Weekly Recap (11/21-11/27)

Monday: Swim—2350 yards
I went to the pool for Masters again.  We had a day that focused on lots of harder intervals with more rest.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 10 kick roll
4 x 50 closed fist
200 swim
200 (medium, kick, easy, fast)
150 (kick, easy, fast)
100 (easy, fast)
50 fast
100 fast
150 fast
200 fast
200 easy
I swam reasonably well.  There was another set after-the-fact, but I decided to leave a little early so I could get to work a little early.  Since I just barely started my new job, I don’t have any PTO, so I’ve been working extra to make up the time I’ll be taking off for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday: Run—3.23 miles
I went to the track for a mostly easy pre-work run.  Most of the run was just basic, steady-state cardio, but I threw in a couple 400s at (well, a little faster than) race pace.  I felt fine during this workout.  I didn’t want it to be anything difficult, and it wasn’t.

Wednesday: Rest
I took the day off and drove up to Idaho for Thanksgiving.

Thursday: Struttin’ for Stuffin’ 5k—20:55
I’ll write up a race report, but suffice to say, the race went far better than I thought iit would, and I gave it everything.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been so wrecked after a 5k before.

Friday: Rest
I took Friday off to recover and eat leftovers.

Saturday: Rest
I ended up leaving for Salt Lake a day early because I was a little worried the weather forecast on Sunday. I was thinking of running with my dad, but with the change of plans, I didn’t have the time. I also felt myself getting a bit of a cold, and I had a really low (~99) fever.

Sunday: Rest
I woke up with a pretty sore throat and feeling a bit worse than I did on Saturday. I didn’t feel terrible by any means and still felt up to going to church and doing some housework, but I decided on a rest day (and would have probably taken another one anyway, even if I had felt great).

Weekly Recap (11/14-11/20)

Monday: Swim—2600 yards
On Monday morning, I went to the pool for Masters.  We did a distance day, which I tend to enjoy.
300 swim
200 kick
200 pull
4 x 50 D.P.S
4 x 50 10-kick roll
500 pace
10 x 50 6-beat kick @ :30
5 x 100 descend
I ended up hopping out the pool before the final planned 500 swim.  I wanted to make sure I was early for my first day of my new job.  The job went well, and I was plenty early.

Tuesday: Run—10k (5 x 1200)
I didn’t know what to expect for my workout on Tuesday.  Honestly, I still felt pretty crappy about everything, and I wasn’t sure if I had the fitness or the drive to fully complete the plan.  But I gave it a shot.
1600m warmup
5 x 1200 with 400 jog recovery
(4:58.4, 4:56.7, 4:54.9, 4:55.9, 4:52.3)
800m cooldown
I took the 1200s one at a time mentally.  The first one felt rough, and I wondered if I had it in me to complete the workout.  I fell behind my pace two laps into the second interval, but I rallied to finish a little faster than I had on my first one.  From then, I told myself I only had to do four and could stop after that.  However, while the fourth was hard, I was able to hold the pace well.  So I decided to do the final planned interval.  This one was much the same, but I really pushed the last 100m.  Last one, fast one.  After this workout, I actually felt okay.

Wednesday: Swim—2600 yards
Another morning at masters.  This was a stroke day, meaning we focused more on form.  Fortunately, the stroke we did was freestyle.  It’s the little things.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 kick, swim
4 x 50 closed fist
100 easy
4 x 125 (75 build, 50 fast)
100 easy
8 x 25 breakout @ :30
4 x 75 kick, scull, swim
100 easy
3 x 100 descend
There’s not too much to say about this workout.  The 125s were tough and had me breathing hard, as did the 100s at the end.  I didn’t perform wonderfully, but I made it through the workout.

Thursday: Rest
I took a rest day on Thursday.

Friday: Run—4 miles, 1.63 tempo miles @ 6:45/mile
I was going to swim Friday morning, but when I got to the pool, I learned the boilers were out which meant cold air, cold pool, and cold showers.  So I decided not to.  Then at lunch I did my workout.  I was supposed to do two tempo miles at 6:45/mile on the treadmill.
1.5 miles @ 10:00/mile
1.63 miles @ 6:44/mile
.87 miles @ 10:00/mile
I had a rough day on Friday, and I just gave up with less than a half a mile (and less than three minutes) to go. I’m not sure why I gave up considering I think my legs could have handled it. My mind just broke down. And then that evening, I broke down sobbing twice for absolutely no reason.

Saturday: Rest
I was supposed to go on a bike ride, but I decided not to.  I actually felt better than I had in a while on Saturday and didn’t have a terrible day.

Sunday: Run—7 miles (1:01:59)
I went on a run on Sunday morning.  It was unseasonably warm and I was able to run in just a t-shirt and shorts.  I took most of the run pretty easy, but I tried to speed up the last mile and ended up running it just around 7:00.  (It was all very downhill, though, so it’s not too impressive!)

