Thursday, April 28, 2011

All wet

Today I decided to try my new tri gear in the pool and see how it feels. I would be running immediately after the swim, so I thought it would also be a good chance to see how that felt! You may remember that my mom bought me a whole set of tri gear for my birthday earlier this month.

Well, the swim felt weird. I guess I've gotten really used to swimming in my extremely tight tech swimsuit! LOL I did my 1200 meter swim (100 m warm up, 2 x 500 m slow swim, 100m cool down) and then got out of the pool and dried off. Or I tried to anyway! ;)

I was wet and cold through the entire 4 mile run. Bummer.

I was really assuming this tri gear would be designed to be quick dry, but unfortunately I think it's designed to look cute. Which is OK. I will certainly look cute! I can only hope that it's a nice, warm, June day for the triathlon! :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Big Brick

I've had this training program for the triathlon since Princess 2010. It was there that I was given a free copy of Women's Running magazine, and inside was a sprint tri training plan for runners. I had considered the notion of a triathlon back when I first started training for the half-marathon and had to do "cross-training". But here it was in black-and-white: a plan! And you know how I love plans! :)

But the plan looked intimidating and there was one particular part that intimidated me the most. I referred to it as the "Big Brick". It was the brick workout (remember that's when you go straight from riding the bike to running) that was a 45 minute bike ride and a 15 minute run. Big. Brick. Scary.

Today was the first attempt at that Big Brick. I was apprehensive, but the last 2 bricks went moderately well, so I was hopeful. It's just that I've rarely spent 45 minutes on my bike. It's probably been more than 6 months ago, in fact.

But I did it!! And not just did it, but really rocked it! The bike was a little slower than Sunday's speedy bike ride, because it was my BFF's 2nd time back on the bike since her big accident and I could tell she was a little apprehensive. But the run was speedy quick. In fact, when my Garmin beeped the first mile I said something like "WOWSER!" because we had pulled a 9:36 mile! AFTER riding 45 minutes on the bike! I was stunned. The next mile was 9:33 so it wasn't a fluke.

Obviously I have no sense of pacing when I run after biking. LOL I knew I was breathing hard, but I assumed that it was because I was tired from the bike ride. And I can usually feel when I'm going faster, but the biking first makes me feel like I'm moving in slow motion when I try to run after.

Regardless, I rocked the "Big Brick"!! Can't believe this time next week I'll be halfway done with training!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Triathlon Training: Week 3 recap

I realized that I forgot to recap last week's training! It was a drop-back week (glorious!!) and here is what it looked like:

Monday - swim 1200 yards
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - brick (15 minute bike/15 minute run)
Thursday - 1100 meter swim/4 mile run
Friday - rest
Saturday - 8.7 mile run
Sunday - 8.7 mile bike

Training went really well! Can't believe I'm 1/3 of the way done with training!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lessons from Hills

I have spent the last couple of months meandering my way through Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run. The book is set up perfectly for picking it up and reading a chapter or two whenever I can squeeze them in. And since it's a Kindle Book, and I always have my Kindle with me, I can do that fairly often.

Today I read Chapter 18, Hills. I have been looking forward to this chapter and purposely put the book down yesterday when I knew this chapter was coming next. I wanted to read it with a fresh brain (or at least as fresh as I can have on Easter Sunday when I would be getting up before dawn to get a bike ride in before church). And you see, the reason I wanted to read it with a fresh mind is because hills are my nemesis. And living in Atlanta, Georgia, this poses a problem.

There are few areas that could be considered "flat" where I live. So there are natural hills rolling throughout any training plan that I take on. But there are hills, like in my neighborhood and the local park where I like run, and then there are HILLS, such as the affectionately nicknamed Cardiac Hill at the Peachtree Road Race. I have been intimidated by hills of all sizes since I first began running. I was looking forward to some advice from Kristin Armstrong on how to deal with those hills in my running program.

