May 29, 2012

Ironman Week 21


Oh man, this was the week where I felt like I was just living Ironman training. It was my biggest volume week thus far, and while training took up all of my free time, the rest of the time I was exhausted and starving. The latter was no joke, I was eating everything in sight. Overall it was a great week with one really long, big day (see Friday) and by Sunday's long run my body was feeling the accumulation of the week's training. I'm happy with how it all went, but it also got me looking forward to post-IM when I once again have some free time and am no longer a slave to triathlon.

am: swim / 3,300 yds / 1:20
Another swim distance PR! The highlight actually had nothing to do with the workout - it was the showdown I had with the swim team coach. I think I've mentioned it before, but the swim team at my gym is notorious for using more than their allotted lanes for their practices. They happen to practice in the evenings when I often do my workouts...I think you can see where this is going. I got there around 6:30 and hopped into lane 2 (designated as lap swim during this time slot) and started my warm-up.

When swim practice started around 6:45, I was interrupted in the middle of a lap by a swim team kid. When I reached the wall the coach was standing their and informed me that they needed to use my lane. I told him that according to the chart, this one (as well as lane 1) were designated for lap swimming. His response was that he didn't care what the charts say, and I shot back that I was a paying member of the club. He then asked me if I was going to move, and I said no. He didn't bother me the rest of the evening and I eventually shared my lane with another lap swimmer. The whole time I could feel all the parents' eyes on me. Sorry, but your kids' swim team is not the most important thing, and it does not require the entire pool!

Anyway, this swim felt super long, and my arms were pretty tired by the end. My whole body was tired from the Motherlode ride the day before, and I found it hard to hit faster paces.The first set of 50s I averaged about 47", the 300s I did at a 1:55 pace (not quite sure what IM race pace is yet), and the second set of 50s averaged 49" as I was pretty tired by that point.
  • warm-up: 500 easy
  • main:
    • 8x50 fast on 1:20
    • 6x300 @ IM race pace effort (~1:55)
    • 8x50 fast on 1:20
  • cool-down: 200 easy
 amazing sunset post-swim

    pm: run / 3.6 mi / 0:26 / avg 7:23
    This track workout just about killed me. After a 0.5 mile warm-up and drills, we were given the workout: 6x800 at 2 minutes faster than half marathon pace. Seeing that my most current half marathon pace was about 8:30 (at Shamrock'n in March), that meant 800s at 6:30 pace....ummm yeeaaa riiiight. After the first two, I knew there was no way I could run that pace for that many intervals, and instead settled for an all-out effort, whatever pace that ended up being (3:25, 3:27, 3:33, 3:37, 3:38, 3:38). I felt like puking several times, but thankfully never did. I didn't have time for a cool-down as I had a work gathering to rush off to.

    I was also supposed to do an easy hour ride this morning, but gave into temptation and slept in. And for once, I didn't regret it a bit : )

    am: bike / 26.5 mi / 1:30 / avg 17.7 mph
    I had the option to do this workout on a trainer or on hilly terrain outside. There aren't a lot of hills that don't require a drive, and since I was doing this before work I wanted to start from my house to save time. So to simulate hills I did 2x [5x2:00] in the hard gears. I felt pretty strong throughout, and the intervals made the time go by faster than usual. It ended up being a really good workout and a great way to start my day.

    am: run / 6 mi / 0:56 / avg 9:20
    Easy morning run with my pup along the river. Afterword I attended the memorial service for a friend who passed away last weekend. I've known him and his family for a very long time and it simply broke my heart to hear the news. After the service I spent the afternoon amongst old friends, reminiscing about good times, but knowing someone was missing and would always be missed.

    pm: swim / 2,500 yds / 1:00
    • warm-up:
      • 200 easy
      • 100 kick
    • main:
      • 5x50 as 25 fist drill/25 swim, RI = 10-15"
      • 10x100 on 1:50
      • 5x50 as 25 fist drill/25 swim, RI = 10-15"
      • 10x50 on 1:00
    • cool-down: 200 easy
    By the time I left the memorial I was mentally exhausted, but I still had to go into work for a couple hours. I almost skipped this swim after, but somehow made it to the pool. The usual MTC swim was switched to an open water swim earlier in the day, so I was on my own for this one. Those 100s absolutely killed me! I wasn't sure how fast I could swim them, and I was afraid I'd be too slow and have practically no rest. To my surprise the first one clocked in at 1:37, but as I went on they eventually got closer to 1:41. I took a little extra rest halfway through and was again able to get sub-1:40 but slowed again by the last few. Lastly, just a word on fist drills - does anyone else feel like an idiot when you do them?

