Friday, November 14, 2014

Getting Back My Health, Getting Back to Being 'Me'

Well hello! It's been a while! Since July, in fact, just after finishing Vineman 70.3. This blog is mostly about my adventures in training and racing, and, well, there's been none of that since Vineman so it makes sense that the blog went silent, right?

However, I also like this blog to be a window into my life and everything that's going on even if I'm not racing like a beast. Actually, I've sat down several times to post on here with good intention -- for example, I thought I'd make a blog comeback with a rad post on the Laguna Beach Aquathon that we did in September -- a 9-mile ocean swim and hike down the coast -- or when I was at Interbike, or when I went to Kona for the Ironman World Championships (reporting via Endurance Planet, check it out in the archives!). But those never happened (well, the events happened and were epic but not the blogs ;))

Cool stuff IS going on in life that's blog-worthy despite no racing. But here's the thing. I'm busier than ever, and a large part of my life is attached to the computer screen these days so when it comes time to wrap up work I need to step away. It's been an important part of my journey this year to find more life balance, and it's definitely been different than every other year since 2007 when I became a triathlete. It's weird and exciting at the same time. You're about to find out.... oh my, what a year it's been!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment, email me and/or inquire further about anything. I'm putting myself out there to help educate, increase awareness and hopefully help others find their path to optimal health!

Journey to Fixing My Health

Brief Background Of How It Went 'South'
Regaining complete health was priority numero uno of 2014. Last year I did a number on myself, and without a doubt the years prior played a role in my dwindling health too. Since 2007 when I started triathlon and graduated college (and even before that) it was just go go go, train train train, race race race, work work work, stress stress stress. I was averaging 10+ races a season and loving it, but neglecting proper rest, and not recognizing -- nor owning -- how high-strung I could get. It finally caught up. Plus, I'm not saying I'm old, but I am no longer a spring chicken and am getting older (30 in less than 6 months) -- that didn't help the matter either. I was no longer "invincible" and able to bounce back from smashing myself like I was at 22 (smashing carries many definitions, hehe).

So last year (2013) it started to get tough for me. I knew I wasn't right as early as June 2013, in fact, when I got bloodwork done and there were red flags. I kept going. It was especially apparent that I was totally blah by the end of the year at Vegas 70.3 Worlds and that stretch all the way until after our Kona trip. I look at Kona pics and I see me looking worn down and like I'd aged 10 years in just one year alone. (Oh and IM Tahoe sandwiched in there... In fact, I now see it as a blessing in disguise that Tahoe worked out the way it did.) After all that, last winter I finally gave myself the green light to rest extensively for a "true" offseason.

Without measuring and data and going off feel (I'll admit -- I was feeling rather good) I then made an attempt to get back to my old ways at the beginning of this year with the intentions of going back to racing as usual, starting with a few small races, mostly running events, and then Eagleman 70.3 on tap to really kick it off. Training and all that was going ok but it didn't last long. I held on for a gnarly training camp in April (and enjoyed it). But even before and after that camp, I felt deep down that any glimpse of health and being "Ms. Fit" was slipping away, and I could feel those same issues coming back. It's important to note: some of this was my fault, some was out of my control; I was trying to take care of myself (but still turning away to the pink elephant in the room).

It then crescendoed with giant blow up (in my opinion) on May 13, aka that silly fall off the mountain bike during a photo shoot that resulted in a wrist fracture -- a fall that shouldn't have happened, and clearly a sign that I was not completely recovered from that offseason alone, and not in a good place. (Thankfully dexa scans did confirm, however, that my bones were strong -- it was just the worst way to land in that fall). That was the last straw for me; I could see and feel myself on the path of destruction. It was time to freakin just stop and figure out my shit once and for all.

Ok, so I didn't quite stop just yet. I did Vineman as perhaps one last attempt to see if I could be "me" out there on the race course, and I even tried a different approach to training with the whole "minimalist" thing, but it just wasn't good racing and I wasn't feeling strong at all. Alright, time to let it go....

Road to Repair
It was actually a great feeling of relief to let go of the idea that I had to train and race -- as if I had let those things define who I was before, but not anymore. I am me for being me, regardless if I toe the line or wakeup early every Sunday to do the long ride. I refused to let my health status continue to spiral down in order to try and perform. Well, it was pretty clear I had hit that wall where I wasn't even able to perform even on pure adrenaline/cortisol anymore -- my body was shot and shutting down (hence Vineman).

Don't get me wrong, I was still very capable in other aspects of life -- work and whatnot -- but when you're an athlete you feel things in your body at another level. It's a crazy hyperawareness of little tiny things that make a big difference -- not so the case for the recreational exerciser/non-athlete in my opinion.

Recognizing Stress
Despite being capable and stoked on the work front, and feeling happy and perky when I needed to be, more and more I was suffering from stress overload and feeling not-as-happy -- things would trigger me and I'd irrationally stress out over dumb stuff. Often. Ok, so yea, I'm traditionally a Type A gal who tends to stress and want things "perfect," but that's no excuse -- the self-induced episodes of stressing out had to stop once and for all. It was just silly and literally ruining my body! And when I'm talking stress, I'm not talking about actual anxiety disorders or clinical issues, I'm simply talking about the same kind of stress many of you probably experience on a regular basis. But that is stress, folks, and it wreaks havoc. If you let it escalate, can manifest into this huge negative health outcome.

My Team & Health Testing
I knew that in order to really figure things out and change I had to get testing done and team up with the right specialists (not general primary care physicians who gave me stupid answers to the problems at hand) to help me. It was quite incredible how my little team of helpers came together. I found a great functional medicine doctor locally through a recommendation by Dr. Minkoff, who's on my podcast. Then also thanks to my podcast, Chris Kelly at Nourish Balance Thrive reached out to me. I swear, Chris was/is like my angel -- he contacted me just at the right time when I needed his help more than ever. Chris and Dr. Jamie Busch at NBT are the shiznit. I recommend everyone check them out. They're athletes who are functional health specialists -- a win-win combo for any athlete looking to optimize health.

The tests I got included:

-Blood work - everything you can imagine (see my list that you can use here)
-Saliva - 4 samples in one day to measure cortisol and hormones (better than blood alone)
-Organic acids urine test* - my new favorite test EVER; tests for metabolic functions inclduing gastrointestinal/gut health, cellular and mitochondrial health, neurotransmitters, amino acid balance, etc.
-Stool test* - to rule out any parasites, more on gut health, etc.

I know. A lot. but hey, if you're going to get tested you might as well do it all so there are NO question marks remaining. What if I had contracted a parasite? I didn't. But it was important to know because had I, it would be wreaking havoc and there would be a specific treatment for it. Folks, if you swim in open bodies of water or travel and eat random food, you just never know...

*See my actual test results and hear the analysis on this free webinar:

Results of Tests 
So anyway, what did I find out? In a nutshell:

The bad:

-My hormones were jacked up royally, but surprisingly better than when I tested in 2013 so at least I was doing something right and on the right track, sorta. But in my journey I was noticing female-specific issues that were not cool with me, so I knew hormonal stuff was at play. (In fact sex hormone, cycles, etc, are a big issue in female endurance athletes; just listen to my podcast with pro triathlete Angela Naeth on the matter. Many girls can ignore certain issues and you're not going to die, and you might even feel generally not that bad. But is it healthy? No.).

-Cortisol was good in morning but tanked by afternoon (confirmed via saliva) - hence why I was dying of fatigue every day by around 2-3pm.

-Speaking of hormones, pretty sure I was a picture-perfect example of the pregnenolone steal. (We talk about that in this podcast).

