Thursday, August 25, 2011

How (Not) to Prepare for Your First Triathlon

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With my first triathlon being in two days I wanted to go over my training for it, including what I did right and what I could have improved upon.

How to Prepare for a Triathlon: Practice open water swimming
I did my first and only open water swim while I was at the beach and absolutely loved it, especially the waves. It really made me fall in love with swimming all over again.

How (Not) to Prepare for a Triathlon: Stop swimming and biking with three weeks left until race day
I am not sure what happened but after I came home from the beach my biking and swimming just stopped. I only wanted to run so that is all I did. At least I am a strong swimmer, biking is the problem here.

How to Prepare for a Triathlon: Develop a consistent running base
Lately I have been running higher mileage and 4 times a week since I am also training for a half marathon. My running has never felt stronger or faster than it does now.

How (Not) to Prepare for a Triathlon: Not have an outfit to race in
This is not the biggest mistake I made but I still have no idea what to wear. I will probably just go with a bathing suit and then throw shorts on over. I am really hoping this won't cause chafing.

How to Prepare for a Triathlon: Do brick workouts
I also did a brick workout while I was at the beach. I only biked 7 miles but I ran 4.5 miles for a wonderful brick workout. My legs didn't feel tired at all.

How (Not) to Prepare for a Triathlon: Only do one brick workout
Despite my awesome brick workout at the beach, that was the only one I did while training. I am not sure why but I just didn't get around to it. There were many days where I would run in the morning and then bike at night so I guess that is better than nothing, right?

How to Prepare for a Triathlon: Get in some quality bike rides
I did almost all of my bike rides with my dad while training for this triathlon. I loved having a training partner in my dad and being able to spend some extra time with him.

How (Not) to Prepare for a Triathlon: Not ride any hills even the course is hilly
My plan was to go to the site of the triathlon and ride the bike course to see how bad these hills really are. Well that never happened. I didn't do any hills for that matter. I guess we will see how this works out tomorrow.

How to Prepare for a Triathlon: Learn what foods to eat before training
Over the past couple of months I have learned that eggs and I don't really get along. I also discovered that eating a whole bagel before a race is too much for me to stomach.

How (Not) to Prepare for a Triathlon: Have no idea what nutrition to eat during the race 
Even though I know what I should eat before I race, I never practiced what I should eat during the race. At this point I am not sure if I should even eat anything or not.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Keystone State Sprint Triathlon Goals

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With my first triathlon 3 days from today I thought I would go over what some of my goals are for this race. I don't want to have a lot of expectations going into it since I have never done a triathlon but I still want to have some goals to keep myself motivated. I wanted to break down the goals by each leg of the race in order to make things seem simpler for myself.

Swim Goal 1: Under 20 minutes
I am basing this time off of what other people have done in the past, especially people who I used to swim with. I currently hold a 1:15 pace per hundred in the pool but I know I won't be able to hold that for 800 yards in a lake.

Swim Goal 2: Don't panic
I have only ever done one open water swim and that was at the beach. I have never swum in a lake before, and I have especially never done any type of open water swimming with other people. I know a lot of people have panic attacks when they get in the water but my goal is to rock the swim and not freak out.

Bike Goal 1: Power through the hills
I haven't been training to ride hills so I am hoping the course isn't too hilly. I do know there are some hills though so I want to power up them and not let them ruin my race. I am just going to put my bike in a low gear and take the hills at whatever pace I need to and not worry about how slow I am going.

Bike Goal 2: Sub 1:30
I have only done one 18 mile bike ride before and it was with my dad at a pretty comfortable 12 mph pace. Despite the hills I think I can beat this time.

Bike Goal 3: Negative splits
The bike course is 2 9 mile loops to make 18 miles. I want to do the first loop somewhat conservatively and then really push it on the second loop. I will also be able to determine how bad the hills really are during the first loop and develop and game plan for the second loop.

Run Goal 1: More negative splits
I also want to start the run out conservatively since I have no idea how my legs will hold up after biking 18 miles. I want to run each mile faster than the previous one and finish the race strong.

Run Goal 2: No walking
I normally would have no trouble running the entire three miles but I am not sure how my legs will be feeling. Most of my training has been running lately so I am hoping I can really use this to my advantage.

Run Goal 3: Sub 28 minutes
This would put my run at a 9:00 min/mile pace, which I think is pretty doable. I know my legs will be tired after biking for 18 miles but I am hoping that will be like a warm up for them. A 9:00 min/mile pace is nothing compared to what I have been training at!

Triathlon Goal 1: Finish under 2:15
I really have no idea how this race is going to go so I didn't want to set any unrealistic goals for myself. I am not sure if I will be way under this time, way over it, or pretty darn close to it. I do hope to be under it, although if I am not I will not be too bothered by it.

