In less than two weeks....
Nov 07, 2011 by Joanna Luth
November 7, 2011
Some of you may have noticed that I haven't updated my website for a while....ahem...four months. In case you were wondering why I didn't post updates, I wanted to give you a snapshot of what the last four months of training looked like:
- "Short" training weekends with 50 mile rides and 14 mile runs
- A 3k Open Water Swim (at which I was 'rescued' by the Cobb Fire Dept volunteers, as my shoulder was as of yet unwilling to let me swim the 3k distance)
- Ramping up distances with hilly and hot rides (with names like "Blazing Saddles")
- Practice races (an Olympic and 1/2 Ironman Distance, in which I placed first in my category and PR'ed by 3 minutes, respectively)
- A 90 mile race in Wisconsin with my company's cycling team (having completed a 16.5 mile run the day before)
- An 'Epic' Training weekend during which I biked 6.5 hours on the Blue Ridge Mountains, ran for 3 hours on GORGEOUS (but hilly) trails and swam no less than three times -- all while enjoying a weekend away of 'just training' with my team
- Four rides over 100 miles in the span of 6 weeks
- A couple more open water swims (to get in some wetsuit and cold water practice)
- A few 'recovery' rides that featured wind, fog and dogs
- Hypnotherapy appointments to help build my mental toughness
- A couple of 'set backs' to include dehydration and, well, I was just tired...
And now? Well, NOW we taper!!! What does that mean? Shorter workouts with less intensity. A chance for our bodies to recover and get some much needed rest. And an opportunity to prepare for race day!
As you might imagine, this has been an incredibly transformative experience for me, not only physically, but also mentally. I came into this season with a healthy dose of doubt, and I faced a few obstacles along the way. But thanks to the amazing Team In Training community (many of you know I refer to my team as my family), I have learned more about myself, about realizing that the impossible is possible (all you have to do is believe...oh yeah, and put in the work ;), and that together, we can conquer anything! Including KICKING CANCER'S ASS!
If you haven't yet joined the fight, please consider making a donation (right here! On this very page!!!) And know that with every stroke, every pedal and every mile that is run, we are getting closer to a cure.
Thank you so much for your support...and for believing that I would actually do this thing.
Getting my Groove Back...
Jul 03, 2011 by Joanna Berentsen
...It's Harder Than I Thought...
July 3, 2011
It's been almost two months since "the wreck," and this block of training has been tough. I haven't done ANY strength workouts (for fear that if I go to the gym to work my legs, I will ignore the advice of my Physical Therapist (and coach) to not work my shoulder). I have suffered from frustration in the pool (I was doing SO well, and now it just hurts) and fear on the bike. That's right. Outright F.E.A.R. I don't trust my bike, I don't trust the rider, I don't trust the routes, I don't trust people around me, and hell, when I see a guard rail, my stomach does flip flops. And I won't even begin to tell you about the ride where I was dehydrated and learned how to climb and vomit simultaneously (until same PT and coach 'suggested' I stop riding for the day. Weird.).
Running has been good, except for the dull ache in my shoulder and my shin (from where I made contact with the guard rail) with every thud thud thud.
And that's enough whining and complaining, thank you very much, so let me focus on the turning points of this last training block:
1. Our team registered for the Death Valley Open Water swim meet (don't let the name scare you...it was actually lovely). While most of my teammates competed in the 3k swim (which is about 865m short of Ironman distance), I competed in the 2k swim (about 1865m short of Ironman distance). My co-captain, Chris, swam the entire event with me (after just completing the 3k moments before...he also later teased me by saying, "Hey Jo, it's hard to swim that slow!!!" So I punched him ;). The 2k was awesome. It was my longest continuous swim ever, and I felt like I had finally found 'the pace' that I could sustain all day. It was a great mental day, too, as I got to watch many of my teammates succeed in their longest open water swims, too. And we all carried a hero with us -- I couldn't have finished that swim without Wilma being in my heart to guide me and not give up.
2. Chris and I (but mostly Chris) led a track clinic, in which we had to maintain our 10k pace for an interval period (1 min 10k pace with 30 sec walk; 2 min 10 k pace with 1 min walk; 3 min 10 k pace with 1 1/2 min walk...you get the idea...up to 5 min 10k pace and back down again). When I was training hard for just running (back in the year when every race was a PR), my best 10k pace was an 8:45 min mile. I had NO idea if I could currently sustain that pace throughout the workout. Guess what? I DID!!! I even finished the last interval at an 8:07. Because I could. It felt great, and I was thrilled that I could see these accomplishments in the midst of very challenging training.
3. Last weekend, I started to find my confidence again on the bike. I rode with the group in the picture above (plus two others), and at one point, Wendy looked at me and said, "Hey Jo, do you ever go into aero?" I looked at her and said, "Yeah, but it still really hurts my shoulder." While this is a true statement, I also avoided the true statement of, "...and I'm still terrified because what if I lose control and crash again." I realized that our heroes didn't get a choice of what they could and couldn't do when facing cancer...so I shouldn't have a choice to let fear control me. And for the rest of the ride, I practiced getting in and out of the aero position. I would linger there for 2 minute stints, but it really does still hurt my shoulder. And yet, I was finding my strength and confidence to face my fears and push through pain (and don't worry, Mom, I'm not damaging my shoulder further by doing this -- I asked the doctor. It just hurts. And I can deal with that.) Last Saturday I rode 82 miles (my longest ride EVER), and I was tickled pink with how great I felt. Of course, I came home and promptly fell asleep on the couch at 6pm (and woke up 12 1/2 hours later...). I guess this Ironman training thing really takes it out of me.
