Thursday, July 30, 2015

July’s swimming time trial: I’m ready to give up my goggles for good

Not my best work.
I got out of the water this morning feeling frustrated and defeated. Being the last weekday swim of the month, I did my usual 1,100-yard time trial. This time, I was disappointed with the results – especially, and I’ll get into this more in my monthly review post, since this month marks the most I have ever swum in a month, ever. EVER.

So I had gone to the pool this morning with decent expectations. I had swam a 2:01/100 yard pace in April, a 2:07/100 yard for May, and a 2:06/100 yard for June, so I figured I could knock another second or two off my average. My medium sets have been nothing special lately, but I’ve been pulling some decent-for-me 100-yard sprint times.

I hit my watch in 24:25, a 2:13/100 yard pace. This was not only a significant slowdown from the last few months, but also my slowest time since January. January – when I had just started putting decent time in the pool again. Ugh!

I was concentrating on swimming strong and smoothly, but not necessarily fast. I haven’t slept well these last few days, but Thursday swims usually go better than Tuesday swims for some reason. Plus, I’d done plenty of warming up. I didn't have an excuse.

Maybe I could have gone a bit harder. I'm considering doing another time trial in a week or so to see if this was an aberration and if I can push faster.

Either way, I’m going to get through my race in three weeks, then take a step back and reassess my swimming and what I can change to improve. This is already my second pool and I really don't want to find a third. Coach? Lessons? Switch to duathlon? I barely have time to work and train as it is.

Ugh. It wasn't a good way to start the day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If you don't like the weather in Michigan, go for a run

With every run, a new adventure.
I got to sneak out of work a bit early today, so of course I headed to the running trail. It was hot -- I believe it was the first time this season that I started running with the heat index in the triple digits -- but the humidity wasn't bad and I had my Gatorade, so I figured I'd just take it slowly.

Of course, as soon as I parked the clouds started moving in. I heard a rumble of thunder. But being stubborn, and because I'd already spent a decent amount of time putting on sunscreen that I didn't want to go to waste, I told myself that the storm would swing south and headed out anyway.

The storm did not head south. I made it about 2.5 miles before the rain hit. But hey, no big deal! It had cooled down some! Splashing in puddles is fun! Sadly, my adventure had to be postponed when the lightning started and rain began coming down in sheets. I found a pavilion and hid out for about 20 minutes as the storm passed.

Honestly, it was nice being forced to sit for a while and watch the rain. No one was bothering me and I wasn't juggling nine things at once. I don't get much down time these days and I appreciated it.

Eventually the rain and thunder cleared out. I considered cutting my run short and just heading back to the car, but tough-loved myself into finishing the whole 9 miles. My clothes and shoes were soaked already, so what's a few more puddles? It had warmed up again by the end and gotten MUCH muggier (see in that last weather report the humidity zoomed back up to 85%). Thankfully, I had an extra shirt in my car so I didn't have to hit the grocery store afterward looking too deranged.

100-degree heat index, sheets of rain, humidity -- all in an afternoon's run.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Week in review July 20-26: Fitting in the big workouts around busy evenings

Still some decent training for a step back week.
Sorry I’m late (something I say quite a bit, unfortunately).

This week is already off to a slow start. I had good intentions to wake up super early Monday and do a recovery ride, but after a lousy night’s sleep it just didn’t happen. I got suckered into invited to another committee meeting last night – believe it or not, I do try to have a life outside of work and triathlon occasionally – and although I had more good intentions to do that recovery ride afterward, I just got home too late. But I did get to bed at a decent hour last night, so that’s something!

ANYWAY, last week was full of meetings and appointments in the evenings and a home-improvement project (which is STILL in progress), and as a result I missed a few easy workouts. But the big ones were good ones, so I’m happy with what I did manage to accomplish:

Swim: Twice, both in the pool, for 7,000 yards in a bit more than 2.5 hours. Eh, nothing special there. I skipped my usual weekend lake swim because I just needed a break from the state park.

Bike: Twice, once on the trainer and one 60-miler on the road, for a total of a bit longer than 4.5 hours. It was a good ride and I even rode in aero for a bit!

