Sunday, October 31, 2010


Saturday: Bike 34 miles
Sunday: Run 4.5 miles

So here's dedication for you: Up at 6:15 on a Sunday for a high-intensity run, ready for Sunday school by 8:45, done with church at 11:30, and back in the car by noon to drive to Cody, Wyoming, for a family gathering at 2.

And here's where the dedication falls apart: a cookie before getting on the road, a cookie and piece of apple cake with whipped cream for dessert, another cookie just because, and then a minor raid of the children's trick-or-treat bags after dark. It could have been worse, but I have to say I'm not proud of how I handled my first scheduled break from the Ironman sugar fast.

So here we are at dinner and my husband's cousin says, "Oh, you're training for an Ironman? Besides working out, are you doing anything else to prepare?"

And here's me, mouth full of cake: "Well, I gave up sugar…"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cautiously optimistic

Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Run 8 miles
Friday: Swim 3,200 yards

I got a weird glimmer this week of what it might be like to actually be in shape, and a hint that I'm getting there. First off, I was extremely disappointed that I ended up being glued to my desk all day Wednesday—because I'm starting to miss my actual family, but also because I was stir crazy after two full days of rest and wanted to get the the gym. Those hard workouts I dreaded last week sounded like just what I needed.

I know! Weird, right?

Then I went to physical therapy on Thursday, and Dan told me I was ready to "graduate" if I wanted. I still need to work on strengthening my hip and stretching my IT band (and I still have to refrain from sleeping on my right side), but I can handle it on my own from this point, and I'm basically cured. As if to prove it, I immediately headed to the gym for a wonderful, pain-free nearly two hours on the treadmill. I felt fabulous afterward. Like I had maybe 4 more miles in me before it was going to feel like a "long" run (slash walk).

I seem to remember from my swimming days that being in shape is its own reward. If I can just get my life to cooperate with my workout plans, I think I can make it happen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Busy busy busy

Tuesday: Rest

I have literally not left my desk for more than 2 minutes at a time this entire day, but rest assured that if I had, I would have headed straight for my bike. Tomorrow will be more of the same. Hmm. This week is looking downright deja vuey.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Not a nice day for a ride

Sunday: Swim 2,500 yards, yoga
Monday: Bike 17 miles, run 2.5 miles

The nine-day extravaganza of work and stress and pain that was Week 5 is FINALLY over, and it ended with an utterly miserable bike ride in the freezing, howling wind. It was blowing so hard that I was afraid to ride on my normal roads for fear that I'd get blown into traffic and run over by a truck. So in addition to miserable weather, it was also a miserable (but safe) route: a loop around my neighborhood, a couple miles down a nice wide bike path, a loop around a different neighborhood, and back. Lots of times.

Never again. I have been a wuss about setting up the trainer and trying it out, but the next riding day that's like that, I will have to. (I have never ridden on a trainer before, ever, but I've always known the time is coming. This is Montana.)

The run afterward was actually really nice. The wind was still howling (plus it started raining on me), but it was all much easier to deal with on foot, and running just felt good. I am starting to realize that running on a treadmill is only loosely related to running outside, and if you want to get better at running outside, then you have to actually go run there. Obvious, maybe. But it feels like a breakthrough to me, and it seems like I'm improving now that I've ventured outside a few times.

Probably the physical therapy is helping, too. Everything we do there is torture, but it's nice not to have hip pain.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

That wasn't so bad, considering

Friday: Swim 3,000 yards
Saturday: Bike 36 miles, run 2.5 miles

Despite saying I was going to take this week one day at a time, I'd been dreading today's workout. The main biking set was to hold a 75% heart rate for 11.2 miles (one-tenth of the race distance). Twice. It was supposed to be timed, but since I was biking outside, I scrapped the whole 11.2 idea entirely and just did it for 42 minutes. Twice.

I've calculated that my 75% maximum heart rate for biking is 131 (141 for running) but I actually find it really hard to get there and stay there. For most of this ride I had to settle for upper 120s (and a voice in my head screaming, "Faster! Faster!"). I spent the whole ride trying to figure out why it's so hard for me to maintain an aerobic pace on the bike, and the only thing I could come up with is that my saddle is so darn uncomfortable that I'm in actual pain even when I'm not working that hard, so it raises my perceived exertion.

