Sunday, November 28, 2010

The pre-race: IMAZ '10 The final countdown

Okay, so you have my thoughts about CF/CFE in the previous post. If you missed this post, please go ahead and read it!

Now, on to the days leading up to the race

I flew out to Phoenix alone on Thursday before the race. My husband and son would follow the next day late. Although I was initially displeased with this arrangement, it actually ended up working out well. I had a good deal of quiet time to get my head together, was able to enjoy the race expo, had dinner with some fellow athletes from CT and MA, got checked in and got my gear squared away and even had time for a nap or two.

I arrived in Phoenix around 2:30. By the time I got to the hotel, there wasn't much time for anything but dinner out with some friends and then some chill time after a long travel day. With the two hour time difference, I was pretty wiped and was happy to lay on the bed and stare at the tv.

On Friday I headed to the race site to get checked in and explore the expo. I got there early and procured a good spot the line before the 10 a.m. check-in start. The weather was absolutely fabulous. Bright blue sky, comfortable temps -- a little hot in the sun but gorgeous. After a quick check in, I headed to the body marking line. This was interesting... they were doing something new and I gotta tell you it was pretty FUBAR... So I guess they were trying to do the numbers like they do it in Kona. They had sponges and a bowls of black ink and the intent was to sort of rubber stamp the numbers onto your arm. The process took a ridiculous amount of time and the end result was a race number that went up and down practically the entire length of your arm from wrist to shoulder and was pretty much unreadable! As the girl was sponge-blobbing these gigantic black marks onto my arm some guy was taking pictures. I'd love to revisit the look that was on my face as I watched this being done to me! It was like watching a train wreck. You couldn't stop it. You couldn't look away. Just smile and act like its cool and move on over to the blow drying station when she's done blobbing you... Then they powdered it so it wouldn't run off :). Most people went back to their homes and hotels and scrubbed that mess off. Not me -- I left it on even though my forearm stuck to my bicep every time i bent my right arm!

While I was waiting in the line for body marking, a guy walked by me with a Crossfit Endurance shirt on. I said "hey, i'm a crossfitter too!", to which he replied "Go fast!" I thought that was cool :)

Through with that little adventure, I moved on to the pro panel. This was cool. Was able to get up close and see Chrissie Wellington and Jordan Rapp and the others. They also had a women who was doing the race to raise money and awareness for MS and a guy who was in remission for a rare form of blood cancer. I love this aspect of triathlon. Age groupers and pros racing on the same course. The only real price of admission is desire or a personal mission. Most of us mere mortals are just there because pushing ourselves to the mental and physical brink helps us to know that we're alive. In the words of Bob Dylan... "If you're not busy livin', your busy dyin'".

Next stop... pick up the bike and the gear bag from Tribike Transport. The nice dude put my pedals back on and off I went on the mile or so walk back to the Hyatt. This was the point at which I was really missing my sherpa! But I managed and was able to spend the rest of the afternoon getting my T bags ready and taking a nap.

Later, I attended the athlete dinner which I've never actually done before. Since I was still on my own until later that night when my boys would arrive, this was the best option for dinner and company. This was held outside next to the Arts Center along side Tempe Town Lake. It was fun to hear the Mayor of Tempe talk about getting the lake repaired in just 90 days in time for the race. He was quite proud of himself and as well he should be I guess. They went on about a lot of stuff that was interesting including the stats for age and gender of race participants. The youngest was 18 and the oldest was Sister Mary Buder, 80! The Sister didn't end up racing and I wonder if it was due to the weather. The headwinds out on the beeline would have taken her away into the desert!

It was a lot of fun to get all pumped up with Mike Reilly. The food was lousy, but it didn't matter that much. Afterwards, I walked back to the hotel and rested waiting for Dave and Brendan to arrive so i could tuck in for the night. They were at the door sooner than I expected and that was a total relief because at this point I needed my sherpa to help me stay calm and help with the final preparations.

On Saturday there was the one and only schedule practice swim in Tempe Town Lake. The lake is not open for swimming ever except for special events so this was highly organized. Only race participants were allowed into the water and you had to wear your timing chip. They needed to know that if you entered, you came back out. They had manned kayaks in the water and you could only swim out 500 yards and back. Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day in the morning. The water was quite cold. When I first got in, I got a bit of an ice cream headache! But I adjusted quickly and did about a 20 minute swim just getting acclimated to being is this bizarre body of water. It certainly wasn't as bad as all the hype. The water WAS cold and it IS murky, but it wasn't terrible. We're spoiled here in the northeast with our beautiful chilly lakes :).

