Adjusted Reality

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

Month: October 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Saving myself from myself

It’s Friday night at 10:50pm.  Typically, at this point, I’m tucked into bed dreaming away about Saturday’s adventures.

Indirectly representative of my evening instead…

Right now, I’m on the couch, and I was trying to read, and failing because my mind wouldn’t quiet, and drinking some wine.  I had planned to be doing the former, but sometimes you have to save yourself from yourself.

See, I had planned on doing about a 90 minute run tomorrow.  Here’s all the reasons:

  • It’s going to be effing gorgeous tomorrow.  Chilly, crisp, and perfect running weather.  I was going to be able to break out the tights and maybe a long sleeve running shirt for the first time in months.
  • I’m going to a wedding tomorrow night.  It’s much easier to justify enjoying some good food and drink after expending some calories.
  • My half is in about 3 months.  I’d like to get my running ramped up a little bit before I start full on training.

However, my body and the universe has other plans.  I’ve been nursing a cranky knee, which has subsided just in time to give way to a cranky heel.  I don’t want to say the PF word, and I’m hoping it’s just that the sandals I live in all summer just need to be replaced or at least varied, but I’m trying to listen to the universe talk instead of waiting for it to shout (and be sidelined for weeks).

I even had an incredibly encouraging run on Wednesday, where the pace for the last mile had an 8 in front.  But, to be honest, I pushed through a little heel discomfort to do it.  And then it didn’t feel great after.

As an athlete that is self coached, I have to sometimes disengage and talk to myself in two personas.

Me: My heel hurts two days after running.

Coach: Then REST it.

Me: But I need to run.

Coach: Why do you need to run?

Me: Because I feel SO BEHIND and I’m worried I’m not going to train enough for this half coming up that I want to PR.

Coach: Didn’t you say this was your little offseason?

Me: Well, yeah, but a short run shouldn’t make a difference.

Coach: So, you’re going to jeopardize your ability to train well over the winter because you feel like you need to build your base during your offseason while you’re hurt?

Me: ….

And just like that, coach (and the wine) wins.  If I had an athlete that had a race three months out and had the same issue, NO EFFING WAY would I say, “well, suck it up, run on that shit, and hope for the best”.  It’s so different when it’s yourself because there are all these mental games of why it’s not so bad and why it feels like the cop out not to train.  We are strong.  We are impervious to bad things.  We persevere (even when persevering is not the sane thing to do).

After being at this stuff for long enough, it becomes the new normal.  Running when your tired.  Biking when your quads are sore.  Swimming when you want to do anything but get in that cold pool.  Pushing through discomfort and pain.  And then, when you make the choice to avoid pain, it’s a lingering question of, “did I make the right decision?”.  It’s what we do.

The epitome of a smart triathlete knows when to say when.  When to tell the lazy thoughts to go the eff away and get ‘er done.  When to succumb to them because they are actually encroaching on burnout.  When to push through aching muscles to simulate race conditions and encourage breakthroughs.  When to hole up on the couch with wine instead (or better yet, ditch the workout to stretch, foam roll, eat healthy food, and get amazing sleep).  The most enlightened among us know the difference or have really good advice from a coach to help discern when we should suck it up, buttercup, or actually effing lay off our crazies and rest.

I’m trying to get there.  I’m definitely not there because I had a little heel discomfort on Tuesday, and went ahead and ran hard at our brick on Wednesday, rolling the dice it was just a niggle.  But I’m trying.

#mfw I want to run and coach (me) tells me not to run because it’s a stupid idea.

Here are the things I try to ask myself to keep myself in check:

What am I feeling?  Is it pain?  Is it soreness?  Is it residual stress from work?  Is it pure laziness?  Is it fear?  What is currently bothering me, because normally training is fun and feels good.  What about this doesn’t feel good?

What do I have to gain from this training session? Is it just “filler”, like an easy run or trainer, like base building?  Is it a key session that’s actually really important to my training like a long run/bike or a speed session?  Have I missed a lot of sessions lately?  Is it offseason? Is it peak?  Is it race week?

Can I reschedule?  If it’s a morning run and I’m super tired, can I just run at lunch instead?  Can I give myself an unscheduled day off and trade it with another off day I don’t need?  Is it a scheduled workout with my team?  Is it a Saturday morning long workout I can’t do any other day of the week?

What do I have to risk by starting?  If I just feel a little bleh, can I just give it a try and bail if I feel bad?  Is it potentially an injury I can train through and make worse later?  Will I risk getting sick or being knocked out of training by pushing through?  Is it something that if I start, I’ll be unable or unlikely to stop even if it’s not good for me to continue?

As much as sport is a labor of love, we run into periods where don’t feel motivated for various reasons.  Maybe we didn’t sleep well and we snooze the alarm instead of hit the pool.  Maybe work has been stressful and the last thing we want to do is put on our kit and ride with the team.  Maybe our legs are sore from a week of training and the last thing we want to do is go crush a track workout.  It. happens. to. everyone.  No matter what social media says, everyone has that day where all they want to do is be a normal human and eff all this training noise.

