Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I *AM* taking it easy

Wednesday: Rest

I decided last night that I had nothing to lose by writing to the eBay seller to complain about my heart-rate monitor. I don't know if it will do any good, but at least I got a giggle out of the reply I got:
Dear friend,
Thanks so much for your message and glad to serve you!
Very sorry to hear the problem you said! We have sold a lot of the items but there are few problems. But please take it easy. We will surely be responsible for this matter.
Do you mean that it can't work well or it inaccurately works? Could you please tell us the problem in details?
Please don't worry, if you really don't like it, we will surely give you a resonable solution.
Please let us know the result. Thanks a lot for your time and understanding in advance!
If you have any question, whatever, please first feel free to contact us right away.
Wish you have a great day everyday!
Best regards,
Danny, Customer Support

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Runner's high

Tuesday: Bike 13 miles, run 2.5 miles

Due to a clerical error, I did my run at a lower heart rate than I was supposed to. And it was AWESOME.

I'd tell you my top speed, but you'd laugh, and it might bring me down off this runner's high.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 2: Self preservation

Sunday: Bike 19 miles
Monday: Swim 1,800 yards, yoga

So hope dawns anew with Week 2 of training, and I decided it needs a theme, and that that theme should be "self preservation." By which I mean not just staying in one piece, but actually preserving my SELF…doing all this training and remaining Julie. As opposed to the anxious, selfish, frantic psychopath who has been inhabiting my skin lately.

I had to remind myself of my theme today when in yoga my wrist started hurting for no apparent reason. Solution: Don't worry. Don't try to power through. Do the things that don't hurt and skip the rest.

There. That wasn't so hard.

P.S. Swimming immediately before yoga leads to crazy hair, which is actually not at all at odds with the theme of the week since my hair borders on crazy all the time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pulling my crap together

Saturday: Bike 40 minutes, run 45 minutes

A lot of yesterday's trauma has resolved itself, and I think I'm back to normal (i.e., sane). My current status:
  • A little sore where I hurt my groin muscle, but not limping, and on the mend.
  • A little tired from working out and then walking around a lot of the day, but not unreasonably so.
  • Allergic to stuff, and sniffing a lot, because it's fall, but not actually sick.
  • Still kicking myself over the heart-rate monitor stupidity, but thankful for a sweet friend who's going to lend me a decent one so I can get on with my life.
  • Able once again to laugh at life's small mishaps, for example when you're riding along and a BIRD ACTUALLY CRAPS ON YOUR LOWER LIP, MAKING YOU NEARLY RUN INTO A DITCH BECAUSE OF ALL THE ENSUING SPITTING AND WIPING-OFF.
  • Trying not to say "crap" so much in this blog, but seriously, can you believe the kind of crap that happens to me?
  • Glad to have finally finished Week One, and to have made up that bike ride I missed earlier in the week by dumping a swim instead.
So I'm pretty sure about this heart-rate monitor being a piece of crap (last time, sorry). For the warm-up on my run, I was supposed to work up gradually to 123 beats per minute. This is how it went:

OK, I'm at 100 bpm; I'll pick up the pace a little.
Uh-oh, I'm at 140 bpm, better walk for a second.
Oops, now I'm at 90, better jog.
Oops, now I'm at 150.
And so on.

I could never hold a steady heart rate for a single minute the entire run. Starting to think it might actually be a cardiac condition.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The bad beginning

Thursday: Run 5 miles, bike 6 miles
Friday: Yoga, swim 1,800 yards

Editor's Note: I waited to blog until I was in a better mood, so if you want to know how I really feel, you should probably multiply the following rant by ten.

Are the workouts I've been doing this week really that much harder than what I did all summer? Are they? No, really, I'm asking you. Because I am stinking exhausted and I don't know why. And this week has just been one unfortunate event after another. (Perhaps that's what I get for calling it "Week the first," hmmm?)

So yesterday I was supposed to run for 55 minutes and then bike for 30. The idea is to keep your heart rate elevated for a longer time without beating up your legs too much. I figured it would be fine to do the running on the treadmill and then just use the stationary bike at the gym. But it really wasn't fine. It was extremely uncomfortable, more difficult than it should have been, and actually painful in one knee (the other one). I realized the whole thing wasn't just suboptimal but actively counterproductive, so I went back to the treadmill to walk to the end of my time. From now on I'm going to either just walk for the biking time or give up on trying to do that kind of workout in the gym at all.

