Ironman Swim Tips for Newbies

Training for your first Ironman can often feel daunting, but as somebody who recently finished her first Ironman, I want you to know that it is abso-freaking-lutely doable if you put your head down and do the work. The minute I crossed the finish line and experienced the thrill of hearing Mike Reilly call out my name, I knew I wanted to pay it forward and share what I’ve learned with others who might be starting their Ironman journey or those who are contemplating signing up for their first.

Here’s what I learned about the SWIM...

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• If you’re not a swimmer when you start your Ironman journey, you can, and will be one, if you make the commitment to put the time in in the pool.

• When you first start, you might be discouraged by how hard it feels, possibly being out of breath after just a few lengths of the pool. Don’t despair, it does get easier. Just keep at it. The more time you spend in the water, the better it will feel. REALLY.

• Celebrate each tiny victory. Some days it might just be getting to the pool. Other days it could be swimming one more lap or taking a few seconds off your 100. Or it might be that it felt a tiny bit easier or your stroke felt a little smoother. Celebrate it all. You are making progress, and that progress will eventually add up to you toeing the line of your first Ironman.

• Like all disciplines of triathlon, the key is to build up slowly and steadily so you avoid injury. The path to the starting line is long, so be patient.

• Consistency is key. I repeat, consistency is key. Don’t short-change yourself by skipping swim days.

• Watch as many swim technique videos as possible and read articles and books with tips on breathing, sighting, kicking and stroke technique.

• If you can join a master’s swim class, or take lessons from a coach, you will have more fun and perfect your stroke much faster.

• It helps to have somebody videotape you so you can see how you swim and what you can do to improve.

• The more relaxed you are, the smoother you will be and the faster you will go. It’s about alignment and gliding, not thrashing frenetically.

• Scope out more than one pool and have their schedules printed or handy on your phone. This will give you a back-up plan if your first choice is unexpectedly closed. You don’t want to give yourself any excuse for skipping your workout.

• Keep an extra suit, goggles, cap and towel in your car in case you get all the way to the pool and realize you forgot these essential items. Your mind will get fuzzy at times in the midst of intense training, and you will forget things. Again, no excuses.

• If you find it boring to swim laps, music helps A LOT. A waterproof iPod can change your outlook on pool time.

• Fins, paddles and kick boards can all help keep it fresh and also help you get stronger in the process.

• Investing in a tri watch like a Garmin 920xt or Suunto Ambit 3 can be a good motivator and also be extremely helpful in keeping track of your times and distances.

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• If you loathe the first few seconds of plunging into a cold pool, you’re not alone. EVERYONE hates it–even Olympians. You just gotta suck it up Buttercup and get through it. It helps to do it as quickly as possible so you get the initial shock over with and get on with your workout.

• Your new perfume will be Eau du Chlorine no matter how hard you scrub after your swim or how much fragrance or lotion you slather on afterward. Get used to it. It will remind you of your awesomeness.

• It’s essential you find goggles that fit your sweet face so you are comfortable in the water. It may take trying several different pairs. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. Swim masks worked for me and it took trying six different pairs before I finally settled on them.

• Your hair will likely feel like straw and possibly turn a new shade of green. Getting your hair wet and putting conditioner on before you put your cap on will help.

• If you have long hair, you might want to use a cap made specifically for long hair (yes, they make them).

• Once you become a strong swimmer in the pool, practice open water swims often. It’s a completely different beast than the pool (ie: no lane lines and nothing to hold onto) and you will feel much more confident on race day knowing what to expect. Doing this with a group will give you the best practice.

• Invest in the best wetsuit you can afford. It’s all about comfort and buoyancy. While the least expensive version may be tempting (believe me, I get it), the next step up will likely last longer and make your open water swims much more comfortable.

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Photo credit: Ironman Instagram

• You will likely want to eat everything in your refrigerator after you swim, but keep in mind that swimming doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as running or cycling. No fair, I know, especially since swimming feels like it should burn triple the calories. Refuel once you get out of the pool, but do it wisely so you don’t sabotage your body with unhealthy choices.

