Speed versus strokes

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I am finally back in the pool after a 3 month break after Ironman Arizona. The break was nice because making time for the pool is always a bit tricky. The problem with taking a break is I knew I would have lost a fair amount of swim fitness.

I swam 8 X 100 at threshold pace the last week.  After my 1000 yard time trial, my threshold pace came back as 1:40 per 100 yards. I know I can swim faster than that, but it will take some time to get faster over 1000 yards. After the 8 X 100 set, there is at least one aspect of my swimming that I am happy to see I have not lost. As a set goes on I tend to get faster. What I also liked to see was that as I got faster, I took less strokes! I would really like to swim 1:05 at Ironman Boulder this summer. This is promising!

Dermasport Skin Care – DISCOUNT

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I have been using Dermasport for about 3 months now and I love it! The set comes with 4 pieces to be used together. They are amazing! It leaves my skin feeling moisturized but not greasy. The scent is good for men or women (citrus-ish but not too strong). I am really hard on my skin with all the swim/bike/run that I do. Dermasport does a great job keeping my skin looking its best!

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Sticks and Stones

I had an unpleasant experience on the internet yesterday.  I had posted the following comment in a private group I belong to on Facebook. It is a triathlon based group that has been nothing but warm and friendly  over my past year of participation.Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 1.51.27 PM

I will admit, I  wanted to hear that I am not the only one who doesn’t like circle swimming with people who aren’t doing the same workout I am. But, I did expect to hear form some people that thought what I did wasn’t the bets way to handle it.

For a day the comments were very polite and generally on my side or at least understanding of what I did. On the second day I got a comment that really got under my skin and hurt. Essentially they said that my actions were rude and lame and I should have allowed them to swim with us. Another person then brought up that for newer swimmers the pool could be a very intimidating place and not being allowed to circle swim into the lane could have been off-putting. I can tell you I wasn’t rude when I told the person I would rather not circle swim but I will concede that it was kind of lame. I tired to echo that sentiment but was then told that what I did was a “D!*K move”.  Also, how would I have felt if it was my only time to swim and I wasn’t let in to circle swim. I stopped replying because I didn’t think it would serve any purpose.

A few words in my defense here. I ALWAYS share my lane happily with anyone who asks. I even intentionally swim on one side just to make my lane more inviting and open to others. If I show up to the pool and the lanes are all full with two people I wait until I can get in a lane that doesn’t require anyone to circle swim. I would rather cut my workout short, but get in as much of my quality structured workout as possible. And I don’t want to ask others to have to accommodate me circle swimming with them.

The part that really hurt was that the comments made me feel like they thought I was not an encouraging fellow triathlete. This really upset me; all the way to tears last night. I feel like this is so far from the truth about me and how I interact with others in endurance sports. I was surprised how much this hurt. I guess if I didn’t want somebody to call me out, I shouldn’t have posted it in the first place.

I guess if you want to be open in social media, you have to expect this to happen from time to time. I am not looking for validation that I was right or wrong on this. I just wanted to share this because it felt important to illustrate how much social media interactions can affect you.

Training With (virtual) Power – TrainerRoad

I recently finished the Tour of Sufferlandria which worked in conjunction with a pretty cool application called TrainerRoad. Now that I am starting down the road to Ironman Boulder, I wanted to talk about how useful TrainerRoad can be to your indoor cycling training.

The way TrainerRoad works is it uses the Ant stick that can talk to your Ant enabled bike devices. I use it with my Garmin speed/cadence sensor and heart rate strap. It will work with a variety of other Ant enable devices like a power meter if you have one. I don’t have a power meter so that is where TrainerRoad really does its magic. TrainerRoad will use the data it gets from your devices coupled with the type of bike trainer you are using and give you virtual power. Then, you can use one of the workouts in TrainerRoad to find your FTP (functional threshold power) and use that as the basis for all your workouts. It may sound complicated but it is really quite easy.