However, by really concentrating on the HONEST answers to the questions above, you can help coach yourself.

Sometimes I’ll find I’m pushing off a session that intimidates me.  In that case, I’ll suck it up and commit.

Sometimes I’ll find I’m feeling life stress.  That’s a toss up, because stress is stress is stress.  If I’m not feeling completely burnt, I’ll start a workout with the out of bailing.  Sometimes instead I’ll reschedule or bag it if it’s especially bad and/or it’s not a critical session and/or I’m feeling particularly stabby.

Sometimes I’m feeling sore.  Pushing through soreness has lead to some big breakthroughs for me.  Sometimes it’s a great (albeit miserable) race simulation.  Sometimes it’s unnecessary torture.  In that case, it really depends on what the workout means to me and how likely I am to reschedule.

Sometimes I’m feeling something I can’t determine is a niggle or the beginnings of an injury (like this week).  Wednesday, I pushed through because it was a fairly key workout and might have been just a twinge.  I’m still dealing with it two days later.  In that case, nothing is worth a flare up that could sideline me for 2-6 weeks.

Don’t want to eff up this day in January….

At this point, you have to make the plan going forward.  For me, here’s what I’ll do (and I may be posting this so I actually commit…)

  • I will wear supportive shoes for the next week.  No sandals, no cute shoes, I’ll wear one of my three pairs of running shoes at all times.
  • I will not run until my heel is completely pain free for at least three days prior.
  • I will swim, bike, and do weights that don’t aggravate my heel to stay active.
  • I will ice, roll my foot, and stretch at least every other day.
  • I will not be a basket case about it (or at least attempt to not be…).

I’ve been through this one before.  It’s much less frustrating than my back being out, since you can’t do jack or pucky with a hurt back.  I just have to lay off the running for a little bit (and also replace my shoes).  Frustrating, when the weather is perfect for it, but I will live to pound the pavement another day.

Sub-2 plan is not subverted.  Just on hold…

Livestrong Swim.. err Ride

The big biking goal for the year was Hotter’n Hell 100.  Done and dusted.

Been there, done that, spent the night, got the sunburn.

Then, we saw a really great deal (something like 65% off) on another century later in the year on a week that we were available, so I figured it would be motivation to keep riding my bike longer in the beautiful fall weather. However, we’ve alternated between hot and rainy and unseasonably chilly in the mornings, so this mythical unicorn weather has mostly eluded us.  However, our 80 mile ride two weeks ago was pretty amazing, and there’s NO WAY I would have done that unless I was training for something.  So, no matter what, I’m glad we had this on the calendar.

I also thought it would be an interesting experience to fund raise, but apparently when you just ask twice on social media, that doesn’t exactly cut it and we raised approximately 10$ collectively (or my husband raised 10, I raised 0, ahem…).  I suck.  Cancer is not going to get cured because of me.  Sorry.

The day before the race was largely uneventful – we hit packet pickup, had a nice swim at the just slightly below 2:00/100m my offseason pace seems to be settling at (which is just fine), and had lunch with a friend and ate all the things we normally eat and got to bed at a decent hour.

My view for about 2 hours Sunday AM.

We got out of bed around 5:40am, drank some tea (earl grey, hot), ate half a sunbutter+jelly sandwich, and drove downtown.  We half thought about riding there but thought that tacking an extra 20+ miles on a century would have been ridiculous, so we skipped it.  The plan was to park at Pure Austin, but they have new signs up saying “2 Hour Parking”… so we joined our teammates at the BSS store and pulled in just in time to see everyone roll out to avoid the impending rain.  Which was now raining on us.  Oops.

We became drowned rats on the way there, and spent the next hour and a half huddled for warmth under the sheltered area at the Palmer Events Center as they continuously delayed (with good reason) the race 30 minutes, then an hour, then an extra 15 for an 8:45am start.  While it was the right call, it did not make me happy.  First, I doubted they were going to extend the cutoffs, and we were already going to have to watch our aid station times to make sure we were well within them.  Second, standing (especially in cleats) makes my body hate me.

Hi, I am drowned rat!  Nice to meet you!

Finally, the rain started to let up, and we got staged and crossed the line right around 9am.  We started back with the rest of our team and the 65 milers.  I hadn’t 100% yet given up on the 100 miles, but, as I told Zliten as we rolled out, I had was about 80% there and we’d see how things went.

Then we got to doing some cycling, finally.  It was super fun to ride with the team for a while, and apparently we got props from people calling us super safe to ride with (we were screaming and pointing at holes every 5 seconds on South first because it’s habit to do so).  However, my legs just did not want to warm up quickly and they got a little ahead on some of the hills.  We passed them at the aid station but they caught back up and we rode together again for a bit.

Around mile 15 Zliten’s wheel just started clicking.  Click click… click click click…. click.  It was a little… concerning… so we stopped on the side of the road to check it out.  Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary so we click clicked to the next aid station to try to find a bike tech.  We did NOT find one there, but we did find an old buddy of ours and we chatted a bit while we snacked.

