Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The road to the pool is paved with good intentions

Hell is actually a place in Michigan and I've been there several times.
I had every intention of swimming after work today.

But, halfway to work I realized I forgot my swim bag at home. Blah.

I figured I would just pop home and grab it. I called the pool before I left the office since it was cool and overcast, and learned that there was a swim meet happening. Blah.

Then I figured I would go to the downtown pool. But there's a ballgame going on and I'd have to deal with traffic. Blah.

I wasn't feeling great, so I laid down for a few minutes. Next thing I know, I'm waking up and it's dinner time. Blah.

I'm still not feeling great so it's going to be a lazy evening of re-watching the season finale of Game of Thrones and eating chocolate ice cream. Blah.

I'd run, but I ran last night and I don't want to overdo my just-getting-back-to-normal IT band. Blah.

I can't win them all, I guess.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Week in review June 20-26: Strong start, blah middle, strong finish

Not a bad split between swim, bike and run.
So, I may have played hooky mid-week with a Tigers game, a haircut and going out to dinner with friends, but last week started and ended with solid (for me) workouts, so I’m happy.

It was hot again over the weekend (it got into the low 90s yesterday) and I managed a ride after my Saturday morning errands in the beating-down sun. I went through a bottle each of Gatorade and water over the 2.25-ish hours and chugged a bottle of ice water when I got back to the car, and it still took me a while to get fully rehydrated.

The only way I could make a run and a lake swim work yesterday was to do my run bright and early, and while it wasn’t HOT hot yet, it was something like 85% humidity. Gross! I stopped to drink every 2.5 miles (and wipe sweat off… everywhere) and chugged a bottle of Powerade when I got back to the house, but again, it still took me a while to get fully rehydrated. I didn’t FEEL thirsty while I was out there, and while I know that’s not a good indicator of dehydration, I didn’t feel like I should be stopping to drink more often. Maybe for my next hot run I will drink every 1.5 miles and see if that helps.

Anyway, by the numbers it was:

Swim: Three times, twice in the pool and once in the lake, for about 7150 meters in just longer than 3 hours. It was kind of a letdown of a week as far as swims go: My first pool swim of the week was sluggish, and I think that was because my arms and shoulders were still sore from an upper-body workout the day before.

During my second pool swim of the week, I was zipping through my fast (“fast”) 100-meter repeats and feeling awesome, but started hyperventilating again on the second-to-last one. Not going to lie, this is making me a bit nervous. BUT, I could feel my breathing getting more ragged and I still (stupidly) chose not to take a break, plus it was outside with all the allergens, so I’m not sure it’s anything to worry about quite yet.

My lake swim went great, considering – I managed a straighter-than-last-week shot across the lake, and didn’t have any panic attacks. Also, someone on the beach I started from was wearing a bright green shirt. Ha! Although it was already really hot, it wasn’t very sunny, so the crowds weren’t too bad.

Bike: Once on the trainer for 55 minutes (I don’t remember if I was short on time or what) and one road ride for 37 miles in about 2:15. My road ride was another hot and windy day but it was good to get out in the fresh air. I wanted to do an even 40 but I got out a few minutes later than I would have liked – story of my life – and I just don’t like to bike on the road after it opens back up to traffic.

Run: I only made it out twice this week, for one early-morning weekday run of 3 miles and one early-morning Sunday run of 10 miles, which took me a bit longer than 2 hours total. I know I need to run more than twice per week, but it was tough this time around with everything going on.

This is the first double-digit run I have done in a LONG time, since my October marathon; not counting the marathon it’s my first double-digit run since mid-September. I was too in the zone and ready to finish to really appreciate this yesterday, but I’ve come a long way from having to bail on long runs due to my SI joint and IT bands being out of whack. I know I need to be and stay better about doing my pre-hab so it doesn’t happen again, but I think just not running as much is helping a LOT. 15-20 mile per week is a lot easier on the body than 40-50. And while I may not be as fast, at least I am out there.

Weights: One round of upper body lifting: Pullups, pushups, shoulder presses, etc., in about 40 minutes. I had high hopes to do lower body later in the week but that didn’t happen.

I also usually do some stretching during Game of Thrones but this week’s season finale needed my full attention, obviously.

Total: Eight sessions in just shorter than 9 hours. Not too bad.

