week in review: Veteran's Day 5k Week 1

It has been an awfully long time since I have done a weekly recap, but since this week marks the start of a new training cycle, it seems a good time to start again.  My next target race is coming up in just 7 weeks - the Veterans Day 5k!  I set a PR of 29:03 at the 5k distance back in 2007, and my best time this year is 29:53.  I plan to beat that this time around.  I’ll be doing a separate post going over the plans I’ll be following as I chase this goal.  For now, back to basics, and looking at the week in review.

My totals:

Swim - nada.  The pool has been closed for a month for renovation, but it opens TODAY!!

Bike - 46:24, 7.61 miles

Run - 2:00:23, 9.23 miles

 Highlight of the week had nothing to do with running.  Donuts fresh from the food truck at the farmer's market!

Highlight of the week had nothing to do with running.  Donuts fresh from the food truck at the farmer's market!

 

Monday

  • Run - 12:04, 0.87 miles

This was one of my 3 short recovery runs, but wow, this felt ridiculously short. I have no idea why this was so slow. I didn't even walk! Must be the trees, interfering with the GPS signal. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Trust the plan, and take it easy, right?

  • Functional Strength - 10 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up
    • Myrtle cool-down

Tuesday

  • Run - 24:03, 1.78 miles

Medium run today, out and back down 7. It's been a long time since I actually ran the entire thing. With summer HR running, I was walking up most of the hills. Now that it is finally a bit cooler, I seem to be able to get up the hills and stay in Z2! On the other hand, I seem to be spending more time in Z1 than usual. I'm going to go with it for now, seeing as I've never run 6 days a week before, and I don't want to mess with intensity and frequency at the same time.

  • Functional Strength - 13 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up
    • Core (Pedestal 1)
    • Myrtle cool-down

Wednesday

  • Run - 12:09, 0.97 miles

Why is it that no matter how short the run, sometimes you still wind up checking the watch a million times? Nice easy recovery run. Lots of little acorns on the ground!

  • Functional Strength - 10 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up
    • Myrtle cool-down

Thursday

  • Run - 24:02, 1.86 miles

I couldn’t be bothered digging through the closets looking for my reflective armband, but it was still dark when I headed out.  I decided to wrap my headlamp around my arm.  It was slightly rough going, but more for my head than my legs.  I absolutely did not want to get out of bed, but I got it done.  Yes!

  • Functional Strength - 17 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up
    • Core (Pedestal 1 x2)
    • Myrtle cool-down

Friday

  • Run - 12:03, 0.93 miles

Nice and easy does it. I wore the sunglasses I got as swag from Reston. They're so lightweight it's like they aren't even there! So far I like them.

  • Functional Strength - 10 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up
    • Myrtle cool-down

Saturday

  • City Bike Ride - 46:24, 7.61 miles

Now that tri season is over, Peggy the Dutchi gets to come out to play!  Man, I forgot how heavy she is, though.  Getting up those hills is hard work.  It was a gorgeous early fall day, and not too hard.  I rode to the farmer’s market and picked up some apple cider and mini doughnuts.  A perfect start to the weekend.

Sunday

  • Run - 36:02, 2.82 miles

When I headed out it wasn't even 60 degrees. The sun was shining, I was sweating buckets in the best way, and it was generally a fun day out. It is so odd to have my "long" run be 36 minutes. On the other hand, I can’t remember the last time I felt excited to get out and be active both on both weekend days.  This plan is clearly agreeing with me. Nothing hurts! No fatigue!

  • Functional Strength - 10 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up
    • Myrtle cool-down

 

This week was great.  It’s odd to have my runs be so short, but it was fun getting out there and running 6 times in a week.  I am trying to ignore the fact that I seem to be slower than ever before.  Patience.  Consistency.  And at long last, the pool is open, so swimming is back on the table.  Next week is going to be fantastic!

Thumbs Up/Thumb Down for Oly Training

This training block for my first Olympic race has been a complete blur.  It if weren’t for automatic upload on my Garmin, I’d probably have zero record of what I did.  As it is, I don’t have anything like what I usually have to look back on.  No in-depth analysis of each step, each stroke, and each mile.  Yet time marches on, and race weekend has arrived (omg!)  I want to take a few minutes to look back at how my training went over the last couple months, just to put it in perspective and see where my head is at.  Also, I want to give this analysis a day to sink in before I make my race goals.

 Pretty clouds at the end of an afternoon run

Pretty clouds at the end of an afternoon run

SWIM:

The pool has been my happy place for a year now.  I love swimming!

