Monday, March 29, 2010

Wind, Ice, and Crawfish

Busy busy weekend!  Also: the last heavy training before I hit my April race schedule (gulp).  I just realized over this past weekend that I have my three major races all within 2 months of each other.  Who does this?  Why did I do this?  What was I thinking???

Saturday was my 10 mile continuous Zone 2 run, my longest continuous run to date.  I got to the park just as they were setting up for Trash Bash, so good timing there.  Got a parking space before things got too crazy with the trash cleanup.  It was a wonderful cool morning (probably the last one for a looong time) and I was on a mission to finish quickly since I had afternoon plans, plus I had on new running shoes, which makes things fun.  Starting out, my pace was way too fast.  Like :30/mile too fast.  I kept saying "slow down" but my feet just would not listen, so I went with it.  The run was pretty uneventful and actually sorta fun (still weird to say running and fun in the same sentence).  Managed to go hard the last mile, which was a great feeling, and NO STOPPING the whole time except to pick up my dropped water bottle twice.  Crazy part was my average pace.  My 8 mile pace last weekend was 11:09.  Saturday's 10 mile pace was 10:51.  Bananas.  I think my 2 x 1 mile track repeats last Tuesday really helped.  Also: I think I finally understand that running endorphin rush.... I was feeling *good* when I was done running.

So I rushed home, cleaned up, ate breakfast, then took off to set-up for the company crawfish boil.  I'm head of the activities committee for the office this year, and this is our major event for the office for the year.  Typically we do it in April, but it gets so hot.  So we took a gamble and bumped it to March.  We were lucky and it was gorgeous out.    My homebrew had issues (I also organize a homebrew competition).  It was TASTY, but also way way way to much foam.  Not sure how to fix that.  So, after eating my fill of crawfish, I made a graceful exit at 4 PM.  Which was good because I was tired and had to get ready for more athletic activites for Sunday....

Sunday was a 57 mile bike ride + 3 mile run.  Was hoping for less wind than last week, and I think that there may have been less wind, but only slightly less wind.  This was a MS150 training ride, which meant there were about 500 people doing various distances and at different ability levels.  I was a moron and forgot my Garmin.  After last weekend's issue with no battery, and since this was my last long training ride before my HIM, I put in a HUGE request, and had Will drive my Garmin up to me.  At 7 AM.  With a 50 minute one-way drive.  (I don't even want to think about how much I owe him for this "favor"....)  I seriously spent 10 mintues debating whether or not I needed it, and decided that I really did need the data (particularly cadence and HR), and fortunately (?) he was awesome and brought it to me without too much grumbling.  Eleventy billion positive husband points for Will.

This course was actually pretty fun.  It was windy (still not sure how windy, though), but it had enough turns so it was manageable.  You'd ride 20 min into the wind, turn a corner and cruise along at 20 mph with a tail wind for a bit, before you hit more wind.  Soooo much better (mentally and physically) then the 2 hrs of relentless headwind we experienced last weekend.  We skipped the first rest-stop to get ahead of the crowds, had a long-ish stop at mile the 24 stop.  Longer than I wanted (you can't stop that long during races!) but considering the wind and the fact that my right thigh was getting tweaky again, it was actually a welcome break.  Decided to skip the next stop and hit the mile 46 stop, which worked out nicely.  Besides, do you REALLY need to stop every 11 miles?  Really?  Winds were a bit more brutal on this middle stage, as we were headed north most of the time.  But there were some fun rollers (which is perfect for Boise training) and some pretty pastures and wildflowers, so that made the time go by.  Also, there were some craptastic roads, but not much you can do except try to get through them.  The mile 46 stop was a quick in and out, then 11 miles home.  With the last 2 miles being the worst of it all, with rough roads and a strong headwind.  It may have been the longest 2 miles of my life.  Finally into the parking lot and then onto the run.

We decided to run into the wind so that way, the return was with a tailwind.  Still went too fast (not sure this is a problem, though... we shall see).  Running definitely did not feel as good as Saturday, but my pace was fast, so I don't know.  Hopefully during my races, I can settle down so I don't burn up in the first 3 miles.  Not such a problem for my Olympic (run is 6.2 miles), but this could be a huge problem for my HIM (run is 13.1 miles).  Average run pace for the 3 miles was 10:36.  I'm expecting to get yelled at by my coach any time now....

