Adjusted Reality

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

Tag: Food Page 2 of 27

Eight is almost enough (to taper)

8 weeks down, 4 to go.  We’ve almost arrived at the start of taper (SATURDAY is the last long brick of the year), and about another week after that until it REALLY feels like taper.

My life feels like one big training montage right now.  My insta feed reflects this.

I always have to remind myself that volume reduction always takes the first week to kick in, because 25% less doesn’t really feel like a *break* yet, especially if I slam into the end of the block feeling very burnt out.  Which I sort of am and sort of aren’t.

This time, it’s feeling a little weird.  The max I’ve been able to show up to is about 8.5 hours of training per week, and it’s a combination of SO MUCH and really not as much as expected.  Right now, with life and work and such the way it is, this is about what I’m willing to dedicate to sport.  I consider this about the minimum I need to succeed at 70.3 training, and to be honest, I have sessions falling off every week that I’m not 100% thrilled about, but the proof is in my performances and that is definitely working out.  So, maybe missing my 1 hour easy ride or 20 minute easy swim occasionally isn’t as much of a disaster as I think it is.

The good news is the important stuff I’ve been showing up to has been coming along phenomenally.  It’s as if my body remembers this distance (and maybe is thankful it’s not being put through double for a full Ironman), and is like,” oh, ok, this is what we’re doing now, got it”.  And, I think it’s only being so responsive since I took it really, really easy in terms of training hours for a good few seasons (and, probably banking on a few seasons before that with LOTS AND LOTS of training, because I usually see that pay off down the line, even if not always immediately).

Last week was one of those where I showed up and showed up hard for the key training, but let some other stuff fall away.

Personal trainer cat says “one more rep”.  Or “give me fish”.  They sound the same in meow-ese.

Monday: weights + 1 hour easy bike <- planning this after work was not smart.  I had to set my alarm for 5:30am for the run the next day and getting home at 7:30pm still needing dinner… NOPE.

Tuesday: 12 mile run, 10:30-11 min/mile pace.  Nailed it.  Probably because I came home, ate dinner, and went DIRECTLY to sleep the night before.

Wednesday: off.  Didn’t feel like it with the crazy day at work but no workouts were had.  Took the opportunity to get some errands done after work because I cannot yet afford a personal assistant.

Thursday: long swim, bike/run brick. <- I knew with the day I had at work, I was going to be lucky to get anything in after I arrived, so I set the alarm again for 5:30am and did a 2000m swim, 30 min bike and a 2 mile run.  It was a really wacky distance Indoor Tri style but I got it done and it felt GREAT, actually!

Friday: weights + swim <- the swim was planned to be at lunch, but then I had a request for an interview at 1pm, which with other meetings and media duties left ZERO time to actually take a lunch hour, and I ended up leaving late around 7pm anyway, with a plan for a 5:30am alarm and some errands to do… another day of NOPE!

Saturday: 56 mile bike + 2 mile run.  Third pre-dawn alarm for the week, and got this done just barely in time to clean up super quickly, run some more errands (I was on meat duty for the party!), and show up about an hour late (sorry I TRIED) for my friend’s baby shower/party thingee. 

The workout in and of itself was LOVELY though.  I tested out my new Roka kit that I plan to wear at the race and it held up amazingly well.    Three hours on the bike felt like playtime at the 18 mph/150W I was trying for – while I fell a little short (17.9/146W, 170 normalized though, so yay!), I did have to come to 3 stops per 3.5 mile loop and avoid three speedbumps 16 times, so I will say good enough.  The run was hot, but my legs felt pretty darn good.  Though I didn’t have *too* many more miles at the 9:30/mile pace I was cranking through, I think the slower pace I plan to run on race day will feel great.

Sunday: off.  I had hoped to maybe get the swim or bike (or both) made up from earlier in the week, but I was just so effing FLATTENED from the week, I didn’t leave the couch (I got approximately 2000 steps for the day).  I just ate all the leftovers and watched TV.

Monday: 13.1 miles 10:30-11 min/mile pace.  While this is technically week 9, it was on Labor Day so it felt like the weekend.  I set my alarm for 5:30am, but snoozed it for TWO HOURS.  Thankfully, the weather decided to be a homie and it was cloudy and not completely terrible when we got out at 8:30am. 

The Garmin story looks like this went perfectly.  What it didn’t say is that around mile 7.5 my legs started to cramp and I realized that forgetting my salt pills and only stopping once for water was not a good idea (when I was 2.5 miles away from home).  I powered through to mile 10, but the last 3.1 was in less than 1-mile chunks, having to either circle back to the house for water, stop to stretch leg cramps, or just pant for 30 seconds under the shade of a tree to catch my breath.  The good news is it’s fixable (remember the pills, hydration at the race every 1km), so I’ll just chalk it up to a lesson learned and move on.

Thursday’s workout was swim, bike, run, and then go boss people around and then live stream for 3 hours.

The rest of this week has a few key sessions:

  • Tuesday: weights (DONE – though I did knock it down to bodyweights because I ran a freaking half marathon the day before) + 2k swim after work
  • Wednesday: short double brick (20 min bike/2 mile run) AM, lunch swim.  I learned from last week and I actually blocked off my lunch hour tomorrow so I can get this done. EDIT: it’s Wednesday night and I’m still writing this post and I’m excited to say IT ALL GOT DONE!
  • Thursday: off.  Completely guilt free day off since I did all the shit I was supposed to! Woot!
  • Friday: 1 hour ride AM, weights lunch.  I’ve preemptively blocked off my lunch this day as well so I can get to the gym.
  • Saturday: 56 mile bike/10k run.  Last long brick.  Last long stupid early wakeup (probably… depending on the rain… then it will be a stupid long painful trainer BUT AT LEAST I CAN WAKEUP WHENEVER).
  • Sunday: off.

