Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Somewhat Slow Sprint (Steelhead Build: Week 4)

As of this week, I'm half way through my Steelhead training plan.  It certainly hasn't been perfect, but I never expected it to be.  When you write a training plan, it represents what would happen in a perfect world - you know, that place where life doesn't occasionally happen!  That said, I've been missing a few more workouts than is reasonable, so I'm going to try very hard to improve on that for the second half.

Build Week 4's highlights included:

Racing the sunset on a new-to-me bike route with Mr. R&R on Thursday night:

How have I lived in this area for 37 years and I never knew about this?!?!

We also made a stop at Emery's to pick up a veritable buffet of hydration options.  I've learned that my stomach doesn't tolerate Gatorade at all, so I'm going to have to bring my own electrolyte replacement to Steelhead.  A while back I tried Nuun at the recommendation of one of the guys at the bike shop and it was foul, so that's out.

Also, I need to feed myself some calories on the bike, and while I really like Clif Shot Bloks, I wanted to see what else was out there.

I mixed up the Skratch Labs raspberry when we got home and I'm glad I did it before I was riding.  I hated the taste.  It sort of tasted like a less sweet version of Lipton Raspberry Iced Tea - it's not going to work for me.  Mr. R&R mixed up a bottle of Skratch Labs Pineapple for himself and that was much better!  I'll get back to you on the Lemons & Limes flavor and the HEED at a later date.

Sunday brought a whole lot of sweat and a chance to test out Skratch Labs in action. My training plan called for either a sprint tri or a triple brick.  Since it's a little early for triathlon season here, I went for a triple brick with really long transitions!  Mr. R&R and I hit the pool in the early afternoon for a swim.  I swam 1800 yards (my Garmin skipped 25 yards, so I only get credit for 1775 yards) in 43:29.  A sprint tri would have only required 400-500 yards, but I figured if I was going to go to the trouble of getting wet, I'd do the swim equivalent of an Olympic triathlon.

We headed home, changed into tri clothes, got our bikes set up, and got down to business.  Since the weather was overcast and windy, we opted to ride indoors and run outdoors.  I rode for 75 minutes (about 15.5 miles) and consumed an entire bottle of Skratch Labs and the GU Stroopwafel pictured above.  The Stroopwafel was really tasty, but it was really messy and difficult to eat on the bike.  I think it would be better suited to hiking or as a pre/post race snack.  When the ride program ended, I shut off my computer, hustled upstairs to put on running shoes/hat/jacket and got out the door.  The first mile felt pretty good (along with a stop to stare at what was likely a mink swimming in a retention pond).  Mile 2 was a little more uncomfortable since my route turned into rolling hills, but it was still my fastest mile of the day.  Mile 3 was rough, but I got through it.  When I hit the end, Mr. R&R was waiting for me and we walked the chilly mile home together (with another stop to admire the mink)!

12 weeks down.  12 to go!

Week 4 Stats:

Swim:    1775 yards (1.01 miles)
Bike:      40.26 miles
Run:       7.38 miles
Strength: 1 session (30 min)

Total Time:       5 hours, 18 minutes
Total Distance: 48.65 miles

Cumulative Distance: 924.9 miles - approximately the distance between Milwaukee and Denver, CO. And as of this week, I've officially surpassed my total mileage for 2016 - and it's only May!

Monday, May 15, 2017

#*$*-ing Tree Pollen (Steelhead Build: Week 3)

I apologize for not posting yesterday.  I felt so worn out from my allergies that I couldn't bring myself to stare at a computer screen.  Fortunately, I feel much better after some good drugs and a solid night's sleep.  Full speed ahead.

In Week 3 I had 3 good rides, 1 swim (where I seriously thought I was going to puke in the pool) and 1 long run (where I actually did puke) - and it wasn't entirely from the effort I was putting forth.  It seems that spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin, and with it has come an incredibly high level of tree pollen.  Me + Tree Pollen = Dreadful Allergy Issues.

I'll spare you the details, but all the drainage has wreaked havoc on my ability to breathe through my nose and my throat has been a scratchy, coughing mess.  The only place I felt somewhat decent this week was on the bike.

