Sunday, July 29, 2012

Keystone State Tri Training Week 2

After a hectic weekend I was in much need of some sleep. I decided not to do a workout in the morning in favor of some glorious hours with my comforter and pillow. After catching up on sleep I headed to the track for five miles. I did 7x 400 hard, 400 recovery. I died a little bit but was still faster than last week. It constantly amazes me how much progress I'm making lately. I sure am loving it though.

After sleeping in on Monday I was ready to hit the ground running on Tuesday. I went to the gym for 50 minutes of strength training followed by yoga. I was a little sore after Monday's track workout but going to yoga really made a big difference.

I took the opportunity to head up to Pinchot State Park, the location of my upcoming tri, to preview the bike course. I rode only one of the required three loops because each loop is pretty hilly and right now I still need to take baby steps. Despite the hills the ride wasn't quite as rough as I was expecting. Then in the evening I went out for an easy 2 mile recovery jog. Nothing fancy, just some active recovery.

Thursday morning I woke up to storms which lasted the entire day. I went to yoga but was unable to get in any other workouts due to the weather.

Friday morning I went back up to Pinchot for another bike ride. Despite my struggle last time this ride was wonderful. It flew by and I was smiling the entire time. Afterwards I laced up my sneaks for a 2 mile transition run. In the evening I went to the gym for some strength training with my boyfriend after a delicious dinner out.

Rest day!

I woke up early before we left for vacation for a 4 mile hilly run through my neighborhood. It was terribly slow since I had only had four hours of sleep but I did pretty well on the hills still. Then my boyfriend and I went for a run in the evening making my total 7.25 miles for the day.

Weekly Totals:
  • Biking: 19.57 miles
  • Running: 16.25 miles
  • Strength: 50 min
  • Yoga: 60 min
  • Total Hours: 8 hours 3 min

Friday, July 27, 2012

More Hills

This morning I headed back up to Pinchot for some more hill work. I felt more mentally prepared this time and as a result the ride was quite enjoyable! This time the ride started out with a pretty big hill. I was dreading this hill but it ended up not being nearly as bad as I had anticipated. Don't get me wrong, it still kicked my ass, but it didn't kill me.

The rest of the ride was mostly rolling hills with one another pretty big hill somewhere in the middle. This hill was also not as bad as I had thought it would be. I still have a lot of work to do but I am starting to feel confident about this upcoming triathlon. It's amazing what a little practice will do!

After the ride I hopped off my bike and quickly changed into my running gear. I did two easy miles for my first brick of this training cycle. At the beginning of the run when things felt weird I kept telling myself to pretend I was running my warm down lap at the track. That seemed to help a lot.

Then I picked up the pace a little during the second mile to a slightly faster also comfortable pace. I payed no attention to my watch, just running by perceived effort. This seemed to work well since my second mile for was thirty seconds faster than what I thought I was running.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Never Accept Defeat

This whole triathlon thing has presented me with a lot of challenges, some more welcomed than others. As a former swimmer I only had to get over fears of swimming in dark, murky waters. Even running isn't too bad. I may not be the fastest runner but I feel comfortable during most runs. That leaves cycling. I am a complete newbie and even though I have been making progress I still have a lot to learn. I also have a lot of room for improvement.

After a tough ride on Sunday with my boyfriend I started questioning why I even cared about the sport of triathlon since I am so bad on a bike. I was angry and thought there was no point in trying since I was hopeless. Then my boyfriend said something to me that is common sense but something that I needed to hear from someone else. He reminded me that I hadn't even been riding for a year so I couldn't expect myself to keep the same pace as someone who has been riding for 5+ years.

When I was swimming I felt so at home and at peace with myself. Sure I had tough, challenging workouts but I still knew relatively how to tackle them successfully. I hadn't experienced that struggle of the unknown and doing something new in over ten years. I pushed myself constantly in the pool and I push myself on runs now, but not in the way that I have to push myself on the bike. It is pretty hard to explain but it is a real struggle for me.

After that ride on Sunday I was terrified about whether I could complete the bike portion of my upcoming triathlon. It has a lot more hills than I am used to. I knew, though, that the only way to get better at hills was to practice climbing. This morning as I was riding part of the course I experienced many emotions. At times I was all I love cycling, I could do this all day! and then when it was time to start climbing the negative thoughts would creep back in.

Once I was done the ride, though, I felt stronger than on Sunday. I started to think that with some serious hill work I can do this ride. I really have nothing left to lose by trying and I know that if I don't try I will regret it big time.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Holy Hills

Yesterday afternoon my cyclist boyfriend and I set out to do a 37 mile bike ride with way more climbing than my legs are used to. I think it was because of my lack of sleep over the weekend but my legs were pretty tired from the beginning. I tried not to think about the distance and instead just focused on what we were doing at that moment. This was only my second ride out on the road so I was still pretty nervous. I told him we needed to take the ride slowly so I could use my energy on the hills, not maintaining a fast pace.

