Thursday, July 30, 2015

July’s swimming time trial: I’m ready to give up my goggles for good

Not my best work.
I got out of the water this morning feeling frustrated and defeated. Being the last weekday swim of the month, I did my usual 1,100-yard time trial. This time, I was disappointed with the results – especially, and I’ll get into this more in my monthly review post, since this month marks the most I have ever swum in a month, ever. EVER.

So I had gone to the pool this morning with decent expectations. I had swam a 2:01/100 yard pace in April, a 2:07/100 yard for May, and a 2:06/100 yard for June, so I figured I could knock another second or two off my average. My medium sets have been nothing special lately, but I’ve been pulling some decent-for-me 100-yard sprint times.

I hit my watch in 24:25, a 2:13/100 yard pace. This was not only a significant slowdown from the last few months, but also my slowest time since January. January – when I had just started putting decent time in the pool again. Ugh!

I was concentrating on swimming strong and smoothly, but not necessarily fast. I haven’t slept well these last few days, but Thursday swims usually go better than Tuesday swims for some reason. Plus, I’d done plenty of warming up. I didn't have an excuse.

Maybe I could have gone a bit harder. I'm considering doing another time trial in a week or so to see if this was an aberration and if I can push faster.

Either way, I’m going to get through my race in three weeks, then take a step back and reassess my swimming and what I can change to improve. This is already my second pool and I really don't want to find a third. Coach? Lessons? Switch to duathlon? I barely have time to work and train as it is.

Ugh. It wasn't a good way to start the day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If you don't like the weather in Michigan, go for a run

With every run, a new adventure.
I got to sneak out of work a bit early today, so of course I headed to the running trail. It was hot -- I believe it was the first time this season that I started running with the heat index in the triple digits -- but the humidity wasn't bad and I had my Gatorade, so I figured I'd just take it slowly.

Of course, as soon as I parked the clouds started moving in. I heard a rumble of thunder. But being stubborn, and because I'd already spent a decent amount of time putting on sunscreen that I didn't want to go to waste, I told myself that the storm would swing south and headed out anyway.

The storm did not head south. I made it about 2.5 miles before the rain hit. But hey, no big deal! It had cooled down some! Splashing in puddles is fun! Sadly, my adventure had to be postponed when the lightning started and rain began coming down in sheets. I found a pavilion and hid out for about 20 minutes as the storm passed.

Honestly, it was nice being forced to sit for a while and watch the rain. No one was bothering me and I wasn't juggling nine things at once. I don't get much down time these days and I appreciated it.

Eventually the rain and thunder cleared out. I considered cutting my run short and just heading back to the car, but tough-loved myself into finishing the whole 9 miles. My clothes and shoes were soaked already, so what's a few more puddles? It had warmed up again by the end and gotten MUCH muggier (see in that last weather report the humidity zoomed back up to 85%). Thankfully, I had an extra shirt in my car so I didn't have to hit the grocery store afterward looking too deranged.

100-degree heat index, sheets of rain, humidity -- all in an afternoon's run.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Week in review July 20-26: Fitting in the big workouts around busy evenings

Still some decent training for a step back week.
Sorry I’m late (something I say quite a bit, unfortunately).

This week is already off to a slow start. I had good intentions to wake up super early Monday and do a recovery ride, but after a lousy night’s sleep it just didn’t happen. I got suckered into invited to another committee meeting last night – believe it or not, I do try to have a life outside of work and triathlon occasionally – and although I had more good intentions to do that recovery ride afterward, I just got home too late. But I did get to bed at a decent hour last night, so that’s something!

ANYWAY, last week was full of meetings and appointments in the evenings and a home-improvement project (which is STILL in progress), and as a result I missed a few easy workouts. But the big ones were good ones, so I’m happy with what I did manage to accomplish:

Swim: Twice, both in the pool, for 7,000 yards in a bit more than 2.5 hours. Eh, nothing special there. I skipped my usual weekend lake swim because I just needed a break from the state park.

Bike: Twice, once on the trainer and one 60-miler on the road, for a total of a bit longer than 4.5 hours. It was a good ride and I even rode in aero for a bit!

Two funny things happened regarding my ride that I forgot to mention in my previous blog post: 1. For the second time in as many rides on that route, a bug of some kind flew down my shirt and stung me right on the chest. I guess I need a higher-necked sports bra! 2. When talking about my ride with my dad, who dabbled in cycling and even completed a century when I was younger, he asked me why I stopped at 60 miles when I could have done 62 and called it a metric century. So, I guess I have to go for 62 on my next long-long ride!