Pretty = Pollen

My only swim of the week wasn't too bad until I started trying to swim sprints.  I think the combination of sinus issues and sucking in chemical-heavy air led me to have some serious acid-feelings in my throat.  I paused, caught my breathe, and made peace with having to slow down so I could finish my swim - and keep my dinner down.

The weather was absolutely beautiful on Saturday (70-ish, sunny, light breeze) and I took my long run outside.  I think I wasn't quite ready for how warm it was - and how hard it was to breathe.  The run was a mix of good miles and dog pile miles (and a brief stop to toss my cookies behind a bush).  At least the views were pretty!

Next week is a step back week and I have plans to do a mock-triathlon/triple brick on the weekend - that should be interesting!

Week 3 Stats:

Swim:    2200 yards (1.25 miles)
Bike:      34.23 miles
Run:       8.04 miles
Strength: 1 Session (30min)

Total Time:        5 hours, 40 minutes
Total Distance:  43.52 miles

Cumulative Distance: 876.25 miles - about the distance from Milwaukee to Cheyenne, Wyoming!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Embracing The Pain (Steelhead Build: Week 2)

This week's performance was a vast improvement over last week, but it sure did pile on the pain.

*Rest Day

I'm not sure that running errands counts as resting, but at least it didn't involve piling miles on my body - and I had time to make a reasonable dinner.

*AM: Bike: Givens (60min)
*PM: Training

These VO2 max intervals made my legs burn - especially at 5:30am.

That night, I had a ridiculous craving for a cheeseburger and as I expected, my trainer beat it right out of me.  Fortunately, Mr. R&R had dinner ready when I got home.

*AM: Run 40min (w/ 18x30 second speed intervals)
*PM: Run 40min (w/ 18x30 second speed intervals)
          Swim: 2100yds (speed intervals)

The 5am wake up didn't happen today, so I had to run after work and before Mr. R&R and I went to the pool.  While I wasn't thrilled to have to pull a back to back workout (since it beats the hell out of me), the weather was about perfect so I headed out.  Of course, stupid me decided that it was a good idea to run a loop instead of an out and back, so I overshot it by a mile and change and ended up with a long walk home - at least the scenery on the walk was nice!

The swim, was, predictably hard.  It was probably made harder by the fact that I've been a bit remiss in the swim department for two weeks.  I was nearly asleep on my feet by the time we made it home.

*AM: Bike: Deerhorn (60min)
*PM: Appointment with The Mane Wrangler

Wednesday's late swim/late to bed made my alarm damn near invisible on Thursday morning - and the rescheduling of workouts began.  At least I got wine and my hair no longer scares me!  I came home, scarfed some dinner, and went to bed.

*AM: Run 50min (w/ hill intervals)
*PM: Run 50min (w/ hill intervals)
         Bike: Deerhorn (60min)

Since the bike will make up of the majority my half ironman, I really don't want to miss any more bike workouts.  Deerhorn was another sweat and pain fest.  My legs hated me after that one...a lot.  A burger and a beer were in order after that.

*AM: 40min Run (steady)
*PM: Brick: Phoenix (90min) + 20min Run

I moved Sunday's "long run" to Saturday morning knowing that I was going to attempt to make up the 50 minute hill run and do a long swim on Sunday.  I hitched a ride to the gym with Mr. R&R and ran on the treadmill while his trainer beat on him - followed by errands, coffee, and breakfast.

It was after 7pm before we hauled it down to The Cave for his and hers brick workouts.  I've been listening to a podcast called S-Town (absolutely fascinating) and made it through almost 2 full episodes between the bike and the run.  Dinner was wolfed down at 10pm and sleep followed shortly.

*AM: Swim: 2500yards (steady)
*PM: Run 50min (w/ hill intervals)

Holy crap 2500 yards is a project of a swim. Granted, 500 of it was split between the warm up and cool down, but 2000 yards of continuous swimming is hard work.  It took almost 1000 yards for me to find my rhythm - and it was a really slooooowwwwww rhythm.