Best aid station of the day at approximately 30 miles.  Sadly/luckily, no actual shots were available for consumption. 🙂

Click click click sort of wore on us after 20 more miles.  My back and legs were unreasonably sore for the distance I had ridden. I typically feel this way closer to 80-90 these days (I blame standing in cleats for 2 hours).  The wind was WICKED.  I had no info about if they modified the course closures and the last thing I wanted to do was have to SAG it out, so when the sign came up at around 38 miles to go right for 100, I took a left towards the 65 mile route with no regrets.  I felt crappy and my mood wasn’t great either.

We found out later that they turned everyone back for a maximum distance of 77, so I’m torn between feeling bad that I didn’t at least try, and feeling fine with my decision because I couldn’t have done a full century anyway.  Definitely, mostly the latter.

After making peace with our decision we stopped at the next aid station.  They had bike techs!  Zliten got his steed looked at (yep, spoke out of place, just a little, fixed it right up) and I found some delicious foods and laid in the grass, enjoying the warm sun and a little break.  The break was exactly what I needed, I felt much better and instead of letting my husband pull most of the time, we took turns again.

All of a sudden, we were back in town and in traffic.  Bleh.  I’m sure starting and ending downtown is great for many reasons, but I did not love having to stop at almost every light on a very busy street for about 5-10 miles on the way back up South First.  I would have much rather had the route be more of the beautiful country roads we were on before!  Also, can I complain about the myraid of left turns in this route (on streets that were not blocked off)?  I’m not sure why we didn’t just ride it backwards so we went clockwise and they were rights instead.  Two years ago, I would have been terrified!  Now, it was just… annoying.

Poor dirty Evilbike.  She had a bath the day before and everything! (and obvs, a bath Sunday afternoon as well, approximately an hour after this picture… :P)

We crossed the arch, happy to be done but also feeling a little underwhelmed with our day as we had expected to ride 100 miles and just be exhauuuuuusted.  A beer or two with teammates and friends definitely perked us right up.  They had amazing looking food (both a taco bar and burgers!!), but we had a jalapeno and chorizo pizza at home beckoning to us, so we saved ourselves for it (and it was so freaking worth it!).

The positives of the day, because I feel like I complained a lot above:

  • I actually super love the shirt in terms of fit/design/comfort.
  • Riding 65 miles (plus a mile to and from the car) is a backup plan nowadays and while there were low points, I finished definitely feeling like I had more in me by the end if there was more road to ride (and if there wasn’t pizza and beer waiting for me).
  • It was fun to ride with Team BSS!
  • There aren’t too many 100 mile rides in town.  It was super convenient not to have to travel!
  • We kept up a 15.2 mph average (it was better around mile 55, but the stop and go the last section really tanked it).  We rode for about 4 and a quarter hours, and total time elapsed was 5:15.  Besides the aid station where Zliten had his bike looked at, we did a pretty good job at getting in and out and on with our ride.

The verdict?  I wouldn’t go out of my way to do this race every year, but if a bunch of teammates signed up and it didn’t cost too much and didn’t have alternate plans that weekend and maybe someone could have a chat with the weather for a low around 60, high no higher than 80, and a mix of clouds and sun but no rain?  In.

October Goals and Goals and Goals

Hello world!  How are you?  I am fine.

My many moods this month – happy, frustrated, and unicorn.

Busy as hell, but hanging in there… how is it already past the midpoint of October???

Let’s do one of these update thingees because it feels like I need a little more accountability than just checking in once a month.  So, let’s kick the tires and start the fires!

Training

What? You don’t wear bright red lipstick when you run?

I can sum it up with this: lotsa bikes, back into weights, zero pool time, and running is happening but I’m building slower than I’d like.  My knee was hanging onto some sort of a super mean grudge for a few weeks after the race, but it’s feeling pretty good now (and now my heel has been cranky this week… sigh… always something!).  I was able to do some running, and while I’m not back to that nice 9-min mile pace, it’s still in the 10-min mile with good form range so I’ll call it a win.

I’m willing to sacrifice whatever voodoo I need to do to the diety of knees and running to get everything ship shape by early to mid November, when I plan to start the half marathon training plan for REALS.  However, until then, the goal is to:

  • ride bikes a lot and ride 100 miles for Livestrong this weekend with all the BSS team peeps
  • do weights 2x week
  • ignore swimming as much as I feel like
  • ramp up my run miles a liiiiittle bit so I can start my long runs in November closer to double digits than a handful of times around the track.

So far, so good.  Things get a little more real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot next month, but um… while I have big goals it’s just a half, so while it’s a lot of uncomfortable work, it’s not a big time commitment.

Totals so far this month:

  • 225 bike miles (if I literally don’t ride my bike again until November, which is absolutely not the plan, this will be 325 after the 100 this weekend – big cycle month for me!)
  • 15 run miles (which, unless I don’t run again this month, which is also not the plan, I will have my highest run month since April, sad as that is)
  • 0 swims.  I’m hoping to break that record this week, though.
  • On track with weights so far – 2x week for the first three weeks.