That's just a fancy way of saying that I'm going to try to convince my husband that it's a great idea to drop $150 on a new saddle.

But seriously, I'm going to be biking a lot more miles, and there's a limit to how much more pain I can "get used to." As soon as I got home I started Googling, and here's what I think I want:

Isn't it pretty? See that cut-out area? That's the part that's not going to hurt any more!

I've also been researching biking shorts, and it turns out there's a whole universe of $130 high-tech shorts that apparently feel like you're wearing fluffy clouds, but I really think the saddle is the place to start.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back at it

Thursday: Run 8 miles

Wow, that was a long one on the treadmill. Technically I was supposed to run for 1:10 and bike for :50, but I've been turning the bike into a walk so I can do it all at the gym during "Project Runway." Next week is the show's season finale, so I guess after that I'll be doing my workouts properly.

Or not. I've actually been thinking of taking my long run day and occasionally turning it into a super-long hiking day—like just setting out sometime I don't have anything to do (it happens!) and walking for six or seven hours, and then building up from there. I just want to get used to being up and moving for as long as it's going to take to get through an Ironman. (Not that I'm expecting a death march or anything. But if I end up with one, it might be kind of awesome to be trained for it.)

Today I was supposed to record the time for a 3-mile run done at a 75% maximum heart rate. It was strange—when I started out, I could go 5.6 mph at 75%, but my heart rate kept creeping up, and I had to take my speed down until I was running at 4.7 mph by the end. (I guess that's the type of thing I'm trying to improve with training.) Anyway, my 3-mile time was 36:58, which is a 12:19 pace.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A few words about my day

Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Rest

Just stepping away from work for a second to say blearkjasf.




Monday, October 18, 2010


Monday: Bike 17 miles

I told the physical therapist about the bruise, and he said, "Oh, didn't I warn you that might happen?" He said they have to walk a fine line because if they're too gentle it doesn't do any good, and if they're too rough, you get raw-hamburger leg. At any rate, today's session hurt much less, and I was glad. I'm daring to hope that my IT band is actually starting to loosen up enough that future massaging might even feel good.

I'm having an almost nightmarish amount of work befall me in the next few days. I'm hoping to stick to the schedule, but we'll see how bad it gets.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yoga love

Sunday: Run 3 miles, yoga

I've been having trouble with the IT band stretches the PT gave me (in that I can't actually feel them in my IT band), and so after yoga I asked the instructor if she had any suggestions. She and another guru/friend spent 15 minutes working with me trying to find something that worked. I love yoga.

I didn't do one of my long workouts today after all. I decided I'd rather be more rested and have a good yoga class. I did. Totally worth it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

One day at a time

Saturday: Bike 14 miles, run 3 miles

First, the promised photo. Today it looks like a regular old bruise:

I had a hard time getting myself out the door for my ride today. Not because of the bruise (which hurts to touch but not to run and ride on), but just because it was gray and cold and I'm tired and cranky. Then I got back home from the ride, and it took me another hour to get out the door again for the run.

I think I'm going to have to take Week 5 one day at a time, because when I start thinking about everything that I'm going to need to do, I start to freak out a little bit. Lots of work rolling in, lots of family responsibilities, and oh my gosh, would you look at that nutty workout schedule! Week 4 didn't include a rest day, so I moved things around and created one, thinking it was just a mistake. Well, Week 5 doesn't have a scheduled rest day either, and I'm really not seeing any workouts I really want to double up on. Guess I'll burn a bonus rest day but do them all as written.

Beyond that, the strategy should probably be to get my longest workout out of the way tomorrow, before the work avalanche, but I'm not in the mood to think about that yet. One day at a time.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Friday: Yoga, swim 2,500 yards

Didn't I tell you I was manhandled yesterday? Well, now I have massive bruises all up and down my right leg. Kind of weird bruises, too. Not purple. More like a raw hamburger color. And not really bruises, plural. More like one continuous, mottled bruise. Kind of a raw-hamburger motif overall.

Sigh. Tomorrow I'll post a picture.

That part of my leg hurts even to touch, and doing flip turns on that side was pretty painful. It made me grumpy with every stupid lap. Plus there was a woman at the pool forcing a swimming lesson on her 1-year-old, who SCREAMED the entire time. I was hungry and exhausted from yoga and wanted so badly to just go home, but I kept telling myself, "This is the Ironman, sticking with crap like this," and I did at least finish the workout.

