Ironman Training Week 30: July 14 – 20

Week 30 is really the last week of training (since this week is RACE WEEK!?!!). That makes just about seven-and-a-half months of training. It’d be hard to screw it all up in a week after more than seven months, but I’m definitely worried that’s what I’m doing. This past week was not ideal. Now I feel sluggish and antsy and tired and slow and fat and ready to be done with this already.

That’s pretty much how you should be feeling, but it’s a hard line to walk.

Monday

Rode about 12 miles to an appointment and back, since our car was still broken. Shit did not feel good. My knee’s been bothering me biking, so I tried to change my cleats, but that evidently just made everything worse.

Swam about 1,000 yards open water at the clinics I teach Monday night. By the time I got home, my left knee was really painful and swollen.

Tuesday

Like what the fuck is wrong with my knee. Couldn’t do anything.

Wednesday

Swam 2,800 yards at Masters. Then, some light yoga and rolling. Still resting my knee some.

Thursday

Rode 37 miles around the reservoir to test out the bike and the hydration system and fuel box. Since changing the cleats on my bike shoes was not productive, I put them back the way they were before. It mostly worked. My knee still hurt really bad a few times, but better. I felt pretty fast and strong, but my watts were insanely low in the end. So, who knows.

Friday

Swam 3,000 yards with a few hard 50s and then a whole lot of tempo 100s. I am not swimming amazing these days. But, I’m telling myself that it’s because I’ve lost speed and gained endurance. That’s what I’m telling myself.

Saturday

Ran something a bit under 5 miles on trails with some of the guys at the wedding.

Sunday

Trying to move from the bed to the car was enough of a workout.

TOTAL: 6:25

Not really as much training as I had intended or hoped to do. Hopefully, still enough.

Ironman Training Week 29: July 7 – 13

Ugh. UGH. UGHHHHHH!!!!!

I know how to taper. I’m actually quite good at it. It’s one of the few reasons I’m able to perform better than my training would suggest. But, this taper is killing me. It isn’t even really a taper. It’s been more like: exhausted, rest, rest, try to jump start and still get some training in because it’s not like the race is this weekend, feel a little hurt, rest more, worry, worry, worry.

I finally realized that the problem (or at least some of the problem) is that I can’t do my usual winging it with an Ironman. I have to actually have a plan and think things through in advance. There are a lot of small things that can go wrong in an Ironman — basically all the things — and there’s a pretty good chance some of them will. So, you have to try and minimize those things, because fuck, it is going to suck if something small turns into something big after 10 hours and ruins all this work. That means I’ve mostly been stressing about things I usually wouldn’t bother to think about.

Not racing Sunday also means I didn’t burn any matches or whatever your metaphor of choice is. I’m wired now and edgy and ready to go, but also feeling fat and stupid. Oh, and my left knee swelled up last night. It hurts to bend right now, so I’m back to putting all my faith in ice and Flector patches. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday

Biked 12.5 miles on the TT with one set of 1′ at 190W, 3′ at 170W, 5′ at 140W, short rest, then some hard one minute efforts to try it open up the legs.

Light core work, PT, and yoga when I got home.

Tuesday

Ran 2:40 (which I think was around 19 miles on trails). Yes, this was my longest run and I actually intended it to be longer, but I covered the ground faster than I thought? Maybe. Or, I did bad math. My long runs do not feel good. I last about 1:30 and then my left leg starts to hurt. My left leg is going to be my un-doing. The terrible bone spur that got irritated almost over a year ago has just gotten bigger. Sometimes it hurts; sometimes it doesn’t. But, I’m subconsciously running on the outside egde of that foot to ease the issues. And, I’ve always had problems with my left hamstring/IT band/ankle. So, will my left leg make it through a marathon? Who knows.

Wednesday

Swam 2,800 yards, including a 1,000 yards for time — which was 42 seconds slower than last time, but I may have done an extra 50 yards. Who knows.

Thursday

Fuck, I was tired. My sister left around noon, after visiting for three days, and I took a nap.

Friday

Biked 43 miles on the TT around Pt. Reyes with 3 x 10′ at Ironman pace. It felt ok, but my left knee was hurting a lot by the end, so I decided to change the wedges under that shoe. This may have been a mistake.

Ran 3.5 miles with 2 x mile at 7:08 or so. I meant to run more. I meant to do a lot of stuff this week, but I was tired and worn out.

Yoga and rolling out the legs.

Saturday

Swam 1,800 yards shittily.

Sunday

Did not race Tri for Real.

After making it home and taking a nap, I couldn’t figure out how to replace the race. Ultimately, I rode about 16.5 miles on the TT with 10′ at threshold/Olympic distance race pace (which was quite hard, since I haven’t done that in two months), then did a full-out effort up Lucas Valley hill just because, and a slightly faster than tempo effort back through the valley. It all felt pretty hard.

Swam 1,000 yards with some HARD 25s, or rather 22 yards since that’s how long our complex pool is, and some short race tempo.

