Adjusted Reality

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

Month: October 2014

Chrysalis – Just a Little Bit

Life is beyond super busy, but it’s been a while so let me drop a marker in the ground with how it has been.


Last year, this time, my run game was totally on the up and up.  I found speed and endurance and just about every run was like sunshine and puppies and rainbows.  After a legitimately shitty period of running legs during 2013 triathlons after sustaining a knee injury in the spring, it was like being a butterfly that emerged from a cocoon.  It was like, 3 weeks after tri season ended, my running attitude and aptitude somehow pulled a 180 and I was on top of the world.

This year, I’m still in that cocoon.  Mostly.  The wings might be starting to poke through but the transformation is not as dramatic as last year.

It’s a bit unfair to compare.  Last year my run was SO SHITTY during tri season that I really had nowhere to go but up. I was running so below my capacity it was sort of… how could I not run better?

Last year this time, it was so much more temperate bordering on chilly.  We’re finally having our first morning where it’s below mid-60s and humid at dawn this weekend (and actually, mid-60s and humid has been the best of it, it really feels like summer has just continued on, really).  Last year the weather was pretty much perfection from Kerrville to Space Coast.  Not so much this year.  Last week’s run ended at 86 degrees on the thermometer and feels like WTF.

Also, I think I raced Kerrville harder this year, and then went on vacation, and then spent the first week back with my mystery sickness/allergies, and then decided to wreck my bod at a crossfit class and post my slowest run of the year after.  When you have only TWO three week blocks to train, and one of them is just hampered with issues, it’s not exactly a confidence booster.  Another 180 from last year, where training just sort of cruised along.  I was kind of scared of how good I was doing last year, this year I’m scared I’m not improving at all.

However, the goal for the last three weeks was simply volume, and besides the first week, when I was sick, I nailed it.  I just expected the easy pace to drop off a little quicker like it did last year.

Week 1: 21.5 miles ran (which for how AWFUL I felt, was pretty good, though I wanted to hit 35)

Week 2: 40.5 miles ran (40 planned, check and check)

Week 3: 50 miles ran (weekly run mileage PR!)

Midweek miles have just been runs.  A few hilly, a few hot, some before work, some after, some at lunch, some with headlamps, some in full sun.  I’ve put a *little* effort into parts of a small handful of them but mostly they’ve been miles, easy pace/effort.

Week 2 and 3 had long runs (because I’m not counting 6 miles as anything but “holy crap I’m still recovering”).  My 16.5 miler (15-18 planned) was… how shall I say… a character building experience.  Everything felt *off* immediately and never got better.  I was cranky, I had technical difficulties with my music, it was HOOOOOOTTTT and I really just hated every step of it.  Not the best initial long run of a short training cycle.

However, I realized even during the crappy run that it was good mental practice.  Last year, with the weeks of sunshine and rainbows, I showed up to the race feeling off at mile 1 and it threw me HARD.  Now I know that not feeling awesome isn’t an emergency, it’s just one of the cards you draw on the day where you toe the line.  It’s just a longer day of managing that.


Last Saturday was our first 20 this year.  Suffering through that painful 16.5 brought some mental toughness confidence, but that 20 gave me the other side of the coin.  This was just a super pleasant, floaty, mostly painless, happy fun run in spite of just about everything crapping out that day.  Who gets a floaty 20 miler?  That shit is supposed to be hard, right?

My headphones broke at mile 7.  We didn’t bring enough money for gatorades and had to beg for ice/tap water at our second stop.  It reached 86 and was full sun by the end, which was actually hotter than the week before.  But somehow, this one was just a-ok super fine.  I mean, about mile 17, it got to be some effort.  Before that it was just playing around outside.  And this was exactly, on the nose, marathon pace from last year.  Just sublime.  This was the run I was waiting for, for sure.

This week is stepback week, and then I have four more weeks until the race after that.  With these short blocks, it seems that the first half is slogging through a base build, and the second part is where I find all the fun gains when I push myself a little.  Here’s hoping!

A few things I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks:

  • Doing my first 23 mile training run next weekend.  Same easy pace as the 20, but Zliten is convinced that closing that gap between training distance and race distance will help. We’ll see.  This will be 3 weeks out from the race, and if I feel like it’s doing irreparable damage I’ll cut it short.
  • Speeeeeeedwork.  A few short interval sessions to keep my legs remembering how to turn over faster than a jog, but mostly some tempo work so I remember what it’s like to string sub-10 min miles together and not die.
  • Fast finish runs/progression runs.  I tend to run this way anyway, but I’ll be pushing those last miles a little harder.
  • Marathon pace.  There will be a lot of “x miles with x at marathon pace” and hopefully once it’s cooler, marathon pace will get a lot easier.
  • Actually making a better “best guess” about my marathon pace.  Right now, I’m going to start out around 11 min/miles and cruise a little faster as I get warmed up.  We’ll see if that’s realistic closer to Nov 30th.

Honestly, right now, I’m targeting about the same finish time I was targeting last year – around 4:40.  This is a time I fully believe I could have at least came close to if I had the right day, and didn’t blow up between miles 13 and 20.

