Friday, July 11, 2014

Pregnant is not a synonym for Invalid

Ok I promise this wont turn into a total pregnancy blog, I have some fun ones coming up recapping my adventures using a borrowed bike at TriRock Philly and the MaccaX Training camp before Challenge Atlantic City!  I'll still be training away and exploring Colorado over the next few months :)

Obviously some things have had to change.  Gone are the 20+ hour training weeks, pushing my body to the limits mixing intensity and volume and seeing what this body is capable of.  That doesn't mean I'm going to spend the next 5 months sitting on the couch and eating bon bon's :p  Its been great having access to the blogs of some professional female athletes that have recently had babies to see what they went through and that I am not totally insane training (well I call it training but its more like exercising) through my pregnancy as long as the doc and my body give me the ok.  One thats been great has been Beth Gerdes blog.  She is a professional triathlete that just had her little one and is navigating getting back into training and a newborn with an Ironman on the books in the next few months.

As for me it's been a variable schedule just being sure to listen to my body, some weeks were just above 10 hours in the 1st trimester with the fatigue and nausea making even that tough!  Now I'm back into a routine and the 2nd trimester is honestly a breeze, symptoms are gone, I'm not really showing yet and energy is back so there should be some consistency around 15+ hours a week, but its mostly aerobic so its not too stressful on the body!

4 months along, not much to show yet!

This weeks schedule:

Monday: 45 minute swim, 60 min bike at MAF, 45 min Strength train
Tuesday: 2 hour run scheduled...but ended up being a rest day! Blood drawn and a house of contractors by the time I got a chance to run I was exhausted so I cut the run.
Wednesday: 60 min swim with drills, 3 hour bike ride w/ 4*20 minutes zone 3 (yay a little bit of work outside of MAF feels soo good!)
Thursday: 70 min run with strides in the morning, 50 minute run at MAF in the afternoon, 60 minutes Yoga
Friday: 30 minute swim w/sprints, 60 minute bike ride MAF.

Saturday and Sunday are still to be determined but likely a 2-3 hour ride on saturday and a 2 hour run Sunday.  Love it, Lucho adjusts my training and gives it to me 24-48 hours in advance so he can keep an eye on how I'm responding and adjust accordingly, before it was to keep me on the razor edge getting to peak fitness, but now its so I don't overdo it.

So, not quite sitting around on my ass these days.  To help with that I got the BEST baby gift from the hubby!  I must have lost my mind to want this, but I think its more this triathlon obsession that rattled my brains than baby, I got a treadmill!  I never thought I would be so excited about drawing on my inner hamster and run while not going anywhere.  I love my toys and this thing is pretty bad ass, it has incline, decline, fans, wireless, I can map any route on google, wirelessly upload it and it will show me the street view and adjust the elevation as I run through!  It will be awesome when baby comes along and I cant get out of the house to run, I can just cruise on this, not to mention I can program any race run portion and get a feel for the course beforehand.  Right now its being used to get out of the heat, its been over 90 degrees here the last few days so I've been on the treadmill so I don't cook the baby!

Street view of the beginning of the Kona Run!
Yesterdays run, did some video work for analysis.

Now heres the fun part, as soon as you get pregnant EVERYONE becomes an expert on your body and pregnancy...seriously.  There has definitely been some unsolicited advice along the lines of the baby will fall out if I keep running, or I cant swim because my water will break and I wont know it did and that I'm in labour.  Its not completely new, most endurance athletes have had the friends and family tell them how they are killing their knees, hearts, and call them crazy and overambitious to do this insane sport (ok cant really blame them for that part it is crazy).

I know a lot of it is said out of concern for my wellbeing, but at the end of the day I'm going to do what my doctor advises and what feels right.  If you have experience as a pregnant athlete, I'm always looking to learn more, if you've never been pregnant and heard from a friend who knew someone who's 2nd cousin got pregnant and ran a disastrous mile I'm not interested.

So I apologise in advance if I stick my tongue out at you and keep running by as you tell me baby is about to fall out :p  Thats all for now, I'm going to go torture my pregnant ass with the foam roller and I promise I'll get back to the training and travelling fun with the MaccaX crew, stay tuned.

Carpe Diem

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BIG NEWS & Ironman 70.3 St. George Race Recap

This is long overdue, but I didn't have much to say between when I found out and now without letting the cat out of the bag!

