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Pharmie is in the House!

I have decided that I have two alter-egos. SLS was the nickname I was given by a bunch of friends in pharmacy school. It was easier to say than my hyphenated last name, which said fast sort of sounds like a German meat. SLS has been a runner for a long time. She has done a couple of triathlons and was probably the one that first thought of signing up for IM. She doesn’t always have a lot of confidence in her ability to become Ironman. She has a few doubts in the back of her mind that ask, “What if I don’t make the cutoffs? What if I can’t make it through the run? Do I really belong in the same class as all of the other great athletes that are going to be at that start line?” SLS has definitely been around the last couple of weeks. More doubts since the foot problems surfaces.

I was given the nickname “Pharmie” by Simply Stu at the WIBA ride a few weeks ago. It was fitting since I am a pharmacist and did in fact grow up on a farm, a double whammy if you will. Pharmie is calm and is very confident in her abilities. She knows that her past tri and running experiences will help her at IM. She knows that she has trained long and hard for September 10th. She was at her best at the WIBA ride, confident that she would actually be able to pull this off. She was at my race today.

The day started off with a 4 AM alarm clock. We had our stuff all packed up last night, so we ate breakfast, put our bikes on the rack (well, Steve actually did that part), and headed up to the race. It was about a 45 minute drive, and we cranked the radio the whole way because they kept playing awesome songs. We got to the site at about 5:15, got rock star parking nearby, and headed to the transition area. The bike racks were marked for our individual spots, so I didn’t get to pick my place. It was just as well, though, because my place in the transition area was really good. Steve did the sprint distance, so he was in a different part of T. I started setting up my huge pile of stuff. I really need to purchase a tri suit for days like today, but for now, I just figured I would change between swim, bike, and run. I knew that this would take longer, but since I plan to do the same thing in Wisconsin, it was a good chance for a dress rehearsal. I finished setting up my stuff and peed my usual 3-5 times while waiting for the race to get started.

I should probably take a moment here to tell you about today’s weather. The forecast was for it to be 101 with a dewpoint in the mid 70s. For those of you not from Minnesota and/or not obsessed with the weather, that is VERY sticky. There was also a wind in the forecast. It ended up being sunny. It was about 95 degrees by the end of the race with a dewpoint in the mid 70s and a wind that was probably 15-20 miles per hour. Whew! If my intent was to prepare for racing in warm weather that IM could throw at me, I guess I did it.

My big dilemma the last couple of days was whether or not I should wear my wetsuit today. The race directions said that wetsuits may be worn without regard to water temperature. I did an open water swim with my wetsuit on Friday at my local lake, and it was so hot that I could hardly stand it. I wanted to try it today since I’ve never actually worn it in a race before. I knew it would be good practice for Wisconsin. Since it is sleeveless, I knew it wouldn’t be quite as hot as if I had full sleeves. The swim started at 7 am and the lake was big, so there was a chance that the water would be a little cooler in the morning. Plus, since swimming is definitely not my strongest event (very, very slow), any extra benefit would sure help. The cons: wearing it could actually hurt my performance if I cooked in it. What to do? I called my friend TriSara Tops yesterday and asked for her opinion. She said I should see what other people were doing today, but she was leaning toward me wearing it. I was too. This morning, I got to the lake and checked out the water. It felt a little cooler than when I waded in it yesterday. There was a lady down there who asked me how the water was. I told her my dilemma, and she told me that she thought that I should wear it. Since she is a 20 year veteran of tris and has done 7 Ironmans(!), I figured that her opinion counted for something. I resolved to wear it. I love meeting random strangers at races.

