Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster

This week has whizzed by so quickly and has been such a rollercoaster, my head still feels like it’s spun around backward. Today is my rest day though, so I finally have a chance to slow down and chill. When weeks spill over with activities, commitments and appointments, it reminds me that often the hardest part of Ironman training is simply chiseling out the time to do the workouts, then of course finding the energy to complete them.

This week, after regrouping from spring break, I was up until the wee hours several nights working on taxes and getting our beloved Roosevelt Running Club organized for its kickoff. Needless to say, when my alarm went off early Monday morning, I felt like I needed a caffeine IV drip to drag myself to the pool. Settling for a mongo cup of coffee, I piled into my car and gave myself a pep talk the whole way (“Don’t think, just go. Don’t think, just go. You got this.”)…only to arrive to this…

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Argh. Clearly, it was time to dig even deeper. Fortunately, when I posted this on Facebook several friends immediately offered back-up solutions. It was like there was no way they were going to let me fail at training. Thank you friends! Especially Greg, who offered a guest pass to the tennis club near our house. He even swam laps in the lane next to me. So, so nice.

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My beautiful “back-up” swim location at the Tennis Club.

This workout reinforced mightily though, that sleep deprivation has no place in Ironman training. Every lap felt ten times harder than normal, and with my fuzzy brain, I kept hitting the wrong buttons on my Garmin. I also realized I mixed up my swim workouts so I did Wednesday’s instead of Monday’s. Not the best way to start the week, especially since my ride afterward wasn’t much better. But I got it done, and that’s all that matters.

Here’s what this week’s schedule looked like:

Monday: Swim 1800y, Bike 90 min.
Tuesday: Run 60 min., Bike 75 min including 20 minutes of hill climbing
Wednesday: Swim 2300y
Thursday: Killer Kate’s strength & stretch class, Bike 60 min.
Friday: Swim 1000y, Bike 4 hours, Run 20 min. off the bike
Saturday: Run 90 min with 2 x 10 min pick-ups
Sunday: Rest

Tuesday’s run and ride weren’t much better than Monday’s after being up late again, but what made them better was bumping into several old neighbor friends along the way. On Jesusita trail I ran into Kathy who was hiking with a friend, and although we only talked for a minute, her sweet words of encouragement helped lift my feet a little higher.

Then in the evening after slogging through my ride, especially up Gibraltar, I rode down the street where we used to live and bumped into several old neighbors. Chatting with Ruth for a few minutes put everything into perspective. She never has anything but kind, encouraging words, and her strength and positive energy are palpable. Many of you who live in Santa Barbara may have heard the recent devastating news of the murder of Dr. Henry Han, his wife and 5-year old daughter. Well, Dr. Han was the lovely human being who was helping Ruth kick liver cancer’s ass. Now she’s not only grieving with so many others, but starting all over again with her treatments. My “tough training problems?” Clearly laughable. Ruth is an Ironwoman every day whose fortitude is no match for cancer or any other challenge.

After chatting with Ruth the evening before, my rollercoaster of a week started on the upswing. Continue reading

Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

This week Ironman training has been all over the map. With spring break, taxes and a whole lot of “this and that,” I’ve been squeezing in my workouts whenever and however I can. That’s life, right? Since I’m still in the throes of it all, this post is a bit of this and that, and it’s much later than usual.

First of all, I thought I’d share a view of the last twelve weeks. I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual person so I like to tape my workouts to the wall behind my door to remind myself of what I’m doing and what I’ve accomplished. It helps remind me of the work I’ve already put in so when I need an extra boost of “Oh yes you can, girlfriend,” all I have to do is look at it. Week 13 and 14 (next week) will be going up soon. In the end, there will 42 weeks taped to my wall. I’m already more than 1/4 of the way to Tempe and still loving it and feeling stronger with each training day.

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Spring is in full splendor here in Santa Barbara. These are a few snaps from my long ride last week. I wanted to stop a million times to take pictures, but reminded myself that I needed to focus more on training than on photographing. 🙂 Everything is screaming with color these days, and that just makes me smile.

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We spent several days in Palm Springs over spring break visiting my husband’s parents so I had the joy of running in the warm, dry, desert air, which was nice since my race will take place in Arizona. I got in some good wind training too (my least favorite element to navigate), which is also good since I’ve heard the course is often windy.