• If you swim in an outdoor pool, don’t neglect sunscreen. While having SoCal swim tan lines might make you feel all Ironman’ish, having melanoma will take all the fun and coolness out of it. Be smart. You’re going to be in the pool for hours during this long journey to your first Ironman.

• Your shoulders will ache at times as you push beyond your previous boundaries. Stretch them, ice them, and get a massage if your resources allow for it. It’s all about recovery and being able to get in the pool again to put in another solid workout.

• The swim is a great time to get into Zen mode and focus on your mental game. Your stroke and breathing can be hypnotic if you get in the right frame of mind. Practice mantras, count strokes, sing songs…this is what will help you on race day too.

• There will be a point somewhere along the way where your dread for going to the pool suddenly turns into something else. Yep, believe it or not, you will eventually start looking forward to it, as it feels good to glide through the cool water and get into a rhythm that makes you feel strong and smooth.

• The day you suddenly swim the full 2.4 miles in training is one you will never forget. From that day forward you will carry a massive bucket of confidence with you from which to draw each time you need a boost.

• Remember the swim is the shortest portion of the race. You absolutely need to train hard and respect the distance, but keep in mind that it will be over before you know it, even if it takes you the full two hours and twenty minutes. I will share more about race strategies in another post. In the meantime, believe in yourself that you WILL be able to do this, and keep putting in the work. You’ll be be surprised at how strong you will become, both mentally and physically.

As you begin (or continue) your first Ironman journey, know that I am rooting for you all the way! When you use your doubts and fears to fuel your motivation, you will suddenly discover that you are unstoppable. Now go out there and get it!

Tri on my friends…
xo Becky

PS: Next up will be Ironman Bike Tips for Newbies. If you missed my first post in this series, here’s the link: Things I Know for Sure About Doing Your First Ironman: THE JOURNEY.

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Week 42 of Ironman Training: #533 is Savoring the Last 23 Days Until IMAZ

There are only 23 days to go until I’m standing in my wetsuit at the start of Ironman Arizona!! I have goosebumps just thinking about it. You might also hear a symphony of butterflies flitting around in my stomach as you read this — all good stuff, and part of the process as I revel in joy and excitement of the challenge ahead.

What made it feel “extra real” was receiving my official race bib number last week: #533. It’s my lucky number too, harkening back to my early basketball days when I sported #33 on the court, just like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who I idolized. Ha ha. Nerd Girl. It’s the little things people!!

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I can’t think about the race too much though, because there’s still work to be done in the next 23 days. Right now I’m at the pinnacle of my training before I start tapering. For the last six days I’ve been hitting it hard, and now I have a day of rest before I start ramping it up again for this weekend’s 9-hour swim-bike-run metric Ironman training day (1.5 mile swim, 70 mile bike, 16 mile run). Today’s rest day is the reason I’m finally able to carve out a little time to catch up on my blog.

One thing I wanted to share was this sweet little nugget. I was honored to be featured by Smile Train in their Ironman MilesforSmiles campaign recently. It tickled me because I love what they do. My quote is a little hard to read on the photograph, but this is what it says:

“I choose to race with Team Empower for my first Ironman because it combines my two favorite things: my love of triathlon and my love of helping others. It’s pure joy being part of a team that’s working hard to improve the lives of others, knowing our efforts will make a tangible difference, providing new smiles and much brighter futures for children all around the world.”

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I know you may be sick of hearing about my Smile Train fundraising (hopefully not), but if you’d like to support my efforts for this fantastic organization, you can click HERE and make a tax-free donation. Only a few more smiles to go until I reach my new fundraising goal of $7,030! And only 2 spots left in the drawing for a $100 gift card (for a donation of $250 or more) and 3 spots left for the $25 gift card (for a contribution of $100-$249).