Not far into the ride we were greeted with a closed bridge. We were able to carry our bikes over the bridge and keep going. Unfortunately, though, that was only the first of four closed roads/bridges we ran into. Soon enough we were following a map on our phones rather than the cue sheets we had printed off. Because of the road closures we ended up on some pretty busy roads with constant traffic. We made the decision to cut the ride short so we could get off those roads and not get lost.

The ride itself really wasn't too hilly, it was just the1.5 mile climb at the bottom of my neighborhood back to my house that really did me in. I made it almost the whole way but had to walk my bike a tiny section because I couldn't get clipped in. I was extremely frustrated and felt defeated on this hill. I started panicking about my upcoming triathlon and how I am supposed to handle 1,000+ ft of climbing when I am struggling with only 600+.

My boyfriend noticed how upset I was and suggested I try to ride only that hill a few times a week for practice. I am going to spend more time riding on the road and even try to drive out to the race site to practice riding on the course some. I have five weeks to become somewhat successful at climbing hills. Let's go!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Keystone State Tri Training Week 1

Ran 6.5 miles in the morning. It was really humid out and my legs felt incredibly heavy. Definitely should have a done a shorter run as my first run since my tri. The run was terribly slow but good mental training I guess. In the evening I went to my first group ride! We rode about 28 miles in around 2 hours. I'm not sure because of stops but I was pleasantly surprised with how fresh my legs felt after a rough morning.

After a long day of workouts on Monday my body was craving it's weekly yoga session. My legs were a little tighter than normal but felt a million times better afterwards. I had a track session scheduled for Tuesday night but was really nervous because my legs still were feeling pretty heavy. I decided to go anyway & just see how my legs felt. To my surprise they showed up ready to run fast. I did 1 mile warm up followed by 4 rounds of a 400 sprint & 800 recovery. My 400's were 1:40, 1:38, 1:36, 1:36, all faster than the last time I did this workout!

After two tough days of workouts I gladly welcomed an easier day. I was supposed to swim but storms had the pool closed all day. I ended up moving my swim to Friday and just doing only my strength workout. It was my first time in the gym in awhile and I was definitely sore Thursday morning. I have two strength workouts that I'm alternating between but I think I still need to modify them some based on what is available at the gym.

More storms were in the forecast for most of Thursday so I knew if I wanted to get in any workout outside it needed to be in the morning. I did a slow 3.5 mile easy/recovery run before going to my yoga class. I felt really sluggish during the first mile of the run but then my legs started to loosen up. Despite the slow legs I have been really enjoying running lately, which is a complete 180 from how I felt about it a few months ago. Good timing considering marathon training coming up.

Friday was yet another rainy day. I had no desire to run in the rain and biking in the rain can be pretty unsafe so it ended up being a swim day. I was surprised how off I felt in the water. I can't really explain it but I certainly didn't like it. Hopefully next time will be better.

Saturday was spent relaxing by the pool and enjoying summer. All in all it was a perfect rest day.

My boyfriend decided he wanted to take me on a ride so I could get more experience on the road and climbing hills. Despite the rest day my legs were feeling tired and heavy from the beginning of the ride. We planned on doing 37 miles but cut it down to 22 miles because of multiple road closures and my cranky legs. I still have a lot of work to do but I still have a few weeks before my next tri.

Weekly Totals
  • Swimming: 1,800 yards
  • Biking: 50.08 miles
  • Running: 14.02 miles
  • Strength: 45 min
  • Yoga: 2 hours
  • Weekly Totals: 9 hours 25 min

Friday, July 20, 2012


After running the RNR USA Half Marathon I lost all motivation to run. Whenever I would try to hit the pavement I felt ridiculously sluggish and just overall miserable. After a few terrible runs I decided to take a running hiatus. I ran only 3-4 times between April to June before I was ready to lace up my Brooks again. Since I started running more regularly I have completely fallen back in love with it. I'm honestly not sure that I really loved running when I first started, I just told myself that I did. I desperately wanted to be a runner, to have an identity and a sense of belonging that I suffered through training. I wouldn't even call it training. I hardly ran before both of my half marathons simply because I dreaded training so much.

So why would someone who doesn't like running sign up to run a marathon? I wanted more of a challenge. The half marathon distance wasn't daunting enough for me to ever really commit to training. I knew I could still finish the distance on minimal training because of my athletic background. Instead of worrying about training for a marathon I focused on triathlon instead. I knew that I could run the 10K portion of an Olympic triathlon pretty easily, but I was pretty worried about how successfully I could do the bike portion. Once I started feeling more comfortable on the bike I slowly started adding in some running. I have still had some less than pleasant runs but in general I'm am so much happier with my running. I did make a lot of changes to the way I run though, which I credit to my new found love of the sport.

Happy face!

Emotional Investment
I didn't know this was a problem until I started triathlon training but I wasn't fully invested in training for my first two half marathons. I never had OMG I'm so excited feeling about those races. When I started training for the General Smallwood Triathlon I started to truly care about my training. I wanted to succeed and that was enough to make me want to run again.

