Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 16 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

Good thing this was a step back week, because beginning a week with a long weekend in Vegas is NOT good for training. Vegas was a mix of things I might normally do and things I would almost never do. For example,

Running on Dunkin (emphasis on running :)- falls into the "normal" category.

Carb-ing up with a massive amount of bagels? Also normal.

Riding a massive ferris wheel? Not normal, but not totally unpredictable.

Shots at 2 am at the nightclub? NOT NORMAL.

Biggest surprise: I insisted on seeing Mystere from Cirque du Soleil. I wasn't sure what to expect, because thanks to movies liked 'Knocked Up', I always assumed you had to be super high to enjoy the show. NOT TRUE. The athleticism is amazing. Now I know what all of the retired professional divers (and synchronized divers) and gymnasts do with their talent. I didn't get any photos of the good parts, but here's one example of the insanity:

And to think.... sometimes I struggle with my 15 min core class.

Anyway, I highly recommend seeing Mystere. We capped the weekend with a 30th birthday dinner for my sister at Hakkasan (our second Michelin star restaurant experience!). 

After all this in less than 48 hours, our flight home was delayed and we got in Monday night (Tuesday morning) in the 3:00 hour... just in time to sleep a few hours only (again) and go to work Tuesday morning. Consequently, almost all of my workouts this week (except swimming) felt like crap. Is that just because it's recovery and my body was making up for being really cooperative in May, or was it the excessive drinking? Here's my rundown.

Monday- 4 mile run in the afternoon in Vegas; hot, but didn't feel that bad considering
Tuesday- rest
am- 5000 yard swim: 2 x {9 x 200 on ladder interval- 1 @ 2:40, 2 @ 2:50, 3 @ 3:00, 2 @ 2:50, 1 @ 2:40}. I made all the intervals and felt pretty good, little did I know this would be my only good workout of the week.
pm- Trainer Road Charybdis- 6 x 3 min interval at VO2 max. This workout ended up being a LOT harder than it looked in graph form. (I almost died.)
Thursday- 6.5 mile run (felt errible)
Friday- 3800 yard swim at master's practice (felt alright)
Saturday- 44.3 mi biking (3900 ft climbing, 13.4 mph). This ride felt TERRIBLE, almost like I've never rode a bike before. I can't believe how bad it was. And my legs even hurt the next day, even though this was my easiest ride in a month. The worst thing about it is I have no idea why it sucked, so I don't know how to stop it from happening in the future.
Sunday- 10 mile hilly run, no watch. This was ok, although my legs felt heavy at the end. 

I better shape up for next week....the hardest part is coming up! 

IM Canada: Week 16 – Chen’s version (i.e., “I was like, why is the ground all slimy? And then I realized I was kneeling in my own vomit from three hours ago”)

Posted by Chen

The quote in my subject most accurately depicts the ridiculousness that is Princeton Reunions (and no, that quote did not come from me). I’m currently sitting at EWR, waiting for a delayed flight thanks to some serious storms (why can’t we get rain like this in the Bay??), having just spent four days at my alma mater for my 10th reunion. While it was fantastic as always to see everyone, I’d say I’m more than ready to get home (Princeton friends – I love y’all, but I evidently can only handle y’all for four days at a time).

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, May was a month full of weekend travel, but of all my weekends, this was the one I was probably most concerned about when it came to keeping up with IM training. I was trying to think of a way to describe Princeton Reunions, but I’ve decided that no words can truly do it justice. In the absence of experiencing it yourself, let’s just say that unlimited alcohol is available nearly 24/7; lots of people stay on campus to avoid any motorized vehicles; and rumor has it that Reunions claims the prize of the largest order of Bud Light in the nation.

So, you can imagine why I had my doubts about waking up in time to swim, bike, and/or run before shenanigans ensued for the day, and complicating matters was the fact that it was 80-90 degrees with a million percent humidity the entire time. In the end, though, while I didn’t get any super long workouts in (which I purposely wasn’t planning on), I did manage to workout every day I was there, which I consider a huge win.

Our Reunions weekends always start off with samplers at Triumph

Reunions are so nuts that they involve costumes. Our class theme was the Tentucky Derby, and myself and my two friends were the costume chairs. Months of work went into this get-up, and in the end, we were pretty pleased with the results. Except the pants were see-through. Who needs pants, anyway...

You can't have a Derby without a horse

The costume chairs!

It’s a little nerve wracking when I think about the fact that I’ve only biked long once and run long once throughout the entire month of May, but I know June will be the hardest month yet, and I’m luckily going to be staying local, which will help ensure I actually complete all workouts. Only 8 (8!!!) weeks stand between us and the starting line at Whistler, and I’m ready for this final push of training. Bring it, June – it’s on like Donkey Kong!

