Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken

For the past three months I’ve completed nearly every one of my training sessions solo, with the exception of a couple swims and a few group classes, so it was a treat to be joined by friends last week for a couple workouts!

First, Kate Elliott joined me for part of a run after her early morning Thursday strength class.

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Don’t be fooled by her sweet smile…she’s a fitness beast!

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Then on Friday, Jenni Miller joined me for part of a ride during my swim-bike-run workout (sorry I didn’t snap any pictures–too busy pedaling).

Training with friends makes all the difference, especially when things get tough. Last week’s volume was lighter, but my body was still feeling REALLY grumpy, perhaps letting me know that when you accidentally do a full century the weekend before, you might feel it later. Ha ha. Or when you ignore things, they don’t always magically go away.

What brightened my day was riding part way up Gibraltar with Jenni. Chitchatting about life while you’re cranking out the miles takes your mind off everything but the fun. Thank you Jenni! After we parted ways, I still had a couple more hours of riding solo, which was fine, but definitely not comfortable or joyful. That is until out of nowhere, fellow SB Tri Club member, John Abrami, appeared on Shoreline Drive, pulling me along and putting the zip back into this ride. Thank you John! You have no idea what a difference you made in those few miles we rode together.

Not only did John and Jenni lift me up, but so did friends who happened to be driving in my direction near the end of my ride, rolling down their window to offer encouragement. Sometimes it’s the tiniest things that pick you up! Thanks Brett and Wendi! The run afterward? Let’s just say I was grateful for all the positive vibes that surrounded me on that day.

I don’t share any of this to complain or say, “Woe is me,” because my issues are not special. We all have them. And who wants to hear about other people’s aches and pains? NOBODY.

I only share this with you to celebrate the extraordinary power of friends.

It reinforces the notion of one my favorite proverbs:”A bundle of sticks can’t be broken.”

As an individual “twig,” when the pressure of training and life pushes hard, it’s easy to be snapped in half, but with the support of friends, family, coaches, teammates, and other supporters, our “bundles” become nearly indestructible.

This sits on my desk at home, a gift from one of my dearest friends. It's a constant reminder of the strength that always surrounds me.

This sits on my desk at home, a gift from one of my dearest friends. It’s a constant reminder of the strength that always surrounds me.

My bundle showed its strength even more after my workout on Friday when my friends and massage therapists extraordinaire, Larry & Stephanie Trager, squeezed me in for a little work on my angry ribs and back. Thank you Tragers!

You can imagine how much I appreciate Coach Mike in the mix of my bundle of sticks. This week he’s scaled my schedule way back so my body can hit reset. His wise council and experience are what will keep me healthy and moving forward. I’m so grateful to have him in my corner.

This is what’s on tap this week:
Monday: Swim 1200y
Tuesday: Run 40 minutes, Bike 60 minutes
Wednesday: Swim 1000 y
Thursday: Friday: Bike 2.5 hours, Run 30 minutes off the bike
Friday: Off
Saturday: Run 60 minutes, Swim 1000y
Sunday: Off

Here are a few snaps from Saturday’s long run. After being surrounded by friends during Friday’s “mini tri day,” I ran solo again–this time for 1 hour and 50 minutes. I opted for mostly softer surfaces, doing loops around the flat trails at the Douglas Preserve, then running on grass over at La Mesa Park, then down and around Shoreline Park.

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Stopping to take in the view and stretch out my back for the umptienth time.

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This is what I look like when I’m trying to muster up a smile because I’m so freaking happy to be putting this run behind me. Some days you just gotta suck it up buttercup and get it done. The good news is that it can only get better!

Commitment

And just for fun, here’s a little randomness… Continue reading

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Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs

So far Ironman training has been a series of many highs, a few lows, and a whole lot of “regular days” thrown in along the way. It’s kind of like life, right? If every day was a high, we’d never appreciate it because we’d have nothing with which to compare it. It would just be our “normal.” It’s kind of like the Tibetan proverb, “Pain exists to measure pleasure.”

The reason I get so stoked about a great training day or a little breakthrough is knowing that I’ve finally overcome a struggle or “challenge,” and I’ve come out stronger in the process. You all know that feeling, I’m sure. Small victories that really only matter to us. The reason I share them with you isn’t to brag, but to say, “If I can do it, you can do it.” No matter where we’re at in our training or where we started, we all have goals we’re trying to achieve, and if we do the work, we will reach them.

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Photo credit: Apple Fitness

This week I’ve had several small breakthroughs, which have me doing a happy dance. One involves swimming, one involves cycling and one involves running–I guess you could call this a mini “tri”-umph (sorry, couldn’t help myself). Scroll down a little further to read about it if you’re interested.

