a "green thumb" Saturday

Today has been a very unusual Saturday. Last night the weather forecast was calling for rain and thunderstorms this morning so we decided that we would sleep in and just ride our trainer once we woke up.

We woke up around 8:30am... to beautiful blue skies! But we were too late to join the rest of the group and decided to get some things done first (like taxes) before going for a ride.

Anyway, after doing taxes we ended up going to Lowe's to buy garden stuff. After receiving another homeowners association violation because our grass was too long, we decided we'd better get the garden in shape. Of course, recent rain and warm temperatures has caused everything to grow like wildfire, so it's a little crappy that they didn't give people time to get their garden in shape. But that's Circle C for you *sigh*.

So we ended up spending about 3 hours in the garden - weeding, mulching, cutting, edging, sweeping. Quite satisfying work, but tiring and hot! We finished up around 5pm. Decided that instead of riding we would head into town and do our long run, to get used to the heat and get it out of the way. So we started our long run at 6pm Saturday evening! I had a good 7 mile run, Gordon did the full 13 miles on the schedule. I hung out at Austin Java with a couple of friends while Gordon was finishing his run. It was a lovely evening and good to be outside enjoying it. Now I'm feeling pretty tired, enjoying my cup of tea and half a brownie (already finished!), and I'm about to go and read for a while before catching some zzzzz's...



Next Thursday is going to be our last indoor bike trainer workout before the Ironman, so I'm putting together the playlist to end all playlists. Everyone is sending me their favourite motivational song and I'm going to compile them into a playlist. It's going to be fantastic!

Anyway, so it got me thinking about my own song. I'm not sure what it is yet. Nothing immediately springs to mind - I have a bunch of songs that I love and get me fired up or get me into "that place". But I haven't got my Arizona song yet so I need to work on that.

It did get me thinking about the playlists I used to pull together for my Dad when he was coaching football. He always wanted to have some songs to get the boys fired up before a big game, like a semi-final or grand final. Of course, this was over 15 years ago (streuth, was it really 15 years ago!) so it was all on tape. I would get out the double cassette recorder and record from one tape to another. Ah, the good old days! Anyway, I was remembering some of these songs and browsing YouTube, and I found one of the all time classic football songs - "Up There Cazaly". It's a great song and the video is terrific. If you want to see what Australian football is really like, check it.

Dad - this post is for you!!!


The weather obsession has begun...

Tonight I went for a run. I'm still building my running back up, but now I also need to consider acclimating to the heat. It's not that hot here in Austin right now - today it hit 80F I think. In Tempe they've already had some 90+ degree days, and the long range forecast shows most days around 90F for the foreseeable future. So it's pretty likely that it's going to be HOT in Tempe for the Ironman. But at least we're lucky here in Austin that we'll have a couple of weeks of warm weather to get us used to it, so it won't be a complete shock to the system. It's the dry heat that will be the big shock. You would think that, having grown up in the driest state in the driest continent on earth, that I would be used to the dry heat. But I never did anything crazy like training for a 5km race let alone an Ironman while I lived in Adelaide...

On the flip side, today's weather in Tempe looked kinda nice, partly cloudy and 65F... except for the 31mph winds with gusts up to 38mph... crikey! The inaugural Ironman Arizona (in 2005) had 20mph winds with gusts up to 30mph. Then it was hot (mid-90's) in 2006. I wonder what 2007 will have in store for us?


IMAZ Week 21: It's taper time!

21 weeks down, 3 weeks to go. Taper has officially started!

The last couple of weeks of training have been hard. I developed an injury. I had to get treatment, eliminate the running, try and stay positive, and feel sore every day. But so what? It's just an injury. The pain I have been feeling is nothing compared to what millions of other people face on a daily basis. I'm training for an Ironman. I'm one hell of a lucky person to be able to find the time and be physically able to train for something like this. In short, I've had a pretty selfish couple of weeks and I have now decided to suck it up and stop my complaining. So, officially my taper has started, and my whining has ended!!!

