathlon! (Yeah, those are pigs on the shirt)

It was a baby tri, even in the Sprint world: 300meter swim (in a pool), 10-mile bike, and 5k (3.1 mile) run. I do more than this amount on any given day of training for my Ironman. But I wanted to practice stuff like swimming and biking around people, and transitions. Turns out, I needed it.

It was a beautiful day for a tri -- sunny and mid-60s. I arrived at the race to get my bike racked in the transition area by 9:30am. Taking some good advice, I used a 5-gallon bucket to carry my gear in (so it could be flipped & used to sit on while putting on bike/running shoes).

My transition area
I tried to set everything out the way I would need them as I came in to the transition area both times. In front: hand towel, bike shoes (with socks in them), sunglasses on top. Helmet sat on my handle bars. In back: Running shoes, favorite running cap, running belt with running number.

Number 281
I headed off to get myself all marked up: race number on both arms and the front of both legs. (That wasn't so bad, I've gone to Tough Mudder races where they write your number across your forehead because it's the only place it won't come off).

But seriously, I'm getting to the age where that little number on the back of my calf is bugging me just a little. Sigh.

Because it was a pool swim, they started people every 15 seconds (based on submitted swim times). I was starter #281, which meant I began my swim at 11:24am. So, a couple hours of sitting around, but not too bad.

The Swim
So, it was a 300m swim. Basically, up one length of the pool, then back down, then duck under the rope and do the same thing on the next lane, for six lanes. It was a giant zig-zag. Pretty well organized for 500 people and one medium-sized pool.

I knew the swim wasn't going to be awesome for me. It normally takes 300 yards of SHEER MISERY for me to get warmed up in my swim. I am convinced I am going to drown in the first 300 yards every time I hit the pool, but by 500 yards I hit my stride and have no problem for the rest of 2500-3000 yards.

Today was no different with the misery. But had a couple of extra problems to boot: swimming in my tri-suit (and sports bra) and with my HR Monitor on for the first time.

You know that old adage about never doing anything new on race day? There's a reason for that.

Stupid, I know.  I KNOW.

Problem was the restriction I felt my sports bra and HR Monitor put on my chest -- I really felt like I was having difficulty breathing during the swim. It could've all been in my mind, but it was still not fun.

Anyway, made it through water, up and out of the pool and into the transition area.

Total time: 6:36 (Ranked 89/203 women)

Okay, so evidently all my preparation, still didn't help me too much. I sat down the wrong way on my bucket, so everything was behind me. (Somehow couldn't figure out just to spin around, so kept reaching backwards. Duh.)

I still had my swim cap and goggles perched on my head, so I didn't put the sunglasses on right away. Instead I threw them in my small bag, which later meant I had to hunt for them, costing me probably 30 seconds.

Dried off my feet, got my socks and bike shoes on. Helmet on and immediately clicked (no DQ for me!!). Finally found my sunglasses and I was off, awkwardly running my way through transition in my bike shoes.

Total time: 2:46 (Ranked 162/203 women -- wth?? I've got to work on my transition skills)

VERY HAPPY WITH MY BIKE RIDE!! I do not have much experience riding around other people, or in any sort of hills or turns. This was just the sort of experience I needed. Not too crowded, but enough to make me really be aware.

Hills were challenging and fun -- I actually had to change gears (compared to oh-so-FLAT Virginia Beach)!!! At the end of 10-miles, I would've gladly done it the course again, possibly two more times.

And I proudly did not fall off my bike when coming back into transition. Repeated my dismount mantra in my head: "Butt off seat, unclip bent leg". (I say that ever since I couldn't quite get my feet unclipped a couple of weeks ago and took a tumble)

Total time: 36:49 (Ranked 90/203 women)

Got the bike on the rack, bike shoes off and running shoes on. Sat down on the bucket the wrong way again. Sigh.

Spent at least 20 second trying to decide if I should clip my iPod shuffle to my running cap. I knew it was illegal, but didn't care. I decided not to, but regretted that decision a mile or so later.

Total time: 2:15 (Frakkin' 180/203 -- what the heck was I doing? How long can it take to change shoes for goodness sakes?)