Went out for BBQ for lunch, brought Will some to his office (poor guy worked all day), ran to the grocery store, then went home.  Will got home just in time for my ice bath.  My friend suggested that I start doing this, especially considering how many hours I put into my legs this weekend.  I was expecting it to be horrible, but it wasn't bad (which makes me think I did it wrong).  Getting in the water wasn't fun (I had the full attention of both kitties and Will with my loud wimpering).  But with the TV as a distraction, it really wasn't bad.  Especially considering my legs are barely sore today.  Tired, but not sore.

Random observations from this weekend:
  • Running in cool weather is awesome.  Curious to see how I do when it heats up.
  • I just used "running" and "awesome" in the same sentence.  Scary.
  • I need to put KT tape on my right thigh before my races and long rides.  It started getting wonky on me yesterday before the first rest stop.  I taped it for the Continental Classic ride and had on compression tights for Galveston.  But no tape = potential fail.  Fortunately, I caught it in time and stretched it out well at the first rest stop, but I do not want a repeat of last November's injury.
  • Ice baths are not scary, at least not with one popcorn bowl's worth of ice.  Probably need to stock pile ice in the garage freezer so I have more on hand for a colder bath.
This week's training is looking pretty hard (track workout is a pyramid - eeps! and a 12 mile run on Saturday), but then after that I have a week taper and then my race.  Then hopefully recovery/taper and my HIM.  April should be interesting.

Monday, March 22, 2010

windy ride on Galveston

Did the HRTC monthly ride yesterday, which was a "preview" of the Galveston HIM bike course - 56 miles, from Moody Gardens out past San Luis Pass (basically a bridge) and back.  Me being me, I was hoping for windy conditions, so I could mentally prepare for worst case.  And boy did I get my wishes....

At the start of the ride, it was 39 degrees, 20 mph winds, and a windchill of 20 degrees.  At the end of the ride it was 47 degrees with 30 mph winds.  And gusts up to 37 mph.  Good times!  I had a hard time staying in aero the whole time.  I tried to anticipate the gusts, looking at the grass ahead of me, looking for gaps in condos, buildings, wind breaks, etc.  I stayed upright the whole time, but there were several scary moments where I felt I rode sideways as much as I went forward.

My garmin battery was dead (boo!), so I don't have specific stats, but actually that was probably a good thing.  I think knowing my speed would have been depressing.  We take a bathroom break after 16 miles and decide to ride to the San Luis Pass bridge and decide how much farther to go.  Once we got to the bridge, the land opened up and the wind just got windier.  Scary windy.  Then we looked at our watches, saw that it took us 2 hrs to go 21 miles.  We only had SAG support for 4 hrs, so we decided not to risk it and turned around.  That was probably super smart, as I heard reports that the wind just got worse the further out you went.  My friend had only been riding 1.5 weeks (amazing!) and none of us were out to set land distance records.  Plus, I'm doing a 56 mile MS150 ride next weekend, so I've got more time to get in long rides.  So we turned around and it was much better - return trip in 1 hr 10 min.  Still a cross wind, but with a tail wind instead of head wind.  Traffic was getting worse as it got later in the morning, so it was probably best that we turned early, since the closer you get into town, the smaller the shoulder got.  The final suprise of the day was when you turned off the Seawall to head back to Moody, it should have been a nice easy downhill pedal.  Instead we got a wall of wind, which made me shift into my second easiest gear downhill.  Ugh.  Got back to the truck, ran ~35 minutes (approx 3 miles, but hard to tell w/no garmin and high wind).  Then finally breakfast at IHOP to replenish all those lost calories.

Overall, it was suprisingly fun.  Not having the garmin working this time was probably better, since I couldn't get frustrated with my slow progress.  It was more just like a bike ride out to some unknown distance, battling the elements, and hoping you stayed upright.  Now if only my arms and neck weren't so sore... right now Aleve is my best friend.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Running Confidence

One interesting thing coming out of being coached is that I'm becoming more confident as a runner.  I did a brief running stint in 2000 - 2001, mainly running 3 mile 4-5 times a week, until my IT band self destructed.  Then I trained for a half marathon the fall of 2007, which consisted of mostly walking with some easy jogging.  Didn't end up running the race though, because my foot decided to mysteriously fracture itself. Then in May 2008, once my foot healed, I started running 2-3 miles a few times a week, with the goal of doing a sprint triathlon that fall.  I got hooked, signed up for larger and more frequent races in 2009, the Houston Half Marathon in Jan 2010, and now I have 2 HIMs.