This week was good. I'm starting to see improvement in my shin. I was told to start running again, and I did, three times in fact. Two 30 minute runs (8min running, 1min walking) to start stressing and strengthening the tissue again, and one 41:30 minute run on Saturday during our brick.

I swam in Barton Springs twice this week - one 3.2km swim, one 2km swim. I'm starting to feel more comfortable in my wetsuit again and the speed is starting to come back as I get more used to the wetsuit and how that changes my stroke. I love Barton Springs. Especially Friday afternoon after work, what a great way to end the week!

Saturday we did a practice triathlon. Swam 1.8km, then biked 40mi, followed by a 4.5mi run. (The rest of the group did a 13.5mi run after the bike, not everyone did the swim though). I was just stoked to be able to run for 4.5mi! I could still feel pain while I was running, but it's different now. I can feel it starting to get stronger and healthier again. It was fun finishing the brick early and cheering the rest of the group on, seeing them finish strongly.

It was a great training week. I'm doing an Ironman in 3 weeks. Life is good!!!

Mon - OFF (PT)
Tue - Elliptical Trainer (0.25h) + Run (0.5h) + Core/Stretch (0.25h)
Wed - Barton Springs Swim (1.25h), PT
Thu - Run (0.5h), T3 Trainer Ride (1.25h)
Fri - Barton Springs Swim (0.75h)
Sat - T3 Swim (0.75hh), Bike (42mi), Run (4.5mi)
Sun - Recovery Ride (1.25h)

Weekly Totals:

Cycling: 4.75h / 85mi (Goal: 5.5h)
Running: 2h / 12.5mi (Goal:3h)
Swimming: 2.75h / 7000m (Goal: 2.5h)


A strange but great morning

This morning has been good so far, although a little different from my usual workday routine!

Got up and swam at Barton Springs this morning - swam 3200m (8 laps) - got smoked by my super fast husband. Somehow I swim slower with a wetsuit. Kinda frustrating, but I'm hoping if I keep working on it in the next few weeks I'll adjust to the wetsuit and get my nice, decently fast, stroke back. But it was fantastic to see Gordon gliding past me (even if I was madly jealous!).

Was going to swim 4000m, but had to get out and take a conference call. Sat on the grass at Barton Springs while on a customer call. A beautiful, pleasantly cool and overcast morning, outside with nature, on a call. It was terrific.

Now I'm sitting at Austin Java. Just had a couple of breakfast tacos, about to get another cup of coffee. It's still nice outside. I'm using their free wireless access and working. It's very relaxing. I should do this more often!


IMAZ Week 20: A rollercoaster ride

20 weeks down, 4 weeks to go. Officially, 1 week until taper starts. Unfortunately, my enforced taper has already started.

This week has been full of emotions - frustration, anger, sadness, apathy, you name it, I've experienced it this week. Not only did I start the week with physical injuries and complete lack of self-confidence about my upcoming Ironman, but my Dad called Monday afternoon and told me that my Grandpa, who had been battling lung cancer for the past 6 months, had passed away just a couple of hours ago. It was a shock, but not unexpected. He had been getting progressively worse for the past few weeks. I felt sad but I didn't cry. I don't know why I didn't cry. I just didn't. At least not immediately. The tears came over the next few days, at unexpected times, like while sitting at my desk at work, after swim practice, while on the phone with my parents. After a lot of thinking and talking back and forth with Gordon and Mum and Dad, we decided that I shouldn't travel back to Adelaide for the funeral. My little sister was going to be there. My older sister was going to be there. I just couldn't be there. My Grandpa was a good, kind, funny man and he had a long, healthy life up until the past six months. He was going to turn 78 this year. "A good innings", as we would say in Australia.

