Sunday, January 25, 2009

Training and Traveling

The traveling corporate life and ultraman training showed its true colors this past week.  I spent Weds-Sat in Salt Lake City, not the most runner friendly place.  The city itself offers nice running routes but the air, not so nice.  One person said that an hour of outside exertion was equivalent to smoking a 1/2 pack of cigarettes.  I developed a stuffed up head, cough and running nose  my first day there.  When I woke up on Thursday I still felt pretty bad but I figured things probably couldn’t get much worse so I met my traveling running bud at our usual SLC meeting spot at our usual time, 7:00 am.  We ran for just over an hour and then I headed to the Outdoor Retailer show and proceeded to attend meetings, chat with friends and walk the floor, for 8 hours.  Crazy thing, after 2 more days of pretty much the same routine, I actually began to feel better.  I kept telling myself, “Ultraman doesn’t care if you have a cold, there will still be big hills, a long swim and very long days”.

One of the biggest challenges of traveling is  the food choices.  While my friends and coworkers were enjoying  meals at some of the nicer restaurants, I took a cab to the the nearest Whole Foods where I treated myself to some great fruit, soup, and an egg salad sandwich. It saved me the embarrassment of asking to ,”hold the creamy sauce”, “sub the fries for a salad” and say “no, just water for me”.   Don’t get me wrong, I love a treat every now and then but being on the road and training always works better when you eat better.  I got back to my room early, woke up the next morning after 8 hours of sleep and had no traces of a  hangover- 3 anomalies of trade-showing.  

From Monday through Sunday I was able to get in the following:

Swim: Once 

Bike: 3 Times

Run: 3 Times

Strength Training: Once

My most favorite workout of the week was today, I woke up in my own bed, then headed out for a 2:45 mountain bike ride in the snow with Rob and Cadie.  I looked up at one point to see him flying through the woods, her right beside him , all 4 paws off the ground, it was like I never left.

Looking forward to being back on my normal routine this week.  Coach D has added some time to my overall training hours this week, he has lengthened my runs and swims and even gave me an extra day of strength training!  

If any of you who are reading this are training for an event, I would love to hear about your training as well!

Have a great week, see you next Sunday, and as always, thanks so much for your support.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Powered By A Dream

Hi Everyone!

It’s been an awesome week of training. I had a few challenges here and there but was able to motor through. We have an old blind Rottweiler who can’t tell the difference between day and night. Occasionally she will bark and bark in the middle of the night, thinking its morning and wondering why she hasn’t been fed. I think this is where I begin to understand a little bit about what training moms and dads go through (I did say, “a little bit”). While I want to say, “Flex, shush!” I have to walk downstairs (usually around 3:00am), snuggle her and convince her that its still bed time. Then it’s up at 5:00, onto the pool, to work by 8:45, and running by 5:00 pm, all on about 5 ½ hours of sleep.

I remember thinking in the middle of the day after one of my, “barking dog” nights, “I am so tired right now”. I was in one of those meetings at work where 3 people kept saying the same thing, it’s kind of like watching someone go back and forth in a pool. It’s actually almost rhythmic and under the right circumstances, can put you to sleep. I excused myself from the meeting, went to my PC, pulled up the Ultraman Canada ( website, did a quick scan and went back to my meeting. It’s like downing a cup of coffee; I got a “CHARGE” and was ready to go, it’s the power of a dream. People have often asked me, in reference to Ironman, “How do you do it?” If you want it bad enough, you can do anything. Your dreams can power you through anything from sleepless nights to the toughest times in your life. What’s your dream?

Now for this weeks recap:
A great coach has you completing each workout thinking you could go longer and/or faster. That’s how this past week has been for me. It’s hard though, when you have this big goal, you finish with energy, and think, “I could swim another 500” or, “I could run another 20 minutes and round off to 2 hours”. For those of us who come from the “no pain = no gain” days of training, it takes some serious control to end a workout feeling good but if you can do it, the rewards in the end are tell all.

Swim: I swam 4 times this week. My yardage per workout is still less than 3,000 yards but I gained an extra day of swimming. I used pull buoys, paddles and a kickboard this week. It helps to mix it up, keeps me focused and also keeps the soreness away.

