Sunday, March 26, 2017

Train. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. (Steelhead Base: Week 4)

Week 4 of my training plan is billed as a recovery week.  Workout intensity and duration is reduced in order to give the body (and possibly the mind) a chance to recover a little.

*Rest Day

I'm experimenting with taking Monday as a rest day since Saturday and Sunday both involve long workouts.  It was nice being able to come home from work and not have to rush right out the door to get to my training appointment.  I used the time to make dinner, fold a little laundry (because it's endless around here), and hang out with Walter and Spot.

*AM: Bike: Haku (60min)
*PM: Warm Up Run and Training Session

I did not want to get on the bike this morning, but I did - and managed to flip between the big and small chain rings without dropping my chain or getting the chain stuck.

After that it, it was off to a full day at work, a stop at home to change into gym clothes, and then off to my training session.  I'm really grateful that my trainer is willing to work with me based on what body part is giving me trouble at the moment.  For example, my legs were super tight tonight, so she modified one of the moves she wanted me to do so that it helped to loosen them up.

*AM: 35min Run (w/ 6x30 second speed intervals)
*PM: 1400yd Swim (speed intervals)

Now that was a good run.  I felt really relaxed and comfortable and the whole thing just flowed.  Oh, and I managed to count my intervals correctly - this is not normal at 5:30am!  The run may have been awesome, but I definitely had moments of wanting to crawl under my desk and take a nap - especially by late afternoon.  Coffee doesn't seem to have much of an effect on me anymore, but I've been enjoying my super-nerdy coffee anyway.

All kinds of nerdy
Wednesday night's swim was fantastic.  I actually swam 3 sub-2:00 100s.  Maybe the last one wasn't a fluke?

What if I want to do both?

Bike: Birch (60min)

Tonight's ride was only 45 minutes long and that was just fine by me.  I listened to a couple of podcasts, spun my legs, and called it a night.  I miss rides this short!

*AM: 35min Run
*PM: 1600yd Swim

Not getting to sleep at a reasonable hour = not getting up at an unholy hour to run.  I wasn't too worried since it's a recovery week and the run was easily rescheduled to Saturday morning.

We got to the pool a little earlier on Friday night, knocked out our swims, and called it a night.  Real exciting, right?

*AM: 35min Run
*PM: Bike: Geiger (60min)

I was up earlier that I'd have liked to hitch a ride to the gym with Mr. R&R and make up the missed run from Friday.  I kept the effort low since it was supposed to be an easy run and the 35 minutes were up before I knew it.

After breakfast, coffee, and a little lounging around we hit The Cave for a pair of hour long rides.  I crawled off the bike drenched in sweat and seriously wondering if a manual power tweak was in order.  It seems as though my choices are to spin too slow in a bigger gear or too fast in a smaller gear.  I can't find the spot where my preferred cadence (spin speed) and gearing work together.

When Mr. R&R got home from his massage appointment we did the usual grocery run and then he made the most awesome dinner.  These fajitas were so good...I totally overate...and it was worth it!

*Brick: Pioneer (60min) + 15 minute Run

The odds of completing this brick workout did not look good when I got up this morning since it was pouring rain.  I had resigned myself to just doing the bike portion of the workout (with the previously mentioned power tweak), but peer pressure got the best of me.  Mr. R&R finished his workout a few minutes before me and went flying upstairs to add some layers over his bike clothes and headed out the door.  Dammit...if he was going to go for it, so was I!  I threw on sweatpants, jacket, ear band, and gloves and ran in the rain.  Oddly, it felt good because I was so overheated from the bike.

I got home with just enough time to shower and make it to my massage appointment.

As of this posting, I'm half way through the base phase of training and although there are days where I seriously question my life choices, I'm starting to see glimpses of what's possible - and it feels good.

Week 4 Stats:
Swim:    3000 yards (1.7 miles)
Bike:      42.97 miles
Run:       10.27 miles
Yoga:      0 sessions
Strength: 1 session (30min)

Total Time:       6 hours, 39 minutes
Total Distance: 54.94 miles

Cumulative Distance: 490.4 miles - approximately the distance between Milwaukee and Topeka, Kansas.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Staycation & Steelhead

This may have been the most relaxing week I've had since the week I spent in North Carolina last summer because I took a week off work and stayed home!  I haven't taken a week off without travel plans of some sort in a long time and now I'm convinced I should do it more often.

*Snow Day

I decided to take the first day of my Staycation as a rest day when I woke up to 6+ inches of snow on the ground - and not having to work from home due to the plows not having gone through yet.

