Monday, July 19, 2010

Ironman training update

It's been 5 weeks, I think, that I have been training in Hunt Valley, MD. I'm losing track of time.

The days just sort of run together. Each evening I check what my training plan is for the next day. Then I check the weather. I also consider my energy level and sync it with my training plan. I'm going to get it all done, but I need to figure where I will need the most energy and what will be the easiest or toughest part of my day. I consider my cycling sessions the most important. Swimming is the most fun, and my runs are on a beautiful Rails to Trails path that is mostly shaded.

The volume is picking up but is not an issue yet. Cycling the hills is the biggest challenge. That is where I need the most energy. If I'm a little bit fresh I can climb some of the easier hills a little better now. But the steep and long hills are still giving me problems.
One of the things I am learning as I ride my bike each day is where and when to shift. The trouble comes when I am in my easiest gear and not anywhere near the top.
I've been employing some simple mantras on some of these challenging hills. I say to myself, "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay". My breathing is so heavy at these times I start to feel anxious. I'm trying to accept the slower cadence and harder effort.

I think I have made a discovery about myself. I don't like the slower cadence and the slower pace so I spin up the hill in an easy gear. If it's a tough hill it won't really be spinning. I'm still pushing hard on the pedals and I'm moving very slow. But there is a 'sweet spot' as my coach says where my effort is just about right for the challenge. If I'm in too easy a gear, it actually takes more energy than if I have some resistance. I'm learning to feel for that sweet spot.

We are only here for two more weeks, so I feel the need to focus hard on every single ride to get the most out of my opportunity here. When I get home there are no hills and I will be focusing on distance and time.

Swimming I love the most. We swim in Meadowbrook pool, possibly the best pool on the East coast. That's not to say the swimming is not hard work, but I love the challenge. There is an indoor and an outdoor 50 m pool. It is bulkheaded into several 25 yd lanes plus still several 50 m lanes.
Meadowbrook is a huge facility. They sponsor a great swim team (North Baltimore Swim team) with all levels of hopefuls, a summer swim camp for young kids and open areas for people who just want to have fun in the water and always open lanes for members. I can always find a lane to get in my swim workouts. One of the things I love about Meadowbrook is the number of Seniors that are good swimmers and swim regularly. Everyone I have met has been extremely friendly. I'm considering moving to Maryland just so I can swim at Meadowbrook. :)

I have done a couple 4 hr bike rides, 2000 m swims are the norm and I have to talk to myself and focus lot on the 1.5 hr runs.
I know how important all this is right now. It will increase considerably so like going to school, it's important to learn this years material because next year you will build on what you already know... assuming you know it.
Today has been a rest day. I have learned to rest on rest day. I can't do the work next week if I don't take a break one day a week.
So until next time...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ironman training

I did another two hr ride today with three hill repeats.

It wasn't as hot today but I'm being extremely careful to stay hydrated. Since the hills are so difficult for me I sure don't need my strength jeopardized by being dehydrated. I think I did pretty good today. That's not a statement of great improvement but just maybe I'm getting a little accustomed to the effort required.
There is one hill I still cannot ride all the way to the top. It is brutal. Not only is it steep, it is long. Just when I think I can make it, I crap out and have to stop. I am breathing so hard, I'm sure I am at my Max heart rate.

Yesterday, while I was resting halfway up this hill, a young women, sort of plump, came by on her bike, so easily, just riding along. I'm busting my butt and she looked like it wasn't tough at all.

I did the three hill repeats up a hill called Ivy Hill. It goes straight up into a residential area. It doesn't look like much at first but then it gets really steep. I start out going pretty fast and barely make to the top at a crawl. When I reach the top, I stop as quickly as I can with what little strength I have left and breathe! It's takes me a couple minutes before I can ride back down the hill and do it again. I hope to be able to conquer this hill and move on to a more difficult one before long.
One of the things that would help me a lot is to weigh less. I'm working on it.

Later this afternoon, I did a 2100 m. swim. I thought I might be tired but I did well. I worked hard for all of it. After a warm-up and some drills, I did 6 X 200 pull. I pull using the freestyle and with rubber tubing tied around my ankles so that I cannot kick. I love doing this. It forces me to maintain a strong, steady stroke. I think my shoulders are getting stronger

Tomorrow, an easy day.

Talk at ya later.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ironman training

For the benefit of my friends that want to follow my training progress, I have decided to keep a 'sometimes log' for their entertainment. :)

Today I had a 2 hr bike ride scheduled and a 30 in run. My husband, Stan, and I are here in Hunt Valley, MD so that I can get some hill work. Where we live in Tex on the Gulf coast it is very flat so I need some hill practice. Obviously, climbing hills on a bicycle is not one of my strong suits. I
I have been coming here for several years for hill training so I am familiar with some of the roads near our Condo.

There are no easy or moderate hills here. I just jump right in and attack the hard hills. Needless to say, I am struggling. Some hills that look easy are not, some that look really steep turn out to be not too big a deal. And some I have to walk. I'm trying to get strong enough to eliminate the walking. Climbing a hard hill leaves me breathless. My heart rate is near it's max and I am gasping for breath. When I recover I go at it again. Sometimes I have to stop and rest.My HR returns to something resembling normal and I go on. Sometimes I am afraid I will not make it up the hill before I crash. If the wheels aren't turning around, the bike will fall over!:) The thought terrifies me.
But flying down the hill is a lot of fun. I frequently come down hills at 28-32 mph. I really have to focus when going that fast. The other day a deer ran across the road in front of me when I was going about 28 mph. Also, it is very wooded in some areas. The trees cast deep shadows on the road and it is hard to tell the shadows from a pothole or large crack.

I consider a 2 hr ride a moderate ride, but the hills make it tougher. There are no flat spots. So I am either going up at a crawl or flying down, switching gears constantly.

It's been pretty hot lately, in the 100's. Hydrating is crucial. The least little bit of dehydration will affect my ability to ride hard. I'm not real good at getting a drink when I'm climbing or when I'm going downhill so I need to practice that.

Today's ride was tough but I may be getting a little better.

Also planned was a 30 min run on the NCR trail(a rails to trails path) popular with cyclists and runners near our Condo. It was over 100 deg. when I finished my bike ride so I figured to do the run later when it cooled off. It never got cool enough to make a difference so I ran the 30 min in 100+ temp.
I'm a little tired tonight but I'm okay.

Tomorrow another 2 hr bike with hill repeats( riding up a steep hill several times) and a swim.
I will fill you in on the details tomorrow.