Monday, August 29, 2016

Chicago Triathlon Training: Week Twelve (marathon 'rest' week)

We're going to get this out of the way pronto, so that I can get on to writing the FUN posts for this week...all about the Chicago Triathlon!
My one goal for the week: Hit these workouts. And I did (barring that one swim on Saturday...)

Monday - rest
I rested :P

Tuesday - 1.2 mile swim
I got in the pool and did some decent sets.
Ignore the notes at the top of that paper. This was just another random swim workout I pulled, and does not live up to my peak workouts from the season!
I did the 400 and 200 as pulls to get my arms ready for the weekend. It was a good swim...but I will be happy to stay out of the pool for a few weeks because it was getting boring!

Wednesday - hard bike 30
Holy moly, this bike ride. I have spent all season being extra prepared...but not on Wednesday. I forgot my gloves, water, sunglasses...and helmet. I do not advise doing what I did...but I rode anyways because it was my last ride, and I wanted to get it done.

I'll admit though, I didn't take this very hard. I picked up my bike from the bike shop at lunch and needed to give it a test ride before Sunday. My computer was working (finally!) which made me happy, but the bike shop guys had reset my seat height and forgot to put it back. After struggling with a too-low seat for the first mile or so I stopped at another bike shop and asked for a tool to fix the problem. Within 5 minutes I was back in the saddle and going...although I decided that seat needed to come up a little more...
Not too bad, but I was grumpy because the seat height really had an effect!

Thursday - rest
More rest, and I started prepping stuff for Saturday (which mostly means I made my room a total mess).

Friday - 2 mile run

It was easy peasy...I used the last short Friday of the summer to get in a quick run around the Goose Poop Trails near work to shake myself out for the weekend.
The weather was decent (read: not hot as Hades) and I was happy to see that after a few days of rest my pace picked up. It was a nice little ego boost going in to the weekend!

Saturday - .8 mile swim
So, on my way to the gym I got in an accident. I rear ended someone (more on that later) and ended up turning around and going straight home (after the whole insurance info exchange) so my brother could check out my car. I'm saving this for my weekend recap though ;)

Sunday - Chicago Triathlon

It was amazing. Just wait. Recap coming THIS WEEK because EUROPE ON FRIDAY!!!

And there you have it. I am off...have a good one!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

I am the Walrus.

Around 6:22 this morning as I was driving to work I had this overwhelming feeling that everything in my life changes starting today.

For the last few months it's felt like things have been changing, but something hit me today. Some sense of it went from "changing" to "changed".

I don't really know how to describe it. It feels emotional and stressful, and at this point I feel like I need to just hang on for the ride.

I have a big couple of weeks coming up.

This weekend is the Chicago Triathlon. The event I've been waiting and training for all summer. At 4,000 participants for the International event (just the International, that doesn't include the Sprint or Super Sprint!) it will undoubtedly include some chaos and nerves. After some swimming and biking this week I feel much more confident about the race itself.

Five days after the tri I leave for Europe...after an 18 mile run. That's right. I'm taking off work next Friday for a new kind of triathlon: Run, pack, fly.

And at that point...that's when I start holding on. That's when I make the best of everything that's happened and everything that will come. Two weeks' break, then it's back to real life.

But right now doesn't feel like real life. It feels like I've been picked up and dropped by a tornado, and this Oz I've landed in is wonderful and exciting but simultaneously terrifying. Time to follow the yellow brick road?

(This post? It sounds like I'm on drugs, I know. I'm not. I promise.)


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chicago Triathlon Training: Week Eleven (marathon week 13)

I'm tempted to just skip this week's recap. Maybe it's been the lack of oxygen to my brain because of being sick or maybe it's something more, but I spent the entire week feeling totally exhausted from morning to night. I skipped almost every workout this week and still felt exhausted. Logically I know this probably means I needed to skip them, but it doesn't make me feel any better about it with the race now 6 days away.

Since the race is Sunday, my priority this week is rest. I believe I'll complete the rest of my training schedule without a problem, since it's the final taper week and things are easier. That said, I need my body to be able to carry me through three hours of push on Sunday, and I wanted to feel successful when I cross that finish line.