Weekly Recap (11/07-11/13)

A note about this week: My motivation evaporated in the middle of the week because of the election.  There was sobbing.  And I’m not ashamed to admit that.  Afterwards, nothing really seemed to matter.  Maybe that feeling will evaporate, and maybe it won’t.  As someone who has suffered at the hands of toxic masculinity, it opened up some old wounds that went above and beyond political issues. I was just starting to believe that maybe bullies and abusers don’t always win, and then we elected one as the President of the United States of America.  It is what it is.

Monday: Swim—2600 yards
I headed to the pool on Monday for Masters.  We did a mid-distance day with broken 200s.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
7 x 50 fast kick, easy swim
4 x 50 closed fist
4 x [2 x 75 build
50 hard
50 easy]
3 x 100 kick @ 2:10
3 x 50 @ :45
I felt a little tired in the pool.  I didn’t feel super strong, but it was still a solid workout.  The kicking set wrecked me, as is normally the case.  Kicking is hard.

Tuesday: Rest
I actually headed to the track early in the morning for a speed workout, but my calf was bothering me from my hill work on Sunday.  Because it only hurt on one side and the rest of my body was only a little stiff and sore from the workout, I decided not to push it.  I’m not exactly young anymore, and last time I ignored an ache like this it stuck around for quite a long time.

Wednesday: Run—3.55 miles (32:36)
I tried to run this morning, but I had only had about four hours of very disturbed sleep.  I was going to swim and go for a long run, but this was all I could manage.

Thursday: Run—4800m (2 x 1200)
Another half-complete workout.  I was supposed to do five 1200s, but I didn’t have the heart and decided to be kind to myself for one more day.
1600m warmup
2 x 1200 (4:59, 4:58)
800m cooldown
It was hard.  I don’t know if I could have made it through the five 1200s, but all I wanted to do was curl up and give up, so I did.  I don’t regret it.  It’s just sports.  It doesn’t matter.

Friday: Swim—2100 yards + dry land drills
We did a snake drill for the majority of practice on Friday. In this drill, we swim back and forth and do a set of exercises on the pool deck at each end of the pool.
300 swim
200 reverse IM
200 IM kick
200 inverse IM
6 x 50 closed fist
4 x 25 underwater
Snake drill
10 x 50 @ :50
If I had been swimming on my own, I would have just given up on this workout. It wasn’t terribly hard but again… the heart just wasn’t there. And I don’t have any important enough goals coming up soon to propel me through the lack of heart

Saturday: Rest
I was going to go on a bike ride, but I couldn’t muster up the energy.

Sunday: Run—9.55 miles (1:24:32)
So, this was the first workout since Tuesday where I didn’t get so overwhelmed with apathy and hopelessness in the middle that I just didn’t care and wanted to give up. It was an okay run.  I felt good throughout the run, and I managed to run around an 8:51/mile pace easily, even though I ran fairly early in the morning and before my muscles had really woken up.

Weekly Recap (10/31-11/06)

Monday: Swim—2200 yards
We had our Halloween workout at Masters. It was a blast. We “trick-or-treated” and chose one door before each set.  All the sets were Halloween themed, too.
300 swim
200 pull
3 x 50 D.P.S
3 x 50 closed fist
3 x 50 swim
200 tombstone kick
50 slow zombie
6 x 50 ninja swim
200 two-headed monster
4 x 100 monster mash
Screamin’ 100
It was a blast.  I love themed workouts, and this one was no exception.  Plus, we got to do a fast 100 off the blocks at the end which I always love doing.

My lane pretty much chose door one the entire time.

Tuesday: Rest
I was dead-tired after staying up until 11:00pm (the horror!) playing a cute Halloween video game (Costume Quest).  So I took the day off and switched my tentatively-planned workouts around to accommodate the rest day.  I didn’t regret this decision for a second.

Wednesday: Swim—2400 yards; Run—3 tempo miles, 5.95 total (51:59)
It was a stroke day, and we worked on freestyle.  Freestyle days are the best.  Stroke days have been frustrating for me lately because I’m not magically great at them and I’m realizing that gaining competence in those strokes will take a lot of work.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 D.P.S
4 x 50 closed fist
100 kick
3 x 50 10-kick roll
3 x 50 early vertical forearm
3 x 50 hip snap
3 x 50 windmill
8 x 75 descend 1-4, 5-8
100 easy
I felt okay, but I haven’t been feeling all that strong in the pool lately.  I’m not sure if it’s the general busyness and stress of this past month or if it’s imaginary or if it’s something else.  I may just need a good uptick in weekly yardage.

During lunch, I did a tempo run.  I was aiming for three miles at a 7:10/mile pace, and I hit that pace.  I was running the same route I did a few weeks ago.
1.77 miles @ 9:45/mile (17:15)
3 miles @ 7:06/mile (21:19)
1.18 miles @ 11:20/mile (13:23)
As usual, I started a little fast.  However, I held myself in check a little better this week than I did for my tempo run last week.  And it wasn’t as painful as my tempo run last week either.  Both good things. And even though I was a hair slower than the last time I did this workout, I felt stronger at the end, even though it was my second workout of the day.  Still, I’m feeling unsure about my sub-21 goal at my upcoming Turkey Trot.  I’m wondering if 21:30 is more realistic, but I’m still planning on aiming for my original goal come race day.  Go big or go home!

