Monday, June 19, 2017

A Whole Lot Of Miles (Steelhead Build: Week 8)

Not a whole lot happening around here except more swim, bike, run!  

Mr. R&R and I were planning on doing a metric century ride (62.1 miles) on Saturday, but when we checked the forecast on the way home from the lake on Friday night it didn't look good.  55-60% chance of severe thunderstorms during the ride?  No way were we going to pack up all our stuff, get up at 4:30am, and drive over an hour just to get rained out.   We ordered a pizza and crashed hard.

Go figure, we woke up Saturday morning to a completely revised forecast (no rain until late evening), but by that time it was too late to make it to the ride.  Time to improvise!

We hopped on our bikes and ended up riding 55 miles...not bad for improvisation!

Any way, I hate to cut this short, but it's my rest day and I really need to crash.  I'm hurting pretty good after a 55 mile bike ride on Saturday and a 10 mile run yesterday.  The Build Phase of my training is done.  The 8 week Specialty Phase is all that remains between me and the start line at Steelhead!

Week 8 Stats:
Swim:     1,453 yards (0.83 miles)
Bike:       70.2 miles
Run:        16.01 miles
Strength: 1 session (30 minutes)

Total Time:       8 hours, 36 minutes
Total Distance: 87.04 miles

*Cumulative Distance: 1139.45 miles - that would put me just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Elkhart Lake Sprint Triathlon (Steelhead Build: Week 7)

The first tri of the season is in the history books, and it was definitely a rough one. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that I got my ass kicked...hard.


I escaped from the office around 4:15 on Friday and arrived home to discover that Mr. R&R had escaped even earlier and had cleaned, lubed, and polished both of our bikes which was awesome because we were facing a 90+ minute drive up to Elkhart Lake for packet pickup.

Unlike many (if not most) of the triathlons we've done, Elkhart is a USAT sanctioned race which means that you have to show up in person, with a photo ID to pick up your packet, so we had no other choice but to make the trip for a 5 minute process.  As long as we were out there, we took a walk down to the lake to check out the swim venue and then a drive to check out both the sprint and olympic bike courses.

The lake looked clear and inviting and, when we dipped our toes in, was pretty warm! The buoys were already out and the sprint buoys looked like they were practically on shore - the olympic buoys (Mr. R&R's distance) looked really far, but less scary to me than they would have a year ago and I started silently berating myself for having signed up to do the sprint instead of the oly.

The bike course was a whole lot of bumpy pavement, sharp turns, and big hills.  I started getting the feeling that my bike average wasn't going to be what I was hoping for and I felt particularly sorry for Mr. R&R and the rest of the oly athletes when we drove that part of the course!  Maybe the choice to do the sprint wasn't such a bad one after all!

The drive home took considerably longer than either of us planned since Siri couldn't seem to find a route that didn't involve driving every friggin' backroad in the middle of nowhere!  We rolled in the door after 9:30pm and still needed to eat dinner and pack up all our stuff.  Ugh.    Packing was done quickly, but carefully since running home for any forgotten items was out of the question.  Dinner was a hurried affair at 10:30pm involving a couple of eggs since neither of was hungry at that point.  I finally got to bed at 11:30pm.

The 3:30am wake up call was particularly painful.  Coffee was made, bikes were loaded, bags were crammed into the car, and bodies were stuffed into tri clothes. We were on the road by 4:30am and I watched the sun rise while occupying myself with forcing down breakfast (Clif Bar Sierra Trail Mix and 20oz Pineapple Skratch Labs).

Thankfully, the drive went quickly and we arrived at the Osthoff Resort right on schedule at 6:00am.  Bikes were unloaded, bottles filled, bags shouldered, and we hoofed it to our respective transition areas to get set up.  I wasn't really nervous, but for some reason (I suspect it was the combination of late dinner, little sleep, and early wake up) my gut started gurgling and I had to deal with that before I could finish my race prep rituals.  Post porto stop, I found Mr. R&R outside the oly transition area and we walked back to the car to drop off our bags (no room in transition for them) before wiggling into our wetsuits for a warm up swim.

On the way to the beach we ran into Mr. R&R's parents who had come to check out what this triathlon thing was all about. I said a quick hello, posed for a pic with Mr. R&R, and hauled ass into the water since the water was closing in 15 minutes.