    When I saw this workout on my schedule, I initially thought it was a mistake. A 3 hour brick and a 3 hour long ride? No way. But after a quick text to coach, turns out it's the real deal. Let me just say it was a looooong day!

    pm: bike / 35 mi / 2:00 / avg 17.4 mph
    I procrastinated and got a later start than I'd planned, but I was on my bike around 11:30am. The forecast had predicted rain, but so far it had held off. As I started out, however, their were some ominous dark clouds off in the distance. Since I had to run and then ride again, I wanted to use my house as home base, which meant I did my riding and running on the bike trail. I did an out-and-back to Discovery Park and then went out another 20 or so minutes in the opposite direction to finish up the first leg of the day. Felt pretty good, but I knew I still had a lot coming.

    pm: run / 6.5 mi / 1:00 / avg 9:14
    I took my pup along for the company and did a loop around the river. I tried not to push it since I still had another long ride coming up. I took a Gu halfway through since I was starting to get hungry and wasn't even close to being done for the day. I got rained on a bit at the start of the run, but within the first mile it was all sunny skies. This was seriously a bipolar weather day.

    pm: bike / 51 mi / 3:00 / avg 17 mph
    I took a short break after my run to eat something and mix some more Gu Roctane. I also wanted to rest my bum and neck which had started to give me trouble on the first ride. After about 30 minutes I headed back out, this time in the opposite direction toward Folsom. My legs felt surprisingly decent, but my left shoulder and the side of my neck absolutely killed me. I knew it was a fit thing, but it made the ride a little miserable. The clouds were the strangest thing today, and except for a little wind (mostly a crosswind, thankfully) it ended up being a perfect day for a ride. 

    I turned around at Beal's Point and headed back down the bike trail, and then added on another 15 minute out-and-back to reach 3 hours. I was pretty pleased with how I did on each leg individually and the workout as a whole. It was my longest yet (and my longest ride - although broken - at 86 miles) and gave me some confidence for IM. I do think I could have ate more since by the end I was starving (I averaged about 250 cals per hour). I spent the rest of the day crashed out on the couch, eating whatever I could get my hands on.
     Beal's Point, Folsom Lake
    pm: swim / 2,600 yds* / 0:50
    This was originally supposed to be a rest day with the swim on Sunday, but I had plans Sunday evening so I switched things around. I headed to Lake Natoma after work, and as I got closer the sky got ominously darker. I was hoping it wouldn't rain on me, and wondered if an open water swim was such a good idea. When I got to the lake, however, despite a cloudy and dark sky there was no rain, so I went for it. It wasn't a great swim like the last few times. I got chilled midway through and just wasn't into it mentally. I went a ways further than in the past since I had 50 minutes to do, and it just felt long. The best part was looking up and seeing a big rainbow in the sky. On a random note, does anyone else feel drunk after a longer open water swim? I always stumble around for a few minutes and feel dizzy...maybe it's being vertical after being horizontal for so long? Or maybe it's just me... ; )

    am: run / 17 mi / 2:41 / avg 9:30
    Similar to last week, this long run was tough. My muscles felt better than they did on the last one, but I was slower than I expected to be. I know I need to cut myself some slack; I can't expect to see my usual running paces after a big week like this. And so I focused on effort instead of pace, and actually ended up speeding up a fair amount in the last few miles. It was a beautiful morning and quite peaceful out on the bike trail. I did an out-and-back in one direction and then did my usual on foot commute to work.
     up on the levy
    from J St. bridge, with Guy West bridge in the distance
     pit stop at Glenn Hall
    McKinley rose garden

    swim: 8,400 yards
    bike: 112.5 miles
    run: 33.1 miles
    other: 0 hours
    total time: 14.7 hours

    May 25, 2012

    Ironman Week 20


    I am way late in posting this, but Ironman training has officially peaked and taken over my life, leaving little time to write about it since I'm so busy doing it! This week was a big jump in overall training time (usually average 10 hours/wk, this week I hit 14 hrs), and my body responded accordingly with tired legs all week long. I got a massage at the beginning of the week which contributed to the soreness, too, but paid off by the weekend. Some milestones this week included my longest swim to date (although I've already surpassed it this week), a 16 miler that was my longest run since marathon training, and an attempt at my first century ride that turned into a metric century thanks to a brutally hilly course. The best words to describe me this week: sore, tired, and hungry!!

