Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising: 13 weeks out

This was a very weird training week because I wanted to go hiking with Andrew on Saturday, and that basically required cramming all of my training into 6 days (5 of which were work days). It was a true test of my scheduling puzzle solving, but I made it work. AND we made it up to New Hampshire for the first time this summer!

Monday - Recovery run Mondays are the new thing. 6 miles very easy. Slowest recovery run (aka....most appropriate recovery run) I've done in quite some time and it was lovely. Legs felt better afterwards than before, which is always a good sign.

Tuesday - A kind of lazy 90 minute ride (commute included) in the morning...yes I'm describing an hour and a half of biking before work as "lazy", what is wrong with me. But I took the path of least resistance loop near my house (minimal hills) and then also rode it kind of slow. Whatever, I keep reminding myself that more riding is more riding.

Ran 2 miles with a patient (yay!) at work, then did an unintentional 5 mile progression from 7:30 down to 7:05 when my legs decided to show up after work. Then rode home.

Wednesday - By far the weirdest thing of the week: A LONG RUN BEFORE WORK ON A WEDNESDAY? I'm sorry did we enter an alternate universe? Now, granted, I currently have the luxury of not having a commute most days of the week which buys me an extra hour, and my current long run is only 12 miles. BUT STILL. This was really new territory for me. I decided randomly to go to the Charles (I honestly don't love running there that much strangely) and it was a really nice morning. Definitely am learning that when I run in the morning in the summer, I start the run super dehydrated, then start drinking from my bottle (because I carry water now, like an adult/not idiot), and by mile 4-5 I start to feel pretty good. I tuckered out at the end of this run but it was decent overall. 12 miles.

Thursday - The most lovely 45 minute morning open water swim. Discovering that there's a lake near my house that's appropriate for OWS has been a dream come true, and it was even more beautiful when it looked like glass at 6 am. Rode there and back on Andrew's bike for a negligible number of miles. Had thought about running in the afternoon but it was very hot and I had a lot of work to catch up on, so skipped it.

Friday - I was SO over the work week by this point and it was hot again, so I was kind of dreading my afternoon ride. I also literally wrote in this post that I skipped my morning run...which...I did not! Clearly it was a super memorable 6 miler lol.  But then my former work pal/triathlon/run buddy texted asking if I was riding and suddenly the prospect seemed SO much more exciting! Things are still very slowly opening up "post" COVID so this was only like the 2nd group fitness activity I've done in months and the first time I'd seen this friend since March. We were originally going to ride some hills but the road was blocked due to construction, so we took it as a sign and just had a leisurely and chatty ride around my most favorite Mystic Lakes loop. Then we went swimming! Just a quick 1400 yd; I was pretty pleased to be swimming the same pace as I did the day before (this time without a wetsuit). Easy bike home. Good day.

Saturday - HIKING! A great day up in the mountains hiking our "home" mountain Potash (we hike it every year because it's truly one of the most wonderful little hikes you can imagine), some driving on dirt roads through a thunderstorm, and then a second summit on Mt. Israel. 8 miles total hiking and 3200 ft of elevation is not a bad day at all in my book. Also it was HOT. Beers and our first outdoor dining experience of the year/first time dining out since early March followed. Pretty much a perfect day.

Sunday - A 70 mile ride in 90 degree weather, AS YOU DO! To be completely honest I was dreading this. I woke up feeling dehydrated, sore, and just awfully uninterested in spending 4 hours on my bike in the blazing sun. But I got myself out there (which is somehow a LOT easier to do with riding than running...not sure what that says about running haha) and told myself I could ride easy. I ended up with one of my faster rides of the year so far! Nutrition/hydration were definitely challenging and something I'm still working out on the bike. The first half of the ride my stomach felt really off and the idea of eating anything was really uninteresting, so in the end I only ended up eating 2 sleeves of Clif chomps over the course of the ride which I feel is...probably not enough. But I was able to make a pit stop at a Walgreens and drank the GREATEST seltzer of my life at halfway as well as refill my bottles, and I think that got me over the hump. I somehow talked myself into actually doing a 25 minute run off the bike also was 90...this really shows how committed I am to this triathlon thing...but it was fine. Legs actually felt much better following this ride than they did after last week, and I felt much stronger on hills. Progress, progress!

