The 75% Rule of “The Suck”

the-suckI have been playing around with endurance athletic events for a couple of years now.  I’ve run several half-marathons (Disney Princess 2014, Lighthouse Loop 2014, Reindeer Racer 2014, Melbourne Music 2015, Tomoka Half 2015), a full marathon (Space Coast 2014), a half iron-distance triathlon (Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 2015), and I’m about to tackle my 2nd 70.3 at Beach2Battleship in 2 weeks and then embark upon training for Ironman Florida (or other 140.6) in 2016.  To prepare for these events, I’ve logged thousands of training/racing miles (to be precise:  Swimming: 120.63 miles; Biking:  3,699.48 miles; Running:  1,079.74 miles) and I have come to the conclusion that there is a phenomenon in play that I have dubbed “The 75% Rule of ‘The Suck.'”

The 75% Rule states that any workout/race will feel awesome up to the 75% of total time and/or distance prescribed, at which point it will SUCK!

I have looked back over my own training logs and blog entries and this rule seems to bear out over and over again – whether it is a 2 mile training run, a 5K race, a marathon or a 70.3.

Of course, I am a completely unscientific sample size of ONE, but the rule tends to hold.

At Space Coast Marathon last year, I felt AWESOME until about the 19.5 mile mark… 75%

At GCT in May, I was golden until about mile 43 of the bike when my feet started going numb… 75% (the run sucked the entire way because of cramping – another story)

Last Wednesday, I had a 12 mile training run and everything was awesome until 9 miles – then I was pretty sure death was imminent… 75%

On Saturday, Megan and I went over to Clermont and rode 112 miles.  I felt FANTASTIC through the entire first loop (56 miles) and even into the 2nd loop.  The wheels started coming off at about 85 miles, when I really just wanted to throw my bike in a ditch and walk back to the car… 75%

Heck, even yesterday I had a simple 3 mile run and I swore I was going to die at the 2-1/4 mile mark… 75%

womens-running-t-shirt-embrace-the-suck_designObviously there is a major mindset thing at work here.  I need to come up with a way to honestly fool myself into thinking I have to go further than I really have to go.  If I could persuade my mind to believe that I have to run 10 miles when I really only have to run 7 or that I have to ride 75 miles when I really only have to go 56…

I’m usually pretty good with the mind games, but I would love to hear how you “trick” your mind during long (or short) workouts.  Leave your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.

Of course, at the end of the day, I know that the point at which the workout begins to “suck” is the point at which I start improving.  So, while I look for this magic mindset that will conquer the 75% Rule, I will take solace in the fact that every day, with every workout, I get just a little bit better.

embrace-the-suck

Re-focusing on the Basics

focusWOW!  Deb and I just returned from a quick 5 day vacation.  I call it our “unplugged vacation” because we took our cellphones, but didn’t turn them off and kept them in the hotel safe, there were no tablets, computers, internet, social media, texting, or any electronic media at all.

I’ll be honest, I was really nervous that I would spend so much time obsessing over what I was “missing” in cyberspace that I would miss out on vacation!  But happily, that’s not what happened.  I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to unplug.

So in the absence of electronics there was a lot of real, live, interactive, interpersonal communication that went on.  Yes, we talked, and planned, and strategized, and walked, and swam, and had a tremendous time just being engaged with each other!

We ate and drank what we wanted.  I actually had one mixed drink each day – it was awesome.  I did not, however, drink any wine.  I believe wine is a trigger for me and one glass leads to a bottle.  I don’t have that problem with mixed drinks – one is just fine!

The first day I really just blew it out foodwise.  I enjoyed what I ate, but it was nowhere near gluten-free or dairy-free.  At the end of the night I felt awful!  I had stomach cramps and was so bloated.  Even though I enjoyed the food in the moment, it wasn’t worth how terrible I felt afterward.  So, the rest of our trip I stayed almost entirely GFCF and I enjoyed myself so much more!

One of the things Deb and I talked about was the fact that we have a couple of pretty major things going on this summer.  My blackbelt test is on July 26th and that will be a really huge physical and mental test for me and I will need to be at my very best.  At the end of August Deb is doing a training for several thousand people at a national convention and she is determined to be at her physical best.  After my blackbelt test I also have my sights set on running a marathon in December or January and as I start training I’d like to be ahead of the game and not starting from ground zero.

