Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I Am Me

Sometimes writing is hard for me. I have so much going on inside my head, so much I want to say, but when it's time to write I don't know where to start. I feel overwhelmed, like what I have to say doesn't matter. I love reading blogs and credit it with helping me discover triathlon and giving me an incredible network of strong, fierce female athletes. But blogging has also put me in this never-ending spiral of comparison. At the beginning of the year I started documenting my weekly training. I wanted to be able to look back at what I had done while training for this goal that I've had for so long. Yet, each week I dreaded writing those posts because I never felt like I had done enough in comparison to everyone else. I was afraid that people would scoff at me or criticize me.

After taking a few weeks off of blogging I realized that while I don't want to write weekly posts about my training, I do still want to share my journey. I have enough training logs that I can look back at and see all that I have done in preparation for this ironman. What those logs don't tell are the stories, though. They are filled with numbers. How far I biked, how fast I ran. I do write comments for most of my workouts in my logs but they are only a snippet of my experience.

In these past few weeks I also realized that only sharing my journey from the perspective of my training does not tell the whole story. Yes, this is a training blog and yes, that is what I will continue to focus on. But there are more parts to me that just triathlon and training. I want to be able to use my little corner of the internet in whatever way I want, which right now means sharing in my journey from all perspectives. I recently read Matt Dixon's The Well Built Triathlete and that's when it really hit me how much our lives outside of triathlon affect our training. I can't change the cards that I have been dealt but I can change how I handle them.

For so much time I felt like I had multiple personas. I felt like I was juggling two different lifestyles, in large part because of some of the people in my life. They took from me, chipping away until I couldn't recognize myself anymore. I tried so hard to be the person they wanted because I thought that was what I wanted too. But it never felt natural. Something always felt off. I felt the most like myself when I was training, running with my dreams. It felt like I would take one step forward toward my authentic self, only to be pulled two steps back by someone who was trying to mold me into what he wanted.

Recently I've had a lot of time to think. And now more than ever has it been made clear to me how important it is for me to honor who I really am and what I truly want for myself. The other night I navigated a potentially dangerous road, imagining what my life would look like had I not broken free when I did. I wasn't sure what I was expecting but I knew it was something I needed to do. What happened next was I was overcome with relief, this feeling of freedom. It's hard to realize someone you care about is not the best thing for you, but boy is that statement true. Someone who was supposed to be building me up was instead tearing me down. Imagining this alternate life made me realize how truly destructive things had been.

In an effort to fully embrace who I am, I'm putting back together the pieces of me that were taken, destroyed. I don't want to feel like part of my life isn't good enough because what it all comes down to is that you cannot choose the things you like about people and discard what you don't like. I am me and I will not change that for anyone. I want this blog to be a place where I can say whatever I want. A place where I can share insights into my life, with the hope of maybe inspiring someone. I have been frequently reminded that I am not alone in my feeling like this and I think it is time that we embrace who we are, instead of trying to hide.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Road to Ironman Week 6

One of my favorite parts about blogging is getting to share my accomplishments with all my internet-friends. When not everyone in your day-to-day life understands or cares about endurance sports or triathlon training it makes it challenging when you have something exciting to share. The downside to this, of course, is sharing the failures, missteps and weaknesses. Nobody likes to admit to defeat, especially in such a public format. But for the sake of being transparent and keeping it real around here, I am admitting defeat this past week. I had a rough few days at the end of the week for no real reason other than I was throwing myself a pity party. I was unhappy with myself for missing a workout, then unhappy about my weight, and before I knew it I had sabotaged two entire days of training. I felt like I was trapped inside myself and everything I did, every thought I had only trapped me further. The good news is that I brought myself out of this spiral and am back on track. We all have down days and weeks but what matters is bringing yourself back and allowing yourself to have good days again.

Monday. Strength

Tuesday. 40 min run + 60 min trainer ride

Wednesday. 40 min run

Thursday. strength + 60 min trainer ride

Friday. Rest

Saturday. Rest

Sunday. 60 min trainer ride

Onwards and upwards. Happy training!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Road to Ironman Lake Placid Week 5

This week was all about getting back into the swing of training after being sick. I was only dealing with a head cold but the sneeze attacks continues well into this week. Luckily, I was able to get in most of my training with little side effects. Here's how the week played out:

Monday. I started the week off with 3000 yards of mostly pulling. After being out of the pool for a few days I needed to regain my feel for the water. Nothing exciting but a good first workout post sickness.