Light core and PT, with the hope that maybe that will help fix some of the imbalances and problems I’m having this week now. Tried to roll and yoga too.

TOTAL: 10:15

AGHHHHHHH!!

Ironman Training Week 28: June 30 – July 6

Last night, I ended up pouring over all my training logs and race reports from this spring as some sort of way to remind myself that I’ve put in the work and can go fast when the mood strikes. Of course, it also reminded me that I was a mess three months ago and it’s a little amazing this trainwreck ever got back on the track.

So, that was productive.

After reading all the training I’ve done, I then spent all night trying to decide what I should do for my last hard race, shakeout thing before IM Canada. I’d been planning on Tri for Real, but that was sounding shitty. Then, I thought about doing the 5K in San Rafael, but that sounded a different kind of shitty. Then, I concocted different schemes to do my own time trials to test my bike set up and my legs and why my arms feel so heavy. All at 1 a.m. last night.

Unsurprisingly, I had another crap workout this morning. I’m pretty sure I was swimming with those stupid leg weights tied onto my legs and arms. Invisible ones. Reading last night also reminded me there were two brief weeks in mid-March when I was swimming stunningly fast, faster than I’ve ever swum. That was nice.

This somehow inspired me to go home and sign up for Tri for Real. Logically.

That makes this officially a taper. Last week was a rest and recovery from the last big training block. This week was supposed to be the start of my two week taper. That taper’s so far included my longest run to date (which the rereading my training logs reminded me I hadn’t done) and me feeling like shit. Hopefully, tomorrow snaps me out of that.

Monday

Swam 800 yards easy and some yoga after the super hard all-day workout.

Tuesday

REST

Wednesday

Biked 18 miles in the morning before biking over to the fair and working all day — where yes I did eat crappy fair food and it was disappointing. The bike was not really anything, just a moderate ride on the TT.

Swam 1,000 yards easy in the evening.

Thursday

TRX class after the fair, followed by:

Swimming 1,400 yards moderately. I don’t know what your YMCA is like, but mine is like this. I am used to being the fastest person in the pool at the Y. So, I jumped in and started sharing a lane with a nice-looking 13-year-old girl. When I flipped turned I realized she was passing me — dolphin-kicking on her back. She then proceeded to lap me, repeatedly. It was alarming.

Friday

Accidental rest day, more working at the fair.

Saturday

Biked 25 miles up in the mountains. Like up, up. It was a long climb and then a long descent and then some wondering where I was exactly. Oh, and also some wheezing. As if there was less air. I had to take a nap afterwards.

Swam 1,700 yards or something tangentially across the lake. Steve swam with me, or near me until I dropped him. It was a nice, clear lake, but I forgot there are motor boats on the lake. So that was fun.

Sunday

Steve decided to take the previous day out on me during our run around the lake. Or else he didn’t quite believe me when I said I can’t breathe in the mountains when running. Oh, and also, my stupid left toe bone spur has been making trails hard and my ankle has been weak since falling during the Dipsea. All in all, it meant that I was having to pay close attention to my footing and working hard to not fall and also struggling to breathe, which made it harder to pay attention and not fall. It was an exhausting 5.5 mile run.

Swam another 1,000 yards easy in the lake.

TOTAL: 7:10

Alright, no freaking out tonight. Maybe.

The Real Problems with a Taper

So many athletes complain about tapering before a race, that they get all antsy and can’t sit still and MUST. GYM. GO. This makes no sense. Do you people not own a TV? Or a computer? Or a library card? Come on, learn to lounge like a professional.

The real problem with the taper is that you can only screw it up.

The last week or two before a race, there’s no workout you can do that’s going to win it, there’s no fitness you can really gain, nothing magic that’s going to happen. The work is done. All you can do in the last week or two before a race is screw it all up. You can only get hurt or sick or not sleep enough or not eat enough. You can’t win the race in the taper, but you can definitely lose it.

Welcome to my super cheerful thought process and why I generally try not to think too hard.

CIM is on Sunday. At this point, I probably haven’t screwed it up. (Ahh, jinx, jinx!) But, I’m also not 100% sure about that. My goal is under 3:10, which is like sub-7:10 pace, which feels significantly not easy in workouts. Two months ago I would have said my goal was more like 3:04, but then my stupid toe started hurting and I had to not run for a week and the world ended. On the other hand, I’m still in significantly better shape than I was at Chicago last year when I ran a 3:17 off of like two tempo runs that whole training cycle. So, as long as my toe/bone spur/messed-up foot stays in in the dull ache category and doesn’t move into the sharp knives kind of pain, I should run somewhere between a 3:04 and 3:17. Maybe.

And, in the vein of ‘things you should be doing during your taper,’ yesterday when I was looking for the gif I wanted of a kid failing at swimming, instead I found lots and lots of gifs of animals swimming — because what do I have to do besides spend an hour looking at cat gifs. I’m pretty sure I can teach Tupac the Cat how to do this, right after I teach him to stop running out the door and into the bushes every time someone comes home:

Pre-Race Shopping

Before big races, almost exclusive of what kind of taper or training I’m doing, I tend to get even lazier than I naturally am, having to work up the energy for the most minimal of workouts, and even more ambitious in my plans for what I’ll do just as soon as this episode of Law and Order: SVU finishes — the plans generally involve major life changes, fellowships, books, TV pilots. Also, I tend to go shopping.