However, as she has done through the previous chapters in this book, Ms. Armstrong extends the concepts of battling hills from the running world into the realm of our everyday hills - challenges that we all face, be it a cancer diagnosis, a divorce, a job loss, or in my personal situation, an autism diagnosis and/or epilepsy diagnosis. I used the 'notes' feature on my Kindle to highlight this passage:

"The incline ahead is steep and unyielding. So how do we prepare? Running hills gives us some clues. First, we relax - which is hard to do but essential. We cannot make any assessments in a state of panic. Then we remind ourselves and each other that we have strength for climbing. Then we breathe; ideally, we breathe deeply. Then we begin." (p. 191)

I cannot begin to describe how much I was touched when reading this. You see, our family has been living through an immense amount of stress for the last year. I won't go into all of the details here, not only because it would take forever, but also because I don't care to relive each episode. Trust me when I say that it feels like our family has been facing one steep hill after another with very few level stretches to allow us to catch our breaths and regroup. We have been living in the 'state of panic' that Ms. Armstrong mentions, and that makes for some rough times. And I start to feel like giving in, and letting that hill beat me. I feel like I'm running this race all by myself.

A few sentences later, Ms. Armstrong continues:

"We lift our legs and pump our arms and go at our own pace. This is incredibly important. It's so easy to lose heart on a hill when we compare ourselves to those around us. We waste energy by taking our focus off the goal, which is of course going through the hill to the finish, not to it." (p. 191)

Imagine a little light bulb going off in my head. So much of the stress and discouragement during this "hilly" period for our family has been heightened by the feeling that we are not measuring up to others around us. I have fought hard not to do this in my running, I wonder why I would allow myself to do it in the other aspects of my life. Nobody else is running my race. They don't have to - they are running their own races, with their own hills to tackle. I need to run my race, and tackle the hills in my life the same way I tackle them on the trail: "low and slow". When I come to a challenging hill, I put my head down, keep my feet low to the ground to conserve energy, and slow down as much as I need to to manage the climb. If I can apply this technique to the other hills in my life, perhaps they won't seem so daunting.

The other light bulb was the last sentence, about getting through the hill to the finish - not just getting TO it. For me, this meant keeping the understanding in my heart that these hills are not the end point, but only a temporary challenge in the everyday course of life. She points out that the smaller hills are practice for the bigger ones, and the more you practice the fitter you become and the less you fear. This called to mind my Bible verse of the year:

"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." (James 1:2-4 NLT)

So the trouble (hills) is an opportunity for testing, for my endurance to grow (just like in running)? I need to embrace the hills? The parallels between my verse and the following quote from Mile Markers are beautifully clear:

"When we practice enough by running hills, we develop our own rhythms and strategies. The same with life's hills: The smaller ones make us fit for the biggies, and we can maintain our same rhythm. The more we practice, the fitter we become and the less we fear." (p. 192)

I have often said that running has changed me fundamentally. I realize that I am stronger physically than I ever believed I could be. I have made goals and reached them faster than I could have imagined. When I started out running, I wanted to run 3.1 miles without stopping. Then I wanted to run 13.1 miles. And now I have a triathlon and full marathon looming on my horizon. I am strong. Some days it's really easy and some days it's downright awful (like yesterday). So why is is that when it's a rough day out on the road I don't get despondent like I do when it's a rough day with the kids? When autism (or puberty) is the hill du jour and stands before me like a monster why do I want to give up so easily and feel that all is hopeless? Why is it so hard to take the lessons that I have learned from running and apply them to other areas of my life? Why can I remember that God has gotten me through some massive hills before but I fail to trust that He will get me through the next one as we push forward to the finish?

The answer is that there is no reason aside from my foolish pride and stubbornness. I seem to be able to tame those beasts out on the road (more or less). It's time to get a clue and apply those hard-earned, sweat-filled lessons to the other hills that I face!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I never should have said it!

Why did I ever say how strong I felt on Thursday? LOL

Today's long run was awful. My legs did not seem to want to run at ALL! It was almost like they weren't even attached to my body.

