Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I Learned from Triathlon #2

Another race, another post on all the things I learned from it. It never ceases to amaze me how many things I figure out during a race versus training. I went into this race with the goal to make it a learning experience and that is exactly what it was.

1. Wear sunglasses even if it is raining
I knew that the weather for this race wasn't going to be nice. I woke up to overcast skies with a 50% of rain. I contemplated not bringing my biking glasses since it wasn't going to be sunny but then remembered I had interchangeable lenses for them. I can't even count how many people I saw on the bike struggling to see because of the rain in their eyes. Luckily for me my clear lenses kept the rain out without making it too dark outside.

2. Put running shoes upside down so they don't get filled with water and soggy if it is raining
Since it was raining for the majority of this race most of these points will be related to the weather and rain. During the bike leg of the race was when it was raining the heaviest. I noticed that my bike shoes were filling up with rain & getting heavy. I thought about how nice it would be to put on dry running shoes until I remembered those were getting even more wet than my bike shoes.

3. Know how to fix common problems that may occur on your bike
While climbing up a big hill on the bike, I shifted too low and ended up popping off my chain. I tried fixing it but couldn't figure it out and ended up walking my bike for almost ten minutes before my dad came to my rescue and fixed the chain for me. Had my dad not found me I probably wouldn't have finished the race. This is an easy thing to fix but there are many other things that a lot of people don't know how to do regarding their bikes.

4. Be prepared for aid stations to run out of water
The aid station on the run was hit twice by those doing the sprint tri and four times by those doing the Olympic. Even though the race was pretty small the station was out of water by the time I was hitting it for the second time. Luckily I really wasn't that thirsty and knew the finish line wasn't too far away but had I been doing the Olympic distance I would have been pretty dehydrated.

5. Biking & running with no sense of how fast you are going can be a glorious thing
I normally don't ride with a bike computer, although I do use the MapMyRide app on my phone and review the details afterwards. I hardly ever run without my Garmin though. At Sunday's race I decided not to run with my Garmin for some reason. At first I was annoyed that I didn't know how fast I was running or how far I had run, but I ended up running almost 90 seconds faster per mile than I thought I was. Had I seen that pace on my watch I probably would have slowed down so I didn't burn out. Good thing I didn't have my watch.

6. Running out socks will save you time in T2 but will you give you nasty blisters
Since the run was only 3 miles I decided not to run with socks. I definitely saved time in T2 but my feet were covered in blisters not long into the run. I do credit some of them to my shoes being wet from the rain. Most of the blisters weren't too bad but I got two, one on each pinky toe, that were so bad I could barely walk the next day.

7. Arrive to transition early if there aren't assigned spots for bikes
I knew this was a small race so I didn't think it would be a big deal to arrive later than normal. The only problem was that everybody spread out making less room to rack bikes. I walked around for a few minutes before asking someone to move over who was taking up enough space for three bikes.

8. Always bring more fluid then you plan on using
I know pretty well how much I drink while on the bike but due to a very long weekend I went into the race already dehydrated. I was incredibly thirsty the whole time and almost ran out of water after only the first lap on the bike. It is better to be overprepared than underprepared.

9. The bike is not as important as the person riding it
Even though I ride a hybrid bike I still was able to hang with some of the guys. I often get caught up in needing the fanciest bike because I think it will make me ride faster. Yes a tri bike will be faster than a hybrid bike but it doesn't mean that I can't still ride fast. It is the training that matters, not the equipment.

10. Whenever possible practice on the race course in advance
I knew that this bike course was really hilly and that my climbing skills were to a minimum. Instead of panicking (actually there was a fair amount of panicking) I drove the 25 minutes to the race site to practice the hills that I would be riding on race day. Come race day I knew every inch of the course and knew what to be careful and when to really push it. I also ran on some of the trails and knew I could handle the uneven terrain.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Keystone State Tri Training Week 6

Sometimes I feel like I need a rest after the weekend. I had little motivation to do much of anything on Monday. I did drag myself out of the couch to go to the gym for some strength training. I had a bit of a breakthrough at the gym was able to increase my weight in most exercises. Lifting makes me feel so strong in a way that running doesn't. They really compliment each other well.

