A Tale of Two Bike Rides (and a run)

I’m taking advantage of my recovery week to catch up on my blog posting and other things around the home. The training started to take a toll on me last week, and was evident when I took my son’s Spider-Man towel to the pool. The dirty laundry was overflowing a bit and paperwork threatened to cover the kitchen counter.

This is week 8 of 16, and what I thought would be my biggest challenge of half Ironman training is turning out to be different from what I expected. I thought the hardest part would be in cutting back on running.  With only three runs a week, I thought I would miss it more. Actually, I have so much to work on with my weaknesses (swim and bike), I haven’t really had time in my brain to miss those extra runs. Even on Marathon Monday (Boston Marathon day), I was excited to track the runners from my group and I was again inspired to work hard, but it was my rest day and I needed the break.

Especially after a tough bike ride two days before.

As it turns out, I’m not great at cycling and I have a lot to learn. Every Saturday for my long ride, I have been dealing with the wind. But on this day, it wore me out. The route I ride, with a few variations, is out and back. That means if the wind pushes me one direction, I will be fighting it coming back. This day was especially hard, because some of the gusts and crosswinds made me wonder if I’d end up in the ditch if I took one hand off for a drink. Needless to say, I didn’t fuel enough either. In the last five miles, I tried to be positive. I tried to be excited about the new distance, but I wanted to cry because it was hard. It reminded me of when I trained for my first marathon, and with each new distance I was proud for pushing on, past the point of doubt and pain. I could feel the tension in my neck and shoulders as I finished up my ride, just from controlling the bike. When I pulled into my driveway, I stopped and straddled my bike with my head down. Glad it was done; feeling stronger than I did before.

IMG_7573

40 miles done.

You can tell where the wind beat me up on my bike splits.

IMG_7575

The next week, my plan had a 45 mile ride followed by a 15 minute run and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I tend to get nervous before my long ride every week, and I should be over that by now. I easily expected to be out there for almost four hours (including the run). My husband worked on my bike, and I asked him if he could tilt my saddle forward just a tad. I’ve had some pain toward the end of my rides, and I know I need to go get a bike fit. But this would suffice for now. Then I headed out.

I don’t know if it was the weather (calm and sunny), the adjustments to the bike seat, or the smoother shifting that helped, but this ride was nice. My legs were sore for the first couple of miles (after a 5 mile run the night before), but then I settled into the ride and my head for the next few hours. I finished a 45 mile ride in 3:05:44 – average 14.5 mph – only 5 minutes slower than the previous week’s ride of 40 miles. What a difference! I ran inside to my makeshift transition area, and came back out for my 15 minute run. It was hot outside, and I was sweating. But I got it done! I even started some new tan lines from my cycling shorts. 🙂

IMG_7583

A lot of chocolate milk for recovery all weekend!

My pace was pretty good for the run. It’s such a different feeling going from the bike to the run. I don’t know if you ever get used to it. I’m trying not to think too much about the half marathon I’ll be doing after all the biking (and swimming).

Sunday morning I did my long run of 11 miles. It was so peaceful out – just me and the squirrels. It’s been a while since I’ve run that many miles solo, and it was different.

IMG_7589

 

But for the remainder of my training, I’m going to move the long run to the afternoon – in the heat. That’s what my Ironman friend told me I need to do. Train when you will race. So my days of cool early morning runs are over, and I’ll be sweating it out in the heat from now on.  Oh yeah!

Now I’m off to try to reduce this laundry pile. Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

My First Open Water Swim

Eventually I will get back to writing about running, but I just had to write a post about my first open water swim. From the girl who couldn’t swim freestyle less than a year ago, this was a huge deal for me. I once thought  it better to not know what’s coming and tackle challenges as they come, but in training for this half Ironman – where a time cutoff is my biggest concern – I need to face my fears head on. What better way to do that than to jump out of my comfort zone and dive in! (pun intended)

I found an open water swim clinic on Octane Athletics‘ site. There would be coaches (major plus), lifeguards on the water (double plus) and Trishop was bringing Orca wetsuits to try out for the swim (major double plus). Oh, and they were going to be separating beginners from advanced swimmers. It’s like the whole day was set up just for me! I registered for it and then talked my running buddy into registering for it too.

I’m working on getting her to do an Olympic distance this year with me, but she said I’m on my own for the half Ironman. 🙂

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m getting a lot better being around groups of strangers. I’m no longer intimidated by the triathlete crowd. I’ve been in the running community long enough to know that everyone has different levels and goals. It’s all about bettering myself, and what I can do to get there. I’ve read up as much as I can, so I am familiar with some of the typical concerns of open water swims – wetsuit tightness, panic, limited visibility, etc… My main concern was that my brand new (just purchased that morning) mirrored goggles would leak, and I would have to wear my too tight, limited vision, foggy goggles I wear at the pool.

