Ironman Training Week 7: Feb. 3-9

Apparently we are 20 weeks to go now. According to this email Ironman sent me:

Let's all say it together: Ewwww.
Let’s all say it together: Ewwww.

That definitely stressed me out. 20 is not a big enough number of weeks left. But, I’m actually making good progress I think. I think. I don’t know. No one can tell me. Last week was the start of another block of training and I’m upping the volume some now, which will probably hit its peak in March and April. I also fully intend to explain at some point, as soon as I have time, why I am training for Ironman by doing 2-3 hour rides. There is a plan. There is always plan.


Biked 37.5 miles in 2:30 with 2 x 10′ at 175 watts. Solid ride overall. I intended to do more and some cadence/drill work, but my heartrate was doing crazy stuff. It’s not entirely clear if it was my heart or the heartrate strap. Partially, when your heartrate is 60 as you’re riding that has to be a malfunction or wouldn’t you be, you know, DOING WELL. It started to go up during the tempo, but still stayed low. And, it was the day after I had a weird episode while swimming. So, didn’t push it too hard.

Did some light yoga and stretching. Then, Crossfit with Nate and the high school kids in the afternoon — with so many squats, all the squats.


Swam 3,000 yards with a broken 1,500 yards as the main set. Held 1:25s throughout it, which isn’t bad. ‘Not bad’ is our motto for training right now.

Ran 5.5 miles easy in the evening in the dark. I should have done drills, but I didn’t. That’s our second theme for the week.


Ran a bit over 9 miles as: warm-up to the track, then 1 mile tempo, 6 x 800 descending every two, then 1 mile tempo. I killed it. Totally rocked it in everything I did on Wednesday — wrote four articles and nailed this workout. What. Did the first mile in 6:35, which isn’t really tempo at all, but things go faster on the track. Then 800s as 3:12, 3:13, 3:07, 3:07, 2:59, 3:02. Then, another mile at 6:38. Aren’t you proud of me? I’m proud of me.

And what did I do as a reward? Didn’t swim.


Crossfit in the evening, which was a lot of pull-ups and stuff. It was killing me.

Swam 1,250 yards easy. That was supposed to be a long swim workout, but my right arm was doing a crazy seizing up thing. I mean crazy, where I couldn’t even hold onto the kickboard. What do you do then? You call it.


I switched the Thursday and Friday workouts because of the rain, so I ended up riding 25.5 miles on Friday. And, I still got soaking wet. Stupid/necessary rain. It was a struggling ride and not what I’d been hoping for. Then, I did a yoga video and some PT in the evening.


Ran 3 miles and strides in the pouring rain. Again, did not do drills.

Swam 1,100 yards with some hard pickups that were actually fast. Maybe I’m getting fast. Not too bad.


Two mile RACE! Ran about 5.5 miles total with warming up and cooling down. By the time being race director was all finished I was in no condition to make it to the gym to swim. It seems that happens a lot.

TOTAL: 11:50

Yeah, I need to swim more. I also need to not drop drills every time I get tired or time-crunched. But, on the whole, what’s our motto? Not too bad.

Ironman Training Week 6: Jan. 27-Feb. 2

Yeah, yeah, it’s Wednesday. There’s a segment of the blogging internet that believes you should post something every day. I tried that for most of the first year of Sunny Running. I’m not sure I believe in it. Also, I do believe that I have other work to do. But, I should be more on top of things. So, we’ll add that to the list of New Year’s resolutions.

Last week was a rest week. It was supposed to be a rest 3-5 days. But, then my body sort of crapped out on me and I had the last of my journalism school apps due on Friday. And, it just sort of became a really easy work. Ah well. Isn’t the resting when you’re actually getting fitter? Right?


Biked about 20 miles easy to the ferry IN THE DARK and then to the KQED office and then back the other way in the evening — again in the dark. I generally wear cycling clothes and change at work, so it’s an actual ride at paces ranging from leisurely to ‘oh shit, I’m going to miss the boat.’ But, still, there’s a certain amount of dicking around and coasting that happens riding through the city, etc. On the way back, I didn’t really feel like changing into tights, so I just wore my skinny jeans the whole ride home. They’re basically the same thing.


OFF. I have no recollection of what I actually did, except that it didn’t involve as much work as it should have.


Yoga class in the morning and 1,200 yards of easy swimming.


