Going to the vet

I think I now understand why our family cat, Bobby, always shook uncontrollably when we took him to the vet.

Today I had another deep tissue massage. My massage therapist, Lisa, is incredible and truly deserves a strong margarita after our session today! In fact, two, I think. I needed 3 or 4... except that I had to go back to work. Next time I need to schedule this massage on a Friday afternoon before happy hour!

I seriously can not remember ever feeling so much pain before. Maybe when I dis-located my knee about 18 years ago, but that's so long ago I can't remember how much it hurt. If giving birth hurts this much then that is something I will not be signing up for in a hurry!

I really thought that Lisa was scraping searing hot, sharp knives through my muscles. I was sweating and gasping and gripping the sides of the massage table. A few words of profanity were uttered, under my breath of course. I swear I have two or three new wrinkles in my forehead from all the time my face was scrunched up in agony! By the time she'd finished working on my hamstrings and right calf and foot I was literally shaking from head to toe and utterly exhausted. I can only imagine how she must have felt trying to hold me down and work out all of this scar tissue in my muscles! Anyway, it was the whole body shaking that made me think of my cat Bobby and how he would always do this when we took him to the vet. That analogy made us both laugh.

It was oh so painful but oh so needed. Apparently this Ironman training thing is not good for keeping soft, supple muscles. Instead they become hard, rigid and full of scar tissue, unless you are an absolute angel and stretch twice a day and get weekly massages. (No angel on this blog).

I'm going back on Friday.


Saturday afternoon with Gordon

Saturday morning Gordon and I ran 17 miles in warmer than usual weather. We were both pretty wiped out after the run. But instead of lazing around at home Saturday afternoon (like we I really wanted to do) instead I got dressed up in my new party dress and we went to Laguna Gloria to take some photos.

I volunteered to run across the grass, spin around and smile for the camera. It was so much fun! The weather was gorgeous, I surprisingly didn't hurt too much (I think the running/spinning actually helped!), and it was just fun to spend time with Gordon. He also took some close-up shots which I'll post when they're ready. I love the Nike Frees touch :) and my feet felt so good!

Afterwards we strolled through the adjacent Mayfied Park and looked at the peacocks and just chatted and hung out. It was the most lovely afternoon, fantastic company, and just so peaceful wandering around the gardens.

IMAZ Week 17: I feel good

17 weeks down, 7 weeks to go. 5 weeks until taper starts!

The week started out a little sore. My right foot (arch and metatarsals) were feeling pretty tender. In fact, it was sore just walking around on Monday, which of course caused me to stress out and fear that I would never be able to run again! So I took it easy on the running this week and made sure to ice my foot regularly and focus a bit more on swimming. This week I actually got three swim workouts in, which I was stoked about. I swam with T3 twice and also went to Deep Eddy and swam with my wetsuit (and felt awesome).

The long run Saturday morning was tough. It was a good 20 degrees (F) warmer than it was for our long run last weekend and that made a huge difference. I also ran the first 10 miles a little too fast, but sometimes it's good to push myself! So the last 7 miles were a bit of a slog-fest. I felt de-hydrated, my legs were heavy and sore, and I resorted to a few 30s walk breaks in the last couple of miles. It was a tough run. The good news was that my arch and metatarsals weren't bothering me - I could notice a bit of tightness there during the run but it never hurt and it didn't get any worse during the run. I was just pleased that I gutted it out and finished the run, because I really wanted to stop after 10 miles this week! Post-run breakfast tacos and smoothie were delicious and helped to revive me!

