Adjusted Reality

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

Tag: triathlon (Page 1 of 25)

Looking up the hill…

When I first started racing, my year was pretty periodized by default.

In 2009, I ran a half marathon and then after that, shut it down for a few months. Because that’s what normal people do.

I wasn’t a complete nut yet, and I had these natural cycles before I even knew what periodization and offseason and all those other coach-y schedule-y things meant.

Yearly, I would maintain a baseline fitness level (ten years ago, that looked like 4-5 hours a week – 3x weights, 2x running, and either some arc trainer and/or DDR to round out the hours).  I would sign up for a race occasionally, train 2-3 months for it, and then go back to my base fitness level right after.  There was never any compulsion to “keep what I gained” by boosting my training beyond that 4-5 hours unless it was for a reason.

Then I started racing more.  Since I was racing more than a few times a year (with smaller races to support the bigger ones), and I feel like 2-3 months is the absolutely minimum amount of time I feel like I need to be prepared for a race, I was pretty much constantly training.  It was new and fun and exciting and it made me toy with the fact that I might actually be an athlete!  I remember at one point, I decided to take 5 weeks off because I had been on for something like 17 months.  My body pretty much collapsed that entire offseason – I couldn’t run the whole time because as soon as the heel I injured the last race of the season felt better, my back went out for the entire Christmas break.  The universe was yelling “STAAAHHHHHPPPPP!!!!”.

I’ve learned that for my mental and physical well being, I need to pretend to be a normal mortal human for extended periods of time or I break down.  The length of time I need is predicated by: a) what I have just done to my body and b) the length of time I’ve been “on” and also c) how I feel about life right then/stress levels/etc.

I also have learned that offseason racing is tricky to navigate.  When you sign up for something simply because you do it every year, or because your friends are doing it and you have major FOMO, or because you have a husband that would rather race every weekend vs train, you have to watch your expectations.  For me, FUN racing is when I PR, when I leave it all out there, when I’m a ball of sweat and snot and making the pain face at the end.  Everything else is just paying money to go for a jog with friends.

And sometimes paying money to go for a jog is ok, especially if you get to look like a rainbow threw up everywhere while doing it.

There’s a time and a place for that, for example, the Turkey Trot this year.  I know I’m not going to PR (though I’m pretty sure I’ll beat last year no matter what…), but it’s an excuse to get up, ride my bike ~20 miles and go run 5 before I gorge myself on turkey.  I absolutely and positively plunked down my 25$ registration fee solely to motivate myself to get my ass of the couch that morning.  However, I’m usually not a huge fan of jumping into a race untrained.  Results may vary, but for me, they’re usually not positive.

So, right now I’m mentally and physically stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

Crazy Athlete Me says:

  • I’m mad at my mojo for being absent and I should be making time for more than a few hours a week and maybe 2-3 of the sports instead of just one of them.
  • What I did over the summer is not worthy of an offseason.  Three sprint races, one slow century and one century that got cut short is just maintaining fitness, right?
  • I’ve not run in so long I’ve forgotten what running feels like (it’s been 2 weeks) and I’ll never be able to get back up to 13 miles in time, let alone get faster.
  • All of a sudden I’m going to gain back all the weight I’ve ever lost in my life because I’m only training a few hours a week and I’m not starving myself.

Crazy athlete me likes to go out and try to ride 100 miles on her bike, unready for such a thing, for absolutely no reason.

Coach me knows:

  • I am an athlete that needs time off right now.  Work is crazy and stressful.  We’re starting a kitchen remodel that will upheave our lives for 2+ weeks.  I am working through some rotating pain between my knee and heel which is starting to be on the mend because I’ve resisted being a dumbass and rested it.
  • I should not discount the amount of work I did over the summer on the bike and in triathlon.  Even if Ironman warped me to think so, training an average of 7-8 hours a week is not insignificant and still warrants a break after.
  • I have plenty of time to build towards a good half marathon at the end of January.  I will not lose every morsel of fitness I have earned by taking a few weeks to do whatever.
  • My body is actually responding positively in terms of weight loss over the last month or so… perhaps because I’m listening to it and giving it what it needs?  I *know* it’s not because I’m maintaining more of a deficit (probably less because I’m training less and mostly just trying to eat less crap but not less food).
  • And the biggie I say to everyone else but it’s hard to say to yourself – it is always better to show up uninjured and undertrained vs properly trained and limping.