Here’s a quick glimpse of last week, which was both tough and fun–the perfect combination. It included participating in the Santa Barbara 100 bike event on Saturday.

Monday:  Swim 3600y (2 miles), core, massage (aaahh)
Tuesday: Run 30 minutes, Swim 1000y, core
Wednesday: Bike 2 hours, run with my kids at running club, core
Thursday: Swim 4500y (2.5 miles), core
Friday: Rest, core
Saturday: Santa Barbara 100K, followed by a 10-mile run, core
Sunday: Bike 2 hours on a hilly course, core

I just have to take a minute and give another HUGE shout out to this awesome person, my massage therapist, Stephanie Trager. She has been an integral part of keeping me healthy and injury-free this year. It’s a delicate dance of pushing hard to get stronger and fitter, often ignoring all the aches that come with the territory, while also making sure you take care of your muscles and joints when they let you know you’ve tango’ed a little too much. Stephanie always gets me back up and running so I can keep moving forward. I’m so lucky to have her in my corner. Thank you Stephanie! Not to mention, I get lots of love from Murphy when I visit too.

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Stephanie and Murphy

Even when my body is a little cranky, I still try to find joy in each of my workouts. Tuesday I did a quick 30 minute run before my swim, and cruised along one of my favorite locations, the bike path along Butterfly Beach in Montecito.
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I haven’t been able to make it to Killer Kate’s strength classes very often anymore due to scheduling issues and recovery days so I’m trying to be diligent with core strengthening at home. I do a daily “short and sweet” routine which includes push-ups, planks, side planks, donkey kicks, bridges, clam shells, 100s and squats, and hope this truncated effort will still carry me through.

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It’s hard not to laugh when your big brown dog is in your face while you’re trying to do push-ups.
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Much of the week I neglected to take pictures, which is unusual for me, but I did snap many on Saturday during the SB100 bike event.
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This was a fantastic event with several options in terms of distance and climbing. Many of my hardcore friends did the full 100 miles with 9,000 ft of climbing. I opted for the more sane choice (100K with 4,000 ft.) and followed it up with a 10-mile brick run.

It was a gorgeous morning, and fun to see so many friends out there participating.
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The event started and finished at Leadbetter Beach, with over 1,000 riders taking part.
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Once again, this was a chance for me to practice my race day nutrition, clothing, pacing, etc.
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While a century ride isn’t typically a “race” per se, this event had an element of competition, especially for the full century distance, where riders raced to the top of Gibraltar. OMG. Brutal. Bravo to those studs who took it on.

I pushed my pace throughout the 100k ride, but also stopped at two of the four aid stations to refuel. By the end of 64 miles, my legs were definitely feeling it.

My brick run afterward was a toughie, but I got through it, reminding myself that it was bringing me one step closer to IMAZ. I chuckled when a couple cyclists pedalled past me while I was running and said, “Wait, didn’t you just do the 100? You are crazy, girl.” Yep, we’re all crazy in our own way.

I was happy to have this one in the books…whooped but stronger for having knocked it out.
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And my legs were happy to have an ice bath in the ocean afterward.
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The topper to the week was getting on my bike again the next day for a two hour hill ride. Matt had a special name for this workout, which I probably shouldn’t repeat here–ha ha, but it was essentially meant to continue toughening me up both physically and mentally.

As I was trying to rally up some motivation in the morning, I had to tell myself, “Don’t think, just go. Turn your brain off and just get it done.” It was a really good day to practice all my race day mantras and visualization strategies too, as I huffed up each hill. My mental bag of tricks is getting larger by the day, and I’m sure I’ll be relying on all of them on race day.
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Surprisingly, two hours went by relatively fast, and I ended up enjoying much of this ride. Here’s a view of one of the more mellow roads I cruised on–East Mountain Drive–so sleepy on a Sunday afternoon. Thanks Matt for making me get my butt out there again when I wouldn’t have otherwise.
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As I count down these last 23 days, I’m trying to savor each workout, each challenge and each moment that brings me closer to crossing the finish line in Tempe. I’m breathing in courage and exhaling fear. I’m fueling my mind with positive imagery, picturing myself loving every minute of the race, while preparing myself for the reality of the most grueling athletic event of my life. I’m continually reminding myself that I’ve put in the work, so no matter what happens on race day, I’ve done my best, and my best is good enough.

