Ironman Training Week 25: June 9 – 15

Six weeks to go until Ironman Canada. Do I feel ready? No. Am I incredibly glad I’m not doing Ironman CDA in two weeks? Yes!

This was the first weekend I wasn’t racing in the last month or so, which was nice, but wildly unproductive too. I may be a little fatigued. The long run and long ride this week felt much longer than they should have. So, eased up a little bit to make sure I recovered and then into 3-ish weeks of hard training. I’m not really on a Monday-to-Sunday schedule right now, since weeks are arbitrary anyway. But, apparently, all the rest of the world operates on a weekly schedule, so here you go:


Swam about 10′ and then did some light yoga and rolled. So much hurting from the Dipsea.


Off. Lots of dental work.


Biked the 12 miles easy back from office, stopping at the gym.

20′ of core work, PT, etc

Swam 1,500 yards easy. Very easy.


Rode 3:40. It felt long. You want to make time stand still? Do an out-and-back based on time. If you’re heading out from a set point for 45 more minutes, it will be the slowest 45 minutes ever. It was also windy and steep and windy. At first I thought I just was sucking, but looking at my power numbers I may have also been going moderately hard overall. Did 30′ as 10′ at IM pace, 10′ at half pace, 10′ at IM pace. Then did another 10′ at IM pace at the end to see how my HR was reacting. In conclusion, my heart is weird. Who knows.

About 15′ of yoga.


Swam 3,000 yards at Masters. Went to Masters for the first time in a month or so just so I could remember what swimming fast feels like. Took me about 1,300 yards to get warmed up and then I got faster as we went. Even managed a 1:17 at the end of the workout as we descended. That makes me feel a little bit more confident about not getting slower in the pool — but also who knows, because swimming is stupid.

As a reward: did not run.


Biked 25′ easy to pick up the car.

Ran 2:14 on my favorite trail loop. It felt long. Actually, it felt totally great and fun and my most favorite run route. But, then, the last three miles or so my legs felt like they were locking up.

I was going to swim, but OH MY GOD I was so tired. Then, I was going to do a strength, PT, yoga routine, but OH MY GOD I was so tired. Did 10′ of yoga stuff.


Swam 3,700 yards at PacWest Masters. Lots of steady swimming in the mid-1:20s.

45′ of strength work at the gym. Heavy lifting, squats, kettlebells, and box jumps.

TOTAL 11:55

Yeah, I’m not really on a Monday-Sunday schedule right now. So. We’ll see how I recover into the hard workout this Tuesday, few days easy, Century next week, etc, etc.



What Is A Triathlon Training Camp Anyway?

Can you tell which one is me being "crazy."
Can you tell which one is me being “crazy.”


Whenever I’d mention to normals that I was going to team camp, they wouldn’t nod in understanding like I expect. Instead they had all these “questions” and “confusion.”

So, an explainer:

Team Camps started with actual teams — cycling teams, primarily. They’d gather in the early season (like now) to do some base, intensive training. But, also, to get to know everyone, do sponsor photos, test each other out, etc. Those teams usually have everything taken care of: housing, coaches, cooks, masseuses. It’s part of the job.

The idea obviously got picked up and grew, except triathlon teams aren’t quite the same. They don’t have the same team managers and the same team strategy, since triathlon is an individual sport. (There are also all kinds of team camps, from the local cycling team crashing at one person’s house all weekend to hyper-intense triathlon teams like Timex gathering everyone from around the country in one place.) Team camps are, understandably, relatively organized. You have a schedule and a team van and places you’re supposed to be at specific times. You test out products from sponsors for the year. And, for all that I kept saying, “No one wins camp,” people definitely want to prove they’re fast — to themselves and to directors.

The PacWest team.
The PacWest team.


The second camp I was at in Arizona was the PacWest team camp. It was a fun mix of people from the race team and from the general public team. We’d have a team meeting each morning in the lobby of the hotel everyone was staying at and we’d get loaded into two vans to head out for all the days workouts. We tested out Finis products — I’m into the strapless paddles right now — and Newton shoes and Muscle Milk recovery drinks, took lots of pictures, went out for dinner and got to know everyone, which was cool. Also, you know, we got in a decent amount of training.

Newton-sponsored running clinic.
Newton-sponsored running clinic.


Training Camps are versions of team camp. Basically, all the people who weren’t on teams were like ‘man, we should get to go on a training vacation too.’ There are lots and lots of variations on this. Some are just a group of friends holing up in a hotel for a long weekend, some are organized by one person, some are paid training camps, put on by big pros or coaches or organizations.

The thing that made me nervous about training camp #1, which was an organized training camp by Hillary, was that I didn’t know people there. Usually you’d do training camps with friends or people you know or with a team for team camp, obvs. Most of the people at Hillary’s camp were coached by her, so it was sort of a team camp, but it was open to everyone (and they said it’d be cool if I came) and it didn’t have all the regular markings of a team camp (no sponsors besides lots of Powerbar product). Everyone, mostly fast women, was actually really cool and fun to talk to and dealt with triathlon the same way I do — the stop stressing about stupid things way — but if you can’t figure out who the weirdo of the group is that means it was probably YOU!

