End of the Offseason, Wrap-up

Tomorrow starts the training for Ironman South Africa! Well actually today does, but I have today as a rest day. Back in the pool for the first time since September and on the bike for more than just fun rides.

The offseason was pretty productive this year. It was ~ 2 months long from my last race in late September until now. South Africa is April 15th so I have a solid 4.5 months to prepare. Some things that I accomplished on my offseason:

1. Lots of rest, no stressing on missed workouts (mostly accomplished) and a break from the trainer and the pool!

2. The run has always been my weakness so I took about a week off here (I believe in 2 weeks a year of time off from the run, typically in 2 one-week blocks). The first month or so was pretty inconsistent, but the last month I ran over 100 miles. My running was mostly base work with some what I like to call “micro-intervals” as given by Coach Liz, http://www.multisportmastery.com. I love these intervals – typically anywhere from :15 to 3:00, they are all about foot speed, run economy and keeping some level of fast running in the training without over taxing the body. I have found over the years that running feels mostly awful if I run less than 20 miles a week. Once over that threshold things are much more enjoyable.

3. Along with the run training I made a trip with my athlete Troy to the UVA Speed Clinic. This was a very useful trip as I learned that the issue with my running was something I hadn’t thought about at all! I know I have swimmers posture, something I have worked on all my life but Max taught me how to work on that in my running! I had been sticking my head/neck too far forward, which caused overstriding and issues I have been experiencing in my hamstrings/hips. With a simple cue of “neck back” my posture was suddenly better with very little muscle engagement and I have noticed I am using more of my posterior chain instead of just being a “quad runner”. This trip also motivated me to get back into yoga as it would help with my postural issues.  https://med.virginia.edu/speed-clinic/

UVA Speed Clinic
Learning my exercises

4. I also did 10 yoga sessions that were really helpful for strength, flexibility and mobility. And they were a great change of pace from swim, bike run. http://fiv3racing.com/news/index.php/2017/10/26/why-i-do-yoga-in-the-offseason/

5. Probably my biggest limiter other than time is weight. Especially post-baby that last 15 pounds has been sticking. I focused on no sugar, very limited grains, and limited dairy for 30 days and lost 6.5 pounds. I made some new habits – swapping rice with cauliflower rice, eating a banana instead of a granola bar, etc, that were quite helpful with the weight.

Now on to IMSA. I have some big personal goals. I figure if I write about them I will be more likely to make them a priority. So here goes:

  • PR the Ironman distance. I have done 4 Ironmans, 3 Lake Placids and one Louisville. Other than being hilly one Lake Placid was 4 weeks post broken collarbone, one was less than a year post-baby and the third is my PR when I put up the most training I have ever completed (12:14 in 2011). Louisville I was in great shape but I had a run injury (2012).
    Lake Placid 2011

    Lake Placid 2016
  • Get back to my race weight. 10 pounds to go!
  • Do the training necessary to compete. The last time I did training that I would find suitable to compete well at long course was in 2011/2012. I took 2013-2014 mostly off with IVF/trying to get pregnant and in 2015 I was pregnant with Bode. Since Bode I have averaged in season about 8 hours of training, will need to double that to be competitive. I focused my time on proper execution on limited training since 2015. Now it’s time to tie the execution to training load.
  • Write about the training every 1-2 weeks. I have learned so much from doing the sport myself. I love coaching races and training others, but there is something about making the sacrifices and doing the work that can’t be replicated watching others.
  • Balance family, work and training. When training put the focus on training, when not training put the focus on work or family. Multitasking only goes so far, productivity is the goal.
  • Find a masters program I really love. I really enjoy the social aspect of it, but I need to do a daytime masters program as mornings and evenings are mostly focused on Bode. I am going to try a lunchtime program 2x a week in January. Swimming is clearly my strength, but my best long course fitness came when I swam a lot.
  • Learn to love long rides on zwift/kickr and get outside when it’s cold but dry. This is going to be a challenge. The garage is setup with tv/plex/treadmill/kickr/trx etc so I really have no excuse.
  • Keep the running going. I’m happy where it is right now and hope with the 10 pound weight loss that it continues to go well.

