Ironman Training Week 26: June 16 – 22

This week was a big week, which seems logical. We’re five weeks to go, so I sort of should be hitting the big training this past week and this upcoming one. Now I’m just trying to figure out how to make it all fit together from here, which races to do, how to fit that with which big workouts that are left, how to get ready to go and rested at the same time, how to sort out all the details that still need to be sorted out. (Shit, I really need to get my nutrition set-up on my bike figured out.)

When I think about all the things I still have to do it seems not possible. It seems like there are so many things that can go wrong. My triathlon bike shoes have this tendency to pinch my left foot right where the bone spur is, which has gotten really big by the way and I’ll probably have to get surgery to shave it down eventually, so when I start running off the bike it’s already irritated. And, it’s an open question whether I’ll even be able to get through 26.2 miles without it becoming debilitating. So, I’m trying to figure out the best combination of shoes. And, I still can’t get the hydropack thing into the frame of the bike and the cage on the back of my bike has a tendency to eject its bottle when I hit bumps. And, man, there are just so many things.

But, then, if I just think about the training, I think ‘yeah, I can do this.’ So, we’ll see which wins out.


Swam 1,500 yards easy, with biking to and from the gym (and to a meeting, where they were a little thrown with me showing up on my bike with wet hair).


The Long Day: Rode 4:00, with about 3:10 of it reasonably uptempo — including 20′ at IM pace and another 20′ at slightly harder than IM pace. Then ran 9 miles with 7 x 1 mile, which was supposed to be 7:40-45 but were all in the 7:20s instead. By the end, it got hard. More in a legs locking up, how am I supposed to run a whole marathon, kind of way than actually hard. But, I think that’s what Ironman hard is.

Biked another 45′ or so to and from an appointment.


Holy shit I was tired. So tired. All my plans for the day had to be scratched. Swam 1,250 yards easy and did 20′ of core/PT and then some yoga and stretching.


Ran 7.5 miles at China Camp, half with Justin and Steve.


OFF. Still so tired.


Rode 116 miles, 3600 kilojoules, 8:40. The Bob.


Again, had bigger plans. But, fuck, when you’re tired, you’re tired, and you just have to give in. Swam 2,200 yards and no joke: I was swimming in the mid-1:30s. That’s like 10″/100y slower than usual. That’s a lot of seconds. It was brutal. And people were like ‘oh, it’s fine if you’re swimming slow.’ Yeah, it’s fine, but it also is probably a sign that I should get out.

Did about 15′ of yoga stuff.

TOTAL: 18:00

That’s the biggest week I’ve ever done. FYI. So watch out. Except, you know, that’s like not even that long compared to how long Ironman is going to take. Stupid Ironman.

What is Ironman Tired?

Usually when I’m on long bike rides or runs or swimming back and forth in the pool I write in my head. I write essays, brainstorm ideas, talk stream of consciousness to myself (silently), work out first drafts of stories. Lots of that stuff doesn’t make it into anything final, but it’s a process. I’m pretty sure there’s even scientific stuff that backs me up on this as related to creativity.

It wasn’t until last Saturday when I was running through China Camp and writing something in my head about casual misogyny that I realized I hadn’t done that in a long time. I hadn’t had any thoughts during workouts since definitely before my accident, possibly before going to Arizona. It’s been a long time since I was not tired enough to think anything other than ‘just a little bit more, just a little bit more, just a little bit more.’

I actually haven’t written anything outside of work since December. ‘Write everyday’ was one of my New Years’ resolutions, but I’ve just been too tired. Instead of writing or working or even thinking, I mostly just sit on the couch and watch a lot of TV. Like a lot. Like ask me anything about anything on the TV. Just don’t ask me to get off the couch.

People told me that Ironman Tired was a thing, that training for an Ironman would wear you down and out, that your life would go on hold for months, your house would be a mess and the laundry would pile up. And, I was like, ‘joke’s on you, that shit’s already true.’

And, anyway, I wasn’t even training that much. I haven’t even been training that much. My perception of Ironman Tired may be slightly distorted, since most people training for Ironmans don’t also smash their teeth out and tear a muscle in their foot. Most of my tired may be from those things and not from working towards what is on my schedule in 8 weeks from now. But, with that caveat, my tired is a slow simmering tired. It’s the kind of tired that comes after months of sleeping just not quite enough. Not that you got no sleep or even very little sleep. Not the kind of tired after an all-nighter or an early morning, but the kind that comes when you just didn’t exactly get enough sleep, so that the first day you yawn a bit and the second day you rub your eyes some and crack your neck and by the end of the first week you think you maybe should start drinking coffee and then one day, when you’re almost fully functioning and you look for all appearances like a normal person (a little rung out maybe but normal), you find yourself staring at a freeway exit or a computer screen or a wall and you’re not sure how you got there or what you’re supposed to do and you can’t remember how anyone ever did your job in the first place — where does someone even start and are you sure they won’t just pay you for staring at this computer instead?