The water was fairly warm as it flooded my suit, the bottom was soft and sandy, and when I pulled on my goggles and started to swim, it was really clear and so shallow that I could see the bottom as I swam out toward the first buoy.  This was good news to me.  I was ready to rock 'n roll by the time I made it back onto the beach.  I said goodbye to my in-laws, wished Mr. R&R a good race, and made my way over to the sprint start corral.  In the 15 minutes it took for me to get to the swim start, the wind started kicking up and the water got really choppy.  Not ideal, but as soon as the race official said 'Go', I ran into the water and dropped onto my belly and started swimming as soon as the water hit my thighs.

I'll be honest, it was a miserable swim in all that chop.  Every time I put my head down to swim properly, I'd make it 9-12 strokes before I started feeling seasick.  One of my major goals for this race was not to freak out on the swim and I didn't.  I figured out that if I did my 9-12 strokes and then did what I call 'The Tarzan Swim' (freestyle with head out of the water) for about 10 strokes, the seasickness stayed mostly under control. The whole swim was so shallow that people started standing up way too soon and I ended up having to stand up before my hands touched the bottom to avoid getting stepped on.  Whatever.  The swim was done.  Time to focus on T1.

Swim: 9:52 (2:02/100 yards)

Goggles went on top of my head and I had the top of my wetsuit off before I started running up the hill toward transition.  The run to T1 was really long and the official end of the swim was pretty far out of the water - which annoys me because I think I ended up having a really fast (for me) swim, but I'll never know for sure.  I easily found my rack and finished stripping my wetsuit.  On went the bike shoes, glasses and helmet and I jogged to the mount line.  I could really feel my lack of transition practice because it took forever!

T1: 3:46

Almost immediately the bike started climbing hills.  I tried to settle in and find a rhythm, but it was rough. Around Mile 2 there were 2 really sharp turns that actually had signs and volunteers screaming  at us to 'Slow Down'.  I'm glad I heeded the advice, but every time I would get up to a good speed, I'd have to hit the brakes to take a turn and then start over again - usually while climbing a hill into a headwind.  I spent the entire ride grinding up hills and flying down the other side.  I did quite a bit of passing on the bike, so that was encouraging, but I was more than happy to take those two ugly turns on the way back in since the wind was starting to hit me from the side and I had no desire to go flying sideways.

Official Time: 49:24 (15.1mph)
Garmin Time: 49:25 (15.6mph)
*The official length of the bike course was 12.4 miles, but my Garmin clocked it at 12.89 miles.

The run into T2 was short and I arrived at my rack to find that someone had either dumped their bike or it had fallen off the rack and onto my stuff!  I re-racked my bike, re-racked the other person's bike, threw on my running gear and booked it out of there.  The run out of T2 was long (almost the same as the run to T1, but in reverse).

T2: 3:04

I felt like I was running pretty well as I left transition.  Breathing was even and controlled.  Jello legs were minimal.  Maybe there was something salvageable in this race.  Then the climbing started.  At first, it was a subtle uphill to Mile 1. It wasn't a great mile, but it was manageable.  All of Mile 2 was a very steep uphill climb.  The wind that had been such a pain in the ass for the swim and the bike seemed to have disappeared and the sun was scorching.  I walked a lot - along with a bunch of really fit looking dudes sporting M-Dot tattoos on their legs - so that made me feel a little better about the walking.  I drank half a cup of water at the aid station and dumped another one over my head - which made me feel better for about 2 minutes.  Fortunately, what went up finally got to come down.  The last mile was mostly downhill, so I started forcing myself to pick up the pace.  I saw my mother in-law cheering as I took the final turn into the chute and did my best to sprint it in.

Run: 32:18 (10:15/mile)

My father in-law was waiting on the other side of the chute in the shade, so I hung out with my in-laws after I exited the finish, and waited for Mr. R&R to come into T2.  He came in looking pretty good for a guy who just survived double the hell I endured on the bike course and headed out for a 10k run.  I figured that I had about 50 minutes from the time he started the run, so I left my in-laws in the shade and made my way back to transition to collect all my crap (they started tearing it down before the last sprint athlete finished) and haul it back to the car.  Once I rejoined Mr. R&R's parents, my best guess was that he was less than 15 minutes away from finishing, but I was wrong.  When he'd been out for an hour, I started getting a little worried.  At an hour and ten minutes, I knew something was definitely wrong.  I was about 1 minute away from starting to walk back along the course to see if I could figure out what was going on when I spotted him coming down the chute.

It turns out that Mr. R&R's usually very stable gut had started giving him serious problems at Mile 2 and he'd been forced to walk for large chunks of time.  Ugh...not the way to start a season!

