Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Friday Night Long Runs: Simulating Race Day

As athletes, we always try to imitate race day during training. If you are running a hilly marathon, you will train on hills. If you are doing a hot, flat and windy Ironman (like I am), you train in those conditions. You practice the breakfast you eat, the shoes you wear, the nutrition you consume during the event. You have it all down to a science by the time race day comes.

When training for an Ironman you have long training weekends that fatigue your body to simulate race day. But what about the mental fatigue? What about the "I really don't feel like doing this" attitude?

I mentioned to Kate 2 weeks ago that I think it would beneficial to do a few of our long runs on Friday evenings. It is very likely that I will be starting the marathon portion of the Ironman during the late afternoon and crossing the finish line when the sun has already set. I think the mental fatigue of getting off your bike after 112 miles and having the thought of a whole marathon infront of you is pretty daunting. I wanted to try and simulate this fatigue without having to ride my bike for 7 hours.

Last Friday evening Kate and I set out for 14 miles at 530 pm. We were both exhausted from the work week and this is the first time either of us had done a long run that started in the late afternoon. IT SUCKED. It just felt...weird. Normally I am done my workouts by 9 am...not 8pm. We were both surprised at how slow we had to run (it was also as humid as a sauna outside) and how much we had to push each other through to the finish. We kept discussing how weird the run felt but we couldnt put our fingers on exactly why. I think it was just because we had never ran while already mentally drained. Our legs felt fine.

We both agreed that we are going to do more of our long runs on Friday evenings to get used to the feeling of starting a long run while tired and finishing in the dark.

I think I also need to start practicing using margaritas as recovery drinks since that is my plan in Cozumel. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011


What a week we had here on the East Coast! I experienced my first ever earthquake on Tuesday afternoon and then a hurricane a few days later.

The quake didn't screw up my training but the hurricane sure did. It was a build week this week with a 14 mile run and a 90 mile ride on the schedule. I managed to get in the run on Friday evening with my good friend Kate but did not manage to get in the 90 miles on the bike due to the storm on Saturday and then the wind and debris on the road on Sunday.

Next weekend is supposed to be a recovery week- where the long run and rides are pretty short- but due to hurricane Irene, I will be biking 90 miles and scaling back my run. The hurricane managed to screw up my build week AND my recovery week.

You know what the hurricane didn't screw up? My weekend.

I slept in past 9am both on Saturday and Sunday. Phil and I went out to a fancy brunch since we couldn't ride our bikes. Then we went to the indoor rock climbing gym for the rest of the afternoon. Note to self: I miss climbing. So much. I had such a blast hanging around my old stomping grounds. I was quite the climber before I decided to train for an Ironman. 24 hours later and my forearms are still sore. I need to get back to the climbing gym soon.

We spent Saturday night monitoring the storm, eating frozen pizzas, laughing at funny Internet videos and enjoying a few beers. It. was. glorious.

Brizzy guarded the pizzas while they baked

Ready to embrace the storm for a walk!

We spent Sunday shampooing the carpet (4 bikes in a 1 bedroom apartment with cream color carpets means grease spots!), cleaning, shopping and then having our friends Nick and Kate over for dinner which included a few bottles of wine.

While I was stressed about messing up my training, I quickly realized that all will be ok in the Ironman department. It was nice to let loose a little, sleep in, and not spend the majority of my weekend with my butt on my bike.

How did you brave the storm?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The best present $1 can buy!

When my parents visited this past weekend they brought a ton of goodies with them. My mom loves finding things that she thinks my sister and I will like. For the most part, she is always right. But there are occasions where she is just dead wrong. Take Christmas 2008 for example. She bought my sister Nikki what she *thought* was a sampling pack of different gourmet fruit jellies. They were packaged in a plastic candy cane and had a paint brush attached. "I don't know what you do with the brush" my mom said. Upon closer examination of the gift, she actually bought my sister gourmet edible body paint. Hilarious.

Anyways- this weekend by mom gave me a gift she found in the dollar store which wound up to be the most amazing gift EVER! I loved it so much I asked her to go buy me 20 more.

Compact disposable towels!!!

It looks like a pack of gum. But this small package holds 8 compact towels that really come in handy in the middle of an 80 mile bike ride or long run.

This is the pack cut in half so I could easily but it in my bike bag.

 This is the compact towel. It is about the size of a tums. All you do is add a few drops of water to it and it magically expands to become a cloth towel that wipes all the salt and sweat off of your face so your eyes stop burning. It's amazing!