As soon as I got out of the pool, I knew that the 50 minute run was not happening.  My legs no longer wanted to support me, my knees ached, and pretty much every muscle in my body was protesting its basic existence. I have no desire to get injured, so I think I need to accept that some things just aren't worth it.  My 90 minute massage, on the other hand, was totally worth it - even if I was wincing when she dealt with some stellar knots in my quads.

Overall I'm really pleased with how this week went.  I ate pretty well and got in the majority of my planned workouts.  Now I just need to figure out how to get more sleep!

Week 3 Stats:

Swim:    4600 yards (2.61 miles)
Bike:      44.13 miles
Run:       10.38 miles
Strength: 1 session (30min)

Total Time:        7 hours, 23 minutes
Total Distance:  57.12 miles

Cumulative Distance: 832.73 miles - roughly the distance between Milwaukee and Concord, NH.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It's Not A Failure (Steelhead Build: Week 1)

...If you learn something from it.

I was not a good athlete this week.  I did 2 rides, 1 run, and 1 swim this week and I'm oddly pretty okay with it even though it was not the way I wanted to start the build phase of my training.

On Monday night, I ran to the grocery store after work and made a yummy shrimp stir fry for dinner. I added some fresh pineapple and jarred stir fry sauce to the mix to make it a little more interesting.

 I served it over brown rice and we had some chicken cilantro mini wontons on the side.

I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling a mixture of excitement and dread.  Today was FTP (Functional Threshold Power) Testing day.  I've spent the last 8 weeks busting my ass on the bike trying to get stronger and, theoretically, faster. I knew that there was no way I was going to want to do this test at the crack of dawn when I can barely discern between my base bars and my aero bars, so I preemptively canceled my training appointment for Tuesday night - with my trainer's blessing.  After work I filled up my water bottle, tucked a pack of Shot Bloks in my jersey pocket, stuck my headphones in and prepared to suffer hard - and I definitely suffered.

After a rather unpleasant 30 minute "warm up" the testing portion of the ride was upon me.  I went deep into The Pain Cave for this one.  By the time it was over my heart was pounding, my lungs were burning, and my legs felt like they were going to fall off - and when I saw the new power number pop up, I tried to do The Crab Dance (If you watch Deadliest Catch, you'll know what I mean) because I was so happy!  My FTP went up by 10 POINTS!!!!! 2-3 points is the typical result, so you can see why I tried to dance!

I was so pumped up that after my impromptu dance party (on legs that no longer wanted to support me) and a high five from Mr. R&R, I even texted my trainer with the good news!

I was so torched from the FTP Test that I completely slept through my alarm on Wednesday morning and had to pull a double on Wednesday night: a 26 minute run with 16x30 second speed intervals and a 2100 yard swim (.01 miles short of race distance) involving a bunch of sprint intervals.  I crashed like a ton of bricks after that one!

Thursday night's bike workout was a series of VO2 max intervals - at 120% of FTP.  I had rivers of sweat running in unmentionable places by the time it was over and I was cursing my higher FTP since it made the workout that much harder.  Dinner was consumed.  Bunnies were medicated.  Another hard crash ensued - to the point that we both fell asleep in the living room and stayed there all night.

I woke up (late) on Friday morning to find Mr. R&R snuggling with both bunnies.

I was pissed that I missed my chance to run in the morning due to the late wake up, but I wasn't too concerned since I'd made plans to take a half day at work since I was throwing Mr. R&R a belated birthday party that night.  I figured I'd either go run or swim after work, shower, make myself presentable, and meet the caterers by 4:45pm.  Hah!  I got out later than planned and made the mistake of laying down on the bed when I went upstairs to change into my running clothes.  Needless to say, I had enough time when I got up to get cleaned up, make myself presentable, and meet the caterers.

I may have missed my Friday double workout, but I did throw a good party.  I had a taco bar from BelAir Cantina delivered to our favorite bar, opened up a tab, and the rest took care of itself!

We packed up the leftovers and got home around 11:00pm.