Usually when I go shopping it’s because I like buying some fancy new thing for a race – because I already have race shorts and strong opinions about what you wear when you run fast. Buying something new for a race makes me feel special and important, just like any good woman in commercials. But, there’s also an part of it that’s just about the act of going to the mall. It’s where I go when I’m bored or stressed or anxious or bored or simply, in some way, want to feel the anonymity of being one of millions of people around the country also trying to solve their problems through purchase. The day Floyd died, after I finally got up off the couch, I put on a sweatshirt to go with my sweatpants and a huge pair of sunglasses, so I wouldn’t look crazy from all the crying, and went to the mall. (While at Kohl’s, in that outfit – complete with sunglasses indoors, a woman started quizzing me about if she could wear such-and-such pair of pants or if they were just for teenagers. Lady, no you shouldn’t wear them, but there aren’t really laws about this kind of thing unfortunately, and what about how I look suggests that I work here or that you should be asking me stuff?)

So, like usual, this week I have wanted to go shopping — looking for that undefined thing that I know I’m looking for, but can’t put my finger on. Shockingly, I’ve been having no luck. I don’t believe in trying things on and I have no patience, so I’ve walked in and out of stores, pronouncing everything ugly and sucky in a under a minute. I even walked in and out of Barnes and Noble. Twice.

Finally, I bought this new race tanktop from Northface:

It's FINE.
It’s FINE.

And, it’s ok (it may even be totally great for racing), but it’s not exciting and it just didn’t quell my pre-race shopping needs. Instead, I went to Target and bought nude heels. Which, obviously, I’m totally going to use for Boston.

Race shoes.
Race shoes.

And, now, tomorrow Steve heads off on some big trip and, then, Saturday I head to Boston. And, hopefully, by then, the cortisone shot will have fully taken effect — it’s sort of working so far? I dunno — and I’ll stop feeling antsy, or just a little antsy, and I’ll be ready to race Monday morning and then I will start drinking. Hmm, maybe I can go shopping in Boston…

Tapering: The Art of Doing Less

It is officially taper time, defined as the time before a race when you do less stuff. Of course, it’s hard to do less than nothing, so I don’t know if I’m really tapering like a pro right now. Ideally, a race taper does a couple things:

  • Gives you a break somewhere between five days and two weeks before a peak race.
  • Reduces your training volume, generally, by half.
  • Keeps a handful of short, intense efforts in the training to get the blood flowing.
  • Lets you rest and ‘sharpen the sword.’

‘Sharpen the sword’ is Steve’s phrase, not mine. It means fine-tuning. It also implies getting by on less than ideal fitness, as in ‘I’m going to do this triathlon with only a handful of times in the pool to sharpen the sword.’

That’s pretty much my motto. I’m going to rest and get my foot better and hit the start line at Boston sharp as, well, a sword.

Today’s Boston Photo Challenge is also #taper, so here is my photo. This is what a taper should look like:

OK, actually that's from Mexico last year. But, fun fact, all-inclusive resorts usually give you as many drinks as you want in tiny little cups, but if you ask them just to fill up a bike water bottle they'll do it. And, then you don't have to go back-and-forth from the beach every 20 minutes.
OK, actually that’s from Mexico last year. But, fun fact, all-inclusive resorts usually give you as many drinks as you want in tiny little cups, but they’ll fill up your bike water bottle with margarita if you ask. And, then you don’t have to go back-and-forth from the beach every 20 minutes.

I’m letting you know that’s what it should look like, because a lot of people do this wrong. For some reason, most athletes hate tapers, because it involves time off of training and, generally, a feeling of restlessness and inadequacy. These people are stupid. Taper is just shorthand for having more free time. Are you really so Type A you can’t deal with free time? Let me give you some pointers:

Step 1: Buy a TV
Step 2: Turn it on.
Alternative Step 1: Pick up a book.

If you’re like super ambitious, then you can always do laundry too or make a doctor’s appointment. Or, you can do my laundry and make my doctor’s appointments, because I’m busy watching TV.

During tapers, I typically: 1. Watch TV, 2. Work, 3. Read (sometimes I do all three of those at the same time and it goes badly), or 4. Shop. Actually, usually, I just talk a lot about how shocked I am that I ever get more stuff done with less time, because where did all the free time go? I also start obsessively reading all the details about the upcoming race and judging everyone on the internets and moaning about how I ran such-and-such loop 30″ slower than I did two weeks ago, I’m going to do terrible, because I’m slow and I suck and I’m never going to be as good as what’s-her-name and everyone online is better than me, etc, etc.

And, then I go back to drinking wine and watching TV. Actually, I do that always, not just during tapers.