Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Podium Dreamin’ and Fixing My Running Form

If you take a look at me, especially in wet spandex, in high resolution, at some particularly unflattering angles, I’m not exactly the person you would size up and think about being on the podium.  That’s for skinny, fit people with 8% bodyfat wearing extra small tri kits, right?

Pfluger05

Which, let’s face it, I am not.

Well, I’ve proved that theory wrong a few times with some podium action, but it’s the exception and definitely not the rule.  And because I keep improving just a little bit at the short, local stuff each year, it’s starting to be in my grasp to be fighting for the top few spots in my AG if things go really well.  It’s another avenue for motivation during a race besides just hitting HR/pace/power numbers, which is fun.

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I didn’t know it then, but 15 of the other 21 pink caps were behind me.

Size is barely a limiter at all in the swim.  Frankly, most triathletes that enter the local sprint tri not great swimmers.  Because I have pretty good form and practice swimming (both open water and speedwork in the pool) a few times a week, I usually come out pretty close to the front of the pack for my age group.

Cycling, I’ve clawed my way up the power to watt ratio with lots of specific work on how to hurt myself and like it over 1, 2, 5, 20+ minutes.  It’s changed from my worst sport to generally the one I place the highest, even with my old, entry level road bike.  This year, once I get the hang of my new Death Star, I have a feeling that I’ll be hanging on with the top ladies in my age group for said reasonably local-ish, smaller (and flatter) races.

Pfluger07

Thumbs up for doing all the passing and not much of the falling back.

My transitions could use a little work sometimes, but I rarely get hit by gravity anymore.  As the season goes on, I get more efficient, and I believe I’ve pared down to only things I really need.  I could do the shoes on the bike trick and go without socks, but I’m not quite there yet.

The run is where it all falls apart.  I’m generally hanging on in a good spot after the bike, if things went well.  I was fourth last race.  If I had a good run, I could have tried to hunt down third place and voila! Podium!  However, the ladies that are swimming and biking like me run 1-2 minutes faster per mile than I do.  What happened instead – I was in fourth, I got passed once putting me in fifth, and I’m actually really surprised that I finished in fifth because my run was only ninth best.  I just beat sixth, seventh, and eighth by enough on the swim, bike, and transitions, they ran out of room to catch me.

Pfluger15

Horns up because I earned my freezy pop!

There are two paths to get my 5 seconds of fame at an awards ceremony.

  1. Get so good at the swim and the bike that I’m coming off in first place, and hope I don’t get caught by more than 2 people in my age group on the run.
  2. Try to improve my run so I could possibly, potentially, maybe actually run someone down off the bike instead of getting passed passed passed passed passed all the time.

While the first would be really cool in and of itself, I think that I need to find the missing link for the second and it’s not the obvious things.  I’ve thrown volume at it, I’ve trained fast miles off the bike consistently, I’ve trained in the heat, there’s just something that’s not clicking on with my run in races.  So it’s time to do some things that I haven’t done before in pursuit of a better run leg.

First…nail down a nutrition plan AND FOLLOW IT.  I am NOTORIOUSLY horrible at this.  I went into the run at Pflugerville on ~40 calories in the hatch (from the half bottle of Scratch I sucked down on the bike).  I forgot how to eat on the bike and I am SO lucky I put an emergency gel in my handheld (who needs a gel on the run for 3 miles?  …that would be me).  The ONLY reason I did so well before that is I had remembered to eat some highly caffeinated chews about 1 hour before the race, and they were OBVIOUSLY wearing off the first half mile of the run.

Here are things I’m going to do:

  • Carby snacks.  I’m already working towards making sure I don’t overdo the protein and fat (while still hitting my daily recommendations) so I can dedciate every other calorie possible to CARBS (more carbs while taking care of the other stuff = better fueled workouts).
  • Fueling more workouts in better ways.  This is pretty much sports nutrition 101, but in practice, I think I’m a special snowflake who doesn’t need the calories to perform.  Yes, this takes away some of my french fry calories.  Suck it up, buttercup.  This will make me a better runner and probably more likely able to hunt someone down…. 😛
    • AM workout (less than an hour) – gatorade, coconut water, or other carby snack before I leave for work unless I’m eating breakfast right away.
    • AM workout (more than an hour) – one gel or equivalent every 45 mins, carby snack either before the workout, before I leave for work, or split between both (ideal).
    • Lunch workout – carby snack if I’m not immediately eating lunch (which is rare, but happens).
    • PM workout (less than an hour) – carby snack before (I should not be super hungry starting a PM workout), carby snack after or dinner within 30 minutes.
    • PM workout (more than an hour) – carby snack before, one gel or equivalent for every 45 minutes, and a carby snack or dinner within 30 minutes.
    • Any workout that goes beyond 2 hours – must have carbs before, every 45 mins, and immediately after.

Second…work on my running FORM.  Now that I’ve studied up on biomechanics and optimal running form, it’s pretty clear to me I’m doing it wayyyy wrong.  Apparently, I’ve been JOGGING and not RUNNING (running means both feet off the ground at the same time and according to race pics – I don’t do that).  We need to fix that, because my pride says that I am NOT a jogger.

Here’s some pictures from the race to illustrate my point.  Learn with me while I analyze my race photos.  This is what running is supposed to look like:

Posefallpull

My running “pose” position sucks.  I should look more like this guy above.  Instead this is what I look like:

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With my leg so low, I’m not getting any momentum as it swings through, so my stride length is super short and shuffly.  I am bent at the hips, I should be leaning with my whole body and my ankle should be dorsiflexed instead of straight up and down.

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With my pose lacking, it means the rest doesn’t go very well.  My leg doesn’t swing out very far because it has very little momentum, and I don’t have far to fall, so I’m not getting that good lean going on.  And that’s not good because that means my stride is short and lacking power.  Look – I’m jogging.  My feet are not both off the ground at the same time.  I’m a jogger.  Ugh.

Pfluger12

Because I’m not leaning (or falling) enough, I’m heel striking.  If I could get my body over my leg a little more I’d be hitting the ground on my midfoot, touching just a little heel (and also a little toe).  But I’m not.

This essentially puts the brakes on.  I’m giving up energy I worked really hard to create!  That sucks!  Why would I want to do that unless I was running down a steep hill?  If I can move my strike more forward, I can keep more momentum going, which means less energy needs to be created by ME per stride.

So, how do I do this?

Concentrate on my form every run.  I need to work on improving my pose, I need to learn how to fall correctly, and I need to strike in the correct spot on my feet.  Like riding a bike (or at least, riding a bike in traffic with clips), I need to concentrate on this all the time until it’s totally natural… and then probably some more.

Photographic proof of progress.  I need to have Zliten and I play paparazzi with each other more often to snag pictures and video of our running form to see how it’s developing.  Either set up a camera outside the house and do loops of our block or go to the track or something.

Drills.  I always say “yep, I should be doing drills” and what do I never do?  Drills.  I found a pretty comprehensive list of things to do here and I’m doing to make sure I do them at the very least once a week during an easy run.

Monitor my cadence.  Oddly enough, when I trend towards a 90+ cadence, I feel better, expend less energy, and I bet I’d be running instead of jogging.  This means smaller strides, but much quicker ones if I’m doing it right, which is not a bad thing.

Strength Training.  I’m already doing this, but I need to pay attention once I am running with good (better) form to see if it reveals any weaknesses.  Who knows, maybe this will solve the glute/hammie cramping thing I get during long runs?  That would be rad!

And, hey – if nothing else – it will be nice to do something on the run this summer instead of think about how hot it is!

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

Eating foods:

June23-2

Spinach and chicken enchiladas after a long hot bike ride…

I was getting a little down on myself this week because I’ve stopped making progress with #projectraceweight.  I’m so glad I’m tracking against calories burnt on fitbit.  Previously, I would have just been like “WTF is wrong with my body, I’m defective, it’s not fair, yadda yadda”.  Now, I look at fitbit, and I’ve been over my (-1000) calories most of the last 7 days.  That’s data that makes sense.   I can roll with that.

It’s going to be interesting transitioning back to training a little bit.  In theory, I just need to continue to watch the numbers, but there will be some point where I’m just too hungry to keep it up and I’ll have to eat more.  That’s fine.  I’ll figure it out as I go along.  All I know is that whether I’m using -1000 or much less of a deficit per day, I won’t be arbitrarily aiming for some calorie count no matter what my activity level is like I did last year.  That way lies fatness.