Why I do Yoga in the Offseason

By Coach Shelly

There is something awesome about challenging myself on my yoga mat. I have found it to be a perfect complement to triathlon training in the off-season months. This is not the first year where I have been consumed by the balance that yoga provides in my training (and in my mind). If you have never tried yoga I suggest you try it out. You do not have to be an expert and pretty much every pose can be adjusted to a beginner or a more advanced level. I practice yoga at Down Dog Yoga in Virginia, www.downdogyoga.com. Here are some reasons I make yoga an important part of my off-season:

  1. Challenge. It keeps me interested in doing something active that is “different” than swim/bike/run. I am challenged by trying something new and seeing how I can improve each of the poses. When I do a pose much closer to correct (I’m not going to pretend that I do any perfectly) it’s a nice sense of accomplishment!
  2. Hip Flexibility. Yoga allows me to focus on hip flexibility and range of motion. This is a limiter, especially in my running. My hips are so tight. Yoga is a wonderful way to stretch and strengthen the hips. At Down Dog, we always end the practice with a few minutes in pigeon pose. Pigeon pose stretches the hip flexors and the hip rotators (glutes). It often feels great because I know how good it is for me, while at the same time feeling terrible, because it feels awkward. But afterwards my hips feel so much better.
  3. Focus. Hard poses require a lot of focus. This is an area that many of triathletes need to work on.. When something hurts and is not comfortable, it’s easy to stop the pose. Staying with it teaches good lessons in mental toughness.
  4. Core Strength. Core is the easy thing to forget to do during the triathlon season. It is also the thing that triathletes first drop from their training week. The off-season is a good time to reintroduce and recommit to core work. Yoga has been great to help work on my core, especially the lower back.
  5. Balance. I have a different amount of balance on each side of my body, that comes from a fall from 18 feet, which resulted in a leg break and a 1/2 inch leg length discrepancy. I am unable to properly fire the muscles in my left leg. This is the reason I manage to feel most of my aches/pains/injuries in my left leg. Yoga poses such as eagle and tree allow me to focus on firing my left leg muscles to allow staying upright during the pose. Hopefully focusing on this inequality will help to make my legs more symmetrical and end the feeling that I can run a marathon with my right leg while my left leg is done after 2 miles.
  6. Heat Acclimation. Down Dog yoga studios are heated to 90-95 degrees. There is also a nice humidifier. A 90 minute practice gets “juicy”. These classes will become more important for  acclimation for an early season warm weather race.
  7. Breath control. As a lifelong swimmer, I have a problem with holding my breath. In yoga I am much more aware of breathing as many of the poses are timed and controlled by the breath.
  8. Cleansing. Yoga just makes you feel better. If I have had a bad night sleep, or have a headache, I typically feel back to normal after class.
  9. Injury Prevention. The years I did yoga in the offseason I just felt better when the training got heavy. Less nagging injuries.

Of all the benefits I listed above, the most important, in my opinion, is how I just feel great after class. I have worked hard, had fun, worked on my limiters and did something active that is just different than the normal swim/bike/run.

2017 Ironman World Championships Fiv3 Athlete Preview!

We are excited for our four Fiv3 Racing athletes racing in Kona at the 2017 Ironman World Championships! Here is a little preview of who they are and how they got to the Big Island!

First up in the qualifying year was Coach Kevin Wright! He raced at Ironman Wisconsin and finished 2nd OA, 1st AG with a 9:14 and a 2:51 run split that was the fastest of the day! Next Ironman up he raced the South American Ironman Championships at Ironman Brazil and again finished 1st AG with a 8:53 and the fastest run split of the day with a 2:49! In fact, Kevin has won his AG and had the fastest amateur run split in each of his 4 non-Kona Ironmans (IMChattanooga ’14, IMLP ’15, IMWisconsin ’16, IMBrazil ’17).  We look for big things this year on the Big Island for Kevin as he’s no longer a rookie in Kona (previously raced IMWC ’15)!

Next up was Colonel (ret) Robert Toth! Rob retired from the USAF one week and the next week raced at Ironman Louisville. He had just finished up his first World Championships at the 70.3 Worlds in Australia and was ready to race really well in Louisville. He finished in 2nd AG with a 9:41! A 1 hour and 50 minute PR! Rob had a bit more of a challenging year this year with knee surgery and a move to Fort Worth Texas. He also raced the 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga and we are excited to watch him race his first Kona!

