Thursday, December 18, 2014

Operation Chlorination

I've known since early Nov that something was very wrong with my left foot. In 2011 & 2012 I had pain across the top but it was manageable with regular ART treatments & in Oct 2012 it went away until mile 16 of Ironman Wisconsin this year. 15 days off running following the IM bought me about another month of running including a 10 mile Halloween fun run in costume, but on Nov 6th the pain reached a whole new level and my foot swelled up like a sausage. Things hit rock bottom on Tues Nov 11th when I could no longer walk or put any weight on my foot and x-rays on Nov 14th confirmed a 3rd metatarsal stress fracture. I was trying to hang onto some fitness for the 6,000M USATF MN XC Championships on Nov 15th otherwise my season was over, but that was obviously a no go.

I have spent the last 5+ weeks in a boot and will get it off for good after 6 full weeks on Dec 24th. It took 3.5 weeks to be able to walk pain free with the boot on & 4.5 weeks until the inflammation was totally gone & I could try a little walking around the house without the boot & get back on my bike for some easy spins. Just this week my dog and I started walking to the mailbox every other day without my boot. It's all of about 100 yards but it is something I couldn't do 5 weeks ago with my boot. There were days early on I found it much less painful to slide down the stairs in my house on my butt then struggle down them on foot & days where a 4,000 yard swim was so much easier then walking slowly through the grocery store.

Luckily I have been able to swim without walls throughout & do a limited amount of strength training. (New this week I switched from 1 leg push-ups and planks to 2 legs! My left foot can now comfortably handle my body weight in a bent position) I knew the first week in my boot would be the hardest physically and mentally so I needed some kind of a big goal to distract myself. With swimming as my only option I reverted back to my Jan Swim Challenge in 2012 to take note of my previous highest volume week in the pool and decided I was going to do 150 push-ups on one leg everyday for 7 days and put in my biggest swim week ever, operation chlorination. 

Previous biggest swim week Jan 1 - 7, 2012 = 27,450
New biggest swim week Nov 10 - 16, 2014 = 27,800 with a full day off!
*My swim volume was pretty high before I did this monster week, 6 swims a week over 3 days was working best with my schedule since I restarted training after IMOO until my stress fracture diagnosis. 2,000 to 3,500 per session x 6. I didn't go from 0 to 27,800!

It would have been fun to do another 31 Days straight of swimming but it just didn't work with vacation, family, & Thanksgiving, those 3 things were much more important to me.

Mastering the Swim Double (Or Triple) - if you are injured like me or want to challenge yourself

- You must have more then one suit! If you are doing doubles your suit will not be dry before it's go time AGAIN. Who wants to put a wet suit on in the freezing MN winter? Not me! Get over to Gear West Bike, Elsmore or Run N Fun and get some more swimsuits! All Fox Endurance coached athletes get a 15% discount at Elsmore! Thank you Elsmore for your continued support!

- Do swim #1 so early that you are still half asleep and your brain can't fully comprehend what you are doing yet. In the winter we start practice at 5am on Mon, Wed, & Fri. When I swim at the crack of dawn and then go to work during the week or take a nap on the weekends it honestly feels like a different day when I go back for #2. My body usually has had time to recover & my brain has forgotten about the first swim already.

- Do your longest swim or harder workout in swim #1. It is mentally easier to go back to the pool knowing you have less yards to complete or a shorter or easier workout.

-Bring/Eat calories before! I can make it first thing in the morning for an hour swim or about 3,000ish yards without breakfast and just Himalayan salt + water in my bottle but after that I am toast if I don't have fuel. If I am swimming more then 3,000 yards, a banana or Lara Bar on the way to the pool or some kind of snack is a must. Typically before any morning swim I will eat something similar to what I would eat about 30 - 40 mins before starting an IM, about 100 - 250 calories + Himalayan salt or unrefined sea salt. This is not my IM race day breakfast but rather my pre-race snack. It sounds like common sense but since most Masters classes are so early people skip breakfast to sleep longer or just aren't hungry yet. If you want to put in mega yards you have to feed the beast! Long course training/racing is largely nutrition and mental, if you don't have enough calories in your system or the right state of mind, your fitness doesn't matter.

