Sunday, May 31, 2015

I don't even want to talk about May's swimming time trial

In case you can't see, my May time trial was even worse than April. In April, I did 1,100 yards in 22:11, which works out to a 2:01/100 yard pace; in May, my time was 23:21, a 2:07/100 yard pace.

Barf, puke, ugh, blah, yuck, etc. etc. etc.

I can come up with excuses: I had just raced, I had taken a day off earlier in the week, blah blah blah. But when it comes down to it, I am still slower than I was last month.

If you do the math, it's only 1.5 seconds per lap slower. OK, I can live with that. But still. It's frustrating that I'm getting up at 4:40 a.m. and hitting the pool regularly, yet making no progress. (I know I could go more often, but when would I bike and run?)

I'm not sure if I need to change things up, or find a new swimming plan, or what. I'm going to try to buckle down these next few weeks and see if that makes any difference.

Friday, May 29, 2015

My shoulder devil made me do it

I know, it's hard to believe I don't make a living as an artist.
Well, this morning's early bike trainer ride was a bust.

I laid out my clothes, went to bed at a decent hour... hell, I even made sure to turn off the computers and read an actual, paper BOOK before bed so I could fall right asleep.

But when I started to wake up every 15 minutes starting at 3 a.m. to check the clock, and finally sat up to get up at 4:30, I just couldn't do it.

"Go back to sleep," my shoulder devil said. "The bed is so comfortable. You're tired. The next race you want to do doesn't even have a bike portion. You need your rest."

So I reset the alarm and went back to sleep for another hour and a half.

Sigh. I do feel better with a bit of extra sleep, but I should be putting in more work on the bike. Well, at least I got the weekend off to a nice, restful start.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's raining, it's pouring, and I'm not running

Of course.
It started raining while I was out on a run Tuesday evening. The dark clouds were moving in, but I decided to risk it: I headed out on the trail, got sprinkled on at about mile 2, turned around at 2.5, and made it back to my car ahead of the storm. Victory!

Yesterday, Wednesday, was more of the same. Rain, rain, rain starting in the afternoon and more green on the radar for the evening. I gave up obsessively clicking "refresh" at and instead headed to the grocery store and then home after work, doing a weights workout video instead of my run.

Of course, the sun came out and the skies cleared to a beautiful blue like my picture above.

Of course.

It wasn't a total waste, since my weights have been collecting dust lately. But I don't want to lift, I want to ruuuuuun! Wah, wah, wah. First-world problems.

Silver lining: I left my running bag at work, so that was one less thing I had to carry to the office today.

The forecast today is more blue skies, warm temperatures and low humidity. And you bet your butt I'll be out there pounding the pavement, sprinkles or no.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Week in review May 18-24: Lots of running and a blah race

Lots of running, a race, and not much else.
I held steady with swimming and running, but took it easy with the biking this week knowing I had my first race of the year on Saturday.

I also had a family event on Sunday which took up the entire day, so I lost some training time there. But, like Peter says in the movie Office Space, "I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob." I enjoyed my day of rest and not waking up before 5 a.m.

This may also have been my first week ever to have swum more than I rode my bike.

Here's how it shook out:

Swim: Twice in the pool and once in the lake for my race, for a total of about 8,650 yards in about 3 hours, 24 minutes.

Bike: Twice on the trainer and one 25-mile ride on the road for my race, for about 3 hours, 17 minutes.

Run: Five times, all on the road including once for my race, for about 4 hours, 54 minutes. I may have overdone it a bit during the week, but I had gorgeous weather and wanted to take advantage. I backed off later in the week and don't think the extra mileage negatively affected my race. How much do you really need to taper for a 10K, anyway?

Bonus: I hit the 100-mile mark for May running miles during my race.

Other: Nothing.

Total: About 11 hours, 34 minutes (27 seconds more than I trained last week, ha!).

So after a day or two off I'm going to try to settle back into a training rhythm. I need to work on everything, especially the bike. I think it's time to invest in a quality trainer and make room in my schedule for another road ride during the week, so those may very well be my priorities before I sign up for another race this season.

Summer time, and the training's easy.....

Monday, May 25, 2015

Island Lake Triathlon race report: Feeling strong but a weak showing

Spoils of war.
The best word I can think of to sum up this race: Bummer.

