Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekly Recap: All Smiles

This wasn't my best week from a nutrition standpoint.  But sometimes the day just calls for bloodies and fried bar food with a girlfriend.  Throw in an overfilled Thanksgiving dinner plate(s) and a few pints of oatmeal chocolate stout.  I now feel like a puffy, over salted ham.  Let the obsessive water drinking commence.

Memorable training moments (there are lots this week!)
- Watching the sunrise three mornings in a row while running.  One in the first snowfall this winter.  I even got to bust out my "Will Run for Cupcakes" hat for the first time.
- My first spin class since being back at the gym.  It was nice to see a room full of familiar, smiling faces.
- The Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.  I have not laughed like that since college.  So good for the soul!

- Running through the Winter Wonderland of Lights at Portland International Raceway...while dressed up in a random Christmas costume.  Macey, Julie, and I all ran at my pace and we acted out the 12 days of Christmas on each lap.
 - Getting up the next morning to run in the Hot Buttered Run 5k.  In costume again.  Macey stuck with me (again) and helped me FINALLY break through the 30 minute barrier that has eluded me for 4 years.  I'm slow.  I know.  Get over it.  A PR is such a sweet ending to the week.  AND I got to see Bill.  You know, Bill, of hill climbing fame.

Swim: 1000 meters - don't laugh
Bike: 28.75 miles - equal to last week
Run: 14.78 miles - slowly ramping back up
Strength, etc.: 1.42 hours
Total = 6.43 hours

Weight loss: 0.8 pounds for the week, 2.6 total, 22.4 to go
Measurements:  Not yet.

It's time!!! I will be following Don Fink's 30-week competitive plan again for Ironman Coeur d'Alene. The best part, of course, is that it starts with a rest day.

On tap for Week 1:
Mon - rest
Tue - swim 1:00, run 0:30
Wed - bike 0:30, brick run 0:15 (+ strength)
Thu - swim 1:00, bike 0:30
Fri - run 0:30 (+ strength)
Sat - bike 1:00
Sun - run 0:45
Total - 6:00 (+ 2 strength workouts)

With a run-heavy race schedule in the first part of 2011, my Sunday run volume will slowly become higher than the plan. And since I will mostly be fitting in the swim workouts during lunch time...and my swimming muscles are just coming out of hibernation...I'm going to play around with how to make this work. Maybe 0:45 sessions on Tue and Thu, and then a longer Sat morning session. Also, I'm not a huge fan of the swim workouts in Fink's book, so recommendations for pool routines are welcomed!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ironman #3

Ironman Arizona sign-ups were this morning.  Oh yes, I did.

Dear Sarah,
Congratulations! You are now registered for 2011 Ford Ironman Arizona. Please check the event's official website for updates:
The race barely made it to online registration, and then sold out in 31 minutes.  It took me over 5 minutes of reloading the page over and over again before I was able to get through.  Based on informal polling of the interwebs, some people kept getting error messages and never got in.  Just another thing to be thankful for this week!

I'm racing Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June for the American Cancer Society.  Donations can be made here.  I will also be fundraising for Ironman Arizona, but for a different cause.  Last week a family member was diagnosed with ALS.  I thought of Jon Blais at the 2005 Ironman World Championships.  He completed the race that year.  In 2006 he came back, but this time as a spectator in a wheelchair.  In 2007 he was gone.  As soon as I get registered with Team Blazeman, I'll post details here.

"Live, more than your neighbors.  Unleash yourself upon the world and go places.  Go now.  Giggle.  No.  Laugh.  And bark at the moon like the wild dog that you are.  Understand that this is not a dress rehearsal.  This is it.  Your life.  Face your fears and live your dreams and take it all in.  Yes, every chance you get.  Come close.  And by all means, whatever you do, get it on film."  ~ Jon Blais

Weekly Update

A year ago last night, I became an Ironman.  A lot of people look at it as another race.  Just a day where you are exercising and moving your body for a really long time.  But it's a whole lot more than that.  I will be forever changed, not only because I crossed that finish line, but because of what it took to get there.  And I can't wait to do it all over again!

Memorable training moments from the past week
- An early morning track workout in icy sideways rain.  Not fun, but it meets the "memorable" criteria.
- The most brutal TRX session I've experienced so far.  There were tears, grunts, and cries of agony involved.  I'm sure it wasn't pretty.
- Getting in the pool again.  Only once, but it's a start.


I took 2 mental health days off from training this week.  An overbooked schedule and a string of bad news/bad days warranted some extra sleep and sloth-like activities.  Which means that my weekly volume is short by about 2 hours.  I don't even feel guilty about it, which means I truly needed the time off.

Swim: 1300 meters
Bike: 28.75 miles
Run: 4.71 miles
Strength, etc.: 1.75 hours
TOTAL = 5.12 hours

Body Numbers
Weight loss: 2 lb gain, thanks mostly to those 2 days of couch sitting, napping, and binge eating.  Ugh.  Hopefully it's mostly sodium related and will be back to normal in a day or two.  I'm down 1.2 pounds total.  23.2 to go!
Measurements: Nope, still haven't taken any...

