Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A triathlete first for me: Hitting the gym just to shower

Outdoor run but no place to shower.
Yesterday was a long day, mostly because I swam first thing and then had to work in the evening. I don't mind working the occasional evening because it breaks up the week, and you usually get to come in later the next day or leave an hour early on Friday.

After my daily work was done I got the thumbs up from my boss to leave a bit early and go run. But remember, I still had an event to be at a few hours later, preferably not smelling to high heaven. What to do?

Go to the gym for the sole reason of taking a shower, of course!

I traded my running shoes for shower flip-flops in the parking lot because I had a smaller gym bag, and I'm pretty sure I had a parent ready to call the authorities because he/she pulled over and kept an eye on me until it was clear I was taking off ONLY my shoes. After I washed off all the sweat and sunscreen (safety first, people) I had to remember that the gym at 5:30 p.m. is different than 5:30 a.m., meaning, you'll terrify a lot more children if you are lax about putting on your clothes as you dry off. Sorry, kids, but it is a locker room.

And I was back at the office looking professional once again with plenty of time to spare.

I felt kind of weird showing up at the gym already sweaty, but you know what? I pay to use their services -- who cares if I use one service one day and something else another day? I don't pay a per-shower fee, I pay a monthly fee that includes everything.

And you know what else? It was really convenient not having to drive all the way home to make myself presentable. I might just do it again if I have to be somewhere after a run where stinking would be frowned upon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The workout that wasn't meant to be

So tired. (Note how the pit shares with her sister only the tiniest bit of sunbeam.)
I had every intention to get on the bike trainer for an hour or so after work yesterday, but...

1. I was tired. Sunday was a whirlwind of a long run, my mom visiting, prepping food for the next few days, and watching Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley (non-negotiable).

2. My legs were tight and sore from my 12-miler Sunday. I ran a bit faster than I had the week before, but what I really think contributed more than anything was continuing to walk and stand for the rest of the day. And I didn't get in my usual Sunday-night stretching.

3. I got home later than expected. There was a police situation (what on earth?) down the street from the grocery store I needed to stop at, and it took extra time to negotiate around all that nuttiness before I could finally find my way to the highway home.

4. The Wings were playing (and sadly, got their butts beaten). And yes, I could have watched the game while I was on the trainer, but...

4a. A friend wanted to go out for a drink to watch the Wings.

Eh, you win some, you lose some. Even though I got a lousy night's sleep last night (someone kept stealing the covers in his sleep) I was still up and at 'em early today for a swim. Back on the horse.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Week in review April 20-26: Just the basics

Just your basic swim, bike and run.
Not a bad week. I didn't have time for anything other than swim, bike or run, but I did put in a decent showing in each. I could have squeezed in some lifting or yoga Sunday night, but it was my mom's birthday. And if the birthday girl wants to go to the casino, you go to the casino.

Swim: Two sessions in the pool for 3,500 yards each, for 2 hours and 40 minutes total. Until it warms up enough to swim in the lake on the weekend, I don't know that I'll be able to do much more in the water.

Bike: Four sessions total, three on the trainer and one 35-mile road ride, for about 5 hours, 38 minutes total. This week's road ride was much chillier, but with a few extra layers I was good to go. The best way to train for riding on the road is riding on the road, right?

Run: Five runs, three on the treadmill (we had a cold snap earlier in the week that included snow -- yuck!) and two on the road, for 33.25 miles in about 5 hours, 10 minutes. That included my first speed run of the year where I saw miles beginning with 7, and a longish run of 12.25 before the aforementioned casino-hopping.

Other: Nothing this week. Between work and life I just had to prioritize.

I'm really hoping I can continue to ride my bike outside at least once a week from here on in. My bike fitness seems to be ever-so-slightly better than this time last year, which likely is a result of me adding in an extra day on the bike trainer and focusing on cadence.

The weather is supposed to warm up this week, but probably not long enough to make my usual swimming hole a more acceptable temperature. I could find a different pool to swim in Saturday or Sunday evenings, but I do want to see my husband occasionally. If I can make it work, great, but that's not going to be my priority.

And I am really happy with how my run has come along this season already. This has to be because I am simply running MORE. I kept a regular schedule all winter long, with 100+ mile months every month since December, and have been consistently hitting 25+ and even 30+ weeks since I recovered from my last marathon.

On to another week of putting the pieces in place!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Speed run suffering

This is the fastest I've ever run two miles since I started logging.
Look at those mile split times. LOOK AT THEM. Two in a row that start with a 7.

I had to go back to my logs to find the last time I've run two sub-8:00 miles: August of 2012. That summer was the last time I was doing any consistent training in the sub-8:00 pace range, when I was about to set what was then my marathon PR by 13 minutes.

