Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rev3 Poconos 70.3 Training Week 8

And just like that I am over halfway through my training cycle for my first half ironman. Its crazy how fast time is flying for me. I thought being out of school would leave me with more time for things like blogging and reading books but I still haven't finished the book I started back in May. Since I've never trained for a half ironman I can't really say how things are going, I can only say that I feel good. I've had some solid weeks of training and each week can see myself getting stronger and faster. I've had a few slip-ups along the way but no training cycle is ever perfect.

I was at the beach with my family this past week so my training was not ideal. I did what I could while also trying to relax and spend as much time with my family as possible. Since losing my dad I have tried to put extra importance on spending time with the people I love. Training will always be there but I can't say the same for people, even if that only means they move away.

Monday- 21.52 miles biking, 5.43 mile run
Tuesday- rest
Wednesday- 4.6 mile run
Thursday- 23.29 miles biking
Friday- 7.1 mile run [2 x 15 min @ 10k pace]
Saturday- rest
Sunday- 23.11 miles biking

67.92 miles biking
17.13 miles running

With nationals two and a half weeks away my immediate focus is on getting in some more quality workouts before I start my taper. While I have been doing longer rides my runs haven't been where they should for 70.3 training. Since nationals is an olympic distance triathlon my primary focus is on speed and intensity and afterwards I will switch to more endurance leading into Rev3 Poconos.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rev3 Poconos 70.3 Training Weeks 6 & 7

Time has been flying by for me and somehow I am already almost halfway through training for my first half ironman. Whaaat?! Right now I am holed up in the condo my family is renting in Chincoteague, Virginia for the week. As per usual after only one day at the beach I look like a lobster. I brought my road bike down for the week and am so glad I did. It is so flat here!

Anyway, I thought I would pop in with a quick training update since I raced last. The week following the race was on the lighter side with a few harder efforts tossed in here and there. I tried to listen to my body and make sure I felt recovered before jumping into anything too crazy.

Monday- rest
Tuesday- 2000 yd swim, 11.3 miles biking, 2.25 mile t-run
Wednesday- yoga, strength
Thursday- 2.26 mile recovery run, core, yoga
Friday- 1200 yd OW swim, 12.4 miles biking
Saturday- 4.7 mile track run
Sunday- rest

3200 yards swimming
23.7 miles biking
9.21 miles running
7 hrs 20 min

Last week was my biggest training week ever, with a new weekly PR for swim yardage and bike mileage. I was certainly tired by the end of the week but I felt better than I expected to. Last week left me really excited to put in a few more big weeks before nationals to see what my body is capable of.

Monday- 4300 yd swim, 4.12 mile easy run
Tuesday- 2300 yd swim, strength
Wednesday- 3200 yd swim, 31.32 miles biking
Thursday- yoga
Friday- 21.01 miles biking, 1200 yd OW swim, strength
Saturday- 39.92 miles biking, 3.2 mile t-run
Sunday- rest

11,000 yards swimming
92.25 miles biking
7.32 miles running
13 hours 5 min

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rev3 Poconos 70.3 Training Week 5

And just like that it's already July and five weeks of training have flown by. I hate how fast the summer goes by each year but I love being able to get in some quality training without having to worry about school. Something about summer just makes my heart happy.

Week 5 was a mix of a recovery week from hosting my first 5K, resting up for my first triathlon of the season, and trying to still get in some solid training.

Monday- Glorious rest. Had I not been racing this week I would have tried to get some kind of workout in but my mind and body were exhausted from the stress of the weekend and I knew that the extra rest could only be a good thing.

Tuesday- I wasn't sure how my legs would feel after working and racing on Sunday and then doing a track workout on Tuesday but they held up pretty well. I did 12 x 200 at my sprint triathlon race pace as a way to get my legs moving without taxing them too much. 7 miles later I was much more confident about my upcoming race.

Wednesday- What was supposed to be a 21 mile bike ride with 1500ft of climbing turned into a 28 mile ride with 2500ft of climbing thanks to my poor navigational skills. I started the ride tired and ended it completely exhausted. It was a lot of climbing (for me) on already beat up legs and not the kind of ride I wanted to have mere days before a race.

Thursday- Continuing the theme of the week, Thursday was not so stellar either. I don't remember anything about my swim except I felt like I was flailing the whole time. 2600 yards later I was ready to be done. Once again, I wasn't sure how my legs would feel after two harder days but I set out for a super easy recovery run in the evening. I felt anything but fresh but it was actually nice to get out there and not have any pace expectations.

Friday- Knowing I was still pretty tired I opted for an hour of gentle yoga, and boy was it needed.

