Tuesday, February 25, 2014

IMMT Training Week 5: Double-Double

Oh, look a recap post! Once you read it you'll understand why I waited until Tuesday to write it. It was a week of firsts and I am not sure that I want a repeat of any of these heroic attempts to stay on schedule.


Tuesday was the day that just didn't want to be. I had planned to go swimming early in the morning, but then I ended dicking around the house too much trying to prepare breakfast and snacks for the kids and lunch for my work and made it to the pool 45min later than I hoped. Zin looked at the schedule and said that I should be ok because the pool was going to be open for another 2.5h. So I got there and started my workout, but to my surprise, 20min later they started removing the lanes. I asked why and they said that the lane swim was over. Whaaaat?! Why?? Because their published schedule was wrong, that's why! And that I should know better because I'd been going there for a long time. Yeah, but never in the morning!! It must be a sign that I should just give up mornings at the pool. Anyway, I had just finished my warm up set, and I was pissed. Took my toys and left, pretty much wanting to strangle someone.
Nice pool, until they kick you out
Went to work, but in the evening I decided to go back to the pool to finish my swim. It was full of fast 50s and fast 25s and I can't say that I enjoyed any of it. My mojo sank like the Titanic, but I managed to get some decent times on those lengths nevertheless.

Thursday I had group swim with the tri club, but I needed a massage really badly and the only appointment I could find was at noon. 1h15 of pure torture and while walking out of there I wondered if I wouldn't drown if I attempted to use my bruised limbs to stay afloat. The decision not to go to masters got cemented after the run workout that I did later in the day (whose idea was that anyway?). My legs were so sore, I chose to soak them in a hot bath with a ton of Epsom salts for a change.
So this leads us into the weekend with one swim scattered over 12h and another one missed. Sunday, as you may know if you followed the Olympics, was the big game for Canada's men hockey team and even though I had ambitious plans to get my long 2900m swim done before 9am, I got the surprise to find the pool closed without notice for a "special event".
Early to rise, for nothing.
Come'on, now!! 
Where is everyone?? Canada is watching hockey, come back later...
I had no choice but to go back home and put my feet up and cheer for our athletes like a good Canadian. But I still had one long swim to do and no pools with more than 1h lane swim openings. Sigh... Went to Mayfield at 1pm, did whatever I could in 1h, then went to another pool in the evening to finish the job. Why can't I swim faster so I can fit it all in? #slowtriathleteproblems. It was BRUTAL. That's why I called this blog post Double-Double. Never again!!!


At least everything went well in this chapter.
Monday, easy 1h15 ride, I did Collins.
On Wednesday I didn't bother selecting a specific workout, I just went for a free 1h ride while watching True Detective. That did the trick.

But on Saturday, I went to the group spin and allowed myself to have some fun. We did over-unders, but I only pushed hard for small periods of time to keep the sweating to a minimum. It was great to see some watts in the 200s for a change. First time pushing that high this year and not more than 1min at a time. I loved this workout!
Aren't those intervals pretty?

Nothing exciting here. 8K, 6K, 1h on the treadmill. What made those harder though, is that two out of three runs were sandwiched between swims. Believe me, you don't want to do this, especially at the end of the week when you should be lounging on the couch, drinking beer and blogging instead.

In a nutshell

I need to get my shit together. I am improvising too much and playing catch up. I managed to put in 8h45 of solid workouts, but not without serious sacrifices. Call it double dose of dedication if you wish, but I call it double dose of d'uh! I should have known better. The hardest week so far this year, but it's only getting harder from here, so I need to start planning more and playing less with the fire.

One last update for the road - I also did 2 strength workouts. I added in squats, lunges, bicycle crunches and continued the planks, bridges and clam shells. Three days later and my glutes are still crying. There is only one remedy for them: ice baths! Good thing that the polar vortex is back... I could just make snow angels in my backyard. Naked. Totally legit, don't you think?

Monday, February 17, 2014

IMMT Training Week 4: No sweat

After last week's workouts, coach told me to dial down the intensity and stay put. Bike and run without breaking a sweat, but swim hard. And overall I succeeded. The force was with me, especially in the water.