In other news: I did finally register for a race, the open-water mile and run-swim-run Aquathlon I have done for the last few years. After my minor panic attack in the lake last weekend I made it a point to get back out there yesterday, so I am feeling a lot better about the race. My PR is 36:41 and I don’t expect to beat it this time around. I really just want to have fun at my first race of the season.

Plus: It’s a long weekend coming up, and I might take a few extra days off, so I have that to look forward to. I’m sure among all my barbecuing and fireworks-watching, I can fit in a few extra runs or swims.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mid-week check-in: Playing hooky

I haven’t been doing great for workouts so far this week. I’ve had a bunch of things scheduled or spontaneously occur during the evenings that have put a damper on my training.

Monday and Tuesday were actually good days. I got on the trainer for a while and lifted some upper-body weights Monday, and Tuesday I got in the pool. My swim wasn’t great, and I’m blaming pull-ups the day before for making my arms sore. But it was still a nice evening and an enjoyable swim.

It was a nice night and we ended up winning.
Wednesday I knew my cousin and uncle would be in town for her student orientation (the same cousin and uncle that have been here a few times earlier this year), and they wanted to go to a Tigers game afterward. I knew I wouldn’t get to run in the evening so I got myself out of bed at 5 a.m. for a nice sunrise run. I haven’t done one of those in a while, and I enjoyed the stillness and birds chirping. I also knew we would be out late Wednesday (it was an evening game) so I didn’t plan on anything Thursday morning.

Cinnamon roasted almonds are my ballpark treat.
Yesterday, Thursday, I got to leave work a few hours early so I got a much-needed haircut. I was so tired I was dozing off during my blowout – I am trying to go a bit easier on my late-morning coffee and I skipped yesterday – and I actually took a 20-30 minute nap with the mutts when I got home. I was debating going for a swim or getting on the trainer and ruining my salon hair, when my husband called to say friends wanted to go out for Mexican food. The service sucked and we were there way longer than we wanted, so I only had time to prep today’s lunch and pack tonight’s swim bag before bed, and even then I was pushing it with a late bedtime.

The beans and bacon were good, but not worth the wait.
But I was determined to make it work on less-than-ideal sleep: I had my alarm set for 5 a.m. to get up and run again before work. But but, I started waking up every 5-10 minutes at about 4 a.m., and I was still exhausted, so I resigned myself to the fact that a morning run wasn’t happening and re-set my alarm for later. I kept waking up to birds chirping and cars driving by, and I remember lying in bed and thinking, Why are the birds so loud? When I finally got out of bed I saw my husband had left a living room window open, hence the loud birds. But when he got up I found out he’d opened the window because he’d felt sick, so I couldn’t even be mad at him.

Looking back, I think it was hilarious that I was SO ANNOYED with the loud birds this morning, when I had just enjoyed their chirping on a sunrise run the other day. I guess it makes sense to my tired mind that birds can only chirp when I am already awake.

I do have plans for the weekend but I think I can squeeze in a few quality workouts. I have my swim bag packed and ready to go for tonight, and I want to hit the lake again this weekend. I want to ride my bike again tomorrow, but that’s not my top priority. And I’m going to try, REALLY try, to get up early either tomorrow or Sunday for a long run. “Early” on the weekends isn’t as “early” as during the week so I know I can do it, as long as I can get to bed at a decent hour.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Week in review June 13-19: Lots of swimming and lots of heat

Swim, swim, swim.
Last week was a good one overall. I did more swimming than I have in a week all season, and all of it was outdoors. I only got on my bike once, but I ran and even did a weights video, which had been collecting dust.

I did take one evening off to go faucet shopping with my husband. The romance! We made it a date night with a stop for sushi and I was way too full, and it was way too late, to do any training. No regrets; I’ve never met a spicy tuna roll I didn’t like.

Broken down by sport, it was:

Swim: Three times, twice in my beloved outdoor pool and once in the lake for my first OWS of the season, for about 8,050 meters in about 3 hours, 20 minutes. I was embarrassed by the youth swim team lapping me repeatedly early in the week, but when I did the same workout later in the week I was able to take my average on “fast” repeats down by a second, so that was good to see.

My lake swim went… interestingly. It was a hot day and the water felt wonderfully cool. I always do lake swims with a cheapo version of a swim safety device, basically a pool noodle I attach to my race belt with a shoelace, which I tow behind me. Well, about 100 meters in I was getting very small waves in my face, and I started getting intimidated by how far away the beach was, and that led to a minor panic attack. I grabbed my noodle to rest for a minute and get my breathing under control, and after that I was fine – I made it across the lake and back with no problems. (I mean, I’m slow and can’t swim in a straight line without a black stripe to guide me, but no other problems.) I had the beginnings of a few more freak outs, but I would touch my noodle with my foot, and I was able to calm down again knowing it was there.