Saturday- In the past I have taken the day before races off but I wanted to try getting in some easy yardage on Saturday. Since swimming takes so little out of me I figured it would be fine. I finally felt good in the water, but more importantly I felt recovered and ready to race. Plus only swimming 1600 yards is something I could get used to. It FLEW by.

Sunday- Race day! You can read the full report here but the short version is that I PR'd the course and each distance, set a stand alone 5K PR by 50 seconds, won my age group and finished second overall (it was a women's only race).

Monday, June 30, 2014

York YWCA Y-Tri Sprint Triathlon Race Recap

My first real triathlon of 2014 is in the bag! After the swim being cancelled at the Columbia Triathlon I was feeling a little more nervous and anxious about this race than I wanted to. I have been training hard but my focus has been more on building endurance than speed so I didn't know I would fare in a sprint triathlon. I took some time the night before to go over the training I had done to remind myself that I was well prepared to have a strong race.

Race morning started with a 5:45 wakeup call. I feel lucky that this race is only 5 minutes from my house because I can sleep in some and don't have to worry about traveling or parking. I ate a small bowl of oatmeal before finishing getting everything ready to head out the door by 6:30. Check-in and setting up transition were pretty uneventful, which is how I like it. I could feel the nerves building but I wasn't all that stressed out.

Around 7:30 I hopped in the pool to get in a warmup and just didn't feel great. My heart rate was super high and I was jittery from the nerves. I had a specific warmup planned that I bailed on in order to try to get myself to calm down some. Unfortunately I wasn't able to relax all that much. At 7:45 there was a pre-race meeting explaining how the swim would work (serpentine swim- do two laps in each lane, starting at the left side of the pool, going into each lane until you are at the other side of the pool).

Swim (500 yards)
As expected from my warmup, I didn't feel great during the swim. I felt all over the place and like I just couldn't get my shit together. After a few laps like this I eased up a little and focused more on my stroke. I know from past races that starting the bike with too high of a heart rate is not good for me so I didn't want to waste any energy fighting the water.

Although my swim time was 10 seconds faster than last year I am pretty disappointed with how this went. I have made a lot of progress in the pool since last year and was expecting to shave more time off. I just hate that my performance does not reflect my training. I like seeing progress and was hoping for more. I am glad this was my only pool swim this season though. I definitely like being out in the open water better.

Swim + run to T1: 7:29 / 1st AG / 3rd overall
T1: :48

Bike (15 miles)
I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to run from the pool to the transition area without feeling nauseated as I have in the past. I quickly threw on my helmet and shoes, grabbed my bike and was on my way. I want to say for anyone who is considering doing this race in the future that while the bike course is challenging, it is beautiful and the volunteers out on the course are great. There are two bigger climbs in the first half of the course but you can easily make up speed during the second half. Another perk of living so close to this race is that I do a lot of training on the course. I am not the best at cornering so being able to get out there and practice the challenging turns makes a huge difference for me.

So like I said, the first half of the course is definitely the harder half. I really didn't feel all that great and was nervous about how the rest of the race would play out. I was struggling more than normal on the hills but felt strong on the flatter sections. The first third to half of this race was a struggle between trying to ride as hard as I could and trying to not overdo it since I wasn't feeling great. I kept reminding myself that this was a race and I shouldn't feel comfortable.

Somewhere around two-thirds of the way done I was starting to feel considerably better and decided to try to push the pace some. I wanted to be risky with this race and really try to push myself. If I blew up on the run I would deal with that later. With about 10 minutes of riding left I took a caffeinated gel and realized that I hadn't had that much to drink. This is something I need to work on moving forward because the races are only getting longer and staying hydrated is more important.

Bike: 52:58 / 17.3 mph / 1st AG / 4th overall
T2: 1:04

Run (3.1 miles)
Coming off the bike I was the first female. Unfortunately this is not the same as being in first place. Because the swim is seeded based on your projected swim time and is a staggered start, you don't know exactly where you sit place wise until after quite a few people finish the race. Being a stronger swimmer I was second coming out of the water and first coming off the bike. Going into this race my goal was to PR and if it was in the cards, to win. It's hard to try to win when you have no idea who is there and how they are doing.

After arriving back in transition I put on my racing flats (first time wearing them in a race!) and had an "oh shit" moment. I had no idea how my legs would hold up on the run and I wasn't sure if I was ready to find out. Because of training for a half marathon last year I had a lot of speed work under my belt in the few months before this race. This year I logged somewhere around 200 less miles with only a handful of speed workouts. Needless to say I was nervous about what kind of run split I would put up.

All of the run seems to blur together for me but I remember wondering if I was pushing too hard during the first mile. I decided not to wear my garmin so I wouldn't be freaked out by running a faster than normal pace so I had no clue how fast or slow I was actually running. It was just me out there on the streets so I couldn't gauge how I was doing either. During the second mile I was starting to get tired. I kept telling myself to get to the third mile and then I was in the home stretch but the second mile never seemed to end.