I woke up pretty tired this morning but was still having a decent yoga class until I kicked up into a handstand and pulled a muscle in my groin. My first thought was, Oh, no I did NOT just injure myself for the SECOND TIME in my first week of training. But oh, yes, I did! I was still able to swim afterward, but without any kicking, and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do tomorrow's run/bike workouts at all. I came home nauseated, starving, dizzy, drained, dejected, limping, and wondering if I was actually sick on top of everything or just allergic to the world. Instead of working I spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the couch watching Netflix crap and feeling sorry for myself.

My heart-rate monitor finally showed up today, and I realized that instead of having bought the practical, utilitarian, no-bells-and-whistles piece of equipment I thought I had, what I likely now own is instead a total piece of crap. It feels cheap and is hard to use, and the instructions are written in a very broken English. It wasn't expensive but certainly isn't worth what I paid. It might make it through the next 39 weeks of training, and it might not.

I might make it through the next 39 weeks of training, and I might not.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reasons not to panic

Tuesday: Yoga, swim 2,400 yards
Wednesday: Rest

Reasons not to panic:
  • I'm thinking being so tired yesterday was a bit of a fluke; I'm actually feeling fine today.
  • My knee still feels a little tweaky, and it's popping like crazy, so I think something is probably going on there. I'm going to attempt to make a smart decision and skip my (puny, inconsequential, irrelevant) 40-minute bike ride tonight to give it a real good chance at healing up completely before it becomes even a hint of an actual problem. Tomorrow is a rest day, so that will help.
  • is up again, and I've copied all the workouts into a Word file just in case the site ever crashes or the folks there decide to take them down. Peace of mind.
I really hate the thought of skipping a workout already, but like I said, I'm trying to be smart here, and I'd rather risk being undertrained than risk getting injured.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Too tired for optimism tonight

Monday: Run 3 miles, bike 14 miles

Reasons to panic:
  • Ugh. Tired, so very tired.
  • Tiny pain just below the knee. It was the one-legged pedaling what did it.
  •, where my training plan lives, is crashed. Tried to copy and paste cached versions of all the weeks' workouts in case it's permanent. Got only about a third.
Reasons not to panic:
  • Perhaps I'll think of some tomorrow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week the first ("I'm training for an Ironman!")

Bike 21 miles, yoga

So I finally got to crack open the much-anticipated training plan. 'Bout stinking time. Now if anyone asks, I can say I'm training for an Ironman and not feel like I'm lying.

("I'm training for an Ironman." See? See?)

Today I was supposed to do an 80-minute ride that included some single-leg and cadence drills. Sounded easy enough. But then I discovered a few itsy-bitsy flaws in my cycling technique:

Flaw 1. You know how a pedal stroke is ideally supposed to be some kind of a circle? Well, the single-leg drill revealed that mine is apparently a shape with somewhat straighter edges. (And I'm not talking dodecagon here. More like pentagon. Or triangle.) Plus, there's a point just before the top of the pedal stroke where the whole thing sometimes comes to a complete stop, even if I make little "uh, uh" noises.

Flaw 2. I know pedaling fast is good in theory, but the cadence drill seemed to indicate that I haven't exactly internalized that concept. I was supposed to pedal at three speeds: 80-85 rpm, 90-95 rpm, and 105+ rpm. I'm not sure what my comfortable, normal, happy pedaling speed is, but today I learned that 80 rpm is faster than that. 90 is possible. But 105 was not going to happen, and whatever top cadence I did manage had me bouncing all over the place, which is a) stupid, b) embarrassing, and c) painful.

Glad I had yoga afterward because I rock at that.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Thursday: Rest
Friday: Yoga, walk 1 mile
Saturday: Yoga

I'm feeling nice and rested and really, really eager to get started on my training program. My only reservation right now is a tiny bit of bummage that my yoga is probably going to suffer severely through all this. Yoga is clicking like crazy for me right now. I love it when I can do every single move in a class, and even do a bit more than what the class is doing (why just flop onto your stomach when you can float into plank and then lower yourself down gracefully?). That's why I'm so determined to keep at least a couple of classes in the weekly mix. It would be awesome if I could keep feeling this good as the running and biking volume builds up.