I squeezed into my wetsuit and headed down to the start. The water looked a little choppy. Boy was that an understatement. My goal was to finish in under an hour. Don’t laugh. I know I’m slow. I’m still working on that part. We went in in waves of 50, and I was in the 4th wave. The first couple of hundred yards were chaotic as usual. I managed to get kicked in the eye nearly right away, but it didn’t do any damage. I was working pretty hard at first, and my usual breath every three strokes had to be cut down to every two because I was running a little short of air. The water was pretty choppy, and waves completely went over me more than once. I headed to my usual position of way to the left of the buoys. I know it wastes energy to go that much further, but I just don’t love swimming in the middle of the craziness, especially since I’m usually the one getting run over. I rounded the first big buoy. Wow. My time may actually be OK today. I headed to the second big buoy. The water on this back stretch was a little calmer, and by then, I had settled comfortably into my usual 3 strokes per breath. I was feeling calm and relaxed. I had a little trouble sighting the second big buoy. The small buoys in between were sparse, so I had to completely stop a couple of times to make sure I was still going the right way. That was my only complaint today with the set up of the race. When I rounded the second buoy, I realized that there was a chance that I could be out of the water in less than 45 minutes. The water on this home stretch, though, was terrible. If you would have been able to read my thoughts at that time, you would have seen this:

Wow. This water would be great if I were sitting on an inner tube drinking a margarita. **swell, swell** Is that a buoy or just another bright orange swim cap? **swell, swell, swell** Wow, this water is really choppy! **swell, swell** Where the heck is the buoy? Is the pontoon in front of it? **swell, swell, swell, swallow lots of water** Wow. I might just make 45 minutes. That is usually my 1 mile time in the pool. *swell* Well, maybe I underestimated the distance. I may not get out until around 50 minutes, but that would still be OK. **swell, swell, swallow more water. cough** It continued like this all the way up to shore. I hit shore in 50:16. On my way up the beach to T1, the guy behind me shouted, “I should have brought my wetsuit. That swim sucked!” I guess I made the right decision. :)

T1: I squeezed out of my wetsuit, threw on a shirt over my sports bra, threw on a pair of bike shorts over my sport bikini swimsuit bottom, socks, shoes, helmet, bike, etc. Time: 3:53. My longest T1 time ever, but I’ve never had to put on that many clothes in T1 before.

The bike started out great. I had the wind at my back for several miles. Then I turned into the wind. Wow. It was not pretty. The course was rather hilly, maybe even comparable to parts of the IM course. The wind combined with the hills did not make for a fast bike ride. I knew that the course was going to be hilly, but I’d never ridden it before, and they didn’t have an elevation chart available. More experience for IM I guess. I tried to keep it at a comfortable pace, one where I felt like I could still be going faster, but parts of the second half were pretty tough, and I know that my HR was high then. I can’t even count how many times I was in my granny gear. I was alone for the entire bike ride. I could see a couple of people about ½ mile ahead of me for miles but didn’t catch up to them until about mile 50. It was a little frustrating having people pass me, especially early in the bike, but I knew that I would need energy to endure the heat in the run. My overall time on the bike wasn’t great. I finished in 3:41. Given the conditions, though, it probably wasn’t too bad. Even the Wisconsin course has flats, and this one only had a couple of miles’ worth.

T2: By the end of the bike, I was so anxious to get out of the swimsuit bottoms. I don’t normally wear anything under my bike shorts, but without a changing area today, I really couldn’t put on the bike shorts without something underneath, and I didn’t want to wear them for the swim. It was probably the worst decision I made all day. I was pretty uncomfortable toward the end. I took off the bike shorts, threw on my running shorts (I needed the ventilation in the heat), and did a quick maneuver that impressed several people around me to get the swimsuit off. It literally only took me about 6 seconds. I changed shoes, hats, etc, and ran out. T2 time: 2:25.

I’m not going to lie to you. The run was just plain hot. I quickly came to love the wind that had plagued me on the bike. My goal was to just keep running and not have to walk. I did walk through the aid stations and stopped several times for ice from volunteers or to get my head hosed off (carefully making sure that my shoes didn’t get wet). I had ice under my hat or down my sports bra for most of the run **clack, clack, clack** The ice clacking against itself brought a whole new meaning to the term “knockers”. My run was slow, and I probably could have pushed it a little more, but I only got passed once and passed about 15 people. I started to wonder during the run if I could break 7 hours. I know that this isn’t a spectacular time, but this also isn’t an A race. I didn’t taper. I broke just about every rule about trying new things on race day. The heat index was 110 degrees. I was happy to still be running and not reduced to a massive puddle. My run time was 2:23. Definitely room for improvement. I finished in 7:01:59.

