Saturday, October 18, 2014

2015 ATP

There are a few loose ends for events that don't have finalized dates, but the plan looks good to me even if I don't add any more races! Things shaded GREEN are confirmed races/rides/events; things shaded RED are big biking or running weeks; things shaded YELLOW are rest (full or relative) weeks; and things shaded BLUE are for race rehearsals (only doing 1 of these). From 1/5/15 through Ironman Louisville on 10/11/15, this puts me at about 690 training hours. That's A LOT. But I expect that some weeks will turn out to have more training (typically that occurs with biking for me, and that isn't usually an issue) or less (there are a boat load of :20-:30 optional swims in there, and a few optional runs; or if I'm tired I might skip an easy run or brick run) than planned.

So far on the official race docket, I've got 2 sprints, 2 actual Olys, 2 NothingMan Olys, 2 1/2 Ironmans, 1 Ironman and 1 10-mile road race. I might possibly add, depending on actual dates and other variables, 2 supersprints, 1 half marathon, 1 2-mile swim and 1 Oly. My goal was to plan a fun year of mixed distance racing, and I think I've got it!

Since this is a relatively long season, I was more liberal than usual about incorporating full rest days.  There are 12 scheduled across the 45 weeks shown below. There are probably another 5 that are swim-only days. I also reserve the right to decrease the planned workout intensity on any given day.

And I am not retaining a coach until after this festival. The objective of this plan is to prepare myself  to move into Ultraman training the following year. Along the way, I might decide I don't want to pursue Ultraman, or I might find myself burned out, something might come up--I just don't know. However, if I execute this plan well, I will be in a great position to move onto Ultraman training.

Before you look at the numbers and think "she's up to her usual Crackheaded ways again," I remind you that the weekly totals include strength, and many triathletes don't do any of that, but I do it because it makes me able to do the other stuff and manage life in general. If you take those hours away, the cumulative hours for 2015 are about 630 which isn't psycho (not for elite age groupers, and not for what I've done in the past). Considering I will end 2014 at about 660 hours, which is the least amount of annual training hours I've done since 1999, I will have had a good "rest" year, and the increase shouldn't kill me. But we will see.

I continue to do my base training, where I just have volume targets, but no intensity except for in the pool and sometimes when I'm on the bike trainer. I feel really good right now. My foot seems to be cooperating, and I begin getting regular massages again next week. Regular massage is a requirement for me when I am training intensely, even though I still stretch pretty much daily.

I will be getting feedback on this plan from my prospective Ultraman coach, and anyone else is welcome to comment or ask questions. If you want to spend time with me training, this pretty much tells you where I will be on weekends, so feel free to join in on the fun! And I can't stress enough how much FUN this is all going to be!

Monday, October 13, 2014


I have a friend who is struggling to find his "why should I keep doing this" answer about triathlon (and going for Ironman, but even less than that).  I can't tell someone else their why, but I can talk about mine. The why morphs periodically, but ultimately, I find deep satisfaction in training and racing.  Since I will be turning 58 next week, here's a list of 58 of my whys.  If you are reading this from Facebook, please comment with any of your own.