That little thought aside...this week was terrible. Here, just look:

Monday - easy swim 1.6, weights rest

Tuesday - 4 miles rest

Wednesday - easy OWS, 8 miles weights
Somehow I managed this in the morning:

After work I felt like dying though, so I went home and did nothing.

Thursday - hard bike 55 rest
Thursday was an especially not-great day. Though the following sounds way worse than it actually was: I blacked out in the shower on Thursday morning. I knew it was coming and managed to sit down before it happened so I didn't smack my face on the shower and kill myself, but it left me feeling woozy and sick almost all day.

Honestly, I feel like it was a mix of dehydration (from being asleep) and the doxycycline I'd been taking for four days. Apparently it's not unheard of to black out like that from doxy. Thursday was my last day of the antibiotic so I just pushed through it, and I've been fine since - but it lead me to skip another workout. All day long I felt like my blood pressure was off and my heart was skipping beats...a bike ride did not seem like a good idea, and I got some extra sleep that night instead.

Friday - short brick tempo bike 50-tempo run 30

I actually did this one (mostly)! I wasn't going to skip my last brick workout, because a) I've skipped a lot of them and b) I'm starting to feel like I won't make it through the bike on Sunday...

The brick went fine. I tested out an aero helmet that my coworker leant me, and I plan to use it on race day. I rode one loop of the hilly trail near my work, then did a two mile shakeout run. I was definitely tired at the end, partially from the heat and partially from being exhausted to the max all week, but I managed:

After that I went to the gym, showered, and then dropped my bike off for a once over and tune up before the race. Things are getting real for sure!

Saturday - tempo swim 1.6
Didn't happen. The Swim Bike Fuel meetup was Saturday, and I got up at 5 to make my way down for it from 7:30-3:30. The meetup itself was fun and informative, and it was great meeting so many other SBF ladies (and Mere and Mere!).
Swim Bike Mom herself, Meredith Atwood!
It wasn't exactly a rest day...there was a moderate amount of walking, some yoga and jogging, and general alertness required...but it was not any training level either, for sure. The humidity and early rising had me feeling pretty sluggish all day though, and I was glad I didn't try to get up at 4am to make it downtown for an open water swim in the lake...I would have crashed and burned if I had!

Sunday - 12 miles

Didn't happen. I felt like crap, super tired, totally worn out and exhausted. I took another day off. I'm feeling like a major slacker at this point.


Race day is Sunday. Until taper, I was confident it would go well. Now I'm having second thoughts because I feel like I've been so inactive during taper. I know this is normal, and I've heard other people express this sentiment before, so I'm trying to ignore it.

Like I said...this week is about rest, hydration, and race prep. I just need to focus on getting myself downtown and calming my nerves this week. My mantra this week: Race day will come and I'm ready...!


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Chicago Triathlon Training: Week Ten (marathon week 12)

I went into last week knowing I was going to play around with the early week of the schedule, mostly with the runs, although I'm bummed I only got in one lift day. However, at this point I'm realizing it's okay for the next few weeks until the triathlon is over to only be hitting the weights once a week if that's all that happens.

Honestly though, it feels like everything fell apart this week, due to overall tiredness, lethargy, and some fun health issues that started on Friday. But I'll talk about all of that down below.

Here was the planned schedule vs actual:

Monday - weights, max swim 1.2
Those weights did not happen Monday morning. Honestly though, after a 15 mile run who's surprised by that?

But I did hit the pool after work for 1.2 miles (2100 yards)
I went in with a plan...and then I scratched that plan about half way through because the "2100 yard" workout I'd printed out was WAY more than 2100 yards. Like, it was 3300 yards. I don't know who did the math on that one, but they were super off.

So I did 2,100 yards and called it a day.

Tuesday - 4 miles, easy bike 60 weights
So first...I knew that 4 mile run was not going to happen. My shin was bothering me a bit, and I was exhausted when I got out of bed (I really need to work on getting more sleep). Regardless...I got up early for lifting on Tuesday, but I was totally wiped after work so I just went home and did nothing, rather than that bike ride. Whoops...

Wednesday - 8 miles easy bike 60
I slept in a bit on Wednesday, swearing I would do my bike ride after work. It was ridiculously hot out, and when I checked the weather as I pulled into the lot for my bike ride I saw that there was an air quality advisory. That basically means it's so humid that your lung function is diminished. The air was literally too wet to breathe. So I said 'eff that' and went home and did my ride on my trainer.