IM Canada Week 16 Recap:

  • AM: Easy recovery run (post Mountains 2 Beach) along the coast in Santa Barbara. Despite not having proper use of my quads, this run was simply stunning. 4.1 miles 38:21 (~9:21 pace)
  • PM: Swimming 3000 yards, including 500s and 300s. This swim felt hella wonky and slow (average pace of 1:50/100yds)
  • Immediately followed by stationary biking easy/moderate: 16.7 miles 1:00:00 (16.7mph)
  • AM: Swimming 3000 yards: 2 x (500 swim, 500 pull, 500 paddles) (average pace of 1:47/100yds)
  • PM: Trainer ride with fast spin intervals and a fast finish: 16.5 miles 1:00:38 (16.3mph)
  • AM: Running along the Princeton towpath. It was ridiculously hot and humid out, so much so that when I stopped to turn around, I was immediately enveloped by a cloud of awfulness, and the only way to feel less awful was to start running again to get even the slightest bit of airflow. Everything felt terrible, so I cut the run short and bee lined it to our campus center, where I proceeded to chug a Powerade and a liter of Diet Coke. 8.5 miles 1:16:21 (~8:59 pace)
  • AM: Swimming 4000 yards, including 4x350 on 7:00, 4x250 on 5:00, and 4x150 on 3:00 (average pace of 1:47/100yds). I got up at 6am to be there when the pool opened at 6:45am, and I believe I was the only sign of life on campus.
  • AM: Short brick steady state stationary ride: 15.5 miles 52:20 (17.8mph)
  • Immediately followed by short brick treadmill run: 2.25 miles 18:17 (~8:08 pace). I would have stayed in that gym forever if they had let me, because that A/C was glorious.
  • AM: Running along the Princeton towpath again; it was equally as hot and humid, but my body felt slightly more adapted to the disgustingness, so this run was slightly less miserable than Thursday’s. Still pretty miserable, though. My first run back in the Bay will surely feel glorious! 8.15 miles 1:12:48 (~8:56 pace)

IM Canada: Week 15 – Chen’s version (i.e., Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Race Report)

Posted by Chen

Sorry I’m posting this a full week late; my month of travel craziness continues!

Week 15 was a bit reminiscent of the struggles encountered in Week 13, as I started out with two rest days thanks to being sick, and work continued to give me hell once I was back in the office. I could whine about it, but then I’d just bore you guys, so I’ll just say that the week was a bit of a cluster that made me feel like a super crazy person at many points, but I guess I’m also getting used to the crazy. So… yay?

On a much brighter note, the week ended with a lovely long weekend down in the Ventura / Santa Barbara area, and the brightest note of all was that Paige and I got to reunite with Sandi and her mom for the Mountains 2 Beach marathon (in case you’re new here, Sandi and Will moved to the east coast a couple months ago, and we miss them lots).

After an early morning endurance swim Saturday morning, Paige and I started the long drive down to Ventura. I used to make the drive down to SB all the time, and it would always take me about 5 hours (which was quite long enough for me), but thanks to Memorial Day weekend traffic and the fact that I’m pretty sure the Bay is considerably more crowded now than it was in 2010 when I used to make the trek, we didn’t make it down there until dinner time.

After a quick pit stop at our crappy motel (which managed to lose my reservation that I made months ago; rawr), we met up with Sandi and her mom and drove 10 miles south to the Olive Garden.

That’s right, folks. History repeated itself. And it was awesome. I heart you, unlimited salad and breadsticks.

After getting back to our motel and planning out some spectating logistics, we headed to bed for an early 3am wake-up call.

The (only) nice thing about our crappy motel was that it was situated two blocks away from where the busses would pick us up at 4am, which is why we stayed there in the first place. Everything with the shuttles went smoothly, and we arrived at the start in Ojai with over an hour and a half to spare before the 6am start.

Last year, I spent my time sitting in the cold on the concrete ground, wishing I’d worn more throwaway clothes. This year, I came prepared with a hoody, sweatpants, and a fleece blanket, but it turned out we wouldn’t really need layers since we luckily nabbed a spot in an open post office where dozens of runners were huddling for warmth.

We found a spot on the ground and chatted a bit here or there, but we mostly listened to the buzz of other runners talking about their race plans. We would have chatted about our race plans too; that is, if we had any. After two bathroom stops, we finally checked our gear and lined up at the start.

My only goal for this race was to not do anything stupid. I was going to run by feel and keep it easy, so I had assumed Sandi would be ahead of me the whole time. In the end, though, we stuck together the entire time, and I’m really glad we did. It was so nice to be running together again!

I recapped this race last year, so I won’t go into too many details about the course (if you don’t want to read my old post, I’ll just tell you that it’s mostly downhill or flat, except for a long, gradual incline along miles 6 and 7).

Our splits during the first half mostly ranged from 8:20-8:30, and I was happy that the pace felt pretty easy. Although it was forecasted to be a pretty warm day, the clouds came out to play for a while, and the bike trail was also shaded, so temps felt pretty comfortable for most of the race. Sandi and I chatted on and off throughout this part, and overall I was feeling good.

I even stumbled upon someone I’ve been following on Instagram for the past 6 months (Hi, Jen!), and it was really nice to finally meet her in person.

After the halfway point, we (unintentionally) dropped into the 8:10-8:20 range, and things still felt mostly comfortable. Perhaps not surprisingly, my cardio state felt great throughout the entire race, but my low-volume running made itself evident once again (just as it had during Oakland a couple months ago), and I started to feel what I call “rookie pains.” Nothing concerning; just the typical soreness and fatigue that comes with repetitive pounding that you’re not used to.

