Monday, January 20, 2020

Week in review Jan. 13-19: SWIM!!!!!, bike and run

I am very proud of that green bit.
Last week was one of the best training weeks I’ve had in a long time. Not only did I log three runs and three rides, but I lifted weights and did yoga once each, and went to the pool not once but TWICE. Yes – I went to the pool two times, of my own volition.

I had a moment of clarity on Thursday. A friend is good-naturedly pressuring me to join him for an indoor triathlon (pool swim, stationary bike ride, treadmill run) next month. I did it with him YEARS ago and had a blast. I was sitting at my desk and it just hit me – what exactly is stopping me from going to the pool and swimming? And, also – how badly do I want to beat him at this indoor triathlon?

Well, that day I didn’t have my pool bag with me, but that night I vowed to make it happen on Friday. I was already planning on going to the gym after work to use the treadmill (it’s been freezing and icy here, and those conditions are just not for me), so I wanted to suck it up and use the pool while I was already there. I told myself I could sit in the sauna afterward as a reward. And, it worked! I did a mile of mostly kickboard and pull buoy work, but there were a couple of legit laps in there, and I felt a million times better.

Opportunity No. 2 came around on Sunday. It was bitter, borderline dangerously cold outside, and I really didn’t want to do a long run on the treadmill. I had already done the majority of the week’s food prep, so I sucked it up again and headed out to another pool I have access to. Again, I didn’t know what to expect, so I wandered over to the deck before changing to make sure there was a lifeguard and I wasn’t crashing a teenage pool party or anything like that. I wasn’t the only one there, which was reassuring, but it was still pretty quiet. Compared to Friday, I did fewer kickboard warmup laps, the same number of pull buoy laps but on longer intervals, and then a few 100s. Everything felt fine. Well, except for my actual swimming, but that’s a whole other issue. Haha.

So, that was a nice way to end my week. I am really hoping I can regularly add a few swims into my routine. I am not ready to sign up for that indoor tri YET, but I am hoping I can build my confidence back a bit with a few more trips to the pool.

Really, the only disappointment of the week was not squeezing in any PT. I am thrilled with everything else. Except the weather, of course, but there’s not much to be done about that.

By the numbers, it was:

Bike: Three times, all on the trainer, for 63 fake trainer miles in about 4:08. I did a not-so-hard ride on Tuesday since I had done a medium treadmill run on Monday, one hard interval ride on Thursday, and a longer, not-as-hard interval ride on Saturday. This is a routine that’s working for me for the time being.

Run: Three times, all on the treadmill, for 22.5 miles in about 3:45. This was a medium run Monday to make up for not doing a long run the weekend before, an easy run on Wednesday, and a speed run (descending miles) on Friday. This is a setup that will work fine for me if I don’t feel safe (or warm enough) running outside on the weekend, so we’ll see if I can keep it going.

Swim!!!!!: Twice, both in the pool, for 3850 yards in about 1:50. This was a lot of slow drills and otherwise trying to get myself re-acclimated to the water, and I’m not worrying about speed at all right now.

Weights: One round of my heavy/body routine for about 1:15. Nothing special here.

Yoga: One self-guided session of about 15 minutes Sunday night to try to stretch out my hips a bit.

Total: 10 sessions in about 11:13. Hey, my best week of the year so far! Haha.

Except for the lack of PT, I really feel like I made the most of the crappy weather this week. I am hoping for warmer temperatures and that I can keep this momentum going, in that order.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Double and dip

Rock star Friday night.
I didn't have any plans Friday night so I decided I would do my speed run after work and maybe, just maybe, try to swim afterward. I had a great run of descending miles, ending with a 7.0/8:34 mile, which is the fastest I've run on the treadmill for a mile for a long time. Yay!

I haven't swum at this pool in at least three years, maybe longer, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect as far as lessons and busy-ness and the atmosphere of the pool on a Friday night. But there was an empty lane and I settled into a round of mostly kickboard and pull buoy drills, with a couple of freestyle laps just to make sure everything was functioning.

I was afraid not swimming at all in almost a year would make my anxiety kick in, but I did OK. There were a couple of reasons I think why:

1. When I was in the locker room the other day after a run, a mom and little girl were getting ready to get in the pool. The girl kept talking about how scared she was to put her face in the water. Her mom responded in a language I didn't recognize, but I hope she was telling her that the more you do it, the less scary it is. I thought of that little girl as I was swimming, thinking that every lap would be less scary.

