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.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Week in review June 15-21: Lots of running and decent swimming and biking, too

Run, run, run (and bike and swim)
It wasn't a bad week. I got in a decent number of swims and bike rides, and I had another HUGE running week. Sadly, I didn't do any other workouts, but considering a decent amount of time was spent with my father and father-in-law, I will happily take the trade-off.

Here's how my week shook out:

Swim: Twice in the pool and once in the lake for a total of about 7,600 yards in just longer than 3 hours. I forgot my Garmin Swim one of those pool days and had to estimate time and do sets short enough where I wouldn't lose count.

Bike: Three times on the trainer and one 45-mile road ride for almost 6 hours of saddle time. I discovered that my bike doesn't fit in my new car's trunk without taking both wheels off, and I was paranoid the entire first lap of the park that my rear wheel would fly off at any second. After pulling over TWICE to check things out, I was finally satisfied and could put some real work in. My mph average is higher on the same route than this time last year, so that's a success.

Run: The star of the week, again: Five runs, all on the road, for a total of 41.5 miles in just longer than 6.5 hours. That works out to two easy runs, one medium-distance/medium-pace run, one speed run (half-mile repeats), and one long run (13 miles). And, that makes for another 40+ mile week! Holy cow! I definitely was feeling heavy legs during my speed run Friday, and yesterday's long run was a little slower than I would have liked. But, that could have been from the heat and humidity or the occasional trail/dirt/gravel I had to run on as much as it could have been from fatigue.

Other: Nothing.

Total: 12 sessions in 15.5 hours. Nice!

With everything else going on, especially celebrating Father's Day with my dad Saturday evening and my father-in-law Sunday afternoon, I'm happy with these numbers. Of course I could have stretched, could have lifted weights, could have done this or that... I could also win the lottery, marry rich, inherit a few million, etc. So I'm pretty happy with the week overall.

Hopefully, this means the summer is off to a strong start. Now, to keep the momentum going.

Friday, June 19, 2015

4 in the 4s

I had some early days this week.
And by 4 in the 4s, I mean I managed to wake up and get out of bed while it was still 4-something o'clock a.m. four times this week.

I've done 5 in the 5s before, but during Game of Thrones' season early Monday mornings are just not going to happen. And I'm OK with that.

My early-morning week breaks down to two visits to the pool and two sessions on my bike trainer, which is nice to change it up a bit. I can't do anything that requires too much thought that early.

It makes for an early day, but it feels good to start off with some training.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What happens when it starts to rain on your run?

A few clouds.
You get wet.

I had every excuse NOT to run today: I was tired. I had a lot of things to do. I just ran yesterday. The rain was coming in.

Blah, blah, blah.

But I gave myself a tough-love talk, laced up my shoes and headed out. When I left the office, the radar indicated the storm was going to swing north. But at about mile 4 of my run I realized it was not. And I got wet.

And it was fine. It never got to the point of pouring, and it was actually kind of refreshing. And when I was done I felt SO happy I hadn't listened to my excuses.

I felt great. Wet, but great. When it doubt, run it out.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Week in review June 8-14: Mediocre swim and bike but a MONSTER run week

Yes MONSTER in all caps.
I finally feel like I'm starting to get back into my routine. I am independently mobile again, for one. I did have a setback in that it rained for most of Sunday, but I braved the only two-hour rain-free window and got my long run done, 90% humidity be damned.

A full half of my training time was spent running this week. Somehow, I managed a 40-mile week. The last time I was pulling that kind of weekly mileage was when I was wrapping up training for my last marathon.

Swim: Only once this week, for 3500 yards in the pool. I was out late buying my car Monday night and didn't make it to the pool Tuesday morning. And I got delayed with errands and going out to breakfast with my husband Saturday and didn't make it to the lake. Blech.

Bike: Three times this week, all on the trainer, for 4.5 hours total. The errands and breakfast I got delayed for Saturday also meant I didn't have time to get out to the state park and ride. But I DID put in 2.5 hours on the trainer instead. Not ideal, and mentally very challenging, but I did what I had to do. (After finishing The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, my current bike trainer series is Deadwood. Believe it or not, I've never watched it all the way through.)

Run: I managed five runs this week for a total of 40 freaking miles in about 6 hours, 20 minutes. Holy. Cow. That works out to one easy, one medium slow distance on a very hot day, one short and speedy easy-ish, one actual speed (descending miles), and one long slow run.

I got a late start Tuesday because I had to wait to for the truck to tow my old car home, but I squeezed in 5 good miles before dark. Wednesday was 91 degrees when I started and I wasn't breaking any records, that's for sure. But I played it smart by slowing down and taking extra drink breaks. Friday's speed run was another hot one, although not as bad as Wednesday, so I decided to try to descend miles and see what happened. I managed a respectable-for-me 8:27 for the last.