This goes along with emotional investment, but I have never been so excited about my training as I am now. I love triathlon training and can't see where that takes me. And on top of that I start training for the greatest race in the world in a few weeks, one that has been a dream of mine for a long time.

Running with music
I'm not exactly sure why I decided to start running with music again but I am so glad I did. Running doesn't seem so serious anymore. Instead it is kind of like a sweaty jam session. I desperately need new music but just putting in my headphones and zoning out during my runs has made the time go by so much faster and has made tough runs seem a little easier. I don't want to get in the habit of doing all my runs with music so that I don't become dependent on it but it if does the trick I'm going to stick with it.

Speed work
I'm pretty sure the first run I did after my hiatus was a 5K time trial. I spent a lot of time worrying about hitting certain paces before that I never really let my body go fast. I was scared by certain paces but now I'm learning to embrace them. I have learned to absolutely love going to the track for a hard workout. I feel so powerful and fast, and it makes the easier runs seem less boring because I'm switching things up.

No pressure
When I was training for my half marathons I felt this constant pressure to run. I felt guilty when I would do anything other than run. When you are training for a triathlon you have to focus on the swim and bike legs additionally. Running was no longer so important. If I didn't want to run it didn't matter because I could bike or swim instead.

It is really hard to make any progress when you only run here and there, which is what I was doing. Then I would get frustrated by my lack of progress. Silly, I know. When I started running again in June I made a decision to run 2-3 times a week. This isn't very much but having those runs and being able to build upon them made a huge difference.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why I'm Incorporating Yoga & Strength Training Into Triathlon Training

Since posting my approach to training for my second triathlon I have been asked why I am including yoga and strength training into my plan. Why not just swim, bike, run? Let me explain.

The yoga class that I go to on Tuesday & Thursday morning's is a stretching based yoga. At the end of class we do some strength based poses but for the most part it is all stretching all the time. It is well known that runners need to stretch after working out but I find it difficult to actually take the time to stretch. I would rather take a shower and eat a big sandwich than stretch. Yoga incorporates stretches that I wouldn't normally think to do and the instructor in always finding ways for us to increase the stretch when we need it. Stretching helps maintain our range of motion, which helps us get faster and develop more power.

Additionally, yoga helps build balance which helps prevent injuries. Many athletes have imbalances and doing balance balance exercises can really with these. Balance also increases your mobility and flexibility, which as mentioned above helps us get faster and develop more power. Yoga also helps quiet my mind. I don't have to push myself while doing yoga but rather can relax and enjoy just being. Yoga certainly isn't for everyone but I have noticed a difference in my running, my recovery, and my mindset since starting.

Strength Training
I have only been to the gym to lift a few times but I know how beneficial it is. The first time I dabbled in lifting was a few years ago when I was still swimming competitively. I was coming off of an injury and needed to start strength training in order to stabilize my shoulders and rebuild the muscle I had lost from having surgery. I was amazed at how much stronger I felt in the water after only a few days. It is important when doing strength training to focus on the big muscle groups because those are the ones that get used the most both in training and in every day life. It is also important to strengthen the stabilizer muscles to help prevent injury.

Strength training can help increase speed and endurance in running and hill climbing on the bike. I am a weak cyclist and even weaker hill climber so strengthening my legs and core is a must if a want to see improvements. The great thing about strength training is that it benefits swimming, biking, and running. You use you legs in all three sports and even if you don't realize it you are also using your arms and core.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Track Tuesday

After two tiring workouts on Monday my body was pretty tired yesterday. In fact, it still is. I went to yoga yesterday morning and had a track workout scheduled for last night. My legs felt so sluggish just walking around my house that I was really doubting my ability to do any kind of workout. The track is located right by my normal running trail so I figured I would give the workout a shot and if my legs weren't having it then I would do an easy run on the trail. I drank a bottle of nuun, charged up my ipod, and was on my way.

When I got to the track the first thing I saw was a pickup game of soccer being played on the field inside the track. I debated whether to just go the trail then but wanted to at least give the workout a shot. Since my legs weren't feeling in prime condition I opted for more of a sprinting workout with short sprints and long recoveries.

1 mile warm up
400 sprint, 800 recovery

My warm up mile felt comfortable but was noticeably slower than normal. My legs didn't feel too bad so the workout was on. I tried to remind myself that the goal was to push myself even if my times were slower than normal. It was incredibly hot outside too which didn't help.

I was shocked with how this workout turned out. My legs showed up ready to run fast last night and that is exactly what they did. I contemplated skipping the workout because I thought my legs were tired but clearly that was not the case. It's funny how the mind can trick us into thinking we are less capable than we really are.