- Swim with other people! This makes the workout go by so much faster, pushes me harder, and is much more fun! I also do a bit of weekly swimming alone so I can swim super slow without holding up my Masters lane and focus on drills and form. I am known to spend a good 5+ mins chatting on deck before actually getting in the water bc I love the people in my group so much. Swimming alone from time to time let's me get right to business & focus on my own limiters but I prefer to swim with others for at least 85% of my weekly volume.

-If you can find a bathtub temp pool, (we have one in Chaska, it is so hot everyone rides home with their windows down in sub zero temps) it doubles as secret heat training for warm weather races. If you are training for a hot race in a MN winter, I don't get any warmer then swimming hard in a hot pool. The heat discomfort tops biking on the trainer in front of my fireplace and overdressed runs.

-The best kind of double is a Masters group that has 2 practices in a row. I go to one at 5am and another at 6am. 4,500 - 6,000+ yards done before 7am. 2 different groups of people over one long session makes the yards go by very quickly!

After the week 1 blues passed, I had no choice but to accept my situation & once the pain went away at rest (sitting or lying down) the time went by fairly fast thanks to an 8 day Thanksgiving vacation, family, friends, the holiday season, tons of cooking, Christmas shopping & work. If there is ever a time of the year for a stress fracture in MN this is it! Minus my boot tracking snow all over the house! 

 OWS @ Sebastian Inlet State Park

Indian Harbor Beach saltwater pool. Best pool hours ever, lap swim from 5:30am to 6:30pm/9pm depending on the day, 7 days a week! Open almost 356 days a year, even open on Thanksgiving Day!

I have been doing a lot of runless bricks to keep things interesting. Swim to aqua jog brick. Aqua jog to swim brick. Strength to swim brick. Swim to strength brick. Swim-nap-swim on a weekend. Back to back swim brick like I mentioned above with 2 different workouts & 2 different groups in a row. Strength to aqua jog brick. Strength to bike brick. Bike to strength brick. Vasa to bike trainer brick. Bike to Vasa. Vasa-bike-vasa. Vasa- shoulder strength-vasa. Vasa-core work-vasa. AND new this week, bike to walking my dog to the mailbox without my boot brick. Get creative. Mix things up, it is the off-season so have some fun moving your body in new ways!

Here is a fun swim specific strength workout to try. You can sub my Vasa trainer with a row machine or stretch cord. Rowing works very similar muscles but unfortunately not through the exact pull motion of your swim stroke. I hit the weight room a couple times a week but my fave strength exercises are the ones that are functional to making me a stronger triathlete that I can do right at home for convenience. I only did a couple reps of everything for a quick demo but the full workout is below and I do the vasa after each exercise for a total of 12x200yards

3 xs through:
Vasa for the time it takes to swim a 200, which for me is 3 mins
20x high plank to low plank to push-up (mix up the arm you lead with)
3 mins Vasa
25x ab wheel rollout (sub a stability ball rollout if needed)
3 mins Vasa
15 dumbbell reverse fly
3 mins Vasa
*Rest 1 min*

Just keep swimming!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

July & August By Photos

I survived the toughest 2 weeks of the year, my mini-off season! Actually it wasn't so tough this year. In just under 24 months (Sept 9, 2012 - Sept 7 2014) I did 4 Ironmans, an open marathon, and countless other distance tris, dus, cycling time trials and running races so my body definitely needed a little break. I always miss training and usually I start sneaking light workouts in by the end of the first week but this year I happily committed to a full 14 days off to recover without a single swim, bike or run workout. I took quite a few full days of rest, did half a dozen yoga classes, took my "big" dog on long walks, and tried 2 crossfit WODs. I am big believer in active recovery and often times find that for me light swims, bikes, walks, core workouts or yoga classes recover my body better then total rest towards the end of a resting/recovery period.