-My gut health was total crap - I had SIBO and candida (yeast overgrowth)! WHAT?! But actually, this made great sense and something I suspected even before testing.

-More issues came up in the Organic Acids tests (again, you can hear details on this webinar; pretty cool).

-Stool test was negative for parasites or other issues, but re-confirmed candida/yeast issue.

The good:

-It wasn't all bad. My bloodwork for other markers came back totally clear -- e.g. I was totally ok in areas of iron/ferritin levels, cholesterol, metabolic panel, liver enzymes, CBC, Vitamin D levels, hsCRP (no signs of high inflammation), and all that usual basic stuff.

Diagnosis & Why Those Results??
Honestly, it's complicated. There's a history there that must me taken into deep consideration, and in drawing conclusions you really have to paint a full picture of the person -- digging into a lot of nitty gritty stuff. Taking into account the full history is something the functional docs will do - not your typical physician who only spend a few seconds with you.

In my case, if I were to simplify and narrow it down, I think my team of docs and I all agree stress and certain aspects of lifestyle (years of mega endurance training especially) were huge factors in many of the issues plaguing me, including even the onset of yeast overgrowth! I'm talking all kinds of stress -- the stress of physical endurance training, mental stress, a life of constantly feeling the need to be on the go and as a result always in a "fight or flight" state, and so on...

Seriously, in your own journey to health and/or your own self-evals, don't discount the stress of training (and the usual psychological stress of "needing" to train that accompanies it). Even if you love your training and it makes you happy (like me!), it still is a stress on the body. Why do you think guys like Mark Sisson gave it up?

The Role of Diet, Food and Accidentally Too Low Carb
You can also argue that food and diet also led to certain issues with me like the candida and hormonal problems. I'll say, for the record, my bodyweight never got too low (i.e. never below 130lbs at 5'7) nor was I restrictive in overall calories in the least bit. In fact, the opposite is true. I was actually holding on to more body fat than normal for me and appearing as if I was losing lean muscle mass -- despite still working out, strength training, and all that...

Food-wise, I was eating the calories that's for sure and it goes without saying that I eat very healthfully, but I will admit: I was too low carb and perhaps did one to many training sessions on an empty stomach. I firmly believe that "training low" (i.e. empty stomach) must be used VERY carefully for women, and it most cases if done in excess is extremely dangerous.

In my case, my too low-carbness was partly an honest mistake of which I was not aware, and partly my fault. On one hand, I did want to be somewhat low carb for increased metabolic efficiency and, ironically, health reasons. But on the other hand I just wasn't paying close enough attention to my actual carb intake by the numbers, and in attempt to "eat clean" regularly I was inevitably cutting out quite a bit of carbs. The carbs I did have were mostly starchy root veggies/whole foods like sweet potatoes and whatnot but not really any grains, legumes, or things like that (like I once did eat regularly). I wasn't even eating oatmeal anymore. But again -- I want to make the point that I wasn't too low calorie (lots of high-fat in my diet), I was just too low carb, especially for the lifestyle I had with training. And, no, I wasn't counting grams/calories.

Trust me, please trust me, I am not anti-carb/anti-grain, I do not promote ketosis, and I don't condone restrictive diets. Personally I wasn't even restricting foods myself, except for avoiding gluten or glaringly "bad" foods like fast food/junkfood/excessive refined sugar/vegetable oils (but, hell, you'll even see me eat gelato or even gluten-filled pizza sometimes, just not regularly). Additionally, despite being "low carb" I was actually regularly eating things like Bonk Breakers, occasionally rice/Allen Lim rice cakes, gluten-free pizza, gluten-free crackers, those dessert indulgences with John, etc. Again -- I was never purposefully restricting myself, I just like to eat clean, and honestly I'm that girl who craaaaves things like veggies (brussels sprouts ftw!!!), avocados, hearty animal protein and whatnot. So that's what I end up eating a lot of!

After realizing, "Holy crap, I'm too low carb," (in fact I was even showing signs of being in ketosis as we pointed out on the webinar), I immediately made the change and introduced more carbs and grains more regularly into my diet. No big deal! I was fine with it. And in fact, it really helped quickly (but there were other variables that were helping me so I can't say carbs alone are the cure; it's complicated).

What About Alcohol & Sugar?
Anyway, I can't just vilify carbs or lack thereof. I know in 2013 (and maybe before), as well as early this year I was indulging much more in stuff with John than ever before in my life especially craft beer and (this may sound backwards) sugar-filled things -- but even "healthy" sugary things like raw vegan pies and things I baked or made for us. Just because I was low carb doesn't mean I denied sweets ;) Plus, that's what happens in a relationship, you eat and drink delicious things together, right? So I blame John ;) Kidding.

But, for real: All that yeasty glutinous beer and even the sugar (despite not being overly excessive) did not fare well with me nor my worsening issues. Not only did those things contribute to yeast overgrowth (the little yeast guys were just feeeeeding off the beer and multiplying in my gut!), but it surely was not helpful in maintaining a healthy body overall. Alcohol and sugar are drugs, and even in moderation if you're vulnerable it'll do more harm than good as I saw.

I suspected candida even before it was confirmed, and in fact had mostly given up beer slightly before my testing, but the damage was done. Since cutting it out, I do not miss it/its effects on me. Beer is fun, but the side effects -- yuck.

Candida Recovery
So then once I found out about the candida for sure, I was even more gung-ho on giving up not just beer but sugar and booze in general, so for me that meant wine (I don't drink hard alcohol ever) as well as my beloved dark chocolate and even "healthy" sugar like that from dates, fruit, etc. It honestly wasn't hard to let go of wine & treats knowing I needed to repair myself. I guess it's like when you get pregnant -- you just do what you have to do for good health.

I also followed somewhat of a anti-candida diet, but I loosely followed that, I'll admit. No crazy cleanse, no major restrictions. Mostly just giving up aforementioned alcohol and sugar (including most fruit), as well as trigger foods like beets, to which I've come to realize I am sensitive (see a list of candida trigger foods to avoid here). Instead of my dark chocolate and glass of wine at night, I replaced that with sparkling water mixed with Magnesium powder and a drop of stevia.... and occasionally when I wanted dessert I would (and still do) make a sugar-free "chocolate pudding" with cacao powder, cacao nibs, stevia, coconut, nut milk, sometimes avocado, and various other things.

Grains were totally IN during this process, as long as they were gluten free. In fact, I fell in love with buckwheat groats this year and eat them 24/7 -- heck, I am typing over a bowl of groats as we speak actually!

See a list of approved foods to prevent/kill candida here.

While I didn't "cleanse" per se, Chris at NBT had me take some antimicrobial supplements and oil of oregano to kill off the bad bacteria/yeast, as well as probiotics and a fermented foods to grow back the good bacteria. In fact, interesting I was taking a probiotic but had to switch because it turns out the one I was taking had a strain that was "bad" for me in terms of the overgrowth issue -- only found this out via the organic acids test.

If you suspect that you need to clean your gut do the test. But if don't want to do all the testing, I recommend the book "Clean Gut," which has a good protocol and supplement tips.

In addition to the items listed above to repair my gut, I had other stuff to repair too and Chris also put me on a better-quality CoQ10 (the one I was taking was not being absorbed), Basic B Complex, and Thorne AM/PM Multi. I was also taking other usuals like fish oil, Vitamins C & D, PharmaNAC, and natural herbal remedies unique to my needs that my other functional doc gave me (i.e. adaptogenic herbs). Additionally I was even doing things via nutrition and my sleep environment to promote hormonal balance and a smooth cycle -- crazy cool stuff! Feel free to inquire.

