Triathlon Research Camp- Day 1

day 1 swim start

Holy crap I’m training in Kona.  I mean, that much should be obvious seeing as I signed up for a triathlon camp here, but the reality really hit me on the first day of the camp.  This place is literally legendary, and not only do I get to experience parts of this course, but I get to work with some of the best in the world on getting BETTER at this sport I love here.

Incredible.

Day 1 of the camp was like going to the most amazing tapas restaurant in the world- I got to “sample” a little bit of everything and really whet my appetite for the week to come.

The morning was spent doing time trials on the swim, bike and run to (1) establish our starting points and (2) get some video analysis done to look at our form, technique and areas of improvement.

Since I literally have nowhere to go but up, I was both nervous and excited to get out there and figure out my starting point.

My starting point is slow kittens.  And yet, I actually did right around where I expected for each of the three trials.

We started out with a 3k run time trial (that’s about 2 miles for us normal people in the US- :D).  We rode our bikes up to a large parking lot that bordered the bluest water I’ve ever seen and then ran a 3 loop course on the black top.

I’m not going to lie, I was SO relieved that we got to do the run first.  It is by far the most challenging of the three disciplines for me, and was the bit I was the most nervous about.

Even with the heat and humidity, I finished the time trial in right around 25 minutes (which

for me at a 12:44ish pace is actually pretty damn good), and I was really happy with it.

We then had a chance to have a quick chat with Olympic Gold Medalist coach Chris Pilone about our running trial, and I am SO excited to work with him in a more individual small group setting later this week.  This guy is a coaching genius, and I have a feeling my running will transform based on his guidance.

day 1 chris pilone
Chris Pilone

Let me just say, there are some BEASTS in my group.  We are broken into squads of 8 athletes, which is great because it’s a small group where we can really get to know each other, get a lot of individual attention, and it’s not too cumbersome for the time trial efforts.  These other athletes are beyond inspiring and supportive, and we spent the entire day encouraging each other and witnessing some fast performances!

Vanessa, one of the many amazing people in my group!
Vanessa, one of the many amazing people in my group!

After the run, much to my relief, we hopped on our bikes for a super short spin over to a beautiful outdoor pool for our swim time trials.  It felt great to sink into the cool water and get in a quick warm up before putting down our efforts.

We did two trials.  A 100m all out sprint, and then after about 45 seconds of recovery a 500m effort.

For me, this was my strongest effort of the day.  I felt really smooth and strong in the water, which surprised me given how little swim training I’ve done this season.

I also got the chance to meet Rick Wells, a commonwealth games swim coach who, within about 30 seconds of seeing me in the water gave me two great pointers on my form that already had me swimming stronger.  This dude is probably still one of the fastest swimmers in the world, and with his coaching this week, I bet I see some serious improvements on not only my swim technique, but swim times.

day 1 swim

Next up was the bike video analysis.  We rode a short ways over to one of the most picturesque spots I’ve ever seen where Tri Research had wind trainers set up under banyan trees overlooking the ocean.  We got set up on the trainers to do a bit of pedaling, focusing on a really easy spin effort with some cadence pick ups so that the coaches could really see our form and fit on our bikes.

Here I was introduced to Ivan O’Gorman, a Retul bike fitter, also known as the Irish mad scientist of fit.  (Okay, maybe that’s what I’m calling him in my head, but trust me, it suits him.)  He spent some time watching each of us during the spin, and then came around with some great feedback afterwards on our fit.

For this camp, I actually brought my road bike, as I haven’t had a really great professional fit on it and I know there’s a lot of room for improvement with my positioning.  He had some great tips on how I could tweak my saddle position to get more power out of my legs, and to also get my upper body in a better and more comfortable position.  I’ll actually be working with him Thursday evening one on one to make those changes, and I have a feeling I’m going to feel like I’m riding a whole new bike once he’s done.

day 1 under the trees

Finally, it was time for the bike time trial.  I won’t lie, this is the one I was most looking forward to.  Our coaches drove us out along the legendary Queen K highway to a point about 16 miles out from the hotel.  From there we pushed off for a 15k time trial back towards town.

I literally can’t find the words to describe how beautiful it was.  To the right I had the most blue, beautiful water I’ve ever seen, meeting the perfect blue of the sky.  To the left, the lava fields, which looked sort of like the surface of the moon, only black as pitch and just as foreign.

I put down a decent effort given the gently rolling terrain (not used to that being from Florida where it is FLAT) and the crazy wind conditions (I swear I had a headwind, wicked cross wind and a tail wind at different points, all while riding a straight line in the same direction!).  I averaged around 15.8 for the effort, which was exactly where I expected to be.

day 1 time trial

Following the morning of intense activity, we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and much deserved lunch.