 I texted my trainer and asked to reschedule for Tuesday evening so I wouldn't have to drive through the snowstorm and she was good with it.  I spent my day doing laundry, hanging out with Walter and Spot, and occasionally looking outside as more snow piled up.  When Mr. R&R got home, he dealt with the snow in the driveway (the snowblower scares me), and we hoofed it up the street for burgers, beers, and a really fabulous dessert - which has kind of become our snow day tradition.

*AM: Bike: Berryessa (60min)
*PM: Warm Up Run and Training Session

I think the operative word for Tuesday was "Stuck".  Mr. R&R and I spent the morning at Dr. Beast's office learning to give Walter and Spot penicillin injections because they're both still battling a respiratory infection.  Let me just say, that I've never felt such horrible guilt in my life, but if it makes them better, I'm willing to do it.  We got home and I hit the bike for what was supposed to be an hour long ride.  About 30 minutes in, my chain dropped as I was shifting between the big and small chainring.  While this is annoying as hell, it happens occasionally, so I fixed it, cursed all the grease on my hands, and went back to my ride.  10 minutes later, it happened again, but this time the chain got stuck between the chainring and the frame and I couldn't dislodge it.  I called Mr. R&R down to The Cave to see if he could help, but that thing was not budging.  I called my bike guy and they said to bring it in the next morning.

I changed clothes and hauled it to the gym for my training session.  My shoulders were burning by the time I left.

AM: 40min run (w/ 8x 30 speed intervals)
PM: 1600yd Swim (speed intervals)

So, I completely overslept this morning so an early morning run was out of the question.  Then the "stuck" theme from yesterday continued when I went to turn off the shower and the handle wouldn't move!  I ended up having to call Mr. R&R home to strong arm it into place.  I suspect we'll have to change the fixture in the relatively near future.  After the shower debacle, I loaded up my bike (which after almost 2 years finally has a name: Wicked) and it was off to the bike shop.

While they got the chain unstuck, I looked around the shop and ended up coming home with the addition of an X-Labs Mini Wing bottle cage.  This should make refilling my aerobottle and carrying electrolytes a lot easier this summer.

That evening Mr. R&R and I had our Wednesday night swim date.  I struggled with the main set of 6x100 alternating 25yds easy/25yds hard.  I feel a little defeated that I cannot deal with the 10 second rests between 100s and need about 20-30 seconds between them.   When I was done, I swam an extra 150yds very slowly while Mr. R&R finished his workout.  I had originally thought about parking my butt in the hot tub while he finished, but I was convinced that if I did that, I might not ever get out!

AM: 40min Run (w/ 8x30 second speed intervals)
PM: Bike: Ericsson (60min)

I finally got 'unstuck' today.  I went to the gym in the late morning to make up Wednesday's run.  If I thought the gym was a madhouse at 5:30am, 10:30am was even crazier!  I had a really good run - even if I still can't manage to count intervals correctly!

Thursday night found me perched on my bike alongside Mr. R&R as we both sweated our way through our workouts.  Mr. R&R's workout was 30 minutes longer than mine and the movie we were watching was still going, so I hung around to finish the movie and rode an extra 20 minutes to make up for the minutes I missed on Tuesday when my bike broke!

After that, it was time to give the bunnies their meds.  One syringe per bunny every other day.

I felt like the worst human ever even though neither of them really seemed to notice.  Walter even gave me nose bumps afterward.

I hate you for this.
I still love you, mom.

At least it seems like the medication is helping them.  The sneezing seems to be calming down and they both just seem better in general.  Keep your fingers crossed!

AM: 40min Run 
PM: 2000yd Swim 40min Run

After some discussion, neither Mr. R&R nor I had any desire to be on the road with all the St. Patrick's Day and NCAA revelers, so we settled on running at the gym closest to us and then holing up at home - with plans to swim on Sunday after our long runs.

Since I ended up rescheduling my long swim, I decided to do something I've been thinking about for weeks:  I registered for Ironman 70.3 Steelhead!

August 13. 2017

So how did this all come about? I wasn't really planning on doing this until 2018, but a few weeks ago, I was looking at the mid-volume plan for my original A Race (an olympic distance tri) and when I was showing it to Mr. R&R he said it was more work than his half iron training plan.  At that point, I looked at his training schedule and decided I'd follow it in hopes of having a really good olympic race.  Then I started thinking about how much work I'd be putting in just to have to do it again next year - and that's when I looked up the date for Steelhead.  It was exactly 24 weeks from the day I was going to start a 24 week half ironman training plan.  *GULP* After some more discussion with Mr. R&R I decided to try the first few weeks of the plan before committing. And then on Friday night, I decided it was time to stop wringing my hands and just do it, so I did!  At this point, 21 weeks to go until I swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles.