I'd ridden my bike down to the swim and the boys carried my T bags. I don't do special needs bags so it was pretty simple. Put my bags and bike in transition with a lot less stress than I've had in the past. I had a pretty sweet spot in transition. My bike was close to the end of the row on the aisle and close to the bike out. Sweet!

We spent the rest of the morning/early afternoon at the expo and walking a little in downtown Tempe. Got some things at CVS. Had lunch at Five Guys. I know! Bad! Then back to the hotel for a nap before an early dinner. In bed around 8:30 which was easy because at home it was 10:30. I got a little sleep but woke around 3 a.m. with the usual build of butterflies...

At 4:00 a.m., I got out of bed and began to prepare for go time.

Prologue: IMAZ '10 - A different approach. You do it your way and I'll do it mine.

I want to start my IMAZ '10 race report with some thoughts about Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance. This year has been an experiment for me brought about by my need to spend less time training and to keep the training interesting and challenging. This being my third IM in as many years, I began training in January/February of this past year and immediately felt the remnant mental and physical fatigue of two prior years of training for IM. I was coming off a very successful season in which I had PR'd most of my races (two HIMs, one DU, one Oly, one IM and a marathon) including IMLP and tacked on a marathon just for fun. Yup -- just for fun... :). Additionally, the new job I started almost two years ago continued to be very challenging and a bit consuming. I had started a very big project early in the year that I knew would require most of what I had. So, you might ask "well why didn't ya just bag the IM and make it easy on yourself...?" Hah! For those of you who really know me... well, you KNOW me :)

I had done a little poking around this whole Crossfit thing on my own and had also attended a free Trimax session with Max in the previous year before IMLP. That session -- which included squats, burpees and 200 meter sprints left me lame for a good two weeks. And when I say lame, I mean I couldn't walk for a few days! I was too far into my training for IMLP at that point to change from the long, slow training protocol to this short and intense, functional strength based protocol, but I was intrigued and knew that others were having success with it.

So I start with this because I'm here to tell you that if you are looking for an alternative to the more traditional training protocol, this is it. I won't lie to you. There's an adjustment period you have to get through before you begin to see the effectiveness. Also, you have to proceed carefully with the intensity so as not to injure yourself. But if you stick with it and follow the plan, its powerful stuff.

As a 47 year old female, I can tell you that I've never been stronger physically. I know that at my age, if I continued to run a thousand miles a year and ride 3000 miles a year and swim 150,000 yards a year, something will wear out or break. So cutting this kind of mileage by a third or half can only be a good thing. Additionally, CF makes me stronger for everything in my life -- not just my athletic endeavors. As we hiked and climbed our way through Sedona post race this past week, this was very apparent to me. I recovered quickly from the IM and was able to keep pace with my husband and son as we hiked around the rim of the Grand Canyon on Tuesday, climbed several of the red rocks of Sedona on Wednesday and hiked 8 miles with 2000 feet of elevation on Thursday. I even jogged a little on the trail to catch up with the boys on Thursday as I fell behind while taking photos of the amazing scenery.

So, I'm not interested in arguing about which protocol is better. I'm just saying that there's more than one way to get where you wanna go. My observation is that lots of swim, bike, run will prepare you well enough to do lots of swim, bike, run. Throw in some CF/CFE and be prepared for anything else you might wanna do in your life in addition to conquering that next triathlon.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

nothin left to do but do it...

It's 8:22 pm here in Tempe. My brain thinks its 10:30. We've had diner and now its time to sleep. I feel ready and I'm anxious to get this party started. this is always the hardest part. trying to keep the butterflies in check.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This one's for Chlo

This morning I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with a classic case of IM butterflies. All kinds of thoughts in my head and details and things to pack and "what ifs" and what not. Eventually, I landed in a place where I was thinking about our dog Chlo. As some of you may know, we lost Chlo at this very same time last year. A beautiful yellow lab and we loved her more than I'm able to put into words. She was the first dog that we had as a family, my boys grew up with her and she was my husbands faithful and beloved companion (of the four legged variety) for about 9 years.

