Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weekly Update

After almost a full month of working with Coach Liz, I just recently missed a few scheduled workouts.  Spring allergies served me up with an awesome sinus infection/bronchitis combo, forcing me to take some downtime.  The difference between now and before?  I actually wanted to train, but I physically couldn't.  So overall, I'm still counting the week as a "win".  Attitude is the hardest thing to fix, so now that I'm motivated and encouraged and have my head back in the game, the rest will come a bit easier.  Note that I didn't say "easy", just "easier".  Lots of hard work ahead!  I'm entering a recovery week and then the Ironman-specific build phase begins.  13 weeks until show time!

Last Week's Training Totals:
Swim - 2800 meters (missed a long swim session)
Bike - 94.7 miles
Run - 2.19 miles (missed essentially all the run workouts)
Total - 7.79 hours (vs. a planned 12 hours)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sarah's Army

My army = tissues with aloe, tissues with Vicks, allergy meds, cold meds, neti pot and sea salt gargles, green tea (out of an IM mug of course!), comfy jammies, and really bad daytime television.  Obviously, this training week isn't going quite as planned.  So far I've missed a 1 hour run of hill repeats and a 3500 meter swim.  I'm skeptical of the 3.5 hour trainer ride scheduled for tomorrow, but confident that I'll give it my best shot.  The truly terrible thing isn't so much that I'm sick, but that my appetite is still very much alive.  And laying in bed for 18 hours a day just doesn't cut it in the calorie-burning department.  Sigh...we'll see what the morning brings.  Stay healthy, y'all!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting the Hang of It

Another week is in the books!  My body is finally coming out of hibernation and eager to get with the program.  Instead of feeling completely wiped out, I'm excited to do the next workout.  And sometimes I want to go further or faster than is on the schedule.  Okay, okay, I'm totally wiped out too.  But I'm adapting to the training load and enjoying the work.  Yeah!

And now...it's time to focus on nutrition.  Ironman Coeur d'Alene is not a flat course, and hauling an extra 30 pounds up the hills is not a good use of my energy reserves.  I've struggled with weight my entire adult life.  Even when I make good food choices, I have a very difficult time shedding pounds.  My metabolism has been on vacation since I turned 17.  So I just have to work harder.  It's not fair, but it's what I've got.  Which means that I really have to make those good choices.  And here's the thing: I'm an intelligent person.  I know what "good choices" looks like.  I'm plenty educated in calories, glycemic index, and carb/protein/fat ratios.  But I still make bad decisions more often than I make good ones.  I don't know what the solution to this is, but I'm working on it.  Thankfully I have some good resources to help me figure it out.

Back to this past week.  Recall that I recently completed test week, where we determined my swim pace, my LTHR on the bike, and LTHR on the run.  We discovered that my HR doesn't recover as nicely as it should while I'm running.  So I've been relegated to purely zone 1-2 work for the next few weeks.  I understand the philosophy behind this and am trying to be patient.  It's tough to be even slower then normal right now, but I know that I'll come out the other side healthier and faster.  In the meantime, the miles just won't rack up as fast.  Eye on the bigger prize, right?

The highlight of this week was a 3 hour ride OUTSIDE on Saturday.  The weather was weird and I couldn't decide between shorts/leg warmers or tights.   So I compromised and went with capris and long socks (compression socks, actually).  The end result?
I know, I'm quite aware of the awesomeness of this getup.  It also garnered quite a few hollers from the yocals.  Hey, at least I was visible.

Do you want to know the best mid-ride espresso stop in Vancouver?  River Maiden Coffee House.  Mmmm...Stumptown coffee.  Go there.
And no week would be complete without some Sunday Morning Solitude.

Weekly Stats:
Swim - 5700 meters (I messed up a workout and forgot to do 250 meters)
Bike - 72.68 miles
Run - 16.75 miles
Total - 10.68 hours

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Can you say "Anaerobic"?

