Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks

TriJerseyRide71816Coming back from our epic Aspen vacation the week before last, I was excited to get out on my bike again and see how my legs and lungs felt riding at sea level.

After three day’s rest (two days of driving home from Colorado and one “just because”), I was ready to roll. It wasn’t a long ride–less than an hour–but it was magic. One of those great spins, which leaves you grinning from ear to ear. Most exciting, my knees weren’t cranky for the first time in several months. Woohoo! Bonus “happy points,” my sweet new SB Tri kit arrived.

This was the perfect way to launch back into my regular training schedule. I was ready to kick it up a notch, and I couldn’t wait to see what my coach, Matt, had in store for me.

With Ironman Arizona less than 4 months away, it’s time to start rocking for real.

Late in the afternoon, after my morning ride, I headed to Goleta Beach Park to enjoy a 7 mile run around UCSB’s Campus Point. It was a beautiful day, and a perfect reminder of how freaking lucky I am to live and train in Santa Barbara, even if I may have left a tiny piece of my heart back in Aspen.



My run went well, except for a niggling pain in my rib/back, which I’d been trying to ignore since I’d tweaked it playing in the snow on the superpipe back in Aspen. Until this run, I simply  refused to acknowledge its presence, even though I was far too familiar with this pain. I had injured this exact same spot twice in the past year and a half. Once was during an intense track workout and another time was earlier this year when I hit a pothole really hard while riding my bike. Clearly, I have a weakness in that part of my core that I need to redouble my efforts to strengthen.

On this run every breath felt like having a sharp knife jammed between my ribs, each step like a jackhammer chiseling away at my confidence. How could this happen again?! Then, no matter how hard I tried to distract myself with the beauty around me, I could not stop the flood of doubts and mental f-bombs as frustration washed over me.


When my coach got word of this little “issue,” he immediately trashed the week’s workouts he had planned for me and opted for a daily check-in instead, to see how things were progressing. And things did not progress at nearly the pace at which I was trying to force. %#!@#

After two weeks of riding high in Aspen, this felt like bottoming out on the Ironman training rollercoaster. Argh. Throw in some fatigue from going non-stop on vacation with little sleep….cue the “How low can you go?” music.

Here’s what Week 29’s scaled back training schedule looked like:

Monday: Bike 45 minutes, Run 7 miles
Tuesday: Bike 2 hours
Wednesday: Swim 600y super easy to test rib
Thursday: Rest/Recovery (took this as a mental reboot day)
Friday: Bike 1 hour
Saturday: Run 30 minutes to test rib
Sunday: Rest/Recovery 2 mile walk with family

Every endurance athlete knows there will be aches, mental fatigue, and “things” that pop up along the way during a long training cycle. It’s how you handle them that will determine the outcome. As my coach wisely counseled, “An easier week of light maintenance isn’t the worst thing in the world.”

So I tried to embrace this week, snap out of my malaise, and spend it doing things like finally cleaning out our garage and having a yard sale, relaxing with my family at the beach, and doing some back-to-school shopping with my daughter. The tricky part was not getting grumpy or impatient without my usual flood of exercise endorphins to keep me chirpy. 🙂

An evening picnic at Butterfly Beach helped. And so did an awesome massage from my friend and massage therapist, Stephanie Trager. Thank you Stephanie!


When I tried my 30 minute “test run” on Saturday, my rib was still quite uncomfortable, but at least it was fun to chill out at the beach with my family afterward.


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

Monday: Bike 3 hours
Tuesday: Rest/Recovery (road trip to LA with friends)
Wednesday: Run 5 miles
Thursday: Bike 2 hours, Ocean Swim
Friday: Run 30 minutes, Swim
Saturday: Bike 2 hours with moderate hills, Run 6 miles
Sunday: Run 1 mile, Bike 3 hours with hills

On Monday’s 3 hour ride, I sported my Colorado jersey to try to rekindle that feeling of joy while navigating the roads here in Santa Barbara. Never mind several close calls with distracted drivers, it was still a solid ride. 40 miles with 2000 ft of elevation.

Wednesday I was stoked to be back running without huge pain in my rib! 5 miles logged and feeling optimistic again.

