Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wildflower Training Camp

Just got back from a weekend of Wildflower Training with the SVTC (Silicon Valley Tri Club) and SFTC (San Francisco Tri Club). We camped in the middle between the 2 groups so got he best of both clubs and met many new people - have to as I'll be in SF in a few weeks and need some training partners to keep me motivated.

The overall weekend was definitely worth the 7+ hours of driving each way!
Here are some of the tips I took away for various parts.

I'm not really a camper, so this week I used the REI voucher to get lots of camping gear from a tent to sleeping bag to eating utensils....Good to road test them out this weekend.

  • Temperature: Weather was FREEZING (32 degrees) on Friday night. Need MUCH warmer sleeping and walking clothes. Sleeping bags are being traded up!
  • Tent site: No formal camp-site for your tent, you find a spot and pitch the tent....there is not really any FLAT spaces. We chose a slight hill and rolled all night in the tent. Find a flat space!
  • Sleeping comfort: Took an aero bed for some comfort but a standard pillow which caused major stiff neck. Try and swim with neck rotation when you can't move your neck...not good. TIP: Take the foam memory nasa pillow I bought for 3 weeks. Might need a bigger or double deep air mattress.
  • Food: Planned out easy meals that were just adding water mainly or light cooking and No refrigeration. Most worked well so will be repeating this...oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs in a can, cheese toastie...
  • Location: Camped at Harris site this weekend and the actual race is a 30 minute travel (walk/bike with gear on race day) from the race start. Coach Julie has secured spaces in the Lynch camp site right next the start...so many thanks to Julie! Otherwise, plan accordingly...especially with a large hill to navigate with all your stuff.

Saturday morning was the group bike ride. We were warned that the police were actively out on the roads ensuring people were biking single file only. They were issuing tickets of $150 if they spotted you not in single file. I'm sure this is not the case for race day....but did mean that the group ride wasn't really a group thing.

  • Music: Practiced thinking of a few songs to use and sing to myself to get me through the bike. I had Love Shack, Black Eyed Peas Boom-Boom-Boom, and Rocky's Final Countdown for the Final 10 miles. Worked well, but I'll write a few down in the bento box.
  • Bento Box: I've been using the bento box for tire supplies lately (had a ride last week with 2 flats in 1 hour - great practice and spooks me out now). But I noticed that FOOD is an issue then as not easily accessible. So need to get a repair bag for the back of bike and put food only in bento. Also - pre-cut and open the food.
  • Food: I am always hungry on the bike and I've been using the IronMan Endurance drinks, Honey Stingers, and Cola chews. But my body craved (1) a sweeter more concentrated IronMan mix for Bottle #1 (2) Real food as in a Kind Bar or PB&J sandwich by Mile 30. Need to work out how to fit that into the bento box?!
  • Best Locations to Do Stuff: I was scouting the route for where is a good place to focus on various activities like fueling, resting, etc..... My notes had Mile 10-15 as good eating, then Mile 28 for a 1 minute rest and recover as a half way point refresher on the top of the hill. Then Miles 30-32 again to eat, and another energy shot or boost at Mile 38-39 to prepare for the climbing. Rest and drink at the top of Nasty grade at Mile 43 before the rest of the climb. Mile 50 needed another boost of fuel (at this point body needed REAL food) to carry me through and start preparing for run.
  • Nasty Grade: So when I drove into the campsite I crossed the dam and had to drive up a very steep windy road. I thought "this must be Nasty Grade". So when we were biking we were going up this hard slog of a hill and I kept thinking "man, if this is hard....how am I going to make it up that Nasty Grade windy hill?!". Then next thing I know I'm at a corner station with people cheering that they made it....I'd gotten up the hill and not even known it! It was definitely a killer hill....but completely do-able. I practice a routine now for long hills...pull ups on 1 leg for 8 count, then the other leg for 8 count, then the calf push for 10 counts, then stand up and ride for 4-6 counts. Repeat and vary as leg areas get tired. This keeps me focused on counting and looking down rather than anything else my mind wants to think about and I eventually get up a hill.
  • Time: The overall time for the bike was 4:10 hours. The average speed was in 14-15 mph range which seems realistic. I don't think this included the stoppage time (my watch re-set so numbers are off) of which there were 3 - 1 to change clothes and fuel at mile 28, 1 for water after nasty grade at Mile 43, and 1 at the Bee Store for more Gatorade at Mile 50. Would be nice to get in under 4 hours, but we'll see...

