Sunday, June 21, 2015

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 19 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

When I was first making my training plan, I was concerned about having week 20 as a step back week so close to taper. I can now safely say that I have beaten the crap out of myself for the last 3 weeks and I am more than happy to take a step back. This week was somehow productive at work, full of partying, AND full of exercising. I don't know how it all fit, besides the fact that I didn't do any chores. I'm looking at a pile of work clothes that needs to be ironed, our fridge is empty because I didn't grocery shop, and I didn't get a card for my parents' anniversary (6/19), awesome friend's birthday (also 6/19), or Father's Day (sorry, Dad, you're the best!). Here's why:

am- 3000 yard swim as a recovery from the 5k no from the prior Saturday. My arms actually felt decent considering my huge positive split in that race.
pm- Trainer Road/Diamond. This was a pretty hard workout the day after a 20 mile run.

am- 4200 yard swim, including 4 x {2 x 250 @ 3:45 + 1 x 300 @ 4:00} (no rest between sets). The 300s were ~3:50 and this 3rd swim in 4 days felt great!
pm- 8 mile progression run (slow --> fast/ 8:02 overall average). My legs definitely felt like bricks, thank you last weekend's 20 miler.

29.7 mile bike commute, ~ 2300 ft climbing, 14.0 mph. There was a headwind, but I think I may have drafted off of Travers in the headwind on the downhill ;) I had a funny moment of cycling stereotypes when we had stopped briefly and were pulling back onto the road, but I heard two cyclists (couldn't see them yet) coming up the hill around the curve speaking Italian. I said "we should let these guys go, they sound fast." Why would being Italian make them fast?? I'm half Italian, and I'm not fast! However, it did turn out that my stereotype was right and they WERE fast!

am- 3600 yard swim, including a few shorts/fast sets. I was really happy with my times again during this workout. My disastrous 5k OWS was nearly forgotten by the time I finished this workout and I loved swimming again.
pm- 6.5 mile run, 8:22 pace (pace was fine but my legs felt like bricks, again).

REST DAY! (Which included 5 miles of walking, does that count for anything?)
This was a fun day because the Warriors victory parade was routed right down our street! We got a great spot to enjoy the NBA champions! (I hope nobody from my work has found this blog but if they have I was at work the WHOLE day Friday... really.)

Here's me at work

The Mayor of Oakland & MC Hammer in a fire-breathing snail. So much better than the Mayor of SF's ride. 

Hi, Klay!

Draymond & Marshawn- this must have been the party bus

Steph Curry...facing the wrong side of the road!!

Igoudala/ finals MVP!

And then I went to work (seriously). 

am- 2.35 mile swim (approximate) at Aquatic Park in 1:00:45. Despite the overuse of Body Glide, I always end up chafing miserably in salt water. Oh well. I think this is the first time I have swam 4 times in a week since quitting college swimming after my sophomore year (ie. a long LONG time ago). It felt great!!
pm- Thanks to Chen's actual date being out of town, I got to be her stand-in date for her AMAZING work party! Her work party consisted of all the free ballpark food you can eat (we took on soft pretzels, mac & cheese, a brat, and an ice cream sandwich), booze, and three surprise musical guests. I'm not sure if it was the large quantity of alcohol consumed under the beating hot sun, but that party was AWESOME!! First, we got to see Jason Derulo (sorry, my pictures suck because we were still busy eating far from the stage at this point).

Then, Imagine Dragons! I learned they are from Vegas, and also that they're pretty good live, and also that I know most of their songs thanks to my Pandora station.

This guy can really sing!

Obligatory selfie; if we're not training, we're definitely eating and drinking!

And then came the headlining act... 

Recognize her?

How about these sharks?

Don't drop Katy Perry!

Afterward, I went home and watched Will Farrell and Kristen Wiig's Lifetime movie (a great recommendation from Chen!) while hydrating to get rid of my massive headache (the penalty for drinking all day in the sun, unfortunately). 