So I am writing this a few days after Ironman 70.3 St. George so everything is fresh in my mind, but by the time you are reading it, it will be June or July!

This race was very unique, and a challenge in a whole new way for one very big reason...I had some company for the race...


Before I recap the race a little update.  The 1st trimester is over, that was an adventure trying to train around the insane fatigue and nausea.  I've slowed down a lot, my MAF pace is about 2 minutes/mile slower than it was a few months ago, my heart is busy pumping away the extra blood volume and making sure baby is taken care of.  I tell ya 25 hour training weeks have nothing on pregnancy fatigue, that was out of this world!  I'm back into a training schedule these days, but its all aerobic work but some very short bits of intensity or ME work, I'm still able to do a fair bit especially now that most of the symptoms are gone and I'm not really showing yet.  My doc has been monitoring my blood work and cleared me to do as much as feels good, and right now I'm feeling great, but I have my trusty coach Lucho to keep me in check, and I will be working with him throughout the pregnancy.  Some interesting results from my blood work, I was really curious to see what it would look like as I was consistently doing more volume and intensity than I had ever done before (even in the peak weeks for Ironman) at elevation for a few months.  I felt like my body was absorbing the work, but it was cool to see the 1st results from the blood work right when I found out I was pregnant, everything was right where it needed to be, thyroid, iron levels, and it turns out this elevation works my hematocrit was sitting at 46.  Cool to see that my body was absorbing the work, and I was in perfect health to be home to a growing baby even though I had been piling on the Ironman training load.

Ok Back to the race:

So needless to say my racing strategy had to change a bit for this one.  We had started trying to start a family after Ironman Kalmar last year, and thats why my race season has been so last minute and I haven't been able to confirm much, I didn't know if I would be racing much this season.  Even though I wanted another shot at that Kona spot being 14 minutes off qualifying last year I didn't sign up for an Ironman.  I did plan on doing Challenge Atlantic City and had been training hard for that, but that was something I knew I could sign up for later in the season instead of Ironman where you usually have to commit a year in advance.  

Well funny enough about a month ago it still hadn't happened so I decided to throw a big race on the calendar, I couldn't keep waiting around and doing everything last minute so March 23rd I signed up for Ironman Canada...April 6th I got pregnant :)  

Ok back to Ironman St. George, I found out I was pregnant two weeks before St. George.  I'll admit it was a shock after trying for a while, and my head was instantly filled with happiness, worry, excitement and questions.  So I did what I always do and started trying to learn everything I can, especially about exercise and pregnancy, and started trying to decipher the American Health Care system to find a doctor.  Next Lucho.  First I told my husband, then my mom, then Lucho :p.  I wanted to hold off telling people until the 1st trimester when things are more likely to proceed all of the way through to a healthy birth, but I couldn't follow a 20+ hour training schedule, things were going to have to change!  "Soooo I have some big news" (after skipping 2 or 3 days of training which is unusual for me) "Are you pregnant??" "YES!!!" is pretty much how the conversation went, I swear he was almost as excited as I was :D.  

This is where it pays off to have an experienced coach, he has worked with pregnant athletes before, is a dad so has an idea of what his wife went through and had suggestions of resources and people to talk to.  So we talked a lot about the race and his opinion was to talk to my doctor, but with the last few big training weeks hitting well above 20 hours a 70.3 wouldn't be a huge stress to my body with the caveat that I don't race it like I usually would, with strict HR guidelines to hold me back.  So I talked with my doctor, and after dissecting my history and training the last few months, along with very positive blood test results, she gave me the go ahead with a number of guidelines around listening to my body, HR and feel.  The last question she asked before giving me the go ahead was can I hold back my competitive nature and put the baby first.  Priorities changed the instant I found out I was pregnant, I knew I could put my urge to win aside for the health of this little blueberry on board.

The race went pretty good, I was nervous with forecasts of 95 degrees race day, I knew I would have to keep it pretty comfortable effort to keep from cooking the baby!  

The Swim: 
Panic Attack! Crap, I stopped having these in the back end of last year once I got more comfortable in open water but turns out after 6 months of no open water swimming or wetsuit it returned, I'm sure it will go away with a few more open water swims...hopefully.  The buoys were easy to see and follow, still I managed to do some extra distance, I definitely need to work on sighting and going where I sight!  I probably went easier than I needed to but the freak out in the beginning had me cautious.