Not like I need to tell ya’ll this, but I totally ate ALL OF THE FOODS… and then some.  The amount of deliciously prepared fresh fish and veggies available on this island makes me swoon, and was exactly what I wanted and needed after a great morning.

The afternoon was just as spectacular, but in a totally different way.

After lunch we enjoyed presentations from key members of the Sansego Coaching team to give us a basis for the breakout sessions we would be attending during the week.

We kicked off with a great lecture to get us pumped up about Goal Setting and Season Planning.  Following that, one of my favorite coaches for the week, Frank “The Great Dane” Frank Jakobsen discussed periodization.  We then hopped into Principles of Fitness and Running form with Olympic Gold Medalist coach Chris Pilone,  and followed that up with a both hilarious and informative lecture of Workout Planning and Time Management by Matt Koorey.

The day wrapped up with Craig lighting a fire under each of us with a great session on Motivation and Mindset.

These talks not only gave me numerous “take away” points in each, but really set the tone for the level of excellence, competence, and just overall fantastic coaching we would receive for the week to come.

Want to know what happens next?  Be sure to check out the Day 2 recap!

Questions- What is your favorite place to swim, bike or run and why?  Have you ever been to Kona?  What athlete do you most admire?  

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Triathlon Research Camp- Check In Day

I don’t think I’ve ever been wide awake at 4 a.m. local time and not been drunk.  Then again, even if I’ve been awake and drunk, chances are good that I wasn’t exactly all that “with it…” but I digress.

I’m in Hawaii, and it’s amazing.  Not only am I bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4 a.m. local time (6 hours behind my actual time zone of 10 a.m.), but I’m getting ready for day one of Triathlon Research’s Summer Training Camp with Craig Alexander.

Yes kittens, CRAIG FREAKING ALEXANDER.  He and his coaching group, Sansego, are here for 5 days to help whip me into shape to go from just “doing” triathlons to actually racing them.

Nervous in an understatement.

So is excited.

I’ll be chronicling all the details here, because I’m certain I’ll want to remember every minute.

Check In Day:

The camp will officially kick off today, on the 22nd of September, which meant yesterday my mission in life was to get my butt to KONA.

As I live in Florida, that’s a long trip.  A REALLY long trip kittens.  Reported in to the airport bright and early at 6 a.m. local time, and landed 12 hours by the clock, but 18 ACTUAL hours later in Hawaii.

As proof: I give you airport sunrise from Florida

airport sunrise

And airplane sunset from right over Kona:

airport sunset

Strangely, took off and it was 85 and humid.  Landed and it was 85 and humid.  Something tells me I’m going to feel right at home.

It was dark by the time I was on the ground in Kona, but I wish it hadn’t been.  This was easily the best airport I’ve ever been in from a pure uniqueness factor.  It was completely outdoors, open air, and had these sort of hut like shelters throughout in case of bad weather.  I had a moment of wondering if they just dropped us off in the middle of some rainforest community before I saw the signs for baggage claim and a few Triathlon Research shirts and knew I was in the right place.

Headed to the hotel for a flawless check in, minus the fact that when I stumbled into the lobby, jet lagged, sweating, and juggling suitcases, Craig was standing there and after hugging a few people I’m pretty sure I just stopped, stared with my jaw open, mumbled something about being star struck, and then walked away.

Brilliant.

But on the upside, I got some SWEET swag to go along with my room key at the absolutely beautiful King Kam Marriott, and amazing smelling Hawaiian Lei.

Camp swag Kona

As much as I wanted to enjoy the spectacular pool and party the night away, by the time I got my bike put back together and had a chance to meet a bunch of the Tri Research peeps that I’ve been working with for months, I was so exhausted I couldn’t hold my head up.

I figured that just this once, sleep is more important that wine.

Today we start off with a “bang;” time trials in all three disciplines to get some great baseline measurements of fitness, as well as all the other neato things we can track and measure.

Then, this afternoon we get to meet the amazing coaches at Sansego and start on this sweet 5 day journey.

Stay tuned for updates kittens, I promise there will be many, and they will be hilarious and informative as always.

Questions- Have you ever heard of the Triathlon Research camps?  Who is your favorite pro triathlete?  Can you hear my stomach growling for breakfast from where you live?

Repeat after me: It’s ok to take a rest day

rest day

My workouts have been awesome lately.  I’ve had several solid weeks of training, and have managed to fit in not only my runs in preparation for the upcoming half marathon I’ll be doing, but several rides, and weight training 5x per week.

