Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Swim Testing and Pesky ITB issues

This damn ITB. It wont let up. I get the ice onto it, some Anti-inflams and stretch, roll and then stretch some more and she wont let up. The burning across my knee where the iliotibial band rubs against the bone burns. It's not crippling and it's not stopping me from running if I wanted to. But we (Coach and I) are playing it safe and sensible and looking at a long term fix rather than let's keep rolling on. Problem is I have a race in a couple of weeks. I might make it AND I don't have to race it. Rather, just use it as a training tool and roll on to the big exciting race in April.

The Dextro Challenge is going to be a amazing. Swim in Botony Bay, ride over our famous Harbour Bridge and run through the streets of Sydney ending at the Sydney Opera House. What an opportunity and one I wont want to miss and especially one I want to do my Coach proud in. I'll be wearing his colours and giving it my all.

Speaking of which I have been giving it all I got on the diet front. Focus has been spot on! 100% clean and no excess sugar at all. My diet for now is detailed on my Nutrition page so I wont go at it again. But I have had some good weight loss to date....2kilos in fact in 2 weeks. So I am very happy and this is helping to keep me focused and on track also. With a goal of 58kilos I am asking a lot of myself I know. A reassessment at 60kilos is the aim and for now a weight goal come 12th of April is 62 kilos. The rest will have to come off over winter.

This effort should all pay off in time with weight to strength/power ratios swinging closer in the right direction. This morning however, the low calorie count per day affected me a bit during a swim test with Coach. The set:

1 x km warmup continuous
for time - 500m......9:48mins
1 minute rest
for time - 300m.......5:42mins
30sec rest
for time - 300m.......6:00mins
10 sec rest
for time - 100m.......1:50mins
300m warm down

What this told Coach was all about my recovery and this is a reflection of my fitness. He says he gained a lot of information and that I did really well.

I just wish the ITB would ease and give me a break. I have learnt my lesson Geez....... Don't cram all of your workouts into one half of the week so you can get your bike serviced. Rest is just as important as training! I get it, lesson learnt.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Riding in Circles and Other Such Nonsense

This morning I woke up before the alarm. I love that! 2 seconds later it went off. I hate that! But anyway my girlfriend came to collect me at the usual time and as we do every weekend we headed out for our bike ride. We met the rest of the gang. Smaller bunch this week thanks to Christmas I guess. As we were all gathering my girlfriend starts at me about waiting this week when we do the time trial to make sure everyone was ready. Sure I say. She is all forceful saying that we should pick a speed we can all do and stick to that. Sure I say, but the problem is that we ride with guys. And sorry sweetpea but you are the slowest in the group. Not my fault. The idea of the paceline time trial is to start together in one long line so that all bikes are about 6" off the back of the bike in front. As the guy on the front gets tired he drops out and we swap turns off the front. The pace increases and if you begin to tire then you will be 'dropped' by the train and spat out the back. Last weekend there were four boys and I who left the 5 other girls behind as we time trialed along a stretch of road that goes for about 4kms. And I got spat out. No problemo. Just got to work harder is all.

So this week I dutifully waited when we got the the flat spot and waited for my friend to jump on my wheel and another girl behind her. 2 boys in front I found myself in 3rd wheel. It's a good place to be. Once we were all 'on' the train we set off by increasing the speed slowly. I let the draft of the boys pull me along and ticked my legs over making sure not to go out too hard. I took my turn at the front as the boys rolled through. My girlfriend and the other girl didn't have a go on the front. We were coasting at 30km on a slight incline. We hit a 90degree bend in the road to the left and soared through the apex of the corner and into the straight. It was an amazing feeling. I didn't look behind me to see if the girls were still there. Its too dangerous. I just kept my focus on the boys in front and worked hard as we lifted the speed now at 34kms another slight rise and the road turns a bit gravelly. The boys have dropped me here before and so I worked hard by standing in the pedals and humping up the rise. Sucking their wheels I worked hard til they hit 38kms and then I was done. They pulled away slowly and as they did I got dumped out of the draft zone with about 500m to go to the end, and from there you are hitting the wind yourself and all of the work comes back to you.

I continued to work hard on my own and now I was doing 32kms. I met the boys at the end of the road. Not too far behind. I was pretty chuffed. I know I have to let the boys go and do their speed. It wouldn't be fair to tell them to ease when they have so much more power than me. I chatted with them happily as we recovered and waited for the girls, and waited, and waited.

I met up with my girlfriend and asked how she went. She said she went really well. But got spat out at the very first corner. She said she mananaged to hold 34kms all the way along til the end. hmmmmmmmmmmmmm does anyone else think what I'm thinking?

