Monday, March 30, 2015

Katie's IM Canada Training: Weeks 1-3 (ie Hanging in there)

Posted by Katie

As I mentioned, Matt and I are trying this new plan, found on the interwebs at (seems innocuous enough right?). Training has been challenging both in terms of fitting it all in with full time jobs and long commutes, and also with injuries not allowing me to run.

On the injury front, I have a diagnosis of partially torn MCL and meniscus from my lovely skiing pretzel fall a few weeks back. The good news is this is nothing major, and my knee joint, though swollen and painful, is not unstable in any way. The bad news is there is sort of a murky recovery schedule for these types of things and by ironman training I am most certainly pushing the boundaries of the "recommended" recovery exercises. My lower back is also still sort of an issue, probably because I stopped all exercises for my back when I injured my knee. So in summary it is still a little bit day-by-day, but in general both my knee and back and getting better (at a frustrating slow pace), but hey at least I am moving in the right direction!

Week 1:
Stationary Bike-45min

Swim, 1900y (Main set 1x1500)


Swim, 1400 (Main Set 8x100)
Stationary Bike-30min intervals

*Threw back out while picking up dog... seriously!? how old am I? 100?


Swim, 1700 (Main set 3x400)

In week 1 I skipped the long run and long ride, but was pleasantly surprised that I was able to do the elliptical without too much knee pain. Friday I picked up Kona (50lbs) without bending my knees.. because you know... they hurt... and boom my entire lower back seized up. Immediately after we drove up to Tahoe, so of course sitting in the car for 4 hours only made things worse and I spent all of Saturday on the couch in pain watching documentaries. In other news, I am thisclose to becoming a vegetarian after watching Food Inc.
Pie for Pi Day!
Week 2:

Swim, (Main set 10x100, descend 1-5, 6-10)

Stationary Bike, 55min intervals

Elliptical 45min
Swim, 2300 (Main Set 2x1000)

Elliptical, 45min

Swim, 2900 (Main set 4x500) with Chen and Matt
Trainer, 60min

Bike ride in Oakland, flat 32mi with Matt and Mark

In week 2, I again skipped the long run but was able to complete everything else and felt like I had finally started to hit my stride a little. The 10x100 workout I really liked, descends are the best! The Saturday swim was also fun because Chen joined us, and we realized we are all somewhat close in pace. I also learned that stationary bike does NOT equal road bike as far as you bum is concerned. I foolishly did my first trainer ride and then outdoor ride back to back, and wooooo did my bum hurt on sunday. Not to self, Ironman is all about training your bum to sit uncomfortably for long stretches of time.  
Trainer essentials: Coffee and dog treats (for the dog, not me)
Week 3: aka Swim week

Masters Swim, 3000m (random amount of 100s while trying not to get lapped)

Masters Swim, 3000m (less frantic, 200s)

Elliptical 45min

Masters Swim, 3000m (Main Set 16x50 every 4th fast, 12x50 every 3rd fast, 8x50 every other fast)

Route 1 cycling, 34mi, 2000ft gain

Open water swim, 1.17mi
Trainer 60min

In week 3 I was traveling for work and naively thought that since I didn't have 2 hours of commuting, a dog to walk, or other chores that I would have lots of time to sleep and exercise (boy was I wrong). The training class went from 8am-6pm and then there was a group dinner afterwards usually lasting until 9pm. I was able to wake up super early and get a workout in every morning but 2-a-days were out.

Work training class essentials: So many liquids (H2O, Coffee, OJ) + best muffins ever (Daily Grind, Santa Barbara)
I decided to try the local masters swim while traveling, as they had the best hours for my schedule 6am-7:15am.  The first day I showed up and the very nice coach informed me that it was IM day (ie all the strokes), and the lane times are 1:45, 1:50, etc. First, I warned him that I was new to swimming and only really felt comfortable with freestyle, no problem he says. Then I say "I am usually about 1:45 for a 100y so that seems like a good lane". Cool he says, go for it. My first indication that this was a huge mistake should have been that this lane that I picked was 4 over from the wall (in my only other Masters swim experience, Matt and I were put in the "bucket lane" ie the wall). Secondly, what I didn't realize was that 1:45 meant 100 ON the 1:45 not 100 IN 1:45. Therefore everyone else in the lane was completing the 100 in 1:30ish, resting, and then starting the next... I was swimming has hard as I could with a second or two break in order to not get lapped. Lastly, this was a 50m pool and I have only ever swam in 25y pools so that was um... interesting. After the workout the coach asked how it went and I said "I got my butt kicked" and his response was "well you hung in there, good work". On day 2, I switched over 3 lanes (one away from the wall) and had a much more pleasant experience! I also learned that Weds and Fri would be freestyle only, so no need to worry about trying to do the butterfly (which I can do for about 12 yards before drowning).