    am: bike / 16.8 mi / 1:00 / avg 16.8 mph
    Man I had tiiiired legs for this ride! I think I was still tired and sore from my long ride and trail run over the weekend, but I just couldn't muster any speed. Afterward I headed to the massage appointment I'd been looking forward to since Wildflower. Todd absolutely destroyed me this time around! This time he knew my problem areas (hamstrings and hips) and spent the majority of time on them. My hips are still the worst. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but I could barely handle him digging into my side. I felt bruised and sore for several days after, but by the end of the week I could finally feel the benefits.

    am: swim / 3,000 yds / 1:10
    • warm-up:
      • 200 easy
      • 200 kick
      • 200 pull
      • 200 easy
    • main:
      • 6x100 as 25 fast/75 easy
      • 12x50 fast on 1:30
      • 6x100 as 25 fast/75 easy
    • cool-down:
      • 100 easy
      • 100 kick
      • 100 pull
      • 100 easy
    This was my longest swim to date, and the first time seeing a 3 in front of my total distance. I swam in the morning, and I almost forgot how much I love it : ) The workout wasn't too difficult, despite it's length. My 50s averaged 48 seconds, which I was fairly happy with, and with a good amount of rest after each one I stayed pretty consistent.

    pm: run / 4.6 mi / 0:35 / avg 7:37
    I've come to the conclusion that I am way more motivated for track workouts when I have others doing them with me, which is why MTC track nights are so great. This one was a doozy and by the end I was running on fumes. That last mile was a long one!
    • warm-up: 1 mi
    • main:
      • 4x400 (1:34, 1:31, 1:36, 1:36)
      • 2x800 (3:38, 3:33)
      • 1x1600 (7:44)
    • cool-down: 0.5 mi
    Afterward I rushed to a goodbye dinner for two of my good friends (and coworkers) who were moving to Colorado. Both are phenomenal runners and wonderful people, and I have no doubt there futures will be incredibly bright. It was certainly bittersweet, but I'm happy for them, and I know I will see them again. And now I have a great excuse to visit Colorado : ) Gonna miss you guys!
    Chris & Erin, soon-to-be famous runners!
    Erin, me, and Courtney, my fave Fleet Feet gals

    am: bike / 26 mi / 1:30 / avg 17.3 mph
    Started out the day a bit earlier than usual to fit in a midweek brick workout. Nothing too special about the ride.

    am: run / 3.3 mi / 0:30 / avg 9:05
    Even though it was only a half hour, I struggled through this run. My legs just felt tired and heavy from the start.

    am: run / 16.1 mi / 2:30 / avg 9:19
    I had the day off so my long run ended up being a bit earlier in the week. This was the farthest I've ran in a while, and I'll be honest, it was not easy. I was able to keep up a decent pace, but it never really felt easy. My legs were still really sore and tired, I think from the longer/harder workouts of late and from Monday's killer massage. I stopped several times to try and stretch out, and while it would help for a bit, I'd end up having to do it again a couple miles later. It was also warmer than I expected and my allergies flared up leaving my breathing more labored than usual. Despite all this the second half was better than the first and I was glad to get the miles in.

    The bike trail that I do most of my running and riding on has quite a bit of wildlife, and during nearly every workout I spot squirrels, jack rabbits, quails, turkeys, and sometimes the occasional coyote. During this run, however, I spotted a first: a turtle! It was just sitting there on the side of the trail, a little bigger than my hand. I just stopped and stared, then got closer to look at it in detail, then figured it wasn't a very safe place for him to be so I picked him up and moved him to the river side of the trail. He retreated into his shell while I moved him, but after a few seconds of putting him down, off he went! Definitely the coolest animal I've seen so far!

    pm: swim / 2,400 yds / 1:00
    • warm-up:
    • 200
    • 100 kick
    • 200 drill
    • 100
    • main:
      • 50 hard, 100 super easy
      • 100 hard, 100 super easy
      • 150 hard, 100 super easy
      • 200 hard, 100 super easy  
      • 4x100 on 2:00
      • 50 hard, 100 super easy
      • 100 hard, 100 super easy
    • cool-down: 150 non-free
    Another tough workout with MTC! Partly tough because I ran 16 miles earlier in the day, but also because there were a lot of "hard" sets. This was definitely one of those workouts where during you hate it and just want it to be done, but when it's over you feel awesome : )

    Ahhh, glorious rest! I originally had a tempo run to do, and no rest days scheduled this week, but I opted out since my legs had been so tired all week and clearly needed the rest. I also took my bike in to the shop to have my new cassette installed and ended up getting a new chain, too.