So, as of yesterday we recommitted to focusing on the basics:  Clean, gluten-free, dairy-free eating, no alcohol at all, 1 cup of coffee on Saturday and Sunday only, 6 workouts per week (for me that means weighlifting on Monday and Friday, cycling on the trainer on Tuesday, the blackbelt physical on Wednesday, running on Thursday, and then a long run or a long bike on Saturdays (alternating activities each week)), 2 karate workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays – one AM and one PM – and modified free days – we will have a treat in the morning, but the rest of the day won’t be much different than any other day (except that there may be a bit more of it in order to spike calories).1-pushup-challenge

Today is Day 2 and I feel great.

OH, by the way, today is Day 20 of the 100 Pushup/100 Situp daily challenge.  I haven’t missed a single day.  I started the month pushing out sets of 10 of each, now I’m easily pushing out sets of 25 and I even did 2 sets of 50 while on vacation.  So I know I’ve gotten stronger.  I’m looking forward to seeing how all these pushups translate into by quest for 10 pullups!!

T-minus 67 days until my Karate Blackbelt Test – OMG!!!

On The Road To Nowhere

CC 2012 What Bicycling Feels LikeI’ve been feeling an old, familiar itch for a couple of weeks now – the itch to take a nice, long bike ride.

A couple of days ago, I said “What the Heck” and planned a long trainer ride for Thursday (yesterday) morning.

Generally, I would prefer to ride outside, but there are a couple of things that factored into my decision to ride on the trainer.

First, I needed to start WAY before 0-dark-thirty to get in the miles before work and I don’t ride in the dark – I don’t have the proper equipment.

Second, it’s Bike Week here in the Daytona Beach Area, and you couldn’t pay me to get on the road with the crazy motorcycle people!

So, trainer ride it was!

In the back of my mind, I had a huge goal, but was unsure if I could actually pull it off.

IMFLbikemapCould I actually ride the Ironman distance of 112 miles on my trainer?

I had no doubt that I could ride that distance – I’ve gone farther before – but on the trainer?  That’s not just a physical test, it’s a brutal mental test!

IMAG0043

My awesome SBM tech shirt. It makes me Superwoman!!

So, yesterday morning I woke up at 4:30 a.m., pulled on my bike shorts and my new, snazzy Swim-Bike-Mom shirt, set up my “office,” loaded up Season 1 of Stargate- SG-1 in the DVD player, and set up my nutrition for the morning (a box of AdvoCare Rehydrate Gels and 4 water bottles full of Shaklee Performance), and at 5:15 a.m., I started pedaling.

Before

Before

As an aside, my Garmin and I simply MUST have a talk… I went for about 9 minutes and realized I had forgotten something so, I paused my watch, hopped off to get it, came back and rode for another probably 15 minutes, and then figured out that I hadn’t restarted my watch!  ARGH!!!  Oh well, bonus miles!

The ride went great through about 65 miles.  I was hydrated.  I was fueling with gels every 45 minutes or so, and my legs felt good.  But my -uhm, “lady parts” – were another story!  “The Queen” (as dubbed by our Triathlon FB group) was screaming at me – issuing her royal edict to dismount that cruel torture device!

My left foot was also cycling between aching and falling asleep, so I took the opportunity to create an imaginary “aid station.”  I got off the bike, went to the bathroom, ate some egg salad and crackers, walked around, took off my shoes and let the blood flow back to the parts of me that were numb.

IMAG0051Then it was back on the bike for the most grueling 47 miles of my short cycling life!

By the century mark, I was seriously wondering if I had 12 more miles in me.  My rear end hurt so bad and I couldn’t find any position on the saddle that alleviated the discomfort.  “The Queen” had long since gone numb, which was something of a relief.  12 more miles – only 36-ish minutes to go.  Surely I could do that…

Of course I could do that – what will I do at the 100 mile point in IM-FL?  Just stop, get off my bike and quit?  NO!!  I will keep pedaling and finish what I started!

Which is exactly what I did.  It was awful, brutal, certainly something I don’t recommend, unless you are a masochist.

IMAG0053

I DID IT!!!

But I did it!!  112 miles in under 6 hours (moving time).  In truth it took me a tad over 7 hours to complete, when you account for my “aid” stops (the one above, and the quick hops off the bike to change DVDs).  There was also some business texting that went on and I can’t pedal and text at the same time.