This past week was a recovery week.  Or at least a twisted version of one.  It was also a test week, which meant that I spent 3 of the 6 training days getting acquainted with my lactate threshold.  Low volume but high intensity.  Now it's time to spend Sunday afternoon rocking the compression socks and some Jersey Shore on Netflix.  Don't judge.
Swim Test
The first up was the swim test on Tuesday.  I hate very strongly dislike swimming hard.  It's, well, hard.  I always end up with water up my sinuses, my lungs burning, and my heartbeat pounding out of my ears.  I also knew deep down that if I didn't have someone in the pool with me, there was a strong possibility that I wouldn't finish the test.  My good friend Jeff came out to swim with me.  And since he's quite a bit faster, he was able to do the workout with me, work the lap buttons on the Garmin, and play cheerleader.  I got the test done, although I was slower than I had hoped.  But that just means I have ample room for improvement.  I'm almost (almost!) looking forward to the next test to see how much time I knock off the pace.

Bike Test
Thursday night was the bike test.  Since it was dark and raining I had to do this one on the trainer.  Knowing that the television annoys me once I hit zone 4, I cranked up my headphones and did my best to focus and just absorb the pain.  Funny thing, I LOVE hurting on the bike.  Time trials are my happy place.  Except for when it involves hills.  Then I'll take sprints in the pool any day.  I passed this test too (thanks Eminem and Kanye!) and now I have a fresh set of heart rate zones to train with.

Run Test
Test week culminated with the run test on Sunday morning.  My boss was awesome and joined me at the track to help get me through it.  I really do have a great support system!  I didn't pass out.  I didn't puke.  I didn't poop my pants (wouldn't that be embarrassing in front of the boss).  Success!

Weekly Stats:
Swim - 4800 meters 
Bike - 35 miles
Run - 11.86 miles
Total - 6.55 hours

Monday, March 7, 2011

Caution: Cyclists on the Road


It's that time of year again (at least in the Pacific Northwest) where the icy mornings begin to give way to sunny afternoons, there is a little more daylight after work, and cyclists put the trainers away and start hitting the road.  HOORAY!!!  Unfortunately, that sentiment isn't necessarily shared by all vehicle drivers.  Especially after a long winter of not seeing us on the road.  Those stupid cyclists in their stupid spandex!  Why don't they ride on the dang sidewalk?  They have no right to be in my lane!  If they are riding on the road, they need to pay more taxes, daggonit!  Oh, the rantings of fat lazy Americans everywhere.

I generally try to keep my blog a happy place.  Free from negativity and politics and debate.  But it is my blog after all, and I feel compelled to share some information that may enlighten the unenlightened.  Yes, I know that calling them "fat lazy Americans" is quite immature and probably won't help my case.  But it made me feel better.  And since I'm an American, am clinically overweight, and tend towards laziness when given the chance, I'm allowed.  I get the feeling that I'm preachin' to the choir here anyway.  So feel free to use these tips next time you find yourself in a debate on the topic.

Let's start with a few factoids:
1) I agree that to the majority of the world, our spandex does indeed look stupid.  But I guarantee that after a 4 hour ride in cotton shorts (or even a 1 hour ride), you will be a convert to the miracle fabric.
2) It is illegal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk in most cities/states.  And just plain dangerous.  There is no way I could navigate through pedestrians, signs, curbs, and tree roots while hauling at 20+ mph.  So unless a cyclist is riding similarly to a pedestrian walking, they are required to get off the sidewalk and stay on the road.
3) Even if you are in a city where it is legal to ride on the sidewalk, it is also very much legal to ride on the road.  Love us or hate us, we are allowed to be there just as much as the cars are.