    am: swim / 2,100 yds* / 0:40
    Headed to Lake Natoma after work for another awesome open water swim! I seriously love swimming here, mainly because of the crew buoys that give me a line to follow underwater. Without having to sight all the time I can get into a great rhythm and swim forever! And yes, I know it's good to practice sighting, but I figure come race day there will be plenty of other people to keep me swimming in the right direction. The best part of these swims, however, is that my comfort in open water has improved immensely. I went a little further this time, and realized the buoys go on much further than I realized!

    am: bike / 68 mi / 5:06 / avg 13.3 mph
    Ahhhh, the century ride that wasn't. I attempted my first 100+ mile ride at the Motherlode Century, only to come up a tad short and stop at the metric century after an insanely brutal course. There was more climbing over the 68 miles of this course than there is over 112 miles at Coeur d'Alene, so it was great training despite the shorter distance.
     my awesome company for the ride!
    at least there were awesome views!
     Mosquito Bridge
     South Fork of the American River

    swim: 7,500 yards
    bike: 110.8 miles
    run: 24 miles
    other: 0 hours
    total time: 14.0 hours

    May 21, 2012

    Motherlode Century (Race Report)

    Aka, the century that wasn't. Before I get on the the rest of the report, let me just get it out of the way - the full century didn't happen. A lot of different factors played a role, and it was still a fantastic training ride, but I'd be lying if I said a part of me wasn't a little disappointed. I will break that triple digit barrier soon enough, yesterday just wasn't that day. And now on the the recap!

    The morning started much earlier that I would've liked, leaving Sacramento around 6:15am for the hourish drive to the little town of Lotus in the Coloma Valley. There was a little group of us triathletes doing the ride (either the 102 or 67 miles) so we all met up at the start, easy to find one another since our tri bikes stood out like sore thumbs : ) We checked in, used the bathroom, studied the map, then were off for the first stretch of the ride!

    I wasn't sure how my legs would feel after such a big week of training, but was pleased that they didn't feel like lead. I did feel tired though, so I knew it would still be a long day. I had great company though - my coworker, Anandi, and One10 teammate Kevin, both also doing Cd'A, were attempting the century with me, and One10 teammate Amity and her friend Carrie, who are both training for IM Canada, were going to do the 67 miles course. We were quite the group riding along as 4 of us had Cervelo tri bikes, 3 the exact same P2 model!
    the (unofficial) Team Cervelo! Carrie, Kevin, me, & Amity
    The first 10 miles weren't too bad, but they were full of rollers as we headed for the little town of Cool. Nothing long or steep, but we were constantly going either up or down. I've never rode in a group outside of a race situation, so I tried not to stay within myself and listen to my body rather than try and push it to stay with someone who's faster. We all sort of did our own thing, since some of us excel more at climbing, descending, or flats. We were never too far from one another, and met up at each aid station to regroup. At the first aid station there was an array of breakfast foods, but I wasn't hungry yet so I grabbed an orange slice and nibbled on a Honey Stinger waffle. I also tried to figure out my heart rate, which hadn't been working since we started, but it continued to be on the fritz so I ended up just turning it off. Kind of wish I'd had it since I'm pretty sure I reached an all time high later in the ride!

    We continued on with 16 miles til the next aid stop. The rollers continued, and one in particular didn't seem to end. It wasn't steep, but it went on and on. None of us had really studied the elevation profile closely, so we had no idea how long it was, and every corner we'd turn it would just keep going up! My new cassette (I switched to one that's better for climbing) made a huge difference on the hills. I felt like I could actually "spin" up them better. On the steep stuff that came later it didn't make as much of a difference, but on the long, steady climbs it was awesome. This hill in particular ended up being about 4.5 miles, and we were all pretty happy to finally reach the top. From there we had a nice, long, winding descent that lead us to the next aid stop. We hung out for a bit and snacked, used the bathroom, and quizzed the volunteers on what the next section was like. We were told it was "pretty easy" with a long descent through Coloma Valley. After that last climb we were looking forward to it!
     aid stop #2

    The next section began exactly as it had been described - a long, sometimes precarious, winding descent down Garden Valley Road through Coloma Valley with breathtaking views of the green hills and American River below. We stopped a couple times for photo ops and then turned onto the less-than-smooth Rock Creek Road. This section was maddening as it looked like a slight downhill, but felt like we were going uphill...which we were. We eventually did start descending again and eventually found ourselves at the bottom, crossing the river at Rock Creek Bridge. Now what we all failed to think about as we were flying down the road a few miles earlier is that we'd have to climb back out of the valley. And sure enough, after crossing the bridge, we did just that. Another good 4+ mile climb which, again, never seemed to end. That was one of the most maddening things, not knowing how long the hills were and not being able to see the top!
     the first of many stunning views of Coloma Valley
     just hanging out
     American River