It was a lot of supplements for a while, but thankfully just temporary and then cutting back to just the standards that I'd take regularly anyway.

During that time, I was warned that for the sake of my liver it was even more important to lay off any excessive alcohol. Easy. In fact, I have ended that mega supplementing phase but have yet to go back to drinking much at all. Outside a couple "splurge" nights, I rarely have alcohol anymore.... I just love the way I feel without wine or beer. I do enjoy a good glass of wine, but keep it to a very minimum nowadays. Trust me, in my day I've had my share of booze so I can live without it now ;) However, if you ask me to go to a brewery or a winery or out with friends for happy hour -- I am IN! I still love doing all that!! I just don't drink like a sailor (or at all sometimes).

Did it Work? Am I Cleaned Up and Healthy? What's Next?
It took several dedicated months on this health plan to let the action take place within me. Along with the supplements and careful attention to a good diet, I was working on stress management -- recognizing my stress, dealing with what stresses me out, and/or preventing stress with more focus than I ever have in my entire life. I'm not gonna lie, this was tough at times, and much harder than simply taking supplements and cutting back on booze and sugar. When you are looking to reduce and manage stress, that requires a lot from one's self. Meanwhile, I was coping with "letting go" of my love for training and racing (knowing this was ultimately just temporary). But I was and still am exercising consistently just doing whatever, also focusing on balancing out many imbalances I've accumulated over the years (another long post that needs to be written).

But you know what? Once my gut and hormones started returning to a healthy state, my stress levels automatically started improving. (Totally a chicken and the egg situation on some level.) In addition, I could feel the benefits of a healthier gut and hormones getting better in the form of overall better moods, energy, work productivity, focus, happiness, complexion, etc, etc. Even little things like the acne I would get on my chin cleared up.

Speaking of my body -- I guess I never realized how bad my gut had gotten until I cleaned it up. All that bloating, gas, and occasional issues with going #2 that I used to have and thought was normal. It wasn't. Until I fixed my gut I had no idea how bad things were in me. I now see what I'm sensitive to in terms of food and drink, and what causes bloating.... I know I need to be careful still even with things like sugar. I think I'm still vulnerable and perhaps not totally 100% out of the woods yet.

Same goes for everything else... I am remarkably better, I can't even describe! But I know I'm not completely out of the woods yet, and still working on "me" all the time. But gosh where I'm at today vs. last year at this time? It's been an incredible journey and I've grown as a person/coach more than I can ever describe in words.

I'm not ready to get back to officially training for races yet -- well maybe that's not entirely true. It's complicated haha. Some days I am incredibly motivated to train for triathlon and go for it -- and shoot for that goal of a sub-5 half-Ironman that I've been so close to getting (on the other hand, I have zero desire currently to do a full Ironman lol). However, then other days all I want to do is strength train and/or yoga, but no s/b/r. Some days I just wanna ocean swim, surf, and SUP. Then other days I want to sign up for an open marathon and try that out (which is actually sounding like the most likely option right now if I were to pull the trigger on a race). I'm staying fit, so when I'm ready, the foundation is there.

But at the end of the day, my life is much more about my work and others rather than my own training/racing right now. I am love love loving my job(s) and my people in my network. Not to mention, I am on a quest to become a master at what I practice in my line of work -- I have some serious serious goals and am soooo motivated to do some BIG things. Meanwhile, personally sticking to a periodized training plan to train, meh. It's just not a personal priority right now, and there are so many hours in a day.... We'll see.

Thanks for visiting and reading!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Race Report: Unconventionally Tackling Vineman 70.3

If you've been following my blog you know I've taken a completely unconventional approach to training in the eight weeks before this half-Ironman, while also recovering from a wrist fracture. It's been a crazy year so far to say the least, but I always appreciate a good challenge and some experimenting. I am happy we're finally at that point where I can talk about an actual race...And not just any race, but half-Ironman #13 of my triathlon career, held on July 13, after breaking my wrist May 13 (2x). Was it "lucky" #13? Not really...

While I went into this race accepting that I could either fail or succeed given the training/situations leading up, of course I wanted to succeed because I care. Simple. But that didn't happen. Ok fine. Some of you may be thinking, "I told ya so." But for the record, I adopted a minimalist approach not as an attempt to cut corners naively, but rather to find some balance and more importantly to find some solutions to some personal sh*t going on. I don't think minimalist training alone failed me. I think there was a lot at play. Too many variables and thus not "scientific" enough to draw any definite conclusions. From an emotional perspective, I will admit, I want to get back to solid racing and to be that girl who's competitive, who gets on the podium, and who achieves her goals of racing sub-5s in a half Ironman -- or at least is in the ballpark of doing so. I'm not there right now at all. I have a pretty good idea why I'm in this rut, but how to remedy it is the complicated part. It'll take time. (Stay tuned for more on that to come.) Even if it wasn't a magical day at Vineman, I don't intend for this race report to be a downer....

Race week shows up and I took a very restful, rather traditional taper-week approach (mostly because I was also busy as heck with work and had to invest most my energy/time in that). We hit the road Thursday for a mellow trip up the coast opting to take the leisurely/pretty 101 instead of the faster but boring/ugly 5. We broke the drive into two days with a stop in Paso Robles Thursday evening. (Only one tiny weeny wine tasting in Paso, I promise). We drove the rest Friday, taking the scenic route again through SF and enjoying a mellow pace. The two-day approach wasn't rushed but it still was a lot of time in the car; yuck.

I was in great spirits and by no means a nervous wreck nor expressing any fear or worry of the unknown outcome. I knew what I was facing and the variables leading into the race, and I really truly was ready to embrace whatever was going to unfold. I was mentally tough. Ask John.... he saw it all. And he knows when I'm "good" or "bad" mentally because he's seen it both ways; he knows what it looks like when I'm vulnerable and emotional (Vegas 70.3 Worlds!). However, this year with Vineman I held on to my mental fortitude before, the day of, all the way through the damn race, and after -- not getting down on myself.

We settled into our little place in Santa Rosa and all was smooth sailing. No hiccups before Sunday. All the usual prep (after now doing 13 half-Ironmans I could probably do the final pre-race prep stuff with my eyes closed.) HRV wasn't that great, but I figured it was perhaps just some underlying nerves. I was sleeping really well Thursday and Friday especially (scored 100% quality on the Sleep Cycle app two nights in a row!), and even the night before the race I slept well, waking up before my alarm feeling refreshed and ready aka up before 4am and ready to go like a crackhead haha. Yes, I got a little nervous Saturday night/Sunday morning but nothing unreasonable or abnormal. Sunday morning I ate my usual pre-race breakfast of oven-roasted sweet potato mash with chia seeds, almond milk, cinnamon, and sea salt, along with 5 MAP and coffee/creamer. Nothing else before the race except water and another 5 MAP.

Wetsuits were legal, good for me. Still, what can I say, it was a slow swim! But that was expected and truthfully I was totally planning on going extra conservative in the water knowing my lack of swim training. I hadn't swam more than a mile since April, I had many weeks completely off from swimming due to the wrist, and the swim training I did do once capable was more like "time back in the water" testing the wrist strength vs. actual training. So I swam an appropriate intensity to make sure I didn't come out completely dead tired. Heck, I never swim fast in races anyways (it's a work in progress; one day!). All said and done, I swam 40 minutes.... and apparently 1.36 miles in distance covered! Haha! I only remember going semi off course near the end and misjudging the finish chute entrance, so I'm wondering if others had a long swim?