Triple layer brick. Here's what we did:
Bike #1- 23.7 miles, 2280 ft climbing, 13.7 mph
Run #1- 6 miles, 470 ft climing, 8:44 pace
Bike #2- 28.0 miles, 2230 ft climbing, 14.6 mph
Run #2- 6 miles, 470 ft climbing, 8:28 pace
Bike #3- 23.7 miles, 2280 ft climbing, 13.9 mph (same as bike #1)
Run #3- 4 miles, 308 ft climbing, 8:30 pace

Total biking: 75.3 miles, 6789 ft climbing, 14.0 mph average
Total running: 16 miles, 1253 ft climbing, 8:34 pace

This workout was a BEAST. It was tough, and despite fueling enough (so I thought) and hydrating more than enough, I was a little bit shaky at the end. I don't know if this was related to exhaustion, fueling, or too much partying and exercising in one week. It's really daunting to think the the Ironman is about 5 hours longer and given today's workout I'm still not too sure I'm ready. But there's not really enough time left to worry about that, so onward we go!

IM Canada: Week 19 – Chen’s version (i.e., that one time we worked out six times in a single day)

Posted by Chen

Today’s triple brick workout will definitely go down as one of the crazier things I’ll ever do in this lifetime. I met Rachel and Travers at Inspiration Point in Orinda at 7:45am, and we didn’t pull out of the parking lot to leave until 5:45pm. In between, we biked 23.6 miles, ran 6 miles, biked 28 miles, ran 6 miles, biked 23.6 miles, and ran 4 final miles. And it was nuts. And that’s all I have the energy to type about it for now J. More details below!

Saw this sign far too many times today

The view from Inspiration Point


IM Canada Week 19 Recap:

  • Rest. I saw a word-of-the-day on Instagram that really aptly described how I felt that day (and many other days this training cycle): exhaustipated – too tired to give a $h!t. I could have worked out that day, but I really didn’t want to, and I decided I wasn’t going to let myself feel guilty about it. Also, I have already incorporated that delightful word into my daily vocabulary.
  • PM: Stationary biking easy/moderate: 65 minutes 19.37 miles (17.9mph)
  • Immediately followed by swimming 2500 yards, consisting of 5x(250swim, 250 pull) (average pace of 1:46/100yd). My pull times are usually comically slower than my swim times, so I was excited that they actually came somewhat close during this workout:
    • (4:27, 4:35)
    • (4:24, 4:31)
    • (4:21, 4:29)
    • (4:19, 4:26)
    • (4:18, 4:28)
  • PM: Trainer Road FTP test. I was so excited to finally get Trainer Road set up on my computer, and I eagerly got on my bike to see where my FTP was at. The workout was tough, though I admittedly didn’t push as hard as I could have, because I always fear bonking. At the end, I looked up to see what my value was, only to see… nothing. While troubleshooting my ANT+ stick earlier, I had somehow disabled VirtualPower, and when I realized this, it was the saddest thing ever. Guess I’ll have to re-do the test next week… 16.63 miles in 1:00:00 (16.6mph)
  • PM: Running Bay Trail steady state: 1 mile warm-up (8:06), 8 miles steady state (7:46, 7:44, 7:44, 7:43, 7:46, 7:46, 7:38, 7:34), 1.15 miles cool-down (8:01, 7:40 (0.15)); Overall: 10.15 miles in 1:18:56 (~7:47)
  • Immediately followed by swimming 3000 yards continuously (average pace of 1:51/100yd). I’m not sure if these continuous swims actually improve my fitness level, but they certainly do wonders for my mental confidence!
  • PM: Very easy trainer ride: 10 miles 43:36 (13.8mph). I got home from a dinner at 10pm after having a couple glasses of wine and very much wanted to skip this workout, but I refused to have yet another unplanned rest day in the week. So I half-@$$ed a spin and mostly watched TV :P.
  • AM: Easy run in GGP: 5.45 miles in 47:31 (~8:43 pace). I was supposed to go open water swimming that morning, but when my alarm went off at 6am, I knew it wasn’t happening. The exhaustipation continued.
  • AM/PM: Triple brick madness with Rachel and Travers:
    • Bike #1: 23.6 miles ~2280ft of gain (~13.8mph)
    • Run #1: 6 miles ~440ft of gain (~8:45 pace)
    • Bike #2: 28 miles ~2220ft of gain (~14.6mph)
    • Run #2: 6 miles ~440ft of gain (~8:30 pace)
    • Bike #3: 23.6 miles ~2280ft of gain (~13.8mph)
    • Run #3: 4 miles ~300ft of gain (~8:32 pace)
    • OVERALL BIKE: 75.2 miles (~14.0mph)
    • OVERALL RUN: 16 miles (~8:36 pace)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 18 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

