Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week 14 Recap

14 down, 2 to go. How is it that the last 14 weeks have gone by so slowly and yet so quickly? I sure don't know.

44 miles seems like so few! 
One swim & 10 minutes of biking away from perfection
I keep thinking, "What will I do with all of my free time once Muncie is over?" and the reality is that I don't feel overtrained. At least, not in that respect. I don't feel like I've had to sacrifice time and all that to get the training in. I take my Mondays and Fridays and I keep them sacred for the recovery gods. The two-a-days are getting a little old, but all in all I kinda like it. Probably won't be going for 11 mile runs on Sundays after Muncie though. Nope, probably not.

Best Workout of the Week
This is a tough one just because there wasn't anything super memorable. I felt pretty good Monday after Sunday's 50 miler but Tuesday I was a little sore. Tuesday morning's run was a little tough to say the least. Worse was Tuesday's swim. I definitely regretted blanking on my swims the last 2 weeks. My "easy" brick Wednesday was really nice. I kept up some decent paces and felt great on the run. That Wednesday-Thursday combo has been really hard because Thursday's volleyball gets in the way of doubles on Thursdays. I've been doing my 45 min cycle on Wednesday and the shorter recovery ride Thursday but....that's not what my plan says and I think i'm seeing why. Live and learn, right?

Best Meal of the Week
I'm still super hyped on eggs. Egg sandwiches with mexican cheese on english muffins. Omg. Perfection. I had one for dinner Tuesday night and one for lunch today. They're so damn tasty. I think it's the salt that I'm craving (since I salt the shit out of my eggs so they taste less like, well, eggs!). But I'm proud of myself for getting in more protein, if nothing else. My love of sweets continues. It's my downfall.
This week begins a three or four week stint for me of 4 day work weeks. It cannot come at any better time. Work has been super hectic lately, in a couple of different ways. My work is so strange because it is a constant onslaught of stuff to do. It never stops. You get two things done and 2 more are waiting and 5 more get added. That's the nature of it. But then there's the emotional/psychological stuff. It takes the right balance of disconnection and empathy, compassion and coldness to get out alive. I lacked that balance significantly the last two weeks. It's just so funny that the things that make people good social workers, good public defenders, are what makes them weak and vulnerable to the casualties of compassion. It's so much easier being a heartless sonofabitch!

Hopefully this week - and the promise of a 4 day weekend! - brings a new adventure.

Happy Running!

How do you deal with the work/life balance? 
Eggs - yes or no? How do you cook them? Teach me!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Week 13 Recap - Begin the Taper

Quicker (than normal) recap tonight since we're gearing up for the big premier of the second season of True Detective. Not sure it can be better than the first but we'll give it a whirl

Big fat ZERO for swim this week. I'm hoping to get both of them in this week. Getting to the pool lately has been really tough and my swim fitness is high enough I haven't really felt the need. That's gotta change though if I'm going to toe the line in Muncie.

Best Workout of the Week
Without a doubt, the 50 miler. I originally planned to do the 45 mile ride that I was on when my spoke broke a couple weeks ago. However, Tropical Storm Bill in all it's glory didn't really seem to cooperate Saturday. The Bike Club had a Century/50 miler on Sunday though that seemed like a good fit. It was titled, "A Good First Century" so I figured the 50 miler had to be fairly easy too. My buddy Jon, from the alternate hill sessions, was going to I knew I wouldn't be alone. It was a great ride! Maybe a little slower in parts than I would've liked but i'm glad we took it so easy. I drank easily (almost two bottles) and ate a bonk breaker in several different sessions. I'm so proud of myself for how far I've come on the bike!

Next up: TRUE taper. 3 weeks to Muncie!

Happy Running!
What was your best workout this week?
Taper: Love it or hate it?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Week 12 Recap: Better Late than Never

There's nothing wrong with getting to a weekly recap on Wednesday, right? Right! Week 12 was the last week of Peak Training and it was highlighted by my second Olympic Tri. Lets take a look.

Obviously, I didn't get in as much as I planned but that was only because of the race. My legs were pretty trashed from Tuesdays hill sessions so I opted out of any Saturday workout. I think it paid off though because I had a great race!

Best Workout of the Week
Obviously, Race the Bridge! It was a great race for me and gave me some much needed confidence on the bike and run. But since there'll be a whole recap on that race, I"ll pick something else. I went to a group Hill workout on Tuesday that was a lot of fun. It was runners from the Landsharks and other local groups. We tackled a pretty big hill in Cherokee park. We did a warm up together and then either 6 or 8 repeats up the .25mi hill with easy recovery back down.
Average pace during hill repeats: 11:10. Well I'll be damned. So fast! I'm really proud of myself because I really had to dig in and push it up those hills.

Best Meal of the Week
Definitely the Qdoba quesadilla and nachos I had after the race Sunday. Other than that I've been really in to eggs this week. I've been frying them and putting them on toast. I'm really trying to focus on getting more protein in my diet so Eggs seemed the right way to go.