Putting on the wetsuit was a little tough. I thought it would be like getting pantyhose or compression gear on, but no. It’s not the classiest look either trying to get everything in place. Once it was in place though, I never needed to adjust it.

IMG_7552 IMG_7550

The beginners (and the ones who needed a refresher) were in one group with a coach. We practiced going out in groups: 10 strokes, turn around and come back; 15 strokes, turn and come back, and so on. I was a little timid, and didn’t want a foot in the face (which is what happened to my friend), so I think I was holding back some. Then on one of our starts, I had someone swim over me. That was different!

IMG_7549

We also practiced getting our heart rate up and calming it in the water. I never really got panicked though. Maybe because I’ve had lots of practice calming myself in the pool. Our group got smaller as more people moved over to the advanced group. We practiced beach starts. Running from the sand into the water is a lot harder than it looks!

IMG_7548

Special thanks to my husband who got several pictures of me with my hands on my hips. 🙂

We then took our turn swimming out and around a buoy, and coming back. We buddied up and someone else led us out. I struggled with sighting and the feeling that I was way off course, but I eventually made it to the buoy, treaded water to regroup with my buddy, and we started back to shore. I wasn’t prepared for the current on the way back. Fortunately, I breathe to my left so I didn’t get a face full of water every time, but I sure swallowed my share of the lake fighting it. We rested for a minute, and completed one more lap. This time I worked on sighting better. I found a landmark to keep in my view, and it helped. You can see on the map how off course I was coming back the first lap.

IMG_7561

When we got out of the water, my friend said, “I can’t imagine getting on a bike after this!” I felt the same. We had been in the water for over an hour, and we were wiped out! Oh, and so hungry! But I am grateful that I had the opportunity to do this. It was so beneficial to me, and the $20 I spent was well worth it. I learned a lot and I no longer have fear of the unknown, but I still have a lot of work to do. Swimming is my weak link, but it’s not going to keep me from my big goals.

 

Building Distance (Week 3)

I had almost forgotten what it’s like to push my body to “new to me” distances. Week 3 of half Ironman training started that again for me, and there will be several more to come. The challenge of new distances has kept me on my toes, and I’m enjoying the variety with the three different sports.

(I first intended to combine the last two weeks of training into one post, but I want to give last week’s activities justice, so I’ll hopefully get that post up later this week.)

I finally pulled my bike off the trainer for my long ride on Easter weekend. Up until this point, my longest ride had been 24 miles with a couple of friends back in the summer. It was me trailing them without really knowing what I was doing.

I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I do know I need to be on the road as much as possible to get my confidence and experience level up. So on Good Friday, I set out for 30 miles.

It was a little cooler than I preferred, but I wore my long sleeves and compression socks to help me stay warm. The wind was up a little, as it has been every time I’ve gone for a run lately. It’s definitely springtime here!

My husband and I mapped out a route. A boring out and back route, but there were a couple of hills and a wide shoulder to ride on. By the time I got back home, I was tired from the wind and the distance, and very hungry. Once I had my chocolate milk for recovery, I noticed my appetite vanished for a few hours. It reminded me of when I first started running long and I would lose my appetite after a run.

IMG_7507

 

The next morning, I went for a long run with the Saturday morning crew, and then went to the pool after picking up my younger daughter at home.  She’s been begging to go swim with me, so I got her up and we hurried to the pool. We had to be done before the 10 am Aqua Zumba class, so I was on a mission to finish my distance. The pool was busier than I expected for a Saturday morning, but it was good because the water was choppier than when I usually swim. Abby was in the same lane as me, using the kickboard so that was good experience as well. I finished up my longest swim session thus far, and called it a day.

IMG_7503

It was actually 1200 yds, but I had a calf cramp that started another length.

Except that we still had an egg hunt to do. I was surprised that my oldest daughter wanted to hunt eggs too. After the first round, they told me it was too easy. So I had to go back and hide them again.

 

IMG_7518IMG_7515

I love that these kids can do things together and enjoy each other’s company.

Easter was damp, cool, and windy, but I had a short bike ride planned. I enjoyed a nice recovery ride with my ten year old, with a lot of loops around lightly traveled streets, and time in the school parking lot. I practiced starting and stopping, turning and clipping in/out. There’s only one way to get better on the bike. Practice, practice, practice.

IMG_7529 (1)

 

It may not have been speedy or far, but I was able to combine family time with training, and to me that’s a win.