Sunday's run was a whole 'nother adventure. It was raining all day, so I ran errands, lingered over an iced coffee, and relaxed for a bit. Then -- the clouds parted at about 4:30 and I decided to go for it. It was HOT and MUGGY -- 90% humidity when I started. I was drenched in sweat by mile 4 or so and the salt started appearing on my clothes by 6-7. But I chugged on. Not too fast, stopping when I needed to, refilling my water bottle once, getting rained on for a little bit. I was able to do all 13 miles feeling strong although I was literally soaked through and dripping sweat by the end. Chalk that one up to mental training!

Other: Nothing. I just ran out of hours.

Total: 9 sessions in 12 hours, 13 minutes. Not a bad week at all!

I would really just like to get through this coming week without incident. No car trouble, no severe weather, no meetings taking up my evenings, no bachelorette parties: just me, my bike, my pool and my running shoes.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Here comes Peter Cottontail, there goes my rotator cuff

My hunters.
I like to run after work and usually hit the running trail by my office, but sometimes it just doesn't work out and I have to head home first. On those days, my crazy yellow lab mix, Daisy, gets to come with me for a few miles.

She LOOOOOOOOVES to run with me. She's getting better at being a running partner -- she's actually learning the difference between me calling out "left" and "right" -- but she is so high-energy that it takes a lot of work to contain her. My husband and I joke, "She only pulls for the first five or six miles."

A few days ago I ran a loop around the neighborhood and swung back home to pick her up for another 2. Whenever I grab her leash without taking my running shoes off, she knows what's going on immediately and starts shriek-barking and jumping around so much I can barely get her harness on her. But on that day I managed, and out we went.

My neighborhood is still developing in places, so there are a few vacant and overgrown lots. As we trotted down the street, we passed an area of tall grass, and then I saw him:

Enemy to humans running with dogs.
Daisy saw him, too, and instantly froze. She tried to get into a stalking/hunting position but Mr. Cottontail wasn't having any of it and tried to hop away. Well, so did Daisy, pulling me halfway across the lot with her. Mr. Cottontail decided on a different tactic: doubling back and trying to zig and zag between us. But Daisy was ready and tried to block him. She very nearly caught him. But, alas, I have neither the agility, speed nor desire to keep up with a wild rabbit, so we had to let him go.

... much to her disappointment. She started shriek-barking again, this time out of frustration, loudly enough for me to worry what the neighbors would think. For the rest of our run, she kept a very close eye on any tall grass, waiting for Mr. Cottontail to show his furry, delicious face once again.

Until next time, rabbit.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My new bike toy!

Oh yeah! (Ignore my husband's messy backseat.)
I finally upgraded!

Since I started getting serious about triathlon and doing some bike training indoors, I've been using an old wind trainer. It is so old it doesn't even have the capability to fit my triathlon bike, so I used my steel Huffy that is older that I am.

Finally, after I was unhappy with my results at my first tri of the year, I got the kick in the pants I needed to upgrade my bike training regimen. A quick visit to the local online triathlon forums and I found someone who wanted to get rid of his old fluid trainer for cheap. Perfect!

I've only been on it twice because of the craziness that was last week, but WOW, what a difference. I'm finding that I need more water breaks at the end of my session, so I am definitely working hard. If only I can get my CatEye to work again!

We're already a third of the way through June so if I want to do some serious training yet this summer, I've gotta get going. Hopefully this will help me in my never-ending quest to become a not-so-crappy cyclist.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Week in review June 1-7: Basically, a waste of a week

Blank training log pages give me the sads.
Welp. I knew it was going to be bad, but this past week ended up really, really bad.

It wasn't my fault that my car pooped the bed on Monday and I lost an evening of training to car shopping. By coincidence, or maybe the stars misaligning, I also had two personal meetings last week, which ruled out two more training evenings. And most of the nights went so late I couldn't get up early and still function the next morning. I had no means to get to the pool, anyway.

To top off my timing nightmare, I lost the weekend because Friday morning I headed out of town for my sister-in-law's bachelorette shenanigans. Now, I don't regret this at all! We had a blast and (hopefully) you only get married once. Plus, I walked all over the place, so it wasn't a total loss health-wise. But I couldn't fit in any formal training.

So for the week, I have a total of a whopping three workouts: One seven-mile run on the ONE evening I had free, one hour-long ride on the trainer the next morning, and one 45-minute yoga session while watching Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley Sunday evening. And that's it.

It goes without saying that June is off to a slow start. But good news: I signed paperwork on a car today, which means I'll be independently mobile for after-work runs and before-work swims. And I don't have any more personal meetings for a few more weeks. And I don't have any more bachelorette parties scheduled in the near future.

I'm trying to put this week behind me and move on to the next. Here's to picking up steam for the rest of June.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

May in review: Yay, some good news!

