Monday, July 30, 2012

Tales from Training: Avoiding (Real) Injury

Universally I think one of an athlete’s worst nightmares is injury. It means time away from activity or the sport you love. A possible *gasp* loss of fitness.
What if I never get back to where I was?
And it is this fear that has me in a funk. I’m crabby and annoyed.

At Vineman my right calf started hurting about half way through the bike portion. In the final miles of the bike I talked myself off the if-my-calf-hurts-on-the-bike-it’s-going-to-hurt-so-much-more-on-the-run-what-will-I-do???? ledge. Luckily it bothered me very little on the run and wasn’t a factor (at all) in my performance. I counted my blessings in so many ways that day.

Gotta take care of these beauties. ;)
Unfortunately my calf hasn’t been quite right since. I can’t say that it hurts – more that I’m aware of it, and it kind of feels like I have one spot that I’m really sore but for no real reason. Especially 2 weeks after my race.
My brain is ready to get back to training, especially to tackle marathon training, but my body still needs recovery. I “want” to ignore the complaints from my leg and push ahead, but I have big plans that could get seriously side-lined if I wind-up truly injured.

What a wonderful tool and it hurts so good.
So I’m doing what I need to do to stay injury-free. Foam roll, stretch, ice (not as much anymore), Ibuprofen. And rest. I’m not back gung-ho to workouts yet. Swimming gives me no problem so I’ve got a green-light on that, but cycling and running are done one workout at a time. Cycling seems to aggravate it the most, so I took the chance to get in a 5 mile run Sunday which felt good and today I’m having no increased awareness or pain. Good sign! This week will just go one day at a time but I’m hopeful that I’m headed to full recovery.

Happy athlete rocking her Vineman 70.3 2012 gear for the first time!

The goal is to get back to 100% and avoid any additional/serious injury. I’m doing my best to give my body the time it needs for just that. 

Smile.  Sweat.  Enjoy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Best Laid Plans

My original intent was to get back from vacation and seriously clean up my food choices.  For vanity and for athletic performance I’d like to lose a few (ok, 10) pounds and it seems like now is the best time to do it.  I’ve getting ready to gear back up for an Olympic distance triathlon at the end of September and then my first marathon at the end of October. 

My plan was to go “whole foods” for 6-8 weeks initially.  Fruits, vegetables, good fats, legumes, whole grains, and some lean meats.  No pastas or breads, nothing from a box. 

And then we got back from vacation.  And I’m still eating junk. 

Then my friend Karena found Amanda over at Run to the Finish who is hosting a Clean Eating August Challenge.  Perfect timing and group support?!  Doesn’t get better!

But here’s the thing.  I’m still me.

I still have to check my attitude related to food.

It is not unfair that I can’t eat whatever and however much I want.  Eating whatever you want, whenever you want, as much as you want is not a right.  It’s not even something I should want.  I *know* food is fuel.  If I fuel with crappy food, I feel crappy.  When I fuel with good food, I feel good. 

But the office has a dispenser full of skittles, donuts every Friday, and a coke machine down the hall.   I share a home with someone who could really care less if what I make is healthy or nutritious, only that it’s tasty.  And always involves meat, it’s not a meal without meat.

So I struggle and I get frustrated.  And getting frustrated only makes it worse. 

Really I’m sounding more dramatic than it is.  I want it to be easy and I’m whining that it isn’t. 

So I'm going to start making better, smarter, healthier choices.  I know I can do it, its a matter of just not giving in to every want or desire at any given moment.

Looking forward to seeing where it goes.  :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tales from Training: Recovery

I'm a week beyond Vineman 70.3 and enjoying the important, but often overlooked, aspect of training... RECOVERY. 

Recovery isn't just about letting the body recovery, but also giving the brain a break from the relentless schedule of training.  I had been consistently training for Vineman 70.3 since January and the break has been really nice. 

Sleep in on a Saturday morning, go for a short run, and then enjoy breakfast with friends? 

Yes please! 

In all honesty I'm looking forward to going back to training and the schedule, but in the meantime I've been enjoying vacation and trying hard to keep moving without worrying about how many minutes, miles, heart rate, or anything other than just enjoying myself and getting the blood moving.

And I might be splurging along the way... a tiny bit. ;)

But mostly I'm enjoying taking walks and stopping to let the dog swim and chase a stick...

Or enjoy a beach view like this....

