Season preview

Despite not blogging all winter, I did plan my season out.

After a season full of 100 mile bike rides and 15+ mile runs, I’m looking forward to a season that’s a little more relaxed and that allows me to do more on a Saturday than just work out and then groan on the couch for the rest of the day.

I’m doing a string of Olympic triathlons later in the summer. My goal is to PR and go under 2:30 for the full Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run). My current PR is 2:32:59 from the Echo Triathlon last year. If I’m being honest, this goal feels like a stretch for me this year. I took a break this winter, and my fitness took a hit. When I hit that time, I was in the best endurance-shape of my life. I’m not sure I can reach that level again with the effort that I’m willing to put in this year.

But the training program is still young, and I know that all the work I did last year didn’t simply disappear over the winter. So I’m willing to give it my best shot for my three bigger races and see what happens.

Races

Echo Triathlon (July 8, 2017)

Echo

This is the first triathlon I’m planning on doing in 2017. It’s a relatively flat course that lends itself to good times. I really do not think I’ll be in PR shape at this time, but it will be a good way to judge my current fitness level and make some adjustments for the rest of the season.

Jordanelle Triathlon (August 12, 2017)

Jordanelle

I’ve done this race before. The run portion of this race isn’t the full 10k, so it’s not a race that will allow me to meet my goal this season of an official PR. However, I’m excited to try this course again. The last time I did this race, I cracked on the run. The website mentioned that the run course contained “maintained paths” which I took to mean flat, hard-packed dirt. What it actually meant was short, steep uphills and downhills on some soft, rugged (for this non-trail-runner) dirt paths. This year, I want to feel good about my run.

The Brineman Triathlon (September 16, 2017)

Brineman

This race is new to me. It’s held up near the Great Salt Lake. The swim, however, is in some freshwater man-made lakes in a residential community. The bike course is flat (but probably windy!), and the run course is flat as well. This should be a fast course, and it’s probably my best chance at a PR.

Training

This winter, I bought and read The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. I created my own training plan based on the principles (and detailed instructions!) contained in the book. I’m planning to write a review of the book eventually, but I’d like to see how this season turns out before I do so.

With a new training approach have come some new training techniques. Not surprisingly, I’m doing a few things a little differently than I have in the past.

Weight training

While training for triathlons, I’ve never lifted to gain strength. I’ve done strength work, but it’s been for injury prevention with some core strength added in. Because true strength work is a suggested part of training in The Triathlete’s Training Bible, I’ve decided to give it a shot. I am confident enough in my form and my knowledge of my own limits that I am not worried about injuring myself. So I’ve been doing two 30 minute “heavy” (lololol) lifting sessions and one 15 minute injury prevention session where I do body-weight exercises to strengthen my stabilizer muscles (e.g. MYRTLs).

Weekly planning

In the past, I’ve had a training plan that is more or less “set,” with the specific workouts for each week determined from the beginning. This time around, I set the weekly hours and the types of workouts for the week (speed skills, aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, etc.) right from the start. But each week, I assign those hours out to specific workouts. At this point, I’m not sure if it’s making me more thoughtful (“I feel like running was underrepresented last week… I should make it more of a focus this week”) or less thoughtful (“Crap, it’s Sunday night! What am I doing tomorrow? What am I doing all week?”). More to come on that as the situation progresses.

Muscular endurance and anaerobic endurance

When I was training for my Ironman, I did almost exclusively slow aerobic work. However, for shorter distances, Friel suggests doing muscular endurance and anaerobic endurance workouts (which basically amount to interval work). The idea is that, after establishing a strong aerobic base, you get your legs (or arms) used to pushing faster paces for a sustained time. Muscular endurance workouts are going to have longer, slightly less intense intervals than anaerobic endurance workouts. I plan on including these workouts in my training as suggested, but I’m a little skeptical simply because of my own strengths and weaknesses. My strength and background is in faster, shorter events, and I set my PR in a relatively short race last year after doing almost all endurance work that season. I do intend to focus a little more on endurance than Friel suggests for someone aiming to compete in Olympic-distance races, but I’ll add in the muscular and anaerobic endurance workouts as prescribed too.

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Weekly Recap (4/10-4/16)

Monday: Swim (2550 yards); Run (45 minutes)
The swim set at Masters was complicated, so I’m not going to write it out. It was a decently hard work out. The set I was supposed to do was much too hard, so I probably didn’t push myself to the limit. It’s hard to really leave it all out there when you know that, even if you do, you won’t hit the times you are “supposed” to. The consensus of the group was that the set, as written/interpreted, was impossible, so Max the Swim Coach is probably going to tweak it and try it out on us again in a few weeks.

