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. (

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