Well, this entry should be short, sweet, and no nonsense since I wrote an extensive post about my major fail of the week yesterday. If you recall, last weekend was the insanely hot Mt Hamilton death ride that resulted in me sleeping 12 hours last Sunday. So I went into this week with low expectations (always the way to go!) and fortunately surprised myself. Here goes,

pm- Trainer Road Owl (60 min trainer bike ride/14.5 mi)
I like Owl because it has (short spurts (~30 sec) of high power riding followed by a few minutes of just below FTP) x 5. It's good for a day when your legs are tried but you still want to do some quality work.

am- 4000 yard swim. I thought my arms would be tired from basically sprinting a 2 mile OWS 3 days prior, but they felt great!
pm- 9 mile tempo pyramid that I made up while I was bored at work (see Chen's entry). Paces: 8:22, 7:56, 7:42, 7:25, 7:07, 7:24, 7:41, 7:52, 8:00 (7:43 avg). I like the "pyramid" concept because the focus is on hitting a specific pace each mile rather than just how long/sufferful the run is.

Bike commute- 29.7 miles, 14.2 mph, 2300 ft climbing. At first I was really unhappy that we decided to bike this day because it actually rained. I showed up at work with my ass SOAKING WET and luckily I had a meeting at 8 am that day. So that was really professional. When I left the room I moved my wet chair into the corner so that hopefully nobody sat in it too soon after. But on the way home, a miracle occurred- there was no headwind tunnel! The past 2 months there has been a regular wind tunnel that we ride straight into the first 10 miles of the ride. Because of the cooler weather, it wasn't there and it turns out the ride was way less miserable than usual. Thanks weather!

am- 3000 yard swim, mostly easy with a few hard efforts in preparation for the weekend's 5k. (Unfortunately, some part of this strategy failed.)
pm- 7.1 mile run, 8:26 pace (my legs felt like bricks, as the constant training started to catch up to me).

am- 50 min spin at the gym w/low resistance and high cadence (90+), 11 miles (40 min).

am- the 5k open water swim
mid-day- a quick refueling. Will a 1400 calorie lunch be enough?
pm- 63.5 mile ride, 13.8 mph, ~5400 ft climbing. On the first climb of this ride, my quads were already sore and I was really starting to regret the burger/shake combo (imagine what your stomach might feel like if you ate a rock). Luckily though, things began to click after about 2000 ft climbing and it was smooth sailing from there. Well, except for the wind which was tossing us around like rag dolls. And it wasn't coming from any one specific direction, but more like from every direction. So we'd be riding along on a straight road and all of a sudden a gust would throw me into traffic. Then I'd be in a headwind, and 30 sec later another gust would throw me toward the barbed wire fence. Between the less than ideal morning swim and this ridiculous wind, I was really just finding the whole thing comical. Surprisingly, the pace ended up being really good for the course- only 0.2 mph slower than my best time ever on it.

20 mile run, flat as a pancake, 8:32 pace. My legs felt surprisingly good, although I have a feeling I will pay for this one. 

75% there. Wow.

IM Canada: Week 18 – Chen’s version (i.e., business as usual)

Posted by Chen

I don’t have anything particularly noteworthy to say about this week, except that after weeks of travel and other random life hurdles, I finally got through an entire 7-day span without taking an unplanned rest day. Thank the good lord. Hoping the next 6 weeks go just as smoothly.

And with that, onto my weekly recap!

IM Canada Week 18 Recap:

