Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chicago Triathlon Training: Week Three (marathon week 4)

My Schedule got all sorts of messed up this week. I had an MRI on Tuesday, I took a client Wednesday, had a doctor's appointment Friday, went to a music festival on was pretty crazy.

I'll add in here that the reason I crossed off some runs last week, and have now converted all of my runs to the elliptical is because I've been having some pain in my left shin and went to get it checked out. The good news is that there's no stress fracture. The bad news is that I'm lucky there's no stress fracture because Dr Gent says I was on my way to one. I have to take the next three weeks off running. I'm still allowed to do non-impact activities (swim-bike-elliptical) but no running for a bit.

Dr Gent...always telling me not to run! You know what he did say though? Verbatim: 'Swimming. Swimming is great! You're going to get very good at swimming!'

Ironic, given my terrible first open water swim. I actually laughed when he said this because I desperately hoped he'd be right!

Also good news: I should still be able to do my sprint tri on July 9th! Regardless of whether or not I can run the run, I'm going to participate so I can test out my transition skills (or, you know, bomb it and learn a lot instead).

I won't be including elliptical stats in here because they're boring. I'm basically doing 10 minutes for every 1 mile I'm supposed to run, keeping it the same intensity that I would for an easy run (no point working hard when I'm technically practicing injury prevention and recovery this week).

Here's a snapshot of what the schedule looked like for the week:
Wherever you see two runs in a day, like Monday, I only do the run in red.
Monday 6/13: 3 miles, easy swim 1.9 (3,350 yds)
I woke up to three miles on the elliptical. The only good thing about this is that I get to catch up on EastEnders...

After work, I decided to move my swim up a day because I had the MRI on Tuesday. So I hit the pool for a 1.9 mile swim - my furthest to date!
I liked this routine since it really kept things mixed up, but my calves and feet started to cramp pretty badly during the kicks, and by the end I kind of reformed the workout so I could do it without kicking too much. And then I spent every night during the week foam rolling!

Tuesday 6/14: weights
I stuck to the weights on Tuesday morning:

Because of the MRI there wasn't really time (or energy) for anything in the evening. Good thing too...I was so tired that I fell asleep during the MRI!

Wednesday 6/15: 3 miles
I was up early again for three miles.

After work I took a client at 7pm which meant there was no way I would make the OWS. No big deal though, there was another one I could go to on Thursday, and since Thursday was an optional workout I decided to make the switch.

Thursday 6/16: 4 miles, .5 mile OWS
I totally slacked on Thursday and Friday. I don't know what got into me, but I did not get up and run on Thursday morning. I did not do my 4 miles, I did not pass go :(

But I DID get my ass to Three Oaks lake for an OWS. I almost didn't go. I was still tired, I was grouchy, I actually fell asleep on the couch beforehand, and I was feeling like 'why bother, it went so poorly last time...'

And then I snapped out of it and realized I had to go. No excuses. I had squeeze into that wetsuit and face my fears. It was cloudy and chilly out (mid 60's) and there were way fewer people than at the previous OWS, but the water wasn't too bad.

I pulled on my wetsuit (which looks awesome), and off I went!
Me and Flounder, my wetsuit. I named him Flounder because my bike is an Ariel...and because I totally floundered during that first OWS.
If you look at the bottom right picture, the first bouy started just beyond that raft in the top left of the picture. I breast stroked out there, had to stop to spit in my goggles, and then started my watch as I crossed the 'No Swim' line:


For the first 100 yards I felt like I didn't know how to swim, and I was sure it would be a repeat of the first OWS. I felt clumsy, my goggles fogged a lot, and I totally went off course. So I stopped to wipe my goggles and...I just bobbed up and down in the water. The wetsuit kept me upright and I didn't even do anything! Then when I started swimming again I started with my stoke (no kick) and was gliding through the water. Before I knew it I'd reached the second bouy, and then the third, and BAM I was done!

This is a man-made lake so the water is much cleaner than other lakes, without all the reeds and foliage you get in other lakes (and I only saw one fish the entire time). The second and third legs were a bit choppy so I really got to test out my sighting skills, but overall it was much easier to navigate than my first swim because I could actually see bouys and landmarks.