Nutrition: I experimented big time today with my nutrition. I used the Enduralytes (2-3 old ones per hour), and I am definitely sticking with them. My legs never felt heavy on the run despite the heat, and I never once cramped up. I didn’t drink nearly enough, but it was plenty to get me through the race. It would not have gotten me through IM. I only drank 4 bottles of water on the bike, but I drank at most of the run stops. I ate one packet of fig newtons during the bike and sipped on concentrated Carbo Pro mixed with Gatorade as well. I ate 2/3 of a Powerbar on the run and drank several glasses of Gatorade. It seemed to be plenty to get me through the race. I’m hoping to refine my nutritional plan on my long bikes in the next couple of weeks. Most of it seemed to work today, though.

Overall, I’m fairly happy with the day. I know that my time wasn’t great, but considering the conditions, I’ll take it. Pharmie won today. She knew I could do it, and I did.
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First Half!

Tomorrow, I will be doing my first half IM. It looks to be a toasty day - 102 degrees, not considering the over 70% humidity. Should be a major deposit into the IM bank if I can pull it off. The plan: treat this like a practice run for Wisconsin, especially in the realm of nutrition. I'm going to take enduralyte tabs (3 of the old ones per hour), carbo pro 2 scoops per hour, 2 bottles of fluid per hour (one bottle water, one bottle gatorade), and 1-2 powerbars on the run. I guess I'll see how I feel. I'm usually a fly by the seat of my pants kind of nutrition person, so this will be good practice on the planning front. I'm number 168, and here I go.
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A Few of My Favorite Things, Part 1

Folks, I have to admit it. I am addicted to buying athletic apparel, gear, etc. This addiction has never gotten out of control. I'm too financially conscious for that. However, I love having things that make my workouts that much better, whether that's a nice bike, a sports bra that doesn't make my soft female parts bleed, running shorts that just fit, or the perfect pair of sunglasses, I will research and research until I have found what I truly love. I then literally wear my stuff out. I have thus decided to start a section entitled "A Few of My Favorite Things." People that know me know that once I find something that is good quality and works, I should probably ask for commission from the company because I cannot stop talking about it. I added two more things to the list over the past week: my new helmet and my new bike shoes. Mr. SLS has been kind enough to help me illustrate these items with his wonderful photo taking abilities.

Bike Helmet Before

Sorry about the funny face on the pic. I was trying to look very depressed in my old helmet in this "before" picture, but I could not stop laughing. As you can see, though, the helmet didn't exactly fit right. It did the trick for 3 years, but with IM coming up, I just wanted something better.

Bike Helmet After

I can't tell you how much I LOVE this new helmet. It fits like a dream, has better ventilation, and doesn't sit at the very top of my head. I think it just looks better all around. I tried it out for the first time on my ride last night and couldn't believe the difference. I guess I didn't know what I was missing.

New Shoes!

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought new shoes last week (on sale of course!). I hadn't gotten them out of the box yet because I didn't know if I REALLY needed new shoes. Although I've had my old ones for 3 years and probably have over 3000 miles on them if you count my spinning classes during the winter, I still thought that they were doing the job. Well, after the sports med MD told me to try the new ones, I did last night. I rode the same exact course as I did last Tues, but this time my foot barely hurt at all! It was actually fine until the last few miles, when it barely twinged. When I clipped into my bike, I realized that the old ones were probably shot. The new shoes feel stiffer and more supportive. I can even tell that I have new clips on the bottem because that seems more stable too! I am definitely encouraged at the thought of a simple thing like new shoes (along with the NSAIDS and ice) making enough difference to get back into regular training rides :)

I'll keep you posted, but the half IM this weekend is seeming less and less scary. The weather on the other hand, is a little frightening. Sunday's forecast: sunny and 97 friggn degrees!!! I know that IM could be that hot too, but couldn't I get a little break? I'm a pretty heavy sweater, so I'll really have to try hard to get in enough fluids. More on the nutrition plan later.
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Nine Years

I missed the opportunity last Wed (7/19) to dedicate a post, so this is my chance to redeem myself. Today officially marks 9 years of Steve and I being together. That's more than 1/3 my life! Last week was our 3 year wedding anniversary.