Proof that I was, at one point, at the front of the group. Before I definitely wasn't.
Proof that I was, at one point, at the front of the group. Before I definitely wasn’t.


The main difference between the camps was that at training camp (v. team camp) you were relatively self-sufficient. Get to where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there; leave when you’re done, feed yourself, do or don’t do what you want on the schedule (or, maybe that was just me because I’m self-coached). It was supported by a friend driving a SAG car and three group leaders who all knew the area, but otherwise you needed to make sure you could deal with things on your own. Also, the weather was crazy, so we kept revising — but never cutting workouts. NEVER. It was about the same amount of training and as hard.

This picture cracks me up because it was after we had biked up Mt. Lemmon and then done a fast four mile run descending to like 6:30 pace and I had one of my “episodes” after the run. So, they were like ‘hey get in the picture’ and I was like ‘yeah, if I stand up, I’m going to pass out.’ Good times.

Oh, poor me.
Oh, poor me.


There’s lots of reasons people do these camps: because they have to, because it’s fun. At first I was sort of ambivalent on going to Arizona when it’s been 70 and sunny all winter here. Fortunately, it rained while I was gone, so it wasn’t a total waste. There’s also a benefit to going anywhere just to have uninterrupted focus on training. I was completely able to handle the load because I wasn’t trying to rush around to meetings and offices and appointments. The few hours of work I did each day did nearly kill me, however.

There also can be big fitness gains from a “crash week” — or loading a bunch of intense training back-to-back — as long as you follow it up with a good amount of recovery. It’s a high risk, high reward strategy. I’m not sure how it’ll work out in the long-run yet. I definitely got stronger, even over the course of the 10 days, and I feel much more confident about my ability to do that kind of training now, but I also hurt the arch of my right foot, so we’ll see. I’m not sure if I’ll go back to Arizona next year, but I do think I’ll definitely do another focused training getaway/weekend or camp — possibly even before IM Canada.

I'm eh about the desert, but this is sort of pretty.
I’m eh about the desert, but this is sort of pretty.

Ironman Training Week 9: Feb. 17-23

Newfound confidence this week, probably stemming from 1. having four more weeks before my Ironman now and 2. actually doing a lot of training without sucking at it.

I’ve finally stacked a number of solid weeks on top of each other, which add up to one of the most high-volume and solid blocks of training in a long time. Of course, this also means I’m nearly constantly on the verge of exhaustion and injury. As is the custom. So, let’s all keep our fingers crossed I don’t, like, become incapable of walking. Also, the amount of training and focus on this whole Ironman thing has made getting other stuff done — ie. work — challenging, though also the problem may really just be that I AM OWED A LOT OF MONEY. And, life crises, etc, etc.


Rest. And worked in the city while everyone else was skiing and President’s Daying or whatever people do on these fake holidays.


Rode an hour easy on the dirt with my road bike. Was going to swim, but called it. Did a video yoga routine instead. Except, honestly, I’m too lazy to even watch the video on the TV, so I try to just remember it from before and watch Law and Order instead.


Ran 9 miles or so as: jog to track, 2 x 1.5 miles descending each 800m, 8 x 200m fast-like, jog home. The 1.5 miles were semi-successful. The goal was to descend, so that it went first 800m in 3:20, next in 3:10, then 3:00. I did 3:17, 3:08, 3:02, which is close enough that I considered it basically the same. But, the second one was not even sort of the same: 3:16, 3:11, 3:08. Oops. Of course, even after I supposedly COULD NOT POSSIBLY RUN ANY FASTER, I still managed to run all the 200s in 39-41 seconds. Why? Because, in comparison to Ironman athletes, speed is definitely not my weakness. Muscular endurance? That’s more of a problem.

In the later afternoon/evening I biked the 15′ over to the gym, did 20′ of core and PT work. Then, swam 2,500 yards. For some reason the set I decided to write myself was IM 75s (ie. 100 IM but minus the last 25 yards of free). Not sure why I did that, but it was relatively exhausting.


Rode 3:00 in the morning, around Nicasio Reservoir, out to Point Reyes Station and back. It’s about 43 miles, give or take, and I rode it a steady up-tempo pace. I didn’t throw any hard efforts or low-cadence work in because I figured my legs were shot enough and you can’t beat them down all the time. Most of the ride was actually spent trying to figure out why my right leg, despite appearing to be straight on my bike, gets a pinched nerve from the seat the longer I ride and starts to shoot pain down my hamstring/calf. It is incredibly frustrating. [In my other life, the one where I make money, I’ve also been working on a story for months about West Marin and Pt. Reyes and stuff. It’s been a very, very, very long project. I hadn’t been through the actual town of Pt. Reyes for probably a month or two and just riding through town made me want to start punching a pillow or screaming in the shower or shaking a baby or whatever people do to relieve stress. So, good times.]

Crossfitted in the evening with so many squats. All the squats.

Then, swam 1,000 yards easy and sat in the hot tub.


Ran 2.5 miles at something under 9:00 pace. It was supposed to be 4-6 miles, plus drills. But, oh man, that wasn’t happening.