I wonder why some runs are so good, and some are like today.

But I survived it... 8.7 miles are done!

BTW, with all the triathlon talk, have I mentioned that the Warrior Dash is 3 weeks from today??

Friday, April 22, 2011

A mini taper madness?

I am really enjoying this whole "drop back" week! I can't believe how strong I felt during yesterday's workouts. I decided to just enjoy it, knowing that next week I'll be in agony again!

Yesterday was a swim and run day. Because it was (once again) a very busy day, I met my BFF at the pool and we did our swim workout and then got changed and went for a run. It wasn't nearly as hard this time, despite the fact that the trail around the aquatic center is one steep hill. We did the trail 4 times (4 miles) which meant that we did that nasty hill 4 times! I've been wanting to get in a little hill work and that did it. It is also very, very nice to have the workout done for the day.

Tomorrow is the long run day, and though it's only supposed to be 45 minutes, I'm going to go ahead and do 8 miles since I haven't done that in awhile. Sunday's bike ride is 30 minutes, but I'll stick with that since it's Easter and I'll have to be up early to get it done before going to church.

Now... you may be wondering what the title of this post has to do with anything. Well, it's this: today I reserved a room at a hotel in southern California for the last weekend of January. Why? Well, in case I need it when I go run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, of course! Do I have any idea how I might afford such a venture: entry fees, airfare, hotel, park tickets, food? Nope. So why did I reserve the room? Just in case I might need it!!

Yeah, I'm going a little crazy! I'm going to call it "taper madness" even though this is only a mini-taper/drop back week. Because otherwise, you might think I'm a maniac or fanatic or something!

Which reminds me... I have another hotel room reserved. For the Rock N Roll Savannah Marathon. This race is a mere 6 days after my very first marathon - the Marine Corps Marathon. Why am I considering doing this to my body? So I can earn Marathon Maniac status, of course. I am still undecided about this race, too, but one thing is certain:

I am not the same person I was 2.5 years ago! LOL
(And my 2.5 year running anniversary was yesterday!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Frankenbike gets a tune-up!

My bike was sounding a little squeaky during Sunday's ride, and after my BFF's accident last Wednesday, I decided that I needed to take the Frankenbike in to the shop for a little TLC. Since the shop that gave her to me is no longer in business, I had to take her to an unknown shop. It's actually quite close to my house, but since I wasn't familiar with them, I had to go on the recommendation of some cycling friends. I had my husband take her over because I just couldn't bear to say goodbye. Bicycle Separation Anxiety? The shop promised to have her back in 24 hours because I had a mini-brick scheduled for Wednesday.

The shop called around lunchtime yesterday and said that Frankie was ready to come home to me! Because I'm trying to save on gasoline, I waited until my older daughter's dance class to pick it up. When I went in, the shop guy was very nice and explained that he replaced something that will make shifting much easier. He said there is still trouble shifting onto the 3rd set of gears, but honestly when will I ever need those?? I was having trouble shifting onto the 1st set before so I'm actually glad that I can easily get onto those now! LOL

I was terribly embarrassed to see how dirty Frankie was when I picked her up. I guess I hadn't paid much attention, but she was quite covered in pollen and dirt. How awful. I gave her a nice wiping down when I got home. :)

This morning's mini-brick went very well. Shifting has never been smoother! And the brakes are doing very well and nothing is squeaking. I do need to learn all the technical aspects of my bike, truly. The shop guy was telling me something that he had done to adjust it and I was just smiling and nodding! LOL But it rides well and that's really all that matters at the moment! I guess I will plan to take her over once a year for tune up and adjusting. After the triathlon is over, I would like to learn how to change a tire, and other similar maintenance stuff.