So, the reason I need to tell you her story is this. Last year, we had plans to fly out to Phoenix to volunteer at the IMAZ '09 and sign up for this year. My husband and I and a couple of friends made this plan months in advance and the plan was to get away for a weekend, go someplace we'd never been, volunteer and cheer on friends who were racing, etc. Well, the night before we were to catch an early morning flight to Phoenix, Chlo was not right. Now you need to understand that Chlo had issues already. She had Addison's disease which was diagnosed when she was about three years old. This is a condition that has to be managed, but she did well with it. However, on this Friday evening she was not right. She couldn't stand up and would not eat or drink. She had been having these kinds of episodes every now and then for a while, but this one was a bit more alarming.

I had just come home from work this Friday evening and my husband was quickly out the door to the vet with Chlo just to make sure that she was okay to leave for the weekend. Twenty minutes into his absence, the telephone rang and it was Dave. He sounded distraught — and I knew... He told me that I should come and bring Brendan (our son) along too. We didn't discuss details then, but I knew...

When we arrived, my husband had already been discussing things with the vet. I knew when I saw him that it wasn't good. The vet filled us in. Basically, Chlo had a tumor wrapped around her spleen. She was bleeding internally periodically and when this happened it caused her to have these episodes where she couldn't stand or eat or be her normal self. The vet made it clear that there was little to be done for her outside of making her comfortable. His recommendation —which he put forth very delicately — was to not let her suffer.

He left us alone for a bit with Chlo in the little exam room —the three of us and our Chlo. She lay on the floor, but every now and then she'd get up and put her head on one of our knees as she was prone to do when one of us wasn't feeling well. If you've ever had the pleasure of a relationship with a Labrador Retriever, you know what special dogs they are. Incredibly sensitive to your mood and your needs as a human. Always there to give love. She didn't have much energy and would end up back on the floor again soon. Eventually, we got down there with her .

As we lay on the floor, we agonized over the decision at hand. Basically, we were devastated. The vet knew this and gave us the time we needed to deal with it. In our 20 plus year marriage, I had never seen my husband openly cry. It had been years since I'd seen my teen age son shed a tear.

So we lay there with her and ate up those moments with her until we decided that we could not do this again — feel this pain of letting her go. We let the vet know that we were ready. We were incredibly distraught and he and his staff was incredibly supportive. They asked us if we wanted to stay with her and, of course, we did. We stayed until she was gone and then some. It took everything we had to get up off that floor and leave her.

When we returned home, there was emptiness. The trip to Arizona was a distant thought. We sat in shock trying to absorb what had just happened. In the morning, we did get up and make our way to the airport where we met up with our friends. It took tremendous effort to keep it together. As we moved across the country, it got a little easier. I felt bad about leaving Brendan, but knew his aunt and uncle would take good care of him. We still needed to let our son Ian know that she was gone. In our heads, we knew that we had done the right thing for Chlo. In our hearts, we could only feel the pain of letting her go. As I thought about this early this morning while lying in bed, it made me cry. And, as I write this — I am very much without composure.

Now some of you reading this will find it ridiculous that I could go on so about a dog — that I would dedicate my race to her. But Chlo was so much more than just a dog.  She was family. And we learned so much from her about how to love each other unselfishly.

So this one is for you Chlo. Hoping I can channel some of your boundless energy, enthusiasm and optimism into my race on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

45 minute run @ 70% effort | 300 squats for time

45 minute run @ 70% effort
4.9 miles on the tready

Additionally, I wanted to get the squats that I was supposed to do last week done. Probably should have not bothered with them, but couldn't let 'em go. Did them after the run so legs were a little fatigued. Not my best time, but not my worst either.

300 squats for time: 10:26

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Swim 300 yard TT

Swim 300 yard TT
Total time: 5:33 (1:51/100)

Happy with this result. Feel strong in the water. I'm having a hard time imaging the swim portion of this race as I've never swam in Tempe Town Lake and its kind of a weird body of water. Hoping I'll have a better feeling about it once I get the practice swim scheduled for next Saturday under my belt.

Additionally, I did 500 warm up, 4x50 DR Catch up, 8x25 Catch up with pull buoy. Then 100 easy free and 100 breast stroke to cool down for a total of 1400 yards.

I was supposed to do 45 minute easy run today, but will push this to tomorrow.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bike 30 minute TT

30 minute bike TT (road bike)
Total distance: 9.16 miles / 18.3 mph
AHR 142
MHR 150

This was a very solid effort. Always get slower times on my road bike so average over 18 mph is actually pretty surprising. Legs are strong... its pretty interesting...

Took the road bike out for a 30 minute TT. This was supposed to be the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and back down to 1 minute bike intervals with equal rest, but I only had enough daylight to do a straight 30 minute ride. Spent most of the day organizing household stuff and cleaning out my work inbox.