Tuesday I took the day off from work because I had some medical exams, so I did my workouts in between. I took a look at my schedule and *gasp* I noticed a 2900m swim. Damn, when did it jump up by a full 1000m? Good thing the pool was open for 2h lane swim, so I could fit it all in.
Warm up:
5 x[100m swim + 25 FD, + 25 kick] no rest
Main set:
 2 x 400 m with 20 sri take 1 min after set
4 x 100 m desc 1-4 on 2:30
2 x 300 pull on 7:00
8 x 25 fast on 45 sec.
Cool down:
150 alt stroke
And voila! (Garmin ate a length on the second set)
 Then on Thursday, group swim - "only" 1700m this time, but very intense as well.
I really wouldn't care to share these times in general, but I'll be damned if they aren't getting faster every week! I never thought I'd say this, but they make me happy. Because all those lengths at near-drowning effort seem to be making a difference and I remember not so far ago losing faith in my ability to make any sort of progress. It may not be much, but it counts to keep me going forward. I promise to stop complaining about masters swimming until next year. Only idiots don't change their mind, right? Morale of this story: trust your coach and embrace the suck. It doesn't get easier, you just get faster.

Thank goodness for Trainer Road and their collection of easy workouts. The first two I did this week almost put me to sleep. *yawn*

The funny thing about this one is that I changed my Garmin transmitter for my heart monitor strap and when I tried pairing it, it picked up my husband's instead. So imagine how I almost got a heart attack when I was easy riding the first long flat interval and I see my heart trace doing all kinds of weird stuff that my doctor warned me about during my physical. I only figured it out 30 min later when I looked over at Zin's monitor and recognized every bump.

Lazy Mountain

Second of the workouts could not have been lazier. Done entirely in Z1, I did not even produce a drop of sweat. I feel ashamed for the person who put the word "mountain" in it.

By now you probably guessed that my weeks are fairly similar. But don't you worry, they'll get exciting soon. I know my coach well. To end the bike recaps, Saturday was group spin and everyone was on the hook to do Max VO2 intervals, but I was asked to sit these out. Well, I wasn't very happy with the premise of riding easy when everyone else was going to be pushing the wall, so I asked permission to sweat, just a little. I ended doing some spin ups and single led drills, followed by 7 or 8 easy intervals in the big chain ring.

Again slow and boring, but I know that these runs are what I need. I only managed to do two out of the three runs, missing my longest one because I planned it poorly. Every Sunday we've been going to the gym to run long on the treadmill then hop in the pool, but when we got there yesterday the gym was closed because of the long weekend. I was pretty bummed to miss my last 2 workouts but there was no way that I was going to run outside at night without proper sidewalks. Oh well, moving on without regret. I'm sure that my body will thank me anyway.

In a nutshell
Slow week. Missed workouts. Ate too much. No pictures (aren't you relieved?).
BUT I crossed off my list another goal! Hubbs and I organized a bRUNch yesterday with a dozen of friends, old and new, and they all came at home and ran together and ate and talked and had a great time. Loved being able to have like minded people around us and spend a few hours talking all things triathlon and running. We definitely need to do this again before the summer! It's a great cure to cabin fever.

Friday, February 14, 2014

40 Steps to 40: Three Months Update

I wanted to do an update after the first month, then the second, but they never happened due to brain failure. I simply forgot and then it was no longer the right time because I'm perfectionist like that. Even now, you have no idea how I am beating myself up for not having published this on February 10. I'm 4 days late, unacceptable!! Oh well, I'll just blame it on my dying neurons.

If you are not familiar with my "40 Steps to 40", take a look on the right... scroll down until you see the list. This is it. It all started with this post because why not? I crossed a few things off the list already and blogged about them. To recap, this is what I've been working on, or at least I think I will, soon:

2. Clean up my diet
Yeah, right. The "no carbs after lunch" regimen lasted for a month. Then I injured my hip (cue in emotional eating), my mom came over for the holidays, we all let loose during the end year celebrations and to make matters worse, we received a huge amount of chocolates as gifts... and we're still trying to finish them as I speak. Rocher anyone?
The best chocolate candy in the world, period.
However, I bought 2 new cooking books: Racing Weight Cookbook and Feed Zone Portables and I am trying to learn new recipes and introduce them into our diet progressively. Everything in moderation is the key. And maybe one day I'll finish those chocolates and declare myself sweets-free for another month or so... I just need to blissfully ignore Valentine's Day and then I should be good until Halloween.

