11 Weeks til IRONMAN Wisconsin

Last week was 11 weeks until race day.  This is the first week in the green since the week of April 21, 2014.  I am so grateful to be back to completing all of my scheduled weekly workouts and back to running…even if it is on the track with the white line between my feet.  😉  Here is a quick review of my week:

Monday:

Am:  2600 meter Swim in 1 hour (2843 yards)…short ladder workout

A little Monday morning motivation with my Ironman Wisconsin swim cap from 2011.
A little Monday morning motivation with my Ironman Wisconsin swim cap from 2011.

PM: 2:10:00 Brick workout… 2 hour ride (37 miles) followed by an easy 10 minute run (1.1 miles) off the bike

Tuesday:

AM:  10 mile bike commute (round trip) to the Iowa State University Track for a 50 minute run (5.86 miles at an 8:32 average pace) around the track while line running

I rode Molly the Raleigh to the track for my morning run.
I rode Molly the Raleigh to the track for my morning run.
5.86 miles of line running around the track.
5.86 miles of line running around the track.

AM: 1 hour strength workout

Wednesday:

AM:  2600 meter swim in 1 hour (2843 yards)…base drill workout

I love the 50 meter outdoor lap pool in the mornings!!
I love the 50 meter outdoor lap pool in the mornings!!

PM:  3:00:00 bike ride (52 miles) with 2×20 minutes really pushing the power (but the battery in my power tap died part way through the first set, so I was going on feel instead of actual power numbers).

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Riding with the Iron Hippie and Allen on the trail for part of our ride.
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What a beautiful day for a ride!!

Thursday:

AM:  2000 meter swim in 1 hour (2187 yards)…Fast 50s and 100s

A beautiful double rainbow over the pool as we arrived to swim.
A beautiful double rainbow over the pool as we arrived to swim.

Easy 20 minute run around the track with the line between my feet (2.2 miles)

45 minutes of strength training

Acupuncture on my left leg to try to release the muscle tension before the weekend’s workouts…

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PM:  Tragedy struck…

One of my 13 year old students from this last year was killed while cycling.  To make it even worse, his twin sister was with him when the he was killed…

http://whotv.com/2014/06/28/teen-cyclist-killed-in-story-county-worked-hard-at-whatever-he-did/

Friday:

REST DAY…Definitely needed this more emotionally than physically.

Saturday:

7 hour Ironman Practice Day:

  • 2500 meter swim in 1 hour (2734 yards) with a 1500 meter time trial in 32:49.  This wasn’t a very good swim for me.  If there were ever a day when I might drown while swimming, it was Saturday morning, but I pushed through and survived.
  • 5 hour bike ride (78 miles) with an average speed of 15.9 mph and relentless winds.  We had headwinds or cross winds for all but about 20 miles.  At one point I was yelling profanities at the unforgiving winds.  IMG_3876
  • 1 hour run was to follow the bike, but we were only able to complete 45 minutes of running before the thunder, lightening and downpours started.  I don’t mind running in the rain, but I won’t risk getting struck by lightening.  There was a little rest between the bike and run since I had to drive to the track for line running.  I managed to cover 4.75 miles in 45 minutes around the track (9:28 average pace).  I was shooting for 10 minute miles, but I struggle with running slowly off the bike.
  • Overall: 84.3 miles covered in 6:40:00…I felt really good and could have kept running, which made me happy.  While my running isn’t where I would like it to be…yet, I felt really good about where I am at after this workout.

Sunday:

1 hour of line running around the track…this was the first time I have ran over 1 hour since May 4.  I was super excited…even if it meant running circles around the track…

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25 minutes of core work followed this track run.

Weekly Totals:  20 hours & 23 minutes

Swimming:  10, 608 yards

Cycling:  172 miles

Running:  21 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours & 10 minutes

I really need to get back to incorporating yoga into my weekly workout routine, but with 20 hours of training, I’m not sure where to fit it in.

On average, how many hours a week do you workout?  Can you imagine fitting 20 hours of exercise into your weekly schedule?

Jumping Through Hoops…Running Update

Funny how jumping on the trampoline triggered this injury and now I’m jumping through hoops to overcome this setback and get back to pounding the pavement.