I did this same workout back in June when my legs were feeling fresh. Here's those splits vs. last night's splits:

June 20
1:52 (7:09), 1:44 (6:59), 1:40 (6:40)
I forgot to hit lap after the second repeat so I don't have that split. My best pace during the entire run was 6:24

July 17
1:40 (6:46), 1:38 (6:23), 1:36 (6:22), 1:36 (6:26), fastest pace 5:59

My first repeat last night was the same at my fastest repeat the first time! Makes me wonder what I could on fresh legs. I want to take a quick second to brag about seeing a pace sub-6:00 for the first time as well. Never something I thought was possible.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Group Riding

Last night I went to my first group ride. It was also the first time I rode on the roads versus on the gravel trail near my house. I was insanely nervous going to the ride even though it was a women's beginner ride. I have pretty much zero cycling experience and didn't want to look as out of place as I felt. But I knew that if I want to become a better cyclist I need to practice both with other people and out on the road.

The group, which ended up only being two people besides myself, met around 6:00. After being asked about my cycling history we set out on our ride. The leader said we were probably ride about 26 miles, which was a lot more than I was expecting. Normally this wouldn't have been an issue but based on my rough run that morning I was pretty nervous about how my legs would hold up.

My biggest concern was riding in traffic but the majority of the roads we took had hardly any cars. The ride was mostly rolling hills with a few flat sections, a pretty big downhill, and a killer false flat. I have always thought that I can't ride hills yet they ended up being my strongest part yesterday. I'm not a big fan of anything too big or long but I'm really starting to enjoy rollers.

I think we ended up riding a little under 28 miles in about 2 hours. I'm not sure how long we were out there because we had to stop a few times for stop lights and a flat tire. It wasn't the fastest ride but it was great practice for me.

I was really grateful that there were only two other people at the ride just because it made it less stressful for me. It was one less thing for me to worry about. In the end I had a great time and can't wait to go back for more rides. I never thought I could like riding so much but I was smiling ear to ear the entire time.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Respect the Distance

This morning I was up early (for me at least) to squeeze in a 7 mile run before it got too hot outside. I try to be finished with all morning runs by 9:30-10:00 depending on the weather. When my alarm went off at 7:30 the last thing I wanted to do was get out of my cozy bed. I knew that this morning was my only chance to get in a longer run so I sucked it up and got moving.

I have been running with my ipod a lot lately so I made sure it was changed and loaded with some new jams. I started my run around 8:45 hoping it wouldn't be too hot out yet. The last time I ran 7 miles I felt amazing and was going pretty quickly. I knew today was going to be much slower but I still thought I could finish in a decent time.

I felt good when I started running but made sure to hold back so I wouldn't burn out during the later miles. By about the half way point my legs were pretty tired and didn't want to be running anymore. I don't think I was running too fast but I probably could have slowed down even more.

This was my first run after last weekend's triathlon and I probably should have opted to run 3-4 miles. 7 miles really isn't a long distance but it sure felt like it this morning. I thought I could just jump back into training and maintain similar paces right away. Running is very humbling for me and has a way of always knocking me back down when I need a reminder.

Training for a marathon is no joke and I need to remember to never assume that it will be easy. It is always challenging and that is the point. If it was easy everyone would do it, right?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why I Didn't Follow a Training Plan for My First Triathlon

At the end of March when I first started triathlon training I made a training plan that I was going to follow. After only a few short days though my plan was pretty much thrown out the window. I always admire the people who spend hours writing up training plans and then follow them almost exactly. I wanted to wake up in the morning and check what workout was scheduled for that day. I quickly realized, though, that my lifestyle is not exactly welcoming of training plans.

As a student it is fairly difficult to be on any kind of regular schedule. Every day of the week looks different, and that is just my class schedule. Add in homework, studying, and social activities and it is a recipe for training plan disaster. On top of that, my boyfriend is very anti-schedule and hates to plan ahead. Since we don't live together it makes it very difficult to assume when I can squeeze in workouts.

When I tried to follow a training plan for my first two half marathons and was unsuccessful I felt guilty for missing workouts. Honestly, I felt like I was a failure. I wasn't motivated to run and just couldn't get my head into my training. I knew that I wanted to really enjoy triathlon training so I didn't feel burned out or bored ever.

What I ended up doing was writing down what workouts I wanted to do over each weekend based on how I had been doing with training. Then I would schedule the weeks workouts once I knew what my schedule was going to look like. I still missed workouts here and there but I was ultimately much more successful this way.

Some days I felt like running, so I would run. And when I wanted to bike, I biked. I did workouts that I wanted to do, not ones that my training plan said I should do. I enjoyed this cycle of training so much more because of it. I started to really look forward to training instead of fearing it.

I can't exactly follow the same approach for this next round of triathlon training since I am also at the beginning of marathon training and need to make sure I am hitting my long runs. Other then that, though, I'm sticking to my no training plan approach.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Training For Triathlon #2

Monday I start training for my second triathlon, the Keystone State Triathlon. Even though this is not my A race I still want to put my focus on this race for the next six weeks. My fitness level increased dramatically after I started triathlon training so I am hoping I can build a solid base before jumping into marathon training. I have designed a plan that targets my weaknesses and builds my running endurance that will hopefully allow me to cross the finish lines at all of my races feeling strong.