I would say the first 10 miles felt easy; the next 10 felt moderate, and then by the time we hit the beach area where things flattened out, the last 6.2 felt pretty uncomfortable. I never felt like I would crash, but my legs were just tired and ready for beer. It was also very sunny and hot by this point, so Sandi and I just put our heads down and steadily made our way to the finish.

We crossed the line in 3:39:55, which in retrospect was a little aggressive for a training run, but I was happy with how the effort felt overall.

We spent the rest of the day in Santa Barbara, eating on a lovely deck outside on the pier and wine tasting throughout the downtown area (what used to be a relatively empty warehouse area has now blossomed into 20+ wineries / distilleries / breweries! Lucky ducks).

Looking forward to our next race weekend with Sandi in the fall!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go recap Week 16 :-).

So happy to be running with Sandi again!

Delicious lobster tacos consumed post-race in the sun on a lovely roof deck on the pier

Beach in Goleta the next day

IM Canada Week 15 Recap:

  • Rest. Still sick with a fever and sinus issues.
  • Rest. Still sick, but on the upswing.
  • PM: Swimming 3200 yards, including 2 x (500 swim, 500 pull, 500 paddles) (average pace of 1:49/100yds)
  • Immediately followed by stationary bike ride with resistance intervals: 25.55 miles 1:31:00 (16.8mph)
  • PM: Hilly easy run in Golden Gate Park: 8.7 miles 1:17:05 (~8:52 pace)
  • Immediately followed by trainer ride with fast spin intervals: 14 miles 53:35 (15.7mph)
  • PM: Trainer ride very easy with fast finish: 14.15 miles 1:00:00 (14.15mph)
  • AM: Swimming 4300 yards, including 2 x (500 swim, 500 pull, 500 paddles, 500 kick)
  • AM: Mountains 2 Beach Marathon with Sandi! 3:39:55

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 15 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

Two of my fellow bloggers are running a marathon right now. I'm sitting in a bed in Las Vegas, mildly hungover, writing a blog post. And while they're probably 18 miles or so into their run, I just woke up. Some people are more productive than others. I also know that Chen would laugh in the face of a mild hangover and go for a 10-15 mile run, but I think I'll just sit here and write this post until I can motivate myself to get coffee.

So, training. This was a good week where I also had some struggles. But considering there are only about 2 months left, this training cycle was the most difficult so far so I should probably expect to be tired. Here's a recap of my week with stories.

am- 4000 yard swim. After the weekend's epic journey bike ride Saturday and crazy trail run Sunday, I was ready to just float around. Luckily I saw a training buddy at the pool so about half the workout was structured then the other half was just floating around. I also left for a 24 hour work trip to Santa Barbara Monday afternoon. Quick work trips are exhausting, but there's no better place to go so I can't complain.

I think that, collectively, every blog writer in this account has made the point repeatedly about how amazing Santa Barbara is, so I'll try to not be exhaustive about it

am- 8 mile unintentional progression run (slow to fast, 8:05 pace). As much as I dislike running first thing in the morning, I was so psyched for this run. It was 2 miles from our hotel to the trail to the beach, so I figured I better run 8 to get my beach time in. Two days after swearing off trail running forever, here I am running along a packed trail on Atascadero Creek to get to the beach (it was flat and packed though).

Then finally, I got to enjoy sunrise over Goleta Beach. It's funny how I used to live here (and of COURSE I appreciated it when I did), but now I'm taking my camera on runs and thinking I would wake up at 5 am ANY day for this.

Good morning, Pacific Ocean (pre oil spill) from the bluffs

(Disclaimer: I'm not hating on my current residence, because the Bay area is also quite beautiful. I'm just having SB nostalgia.)
After getting home from the business trip at 6 pm, I had time for a trainer ride.
pm- Trainer Road: Bird. 15 x 1 min hard intervals at my new FTP were... well, hard. The 8 mile run at a decent clip then sitting on a plane probably didn't help the situation. (60 min/15.1 mph)

Bike commute- 29.7 miles, 2400 ft, 13.0 mph. This was one of the toughest rides I've had all training. I'm in the 3rd week of a build cycle and had just done intervals the day before, and my legs were DEAD. Add in a brutal 15 mph headwind and hills, and it was tempting to take the train home instrad of ride. But these are the workouts that show you can get though rough spots (which are bound to happen in an IM), so I'm glad I did not in fact take the train. 

am- skipped morning spin class. One of the first self-prescribed workouts that I skipped, but I figured I wouldn't get much out of it given the state of my legs.
pm- 6.5 miles comfortable run (8:20)

4000 yards @ master's swim practice.I had some decent pull sets and a 300-200-100 set at the end on 1:25 base that I finished with decent times (3:54/2:33/1:13) so overall this swim was alright.

BRICK. Due to having a 3 pm flight to Vegas, I had to (1) wake up at the ass crack of dawn for this workout, and (2) structure it a little differently than past bricks. I figured since my biking is weaker than my running, I'd go for a harder ride and shorter run. So the bike leg was 62.6 miles, 5800 ft climbing, 13.3 mph. 13.3 mph, you may not notice for the distance/climbing, is about 0.5-0.7 mph slower than it should've been- so what happened? Well, it was foggy but mid-50s at sea level (warm enough I guess), but the weather at 2000 ft was MISERABLE. It was freezing cold, windy, and raining. So here I am in the 7:00 hour, riding my bike in super low visibility, with a wet hydroplane-looking layer on the road riding around curving, hilly roads. It was here I decided I would cut the ride short. But then I fought back against myself- am I going to quit in the Ironman because I don't like the weather?? I hope not (especially given the entry fee), so I better man TF up. 

