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train, tri life

Remembering to just.breathe.

This is hard.

Peak week is what makes you realize why you do an Ironman.  You work hard all year long and then there are a few weeks out of the year that REALLY test your limits; The big weeks show you what you are made of. When you think you can’t go any faster or any longer, you surprise yourself. You learn what you are capable of during peak week and most of all, you realize that you are READY.  Throughout the process, doubts are completely normal…. I have doubts all the time.  Sure, I am more confident than I was a year ago with this sport, but I’m still very nervous about race day.  Nerves are the body’s way of telling us that we are ready.

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We all know that triathlon is comprised of three sports , swim bike and run, but we often forget about the mental component, until it’s getting close to race day.  Before getting close to the start line, it’s easy to just get into a rhythm, a routine, sometimes forgetting what you are even working towards.  All year long I swim/bike/run so much, that it just becomes a part of my life, it basically is my life.  While doing all of this training, the BIG EVENT seems SO far away, almost like it will never get here.  Then all of a sudden you blink and it’s peak week …. less than four weeks before your Ironman. And it hits you like a ton of bricks.  You start to remember all of the feelings from the year before, you get flashbacks from race day that you had forgotten about… on top of all of this, it can bring on stress, for sure.

Like a lot people in this sport, I am ‘type A’ and have high expectations for myself.  Sure, I’m not a professional, but I train like one.  I take my training seriously and I plan to have a personal best.  I put pressure on myself to do well, and I don’t want to let myself down.  All of the TIME I put into this sport, I obviously want to do the best I can on race day.  It’s that pressure to not fail, to not disappoint that becomes even more stressful during peak training week.  I’m not racing IMMT just to finish, I have bigger dreams.

Over these next 3+ weeks, I need to remember to just breathe, to trust my training and the process. I must toss away those doubts in my head and remember the amazing progress I have made since last year and savor it.  To be honest, I’m sad already thinking about the race being over!

Breathe.

Just breathe.

train, tri life

it’s crunch time.

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Well…. it’s almost here.

Hard to believe but I’ll be racing my second Ironman in less than four weeks now.

Time is flying by…. add in Ironman training into the mix and time goes by REALLY fast.

Thought I would do a little training update today, since it’s PEAK training time right now and my volume is picking up!

SWIM

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Doing a lot of open water swimming these days! Last week I did my first hour long swim in a long time.  This week I have two hour long swims, with intervals.  Getting used to my wetsuit and being in the open water for a long period of time.  I also had a great swim a few weeks ago at the Mass State Triathlon, where I swam a 1:32 pace for (0.9 miles).  I actually swam 1600 yards according to my Garmin (clearly going off course, ha), and that equals 1:31 pace for that distance. Last year at IMMT my pace was 1:37/100 yards.  This year I would love to be able to swim a 1:35 pace or faster.

BIKE

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One word: STRONG.  I am hands down a different cyclist than I was one year ago.  To think I used to dread biking, that is just plain crazy! One thing that has made a HUGE difference this year is riding with others/teammates.  Training for IMMT a year ago, I was alone, all the time. I never rode with a single person. Now that I ride with friends, I literally can’t imagine riding alone.  Funny how things have changed (for the better!) Also, VOLUME and POWER are in a different place than they were a year ago.  My volume of riding is higher, as well as the intensity. Last year I mostly rode at Z1 – Z2 on the bike, this year has brought on hard intervals and hill repeats.  For example, I attend a hill repeat session with my team every Tuesday, where I do repeats on a STEEP hill for an hour. I have also been on at least five 100+ mile rides this year, when last year I only did ONE 100 mile ride. Not to mention, the 100 milers have been in New Hampshire and Vermont where the hills are out of control.  I have a feeling the IMMT bike course will seem easy in comparison.. but that’s the point, right? Training should always be harder than your race day!

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I even returned to Vermont this past weekend to do my longest ride yet, 111 miles with 8,000 + feet elevation gain

RUN

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Lately it’s been lots of short transition runs after bike rides and long runs on Sunday’s. During the week I attend a track session with my coach & team for an hour (lung burner!). Other runs during the week tend to be 30-40 minutes in length, all done at an easy-moderate pace.  I’m running frequently and easy (besides track), and it seems to be working. My long runs on Sunday’s tend to have easy pace mixed in with moderate- hard pace segments.  For example, this past Sunday I did a BRUTAL 14 miler in Killington, VT… lots of hills and no shade!! This weekend I have a 16 miler. Legs have been feeling strong and fast. The only thing that’s slowing me down is the damn HEAT around here. It’s been so hot and humid! I try not to get frustrated about the heat, but it’s annoying when I can’t go faster than an 8:00 min/mile because  my body feels like it’s on fire…

RACING

My most recent race was the Mass State Olympic Tri a few weeks ago! Max Performance puts on fantastic races every year in the Boston area. One of the most popular (and competitive) is the Mass State Tri.  It was a .9 mile swim, 22 mile bike and 6.2 mile run. I PR’d from last years time and had a personal best swim and bike on that course.  Since it was really hot, my run time was slower than I would have liked, but that’s ok!