Thumbs Up:

  • 2700 yard swims
  • OWS practice in Lake Anna and 1.2 miles in the Potomac at Harbor Fest
  • 400 yard repeats and flip turns are no big deal
  • Meeting Megan and Liz

Thumbs Down:

  • My pool has been closed since late August for maintenance
  • Too many missed swims for no good reason
  • Goggles, man

BIKE:

I had a whole separate post about bike things, so I’ll keep this extra short and sweet.

Thumbs Up:

  • Long ride = 30 miles!

Thumbs Down:

  • Still lacking confidence

RUN:

This season, running has taken a backseat to swim/biking.  After all, I have to do those things before I ever get to run on race day.  Even still, I’ve managed to make some impressive gains.

Thumbs Up:

  • Running 30 minutes is “short” now
  • Meeting Stacey, running 6+ miles together, and eating watermelon in the parking lot

Thumbs Down:

  • Tip of toe blisters, the week of the race.  Really?

GEAR:

Half the fun of triathlon is all the gear.  The clothes, the toys, the gadgets…I love it all.

Thumbs Up:

  • Vivobarefoot Stealth II.  Although, these aren’t available anymore, so maybe this should be a thumbs down?
  • Coeur Sports kits.  The shorts, especially, were a game changer for me in regards to bike comfort
  • The cheap & cheerful Garmin Vivoactive

Thumbs Down:

  • My bike.  Sorry, friend, but you just don’t fit
  • Quest bike shorts.  Seams don’t belong anywhere near my lady bits.  These are banished.
  • Pocket-less run shorts.  Why do these even exist?
  • Goggles, man

FUEL:

Nutrition hasn’t been a big deal for me, since Olympic distance racing = short course racing.  Even still, I’m a slow athlete, and my race day is going to take almost 4 hours.  That means snacks!  Like Vivaldi (missing her so much lately…. gone 5 months this week) I’m hugely treat motivated.

 Can't say enough good things about The Feed.  Such a great way to try new fuel options

Can't say enough good things about The Feed.  Such a great way to try new fuel options

Thumbs Up:

  • Skratch Labs Fruit Drops because they don’t stick together in the package or in my teeth.  I’m also a fan of the Exercise Hydration Mix in Lemons + Limes and Pineapples
  • Vfuel Endurance Gel has a nice thin texture and good flavor.  They just came out with Salted Caramel Apple, which sounds tasty.  I like Peach Cobbler
  • Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are like extra plump and fruity Fig Newtons.  Raspberry is my favorite
  • Nuun Active and Plus.  A bottle of triberry on the pool deck is like a security blanket for me, and I like that Plus is flavorless, so I can add it to whatever I’m craving on the day

Thumbs Down:

  • Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix in Matcha Green Tea.   Not my cup of tea. (See what I did there?)

MENTAL GAME:

I’ve not had my head in the game lately.  Depression is a beast, no two ways about it.  I don’t want to talk about it too much, simply because at this precise moment I feel like I’m finally crawling out of the dark, and if I even glance back I may slide down there again.  So instead of head shrinking, I’m bullet pointing.

Thumbs Up:

  • Forgiveness.  I forgave myself for any missed workouts and moved onward.  No dwelling!

Thumbs Down:

  • Lying to myself.  I want to work on being more honest when I’m feeling fragile.  I can’t adjust course if I don’t admit that I’m going the wrong way. 
 Sometimes one day at a time pays off big time.  I remember this day so clearly.

Sometimes one day at a time pays off big time.  I remember this day so clearly.

So there we have it.  The road to my first Olympic distance triathlon.  I’ve done spring/early summer sprints before, saying that I was going to end the season with an Oly.  I tried and failed twice to even get to the registration point.  Now, here I am, ready to toe the line in TWO DAYS.  It was a tough summer.  I had some struggles, to be sure.  But I made it.  I’m ready.  And I’m excited.  Next up: race expectations!  

When Consistency Falters

This past winter I wrote about motivation, consistency, and discipline.  It’s really funny that, as someone with less than one full season under her racebelt, I thought I had any right to speak authoritatively on the subject.  Not to say I don’t agree with everything I wrote then…I still do!  But consistency looks a lot different during the back half of the season.  I can only imagine what I’ll have to say on the subject a few years from now.

The fact is that I’ve been slipping.  Nothing terrible.  There have been missed workouts, but the wheels haven’t come completely off the bus.  If you were to just analyze my training graphs from the last year, nothing would really seem to be out of place.  In fact, July was my biggest month ever, volume-wise.  But still, I can feel myself cracking along the edges.  Truth be told, I never really got my mojo back once I got back into training after the Reston Sprint.  And therein lies the problem.  I can see it, staring at me: I never took an off season.