I never considered myself a runner.  Running and me have had a very rocky relationship, which has made me very tentatvie (read: slow).  Its almost like I'm afraid of going fast - for fear that I'll get injured again.

My current coach is having me do speed work on Tuesdays.  There was last week's crazy workout. And I shocked myself by going a sub-10 minute/mile pace for the upper Z4 segments - and consistenly maintaining it.  Yesterday was my first track workout.  1 x 1200 Z2 warm up; 4 x 800 Z4; 1 x 1200 cool down.  I had never done a track workout and was very intimidated.  In reality, it was pretty comparable to swimming sets.  Once I realized that, it wasn't so bad.  And track running was kinda nice, because you didn't have to really think about how far to run for the intervals, which gave me time to "feel" pacing and speed.  I know so well what my swim pacing is, but for running, I've really only done "survival mode".  I managed to negative-split (or come even toward the end) of each of my 800's - finishing them in ~4:47 average.  That's a 9:34 average pace.  Craziness.  The concept of me sustaning that pace for a half mile - and repeating it 4 times simply didn't exist in my head.  And then add to it that the pace wasn't super hard.  I was pushing it, but it wasn't "OMG I'm going to puke" pushing it.

This speed work is making me realize what I'm actually capable of.  My legs can move faster.  I'm not injured (knock on wood).  I can sustain faster paces.  I don't feel like dying when I'm done.   And its fun.

Very interesting stuff indeed.....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Accidental Triathlon

So yesterday, I kinda did a triathlon by accident.  I know, accident... how do you do such things?  I blame it on over-committment and feeling like I have to follow my training schedule to a T.

I was pretty fried last week from Tuesday's speed workout.  Recovery day was Friday, so I slept in, got a 1.5 hr massage, took a nap.  Felt MUCH BETTER.  Saturday was a 6 mile Z2 run.  Didn't feel as good as the previous week's Z2 run (5 miles), but didn't feel awful either.  I attribute this to the extra mile, slightly higher temperatures, and a slightly faster pace.  And maybe still being tired from the week.

Sunday was my scheduled brick.  2 hrs cycling and 30 min running.  I went with two coworkers, did 27 miles on the bike in ~1.75 hrs.  Then ran 3 miles in Z2.  And it was TOASTY out.  80 degrees.... I am going to hate life in a month from now.  Finished that up at 1:30 PM, then I had to meet my swim team friend at 2 PM.  She has a new wetsuit and is pretty new to swimming, so she wanted to hit one of the local lakes to test out her suit and get some confidence.  We did 2 leisurely laps around the lake (about 1600 m total... maybe).  Water was 60 degrees, which felt cold at first, but once you got moving it felt nice.  I went moderate - mainly wanted to stay ahead of my friend but didn't want to work too hard, given my earlier efforts.  I thought the swim was pretty nice actually - good recovery and psuedo "ice bath".  Plus, it was only 30 minutes.  To me, that's barely even getting started for swimming.

I post all my workout stats into Training Peaks, and I immediately get an email from my head coach, which consisted of the following back and forth:

HC: Did you do a full tri today?

Me: Nope. I did my brick then met a friend over at 288 Lake. She got a new wetsuit and wanted a small confidence builder swim before Gateway.

HC: That's what i was saying all 3 sports today right? A zone 4 swim after a brick is a lot.

Not quite sure what to make of all that.  I didn't consider my swim a Zone 4.  Maybe based on my estimated distance and time, which were not wholly accurate.  I didn't feel like I worked hard.  And I almost feel like he was admonishing me, when really, I was just doing an easy swim with a friend.  Which happened to be after a bike and a run.  I personally didn't see anything wrong with that.