The Bike:
Here is where I realised how hard this was going to be.  It wasn't the heat, the bike course was tough but mild compared to some of the riding I had been doing in Colorado, the canyon was solid but nothing that had me too worried.  The hard part was letting my competition go by!!!  I was sitting at lower watts than I raced Ironman last year, my legs felt great like we were just cruising along, but I had to hold back and keep my HR from getting too high and it was busy pumping all of the extra blood my body was making for baby.  In racing I have this seek and destroy attitude, I come out of the swim down and the fun starts I get to chase down the competition getting a little boost from everyone I pass.  I was in phenomenal shape so I still did some passing but had to let people go when they passed me.

The Run:
Well legs were fresh! The run starts with a 3 mile uphill, which sucks in the beginning but that means the finish line is downhill, and I LOVE running downhill.  Lots of practise in Scotland running hard downhill at the end of long runs my legs can handle it without destroying my quads.  This was a beast of a run course, hilly and hot.  Hills on the bike I can do, hills on the run are my weakness.  There was no flat, no chance to get into a rhythm and again had to keep HR and effort in check.  Again I spent most of the time fighting the urge to go after people who passed me! 

The Finish - 5:31
Ok this was bizarre, usually at the finish line of a 70.3 I am dying, I look like I could collapse at any second totally wasted.  Well this time I cruised across, got my medal and water, and well felt fine.  It sucked :p 

I am so in love with this course though, it was tough but stunning.  I definitely want to come back and give it another crack!

While so drastically different racing experience, it will be very cool to tell this little blueberry about his or her racing resume with mommy.  It was hard not pushing to my potential, but at the same time I kept smiling to myself thinking about this shared experience and the new adventures that are ahead.  I have lots to catch up on, 2 weeks ago I went to Philadelphia to race TriRock Philly my first Olympic Distance and then to Atlantic City for the Team MaccaX camp and to cheer on my team mates doing the race :)

Stunning course!

Terenzo Bozzone

Andy Potts

Scoping out the finish line pre-race

Monday, March 17, 2014

24 hours & Heart Rate Variability

24 hours...of a week...madness.  (well 24:44 if we want to be exact..and us triathletes are nothing if not exact with training data & numbers :p)

Stats for the week:

Swim: 13,730yds
Bike: 254 miles (408 km...damn I should post everything in km looks more impressive)
Run: 28 miles (45km)
(Strength training and foam rolling in there but not included in time)

Last year was insanity fitting in training with starting a freelance Personal Training business trying to get that up and running spending hours at a gym trying to convince people who didn't know they wanted a Personal trainer that they needed one, and more specifically me.  It was a challenge to say the least, if I didn't sell my services I didn't get paid and I had zero experience.  Somehow my background in Project Management didn't seem to apply to this new vocation :p  It ended up working better than I could have thought but that made training a little more challenging trying to balance work, being on my feet all day, and training.  Last year I spent between 13-17 hours a week training with the exception of 2 peak weeks that were closer to 20.

Well this year is a little different.  One I have a full triathlon season under my belt, and found out that I'm pretty durable, two I have a whole lot more time to train.  I'm not working at the moment, and would go insane if I had nothing to do so I'm training (well nothing to do and the fact that I absolutely love the training and am pretty obsessed with triathlon may play a small part) :p  Luckily I have my coach Lucho to keep me in line or else left alone with all of this time on my hands I'm pretty sure I would end up an overtrained mess pretty quickly.  Its funny he has a way of pushing me beyond intensities I would think I could hold, and holding me back from over doing it at the same time.

Now not every week is going to be 24 hours of training (and this wasn't a planned 24 hours), but I am hoping to do more than I have in the past.  Goal number one though is to be able to do it while staying healthy and not hitting that overtraining minefield.  I'm doing a couple things to make sure I stay healthy during this, one of which is Heart Rate Variability.  I first heard about this from Tawnee Prazak on Endurance Planet (Pretty much got most of what I know about triathlon/nutrition from that podcast). I use the SweatBeat app, which is pretty cool, its an app on your phone and it connects to a bluetooth Heart Rate monitor.  Luckily I already had the monitor from using the MaccaX app training sessions, I have the Viiva 4iiii.

Side note Endurance Planet has kick ass gear now!

To get started they recommend you calibrate it after a few rest days to get a baseline, it worked out well I decided to start playing with it near the end of my off season when I hadn't run in a month, so I was able to set a baseline really rested.  What the test entails is putting on the HR strap when you wake up, lying still and just relaxed breathing.  Pretty easy, and stark contrast to everything else we do in this sport (like foam rolling..ouch).