    Rock Creek Bridge

    We somehow made it out of the valley and to the next aid stop at Finnon Reservoir around mile 44ish. We had planned to stop briefly and continue on to the lunch stop, but our legs were all so tired from that climb that we stayed a bit longer and tried to take in some calories and fluids. I was having a tough time taking in calories while riding since we were constantly going either up or down, and looking back I probably should have consumed more. Similarly to trail races I grazed at the aid stations and munched on what looked good - namely watermelon, licorice, and boiled and salted potatoes. It had also started to really warm up - it would get to 90 degrees by the end of the ride - so fluids were critical, too. Once again we inquired about the next section (note to self: study the course map/profile in advance!). We were told there was a big descent down to Mosquito Bridge, then a climb up to Placerville. The latter was supposed to be short and steep after the bridge, and then fairly gradual. That would turn out to be the understatement of the century.
    aid stop #3
    Unfortunately that climb didn't crest at the aid stop, so we had a little ways to go before we finally reached the top. Then we had the scariest descent I've ever done. It was long, steep, and winding with hairpin turns, and barely wide enough for a bike and a car. It was here that my hands started killing me from holding on so tightly and braking so much. You literally could not let up the brakes without immediately gaining a ton of speed. Both Amity and Carrie had to stop a couple times just to rest their hands and compose themselves, and I kind of wish I had, too. Riding downhill can definitely be fun, but this was nothing like that. I was so thankful when I reached the bottom, but my hands felt raw and my heart was pounding. The video below shows the last section of this descent down to the bridge, but doesn't quite do justice to how it feels in real life.
     Mosquito Bridge
    that middle section is tricky!
    When I reached Mosquito Bridge I noticed the smell of burning rubber. Immediately after the bridge there was a steep climb so I figured I'd keep my momentum going and start up it, but within a few feet my bike was making horrible screeching noises with every pedal stroke, so I stopped and headed back to the bridge to wait for the others and figure out what the hell was going on with my bike. I was just hoping I hadn't burned out my brakes! When Kevin got there we looked at my bike and we realized that my back tire was too close to the frame and was rubbing. We (ok, he) thought that the heat had caused the air in my tire to expand, which closed the gap between my tire and the frame. That had been what the smell was, too; the friction between my tire and bike frame as I was coming down that hill. We released a bit of air and hoped that would help.

    What followed is one of the hardest things I've done in my life. Seriously, the climb up from that bridge was so hard I almost simultaneously puked, cried, and had a heart attack. Plenty of people walked up part of it, and everyone was crawling up. The first half mile seemed almost vertical; we found out later it was a good 20+ grade at the steepest point. The only reason I didn't stop was because I knew I wouldn't be able to get going again on something so steep. My bike continued to screech as I climbed, which made everyone look at me in the midst of my hardest climb ever, dripping in sweat and grunting with effort. I'm sure I looked lovely. There was a little plateau after the steepest part and I unclipped and could barely stand on my wobbly legs. I was gasping for air, and my heart rate was surely in the nonexistent zone 6. Most other riders had stopped, too, and we all commiserated on how tough that was, and tried not to talk about the fact that the road continued up.
    pictures don't quite do this hill justice
    When Kevin got to the top he looked at my wheel again and this time actually moved it back to create more space. This did the trick and I had no more squeaking (note to self: on a warm day, do not inflate tires to capacity). When we'd all regrouped at the little plateau we reluctantly got back on our bikes and continued. While the worst of the climb was behind us, it kept going, not as steep, but much, much longer. I tried to keep my effort steady and not push, but the entire time my easiest gears did not feel easy enough. Several times I considered stopping, but again I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get going again. I was seriously near tears at the top, and could barely catch my breath. Amity had beat me to the top and was similarly ravaged by the climb. While waiting for our friends we got to chatting with some of the other cyclists who'd stopped for a break and were surprised to hear them all say this was one of the hardest rides they'd ever done, which including some pretty infamous rides and courses. That made me feel a little bit better (and a tiny bit proud).
    yes, we're tri geeks : )