We said goodbye to his parents and I accompanied Mr. R&R into his transition area to help him collect all his gear since he still wasn't feeling the greatest and we were on our way home...both happy with some parts of our respective race, disappointed in others, and seriously craving a nap!

Overall, I'm happy I did this race and got my ass kicked by it.  It showed me where I'm making improvements (not freaking out in far from ideal open water situation and still meeting my age group placement goal) and where I need to do some serious work in the 9 weeks remaining until Steelhead (bike a lot more big hills and do more bricks).

Time: 1:38:26
Overall Place: 200/298
Gender Place: 65/126
Age Group Place: 7/17

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Harborview 8k Race Recap (Steelhead Build: Week 6)

My 2017 race season kicked off on Saturday night at the inaugural Harborview 8k in Port Washington.  Obviously my focus this year is on multisport racing, not road racing, but this race was a) a night race b) a hard to find distance c) a distance I haven't raced in 5 years and d) associated with a Pirate Festival, so...why not!?!?

Mr. R&R and I got to Port Washington a bit early so we'd have time to find parking, pick up our packets, and scope out the Pirate Festival.  Walking from the car to packet pick up I was boiling to death, but as soon as we walked out onto the pier it was freezing!  I've lived close to Lake Michigan my entire life and I'm no stranger to hearing 'cooler temperatures near the lake' but this was something else.  Pick up was a breeze and right next to Wisconsin's only tall ship, the Dennis Sullivan. 

We walked through the Pirate Festival (lots of cosplay), checked out the ginormous fish swimming in the harbor (did not make me want to swim in Lake Michigan), and sized up the competition! 

Mr. R&R and I went back to the car to drop off our sweats and grab our race belts and let me tell you - I did not want to walk back onto the pier where it was cold and windy!

There was only about 20 minutes to go until gun time, but it was a cold wait.  I occupied myself by trotting after Mr. R&R doing a warm up jog, strides, and stretching.  Finally, the announcer called us onto the pier.  The pier (on the right side of the picture above) was really narrow, so I seeded myself a little farther forward than I normally would have in hopes of getting a clean start.

The count down came.  5...4...3...2...1...GO!  And we were off.  I knew from the beginning that I was going to get passed a ton in the beginning, but at least I didn't spend the first 1/4 mile trying to dodge around people.  As soon as I hit the end of the pier it was like someone opened an oven door.  The wall of heat was insane. We took a couple of quick turns and I found myself running right through the Pirate Festival!  I focused on taking even breaths, controlling my pace, and high five-ing little kids as I ran past.  After the festival there was a short stretch of flat road followed by a massive, ugly hill.  I dropped to a power walk to lower my heart rate  before remembering that I had some goals for this race and picked it back up.

My race goals were simple:

#1 The Nearly Foolproof Goal: Beat my 8k time from 2012 (50:07).  To do this, all I had to do was maintain a 10:04/mile pace or faster.  I was 99.999% sure this was possible even if everything went to hell.

#2 The Probable Goal: Finish in under 50 minutes (pace of 10:03/mile or faster).

#3 The Stretch Goal: Finish in under 48 minutes (pace of 9:51/mile or faster).

Coming back down the monster hill, I hit Mile 1 in 9:19.  This was encouraging since I still 3.97 miles to go and since I tend to slow down as the miles pass I was banking time.

We turned onto the Ozaukee Interurban trail and a subtle downhill. Mile 2 clicked by in 9:27 - still way ahead of plan!  I was pleasantly inside my own head until some random girl came up behind me blasting music on her phone - without headphones!  There were definitely some WTF thoughts running through my head at that point. I briefly considered saying something to the effect of "Dude, did it ever occur to you that not everyone enjoys listening to slow country tunes as much as you do?" I really thought about saying something when she started singing!  I realized that all this irritation was actually sucking energy from me and that was something I couldn't afford, so I focused on tuning it out and getting back inside my head - and it worked.  My pace started falling again.

Just after we turned off the Interurban Trail there was another water station (again with no water and a few boiling hot cups of blue Gatorade) and the Mile 3 marker!  I was absolutely amazed to see 9:04 on my watch.  I started having thoughts of what was possible.  My watch was set to show current pace, distance, and average pace for the entire run and I was seeing an average far below even my stretch goal. Of course, then shit got real.  Mile 4 was a whole lot of uphill climbs and my pace went to crap since I took a couple of walk breaks up the hills.  I hit the Mile 4 marker in 10:08.  Ugh.