Our next qualifier was Matt Gentile. Matt is an CEO Executive Challenge Athlete which has a different qualifying path than traditional Age Group qualification. His first Kona qualification was in 2016, Ironman Mont Tremblant with a quick turn around to Kona. This year he raced Ironman Lake Placid with a bit more time to get ready for Hawaii. This training year had its own set of challenges, with a bike crash and back injury prior to Lake Placid causing him to miss some key training and training camps. He raced really well at Lake Placid, winning his division and secured a slot for the second year in a row! There are 27 other XC athletes racing in Kona this year!

Our last Kona Qualifier for 2017 was Jason Davidson who qualified at Ironman Santa Rosa. He finished 3rd AG in a PR time of 9:43! He also had a PR marathon with a 3:15! This is Jason’s second Kona after qualifying in the crazy heat of IMCDA in 2015, where he ran himself from 20th or so place off the bike into 2nd place, including moving up 5 spots in the last 2 miles (never give up!!).  Jason has also qualified for the 70.3 Worlds a few times, racing in 2015 (Austria) and 2017 (Chattanooga).

We are really excited for our 4 athletes and can’t wait to track them from home and on the race course!

70.3 Worlds RR – Coach Shelly

Back in the pre-Bode days I tried quite a few times to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I got “kind of” close but never met my goal. After Bode, when he was 6 months old, I qualified in my first race back for the 2016 Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Australia. I was shocked when a slot made it to me and we took it not yet realizing the race was on Bode’s first birthday. Australia was really a fabulous experience and I hoped to qualify again one day. We decided after I had done three 70.3s and Ironman Lake Placid in 2016 that 2017 would be a year of Sprints. That was until I got a Women for Tri slot for my All World Athlete ranking back in February. Hell yes I will take a slot!

I had been doing no biking or swimming and very little running (since Australia!!!) back in February and quickly got back on board with Coach Liz (Multisport Mastery). We started again April 1st with a season laid out as 70.3 Worlds as my “A” race of the year, with a few sprints and the Bay Swim in the spring race season.

Training in some HOT Virginia weather.

The sprints and the bay swim went well. I was really enjoying my training for the fast stuff, averaging between 6 hours (hello sick baby or coaching training camps) to 11 hours. Very reasonable, I won my Age group in the 3 sprints I completed and was happy with my bay swim time.

In July it was time to get serious about my training, both Bode and I got pretty sick on top of that we had a family vacation. That month was a bust.

Driving around Deep Creek on the Ladybug

August 1st I was ready to GO! I had a great month and some of my most solid training post baby! 10-14 hours and my training was really focused. The highlight of that month was the training we did at Deep Creek at Nathan’s late summer training camp. I never felt so prepared for hills that I would face in Chattanooga between Deep Creek and the couple of rides we did on Skyline. My run was also going quite well for me – hitting a 100 mile month for August.

Enjoying some big ice cream post lots of working out

Race week came and we traveled half way down to the race on Wednesday night and the rest the next morning with a few of my athletes that were racing. When we arrived on Thursday we went straight to packet pickup, ate a bunch of pizza at Mellow Mushroom and then headed over to our house on Lookout Mountain. The house was great – we had hang gliders flying right over the house – the views were spectacular!

Hang gliders so close you could almost talk to the person

 

Mellow Mushroom!

It was a little challenging race week as I was racing with two of my athletes on Saturday (Cindy and Denise) and 7 others were racing on Sunday (Chuck, Nathan, Trey, Jason, Kevin, Michael and Rob). I also had a few doing Ironmans all over the world as well as the big event at home, the Reston World Championships! I was a little scattered but tried to stay focused on the race.

Saturday morning I woke up pretty positive and excited to race. For maybe the first time I was excited the swim was wetsuit legal as I really have found a groove with my new Roka wetsuit. I went to the swim start, made a few friends pre-race and was happy to be in the first AG wave as we had a front line view of the Pro start! I had decided as part of my race plan to take the first half of the race like a training day. Not to overdo it in the swim or the first half.