3. Lose weight to reach 125lb
Which weight, this weight?
This is what injured/not training and the Holidays did to me. I own every single bite I put in my mouth and pound on that scale. For reference, my lowest weight - on race day - 131.5. Today 140.5. But I look at that last little hump and tell myself that I'm finally over it. It can only go down from there, literally!! I am closing on week 4 of Ironman training, there are 26 to go. Who knows what will be my weight on race day this year?

9. Swim 1000m with flip turns*
Done with a pull buoy. Will attempt again without a pull buoy when I feel a bit more comfortable with all the tumbling. Will keep working at them even though I still don't believe they are a necessary evil. But I bet my coach will be pleased.

10. Swim 4x50m medley non stop
Not there yet. I threw in a length of fly or backstroke whenever I felt courageous/bored, but I haven't worked on endurance yet. Especially for fly, I can do one length, but I'm not sure I can do two one after another. I already feel like death after the first. Is Zombie level next?

19. Read 5 books
One done, four to go. I started with the easiest one, it had lots of drawings. If you never read Allie Brosh's blog Hyperbole and a Half, you have to. Just trust me. She doesn't write very often these days, but I loved reading her book, which contains most of her blog content and more. Next is An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Cmdr. Chris Hadfield. It promises to be a page turner for sure.

20. Dye my hair at home
Done. I don't need to redo it yet, but I went as far as trying to buy a new box, but it was all sold out. Everyone likes my color!

21. Find 100 new geocaches
I thought about going out many times, but with the cold and so much snow covering the ground, I am not ready to freeze for DNF after DNF (Did Not Find).

22. Make a jar of something
I know what I want to make a jar of! I just need to buy the ingredients and arm myself with enough courage to cook them.

23. Make 12 new dishes
I made 8 new dishes so far! I will reveal the full list once I've made all 12. Almost there. With the new cookbooks, it should be easy.

25. Do something fun on New Year's Eve
Not quite my definition of "fun", but it was "different". We played Guitar Hero and drank champagne. Happy New Year everyone! Too late?

26. Go on a date night x 4
Ummmm.... 0 for 4 so far. Come'on, hubbs, we can do better than this! Biking side by side watching True Detective or the Olympics does NOT count.

27. Make something with my cork collection
I took the corks out of the box, but then I realized that I didn't have enough corks to make what I wanted. I counted 81 wine corks and 17 corks of champagne/bubbly in 13 years of boozing at home. Bottom line, we need to drink more. A lot more. At least I took a photo. It may not count as art, but it's the best I have so far.
29. Use my 10 classes Yoga pass
I went to two classes, I gave it my best, then I busted my hip. Many people believe that it was because of Yoga. I didn't shred the pass to pieces, even though I wanted to. I may use it for more "gentle" yoga classes. Do they have anything for pregnant ladies or seniors who had their hips replaced? Not that I'm pregnant or something... Don't get any ideas. But you get the idea.

32. Express gratitude for at least 40 days
I did it for 10 days, all in my written journal. I could have definitely done more, and I could have finished by now because there is plenty to be grateful for, but I didn't take the time to write. My bad. Maybe I'll get to 20 or 30 by the next update.

33. Host a party/BBQ with friends at home
We are organizing a run-and-brunch at my place this coming Sunday. This counts!! I will make sure to post pictures of the food spread and the courageous folks who will be braving -10C to get their run in and socialize with strangers.

37. Try a new food
Give me ideas!!

That's it, next one in three months. ;-) Or maybe I should aim for next month and the one after.... and forget again.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

IMMT Training Week 3: Ramping Up

First week with coach's training plan and it was easier than I feared. There was a big jump in the overall number of hours spent swimming, biking and running, mostly due to a few missed workouts last week, but I didn't feel defeated. I could have slept better, but I promised myself to make it more of a priority from now on, instead of staring at my computer screen clicking at random for hours. But I am not a morning person (yet) and when I do most of my workouts in the evenings, I find it hard to wind down before going to sleep. But let's rewind and see what coach had in store for me.