Two funny things happened regarding my ride that I forgot to mention in my previous blog post: 1. For the second time in as many rides on that route, a bug of some kind flew down my shirt and stung me right on the chest. I guess I need a higher-necked sports bra! 2. When talking about my ride with my dad, who dabbled in cycling and even completed a century when I was younger, he asked me why I stopped at 60 miles when I could have done 62 and called it a metric century. So, I guess I have to go for 62 on my next long-long ride!

Run: Four times, all on the road, for a total of 37 miles in 6 hours. That worked out to two medium-distance runs – one adjusted from the planned speed run on another 90-degree day – a quick brick after my long bike ride, and an early-morning 18-miler to build up that distance for the fall marathon. I would have liked to get in a few shorter runs, but with everything else going on, those were de-prioritized.

Other: Nothing.

Total: 8 sessions in about 13.5 hours. It’s 4 hours less training than last week, but still a decent volume, so I really can’t be that mad at myself.

This week I am hoping to get back into the routine of evening runs – although it’s supposed to be in the 90s all week again – not sleeping through my early mornings, and doing another long three-sport day on the weekend. I’ll appreciate the step-back long run of “only” 12 miles, and maybe try to have a little fun somewhere in there, too.

Only 26 days until race day and only three training weekends left! Eeeek!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

This cycle's 18-miler was not without adventure

A bit slower than I would have liked. All my gear behind is SOAKED in sweat.
It made for a very early morning, but I got out of bed and did my 18-miler before any of the day's commitments.

Humidity was already in the 90%s when I started and I was dripping with sweat by about mile 5. I did get to see the sun rise, which was nice. I took a break at mile 6 to swap out my glasses for sunglasses and got this picture:
The Detroit River. (Canada to the left.)
I got to see a triathlon setting up, which was interesting -- I am never watching from the outside. After I finished my loop and headed back toward home, I noticed a ruckus ahead of me. If I were to continue with my planned route, I'd be joining a 5K! I considered the implications vs. changing my route, and decided to go ahead, try to stay out of the way, and not take any water off the course. I was already at mile 15 or so, so I'm sure I got some strange looks being soaked with sweat so early in the race, not to mention running a 5K with a Camelbak.

My shoes were squishing by then and I just wanted to get home. One person actually stopped riding his bike to laugh at me. I'm not sure if I should feel insulted, but it made me laugh at the time. I would have liked to run a faster pace, but considering the humidity (and tired legs from my 60-miler yesterday) I was happy with an average that started with 9.

This also made me happy:
Yes, please.
Getting up shortly after 5 a.m. on a Sunday isn't fun, but having the rest of the day to do whatever you want sure is. I've done big, important things today like goof around online, drink coffee and play with the dogs. (OK, I did get groceries, too.)

Now to rest the legs and prepare for the week ahead.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Aerobars: A new hope

Smart idea, or did I give up too soon?
Today was my first 60-mile ride of the cycle. Last week, I had tried to adjust my aerobars much farther apart, thinking it would help with my center of gravity and make me more comfortable riding. Well, that didn't work out so well -- I never got the bars, clamps and shims to line up in that perfect order and the aerobars rocked front to back.

(Yes, there is still drywall dust everywhere. Since we already had to pull everything away from the walls, we [OK, my husband] is throwing a "quick" coat of white paint on the walls. But I actually cooked dinner last night and breakfast this morning! And I will not put anything back into my closet that I don't actually wear.)

My big Friday plans included a run, cooking dinner and fixing my aerobars. I know, I know -- it's a rock star life. My trusty hex key and I settled in. I must have unscrewed and re-screwed everything 10 times and it just. wasn't. working. I was getting more and more frustrated.

I turned to the internet, which suggested cutting a strip off a can. Don't bike geeks know that we have a 10-cent can deposit in Michigan? But! That got me thinking. I have some extra bar tape -- just squishy enough that it could hold the clamp in place. I measured it out, gave it a try, and...

It worked! Well enough, anyway. If I pull super hard the bar still moves up and down, but it holds tight enough that I can use them as intended. The REAL moment of truth was today. I've never felt comfortable in aero, but on a false flat with no one else around, I settled in, and held it!!!

I was so excited! I feel like a real triathlete now. I never rode in aero for more than a mile or so at a time, but it's a MUCH bigger improvement from the "OK, I'll hold for five seconds... aaaaahhhhh! I'm going to fall!" conversation I've had with myself every other time. And it was nice to give my wrists a break from leaning on the crossbar.