So... today I'd just like to say how lucky a girl I am. Mr. Pharmie/Mr. SLS is definitely my other half. On paper, you'd wonder how the two of us ended up together. He eats mostly meat and very few vegetables. I eat mostly vegetables and nearly have to force myself to eat meat. He's an artist; I'm a scientist. He's always warm, and I'm usually cold. He prefers to drive the car, whereas I prefer to sleep in it. He likes to channel surf. I'm a park it at one channel kind of girl. He owns a Mac, I've got a PC. Somehow, though, we manage to perfectly compliment each other. Our core set of values are the same. We both love to learn. We love to laugh, and we are both total nerds.

Steve is at every one of my races. I know he is my biggest fan, although my sisters are giving him a run for his money. He has been nothing but supportive of me and all of my crazy undertakings the last several years.

I'd like to propose a toast for this occasion: Here's to you, Steve. As you sarcastically told one of your friends in 10th grade history class, "Uh, yeeaahh, I can just see Sarah and I together," I secretly had a crush on you. Guess I won :) (Editor's note: he later told me that he didn't think that I was a fun person but soon found out how wrong he was!)
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So I did a lot of reading (and it seems not much else) on what I thought my foot conditions could be last week, and none of it seemed to completely fit. I finally decided that I had components of a couple of different common athletic injuries but still wasn't confident in my own self-diagnosis, so I scheduled an appointment with a sports med doctor. Some things just weren't making sense, like why it hurt more for me to bike than to run, why it hurt for me to push off the wall during my swims, why I didn't have pain right away in the morning, why my heels hurt so bad, and why I was having pain near but not quite on my Achilles tendon. I made the appointment on Thursday and got in today. I just wanted to know what exactly I'm up against here.

I came in to work early this morning so I could leave for an hour to go to the appointment. The doctor came in, took a look at my feet, listened to my description of the pain, had me walk barefoot for him, stand on my toes, and push against his hands with my feet. He then felt all over them for pain and finally tapped right on the part that has been sore. He asked if it tingled, and I told him that it did tingle down my foot and toward my toes. Diagnosis: Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (think carpal tunnel syndrome for your feet). Apparently it's fairly rare, but it totally fits with my symptoms. Working with physicians every day, I know that they are not always right, but in doing a little bit of research, this really does seem to be my problem. It's likely caused by my VERY flat feet and thus tendency to overpronate. The posterior tibial nerve gets compressed and then causes pain, tingling, burning, or other abnormal sensations in your feet. It may radiate through the arch, around to the bottom of the foot, or to the toes. I asked the doctor what will happen if it gets worse. He told me that if the pain gets worse it could start traveling up my leg and down my foot, or things may just start to go numb. Great.

My problem: biking irritates it the most. Every time I push down on the pedals, it compresses the nerve. The doctor told me to try using insoles for fallen arches and also try new bike shoes. Sweet! I was feeling a little guilty about the new pair I bought last week and hadn't used them yet. I guess it's time to break them out of the box. I'm going to need to figure this biking thing out, though. It's not like I can just cut the biggest IM component out of my training. I guess I'll just have to see how this week goes. Due to time reasons this weekend, I had to cut the long ride out of my training, which I was feeling super guilty about until I realized that I could modify the next couple of weeks of training. More on that later.

The other treatments that I need to keep doing include icing (check - I've been icing a couple of times a day already) and NSAIDs. Being a pharmacist, you'd think I'd have been on that already. Not so much. Daily scheduled NSAIDs for 10 days here I come.

I promise to post again very soon. Work has me gone almost 12 hours a day, and by the time I work out and try to get some sleep, there is literally no time left in my day. I made a few modifications in my training program yesterday. I was worried because I missed my long bike on Sat (had to head up to a 1 1/2 day vacation with Steve's family). I was also worried because this Sun I am scheduled to do a 1/2 IM, but my training plan called for a 5-6 hour bike ride. In looking toward the end of my program, week T-4 was supposed to be a recovery and then week T-3,2, and 1 were supposed to be tapers. I wasn't really excited about doing essentially a month long taper. Three weeks sounds much better to me, so I'm cutting out week T-4. I'm going to repeat last week's training plan, which fits in perfectly with my half IM this weekend. Fri is a long swim, Sat is off, and Sun I'm replacing my 4.5 hour ride and 30 min run with the race. That means that I have room for 3 more long rides after my half IM, which makes me much more comfortable (assuming the foot holds up). I'm not as worried about the run, and I'll keep working on the swim. Darn. I was hoping to feel more confident at this point. Guess the last two weeks have just not been confidence builders.
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Long Post – As Promised

Sorry it took me so long to get this posted. The week has been crazy, and with my little sister staying with me, it was hard to find the time to sit down and write.

