Monday, December 26, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Run Forest Run

5.3 miles 51:50 in 45 degree weather. Love it

Chlorine for breakfast tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Training Anticipation

Tomorrow at 8 am I get to start long, exhausting weekend and I can't wait! I am participating in a two day training to become an instructor for Les Mills Body Combat. I went to Body Combat for the first time at the Midwest Quarterly for Les Mills. I loved the intense cardio and quick choreography of the program. When I came home, I went to a local gym which shall remain nameless to attend a Body Combat class. Yep, I was in love. 

I immediately sent out inquiries to local GFMs (group fitness managers) to see if they were in need of more Body Combat instructors....and so it began. Fast forward six weeks and now here I am heading to training during my last week of work at the park district. Whawhooooo!!!

So for 11 hours Saturday and 9 hours on Sunday I will be learning and executing a jab, hook, uppercut combination until my poor little arms can't move anymore.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

December Training Schedule

I'm a little slow about getting this together, but I've been trying to figure out how to incorporate IM training into my class schedule, choreography reviews, etc. 

Here it all of its messy glory....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thumbs Up from the Good Doc

I met with the Good Doc today to discuss my hair-brained idea of doing an Ironman. As expected, the Good Doc was in complete support of my giving this a GO! He asked about my nutrition plan for race day and I admitted this was something which had me concerned. Most of what you read on race day nutrition discusses the importance of large doses of glucose. Yes, your body needs lots of glucose on race day. There is no doubt about it, but what is right for a diabetic? 

I recently discovered a new podcast by Jon called Garden Variety Triathlon. Jon completed his first Ironman in Florida on November 3rd of this year and discussed his race day nutrition plan. For Jon, the key to feeling strong throughout the day was taking in a small amount of fat as well as the glucose. He ingested Justin's Almond Butter in individual packets on the bike, drank Hammer Perpetual Coffee Latte and ate cannoli cookies. I'm not sure exactly what they are, but I'm sure I will figure it out with some more research. Jon's plan was based on maltodextrin plant based nutrition. Because of my concern about ingesting pure sugar, I may look into the idea of using the almond butter on race day. I also emailed The Intimidators to see if they could share their nutrition plan from IM-Wisconsin. They are going to check their files and let me know. See what I mean? They have FILES of information on nutrition. Yah, I can learn from them. I also found a good introductory article on Beginner Triathlete on nutrition for your 1st Ironman. 

The Good Doc also discussed the idea of getting a Constant Glucose Monitor,  CGM, for me to use during training as well as race day. I used one back in 2010 after I had growing concerns about high blood sugars after races. Unfortunately, with that CGM, I didn't have a display screen to tell me what my blood sugars were doing. Instead I had to keep a food & activity log and then the doctor's office reviewed my log and CGM results. Me, being the control freak that I am, did not like that very much. I want to touch, feel and see the results myself. So today the Good Doc gave me a copy of my results to review. Yay me! He's hoping one of the companies he works with closely will be able to provide a CGM for me. He's also going to discuss my situation with his office diabetic educator to see what kind of plan would be best for me. 

After the race, I will need to monitor my blood sugar every 2 hours for up to 7 days to make sure I don't develop hypoglycemia. Hmmm, doesn't that sound like fun? 

Man, this sure would be a lot simpler if I didn't come from such a bad gene pool. On the flip side, it certainly does make me think a lot more, plan a lot better and prepare for just about anything that will come my way. 

Swim MP3

Last year I had a friend tell me about her swim MP3 played which she loved. The Dolphin Nu. I kindly asked my generous mother-in-law for one for my birthday. Swimming can be so boring and I figured having something to distract my mind would help me enjoy the leg of the triathlon that I cared for the least. 

Photo Credit DC Rainmaker
I used the Dolphin Nu - or attempted to use it - about 3 or 4 times last year. The ear plugs hurt. By the time I completed a mere 400 yards, my ears hurt so bad I needed to take them out. So, I put it away for the winter.

