Friday, August 30, 2013

The universe doesn't want me to swim...

They say the hay is in the barn at this point, which is both good and bad in terms of my swim training. The bad- not very much hay in my barn. The good- nothing(?) to lose by missing more training. And I'm blaming the universe for that fact. Last night I tried to swim. I took the train up to Evanston, about to change in the locker room, and find that my swim suit hadn't made it in my bag. I briefly considered skinny dipping, but I like that pool and would like to be welcome back. Ok, so maybe that isn't the universe, but obviously not meant to be.

Today I can blame on the universe. I went to do an open water swim at Ohio Street Beach. The water was warm so I was skipping the wetsuit. The swim was going well besides the major boredom factor I've been having this year with OWS. I was having the mental battle of if I was going to do the full 1 hr 30 min I had planned. The funny thing is I don't feel fatigued while swimming, I just feel done (after about 10 minutes). The lack of fatigue actually concerns me- am I not pushing hard at all? Is my form all gone to hell and I'm just flapping around?

I was finally getting in a groove and swinging more on the "I can do the whole time" factor when I heard a lifeguard yelling. I finally stopped and pulled my swim cap up so I could hear. He was yelling that I needed to get out at the ladder because of lightening. Huh. I had been oblivious. You mean it was actually getting dark out and it wasn't just my tinted goggles? I had been wondering where the boats were disappearing to...

Of course this happened when I was at the far end, at least a third of a mile from the beach where my things were. I sprinted to the ladder out of fear for lightening. I must have looked like quite the sight walking back to the beach. I kept my goggles on since I can actually see in them. Thankfully there was no glass on the path, and I made it safely back, though completely soaked, to my office.

Well, a 52:32 swim is better than nothing. I'm not sure of my swim goal/expectation. Based on my approx 41 min swim at Door County last year, I was planning about 1:30, but my swim shape is, of course, lacking. I also know I will have to contend with a ton of contact and expect to end up swimming a fair amount further than 2.4 miles.  Then again, I know a wetsuit can help swim times (did have one in Door County too though, just compared to swims this year) and drafting can be a great help. I also have my prescription goggles this year which should help sighting. I think it is realistic to be out of the water by 1:45. I am just worried about the psychological toll.

I won't do the full distance before race day. I am trying to calm myself by knowing it is ok to not do the whole bike and whole run, so of course I don't need to do the whole swim. I am drawing on how it is all mental- when I went to my first master's practice this year I was able to swim for an entire hour after practically no swimming in months. With the race day adrenaline I will definitely be able to get through the swim.

On deck for tomorrow is my last long bike- 2.5 hrs. It's funny, for some reason that sounds long, even though it is way shorter than my recent bike rides have been. Can't believe in a week I'll be in Madison!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I know it's the taper talking... (or maybe not)

Even the title of this post is showing my ups and downs- ahh taper madness.  I know rationally that this is normal and that I am ready, but then the next second I am doubting it and thinking my fears are grounded and not just taper madness related. At least the spontaneous crying hasn't started yet.

I keep googling "minimal Ironman training" looking for stories of people who skipped more workouts than me and did just fine.  And those stories exist. I also know there are people who train like pros and are more than ready and something happens on the day and they never finish.  In many ways it is a crap shoot.

I just wish I could look back on my training logs and have the hard proof that I'll be fine.  Unfortunately I look back on a lot of holes.  Missed workouts all offseason, loosing my run base. Basically non-existent swim training. Off and on consistency with the bike.  Yes, I have gotten better recently, but still a fair amount of missed workouts.  On the other hand, I can put on my logical hat, and see the long rides and runs, the cornerstone of long course training.  I keep playing with pace calculators and seeing just how easily I'll make the cutoffs.  But then the "what if's" start.

My main fear is definitely the swim, and probably my most logical one as well.  My swim training has been poor. No excuses. I think 3300 is the longest I've done in the pool.  At this point I'm not sure whether a marathon session would be good for the confidence or just not worth it. I know I will be able to finish and not drown, but how much will it take out of me? Mental energy? Physical fatigue? How close to the cutoff? How will I play mind games with myself on the swim when my mind is full of doubt?

I am also in that "bargaining" phase. Just let me get through this one and I'll do better next time. I'll do it right. I'll train hard. Religiously.  I'll be ready.