Full size face towel! This is one of those gifts that I cocked my head to the side when my mom handed it to me, but moms know best and these suckers are amazing! Now when my eyes start to burn from sweat, I have a compact towel in my bike bag or fuel belt to solve that problem. Hooray for funky gifts that turn out to be fantastic!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week 4 in Review: Nutrition Successes!

Hello from the comfort of my couch! I am wearing compression socks and I have been watching the Food Network for hours because I love it the remote is out of my reach and I have both a sleeping pug and ice packs on my legs.

Ironman training week numero 4 was great! I hit almost all of my workouts and I really dialed in my nutrition for my long run and ride this weekend which left me feeling fantastic even at the ends of the workouts.

The numbers:
Swim:  1.4 miles
Bike:    105 miles 
Run:     20.48 miles
Total:   126.88 woop!
For Saturday's 12 mile run I focused on keeping my heart rate low, drinking 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes, taking a salt pill every hour-ish and eating a gel every 35 minutes. I totaled 40 ounces of water, 410 calories in gels, and 1 salt pill at the half way point. I finished the run feeling great- my stomach was happy, I was digesting the calories well, and I felt like I could have kept running for hours. The wonderful company also made the run feel close to effortless!
Before run
After run. woo hoo!
For Sunday's 80 mile ride I focused on the same things- low heart rate, tons of water, salt, and calories. I took in about 130 ounces of water, 3 salt pills, and over 800 calories in gels and other snacks. Speaking of snacks, Whitney eating goldfish while in her aero bars is pretty impressive. She packs a whole 5th grader lunch in her bento box! I finished the long and windy ride well energized but with tired legs, as expected. I felt hungry by the end of the ride so I think I should have eaten more during the ride. I walked in my apartment door after the ride and walked right to the fridge to polish off leftovers from dinner last night. 

before bike ride
after bike ride.

 Other than training this weekend, I got to spend some quality time with my parents who drove down from Philadelphia for the weekend! We always has a ton of fun together. Saturday afternoon we decided to go bowling. I thought I was a bad bowler...until I saw my mom play. She has now been given the nickname "Bumpers" because she needs bumpers on the bowling lane to save the ball from going in the gutter.

Dads awesome form

Bumpers hard at work

 Another bonus of my parents coming to visit? Six containers of Mom's homemade pasta sauce, tons of fresh fruit and tomatoes from the garden. Yes!

 Time for bed. Me and this furball are having a hard time keeping our eyes open. Goodnight!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Funnies

Last night Phil and I hung out with our good friends Bobbie and Ray. Ray asked Phil and I to be subjects for one of his popular "in depth review" posts. I'll let him give you all the details on the products we tried out, but I am going to show you what we did after the official DC Rainmaker product testing was over.

After Bobbie taught me the proper way to make risotto...we played video games. Yup. Laughter ensued.

We played Xbox Kinect where your body is the controller. We competed in numerous games from javelin throwing, soccer, and hurdle jumping. Oh, the hurdles.

this is how I jump hurdles. Perhaps why I was never a track star.
I laughed the hardest when Phil and Ray, two serious triathletes, competed in the hurdle competition. We won't even get into the fact that Phil was too tall for the sensor to "see" him sometimes. Please tilt your head to the left to see the hilarity of these two grown men jumping virtual hurdles.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Double Breakfast

It is a known fact that the more calories you burn the hungrier you are and the more calories you have to replenish. It is also a known fact that I burn alot of calories and I am known to eat a ton of food for someone of my small stature. Full rack of ribs? Bring it on. Half pound of pasta? No problem. A gallon of milk? I'll take care of it.(No, I have not done the milk challenge nor do I plan to try) Wheel of brie cheese? Give me some bread and jam and it will be gone before you know it.

Yes, I ate the whole rack of ribs in the above picture. Proof:

But I am a serious food monster on the mornings I work out...which is most mornings. Which leads to having two breakfasts plus snacks just to last me until 11:30 or noon when I can eat lunch. And don't get me started on what I eat for afternoon snacks to last me until dinner. Once I get past dinner my hunger monster usually sleeps until after my morning sweat session.

Perhaps next week (which will be my highest volume training week to date) I will do this blog "healthy living" blog style and document everything I eat. I bet you'd be impressed. Or just disgusted. No smoothies as a meal for this girl- unless the smoothie has a bagel on the side.