And maybe that’s what 2014 is about.  Having the right day, against whatever else life throws at me.  I’ve been able to have some good solid races this year, races where I’m executing on the day on paces that are either at or above my expectations with my training… so… I’m hoping to continue the trend November 30th.


Other stuff:

I’m trying to get in the habit of doing the DOZEN twice a week.  It’s a great set of strength sets that works everything BUT your main running muscles and leaves you fresh.  Sadly, it has also illuminated how terrible I have gotten at pushups, and I’ll be working on that.  Only being able to do 13 from my toes is a little bit embarrassing.

I’m really trying to stress the stretching, foam rolling, and recovery.  I get away with a little more during tri season since swimming and easy bikes tend to loosen me up pretty well, but only running wears me down more.  More relaxing on weekends instead of being everywhere, ice baths, and taking care of myself is on the plan.

I’m sticking with the fruits, corn, and potato for carbs type thing but I have gotten a little lax.  French fries are TECHNICALLY on the list but I probably shouldn’t get them as often as I have been.  I’ve been eating beans not instead of other carbs but with them.  I’m going to get through Halloween (being reasonable), and then redouble my effort from now until the race (with an exception for Thanksgiving, of course).

I think it may be worth tracking at least part of my food intake.  I may spend a week or two tracking everything that’s not veggies, fruit, meat, nuts, non-sugary dairy (cheese good, ice cream, bad), or running fuel.  I have no idea how many calories I’m eating right now, and don’t really want to know, but I think that having to track outside that realm means I’ll eat less of the other stuff.

Had my every-few-years blood draw and doctor confirmed I am a perfect specimen.  The only thing she said was outside OPTIMAL (but within normal) was my B12 and D3 levels, so I got me some suppliments and I haven’t really felt much change, but I am only a month out of recovering from a hard race, so this may shine a little better next year.  Also, she said eating a little MORE red meat might be helpful.  Odd when your doc tells you that, right?

I still am trying to figure out music on my runs.  I’m using my phone, which is old, and heavy, and tends to turn the volume down during and lose connection.  The benefit is I run with music a lot less and mind it less too, but I do like some tuneage to motivate for particularly long/hard sessions.  Also, I used to use a music service (zune) for 15 bucks a month that worked for both me and Zliten, and I got 10 free songs per month.  I’m not sure how I’m going to beat that. 😛


And on that note, back to busy life.

Question of the week: Any music player/service suggestions that don’t start with i-something that you love?


This is how it ends…

I spent the last post forward focused, but I would be a little remiss if I didn’t comment a little about wrapping up tri season.  I often go back to key points and re-read posts for what was in my brain at the time, so even if it’s not of interest to anyone else, here we go.



Looking back: I’m really happy with 2014 and triathlons.  It got off to a rough start with some mismanaged expectations and a bit of burnout, but my last 3 of the year have nothing but warm fuzzies attached to them.  Kerrville 70.3 is really my yardstick each year and taking 23 minutes off my time (under tougher conditions), and more importantly, achieving a lot of process goals during the race showed that I really have upped my game this year.

Going beyond: The goal is to really focus on the longer stuff.  I’ve got two marathons and THREE 70.3s planned next year, with a nice long offseason in the middle of the summer like this year.  I plan to keep up with both process goals and time goals, so even if conditions force my performance off the rails, I can continue to hold to something.




Getting access to that sweet pool and lake has helped my swim IMMENSELY. Swimming brings me 100% joy in my current situation and no frustration at the conditions.  Check with me when I’m tuning up for my early races on how I feel about an outdoor (sheltered/heated) pool, but it was all smiles in August and September.

Also, pushing the pace more often helped, especially in open water.  Obtaining the Garmin 910 that does both pool and lake swim tracking gave me metrics, and made me really aware of how I tend to space out mid-swim in open water, and slow down A LOT unless I’m super focused.

Onward + 2015:

Before December, my only goal is to make my swim miles not be a complete goose egg each month (so far so good for October).  I give up gains in swimming during marathon season and that’s fine, because I always comes back stronger.  It’s ok.  While early in the year I’m going to need to do an easy build because I’ll be out of swim shape, it comes back swiftly and I hope to graduate quickly to sets and speedwork and see if I can crack that elusive 2:00/100m in a race next year.

I do think it will be a lot of “more of the same” from my last training block.  I swam more, I swam more intensely, and unless I found myself out of a job or in a position to have more time to train overall, I discovered some pretty good gains in concentrating on:

1. Having a focus in swim sets.  Once my base is up, I should have two options in the water: a) recovery or b) hurting myself.  Sometimes I had to bail on a hard set because the week caught up with me, but the only way to swim hard in races is to swim hard in practice.

2. Making sure I stay mentally focused.  I conquered my race space outs in Kerrville, but it was by really overworking myself the first few 100 meters, and I’m not sure that’s the greatest strategy in the world.  More open water sets with race pace loops in the middle and having a mantra to come back to if I find I’m wandering (just repeating focus every stroke is simple but it helps) is key.

I’d like to try for at least 1-2 swim heavy weeks before my first triathlon next year.  I really find the breakthroughs when I can swim A LOT, but being that it’s 40 minutes out of my 6 hours and 30, and it’s generally my highest ranked sport compared to my age group, it’s really hard to devote a LOT of time to it.