Continue swimming once a week.
I only swam once a week while training for the General Smallwood International Triathlon, some weeks I didn't swim at all, and still finished first in my age group and 12th female overall on the swim. After learning that the course was 1900 meters rather than 1500 meters I am super confident about going forward with minimal swim training. I held a 1:32 pace on the swim and was hardly pushing myself. I would rather work on my weaknesses.

I miss swimming in Ft. Lauderdale

Yoga & strength training.
I started going to yoga a few weeks ago and noticed a difference immediately. My legs felt so much better before, during, and after runs. In addition to yoga, though, I want to start strength training so I can stay injury free during these next few months of training. Strength training also really helps with hill climbing on the bike which is my biggest weakness.

Long runs & track runs.
Technically I am also starting marathon training next week so running will ultimately be my priority even during this triathlon training cycle. I am not so worried about the easy and shorter runs but I need to start building my running endurance now. I probably won't run anything longer than 12 miles before the triathlon but the point is to be ready to jump into longer distances soon after. I also want to keep up with my weekly track party runs. I like running fast and think it will help me achieve the lofty goals I have set for myself.

Getting comfortable biking on the road.
I probably should not admit to this but Saturday's triathlon was my first time biking on the road. I normally ride on a pancake flat gravel trail that has no cars. I like the safety and easiness of it so I have just stuck to it. But if I want to make progress and learn to successfully climbs hills I need to practice riding on the road.

Recovery workouts & rest days.
I am only human and need to take rest and recovery days. I hope to take one rest day per week in addition to a few recovery workouts to let my body, well, recover. This is not the time to over do it so I want to be careful and listen to my body.

These are the things that I will be doing weekly to get me into racing shape. However, I also wanted to incorporate other things that will be rotated throughout the next 6 weeks.

Although I find it difficult to be inside when I could be riding outside I think spinning will help with hill climbing. After my first spin class my quads were screaming. This is a great way for me to work on standing in the saddle and increasing strength in a controlled environment.

Trail running.
Trail running is not necessarily an important aspect of either triathlon training or marathon training but I really enjoy being out on the trails. It is the perfect way for me to relax while still getting some miles in. And all the hills certainly won't hurt.

Bricks are crucial for triathlon training but are just not something I can fit into my weekly schedule. I don't want to do too much each week so I think incorporating bricks in every other week is the best approach. Ideally I would do one brick a week but every other week will have to do for now.

Long bike rides.
On the weeks that I don't do a brick I will do a longer bike ride. These rides help build endurance and confidence. I am a cycling newbie so any time in the saddle will be beneficial for me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Next Up

Now that I am finished training for the General Smallwood International Triathlon I am looking ahead to my next endeavor. I have a lot of big goals and know that I need to be smart with how I go about training for them.

1. Keystone State Triathlon August 26

I am currently signed up to do the Olympic distance but I am waiting to hear back from the race directors about switching to the sprint instead. This is not an A race for me so I need to focus on doing what is best for my more important races. The Olympic distance has a 27 mile bike versus an 18 mile course for the sprint. Both courses are really hilly and although I plan on spending time working on climbing I don't want it to become a priority right now. 

2. Rock N' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon September 16

Even though this is not my big A race for the year I still want to PR the shit out of it. I haven't ever fully committed to training for a half marathon so I want to see how fast I can go with some proper training. Ultimately it is a training race but I will be taking a few days rest before and after it. One of my best friends will also be running this race as her first half marathon/running race ever and I am so excited to be there with her.

3. ING New York City Marathon November 4

This is the big one. I have dreamed of running this race and to be running it as my first marathon almost seems like fate to me. From here on out this is where my priority will be. Sure I want to do well in my other races, but I want to destroy this one. Training for a marathon is no joke so it needs to be the most important of the three.

Other possible races: Sneaks Come Out at Night 15K August 11

I really want to do this race because it is at night and I run significantly better at night. Dusk is my favorite time of day and I can't think of anything I'd rather do than run around Baltimore as the sun is going down. I am not signed up for this race yet because it is not a priority race for me and I don't want to commit to anything this early. I don't want to miss out on other summer festivities for a race this isn't terribly important so I'm going to wait a few more weeks before making my ultimate decision.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What I Learned From My First Triathlon

After all big races I like to document what I learned from my training and race experience so I can make progress in the future.  The General Smallwood International Triathlon was one of the hardest days of my life and even though I didn't meet my goals due to the heat, it was a great learning experience.

1. Safety always comes first.
With record setting temps all weekend and a heat index of 112 on Saturday it was hardly a good idea to be out doing strenuous activity. Around 50 people didn't finish the race because of the heat and three people were even taken to the hospital. Nine people in the state of Maryland died due to heat related illness. Yes, I would have loved to race my heart out on Saturday. No, it was not a smart idea when my body is nowhere near acclimated to that kind of heat. There will always be other races.

