Archive for April, 2010


Heart Rate Training

April 29, 2010

 Let’s delve into some training talk, I am not racing for a bit and I am launching into another round of training before a midseason off-season anyhow! So let’s talk training.

 During this time of the year I get a lot of coaching inquiries. Some folks get nervous that their plan for Ironman Lake Placid is not on track, some don’t get motivated until April, or what have you, and that’s all fine. What the athletes who begin their training in April sometimes fail to realize is the importance of building an endurance foundation. Everyone thinks training needs to be hard and it needs to be hard now.

 Every year I work with 1-2 athletes who I call “three monthers”. They come on board and endure the initial 12 weeks of training which are endurance building weeks, feel bored and go elsewhere or more often than not coach themselves. I see a lot of them later in the year injured. The core group that I have are my long term athletes, the ones I can really work with, the ones that are interested in the process, who are really serious about reaching their goals.

 Endurance training is boring. It’s mostly aerobic work, heart rate zone 2, involves a lot of drills, a lot of easy steady consistent training. It requires a lot of patience.  For 12-16 weeks. Endurance training is essential especially if you are gearing for an Ironman. As we know many athletes can rip off a half Ironman. Many will train half as much, but go harder, wack out a good 70.3, yet line them up next to a properly prepared Ironman athlete and they aren’t in the same zip code.

 Endurance training, building your aerobic base, establishing your foundation… whatever you want to call serves a few purposes. Imagine building a house without a proper foundation. It will stand for a while, but it will eventually crumble. The athlete who fails to develop a solid foundation will do the same thing. They will knock out a few good results but then you will see them get sick, get injured, and spend a very long time recovering.

 Imagine a house built on a very strong foundation. It will take a lot longer to build that house but when it stands it’s durable against storms. Same thing with the athlete who builds a strong and proper base. This athlete is what we call durable. Durability will go a very long way in the ironman.

 Many athletes become very focused on their paces and speed during the endurance phase. The top athletes in the world at this game have endurance paces in the pool on wheels and on foot that are much slower than “race pace”. In running as much as 90-120 seconds slower. Endurance is supposed to be slow.

 How do we know where our endurance pace is? The best athletes can feel it. It’s that conversation pace, you are running with your buddy and you can discuss last night’s game, Lost, or an upcoming event without getting winded. I like to ask my athletes if they can sing Happy Birthday twice without getting winded.

 We also can use heart rate as a tool, remembering that it’s a tool and that it is variable. To establish HR zones I like to use a 5K run, and a 20 minute bike time trial. Now many coaches of Elite athletes have different methods. They will recommend an hour test on the bike, or some other method. I think that all tests and systems are good if they are used properly, with the right athlete and are consistent.

 Just about anyone can go out and rip off a 5K or a 20 minute time trial without the risk of injury. It’s short, it’s something you can fit into your day, and it’s repeatable. Repeatability to me is very important. I don’t mean that every 5K has to be the same terrain. In fact I like my athletes to run their 5K’s on all different terrains. Let’s see what we get, let’s see how you do, let’s be challenged. Let’s take those results and fit them into what we know.

You see, training is the mixture of both art and science. I probably lean more on the art side of things, but with the group of athletes I have, it works. Some have power and Garmins and this and that….. some just HR….. some nothing. Some want to do nothing but test…. Some will avoid testing at all costs. As a coach I learn to be flexible. For the ones who are so terrified to test I build it into their workouts without them ever knowing it. For those who want to test too much……. I try to hold them back when I have to.

 Back to establishing HR zones……… on the bike I use a 20 minute time trial for both HR and power, but we will discuss power next time. I like the 20 min time trial again because we can repeat it, it’s short, and I work with age group athletes who have jobs, families, and limited time.

 The two methods I use are based on lactate threshold heart rate. I like Joel Friel and Andy Coogan’s formulas. Below is an example of both of them, this athlete will be me, who has a LTHR of 180, I had a difficult time copying this chart in, it was given to me by an old and awesome coach of mine, let me know if you need a more clear copy, you should be able to click on it for a bigger more clear image:

 Until I get a run test out of them we set loose zones. We tweak them without getting overly attached to them. We use HR zones as guides.

 Many things can affect HR; Heat, mood, stress, hydration (or dehydration) so typically in a race situation at least we don’t go by HR. I like to utilize HR because it can tell the story of the day in patterns. When these things affect us in training we use HR as a background and just watch it.