Acting like a 6 year old is sometimes more costly than one might think...
Acting like a 6 year old is sometimes more costly than one might think…

My running has not been where I want it to be at this point in my Ironman training, but I am working with what I am able to do, so I can eventually get back to running longer distances and speed work.  While I am not back to 100% yet, I am able to run a little bit…more on that in a few minutes.

What have I been doing to overcome this set back?

I see Dr. Chris at Team Chiropractic once or twice a week to receive active release therapy (ART).  He has also done acupuncture on my leg a couple of times to help release the muscle tension around my knee.  We are hoping that this will help my knee heal quicker.

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Getting stuck like a voodoo doll…I think it might be helping though.  After having acupuncture twice in one week, I was able to run with minimal pain that weekend.

I am doing some exercises to help strengthen the stabilizing muscles around my knee.

Leg extensions with 4 pounds attached to my ankle and an air filled ball under my knee.
Leg extensions with a 4 pound ankle weight and an air filled ball under my knee.
The infamous monster walks with an elastic band around my shins.
The infamous monster walks with an elastic band around my shins.

I also get a deep tissue massage every other week…

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Where am I at with my running?

Last week I ran for 20 minutes on Sunday (June 15), 30 minutes on Tuesday (June 17) and 33 minutes on Thursday (June 19).  When I went back to see Dr. Chris on Friday (June 20), he reexamined my running gait and noticed that I am still occasionally crossing my left leg over the midline of my body while running.  When my left leg crosses over the midline, that is when my knee feels some minor pains.

So…what do you do when you have to retrain your gait to prevent your leg from crossing over the midline while running?  Line running of course!  Where do I go to line run?  You guessed it…

My new running "home" for a while will be at the ISU track where I can line run.
My new running “home” for a while will be at the ISU track where I can line run.

Yes, I run lap after lap straddling the white line around the track.  I make sure to switch directions every 4 laps to keep me mentally focused and challenge my muscles a bit differently…

Anyone want to line run with me?
Anyone want to line run with me?  Saturday I ran 40 minutes around the track.

Yes…I feel like a hamster running on a wheel and my Garmin accurately represents this…

Tuesday I was able to run for 50 minutes around the track.
Tuesday I was able to run for 50 minutes around the track.

It is surprisingly difficult to run while straddling the white line.  This running technique does not allow for much gazing at the surrounding scenery…my only focus is on the white line between my feet.  I think I’m starting to have dreams of a white line that never ends 😉

If you want to join me for a run, you know where to find me for the next couple of weeks…

What hoops have you had to jump through to overcome an injury or setback in your training?

Transitions…in Life and Training

“Transition: a change from one state or condition to another”  ~Merriam Webster

Life is full of transitions…transitioning from baby to child to adolescent to adult.  Transitioning from grade level to grade level and possibly school to school.  Transitioning from living at home, to living on your own.  Transitioning from attending school to the working world.  Transitioning from renting to owning a home.  Transitioning from job to job.  Transitioning from single to in a relationship and maybe even to marriage.  Transitioning from season to season.  Transitioning from hobby to hobby.  Transitioning from young to older and eventually “old.”  The list goes on and on and on.

The end of the school year brings transitions to our household and this year will be no different.  I transition from the role of school teacher to the role of house wife.  When I am in the role of school teacher, we have to find/make time on the weekends to run errands, clean house, do laundry and make/prep meals for the coming week.  When I am in the role of the house wife, I can do all of these chores during the week while the Iron Hippie is at work so we can enjoy our weekends more freely.  The role of house wife also gives me the flexibility to take on a few more personal training clients and make a little extra money at my part time job.

Training is also full of transitions…transitioning from goal to goal.  Transitioning from swimming to cycling to running during triathlon.  Transitioning from season to season.  Transitioning from race to race.  Transitioning from indoor trainer rides to outdoor road rides.  Transitioning from indoor pool swimming to outdoor pool swimming and/or open water swimming.   Transitioning from treadmill running to running outdoors.  Transitioning from working out solo vs. with others.  This list also goes on and on and on.

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Transition area at the 2013 USAT Olympic Distance National Championships in Milwaukee, WI.

Having a more flexible schedule during the summer months allows me to train at different times of the day…acclimating to different temperatures, training with different people and juggling my workouts around variable weather if necessary.