From SweetBeats HRV guide, why HRV is important to performance sports:

"In competitive sports, improved performance is often achieved by alternating periods of intensive 
training with periods of relative rest. This is because after the body has been exposed to a stressful 
situation, providing that adequate recovery has taken place, it will adapt and become stronger. The 
alternating periods of intensive training and rest help an athlete avoid physical fatigue caused by over 

To better understand this, consider the function of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS has 
two branches, the sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic branch increases heart rate, 
blood pressure, cardiac output and a diversion of blood flow to the muscles. The parasympathetic 
branch decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and generally creates an environment for the body 
to repair itself. Not surprising the parasympathetic branch is very active during restful sleep. 
Heart Rate Variability, or HRV, is in essence a view into the ANS. By measuring your HRV, you can detect 
when the sympathetic branch is in overdrive and inhibiting the recovery and repair capabilities of the 
parasympathetic branch. Overtraining can create a sustained imbalance between the two branches of 
the ANS and can lead to a multitude of unwanted side effects."

Basically when your HRV is high, you are ready to train and kick ass, when its low it may be time for a recovery day.

I was tracking my HRV pretty sporadically, I think there is definitely something to it, but am still hesitant to trust an app to tell me how I'm feeling.  I did start using it more as training has started to pick up and see how it relates to how I feel and am pretty impressed with how accurate it is.  If nothing else it's a great way to prove to my coach I'm feeling as awesome as I say I am...even after tough training sessions :p

Some of the numbers I've seen: There was a week before my last duathlon that was the only time I've felt tired so far this year and it showed HRV in the high 70's that week.  After last weeks 100 mile ride and brick run it went down to 84.  After the 24 hour week it went into the high 80's but 2 days later came back up to mid 90's.  I know recovery is my strength and I bounce back quickly, so its been interesting to see that reflected in the data.

My latest, and the trend.
The other thing I've discovered...shots of tequila in Austin, TX are bad for my HRV.  Shocking I know.  Now I only seem to drink around triathletes, and most of these posts are about triathletes so you may get the idea I drink a lot...but I really don't, and a real night out really hits me hard!  We were in Austin for a wedding, and it was the day before my birthday.  So after wedding festivities we let loose on 6th street and there were a few shots consumed...The next morning Lucho had a long run on my schedule, lets just say that was not happening, out of curiosity I checked my HRV...55!!  It took 4 days to get it back into the 90's and I could feel the lingering effects to say the least.  So tequila is bad for training, lesson learned. (I still maintain that beer is the ultimate recovery drink post race for no scientific reason).

I'm still going to use listening to my body as the first indicator though, technology is very cool but after the last year of learning to listen to my body I know its going to tell me what I need.  Now that I'm not a stubborn mileage obsessed athlete I used to be :p

The 24 hour week.  It actually wasn't going to be that long, but I ended up doing a coffee type cruise on the Sunday that was so much fun just to enjoy being on the bike, chatting with like minded people and stop at a popular coffee spot to ogle the different bikes.  The schedule had a hard brick on it, and I was feeling good that afternoon so I decided to do a shortened version of the hard brick to get some of the intensity in.  It was definitely a bike volume focussed week, getting very familiar with Stiletto (my Shvi) and the new bike position.

Anyways thats my rambling for the day, loving training right now.  Its been alternating snow days, and sunburn days here in Colorado so I'm already starting to get some nice burn tan lines from getting outside anytime I can and soaking up the sunshine.  Just doing what I love.

Carpe Diem

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bike Fit Fun & What to expect

Somethings just not quite right...well as right as it can be sitting your ass on an itty bitty saddle for 100's of miles propelled by your own legs, trying to scrunch yourself into an aerodynamic position, typically ending in the same spot you started...

1st bike fit at the top, 2nd bike fit position below - lean mean and aggressive!

And yet I love it.  No wonder people think we are insane.

I messed with it. I had a bike fit done when I first bought Stiletto, and the plan was to get the initial fit done and then there is the option to come back afterwards to make adjustments after riding for a while to dial it in.  At least there should be with a good fitter fitterist fitologist (that just makes me think mixologist, and then I want a margarita).  The first fit was great on the front end, but the seat was a lot farther back than I was used to, since last year I was riding a bike that was too big and had to slam the seat forward.  That resulted on my calves having to take up a lot of the work, and by the time I got to running off the bike they had nothing left.

