Archive for March, 2008

Dumbing it down. . .

March 18, 2008

Why fly half a world away for a training camp, when San Diego, the “triathlon mecca” is home base?  There is no shortage of fast training partners in San Diego, and unlike my Canadian teammates, I didn’t really need to escape the cold weather. . .Even though we DID have a pretty rainy winter, it’s hard to complain about the So Cal 50 degree “cold snaps” with a straight face.   In addition to some much needed swim technique help from Coach Paul, one of the biggest benefits of being here at camp, is the simplicity of it all.


Today, for example, was a 5k swim at 5:30, followed by breakfast and a nap.  Then a 5 hour bike ride, 40 minute run. Snack.  Ice bath. Eat Dinner.  Bed.  A fair bit of training, but not much else–no added stress.  While we’re here, our only obligations are the two (or sometimes three or four) workouts for the day.  The pool is a four minute cycle away, we ride our bikes to the grocery store, and when they are so far away, it’s easy to pretend that the usual demands of school, work, or that thing called life don’t exist.  Our extracurricular activities so far this trip have consisted of massage, naps, movie night on the couch, and a weekly trip to the farmer’s market.  Oh, went to a bbq last Friday. . .I think we were home by 8:00! 


We train, we eat, we sleep, and beyond that, the rest of the time is left for relaxing—usually spent either elbowing Eileen for our turn on the dial up connection or cooking (which, if it’s left to me, is sure to be burnt).  The most glamorous lifestyle, it’s not, but with the training we’ve been doing, there’s not much energy left over!  It’s a pretty simple, dumbed-down version of life at home, where it is easy to get caught up in both the “have to’s” and the have-to’s of life.  Here, we’re able to focus on the things like ice baths, massage, getting off our feet after workouts, and naps.  Guilt free selfishness, I’m calling it. 


With all this “focus”, I’ll definitely be ready for a night out when I get home!. . . After all, the start of my real race season is still a few months away, but in the meantime, a stress free and low key month of solid training has been just the thing.  Tomorrow the fun starts at 4:45 with a warm up run before the early morning swim.  Ouch.


Lucky Girl. . .

March 17, 2008

 28.5 hours.  My biggest week in nearly a year!  As someone who loves the volume, there was a time when this would’ve seemed like a pretty standard week in the office.  For the majority of last year, though, I had a completely different perspective.   I wasn’t training anywhere close to 30 hours a week–in fact, I wasn’t really doing anything that would constitute as training.  Not because I didn’t want to. . mentally, .there was nothing I wanted more, but physically, I was completely cooked.  In the course of a few weeks, I downward spiraled from peak Ironman fitness to literally not being able to run ten minutes.  I went from an ‘up before dawn and train more than I sleep’ schedule to barely being able to maintain the activity level of a 70 year old, sister Madonna Buder, non withstanding.  In short, it was ugly.    


Setbacks are an accepted part of any sport.  They give us a chance to reflect, and almost always make us better athletes in the long run.  I had the opportunity for a lot of reflection last year—a solid 10 month’s worth of reflection, frustration, blood tests, and doctor’s visits.   There was never a definite diagnosis, but adrenal fatigue/failure, glandular disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, parasympathetic overtraining syndrome were some of the unfulfilling labels doctors came up with–none of which had a short term fix.  Long term rest and management were the suggested treatment—a less than ideal solution for an ironman athlete!  After talking to lots of other athletes, I found a few that had gone through the exact same science fiction-like experience:  6 to 18 months of severe fatigue, seemingly unexplained by other medical maladies and unresponsive to days, weeks, or even a few months rest.


Mid-December, the clouds of the preceding 10 months lifted, and health and energy steadily returned.  With a few months of good training on the books, I am optimistic that the lessons I learned last year, while quite frustrating and sometimes painful, will serve me well in the upcoming seasons.  Just a few months ago, I was only dreaming of the workouts we’ve done in the two weeks since I’ve been here n Australia.   Now, I’m back to living them.