And then, taper begins.  I have plenty of thoughts on that but I’ll save them for next week.

Running 12 miles means you get tacos twice.  That’s the rules.

Everything else right now is just kind of sort of a footnote in priority, but for posterity…

I’ve found I’m able to commit to tracking my food during the weekdays but haven’t been able to be arsed during the weekends.  I’ll take what I can get right now. 

I seem to follow about the same pattern – great nutrition during the week, and then Saturday is a free-for-all.  I’m going to let that go for another week or two but I’ll need to shut that down in taper when I’m not working out as much.

My weight is slooooowly creeping down on Trendweight.  I’m ok with this.  I would like to AVERAGE 170 by the end of the year, and I’m 2.7 lbs away from that as of this moment.  It looks like it’s doable by the end of October, which, coincidentally, is the end of my race season.  Hopefully, that can keep me on the straight and narrow both during two tapers and then to maintenance mode after, as I will be jettisoned directly into holiday seasons without a huge activity cushion.  Scary!

I was whining this weekend that none of my clothes fit me (in the opposite way than normal…).  So, I went shopping on my lunch break today and apparently I wear junior size 11s and missus size 8s.  Apparently, at Kohls, there are junior booty shorts and women’s… are pretty much down to my knees.  So I bought the booty shorts because life is too short to wear long shorts when you have nice muscles from training. 😉

More good news!  While I <3 me some snap kitchen, I have been doing it on and off for 6 months.  They change their menu around a little, but I’ve been eating a lot of the same stuff for 6 months every week or two weeks.  It was nice to find some alternative meals at Costco called Perfect Fits.  So far, they’re really tasty!  I had a Southwest Chicken meal yesterday and it was REALLY good.  Like, better than I expected.  The chicken pasta today was pretty good as well (with some added spinach… and salt…).

In not so good (possibly TMI) news, two weeks ago I developed a rash on my stomach and back that didn’t go away for a week, so I went to the doctor.  She prescribed me Methylpredinsolone (steroids, but apparently the super weak kind) and after I got over the fact that I had to take medication (like, a real prescription drug, not tumeric or rub some coconut oil on it or something), I actually was fascinated to document my experience.  When I searched for information on it, I didn’t find much about what to expect/do to make it better, just what to avoid.  So my take on it:

  • It did not make me gain weight.  I actually lost a little during the course of the 6 days of pills without really trying.
  • Taking the first two right away after a long run before eating made my head super foggy all day, to the point where I actually had to tell my boss I was on medication so he wouldn’t think I was taking (illegal) drugs at work.  I’m still not sure if I was truly out of it or just super paranoid, but I muddled through.
  • I’d definitely say that I see what people mean about recreational steroid use.  While it was probably super mild and I am just really in tune with this stuff, my body definitely felt a little more… resilient than normal when I was taking a decent amount of it (the dose tapered off as the week went on).
  • I couldn’t care as much about things.  To be honest, that was a great thing because last week was freaky stressful, but I definitely got to the point where I normally would feel like HULK ANGER… RISING… and it just… wouldn’t be there.  I need to find a way to channel that a little more normally.
  • My mind wasn’t always on the same page (note the missed training), but often my body was, like, at attention and just ready to DO THE THING.  Again, I can see the recreational appeal to feeling UBER recovered.

The good news is the rash is pretty much gone at this point, and I’ll continue to take the Benadryl and Claritin once a day until it’s all the way gone and I’m sure it won’t come back.  I’m also attempting to shower a few times a day and try not to get super sweaty and sit in those clothes (it’s hard when you’re a hippie for life), but the weather isn’t making it too easy.

But fall is coming.  Soon.  Let’s all hang in there!

Week 5, 6, and 7 – Woahhhh, halfway there…

Woaaaaah, livin’ on a prayer… take my hand and we’ll make it I swearrrrr…

Trying out all the Roka things.  Do these goggles make my eyes look fat?  And of course a little Wattage Cottage in there because, well, duh.

Yes, I’m going a little nuts.  We’ve just passed the halfway mark in the training plan.  In seven weeks I’ve taken myself from a very sprint focused triathlete to getting some endurance legs without losing much speed.  We’re not there yet, but I feel like if the race was tomorrow I would SURVIVE it.  Barely.  Thankfully, I’ve got two more “blocks” left before the first race and I think I’ve allotted just about the perfect amount of time to build for this race.  Much longer and I’d get burned out and bored.  Less, and I’d be “cramming” endurance.  I’ve done a successful 8 week build to a 70.3 but it is definitely a quick ramp up and a lot of tired and sore and I’ve done 16 weeks successfully but it was after a long offseason.

Week 5 was not supposed to be *quite* as taper-y as it ended up being, but I’m actually glad it went down the way it did.  I only got in a short swim and bike (Tuesday and Wednesday) before heading to Cleveland, but considering how rough I felt after the trip, I’m glad it took it slow the week before.

All the funny faces.

Week 6 was kind of a strategic retreat.  I figured I’d be a little pooped from two hard efforts back to back, and I’m actually pretty proud of how NOT flattened I was from the racing itself.  What took a toll on my was the sheer time on my feet the whole weekend and lack of rest/recovery.  I had almost 20k steps on Friday with no workouts, and Saturday and Sunday I had over 30k both days, when the racing only accounted for about 12k and 6k steps.  All told, I had almost 100k steps during that long weekend trip (92,062 steps per my Garmin from Friday – Monday).  That’s approximately 50 miles, friends!