1.      I went to Kona every year (twice a few times) on vacation from 1994-1999, and thought that I wanted to actually swim in Kailua Bay (had snorkeled but not very far out) confidently.
2.      Someone told me I should do triathlons (and even Ironman) when I was in Kona training for my first marathon in 1999.
3.      My Mom basically died from complications of unmanaged (her fault) Type II diabetes. I do not want that to happen to me.
4.      It makes me feel younger than I am.
5.      It makes me look younger than I am.
6.      I like spending time with positive people.  Most triathletes are positive people.
7.      I have always liked riding bikes, from the time I got my first one (OF MY OWN) in 5th grade, to the time I bought my first one with my own earnings in high school (a 10-speed!) until now.
8.      I like to cook, and I am able to indulge in more of the things I enjoy cooking (pasta sauces for one) when I have a need for lots of calories.
9.      Did I mention I really like biking?
10.   I enjoy the process of selecting races and then planning training around it.
11.   I enjoy being outside! It’s relatively easy to run and bike from home where I live.
12.   I only live .6 miles from a pool, so it’s not that difficult or time consuming for me to swim regularly.
13.   I like looking at stuff while running and biking. I notice things that I wouldn’t notice in a car, and walking is just TOO slow to cover much ground without spending a whole lot of time at it.
14.   Exercise keeps my brain happy.
15.   I work from home, and the break I take in the middle of the day for a training session provides a much needed mental break.
16.   Struggling during training and racing makes many of my other life struggles feel easier.
17.   Pushing my body to its limits makes me feel more alive.
18.   I can always get better at something. I might not be getting faster, but there’s always room for improvement either in my nutrition, training, racing skills, self-care, etc.
19.   Every time I swim in open water, I am overcoming a fundamental fear of open water and “what’s down there.”
20.   I enjoy all the hoopla surrounding an Ironman or longer.
21.   I enjoy observing how excited the newbies are at a race and feeding off their excitement.
22.   Tapering: I am allowed to be somewhat crazy, but it’s expected!
23.   That feeling of being at the start line waiting for that gun/cannon/horn to go off! 
24.   The finish line!
25.   Did I mention I LOVE riding bikes?
26.   I like being able to run someplace for transportation, like to the doctor or auto mechanic.
27.   I like the feeling of exhaustion after a long training day or during a high volume build cycle.
28.   I love how much better I take care of myself when I know it impacts my ability to train and race effectively.
29.   I like accomplishing a new training or racing objective knowing I was well prepared for it.
30.   I like that all the training helps me keep perspective on other things in life that really just aren’t that important (to me, anyway).
31.   I enjoy being thought of as an athlete instead of a nerd (which I am). Just yesterday, someone told me I looked like a runner!  What the hell!
32.   I enjoy having a decent physique and others’ appreciation of it.
33.   I enjoy studying all the science behind training, racing and nutrition, and sharing what I know about it with others.
34.   I like racing against people younger than me and beating them sometimes!
35.   I enjoy how much better ANY food tastes when I’m training regularly.
36.   I like being with friends at their key races and encouraging them to give a great performance.
37.   I enjoy making all sorts of friends all over the world.
38.   I enjoy being an example to less active people of what’s possible.
39.   I enjoy finding out what races others are doing and checking on their results on race day.
40.   I enjoy wearing flashy training and racing clothes that make other people smile (or sometimes cringe).
41.   I enjoy inventing things to do as training events that nobody has thought of and then doing them just because I can.
42.   Life is short and I never know what might happen where I might not be able to do this, so I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it while I can.
43.   I enjoy that this is really an obsessive hobby that attracts a lot of other people who are very much like me.
44.   I like receiving things from other athletes that I can use in training or racing—hats, clothes, good luck charms (touch wood!), etc.
45.   I like giving away some of my training and racing things to other athletes to motivate them.
46.   I really like Iron Man.
47.   I like that other athletes try to twist my arm as much as I do theirs to do training events and races.
48.   I guess I like being called crazy, because I know why people say it. Even though I might prefer a different term such as dedicated or focused.
49.   I don’t really enjoy watching or playing team sports (although I’ve captained volleyball, stair climbing and softball teams) as much as I enjoy watching and participating in individual effort sports.
50.   I like that people volunteer to take care of me while I’m doing something I love doing!
51.   I love all the energy that is present at races.
52.   I love helping other athletes figure out what’s wrong with them when something hurts.
53.   I love having interesting tan lines.
54.   I love having my doctor telling me to “keep doing what you’re doing” because my basic measurements are excellent (BP, routine blood work, cholesterol)
55.   I like seeing how differently the passage of time can feel depending on whether I’m training super hard or just going in circles putting in time.
56.   I like how I really don’t mind shoveling snow or raking leaves because “it’s like another workout.”
57.   I like the person I’ve become since I began doing this.
58.   I like that I’m thinking about another Ultraman at the ripe age of 60!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Adaptation and Planning

 Death Machine: Acquired in 2013. BMC, Al, giant pie plate big ring for strength building and HTFU.
 Bitch: Acquired in 2000. She's an old Bitch. Have a solid HED3 disk for her that she rides with aplomb. B4C (ceramic) frame. Heavy-ish but eero as shit.
 La Gazza Ladra, aka LGL. Acquired in 2006. Pinarello Dogma, Mg frame stiff as shit, awesome climbing machine.