I woke up wondering what the hell I got myself into by signing up for Steelhead, but there's no turning back now!  While Mr. R&R was out making up a missed run, I got to work in the kitchen and got some Moroccan Chicken going in the crockpot.  Then it was bike time.  90 minutes of sweat-dripping spinning.

Mr. R&R had another hour to go when I was done, so I took a quick shower and made couscous to go with the Moroccan Chicken while he finished up.  The finished product was absolutely awesome and I would definitely suggest making it.  Every bite was a mixture of sweetness from the raisins, salt from the olives, and a little tartness from the lemons.

Post refueling we ran our usual weekly errands (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Target) and I was really excited when Mr. R&R pointed out the Ben & Jerry's flavor I've been searching for for months!

We got home, gave Walter and Spot their meds, and settled in for dessert until the bunnies forgave us.

We'll forgive you if you 
We both woke up really sore.  Mr. R&R's knee and hip have been bugging him and my left knee has been tweaky since I got off the bike yesterday.  I  wasn't sure that I was going to be able to get my long run and my long swim in since my knee was hurting and I wanted to put in a quick appearance at the TriWisconsin kick off party.  Mr. R&R and I hit the pool in the early afternoon and it was crazy crowded.  I shared a lane with him and ended up with a few more mouthfuls of pool water than I'd have liked.  Afterward, I came home long enough to scrub off the chlorine, semi-dry my hair, and look presentable enough to put in an appearance at the TriWI party.  It was fun seeing the Iron Cheerleader's face when I told him that I'm registered for Steelhead.  The pull of the beer and pizza were strong, but I dragged myself out of there and back to the gym to bang out my long run (Mr. R&R ran outside while I was gone).  Never fear though, as I'm sitting here re-writing/editing this post, a pizza is enroute - no beer though since I need to be functional tomorrow morning.

All in all, it's been a great staycation and hopefully it will tide me over until my next week off - in late August!

Week 3 Stats:

Swim:       3600 yards (2.05 miles)
Bike:         41.08 miles
Run:          14.66 miles
Yoga:        0 practices
Strength:  1 session (30min)

Total Time:       7 hours, 38 minutes
Total Distance: 57.79 miles

Cumulative Distance: 435.46 miles - approximately the distance between Milwaukee and Louisville, KY.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Better Choices (Tri Training Base: Week 2)

I made better choices this week, but I'm still convinced that this training cycle is going to take everything I have.  I've been bouncing back and forth between hungry enough to eat the furniture and ready to fall asleep on my feet - or at my desk.  I think I may have even nodded off while draped over my aerobars!

Since I managed not to do stupid things like drinking beer and staying out late, I actually did all the workouts on their originally scheduled date/time!

*AM: Shasta (60min)
*PM: Warm Up Run and Training Session

As usual, I was on the bike in the wee hours attempting to do 200% FTP intervals.  I was simultaneously sweating buckets and yawning!  After work I hit the gym for a quick warmup run before my trainer and I spent 30 arm-burning minutes together.  As usual, I was questioning my training plan choices and she thinks I'm doing the right thing.  At least she has confidence in it!

*Rest Day

Yoga didn't happen, but sleeping in a little did!  Missing my yoga practice sucked, but the pull of the couch won after work too.

*AM: 35min Run (w/ 8x30 second speed intervals)
*PM: 1600yd Swim (speed intervals)

I should not be trusted to count things before 8AM, especially intervals. Maybe it's time to switch watches since my multisport watch can be pre-programmed to do the thinking for me.  Intervals definitely break up the treadmill boredom, but they're rather tiring and extremely hunger-inducing.  My coworker didn't have to try too hard to convince me of the merits of Second Breakfast.  Who knew that triathletes and Hobbits have something in common!?!?

Wednesday night's swim was kind of a breakthrough for me.  My original thought for this training cycle was to alternate between base and speed interval swims on Wednesday night, but I think I'll be focusing on speed intervals from here on out.  I need to work on being faster in the water and this is the only way to get faster.  I wasn't too excited about 100 yard repeats that built and then descended in speed, but once I saw the results I was sold.  I finally achieved a sub-2:00 minute 100! I know this pace is still incredibly pedestrian for most people, it's something I've been chasing for a long time.