Thursday - rest 4 miles
So...Wednesday when I noticed that air quality advisory, I also noticed that it would extend through Thursday evening. And then there were some reports about female runners being killed randomly in different cities... I went to the gym and did my four mile run on the dreadmill on Thursday morning:

I don't intend for news reports to scare me off early morning running...but I was not feeling it for this one. Regardless, those 4 miles got done.

Friday - weights rescued a dog, steady swim 2.3
Yeah, you read that right. Friday morning I got up nice and early, loaded up my car and was driving to the gym when I spotted a small dog outside that should not have been outside. No collar, running around sniffing stuff right next to the I pulled over and put my hazards on and played dog catcher. The little dude wrestled an entire Clif bar from me and I only managed to grab him while he was horking it down.

I ended up scratching my workout to drive him to the 24-Hour Emergency Vet near my house, then went home with just enough time to get ready for work.

After work I hopped on over to the pool for my last loooooong swim before Chicago. I just kept telling myself that once I finished the 4,100 yards, I would not have to do a swim like that for a while (unless I want to).
I totally forgot to stop my watch until I was in the locker room so...whoops :/
That's why it's at 4,250 and not 4,100.
I did all of the long sets (600, 400 free) as pulls, since I normally pull in OWS. I (somehow) narrowly avoided foot cramping during this as well. I felt one coming on around 1500, so I hopped out to stretch and massage it, then got back in the pool.

Not a bad one, but I'm glad I don't have to do another swim like that for a while!

Saturday - long bike 120
Like many of my rides lately, I was not feeling this one before I set out. But like the day before with the swim, I reminded myself that it was my last long bike before Chicago. I had some issues with fogginess and my head felt like it was full of bricks, but I got out there and on my bike anyways, if only to say I did. I'd noticed some breathing problems the day before during my swim, and they started up right away when I got on my I decided that all I had to do for my long ride was hit race distance. If I could make it to 25 or 26 miles feeling as crappy as I did, I would be happy.
I was gross after this ride. Dripping in sweat and covered in dirt, debris, and bugs:

The shower after this ride felt great, for sure.

Fun story: What I did after this ride. It's pertinent to Sunday, so I'll tell that story now.

Remember that cold I had last month that kept me from completing my half on schedule and pushed me to take a few days off training? Well I've had a gross (read: productive) cough ever since. Friday during my swim I was having trouble breathing, and that redoubled itself on Saturday...and also my head felt like it was full of rocks. So Saturday I showered after my ride then headed to Urgent Care. My motive was two fold: 1) Find out what was causing the lung issues 2) get tested for Lyme's Disease. A few weeks ago I got a bug bite that I thought was just a mosquito bite, but after a week it swelled up again and developed a ring around it:
No bueno. cut it short. They tested for Lyme's (still waiting to hear back on that) and it turns out I have a sinus infection AND an upper respiratory infection. So I got antibiotics to cover all three (whee...doxycycline).

Forshadowing: This is having an impact on this week's training, since I want my lungs good to go for the Chicago Tri in TWO WEEKS.


Sunday - 16 miles 3 miles
I'm sure this change isn't exactly surprising.

My lungs were working hard, so I decided to cut Sunday's run to 10 miles. I took Nigel out with me, planning to loop back after 4, but around 2.5 he looked like he was really feeling the heat. I need to learn that this dog, at 7 years old, can only take about 3 miles at a time. I turned down the street my friend lives on, hoping for a doggy bowl near their front porch (no luck), so I kept him cantering next to me until Mile which point I felt really breathless, lightheaded, and ready to pass out.

And that's when I called it. I stopped running, let my heart rate and blood pressure come down to normal and finished the half mile walk home. I knew at that point I was not going to healthily make my way to 10 miles, let alone 16, and sometimes the smart thing is to stop running.

It is now two days later, I'm still wheezing and gasping when I go up stairs (seriously, stairs are so difficult right now). My nose spent the last two days draining, and now I can't stop coughing. I also have a pretty persistent headache. Thank god it's taper time!