2. The pool on a Friday night was ... quite a cast of characters. The guy in the lane next to me looked like he was wearing regular shorts and doggy paddling one length at a time (no judgement on that part; we all start somewhere). There was a guy in another lane trying to impress his girlfriend with underwater flips and hanging out at the very bottom of the pool. I figured if they had the confidence to be in the pool, I surely should, too.

It went OK. I did 2 x 400 with a kickboard, 8 x 100 with a pull buoy, 2 x 50 freestyle, and another 50 with a kickboard to cooldown and make it an even 1750. Not remarkable, but not terrible. I'll take it.

I'm going to try to get into the pool again tomorrow and see how I do. I am really hoping once I swim a couple of times, I'll get right back in the swing of things.

Not counting my kickboard laps. I now have a swim on the official record.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Week in review Jan. 6-12: Flop to start, flop in the middle, flop to finish

Bike, run, blah.
Last week started as a flop and ended as a flop, and although I’m trying to be nice to myself about it, I’m still pretty bummed that it was a dud of a week.

I started out the week bailing on a bike trainer workout, as my legs were still tired from a long run the day before. But, I did spin easy to make an hour, so I gave myself a pat on the back for at least doing something.

I rallied Tuesday and Wednesday with a nice easy run and a redemption ride redoing Monday’s workout, so I was feeling pretty good. Thursday I was without a car during the day and had to pick it up from the dealership after work, and I didn’t get home until past dinnertime. There was no workout that day.

I was back in the game with a nice treadmill speed run Friday and a long ride and weights workout Saturday, but everything was covered in ice and bitter cold on Sunday, and I just couldn’t bring myself to bundle up and head out there. I heard through the running grapevine that runners were slipping and falling all over the place, so I felt fine with my decision. (I don't have ice spikes, and I don't know that I want to commit to them.)

Plus, the changing weather makes my bad knee hurt, and I don’t know how well it would have held up. I had good intentions to go to the pool later, but I dozed off and then it was time to start dinner. I am disappointed in myself for that; I feel like I should have done something small, at least. Sad face, disappointed face.

The plus side is I’m well-rested for today, but I don’t have much to talk about from last week:

Bike: 3 times, all on the trainer, for 62 fake miles in about 4:09. Nothing out of the ordinary here except that ride I had to pull the plug on. And I still got 100K, so even then it wasn’t terrible.

Run: 2 times, both on the treadmill, for 12.5 miles in about 2:03. This was an easy run and a speed run, nothing out of the ordinary there. Everything felt pretty much fine.

Weights: 1 round of my heavy/body routine for about 1:15. At least I did this.

Total: 6 sessions in not quite 7.5 hours.

So yeah, not a great week. I’m happy I had a few small victories, such as the regrouping from a failed workout to an easy spin and getting some good weightlifting in, but… ugh. I feel like I could have done a lot better.

But, there's nothing I can do about it at this point. Time to move on and try to make this week a little better.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2019 goal recap and some loose goals for 2020

I set some goals for 2019 and I didn’t do so great, so I’m not as excited about setting goals for 2020. Still, there are a few things I would like to accomplish this year. Which … I guess are goals.

Here’s what I wanted to do in 2019:

- Continue to rebuild running, SMARTLY. I did this for a while, but then I experienced a strain/inflammation/something in my left hamstring that sent me back to the orthopedist. I scaled way back, had a running evaluation, tried a whole new round of PT/pre-hab exercises, etc. It all did help enough that I was able to start doing actual distance again on my “long” runs by the end of the year.

It wasn’t how I would have liked to see my year play out, though. I didn’t “race” anything, and I didn’t participate in anything longer than a 5K. My spring half-marathon plans got scrapped. But I DID continue to rebuild, even if I had to do it twice. And I did get to run in Buenos Aires and Iowa on vacation.

- Make my PT as much of a priority as running. I had off and on success with this, going in fits and spurts as my schedule allowed.

- Keep cycling on the trainer until it's nice enough to cycle outside. I did do this! Mostly because of scheduling and safety, I only made it outside 8 times, but I was overall pretty consistent with my bike training.

- Test my FTP regularly and get better. I also did this! I really worked hard on the bike and improved my overall FTP by more than 35% between October of 2018 and November of 2019.

- Figure out a pool schedule that works and get over my swimming anxiety or else give it all up, cancel the gym membership, and commit myself to duathlons. The first part of this was a complete fail. I only made it to the pool once all freaking year. But, the second part of this was also a complete fail. I am not ready to quit yet (although I did quite enjoy a duathlon I did in 2018 and would love to do more!)