I started this past week still high from last weekend’s recon ride in Wisconsin. This was not any sort of illegal high. I could lose my hard-earned license for that. This was the kind of high you get from spending time in the company of amazing people. Since I had managed to keep up with everybody on the ride and stayed motivated enough to throw in a 30 miler the next day, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

My training plan instructed me that this week was meant for recovery, so I was looking forward to fewer hours. I was also looking forward to giving my body a rest. You see, I’ve been having these small twinges of pain in my heels during and workouts for the past few weeks. I assumed that it was a little bit of tendonitis in my Achilles and that rest would be good for it. During my swim on Monday, the pain was much worse and was increasing. It actually worried me. It hurt every time I pushed off the wall, and eventually I made the executive decision that my 1 2/3 mile swim should be cut to 2/3. No use pushing it and risking further injury when the workout doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I took it easy Tuesday too because I was still having a lot of pain, even just standing and walking (which I do a lot of) at work. I went for a 7.5 mile run Wednesday and it felt OK, although it was a little painful. Thursday I did another 2/3 mile swim in the AM and then a 4.5 mile run in the PM with some pain, but it was manageable. I’ve been icing like a mad woman too. Friday after work, I decided to finally do a little more investigating. I typed “Achilles tendonitis” into Google and starting reading about. I read about the causes (lots of physical activity, increases in activity, hills) and figured I fit in that category. I also seemed to have some of the symptoms, but it didn’t quite fit. When I read the prognosis, though, my heart sank. Must stop immediately if worsens when exercise. Overworking the injured tendon may cause it to rupture. Months to years recovery time. This is not what I need right now. As my investigation continued, I kept seeing plantar fasciitis popping up as another cause for the pain. As I researched that, it seemed that I might have a new winner on the What the Heck is Making my Feet Hurt game show. After reading the symptoms, I realized there is a good chance that this is actually causing my pain. When I saw this picture, though, I knew I had a winner. The good news is that I think I’ve actually had the condition for a long time (think years). Every once in a while, I get pain in my heels that sort of feels like what I imagine bone spurs to feel like. Turns out this is classic plantar fasciitis. Huh. I always had assumed it was lack of support in my shoes. My current pain is also pretty typical for overuse– a little pain at the bottom of my heels and a lot of pain behind my ankle on the insides of my feet. More good news; it is rarely serious and usually goes away with icing, stretching, and antiinflammatories, although it may take a while. My translation: even if it hurts, I am not worsening it by working it. The bad news: it hurts like hell, even/especially when I’m not actually working out. I wear good shoes at work, but I cannot stay off my feet the whole day. Standing still aggravates it, and during rounds that is exactly what I have to do.

I’m feeling really defeated right now. By the end of last week, I was feeling like a rock star, like the title of Ironman was within my grasp. My workouts this week have been pretty slim, and even though it was supposed to be a recovery week, I’m feeling guilty about slacking off. With only 8 weeks to go, I cannot afford to miss that many hours of training. Since my last 4 weeks of training are basically recovery/taper, I’m starting to get anxious about the fact that my next 4 weeks mean everything in terms of my training. What if the pain gets much worse? What if I can’t do it? It’s not really something that I want to think about after investing all of this time and money, but I can’t say that it’s not in the back of my mind.

I’m also nervous about the half IM coming up in just two weeks. I’m nervous because I’ve never done that distance before. I am also nervous because it will take away a precious long ride on the bike. I’m starting to become very aware of the fact that my longest ride to date has been 72 miles. I’d like to get in a 90 miler next weekend. We’ll see how it goes.