Even after ~9 months of not doing a triathlon, my transitions were super efficient. I didn't feel like my HR was blowing up either in T1, which was a good sign -- and proving I did in fact swim very slow haha. (Oh ya, I didn't wear an HRM this race.)

This was hands down the highlight of the day. I loooooved the Felt IA, and I loooooved ripping through the Vineman course. The bike handled nicely on a course that's always requiring you to be focused on the next turn, hill, downhill or crazy road condition. I love that though; never a dull moment. And it goes without saying that the scenery is beyond breathtaking. I could tell that I definitely was not my strongest ever, but having the IA and a good attitude, I still made it a really good ride for me. It showed, as I went from 30th AG out of the water to 8th AG on the bike! Many passes.My wrist felt good enough and wasn't a hindrance.

I was also riding a new wheelset by Conquer Bikes, and the wheels kicked ass. This is a great company that makes fully custom wheelsets -- you choose the size/depth, carbon style, colors, etc, and can also customize with your own logos and/or slogans. I was riding 50mm wheels, which are smaller than my old Zipp 808s (which I'm selling btw if anyone is interested let me know). Turns out 808s for a girl of my size and the speeds I race aren't really the best choice -- too much wheel in fact, and unless I'm consistently going 23+mph, they have little to no positive aero effect. So working with Conquer Bikes to get a shallower rim depth has been a very positive move. Check them out, and if you decide you need a new set use the code "coachtawnee" for a free carbon bottle cage worth $50 added to your order!

From the minimalist training perspective, my bike performance was actually quite awesome given the fact that I was riding dangerously low volume, and was exclusively on the trainer for 8 weeks minus just two short outdoor rides before the race simply to make sure I could ride a bike again. I rode nearly the same speed as last year (20.3 mph overall average this year vs. 20.4 mph average last year), and splits were thus only a couple minutes different (2:43 vs. 2:45 I think?). My watts were a bit lower than last year but not by much (avg in 170s this year). That said there was a price tag with that performance: The lack of long rides didn't necessarily hurt my ability to bike well; however, it did hurt the subsequent run as you'll see.

On that note, at Chalk Hill (mile ~43) I realized my split for the first half of the ride was a bit faster than the second half had been, so at that point so I laid down the hammer coming home to Windsor High School, which is easy to do; after the Chalk Hill grind, there's a legit downhill then mostly flat from there. Perhaps I rode those last ~12 miles too hard, but I don't care, I felt awesome and was loving it.

Fueling-wise I mostly had water, close to three Bonk Breakers and a little Skratch; I was drinking and eating ad libitum. It worked quite well as usual. It was a hot day and I drank 3.5 bottles (the XLab Torpedo aero bottle). I had the bars cut up and easily accessible in the IA's built-in bento box. I never felt under-fueled, nor over-fueled ;) How I am not yet sick of Bonk Breakers I do now know.... I look forward to every bite.

If there was any negative to the bike it was: 1) the course (not surprisingly) was too crowded/cramped with riders and that makes it impossible to get into a good rhythm for any long period, and 2) my position, which is not quite perfected yet. Quite frankly I haven't had enough experience on the new ride to really dial it in due to the randomness of this year. Plus I changed my aero bars to accommodate my wrist in the healing phase (ski bends so it's not pronated), and I think in doing so that messed up my fit a bit. I had periods of being uncomfortable and sore, which transferred into the run for sure. 

After finishing the bike with a little hammer session, I was perhaps a tad slower in T2 than I could have been, but I wanted to get situated properly and try to then hammer the run.

Oops!!! Up until this point I felt good and was optimistic in having an all-around solid race. In fact without looking at pace out of T2 I settled into a sub-8 pace, which was in my realistic range and felt comfortable.

But then that went out the door and I blew up. Big time.

This was up there with my slowest runs ever in a half-Ironman... it was a 1:56 ish. After running a 1:41 on this course last year?! Crap!!! I'm not saying a 1:56 is bad, but for me it's not a great performance knowing what I can do/have done. Yes, it was significantly hotter than past years and the course changed a bit (some said it was harder), but those things would not equate to my run being 15 minutes slower. As a triathlete you're supposed to deal with the conditions, not whine about them, and still race your best. I simply couldn't execute that kind of performance -- I don't think it was the heat that killed me. The hills, maybe ;)

Here's what I think happened:
1) Lack of run fitness and not rebounding from a period of detraining in May (that was a rough month). 
2) The bike. It took a toll and perhaps the fit was an issue, which just goes to show how a fit is a work-in-progress and I haven't had enough time/experience on this bike to find my bread-and-butter position.
3) Reality that something is "off" in me, and it has been for a while now. I'm not 100% and I'm trying to get that sh*t figured out. Health must be No.1.

I simply felt like crap-o-la on the run and after the first half mile every single step hurt like a bitch. There was nothing smooth and flowy about it at all. Thankfully what I experienced wasn't "injury pain" (body is strong/sturdy) nor was it a nutritional/bonking problem. In fact, nutritionally speaking, I really think I nailed calories/hydration; I had MAP, a 24oz bottle of water with about 100 calories of honey mixed in (just the right amount of sweetness), plus a lot of coke, bananas and more water on the course -- yup, I went for the coke (2 cups at a time) and it helped give me a little "oomph". I got one side stitch in La Crema around mile 7 -- which literally made me feel asthmatic and out of breath for a good minute or two -- but other than that gut held up, stomach not queasy and nutritionally I felt ok.

My hips and my legs, though. Oh myyyy. I'll admit, I briefly walked some of the aid stations and hills, but never more than 30-45 seconds. The reason I let myself walk was because every mini break at least allowed me to "get it together" for a mini recovery and pick up the pace again for a brief while. It's a really effective strategy that I sometimes use with clients and not a sign of weakness IMO. With the mini walks, I still think all my splits were the 8's and 9's, and overall like an 8:50+ average pace (I dunno for sure, haven't turned on Garmin since. While an 8:50ish avg doesn't suck, it's a little hard to swallow knowing last year I ran a 7:44 average pace. But you roll with it and on this day, I shifted my thoughts into the run becoming a mission of survival to the finish, and not really about performance.

I will say, this run was not as tough as Vegas 70.3 Worlds last year, but it was definitely up there; maybe top 3 hardest ever. However, as opposed to Vegas where I was also mentally breaking down, in Vineman I held my shit together and stayed mentally tough. It was a bad day and of course frustrating to feel "stuck" unable to break out of a bad run, but I wasn't about to let go of the one thing I could control -- my attitude.

The Finish/Thoughts
Repeating a 5:10 finish like I got last year was clearly not happening, nor was even beating my first-ever Vineman time of 5:20 (from 2009). It was a 5:27 this year, and a near-puking experience at the finish. Totally wrecked. It would seem that the minimalist training did not allow for a standout performance. But I can't say that the minimalist approach was a total bust. There's a lot more at play here, and it did work in terms of simply being able to get through the full 70.3 without "dying" or getting injured.

I am not going to throw in the towel on this minimalist thing just yet. I think the time frame I was dealing with and my health were two limiting factors.... hm.