This year, we are experiencing an additional transition…going from training with a coach, to training without a coach.  While both the Iron Hippie and I LOVE Coach Julie, we have decided to discontinue her coaching services.  Julie is moving to the Chicagoland area and we feel that we are knowledgable enough, motivated enough and dedicated enough to get ourselves to the start line and finish line of Ironman Wisconsin 2014.   As a science teacher, I’m looking at this as our own little science experiment…what can we do to successfully get us to the start and finish lines of IMWI?!?!?!?!

science experiment

Discontinuing our coaching services will allow us to have some extra money that we can save for upcoming races, vacations, home/yard renovations, etc.  We will have the flexibility to incorporate more social activities into our weekly regimen and it will encourage the Iron Hippie and I to communicate more with each other regarding our training and home schedules.

Transitions can sometimes be uncomfortable and scary…especially when we don’t know what to expect, what the outcomes will be, or how they will impact our daily lives.  The Iron Hippie and I are embracing these transitions and looking forward to the positive impacts they will have on our household.

life transitions

Do you embrace transitions?  What transitions do you experience / have you experienced in your life?

Courage and ART…Running Update

The last 6 weeks, I’ve been fighting a bit of an injury.  While I haven’t been sidelined from all activity, I have been sidelined from running for the last 4 weeks.  I typically go to physical therapy when injured, but I decided to try something different this time around and the results…well…I’ll let them speak for themselves.

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Dr. Chris Feil is a Chiropractor who does active release therapy (ART) here in Ames.  He has worked with a variety of athletes in many different athletic fields.  He runs with Team Vardo (our local running group) and was confident that he could get me back in my running shoes pounding the pavement in no time.  I let him know that I had never been to a chiropractor before, but I was willing to give him a try and let him work some magic.

What is ART?  According to Active Release Techniques, “ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.”

After seeing Dr. Chris four times in less than 2 weeks, he told me to try running for 20-30 minutes this weekend and see how everything feels.  I have to admit, I was VERY nervous and this is where the courage came in.

Courage

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.  I was definitely frightened to go out and test the legs.  “What ifs” infiltrated my mind…What if it would hurt to run?  What if I do more damage to my knee?  What if I don’t feel any pain while running, but find out later I’ve regressed?  What if, what if, what if???

I decided to run on the trails in the park by our house since it is relatively flat and I wouldn’t be far from home.  Courage…

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I started off really easy and could feel that I was compensating for what I thought I might feel instead of what I was feeling.  I really focused on not letting my body make compensations, forcing myself to relax and just run.  It turned out better than I could have expected!!  I have some work to do to get my speed  and distance back, but I will take the slower pace if it means I can run pain free 🙂

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Dr. Chris has definitely worked some magic and I am forever grateful that he has gotten me back in my running shoes pounding the pavement.  If you are currently riding that injury train or toying with a ride on it, I would definitely recommend visiting Dr. Chris.  He’ll get you off that train and moving again in no time 😉

When have you had to be courageous?  What do you do to help come back strong after injuries?  Have you tried ART?  If so, how did it work for you?

Discipline

I have heard from many people outside of our little bubble at home, that the Iron Hippie and I are “very disciplined” and that it is a quality many “admire.”  It is true that we get up between 4 and 4:15 am every day and that our heads hit the pillow around 8 pm every evening.  It is true that we do an am and pm workout almost daily.  It is true that we typically juggle our schedules around our training.  It is true that we’ve decided to take one full year off from drinking alcohol as we train.  It is true that we eat mostly healthy (foods that provide us with the energy and fuel stores our bodies need to train like we do).

We are disciplined, but why?  I can only speak for myself…I am determined to be better prepared for IRONMAN Wisconsin this year than I was in 2011.  I am driven to grow stronger and more powerful while swimming, cycling and running.  I am committed to do my absolute best and set new personal records.  I am courageous…I am not going to let fear prevent me from being successful.  I am doing what I love…swim, bike, run 😉

discipline

Sure, there are days I don’t “feel like” completing a workout as scheduled or even “feel like” completing the workout, but I know that I will reap the rewards on race day if I have the discipline now.

As of today (May 7), the Iron Hippie and I are officially 8 months sans alcohol, which means only 4 months away from IRONMAN Wisconsin.  That is both great and scary at the same time 😉

How disciplined are you?  What motivates you to be so disciplined?