In terms of diet modifications, to maximize my performance at the lowest calorie intake is to be smart about my macronutrients, most of all carbs.  But not in the way I bet you’re thinking.

I suck at pure carbs.  I want my sugar to have fat in it too.  Chocolate.  PB+J.  Pretzels and cheese.  I know fat is also essential, but it’s very easy for me to hit my range and pretty easy for me to go over when I’m eating more.  On 1200-1500 calories, I’m good (typically) at hitting my protein and fat macros, so with more activity, I need to increase pure carbs.

One of the best ways for me to do this is to fuel my workouts well.  I have a mental block against this for some reason.  Gels and sports drink are only for long, hard efforts.  Fruit is something to be limited.  Jellybeans rationed.  The odd thing is that when I actually do properly fuel my workouts I feel great, and actually end up eating less overall throughout the day.  But my stupid brain goes: “hey, this isn’t a race, just underfuel a bit now and we’ll binge on some french fries after instead because that’s way more fun than stupid GUs”.

While it kills me a little inside to suck down 2.50$ packets of stuff that doesn’t taste very good on just your average Wednesday workout, I can be better about bringing stuff like dried mango, jelly beans, etc, things that hit that magical 25g per ~100 calories.  And the pros keep pushing the lowfat chocolate milk recovery thing, so maybe there is something to that.   I may give that a try on workouts I have access to a fridge directly after.

Looking back on days where I’ve done a good job, in 1200 calories, I can get all my protein, all my fat, and ~100g carbs.  Every 100g carbs is an extra 400 calories.  So, that means, on days when I have 1600 calories to eat, I can consume about 200g carbs.  When I have 2400 calories to eat, I can consume about 400g.  This is generally the LOWEST recommendation of carbs for an endurance athlete.  So, starting next week, meal and snack planning will be more crucial than ever, and I’ll be working to earn those carbs!

Riding Bikes:

June23-1

Evilbike lost her horns (her clip on aero bars)!  She’s now a true road bike again!

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to formally announce that I’ve done my first group ride since February… and it was SUPER FUN and not really scary at all.  It was the beginner ride, so people were a little more courteous, and also we were only 7 (and then 6 after a rider dropped to go home), so it was less crazy than trying to keep 15-20 people together.

The pace was relaxed.  Not agonizingly slow (though I heard we went a little faster than normal since we all weren’t actually beginners), just a nice cruising pace winding through lots of neighborhoods on the north side of Austin I never knew existed.  Definitely recovery ride territory, it was easy peasy minus the 95 degree heat and a few steep hills.  I’m still terrible at clipping in, it takes me at least a few tries and typically looking down to fumble with the pedals to do it, but the most important thing is I feel confident unclipping.  That makes everything else okay.  It’s something that will come with practice and I’m alright practicing when I’m not terrified of going down on a busy road in front of a car.

We had so much fun playing bikes we decided even though it wouldn’t be the most convenient thing, we bike commuted today, and there will definitely be a destination bike ride or two this weekend.  Bikes are habit forming substances!  I’ve come so far since THIS GIRL a few months ago, wanting badly to spend more time outside on two wheels but having no idea how to accomplish that because bikes were scary.  It took practice and doing stupid stuff like riding around my block 20 times stopping at every stop sign to practice unclipping, and going from 2 bikes to 6, but I’m going to say… mission accomplished.

I still have so much room to grow.  I need to start riding over 20 miles at a time again.  I need to become a little more fearless during descents.  I need to really nail down the position in my TT bike.  I need to get stronger on the bike so my watts are higher than my heart rate again.  I need to figure out what to do with the readings I get on my garmin from my nice, expensive vector power pedals that for the last year, I’ve looked at, and went, “ooh, neato” and summarily moved on.

However, these are all things that will come more into focus when I start specifically training, which is next week.

The Plan, Man:

June23-3

I don’t have any appropriate pictures to go here, so have one of Zliten and Donna watching TV instead.