It's freezing and I can't see shit, but I won't quit!

I got to the bottom of the hill on the other side (20 miles into the ride) at an average of 11.0 mph. So that added a lot of time to my ride, but the weather was better over there and I must have rode at a decent pace the rest of the ride to get back up to 13.3 mph. I'll accept this as a victory. When I got home, I did a 6.5 mile run at 8:12 pace. I pushed toward the end because I knew it was a short run, but my quads were starting to fatigue and it would be a bad strategy to run that quickly in the IM marathon (mental note). Luckily, the lines at the OAK airport were short as usual so I had time to replenish some of the calories.

Fenton's coffee oreo ice cream and Auntie Annie's pretzel. Salt, carbs, sugar, fat, calories.. yes please.

I also had a Shake Shack burger and fries and wine and tequila for dinner. This step back week begins in Vegas for my sister's 30th bday. And oh yeah:

Rest. Drink.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 14 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

Time flies! This Ironman just keeps getting closer and closer. This was a pretty good week, and I kept a positive mental attitude for all the biking (which was my goal!) Tomorrow I'm headed off on a one-day business trip to Santa Barbara, and I'm not actually sure if I'm prepared for it but I do know that I have all of my running things. Priorities, you know?

Here's a recap of my week 14:

am- 5000 yard swim. I'm not really getting any faster with more swimming but I am feeling stronger at the end of 5k, which is definitely progress! My last 500 at the end of the workout was 6:35, which means I wasn't dying.
pm- Trainer Road/Owl (60 min trainer ride). I like Owl the day after a long run to get a little bit of speed and threshold, but nothing crazy.

am- 3000 yard easy "bonus" extra swim, lots of pulling
pm- 9 mile run (7:35) w/ 4 x {1.5 miles tempo (7:17) + 0.5 mile recovery}

29.7 mile bike commute. It was headwindy and I'll admit I didn't give a whole lot of effort here. 13.2 mph/2400 ft climbing.

am- showed up late to spin class- 12 miles/33 min + 15 min core class
pm- 6.5 mile run (8:30)

master's swim practice 4100 yards

Epic Oakland to Mt. Diablo round trip. 90.5 miles biking, 9500 feet of climbing, 12.0 mph. Thanks to my training buddies, we got some great pics at the top! Matt and Katie have the group ones :)

It was good to practice hill pacing knowing that there was significant climbing throughout the ride. I did pretty well on fueling but did take Chen up on her offer to buy me a giant Snickers bar at our emergency gas station rest stop, bringing my calorie intake to about 1900 for the ride. I wonder if we're the only people who have ever looked at the nutrition facts for a snickers bar and been disappointed that it "only" has 220 cal/serving. I feel better about the ride in Whistler after having finished this.

In the morning we volunteered for the "Tilden Tough Ten", and got a scenic but freezing cold spot right near the eucalyptus grove.

Afterward, I agreed to a trail run with Travers. I had forgotten (but now I remember) that I HATE trail running! On the way down, I had to walk a quarter mile section because it was steep, hole-y, and I was worried about falling off the side of a cliff. Then my legs were itchy from going through the grass. Then we passed a sign that said "warning- there are ticks out here"... no big deal. I suppose the redeeming quality of trail runs is the beautiful views. This is true, although it turns out if I take my eyes off the ground to appreciate the views for a split second, I fall flat on my face (like I did at mile 11.5). Luckily, I was so mad about it that I charged up the tough hill that was the last mile and ended up finishing a 12.5 mile trail run with 1395 feet of climbing in 9:18 pace. Great views and good training, but I won't be doing it again. Maybe for a hike instead.

And it wouldn't be a week of IM training without way overeating (at least our dinner was healthy). Time to watch the LAST episode ever of Mad Men!

IM Canada: Week 14 – Chen’s version (i.e., that time we traveled to all of the lands with Ruffles and Snickers)

Posted by Chen

The main event of this week’s training was our group ride (the group being Rachel, Katie, Matt, Mark, and me) from Oakland to Mount Diablo and back yesterday. This was my first time visiting Mt. Diablo period (I’d never even driven by to see it with my own two eyes), so I really had no idea what to expect. The elevation profiles I found online were moderately terrifying, making our usual big climbs look like teeny little speed bumps. “Ill-prepared” most aptly describes how I felt as we started our journey at 7am. And what a journey it was.

The ride started off in familiar territory as we made our way up to Tunnel, Skyline, and Grizzly Peak. We then turned onto Wildcat Canyon for a while, eventually connecting to Bear Creek Road, where we did the first of the three bears. Instead of the usual three bears loop, though, we turned off to make our way onto Happy Valley Road.


Happy Valley Road started off with one of the steepest climbs of the entire ride, and while I was trying to prevent any lactic acid build-up from happening before Diablo, there was no stopping it there. I felt like I’d been duped.