Total training so far: about 22 hours at this very moment right here.  On track to be WAYYY over 1 hour per day average, so it’s been a pretty awesome month for me!

Food

After a long and hectic day, mother effing Jason’s Deli to the rescue for mass doses of veggies, fruit, and whole grains.

October is the first month I really have positive things to say about this arena.

While my progress is still slow AF, I will definitely be posting a loss of a few lbs for October (unless I fall face first into a vat of halloween candy, which I am attempting to avoid).

I have been doing better at tracking right away.  I haven’t been paying as close attention to my deficits as I could/should, but I have been doing a decent job at things working out on the average.

I have done a better job at not eating like a complete asshole on weekends.  Spending a little $$ at the grocery store on easy, premade healthy foods I actually want to eat helps here a lot.  My weekends are not completely stellar, but they’re not the junk food orgy they used to be.

I started taking Turmeric capsules, which really really helped flush out some of the inflammation I’ve been carrying.  My weight dropped a few lbs within a week and on a day to day basis my stomach feels flatter.  However, I’m not sure it did anything for my husband so ymmv.

Booze consumption feels like it’s back down to normal levels.  Even with life being stressful right now.  So, I’ll call this a win and not nitpick at it.  Some people like to splurge and relax with a Starbucks milkshake coffee, some people like cake, I like whiskey.  All these things are fine in moderation.

Averages for the month so far (through Oct 17)

  • Calories: 1912
  • Deficit: 720 judged by Garmin (my Fitbit stopped working mid-month)
  • Weight: 185.5
  • Fat: 63
  • Carbs: 179
  • Protein: 103
  • Fiber: 26
  • Diet Quality: 18.6

I’m going to say everything is in fairly good order there.  I’d like that diet quality back over 20, and I just need to focus on these things:

  • Nuts as a snack.  I’m decent on most workdays but at home on weekends?  Forget it.  I reach for something else.
    • To fix it: getting a bag of almonds to keep at home and putting them directly on the counter.
  • Making sure I eat my fruit daily.  Some days I’m good, some days I skip it as a snack.
    • To fix it: weekdays: setting myself an Outlook reminder to eat my fruit; weekends: something similar, maybe low tech, like putting a post it up on the fridge and marking it off.
  • I’ve been letting sweets creep in a little more than I have been over the summer.  A bite of cake here, a little ice cream there, a little bit of chocolate from a candy dish there, but it all adds up.
    • To fix it: Cut this shit out unless I REALLY want it and it’s not just idle snacking.  This should be weekly-ish, not daily.

Can I improve the average up to 20 in the next 11 days?  I think it’s a challenge!  Hopefully, a challenge that will help me make more scale progress.  I’m thrilled with 2 lbs lost, even thought it’s slow AF, it’s going in the right way, noticeably, so I’ll keep at it.  About 4 lbs to go until I am back at the weight I raced Austin 70.3 last year, and then I’ll set more goals from there.

Life Stuff

We’re not gonna pay… we’re not gonna pay… for PRESS PASS RENT TICKETS!!! (thanks Yelp!)

I’ll be honest, I’m a little burnt out from GOALS and GOALS and GOALS everywhere, but hey, I want to get stuff done, it’s the price to be paid.  I know I have a rough November to get through with a product launch and then a kitchen remodel, but it will all be worth it and December is a lot of time to relax and enjoy life.

But, it’s still October.  Let’s focus on the present.

  • Writing: One chapter down, one to go.  I still need to revise the outline, and haven’t touched the chapter I got stuck on.
  • Reading: Carl Sagan is a prolific wordsmith.  I got 50% through the book and had to put it down for a while.  I am about 50% through the triathlete book and it’s pretty decent.  Apparently I’ve been told the 4 hour work week will drive me nuts, so maybe I’ll save that one for December when I’m off work. 🙂
  • Wills: Eh… not yet.
  • Clean off bedroom surfaces: I’ve started!  It’s in progress.
  • Website/Business plan: well, I started a document.  It literally has three lines in it, but it’s created.  I think I need to focus on the book first while I’m motivated to do that, and if I find myself at my desk procrastinating the last few chapters, I’ll work on this to get something productive done.

So, I’ve got essentially one week and two more weekends to make progress.  Time to regroup and focus my efforts.

  • Writing: take some time tomorrow (because all I have to do is packet pickup, no major workout) and start with the outline and then see how much progress I can make on the next chapter.
  • Reading: keep at it! Finish the triathlete book, finish Carl Sagan, and scope out two more November books (since I’m saving the 4 hour work week)
  • Clean off the surfaces: I’m going to try and take 10 minutes every night before bed the rest of this month and see if I can knock it out, rather than trying to do it all at once.

Wills… well, I’m obviously procrastinating this one.  I’ll give this one about a 50/50 shot at being on my To Do list next month, if I’m being honest.