I thought I did well on each leg. I was feeling strong and keeping steady paces. I had an eye on the clock, and I was coming into transitions a few minutes ahead of when I told my husband to start looking for me.

But when the final times were posted, I saw that what were decent times for me still weren't good enough to finish even in the top half of my age group. Ugh!

Where am I?
Pre-race: This race always sneaks up on me. It's early in the season and on a Saturday, so I always feel I am scrambling around Friday night to prepare. I remembered at the last second that I needed Body Glide and Tri Slide. My husband was doing some house projects Friday night so I just stayed in, ate a few extra carbs, prepped my bottles and laid everything out.

We were up pretty early on Saturday to eat and head out the door. I never, never, NEVER leave the house at the time I want, so I am always annoyed I am running late. But we got to the race site about an hour before the race start, and that still gave me plenty of time to pick up my packet, get marked, set up transition, use the ladies' room, suit up and even get in a decent warm-up swim. (I've done either the sprint or the Olympic version of this race about a half a dozen times so I know the routine by now.) The water was reported to be high 60s and the air temperature was high 40s.

Swim: The water was cold but not unswimmable. I had a silicon cap under my latex cap and silicon ear plugs, and I was fine. We counted down and the horn went off! I did OK in the swim, although I kept swimming into others. I got a breaststroke kick to the side WAY too early in the race. When we made the first turn, we had to sight directly into the sun. That was probably the worst part of the race. More than a few times I had to stop and shield my eyes so I could see where I was going. I only got a little panicky once when I got disoriented, but I tough-loved myself back into a groove.

I swung a little too wide on the second turn and found myself alone, but I was more annoyed that I was wasting time than anything. The third turn back to the starting buoy was the best part of the race because the sun was behind us and I could see where I was going! I tried to make up for some speed here. Back around, back directly into the sun, a few stops to shield my eyes and sight, and finally the final turn and a straight shot to the finish. I tried to pick it up again. Touched bottom three times, stood up and waded in.

My final time was 34:46, a personal WORST for this race. However, all three of my times were within 0:58 of each other. So, at least I'm consistent? I know I lost at least a minute to losing my way in the water and having to stop to get my bearings because I couldn't see the damn buoys in the direct sun.

Bike: T1 went pretty uneventfully. I put on a long-sleeved shirt, which was challenging while wet, but I had made sure to grab a stretchy shirt and that made it not quite so ridiculous. Wetsuit off (I did notice it was slightly easier with the Tri Slide), socks and shoes on, glasses on, gloves and helmet on. I had packed a thin hat to wear under my helmet but decided to forgo it, and I was fine without.

I ride this course almost every weekend during the season so I know it like the back of my hand. But what I DON'T have to deal with every weekend is a few hundred other riders, most of them whizzing by me. I did the best I could up the hills, tried to take advantage of the downhills, etc. I had to slow down a few times to avoid drafting. The first lap was crowded but I knew the second would be less stressful since there are never as many Olympic racers as sprint racers.

I had taped two Gus to my frame with electrical tape; I know they say not to try anything new on race day, but ripping one off with the top still attached to my bike worked like a charm. I had my own Powerade a few times and some water after my Gu but nothing else. I couldn't avoid a stick in the path and screamed an expletive but went over it without crashing. I apologized to the rider behind me but she just laughed. I also zoned out once and veered right off the road!!! But magically I was able to get back on without falling. My bike handling skills are nothing to write home about, but those two incidents made me feel a bit better about my progress.

I was keeping an eye on the clock on my CatEye and was sure I was set for a PR. I was disappointed to see at 1:31:35 I was about three minutes off. It was a slightly better time than what I did last year, but the second WORST time in my age group. While I'm always happy to break 16 mph, I calculated that winner had done 19.8 mph!!!!! How is that even possible?!?!? I had thought I was feeling good and just ended up so depressed that my "feeling good" is still my age group's "second worst."

I still have a lot of work to do on the bike.

Run: I actually had the second-best T2 time for my age group: helmet off, visor on, gloves and bike shoes off, slip into running shoes, off I go. The run is my jam; I got this!