Fortunately, after the first big climb, the rest of the road was reasonable, and we made our way east towards Walnut Creek. This whole time, I was having a really hard time maintaining a comfortable body temperature. Temps were in the mid to upper 50s, which is pretty cool for biking. I was either freezing (like, shaking uncontrollably freezing) on the downhills or sweating my @$$ off on the uphills, which made for a generally unpleasant experience. All I wanted was a large latte in a bowl from La Boulange to keep me warm, but a large latte in a bowl was nowhere to be found. #bikingproblems.

After some city traffic through Walnut Creek, we made our way onto North Gate Road, and around mile 40 is when we finally started the long-awaited Diablo climb. I soon realized that the climb would be pretty reasonable grade-wise. It was constantly changing, but it generally hovered around the 5-7% range, with the occasional double-digit grade thrown in there for good measure. It felt comparable to the climbs I was used to doing in the Berkeley hills – just a hell of a lot longer.

We stopped for water and bathrooms just past the halfway point, and then we finally made our way up to the summit. The last 100 yards of the ride are ridiculously steep (15-16% grade, according to sources found on the interwebs), and I had totally been planning to get off my bike to walk that stretch in order to save my legs for the rest of the ride. As we approached the summit, though, and as I told Rachel, “OK, I’ll see you at the top,” she yelled back, “COME ON CHEN! YOU CAN DO IT!”

Well, I couldn’t exactly NOT do it after that. In a game-time decision, I continued to pedal after Rachel towards the top, and within 10 seconds, I was instantly cursing myself for doing so. It felt like I was doing straight up squats with a polar bear on my back. I wanted out, but I was trapped – the road was so steep that bailing was simply not an option. There was no way I would have been able to clip out and dismount without face-planting or causing some sort of scene.

So I kept after it, swerving to the left and to the right like a drunken idiot as I did so. In reality, it probably took me like a minute to get to the top, but it seemed to drag on FOREVER. My quads were on fire; my breathing was beyond labored, and my thoughts went into a very dark place. When I finally reached the top, I yelled, “Rachel – I’m totally going to hate you later!”

Don’t worry, Rachel. I don’t hate you. I’m not-so-secretly glad that you motivated me to get to the top without bailing. Plus it’s hard to be angry when you’re surrounded by views like this:

We obviously had to take our obligatory summit pics:

After a short water and bathroom break, and after lamenting that the visitor’s center did not have large lattes in a bowl, we descended back down (which took all of like, two seconds) and started to make our way back to home base.

I should have been really happy at this point, having conquered such a big climb and knowing we were on our way home, but right around mile 65 or so is when I realized that I may not have brought enough food. This was ironic, given that Rachel and I had been laughing that morning about how many calories we were carrying.

I started to get pretty hungry, and then between miles 70-75, I was downright hangry. I could feel myself getting shaky, and I was dreading the inevitable death that comes with under-fueling while biking. We knew a gas station was ahead, but we weren’t sure of the exact distance, so I was rationing my remaining Honey Stinger Waffle in an effort to avoid completely crashing.

At this point, Rachel and I parted ways with Matt, Katie, and Mark, who all had obligations at home, and I secretly wished I were BARTing with them, because I was seriously doubting my ability to make it back in one piece.

Luckily, the gas station at mile 75 came along to save the day. I rushed in and came back out with a Powerade, two Snickers bars for myself and Rachel, and an impulse purchase of sour cream and onion Ruffles chips.


We must have been a comical sight to see, with me chugging Powerade and shoving fistfuls of chips into my mouth while Rachel sang the praises of her glorious Snickers bar. Sometimes, Ironman training makes me feel like a crazy person.

After inhaling 450 calories in the span of four minutes, I deemed myself ready to conquer our last big climb of the day – Pinehurst.

Pinehurst is always challenging, mainly because we always do it towards the end of our rides, and the last few tenths of a mile are quite steep. Although I knew I was in for some pain, it was actually comforting to be in familiar territory again. I knew exactly what to expect, so I just kept my pace conservative all the way to the top. After a bit more climbing on Skyline, we finally, FINALLY made our way back home.

In the end, we traveled 90+ miles and climbed 9500 feet through all of the East Bay lands. It was an epic journey that spanned all of the emotions, and I’m really proud of all of us for getting through a ride that was considerably tougher than what we’ll face in Whistler. At least I hope that’s true.

Most importantly, I finally got my damn latte in a bowl.

IM Canada Week 14 Recap:

