Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A belated Sept. 10-16 week in review

Guys. This last week has been incredibly busy. I was at a conference for a few days, at a college football game all day Saturday, and managing multiple projects at work. I'm not sure whose bright idea it was to have several huge things happen next week and I'm at my wit's end.

So, this little corner of blogworld has been, and probably will be for another week or so, neglected. But, at the very least, I wanted to do a quick write-up of what happened last week for posterity.
Considering my crappy week, I'll take it.
PT: Three homework sessions for about 2 hours.

Bike: Twice, both on the trainer, for 10 fake trainer miles in about 1:44.

Run/walk: Twice, both on the road, for 8.25 miles in about 1:37.

Weights: One barre class for about an hour.

Total: Eight sessions in about 6:21. I mean, it wasn't terrible, considering, so I won't complain.

A couple other things of note:

I've been going to barre Monday nights for a while now, 6 of the past 7 Mondays (although one of those was during the day on Labor Day). It seems to be working for me for some reason; the start time isn't so early that I have to rush from work, it's an hour that I can compartmentalize without using too much brain effort on a Monday, it's a day off from cardio on the day after I usually run, etc.

I've been adding a bit more resistance to my bike rides and feeling OK. I wish I could carve out more time to ride outside on the weekends but this is where I'm at for now. I feel pretty good about re-starting my Trainer Road subscription in the next month or two.

Running is also coming along. I've been doing 6:00 run/1:00 walk and will probably add another minute to the run intervals next week while keeping the 1 minute recovery. I have the odd discomfort in my knee but have not had actual pain in a while, knock on wood. I'll probably get myself to a 10:00/1:00 rotation before I consider myself "healed" enough to run nonstop regularly.

I need more time in the day/to win the lottery/to make a few clones of me to do the day job, housecleaning, food prepping, etc. so the real me can just train, play with the dogs, and garden all day.

I miss swimming. I miss training for a big (even a relatively "big") event. I miss the athlete I was a few years ago. I want to get back to half-iron and full marathon shape. I know it will take time and I need to be patient. Getting my knee back into run/walk shape and getting my thyroid meds under control so I stopped having anxiety attacks were big steps in the right direction. I need to keep taking these baby steps and trust the process. It doesn't mean I have to like it, but I will do it. I will be back! Eventually.

Lastly, my sister just moved to a town that hosts an Ironman 70.3. It's tempting. It may have to be my comeback race next year... we'll see.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Week in review Sept. 3-9: Meets expectations

Not a shabby week.
If I were evaluating my week I would say it “met expectations.” I did my usual amount of biking and running, and did a little bit of PT, weight lifting, and yoga. Overall it wasn’t bad, even if there was nothing spectacular about it.

I had Monday off work for Labor Day and went to a morning barre class, and did my PT later in the day. It got hotter and hotter during the week, so while my trainer ride and PT indoors Tuesday was fine, I couldn’t muster up any energy Wednesday to run outside in 90-something heat. (We went out to dinner instead.) I did make up for it by doing a two-a-day of a run before work and a trainer ride after work on Thursday.

It was much cooler on Friday and Saturday, and I did something that a resembled a speed run after work Friday followed by an outdoor ride Saturday, hooray! By Sunday it was downright chilly and I ran in tights and a long-sleeved shirt. From too hot to run outside to long pants and sleeves within four days. That’s living in Michigan, in a nutshell.

By the numbers:

Bike: 3 times, 2 x 10 fake miles on the trainer and one 25-mile ride on the road, for about 3:18 total. I was very proud of myself for changing out my rear tube before my ride on Saturday (I snapped off the rear stem valve AGAIN before my race last weekend), but it did take a bit of time and I could only do two laps of my closed-to-traffic route before it opened again.

Run/walk: 3 times, all on the road, for 12.35 miles in about 2:18. This was one super-early run, one kind-of-speedy run, and one a-bit-longer-than-normal run. I’m going to do the 6:00 run, 1:00 walk interval ratio for another week, I think.

PT: 2 solo sessions for about 1:15 each. Not NEARLY enough. I start the week with good intentions and lose more and more time in the evenings as I try to catch up on other stuff, and PT suffers.

Weights: One hour-long barre class. We hung out with friends Saturday evening, so I made a dish to pass for that instead of doing my heavy weight routine. No regrets; they fed us spare ribs from their smoker.

Yoga: I did do a quick 15-minute session Sunday night after I was done food prepping, before bedtime, when I really didn’t have enough time to do either of my PT routines.

Total: 10 sessions for a bit longer than 8 hours.