2. It is okay to walk.
Along those same lines, it is perfectly okay to walk when you need to. I was embarrassed when I first started walking because I thought it meant I was a quitter. Then I looked around and saw that nearly every athlete in sight was also walking. I absolutely hated walking but given the circumstances it was the right thing to do and I am no longer embarrassed by it. I'm just proud that I finished.

3. Don't be intimidated by all the people with fancy gear.
When my dad and I first pulled into the parking lot all I saw were athletes with really nice tri bikes. I instantly felt inadequate, like I didn't belong there. Not only do I not have a tri bike, but I don't even have a road bike;I have a hybrid. I am saving up to get a nicer bike but besides the bikes the majority of the people there had fancy, expensive gear. As the day went on I realized that I am as much of an athlete as everyone else despite my lack of a couple thousand dollar bike.

So many nice bikes!

4. Make a small rip in nutrition so it is easier to open while riding.
My hands were wet from the swim and then sweaty from the heat, which made ripping open my honey stinger waffles nearly impossible. I tried using my teeth but had no luck. Note: this only works for more solid nutrition options. Don't do this with a gel or you will have a sticky mess everywhere.

5. Start at the beginning of the swim pack.
I tried to start middle to front of the pack but ended up having to pass a lot of people. I am a strong swimmer and need to take advantage of my swimming background. This is the one place in a triathlon where I am one of the fastest. Time to own it.

6. Wear a tri top or a bike jersey without a sports bra built in.
I swam in a two-piece training bikini top and then put on my bike jersey during transition. The problem was that since I was wet the shirt rolled up and took forever to put on. The built-in sports bra only made things worse. I ordered a tri top a few days ago so hopefully I can just swim in my tri top and shorts and not worry about clothes during transition.

7. I suck at transitions.
Speaking of transitions, mine are awful. Like slowest ever. I set my transition up well but there are still things I can do to cut down on my times, like putting my hair into a ponytail before the swim, wearing a tri top, skipping socks, and speed laces.

8. Bricks are an absolute must in triathlon training.
I only did a handful of bricks during training and had I not been forced to walk a lot of the run due to the heat I probably would have struggled on the run regardless. Running with fresh legs and running after biking are two completely different things. Practice accordingly.

9. Always expect more hills.
I thought the bike and run courses were supposed to be flat. Nope. There were quite a few hills during the beginning of the bike and the run was mostly hills. I can handle hills on the run but the hills on the bike really took a lot out of my legs. Hills are no joke and need to be practiced if I ever want to get better.

10. Put sunscreen even in the places you don't expect to need it.
I sprayed my chest, arms, and legs with sunscreen before the swim and that was it. During the run when I felt like I was baking out in the sun I wanted to take my jersey off and just run in my bathing suit but I hadn't sprayed my stomach or back. I am the type of person who burns extremely easily so that was not an option. A quick two minute spray would have probably helped keep me cool on the run.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

General Smallwood Training Week 15

I did my last hard swim Monday morning. It was a short swim, only 1600 yards, but it got the blood flowing and my muscles ready to swim come race day.

I was hoping to get in a run Tuesday morning but I was really tired and figured the extra sleep would be good. I still went to a 60 minute yoga class to make sure I was all stretched out.

My dad and I went for a super easy 12.63 mile bike ride in the morning. It was hot out but wasn't bad on the bike. I felt really comfortable and at ease on the bike.

Thursday was a much needed complete day of rest. I took a nap and enjoyed relaxing all day.

Friday morning I went for a really easy 2 mile shakeout run. It was hot out but my legs felt pretty decent. I had wanted to do a swim in the evening too but the pool ended up being closed for a swim meet.

My first triathlon! You can read the recap here.

A full day filled with rest and recovery. Perfect.

Weekly Totals
  • Swimming: 3100 meters
  • Biking: 37.53
  • Running: 8.2 miles
  • Yoga: 60 min
  • Total hours: 6 hours 32 min

Saturday, July 7, 2012

General Smallwood International Triathlon Race Report

Today was such a whirlwind, but an amazing one. The day started early with a 4:25 wakeup call and 4:45 departure. My dad and I stayed at my apartment down at school Friday night and then drove to Marbury in the morning so we didn’t have to pay for a hotel room. We were expecting it to take 90 minutes to get there but thanks to little traffic we got there closer to 6:00. I ate my breakfast of a bagel with Nutella around 5:30 and sipped a bottle filled with nuun all morning. 

As soon as we arrived I went straight to packet pickup. After, I got body marked and picked up my timing chip. Then I set up my transition area. It was pretty intimidating seeing everyone with their fancy bikes and equipment but I tried to just focus on myself as much as possible. After setting up transition my dad and I went to check out the swim course. The bay looked beautiful and calm, although there was a lot of green seaweed stuff in the water. I hit up the porta-potties a couple times and before I knew it the pre-race meeting was taking place down by the water. I wandered over but when I saw people warming up in the water I knew I needed to get in. As soon as I hopped in I started to panic. I couldn’t see ANYTHING. I was having trouble breathing and was becoming increasingly nervous for the race. After some sculling and treading water I tried just swimming around near some people and my nerves and anxiety were almost instantly calmed. After I got out of the water there was about 10 minutes until the start.