Saturday turned into a complete sloth day.  Mr. R&R and I were tired from being out late, we both felt like hell from the last few weeks of training, and we made the executive decision that this weekend's workouts were canceled in favor of:

*  Watching 5 movies while hanging out with the bunnies.
     -Movies Watched: Wanted, Tomb Raider, Ant Man, Doctor Strange, and Deadpool
* Napping
* Napping with Walter after his bath
* Eating taco bar leftovers

* Sleeping Late
* Hanging out on the floor with Walter & Spot
* Making pancakes from scratch for breakfast (and a bunch of extras to go in the freezer)
* Laundry
* Random little tasks that I've been meaning to take care of but haven't had time for

I don't consider this week a total failure since it taught me something useful for going forward.  I've learned that there is no way in hell that I can train at the level I've been at for 24 weeks straight with no real break.  Maybe I could if I  didn't have a full time (and occasionally then some) job or if I could/was willing to outsource a lot of things, but this is the real world, and that's not happening. I'll be doing a little tweaking to my current plan's remaining recovery weeks to promote a little more actual recovery and I'll be taking my need for a little more down time into account when I build future training plans.

Week 1 Stats:

Swim:    2100 yards (1.19 miles)
Bike:     23.43 miles
Run:      2.60 miles

Total Time:        3 hours, 35 minutes
Total Distance:  27.22 miles

April Totals:

Swim:     5,450 yards (3.10 miles)
Bike:       209.25 miles
Run:        40.0 miles
Strength: 4 sessions

Total Time:       27 hours, 44 minutes
Total Distance: 252.35 miles

Cumulative Distance: 775.61 miles - approximately the distance between Milwaukee and Montpelier, VT  Mmmm...maple syrup!!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Queen Of The Mountain (Steelhead Base: Week 8)

This week has been weird.  I did better at getting all my workouts in (missed 1 swim) and I got to play outside on my bike all weekend, but at the same time my head hasn't been in a good place.  I've been struggling with some of the non-physical aspects of training - namely the lack of hours in the day to fit everything in.  (WARNING: #FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS ahead)

My workouts themselves are rarely more than 90 minutes, but each of them requires some degree of preparation (i.e. pumping tires/computer set up for the bike, gathering all the swim stuff and writing out a workout card, or figuring out the best route to run based on the workout/weather/time of day).  None of those preparations take that long, but they usually add 15-ish minutes to the endeavor.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up over the course of a week.

Then there's the food thing.  Both Mr. R&R finish our workouts and want to eat right. freaking. now.  Meal planning/cooking is mostly my department, so I'm always trying to figure out how to get us fed...and not eat total crap.  I haven't been particularly great at this lately - and I can feel it.

Let's not even get started on errands, uncontrollable events (stuck at work late, traffic jams, etc.), and generally being tired!  I think it all boils down to feeling like I have absolutely no time and if one little thing goes awry it throws everything off.

(End of complaining about the side effects of my choice to train for this race - for now.)

The best parts of my week came on Saturday and Sunday.  It was nice enough out on both days to ride OUTSIDE!!!  Saturday was a little on the cool side, but the lure of not spending an hour on the hamster wheel was enough to make me don knee warmers and arm warmers and brave it.  Mr. R&R rode from our house to the New Berlin Trail.  The first 3-4 miles were nice and easy as we navigated city streets to the trailhead.  After that, it was game on.  The trail is a very subtle uphill climb all the way out and usually causes me a bit of trouble, so you can imagine my surprise when I started clocking 16-18mph miles.  When I turned around, I figured out why: the wind had been at my back giving me a nice boost!  Unfortunately that meant a headwind on the way back - and slower times.  Still, 'twas a good ride.

If I thought Saturday was fun, Sunday was even better.  We loaded up our bikes and drove out to Yada Yada's house to ride the country backroads with him and one of his training partners (we'll call that guy Blue Argyle since his bike shorts had a nifty blue argyle pattern on them).  As expected, I spent the entire ride chasing after the pack of boys, but they kindly waited for me at major road crossings and occasionally Yada Yada would loop back to make sure Wicked hadn't decided to send me flying due to some miserable crosswinds. 

About half way through the ride we stopped at a little cafe for lunch.  I had a veggie wrap and baked in the sun for a while.  The ride back was a little cool and windy, but still fun.  I love the scenery out that way - even if it does mean having to ride through a little cow $#!* on occasion.  

