Tag Archives: nation’s

Interval Training Raises the Question – Am I Strong Enough?

Bike Interval Training sessions include drills such as:

  • Work in 4 x 3:00 up-tempo efforts at 80-85% effort and 85-90 RPM’s. Spin easy for 3:00 between efforts.
  • Work in 4 x 2:00 efforts at 80-85% effort and 85-90 RPM’s. Spin easy for 2:00 between efforts.

Interval Training for Running includes drills such as:

  • 4 x 400 – descend 1-4 – run at 80-85% effort – easy 400 jog between. (3:00); 1 x 1/2 mile – Run at 80-85% effort! Work it and negative split! Finish strong! Easy jog for 400 after effort. 2 x 400 – descend 1-2 – run at 85%+ – easy 400 jog between (3:00).
  • descending ladder, 40 minutes total.  All intervals are vo2 max, 98% max heart rate. 5 minutes (4 min Active Recovery); 5 minutes (4 min Active Recovery); 4 min (3 min); 4 min (3 min); 3 min (2 min); 3 min.

Interval training is an effective way to improve speed, endurance, cadence and lactate threshold. Midway through my triathlon season last year I incorporated it into my training plan when I joined my local tri-club’s track workouts which focus solely on interval training.  At Nation’s I ended up shaving almost 90 seconds off my running pace.  I know this major improvement is from all of these workouts.  (Training with others helped as well.)

I continue to participate in group track workouts this season.  I also incorporate interval training into my other disciplines.  During these specific workouts, especially on the bike and my runs I connect with Noah on a somewhat different level.  I obtain an unbelievable amount of strength, inspiration and comfort from him which enables me to push myself so much harder during these sessions.

Interestingly, though, just over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced something very different. During these particular sessions (mainly on the bike), I’ve found myself crying.  Tears just flow, and at least once during each session, my cries turn into flat-out heavy sobbing.  Sometimes they’re like bursts of emotions quickly flowing out and other times they outlast the drill.  Oddly I don’t stop my workout; somehow I just keep going.  I’ve noticed that as I push myself sadness, disappointment and guilt strongly and quickly emerge all at once.  I feel as though I could never push myself hard enough to go fast enough, far enough or move my heart rate high enough.  And I can’t even articulate what “enough” is!  It’s almost like I realize I will never be as strong as Noah. I won’t ever be as courageous as my sweet, beautiful son.  No matter how hard and deep I dig down – and oh my goodness I really do work at this! –  my strength and courage are mere specks compared to what he embodies.  And if this is the case am I good enough for him?  Am I worthy enough to be the mother of a 32 day old boy who had the amazing strength and courage to deal with numerous cardiac arrests, open heart surgery, ECMO, other major procedures and way too much poking and sticking?  Do I deserve the love he’s brought into my little life?

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe I am much stronger now than I was before God blessed me and MLH with Noah.  I’m much stronger physically.  I’m much stronger mentally.  I’m much stronger spiritually.  And I have to believe someday I’ll be much stronger emotionally.  I may not be as strong as him and perhaps I never will be.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be ok with this reality; will the guilt, disappointment and sadness from this ever go away?  I guess all I can do is continue to find strength, courage and inspiration from him and the short life he lived.

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What a Difference a Week Makes!

With my six mile run today I completed my first training week using Pete’s online coaching plan.  It may sound a little funny but already I feel very different.  I’ll go ahead and acknowledge the placebo effect is probably at play.   Something along the lines of “oh wow I’m now doing something different so I must experience a change.”  Placebo effect or not, I’m not sure it matters.  The fact that I feel different is good enough for me.

I wrote in my last post that I rarely did a full cardio segment and a complete strength training session back-to-back.  Well a few days after writing that post I pulled out my training plan for Nation’s (which I created myself).  I have a correction to make:  I did in fact do such workouts (also known as two-a-days) early in my training and quite often. I can blame bad memory for thinking two-a-days are new to me but I think there’s something more to it.  For some reason I felt my two-a-days this past week were…well different.  They were much longer and more intense than what I did for Nation’s.  Also, I’m sure since Pete planned them they’re better structured than what I put together.  And there’s the placebo effect.

During this past week’s training sessions I felt solid.  I did struggle some on the bike, specifically with keeping my RPMs and heart rate at the desired levels.  Also the last five miles of my 30 mile ride yesterday was by no means easy.  (And as mentioned before I did have to push it a bit with the weights.)  However I felt pretty good right to the end.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely worked hard this week but I never felt like I couldn’t finish.  I do realize Pete’s current focus is on base building so I anticipate my workouts becoming much more difficult very soon.

Anyway back to this difference – or really differences.  What are these differences, you ask?  I feel like I’ve taken my training up a level already and I feel more confident.  I think I was a little anxious about not being able to follow Pete’s plan.  Well I did and while I experienced some challenging moments, I completed each session strongly.   I feel more focused.  A lot of this has to do with the need to keep track of my drills during each workout.  But also I’m zeroing in on my very specific goals which are to successfully complete Hawaii 70.3 and improve my splits at Nationals.  With each successful workout my body moves closer to being ready to compete.