Hours trained this month.
I've been crabbing all over this blog lately, so let's get the bad news out of the way: My vehicle in fact IS in as bad of shape as previously thought, so it looks like some new wheels are in my future. I want a hatchback for easy triathlon equipment transportation purposes, but I need something fuel-efficient (so no SUVs or CUVs). My favorite so far is the Focus hatchback. Any suggestions?

OK, on to the good news: May wasn't terrible! I swam a bunch and ran a bunch and rode not quite as big a bunch but still spent some quality time in the saddle.

Monthly swim totals.
Swim: A great month as far as yardage. I swam 10 times, 7 in the pool and 3 times in the lake, for about 29,250 yards in just more than 11 hours. I came in about a quarter mile less than I swam in February, my only other 17-mile month in the past year. (I don't necessarily track in miles, but Daily Mile does, so there ya go.) Hooray!

Weekly bike road mile totals.
Bike: Biking is a little more hit-and-miss year-round because of our fabulous Michigan winters, but I was pretty steady with getting out there and riding for May. In addition to 135 road miles over 4 weekend rides, I hit the trainer 9 times for a grand total of about 18.5 hours in the saddle.

Compared to last May, I did the same amount of trainer rides and one more road ride. Compared to April, I did a bit less trainer time. But I got out on the road more, which I think is more important. This gets a Hooray! too.

Monthly run totals.
Run: I had the most success this month with running. It was my best month of the year so far and tied for the second-highest mileage month in many, many months. I guess 135 is my lucky number with that total being the same for both road miles and running miles in May.

This worked out to a whopping 20 runs this month, 17 on the road, over almost 21 hours in my running shoes. Weirdly, for every other month so far this year I've ran 18 times. I guess May was the boost I needed for those two extra times?

I'm happy to see I'm running my goal of at least 100 miles every month but I'm barely on task for my goal of 1,500 miles in '15. I expect to bump the mileage up a bit more as I seriously start my marathon training. But for now, a Hooray!

Other: Eh, not a great showing this month. However, I have started to get into the habit of doing yoga stretches each Sunday night during Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley. (Of course, just in time for the seasons to be wrapping up.) I did a couple weights videos but it was nothing to write home about.

Race weight: I have no idea what I weigh right now and honestly, I'm a little scared to see. Post-race eating, holiday weekends, sister-in-law's bridal shower and stress because of my car breaking down are NOT helping, I'm sure. My pants still fit, but I don't think that alone is worth a Hooray.

Overall, I'm happy with what I accomplished. Of course I could have done more, but I think the hours I did put in were quality. I ended the month sane and neither divorced nor injured. Hooray!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Week in review May 25-31, yeah I know I'm late so I'll make it quick

My car crapped out on me on the way to work Monday so I went car shopping that night (the good news is the mechanics don't think it's the disaster I believed it to be) and tonight I had a personal meeting. I'm behind and, unfortunately, not doing much training. So, here's a very quick and late week in review:

Swim: Once in the pool for 3500 yards in about 1:22. I took an extra day off after my race and my family-filled long weekend, and it was raining Saturday so I didn't make it out to the lake.

Bike: Twice, both on the trainer, for a total of 3:15. Same deal as swimming: I took an extra day off and then didn't make it out to the park because of the rain.

Run: OK, I actually put in some respectable mileage this week: 30.55 miles over four runs in about 4:47, including one long and boring treadmill run because it was, surprise surprise, raining on Sunday. My other runs included two easy (one was supposed to be a speed but the humidity was borderline unbearable) and a medium distance/fast finish that felt great.

Other: One weights video instead of a run on, ANOTHER SURPRISE, a rainy day, and a self-guided yoga session. All together this was about 1:25.

Total: 9 sessions in just under 11 hours.

Let's be honest: Last week sucked and this week will too, since I'm off to Chicago on Friday. I'm just going to move on, put these low-volume weeks behind me, and move on to the next one. I'm trying not to be too bitter. They can't all be A+ weeks.

Maybe instead of "sucky weeks" I'll call them "unanticipated recovery weeks." Yeah, I kind of like that.

Monday, June 1, 2015

We interrupt your regularly scheduled training to bring you car trouble

I'm pretty sure pieces of my car shouldn't be falling off.

I can't seem to catch a break lately. Today, on the highway about one exit away from my office, my car started shaking and making this terrible loud, grinding noise. I thought I had somehow swerved over the rumble strips. I'm pretty sure it's my transmission, since second gear has been slipping for me lately.

So, instead of heading home at a decent hour and doing a bike workout, I dragged my husband all over hell's half acre to go car shopping. I went on a few test drives and found something I liked, but I didn't fall in love with anything. And out of everything I looked at, only ONE was a manual transmission. (Hey, if you're going to steal my car, I'm making you work for it.)

Sadly, my car couldn't make it home and I'll have to have it towed. Until I figure something out, we're a one-car family. Which means I'll be going light, or not at all, on the before-work swims and after-work runs for a couple days.

This is so frustrating! Lord only knows how long this will take to get sorted out so I can get back on my regular schedule.