I won my Age Group and was the 5th Overall Female (placed higher than some of the elite women!)

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LIFE

Enjoying summer through IM training.  My entire summer (just like last year) has been  consumed by training.  I’m not complaining though,  I LOVE this life.  This sport went from being my hobby years ago, to now being my lifestyle.  I have no regrets and I plan to compete as long as my body allows.  It feels good knowing that I have founds something I love and it makes me happy!

26 DAYS

I’m counting down to IMMT, but in a way, I don’t want it to be over! Bib numbers and swim waves have been posted already and this sh*t is getting real. I’m SO READY. Can’t wait!!!

life, train, tri

Vermont Training Camp 2015 RECAP (and lots of pretty pictures)

First of all, I have been slacking on the blog posting train.  Sometimes life gets in the way, and that’s okay…. finally I’m back!

Today I’m finally talking about my training camp in VERMONT a few weeks ago, that totally changed me as a cyclist!

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Location:

Camp was located a three hours drive  north of my home in Mass to Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vermont.  The thing that’s really cool about living in New England (and something I take for granted) is that you can be in a different state, with completely different landscapes within a few hours drive. I am very lucky to have both the ocean and the mountains right at my disposal. I have never really spent a lot of time in VT, so I was happy to get the chance to spend a weekend up there. I was reminded of why it’s called the ‘Green Mountain State’…. all I could see for hundreds of miles was green:)

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Each of our bike rides passed through the Green Mountain National Forest (just gorgeous). We rode by several farms, cattle pastures, maple syrup stands, country homes… it was quintessential Vermont. It’s hard to put into words, or even into photos what I experienced during my hundreds of miles of riding in VT. You really have to go there to experience it for yourself! Oh and I should mention there are HILLS, LOTS of HILLS. Hills so steep I couldn’t believe it! If you want hill training for an Ironman, go to Vermont, your power meter will thank you. 

Weekend Totals:

288 miles biked with 25,000 Feet total elevation gain.

Some hilly running miles

& 5,000 yards of swimming

 

Day 1: Thursday

103 Mile Ride

App Gap, Middlebury Gap

10 Minute Recovery Run

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Day 2: Friday

Swim 3,000 yards

Bike 85 Miles

Brandon Gap

Run 30 minutes

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Day 3: Saturday

Swim 2,000 yards

Bike 100 miles

App Gap,  Brandon Gap, Rochester Gap

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Day 4: Sunday

Rainy Day gym workout with plyos!

The crew:

I was joined at training camp by Coach Jorge and some of my Age Group Elite Teammates i.e. fast cyclists, swimmers and runners. This group included the speedy Czech Chick AKA my friend Jana, who I tried to keep up with all weekend! There were about 6-8 of us on any given day, a great mix of people!

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Agenda:

Each day started with a swim in the beautiful outdoor pool at Sugarbush.

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Next up after swimming, a big breakfast (all the pancakes!) and then time to digest while getting our bikes ready to go. Digested or not (ha) it was time to ride for 5-6 (hilly) hours followed by a run.

After our long bike ride, we were all exhausted and it was time to eat ALL THE FOOD before hanging out and relaxing before bed. There were lots of laughs plenty of team bonding. I LOVED training camp!!

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Training camp in Vermont made me not only fall love with biking but understand biking more than ever before.

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What I learned at camp:

Spinning my wheels like a hummingbird (cadence 95-100 RPM), is NOT the most efficient way to cycle.  Still working on this, but getting closer. Most of my rides were dialed in at 85-90 RPMs.

Cornering while going down hill is still scary, but I learned better technique. Clenching my breaks and upper body only makes it less safe.  During camp I got to practice being more relaxed going downhill and cornering.  One of the tips I learned was not to break on the corner, but just before, and most importantly, to relax the body as much as possible.

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I realized that I wasn’t working hard enough (before) attending camp.  I wasn’t feeling that burn in my quads, I was just ‘comfortably’ riding.  “So this is supposed to be uncomfortable?’ Similar to running, riding your bike isn’t supposed to be pleasant all the time.  It might burn and it might hurt, but this is what will make you stronger. It may have taken 5 years to realize this, but now I GET IT.  In order to get better at cycling, I need to make it hurt a little. Oh and did camp make it hurt!