Sunday I was really not wanting to ride. Another 6am wake-up call to get ready and drive out to East Austin to start our ride at 8am. Another 100+ miles (106 miles to be exact!). Another full day taken up by training. More windy weather (thankfully only 12mph winds this time and not 20mph winds like last week!). The first two hours on the bike were tough - 12mph winds from the NNW, and we rode for almost the entire time right into the headwind, and I had a desperate need to go to the loo for the entire second hour, with no trees/bushes in sight! Then we stopped at a petrol station which completely revived me. After the quick break we finally started riding to the SSE and the wind was finally at our back, yeah! This is when I really started to enjoy myself. I held a solid pace and felt incredible for the remaining 4 hours of the ride. In fact, I could have easily added on another 20-30 miles. I felt so good on my bike. I was so happy to be out there riding and enjoying the scenery. I couldn't believe that earlier in the day I didn't even want to ride! The weather was gorgeous, the wind finally died down about 4 hours into the ride, and I got to strip down and wear just bike shorts and jersey instead of arm-warmers, leg-warmers, ear-warmers, and toe-warmers! I averaged 17.1mph for the ride which I am really excited about, given that I felt so good. It makes me think that my goal of 17.5mph at Arizona is pretty realistic, if the weather conditions are favourable! The only minor hiccup was a flat tyre, but this was a good opportunity to practice changing the tube in my race wheels, which I was nervous about, but it actually went really smoothly and only took me 9 minutes.

Post-ride a group of us went to Kerbey Lane Cafe for some food. It was so much fun just hanging out, stuffing our faces, chatting, laughing, relaxing. What a great finish to the week. A fantastic ride and fun with friends.

Mon - OFF
Tue - Elliptical Trainer (0.75h) + T3 Swim (1.25h)
Wed - T3 Swim (1h)
Thu - T3 Trainer Ride (1.25h)
Fri - Deep Eddy Swim (0.75h)
Sat - Long Run (17mi/2.75h)
Sun - Long Bike (106mi/6.25h)

Weekly Totals:

Cycling: 7.5h / 131mi (Goal: 8h)
Running: 3.5h / 21.7mi (Goal:5h)
Swimming: 3h / 4.8mi (Goal: 2.5h)

Gordon also had an excellent training weekend. He helped to keep me going for the last 7mi of our long run on Saturday (he finished ahead of me and a lot stronger than me this week!). Sunday he had an awesome bike ride - averaged 17.5mph. He sped away at the start and I only saw him briefly at the petrol station and then not until the end. He had a superb ride!


Monday night and cooking

Another Monday night at home on my own. Another bottle of red wine opened. Web surfing for Gordon's birthday present. More pottering around the house. Oh, and tonight I actually cooked!

Those of you who know me know that I rarely cook. Gordon is the master chef in our house. I make breakfast and pack our lunches every day, but when it comes to dinner I will cook maybe once every 2-3 weeks from my standard repertoire of baked salmon, grilled pork tenderloin, grilled chicken salad, soup (carrot or butternut squash), and chicken curry with store-bought curry sauce. Sometimes I'll pull together a tapas plate, other times I'll go crazy and cook things like a vegetarian Moroccan stew which was delicious but a bit overly complicated. When I try a new recipe I tend to go for the ones that have a lot of ingredients and require many different steps. The more ingredients and instructions there are, the safer I feel. I know a lot about ingredients, cooking methods, etc. but when it comes to pulling it all together I just don't have the confidence. Mainly that is due to a lack of experience.

Gordon has this incredible confidence in the kitchen. He doesn't need to create fancy meals with 3hr reductions, in fact the best meals he cooks use simple ingredients that are well combined and cooked to perfection. Simple is better. Admittedly we've both suffered through un-cooked fish and filet mignon in the past (sorry Gordon, you know it's true!) but he continues to learn from these experiences. Now he knows that cooking times for meat and fish, as stated in recipes, is not exact. It depends on if it has warmed up to room temperature before cooking, the thickness of the cut, the heat of your oven or grill pan. He has learned to adapt to different cooking conditions and use recipes as a rule of thumb and not an absolute. That's the difference between someone who can cook and someone who isn't quite there yet - Gordon doesn't need a recipe, I need a recipe (at least I think I do).