Instructions

Monday I went to physical therapy and was finally released…YIPPEE!!  Granted, I have a few “instructions” I need to follow to stay injury free and out of the PT office…

  • Continue to strengthen my rectus abdominus muscles.
  • Improve my flexibility…thankfully hot yoga is helping with this.
  • Use the foam roller on my low back and upper glutes after exercise.
  • Call my physical therapist immediately if any signs or symptoms show up.

I think I can handle all of these instructions…Now, where are those running shoes?!?!?

What do you do to remain injury free and stay out of PT?

Strengths vs. Weaknesses

My main focus for 2014 is Ironman Wisconsin.  I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses when it comes to triathlon training and racing.

Strengths:  Swimming and Running

Swimming…Growing up on Lake Okoboji, I have been swimming since I was VERY young.  I am not the fastest swimmer, but I am consistent…I can swim at a steady, comfortable pace for hours.  I know swimming is a strength of mine, but I still have plenty of room for growth and I definitely want to get faster in the water.

Running…In 2004 I ran my first race.  I definitely wasn’t fast, I had no idea what to expect and I had no idea where my running would take me.  But, over the course of nearly 10 years, I have gotten stronger and faster.  I want to continue to get stronger, more powerful and faster on the run so that I will have a strong finish at Ironman Wisconsin 2014!!

Weaknesses:  Biking and Mental Focus

Biking…I am definitely not a strong cyclist, but I work hard on every ride to push myself to be faster, stronger, more powerful and more confident on the bike.  In 2014, I will get out and ride more in all kinds of conditions and with people who will push me to become a stronger and more confident cyclist.  The more I ride, the stronger and more confident I will become.

Mental Focus…When I first started training and racing, mental focus was not even on my radar.  I really haven’t spent much time on mental training until this last year.  In 2013, I spent quite a bit of time on mental preparation and it really paid off.  I felt stronger, I had multiple PRs and I had fun in the process.  In 2014, I will spend time everyday mentally preparing and building confidence in myself to be the best I can be!!

I am determined to work hard and spend more time in 2014 making my weaknesses morph into strengths 🙂

weakness morph to strength

As an athlete, what weaknesses would you like to see morph into strengths???

How to Prepare for Your First Triathlon

The inspiration for this post came from watching the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  Since I was home most of last week with strep throat, a severe sinus infection and the beginning stages of pneumonia, I had plenty of time to lay around and watch movies and reminisce about my first triathlon.

I decided to write a “How to” guide…How to Prepare for Your First Triathlon:

  1. If you really want to complete your first triathlon, you must make training a priority.  This will help you remain injury free and properly prepare you to toe the start line.
  2. Set aside time for your training…make an appointment with yourself.  You should spend a minimum of 30 minutes a week on swimming, cycling and running…that is only 1.5 hours a week.  (Training each discipline twice a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each is ideal.)  If you don’t think you have that much time to commit to training, take a look at how much time you spend watching television, surfing the internet, reading a book, etc.  I bet you can find more time to train for a triathlon than you thought.
  3. Determine your goals for your first triathlon.  Pick a distance that is realistic for the amount of time you plan to spend training on a weekly basis and how many weeks you have until race day.  I would not recommend picking an IRONMAN as your first triathlon 😉
  4. Build a solid base…if you have not been active or have little to no experience with one (or more) of the disciplines of triathlon, you may find it REALLY challenging (and risk injury) if you go out and swim a 1/2 mile, cycle 12 miles and run 3 miles (these are the rough distances for a sprint triathlon).  To help you successfully toe the start line of your first triathlon, you should research training plans, find a triathlon community, and/or hire a knowledgable coach to write a training plan for you.
  5. Incorporate strength training into your workout routine.  Strength training helps prevent injury, builds bone density, strengthens the joints, tones the body, and allows you to be strong and healthy on race day.
  6. Proper recovery is important…make sure to have days and weeks built into your training plan that are not as taxing on your body.  Recovery days and weeks will allow your body to repair itself stronger than it was before you broke it down with the tough training sessions.
  7. Practice, practice, practice…open water is different than pool swimming, swimming in a pack of people is different than swimming in open water, swimming in a wetsuit is different than swimming without one, transitioning from the bike to run often gives people jello legs, consuming fluids and nutrition on the bike and run are different than consuming nothing…anything that is new and different from what you have ever experienced should be practiced, so you have an idea of what to expect on race day.
  8. Find a triathlon community…it is great to have a community of people who will help hold you accountable to complete your workouts, people you can train with (especially for open water swimming and riding on the roads), people you can ask questions of, people you can talk to about what you are experiencing in training and racing, people you can talk with about gear, nutrition, safe riding and running routes, etc.
  9. Remember to have fun…your journey to the start line may be challenging at times, but it should almost always be fun and rewarding!!