Swim 29:26
About two minutes before the women’s 39 and under wave went off we jumped off the dock into the water. We were given a countdown and before we knew it the horn was being sounded. The beginning of the swim wasn’t nearly as chaotic as I expected. I didn’t position myself close enough to the front and ended up passing a lot of people within the first 100 meters or so. Despite my earlier panic I was very calm during the swim. I felt at ease and very comfortable in the water. I ended up wearing a two-piece bathing suit top and my tri shorts. This worked out very well for the swim as I wasn’t too hot and never felt like my clothes were filling up with too much water. Because I have minimal (none) open water swimming experience I am not so good at sighting. I would swim 10-15 strokes and then remember that I needed to sight. I was surprised how early on I caught people from the first two waves. Definite confidence boost. My goal was to beat as many people from my wave as possible since the swim is my strongest leg. I ended up finishing first in my age group and 12th female overall. I wasn’t too happy with my time but a lot of people thought that the course was long. Either way I had a great time out there in the water.

T1 4:00
The run from the bay to transition was pretty long and on a concrete sidewalk, making it pretty difficult to be fast. I felt a little nauseous as I was exiting the water so I walked to transition instead of running. I spent a lot of time trying to put on my bike jersey while I was all wet. Note to self: buy a tri top.

Bike 1:38:03
I knew that I was going to be passed by pretty much everyone so it came as no surprise when the first half of the bike I was being passed every few minutes. I didn’t let it get to me and just focused on getting in a good ride. I wasn’t prepared for the hills at the beginning of the course and wanted to quit within the first mile. I, again, have minimal experience climbing hills so I was worried about the rest of the course. Luckily after the first five mile the hills went from big and terrifying to nice rollers. Besides my slowness, I really enjoyed the bike. I pushed myself more than I thought I could and didn’t give up. About half way into the ride I dropped one of my bottles filled with nuun so I turned around to go get it. It was supposed to reach 105 degrees with a heat index of 112 so I knew I needed the electrolytes. With about 5 miles left I was really ready to be done riding. My legs were getting tired from the hills and my butt was hurting way more than it should have been. I was estimating that I would finish in about 1:45 so I was pleasantly surprised when I came in early.

T2 2:30
T2 was pretty uneventful.

Run 1:23:02
As I was starting the run my dad tossed me a cold water bottle and it felt amazing. After you get off the bike the heat hits you like a wall. My legs felt great and I had energy but the heat wasn’t going to let me do anything spectacular. The run was also really hilly, making it even more difficult to run. I started off running but soon switched to walking the uphills and running the downhills and when I felt good enough to run. Most of the run is not in the shade, making it even more unpleasant. There were aid stations every mile and most had ice water. At each stop I would drink two cups and pour another two on me. It was so miserably hot that almost everyone in sight was walking. About 50 people were pulled from the course because of heat exhaustion. There was a girl at the first aid station who looked absolutely terrible and at that point I decided being safe was far more important than running. I tried to run the parts that were in the shade but it was still difficult to do anything. The last mile is on a shaded trail in the park and I was able to run the whole thing. I was holding a decent pace so I know if it weren’t for the heat I wouldn’t had a great time. Before you know it the bay is in sight and the finish line is right around the corner.

Overall 3:37:00
As soon as I crossed the finish line volunteers were icing me down and giving bottles of water to drink. I was pretty dizzy so I sat down for a little and then went to find my dad. We stocked up on food and drinks and then found a spot in the shade to relax for a little. I had a pretty bad headache but I think it was from dehydration. I had at least 10 bottles of fluid between 8:30 and 12:30 and I never had to pee once (TMI, sorry). I was sweating so incredibly much that I felt like I couldn’t get enough fluids in me. I did make sure to drink nuun and Gatorade so that hyponatremia was not as issue.

This race was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I am so proud of myself for not giving up and pushing through the harsh temps. It was not ideal for my first triathlon but now I feel ready for anything. I have a lot to improve on but this was a great learning experience.

Monday, July 2, 2012

General Smallwood International Triathlon Race Plan

I can't believe race day is so soon! I have been getting more and more nervous with each day that passes. I am really excited but the anxiety is starting to build. I have spent the past 14 weeks training for this day and now all I have to do are finishing touches. I have been spending a lot of time lately reading articles online and glancing through The Triathlete's Training Bible. When I ran my first half marathon I didn't really have a plan other then don't go out too fast. I think being naive and just letting my body do what it wanted to really helped me enjoy the day and be stress free. However, a triathlon is not as simple as running. There are a lot of things that need to be taken care of and so in order to minimize race-day stress I decided to write a race plan.