Thursday: Run—9.14 miles (1:18:22)
I did my weekly long run over an extended lunch hour.  My original plan was to run in the morning, but when I saw it was going to be 39° on Thursday morning, I nixed that idea in favor of a warmer lunch run.  I felt fairly strong for the duration of this run, despite feeling the heaviness in my legs from Wednesday’s tempo run.  The weather was perfect, and I actually enjoyed most of the run.  Plus, after going for a long run during lunch, I felt super accomplished and pleasantly exhausted for the rest of the afternoon.

Friday: Swim—2400 yards
We had a pretty decent workout in the pool.  I tried to take it fairly easy because I knew I had a swim meet the next day.
200 reverse IM
200 IM kick
200 inverse IM
6 x 50 closed fist
4 x 25 underwater
10 minute swim (675 yards)
125 easy
20 x 25 @ :25
100 easy
I did the 10 minute swim comfortably hard and managed to hit about a 1:30/100 yard pace during it which seemed like a good sign for my 500 yard freestyle at the swim meet the next day.  Additionally, the 25s were manageable as well, and I swam most of them right around 20 seconds, despite taking it relatively easy.

Saturday: Swim meet
I’ll post a recap of this later in the week, but overall, I was pleased with how it went.  I did four events: the 50 free, 500 free, 100 free and 200 free.  With warmups and cooldowns factored in, I’d guess I ended up swimming between 2000 and 2500 yards for the day.

Sunday: Hill repeats, 4.74 miles total (51:15)
I was planning on doing intervals at the track, but when I got to the track, it was all locked up.  Ugh.  I almost decided to skip working out at all, but I rallied and decided to do some hill repeats as a replacement for speed work
1.81 miles @ 10:31/mile (19:03)
6 x 0.14 mile hill (jog back down for recovery)
1:05.5, 1:09.7, 1:08.9,
1:05.8, 1:07.6, 1:07.3
1.25 miles @  10:30/mile (13:08)
Most of my hill repeats were in the ballpark of an 8:00/mile pace, plus or minus 20 seconds.  (Being such a short distance, just a few seconds makes a big difference in the pace.)  The hill I ran is tough (11% grade), so these repeats hurt.  Sitting here writing about it, I wonder if I could have or should have busted out another two for eight instead of six, but I was pretty gutted at the end of the workout, so that might not have been realistic.

Life lately

October was busy.  Good busy, but busy nonetheless.

So even though I’ve been posting regularly, I feel as if I’ve fallen off a bit as a blogger.  I’ve been posting, and I’ve been (mostly) keeping up on reading, but I haven’t been commenting much, and neither blogging nor training have been the priorities they were when I was training for my Ironman.

Despite my natural tendency to shy away from busy-ness, this period of time has been beneficial.

I wasn’t training for an Ironman anymore, but my mind was still in training mode.  I wanted to take a break but didn’t know quite how to approach it.  It was kind of like I had forgotten how to be a normal human being.  Having a month jam-packed full of other things allowed me to reset my focus and to remember what it’s actually like to exercise regularly (and even train for specific events) without it being the primary focus in my life.

I’ve socialized more this month than I had in the past six months combined.

Rob and I had two weddings to attend this month.  They were both in Boise which meant two whirlwind weekend road trips.  He ended up getting sick and staying home for one of them, but both weddings were wonderful.

My mom made us take a picture, so we revolted and posed with the present.

In addition to the weddings, we had some friends (actually, one of the newly married couples!) come into town for the weekend.  We showed them around Salt Lake City and went to a couple of our favorite restaurants.

And then, of course, there was Halloween weekend.  Neither Rob nor I had a costume this year, but it was a busy weekend nonetheless.  On Saturday, we went up to the mountains for a Halloween party, and on Sunday, we had some friends over and carved pumpkins.  Rob’s haunted house jack-o-lantern was the star of the show.

A host of jack-o-lanterns.  Rob did the rad haunted house.  I did the two goofy ones.

I (pretty unsuccessfully) tried to get on top of regular adult tasks like going to the bank and doing the dishes.  Some improvements were made, but this aspect of my life still has the “needs improvement” label.

The biggest change this month is that I got a new job as a medical writer.  This job is much closer to home, and I should be able to commute by bike most days.  But the application process was fast and furious.  And since the process included quite a few different steps, it took up a decent chunk of my time and mental energy.  Of course, it was well worth it, and I’m excited to start once I finish up at my current job.

Needless to say, there’s been a lot going on and a lot of (mostly) good stress.  I’m still looking forward to a few low-key weeks that will allow me to rest and recharge, though.

Weekly Recap (10/24-10/30)

Monday: Swim—2550 yards
I headed to the pool early, despite being a bit tired from a late night for me.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (10 kick roll)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
10 x 100 @ 1:40
100 easy
3 x 100 sprint @ 3:30 (1:16, 1:16, 1:16)
150 easy
I swam okay.  I was hitting 1:25-1:30 for my 100s.  I wished I had been able to hit those final fast 100s a little better, but my legs were burning for the last 25 yards, and my arms were basically Jell-o by the time I was done.  It felt like one of those days where effort was more important than performance.