So not counting hiking, this was a 14 hour training week! And I'll tell ya, it does NOT feel like it. I remember this from last summer and I'll say it again: for whatever reason, triathlon training doesn't feel like work to me, it honestly just feels like fun. Not every single moment, obviously, but like even when I'm doing a stupid run in disgusting humidity it just feels...more fun. Riding and swimming ALWAYS feel fun. Maybe someday when I actually try to get faster vs. complete the distance, it won't...but I kind of doubt that. I LOVE this sport, with all of it's silliness and intricacies and need to maneuver your schedule 19 different ways before you find a way to fit everything in. I love it. And that's why I'll keep training for it even if I don't know what's to come as far as actual races are concerned.

BUT, speaking of that, I am doing something fun/silly this weekend: I'm doing my own personal half ironman! I was supposed to be racing one this weekend up in NH but obviously that wasn't meant to be, so I decided it would be fun to do one of my own. How often do you get to race on your home course/a course you choose (...never?). I am absolutely not viewing this as a race in any true sense but just as a good opportunity to tackle a long training day and work on my nutrition a little bit. I did sign up for a virtual race because I wanted to support a local race management/triathlon company (and honestly I kind of wanted the swag?) but that was more as a gesture since I was planning on doing the thing anyway. I've actually had way too much fun coming up with my course and I'd like to imagine any race director would be I present to you, Ironman 70.3 - Mystic Lakes! (I am such a nerd)
Race date: 6/27/20
Race start time: 6 am
Number of participants: This is a super elite race open to only ONE participant. Spectators welcome.

Swim course - You'll complete a 1.2 mile swim in scenic Upper Mystic Lake. Sight the large mansions on the western shore and keep an eye out for the bald eagles which have been known to nest and hunt near the lake. You may even spot a friendly duck or two! The swim is an out and back course beginning at the Medford Boat Club ramp consisting of 2 diagonal legs with a turnaround at Sandy Beach.

Bike course - The bike course begins with a clockwise loop of both Upper and Lower Mystic Lake before heading out in a lollipop fashion on the historic Minuteman Bikeway. Get a taste of Revolutionary history as you ride past the Old Schwamb Mill, Lexington Green, and other historic New England sights...wave hello to the horses as you pass! After 6 miles on the path, you will exit into Bedford and embark on a scenic loop through Carlisle and Concord, featuring rolling hills, scenic pastures, and historic downtown Concord. You'll return to the bike path for approximately 4 miles before completing a short jaunt through Lexington countryside and return to the Mystic loop. Complete another 2 loops of the lake, finishing with a final sprint through a rotary and back to the boathouse to complete the bike.

Run course - This 13.1 mile course is a two loop course that includes every runner's dream word: flat. Run primarily on quiet bike paths and side streets, this course skirts the scenic Mystic Valley Parkway and features sights such as Spy Pond, Arlington town center, and the Alewife MBTA station. There will be an aid station at mile 4.5 and 9.5 of the course featuring Gu and Gatorade as well as cheers from a friendly local puppy.

Finish celebration - each participant will be presented with all you can drink beer as well as homemade ice cream.  Awards will be given to the first and last athlete to cross the finish line as well as the athlete who sings the most amusing songs while on the bike.

Sponsors: most local breweries in the greater Boston area, Whipple Hill alpaca farm, Topper the Dog

So...I'll be sure to let everyone know how THAT goes!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

IMWI: 14 weeks out

I'm still dreaming, damnit. Here's my belated training post from last week.

Highlights from this week: A long run AND a ride WITH FRIENDS!

Monday: 6.1 miles easy AM. I definitely forgot how triathlon FORCES you to take your easy days easy. But it's actually great! Also, this was the first day of the rest of my life, aka the day I decided to become a morning exerciser.

