Saturday, July 4, 2015

Long weekend training: A good swim, a deteriorating run, a great bike, and a race tomorrow!

This weather should not have kicked my butt.
It's a three-day weekend, hooray! Happy Independence Day to my American readers. And happy belated Canada Day to my northern (southern from Detroit!) friends.

I had plans to get up early Friday morning and hit the state park for a swim and run as soon as it opened at 8 a.m. Can I just say: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That did not happen. To be fair, though, I did run several errands after work Thursday, going for my run, then hitting the grocery store, then watering my garden before heading home for a late dinner and relaxation time. On Friday, I slept in and lounged around a bit before heading out to the park at the more reasonable hour of 10 a.m.-ish.

It hadn't really warmed up yet and it was a perfect swim across the lake and back without any holiday crowds. The water was right on the cusp of wetsuit temperature and I did wear mine, although I've never worn one for the open-water mile I'm doing tomorrow and I have yet to do a lake swim without one this year. Well, I'll just have to get in the water early and splash around a bit. Yesterday's swim was the fastest I've gone across the lake and back yet this year by about 10 seconds, so I'll take that as a success!

After my swim I ate a Gu and a banana and changed into my run clothes before heading out for an easy-ish 12. It was starting to warm up a bit but was still a clear and beautiful day. The first half felt great. Then I started feeling crappier and crappier. Every step hurt, I was getting tired, and I seriously considered cutting it short. I ended up taking a break in the shade at about mile 9.5 and refilled my water bottle. I finished the run, but I kept squirting myself with water so I'd stay cooler. Ugh -- I was dying!

I checked the weather and saw it was only 76 degrees with 48% humidity, which is practically nothing this time of year. The dew point was at 55 degrees, which is high-ish, but I've run in higher with fewer problems. Not to be gross, but after a trip to the bathroom I realized I was pretty dehydrated. Aha! After more water and an iced latte I felt like myself again.

Note to self: 12 miles is nothing to sneeze at, so make sure you are prepared ahead of time! I hadn't had much to drink that day other than coffee, and I sure paid the price. Luckily, I learned that the easy way. I'll be better about my water intake before long training days for the rest of the season.

Today I wanted to get in a decent bike ride so I headed out to a local route that is closed to traffic for a few hours on Saturdays during the summer. I was later than I would have liked (story of my life), but I did have a nice breakfast and make it to the market beforehand. I ended up doing 52 miles at an average speed that I don't think I've ever seen before. Now, this route is much flatter than the state park, but it still felt good to be putting in some solid work. Proof positive that my bike is improving, ever so slightly.

Tomorrow I'm signed up to race an open-water mile and run-swim-run Aquathon, which I did and wrote about last year, too. Honestly, I'm not expecting great things. My swim hasn't really been on point, especially recently, and the run parts of the race aren't really long enough for me to make up time for a bad swim. But, more importantly, this is a very relaxed, very fun race, and a friend and former coworker will be doing it with me. Plus, the open-water mile will help gauge where I need to improve for my upcoming 70.3.

Here's to three-day weekends and that extra day of solid training!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

June in review: Not bad, considering I lost a week

Hours trained this month.
I'm a few days behind. I had an evening commitment Tuesday, errands yesterday, and today was a loooooong day of swim --> work --> run --> groceries --> garden --> finally home 15 hours later for dinner, relaxing and blogging. I have tomorrow off work, but as I'm writing this it's not even 10:30 p.m. and I'm already in bed with my dogs. Rock star.

June got off on the wrong foot. Driving to work on the 1st, my car crapped the bed. The next week was car shopping, previous commitments, being driven to and from work, and going out of town for the weekend. But I was able to jump right back into it by the following Wednesday, and while my mileage is still low for the month, I think it's respectable considering the circumstances.
Monthly swim totals.
June's weekly swim totals.
Swim: Not terrible, but I only got in 7 swims all month -- 5 in the pool and 2 in the lake. That works out to just under 20,000 yards, or 11 miles. I know that would have been better with reliable transportation, but I got in the water when I could and swam decent yardage when I did.