- Stick with my casual rotation of weights videos, barre class, and a heavy/body routine I do at home. I did do this, but I didn’t lift as often as I would have liked/should have. I randomly decided last fall that I was going to get “better” (knowing that getting “better” at something is a terrible metric) at pullups and chin-ups, and as a result I can now do more pullups and chin-ups than I ever could. So that was a side happy surprise!

- Yoga. I wasn’t very good about incorporating this but especially now that I am a (gulp) master’s athlete and increasing my running mileage again, I find that even 15 minutes at night is enough to feel a million times better.

- Sprint triathlon and a fall marathon. Nope, these didn’t happen. Blech.

So, building off what I DID do last year and what I want to do this coming year, my loose goals for 2020 are:

- Build my long runs to 12 miles/2 hours, then actually train for a spring half marathon. In order of importance, I’d like to 1. Finish; 2. Beat my previous fastest-known split of 2:04:30, which I ran for the second half of my third marathon; or if it’s a perfect day, go 1:59:59.

- Race a 5K, like actually race it, barfing on the finish line, pushing myself to the absolute fastest I can go.

- Run in another new-to-me place on vacation or on some other adventure.

- Add in one more easy run to my week so I’m averaging four times per week.

- A fall marathon would be my A+++++ goal for 2020, assuming I can avoid further injury to my knee and hamstring.

- Continue with my PT/pre-hab and build to at least 2, preferably 3 times per week. I haven’t discovered the secret sauce to this yet so I will really need to think about what has to go to make this work. Squeezing it in is NOT working.

- Have another running evaluation this spring or summer to see if things are looking any better, or if I need to do any other exercises to balance, strengthen, and otherwise make myself less susceptible to injury.

- Keep working on the trainer and increase my overall FTP by 10%. This is going to take a lot of work but if I can shoot for 1.5% increases every other month or so, I believe this is do-able.

- Also, right now I am doing two shorter, hard workouts and one longer, easier workout most weeks, and I would like to add in one more easier spin most weeks.

- Get my butt to the pool. Seriously. I have access to multiple pools. I need to just get in and swim a few times. I know the feel of the water will come back to me. I just need to get in and get over my anxiety those first few times.

- After I start getting my butt to the pool again, do at least one sprint triathlon. I miss the thrill of racing, the anticipation of lining up with the sunrise and waiting for the horn to blow, the feeling of a finish chute sprint. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it and how much I miss it.

- Keep lifting weights and working on pullups and chin-ups. I’d like to get to a twice per week average of a mix of barre, my at-home routine, and my couple regular weights videos. I’d like to do three sets of five full hanging pullups by the end of the year. That makes my traps hurt just thinking about it, but think of what a bad-ass I will be! Haha.

- Yoga, yoga, yoga. Even a quick session a few nights a week will make me feel a lot better. Like with PT, I need to figure out what has to go to make this happen, because squeezing it in isn’t working.

I’m not feeling good about a word of the year for 2020. I settled on a phrase for last year, “Arrive, Drive, Strive, Thrive, Alive,” and I feel I had too many disappointments with that. So I’m going to hold off on picking a word. Maybe one will come to me, maybe not. I’m fine either way.

Like I said, loose goals. But this will definitely be enough to get me started and focused on having a good year. To be continued....

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

2019 highs and lows

Run and bike hours by month, which made up the vast majority of my training.
2019 was a doozy of a year. January and February started off strong-ish as I worked on getting more consistent with bike workouts, continuing to slowly rebuild running, and trying to add in PT/pre-hab and weights often enough to prevent injury and build strength. I went to Argentina in March and pulled/inflamed/did something to my left hamstring (unrelated to the trip), which sent me back to physical therapy and gave me yet another unwanted break from running for the entire month of April.

But I was back to wogging come May, got outside on my bike a couple times in June and July, and was not great but OK with weights and PT over the summer. I had a running evaluation and ran a fun 5K in August, which ended up being my second-highest month of 2019 as far as volume. I managed a decent September even with family and work commitments, and ran another fun 5K in October. November was pretty light as the holidays started kicking in and multiple birthdays were celebrated, but I still managed decent volume, considering. December, the year’s highest volume month overall, saw running victories as I continued to rebuild mileage very slowly, added in moderate speed work, and ran one last fun 5K to finish out the year.

For the past couple of years it’s been: Start out strong, have a setback, course correct, return. 2019 was no different.

Numbers-wise, 2019 consisted of:

Bike: 133 times, 125 on the trainer and 8 on the road, for 2,203.5 trainer miles and 244.9 (seriously?) road miles in 168:13:35.

