Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Break 2015 - A move/train-cation!

I'm not complaining about my spring break, but I think that I need a vacation now that it's over!  Productive?  Check!  Fun?  Check!  Relaxing?  NO!
But, we made major progress on the imminent move to Boulder - by taking a truckload of stuff to Boulder at the beginning of the week and then flying back home.  

 Just getting started!

Taking a break - somewhere in the Mojave


The drive to Boulder was fairly uneventful - we didn't have weather issues, which was fortunate in the lovely U-Haul.  And, we spent the night in Winslow, AZ, which I wouldn't recommend to anyone, despite the Eagles' song that made it famous (or somewhat famous?). 

Boulder was a lot of unpacking and thinking about our next steps, but I mixed in some training while I was there, on the bike and running.  It was a bit of a challenge to motivate a few days thanks to the weather:

We arrived on Monday (a beautiful day, but after 12 hours or so in the car, I was more than ready for a stiff drink), and then Tuesday, I set out for a windy bike ride.  During said ride, I think my HR was at about 90% for 90% of the ride - I was white-knuckling it, just hoping that I didn't get blown over OR blown into traffic.  Wednesday, I was supposed to fit in a brick, but as you can see, it was going to be 46 degrees as a high, plus rain.  So, I set out for an early morning run, during which it rained, snowed and hailed on me.  Good times!  Finally, I squeezed in the brick Thursday before we flew back to CA.  Also, please note the weather on Friday and then Saturday!  It was strange to leave my Trek road bike, Sunshine, in Boulder - it's now just me and the Bat!

For the end of the break, I drove down to Oceanside, CA on Saturday to spectate Oceanside 70.3.  It's always tempting to sign up for this race, but when it rolls around, I'm usually SO relieved that I didn't.  But...  Maybe one day?!  It was a gorgeous day to be out spectating - a little bit warm, but not too crazy.  I missed the men's finish but saw Heather Jackson cross the finish line.  Wow, she is so amazing!  She raced and won Wildflower last year, and I saw her exit the water but didn't see the finish (obviously - I was somewhere on the bike course).  It was also great to see and cheer for a lot of people that I know. 

Saturday afternoon, I spent working on my swim technique - Beth Gerdes, my coach (I always feel like a fraud when I use that term, but what else should I call her?), was very kind enough to offer a session in their endless pool.  I was SUPER nervous about swimming in front of people and it was kind of weird to be on a 'swim treadmill', but I did get some great feedback and I know what I need to work on.  Then, Sunday morning, Beth and another one of her athletes (who lives in Pasadena and with whom I should train!) and I set out on a ride.  I have major bike riding route envy now - it was SUCH a nice ride.  Lots of rolling hills, rather than crazy steep ascents and descents, and very biker friendly.  Also, it was a wonderful day to ride, a bit foggy early on but then it burned off.  Finally, I was super nervous about riding with other people, especially a pro(!), but this other woman and I were really well matched.  I obviously need to just get over my anxiety about how terrible I am on the bike and develop some confidence once and for all!  Anyway, it was so generous of Beth to spend time Saturday and Sunday with us.  Not only is she an amazing athlete (recently 5th at IM Asia-Pacific!) but a really great coach too.

Anyway, I was really excited about getting in 4 bike rides last week - some of them weren't very fun and none was very fast, but I do feel better about St. George and about heading into the next few weeks (although thank goodness this is a recovery week! and thank goodness I have Friday off!).  

Also, we have made progress on the move to Colorado (I keep saying Boulder, but, really, we could be anywhere).  We will be putting our house up for sale within the next few weeks which seems totally crazy to me.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Marching along

I had to check through my old archives to see if I had used that title before - apparently I hadn't?  At any rate, it's cliché but apt, so who cares?!

After my previous, rather sturm und drang, post, things have improved.  Well, they've been a bit wonky in our household, and the past few weeks have been something of an emotional ride, but I'm feeling better about moving to Boulder, about job stuff and, amazing, that has me feeling better about St. George 70.3 which is looming.  Yikes!

It also probably helps that my back is on the mend.  I'm not at 100% by a long shot, but I tried a new pain specialist (seriously, that's what her card said) on Monday afternoon, and she rocked.  I definitely feel as though I was cheating on Dr. Choy, who has helped me through plenty of aches, pains and woes, but the back situation was different enough for me that I wanted to go with another option.  The good news, to my thinking, is that the issue has nothing to do with my back.  Her diagnosis, as she was poking around at me?  I have a tight ass.  Strangely enough, cycling and running don't aggravate the pain, but swimming does - however, I'm sure that cycling and running are actually part of the problem (or they contribute to the problem).  But, I'm on a stretching regimen that has helped tremendously - who knew that stretching would make such a difference?  Ha ha! And feeling much better as a consequence.

There have been a few recent hiccups - we missed the Solvang Century last weekend, which was a major bummer, but there wasn't anything that we could do about it.  Again, this was definitely a 'life' decision/issue - Michael was out of town unexpectedly and returned late Thursday, so the idea of leaving on Friday for a fun-filled weekend was more than a little bit silly.  We were, however, disappointed to not get up to the Central Coast one last time.  And, maybe we can get up that way again before we leave, but hopefully we'll return to CA for the Solvang ride one of these days.