I actually WANTED to do another lap. I couldn't because we were meeting friends, but at that moment I fell in love with Open Water Swimming. Flounder made all the difference! I can now say I'm excited for future open water swims!

The other awesome part of this swim was all the women I met in the locker room after! I had so much fun talking to them (and they all said they couldn't believe I swam LitH without a wetsuit and that it's a difficult lake because of how gross it is), and overall they were very friendly and encouraging about everything. They even helped me celebrate my success with this swim. I can't wait to see them all again next Thursday when I do my next swim there!

Friday 6/17: easy bike 60, easy run 30 6 miles
Remember what I said about being lazy? Yeah, that happened again on Friday. I got up and did six miles on my elliptical, but did not make it out on my bike in the evening. I had my follow-up with Dr Gent about my leg (no running for 3 more weeks, I can do activities that don't aggravate it until then), and then just wasn't feeling it. So I skipped it. Not the end of the world...but let's just say I won't keep skipping things like that, especially not the bike.

Saturday 6/18: 9 miles, weights
I stayed up way too late on Friday and had a music festival on Saturday (which meant I'd be staying up late again), so I strongly considered skipping my run in the morning.

And then I didn't. Because I skipped the bike on Friday, and I knew I couldn't keep up that trend. So I hopped on my elliptical for 90 minutes and did my time.

When I hopped off, I got in the car and drove straight to the gym to lift. I didn't realize I only had one day of weights worked in this week, and I'd rather stick to two a week if I can!

And after that, it was Piqniq time! (Stay tuned for a short post about that too!!)

Sunday 6/19: rest
After Saturday's training and then staying up late for Piqniq, my body needed some rest. It was also Father's Day, which always puts me in a bit of a bum mood, so I did my best to stay off social media and chill and watch TV and do laundry. It was a successful rest day, and got me primed for week four!

And that's it for now...I'll be back with another short post soon. Hannah's here this week so I'm taking a week off from tri-training (except for some swims) but I'll still post a training update next week. It will probably be super weak though...but I'll save all that for later!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Chicago Triathlon Training: Week Two

Welcome to Week 2 of my training plan! Let's get to it...

Monday 6/6: weights, steady 1.3 swim
Monday morning I hit the gym to lift, and since I'm down to two days a week for lifting I combined chest and shoulders:

After work it was back into the pool, this time for 2,000 yards at a steady pace. I decided to do climbing intervals alternating between breast stroke and crawl. So I started with a warm up and then 25 breast/25 crawl, 50 breast/50 crawl, 75/75, 100/100, 200/200, ending with a cool down. Nothing exciting, but it got the job done:
Tuesday 6/7: 4 miles
Tuesday ended up being a really crazy day for me. I woke up at 4am to bag and wrap a bunch of baked goods for PrideZ's bake sale, and it took me until almost 5:30. I did not see that coming...I thought it would take me 20 minutes and I'd be able to get out for my run.

But I didn't. Since I was taking my car in for some TLC, I knew right away that my run would not happen on Tuesday, and that I'd have to make it up on Wednesday. Joy...but I guess adaptation is still a think in training season.

I did get the inner tube on my bike tire changed though!

Wednesday 6/8: 4 miles, steady bike 50
I really don't look forward to getting up and running first thing in the morning. Rolling out of bed at 4:30 to put on running clothes and get my butt out the door before the sun is even up is just not my favorite. But I had to make up Tuesday's run, so I did it:
After work on Wednesday I hit up the trail I normally do my long rides on since it's on my way home. 50 minutes took me about 6 miles out and back, for a total of just over 12 miles:
This ride was okay. My calves started cramping just a few miles into the ride and I stopped to stretch them as soon as I got to a parking lot to pull over. I had passed someone else just a little while before, but I knew he was still right behind me. When I pulled over he said, "Don't tell me you're turning around here too!" and I started laughing and said, "I knew you were right behind me!" We ended up chatting for a bit while I stretched. It was great to have that friendly little exchange with someone randomly. So even though I know Bob from Hoffman Estates will never read this...Hi, Bob!