Bike: I had 4 great rides this week and I was even able to incorporate a mountain bike event into my training. In the course of 16 miles, there were 5 stops at which you got a poker card, the person with the best hand at the end won a prize. A pair of 4’s didn’t get me very far but it was fun all the same. I added another hour and ½ onto the ride and then went straight to a Burger joint and inhaled a huge cheese burger. My other rides were on the rollers where I pretend I was Lance in the Tour.

Run: Ran 3 times. The beautiful, sunny, crispy clear weather we have had this week has made for some beautiful trail running. Sun rays peeking through the huge trees, a light fog, it makes you actually forget that you’re running. Remember last week when I said that your training blends into the rest of your life? Well, we misjudged the trail loop of our long run and I ended up having to rush to a hair appointment. I made it on time though, with my jeans on over very muddy legs. My very sweet hair stylist opened the door ½ way through the cut, I believe to get some air.

Yoga: 1 session

Strength Training: 1 session

Next week will be a challenge as I balance my traveling corporate life with Ultraman training. At least there is a lap pool at the hotel and I already have a run scheduled with my running bud Sarah. I sure will miss the bike though.

Have an awesome week!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Here we go my friends, I’m in, we’re in!!

This past week has been a blast. It was 2-a days- each day, in the water at 6:27 am and running or cycling later on in the day, or riding early and strength training later. It’s all about the rhythm right now, for example, I know if I get out of the pool at 8:00 and on the road by 8:15, I will have time to make something to eat when I get to the office. This means I will be awake and fueled for any 9:00 meeting that comes my way. However, out of the water at 8:05 could mean a quick bar instead and then everyone in the meeting looks like a different food group.

For those who emailed to tell me that you are training for your first big event, don’t worry, the rhythm WILL happen for you too. The first week (s) can seem so hard, you wonder, “I can’t live the next 8 months this tired and scattered”. The truth is that you won’t. Now is the time to figure out how you will eat within 30 minutes of your workouts and before kids and/or work. Whether it is a bar or a peanut butter-Nutella and banana sandwich, (ugh! I meant to say, almond butter and banana sandwich) or a recovery shake, this part of training is so important, it really sets your energy level up for the rest of the day. I suggest always having healthy bars and recovery shake powder on hand because you will forget sometimes and it’s nice to have something to hold you over until you can eat something more substantial. I like the products from Hammer Nutrition but there are many more on the market. (

When you spend so much time in the pool, running and riding, you begin to make subtle connections between your training and the world around you. For example, I noticed that the lines in the pool were the same colors as my blog page (notice I changed the colors), I was in a meeting on Friday, I looked at a sketch of a top and while pointing at the pocket, I made a comment about the, “pillow” (where I wanted my head to be). Another good one, after my friend Ralph rode me into the ground during a rollers workout, I was so hungry at a meeting that I said, “Yam” instead of “Ram”. I also noticed on the way to work that not all red lights are timed the same and the one just before the I-5 onramp is about the same amount of time as my 50 free repeats (2 lengths freestyle in the pool).

Now for the recap:
My workouts this past week:
3 swims
3 bikes
3 runs
1 strength training

Swim: Coach D has reined me back a bit in yardage which is great because I actually had the energy to do everything else. Clever guy. My workouts were all under 3,000 yards, and a combination of drills, shorter repeats and a timed 1000.

Bike: One of the great things about living in the NW is outdoor winter riding means mountain biking. Mountain biking is great because it really fine tunes your bike handling skills and makes you a stronger hill climber. Also, we can’t forget about the mental benefits of getting off the road, away from the hustle and bustle and into the woods. The fresh air, animals, soft ground, beautiful trees, its all so great and I look forward to it each week. I did one 3:30 mountain bike ride and 2 rides on the rollers. I’m a big fan of the rollers and pick them over a trainer any day. I have found that riding the rollers forces you to develop a faster cadence, it’s either that or, “hello entertainment center, floor, wall or whatever else is around you”. Some people like trainers better because they feel that they offer better resistance, I say, “that’s what mountain biking is for”.