Run was okay. Coming off the bike, I felt like I was going slow. But really, for me, I wasn't doing too badly -- averaging around 9:40 min/miles. Wished like heck I had my iPod. I finally pulled out my phone and got some music going. I was just listening out of the phone speakers -- no headphones. It was like a little tiny boombox.

Course was out and back, a few hills, but nothing unmanageable. Whole run was pretty uneventful.

Total time: 30:33 (Ranked 111/203 women)

Overall total time: 1:19:02 (Ranked 101/203 women)

What I learned:
1) I've done lots and lots of races in my time, but not triathlons. I can't just show up for a tri like I do a running race. Transitions for tri's take practice and organization. I need to think that through more. And get faster in transitions!

The dreaded tri-suit
2) Ahem, don't try anything new on race day. Nuff said.

3) I thought there was nothing less flattering for "normal sized" women athletes than running clothes. I was wrong: tri-suits are worse.

4) Nutrition: I'm still experimenting. I used a Generation UCan drink 30 minutes before the race. I felt fine in the swim and bike, but felt hungry during the run. Ended up eating a couple shot bloks. The UCan should've held me for the entire race -- not sure if that's a physical or mental thing.

5) I should try to do some sort of a warm up before a swim. 100 jumping jacks or running in place. Something that gets the heart pumping and breathing harder BEFORE getting into the water.

But I did it. I'll admit after this tiny race I feel woefully unprepared for my Ironman in November, even knowing I still have 7 months to train. But I am one step closer today than I was yesterday. Today, I am officially a TRIATHLETE. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Week 5 Training (March 24-30) - aka: Life Gets In the Way

Week 5 of 36. Thirty-two weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (March 24-30):

Total hours scheduled: 6 (originally 8, but traded with another week)

Total hours logged: 5

Total running miles this week/total: 11.2 / 64.7

Total biking miles this week/total: 15 / 175.23

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000 / 25000

Weight: x - 1. No change. Still trying to eat more protein. Also need to add in some weight training. 

Level of IM enthusiasm: 8/10. Enthusiasm didn't wane this week, but my available time sure as heck did.

Nutrition elements: None to speak of. Did have more success in use of UCan for a 2 hour run/swim combo. I keep hearing rave reports about it, so I want to keep it using it. Jury's still out.

Other: Tomorrow I leave for Florida for three days for a much-needed break with Capt Awesome. This week was absolutely frantic: both good and bad. Good: my first novel released this week, so that was quite exciting. Bad: I had a huge deadline and tons of stuff to do before my trip.

Plus, the triathlon fates seemed to conspire against me: pool closed one day when I showed up, Shane West had a flat tire when I went to ride during a tight workout window. I tried to get all my workouts in this week, but just couldn't. Such is life; I'm not going to freak out about it.

Next week will probably be a little light also because of the trip. I'll definitely get my runs in, but won't have Shane West available until Thursday. But, I aso plan to get my first open water swim in my wetsuit. Looking forward to that!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Week 4 Training (March 17-23) - aka: Nutrition - ICan, UCan, WeAllCan

Week 4 of 36. Thirty-three weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (March 17-23):

Total hours scheduled: 7:00

Total hours logged: 7:00

Total running miles this week/total: 16.43 / 53.5

Total biking miles this week/total: 38.08 / 160.23

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000 /20,000

Weight: X-1. Actually lost one pound, after four weeks of working out an hour a day. Sigh. I'm figuring out that as always, weight loss is more about what I eat than what I do. I don't necessary eat a lot, but what I do eat is almost all carbs. I know the changes I need to make. But knowing the changes and making the changes are two different things.

I'm trying to change my diet a little at a time. This week, it was substituting celery and peanut butter for one snack a day. Next week, I'm going to tackle my lunches, see what changes I can make there.

Level of IM enthusiasm: 8/10. Feeling good. Four weeks down, eternity to go.

Nutrition elements: I tried the EFS Liquid Shots I mentioned last week. It's 400 calories per container which is way too much for the shorter workouts I'm doing, then once it's open it's supposed to be used within 24 hours.  But I was doing a 1:45 brick, which would be through lunch, and I hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast so decided to use it for fueling/meal.