Run: Four times, all on the road, for a total of 37 miles in 6 hours. That worked out to two medium-distance runs – one adjusted from the planned speed run on another 90-degree day – a quick brick after my long bike ride, and an early-morning 18-miler to build up that distance for the fall marathon. I would have liked to get in a few shorter runs, but with everything else going on, those were de-prioritized.

Other: Nothing.

Total: 8 sessions in about 13.5 hours. It’s 4 hours less training than last week, but still a decent volume, so I really can’t be that mad at myself.

This week I am hoping to get back into the routine of evening runs – although it’s supposed to be in the 90s all week again – not sleeping through my early mornings, and doing another long three-sport day on the weekend. I’ll appreciate the step-back long run of “only” 12 miles, and maybe try to have a little fun somewhere in there, too.

Only 26 days until race day and only three training weekends left! Eeeek!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

This cycle's 18-miler was not without adventure

A bit slower than I would have liked. All my gear behind is SOAKED in sweat.
It made for a very early morning, but I got out of bed and did my 18-miler before any of the day's commitments.

Humidity was already in the 90%s when I started and I was dripping with sweat by about mile 5. I did get to see the sun rise, which was nice. I took a break at mile 6 to swap out my glasses for sunglasses and got this picture:
The Detroit River. (Canada to the left.)
I got to see a triathlon setting up, which was interesting -- I am never watching from the outside. After I finished my loop and headed back toward home, I noticed a ruckus ahead of me. If I were to continue with my planned route, I'd be joining a 5K! I considered the implications vs. changing my route, and decided to go ahead, try to stay out of the way, and not take any water off the course. I was already at mile 15 or so, so I'm sure I got some strange looks being soaked with sweat so early in the race, not to mention running a 5K with a Camelbak.

My shoes were squishing by then and I just wanted to get home. One person actually stopped riding his bike to laugh at me. I'm not sure if I should feel insulted, but it made me laugh at the time. I would have liked to run a faster pace, but considering the humidity (and tired legs from my 60-miler yesterday) I was happy with an average that started with 9.

This also made me happy:
Yes, please.
Getting up shortly after 5 a.m. on a Sunday isn't fun, but having the rest of the day to do whatever you want sure is. I've done big, important things today like goof around online, drink coffee and play with the dogs. (OK, I did get groceries, too.)

Now to rest the legs and prepare for the week ahead.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Aerobars: A new hope

Smart idea, or did I give up too soon?
Today was my first 60-mile ride of the cycle. Last week, I had tried to adjust my aerobars much farther apart, thinking it would help with my center of gravity and make me more comfortable riding. Well, that didn't work out so well -- I never got the bars, clamps and shims to line up in that perfect order and the aerobars rocked front to back.

(Yes, there is still drywall dust everywhere. Since we already had to pull everything away from the walls, we [OK, my husband] is throwing a "quick" coat of white paint on the walls. But I actually cooked dinner last night and breakfast this morning! And I will not put anything back into my closet that I don't actually wear.)

My big Friday plans included a run, cooking dinner and fixing my aerobars. I know, I know -- it's a rock star life. My trusty hex key and I settled in. I must have unscrewed and re-screwed everything 10 times and it just. wasn't. working. I was getting more and more frustrated.

I turned to the internet, which suggested cutting a strip off a can. Don't bike geeks know that we have a 10-cent can deposit in Michigan? But! That got me thinking. I have some extra bar tape -- just squishy enough that it could hold the clamp in place. I measured it out, gave it a try, and...

It worked! Well enough, anyway. If I pull super hard the bar still moves up and down, but it holds tight enough that I can use them as intended. The REAL moment of truth was today. I've never felt comfortable in aero, but on a false flat with no one else around, I settled in, and held it!!!

I was so excited! I feel like a real triathlete now. I never rode in aero for more than a mile or so at a time, but it's a MUCH bigger improvement from the "OK, I'll hold for five seconds... aaaaahhhhh! I'm going to fall!" conversation I've had with myself every other time. And it was nice to give my wrists a break from leaning on the crossbar.

Best of all, I am learning and practicing with a few weeks yet to go before Michigan Titanium. If I get a few more rounds of practice in between now and then, maybe that will help shave some time off my bike split.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A nightmare scheduling week and a home improvement project mean very little training

The current state of my living room.
This week – ugh! I try not to subscribe to the whole “working for the weekend” mentality since I hate to wish days of my life away, but man, is it over yet?