  • PM: Easy recovery trainer ride: 15 miles 1:04:58 (13.9mph). I was so tired after work that I ended up falling asleep and didn’t wake up until 9:30pm when Brandon got home from a dinner. Not wanting to start the week off with a rest day, I forced myself to get on the trainer at 10pm for an easy recovery ride. Crazytown, USA.
  • PM: Running Bay Trail tempo ladder: 9.2 miles (~7:46 pace): Goal: warm-up mile, 8:00, 7:45, 7:30, 7:15, 7:30, 7:45, 8:00, cool-down mile; Actual: 8:21, 8:03, 7:44, 7:32, 7:07, 7:27, 7:35, 7:54, 8:05, 8:13 (0.2). During work that day, Rachel told me that this was her plan for her evening run, and I decided to copy her. In case you’ve been following and have been wondering, you’re correct – I have no original training ideas and only know how to imitate others
  • Immediately followed by swimming 2200 yards, including 10x100 on 2:00: 1:43, 1:44, 1:43, 1:44, 1:45, 1:44, 1:44, 1:45, 1:44, 1:44 (overall average pace of 1:48/100yd)
  • PM: Stationary ride moderate effort: 30.3 miles 1:37:59 (18.6mph). I’ve recently taken to watching Hulu on my iPhone at the gym to catch up on shows, which usually results in me staying on the bike longer than I otherwise would. Winning all around.
  • PM: Running Bay Trail easy: 6.5 miles (no Garmin) – this was my first watch-less run in a couple months, and it was pretty nice to not worry about pace and just… run
  • Immediately followed by swimming 3000 yards – swim/pull ladder (average pace of 1:49/100yd)
  • PM: Swimming 3250 yards, including random swim and pull intervals (average pace of 1:47/100yd). Paige and I went to the Koret Center at USF, which has an amazing pool, but unless you’re a student/member, it’s a $20 drop-in fee, so we don’t go often. But look how pretty!
Massive, gorgeous pool

  • PM: Biking East Bay hills with Rachel and Travers: 63.5 miles, ~5600ft of climbing, 13.8mph. Then I ate a lot of delicious food.
Cucumber salad, gyoza, and seafood/vegetable udon noodle soup. I.e., all of the noms

  • AM: 20-mile long run along the SF Embarcadero: 2:57:30 (~8:53 average pace): My legs felt pretty heavy after the previous day’s ride, but I ran 8 of these miles with my old coworkers, who luckily like to take their time and chat, so overall, I felt pretty decent on this run
  • PM: Biking in Healdsburg: 19.4 miles 1:08:08 (17.1 mph): Paige had to pick up his Kokomo wine shipment, so we headed up north to Healdsburg and did a quick ride before picking up and tasting. After the weekend’s adventures, my legs were a little bit angry at me at first, but they eventually loosened up and cooperated. We also tasted across the way at Papapietro Perry, and I somehow became a member today. Funny how that happened.

Wine tasting on a sunny afternoon is kind of the best

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Race report: USMS Del Valle open water festival (5k)

Posted by Rachel

If you don't feel like reading this whole recap, the main takeaway from this race is that I'm not quite in good enough shape to finish a strong 5 km open water swim. The next 5k I sign up for will most certainly be a run.

It's hard to remember exactly why I thought signing for a 5k open water swim would be a good idea. I THINK my rationale was that 5k is longer than 3.8k, so if I can do the 5k it'll be good IM training. It also dawned on me while I was researching this race that is it a swimmer race, meaning nobody wears a wetsuit. What the hell, I thought... I'll be a swimmer. I won't wear a wetsuit.

I now much better understand the effect of the wetsuit. I never thought it made me much faster since I swim pretty high in the water anyway, but I do think it really helps in sighting. When you lift your head up to look for the buoy, your hips want to sink. In a wetsuit, they can't really sink. I think that's the main advantage for me, and today around the 4 km mark I really wished I wasn't sinking.

I made some friends
Before the race, I met two new friends while I was checking out the course. (By the way, I had to walk REALLY far to find the turn buoys at the far end of the course. Not a good sign when the swim course feels like a really long walk.) Anyway, at the end of my 2 mile swim last week I remember passing somebody doing the butterfly. I thought I was hallucinating from oxygen deprivation or something, but it turns out that this guy I met this morning DID in fact do the whole 1 mile swim butterfly. (Crazy. And no, that's not enough fly for the guinness book of world records, I asked.) Anyway, he and the girl I met were really nice and let me keep my stuff with their family, after I asked the girl where she puts her car key during the swim without a wetsuit (a detail I had not considered until I was stuck with a car key, a swimsuit, and a cap). Also, my pool training buddy had signed up for the event too which was great.