This stuff tastes pretty bad, imo. (I should probably preface this by saying that texture is a big thing for me in race nutrition. I don't like gels because they basically remind of really gross pudding.) The EFS Liquid Shot is not quite as thick as gels, so that was a plus. They weren't pleasing to eat (drink? -- I dunno, it's kind of that in-between consistency), but on the flip side, I never lagged for energy and I didn't have any of the gaseous feelings that sometimes comes from eating shot bloks. Somebody mentioned adding half a Shot bottle into a bottle of water. Might try.  Cost is also a factor: $5 each.

I'm also experimenting with Generation UCan. Here's their website, or really, an even better blog about the product is here. I used it once this week, and wasn't impressed. It claims to give you training energy for 2-3 hours without needing gels/fuels (due to some combination of dark magic and corn SuperStarch), but after 45 minutes into a long workout, my energy felt pretty low. I'll keep trying it, make sure I'm using it right before I give a final judgement. It's supposed to be used instead of carbs for pre-workout fueling, so I would like for it to work. Fingers crossed.

Other: Went on a long ride this week off the trainer and didn't fall, let's call that a win.

This week I've just been concentrating on not breaking the dam. So far, for 4 weeks, I have completed all workouts on my schedule. Sure, I've had to shuffle some around, and even cut a few short (whatcha gonna do when you're racing the school bus home for your elementary aged kids?).

But I haven't missed any workouts just because I didn't want to do them or because I've had deadlines or because I was tired. I KNOW I will end up missing workouts in the course of this madness I call IM training -- sickness, kids, vacation:  life happens, and that's fine. But I feel it's important that I don't miss a workout for no particular reason: that's a slippery slope that leads to more missed workouts.

I'm trusting that if I'm disciplined now, and for the next seven months, it will pay off on November 1.

Race/Training Tip (from others who know): The mental aspect of the race:  Start with a series of objectives in mind and if one is not achievable drop down to the next. But don't worry as the ultimate objective is to finish, and you have heaps of time. Even if you throw up during the marathon as I did, and think you have to drop out, don't. Just sit down for half an hour, eat real food and drink electrolyte and coke until you feel better. (http://www.endurancecorner.com/library/triathlon/strategy/first_ironman)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week 3 Training (March 10-16) - aka: You Might Want to Unclip That Foot Before Getting Off Your Bike

Week 3 of 36. Thirty-four weeks until the race.

What this week's scheduled training looked like (Mar 10-16):

Total hours scheduled: 8:00

Total hours logged: 7:50

Total running miles this week/total: 16.43 / 37.07

Total biking miles this week/total: 42.7 / 122.15

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000/ 15000

Weight: X (still. Seriously, no change? I'm eating too much. Will need to really start thinking about my diet soon.)

Level of IM enthusiasm: 6/10. A decidedly harder week for me, mostly because of work deadlines (but I got Book 2 in my series finished -- yay!). 8 hours of workout in a week is making me dread when I'm going to have 15-20 hours training in a week around Aug-Oct. Note to self: get my schedule clear as much as possible for those months. Duh.

Nutrition elements: Still nothing, really. I had one 1:45 bike ride that required some nutrition, but just grabbed my normal pack of shot bloks. I have these Liquid Shot EFS by 1st Endurance that I've heard really good things about, but those bottles have 400 calories. That's equivalent to two packs of shot bloks.

I generally don't do any nutrition for under an hour. After that I try to take in 200 calories an hour. So unless I break up the EFS bottle across a week's worth of workouts (a sip here and a sip there), I probably won't get to try these until close to June.

General notes: Had a couple of important newbie IM Milestones this week! First, I swam 2500 yards without stopping. That's 1.42 miles, or roughly 60% of the overall IM swim. It was in a pool, but still helped boost my confidence that I was able to get that distance completed, this early in the training season. Took 54 minutes, so if I kept that same pace at IMFL I would finish the swim in less than 90 minutes, well short of the 2:20 cut off.

Second milestone was on my bike. I do most of my rides on the trainer because there's nowhere nearby I can ride without fear for my life in all the traffic. But I had a 1:45 ride scheduled this week, so I took Shane West out to a local no-cars-allowed 16-mile bike loop.