OK… sorry for the pity party, but thanks for listening. I’m now moving on to a brighter note. Mr. SLS is a rock star. Unfortunately, the officials announced about 15 minutes before the start of the race that because of the heat, they were shortening the course. They shaved 3 miles off the bike and 3 miles off the run in an attempt to land fewer participants in the hospital this year (last year, they treated over 40 people in the medical tent). Thus, the Olympic distance race became a total of 6 miles shorter. The official times aren’t back yet, but he did fairly well in the swim (it’s not his strong leg), great in the bike, and he averaged around 7:30’s on the run!!! That guy is crazy. That’s like my normal 5K pace on a good day. I am so proud J I may have created a monster J He’s talking about signing up for the sprint distance race the day of my half IM.

More good news: I bought a new helmet. If you’ve seen the WIBA pictures, you may have noticed that my current helmet sits at the very top of my head, making my forehead look about a foot tall. It’s still functional, but it’s not the most comfortable. This weekend I hit a sale at the local bike shop and bought the most amazing helmet ever. It fits perfectly, is better ventilated, and looks totally hot on me! (well, as hot as a helmet can look anyway) I’m pretty sure that now my competition will all run away in fear when they see me on the bike.

The next 3 weeks will be my toughest training ever. More to come on that…
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Good Luck in the Heat!

A lot has been going on this week - up and down like a roller coaster emotionally. I promise to write a long post later (my little sis is staying with me right now, no time for writing long posts). I just wanted to give a quick shout out to all those racing this weekend, including TriAl and TriSara Tops doing a half IM. XT4 is doing Lifetime again this year, and my very own hubby Steve doing his very first Olympic distance tri. I love the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon! The weather promises to be 95-100 degrees and windy. Basically sitting under a blow dryer. Good luck all!
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WIBA Review

I’m back! I’ve been wanting to write all day, but I told myself that I couldn’t sit at my computer until I’d gone for my bike ride this evening. In keeping with the bike themed week, I topped off my weekend with a 2 hour ride. It was slow, but I was dodging people the whole time. I guess everybody wanted to get out and enjoy the night.

Wisconsin’s Ironman Brick Adventure was an amazing weekend. Steve and I got out to Madison on Friday evening and met up with some fellow bloggers for supper. It was great to be able to hang out with fellow Ironmen in training and with people who have finished IMWI. Robby B, Thomps, and Simply Stu are all from the area and were very welcoming.

Saturday at 8 am, we all headed to Fireman’s Park in Verona for the start of our ride. The parking lot was full of cars – our own little transition area for the day. Boy did I have a lot of bike envy! I think we had about 13 people in our group when we started our ride. Robby B, Iron Wil, TriSara Tops, Elizabeth, Thomps, Runbubbarun, and several others were all there. I was a little nervous at first that I wouldn’t be able to keep up and they’d all leave me in the dust. Luckily, the guys kept the ride really relaxed. Although they could have easily left us behind trying to figure out the course for ourselves, they were always waiting to make sure no one was left behind, pulling one of us up a hill, or explaining parts of the course to us. I really can’t thank them enough for all of the time they spent with us. I know I got at least 10 times more out of my ride because they were there, they knew the course, and they were tons of fun!

We had decided on Friday night that instead of doing two loops, we would start in Verona, head up to Madison (normally the last 15 miles of the bike), turn around and head back to Verona (normally the first 15 miles of the bike course), and then do one Verona loop (there are two in the race). The course is often described as a lollipop. The ride we planned comes out at 70 miles.

The stretch between Verona and Madison isn’t actually too bad in terms of elevation changes, but there is one really good sized hill a few miles before entering Madison. When we got to town, I could not wipe the smile off my face. It was so exciting to see the lake and the Terrace and to picture myself there in just over 60 days. I must have looked like a little kid at Christmas. After a near collision on bikes between one of our crew and a local (we got cussed out!), we turned around for the next 55 miles of our ride.

We biked back to Fireman’s Park to refuel and get ready to do the loop. It lived up to its reputation of being hilly, especially when we got to the rollers. Toward the beginning of the loop, Wil had a nasty spill at about 15 mph and landed on her left shoulder. She has a huge raspberry on the shoulder and a lot of bruising on her hands, but that girl is tough as nails.

