19 weeks down. 19 to go. Can’t believe I’m at the half-way mark in my 2014 journey to IRONMAN! This second half is definitely going to test my physical and mental strength more than ever before. I will probably want to quit at times, I will have to dig deep, I’m going to be drained, but I’m just going to have to persevere and stay focused on the goal.
To summarize this past week, it was fantastic until Saturday and Sunday. I was recovering well from Wildflower, doing my normal workouts, biking to work, feeling strong and happy with high confidence, then bam…Saturday we were faced with strong wind on our long 72 mile bike ride which I call the “soul-crushing” ride. It broke me down mentally and physically. Then Sunday I had a slow and nerve-wracking swim in the Bay followed by a bike ride that left me in excruciating knee pain at mile 5. I stopped right then and there. I think I’m officially injured, which means rehab, ice, ibuprofen, rest, and more attention to injury-prevention.
After Wildflower I took Sunday completely off to rest, get a massage (painful!), and walk around to keep my legs moving. On Monday I did some foam rolling and 30 minutes of really easy spinning on an indoor bike just to flush out the legs. By Tuesday almost my soreness was gone, so I picked up my normal training schedule where I left it: spin class on Tuesday, swim on Wednesday with an easy recovery workout at track, bike on Thursday, and run on Friday morning. I actually skipped a couple sessions as to not overdo it this week. I had some dull achiness in my left knee but really didn’t think much about it.
I felt a lot more tired this week in general. It was a little harder to wake up at my normal 5:45am and I found myself craving a second cup of coffee in the afternoon. I hope that this week I’m back on track and feeling more energized.
Saturday — 72 Mile Bike + 2.5 Mile Run
“People go to Hawaii to get this type of wind and hill training. And we get it for free!” — Coach Duane, always so positive
Our 72 mile bike ride (~5 hours) on Saturday started in San Rafael and brought us through Nicasio, over Wilson Hill, and around the Chileno Loop and back. Normally it would’ve been a pleasant and beautiful ride with challenging climbs and gorgeous views. But Mother Nature wasn’t happy this Mother’s Day and had different plans… for wind. And lots of it. From all directions. Without any signs of slowing down.
The wind was relentless and coming straight at us for most of the ride, with a lot of cross-winds mixed in. The irony was that I had a hard time using my aero bars because I didn’t feel stable enough on my forearms. The only way to feel stable were in my drops or on my handlebars as normal.
I felt defeated. I felt like I was going to get knocked over. I was completely alone without any drafting buddies. I was frustrated. I was unhappy. I wanted to call Coach Duane for a ride home. And I wanted the day to be over. And I NEVER say that about biking. I love getting on my bike (I’ve said that many times before) but Saturday was a whole different beast from a mental perspective. I’m glad we had this experience because this will certainly not be the hardest ride we do and it definitely won’t be the last time where we have to dig deep. So I’ll chalk it up to good experience that made me stronger. But gosh that was defeating.
After the bike ride we did a 25 minute run in the trails near McInnis Park. This was flat, soft surface, and pretty nice. My legs were a little beat but I was still able to find a nice rhythm. I saw a snake on the trail which probably helped make me run faster!
When we finished our training it was already 3pm so Claire, Tami and I got lunch at the Smith Ranch Deli down the street and compared notes from the day and caught up on life. I was just happy to be eating real food and drinking a hot coffee! Little did I know the misery would continue.
Sunday — Tough Swim and Injury
The goal of the day was to preview the Escape from Alcatraz race course with wonderful Golden Gate Tri Club. That would entail a “perimeter” swim in Aquatic Park (instead of actually swimming from The Rock), an 18 mile bike ride through the Presidio, and an 8 mile run including the Sand Ladder. That was the goal, at least…
Swim: It was a very windy day with a bit of chop, a decent current, and very cold water (55 degrees). After a brief intro from Chris we jumped in the cold bay and immediately started swimming; always shocking to the system but good practice for Escape from Alcatraz where you leap from a boat.
Then we started swimming out to the first buoy. I tried to start ahead of the group so maybe I could have a slight chance of keeping up with people. But to no avail. People rushed past me and quickly I was once again in the back of the pack. I felt very uncomfortable out there doing the perimeter essentially by myself. Luckily the buoyancy of the wetsuit acts like a life jacket so I knew I was safe and could take a break at any time.