In the meantime, here’s what this week’s schedule looks like:

Monday: Swim 1500y
Tuesday: Run 1 hour tempo run
Wednesday: Swim 2500y, Bike 1 hour
Thursday: Run 50 minutes, Kate’s strength and stretch class
Friday: Swim 1000y, Bike 2.5 hours, Run 20 minutes off the bike
Saturday: Run 1 hr 50 minutes
Sunday: Rest

Cycling Breakthrough: I completed my first 100-mile bike ride last weekend during the Solvang Century! If you follow me on Facebook, you already know the story, but for those of you who don’t, here’s what happened: I had originally planned to do the metric century, which is 70 miles with 1,380 elevation gain, but somehow I missed the turn-off and soon discovered myself deep into the full century course. Oops! The only thing I could do was laugh and embrace the challenge. I ended up riding 100 miles with a 5,351 elevation gain. Yowza! It was double the distance I had ridden up until then. And you know what? IT WAS AWESOME!

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The best part is the mental boost I got from it. Not only was it gorgeous riding through wine country (imagine lush green rolling hills after a big rain the previous day–sorry I didn’t stop to take pictures), but it also threw several challenges at me, which were great for my training….like being REALLY cold for a couple hours at the start, being blasted by wind often and using my aerobars much of the course, riding with all kinds of cyclists and avoiding crashes from wobbly people inching up hills to massive pace lines blasting by me. I also got to practice how much I can eat and drink while riding (a lot, by the way), and figure out the best way to alleviate discomfort, which is inevitable when sitting on a bike for seven hours.

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By the last sag stop at mile 83, I was dreaming of the finish line, especially as I overheard several veteran riders talking about the upcoming hills with fear in their voices. One guy overheard them too, and started chatting with me as I was about to get back on my bike. “Those hills are nothing,” he said. “We’ve already covered so much elevation, they’re like little speedbumps. You go get it, girl. Don’t take nothing from those hills!” And that’s what I did, powered up every single one of those #$*% “speedbumps.” Thank goodness for second winds that seemingly come out of nowhere and for random people who know exactly what to say at exactly the right time.

Running Breakthrough: Last Friday, I realized that I finally stopped worrying about re-injuring my hamstring. Maybe it’s that Mike has me running at a slower pace, but I no longer feel that tinge of hammy woes when I run. It used to pull/strain with every stride and now it doesn’t! This is huge because the fear of going back to those dark months of not being able to run has lingered for a long time, and until now it still didn’t feel 100% healed. I think I’ve finally turned the corner! HUGE happy dance!!!!

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Here are a few pictures from last Friday’s rainy jaunt, an hour-long run after my morning swim. Everything was so fresh and green, it was a treat. I snapped these right before it started pouring.

 

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Swimming Breakthrough: After my century ride on Saturday, Mike scheduled me for an easy 1500y swim on Monday to let my body recover. Normally, I’d break it up into 500y increments or shorter, but this time I decided to see if I could swim all 1500y without stopping. You know where I’m going with this…cue the happy music…yep, I got it done at a moderate pace and I didn’t even feel like I was dying! When I first started training, 500y felt epic for me, and I always felt miserable. Now I know without question that I will be able to swim 2.4 miles (4224 y) by November. And I don’t think it will take me 3 days to do it! 🙂

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Photo credit: Popsugar

Gear test: After riding 100 miles last weekend, it became painfully clear that I need a new saddle for my bike. The one that came stock on my bike is hard as a rock–fine for sprint tris and shorter distances, but not so comfy for the long haul. Whenever I have a bike issue or question, of course I head to Hazard’s. Bruce and Matt are the best. Today Bruce got me set up with this Cobb Plus saddle to demo. I’m excited to try it out today. Think extra cushy thoughts for me….

CobbPlusDemoSaddle

Smile Train Update: This was a week to celebrate in the fundraising department too! Thank you Stephanie Trager, “Anonymous Donor,” and Joe & Maria Fazio for your generous contributions this week! We are now 58% of the way to our goal of funding 20 kids for corrective cleft surgery.

“I’m so happy to be able to change the life of a child and know that he or she will now be able to face the world with confidence,” one donor recently expressed.

We’re just $100 away from funding our 11th child! IF YOU’D LIKE CONTRIBUTE AND BE A ROCK STAR SUPPORTER PLEASE CLICK HERE!