  • PM: Trainer ride easy but longer: 30.3 miles in 2:02:02 (14.9mph). Tried to make up for my lazy Sunday during last week’s struggle.
  • PM: Running w/2x3-mile tempo: 8:13 (warm-up), 7:29, 7:22, 7:17, 7:54 (recovery), 7:28, 7:26, 7:14, 7:46 (cool-down), 7:26 (0.1) (cool-down); 9.1 miles total (~7:34 overall pace). I had a 20mph tailwind on the way out, which made my first tempo set feel more like marathon goal pace. The 20mph headwind on the way back made the second tempo set feel like a near-vomit fest.
  • Immediately followed by swimming 2250 yards, including 500s swimming and pulling (average pace of 1:51/100yd)
  • PM: Swimming 3200 yards including 10x200EBEH (3:32, 3:33, 3:33, 3:33, 3:33, 3:31, 3:31, 3:31, 3:29, 3:32) (average pace of 1:48/100yd)
  • Immediately followed by an easy/moderate stationary bike ride: 65 minutes 17.92 miles (16.5mph)
  • PM: Running easy/moderate: 10.1 miles in 1:21:28 (~8:04 pace). I may or may not have had 1.5 glasses of wine immediately prior to this run, thanks to a work-related happy hour. When duty calls…
  • PM: Swimming 5000 yards, including 2x(500 swim, 500 pull, 500 paddles, 500 kick), finished off with a 1000 swim (average pace of 1:55/100yd). Kicking for 500 yards is hard. And paddles make me sore.
  • AM/PM: An epic journey biking from Oakland to Mt. Diablo and back: 90.45 miles with 9500ft of climbing in 7:32:34 (12.0mph)
  • Unplanned rest day. I was trying REALLY hard not to take a rest day this week after all of my unplanned rest earlier this month, but I started to sneeze uncontrollably last night and was really stuffed up, and now I have a fever of 100.2. So I’m trying not to be an idiot.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

IM Canada: Week 13 – Chen’s version (i.e., the struggle)

Posted by Chen

Before I get into this post, I’ll just go ahead and say that everything I’m about to whine about can only be classified as #firstworldproblems. For serious. We are all beyond lucky to be training for an Ironman. We should feel extremely fortunate that our bodies allow us to do all three sports with relative ease, even when we make silly training decisions. The mere fact that Ironman training is one of my biggest issues right now speaks volumes to how privileged and carefree a life I lead.

That said, Ironman training is hard $h!t, man! I knew this would happen, this training slump I’m in. I just wasn’t sure when. Up until a week or two ago, I was legitimately enjoying this whole training process, even with the seemingly absurd amount of time I was putting in. I was having fun learning new things with swimming and cycling, and I was enjoying running more than I had in a long time, now that my runs were limited and were to be savored each time.

But lately, it all feels like a chore. I can’t seem to wake up for AM workouts during the week, and I have to bribe myself to drive to the gym instead of home after work each evening. Then, when I get there, it takes all my will power to complete both workouts on double days instead of just bailing after one. And with all of my personal travel during my weekends in May, it’s been incredibly hard to convince myself to do my long workouts after I get back from a flight or drive. So far, the desire to nap instead has won out.

This slump has surely also been fueled by work going bat$h!t crazy this month, and then to top things off, I walked to my car Monday morning (already running late to an 8am meeting, mind you) to find my sideview mirror hanging down by a cord, a dent in my door, and of course no note to be found. F***er. It turns out that driving without the ability to merge left is hard.

I could go on, but then I’d be boring even myself. So that’s where I’m at. I know this slump is temporary, and that I’ll soon look back on this post and laugh about how much of a baby I’m being. That said, I also think it’s important to document this time so that my posts are a true representation of this whole training journey. It’s not all going to be sunshine and rainbows, but I suppose that’s why we all signed up for this in the first place – for the challenge. Well, Ironman training, sir – you may have won out this week, but I’ll be back for you yet.

And for funsies, here are some random pictures from the wedding we attended in Tahoe last weekend. Personal travel may wreak havoc on my training, but it’s always worth it in the end!

IM Canada Week 13 Recap:

  • AM: Trainer ride with short fast spin intervals: 18 miles (15.4mph)
  • PM: Progression run on the Bay Trail: 8 miles in 1:01:17 (~7:40 pace); Splits: 7:52, 7:48, 7:47, 7:46, 7:47, 7:38, 7:25, 7:14. I had a tailwind on the way out and a headwind on the way back. One half of this run felt much better than the other.
  • Immediately followed by swimming 3000 yards – swim / pull ladder (average pace of 1:50/100yd)
  • PM: Stationary ride with resistance intervals: 25.25 miles (18.7mph). If only I could actually bike that fast.
  • Immediately followed by swimming 2100 yards, including 2x1000 in 18:34 and 18:40 (overall average pace of 1:51/100yd).
  • PM: Easy run on the Bay Trail: 10 miles in 1:24:46 (~8:29 pace); Splits: 8:46, 8:45, 8:42, 8:26, 8:21, 8:19, 8:28, 8:16, 8:16, 8:27
  • PM: Swimming 5100 yards. I was really happy with how this workout went. Despite the length, I felt strong throughout and also managed to pick up the pace as I went along. It went a little something like this:
    • 500 warm-up (9:01)
    • 4x300 on 6:00 (5:19, 5:17, 5:18, 5:16)
    • 4x250 on 5:00 (4:22, 4:20, 4:21, 4:21)
    • 4x200 on 4:00 (3:28, 3:27, 3:28, 3:22)
    • 4x150 on 3:00 (2:33, 2:33, 2:33, 2:33)
    • 4x100 on 2:00 (1:41, 1:41, 1:40, 1:40)
    • 4x50 on 1:00 (0:47, 0:48, 0:49, 0:48)
    • 400 cool-down (7:07)
    • No rest between sets, but rested for a little longer after warm-up and before cool-down
  • AM: Running 7 easy but hilly miles through Golden Gate Park (~8:52 pace). I meant to get up earlier to run 15+ miles before we made the drive up to Tahoe for a wedding, but I was seriously lacking in motivation and barely got these 7 in.
  • Unplanned rest. If I thought motivation was lacking on Saturday, I didn’t know what was coming. I could have easily gotten a long trainer ride in after we got back from Tahoe in the mid-afternoon timeframe (hell, I could have easily cycled outside given how late the sun sets now), but I instead procrastinated, took a nap, and then proceeded to sit on my ass, watch TV, and eat crap for the rest of the night. It felt a little bit like I was playing hooky from my training, which was fun while I was doing it, but then I of course felt super guilty the next morning. Good thing Diablo is happening this weekend so that I’m forced to get a long ride in!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Folsom Lake Race Recap (i.e. We're happy with the time so far)

Posted by Matt

I haven't been posting much lately, but a race recap is the perfect time to get back into it. So here goes...