*Bike: Tunnabora (60min)

Tunnabora = Ton Of Bullshit.  60 minutes of cadence ladders after a long day at work was not my idea of fun.  The cadence changes are really subtle, but I think my power numbers need some tweaking because I couldn't get my gearing right. An extra ride or a substitution of another power test for a regularly scheduled ride may be in my near future.

* AM: 40min Run
* PM: 1800 yd Swim

Sometimes it's nice running really early in the morning since I'm not awake enough to think up reasons not to!  I've been trying to listen to podcasts on the treadmill in an attempt to actually learn something, but this run required a bunch of upbeat songs circa the early 2000's to motivate me.  40 minutes of somewhat even splits left me ready for a shower and another round of Second Breakfast.

On a rather disturbing/amusing note, when we were driving home from the gym the guy on the radio made me feel ancient.  Apparently Buffy The Vampire Slayer premiered 20 years ago on this day.  How is that even possible!

Mr. R&R and I had our usual 'Date Night' at the pool on Friday night.  I can now proudly say that I've swam 1200 yards continuously at a pace that is approximately 1:00/100 yards faster than I need to to meet the race cutoff time - and I did it without Garmin issues!  I came home, showered, and collapsed into a heap of sleep!

*Brick Workout: Bike 60min + 10min Run

I actually felt pretty good on the bike.  My cadence numbers were good and my legs felt fairly springy when I headed out to run in the freezing cold.  The first 5-6 minutes weren't too bad since I was really warm from the ride.  The last 4-5 minutes were an exercise in torture.  The cold, dry air made breathing far more difficult than it should have been.

After the workout, I took a nap and a shower before we met my dad and company for dinner.  My 5 year old niece was so cute.  She almost knocked me over hugging me, insisted on sitting by me at dinner, and drew me a picture.  I wish everyone was that excited to see me!

*Run: 50min

I didn't want to do this run.  Walter was acting a bit odd on Saturday night, so neither Mr. R&R nor I got much sleep.  Fortunately he seemed much better by morning and the only thing between me and a solid week of training was this run, so I piled on the layers (fleece tights, thermal base layer, jacket, hat, and gloves) and dragged myself out the door.  It was not the best run I've had lately.  I was fine on the flats and downhills, but the last 2 miles were mostly uphill and I was not feeling that at all, but it was done.

I showered and headed off to the one appointment I'd been looking forward to all week: 90 minutes of peace and happiness!

Week 2 Stats:

Swim:      3400 yards (1.93 miles)
Bike:        35.02 miles
Run:        14.85 miles
Yoga:       0 practices
Strength: 1 session (30min)

Total Time:       7 hours, 0 minutes
Total Distance: 51.8 miles

Cumulative Distance: 377.67 miles  - approximately the distance between Milwaukee and Thunder Bay, Ontario

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Choices Have Consequences (Tri Training Base: Week 1)

I'm pretty sure that the next 24 weeks are going to be a lot of hard work - possibly the hardest (athletic) thing I've ever attempted.  It starts off relatively gentle, but just seeing the 3 double workouts each week makes me nervous since getting out of bed in the morning is not my strong suit - and I made it harder on myself by making bad choices on my rest day.

*AM: 20min Power Test
*PM: Warm Up Run and Training Session

I was on the bike just after 5:30am doing a power assessment.  Based on several solid weeks of Sweet Spot Base training, I expected to see at least a small increase in my power numbers.  Nope.  It actually went down a point - which is not cool.  After doing a little research, it's likely that I just had a bad day and tested poorly, so I kept my initial power number and will try again in 4 weeks.

I got out of work late (what else is new?) and had just enough time to stop home long enough to change into gym clothes, get to the gym, and run half a mile as a warm up before my training session.      I had fun doing Australian rows (called that because you're 'down under' a squat bar) and cursed my trainer's existence when she insisted that not only did I have to do lunges, but that I had to pulse 5 times and then jump in the air to switch legs.  My quads were definitely on fire.  I'll get back to you on how my arms/chest/abs feel in a day or so.

Mr. R&R had dinner waiting when I got home, which is good because I took Sloth Week very seriously - eating all. the. things.  A healthy, balanced dinner was definitely in order.

*Rest Day

I started the day with a gentle 20 minute yoga practice - complete with bunny assistance. After work, I stopped at my mom's house to troubleshoot some computer issues.  Now, had I just gone home after that, I would have been fine.  Instead, I decided to meet Mr. R&R and his friend 'The Tea Snob' out for a beer.  A giant pretzel and two IPA's became my dinner.  This was where I went wrong.  I got home late, poorly fueled, and a little buzzed.  I definitely paid for it for the rest of the week.