To compare: Last month I swam 10 times for just less than 30,000 yards, or 16.5 miles. But last June I swam 8 times for 15,750 meters (just less than 10 miles). So if nothing else, at least I am swimming more when I do make it to the pool.

Bike: 13 sessions, and only 1 on the road for 45 road miles. This is where life just got in the way, with going out of town one weekend, errands taking longer than expected another, and rain yet another.

To compare: Last month I was on the bike for the same number of sessions for about 45 minutes longer (so actually not too bad of a drop!) but rode on the road 4 times. However, last June I only rode 10 times, so I am getting in the saddle more often. And that has to be good!
Monthly run totals.
Run: This is where I felt like a rock star. Even though I only got in one run that first, crazy week, I still managed 125.5 miles in 15 runs, all on the road, for the rest of the month. My long runs are feeling good and I'm doing some decent speed work.

To compare: Last month I ran 135 miles in 20 sessions, so I'm running a few more miles here and there when I do lace up my shoes. However, the comparison to last June is night and day: Last June I only ran 46 miles. Now, I was out of town for a week last June, but still. I'm feeling much better about my run this year.

Side notes: I really considered going out for a 4.5-mile run after my evening commitment Tuesday, June 30, so I could have an even 130 miles for the month. But by the time I got home, I didn't feel like it. So I went to bed early and started the month off right with a 5 a.m. bike session instead. =)

And, I've run at least 100 miles every month for the past year except November. I'm pretty close to being on track of my goal of 1,500 miles in 2015, too -- I expect that when marathon training kicks up a notch, I'll get ahead of the needed average of 125 miles per month.

Other: I only did yoga once this month and nothing else. Blah! I just don't have the hours to make it work unless I start letting other stuff go. And, sadly, I do need that pesky job thing.

Other side notes: I hit more than 115 frickin' hours for the year trained in both bike and run this month. Holy cow!  That's almost three full work weeks. Each! For all that work, you'd think I'd be better on the bike -- haha.

It's going to be more of the same this July: Be consistent about getting in the pool and lake. Get my bike on the road more often and build my long rides to the 50-mile range. Keep running shorter during the week, build my long runs every other weekend and continue doing speed work. And for the love of God, do some yoga, strength training and pre-hab.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Week in review June 22-28: Weather, wasps and other wackiness

A decent week.
Not my best week, considering crazy weather and other instances of life getting in the way. But, I'm not complaining too much as there were still some decent sessions.

Sadly, it rained all day Saturday, which threw off my weekend mojo. Last year I was spoiled with perfect weather pretty much every weekend, but this cycle I've already had to move things around at least twice. How dare Mother Nature get in the way of my training!

Swim: Once in the pool for my monthly time trial and once in the lake, for a total of 5,100 yards in just less than 2 hours. I missed my Tuesday morning swim because I was up half the night with a dog terrified of the thunderstorms rolling through. And I didn't make it out to the lake Saturday because it rained all day. (Yes, I know you get wet in the water, but it was chilly and windy and I just didn't feel like dealing with it.)

Sunday I went back and forth as whether I should swim in the lake for less time but the additional OWS practice I'd missed the day before, or go to the pool after my run for more yardage. I didn't want to risk swimming in the lake after my long run only to find in the middle of the lake I was too tired to continue. But I like the idea of swimming after my run as recovery, which had me leaning toward a pool swim after my run. I finally decided to drive out to the state park and swim in the lake before my run, and it ended up being fine.

Except when...

Somehow this jerk got in my running shirt with me as I was changing from swim clothes to run clothes, and stung me at least three times on the back. I was yelling and cursing and finally whipped off my shirt and ran across the restroom, terrifying the other lady using the facilities (OK, that part was funny). One drawback to swimming at the state park, I guess -- the wildlife!

Bike: Four times, all on the trainer, for a total of 5 hours, 15 minutes. I ended up doing a long ride of 2 hours, 15 minutes on the trainer Saturday -- not ideal, but it was rainy, chilly and windy all day and like I said above, I just didn't feel like dealing with it. That was as much time as I had between errands and breakfast in the morning and a family party later in the day, so I made it work as best as I could.