Swam 3,000 yards with the main set as 3 x [5 x 100 steady tempo]


Rode around 36 miles with Steve. The only real goal was to get in some decent miles and have tired legs for –>

Ran 6.5 miles with 4 x 3′ at 6:30 pace, except really it was 6:22 pace one direction and 6:30 pace the other. Why? Because false flats are amazing.


Swam 3,900 at PacWest practice with lots of pulling and 200s and 250s and some really shitty butterfly.

Followed that right up with a dehydrating 1:52 trail run. OK, yes, I should have brought water with me and I actually had an empty handheld water bottle in the car. But, in my defense, I was running from the high school, down the bike path, to the trailhead where there are bathrooms and stables and lots of people, then down the trail past a picnic area. Most of the time, at least around here, those things would mean there’d be water spickets. (Which, by the way, WordPress is not recognizing as a word, but then it didn’t recognize WordPress as a word either. So, not exactly foolproof.) However, evidently, this was not good logic this time around. There was no water. I also ended up running way farther up, up, up the Coastal Trail than I intended and then, at that point, it’s faster to just keep going around the loop. By 1:30 into the run I was trying to see if it really is possible to drink your own spit by swallowing. But — and here is the big difference between this training block and times in years past when I would have just laid down on the side of the trail — I finished the run. And, then I wanted a smoothie. But, the Whole Foods right there doesn’t sell smoothies. So, instead, I bought the biggest Odwalla you’ve ever seen. Drinking over 600 calories of Odwalla after a surprisingly hot, sunny run is not a recipe to feeling awesome. In case you were wondering.

TOTAL: 16:05

Thursday I’m leaving for Training Camp 1 of 2. In which we cram this training volume into four days and then I break for three days and do it again. There’s a pretty good chance I won’t make it. Or, that it would be stupid to make it. I’m resting hard right now and then going to do my best to be smart. And, to remember that winning camp doesn’t matter. But, I’m not entirely pessimistic, which is saying a lot.

Ironman Training Week 8: Feb 10-16

It probably says something about the volume I generally maintain that this week was close to one of my biggest weeks ever. 14:40 is not really that big volume, especially not for Ironman triathletes. But, I’m not a big volume person, so I almost always averaged more like 12-14 hours. The fact that I’m handling not just the slightly higher volume, but that I’m also able to build on it and that it’s not easy shit volume but is mostly quality, makes me feel relatively good about where I’m at. And, my body is holding up better than I would have hoped. I’m exhausted, sure, but then I recover. Like how it’s supposed to work.


OFF. I considered swimming. I also considered running. But, it was a rest day.


Biked 38 miles via my favorite Marin cycling route. Rode it moderately hard, averaging like 140-something watts before I started the descent, particularly pushed the two 20′ climbs, and it was possibly the first time I’ve done that whole ride under three hours. Also, in case anyone was wondering: Ridgecrest is closed to cars because of a mudslide. (I suppose technically it’s closed to bikes too. And, not that I’m a rulebreaker — except I totally am — but theoretically if you went around the gate and rode it on a Tuesday morning it’d be amazingly empty with awesome views.)

Swam 1,000 yards easy. And did a short yoga routine in the evening.


Ran 9 miles with 4 miles or so progressing tempo. I think I ran them as like just under 8:00, 7:38, 7:19, 7:03, or something. I was dying though. 7:03 does not equal current marathon pace. And, then, my left calf did this weird seizing up/feeling like it’s ripping thing that it does sometimes.

TRX class right after that run was Rough. I definitely sort of faked my way through it.

Then, swam 1,200 yards easy. Super easy.


Biked 20 miles to the ferry, to the KQED office and back. Overall it was an easy pace (like 90W), but some of it was quite spirited — of the ‘agh, going to miss the ferry’ variety.


Sometimes you have to know when to call it. It’s an art. I had planned to swim. But, then, Steve had the car, so I thought I’d bike to the JCC. Except somewhere in my head I decided it’d make more sense to get in an easy run and just run to the JCC. Then, as I headed out the door I realized it’s not exactly 2.5-3 miles each way; it’s like 4 miles each way. And, then, as I ran, I also realized I felt like shit. Called it. Instead, ran a 4 mile easy loop around the mall and then did a Yoga routine and stretched and rolled.


Ran 2:00 on the trails (my favorite Marin run) with Ilyce, which was probably around 14 miles. I have no idea, though. I didn’t wear a GPS. It wasn’t that kind of run. And, I felt surprisingly fine. Tired. But, no pain or problems. Massive relief.

Followed that up with light core and light lifting. And, swam 1,600 yards easy.


Swam 3,300 yards with PacWest. It was not my most amazing swimming ever, but I did it. Lots of 200s in the low 2:50s. EVERYONE was at the Tam pool on Sunday morning. Basically, if you’re a triathlete in Marin, then you were there.

Biked 19 miles from Tam around Paradise Drive, moderately easy around 110W and doing some cadence drills — ie. low and high cadence.

Then, followed the bike with a short 30′ run — 10′ easy then 8 x 1′ hard, 1′ easy. It was supposed to be 10 x 1′ but, well, close enough.

TOTAL: 14:40