Also,  I slept about 4-5 hours both Friday and Saturday nights (thanks wedding DJs!).  Due to late flights and changing time zones, I didn’t have super restful or normal sleep Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night either. In terms of recovery, I didn’t have my normal recovery tools while away, just a dinky travel foam roller.  I survived it, but I was BEAT afterwards.

I made it to my swim that Tuesday, but my heart wasn’t in it.  I dragged myself out for a 6-10 mile run on that Thursday morning and the answer was SIX ABSOLUTELY THE MINIMUM NOT A FOOT MORE and that was even pushing it, and I skipped all sorts of sessions I had penciled in in favor of sleeping in and maybe drinking a little more vodka than I should have some days.  My head, heart, lungs, and legs were all in agreement that I needed a rest week even if the previous week was kind of a rest week too in terms of training hours.

Note to self: Lost Creek after 35 miles of OTHER hills is not advised.  At least on this bike.  Probably on any bike, though.

I did rally for the Wattage Cottage hill challenge that Saturday.  This ride was a brutal 3200 feet of climbing in 40 miles.  I brought my tri bike in hopes of keeping up with the 16-18mph pace (which is easily within my grasp on a ride like Shoal Creek/Veloway/Parmer/etc).  However, the gearing on it is not exactly conducive to things that go up and up and up.  I only held 13.6 mph, and that’s not counting a few stops (and more than a few contemplations on just calling an Uber and forgetting about this whole nonsense).  I finally tackled Lost Creek, which is kind of a big deal around here, and while I’m a little ashamed to say I had to get off and walk one of the hills, it was in the last few miles of the ride.  On completely shredded legs just after I’d powered up the previous killer hill and the 20 million before that.  One day I’ll have my revenge!

Proof I’m not being unreasonably whiny.  This ride almost exactly 2 years ago involved cycling up a freaking mountain in Grand Junction.

This was this weekend.  Similar ride distance, no mountains, but yet still more elevation.

It was an amazing, terrible, wonderful, challenging, and terrifying ride.  Thanks to Wattage Cottage enough for setting it up, and Roka, Floyds of Leadville, Foil Wheels, for providing prizes, and Cryofit for supplying the meet up place.  I feel like I’m a better cyclist and much more comfortable on my TT bike after the last two weekends of riding it in towns.

After the ride, I was smashed.  I ate two whole PBJ sandwiches and drank two bottles of water in about 5 minutes.  We had planned to change and run 3 miles around the area, but the idea of more hills and no shade in that heat just made both of us feel like crying.  However, we are triathletes.  We went from bagging the run, then on the drive home, we decided we could do a mile.  Just twice around the block.  Then, I talked myself into the whole run, but whatever pace.  Slow was fine if I had to.

Then I ran 9:30/mile pace for 3 miles in feels like 103 degrees because either I’m a badass or I really just wanted to be done for the day.  Maybe a little of both.

Week 7 marked the kickoff of the last 3 week block of training before taper.  This is the last push, folks.  I can do it!

When you can’t handle ONE MORE 5:30am alarm you instead start your long brick workout at 7pm Friday after work and finish up around 11:45.

Things I nailed:

  • 11 mile run at 10:42/mile pace, sans music.  While the last two miles started to be a little tough, I was still able to speed up at the end and not fade.  And I’m happy to report that with liberal use of foot powder multiple times, I had ZERO blisters.  Obviously can’t do that during the race, but at that point it won’t matter too much.
  • 2 brick runs off the bike that were in the 9 min/mile pace range.
  • Finally, a more-than-race-distance open water swim!  With my new Roka kit and swim skin and goggles even!  New stuff makes swims better…
  • A three hour trainer ride keeping myself in a power range I decided on beforehand – 150W average.  Though my power meter died 40 minute before the end, my speed held constant without any resistance changes, so I’m confident I did it even though Strava doesn’t say so.  Even if it was THE HARDEST RIDE I’VE EVER DONE OMG I hate the trainer *grumble grumble*.
  • Hitting the other sessions I had planned – one weights session, one pool swim, and an hour easy ride.

Things I did not nail:

  • My brick ride the day after that long run was reallllly sluggish and I could only hold 142W power average which is worse than my 3 hour ride and should not have been.
  • I skipped one weights session because work was crappy, I had a ton of errands, and honestly, a glass of whiskey was higher on my priorities than hitting the gym. 
  • I did not stretch or use the foam roller enough.  I’m very tight today.

All in all, successful week.  Two more like it please!

I had a note on the last two weeks of this block to take stock and decide whether I felt like I needed more speed or endurance.  Normally, around this point, I’m slow as molasses but feel like the distances are no problem.  This year has been all about speed, so I’m in the opposite boat.  I’m actually quite speedy right now (for me), but I definitely feel like I can use some endurance practice. 

Doing a double digit run a few more times at race pace is going to do me more good than hitting shorter speedwork (which I’m kind of doing on my brick runs anyway).  I’ve now done 50 miles once on the bike (and multiple rides in that same 3 hour range that were slower but harder than the race will be), but I’d like to hit 56 at least once or twice more.  Ditto for the swim.  I swam longer than the race distance yesterday, but it was slow.  I’d like to come in closer to 40 minutes than the almost 50 it would have taken me at that cruising pace.

Sometimes #sockdoping is the only thing that helps you make it through.