Somehow, I still landed myself in the top-10 in my age group (7th) and 48th woman overall. That makes me think that perhaps it was a harder year for everyone? However, then you look at the rockstars of the race and they still crushed it so it couldn't have been that much harder ;)

That's all for now. Not much else to report; no crazy after parties and sadly not even much time spent wine tasting post race. It went like this:

Sunday rather uneventful... quick stop at Russian River Brewery where I didn't even drink a full beer. I was so dang tired and barely could pull it together like usual. However, my appetite did return in full force and Sunday I polished off a bag of chips and dip, most of a pizza, a gnarly quesadilla, and dessert. Mmmm. Then Monday we had to leave town but we were able to fit in a quick wine tasting before thanks to an awesome podcast fan who invited us to their family winery in the Alexander Valley right where we bike during Vineman.... visiting their property was a seriously awesome treat. The family's owned the land since the 1800s! We got a full education on farming, the wine business, etc. Good way to end the trip...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Matcha Smoothie Recipe: For Focus, Energy and Satiation

The color isn't the greatest, but taste/quality is amazing!
Sometimes recipes just come together based on what you have lying around. Granted, the items that I have just lying around in my house aren't necessarily "typical" (case in point: gelatin powder that comes from grassfed cattle parts). But it's all relative. Last weekend I was looking to make a killer smoothie that included my new love, Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder (after seeing Lindsay rave about this stuff, I quickly bought it too). I knew I wanted a good amount of greens in my smoothie, but still sweet, not bitter, and not too sugary. Below is what resulted and I loved it.

The best part? My energy was off the wall! I felt so focused and ready to just hammer out tasks. Not BS'ing here. In fact, I put this smoothie to the test again today to replace AM coffee/caffeine, which I've been off of for a bit (something I do every now and then). When I'm "off" the caff I eventually get to the point where I still have good energy, but I always miss that jolt coffee gives. Well I put the matcha to the test this morning for a jolt, and I can't say that it was exactly like coffee awesomeness, but it amp me up and really put me into focus/work mode.

Anyway, try it out. It's pretty easy to make and their are endless options on how this can go. When I formulated this my goals were to:
1) make sure there was FAT involved
2) include at least 3 green things
3) low on fruit
4) no added sugar (but still sweet!)
5) and have some "chunk"... you'll see ;)

Matcha Smoothie
Use organic ingredients when possible...

Ingredients in order of how I add:
1 1/4 cup of nondairy milk of choice; I used organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp Great Lakes Gelatin powder (pure quality protein!!)
2 rounded tbsp ground flax meal
1/3 large cucumber
4-5 dino kale leaves
Stevia to taste; I used half powder/half liquid stevia
Sea salt, a pinch (the secret to make this drink awesome!)
Cinnamon, a few liberal shakes (this prevents spike in blood sugar and is always a delicious addition
4-5 cubes ice

-more fat such as small handful raw organic cashews, spoonful nut butter, hemp, or avocado
-extra water if you don't want it so thick
-few chunks watermelon (I did this in my drink over 4th of July weekend; it's good with or without)

Next up: Blend!
 The finished product yields slightly more than a pint (fit nicely in a mason jar, with a few extra sips out of the blender's pitcher).
Add coconut, then stir in the flakes right into the drink!


You're not done.... 

The best ingredient is still to come:  
Coconut flakes!

...After you've blended and added the drink to your glass, add thick coconut flakes (the unsweetened kind!) for some added texture and a little something to chew on! Great to add if you're having this for breakfast!

Bam. Enjoy and try not to consume too fast... savor it.

Last word: 
Normally I'm not big on using smoothies to replace meals. Especially your standard fruit/juice blend that's essentially just sugar and poor-quality gut-wrenching dairy. But here's why I think smoothies can be a great idea:

1) Hearty, filling, stabilizing. If there are good calories from fat, and not just pure fruit/sugar you can really develop a quality "meal in a glass" that hydrates and also keeps you full for a long time, and doesn't spike your blood sugar (thus leading to a crash).

2) And by drinking your meal you are giving your digestive system a break. We're constantly overwhelming our digestive system to do work with the meals we eat. That takes energy and is taxing. So why not give it a break with a smoothie every now and then and let that extra energy be used somewhere else positively in your body. (Granted, my smoothie has the coconut flakes that you chew but you get the idea ;))

Monday, July 7, 2014

Being 'Flexible' Two Weeks Out From a Race

This is the part where listening to the body becomes the No.1 priority. No screwing around when you're two weeks out from a race no matter what kind of training you're doing -- there's really not anything you can "gain" fitness-wise when you're that close, but there's plenty of damage that still can be done if you go too hard or do too much without letting the body rest and recover. In that final stretch, if you're questioning whether you're body is up to such tasks due to fatigue or lack of motivation or whatever, then (as long is you're not just pulling the "lazy card") be willing to be flexible -- shorten the workout, change it or sometimes just bag it all together. You are better off resting rather than fighting through a workout this close to the big day. You also want to rule out any "fear-based" or "panic" training, aka those last-minute crazy workouts done thinking you'll magically gain some fitness; this is something I talked about on a recent post at If you have a coach, perfect. Work with him/her to develop your ideal rest/taper plan even if that means changing something the coach originally laid out. If you're self-coached, then err on the side of caution. Here's how it went for me last week:

Week 7: June 30-July 6 
Weekly volume: 8:00:03
Swim: 1:26, 3x (all ocean)
Bike: 3:31:27, 4x (1 road)
Run: 1:43:08, 4x
Strength: 0
Yoga: 1:20, (1x bikram)
Rest days: 1
Notes: As it turned out for me, two weeks out, I was definitely feeling the need for rest. I think the intensity was catching up (among a few other things), and I planned it it just so happened to work out nicely that this week would be a nice transition into a pseudo taper/rest period leading into Vineman 70.3 this Sunday (which happens to be my 13th half-Ironman; hopefully that number is kind to me... I've never been superstitious, and I'm still not, but breaking my wrists on the 13th day of the month two years in a row? Really? haha).

She just kept filling vials while asking me about triathlons.
 Haha. At least it was a good distraction?

While I didn't feel terrible (overall energy was still good), I could just feel a little bit more of that stinging burn in the legs and signs of fatigue that kept me from having the same snap in workouts as I've seen in the previous ~6 weeks. For the record, I also had a shit-ton of blood taken on Tuesday for my routine bloodwork, and, well, ~10 vials later... I really think that had an lingering negative effect on my workouts until Friday quite honestly. So I just rolled with the vibe... training volume actually looks the same as it's been (or even a bit higher) but more than an hour of that total is from yoga (aka me being flexible, like post title implies, see what I did there?! lol). The remaining ~6.5 hours of training was just going by feel not forcing anything; a little bit of intensity just to stimulate but not fatigue, and some all-easy sessions too. Looking at the big picture, the timing for a nice rest break came at the perfect moment before this Sunday's race.

It wasn't 100 percent R&R this past week though, and I made even more progress with wrist rehab and getting closer to being fully functional again. Among the highlights:

1) Bikram Yoga. Oh how it missed it. Did a class Tuesday for the first time post-fracture, and while that's not really standard triathlon taper stuff especially after being "off" yoga for so long, it's what I wanted to do, so I did it. Loved it. I was able to do all poses (and surprisingly well for my standards) except for locust where you're lying prone with hands also prone on the ground and you use a lot of strength in wrists/arms to help lift lower body/legs. Oh and except toe stand, but I've never been able to that (yet) lol.

Sunday ride view. Surf City USA. Big swell.
2) Ocean swim love. I had three days in a row of super quality ocean swims of about a mile each day give or take, two of those without wetsuits (one with just for practice if race is wetsuit legal). We're having an El Nino summer with water temps consistently over 70 degrees...heaven. Interestingly, I swam roughly the same speed with/without a wetsuit (of course, normally I'm faster with wetsuit). I hadn't been paying attention to temps in The Russian River (Vineman swim course) until Saturday when my athlete emailed me a link to this website. It's kinda interesting to watch trends, but it still means nothing to me as to how it'll be Sunday -- too close to call and I'm expecting either scenario and have practiced accordingly.