It’s like that except that you’re actually sleeping lots. Or at least laying in bed lots.

That’s what Ironman tired has been like for me. It’s been a bit like what I’m told depression is. It’s hard to notice until one day you’re not tired anymore. You’re strong and you’re sort of skinny and, hopefully, you’ll be fast. And, extra bonus, you’ll be able to think straight too.

Ironman Training Week 22: May 19-25

There was a day last week, actually an exact moment, where I started to feel normal again. I’ve been so tired — both regular Ironman tired (or so I’m told) and smashing my teeth out tired and life/work/moving to LA tired — that I really have been slogging through workouts. And, I didn’t realize until the one day I felt normal again that I hadn’t felt normal in a long time.

It’s about damn time.

What’s funny is that up until that day I actually felt awful last week. I took multiple naps. I started workouts where everything in my body hurt and it wasn’t until an hour in that my heartrate would start to pick up. Then, I would feel fine, or at least not like death. Maybe things are starting to come around? Maybe I’m just telling myself that because they better fucking come around by Alcatraz this Sunday. Either way, I got through week three of a three-week-ish block (here are week one and two). And, it wasn’t an amazing training block. It was barely passable, but it got done. And, I’m starting to feel normal again. Not fast. But normal.


Swam 1,500 yards easy. So dead from Auburn Triathlon that I had to take a nap.


Last root canal. Had to take another nap.


OK, got to work, do some work. Watched Fast and Furious 6 as well, possibly napped.

Biked over to the high school and it straight up took me as long to bike the five miles as it usually does to run it. Then, jogged around a bit and was so tired while the kids ran their intervals on the track that I had to sit down.

Swam 5,500 yards, which started as the slowest I have swum since maybe 2008. How could I possibly do this whole swim? But, bit by bit, I got a little bit faster. It wasn’t until about 3,000 yards in that I was almost swimming normal. Not fast, but normal. Biked home.


Ran 4 miles easy with the high school kids. Then, 5 x 1000 at 10K pace (4:00/1000m). The plan was originally 10 x 1000, but hah. Even my arms hurt running easy with the kids. I was dripping sweat and wheezing from our easy run. My whole face was hurting from some kind of delayed soreness from the Tuesday root canal. I was pretty sure that even a few 1000s was going to be impossible. But, they were fine. All in the low 3:50s.

20′ of core/PT at home.


Biked to and from the ferry/office. It was not fast, but it was also not the slowest I’ve done it. About 20 miles total.


After working a high school track meet all day, I didn’t think I would feel good. I was exhausted and had eaten half a Quizno’s sandwich and some M&Ms. But, my 9 mile easy run on the China Camp trails felt great. I felt like I’m used to feeling again. And, I realized it’s been so long since I’ve run my favorite trails or zoned out on a run — while still running normal paces.

30′ of strength and core and some PT and a little bit of box jumping at the gym.

Swam 1,000 yards easy.


Biked 78 miles on the TT by myself. (Gotta work on the mental strength.) And, yes, I still need to get the stem cut and the cables redone on my bike. And, I need to figure out how to get the drink bladder into the frame and put the food box thing on and find a cage for the back of the seat that doesn’t make my bottles fall out every hour. Yes, all those things still need to happen for my bike to be race-ready. But, I rode it for 5:20 and it was fine. That’s a big step.

It wasn’t the hardest ride ever, but it was long. Long, long, long. And, it took a long time for my heartrate to go above 125, even though I was going plenty hard enough. Like it took an hour for the heartrate to go to where it should be. But, then it was fine. And, when I made the stupid stupid choice to bike all the way out to Limantour Beach, which I had never done before, and I had to turn around and come back up a long 17% grade into the insane wind out there on the coast and I thought my bike was just going to tip over, it didn’t. I made it and I was fine and the work got done.

TOTAL: 13:15

And, then, yes, obviously, I ran the 10K on Monday after the Sunday ride, which isn’t a great race plan and not something I would normally do. But, there wasn’t any way to avoid it with the overall training calendar. So, we’ll call it an Ironman workout. And, now it’s all about hard recovery for Alcatraz, then some more recovery/pickups and the Dipsea, then another three-week (actually) big block of training. And, then Ironman. So close, so far.