My diet has been, uh, ok I guess, but given my activity level I’m getting away with eating a lot of things I normally wouldn’t and still maintaining my weight.  Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight can probably tell you, gaining it back is among one of my biggest fears, so I’m happy that I seem to be holding pretty steady.

Yesterday I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed just like every other day, but within about 10 minutes of getting out of bed my energy was zapped.

My entire body hurt.  I mean, I’ve been sore daily for the past several weeks and the level of ouch was about normal, but for some reason, yesterday it was hitting me particularly hard how sore I was.

And I was tiered.  Even after my usual cup of coffee in the morning I was still dragging, and just didn’t have it in me.

I made the executive decision to skip my morning Yoga class, and it was a good one.

By 3 o’clock I was ready for a nap, and my body told me without hesitation that I would not be riding that night.

I won’t lie, I tried to pep talk myself into it.

I mean, it’s only Wednesday.  I can’t skip a workout this early in the week.

And I ate rice with lunch.  RICE!  That’s carbs, I need to work that off, right?

And what about cross training?  I mean, riding my bike is great cross training for this run I’m doing and I don’t want to take a step backwards in my fitness, do I?

And oh my god, the CALORIES!  If I don’t workout how am I going to burn at least 500 calories over what I eat so I can continue losing weight?

So yeah, I’m more than a little crazy.  But after a few hours of playing this game with myself I finally said ENOUGH.

My body needed rest.  Even today, I’ve decided to postpone my long run for the week (9 miles) until tomorrow to give my body just a little more time to recover.

Sure, there’s a million reasons for me to train, but sometimes we also need to realize when our bodies are actually trying to tell us something.

There’s a definite difference between being lazy or unmotivated, and legitimately needing rest and recovery.  It took me awhile yesterday to realize and understand, I’m on the recovery end of that spectrum.

So the moral of the story for today, kittens, is that it’s ok to take a rest day.  Learn from my inner struggle and listen to your body.  It’s the best way to prevent getting burned out, prevent injury, and ensure that you love your training every day.

Anyone else have a hard time taking an unplanned day off?  How do you cope?

Does it still count as running if turtles are lapping me?

Here’s a surprise.  I can run over 3 miles and not pewp my pants.  At least, that appears to be the case so far.

On Wednesday, this happened:

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 1.12.12 PM

Now, I’m not actually sure that it counts as running since I’ve seen little old ladies in my neighborhood power walk faster than a 14:20 mile, but whatever, I got it done.

It was beautiful and sunny and a day that couldn’t be missed, and I was grateful to spend so much of it outside.  Sweating.   And smiling.  But sweating none the less.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 1.16.04 PM

Why am I doing all this running, you ask?  (Or maybe you didn’t, but hey you’re reading and I’m enlightening so go with it…)

Because this girl is officially signed up for the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater coming up on April 11th!

iron girl

While I haven’t been posting about it much, I’ve been diligently following Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Program for novices, and am really starting to get excited for the race.

While nearly 7 miles didn’t feel good by any stretch, it felt possible.  And even the last mile or two I was still jogging with frequent walk breaks.  My legs were tiered, but not completely spent, and I am starting to build the confidence that I will be able to keep moving forward for over 13 miles.

With just over six weeks left until race day, this is where things get serious.  My long runs increase a mile every week, so the next few weeks have me peaking at the 10 mile mark.  I’m also supplementing heavily with cycling, which is amazing for cross training my cardiovascular system while giving my knees and ankles a break.

And, of course, I’m still weight training every day.

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve felt this strong and healthy. Here’s hoping before race day I also start feeling a bit fast.

My goal for this event is to finish in under 3:15 with a stretch goal of finishing in under 3.  The last time I did this event was in 2011 (good God has it been that long?!) and I finished in 3 hours and 47 seconds.  My cardio isn’t as strong this time around, but who knows what improvements 6 weeks will bring?

And let’s face it, I’m really just in it for the t-shirt and medal anyway.

iron girl medalAre any of my readers training for a spring race?  What are you running?  How is your training going?  Fill me in dudes and dudettes! 

Today I would like to discuss my butt…

Last weekend I got together with some friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.  A very long time.  Four years to be exact.

Being someone who is pretty much neurotic about my weight, I actually remember what I weighed and looked like last time I saw these ladies.  (I know, I’m psycho).  Adding to my crazy, I was super duper relieved that right now I weigh about the same as what they would remember and I can’t even tell you the relief I felt knowing that no one would be inwardly thinking how fat I’d gotten.

Even though I kinda did.  I just lost it again.