I do feel one other major difference but I don’t think Pete’s plan has anything to do with it; I think it’s just a coincidence…or perhaps not.

Over the past week my connection with Noah became much deeper and different.  Outside of training, I think of Noah a lot. Sometimes he’s in-and-out of my mind very quickly and other times I spend quite a bit of time thinking and recalling vivid images of him in my head.  When I train though I believe how I think of him is different from this.

Last May I began feeling a very deep connection with Noah as I became much more aware and grateful that my heart could easily handle my endurance training and I could process the oxygen needed during these workouts.   When I feel or see (on my heart rate monitor) my heart rate climbing and hitting 60-85% effort, it’s almost as if I’m raising it for him.  When I feel my breathing becoming labored, I think of the ventilators he was on and I feel as though I’m breathing extra hard for him.  And it’s the stark and unfair contrast between what I and any other healthy body can do seamlessly with what Noah struggled with all of the time.  It’s this appreciation combined with sadness and a little bit of bitterness (yes still) that helps me dig deeper to find that determination and power to push myself harder, faster and longer.

During my workouts this past week though I’ve started feeling a different kind of deep connection to my son.  I now feel his presence almost constantly and this feeling is definitely different than my “non-training day-to-day” thoughts of him.  During my training, talking to or thinking of Noah is like second nature now.  It’s like at some other level I’m having a constant dialog with him as I swim, run and bike.  I’d like to think he and I’ve gotten used to training together, and our routine has him with me all of the time.  I’ve been thinking about how best to describe this and I’ve come up with “endurance consciousness.”

I continue to push myself to achieve 60-85% of my maximum heart rate (depending on the drill) and reach that labored breathing because there’s that connection I still have with him.  But now I have another one.  I’m so grateful for both.


On a somewhat separate note, please pause for a moment to pray for or send positive thoughts to the parents of a little Heterotaxy boy named William.  After fighting super hard, he became an angel last Thursday.

It’s probably no surprise to you that I spent my first mile on my run today thinking of William and his parents.  I found myself welling up a bit when I thought about what his parents are experiencing right now.  Nobody should have to deal with losing a child.

Noah now has another friend in heaven.  God bless you, William.

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Time = Training

The concept of time bewilders me.  Before Noah my sense of time was pretty simple:  60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. I used specific times and dates to structure my days and help plan for the future.  I was intrigued with much more sophisticated concepts of time from shows like Lost or Star Trek (2009 version).  (I’m not a sci-fi fan nor even close to calling myself a physicist, so apologies to those who know more about the concept of time than I do.  I’m sure what I’m writing here is very rudimentary.)

On December 9, 2010 my simplistic view of time changed.  My world no longer consisted of 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours or even weekdays versus weekends.  Time consisted of pumping breast milk, hospital rounds, nurse shift changes, medical team meetings, Noah’s procedures and surgeries, feeding Abigail and Madeleine (my cats), Noah and me video chatting with MLH, and some sleep.  I had moments when time flew by.  I’d return to Noah’s bed after pumping and then after what seemed like just a few minutes, the next thing I knew it’s time to pump again!  Then there were moments when the world moved in slow motion such as when Noah went into cardiac arrest.

Then on January 10, 2011 my paradigm completely turned on its head.  The night MLH and I left Noah at the hospital for the last time, the schedule I lived by for the past 32 days no longer existed.   My world came to halt; I felt like time stopped.  It was taken over by the need to process — I should say try to process — the fact that after almost five months of planning, advocating, caring, loving, and praying for Noah, I lost him.  It was overwhelmed with all of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual reactions forcing themselves on me.  This was not the case for everybody else, though.  The world everybody else lived in continued to follow the Gregorian calendar.  Their lives continued to move along.  They celebrated birthdays, weddings, promotions and other milestones.  They recognized holidays.  Their children ended the school year, began summer and then started a new school year.  And they had babies.

I don’t know exactly when my world began to move again.  I do know that once I began training for Nation’s, I returned to a more familiar concept of time to instill some structure in my life.  I created a training plan which had me focused on specific workouts for a certain number of minutes or hours each day of the week and building mileage, strength and endurance over 12 weeks.  I was more cognizant of days passing, and I could feel myself becoming stronger.

I also know that after completing Nation’s my world lost some of the stability it gained from the previous few months.

When I actually pause to think about the fact that it’s been just over a year since Noah passed away and 17 months since we learned of his diagnosis (Heterotaxy Syndrome), I’m dumbfounded.  My sense of time seems to have three conflicting dimensions:  1. MLH and I’ve been through so — dare I say “really too?” — much during this period, 2. in some ways it feels like Noah’s birth, our time in the CICU and his passing away happened just last month and 3.  I feel as though my world is still on hold.

Ever since I was given the green light to workout again, I’ve been exercising to build a solid base and strengthen my injured ankle.  And although I’ve not officially begun training for my upcoming races yet, my focus on completing a solid daily workout has helped.  Training gives me a sense of order which I desperately need.  It helps me stay in touch with the concept of time by which the rest of the world lives.

My time paradigm now consists of 5.5 months or 19 weeks and two days to prepare to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles.  With each day, each workout session,  my world moves closer to Hawaii.

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