Tuesday: Run—8.4km (6 x 800m)
I headed off to the track before the sun came up for some 800m repeats.  I didn’t know quite what to expect from this workout, but I wanted to work on my goal pace for my 5k (6:45/mile).  So I decided to do 800m repeats because I wasn’t sure if I was ready for 1600m repeats at that pace yet.  I didn’t feel great going into this workout.  I had a bit of a scratchy throat and runny nose, and my legs felt a little heavy, so I was a bit surprised when I busted out a really solid workout.
1600m warmup
6 x 800m (200m jog between repeats)
3:15.5, 3:17.9, 3:16.2
3:16.5, 3:16.3, 3:08.2
200m (39.2)
800m cooldown
I was very consistent and ended up with a very fast (for me) final repeat.  I ran the first half of that 800 in around 1:37 and just hammered the last 400 as hard as I could.  I hadn’t planned on running an additional 200 at the end, but I realized I was just 200m away from running the full distance of the 5k at or below race pace.  So I took a minute of static rest after the final 800 and then ran a final 200 at a hard pace.  Since I’m naturally better as the repeats get shorter, I’m under no illusions that nailing this workout means I’m ready to run a sub-21 5k, but I’m hoping that over the next few weeks, I can increase the distance of these race pace intervals and feel prepared.

Wednesday: Swim—2250 yards
It was IM (individual medley) day at the pool.  These days are always a little rough for me because I suck so badly at strokes other than freestyle.  But it’s good for me, I guess.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
100 swim
4 x 50 (kick, swim)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
4 x 75 (rolling IM kick)
100 easy
100 IM (1:35)
4 x 75 (rolling IM kick)
100 easy
200 IM (3:25)
50 easy
I’m not sure I’m making any progress at all on my not-freestyle strokes which is a little frustrating.  These days are where I really feel my disadvantage as a mostly-adult-onset swimmer.

Thursday: Rest
I took Thursday as a rest day. There’s not much to note except that sleeping in a bit was enjoyable.

Friday: Swim—2200 yards; Run—4 tempo miles, 7.2 total (1:03:07)
We did a hypoxic workout at Masters which means we worked on swimming without breathing very much.  Hypoxic sets are rough, and I’m a total baby when it comes to not breathing, but I managed it.
200 reverse IM
200 IM kick
200 inverse IM
6 x 50 closed fist
8 x 50 @ 1:00 (breathe every 3, 5, 7, 9 strokes)
100 easy
12 x 25 @ :30 (20 breaths total)
100 total
2 x 50 fast (1 breath down, 2 breaths back)
100 easy
4 x 25 underwater
100 easy
The hardest part was the recovery. When you are limiting your breathing, you just require a ton more recovery before feeling up to the next set.  Throughout the rest of the day, I periodically made sure to appreciate the fact that I could breathe whenever I wanted.

I took a long lunch at work and did my tempo run.  I was aiming for four miles at a 7:30/mile pace.  I was feeling a bit shaky when I started out, but that happens often enough that I know it’s not the sole indicator as to how a run will go.  This was a hard workout, but I got it done.
1.78 miles @ 9:37/mile (17:08)
4 miles @ 7:22/mile (29:27)
1.42 miles @ 11:37 (16:30)
At the first time checkpoint during my tempo miles, I was supposed to be at 1:12.  When I glanced down at my watch, I hadn’t even hit a minute yet.  I don’t know how I started out fast by that much, but I slowed down to a more reasonable pace.  Still, the entire first mile was too fast, and I hoped I hadn’t tired myself out too much.  I struggled through most of this workout, and I honestly thought about calling it quits at 1.5 tempo miles (and then at 2 miles and then at 2.5… you get the idea).  However, I kept going and held a 7:30 pace pretty consistently.  I sped up a bit for the final half mile or so (I just wanted to be done!) and promptly stopped for some gasping once I finished my tempo miles.  After that, I did a shuffle-jog cool down.

Saturday: Bike—15.16 miles (1:06:42)
I was hoping to go on a longer bike ride on Saturday, but Rob and I had a pretty jam-packed day.  We went to see our friend in a cyclocross race midmorning, and we a Halloween party way up in the mountains that night.  So we fit in a short ride with cyclocross friend after the race.  We just did a coffee shop ride, or fifteen miles and a pastry, as Rob calls it.  Still, it was good to get out on the bike, and I needed a bit of a rest after the previous day.

Sunday: Run—9.6 miles (1:27:11)
I didn’t get a ton of sleep because of the Halloween party the night before, so I coaxed myself into a run by reminding myself that I could (and was supposed to) go easy.  I woke up a little after six and spent an hour or so waking up before heading off for a run.  I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to go, and I actually decided partway through the run to go a little longer than my initial plan.  It was a beautiful fall morning, perfectly overcast but still warm, so I wanted to take advantage of it.  The leaves were falling, and the neighborhoods were gorgeous.

Old photo, but this is about what it looks like outside right now.