*AM: 35min Run (w/ 6x30 second speed intervals)
*PM: 1400yd Swim
*AM: Overslept completely and barely made it to work on time.
*PM: 35min Run (w/ 6x30 second speed intervals)

Obviously I didn't make it to the gym this morning, so the run got moved to the evening.  I made a point to hydrate and fuel properly all day so I was able to recover from my poor choices the night before before hitting the treadmill.  The run went well, but I still had to deal with the missed swim.

*AM: Bike (Haku 60min)
*PM: 1400yd Swim (base intervals)

A double day was on the docket due to Tuesday's mishap.  I was on the bike before dawn and still experiencing weird problems with my bike power.  It was incredibly frustrating trying to crank out big power numbers, but not seeing results.  Thinking about it later in the day, I decided that perhaps I needed to reset my bike in the trainer before Saturday's long ride.

Mr. R&R and I hit the pool on Thursday night and I surprised myself by having one of the faster swims I've had in quite a while.  Part of the workout was 8x25 yards of kick drills - that was painful!

*AM: 35min Run
*PM: 1700yd Swim

Those late night swims do note bode well for early morning wake ups.  I was automatically resigned to a really rough Saturday since I needed to get in a 35 minute run before my long ride.  I dreaded the long swim all day.  The workout called for a 250yd warm up, 1200yds continuous, 250yd could down.  I haven't swam more than 500 yards continuously since last summer.  It ended up going much better than expected - aside from some annoying problems with my Garmin skipping laps, adding laps, etc.  I ended up swimming 2000 yards!

*AM: 35min Run
*PM: Bike (Antelope 90min)

Morning came way too fast after that swim.  I tumbled out of bed just in time to throw on running attire and hitch a ride to the gym with Mr. R&R at 8:15AM.  While he was at his weekly training appointment, I was on the treadmill doing the run that would put me back on track for the week.  It was hot, sweaty, and filled with annoying people on surrounding treadmills (I'm looking at you dude - the guy who talks to his buddy so loudly that I can hear you over my headphones and the racket of the treadmill!).

We stopped at Starbucks for coffee and breakfast, laid around on the couch for a while, and then both of us went down to The Cave for our weekly Long Ride and A Movie date.  My ride was 90 minutes this week - his was 2 hours long!  I sweated and pedaled my way through Mr. & Mrs. Smith and when it was over, it was time for a shower and a late lunch/early dinner at Bel Air Cantina since we were both starving!

While we were walking from our car to the restaurant, we saw an adorable dog that was about to dart onto a busy street - and no human in sight!  I quickly grabbed the pup and discovered that he didn't have a human OR a collar!  Another lady stopped to help out and the owners of the hair salon we were in front of let us bring the dog inside while we figured out what to do.  Eventually, we all decided that she'd take him to the pound and she'd update me with any admission numbers, etc.  I figured if he wasn't claimed, my in-laws might be interested in adopting him.

Fortunately, shortly after we sat down, the lady called me and let me know that she'd found his human!  Apparently the little guy snuck away from his doggy-sitter and she flagged her down when she saw the dog looking out the car window!  I'm really happy that he got to go home.

We ran a few errands, spent most of the night hanging out with Walter and Spot, and crashed hard.

Bunny Feet!

*Run: 50min

10+ hours of sleep - and I was still tired!  I finally dragged myself out the door around 2pm for my run.  Once I got going, it was actually pretty good.  I took the same route I did last time I got to run outside, only this time it was much more muddy.  Ugh.  Still, when I was actually able to run, as opposed to picking my way around ankle deep mud puddles, I felt phenomenal - which surprised me considering I had been expecting a slow slog.

We ran a few more errands, made dinner, did a little more laundry, and now it's time for bed - because I seem to do nothing else these days!

What was the highlight of your week?

Week 1 Stats:
Swim:    3400 yards (1.93 miles)
Bike:      40.29 miles
Run:       12.9 miles
Yoga:      1 practice (20min)
Strength: 1 session (30min)

Total Time:      7 hours, 55 minutes
Total Distance: 55.12 miles

February Totals:
Swim:      7,325 yards (4.16 miles)
Bike:        125.45 miles
Run:         29.14 miles
Yoga:       5 practices
Strength:  4 sessions

Total Time:       22 hours, 30 minutes
Total Distance: 158.88 miles

Cumulative Distance: 325.87 miles - approximately the distance from Milwaukee to Cincinnati, OH!