TriathletesNow…who’s ready to do their first triathlon??????

Running in Cotton = BAD

Friday, October 11, we had a “Spirit Run” at Ames Middle School with 971 middle school students (6th, 7th and 8th graders) running the 2.4 miles and celebrating our school spirit.  The students and staff were given cotton t-shirts to wear for the day.  I decided to run with the students and provided my 29 homeroom students with a challenge…I would give those individuals who could beat me to the finish line a treat of their choosing.  I ran the 2.4 miles in 16:03 giving me an average pace of 6:41/mile.  I was super stoked with my performance…AND…no one in my homeroom beat me 🙂

Ames Spirit Run

While I was very happy with my run, I was NOT at all happy with the cotton t-shirt that I ran in!!  While it was only 2.4 miles, it was a very strong reminder for why I don’t exercise in cotton.  UGH!!  It trapped in the heat, didn’t wick my sweat away and chaffed under my arms.  While I can’t remember the last time I ran in cotton (prior to this run), I can guarantee that I won’t be running in cotton again anytime soon!!

“Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable”

Thanks to Erin for the mantra that stuck with me as I raced the Indianapolis Marathon to my 2nd fastest marathon time ever…”Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”

The alarm went off at 5:30 am (although that was still 4:30 am based on central time).  While getting dressed, nourished and race ready, we took one last look at the weather for our race…43 degrees at the start with a steady rain and 10+ mph winds (that would slowly climb throughout the day).  Not ideal, but not horrible.

We loaded up on the shuttle from our hotel at 6:40 am and headed out to the race site.  Our driver got a little turned around, but we weren’t complaining because we were on a dry, warm bus.  When we finally made it to the race site, we were allowed to sit in a large canopied tent to stay dry and out of the inclement weather, which was a good thing.  The thought of standing outside in the cold and rain for just over an hour made me consider hiding out in a kybo just to stay dry.  I was much happier in the canopied tent!!

With about 20 minutes to the start of the race, I decided to drop my gear, hit the kybo and head to the start line.  With only 615 athletes running the full marathon and about 1600 people running the half marathon, it didn’t take long to get to the start area.

Trying to stay warm and dry as we wait in the tent before the race start.
Trying to stay warm and dry as we wait in the tent before the race start.
"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"...ready to race Indianapolis!!
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”…ready to race Indianapolis!!

When the gun went off, I decided to start out strong and see how long I could hold on.  With the cold and rain, I figured the faster I got done, the sooner I’d be out of the inclement weather.  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”  During the first 13 miles, I thought the course was to be flatter than it was, but there were quite a few undulations throughout this half of the race.  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”

I crossed the 8 mile mark at just under one hour, and was starting to feel my left glute start to scream.  I’m not sure if it was the undulations or my quicker than normal pace.  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable,” smile and keep pushing forward.  By this time, it was only lightly misting and the temperatures were nearing the mid 40s…time to strip down to my tank top and ditch my long sleeve throw away shirt (don’t worry Bill…I had arm warmers on too).

I crossed the half marathon mat at 1:53:08.  Not as fast as I was hoping for, but my upper hamstrings and glutes were SCREAMING!!  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Alright…let’s push to mile 15.  Check.  Focus on the positives…I’m not in a wheelchair…My nutrition is spot on…I am executing this race almost perfectly given the conditions that I have.  Time to push to mile 18…Check.  No more rain 🙂  Mile 19.5 split…2:48:31.  Nutrition is spot on, pace is declining, upper hamstrings and glutes are SCREAMING…smiling like I’m Chrissie Wellington, I keep moving forward.  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”

Thanks to Star Photo Imaging for the photography on the race course.
Thanks to Star Photo Imaging for the photography on the race course.

The last 10K was painful, but I kept smiling and pushing forward, finishing in a time of 3:56:42…my 2nd fastest marathon time to date!!  While I was disappointed with my finish time, I was satisfied with how I executed my race.  I stayed mentally focused and strong even when obstacles presented themselves…controlling what I could control.  The Indianapolis Marathon was about “getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.”