I’m not going to deviate ALL my training to long and slow(er), but my Tuesday long run and Saturday long bricks will stay long, and I will have to actually do my long swims even if they’re inconvenient, instead of deciding that it’s easier to just swim 1000m over lunch in the pool and calling that good enough.  This week looks like this:

  • Monday: lunch weights, easy ride PM
  • Tuesday: 12 mile run AM (10:30-11 min/mile pace)
  • Wednesday: brick AM, race distance swim lunch or PM
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: weights AM, swim lunch (or vice versa)
  • Saturday: 56 mile bike, 2 mile run.
  • Sunday: off

My non-training goal is to stretch and roll at least five times this week.  One down this morning, four to go.

One more week after this one and then it’s time to taper!

As for nutrition, I feel as if this is probably my most successful build in terms of eating mostly not junk food and also actually still making some weight loss progress.  Baby steps, but still in the right direction.

Although, it’s frustrating to be slated to be losing so slow, I’d rather lose 2 lbs per month than maintain or gain.

And, let’s face it, I’m not being perfect, not in the slightest.  I ate with reckless abandon in Cleveland.  I couldn’t stop eating the whole day after the Hill Challenge to the point where I even surprised myself on my food consumption and had no idea how to track it after the fact because I couldn’t remember everything I ate, let alone the quantity.  Let’s face it, while I am eating good food and tracking *most* of the time, I’m not as religious about it as I was in say, April, so I can’t expect those kind of results.

Some of the wonderful and terrible things I put in my mouth in Cleveland.

It’s not really worth it to go back and assess diet quality or calories because I’ve got so much missing data, but it’s encouraging to see the line still going down.  I’m real real real real close to start seeing 169.something.  Even if it’s slow, I’ll keep hanging on to live in the world where that happens.

My head is starting to shift a little.  I am starting to transform from pudgy me to athlete me in my brain.  I’m starting to mentally grow into the current size I am now and it’s pretty nice to have my self-image catch up with the positive changes my body has made.

So, this is life right now.  Work.  Training. Trying not to eat like an asshole.  Showing up for the important stuff for family and friends.  That’s about all that’s above the suck line right now.  During heavy training, and frankly, during HOT training, I feel so zapped after it’s hard for me to rebound and become a person.  As weird as it sounds, my version of self care is sitting on the couch watching Star Trek or reading about sports psychology and drinking whiskey without having to talk to another gorram human for hours.  Quiet, relaxation, silence.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be more of a human person in the coming months, but I need to be a little introverted right now to get through the rest of my training with my sanity intact. 

The gorgeous Hyatt Regency at the Arcade where we stayed.  Half my pictures are just of the hotel…

The one thing I can report is that I have edited all my photos!  Krause is HERE, my (much smaller) Cleveland set is HERE.  While I hope to chip away at getting the best ones up to my iStock, Adobe, and Shutterstock sites, it’s nice to know that I won’t have any more editing to do until I get back from Cozumel.  I also sold one more photo, the same one (the crab) on the same service (Adobe).  I thought that was a little bizarre until I went searching for it myself and it’s the second photo that comes up when you search “crab underwater” so I got the keywords right on that one at least!

12 days until I’m officially in taper.  Approximately 15 more workouts.  A few hundred more miles.  Only about 4 more pre-sunrise wakeups.  I can do this! 

Cleveland National Championships Race #2

After what I had just done, and what I was to do the next day, I knew I needed some massive food.  My goal was to redo my pre-race meal plan with a turkey sandwich for lunch, and considering I was already in the hole, it needed to be epic.  The Butcher and the Brewer did not disappoint.  It is one, if not THE best sandwich I’ve ever eaten (top left corner).

After lunch, I finally got cleaned up with the most painful bath/shower.  Humidity + my gear not really fitting right because of weight loss = SO MUCH CHAFING.  Ow.  Then, we had a glorious little nap before we had to wake up and do the whole commute to the race thing all over again.

Zliten rode the tri bike, I rode a bike share bike, and he dropped off his steed.  I then rode my ride share bike up to the closest place I could rack it (1 mile away) while he walked there, and then we walked a mile to where there were two bike share bikes, and rode those the two miles back to the hotel.  I had 33k steps that day, and the entirety of my running race was approximately 12k.  It was not exactly super restful!  Good thing I walk A LOT.

We had 15% off at the hotel restaurant, and it sounded like the easy option, so we dined there.  It was actually really, really great and stood on it’s own even without the convenience sake!  We started with salads, and they had super yummy homemade dressings, and then a chicken, mashed potato, asparagus main course with this delicious dijon sauce.  We split some blackberry wine sorbet for dessert that was drool-worthy as well!  It’s actually kind of fun to eat back all those calories versus indulging in post race beers… though I probably won’t make a habit of it.  I really like post race drinks!

I slept a little better that night, even though I think the next night’s wedding DJ was EVEN LOUDER, but still I woke up dragging ass.  I figured it was due to racing the day before, two bad nights of sleep, so I just did all the things I did the day before as if by rote.  The shuttle was just as convenient and we got set up and started to walk down to the water, and then an announcement came through about 10 minutes before the first wave started: the swim had been cancelled due to unsafe currents.

Well, considering my experience the day before was considered SAFE, I was JUST FINE with them cancelling the swim.  However, they decided to make the format a run-bike-run situation, and if there’s something I don’t like lately, it’s running fast (or at all, really) without a bike ride first.  I was happy that today was simply for funsies, and I stayed loose while lining up with my wave of ladies.  We were sent off in groups of 4 per “karate chop”, as they called it.

Just hangin’ out with the leg lamp.  As you do.