Race plan
Last weekend, I really attacked the 2 mile swim. I was really tired this week (cumulative training effect and all) so I decided to just go long and comfortable and see if I could hold on the whole 5k (spoiler alert: no). In the pre-race course description and safety blurb, the RD said 'if you are at all apprehensive about your ability to complete the 5 or 10k, please withdraw now.' I stood there for a minute wondering if I should withdraw, but I had already paid $75 and drove an hour, so I went for it. I figured, now is as good a time as any for my longest swim in 12 years :p

It's go time
The water was warm, 72 degrees, so it was no issue temperature-wise. People were commenting that the wind had started to pick up and I was wondering why anyone cared- it's not a bike race or a run, people! (more on this later). We started and everything was fine. I set my watch to beep every 1 km and the first 2k or so were really uneventful. There was a little bit of chop at the far end of the course (wind-duh!), which really surprised me but I just tried to swim smoothly through it. It was a 2-lap course and other than my goggle strap slipping off once and having to fix it, it was really going fine. I noticed my time was about 43:00 at the halfway point which seemed kind of slow, but I was really doing this for training anyway.

So lap 2 starts and everything is going fine. Around 3k I still kind of felt like I was going pretty easy so I picked it up a little (so I thought; looking at my splits I really didn't). The crowd had thinned quite a bit and I seemed to be having issues sighting, but it wasn't that big of a deal. Then at the far end of the course, I started to lose my mental game. This swim is SO LONG and I am still so far away. Right at that point my watch beeped for the 4 km mark, and I was thinking that on IM day I'll be out of the water at this stage. But today, I am getting really tired and starting die. At some point I ran into one of the turn buoys and got all tangled up in the yellow rope that was hanging from it. I have no idea how it happened, but I had to stop and get untangled and another girl actually stopped to see if I was ok. I started stopping (too frequently) to find the next buoy, figure out "am I there yet?" (I was not there yet), and the whole thing was going down (I'm yelling timber). If you don't believe me, you can check out my Garmin file.

See? I told you so. 

So I was really struggling, but then at the last turn buoy with about 500 m left I saw my pool training buddy! (He has a pretty distinctive stroke, which was really helpful for me this particular moment.) I thought to myself, if I can push to stay with him in training, I can do it today, too. And then I got really mad at myself for basically giving up back at the 4 km mark, because I never give up in practice no matter how tired I am. So now I'm dead set on trying to keep up with my training buddy, and I'm working harder and feeling better again. But somehow, seemingly all of a sudden, I found myself about 50 yards to left of my training buddy and everyone else I went around that last buoy with. How the hell did this happen? Well, it's probably because my stroke was completely falling apart. No matter.... I just kept chugging and finished strong (although my training buddy did come out 20 sec before me). I ended up finishing in 1:27:21, which to be honest is longer than I thought it would take. But what can you do... if I look at it as a workout, then hopefully it will make me stronger and it will have been worth it!

A few seconds after I finished, all of a sudden I felt like I was going to pass out (I have passed out many times before and unfortunately know what it feels like). I had to sit down right away, and after about a minute I felt perfectly fine. This has NEVER ever ever happened after a swim before so I was slightly concerned. A quick google shows it could be related to motion sickness (which I am highly susceptible to, thanks Dad) and earplugs tend to help most people who this has happened to. I also saw that it could be a blood distribution thing. Anyway, I'll just be careful in the future and hopefully that was a one time thing. I hung around for a bit talking to my training buddy and his wife and my new friends (well one of them.... the other was still in the water doing a 5k butterfly). I found out that I got third in my age group but decided not to wait around for the medal because they weren't planning to distribute them any time soon and I had a bike ride to do. 

Also relevant to post-race, I was craving a coffee milkshake and thought that I earned it, so I got lunch at Habit. I also followed with a 63 mile bike ride (5600 ft climbing) in a pace that is close to my best for that course, so it seems like my brutal swim death was short-lived in its training impact. More on that in my training recap tomorrow. 

My next 5k
Will be a run. For real. In all seriousness, I'm not sure if I would do an open water 5k again. I do love swimming but I am a better pool swimmer than open water and I don't think training twice week (< 10 k yards/week) is quite enough to result in a strong 5k. The endurance from bike and run cross over well with each other but just didn't translate over to that last 1k of the swim. For now, I don't want to think about moving ever again after this Ironman anyway!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Rachel's IM Canada training: week 17 (of 24)

Posted by Rachel

Throughout this IM training I've definitely been tired/fatigued and had some pretty bad workouts, but this is the first week where I felt like I literally got my ass kicked. Unfortunately it's not time to taper yet, so I'll have to suck it up and keep training I guess. Here's is a recap of my training week, with stories interspersed.

am- 4200 yard swim. I decided to do a "benchmark" workout of 20 x 100 on 1:30. I had read that if you can come in around 1:20, you are possibly capable of a sub-1 hr IM swim. I came in on 1:14-1:18 for all of them and the set felt great. Have I mentioned that swimming is the best tri sport?
pm- Trainer Road- Cartwright (60 min/ avg pace 16.1 mph). This bike workout felt good, too!