SWIM 33:24 – 34th AG

I seeded myself right in the middle of the rolling wave start. This format was great – very little contact and the current did not seem that bad. The water temp/air temp were just perfect. One of the most enjoyable swims I can remember. Kept it easy and relaxed and came out with my heart rate not too high.

T1 – 4:56

Transitions at both of the 70.3 Worlds I have done are quite long. Lots of athletes and you do bike and run gear bags like an Ironman. There were wetsuit strippers and everything went calmly until I tried to put my bike shoes back into the bag instead of carrying them to my bike (long run, chose to run barefoot until my bike).

BIKE 3:03:31 – 94th AG

I took the first 5 miles VERY easy. I honestly didn’t feel that good. I think you want to feel perfect the whole race but it just doesn’t happen. Kept telling myself, just take it easy and it will improve. Good news is it did. I loved the climb at this race. It was not easy, but never felt hard. I had told myself that I was going to get passed a lot on the climb and it definitely happened. Combination of a speedier than average swim and a climb (not my strength from a height/weight perspective) – this was going to happen. And it did! I only got passed for the first 15 or so miles! And that’s ok – I told myself I would see some later – and I did. I wanted to keep my watts as low as possible. I was at ~75% FTP for the first 5 miles. At the top of the climb I was at 91% FTP – oops I went as easy as possible and it was still quite high. The top of the mountain was rollers. The highlight of the ride for sure was when my guys came out to the course, took off their shirts and shook them like a lasso over their heads. I could hear ladies behind me hooting and hollering. Fun!

I was really excited for the downhill – as I had driven it and the guys had given me a report when they had ridden it the day before. I knew I could go down it brake-less and that most athletes were going to be focused on the uphill and not how to optimize speed in this section. Oh and this is a place my height/weight combination is a big help! I passed a ton of Ladies here. This is when the passing started – and passing many that passed me on the uphill. Was very fun!

The rest of the ride I honestly felt better than I have ever in a 70.3 I was fueled, excited and just having fun. Oh and I was still passing as many as passed me which is a much more positive race experience! I ended up drinking 4 bottles (2 osmo, 2 GE) and eating 3/4 of a powerbar, 6 salt stick tabs and 50mg of a caffeine pill at mile 40.  I was singing “Drop it Like it’s Hot” in my head. And I did – ended up at 86% FTP for the ride – way above goal.

T2 – 1:55

This one was fast. Bike catchers, got my shoes on and left. In retrospect I was quite speedy and made up a tiny bit of time here.

RUN 2:02:25 – 173 AG

Some of the Fiv3 cheering squad

My goal for this one was sub-2. Which I knew with the heat/hills was going to be a huge challenge. My 70.3 PR is 1:53 on a very flat course and this was pre-baby (aka when I used to train A TON MORE). At Australia last year I ran a 2:06 on a cooler day, much easier course. I was REALLY happy with this run. Especially with the watts I rode on the bike! From the start my legs felt fantastic.

I kept the first out and back controlled, but was hard as there was a ton of crowd there. The first big hill loomed and definitely ran it a bit too hard (my max heart rate for the entire race!). At the 4 mile mark I was still sub 9 and I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to keep that kind of pace on the relentless hills but I did my best to keep pushing. It was great to see Scott and Kevin so many times on the course! And I got another “show” from the guys when I went over the veterans bridge – SO FUN!

I sometimes find my mind wandering on the race course – especially when the run gets hard but this time I tried to focus on finding tips and things I could tell my athletes that were racing the next day. The format of the ladies getting to race first certainly helped me to focus on what I could tell the guys for the next day.

Not much to say here but the run hurt like it should and I don’t feel like I could have gotten much more time out of this race than I did. My midpack finish was actually another one of my goals for this race. I know that my racing is not 100% my priority anymore between my family and my athletes but I am glad I can still do these things and really enjoy them. I really focus on making smart execution plans/decisions and following them through. Do the little things right that are easier to implement than another 5 hours of training a week. Many thanks to Coach Liz who helps me focus the time I do have. As always thanks to Scott for not only enabling this crazy life we have but also being my number one supporter!

Coach-Spectating on Sunday:

The celebrations after the race were quite epic as well!

That view from our house was noteworthy