In all honesty, I'm not sure how happy I'll be with "just finishing."  Not that that is not a huge accomplishment, but I feel I am or should be better than that.  I did a 5:33 HIM on my first attempt. Doesn't that translate to a 12 hr-ish Ironman (hah!)? I don't want to be back of the pack.  I don't want to be back of the middle of the pack. I will be ok with middle of the pack, but to be honest, I'm wanting front of the middle of the pack :-). But I also know that has to be earned, and if we're being honest, I haven't earned it this year.

At the EN Camp, Coach Rich said something I am trying to keep remembering- to everyone supporting you, all that matters is that you are having fun and are safe.  I know my mom will be proud of me no matter what.  Everyone else probably won't really care either. But man, I've already felt that I've let people down this year, I want some good news to share.

And to think- I'm only a few days into the taper. Bring on the crazy!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Final Race Rehearsal

I was expecting a pretty good ride based on a lower intensity week. Taking the day off last Sunday was a good call- let me get a bit rested. Long run was only 12ish miles, so that was a decent cut back from >16. At the beginning of the week I was definitely catching up on a lot of sleep, but towards the end of the week I had some more 6-6.5 hr nights. MUST FIX THIS NOW!  Eating has also been up and down, with some big bad habits the past few days. ALSO MUST FIX THIS NOW. So moral of the story, sleep lots and eat good quality stuff the next two weeks. 

I ended up taking Friday off workouts due to work and wanting to get out of town. I didn’t do anything special in terms of carbo loading, though I’ve had enough carbs due to the excess crap I’ve been eating.

On the way out to Madison I was stopping by Get a Grip Cycles to get my 11-28 cassette installed. I had meant to do this a few weeks ago, but I’m a procrastinator, and really, who needs more gears when riding in Chicago. I had called them and they had ordered it for me. The problem was that they had asked me how many speeds my bike was, and I had said 10. Huh, turns out Baby Beluga is a 9-speeder. Who knew…  Well, the cassette wasn’t the right one obviously and they didn’t have any in stock for me. The bad news- I had to ride the course this weekend without the extra gears and I won’t get to practice on course with them.  The good news- I can actually get an 11-30 cassette- even more gears! Yay for less grinding up Old Sauk, Timberlane, Midtown, and let’s not forget that last bitch of a hill, Whalen.   I also picked up a aerobottle. Jury is still out on if I’ll race with it, but good for training when the gas stations are few and far between in the farmlands of Wisconsin.

Anyways, got up to Madison around 8pm. I stayed at the same hotel we had the EN Camp at- Clarion Suites at the Alliant Energy Center. Relatively cheap, has microwave/fridge, and right on the bike course, though cuts out the first/last 3ish miles.  Stayed up too late watching “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and installing my aerobottle. Also spent considerable time fretting over how I was sure I was going to get a flat due to some knicks in my tires. I plan to put new tires on this week.

Woke up at 6am on Saturday.  Breakfast was a cup of minute rice, a 6oz container vanilla yogurt, and a banana. This is the plan for race day, though a bit more yogurt and also sports drink and a gel leading up to gun time.

I had the aerobottle and two bottles full of 3 scoops Perform each.  Trying new things I also tried out my tri shorts with globs of Chamois Butt’r.  I also tried no socks in my cycling shoes, though my feet were thoroughy coated in body glide. The main reason behind this was I am hoping to make no porta-potty stops, and don’t want to be Miss Pissy Socks for 112 miles. I packed socks with me just in case. I wore my cycling jersey instead of tri top since I need to carry lots of stuff on training rides.

The ride started out being splashed in the face by my aerobottle, getting myself and Baby Beluga covered in lovely sticky Perform. Here’s to hoping no bees can keep up with us! Apparently that yellow spongy thing should be in there to prevent splashing- live and learn! I also got jabbed in the face by the straw (need to trim it) and learned I have very poor oral-motor skills. Yes, drinking from a straw and riding are too hard for me to do. I found that if I bite down on the straw while sucking I have more control. The aerobottle definitely didn’t make nutrition as easy as I was expecting.

I was distracted by my drinking issues (only time you can only accuse me of having a drinking problem), and not watching my watts. I was up in the 130s most of the first half hour of more- no bueno! I bumped into two of my EN teammates and we leap frogged along, sometimes sharing a gallon of water at the coveted gas stations. It was nice to have some company that I knew a bit better than the other random people out there- felt a little reassured someone would have my back if I had a mechanical. We also had to do a slight detour at the beginning of the loop due to an IronKids race, so it was good to have people who knew where they were going.