Tuesday: 80 min bike (22 miles) AM - about an hour ride + my commute; bike commute home PM (6 miles). Tuesdays are the only day I'm going into the clinic at the moment and bike commuting is the best in the summer anyway, so my new Tuesday thing is riding for an hour (eventually more), stopping home and grabbing my backpack, and then riding to work. It's great! I rode up a nasty hill near my house for the 3rd time in a week which is just silly, then took a relatively easy route home. I also ran a mile with a patient at around 9 minute pace during the day because I am lucky enough to have a return to running patient right now...THE BEST!

Wednesday: 7.1 miles running AM with a little fartlek workout (8 x 1 min on/1 min off). In an extremely odd turn of events I decided randomly during this run to do a urge I have not felt in MONTHS and an urge I don't think I have ever felt at 7 am. I am truly becoming a new person! Didn't keep track of actual pace but looks like the on segments were around 5K pace. Also did this on a relatively busy pond loop so had to keep my buff up pretty much the entire time (that is still a thing here in MA) which definitely upped the challenge.

Thursday: 90 minute bike AM including hill reps with a friend from my Reach the Beach team! He is a pretty hardcore triathlete and has been given me a lot of advice over the past couple of months. I had commented on a Strava workout he had done on this absurd hill which I've somehow never encountered even though it's like 2 miles from my thing you know we were arranging to ride it together the next morning, lol. As my Grammy would have said, this hill is "something else again". It climbs 313 ft in under a mile! Probably should have found this while I was training for Mount Washington but glad I know it exists now. Actually the descent was sort of worse than the ascent...scary bombing down a 10% grade into an intersection. Then we went out on the bike path and John attempted to teach me how to be a part of a group ride. I was pretty pleased that he felt like I could probably hang with the group he usually rides with - all very experience triathletes!

Friday: Split 7 mile run PM with a swim in the middle - ran not quite 5 miles to take the long way to my local lake, swam 2000 yds, then ran 2 miles home. The swim was kind of trash - it was hot so I didn't wear a wetsuit which = slow swim to begin with. There was also a pretty significant wind which was blowing waves into my face the entire way back AND I apparently didn't tighten the nozzle on my swim buoy enough because it was filling up with water. Very very slow. But I just find swimming so great that I didn't even care!

Saturday: 11 mile long run on Prudence Island with FRIENDS!!!! New England is slowly reopening with a lot of precautions in place (masks, etc) but we are now at the point where going for a run outdoors with 3 or 4 people seems like an OK idea. This was the 3rd year a few of my teammates and I have made a trip to this lovely island off the coast of Rhode Island, where we do a 10-12 mile long run on the beautiful and quiet dirt roads before we take the ferry back to the mainland. Last year at this run I remember I was just figuring out how biking impacted my running and I felt TERRIBLE. My legs were much more cooperative this year, and we were also lucky enough to have absolutely spectacular weather for June - low 60s with low humidity. We also went to brunch outdoors afterward (my first time at a restaurant since early MARCH) and what a delight. Never thought I would be so overjoyed about a pitcher of sangria and just shooting the breeze with some friends in the sunshine after a long run.

Sunday: LOL the silliest day ever. I somehow got talked into being a part of this virtual 26 x 1 mile relay that my club was doing on Friday night. Never mind the fact that I haven't done speedwork in like...forever...and I'm biking 100+ miles a week...I'm in? So I ran a flat out mile on the bike path near my house and a) managed a sub-6 (5:58) which b) is actually a road mile PR because I've never broken 6 on the roads before! LMAO! It was also extremely, extremely hard. I don't want to know what random passersby were thinking of me. But I achieved, and with that done, I did what anyone woudl naturally do which was to go home, change shoes, and head out for a 75 mile ride! This was my longest ride ever by nearly an hour and quite honestly I was a little nervous about it but it turned out extremely well. I still have a lot of work to do on the nutrition/hydration front but I managed almost 4.5 hours on the bike, by myself, without anything dramatic happening or feeling upset that I was on my bike at all. It was pretty great! The thought of running a marathon following that + another 2 hours is completely terrifying, but hey! That's what the next 3 months are for, right? I hope so...