Another cycling thing to note: I increased my FTP via Trainer Road significantly this year through consistency and challenging myself with hard workouts. From October of 2018, when I really started getting serious, and November of 2019, my last FTP test, I increased my power by more than 35%. Yes, the bar was low to begin with, but it was still a lot of hard work and consistent riding.

Run: 114 times, 86 on the road and 28 on the treadmill, for 568 miles in 103:07:24. Not my best year by a long shot but still an improvement from last year as I recovered from injury.

PT: 72 times, 9 at the clinic and the rest at home, for 53:55:00-ish. This seems great at first glance but there are 52 weeks in a year so this should be closer to 156 times! I am working on it.

Weights: 45 times – 18 videos, 15 barre classes, and 12 at-home heavy/body weight sessions – for about 49:10:00. Again, this seems like a lot at first glance until you realize there are 52 weeks in a year and it should be closer to 104 times. I am impressed with myself for making it to barre so often, though.

Yoga: 21 times, all at home, for about 5:25:00. Ugh, not nearly enough! No wonder I am tight and sore all the time.

Swim: This is depressing, but I only swam once last year for 1600 yards (I couldn’t even do the math to make it a full mile), doing drills for 50:11. I had good intentions all year but I let anxiety and my schedule get the better of me. I really do want to get back into swimming.

Other: I did some boxing moves at home a couple of times when I was off running and needed to warm up for weights or PT, 2 times for 40:00 total.

Total: And the grand total is… drumroll please… 389 sessions in 381:21:10. I would have liked to hit 400 at least, but considering my hamstring issues, I am not unhappy. I am still ahead of an hour-a-day average, and I was pretty consistent year-round.

I went back a few years to see how 2019 compared to previous years:
(Easily available data. I'm not going to go back four years to convert wind trainer time into miles.)
2015: This was the fittest I’ve been in a long time. It was my highest swim year, highest bike year, and second highest run year. (I JUST missed 2015’s bike volume total in 2019 by a couple of hours.) I also got a new job that year, which resulted in zero work-from-home ability and a longer commute, which I think I am still recovering from (ha). I also dealt with SI joint and IT band issues while training for my last marathon, that October.

2016: I started the year swimming, biking, and running pretty evenly, but scaled back to get my thyroid under control and pace my husband to his first half-marathon.

2017: I was in good running shape and broke 1,000 miles for only the fourth time in my life, and although cycling got off to a slow start, I also got serious about indoor riding with speed and cadence sensors. And then I hurt my knee.

2018: I was still recovering from my knee injury so I started off slowly. I did swim a few times but didn’t bike or run nearly as much as I did in 2019, and lifted weights a bit more often. It was also the Year of Physical Therapy.

It's interesting, if nothing else, to see how my priorities have adjusted to life, injuries, setbacks, etc. over the year.

Of course I wish I could have accomplished more but I'm overall happy with 2019. I made a lot of strides on the bike trainer and built my running back up. I also got to run in Argentina! How cool is that!

It was a good year with a lot of lessons learned. Here's hoping 2020 is healthier, with fewer setbacks, more vacation runs, no trips to the orthopedist, little to no blisters, and lots of fun.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Week in review Dec. 30-Jan. 5: Running from one year to the next

Some solid run and bike volume here.
Well, it was a fun holiday break but it was back to reality last Thursday. Even though I only had to work two days last week those were a LOOOOONG two days and I was happy for the weekend to come so soon.

I made the most of my week by doing two training sessions Monday through Wednesday and squeezing in one extra run. I was pretty tired Thursday and Friday, but I did manage one workout after work both days. I really wanted to lift weights Saturday but I called it after a hard two-hour trainer ride and relaxed instead. I did squeeze in my long run yesterday, but shortly afterward we were off to a birthday party and I didn’t have time for anything else. Darn it, real life adulthood!

I still managed 10 workouts and more than 10 hours of training, so still a really good week. It was:

Run: Four times, three on the road (one race) and one on the treadmill for 26.31 miles (marathon distance!) in about 4.5 hours. This week was quite a doozy for running:
  • Tuesday, Dec. 31, I ran a last-minute, very cold 5K to finish up the year. Since it was easy and short for me...
  • I also ran on Wednesday, Jan. 1, to kick off the new year. I couldn't let a sunshiney Jan. 1 pass me by!
  • I had to do speed work on the treadmill after work (boo) on Friday, but managed 6 descending miles with little ado.
  • And on Sunday I ran double digits for the first time in a while, even though it started SNOWING on me at about mile 6. Even though I was covered in snow and my chin was frozen (my buff failed me on this one), I figured I was already cold and snowy so why not finish? I was definitely the only crazy runner out there and was proud of myself for sticking it out for a full 10.
Bike: Three times, all on the trainer, for 63 fake trainer miles in about 4:05. This was my usual two shorter rides and one long ride. For some reason the last hour of my Saturday ride was a grind and I really struggled, having to take a few breaks on the last 20-minute interval. I was pretty zapped by the end and called it a day. I was disappointed in myself for not rallying for some weights and PT, but I think the relaxing and watching a movie instead did me good in a different way.