Best of all, I am learning and practicing with a few weeks yet to go before Michigan Titanium. If I get a few more rounds of practice in between now and then, maybe that will help shave some time off my bike split.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A nightmare scheduling week and a home improvement project mean very little training

The current state of my living room.
This week – ugh! I try not to subscribe to the whole “working for the weekend” mentality since I hate to wish days of my life away, but man, is it over yet?

After having my highest volume training week in months, logging almost 17.5 hours of swim-bike-run last week, this week has been a scheduling nightmare:

On Monday, I was still kind of tired from Sunday’s swim, long bike and long brick, surprisingly, so I just lounged around all evening. Once you put on the Oscar the Grouch pajama pants, you’re not going anywhere else.

Tuesday was my only successful day! I swam in the morning, and later I got to leave work a few hours early so I snuck in a 9-miler before the commitment I had scheduled. But leaving early was the only way I made this work.

On Wednesday, I did a bike trainer ride in the morning and that’s it. I had actually turned off my alarm because I really, REALLY didn’t want to get out of bed, but when I couldn’t fall back asleep within 5 minutes, I guilted myself up and on the bike.

Wednesday evening, I had a dress fitting appointment for my sister-in-law’s wedding in two weeks (!!!), and it lasted all of 10 minutes. I COULD have turned around to head back home and do a run, but… my husband and I had already decided we’d made it a date night. And the pizza and ice cream we had (do we know how to party or what?) were pretty damn delicious.

Thursday, I was exhausted from staying up Wednesday night way later than I would have liked, but I still got up and hit the pool. But I had another evening commitment that ran longer than expected. So not only did I not get to run in the evening, but because of the late night last night...

... I didn't make it up in time to get on the bike trainer this morning.

Severely complicating things even further, we had insulation blown into our walls yesterday. In order to do this in our condo, we had to move EVERYTHING away from the walls, which included dumping my entire closet into a huge pile in my bedroom. We can't move everything back yet because we need to re-patch a few holes and sand. And now my husband has the bright idea to paint and maybe pick out some new furniture while we're walking around giant mountains of all our stuff -- and buried in one is my bike!

Even worse than that, the entire condo is coated in drywall dust, and my kitchen is pretty much unusable for the time being. Between the scheduling and the insulation, we've gone out to eat WAY too many times this week. I make this my solemn vow to get the kitchen clean enough to cook dinner after my run today! If I scrub off the stovetop and only use food straight from the fridge, I should be OK, right?

My next 70.3 is 30 days away and I can't get to my bike, cook, nor breathe for the drywall dust. I could barely find running clothes under all the piles. And now any time I would have spent catching up on meal prep or household chores is going to be spent putting the condo back together again.

Ugh! What do they say about the best-laid plans?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week in review July 13-19: Heat waves, schedule shuffling and aerobar mishaps

Boom shaka laka.
It was one of my best training weeks in a long time. I didn't do any "other," but I hit every single swim, bike and run workout on the schedule. Yes!

I finagled my schedule a bit to do my long run (a step back 12) Saturday morning before brunch and errands, and before the heat advisory kicked in. In the afternoon, my husband I headed to our club's pool to lounge. I did put in a mile of actual swimming between lounge sessions, only running into one drunk guy.

That meant I did my usual Saturday swim-bike-run on Sunday, instead. I got a decently early start and had most of my miles biked before the crowds hit the park for the beaches, my main goal.

Ideally I'd do swim-bike-run on Saturday and long run-recovery swim on Sunday, but with the farmer's market on Saturday only and my long runs getting longer, it's going to be trickier and trickier to make work. Well, one way or the other, I only have four more weekends of training until race day, so I won't have to worry about scheduling for very much longer.

Swim: FOUR times, three times in the pool and once in the lake, for about 10,350 yards in just less than 4 hours. It may be the first time this training season I've swum four times in a week, not counting the weekend I did two races that each included a swim.

Bike: Four times, three times on the trainer and one 50-mile road ride, for a total of about 6 hours, 20 minutes. I almost gave up on the ride since my aerobars worked loose, but I'm glad I gave it try.