Ran 4 miles in the hills above my house easy. Did 20′ of very light core and PT work. In case you were wondering this almost always involves: a combination of different kinds of sit-ups totalling generally around 100, leg raises, bridges (one-legged and otherwise), hamstring curls on a ball, clamshell PT exercises, planks of varying lengths and on each side, push-ups, squats (one-legged and normal), wall sits, side-stepping with band around ankles and then usually some balance and foot strength stuff. What exactly of this I do exactly depends on my feelings that day and sometimes it includes other stuff too I throw in.


Swam 2,050 yards at Masters. It was a low-key Masters day and they were preparing for a race next weekend, so in classic Masters fashion I spent a good amount of the workout practicing my turns and block starts. Something I totally need for Ironman obviously. I was 1 for 3 in not losing my goggles on the dive. The 1 was my first one. Then I started thinking about it.


My body fell apart sometime Friday. It was awful. My hip flexor was all messed up, my knee, my back. I don’t know what happened. I ran a very hobbling 9-something miles on Saturday on hilly trails with eight hill sprints in the middle. Then, did drills and strides in the grass.


It rained! This was good/crazy. It also blew my plans for riding three hours. I am NOT riding the one day it rains in six months. Instead, did this Yoga for Triathletes video.

Swam 1,500 yards easy. It was supposed to be more, but my heart started doing some crazy stuff in the middle and I couldn’t catch my breath. That pretty much never happens swimming. So, I got out and ended up spending an hour fighting the Safeway Super Bowl crowds, still having a hard time breathing right.

TOTAL: 6:45


Ironman Training Week 3: Jan. 6-12

Oh yeah, right, workouts and stuff. I had a rough few days/weeks/whatever and I went into a funk Sunday and Monday. We have medical insurance that would cover my injuries from the accident, but what was I going to get treated for? General malaise? Then, the last two days have been packed with work, since it turns out that if you already had things piling up and then you don’t do anything for 48 hours it starts to add up — and then I got an extra last-minute assignment to deal with.

So, right. Working out.

Last week was what I’d consider the first real week of training. Week 1 and Week 2 were supposed to be prep, easing into things weeks, which they sort of were. But, they were also weeks of me having the flu and being sick and coughing so hard I threw up. Last week then was better than that. And, then, you know, IT REALLY WASN’T.


Rest day. Went to weird stretching Feldenkreis class.


Swam 2900y during lunch break of the never-ending jury duty. I was actually really proud of myself for rushing across the street, swimming, rushing back and eating a sandwich in the hall outside the courtroom. Swim workout was mostly steady 300s, 200s, 100s. Not fast. I am NOT fast right now in the pool.

20′ or so of core and PT.


Biked about 25 miles significantly more uptempo than the rides I did the last two weeks, plus 8 x 2′ big ring hill efforts. Did not even need to stop and blow my nose or choke coughing. This was a big deal. Followed by some yoga and stretching routine.

Did not swim because it was late and dark and cold.


Ran just under 7 miles with a massively failed try at some hard efforts. Managed one 3′ effort and three 1′ false starts.

Crossfit in the evening, with lots of arm work and benching, etc. And, per usual, the Crossfit coach was flummoxed by me because I can’t lift almost anything over my head. But, I can lift that tiny amount lots and lots of times without tiring. So, they say, do a heavier weight. No. I reach failure before the workout is even over. It’s like they can’t understand that the limiter is not my aerobic abilities.


Ran five miles in the morning with Steve. It was supposed to be easy and it mostly was, but Steve needs to work on running easier.

Swam 1,550y easy in the evening — even though Friday evening workouts suck.


Biked about 26 miles in the rain. What rain you say? There was no rain this weekend, you say? Yes, well, there was only rain at the one place I drove to in order to ride. Evidently I am stupid. Rode up a long, long climb, which was really bad to come down, and then out along the edge of Tomales Bay. Good, solid two hour steady ride, but exhausting.

Then, crashed the car and tried to do a little yoga and stretching after but laid on the floor of the living room mostly.



Everything got cut because of the car crash. No running, no swimming, no even putting on regular clothes.

TOTAL: 9:15

I’m hoping the string of circumstances that have led to me cutting things and not being totally on schedule are over now. Of course, as I say that I’m over an hour late on when I planned to do my run workout today that was originally supposed to be yesterday, but I had to finish assignments first.

Also, I am in a bad mood because of this. Really don’t mess with me.