I opted to sleep in instead of going to my usual yoga class. I then went for an easy bike ride to loosen up my legs from Monday night's lifting. The ride was slow but just what my legs needed. Then in the evening I went to the track for some 400 repeats. I had a hard time settling into a groove but I still was happy with my workout.

The day I questioned everything. I was insanely tired and needed the extra rest. It was hard choosing to take the day off but it was greatly needed.

My car needed an inspection so I ran to the gym for yoga class. It was a short, mostly downhill run that really didn't take much out of me. After an hour of yoga stretches, I did a strength session. I debated whether I should have even lifted so I went easy on my lower body and really pushed my upper body.

Friday & Saturday:
My boyfriend and his younger brother threw a back to school party that ended up a little out of control, leaving my boyfriend and I running around playing chaperon all night. I think between 7:30 at night and 4 in the morning I sat down for maybe 30 minutes. After the party Friday night, Saturday was spent cleaning and catching up on sleep.


Weekly Totals
  • Swimming: 825 yards
  • Biking: 30.2 miles
  • Running: 13.01 miles
  • Yoga: 60 min
  • Strength: 1 hr 35 min
  • Total hours: 7 hrs 6 min

Monday, August 27, 2012

Keystone State Sprint Triathlon Race Report

I can't believe this race is over already! I signed up for it so long ago it felt like it was never going to get here. After learning about how challenging the bike course is I wanted to switch from the Olympic distance to the sprint but I didn't hear back from the race organizers until two days before the event. Luckily I was allowed to switch.

Thursday through Saturday was filled with practically no sleep and lots of time on my feet. I wasn't even sure I was going to do this race until Saturday evening. I figured it wouldn't be pretty but would be good experience. I made it home from my boyfriend's house Saturday night around midnight and was asleep at one in the morning. Not ideal for the night before a race.

Luckily the race was only about 25 minutes from my house so I was able to sleep in until 6:00. I grabbed my bag full of my stuff for transition, ate a bagel and was on my way to the race. My dad and I got to the race site around 7:00 and headed straight to packet pickup and body marking. Then it was time to set up my transition area.

The swim started in waves so while I was waiting around for my wave I made use of the short bathroom lines and did some stretching. I ran into a good friend from my old swim team who I hadn't seen in almost a year. This was her first triathlon so I prepped her with some pointers, such as how aggressive the swim can

Swim: 13:52 (1/2 mile)

This time I decided to start towards the front of the pack for the swim, even though I hadn't been in a pool since the middle of July. I tried not to go too hard on the swim so I had enough energy for the massive hill at the beginning of the bike course. I kept telling myself to calm down and focus on staying steady and strong. Before I knew it the swim was over and I was heading into transition.

T1: 1:23

I am so glad I practiced this bike course before this race. It is really challenging, with some steep climbs and sharp turns. I knew how to handle every aspect of the course and felt so much more confident because of it.

My approach to the bike course was to go conservative on the first lap and then really hammer the second lap. Unfortunately during the first lap my chain popped off and got stuck so I was unable to fix it. I walked my bike for about 10 minutes before my dad luckily found it and fixed it for me. After that it was smooth sailing though. I was able to keep up with people with road and tri bikes and even passed people on those killer hills.  I felt unstoppable.

Bike: 1:22:31 (18.2 miles- 13.2 mph)

T2: 1:01

I was worried about how my legs would feel during the run since I really pushed myself on the bike but at soon as I started running I felt like I was flying. I didn't want to go out too fast but it was only a 3 mile run so I knew I could push the pace some. The run was all on trails so I was glad I was wearing my trail shoes. I loved the run and was hardly passed at all. And in my Olympic style sprint to the finish I passed some lady with just a few yards to go.

Run: 26:13 (3.2 miles- 8:11 pace)

Overall this was an incredible race. Besides my chain popping off I did really well on the bike and ran faster than I ever could have imagined on the run. During this race I truly felt like a triathlete and now I am even more excited about next year's racing season.