3) One last brick... and beer. I actually felt better as the week went on. After some mornings seeing HRV in the 60s on average earyr in the week, by the weekend my HRV was 80s average again. As a result, I gave myself the green light Sunday to do one last "hardish" brick before full rest mode. A 30-mile bike with a good portion at race intensity, and 30min T run. It was good except for the heat/humidity (it's hot!) and me being dumb and only drinking one bottle of water over the course of 2 hours, oops. But after drinking sparkling water, kombucha, green juice... I felt replenished... then, what I really was craving was beer. Question: what is it that makes me crave beer after hot/hard workouts? Not water, not wine, not anything else except beer. I'm still not really drinking beer these days minus the occasional sample or special occasion, and I never ever actually "crave" beer expect for those situations after hard exercise. Hm.
This is a phenomenal beer. Hit the spot. #Deschutes

Looking Back & Looking Forward
So that all said... it seems like I began this journey into minimalist training just a couple days ago. But here we are and I am entering "Week 8/Race Week" in the build-up to Vineman 70.3, a race that wasn't even on my radar until 8 weeks ago and I race a love (it's my fourth time doing this race btw)! In that time, I think I had some phenomenally effective workouts, and on average it's been 7ish hour training weeks (at most 8:27) with super quality sessions. But heck. Taking a drastic leap into lower volume/higher intensity training, with every week being well under 10 hours total, is COMPLETELY UNHEARD OF FOR ME in training for a half-Ironman (and I've done 12 of them). Can I repeat, I have never trained with that low of volume in the eight weeks before a 70.3 (nor any race for that matter). 

In opposition, usually before a 70.3 I'm at 12-15+ hour weeks on the volume train and getting most the work done every damn day whether I feel good or not. At times just hanging on by a thread at times, often more stressed feeling. Don't get me wrong -- the volume has worked for me, and last year I PR'd at both Oceanside 70.3 and Vineman 70.3. But I needed change! Simple!

Anyway I could keep rambling, but bottom line: I am VERY curious to see what happens on race day. It could be a total flop or total success. And ya know what? The "unknown" is thrilling to me. It'll make me a better coach, athlete and person to see how this little change of pace goes.


For the record, I'm also ready to talk about things other than training on here soon, like my other favorite topic... food! We had some good eats over 4th of July weekend like braised short ribs and my favorite easy summer appetizer of watermelon, balsamic glaze and goat cheese.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 23-29: Making Progress

June 23-29:
Weekly volume: 7:16:08
Swim: 2:10, 5x (3 ocean swims)
Bike: 2:24:56, 2x
Run: 1:41:12, 3x
Strength: 1:00, 4x
Rest days: 0 (but, seriously, 2 days were a mere 10-20ish easy minutes)
Notes: I started last week off with recovery/rest, which I felt like I needed. I didn't want to continue on the path of accumulating fatigue without shedding it. Monday was an ocean swim with literally just 10min actual swimming with a client who was resting up for SDIT (and she ended up PRing the course by 5min and top 10 AG against tough competition). Tuesday was also rather easy, but it did include a big highlight of getting through a full mile of swimming without the brace, as well as doing "slow weights" at home throughout the days while I worked. Then, Tuesday night was an "oops" slip up. Summer around here has it's perks, and Tuesday was preview night (aka local's get crazy night) at the annual Sawdust Art Festival. It's an invite-only kind of things, not open to general public. It always ends up being a giant party with copious amounts of wine, live music and dancing, and lots of incredible arts, crafts and clothing to browse and buy on the festival grounds. I wasn't going to drink at all... but then, well... I did. Haha. That said, I think it was staying up late that had more of a negative effect than the drinking. Worth it though.
My late-20s definition of partying: classy art event with my two faves, sister & mom.

But seriously, the art here is my favorite. I want it all. #nofilter
Back to training. Last week was actually pretty significant for several reasons with the wrist rehab and what I'm now able to do:

1) Strength training: I went even "heavier" and did some real lifts in the gym; relatively speaking to what the wrist can handle. Monday I did back squats again with the Olympic bar on my back and could bend my wrist that way to solidly support the weight for 3 sets. Also did some heavier deadlifts, but still less than 100lb. Tried ring rows too with success.

2) Cycling: I had my FIRST road ride in 7+ weeks!!! It felt soooo good to get back on the road again; John and I rode super early Saturday morning, ~30 miles and actually at a rather hard pace because I was ready to see what I could lay down. It felt like I didn't miss a beat, and body performed awesomely. Watts were strong. That said, riding on road made me realize I don't mind the trainer that much. I feel safe on trainer (from crazy drivers) and I get in quality rides that are clearly paying off when I hit the pavement. We had another tragic accident here recently in which a local triathlete was killed by a driver on PCH right near my house on a stretch of road that we've ridden a million times. My heart was torn for his family (he was training for his first Ironman apparently), and even though I didn't know him I feel like all the athletes are "family" to me in some way, ya know? Just so sad.

Exploring Laguna. This reminded me of a wave.
3) Swimming: Exatly 6 weeks after the wrist fracture, almost to the hour, I swam a mile set without the brace in the pool, but after ~1.5k I was feeling like I still wasn't 100 percent strong in the fracture area, and that mile was my max for the day based on feel. But recovery was quick and the next day we swam a mile in the ocean. That actual felt better than the pool, even in choppier water. Times, you ask? Time shmime... least of my concerns right now, folks, lol. I'll be ready to race, but I gotta let go of swim time and just focus on moving forward. I'm just happy I read that Vineman swim WILL happen and the water levels are fine. If it is wetsuit legal I'm going with a sleeveless. Really liking the sleeveless over full-length arm.

....So when you look at those three things, well, that's a pretty solid week on the training front of progress. I ended the week with a hard run Sunday morning that included a little tempo and also 10 X 1:00 intervals of  sub-7:00 pace on flats as well as a few done on short steep hills. I probably should have eaten a bit more prior, but I started early and I didn't want too much right before and risk upsetting my gut. I got hungry though so halfway through I had banana and that saved the effort.

Love is when bacon awaits for you at home.
The highlight (and possibly the most random thing ever) of the run was meeting fellow blogger/triathlete friend Kiet, who I've never met in person but have known for years via social media... you know how that goes. He was staying with friends literally less than a 1/2 mile from where I live, and he recognized me as I ran by (and he was just finishing his run; us triathletes all alike haha). We had a great chat. Made me wish I had a training partner like him around :)

When I got home I was hangry. Ended up doing one of my eggs/avocado/veggie bowls cooked in liberal amounts of butter "on crack" by adding in bacon, more banana, coconut, almonds and cashews. It was this interesting sweet/savory thing that hit the spot. I was a lucky gal, as John had made bacon while I was running and I came home to 4 pieces waiting for me. Done.

Free transportation in summer! We took our 8 y/o guest on some adventures!
Other than that? Work was again busy as heck and I can't even tell you how many hours I spent on the phone/skype for athlete calls, podcasts, etc, but man was it all good stuff. HRV stayed in mid-70s to 80s last week with no big drops. We babysat and I wasn't "too tired" to hand with a soon-to-be 8-year-old. However, I finished Sunday run feeling like I had pushed myself to what I feel is my current "that's enough" threshold for then needing to step back and rest. Little signs clue me off to just chill because I know nothing quality will come of more working out unless the recovery happens. So this Monday (yesterday) was a full day off, and Tuesday (so far) is TBD.


