Tuesday, September 29, 2009

LEISURE TIME

What to do with all this time on my hands? With training winding down, I'm finding time on my hands - something I haven't had for months. Most of my days I wake up, hit the road or water, rush home, eat, shower, then go to work, rush home, go to bed, then start it all over again the next day.



After my 2 and half hour ride and 15 minute run this morning I had time to watch a little TV,  then Aaron, Rebecca and I went to Old A to walk around. But because of the tsunami watch from the Samoa earthquake, Old A was closed as were all the beaches so we hung out at the Old A park instead. It was kind of nice just walking around taking photos and recovering: I could get used to this tapering thing ...

Reflections ...

Old sign at Old A


We found a painting of Rebecca in the parking lot. Although Rebecca didn't think it looked anything like her.

My Ironman bike ready for the race.

Aaron's cool slippahs from the Philippines

Rebecca

Yep, I could definitely get used to this!

As you can tell it was a tilting kind of day today. Taking straight pictures just seemed to boring to me.


I've ran many miles bare foot in this field. I love running bare foot and after it rains this field gets soggy and warm and massages your feet with every stride.

Yellow was the theme color of the day today.


Aaron and Rebecca

Monday, September 28, 2009

IRONMAN IS IN THE AIR; LET'S HAVE SOME FUN

There's only 12 days until Ironman and Kona is taking on that special atmosphere: Part nervous energy and part theme park. The speedos are showing up and walking around the stores. A few of the swim buoys are out, the "Athletes in Training" signs are placed along Queen K. Even the street sweepers were out in force today. Soon the Gatorade stands will be open and finally, the Coffee Boat will appear out in the bay. It's all so exciting to really be a part of it!

(Some of the Ironman swim buoys out in the bay.)

OK. I do go through moments of complete and utter panic thinking about race day, but for the most part I'm just enjoying the experience. This may be my one and only Ironman World Championship and that's how I'm treating it. I'm just taking it all in and enjoying the moment. 

Wow! Twelve days. I think tapering is the hardest part of training for Ironman. The past two days have been swim-only days and I'm feeling guilty that I haven't been out there pounding the pavement. It seems odd not to go to bed completely exhausted. Almost like I'm cheating on my training. 

These are the days I start doubting my training and fitness, and there is an overwhelming urge to do just one more long ride and one more long run just to prove I can and that I am ready, and that my body isn't deteriorating by taking it easy but is rebuilding, refueling and actually getting stronger.

Just to keep myself from going out and doing something stupid like ride the 112-mile bike course or run another 20-miler over the next few days, I'm promising myself that my training goal from now until race day is to have fun. Go for a run, but keep it short and have fun. Go for a ride - just far enough to get the legs working - but have fun. And swim in the ocean as much as possible - that's always fun.

(Hey, they are talking about me! I'm finally one of those "Athletes in Training")

ADVICE FOR RACE DAY
Someone told me a secret for Ironman a few weeks ago. She told me on race day smile. Smile all day long. Even when I don't feel like it. She said smiling will change my outlook on the day. She also told me to think of race day as just a catered training day and that will help me to relax. 

Another secret for race day is the Three R's: Relax, Rhythm, Race. Relax at the start of the race, then find your rhythm, then get into your race mode. That may not be exactly how it was told to me. But the emphasis is on relaxing and finding my rhythm.

Someone else told me to spend the day building. Don't go out there and hit the swim and the bike hard only to suffer an agonizing death on the run. Build your pace up to peak on the run. At least I think that is what he meant. 

There's been a bunch more sound advice given to me from Ironman-experienced friends and it is much appreciated. That's one of the great things about living in Kona, there's no shortage of experienced triathletes here and you can pretty much go up to any of them and ask advice. Most are more than willing to share their experiences with whomever asks. 

See you out there. I'll be the one smiling!

Monday, September 21, 2009

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

LESS THAN THREE WEEKS UNTIL IRONMAN!

We generally have lots of butterflies year round in Kona but you won't see many right now. Why? Because I'm convinced that they have started congregating in my stomach and I'm pretty sure they'll be staying there until the canon goes off at 7 a.m. October 10. 

Butterflies: How can something so beautiful and graceful make you feel so unsettled, unprepared and plain old scared? And how do they get into your stomach anyhow? 