Run #1:

I poisitoned myself in the back for various reasons, and it went exactly how I expected it to go… everyone ran out at “sprint to the finish” pace because everyone else next to them was doing the same thing, leaving me in the dust going about 8:45-9 minute miles (which was probably too fast for me anyway, but still felt like I was running through sand compared to everyone else). Then, we hit the first big hill and I passed a bunch of people who did not expect to go up quite so quickly.  I started feeling awful but I figured it was just sprinting upwards faster than I should have and I just tried to run through the terribleness.

But the terribleness didn’t go away like normal.  On that stupid hill of the first run of a sprint duathlon, I got lady cramps that went from zero to 11 in about 2 minutes.  Looking back, Zliten said it makes sense because I was really out of it that morning, but I just figured travel, lack of sleep/rest, and racing two days in a row.  I tried to keep under 10 minute miles, then just tried to keep running, then found a bathroom at 1.2 miles and crashed there.  I couldn’t stop sweating and shaking and just sat hunched over trying to either cry or puke or do SOMETHING to expel the demon from my body.  I had stopped my watch at that point because I was just DONE.

My garmin says I sat there for a little over 6 minutes, but it felt like an eternity.  While I didn’t actually HURL, it was the exact same feeling and situation as this fateful turkey trot.  Just as it passed last time, after a while, I found the ability to at least stand up and take some steps forward.  I was at least going to make it back to transition on my own accord, even if just to hand in the chip.

Once I got out into the fresh air I felt a little better, and I walked a little faster.  And then I tried jogging.  Then, before I knew it, I was back at a steady, if conservative, run clip and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try to ride the 12-ish miles, even if it was slow.

Run time: 23:13.  I came into T1 last by at least 5 minutes.

Transitions:

Note: I’m actually going to skip transitions on this one since I don’t have a record and they don’t either.  My finish time includes about 6 minutes unaccounted for by run/bike/run time, and about 3 minutes each seems reasonable to me considering the size of the transition and the state I was in.

Bike:

I got out, got going, and noted that I felt OKAY, so I got a gel down (I know caffeine is a bit of a painkiller and I didn’t have anything stronger on me…) and got to working.  I had too much chafing to put my heart rate monitor on that morning, so I don’t have any of that data to work with, but I do have power and I averaged 5 more watts THIS day vs the day before (9 more normalized), so I didn’t completely soft pedal, but I would definitely say it’s one of the more conservative sprint rides I’ve done this year.

On the way out, the same headwind plagued us, but I was ready for it.  On the way to the turnaround, I started seeing ladies that looked like they might be in my age group, so at the turn around I went hunting.  I caught 7 people from my wave, 2 of them from my age group.  It was fun racing a similar bike course two days in a row!  I didn’t love some parts of the freeway we rode on, but all in all, it was a pretty great course.

Also, my husband is a rockstar ninja cyclist.  I didn’t see any of this happen, but a woman passed him very aggressively about half a mile to the finish, and then as she flew down the hill, she wrecked her bike by overcorrecting a turn.  She flew off her bike and it skidded across the road.  It actually hit Zliten in the leg and then on his bike frame but he leaned into it and stayed upright.  He actually ran over her skidding bike tire and continued on to the finish without wrecking.

My bike wasn’t so eventful, however, I didn’t have any debilitating cramps and rolled into transition like I might actually finish this race.

Bike time: 39:38 (18.8 mph)

Run #2:

I got back out on the run course and at this point, my goal is just to flipping finish.  When I started on the course the second time, the 60+ year old men were getting their “karate chops” to start the first leg of their race, and some of them just FLEW by me.  I jogged up the first hill very very conservatively and the demon cramps did not appear, so I increased my pace a little.  I worked on hunting people down but I kept the effort to something like a 10k-half marathon paced run versus what I’d normally try to run the closing 2 miles of a sprint triathlon. 

I flew down the last hill for the fourth time in 24 hours and crossed the finish line.

Run #2 time: 16:17 (9:30/mile pace)

Overall time: 1:24:59 – 70/72 AG

If I was able to match Zliten’s time of 1:11 (and we’re usually fairly even so I imagine I would have been close if not a little behind due to fatigue), I would have hit approximately mid-pack for my age group, which I would have been stoked about.  In this case, I was just extremely grateful for my patience to wait until the cramps passed, and my wisdom to not overdo it to try to make up time (or conversely, give up) and have a decent performance when I wasn’t in a bathroom, hoping to die.

After the race we hung out with friends (and I sat two chairs away from THE SISTER MADONNA BUDER at the food tent and was too out of it to realize until later), and puttered around until they let us grab our bikes.  We made the final commute back (four round trips in three days…) to the hotel, with a parade full of people riding on tri bikes.  We got cleaned up and then we spent the next day and a half playing and sightseeing and eating reprehensible bar food in Downtown Cleveland!

We actually even went INSIDE the Rock and Roll hall of fame the next day!

I had a super fun time, and glad that this was just a “for fun” race – the travel delays and the sheer amount of non-race related activity would have frustrated me otherwise, but it was a fantastic training weekend (and practice run) for Cozumel.

The same race is there again next year.  The deal is, if Zliten qualifies, we go!  I have to say I would NOT be disappointed to go back.  The cool temperatures, the fun downtown area, the neat hotel we stayed at, and the AMAZING food definitely made me indeed think, “Cleveland rocks!”.

Cleveland National Championships Race #1

After finishing all the things right on time at work, with a huge sigh of relief, we headed out to the airport to jump on a plane at 6pm to Cleveland, Ohio.

