Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dear poor, neglected blog...

It's been far too long.  I'm in the final two weeks leading up to my tri; I can't believe it's already here.  This past weekend was a killer, but great in helping me determine my level of fitness.
Friday night was a 14.28 mile ride on Ponte Vedra Blvd.  The pace averaged about 16.5...it was hot and a little windy, but satisfying to have that kind of ride and pace!
Saturday morning we got up early and did an ocean swim.  Since the sprint tri's effectively terrified me in the water, I knew I needed to get in the ocean and be able to swim a long distance in order to feel that it was doable in a lake.  So off in the choppy, rough, happy-surfer water.  We spent an hour in the water, getting in about 1500 meters.  I was stoked!  I stayed in for an hour.  I feel an incredible amount better about the swim now!
Saturday evening I put in my five miles, which was tough.  It was close to a 100 degrees, and late in the day, but I pushed through.  My legs felt pretty spent though.
Sunday morning meant time for my long ride, but I'm sad to say I didn't have it in me.  I managed about 21 miles, but it was slow going, and I only did the bridge once.  I did what I think was the smart thing, and went home to rest.  Judging by the two naps I took over the course of the next several hours, I'm thinking it was necessary!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gee, I Can't Imagine Why Everything Hurts Today Part II

Sunday found us en route to Gainesville for a ride through the hills.  Saturday night was a lovely evening with friends that included much birthday cake and wine, so I wasn't at my best perhaps, Sunday morning, in addition to being sore from the tri Saturday morning.

Nevertheless, I insisted we go down, and boy was it a doozy of a training day.  The fun part to start was taking I-10 down, which had us driving through the small towns of Waldo and Stark, which if nothing else it always entertaining.  Where else can you buy a life-sized statue of Jesus and walk across the street and visit the area's only 24-hour store, which happens to be an adult novelty warehouse?

We got into Gainesville and parked near one of the birding trails.  It was a heck of a day.  Within the first 10 miles there was a fairly large hill that I pushed myself far too hard up, and pretty much blew out my legs.  I did for another 5 miles or so when we crested the top of the one of a stretch of rolling hills, and I saw a hill that looked San-Francisco sized.  I kept pedaling but started hyperventilating.  E led us into a neighborhood so I could collect myself.  It's the first time I can ever remember seeing something that I just didn't think I could accomplish.  That hill looked massive, like I needed Alberto Contador-style quads to make it up that hill.  So I stopped, I said I wanted to go back the way we came, which just made me feel like a failure.  I never give up like that; if nothing else, I'm far too stubborn. 

E talked me into at least going at looking at the hill, which upon further inspection was not quite the Telegraph Hill proportions I thought it was.  So I went up.  Very, very slowly.  And I went through traffic lights and left-hands turns, all in all a very intense training day, and one that led to me being sore all over, but very glad I did it.  And VERY glad for today's rest day.

Gee, I Can't Imagine Why Everything Hurts Today Part I

Talk about a training weekend.  I took Friday as a rest day and started out the weekend on Saturday with the Jax Triathlon #2.  Whereas last time we were treated to fairly glassy conditions for the ocean swim, this was a bit rougher.  On one hand, I was exceedingly grateful for the strong current that pushed us closer to the end, but the rough chop made for a lot of swallowed water.  I didn't panic quite as much with this one as I did in the first (at least until the last bit, moving into shore, because it seemed to take forever), though I can't say that I swam so much as doggy-paddled and backstroked my way to shore. 

I took a long time in T1, as I figured it would be better to take the few minutes in the beginning to bring my heart rate down than try and do the whole thing with my heart hammering out of my chest.  This was my first race with shoes and pedals, and it went really well.  The different the shoes and pedals make while on the bike is noticeable, but the biggest return was getting off the bike to go into T2 and the run.  The feeling of "lead legs" was so much less than the last one!  I was tired, but felt like I could run.  Despite that, I probably should have pushed myself harder on the run.  I wasn't thrilled with my time, but I was pretty happy about the fact that I didn't feel  like crying or vomiting when I finished, which was a big improvement over the first one.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Girl in Training has a Birthday

I'll be the first to admit that my birthday completely messed up my training this week.  I missed my Tuesday night run and my Wednesday ride to the suction of the Wednesday birthday.  I did however manage to achieve a 1000 meter swim on Thursday, which I'm pretty proud of.  So needless to say, this is a bit of an off week!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rest Day

Phew, what a weekend!