After one more weekend of sleeping in, playing on the cruiser bikes and in the water, I plan to get myself moving in the direction of actual, intentional sessions this week.  It’s a small jump from what I’ve been doing – looking to do about 7 hours a week (BUT I’m not counting commuting/cruiser bike miles just like I don’t count walks in my training hours now).

I’m building the first month of training on these assumptions per week:

  • 2 sessions of weights per week are non-negotiable.  At least one needs to be at the gym with heavy weights.
  • 2 swims that are at least 20 mins long.  At least one must have an element of speedwork in it.
  • At least 10 miles of running per week, hopefully increasing this every week.  Once a week off the bike.
  • As much cycling as possible.
    • Alternate weeks of Tuesday pain cave/Wed recovery ride week 1, Wednesday brick ride week 2, rinse and repeat.  I’m hoping to be able to attend both after I’m more in shape, but two hard rides in a row sound bad to me right now.
    • At least 1 ride per week on the TT bike, either outside or on the trainer.
    • I’d like to have done a 30+ mile ride by the end of this block.
    • Bike commutes as often as possible with everything else going on.
  • Either a pretty significant (50%) recovery week on week 4, or a decent recovery week (60-70% of normal training) on week 3, depending on how I feel.

And, as a refresher from the nutrition section:

  • Sticking with the current calorie deficit unless it proves problematic.
  • Attempting to curb my appetite the rest of the day by fueling my workouts well.  This will also help me maximize my carb intake at the right times.
  • Watch my calorie qualities after longer or harder days.  Food splurges and alcohol splurges on different days (pizza OR beer, not pizza AND beer), not the same.

…but, like I said, a few more days of play.  Off to play bikes and hit the lake right now!

Lake Pflugerville Triathlon

The last few years, I’ve ended offseason with a race.  While I’m not *quite* there yet, this was definitely what you would call a “rust buster” as in I haven’t raced a triathlon in about 9 months, since my disastrous Kerrville Tri cramps-n-crash-n-burn.  It’s always exciting to toe the line (or the beach in this case) with more questions than answers.  How is my base fitness (aka – what’s left after slacking for 3 months)?  How is my mental game?  Am I healed or is there still residual ick in there?  Can I handle my new bike well?  Do I remember how to pee anywhere else besides a porta potty?

June22-3

Spoiler alert: I peed in the lake.

Saturday was an epic family cookout.  Normally, I’d be worried about being on my feet so much, but I am used to the 10k++ steps per day and don’t have a lot of residual fatigue, so it was fine.  I slept well this week, but I slept terribly before the triathlon.  Not for any real reason, I just kept waking up because Zliten was fidgeting (usually I sleep through any of that like a rock) and my book was interesting and I’m not used to an 8:30pm bedtime.

Race morning alarms are what they are, so at 5am, I was up and at ’em.  I had a belvita with some almond butter and grabbed some caff chews for later.  We puttered around all morning, I didn’t get a warmup run but I did get a warmup swim, and I porta pottied like a champ and peed in the lake.  I went from wheee, we’re doing a race… to WHEEEEEEEEEE! RACE!!! over the course of consuming my caff chews, so all was well with the enthusiasm.  I sent Zliten and Matt off to race, cheered them into T1, and then five thousand minutes later, I tucked into my wave and got going.

Jun22-1

I call this one Sunrise over Expensive Bicycles.

Swim:

I sized up my wave and thought… ok… I can take most of these ladies on the swim and bike at least.  I lined up close to the front and found a lane and swam.  I intentionally kept it about 3 gears below redline.  I’m not swim trained right now, and I had no idea how taxing a the full race would be on my endurance at this point in time, and the last thing I wanted to do was blow up.  I concentrated on smooth long strokes, avoiding ALL THE FUCKING PRICKLY PLANTLIFE (and failing), and staying at the decent-effort-but-not-gasping pace.

I’d say I did well.  I ended up getting out of the water 5th in my age group, and besides a slight rookie mistake of not swimming in far enough, I’m happy.  It’s an average time for me for this race, about 15 seconds off my best, and that’s all I can ask for at this moment in time.