But unfortunately, because I'm so used to being on the trainer (where my back wheel is held steady no matter what), as I was stopping I forgot that I was clipped into the pedals, then unclipped the wrong foot. Which all resulted in a pretty hilarious fall to the ground. I was going very slowly and nothing was really hurt but my pride (and a little skinned knee). Fortunately, no one else was around, or they could've heard me yell "Ohhhhh nooooooooooo!" as I fell. (Cue Ke$ha song: It's going down... I'm yelling timber!!)

I reported about my fall in one of my IMFL groups. They quickly asked the important question: was your bike okay?  I'm happy to report Shane West is just fine.

Now (for any newbies who might be reading), as I stop, you can hear me repeating my bike-stopping mantra: Butt off seat, unclip bent-knee leg. Butt off seat, unclip bent-knee leg.  If you don't do both of those, you're going to end up on the ground, looking kinda like this:
Seriously, this is exactly how I looked, but without anyone to laugh at me. And Shane West isn't pink.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Week 2 Training (Mar 3-9) - aka: That *#$^% Heart Rate Monitor

Week 2 of 36. Thirty-five weeks until the race.

This week's scheduled training looks like:

Total hours scheduled: 7:00

Total hours logged: 7:15

Total running miles this week/total: 9.97/20.64

Total biking miles this week/total: 51.50/79.45

Total swimming yards this week/total: 5000/10000

Weight: X (no change)

Level of IM enthusiasm: 8/10 - still excited to do my workouts every day. I just try not to think about how many more months I'm going to be doing this. Because that leads to: alajfpvoaipuvasdfmdebsyaoe. (head against keyboard in despair).

Nutrition elements: Still none. Although I have been practicing with some of the yummy, real-food workout fueling found in  The Feed Zone Cookbook.

General notes: Had to switch my workouts around due to the schizophrenic tendencies of  Mother Nature this week (snow and ice half the week, sunny and 60s the other half), and changed one 45-minute run into a 60-minute bike ride on the trainer (all my rides are on the trainer right now, that will probably stay true except for long rides, even when the weather gets nicer. More on my bike phobias another time).

My Heart Rate (HR) monitor continues to be the bane of my existence. I received some encouragement from friends, one ultra-runner in particular, who warned me that using a HR monitor could be a "soul-crushing" experience. 

That's just about the truth.

The normal HR formula (220 - your age = Maximum Heart Rate) that we've all seen on the wall of every gym and YMCA, was what I was using last week. Based on that formula, my Maximum HR would be 179.

So that would make my "Zones":
Z4 (90-95% Max HR): 162-171
Z3 (86-89% Max HR): 155-160
Z2 (75-85% Max HR): 135-153
Z1 (65-74% Max HR): 117-134

Except that last week I found out that my HR gets up to 176 in what I thought was a medium-effort run. To stay in my Z2 (where most IM training takes place for at least the first 12 weeks), I had to walk 3/4 of the scheduled time.

Soul-crushing, indeed.

This week I decided to educate myself a little more on HR training. I read a Runner's World article "How to Use a HR Monitor" which helped answer a lot of my basic questions.  They suggested using the formula Maximum HR = 205 - (.5 x your age), which would put my Max HR at 185. Much better.

To get an even more specific Max HR, I did the test they suggested. In an all-out three minute sprint, after significant warm up, my HR got up to 189.  So now I'm working with that number.
Making my new Zones:
Z4 (90-95% Max HR): 170-179
Z3 (86-89% Max HR): 163-169
Z2 (75-85% Max HR): 141-161
Z1 (65-74% Max HR): 123-140

I'm still having to do a crazy walk run combo to keep myself in Z2, but I'm hoping as my overall fitness level increases, and my fear of the HR monitor decreases, this will all start to click and become more natural for me. Fingers crossed.  

Next week's schedule:  Week 3 Training Schedule

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 1 Training (Feb 24-Mar 2) - aka: Getting Up at What Time?

And away we go!