When we got back to Yada Yada's, I discovered that according to Strava I had become the Queen of the Mountain on a segment called Rocky Road!   Strava is sort of like Facebook for athletes.  You can upload your workout data (mine transfers directly from Garmin to Strava), follow your friends, comment on their workouts, etc.  Strava also tracks everyone's performance on segments.  Segments are stretches of road/trail that are created by users and then others ride/run them to see how they stack up.  If you are the all time leader on a segment, you become King or Queen of the Mountain.

Granted, I'm the only Strava-using female that has ever done Rocky Road, but I'm still the Queen damn it - although I'm sure I won't be for long since that segment is in BAM's backyard and she's the queen of most of the segments out there.

Royal title aside, I really love some of the segment names I've come across on Strava.  Rocky Road is my favorite at the moment (for obvious reasons), but others I like include: Bullet Train (a long, downhill stretch) and 'Til Death Do Us Part (part of the New Berlin Trail backs up to a cemetery!).

I can't believe I'm at the end of base training for Steelhead.  Starting on Monday, I'm beginning the build phase which will hopefully include more time on the road than the hamster wheel and some open water swims starting in late May-early June.  16 weeks until race day!

Week 8 Stats: 

Swim:     1500 yards (.85 miles)
Bike:       53.76 miles
Run:        8.83 miles
Strength: 1 session (30 minutes)

Total Time:       6 hours, 47 minutes
Total Distance: 63.44 miles

Cumulative Distance: 748.39 miles - approximately the distance between Milwaukee and Jackson, Mississippi!  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Blogging Bunnies (Steelhead Base: Week 7)

Hi there...Walter and Spot here.  Since our mom wasn't very good about working out this week, we've decided to take over her blog and tell you all about Walter and Spot Day (We think this is the holiday that you humans call "Easter" or something like that) and about our dad's birthday!

Let's start with our dad's birthday.  From what we can tell, when humans turn 40 it's a big deal.  His actual birthday wasn't until Saturday, but instead of putting on those ridiculous spandex outfits and then coming home smelling like bleach, Mom and Dad got dressed up, put us in our house, and said they were going out for a 'nice' dinner.  We're not sure what was so nice about it since we weren't there, but they seemed pretty happy when they got home.

Mom said that they split a bottle of Cabernet (which we think is code for: mom was lit up like a Christmas tree), and enjoyed lobster bisque as an appetizer.

She also said that dad ordered something called a New York Strip Steak with a Gorgonzola Truffle sauce and that she had the same kind of steak but hers was rubbed with Kona coffee and had a shallot butter sauce.  We don't understand what's so great about these things since we're raw vegans, but it seemed to make them happy.  We found these pictures on Mom's phone and we're assuming that these must be the aforementioned steaks.

We also found this picture of their dessert.  Dad said that it involved chocolate espresso cake and cheesecake - we still think bananas are superior.

On Saturday morning Dad went to the gym and mom hung out with us.  When he got back, they did their usual routine of drinking coffee, eating something called 'blueberry lemon scones' that Dad's parents dropped off while Dad was at the gym, and giving us our morning meds and breakfast.  We thought that maybe since today was Dad's actual birthday they'd stay home with us, but they put on some different ridiculous spandex outfits and left...for several hours!  We swiped Mom's phone again and figured out that they went out to ride their bikes...and stopped for cookies.

They came home (smelling awful!), made some sort of food called 'crab legs' (we couldn't find a picture), and hung out with us...finally!   We got to give Dad nose bumps to say Happy Birthday!

Today was the best day of the year for us: Walter & Spot Day!!!   Grandma Naner came over and she brought us a basket full of greens as a present! We were climbing over each other to get to it.

Naner also brought us bunny placemats.  We think it's her attempt to civilize us, but Mom will probably end up using them for her and Dad.

After the humans ate something called pizza Grandma Naner lived up to her name and gave us banana slices for dessert!


Now we're super tired from all the attention and treats, so we're going to eat dinner and go to sleep.  We hope you enjoyed Walter & Spot Day!

Oh...and we took a peek at Mom's training stats for the week...she got lazy!