For now, I'm just glad Frankie is back home where she belongs!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Triathlon Training: Week 2 recap

I had every intention of writing daily recaps, but life just got in the way. I'm not sure why I thought I would have time to train for a triathlon in the spring. Spring is always our busiest season with wrapping up our home school year, and having baseball games and gigs (son and dh by default since he is the coach and driver of the drum gear), dance classes and rehearsals for the recital and glee club rehearsal and recital (older daughter), and ice skating lessons and soccer games (younger daughter).

I made it work this week by getting up extra early and getting my workouts in before anyone woke up. I was at the pool on Thursday morning when it was still dark. That was more than a little bit weird to be swimming, and to look up and out the window and see stars! But it just works easier to have it all done and out of the way before the busy-ness of the rest of our day hits.

This week was hard. In fact, on Thursday the schedule said to do "30-45 minutes" of running and I opted for 30. I was tired. I had just did my swimming workout, and I was tired. I felt like a wimp, but not only was I tired, but I needed to get back home so we could start our school day.

So here is a recap of this week's training:

Monday - 45 minute run/1200 yard swim
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - brick (30 minute bike, 30 minute run)
Thursday - 1200 meter swim/30 minute run
Friday - rest
Saturday - 6.5 mile run
Sunday - 11 mile bike

This coming week is a "step down" week, and I can assure you that I am looking forward to it eagerly! It will be good for my brain and for my body to have a little bit of a break. The brick is shorter, there is only a swim on Monday, and the rest of the running and biking is shorter.

I've been putting my workouts into Dailymile.com (just because I'm a sucker for a spreadsheet/diagram/graph) and it shows I have logged 35 miles this week - biking/swimming/running total. That's just unreal!! No wonder I'm tired, huh? :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another brick in the wall

OK, if you don't know where the post title came from, then there is just no hope for you... or you're probably much, much younger than I am! ;)

Today was my second brick. My BFF and I decided to meet at the park to do the brick so it would be, 1. Cooler than in the afternoon, and 2. Less crowded. I guess half is better than nothing! The park was completely deserted when we arrived, but it was COLD. Over the weekend we had highs approaching 90 with 95% humidity. This morning? It was 44 degrees. And I had wanted to wear my tri gear to test it out on the only brick of the training that has a 30 minute run (the rest have 15 minute runs). Remember, my tri gear consists of a tank top and bike shorts and a skirt. Not exactly what one wears in 44 degree weather! But I really wanted to make sure these shorts wouldn't bug me on a 30 minute run (after having biked). So I wore my zip-up jacket that I bought at Princess 2010, and put on some mittens, and sucked it up.

It was COLD. I mean COLD, COLD. We didn't ride as fast as we usually do because the wind was just beating us up. We made it through, and were going to lock up the bikes (with our new bike locks) when I heard a crash behind me. My BFF had taken a tumble off her bike. She thinks her fingers were so numb that she braked too hard. It was really scary! She was all scraped up, and she hit her cheekbone on the asphalt so it's nice and swollen. And yet, she got up and wanted to continue with the workout! Amazing!!

The running was better because we weren't so cold, but I had forgotten to take a cap or bondi band with me. I put one in my running bag when I got home! Luckily, the bike helmet had mashed down my hair enough so I didn't have to worry about it blowing in my face. It wasn't nearly so hard to run this time. I wonder if my legs were just so frozen that I couldn't feel ANYTHING! LOL But we ran a really fast pace, under 10 minutes. Ok, that's fast for me - slower than molasses for my BFF, but she was post-crash so maybe it was good I was there to slow her down. Or maybe I could say I was being purposefully slow to make sure she didn't push too hard?? Yeah, right! ;)

So today's brick will be remembered as a success - especially since my BFF was wearing her helmet like everyone should be doing when they ride!!! One more busy workout tomorrow and then another rest day! ;)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Woohoo... did it!

Today was "the day" - the last test of my ability to get through this triathlon training. Today I had to fit in a run and a swim around my daughter's all-day activities.

And I did it.

But I'm exhausted.