Couldn't ask for better weather on the Central California Coast
And maybe indulged a little bit more... ;)

Tomorrow is back to reality and home, work on Monday with a light training loaded into Training Peaks.  I'm looking forward to the structure again, but for the next 24 hours, I'm going to continue to enjoy vacation...

Aaaaahhhhhhhh.  ;)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vineman 70.3 2012

I’m never quite sure how to write race reports… if you don’t know, I covered 70.3 miles on Sunday, July 15, 2012 spread out over a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run at Vineman 70.3 2012.  I crossed the finish line with my head held high and my heart soaring.  Races aren’t about the start and the finish, they are about the choices a racer makes and how a racer reacts to whatever may happen in the miles in between.  I could write down a blow by blow, first I swam…. Then I biked… Then I ran….

But that wouldn’t give the full story, because this year at Vineman 70.3 I began to find myself as a racer.

I can no longer tell myself certain “truths” about myself anymore.

The Swim

I am not ok with being a “timid” swimmer.  The kicking, slapping, grabbing, and general chaos of a swim start scares me a little, but I am more annoyed with my tendency to slow and let a swimmer who is crowding me pass than I am scared of them swimming too close.  Every swimmer who passed me drove me to dig deeper and keep my pace going.  I found the inside of the turnaround even though it was more crowded because there was no reason for me to swim any further than any other athlete out there.  And the tip coach gave me to begin to visualize T1 not only helped keep my brain occupied but also lead to my shaving over a minute off my T1 time from last year. 

Oh, and I PR’d the swim by over 4 minutes too.

1.2 miles in 38:32 – 2:00/100m pace 

The Bike

I have always believed myself to be a fairly weak cyclist.  And boy did my ride on Sunday prove me wrong.  I opted to hike my bike up the hill that is just beyond the bike mount line but once I was on and settled in, I just kept pedaling away.  I tried hard to not kill myself on the climbs, let myself loose on the descents, and pushed as hard as my HR would allow on the flats.  I didn’t worry that every time I glanced at my watch I was going faster than I normally would, my HR was in a safe place and my body felt good.  Unlike on many of my training rides, I didn’t give myself the chance to worry about blowing myself up and not getting to the finish.  I was careful to follow my nutrition plan, taking in fluids regularly, finishing my 2 hour Perpetuem bottle and a ½ of a banana before the 2 hour mark and taking in gels every 20-25 minutes beyond that.  I was going to ride smart, but ride hard.  And I did just that.  I PR’d the bike by nearly 38 minutes, and whether it was a blessing or a curse, I started my watch late so I wasn’t sure just how “ahead” of my last year self I was.  I dismounted at T2 knowing I had given the bike every bit I could and still have hope of having 13.1 miles left in my legs.  

56 miles in 3:08:26 – 17.8 mph average

The Run

I came off the bike legs feeling good.  I mean, let’s be serious, I had just laid down the best bike ride of my life, but really my legs felt great and off I went.  About a ½ mile into the run I realized I really thought I might need to pee.  Luckily with aid stations about every hour, and porti-potties at every aid station, I didn’t have to wait long… Aaahhhh potty break.  I did in fact stay very well hydrated on the bike, my full bladder was evidence of that.  The miles ticked off, it was sunny, but breezy, so not too hot.  I walked some of the hills and aid stations.  Sometime in the last few miles sweat ran into one eye, and then the other.   I was walking, not wanting to stop, and trying to wipe the painful stinging sweat out of my eyes.  Mother.  Of.  God.  How does that hurt so bad?!  My favorite moment was as I was coming into the final few 100 yards.  As you turn into Windsor High school you snake around to the side of the school and as I was coming up on the final turn I had a wonderful moment…

RACER 2009… (wait, I think *I’m* 2009) DO NOT LET THAT MAN PASS YOU!!!!!!!

 A spectator was yelling at me… I was not to let someone coming up behind me pass… Peaking over my shoulder proved the spectator right, there was a guy behind me, and he was gaining on me.

Kick it into high gear, Missy.  My garmin would later prove to me just how much I kicked it into high gear, peaking out at a 7:05 pace in the final yards of Vineman 70.3.  The man did not pass me… 

And I was finished… I PR’d the run by 22 minutes.

13.1 miles in 2:13:46 – 10:13 average pace.

Overall: 6:08:40 with a 1 hr and 8 min PR from last year.