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The biggest challenge was trying to swim laps in this pool. If there’s a will, there’s a way!

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The other challenge was trying to eat healthy on this trip. Don’t you find that everybody likes to show their love with decadent food? I was feeling soooo loved on this visit. 🙂 The good news is that my husband always manages to ply us with fruit and salads to balance out the wine, cheese, latte freezes, etc. etc. etc.

When we got back, I tried to settle back into a more normal routine. Here’s what this week’s training schedule looks like. It’s still on the light side as we’re trying to get a grumpy rib in my back to settle down.

Monday: Run 50 minutes
Tuesday: Swim 2000y, Bike 90 minutes
Wednesday: Swim 1000y
Thursday: Killer Kate’s strength class, Bike 90 minutes (2 spin classes)
Friday: Swim 1000y, Bike 3-3.5 hours, Run 20 minutes off the bike
Saturday: Run 90 minutes
Sunday: Rest

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I snapped this after Thursday’s spin classes. Kristine has been my favorite instructor for a long time. She’s the perfect blend of sweet, funny, and fierce. Don’t be fooled by her chirpy smile. She is one mean mamacita!

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This week I finally got in to see my chiropractor to adjust the damn rib in my back, which has been torturing me for too long. Yay! Thank you Serena! I can now breathe deeply again as I run.

Friday’s swim-bike-run “Epic Day” as we call it around our house, involves a whole lot of planning and organizing, especially if I base my workout from somewhere besides my house. This is what it looked like as I was heading out yesterday…stuff, stuff and more stuff…

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After swimming 1000y at the outdoor pool at the Montecito Y, I jumped on my bike and headed toward Ventura. It was a gorgeous day! I stopped to take this cheeeezball picture after riding along the Rincon, before continuing down Highway 1 toward Solimar Beach.

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I’m loving my new torpedo water bottle. I find it much easier than reaching down to grab a bottle then trying to put it back in the cage while keeping my eyes on the road. I’m still trying to figure out whether to cut the straw short on it or rubberband it down while I ride and flip it up when I need to drink. If any of you have thoughts about what has worked for you, I’d love to hear them.

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All was going swimmingly on my ride until about an hour and a half into it, I hit a pothole really hard; so hard I was worried I had bent a rim and/or readjusted the rib in my back again (not in a good way). After shaking it off and doing a quick assessment, I realized all appeared to be fine so I kept going. That is until about a mile down the road my back tire started wobbling. Crap.

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At least if you’re going to get a flat tire, it’s nice when it happens in a convenient place with a beautiful view. This was a good test for me as I’ve never changed a back tire and I know I need to be able to do this for myself if it happens during a race. It took me a while, but….cue the “Rocky” music…this Team Empower chiquita did it. Woot! It’s the little things.

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Back on the road I was feeling like a million bucks. That is until a few miles later, Continue reading

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!

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

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….

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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

Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All about the Base

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly two months since I started training for Ironman Arizona! Each week has been fun and challenging, and super gratifying as I’ve knocked out each day’s workout–sometimes just barely and other times feeling like a million bucks.

One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve slowly gotten stronger is that I’ve also gotten more impatient with myself. I feel like I should be doing more, going farther and definitely going faster, even though at the end of each week I’m spent.

When my inner competitor needles me, I know I need to holler back, “Hold it there, sister. Instead of being in the moment and training where you’re at, you’re trying to jump ahead of yourself and train where you want to be. That’s where you get yourself into trouble with injuries. Don’t even think about it.”

I also remind myself that I’m still in the base training phase, and that helps me chill out–at least  little. I know I have to trust the process, which has a slow, deliberate build-up. I WILL get stronger and faster as each week progresses…if I’m stay smart about it.

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Here’s this week’s schedule:
Monday: Swim 2800 y (1.59 miles), then Kate’s strength & stretch class
Tuesday: Run 75 minutes, followed by 1 hour bike ride
Wednesday: My favorite yoga class (yay!!!), then 1 spin class followed by a 50 minute ride outside
Thursday: Swim 2000 y, then Kristine’s Pilates class
Friday: Mini tri–1000 y swim, 4 hour bike ride with hills, Run 30 min off the bike (I’m heading out the door right now to go enjoy this one!)
Saturday: Run 1 h 40 min.
Sunday: off
Highlights: To keep myself from focusing too much on my pace/speed, I decided to go for a run on Jesusita Trail. It’s exactly what I needed. You simply cannot run as fast on trails as you can on a road, so it’s a perfect way to relax and enjoy your surroundings, focusing on where you are and what you’re doing rather than what you think you should be doing. Aaahh.
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Progress: While swimming is definitely still a work-in-progress, I’ve turned the corner on it mentally. I no longer dread going to the pool. Instead, I’m starting to look forward to it, which is a HUGE difference from where I started eight weeks ago.