It was nice to sleep in on the weekday mornings that I don't start work at 5:45am instead of going to Masters and have some unstructured weekend days in my usually structured life. I got a lot done around the house, gave my dog a mohawk and indulged in way too many yummy post IM treats. I even watched the Biggest Loser from my couch while eating pizza, isn't that the epitome of pathetic and lazy? But it's solid IM recovery though I hope :-)

 Full body doggie mohawk!!!

 Lots of sleeping going on in the Fox Household post IM

Fall walks with Miles

IM pedis for Team Chaska

I'm just getting back into the swing of a reduced volume training block and will finish off my fall with 2 running races then move back into base training. My first triathlon isn't until March so I am in no rush to push myself with any speed, heavy volume or too much structure until at least mid to late December. Slow short and easy for now. A month ago I was very tempted to sign up for IM Cozumel in late Nov but I would have had to miss Thanksgiving with my family. One glance at a pic of my nephew and my mind was made up, family wins! 

I didn't blog much this summer and didn't mention July or Aug racing at all so I will do a quickie recap by photos:

Timberman could be my fave MN tri course. There is a bar in transition & body marking is on the deck of the bar. The lake is so clean and clear you could drink it, the bike course is a blast and a lot of the run is on a dirt road, my fave! Ann & I repeated the Chaska sweep & she was top master for the 3rd year in a row!

 I had the privilege to stay at the Green Heron Bed and Breakfast in Grand Rapids for Timberman for my birthday present, it was beautiful! I would highly recommend it! The owners even cooked gluten free meals for us and woke up extra early on race day to feed us.

View from our bedroom at the B&B

MLB All-Star Game 2014
The highlight of my summer was taking my nephew to the All-Star game AND the Home Run Derby! What a treat to have them both be in my hometown of Minneapolis and share it with my family! 

Selfie in the stands

Heart Of The Lakes Triathlon

Always a fave MN tri of mine. Nicole & I went 1 -2 and she pushed me super hard! Nicole had a :45-ish lead out of T2 and was running well. I could see her way ahead on the run but didn't think I would actually catch her as Nate Hoffman passed me about .25 mile or so into the run and I timed that it took him 7+ minutes to catch Nicole and he was one of the fastest male runners in MN multis this year. With less then a mile to go I passed Nicole and it was a very exciting women's race with the top 4 all finishing within 2 mins! 2nd & 3rd place were only :08 apart with #4 just behind them! #5 was 3rd off the bike and finished pretty close behind #4!

This was my first Brewhouse, it is named that for a reason as they give you a beer glass at packet pick up with a coupon for 4 free samples at about 4 or 5 different bar/restaurants of your choice in Duluth. Heidi & I had a nice little road trip together & felt it was our duty to sample the local brew since it was included in our packets.

Great venue! Fun race! Jess & I went 1 - 2 in the sprint

Dairyland Dare 200K Bike
Hardest ride I've ever done, biggest hills I've ever climbed! So tough but so fun! Delicious food at the rest stops, better spread at every stop along the way then I've ever seen at the end of a tri. At 124 miles this wasn't the longest ride I've ever done in miles but it sure was in time due to the insane amount of climbing (in total elevation we climbed 1/3 of Mt. Everest & 1/2 of Mt. Kilimanjaro). 7 hours 11 mins of just riding, not including our 2 stops, it was a full day of work! Nicole is half cut off in the pic above but we biked the whole DD together and then biked a loop of the Wisconsin IM course the following day. After 6 years in this sport I have learned it is very rare to find someone who rides almost identical to my pace and to find someone I can bike 174 miles with in 2 days. We are almost always in the same gear and working at the same effort, typically when I ride with others, everyone is working at different efforts in a scramble to stick together. If only she lived a little closer to me, we could train together so much more. Thou shalt never do IMOO without suffering through the Dairyland Dare a month before!