Haunted 5k Race Report (10/22/2016)

I waffled big time about whether or not I wanted to sign up for this race.  On the one hand, the timing worked out well.  On the other hand, I could do a bike ride on Saturday.  On the one hand, I’m very familiar with the course.  On the other hand, there are a few hills in here.  On the one hand, I did want to see how well I could run.  On the other hand, meh.

Obviously, since you are reading this, I decided to run the Haunted 5k.  I knew the festive environment would be a ton of fun, and I wanted to get a good idea of my fitness since I decided I wanted to break 21 minutes in a Turkey Trot in November.  However, as usual, I felt less than confident, this time because I’ve been doing a lot of my runs by my office recently which means less built-in hill training.  Still, I set a goal.

I wanted to hit 21:44.  That would be a sub-7:00/mile pace and a pretty solid PR.

Based on my recent training paces, I felt that was feasible.  I also felt like I could easily surprise myself and run faster than that or disappoint myself and run quite a bit slower than that.  It just depended on the day and how I handled a course that was hillier than I’ve been running recently.

I picked up my number and swag bag on Friday afternoon.  Because the race was associated with a larger half marathon that day, the swag and expo were excellent for a 5k.  I got a long-sleeve t-shirt, a pair of knit gloves, and a few trinkets from the booths that were there, including a portable phone charger.

Rob and I watched a zombie movie (Juan of the Dead) to get into a spooky mood, and I went home and got to bed pretty early.

I woke up around 6:00am the next morning for the race at 9:00am.  I like to give my body plenty of time to wake up before racing.  I ate some cereal and a banana and had some coffee before heading out to the race site just before 8:00am.  I got there and started my warmup up by running to the bathroom, checking out the finish line, and then running back to my car.  It was the perfect fall morning.


I kept an eye out for Rob.  He had tentatively planned on riding his bike out to the race that morning, but I had let him know it was a good race to skip.  He loves Halloween, though, so I suspected I’d see him there sooner or later.

After I warmed up a bit, I headed over to a group of people congregating around the starting line.  I realized with dismay that they were setting up the start line a good tenth of a mile behind the starting line indicated on the course map.  I knew that the course map likely didn’t take tangents into account, but it seemed like a very long distance to make up for tangents in a measly 5k.  I was worried that the course would be wrong and that I would miss setting a PR for a frustrating reason.  Additionally, I knew that regardless of whether the course actually ended up being long, the extra tenth of a mile at the beginning of the race would seriously screw with the timing checkpoints I had set for myself.  However, there wasn’t anything I could do, so I lined up with the idea that, in a worst-case scenario, I’d get in a really hard workout.

The race started, and I quickly settled into the position as first woman, running right behind a guy that was aiming for a 6:30/mile pace.  I knew that was a too fast and tried not to keep up with him, but I got excited, and since I suspected my own timing checkpoints were useless, I stayed closer to him that I should have for the first part of the race.  Sure enough, I reached my first timing checkpoint in about 1:45 instead of 1:07.  Since I wasn’t running nine minute miles, I knew that the position of the starting line was to blame for the extra time.  But again, it was what it was, so I tried to use the guy ahead me to pace myself.  I slowed down some (still not enough) and let him slowly increase the gap.



After I settled into my pace in the first mile, a woman ran by me.  She was running strong, and I could tell she was running comfortably, so I didn’t try to stay with her.  Most of the first mile or so of the course is on slight incline, and I stayed right behind a young guy (who was probably in junior high or so).  Not long before the first mile marker, we turned left onto a neighborhood road and started heading downhill.  I naturally sped up and went past him.  I tried to keep an easy pace downhill while still taking advantage of the free speed.  Unfortunately, there was no first mile marker, so I still had no idea exactly how quickly I was running.

Throughout the second mile, it became more and more evident that I had started out too quickly.  I held strong throughout the first half of the second mile, but even just halfway through the race, I was struggling.  I knew I had slowed down some, but I tried to stay strong.  I find when I’m tired in a race, thinking about my form or the “strength” of my stride is much more effective at keeping my pace up than thinking of running fast.  This part of the race was a slight downhill, so that helped as well.  During this part of the race, I was running alone.  I could periodically hear someone not too far behind me, but there probably wasn’t anyone less than 30 seconds ahead of me.

I ran back into Sugarhouse Park right before hitting the two-mile mark.  There was a mile marker for this mile, and I was surprised to see 13:5x on my watch as I passed it.  I figured this meant that the race wasn’t going to be long after all and that I had a good chance at a PR.  However, I was already struggling, and the idea of running another full mile (and then some) was tough.  Oddly enough, I think at this point, seeing the mile marker actually hurt my mental state.  I’ve run the loop around Sugarhouse Park dozens of times.  Thinking of the literal road ahead of me that I had to run would have been more manageable than thinking of it as the measurement of one mile.


Still, I soldiered on.  I was struggling with slight side aches on both sides and focused on my breathing to try to keep those side aches from hitting the level where they would affect my speed.  The profile of the final mile was a fairly steep downhill section followed by a sharp uphill and then a gentle decline before turning onto the grass and finishing up cross-country style.  I managed the downhill, though by that point, the jarring downhill wasn’t much more pleasant than a flat course.