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This cycle is where I started to put on my big girl cycle shorts and realized that I needed to approach my bike training differently.

1. One long ride outside every other week.  On hills.  In traffic.  In the heat.  Suffering through the first one was rough, but the second wasn’t so bad and the third was downright pleasant.  I’d love to be the kind of cyclist who rides outside all the time but let’s be real.  I don’t have a great route to commute that doesn’t involve a bunch of stop and go to get 3-4 miles to work.  It’s not useful training.  I have a decent 10 mile loop near my house, but even that involves close to 10 stoplights.  What is necessary is to get out and ride for a few hours on hills in the weather (cold/hot/whatever).

2. Endurance cycling class.  I credit so much of my 7 minute bike PR this cycle on my Tuesday dates with wattage_cottage.  6:15 on a Tuesday is not the most convenient time to make a class, but I was there most every week because it was worth it.  In a class setting, having someone tell you to do long painful intervals and having everyone around you suffering is the bomb.  Trying to put yourself through those at home on the trainer is harder.

3. Trainer is for recovery or hurting myself.  While it’s not second nature yet to go fast on the trainer, I’ve found by monitoring my cadence and HR, and with the help of videos, I can push myself into working instead of staying in the lollygagging zone.  I took at least 1 hour/week as a recovery spin, but the rest of the week was dedicated to bike work after I got a decent base.

4.  Focused on kicking my ass with hard work over mindless hours.  Every ride had a purpose.  I was a little worried going in – my long outdoor rides were 51, 39, 35, 34 and I pulled a 66 miler on the trainer.  However, I had a lot of 1-2.5 hour rides with lots of intensity, and honestly?  I’ve never felt so fresh off a bike as when I rode that 56 miles in Kerrville.  Win.

5. In the same vein, I also like the way I handled brick runs.  Base building in August – I never ran more than 1-2 miles off bikes.  In September, almost every bike had at least a baby brick run off it.  I replaced the long brick slog (easy 56 bike/easy 10+ run) with an intense brick (1.5 hour bike shred/1 hour race pace run) and did that twice.  I think it worked out better to simulate race day with easier recovery.

Onward + 2015:

Cycling will take a backseat to running for the rest of 2014 to ramp myself up to marathon shape, but I plan to cycle on the trainer or in a class at least once a week to make sure I don’t forget how.  It always takes a little ramp up after slacking on cycling for months, but I’ve got the time to get back to being a fit cyclist before any racing.

2015 will be shaped around this cycle – more of the same.  I enjoyed the cycle of weekend 1: long outdoor bike (with usually a very short run off), weekend 2: long run (with more cycling during the week for balance).  My long runs will be a little longer since I’ll be maintaining marathon form for a while, but I think the execution will be the same.

I loved cycling in G-town and it was convenient with visiting my parents, and it was generally hillier and windier than any of the courses I’m targeting next year so it’s a good workshop for me to continue using.

I’ll handle the bricks the same way.  Very few at the beginning, work in baby bricks to test the waters in the middle, and then once I’m past marathon #2 and recovered, it will be brickie brick brick all day!

I have a few new goals to push beyond this though…

1. I keep saying it, but maybe THIS will be the year I get brave enough to mount and dismount with my cycle shoes on the bike.

2. This also may be the year I decide on getting some new WHEELS.  It’s not a complete faux pas to have wheels that cost more than your bike, is it?  Also, maybe tying #1 to #2 might be a motivating factor (learn to mount and dismount like a big girl, get big girl wheels…)

3. There are so many group rides in Austin, I’d like to figure out how to work that into my life.  I’m sure it would be nothing but good for me, but it’s just so much *easier* to ride inside or solo (with Zliten) and not have to conform to set days and times.  However, it’s hard to make legit excuses when we just found one that starts from a bike shop just a few miles away weekly.  Maybe make a goal of one a month?




This was the year of making friends with the run leg of a triathlon again.  While Kerrville’s unseasonably hot conditions made me wilt a little more than expected, I was able to meet the goal of finally conquering the run leg during a half ironman in a time I wouldn’t mutter under my breath for a standalone 13 mile run.  2:30 is an easy, but respectable jog for a half marathon for me, and I beat that, even starting at noon, in the mid 80s, in full sun, after a tiny little matter of 4 hours of biking and swimming.

For my running, number one factor in improving was just simply doing more of it, and maintaining just a wee bitty little base over offseason to maintain fitness instead of starting the second half of the year from zero.  Secondary factors of awesomeness were lots of brick runs and really knowing how to work through that, and making sure to keep on with some speedwork each week to remind the legs how to turn over, even if it was just a few miles.

Honestly, I made most of my large gains during fall 2013-spring 2014, and I knew the summer would just be a matter of maintaining this, because summer running in Austin sucks.  You get better when it’s not eleventy billion degrees outside and all you want to do is run.  Running a BIT in that weather is necessary, but I also made liberal use of the treadmill when needed so I didn’t completely dread and slog through every run mile like 2013.