This isn’t out of the ordinary for me. I usually have at least a minor panic attack during the first OWS of the season, and maybe the beginning of the first race of the season, too. My routine is a little off since I didn’t do my usual May race, and because I didn’t Sunday, and probably won’t at the upcoming race, wear a wetsuit. I wasn’t making another OWS pre-race a priority, but now I think I will do some schedule shuffling to make sure I get in at least one more lake swim just for peace of mind.

Bike: Once, on the road, for 40 miles in a bit less than 2.5 hours. For once in my life, I was out the door at a decent hour and was able to do a full three laps of the closed-off stretch of road. My 5-mile splits were amazingly consistent, with only 46 seconds between the fastest and the slowest. It was hot and sunny, but I was well-hydrated and well-sunscreened. By all accounts it was a good ride.

I did de-prioritize trainer rides this week knowing that my next race is likely going to be swim-run only.

Run: I only made it out twice this week, for one easy-ish run after work and one LSD Sunday morning, for a total of 14 miles in about 2.25 hours. My shorter run was warmer than anticipated but I still held a decent pace. I did take drink breaks every 2.25 miles of my long run and I was dripping, literally dripping, with sweat by the first break, so there was no doubt they were necessary. Overall it was fine, and I am still successfully continuing to build my long runs one mile at a time. Hooray!

Right now I’m hovering at goal marathon pace +0:45, not counting drink breaks. BUT, I haven’t gotten to the point of fast finishes or GMP repeats or anything like that. I’d like to feel the effort come down a bit first before I start doing any marathon-specific pace training. When I get to 10-12 miles and am still feeling OK, I’ll reassess.

Weights: It was a gloomy day Thursday and I had to work later than I would have liked so I did a Jillian Michaels weights video for 55 minutes. Nothing spectacular except to reinforce how weak I am and how bad at pushups I am.

Total: 7 sessions in just under 9 hours.

Swim, swim, bike, run, swim, repeat. It wasn't a bad week and I hope to build on this to have an even better week next week.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

This season’s loose “race calendar”

Training plan.
I can safely say that I won’t be doing a 70.3 distance triathlon this year. Unless the heavens open and unlimited training time and a perfectly healthy body come floating down to me, I’m going to stick to the shorter stuff.

I haven’t signed up for anything yet because I am paranoid and don’t want to jinx myself and/or waste any money. But my loose “race plan” this year is to do the open water mile and Aquathon I do every year over Independence Day weekend (2015, 2014), and do a couple of sprints or Olympics in August and September. It’s nothing too stressful, but enough to motivate me to get out there and train.

I half-considered doing a triathlon last weekend, but I haven’t even done an open water swim yet this season, and as it turns out I ended up volunteering at one, which was way more fun. I’m swimming at least a mile at a time in the pool, so I know I can do an Olympic swim distance, even if my speed is down the drain (ba dum tsss).

My ultimate goal for my annual open water mile is to get out of the water before a friend of mine who also does this race every year. Ha! My speed lately suggests this would not be possible this time around, sadly. However, we may have to make a friendly wager on the run-swim-run Aquathon, since I could probably beat him on the run parts.

I’ve only been cycling in the 35-mile range lately and, honestly, I’m not missing the longer days and 50-mile rides. 2 to 2.5 hours seems like the perfect range to make it worth getting all my stuff together for a ride, yet not having to dedicate an entire day to one. Plus, I can really only ride long on the weekends, and weekends are for sleeping in, so that limits my time in the saddle to late morning, early afternoon.

As far as running, I have no doubt I can finish a 10K as my “long” runs have been in the 7-8 mile range. But, the question remains to how fast I can go. I’ve had a few fast-for-me-coming-back-from-injury runs, but I’d still like to get those average paces down. Do I want to struggle through a 10K or push through a 5K, which will be over more quickly? Decisions, decisions.

I haven’t ruled out a fall marathon, but I’m going to leave that ball in the air for now. I’m OK with a “wait and see” approach, and I want to get some double-digit miles in my legs – pain-free, preferably – before I make any decisions about training or racing. I’d rather skip a fall marathon if it means I can do the Gasparilla Distance Classic – a 5K, 8K, 15K and half-marathon over two days – in Florida in February. The challenge would be just different enough to shake things up a bit, but it’s still a big goal that would require me to stick to a training plan.