Run: Another monster week: Six times, all on the road, for a total of 45 miles. That works out to two half-easy, half-speed runs; one actual easy run; one medium-distance; one 6-mile brick after my 50-mile bike; and one long run, a step back of 12 miles. I did all of that in 7 hours, 1 minute. I couldn't shave 10 seconds off each run??? Ha! 45 miles is second only to the 46.5 I ran last week this training cycle.

Other: Nothing. This was enough.

Total: 14 sessions in SEVENTEEN HOURS and 17 minutes. Wowee! Not my greatest week, but I'm sure it's second or third place.

I'm already off to a slower start this week, taking it easy after my monster weekend, but I plan on jumping into it tomorrow. I have some evening commitments, so I might miss and easy run or two, but I'll get the big ones knocked out. Quality over quantity, right?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Quick thoughts and pics after my long day of training

OK, I don't swim that crookedly.
I had a monster day today -- about 1600 yards across the lake and back, 50 miles on the bike, and a 6-mile brick. Of course, it couldn't have gone smoothly.

I don't swim THAT jaggedly, and I know I didn't backtrack, so ignore that part of the screen shot above. But, you will notice that I started and ended in different places. Why, you ask? Because to swim back across the lake I had to sight DIRECTLY into the sun.

There's a big tree to sight at first, but as it fades into the treeline as you get closer to shore, you need something smaller to sight on the beach. I usually put a white towel in a bush. But the sun was making it really difficult. Eventually I just gave up, swam to the nearest beach, and walked over. Ha!

I headed back to shore to change and sunscreen up. When I took my bike out of the hatch, this had happened:

Your aerobars aren't supposed to do that.
Well, crap. I had tried to adjust my aerobars last night so I would actually try using them and not freak out. Apparently there is a male/female lineup in the shim between the aerobars and the crossbar. Which, also apparently, I did not line up correctly. I keep a multitool in a little flat kit, but I couldn't figure it out. And I was losing time.

I had a serious discussion with myself: Do I want to pack it up and head home? If I ride like this, am I putting myself or other riders in danger? My brakes worked fine, and I am scared to ride in aero anyway, so I decided to give it a shot, geared to the middle of my big ring.

And it went OK! I completed my 50 miles essentially riding a fixie. I had to mash up the hills and I spun out on the downhills, but other than that it was fine. I never felt out of control or in danger -- I would have stopped if that were the case. And while my mph average was slow, it wasn't ridiculously so.

After my Garmin beeped for 50 miles I threw my bike in the car and changed my cleats and helmet for running shoes and a visor. It was hot. I could feel the heat radiating from the pavement back up at me. And about I mile in I realized I had forgotten to re-spray my back with sunscreen. Crap! I tried to stick to the shade as much as I could. I plodded on, drinking Gatorade every mile without stopping. I assessed myself a few times -- am I feeling OK? Am I still sweating? Am I hydrated enough? -- and eventually hit my 6 miles at a sub-9:00 pace. Not bad, considering this:

A bit warm.
FEELS LIKE 99. But at least the humidity and dew point were bearable!

I walked back to my car, ditched my shoes and hat, and kept walking... right into the lake. Oh man, it felt so cool and refreshing! I sat in the shallow water for a minute and dunked my head in. A young kid gave me a weird look and paddled over to investigate. "I just went for a run and am really hot," I said. He didn't look like he was buying it. I headed back to my car to head home before the authorities were called on the weird lady.

It was a long yet rewarding day. I'm looking forward to sitting on my butt and resting my legs for the rest of the night.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lately, Detroit is only slightly cooler than the surface of the sun

Remind me of this when I'm complaining about sub-zero temps in February.
It's been a challenging couple of days, run-wise. It got really hot, really fast and while I like to think I'm pretty well acclimated to the heat by this time, "feels like 96" with high humidity and dew point sure do challenge that. (I know 84 isn't bad, but it's the humidity and a 73 degree dew point that's killer.)

Yesterday was the second speed run in as many weeks that became a "just jog it in" run after a few miles. I actually managed to pretty much descend the first four, but when you feel like you want to die and you're not even pulling a sub-9 pace, it's time to dial it back. By then it was feeling like high 90s and I was getting lots of strange looks from drivers and even cyclists passing by. Afterward, I sat in the car with the a/c blasting full on my face for at least five minutes... and was still dripping sweat.