This is what I am happy with right now for bike and run. Of course I would like to add more PT, yoga, and weights, but I am happy I did a little bit of everything. Getting in the pool isn’t a priority right now; maybe I will change things around once the weather turns and I’m not looking to be outside much.

Speaking of weather, it’s supposed to warm back up this week so I am looking forward to a few more runs in t-shirts and shorts yet this season. I am hoping to get a few more rides in and as many runs as possible before there's five feet of snow on the ground.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Race report: 3 Disciplines Michigan Championship Duathlon, my first du

The transition from three-day weekend back to real life has been rougher than anticipated and I’m a bit behind in everything. I’ve been trying to carve out time to write a race report while my thoughts are still fresh!


As I built back my running and biking this summer, I knew I wanted to do some multisport race, even if I’m not swimming at all right now. A friend clued me into a race in early September right down the street from me, at a venue and through a race company I have done multiple times before, that included a duathlon option. Perfect!

Because I am paranoid, I didn’t sign up until the last minute. I did a mock run-bike-run workout about a week beforehand to test everything out, and kept a close eye on the weather. The day before, I decided it was time to stop being a wuss and drove to the venue to sign up. I’ve done a dozen or so triathlons but had never done a duathlon, so as long as I crossed the finish line it would be an automatic PR.

My husband was out of town that weekend so I didn’t have any support to get pics, help with logistics, or carry a dry bag for me, which meant I had to be extra careful while preparing. I spent a good couple of hours Saturday night cleaning my bike (and finally taking off the reflectors and broken computer), charging my Garmin, gathering all my equipment, and freezing water bottles. I decided to use my road bike because my triathlon bike is in desperate need of a tune-up and probably a new rear tire, and I haven’t ridden it on the road in years. I got everything as ready as possible the night before.

I didn’t sleep very well – race day nerves exist no matter how many you have done, I guess – and was up at 5 a.m. My dogs weren’t happy about being woken up earlier than normal from their beauty rest, and my pit decided 5:30 a.m. was a fun time to chase a rat in the alley. When she jerked the leash I got that familiar twinge in my knee and thought, OH NO. I decided to play it safe and took one ibuprofen with breakfast, just in case.

I sunscreened up, ate a bit of sweet potato and some frozen coffee cube-coconut milk-cocoa powder smoothie (delicious!), and headed out shortly after 6 a.m. to get to the race site in plenty of time. I got there early enough to get a great parking spot so I made several trips between my car and transition rather than try to carry everything at once.

Now, this is where it gets weird: I was pumping my tires beforehand and the valve stem snapped off my rear tire again! This EXACT thing happened while getting ready for my second 70.3 attempt in 2015, on my tri bike! I have no idea what to make of this. Am I having difficulty pumping tires in the dark? Are pre-race nerves messing with how I use my pump? I was stunned and then got worried. Would I come back from the first run to find a flat tire? What if it went flat while I was riding? There wasn’t a whole lot I could do at that point except cross my fingers and hope it held out for a couple of hours.

The race was set up so the duathlon transition was in one spot, which was T2 for triathletes, and the swim and du start was near T1, about a mile away. I made sure my bike, helmet, shoes, and gloves (yes, I decided to wear my gloves) were ready to go and made the casual trek down to the start. The sun was starting to come up but it was already warm and muggy. I had a lot of time to kill before the duathletes started so I wandered around, people watched, used the real bathroom by the water, ate a fruit-and-nut snack bar, and cheered for the waves going in the water.

Finally it was getting close to du time! I chucked my dry bag with my car key and glasses into the trailer that would take everything to T2. After we lined up at the start, I realized I had left my race belt and bib in the bag! Eeeeek! One other woman was also missing her bib, but we were numbered up on our arms and had timing chips on our ankles, so I assumed it wouldn’t be a big deal and it never even came up later. Whew!

I sized up my competition as we all made friendly chit-chat. There were 7 men and 5 other women, a couple of whom I assumed would be pretty fast. Confession: I had looked up race times from the event last year and knew that I could make top 3 on a good day. I had a lot of unknowns at the start line – my knee, the weather, my bike tire – but I know if everything came together I would be OK. Finally we were off!

The race:

Since we were such a small group we really didn’t have an officially marked course. We headed down a path about a mile, turned around at a sign, and hopped back into what would be the second run course, but in reverse, toward our transition. We spread out pretty good and I fell into third place woman quickly. It was HOT already and I was focused on just not doing anything stupid – running at a comfortably challenging pace and not overdoing it. Before too long I was at my bike with no issue. It was supposed to be a 5K but I came in at about 2.8 miles.