Now one of the reasons TrainerRoad works so great for training is because power is so much easier to train to instead of HR. Specifically, you can train immediately to power whereas heart rate is a lagging indicator. If you are doing short efforts at prescribed intensity levels, you can see the power output long before you can see the effort reflected in the heart rate data.

PowerHRGraphYou can see above that my HR doesn’t peak until well after I have done my 30 second interval. This was all achieved using TrainerRoad without a power meter. While you are riding TrainerRoad will display what percentage of your FTP you are riding. This way, if you coach tells you what zone to be in, you can easily use TrainerRoad to ride to the correct effort level. You can find information  about training zones just about anywhere. Below is the information I found on Joe Friel’s blog regarding zones.

Zone 1 <55% (active recovery)
Zone 2 56-75% of FTP (endurance)
Zone 3 76-90% of FTP (tempo)
Zone 4 91-105% of FTP (lactate threshold)
Zone 5 106-120% of FTP (VO2max)
Zone 6 121-150% of FTP (anaerobic capacity)
Zone 7 >150% of FTP (neuromuscular power)

TrianerRoad is a very cost effective way to use power if you don’t have a power meter. It costs $10/month or $99/year. They have a variety of workouts as well as amazing integration with Sufferfest workouts. TrainerRoad will make your time spent on a bike trainer more effective then training to rate of perceived exertion alone. If you have to use a trainer, you might as well do it right!

Coeur Sports T-Shirt Review

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As you may know by now I have been chosen to be a Coeur Sports ambassador this year. There really aren’t words to express how happy this makes me. I LOVE their products. Their Tri kit is second to none (and I have worn quite a few). I love their running shorts as well (review to come). But what I wanted to write about today are their t-shirts. The have the cutest line of extremely flattering and comfortable t-shirts. I am beginning to amass quite a collection!

I love a few things about them. First, the fit. They have a great neck line, perfect sleeve length , and they are long enough and cut properly that they hit your middle just right (I am wearing a medium). They are NOT the American Apparel standard t-shirt that shrinks so much that after two washes you need to give it to a 12 year old girl. They are feminine and perfect! Second, the prints and colors. They are bright, funny, and cheerful t-shirts. I am always getting compliments on them. And lastly the price. Not one of the shirts is more than $25. Pretty fair in this market.

If you have a special woman in your life you should totally surprise her with a cute Coeur Sports t-shirt! There are a couple that would make  great Valentine’s Day Gifts! #justsayin

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2015 Tour of Sufferlandria Race Report

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What a way to get back on my bike! I had only ridden a bike twice since Ironman Arizona in November but I wouldn’t dare think of missing the Tour of Sufferlandria. How could you possibly miss a virtual staged bike tour though a mythical country that takes pride in making you suffer? I know huh? Sounds amazing!

Honestly, this is a pretty amazing experience. Through the use of the Sufferfest videos and the amazing application TrainerRoad we rode with over 2700 others all over the world and raised over $100K for the Davis Phinney Foundation without ever leaving our homes!

The tour lasted over 9 days and you essentially had 50 hours to complete each stage. If you didn’t complete the stage during the window it was open you were dropped. Everyday we would log on to see how many people didn’t make it on. For us, the best part was there was no question we would finish the Tour which actually made it easier to get on the bike day after day; quitting wasn’t an option! The crazy part for Stuart and I was we had to fit a 50k trail run in the middle of the  Tour! Luckily, due to the 50 hour window to complete each stage, we started the tour as soon as we could which allowed us to fit in the race. You can get an idea of the effort from the picture below.Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.33.18 AMAs you can see the last two days were a doozy!

If you haven’t looked into The Sufferfest or TrainerRoad and you use an indoor bike trainer YOU ARE TOTALLY MISSING OUT! This is truly the best way to make good use of your time on a trainer for very little money.

Calico 50k Race Report 2015

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This was only my second time running a 50k and the first time was over 3 years ago!  Stuart and I got up a hour and a half before early at 3:00AM. We had done a good job prepping the night before so we were in the car just a few minutes after 3:30. We had chose to not get a hotel to save some money and make it easier on the dogs. If we ever do this race again I think getting a room in Barstow would make a lot of sense! But we got there on time so it was fine…just really early!