Swim: 11:28/500m (it was long – I came out with 600 yards). 5/21 AG

T1:

I navigated the barefoot rocky run with reasonable fearlessness.  My new aero bottle FELL off my bike when I unracked, I fumbled with one of my socks for too long, and my bike was not in the best position in transition (longer run in cleats than normal), but all in all it didn’t suck too, too badly.  I’ve had way worse first transitions of the year.

T1: 2:53

Bike:

leahbike

Coming in smiling on the Death Star, so you know it can’t have gone THAT badly… thank you Pat McCord for photographing us all!

I got out and had some n00b moments with my clips (my new cleats just aren’t playing nice with my pedals, or I’m just bad at clips, or both), and then got going and ahhhhhhh.  When you don’t have to stop or dodge traffic or anything, this bike is like BUTTER.  Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass.  Since I swam well, I only got one or maybe two people in my age group here, but being in one of the last waves means (glass half empty) dodging around EVERYONE and (glass half full) getting the rush of passing so many people.

Everything went well except for a few things.  One – this girl and I were going about the same pace, and I could tell she was a newbie (a very fit newbie but a newbie).  I would try to pass her, get a little ahead, but she would stay on my wheel and not fall back.  Typically, you leapfrog with someone your same pace, they pass you, you recover a bit, pass them back, then later they pass you, etc.  It’s nice.  This was not.

Second – new bike had me all kerfuffled.  I totally forgot how to eat even though I have this sexy aero bento box full of gels.  I meant to take one around halfway and I didn’t.  I thought I drank my full bottle of Scratch because I couldn’t get a sip and I drank less than half.  No matter how I adjust, the aero position hurts my arms (all over this time, not just the delts like when I rode on the trainer) after 10 or so minutes and that was even with playing with all sorts of position changes.

Lastly, the traffic closures were a joke.  There was a good few miles in the middle where the cars were ducking into our lane and forcing the cyclist either on the very edge of a rough country road with lots of potholes and bumps or crusing slowly behind them.  It was a huge buzzkill when all I wanted to do was FLY on the Death Star.  If I was smart, I would have used that time to take a gel but… hindsight is 20/20 and it’s hard to remember to be smart when you’re angry.

I hammered the last few miles in and when I looked at my garmin for the first time, I was actually rocking some really great speed.  I stayed in aero A LOT more than I did on the other bike, and I played with all my shifters, and while my quads and my arms ached, the rest of my legs felt way fresher than normal.

Best bike split on this course ever.  This year of bikes is starting off well and going to be the best!  Fourth in my age group and I was REALLY close to catching third.

Bike: 45:25 (garmin said moving time was 44:48 for 18.8 mph) for 14 miles 4/21 AG

T2:

Everything went according to plan except the jerkhole next to me had racked his bike right on top of my shit (and he had plennnnnnty of room) and my stuff was all in disarray.  Not my best T2 ever because of that, but this is pretty decent considering what I was working with.

T2: 1:42

Run:

Here is where it shows I have not been training.  With the swim and the bike, I don’t lose fitness really quickly and can almost pick up my training right where I leave off.  With the run, if I take more than a week or two off, my running paces significantly fall off and take a while to come back.  I haven’t run much in 3 months.  I knew this, and while I was hoping for magic race day miracles, I was planning for reality.

When I got going, I saw my pace was about 30-60 sec off what I would expect if I was trained.  No big deal.  I ignored it and kept trying to reel people in and keep my head positive.  After a mile, I checked in and yep, pace still the same, effort still feels about what I’d expect racing a sprint tri in the deathly heat (feels like upper 90s at that point), so I switched over to heart rate to monitor that instead.

It was a little on the low side (171), so I worked on shoving it up to where I know I can maintain without redlining (175) and then put on my cruise control.  It was maybe one quarter of a gear harder than I was going previously.  I didn’t have much else to give.  My pain cave is shallow right now.

The run was kind of a blur.  I remember dumping all the water over my head to stay cool and catching Raul about half a mile in and chatting for a sec, and kind of zoning out in the middle watching the little number on my watch, and then switching over to total time near the end and seeing if I could will myself to catch my PR of 1:30:30.  I sped up a little, I passed a few people, and then last year’s time ticked by, and I threw my bottle at Zliten when I saw him because I was done with it and then there was the finish.