After a shower I analyzed the weather for the weekend and saw that a heat advisory was supposed to kick into place today at noon. So I could head out to the park for my usual swim-bike-run brick and dodge the millions of people probably heading to the beaches, or I could sneak my long run in first thing in the morning, sit on my butt for the rest of the day in the a/c, and do my s-b-r on Sunday when it was supposed to be hot but not quite as hot.

So, I planned on an "early" run today to get it over with. I even got to bed at a decent hour. But things never go as planned: First I "needed" an extra 15 minutes of sleep, then I put on an extra layer of sunscreen to be safe, then my lab mix absolutely would not poop for me. I put the dogs in the bedroom so they would stay out of trouble, and then they started CRYING for breakfast, waking up my husband, so I had to take care of that. Sheesh! These spoiled mutts used to be street dogs.

FINALLY, I headed out the door just after 8. I was about 2 hours too late. I had my frozen bottle of Gatorade, but it didn't stay frozen for long. I decided to plod a few laps around my neighborhood, just in case I did get sick and needed to beeline home. I found a shady spot every 2 miles to drink and reassess my body -- Am I really OK? Do I have any symptoms of heat exhaustion? -- and while I was hot and unhappy, I felt physically fine otherwise.

I almost headed home every mile starting at mile 8, my shoulder devil telling me that it was "close enough," and found a water fountain to refill my bottle about then, too. My clothes were completely soaked. Even my shoes were squishing. But... I chugged on. I wasn't setting any records, but I did my 12 miles, heat advisory be darned.

I am going to make good on my promise for the rest of the day of sitting on my butt in the a/c. I might find a pool to lounge by later -- we'll see how ambitious I get. And hopefully training won't be quite as miserable tomorrow.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Quick mid-week check-in

It rained the other day. I got wet.
I've been busy all week with work and training, which I guess is a good thing because I've been hitting all my swim-bike-run workouts.

Tuesday afternoon it started raining before my usual run time. My boss caught me looking sadly out the window and scolded me: "No, you cannot go running." OK, that was funny. I kept an eye on the radar and when the skies cleared a bit I decided to go for it. I ran 3 out to the water fountain when I turned around to head back to my car...

It started raining again. I hung out under the roof for a bit (and drank lots of water!), but eventually decided to go for it. I got wet, of course, but it felt refreshing. And everyone knows running in the rain makes you even more of a badass.

I was at the very end of yesterday's run and I must not have been paying attention because I stepped on a stick and turned my ankle... BADLY. I had to take a break and walk gingerly for a few minutes before I was sure I would live. I did finish my run, but very carefully. It's a bit tender today but didn't bother me at all on today's run -- whew.

One more early early morning tomorrow and then my usual weekend full of training. My goal is to get up and moving before late afternoon so I'm not training 'til 8 p.m. on the weekend. And maybe have some fun in the process, too.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week in review July 6-12: A LOT of running

That's a lot of running miles.
Another decent week in the bag. Of course I would have liked to swim and bike more, but my running game was on point this week. Small victories.

I got a bit of a slow start because I took one of the mutts to the vet on Monday to get a boo-boo looked at, but I was able to jump in to the rest of the week strong Tuesday morning.

Swim: Twice in the pool and once in the lake for about 8650 yards in about 3.5 hours. My pool swims were pretty slow, but my lake swim was my fastest time (but not shortest distance!) across and back, so I'll take it.

Bike: I missed my Monday evening recovery spin for the vet, but I managed twice on the trainer in the early mornings for an hour, and one blah road ride of 53.5 miles. In all it was about 5.5 hours in the saddle.

I just had a hard time getting going on my ride. I started the day with a nice breakfast and important errands. But I had taken my wheels off to get my bike to fit in the trunk, and it made all kinds of unholy noise once I put it back together. (Turns out my front wheel was a bit crooked.) The miles were ticking by SOOOOO SLOWLY. I seriously considered bailing more than once. I made a compromise with myself that instead of doing full laps of the park, I'd do a few shorter laps of the flatter and speedier part to bring up my mph average. Lame? Maybe, but it put me in a better headspace and I actually started to enjoy myself. I'd wanted to do 55, but when I got back to my car at 53.5 I figured it was close enough.

Run: Another rock star week! SIX, count 'em SIX, runs this week, for a whopping 46.25 miles in just less than 7.5 hours. Are you kidding me? And I'm actually feeling OK afterward. That worked out to two easy runs, a failed speed run that became another easy run, a medium distance run, a long run of 16.25 miles, and a 2-mile brick after my ride.