But I digress.

The one thing that has changed from then and now is what I’m actually doing for exercise.  Back then I was a cardio queen, regularly swimming biking and running and doing triathlons.  I maintained a healthy weight, but to be honest, I NEVER weight trained.

Now I predominantly weight train and do HIIT, with a few longer slower cardio sessions mixed in just because I love riding my bike.

Pretty much the first words out of one of my girlfriend’s mouths was, “wow, you look great.  Your butt looks SO different.”

I took it as a compliment.

Following the party, I had to know if she was right.  I dug out photos from four years ago, and even older ones.  I found pictures of when the hubs and I were first dating (eek 10 years ago!) and I was “skinny”.

Holy crap she was so SO right.  I have a totally different butt.  I mean, I always had a decent bum, but now it is round and filled out all the way around.  Now I have a GREAT butt.

It’s so great I kinda want to post a picture.  But unfortunately, as I mentioned, I cycle.  And my ass is as lily white as the fresh fallen snow, while from the shorts down I am questionably of hispanic origin.  So that is not going to grace the interwebz anytime soon.

So instead I give you my current fitness obsession, Michelle Lewin and her fantastic bum.  Mine isn’t quite as great as hers, but I’m telling ya kids, I’m going to get there.

michelle lewin

 

So how about you guys?  Anyone seeing great physical improvements lately?  Or how about improvements in performance?  You know I love celebrating accomplishments, so let’s hear em!

 

Workout Wednesdays

Keeping with the same theme from my Meal Prep Monday’s post earlier this week, today I dedicate some words to everyone asking what I’m doing at the gym now that I’m no longer in Crossfit.  Other than laughing at the absolute absurdity of at least half of the people there that is.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I’ve enlisted the help of coach extrodinaire Colleen Ghallager of http://www.thefitgal.com to point me in the right direction with programming.  If left to my own devices I would probably end up squatting heavy every day, so it’s good that I have someone to keep me from *only* ever doing leg day.

I won’t give away Colleen’s secret sauce that she developed just for me based on my goals and current fitness level, but it’s easy enough to give ya’ll a basic breakdown of how she’s structured my plan for maximum fat loss and fitness gains.

My workout week looks something like this:

Mondays:  30 minutes steady state cardio + Legs with a quad focus
Tuesdays: 30 minutes steady state cardio + Back and biceps
Wednesdays:  30ish minutes of HIIT (i.e., oh god oh god I’m gonna die for a solid 30 minutes) + Yoga
Thursdays:  35 minutes of intervals on the elliptical (or the rower if I’m feeling froggy) + shoulders and core
Fridays:  Legs with a hamstring focus
Saturday: 35 minutes on the step mill + Chest and triceps

The strength sessions themselves are very Crossfitesque, usually broken into supersets or circuits that I do multiple rounds of with a small amount of rest.  There are also a few select heavy lifts that are included as well.

I’m usually in and out of the gym in an hour to an hour and a half depending on the day and how much exactly I’m trying to kill myself.

Granted, every. single. time. I have to do cardio I complain loudly to myself (or anyone else who happens to be listening to the crazy woman talking to herself on the treadmill), but I’ve gotta admit I’m seeing results.  Not only the weightloss, but fitness improvements as well.

What about you guys?  What does your workout week look like?  Do you do a similar body split or something different entirely?

Cha cha cha changes…

I think I accidentally took a ride in the Back to the Future car and didn’t even realize it.  Apparently, the last time I posted was darn near a month ago.  The lack of posting isn’t lack of material, but more because I’m actually more busy now a days than I was while working, and find myself not in front of a computer very often.

Funny how that works out, isn’t it?

Lots has changed in the past month, probably the greatest of which is that I am no longer doing Crossfit.

I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor.

Truth be told, there are a few reasons why, all of which are kind of personal and I don’t really want to throw out onto the interwebz for speculation.  I think I can suffice it to say that it was/is the right decision for me right now, and I’m good with it.

Not to worry though, this doesn’t mean that I quit working out all together and am letting myself dissolve into a giant puddle of Jabba the Hut.  I’ve hooked up with an amazing coach, Colleen Gallagher over at www.thefitgal.com who has put together the programming I’ve been following for the past three weeks.  It’s really different from Crossfit, but I’m actually seeing some really great results.  I think my body might have been ready for a little change of pace, and this has turned into a blessing in disguise.

Probably the best side effect of this new training is that I’m spending an hour or so a day at my local Globo Gym, where the people watching is top notch.

So my readers, stay tuned in coming weeks for details on my workouts, progress reports, and of course hilarious stories from the world of quarter squats and old men in speedos.