Now for some cute pics for listening to me whine! Nigel was so worn out that he let me take a picture (he normally gets up and walks away when the camera is on him!):
He also left me a nice little puddle of drool on the brand new bathroom floor :P
By the way - the bathroom is almost done. Just need a new shower curtain and sink accessories. It looks so great, and I'm loving it already!

Oh...and Nigel continued to sit there, not moving, while I got ready. At one point he starting thumping his tail against my legs too, which just warmed my heart right up:

After that, my mom dragged me to the mall to buy towels and I almost died from how tired I was (and not being able to breathe).

The end!

(Okay, not really, but at least until next time!)


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Just $20.

In college I had a professor who suggested donating just $20 a month to a charity. "Less than a cup of coffee a day over the month, you won't even miss it," he said. I didn't think I would ever find a charity that I would want to donate that $20 to every month.

And then Kayla was killed.

Today would have been Kayla's 28th birthday. Today I think about my friend, the violence that still exists in this world, and the heart she had to go thousands of miles away to let refugees cry on her shoulder and to help give them a better life.

Every month I donate $20 to the charity her parents established in her memory. That college professor was right. I do not miss it. I miss my friend. And I will never stop giving.
Remembering Kayla

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Chicago Triathlon Training: Week Nine (marathon week 11)

I really pushed things around with my schedule this week. Let's dive right in (to the swim I didn't do on Monday...)
Monday - tempo swim 2.2 weights
It's been increasingly difficult to summon up the energy for two-a-days (especially after long runs), and I couldn't bring myself to swim two miles on Monday when I knew I'd be swimming that distance on Thursday. So I flipped the week on it's head and lifted on Monday, skipping the cardio:
Ahh Bench. My least favorite thing to do when I'm tired.

Tuesday - rest
Like I said...Thursday was going to be a swim day so I moved my Thursday bike to Tuesday, and I did it on the trainer!

That's all I've got for you there.

Wednesday - 7 miles 8 miles
Imagine my surprise days later when I realized this run only had to be 7 and I ran 8. Yeah. For the record, the temperature was 72F, the humidity was 74%, and the dew point was 69. Ouch. It was hot and sweaty, but gave me a chance to test out my new headlamp (and I wore a reflective vest too! So safe!). The headlamp got me all sorts of excited for Ragnar next year...
I am definitely slower at 3am.

Thursday  - easy bike 60, weights 2 mile OWS
It was the last OWS of the season at Three Oaks! I had my sights set on two miles, so four loops of the course.

It's so crazy to think that just two short months ago I was terrified of open water swimming because of that one bad experience. Now though? I love it. I've looked forward to these swims for weeks, and I love being in the water. This week, I swam more than two miles - more than twice my race distance. I will for sure miss my open swims at Three Oaks...I can honestly say I love swimming in this lake!

I did my two miles in 80:40 - which made me a very happy camper since I thought my pace would slow due to the distance. But it didn't!

There were only two drawbacks during the swim. First up: My goggles were too tight. My own fault, but I was having problems with them leaking and over compensated by tightening them too much, except I thought the nose piece was too small, so I didn't realize they were too tight until almost the very end of the swim. Whoops. Know what I got for that? A headache. Won't be making that mistake again.

Second: The water was very warm during this swim. Probably 80F. I managed in a wetsuit, but one of my goals for next year is definitely to complete a 2 mile OWS without a wetsuit.

You read it here first!

Friday - Brick (70/45) Brick (75/10)
Bike rides in super hot weather are not my favorite. In addition, my shin was bugging me. So I settled on two laps at one of the trails near by, then ran a mile to shake my legs out. Then I wrapped things up, because I know I can do bricks and that I can run miles and miles, and I don't need to do a 4 mile run after a bike to test my legs and possibly aggravate an injury. I just don't. So there.
Saturday - 15 miles rest
Saturday was my mom's birthday and we were up early to go downtown with her best friend. So I spent lots of time at the zoo (and eating at RJ Grunts!) with my mom and her best time for other shenanigans! I'd originally wanted to get my 1.2 mile swim (for Sunday) in, but the gym doesn't open that early ;)

So the zoo it was:
This was Mrs P's VERY FIRST selfie!!
Oh...and after I got home, super tired and lazy-feeling, I decided to go to my 10 year high school reunion. It was cool, and a good experience! So time well spent all around.