As a bonus, my legs actually felt good today during swim team.  Normally, Monday's are hard - my legs are lead weights after a hard weekend like this.  That just makes me feel like the swim was a good recovery and no harm was done.  And that I know my body and what its capable of.  Plus, it was a beautiful day and I had fun with friends, which to me, is most important.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Over-Under Speedwork

My coach has me doing weekly strength running, something I've never done before.  Wowzers.

Today's workout:
10 min warmup z2
5 x [5 min upper z4 (10:00 pace) then 5 min lower z4 (10:40 pace).

Considering last Friday was the first time I've ever run 5 miles straight, and that was in z2, I thought this was a bit wackadoodle.  So, as a compromise, I pushed on the upper z4 runs (even hit 9:30 a few times), then ran the lower z4 for 2.5 mins, walked for 1.5 min (drinking water), and ran the last 1 min of the interval.  Then started it all over again.  I did run all of the final lower z4 interval.  I probably could have run more, but give then this was 50 minutes of continuous HARD running, I didn't want to push it.  Still managed to get in 5.63 miles.

Now my challenge is not falling asleep under my desk.  I'm wiped.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Rest definitely makes a difference

Today I did the Continental Classic ride today, which is basically the IronStar course. This was my 4th time on the course, last time being Nov 09 during the IronStar Aquabike.  For that race, I was very fatigued - falling asleep every night by 8:30 PM, crabby, and just probably the most tired I've been since being diagnosed with hypothyoidism.  Today, I'm pretty fresh, rested, and ready to go. 

Comparison of the two rides:
IronStar - avg HR 158, avg speed 15.8 mph, time 3:31 (56 miles), level of effort - huge.  I was wiped out.
CC - avg HR 148, avg speed 15.8 mph, time 2:56 (46 miles), level of effort - zone 2.  Went out and ran 3 miles right after and felt fine.  I haven't even really taken a nap.

Sure, for IronStar, I did swim before the ride and it was 10 miles longer.  Plus, CC went clockwise, saving the harder hills for the back end.  But I just felt so much better today.  I still bottomed out at the end of the ride... I can't get my nutrition right when its not hot out, since I get my calories in from drinking.  I think that once I get that ironed out, I should be able to hit the bike harder and not feel the effects so much.

Overall, pretty interesting comparison of how fatigue affects performance.  I think my average HR and perceived exertion says it all.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Continuous Running

I am not a runner.  Well, historically speaking, anyways.  Something tells me that's changing.

Today I ran my longest continuous distance - 5 miles.  Sure, I've done longer distances (14 miles) but always having to walk part of it.  My KatyFit running group was a big proponent of a 5 min run / 1 min walk interval plan, which is what I used for January's Half Marathon.  Even before then, the longest I've run continuously was 2 miles, always stopping because I got tired or my heart rate was way too high.

Part of my coach's training is for me to do my long runs in Zone 2, which ties into that lactate threshold test I did a few weeks back.  This week's long run was 5 miles in Z2.  So I started running, set my Garmin to keep me in Z2 and just thought I'd run until I felt like walking.  I took a trail I know well and was suprised when I made it to the first bridge, just over a mile away, without needing to walk.  So I took it farther.  And at my turnaround, I still felt really good.  I continued to run until I hit my 5 miles.  Was my pace blazing?  No.  But it was 15 seconds faster than my half marathon time with the run/walk intervals.  Hmmm....  Now we'll see if this type of running is sustainable over longer distances. 

I'm still amazed with how easy today's run felt.  Normally, running is hard and I have to push to keep going.  This was nearly effortless.  I like this kind of running - makes me want to be a runner.  Craziness.

Monday, March 01, 2010

February Totals

February's totals:

Bike: 7h 03m 36s - 74.36 Mi  (includes 2.5 hours of spin class)
Run: 4h 10m 17s - 22.93 Mi
Swim: 6h 15m - 15750 Yd
Pilates: 1h 50m
Yoga: 2h 00m
Races: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon

Not too shabby, given Mon-Thurs last week was a no-go workout-wise, since I was out in the field working 12 hr days.

Goals for March:
  • 3 long bike rides (~50 miles).  Each long ride will be a brick with at least 3 miles of running.
  • Speed/interval training for running
  • Swim faster.  My times are crappy due to my off time and swimming indoors.  The only way I can race faster is to train faster.