Run time: 30:32 for 3 miles (garmin showed it a little short with a 10:29 pace) 9/21 AG

Overall time: 1:32:01, for 5/21 (top quarter) in my age group.  Top 30% of all females.  Solid top half overall because dudes are stupid fast.

June22-4

All done!  Time to go drink beer!

Do I wish I could have pulled out a PR?  Always.   But I had no business expecting it and I’m not disappointed finishing with my second best time in six years completely untrained.  I love the bike PR and how I felt out there.  I’ll take the swim.  I know I have to work for the run and I haven’t been doing that.  I’ve ran 36 miles total since the marathon.  Yes.  My mental game’s on point – I kept my head on my shoulders and didn’t blow up mentally or physically.  I made mistakes in transition (or had them made for me) but I remembered how to do all the things.  All in all, I am THRILLED with the day I had.

What’s next?  One last week of doing whatever, and then we start some actual intentional sessions with some work spiced in.  Nothing drastic, but it starts looking like a training plan instead of a social calendar. My next race is on this course in August, and I’d love to annihilate all my paces here.

Footnote: there’s a reason I’ve been avoiding these hard efforts for months.  Y’all, I was SO HUNGRY. I could not stop eating for 2 days.  If I’m going to try to continue to pursue this #projectraceweight thing a little further, I need to be REALLY smart about what I eat on days when I have long or hard efforts.  

So I’m racing a triathlon in a few days…

This weekend is my first triathlon of the season and also my first race in 2.5 months.  I am now officially 3 months into the #projectspring plan, which means minimal training.  It’s a very weird feeling this year, normally this race is the end of things, one more hoorah before I take some time off.  This year, it’s as things are ramping up a little.  That means there are a lot of different expectations (or lack thereof) on an untrained body vs a body that’s super trained and straddling the line of fitness and burnout.

LakePf

Last year, this was the face of the start of #offseason.

Day before/pre-race/nutrition plan/gear:

We’ll be grilling and celebrating Father’s Day with the ‘rents on Saturday, so it’s not the normal steak-n-taters, feet up, relaxing time.  However, it’s not as if we’re walking around Disneyland all day or anything, and we have a lot less accumulated fatigue to worry about.  What worries me the most is the sleep – midnight is generally bedtime for me these days, and if that holds true, that means very little sleep the night before.  So, I need to make sure to get really good sleep the rest of the week and also try my darnest to be in bed and relaxed early on Saturday night.

Belvita breakfast cookies and chocolate almond butter is my new race day breakfast tradition, so I’ll be sticking with that.  For caffeine, I’ll probably go with purple stuff – it makes me pee a lot so it’s bad for running races but perfect for tris because the world is your bathroom if you need it to be so.  I’ll take a few chews for pre-race, because breakfast to race time will be somewhere between 3-4 hours (grumble grumble 3rd to last wave grumble).

During the race, I’ll give myself the option of caff chews or a caff or non caff gel on the bike, and stash a gel in my pocket in case I feel awful right out of T2.  I’ll do gu brew or heed on the bike in my bottle.  I’m debating on the merits of carrying a frozen bottle on the run, and whether it should have water or sports drink.  Water is better for dumping on your head.  I might need the salt, sports drink has it, but can get sticky.  The temps will determine what I do here.

This is the first race I’ll be doing with my super pro looking set up.  Team race kit, aero helmet, new TT bike… I’m excited to at look fast, no matter where the actual numbers end up!

333496_10150973399544450_1197894477_o

Not my pro kit, but this tri makes me jump for joy!

Swim:

I definitely have endurance here, but I’ve lost a lot of my speed.  I’ve swam speedwork in the pool the last few months a total amount of ZERO times.  Also, we went to go do recon at the lake last week and HOLY HYDRILLA!  The lake zombies and plant monsters are out in full effect.  I’m hoping they’ll cut a path, but it’s likely it will end up being an out and back like they do for the August race.  Those usually end up long, crowded, and kind of scary (chance of head on collision with a stray swimmer is high).

I’m going to try to go out a few notches above a paddle, but I don’t want to be shelled getting out of the water.  I don’t expect a personal worst here, but I definitely don’t think I’ll be breaking any records.