Anyways, just rode along, keeping an eye on my watts but I’ll admit I was more observing than controlling. Very seldom did I think about backing off, I was just kind of going for it. Lesson learned (see later in this report…).  I felt like I have gained familiarity with the course now, which is incredibly powerful mentally and physically.  I hate that long stretch going into Mt Horeb, but really like that first climb up to Mt Horeb and that whole section after that.  And honestly, even those climbs in Verona don’t seem as bad now that I know they are coming. The great thing is they don’t last long.

A couple hours in it started getting really hot. Like feeling you skin baking hot. I think it was upper 80s at the highest, but the sun was bright! I hope September 8 is much cooler!  The good thing about the heat was it made it easier to drink lots, and since my nutrition is all liquid, that is necessary.  I am scared that if race day is cooler, it will be harder to keep up on nutrition.

In terms of nutrition, I was shooting for 24 oz of Perform an hour, supplementing with powergel or powerbars as needed.  I ended up adding in 2 gu’s and a powerbar. Never felt full, never felt hungry except for when I was really craving that powerbar and decided to go for it.  I’m not sure exactly how much Perform I took in, but I think I was close to the goal.  I will keep this plan for the big day.  I know many have more of a plan then “take gels and bars as I feel like it” but with my lovely stomach, I think I better listen to it.  My whole take on IM nutrition really changed after the camp. Coach Rich reported that people rarely report bonking on an IM due to lack of nutrition, but there are tons of stories of people eating too much and having their gut shut down and suffering a horrible day.  With all the aid stations, if you need something, you are never far from getting it and correcting any oncoming bonk. I also learned at camp that 4 powerbars does not a happy tummy make.

I was really hoping to master peeing on the bike. Thanks Mom, you potty-trained me too well.  I just couldn’t do it.  And there were times I had to go bad. Grr! I stopped and peed 3 times, but really had to go a 4th as well.  This would be a lot of wasted time on race day. Maybe race day will see me master the bike and pee?  However, due to my difficulty drinking from a straw and biking, my multitasking skills leave something to be desired.  I will not crash while peeing.  I will not crash while peeing. I will not crash while peeing. Still, I did find that my bike shoes without socks worked just fine- no issues, and no numbness either. Maybe the extra room helped?

I didn’t really hit any low points, mentally or physically.  Towards the end I was just ready to be done. Not super exhausted or hurting or anything, just sick of biking.  I think on race day there will be enough excitement to help counter this, though I’m sure I’ll be thrilled to hand the bike over to a volunteer in T2.  I really didn’t have much back pain either- a bit more of neck soreness.  I was in aero position more than I’ve been in previous rides, so that was good as well. I was also worried about tri-shorts with the smaller chamois, but I didn’t have any more discomfort than usual.  At about halfway, I applied more chamois cream, which was heavenly.  One thing bothered me was the seam on the shorts by the chamois, but not too bad. Yay for things coming together!

Loop courses are interesting. At the end of the first loop, it’s a bit daunting to be like “I have to do that whole thing again”. It is somewhat of a defeat to start that second loop, but you also know what is coming.  And that feeling of turning onto Whalen after the loop is like coming home. Of course there is that friendly hill on Whalen to get you, but then it is a net downhill.  At Coach Rich’s suggestion, I will make sure to save the energy to benefit from easy speed on this section, as many people are toast at this point. The one thing was that towards the end Baby Beluga was squeeking when I was shifting. More lube? Too much sticky Perform spilled all over? That has never happened before. I am going to do a full tune up when I get the cassette changed out. 

I came off the bike and took a few minutes to get organized with my rental car as T2. I took a bottle of Perform in my handheld bottle and headed off, wearing a tech t-shirt and my tri shorts.  Didn’t have my calf sleeves and didn’t have anywhere to strip down to change to running shorts, but I think I do want to change shorts for the real deal.

The first half-mile was tough. I didn’t feel like I had my running legs at all and it was HOT, but Garmin was reporting 8:30-8:45 pace. I kept telling myself to back off, but I felt good in a weird way.  It seemed more mental, I just was ready to be done. I was picking small landmarks to check off as I ran by, and trying to avoid looking at my watch constantly.  At mile 2.5 physical fatigue was definitely setting in.  I was thirsty due to the heat but was sick of the sweetness and taste of Perform. A water fountain at mile 3.25ish was a godsend. I also peed once at mile 3. I liked doing an out and back run because it made it easy to be “just get to here” and “heading home” to make it more bearable.