Where I upped my game this year, I think, is the ability to run OFF THE BIKE.  I had a 2:08 half marathon PR that I got close to but have yet to crack, but my PR off the bike was 2:42. That’s a huge difference in pace.  While 2:29 is still a good 2 mins per mile different, that’s a 2:08 in perfect temps on a flat course vs a 2:29 about 40+ degrees hotter and wayyyy hillier.

I did that, I believe, in 3 ways:

1. More volume overall.  I’m not a high volume runner in the slightest, but I tried to keep my run training around an average of 20 miles a week, higher on run focused weeks.  Huge improvement over last year.

2. Lots of little brick runs off the bike.  Really, the difference is most notable at first when you’re legs are literally changing gears, the rest of the run, you really just feel like you’re kind of having an off day at a standalone race.

3. Practicing race pace off hard cycling efforts.  Running off an easy bike?  I just feel warmed up.  Easy jog off a bike? Once the weird legs go away, it’s a nice cooldown.  It’s helpful in overall training volume, but what prepared me for racing better was smashing my legs for an hour on the bike and then trying to run 10 minute miles after.

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Onward + 2015:

I finally feel like I’m back to where I was as a runner about 5 years ago, before I started triathlon.  Now, I’m ready to move beyond.

Periods of high volume with a dash of speedwork, I fully believe, is the recipe for run improvements (with adequate rest – I can’t do that week after week year round).  I had planned on continuing with some higher volume run weeks after the 2013 marathon, but it’s really hard to fit that in while trying to even maintain a base of swimming and cycling and strength, and without a marathon goal, I’m just not motivated to run that much.  So, I think I crested 25-30 as my max weekly mileage (and 15-20 on a more average week so far this year and oddly enough), the speed gains slowed.  Shocker.

This year, I’m signed up for a marathon at the end of November AND another at the end of February.  I’ve never dedicated more than 8 weeks to marathon training, and I’ve never run more than one marathon a year.  I love the distance, I actually love the training, but I’ve always rested and did shorter stuff after.

I plan to do my normal abbreviated cycle for Space Coast in November, take a few weeks to recover and maintain a small base, and then alternate weeks of being a triathlete and being a marathoner until March, and then do an abbreviated cycle like I did for Kerrville for my 70.3 opener for the year.

First Draft of 2015 Race Plan:

Space Coast Marathon – Nov 30 (signed up)

3M Half Marathon – Jan 25 (good crack at a PR, good marathon tuneup race)

The Woodlands Marathon – Feb 28 (signed up)

Rosedale Ride (62 mile bike ride) – March 21 (nice supported long ride and a good cause)

Austin 10/20 (10 mile run) – Mar 29 (signed up)

Galveston 70.3 – April 26

Probably some shorter stuff for fun and games here, definitely Pflugerville, possibly gatorbait, who knows.  Whether I continue training with any level of seriousness or just fart around and show up to have fun will depend on my level of motivation post Galveston.

Off season

Jack’s Generic Tri – Aug 1? (same as this year, just a fun re-entry into tri world again after spending the early summer at the water park)

Kerrville 70.3 – Sept 27? (my happy race)

Austin 70.3 – Oct 24? (I’ve never done my hometown 70.3 – for shame)

Space Coast… marathon? half? (we’ll do the race almost certainly, but it will depend on how we structure the goals between this and Austin 70.3 since I can only really train train for one or the other)

Fun stuff.  I’m currently in that period of marathon training where my legs are just exhausted and I have no idea how I’m going to come out of this a better runner, but this is NOT my first rodeo and I know things will come around eventually.

Let’s keep this train-a-movin’!

This is how it begins…

One of my oft mis-quoted quotables is a version of the last few lines from T.S. Elliot’s The Hollow Men.

This is the way marathon season begins.  Not with a bang, but with a whimper.


It’s not news to me, but I always fear taking a break, even for a week, because my head does crazy things.  Not like other athletes who complain about the lack of activity, I don’t mind that, I know my body likes the rest after a hard effort.  It’s about the coming back.  I’m always afraid that somehow I’m going to return to sport and I’ll have lost the joy or taste or the aptitude I had previously for it.  Like this whole triathlete thing was a fluke.

Newton’s First Law states that “”An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”  This is so my life.  If you set me on a course, and it’s not intolerable or offensive to me, I’ll just keep doing whatever the fuck I was doing until something disrupts me.  I actually lost a TON (ok, 1/20th of a ton) of weight just relying on inertia once I found something that worked.  It wasn’t the healthiest, holistic way of losing weight and relied on counting calories and 100 calorie snack packs and fat free cheese (shudder), but it led me to where I am today, so that’s a good thing in the grand scheme.

I tend to fear rest simply because of the oomph needed to get inertia going again.  That’s why I’ll never go into off season without a goal race planned and a projected time to exit.  I fear it would be too easy to forget I love to race and remember I love wine and my couch too much.

Usually one week isn’t all that much, but I had the combined and completely irrational fear of “what if I’ve lost all my fitness” and “what if I haven’t taken enough time off to mentally be ready to handle training again” (one or the other might make sense, but not both at once!).  I’m pretty sure you don’t lose any measurable fitness in one week, and I’m pretty sure 8 weeks of training isn’t anywhere close to my burnout point, so, yeah.  Brain woogies.