I’m going to add “start packing up the kitchen” to this list as something to do in the next 30 days.  We start remodeling in a month.  Instead of scrambling to do this the weekend before, we can do it more slowly over a month.  I’ll let you know how this new *not procrastinating* thing goes for me! 🙂

We have done things that are not just werkwerkwerkwerk too.

We celebrated our anniversary at Trulucks.  Because we are old (and more importantly, we rode 80 miles that day), we were back home before sunset though!

We saw Rent with the nifty press passes from Yelp.  It’s one of my favorites, and I’m so stoked I got to go!  All the songs have been in my head this week…

Kona party!  Every year that we’re in town, we spend the day watching the Ironman World Championships and last Saturday was no exception.  I expected them to kind of be boring and it was so not the case!  I also now want a pouch in my tri kit to store my random crap, but it probably wouldn’t work out that well for me because I am not 2% body fat like Patrick Lange.

We actually got out to ride on dirt this month!  And it was less scary than the last time!  I’m hoping we can make it our sometimes-Sunday thing and conquer the super easy trails in Walnut Creek Park.

It’s been a super hectic, but super fun first half of October.  I’m hoping to buckle down a little bit on the To Dos even with a lot of work stuff coming up, but I also have a lot of fun stuff planned, so if I can survive, it should all work out just fine!

What cool plans do you have for Halloween/October/Fall/etc?  I love to hear about fun stuff!

 

A Day on Two Wheels

I finally dragged my eyes open at around 8am, which was unfortunate, as we had envisioned getting on the road closer to 7 or 7:30.  I rolled over and texted my Mom, “Woke up late, story of my life, will be there closer to noon-ish.”

One of a kind and always late…

Most triathletes, cyclists, and all around sporty-spice people are early risers.  I have friends who often end their runs before the sun comes up.  I am in bed until the sun comes up unless it’s an absolute necessity.  I’ve gotten to points where I have regularly been able to wake up in the 7am hour, but as soon as I take a break my normal body rhythm goes directly back to waking up as close to 9-10am as I allow it.

My husband and I both plodded out of bed to do our respective pre-bike things.  This morning, since I was groggy, I pretty much walked around in a fog forgetting how to be a human, and he did just about everything – filling our bottles, finding the helmets, and pumping up the tires.  We trade off being the one who can actually function before noon and today was not my day.

Finally, we had all our ducks in a row and coasted out the driveway a few minutes before 9am.  The air still had a little refreshment in the wind gusts, in the shade at least, but I could tell that would be short lived.  Our neighborhood was still pretty sleepy itself, with just a few people setting out to take their dogs for a morning stroll, and traffic seemed to be following suit.  It’s a refreshing change from 9am on a weekday, when everyone out and about is cranky because they’re probably late to work, these people are most likely out to start a day off of shopping, or brunch, or something somewhat enjoyable.

We were heading north that day for two reasons.  First, our plan included an 80 mile ride, and my parents’ house is exactly 38.5 miles from ours.  Second, Austin City Limits music festival was downtown (about 10 miles the opposite way), and with the thousands of natives and visitors partying it up down there… you either go embrace it or stay the hell away.  Since we weren’t doing the former, we wanted to avoid it like the plague.

To go north from our neighborhood, there are two decent options – either up Metric, which has hills but they aren’t steep, or up Steck-o-slavakia (as the Strava segment calls it), and you get the climbing done with straight away and all at once about a mile and a half into your ride.  Metric is the most direct route, but Steck leads to Rudy’s breakfast tacos, so of course, that won.  We huffed our way up and meandered through streets and parking lots until we turned into our favorite bike breakfast place.

Here’s the thing.  I eat pretty healthy most of the time.  However, I’ve made the agreement with myself that anything I eat during a bike ride doesn’t count in the grand scheme of things.  The bonus of this?  I can now eat almost anything on the bike.  Real food is so much tastier than dumb old gu gels, and I knew the time for those would come later, so I enjoyed the heck out of the peppery bar-b-que sauce, salty beef, and soft warm flour tortilla.  I enjoyed it quickly, because, as we slept in, we were behind schedule.

Because Jollyville Road is essentially the northern bicycle promenade area, we saw at least three other group rides coming or going.  Even if we were riding solo ourselves today, it was awesome to be part of the haphazard mid-morning cyclist’s parade.

Eventually we turned onto Parmer Road, which ended the point of the route in which we needed to pay attention to directions.  Get to Parmer, go straight for 30 miles, that was it.  Easy on the brain, except when you turn into it and WHOOF the wind hits you.  “Nothing as bad as Ironman day,” I thought, and we started our trek north.

Sometimes cycling is filled with amazing sights and sounds and fresh country air.  Sometimes you pick the most convenient route, and the sights are cars, roads, and more cars, the sounds are horns and road noise, and the smells are dead armadillos and skunks.  Either way, the sun was shining, we were outside, and riding bikes, so life wasn’t so bad.  We ate a gel, we stopped at Sonic for a Powerade bottle fill, and while the traffic thinned out, the weather took a turn for the steamy, and the constant construction started.