Except that it was already starting to warm up and my stretchy long-sleeved shirt was feeling way too hot. I told myself, "You don't have to kill it, just be consistent. Consistency will pay off better than intervals." Up the hills, through the grass, over the bridge, around the turn: consistent running. I only stopped to walk through the water stations.

I successfully picked off quite a few people although I didn't see anyone in my age group. Back to the finish line for the turnaround and I could NOT believe I had to do it all over again. I had to slow the pace once or twice as I approached puke threshold. It wasn't that I was going that fast; it was getting warm and I was ready to be done. Up the steep grass hill. Down the path. Over the bridge again. I started counting down from 300 to distract myself. Finally, the final stretch! There wasn't anyone ahead of me so I skipped the finish line sprint. Waved to my yelling husband. Crossed the finish line. Didn't barf. Got some cold water. Caught my breath.

My form isn't terrible and my calves look ripped!
I wasn't expecting a PR so I wasn't disappointed to see a time of 53:22, an 8:36 pace, about what I was shooting for. (My PR is 52:03, an 8:23 pace.) And, it was about 2 minutes faster than last year. BUT, again, although I thought I pulled a decent time, it was still only good for fifth in my age group.  I calculated the winner's pace again and it was 7:27-minute miles. Seriously?!?!? However, the winner was an outlier; the next four of us finishers ran within a 1:35 span. Knowing that I can hang with the second pack helps dull the disappointment a tiny bit.

Overall: 3:03:59. I didn't break three hours. I didn't podium. I didn't show as well as I would have liked. One word: Bummer.

I do take a bit of comfort knowing that at least I finished three minutes faster than last year. The first race of the season is always kind of a wild card. If I look at my logs, I swam, biked and ran in the times my training would suggest. Of course I'm disappointed I didn't do better... but I felt strong the entire day and have a better idea of what I need to work on. (Everything.)

I'm taking a few days off training to enjoy the long weekend and then it's back at it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Taper? What taper? And giving up on a secret goal

Not much of a taper for Saturday's race.
My first race of the season is this Saturday already! And, um, I'm definitely not tapering.

It was a gorgeous evening for a run yesterday and I had skipped my long run last weekend, so I did 9 miles after work. My legs felt fine and I only got hissed at by one goose.

I found this Triathlete magazine pre-race swim workout, and was planning on doing a short set today, but..... if I'm getting up at 4:40 a.m. and getting into the pool, I'm going to swim my full 3500 yards. I took it relatively easy, at least.

It's a short and easy run tonight -- and I promise it will be short and easy -- and some soft-pedaling on the trainer tomorrow morning and I'll be as ready as I can be for the race. Right now my main concern is that Fishing Notes puts the water temperature at 59 degrees. The race organizers have 67 degrees on their website. I hope they're right.

And... I had to give up on a secret goal this week. I wanted to qualify for Age Group Nationals at this race. I THOUGHT the Olympic-distance race was Sunday, but it's on Saturday. In Milwaukee. My sister-in-law's wedding is that Friday. Far away from Milwaukee. And I'm a bridesmaid. Even if I were to leave immediately after the ceremony, we wouldn't make it in time.

Super bummer!

(This is the second time a wedding has interfered with my race schedule. How dare my friends and family plan their weddings without consulting me first?)

After my 70.3 last summer, I felt like my tri season was over too quickly and I had one more in me for the season. So what I'll probably do is try to qualify at a race later in the summer for the 2016 race. There's no telling where it will be and if I'll be able to attend, but at least it will be a goal, right?

But let's take it one race at a time. Starting this Saturday. In hopefully not-too-cold water.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week in review May 11-17: Unintentional deload

The volume just wasn't there this week.
I haven't written much this week because there hasn't been much to write about. This week was a prime example of life getting in the way of my training. But, we all need a deload week once in a while, so I am hoping it will be beneficial in the long run.

I was feeling good about getting in a Monday evening bike trainer ride, since I've been skipping that about half the time. I made it through all my scheduled workouts until Thursday morning. That evening, I had a commitment, which turned into "as long as we're out and about let's take care of this other errand." That ended up going later than expected, and combined with my dog needing to, ahem, urgently go outside very early Friday morning, led to a skipped workout in favor of an extra hour of sleep.