Another great discovery of week 3 was Higgins Canyon Road. An off shoot of the 1, Higgins canyon climbs up a reasonable hill and then eventually descends back to Rte 1. There were very few cars, in fact I think we saw more cyclists than cars and the views were stunning! Originally this ride was going to be a 50 miler, but we had a late start and the call of Tacos and Beer was just too strong. Actually I was game for another round on Higgins Canyon but Matt smartly talked me out of it.

Scenes from the ride, pictured bottom left is the hill that Matt wanted to go up and Danielle and I were like um NOPE
34 mi ride + rockfish tacos + hoppy IPA + sunshine > 50mi ride ending in the dark
Hop Dogma in El Grenada (Half Moon Bay area) is my new favorite place to start and end rides on Route 1.

They even serve water in an Erlenmeyer flask!  #nerdlove

We have now arrived to a step back week!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 7 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

Well, it's step back week again, except this time I'm not entirely sure that I earned it. That's ok though, I'm going to take it anyway :) My sister is coming to visit next weekend so why waste time working out? Plus, the following three weeks are going to have some legit training, including my first century ride, replacing an easy trainer ride with a bike commute, and adding an extra spin. Hello, biking.

But let's focus on this week first. This week I had not one but TWO social dinners. My flourishing social calendar (/sarcasm) resulted in shuffling workouts around a little bit, but I hadn't planned to run hard or long anyway to allow for recovery from our extra long long run last week. Here's a recap of my week:

48 min spin on the stationary bike at the gym, mostly easy.

am- 4200 yards, mostly easy except a 9 x 200 @ 3:00 at the end of the workout where I finally got my butt in gear and broke 2:40 for the last 4
pm- 5 mi easy run, legs felt surprisingly good (I would have gone longer but had to get my bike from the shop before 7:00. So of course, I ran there, carrying my helmet like a running back carries a football. I'm sure I looked cool.)

1 hour trainer ride/ Trainer Road diamond workout

5.5 mile am run (no watch- legs felt great but body rebelled with a pit stop and side stitch; running is the only sport I really struggle with in the morning if I don't wake up at least an hour before beginning said sport)

3600 yard master's swim practice. This swim felt great and my times were solid. Yay swimming :)

My 2nd brick / 50 mi bike - 10 mi run of the cycle. This one was pretty similar to the first (except I got to do it with a buddy- great workout, Chen!). First we rode 49+ miles with ~ 3900 ft of climbing at 13.8 mph, then a 10 mile run at 8:32 pace. Considering we ran a marathon 6 days ago, this workout went pretty well!

In the future, I'm supposed to take advantage of brick weekends by using Sunday to open water swim. I've been kind of sleepy all week, so I decided forget it, I'll sleep in instead. I should probably get a few OWS in before my 5k in June, but in the meantime, we all know what I do on rest days!

Banana pancakes: there are very few weekend days in IM training where there is time to make breakfast!

My fave- homemade pasta!

So in summary, instead of exercising I ate. And I'll do the same thing next week. And then I'll really get back on track with training. (Ok, so I'm not SO far off track but I should probably do some weekday runs longer than 6 mi and do > 0 core exercises.) 

IM Canada: Week 7 – Chen’s version (i.e., I am not an ambi-turner)

Posted by Chen

After weeks of talking about it, I FINALLY went open water swimming today! Brandon and I met up with Katie and Matt at Aquatic Park in SF this morning for our first open water session of the training cycle. And just in time, too, as my 70.3 race (and first tri ever) is less than two weeks away!

I thought it was really funny that as we were getting ready in the bleachers near the water, a middle-aged lady walked by us and said something to the effect of “The water’s 60 degrees! You don’t need wetsuits!” I was not expecting an early morning heckling and started to wonder if maybe we were just being wimps, but as we stepped into the frigid bay waters, I decided that that lady is bananas. $h!t’s cold, people!