After having my highest volume training week in months, logging almost 17.5 hours of swim-bike-run last week, this week has been a scheduling nightmare:

On Monday, I was still kind of tired from Sunday’s swim, long bike and long brick, surprisingly, so I just lounged around all evening. Once you put on the Oscar the Grouch pajama pants, you’re not going anywhere else.

Tuesday was my only successful day! I swam in the morning, and later I got to leave work a few hours early so I snuck in a 9-miler before the commitment I had scheduled. But leaving early was the only way I made this work.

On Wednesday, I did a bike trainer ride in the morning and that’s it. I had actually turned off my alarm because I really, REALLY didn’t want to get out of bed, but when I couldn’t fall back asleep within 5 minutes, I guilted myself up and on the bike.

Wednesday evening, I had a dress fitting appointment for my sister-in-law’s wedding in two weeks (!!!), and it lasted all of 10 minutes. I COULD have turned around to head back home and do a run, but… my husband and I had already decided we’d made it a date night. And the pizza and ice cream we had (do we know how to party or what?) were pretty damn delicious.

Thursday, I was exhausted from staying up Wednesday night way later than I would have liked, but I still got up and hit the pool. But I had another evening commitment that ran longer than expected. So not only did I not get to run in the evening, but because of the late night last night...

... I didn't make it up in time to get on the bike trainer this morning.

Severely complicating things even further, we had insulation blown into our walls yesterday. In order to do this in our condo, we had to move EVERYTHING away from the walls, which included dumping my entire closet into a huge pile in my bedroom. We can't move everything back yet because we need to re-patch a few holes and sand. And now my husband has the bright idea to paint and maybe pick out some new furniture while we're walking around giant mountains of all our stuff -- and buried in one is my bike!

Even worse than that, the entire condo is coated in drywall dust, and my kitchen is pretty much unusable for the time being. Between the scheduling and the insulation, we've gone out to eat WAY too many times this week. I make this my solemn vow to get the kitchen clean enough to cook dinner after my run today! If I scrub off the stovetop and only use food straight from the fridge, I should be OK, right?

My next 70.3 is 30 days away and I can't get to my bike, cook, nor breathe for the drywall dust. I could barely find running clothes under all the piles. And now any time I would have spent catching up on meal prep or household chores is going to be spent putting the condo back together again.

Ugh! What do they say about the best-laid plans?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week in review July 13-19: Heat waves, schedule shuffling and aerobar mishaps

Boom shaka laka.
It was one of my best training weeks in a long time. I didn't do any "other," but I hit every single swim, bike and run workout on the schedule. Yes!

I finagled my schedule a bit to do my long run (a step back 12) Saturday morning before brunch and errands, and before the heat advisory kicked in. In the afternoon, my husband I headed to our club's pool to lounge. I did put in a mile of actual swimming between lounge sessions, only running into one drunk guy.

That meant I did my usual Saturday swim-bike-run on Sunday, instead. I got a decently early start and had most of my miles biked before the crowds hit the park for the beaches, my main goal.

Ideally I'd do swim-bike-run on Saturday and long run-recovery swim on Sunday, but with the farmer's market on Saturday only and my long runs getting longer, it's going to be trickier and trickier to make work. Well, one way or the other, I only have four more weekends of training until race day, so I won't have to worry about scheduling for very much longer.

Swim: FOUR times, three times in the pool and once in the lake, for about 10,350 yards in just less than 4 hours. It may be the first time this training season I've swum four times in a week, not counting the weekend I did two races that each included a swim.

Bike: Four times, three times on the trainer and one 50-mile road ride, for a total of about 6 hours, 20 minutes. I almost gave up on the ride since my aerobars worked loose, but I'm glad I gave it try.

Run: Another monster week: Six times, all on the road, for a total of 45 miles. That works out to two half-easy, half-speed runs; one actual easy run; one medium-distance; one 6-mile brick after my 50-mile bike; and one long run, a step back of 12 miles. I did all of that in 7 hours, 1 minute. I couldn't shave 10 seconds off each run??? Ha! 45 miles is second only to the 46.5 I ran last week this training cycle.

Other: Nothing. This was enough.

Total: 14 sessions in SEVENTEEN HOURS and 17 minutes. Wowee! Not my greatest week, but I'm sure it's second or third place.

I'm already off to a slower start this week, taking it easy after my monster weekend, but I plan on jumping into it tomorrow. I have some evening commitments, so I might miss and easy run or two, but I'll get the big ones knocked out. Quality over quantity, right?