The hills were tough. I’m not going to lie to you, but they honestly weren’t as bad as I had imagined. I think that all of the talk that I have been hearing led me to believe that they were humongous and somehow impassible. There were some pretty big ones, especially toward the end of the loop, but I just threw my bike into granny gear and never even had to get out of my saddle. I am sure that the hills will be much tougher during the race, especially when I’m on my second loop and have already completed the swim. After seeing them this weekend, though, I know what I’m up against and how to prepare myself for them. I just may be able to pull this off!

Thanks to Robby B and Thomps for providing course directions and knowledge, Simply Stu for providing the music through his singing up the hills, Elizabeth for her endless energy, TriSara Tops for providing us with a prime example of what someone should look like while riding the bike, Iron Wil for providing the action through her spill (and for arranging the weekend!), and everyone else for making it an awesome ride!

The day was warm (about 85 degrees) and a little windy, but September 10th could be warmer and windier. It was a day of full sun. Thank goodness for sunscreen, although I still managed to burn the BACK of my calves and thighs?! I have no idea how it happened. I didn’t even think to put sunscreen there. Looking at me, you’d swear I had ridden my bike upside down or something. Overall, it was a great day for some recon in Wisconsin!

Things I learned this weekend:

1. I am stronger than I have been giving myself credit for.
2. I have the most supportive husband in the world!
3. Ironman is a very strong bond. I commented to Steve Friday night after supper how great it was that I had never met any of these people but felt so comfortable around them. Plus, they were TONS of fun. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time!
4. My nutrition plan is getting better. I love Carbo Pro and Gatorade endurance!
5. I ate over 4,000 calories on Saturday and didn’t even feel guilty.
6. Put sunscreen on the BACK of your legs too.
7. Downhill is crazy fun. I maxed out at 39.7 MPH. I really wanted to hit 40, but I guess it wasn’t time yet.
8. The hills are not as bad as I thought they would be. I’m pretty sure they will be worse than I remember on race day, though!
9. Stu singing Mr. Rodger’s song up the hills is great motivation.
10. Madison is a beautiful place. I can’t wait to go back.
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The Glamours of IM Training

I thought that now would be a good time to throw in some gross pictures :) I've actually been really lucky so far this year in that I don't have too many gross pictures to show you.

Bike Bites

This was actually the second bite that my bike took out of this leg this year, but the first picture was so unflattering that I deleted it. It made my calf look like a tree trunk.

Toe Trauma

I have no idea how this beauty came to be. I suspect that it was caused by a small hole in my sock. I just looked down later that evening and saw it! Note: I have since given myself a pedicure, and that toenail does not look as hideous.

Bra Burn

After all that running in the heat last week, this is all I have to show for bra burn: a small one inch scab. Before I discovered the completely unflattering but AMAZING Enell sports bra, this would have been much worse. Shout out to all of the LRB users out there!

I'll keep you all posted if I have any more gross pictures for you.
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Last Week in Review

I’m back from a wonderful weekend of cabining and figured that I’d better sit down and write about my training last week. It was good, bad, and ugly let me tell you.

The Bad:

* I haven’t been doing much for my abs/core the past couple of months. It’s not built in to my training program, and although I know better, I have only done these workouts when I think of it, which is generally once every week or two. My abs began to protest this past week at about mile 6 of my 10 mile tempo run. I had an oblique muscle cramp up, causing me to slow way down and even stop a couple of times to dig out the knot. I know it sounds ridiculous. I am training for an Ironman, and I am getting side cramps. It feels like I am starting high school cross country all over again. The thing is, these aren’t just puny little breathing cramps. These are double over in pain cannot breath or move cramps. I have no idea what’s going on, but my guess is that the oblique muscle is just a little stressed out and that with a little core work, it will get better. It seems to hurt most with twisting while I’m running.

* Wednesday’s easy 3 miler quickly turned into a 1.75 miler as I cramped up early and didn’t want to sacrifice Thursday’s 75 minute run.

* I took Thursday’s run really slow and stayed within 2 miles of my house the whole time just in case disaster hit. I did 3 ½ laps and did manage to get in over 7.5 miles of very slow running. Better slow than not at all. The cramp was there but not bad, and I only had to stop a couple of times to dig it out.