Triathlon Goal 2: Place in my age group
Last year only 2 girls in my age group did the race so I am hoping not many do it again this year. If a lot of 15-19 girls are doing this race then this goal will be completely thrown out the window. It pretty much is only here now to make me feel better about myself!

Triathlon Goal 3: Finish with a smile on my face
Whatever happens with this race happens. I want to finish proud of myself knowing that I gave it everything that I had. I want to have a great time out there and make sure everyone knows it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Taper Time

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My very first triathlon is less than a week away and I am kind of, sort of freaking out. I haven't been biking or swimming in a few weeks and I haven't been doing strength training either. I thought about not doing the race because I was unprepared but I think that is a pretty dumb idea. I know that after 12 years of competitive swimming I can handle the swim portion and I have been running very consistently for awhile now. I have really nothing to worry about except for the bike leg. I have no idea what the bike course is like except that there are some hills. I have no idea how big or small and I am not prepared at all to do hills. After a few days of self-doubt I realized that there is no reason why I can't do this triathlon. It doesn't matter how fast or slow I am as long as I finish. I am training for something else right now to that takes priority so I shouldn't be too worried about this weekend. At this point I am most worried about the little things. I have never done a triathlon so I don't really know what to expect and that makes me pretty nervous. I am planning on getting there pretty early so I can get everything figured out.

Since I have a triathlon this week I am using it as a rest week for half marathon training. I am not going to do a long run this week or a tempo run, and I am going to focus on getting in some swimming, biking, and running in an easy fashion. I want to feel prepared but I also don't want to kill myself this week with workouts. I am probably only going to do one swim this week, 2 bike rides, and a couple short and easy runs. My goals for the week are to keep everything nice and easy, eat healthy and stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. I am hoping that with all that I will be able to do a somewhat successful first triathlon

Monday, August 22, 2011

A New Running PDR!

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I know I should have written this post on Saturday but I have been super busy with school starting and all so my blogging has been really taking the backseat. My training plan called for a long run of 7 miles on Friday but due to horrible storms I moved the run to Saturday. I have never run longer than 6 miles so I tried to make sure that I spent Friday preparing for my long run. I know a long run for some people is 14-22 miles but this was a pretty long run for me. I made sure I ate healthy foods, drank enough water, and didn't exert too much energy throughout the day. I went to sleep a little later than I had wanted (1 in the morning, yikes!) but I decided to sleep in until 8:45 before I went out for my run. I fueled with yogurt and granola and then headed out to tackle this run.

I didn't want to run with a water bottle so I decided to do two 3.5 miles out & backs. I ran the first one in 36 minutes, stopped by my car to grab some water and then headed out for another 3.5 miles. The second half was faster than the first and I was feeling great until the last mile when the heat started to get to me. I learned I really need to get up early to get my long runs in to avoid the heat. I finished my run in 1:12:42 for a 10:19 pace. I was so happy with this run because I felt strong and fast without running very hard.

I am not logging many miles this week because I have my very first triathlon on Saturday and I want to be well prepared. Half marathon training continues next week though!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to Not Get Injured

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I have done a few posts over the past week or so about how I have been running more consistently. I have really fallen in love with running, especially running higher mileage. Last night I went out for an easy 4 mile run and I wasn't feeling too great. I felt pretty slow, and my shins were bothering me. I made sure to keep my pace slow so I didn't end up in too much pain but by the end of the run my knees and the tops of my feet were also bothering me. I started to panic. I had been feeling so great the past week and was so scared that it was all a fluke. I immediately started thinking of ways to recover so I wouldn't be in too much pain or discomfort to do my long run tomorrow. That was when it hit me. I have not been taking proper care of myself following my runs.

Ever since I got home from vacation I have been slacking a little. My running has been going really well and I have been getting faster, but I have been skipping out on a bunch of other important things. First of all, I stopped icing after my runs. Before I used to have to ice or else I would be in too much pain to run the next time. But once I wasn't in pain after running anymore I stopped icing. While I do not think that it is necessary to ice after every run, I do think it is crucial to ice after any runs that are hard or leave me in any kind of pain or discomfort. Tuesday night I did a hard tempo run and afterwards my knees and shins were bothering me but instead of icing them like I should have I went out for ice cream with my mom. I could have iced when I came home but at that point I was feeling better so I decided that is wasn't necessary. WRONG. I payed for it yesterday during my easy 4 miles.

Another thing I haven't been doing that I should be is cross training. Sure I have done a few non-running workouts here or there but not nearly enough, especially considering I have a triathlon next weekend. (eek!) The best part about cross training is that each different type of workout benefits my running in a different way. Swimming loosens me up and helps build upper body strength, cycling works on endurance, and Insanity really builds up lower body strength. I feel so much better while running when I am hitting my cross training workouts.