Gordon also genuinely loves to cook, and for someone like me who is a little bit intimidated by cooking, it's easy to let him take over and cook most nights. But I'd really like to become more proficient in the kitchen. So tonight I threw together a simple pasta with what we had in the fridge - pancetta, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. It was simple and I didn't follow a recipe. The end result was good. Not outstanding, but good, if a little bland, and a little bit too much pasta. But I'll learn, if I keep trying. That's the important part.

To help with the learning process, each week Gordon is going to pick a simple recipe for me to make. Not only will it force me to go beyond my comfort level, but hopefully it will also inspire us both to try some different dishes. With all this Ironman training food has become a bit boring - more of a necessity than something to be enjoyed. Time to turn that around!

PS I don't plan to learn how to bake. Gordon grew up working in his parent's bakery. Enough said.


IMAZ Week 16: Race prep.

16 weeks down, 8 weeks to go. 6 weeks until taper starts!

As previously posted, this week was a bitterly cold week in Austin. Getting up and running outside in the cold weather took a little bit of determination, but I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed my Thursday night pre-trainer ride run around Town Lake, and how fast and easy it felt! The only regret I have this week is that I didn't get up and swim at Barton Springs on Friday morning - from the few other T3'ers that swam there it sounded like they had a blast, a chilly but fabulous swim. I knew that would happen, and I'm a bit annoyed that I missed out but my bed sure was nice and warm and cozy on Friday morning and that was also fabulous! I was hoping to do a make up swim on Saturday afternoon, post-ride, but they had to close Barton Springs for maintenance late Friday and it won't re-open until early March.

Saturday I woke up to glorious sunshine and the promise of temp's in the 50's. Now that's the kind of weather I want! Unfortunately, the "gotcha" was that this weather brought 15mph winds from the North with up to 25mph gusts. It was fantastic riding South down to Hays - I felt so fast and easily averaged 18.7mph without any effort. The ride out there took 2hrs 5min (for 39mi). The ride back was a tough slog in the wind, and at times I (and others) nearly got blown off the road. It didn't help that I had my race wheels on, which typically are harder to handle in windy weather, but it was great practice to teach me how to handle my bike in windy weather! By the time we got back to the car, the average had dropped to 16.5mph for a total of 78 miles (2hrs 37min for 39mi). The best part was that although cycling in the wind was a bit tiring, I felt great for the entire ride this week and finished feeling strong. I think I've really got my nutrition down and I'm good at pacing myself on the bike, and the last month of long rides has really improved my cycling.

My tag line for the week "Race prep." has everything to do with the bike. Two years ago at Ironman Arizona they had 20mph winds and gusts up to 30mph, so the weather on Saturday was a perfect training ride to be able to confidently handle this type of weather on race day. I hope the weather isn't so windy for this years IMAZ, but if it is then I'm prepared!

The week finished with one of my best long runs ever. This morning we ran with a few others from T3 and did 20 miles around Town Lake. I pushed pretty hard today and managed to keep pace with Chrissie and Maurice (who are faster than me!). It felt great up until about mile 16, then it started to hurt but I pushed through and kept running. It was a glorious morning for a run. Perfect weather. After finishing the run we all went up to the AT&T Austin Marathon finish line (Gordon and I did an all-out sprint to try and catch our friend Mike cross the finish line, but unfortunately we missed him) then we went and got some coffee, a bagel, had a chat, then walked two miles along Town Lake back to the car. It was so NICE to walk Town Lake! The sun was out and felt warm and it was just gorgeous out there. It also felt good to do a recovery walk, and I'm counting it towards my hours this week!

Seeing all the marathon finishers started to get me thinking about my own race in 8 weeks time. The finish line announcer at the marathon is the same person who will be doing the Ironman Arizona finish line in 8 weeks time... "Amanda McGregor, you are an Ironman". I can't wait to hear those words!

