Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Hard is What Makes it Great

It was a hard week. And, of course it's's training. At first, I was going to title this week's blog post, "Training Sucks" but then got out of my pity party and remembered a scene from one of my favorite movies, A League of Their Own:

Most of my training this week was hard, both mentally and physically. I know it's part of the cycle, but it took a lot of mental strength to get my training completed. Part of it was some fatigue, I think, and gave myself an extra rest day where I literally slept most of the day.

I've been doing some reading on swimming technique and decided it was time for me to grow up and start bilateral breathing. Swim power comes from the core through proper body rotation. Breathing to one side generally results in poor body rotation on the opposite side, leading to asymetrical swimming. So, I'm retraining myself to breath bilaterally, every third stroke. And it's hard. It's like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. But it will get there. Here is a great web resource on bilateral swimming:

This morning's drill was speed work, 20x75m tempo swim, with warmup and cool down. I worked on my bilateral breathing with it. I felt awful about a third of the way through. Was really tempted to quit and really had to talk myself in continuing, but I did it. However, 100m into my 200m cool down I realized I was going to vomit--and fortunately made it out of the pool to the locker room toilet. It was all water...seems I had a belly full of pool water from the mouthfuls I got learning how to breathe on my left side. Ugh. What a fitting end to a hard workout.

Apparently I'm trying to run faster...faster than I can right now. I had a 30 minute easy run scheduled early in the week which turned into a too fast out and walk back. I was having trouble understanding what had happened until I looked at my splits:

Turns out I had a very inconsistently paced run, anywhere from 7:54 to 9:30 mile (the 10:59 is part of a walk). I was confused by this at first, and then I realized that my Garmin was not showing me real time pace during my run, rather an average, allowing huge swings in my tempo. No wonder I was exhausted. Grrr! So I changed the settings on my device and had another 30 minute run a couple of days later:

Much more consistent. And no exhaustion or walking. Note, I felt so great at the end of the run that I did a sprint at the end. My overall pace improved as well. So, I need to work on keeping my pace consistent, watching the big tempo swings.

Strength and Conditioning
This was my first week of Coach Jeff Smith's Strength and Conditioning program that I introduced last post. I know it's's just not fun...yet. It's a lot of work for me, which tells me just how much I need to do it. I wasn't able to do three sets of all the exercises, started with one set of each of the exercises this week. I'll increase to two sets next week, then three the following.

It occurred to me that scheduling my workout rest days on my fire department shift days really isn't resting in the desired sense. I scheduled them on shift days because it is just nice to not have to try to run at the station with interruptions for emergency responses, lug my bike and trainer into the station, or get up at 4AM in order to get a swim session in before work. However, I don't truly completely rest or relax when I'm at work. Not only are we running calls and doing drills and other administrative stuff, but I never sleep well, even if we don't get called out at night (pipe-dream, we ALWAYS get called out at night). By the end of this week I could totally tell I was at a rest deficit. I truly could not seem to function and ended up sleeping in very late, taking a long afternoon nap, AND going to bed early. I will be adjusting my workout schedule to include some off-duty rest days from now on. 

TRI NorthWest Rankings
It wasn't all bad last week, well, really, this week wasn't bad, it was just hard. Being new to this sport I don't know about everything that happens, and one of those things this week was the TRI NorthWest Final Rankings for 2011. Turns out, I ended up being ranked #8 overall in Open Women Sprint Distance category and #1 in Athena 39 and Younger Sprint Distance--Wow! Just in time, I guess, I really needed the inspiration and boost this week!

So, remember, it's supposed to be hard...but the end result will be so sweet!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pain in the...Park and Other Places!

Portland Triathlon Club's Pain in the Park
Wow, what a week! Actually, almost two weeks since my last post. Been very busy training, having moved into Base 1 of my Half Ironman training. Granted, I'll move back into a preparation phase again in January when the Half Ironman training plan for the Portland Triathlon Club Race Team comes out, but it keeps me motivated and training for now and I can already see gains in my performance, especially swimming. Here are the goals for Base 1 from

Racing Prep: Begin doing your some of your workouts on terrain which simulates race day.

Training: Here in Base 1, we'll be increasing hours a bit while keeping consistency. We will add 1 hard workout per week-1 workout, not 1 hard day. We will also begin sport-specific strength work by incorporating hills on the bike and run.

Physical Health:
Imagine showing up for a 10k race in peak fitness. Then imagine having to put on a 20lb backpack at the start line to carry to the finish. I want you to get the most on race day from all the training hours you put in. Running fast is helped greatly by having a high strength-to-weight ratio. You don't need to be in peak form at this point in the season, but begin to monitor weight and body fat % for later comparison and take a look at your diet for areas to improve-nothing drastic, just little changes at a time with continuous improvement over the entire training period.

Include with your training log a 1-10 scale for daily nutrition with 1 being a weekend in Vegas and a 10 being a nutritional angel. Rank yourself and monitor areas to improve. Most of us know what is good and bad eating so self seed yourself on this one.

Search out sports nutritional information to read during this period. There's a lot of good stuff out there. Email me if you need some good links.