I had quite a bit of apprehension going into this workout, as the last time I open water swam was over 9 months ago. At that point, I still wasn’t comfortable swimming more than two laps at a time in a pool, so all of my open water experiences involved me swimming one buoy at a time, breathing every other stroke to hoard oxygen, and then stopping to catch my breath for minutes at a time. The thought of swimming 2.4 miles straight was terrifying.

Rationally, I know that I’m at a completely different point with my swimming now, and I know I’ve been putting in the time at the pool over the past 3 months. I mean, 10,000-12,000 yards per week has to be good for something, right? I wish it were that easy to convince me, but NO. To me, open water is just a completely different ball game. I was still envisioning everything that could go wrong: sea lion encounters, jellyfish stings, panic attacks, and most notably, floating out into the bay, never to be seen or heard from again.

I knew that if I dilly-dallied and thought about it too much, I’d just psych myself out, so as we headed towards the water, I got in as soon as I could. While the cold was a bit shocking at first, I was instantly reminded of how WETSUITS ARE THE BEST INVENTION EVER. I’d forgotten just how much they block the cold and keep you afloat. Even within the first few yards of swimming towards the first buoy, it was as if all of my irrational fears just disappeared, and I knew that this workout would not be the end of me.

We decided to do three out-and-backs, and for the most part, things went just fine. My sighting technique is still pretty ugly, but it should be enough to get the job done. My biggest issue is that without a lane line, I evidently have a tendency to swim to the right. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t go left. It’s uncanny, really.

Given that we were going counter-clockwise around the buoys, and given that I was on the outside, I’m pretty sure this means I swam an extra 25-50 yards per lap, but oh well. I’ll take that over a panic attack any day.

And just for funsies, this is what my Garmin read:

Can you guess which way the current was going? :) Garmin read an average pace of 1:37/100yd, which is just not quite believable for me. If it’s real, full credit goes to the moon.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already time for cutback week #2, but you won’t see me complaining. Looking forward to some extra sleep and maybe a barrel of wine.

IM Canada Week 7 Recap:

  • AM: Super easy trainer ride to shake out the legs post-marathon: 11 miles in 47:17 (14mph)
  • AM: Swimming 3200 yards, including a random combo of swim & pull; still in recovery mode, so kept it easy (average pace of 1:51/100yd)
  • PM: Running Golden Gate Park 9.2 miles (~8:32 pace); surprised at how good this run felt 2 days post-‘thon!
  • PM: Trainer ride with short fast spin intervals: 22 miles in 1:20:28 (16.4mph)
  • PM: Swimming 4500 yards, including 5x500 in 8:58, 8:51, 8:55, 8:49, 8:40 and 4x500 pull in 9:16, 9:19, 9:22, 9:10; I’m still pretty bad at pulling, but those were some of my faster pull times yet! (average pace of 1:48/100yd)
  • Followed by running 7 miles in Golden Gate Park / Kezar track with 1x1600m@6:59 (wanted to test my legs for speed; verdict: go back to track, Chen)
  • AM: Swimming 2300 yards, including some paddle work (average pace of 1:45/100yd). The last time I used paddles was probably two months ago, and at that time, paddles made me slower. A lot slower. Rachel was talking about how paddles essentially amplify whatever form you have, which means that two months ago, my form was GAWD AWFUL. This time, though, I was happy to see that the paddles made me FLY. It was super fun to feel like a fish, if only for a few laps. I think I’ll definitely try to incorporate these into my workouts for form fixes and overall strengthening moving forward.
  • AM: Brick ride: 49.1 miles with ~3900ft of climbing (13.8mph)
  • PM: Brick run: 10 miles at ~8:32 pace. I had no idea what to expect with this brick workout, as it was basically my first real brick of the training cycle. My most important lesson learned was that I still need to eat more on the bike (sounding like a broken record here, I know), as I started the run feeling sort of shaky and under-sugared. A waffle fixed that right up, though, and the rest of the run felt great! This workout definitely gave me some confidence for my upcoming 70.3.
  • AM: Open water swimming with Brandon, Katie, and Matt! Who knows how accurate my Garmin is, but 1916ish yards, average pace of 1:37/100yd (maybe)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Oakland Marathon Race Report

Posted by Rachel

I’m pretty sure I have said this before, but I really love the Oakland Marathon!

The fun all started yesterday, when we deemed that we could and should eat anything and everything we wanted. After all, marathons require calories! Here’s a snapshot:

The three keys to a successful marathon: gelato, booze, and pasta.