Excuse me, I have to go eat lunch number 1 now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Experimenting with my Ironman nutrition strategy

There is no denying that an Ironman is a long race. 140.6 miles long to be exact. How you fuel your body during those miles is a crucial part of getting to the finish line. This post takes a look at my personal nutrition needs (which I have not yet totally figured out) based on my height, weight, heart rate and other factors.

I had a serious nutrition fail that forced me to walk the whole half marathon of Eagleman 70.3 and I have had a few fails during training which has made me cut rides and runs short. It is time to get serious about what my body needs to keep it going for almost 17 hours. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

I am just over 5 feet tall, I weigh 116-118 lbs on a daily basis, I have a very high heart rate and a very sensitive stomach. All factors that I need to take into consideration for my nutrition plan.

My weight plays an important part in figuring out how much liquid I need to take in during a training session or race. You should be able to weigh yourself before your workout and after your workout and if you hydrated well enough you should be within a pound or two of your starting weight. Ready for some kindof scary facts? I did such a poor job of hydrating at Eagleman that when I weighed myself several hours after the race (after eating a huge meal, ice cream, and almost a gallon of water) I weighed 106 pounds. That is a loss of over 10 pounds. Holy moly. No wonder why a few co-workers told me on Monday that I looked "frail".

My high heart rate is due to my heart having a small left ventricle. Phil likes to joke that I have a bird heart and I am not capable of loving. I promise I am capable of loving. The left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood into the aorta and through the body. My little birdie heart has to pump harder to get the blood flowing. This means my Zone 2 is in the 160s and my VO2 max is over 200. Due to my heart rate being very hummingbird-esque, I have to keep a careful eye on it. It flutters from Z1 to Z3 very easily. (Don't worry, I have had it checked- I am healthy!) If you are in a high HR zone for an extended period of time, your muscles use all of the blood that your heart is sending through your body and not enough blood is flowing to your stomach which can lead to a total GI system shut down. I would like to try to avoid that.

my bird heart flutters
My stomach is super sensitive when it comes to the typical "race nutrition". I can only stomach certain flavors of Gu, certain textures of gummy electrolytes, and I have to wait atleast an hour after waking up to eat or else I feel sick. And if I am nervous at all I can barely choke down food. The morning of Eagleman, I threw up half a bagel due to nerves while the National Anthem was playing. I love America.

So what now? I need to be able to eat before Ironman even with a nervous stomach, I need to keep my HR down to keep my stomach working, I need to eat things that wont upset my stomach, and I need to hydrate enough that I dont lose 20 pounds in a day. All of these items are crucial to getting Bib 137 to the finish line on my own two feet and not in an ambulance.

Let's add another wrench to the already complicated nutrition plan- Ironman Cozumel is going to be offering water and Gatorade as the hydration on course. I usually use EFS as my sports drink because it sits well in my stomach and has a high salt content. As of this weekend, I am kissing EFS goodbye and practicing with water, Gatorade and salt supplements. Good thing I stocked up on these babies on Amazon!

So now- from this day forward- I will strategically plan my long bike and run nutrition.  I am going to keep a diary of my before weight, my after weight, how much liquid I took in, how many calories I consumed, how much salt I took in, and how my stomach and my body feels after the workout and adjust accordingly.

After working with Melissa Dalio of Endura Coaching on my nutrition issues she helped me identify a good starting point for calories per hour (I burn 400 calories an hour in Zone 2!), salt per hour, sugar per hour, carbs per hours, ect. I am going to document my nutrition experimentation on the blog starting with my 12 mile run and 80 mile ride this weekend. I think there is going to have to be some tweaks depending on how I feel this weekend but I am confident that if I write out a plan and follow it and document the results, I will be able to find my optimal nutrition strategy come Ironman in November.

Excuse me, my type A personality is showing. :)

For all those experienced Ironmen out there...advice is welcome!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Luray Oly: Lessons Learned

Luray is a great race- the venue is fantastic, the bike and run are challenging, and the volunteers are great. Unfortunately, it was not a great race for moi. However, it did open my eyes to a few things so all is not lost.

First off, I went into this race with the wrong attitude. "Its just a training day" "I'm out here to have fun and that's it" "I don't want to have super sore legs going into my second Ironman build cycle" I threw in the towel before the gun even went off and my race time showed it. During the race I did have a blast- I was singing to myself, I was daydreaming, and I hung out with a fellow teammate for the whole run chit chatting. I had a blast. I was A-ok at the time just having a fun day with a little sweat involved. It wasn't until later Saturday evening that I was just flat out pissed with my performance and my slow race time. Lesson learned- races are races and I need to treat them as such or else I spend the rest of the weekend cranky and not wanting to talk about it.