Everyone kind of gives you funny looks when you say that’s where you’re going for the weekend (usually my vacation destinations are a little more… tropical), but then when you say it’s to compete in a National Championship race, they nod and say “good luck”.  I wasn’t expecting much out of Cleveland, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Our flight got in late, around 1am, and that meant we were settling into our room around 2.  Not ideal, but it was much better to get the travel day done with and wake up in the city ready to do all the things vs try to fly in the next morning.  We slept until 11am, and then unpacked and put our bikes together.  Zliten did an amazing job doing it rather quickly, and then we attempted to hightail it down for the official pre-race swim practice that ended at 1.  We left the hotel at 12:30, it was supposedly a 20 minute bike, what could go wrong?

Well, we got HORRIBLY lost, had to backtrack a bunch, and then ran into construction on the bike path.  It took us 45 minutes to go the 4 miles to the race, and we OBVIOUSLY missed the swim, so we just splashed around in Lake Erie for a few and then headed to packet pickup.  After that, we dropped Death Star off for her weekend at sleepaway camp, and split a burger for lunch from a food truck on site because we were DYYYYING by that point and just needed something… anything.  We made the journey back to the hotel, which involved walking about 2 miles and then picking up a bikeshare and riding that 2 miles back with my husband on his tri bike (since he couldn’t drop it off until the next day).  It was suuuuuper fun hauling ass and huffing and puffing my way up the bridge while my husband was taunting me about averaging 17 watts.

By that point we were back on the verge of hangry, and after perusing the area, settled on an Irish Pub for pre-race food.  I had a salad, and then this amazingly decadent meatloaf filled with bacon and gouda.  I would have felt guilty about eating the entire enormous brick of it, but I knew what I had done today and what I was about to go do tomorrow, and did not feel bad in the slightest.  We stopped by Heiman’s, a pretty fancy grocery store, and got some breakfast for the morning and snacks and random essentials, and then headed back to the room to prep all the things and relax.

Then the wedding DJ started in.  Our room opened to this beautiful arcade, which was awesome.  However, they host events there every weekend.  The rooms were these old converted offices from the old Arcade, so they were super substantial, but even through two heavy doors, I could hear the *thump thump* of the wedding DJ until 11pm when it ended.  I did not sleep well the night before the race, for various reasons, and that being one.

4:30am came super early, but I’ve got this pre-race thing down to a science, and this morning was no different.  Caff beans. Tea. Sunbutter honey english muffin.  Bathroom and contacts.  Quick appointment with the foam roller.  One more bathroom.  Kit up and go.  The shuttle situation was REALLY convenient, it took about 20 minutes from hotel to race site, and I was in transition setting up before I knew it. 

I had decided to do a really dumb thing and wear my new kit (just took the tags off) on race day since it was rushed to me.  Do as I say, not as I do… but honestly, I justified it because this race was for funsies and I just wanted to wear my new and shiny, damn the conseqences.  I got nervous about it while I was lying awake in bed the night before and I packed a backup kit just in case. 

Well, I’m super glad I did, because as I zipped it back up after using the porta potty, the zipper failed in the same spot it did on the last one.  I was SUPER frustrated, and I chided myself for being too effing fat for the kit (which, I’m not… my measurements put me one size DOWN).  This started a cascade of all the negative bullshit in my head.  My specially cultivated calm, confident, and slightly egotistical race day persona went right the hell out the window to “what the hell are you doing here, fatty mc fatterson?”.

I changed and tried to clear my head and headed down to the race start about a 10 minute walk away.  However, my head was too clear, and I left my swim cap, goggles, and earplugs in my morning bag, which I had in the bag I had checked.  We walked alllll the way there and back, and I had to run to join my wave and missed the warmup swim.  Oh well, it was consistent with the shit show the morning had become.  Oddly enough, I traded stories about popped zippers with the girl next to me (her wetsuit, my kit, I hoped it made her feel better), and then it was 3, 2, 1… GO TIME!

Hey, look at me, almost the only idiot in Lake Erie without a wetsuit! 😛

Swim:

Lake. Erie.  All the fun of an ocean swim without the salt water.  It had looked deceptively calm in the early morning, but as we headed out, the waves and current picked up.  I cursed myself for not bringing my wetsuit.  It took up a bunch of room in my suitcase, last water temperature reported before I left was NOT legal, and I rarely use it, so I just left it home,  However, some extra buoyancy would have been REALLY REALLY nice in the chop.  I swallowed a crap ton of lake, once even choking on it to the point of ALMOST hurling in the water.  I took a few seconds to breast stroke while I hacked and coughed and then got going again, albiet slower as I continued to try not to yak.

Then we hit the turn buoy and I was fairly impressed with my time at the moment, thinking I was swimming against the current and would have an easier time from then on.  I turned and found that was not the case.  The next 12 minutes felt like the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knights run at the castle and it never gets any closer.  The chop often was above the buoy when I’d try to sight.  I almost ran into some boats and had to stop and ask which way to go (I wasn’t far off course, thankfully they were just very tight in directing us).   The swim back was a little faster but I was TIRED from fighting that current and by the time I got to shore I was very frustrated with the swim in general and especially the time it took.

Swim time: 44:06.  My garmin registered 2052 yards which means it was about 400m long.  Some of this might be sighting but I’m confident most of it was not, I stayed on the right path fairly well.  Still, I’d be at least mildly disappointed by this time for a 70.3 swim (which was actually only about three pool lengths longer than this…), so I’ve gotta hope Cozumel is a little less rough.  Or I’m a little better.  Or both.

T1:

I had been thinking “say something nice to Zliten, say something nice to Zliten” the whole way in, and what came out of my mouth was something like “don’t let me fucking forget my wetsuit ever again, that was bullshit”.  Oops.  Transition was a long run but it gave me time to check my head and realize I was about to start my best sport and I was going to be happy about it. 