    After several minutes we still hadn't spotted our friends, and we started to worry. Carrie has been dealing with a lower back issue and Amity was worried all the hills were giving her trouble. Not long after we saw her and Kevin walking their bikes up. Carrie was having a tough time breathing, and so both decided to call it an early day and get SAGed in. This was also when Kevin, Anandi, and I started to voice some reservations about completing the full century. Mercifully the next few miles were a gradual downhill with some flats that lead us into downtown Placerville. We had a couple more little climbs left - because apparently we still needed to earn our lunch - including the one and only hill I walked my bike up. We rounded a corner and the road just went straight up. It was steep, and I knew my legs wouldn't make it all the way up, so rather than risk unclipping halfway and falling, I just said f*ck it and walked up. And let me tell you, just walking that sucker was tough! I met Kevin at the top and we continued the mile or so left to Placer High for the lunch stop.
    the one and only hill I did on foot
    We grabbed some food and drinks and found a spot in the shade. All we could talk about was how exhausted we were, how much our legs and hands and bums hurt. We started entertaining ideas of stopping at the metric distance and driving to the bike trail for a flat 35 miles to get to 100 for the day. At this point none of us were really considering doing the full anymore, we just had nothing left. It wasn't that we couldn't handle the mileage - I think we absolutely could have. But those last 35 miles had an additional 1,500 ft. of climbing with a 620 ft. climb up Pilot Hill, and our legs definitely could not have handled that. We took a long break here, resting our legs, eating (I definitely needed more calories at that point), and trying to negotiate a SAG for Amity and Carrie. I checked the website on my phone to see what the course description was for the next section, since up to that point the people we'd talked to hadn't exactly been reliable. Fortunately it described it as a mostly downhill cruise to the finish.

    After spending a good hour at the lunch stop we finally found the energy to get back on our bikes and continue on. This was hands down the most mild section of the ride, although it still managed to be slow going on such tired legs. I ended up going ahead of Kevin and Anandi and rode much of this section myself. I encountered a few assholes who felt the need to fly past me at top speed, but tried not to let it get to me. There had been another guy earlier who felt it necessary to flip us off as he passed us. Really? It's unfortunate how little tolerance some people have and how blatantly rude people can be. Not to mention how dangerous their behavior can be, too. Ok, rant over : / Around mile 65 I approached the turn with arrows pointing direction for the 67 milers and the century riders. I was a little bummed to be turning right and cutting it short, but I was also a little happy I wasn't going straight - and right up another nasty hill! There were some nice gradual declines over the last few miles, gentle enough that my hands didn't start cramping from riding the brakes. And then soon enough I recognized my surroundings and found myself back in Lotus where we began our journey nearly 8 hours earlier.
    back where we started at the S. Fork of the river
    I waited a few minutes for Anandi and Kevin, and as they rolled up both said they were done for the day. I had still hoped to add on some mileage, but it was already 4pm, still hot out, and I was exhausted. Even though I knew it was a great, challenging training ride, I was disappointed that I hadn't accomplished what I'd set out to do. After a few minutes of really thinking about it I decided to call it a day, too. There is still opportunity to tackle 100 miles before race day, and after 67 on a course like that it will be a breeze. The ride ended up being my longest ever by about an hour (total riding time of 5:06), but still under my longest distance ever (70 miles). Based on that info you can see it was slow going yesterday! In all, we had 5,200 ft. of elevation gain over 67.4 miles (although my Garmin says 6,200 ft. strangely). Either way, it's close to what I will see at Ironman (6,100 ft.), which will be spread out over 112 miles. After this ride, I'm much more mentally prepared and confident for Cd'A.
    elevation profile
    We hung out for a bit and grabbed some food from the organized dinner, relaxed, and talked about the ride. I even chatted with the race director, and when I told him how our day went, he said he didn't recommend this century as someone's first, that it was way too challenging. He said we should be proud to have finished what we did. And, now that I've had a little time to think about it, I am.

    May 18, 2012

    Bike Things

    I've been a bit of a slacker on the blogging front over the last couple weeks. Training has finally become really intense and work has been crazy, so I honestly just haven't had the time. That's not to say that I haven't had a lot to say - I do! So I'm hoping I can make a little more of an effort to keep this thing up to date.

    This Sunday marks a big milestone for me: my first century (100 mile) ride! From the beginning I planned to do an organized century as one of my super long training rides, and after some Google searching I landed on the Motherlode Century this weekend. The timing is perfect, it's relatively local, not too expensive, and other training friends are participating as well. I'm excited to get this one under my belt, but just a wee bit nervous about the course. It boasts 6,900' of climbing over 100 miles, so it's a hilly sucker. That's also well over what I will encounter in Coeur d'Alene, so it should be good training!

    My longest ride thus far is 70 miles, so this is definitely a jump, and on a much more challenging route, too. I plan on keeping it pretty leisurely and focusing on pacing and fueling. The latter is going to be especially important, both in keeping me going on Sunday and figuring out what will work for Ironman. I plan on doing my usual routine, but increasing quantities, and also will probably take advantage of the food and drinks at the aid stations. The course, which winds through Coloma Valley is supposed to be quite beautiful, so hopefully that makes up for the tough terrain.

