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 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 Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends

IMAZLogoIt’s full speed ahead into my second “official” week of Ironman training and it has brought nothing but joy. Who knew acquiring so many tired muscles could be this much fun? I just keep taking it one day, one workout at a time. That’s how I’m going to get to the starting line of Ironman Arizona in November. #ithinkican #ithinkican #ithinkican

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

Monday: Rest (aaaaah), core and stretching pm

Tuesday: Run 35 minutes, (Killer)Kate’s strength & stretch class, more core and stretching pm

Wednesday: Swim 1900 y followed by 2 back-to-back spinning classes, core and stretching pm

Thursday: Run 40 minutes, core and stretching pm

Friday: Swim 1600 y, core and stretching pm

Saturday: Run 60 minutes, upper body strength, core and stretching pm

Sunday: Bike 3 hours, core and stretching pm

Celebrating: Last week I celebrated turning the Big 5-0 by riding 50 miles in spinning class then having more fitness fun with friends the following day, on my actual birthday. “Keep Calm and BRING IT ON!” is what I say, and yes, every girl should run with a tiara on her birthday.

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Photo credit: Randy Weiss Presidio Sports

Gratitude: I already have so many people I’m grateful for on this Ironman Journey. There isn’t a day that goes by that somebody doesn’t do or say something nice. My friend and Moms in Motion tri coach, Whitney Bruice, took time out of her busy morning last week to come help me try to improve my swim stroke. Coach Whitney is a phenomenal swimmer and triathlete (not to mention a mother of two and a busy working professional), so it was exciting to hear she thought my stroke looked fairly solid, with the exception of a slight cross-over on my left side. I have A LOT more time ahead of me in the pool working on technique and building up my speed, strength and endurance, but it was reassuring to know that at least I’m headed in the right direction. Thank you Whitney!

JenniMillerThe other person who has been exceptionally helpful this week is my friend Jenni Miller, who is also a busy mother of two, an attorney, activist/philanthropist (Strides for SMS) and an outstanding athlete. She completed her first Ironman last summer (and CRUSHED IT by the way–top 10% in her age group), and she has been giving me great advice and tons of encouragement. It’s often the smallest details that make the biggest difference–from goggle selections to fueling to fav bike shorts. Her generosity and enthusiasm have added a huge dollop of happy in my happiness jar. Jenni is currently training for Ironman Lake Placid, which will take place in July, and is sure to rip that up too! Go girl!

I’m also grateful for all the people who have contributed to my Smile Train fundraising! With the support of Ana, Hensley, Jessica, Namita, Tim and Jo, the Clyne girls, the Rybniceck Family and the Whelan Family, we have already raised $1,075! That means four kids are already going to get life-changing cleft palate/lip surgery. My goal is 20 kids. Each surgery costs as little as $250 and only takes 45 minutes, but has enormous implications for improving the life of a child and his or her family. If you want to be part of making a big difference in somebody’s life, you can click HERE to donate.

Spinning forward: Yesterday I got aero bars and a bike fit from Bruce Davis at Hazard’s Cyclesport using the Guru Fit System. What I like most about Hazard’s is that you don’t have to be a gearhead to be treated like an awesome athlete (even if you’re a work-in-progress like me). Bruce had me up and running in no time and explained all the details along the way about geometry, balance and power. I’m excited to get out on the road and gobble up some miles. Bruce told me not to smile for this picture, which was hard, so I look like I swallowed a bird. I guess that just means I’m ready to fly, baby!

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Challenges: Sleep. I know how important sleep is for recovery, but damn if it isn’t elusive for this chiquita. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. I’m trying to force myself to take naps, but it’s never easy.

Breakthroughs: Learning to change a flat and patch a tube with confidence. I haven’t had a flat in 20 years (I know, crazy, huh?), so I haven’t had any practice doing it. Last Sunday, right before I was about to join some friends for a long ride, I was putting air in my tire and the top of the stem valve broke off. Batta boom, that’s all she wrote. Fortunately, it happened in my garage so I didn’t have to bumble through it on the side of the road on a cold, rainy day or be the ridiculous damsel in distress who called for a pick-up. YouTube videos are the bomb, I tell you.

What I’ve learned: Always check your gear the night before so you don’t have any obstacles the morning of training. It’s hard enough to get out the door sometimes without gear problems, so make sure you’re ready to go. Because of my flat tire, I missed riding with a group of friends, which would have been fun. I also learned to keep experimenting with eating while training as it’s a little bit of an art and a science figuring out how much food your stomach can tolerate. On my last 3 hour bike ride I was running low on energy, but I overdid it a little on Wednesday’s swim/double-spin workout so the banana I ate sat like a rock in my stomach. Fortunately, I have ample opportunities to keep experimenting. I will get there.

Looking forward to: Getting a new triathlon watch. I’m leaning toward getting a Suunto Ambit 3, but I’m also considering a Garmin 920xt. Any thoughts?

 

You can help make a child smile by donating to my Team Empower Smile Train fundraising page HERE.