Finish time: 2:05:00

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What A Day

I survived! This morning's triathlon was an emotional roller coaster filled with drama but all in all I am really pleased with how the race went. Full recap to come so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When Exhaustion Sets In

For the past few days I have been abnormally tired. I enjoy sleeping in but I have trained myself to  wake up early to get in workouts. I go to bed early and even take frequent naps if I am really tired. Lately though I am to the point where all I want to do is sleep. My body is fighting back.

Today was supposed to be my last hard workout before Sunday's triathlon. It was also supposed to be my last day before my rest week starts. I woke up this morning sore and even more tired than normal. Almost instantly I decided it was better to start my rest week one day early than dig myself into an even deeper hole.

I do think some of this is due to my lupus. Every once in awhile I get tired to the point where I just need to sleep pretty much all day long to catch up. But I regularly get between 8-9 hours of sleep a night so it's not like I am really sleep deprived.

Ever since my first triathlon in July I have really upped both the duration and intensity of my workouts. I started doing two-a-days at least three times a week, with normally at least two days on bricks or other forms of combined workouts. I started adding in weekly long runs and track workouts, and changed my bike focus from long and easy to short and intense.

It really comes as no surprise that I am so tired. My body has been working really hard and deserves some time off. But I don't want to completely stop training since I am running a marathon in 11 weeks. Instead of panicking that my training was going to be ruined I tried to make a rest/recovery plan to get be back to normal.

Extra rest day
My planned rest day was on Saturday but I am taking today off as well. I want to feel refreshed on Sunday and ready to race, not super tired and sluggish. I will be using my extra time to start packing for school and take care of some things that have been put on the back-burner lately.

Super easy workouts
I don't want to take the next few days completely off but I will be keeping my workouts as easy as possible. I want to keep my muscles loose and fresh and ready to race. Not is not the time to try to build fitness. All of the work is done.

Eating the right foods
I started taking a multivitamin back in May but that is not enough to give the body all the micronutrients that it needs. Being a vegetarian I do struggle to get enough protein so that is going to be a focus over these next few days. Primarily though I am going to cut out junk food and try to eat as naturally as possible. My body feels the best after eating natural, wholesome foods.

Stretch, foam roll, compress
Yesterday I got my first pair of compression socks in the mail that I have been living in since I got them. My lower legs feel so much better than normal after track workouts and I credit that to running in the socks. My legs in general are really tight and sore so stretching and foam rolling and becoming a part of my daily routine. I am going to be taking full advantage of tomorrow yoga class as well.

Anything I missed?

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Race Week Again

Despite all of the training I have been doing it is hard to believe that I have a race this weekend. I am still unsure if I am doing the Olympic or sprint distance so I have been training for both. I would definitely prefer to do the sprint though because the bike course is insanely hilly. Regardless of the hills I am much less anxious about this triathlon. Going into my first one I didn't know what to expect and wanted to see all my hours of training pay off. This time though I am also training for a marathon which is my A race for the year.

This week is shaping up to be perhaps my busiest so I am glad that this is not a super important race for me. My goal for both this week and my race is to have fun and celebrate the end of summer. I don't want to put a lot of pressure on myself and take away from everything I have going on this week.

The beautiful race site

That doesn't mean I am not transitioning into race mode though. I am increasing my sleep, especially in the beginning of the week before everything starts, eating extra carefully, and making sure every workout has a purpose. I am not tapering for this race but I am going to take the end of the week easy so my legs feel fresh come race day.

I am hoping to use this race to gain experience and learn more about the sport of triathlon. I still know so little and want to take advantage of this race so I can enter next season stronger and wiser. Hopefully it won't be as hot and I can put up some decent times too.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Keystone State Tri Training Week 5

I started the week off with an easy bike ride on the trail. My legs were tired only climbing during rides so the flat trail was greatly welcomed. My pace was slow but the whole ride was very enjoyable. In total I rode 17.2 miles.