I also used all that pedaling time to finish season one of Deadwood. SPOILER ALERT: "You can go now, brother." Oh my gosh -- I was crying on the trainer. Leave it to "that guy" to make me cry.

Run: Four times, all on the road, for a total of 37 miles in 5 hours, 41 minutes. That works out to one easy run, one medium-distance run, one amazingly excellent (for me) speed run, and a long run of 14 miles after the Wasp Incident. I did have to skip an easy run due to an evening commitment this week so, sadly, my stretch of 40-mile weeks has to stand at two for now.

I've been running 10-12 miles pretty much every weekend since wintertime, so this 14-miler marks my first "official" marathon training long run. Considering I'd just been attacked by an evil wasp, I did pretty well, even taking into account I got later start to my run because I took an extra 20 minutes to shake out all my clothes. I definitely did not want a surprise wasp in my running shorts! It was only mildly warm and muggy, and I was able to finish fast, with my final mile a full 34 seconds faster than my average pace.

And I am finding that even as I get better about letting my Garmin run during drinks breaks so I get a more accurate overall time, I'm still able to maintain consistent paces. I think I suffered during my marathon last year because I wasn't really running 20-milers in training; I was doing 2 x 10 with a bathroom break in the middle and additional drink breaks every 2. This is something I'm going to continue to work on as the training runs get longer.

Other: Nothing this week. Just not enough hours in the day.

Total: 10 sessions in just shorter than 13 hours. Not a superstar week but still pretty solid.

This week will have its own wackiness: I have another evening commitment tomorrow, and I don't see myself squeezing in an easy run. And I want to race on Sunday the same open-water mile and run-swim-run Aquathon I did last year, so that will mess with my schedule a bit. The good news is I have Friday off work, so I have a bit of room for some finagling.

Another week -- here we go!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

This may have been my best speed run ever.

Friday was speed run day! I try to rotate descending miles, half-mile repeats and quarter-mile repeats, and quarter miles were up in the rotation. I think I hate these the most since, although they are over quickly, they just keep coming and coming.

I've been feeling good doing 7-8 miles of speed work runs, with the first and last mile-ish as warmup and cool down, and the middle 6-ish as actual speed work. Friday was a clear, not-so-humid day and I had had a rest day the day before due to an evening commitment. And, I'd had a very large iced coffee earlier in the day. I had energy, my legs were fresh and I was rarin' to go!

The warmup mile felt good and I got to work. The first repeat clicked over at just under 2 minutes. OK! That's a sub-8 pace, hooray! Then they all started clicking over at under 2 minutes. Can I really hold them all at a pace beginning with 7? Another one and another one, done. Turn around. Head back. More sub 2-minute repeats. And I was still feeling good. In all, I did 13 before my 0.75-mile cool down. The last one was tough -- I did have to stop for a few seconds afterward or risk barfing.

I've had several runs a few years ago where I've done 4-7 quarter-mile repeats in the sub-8 pace range, and I think I've logged one magical sub-7 pace quarter-mile repeat, but I've never done 13 sub-8s in a row. Lucky number 13, I guess! Of course, I was covered in salt and sweat by the end, and my legs were trashed for the rest of the day, but still. It felt awesome.

I really hope this is a good sign for the rest of the season. Running fast, hooray!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June's swimming time trial: I'll take even this small improvement!

Slow and steady progress.
This month's time trial snuck up on me. It was only a few days ago I looked at the calendar and said, "Wait... it that the last Thursday of the month already???"

This month has been borderline disastrous, swimming-wise. My car died early in the month, so I lost two early morning pool swims due to car shopping and buying the nights before. Plus, I had no means to get to the pool at 5:30 a.m., anyway. On top of that, I missed two lake swims because of a bachelorette party out of town one weekend, and rain throughout another weekend.

As a result, I wasn't expecting anything anything super speedy this month. Honestly, I was hoping for "not as slow as last month." So, I was pleasantly surprised to see an improvement of 15 seconds from May's time trial. It's not a lot, but it's SOMETHING. I'll take any victory considering how little time I've actually spent in the water these last few weeks!