I completely forgot to check my back tire and did a quick shoe change, threw on gloves and helmet, switched over my Garmin, and clomped over to bike out. The course was two laps of an island park that goes one-way counter-clockwise, and because we only had one lane of traffic we rode to the left and passed on the right. It was strange doing the complete opposite of everything you know about biking! I heard “on your right” a LOT during the first lap, but I was paranoid about my tire and didn’t want to kill my knee right off the bat.

After I realized my tire was fine I was able to settle in a bit. At the end of the first lap I passed the third place woman! Not going to lie, when I saw she was on a non-racing bike I thought, “Yes!” The second lap was a bit better for the ego as I passed a bunch of slow people and more non-racing bikes. I dismounted without incident and clomped back to my transition spot for the second run.

A huge, scary, black cloud was moving in and I thought, “We might get wet.” It was SO hot but at least the cloud cover was keeping the sun off us. We had to do a loop on rough gravel in a wooded area, so not only was it rough on the feet, the hot air was now stagnant with the trees blocking any breeze. I was breathing SO hard, definitely not sneaking up on anyone, but feeling surprisingly OK. I drank some water on the course and threw some more down my back.

I tried to keep a steady pace and concentrated on picking people off one at a time. A couple of times, I started feeling a little nauseous so I just backed off a bit. After we got out of the wooded area and back into the breeze I felt a lot better and could pick up the pace a bit. My knee felt fine and I was going with it. The finish line came into earshot and view. I decided I could pick it up a bit more and blew by a couple of guys. They announced my name as I crossed the finish line. I had done it! I may have ugly cried for a minute as I caught my breath. I was a duathlete!

Official results for the du still aren’t on the website, but my Garmin says I ran 2.8 in 26:56 (9:38 minute per mile pace), biked 10.88 in 41:26 (15.8 mph), and ran 3.36 in 30:32 (9:06 pace). I tried to stop and save the workouts as I was coming into transition both times, so assume a couple of extra minutes for transitions. I saw 1:41:39 on the unofficial results posted at the race. (First place was a good 6:30 ahead of me, so it wasn't even close.)
You've seen this already, but... I didn't take many pictures.
I forgot that this race doesn’t do awards until almost everyone is off the course and I wanted to hang around, assuming I had finished second or third. I had completely forgotten to bring a post-race snack! They had watermelon at the finish, and a delicious smelling fresh waffle bar, but sadly I have food allergies so those were off limits. I ate a bunch of watermelon and tried not to think about it. Luckily the rain cloud blew over, because it was a good hour and a half before du results were posted – without our splits, as there was a “glitch,” apparently, and only after a fellow duathlete complained – and I saw I did finish second. Hooray! But I had to wait around another hour for the awards ceremony and then for them to finally get to the duathlon, which was awarded last. I figured we would be, but the lack of results, the lack of splits, and the awards at the very end kind of made me feel like we were the odd ones out.

By that time it was after noon and I had been at the park for almost six hours. I stopped for a Tim Horton’s on the way home but I had to get home asap to let the dogs out. I finally had some food and a well-deserved shower. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent going grocery shopping and doing some cooking.

Overall? It was a fun way to spend a morning and an exciting new challenge. I was happy my body and my bike tire held out. I was very happy with the results and that I placed so well.

I did feel like we duathletes got the short end of the stick. Sure, there were a dozen of us and hundreds of triathletes, so I understand that you have to spend your time and money where you'll get the highest ROI. But... to not even post our results until someone complains? Come on.

I'd probably do this race again because it's so close and convenient. I don't know that I'd do the du again, but now that I have my automatic PR, I might try to do it faster. I would definitely budget better for time and bring a post-race snack.

In the end, I had a great time and my body and bike cooperated, which was about all I can ask for on any given day.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Week in review Aug. 27-Sept. 2: Not a lot of volume but a multisport RACE!

Lots of running and a decent amount of other stuff.
I didn't do a lot of volume last week but I had a lot of success otherwise. I ran the most times and the farthest that I have in a long time, and I did my first multisport race in three years with a duathlon on Sunday (race report coming soon).

The week included taking a day off to rest up before my race and a couple of multiple sessions on other days. I had good luck with the weather and got to run outside for all of my runs, although it was hot and muggy — one night I waited until the sun went down but the real feel was still hotter than 90 degrees. But I can handle hot and muggy; I just slow it down.

Overall, the week included:

Run: FIVE times if you count both runs of my duathlon separately, all outside, for 15.76 miles in about 2:48. I haven't run five times in months, and everything felt mostly OK. It's also the most I've run in a week since I came back to running in May. So overall, I'm thrilled with the week, but am also looking forward to taking it easy this coming week.