When I started officially training back in January, I had no idea just how much I would love this journey. Sure some days have been more challenging than others, and muscles have complained here and there, but I have never felt more grateful for my health and fitness and for all the people in my life who have made this epic adventure so special.

I’m one lucky chica, and I don’t forget it for a minute.

Until next time…happy weekend to you all!
xo B

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 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 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
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report
Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Race Report
Week 39 of Ironman Training: Why I Tri and Try
Week 40 and 41 of Ironman Training: Think Like a Dog and Train Like a Mouse
Week 41 of Ironman Training: Mind over Muscle

Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go

“One day, one workout at a time” has been my mantra since the first day I began Ironman training back in January, and so far it has gotten me through 32 weeks of training as I’ve worked to build up my strength, fitness and mental toughness. Even on the toughest days, during the hardest miles, minutes, steps, pedal strokes or swim workouts, this mantra has carried me through.

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My workout wall, which reminds me every day of the hours and effort I have already put into this Ironman journey. It’s the perfect thing to bolster me on days when my “Hell yeah!” attitude is being weighed down by tired muscles wondering, “Are you #@%! kidding me?!”

The other thing that has carried me through is having a coach who knows when my body needs a break. Yesterday was that day. I originally had a 4.5 hour ride scheduled, but Matt sensed I was fried and suggested I take the day off, re-arranging the order of my training for the next few days so I could still get in those important workouts.

After laying low yesterday and having absolutely nothing on my plate, I already feel refreshed and re-energized. Going on a coffee date with my husband didn’t hurt either! Love this guy!

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Having an extra few hours also gave me time to write, and celebrate the fact that it’s officially the 100 day countdown to Ironman Arizona! Woohoo!  So exciting. Bring it on!

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Things are ramping up and prep races are being planned–mostly sprint and Olympic distance tris, with perhaps a century ride thrown in along the way. Then of course there are still many epic training runs, rides and swims ahead!

Here’s this week’s training schedule:

Monday: Killer Kate’s strength class
Tuesday: Run 8 miles with 5 x 5 minutes hard efforts in the middle with 2 min recovery between, Swim 35 minutes
Wednesday: Bike 4 hours (hills)
Thursday: Pilates, Bike 2.5 hours, Ocean Swim Reef & Run race
Friday: Rest/recovery day (aaaah)
Saturday: Run 5 miles, Bike 1 hour, Run 5 miles
Sunday: Bike 4.5 hours

There are many reasons I’ve made it 32 weeks in relatively good form. One of the biggest reasons is that I have the unrelenting support of my family. This is just one tiny example of how Jeffrey keeps me going–a bowl of organic oatmeal with fresh fruit, almonds and peanut butter–something he makes me every morning.

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On Tuesday I went to Goleta Beach so I could do the speedwork portion of my 8-mile run on the dirt path that parallels the bike path. It’s soft, flat and ready for fun.

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And oh man, this workout kicked my butt…BIG TIME…which I loved and hated and loved again once it was done.

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Afterward my legs were happy to be cooled off in the ocean…Mother Nature’s perfect ice bath.

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Then it was pool time once again, which felt good after a tough run. A nice mellow mile swim.

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Wednesday’s 4-hour ride was a toughie on tired legs, but it was the perfect day to practice “mind over muscle.” I first rode up hills through Hope Ranch before doing the SB Tri long course with some added side jaunts up Shepard Mesa and Ladera Lane. It ended up being around 52 miles with 3248 ft. of elevation. Another tiny drop of fitness added to the IMAZ bucket.
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Thursday I was running low on energy, but dragged my butt out the door for a morning Pilates class then a 2.5 hour bike ride.