Okay, now I need to check my excitement otherwise it is going to be a really, really long 8 weeks and Gordon has already told me I need to calm down :)

This week's training was a bit different - I had 3 off days (should have only been 2 except that I missed a swim), but doubled up workouts more than usual. I think it worked out well but it's a little freaky to see 3 off days. I will aim for less this week.

Mon - OFF
Tue - Run (0.75h) + Swim (1.25h)
Wed - OFF (Valentine's Day)
Thu - Run (0.75h) + Trainer (1.5h)
Fri - OFF
Sat - Long Bike (78mi/4.75h)
Sun - Long Run (20mi/3.5h)

Weekly Totals:

Cyling: 6.25h / 108mi (Goal: 6.5h)
Running: 5h / 32mi (Goal: 5h)
Swimming: 1.25h / 2mi (Goal: 2.5h)


Barton Springs?

I completely piked out this morning and didn't swim in Barton Springs. It really was too cold, and dark! If I didn't have a 9am meeting I would have maybe gone around 7-7:30, but the idea of swimming at 6:15 on my own, in the dark and cold, was why I didn't go. Also, I'm just soft.

So now I'm going to have to make time Saturday afternoon to go swimming at BS, after my 75mi bike ride. At least the weather looks better - high of 67F and plenty of sunshine, so if I get there around 4pm all will be good.

On a positive note, I churned out an easy 41min 5mi run before our tough as guts T3 trainer ride last night. Total workout time was close to 2:15. I seem to be doubling up my workouts more this week, instead of spreading them out, one per day, with a double on Thursday. It gives me more "off" days which I love! So tomorrow is a 75mi ride + 1.25h swim, followed by a 20mi run on Sunday. The weather looks great this weekend - sunny and relatively warm!

Also, while I have been bitching about the weather, I think I have definitely built up more of a tolerance to the cold. I see people coming in to work with humongous jackets, scarves, gloves... and they have only walked 50m from the car to the building! Crazy.


This cold weather really sucks

I can't recall if it ever got this cold last winter. If it did, I probably didn't notice because I wasn't really working out much at all. In fact, cold weather is actually quite nice, if you can stay inside and keep warm instead of running, cycling and swimming outdoors in the freezing bloody weather!!!

Tuesday night I ran outside before going to swim practice. I only ran for 45min, but half of that time was uphill into a freezing cold headwind. Silly me didn't bring gloves or a hat, I guess I didn't expect it to be so cold. Even after maxing out the heater in the car, I still didn't fully warm-up by the time I got to swim practice. Now, normally I warm up pretty quickly once I jump into the heated pool and start swimming, but Tuesday night I never really warmed up like usual. Also, because it was so cold and windy my arms would feel cold when I brought them out of the water, which unfortunately happens a lot while doing freestyle. I should have switched to breastroke! Btw, I sucked at swimming on Tuesday night. It was a struggle to even hold 1:43's per 100m (we did 16 of them), when I was easily holding 1:35's last week. I guess doing two century bike rides two weeks in a row has taken its toll this week...

Anyway, tonight I'm going to run Town Lake before the T3 group trainer ride. It doesn't look like it's going to get much warmer than 37F (2.7C) today, but I just can't bring myself to run on a treadmill and at least I'll be indoors on my trainer post-run.

Oh, and the best part? I picked tomorrow morning as my first Barton Springs open water swim. It's going to be 27F (-3.3C) at 6am tomorrow morning! I can't go any other time tomorrow and the weekend is chockers with a 75mi ride Saturday followed by a 20mi run Sunday. So I've decided that I am just going to suck it up and drag my ass to Barton Springs in the morning, regardless of the weather. At least the 68F Barton Springs water should feel relatively balmy!

Bring on spring, not summer, spring!