Saturday was also filled with commitments all morning and evening, so I decided to just take time for myself in the afternoon rather than try to cram something into the few free hours I had. It worked out OK, and I got a bunch of tasks and errands done, but I still felt guilty about missing my workouts. Ugh.

Swim: Twice in the pool and once in the lake, my second open-water swim this season, for a total of about 8500 yards in about 3 hours, 15 minutes. My lake swim was less distance per my Garmin compared to last week, so I guess that means I went a little straighter this time.

Bike: Two trainer rides and one nice outdoor ride of 35 miles, for a total of 4 hours, 10 minutes. I held an average of faster than 16 mph again on my road ride, which is a big deal for me. I'm getting there, bit by bit.

Run: I ended up missing both an easy run Thursday for my commitment -- which I was OK with, considering -- but also my long run this weekend. Saturday ended up being a rest day, and I thought I'd get more bang for my buck getting in the lake swimming and road riding on Sunday, what I usually do on Saturday, and just skipping my long run.

My speed run Friday evening was... interesting. It was hot and muggy and I planned to do quarter-mile repeats. But my math was off and I ended up not doing my last one, instead ending with a 1.25-mile cool down. BUT, I wasn't feeling great anyway because of the humidity, so maybe that was the wiser course of action anyway.

The week shook out to one easy run, a medium-distance run, a speed run and a quick brick, for a total of 22 miles in about 3 hours, 20 minutes.

Other: 50 minutes of self-guided yoga stretching while watching Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley.

Total: 11 sessions in just longer than 11.5 hours.

Eh -- I'm not going to stress too much about it. 11.5 hours is still a decent week, and it's still early in the season. The workouts I did do felt good and I feel like I'm making progress.

I've got my first race of the season, an Olympic-distance triathlon, on Saturday. I'm already nervous about cold lake water and my sub-par bike skills. I had to remind myself this morning, "You know, you do this for fun." It will be a challenge but hopefully it will also be a good time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Weekend warrior

Nearly half of my training last week was over the weekend.
In case you missed it, or don’t memorize every word of my blog for potential dramatic readings, I had my first big, three-sport training day of the season on Saturday.

The temperature had hit 70s and 80s during the week previous, and I knew the small lake I swim in would be tolerable. And, oh yeah, I have a race in two weeks, so I should do a brick run or two before then. So, a three-sport day it was.

My husband and I had various commitments Sunday and had to shuffle our schedule, which ultimately led to an earlier start to the day. I started my long run when it was still early afternoon, and he was still busy doing whatever he was doing into the evening. So what else does one do when they have time to kill? Clean the house? Bah! She does a weights video, her plyo moves, and some yoga, of course!

When I added it up, I’d spent 3 full hours training on Saturday and nearly 4 on Sunday. Wow! Considering my week’s total was about 14.25 hours, that’s nearly a full half of my training done on Saturday and Sunday.

I don’t think I do a BAD job of training during the week. Ideally, I put in about an hour before work and about an hour after work most days of the week. I don’t have kids, I don’t work very many long days anymore (yay!), and I plan and prep meals ahead as much as possible. This all helps. But, realistically, I just don’t think I can do a 3-hour bike ride after work. Those long sessions just have to be done on weekends and the odd day off.

Sadly, as long as my full-time job is not triathlon, weekend warrior-ing will have to do. Or until they invent one of those time-turner devices from Harry Potter.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week in review May 4-10: That's what I'm talking about

Good numbers across the board.
Not a perfect week -- does anyone really have any of those? -- but still pretty darn good. Three times in the water including once in the lake, a decent bike ride, a decent brick run, and even some "other" thrown in there.

The runs were hot but still runnable, the lake water was cold but still swimmable, and the weights were heavier than I remember. (Aren't they always after a few weeks off?) The mugginess and my allergies slowed me down a bit but overall I'm happy with how it shook out.

Swim: Three times, twice in the pool and once in the lake for my first open-water swim of the season, for a total of about 8,600 yards in about 3 hours, 11 minutes.

Bike: Three times, twice on the trainer and one 35-mile ride on the road, for a total of about 4 hours, 10 minutes.