The second mile gets an asterisk since I did have to stop to wait for a traffic light, but that 7:58, at the very least, was a hard-earned mile. Not bad for a run that I started out thinking, "I'll try descending my miles and see what happens."

If nothing else, it's reassuring to know that I can rock some fast (for me) miles this early in the season. I feel like I've got a good base as I enter racing season.

Last night's run had a bonus victory:
100. Again.
I passed the 100-mile mark, making April the fifth month in a row and the ninth out of the past 10 where I've hit 100 running miles. Not too shabby.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Deep thought Thursday

I really don't care for trite pseudo-inspirational messages but I came across this one the other day and it has stuck with me:

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” -Stephen McCranie

I'll try to remember this as I'm being lapped YET AGAIN by the old guys in the lane next to me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Early to bed; very, very early to rise

Zero dark thirty.
I mentioned in last week’s review that I have been getting up a few days a week at 4:40 a.m. Yes, it’s true. And yes, I am at least a little crazy for doing so.

I now start my work day as early as I ever have in my professional career and I like doing at least some of my training before I head to the office. Plus, other people annoy me more than getting up early does. In order to placate my introverted tendencies, I like to hit the pool at a time when fewer people are likely to be there.

Since swimming smack-dab in the middle of the day isn’t really an option my boss would appreciate, I try to be at the pool right as the lifeguard is opening the doors shortly after 5:30 a.m. Throw in a quick morning routine and my daily commute and bam, we’re at a 4:40 a.m. wake-up time.

No, it’s not fun. No, I don’t really enjoy it. Yes, my bed is disproportionately warm and comfortable at that hour. But you do what you gotta do. I want to improve in the water and the only way to do that is to spend more time in the water training.

Sadly, I don’t have any “secret” get-up-early tricks to share. I’ve always been something of an early riser and have used the snooze button maybe three times in my life. In fact, I usually wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off, no matter when it’s set – these last few mornings I was awake at about 4:35 a.m.

What does help is getting everything ready the night before. The other night, for example, I cooked that day's dinner and the next day's breakfast and lunch all at the same time. I was an egg-frying, chicken-grilling, veggie-chopping maniac.

I get my food bag, my work bag, and my swimming bag (and my running bag, if I’m hitting the running path after work) ready to go and in a pile in the living room. After you do it a few times, it becomes habit -- I have learned the hard way to double-check I have MATCHING work shoes -- and you’re less likely to forget something important. Plus, I’m pretty sure waking up your spouse because you are frantically searching for clean socks at that hour is grounds for divorce.

I should clarify one thing: For the next eight weeks, I won't be getting up at 4:40 a.m. on Mondays. I'm a Game of Thrones fan and recently a Silicon Valley fan, too. I'm not willing to function on 6 hours of sleep if I can help it, and those shows are just too good. Four days a week after an early bedtime is enough of a challenge for me.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week in review April 13-19: Back in the saddle, literally

A decent week that included some outdoor biking time.
Hey hey! I got a decent week under my (race) belt for the first time in a while. I didn't do as much "other" as I would have liked, but I got decent training in for all three disciplines.

Swim: Twice in the pool for 3500 yards each time, for a total of 7000 yards in about 2 hours, 45 minutes. I suspect there will be a bit of a "pace adjustment curve" as I make the transition from meters to yards. Since I have to get up at 4:40 a.m. (yes, a.m.) to hit the pool with enough time to swim and get ready for work, I'm counting swimming twice a victory.

Bike: Four times, three on the trainer and one 36-mile road ride, for a total of just more than 6 hours. Hooray!

Run: Four times, all on the road (double hooray!), for 30.5 miles in 4 hours, 48 minutes. Triple hooray -- another 30+ mile week! And it feels good.

Yoga: One self-guided 30-minute session that was sorely (heh) needed because I can barely move my hips into pigeon.

Weights/plyo: Nothing this week.

Pre-hab: Nothing this week.

Total total: Eleven sessions in about 14 hours, 11 minutes. Not shabby at all.

I feel like I am getting back into a training routine, and it feels good. Of course, I'd like more of everything -- more time to bike outside, more running, more swimming, more time for pre-hab, etc. etc. etc. -- but where I'm at now is a good place to settle in for a while.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A picture-perfect day for an outside ride

36 miles in the fresh air and sunshine.
It was a great day for a bike ride today. I filled my bottles, pumped my tires, finally took off the sticker from my 70.3 in August, and headed out.

