Monday, June 30, 2014

York YWCA Y-Tri Sprint Triathlon Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rev3 Poconos 70.3 Training Week 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Little Bit About My 70.3 Training Plan

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

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

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

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

From Monday's long ride

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

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

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

My kind of recovery

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

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rev3 Poconos 70.3 Training Week 3

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

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

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

Anyway, this is how the week played out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Day that Wasn't Meant to Be

On my schedule for this morning was a long bike ride. With a 50% chance of rain I went to bed knowing that the ride might not be happening. I've ridden in the rain before but try to avoid heavy rain or solo biking in the rain. I had a contingency plan in place in case in was raining, which of course it was. I would move my long ride to Monday and go to the gym to swim and strength train instead. Back to bed I went.

When I woke up at 8:00 it was bright and sunny out. I checked the weather to see the radar was clear with the storms removed from the forecast. Bike ride was back on. I got all my gear packed up and drove to my starting location only for it to start raining. Ugh. I tried to wait out the storm but the rain only came down harder. 

Off to the pool I went. I was progressing nicely through my workout when the lifeguard whistled for us to get out. The storms were back and were not going to let me get any of my workouts in. I took it as a sign to enjoy a little extra rest and be ready to tackle the weekend's workouts with more gusto. 

I try to be flexible with my training and always have a backup plan if inclement weather is in the forecast but some things you just can't plan for. Initially I was pretty frustrated about missing part of my swim. I was beating myself up over it, like it somehow meant I wasn't going to be ready for my races at the end of the summer. While I was lifting at the gym I finally realized how ridiculous I was being, especially since swimming is the least of my worries.

Sometimes training, and life, doesn't go according to plan and you know what, that's okay. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rev3 Poconos 70.3 Training Week 2

Week two went pretty well if I do say so myself. I love weeks like this that remind me why I train for triathlons. There were quite a few times when I didn't want to go work out but as soon as I started I was glad I did. Case in point, Sunday's long bike ride. I had been nervous about this ride all week and quite frankly was dreading it. It was pretty windy out and my legs were less than fresh so I was expecting this to be a strugglefest. Instead I had one of the best rides I've ever had. I relaxed and everything fell into place.

What I still need to work on is my nutrition. In the past I more or less ate whatever I wanted with the occasional night of binge eating pita chips. I finally decided it was time to make a change when I was barely sleeping and waking up feeling bloated every morning. I also knew that if I was going to have a real shot at going after my lofty goals I was going to have to fuel my body properly.

My nutrition throughout the week was pretty spot on and I never felt under or overfueled on any workouts. Unfortunately I didn't exactly nail my long ride fueling and was left with a nice coating of salt all over my face. Yesterday I went to REI and stocked up on some new fueling goodies and salt caps for this week's ride. All in all though things went pretty well.

Monday- 2600 yd swim, strength
Tuesday- yoga, 6.31 miles track
Wednesday- 26.08 miles biking
Thursday- 2700 yd swim
Friday- rest
Saturday- 6.4 mile run, strength
Sunday- 35.46 miles biking

5300 yards swimming
61.54 miles biking
12.71 miles running
10 hrs 09 min total

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Track Workout & a Hard Ride

Because my first week of 70.3 training wasn't up to my standards I've been putting in extra effort to ensure that this week is much better. Since I am not working with a coach this year I have to be the one to take the time and plan out my workouts each week. I have a shell of a plan that consists of mostly long bike rides and runs and when I will have cutback weeks. But I think adapting each week to how you feel and how your training has been going is really important. I sat down over the weekend and scheduled all my workouts as well as all my meals so I know I'm getting enough fuel to keep me going strong. Between the dietary changes and getting more sleep I already feel so much better.

Tuesday night I went to the track for the third time this year. Both my run speed and endurance are lacking so I'm on a mission to get them back. Since my next triathlon is a sprint I am focusing more on speed now and will spend the later part of the summer working on endurance. One of my problems with the track and doing hard workouts is that I can't seem to get my legs to turn over faster. Once I get going the speed is pretty much there; it just takes awhile to get going.

My workout Tuesday was
15 min warmup
2x [1 min on, 1 min off, 2 min on, 2 min off, 3 min on, 3 min off]
6x [100m sprint, 100m recovery]
10 min warm down

This is a favorite workout of mine that Mike had me do a lot last summer. I like that it can be done anywhere, regardless of terrain or elevation. I have done this workout at the beach in Chincoteague, in the Florida Keys, on the trails near school and at the track. It's also a fun little ladder that makes the workout fly by. I added the 100m sprints at the end to try to encourage my legs to start moving faster.

7:19, 7:30, 7:37
7:09, 7:32, 7:25

I was honestly surprised with how this workout went. It was definitely not the fastest I have done it but it was far from the slowest too. I felt strong and powerful and loved nearly every minute I was out there. I do need to work on embracing the pain a little more.

Then last night I went to my first group ride of the summer. I get nervous biking on certain roads around York by myself and end up doing the same routes over and over again. Going to these group rides shows me new routes and also lets me practice riding with other people. My bike skills are less than perfect so that's definitely something I need to work on.

This ride was hard. Like I was struggling to keep up with three middle aged women. Normally I get a little behind on the flats but catch back up on the hills. Nope. I actually held my own on the flats but was almost completely dropped on every climb. This was certainly a humbling ride but it was exactly what I needed. If I want that sub 2:40 Olympic or sub 6:00 half ironman I need to really work on my biking.

The best part about the ride was the women were so friendly and inviting. I knew my legs were tired from Tuesday's track workout but I was surprised just how tired they really were. I know if I keep coming back each week I'll eventually be able to keep up with them the entire ride.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Rev3 Poconos 70.3 Training Week 1

I debated whether or not I wanted to share my training for my upcoming half ironman but ultimately I decided to because reading other people's is what convinced me I could do one.

Week one wasn't perfect and I'm sure most weeks won't be perfect. The important thing for me is getting in quality work and consistency. Heading into triathlon season I am ahead with my swimming and biking compared to last year but my running is behind, which will likely influence my training over the next few weeks.

Monday- rest
Tuesday- 50 min strength
Wednesday- 2400 yd swim, 5.46 miles track
Thursday- 55 min yoga, 30 min core
Friday- 6 mile run, 50 min strength
Saturday- 30 min core
Sunday- 2.11 mile run, 9.82 miles bike (reverse mini-brick)

Like I said, this week wasn't perfect but I still got in some good workouts. Wednesday's track workout and Friday's easy run were both great, but then Sunday's attempt at a double brick was a disaster. I'm trying to be smart about my training so when my legs were struggling to finish one lap of a normally moderate route I knew I needed to make some changes. This week is all about better nutrition and more sleep.

2400 yards swimming

9.82 miles biking
13.57 miles running
7 hrs 12 minutes total