Totals: 36.5 miles running, 120.4 miles riding, 2000 yd swimming. Total training time 13 hours!

Definitely started finding the groove with how to schedule and manage workouts this week. Doing shit before work makes SUCH a difference....this is seriously going to change my life (yes, I hear you all you morning runners being like well DUH). I also forced myself to stick to my plan this week (with the exception of the surprise mile time trial lol) and that definitely helped things go more smoothly. I felt like I recovered much better this week and never felt too beat up, which was a positive!

Goals for the upcoming/in progress week:
- work on long ride nutrition
- get a second swim in
- fit all of my training into 6 days so that I can go hiking on Saturday!

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Maybe (?) Ironman Training: 100 days out

I bought myself a fancy pen and paper training log this year to help me plan and organize my #Ironman2020 campaign. It actually seems really stupid that this was the ONE year I actually purchased a log, because as we all know, nothing in 2020 has gone as planned. Several months ago, I went into my log and counted backwards from 9/13/20, to 100 days out from Ironman Wisconsin. That 100 days out day was last Friday. Currently, there is only one race on my calendar that has NOT yet been cancelled, and that race is Ironman Wisconsin. Now, for the past month or so, I've started vaguely shifting to a more triathlon-oriented training format while basically reminding myself that the race probably is not going to happen. I mean, can you imagine a race with thousands of people occurring14 weeks from now? It's hard to picture. But in the last couple of weeks I've tried to reorient myself and more think about it in terms of: but what if it does?

So, because one of my favorite things to do is read race reports and blogs of people who've been there before me, I'm adding myself to the choir of "Ironman training blogs". Sure, blogging like this is probably at least 5 years out of fashion, but hey! I figure if the race doesn't happen I'll at least have this to look back on as a grand experiment of what worked and what didn't. Apparently we should know 50 days out from the race if it's on or not, so that's almost 2 months to keep training as if the thing is going to happen. In the meantime, I have two nice built in process goals: build up to a century bike ride, and build up to a full Iron distance swim. Now, it should be said that I have no idea what I'm doing. I know pretty much nothing about bikes. I ride a road bike which is already a disadvantage, and I learned recently that there are aspects of my bike itself that are even more a disadvantage ("you only have 9 gears?" the bike repair guy asked, somewhat puzzled). I still need to learn to change a flat tire. I don't know anything about power meters or watts. But honestly, THAT is the thing that has drawn me to biking over these past few months: I know nothing about it other than how it feels and my perceived effort. I forgot how fun it was to remove data from the equation!  I also apparently am still running way too much and not biking enough. Maybe that will change as the weeks go on. But for now, this is what I'm doing, and I'm having fun doing it!

My general framework that I'm aiming for these days is 3 days biking (probably should be 4, but I'm clinging to my extra day of running right now), 2 days swimming, and 5 days biking. So obviously, some of those days need to be doubles. I'm still learning and working out how to best schedule everything around my normal 8:30-5 job and attempting to be a decent wife and participating in dinner once in awhile, and getting enough sleep, and on and on. So to be honest, last week wasn't amazing! But I learned from in and we continue onward.

Week of 6/1/20 (15 weeks out from theoretical Ironman)

Monday - 5 miles recovery after work (8:16). I did my longest bike ride ever on Sunday and my legs were TRASHED. I forgot how triathlon demands that recovery runs actually be recovery runs! It's almost like that makes sense lol. Sort of squeezed this in between work and cooking dinner and Zoom dance rehearsal and it didn't work out great.

Tuesday - Bike commute to/from work, 11 miles total. Total fail of a day. I had meant to run in the morning, then changed my mind and decided to run after work near the office (I've currently been going into the clinic 1x/week on Tuesdays). It should NOT have surprised me that I ended up working until after 6 and then had no desire or time to run afterward. Rode home, chalked the day up as a loss, and ended up continuing to do paperwork until almost 10 pm. Ugh.