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I was planning to do an ocean swim race that evening so part of the focus of my workouts was to practice fueling for a long day, like I’ll be doing in Arizona. I have to admit this was not one of my favorite rides (thus the grumpy face), but it was one I got through, which added another tiny drop of mental toughness in the IMAZ bucket. Some days you’re flying high and others you’re hanging on by the seat of your pants (especially when your seat is hurting).

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After a tough day on the bike, my enthusiasm for doing Reef & Run was in the dumper. Seeing friends there made all the difference. Everybody is so freaking happy and chirpy at this event, you can’t help but absorb that vibe. I did the 500m “shorty” event and ended up having a blast! I mostly did this to practice swimming in a group and work on my sighting. Unlike a swimming pool, there are no lines on the bottom of the ocean to guide you in a straight line. I also wanted to see where I was at with my time compared to the last time I raced the SB Tri several years ago. I was happy to see that my pool time this year has started to pay off. I’m making progress. Most of all it, was fun to swim with friends and be part of this community event.

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Breakthroughs: Last Sunday I finally made it up Gibraltar! Whoa doggy, talk about a good workout–especially in the heat of the day. For those of you who don’t live in Santa Barbara, you can click HERE to see what this iconic ride is all about (7.6% grade with about 4,000 ft of elevation). Until Sunday, I had only gone part way up on a few different occasions. Now I have a whole new appreciation for those who do this ride all the time, which is A LOT of SB fitness fanatics. My next goal is to get all the way up to LaCumbre Peak.

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Last night members of the SB Tri Club stuffed 2,000 swag bags for the upcoming Santa Barbara Triathlon, which is taking place on August 27th & 28th. It was a fun way to pitch in and lend a hand for this terrific local event. Can’t wait to take part! #WeAreSBTri

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I’m looking forward to the next 100 days of training, and am heading out now for my run-bike-run workout. Have a great weekend everybody!

SmileTrainPicIf you feel so inclined, I’m still raising funds for Smile Train, a terrific organization providing free cleft surgery for kids around the world. So far, with your help, I’ve raised enough funds for 20 kids to have surgery. I’d love to make that 25 kids. Here’s the link to click if you’d like to support my efforts. http://support.smiletrain.org/site/TR?px=3630403&fr_id=1701&pg=personal. Thanks for considering! Anybody who contributes $250 or more will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. Those who donate $100-$249 will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card.

Thanks for all your support along the journey!!!
xo Becky

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
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 or Ironman Training: New Heights

Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

When my coach, Matt, told me I better eat my Wheaties because we’d be climbing hills on our ride the next day, I was both humored and shaking in my boots flip-flops. Hills often bite me in the butt, so I know I need to work on them A LOT. At least he warned me though, so I could get mentally pumped for this one.

After shaking off my cobwebs and my grumpies from lack of sleep and logistical challenges the next morning, we set out on a 2 1/2 hour ride in the cool, gray marine layer. It was perfect climbing weather, although Matt quickly corrected me: “All weather is perfect climbing weather.” Bam. LOL. Love this guy.

I followed him up and down hills, zigging and zagging through a maze of back roads in Montecito, all the while trying to push it, yet keep my heart rate below a certain number. It wasn’t speedy by any stretch of the imagination (except the downhills), but that wasn’t the point. It was to steadily gobble up hills and build strength.

It was by far my favorite ride so far on this journey to Ironman Arizona. I can’t even explain why, but I found singular joy in the process, sucking air BIG TIME up all those hills and being surrounded by Santa Barbara’s natural beauty in the hills behind Montecito. I was grateful to be pushed, especially by somebody whose passion is cycling. I didn’t stop to take any pictures this time. Sorry, I was too busy pedaling, trying to keep up with Matt. Perhaps next time.

When I got home, I was whooped, which is always a great feeling. Mission accomplished. At least until the 5-mile run scheduled for later in the day.