We finished! Nicole, Me, Ruth, Lindsey

Superiorman Half Triathlon
Starting the race by jumping off a boat was fun and swimming in Lake Superior was a blast. Great course, cool & unique ideas for the transition area & race start, love Duluth.

Love the cutting boards in the shape of Lake Superior that we won!

 I brought both my dogs with me and we stayed an extra night so we could check out Gooseberry Falls & go hiking

Right now I am working on an email and a video that will be sent out to all my Fox Endurance athletes next week about why I love SUPER SLOW base training, why it is SO critical, pacing mistakes during the base phase, why running slow will make you faster and why base runs are so key to my mental game and are spiritual and emotional to me. And with a little help from Bobby McGee this important question will be answered for all my athletes - Can you run too slow in the base phase? His answer might surprise you! Stay tuned my Foxes...

Have a healthy & happy rest of your October!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report; THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

Last Friday morning Ann, Heidi, and I packed Ann's minivan to the max and returned to Madison for IM Wisconsin where it all began two years ago. In some ways it felt like it had been way more then 2 years and in some ways it felt like a lot less. We also had our friend John riding with us this year who I don't think realized that he was subjecting himself to 4.5 hours of nonstop girl talk but he was a trooper and we had a lot of fun. I was ecstatic that Ann and Heidi signed up with me again for this year bc there is nobody else I would rather take this journey with a second time, the training, the travel, the lodging, the whole adventure, these are my girls. My parents made the 8 hour drive from South Dakota and arrived on Friday as well, they have been to every IM I have done in the US. I was so grateful to see them all over the course, to have them stay in the same hotel as me just like in 2012 and to spend a lot of time with them over the weekend. 

On Saturday at 4pm my good luck charm (5 month old nephew Hoyt) and my sister arrived. This was the first time my sister has been able to make it to one of my Ironmans so it was a really special treat to have both her and my nephew there!

I actually fell asleep pretty fast on Sat night which is very strange for me on any night especially the night before an IM. Unfortunately I woke up at 10:45pm and couldn't go back to sleep so I started watching movies in bed on Netflix with my headphones so I didn't wake the others and eventually fell back asleep. I had my alarm set for 4:13am Sunday morning with instructions to wake the girls at 4:15 bc they refused to wake up with 13 on the clock (my lucky #) but I was wide awake at 3:20am and could never go back to sleep. 

My friend Marta was the last person that I saw before entering the water Sunday and she gave me a huge hug and whispered something in my ear. The way she said it and what she said made me start crying as soon as I walked away into the lake. I did a light swim warm up to test my goggles and then went over to tread water as close as I could get to the pro start so I could watch them go off. After the majority of the age groupers got into the water, announcer Mike Reilly always says, "Who's going to be an Ironman today?" He says that at every Ironman but it only makes me cry at IMOO. I thought maybe I teared up in 2012 when he said it because it was my first IM but nope, my goggles filled with tears again, it only happens in Madison!

About 5 mins before the AG start I saw my friend Suzann and was really excited to begin my swim next to her. She has done more IMs then any woman I know and her personality exudes calmness and confidence and I felt that rub off on me. She also counted down the swim start by the min for me and then with less then a min by every 10 seconds, it was great! 

The brutal starts of Kona and Cabo prepared me to be relaxed in Madison and contributed to a PR swim at IMOO for me. I also felt slightly more protected wearing my new Garmin 910XT, that thing is massive and anyone who messed with me on purpose and wasn't just trying to move forward in the swim was going to get a 910XT backhand! Luckily I didn't have to use it as a weapon but it made me feel safer. My goal was any time under 1:10, so when I got out and saw 1:06 on my Garmin my first thought was - shoot I messed up my watch and it isn't working correctly! It was my first time ever using this watch in training or a race, I just bought it the Thursday before and was reading the manual in the car on the way to Wisconsin. I've had my eye on this watch for almost a year now and after having my splits all messed up at Superiorman and getting an undeserved 12:18 T1 when I blew through it at top speed and not knowing any of my splits or finish time I splurged on the new watch for IMOO. I am going to keep my own times at every race from now on including transitions, no more mystery splits or finish times! 