Wednesday - Run, 6.2 miles moderate after work (7:49). Again, this was an example of what happens when I go off script and start messing with my plan. I had planned to bike, but then discovered it was Global Running Day + wanted to make up for the previous day's missed run, so I ran, and I felt AWFUL. Should have just stuck to the plan.

Thursday - Run, 7.1 miles easy-ish before work (8:01). Another pretty terrible run! I really think it took until almost the end of the week for me to recover from the weekend prior which featured a hilly long run and the previously mentioned long ride. It was also super muggy which has never been my jam.  The day was redeemed somewhat by a quality open water swim after work in Mystic Lake. 1.1 miles at a reasonable pace; I still don't know how to sight for shit and was too scared to swim the path I wanted because there were sailboats in the way, but it felt great! Also biked to/from the lake (7 miles total). Dealing with open water swimming without a car is sort of a production but it's the life I live.

Friday - Bike, 25.8 miles after work (16.5 mph). Tackled a hill that I accidentally ran up one time in the distant past and had sworn off ever since. It was just about as bad as I remembered! This 25 miler is kind of my standard short hills route; 1600 ft over 25 miles is nothing to scoff at. Pretty warm. I had planned to run either in the morning or after the bike and I did neither (not sticking to my plan was sort of a theme this week)

Saturday - Run, 12.1 miles (plus an extra mile later on, 8:01 pace) Turning over a new leaf in life, I got up BY MYSELF at 5:30 in the morning to drive to Concord to run. I actually got there TOO EARLY for the Walden parking lot which I found kind of ironic, but it worked out OK. Despite absolutely disgusting humidity with a dewpoint of 71 this was actually a pretty enjoyable run! I checked out a trail that I hadn't run in awhile and it was just great - packed dirt and pretty flat, with a side trip to a trail on a gorgeous marsh where I saw a muskrat AND a frog. I was definitely struggling with the humidity in the last couple of miles but I got some solid payoff - stopped at the car, grabbed my swim buoy, and ran up to Walden for the first non wetsuit OWS of the season. And let me tell you....diving into 70 degree water after a muggy run just might be the best thing EVER. The swim was super slow and leisurely but that was fine. Ran back to the car and got home just in time to return the Zipcar.

Sunday - Bike, 63 miles (16.8 mph, which seems to be my go-to bike pace). I was absolutely not feeling this ride in ANY way at the beginning and made some dumb errors that didn't help (dropping nutrition, navigational errors, overdressing). But somehow everything worked itself out and by hour 2 or 3 of the ride I was happy as could be. I still haven't quite figured out why I can manage to spend 4 hours on a bike without complaint and it feels like it goes by so quickly, but that's what's been happening lately. This was also a very hilly ride with some strategically placed hills that I hate so my legs were pretty donezo by the time I got home. Somehow still convinced myself to go out for a run off the bike (4 miles @ 7:34) which turned out to be my fastest and best feeling run of the week! Because my legs are idiots, apparently.

Totals: 4hours 52 minutes running (36.8 miles), 6 hrs 37 minutes biking (108.9 miles), 1 hr 11 minutes swimming (2 miles), 12 hours 32 minutes total training time.
Elevation: 1027 ft running, 4065 ft cycling

Lessons learned this week:
- STICK TO THE DAMN PLAN. Every missed workout or bad workout this week was directly related to me making a change or skipping something and then trying to work it in later.
-Related to the above, if you skip a workout, it's like keys in hot lava: it's gone, man. There's really no room to be "making up" workouts when there's barely enough time in the first place.
-Getting up early in the morning will help with A and B

Things to work on in the coming week:
-Do shit before work/in the morning
-Keep experimenting with gearing and fueling on the bike
-Don't get mad at your legs when they don't want to run fast. They are tired and that's not what you're training them for right now, after all :)