On Saturday,  Katie and I competed in the Folsom lake international triathlon and aqua bike. I can't say enough good things about the race - it was fantastic. The race was relatively small,  (146 for the Olympic distance and maybe 200 people total), really low key, and yet very professionally done. As Katie detailed in her post, we showed up at 7 for an 8 am start, and had time to register for the race (yes, register day of), use the restrooms (and there was only 1 person in line for real bathrooms!), set up our transition,  and get down to the water (and  given California's drought, it was a long way down to the reservoir). At each of these checkpoints, our phrase was, "we're happy with the time so far," which really meant - "hey, we're going to make it to this race after all." Luckily, the happiness with times continued as the race went on. 

The Swim
Once we got to the beach, the water was clean and clear,  a very nice 63 degrees for a wet suit swim. The weather was equally perfect, 55 degrees at the start, warming to the mid 60s for the finish. I didn't have time for a warm up,  but managed to splash some water over me and get back on the beach for the wave 1 start. My goal for the swim was to be sub 30 minutes (a nice round number and a good goal considering my only other Olympic swim involved me swimming to an in water start as the gun went off and taking a wrong turn part way through - luckily a kind kayaker pointed me in the right direction - for 35 minutes). The swim felt like it took a long time. I'm not liking the implications for 2.4 mile swim when 0.9 feels long, but I'm not really a swimmer, so most swims feel long, really no matter the distance.  And overall I felt good, coming out of the water at 29:45 and hitting my goal! Next came the 0.3 mile run from the water to what should be the edge of the water if the lake was full and to t1.  Once I was ready to bike, it was 5:45 total for T1 with the run from waters edge.

Maybe the course felt long, because I can't swim in a straight line?
Or my Garmin 310 can't track in the water very well. Either way.
The Bike
The bike course was great as it had very minimal traffic on quality rural roads. It had rolling hills, climbing gently from mile 6 to 17 or so and then descending back to T2 for 1000 feet of total elevation gain. Despite it being a small race,  every turn had course marshals directing you the right way.  Throughout the course I lept frogged with 6 or 7 other guys,  generally catching up or passing them on the uphill and then getting smoked on the downs. Turns out,  I like uphill - in glad IM Canada will have a couple of those. I again had a round number in mind, hoping to beat 20 mph on the bike. With fellow triathletes around me to motivate, I beat that with some room to spare,  coming in to transition at 20.6 mph. And that included a short, but lovely section of dirt road at the very end to get back to transition.  Side note: I love taking my road bike on dirt roads so I actually enjoyed it (Katie, however, agrees to disagree about the the dirt road being fun).

Top - an excellent elevation profile for a fast bike.
Bottom - For the run - Yeah, I couldn't read the course website's text either before the race. 
The Run
My goal for the run portion of the race was to be able to finish strong. I wasn't sure how it would go, considering this was my first brick workout this year. Also, in all my previous triathlons, I have slowed significantly as the run went on for reasons including going too hard on the bike, not being in good run shape, serious heat, or starting the run off too fast. I had read that the run course was on single track trails,  but my previous experience with trails around Folsom lake (on the other side of the lake) was that it was relatively flat. These trails were beautiful, but decidedly not flat. My watch only registered 475 feet of gain,  but there were several short and steep climbs. The descents were equally steep, not allowing me to really regain time on the downs.  But, this is the exactly the type of terrain and trails I have been training on. So despite my pace being a bit slower than I had anticipated, I was in my wheelhouse. I started conservatively, but picked up my effort and continued strong through the finish. After the race, another racer told me,  "I thought I was running pretty fast, but you past me like I was standing still". The other racers were equally supportive on the course, I exchanged "great job" or other encouragements with everyone on the run course.  I finished with a respectable 7:04 pace for a final time of 2:33:20, an 11 minute PR over my previous Olympic distance race. 

Feeling good at the end of the run. 

We had a few goals for the race
1) Get a check of our fitness so far:
For me this race showed me that I'm right where I want to be. For swimming, it looks like I should get used to swimming longer, so I'll try to add some more open water swims and long sets into my training going forward. My biking has been feeling relatively good over the course of the training, so I'm going to keep doing more of the same there - biking to and from work once each week with tempo and sprint sessions thrown in now and again and riding long on the weekend. The run went well, but I think I could have actually pushed a bit harder. I haven't done many tempo runs recently, so I think I'll try to add some of those in to get used to running hard when tired. Also a brick or two probably won't hurt. 