Wednesday when I went for my swim I pulled it out again. If I was going to train for 2.4 miles, I was definitely going to need a distraction. Low and behold the stupid thing wouldn't even charge. 

Fortunately, DC Rainmaker recently completed a full Swim MP3 review. His blog is a valuable resource for anyone who enjoys tech gadgets for the training. (Do you hear me screaming, "ME! ME!"?). Let's just say he's a pretty smart guy and he didn't pick the Dolphin Nu out of the 5 swim MP3 players he reviewed, but check his blog post out. 

Do you use a swim mp3? What would you recommend? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


With all of these exciting challenges in front of me, I decided I couldn't make an educated decision without putting in some time and seeing how I handled tipping my toe back in the triathlon water. 

Yesterday with light snowflakes falling to ground, I went out for a run around our town. A light 5k to stretch the legs and see how the hip would feel. Believe it or not, it felt great! I didn't win any awards for speed, but I kept a nice steady pace and completed the 5k feeling strong. Success #1. 

So today I decided to undergo test #2: THE SWIM. I haven't swam since last June when I competed in the Tremont Triathlon so I was more than a little nervous. I slowly slithered into the pool (WHY does the water always feel so cold in the winter?), pushed off the wall and started to log some laps. The first 50 felt great. CLICK went the lap counter. Bilateral breathing went well. Before you know it, I finished my first 150 yards. CLICK CLICK. Not wanting to push my luck and alarm the lifeguard by floundering, I decided to take a break. 1 minute rest. In a matter of time, I finished 18 clicks, 6 sets of 150 yards, 900 yards! I was pretty proud of myself. I could feel my lats saying "HERE I AM!!!" and decided that was good enough for the day. Success #2.

As I pulled out of the pool, a man two lanes over said, "That was quick." My lame response was something mumbled under my breath about not being in the pool for a while, but I could already feel my bubble start to deflate. I rationalized that it was quick, but it was 900 yards done!

At home, I entered the house excited to tell my swim coach, AKA Sunshine, about my swimming success of 900 yards. 

"Yah mom, I do that in about the first 10 minute of practice." Hmmmm. We may have to talk to Sunshine about the mental aspect of training, of being supportive while still offering a challenge to the athlete. Maybe next time I need to drag her with me. 

BUT CRAP - I don't care. I did 900 yards. That was way more than I would have started with when training for a simple sprint triathlon still several months away. Regardless of what my final decision is I'm well on my way to a great off season. So take that and stick in your ear!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Fork in the Road

The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind. - Maya Angelou

Life quite often brings you to the proverbial fork in the road, and, yes, Maya, it's brought about by change. A change in employment status. A desire to follow my goals, but what happens when the fork brings you to a point when you must choose which goals to pursue. 

To the right, I have the opportunity to train and participate in the IronMan Louisville, an endeavor  which will take many, many hours of hard training and almost 9 months of preparation. Training like I've never experienced before.

To hear those words, "Carla Leber, you are an IronMan" as I cross the finish line under 17:00 would fulfill my ultimate athletic goal....and my inner athlete would definitely be fully awake. 

To the left, I have the opportunity to expand my opportunities to teach group fitness. As of today, I am certified to teach ZUMBA as well as LES MILLS Body Pump & Body Flow. This weekend I am attending a LES MILLS Body Combat training. Teaching 4 different group fitness programs is time consuming when you think about the time it takes to learn the choreography, follow proper technique and coaching cues and implement with huge, slap happy grin on your face! I currently teach 6-7 classes a week. Beginning January 1st, I have the option of teaching an additional 2-4 classes per week. 

I love working out. I love spreading the endorphin high to my class participants. I love interacting with my fitness cohorts as we reach for the next level of physical fitness.  

Something has to give. Where do you draw the line? How do you determine which path will take you toward the right goals? 