Then I approached the hill.  It’s not a horrible hill, but I was struggling as it was.  There was a spooky tunnel right on the bottom of the hill that distracted me slightly, but then I had to face the music.  I tried to power up the hill and not let it get to me.  It certainly wasn’t as bad as the hill workout I had done a few weeks ago, but my quads were in rough shape by the time I reached the top.  At that point, I was less than half a mile from the finish and knew I just needed to gut it out for about three more minutes.


Three minutes?  No problem!

Those last three minutes hurt, but I kept pushing it.  The final quarter mile or so of the course took us over the grass and through some spooky inflatable Halloween decorations.  Just as I saw the finish, I heard someone coming up behind me.  Let it be a guy! The kid I had passed around the first mile marker sprinted by me to finish just ahead of me.  He had a stellar kick.  I pushed through to the finish line a few seconds later.  I saw the clock tick over to 21:44 just as I crossed the line, so I knew I was close to my goal, and since I had taken a second or so to cross the finish line, I suspected I had gotten it.



I managed to make it over to a curb of some sort and sat down.  I was exhausted.

Suddenly, I heard someone behind me. “Good job, Goof!”

I turned around and saw Rob! (“Goof” is his nickname for me.) He had made it to the park after all.  He had gotten there just in time to see me start, and had been able to see me finish up the race as well.  We chatted for a moment, and I finally felt up to moving.  So I walked out of the finisher’s area past some hot pizzas (pizza at 9:30 in the morning after a race?), and walked over to the results trailer to get my official results.  I typed in my number, and the computer printed out a receipt.  Second woman overall with a time of 21:42.1.  The half marathon that was run along with the 5k attracted a lot of the more serious runners (the first woman in the half marathon ran a 1:18!), so I was able to make the overall podium for the first time ever.

After checking the results, Rob and I went and got my bag, which I had stashed next to a tree up near the starting line.  Rob ended up riding home from there, and I went back to the finisher’s area to wait for the 5k awards.

It was a cool experience to have my name announced and to stand up on the podium with the first- and third-placed woman.  Plus, the haul was pretty good for the size of the 5k field.  I won a short-sleeve t-shirt with the same design as the long-sleeve one, a pink trucker hat, a thin windbreaker (that will be great for early or late season bike rides), and free entry into next year’s 5k.

I was pleased with my performance at the Haunted 5k, but it didn’t exactly build confidence that I can break 21 minutes in a less than a month at the Turkey Trot I plan on doing.  However, I’ve got another three weeks of training time ahead of me, and I’ll have the advantage of a flat course and lower elevation in November.  Plus, my older sister is going to pace me.* I feel like I have a good chance of setting another PR in a month, but I’m just not sure how big that PR will be.

The stats
Time- 21:42.1
Average pace- 6:59.1/mile
Place- 2/401


*I know it’s a little silly to get paced to a mediocre 5k PR, but she’s training for a 5k in mid-November, and we thought this race a couple weeks later would be a fun thing to do together.  And since she’s way faster than me, the only way we’d actually be running the race together instead of just running the same race is if she paces me.

Weekly Recap (10/17-10/23)

Monday: Swim—2850 yards
I had a fairly late night on Sunday, so Monday morning was a bit rough.  But I made it up and to swim practice.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
5 x 50 (10 kick roll)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
2 x 200 @ 3:00
100 kick
2 x 200 @ 3:00
100 kick
2 x 200 @ 3:00
100 easy
200 fast (2:37)
We were supposed to swim all the 200s except the last one at the same pace.  I didn’t do a great job at that, and my times ranged from 2:45 to 2:55.  It would have been better to have closer to a five second discrepancy instead of a ten second discrepancy.  However, I was able to rally and swim a strong final 200.  In fact, I ended up swimming it with a negative split.  And with the time I swam in practice, I think that a sub-2:30 200 is possible if/when I decide to swim the 200 in a meet.

Tuesday: Run—3 tempo miles, 5.95 total (51:40)
I went to work early so I could go for a run over my lunch hour. I was dreading this run. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to manage three miles at a 7:15/mile pace in a practice session, and I knew it would be a hard workout. So I put it off for as long as I could before begrudgingly leaving the office at 11:45am. However, despite my protestations, the run went well, and I hit my target goals and then some.
1.77 miles @ 9:43 (17:18)
3 miles @ 7:06 (21:17)
1.18 miles @ 11:04 (13:04)
This workout was hard.  I started out a little too fast and did slow down some, but I ran strong and stayed tough.  I think that I stopped at the exact right spot. Since there wasn’t a road right where I stopped, I based it on the driveway of an office building, and I think I stopped at the correct entrance. If not, I ran the tempo portion of the run around 15 seconds slower than reported above (or about a 7:11/mile pace).  I like this route for tempo runs.  It’s not quite flat, but it’s flat compared to the rest of the terrain in the Salt Lake area.  However, there are still a few bumps here and there to get your legs working.  I felt relatively positive about my upcoming 5k after this workout.