I think I pulled one 50-mile week last marathon training cycle, and that was later in the cycle, so I hope this is helping set me up for good things this season. As for the failed speed run, I'm not too worried. It was the first warm day after a stretch of a few cool ones, and my legs just didn't want to go. Eh. At least I got the miles in.

Other: Nothing. Again, I could have stretched or done this or that, but... I replaced that with activities like sleeping in and hanging out with my friends.

Total: 12 sessions in just more than 16 hours. Not my best week but pretty darn close. And I got to see this for what might have been the first time:

Triple digits!
This week is pretty much a repeat, although I'd like to do a slightly shorter ride followed by a longer brick, and a step back "long" run on Sunday. So the mileage should be about the same, just shuffled around a bit. I'm making it a goal to get going a bit earlier on the weekends. I don't need to be out of bed by 5 a.m., but not starting my bike rides 'til 3 p.m. isn't doing me any favors.

Less than 6 weeks 'til Michigan Titanium and less than 100 days 'til the Freep marathon. Eeeek!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Off to a late start pretty much all weekend long

Train early, or have someone else make this for me?
It's been a whirlwind weekend.

Friday I kicked off the weekend with a failed attempt at speed work. Then my husband and I went out to a lovely dinner.

Saturday we went out to breakfast (I know, two meals out back to back), hit the farmer's market, and ran a couple other errands. By the time I got out to the state park to swim it was well into the afternoon. I didn't even start my bike ride until after 3 and my quick brick run until almost 7.

Today was more of the same: I had every intention of getting up at 6:30 a.m. to go run, but there was rain on the weather radar, and I decided to go back to bed. Two hours later (!) it was time to make breakfast and go grocery shopping, and it was still muggy and gross, anyway. I didn't start my 16-miler today until after 2 p.m.

I know conventional wisdom says to train first thing in the morning, even on the weekends, but there are times when I can't make it work or, really, just don't want to.

My husband does his own thing during the week and we like going out to breakfast on Saturdays to reconnect. Plus, now that I am doing 50-60 mile bike rides, if I left early to train I'd be lucky to be done before the farmer's market closed. So training gets put off for a few hours.

I can make 10-12-mile runs work first thing in the morning on Sundays, but when I start getting into 14 and 16 miles at a time, it's a little trickier. Like today -- and man oh man, did that extra sleep feel good. I know I don't sleep enough during the week. It can't be so terrible to want an extra hour or two on the weekend, right?

So, for now at least, I'm not going to feel guilty about training in the afternoons when I have to or just don't want to get up early. It's all part of juggling what precious little free time I have. As long AS the training sessions happen, I don't think it matters too much WHEN they happen.

Plus, come on -- breakfast dishes that someone else washes? That's a luxury everyone should partake in at least once a week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Race Report: Independence open-water mile and Aquathlon

My kind of bling.
I wasn't expecting great things for these races, considering my swim has been "meh" at best lately. But if you set the bar low enough, you might surprise yourself with a victory. I ended the morning with a 50-second PR for the mile and a 6-minute PR for the run-swim-run, although I'm confident the swim course was short.

I hadn't gotten very good sleep the night before. My alarm was set for 6 a.m., and around 10 p.m. the fireworks started. My lab mix is terrified of the loud noises and had to lie as close to me as possible... meaning lie directly on my chest for most of the night. Things calmed down at about midnight but I feared I wouldn't be going into this race full throttle.

Full night's sleep or no, I was up and at 'em early, ate some potatoes and drank some coffee, took the mutts out, gathered up my stuff, and drove the hour to the lake. I've done this race twice before (last year's recap here) but for some reason I couldn't remember how to get to the park! I found the lake, and drove up and down subdivision streets surrounding it, but couldn't figure out where the race was. I started thinking it had been held the day before. Finally, I spotted the cones marking the run course and started following them like a mouse does cheese. I arrived with about 20 minutes to spare, which, for this very laid-back race, was plenty.

I hadn't yet swam open water without a wetsuit this year, but I knew I didn't want to be shrugging it on and off again during the Aquathlon. I got in the water -- a bit cool, but not bad -- for a warmup without it, and after paddling around a bit, I was fine. The organizers went over the course, gave us a countdown, and we were off!