Poor Zliten and his unlucky tires lately!

I know that the crews were probably much more pressured to make progress on the driveable parts of the road, but the bike lanes were a mess for miles.  Often, they had deep grooves, were blocked off, had loose gravel spread over them, or had tons of debris.  Even with the obstacles, we were making good time until two miles from our turn, Zliten told me to stop and we examined his mostly-flat tire.  The construction debris had claimed a victim, and whatever it was put a decent size hole in his tire as well as flattening his tube.

You know what makes the best tire patch? An empty GU wrapper.  And I had one, sticky and ready to go.  We patched up his tire, well, he did as I watched and gave moral support, changed the tube, and we were off.

As we pulled into my parents’ driveway, the clouds really started to roll in.  It was right about noon (without the flat, we would have been a little earlier, which may have been the first time in my life), and my bottles were empty, so it was nice to get some water, snack on some fruit, soak up a little air conditioning, and chat with the family for a bit.  All too soon, it was time to head out, back on our steeds, and get to the second half of the ride.

Thankfully, the clouds continued to layer themselves on top of each other, and most importantly, the sun.  We made a quick stop at the Sun City gas station, for a really expensive-but-totally-worth-it Gatorade to fill our bottles, and we looked at each other.

“Ok, let’s go home!”  I exclaimed, as if home was not 40 miles and a few cities away.  The great thing about an out-and-back route is you already know what you’re in for.  The wind, thankfully, was mild but mostly at our back.  The construction wasn’t as bad on the other side of the road (bad, but not that bad).  The clouds held their cottony-soft selves together, for the most part, and kept the sun from frying us too much, and the hills that were killer two months ago just didn’t seem that bad.

Once we returned to civilization, we stopped at McDonalds for more fuel – I got a cheeseburger and split a medium fry with Zliten, who got some nuggets.  It was not the best burger I’d ever had in my life, but two packets of salt went on the fries and my not-a-happy-meal-because-the-toy-sucked did it’s trick.

Some people may wonder how we spend hours and hours on bikes.  I like to say it’s quality time, but honestly, before the last month, it was quality time but also a lot of shouting at each other because it’s hard to hear in wind and traffic.   I was extremely happy that my husband is impatient with gifts and we’ve had our anniversary present, always on walkie talkies that attach to our helmets.  At first, I thought it was kind of silly, but now I don’t know how I got by without them.  Having reasonable-decibel level communications makes bike rides with my husband about 80% more happy.

Proof!

As we turned off Parmer and back into town, I found myself almost sad that our ride was coming to an end.  Two years ago, I can’t imagine anything but being overjoyed that I could stop riding on the road because it was terrifying.  A year ago, 80 miles was well beyond my comfort zone.  I rode 74 at a charity ride, which was the longest I’d been on a bike at that point, and I was pretty shell shocked after.  Today, this ride was a long training ride for sure, but totally within my capabilities.  Putting together 20 more miles, or another hour and change (our average pace ended at 15.7 mph), did not seem beyond our capacities.

About 4 miles from home, we heard shouting out of a white Jeep.  “Uh oh, cyclist haters…” I thought, until I recognized them yelling our names.  It was two of our teammates!  I think I realized in time to wave, but I was so focused on getting home.  As I did mental calculations, I realized the small shortcut we took earlier was going to short us on miles.  I’m not a complete stickler for even numbers, especially on the bike, but the longest training runs/rides?  I like seeing the number!  So, we meandered around the streets surrounding our house and finally pulled into the driveway, both of our garmins reading eighty point something.

There’s an order of things after a bike ride.  Usually, it’s worthwhile to go directly to the shower.  You’re sweaty, smelly, and gross.  It’s worth the five minutes to get clean.  Then, liquid.  Both hydrating (water) and dehydrating (beer).  Then, food.  Even though we had reservations at Trulucks for the second part of our anniversary day in two hours, the half turkey sandwich in the fridge didn’t stand a chance.   Then, the couch and some TV.  And more water.  And beer.

I was dressed up for all of two hours before climbing into my PJs.

Fifteen minutes before our reservations, I pried myself off the couch and made myself look presentable, and we had a super relaxing, super nice crab (and butter) feast.  We considered lingering at the bar after, but our drinks at home are just as good and cheaper, so we were home before dark.  Such is the wild life of a triathlete.

A map and a plan for the next 15 months…

Let’s talk about the last mile of Kerrville again since I’ve uncovered some new facts.  If I would have been able to hang onto 3rd place that last mile, not only would I have placed in my age group, but because there were more than 25 finishers in my age group (29, actually), I would be going to Nationals in Cleveland in August.  OMG.

I’m smiling because I didn’t know yet…

While I keep harping on the run being my weak point, and obviously, if I could have run about 45 sec/mile faster overall that would have done it, there’s other things that happened imperfectly that could have tipped the scales in my favor.  If I wouldn’t have had to wait at the exit wall of the swim.  If I was faster at transitions and did the things the people who win do like clip your bike shoes to the bike ahead of time and do flying mounts and dismounts.  If I would have pushed harder on the downhills on the bike and been paying attention to my average power being a little lame even if the speed was good.  There are a lot of ways to make up 1 minute 47 seconds and not all of them are running related.