Thursday 6/9: weights, easy swim 1.4 1
Weights in the morning before work went well. I didn't want to work legs (like I normally do on Thursday) because my hamstrings and quads were still very tight, so I stuck to upper body and abs, adding a few more lifts than usual, and then did some foam rolling to end:

After work I headed back to the gym for 1.4 miles (or 2400 yards). I only made it to 1700 though: Turns out there's a Tuesday/Thursday aqua fit class at the location I went to. I'll have to either start doing OWSs those days, or switching up which gym I go to based on the class schedule. I was bummed I had to cut this one short because I built up some good momentum...and then just had to stop. Darn classes.

Friday 6/10: 3 miles, steady swim 1100
There's a reason this run and Saturday's are crossed off. I'll let you take an educated guess as to why.

Until I tell you the actual reason, I'll let you know that I replaced my run with a swim, wanting to make up the yards I missed on Thursday. I was running a bit last and decided to just keep it simple: I hopped in the pool, swim 1100 yards without stopping, and got out. I felt great the whole time (even though my shoulders were a bit sore for the first couple hundred), so I'll call that a success:
I made it to work on time and everything, so I'm happy with that.

Saturday 6/11: long bike 90-easy run 10 brick, 5 miles (marathon), Hooverball
I headed back to my favorite trail again on Saturday for my long ride. I logged 90 uneventful minutes in the saddle. They were hot and sweaty, but they passed quickly.
After my ride I went over to Jennie's to play Hooverball. While fun, it was way too hot, and after about 20 minutes I laid in the shade to do a whole lot of nothing.

Sunday 6/12: rest
Nothing exciting on Sunday. I had an options cross train/rest day, and after all the sun I got on Saturday (and knowing I wouldn't have another rest day until next Sunday) I decided to take the day off.

The whole Wack Pack went to the race track to waste our money, and I got a nice sunburn instead of doing anything physical. I ate lots of popcorn as well :P

And there it is.
I'll have another recap for you next week...and probably a training update/life thing to post as well...

Until then...!


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Volition America 5k Race Recap!

Finally, the post you've been waiting for all week! My recap of the Volition America 5k...the race I've been talking about PRing for the last three months!

Sit back, kids, it's gonna be a long one!
*But there are pictures!!

I will be 100% completely honest with all of you about this race - I was terrified. I put it out there months ago that I wanted to PR my 5k distance at this race because it was right at the beginning of my training, but as the day approached and I realized I hadn't done any real speed training, I was pretty sure it wasn't going to happen...

...but we'll get to that. First, the other stuff:

Race Details and Organization
The Volition America race series benefits Folds of Honor, a non-for profit that provides assistance and scholarships to the spouses and children of those servicemen and women killed or disabled in the American armed forces.

It's a smaller local race, and I'm glad they had both 5k and half options. The whole race was very well organized, and race day packet pick up is available.

My company picked this race as the finale for our Couch to 5k program since we weren't originally going to fund the Corporate Challenge. And now that I've done both races I can tell you I'm glad we did this one instead. I'm really bummed out that I won't be able to do the half downtown on September 11th, and I fully intend to sign up for the series again next year. 

I highly, highly recommend this race...for the cause, the crowd, organization, and the awesome medals ;) A+ all around!

And finally, here's a quick round up of the course - the half marathon went all around the blue loop, with a few out-and-backs worked in (the blue loop is about 7.7 miles). The 5k (in red) started at the green arrow heading south, at about .1 miles we made a U-turn and looped back past the start to go north for an out-and-back of our own. My Garmin clocked the course slightly long, at 3.25 miles (I counted the full race distance as my 5k time).

Before I go any further...
I never had a chance to post this picture of my C25k ladies. They were so amazing to run and talk with each morning, and I really do miss them on my morning runs. Mary Beth (in green) was the only other one who could make it to the race...Susan (our only new runner when we started) was hosting her daughter's wedding that day! She had a great excuse to miss it :P
NaDonya, Susan, Mary Beth, and myself after our last run!
Now back to the race!