Phil and I post race
Second- I screwed up my nutrition...yet again. This has been an issue for me and it deserves a post of it's own (coming tomorrow!). Let's just say that even after I finished the race, drank 3 bottles of water, ate a full meal and drank more water, I was STILL 4 pounds lighter than I was that morning.

Third- I learned the importance of my mid-week workouts. I have been missing a ton of them lately (for good reasons, I swear.) and then hitting my weekend workouts. No wonder my ankle started hurting 0.6 miles into the run. No wonder my knees felt like jelly the rest of the weekend. I am currently flirting with injury and that is something I don't enjoy batting my blue eyes at.

Lessons learned. It was a poor performance on my part, but exactly the wake up call I needed.

Whitney and I post race
Did I mention I had fun though? I always enjoy driving to races with Phil- the car ride starts out with him sleeping and ends with a Justin Timberlake dance party. I love seeing my teammates and hanging out in the team tent before and after the race. And I love watching my super fast friends and boyfriend win awards :) Especially when the award is a hand etched wine glass that your boyfriend is not going to use and therefor it becomes kindofsortof yours. Win!

1st place Clydesdale!

Ryan being...Ryan :P

Speed Racers

Winners at Life.

I need to grow a few inches...

My new wine glass- Thanks for winning, babe!

Have you had any races that went down the drain but you learned a valuable lesson (or in my case- lessonS) from?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Race Day Checklist

Several months ago, a teammate from my tri team sent around this nifty little website that creates a race day checklist for you. They have options for all kinds of races, too! Triathlon, Duathlon, Century rides, runs, swim meets, everything! You check off the items you want to put on your list and you can even add items they don't have on the list (such as Imodium for those of us with sensitive stomachs). I use this site every time I have to pack for a tri to make sure I don't forget something. Just figured I would play nice and share :) Enjoy making your list and checking it twice at least 5 times before you leave for the race!

Have a great weekend, friends! Ill be back on Monday with my Luray race recap!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Luray Olympic: The Goals Post

Well, this race totally snuck up on me. I registered for it many moons ago and now it is this Saturday! This is not an A race- just a training session with a timing chip and a bib number. Don't let the lax 'tude fool ya- I still set some goals for myself for this race. Just nothin' crazy.

This will be the first race I have done where there are some more technical aspects to the race: a million turns on the swim, hills and sharp turns on the bike, and a gravel path for the run. While I know this most likely means I won't be able to set a PR, I am pretty excited for the new challenges. Especially the hills on the bike because my last two long rides have been pretty hilly and I have done quite well climbing! I am leaving Pink Lady (the tri bike)at home and taking my road bike for this race.

lots of swim turns!
So without further ado, my goals...

1. Don't hang back when the gun goes off. After getting kicked in the face at Rumpass I have been scared to begin to swim when the horn blows. I hang back and let everyone else go and then I wind up swimming over people because apparently I am a faster swimmer than I thought. Saturday, I start to swim with the pack. I am just going to place myself strategically- as in to the left hand side instead of front and center. I may not be a bad swimmer but I am certainly not great! ...yet.
2. Perfectly execute the hills. I feel more comfortable on my road bike than my tri bike so I am hoping that by racing on my road bike I have the confidence to hammer down hills (the way Phil taught me last week) and anticipate the uphills, thus executing a damn good bike split. I hope to maintain a decent MPH even with the course elevation chart that looks like this:

hills hills hills
3. PR my run split. I always have a hard time holding a good pace off the bike. It's annoying. Really annoying. The fastest pace I have been able to maintain for the 10k after the 40k bike is 9:40 minute miles. Most of my long runs are faster than that! This Saturday, that all changes. Sub 9:15 or bust.
4. Continue to take awesome race photos. I can't help but smile and wave when I see the race photographer. This weekend I think it may be time to give up the old "wave and smile" routine and change it up by sticking my tounge out or making some other goofy face.

5. Have a ton of fun. A TON!

I think that about covers it. What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Número de Competidor

Hola! ¿Cómo estás? This morning I was able to find out my Ironman Cozumel bib number that I will proudly wear 109 days from today.

Bib 137, baby! Now I just need to brush up on my Spanish race terms such as "I have a flat tire, I need help" or "Please direct me to the medical tent".

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

If you didn't have to- would you?