And I'm really, really hungry. My appetite is all out of whack! LOL

But I did it. And now I'm going to sleep! ;) And it's only 8 PM!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

First week of training complete!

I made it! I survived the first week of triathlon training!!

Today was the long bike ride - but it was just 30 minutes so it was a piece of cake. Went to the park and really enjoyed myself. It was a bit hot, though. We're having a heat wave. :( I think I'm going to have to go riding first thing in the morning like I do with running.

But it's done!! And I lived through it! ;)

Here is a little recap:

Monday - 45 minute run/1100 yard swim
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - "brick" (30 minute bike, 30 minute run)
Thursday - 45 minute run/1200 meter swim
Friday - rest
Saturday - 6.5 mile run
Sunday - 30 minute bike

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I think I need more than 3 hours of sleep before a long run!

Oh, did my body enjoy Friday's "rest day"!! Actually, I wasn't as sore as I expected to be, but it was still nice to enjoy that little respite before the weekend push.

Today was the "long run" day. It wasn't actually all that long, compared to what I've been running with half-marathon training. I did 3 laps at the park which worked out to be about 6.5 miles. I've decided to stick with running the 3 laps each week, or shorter according to the training plan, depending on how I'm feeling that particular day. I'm really going to listen to my body!

It was a slow time, though, compared to what I am usually able to run with my BFF who is a Speed Queen! There are a number of reasons why this might be:

1. It was muggy and icky out. The temperature was 63 degrees and the humidity was 97% at 7 AM when we met at the park. Utterly miserable and way too early in the year for this. I wonder if I have doomed us all to an unseasonably awful summer when I took on marathon training June-October?!

2. I got 3 hours of sleep last night. My daughter had a sleepover and we have a small house, so the girls had to have their sleepover in the living room. My bedroom happens to be right off the living room. At 1 AM, I had to get them to stop being so noisy in the bathroom where I believe they were putting on makeup. At 2 AM, I had to ask them to turn off the TV. At 2:30 AM, I reassured them that I was NOT mad at them, but I really did need to sleep. And then the alarm went off at 6 AM. It was cruel. (I napped for 3 hours this afternoon and could have slept for hours and hours more!)

3. Finally, it could be fatigue from training that caused me to run more slowly. I'm sure that played at least part of the role because even though we were running more slowly, I felt like I was really working hard.

Tomorrow is a "long bike ride" but this first one is only 30 minutes long so I'm not worried. What does worry me is Monday's run and swim, because of my other obligations. But I'll get it done. I think the triathlon nerves must be fading a little bit because I've been able to get some really good sleep the last few nights (well, except for last night's giggly girl experience!).

And speaking of good sleep... that's where I'm heading now...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Brick

Yesterday I got to experience what is referred to in the triathlon world as a "brick". This workout involves biking and then immediately running. I have read that it is important to practice this transition because it can prove to be quite difficult.

Boy, they weren't kidding!!

This first brick was 30 minutes on the bike followed by a 30 minute run. Wow, they don't play around (By the way, I'm not sure if I ever shared, but I'm following a 9 week training plan that I found in a copy of Women's Running magazine). I needed to do this first brick workout in my neighborhood, which is not ideal. The hills in my neighborhood are unpleasant to bike on, and the short distance means I have to go around 4 times just to make 30 minutes. I feel like I'm either pedaling hard (to go uphill) or coasting (to go downhill). But I don't know how to keep my bike safe and secure on the rack on my van if I go to the park. My BFF mentioned getting a lock and locking it up to a bike stand at the park, so I will have to check out the park when I'm there this weekend for a long bike ride and see if that is possible.

The ride was easy enough - for my neighborhood. I'm pretty well used to riding for 30 minutes at a time. I got off the bike, put it by my front door, took off my helmet and replaced it with a ball cap, and grabbed my bottle of water to put at the end of my driveway. And then I took off.