Thursday’s workouts, I’m VERY happy to say, finally took this Ironman rollercoaster on an upward swing back up to the top again. Not only did I have a nice, solid 2 hour ride where I was finally able to keep my cadence up the whole time, but I FINALLY got myself into the ocean to swim.

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long this summer to get into the right frame of mind to swim in the ocean, but I guess we all have our silly mental blocks we need to work through. I’m glad I finally did. It was fun–super short and sweet before the Reef & Run races started. Hopefully I’ll be joining in a race soon too.

Friday’s run was hot, hot, hot in the middle of the day, which made my swim afterward feel nice. My rib was still not 100%, perhaps from being jostled a little in the ocean the night before, so I only swam 650y, but it’s a start back in the right direction! Woohoo!

And this how we roll after we train…stretching, foam rolling and aaaahhh!
After yesterday’s 2 hour ride and 6-mile run, I was completely overheated, but feeling super happy to have put that one in the bag. From day one of my training, my mantra has been, “One Day, One Workout at a Time,” and that is exactly how I’m doing this. A tall iced latte afterward helped a little too.

It’s always nice to be able to balance training with family and friend time. After this one we joined friends at the Mission Rose Garden for an evening picnic.
Today’s ride was meant to be a toughie, and it was. All great stuff. Hills, hills and more hills. Love it! I can tell I’m getting a little stronger with each ride, so it makes the sufferfest worth it. I didn’t take any pictures today, except for this one when I stopped to fill my water bottle back up at Gobernador Canyon. The flowers were so pretty, I couldn’t help myself.


As I sign off for the week, I thought I’d leave you with one parting thought…something I remind myself of daily.


Until next time, my friends…

Thanks for continually lifting me up on this crazy journey. Knowing you’re right there gives me a shot of confidence when I need it most!

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, 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 Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong

Fueling Setbacks with Gratitude

NiteMovesJune2514It has been a SERIOUSLY fun year of running for me—pushing myself out my comfort zone, competing, playing, connecting with new people, doing new events.

Each week I’ve gotten stronger, faster and more confident as I’ve worked at getting back into shape.

By late August, I had logged well over a dozen races—many of which I’d run slightly faster than the one before. It was exhilarating.

But then I hit a speed bump.

Ventura Half Marathon MedalAfter running the Ventura Half Marathon in early September and then the She is Beautiful 5K a couple weeks later, with 18 and 20-mile runs in between, along with some tempo runs and track workouts, my body let me know that not only had I taken it too far, I had taken it for granted by ignoring its subtle, yet persistent warning signals.

Becky Aaronson 2014 She is BeautifulThe aches, “which every runner feels,” I told myself, were never “that bad.” But then those aches suddenly turned into ones that were that bad. With just six weeks to go until my target race—the Santa Barbara Veteran’s Day Marathon—I was forced to put on the brakes as I pushed my foot and back beyond their tipping points.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Long story short (because I don’t want to bore you with a litany of injury details), the Santa Barbara Marathon did not happen for me. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe my frustration.


After beating myself up, then administering several generous doses of chocolate and wine, I finally pulled myself together. I was determined to salvage this marathon, no matter what.

Thus began my 6-week “mega taper,” which involved a whole lot of rest, pool running, cryotherapy and compression sessions, nothing but uber healthy food, extra cushy Hoka shoes, then slowly easing back into short, easy runs on grass with Coach Nash’s guidance.

Cryotherapy at The LabNormaTec Compression PantsRun Be Run Green Smoothie
Hoka Huaka shoes

I tried to convince myself that by not stressing about it and embracing this “mega taper,” I’d at least get myself to the starting line. Eventually though, it became painfully obvious that attempting a full marathon would be stupid in my marginally healed state, and my marginally maintained fitness level. I might have been able to do it (ever so slooowwwly), but I didn’t want to just run another marathon; I wanted to race it.

But here’s the good news (the cup is half full, right?): although I didn’t run the full marathon, I did manage to salvage race day by at least participating in the half marathon. It was not fast (about 8-10 minutes off my goal time) or pretty, but I did get through it, on a very hot day no less, and did cross the finish line with a smile on my face.

Becky Aaronson Santa Barbara Half MarathonBecky Aaronson 2014 SB Half Marathon

That was three weeks ago. I know Continue reading