Preparing (or not...)
On top of the lack of speed training, here are the other reasons I didn't think I stood a chance of PRing:
  • The last time I tested my speed was April 21st, at which point I was running with an average pace of 10:15/mile. I had not done any kind of speed training since. To PR, I needed to maintain a 10:00/mile or better.
  • I struggled through an open water swim on Wednesday that really worked my legs (if you missed that post). I was still feeling that swim.
  • I still lifted on Thursday - I dropped the weight for my squats and deadlifts by 20lbs for my first set (dropped it more after that), and my legs were still super sore and fatigued afterwards
  • I had my first brick workout on Friday, 40 minutes of biking followed by 40 minutes of running. By some miracle I actually ran the whole run, but my pace was 11:56/mile.
The only thing I felt good about was that I've been consistently Heart Rate training since February. But part of HR Training is speedwork 1x (or so) a week, and I hadn't been doing that. For real - I had no idea how I would make it through the three (point one) miles on Saturday because of how sore my legs had been for days. I actually woke up at two am worrying about the race.

I did, however, have my standard thin crust pizza with sausage and onion (and a side salad) for dinner the night before. So maybe that helped?

Anyways...I foam rolled Friday morning and evening to get my legs ready, and then again when I woke up at 5am on Saturday. My legs were still tight, my quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors were still sore, and I was still very nervous.
All my rolly tools got some great use on Friday!
Race Morning
I woke up at 5:00, did my thing, and then at 5:45 I left Cam's house to head over to Busse Woods, where the race would be. It was only a 15 minute drive and I'd been there they day before for my brick workout, so I knew exactly which Grove I had to go to because I saw them setting up. I ended up parking about half a mile from the start, and I was glad I had my bike on the back of my car because it meant I was able to ride from my car to the packet pickup, grab my stuff, and then ride back to my car. I ran into a few Zurich people on the way (remember, this was a company sponsored race), so I knew who to look for when I got back.

After I re-mounted my bike on the car, changed my shoes (almost forgot to do that) and got my FlipBelt ready, I grabbed my breakfast - standard pre-race Clif Bar with natural peanut butter - and started eating as I walked. I still had 45 minutes until the 5k started, so a group of us chatted and Mary Beth (from my running group) and I took some selfies. I was so glad she was there because it was a nice little culmination of the program we coached:

How adorable are all of her freckles!?!
While we were standing there, Beth asked what kind of pace I was going to keep for the race. She said something about an easy pace and I laughed (very nervously) and said, "Well...I'm trying to PR. How does a 9:55 min/mile sound?"

She looked at me like I was crazy and then said, "I will keep that pace with you as long as I can!" (Because she's crazy awesome like that!).

We said the pledge and sang the national anthem (actually, we listened to a really cool recording of it), and then watched the half marathoners go off before we lined up for the 5k.

Beth and I made our way to the very front of the pack (because we could, not because we're super was selfish of me, but because I was trying to PR I didn't want to have to dodge around people at the start of the race, I decided they could dodge me! The front worked out for that :P We hung out for the three and a half minutes before they let us go, and then we were off!

The Race
I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty - because I didn't know what a 9:55 pace felt like (ya know, since I've never run one consistently), I started WAY too fast. It takes my Garmin a few seconds to catch up, but after almost two minutes I will still seeing my pace in the 8:xx's, and I knew I had to pull back.

I kept pulling back slightly until I saw a pace I knew I could keep for a while, and I settled into a 9:05 for the first mile. I planned to bank some time because I knew there would be hills during miles two and three. The first and last miles of the course proved to be the 'easiest' (I still felt like dying on the last mile). I won't lie, my legs were sore and ached, and were burning in no time. I've already told you - they'd been overworked for days at this point, and they were tired.

So you know what I thought of? I thought of the Hustle Up the Hancock. I thought to myself, 'This is like the Hustle. It will be hard. You know how hard this is. This is your 120 floors instead of 94. Just keep your legs moving for thirty minutes and when you're done and you stop you'll feel like you're on top of the world again.'

I was right. It was just like the Hustle. I knew from the start that my heart rate would soar the entire time, that my body would hurt and burn for at least half a mile, but that it was not indefinite. The race was 3.1 miles, and I could finish it.

I ticked the first mile off at 9:04. Good. Plenty of time banked. I had a good 55 second buffer for those hills.