Swim:     0 yards
Bike:       60.34 miles
Run:        4.81 miles
Strength: 1 session (30 minutes)

Total Time:        6 hours, 6 minutes
Total Distance:  65.15 miles

Cumulative Distance: 684.95 miles - that's the distance between Milwaukee and Bismarck, North Dakota!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Post & Run (Steelhead Base: Week 6)

 Week 6 was a tough one.  Nothing went according to plan, so a couple of things got moved around and one workout got skipped altogether.  Blergh!

*Rest Day

This was the easiest day of the week, and I had no problem planting myself on the couch!

*AM: Bike: Mills (60min)
*PM: Training Bike: Mills (60min)

I was a big pile of fail on Tuesday morning.  I don't know what happened, but all week I struggled to get out of bed no matter how much sleep I got.  Fortunately, my trainer was willing to reschedule our appointment to Saturday morning so I was able to get my bike ride in on Tuesday night.

*AM: 50min Run (w/ 10x30 speed intervals)
*PM: 1900yd Swim (speed intervals) 50min Run (w/ 10x30 speed intervals)

My inability to get out of bed really started pissing me off today.  I was not about to run for almost an hour and then swim, so I resigned myself to rescheduling this swim to Friday and moving Friday's planned swim to Sunday.  And I still can't seem to count intervals correctly!  I really need to get around to pre-programming these things.

*Bike: Tray Mountain (90min)

90 minutes on the trainer...ouch!  This ride was no joke.  It was 3x20 minutes of near FTP effort, mostly in aero, and holy hell...yeah.

*AM: 40min Run (w/ 4x20 hill sprints)
*PM: 40min Run (w/ 4x20 hill sprints)
          1900yd Swim (speed intervals)

The not waking up streak continues.  My run was actually quite pleasant - except for the hill sprints, but those always suck!  The pool was a whole other story.  I wasn't aware that lap swimming was a contact sport, but it became one tonight!  Long story short: A guy decided to violate basic swim etiquette rules, got in my way, and instead of leaving (which is what he seemed to want) I body-checked him!  I had some of my fastest 100's ever, but the workout as a whole felt completely off, I rested far more than I should have and ended up having to cut it 50 yards short because the pool was closing.

*AM: Training Session
*PM: Brick: Phoenix (90min) + 20min Run 35min Run

I may have been running on 6 hours of sleep and no coffee, but that didn't matter to my trainer!  She was nice enough to count reps for me (she knows I can't count without coffee), but she still beat me up.  My favorite move was holding plank on an aerobic step (one riser on either side), then going into forearm plank, stepping my hands off the step, doing a tricep pushup, and then stepping my hands back up to regular plank.  It was hard, but it was one of those movements that make you feel like a total badass.

Post-training, Mr. R&R and I grabbed coffee and breakfast, ran a few errands, and laid around for a while.  Today's workout was supposed to be a brick, but the forecast for Sunday made it look like an outdoor bike ride was possible, so Sunday's "long" run was moved to Saturday in hopes of not having to ride on the hamster wheel for 90 minutes!  Mr. R&R was about as interested in this run as I was, so we agreed to slog it out together.  I'm glad he was with me, or I would have walked a lot more than I did!

*Brick: Phoenix (90min) + 20min Run 90 min OUTDOOR bike ride

Oh how I've missed riding outside. The sun. The sound of wind.  Actually moving instead of spinning in place.

The ride to and from the trail was nice and easy, but the miles on the trail were a pretty good speed.  I think this may be the fastest 'first outside ride' I've ever had and although my speed still needs to grow, my average cadence was dead on!

The 20 minute run was sacrificed so that Mr. R&R and I could meet his parents for brunch.  In this case: Beer + Tacos > Running.

I'm not thrilled that I missed a swim and had to juggle my schedule so much this week.  I'm going to be making a concerted effort to get to bed earlier and hopefully have a better Week 7.

Week 6 Stats:

Swim:     1850 yards (1.05 miles)
Bike:       48.70 miles
Run:        13.41 miles
Strength: 1 Session (30 min)

Total Time:        7 hours, 17 minutes
Total Distance:  63.16 miles

*Cumulative Distance: 619.8 miles - approximatley the distance from Milwaukee to Wichita, Kansas.