Sunday - tech swim 1.2 15 miles
Sunday was a big longest run to date (by far, since those two extra miles are quite a bit): 15 miles.

I slept in a bit, knowing that the extra rest would do me good, and then got to it around 8. My plan was to take Nigel with for 4-5 miles, loop back to my house to grab my camelbak and head back out, stopping to chat with my mom and grandparents at breakfast.

Well, Nigel had other plans. He was not going to be doing 4 miles with me, let alone 5. Around 2.25 he tried to make a hard left - which he knows is the way home. So I let him have it, and we turned to go back home, arriving right around 3.6. I let him in, made sure there was water, then headed back out.

A mile and a half later I was at Tony's in Crystal Lake, and sat and chatted with my mom and grandparents for a bit (they were taking her out for a birthday breakfast). After about 10 minutes (and a good amount of ice water) I was back pounding pavement.

The rest of this run taught me what 'Just Do It' means, and I spent a lot of time thinking about that little Nike Swoosh on my #TeamRMHC singlet. I also thought about how a 15 mile run isn't anywhere near as hard or as long as recovering from any of the ailments that make Ronald McDonald House a necessity. Maybe that sounds cheesy, but it's totally true.

For the first time in a long time I also listened to music while I ran, and it was quite enjoyable! I can't listen to music during my morning runs or when I take Nigel with me, I can't listen to it during bike rides or swims, so it was nice to break the usual trend and use some tunes to get things pumping.

It took me three hours. They weren't fast miles, but they were actually faster than normal, and they were all mine. I'm proud, no matter what the pace was. (For those salt stick every 30 minutes, two honey stinger gels during the first 10 miles, and two honey stinger chews per mile for the last five.)

Running 15 miles is a thing I can do!!!
And I used them all for the HRC Marathon from this summer (the Gryffindor 21k), and earned the last piece of this puzzle:

And this weekend there will be 16.

For now...that's it! I'm out. Til next time ;)


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Chicago Triathlon Training: Week Eight (marathon week 10)

I'm gonna make this as quick as possible so that I don't wind up falling behind with these updates...


Monday - rest
Monday was a well earned day off, and I took it!

Tuesday - weights
Honestly, without some more two-a-days I'm starting to feel a bit lazy! Last Tuesday I hit the gym for weights alone, and I hit it after work! Weird...double weird since I didn't have to get up early!

Last week I decided to work lower reps with higher weights. Honestly, without a spotter it's hard to really crank the weights up, but I did okay ;)

Wednesday - 7 miles
Another early run...7 miles in 1:27:36...before dawn!
My HR monitor didn't start when I did, so I stopped my watch after a mile to reset things (which worked).
These morning runs are no joke. I've been getting up at 3/3:15 to fit them in because of how hot it's been here. Lucky me, it's cooler at that time, but it is still very humid. My best guesstimate (since I didn't actually look) is that it was 70F, about 50% humidity, with a dew point of 65F. After 2 miles I took my shirt off to enjoy some miles without feeling like I was suffocating. I suppose it's worth it in the end though!

And then some compression sleeves and icing on my way to work:

Thursday - weights, test swim 1.3 1.5 OWS
I was determined to make it to Open Water Swim on Thursday, since there were only two left for the year. Around noon it started storming really badly where I work - the kind of storms where you look outside and can't actually see anything because the rain is so heavy. I thought for sure that OWS would be cancelled, but around 4:00pm the rain cleared and we got an all clear for swimming. When I got to Three Oaks the head guard said that they were watching the storm patterns carefully and all the life guards had radios in their kayaks - if any of them told us to swim in, we were to turn around and head directly to shore - do not finish your lap, do not pass go, etc ;)

With the threat of more storms I hopped in the water immediately and started my three laps. Half a mile takes me roughly 20 minutes to complete, and I had a vague idea in my head of finishing all three in under 60 minutes. In my head I divide this swim into three sections - the long swim "out" to the island (450 yards), the swim "in" to the trees (about 350 yards) and the "turn" (about 150 yards) - you can pretty clearly distinguish them on the map:
The swim out was decent, but right away I noticed the swim in and turn were choppy. I also noticed, however, that I am much better at breathing when I swim. I used to have to breathe every other stroke, but by this swim I was going four or five strokes before taking a breath - it's seriously amazing to see progress like that in just two months!