Bike: Three times, twice on the trainer for 15 fake miles and one outdoor race on the road for 10.88 miles, for about 2:07 overall. No surprises here.

Pre-hab/PT: Two sessions for about 1:15 overall. Not nearly enough.

Weights: One hour-long barre class. I didn't do my Saturday routine because I didn't want to be sore for my Sunday race.

Total: 11 sessions in about 7:09. This is still an hour a day and includes a race, so I'm happy with it.

Besides training, I did a lot of garden work and cooking up all that garden produce, which will continue into this week, too. I ran some errands one night and I hung out with friends one day. So while I could have done more training, I had a great race and spend some time doing "other," which is about all I can ask for.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

I did a du!

I wasn't sure if I wanted to do a nearby duathlon this morning, but I finally signed up yesterday. And this was the result:
Not bad for my first shot!
There were only 6 women, but still.

Full report coming later.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

August in review: More running! More biking!

I had to do this in minutes because there was so little yoga. Ha!
I knew I was on track to hit 50 running miles for the month, but I hadn't bothered to add up anything else as the 31st drew near. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that August wasn't half-bad, overall.

I did a good amount of biking and running, a satisfactory amount of weights and PT, not enough yoga, and zero swimming. I didn't do anything else, fitness-wise. August was pretty boring overall: I didn't take any trips longer than a day, I had to work a bunch of nights, etc. I did spend a bit of time with friends and work in the garden a bunch, so I did get to enjoy my summer a bit.

I mean, I would have loved to win the lottery and fart around at the pool, or on my bike, or on the running trail all day, but what I DID get done wasn't terrible:

Bike: 12 times, 11 trainer rides of 112.75 fake trainer miles total and 1 road ride of 35 miles, for a total time of about 12 hours, 13 minutes. Not bad! This is up a bit from last month. My knee felt stronger and I went longer and a bit harder on the trainer, although I do wish I could have ridden outside more than once this month.

Run: 13 times, all on the road, for 50.1 miles in about 10 hours, 15 minutes. This is longer, more frequent, AND faster overall from July. I've had the odd knee twinge but I have been careful not to push so much that I get actual pain. By building slowly and carefully, I was able to reduce my walking intervals and run a bit faster here and there.

Pre-hab/PT: 10 times, all at home, for about 6:45. This should have been double or triple, but after a long day at work I usually have time for ONE thing and that ONE thing is usually a run or a trainer ride. I need to continue to work on carving out the time and building this.

Weights: 6 times, 4 barre classes and 2 at-home heavy/body weight sessions, for about 6:30. My 10-class barre pass has kept me honest, for sure. This was down a bit from last month but there were a few Saturdays where plans with friends took priority. I need to enjoy these summer nights outside with loved ones while I still can.

Yoga: I only did one 20-minute session. Better than nothing, but I just find this hard to squeeze in among everything else.

Total: 42 sessions in just longer than 36 hours. This still works out to more than a session a day for more than an hour a day, so I really can't complain.

At the beginning of each month, I have been looking back at the casual goals I made for myself at the beginning of the year:

Work through my health issues and re-start a training schedule that gets me back to racing. I do feel like I'm getting there. I have been doing actual speedy runs from time to time and have been biking on the trainer a bit more like regular training.

Run some cool places, maybe another marathon. This didn't happen this month.

Work on whole-body health, incorporating things like yoga and pre-hab. Working on this.

Keep a healthy work-life-training-family-friends-other balance. I did have a good month for hanging out with friends, celebrated my parents' 43rd wedding anniversary, and spent a day with my grandmother and aunts. All good for the soul.

Have fun. I mean, I didn't take any exotic vacations, but I did squeeze in some of this, too.

It doesn't always have to be exciting. Sometimes it's just boring ol' consistency. I hope this consistency pays off as I continue to build back my fitness.

Friday, August 31, 2018

50 running miles!

I did a quick run this afternoon to make 50 for the month!
Slow, steady build since I started running again.
It may not seem like a big deal but it was only a few months ago when I was running zero miles per month, thanks to a fissure in the articular cartilage in my left knee.

Almost all of them were run/walks, but I cut my walking from 5:00/2:00 intervals to 5:30/1:30 with no problems. And I did have a couple of straight runs, which I wasn't able to do a few months ago. So, I'm happy with my progress.

My overall pace has also improved as I shorten the walking intervals and lengthen the running intervals, bit by bit:
I'm getting closer to an actual running pace!
As long as my knee continues to cooperate, I am hopeful that I am FINALLY on the path toward being an actual runner once again.