I will not be staying at a hotel the night before the race so my dad and I will be getting up really early to make the drive down to Marbury from Baltimore. This means I will need to pick up my packet on race morning in addition to setting up my transition area and getting body marked. I am not sure when we plan to wake up/leave my apartment but I am going to eat a breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and nutella, a banana, and a bottle of nuun about 2.5 hours before the start of the race. I will then sip water until 45 minutes before the start of the race. I will first check in and pick up my registration and then proceed to body marking. After I will set up my transition area. I am hoping to get there early and get everything set up with plenty of time to spare in order to calm my nerves some. I am not sure if it is allowed or not but I am also hoping to be able to get in the water for a short warm up.

For many reasons I will not be wearing a wetsuit for the swim. Even though I have very limited experience with open water swimming, the swim leg will still probably be my strongest. I am going to position myself towards the front of the pack in hopes of finding some fast feet to draft off of. I am going to focus on keeping  my pace consistent and not going out too fast. I also want to keep my anxiety levels as low as possible so I don't want to go all out during the swim. With that being said, I do want to push the pace and see what I can do on the swim. It is my strongest leg so I don't want to be finishing with the back of the pack.

On my way to T1 I am going to take off my cap and goggles. Once I am at T1 I am going to dry anything off that needs to be dried. I am going to put on my bike shoes, sunglasses, and helmet in that order. Then I will spray on sunscreen, grab my bike and exit T1.

I will have my bike in a lower gear for the start of the race and keep it low for the first 10-15 minutes until I get settled. About 15-20 in I will eat a honey stinger waffle chased with water. After eating I will work on increasing my pace. I am not a strong cyclist and have little experience riding on the road so I want to play it safe. I will have a bottle filled with nuun and one filled with water that I will drink along the way. With about 5 miles left of the ride I will eat 3 Clif Shot Bloks chased with water. I will focus on finishing the ride strong and fast but not too hard so I still have energy for the run.

After racking my bike, I am going to take off my helmet, take off my cycling shoes, and put on my socks and running shoes. I will then put on more sunscreen, my race belt, grab a bottle of nuun and exit T2.

Since it is predicted to be in the 90's on race day I will be bringing a bottle of nuun with me on the run. I will take a sip every few minutes to ensure I am not dehydrated. I am going to focus on keeping my cadence high and maintaining an easy pace for the beginning of the run when my legs feel like jello. I will take the other half of Clif Shot Bloks about 15 minutes into the run followed by some nuun. After I will pick up the pace for the rest of the run. Based off of how much energy I have during the run I will continue to drop the pace for the rest of the run. I will walk at aid stations to give my legs a break and I will finish the run with a sprint to the finish line.

After the race my main goal is to refuel. I will be eating and drinking before anything else. Then I will stretch out my legs for a few minutes before changing and heading home. I will wear my compression sleeves for the day to help with recovery and take an ice bath later. I will also spend some time foam rolling to help my muscles recover properly.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

General Smallwood Training Week 14

Another Monday spent doing schoolwork. All I was able to do was a 2 mile walk at night with my puppy.

I woke extra early Tuesday morning so I went out for a glorious morning run. The run felt easy but I was going much faster than normal. After the run I went straight to a 60 minute yoga class to stretch out my legs. It is amazing how much help yoga has been since I started doing it last week.

I wanted to do one last track run before my triathlon next week but I wasn't sure how my legs would respond from Tuesday's longish run. I ended up cutting the run short because I was getting dizzy & my legs felt more tired than they should have. I still got in 3.55 miles of good track running though. After the run I came home & soaked my legs in a bucket of ice water.

I overslept on Thursday morning so I had to cut my swim short in order to make it to yoga on time. This may seem backward since swimming is a crucial part of triathlon training but yoga has really made a difference in the way I recover from running. Instead of doing a full swimming workout I just did 800 yards for time. I finished in 11:05 for a 1:23 pace. This gives me a good idea of where I will be for my triathlon next weekend. After I went to a 60 min yoga class where we worked on headstands. I am pretty terrible right now but I am up for the challenge. I finished up the day with a 2 mile walk with my dad and my puppy.

I wanted to do a race simulation to practice my nutrition and pacing for my triathlon next week. I ended up riding 23.63 miles. I was going to run afterwards but it was really hot outside and I didn't think it was worth the risk. I practiced my outfit as well. I am still working on what to wear during the swim though. Any suggestions?

Friday night my boyfriend and I went to a concert and didn't get back to his house until almost two in the morning. We slept in Saturday and enjoyed a day just relaxing by the pool. It was my first full rest day in almost two weeks and it was greatly needed and appreciated.

My boyfriend and I were going to go on a short bike ride so I can practice riding on the road instead of on the trail but he woke up sick. Instead I spent the day taking care of him and enjoying another rest day.

Weekly Totals
  • Swimming: 800 yards
  • Biking: 23.63 miles
  • Running: 10.55 miles
  • Walking: 4 miles
  • Yoga: 2 hours
  • Total hours: 6 hours 28 min