The next mile was much harder. There's a bridge that goes over Higgins Road, and I realized I'd be running over it before 1.5 miles, and then back over it before the last mile. That was going to be tough. It's a gradual but steep ascent from ground level on the left, and then a quicker and steeper ascent on the right, and not friendly on a bike or by foot:
The course ran from left to right over this bridge, turned around about half a mile later, then took us back over from right to left.
I came down from the bridge right before I hit 1.5 miles, and my lungs felt like they were spasming. I had a stitch growing in my side, and the impact from coming down the hill made it so bad that I was forced to stop and walk to catch my breath.

I gave myself fifteen seconds to calm my lungs and heart rate a little, and then I picked the pace up again. I had a feeling I would need to repeat this after I passed back over the bridge, so I pushed myself to the turn around, and then back to the bridge, knocking the second mile out in 9:35 as I went.

Just after hitting mile two I was back climbing the bridge and I pushed up, passing a number of people as I went. I feel like I never pass anyone when I run, so this gave me a little mental boost.

However, right as I crested the bridge I felt winded by the stitch again, so I slowed to a walk. This time I only gave myself ten seconds before I picked up again - I didn't want to lose the momentum of the downhill, I wanted to keep banking time, and I knew I was on the last mile.

At this point, I was also pretty sure the course would run long. Right at the end of the bridge there was a sign indicating the last "Mission Mile", and my Garmin said I was already at 2.25 miles. Great. I just hoped my legs had the extra .15 in them:

That's obviously not me :P
I also knew at this point that this one mile was going to be a push and a struggle. I knew the last mile was going to tell me what I was made of, and that I would want to quit and walk the entire thing.

I have a couple "official" photos to share from this race, and two of them were taken at the same point on the out and back. I can't believe I'm going to post such an awful photo of myself...but I am. The photo on the left is from about a half mile into the race, and I'm running pretty strong at my 9:05 pace. The second picture would have been taken about half a mile from the finish...and I was feeling it. All I wanted to do was stop and walk. Enjoy:
I mean...I'm pretty sure it looks like I'm dying in that photo on the right. Right?

I decided to take one more walk break around 2.75. I knew I was nearing the end, but I was so fatigued and knew I had enough time to recuperate slightly with a short walk. I gave myself another 10 seconds, that kicked my pace up for the last half mile (because the course ran long).

As I went, my Garmin ticked off my third mile at 9:30, giving me a negative split from mile 2 (and those hills).

The remainder of the course was flat as a pancake, and I knew it. Busse Woods is my stomping ground...I knew that last half mile, and I knew it was the part of the trail I like most. I just had to keep chugging along and I'd be done in no time. There were two people in front of me and I kept pace with them, trying not to think about how much I wanted to stop and lay down.

Just before the finish there were three volunteers (I'm not sure what branch, active or veteran, etc) in their fatigues waving us over the road to the finish. I barely managed to thank them as I went past - all of my energy was propelling my legs forward towards the timing mat.

And finally I crossed:
Another glamour shot for you :P
I know...I look so relieved to be done.

I stopped my Garmin and looked down:

Not only did I beat my previous PR (31:42)...I completely CRUSHED IT.

Even though I immediately grabbed water and went to sit in the grass, I was so ecstatic. I had signed up for the PR challenge months ago with the intention of using heart rate training to get there, but never "had the time" for speed work. And yet somehow all of the slow running and cross training and lifting got me there.

Even with sore legs and having "failed" at that open water swim days before, I had enough confidence to still attempt this PR, and not give in and let it be an easy run instead.

Running is also a mental game you play with yourself, and I was able to push myself to accept thirty minutes of struggle to accomplish something I really wanted.
How cool is that medal too??
I earned this medal. All 30 minutes and 16 seconds made it so worth it to me to be able to text my friends and family (and post to my various Facebook groups) saying, "I did what I didn't think I could."

I need to start doing more "Official" photos at these things!!
I was in for another surprise as well: It didn't even occur to me until hours later that, because the course ran long, my actual 5k split was lower than 30:16. So I finally looked at the records on my Garmin and it showed that my split was actually...


I ran a sub-30 5k. Like...actually finished 3.1 miles in less than thirty minutes. I mean, I blew past 30 minutes and was barely over 29 minutes! That totally shocks me, because not only was it not on my radar, but I didn't think it was possible (without targeted training) before I did it.

So my next goal?

An official sub-29 5k time.

But that can definitely wait until after the marathon.