Training Week: Dec. 2-8

This is what I did last week, not that you should copy what I did, since I massively failed at the whole point — running fast when it was time to run fast. For the next two weeks I will not be doing much of anything, since it’s my official 1-2 week off-season break before diving into IM training at the end of the month. At that point, I will put this all behind me and we will start over with a blank slate — except a blank slate that is still sort of fit. Right?


Ran 7 miles with 2 x 2 miles at marathon race pace, except actually the first two were 6:52, 6:56. So, then I tried to make sure the second two-miler was exactly on pace — 7:03, 7:06. But, it was concerningly not easy. I tried not to worry about this.


Ran 4ish miles very easy. Actually ran it as a tour of my old Chicago neighborhood and went by my old house.


Light Crossfit workout. Which sounds stupid. But, basically just ignored directions that said “heavy weight” and used the whole thing as a sort of up-tempo effort to shake things out.


Rode 1:00 easy. One of these days was supposed to be swimming, but it’s too cold for swimming.




Ran 4 miles easy with four or five hard pick-ups and two minutes at race pace.


The personal marathon disaster.

Now, I’m alternating between moping and eating too many cookies to mope. We’ll see how I feel at the end of two weeks or so.

Training Week: Nov. 25-Dec. 1


This last week was the first taper week before CIM or the last real week of training or Thanksgiving, depending on your point of view. As such, I did what any logical person would do: short, fast, and rest.


Rode about 1:05 easy to and from the high school and home and the running store to buy new shoes, obviously, to solve all my problems. Ran 4.5 miles what was supposed to be easy with the high school boys, but they were in a mood, so it was relatively quick.


If you read my Twitter, you know I was not excited about what my high school boys decided to do for Tuesday. We met at 6 a.m. in the dark and cold on the high school track for their last hard(ish) workout before the state meet on Saturday. It was so dark that when they started doing their 600s, they kept yelling at me across the track: ‘Can you see us, Kelly??’

After doing some of their warm-up and cool-down, I did my own track workout: 1 mile at 6:38 (supposed to be marathon pace, but marathon pace feels crazy slow on a track, like no one should run that slow on a nice smooth track), then 5 x 800m at 3:01, 3:01, 3:02, 3:00, 3:03, then another mile at “marathon pace” — actually 6:42, which is definitely not my marathon pace.


Ran 4 miles easy along the Chicago River near my parent’s house. My face was so cold I wanted to claw my eyes out.


Turkey Day 5K. 19:44 — not too good, not too bad.


Off. Partially to visit family and partially to properly prepare for the high school reunion in the evening. Oh, and partially, because it was a good day to rest.


Swam 2,000 easy, which felt good for about 800y and then definitely did not feel good. Then, did about 30′ or so of TRX and light core work, etc — mostly telling Steve how to use the TRX.

On a side note: If you need a gym in Chicago, the Lincoln Square Athletic Club is a winner. It’s part of a chain in Chicago, but I can’t speak about the other ones. I only went to this one is because it’s new and it’s by my parents. It’s nice, mostly because it’s new and not because it’s really fancy, but what was really impressive is that it had all the stuff. You know how most gyms have fancy weight machines, but don’t have basic yoga elastic bands for people to use. Or, they have stationary bikes that connect to your iPhone, but they only have one size of kettlebell. This place had all the stuff. We did some TRX on straps that were out for anyone to use and some core work on Bosu balls and stabilizing platforms and then Steve did some yoga work and I did some light weights. And, then, and this was the kicker for me: I took a shower in one of those overhead waterfall showers. Eventually, my life will be complete when I’m able to install one of those in my own house.


Ran 10 miles along the lakefront, with Steve accompanying me for some of it — something he regrets now. Easy, but with some slightly uptempo miles in the middle. Mostly, though, I average 7:50s (which is fast for me for an easy run) because it’s just so damn flat in Chicago. Also, it was downright pleasant out, having warmed up to the high-30s.

TOTAL: 6:55


Training Week: Sept. 30 – Oct. 6

I really don’t have time to blog much, which is sort of lame because sort of lame people always say that (and also it kills my traffic). But, things just are busy and tired and busy and lots of big plans in my head. That also means I don’t have a ton of time to train. So the planned light week got very light and that just is what it is.

I’m sort of down about it, but I guess that’s not going to help.


Swam 1300y easy, recovery from Santa Cruz. Tired. So tired.