It was very gratifying to know that I can still do that distance with the limited amount of bike training I’ve been doing.  However, I do not know how on EARTH I’m supposed to run a marathon after that.

Baby steps… I have well over a year to figure that out.

IMAG0047

The aftermath

The Garmin report is not pretty, but if you are interested here’s the link.

Figuring It Out

ironmanThe other evening Deb and I started a conversation that we were both too tired to finish; but it’s one that we need to have.

It’s about my Ironman FL 2015 goal – not so much about the actual race, because that’s just one day in time in the grand scheme of things, but about the training timeline leading up to it.

Now mind you, I’m a full YEAR from seriously jumping into the Ironman training fray (most training plans are 6 months long and the event is the first weekend in November), but there is a mindset shift involved – for all of us – and those expectations need to be understood, negotiated, and agreed upon now.

Otherwise, we get a year down the road and I’m off swimming, biking, and running twice per day, 6 days per week, and frustrations mount all around.  Deb gets frustrated that more of the household duties are on her, more of the kid care.  I get frustrated that I can’t do it all myself.  Josh gets frustrated that I’m not around. Or whatever…

Fortunately, the long suit in my relationship with Deb is our ability and willingness to openly and honestly communicate with each other.  Things don’t fester around here – we get it out, deal with it, and move on.  It is SO freaking refreshing!!

The coolest thing is that I have complete family buy-in on this goal.  Deb and Josh are my biggest cheerleaders and they want this for me almost as badly as I want it for myself.  And they are willing to sacrifice for it.

I polled a Facebook group that I am a part of for a real-life estimate of the time required to train properly for an Ironman and it looks like between 10 hours (at the beginning) and 25 hours (at the peak of training) is about average.

But what I was gratified to learn is that most of these women and men who have spouses, kids, jobs, etc. do a lot of their cycling and runs on bike trainers and treadmills in the wee hours of the morning before their kids and spouses wake up.  See, I can DO that!!

I don’t believe I will have to “give up my life and my work” for 6 months in order to participate in an Ironman triathlon.  If that were the case then the vast majority of people who race these events would never be able to.

What I DO believe is that I will have to put systems into place that make me the most organized and focused person on the planet!  I see a lot of combining family time with training time (trainer ride during family movie night anyone?).  I see a lot of 3am rides and runs.  I can do this!

Oh, and I wanted to share this video from my friend, Meredith Atwood (aka Swim-Bike-Mom) about her Ironman journey.  I cry every time I watch it because it so beautifully illustrates why I want to do this.  Enjoy it!

Tri-Mantra

A friend on a Triathlon forum shared this poem by Olivier Blanchard today and I thought I would share it with you!

Tri-mantra
(to be hissed or groaned at any unfriendly hill)

by

Olivier Blanchard (Greenville, SC)

In my world,
The water is cold,
The wind is hard,
And the road never ends.

In my world,
There are no losers.
Only competitors
still on their way,
And spectators
waiting to be inspired.

In my world,
Victory is not weighed in gold,
But in determination and courage.

In my world,
There are no boundaries,
No limits,
There is no end.
Every day is the last day of my life,
And the first.

In my world,
The word “can’t” does not exist,
And nothing is impossible.


I love it!!  It summarizes my feelings about triathlon perfectly!  It’s never been about “winning” – unless I’m beating the crap out of the “old me.”

It’s about just getting out there and being better today than you were yesterday – and BELIEVING in yourself and all that your magnificent body is capable of.

Hope you have a fantastic day!!

Don’t Stop Believin’

old_meSeveral days ago, I passed a younger man (mid-30’s if I were to guess) during my run.  He was jogging on the path in the same direction as me, but I was in the last mile of a fast interval set, so I was moving quickly (for me).

As I passed him, he asked, “What are you training for?”

Without much thought I said, “An Ironman.”

He shook his head, laughed, wished me luck and that was that.

It occurred to me that I get A LOT of head shakes and giggles when I share my goal with folks.

Shoot, I still shake my head and laugh at myself half the time!  It’s such a crazy goal – so far beyond ANYTHING I have ever done before.

And I know there are those people who don’t believe I will actually do it – plenty of them.

It’s one thing to SAY you’re going to race an Ironman…

It’s quite another to do what it takes to actually TRAIN for one (and I’ve barely even begun upon the path)…

And if the stars align just right and you actually FINISH in under 17 hours, well then, that’s just MONEY!  No one will ever be able to take that finish away from me, no matter what!!