I had a… let’s just say… annoying-ish Monday, and my husband was stuck late at work so I was solo and I had other stuff to do and I was tired and didn’t feel like it and cranky.  However, since this isn’t my first rodeo, I knew that was EXACTLY WHY I needed to run, however short or slow it was.  I also knew I was kinda bored of my usual route and needed to get groceries, so I drove to the grocery store, which happened to be a block from a nice two mile stretch where a lot of folks run and bike, so I set out there.

Half a mile in, I felt great.  I finished the loop and kept dancing around my car because I didn’t want to stop.  Nothing fast, just 4.5 miles easy, but I was happy.  I half hoped my husband got home and decided he wanted to go for a night run, because I was up for 5 more miles no problem.

We knocked out 4.5 more miles in the morning on Tuesday, and 3 at lunch, and my week was looking up!  I was getting the miles just as I could, and little snippets of runs instead of big ambitious miles made the recovery easier, right?

So then why, on Wednesday, did I wake up feeling like I got hit by a freight train?  I still don’t have a great answer, but I was pretty much flattened – tired, no voice, sore throat, so I worked and slept.  Zero training.  Thursday, I woke up feeling exactly the same.  Bleh.  I felt a wee bit better by the end of the day (or maybe just not any worse as I expected to come down with something), so I gingerly got on the trainer and spun for 40 mins.

I felt pretty great after, and had ZERO change in symptoms on Friday morning except the daily allergy pills I had started on Wednesday just in case seemed to have kicked in because I felt less tragic overall, and decided at that point to get on with my life.

I ran 3.5 miles after work with Zliten and our headlamps.  Mile 1 was sludgy (to be expected).  Mile 2 felt great (though I stayed at my snail pace anyway).  Around mile 3, I started feeling a bit weak and kept slowing so I jogged it in and called it.  Probably one of the worst feeling runs in a while.  I was not encouraged by this.

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling ok, and it was 65 and rainy outside, so I HAD to get out there to play in the puddles.  My run plan was only to run until I felt worse than when I started (which is pretty much never on normal runs), or til 10:30, whichever came first.  While I kept it snail’s pace again, after mile 3 or so, the normal magic happened and I found myself speeding up just a bit at the end and extending the run to 6 miles, even though it was a little past my projected quitting time.


I hit the trainer for 45 mins while the Kona Ironman Champs kicked off.  There may have also been champagne toasts and chips and dip eaten, so you can tell how SERIOUS that cycling work was, right?  It was a little less rewarding to watch Kona than last year when we rocked an 18 mile run first, but two hours of activity was just about right, I felt good that day but really tired by the end of it and slept great (and 10+ hours) that night.

Sunday, I had considered a little more activity since I felt much better, but it’s my normal rest day, so I observed it.  We did laundry, batch cooked, picked up a bit, and binge watched Family Guy in between it all because it was brainless and it was exactly the day I needed.

And now, I arrive at today.  I wouldn’t say I’m 100%, but I’m definitely in the 90s and plan to resume the run all the (easy) miles plan this week.  While I’m not happy I was knocked down a bit last week, I can’t have picked a better week for it to have happened.

Week 1 (10/6-10/12):

  • 21.5 miles/just over 4 hours running
  • 33 miles/1.5 hours of cycling (trainer)
  • 0 miles of swimming (according to plan)
  • 0 strength sessions (oops)

Week 2’s plan is a little more.  Physically I’ve got the allergy issue I’m dealing with, but mentally I feel a little more ready than last week to rock, so maybe taking things a little easier last week wasn’t so bad of an idea.

  • 38-44 miles running/7-8 hours running.  If I feel sassy, I’ll run a few miles of one of my 5 milers as a tempo, but for now, I’m all about building an easy base since during tri season, I was about at 15-25 miles and I raced a half ironman two weeks ago really hard and I’m doing more so my body may need time to continue to recover and adapt.
  • 1 trainer session.  Easy, with the goal of spinning out my legs the day after my long run.  1-2 hours as sounds good.
  • 0 swims.  I don’t want to get to January 1st this year without any pool/lake time since the race, but I’ll fit it in next week.
  • 2 arms/core sessions + stretching.  Nothing long, nothing fancy, but doing something to work these out.  20 mins for the work, 10 mins for the stretching.  I need to find an hour per week to do this.

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It’s always a weird transition, going from triathlon season to marathon season.  While it doesn’t sound that different (run more, swim and bike less), it’s a paradigm shift in my head.

See, there are tradeoffs between doing triathlons and doing marathons.  There is a simplicity to marathon training when triathlon is anything but simple.  Balancing three sports of workouts, trying to time everything right, making sure you don’t fuck up and put a hard swim set at lunch when you have a 2.5 hour smashy smashy brick 5 hours later.  When you’re running, it’s pretty easy to keep track of not doing run speedwork right after you’ve done run speedwork!