2) Figure out if we're missing anything (particularly in regards to transitions) and get more open water race experience: 
Despite deciding to do the race the day before, we managed to show up with everything we needed, so huge win there. The open water swim went well for both Katie and I, so another success there. 

3) Inject some enthusiasm into our training - which has been suffering a bit the past 2 weeks with the step back week and then tough weeks at work for both Katie and I.
 In all regards, it was a huge success. Both Katie and I are really excited about the training going forward. We even pulled off our biggest swim yet (4400 yards) the day after the race and added a shake out run as well. Can't wait for the next challenge - which looks like Diablo next weekend! 

Bonus of a small race with awards 5 deep - podiums for both Katie (3rd overall in Aquabike) and I (4th in my age group)!

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 13 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

Another week in the books! As much as I actually am having fun with the training (most of the time), I can tell I'm starting to look forward to (and beyond) the race. For example, I've been starting to countdown the number of days left that I have to wake up at 5 am to train (still a lot), or the number of 5+ hour bikes rides I have left (7). This week there was a little bit of lack of love for the bike (you'll see). Here's my week in review.

am- 5000 yard endurance swim. I did a descending ladder set which I'm specifically listing for Chen who loves ladder/pyramid swim sets: 3 x 500 + 3 x 400 + 3 x 300 + 3 x 200 + 3 x 100 all continuous on 1:30 base, + warm up and cool down.
pm- 1 hour Trainer Road ride (~ 15.3 miles): re-measured my FTP. 8 weeks ago when we first got Trainer Road I came in at 176, and this time I was 192 W. I don't think I've actually improved that much, I think I was just less conservative this time (it HURT at the end). The reward for this great effort is that all of my trainer workouts will now be harder. Sweet :p

am- 3000 yard "bonus swim". This is a bonus because I don't swim 3x/week ever. The real reason I did it is because Travers skipped his Monday swim and had to go Tuesday instead, so I figured why not.
pm- 7 mile run (7:39 avg) with 3 x 1 mile repeats on the road (6:54, 6:45, 6:42). Running felt great!

Bike commute, 29.7 miles, 13.3 mph (2400 ft + headwind). Travers and I were pretty lazy with our commute ride this week. I even had some extra time to take a picture. We are really lucky that 2/3 of our commute is on the aptly named "Redwood Rd"... can't beat the scenery for a commute!

I also see this "run off the bike" concept in a lot of training plans so I put on my running shoes and went 1.5 miles when we got home from the commute (8:20 pace). My run feels fine off the bike (let's face it, I'm obviously psyched to be doing a sport that I love instead of biking), so I'm not sure this 1.5 miler did much for me. Then again, almost all the training plans have it, and what's another 13 min of training in a 15 hour week? I may or may not try this again.

am- spin class 45 min (~12 mi) + 15 min core class
pm- 6.5 mile run (8:26)

3400 yards at master's swim practice (still my favorite workout of the week!)

68.7 mile bike ride, 13.8 mph, 5800-6000 ft climbing (depending whose Garmin you believe). My legs were SO tired even before I started this ride, and with biking being my least favorite triathlon sport I was less than thrilled to be crushing my quads in the East Bay hills, not to mention riding in a wind so strong it was literally tossing me around on portions of the ride. Travers got this shot of me at one point while he was waiting for me during the ride (which he had to do several times, being a much stronger rider).

Shortly after this photo was taken, I ran over something metal in the bike lane (which I often do because the bike lane on San Pablo Dam road has a lot of crap in it and I'm not that coordinated of a cyclist) and I hear the loud whooshing of air. My first flat on this bike! I yelled after Travers but he was already way ahead of me. So I sent him a text to let him know I flatted and started changing my tire. I had an unfortunate location for getting a flat on a stretch of road that had 50 mph traffic, a bike lane, then a narrow rocky shoulder with a barbed wire fence running along it. There were quite a few cyclists going by (who all offered to help by the way... thanks fellow cyclists!) so I was confined to changing my tire in the narrow rocky shoulder. So here I am, squatting on these uneven rocks with my quads already on fire, changing my tire (a task which takes me about 25 minutes). At one point I accidentally maneuvered too far back into the shoulder and got a sharp unpleasant poke in the ass with a few barbs. Seriously?!? Why is cycling even a sport?!?! Finally, my husband who eventually realized I was no longer biking with him came to help finish off the process (ie. make sure I put my wheel back on correctly so it didn't fly off as I was descending back into Oakland) and I grumpily finished the ride. 

Part of my self-imposed training plan is to do one long run each month, and since I can't do it any of the next 3 weekends today was it for May. Considering how fried my legs were yesterday, I was really worried that this would be a death march. I even tried to slow down from my last long run and chose a pancake flat route along the Bay Trail. To my surprise, when I started, it felt great!! I ran a really relaxed 20 miles at 8:39 pace. SO much more pleasant than the bike ride. (And yes, I do realize that some of the reason for my pleasant running experiences and unpleasant biking experiences is my mental attitude, but I just can't help it! And I actually do like biking, but after 2 hours of it I'm all set.)

Afterward, we had a southern brunch which I'm sure replaced all of the calories I burned this weekend and more. Whoever invented fried chicken benedict with spicy hollandiase is a genius. 

Goal for next week: positive mental attitude on the bike!