First up (because of all my schedule rearranging) is an 80-minute bike ride on Sunday. Should be a piece of cake unless my heart-rate monitor arrives in the mail before then and I find out that my normal riding pace is not nearly hard enough to qualify as aerobic—which is very likely, actually, now that I mention it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Heart-rate shenanigans

Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Run 2 miles, weights

I finally bought a new heart-rate monitor, but while I wait for it to be shipped, I decided to take my sad, lonely strap back to the gym and do another heart-rate-based workout with the friendly treadmill. Nice in theory, but the treadmill wasn't feeling friendly.

Everything was fine at first, and I was able to jog comfortably (but very, very slowly) while keeping my heart rate at 118. Then suddenly my heart rate dropped down to 80, and the treadmill incline shot up to 8%. Then my heart rate went down to 70, and then 65, and the incline went up to 10%, and then 11%. Gasp! Choke! Then the thing seemed to come to its senses and showed my heart rate up in the 140s, which it probably was, and the incline eased up, and soon I was fine again. So either something was interfering with the transmission, or I have a severe heart condition.

Anyway, this happened three times, so I guess I can just call it an interval workout.

Then I headed over to the weight area to try "The Exact Gym Workout to be Doing During Race Season" according to The workout has three main focuses, one of which is hip strength, and is designed to be a quickie gym session that will help prevent injury for triathletes. Seems perfect for me, and I'm going to try to work at least the hip stuff, and probably all of it, into my routine for the next, oh, 37 weeks. I know there's a limit to how much I'm going to want to ADD to the Ironman training schedule, but I promise this is it.

P.S. I decided to start Sunday instead of Monday to give myself the full 40 weeks to train. I like that nice, round, pregnancy-reminiscent number, especially since the prospect of turning 40 was kind of the impetus for this.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The right and wrong way to obsess

Sunday: Yoga
Monday: Rest

I think I've been obsessing way too much about this Ironman. (Outside of what I write here, I mean. After all, this is an Ironman blog, so I don't sound at least a little obsessed on the blog, then I'm probably doing it wrong. Yes?)

But for example, I've declared my (perfectly sane and rational) intent to take it easy for a few days until I officially start training next week, and since I've been feeling a little tired, I decided it would be good to take today off. But there's a part of me screaming, "Nooooo! Must get faster! Must lose weight! Must get comfortable on the bike! Must buy $6,000 worth of new gear on eBay! At least get in a short swim! No, a run! No, a ride!" and so on.

I feel like I'm counting down the days until a big race, rather than just the date when I arbitrarily decided the training "officially" begins. Must chill out.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Low ebb

Friday: Yoga, bike 9 miles
Saturday: Yoga, bike 34 miles

So tired. Either the yoga+34 miles wiped me out, or my body is busy fighting off the disease my husband and son have (or both). At some point this evening we just gave up trying to do anything useful, had pancakes for dinner, and watched movies on Netflix until bedtime.

I have to say, it's disheartening to be so exhausted after a ride that's less than a third of 112 miles. Instead of a marathon afterward, I took my grandmother grocery shopping. After about an hour of moving at 0.5 mph, I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep on her living room couch.

I might take tomorrow off just so someone around here has the energy to do the dishes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Playing with my toys

Thursday: Walk/run 6 miles

I still have just the strap of my heart-rate monitor, but I decided to try it out at the gym to see if I could get the hang of this type of training. The treadmills are compatible with the strap, and they have programs that automatically adjust the incline so you can hold your heart rate wherever you want it.

I thought it would probably be pretty easy to do the whole walk/run at 65%, but that actually turned out to be a bit harder than I've been walking (uh-oh). In fact, I thought I was doomed at first, because it took some very steep, very fast treading to get my heart rate up to the magic 118 and I kind of got out of breath. (Starting to wonder if I am the world's wimpiest walker.) When I jogged, though, I literally could not go slow enough to get it down to 118, but at least it was flat, and I felt more relaxed.

My resting heart rate is pretty low (although I'd like to find my watch and actually measure it), so I wonder if I might need to adjust the training ranges down from what the treadmill suggests. More research!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting ready

Wednesday: Rest

I tore the house apart yesterday looking for my heart-rate monitor and came up with nothing. Then I mentioned to my husband that I was looking for it, and he walked over to a drawer and emerged with it 10 seconds later. The strap anyway. I still don't know where the watch is, and neither does the amazing magical genie spouse.