After work, I decided to go run for 45 minutes instead of 30. I’ve reacclimated to running, and now I need to regain some of that fitness that I lost over the winter. The run felt pretty solid, and adding the extra 15 minutes didn’t feel burdensome at all. This run was pretty flat and easy. I’m hoping to add in a hillier, longer route next week when my training hours increase.

Tuesday: Bike (1 hour); Lift 30 minutes
I rode into work and then lifted before heading into the office. I’ve really been trying to focus on doing the lifts the way they are supposed to be done.

4 x 6 dumbbell squats (25 lbs)
4 x 8 hamstring curls, each leg (with elastic band)
3 x 6 dumbbell deadlifts (25 lbs)
4 x 8 swim pull, each arm (with elastic band)
3 x 8 lateral arm raises (8 lbs)

To be honest, I’m lifting weights because outside sources advised me to. I’m not entirely convinced lifting will make me a better triathlete at my current stage. I feel like at this stage, maybe I just need more swimming/cycling/running. But I’m giving it a real shot. If nothing else, I’ll get a little stronger and not feel like such a weakling.

After work, I headed home on my bike.  The ride to and from work is interesting. It’s fairly uphill on the way in, and I wear a bag with my clothes and lunch in it (and this time, an extra pair of clothes/shoes to lift in). It’s easily an extra 10-15 pounds or so. Since my weight tends to be pretty steady (+/- five pounds or so), I never really considered how much extra weight affects climbing on the bike. It makes me want to be a little more particular in what I eat. The ride home after work is as nice as the ride in is obnoxious. I love knowing I’m in pleasant ride home after a long day and not a long, arduous one.

Wednesday: Run (60 minutes)
In the morning, I drove over to Rob’s neck of the woods and parked in front of his house. Then I ran to work from there. It actually ends up being a success all around. My commute is a few miles shorter (saving me some gas money), and it makes my run(s) fit into my day more seamlessly. After work, I run to Rob’s place, spend the evening with him, and then drive back to my place. The run in was, I’ll admit, pretty miserable. My legs were heavy because it was morning. The run is almost entirely uphill with an average grade of 3.2%. It was a beautiful morning, but I opted to run in shorts and a tank top, even though it wasn’t even 50° outside. So it was a bit chilly as well. Nevertheless, I like running into work. Starting my day with a run (especially on cool spring mornings) is refreshing. The run home was really my first warm run of the year.  At 72°, it was just warm enough to make it uncomfortable. I also did some strides

Thursday: Swim (3000 yards); Weights (30 minutes)
I was the only person at Masters this morning, which meant very little waiting around and thus a pretty long workout:

500 swim
300 kick
4 x 50 head up
4 x 25 eyes closed
100-400 pyramid (up and down)
100 easy
4 x 50 streamline off the wall

Since I was the only one there, I was able to get a good amount of feedback from Max. My catch (which has been my focus the last month or so) is looking much better. I still need to work on hip rotation and a strong kick (which I think are related). He also helped me out with my push off the wall which needs some pretty serious work.

After work, I headed to the office gym to do some lifting. Ugh, I’m so weak. My lack of power on the bike is starting to make a lot of sense.

4 x 6 squat (25 lb dumbbells)
4 x 10 hamstring curls (with elastic band)
3 x 6 one leg squats, each leg (10 lb dumbbells)
4 x 8 swim pull, each arm (with elastic band)
3 x 8 lateral arm raises (8 lb dumbbells)
2 x 10 single leg deadlifts, each leg (body weight)

My legs were pretty tired after lifting and were stiff the next day, so I know I got a good workout. For some reason, I have confidence that running more will make me faster, but I lack the confidence that lifting more will actually make me stronger. I just have to trust the process (oh, and logic, and what every knowledgeable person has said ever).

Friday: Rest
Rest day. I enjoyed it.

Saturday: Bike (2 hours)
For my bike ride, I rode a familiar route–out to the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon and back. It was actually quite chilly, so any canyons were off the table because of how cold it is to descend in chilly weather. I felt good during the ride, but I was surprisingly wiped out afterwards. I hate the little reminders that I’m really not in great shape right now, but it is what it is. I needed the break I took this winter.

CanyonWalls
So I didn’t make it *up* Big Cottonwood Canyon, but this is what I would have seen if I had.

Sunday: Bike (45 minutes)
I went out on a short bike ride on Sunday afternoon. The weather was beautiful, and it was nice to get out for a quick spin.

On taking a break

I didn’t really mean to take the kind of break I took. My intention over the winter was to keep blogging, keeping running and cycling at least once a week, and focus on my swimming.

One of those things happened.

I stopped blogging. Obviously. And, as the temperature dropped and the snow drifts grew, my determination to keep running and cycling waned. I did, however, focus on swimming. During the latter portion of the winter (the portion I wasn’t taking off entirely), I was in the pool constantly. Or, at least, it felt that way. And it paid off with PR after PR in the pool. Turns out that swimming hits all my training necessities: intense, plenty of room for improvement, enjoyable, and satisfying. I admit that I briefly considered giving up triathlon all together and just becoming a swimmer.