Mental Health: Day after day it's tough to do all the workouts solo so try to find someone to join you for some of the sessions. A masters group once a week is good (this will be your 1 hard session!), but keep the rest easy. Talk to people in your area in person or via the net to find new routes and training partners.

Efficiency: Aero positioning and power output on the bike oppose each other. Ride lower and your power output will suffer. Begin working this month on flexibility of your back and legs. Come race day, your goal is to be as thin to the wind as possible, for as long as possible without suffering power output. Flexibility is free speed.
Winter Motivation Training
The Portland Triathlon Club started participating in the Winter Motivation Challenge with the USA Triathlon organization December 1. From now until February 29, 2012, those of us who have chosen to participate are submitting weekly mileage, competing against clubs of similar sizes throughout the country. We are also offering prizes for the club members who get the most training done at club workouts. It coincides well with my ramped up training schedule! My mileage since Dec. 1 was:
swim: 5.4 mi
bike: 87.5 mi
run: 20.7 mi
Plus, I worked out at five PTC training events too. Great motivation!

Pain in the Park
One of the PTC workouts I did this week was Pain in the Park. Abbey and Carolyn lead a weekly Boot Camp style workout at various parks in the Portland Metro area through the winter months. This last week was held at Portland's Waterfront Park and was just a ball! After a stretching session, we jogged across the Hawthorne bridge and down to the Eastbank Esplanade where we did intervals of different styles of pushups and hill repeats up one of the ramps; back over the Hawthorne Bridge doing Fartlek run in leap-frog fashion; three sets of a five-station conditioning workout, 45 seconds at each station; a rousing game of Duck-Duck-Goose with abdominal workout if you were tagged "Duck"; and cool down with abdominal workout. Below is a little video of our Duck-Duck-Goose game!

Strength and Conditioning Clinic
Jeff Smith, one of the triathlon coaches from Upper Echelon Fitness, PTC sponsor, put on a Strength and Conditioning Clinic this weekend. Silly me, I thought when I signed up that it was a classroom-style clinic...but no, it was a workout clinic! It wouldn't have been a problem other than I was super sore from Pain in the Park and had a half marathon scheduled for the next day! Oh well, I signed up for endurance racing, didn't I?

The clinic was great! We got a ton of information and I have a lot of working out to do... Jeff's program is a three part strength and conditioning series made up of Base, Preparation, and Performance periods. The Base and Preparation periods are six weeks long and performance is 12-16 weeks during your racing season. During Base, you do Upper Body, Lower Body, and Core workouts, one of each once a week. Prep has Upper and Lower Body each once a week and Core workouts twice a week. Performance has Core and Upper Body one to two times a week and Lower Body once a week. Each period builds on the previous, becoming more dynamic as you progress. We worked on the specific exercises during the clinic, and I tried to keep my reps down as not to work my lower body and abs too much with my race the next day.

Ironman Kona Spin Party
So, I'll be adding Strength and Conditioning Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to my now normal five to six day swim-bike-run schedule. Jeff assured us that the soreness will taper off after the first two weeks...sigh...

And then right after the clinic we had a club spin while we watched Ironman Kona. I really didn't want to walk out on my buddy Zach's Kona Party since I was at UEF already, so...I spun for an hour and figured it was definitely time to take a break. I mean, com'on, I needed to taper sometime!

Holiday Half Marathon
And if all that wasn't enough, I had a half marathon today! I knew it wasn't going to be my best run, but I was really looking forward to seeing how I performed with three workouts the day prior and no taper. I learned so much and I'm really not disappointed at all with my performance. My abs were pretty sore in the morning and my quads and glutes a little achy. I stretched in the morning before I left the house at 6AM.

The race is an out and back on the Bluff, basically miles 17 through 22 of the Portland Marathon course that I did in October. It's flat and familiar.

My first 8.5 miles went fantastic, way better than I expected. I averaged a 9:30 pace and felt so good. I only walked at the water stations which were spaced every two miles. After the turn though, both butt cheeks contracted and turned into bricks! They didn't hurt, but they just kind of seized up. I didn't feel tired otherwise, had great energy, wasn't short of breath, no aches anywhere, just lost a lot of range of motion. I really didn't want to push and cause cramps or tears and I really, really didn't want to push and cramp up my hamstrings, so I walk/ran the rest of the way in, which turned into mostly walk toward the last two miles. Oddly enough, I was only 9 minutes away from my PR, which blew my mind! It was a great learning experience for me to see what I was capable of doing when tired and sore. I really had not tested myself this way before and it taught me a lot about where I am in my Half Ironman training. I think I'm in good shape so far; I've got over 200 days of training before Vineman 70.3 and I know what I can do right now when fatigued. Mentally, this was a great thing for me, something I can carry with me and I'm very glad I did it. I did ice bath when I got home later in the afternoon, something I felt was critical. Brrrr, that was way colder than I remember it being in the summer and fall!

That's it for this week. Whew, that was a lot! Not too much going on for the next couple of weeks. Haven't decided yet which New Year's event I want to do, one at midnight or one later in the day on the 1st...or both, who knows! Either way, I'll blog again in a week or so. Have a great week!