Anyway, f.b status of my girlfriends this morning at the end of the ride. Had a great ride, was strong all day. Stayed with the time trial and felt awesome.

b*sh*t! got to let it go. Just let it go!

First Day Officially on the New Program

I'm very excited today team. Today I have my new program printed off and ready to go. My new Coach sent it through on Saturday with Monday as official kick off day.

It's exciting in a number of ways.

Firstly - because I have been flopping around with no real direction since my last coach has his accident AND I was recovering from Ironman.

Secondly - becuase of the calibre of my new coach. He is an elite triathlete, physio and nutritionist as well as a certified bike fitter. How can I lose. Not an option.

And so with this in mind I am raring to go. Of course first day back is a swim. Hah. Too funny, I hate getting up early and today saw me up at 5am and wet by 5.30am. I've got it worked out so that I swim and take all my clothes etc for work and then head in to work after the session. Breakfast at work, an early start to the day means an early finish. Its all good!
  • Set today 800m warm up
  • 1200 main set
    •  1 x 200 swim, 1 x 200m pool bouy x 3 rounds
  •  100m warm down
This will build up of course and I'll be doing 3km before long.

Diet - all good. I have my meals set up last night so I just through everything in. Still working on approx 1100 cals. Still low but the the excercise is still not full on either so I am hoping to keep low as I can until I start to get tired and lose energy and then I'll have to adjust.
Yoga tonight. End of year party for yoga afterwards. I'm on sweets. grrrrrr Will have to take fruit or something for a 'healthy option sweet'.

Back in the Pool

Last night was interesing. Tired but still had to pack a bag for this morning. Slightly different to normal I needed to pack swim gear for the pool + breakfast + work clothes.

See today was my first day swimming with my new coach. The pool where he is at is on my way to work and so up at 5.10am and on the road and in the pool by 6am. I was a little concerned about water temp (yeah I am such a girl sometimes) but it was glorious and the sun was up and rising and we knocked out a great (albeit slow) first set back.

Looked alittle like this:

  • 800m warm up
  • 200m, 2x100m, 4x50m - done 3 times 
    • 1 was swim
    • 2 was pull bouy
    • and 3 was pull bouy and small hand paddles
  • 100m warm down
I feel a little tired now but a coffee is starting to do its job.
Diet is still about 95% clean and this morning the jeans slid on a lot easier. I'm hoping for another kilo loss on Monday. Fingers crossed but if the scales don't make me happy, getting the jeans on comfortably already did.
Have a great day team

Dejavu - Time to sign up with a new Coach

Very happy team, veeeeeery happy.

Loss this week of 1.2 kilograms. Woohooooo down now to 66.2kgs. Sweeeeeeeeeeeet!

Eating clean sure does make a difference, funny that.

I had to carb up on the Saturday night before the big bike ride and so I had some potato with my meal. opted for the lamb shank and vegies and enjoyed it. I haven't felt very hungry the last couple of days which was a little concerning as I don't want to go so far depleted on the cals that I slow or stall the metabolism. Still sticking roughly round the 1100 to 1200 cals at the moment. Gauging off my energy levels I think I am going ok though. Plenty of energy and not too tired so I'll try and hold this diet plan a couple more weeks and see how I go.

Tragedy in the shopping aisles this afternnon too. Asparagus and Brocolli and green beans - nowhere to be seen. WTF!!!!
Had to buy frozen beans and substitute asparagus for snow peas (not sure its a good substiution though) and had to put up with sub standard manky old soft and flowery brocolli. Life can be so cruel sometimes team. lol. But I will bend and adjust and overcome...........

Excitement on the coaching front. I meet with my new coach for coffee tomorrow morning at 9am to discuss working together. I am soooo excited I can't sleep. That's why I am blogging at like 11.37pm.

Now I just need to find a new goal, but Coach will guide me on that so next time I'm on here I hope to be as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Black Line Leads Me Home