4. I worked with Bridget on my swim on Friday night (7/1). Bridget is a 'lane 8' swimmer. That means she's really good. Oh yeah, she qualified for the Olympics in 2000 or something like that. So yeah, really good. She was analyzing my stroke and just sort of stared at me after I swam for 50y, at a loss for words. She said, "Jo, I'm just not even sure what to do with your stroke. I've never seen someone do the things that you do with your elbow." Huh.
So I said, "Okay. How about you watch me sprint. I think I have different form when I do that." She aquiesced. When I finished that 50y, Bridget looked at me and said, "Jo, you can never swim slowly again. That was great form. It's like you're a totally different swimmer. I could work on your slow stroke, but I just want you to swim fast." (I can't breathe when I swim fast, but I'll work on it....)
She has since followed up with an email explaining how I can get my body acclimated to a faster pace and better form. Which I will work on in earnest this week (and the remaining 20 weeks of training).
5. I rode with my girlfriend, Kiwi, yesterday (7/2) at Silk Sheets (name of the route). It's got some good rolling hills, and I was supposed to do a 50 mile recovery ride. Riding with a Kiwi is NOT a recovery ride, but it sure was fun. Not only did I continue to improve with my aero transitions (and also noticed a massive overcompensation with my left arm), but also I kicked ass on the climbs (which Kiwi had appropriately called me out on a few months earlier, telling me I had lost them. Not yesterday, my friends. The climbs were MINE.) We averaged a faster pace than I had all season. And it felt great.
So we are now sitting at 20 weeks out from event day. And I'm excited about progress and challenged to improve. I'm excited that our team is really truly more than a team. We are like family, and it feels weird when we're not together. I have already felt pangs of sadness because I know this journey is going to be over before I know it. And then what?
But the sadness cannot overshadow the excitement of our progress, not only with our training, but also with our fundraising. As a team, we have already raised over $180,000!!! And we still have 20 weeks to go!
As you know, I couldn't be on this journey without your support, so if you're ready to help us kick cancer's ass, please make a tax-deductible donation right from this page!!! Thank you so much for the constant encouragement. even if, when I turn my back, you're shaking your head and saying to yourself, "She really is crazy." I know I am. But I love it.
Just when it's starting to click...
May 11, 2011 by Joanna Berentsen
May 11, 2011
It's been an interesting training block. Despite my continued shoulder issues, I've been having more and more 'good' training days. Mentally I am focused and ready to conquer anything. Physically I'm feeling stronger and more prepared. I've had some great successes in swim bike and run!
1. Swim: Coach Mary video taped me swimming -- what an eye opener. When I turn to breath (over my left shoulder), my whole body contorts into a 'c' shape. Not good. I've been trying to modify my stroke to a) be more efficient and powerful and b) to correct my technique so as not to exacerbate my shoulder. I took a brief trip to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida with a few teammates, and one of them found a great pool where we completed our workout. I had a breakthrough in that workout, and have been focusing on a shorter entry into the water for more underwater rotation and better positioning to grab the water for my pull. Later that day we were at the beach, and I got toppled by a way. As I was being bandied about at the mercy of the ocean, I had a flashback to my childhood, when I was slammed by a wave and had to be pulled out of the water. I remember being so terrified when I was a kid -- thinking I was going to die. As an adult, I remembered that feeling and was thinking so analytically about it -- I stayed relaxed and told myself that I would stand up eventually. And I did. With the help of my teammate, who put her hand on my shoulder to guide me. TEAM.
2. Bike: during that same trip, we headed out for a 70 mile bike ride. What a gorgeous day. A nice, long, FLAT ride (we don't get flat a lot in Georgia). It was also thoroughly entertaining (and somewhat of a heart rate elevator) as we cycled through Panama City Beach, where Bike Week was happening. We dodged Harleys galore, and were covered in exhaust by the time we got home...but it seemed to bear a resemblance to what our ride in Arizona will be like. Hot, flat. And some winds (the last four miles of the ride took me 1/2 an hour, as I was biking straight into headwinds. Funny. Not ha ha, but funny.)
3. Run: Our coaches have been increasing our drills and heart rate work, and we had a fun (yes, I really thought it was fun) workout of hill repeats to include bounding, high knees and sprints. Up a hill. Repeatedly. I felt so strong at the end of the workout...I want to feel like that all the time.
Last weekend I had a minor set back -- I decided to introduce myself to a guard rail while going 30 mph on a training ride. I have a minorly separated shoulder and a (not so) handsome contusion on my shin. The doctor cleared me to race on Sunday, but acknowledge that I would be in some pain...so we'll see how that decision making process shakes out...