T1:

First tri of the year usually means fighting a lot of transition gravity.  Hopefully being a familiar race venue will help.  I have new gear, but that shouldn’t mean much because it’s new versions of the same stuff I had before.  Sock shoe sock shoe sunglasses helmet bike go.

Jun17-1

I can’t believe I still wore a camelback 3 years ago… *blush*

Bike:

This leg could be very interesting.  My bike fitness is the LEAST in the toilet of all the sports, and I have a shiny new TT bike.  However, I’ve definitely not been training like I normally am at this point of the year, and I don’t really know the ins and outs of riding the Death Star yet.  Everything could click and I could have an awesome PR here, or I could feel weird and awkward and my legs don’t show up and I’m rolling through this race about 16 mph.

Depending on how things feel, I’ll push the bike REAL HARD and try to hang on for the run or I’ll take this easier and hope to make up some time later with fresher legs.  Honestly, if all goes well, my race strategy will lean towards the first choice because it involves finally getting to open up on my new toy.

T2:

Same as T1.  If I can, I’ll spin a little easier before dismounting (though the last part is a hill :P), and just remember the run starts the minute I leave my bike. Shoe off, shoe on, shoe off, shoe on, helmet off, race belt on, visor on, grab bottle and RUN!

Run:

I always like to leave a window open for good things to come in, but I would be absolutely SHOCKED if I could PR this leg of this race right now.  It would be 100% mental fortitude, not due to any amount of physical conditioning I have on the run right now.  I may get some advantage from riding my new bike, but I doubt that will make THAT much of a difference.

No matter what – I’ll run as hard as I can for three miles, because that’s pretty much the only way to pace a sprint triathlon.

Jun17-2

At the end of appropriately pacing a sprint triathlon.

Overall, I’m looking at this as a test to see where I’m at right now, physically, sure, but mostly mentally.  How do I feel in the morning?  Am I excited or just want it over with?  How do I feel reaching past the point of comfortably hard?  Is it like “fuck yeah, let’s dig at that pain cave floor” or still a bag of “nope nope nope nope nope”?

If I’ve learned anything in the last few months, it’s that you can’t force enthusiasm as much as you might try.  At the finish line, whether I’m chalking up a new personal worst or busting out a crazy great race, that’s just where I am at this moment in time.  Unicorns or not, it’s totally ok.  I’m excited to toe the line to find out.

Hippo Hunting and the Death Star

My focus since I returned from vacation has been on becoming a biker chick confident and adept cyclist.

June14-1

As well as a confident and prolific picture taker…

I’ve commuted.  I’ve done errands. I’ve even ridden on busy streets SOLO when my Zliten had other obligations and while people definitely pay less attention to one cyclist than two, it was not nearly as terrifying as expected and totally doable.

I’ve ridden a few times now with 3-4 other people, though I have yet to tackle a true group ride with the cycle team (baby steps).  I’ve ridden in lots of traffic YES EVEN IN THE CLIPS, and I’ve ridden a new bike through Sunday noon downtown traffic up crazy hills somewhere I’ve never ridden before, and only had about 3-4 heartattacks doing it.

Let’s talk about that new bike, ’cause that was another one of those #projectspring goals.  We finally pulled the trigger on our new tri bikes.  Isn’t she BEAUTIFUL?

June14-2

<3

It made last weekend CRAZY hectic, and it meant I had spent approximately ONE waking hour at home and awake before 4pm on Sunday.  The good news is that we both fell in love with Cervelos at the same shop, and they had our sizes in stock, so we were able to shop and fit them on Saturday, and test ride (for about 40 minutes, not just around the lot), adjust, inspect, deck them out with accessories, and bring them home Sunday.

Halfway through yesterday’s ride, I finally learned how to shift out of big ring.  So, I’m going to need some time to get to know the new bike, which I currently have named Death Star.  TT bikes feel so, so, so much different than road bikes with aero bars.  Let me count the ways…

  • You’re missing some gearing, so going up big hills is a little harder.
  • It just wants to cut through downhills like butter.  It’s kind of scary how fast it flies.
  • You ride in a completely different position.  Riding on the hoods is actually awkward, riding in aero feels absolutely natural.  Your leg position is practically like you’re standing vs folded over like a pretzel on a road bike with clip ons.
  • After a ride, your quads feel thrashed, and your hamstrings just kinda feel… there.