The Week in Numbers

How many naps I’ve taken this week? 3
How many hours I’ve trained so far this week? 2.75
How many hours I’ve sat on the couch and stared at the TV without actually watching whatever was on? 12
How many times I sat on the couch and watched Fast and Furious 6 in the middle of the day? 1
How many times I’ve thought about cleaning the bathroom? 17
How many times I’ve actually cleaned the bathroom? 0
How many times I’ve rearranged my training schedule to accommodate my messed-up-ed-ness? 7
How many windows I’ve opened on my computer to make USC plans and get totally pumped? 23
How many stickers USC sent me to put on my laptop and get totally pumped? 8
How much the plane ticket to Canada is going to cost? $375
How much money I have for the plane ticket to Canada? Less than $375
How long I’m hoping the Memorial Day 10K is going to take me? 39:50
How long the Memorial Day 10K will actually probably take me? Way longer than 40′
How many days until Alcatraz? 10
How ready am I for Alcatraz? So ready!
How ready am I really? Eh, kinda ready.

Ironman Training Week 17: April 14-20

This could be subtitled: Common Mistakes in Self-Coaching: Over-training.

I don’t usually over-train. It’s my one skill. That and having a game-day-face. Usually, I would know when I was getting too tired and I would pull back or rearrange workouts. Last week, I may have overdone it considering the fact that it was the week after I smashed my face in. I felt ok. (Actually, I didn’t feel great, but it was sort of a constant state-of-being, so I didn’t feel worse for working out). I wasn’t doing much work, but I could get through training. So, I did. Lots. But, by Sunday I was smashed and I knew it. Usually, I would have given myself a few days to recover, but I was leaving for Boston and then Chicago on Saturday, so I wanted to frontload my workouts on the week and I wanted to ride my bike a bunch — since I wouldn’t have a bike.

So, I did something I shouldn’t: I pushed through when I was too tired. And, then, I got really tired. And, then, I got so tired my heartrate wouldn’t go over 125 for my “hard long” ride. I turned around on the ride and am now trying to dig back out, let my body actually recover, remember how to run, and figure out what the hell races I should actually do, since I haven’t been able to do any of the races I’ve been signed up for so far.

(Oh, and also: work.)


Swam 1,700 yards and water ran for 15′. It was supposed to be longer, but I was tired.

20′ or so of PT, core and some yoga stuffs.


Ran 3 miles — still pretty slow, but at least it was closer to sub-8:00 pace — and drills.

Rode 25 miles on the TT bike with a few minutes of tempo, just to test it out, get used to the bike, practice. Then, rode another 15-20′ during a fit to try and figure out why I’m so damn uncomfortable on the TT bike.


Rode 48 miles (3 hours) on the TT with a teammate. It was not a great ride. I mean it was fun, but I was struggling by the end and my upper back hurt from being in aero the whole time. And, then, I realized I actually hadn’t eaten anything yet, so maybe it was no wonder my numbers sucked.

Cut the other workouts for the day.


Swam 3,100 yards at Masters. This was probably the first time I’ve been to North Bay Aquatics in two months. The workout was lots of drills and swimming without breathing and then 20 x 50y. The 50s were supposed to be descending in sets so that each set started at the same time (40″ for me), but got faster and faster. It turns out I can swim as many 50s as you want in 38″, but not so much in 35″.

Ran 5.5 miles in the hills above the trails and saw a rattlesnake in the same place I’ve seen a rattlesnake before above our house. The concerning part was that I actually had been freaking out over every stick I saw, so I got used to it always being a false alarm. Then, when I saw a big stick out of the corner of my eye, I didn’t freak out — until it started to slither. Ugh.

Biked 45′ on the trainer with a low cadence workout and drills. It was still not super great wattage and heartrate numbers, but I told myself it’s ok.

20′ of yoga and stretching.


Crossfit in the morning. But, I was struggling.

Swam 1,500 yards easy.

Started my long bike ride, but only made it an hour before turning around. I was going to do a version of Alpine Dam, but I got to the dam and started up the second climb. And, yeah, that wasn’t happening. So bad, so bad, so tired.


Flying all day


Ran 5 miles on the river path — with every other person in Boston — and did drills and strides. Then, so much walking, lots of walking.

TOTAL: 13:50

Shit, thinking about this week still makes me tired. And, now, I can’t figure out what races to do and how to re-organize my schedule and for everything to stop hurting. STOP HURTING!

How Quickly Can You Recover From Trauma?

Not quickly is the answer.

I got new temporary teeth, which took over five hours at the dentist on Friday. And after my whole face swelled and then calmed down, I actually ate some food. That was shockingly refreshing. In fact, I felt so good yesterday that I went to a TRX class and did some swimming and water running. People at the gym weren’t quite sure what to make of me. It was no longer obvious that I’d had an accident, but my lip was still swollen and cut. Mostly I looked like I might have had a lip job that went wrong.

By today I looked mostly normal. But worn out.