At the finish line I squatted down to sit on my heels and fought back a few tears, there wasn’t a moment of the day that I wasn’t proud of, I didn’t know my finish time, it didn’t matter, I raced a smart race, given it all I had and that was all that mattered.  And I got a new piece of hardware to prove it. ;)

I popped into the athlete food area and grabbed a coke and water, solid foods sounded terrible at that moment.  On my way out of the athlete area I ran into my coach and his wife a scored my second pick-up of the day, some Junk Miles gear.

“The athlete tracker isn’t working, how did you do?”

I still didn’t know.  I knew I had PR’d, I thought I had likely broke the 6:45 goal I had made in my race planning, but beyond that I had no idea.  

Then I started to collect my friends and family at the finish.. My friend Beki was the first to clue me in to my performance of the day…

“Girl, PR’d by over an hour!!!”

Wait, what?  

Troy got a text from a friend…

“Total time: six –oh-eight and change”

That can’t be right...  I’m so confused…

I had thrown down a race I didn’t even know I had in me.  It’s a hard performance to wrap my head around, even days later.  Later that evening I was already thinking about how best to become a stronger runner in the coming months… Does that mean I’m not completely happy with how well I did on Sunday?  Absolutely not…

This is how happy athletes smile. ;)
 I just want to be better yet. ;)

Final thoughts:
I will never, ever, forget 2 things ever again.  Body glide to battle chafing on the swim from my wetsuit... I've got two spots on the inside of my arms to make my point..  And Hoo Ha Ride Glide.  This seems self-explanatory. 

Catching/grabbing water bottles and bananas on the move, from the bike, is a skill I'm fairly confident in.  The best purchase I've ever made is my Speedfil 40oz bottle for my bike.  I barely missed a step through the aid stations on the bike and was able to refill the bottle no problems.

Flat, warm coke (it was actually RC Cola to be honest) is delicious when you've been on the move for hours.  And sits well in a stomach that is getting questionable about gels.  

The tunnel of misters near the 1/2 way point on the run was awesome.  I would have given good money to have another later in the course too.  

I'm sorry I'm not sorry to the guy who tried to pass me in the final yards, but thanks for the kick in the ass to get things done.  :) 

Friday, July 13, 2012


I will be enjoying these sunrises for the next week.  I love it here.

Tales from Training: The Kit Fox

I’ve been living in Oilville for about 7 months and I’m still adjusting to training here. There are a lot of differences: environment, active community, and wildlife to name a few.

In Sacramento I would encounter deer, bold squirrels, maybe even the territorial turkey or two on a run.

Here I’ve got these:

Aaaawwwww, the Kit Fox, aren’t they cute??

I thought so too.  But on my early (4am!!!) run a few days ago I had an encounter with one leaving me – WTH?

 It was a quick run, only 20 minutes on the schedule given that I’m tapering for Vineman 70.3 (2 DAYS!!) so I took the dog out and we ran down and around the local high school since most of the way there are street lights (hard to come by in this little town) and grass along the sidewalk for my trusty running partner to enjoy.  On the way back to the house I detoured to the track to tick off a few strides before calling it “Done” and all was going along just as it should.  Pick up the pace, recover, pick up the pace, recover, lather, rinse, repeat.  On my final lap around I heard this weird almost bark; almost howl coming from up the path I needed to go up to get home.  Grrreeeeeaaaat… some stray dog has decided to claim the high school as home and is pissed we’ve encroached.  No problem.  I called my dog (who was until that same moment just as ignorantly racing me around the track right along with me), and we headed up the path home with the bark/howl getting closer and more insistent.  In the dark there wasn’t much to see off the track, tracking my eyes up the path I could faintly see the outline of the little furry head with big giant ears tilting her (I’m guessing here) head back with every bark.

I’d seen one before in our front yard months before when I couldn’t sleep.  So cute, small.  No.  Big.  Deal.  I’ll bet as she sees us coming her direction and she’ll just run off and we’ll go home. 
Only problem was she was standing her ground.  “Go on, get!” Stomped my foot.  As the dog and I approached she seemed to reluctantly duck into the neighboring baseball field leaving both the dog and I worried she’d attempt a sneak attack from behind the whole way home.

My feel-good taper run ended with my 50lb pit-mix dog and I keeping one eye over our shoulders for the stubborn 3-6lb Kit Fox.

And I’m the badass half Ironman.  ;)

Wildlife: 1   Ashley: 0