I'm one of those people who can't leave for a trip when things aren't in order so I wanted to get a jump on that sooner rather than later. On Wednesday night it'll be pencils down as I'll be getting on a plane early on Thursday morning.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Run 400M, 50 squats, Run 800M, 50 squats, Run 1600, 50 squats

Crushed it!

Total time: 18:10

Started with an easy 1 mile at 9:20 pace on the tready.

Can't believe how strong I felt doing this. Was able to push the pace on the run. Ran 7:40 avg. pace for the entire 1.8 miles and probably faster if you account for the time it takes to get the treadmill up to speed. On the final 1 mile interval, I was able to keeping pushing the button to get below 7 minute pace to finish up the mile. The squats felt effortless.

I did this workout on October 29th for total time of 19:46 so this is marked improvement over that last effort!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CF WOD: Run 800M, 15 burpees x 4

CF WOD: Run 800M (.5 mile), 15 burpees x 4
Total time: 23:21

Run splits:

Pretty pleased with these run splits. Felt strong and pushed hard for each half mile.  The burpees were tough coming off the tready. I don't love them :). The first set was the fastest and the third the slowest. Managed to pick up both the run and the burpees for the last set. Pushed the treadmill speed to 7:30 to start each interval. Took a good 20 seconds or more for it to get up to speed. Finished at least 2 of the intervals at sub 6 minute mile pace. Hit these hard and tried not to let up.

I could be entirely delusional at this point, but I'm feeling very positive about AZ. At the very least, I'm gonna have fun with it and enjoy the experience and the vacation time afterwards.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

5-5-5-5-5 back squats | 20 minute run TT

Doubled up the workouts today as the back squats didn't happen yesterday.

5-5-5-5-5 back squats

Felt strong with these. Was careful not to push it and could have stuck with 128, but figured there's no gain in staying safe. However, I did pay attention to form and was ready to offload weight if the 148 felt like too much. It felt good, but I definitely wasn't going above 148 tonight.

20 minute TT (20:08)
Total distance: 2.6 miles

Took a short rest and then tackled the 20 minute TT on the treadmill. I was thinking of bagging this workout before I started the back squats. Its about 7:00 PM when I finally found my way to the basement and my enthusiasm was waning. Once I completed the back squats though, I felt a bit more energized and convinced myself to dig into the 20 minute run.

Started at 8 minute pace and quickly took it to about 7:40 after the first 5 minutes. From there I tried to increase the pace every 5 minutes and then in the last 5, every 1 minute. Ended at 6:40 pace! I had to see the number turn before I could stop so went an additional 8 seconds so I could get an exact distance. Felt good pushing it!

In other news, my bike and gear bag are at the shop and ready to go on the truck tomorrow. I look forward to obsessing over that for the next several days :).

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Swim 1000 yard TT and 20x50 | 50 step ups, 40 box jumps, 30 sit ups, 20 push ups, 10 burpees

This morning:

Swim 1000 yard TT 
Total time:19:15

Swim 20x50 @80% effort keeping each within 3 seconds of the other
:56, :56, :57, :57, :53, :56, :55, :56, :56, :57, :57, :57, :57, :57, :56, :57, :57, :58, :59 (okay, i'm one short, but my watch got messed up somewhere in the middle so may have done 20 total plus and extra)

Additionally, I did 500 warm up and 400 drills plus 50 breast stroke to cool down for a total of 2900 yards.

Really pleased with the TT and also that I was able to hold pretty steady on the 50s. That's the last big swim before the big day. I feel strong in the water. Not sure what to expect for the swim. Would love to do as well as I did at LP last year, but not sure how it'll be to swim one full loop instead of two.

Later this evening after I organized and packed my gear for Tribike Transport, I did the CF WOD.

50 step ups, 40 box jumps, 30 sit ups, 20 push ups, 10 burpees
Total time: 13:28

Little slower than last week but at 8 o'clock this evening I was pretty tired. Big swim this morning and then some hiking and picture taking at an open space event in town for 3 hours. Did some walking and tried to get some good pics of people enjoying a really great town trail system. Really great stuff. It was cold outside and that took some of my energy too!