So, here I am.  I have new running shoes I’ve had for over a week that I haven’t even worn yet.  I haven’t ridden my bike on roads since October 22nd.  I haven’t done weights in over two weeks even though they’ve been on the schedule.  I haven’t swam in almost a month and with the cold snap today… not sure it’s going to happen this week.  My mind is reeling with insecurities about my muscles and endurance shriveling up into nothingness, as well as wasting beautiful days and my gym membership funds not training like crazy this season like I typically do.

I miss dis place – literally the gym and also the figurative place of being so smashed (and accomplished) after a really long hard workout.

However, my mind is also thanking me PROFUSELY that I’m not trying to maintain any sense of a training schedule while shipping an update at work.  I have been much less of a basket case and handling things much better than normal.  I usually have some major breakdowns this time of year when I am in training mode and I’m thankful that hasn’t happened (yet).  My body is LOVING this break.  The weight is falling off (knock on wood, let’s not jinx this) and when I actually do something like the bike intervals I did this morning, I feel GREAT, not tired, not stale, but like my parts are all starting to work in harmony again.  When I DO get back to training, it will be nice to start from a rested, recovered body and see how that feels for once!

As long as my heel continues to cooperate, I have my first run back scheduled for next Monday, but we’ll see how things go from there.  It’s neat to occasionally reap some rewards when you don’t rage against the universe’s wishes and I’m trying hard to listen even if it makes me do things I don’t like from time to time.

I’m at the bottom looking up the hill right now.  Thirteen miles at a fast pace seems super far away right now.  But I’ve been down these roads before.  I know how to climb them.

October Wrap Up, November Goals

I like to do shit.

Sometimes that shit is riding my trainer outside the bike store with my teammates blaring music at all the restaurants nearby.  The obnoxious tomatoes ftw!

Goals are, like, my drugs (or anti-drug? or maybe we could with a far more appropriate analogy and say I live for them? …nah).  I love to make them, I love to plan them out, I love to conquer them, and I love to say, “what’s next?”.

I spent the first four months of the year plugging away at a single goal called Ironman.  Then, after a little bit of recovery, I took the blinders off and have been plugging away at a million smaller goals.  Century ride, check!  Getting faster at running short distances and fixing my running form?  Kinda check.  Writing a book?  Getting to the halfway point.  Four usable bedrooms, check!  Twenty million other things I typically ignore during training for a big event?  Either check, in progress, or on the plan.

While I’ll have some days where I feel a little overwhelmed, normally I’m super excited to be progressing towards things I want to do. And then, like late last week, my brain and body pretty much decided that it was time for a complete stop in the way of some MAJOR lack of mojo and heel pain that wasn’t just a twinge.

I committed to waiting until my heel is pain free for 3 days until I run on it.  Even today I’m not quite there yet (close but no cigar), but I think that means the earliest will be next Monday IF I have no twinges this weekend.  I am so frustrated that I’ll be getting a late start preparing for 3M but I’m going to trust that these things happen for a reason.

I had an unplanned day off on Monday and I wanted to do all the things and it was gorgeous outside so I should have ridden my bike everywhere.  Except, I slept until 11 (over 12 hours of sleep).  I read my book in bed and dithered around the house and finished writing a chapter in my book and couldn’t muster any sort of give-a-shit so I rode the trainer while reading more of ROAR (which I have since finished and highly recommend to anyone who is not just a tiny man).  I haven’t done a weights session since early last week.  I haven’t made it to the pool.  I might ride the trainer again sometime this week but it’s also just as likely I’ll sleep in instead.

I feel like I’m letting precious time and beautiful weather slip through my hands.  I feel like I’m in the worst shape of my life for this season (because I’m usually in the best shape right about now).  You’d think I’d feel rested after riding my bike twice in a week and getting lots of sleep but I’ve felt like a frickin’ zombie all day so of course that makes me reconsider resting to begin with and maybe I should just suck it up and muddle through…

“No,” the universe says.  “Hard. Stop.”  It’s not screaming yet, but it’s also not whispering.  And using it’s stern voice.