I know Ironman Florida in 2015 is a great goal for me for several reasons:

  1. I just don’t see the path to get there.
  2. I want to hear Mike Reilly say “Angie Flynn, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” as badly as I want to breathe!!  (YOU are an Ironman)
  3. i-willI live to do things people tell me I just can’t do!  There is not a more satisfying feeling in the world – even if it is not proper to say “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo” 😉
  4. I will grow into the person who can call herself an Ironman along the journey – and really now, isn’t that the purpose of any worthy goal?  The person you become along the way?
  5. I want the M-dot tattoo!!! 😉

I believe in myself.

good-enoughMy family believes in me and supports my goal (even if they think I’m silly and foolish half the time).

And yet I still have to shake my head, laugh, and just tell myself “Good Luck with THAT!!”

21 months to go!!

I’m Ready…

Wow, what a whirlwind the past week has been!

Work has been a series of jumping from one event to the next and preparing for upcoming events, and taking steps toward the announcement of a HUGE initiative by our company (Shhhh, can’t talk about it yet, but rest assured I will spill it all very soon).

So sadly, personal blogging had to take a back seat to the work that actually pays the bills.

My training schedule last week as ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!  I was getting up at 4:30 a.m. to jump on the bike trainer just to get in any workout at all, and my training runs that Coach Pam scheduled were stacking up at the end of the week.

On Friday night, I got the text I was dreading from Coach Pam…

text

I immediately felt a huge amount of guilt for reworking her training plan.

I hadn’t even completed my long run of the week (10 miles) – UGH, I was a bad mentee!!!

Saturday morning I woke up at 3:30 a.m. so I could get a pile of work done before my run and then taking my son to his swim meet  The first thing I did was email Coach Pam:

Thanks for the text last night.  This week has been – hmmm, how to put it – challenging!!

We are in a period of incredible growth in our business, which is awesome and pretty amazing, but it comes at the price of time to do what I want when I want.  It has definitely been a “nose to the grindstone” kind of week that has had me up wicked early every day to even get a workout in at all.

Soooooo, I’ve needed to flex and flow a bit..

Monday:  Still sore from Saturday’s 14 miles, I opted to do 10 mi on the elliptical – it felt fine.
Tuesday:  Upper body strength and karate
Wednesday:  1 hour hard aerobic on bike trainer
Thursday:  Off (Deb’s Birthday)
Friday:  30 minute sprint on bike trainer
Saturday:  Running 10 miles (Wednesday’s scheduled workout – will let you know how it goes)
Sunday:  5 miles – hard intervals with easy jog during “walk” breaks (Friday’s workout)

I owe you a brick!!! 🙂

At 7am I headed out for my 10 mile, negative split run.  It was hard, but at the end I was pretty sure I could have managed 3.1 miles more.

10-mile-splitIt was a good run, but I was still dreading Coach Pam’s response to my “massive justification” email (yes, yes, I know, I’m on Day 4 :p )

I was not prepared for what I found on social media…

pam-fbSeriously?  How freaking awesome is she?  I am not even kidding!!

So, here I sit 12 days out from my first ever half marathon and I know that I am ready.  I can do the distance.  My run has quantum leaped in the past few weeks.  I have a long way to go to  reach my ultimate goals, but I am pretty darned tickled with how far I have come since November.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I received the following email:

Subject:  Ready to go!

Thank you for being so coachable…

I got your other message – challenging week, time pressed and you are doing great – slightly re-routing the schedule is fine… cause here is the deal – you are trained – everything from here out is to keep you focused and confident.  I know you understand that, but you will worry anyway if you don’t keep moving.

Keep me posted – you are an absolute champion.  Congratulations in advance for your enormous success.

Your imagineering assignment now is to race that race over and over and over… each mile enjoying the negative splits.  Being patient hearing the crowd, seeing the smiles, watching the great stories of courage and determination.. seeing the finish line clock with the number that you want to see – not the one you know you can do… the real one you want to see.  🙂

You have to believe it to see it.  Your thoughts determine your destiny.  Imagineer the results you dream of.

Pam

You just HAVE to love it when your coach throws your own words back at you.

I’m ready… I just want to go, go, GO!!!  12 days!