Once, my heavy/body routine, in about 1:15. I did this Monday afternoon on a nice, quiet day between holidays.

PT: Once for about 35 minutes. Ugh, as expected, this was the first to fall off the cliff once I was back into my normal routine. And I did so well last week! This has to be a focus for 2020, especially as I’m running double-digit mileage again.

Yoga: Once at home for 20 minutes. This was the last thing I did for 2019. =)

Total: 10 sessions in about 10:44. There were a lot of good things happening this week, and that’s a good volume for me, so I’m counting this as a success.

I got the year off to a good start and I’m hoping to continue strong for as long as I can and with whatever time I can squeeze into my day. I’m looking forward to another good week.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Ending the year with a 5K: 50th Annual Belle Isle New Year’s Eve Family Fun Run race report

The shirts were actually different shades of blue and the medal sparkles!
We had a stretch of above-average temperatures around the Christmas holiday, which meant I ran outside and enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air for two weeks or so. The 50th Annual Belle Isle New Year's Eve Family Fun Run was on our radar, but we put off signing up because the weather was expected to turn cold that day. Why ruin a good thing?

But my husband and I decided at the last minute that we would tough it out and signed up the day before, a few hours before the online cutoff (we wanted the shirts). We’ve never done this race before, so we didn’t know what to expect, and were surprised to see it was the 50th annual running. We figured it would be fun and if nothing else, get us out of the house on a cold New Year’s Eve.

And, sure enough, the weather turned cold just in time for the race. The temperature was 30 degrees (-1 C) but the “feels like” was 19 (-7). There is always a breeze from the Detroit River somewhere on Belle Isle, Detroit’s island park; great in the summer, not-so-great in the dead of winter.

But we bundled up and headed out to the island shortly before 3 p.m. for the 4 p.m. race start. I was layered up in wool socks over running socks, fleece run tights under wind pants, a running coat over t-shirts, a buff, heavy gloves, and a heavy hat. I run cold, so I was actually dressed almost perfectly except my hat could have been a touch more windproof.

There was ample parking and we checked in and got our shirts and bibs easily, showing our online registration QR codes. I can’t believe I did this, but I forgot to grab race belts! So now we have 8 more tiny safety pins to add to our growing collection, lol. Luckily, that was the only snafu of the day. We noticed on our trips between the car and registration that there was quite a bit of ice in the parking lot, which made me a bit nervous. A few people were clomping around in YakTrax or other running shoe ice spikes.

We waited inside as long as possible until organizers finally kicked us outside about 5 minutes before the race started. It was cold! I saw a couple people running in holiday-themed onesie pajamas – genius! I figured we would warm up once we got moving. I don’t remember if there was a horn but before long we were off, right into the wind. Luckily, the course took us around one point of the island but then through the central part, which protected us from getting too cold. There were ice patches here and there but the road conditions weren’t too bad. Honestly, it was so cold and breezy that was all I could think about. I tried to enjoy the scenery of the beautiful island park but mostly I just hunched down into my buff and tried to stay warm.

My husband hasn’t been running at all lately so I shuffled slowly just in front of him for pretty much the whole time. I could tell he was cold and miserable (the things we do for a t-shirt and medal) so I tried to be encouraging without being annoying. About halfway through the course we ran into a friend of ours and those two chatted for a bit. I see how it is, you chat with your friend but not your wife? Harumph. It actually worked out fine because I needed to run around the parking lot once or twice for 3.31 miles so I could have a whole number for the year’s mileage. By the time I was done the guys had finished the race and we headed inside for water and bananas. We didn’t stay long – traffic started clearing out shortly afterward and we were off the island and heading home quickly. We wanted to get back home to warm showers, blankets, and dog lap warmers.

We paid $40 each plus fees for this race, which isn’t out of line with the other 5Ks we do. We each got a nice, long-sleeved tech tee and a fun medal, plus an excuse to get out of the house and do something healthy to wrap up the year, even if it was cold. I’d do it again, but I might hold out for warmer temperatures next time.

All in all, a fun race, fun swag, and a fun way to end the year – not a bad way to say good-bye to 2019.