It’s a huge act of keeping the plates spinning – which I love – but can get to be tiresome.  Also, keeping all that gear straight!  There’s practice goggles and race goggles and caps and pool earplugs and lake earplugs and wetsuits and tri suits and don’t even get me started on bikes and nutrition and hydration and thinking about whether it’s a brick or not.  And, let’s also not mention packing up to train or race elsewhere.  It feels like you’re packing for a month long holiday, not a day or weekend trip!

Last week’s (sorta failed, but still applicable) plan was: Run.  How simple is that? Generally easy pace but not stressing out about it.  Whenever I have time.  This week, we’ll get to a bit more structure with an actual long run goal range of 15-18 miles, MAYBE a gentle entry into speedwork – just a few miles faster than the easy, chatty, non-thinky zone to wake the legs up, and some arms/core work to stave off the fall putty upper body marathon problems.  But, in general, the plan this month is to run.  Occasionally fast, long every week or two, but just do the work – 35-50 miles per week.

The flip side is I really didn’t feel up to running at some points last week, but the idea of activity wasn’t offensive.  During tri season, I could easily switch that around to be a trainer, spin class, lake swim, pool swim, maybe even a rare weekday ride outside, or even a brick with a short run, but with only running, there is run or do not run.  This week, I think I’ll be less cranky since we get some fall weather, because when it’s nice pretty much all I want to do is run outside above all else, so there is that.

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So, while I’d rather have had a BANG and have completed my 35 miles as planned last week, I’ll take a whimper over nothing any day.  However, my confidence could use a good week this week since we only have SEVEN (yipes) weeks until the marathon.  I feel WAYYY behind even though I know that’s incredibly silly because I started from just about zero with 8 weeks to rocking the shit out of a half ironman, and this seven week block is starting from FAR from zero, but that’s the reality of my not-so-rational brain right now and I just need a good week of running to make those gremlins go away.

Question of the day: How sick do you have to be to rest on a planned workout/training day?

Kerrville 70.3 – Conquered

So y’all knew how well training was going and how some major diet and training focus changes made me pretty confident going in.

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Then, all the taper madness starts.  My foot got broken and miraculously healed itself.  Same with my shin.  Also, I almost was coming down with something like every other day. I held my breath in meetings where people were sick.  I forced myself to sleep so much that I couldn’t sleep some nights because I was full on sleep and also not exhausted from training so I freaked out about that.  I love some parts of taper, but man, I can become such a basket case!

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All seemed to go as planned though.  The drive, the packet pickup, eating all the things (chicken, taters, salad), driving the bike course, the traipsing through the grocery store trying to figure out what we’d be in the mood for after the race, the eating more of all the things (sunbutter, more salad, tons of fruit, potato chips, cheese, smoked sausage), and then drifting off to bed.

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I kind of slept fitfully, but the bed was comfy, and I was going over my race plan, and then zzzz….

….and then I hear “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY ROOM YOU MOTHERFUCKERS” and it sounded like my husband was running to our hotel room door.  To which I blearily said “uurph…yeah? YEAH!”  Funny story.  Our room had actually been occupied by people who had packed all their stuff and took it with them, and when they got back at midnight and found their room rekeyed, they had the hotel desk person let them in. Due to a clerical error, they thought it was empty.

Apparently they were of some sort of religious following that they unplugged all the electronics (I had to plug in both the tv and alarm clock and thought that was weird).  Also, apparently it was the first time that they had heard the word FUCK.  Heh.  While it was totally innocent, it definitely left us both a) completely awake with an alarm in 4 hours and b) shaky with adrenaline.

Let’s just say 4am did not see us bright eyed and bushy tailed, but wake up we did.  I had a full scoop of purple stuff to myself (40 mg caffeine), one kind bar, and a coconut water.  Coconut water kinda broke the “nothing new on race day” rule, but I’ve had it after workouts and I couldn’t stomach the second kind bar, and that was additional electrolytes and calories.  It was a good choice.  Coconut water is my friend.  That will happen every race.

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This is our fourth year at Kerrville and we refine the process each time.  Two years ago, we discovered parking at T2 on the street for ease of loading up the gear at the end.  This year, we decided next time we would drop one of us off at the shuttle area with all our stuff instead of lugging 2 heavy bags each half a mile.

These things become rote after a while.  Set up the stuff.  Potty.  Talk to people.  Pour the bottles.  Walk around more.  Have to potty again but the line is cuh-ray-zee, so I just found a tree and sat and “reflected on life” for a bit.  Tug at the wetsuit for many minutes to make sure it’s in the right place.  Stretch.  Watch the pros.  Walk around more.  Sit down.  Stand up.  Cheer for people.  Send my husband off.  Stick the earplugs in.  Focus.  Go.


It was a time trial start, and you cross the mat, tip toe down a really steep slippy ramp (they forbade anyone to run down it, and you really couldn’t), and then you dive in and start swimming.

I started swimming, and kept running into super slow people and passing them.  I felt awful a few minutes in.  I looked at my garmin and it said 1:40 something per mile which is not even a pace I understand, so I chilled the heck out and recovered a bit.  I mean – not even on short sprints across the pool.  Adrenaline + purple stuff + goals = swimming rocket fuel.