Unfortunately my truck died, I know shocking that an '87 Toyota pick up, with a bench bolted in the bed, that I got for like $800 died, I mean it should have been the picture of reliability :p  So with the shop being 50 miles away in Boulder and winter outside couldn't get back up there.

So I fiddled.  I tweaked.  Move this thingymagiggy (technical term), and my knee aches, move this whatchamacalit and my quads feel like bricks, don't even get me started on what happened when I adjusted the angle of the doodad.

I got it to a place where it felt ok on the trainer, but when I finally got to venture outside it just didn't feel right and running off the bike felt blah.  So I finally decided it was time to go back to the fitologist and get dialed in.  I had great experience with a Retul fit in Scotland and found a shop in Boulder - Colorado Multisport being fit by Ryan Ignatz - that used the same system so I went back to them.  (not sponsored by them or anything just a great experience)

Here is the bizarre part about living here, you can't spit without hitting a professional athlete.  I found out on a ride the next day my bike fitter is a pretty bad ass Pro Xterra Triathlete.  No wonder he seemed to know a little about this sport.

So what to expect from a bike fit:

First is the questionnaire.  Why are you here, what's wrong, your goals and the latest triathlon gossip.

After the gossip they make you do some calisthenics, see if you can touch your toes (I can't), hip flexibility tests, and some strength tests like single leg squats (yay didn't fall over).

Following your calisthenics session, they will have you hop on the bike and start pedalling.  If pedalling has ever felt natural or comfortable, wait until you have someone watching each stroke.  Suddenly you wonder what you are doing, thinking should I be pedalling in a circle?  Or more like a box? Have I always wobbled my knees?

The fitologist will then stand looking very intensely at your bike, with a furrowed brow like they are figuring out the ultimate question to the answer of 42 (and if you got that you are a geek :p).

Once they have solved the questions of the universe they will proceed to move many whosits and whatsits by millimetres.  Occasionally asking you to jump back on and get into a comfortable position and pedal, hum and haw and then continue their adjustments.  If you find a fitologist that is great at multitasking the triathlon gossip and tips will continue through this process keeping you entertained.

And then THE question comes up.  How aggressive can we go.  I let him know what my goals were and since I'm looking to use my bike to get me on podiums we decided to play around and see how low can I go (no not doing the limbo...although that would be fun if the shop busted out with coconut bras, steel drums and a limbo bar) and still run well off the bike.  Last fit I had some homework to do on hip flexibility and strengthen my gluteus med so that this position could be achieved.  Ended up moving the front end down an inch (or 2.5cm) and moving my bars/pads/seat forward.

Bike fitters have a tough job of making you aggressive but comfortable enough that you will be able to put in the miles, and as A type people most of us triathletes just say go lower, go lower.  They have to evaluate what we will actually be able to ride based on body type, flexibility, experience, history.  I've had some push back in the past because, yea, I've owned a bike less than 2 years and don't have much experience, but the bike has ended up being my strength and I'm pretty sure the years riding a super sport motorcycle should count for experience :p  Luckily Ryan took it all in and evaluated strength/flexibility and said, yea we can go aggressive.

Ok adjustments made, got a good workout in jumping on and off the bike and spent some quality time drooling over equipment in the shop I want.  Time to hop on to do the last test to see how the position feels.

Now I don't want to be dramatic or anything but when I started pedalling and settled into the new position it felt like magic, like I could go out and give Rinny a run for her money ;) (Its possible...if I didn't have to swim or run...and had a big head start on the bike).

Next up the pedalling analysis.  "You're doing it wrong" Ok he didn't really say that in so many words but he had some ways to improve my running off the bike and suggested some of the issues I was having wasn't the bike.  Now you think how many ways can you adjust moving your foot around in a circle when its fixed to the pedal??  A lot apparently, I have a tendency to point my toe down and give up the power house that is my gluteus (never thought of my ass as a power house), putting more stress on smaller muscles that fatigue quicker.  So homework after this visit, use my gluteus.  I also got a laundry list of things to think about on the bike and pay attention to, and what requires another visit if it feels off.

New position I've never ridden in and it feels more comfortable than the position I've been riding for months, I think this visit was a success.  BUT the real test comes when I get outside and put some power to the pedals and then see how the legs feel off the bike.

What better way to test than a long ride and hard brick, stay tuned for the results!

Carpe Diem