On the way out, I shouted again to Zliten, “Yay, I get to ride my bike now!” and took off on Death Star to try and catch someone in my age group, as I was fairly convinced I was in last place at that point.  The truth is, I wasn’t quite, there were three people in my age group that took over an hour to complete the swim, and I heard accounts of people (who had legit qualified for the National Championships here, not newbies) getting towed in by kayak or even just making it to shore and handing in their chip for the day after completing the swim.  Regardless, I certainly wasn’t in the normal position I’d be in at this point and I was looking forward to chasing people down on the bike.

T1 time: 5:01.  Honestly, my garmin clocked the transition at almost a third of a mile.  I’m okay with five minutes for that length.

Smiles because I did. not. drown.

Bike:

I ate my gel and I worked the pedals and my speed was just NOT coming up for the level of effort I was putting out.  I was wondering if something was wrong… and then I realized it wasn’t me, it was the weather.  Headwind.  Cool.  17 mph into that isn’t too bad.  I went up and down the hills at the beginning and then got onto a freeway (cool!) and then made my way onto a crazy narrow single lane interchange thing that was super bumpy (scary!) and was relived when we headed into a neighborhood onto better roads.

My speed came up and my legs got under me, and I hit the turn around seeing about 18 mph on the garmin.  Ok, I could deal with that when I knew I had some help on the way back.  I just got to work and ate some blocks and passed everyone I could.  My bike was still doing the delayed shifting thing it has been lately but besides that everything felt nice and smooth and I just kept working my average up until I crossed the line.

The most obvious thing I learned on the bike ride?  If I leave my top tube straw out, instead of tucking it in after each sip, I will drink much more liquid over the course of a bike ride.  If nothing else, this race has taught me that. *captain obvious salute*

Bike time: 1:19:15 (18.9 mph).  Honestly, I paced the thing more like a 70.3 (155W/172W normalized @ 158 BMP AVG HR), because that’s what I’m practicing for right now.  The other “gear” I have is to race a sprint, and I knew going out like that would be a bad idea.  I’d love to race more Olympics and nail what that 25 mile race effort feels like, but for now, I’ll just be happy with that.

T2:

Again violating the “nothing new on race day”, I was feeling incredibly protective of my feet and doing everything I could to avoid blisters.  Even though I knew it would cost me time, I ditched the quick laces for regular ones.  Also, I left my socks OFF for the bike ride, and set them in my run shoes covered in powder so they’d be dry.  I can report that I got ZERO blisters on my feet during the two days of racing so it was worth it.

T2 time: 3:27. Big transition was big.

This is what a happy runner en route to the finish line looks like!

Run:

I got out and my legs felt pretty darn decent.  And then they sent us directly up a big hill.  D’oh!  I knew I only had to contend with it twice so I charged up the best I could without burning too many matches, and picked up my pace once it evened out.  I realized that my legs were definitely carrying me at a Olympic run PR at this point, but feeling like they had a lot more in them.  My options at this point were to pick up the pace or to cruise a bit, and considering I am inexperienced at this distance and also was racing the next day, I kind of cruised. 

All the lifting this year, and following my mountain goat husband up hills with less complaining has made me a better hill runner this year, apparently.  Everyone was complaining about the hills and I managed them just fine.  There was that first one, and then a short steep-ish one around mile 2, and the third, which I called optional hill because you went off the path simply just to go down and back up a steep hill.  Race directors are mean. 

There was no walking today, besides a few steps at one crowded aid station to get some water down.  I kept my pace fairly even – 9:45s to 10:15s (with a speedier 9:30 for my last mile).  Even though I didn’t feel like I needed it, I ate a gel halfway though just like I planned.  I finished feeling like I had a lot left in the tank, at least one more of the 3 mile loops, without needing to slow down.  For an Olympic run PR, I’ll totally take it!

Run time: 1:00:09 (9:42 average pace).  First sub-10 minute mile Olympic run!  I’m stoked!  And it wasn’t even all out racing.  I’m excited to see what I can do for my half ironman races this year if this is any indication of where my run fitness is…

Overall time: 3:11:58. 138/162 AG.  So close to those top 18 slots that qualify for worlds, hahaha!

I’d say overall, I put about 80-85% into this race, but besides the pre-race BS and the fallacious swim, I had a total blast on this course and couldn’t wait to race it again the next day.  After some food.  And sleep.

Dear self, medals are not food.

After wandering aimlessly for a bit, I picked up my bag and changed into clothes.  We waited around for a while hanging out with friends and then when transition opened, I moved my bike to the place it was supposed to be for the next day.  For our commute, we walked two miles to get to the city bikes, and then rode them back to the hotel.  Next on the agenda was to get cleaned up and food in my face to fuel tomorrow’s race!

Part two coming soon…

Week 4 – The Secret to Success

Hi everyone!  I leave for Nationals tomorrow!

All the feels!

I went from zero freakouts to maximum over the course of Monday, so I shut down my planned second workout of the day and just destressed and prepared instead.  I think I’ve even outdone my normal craziness with a 10 page vacation document for 4 nights away, but there’s so much “you must be here at this particular time” going on this weekend, and we don’t have a car, so it’s definitely not our normal getaway.

My goals in Cleveland are to:

#1 Survive racing back to back days.  I think I’m less worried about the actual effort, and more about the back to back 4am wakeups (ughhhh), and all the logistics that go along with racing two different races, so there’s that.