On Tuesday I thought I was getting sick again. I had a runny nose and my cough had gone worse, but by the end of the day I was not feeling sick enough to miss my first "swim with instructions". Yep, one of those workouts for which I had to actually print and ziploc bag the details. And not only it had instructions, but it required ALL THE TOOLS! Here are the details with some of my times.
[100m swim + 50m finger drag] x 2 (2:19, 1:17, 2:21, 1:12)
3x100m kick with fins 15sri
3x100m pull+paddles 20sri (2:09, 2:11, 2:11)
Main set
400m swim on 9:30 (8:06 for 350m oops!)
50 breast stroke on 1:30 (1:16)
4x100m pull+paddles descending on 2:10 (2:07, 2:13, 2:14, 2:17 - not really on 2:10)
50m breast stroke on 1:30 (1:18)
8x25 [3 fast, 1 easy] on :45 (:30, :32, :30, :34, :30, :31, :30, :34)
100m breast stroke
I did my warmup, then swam the main set like a champ and was quite amazed at my 400m TT time... only that I had lost track of lengths and missed 50m. D'uh, not so fast afterall. Anyway, I was pretty happy with my times, especially after all these intervals with the pull buoy and paddles when I thought that I killed my arms.

On Thursday, at the group swim, we had to do 150s, up 50 from last week if you've followed my previous recaps. But this time it was half pull/paddles, half free. And my times were already faster than Tuesday's. I am not calling it progress yet, could have just been peer pressure from swimming in a group, but I swam a few 50s under a minute and I could barely believe it. I know that we all have good days and bad days, but for a bad day, Thursday is one to be remembered.

Last swim of the week was today right after my hour long run on the treadmill. Since I lost coach's instructions for this workout (don't ask), I decided to do a stroke rate ramp test instead, to see how far I've come since 2 years ago when I did it for the first time. And I was pretty surprised with the results. I started with 60 strokes per minute and increased the rate by 2 strokes each time, and ended with the results below (about 15-20s faster per 50m than the first test):

Stroke Rate   Time (50m)  Nr. strokes  Effort level (1-10)
60                 0:59.8          26              3
62                 1:00.1          27              3
64                 1:01.7          29              4
66                 1:00.8          29              5
68                 1:00.5          30              6
70                 0:59.0          31              7
72                 0:58.4          30              8
74                 0:57.4          30              8
76                 0:56.3          30              9
78                 0:55.8          30              10
Then I set my wetronome on a slightly faster than my normal stroke rate (68) and did a 600m pull, with an average time of 2:12/100m. I'm gonna need a sharper brain to interpret these numbers because right now I feel very confused. It's quite clear that if I move my arms faster I swim faster, but around the sweet spot it's not very clear whether I should make any changes. I may try with a slower than usual rate and see if I manage to glide a bit more and improve my time around those parts because I doubt that I could finish an Ironman swim on an all out effort.


I started the week with a free 1h ride that included a few single leg drills and a long 20m fast spin on little resistance.
I included screenshots of both my power zones and heart zones (which I haven't changed since my first 20min test last year, but seem to be relevant, still). You can see that they don't really match, so I asked my coach what it means. I suppose that my heart rate is higher than where it should be, but I'm not surprised since I've put on 8lb since last year and the heart knows. My resting HR is up 10bpm since last year too, which shows a dip in fitness. Oh well, you gotta start somewhere.

On Wednesday I did Black on Trainer Road and on Saturday I returned to the group cycling classes. I was a bit apprehensive and afraid that I would not be able to stay put as coach asked. But he was watching my rpms closely. My eyes were on my power and I told him that I wouldn't go above 75-80% FTP. I did good in the end, put in some effort in the climbs, but nowhere close to the threshold like everyone else was supposed to. I spent almost 2h on the bike though, so I chose to go easy in the last 20min and didn't feel too awkward for slacking at the front of the class.