Tuesday. 60 minute Gung Ho spin class.

Wednesday. 3,300 yards filled with 36 x 50 @ :45. This was the kind of workout where every single repeat fatigues you little by little until you finish the workout sufficiently trashed. This workout was also a big wakeup call that I need to start pushing myself a lot harder in the pool.

Thursday. Strength + 60 minute Gung Ho spin class.

Friday. This was my first run in more than a week. I waited the longest to run after being sick because of how cold it has been here and I didn't want to risk getting sick again. I ran for thirty minutes grinning ear to ear the entire time.

Saturday we got the biggest snowstorm of the year. I think we ended up with around five inches of snow. I debated all day whether to try to run in it or not but the 20+ mph winds were enough to make me retreat to the trainer. 70 minutes of intervals as one song hard, one song recovery.

Sunday. This run was even better than Friday's run. After almost two months of rough runs I finally had a really solid run that was completely pain free. I took advantage of the warmer weather and ran 45 hilly, happy minutes. A perfect way to end the week.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Road to Ironman Lake Placid Week 4

The universe is funny sometimes. Week 3 was a really solid week that I was happy with. It wasn't perfect but it was a building block upon which I can develop into a stronger and faster athlete. Not only was it physically a good week but mentally I felt ready to do the work and challenge myself. Just when I'm starting to feel in the swing of things I wake up sick. Nothing too bad, yet it still resulted in three unplanned rest days. The good news is that I am finally feeling better and training is coming along swimmingly. Pun intended.

Monday was a really good day for training. I swam 2800 yards and loved it. I also spent some quality time in the gym getting my ass handed to me by the introduction of circuits to my strength routine. Ouch.

Tuesday we finally saw the sun. Normally, I don't mind winter. Actually I am usually one of those people who loves winter. This year it seems like we haven't gotten any snow storms but rather about an inch of snow, rain and ice 1-2 times a week. Needless to say, it has been cloudy more days than not this year and I was starting to forget how nice the sun feels. I ran an easy 4 miles in 35 degree temps and could have sworn it was 65 with the sun out. Seriously, when is spring?

I rounded out the day with 65 minutes of intervals on the trainer at the Gung Ho spin class. I can't even begin to say how helpful these classes have been.

Wednesday was a planned swim but when it was just as sunny as Tuesday I swapped for a run instead. Thirty minutes later and I felt like a whole new person. Cheesy as it may sound, the sun has a real effect on my mood.

Thursday marked the first full day of being sick. I wasn't sure how I would feel over the weekend and couldn't really turn down riding on the trainer with 20+ other people in favor of riding by myself. Class was Valentine's inspired and hands down the most fun I've had while riding the trainer.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I really debated taking the weekend off as all I was sick with was a head cold. I know the rule that you can train easy as long as it isn't in your chest. I made the decision to rest because of a) how tired I was, b) I have trained through colds before and they seemed to take longer to clear up, and c) it is still really early in the season and it is much easier to take a few days off now to recover quicker than it is in June.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Swim Set of the Week: Feb. 16-22

This week's swim set of the week builds upon one from a few weeks ago. I like workouts like this because they give me a chance to measure progress while also building strength and endurance. I did this workout yesterday and loved it. It was hard but doable. By the end I was certainly tired and thanking the swim gods I didn't have to complete any more rounds.

Because it's cold and I miss this pool

200 swim, 200 kick, 200 drill, 200 pull
This is continuous and all easy. 

Pre-Main Set
150 @ 2:30
100 @ 1:40
50 @ :50
50 kick, 100 drill, 50 kick
This set isn't intended to be hard or easy. I think of this as a medium type of set, intending to bring your heart rate up a little and get you ready to work.

Main Set
4 rounds of
1 x 50 @ 1:00
8 x 50 @ :45
Essentially you are doing 36 50's. The first 50 of each round is your recovery and chance to rest. I swam the harder 50's in :36 seconds each, giving me around 10 seconds rest. Choose an interval that you can maintain for all four rounds and gives you 10 seconds rest. These should be at a good clip but not all out.