Despite missing that ride, I feel that I'm a bit more focused on riding, and both last Sunday and today I hit the Lower Big Tujunga loop which makes me feel better about St. George 70.3.  I've had moments of SERIOUS doubt and don't feel super confident at this point, BUT (sorry for all of the all caps), I think that I can get in some solid training and be ready for a May race.  Lower Big Tujunga is a great little sufferfest, and I usually complete it once a season to see where I am.  Riding it last weekend and then again this weekend (and less than a week apart), kind of sucked, especially today - when I did not want to get up and ride.  But, it was definitely worth it - and I had some visitors before starting my descent down Angeles Crest Highway:
Well, that's me - but there is Gus!  He obviously didn't ride with me, but it was nice to see him before starting the long descent.  Also, I'm wearing my new Vanderkitten kit - mostly covered up with my vest, but the shorts are so cute!

The other positive - I still feel a bit slow climbing with the Bat, but I feel stronger too, so I'll get there.  Also, the saddle is getting more and more comfortable - I think I'm just getting used to the bike, overall.

Finally, did I mention that it's officially Spring Break 2015?
And March Madness?  This is the first time I've actually filled out a bracket, and it's looking pretty rough at this point!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ironman Take 2 - Just a few bumps along the training road

Had I written this update a week ago, I think that it would have been vastly different from the "report" that I'll make tonight.  It's not that SO much in my life has changed in the course of a week, rather a few things have shifted, but the shift has made quite a difference.

I'll back up, however, and say that up until last week, I had a solid 'base' training cycle.  Despite feeling a bit ambivalent about training (yes, I want this, no, I just want to stay in bed), the vast majority of my Training Peaks boxes were green for January and February - success!  I was completing my workouts with more consistency than last year, and, even better, I felt that the workouts were high quality, especially in the pool and running.

I will admit that the bike has been something of an issue this year, despite the Bat (who HAS been getting plenty of love, but a lot of it on the trainer).  Last year, I really prioritized getting in solid, long rides, and woke up early every Saturday, committing myself to some good saddle time.  This year, I'll be honest and recognize that I have not dedicated enough time to biking as I really need.  While I love the Cervelo - it is a wonderful ride, I still don't feel as confident on it as I do on the Trek, probably because I still think that it's TOO nice a bike for me and I get nervous on it.  Or something idiotic like that.  The other issue, before I blame it on a complicated love/hate relationship with my bike, is that, as we make these major life changes, triathlon/training is not first priority.  I want to spend time and connect with friends, something that I could sacrifice a bit last year but am very reluctant to do so this at this point.  While running and swimming seem more forgiving in terms of a time-commitment, biking is less so, and that has been an issue this year.  Because of that, I made my peace with a few long "rides" on the trainer which were good and painful!  Last weekend, I finally got in a great ride along PCH and felt pretty strong, especially in my new Vanderkitten kit (of which I have zero photos - sad face; I'm the worst so-called "ambassador" ever).  The extra bonus on the ride - we saw whales swimming south!  It was so fun to look for their spouts - and to spy them.

As I said, cycling aside, running and swimming had felt good.  While I had plenty of swims and runs that felt slow, overall, I saw gains from last year (in the pool) and enjoyed being healthy for my runs.  The only issue was niggling back pain while swimming, which probably started in January or at the beginning of February, but didn't really slow me down elsewhere.  Well, last weekend, after a long swim and a long trainer ride on Saturday and a long run on Sunday, the pain wasn't severe but I had to admit that it was more than just a minor issue that I could ignore.  So, at this point, I am trying to figure out what is going on with my back, not just scouring the Google, but also seeing a pain specialist and going from there.  What's interesting about the back pain is that running and cycling don't seem to be an issue, and I suspect that it is related to tight hips/glutes and other imbalances rather than something more major (or that's my hope!).  However, I'd rather err on the side of caution rather than try to push through the pain.  What is a challenge is that I've never had back pain before (unlike the array of leg/foot maladies that have plagued me), so I don't know how serious it is.  The optimist in me is confident that it's a strain that just needs time to fully heal, but I have concerns that it is more serious.  Either way, it's frustrating to not know, and I hope to have answers soon!

Obviously, I hope that this won't sideline me for the next few months, especially, my plans for Boulder IM.  I have questioned the decision to commit to another Ironman with everything else going on in our lives, but I also know that it wasn't a flighty decision. It's a goal that I'll continue to work towards, despite some challenges that life and my body have decided to present along the way.  But, training for this second IM has been harder.  Again, I recognize that there are a lot of life things going on that I have to prioritize, and maybe some of the excitement that comes from the new and unknown has worn off.  I do have hopes, goals, expectations for this second race, but I'm also more stressed about moving, finding a job, saying good-bye, and figuring out my life.  Small details, I know!

So, a bit of a rough go at this point, but I'm trying to trust the fact that I *do* have a good base to work from.  Also, I've (knock on wood) stayed healthy in other ways and am grateful for that.  I really hope to have answers to the back issue soon, and get back to some solid training!