March 13, 2008


Yesterday we topped off a heavy week of training with a LifeSport group Iyegar yoga session.  It was a much needed recovery workout after a pretty intense week, which included lots more swimming than I’ve done in a while—or ever, come to think of it!  Four 5k masters swims, two 90’ open water swims, two bonus technique pool sessions, not to mention a little race called the “Splash and Dash” rounded out the swim training for the week.  By the way, this race was FAR less innocuous than it sounds.  For one thing, a 600m swim, 3k run twice through is short enough to be incredibly painful; for another thing, there is no such thing as a low key Aussie race!  Former Olympians, Olympic hopefuls, ITU World record holders, and surf lifesaving specialists (this is a huge sport in Australia) were all in attendance.  It was an incredible race, super hard workout, and quite exciting to see our teammates Brent McMahon (1st overall) and Lisa Mensink (2nd female) kick some serious *ss .  


But, back to the yoga. I’ve taken my share of yoga classes, but never one like this.  For one thing, most of the crew had never been to yoga.   I’m no yogi, but there are a few rules of yoga protocol that I think are probably pretty standard—no shoes in the studio, no talking during class, that sort of thing. . .I think we broke all of them when we rolled into the studio on our bikes, and then spent the entire hour in stitches over either our own or our neighbors lack of flexibility.  Fortunately, the instructor handled it like a true Aussie–meaning she took it all in stride–although we were reminded more than once that “yoga is restorative, and can best be absorbed when we are quiet”.  Pretty sure that’s yogi speak for “SHUT UP!”.


Tomorrow is another big day—5:30 AM open water swim (it is light out, but just barely) with focus on surf entry and exit, and 8 x 1 mile on the track.  Fortunately, all the hard work will be rewarded tonight with a massage from Toby, the reportedly very cute live in masseuse/chef for Laura and Greg Bennet, who we’ve borrowed for a few massage sessions each week while we’re here.

It’s All Starting to Make Sense. . .

March 8, 2008

I’ve only been here three days, but I am definitely starting to understand why those Aussies are such ridiculous swimmers.  After two of the longest and hardest master’s workouts of my life, and an insane “open water swim” (which involved at least as much time practicing those oxygen-debt inducing swim starts and sprinting up and down the beach as it did actual swimming), the puzzle pieces are all starting to fall into place. 

It’s hard work, but that is why I am here, and combined with some great technique coaching from the coaches on deck, I know it can only make me faster.  Besides, we’re in the water for our first session at 5:30 AM most days, so at least part of the day’s suffering is all over before breakfast: )

Plus, it is all made easier by the fact that we are essentially living in paradise.  The weather is perfectly warm and sunny, but not ridiculously hot.  There is great bike riding on rolling country roads just a few miles out of town, and a park full of running trails bordered on one side by amazing views of the ocean.  Not to mention my inspirational training partners.  It’s going to be a great month!

Drumroll, please. . .

March 6, 2008

Finally a real blog post.  I know, I know, a blog is meant to be updated more than once every few months!  Thanks to all of you who–sometimes gently, sometimes not–sent me email reminders on this: )   

It seems that whether it’s starting a blog, changing eating habits, beginning a workout program, or buying into a new training method, initiating new behavior is difficult.  Converting contemplation to action requires a POA (plan of action); just having a vague idea that you want to change usually isn’t enough. 

After a rough year last year–more on that later, I promise–I knew that I needed to make some changes in regards to training and racing.  After nearly 10 months of a forced break (. . .no, I wasn’t pregnant, though that seems to be quite fashionable these days), I am thrilled to be back to training, with a full race schedule slated on the calendar, and most importantly, a more specific POA.  

One of the biggest changes I knew I needed to make this year was taking on a coach–if for no other reason than to protect me from myself.  Being objective about rest is difficult for all of us type A personalities, and, let’s be honest–that pretty much includes everyone reading this!  Fortunately for me, I met Paul Regensburg from Lifesport while watching from the sidelines in Hawaii this year.  At that point I was just easing back into some very easy training, and Coach Paul has been instrumental over the last few months in keeping me on track with lots of challenging workouts, while avoiding the “too much, too soon” pitfalls that are so easy for “our type” to succumb to: )

And, sooo, that’s how I came to find myself in Australia for a month long hard core swim focus training camp with some of the stud triathletes Lifesport coaches, including my housemates for the month, Kim Loeffler, Bree Wee, and Eileen Castillo.  “Real World Oz”, we’re calling it.  It is sure to be an adventure, and despite the slooowww dial up connection, I promise to keep you all updated.  Thanks for reading!