7 miles running easy (hilly – but easy) with high school kids


9 miles with 5 x 5′ at slightly faster than marathon pace with 1′ jog between each. I ended up doing these NOT at marathon pace — or, rather, if that IS my marathon pace then well, shit! (As in: that would be awesome.) Instead, ran 7:00, 6:44 (oops), 6:54 (actually the hardest because there was a hill in the middle), 6:46, 6:49. It felt fine, but I was wiped out the rest of the day. About 10-15′ of core after.


Biked 14 miles easy on my way home.


Weird day. Got up early to swim before going into work in the afternoon. But, I woke up all dizzy and freezing and feeling like I was getting sick. I never warmed up while swimming, so I cut it short to just 1000y. But, still didn’t warm up. Was so cold, I dressed crazy warm and then it was super hot all day. Ridiculous.


Pacific Association Cross-Country Race. They’re all sort of the same. They’re all sort of hard. I really, really wasn’t feeling it and could tell it wasn’t my day from the first long uphill stretch in sand. There was also a big fire and lots of smoke on Friday, so I had been worried about breathing. By Saturday, it wasn’t that smoky, but it wasn’t good either. In the end, I felt awful and I did basically the same time as last year. Not sure what that means.


Spontaneous rest day. Got Biggie the Cat — which isn’t turning out well. Everyone keeps saying to keep Biggie and Tupac separate, but we just don’t have that much space or that many rooms with doors. So, it’s been rough.

TOTAL: 5:45. OOPS!

Sigh. Double sigh.

What Are the Problems with Coaching Yourself?

There are a lot of reasons to get a coach. I’ve heard people hate on getting a coach if you’re not a super crazy fast professional, like why hire someone to direct you for a “hobby.” I think that’s sort of silly. Just because someone likes running or triathlon or racing, doesn’t mean they want to become an expert in physiology or training mechanisms. I like to eat, so I pay people to make me food at restaurants; I have no desire to become a chef.

The main reasons people seem to hire a coach are:

  • They simply don’t know how to train for an event and they’re buying the actual scientific knowledge required.
  • They (and most of us fall into this category) do a terrible job of self-regulating and self-directing. They may have the knowledge, but they couldn’t apply to themselves.
  • They need some kind of accountability/motivation.

I mostly tend to fall into the last two, though I also like having someone tell me what to do when I’m trying a new event and have no idea how to approach it. Right now, though, I’m coaching myself. Like I mentioned before, there are a few reasons for this. My schedule is in flux right now — how am I supposed to expect someone else to keep track of all my different, constantly-changing obligations? My injury situation is in flux — how am I supposed to expect someone else to keep track of all my different problems and how I feel any given day?

Mostly, though, I just didn’t find the person I wanted. When my first choice was busy, no one else seemed like the right fit. I have some time-sensitive plans and goals right now, so I don’t feel like getting to know someone new. While I do have (tons and tons) of friends who are coaches, man, I really dislike mixing friendship or relationships with telling me what to do. Not that some of my coaches haven’t become friends, but I get the sense I’m probably difficult to coach and, also, just difficult, so if we’re friends first and you haven’t experienced that, then we may not be friends after. That narrowed down the options and then, well, I don’t have unlimited money. So, coaching myself it is. And, anyway, I’m not half bad at coaching myself at something I know (meaning I may have to find someone to tell me what to do for Ironman, because I don’t know shit about that) — as long as I don’t fall too hard into a cycle of self-hate, overtrain, exhaustion, cut all my workouts, repeat.

There are some problems with coaching yourself, though.

1. Cycle of self-hate, overtrain, exhaustion, cut workouts, repeat.

2. Yesterday, I had on the schedule 2:30-3:00 ride with 3 x 10′ at half-Ironman pace (170-175W for me, I mean I think, who knows, I haven’t done a half-IM in two years). This seemed logical because I’m trying to transition from triathlon training to marathon training for CIM, but I’m also doing a cross-training-heavy marathon approach, because I don’t do well with high run mileage. And, I’m laying the groundwork for Ironman training post-December. So, many 3-hour rides with some tempo work both builds up my bike fitness and base, while training my aerobic capacity at that sort of effort level.

But, my legs were feeling heavy yesterday and after the first 10′ I wanted to cut it down to 2 x 10′. Why did I pick three times? Would two be good enough? Or would I miss the whole point of the workout with just two? I wanted my legs to be ready for the actual hard run workout Wednesday morning, was I pushing them too hard in a not key workout? Or not enough? If someone else had written 3 x 10′ on my schedule, I would have just done it. I would have assumed they had a reason and knew what they were doing. Maybe they would know what they were doing, or maybe they had just picked three times the same way I picked three times. But, I would have believed.