After eating twice as much dinner as I needed, we watched some horrible/weird movies and went to bed. Our alarms went off at 5:30-6:00 am… later than a normal weekday of training! For how many marathons do you actually get to sleep in LATER than usual? We prepped our uniforms, sang/danced to ‘Thrift Shop’ and Pitbull (sorry neighbors), and walked out the door 15 min before the gun went off.

Despite having basically a VIP bathroom and intentionally dehydrating ourselves, Chen and I both still had to stop at the porta potty at mile TWO. That’s a first for me, but since this was essentially a training run, we went for it. The crowd support is always awesome at ORF, and in the first part of the course there were a number of fans out, especially in Rockridge. As we climbed into more residential areas towards and in Montclair, there were several families in their yards saying ‘welcome to Montclair!’. Totally awesome. After the descent (the worst part of the race- a quad pounder), the families in East Oakland were out cheering and a few even had bought water bottles to give to runners. It’s so awesome how all of the neighborhoods come out to support the race. After running on International back toward downtown, we joined up with half marathoners and headed to Jack London. This point is always good and bad; good because there are more fans and they are way more rowdy, but slightly inconvenient because there are 10,000 people running the half, and the way that the starts are structured means that people running a 3:40-4:00 marathon are linking up with people running ~1:00/mile slower on crowded streets. After running through West Oakland, which has an awesome Arch of Fire and fire breathing horse (and a very cool raincloud that I somehow missed while trying to antagonize the horse guy to make it breathe fire for us (he did)), we finally head back toward Lake Merritt for the home turf home stretch.

Right when we hit the lake, we came upon my favorite cheer station every year- the Oakland Raiders. I grew up a Bills fan (ugh- always hate admitting that one!) and I’ve heard many people across the country say negative things about Oakland fans. But I’ve run in plenty of cities with professional sports teams and I’ve never seen other fans do what the Raiders fans do for Oakland Running Festival. Every year that I’ve run they came equipped with a PARTY: a DJ, costumes, and vocal running supporters. In fact, they’ve been so popular in the past that the ORF made them an official water stop this year. Thanks Raiders fans- you guys are amazing!

After a lap around the lake, we passed by my house and then we were finished! I felt great at the end, and I’m glad to know that the answer to the question “can I run a full marathon on around or less than 30 miles per week?” is “yes” (note- there is a lot of other exercise outside that 30 miles). My feet are a little sore (they have become unaccustomed to long runs, oops) and I have some rookie chafing, but everything else is good. We finished in 3:51:57 and then had lunch with our amazing friends/family that came to cheer us on- thanks Becky, Sandi, Matt, Katie, and Mark! Next time I move that far on my own two feet will be on July 26 at IM Canada…a scary thought!

Thanks for another great year, ORF! Great run, great volunteers- can't wait for 2016!

IM Canada: Week 6 – Chen’s version (i.e., Don’t drink and swim, kids… plus an abbreviated Oakland Marathon Race Report)

Posted by Chen

This week started off with an interesting lesson learned on Monday morning: Don’t swim when you’re hung over (and potentially still drunk). Brandon and I had gone out to a ridiculously good dinner at Bar Crudo Sunday night, which included several glasses of delicious wine. It seems that we may have been a bit too ambitious with said wine consumption, given that it was technically a school night.

Nomtastic meal. Seafood chowder, crudo sampler, lobster/arugula/golden beet/burrata salad, and grilled octopus. Highly recommend the arctic char crudo with wasabi tobiko if you ever go!

I actually woke up feeling normal (albeit exhausted thanks to getting far less than 8 hours of sleep), but the hangover became evident when I got in the pool and started swimming. It was as if I couldn’t keep track of the direction in which I was moving, and it felt like I could have fallen asleep at any moment. My pace was sluggish and my motivation low, so getting to 2200 yards felt like it took an eternity.

Afterwards, I got on the stationary bike for an easy 65 minutes. My legs were slow going at first given the weekend long ride (and lingering hangover, I’m sure), but things eventually loosened up, and by the halfway point in the workout, I deemed myself sober again.

Go Monday.

The rest of my weekday workouts were relatively uneventful (recapped below), though I did get to finally run on the newly resurfaced Kezar track! They expanded from 8 to 9 lanes and installed new water fountains that actually have water pressure, which is downright delightful. I’m definitely looking forward to utilizing the track more over the coming months!