As you can see, the time to train, to teach, to study, to rest, and to spend with my family, it's all diminishing my soon to be expected freedom unless I make some tough choices here.

The big question: How much can my body take? If I train for an IronMan 15 hours per week and teach 7-10 hours per week, when does my body get to recover? How far can I stretch my body before it begins to snap? What do I eliminate? 

I've spent time in prayer. I've spent time in contemplation. I've tried logic. I am waiting for God to whisper on my heart, or maybe slap me upside the head. Go ahead, Lord. I am waiting!

Why go Iron?

Being born into a family of 9 children automatically makes you competitive. I was the 8th child, the 6th daughter and the one who always had to show my family that I could do anything they could do. The sibling closest to me was seven years old than I was. When she and my cousins would go in the back yard to work on their splits and jumps for cheerleading tryouts, I was out there too showing off my back handsprings and Chinese splits. When my extended family got together, we didn’t just sit around and eat fat food. It was a family tradition started when I could barely walk to get together and play volleyball. We would get together every Saturday night and play for hours. While most of my cousins were off playing games or swimming, I was on the volleyball court. My family formed me into who I am today. Their work ethic and my competitive nature pushed me through high school as one of the top athletes in my class. 

I played volleyball. I was a cheerleader and I ran track. No distances for me though. I was a middle distance runner & high jumper. The thought of running a mile was ghastly! I went on to play volleyball at my community college and at Western Illinois University. Following college, I ran a couple of distance races, but running was boring and I had no desire to spend the time training. Instead I chose to continue working out with my endless library of workout tapes. I exercised daily. I worked out through my wedding, a move to Milwaukee, my first child, a move to Tremont, and then another child. I took prenatal exercise classes through both pregnancies and felt great. Exercise was my stress reliever. It made me a better person and a better mom, but it couldn’t fix everything. I spent five years watching my parents’ health fail. They died 10 months apart in 2004 & 2005. During all of this, I gave birth to my 3rd daughter and while I exercised through the pregnancy, my passion just wasn’t there. I spent a lot of time on the road between Tremont and Rochester. I’ll never forget what my mom said when we got her prognosis. “I have so much more life to live.” I didn’t want to be 68 fighting for my life after years of being overweight and not knowing how to make a change. 
My Beautiful Family from 2007

I wanted to re-awaken my athletic spirit which had been lying dormant for the last few years. With the return of the Tremont Triathlon in 2008, I had the perfect opportunity to do just that. I said I was going to do the triathlon that year, but I didn’t. I have a long laundry list of reasons why I didn’t, but the key factor was fear of failure. Failure was not an option for me. I will never commit to something I have not trained for and I didn’t feel ready to do a triathlon in 2008. Instead, I showed up at the triathlon to cheer everyone on and to take pictures. That morning I was truly disappointed in myself for not committing to the training. The entire event was so much fun and I felt that spark of athletic spirit begin to stir again. I trained over the winter of 2009. I spent the spring swimming, running on the treadmill and a little time on the bike. In May of that year, I received what I considered to be devastating news. I was diagnosed with diabetes. I felt like I had just taken 10 years off my life, but I knew God was giving me the motivation to commit to the triathlon and take off some of the fluff I had put on over the last few years. I finished my first triathlon at Tremont in 2009 and knew that spark had come back to life.

Ever since then Awesome Cheryl & I have always discussed doing an IronMan. Of course, she was way more ambitious than I ever was, but I looked at it as I have a job, a husband, and 3 kids. I couldn't imagine taking that much time away from my family. Training for an IronMan takes 15-18 hours per week.

But it is the ultimate challenge. I wanted to re-awaken my inner athlete. Lo & behold this is the opportunity.

The stars aligned...
I quit my job.
Eleven people I KNOW signed up for IM-LOU at the same time I was committing to an Ironman 70.3.

The stars have what's holding me back? 

Monday, December 5, 2011

What's the rush?