 Monthly Training volume - YTD 2016

Monthly Training volume - YTD 2016

I had this big plan, starting as a resolution in January of 2015.  First I was walking, then in May 2015 I added swimming.  August brought Peggy and time on the bike, and October was when I started adding run intervals.  Then it was headlong into sprint training over the winter, getting up to speed on the road bike, and suddenly it was June 2016.  I toed the line at Reston Sprint feeling almost over prepared.  I took a full week off after that race, and then eased back into training as I prepped for my first Olympic distance.  When you count strength training sessions, I was clocking two workouts a day more often than not.  Oh, and rest days?  Hardly ever took one.  “Easy swim!” I would declare.  “My volume is low, so I don’t need a full day of rest.”  In race terms, I went out too hard, overcooked it, and now I’m limping my way toward the end of the season.  I’m constantly rearranging my schedule, trying to find the combination that feels fun, and keeps me from feeling exhausted.  After all, it wasn’t so very long ago that I was completely sedentary, spending every waking minute sitting in a chair at the office or on the couch at home.  Did I really think I could be Instant Athlete – Just Add Water without consequences?

Consequences makes it sound so dire.  I’m not injured, I’m still getting most of my workouts done, and I have every confidence that I’ll finish my Oly in style.  Slow style…but hey, it was never part of the plan to be speedy this season.  Mentally I’m just done, though.  It is a lot harder to get up in the morning and make it to the pool, and sometimes I have to really argue with myself to get on the bike.  Running is a little bit easier because I don’t have to drive to the pool or concentrate like I do when cycling.  In fact, I’m really looking forward to the fall running season.  It used to just be part of the routine to hit the alarm, get out of bed, and start my workout.  Now I have to play mind games with myself to get going.  I remind myself of my goals, both long and short term.  I reread old training logs from years ago, when I did nothing but make excuses.  Do I want to be like that again?  Of course not.  Yet sometimes the idea of spending a very large chunk of time laying on the couch watching Star Trek sounds really good.  In case you’re really interested, I went with Deep Space Nine.  For an entire weekend.  And you know what happened?  I didn’t feel any better.  Between this mental fog and my missing weekly training recaps, I had reached a tipping point of mediocrity.

What’s the point of mentioning the lack of consistency if it hasn’t been particularly noticeable?  Accountability, I suppose.  That, and I try my best to keep things in perspective, which often means working through stuff like this.   Like I said, I’m healthy.  We’re not hugely wealthy or anything, but we’re living a pretty good life, and it feels wrong to whine when in the grand scheme of things, I have it pretty good.  Boo ooh, I don’t feel like working out for the expensive race I voluntarily signed up for?  Ridiculous.  Yet the feelings are there, so I must share.

And there we go.  A bit of a ramble, but I think I got there eventually.  Takeaways:

  • I’m not a robot, and rules about rest do apply to me. 

  • I’m looking forward to structuring my season better for next year. 

  • My life is pretty great. 

That is all!

week in review: Reston Triathlon Training, week 6

Ugh….this heat dome needs to go away.  I constantly feel tired, sticky, and irritable.  It probably goes against all kind of triathlon laws, but summer and I are not getting along.  Bring on autumn, please!  But the weeks march on, and although this was not one of my better weeks for consistency, there was still plenty of adventure to be had.

My totals:

Swim - 3:11:04, 7900 yards

Bike - 1:00:03, 18.17 miles

Run - 2:50:08, 12.74 miles

 This massive flower was my "cool find" of the week.

This massive flower was my "cool find" of the week.

 

Monday

  • Swim - 1:06:45, 2600 yards
    • 300 swim
    • 200 pull
    • 100 kick
    • 12x50 :15 (kick, drill, by 25)
    • 4x100 swim :30
    • 8x50 :15 (drill, swim, by 25)
    • 4x100 pull :30
    • 200 c/d

so. much. kicking.

And lots of drill. It's good to have a form focus, though, so I embraced it. I did catchup, 6-3-6, Tarzan, fingertip drag, thumb drag, fist, and sailboat. Whew!

Tuesday

  • Run - 37:33, 2.86 miles

I made it further up some hills without my HR buzzing, although I still had to walk up most of Idylwood and again for the return on Rt 7. No aches, no pains, nothing...I felt so good! I guess it was a good call to skip yesterday's ride.