Ok, so "took off" isn't the right word. I'm not sure there are words to describe what it felt like to run right after I rode 6+ miles. My first thought was, "Oh boy, this is NOT going to work." It seemed like I was barely moving, and it was uncomfortable! I couldn't get a good grasp on my pacing at ALL. It literally felt like I was practically walking, and yet I'd look down at my Garmin and find that I was running a 10:00 mile! It was deeply disconcerting.

My right shin was really screaming at me. I was getting really worried about it, wondering if I'd injured myself already on my 2nd day of training. But I made it around the first loop of my neighborhood (about 1.5 miles), and I stopped to get a drink of water. When I started running again, not only did my shin stop hurting, but running in general felt much more normal. It was really bizarre.

Judging by how I felt during my first brick experience, I assumed I would barely be able to walk last night and this morning. But I was surprised that I was able to sleep quite well last night, and the only noticeable body aches were in my back when I tried to stretch before this morning's run - I actually heard my lower back pop in a few places when I bent over! LOL (And by the way... I cannot believe that I had to run again this morning and swim this afternoon! I simply cannot believe that I'm still mobile at this point!).

So now I've done my first brick. 8 more to go before the big race! Next week is the only other brick with a 30 minute run, so I will try my new "triathlon gear". Oh, that reminds me... my mom bought me tri gear from Skirt Sports for my birthday this week! Here are some pictures - I was being a little goofy:

In this one outfit, I can swim...
and bike...
and run!!

Looks pretty cool, doesn't it?? Anyway, since it's the only other brick with a 30 minute run, I figured it would be a good time to try out the new outfit and see how it feels for that long of a run. I will wait to try it out in the pool until the middle of May because I don't want to expose it to the chlorine too much.

This weekend holds a "long run" and a "long bike" - but they won't seem long to me, so I'm hoping that will be good. Everything starts over again on Monday with a run and swim but my daughter has class this time so I'll have to work them in around her schedule. Should be interesting to say the least!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

And so it begins...

Today is the first day of triathlon training! I purposely didn't post the last few days. I was feeling stressed out and scared and overwhelmed and just plain BLAH. I didn't even sleep well last night. I was so nervous!

This morning when I woke up, I was in such a state. I didn't even want to go run at all. I was dreading every minute. I made myself get out, though, and then I made myself take it really easy. That part wasn't hard since I was so sleepy! But I knew that I couldn't use up all of my strength and energy when I had to swim after lunch! I had to run for 45 minutes, which was about what I've been doing the last few months, and I did 4.16 miles.

After lunch, I went to the pool. The kids wanted to stay home this time, and it's a good thing they did. The pool was very crowded due to Spring Break, and I had to wait for a lane. There was a lady ahead of me training for her first triathlon - at Disney over Mother's Day weekend! I forgot to mention ROTE to her, but I got her name and I'm sure I'll see her again at the pool. She made it clear that she did NOT want to share a lane once she got one, so I just waited patiently. Another lady got out of her lane and her friend jumped right in ahead of me. @@ He asked if I'd like to share, which I thought was a little presumptuous since I was in line ahead of him. But I shrugged and said sure.

He was really fast and the water was quite choppy from all the people in the pool. Usually when I go, there are maybe 5 people at the most in the water. I got off to a nervous start, but once I settled down, I realized that this was probably a very valuable experience. I need practice with people around me and water splashing in my face. I decided to go ahead and do a 500 yard set today, for the first time. It went very well. I did a second one and then some cool-down swimming and headed for home.

Well, actually I headed for the grocery store! I was SO incredibly hungry!!!! Not a smart idea - I bought way too much junk. I will start my training eating on Wednesday - my birthday is tomorrow and I intend to splurge as much as I like! :)

I'm very relieved to have this first day behind me. I still have the first brick looming on Wednesday. A brick is where I bike and then run immediately afterward. I know that when I get off the bike, my legs feel like jello. So this is going to be pretty interesting. But I guess that's what training is all about, huh? Doing the hard stuff?? I'll be sure to post when I get done with that one! LOL