#2 I rarely get to race Olympic distance, so I’d like to take a stab at the holy grail for me, a sub-3 hour race.  The temperatures and the course should lend itself well to it, we’ll see how my legs and brain react to the day.

#3 Have fun!  I don’t have any delusions about actually qualifying for worlds in either category this year, so I’m just here to enjoy the experience and hopefully not come in last (and even if I do, eh, it’s fine, I know I’m a little fish in a big pond again).

This week I’m training fairly minimally because I’m not 100% sure how my body will react to two hard efforts in a row and I want to give it the best fighting chance possible without a real taper.  Also, it’s a great excuse to let some little niggles try and heal.  I’m looking at you, stupid blister on my right arch and cranky left leg (earlier in the week, my glute was bothering me, now it’s my ankle… sigh… the tapers).  I’m doing a bunch of short swims, did one bodyweight session, some bike riding, and trying to stretch and roll and boots as much as possible while I’m at home since all I’m traveling with is my teeny portable roller.

Monday morning bike rides make the entire week better.

Last week was a great training week – I hit every session I planned!

  • Monday: 1 hour easy bike ride, gym weights
  • Tuesday: AM run: 9 miles at 10:30-11:00 min/mile pace
  • Wednesday: off
  • Thursday: 20 mins swim, 30 min bike, 2 mile run indoor tri at Lifetime (unofficial, of course)
  • Friday: AM weights, PM open water swim
  • Saturday: 45 mile TT ride at the Veloway, 3 mile brick run (9:30-ish/mile goal pace)
  • Sunday: off

Things to note:

Tuesday’s run was the first strugglebus in a while.  I still did the exact run at the exact paces I needed, but the second half was not pleasant and I definitely aggravated my blister doing it.  It was a great mental toughness workout and honestly, I’ve had worse. 

On Thursday, I pulled off just about the exact same paces I did at the Indoor Tri in January but they felt much easier.  I almost hurled after getting off the treadmill earlier this year, keeping the same pace in August felt challenging but not pukeworthy.  The perceived effort on the bike wasn’t even the same zip code.  I was dying the entire time in January, this was a build from steady to sorta challenging by the end now, both ending at 10.1 miles in 30 minutes.

Saturday’s ride was actually super nice – while 15 loops of anything gets monotinous, it was nice not having to dodge cars or stop for anything but bottle fills.  I was able to manage 18.2 mph for the entire ride and the effort felt reasonable.  My legs were a little sore after 45 miles (which makes sense, because this is my longest ride in six months by 10 miles), but I definitely had another 11 miles in me to complete the half ironman distance and my legs ran off that bike just fine (I held 9:50s instead of 9:30s, but heck, it already was feels like 100 when we started, so I’m still pretty proud of that). 

On swimming: I just haven’t been able to manage to get myself to hit the 70.3 race distance yet.  I’ve increased my comfort zone to a little under a mile (1500-1600yd), I just haven’t had the oomph to do that .2 yet.  My glute most commonly starts barking on longer swims (especially towing the safe swimmer – I decided the second lap without it on Friday was worth the risk so I ditched it), so I’ve cut a lot of attempts at 3 lake loops (about 2400 yd) to 2 (1600 yd) because of it.  As long as I get a few 3 loop swims and some longer pool swims before race day, I should be fine (and I have 7 weeks after this one to do it so… not worried yet).

Training requires some substantial high quality food.  Training does not require that chocolate thing, but it did come with the meal so *shrug*.

I’ll announce that I’ve found the answer to weight loss success.  If correlation = causation, then all you need to do is eat two slices of cake, skip your planned workout, and drink whiskey for dinner.

Yep, I’ll be selling this on late night infomercials starting next week.  It’s the path to success!  Actually, I know what I do in the weeks before seems to affect me much more on the scale than what I’m doing immediately (unless it’s drastic like a long hot run or ride or eating a giant bowl of super salty MSG-filled pho), so I don’t want to get cocky, but for better or worse, that was my Monday and I woke up and weighed myself on Tuesday and the scale taunted me with 169.8, 169.9, and then finally settled on 170.2.  While that’s a low swing, my upswing the next day was only back to 173, and my trendweight is actually tilting down rather nicely.

  • Average calorie burn: 2519
  • Average calorie intake: 1888 (-631 deficit)
  • Average weight change: 175.0 to 174.5 (-0.5)
  • Average diet quality: 21.4

So, underneath my “diet by cake and laziness”, I actually have some solid scores for last week.  My goal for the next few months will honestly be to just keep doing pretty much this above and see where it takes me.  I ate mostly healthy food in the proper portions and counted my calories, but this plan also involves a burger and fries, whiskey and wine, a giant bag of BBQ from Rudy’s that consisted of most of this weekend’s protein, one small slice of cake and half a cookie.  So, it’s not all angelic but 9 hours of training means there’s room for a few splurges here and there.

This week, I’m going to have less of a deficit because I’ll be doing less training, and probably not taking the calories down too much lower (both because of racing).  So, I’ll expect to not see too much happening on the scale, but I hope to minimize the asshole eating (but allow for some) while in a new city.

Fun with the fireworks setting…

In life matters that don’t involve triathlon or what I put in my mouth, I edited July 5th and July 6th camping photos.  I still have 51 left for July 7 and 8th, but you can see what’s done HERE.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been so late with a vacation post (I almost want to pre-date it to July to hide my shame :D), so maybe look for a PART ONE coming soon-ish.  Maybe I need to post about my July vacation before I leave town in August.  Maybe I’m ridiculous, but I just love to explore and take photos!  Now, if someone could pay me more than 18 cents for it…

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