Around the start of the third mile was when I could see some of the other athletes. Most of the last two miles is an out and back so I was checking to see how far back the other women were. Because there was also a duathlon and a relay it was hard to tell who was competing in what but I knew that there were some fast running ladies behind me and I needed to get a move on it.

I ran with every ounce of energy I had left until I crossed that finish line. The last little bit of the run is on a gradual hill before entering the track to complete half a lap. By the time I got to the track I closed my eyes and willed my legs to go as fast as they possibly could, which at this point couldn't have been very fast.

Run: 23:38 / 7:37 / 2nd AG/ 4th overall

After finishing it was time to play the waiting game. I ended up finishing second, which at first I was pretty disappointed about but now I am okay with. I raced strong and hard and wouldn't have caught first place had my swim been faster or had my legs felt fresher during the first half of the bike. In the end I came to race and put up a fight, and that's what I did. I PR'd each distance and set a standalone 5K PR by 50 seconds.

Finish time: 1:25:57 / 1st AG / 2nd overall

Next up is a couple easier days before jumping back into training with a big build block before my next race- USAT AG nationals in August!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rev3 Poconos 70.3 Training Week 4

Somewhat similar to the previous weeks, week four was full of ups and downs. That's the beauty of training though. Races are full of ups and downs and never go perfectly. The more you can handle it in training the better you will do come race day.

Monday- Due to a jam packed weekend and some nasty weather I wasn't able to get my long ride in until Monday. I switched up my nutrition plan for the ride and focused on holding a steadier pace. The result was feeling strong and like I could have continued instead of bonking during the last 10 miles. I ended up with 40 miles at a comfortable 15.2 average.

After riding I went to the pool to do some active recovery. I definitely didn't feel fresh but I felt much better than I was expecting. 1600 yards later my legs felt good and shaken out.

Tuesday- I woke up Tuesday to the first of many heat waves on the East coast. Temps were expected to climb into the 90's so I used it as a chance to log some miles in the heat. I don't handle the heat very well and typically try to avoid racing in it but as we all know the weather can be unpredictable. I went over to a local lake with trails for an easy 30 minute recovery run. By the end it looked like I had just stepped out of the shower.

Wednesday- Typically Wednesday's my day to sleep in and not worry about getting in a morning workout and this week was the same. I did 2600 lunch time yards including a race effort 500 clocking in at 6:05. By the end of the summer I will be swimming sub 6:00 500's, just you watch.

Wednesday is also my weekly group ride. I knew we were going to be doing a hillier ride but I wasn't planning on logging so many miles. We covered 30 miles with 2000 feet of climbing that included two category four climbs. I haven't done climbs like that in almost a year and as hard as they were it felt good to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Thursday- Sticking with the theme of one harder or longer day followed by a recovery day, Thursday was pretty light. I started the day with an hour of gentle yoga and ended it with 40 minutes of super easy running.

Friday- I had plans of biking and swimming but my mom's back went out so I had to stay home and take care of her. Not ideal but boy was I glad to have already logged some good miles earlier in the week.

Saturday- Luckily my grandma and aunt were visiting so I was able to sneak out for a run in the morning. I was going to try to do a brick but it was just starting to rain and I didn't want to chance the roads being slick on some of the downhills near my house. Instead I ran for an hour at a comfortable but not easy pace.

Sunday- Surprise, I ran a 5K! Actually I planned and organized a local 5K that I ran after working packet pickup Saturday and setting up for all Sunday morning. The race was held in memory of my dad with the proceeds benefitting the American Heart Association. As of Monday we raised a little over $14,000 dollars and 200 runners came out for the race.

I wasn't sure whether I was going to do this race "for run" or actually try to race it. In the end I kind of did both. I ran the entire thing with a good friend of mine. We finished in 26:XX, which for a grass 5K on almost no sleep is good enough for me.

Now I'm gearing up for another race, my first triathlon of the season since the Columbia Triathlon became more of a duathlon. This week is all about catching up on sleep from the weekend and taking care of my body.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Little Bit About My 70.3 Training Plan

The title of this post may be misleading as I am not following a training. Nor am I working with a coach. This may sound crazy but it is the best thing for me and my training. That said, I am not completely winging training.

You may be wondering why I am not following a pre-made training plan as there are so many free ones out there. When I first signed up I looked at some of these plans but none of them felt right for me. I felt like I would need to change too much to accommodate my needs. For example, as a former swimmer my swimming is still pretty strong and a typical workout is somewhere around 3,000 yards for me. The majority of the plans didn't have me reaching this yardage until nearly the end of the training plan. I also didn't like the idea of having to rearrange because of travel and other obligations this summer.