My only complaint about the race was check in. It took much too long to check people in. An alphabetized list would have made things go MUCH faster. Once we got checked in, made a potty break, and finished getting ready we had about 2 minutes before the gun went off!

I had told Stuart if he felt well he should run his own race and not hang back with me. We ran the first 2 (downhill) miles together and then he started pulling away. After the first two miles you start to climb. It is very gradual but you can tell by your pace that you are climbing. The running surface was really hard for me. It was very sandy and it made the running hard. I wasn’t expecting that. Once you start climbing you are essentially climbing until almost mile 18. You get a little bit of a break here and there but it is essentially up!

The aid stations were amazing! Very well stocked and the volunteers were super nice. I managed to eat real food all day; potatoes, PB&J, and oranges. They aid stations were about 6ish miles a part for the first part of the race and then once it got tough they were more frequent. I am not sure that was intentional but it really worked well!

We hit the high point of the run around mile 18. We then ran down the craziest bit of running I have ever done. I heard some people ran down that section. I have NO idea how that is even possible. I scrambled my way down on hands and butt very carefully. The rocks were sharp and hard and I didn’t want to take a tumble there. I made it to the bottom and took a moment to empty the rocks out of my shoes. This had been a problem all day. Gaiters would have made a lot of sense for this run. I had rocks in my shoes all day long.

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Total gain 3,957 ft

Once out of the steep bit we had a really nice 3+ mile down hill on reasonable surface. Of course this is where I fell! I was cruising along really enjoying the run when I just tripped over some rock and went flying. I scratched up my knees, hands, and arms pretty well. There was nothing majorly wrong with me so I got up right away and just kept moving. A few tears were shed but I just wanted to get moving so I could finish.

The next 10 miles got tougher and tougher. The terrain was hard and we had to climb a bunch again. I was pretty good until mile 24/25. I was passing a lot of people at that point but I was starting to get discouraged. It was a good thing I wasn’t running with Stuart because it kept my complaining to a minimum. The last 5 miles were brutal but I just kept moving forward. That was all I could do. I spent the last couple miles rehearsing in my head what I was going to tell Stuart when I finished. I had realized  that ultra running is not for me. I am good for the first 20 miles but after that I am not enjoying it anymore.

I got to the finish and fell into Stuart’s arms in tears.

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I am pretty happy with where I place in my AG. I got 4th and the first three women in my AG were the first three women to finish!

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I don’t think I am cut out for this kind of running. It is so hard that I stop enjoying it. Maybe it will get easier the more I do it but I am not sure I want to keep doing it to find out.

Even with that said, I would HIGHLY recommend this race. The views were amazing, the support was incredible, and  the people on the trail were so nice! The footing is difficult and the last five miles are extremely hard in my opinion. But it is a very cool race!

I am incredibly proud of my finish and I feel like I can finally call myself an Ultra Runner. But, I am not sure if I will continue to run like this. I have two more Ultras planned for this year, Sean O’Brien 50k and Leona Divide 50 mile. I am not sure I will be doing either of them at this point. Ultra running is WAY harder than Ironman training!

You can click here for the Garmin details.

Kit for this race included:

Plans Are Set! Ironman #3

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 9.27.37 AMWell, I know I said during my training for Ironman Arizona that I wouldn’t be doing another full in 2015. Well, I accidentally lied. Arizona went so AMAZINGLY well that I just couldn’t stay away until 2016. Also, the other race we had planned for, The Trans Rockies 6 day run just turned out to be too costly in money and time this year (we still want to do it and we have a few friends who want to do it with us). So once we ruled out the Trans Rockies that opened up the second half of the year…enter Ironman Boulder!