Another bike fit: Bruce at Hazard’s dropped my handlebars another 1.5 cm and moved my seat forward another 1.5 cm as we slowly get my road bike more tri-ready. These small shifts may seem inconsequential, but it’s part of the slow process of getting to where we’ll eventually be (notice a theme here?). By going slow and letting my body adapt to each change, I’m less likely to get injured. We’ll be adjusting it again next week.

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Fun stuff: I joined the Santa Barbara Tri Club last week, something I’ve contemplated many times over the years, but never followed through with for one reason or another. I’m excited I finally took the plunge as I can already tell it’s going to be a fun group, and I’ll learn a lot and become a better athlete by training with them.

Looking forward: I signed up for my first century ride this week too! I’ll be riding in the Solvang Metric Century on March 12th to continue building my base and enjoy riding with other people. Riding solo for 4 hours at a time can get a bit tedious so this will be a treat. The next one I do will be a full century, which will help build my confidence for the 112 mile bike portion of Ironman AZ.

Cheers: Congratulations to Randy Glick for being the lucky winner of my drawing for The Boys in the Boat! Thank you for your commitment to supporting my Ironman journey and Smile Train!! Randy has already read the book, so he wanted me to give it away to the next supporter. The next person to donate to my fundraising page will receive my copy of this book. Here’s the link to donate: http://support.smiletrain.org/site/TR/AthleticsEvent/General?px=3630403&pg=personal&fr_id=1701

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Cheers to my supporters and to my Team Empower teammates!

Okay, it’s time for me to head out the door to continue building my base. Looking forward to today’s long workout! Woot! Hope you all have a great Friday!

xo
Becky

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

Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage

Late last December my family and I shared a fabulous evening with our dear friends, the Reeder-Riechels. As we were leaving, I noticed a colorful flyer taped to their kitchen wall. The message at the top simply said, “Take what you need in the new year,” and at the bottom it had strips of paper to rip off, like you’d normally see for a lost cat or an item for sale. Instead of a phone number to call, however, it had words like Patience, Determination, Creativity, and Compassion.

I chose Courage.

I knew courage is what I would need most as I took on my Ironman journey this year.

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This word has been taped to my mirror since I started training, and I look at it every morning when I wake up.

I snapped this picture on a particularly tough morning to remind myself what it was going to take to get my long run completed when every ounce of my tired being wanted to go back to bed. I just have to laugh at what a train wreck I look like. That’s life, baby!

 

Before I even launched my official Ironman training I had to dig for some courage to believe that I could, and should, chase after this dream; then even more to take the next step and hit the registration button for Arizona. In fact, I hovered over that button for a good long time before I finally took a deep breath and hit SUBMIT. You’ve all been there too, I’m sure, so you’ll understand the tingles of excitement that flooded my body while simultaneous waves of disbelief washed over me: “Holy #&%! did I really just do that? Ok, I guess I’m really doing this. Here we go!”

“What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.” ~Goethe

I also had to build up my courage to ask Mike Swan if he’d coach me. He coaches many top-notch athletes in our town so I had visions of him telling me I wasn’t ready for an Ironman. Instead, he was more than positive and said, “I think Ironman is absolutely doable for you.”

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The other thing I knew would take courage is to ask people to donate to my Smile Train fundraising, as asking people for moolah is one of my least favorite things. Even though it has gotten off to a good start, I still find this challenging. Knowing that I’m helping vulnerable kiddos who have very few resources though, gives me the courage to keep asking, even if it’s uncomfortable. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am to those of you who have already donated! You are making a big difference!

Of course, every person has his or her own idea of what courage means, as it comes in all shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of believing in yourself. Sometimes it’s being open to possibility and making the decision to say yes to new things when the easier thing is to say no. Other times it’s believing in the work and the process so there’s no room for fear or “what ifs.” And of course, it’s being afraid and taking the plunge anyway.