The rest of the week was fairly uneventful (in a good way). This week I've been at a work conference so Im more behind than usual with my blogging. Hopefully I'll have my recap up before the end of the week. Got a good run in on Tuesday and a good ride today so I'm not letting the conference get me off my game. We're officially in the taper phase. 4 weeks till Muncie!
Hills hurt
Post-Race Pool time!
New Bed for the Ellie dog

Happy Running!

What's your favorite post-race meal? 
Do you like eggs? I'm trying. Still hate avocado. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Week 11 Recap - Hill Climbs & Bike Trouble

Didn't quite get everything in I'd hoped this week, but I made some big strides in key areas. Lets check it out.

62 miles seems like a lot

So even with my cross training minutes I was way under my target. I got 2:00hrs/26 miles into my 3:15/45 mile bike ride on Saturday and had mechanical issues. Had to have Hubz come get me. Boo. I'm confident I would've finished the ride, but who knows maybe it was for the best. Legs were still really tired for today's easy run. Now lets just keep fingers crossed that Ghost is back up and running in time for Race the Bridge this weekend!
Waiting for Hubz to come pick us up

Best Workout of the Week
The triathlon club does a hill session on Wednesday nights. When they started posting them I emailed the ride captain because it seemed pretty intimidating. He told me I should maybe work on some smaller climbs before tackling these. Wednesday there was an 'alternate' route that tackled some of the 'moderate' hills. There were three of us and I had a blast! I was super anxious, not knowing anything about the route or the hills, but they made sure not to drop me and I hauled some ass. We met up with the non-alternate (read: badass) riders and then headed back to our car. I'm glad we got done when we did because the sun was setting, but I had a blast!

On top of Spikert Knob
Trying to show how high we were
Favorite Meal of the Week
Ok so I'm cheating a little bit. Friday night I went to one of those paint & sip things with my mom. Since we'd be gone all night (and drinking) I got the Hummus Trio from Zoe's kitchen and ate all of it. It was SO good! Loved the three different types of hummus (particularly the pesto) and the chips. Also loved having so much fun with my mom. I got her the gift certificate for her birthday and hoped she'd picked me. We both better keep our day jobs, but I think our masterpieces turned out great!

Everybody keep your fingers crossed for Ghost this week. The wheel guy is in the shop tomorrow so I should know something then. Also, I'm hoping to do an open water swim in the Ohio river tomorrow so definitely hoping the projected thunder storms hold off!

Happy Running!

Have you ever had bike mechanical issues? How bad?
Do you love my painting? How much would you pay for it? 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Your Strongest Muscle - 5 Tips for Mental Toughness

My body got me through my first half Marathon. My brain got me through my 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th.

The same goes for the marathon. I got to the finish line on the first one because I trained my legs, lungs, muscles, and bones to run that far. My second one I trained my brain to know I could run that far.
The more I train the more mental running and triathlon are for me. This is particularly true as I tackle the bike because I can't listen to music. I have to rely one hundred percent on my brain to not only occupy the free time but to avoid negativity setting in. So how do you train your brain?

1. Visualizations
I've been using these since I was swimming in AAU meets as a 12&Under. Essentially you run through your event in your head, executing everything perfectly. I find this particularly helpful for pre-race anxiety. If you're like me and have trouble sleeping before races, try closing your eyes and running your race in your head. What will the start line feel like? The first mile? The first water stop? Feel yourself taking each perfect step, enjoying every moment. I did this the night before TriFest and I really think it helped me during the race. It felt like I'd already done it!

It can also help you during the race if you start feeling the negative vibes attacking. During the 2012 DerbyFest Marathon I hit the wall big time at mile 20. I started imagining myself not at mile 20 but at mile 25.5, taking effortless strides along the finish chute, seeing my dad, my mom and Hubz waiting for me. It helped take me out of the bad moment I was in and put me in a good one.

2. Have a Mantra
This is a big one for me. One of my biggest challenges in this training cycle has been negative vibes/words on the bike. I can't help but think, "what happens if I fall?" etc. I can't just have empty headspace, so I have to fill it with something. During TriFest I just kept repeating, "Head down and pedal," and "up, Up, UP" on the hills. It doesn't have to be catchy and it doesn't have to make sense to anyone but you. For some people it's the name of the person they're racing for, or a song lyric.

My mantra for Muncie: How do you eat an elephant?
3. Inspiration Wall/Space
Sometimes the mental hurdle isn't during the workout, it's just getting to the workout. Set aside some space for yourself to post inspirational quotes, pictures, or images that will motivate you. I put mine in my closet. Ads from Runnersworld and Triathlete Magazine, photos from past races. Whenever I get up in the morning I see them and it instantly makes me feel strong and ready for the workout. Back when I was getting in shape for the wedding I kept a picture of my wedding dress (with the beautiful, thin, elegant model in it) above my TV. I started that chick down while I did my insanity workouts. She stared back at me whenever I tried to sit on the couch eating ice cream. It worked. If you're training for a big race set aside some wall space or a shelf for your medal as a reminder of whats to come.