Skull Kingdom. Acquired in 2010, custom carbon/Al Elite. What a beauty! Time to lose the Elite stickers on the wheels and replace w/flames.

Since late July, I have been able to run more, have been swimming consistently at least 3x/week, and have been biking around 6 hours/week. The break from lots of running and swimming has been a good thing for my body and my mind. I experience far less sciatica than ever, and I am finally FEELING (kinesthetically) the catch/pull in swimming. The only formal workouts I am doing right now are in swimming and lifting (lifting has been a constant since 1991 with variations in movements/sets/reps/weight). For running and biking, I am just trying to hit some volume targets--when I go out for a run or bike, I am just going "how I feel." As evidenced by a few sprint races, my biking skillz are still pretty good, but running not so much.

I still have plenty o' endurance across SBR. If someone put a gun to my head right now, I could do an Ironman in < 16 hours (depending on the course, of course). I think I'm good for about a 6:15 or less 1/2 Ironman. But mama needs some speed. I am doing focused swim workouts, so that is coming along (plus the change in stroke mechanics plus getting some swim coaching MAGIC MIKE WHEN DO WE START???). I was going to start tempo runs, but I am sticking with my "I'm still sort of resting" program and not starting formal bike/run workouts until 12/1. So I'm not going to see a PR at the 1/2 marathon I'm doing on 11/8, in fact I might completely suck. But that race is to have fun with some friends and drink a bunch of beer afterwards.

I am in what triathlon books would call "base building" mode. It's where you put in some decent volume, practice good form (strides and running drills; vary gearing/cadence on the bike; drills and just mindfulness while swimming), contemplate where you need to improve, and not get too worked up about speed. I am "training to train."  I am also paying attention to how my body is doing with the load (as compared to past seasons), and how I'm feeling mentally about the whole deal. There's plenty of time to get back to the formal workouts, measurements (FTP, VDOT, T-pace) and assessments.

Right now, it's all good, except that I've been experiencing some sleep difficulties (living on about 7 hours which is not normal for me). The sleep thing is in part related to the shortening of the days, and will likely fix itself with the end of DST. Also, this is the very first time that I am training a decent amount of volume and my thyroid (TSH) levels are where they should be. So in a way, this is uncharted territory for me. In fact, I feel fantastic--well except that I need more sleep.

I ran 34 miles last week, and yesterday my legs were not sore at all. It may be because I'm not doing focused speed work yet, but still, I'm liking that I didn't feel trashed yesterday. And I managed a good swim workout and a :50 run yesterday. I struggled a bit on the run because I didn't sleep enough, but I got enough sleep last night and feel great today. I am gravitating to an "at any distance pace" right now, but that's OK. I am seeing glimpses of the speed inside, though, when I run downhill with flair and achieve that flow state, or when I am tired and can still run at a decent pace.

In the pool, I'm pretty sure I could knock out a 5k swim if I wanted to, but actually I don't want to. I am enjoying sometimes short workouts, sometimes 3,000-3500, and just really liking swimming again. And I am liking it more now that I can feel that I am doing it better than I ever have! I toyed with the idea of a 10k swim on NY day ("someone" said they would do it with me--like I need more encouragement!), but I am not making a commitment to that because it means I would need to actively begin swimming lots more at least once a week. And I would not do it except under those conditions because I would want to enjoy it and feel I had the fitness to do it well.

On the bike, I'm not exactly lollygagging, but I am doing the odd trainer workout where I look at my power readings. I don't think I've lost a lot there, but have some seriously hard work to do. And I'm ready to do it, heads down, no TV on just music, pound out those watts and watch them improve. But not before 12/1!

I had felt that my metabolism wasn't exactly stellar until just 2 weeks ago. It usually takes me a few weeks for my hunger to catch up to the training (I'd link to blog archives here but don't know how I'd find the old posts!), but boy has it caught up. I wouldn't say I'm eating with complete abandon, but it does feel to me like where I'm at training volume-wise that I am eating more than I ever did in past seasons. Maybe I just forgot how much I need, or maybe since I've laid low for so much of this year, but all of a sudden those 3 lbs. I was not liking are gone. I'm not keeping track of how much carbs I'm eating, but I'm sure that with the swap of rice plus veggies for salad that I'm getting plenty.