No stomach upsets but I am worried about how my nutrition would extend to the full thing.  I don’t think I’ll be able to stomach Perform all day long.  I think I will take some salt pills for the run, since I think I’ll be doing water, coke, and gu.

The second half was tiring. I was done. I think the heat is partly to blame, but for my first race rehearsal, stomach problems aside, my body felt great running.  Definitely an over-effort on the bike today. I started walking the 30 steps a mile at mile 3, and that was good mentally and physically.  Towards the end I was mostly feeling defeated.  I couldn’t imaging running 20 more miles.  Taper magic?  However, all in all, it was done in 54 minutes- 9 min/mile!

I got back in the car and blared the AC, call mom to brag, and mixed up some Endurox, which has never tasted more disgusting. And then the 4th discipline- the 3 hr drive home!

Watts are there to be controlled, not observed. I think I did less controlling since I realized on my previous attempts that due to the course and my low FTP, I will have no choice at times but to spike my power above where I would like it. However, there is still a lot of time to control it. And I didn’t…  My average watts came out to 124, NP of 135.  This is only 2 watts higher than before, but I need to be more conservative. More watts does not mean more speed either, or at least nothing meaningful.  I went 16 mph average today, my first try at the course was 2 watts higher and only 15 mph.  It is about riding smart- getting the speed for free when you can.  I believe at worse I will ride about 15 mph, at best no more than 16 mph, this is really a small difference in time when I think about what it could do to my marathon.  Definitely learned to be more conservative on the bike!

IT IS TAPER TIME! Hallelujah! Here’s the plan:
-       No overachieving in taper
-       Lots of sleep
-       GOOD EATING!
-       Get bike tuned up
-       Get ready to rock it September 8!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Last Long Run- DONE!

I love the fact that not many people can say 'Oh, I went out and ran 20 miles today.' I love how much dedication it takes and how much you learn a lot about yourself, your physical and mental limits. There's just something about it.   - Shalane Flanagan

Last night was my last double digit run for IMWI training. As my plan prescribes running for time, I went out for my 105 minute run. As luck (a better term for bad planning) would have it, my Garmin was completely out of battery, so I really just ran for time. This morning I clicked away at mapmyrun and found I ran 11.8 miles, for just under a 9 min/mile pace.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m on the Endurance Nation bandwagon, but I will freely admit that long runs are one of the times I just ignore the prescribed workout and do the time at whatever relaxed pace feels right. I love long runs- they are probably my favorite part of this sport. I’d say the main reason is that they just make me feel badass. Something about being able to knock off a 17 miles run like its no big deal (or well, it is, and your legs tell you it is, but you did it anyway). There is no feeling like going to work at 8am with compression socks on and knowing you already ran a half marathon. I know long rides have a similar badass-ness to them, but to me they just don’t feel the same.

So why do I ignore the prescribed workouts? I feel that long runs take a certain zen aspect. As most people have found, when you run 30 minutes on a treadmill, if you stare at the screen, it will seem like time stands still.  When I’m running long, I want to avoid looking at my watch and allow my mind to wander. Of course this only pseudo works, as I always run on the lakefront and know where every mile is and my approximate time, and still look at my watch a fair amount. Something about having to hit intervals takes the fun and freedom out of it. My time ends up being typically around 9 min/miles, which is faster than my Z1 pace but slower than my Z2 pace.  I feel it is an optimistic yet realistic approach for my Ironman (well, more on the optimistic side of that).

Last night’s run went by pretty quickly.  After two weeks of 2.5 hr runs, taking 45 minutes off it makes it seem like child’s play. I felt pretty effortless the whole time.  I had some stomach problems, the cost of eating like crap recently, but I embraced them. I told myself that come race day, the chances of my stomach feeling calm are about 0%, so I want the experience of “look, I can run with my stomach sloching, cramping, etc”. The true sign of just how badly I’ve been (over)eating is that I went the whole time with no gels.  I guess I had some carbs stored up. 

The best news was that my shins survived! After a scare of repeat shin pain on Monday, I was quite worried. I wore compression sleeves and had some mild soreness at first, but then nada. With the taper increasing, I think that I’ll prevent it from becoming an issue.