After going to my Tuesday morning yoga class I went to the gym for some strength training. In the evening I went to the track for my weekly track session but was stormed out. I contemplated pushing through the storm but I called it quits after a tornado was spotted in my county. Safety first.

Wednesday was a lazy day. I really don't remember what I did all day but I did manage to get for a 2 mile recovery run.

Thursday morning I did my weekly long run where I hit double digits for the first time. Of the 10 miles I did 2 at marathon goal pace and another 2 at half marathon goal pace. Very successful run. After my run I stretched out with a lunchtime yoga class.

I was planning on going up to Pinchot for some hill work on Friday but heavy rain scared me away from trying to ride. Instead I went for a recovery run that was the opposite of Thursday's run. Then in the evening I went to the gym to strength train.

Rest day! Gosh I love my rest days.

I finished off the week with 4.69 miles of easy running to make my weekly total 22 miles, a new weekly high for me.

Weekly Totals
  • Biking: 17.2 miles
  • Running: 22 miles
  • Yoga: 90 min
  • Strength: 1 hr 25 min
  • Total hours: 8 hrs 4 min

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Double Digits!

This morning I did my first double digit training run of 10 miles. I probably should have done at least that much while training for my first two half marathons but it's too late to change that now. I am taking my long runs really seriously since they are the most important thing about training for a marathon and I don't want to get too far behind.

I had trouble falling asleep last night so when I woke up to an abnormally cool morning I decided to sleep in for an extra hour. After my extra sleep I got all my stuff ready, ate breakfast, and headed over to the trail. I tried to download an audiobook last night to listen to during the run but messed up and bought an ebook instead. Whoops. I didn't really want to listen to music either.

A few minutes after starting the run I decided to do some miles at marathon and half marathon goal pace since my track run on Tuesday got stormed out. I'm not sure if either marathon or half marathon goal pace are correct for me but they work for now so I'm sticking with them.

2.5 miles warm up,
2 miles @ MGP (9:28)
1 mile recovery
2 miles @ HMGP (9:01)
2.5 miles warm down

Avg Pace

Since I left my garmin on autolap my individual miles at my goal paces weren't recorded. I did make sure to do the math while I was running to make sure I was on pace and one full mile for each goal pace was accurate. The other miles include easy running since they started half way through the mile.

What surprised me the most during this run was how much easier it was than I anticipated. I did a similar run while I was at the beach that really sucked the wind out of me. It left me questioning everything. Today's run left me confident and eager to keep training. My half marathon goal pace felt like a comfortable-hard that I could have maintained for awhile longer. And I was able to keep my pace consistent instead of all over the place.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Starting to Feel Like Marathon Training

Even though I haven't started official training for the NYC Marathon I am working on building my base right now. I find it difficult to focus on training for more than one race at a time so right now I am focusing on triathlon training for another two weeks before transitioning into marathon training. By doing this my "official" marathon training plan will only be 10 weeks, but fear not because I have surely been training for the past few weeks like everyone else. It is just mentally easier for me to call the first six weeks my base phase. It puts less pressure on my running and allows me to establish a solid base before things get real. And hopefully by that point my "official" training won't seem so daunting.

It is difficult, though, with so many other people already into full swing with their training. I have to keep telling myself this is my first marathon, I need to trust my plan. At this point I am getting really anxious and excited to start official training and not have to worry about swimming and biking. My next race is a triathlon with some serious hills during the bike leg, which means I have been spending the past four weeks climbing every hill I can find. This triathlon is not going to be an easy feat and consequently requires specific training. If it was a general easy triathlon I wouldn't be worrying about training for it so much. 

Right now all I want to do is tell people that I am training for a marathon. If I allow myself to thing with that mindset then I will stop wanting to train for my triathlon, which I very much need to continue training for. But since I refuse to say I'm in marathon training for the next two weeks I wanted to write a blog post about it. I want to feel included!

When I started training for my upcoming triathlon I made training more of a habit, which in turn has prevented training from seeming like a struggle or hassle. I look forward to training, and don't question it. I just do it. In the past I have had to really fight myself to get out for a run. Now I look forward to running and miss it on days when I am riding or swimming.