Run: Five times, once on the treadmill and four times on the road, for 31 miles in just less than 5 hours. That works out to two easy runs, one MSD, one LSD, and my first brick run of the year.

I ran fewer mileage in more runs this week as compared to last week's 33.25 miles in four runs; I added a 2-mile brick run and skipped my Friday evening speed session (which have been going about 7 miles). My allergies got the best of me that day and I took some medication, so by the end of the day I was an exhausted, crabby, congested mess that could barely get home to take a nap before meeting friends for dinner.

Also, yesterday was probably the muggiest day we've had this season so far. I swung by the house to get my crazy lab mix with about 3 miles to go on my run, but I should have done another 1 or so before I picked her up because she was struggling by the end. So, an even 12 it was.

Other: Not a bad week for this, either. One weights video for 55 minutes, plyo moves afterward for about 20 minutes, and 45 minutes of self-guided yoga while watching Game of Thrones.

Total: 14 sessions in about 14 hours, 15 minutes.

For this coming week, I really need to get back into a four-times-a-week bike schedule. I would love to work in another road ride during the week, but I'm scratching my head as to where I can squeeze it in without 1. affecting my other workouts or 2. getting home too late to prep dinner and my next day's meals.

I would swap a morning trainer ride with an afternoon run, but then I'd have to run at 5 a.m. when it's dark and muggy. I could take my bike to work and then hit the state park or trail afterward, but I'd have to cut out a run or work it into a brick and get home at 9 p.m. I actually could try to ride Mondays after work when it's my scheduled day of rest from running, but today is not going to be that day:

It might rain today.
I'm going to have to think about that one.

In other news, I liked doing two pool swims and one lake swim this week. I'll always want to refine my swim, but I feel it's in a good place right now, and my time and effort could be better spent on the bike or run.

And this week marked my FIFTH 30+ running miles week! Yay! I am feeling good about my effort and paces. My running base is much, much stronger this time around and it shows.

Also, it's less than two weeks until my first race of the season. How did that happen? The next two weeks will be about consistency and refinement, so (hopefully) I can throw down a good time on race day.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A day of this season's firsts

Triple the fun.
Yesterday was my first really big triathlon training day of the year. It was the first three-sport day of the year, fitting in swim, bike and run.

It was also my first lake swim of the year and my first brick run of the year, too. The brick felt OK -- tired legs at first that picked up steam over the quick two miles. (That 17:03 works out to about an 8:32 pace -- not bad.) My bike was a pretty good pace for me, too. It's not very fast for you serious cyclists out there, but I've hit an average faster than 16 miles per hour the last two times I was on the bike, which is great for me.

Also, a good laugh for you today:

Do you think I need to work on my sighting? In my defense, not all the trees are in full leaf yet, so the shores don't look quite like how I remember them from last summer. Yeah, that's the excuse I'll use.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Two triathlon coincidences

While logging this morning's swim, I was stoked to see I had done my two miles in significantly less than an hour twenty, which has been about my baseline lately (including drills and everything). The official time was 1:17:45.

While all that was uploading to Garmin Connect, I remembered I hadn't yet logged last night's workout -- 8 hot, muggy and tired miles. I wrote the time in my log book... 1:17:45.


I don't really believe that there is some kind of otherworldly significance to that, but it was kind of weird, you have to admit!

The other coincidence started this morning: While driving to the pool at 5:15 this morning, the song "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" by Cage the Elephant came on. (Link so I don't get sued.) I laughed, because it was very early and I was still fully waking up.

I got more and more sniffly as my work day went on. It's spring here, and the trees, flowers and grasses are in full bloom. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and headed out to my car so I could drive to the pharmacy for some allergy medicine.

Guess what was playing on the radio when I got in?


Maybe it is the universe telling me I need more sleep!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Week in review 27 April to 3 May: Nothin' to see here

More of the same.
A real quick weekly review since I'm two days late anyway.

Swim: Twice in the pool for 3,500 yards in about 1:20 each time, for about 2:40 total, including my monthly 1000 meter (or in this case 1100 yard) time trial. Nothing remarkable here, just steady swimming. Hopefully it'll be warm enough by this weekend where I can hit the lake for the first time this year.