All in all, I’m about 15% bummed but 85% stoked.  I’ve never been this close before which means I’m getting better.  Also, this year, post Ironman, I trained pretty much with the whatever-I-feel-like plan.  I mean, to get better at sprint triathlons, you should ride your bike (road, not TT) everywhere at a random pace, lift weights, ignore swimming, and run about 3-5 miles a week, right?  That’s the path to success… said no coach.  Yet, I almost pulled it off.  What could I actually do when I, like, actually *tried* to train like a shorter course triathlete?  I’m excited to find out.

But first, something completely different.

This race again!

My next A race is 3M Half Marathon.  Honestly, right now, I’m less than excited for it because running right now is not my favorite, but I know that will change once the temps cool down and I get some miles under me and my knee cooperates.

I have found some success at running less but faster to actually knock out a pretty decent 5k off the bike, so I’m going to continue that methodology into the next season.  Here’s the thing.  I can totally run 13 miles.  The muscle memory is there.  Right now, it would be a miserable endeavor, but I think I could probably jog it in about 2h30 or less if the weather didn’t suck.  However, that’s not what I’m looking to accomplish.

I am rolling the big scary goal of sub-2 around in my head again.  I really went for it one year (2010) and my runs were looking awesome and on pace until I caught a chest cold on race week and was happy to be able to even race that day and jogged it in at 2:19.  Since then, I’ve never done a full training build for a half marathon, they’ve been races I jumped into for funsies, to hang with friends, as training runs for something longer, or to take a crack at my PR but not specifically trained for them.  I’ve hit 2:08 twice, and if I put my mind to it, the 2:10-12 range is not too challenging for me to hit without specifically training for it.

This year, I’m clearing the runway and going for it once again.  I’m about 30 lbs heavier than I was back then, but I’ve also got a lot of endurance and muscle and experience and maybe that will tip the scales the right way.

Now, the plan is, how do I get from about 2:10 to 1:59:59?

A) I need to continue to teach my body good running form.  That means no marathon shuffle.  I’ve found I can maintain proper form and also go as easy as about 10:30/mile.  I’ll have one of those runs per week that’s as relaxed as possible but still with good body position (and also drills during it).  These can be hilly or flat, but the goal is still the same (run easy with good form).

B) I need to remind myself how to run fast and strong.  I will have a diet of intervals, hill repeats, and tempo runs.  I’ll alternate through these and do one per week.

C) I need to improve my run endurance.  I will alternate through one of these per week – long run (shorter + faster), long run (longer + slower), long bike (40-60 miles, to maintain endurance and minimize pounding).  When the run miles are low, I will supplement with some cycling as well so my Saturday workouts probably won’t be less than about 2-3 hours.

So, that’s my 3 runs.  Here’s how I’ll supplement them with cross training:

Weights.  I would love to say that I’d be lifting heavy here but I don’t think I have the time to make the transition without affecting my running.  So, probably continue with bands and DDR for plyometrics.  I may try to split this up more than I do now and do 15 mins x 4 mornings so it’s less of a session and more of a habit, but it also might not get done that way instead of taking 30 mins over two lunch breaks *shrug*.

Bikes.  I will not be putting Death Star and Evilbike away this year, though I’ll be riding them a *little* less than last year.  I plan to keep up with at least one work commute per week, and I would like to have one shorter speed session, but we’ll see if this plays nice with running.

Swim.  My body thanks me if I can make it to the pool once a week or at least every other week.  Even if I’m not really trying to train swimming right now, it loosens me up and my body complains if I spend too long out of the water.

In practice, what does that look like?  Early November might be:

  • Monday: 4 miles of hill repeats at lunch, PM weights at the gym
  • Tuesday: bike commute
  • Wednesday: 40 min AM bike speed trainer session, easy hour lunch run
  • Thursday: weights (bands at work)
  • Friday: AM swim
  • Saturday: 10k run on flat roads, goal is sub-10 min/mile pace, warmup on the bike for 15 mins, easy ride after to round out the time.
  • Sunday : off

This is a 7.5-8 hour week.  Totally doable.  Even when the runs get longer, this should never top out beyond 9-10 hours, which is my normal volume right now.  I think it will work out well.

Double the distance, double the crazy eyes?

Looking out a little further into 2018, I plan to do an ill-advised 12 hour bike race with my teammates that I know I won’t be trained for on the 3rd, and then take February and probably the first part of March to do whatever I feel like (though I do want to take this cycle to go lift heavy and I’ll need to do SOME efforts to burn off birthday cake).