Thursday, November 18, 2010


This week I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Ultramarathon Man, Dean Karnazes.  I picked up his book awhile back after I had a breakthrough with running and suddenly I couldn't get enough of it.  I wasn't all that interested in going faster, but I had the overwhelming desire to keep running more and further.  I had this huge curiosity for endurance and Ironmans and ultrarunning.  Curiosity.  That's really where most of this all started for me.  What has kept me going is a little harder to explain.

Anyway, back to Dean.  Once we got past the embarrassing first impressions where I made a complete ass of myself**, I got to listen to him speak about running.  First, to a smaller audience at the local running store during small conversations, and then to about 500 people at Montgomery Park.  This guy has done some incredible achievements in his lifetime (huge understatement), but he touched on some things that I was able to connect with even though I'll never come close to his accomplishments.  He said that he gets asked three main questions by people:
1) How do you do it?
2) Why?
3) What do you eat?

In my mind, numbers 1 and 3 seem easy enough to figure out...if you have number 2 figured out.  These are the reasons he does what he does -- because he can, to see if he can, because he's driven, to feel alive!, because he enjoys it, because he's curious.  He didn't mention to stay in shape, become famous, to get attention, for the glory, or to impress anyone.  He runs just because.

When I was training for Ironman last year, I commonly heard that you need to remember the reasons WHY you want to be an Ironman.  Because when it all sucks and you don't think you can do it anymore, those reasons will keep you going.  The problem for me was that I didn't really have any good reasons.  At least none that I could verbalize while making any sort of sense.  And sometimes, those reasons kept evolving.  I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly why I was changing everything about my life to do this, I just knew that deep down that I wanted it badly enough to keep going.

If I close my eyes and try to visualize my favorite place, somewhere I feel the most peaceful and excited and content and motivated, all at the same time.  It's not sleeping in on a cozy morning, or lounging on a quiet warm beach, or curled up with a book in the tub, or drinking a glass of wine while watching a summer sun go down.  I love all of those things, but I envision myself simply running.  Landing on crunchy fall leaves, breathing in cold air, listening to the pat pat pat pat of my feet falling into a perfect rhythm.  My subconscious will work through the accumulated worries until things become clearer.  And then my mind will go silent and I get a sort of peace that I can't get in any other part of my life.

Of course it's not always that serene and pleasant.  Sometimes I have to force myself out the door.  And sometimes I never even get out the door at all.  But each time I go for a run, I gain something from it.  Even if it sucks, I often learn about myself along the way.  And I have this awesome vault of memories of running along the river at sunrise or sunset, heading down old back roads and smelling the blackberries ripening, watching the leaves fall down and blanket the ground, and making first footprints in a snowstorm.  And those memories are enough to keep pushing through the low parts to get to more of the good parts.

So even though I still have a hard time answering the question of "why?", I think Dean was able to explain it as good as it can be explained.  To feel alive.  Because I can.  To find inner peace.  Because I'm curious.  Passion.

**Embarrassing moment 1: I was the first person to greet Dean when he walked into the store.  Exactly 2 seconds after stuffing my face with a dinner roll.  I smiled as he came up to me and shook my hand, while I was frantically trying to chew and swallow a mouth full of dry bread.  "I'm Dean!"  All I could do was nod my head and give him the signal to hold on a sec.  He waited until I was able to sort of talk and introduce myself with bits of food stuck to my teeth.  Nice.

**Embarrassing moment 2: Later on I asked him to sign my book.  Even though it was warped and mildewy and not very well taken care of.  Hey, I like to read when I'm in the tub, remember?  The problem was that I had purchased the book used and he had already signed it to the previous owner.  I was hoping that he would turn to a different page and not even notice.  No such luck.  Thankfully it resulted in a lot of laughter while I tried to explain my way out of it.  And then he signed it "Sarah, You're a nut!  I love it!"  Except that he mis-spelled my name, which made things even funnier.  In any case, I was honored to be called a nut by one of the nuttiest people on the planet.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekly Update

I'm digging having a schedule again.  It's so much easier to get out of bed in the morning knowing that the planned workout has a specific purpose in the grand plan.  I'm even welcoming the aches and soreness that comes with the building training load.  I've been aimlessly and half-assed  "training" all summer with no motivation, but I'm finally getting my mojo back.  Just in time.

Memorable training moments from the past week
- Swimming!!!
- Doing a bike/run/bike/run workout on Saturday to mix it up.  Surprisingly fun!
- Bagging a workout because I needed the extra rest.  I'm learning...