My next PT appointment is Monday. There is NO. WAY. I'm letting anyone massage my leg in this state. Is this even normal? I almost hope it's still there on Monday so "Dan"—if that's even his real name—can see what he did to me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Torture and lies

Thursday: Run 6.5 miles

Even at its worst, in the height of marathon training, my hip never hurt as much as the torture the physical therapist put me through today. I tried not to actually writhe around on the table. Much. Here's the conversation that ensued:

Me: "Ow. Ow ow ow ow. Sorry."
Dan: "What are you sorry about?"
Me: "I don't want to make you feel bad for doing your job."
Dan: "Oh, don't worry about that. At PT school they pretty much rid you of—"
Me: "Kindness and human compassion?"
Dan: "That's probably a good way to put it."

So last time I was there he told me that if I needed to keep training, we could work around that and still get my hip healed. But then today, he goes, "So you're not running anymore, right?" Um…right. Also, I'm definitely not planning to run 6.5 miles later on the treadmill.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Don't let the sun go down on me

Wednesday: Bike 31 miles, run 2 miles

It seems like every ride I take ends up as some kind of epic battle of the elements. Today's elements included ferocious wind that died down just when it was due to become a tailwind, a herd of crazed cows in the middle of the road, a bug that flew directly down my throat, and (most seriously) the rapidly setting sun.

I knew I might be cutting it close when I set out at 4:30 p.m., because it's getting dark ridiculously early these days. But I realized partway into my ride (scheduled for an hour and forty-five minutes) that I was attempting too big of a loop and wasn't going to make it home on time. At that point I scrapped the workout I was trying to follow and decided to book it home as fast as possible (which was kind of the idea behind the workout anyway). I was dreading the thought of being out there on a rural road with no shoulder (and no jacket, and no light) in the dark and cold. In the end I was home only 10 minutes late, and the temperature had only dropped to about 60 degrees, and the sun was still just visible on the horizon, so everything was fine.

And as a bonus, it ended up being a 15.6 mph average speed, which is really fast for me considering the wind. Also, gorgeous sunset for my run afterward.

Physical therapy

Tuesday: Rest

Great news! I finally got serious about doing this Ironman (it seems) and went to see a physical therapist to try to resolve my two years of hip pain. I was nervous because I've never been to one before. I fretted a long time about whether to wear jeans or running clothes or yoga clothes or what. But then I started Googling Ironman nutrition articles and lost track of time, and when I finally looked at the clock again it was three minutes past time to leave, so street clothes it was!

I wasn't surprised that the therapist gave me a lot of tsk-tsking about waiting so long to have my hip looked at. He was also horrified at how tight my IT bands are and how weak my right hip is. Apparently it all adds up to something-something-something bursitis (he talked really fast). I got assigned a bunch of exercises and stretches to do and am supposed to ice it three times a day. I'm also seeing him twice a week for a while for ultrasound, plunger, and rolling pin therapy. (Actually I'm not sure if it was really a rolling pin, but it felt like one. The plunger was really a plunger.)

Oh! And I was instructed not to lie on my right side to sleep any more, which turns out to be the most horrible thing ever. I dutifully went to sleep on my left side, only to find my husband poking at me an hour later to roll me back off that right hip. I don't know why my two sides aren't equally sleep-worthy, but there it is.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Swim time trial

Monday: Swim 3,300 yards

Did the week's big swim today. The main set was 2 × 1,000 at 75% of my maximum heart rate. I wasn't about to try my borrowed heart-rate monitor in the water, but from a few weeks of experience, I know what 75% feels like (a fast pace that makes you breathe hard but doesn't kill you right away) so I felt pretty confident about being able to approximate it. I knew I shouldn't get my hopes up about my times, so I wasn't too disappointed to see 16:28 for the first one. But I was pretty excited to see 16:26 for the second one. Now that's pacing, baby.

I'm supposed to record my time per average 100, so here it is: 1:39. Hmph.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

No, NOW it gets serious

Sunday: Bike 19 miles, run 2 miles, yoga

It's Week 4, and this morning I took a look at the schedule for the first time, aiming to find a workout with a bike ride (because it was such a nice day) that wasn't too difficult (so I could squeeze in some yoga as well). Well, huh. Looks like they're all on the difficult side this week. Plus at the end it says something like, "Congratulations on finishing your first real week of training."