When it comes down to it, pre-made plans are great for beginners who don't really know where to start but in my opinion they are not always a good idea. Because they are pre-made they don't take into account your strengths and weaknesses as an athlete or your prior injury history. They can be good guidance tools but I think when training for something of this magnitude it is important to make your plan as specific to you as possible.

As I mentioned I am traveling some this summer. Not much, but I am going to the beach for a week in July and making the drive out to Milwaukee for nationals in August. These plus things like weddings and birthdays have nearly eliminated certain weekends for training. What I did before training started was I sat down with a blank calendar and wrote in for each week how long my long ride and long run would be. I did this to keep me on track with the two workouts that may be the most important during training. I also took into consideration that there's a possibility not every long ride or run will happen. Shit happens and I am doing my best to be prepared for it.

From Monday's long ride

Luckily for me I was able to schedule my recovery weeks during my busier times this summer. What I've been doing so far is writing down what workouts I want to do in the weeks before my next recovery week. I include the specifics, so instead of saying swim 3,300 yards I actually write the workout down. Then on Friday or Saturday of the preceding week I take those workouts and schedule them for each day. I also make tweaks if I am behind or ahead on something. If I missed a run the previous week I might swap a swim for a run since swimming is my strength and running is my weak sport. I only look ahead 3-4 weeks because I really can't know where my training is going to be in three months.

Each week of training has been pretty different so far but I am aiming to get in 2-3 swims, 3-4 bike rides, 3-5 runs, 2 strength sessions and 1 yoga class each week. My riding and running are definitely my weak spots so I have been trying to give them some extra attention. I've been doing one harder effort run each week and hillier bike rides. For now I am choosing to include strength training because I can notice a difference with it. I feel stronger in all three sports but if at any point it changes into an inhibitor I will reduce it or eliminate it. I am also including a weekly yoga class because I am the worst at stretching and this is the only way I get it done. The class is basically just an hour of stretching so it doesn't take away at all from my other workouts.

This warrants a post itself but I have also been paying extra attention to my nutrition and recovery. I've half-assed both of these things in the past and finally decided enough was enough. When I am scheduling my workouts for the coming week I am also including what recovery measures I am going to take. After a track workout I may write foam roll and compression socks. I know it sounds a little ridiculous to schedule these things but it is the only way I get them done.

My kind of recovery

Before I go to bed I also plan out my nutrition for the next 1-2 days. I play around with things to make sure I am eating a variety of foods and getting enough carbs and protein. Doing this makes it super easy when I come home from a hard workout and would normally just grab anything I can find. Now I check what I have planned, which I have usually forgotten since I planned it, and actually get excited about eating something real and that my body needs. Again, this may sound overboard but as someone who has a tendency to overeat and make poor nutrition choices this has been a game changer.

I think that's really about it. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rev3 Poconos 70.3 Training Week 3

This week flew by. I feel like I say that every week but it's true. Time has been moving so fast lately. Before I know it it's going to be September 14th and race day.

I tried to pay more attention to the little things this week and it showed. I'm working on a post about the changes I've made to my diet and fueling for workouts. It really is incredible how much better properly fueled workouts feel.

When I was working on my training plan for this summer I debated whether or not to include strength training as training for a half ironman is plenty of work on its own. So far I like the strength I've gained and can't really justify omitting it.

Anyway, this is how the week played out.

Monday- I had plans to go to the track but had to make an unexpected trip down to my apartment that ate up the whole day. A rest day after my first real long ride of half ironman training was certainly welcomed.

Tuesday- Strength training with some new buddies at the gym followed by a quick 40 minute progression run in the evening.

Wednesday- 3200 yards of hard 100's for lunch. I've done my fair share of hard swim workouts over the years but haven't been really pushing myself that hard lately. I wanted to challenge myself so I did 8 x 100 free on averaging 1:12 followed by 8 x 50 free holding :33 on little rest. I closed out the day with the Gung Ho women's ride of 22.33 miles of riding with ~1300 feet of climbing.

Thursday- After a long day of training on Wednesday an hour of yoga felt absolutely amazing.

Friday- Friday was a struggle for me. Despite the crazy weather I managed to get in 1700 yards of swimming followed by strength training.

Saturday- Somehow I hadn't ridden the course for my upcoming triathlon that is practically right outside my house so that's what I did on Saturday. It was crazy windy and at one point I was actually afraid of blowing over. I still managed a solid 14.5 miles of riding before heading to my best friend's bridal shower.

Sunday- It was a bit cooler here on Sunday so I took advantage of the weather and slept in a little before getting in my run. Most of my runs are done on a flat rail trail but since the run course of my half ironman is pretty hilly I decided to start incorporating more hills into my runs. 8 miles with the last 2 all uphill and my legs were toast.