 What I like about HR training as opposed to pace training, let’s use running as an example….. as you get faster your HR zones will remain pretty much the same but your pace will get faster. Over the past few years my endurance pace which for me is a HR average of about 150 used to be 9:03-9:15, and now it’s about 8:30. Remember we are talking endurance training pace here. In all of my road races thus far this year, the exception being Galveston I have been able to then nail my prescribed tempo pace.

 What’s important is that you have a plan and follow the plan. Look for measurable progress such as retesting your 5K, retesting your HR data, look for progress to occur every 6-12 weeks (if you are being consistent and allowing for recovery… it will happen).

 Remember adaptation or improved fitness depends on a few simple things:

 Apply a stressor to the system, consistently.

 Work that system.

 Allow yourself to recover

 Change or increase the stressor.


Kids as spectators

April 29, 2010

I have a bunch of coaching files posts coming up, beginning tomorrow with heart rate training….. so stay tuned. Any questions you might have … please shoot me and email and we will get those answered for you. Don’t forget to check out our upcoming webinars at as we focus on some beginner triathlon and Ironman stuff!

It’s an exciting time of year!

The best part of traveling is coming home. I promised the guys no more traveling without them to places they would love. We are already planning our trip back to Texas. It’s the perfect venue for a family vacation. While I am out racing they’d be up on the water slides we run around.

I have been asked a lot of questions lately on kids and triathlon, specifically on how I handle the race day issue.

I am not a big drag my son to a race at 5am kind of a person. Kids do not think that’s fun, I don’t care who they are. I also don’t leave him with a babysitter while I race, certainly not at a race site (unless it was my parents)  To some that might sound pompous but it doesn’t matter if I want him there….. I really need to consider what a nine year old needs. Look at it from their point of view. It doesn’t matter if you are first or last, let the kids be kids and don’t demand their presence on the sideline. I personally believe that says to them that you feel you are more important than they are.

When we travel to a race together, one of us races. We chose not to do the same Ironman because we don’t ever want our child to feel like he’s a third wheel. He’s our heartbeat for crying out loud. I get dropped off at the starting line with a hug and a kiss and I will see them later. Trust me when I am in Iornman Florida I feel so much more relaxed knowing they are on the beach and watching Ironman dot com than waiting to see me on a race course. If they get to the finish line great, if not no big deal.

Sometimes we even take two cars to races. That way the interruption of life is not so great. Good morning, have a good race honey, see you at the finish line.

Kids definitely love to see their parents racing and it’s good for them to see us out there competing. I think it’s a fine line however between a child cheering a parent on…… and feeling like they are being dragged along to another event because my mom or dad is racing and they said so. I have seen a lot of kids say they want to go watch…… but what they are really saying is …… please just pay some attention to me.

Once when Luc was younger I ventured out for a long ride on a weekend afternoon. It dawned on me. Geez….. Luc is going to think I love my bike more than I love him. Thats when things change. Want to be a good example to your kids? Get up and get your sessions in before they wake up. They notice that. Teach them that fitness is really important, but it’s important not to make children feel like they are in the way.

Children just don’t have the same type of thinking that we do. Our interpretation of hiring a sitter so we can ride all day is…. I have to get this done, this is my time, I am working towards a goal. But their interpretation is…… my parent would rather be out there than playing with me. Kids just don’t have the maturity of thinking like adults do.

The winning at all costs mentality can be equally as dangerous to kids. Sport teaches them to play fair, to treat each other well, sportsmanship. That is the most important quality in an athlete, in my opinion. If their parent is a cut throat win win win, win no matter what…… what’s the lesson in that? Your parent is willing to jump over someone who falls in a race and is bleeding?

How we live….. how we treat others…… that is the way we teach our kids. I have not perfected it yet, but damn I am working at it. I am very careful of what I say, how I say it in front of our son. He knows I have a goal, he knows I will be home to get him on the bus. He knows someone will get him off the bus. He knows after school time is his time. all of that I am very proud of. He knows his times of being pulled out of bed at early o’clock are very limited and would only happen with one parent on the sideline.

So that’s what I have so far. And I hope it’s the right thing!