I don’t want to waste all the time I’ve been putting in swimming, biking, and running, so I want to do SOMETHING with my summer. But hey, if I don’t get to do 15 races, and instead only do a few quality events, that’s OK with me too. I mean, even last year I only started four and finished three races, so it’s not like I have been in the habit of racing every weekend anyway.

I want to have fun, keep my legs in check, and stay in shape. If I can collect a bunch of medals doing that – bonus!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Week in review June 6-12: A double dose of the basics

Nothing spectacular.
Whew! Sorry I’m late. I’ve had a busy few days of running errands, prepping food for the week, and, if we’re being honest, catching up on the last few episodes of Silicon Valley.

Last week was a “Just the facts, ma’am” kind of week. I ended up taking two days completely off training, but managed to get in two each of swim, bike and run.

My parents were out of town last week and we dog-sat their Shih Tzu, so I lost an evening to dog shuttling and going out to dinner as a pre-emptive “thank you” from them, as is our routine when we are dog-sitting for each other. On the other dog shuttling night, I talked them into a later dinner so I could get in a swim first. No shame!

I did double up one day and could only fit in a very quick, very late run another day, but I made it work. I spent most of the day Sunday volunteering for a triathlon and while I was too tired to do my own swim and/or run afterward, I don’t regret the great experience.

It broke down to:

Swim: Twice, both in the pool, for 6400 meters total in about 2.75 hours. I am definitely feeling the effects of blowing off my swim for most of May, but I am back in the water and trying to get the work done.

Bike: Twice, one quick ride on the trainer and one 32.75-mile ride on the road, for a total of about 2.75 hours in the saddle. I actually spend only 50 more seconds in the saddle than I did in the pool. Since my next race is (likely) going to be swim/run, I de-prioritized the bike.

Run: Twice, both on the road, for 7 miles in just longer than an hour. This included a “gr8” run after work and a quick 2-miler with my dog at the end of a long day.

Total: Six sessions in about 6 hours, 39 minutes.

So, it was nothing spectacular, and there was nothing to supplement swim-bike-run, but the essentials were there. Like every other week of my life, I wish I had more hours in the day, but I made the most of what I had. And I had some enjoyable workouts, which makes it at least a partial success.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A whole weekend outside

It was a great weekend. Not only did I get in some decent training, but I volunteered at a triathlon for the first time.

Friday night I headed to my outdoor 25 meter pool after work and got in a great 3200 meters before dinner with my parents. Although I was slow, I still enjoyed laps in the beautiful night.
Not a shabby way to start the weekend.
Saturday I got in another outdoor ride on the road closed to traffic. Since I'm incapable of getting out the door at a decent hour I only had about 2 hours to ride, but I made it work. The wind was ridiculous and my headwind laps were depressingly slow, but the tailwind laps were enjoyable.
Who names these things?
Today I was up at 4:30 a.m. to volunteer at what was my first triathlon five years ago. I knew it was going to be a long day but I was excited for it. My first official duty was passing out timing chips. We had a few hiccups with people accidentally grabbing the wrong number, but everyone was reassigned and the missing chips eventually turned up.

I've done this race a total of three times, which was useful when newbies asked me questions: Body marking is at the water. You don't have to wear your number on the bike. Yes I have extra safety pins. I loved talking to the people who were about to do their first tri -- there was a bit of nervousness but a lot of excitement.

After the race actually started, my next duty was to direct bike traffic. I got very good at yelling at the top of my lungs, "LAP TO THE RIGHT, FINISH TO THE LEFT." Bikers were out on the course for several hours overall, so my throat was pretty sore by the end. But it was awesome to see everyone working hard -- from the cyclists at the pointy end to the last woman who slugged it out.

By the time the bike course wrapped up it was time to start breaking down. I spent the next few hours taking down bike racks and run-in arches, and helping load up the trailer. I hung around until 2 p.m. and called it a day. I had been on my feet for 8.5 hours and while it was a great time, I was beat. My only bummer was that it was too late and I was too tired to do my own swim and run. Actually, two bummers: I got sunburned in a couple of odd places, like the tops of my feet.

Ah, the weekends are always too short, but at least I stayed busy and had a good time.