Saturday morning found me sleeping in, due to a work event the evening before.  This guaranteed an evening run, since the heat index on Saturday hovered somewhere around 104.  My run was five miles, and it was a tough one, but it was also a personal best.  I did 5 miles in 1:03, which is outstanding.  I'm grateful Elton runs with me on these longer runs; it definitely pushes me better than I tend to push myself.

The really exciting part of the weekend though was getting clipless pedals and shoes!  I practiced on the trainer for a while Saturday evening so I could understand the whole "clip in clip out" thing (or as I learned at our local bike shop when they were putting on the pedals: When in doubt, clip out). 

We went to Penny Farms near Green Cove, where there are actually hills (or the closest Florida equivalent thereof) so that I could get in some practice before my tri.  Despite a miscommunication that led to my uncle almost running into me, I didn't fall on my first time out.  I'm sure that's yet to come.  The feeling of being attached to the bike, "one with the bike" was really different and pretty neat.  It actually increased my confidence while on the bike, which was great.  It also feels really nice to be a "grown up" cyclist.  I know this is my perception, but there was something that felt like I wasn't taking the whole thing seriously if I didn't have the appropriate pedals and shoes.  Now I can go for a fit.  Woot woot!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Training and Events

This week is chock full of training and work events.  Always fun to try and juggle those around. 

Tuesday morning I missed my alarm, and along with it my morning swim.  Tuesday evening though, I felt great, and went for my 4-mile run.  I felt awesome.  I felt like Rocky.  I ran, I smiled, I felt good, I was even coordinated enough to flip the bird at a passing motorist.  I went a little slow, but kept my heartrate up and a good rhythm for my pace, so I was quite happy. 

Due to another alarm snafu Wednesday morning, I wound up running instead of riding.  It was only three miles, but my legs definitely felt the fatigue from the previous evening's run.  Still, there is always something great about an early morning run when dawn is just breaking.  You feel a kind of solidarity both with the morning itself, and the other intrepid exercisers who are out there while most people are still asleep. 

This morning was a swim, my first time back in since working on technique over the weekend.  It was still tough, but for the first time I felt like I was making some progress.  The lanes were no longer set up Olympic style, so I was able to see the progress I've made doing the shorter laps, and was able to put into practice my new breathing lessons.  So far, so good.  I'm still moving slow, but I feel like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Weekend of Training and Relaxation

This weekend I officially did my first training brick, did 22 miles on the bike for the first time since last year, and have a new 5 mile time.  I'm a pretty happy camper, and feeling better about training for the first time in a while.

Saturday brought unseasonably cool weather (read: it was only in the eighties...and breezy!) so the later start that I got on the run wasn't too bad.  E ran with me, and his support helped me to reach a new 5 mile time of 1:10.  Not bad, and after I got over the feeling of wanting to die a little, I was pretty happy.  I managed to drink water the whole time, which is not normal for me, but I think made a difference.  I may hate these longer runs while I'm doing them, but I love the feeling of accomplishment at the end of them!

Saturday afternoon also saw a brief period of swimming, so that I could attempt to figure out this whole breathing thing.  We went to the pool in the neighborhood, and evidently everyone else in the neighborhood had the "hey, let's go hang out at the pool" idea about 5 minutes after us, as people showed up in droves.  Now, swimming, really swimming, not just floating around in the pool, looks rather silly when taken out of context.  So, I felt a little weird wearing goggles and going from one side of the pool to the other, trying to learn how to stroke and breathe at the same time.  It helped though, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the pool this week to really practice it.

Sunday morning I did 22 miles (the original goal was 20...guess I subconsciously wanted to burn off Saturday night's pizza and beer).  The way out felt great, kept it at an easy 16.5.  I went over the 210 bridge for the first time since last year as well....definitely made the quads burn!  The way back was tough, and it took me a little bit of time and a gel to recover from it.  Once I arrived back at the car, E had set up a sort of pseudo-transition area, so I could do a 1 mile run (actually, I think it was more like .75 mile).  My legs felt like lead.  Certified, ridiculously heavy, lead.  I ran so slowly, I think I may have been passed by several octogenarians.  And really, "run" is probably too strong of a word.  I think it was more "moving my body in a reasonable facsimile of a run."  Needless to say, I see many more bricks in my future, as tough as they may be.  And bridges, the Jacksonville equivalent of hills.  Bridge repeats, anyone?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Turning Points