That said...the water was pretty warm and a lot of people decided not to wear wetsuits...but I was not one of those people. I put that thing on to get these miles done. It was definitely different swimming in warmer water with the wetsuit, but I didn't have any problems. Chicago will most likely be wetsuit legal (I couldn't find an example of the last time it wasn't), so it is actually important to me to get as much practice in my wetsuit as possible!

Anyways, long story short: I got my 1.5 miles in under 60 minutes!
I felt like I killed this swim. I managed the first two laps in about 39:16, and realized I could totally hit my 60 minute goal. So I swam that last lap. I pushed it, and I pushed it right when the wind picked up and the water got even rougher. The out, the in, the turn: choppy. Sucking in water through my mouth and nose as little waves hit my face when I turned to breathe. It was awesome. I just kept that 60 minute goal in my head. I wanted to be able to say I did it.

This swim was also cool because even though the skies were gray and stormy, it was fun to be out there swimming, to look up to sight bouys and realize: Triathletes are machines. All of these people out there, arms churning in the water, putting in our time! It's cool to be part of that group :D

Friday - weakest event, 4 miles weights, 3 miles
I didn't feel like getting up early on Friday, so I fit in my weights and run after work. The weights went fine...after that swim I really wanted to dedicate some good time to my back to balance out the efforts being expended.
The hyperextensions and decline pullovers will definitely be reappearing in my lifting routine!
After the lifts, I got on the treadmill.

You guys...those things were designed by Satan and I hate them. And my gym was extra humid so I sweat a lot. And I forgot my running shoes, so I had to use my Glycerins since that's all I had in my car.

I wasn't ready to give up the run entirely, but because I've had issues with the Glycerins causing foot/leg problems in the past, I decided that if I had any pain beyond a twinge I would stop running. Sure enough, between 1.25 and 1.5 there was impact pain. I slowed to a walk for half a mile, then picked back up. I got to three miles and called it quits. No run is worth reinjury!
And with that I was done, and ready to hang out with one of my best friends from college for the evening, which ended up being a blast. Thanks to early release on Fridays I feel like I'm able to fit in some semblance of a social life with training ;)

Saturday - test bike 60
I ended up having to do this ride on my trainer so I have no stats for you. I was really strapped for time...I was out late on Friday, and though up early I had a few dozen cookies to ice for my cousin's graduation party. Suffice it to say: I got on my trainer and rode that thing for 60 minutes. Woo. You can have a picture of the cookies instead of stats:
(She's going to Marquette for Nursing)
Sunday - 10 miles 13.1 Miles (SHE Power Half)
Sunday's run was kind of a big deal to me. It marked a milestone: My very first half marathon distance. (You'll recall that I didn't run my half last year for reasons beyond my control.) I feel like I've been thwarted for weeks with trying to complete a half (couldn't run, then got sick, then decided to build my mileage a little slower to prevent injury), so I was glad to finally make it happen. I was also motivated knowing that my cousin Sarah would be running the San Francisco half - her first as well - the same day! It was fun and exciting to know that we were both embarking on this feat at nearly the same time, 2,100 miles away from each other!

I admit, I woke up later than intended (and therefore got running later than planned) on Sunday. But at 8:00 am I went out in my TeamRMHC singlet and did those miles. I did the first three (point two-five) with Nigel and a hand held water bottle, then took him home and grabbed my Camelbak for the rest. It was hot and humid and I was drenched in sweat by the end (my hat was literally dripping), but I had a smile on my face (and sore knees) when I finished.
I used this 13.1 to earn all the gear from the SHE Power Half I should have completed a month ago. A nice shirt and tank top, and this HUGE and heavy medal:
I'll have to find a use for that keychain...and a rack for the medal!
It's so crazy to know I just hit this distance...and now I'm going to keep running further distances. I feel like normally people take a little break between runs like this! But this is the first of many half distances (+) before which point I will run a full marathon! How crazy to think about all of that!

Anyways...I was tired and sore afterwards, but it was a very positive end to the week for me, and I needed that.

With that, I leave you. I'll try to be better about my next post and get it up in a more timely manner (because I know none of you could live without knowing about my workouts each week...)