So OK then! Welcome to my first real week of training! Wonder what this is going to be like!

It ended up being a great ride, a decent run, and a killer yoga class, all done in rapid succession, leaving me a sweaty pile of goo who nonetheless had to hurry and get cleaned up to go to dinner at my parents' house. I was famished when I got there and for some reason decided that I was allowed to eat my mom's cinnamon rolls because she doesn't use all that much sugar on them. Then I (apparently) decided I was allowed to eat about seven of them.

Lesson learned. Two and a half hours of working out + yummy food you don't have to cook = DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ironman live

Saturday: Bike 13 miles, run 2.5 miles

I spent almost all day watching the Kona coverage online. It's funny; you think I'd be inspired, but seeing those elite athletes destroy the course in just over eight hours is actually really intimidating. I should probably stay up and watch some folks finish in 14 hours, but let's face it: They're faster than me, too. :)

So I took an Internet time out during the bike leg to finish up Week 3 of training. I'm pleased that I'm feeling so good. My run is already improving. I just hope I get to actually USE my running skills in the race. It doesn't do much good to learn to run if the thing just ends up as a death march.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Plugging away

Wednesday: Bike 24 miles
Thursday: Run 6.5 miles
Friday: Swim 2,400 yards, yoga

I had something to say, I think, but never mind. Nap now.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Sunday: Bike 13 miles, yoga
Monday: Run 3 miles, swim 3,200 yards
Tuesday: Rest

Today was supposed to be one more big workout day before my day off, but I got overwhelmed in the morning with a bunch of deadline work and just couldn't even think about when I might have time to get out for a bike ride. So I decided rather than stress about it, I'd switch things around and just take today off instead. (I have the itty-bittiest, teeny-tiniest pain in my hip from Monday's tempo run, so it might be good to rest that up, too.)

The rest of my week seems to be filling up, so I'm going to have to be diligent about getting the rest of my workouts in. I'm not ready to burn a "bonus" rest day just yet.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Now it gets serious

Saturday: Run 3 miles, swim 2,400 yards

OK! That's two weeks down, and the end of the period ominously labeled "Orientation" on the training schedule. I feel like I should get a cookie or something, but NO COOKIES FOR YOU. YOU ARE TRAINING FOR AN IRONMAN, LADY.

Actually? I had a profound insight about "training for an Ironman" while running today. (Ready for it? It's pretty doggone profound, so read it with the proper respect, if not reverence.) Here it is:

The training is the Ironman. Finishing the race is of course a big accomplishment, but in a more basic way it simply demonstrates what you've already accomplished. It's just the last day of a 40-week process that, bit by bit, makes such a thing possible.

Told you.

Friday, October 1, 2010

September wrap-up

So at the beginning of the year I set myself some (perhaps overly ambitious) training goals. Here's how I'm doing as of yesterday, with the year 74.8% over:

Swimming: 77,300 yards (51.5%)
Biking: 1,492 miles (74.2%)
Running: 346 miles (57.7%)


Thursday: Bike 5 miles, Run 6.5 miles
Friday: Yoga, bike 11 miles

I got my friend's heart rate monitor in the mail, and it is so exciting to be able to execute fancy maneuvers like "Gradually bring your heart rate up to 75%" that I can't even believe it. It finally gives me some confidence in what I'm doing. And I think it's going to be a great way to see progress. I mean, running at 75% might be just 4.6 mph NOW, but maybe in a month it will be faster.

Today I had sort of a clumsy bike ride where I a) took a corner too fast and almost smacked into the curb; b) ran off the road onto some gravel and weeds (and very nearly the ditch); and c) flung my water bottle away and had to go back for it. This was all during the warm-up. So I was a little apprehensive when it was time to do one-legged drills again. But I tried to focus on not killing myself, and they actually went pretty well.

I read an article in some triathlon magazine I just got about the importance of recovery and that one rest day a week and one rest week a month wasn't really enough. It made me glad that I have already built 21 extra rest days into my schedule. If I start sounding overwrought on this blog, will someone please remind me to take one?