Summer Break and Loving the Run

Late in the spring every year, I start to¬†look forward to the break from getting kids up and to¬†school. I come up with¬†ideas of all I will accomplish through the summer as I take a break from heavy mileage and marathon training. I imagine elaborate strength training sessions, new fitness activities, and sleeping more.¬†Then before I know it, it’s time to start back to school shopping and I haven’t done half of what I planned!

Somewhere along the way, my mind and body ignored¬†the memo to take¬†a break from early morning workouts. With the decision to train for a triathlon, I needed to focus on my weakness and have been at the pool three mornings a week for lap swim – when they open – at 5:30 am. That¬†means I am rolling out of bed no later than 5. Even on my run days, it’s the time of year where “you snooze, you lose” has a different meaning.

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Either skip an evening run, slow way down and suffer through the heat, or just suck it up and get up early.

I am enjoying the variety in my training right now though.

A friend and I have started a 5k beginner’s group, and we meet every Saturday morning to help them. Our goal is to complete the training for a local 5k on August 15th.

I have done some trail running.¬†Under a canopy of trees, it’s almost like air conditioning. It also helps to have that natural slowdown¬†due to the nature of the trail.

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I have combined¬†workouts and done some “two a days.” Swim, then bike. Bike then run. Swim in the am, bike in the pm, etc…I can almost eat like I’m marathon training. Yay food!

I have built some upper body strength in a big way since I learned how to operate the weed eater.

But the biggest thing I have noticed about all this: I appreciate the run so much more now.

Also, I need real trail shoes.

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Do not attempt to run through sun baked hardened footprints (which were made in the mud).

This week I’m getting ready for my first triathlon on Sunday, and yes I’m nervous. It’s all the details I’m worried about, like being last out of the pool. Oh, and let’s just take a minute and celebrate the fact that I can finally make it from wall to wall (25 meters) without lifting my head out of the water. At least once. Sometimes I can do it twice in a row. It’s that whole breathing thing that makes it hard for me.

But I do want to just go out and have a good time. 300 meter swim, 13 mile bike, and a 5k run. Thank goodness I have the running part figured out. What a busy morning it will be!

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Too Hot to Handle 15k

All the rain we had between May and June had me spoiled with cooler temperatures. Then all of a sudden everything dried up and July got hot. Thank goodness we have been doing group social runs at 6:30 on Tuesday evenings. I believe that helped with my heat acclimation for the Too Hot to Handle 15k on Sunday.

This was my third year in a row to run this race. The first two years, I set a PR. This year, I knew it was out of the question. Since I have been building back my strength, I set out to enjoy my July race.

According to my Garmin connect, for the 7:30 start time it was 81 degrees with 70% humidity.

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Oh, the things we do because we love to run!

 

For the first five miles my friend and I ran together chatting just like we do on our Saturday long runs. It was nice to talk about observations throughout the race with someone else, instead of mentally tweeting and blogging through the miles. Without really focusing on speed, by mile five our average pace was 9:01. We both carry a handheld as we run, so it was the aid station just after the turn-around Рnear mile 5 Рbefore we slowed so I could add some water to my bottle. Just before that, I realized I forgot my additional Nuun tablet to refill my bottle. Not a smart move for a heavy sweater.

As we approached mile 6, I started to get the nauseous “I’m running too hard for the heat” feeling, but I kept steady with my friend. I vowed to cross the 10k timing mat before I took a walk break. I sent her on ahead and¬†for¬†the next 3 plus miles I ran/walked with no rhyme or reason to the ratio. I ran until I felt too hot, then I walked until I felt better. I noticed that I could run faster if I took walk breaks, than if I just ran slower. Somehow, even with the stops at aid stations for cold towels, I kept my average pace for those last miles under 10 minutes a mile. That’s progress.

My finish time was 1:29:08 which put me 13th in my age group (out of 72). Not too shabby for a race with almost 800 finishers. Even though I ran slower this year Рby several minutes РI decided not to sweat it (ha!) and be content with where I am.

I ran over 9 miles, with a pain free foot, in the summer heat, without throwing up. That, my friends, is a win.

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Plus, I now have this nice medal combo to show for it.

 

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The next race on my calendar is the sprint triathlon on August 9th.

 

 

 

 

Avoiding the Rut

When I first took a running break (to heal my plantar fasciitis) I bought a bicycle.

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Not really knowing what I was doing (25 years plus since I’d owned one) or what I was looking for, I picked out¬†a bike that would handle road and light trail riding. It didn’t take me long to get comfortable with it, and I was up to riding it for an hour at least once a week. My husband and I have enjoyed some leisurely rides around town together, exploring different neighborhoods and even through a trail at a local park.¬†With all that, my interest with the bicycle was piqued.

I have some friends who have done triathlons, but have not been able to wrap my brain around how you balance training with three sports when I can barely handle one. So I looked around and found a duathlon (run, bike, run) I thought about registering for. I figured I would just ease in and maybe, just maybe, I would try a sprint triathlon next summer after some time in the pool, and after I had secured my comfort zone on the bike.

Then my Ironman friend said, “You can do one this summer. No need to wait.” She told me people use all kinds of bikes, and the swim wouldn’t be a problem because there are people who “run” the pool.

Sometimes, someone just needs to wipe out all your excuses and tell you that you can do it.

So guess what, I’m going to “tri.” This is a great time for me to do something new before I start marathon training again late August. I’m also hoping¬†to see some fitness gains come about as well.

I picked out a sprint triathlon that would give me about six weeks to train. With summertime, I have the luxury of not waking kids up for school so the lap swim times fit my schedule. Oh, and I’m dragging my running friend along too. We’re both newbies to this world. I’ve ramped down some of¬†the running mileage, just as I was starting to build back up. ¬†Even though it’s summer and my schedule is a little more relaxed, I don’t want to miss out on my kids by constantly training.

The swim is my weak link. I can get myself down to the end of the pool and back, but not with my face in the water the whole way. The rotating and breathing, and remembering to use both arms is all a lot of coordination for me. I have this going through my mind every time I want to stop:

I had one day at the pool that involved some tears. Thank goodness for goggles to hide them! My husband called me right after and could tell I was upset. He said something to me that meant a lot. He said, “I would tell you not to quit, but I don’t have to. You don’t give up. So keep at it.”

Then last weekend, I picked up my new road bike that I got a great deal on (from someone who used to run with our group). Now, I get to really face my fears because this one is just a tad faster than my other bike. I’ve got some more riding to do.

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I’m way outside of my comfort zone here, but hopefully this will continue to move me out¬†of¬†the running rut I was sitting in for the past year. I have one more longer distance race this summer – a 15k – on Sunday. After that, I’ll cut my long run down and build up some more on the bike.

Swim. Bike. Run.

For a little while at least.

Have you ever done a triathlon? What was your experience like?