Ironman Race Report - 6 May 2011

It's dark. I'm running up the finish chute and suddenly my tyre blows out. How can that be I open my eyes and look at the clock on my bedside table. 2.30am ugh! One and a half hours til it's time to get up and start my day and I am not really sleeping. Just running through every possible crazy scenario trying to predict how the day will unfold. Resigned to the fact that I am not going to sleep I concentrate on keeping my mind and body still.
Beep beep beep and the trill of my alarm goes off. Its 4am. I must have finally drifted off. I thought I would be drained from lack of sleep. But I am awake. It is MY DAY!
My stomach isn't awake yet though and I push half an English muffin and jam down my throat and drain a coffee in one gulp. Dressed in my green outfit, including matching green nail polish, yes I am a girl after all, I stand ready, waiting.
We arrive at the transition area. There is a hive of activity. A stream of athletes and their supporters flow into the area and I join the wave mindlessly following the legs in front of me. I find my trusty steed resting where I had left it the day before. Race wheels on my little bike looks the part, dangerous in fact. Intimidation is part of the game and when your bike is dressed to kill you can shatter your opponents without even a glance. But today wasn't about racing and annihilating the opposition. Today was about survival, a possible 17 hours of pain. I finished prepping my bike and headed to find my training buddy who was already pulling on his wetsuit.
I found a gap in the crowd and as I balanced precariously on one leg heaving on the rubber, another triathlete struck up a conversation with me. Are you nervous? he inquires. Is he serious? Hell yes! Why? he asks. Well it's my first Ironman event so I am nervous. Why? he demands. If you have been true to your training then there is no way you should be nervous. It's just another training day. I think harder for a moment about what it truly is that has my stomach twisting in knots. After deliberation I realise it's really not nerves I have. I smile and announce triumphantly....I am not nervous really, I am full on adrenalin. It's the excitement of the event and I can't wait to get it started.  I look at this stranger dressed like a baby seal. Good girl! he states. You will have a wonderful day. All the best. And he dissolves into the Malay.
We stand together all of us with one thing in common. I scan the crowd searching for familiar faces. I have so many supporters including husband, family, friends, training buddies and Coach anxiously waiting for me to come home safely to them. I find my best friend just as I am about to enter the water. She is crying tears of pride for me. She gives me a huge bear hug and sends me off into the blue.
The water is warm, I turn my legs over warming them up more than for floatation. My wetsuit takes care of that for me. There are now 1500 competitors in the water, little red caps dot the water. I spin round slowly scanning the shore line looking for four white shirts, my family. No luck I turn my attention to the crowd and the swim course in front of me. The cannon sets us free.

I ease into the swim not going to hard avoiding the scary hyperventilating that I have felt in previous more intense races. Luckily I find clear water and concentrate on my form. We round buoy after buoy with one particular tricky navigation issue for some as lifeguards on kayaks with whistles screeching direct the swimmers around an oyster encrusted buoy. The washing machine was on full spin. I watched from a safe distance as swimmers were dragged under repeatedly and told myself my decision to go wide to avoid the crowds was a wise one.
Finally the supporters on shore were in sight and I kicked the legs a little harder to get them ready for the bike. My finger tips brushed the carpet protecting our feet from the concrete ramp. Once, twice, ok time to stand up and run. I looked up as I passed through the fresh water spray. The time read 1:09:46 a P.B. I can't believe my eyes. No time to celebrate as I run comfortably through transition 1. I ran into the change tent and volunteers direct me to an empty chair. They were wonderful, they dumped my gear and set it up on the floor so I could easily access everything while I wiped my face dry with a face towel.
I run out along the red carpet towards my bike. I spy my family then waiting for me behind the fence. A high 5 for bro and his fiancé and a kiss for mum through the wire mesh and a wave at dad who is working the video camera and in 3.38mins I am away on the bike.
My mind is talking to me making sure I don't get caught up in the excitement as other bike riders race away in front of me. My race plan was to take the first 45kms easy, concentrate on getting my nutrition in and settle into the day. Also the weather bureau had announced that the wind was from the south south west and that it would pick up throughout the day. So it would be a work out each time and a faster ride home. The course is hilly for the first 10kms, another reason not to go hard from the jump. There is no point in going lactate at this point as anything I put in here will come back to bite me in the run and the run, for me, is the unknown.