Cool Down
200 easy

Total yards: 3,300

Happy swimming!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Swim Set of the Week: Feb. 9-15

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Another week, another swim set. I did this on Monday with absolutely no expectations. My swimming has been so up and down this year and thankfully this was one of the good ones. My goal moving forward is to get out of my comfort zone. My crutch in the pool is my pull buoy so I'm trying to get away from using it so much. The only way to make progress is to really push myself and stop acting so scared. At this point in the season I am measuring my swims based on how I feel rather than my times but fortunately I swam fast and felt strong and in control. Double win for Shannon!

So here's the workout. As always, modify intervals accordingly.

Warm Up
200 swim, 200 kick, 200 drill, 200 pull

Pre-Main Set
6 x 50 pull @ :50

Main Set
8 x 150 @ 2:30
Swum as 25 easy, 50 hard, 25 easy, 50 hard
I averaged 1:50-1:54 on these

Post-Main Set
6 x 50 easy @ :50

Cool Down
200 easy, mix of swim and kick

Happy swimming!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Road to Ironman Lake Placid Week 3

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I'm going to call week three a big success, mostly because I finally got my butt to the pool and put my swimming demons to sleep. Well maybe not to sleep completely, but hopefully for a little while. So swimming went well this week. Unfortunately running did not, in the sense that I only ran once. That one run actually went pretty well but running once a week is not enough to train for an ironman. The reason for only running once, though, was that it was nice enough to bike outside. I will trade running for biking outside in February any day of the week!

So here's how the week played out:

Monday was day 1 of my attempt to get back into swim shape. This swim featured lots of mid-distance pull intervals to make up 3200 yards. Overall it wasn't too exciting but to be honest it takes a lot for me to find a swim workout exciting. I closed out the day with a quick functional strength session.

Tuesday marked a mini-breakthrough in the pool for me. This swim was the inspiration for my new weekly series "Swim Set of the Week." The thought of 30 x 50 sounded anything but fun but quite frankly I loved this swim from start to finish. I haven't had one of those swims where you push yourself the entire time, where you're pushing yourself so much you can't comprehend how hard you are working because there isn't enough time before the next interval. This is the type of swim I have craving and man it felt so good.

Tuesday evening was 60 minutes of intervals at the Gung Ho weekly trainer ride.

Wednesday was the one and only swim I did this week but it was a solid run with a lot of work. While these weekly hill interval runs are about building strength while maintaining good running form, it was really nice to see considerably progress over the last time I did this workout. Three cheers for getting faster. Also, it's amazing how tired your legs can get over a four mile run.

Thursday was swim #3 for the week. With 2800 yards, my weekly total was brought up to 9100. A number I haven't seen in quite some time. This wasn't such a great swim but it wasn't as bad as some of my other swims have been this year so I'm calling it a win.

And of course, my evening was spent at the Gung Ho weekly trainer ride.

Friday. After four days of quality workouts my body and my mind were craving some R&R. A gentle yoga class couldn't have been more perfect as it also gave me a chance to stretch out my incredibly tight hips. Seriously, I could barely get into pigeon.

Saturday was day one of two that I was able to ride outside. It was around 40 degrees and while that isn't warm by any means, it was warm enough to tolerate heading outside. I only rode around 12 miles Saturday because my toes went numb during the ride. This was my first time riding in colder weather so I wasn't entirely too sure how many layers I needed. The answer turned out to be two. Two of everything.

Sunday was supposed to in the 50's but instead the temperature barely cracked 40. I was determined to get in more miles than Saturday so I did my best to bundle up. And my toes still went numb. You can't win them all. I made it a little over twenty miles before heading back to my warm car.

Although riding outside wasn't as enjoyable as I had hoped, it was still nice to spend some time on two wheels that weren't on a trainer. What made both of these rides so rewarding was seeing all of the work I have been doing every week manifest itself. It is so easy to lose sight of the big picture sometimes.

In non-training news, this was my first week coaching Girls On the Run. I was a bundle of nerves the first day, never really spending much time with children before. Fortunately all of my girls are super sweet and really excited to be in the program.

The other exciting thing that happened last week was that I have officially been accepted into grad school. I'm beyond thrilled, proud, honored to say that I will be attending Temple University in the fall to pursue a Master's in Kinesiology. This more than makes up for all of the stress I went through last semester. Now I just need to find somewhere in Philadelphia to live.