9 mile run (7:39 average)- with 4 one mile road repeats (6:57, 6:50, 6:49, 6:47). This didn't feel as good as previous hard runs, but I'm glad I forced myself to crank out 4 hard miles.

Bike commute- 29.7 miles, 13.4 mph (giant headwind and 2400 ft climbing, as usual).
Wednesday was a stressful day at work as a bunch of people got laid off out of nowhere. So I ended up going out to the bar with some people from work after my ride. I can safely say this is the first time (and hopefully the last) I've had vodka on a weeknight during IM training.

am- 3400 yard swim (in hindsight, I may have swam a little too hard given the upcoming two mile race Saturday...but oh well.). Either way, I was relieved to not have a hangover from Wednesday's shenanigans. Sure, I didn't drink much, but these days it doesn't take much!
pm- Trainer Road- 50 min workout Freel @ 85% intensity. It was during this workout that I was having major problems with my gearing and it turned out to be my derailleur in the front. I know I've ranted about biking before, but having a sport be so dependent on equipment really irritates me. Luckily the bike shop was able to take it Friday and fix it up

am- 5.5 mile run, no watch. I would have liked for this to be 7 miles, but my body doesn't acclimate to running 3 min after rolling of bed very well and I had to take a longer than desired pit stop in the middle. The good thing about this is that it allowed me to grab my camera to get a shot of the nightclub-style line forming outside of Lake Chalet at 5:30 am. I guess ESPN was at Lake Chalet (go Warriors!) and people really wanted to be on TV?

For some reason I was thinking of the Willie Wonka scene, "Mom, I'm gonna be on TV!"

am- As you may have read in Chen's blog post, 5 of us had signed up to swim a 2.4 open water race (Catfish) at Lake Del Valle. I was actually pretty excited about this because I wanted some sort of reference for what I could expect my IM swim time to be for a certain effort level. Unfortunately they marked the course a little bit short (I had 2.08 miles on my Garmin but Travers' map looks more accurate and he has it closer to 2.0 miles), but it was good enough to get a sense of expected pace. I ended up finishing in 48:30, which is somewhere between a 1:20/100y pace and 1:24/100y pace depending what distance you believe. For the conservative pace, it still extrapolates to approx an hour for the IM swim, which would be great (although I would anticipate adding a few minutes due to swimming with 2000 people instead of 200). It wasn't a very crowded start, although I found myself swimming way too close to another swimmer for almost the whole time. At first I was irritated but he actually kept me pushing the pace which I didn't mind, but I was wondering if he also found me annoying. Afterwards we chatted and he was very nice, so I'm glad we paced each other. And, it turned out, I won for overall women (my first adult win!) and got a watch, shirt, and beer mug! Cool!

It seems like everyone else thought to change before getting on the podium, whereas I'm still rocking my wetsuit. Just staying classy!

rest of the day- the 93 mile, 8950 ft climbing, hot-as-balls death ride from hell (12.3 mph). I'm not sure what I can say about this ride that I didn't sum up in the previous sentence. The very beginning of the ride was ok. We were riding as a group, chatting, doing some climbing but it wasn't too hot yet. The road was pretty deserted, with lots of scenery and wildlife (contained) and it was all going fine. One issue I had was that my toes started hurting at mile 8. According to the internet, feet swell more when it's hotter and I may need bigger shoes, so I'm going to check this out as they hurt the whole entire ride and also this morning. But back to the ride, the first 30 miles or so, although mostly climbing, were very pleasant. The fire department on Mines Road left out a huge bucket of ice water which was amazing! (Not that anyone from the fire department would read this blog, but THANK YOU!) We got to the "base" of Mt Hamilton around mile 38 and it was pretty hot out, but I thought I was ready to climb. Wrong. Very, very wrong. There is a 4.5 mile section which I calculated today to be 7.95% grade. In the heat. With no relief. I thought so many times about stopping, but the only way to get more water was to get to the top. I passed 3 cyclists, but none of them were actually riding- they were all standing in the shade stretching. I should've known it was a bad sign, but I kept plugging away. FINALLY, I got to the top, shoved my face with Gu chomps and drank gallons of water. Obligatory summit pictures:

We are WAY up there

 That's the road you take if you climb up the "easy" side. Little did I know, we did NOT approach from the easy side!!! Hence my confusion in the midst of my misery why all the blogs I read earlier in the week said "the Mt Hamilton climb isn't that bad".