It feels like my body is functioning, metabolically, like I'm IN Ironman training. But I'm not. I'm not biking enough for that. I'm approaching that volume swimming, and I am at it running, though. Maybe I actually do have more muscle mass than ever, too--I've changed up my strength program in the last 2 years, and I do recall people telling me pretty regularly last year that I was "so" muscular. Maybe I was just fat ;) Maybe I am carrying more fat. I do have this belly fat that seems related to being post-menopausal. I hate it. Oh well, I will just have to see if it has become a fact of life that I must live with or whether it, too, will disappear when I'm in the thick of IM training.

Oh that--yes, I've signed up for Ironman Louisville (it's 10/11/2015). It's on the calendar. And so I can now begin planning my training and racing season! I get SO excited about this process, and I think that is also contributing to my waking up really early. I love, love, LOVE the season planning process. Looking across all the potential races and rides and big training events just gets me so amped. One of my rules for races this year and beyond is that if it's out of town, I'm not going by myself--I've done far too much of that in the past, and I'm done with it. I already have a 1/2 IM planned in Florida with Shelley (and will be availing myself of friends who live down there JULIE), an Olympic in Wisconsin (with a work mate, Steve), a 1/2 marathon in Colorado (Lori) and a sprint in Galena, IL (Kevin). I will go up to Madison for Ironman Wisconsin (William) and get some quality training in. Shit--that's already a bunch of stuff, isn't it?  One other thing I want to do is the Horribly Hilly ride in Wisconsin. That I am OK going by myself if I have to. I may do 1 or 2 more local sprints, and that's about it for the season, except for my usual complement of weekly century+ rides, including Bike Psychos 200k, maybe Dairyland Dare, and of course the annual 4th of July metric century, that I usually turn into a REAL century ride.

Gosh--I am so excited that I will be training for an Ironman where I can engage in all-you-can-eat biking during the summer! That is what I love more than anything, and Skull Kingdom will get out early next year. She's been relegated to the trainer since Ironman Cozumel 2013. I think that means I will need to find her some sort of doodad to make her look better--maybe it's time I get the Elite stickers off the wheels and put the flames on like I've been meaning to.

I am almost 100% confident that I will get in at least 5,000 miles of biking by the end of 2014. And right now, that is what matters the most, because you can't do jack shit in an Ironman if you aren't brutally strong on the bike. And while I won't have accumulated much speed work by year's end, at that volume I am going to be able to put some serious hurt to the pedals in 2015. All part of my evil plan to at least be in a position to train for Ultraman Hawaii 2016. All my bikes have been used this year. I still love them all! I am glad I got back on Bitch this year, and she got to race, too. She may be my official sprint/Oly bike now, and Skull Kingdom is my 1/2/full IM+ bike.

I hope to be through my planning phase soon, as I've only got 7 weeks to get it done. Hopefully, I've acquired some wisdom about training myself. I think I'm still quite capable of turning out some good race performances. I have no idea if there are PRs out there (I think maybe if my swim improves), but at least I'm looking forward to some SERIOUS WORK and even more SERIOUS FUN!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The Metatarsalgia (Ball of Foot Pain) Post!

I got motivated to put this together after a friend announced she was diagnosed with a Morton's Neuroma. I have that, I've had capsulitis, I have Morton's Foot, high arches, you name it I have fucked up feet. But, over the years, I've done my homework and found (this is typical for things like this) that there is information spread all over the fuck place, so I am consolidating what I have found here. If this helps even one person, my work here is done!

Please pass this along to anyone who has any sort of foot pain, because although this is focused on metatarsalgia, pain anywhere in your foot needs to be evaluated on the basis of the below. Physicians won't look at all of the factors, so YOU need to! Feel free to contact me either via Facebook or blog comment if you have additional items to add to this.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I am not telling you what to do, just what things to consider when you have this pain.