Happy trails everyone. I hope you all have a great week!

xo Becky

As always, if you missed any of my previous posts, you can click on the links below…

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust

Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust

Taking on a new adventure always involves trust on some level– whether it’s trust in yourself, trust in others or trust in the process. Ironman training requires all three, and that’s what I’m focusing on this week. Now that I’m fully into week ten of training, I’m trusting more and more in my abilities to pull this off in November. I’m visualizing myself crossing the finish line and seeing myself in various parts of the race, believing that I’ll find strength and extra fuel in the tank when I need it most.

The ability to trust comes from putting in the work each day. Each mile or lap completed adds another drop of confidence in the “HELL YES I CAN, and WILL” bucket. It also comes from trusting your coach and the process, even if it’s different than what you imagined or what you’ve done in the past. Trust is opening yourself up wide to possibility and believing with every fiber of your being that you will succeed.

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Here’s what this week’s schedule looks like. It’s a recovery week so it’s lighter than usual, then next week it will ramp back up.

Monday: Swim 2400y, Bike 75 minutes
Tuesday: Run 60 minutes
Wednesday: Swim 2500y, Bike 60 minutes
Thursday: Run 40 minutes, strength/Pilates
Friday: Swim 1500y, Run 60 minutes
Saturday: Metric Century ride in Solvang (70-miler)
Sunday: Rest

Happy Girl: Last week I mentioned my growing pains from pushing my body in new directions. Even though I’m diligent with my recovery (good nutrition, stretching, foam rolling, resting, etc.), I knew a massage is what I needed most to loosen up my IT Band, shoulders and psoas. Yesterday my lovely and talented massage therapist, Stephanie Trager, worked her magic, and batta boom, I’m ready to roll again. Thank you Stephanie!!

Gear I’m loving this week: I’ve talked about this before, but small details can make a big difference in endurance training. This week I bought a new swim cap. Big whoop, I know. But this one is for long hair (I didn’t even know they existed until I read it on the Women for Tri FB forum), and it has made a huge difference in eliminating a minor annoyance when I swim. My old ones would start to slip off after every so often so I’d have to stop and adjust them. A new cap that stays in place, topped off with goggles that no longer drive me insane or leave me looking like I’ve been punched out (Aqua Sphere Vista), this mamacita is finally settling into her swimming.

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Breakthroughs: As you know, swimming has been a huge challenge for me, but I am slowly making progress. This week I finally broke a 2:00 100y pace, which is still slow by speedy people’s standards, but it’s an improvement for me, especially since it was done in a 25 y pool, which involves three turns. Small victories. That’s what keeps me going, so join me in a virtual high five this week! Woot! I also got a tiny bit faster on my bike. Double Woot!

Highlights: This week I enjoyed my first ride on Gibraltar Road, a steep, scenic road in the mountains of Santa Barbara. I’ve heard about this road for years, but never ventured up until now. Silly, silly me for waiting so long. It was spectacular. I’ll be honest, I was bit intimidated by the thought of tackling Gibraltar, always hearing people talk about as if it were Mt. Everest, and also reading about gnarly crashes on it, but I trusted that I was ready and able to check it out. I only went part way up because I’m sticking to my training plan, but it was not nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be. Definitely a good challenge, but well within my abilities, and well worth the effort. I’m already looking forward to doing it again.

The view part way up Gibraltar Road.

The view part way up Gibraltar Road.

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Challenges: Last week I shared my lactate threshold test with you (click HERE if you missed it). Now that we have the numbers, Mike has me running at a much slower pace than I’m accustomed to, to keep my heart rate below 140 (Zone 2). I never imagined this would be difficult. In the past, I’d just go out and run, cruise along at a comfortable pace, and enjoy my time on the road or trail, not giving much thought to my HR. During my last run on Tuesday, however, I kept having to slow down, and I never got into a comfortable rhythm. This will take some practice and patience, and will take reminding myself to trust the process, as it feels completely counterintuitive, even though intellectually, I know running in Zone 2 is good for building aerobic fitness, fat-burning capacity, and endurance. Ooooooohhmmm.

At least I had this to look at while I was forcing myself to slow down on my run.

At least I had this to look at while I was forcing myself to slow down on my run.

Looking forward to: This Saturday I’m participating in the Solvang Metric Century, a 70-mile organized, supported ride north of Santa Barbara. Don’t ask me how they figured that math, but I’m just going with it. This will be 20 miles farther than I’ve ridden in years, and once again, I’m trusting in my ability to do it, and enjoy the process. Treating it like a long training ride will give me a good opportunity to practice my fueling and hydration for race day. Think sunny thoughts! The forecast is calling for rain (only 30% though).