“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

That’s what I’m going to keep in mind as I shake off last week’s fatigue and start afresh with this week’s schedule. Here’s what’s on tap:
Continue reading

Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake

I recently read somewhere that when training for an Ironman, “Intervals are icing on the cake.” This really hit home as I’ve been missing doing track workouts with Coach Nash and my friends on the B Team. They’re so fit and fast, strong and HILARIOUS.

Coach Nash recently took 2nd Place in the USA Cross-Country Championships in Bend, OR and also coached a women’s masters team (Cindy, Desa and Lynelle) to a 1st Place finish. Jen just won 1st Place overall female in the Super Bowl 4-miler here in Santa Barbara and Ashlee won her age group. Then there’s Vanessa who just completed Ironman Panama 70.3. That’s some serious awesomeness floating around this group! I’m so proud of each of them!

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Before I pulled a hamstring about ten months ago, I used to love (and dread) the crazy sufferfests Coach Nash orchestrated with these speedy chiquitas on Thursday mornings. This crew always made me laugh, and they always made me a better runner. Since then, I’ve only popped in and out of practices with them a handful of times, thinking it would be fine, but leaving feeling down and frustrated after running like a turtle and realizing I still had a long way to go to get back to 100%. Nope, still not ready for intervals. Damn.

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Last summer with the B Team: Jane (left), Coach Nash, Vanessa (back), and Jen (right). Ashlee was off winning some race in Utah.

As I train for Arizona though, it helps to remind myself that before I can put icing on a cake, I first have to have a cake. That’s what I’m working on right now: baking a big, beautiful cake, focusing on all the important ingredients like strength, endurance, flexibility, stamina, balance, core power, technique, overall fitness, and most of all PATIENCE. Then hopefully I’ll be icing that fabulous, multi-layer cake in the summer with some heart-pumping intervals with the B Team.

In the meantime, here’s what Week Six of Ironman training looks like:

Monday: Swim 1000 y, core & stretching pm

Tuesday: Run 60 minutes, Kate’s strength & stretching class, swim 1400y, core & stretching pm

Wednesday: Swim 2200 y, then 1-hour indoor cycling spin class, core & stretching pm

Thursday: Bike 3.5 hours (probably about 50 miles), then a 20 minute run, core & stretching pm

Friday: Swim 2100 y, core & stretching pm

Saturday: Run 90 minutes, core & stretching pm

Sunday: Rest, core & stretching pm

Favorite Gear this Week: My new Garmin 920xt with a heart rate monitor has been a game-changer for me. Not only am I no longer guessing what heart rate and training zone I’m working in, I’m able to break down the data so I can see what I need to work on (clearly speed on the bike!!)…Also, being able to track my splits in the pool and see my cadence and heart rate on my run is helpful and motivating. This watch also has an activity tracker similar to a FitBit. I was feeling dog tired last night as I tucked my daughter into bed. When I saw that I had gone 21,400 steps yesterday, somehow it validated my fatigue. It’s ridiculous, I know, but sometimes it’s the dumbest stuff that keeps you going!

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My other favorite gear this week is my new kicks. I love this pair of Nike Air Zoom Pegasus. They’re super cushy neutral shoes, which are just right for my high arches and narrow feet. Zoom Zoom Zoom! Thank you Santa Barbara Running once again! Happy Soles = Happy Soul. #shoplocal

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FYI: If anybody ever tells you that being a triathlete is not that expensive, don’t believe them. Obviously, they drank the Kool-Aid.

Friends have been asking: “How’s your training going?” First of all, that’s so nice you care! Thank you. My first response is usually, “It’s going well. I’m having fun and enjoying the process.” When pressed for more details, I explain that I’m simply taking one day and workout at time and somehow that approach is making the volume do-able. Suddenly I’m swimming over a mile each session, my short run is now more than 6 miles and my long run will be a little over 9, and I’m already up to riding about 50 miles with a run afterward. Anybody who has run a marathon or half marathon will know exactly what I mean when I say it’s like when you reach double-digits for the first time. You never thought you could run 10 miles, then suddenly you are, and then it becomes normal, and then you never look back. I feel like I’m still just getting started, but it’s already feeling normal and I’m not looking back.