Finally, the week concluded with Rachel’s and my fifth consecutive running of the Oakland Running Festival marathon. I’ll be writing an abbreviated race recap here since I know Rachel plans to devote a full post to it.

We’ve always used this as a training or fun run, since the course isn’t exactly conducive to a PR, as it kicks off with over 10 miles of climbing.

It’s actually downhill to flat after mile 11, but the up front climbing is no joke

Our easy pace combined with ridiculously awesome crowd support always makes this my favorite race of the year. The race organizers do a great job of planting various entertainment stations along the course, and the city of Oakland itself has an uncanny way of coming out and making its runners feel extremely welcome and supported.

Before we get to this year’s recap, I thought our readers might enjoy a pictorial summary of our previous 4 years:

2011. This was before we met Sandi – otherwise, she would have been right there with us. Rachel and I used this as a training run for Boston, and it was the first time I finished a marathon feeling fresh and energized. We were hooked. 4:05:27.

2012. Rachel, Sandi, Will and I all ran together, and our goal was to help pace some friends to a sub-4:00. While we sadly lost the friends we were pacing along the way (they just fell back; no friendships were ruined in this process), we managed to come in at 3:58:10

2013. The three of us spent a comical amount of time going through our shorts collections to find pairs that most closely matched one another’s. Think we nailed it with the dark magenta hue. 3:46:12.

2014. We planned ahead this time and went for matching hot pink shorts. This was also the year that Matt and Katie decided to bandit the race the night before during dinner. It was an amazing moment of irrational decision-making. 3:47:57.

Given that we didn’t want this race to disrupt our IM training, our goal this year was to run somewhere around 3:55-4:00. I was really curious to see how my legs would feel at the end of a long week of training.

Morning pre-race activities included a reasonable wake-up time of 6am (which I actually consider “sleeping in” these days), food consumption, and getting pumped up to some Pitbull and Macklemore.

I’ve literally only ever worn these hot pink booty shorts during the Oakland Marathon. I’ve determined that they’re too bootylicious for real life.

We headed down to the starting line at 7:15am, and by 7:30am, we were off. Aside from a random bathroom pit stop during mile 2, the first few miles flew by, and we kept having to remind ourselves to slow down (read: Rachel kept yelling at me whenever I accidentally sped up. She’s good at keeping the rest of us overly eager fools in check).

Although the first ~11 miles are mostly uphill, the real climbing doesn’t start until mile 7. We’ve run this part of the course a bunch of times now, and it always seems to drag on forever, so I was surprised when all of a sudden, it was time to climb the final hill and start our descent back down.

The middle miles were relatively uneventful (except that the crowd support continued to be amazeballs!), and things felt relatively easy through mile 20 or so. After mile 20, while I didn’t exactly feel horrible or anything (and my cardio state actually felt just fine), I could definitely tell that my legs were feeling the ramifications of a low volume, 3 runs per week schedule.

They started to ache in what I call “rookie” places, and it was as if they were trying to say “OK, guys. We get it. You like running. You can stop now, though. Kthx.”

Still, I managed to not fall off pace and was able to pick things up for the end. We ran strong up the final incline to the finish and crossed the line with an official time of 3:51:57 (~8:47 Garmin pace, ~8:51 official pace).

Overall, I’m really happy with how this race went. It’s comforting to know that we can run a relatively strong marathon while un-tapered at the end of an Ironman training week. Of course, a long training week is still nothing compared to having just swum 2.4 miles and biked 112 miles immediately before starting a ‘thon, but I suppose that’s what the next 18 weeks are for :-P.

A big thanks to the race directors and volunteers for yet another fantastic year!

26th 26.2 finish!

IM Canada Week 6 Recap:

  • AM: Swimming 2200 yards (lazy, random, and possibly inebriated) (average pace of 1:49/100yd)
  • Immediately followed by 65 minutes easy on the stationary bike – 65 minutes, 18.15 miles (16.8mph)
  • PM: Swimming 4000 yards, including a 500 in 8:57 and 15 x 100 (all between 1:39-1:42)
  • Immediately followed by 6.2 easy miles on the treadmill (~8:49 pace)
  • PM: Trainer ride with fast spin intervals. This was my first time using my new Garmin speed and cadence sensors, and I loved it. It’s so much easier to do a fast spin workout when you don’t have to count your revolutions! On the flip side, I found it much harder to go fast on my trainer, at least compared to the speeds I hit on a stationary bike (though one could argue that stationary bikes aren’t all that accurate anyway). 18 miles in 1:05:25 (16.5 mph)
  • AM: Running 8.1 miles to/from/at Kezar, including 4 miles at the most half-assed tempo pace imaginable (7:43, 7:47, 7:48, 7:43). With a marathon in 3 days, I didn’t want to push it hard, plus I had no choice given how tired my legs were from doing an interval bike workout 12 hours earlier (~8:19 average pace overall)
  • PM: Swimming 3800 yards, including 3 x 500 in 8:41 (fastest ever!), 8:50, 8:51, and 3 x 100 in 1:35, 1:34, 1:31 (also fastest ever!) (average pace of 1:48/100yd)
  • AM: Swimming 2900 yards with Katie and Matt! Was great to have company after doing all of my swims solo (average pace of 1:48/100yd)
  • Followed by a mostly flat ride around Oakland with Rachel and Sandi: 27.45 miles 15.8mph
  • Oakland Running Festival Full Marathon: 26.4 miles 3:51:57 (~8:47.2)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 6 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

I'm submitting this post a little bit early this week so that my post tomorrow can focus solely on the Oakland Marathon review. I'm fully expecting it to be as fun as always, and it's nice to be running a marathon as a "training run" (ie. with no pressure to hit any time whatsoever). The start/finish it literally right outside our window and I can hear them setting up now. Can't wait!

So here's a recap of my week 6:

am- I finally defeated the set that I failed at last week. I think it's probably more satisfying to do something that you fail at than to just get it the first time (though my preference is still to get it right the first time). Here's what I did (with no additional rest other than however much you make the interval by): {2 x 500 @ 7:30 + 1 x 100 hard @ 1:40 + 2 x 500 @ 7:20 + 1 x 100 hard @ 1:40 + 2 x 500 @ 7:10 + 1 x 100 hard @ 1:40 + 2 x 500 @ 7:00 + 1 x 100 hard @ 1:40}. I actually found this set on the internet and highly recommend it (adjusting the intervals faster or slower as needed). My arms were SO dead at the end but I was still able to do the last round in 6:47, 6:45, 1:16. However, the total workout was 5000 yards (not meters), and judging by the deadness in my arms, that last 428 m would've been a real struggle. So I still have some work to do before that open water 5k I signed up for.
pm- 1 hour spin (moderate/steady, while watching Bourne Identity; estimated to be about 15 mi but who knows) + 300 various crunches

6.5 miles with 5 at moderate tempo pace (tempo miles 7:35 average; was worried about going too much harder than that because of this whole marathon deal)

Travers subscribed to this awesome Trainer Road program, so I got to measure my FTP right on my own bike on our trainer at home! This was intimidating because I have NO idea what effort I can sustain on a bike for 20 min. If you asked me to do this for swimming or running, it wouldn't be a problem. But I suppose this is how I will get better at biking- by knowing what types of efforts can be sustained for how long, and doing trainer workouts based on my FTP. I couldn't believe I liked a trainer ride! I think I was actually too conservative, but my FTP came out to 176W. This is around 3.0 W/kg, which according to the internet, is much higher than an untrained cyclist! Woohoo! (Ok, it's a lot lower than a great cyclist, but I'm working on it!) I'm excited to do some of the interval workouts that design targets based on my FTP, then repeat the FTP test again in about a month.

am- light strength and core. Beginning in week 9, I'm going to replace strength with an extra spin but keep core.
pm- comfortable pace 6.5 mile run (8:24)

3400 yards at master's swim
The coach asked us to a couple of 100s non freestyle, hard (within a set of 6 x 100 @ 1:40). The biggest surprise here that I didn't know until today is that my 100 backstroke hard is literally only 2 sec slower than my 100 freestyle hard. This seems lame... I do 8000+ yards of freestyle per week and about 200 yards of backstroke, shouldn't my freestyle be significantly faster?? Why can't there be an Ironman backstroke? Why am I stuck being fast and slow at the same strokes that I was when I was 10? :p

After work, we went to a German/beer place that was a little off the beaten path. My sausage and soft pretzel were decent, but the best part was the water (I love water):

We're doing some bike ride today that actually hasn't occurred yet. Given that we did 85 miles last week this will probably be around 30, and I actually don't even care if we make it that far (the joys of self-coaching!). After all, we're running a marathon tomorrow.
pm- Eat pasta. Eat gelato.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 5 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

I learned a lot of good lessons this week (read on for further detail). Last week was a step back week, and because I reduced the volume I (ignorantly) upped the intensity, especially on the bike and in weight lifting. I suffered early this week. Lesson #1: there is no such thing as 100% during Ironman training. I think intervals in all three sports are important, but from now on 80% will be good enough. 100% effort requires too much recovery.