Smart people, practical minded people, ask me this all of the time. What's the rush? So what if you don't do an Ironman this year. Well, let's think about this for a moment. 

The United States has about 311 million people living in its glorious countryside. With about 30,000 people participating 10 Ironman races in the USA, the stats reflect a much reduced opportunity of finding a local training partner. 

When all of the stars align and you find at least 11 local training partners, it makes you think, "Maybe I should do an Ironman this year instead of 2013!?"  (OK, really, I'm not superstitious, but 13? It's a sign. I'd probably drown in 2013.) 

Who is racing this year? 
Awesome Cheryl! I can't say enough about this woman. Of course, since we're blood relatives that makes me slightly biased, but she is pretty incredible. She has overcome so much adversity in her life from losing her father at such an early age to raising her mother and two younger sisters. Hey, I'm not kidding. I love my sister, but Cheryl was the one with the good head on her shoulders when I moved out of their home to marry Camo-Man. 

Cheryl joined me in 2009 and we competed in our first sprint triathlon together here in Tremont. Of course, she rocks and got 3rd in her age group. Me? Well, I got 4th in my age group. (Always a bridesmaid.) Cheryl's words keep ringing in my ears, 
"I would love to take on the ultimate challenge of an Ironman with the person who inspired me to do my first triathlon almost 4 years ago."
And to think we could get matching tattoos! Just don't tell me sister. She'd probably croak...and then try to forbid us from getting them. Regardless of whether I compete in Louisville or not, I will be on site shouting my lungs out to cheer on my personal favorite lady! 

Don't we look cute in our condom caps? 
The Legend. Some people call him the Legend. I've call him friend for the past 4+ years. He brought the triathlon back to Tremont and has inspired generations of athletes to get out and run. He's a runner at heart, but mostly he loves  competing. He's already completed to Iron Distance races. Awesome Cheryl & I went to IM-Wisconsin last fall to watch him compete in his 3rd Iron distance race. My heart nearly broke when he DNF (did not finish). For some reason, he had fluid on his lungs and with the compression of the wet suit he couldn't finish the swim portion of the race. I can't imagine the amount of disappointment he had to endure after preparing for such a huge race for well over a year. He was well prepared for the race, but his body had other plans for him that fall day. After numerous tests and never-ending questions from me, he has received an all clear. He will be back to tackle Louisville with a vengeance. 

Mr. Muscle in the middle
Mr. Muscle. "What's going on?" He doesn't fit the typical runner profile. He's built like a mack truck with biceps as big as my....well, let's not go there. It's probably not a good idea to compare body parts. He loves to compete with the Legend and he knows how to push my buttons. "Come on, Carla, you can do this!" If it wasn't for a strange twist of fate which brought him and The Legend to a recent liquid lunch (just kidding), I probably wouldn't even be contemplating taking on this monumental task at this time. 

The Intimidators
The Intimidators. Yep, that's what I call them. Of course, now I know they are like little puppy dogs, but in 2009 when I first met them they scared the crap out of me. Like I said, I like to compete, but I always do it with a smile on my face. I'm here on this planet to have fun while being healthy & fit. These two? They are serious about their training and their races. I'm not saying they don't ever have fun. They just approach their training very seriously learning as much as possible so they can achieve their goals. Let's face it. I can learn from them. 

The best part of having all of these dear people participating in IM-LOU this year is that regardless of whether I decide to do a half or a full I will have inspiring training partners who will help me set some lofty goals and then achieve them. 

So what's the rush? An incredible support system made from inspiring athletes with lots of experience in this sport called triathlon. 