I know this may sound crazy, but I do not normally stretch before or after I run. That is something that I really need to change though. I know how important stretching is for the body, since it really made a huge difference when I used to swim competitively. I used to be pretty flexible but I am not anymore since I haven't been stretching. I would also like to add a weekly yoga session if possible to help with stretching.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reexamining My Half Marathon Training Plan

On October 15 at 9:00 in the morning I will start my first half marathon, the Baltimore Half Marathon. I first started training for this race 8 weeks ago, which means that I am around halfway through training. When I started training I really didn't have any goals for myself other than to just finish the race. I have never raced anything longer than a 5K so I really didn't know what to expect for a half marathon. And even though I had a training plan written out I wasn't even sure if I was training properly since I was only running three times a week and pretty inconsistently. Then a few weeks ago I started running four times a week. I was really loving the higher mileage and was feeling stronger. However, I want to re-examine my training and my goals, or lack thereof, now that I am halfway through training. There are certain aspects of training that I need to change in order to reach my new goals for this first half marathon.

Nutrition. In the past, when I was a competitive swimmer, I ate very healthy. I became a vegetarian in order to keep my nutrition under control, and I cut out nearly all sweets and unhealthy foods. Then when I had surgery and had to quit swimming I started gaining weight, partly from not being able to swim or exercise, and partly because I was eating more unhealthy foods. My nutritional habits have especially gone out the window this summer and I really want to get back on track with them. For awhile I was eating hardly any vegetables despite being a vegetarian. All I was eating was carbs and sugary, fatty foods and I gained weight and just didn't feel great. Lately I have been working on developing better nutrition habits because I know how much it will help my training. I want to be eating at least one serving of fruit or vegetables at each meal, be drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, getting at least eight hours of sleep every night, and limiting the amount of junk food eaten, etc. Not only will eating healthier help fuel my body better, but hopefully I will lose some of this unwanted weight that I gained over the past few years.

Running Consistently. I have been running four times a week for a few weeks now and I have been really enjoying it. I feel faster and stronger, and look forward to going on these runs. Next weekend is my first triathlon so I don't want to make any major changes over the next two weeks but I want to start running five times a week. I want each run I do to have a purpose and be helping me train for my half marathon. I will do a post in a few days about my new running schedule, but I want to start incorporating different types of runs into my schedule. I also want to work on heart rate training. When I first started running my heart rate was always really high but lately it has been coming down some. I want to make sure that I am not pushing myself too hard but yet hard enough.

Cross Training. I have been doing a fair amount of cross training in the forms of biking and swimming since I am doing my first triathlon next weekend. However, I have not been too consistent with my cross training because I find the swimming boring and the biking lonely. I used to swim 10 times a week and never have a problem with being bored but that was because I was on a team and was practicing with my best friends. The school I am going to this fall (University of Maryland Baltimore County) has a beautiful long course outdoor heated pool that I plan on taking full advantage of. Plus, I am the vice president of the very new club swim team! I am hoping that being able to swim on a team again will help me regain my motivation and make swimming fun again. Additionally, I am looking into what trails are in the Baltimore area to go biking on. It probably is not the safest for me to go biking alone in a new city that has one of the country's highest crime rates so I am also looking into buying a bike trainer.

Please vote for me, Shannon Mulcahy, to become a member of the Refuel With Chocolate Milk team! I would really appreciate your support! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Please, Please, Please Vote for Me!

I have entered to win a grant from Refuel With Chocolate Milk and I need your votes. My parents don't really support my decision to be a runner or triathlete so it would really mean a lot to me for you guys to vote for me. You can vote once a day until September 15 so please do! Go here to vote!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

6 Miles

Yesterday morning I set out to run my first 6 mile run. This is the farthest I have run so far since this is the first time I am training for something longer than a 5K. When I ran 5 miles two weeks ago I struggled throughout the entire run. It was way too hot, I was dehydrated, and just miserable. After that run I was pretty nervous going into my 6 miler yesterday. I knew I wanted to run it between a 10:44-11:44 pace, which should be doable. I still was really anxious about the run though. I started off at an 11:20 pace, which felt really comfortable. My goal was to stay at a comfortable pace the entire time and not worry as much about speed. The first three miles went by quickly and comfortably, and I was really excited to turn around and head back. My pace kept increasing as I ran but I still felt comfortable so I just stuck with it. With about one mile to go, a man was smoking on the trail. It was a pretty windy day so all of the smoke was blowing in my face for over half of a mile. It was absolutely dreadful and caused me to have a lot of trouble breathing. Overall it was a great run though, and now I am really excited to tackle 7 miles next week!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Running Higher Mileage