Getting back into training this week has been tough, mentally more than physically.  I've been pretty down on myself about where my training is at, and how much time I have until my event (38 days).  The sprint tri a couple weeks ago really scared me, and made me rather concerned that I wasn't where I need to be in my training.  Yesterday, last night, I really hit a point where I was down in the mouth about my training.  My three mile run was a double edged sword.  On one hand, I was able to run pretty much the whole three miles, and E ran with me and helped me pinpoint where some of my stride issues may be coming from.  Both of those things are huge successes, it was just really hard to see that in the moment.  All I could think was "wow, 3 miles was that hard and when it comes to my race, I have to run double that.  A good pep talk later, I realized that E was right, and that everything I have read about mental state in training is really true.  If I don't believe in myself, and if I don't make this a fun experience again, than it won't be.  I won't reach my goals, and I won't finish if I'm just grinding through it.  So today starts with a positive mental state, and a resolution that I am going to enjoy training again.  For the first half of all this, it was a release, and then I got bogged down, tired and frustrated.  So, no more.  Back to enjoying it, living in the moment, and focusing on the lifestyle I want.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Backpacking...Nope, I never thought I'd try it either

The last several weeks have been pretty busy between my work, training, and E's work and training, so the thought was that we would go away for a weekend.  E, in particular, was jonesing for something in the sooner category, and hasn't been backpacking in over a year, so was understandably longing for the complete disconnect that it offers.  I found the thought of total disconnect mildly terrifying, considering I spend my days hooked up a computer or my cell phone, only putting it away when I get home at night.  And even then, I know it's within reach.

So we picked a weekend, packing gear was borrowed from friends (for me, not him, he has the whole wilderness man thing down) and off we went to Great Smoky Mountains National Park outside of Bryson City, North Carolina.  We had previously day-hiked in this same area last year, but took a different trail this time. 

Wow, backpacking.  Those packs sure are heavy.  Whilst standing in the parking lot, getting ready to lock up the car and head into the woods, the full effect of summer humidity hit me, causing sweat to pour off me in buckets while I struggled to not panic and think this was potentially one of the worse ideas I've had. 

Once we were off though, it was ok.  Alright, honestly, the first day had great moments, and awful moments.  Truly, if it could go wrong, it did, that first day.  But what can you do?  When you're in the middle of the mountains, getting angry doesn't help.  By the second day though, it was great.  The weather was cooler, the day was fairly humidity-free, and it was all just lovely.  Lovely campsite the second night too; I was able to indulge in a couple hours worth of reading on a rock on the creek.

It was a great experience.   There were bees.  Lots and lots of bees, which I'm sort of terrified of (read:  allergic to as a child, not really sure if I still am).  In fact, the first campsite involved bees that became rather infatuated with our packs...and our tent....and us. 

I struggled with taking the weekend in view of having lost a week of training, but decided that the experience and the promised physical effort would be a good respite from the multisport routine, and it really was.  The heavy pack and heavy boots, and the ascents and descents were all quite challenging.  My glutes, hip flexors and quads really let me know it, making me wonder if I do need to begin doing some weight and strength training.

Halfway Mark

As of yesterday, I'm about halfway through my training, and halfway to my race.  Wow.  Scary.  Last week was a bit of a wash; a nasty head cold that popped up after the tri kept me pretty well down for the week, and over the weekend we went backpacking in the Smokys (more on that experience later).  That was a heck of a workout.  Endurance and cardio rolled into one! 

So this week started my official training back.  I think getting back in the pool was the toughest part.  Both the super early wake up as well as the shock of cold water and the struggled to breath.  Tuesday morning I actually felt a little panicky in the water from my breathing, and had to force myself to take it easy.  This morning was my longest swim to date at 800 meters, and I was able to somewhat regulate my breathing, at least to the point that I wasn't feeling freaked out about it.

My 4 mile run Tuesday evening was terrible on the first half, and far better on the second.  I pushed myself on the way back, and I think that some of my struggle on the way out was simply from boredom.  And as always, thank you to the communities along Hodges that water their sidewalks as well as their lawns.  What could be better than the lukewarm spray of sulfur water halfway through a run?

I got on the trainer last night for 10 miles, and felt the same thing there that I discovered on my run, that I'm not pushing myself enough.  I'm pretty sure this is a good thing, since it means that there is ample room for growth that I have not discovered yet.  We'll see if I still feel that way after I run the bridges tonight!