My official swim time ended up being 1:05, not 1:06, I started my watch a little early, I couldn't be happier with my swim and I hope I can match that time next year. The only place I have ever swam 2.4 miles faster was Cabo thanks to the aid of salt water AND wetsuits! A 1:05 might be as good as it ever gets for me in a lake but I will work my tail off to get faster if I can.

T1 at IMOO is one of my favorite moments in any Ironman. The crowd is AMAZING! My face hurts from smiling so big all the way up and it is so much fun! I have been looking forward to running up the helix again for two years and was so pumped that I forgot to have my wetsuit stripped off. Last year I watched the swim from the helix and had just as much fun screaming at everyone, whether you are spectating or racing it is the best T1 ever!

                                                              Packed helix

                                                           Best crowd, best T1

I love the IMOO bike course and all the hills, spectators, and fun that comes with it! It is a challenging and honest course. I read every single sign along the way and check out every costume as I go and I laugh and laugh, it's great, if you aren't having fun during the 112 mile IM bike you should probably pick a different sport, a different distance, or try IMOO because it is a blast. Cows ran with me as I biked on both loops on the stretch before the left turn on Stagecoach Road. At mile 80 - 85 I heard, "Suzie!!!" from behind in a women's voice. I thought Nicole was ahead of me so my first thought was that it was supercyclist Julie Hull who descends hills like the biggest badass and far more aggressive then any dude I've ever rode with. But it was my training partner Ann going in for the pass! Yeah!!! I couldn't believe it! I wanted to match my bike split from 2012 and I was forcing myself to sit right at my 2012 avg pace and there she went cruising by and leaving me in the dust! That was awesome and a huge IM bike PR for her! She passed me over 10 times! I couldn't keep up with her! It was so fun to spend the last 35ish miles of an IM bike going back and forth with one of my best friends! It felt like a training ride with my buddy complete with a little chit chat and encouragement at every pass. I'm so proud of Ann, she biked sooooooo well! I'm calling her Annimal from now on, look out MN Masters, you've been warned, this girl can hang! Word on the Verona streets from Devon, Ross, both Cathys, Terry, Steve, Helen, Kyle and others was that Heidi was only a minute up the road! I wanted so badly reel her in so the Chaska blondes could all roll into Madison together but she swims way too damn fast to have anything to do with me until the run. We're talking a 55 min swim split!

I hate having a black bike bc I don't like to look like everyone else, it's a long story but I ended up racing Punky Brewster style with 2 different wheels instead of 2 different shoes. At least it was something to separate myself from the hundreds of other black bikes with 2 matching wheels. One Zipp, one HED, one clincher, one tubular haha!

My family was very entertained by the men dressed as women with wigs and tutus on the bike course and the guy with the fake butt that is there every year, I love him! Everyone who cheered for me on the bike course, rang cow bells, and ran hills with me, THANK YOU!!! You all were awesome and the reason this is my favorite bike course! The overall highlight of the bike was at mile 90 when my dad and my sister (pushing my nephew in his stroller) ran up Old Sauk Pass with me! That was not only the highlight of the day but probably my favorite moment in 6 years of racing, tears were flowing! Ann and I finished out the ride climbing the helix one right behind the other, dismounting together, and racing through T2 together on a mission to cut time off our transitions. 

                                  Hoyt after going up Old Sauk Pass with me in the stroller

                                                              He laughed at me

                                                                 And fist pumped!