I was a bit wobbly at first but completed 36 miles at a decent-for-me pace. I looked in my logs, and it was a full 0.7 mph faster than the first time I hit this route last year. Baby steps.

I even remembered how to drink without crashing and descended a couple of hills without freaking out, although I'm still scared to ride in aero. Again... baby steps.

Overall, just a great day to be alive, outside and pedaling. Yay cycling!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Going from meters to yards

The pool feels only slightly larger than this one.
Well! I finally made it back to the pool yesterday morning. And when I say "back" to the pool, I really mean that I tried a new-to-me pool with a more accommodating schedule and location.

The caveat is it's a 25-YARD pool, where the pool I've swum in almost exclusively since I started taking lessons four years ago is a 25-METER pool. (I know, they're few and far between, but this one was built in the last few years.)

At first, I was excited to try it out. "All right, I'll finally have some decent paces!" Well, not really. I'm still slow. Maybe even more so, since I'm turning more often. I did notice that I saw a slight time improvement in my longer sets.

Then, I realized that I was going to really have to pay attention to when I reached the end of the pool. I kept smashing my hand into the wall! Plus, I am afraid to try to flip-turn since there is a weird ledge at the bottom. I am a giant klutz so the potential of that ending badly is high. I've crashed my head into the wall more than once doing backstroke.

On my drive over I realized that my running and swimming has poisoned me against the Imperial system and I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how many yards would equal my typical workout in meters. Thank goodness for my phone converter app.

Side note: My new pool is WARM. Like, grossly so. For me, a cold-weather chicken, to say that a pool is warm is a big deal. Another thing I'll have to get used to.

I'll miss my meters, but the important thing right now is that I'm making time to get in the water and swim. And learning how to do math while doing laps, apparently.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week in review April 6-12: Still on a step back

Not what I'd like to see this time of year.
Well. It looks like I needed an extra week to really get adjusted to my new, earlier work schedule. I'm still a few hours behind what my regular volume was a month or so ago, but I got nearly 7 more minutes of training in from last week, so... that's something, right?

I actually did made it to the Y that will likely be my new swimming hole of choice and have emailed their aquatics director about their morning master's, so I haven't been completely sitting on my butt. And, I had a great speed run and a great long run.

Also, randomly, I ran more than I biked this week. That doesn't happen too often, but it's the encouragement I need to try to get in the saddle at least four times a week instead of three.


Swim: Nothing this week. I had a hard time getting used to my new, earlier wake-up time. But I took the steps needed to get there in the future.

Bike: Three sessions, all on the trainer, two for 1 hour 20 minutes and one for 2 hours, making total time in the saddle 4:40.

Run: Four times, all on the road. Hooray! This worked out to a medium distance, a speed run, an easy run, and a long run of 12 miles. Totals were 4:44 for 30.25 miles, the fifth time I've hit 30+ weekly running miles this year.

Plus, I figured out a good way to get to the trail directly from my office, so I hope to do that a few times a week. Plus plus, by the time I hit the road to head home, rush-hour traffic has cleared. Win-win.

Weights and plyo: One weights video of just longer than an hour followed by my plyo moves.

Yoga: Nothing this week.

Pre-hab: Nothing this week.

Total: 9 workouts in just less than 11 hours.

I'm hoping that the kinks can be worked out this week. I know I can't be blowing off my swim workouts, and I'd like to continue with the other stuff that got neglected this week. It's just going to be a matter of me managing my time wisely.

I feel I'm on the right track for biking -- although I'd like to take my rides outside soon -- and running. Which is better than nothing. The goal will be to keep this momentum going and build even more.

Friday, April 10, 2015

It's been a slow week, so check out the speed run I most love to hate

So yeah, I'm a little late to the Garmin Connect game.
I don't have much to say about this week since I'm still getting used to my new work schedule. I start my day a lot earlier than I'm used to, and I just have to adjust.

But, I did get a chance to go out and do my favorite speed run I love to hate. I affectionately call it "Puking Leapfrog" since you essentially leapfrog fast and recovery paces until you want to puke. Clever, huh?

I started with a 1-mile warmup and already felt like I wanted to die. (Note to self: 9:07 is a bit too fast for me to warm up.) Then I got into a groove of 1 mile fast, half mile recover, repeat for a total of 4 fast miles. I wanted to descend the fast, but I ended up with 8:42, 8:47, 8:42 and 8:01, which honestly isn't bad considering the wind was blowing at 20 mph. And I am annoyed I couldn't run two seconds faster for that last mile to get a sub-8!

I'm not doing a whole lot right now, but I am trying to make what I DO do count.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week in review March 30-April 5: A schedule change means a step back week

Not my best week.
I started a new work schedule this past week, and I knew my training load would suffer a bit. Hopefully, I'll be adjusted before too long and can get my volume up back to normal.