And now let me address the taxes bit.  The question "Should bicyclists pay extra taxes?" surfaces in the media on occasion.  Some of my own friends and family members (gasp!) even insist on it.  It inevitably comes up in any debate about cyclists riding on the road.  I think we can all agree that roads are paid for primarily by taxes and tolls.  I think we can also agree that taxes come from federal income tax, state income tax, sales tax, and property tax.  (As well as some taxes that don't apply to the normal US resident.)  Some thoughts:
  • The US median household income is around $50,000/year (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009).  Recent polls show that the average household income for triathletes is $126,000/year (USA Triathlon, 2010).  The median income (not household income, mind you) for competitive cyclists is $75,000/year (Active Marketing Group, 2007).  So triathletes/cyclists have about double the taxable income of the rest of the nation.
  • The majority of these cyclists are vehicle owners.  I think it's safe to say that many of these vehicles are nicer than those of the general population.  My peer group and the parking lots at race sites are certainly strong examples.  Those vehicle owners have paid sales taxes on those awfully nice and expensive vehicles, they have paid license and registration fees, and continue to pay fuel taxes to operate them.
  • The majority of cyclists either own a home and directly pay property taxes on those homes, or they are home renters and indirectly pay those property taxes on a monthly basis.  It's likely that homes owned/rented by cyclists, based on the median household incomes, are much nicer than residences of the general population.  Thus, cyclists are paying more in property taxes than non-cyclists.
  • So not only are cyclists contributing their fair share to the public road systems, they are contributing more than the average American.  Even so, paying taxes is not a prerequisite for using the roads.  Children, the unemployed, and foreign visitors all legally use our roads without so much as a single cent paid into the tax system.
  • When I'm not riding on the road, you will often find me running on the road.  And sometimes I hold up traffic to cross the street or on a narrow passage where cars can't safely pass me.  How about a foot tax, eh?
Based on the above information, I conclude that the cyclist-hatin' population is either ignorant, or jealous, or both.  There I go again being immature.  Don't be like me.  Some more thoughts:
  • People who exercise are healthier and therefore are less demanding on the health care system.  Obesity-related medical costs are estimated at $147 billion.  Per YEAR!  Smoking-related medical costs are also staggering - $97 to $137 billion per year, depending on the source.  Health costs for alcoholic related issues are over $20 billion per year.  Care to guess how much bicycle-related injuries cost?  $5 billion per year.  (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009.)
  • Cycling emits about 100% less emissions than vehicles do.  Whether you are a super-green activist concerned about greenhouse gases, or a devout conspiracy theorist who thinks global warming was invented for financial gain by the government, you can't argue that bikes still produce less emissions than motorized vehicles.
  • Semis, cars, and trucks all cause damage to the roads.  Earthquakes cause damage to the roads.  Floods cause damage to the roads.  Construction causes damage to the roads.  Bikes do not.
But we do need to do our part.  So y'all, just a reminder to wear your helmets, stay as far to the right as you safely can, stop at the stop signs (okay okay, most of them), definitely stop at the stop lights, signal signal signal, and generally be respectful to those around you.  And if you still get honked/yelled at or buzzed or things thrown at you, here is some advice that I've found quite effective.  Blow a big ol' sloppy kiss at the jerk wad and wave like they're your long lost cousin.  They LOVE that.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I just wrapped up Week 2 with my new coach, Elizabeth from Multisport Mastery.  I turned in a little over 10 hours of solid swim/bike/run.  Money in da bank!  Figuratively speaking, of course.  In real life, money is flying out the windows...for food, and electricity for the water heater.  I had forgot how Ironman training life develops into the following formula:

Weekday -
Sleep, Eat, Train, Shower, Eat, Work, Eat, Train, Shower, Work, Eat, Train, Bubble Bath, Eat, Sleep

Weekend -
Sleep, Eat, Train, Shower, Eat, Nap, Eat, Laundry, Nap, Eat, Train, Bubble Bath, Eat, Sleep

Those formulas are probably why I have so much difficulty slimming down during training.  For right now, I'm going to focus on getting into a routine and let my body get used to the work load.  Weight loss will come later.  And although I'm no doubt consuming much more than I need to be, I'm trying to make sure that what I eat is helpful for either recovery or to fuel the next workout.  Well, except for the french fries I'm mowing down while writing this.  One thing at a time here.

Some highlights from the week:

1) On the menu for Tuesday's lunch was a 3250 meter swim laced with some lovely short sprints intervals.  Keep in mind that I've been in the pool about a dozen times.  Since 2009.  Which means that swimming over 500 meters is sort of challenging.  My very first assigned workout last week was a 3000 meter swim.  This was after I mentioned that I haven't been swimming and I don't like the pool.  Gotta love that.  I like how she rolls.  For you non-triathlete readers, the Ironman distance swim is 2.4 miles, or 3860 meters.  In 2009 I think I went over 3000 in training only twice (see above note about my anti-love of the pool).  I do believe I'll be in good shape for the swim this go-round.  Thanks coach!