Reality Check for IM-Lou

Cons of doing a FULL Ironman:

  1. The swim: 2.4 miles of swimming which must be completed in 2 hours and 20 minutes. My swim time at the 2011 Tremont (Sprint) Triathlon was 9:09 for 400 yards. That converts to (making broad assumptions on keeping that pace for 2.4 miles) 1.49 miles per hour. Based on that pace, I could complete the 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 40-50 minutes. Almost two hours of swimming. Whew! Sure would hate to drown and get a DNF. 
  2. The Bike: 112 miles in 8 hours or so if you include transition time. Bike has to be completed by 5:30 pm.  Based on my 2011 Triathlon, my bike pace of 16.3 miles / hour, it would take me a good 7 hours to complete. Not a lot of buffer there when you start thinking about fatigue.
  3. The Run: 26.2 miles in 6.5-7.5 hours. Now let's not even look at my triathlon pace because let's face it at this point all of that will be out the window. It will be a matter of sheer will, putting one foot directly in front of the other in order to complete a FULL FREAKING MARATHON by midnight. I would have to run a mile every 15 minutes in hopes of finishing by midnight! I've never run more than 13.1 miles at one time and the lactic acid build up at that time was crazy, but I also didn't allow myself to walk and I know I would walk during the marathon portion of IM. Heck, even The Legend has said he has walked. 
Let's look at some data. Here are two recent finishes for two people I know who competed in IronMan Wisconsin in 2010. IM-WI is known for it's hilly, challenging course: 

Looks good, doesn't it? Doable......realistic......But I fill myself when doubts when I know how much stronger these athletes are than I am. I am not particularly strong in any of the three legs of the triathlon. I just get out and do it, and smile while I'm at it. I really don't want to lose the smile. 

Here is where I will probably end up....hopefully. This is the final woman to cross the line before the 17 hour cutoff of the 2010 IM-WI: 

Honestly, I wouldn't care as long as I finished within the 17 hours required. 

But I am still haunted with the question, am I ready? This is a big leap in my training for the year. I'm still debating. Still analyzing. Still swaying on the big rusty fence. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

To Half or Full

To be or not to be...that is the question.....

I feel very fortunate to live in a small community where everyone knows their neighbor and for the most part are very encouraging. This is especially true when you are talking about a group of like minded individuals who have the same goals in mind. 

Four years ago our little community re-opened their renovated swimming pool. Working at the park district, I was able to see it all happen first hand. The pool opened in the summer of 2008 and with the re-opening brought the return of the Tremont Triathlon, a sprint triathlon made for beginner triathletes. I'll never forget watching those triathletes as they challenged themselves and how disappointed I was with myself that I didn't participate. I let things like a sinus infection and my job distract me from training enough to feel mentally prepared to participate in the triathlon. 

There's nothing more motivating than the feeling of disappointment. I spent the winter preparing for my first triathlon the next year, the 2009 Tremont Triathlon. Ever since then, I've been hooked. 

Of course, I still have my moments of doubt, such as when I planned my 2011 races. But then don't read that post too closely because I didn't even do a half Ironman distance race last year. Why not? Again, I let my job distract me. Working 50 hours a week through the summer did not allow enough time to train, let alone compete in any additional triathlons. 

Well, now it's time to plan for 2012. I told a few people that I was planning on doing the Muncie 70.3 (since I wouldn't have the dead weight of a J-O-B to distract me) and
All of the sudden I'm getting challenged to step up and do a full Ironman. My local triathlon club, T3, has 10 people already signed up to do Ironman Louisville on August 26th. The 11th person registered is my niece, Awesome Cheryl  - the biggest factor in all of this.  Cheryl sent me several messages throughout the day, challenging me, motivating me and finally inspiring me. What do you do when you receive a Facebook update like this from the one person who knows how to pull at you from the deepest spot in your soul? 
I know you are competitive, I know you are passionate about fitness and inspiring people to be fit and I know you love t-shirts!!! And by the way...I totally know that you could do this if you decided that was what you wanted to do. I would love to take on the ultimate challenge of an Ironman with the person who inspired me to do my first triathlon almost 4 years ago.
This message was the final message for the day...the zinger, the hook, line & sinker!

So today the question is