I shouted out to the only guy (Kevin) within ear-shot and asked (er, demanded!) that he stay closeby because I was struggling with the waves, the current, and catching my breath. He was very sweet to stick by me. Then I caught up to Alex and Mark who also made sure I was safe and in good hands. Thanks guys!!
That swim was miserable. I wanted to cry. I wanted to turn back. And I definitely swallowed a lot of bay water from those waves.
But what this experience taught me is that I need to once-and-for-all overcome this open water anxiety. And I also need to work on improving my swim stroke so I’m not always back of the pack. This will mean more time in AP and starting with my pool’s Masters swim class.
Bike: After a quick run-down of the bike course all ~30 of us rolled out from Fort Mason. It was flat and easy until the first climb to the Golden Gate Bridge. Then my left knee started hurting more and more with every pedal stroke. I couldn’t bear the pain any longer. So I listened to my body and turned back to Fort Mason. I was upset because I was missing such a fun day with my club, and also missing a chance to see the EFA bike course. I wasn’t happy but I’m really glad I stopped the bike and didn’t do the run. Pushing it for the sake of pushing it would’ve made things much worse.
Recovery Part 2: I’m icing my knee, foam rolling my IT band, quads, calf muscles, and scheduling some time with a physical therapist asap this week.
The Next 4 Months
For the next four months until Ironman I really want to develop stronger swimming and biking skills and generally take better care of myself for recovery. Here are some things I’d like to change/add:
- Master’s swim class at least once a week. I need someone to help me with my technique and I won’t get that by just doing solo swims at the pool. Swimming is my weakest leg and I need a lot of help with it before I’m ready to conquer 2.4 miles in Lake Tahoe.
- More time at Aquatic Park, at least once a week. This will help with comfort in open water, and help with longer continuous swims.
- Specialty spin classes at cycling studios such as M2 or Shift. M2 happens to be really close to my apartment so I’ll probably end up there. My free, 45 minute spin classes at work, though are good cardio workouts, aren’t helping me develop specific cycling skills. And I like that M2 uses watts and actual data to help track improvements.
- Massage and/or physical therapy once a week or every other week. This will help speed recovery and also help prevent future injuries. Ironman training is taking a beating to my body so I need to make sure I’m properly recovering my muscles.
- Bike to work (30 miles) once a week or every other week. Or this could be Tuesday night hill repeats with Sam Gager. The point is that I need more time in the saddle working on specific skills in addition to spin classes and longer rides on the weekend.
- Altitude training! Time to load up the car and head to Tahoe as much as possible! Teammates, I’m happy to go anytime. I want to preview the course and know it inside out, and get used to the feeling of altitude (how does it affect my body, my pace, my hydration, my swim, etc?).
- Alright, I know the video is a little lame.. but I did get goosebumps! “Anything Is Possible” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjxxYoL7nSU&feature=share
- Train Your Brain! Great article about mental strength. http://www.runnersworld.com/sports-psychology/train-your-brain-to-run-your-best?cm_mmc=Facebook-_-RunnersWorld-_-Content-Training-_-TrainYourBrain
- Jesse Thomas’ Wildflower Race Report. He won for the 4th year in a row while recovering from a foot injury. He’s a true inspiration. Love him! http://leapdaysports.com/2014/05/09/2014-wildflower-race-report/
- Escape from Alcatraz announces Pro Lineup. I will be racing this in a few weeks so it’s cool to see which rockstars I’ll be seeing on the course! http://triathlon.competitor.com/2014/05/news/escape-alcatraz-announces-pro-lineup_98735
This Week’s Training Log
Sunday the 11th. Swim. Aquatic Park Perimeter. 25 minutes (felt like 5 hours)
Saturday the 10th. Run. Brick run after the bike. 25 minutes. 9:21/mi
Saturday the 10th. Bike. 72 miles, 5 hours. Very windy.
Friday the 9th. Run. 7.0 miles at an easy recovery pace. 9:14/mi
Thursday the 8th. Bike. Bike to work day! San Francisco to Redwood City. 30 miles. 1 hour 51 mins.
Wednesday the 7th. Run. Recovery track workout. 3.7 miles. Fast straight-aways, slow curves
Wednesday the 7th. Swim. 1550 yards with drills.
Tuesday the 6th. Bike. Spin class. 45 minutes. Foam roll.
Monday the 5th. Bike. Very easy 30 minutes spinning, little resistance + long foam rolling session
Thanks Everyone. Swim. Bike. Run. Eat Plants.