I’m going back and forth on how bad I think the marathon in the IM will be.  I think I am na├»ve to think it will be “good” or “not too bad”. When I think about marathons I’ve done, the key leading up to them was rest, rest, rest.  As a marathon training pace leader, I use to tell my group to go to the expo on Friday so they would be off their feet on Saturday.  I am next to positive that swimming 2.4 miles and then biking 112 is much, much, much more taxing than walking around an expo. I have in general run well off the bike.  My run times for half-ironman have been pretty good. But a marathon is different.  They say the line will come and it will suck. Hopefully you push the line off as far as possible, and you know you are in trouble if you meet the line at mile 10. I think the best approach I’ve heard is to think of it as just running aid station to aid station. Anyone can run a mile.  Just keep stringing them together. 

Today I am driving up to Madison to do my last ride on the course tomorrow.  I never got the 11-28 cassette, and now I’m thinking it is too late. I do have a triple crank, so I think I have more gearing options than most, but the engineer in me sadly doesn’t know this stuff very well… 

I am putting off today’s swim race rehearsal until Sunday.  Sunday I will discover just how swimming for 1.5-1.75 hrs feels. Ahh! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The data says I'm weak and slow- but lots of room to improve!

This morning I went for my last tough FTP ride- 3x15 with 4 minute rest intervals. In general it went pretty well, was able to hit the numbers, though just barely with the last interval (more due to stop/start, turns, etc).  I am new to training with power, and still learning a lot about what the numbers say about me.

There is definitely a bonus of having power numbers- it keeps you honest. I always use to say that running, I knew how to pace myself. I knew an easy run vs. a hard run (though still can’t run at Z1). Biking was another story. I could just ride along, or I could sprint. In workouts I never knew if I was pushing hard enough, so usually I didn’t. I trained almost exclusively by distance. Occasionally I’d follow my plan of intervals, but they were loosely done. In races I also never knew if I was going hard enough or too hard. I guess it usually worked out- I ran pretty good half marathons in HIM off the bike, but maybe I could’ve pushed the bike more? I usually had a speed goal but that wasn’t perfect. I remember doing an Olympic (Big Foot) last summer after training with larger volume than ever, expecting a great bike time. There was a decent wind and I spent the bike looking at my mph and getting disappointed. If I had power, I could instead be seeing that I was still putting in my best effort. Then when I did Muncie last year, my computer broke and I rode with no data whatsoever. I actually really liked that- rode by feel, no speed to tell me I was sucking. I chose to ride Door County also without a computer. Both times I had a decent run.

Last winter I started the outseason plan with Endurance Nation, and used TrainerRoad virual power. I loved it. I had a target, I felt honest, I was working harder than ever on the bike. This was my solution. I went ahead and bought a PowerTap, of course before the prices dropped like crazy, just my luck.  I went for my first ride with it and wanted to cry. First, the numbers were jumping like crazy, which I did not experience inside. How was I going to train like that? Second, the numbers were LOW. TrainerRoad claims to be accurate, but have an offset compared to a real powermeter. I was hoping the offset would be in the opposite direction. I definitely have some gains I can make on the bike.

Overall, I’ve started to get the hang of trying to hit a specific power, despite it jumping around. Of course, this is Chicago where it is mad flat. I find I can hit the FTP intervals on my Wednesday sessions. I can hit my “race pace plus” intervals easily (usually overachieve- oops). Where I struggle are the Z3 rides on Sundays. I just can’t seem to find that sweet spot. And my legs are usually toast (see overachieving on RPP rides on Saturday… oops again) and the ride ends up being barely Z1. Again, room for improvement.

A number I am now just starting to pay attention to is cadence. So they say cadence around 90- today’s ride was 70. Huh. I knew I rode at a lower cadence, just didn’t know it was THAT low. I think when I hit FTP intervals, I prefer to grind out a high gear- I can feel my legs working and its uncomfortably comfortable.  I got nervous seeing how low my cadence was. Isn’t this going to screw me over on the marathon? WWCWD? (What would Chrissie Wellington do?). Good thing my idol is a low cadence rider. I found this quote:

" I love to push a big gear. It’s a misconception that you need to spin a smaller gear at a higher cadence on the bike. You don’t, " Wellington said. " Doing that actually raises your heart rate and makes you more tired, which doesn’t serve you very well in long distance racing. Cranking it down and pushing a bigger gear lets me lower my heart rate. It’s what feels natural to me and enables me to go the fastest I can go," she added.