  • Post Run Functional Strength - 11 minutes
    • pedestal #2
    • myrtls

Wednesday

  • Swim - 1:04:19, 2600 yards
    • 800 warm up (200 swim/200 kick/200 drill/200 pull)
    • 4x50 kick w/:15 rest (25 FAST, 25 choice)
    • 3x200 pull w/:30 rest (50 shark drill/150 pull)
    • 4x100 swim w/:20 rest (all strong)
    • 8x50 w/:10 rest (25 non-free/25 free)
    • 200 choice cool down

Wow, how did I pick another workout with so much kicking again? Oh well, it's always good to do kick sets. I think because this one has such a big warmup, it felt like the workout itself went by quick.

  • Trainer Ride - 1:00:03
    • 10' warm-up
    • 40' z2 (143 BPM)
    • 10' cool down

It was a bit hard to find a cadence that kept me at the right HR, but once I had that, it was good going. Challenging, but not hard.  Does that make sense?

Thursday

 After my first swim in the lake. #heartandcourage #stayhydrated

After my first swim in the lake. #heartandcourage #stayhydrated

  • Run - 46:38, 3.39 miles

It didn't feel too bad when I stepped out the door: 70 and humidity at 82%. I still sweat aplenty, and my visor even got so heavy with sweat it was sliding down off my forehead into my eyes. Ew!

My HR strap was being a bit wonky, reading 131 one second, and 177 the next. I finally realized maybe it was a bit too loose and was bouncing slightly away from my skin, so I tucked the edge into my sports bra to help hold it into place. I didn't have any weird readings after that. Hurray for quick fixes! Another good run.

  • Open Water Swimming - approx 1 hour

This was my day at Lake Anna.  I did two swims of maybe 30 minutes each.  I had to guess completely on the distance, since the vivoactive doesn’t do open water.  Maybe 1350 yards for each go?

Friday

Planned rest day.  Glorious rest day, especially considering how uncomfortable my sunburn was.

Saturday

  • Long Run - 1:25:57, 6.49 miles
 Stoked to count this chica among my friends.  She's a racing machine, and lives a life of adventure!

Stoked to count this chica among my friends.  She's a racing machine, and lives a life of adventure!

I met up for the first time with Stacey, and we had a great run.  It was pretty warm and fairly humid, but not too bad.  Stacey let me dictate the pace, so we walked whenever my HR buzzed high.  Originally we had planned on an hour, but at thirty minutes in we were feeling great, so tacked on some extra time.  If I’d realized when we stopped how close we were to 6.5 miles, I would have kept on going just a teeny bit more.  My right hip started aching towards the end, and I got a baby blister on the tip of my toe, but this was a good run.  So much fun to run with friends!

Sunday

Unscheduled rest day.  Just blech.  I lost my mojo on this day.

This week had some serious highs and lows.  My first go at open water swimming, and running with a new friend?  Doesn’t get much better than that outside of race day.  Sadly that was tempered by several days where I just didn’t get the planned workouts in, and just generally felt lazy.  I think overall my schedule is not quite agreeing with me, so for this next week I’ll be making a few changes.  A teeny bit less volume, and some rearranging of workouts to allow for more light days.  We’ll see how it goes.

Sunburn, Sand & Smiles: My 1st Open Water Swim

I’ve talked before about how hard it is to find open water swimming in my area.  Seems like you either have to drive quite a ways, pay a decent chunk of change, or both.  Just to get a feel for open water?  Really?  I knew I didn’t want my first time to be race day at Reston in September, so I signed up for HarborFest.  Even still, I really wanted the opportunity to swim in calm open water by myself before I had to do it with loads of others around me.  I talked with my parents about it a bit, and we hatched a plan.

As a side note, we paid for both our parking and our beach fees at the entrance gate. I believe it was $4 to park and $3 per person for the beach. We could have paid our beach fees at the snack shack on the beach. However, no one ever asked to see our payment bracelets, and no one else on the beach seemed to be wearing them. I’m thinking you could totally get away without actually paying the beach fee. I want to be really clear that I’m not actually advocating that, as State Parks need the revenue generated by these fees to run.

On Thursday Mom & I both took the day off work.  (Dad the new retiree didn’t need to make such plans!)  We headed down to Lake Anna State Park, and for a nominal set of parking and beach fees, we had ourselves some lifeguarded water, a strip of sand, and a pretty fun day.  Lake Anna is great for families, and there were plenty of kiddos with all kinds of floaties and toys in the water.  I was the only one sporting a tri kit and swim cap, that’s for sure!  The lifeguarded area includes two buoy lines.  The first indicates where no floats are allowed past, and the second indicates where the guarded section ends.  The area between the two lines was virtually empty, so after verifying the rules with the guards, I knew my plan was going to be to swim along the second buoy line.  The water there started about chest deep, but dropped off to over my head rather quickly.  We unpacked the car, set up our umbrella and chairs, and I left my parents behind to face the water.  As my dad later commented, it was a classic day at the beach, because the kids always spend more time in the water than the parents.  Nice to know that holds true 30+ years after my first beach trip.