Then, I’d like to take a crack at a bunch of sprint triathlon podiums and Nationals qualification.  It’s my last year in the 35-39 age group, and those 40 year olds are serious competition!  While I’m not going to get too detailed this far ahead, here are some rough thoughts:

  • I’d like to do a bunch of races (yeah, I know, who am I, the girl who’d rather train than race) so if one sucks, it doesn’t matter.  Probably once every 2-3 weeks for a few months.  There’s a bunch of early season triathlons within a 3-4 hour drive and that means we get to use turtle home more.  Win win!
    • The one I’m most excited for is Play Tri – it’s SO flat!
  • I am actually going to swim!  While I probably won’t do long sets, I want to get my form back (and more importantly my time back) to where it was last year.  This means sets and drills in the pool.  Maybe even consider a month of masters’ swim (but its so eaaaaaaarly) to get my butt kicked.
  • Training with power on the bike.  I held 20 mph on the bike and did really well in my age group and my power was a measly 150 watts.  I know I can push harder than that for 40 minutes, but I know from experience pushing harder than that takes practice.  I’ll need to actually spend some time on the trainer or reasonably closed courses out of traffic and work on some TT intervals with actual power goals for workouts.  And, while this is a simple one, it’s taken me over a year to do it – I need to add the AVG POWER field to my race day garmin fields so I can see it during the race and not be surprised by it.  Durrr.
  • Hopefully I’ll have some nice run fitness at this point that will be balanced between speed and endurance.  During this season, I’ll cut the endurance part and go back to less miles and moar faster like I did this year.
  • Probably back to lighter weights at this point.  Or at least maintaining what I’m at without being super sore for workouts.
  • If I’m looking at a few minutes being the difference between achieving a goal or not, I need to do all those things that the really good triathletes do:
    • Invest in a swim skin.  Of the 40 of so of these triathlon thingees (not to mention splash and dashes) I’ve done, I think maybe 5 of them have been wetsuit legal.  I will get much more wear out of one of these then almost anything else I could buy to improve my swimming.
    • Actually practice doing the things the faster triathletes do in transition.
      • Work on my barefoot running speed.  Like, actually go run on the sidewalk/in the yard.
      • Practice transitions with my bike shoes clipped in already.  This is going to involve me doing some dumb looking shit in my front yard and riding around my block a bunch of times trying to get my feet in tri shoes without getting hit by/hitting a car.  Not to mention the hilarious attempts at flying mounts and dismounts.  I should probably film this…
      • Find a pair of shoes I can run at least 3 miles in without socks.  I actually think my Sauconys might fit the bill but they’re getting old so I will need to replace them.  Maybe also try some racing flats?
  • And, as much as I get so cranky about it and it’s the worst (I’d rather suffer through an 8 mile treadmill tempo run, 1000 meter swim test in rough open water wearing my wetsuit for the first time in 6 months, and cycle class with 20 minute intervals and then heavy lifting all in the same day), each lb I take off in a proper and healthy way gives me about 2 sec/mile of free speed.  So, if I could manage to take down 10 lbs, I could get one minute off my 5k without training.  I need to remember this when I think about saying “fuck it, let’s eat a giant plate of french fries”.  More french fries = less Nationals.

As for the schedule, it’s so far out, but for funsies, let’s do the first week in March:

  • Monday: AM swim (100 warmup, 500 drills, 5×100 fast on 2:00, 100 cooldown), lunch weights
  • Tuesday: bike commute – AM faster (at least 180 power average on the power cal), PM recovery
  • Wednesday: AM swim (300 warmup, 200 fast/200 steady, 150 fast/150 steady, 100 fast/100 steady, 50 fast/50 steady, 25 fast/25 steady,  100 cooldown), PM team brick (average power on the speed loop – 175+, pace on the 2 mile run sub 9:30)
  • Thursday: lunch weights
  • Friday: AM/lunch run (4 miles steady)
  • Saturday: Ride to and from BSS social ride, 3 mile brick run off the bike at home (sub-10 min/miles).
  • Sunday: off

This is only about 8.5 hours so there’s room to grow some of the workouts even if I want to keep to 10 hours a week or less (which wouldn’t be a problem to go over every once in a while).

Always great to race with friends and teammates!  I’m already looking forward to tri season next year.

My last race of the early 2018 season will probably be Lake PFlugerville Tri, and I’ll take my usual 6 weeks off between that and Jack’s Generic.  However, this could change a little if I do qualify for Nationals (Aug 11) – but those are scheduling chickens I will count and shuffle around when they hatch.

The next build will probably be to Ironman Cozumel 70.3.  If for some reason that falls through, there are about a million other 70.3s in the area around that time (and I might consider doing 2 of them if I can space them enough apart – it would be AWESOME to have two cracks at the distance on the same build).

As a self-check on recovery, I’ve given myself some breaks (6 weeks in Feb/March, 6 weeks in June/July), and I don’t expect I’ll roll directly into marathon training (no interest, at least right now) in October like I have previously, so I expect I’ll have a lighter load (or at least less serious one) the last month or two of 2018.

It’s weird to consider that you have the next 15 months of your life mapped out, but I tend to do better with a map and a plan than just sailing around aimlessly.  I’m excited to get started!

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