Good enough for Chrissie, good enough for me…  because obviously we are at the same level of fitness. I looked back at my Garmin files from my rides on the Wisconsin course- average cadence of 80. Well that sounds better, and that includes grinding up some hills and some (sorry coaches) coasting.

Obviously it is too late in the season to try to fundamentally change how I ride, but we’ll add “playing with a higher cadence” to the winter to-do list.

In completely unrelated news- saw this gem today:

Don’t worry about the snakes in Lake Monona- the crocodiles ate them all.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Smart to rest or just lazy?

A year ago, I would not have named my blog "The Imperfect Triathlete". It would have probably been more along the lines of "The Triathlete Who Does Every Single Workout and Will Pace Up and Down the Street To Make Sure the Run is 45 min and not 44:30". But then again, in a sport dominated by type-A folks, that blog name is probably taken. I use to be religious about the training plan. I was a marathon pace leader and I was so frustrated by runners who would report missing one, or God forbid more than one, run a week. How will they ever finish a marathon? If I did ever miss a workout, I'd be sure to make it up. I even knew that physically it didn't matter that much, but I didn't want any mental weakness to be there, as I was sure it would creep in on race day and ruin my race.

Enter this year. Life. Shitty life. Life where you don't want to train. You want to sit on the couch and eat. And eat some more. When you stomach feels about to burst, no worries, power through, eat some more. I had several weeks of 2 hrs total training, if that. I also had a lovely 10+ lb weight gain (over the 10 lbs above marathon race weight I was already at). When you get out of the habit, it is really tough to get back into it. Slowly but surely, I did. No, I am not in the shape I expected to be for my first Ironman, but that is life, and there will be other races. It was so bad that for a while I really thought I'd be sitting this race out. All this down time broke me of many habits, but most importantly, the need to do every damn workout.

While my consistency has improved (minus the swim, see yesterday's post...), I still miss my share of workouts. And that is ok. With the Endurance Nation style of training, workouts are intense, and they wear you down. Having lost my base with my "winter of life", this has been very tough on my body (and mind). Skipping some workouts has probably (definitely) been the smart thing to do. 

But when is skipping a workout smart, and when is it just lazy? 

This past weekend I was suppose to do a 4.5 hr ride at race pace plus and a 3.5 always be pushing ride.  I did the 3.5 hr ride on Saturday. Unfortunately, I had pushed my long run (2.5 hrs) from Thursday to Friday, which meant my tired legs were getting progressively more tired with not enough rest. I wasn't able to hold power on my ride. My legs and body in general just felt shot. Sunday I woke up and decided not to do my ride. Yes, my legs were tired, and so was I. But most of all, I think I was mentally tired. My mind needed a break.  I do not know if this calls for a rest day or not. Is this a moment of mental weakness that will hurt me on race day? That I do not yet know. I justified it as that I have my final race rehearsal this coming Saturday and I don't want to be toast for it. I am also worried about the short 2 week taper, so some additional rest would be good, right? Basically, I am feeling guilty so I'm searching for excuses.

Yesterday I did both workouts as prescribed. My legs felt good, so I was glad I had the day off on Sunday to freshen up. But then at the end of my run, my right shin started to hurt.  I had had bad shin splints earlier in the summer, which were solved by some rest, new shoes (thanks Asics for discontinuing my favorite Foundations- now I'm running Kayanos + superfeet), and calf sleeves. I've tried to be good- ice bath after the long runs, compression sleeves frequently, and the trouble has been solved. I don't want it to come back. I iced last night and popped some Aleve. Today walking seems fine, which is good as yesterday I wanted to cry.

I was planning on doing my 5 miler (with some intensity possibly) today after work. A few things happened...  1) I was starving all day. I ate and ate. Listening to my body right? Well, at first I was listening, then I was telling it to stop telling me it was full because that granola is just so darn tasty! So I had to sit and rest a while before running or I was sure to have an unhappy belly. That gave me enough time to come up with an excuse. If my leg was killing me yesterday, how is running today a good idea?  In all honesty, I totally believe not running today is the right call. Thank you three years of PT school (and Runner's World). Where I am upset is that I used this as an excuse, not an alternate plan. I know I would be fine with it if yesterday I said "tomorrow I won't run- let the leg calm down". But now I know that I would have run (whether that would be a good thing or not) had I not stuffed my face and been lazy.