Images from Galveston

April 28, 2010

Galveston 70.3 2010~


Jake, Kim, and Matt at the Tequilla Bar (POST RACE OF COURSE)

Kim and Mary Carbo Load

Matt Curbeau and Chris Lieto


Galveston 70.3 race report!

April 26, 2010

Hello from Detroit! I am almost there!

Ahhhhh……. Galveston. Beautifully organized race. Amazing volunteers! Challenging course! I stuck to my tradition of a slow season opener. But that’s why I race in April, and as we go through the season it gets better from here!

Race day. I love race day. Even though the plan here was execution over placings or time or performance, I still love race day. I stopped getting nervous years ago, I get psyched. You see I feel like I am in a neat position. I have done a lot, accomplished a lot. Kicked ass, had mine kicked. So this year, these seasons are truly about accomplishing personal goals. The personal gaol for today was pacing. Three of my athletes were also here and my goal for them was to do well. And they did!

 I love the set up of this event. It’s located at Moody Gardens which is a hotel, water park, aquarium all in one. Perfect location for a family vacation. The swim is on the harbor side of the island. The wind kicked up the gulf but our swim was just into the current.

 The water was warm. Ocean water, I love it. I wore my new Xterra wetsuit that I won for the fastest swim at Pumpkinman last year. LOVE THIS SUIT. LOVE IT. The swim start was at 7, my wave began at 8:10, the wind began to growl the later it got.

 The girls in my age group were wonderful. What always strikes me about competitors is the camaraderie between us all. I look up to the women who are genuine, who are kind, and who treat people well. I don’t care if you are a champion. Treat someone like ass and I block you.

 That’s just how I am.

 The swim went well. I loved it. I don’t time the swim because of the very reason our swim turned out to be. We swam into the current and I stayed long and comfortable. As we swam upon previous waves I went to the right of the group. I will never swim over someone in an open water swim. Never. As someone who has been assaulted in a swim I will never treat another swimmer that way. It’s dangerous. So I swam around the group and kept getting pushed a bit off course. No big deal, it’s a swim!

 Transition went fine, I am not used to the new rule of not being allowed to put your shoes on your pedals to start so putting on my bike shoes in T1 was weird!

 Onto the bike. This course is a flat course, 28 miles out, 28 miles in. Elevation is 88 feet.  The wind kicked up and we headed into it the first 28 miles. My instructions were to keep my HR below 140 based on my new HR zones. I couldn’t get it that low without stopping. I remembered my old zones and tried to calculate the zone I should be in which would put my HR at below 160. I was able to do that. I kept my cadence at 90. A bunch of women blew by me in the first 20 minutes. Just by the way they were riding I knew I’d see them later. It took a lot for me to sit back and not hammer. Especially into the wind. But I was here with a plan and no matter what I was sticking to it.

 Strangely I began to puke a little bit. Not the kind of puke where you have to stop. To be gross it was like a juicy burp. I was not sick, my stomach did not hurt, so I shrugged it off, made sure I took more salt and kept going. I don’t think I got into that much of a deficit.

 I hit 28 miles in 1:30. ONE THIRTY? WHAT? I was shocked. At home I complete a 56 mile hilly loop in 2:32 at my slowest with a HR of 132. WHAT WAS HAPPENING? I made the turn expecting some massive tailwind but was greeted with more wind and I could not tell where it came from. I was about 2 mph faster on the way back but still absolutely flabbergasted that I was 17 minutes late! On this flat of a course?????

 It definitely stuck in my head. But again I stuck to the plan created. I did not waver.

 When I came into T2 I was trying very hard to shrug that off. How did I just ride 56 miles 17 minutes slower at a higher heart rate than I have ever ridden it before? 2 weeks ago during an easy ride it was that 2:32. In retrospect compared to the girls in my age group it wasn’t that slow. Like the swim, I failed to recognize the rest of the field.

 As I began to run I felt very good. It was 4 X 3.2 mile loops and that was fun. It was definitely hot but the turns and variation of directions made it fair with the wind. My pace was good, I felt good, I was not able to take in the gels we had planned and trained with. So I hit the coke and salt, knowing I was going to be in a deficit.

 Loop three I started to feel that calorie deficit and I began to slow. The heat got hotter and my last 2 loops were tough but I was able to hold form. My run was not that far off. Definitely slower than I was capable of but by that time I realized that a flat course is not always the easy course. I learned the same thing at Eagleman, Clearwater and NOLA. My fastest races are hilly ones. Look at my last season’s results! I have never raced well on flats, except IMFL 07! I someday will learn!