[end of rant]


Monday evenings

The past couple of weeks I've made Monday my "off" day from working out, to give myself some R&R after the heavy training weekends we've had recently (100mi rides, 23mi runs, etc.). If I feel like it, I'll go to a yoga class. I did this a few weeks ago and it was great. But tonight I wasn't feeling like yoga, so I stopped and picked up a bottle of red wine on the way home from work. Now I'm just chilling out, drinking a glass of wine, pottering about the house catching up on things, surfing the web, emailing friends and family, chatting on the phone. Gordon's at a portrait photography class tonight at AMOA and it sounds terrible but I am enjoying the time on my own, relaxing at home, not really doing much but feeling very happy and mellow. Next up on the agenda: a hot chocolate and relaxing on the couch to read a magazine that came in the mail today...


IMAZ Week 15: Staying focused

15 weeks down, 9 weeks to go. We're in single digit weeks now!!!

This past week it was a bit more challenging to stay focused on the training. Work was more hectic than usual and as a result I found myself feeling a little bit more tired and pressed for time. This is absolutely fine - I'm really enjoying my job and of course it comes first before triathlon training. However, the result was that the Friday morning Barton Springs swim got nixed and replaced with a bit of a lie in. Added to that, on Thursday morning our alarm stuffed up and we woke up at 6:50am... too late to get to swim practice (which finished at 7am!). Quite frankly, I probably could have swum somewhere else but I just didn't have the time last week. However, I did manage to stay focused on achieving my bike hours and most of my run hours.

I also finished my second 100 mile bike ride, this time with hills (we started with the Dam Loop) which made it tougher. It was also a lot colder out there today, I don't think I every really warmed up. However, I did feel really good and full of energy at the end of the ride, so I think the conservative pace and focus on nutrition definitely helped today. This was also my first ride with my race wheels... they are brilliant! Although my average speed was lower than last week, I definitely noticed the difference in effort level with the race wheels. It felt easier to move the bike forward, as it felt like there was less wheel resistance. I don't think they helped much on the hills, in fact they added some weight which made it a tad harder on the hills, but on the flats they were great. Probably part of the reason I felt so good at the end of the ride. Thanks for the wheels Gordon!

Mon - OFF
Tue - Trainer (1.5h)
Wed - Run (0.75h/5mi)
Thu - Trainer (1.25h)
Fri - OFF
Sat - Long Run (8mi/1.25h)
Sun - Long Bike (101mi/6.25h)

Weekly Totals:
Cyling: 9h / 156mi (Goal: 9h)
Running: 2h / 13.4mi (Goal: 2.5h)
Swimming: 0h / 0mi (Goal: 2h)

PS We finally got the roof rack put back on my car... it is SO much more convenient!



Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days we've had in a while. Low 70's sunny, spring-like weather. I really, REally, REALLY wanted to get outside and ride my bike, but I was stuck in meetings all day and although I managed to leave while it was still daylight (which made me want to ride outside even more) I knew that by the time I got home and got out on my bike it was going to be too dark to ride safely.

So, I jumped on the trainer for an hour and a half. I really didn't want to, especially because I was annoyed that I couldn't get outside on my bike, so I decided that I need to do a Spinerval DVD to get me through the workout. I chose the 80min "Time Trialapalooza". It was actually really good. It consisted of 20min rep, 15min rep, 10min rep, and 5min rep (with warm-up, cool-down and rest in between rep's). Each rep we changed into a higher gear, dropped the cadence slightly, and aimed to raise the heart rate another 5bpm's.

It was a surprisingly good workout and, even more surprisingly, the time flew past!

Even though I didn't get to ride outside, I at least got to open some windows :)


IMAZ Week 14: My first 100mi bike ride!

14 weeks down, 10 weeks to go.