So… yeah.  New bike 7 days out from my race? #doasisaynotasido  The good news is this is a race in name only, and more of an excuse to meet up with friends, show off my new kit/bike/aero helmet, and see how entirely out of shape I am.  It’s a perfect introduction of all the new stuff to my triathlon experience – at a super low stress race, where I know the course like the back of my hand.

This week’s training goals:

  • Monday: weights, outside ride on the TT bike, shorty run around the block in my shoes after I change out the laces (DONE!).
  • Tuesday: bike commute, ~45-60 easy mins on the TT bike on the trainer, goal is aero the entire time (eliminating the stops and starts of road conditions, getting a feel for staying in the position).
  • Wednesday: swim at lunch (some fast stuff with a lot of rest in the pool to see if there’s any speed I can eek out of my body this weekend), brick with the team (40 min hard ride on the TT bike, 20 min hard run).
  • Thursday: weights at lunch, and then pretty much shut it down for the week.

I may do something else if I feel great, but as it’s still offseason, my plan for Saturday says word for word:  shakeout something in the AM (20 min run or ride or both) or not.  So that is how we’ll roll into Sunday.

#projectraceweight

This week in the four week cycle is not typically a place where I make much progress, but I also didn’t help that along a lot.

June14-5

The epitome of my week: some healthy bits, some not-so-healthy bits.

Early in the week, I found myself working really hard at training, and then not being able to eat enough to even get up to -1000 under.  Then, I backed off training and ended up closer to flush than normal (-400 one day, -600 another) at the end of the week.  Then, over the weekend, I was so mother flippin’ busy I forgot to track, and it’s probably not worth it now.

Those little habits, the ones that make all the difference, slip away so quickly, even when I think I have them conquered.  So, here’s my intent for the next week.  It will probably look very similar to other weeks, but let’s state this for the record.

  • Five servings of fruits and veggies per day
  • Four bottles of water per day ON TOP of what I drink working out
  • Take my vitamins every morning
  • Takeout on Thursday evening, maybe Friday, and maybe Sunday after the race.  No other days saying “eff it, food sounds hard, let’s grab something”.
  • Tracking all the days, staying -1000 calories except MAYBE a little more  flush to my calorie burn the day before the race.

If I can hit these, hopefully I’ll start chipping away at the next 5 lbs.

Other Life Stuff

This last weekend and next week just happen to come together to be cray-cray.  All good stuff, but I don’t really have any time to relax until after I hit that finish line at the Pflug.    I think it may be time for a “recovery week” from my little bitty ramp up in training the week after the race – it may not sound like much, but I’ve been consistently hitting 6 hours a week just doing whatever.  I plan to focus real hard on important things like the waterpark, the lake, and other such serious business.  However, until then, eyes on the prize.

June14-3

Henrietta the Hippo was a featured stop on the tour…

Saturday, we were up at 8am to go hippo hunting in Hutto, that is, we rode bikes all over town, looking for the iconic hippos which are a HUGE THING there.  The rest of the day involved a quick trip to the water park (but it was too busy to be fun), bike shopping for three hours, dinner and a Tribute to John Williams concert with friends.  We left the house at 8am and got home at 11pm.  Sunday was mostly dedicated to bike shopping and test riding until the evening – where we realized we had to do all the chores and studying and stuff.  We forgot the part where you were supposed to relax.  Oops.

June14-4

Spent a lot of time looking at this view.  Not my normal side of Downtown Austin.

The first part of this week is dedicated to riding my new bike and class and research.  Thursday is packet pickup and gaming after work.  Friday is prepping for Saturday, and Saturday we’re hosting both sides of the family for a grill-a-palooza.  If we were super serious about this race we wouldn’t have done this, but it sounded like a fun way to celebrate father’s day.

My goals this week are to:

  • Do PT class and some research (Monday-Wedensday)
  • Try not to let the world drive me crazy and work me up into a tizzy about various things even though they are certainly attempting to do so…
  • Get proper sleep.  8 hours or so hours per night
  • Spend Sunday relaxing after the race

Back to the real world to do stuff!  Happy Tuesday, internet!

 

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