And so it goes...
Mar 21, 2011 by Joanna Berentsen
March 21, 2011
So...if you've hung out with me at all, all you hear about it how happy training makes me. It's weird. It's like my day isn't complete without some form of a workout -- and I feel like if I miss something, I'm only cheating myself. I never thought I'd be 'that girl,' and when I find myself talking obsessively about training, heart rates, diets, intestinal upset...well, I shake my head and still try to justify to myself that I'm not 'that girl.' But I am. Becoming. Am. Her.
That being said, a couple things have changed about the way I train:
1. I'm using a heart rate monitor. I'm turning into one of those techy-geek athletes (except that I really only know how to hit start, stop and reset on the monitor. apparently there's all sort of cool data tracking and downloading available...maybe I'll learn that next). Using a heart rate monitor requires a LOT more discipline, as I need to keep my heart rate at specified intervals, depending on what we're trying to acheive with the training. Until now, we've been doing mostly base building, which means we're trying to develop endurance without worrying so much about speed. I like base building. I could do it ALLLLLL DAYYYYY LONGGGG (or, you know, up to three or four hours ;). We're about to move into a build phase, which means we're going to increase our speed/heart rate in our workouts. I will keep you posted about how crazy that becomes.
2. I'm battling something that's not quite right with my shoulder. It's frustrating, because it definitely has an impact on my swimming (you know, my biggest struggle in training). I'm feeling SO MUCH like I'm starting to get it...and yet I feel like I'm being held back. I did physical therapy for the month of January, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to go back. I'm thinking twice a month from now until November. Good thing I like needle therapy.
3. I got a new bike. I've been riding a 2004 trek 1500 (road bike) for the past seven years. And I finally took the plunge and bought a triathlon bike. The geometry is totally different -- it's got more aggressive angles that promote the use of your hamstrings. And the gear shifting is in the aero bars (as opposed to the handle bars). Along with the new bike, I got new shoes and pedals. For the past seven years, I've used mountain bike pedals. Now, I've switched to something called Look pedals. Entirely different feel, different way to clip in. It's just all new. The good news is, I didn't wreck on my first ride. But I am super anxious to ride a lot more and get better handling skills.
So, clearly, I am That Girl. Ugh. So sorry.
But here's more great news. I continue to train with AMAZING people who are truly my extended family. We have such joy and commraderie when we train -- because we are all connected to a greater purpose. All of this 'that girl' stuff is secondary (albeit fun) to our real goal -- which is to raise money to kick cancer's bum! And I am so thankful for the ability to train, for the people with whom I train, and for my community of support. Thanks for humoring my insanity while supporting such a worthwhile cause. xo
An Epic Adventure: IronTeam 2011
Jan 24, 2011
An Epic Adventure: IronTeam 2011
January 24, 2011
And we're off! Training got off to a bit of a rocky start. We had our kick-off on January 8, where we had a phenomenal clinic, followed by a five mile run. The next day, I did a 25 mile bike ride followed by a 2 mile run. It was a balmy 29 degrees. Needless to say, I couldn't feel my feet on the 'run,' but I completed the mileage.
And then Atlanta was shut down by Snowmaggedon. Snopocalypse. Icegate. You name it, we had it. A city of over 5million people and 10 snow plows. You do the math. I was trapped inside my house for five days. Not only was I talking to my dogs, but also they were talking back. It was NOT a good scene.
The weather broke (and by that, I mean we could drive without sliding all over creation), and the team met again on January 15. We did an 80 minute trainer class followed by a two mile run. It felt great. But I suppose anything would have felt great at that point.
Since then, I've done 12 workouts (in 9 days). This schedule is no joke. And while the intensity is currently low, my body is having a rough time adjusting. So are my emotions. I seem to swing from exhausted to mad -- with the occasional, "Wow you just swam the longest you've ever swum before in your life. You are gonna make it." It's not quite self-satisfaction, but it is encouraging.
But it's only January. And I'm going to be doing this for 10 more months. Why, you ask? Because we haven't found a cure for cancer -- and because people are diagnosed every day. People I love. People you love. People you don't even know, but somebody loves them. Cancer strikes moms and dads, brothers and sisters, friends and aquaintances. I train so that I can 'earn' fundraising dollars to battle this hateful disease. I train so that I can fight on behalf of those who are fighting in a much different way. And I can't think of anything I'd rather do.
Thanks for checking in and being a part of this journey with me. Your support means the world to me, and to all of those who have been affected by cancer.
Family and Friends,
I have signed up for my eighth year with Team In Training, and it's going to be an epic adventure. The Georgia Chapter of TNT will be launching its inaugural IronTeam on January 8, 2011. This means that for the next year, I will be training to complete a full Ironman event (swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles). It's kind of a big deal.
But why is it important? All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I am completing this event in memory and in honor of all some pretty amazing people: our courageous heroes who have an continue to battle blood cancers. We need your support to cross the ultimate finish line - a cure!
Please make a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance LLS's mission.
I'll be updating my site monthly with progess reports and training anecdotes, so please be sure to check back frequently!
Thank you so much for your support and enouragement -- I couldn't do this without you.