Some Bike Milestones

You wouldn’t know if for what little training has been going on in my life the last couple weeks, but this month I’ve had some good cycling milestones.  Giving some thought to these milestones is just what I need right now.  After admitting to myself that I was feeling exceptionally blah, I thought that would be the kick start I needed to get back into the swing of things.  It wasn’t, and I actually spent four days last week doing absolutely nothing, save a bit of senseless crying.  Now I’m trying to head into the next two weeks before Reston with a renewed sense of vigor.  You know what goes really well with vigor?  Self-congratulatory reminiscing about bike stuff!  In the last month I had a bike birthday, the longest ride ever, and my first puncture.

Last August I bought a used Linus Dutchi 8 from a friend.  It was meant to be my safe and friendly introduction back into riding.  Swoopy and upright, with an internal hub and fitted for all my grocery getting needs, I named her Peggy, and she came through like a champ.  I remember being scared going downhill the first time, riding the brakes the entire way down.  I remember riding to the top of “the hill” and feeling like I’d conquered Everest.  Best of all, I remember how great it was when I really started enjoying my time on the bike.  I’m an anxious and nervous person, and being on a bike made me feel wobbly, out of control, and like I had a target on my back.  Lots of times I still feel that way on my road bike.  But one day, on Peggy, I realized I felt good.  No big deal, just me and my bike, out doing bike things.  While I haven’t put nearly as many miles in as I thought I would, I still look forward to spending time with my swoopy steed.  Happy Birthday, Peggy!

Dutch bikes are wonderful, but they aren’t going to get you far on the bike leg of a triathlon, so most of my time this year has been on my road bike.  Given my anxiety and wobbliness, it should come as no surprise that during the week I get most of my rides in on the trainer.  On the weekends, in the early morning when the sun is just coming up and the traffic is light, I hit the roads.  Earlier this month, I got in my longest ride ever: 30 miles!  In addition to this being a milestone ride, it also helped me get the monkey off my back with regard to covering the race distance, since I added in a 3 mile run to make it a brick workout.  I started out in a bad place for that ride, with some saddle pain less than an hour in, and aching shoulders for the last eight miles.  By the time I hit the red caboose in Herndon, I was feeling better, and I was in a more mentally positive place on the way home.  As I cruised into the apartment complex, I realized I had gone 29.8 miles, so naturally I did a quick loop around the complex to bring home in 30.

I've been working all year toward this picture!

I've been working all year toward this picture!

I had no idea when I finished up my milestone ride that I had picked up another– my first flat tire.  It had to have been a slow leak, as all systems were go as I parked that day.  My bike leaned against the dining table for the next two days, and it wasn’t until Tuesday night that I realized the front wheel was completely flat.  A quick inspection, and I discovered a teeny little sharp piece of rock wedged into the tire.  Thank goodness I got to practice changing the puncture at home instead of on the side of the road.  After a bit of back and forth online with people who know way more than me, it was determined that I needed a new tire, since the rock had sliced all the way through.  With my race just a few weeks away, did I really want to have the added anxiety of riding on a patched tire?  No, no I did not.

This is my confident face.  No, really.

This is my confident face.  No, really.

That’s when the mechanical shenanigans really got going.  With the replacement in hand, I settled down to get the tube changed and put the new tire on.  Friday night done right!  I am in complete awe of the people on youtube who can zip through a tire change in a couple minutes.  It took me quite a bit of time to muscle the tire off the rim.  And getting the tire back on after the tube is replaced?  Maybe practice makes perfect, but if that’s the case, I’m really good at swearing now.  So there I was, finally ready to pump up the tire.  I was getting some weird hard and soft spots, and then the tire popped off the rim.  Turned out that the tube had some kind of defect, with spots that ballooned up and others that wouldn’t inflate.  No worries, I had another spare tube…

Except I didn’t.  Well, I did, but it didn’t last.  J decided he wanted to give the tube changing a go.  He likes to mess with stuff like that, and I was crazy busy playing Sudoku on my phone.  Anyway, long story short, pinch flat and blowout.  Whoops!  A few hiccups and missteps, but before long I was the proud owner of 5 properly sized inner tubes.  Installation went well, the new tire was put on, and finally (finally!) I was good to go.

Which bring us to today.  August is almost over, and I feel like I’m walking around in a fog.  Sometimes each day can be a bit of a struggle.  You take things one day at a time, and suddenly its 10 weeks later and you don’t really know where the time went.  I’m going through a rough patch right now, so it’s nice to be able to put together some thoughts about things that are going right.  Not that a puncture is ever right, but I’m excited to celebrate every single milestone available to me.  One day I’m going to look back at this and laugh, because 30 miles will be a quick ride, and changing a flat will be easy!

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.