Bike: Three times, twice on the trainer and one 40-mile road ride, for about 4:30 total. It was a great outdoor ride, since I pushed the pace and had my highest mph average for that route in, I think, forever. I ended up with a weird neck strain from clenching as I powered up the hills, but that was gone by the next day so it was totally worth it.

Run: Four times, all on the road, for 33.25 miles in about 5:10 total. This included some half-mile repeats in which I was able to throw down some sub-8:00 paces. It was also my fourth 30+ mile week in a row. I've run at least 25 miles every week this year except for one when I was sick. This is a LOT more mileage than I am usually pulling this time of year and it is paying off with my faster, easier paces.

Other: Just one quick, self-guided yoga session to stretch out the hips, mostly.

Total: Ten sessions in just less than 13 hours.

This is about what I can handle right now. I'm doing two-a-days most weekdays, swimming or biking before work and running after; doing a long ride on Saturday; and doing a long run on Sunday. If I start adding in anything else I'm going to have to lose more sleep than I already am, or what little social life I've managed to sustain, or my marriage, or my sanity. I am going to make an effort to do a swim before my ride Saturday and maybe a run afterward, now that it is a bit warmer, but I don't expect to increase my volume any more than that simply because my time is limited.

Still, I am feeing good about the effort I've put in this winter and spring. I feel like I am swimming smoother, biking stronger, and running faster. And I'm still having fun -- for now -- and looking forward to improving even more. Hopefully.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Recent workouts: April's swimming time trial and a pain in my Yasso

January through April time trials.
Thursday was the last swim of the month, which meant a time trial. Since I'm swimming in a yard pool now, I figured 1,100 yards would be close enough.

Looking at straight time, you see I lost 18 seconds from my last time trial. But considering that's less than a second per lap, and now I have two more turns, I'm calling it a mild success. I feel confident with my first race of the season less than three weeks away.

Lots of 7:xx paces in there.
I know these aren't TECHNICALLY Yasso 800s, since I recover for 0.5 miles instead of 4:00, but half-mile repeats doesn't sound as snazzy. Anyway, love 'em or hate 'em, believe in 'em or not, I do these about once a month in the rotation of my regular speed work. If nothing else, it changes things up a bit.

I'm shooting for a sub-4:00 marathon so it is nice to see some sub 8:00-paced half miles in there, especially this early in the season. And those elevation gains of 13 and 16 feet are what pass for big hills here in southeast Michigan, so watch out!

It's been a decent week with some decent workouts, and I'm pretty pleased.

Friday, May 1, 2015

April in review: Adjusting to a new schedule, but the same old training

Interesting breakdown of the basics.

April has come and gone already. I can barely believe it. It was a tricky month as I lost almost two weeks of swimming because of a new work schedule, then had to adjust to a new pool. My bike and run didn't suffer as much, but I hardly got in any "other" all month.

I don't remember making any set goals, so let's just compare to March:

I'm going to maintain a few more days of swimming and biking. Eh, didn't quite keep this one up. I biked 4 times per week only twice this month, and I don't think I'll be able to get to the pool more than 2 times per week unless I do some amazing weekend time finagling. Still, what I AM doing I'm managing to hold consistently.

I want to hit 100 miles for running again. Success! I banged out 130 running miles this month, steadily increasing my total month by month. I feel like my base for summer racing is much stronger this time around.

I want to stay on my schedule of yoga, weights and pre-hab, seriously with the pre-hab this time. Didn't happen this month. I only got in a couple weights, plyo and yoga sessions each.

And I want to lose those three damn pounds! I remembered to weigh myself today and I am UP about half a pound from last month. UGH!!!

Compared to March, my overall volume wasn't bad. I didn't swim quite as much, but I am spending more time in the pool when I do make it there. I got on the bike a few more times, including going for an actual ride on the road TWICE, and ran the same number of times as March but for 5 more miles overall.

May is going to be tricky. I want to keep up that swim and run volume, and get out on the bike even more. Plus, I have my first race of the year over Memorial Day weekend! I'm not braving the lake water tomorrow, but by next weekend it should be tolerable. So my training sessions this month should have a focus on swimming smooth, biking strong, and running fast.

I know, I know -- easy to say, not so easy to do. But I am feeling good. I guess that first race will be the real test of all this training, planning and goal setting.