·        Possible Medical/Biomechanical Conditions:
o   Do you have Morton’s Foot? If you do, ALWAYS point this out when seeing a medical provider. If they don’t know what it is and why it affects you, find another doctor. If you do, you might benefit from metatarsal pads in both running and regular shoes. This condition alone can cause all sorts of issues, like walking/running with splayed feet, excessive supination, hip issues, etc.
o   Might you have a Morton’s Neuroma? Consider how bad it needs to get before considering surgery. Make sure you’ve read everything here before you go that route.
o   Might you have 2nd MTP Joint Capsulitis?
o   Are you experiencing Trigger Points affecting your foot? If you are at all athletic, you should own this book and use it for ANY aches and pains you experience. Even if you have a bonafide medical condition, you will probably benefit from working on identified trigger points.
o   Do you have muscle imbalances that are propagating to your foot or caused by it? (A qualified sports physical therapist is helpful here)? These can lead to pain while running and/or biking.
o   Have you been running for many years? The fat pads wear out on everyone’s feet over time. The more you run or do impact sports, the faster this may happen.
·        Are you committing run training errors?
o   Too much volume with insufficient rest
o   Sudden increase in volume/intensity
o   Always running on hard surfaces (asphalt/concrete)—try and at least do longer runs sometimes on soft surface like trail or crushed limestone
o   Too much hill running
o   Inconsistent training
·        Running shoes:
o   Are your run shoes really sized properly? Both numeric size AND width.
o   Is there enough room in the toe box? I have Morton’s foot, and cannot wear Nike shoes due to the taper in the toe area. New Balance shoes are great, though!
o   Are you wearing the appropriate type of running shoe for your mileage and surface?
§  Do your run shoes have sufficient cushioning? Note that more is not always better, but some is good.
§  Are you really able to cope with zero drop shoes (not everyone is)?
§  If you wear orthotics, be aware that they might increase the drop, and that if they are ¾ length and you can’t keep the base insole in the shoe, you will lose some toe cushioning.
o   Are you using standard lacing? This pattern is great for metatarsalgia.
o   Are you using elastic laces? These can put pressure over the top of your foot and lead to all sorts of issues. If you do use them, you might try the alternate lacing pattern or keep them looser than you currently do.
·        Regular shoes:
o   Are your regular shoes sized properly? Both numeric size AND width.
o   Do your regular shoes have sufficient arch support?
o   If you need orthotics for running shoes, you might need enhanced insoles for your regular shoes, too.
o   Do you wear flip flops often? While there are some newer ones with actual support, the traditional variety aren’t exactly good for your feet.
o   Do your regular shoes have sufficient toe box? Pointy toed shoes and high heels are contraindicated (even for men!) as they will squeeze the toes together if you have a Morton’s Neuroma
·        Socks:
o   Are you wearing the appropriate thickness/padding socks in your bike and run shoes? You might have correct shoe size but thick socks are making them feel too tight on your feet.
o   Are your socks too tight in the toe area?
·        Do you have bike fit issues?
o   Cleat selection: Speedplays aren’t for everyone. I find that Look-type pedals spread out the force over more of my foot, and I won’t use Speedplays anymore.
o   Cleat position: A qualified bike fit professional should ensure this is right.
o   Overall bike fit, particularly saddle height: if you get this wrong, you will have all sorts of issues from neck to back to hip to foot pain.
·        Do you have more than 5 lbs. to lose? Any excess body weight will contribute to joint wear and tear, typically affecting the knees and feet first. If you want to run, be as small as possible (within safe limits).
·        Do you do strength training either under the guidance of a qualified trainer or with experience? I believe ANYONE who runs or does triathlon should do it, no matter your age.
·        Actions you can take while you sort things out:
o   Keep track of how often and under what conditions you experience the pain before seeing a physician
o   Get a sports massage. I find regular massage helpful in both validating and correcting muscular issues.
o   Add metatarsal pads to your shoes—regular, running and possibly biking.
o   Get evaluated for whether you might benefit from orthotics. There are schools of thought for and against these. Some people (like me) really DO need them.
o   Consider a cortisone shot: I would only do this once, as cortisone can destroy tissue. Best you fix the underlying issue, but one shot might get you over the hump.
o   Wear a toe separator (like you use to paint your toenails) in the evening for like ½ hour
o   Icing: If you truly have muscular issues, then icing will be beneficial
o   NSAID: Avoid overuse of these. Capsulitis and trigger points might benefit from these, but they shouldn’t be taken routinely (and especially not during races).
o   Rest from running