Here is a recap of my training week, with stories and additional lessons intermingled:

am- 4400 yard swim
This was the first swim this year where I did not complete the set that I intended to, and I was really grumpy about it. This has happened on occasion before- maybe one day every couple of months where I can't break 1:20 in 100 fr even though my normal cruising pace should be 1:12-1:15. I should have just taken it easier, but I tried to force my body into a set with 8 x 500 total on a decreasing interval (7:30 down to 7:00). I didn't make it to the last 2 on 7:00 before I died. I was cursing and pissed off and two of my training buddies were there trying to encourage me "maybe it's the time change" (which was super nice of them). Anyway, I'm going to keep attempting this set until I defeat it, so stay tuned and I'll publish the full set once it is conquered.
Lesson #2: It's ok to have a bad day! Don't beat yourself up.
pm- 15 mi (?) / 1 hour on the trainer at home  + 15 min P90X "ab ripper"
I didn't put the Garmin on since I always push myself harder when I can see how slow I'm riding I knew my body needed an easy day.

6.2 miles at the track with 5 x 800 (400 recovery) (times: 3:13, 3:14, 3:13, 3:12, 3:10)
Again, this workout felt a lot harder than I had hoped. The same effort should have given me 3:08-3:10 on all my 800s. So it wasn't significantly terrible, but I just didn't have the same kick as usual. I tried to take it with a grain of salt and not push too hard, thankfully learning from lessons 1 & 2!

60 min spin on the stationary bike with intervals (19.3 mi). Same bike as last week, 0.9 mph slower but didn't want to push myself as hard. Another "meh" workout.

am- 45 min strength + core
Taking a lesson from last week, I lifted VERY LIGHTLY this week. This was a great idea. Travers and I have been talking about dropping weights from our rotation, and that's probably what will happen. I would like to keep 2 x core per week, but lifting weights isn't worth if it completely kills my quads for all my Saturday long rides.
pm- 6.6 mile run (8:24)
The first 2 miles felt awful (seriously? is ANY workout this week going to feel good?), but after a short pit stop (Lesson #3- do not eat yogurt RIGHT before a run) miles 3-6 felt great. It's about time! My 6th workout into the week and I finally feel normal again.

3500 yards at master's swim practice (and my times were back to normal!)

85 miles with 6000-6400 ft gain (Garmins not in agreement); 13.7-13.8 mph (Garmin malfunction- not totally sure on the pace). Clearly we are not record-breaking cyclists, but this workout was VERY significant for me. It was the first time in this whole training cycle that I thought "yes, I can finish 112 miles biking". First off, my legs felt great from not killing them with weights on Thursday. It's official-- weights are out for the remainder of IM training. Second, I led the ride and started so slowly that I'm pretty sure it was driving my training partners nuts. But I stayed extra slow/patient and it paid off (I think), and we were able to finish the ride feeling strong. Obvious Lesson #4: pacing on the bike is so so SO important!! In fact, the beginning was SO slow, that we were able to take in the scenery. A bunch of yellow flowers are blooming in Oakland hills and it was amazing!

Left- yellow flowers and green trees! Right- our last group ride with Sandi before she moves to Boston, boo!

It was also HOT Saturday, which I suppose is good training because I've heard the climb out of Pemberton can be hot at IM Canada. I drank 6 bottles of water during the ride, followed it with 2 L when I got home, and I'm still not sure it was enough. Also, I sunscreened my face and arms but not my legs. Lesson #5: Legs burn, too!

Showing my Irish the week of St. Patrick's Day (ie. white people burn, even in March), as the attractive bike shorts tan line begins early this year

am-12 mile run at a controlled pace (8:39). This run felt fine and I'm glad I could run after the big ride we did yesterday. There was one thing was was way more exhausting than the run though- wine tasting!
pm- Does biking 5 miles to the winery count as training?! Lesson #6: It is hard to keep up with drinking AND Ironman training!