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Whenever I’m feeling wobbly from training, this is the place I go–my workout wall. I look at all the training days I’ve put in this year and remind myself that each workout has added another drop of strength in my Ironman bucket. This simple act helps to bolster my “Hell YES I CAN” attitude, even on the toughest days.

After my hilly morning ride, my evening run was slated for a course with rolling hills (are getting the theme this week), so I chose Mountain Drive, a gorgeous road on the hillside relatively close to my house. Here are a few snaps.

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Love this mailbox. The butt opens for mail delivery.

Matt also had me doing hill repeats on one of my runs last weekend. Booyah! Bring. It. On.

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In the midst of my 7+mile run., I did 5 x 2 minutes hill repeats up Rodeo Road off of Turnpike, pushing hard up and jogging back down. Then I finished with a couple miles on a flatter road. That was after a 25-mile bike ride. Seriously fun stuff.

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I needed a little energy gel for that one, although more and more I’m starting wonder, “What the hell is in all this stuff I’m putting into my body?” Ack!

Swimming this week has been up and down. Some days it has felt smooth, other days…well…sigh…The only thing to do is to keep at it. Relentlessness has a way of quashing weaknesses and solidifying strength. I have to give a shout out to my daughter who came to the pool with me earlier this week to swim laps. After she was done, she photographed and videotaped me swimming, which was extremely helpful. I’m still working on not crossing over, keeping my head down and elbows up. I think I can. I think I can. As soon as I publish this blog post I’ll be heading back to the pool. Send me some good swim vibes! 🙂

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Inspiration: if you’re on the hunt for an inspiring read this summer, I highly recommend Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington’s autobiography, A Life Without Limits. At the end of the book, she sums up her thoughts: “If there is one thing I have learned, particularly in my life as an athlete, it is that our limits may not be where we think they are. And, even when we think we’ve finally reached them, the next time we go there exploring we often find that they’ve moved again.”

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Okay, I’m off to the pool to keep at it. I hope you enjoy your day in every way, my fabulous friends. Thanks for your relentless support and enthusiasm. It means everything. Like so many of you, I continually strive to be a person who doesn’t know how to quit.

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Until next time…

xo Becky

PS: Exciting things are happening next week with my training and another fun summer adventure. Stay tuned…

PSS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about my Ironman journey, you can click on any of 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 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Healthy (and Happy)

I’m often asked how my training is going, which is incredibly sweet. I’m humbled that so many of you are interested! Overall, I feel like it’s going well. Actually, better than “well.” It’s going REALLY well. Here’s the thing…when you’re training so many hours a day/week/month, something is bound to hurt. There usually isn’t a day in which something isn’t creaky or cranky or just plain sore. And that’s okay. I’m asking a lot of my body and it’s allowed to complain when it’s pushed beyond what it has ever done.

What I’m trying to do though, is keep from letting those “cranky joints or muscles” turn into injuries. Some days it feels like it is coming close to crossing that line. That’s when I spend more time foam rolling, stretching, icing, and strengthening. If an ache gets a little too grumpy, I let Coach Mike know. Over the last week or so, my knee crossed that line so Mike scaled back my schedule. I didn’t do my usual “Epic Day” on Friday, but rather replaced it with an easy swim, a rest day and an easy bike ride the next.

This week is much the same, focusing more on the swim and bike, and testing the waters with the run on Saturday. Ironman Arizona is still seven months away so it’s important to stay healthy and happy and not get stressed about the ups and downs. Here’s this week’s schedule…

Monday: Swim 2900 y (1.65 miles), Bike 1 hour
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Bike 90 minutes
Thursday: Killer Kate’s strength & stretch class, Swim 1800 y
Friday: Swim 1000y, Bike 2.5 hours
Saturday: Run 45 minutes
Sunday: Rest