In other news, it's test time! I get blood taken today and am doing a series of three other tests this week. It's been a while, but it's time to get some new results. Bloodwork is getting done via a local naturopath I am starting to work with (she is incredible and finally I've found a doctor who is on the same page as me), and the other three tests are being run via; if you're curious about those tests you can see them here. It's so great to be able to do these few tests remotely from the comfort of home -- saves so much time and still getting amazing testing done! More details to come on that and some exciting news on how I'll be sharing some of my results.

Last but not least, treats:

New quick snack: dipping cheese in goat yogurt! Amazing. Try it.

More wine. Arguably not as healthy as the snack above, but just as delicious so I had to share. A great red blend from one of our favorite wineries in Paso Robles, Dark Star. If you ever get a chance, pick one up, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Week In Review: June 16-22, 2014

June 16-22
Weekly volume: 8:27:43
Swim- 1:15, 3x
Bike- 3:57:05, 4x
Run- 2:10:38, 6x
Strength- 1:05, 2x
Full rest days: 0

Notes: Believe it or not, this was my biggest week in a while. And the best part is -- nothing was forced. My goals were just to be consistent, and do sessions as long as I felt good (didn't have to feel great but I refused to do a workout if I was at all questioning whether it was a smart idea). In the process, end outcomes were not even on my mind. Most workouts I started not even really knowing what I'd end up doing until I gauged how I felt and went with it. Only a couple times did I have definite goals such as my Sunday bike that included 2X25min or so worth of time spent at ~160-190 watts (aka tempo watts).

One interesting finding: I started the week on Monday with an oddly low HRV of 63 average upon waking, which is weird because Sunday was a really mellow, restful day spent with our dads for Father's Day. So that said, I can mostly attribute that low HRV to being stressed over the ginormous workload I had waiting for me (and man I worked some long days last week coming off the East Coast trip).

But then fast-forward through the week, and by the weekend HRV was getting back to the 80s. Guess I was recovering well even with daily workouts :)

Ya know what else was nice? I worked my BUTT off during the week, but by weekend I had earned some free time. I'm making a strong effort in all this to allot more time and energy to doing enjoyable things outside of s/b/r. I love s/b/r and I geek out on triathlon daily (truuuust me), but I'm at a point in my training/active life where all triathlon all the time ain't healthy (and you can make that case with any sport -- Michael Jordan understood this).

So, for example, Sunday morning I did a tough bike/t-run but still all under 2 hours total. During that workout, I noticed something: I started that bike (on trainer) giggling so hard at so many random things and was just in such a good mood.... hm. That, compared with days where I've started bikes just feeling grumpy. Got through the workout and it was hard, but over relatively fast. I'll be honest the run wasn't as great as I'd hoped for but I just went with the it. I then had time to enjoy an afternoon with my sister, her boyfriend, John and friends on the beach (complete with snorkeling) then later on watching the USA v. Portugal World Cup game with John literally just gelling out on the couch enjoying a kombucha beer. Later on we cruised around on beach cruisers for fun... it was perfect and just what I wanted. (As an aside I've pretty much been glued to my desk since then but it's all good if I can have days like that :))

Here's a Strength Workout I did.

Extensive warmup
dowel exercises, mobility, light jogging, etc as well as:
3 X 15 ea. lateral band walks and 15 band pullaparts
2 X 10 ea. birddogs, 20 bridges, 10 SL bridges, 10 ea. side legs lifts.

Main Set
Part 1. 
4 rounds:
20 walking lunges with weight (DBs each hand)
5 box jumps
abmats of 20, 25, 30, 35 reps - fast/hard effort
Part 2. 
3 rounds:
20 deadlifts (with Oly bar)
15 ea. core rotations with med ball
30" plank with scap pushups

As you can see from that workout, the wrist was really doing well (I was wearing brace). In fact I did a SUP sessions on Sunday and on Monday my wrist felt the best it had since before the fracture! I took that as a cue that's it's clearly time to get moving again and work on increasing mobility, strength and function. So, again, on that strength workout I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could handle holding 15+lb DBs for the walking lunges, as well as the 45lb bar for DLs. 

As the week went on I was weaning myself off the brace even more and I think as of the weekend I pretty much have been without the wrist brace, feeling stronger and more mobile every day. I don't even know where it is right now as I type this... I think in my car? lol.

Anyway here's an example of going with the flow, notes straight from TP from a Wednesday ride:

"I was thinking originally this would just be a Z1-Z2ish sorta morning spin. I was reading questions for podcast and also a review article for another podcast during the beginning to maximize time. But even with that watts and HR increased nicely and easily without trouble. Very soon watts in 130-140s. Then easily into150s. And legs were NOT rejecting the effort! Whoa!

Felt like power was there so did a 15min solid tempo of 170w avg, peaking at ~190watts at times.

Easily could have done more but had to get on podcast and knew I'd be riding Thursday with client so no sweat.

Did not drink water during. Lost 1lb. 130 to 129. Temperature was normal not cold or hot (it was 6:30am when started)"


That said, not every workout is this magical effort, and I don't always feel amazing. Later that same day after bike with notes you see posted above, I got out the door for a lovely little evening run and didn't feel like superwoman:
"just a shakeout to be consistent with running. sadly legs did not feel that great, but what can i expect after the bike then sitting all day with 3hr of podcast recordings,  2hr combined of followup chats, and then training new intern for 3hr. wore compression during all that btw.

Just went easy on run, later saw after that pace was actually good at times like low 8's. not pushing hard at all."

Alright gotta jet... thanks for keeping up with my training and journey. Less than 3 weeks till Vineman woo hoooo!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Minimalist Training So Far, Workout Details Included

I have a few blogs in the works right now, but this one's most timely. In effort to be transparent with my altered "less than traditional" training approach leading into Vineman, I want to keep this blog up to date with what I'm doing, how I'm feeling, etc.

I won't lie, a couple times I've found myself a tad nervous about ditching the bigger "more traditional" volume and what that will mean come race day in terms of performance. But then those fears completely go away nearly every time I do a workout or I take a step back and see how I'm doing overall. Why? Because for the most part I feel phenomenal and on top of my game. I also am not holding myself to any strict schedule, I am not using heart rate at all (only power on bike and GPS), and I'm allowing myself the freedom to train how my body feels. I have loose overall goals I want to hit each week and certain intnesities I want to reach, but I just let it come and it's not foreced. Mentally this is really good stuff for me, and it's showing with the physical performances.

Here are 5 positives I've noticed so far since the shift in training:
1) Recovery between workouts is better than ever;
2) ...As a result workouts are QUALITY, and I'm feeling awesome 9 outta 10 times;
2) Drastic improvement in overall energy and mood;
3) Work productivity and mental focus are consistently solid;
4) Lower stress and namely I'm not sweating the small things. (Like if I can't train on a Sunday because we have family obligations or whatever, I don't stress out about missing a long ride. Quality of life improving...)
5) My body is adapting well. My muscles aren't as tight and locked up, and I've even put on lean muscle mass already! (Had a massage this week for first time in a while, and my massage therapist was like," whoa what's goin on?! You're not your typical tight and tense self.")

As for the negatives I've noticed? None. So far. That said, sometimes I miss those long weekend rides with my peeps, but it's not like I will purposely deny myself those workouts that I find fun and rewarding; currently I just haven't been able to ride long outside due to the wrist fracture. Eventually I'll still do group rides when the time is right and if I feel like it, but just not force it. Same with long runs. I love running long in the trails, and if the moment comes where that sounds fun, I'm in!
Speaking of fun... here we are playing around with the GoPro in Chesapeake Bay!

Ok so check it out...

Training Log
We're backing up a bit and I'm starting 8 weeks out from Vineman 70.3 (because that's sort of the timeframe for training that matters). Reminder: Broke the wrist on May 13.