Just taking a short rest after tasting. Good thing I was down there- I noticed that there was painters tape left under our island from kitchen construction, and also that the floor needed to be swept!

What adventures are in store for next week? My favorite race- the OAKLAND MARATHON! Details coming soon!

IM Canada: Week 5 – Chen’s version (i.e., even if you think you’ve eaten enough, EAT MORE)

Posted by Chen

After my detour into Lazyville last weekend, I decided to make up for it by doing my own mini gym-based triathlon after work on Monday. I swam 2500 yards, biked 19.9 miles (according to the stationary bike I was on, anyway), and ran 4 miles on the treadmill. After all of my extra rest, this workout ended up feeling really good, and in retrospect, I probably pushed it a little too hard, which led to some lackluster workouts in the middle of the week. Given that my first tri is coming up on 4/11/15, though, I’m happy to have finally gotten a brick workout in.

My biggest lesson this week (and the subject of this post) came during the 85-mile ride that Rachel, Sandi, and I did through the East Bay yesterday. Rachel planned a great route for us that included over 6000 feet of climbing and concluded with a couple decent climbs, which helped mimic the final climb that we’ll face at the end of the ride in Whistler.

The ride started with our usual 1500ft climb that we always start with, followed by a few smaller climbs, and then transitioned to rollers and a flat section in the middle. I felt fine throughout these sections, which in retrospect, probably led me to underestimate how much fuel I should have been taking in. I still haven’t succeeded at consuming 200-250 calories per hour, which is what I’ve been told I should be eating. In contrast, I probably took in about 120 calories/hour this time. It was also a hot day (somewhere in the 80s for much of the ride), and I probably didn’t drink enough either.

So, when it finally came time to do our last big climbs, my body was just done (as was my butt – damn you, tri shorts). I never quit, but I did slow to a snail’s pace for miles ~70-78 and let myself coast downhill for the remainder of the ride. After getting back, I also realized that the left side of my body had been facing the sun all afternoon, resulting in a lovely burn and ridiculously weird tan lines.

While those last 15 miles weren’t fun, I’m actually really glad this happened, because it will be a good reminder for me in Whistler to keep the effort stupid easy for the first half and to make sure I eat ALL OF THE FOOD. And to wear sunscreen – will I ever learn this lesson??

This was taken during the early miles of the ride, when I could still enjoy the scenery around us instead of focusing on how my butt was on FIRE

Next week will conclude with the Oakland Running Festival full marathon, which is always my favorite race all year when it comes to crowd support and general good fun. I’m intrigued to see how a marathon feels after a full week of IM training – should be, um, interesting!

IM Canada Week 5 Recap:

  • PM: Swimming 2500 yards, including a 500 in 8:55 and 5x100 in 1:37, 1:37, 1:37, 1:37, 1:37 (if only my run splits could be that consistent!) (average pace of 1:46/100yd)
  • Immediately followed by a steady state stationary bike ride: 65 minutes, 19.9 miles (18.4mph)
  • Immediately followed by a brick treadmill run: 4 miles (~8:46 pace)
  • AM: Swimming 3700 yards, including swim/pull ladder (felt pretty dead; average pace of 1:53/100yd)
  • PM: Running weaksauce hilly tempo run in Golden Gate Park (GGP): 8.1 miles in 1:03:50 (~7:52.8); Splits: 8:35, 7:49, 7:40, 7:40, 7:29, 7:18, 7:53, 8:44, 7:00 (0.1) (continued to feel dead)
  • AM: Swimming 2200 yards, including 8x250 (average pace of 1:49/100yd)
  • Immediately followed by stationary biking with resistance intervals: 65 minutes, 18.77 miles (17.3mph)
  • PM: Running GGP steady state: 8.7 miles (~8:16 pace)
  • AM: Swimming 3200 yards, including 1000 in 18:02 and 4x250 in 4:24, 4:21, 4:19, 4:18
  • Biking 85 miles through the East Bay with Rachel and Sandi – 6000+ft of climbing (the actual amount of climbing is still up for debate, as none of our Garmins could agree, nor did any of them match up to map data), 13.7mph
  • Running Embarcadero (first 6 miles solo, rest with former coworkers): 13.15 miles in 1:57:48 (~8:57.5); Splits: 8:39, 8:30, 8:19, 8:08, 8:16, 8:20, 9:12, 9:30, 9:51, 9:38, 9:21, 9:25, 9:17, 9:07 (0.15)