    In other bike news, a few weeks ago I read a great post by Nicole (also training for Cd'A) on a simple way to make riding hills easier - changing the cassette (aka the gears on the back). Similar to Nicole, I found that while going up certain hills I wasn't able to "spin". In other words, the easy gears weren't easy enough. Nicole seemed to have good results with the change, and since we happen to have the same bike, I figured it was something I should look into. After talking to a few people and doing some research I decided it was a good idea, so I ordered the new cassette and today I had my standard 12-25 Shimano Ultegra cassette switched to the new 11-28 Shimano Ultegra cassette. The numbers, by the way, refer to the number of teeth on the gears, but that's as technical as I'm gonna get! This should make it a tad easier to climb but also allow for more power on flats. I haven't had a chance to test it out yet, but will certainly get to on Sunday! And Nicole, thanks for the tip : )
     the new chain & cassette!
    hopefully i can keep it this clean & shiny : )

    While I was having the cassette installed the mechanic was nice enough to check over everything else, and it turns out my chain was already stretched out and needed replacing. Apparently a chain is only good for a certain number of miles, and it seems I've reached that point! He also mentioned that it could use some lube, and I was embarrassed to admit that I had never personally cleaned or lubed the chain since I bought it. Hmmmm, maybe that's why my chain was in bad shape? Let's just say bike lube was an easy sell today : / While he may have been shaking his head at me internally, he was actually really helpful and showed me how to apply the lube that will both clean and lube the chain. And in case you didn't know - because I sure didn't - this should be done at least once a week! Lesson learned.

    And lastly, let's talk about my bum! Or more specifically (and probably more appropriate), my saddle. As I've mentioned before, about 30 miles in to a ride, I start experiencing very uncomfortable pressure from my saddle. I mentioned it to my coach, who has the same saddle (Adamo), and she thought I might need to tilt it forward a bit more. When I compared mine to hers, it pretty much looked  horizontal, so while I was at the bike shop today I had him tilt it a bit. Not sure if this will help but my bum sure hopes it does. Only Sunday will tell. I'm honestly more worried about this issue than I am about the hills! I do have a professional bike fit scheduled for the end of the month, because I really do think a lot of my discomfort, both on the saddle and elsewhere, is a fit issue. And I may end up looking for a new saddle. Fortunately, the bike shop has several styles they allow you to test out before making a purchase.

    And so that's the latest in cycling news! Anyone else as clueless about bike care as I am? Any good saddles to recommend?

    Ironman Week 19


    Coming off of Wildflower I sort of expected this to be a recovery week. And while the first few days were fairly easy by Friday things had ramped up quite a bit! Highlights from the week include a new cycling distance PR, a return to trail running (oh, how I've missed it!), and a kick ass open water swim. All in all another great week of training!

    pm: swim / 1,300 yds / 0:30
    • warm-up: 200
    • main:
      • 300 as 25 FTD/25 swim
      • 300 as 25 CU/25 swim
      • 300 focusing on distance per stroke
    • cool-down: 200
    Most of the day was spent driving back from Wildflower, so I opted to wait until the evening to fit in my swim. I almost skipped it, but was glad I didn't. It was short and easy, and the water actually felt great on my tired and sore legs.

    pm: run / 3.1 mi / 0:28 / avg 9:02
    About half of the MTC group had competed at Wildflower so we were given a nice and easy track workout - 3 miles with a short pick-up each lap. Although my legs weren't too happy to be running yet, it was fun to socialize and share stories from the weekend.

    am: bike / 18 mi / 1:00 / avg 18 mph
    I felt surprisingly good on this ride and was able to push the pace. No idea where it came from, but I'll take it!

    pm: swim / 2,450 yds / 1:00
    • warm-up:
    • 200
    • 4x(25 kick/25 backstroke/25 drill/25 swim)
    • main:
      • 100 easy
      • 100 easy, 50 fast
      • 100 easy, 100 fast
      • 100 easy, 100 fast, 50 pull
      • 100 easy, 100 fast, 100 pull
      • 100 easy, 100 fast, 100 pull, 50 fast
      • 100 easy, 100 fast, 100 pull, 100 fast
    • cool-down: 100
    Another MTC swim workout, and this one was quite the doozy. The main set was sort of like a ladder, and it was not only hard to do, but hard to follow, too! It took a good 5 minutes of explaining from our coach before we comprehended it enough to give it a go. I felt really slow and lethargic, but chalked it up to still recovering from Wildflower and tried to cut myself some slack.