I just spent the past few days in Iowa visiting Phil's family. While we ate tons of food and had a wonderful little get away, it was far from a vacation. We hit every workout we were supposed to including our long ride before our Friday morning flight meaning we were on our bikes at 5 am. Phil's uncle Tom also kicked my ass twice in the pool (once almost to the point where I thought I was going puke) and we did our long run through a running trail that goes through corn fields (I'm not kidding).

During one of the sprint sets in the pool I was thinking to myself "If I didn't need to become a better swimmer, I wouldn't do this. This is not what I call fun."

And that got me to thinking- If I was able to have all the benefits of working out, without actually having to work out, would I do it? The benefits I get from working out are increased energy, I sleep better, I can eat (mostly) whatever I want, and I dont mind the way I look in a bikini. But if I had all of that without having to run or lift a weight...I wouldn't work out. I would hike and ride my bike leisurely. Imagine all the free time I would have!

So I have to ask- if you magically got all of the benefits of working out without any of the work, would you still work out? Be honest.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Product Review: Tri-Clips

When @triclips began following me on twitter I was immediately drawn to their twitter tag line about transition being an art form. If you have read any of my race reports you would know that I am not a very good artist when it comes to transitions.

When I popped over to their website I saw what tri-clips actually were: little clips that hold your shoes in place while you do a flying mount onto your bike!

From the site: Tri-Clips is a new device that will significantly improve the speed of your T1 transition. Tri-Clips provide a fast, efficient and easy mechanism to hold your bike shoes in place while you mount the bike. Weighing only 1/2 oz each, Tri-Clips will save 1 - 2 minutes on your total T1 time. Tri-Clips are self cleaning; resistant to chlorine, salt water and sweat. With super high friction backing to ensure Tri-Clips stays in exact position on bike frame.

I was intrigued. I can do a flying mount onto my bike, but with my shoes on my feet. I was curious to see if I could really "save 1-2 minutes" on my T1 time by using these clips. Not to mention look super cool by doing a flying mount onto my bike with the shoes on the pedals!

These clips offer a much more fool-proof way to keep your shoes upright on your pedals than using rubber bands. The thought of a rubber band getting caught in my derailleur during a race does not sound appealing. These clips velcro to your bike securely and you attach the clip to your bike shoe. Like this:

As soon as you start to pedal, the clip releases your shoe and retracts back into the square body that is attached to your bike frame. You won't have to worry about anything getting caught in your derailleur! These clips weigh hardly anything so you won't even realize they are there.

I played with the positions of the clips for a few minutes before taking my bike outside to attempt my first flying mount. I think the position of the clips is a preference- I wanted them positioned so that my left and right shoes were even and my left shoe was in front of the right because I mount my bike from the right hand side.  Like this:

When I got outside the first thing I wanted to make sure of was that those clips were not going to move from the position I had them set in. I ran around with my bike, bouncing it up and down (trying to simulate running through mud or grass) looking like quite the idiot running around Arlington barefoot. The clips did not move. The shoes moved a small amount because my crank arms moved while I was running but it was nothing that would throw off my mount.

notice the pug butt behind the back wheel
Now that I knew the clips would not move when mounting the bike, it was time to try it. I went to the deserted street where I do all of my transition practices and set up shop. I ran to my bike barefoot, grabbed my bike, ran to my imaginary mount line, and threw my left leg over my saddle. I put my feet on top of the shoes and began to pedal- the clips unhooked my shoes gently. Flying mount success!!

So now I had to get my feet IN my bike shoes. I had to slow down so much to get my feet in the shoes that it did not matter that I just saved myself 30 seconds in my make believe T1. After several more attempts I was able to get my feet in my shoes by the end of the street, but still at a pretty slow speed. I think I need more practice! (Sorry I have no action shots- I would have wrecked had I been trying to take pictures AND get my feet in the shoes)

without Tri-Clips your shoes does stay upright!
I think with a ton of practice and these Tri-Clips, I could master the flying mount and not have to slow down to 5mph to get my feet in my pink shoes. As of right now the time I would save in T1 would be negated for the time I lose going slow at the start of the bike. I think more transition practices are in order!

All in all I think Tri-Clips are a great product for someone wanting to learn a flying mount onto their bike. The clips stay in place, are light weight, unnoticeable while riding and extremely useful. Make sure you try them out several times before trying to use them in a race! or else you may be *that guy* who crashes at the mount line.

You can get your own Tri-Clips from their website and follow them on Twitter for awesome transition tips!

What do you think? Do you do flying mounts? Would you use this product?