In order to keep up with the strong cyclists at training camp, I was going to need to put out more power and work harder.  The thing is, before camp I was scared to push on the bike. Perhaps it’s because I had a knee surgery four years ago and my brain is still being ‘cautious’ with pushing on the pedals.  I think in my mind I was always scared of getting injured, so I didn’t want to push too hard. Also, coming from a running background, I wasn’t sure how to bike and I was never coached for it, until now. Riding with your coach and teammates is something you can’t put a value on.

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I’m actually a fast cyclist. I got to camp last Thursday thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with my teammates. These were people I had rode with on the weekends and often got separated by about five minutes.  I would start with the group and they would lose me.  I thought the weekend of training would be the group riding together and me all by myself.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was not only able to keep up, but I was very strong going up the BIG Vermont hills… HUGE confidence booster!

I gained confidence. This was definitely the most important takeaway from camp.  Practice makes perfect and I think to think I’m well on my way to a successful Ironman one month from this Thursday!

Have you ever participated in a training camp? Would love to hear about it!

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train, tri

InsideTracker & Ironman Training: Take Two!

To perform at your best, it’s not always about the outside. I can swim, bike and run like it’s my job, but that does not mean I’m going to kick ass at any race.  What I do know is, when you start to pay attention to your inside, amazing things can happen on the outside, and I’m not just talking about appearance, I’m talking about performance.

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I used to think I was doing everything perfectly.  Key words: USED TO. I was training a lot, but still finding time to stretch and get massages… I was eating SUPER healthy eating all ‘real food’ for the most part and I was avoiding processed foods at all costs.  This must be enough, this is the recipe for the podium at every triathlon.  I was convinced (blame it on the triathlete ego) that my first test results were going to come back totally perfect.  I mean heck, whenever I go to my primary care physician, my blood work is always normal.

Well my first test results were anything but normal:

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The most shocking was my high cortisol. I was on a mission to figure out this sneaky cortisol and understand what was making my levels SUPER high.  Honestly, before the test, I didn’t even really know what cortisol was and how it could affect my performance.

After reading this blog post from InsideTracker about cortisol, I couldn’t help but relate to two things….

Lack of sleep + excessive self-criticism lead to ^ cortisol . Go Figure. Holy sh*t , That’s me.

While I knew I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I didn’t think it was that BIG of a deal. I guess you could call me naive about the amount of sleep I was getting.  No matter what, I was forcing myself to get up at 4:45/5:00 AM to do my workouts.  I wanted to maximize the time at night, after work, so I could decompress before bed.  Well in effort to have extra time in the evenings, I was increasing my cortisol, ugh.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked sources of chronic stress is excessive self-criticism and a lack self-compassion

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Reason #2 Why my cortisol was probably elevated: self-criticism.

Research has shown that perfectionism- a personality style that is commonly characterized by striving for flawlessness and tendencies toward self-criticalness- is linked to a variety of mental ailments such as depression, anxiety disorders, etc. 

Like most people, I am the most critical of myself and this can be unhealthy. While self-confidence with me is always a work in progress, the high cortisol results made me realize that all of my negative self thinking might be affecting my health and triathlon performance.  This is not something that you can change overnight, but I have been working at it! Looking on the brightside:)

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train, tri life

my first-ever team training weekend!

If you have been following my blog for a little while now, you know that before this year, I mostly trained alone.  One of my 2015 goals was to be more of a ‘social athlete.’

Fast forward to now, I have joined team of amazing people and I couldn’t be happier with this decision.  The only regret I have is that I didn’t join this team sooner. Now that I have started to train with others, I’m looking back and wondering how I ever trained all alone.

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Some of my E3 Teammates!

I knew that in order to make some big gains this year, especially on the bike, I was going to need to start riding with people who are faster than me.  Sure you can get fast on  your own, but it also helps to have others challenge you and help you get out of your comfort zone.

To be honest, until this year, I was scared to ride with others. Scared to be the slow one, scared that my bike handling skills sucked too much to ride with others, scared of being dead weight in a pace line. So all last season, I trained alone on the bike 100% of the time. My four, five, six hour + bike rides ALL alone. While it is nice to ride alone at times, 4-6 hours is a lot of time to spend in your own head:)

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E3 Training Weekend was not only a blast, but it forced me to get out of my comfort zone.  I really enjoyed my first ever triathlon team training weekend!

For three days, I swam, biked (a TON) and ran in beautiful Waterville Valley New Hampshire. Honestly, if I could think of the perfect location to train for Ironman Mont-Tremblant, this would be it! The terrain is crazy similar to the terrain in Tremblant, lots of hills, country roads and mountain views:)

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