Spent a good hour and a half packing up a gear bag with all the stuff i'll need on race day and don't want to bring on the plane. I took a picture of all the stuff I packed so I'd be able to look at it and know exactly what I put in the bag that I won't see until I get to Arizona.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 mile bike intervals | 3-3-3-3-3 dead lifts

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 mile bike intervals

1 miles/2:50/21.2 MPH/AHR134 
2 miles/5:37/21.4 MPH/AHR142
3 miles/9:53/18.2 MPH/AHR141 (cars and stop signs! grrr!)
4 miles/12:09/19.7MPH/AHR138
5 miles/16:43/17.9MPH/AHR127 (was getting dark and had to stop at a couple of stop signs)

Of course, I was supposed to go back down from 5 miles to 1 mile again. Ran out of daylight though so called it quits after completing the 5 mile interval. Hopefully I can squeeze another ride in tomorrow.

The bike goes on the truck on Wednesday — into the shop on Monday so I won't see it again until I get to Tempe. Have to pack up all my gear too. This is stressing me out a little!

 3-3-3-3-3 dead lifts
158 - 168 - 178 - 188 - 198 

One of these days I'm gonna give 208 a try, but I'll wait til after IMAZ :)

Friday, November 05, 2010

AMRAP 20: 5 burpees, 10 push ups, 500M Row

At the gym after work.

AMRAP 20: 5 burpees, 10 push ups, 500M Row
Completed 6 full rounds in 20:40

Rather than trying to see my watch on my wrist while trying to rip at the rowing machine, I just plowed ahead to complete the last 500 knowing I would likely be just over 20 minutes.

Had wanted to get the 1000M swim TT in as well, but not enough time before the gym closed and probably would have been tough given I could barely lift my arms after the CF WOD.

Can't believe how quickly Arizona is coming at me all the sudden.... :O

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Run Intervals 10 x 200M @ 5K pace

I did:
10 x .2 miles
Total run was 4.1 miles @ 8:32 mph pace

Got home from NYC around 9:15 pm and knew I was gonna have to get at this. Ran on the treadmill. Didn't get started until about 9:40 pm. Should have done it this morning at the hotel but was tethered to my laptop dealing with things back in the office. Could not allow myself to slack on this so just got 'er done.

Ran the intervals at an average 7:30 pace -- some were a little faster than that. Started with a 1 mile warm up at around 9:00 minute pace and ended with a couple minutes cool down. Continued to run during the rest intervals, but slowed the tready way down and then back up to 9:00 minute pace and went until .1 mile was done before beginning the next .2.

Not a bad effort given the time of day and the very not relaxing time in the city.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

45 minute bike TT | FRAN

45 minute bike TT
Total distance: 13.34 miles
19.1 mph

Did this around mid-day today. It was overcast, cold and windy! Gave it my best effort, but there was quite a headwind coming out of north/northwest. My legs were a little cooked from last nights run too. No slacking though. I worked it as hard as I could.

A little later...

FRAN: 21, 15, 9 45# thrusters and pullups
Total time: 6:27

I think that's a personal best for FRAN — not sure. Thrusters are still tough, but getting a little easier every time.

So I moved workouts around so I could get at least two in today. The 1000 yard swim TT will have to wait until Thursday night or — more likely— Friday. I'm hoping to get one or two workouts in while in NY. I think the hotel has a decent little gym. We'll see.

I'm stressing big time about getting my bike and gear together to go on the truck next Tuesday. So much to do, so little time!

Monday, November 01, 2010

13.1 mile run | 100 push ups for time

13.1 mile run
Total time: 1:54:59
AHR 142 / MHR 163

Today was supposed to be rest but, because I'm traveling to NYC this week for a conference I needed to get this big run done. Would have been nice to do this outside, but the days are just too short and there's just too much going on to carve out 2 plus hours of daylight to run. So, this was done on the treadmill. In my basement. While watching the SF Giants beat Texas to win the World Series. Thank god for my iTouch! Music in my ears definitely helped to make the time go by. Running to go nowhere is sooo boring!

The total run time is a personal best for me at this distance. I did get off the treadmill twice to answer the call of nature. Once at 4 mile and again at 8.5. I kept the pace at between 8:27 and 8:57 mile pace. My goal was to keep under 9 minutes for the duration. I spent most of the time around 8:40. In last mile to mile and a half, I tried to push the pace finishing the run at a 7:12 mile pace. This turned out to be surprisingly manageable. The two breaks are not accounted for in the total time. They were short. Only did what I needed to do and got right back on. Consumed 3 GUs and almost 2 full bottles of water. Unbelievable amount of sweat was generated :).

Fairly immediately after the run, I did 100 push ups for time. Ouch!
Total time: 6:33