I live for the Ironman run, it's gut check time! I think about it on all my long runs. I daydream about breaking 3:30 ALL THE TIME! The Ironman run just makes me happy! I've been lucky enough to move up the overall AG women's field in 3 of 4 Ironman marathons and that is the best feeling. IM #2 at Kona I felt horrible from mile 3 of the bike on and that marathon was a long 26.2 mile bonk where I had to constantly dig so deep inside myself to pull my mind out a dark place and it took every ounce of strength to get through it. Those miserable IM marathons are even more memorable because it requires so much more mental strength and discipline, whether it is going well or not you can't fake the IM run. It all comes down to the run, your run fitness, your run training, your bike execution shows up on the run, your bike nutrition will make or break your run, and most importantly you character is revealed on the run. Fast or slow, good day or bad, I most look forward to the IM run.

"Quadzilla" & "No Socks Fox" No socks and NO blisters this time! So comfy running belly out and thunder thighs out in my fave running outfit from Run N Fun of course

In the 52.4 miles I have run at IMOO there has never been a dull moment and rarely a time where I could stop smiling! I never felt bad during the marathon but I never felt great. I knew by mile 17 that I didn't have a sub 3:30 in me and I had to make peace with that. The goal shifted to moving up as far as I could in the OA AG women's race and my AG and keeping the margin I would be over 3:30 and 10:30 as minimal as possible. THE CROWD, THE CROWD, THE CROWD on the run! I love you guys! Huge THANK YOU to everyone who cheered for me! Hearing your name in an IM marathon is the most beautiful word in the English language! People were even yelling sub 3:30 and sub 10:30 at me long after that ship had sailed but it really helped me to keep going having that kind of personal support.

My favorite sign of the day was on the run was and held up by a cute young gal at about mile 8/16, it read, "I bet you wish you had your bike back now!" Loved it! I always tear up when I see cute little kids with signs that say Go Mom! and the like, I can't wait to have my own kids and I always tear up when Ann & Heidi's kids give me high fives on the run. On the second loop of the marathon the aid stations get really crowded and people tend to go through them very slowly or just walk up and stop right in front of the volunteers and I often get boxed out. Just after descending Observatory Hill the second time, there is a water stop right after you turn right. I called out for coke and slowed to a jog but I couldn't get near the coke there were too many athletes just standing there and I wasn't willing to stop so I kept on trucking. About 2 or 3 mins later I heard a girl screaming, "Do you want this coke? I'm sorry I couldn't get this to you at the water stop!" A volunteer sprinted nearly a quarter mile after me with a cup of coke! Wow! I told her she was a doll and was in disbelief that she chased me so far. As soon as I turned away to continue on I started crying again. Yep I'm a PATHETIC SAP at this venue, Madison just tugs at my heartstrings for some reason.  Special special course, special crowd, special place!

I love running the streets of Madison smiling, laughing, guzzling coke and burping. Even with the coke flat I can't help burping. I passed a pack of 5 guys on the second loop and let out a huge belch I couldn't control and I heard them say, "Was that her?" 

                                                               My happy place

I was pleased to finish as 3rd amateur female overall even if I didn't meet my goals, I still raced well enough to place in the overall women's top 10. I don't like to set place goals as you can't control who shows up or what anybody else is doing but it was something to be proud of since I fell short of my own personal time goals.

                                          BEST RACE & BEST FINISH LINE EVER

Thanks again a million times over to all who cheered for me on Sunday and everyone who supported me from places other then Madison! Thank you for all the pictures and videos I have received from the race, especially Kerry, Terry, and the Cathys, such incredible photos! Thank you Gear West for getting my bike all ready to go and helping me with so many last minute requests. Thank you Chuck at My Serenity for keeping my body in working order since 2010 & Crystal at Orthology for treating my injuries since 2011 and helping me get to the start line in one piece. 

I will be back next year and probably ever year after that isn't a baby year. This is just where I want to be every September, nowhere else!


                               Watching the midnight finishers with family & friends

                                  A stroller is the best way to haul 12 gear bags post race!