Are we having fun yet? I didn't think so. 

Unfortunately, there was some decent climbing on the way back so the remaining 46+ miles weren't a gentle coast. Mentally, getting back was a huge challenge, but I suppose in hindsight I'm glad I did it for the mental toughness. I've been trying not to use bad language on this blog too much, but when I finally finished the ride I literally felt like someone had beat the shit out of me. Just took a baseball bat and nailed me in the back/shoulders (turned out to be a major sunburn), stomach (should probably start doing core again), and legs. Ugh. It felt like the Catfish swim had taken place days ago. If I feel anything like this starting the marathon in Whistler, it's going to be real interesting.

After sleeping for 10 hours, I managed to wake up and go to the grocery store so we can eat this week. Then at 11 am I decided to rest my eyes for a second, and opened them again at 12:37. You know you got your ass handed to you the day before when you can easily sleep for 12 hours. After lunch, it was just getting to the hottest part of the day. I was slightly nauseous and shaky, but I figured why not- I'll go for my run. I was time constrained due to dinner plans and I thought running shaky in the heat would be great practice for possible Whistler conditions. Surprisingly, it ended up being not that bad*; 12 miles, 8:40 pace. I survived!! We'll see how much I pay for this weekend in next week's workouts (to be continued).

*not that bad relative to yesterday's bike ride

IM Canada: Week 17 – Chen’s version (i.e., Catfish Open Water Swim, plus holy heat ride, Batman)

Posted by Chen

After proclaiming that I was ready to tackle this last push of training, my week got off to a rocky start with two unplanned rest days on Monday and Wednesday. Our flight back from the Dirty Jerz was massively delayed thanks to some impressive storms, resulting in a 4am bedtime Sunday night and no time or energy to workout Monday. Wednesday’s rest didn’t necessarily have to happen, but after another long workday, an early bedtime seemed more appealing than a cold, windy run.

I felt so guilty about the extra rest, though, that I did a 3-hour backwards tri on Thursday, which was probably an idiot move given this weekend’s workouts, but it at least made me feel better about myself at the time.

Yesterday’s long workout was the highlight (lowlight?) of the week, starting with the Catfish Open Water Swim over at the Del Valle Regional Park area in Livermore. Rachel, Travers, Katie, Matt and I all competed in the 2.4-mile wetsuit division, though the course ended up being quite short at 2.1 miles. Still, the overall experience was similar enough to what we’ll face at the start in Whistler, which was the whole point of partaking in this race anyway.

The morning started off with less than ideal bodily conditions, as I awoke with a moderate hangover after less than 5 hours of sleep. I find it comical that throughout all of my May travels and events that included a trip to Nashville, a wedding, and my 10th college reunion, I managed to prevent any hangovers from happening, but give me one night of Benihana’s and karaoke, and I’m on the floor. Too. Much. Sapporo.

I suppose the good thing about being so focused on re-hydrating myself was that I never had a chance to get too nervous before the race. In the back of my mind was the panic attack that I’d experienced during Napa HITS, which I very much wanted to avoid this time around.

The race had an in-water “mass” start (which I have in quotes because there were only 200 or so people starting at the same time – we’ll have to face ten times that in Whistler), and I positioned myself in the back. At 8:15am, we were off, and I put my head down and just focused on keeping myself relaxed. I was determined to maintain my usual pattern of bilateral breathing every three strokes and kept reminding myself that this was just like swimming in the pool. Only murkier and with lots of new friends around :P.

It seemed like it took a long time to get to the first sighting buoy, and as I started to think about just how much more we had to go, I could feel a wave of panic go from my head right down to my feet. It was creepy how I could feel it overcome me like that. In that moment, though, I just told myself “no.” That was NOT going to happen today. I focused my thoughts on my time in the pool and how comfortable I now am with swimming. I thought about the random swimming buddies I’ve made at the pool and how encouraging they always are, and that instantly calmed me down. I COULD do this without panicking.