While I’m trying to discount what I’ve done over the summer/fall as “just having fun”, I averaged 2/3rds of my IM training volume (~30 hours per month from July through October, vs ~45 hours per month from January through April).  Thirty hours per month is actually fairly close to my average 70.3 training volume.  Whether I like to admit it or not, whether it really feels like it or not, even if it was “just” for 3 sprint triathlons and 2 century rides, I just went through a training cycle.  And I need some faffing off time.

I hear you, universe.  No need to yell.  I’ll give you a little more time.

I’ll sum my October totals here:

  • 1000m swim (1 swim)
  • 20 miles run (6 runs)
  • 318 miles biked (17 rides)
  • Weights – 7/8 planned sessions (the last one last week)

Almost 30 hours total.  Even though I feel like I haven’t done much, the numbers don’t lie that it’s 1 hour a day average.  I deserve a little break.

November goals:

  • Swim at least twice.
  • Give myself the rest of this week off and then resume strength training next week and make 8/8 sessions.
  • Allow my heel to heal and then gradually ramp up running, however long that takes (I have 12 weeks until the race, I’d rather train for 8 of them healthy than 11 of them with a hurty heel).  When I do start again, err on the side of more sessions vs big mileage.  3×3 days a week at lunch and then more miles on Saturday is better than 2 longer runs.  My body is used to the 3 mile runs.  It’s not used to much more and yes, an hour lunch run right now is going to feel like a long run until I get some more miles under me.
  • Cycling is now my support sport.  Trainer rides, commutes if I can get up early enough to get mostly home before it’s stinkin’ dark, warmup and cooldown for long runs… I expect it to be my worst mileage month since June and that’s totally fine.

Priority is: 1) healing then running 2) weights 3) cycling 4) swimming (sorry swimming, you’ve been last on the list for a while).  If I can only get to the first part of #1 and #2 in this month, I’ll be a little disappointed, but OK.

Scale/food

I have paid so much attention to this week’s food, the most related picture I have is our D&D costumes.  I mean, my name technically is FORK, but…

Here’s another place where the not-quite-end-of-year-but-close burnout hit me.  But I think it’s working out alright.  I’m actually making some real progress here and it’s encouraging.

I stopped tracking my food around October 22nd and haven’t really restarted yet.  Because of that, it’s just about impossible for me to guess what my overall stats were for October.  However, I didn’t stop weighing at least.

  • Oct 1-7: 185.1 avg
  • Oct 8-14: 186 avg
  • Oct 15-21: 185.7 avg
  • Oct 22 – 28: 184.6 avg

So, I’m looking at 185.3 as my average for the month of October, which is -2.1 lbs from my average last month.  My clothes are fitting better and I was literally walking around yesterday in my underwear asking my husband if he thought the elastic went out (and no, I’ve just lost some belly fat, since my others fit the same way).  The good news is it’s continuing to drop… right now is that lovely wonderful TOM and I’m still averaging less than I was last week.  Momentum is on my side, finally.  Just in time for the holidays.

How do I stay sane and not eff things up and gain 7 lbs like I did last year?

Simplify tracking – only the bad stuff.  I am going to have a hard time tracking calories and diet quality next month with camping and a launch and a remodel and all sorts of other shenanigans going on.  I was trying to figure out how I can still keep myself on the wagon but also not stress myself out and I think I’ve figured it out: only track my negative diet quality points/calories.

If you think about it, it’s actually perfect.  Hopefully, my laziness will take over and if I realize I have to track the fun size snickers and I don’t have to do anything if I eat the apple, I’ll go the way of less resistance.  I’m good at eating the good things.  The meals I cook are all roughly similar amounts of calories.  I’m actually pretty decent at eating the right amount if I eat mostly the good things.  So, hopefully, this will be a low stress way of making sure I stay on track.

They are holi-DAYS not holi-MONTHS.  On Halloween I had 2 ciders and ate a few fun size pieces of candy.  I still have a handful of heath bars left over which I’ll dole out to myself as treats throughout the year.  Thanksgiving is delicious, but I’m not a leftovers gal, so that one is really just about that day for me as long as I don’t bring home half a pie or anything (and if I do, it goes directly in the freezer in bite size portions).  Christmas is a little trickier because we celebrate both Eve (neighbors, ourselves) and Day (family) with food-heavy traditions, but again, it’s two DAYS.