(It's kind of hard to see my times in the image, but they work out to:
25:32/1000 meters for 2:33/100 in January;
21:27/1000 meters for 2:09/100 in February;
21:53/1000 meters for 2:11/100 in March;
22:11/1100 yards for 2:01/100 in April;
23:21/1100 yards for 2:07/100 in May; and
23:06/1100 yards for 2:06/100 in June.
It got a little confusing switching from a meter to a yard pool, but I figured it was close enough.)

February and March were my best months volume-wise so far this training cycle, so it makes sense that I would be swimming faster for those month's time trials. (I really don't have an excuse for May.) I mean -- swim more and get faster? You're kidding me!

Assuming I take time off from swimming and biking after my last triathlon of the season, I won't have many more time trials left this year. I'm going to keep chipping away at it and hopefully end on a high, fast note.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My second shot at 70.3

Yep, I did it again. I signed up for my second 70.3-distance race: Michigan Titanium, in Grand Rapids this August.

I was holding out until I was sure I was making progress on the bike. My swim is pretty steadily mediocre, my running is going a bit faster than this time last year -- which I attribute to running about twice as much as I was this time last year -- but my biking is kind of a wild card. I came pretty much from nothing on a steel bike, and while I've improved a little, I'm still comparatively slow and afraid to get into aero.

But, this past weekend's ride went great, all things considered. My mph average was higher than anything I'd ridden last year on that route, and that was enough to convince me to pull the trigger again. That and the price increase at midnight. =)

I don't really follow an "official" plan except to schedule long runs and rides, but here are my loose goals:

I'm currently swimming 2-3 times per week, but I want to bump that up to 3-4 times per week, with at least one swim in a lake. I'd really like to get in the pool one additional time per week. Sunday evenings may be my best shot, but I haven't been able to swing it yet.

I'm biking 4 times per week, once on the road, with last week up to 45 miles. My trainer rides are an hour long two mornings per week before work, and although I'd love to add a few minutes here and there, I absolutely refuse to get up before 4:30 a.m. unless the house is on fire. So, an hour it will have to be. I'd like to make my Monday evening recovery ride a road ride, but I can't quite make the logistics work between my commute, making dinner, and prepping for my long Tuesdays (swim-work-run). In the meantime, I plan on building my long weekend rides into the 50s next month with a few 60-milers in the weeks before the big race.

And honestly, I'm not worried about my run. (Knock wood.) I ran 10-milers on the treadmill almost every weekend through winter and have run 12-13 on the road almost every weekend since the weather broke. My long-run paces have been pretty consistently 30 seconds per mile faster than last year's long runs. My plan is to keep doing what I'm doing and try to dial in the speed: 4-5 runs per week with 1-2 easy, 1 medium/moderate, 1 speed and 1 long with a fast finish, hopefully.

So. My plan for the next two months is to swim, bike and run. Not too complicated, right?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Thunderstorms and a scared mutt make for a less-than-restful night

I knew it was going to thunderstorm overnight last night. I was NOT expecting a weather onslaught that would terrify my doggy.

The rumbles started at about 1:45 a.m. I can't remember if my lab mix's panting or the actual thunder woke me up first, but before too long, she was in bed with us, trying to get as close to me as possible -- meaning, she was trying to lay all 50 pounds of herself on my chest. I was trying to be sympathetic, since she was obviously scared, but there's only so much you can do for a dog freaking out in your bed at 2 a.m.

You can see from my screen shot above that we got a long, long line of thunderstorms. It went on for about an hour, making an hour of my dog panting, shaking, and trying to climb on me. And my other dog -- deciding that if her sister got to lie in the human bed, so she did she -- stretching herself out at our feet.

So yeah, no sleep last night. The 4:40 a.m. wake-up call to go to the pool wasn't happening. I could barely get myself out of bed by 6 a.m. to shower and make breakfast.

It's not the best way to start the week. But one funny thing that came out of it was how the mutt was frolicking with her toys this morning, oblivious to my husband and I guzzling coffee. At that point, all we could do was laugh.

Why you no rub my belly?
Please, let nothing get in the way of my run this afternoon.