Training scheduled for this week (Monday, Feb 24-Sunday, Mar 2):

I'll update with what the actual training hours (and miles, because honestly, the plan may talk about training in hours, but in my runner's mind it's still all about miles) at the end of this week. I'll also try to post a few emotional and personal stats each week:

Total hours scheduled: 6:00

Total hours logged: 6:00

Total running miles this week/total: 10.67/10.67

Total biking miles this week/total: 27.95/ 27.95

Total swimming yards this week/total: 4900/4900

Weight: X (okay, I'm a woman in my 40s. I'm not secure enough to put my current weight on a public blog. We'll just keep it X +/- whatever amount, each week)

Level of IM enthusiasm: 8/10 The thought of doing this another seven months is pretty overwhelming, but I was ready to get started on an official training schedule!

Nutrition elements: nothing fascinating, no workout was long enough to need nutrition. I have been concentrating over the last few weeks on eliminating coffee as the very first thing I need in the morning in order to survive. Have been pretty successful in that regard.

General notes: I am a night person. Blame it on being a writer or whatever, but my "natural" awake hours are from 10am - 2am. So adjusting to waking up at 6am-ish to get my workouts in before hubby goes to work has been TOUGH. Hopefully that will get easier.  Next week I'm going to talk about using the HR monitor, because that is flippin' killing me also.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Post Where I Can't Really Count that High

So training officially begins next week on Monday, February 24 -- 36 weeks out from the race. Everything fitness-wise I've been doing up until now (which honestly, due to life and other responsibilities, hasn't been very much -- mostly core strengthening, swim technique, and basic bike awareness) has just been extra.

This week I finally pinned down my training plan. It's a hybrid born out of the free TriFuel Supercoach triathlon program, some input from a local triathlon coaching team, and Don Fink's IronFit plan (as found in his book Be Iron Fit).

I go into my training fairly confident in my running and swimming abilities. Swimming... well, I grew up in South Florida, where they basically throw you in a pool a couple weeks after you're born, and you never get out again. I've also been a pretty avid scuba diver over the years. So even though I had to work on technique (in my swim clinic), I am not overly-worried about the swim.

The same is true about the run. I've been running for four years. I've completed two marathons (see that write-up here), and multiple Ragnar Relays (200-miles split between a team of 6 or 12 -- my most recent one here). Don't get me wrong: I'm not fast. I'm never going to be fast. But I know how to run.

But cycling. Heaven have mercy. I've never been a big fan of cycling. It's all new to me and it's all a challenge. December was Month O' the Bike for me to just get me accustomed to being on Shane West all the time.

Taking the above factors into account, I've made my IMFL Training Plan. You can see the overall mileage chart (actually really more of a duration chart) in the link near the top "My Mileage Chart".

But here's where I got a wee-bit worried:
The totals.  By the time November 1st rolls around in 36 weeks I will have spent over 90 hours swimming, 182 hours biking and 138 hours running. For a total of  410 hours.

(I told Capt Awesome that number and he just walked out of the room shaking his head muttering, "Just wake me when it's over...")

Btw, those numbers don't include the IM race itself, the Half Iron or other triathlon races I have scheduled this spring and summer.

This training plan is in time rather than distance (except for the swim part), which is new to me. I've always trained distance-based, but based on multiple areas of input I'm going to try this. I'll keep you posted.

But HOLY CRAP: 410 hours???? The equivalent of 10 weeks in a full time job.

Just wake ME when it's over.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Post With My Hardest Event Yet

I had my hardest IM training event EVER today, and it didn't involve running, swimming or biking. As a matter of fact, it only involved a couple of clicks of the mouse.

Today I officially cancelled my acceptance into the 2014 New York City Marathon. Due to the (now-defunct) "three-strikes, you're in" policy where if you signed up for the lottery but hadn't been chosen for the race three years in a row you received an entry for the following year, I had guaranteed entry into 2014.

But then, by some crazy chance, Princess, Hippie and I all were able to register for IM FL 2014 -- which sold out in minutes. And since IM FL is November 1, 2014, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to run the NYC Marathon on November 2, 2014.

The good news: I am able to defer my acceptance into the NYC Marathon to 2015. The bad news, I've got to wait another year to cross that off my bucket list. But I'll be there.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Post Where I Do One of the Things I Swore I Wouldn't Do

Okay, I'll just go ahead and admit it. I got all my hair cut off. And 85% of the decision came because of my IM training.