Wednesday: Swim—2450 yards
I went to Masters swimming, and much to my delight, we were working on freestyle as our stroke.  Thank goodness!
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
6 x 50 (10 kick roll)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
2 minute kick (~100 yards)
3 x 50 (some drill)
2 minute swim (150 yards)
3 x 50 (with 6-beat kick)
2 minute swim with overkick (~150 yards)
3 x 50 (hip drive)
2 minutes swim maximum yards (~150 yards)
3 x 50 (early vertical forearm)
200 fast (2:40)
I swam most of my “fast” swims around :40/50 yards, so my coach said that from now on, when we do 50s, I should try to swim them under :40.  It’s good to have a target to aim for.  I was a little disappointed with my final 200 and wished I could have swum it a little faster, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  For the most part, I felt good about this workout.

Thursday: Bike—16.11 miles (59:16)
It was nice to get back on my bike again.  I went on a fairly short post-work ride.  It was cool but not cold.  Perfect fall riding weather.  I rode hard-ish, but I didn’t go crazy out there.  There was nothing too memorable about this ride.  I got to see some nice fall colors and enjoy the cool weather.

Friday: Rest
I took a rest day because I was racing the next day.  I enjoyed sleeping in and having an entire evening to get some chores done and watch a movie.

Saturday: Run—Haunted 5k (21:42.1)
I’ll write up a race report for this, but the race went well, and I had fun out there.  It was a hard race, but I was satisfied with how I performed.

It was an absolutely beautiful day!

Rob and I had some friends in town, so I took the day off. I’m going to try to hit it pretty hard next week and get a few solid weeks of run workouts in before my Turkey Trot in November.

Becoming a swimmer

Generally, triathletes are divided into two categories in regards to the swim: lifelong swimmers and adult-onset swimmers.  The former swam competitively throughout their childhoods and have no trouble jumping back into the water years later and becoming front-of-pack swimmers.  The latter often spend months or years frustrated in the pool as they try to learn a skill that is so completely different from the athletic events in which they participated while growing up.

I don’t really fit into either of these groups.

I didn’t swim competitively as a kid.  I took the regular rec center swim lessons that many American kids did while growing up.  I had to repeat a few levels.  It certainly didn’t feel like something for which I had a natural aptitude.  But I did take lessons long enough to learn the basics of all the strokes.  I mean, I couldn’t actually do all the strokes, but I knew the general idea.

When I was in high school, my mom brought up the idea of taking a course to become a swimming instructor.  She thought it would be a good summer job to have and would keep me from having to flip burgers or do hard labor (thanks, Mom!).  So I agreed, and my older sister and I took the class together.  This time, I actually learned how to do each stroke.  I didn’t learn how to do them all well, but I got the general idea.  It still didn’t feel natural, and I specifically had a hard time with breaststroke and butterfly.  The timing of the strokes was a huge struggle for me.  I didn’t quite have them down by the time the course ended, so I had to practice some on my own.  I would drive down to the local rec center and either attempt flail across the pool (butterfly) or spend half the lap floating when I should have been gliding (breaststroke).  And I just kept trying, lap after lap after lap, until something clicked.  The “click” didn’t turn me into a master of these two strokes, but it did allow me to have a basic understanding of the timing and of how each stroke should actually feel which let me properly demonstrate it and pass the class.

Then, I taught 3-6 year olds how to blow bubbles and float for a few years and promptly lost the ability to do those more advanced strokes.

I did, however, eventually start swimming for fitness.  Once I quit running track, I swam on and off fairly regularly, depending on what else was going on in my life and whether there was a pool available to me for free or not.  Even after taking year-long breaks, I could always hop back in the pool and swim far enough that boredom, not fitness, was my limiting factor.  I was slow, but I wasn’t struggling from wall to wall.  And I liked swimming.  I found it peaceful and comforting.

So when I decided to sign up for my first sprint triathlon (with a pool swim!), I wasn’t worried about the swim.  I knew I could get through it.  I felt the same when I started training for my half Ironman.  I knew I could cover the distance.  I was worried about the bike because I was a complete newbie to cycling when I started triathlon, so I actually cut out a lot of the swimming workouts and replaced them with more cycling.

And I totally managed the swim.  However, throughout my first few years of triathlon, I didn’t see a ton of improvement in that area.  So once I signed up for an Ironman, I decided to start attending Masters swim team.  At the very least, I figured the other swimmers and the structure would help me improve, even if I didn’t increase my actual yardage much.


Sure enough, I improved pretty significantly last year.  So significantly, in fact, that my brain fell behind my ability.

Throughout the past year and a bit of attending a Masters group, I’ve been plagued by a lack of confidence.  This lack of confidence didn’t cause existential angst.  It didn’t bother me at all because until recently, I didn’t even realize it was there.  I just assumed I couldn’t hit times or learn strokes or hit certain milestones.  100s at 1:40?  I can’t do that!  And then when I did… 100s at 1:35?  No way!  A 1:04.95 in the 100yd freestyle?  That’s way too fast.  The time must be wrong.

I find myself doing this constantly, certain I can’t keep up with a particular person or hit a particular time.  A month or so ago, after mentioning to my coach that I hit the interval even though I was certain I wouldn’t be able to, he said, “You know, I think you need to start adjusting your expectations for yourself.”