    pm: bike / 70 mi / 4:07 / avg 17 mph
    So much for a rest week! I had a 4 hour ride on deck and I tried to find someone to join me for at least part of it, but no dice. I told myself it would be good mental practice to cover the distance solo, and I think it was. It was supposed to be a hilly ride, so I opted to start from my house and head up the bike trail to Beal's Point, which has some nice little hills leading up to it. From there I headed up Auburn-Folsom. My plan was to stay on that road, but then I spotted signs for the bike course for the triathlon going on the next day and decided to follow them to change things up. I figured it was a fairly safe idea with minimal chance of getting lost since I could just follow the signs back. The course took me on some quaint country roads with rolling hills for about 8 miles. I did miss a turn on the way back and almost got turned around, but I managed to find my way back.
    Beal's Point, Folsom Lake

    The first 10 miles or so of the ride really sucked. My legs just didn't seem to have much power, and hitting my usual speeds took more effort. It did improve as I went, and the second half ended up being much more pleasant than the first. I fueled well (2 servings of Gu Roctane + water and 3 Honey Stinger waffles) and hydrated plenty since it was quite warm. My legs were certainly tired, but what really killed me was my saddle. Again. Just like at Wildflower, by mile 30 it was extremely uncomfortable. After talking to my coach I'm going to try some adjustments with the angle of the saddle, and I have an appointment for a legit bike fit at the end of the month. Gotta get this under control! I stopped a few times to stretch and use the bathroom, both of which were necessary on a ride this long. I ended up with a negative split so I headed out the opposite direction to add on a bit more, and figured I do an extra few minutes to come to a round 70 miles for the day.

    It felt great to finally have a solid long ride under my belt, and I'm pretty happy with how it went (although I don't know about another 42 miles!). Next up is my first century this Sunday - more on that later!

    Since Sunday was going to be busy with work and working out I took the opportunity to take my mom out for dinner to celebrate Mother's Day. I can't say just how lucky I am to have such an amazing and supportive mom. She's been my biggest fan since I started this crazy lifestyle and has always supported and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. She's truly one of a kind, and I'm proud to call her mom : )

    am: run / 8.5 mi / 1:43 / avg 12:07
    My long run this week was supposed to be a trail run, and fortunately my coworker, Courtney, agreed to come along. It's been a while since I've hit the trails and while I was excited, I was also a bit anxious to see how my tired legs would do on some hills. We headed up to Auburn and started from the Overlook. I had 2 hours on deck but after a later-than-planned start we decided to cut it short and run down to No Hands Bridge and back, about 8ish miles. The first half was mostly downhill as we made our way down to the bridge over the American River at the bottom of the canyon. It was a beautiful morning, and I was having a great time enjoying the trails and taking in the wonderful views. Wildflowers were in bloom everywhere, butterflies were in the air, and everything was lush and green. We crossed a few little creeks and one lovely little waterfall : )
     talk about a view!
     American River

    We made pretty good time down to No Hands and continued on a couple minutes before turning around to head back. I was feeling pretty good, but knew that the way back would be much more challenging as we had to make our way up and out of the canyon. Surprisingly it wasn't my legs that were holding me back as much as it was my lungs. I don't know if it was the elevation (really not that high, but I do live at sea level), or more likely, allergies. Courtney was having a rough time on the way back since she's been dealing with a cough lately, so we made sure to take it nice and easy and hiked all the hills. There's one long little winding hill that was especially painful but we trudged our way to the top and continued on. Poor Courtney took a little tumble just before we were done, so she's officially earned her trail running stripes!
     No Hands Bridge
    the worst of the hills

    pm: swim / 1,600 yds* / 0:30
    I couldn't recruit anyone to join me, so I headed to Lake Natoma after work for another half hour of open water swimming. I was actually kind of excited to do it since the buoys for crew are still there and act like lane lines : ) For some reason I grabbed a sleeveless wetsuit when I left work and was afraid I'd be too cold, but it actually worked out fine once I got moving. I did get some funny looks from people as I walked up wearing a wetsuit and got in, and I'm sure most thought I was crazy : )

    I felt great for the majority of the swim. I found a rhythm much quicker than last time and just cruised along. There were a couple times where the current was noticeably strong and I almost freaked out, but it was nothing I couldn't handle, surprising more than anything. I made it around the rectangle in 25 minutes so I added on a little out-and-back to get to 30. The best part of the swim was when I got out and a couple told me they'd been watching me and were impressed by how fast I was! I explained that the wetsuit and current helped, but they said I still looked great : )

    swim: 5,350 yards
    bike: 88 miles
    run: 11.6 miles
    other: 0 hours
    total time: 9.3 hours