4. Carry a token
Running and training can be so emotional for me. I haven't quite figured out why, but there's a connection I feel with myself and my body that I only get running. In 2011 the Chicago Half Marathon was on September 11. The Hubz gave me his Combat Action Badge, a medal he earned during his service in the Army in Iraq, to carry with me. It was immensely helpful to know that he was there with me. More than that, anytime I had doubts or felt like I was slipping I could run my fingers over that badge. I knew that if he had the strength to go to war, I could finish the race. I plan to have it on my bike at Muncie. I've seen people run with pictures of themselves 100lbs/etc. heavier in their spi belt. I've seen people write the names of those they're running for on their hands or arms. Sometimes we need something bigger than us to keep us going!

5. Breathing
If you can't get your mind together, then just ignore it entirely. Incorporating some of the breath work from yoga into my running has been hands down the biggest improvement in my running. In a recent article for Runnersworld, Coach Jenny Hadfield tells us that breath is "both a release valve and a trigger for your nervous system." So basically when you breathe like a panting dog, you send your body into panic mode. Conversely, "when you breathe in through your nose, deeply into your belly, and out through your mouth, this has a calming effect on the body and mind." She's right. During periods of stress or pain if I take a second to just focus on slowing down my breathing I feel worlds better. It's shown in my heart rate training too. Focus on breathing when heart rate gets too high has helped me to calm, slow, and get back into the zone.

So there you have it, Five things I've found helpful to get my sometimes ill-trained, under achieving self to the finish line. These aren't any substitute for actual training, of course, but hopefully they can help improve your training. After all, you have to practice how you race. So start practicing them during your daily routines. Above all, don't let your strongest muscle go untrained!

Happy Running!

How do you stay mentally tough? Any other tips to share?

*Also I'm aware the brain isn't an actual muscle. Writers license, geez!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday - Transitions

Today I'm linking back up with Courtney at The Tri Girl Chronicles, Phaedra at Blisters and Black Toenails and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What?!for Tri Talk Tuesday. This month's topic? The transition!

Transition can be like a black hole for me. If you don't have a game plan going in, you can lose a lot of time. Now maybe over an iron distance race a few extra minutes on your transition don't really matter, but they definitely do on a sprint! So how do you nail your transitions?

Like the rest of your race you should have a strategy for your transition. Don't just lay everything out willy-nilly and waltz through T1. One of the best pieces of advice I've taken from Don Fink's "Be Iron Fit" (which you really should read) is the Top Down/Bottom Up method. When you go through transition take everything off from the top down, then put everything on from the bottom up. I literally say it outlaid in transition as I'm rushing.

T1: Goggles off, Cap Off, wet suit off (if no stripper), bike shoes on, nutrition in belt/pockets, sunglasses on, helmet on --> GO!
T2: Helmet off, shoes off, socks on, shoes on, race belt on, visor on --> GO!

You should also have a good checklist of what you need for the transition area. I lay mine out before the race in our spare bedroom. I have a list for 1) Before the race 2)  Race Nutrition/Hydration 3)Swim 4) Bike 5) Run 6) Post Race. The night before I lay it all out by category, then carefully pack it in my Transition bag.
From before Tri Fest
On race day, I tend to lay out my transition area with bike in the front and the run in the back. Extra nutrition and sunscreen go in the middle. I've also done it with the bike on the left and the run on the right, since my transition area was a little cramped once. It really just depends on your own mojo.

Whatever your strategy, come up with set it up, stick to it and...

Transitions, like running, swimming, and biking, are an event in the race and should be practiced just like the other three disciplines. My training plan has several workouts that require a transition-type setting. The practice of going from one discipline to another isn't just good for your body -  it's good for your brain. Put yourself through the rigors of a transition well in advance of race day. How do you practice for transitions? Early and often!

I'm of the opinion that I'd rather do something once slowly than several times quickly. For me, If i take the time to breathe and focus in transition then I may lose a few seconds, but I gain a lot in confidence. For instance, in Shelbyville this spring I threw my socks on over wet feet with the sole goal of getting on the bike as fast as possible. No Bueno. I had to fiddle with them in T2, I had to stop on the run several times and fiddle with them. During Tri Fest I decided to lose some time and actually sit down and take the time to put my socks on. Loads better. I'm also picky about my hair. I hate my hair bouncing around crazy. I hate flyaway in my face. So I take a few extra minutes to fix my braids/bun/ponytail but spend the bike/run happier.

Whatever your set up for the transition, if you plan, practice, and have patience with it it will enhance your overall race experience.

I am really enjoying the link ups and reading all of your blogs! Thanks for your comments last month - it is so nice to know people are actually reading :)

Happy Tri-ing!

Transitions: Love 'em or hate 'em? Any tricks you can share?