Going out hard made it so I breathed every other stroke instead of every 3 like normal.  I’ve never been so out of breath during a swim.  At first I freaked out a little bit.  It’s a long day and I felt utterly SHELLED after like 300m.  However, the great thing about a long day is you have time to fix that kind of thing, so I just focused on chilling the hell out and being long and strong.

Things settled.  I kept focused, I kept pushing hard but not too hard, and felt like a rockstar in the water.  I found the point of being in the zone, but not dazing and daydreaming.  I passed the halfway point at 19:44 and may have let off the gas a little bit on the second half, or the current may have been a bit against me, but I kept peeking at the pace and it kept fluctuating between 1:51 and 1:55 which is like… not something I can usually do.

At the end, I burned a match or two to try and get in under 40 mins, and allllmost made it. My garmin recorded this swim long at 1.25 miles, so I think I actually dipped under 2:00/100m, which has been a huge goal of mine. Best swim pace at any triathlon yet, and I did it at my longest.  I definitely can see some pacing improvements in the future, but I am very happy with this.  I can swim hard.  I own that possibility in my bag of tricks.  That was the goal.

Swim time: 40:27 (2:06/100m). 6/13 AG

Do I wish I could have found 28 seconds on the swim?  Sure.  But I’m really happy with how I attacked this with focus.  I figured out a lot of swim things right at the end of this training block, so I think next year is all about the sub-2 here.


Holy hell, burning matches right at the end of a swim makes for a bit of a rough T1.  I got out and stumbled over to the wetsuit strippers and they took some time getting my suit over my garmin but quickly I was good to go.  I tried to jog up that steep hill but it was more of a wog.  I got to my bike and kind of stumbled around a bit, but eventually glasses, sock, shoe, sock, shoe, helmet, and clomp clomp clomp happened.  It was super muddy so I took it slowly.

T1 time: 4:23.  10/13 AG.

I botched this, but I think I traded a minute here for a minute on the swim, so I don’t think I lost THAT much overall time.  Next time, I just have to try and stay focused a little better knowing that I can recover on the bike.

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Got out, got going, and settled in. I was a little wasted from the swim, but I knew the majority of the first 10 miles was downhill, and I was more than recovered by then. At 30 mins it was time to eat but I still felt VERY buzzy from the purple stuff, so I changed my nutrition plan and did my pineapple non-caff gel and worked my way through gatorade #1 to be ready to empty at the bottle grab.

This bike ride is honestly boring to talk about, but in such such such a good way. I kept positive, did the work, and kept focused. I never sat behind someone just because, I passed passed passed even if I had to work a bit. I spent so much more time in aero than normal. I kept a nice cadence and never felt bad.

I did fail a bit at my nutrition plan.  I should really think about this a little more.  1:15 ticked by on the only real long hill of the course, and then there’s a bunch of turns to get to loop 2, so I didn’t take my second gel until about 1:30 (caff salted watermelon… yum).  I did stick with taking in a gatorade bottle per aide station, though on #3, I was going a little too fast and almost spun the volunteer around (I apologized behind me profusely) and splashed gatorade all over my glasses.  Also, at some point, a bunch of biting ants found their way to my arm.  Owwww.

I got in one more gel (non-caff, apple cinnamon), but at that point I felt really full up, so I decided to hold off on the 4th gel until really late in the bike or early in the run (SPOILER: didn’t at all), but I kept with the gatorade because I knew I needed the electrolytes, and gosh, it was ALREADY starting to get hot.  I knew that was trouble brewing.  However, the awesome part is that most half races I start feeling bleh around mile 40 (and sometimes even before), but this time I my legs didn’t start barking at me until, like 3 miles before the end. Totally fine.

The course was kind of a blur, to be honest.  I really felt strong and confident the whole time, never hit a low, and it just… happened.  In a great way.  Felt topped off on calories but not too full. I did feel like I had to pee the entire time, but it was not my day to become a big girl triathlete and pee right off the bike, not for lack of trying. Oh well.

Bike Time: 3:15:30 (10/12 AG). 17.2 MPH

Um, yeah.  I’ll take this.  Earlier this year I was frustrated with my bike progress so I have been working it a lot this cycle, but I have been stressing volume and intensity, and not long rides, so I was worried. This paid off with a 7 min PR and feeling the best I ever have off the bike. So happy!


Since I couldn’t pee on the bike, I decided I was going to sit down and see what happened on the grass.  I saw Zliten in T2 and said hi and talked and told him I was going to try and pee.  Heh.  I dumped out my shoes and sat down and put them on and nothing was happening, so I just got on with the getting out to run.

T2 Time: 2:38 (7/12)

This was wayyyy quicker than last year and I even sat down.  Yay!

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It. Was. Hot. And sunny. And NO wind.  Not an optimal day.  Zliten had beat me out of T2, but stopped at the porta potty for a sec, so we ended up starting lap 1 at the same time.  That was actually awesome. He kept telling me to go if I wanted, but we were running about a 10-ish min/mile pace which was fine with me, and we were chatting, and it was a nice start to the run.

Then, we hit the hill around mile 1.5 and, oh my, there was no use running that. That sapped about 5-10 seconds per mile off my pace each time, but I don’t think I had enough matches to conquer that. The heat was sucking my will to live and I was working on survival.  However, I found a slightly higher gear when I was running than Zliten had, so I pulled away around mile 2.