I may have felt too good, though, and overdone it. We had an outing planned, which turned into too much for me for the night.

This morning, I was supposed to go to an event, but when I got up for some work it became clear that I did not feel as much better as I thought I was getting. Why? Because it always takes longer to recover and deal with this kind of trauma than you think it will. Because stress is stress. Because, even if I mostly look better, it still feels like I got my face smashed in.

It’s always hard to know how hard these kinds of things are going to be to come back from. But, really, by now I should know that it’s definitely not easy. I was just hoping it’d be different this time.

The Art of Calling It

“Calling” a workout, knowing when you’re just done and need to lay down, is not easy. It is an art.

But, it’s an important art. I believe, with very little basis for this belief, that part of the reason I have, on the whole, done better coaching myself than being coached is because it’s hard for coaches who are not right there with you to make decisions about when to call a workout. Unless they happen to be crazy fast with the text/email responses — and I have sent some hysterical texts/emails. You are still the best equipped to know when you are exhausted.

There are some general rules I follow for calling it, though:

Recovery days should make you feel recovered. Yesterday was an easy day. But as I was on my bike, I felt terrible and not at all like this was easy. I decided that unless I called the workout there was no way I’d be able to run hard in the morning.

But don’t be stupid about the other recovery things. I also ate like I was a moron yesterday. This did not help. If I keep forgetting to eat lunch and then feeling awful and calling workouts I won’t be well-rested, I’ll just be out of shape.

Unless you’re a total mess, start the workout. There are days I don’t even make it out the door. Generally this has happened when there are lots of other reasons I feel wiped out: too much work, not enough sleep. Sometimes those things are just going to be too much. But, most of the time, I try to follow that 5′ rule: do it for 5′ and see how you feel. Once you get moving you often feel better than you thought and there is no need to call it. (This is not true of swimming for me. Swimming is usually a constant battle not to quit in the middle.)

Only call hard workouts if you have a really good reason. I call easy workouts all the time. (OK, not all the time.) But that’s because those are often there for recovery and if they’re not making me feel recovered then *shrug*. Hard workouts, though, the kind you only have a few times a week, you better nail those. I try to only call hard workouts if I’m a hot mess, hurt, or can’t do them. That equates to: if I’m drowning in work or life and having a breakdown (see: when Floyd died), when I have a physical injury, and when I’m just totally missing the times.

Don’t lie to yourself. This isn’t easy to get right. And I screw it up a lot. Everyone screws it up a lot, because it’s hard to do honest self-assessment. Consider the general rule that you should call a hard workout if you’re missing all the times you’re supposed to hit. What if you’re just missing them by a little, but you set them too hard in the first place? What if you’re not missing them, but you feel super awful terrible? What if that super awful terrible is how you’re supposed to feel because it’s not an easy workout? What if you’re secretly self-sabotaging because you subconsciously believe you can’t hit the times and just want to be done? Self-coaching (or, even if you have a coach and you start questioning the schedule) is constantly tinged with self-doubt. You have to know when you really are not doing something for the right reasons and when you’re just being lazy.

Like right now: I am avoiding heading out the door for my hard run. Because I’m tired and it sounds shitty. But, it’s time to go. This is not a workout I should call.

Things That Have Basically Almost Made Me Cry in the Last Two Weeks

Steve says I’m surprisingly a crier about things, to which I think I said, “Fuck you.” But, the last few weeks he may have been right. I’ve been pretty beaten up and this has led to odd bouts of wanting to break things and/or cry. And, the unmotivation combined with the training combined with the everything really has been making me want to just lay on the couch all day and watch Law and Order: SVU — though also I do that basically every Sunday.

SO, in no particular order here are things that have almost brought me to tears lately:

  • Running slow
  • Running hard (though not particularly fast)
  • The fifth draft of a 3,000-word story
  • The seventh draft
  • Lack of sleep
  • Trying to get an actual for-real quote on fixing or selling the car
  • People being mean to me on the internet
  • People being douchey in real life
  • Commercials for the Olympics
  • The follow-up questions/final draft to that 3,000-word story
  • Seriously, this story is killing me
  • My back hurting
  • My legs hurting
  • My desire for the condo to not be filled with shit combined with my desire not to have to spend time doing crap like cleaning
  • My inability to clearly understand the financial aid process
  • Things on the TV

Things I Suprisingly Did Not Cry During:

  • Crashing the car
  • Crashing my bike

**IMPORTANT CAVEAT: Let’s not all start acting like I’m super depressed now and asking me questions in real life about how am I doing with being depressed and calling my mom (or, for my mom, calling me) to talk about how we’re worried about me. Because, seriously, don’t be a moron. Or, you may get added to the list.