Due to the knee, I just didn't want to push the running by testing the whole course. Did a 3 mile t-run after the bike to get the start and feel the jelly legs after a good hard bike ride....
Run plan is going to be a walk-run-walk. Aim is 3 hours....and I'll be very happy with that for this time!
Wish it could be different...but am in this for the long term and learning how to deal with what your body tells you is just part of the deal.

The club did a practice swim clinic on Sunday morning and it was near the Harris creek campground. So it was not the true course, but good enough to understand the water temperature, current, etc...
Some of the tips I got from Dave (awesome coach clinic!) and things I noted from prior experience....

  • Lake vs Sea Water: Wow - it was nice to not have a salty taste in my mouth swimming. I did not get as dehydrated as in the SuperSeal swim in the ocean bay. It was not very clear water in the lake, but was good enough to see your hands which helps with a bit of 
  • Temperature: It was chilly in the water, but after the Friday night / Saturday morning freezing conditions of 32 degrees....the weather was fine. So expect it to be brisk and warm up the ole cockles with a run or something....
  • Sighting: The lake has many landmarks which made sighting a little bit easier. Just a little as I seem to have a good angle on my swim that I will need to address one day....Do not Follow me in the water!
  • Wetsuit class: A sales rep from another wetsuit brand did a bit at the start about wetsuit fit. It was pretty interesting but I walked away unsure if my suit was ok or not and then kept questioning it the whole swim....trying to tug a bit here and there when we stopped in the swim. Made it worse for me overall....letting me think is not a good thing! I should have counted or done some math to distract myself.
  • Vaseline: I added vaseline to the neckline of the suit in SuperSeal but not in this swim and felt the difference in the neckline. ADD VASELINE to race checklist. 
  • Stiff neck: Camping means you don't sleep well, so a stiff neck meant I could only rotate my neck 1 way rather than both for breathing. And not even a full neck rotation on one side. uuurrrghhh....but this could be the same thing on race day, so gonna have to deal.
  • Swim until your hands touch the water: Dave the coach said do not try and stand up until your hands touch the water floor. Tried it and odd, but effective, so will use that one again.
  • Wetsuit Removal: hmmm...it was much harder to get the wetsuit off than in SuperSeal. Is lake water different to sea water? 
  • Time: Today was not a timed swim, but based on the Superseal swim which was a 1500 meter swim and this is 1930 meter (.2 mile), I'm estimating this is a 55 minute swim for me.

Overall - very happy I went and saw and tested out the course. I feel much more confident and absolutely like this is achievable. I will not be at the front of the pack and might be playing against the cut-off time....but that is part of the adventure and learning experience.
Looking forward to the real event in 3 weeks!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Swimming 3,000 meters!

This week I did the longest swim workout I've ever done at 3,050 meters.

And I felt such a high after I did the workout! Another milestone on the books towards the Arizona Ironman in November. Woo hoo!!

It was a Wednesday afternoon and crazy busy whilst in the middle of training, changing jobs, relocating, and planning a vacation.

So I was late to get to the swim and meant I was on my own vs the usual dynamic duo. I looked at my Endurance training book that had examples of various workouts and glanced at the swim. I was aiming to get an Endurance swim in, so looked at the Endurance Form swim.

The first workout had this cryptic code written, which I am only starting to learn with my secret decoder ring (aka Coach Julie!)

W/U    200 swim, 200 kick, 200 pull
            6x75 (25 R, 25 L, 25 DPS)

Main    200 (00:15 RI)
            300 (00:15 RI)
            400 (00:20 RI)
            400 (00:20 RI)
            300 (00:15 RI)

C/D     200

I wrote these details down on a yellow post-it note so that I can attach it to the end of the pool. I don't have a good memory for these types of workouts and I spend all my time counting the laps to make up 200 meters or focusing on the swim stroke (arm enter in water, pull arm, breathe now....)

I started swimming and after the Warm up (W/U) I was tired! How was I going to do the rest of the workout!? It had also started raining, but as I was wet, it didn't really matter being in an outdoor pool. I told myself that I would do the first 2 parts of the Main section and then see how I felt...I could skip the next 2 parts to be more at the distance I'm used to (1600 meters).