May 19-25
Weekly volume: 7:23:58 
Breakdown of volume:

Swim- 10:00, first post-fracture swim attempt in ocean. Didn't go that great.
Bike- 3:06, 4 trainer sessions
Run- 2:22:58, 4 runs total
Strength- 1:45, 2 sessions
Full rest days: 0

Notes: This was the week after breaking wrist, and I was ready to start some light workouts again. My body did not feel that great overall yet, as I was only ~2 weeks out from some pretty gnarly training/racing that had me feeling depleted, rundown and overtrained. So that said, this is the week in which I first made a conscious effort to change my training style, decreasing volume to begin with. Then once the body felt better I'd slowly add in some intensity. But all my runs this week were easy, and bikes were easy up until Sunday when I felt ok and did this workout:

Bike trainer 1hr, with 4 X ~8:00 strength sets
15' spin + 5 X 30" SL drill (in aero)
Main Set
5 X 1:00 sprints/high cadence on 1:00 easy. 
Goal watts 200-250w.
~2' spin
10' @ ~70.3 race watts, 160-190w.
~2' spin
~2' spin
5 X 1:00 ME some out of saddle while in aero, goal watts 200-280+.
on 1:00 recovery.
spin until 1hr total.

May 26-June 1
Weekly volume: 7:00:19
Swim- 40:00, 2 ocean swims
Bike- 2:50, 3 trainer sessions
Run- 2:30:00, 3 runs total
Strength- 1:00, 2 sessions
Full rest days: 1

Notes: This was the first week when I started feeling GOOD again! Body was feeling fresh and a couple runs I was going sub-7:00 pace (one was a spur-of-moment progression run with John that went from MAF to tempo to threshold; the other was an hour run that had 6 X 1:00 max sprints). My weekend trainer session also had 10 X 1:00 max sprints on 1:00 recovery, and I was hitting 270+w, felt great (FTP is low 200s). I also had two great ocean swims, and thoughts that I could do Eagleman at one point. This week I also started ramping up strength training again within limits of wrist; here's a workout:

Strength session:
10min functional movement
Set 1
20 ea side, split squat jumps with 30" lunge hold
60sec battle ropes or shoulder/band work (my partner did ropes, I did band)
Set 2
Tabata (20sec on / 10 sec rest)
2 rounds of 4 sets each:

jump rope (doable for me!)
band pullaparts
box jumps (7 ea round = 56 total)
bridge/ham curl on ball
plank variations on stability ball

June 2-8 (Travel began June 5)
Weekly volume: 4:40:36
Swim- 32:00, 2 swims both in ocean (Pacific & Atlantic!)
Bike- 1:30, 2 trainer sessions (West Coast & East Coast!)
Run- 1:48:36, 4 runs total
Strength- 1:00, 2 sessions
Full rest days: 1

A glance inside my luggage essentials.
Notes: We flew to East Coast Thursday of this week; that morning I woke up super early and at least got in
about 20-30min running in pitch dark before flight out of LAX. Running before travel is the best. Lived in my 110% Play Harder Compression a lot during travel. Sunday was Eagleman; during race I ran on and off the whole time about 5 miles total and walked/stood around a ton. My training was limited this week with the travel and what I could do but I managed and did NOT stress it. Actually, I was able to borrow John's bike while in Maryland and used my client's trainer where we were staying to get in a bike/strength workout! Also of note was that I saw my HRV get back into high 80s upon waking (great for me).

Run with the boys to assess the land in Cambridge. Yup, it's flat.

Little road trip into Delaware to hit up one of my fave breweries. #dogfishhead

June 9-15 (DC Trip Monday until Thursday night; red eye home)
Weekly volume: 5:53:36
Swim- 50:00, 2 swims back in pool
Bike- 2:00, 2 trainer sessions
Run- 2:18:36, 3 runs total
Strength- 0:40, 1 sessions (2.5 miles SUP)
Full rest days: 1 technically, but that day included 5-6+(?) miles walking DC.

Notes: Again, training was limited because it was not the priority this week. Having a fun vacation with John was the priority. Monday we drove from Cambridge to DC and stayed there until leaving Thursday night. I only ran Mon-Thu, and our Tue/Thus runs we did "tourist style" in which we'd run to monuments and famous landmarks (kill 2 birds with one stone!). I did not stress the lack of training, especially with all the walking we were doing; each day at least 5-6 miles walking -- endurance training in itself! Once we were home I got back to swimming and biking. Swam in pool for first time since break, and attempted a few sets of 100s without the brace, with success. My bike fitness felt ok even with having only had 1 bike in 8 days while traveling.Sunday instead of a swim, bike or run I did some endurance SUP mostly because we were celebrating Father's Day the beach. Later that evening bowled with John's family, lol.

Run - tempo + strides
5.1 miles/40min
Here's an example of not knowing what to expect upon starting, then feeling good and going for it and making the most of it. This run was a blast! Day after EM, last morning in Cambridge, legs felt great!!
Dynamic non-run exercises, plus 1 mile easy running.
4 miles tempo (all sub-8:00 pace) AND during that including 1:00 strides done fartlek style.
1:00 easy jog, then walked it out to finish.

Picture taking during that run workout posted above.
Can I just say I love my new Katalyst top by 110% Play Harder?!
I wore it - black!! - in hot and humid Cambridge and it was cool,
comfortable and functional during this tough run!
Check them out here:
Use my code 110CoachTawnee for 10% and free shipping.

Bike trainer workout
1:15 total
~15 min spin, building effort.
Main set
Set 1:
6 X 1:00 hard/reaching max effort and big watts (110-150% FTP) on 1:00 recovery. Extra 2-3' recovery after the last one.
6 X 20" standing in hard gear/low cadence on 40" recovery. Extra 5' recovery after the last one.
Set 2:
Intervals of 8'-6'-4'-2' at high Z3/low Z4 watts (~80-95% FTP) on 2' recovery after each.
Easy spin to finish

Sight-seeing and running. Maximizing time!

June 16-22
Weekly volume: TBD
Swim- XX
Bike- XX
Run- XX
Strength- XX
Full rest days: XX

Notes: Week in progress. So far so good :)


If you know me and have read this blog for a long time you know I've spent year training and essentially building a solid base and foundation. So, I've gone into this new training phase comfortably knowing I have that base backing me. That said, this training approach is not something I'd advise for just anyone, especially someone newer to endurance sport. As I wrote recently on, developing endurance fitness takes time and there's no way around that (the other theme of that post is: if you hire a coach, give that coach time to develop you).

So with my current training, I'm NOT trying to find shortcuts, I'm trying to find my way out of a rut that I've put myself in a lot in recent years. It's really just an experiment and I'm making no promises or guarantees on how it'll manifest on race day at the half-iron distance.


Wrist Progress Report
It's doing well. I'm not sure if my healing is "normal", better or worse at this point but I feel like I'm on the right track. Tuesday, June 17 marked 5 weeks since the injury. As of last week, I found that I am now very functional without the brace and am comfortable without it on in safe situations. I have even done a couple runs and trainer sessions without it. When I'm home I have it off a lot more and sometimes I forget it's broken/healing. I can put pressure on it but only in certain positions; hard to explain without showing what I mean. I still swim with the brace on for 80-90% of the sessions, but I did attempt (successfully) a few hundred yards here and there without the brace this past week!

The only "bad side" I still see with the wrist healing is that it's 1) still swollen quite noticeably when compared with the right, and 2) very stiff especially flexion. I do need to get in and see and OT/hand therapist just to get evaluated on progress.