So, in November, I’m committing to these two things:

  • Eating like a normal healthy human being on all days except for Thanksgiving. Even if it’s take out during the kitchen remodel (I’ll get healthy takeout).  Even while camping.  Even when I come up with excuses.
  • Log everything I eat that’s not on the Diet Quality positive points list (sweets, fried, refined grains, massive amounts of calorie laden sauce, super fatty meat, alcohol).

Life

I’ve been told to be myself unless I could be a unicorn, so for Halloween proper, I was BOTH!

Summary – things got done.  Not all of them.  I probably need to narrow my focus a little bit going forward or I’m in danger of getting overwhelmed of OMG ALL THE TO DOs.

  • Writing:
    • Take my old outline and make sure that it’s all absorbed in the new one. (CHECK!)
    • Write at least two chapters.  (DONE!)
    • Bonus: finish the one I started last month and got stuck on. (NOPE!)
  • Reading: Finish A Demon Haunted World (60% – I’ll keep plugging away but it’s hard to read all at once).  Read The 4 Hour Work Week (Saving for December) and You Are An Ironman. (CHECK!)  To be fair, I started and finished ROAR! by Stacy Simms, which I planned to read this month.
  • Wills:  Actually do this! (NOPE, sigh)
  • Business plan/website: NOPE! I literally have a document with eight words.  It’s becoming clear to me that I need to focus on one thing at a time, and my focus right now is the book.  This officially goes on the 2018 plan unless I get a hair up my hiney over Holiday Break.
  • Clean off all the bedroom surfaces.  I was about to make excuses and then realized how close I was so I got up and did it.  At least, on my surfaces and shared surfaces.  I will just ignore the ones on my husband’s side of the bed like I normally do. 🙂 (DONE!-ish)

In November, pretty much the primary focus will be on the kitchen remodel.

Pack up the kitchen between now and November 13.  The goal is to do one box per day.  That should give us more than enough time without getting us overwhelmed and give us the opportunity to go through what we have and get rid of some stuff instead of shoving shit in boxes willy nilly.

Get the cabinets Nov 11.  We plan to rent a trailer and then our cabinets will live in the garage until they are ready to go in the house.

Figure out the counters.  We bought slabs of granite and have since reconsidered being so cheap about it because our counter shape is pretty custom and we’ll already be saving an insane amount of money doing the rest ourselves so we’ll splurge on having someone do the counters.  We have one estimate for about 3 grand, I want to price a few others to see if that’s reasonable.

Figure out the cabinet colors.  These came unfinished, so it’s actually up to us to pick out exactly what we want.  I really liked the ones we got the estimate for, so I’ll probably try to find the slightly off white for the top, and a dark grey/almost black for the bottom (but I also want to nail down the countertop color before we buy them).

Pick out the backsplash and decide if I want to change the wall color.  I love my apple green kitchen walls but I keep thinking about possibly going red, or turquoise.  Even if we stay with the same color, I definitely want to repaint since it’s been 10 years.  Then… we’ll decide what backsplash would go with or if we even have enough place to put a backsplash where it will be worth it.

Purchase an above-the-stove microwave.  I am so ready to have a microwave that doesn’t take 20 minutes to cook something frozen, but we didn’t want to buy a new one until we remodeled.  So, so, so soon.

Look at the actual remodel process like a race.  It’s messy, it’s uncomfortable, I’m going to get cranky about stuff, but the finish line is worth it.  And, we have some pretty awesome and experienced people on our team (Zliten’s parents).

Other productive stuff:

Read books.  Finish Carl Sagan, finally.  Read 7 habits of highly effective people.

Write book.  I think I can commit to two more chapters OR one chapter and finishing the chapter I started and didn’t finish.  I think it’s probably time to start at the beginning with chapter 1, but whatever I’m motivated to write at the time I sit down will totally work.

Non-productive fun stuff:

Camping!  Heading out to the woods this weekend with some friends.  Of course, we picked a weekend in November as they’re not really warm weather people… and the highs are looking like upper 80s.  D’oh!

Comedy.  If we can make it out, we have SEVEN admit-2 comedy tickets left that expire at the end of the year.  To be fair, some of the shows we’ve seen have not allowed us to use the discount passes, but we should probably try to use some of them (and drag along some friends).

Tri Series Party.  It’s always awesome to celebrate a great season and sometimes get cool prizes!

…and that’s a wrap.  Time to go eat healthy food and be productive to start out the month on the right note!

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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