Thanks also to my dog for pulling out her stitches and ultimately causing me to miss my speed run window. She is doing better, although you can tell she still hates wearing her cone.

Swim: I only made it once this week, on Friday, my day off. But I made it count, doing 3200 meters in about 1 hour, 18 minutes.

Bike: One medium and one long session on the trainer, totaling 3.5 hours.

Run: Four times this week, three times on the road, working out to a short and speedy run, a medium speedy run, a true easy run, and a long slow distance. I felt great earlier in the week and was consistently hitting sub-9:00 miles. Then my cumulative fatigue kind of caught up with me and I wasn't as speedy. Still got them done, though.

My only real window for my long run Sunday was to get up early and do it on the treadmill before my family started coming over for Easter. Not gonna lie -- I wasn't the happiest person rolling out of bed before 6 a.m. on a Sunday. But ya do what ya gotta do. And it was sooooooooo nice not to have to worry about it the rest of the day, instead worrying about what kind of chocolate I was going to gobble down next.

Weights and plyo: One session of heavy lifting/body weight exercises for about 1 hour. I haven't lifted a real dumbbell or tried to do a pull-up in at least three weeks and I feel like I'll be sore forever. Plyo was my usual 20 or so minutes afterward.

Yoga: One quick 30-minute session of mostly hamstring stretching and pigeon pose.

Pre-hab: Nothing this week.

Total: 10 workouts in about 10.75 hours. Honestly, I'm happy with what I got done since I knew it wouldn't be my best week.

This week I want to check out a pool that I think will better align with my new schedule. And, of course, hit all my bike, run, weights, yoga and pre-hab workouts. But let's fight one dragon at a time.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Welp, I missed my speed run again...

They're as bad as human children.
Because of this mutt.

My pit bull mix had had surgery on Monday to remove a bump under her chin that wasn't healing. We had tried antibiotics, which hadn't done anything, and we decided that removing it was best. Also, we could send it in to the lab to make sure it wasn't anything too scary.

I had Friday off work and it started out a great day. I slept in a bit, made breakfast, walked down to the Y and swam 3200 meters in a packed pool. And I LOVED it -- I love all the energy (and slipstreams) that comes with grabbing the last half lane open.

I strolled home in the gorgeous weather in a good mood, made a mini-lunch, and got ready to go for a run before the rain came in. I put my Garmin in the window to catch a satellite, made up a sports drink bottle, and was in the process of putting my running clothes on.

My pit was chilling on my (her) bed and she rolled over for a belly rub -- typical. I took a peek at her chin and, to my horror, I saw that the stitches were pulling away from the healthy skin and there was a hole in her chin!!!

I did what any good dog mother would do and immediately called the vet, told (not asked) them I was on my way, and raced across town. Luckily, and kind of embarrassingly, they weren't as worried about it as I was, but stitched her up again and sent us on our way. The vet said something like, "If this happens again, it's not really an emergency," which probably meant, "You don't need to race in next time, you crazy dog lady!"

And of course, as I loaded her back up in the car, it started raining and the temperature started dropping from 60 to mid-40s. I had missed my window and I wasn't happy about it. And I was too depressed to go back to the Y to run on a good treadmill. I mean, of course I'm happy that I could take care of my dog before the vet closed, but what crappy timing!

Now, she's in the cone of shame, hanging out in her sunbeam, and giving me the stink eye for bringing her back to the vet. I am just hopeful I won't have to scrap my training plans again today for another dog-related emergency.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

March in review -- more of the same

Improvements pretty much across the board.
March wasn't a bad month. I started off strong, took a week off for vacation, had another strong week, and then adapted to a new work schedule. It kept me on my toes, at least.

I didn't really make any new goals for March except to continue strong from February.

I'm going to maintain a few more days of swimming and biking. Pretty much a success! I swam three days per week for two out of the three weeks I could.

I want to hit 100 miles for running again. Success! 125 miles to wrap up the month makes for my best month since I was marathon training last fall. I've also hit at least 100 miles for eight out of the last nine months.

I want to stay on my schedule of yoga, weights and pre-hab, seriously with the pre-hab this time. Yeah, this one just didn't happen. I only got in a few sessions of each here and there. Sigh.

And I want to lose those three damn pounds! I actually keep forgetting to weigh myself so I'll have to update this later.

Overall, my volume increased for every discipline. I swam fewer times, but added more overall time in the pool. Bike was slightly increased from last year, and my run has really taken off so far this year.

I just hope this all translates into some fast race times this year so all my hard work is worth it!