It was two laps around the lake and I let the faster swimmers get ahead of me (story of my life). I tried to swim strong and smooth, anchoring my hand in the water and pulling my body. There was a bit of scuffle around the buoys but nothing too bad. Back to shore, around the start buoy, and back again. I had a bit of trouble swimming in a straight line (again, story of my life) so I just made sure to sight every 6 strokes or so. That's a lot of sighting, but I didn't want to go off course.

I finished feeling good as I swam until I touched bottom and stumbled to shore. I looked at the clock to see a 36-something. Woo hoo! My official time was 36:41, a 50-second PR. Since I wasn't expecting a PR at all, I was pleased.

With a 36-minute mile swim time, I had 25 minutes until the run-swim-run started. I had a Gu, used the ladies' room, and put on shoes and socks. We had to wear or carry our race numbers for the second run portion, and I had forgotten my race belt! Thinking fast, I pinned the number to the sleeve of the shirt I had worn to the race, thinking I'd tie it around my waist as I took off. I saw a handful of ladies with their numbers pinned to their visors -- genius!

Another quick review of the course, another countdown, and we were off! It was a 2K run loop, another swim, and the same 2K run loop again. I started near the back and settled into a steady, strong pace, leaving slower runners behind one by one. There were a few short and steep hills and I just told myself, Power through the hill! It only sucks while you're running up it! Ha. Back to the beach, kick off my shoes and socks, grab my goggles and swim cap, and into the water once again. The swim was FAST and I'm sure it wasn't the 750 m advertised. Extrapolating my mile swim time, it was probably closer to 600-650. Before I knew it I was back at the beach, fresh socks on, shoes on, grab my hat and glasses, grab my shirt with my number pinned on, and off I went!

I came out of the water with a pack of about four other women. I didn't want to surge too early in case they were faster than me, but I was able to steadily drop them one by one. I was running strong and feeling good. I picked off a couple more people as we went up the hills, around the park, and back to the beach. I crossed the finish line in 32:55, a ridiculous 6-minute PR, which I know isn't accurate because the swim was obviously short. Assuming a 625 m swim, my run times were probably about 8-minute miles. (Like I said: Laid back race. No chip timing. We were one step above popsicle sticks.)

My time was good enough for third in my age group and a prize of a cool new coffee mug. Yay! Then, I headed home and took a glorious 2.5 hour nap. I had barely worked out for an hour total, but it was a hard effort, and I hadn't slept much the night before. I probably could have stretched or ran another couple of easy miles later in the day but... I just didn't want to.

All in all, a great race, a fun time, and a good showing. And inspiration to keep working on those lake swims for my upcoming 70.3.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week in review June 29-July 5: An extra day and ending on a high note

Pretty even training ratios across the board.
I took advantage of an extra training day this week with the long weekend. I may not have gotten up as early as I wanted to, but I had a solid bike ride, some decent run miles, and my best swim volume in a long, long time.

That swim volume was mostly due to two races Sunday, an open-water mile and a run-swim-run Aquathlon. I'll get the race report up soon, but the TL;DR is: Set your expectations low and you'll be pleasantly surprised when you exceed them.

Swim: Five times, if you count the races as two separate swims: Twice in the pool, one training swim in the lake, and two races in the lake. This works out to be just under 11,000 yards in just more than 4 hours, which is probably my highest-volume swim week ever.

Bike: Three times, twice on the trainer and one great 52-mile ride on the road, for just more than 5 hours. I saw an average speed I haven't seen in a long, long time on my road ride, so I am hopeful that I am making progress.

Run: Four times, all on the road, for 29.5 miles in about 4.5 hours. I mean, I would have thrown another half mile on somewhere had I know it was going to be THAT close. That worked out to one medium-distance run, one easy run, one (painfully) long, slow distance, and one race that included 4K (about 2.5 miles) total running.

Other: Nothing. I could have gotten in some stretching after my race Sunday, but instead I took a glorious 2.5-hour nap.

Total: 12 sessions in about 13 hours, 40 minutes.

Not a bad little week. Sadly, most weeks I do have to work five days, but I'm happy to take advantage of some free hours here and there when I do get them. It might be for a 2.5-hour nap, but I'll take advantage one way or another!

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.