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.