You lose the ability to not look behind the curtain when the wizard is you.

3. Today, I did a Coach Mario run workout. (I don’t usually like to give away other people’s workouts, because maybe they feel protective of them, as if the workout itself is the secret. But, of course it’s not. There is no secret. Mario doesn’t seem to care, though, in fact he’ll tell you workouts to do if you ask him — or buy his book. Because, why hide the real secret: that you still have to do the work.) The workout was 4 x [4′ at 10K pace (6:20), 1′ rest, 30″ hill sprint, 3′ rest]. It’s shockingly hard. And, halfway through of course I wanted to stop. I knew no one would care if I stopped. There was no coach to tell me I needed to toughen up or to hold me accountable. It was just me, by myself, on a path off a road you’ve never heard of. So, I had to be my own coach at that point. I said: Suck it up; there’s no cutting this workout, you just have to do it, all of it and you have to nail it.

And, that was that. I did it, all of it.

4. Sometimes you need to listen to your body. Sometimes you need to ignore what it’s saying. And, there’s no one else to tell you which times are which. So, you better not lie to yourself.

Do you coach yourself?

When is it time for a planned break?

Sorry, sorry. This is the for real post. I was writing this while sitting and waiting for my food earlier, because I had tried to order a Salmon Roe roll, which apparently is really hard to understand over the phone (say it fast), so when I walked in the door, instead they just handed me this cup of fish eggs and asked for $20. So, we had a discussion and I waited. Then when I finally got my rolls, I quickly ‘saved’ what I had written on my phone, but it ‘published’ instead. And, that is why you got a cut-off post earlier…

My blog readership plummeted last week. I suppose it has something to do with the whole people don’t want to hear you complain thing – though they do want to hear about you falling down, just preferably while laughing in an ironic way.

I didn’t post really this weekend either – a first in a long time – simply because it was time for a break. But, the internet isn’t really the main thing I’m taking a break from currently (especially since my job description right now basically just reads: ‘Do the internet’). The main thing I’m taking a break from is structured training and racing.

It looks just like this:

Except with pants, obviously.
Except with pants, obviously.

I know, you’re thinking: And that’s different how? Or, probably more accurately: wasn’t she already taking a break?

After getting hurt going into Boston, I was put on forced hiatus. Forced injury hiatus is NOT a break. It is anything but break-like. It’s full of angsting and water running. After Boston, I sort of just broke down/meandered my way through training, with a few days here and there of nothing, because I was supposed to run the Dipsea. Half-heartedly semi-training and spur-of-the-moment racing to prepare for a bigger race is NOT a break. (Even if it is more fun than water run angsting.)

So, now. Now, I am on a scheduled break.

The plan had originally been to kill it at Boston obvs, rest and recovery for a week or so, keep it tight for the Dipsea, and then take a planned break for three weeks, extending through our trips to Tahoe and Hawaii. I’d come back better than ever. For a possible return to seriousness.

That didn’t go exactly according to plan, but we now find ourselves at the scheduled break phase of the programming. It also happens to coincide with the crazy levels of work currently. That makes The Break sort of obvious and also sort of less break-like. But, still.

I did nothing last week except 23′ of swimming and then 38′ of easy running, which included the weird heart rate sitting in the middle of the trail stuff. This week, I’m planning on some casual evening workouts, same next week. Hopefully, some trail running in Hawaii (yay Hawaii!) if my foot is feeling better than it was this week (boo dress shoes). And, then?

I’m not sure yet.

That’s part of how a break works. You don’t worry about what comes next too much. But, I’m thinking about a return to serious training – like over ten hours/week training, like riding my bike more than just to and from work training, like possibly TRIATHLON TRAINING. *gasp*

Here are possibilities for the second half of the year/fall, add suggestions:

  • 50K Trail Ultra
  • Pacific Grove Triathlon
  • Donner Lake Swim
  • Fall Marathon (or possibly winter marathon)
  • The San Rafael Mile
  • Lagoon swimming maybe
  • Tiburon Triathlon-ing
  • Preparing for possible Ironman next year
  • Something else?

What should I do this fall (besides hope I don’t have to get bone spur surgery)?