And with that, the panic was gone. The crowd thinned out quickly, and the rest of the swim went quite smoothly as I focused on making it from one buoy to the next. I actually found myself enjoying the swim and looking around at the scenery every time I breathed or sighted. I even found a pattern of sighting that worked well, which I plan to utilize at Whistler.

The whole thing seemed to go more quickly than I expected, and I came out of the water and crossed the line at 1:07:21 (again, 2.1 miles, not 2.4). Extrapolating out to the full distance means this would have taken me about 1:18, which I would be ecstatic with at IM Canada. Anything under 1:30 will be delightful.

I found the crew and learned that Rachel had won the whole thing for the women (which I fully expected) and that Travers had placed 2nd in his AG (also not surprising). Shockingly, I learned I had taken third among females 30-39 – Yay for small races!

First time standing on a podium, ever! 

Sweet beer receptacle

After the awards ceremony, we all headed to our cars to gear up for the second leg of the day – a ridiculously hot and difficult ride towards Mount Hamilton (Rachel and Travers actually made it to the top and conquered 93+ miles, while the rest of us turned around early to hit 75 miles for the day). Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that this ride was so hard that no fewer than two of us independently thought about riding off the side of the mountain, because that might feel better than continuing to climb.

The whole thing was just a huge mental and physical challenge for me. I started off feeling pretty tired given the heat and the fact that I’d worked out 5 times between Thursday and Friday. I wasn’t expecting myself to have a stellar day, and I would be right. Thanks to only having ridden my bike outside once during the month of May, I found myself experiencing rookie hand, shoulder, and @$$ pain early on in the ride, which never subsided, and actually got substantially worse. It was also so hot out that at many points, the breeze/wind actually made me feel HOTTER. I concentrated extra hard on fueling and hydrating frequently, which helped me avoid any major crashes, but still, this ride was a rough one.

Side note: One bright moment occurred when I finally hydrated using my back bottle (on my seat post)! I’ve always been too afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get the bottle back in its holder without toppling over, but this ride was so hot and made me so thirsty that my choices were either to reach for the bottle or die. I chose the bottle. Took some fancy hand/bottle maneuvering, but I figured it out! #winning!

Anyway, despite the pain, I’m still glad we did this, because we’ve learned that there’s a chance the ride in Whistler will be just as hot. Better to prepare and expect for the worst!

Overall, it was a solid day with the Running for the Win(e) crew. I’m not sure if I’ve expressed this enough, but I’m SO grateful that we’re all doing this together. There’s no way I would have the motivation to put in this amount of training without the support and camaraderie of these fine folks. You guys are the best!

IM Canada Week 17 Recap:

  • Unplanned rest (massive flight delay)
  • PM: Swimming 3200 yards, including swim / pull ladder (average pace of 1:49/100yds)
  • Immediately followed by stationary ride with resistance intervals: 20.19 miles in 1:05:00 (18.6mph)
  • Unplanned rest. I don’t wanna talk about it.
  • PM: Backwards tri: Bay Trail run practicing various speeds for each mile (e.g., mile repeat, steady state, GMP, easy): 9 miles 1:11:10 (overall ~7:54 pace)
  • Backwards tri: Stationary ride, moderate / hard effort: 20.2 miles in 1:04:55 (18.7mph)
  • Backwards tri: Swimming 2200 yards, including 500s swimming and pulling (average pace of 1:50/100yds)
  • PM: Easy run on Bay Trail: 6.4 miles in 54:33 (~8:31 pace)
  • Immediately followed by shake out swim of 1800 yards (average pace of 1:50/100yds)
  • AM: Catfish Open Water Swim: ~3700 yards in 1:07:21 (~1:49/100yd)
  • AM/PM: Biking part of Mount Hamilton in the blazing heat: 75.1 miles 5:55:33 with 5500+ feet of climbing (12.7mph)
  • PM: Running Golden Gate Park medium long run: 12 miles in 1:44:19 (~8:42 pace). I kept the effort easy, and this run ended up feeling surprisingly decent. It helped that I waited for the heat and sun to pass, so I was able to run in foggy, cool conditions. The only downside to waiting so long was running on a full day’s worth of food, which resulted in a bathroom pit stop at mile 7. Nice mental image, eh? You’re welcome.