Fortunately, what goes up must come down. As soon as I topped that last hill there was a long, beautiful stretch of downhill.  I just let go and let my legs and gravity do their thing. My pace for that stretch ranged between 7:30-8:22/mile.  It was awesome!  After that it was a quick turn over a lighted bridge and a wall of cool air hit me as I turned back out toward the water.  There was less than half a mile left and I was pacing in the 8's.  It was starting to hurt, but there was no way I was letting up now.  I took the final turn toward home, saw Mr. R&R, and started sprinting for the line.

I crossed the finish line in 46:08 - eclipsing my 5 year old PR by 3 minutes and 59 seconds! 

I may be looking down, but I liked what I saw!

Going into this race, I knew that setting a new PR was almost a given as long as I didn't blow up completely, but what actually happened surprised the hell out of me.  I guess all this tri training is paying dividends a little early!

Time: 46:08 (9:17/mile pace)
Overall Place: 182/582
Gender Place: 89/413
Age Group Place: 19/83 (F35-39)

Up next: Elkhart Lake Sprint Triathlon on June 10th.

Week 6 Stats:
Swim:    1,986 yards (1.13 miles) - all open water
Bike:      41.5 miles
Run:        8.27 miles
Strength: 1 session (30 minutes)

Total Time:       5 hours, 39 minutes
Total Distance: 50.90 miles

Cumulative Distance: 1020.52 miles - about the distance from Milwaukee to Orlando, Florida.  Say hi to Mickey for me!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Taking The Plunge (Steelhead Build: Week 5)

Memorial Day Weekend:  A time to honor the fallen, parades, barbecues, and shimmying into a wetsuit so you can jump into a lake!  What, just me on that last one?

I approached this weekend with a mix of excitement and fear since I knew I would be doing my first open water swim of the year - and my open water issues are well documented.  Mr. R&R and I packed up all of our stuff (and our paddle boards and the required stuff for that) and headed up to the lake near Yada Yada's house.  I think I've described it before, but I really like this lake because it is a) small b) does not allow motorized boats (and therefore tastes like a lake rather than like gasoline and oil) and c) usually has sighting buoys set up in a 1000 meter course around the lake.

We got to the lake mid-afternoon and prepared to be stared at and peppered with questions - which is what generally happens when people see you pulling on a full body wetsuit, donning a swim cap, and strapping a trailer/rescue buoy around your waist when most people there don't venture more than 10 feet from shore.  As it turns out, we weren't the only weirdos that day.  Another couple was fully suited up and on their way back from the other side of the lake!  We waded into the water as they came in and the four of us chatted for a bit about wetsuits (this was their first wetsuit experience), water temp (cold, but not as bad as I expected), and weed levels (really high already).  I think just hanging out, talking, letting my suit flood, and getting used to the water helped a lot.  Finally, it was time. The buoys weren't out yet, so Mr. R&R took the lead and I followed him.  We took it really slow, but I'm happy to report that I swam 800 yards and DID. NOT. FREAK. OUT.  In fact, we were bobbing around in the middle of the lake and I said something like, "I'm ready.  I want to race - soon!"   I'm not saying that my open water issues are cured, but this was by far the most successful first open water swim ever.

Post-swim we dragged our paddle boards down to the beach, inflated them (holy arm-burning workout), and took them for their maiden voyages.  I was a little concerned that an inflatable board would feel different/not be as stable as the ones we rented last summer in North Carolina. I had nothing to fear.  The boards were rock solid, speedy, and easy to maneuver.  We paddled all over the lake, checking where the buoys would likely be and seeing just how weedy the lake was (answer: very) for over an hour.  I can't wait to take my board out again.

I also took the figurative plunge this weekend and registered for some B races leading up to Steelhead.  I'll be taking on a 8k (that ends at a pirate festival) next weekend, a sprint tri a week later, and my first olympic triathlon  three weeks before Steelhead.

Other weekend activities included a long run (didn't go well) followed by a really fun bike ride with Mr. R&R - complete with setting a new PR on the 'Til Death Do Us Part segment. I recall glancing down and seeing a speed of 23.9 mph at one point!

Week 5 Stats:
Swim:     3401 yards (1.93 miles)
Bike:       30.68 miles
Run:        12.11 miles
Strength: 1 session (30 minutes)

Total Time: 6 hours, 41 minutes
Total Distance: 44.73 miles

Cumulative Distance: 969.62 miles - that would put me somewhere in the vicinity of Regina, Saskatchewan!

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!