Coupled with the rollercoaster emotional ride that I was on this week, was the rollercoaster physical ride. I went to physical therapy three times and each time it hurt. Some days I saw small signs of progress, other days I felt worse. "All part of the healing process" I was told, which I understood. It's just tough when you start to feel better, and then the next day you feel like you've been set back a day or two. This happened on Saturday. I had a great swim in the morning (physically and emotionally this time) and things were starting to look up. Then we went out shopping for a few hours. Well, turns out that the few hours of walking around caused my left shin to flare up again. So Saturday night I was sitting at home with pain in my left leg again, as well as the continued pain in my right leg. I couldn't believe that I was hurting so much again, all after walking for just a few hours!

Sunday morning we woke up to do our 100mi long ride, we drove out to East Austin and were actually there 15 minutes before everyone else. It was pretty windy, I was feeling sore and very negative about the upcoming ride. I wasn't looking forward to getting dropped by everyone and riding on my own, and facing a headwind for half of the ride, plus, what if my shins got even worse while I was out there? So Gordon suggested that we just go home and ride the trainer for a few hours. So we did, and I ended up having a really good 3hr trainer ride, with a nice long stretch afterwards. My shins are feeling good again, the best they've felt all week! Don't get me wrong, they're still sore and I still won't be running in the next few days, but I'm feeling some positive signs of improvement right now. I hope this lasts... I see Dr. Seller's again tomorrow.

I want to say a big thanks to my coaches, Maurice and Chrissie, who have been so supportive, calling and emailing to check up on me and making sure I'm doing okay. You two are fantastic! I also want to say a big, extra special thankyou to Gordon. He has put up with a lot this week - repeated complaints of soreness and self-doubt, and emotional instability. He hasn't complained once. I am so lucky to have him in my corner.

This past week has been the low point. Things will get better!

Mon - OFF (PT)
Tue - Elliptical Trainer + Core/Stretch (1h)
Wed - T3 Swim (1.25h), PT
Thu - T3 Trainer Ride (1.25h)
Fri - Barton Springs Swim (1h), PT
Sat - T3 Swim (1.25h)
Sun - Long Ride on Trainer (60mi/3h)

Weekly Totals:

Cycling: 4.25h / 85mi (Goal: 8h)
Running: 1h / 5.5mi (Goal:5h) *Elliptical
Swimming: 3.5h / 9400m (Goal: 2.5h)


Recovering, slowly

Monday I went and saw Dr. Seller's and found out that my left shin soreness was due to a tight left calf. Today the pain is practically gone in my left shin. The left shin soreness seems to have been a short-lived thing. As long as I keep up with the calf stretching I'll be okay on my left side.

The right shin soreness, which has been sore for a week or two now, is being caused by a tight right hip joint, which has been causing me to over-pronate, flatten my arch, and ultimately cause the medial shin splints on my right leg. I was relieved to understand the cause of the problem and we talked about treatment - Active Release Therapy to elongate the muscles, electro-therapy and ultrasound to break up the scar tissue, and eventually strengthening exercises. I felt better that I understood the problem and had a plan of attack to fix it. But it wasn't going to be an overnight miracle cure.

After the Monday session my right shin felt better, I was finally able to walk around without too much pain, but I started to feel some weakness in my right hip. Apparently this is all to be expected. But it still feels weird and a bit unsettling. At the Wednesday session he commented that things weren't as bad as Monday, but I still have a fair amount of soreness in the tendon. He did some more ART, some hip adjustments (to re-align the hip joint and thus improve the mobility), and we finished with electro-therapy and ultrasound. I swam Wednesday night and was careful when pushing off the wall (normally I have an awesome push off the wall). I also substituted the fin set for some pulling instead.

Today my right shin is a bit more sore than Wednesday morning. This is more than likely due to the treatment yesterday afternoon, and maybe even the gentle push off the wall caused it to flare up a bit. I'm going to go to the trainer ride tonight and take it easy. I'm not planning on running any time soon. I'm going to wait until all of the soft tissue soreness is gone. I'm hoping this will only take another week to week and a half, but realistically I just want to be better for IMAZ. If I can't do much running between now and then, I guess I just have to accept that fact and focus on getting recovered for IMAZ. According to my coaches I have 98% of the fitness I need right now, so long as I maintain it (which I can, with elliptical, swimming and cycling) I'll be in good shape physically. What I notice I've already lost is the confidence I had about this race. Initially I was aiming for a 13hr finish, but now it's completely up in the air and I'm just hoping to finish.