On the subject of beaches, I have played in open water before, just not tried to really swim anywhere.  I have been in the Santa Rosa Sound and Gulf of Mexico in Florida, along with the Atlantic Ocean at various points along the East Coast.  I had also been reading a lot about open water swimming, and understood that lakes in particular are often dark and hard to see in. Standing on the sand, the water looked light and clear.  Nothing prepared me for being underwater at Lake Anna.  Once you get in, the water is sort of light brown.  You can see your arm in front of you, and then some swirling beneath you, but that’s about it.  Quite the change from my usual black line on the bottom of the pool!

 So much bigger than I imagined it would be.  Open water sure is....open.

So much bigger than I imagined it would be.  Open water sure is....open.

The swimming itself was pretty fun!  The first few minutes were all kinds of awful, of course.  The hem of my tri top started to float up, and as I swam it sort of swished around me, like I was a washing machine agitator.  I don’t think I could size down in this top without extreme and uncomfortable compression, so I decided to just ignore it.  I believe the designers at Coeur were assuming I would either be wearing a wetsuit or swimskin.  Not this season!  Besides my wardrobe, I was initially freaking myself out with my own imagination.  Every swirling bit of shadow was the tentacle of some creature that was going to drag me down to the bottom!  Pro tip: don’t reread Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire before open water swimming.  Grindylows will occasionally eat humans! Fortunately, those crazy thoughts subsided after my first pass on the buoy line.  It took me about three minutes to swim the whole line.

I spent a lot of time just going back and forth along the buoy line, getting used to being somewhere besides my usual swimming safe zone.  At times jet skis or boats would go past further out in the lake, and the wakes they created would come through and bounce me around a bit.  I’m sure a real current is much more of a challenge to deal with!  The bobbing made me feel pretty nauseated, despite the fact that I had taken Dramamine and was wearing ear plugs.  Even just trying to swim faster, with a stronger body rotation, made the nausea come on stronger.  Of course, I am the girl who got motion sick learning flip turns, so none of this is a surprise.  I think the jet skis and boats were also responsible for another phenomenon I discovered: a faint petrol taste that I would occasionally get.  Blech!

After about 30 minutes, I swam in and spent some time with my family on the beach.  Can I say again how lucky I am to have such a supportive family?  It really can’t be said enough.  After lunch and some relaxing, I headed out for another swim.  This time I was joined by my dad, and we bobbed around for a bit, enjoying the water.  We also played around with goggles.  Despite having experienced leaking with my R1s, I brought them anyway, just to see how they fared.  Oh, man!  I am SO disappointed that they don’t fit my face.  My other goggles are my Vanquishers, and it was like night and day comparing them to the clarity of the R1s.  Sighting with the Vanquishers was an exercise in futility.  I had to pick my head up pretty far to get a glance, and everything seemed slightly blurry.  It was like looking through smudged glasses.  The R1s, on the other hand, were amazing!  My dad made a comment about RainX, because the water just came right off the lenses like you would not believe.  If you’re on the fence about trying out ROKA goggles, give them a go.  If they fit your face, you will be a very happy camper.

 Such a great day.  I can't wait to do it again!

Such a great day.  I can't wait to do it again!

My second thirty-minute swim went by quickly, and I was feeling more confident in the water.  That being said, I think it is really important to mention that at no point was I worrying about my stroke.  I may not be a fast swimmer, but I am confident.  Like everyone, my stroke could use some work, but I have no concerns about actually making forward progress or running out of endurance.  This, I believe, is vital for having a positive first open water experience.  There is so much new stuff going on when you’re in open water for the first time.  Irrational anxiety and fear, visibility, sighting, equipment, and environment are all things your brain is occupied with.  Actual swimming shouldn’t be something you need to think about.  Rather, your stroke should be on full muscular auto pilot!

I am so grateful that I had a good first open water swimming experience.  The only blemish on the day was the rather spectacular sunburn I picked up on my back.  Despite multiple liberal applications of a supposedly waterproof spf 50, my shoulder blades and back of my arms are quite red.  Clearly I need a better sunscreen.  Even still, that was just another lesson to learn before race day.  Speaking of race day, I’m really looking forward to HarborFest.  I know I can swim, and now I know I can swim in open water.  Yes, HarborFest is going to have a current, not to mention crowds of other swimmers.  Good things happen when you leave your comfort zone. I say, bring it on!