And he’s right.  I need to start seeing myself as a capable swimmer instead of just as someone who can swim well enough to compete in triathlons.  I need to notice my improvements and get excited about improving further.  In short, I need to become a swimmer.

Even with my regular Masters workouts, I think I still have a lot of room for improvement.  I swim about 7,500 yards a week, a far cry from the 15,000-20,000 that “real” swimmers do a week.  While I don’t have the time to do that regularly, I’ve decided to do a swim-focused block of training this winter.  I am going to spend eight weeks focusing on swimming.  I plan on doing this in January and February for two reasons.  First, during that period of time, I’ll be happy to be indoors.  Second, it’s not a period of time that will be chopped up by holiday traveling.

I’m—dare I say it—excited about seeing where a more focused approach to swimming this winter takes me.  I’m sure it will help me in my triathlons, but I’m already trying to think like a swimmer and consider my open swimming times as well, not just this year but in the years to come.  It can take years of pretty dedicated swimming to reach your full potential, so I’m looking forward to seeing just what that potential might be for me.


Weekly Recap (10/10-10/16)

Monday: Swim—2550 + whistle kicks
I felt much better waking up Monday morning than I have in a long time.  I think the weekend of sleeping in really did me some good.  We did a distance day, and I performed better than expected.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (distance per stroke)
5 x 50 (closed fist)
Whistle kicks (5 minutes)
100 easy
We were supposed to swim all the intervals at either at the same or at a faster pace than we swam the first 200.  I swam the first 200 just over a 1:30/100yd pace, so I was a little worried about keeping that up.  However, the middle two intervals felt manageable.  And the first half of the 500 felt manageable, if a bit difficult.  I turned it on a bit for the last 200 or so, but it was a bit difficult because I was starting to catch people at that point, so I’d swim hard, end up on someone’s feet and have to slow down, then pass them at the wall.  And there was a little miscommunication that ended in a collision right as I was heading into my final 25.  I still finished in 7:12, which is a practice PR for me, so I’ll take it.  I think under the right conditions, though, I could pretty easily go sub-7:00.  That’s officially on my radar now.

Tuesday: Run—Hill repeats, 5.13 miles total (57:19)
I struggled with my run on Tuesday, and I’m not sure if it’s due to my abilities on the day or because of the difficulty of the workout.  Since my next 5k is fairly hilly, I decided I should do some hill repeats.  So after work, I suited up and headed out.  I chose a steep hill near Rob’s place—so steep, in fact, that we never ride our bikes up (or down) it.  The portion I was running was .29 miles long, and I started with the notion that I would try to hit a sub-8:00/mile pace going up it, which comes out to about 2:12 for each repeat. It turns out that wasn’t going to happen.
1.57 mile warmup
4 x .29 mile hill w/ downhill recovery (2:25, 2:34, 2:28, 2:30)
1.63 mile cooldown
I started with the intention of doing 4-6 repeats, and halfway through the first, I knew I was only going to be running four.  My legs were already burning.  I’m starting to think maybe my choice of hill accounts for the difficulty of this workout.  The uphill was constant (except for a brief respite caused by an intersection halfway up), but the grade lessened significantly about two-thirds of the way up.  Even with that flatter portion, the overall grade of the hill (calculated later) is 8.75%.  Also, most of the hill workout stuff I read (after the fact, of course!) suggested hill repeats should be about 90 seconds long.  If/when I do this workout again, I’ll probably cut the distance in half and do 6-10 repeats up that shorter hill.

Wednesday: Swim—2300 yards
I worked on breaststroke on Wednesday, and it wasn’t horrible.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (kick, swim)
3 x 50 (closed fist)
4 x 50 (breaststroke with dolphin kick)
4 x 50 (3 second glide)
4 x 50 (two kick breaststroke)
4 x 50 (focus on form)
100 easy
4 x 100
50 easy
I have a lot of work to do to catch up with my current lane on stroke days, but it’s always a challenge, and challenges are good.  I’m hoping that consistently attending practice on Wednesday throughout the winter helps me improve in this area.

Thursday: Run—9.14 miles (1:18:34)
I went out for a long run on Thursday morning.  And it actually felt good!  This was my longest run by a couple of mile since my Ironman, so I was worried about how it would go.  But I felt strong the entire time.  I started off nice and slow.  I was feeling pretty tired at the end, so I worried I had started out too fast.  However, it turns out the reason I was tired towards the end is because I sped up.  I managed a nice negative split on this run.  It was a bit of a confidence booster that I needed.

Friday: Rest
I rested and drove up to Idaho for another wedding.  It was a long drive, and I wished a few times that I was going for a five hour bike ride instead of a five hour drive.

Saturday: Run—5 miles (39:31)
I ran with my dad, as I usually do when I visit my family.  We had a strong run and got faster consistently throughout the five miles.  In fact, I managed to run the final mile in just under seven minutes.  I felt strong while doing so, and my dad even commented that my stride looked easy and relaxed.

Sunday: Rest
I drove back to Salt Lake and spent the evening working on a time-sensitive project (hence the hurried nature of this weekly recap!).