This was last week’s modified schedule:
Monday: I was supposed to rest, but missed Mikes’ message and did a 2550y swim anyway (oops)
Tuesday: Run 60 minute tempo, Swim 2100y
Wednesday: Bike 90 minutes (with 20 minutes of climbing up Gibraltar)
Thursday: Killer Kate’s strength & stretch class, Swim 1600y
Friday: Rest day (busy celebrating my hubby’s birthday)
Saturday: Swim 1000y, Bike 4 hours, Run 30 min   Swim 1500Y
Sunday: Run 1 hr. 45 min    Bike 60 minutes

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Last Thursday I had the pleasure of going to our monthly SB Tri Club meeting, where Coach Mike was our guest speaker. As many of you know, Mike is a PT extraordinaire and owner of Elite Performance & Rehab, where he works with many top athletes. He talked about injury prevention and answered people’s questions about their aches. The thing that hit home most is when he said one-half to three-quarters of all injuries occur because of weakness in the core/trunk (hips/glutes/back/abs). It was the perfect reminder for me to re-double my efforts and focus on my core. How about you? Is your core as strong as it could be?

Doing the work…

Working on my core will help my swimming too, and man oh man, swimming….sigh…it’s still such a work in progress. My husband was really sweet and videotaped my swim last Saturday. Talk about eye-opening! I still have A LOT to work on, but I’ll get there (or at least closer to “there” than I am now). Now I just have to figure out how to keep improving my stroke. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

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One thing that has given me solace is this pace chart I found. My greatest fear has always been making the 2 hours and 20 minute cut-off time for IMAZ. When I see this chart though, I realize that even if I swim significantly slower than I normally do, I will make it, especially if I keep working my ass off.

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures over the last week or so, but here’s one as I was heading out for another ride…love our blue skies!

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Favorite new gear: I am loving my new rabbit running duds, which arrived last week!! rabbit was recently launched by two of my running friends, Monica DeVreese and Jill Deering. Aren’t these fierce, fit women adorable?

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I’m proud to say that I’m part of the Founder’s Club of this awesome running apparel company (along with lots of other rad runners). If you like super comfy, non-fussy running clothes, I think you’ll like what they’ve designed. What’s especially great is that it’s all made right here in the USA. Here’s a peek at the women’s line.

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I opted for the bunny hop tank in snorkel blue and cherry tomato and the hopper shorts in black. I’m picky about my running shorts, and in fact have a hard time finding ones that don’t drive me nuts. When you have a small(er) waist and bigger caboose and quads, it makes it challenging to find shorts that fit. Jill and Monica did a great job of getting the Hopper shorts just right.

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In case you want to check it out yourself, here’s the website. http://www.runinrabbit.com. They also have a men’s line.

Skratch Labs energy chews. The other thing I’m glad I discovered is Skratch Labs’ chews, which are great on a long ride (thanks Kate for the recommendation!). What I like about these is that they’re tasty and natural and they don’t have a waxy, sticky feel to them. They’re more like gum drops in texture. Did I mention the yum factor?

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Smile Train Update: I’m over the moon…we have funded our 18th child for cleft surgery!! Thank you Janet Cook, Mark & LeAnn Green and Artaz Heating-Plumbing for your generous donations this week! We only have 2 more kiddos to go until we reach goal of changing the lives of 20 children. If you’d like to make a donation, please click on this link to contribute: http://support.smiletrain.org/site/TR/AthleticsEvent/General?px=3630403&pg=personal&fr_id=1701. As you know, no amount is too small. And remember anybody who donates $250 will entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card, and those who donate $100-$249 will entered to win a $25 gift card.

Smile Train Ironman Arizona

I hope you’re all getting out and making your day great! I’m continually inspired by all the creative, healthy and philanthropic things I know you are up to. And OMG….HUGE CONGRATS to my friend Jenni Miller who ROCKED the Boston Marathon yesterday, finishing in 3:28 (an 18 minute course PR). Talk about BostonStrong and IronStrong! Yay, Jenni! I’m so proud of you!

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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 Eleven: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen: Spring!

Week Fourteen: Rollercoaster

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