When I first started running I was only running 2-3 times a week. I really didn't want to develop any type of injuries and I knew that I had bad knees. I have had some pretty devastating injuries in the past so I knew that I wanted to ease into running and not overdo it. But the more I run the more I love it and want to do more. A few weeks ago I started running 4 days a week and I absolutely love it. I normally do 1 tempo run, 1 steady-state run, 1 easy run, and 1 long run. I have been logging more miles and my body has been loving it. A couple months ago I was getting a horrendous pain in the bottom part of my leg. I thought running less would help the pain go away. As I am running more though I am realizing that the more frequently I run the less pain I have in my leg. I have been running faster too.

I recently found the McMillan Running website. Based on my last 5K it predicted that I should be able to run a 2:11:44 half marathon. The website also provides what times I should be doing my training runs at. There are 8 types of runs that the website says should be included into training: recovery jogs, easy runs, long runs, steady-state runs, tempo runs, tempo intervals, speed workouts, and sprint workouts. Now 8 runs a week is a lot for me, but the website got me thinking that I should be incorporating more types of runs into my training. As of now I do not want to do any kind of speed work or sprinting. I decided to try to get in 5 runs every week, with the additional run simply being a recovery jog. I don't want to push my body too hard but I also want to see what I can achieve.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Home Again

Yesterday afternoon I got home from a wonderful week at the beach with my family and my boyfriend. I had such a great time and am so glad that I had my boyfriend with me for all of it. I ran three times while on vacation, biked once, kayaked once, and did one open water swim. I planned on doing more of each but it was vacation and I got caught up in everything. I did miss my 6 mile long run last week, which was really not good. I am not going to let it get to me though. I had a great day today and am getting recommitted to my training.

I set out to run 3 miles tonight. The goal was to run each mile faster than the previous one, and hopefully run the last mile under 10:00. When I started running I felt great; better than most days. So I ran faster than I planned. But I still felt like I was running pretty conservatively and my heart rate wasn't very high. I ran the first mile in 10:09 and knew it was going to be a great run. The next mile came in at 9:31. I was so excited when I saw this number because that marks only the second time that I have run a miles under 10:00 during a training run. I know I am not the fastest runner but I have been making a lot of progress lately. I tried to push it pretty hard the last mile but my stomach was bothering me from dinner earlier so I ended up with another 9:31. I ran three miles in 28:55, which is the fastest I have run three miles other than in a race. The best part was that I was very tired or sore after finishing. I actually contemplated running another mile but I opted not to because of my stomach.

After I got home I did an Insanity workout: Core Cardio & Balance. This is one of my favorite Insanity workouts because it is somewhat of a recovery workout so it complements my running nicely. Some of the harder workouts leave me too tired to get in a decent run. All of the Insanity workouts are great though and I highly recommend the series for cross training or just getting in shape.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Open Water Swim

Last night I hit the beach for an open water swim. Despite being a swimmer for 12 years, I have never done any type of open water swimming. I wore a cap and goggles and slowly walked into the water not sure what exactly I was going to do. I obviously know how to swim, but add in the waves, murky water, and lots of fishermen I really wasn't sure what my game plan was. I decided to play in the waves until my body was warmed up so I wasn't freezing during my swim. The boyfriend wanted to go kayaking next to me as I swam just in case, which was really comforting. I miss swimming with friends and having people to share in my love of the sport. After a couple minutes in the water I decided to just go for it and see what happened.

I tried putting my face in the water but I couldn't see anything. I didn't freak out though. I actually didn't mind that I couldn't see but I was nervous that a wave would come and crash on me. Luckily for me I have enough swimming strength to swim with my head out of the water and not feel like I'm going to drown. So that is what I did. I still would "breathe" to the side to look for the waves and then look forward to see where I was going. At first I felt really awkward but eventually I got used to it. I decided to swim to the lifeguard stand, which was about 400 yards away. I was getting pretty frustrated because the salt water was really burning my throat. When I made it to the lifeguard stand I took a couple minute break to let my throat calm down some, and then I started swimming back. I was amazed at how challenging it was swimming against the waves and the current. What I was the most unprepared for was how beautiful it was going to be. By keeping my head out the water I could see the sunset over the bay across the street. It was absolutely gorgeous.

I hope to get back in the water for some more swimming throughout the rest of the week. I really enjoyed it and want to get some more practice in the open water.

Monday, August 1, 2011

At the Beach

I won't have much time to post this week since I am at the beach but I registered for the Rock n' Roll USA, otherwise known as the National Half Marathon. If anyone else plans on doing this race let me know! It is March 17 in Washington DC!