I was not happy with the heat, and it took me the first lap to be able to stomach a gel, but on the second lap, ate my frustrations with a salted watermelon one. That helped. I got a weird side stitch and ditched my handheld bottle around mile 5.5.  I never gave up, but I did walk in measured doeses.

The heat was overwhelming, and when I hit hills, I needed a break. When I ran, I was able to keep a good 10 min mile pace, but I couldn’t maintain it. That. Heat. Also, no ice at aide stations. S’ up with that? I did make sure to grab about 1-2 cups and get them either in or on me of water and at least 1 gatorade (in me, not on me) each time I passed a station (5 times per lap of 3.2 miles).  This made for some soggy feet but kept my core temp in check.

I just kept chipping chipping, chipping. I saw Zliten getting behind as I started lap 3 and he was still on lap 2, and I straight stopped and gave him a 5 second hug.  Apparently it made him feel a lot better.  Yay!  Gel at 9 – rootbeer – non caff, and I think it made me able to keep living. I walked a little through aide stations but I really pushed as much as I could on the last lap since I was butting up against my B run time goal 2:30 and A overall race goal.  I couldn’t quite do the math, but I knew it was close on both accounts.

Pretty sure I rolled into the finish looking like a drooly, sunburnt, limpy puppy, but I got a nice annoucement because I was wearing the race kit of one of the sponsors of the race (Couer) and finally it was all done.

Run Time: 2:29:38 (9/12) 11:25 min/mile

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While I didn’t imagine it would be this much of a fight just to get in under 2:30, this was probably the second hottest half marathon I’ve ever run and the hottest took me over 3 hours.  I never stopped fighting.  Every time I had those kind of defeatist, givey uppy thoughts, I banished them.

I don’t regret walking when I did.  I really think I roll better with the run walk when times get tough.  I honestly doubt there was a lot of my run sections that were below 10-something pace.  I don’t think I could have done that trying to run 100%.

Total time: 6:32:36 (9/12)

Yes, I missed my A goal by 2.5 minutes.  However, I really did not anticipate the heat topping out in the mid-80s (and probably feels like a little hotter) and I am really quite happy with what I did with the day.  Are there about 3 minutes I could have pulled out of the day?  Probably.  I didn’t fall down at the finish.  I didn’t go directly to the med tent.  However, this is a 23 minute PR from last year, and it was 10-15 degrees hotter and full sun.

I did hit top half total of my gender – 50/104.  Soon, I’ll work on cracking top half of my age group, but for now – that’s a victory.

I really want to find a long course where the run plays to my strengths – temperate and flat.  I have two in mind next year.  However, I’m over the moon with this result.  30 seconds within my A goal on the swim and bike.  3.5 min and 7 min PRs respectively.  And while slower than I’d like, finally a RESPECTABLE half marathon time that I’m not ashamed of.  And a 13 minute PR there too.  Getting better.

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Apres Race:

I collected my water bottle and finisher shirt and immediately headed back out on the course.  The last time Zliten had passed me on the course he asked me to run him in.  I headed out a bit to a tree in the shade and cheered people on.  After a bit, I saw him and jogged with him a bit to the finish, but I was very happy to send him in and just walk around the barricade.

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Unlike normal, I didn’t have an appetite. Not in a feel sick way, but, like, I really fueled well.  I did have a beer and a half, but didn’t eat chips or tacos or bars or anything like normal.  Weird.

After chatting with people we knew about the finish, and walking around a bit, and doing the normal celebratory after race things, we packed up and went to the hotel.


Beer and chips and queso and watermelon and mac and cheese and delivery pizza and all the things that go with after race binging happened (trying to eat back 5000 calories is really hard), and then I found myself asleep for 10 hours solid, which is SO not normal for me post race.  I usually sleep fitfully for a few hours because of soreness and caffeine, but this was BLISSFUL.

I was kind of afraid of how good I felt – after a big long A race, it’s really a downer if you feel totally ok, because that means you left a lot in the tank, but it’s manifested itself in different ways.  Nothing’s super sore, but I got a little winded walking up a flight of stairs.  I’m not falling asleep on the couch, but I did turn the water back on in the shower after I grabbed a towel and soaked it.  I tried to sup paddle board, and fell off twice.

So, I’m taking the rest of the week.  I might run, if I feel like it.  I might just sit with a glass of wine all week.  I do know that two days of crap food was quite enough, and the gross bloated feeling has shoved me back to eating clean-ish again real quick.  So much inflamation.  I’d cry at the scale if I didn’t know better.

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Final word on apparel: I have never been so comfortable in a kit as I have in my Coeur top and visor.  The top never rode up like EVERY other top has.  And, they made me look goooood in race pictures (even with a bunch of tri junk in my trunk).  I have decided that at the beginning of next season, I’m ordering a kit to spend Tri Season 2015 in.

For now, it is time to recover, and then rebuild.  I have a marathon to smash at the end of November, and I’m so excited to dedicate the next two months to run love.  After a glass or 6 more of vino this week.

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