 That 2:47 bothered me the whole run. I was not able to let that go.

 When I spoke with the Wizard last night we reviewed my data filed together (love Webex) and walked through the pieces of the puzzle that led to a time that did not reflect my performance indicators. At QT2 we test test test test and we use that data to predict performance. They are never wrong. So what gives?

 Without going into the boring detail on HR analysis and pacing and decoupling…… the analysis was pretty in-depth and pretty clear.

 This race appears to be easy… it’s flat…… but it was very hot and very windy. I placed top ten in my age group out of 100…… so this is not something to scoff at. I don’t traditionally race well on hot flat courses, and I am gearing for Ironman. There were also small pieces where I could see I still over paced the bike a bit and it showed up on the run.

 We are not sure why I was puking. I don’t know how much of an impact that had on me.

 I am really happy with my day. I am happy at improved execution. I can let go of time, I can let go of placing, I can focus on execution. The beauty of gathering data like this is that it gives you a bird’s eye view into the story of your race. If you know how to interpret that….. it’s enlightening. I understand myself more and more each time. This race was much better pacing in more difficult conditions.

 We’ve got 7 more months till the big day, I am slow out of the gate, just like I was last year, and I ended great. What I love about this all is the opportunity, I love getting faster and I love improving and I love nailing things. I have and I will continue to nail my performance indicators in training. I have been rock solid on those. We will do another round of testing soon and I will let you know how those stand in the beginning of June. I have another block of training, a 2 weeks break (mid season off season) and then in the beginning of June…… it’s IMFL prep!

I will share my stats with you soon but right now we are at about 18% body fat, 285 FTP, and about a 20:45 5K with an 800 yard swim of 10:18. The biggest aim right now is to get to 13% body fat so the big weight drop begins tomorrow. I tried to indulge….. I really did. I split a volcano with Kim. I had Baked Lays, some fudge and…… well that’s all I could stomach. As we tighten the diet up I am going to share a lot more about the Core and all that stuff. We are going to Segway into the coaching files starting on Wednesday as we begin with heart rate training! WOOO HOO!

 Thanks to all for your notes and wishes and emails, facebooks, texts calls and all of that! What a beautiful community!


Heading Home

April 26, 2010

I love Texas. Have I mentioned that yet? I love it. Full race report to come…….. but as I said I reviewed all of my data with The Wizard and now that I sit back and look at it, it was not a badly executed race. As I compare my bike split to the rest of my age group it wasn’t horrendous. I am baffled at how I have consistently ridden 56 miles as part of my 5 hour rides through hills in 2:32 at the slowest and where that 17 minutes came from. There seemed to be a lot of casualties yesterday. Pip Taylor was hurling her guts up on the sidelines. 

Anything can happen on race day! And even with a performance that doesn’t match the performance indicators I have put forth, I am happy with how I did. Top ten at a 70.3 age group is nothing to turn your nose up at. The big race is still 7 months away, and what I learned today is very important as we work towards that goal. 

I got to come to Texas with my athletes who are also my friends, who performed incredibly, and as a coach that makes me really proud. As a friend even prouder. I got to meet two of my QT2 Teammates, which was also awesome. But the best part of the weekend was seeing one of my oldest friends, and her adorable babe. I am so proud of her and who she is I could burst! 

It’s time to travel home. Sore and sunburnt and another bale of hay in the barn. My mojo is full on, and I only get one day off.  I really need to thank my most amazing husband Curt…… for allowing me to take these kinds of trips and race all over the place. To be a single Dad for five days is not easy, yet he does it with ease, he is such a good father, he is an absolutely amazing husband and I am so very grateful to him for this opportunity. I miss my guys so much I could absolutely burst and I can’t wait to see them tonight! 

Tina, Me and my newly appointed nephew Dex. I can just BE his aunt, can't I?


The Short Story!

April 25, 2010

I got off the phone with the Wizard a few hours ago, and I am happy with today’s race. I was confused. I stuck to the plan yet that bike plan yielded me a bike split 17 minutes slower than expected. However if I look at where everyone else’s bike was…. not so bad. I had some very small issues like wind and heat that were evident on the data, but the more important lessons are the things he showed me.

I love learning about how we all tick. And what I have learned in the past 365 days with the Wizard has been awesome.