Smile Train Update: It was an exciting week in the fundraising department. We raised another small bundle to help fund more kiddos for corrective cleft surgery. We’re almost half way to funding our 9th child! Thank you Kim Shlens, Whitney Bruice, Tuckman Family, McNees Family, and Laura & Chad Bergerson for your helping making a difference in the lives of children. We are now at 42% of our goal of $5,000, which will fund 20 kids for surgery. If you’d like to be a rock star supporter, please CLICK HERE TO DONATE. And don’t forget, anybody who donates $250 or more (the cost of one new smile) will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. If you donate $100-$249 you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card.

Thank you once again for all the support you’ve shown me over these last ten weeks, whether it’s words of encouragement, advice, “likes” on my blog showing me you’ve swung by, or simply sharing in the process. Trust in myself also grows from surrounding myself with people like you who support me and my goal, and have no doubt that I will reach it.

xo Becky

And as always, if you missed any of my previous posts about how this big Ironman adventure started, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains

Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains

This week my body is definitely letting me know that I’m training for an Ironman. Multiple things hurt in varying degrees. LOL. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not injured, nor is anything keeping me from training. I just have lots of little aches I like to call “growing pains” as I continue to grow and push myself in new ways. All I have to do is remember why I started this big adventure and the aches quickly turn into motivation as they remind me that I’m moving in the right direction.
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This week I swam farther than I’ve ever swum (swim, swam, swum?), which is exciting, especially since it felt fairly good. Last week I also rode longer than I’ve ridden in years, and I also hit double-digits on my long run. It makes sense why ice, ibuprofen and my foam roller have become my BFFs. It will be temporary though, as I keep working at getting stronger and fitter, and make sure I spend a little (0r a lot of) time each day working on flexibility.
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Here’s This Week’s Schedule:
Monday: Swim 2900 y (1.65 miles)
Tuesday: Run Lactate Threshold Test, followed by 75 minute bike ride
Wednesday: Swim 1000y, yoga (aaaah), run 30 minutes
Thursday: Kate’s strength & stretch class, then a long spinning class (75 minutes)
Friday: 3.5 hour bike ride followed by 60-65 minute run off the bike
Saturday: Swim 2000 y
Sunday: off
A few pictures from last weekend’s long run…I felt incredibly spoiled last weekend to be able to spend my Saturday morning running along More Mesa and other points along the coastline. Even when my legs felt like bricks from my previous day’s mega swim-bike-run workout, I couldn’t help but feel like one lucky chiquita.
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The view along More Mesa during my 10-miler.

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After every long run I try to soak my legs in the ocean–Mother Nature’s perfect ice bath.

Lactate Threshold Test: Tuesday I did something new–a lactate threshold test, which was both interesting and challenging. Many of you already know what this is, but for those who don’t, it’s simply a test where you run on the treadmill, starting slowly, then increasing your speed every three minutes while somebody pricks your finger to draw blood and measure the amount of lactate. At the same time, your heart rate is monitored and you are asked what your perceived effort is on a scale of 1-20. You do this until you can no longer continue.

The information gathered helps you and your coach pinpoint the best training zones for your workouts. I did my test at The Lab with Bentley Nunes leading the way. He was awesome, by the way.
Here’s what The Lab’s website says about the test.
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Here are some pictures that Kate took for me. She also videotaped me too, which was helpful in seeing things I could improve on with my form. Thank you Kate!
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Bentley looking like mad scientist. 🙂

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And that’s a wrap. The final blood draw after I said “Uncle.” Yowza, that was a good challenge!

I’m looking forward to seeing the results, and using them to train smart, then doing the test again several months from now to see if a change in my fitness raises my threshold.
What’s in store: Tomorrow is my long aerobic day once again (I can’t believe how quickly this week has flown). I’ll be riding for 3 1/2 hours, then I’ll run for an hour afterward. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to get a little more sleep so hopefully I won’t have another insane workout like last Friday’s (click HERE if you missed that embarrassing day).
Smile Train Fundraising Update: Thank you Amy and Jenni for your generous contributions to my Smile Train fundraising page last week!!! We are getting close to funding our 7th child for life-changing cleft palate/lip surgery!! Woohoo!! If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider making a contribution. A 7th new smile would be something to celebrate, for sure. Here’s the link: http://support.smiletrain.org/site/TR/AthleticsEvent/General?px=3630403&pg=personal&fr_id=1701

And as always, if you missed any of my previous posts about how this big Ironman adventure started, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)

Finally, a big shout out to several awesome people who just keep helping me get stronger each week and who help me figure out lots of small details, which make big differences…Coach Mike, Killer Kate, Erin, Kristine, Bruce, Jenni, and Mary Jo (the lady in the pool who gives me unsolicited swimming advice–I’m learning so much from her!).

xo
Becky