And a break from running (and maybe even cycling) is exactly what I needed.  By the time I ran my PR at the Thanksgiving 5k last year, I was teetering on the edge of a full-blown burnout. The rare workout that wasn’t a mental battle was still mentally and emotionally draining, as melodramatic as that sounds. I had spent the entire winter the year before training for a marathon. I spent spring and summer training for an Ironman. And I kept training relatively seriously through the fall while aiming for that 5k PR.

So of course I needed a break.

It was both inevitable and surprisingly difficult. I was hitting the point where I would have needed super-human motivation (the likes of which I just didn’t have anymore) to keep training hard. But I also faced some real guilt when I just allowed myself to relax. I was in the best shape of my life, after all. I worried I would lose all of that fitness if I didn’t keep pushing. When you train consistently, aim to perform well, and love PRs, it’s hard to just chill when you’ve still been seeing results.

After a month and a half or so, where I really did just do what I wanted when I wanted to, I dove into my swim training. I attended Masters all three days every week, as well as swimming on my own most of days Masters didn’t meet. As I mentioned, I intended to keep running and cycling a little during this period, but I just didn’t want to. So I didn’t. And, you know, my swimming improved. I hit plenty of milestones (under 30 seconds in the 50 free, 4000 yards in the one-hour swim, and sub-15 [14:34] in the 1000yd time trial, to name a few), and I feel like I made some serious progress towards becoming a Swimmer instead of just a person who swims.

All that while spring (and triathlon season) slowly crept up on me.

It wasn’t long before I couldn’t really ignore the beautiful spring weather and the advancing calendar any more. I had to start running and cycling again. I’ll admit, though, that even then, I was dragging my feet. I briefly regretted signing up for those triathlons because now I felt obligated to do them, despite my lack of excitement about the season.

It didn’t help that, a couple weeks before my training plan officially started, I took a lovely spill during a run (thanks, overly-long-shoelaces-trend!) which left my hand pretty chewed up and kept me off the bike for a few days and out of the pool for a week or so.

So when my first “training week” approached, I was a bit nervous about how I would handle it. The fact that I came down with the worst cold I’ve had all year that very week didn’t help, either. Here I was, after swimming 5-7 hours a week all winter, suddenly doing 8.5 hours of training a week, complete with running, cycling, and lifting weights. But I made it through the first week week. And the next one. Some of my runs were a little painful (going uphill with a nasty cold at a slightly higher elevation than usual after not running regularly for a few months doesn’t exactly make your lungs feel great). My second “long” ride (1.75 hours) was a rude reminder that climbing is hard and that swimming is not great cross training for cycling up hills. I had to push away thoughts of how much fitness I must have lost and force myself not to think about how tired I was after what would have been an easy recovery workout last fall.

But overall, I was surprised at how good I felt. I refused to time myself for the first few weeks in an attempt to quell insecurities around lost fitness and slow paces. I just did my best to enjoy the workouts and get used to the routine again. After a few weeks of training, I’m surprised at how natural it all feels. Though I do kind of miss lazing around with no responsibilities on weekends, it’s been wonderful to get outside again and enjoy my beautiful city.

13256971_139442399800528_1709530171_n(1)
This view is literally 8 miles (and a nice bike ride) away from my office.

And, after an initial period of getting used to running and cycling, I do feel refreshed. While I’m still uncertain if I’ll break any PRs this summer or even approach the level of fitness I had during Ironman training, I’m excited about my workouts again. I feel lucky to be running and cycling instead of obligated to do so. And, while I’ve obviously lost fitness and endurance, I’m not nearly as bad off as I feared I would be after my first couple lung-busting jogs.

When I think about how I feel about training now compared to how I felt at the end of November, there’s just no comparison. Despite being in much the same position otherwise (still a little depressed, still binge-watching way too much TV, still struggling to keep up with other “adult” things like cooking and cleaning), my workouts and my routine are making me feel better and not worse. That’s not to say I don’t sometimes dread a steep run into work or that particular section of a climb on my bike or a particularly painful set in the pool. But it’s something I ultimately want to do. It’s not a burden.

Ultimately, I think for me, taking a break was an exercise in trust. The fear around a break (in anything) is that I won’t want to go back, that taking time away from, in this case, running and cycling will make me realize how much better life is without the pressure. But, whaddya know, here I am. It turns out we come back to the things we love, even if we do initially leave feeling burned out and washed up and even if it does take a little motivation to take those first steps out the door or pump up those tires again for the first time.

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.

trickortreat
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

sugarhousefall

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

podium

*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.