After a hard track workout last week I took my very first ice bath like it was no big deal. I jacked all of the ice from the icebox in our kitchen and put it into my bathtub. With drink in hand and a sweatshirt on I hopped in and soaked my tired muscles until they were numb. I probably didn't need the ice bath but I have been doing some high-intensity workouts lately and my muscles wanted the recovery.

I have also been wearing my compression sleeves before & after hard workouts, paying more attention to what I'm eating in terms of fueling and refueling, and making social arrangements around my training plan. The longest run I have done so far is 9 miles but I already feel so accomplished with my training. I can tell I'm making progress.

Honestly, I am loving everything about (almost) marathon training!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Keystone State Tri Training Week 4

Even though the week before was vacation I was still really tired on Monday morning and opted to sleep in instead. I then hit the track for my longest track workout yet! I did 3x 800 hard, 400 recovery, followed by 3x 400 sprint, 800 recovery.

Tuesday morning I went to my usual yoga class, which felt amazing after Monday's track workout. It really is amazing how much a little stretching can do for the body. Later in the day I went up to Pinchot to ride a loop of the tri course, followed by a 2 mile brick on the trails. Despite my legs being tired I saw a lot of improvement on this ride.

The plan was to do 2 loops at Pinchot this time but heat exhaustion got the better of me. I called it quits for the day only 10 minutes into my ride due to dizziness and nausea. At night I went to the gym and lifted after hydrating like crazy.

I went down to my boyfriend's house on Wednesday night and we didn't wake up until around noon. Then we hung out for awhile and I lost all motivation to workout. Not thrilled about it, but it was a rest day.

By Friday morning I knew I was doing the race on Saturday but wanted to get in a quick shakeout run to loosen up my legs. I did 2 miles of easy hills near my house and felt great. Then I went to the gym for some strength training.

Race day! I ran my first 15K through the tortuous rolling hills of Druid Park.

My IT band felt tight after the race so I rested so as not to aggravate it any more.

Weekly Totals
  • Biking: 9.6 miles
  • Running: 18.8 miles
  • Strength: 1 hr 25 min
  • Yoga: 60 min
  • Total hours: 6 hours 16 min

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sneaks Come Out at Night 15K Race Report

A couple weeks ago this race caught my eye because it was an evening race instead of an early morning race. I knew it would fit in perfectly with where my long runs are at but I wasn't sure if I would be doing anything this weekend or not. I kept the race in the back of my mind just in case I was free. As it turns out, I was! I decided late Thursday that I would be doing the race but didn't want to make a big deal about it. In fact, I lifted weights on Friday.

After doing some race research I learned that the course was rolling hills with three loops. Once I heard that my plan was to go faster with every loop. Unfortunately I realized I left my Garmin at home about half way to the race, which was held in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore. I still wanted to stick to my race plan but I would have to go more on perceived effort than what the clock said.

My dad and I arrived to the race site about 45 minutes before the start and quickly registered. It was a small race of only about 200 people. There was a great atmosphere and I was sure it was going to be a great night.

About 5 minutes before 6:00 everybody started heading over to the start line. I wasn't sure where to position myself so I decided to start closer to the back to ensure that I didn't go out too fast. I wanted to keep the pace easy during the first loop but it was pretty difficult with everybody shooting off after the starting gun.

The beginning of each loop is really hilly so I made sure to keep my heart rate down and conserve energy for later in the race. After 1-2 miles of hills you hit a water stop and then enter a flat path that takes you around the lake. This was my favorite part of the course, partly because of the water stop, partly because of the lack of hills, and mostly because of the view of the lake. I really, really enjoy running by the water.

During the first loop I felt really great. I didn't feel like I was working hard and felt like I could maintain that pace for a lot longer. I used the first loop to get an idea of how the course plays out so that I knew when and where to push the pace.

The hills on the second loop really tired me out but I still made sure to take them easy. In general the second loop wasn't terribly exciting. I was feeling progressively more tired but not exhausted yet.