* Friday’s run had to be cut short because of the stupid side cramp again. I had to stop at about 4 ½ miles because I was cramping up really bad about every 1/10 mile. I was worried that I’d stress it out too much and wouldn’t be able to do Sunday’s long run.

The Ugly:

* After Thursday’s run, I was famished. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the best nutritional choices when I got home. My gut quickly protested the sugar overload that I had fed it, and it all came back up. Multiple times. I felt better afterward, but nothing like that has ever happened to me before. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come…

The Good:

* My legs felt really good all week. It was that wretched oblique that held me back. I was flying on my tempo run before the cramp started.

* My 42 mile bike ride on Friday felt great. Steve came with, and although we didn’t have time to get to the big hills, it was a good ride overall. The route we took was fairly flat with some small rolling hills, and there was barely a breeze. My avg. mph was a full 2 miles faster than 2 months ago on the same course. I’m still slow, don’t get me wrong, but I continue to improve. I kept checking the grass nearby for wind because I’d look down at my speedometer and just be cruising at 20-24 mph at times. That’s never happened before.

* Saturday’s open water swim went much better than last time. I wore my wetsuit for the first time, and although the choking feeling around my neck will take a little getting used to, it went better than expected. Thanks to Steve for letting me borrow his goggles! Leave it to me to remind him 4 times to pack them and then forget to pack my own. I probably made it just under a mile. I tried to slow down a bit and just concentrate on my stroke, and it felt much easier than last time. I was going to go a little further, but a storm rolled in, and the thunder chased me out of the water (didn’t see any lightning but was afraid that it was coming).

* I kept my run on Sunday very slow. PAINFULLY slow. Eleven minutes a mile slow. My legs were screaming at me to go faster, but I held back. So did the side cramp. It was always just below the surface ready to break free, but it stayed there. I ran somewhere between 15 and 16 miles (my GPS crapped out for a couple of minutes in the middle of my run). Again, I figured that it was better to get the miles in, even if the time wasn’t ideal. I felt great when I had finished, did some quick stretching, threw on my swim suit, and went waterskiing.

What’s Next:

I feel like this week’s ab fiasco was a wakeup call. I need to start doing more core work, at least 3-4 days per week. I know my core has gotten stronger as a byproduct of all of the other work I’ve been doing, but it needs a little more individual attention.

Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition! I haven’t been the best about keeping a food diary. I’ve been telling myself for weeks that I will. I’m heading into some pretty hefty hours of training, and I need to make sure I’m putting the right kinds of fuel into my body. It has always been very good about telling me when it needs to eat, but I’m starting to doubt its ability during really light and really heavy training. Also, I’m not a big fan of meat, and protein shakes are hard for me to choke down, so I need to be extra cogniscent of how much protein I’m taking in. I’m not really out to lose weight. I knew when I started training that I would likely drop a couple of pounds as a byproduct of the sheer number of calories that I’d be burning (and at the end of winter I probably did have a couple of pounds to lose). At this point, there’s a fine line between eating too few and too many calories. Eat too few and I risk increased recovery time and decreased performance. If I eat too many, I risk having to haul those extra pounds over the hills of Wisconsin. I also need to work on a plan for what I will be eating for the race. Up until now, I’ve just used whatever bar/gel/drink I’ve had around, but I definitely need to start fine tuning that aspect. My long bike rides and half IM at the end of July will be my trial runs.

This week’s training is focused on the bike and culminates with a recon ride on the IMWI course on Saturday. The plan:

M: swim 2350M, bike 90 minutes on hills
T: bike 90 minutes at an RPE of 4
W: bike 120 minutes tempo pace
Th: swim 500, 5 x 100, 400, 4 x 100, 200, 2 x 100, 100, run 1 hour steady RPE 3-4
F: off/travel time
S: long bike – recon on IMWI course,60 min run afterward
Su: I’ll see how I feel. I may bike some more or go for a decent run.

This is a slight modification of my original program, which called for my day off on Thurs instead of Fri and for my long ride to be split into a 2 hr ride on Sat and a 4 hr ride on Sun.

If all goes well, I will have done my first century (and then some!) ride by the end of the week. I’ll also have a better idea of what those WI course hills look like so I can try to mimic them on some of my rides here in MN. Wish me luck!