Run: I ran 3 times this week which was a challenge due to the snow and ice. I love running in those conditions on the trails but along the sidewalks near work is another story. My runs were around an hour each with the exception of the weekend where I was scheduled for 90 minutes on the tails. I ran the trails with Rob and Cadie, our usual weekend group. Cadie (our Border Collie) is a constant reminder to always have fun, no matter what. All along the runs and rides, she is hopping up on stumps, jumping over branches, sniffing stuff and of course rolling in horse poo. Just when I want to get serious about a hill, she’ll make me laugh, “Keep it light she say’s, and you will fly like me”.

I’m feeling great and I’m pumped about the next 8 months! For now though, I will focus on next week. Thanks for reading :) See you next Sunday.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

First let me answer the question that many of you have asked, “why?” Am I chasing something? Possibly. Am I a challenge seeker? Probably. I don’t think I have one solid answer, I can only say that no event has piqued my interest or excited me as much as the possibility of competing in the Ultraman. I guess this sort of stuff is just who I am.

These past few weeks have been about preparing my mind, body and general timetable for my Ultraman Journey. I have learned from Racing Ironman’s that you must have a solid base, a plan and a healthy mind, before the first day of training.

My, “mind” preparation began with spending a few days with my good friends Colleen and Howard. Colleen is a great friend and a huge inspiration. She helps me to put things in check and always reminds me that I am capable of achieving so much more than I could imagine. She is a world champion triathlete who has the energy, strength, heart and drive of her horses. I think she has learned a lot from them and I have learned a lot from her. We all have power within us, the key is knowing where it comes from and how to bring it to life, one day with Colleen will show you how.

Another important part of training the mind is fine tuning your methods of handling stress. Stress will have a huge effect on your training, if you let it. Training for an endurance event while working a 40+ hour a week demanding job, inevitably leads to stress. Eliminating as much stress as you can beforehand is a good first start. I know when my most stressful times at work are, my training will have to work around those. For example, a heavy training week during a heavy work-stress week will lead to missed workouts, which leads to anxiety and eventually more stress.
And for those unavoidable stressful times, I have found that lots of sleep, less sugar, less caffeine and a planned massage can really help.

Now for the temple, this poor body of mine that has to put up with all of the hair-brain ideas that my mind comes up with. I have found it helpful to get the nutrition set and tight muscles loose before the first day of training. Each day over the past few weeks has consisted of 1 less cookie, 1 less cup of tea, and only 2 glasses of Merlot each week. I have pulled out those old recipes, that include fruit juice as a sweetener (instead of sugar- don’t worry Sarah, I have fine-tuned the brownie recipe since you tried one last), meal plans that have vegetables as a main course, and I have loaded the fridge with carrots and parsley for the juicer. I have introduced yoga back into my weekly routine and I even pull off the occasional stretch after my run and before I run into the shower and onto my workday.

Perhaps the hardest part of endurance racing is balancing the training with a full time job and a marriage. I am very fortunate to have an incredible husband who has been my rock, through everything. I couldn’t even think of going down this path without him. He is my favorite training partner and he too is gearing up for these next 8 months. Rob- thank you, thank you, and thank you.

The work/workout balancing game is a tricky one. Just figuring out the workouts alone can be overwhelming, which I believe is what leads many triathletes to over training, anxiety and a lack of sleep. Fortunately I have the help and great coaching of my good friend Duane Franks. Duane coached me for my very first Ironman in 2001 and I have been hooked ever since! Duane, aka Dr. Spock knows triathlon, knows training, and knows how to do it without injury. It’s so great to not have to plan out each week, but instead trust in Duane to set me on the right path. I can’t wait to receive my first set of workouts from Duane, the hardest part between now and then will be finding my heart rate monitor!

I want to thank all of you who will be joining me on this journey, knowing you’re there with me makes such a difference. Many of you emailed me to give me your good wishes and to let me know that you’ll be following my blog, thanks so much. If you haven’t done so already, please register as a follower on this blog, it’s the only way I can see who’s following it and I want to be able to email you directly from time to time.

Next weeks blog will include details from my first week of training, which starts this Saturday.

One more thing, I haven’t been accepted into the race yet, so for now, I will just have to, “believe”.

Please see below to learn more about the people I referenced in this blog:
Colleen Cannon

Duane Franks

Ciao for now,