2) I met up with Julie for an early morning run on Friday.  Due to work and other obligations, I finished up my Thursday workouts at around 10pm.  My legs were not amused when I woke them up at 5am for more fun.  When we hit the turn-around point, I devised a super secret plan to get Julie to leave me so that I could quit running as soon as she was out of sight.  However, she knows me quite well and was devising her own super secret plan to counter my super secret plan.  She cracked the whip and made sure there was no walking until I was safely in the driveway.  That's friendship right there.

3) Riding outside.  So rad!

Weekly Training Totals:
Swim - 5550 meters
Bike - 74.80 miles
Run - 16.13 miles
Total - 10.33 hours

Next up: Test week.  Oh YAY!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Beyond the Red Barn

On Monday afternoons, for as long as I've been doing triathlon, a group of cyclists meet in Vancouver, WA for something called "Beaches".  It's a ride that starts in the parking lot of Beaches Restaurant (great happy hour and awesome bartenders Michaels and Terry), and heads out towards Vancouver Lake along the deserted flat country roads.  It's a fast and furious ride in a paceline, sometimes hitting 30+ mph.  I never could hang on for the entire ride, but I often made it to at least the turnaround at the red barn.
Yes, I know it's not red.  But the rusted roof is red-ish.  And that's just what it's called.  The Red Barn.

I don't join the Beaches crew anymore, but I do still ride the route when I want a set number of miles and don't want to think about directions or traffic or anything other than getting in the aerobars and zoning out.  And when I ride Beaches by myself, I still turn around at the red barn.  I had no idea until today what was beyond the barn, so I kept on riding, thinking I was on some big adventure.  About a minute later the road dead ended at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge.  In a gravel parking lot filled with illegally dumped trash, big trucks with 15" lifts, and a weird mix of 80 year old couples, skateboarding teenagers, and camo-covered old dudes.  I'll be turning around at the red barn from now on.

I woke up this morning mentally prepared for a 2.5 hour ride on the trainer.  It was rainy and windy and stormy outside.  Not good bike riding weather.  I had resigned to watching reality tv reruns on Netflix and developing saddle sores from sitting in the same position for that long.  But I had to go into work and postpone training until later in the day.  This turned out to be a wonderful blessing (as working on a Saturday morning rarely does).  By the time I got home, the wind had died down and the sun was beginning to peak out from the dark clouds.  And it just smelled different outside.  Like spring was peering around the corner and secretly trying to warm things up.  For the first time since last fall, I ventured outside without a beanie or heavy jacket.  Or even pants.  Look, SHORTS!
And SUN! (Yes, I know I need to remove the race sticker residue from the helmet.  But I've been bu-sy and haven't had much time for making myself look even cooler.)
To end this fairly long story about a fairly short ride, I'll just say that it was MAH-velous to feel the road under my wheels and get some real mileage in.  I wrapped it up with some short climbing in northern Vancouver and then a nice cool down in my neighborhood.  Almost 40 miles at just under a 15mph pace.  I'm a lot slower than I should be at this point in the training, but I'll get there.  Especially if we keep having Saturdays like this.  Hooray!

P.S.  This is for Macey.  MOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo!!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A New Start

I finally did what I don't do very often.  I admitted that I'm not capable of doing something myself.  And I'm so happy that I did.  There was no way that I was going to get to the starting line, let alone the finish line, of IMCdA on the path that I was on.  Thankfully, Elizabeth from Multisport Mastery agreed to take me on.  Blogger world, meet coach.  From now through June (and possibly November), she is the madness behind my method.

Week 1 started off with a bang, but not one loud enough to completely scare me away.  For the first time (ever!) I nailed all of my scheduled workouts.  And it felt like every single minute had a purpose.  No junk miles.  No lillydallying on the trainer while texting friends, or stopping at the wall every 50m to chat with someone in the lane next to me.  So I'm kicking up my compression sock covered feet and basking in the awesomeness of a solid week.  For like 5 minutes.  Because week 2 is getting underway.

Swim: 5500 meters
Bike: 56.25 miles (trainer miles, estimated at 15mph)
Run: 14.55 miles
Total: 8.63 hours