There is definitely a balance in following a plan and letting that plan lead you into a brick wall.  Maybe one day I'll strike it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Oh yes, the swim.

My mom commented the other day that I never talk about how my swimming is going. Well, that is because the swimming isn't going. Or going badly. Take your pick. Let's just say the swim part is one of my big "imperfections".

A little on my swim background- out of concern for water safety, my parents required me to do about 2 years of swim team. I think I was 6 and 7, and I was never any good. I have a good collection of those pale blue disqualification ribbons, as I had a tendency for false starts, swimming the wrong stroke, and just blatantly bad form. I never won. I guess we can say my formal swim training ended at age 7- probably a bad sign. When I decided I wanted to do triathlons, I remember starting with swimming 500 yds and it seemed endless. This was about 6 yrs ago now. I did some drills written about in books, and I've worked my way up in yardage and some improvements in time. About a year ago I did have a breakthrough of sorts, but whatever it was I mastered during that time was short lived. My PR in the HIM was 38:xx at Steelhead (some assist from the current) in 2010. Last year I went 40:55 at Door County.

My main problem is motivation. I can get myself out the door for a run or bike. But when it involves going to the pool, changing, waiting for a lane, swimming, showering, changing, go home, etc, motivation disappears. I have been training with Endurance Nation and loved the "No swimming in the outseason" and agree with it. Unfortunately, even EN advocates a good solid 12 weeks of swimming prior to racing. I think I just kept thinking "I have time" with regards to the swim. I am now 3 weeks out. Time is running out.

To help solve the motivation problem, I joined Chicago Smelts, a master's team. I am the slowest in the slowest lane, which is depressing. I am embarrassed and feel like an imposter if I mention I am planning on doing an Ironman. While it is motivating to try to keep up, the team is largely just a group of people swimming the same set- no real on deck coaching (nothing against them- great group, all volunteer, cheap). Also, there is a fair amount of other strokes. My freestyle is bad enough. I resemble a beached dolphin having a seizure when I try butterfly. It ain't pretty. My friend who was a DIII swimmer told me at least I resembled a dolphin. Anyways, I have gone to the practices about 6 or so times, but decided to hold off til after the big day now so I can focus on freestyle and the sets in my plan. I think in the winter it will be good to build my swim skills. 

I am positive my stroke has a lot of room for improvement. When I was in Tucson, I went to a tri clinic where they did video analysis. I was hoping to learn something monumental that would knock minutes off my time. I almost laughed (or actually did laugh) when they told me great things about my body position. That made me think it is my catch that is far less than ideal. This morning I watched a lot of youtube videos on swim technique. I think I get the high elbow/reach around the barrel, and think I even do it most of the time. Am I just weak and don't apply enough pressure to the water? I have noticed that I think my rotation is decreasing, so maybe even my good body position is now failing me. I have tried paddles, and jury is still out on whether they help or not.

Where is my swimming at now? Well, I have swam a grand total of 64,450 yds this YEAR. Yes, that bad. My longest pool workouts have been around 3000 yds. My 100s are about 1:50-2:00. Done a few OWS, peaking at 1:15. I was happy I put in the time, but when I did my educated guess of distance with mapmyrun, it was a whopping 1.6 miles. I am seriously hoping that was underestimated or I am screwed. On both my longer OWS, I have gotten awful chafing on my neck, despite bodyglide, so add that to the (de)motivating column.

One thing I am excited about are my new prescription goggles. I am blind as a bat (retinal detachment on top of very nearsighted for life) and wear glasses, yet it never dawned on me how easy it would be to get prescription goggles. And ridiculously cheap. I think $22. They aren't perfect- strongest is -8 diopters, but man do they help! I first tried the TYR ones, but they were huge. Then I went with Speedo and really like them. They are also "smoke" colored so that should help with swimming into the rising sun in Madison.

So where to go from here- trying to be very good about getting in the workouts now. No excuses. Also trying some extra ones here and there to focus on drills and just be consistent. This Friday I'm planning on OWS for 1:30+. Today I did a set including 20x100's. It sounded tough, but it was doable, which was a boost. One of my biggest fears now is boredom. I am predicting a time around 1:30+ in the race. That is a long ass time of seeing murky water.  Any tips on what to think about? I know focus on stroke, but man, that seems like it will get old. Visualize the rest of the race? Zone out? I guess we'll see how Friday goes!