Happy hump day!

I didn’t know there would be running…

I-just-ran-5-miles-and-what-a-workout

Hey guess what?  Getting better is hard freaking work.

Three weeks ago when I started working one on one with a coach to help to improve some of my many Crossfit weaknesses, I was totally pumped and ready to go.

“I want better endurance,” I told her.  “My lungs always go before my legs.  And my heart rate goes really high really fast.  I want to be able to string together movements better.”

“Ok, ” she said with a devious smile.  I shoulda known.

It’s amazing coming from a triathlon background to recently realize that endurance is my limiter.  Lift a really heavy weight anywhere between 1-5 times?  Sure, no problem.  Lift it 10?  Eff you buddy, I don’t wanna.

When did that happen?

I distinctly remember starting Crossfit and loving it because so many of the movements were things I had never done before.  I wasn’t comparing myself to the “in shape” version that used to do triathlons, because there wasn’t much swimming, biking or even running in the workouts.  I didn’t ever feel bad that I was not measuring up to what I knew myself to be capable of, because we never did that shit.

Instead I was learning new movements and working out with really big WEIGHTS; things I had never tried before.  And things that I turned out to be pretty darn ok at.

Now that I’m at the point where I have a super secret goal of *gasp* competing, I need to look at myself more holistically as an athlete, identify those gaps, and train those weaknesses.

Which is what I’ve been doing for nearly three weeks now.

It sucks.

My “homework” every week is a list of movements that, given the choice, I would rather have a bout of diarrhea than do.  Lots of jumping.  And running.  And core.  And shit in sets of 10.

But you know what?  Yesterday before my session I ran a timed mile and did it nearly 1:30 FASTER than my first attempt just 3 weeks ago.

Is there a little nagging voice in my head reminding me that I’m still almost a minute off of my half marathon pace (from five freaking years ago)?  Sure.  But you know what, that voice can shut the f*ck up.  I’m improving, and working my ass off to do it.

This is just the results after 3 weeks.  Is anyone else as excited as I am to see where I end up in September?

Push it real good…

fat jeans

Operation Fit Bitch is in full effect over here.

Honestly, I don’t really know why.  I just woke up one day last week and kind of realized that I’m coming up quickly on my 2 year Crossfit Anniversary, and I’m sick of just being kind of mediocre at Crossfit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I walked into my box for the first time in late August two years ago sedentary, overweight, completely out of shape and terrified to try pretty much anything.  I’ve come a long way both in my fitness and my confidence.

Yeah, I’m still terrified of heights so things like pull ups, rope climbs, and even box jumps present a little bit of a complex challenge for me, but by God I’ve done them.  All of them.  And I’m brave enough now to at least *try* new skills or movements, whereas I never would have been before.

Recently I’ve realized that while Crossfit has helped me to unlock my potential, I’ve let myself become a little bit lazy in my workouts.  Yeah, they still suck.  Running outside in Florida in the summer will always suck, but when I analyze my mile times, my max lifts, or even the weight that I’m using for WOD’s, I realize it’s stayed pretty much the same for the past 6 months or longer.

No wonder my fitness is stagnating.  No wonder I’m *gasp* almost becoming bored with my workouts.

NO MORE my readers.  NO MORE.

Last week I enlisted the help of one of our awesome coaches to help me get out of my funk.  I know myself well enough to know I’m at the point with Crossfit where I’m either going to push it and get to a whole new level, or I’m going to quit.

I refuse to quit.

So here’s to week 1 of progress.  Stay tuned for updates, because it’s only going to get better from here.

Share the love people

It might surprise you to learn that I’m not really a schmoopy Valentine’s Day person.

Ok that’s a lie.  If you read this blog that probably doesn’t surprise you at all.  Kind of like the fact I’m not wearing pants while writing this post probably isn’t really news to you either.  But I digress…

One thing I DO believe in, however, is supporting charitable organizations.  Much of my career was spent working for nationally recognized not for profit organizations, and I know just how much good they can do.

Now that I’m retired, I still enjoy fundraising for great causes.  To that end, in just 44 days I’m riding a freaking METRIC CENTURY in the Southwest Florida Tour de Cure.

For real people.  I would post a picture of my ass chaffage from all the training rides to prove it, but I don’t want to traumatize any small children or animals.

So other than the chaffage, here’s the rub.  I have a $1500 fundraising goal and I need HELP.  Badly.

If you fellow bloggers would like to give me a push towards the finish line, you can make a secure and tax deductible donation to this great cause here.

Thanks in advance, and stay tuned for some great stories from the road!