Gratitude: The other day I was swimming at the Y, trying to work on my stroke technique, and out of the blue, Continue reading

Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at My Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side

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Heading out on last Saturday’s beautiful, windy 3-hour ride.

Okay people, where did January go? I can’t believe an entire month has already flown by. It seems like yesterday the ball was dropping in Times Square. But here we go….

HELLO FEBRUARY!

And HELLO Week Five of Ironman training! As we like to say around here, Keep Calm and Bring it On!

I’ll be honest, last week was a toughie for me–mostly logistically–squeezing in workouts between lots of different obligations–from junior high school visits to mid-week ballet performances and chaperoning a group of international dancers, to driving back and forth to LA twice in one week. Throw in the usual, everyday things and the hours disappeared faster than you can say swim-bike-run.

The circles under my eyes may have grown a little darker last week (also thanks to my damn goggles), but I did get it done. Every single workout. BAM. BAM. AND DOUBLE BAM.

And now I’m looking forward to what this week holds in store.

Here’s my schedule:

Monday: Rest (♥♥♥), gentle yoga am, core & stretching pm.
Tuesday: Run 50 minutes, Killer Kate’s strength & stretch class, swim 600 y, core & stretching pm.
Wednesday: Swim 2250 y, bike 2 hours moderate, run 20 minutes off the bike, core & stretching pm.
Thursday: rest, core & stretching pm.
Friday: Run 40 minutes, swim 2400 y, core & stretching pm.
Saturday: Run 70 minutes, core & stretching pm.
Sunday: Bike 3 hours with some hills, core & stretching pm.

Challenges: The weather got a tad insane last weekend. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like 3 feet of snow falling or anything like that, but we had some gnarly wind and a boatload of rain in a short amount of time (thank you El Nino). It was the kind of weather that took down a massive eucalyptus tree at my gym.

Normally I do my long runs on Saturday after coaching our Coyote kiddos, then do my long bike/run combo on Sunday, but I decided to switch it up this weekend to avoid Sunday’s unfavorable forecast for riding. And boy am I glad I did. Sunday’s rainy run was epic! It was the kind of run that was so ridiculously miserable, it was hilarious. Pelting sideways rain, puddles as big and wide as lakes, and the #*!&% wind blasting. It was awesome Iron training, and even though it was brutal much of the way, I was happy to be handed this crazy gift. If weather like this shows up on race day, I will be prepared.

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It was when my phone started beeping a National Weather Emergency Alert that I stopped to see what might be headed my way. It was only a flood warning so I snapped this ridiculous picture for posterity and kept going.

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Not surprisingly, I saw more than a handful of runners out there logging their miles, including my Iron friend, Jenni Miller! Go girl. Lake Placid will be no match for you!

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Credit: Real Time Runners

Gratitude: I know I’ve mentioned my peeps before, but my husband deserves an extra shout out this week. The support he showered me with over the weekend is something I’ll always remember. First, he changed his plans to go to LA for an important photo/art event he attends every year, so that I could go on a long bike ride on Saturday (instead of rainy Sunday). Not only that, he did all the taxi’ing of our daughter to and from her dance rehearsals and helped her organize a big school project. Then on Sunday after my loony run he had a hot bubble bath waiting for me and a hot, spicy lunch. It was such a sweet surprise. Love and support like this makes this journey all the more memorable. My friend Jenni commented, “Sounds like you have a good iron family!!!” She couldn’t be more accurate. Although I’d change that to a GREAT Iron family. Believe me, I don’t take it for granted!

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This is one of my favorite birthday gifts I received this year. Thank you Abraham Family for having my back and keeping me fueled!

Favorite gear this week: While I’ve been training in a lot of headwinds lately, Tailwind Endurance Fuel always has my back. Monica DeVreese, co-owner of Santa Barbara Running turned me on to this over a year ago (thank you Monica) and I’ve used it ever since. I like it because there aren’t a lot of fake colors and sketchy ingredients in it, and there are enough calories and carbs in it to forego additional gels and chomps if necessary. It also happens to be quite yum…as sports drinks go.

Heroes: When I’ve been out running, on more than one occasion I’ve cruised past women who made me feel compelled to holler, “Great job! You are my hero.” Most times I receive bright eyes and an appreciative smile. Other times I receive a quizzical look, like, “Why are you calling me your hero?”

Who are these women, you ask? Continue reading