I took my bike into the shop this morning and am getting an 11/27 put on. I hope that's sufficient. I really had no basis for deciding whether that would be easy enough or if I would need a third chainring, so I went with the simplest and cheapest option. At any rate, it will help. I was counting my pedal strokes per minute last time I climbed the Molt hill, and I got as low as 35. If this keeps me above 60 or so, I'll be delighted.

While I was tearing the house apart, I found an empty little datebook that will be perfect for planning out my training weeks. I have Week 1 filled in and it looks pretty easy, so I went ahead and planned on three yoga classes. It's ridiculous how many variables go into planning a week: weather forecast, gym schedule, workload predictions, kids' schedules, spacing out the easier days evenly, and—yes, I admit shamefacedly—putting my long run on "Project Runway" night. You didn't expect me to sacrifice for this goal, did you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Easing up

Monday: Bike 17 miles
Tuesday: Yoga, swim 1,500 yards

I'm toning down my training a bit so I'll be rested and gung-ho when I start the "real" training in a few weeks. The plan is to start the day after the Montana Marathon, and I'm so glad I decided not to run that! I managed to sell my slot on Craigslist to a woman about my age doing her first marathon, so I'm really happy it's going to someone who is excited about it. She asked for advice, so I threw in my "wisdom" about the course free of charge. It's nice to feel like a veteran.

I got up for psycho-early-yoga again. I felt pretty good in class this time, but man, it makes for a long day. And it seems to require that I eat an entire extra meal ("second breakfast"), so I think it might be counterproductive as far as losing weight. Maybe if I go to bed at 8:30 tonight I can stay within my calorie limit??

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy to have a plan

Saturday: Yoga, swim 1,000
Sunday: Run/walk 4 miles, weights

I've spent some time this weekend doing training research, and think I've come up with a plan. I really like the free ironman training program at, but I had a few concerns:
  1. There's a ton of swimming (up to four days a week!) that I don't necessarily need.
  2. Everything is done by time and heart rate rather than distance, so if I remain very, very slow, then I might not get in the distance that's intended.
  3. There's no time for yoga, which I really think I want to keep up.
  4. The taper is only two weeks and (to me at least) looks like too much work too close to the race.
  5. My job is going to create a handful of three- or four-day periods where I can't work out at all.
So the plan I came up with is to start the 36-week program 40 weeks out. That gives me one extra week to taper, one extra week to add on distance to my long ride and/or run, and two weeks of buffer to add random rest days when work gets crazy. I'll stick to swimming once or twice a week, but maybe double up the swims to get in the full week's yardage. And I'll take the time freed up by swimming less often to do yoga about twice a week.

I'm 42 weeks out from the race right now, so I'm thinking I might back off on my training a bit for the next two weeks (and hit a ton of yoga classes instead) so that I can start fresh and raring to go.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Friday: Ride 44 miles

Wow, that one hurt. 44 miles, plus massive hills. Still, it was another beautiful day, and it almost made me feel guilty to ride by people out doing actual work. Think I'll have a shower and go eat something…or possibly everything.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The gear I want

Thursday: Bike 31 miles, walk/run 6 miles

Such a beautiful ride today. The wind was howling, but it was cool and crystal clear, and the sky was pure poetry. I didn't attempt another hilly route, but I was certainly cursing the headwind for the first part of the ride. (The way back, now!! That was fun.)

It's been dawning on me that my bike (purchased in Virginia Beach) isn't really geared for mountainous terrain. Well, I always knew that, but I guess what's been dawning on me is that this is fixable. I ran across something that said that the IM CDA bike course gets up to a 19% grade (what?!!) for short sections and that you'd be a fool to do it without at least a 12-25 or 12-27—WHATEVER THAT MEANS. I'm pretty sure I don't have it, though. I checked my bike for similar numbers and saw "53-39," but I'm not sure that's even related.

(I know there are punier gears out there, because when we were in Colorado and drove up to the top of Mount Evans, I saw a guy pedaling up an incredibly steep hill at about 100 rmp and going about 2 mph. That's the gear I want.)

Anyway, the point is I'm clueless about this stuff, and another stop at the bike shop is in order. Might as well do it sooner rather than later so I can start practicing on appropriate gears.

P.S. I added a grand total of 5 minutes of running to my 90-minute walk. So far so good, hip-wise.