I had super long hair that I've been growing out for about three years. But honestly, lately it has looked like this most of the time:

When I signed up for IMFL, I promised myself I would not cut my hair just for the sake of training convenience. That promise lasted less than two months.

The effort to make my hair look nice was more than the time I had available to do it. So, when I found myself saying "You know, I just straightened my hair this morning (which took two hours), so I'm not going to work out today. Or tomorrow" -- I knew something needed to change.

Let's face it, when you're swimming 3-4 times a week and running and/or biking about the same amount of times, there's not a whole lot of time left over for hair styling.When Captain Awesome saw me attempting to tuck that mass of hair under a swim cap one day, he also encouraged me to get it cut.

So I did.  The result:

It's pretty, but I already miss my long hair. I'm not worried about it. It'll grow back. And it already takes 1/4 the time to style it as it used to.

Most importantly, I don't hesitate to jump in the pool for a 30 minute swim because it will mess up my hair. That sort of stuff is for girls.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Post With the Ironman Christmas Presents

I didn't get too many IM specific Christmas presents this year. For one, Capt Awesome and I don't tend to buy each other Christmas gifts. since we both buy ourselves whatever we want to throughout the year.

Plus, I just purchased Shane West and my entry into IMFL2014 in November, so I wasn't due any real presents.  But the IM-training Santa brought me a few cool things.

SportCount Lap Counter 
This is a ridiculously simple little piece of brilliance. You wear it on your finger and hit the button every time you touch the edge of pool after swimming a lap. And it keeps tally of how many laps you do.

That's it. Some people think that's not worth $25, but for me it totally is.

There are other models and gadgets (probably made by Garmin) that will keep your times and splits and make you a pancake or whatever, but I just wanted something that allowed me to swim without having to keep up with the number of laps I've done. This was it. It is great. Seriously.

Now I don't have to worry about whether this is lap 46 or 47 or 52, and can concentrate on my swim form. If I could figure out how to multiply by 25, then I'd know how many meters I'd swum.  But alas...

I bought mine on Amazon here, but you might find it somewhere else cheaper.

Waterproof iPod Shuffle
This is totally a luxury. But I have found that having music while in the pool has made my life much more pleasant. I wouldn't dream of running for 1.5-2 hours 3-4 times a week without music and now I don't have to swim without it either.

It's a regular iPod shuffle that has been sprinkled with fairy dust and super-duper waterproofing technology stuff. I also got the waterproof headphones because I didn't have any, downloaded my favorite playlists from iTunes and I was good to go. If music is worth spending $150 for and you can afford it (or are willing to eat Captain Crunch for a month instead of real food), I would definitely suggest this purchase.

Again, I got this on Amazon here, but if you shop around...

My Training Wedding Ring
I found that my wedding and engagement rings were giving me problems: coming off accidentally when taking off gloves, poking holes in my swim caps as I put them on, snagging on my running and cycling shorts.

So I decided I wanted to get a ring that wasn't very expensive that I could wear over the next 10 months while I'm training. (You know, to prove to all the guys that I'm married when they try to hit on me after I've been running 15 miles or cycling 50... because I look *so* good.)

I found Jim Little Jewelry on Etsy and really liked his spinner rings (one band that spins on top of another wider band). Classy. I contacted and asked if he could fit the phrase:  I am not afraid of this. 140.6  He could and I love it. Cost was about $50.

Be Iron Fit by Don Fink
Hippie, Princess and I all got this book for Christmas (well, actually I got it a few weeks ago). I've found this book to be the most useful of the ones I've looked through so far dealing with IM-specific training. It's got three 30-week training programs geared towards either competitive, intermediate, and "just-finish" IMers. (So think: willing to put up to 20 hours a week in training, 15 hours a week or 10 hours a week, respectively)

Lots of tips and secrets in this book and written from a perspective that we all have lives outside of IM that somehow must continue. Definitely should be on the shelves of any newbie IMer.

So I didn't get any critical training gear for Christmas, but I love all I did get.