I chose this race for a few reasons. First, the timing is perfect. The bulk of my training will be done in June and July when the kids are out of school. That helps me get my training in without as much to juggle. Second, Boulder has a special place in my heart. I have been visiting there since the early 80’s when my Grandparents moved there. I went to college there. And Stuart and I hope to move there once the kids are all off to college. Third, the course looks like it will be a good fit for my abilities. The swim is in a reservoir (that I used to row in), I know the run course fairly well, and the bike looks reasonable. The only real unknowns are the weather (could be hot) and how will I manage in the altitude. We will be able to drive to the race so that helps with the choice as well. Forth, I have the support of an amazing team with my Coeur Sports Ambassadorship! I am thrilled to be in the company of such great women and amazing sponsor and products! I just couldn’t stay away from Triathlon. And last, many of my Cactus Buddies from Arizona will be there!!!

I am thrilled that I will be able to work with my coach again! Jen did an amazing job coaching me to a performance I never expected to have in me! I can’t imagine doing this without her on my team again! I am careful to not expect it to go quite as well as Arizona did. Mostly because it was so perfect in Arizona I don’t know how I could get that lucky twice!

I plan to stick to the same training principles I used while training for Arizona. Biggest thing will be to keep things simple again. I will find a bike loop this time to mimic the Boulder course as best as possible and I may look into one of the altitude training masks. I would like to do one recon trip to Boulder to scout the bike course. Only issue is time and money (isn’t that always the case?). But one of the things that worked so well for me in Arizona was I knew the course. I need to feel that comfortable with Boulder as well.

Of course none of this would have been possible without the love and support of Stuart. I really changed my mind about our plans this year (Grand Canyon is out as well). That really through his year up in the air as well. I am beyond grateful for his love and support to do another Ironman this year. I can’t wait to see what big race he picks so I can cheer him on as well.

Change of Plans

I have been struggling lately with the trail running. It has been much harder than I expected but I am still committed to completing some of the events I had planned for 2015. I am still on doing two 50Ks, the 50 miler, and the Rim-to-Rim-to Rim crossing. The big race that is falling off my schedule is the TransRockies Run. This event looks absolutely amazing and my roommate from college even helps run the event. But once we really looked at the cost of it, we had to make the adult decision and not signup. We have too many other things at home that need looking after right now to do this race at this time. We have every intention of trying to get out for this race one day. It just won’t be this summer.

So where does that leave my 2015 year? I am not really sure right now. I need something to work for after May. I am still so incredibly motivated by my success a Ironman Arizona that I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to do another 140.6 distance event. But committing to that event impacts everybody in my family. There are a lot of scenarios going through my head right now. Once I figure it out, this will be the first place it is made public!

Trail Running Adventures

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Stuart and I headed for the trails on Sunday (as usual) and had another adventure (as usual). We are NOT very good about getting up and out early but we are getting better about prepping the night before and at least having a plan! We parked our car at both ends of a local trail that runs about 6-7 miles long. We stocked both cars with food so we could refuel on either side of the run. We had 22 miles total to run so we knew we would need to tack on a little extra somewhere.

We tried to eat more “real” food and less processed endurance items (gels/Gus/chews). We had PB&J on brioche bread (OMG so yummy), boiled salted potatoes with salt for dipping, and oranges for me. This approach worked great! We got all the food down easily and felt pretty good with it! The only thing I noticed was a little lack of energy that I think was due to the fact that I didn’t have any caffeine while running. I may stash some Mexican Coke (made with sugar, not corn syrup) in the car next time to fill this need.

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We tried some unknown trails but thanks to maps on phones we were able to easily see where we were going and that we should get where we wanted. We never saw a Private Property signs nor No Trespassing signs so I am pretty sure we weren’t any place we shouldn’t have been. But, we decided that we would pretend to know where we were going unless we were questioned. And in that case we would pretend we were total lost! Luckily we got out right where we thought we would! (Click here for the Garmin details)

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The part of the adventure that wasn’t so much fun was all the self-doubt I started having. I am a very positive person. But my last couple runs have been really hard. Of my 5 runs a week, usually only 2 of them go well. I am wondering if maybe I bit off a little more than I can chew this year. After spending 6 weeks running like this I can say that Ironman training was easier than ultra running training!