Of course, I'm writing this while I'm not in the most positive, uplifting place, so I reserve the right to change my mind once I'm feeling better...



Originally uploaded by Gordon McGregor.

It seems really unfair to have to ice both shins!

Icing the hell out of it

Originally uploaded by Gordon McGregor.

Being pouty on the couch. I don't take very well to being injured!

IMAZ Week 19: Icing the hell out of it

19 weeks down, 5 weeks to go. 2 weeks until taper starts!

Normally this would excite me, but today it worries me. This week has been a tough week for training. I felt good earlier in the week, my massage on Tuesday wasn't nearly as painful, and I ran sub-6min pace on the track Wednesday morning (5:55 pace to be exact!). It was one of those cool, crisp mornings on the track and I felt great. But, after my muscles got a chance to stiffen up, my right shin was really bothering me. Enough that it hurt to walk. So I iced as much as I could for the next couple of days (2-3 times per day). I decided to skip the Thursday morning swim workout to let my shin rest, but I still went to the group trainer ride Thursday night. By Friday morning it was feeling better, but I must have slept funny because I woke up with a crick in my right neck! So instead of swimming Friday morning at Deep Eddy I took it easy so that I wouldn't make my neck worse. Thought about swimming after work Friday, but my neck was still sore and after a long week at work I didn't really feel like swimming on my Friday evening! So Gordon and I went to Maudie's for a margarita and some Mexican food.

Saturday we did the Spokes 'n Spurs ride and it was great. Beautiful weather, great course and great people. I definitely pushed the ride a little harder than I normally do and the hills were definitely wearing me out by the end. I ended up averaging 17.3mph which is pretty good for me for 90 miles especially considering that they were hilly 90 miles!

My goal for the long run Sunday was to take the pace a bit easier. My last few long runs I have been pushing the pace pretty hard and given my right shin issues I wanted to keep the pace easier so that I could actually get through the 18 miles. I felt fantastic for the first 11 miles, chatting to Gordon, Liz and Jim. The pace was easy, I didn't feel fatigued and my right shin wasn't getting any worse. I could feel a bit of soreness but it didn't get worse so I thought that was a good sign. From about mile 9 onwards I started feeling sore in my left shin but I was still able to run through it. But by the time I got to mile 13.5 it was hurting so much that I just had to stop and walk. Walking was really hurting too. I let the rest of the group run off and finish their 18 miles while I shortened the loop and walked for 2.5 more miles to make a total of 15 miles. It was a horrible walk. I was walking on the busiest part of the trail with all the recreational joggers, who ran past me, all shapes and sizes, and all I could do was walk. I couldn't look at anybody. I just stuck my head down and kept walking and hurting, thinking if this happens in the Ironman it's going to be a hell of a long walk to the finish line. My worst run ever. Oh, and I don't think it helped that I mixed up my shoes this morning - newer shoe (<100mi) on my left foot, old shoe on my right foot (300ish miles). Not good!

So after breakfast we came home and I have been icing the hell out of my left and right shins, and resting up on the couch. I hurt every time I get up and walk. This is NOT how I want to be feeling 5 weeks out from my Ironman! But, I guess the fact is that I am 5 weeks out from IMAZ so I have time to get this thing under control as long as I don't do anything stupid. So, my aim for next week is to not do anything stupid, like 5:55 pace on the track!