At the start of the third loop, though, I felt drained. I was getting passed pretty frequently and felt like I had run out of energy. I was really frustrated since my running had been going so well lately but I didn't let my frustration get me down. I slowed down a lot on the hills, hoping I would be able to use the energy I saved in the final mile around the lake.

At the last water station I took 2 cups of water and then took off. I am not sure what happened but suddenly I was full of energy again. I started running hard and was passing everybody in sight. I felt like I was flying! It was such a great finish to the race because I felt so strong all of a sudden. I knew my time wasn't anything spectacular but it was a huge improvement over what my half marathon times predicted I could do.

9.3 miles
9:48 pace

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Another Night at the Track

After years of hating running at the track I am constantly craving my time running fast around the oval lately. I love running in the evening and even more so love doing hard, fast runs in the evening. Maybe it is because as a swimmer we had finals at night and my body is accustomed to going harder at night. Who knows. But combining running in the evening and running fast and I am a very happy girl.

After not being able to get in a track workout while on vacation I was anxious and excited for my workout this week. Of course I went the first day home on Monday. So far all of my workouts have been centered around hard 400's. I don't know why but there is something I really love about that distance.

This week, though, I wanted to try something a little longer since I will be running longer intervals as marathon training ramps up. I decided to compromise and do both 800's and 400's. Since this is the first time that I am really training hard for a race I am being ambitious with my goal time and paces. When running at the track I just kind of run hard and am satisfied with that but it is nice to see that I am right in the range for my goals.

3x 800 hard, 400 recovery
Goal: 3:36-3:47

I really didn't know how to pace myself for these 800's. Sometimes I would start out too fast and then die, while other times I started off too slow and wasn't able to recover. My splits are all over the place but I am generally happy with them. I really pushed the third repeat but in general none of them felt completely taxing. Faster paces are really getting easier, which is so amazing to me.

3:40 (7:24), 3:45 (7:30), 3:30 (7:01)

Next week I am going to do more 800's and practice running more consistently. The problem is I want to sprint but then can't hold on. I was surprised that the minimal recovery time really didn't seem to bother me. I thought it would really tire me out but I felt pretty good the whole time.

3x 400 sprint, 800 recovery
Goal: 1:36-1:47

I love the feeling of sprinting during 400's. I feel so fast, free, and just completely amazing. These weren't my fastest splits for 400's but they were pretty darn close.

1:38 (6:24), 1:38 (6:30), 1:35 (6:17)

I really love that these paces and becoming my normal. They feel comfortably hard and doable. Don't get me wrong, I am not going easy at the track. I'm not pushing myself to 100% though. That is for races. Regardless, I love my weekly sessions at the track and can't wait to continue to see improvement.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Keystone State Tri Training Week 3

Last week was a much needed vacation week for me. I went to the beach with my family and my boyfriend and spent the whole time relaxing and enjoying some time off. I was able to squeeze in a few workouts though.

I started the week off with an open water swim in the bay. I wasn't expecting the salt water to burn my throat so much and the water was fairly choppy. I felt really good in the water though and didn't panic at all. I had high hopes of doing a few open water swims during the week but low tide got the best of me.

My boyfriend & I went kayaking in the bay behind our house and really enjoyed the nature in Chincoteague. Afterwards we headed out for a run but I twisted my ankle which made my knee hurt. I decided not to push it and did an Insanity workout with my sister.

My sister, her boyfriend, & I woke up early to go to beach yoga. It wasn't the best yoga class I've ever gone to but the idea was really nice. It was a great way to start the day off.

After a long day out in the sun I had to force myself to go out for my long run. I ran right along the water though which made it so much more enjoyable. I did three miles warm up, 3 miles at half marathon pace, and then two miles warm down. The wind was really strong during the first hard mile but then it settled down. I ran the half marathon pace miles in 9:28, 9:00, 8:19. Not exactly consistent but still solid paces.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday:
Rest. The beach was far better than working out.

Weekly Totals

  • Swimming: 900 meters
  • Running: 11 miles
  • Kayaking: 40 min
  • Insanity: 20 min
  • Yoga: 45 min
  • Total hours: 3 hours 54 min