The course levels out for 15kms. It's a time trial. Get down in the tri-bars and dial in the legs to churn over and cover the ground. Pain! Ok what's happening? It's a stitch. A cramp courses through my stomach and is steadily increasing with each mile. It moves into my back making breathing difficult. I stop taking on fluid for a while waiting for my stomach to drain a little. I had drunk a lot of sea water. Again my brain kicks into life and tells me to ease on the nutrition and wait. I panic as my race plan already seems to be coming undone, but my sensible voice assures me that to wait will pay off.
A quick toilet stop and a stretch and the pain eases. OK Sammi, get back to work. I hit the turn-around point and the wind is now at my back. My 85mm deep race wheels now act as sails as I am pushed along. The carbon whoosh increases the feeling of flying and my effort increases on the 45kms homeward.
At the 80km point there is a hill. Not just any hill. It's a tough one. Even for the men it is a gruelling grind. Matthews Drive is a 300metre climb. It has a run up but once the momentum is lost the hard work starts. Halfway up there is a kick that forces the rider to work even harder just as their energy is all but depleted. Once over the lip the hill eases again. But the lip beats so many. As this obstacle appears twice on the ride, my race plan was to err on the side of keeping as much energy as I could and hop off my bike and walk the hill. I am not the only one. As I make my first approach I spy others already dismounted and pushing their rides up the hill. I take the opportunity to stretch. My best friend is there panic on her face. I reassure her that this is my strategy and I am ok. This strategy pays off later when I return at the 170km mark and I hear that scores of people have literally fallen victim to the hill and hurt themselves badly. They now carry this pain into the run.
I find myself back in town with people calling my name from the crowd. GO SAMMI! They echo as I head once more back into the wind which is now breathing even harder into my face. It's a hard ride no doubt. But I am not fazed. I imagine it is my Saturday ride and we are simply heading for home from the sea cliff bridge. My mind once more reassures me that I have done harder than this before. I can do this again.
Finally once more at the turn-around point I head for home and as the wind places a firm hand on my back and pushes my tired body home I am filled with a sense of relief. This ride has been hard yet comfortable I still have strength in my legs. After 7:06:03 it is time to run.
Back in transition I quickly change (5.20mins) into my run gear and I thank, once again, the volunteers and hit the tarmac. Lap 1 of 4. This is the unknown; I have never run a marathon before. Not even in training. But I have run 21kms before my mind reminds me, so let's get it done. I head out along the break wall. A long concrete path lined with giant concrete blocks that holds the Hastings River in its place. My race goal here was to run and not walk the break wall. My other aim was to make sure I walked through each aid station to ensure my fluid and nutrition intake was sound. Other than that, the rest was going to be improvised.
sam run.jpg
1 lap down and still feeling strong. One black band sits triumphantly on my wrist. Booyargh Sammi. Lap 2 the legs continue to tick over and I am wearing two black bands. Toilet stops indicate that I am on track with my fluid intake. Friends call their support as I pass by. Children lean out from the crowd hoping for a sweaty, sticky high-5. The day is closing but I am still running. My run is broken up by brief periods of fast walking. Years of yomping (running to a telegraph pole, walking to the next telegraph pole) when I first started to run pay dividends now. As the sun calls it a day and darkness dominates, many runners find it difficult to run again once walking claims them. My mind again calls out to me. Its lap 3 it is time to dig deep. Not quite home but over half way. Further than any Sammi has run before. I have been saving something special for this lap. Coke! My race plan was to save this special treat until the 3rd lap. You deserve it Sammi. Flat Coke. I hate Coke normally but the energy boost you gain from the sugar hit is certainly worth the difficult swallow. As I run down the hill through town my coach appears in the crowd. He is running, beer in hand next to me. His face is a mix of pride and adulation. I have seen that look before but this time the look is there for me. I am lifted again to another place. Realisation, my coach knows I will finish this race strong. I know I will finish this race now too. He hugs me and sends me out onto my last lap.
It's so quiet. People are walking or running slowly in silence. It is so dark I am reduced to only running where the street lights show the road. I can hear Mike Reilly calling people's names as they cross the finish line. The names are a babble but the YOU ARE AN IRONMAN is as clear as a bell. I am at the final turn around point. Across the water the sounds of Mike's voice call me home. I pass a volunteer who asks me what lap I am on. I triumphantly announce that it is my last lap and show him my three black bands. I look down and there is a sign that says 40kms. I inquire Is that sign correct? Yep the volunteer responds and for the first time today I look at the watch I had set on my wrist so long ago. I had 2.2kms to run and 40minutes would see me home under 14 hours. The math ticking over in my head I pick up my pace. I can do this!
At the last aid station I discard my jacket. It was a cheap one I had bought that would now go to charity. One last shot of energy GU and I turn the little pony's head for home. The pace quickens I am wearing my final green band. I cannot believe that my body has carried me this far. My legs burn, knees are aching, inner thighs cramping, feet burning as nerves are trounced into the road. I don't feel anything now. The rush is about to begin. Through the darkness I hear Mike calling me. I want him to say it. I want him to say my name!
The brilliant light hits my face with a welcome slap. The kaleidoscope of colour is mind blowing as neon lights, banners, and supporters faces dance in front of my eyes. I can hear the individual voices of my family and friends from among the single voice of the crowd. My best friend steps out from the crowd and I run into her arms. My legs don't want to stop however and I look up at the time. I gotta go I shout and she sends me on my way. Suddenly fierce, I run for the line.
This line that I have chased for a year, the black line I have gobbled up greedily for so long, that has stretched itself across the miles, along the bottom of the pool, over hills, along countless miles of road. It finishes finally with a single line on the ground. I look up and above me Mike is smiling from the commentary box. All I need do is step over it and I am home. Say the words Mike! Say them! I watch as he opens his mouth to speak. His eyes never leave mine. He says the words I have spent a year training for and 13:50:46 of sweat and determination to hear.
Samantha Bowden YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! And I step over the line.......