For example:

* A good race execution has a run split that’s about 10 beats higher than on the bike

* The four things than can affect decoupling on the run

* How this pertains to Ironman.

Because as I was reminded, as a QT2 athlete we are geared toward the Ironman. As a team we don’t fare that great in a 70.3 (um….. I seem to think the team does….). Many of the ladies who beat Cait Snow at Oceanside can’t hold a candle to her in the Ironman. You can fake a 70.3, you see it all the time. But we train for Iron.

I did forget about that. I did need that reminder.

So as we walked through the race data I was reminded of why we collect the data. If you have a strange day like I did, that doesn’t quite represent what you do in training….. for example in the past few weeks during my 5 hour rides I pass by 56 miles at a lower heart rate in about 2:32 on hills……. it gives you the answers.

As I look at the data I realize that I did have a pretty darn good day, where my decoupling happened and created that bigger strange gap between HR and pace…. and how those 17 minutes came to be.

I love this Sh*t. And I love this sport. And I love Galveston!

More tomorrow!


The Plan

April 24, 2010

The day before race day was magnificent. I visited a friend whom I have known for 33 years but have not seen in 17, and I felt like a big gap in my life was closed. I got to see Tina and meet  her amazing husband and her unbelievably adorable son. Three hours was too short to catch up on 17 years. I arrived in tears and left in tears. It was the absolute best part of this trip. I vowed to come back with my family next year. Promised. Pinky swore.

the cutest family EVER!

There is just something about this state that draws me back. Gun hasn’t even gone off yet and I am already scoping out hotels. Luc would love it here. A great vacation destination.

Carbo loading went well. The team is ready. It’s fun to see Matt get so wide eyed, it’s his first ever big race and he’s ready. Kim made us pasta and chicken at her hotel. Don and family are just down the road from us.

I will admit that my heart sank when I discussed the race plan with the Wizard. This is a bike course I could throw down a 2:20 right now on. But I will not ride it faster than 2:30.  He set my heart rate zone window to be between 135-142. Boo. My endurance zone is about 122-130 and honestly this should land me right around a 2:30. I have to hold back the urge to ride faster. I write this here because I will show you all of the data tomorrow night. I have to stick to this plan. It’s the whole reason I am here.

But let’s go from the beginning:

Swim: with the wind blowing the buoys all around and the swim getting cancelled in today’s Intermediate distance race who the heck knows how the swim will be tomorrow. Without fail I swim 1.2 miles in about 30 minutes. Any slower and the course is long and any faster means I am just smokin fast. We are just beginning to turn on my swim here, I traditionally swim an Ironman swim in 57-58 minutes and with IM 7 months away I am not in a hurry. being a swimmer it’s a matter of hitting the on button. With all that being said I never think twice about a swim split until I compare with the professional women who I can gauge myself off of. Why does Andy Potts swim these in 22? I can’t get over that. Goal time: 30 minutes.

Bike: as I said we’ve got a big heart rate ceiling and small window. I am determined to dial it in. Historically I have been able to bike with the professional women and traditionally I follow that up with a horrendous run. So heart rate between 136-142, cadence > 90. Okay. I shall do it. Goal time: 2:30

the view from kim's condo

Run: I have been running and running well this week. Thanks to the run injury protocol I really don’t feel like I missed a step. I am not a sub 1:40 1/2 marathoner …… Y.E.T., and the focus is pacing. So mile 1 needs to go out in 7:50 and then we need to hang onto that as long as possible. This run course is four 3.2 mile loops and I look forward to that. Ever do Eagleman 70.3? I swear you can see that turn around from 4 miles away. There are a lot of turns and some loops and doglegs. I like that stuff. Goal time: 1:43-1:47.

You do the math on the finishing time but I am focused on pacing, pacing and pacing if I again have not mentioned it.

The weather is predicted to be 82 degrees with a 10 mph northeast wind and humidity of 50%. I like those conditions and I look forward to improving in those conditions.

Thank you so very very much for the email, comments, texts, and voicemails. Believe me I do not ever forget how many amazing friends I have out there. I love the community of multsiport. I love how we all cheer one another on, that we love each other no matter what.

All right, it’s time for bed. I actually sleep very very well the night before a race. I need to be woken by an alarm clock! And if you are following online I begin at 8:10 central time!