Well, ever how they get there, I have a stomach full of them and their effect is bringing on doubt and lots of negative self-talk: I should have trained more, went longer, pushed harder. I'm not ready for this. That inner voice seems to be getting louder as Ironman draws closer. It's a struggle every day to keep a positive attitude. 

Sunday's Peaman race, a three-quarter-mile swim and 3.9-mile run helped some. Floating in the water at Kailua Pier Sunday morning waiting for the countdown for the swim portion of the race to start, I tried to visualize it was the start of the Ironman. I positioned myself at about where I'm planning to for Ironman - not at the front but not at the back and off to the left. I  got behind a few people and made sure there were people just behind me. Just to make it feel like it was crowded.

I looked across the bay and tried to visualize the boat way out there that marks the Ironman turnaround. Dang, that's a long ways ... Peaman counted down 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... GO! I visualized hearing the canon fire. Then feet, elbows, hands and bubbles were everywhere. You gotta love a Peaman race. It's the best practice in the world for triathlon swims. 

I must of visualized the Ironman swim start pretty well because I began to panic thinking of nearly 2,000 swimmers surrounding me. I got instantly claustrophobic and seriously began thinking I can't handle this; it's too scary; too much for me; I'm not good enough. At that moment I pulled off to the left and out of the pack of swimmers I was with losing my draft and falling behind. I thought about stopping and heading back to the beach, but no. I needed to face my fear. I headed back to the right and caught the tail-end of the pack of swimmers. 

By the time we were at the turn around buoy I was right in the middle of several swimmers. Making the turn I got hit, climbed over, and cut off but I never slowed down. After the turn it was time to stretch out, grab some feet and head for home. Fear faced. Panic over.

The run was a big positive that I'm going to hold onto these coming weeks. I ran nearly 4 miles faster than I usually run 3 miles. And each mile was getting faster. I finished with a 7 minute, 15 second mile, which is amazing for me. And on tired legs, too. I haven't ran a 7:15 mile in more than 30 years so you can bet I'm gonna hang onto that to help chase away the negative talk.

So the next 3 weeks as I begin to taper my training, I'm going to be dealing with a lot of second guessing. Wondering if I did it right. Did I go long enough, hard enough? And the biggest question: Am I ready? YES! YES! AND YES! I have to believe that. I have to remember that I have pushed myself, physically and mentally to the limit. I have done it right. All that's left is to show up at the starting line, face some fears and race smart.

Over the past few months I've been building a lot of positive memories along the Ironman course. Putting them in the bank for race day, as Bree Wee says. Hopefully as I taper and begin to rest up for race day I'll continue building positive memories and keep the negative talk and self-doubting at bay. 

Oh, and if you happen to see any butterflies around town please, please shoo them away from where ever I'm at. I've got more than my stomach can manage already. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

RIGHT WHERE I SHOULD BE

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2009
24 days until Ironman

Today I feel old. But I guess I am old - at least according to my kids.

My body is more tired than I ever thought it could be. I feel like I've swam, biked and ran my way from here to New York. Actually, after checking my training blog, I have swam, biked and ran nearly 5,000 miles while training for Ironman - about the same distance from Honolulu to New York City.

I guess that means I'm feeling just the way I should be feeling. Cool!

Today is just a swim day for me as well as a bike repair day. My bike ride on Monday didn't go so well. I had three flat tires and ended up stuck on Queen K and had to call for a ride back to town. So today I'm swapping tires (the old one has a slice in it), retaping the bars, cleaning the grime off and getting everything ready for my 112 mile ride tomorrow. I'm also making sure I carry along plenty of tubes, a great big air pump and maybe a spare tire or two.


I don't know. I think this will work.
See ya out there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS

This is it! My longest training week. My longest swims, my longest bikes and my longest runs. All in the same week. All leading up to a 3-week-long taper. 

It may sound like it is coming to an end  and it is, but the end leads me to a beginning - the starting line and the beginning of the race. 

That's what I've been thinking about today while I was running. It's my last hard week of training. Sure the next couple of weeks will still be intense, but this is the peak. Things will get a little easier, a little shorter, and a little more "normal" as race day gets closer. Sure, there will still be long runs (12- 15 milers, and 100 mile rides and lots of swimming over the next three weeks but it'll be the downhill side of training with a focus on recovery and filling the tank up.