Swim: 1200 meters
Bike: 35 miles -
all trainer miles again
Run: 10.8 miles - pathetic, but same as last week.  At least I'm consistent.
Strength, etc.: 1.5 hours
TOTAL = 6.03 hours

The stuff I hate putting out in public
Weight loss: only 0.2 pounds down this week...3.8 pounds total...21.2 to go
Measurements: I keep forgetting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Didn't Drown

I got in the pool today!  It was the first time I have swam since the half ironman in July.  It was a "Win!" for several reasons.  1) I didn't drown AND I actually remembered how to swim somewhat competently.  2) I didn't inadvertently (or even purposely) flash the lifeguard a boobie.  And 3) Said lifeguard still came and chatted me up in the hot tub after the workout.  No matter that he was like 19 and just being nice.
So, yeah, it wasn't the most admirable swim workout ever.  And I only did 1000 meters.  But it's a start.

WU: 200 swim, 50 kick, 200 pull, 50 kick
DR: 8 x 50 (high elbow recovery, head tap, fist, hand entry)
100 swim, 100 pull, 50 swim, 50 pull

Oh, heyyyyy, that's 1200 meters!  Go me!

Monday, November 8, 2010

After a really long "off season", I'm finally ready to start logging workouts and weight loss again.  I have four weeks until Ironman training officially starts.  Less than 30 days to turn my habits around.  Start waking up at 4:30am (and actually getting out of bed too!), deciding to drive to the gym after work instead of home to the couch, donning my suit/cap/goggles at lunch hour instead of heading to pizza with friends (actually taking a lunch hour), and generally taking better care of myself.

Week 1 of IM training begins with 6 hours of swimming, biking, and running, plus a couple of TRX sessions.  Based on previous experience, I need to head into that week thinking "this is easy!"  Ten weeks later the first real build phase starts.  Also based on previous experience, I need to have a good chunk of my weight loss taken care of by then or it just isn't gonna happen.  15+ hour training weeks combined with dieting always ends up with a sobbing monster puddled up on the locker room floor.  (Girlfriends who have witnessed such instances - you are still sworn to silence.)

Memorable training moments from the past week
- Beating my annual run mileage from last year!
- Running with Jenn again, even though she made me do speed work.  :-)
- Doing a handstand in TRX.

Swim: 0 meters - but to be fair, I've had a horrible head cold and just rejoined the gym a few days ago
Bike: 27.5 miles - all trainer miles
Run: 10.82 miles - lowest running miles in awhile...I'm recovering from 3 big races in a row
Strength: 0.83 hours
TOTAL = 4.8 hours

The stuff I hate putting out in public
Weight loss: 3.6 pounds down...21.4 to go
Measurements: I forgot to take any...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday Morning Solitude

The End of a Season

This past weekend I wrapped up my last official race of the year - Autumn Leaves 10k put on by the ORRC at Champoeg Park.  I had originally signed up for the 50 miler, but after much internal (and external) debate, I opted for the shorter distance and a morning of volunteering.  After this event, the rest of 2010 is all fun (Hot Buttered Run!) and the beginnings of another round of Ironman training.  It's time to focus on a bit of recovery, nailing down a healthy nutrition plan, and gearing up for an already overbooked 2011.
Here's the race report from Autumn Leaves:

I arrived at 5:30am to a misty fog and pitch black darkness.  Headlamps dotted the horizon as the early-starters for the 50 miler were milling around nervously chatting, filling water bottles, organizing drop bags, and trying to keep warm.  I studied their actions, hoping to glean insider information into the ultramarathon world.
I spent the next 4 hours helping hand out packets and running miscellaneous errands.  The regular start for the 50mi/50k went off, and some of the early starters were finishing up their first laps.  Just as the sun started to peek out and the fog lifted, the 10k-ers began arriving.  There was a bit of warming up, a quick pre-race briefing, and then the race directer yelled "GO".

The first part of the course was on a smooth multi-use path and wound through the forest, along the Willamette River, and up over a (very slippery) wooden bridge.  Leaves covered the ground, but the trees were still brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow.  Everything smelled like fresh rain.  It was one of the most peaceful races I can remember.
The second part of the course was single-track trail.  Despite the now constant rain, it was only mildly muddy.  And surprisingly not crowded.  Like my last trail race, I found my earphones to be an annoyance and quickly stuffed them away.  I remember asking myself why it had been so long since my last trail run.  And being amused that I could feel so much pain and so much peace at the same time.

Moments before the start, I decided to turn the run into a max heart race test.  The plan was to use the first 3 miles as warmup, go hard for 2 miles, and then cool down for the last mile.  About 1.25 miles into the "hard" part, my vision blurred, my ears started buzzing, and there was nothing I could do to get enough oxygen RIGHT NOW.  So I started my cooldown a bit early...but that was far preferable than an embarrassing visit with the paramedics.
The 10k course proved to be a bit longer than 6.2 miles (admitted long by the race director, and logged as 6.72 miles by my Garmin).  Even so, it was a decent PR and a satisfying way to end the season.  Garmin data:
Distance - 6.72 miles
Time - 1:07:13 (pace = 9:59/mile)
Fastest single mile - 7:39