At the point I had to do a 400 meter brick, I said to myself "Lucy, you've never done a 400 meter before, and you just did 300 meter and it was not as bad as you thought. It's only another 4 laps in the pool on top of that". So I did the 400 and sure enough, it didn't feel bad.

I like to calculate math when I train and race....it somehow keeps my mind focused on things outside of where I'd naturally go which is negative thinking about my capability and attitude. So my math focuses on constant solving of equations of "% complete" and I work it out over and over again. After the 400 meter section I was 50% complete in the main section....if I made it to 50% then the hard work is done. And I congratulate myself for making it to the 50% point....going into the session I didn't think I could do it and I questioned myself in the swim....but now I am 50% complete and DEFINITELY able to finish the whole swim.

So I carried on and sure enough after 2:20 hours I had done 3,050 meters! Woo hoo!
The time was a good reminder for me that the IronMan Arizona swim cutoff in 2:20 hours and I will have had to have swam 3,862 meters (2.4 miles). So I had 79% of the distance complete at this point in the cutoff time.

I don't consider myself a fast swimmer, but it's a good reminder of why I am training and to consider the timing. I have over 6 months left...so plenty of time to get into speed with endurance workouts in!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Iron Mountain Hill Training

Jeff took us on an awesome training session today! It was all about hills....and more hills....and then some more to finish off with.

A good group on the bike ride with 5 of us out today - Barrie, Lucy, Jeff, Nigel, and Scott (Scott took the photo)

Food (Breakfast): I have to eat before a workout but need something that works with the stomach. I've been drinking chocolate protein shakes for breakfast every day with milk that seem to be filled with protein and plain for the stomach. I chased it up with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the drive to the meeting point.

We started the morning at 7:45am with a bike ride. Jeff had us expecting a 40 miler but it ended up being 30 miles....but worth every mile with the hill workouts. Here are the stats for Nigel and I so we can compare.

We are pretty similar in our pacing, but behind the other guys. They are very good cyclists and leave us in awe of their mad skills.
Nigel has a crazy heart rate...but guess we each have a different rate and his is always 20 beats higher.

I do wonder why the GPS had a 300 foot difference between us? Same course, different watches...

Food: Been using the IronMan perform Restore drink mixed in with some Crystal light for flavor and seems to be working well. Had 2 bottles of that, and some Gu shot gels on the bike at mile 20 when we took a rest before the large uphill section. Worked well.

After the bike we like to practice a good transition run. And as we get closer to the Wildflower race, it's more important to simulate the race conditions. So a lovely hill run it was! Here's a photo so you can see we start on the trail and run switchbacks up the rocky trails to the top of the peak. It's a 3 mile hike each way....so not terrible....but it doesn't feel that way when you are looking up it!

Clothes: I tried a new tactic and changed my shorts over from the bike shorts to some non-padded shorts to run in. This will take extra time in the transition, but I need the padding for the long bike ride and do not want to run in them. I wore a 1-piece in the Olympic Superseal tri last weekend but it has no padding and I started to feel uncomfortable int he last mile. So padding needed for Wildflower.
I didn't change the shirt, simple layer of just the bike shirt worked well today, but likely plan to change on a longer race.

Back to Run
I was unsure how to approach this with the IT band / knee issues. Didn't want to create an injury, but also need to get some hill running in. And have to learn how to push through it, as just seems like it's going to be there all year. I just have to adjust my pace expectations down to a fast walking pace now.

So here are the stats for Nigel and I. Nigel pulled in first, beating his last minute goal of being under 1:30 hours. I was over that time by a full 6 minutes (same time difference in the tri last weekend) and knee was harsh for the last mile. uuuurrrggghh!

Food: I didn't bring a run belt or backpack so kept the carry on light. I took 1 bottle of water and drank a good bottle before the start of run. I also kept n the bike top to use the back pouches for a Stinger honey energy gel and Pomegranate chews (shared both with Nigel). Ate the chews for the final burst to the top and the stinger gel at the top as a breather with the water before heading down. Felt tired on the last 1 mile, but otherwise energy level good.

Took a little photo at the top to prove we made it!