So here's to endings and beginnings. See you out there.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SPEED WEEK: JUST WHAT I NEED

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2009
32 days until Ironman

Wow! Race day is getting close. I can't decide if I'm more excited or scared. Either way there's lots of adrenaline.

Training is getting longer now. Nearly 25 hours last week was spent in the pool or on the road. Two more weeks of building then the taper begins. This week I'm adding something new to my training: Speed work. It's new because I don't have speed. So for me to say I'm doing speed work is kind of funny.

Over the past several weeks, as my distances have increased I've noticed my pace has slowed, both on the bike and running. I guess I figured I needed to slow down to be able to make it the whole distance. Whatever the reason, it has become a bad habit and I need to break it. Thus, speed week.

I've also noticed that my average heart rate has been getting lower. A big indication that I should have the power to go harder. So this week is all about speed. Monday I did intervals on the bike, which is kind of new to me as well. I usually just pound the pedals at a constant speed. So to go all out for a set time then rest for a couple of minutes then all out again proved to be pretty hard. Maybe more so mentally than physically. But that's just what I needed.

Today I ran 10 1-mile hill repeats at the Energy Lab. The road to the Energy Lab really isn't a hill, it's more of an incline, but combine that with the heat and the fact that it is at mile 19 or so of the marathon course I'm sure it's going to feel like the Alps on race day.

My training today was to run the mile-long road out of the Energy Lab to Queen K - the up hill portion - at 80 to 90 percent, basically as hard as I could then back off slightly. Once I was at the top I would run at about 50 percent effort back to the bottom. Take a quick water break (about 2 minutes) then go again.

I've found that doing speed work on a slight up hill route reduces the pounding on the legs but still allows you to go all out with less leg stress.

I was surprised at how fast the 10 miles went by. I was also surprised to notice that my hard mile pace was getting faster with each repeat. By mile 8 I was doing 7-something minute miles, which is fast for me (and don't forget that was running up hill). Even my cool down mile (mile 11) was an 8 to 9 minute mile. I was having so much fun that I really didn't want to stop running. I don't usually run at this pace so it was a great day. I think today was just what I needed. A little boost in confidence that I do have more in the tank than I think I do.

I'm excited for my long bike and run days later this week just to see if I can pick up the pace on a few of the miles near the end. ZOOM, ZOOM!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

PANIC ATTACK!

Holy cow!  Only 37 days until Ironman!!! What was I thinking?

.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Just breathe. In .... Out .... In .... Out

Whew! 

OK, I'm better (for) now ... Good night.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

FOR THE THRILL OF IT

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2009
For the past few days I've been watching Ironman videos on youtube and getting pretty excited about the race. I watch the videos and visualize the bike and run. I visualize T1 -- transitioning from the swim to the bike; I visualize cruising along Queen K and Akoni Pule Highway to Hawi and the turn around. Then heading back to Kona; I visualize T2 -- feeling strong as I jump off the bike and begin the run. I even visualize having a good, strong run for 26.2 miles.

Notice I haven't mentioned the swim. Every time I imagine floating in the bay waiting for the swim to start my heart skips a few beats, my breathing quickens and I feel nauseated. I imagine hearing the canon fire and the race beginning. I see the ocean erupt into a cloud of white spray from thousands of flailing arms and feet. My heart jumps into my throat. I find myself holding my breath. Usually about there I have to fast-forward my visualizing to well into the swim where things calm down. From there I can usually visualize a good, strong swim.


(if you are watching this on FaceBook you'll have to go to my blog to see the video. Click on view original at the bottom of this note)

If you haven't been in the chaos of a triathlon swim start it's hard to imagine what it is like. A lot of competitors stand on shore or hang back until after the start of the race then venture out and begin their swim. Much more relaxing I'm sure, but that's not for me. Maybe I'm an adrenaline junkie. But even with the panic attacks I get visualizing the swim start, I'd much rather be on the front line playing full-contact swimming than hang back and play it safe. Yes, you get hit - hard. You get kicked - hard. You get bumped, climbed over, and maybe even bruised and bloodied, but that's part of the sport and most of the fun.

Yes, on race day, floating in the water waiting for the canon to fire, I'm going to be scared to death. I'm also going to be excited beyond believe. I've never bungee jumped, or parachuted, or even cliff jumped, but I can't imagine the thrill that those bring could be more exciting than the swim start of the Ironman World Championship. I just hope I have good medical and dental coverage!

Ironman is getting close!

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