Three runs this week: 5k, 7k, 9k, all pretty easy, but I had to go outside for the 7k since I ran out of time and didn't want to pay 8 bucks just for using the treadmill for 45min (the cost of one gym visit without subscription). It was -15C and I hated every minute of it. Had to run in the middle of the road, dodging cars because there are no sidewalks in Brampton without 2 feet of snow on them.
It also took me a long time until I found the best placement for my buff for it not to slide down. I ended having a bad night with a lot of cough, so I paid the price. Not sure I'll go out again until the temperatures go up by 20 degrees C. Until then, back to the office gym and the treadmill.
In a nutshell

Good week, which I survived unscathed. However, in the strength department I sucked. I only did 3x1min plank on Tuesday and nothing since. No bridges, side stepping or clam shells, thus giving zero attention to my hips. I was also pretty lazy with the foam rolling and stretching, so this is exactly what my main issue is. I don't do these things unless you beat me with a stick. I don't know what to do. With zero accountability, I get zero results. When will I learn?! Ugh!

Monday, February 3, 2014

IMMT Training Week 2: The Calm Before the Storm

The week after a race always feels like a lazy one. You want to recover, to take it easy, to be good to yourself... and since I ended racing Robbie Burns 8k last Sunday, I had to deal with a few aches that showed up afterwards. I had some mild back pain and my calves were super tight, mostly from running in my old KSwiss which I hadn't worn in 2 months. My glutes were also sore, but not in an alarming way, and by the end of the day on Monday almost all pain was gone. I still went to physio and after talking to my therapist about my lack of hip pain in the last 2-3 weeks, we decided that it was finally time to set the therapy aside and see where the workouts take me. However, I am going to continue the strength exercises to try and get me some Glutes of Steel. I am going to miss my therapist and her torturous contraptions.
Pro stretch, vibrating plate, cupping. My therapist is cuter than your therapist.
I was supposed to swim on Tuesday night, but I had to go to a meeting and it didn't happen. On Thursday I went to the group swim with the tri folks and that turned pretty epic.
200m swim
2x[50m kick + 50m sailboard]
2x100m pull + paddles
Main set:
3x100 descending on 2:10
100m pull easy
3x100 descending on 2:15
100m pull easy
3x100 descending on 2:20
Last 10 min: relays
Basically, you take the fast 50s from the past week and you multiply everything by 2 and remove 5 seconds per 50 in the process. I called this "go faster or drown trying".  During the 2nd (or was it the third?) interval I almost puked in the middle of the pool. I had to stop and walk a few steps because my stomach was rebelling with each breath. I have no idea how I managed to get through the full set.

I didn't swim again until Sunday when I could not get myself to think of anything else but zoning out with a pull buoy, and that's exactly what I did: 2000m pull non stop. Given that I received my first workout schedule from coach, if there was going to be one last time to relax, that was it. And if I sound a bit scared, it's because I am. 


Pettit on Wednesday
Tried to keep the cadence high enough, but it wasn't too exciting. Enough to get me sweat. Mission accomplished.

Fletcher on Saturday
Take two Pettit, shorten the intervals a little, put them back to back and you get Fletcher. I didn't even choose it on purpose, I asked hubbs to pick it for me. But I didn't complain, it seemed to be the right one for the longest ride so far this year. The instructions said to add a few controlled spins in the middle, which you can guess from those spikes on the graph. I was too lazy, or too scared to do more. They got me coughing quite a lot though, and my puffer lived to tell the tale, covered in sweat just like me.
I went on the treadmill twice this week, once at work for 35 minutes easy and once at the gym near my house, while everyone else was watching the Superbowl. I don't understand the Superbowl, but I was looking forward to the commercials. The only one I remember was the one with David Beckham.
I ran for 45 minutes, then jumped in the pool. Isn't my Superbowl party cool? I had about 100 guests, but they left before the half time, I think they all wanted to watch Bruno Mars and the RHCP with sound. Without me. Oh well.

In a nutshell
I was planning to exercise for at least 7h, but sandwiched between a race and a coach's schedule, I had to adjust my rest days. I ended up with too many of them, but I compensated by being really good about my physio exercises. Did them 3 times and I even added 3 x 1min plank each time. Gotta do what you gotta do... 5.5h is still better than nothing.