Mon - OFF
Tue - T3 Swim (1.25h)
Wed - T3 Track Workout (1h)
Thu - T3 Trainer Ride (1.25h)
Fri - OFF
Sat - Long Ride (88mi/5.25h)
Sun - Long Run (15mi/3h)

Weekly Totals:

Cycling: 6.5h / 113mi (Goal: 6.5h)
Running: 4h / 21mi (Goal:5h)
Swimming: 1.25h / 3400m (Goal: 2.5h)


Spokes 'n Spurs

Today for our long ride we drove out to Spirit Reins Ranch in Liberty Hill, to do the "Spokes 'n Spurs" ride. The ride started at 8:30am, but we wanted to get an early start to get in some extra mileage (they only had 14mi, 28mi, 44mi and 63mi routes and we were scheduled to do 90mi today). So we were up early, made the trek up to Liberty Hill, and got started around 7:25am. The plan was to do two 44mi loops.

This was a fantastic ride. Great course, cheerful and happy volunteers, great fajita spread afterwards and live music under a shaded tent. The weather was gorgeous, a little warm by the end, but great preparation for Arizona (today's temperature in Tempe was 89F!). The hills weren't too bad, although I was definitely feeling it on the second 44mi loop. T3 had a great showing out there today - lots of blue jerseys and friends to see out on the course. I highly recommend this ride for next year.



Originally uploaded by Gordon McGregor.

Gordon got an autographed Aussie Rules footy from my Mum and Dad for his birthday. Only problem is he's not allowed to kick it! (Lucky we have another footy to kick around when the need arises). I took this photo of Gordon - not bad huh? Admittedly, the man knows how to pose for the camera...


IMAZ Week 18: Needing a break

18 weeks down, 6 weeks to go. 3 weeks until taper starts!

This week work has really picked up again and I am busier than ever. Thankfully I'm not travelling at the moment, but still, the longer hours at work and more mental investment does make it tough to keep the focus on Ironman training. I think this week I also suffered from "I am sick of all this training consuming all of my spare time", and I just generally felt tired and lazy. It also didn't help that the massage on Tuesday made me feel pretty sore for the next few days.

This week was also recovery week. Sorry, "reduced hours" week. Not actually recovery according to our coaches. But I think my body desperately needed recovery week this week and not just reduced hours! So I took some recovery and reduced the hours and now I'm feeling mentally refreshed and re-charged, ready to go into the last hard 3 weeks of training before taper starts. I am still dealing with some aches and pains in my calf and foot but I'm hoping that if I stay consistent with massage, stretching and icing then hopefully that will keep this thing under control until I truly get a chance to recover post-IMAZ.

I only did 6.5 hours this week, which is half what I usually do. The goal was 11 hours. I had 4 whole days off this week. I feel a little guilty. But a little guilt is good and that will fuel the next 3 weeks. I think it has also been sensible to rest my calf and foot a little bit too. Having said that, I ran 8:45's for my long run this week after swimming earlier in the morning, no wonder I woke up feeling lazy on Sunday and wanting to skip the 60mi bike ride!

Mon - OFF
Tue - OFF (took Gordon to Zoot for an early birthday dinner!)
Wed - T3 Swim (1.25h)
Thu - Easy Run (0.75h), T3 Trainer Ride (1.25h)
Fri - OFF (worked until 10pm)
Sat - T3 Swim (1.25h), Long Run (13.5mi/2h)
Sun - OFF (was supposed to be 60mi bike, also Gordon's birthday!)

Weekly Totals:

Cycling: 1.25h / 25mi (Goal: 5.5h)
Running: 2.75h / 18.5mi (Goal:3h)
Swimming: 2.5h / 4.35mi (Goal: 2.5h)

So the cycling suffered this week. But missing one 60mi bike ride is not going to make a difference to my training. I think after all the years I've been training I've started to realise what's important and what can be skipped. Not that I make a habit of skipping workouts, but I know that the mental and physical benefit of truly having a recovery week can be more beneficial than doing a 60mi bike ride.

Yes, I'm making excuses. Which means that I do feel a bit guilty about missing the 60mi bike ride. Gordon and I talked it over for a good 30 minutes, wavering backwards and forwards between "let's just go and do an hour or two" and "let's just relax and enjoy doing nothing". Clearly the doing nothing idea won today :)

Can you categorize playing the Wii as part of triathlon training?