This past week was another milestone week. I finished my first 100 mile bike ride! Luckily the arctic blast fizzled out and we got to ride the Rosedale route on Sunday - weather was in the 50's and 60's with a sunny sky and not too much wind. Basically, perfect ride conditions! Not only did I ride 100 miles, but I felt great and averaged a solid 18mph. While I'm targeting more like 17-17.5mph for the actual race, I'm excited to be able to average 18mph in a training ride, and that's without my race wheels! I also did a great job on my nutrition because I never had any stomach issues and I only just started feeling tired on the last 10-15 miles. I'm still not quite sure how I'm going to turn around and do a marathon after riding 112 miles (plus the 2.4mi swim beforehand), but I'm getting closer.

During the past week I ran a little less and took some time to go to a yoga class and get a massage. I had a great massage at Performance Wellness - it was a deep tissue massage and had me crying out in pain a couple of times, but it was fantastic and I really appreciated the feedback that Lisa gave me during the massage, trouble spots, stretches I can do to help keep my muscles in good shape, etc. In fact, it was so good that I have joined their "Rub Club"!

Gordon and I also made sure to get our long run done on Friday so that we could go out for dinner Friday night and have some drinks, sleep in Saturday and have the day off from working out. It was fantastic!

Mon - Yoga (1h)
Tue - Swim (1.25h/3300m)
Wed - Run (0.75h/5mi) + Trainer (0.75h)
Thu - Swim (1.25h/3350m), Trainer (1.25h)
Fri - Long Run (13mi/2h)
Sat - OFF!!!
Sun - Long Bike (100mi/5.5h)

Weekly Totals:
Cyling: 7.6h / 140mi (Goal: 8h)
Running: 2.75h / 18mi (Goal: 4h)

Swimming: 2.5h / 4.16mi (Goal: 2.5h)


100 miles!

Today I finished my first 100 mile bike ride.

I averaged 18mph (29km/h).

The sun was shining, it wasn't cold, it was a little windy, but it was an AWESOME ride!

I'm feeling pretty tired now, but happy tired. Gordon just cooked a delicious dinner and now we're having a glass of red wine and are about to watch more of the "Dr. Who" series.

Oh, and last night Mum and Dad told me they are about to book their flights to Austin for Christmas, yee-haw! Life is good!!!



Okay, so the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival doesn't start until March 14th, but while reading the Melbourne newspaper "The Age" on-line this morning I came across an article about Aussie bands showcasing at South by Southwest in little old Austin, Texas! Now, I always get excited when I see articles about Austin in Australian newspapers (doesn't happen very often) or articles about Adelaide in US publications, like in one of National Geographic Traveller's recent issues!

Anyway, the article in The Age mentioned Powderfinger floundering at the SXSW back in 2002. They played an outdoor gig in a carpark across from Stubb's, along with John Butler Trio. I was there!!! It was invite only, but after a lot of convincing (done by Gordon, I'm terrible at that sort of thing) they finally let us in to watch. It was so cool to see one of my favourite bands (PF) right up close. Unfortunately most people there were more interested in the free beer and food at the back of the tent. Which is probably why the article refers to them "floundering" when they really are an awesome band, probably just didn't market themselves very well on the trip.

Apparently the Aussie BBQ in Austin has become a regular feature of SXSW, this year it's on Friday March 17th and it looks like the Living End might be playing!!! But it says invite only... I definitely need to figure out how to get myself an invitation!!! I'm thinking I need to pimp out my husband's photography services, maybe he has some way of getting a photo press badge??? I just wrote an email to the AMC (Aussie Music Collective) to find out how to get an invitation - if they need photographers, if they need help setting up on the day, etc. I hope this works out!


Smooth and slippery

I just got back from 5:45am swim practice. It wasn't quite as chilly this morning, and the fog was spooky.

The swim workout this morning was excellent - 400m warm-up, lots of 100's (15 of them), 600m of swim/drills and 800m of pulling. I was easily holding 1:39 per 100
. Being in the draft definitely helped but I was surprised how easy the 1:39's felt. It seemed like everything fell into place today! I felt strong and smooth and slippery in the water.

Don't you just love a good swim workout?