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.

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40 miles done.

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

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

Training: Weeks 1-3

Last week I finished up week 3 of Dallas Marathon training, and had my first 40 mile week in months. At this point, I’m enjoying a cutback week and am feeling pretty good about my training so far.

When I wrote about my training plan that I was creating for myself, I failed to mention the resources I was pulling from. I started right where my summer mileage left off and used the Marathon Own It plan from the Train Like a Mother book as my guideline. I then used the McMillan Running calculator to plug in my training paces and recommended workouts.  I have had the McMillan Pro for a few years to get the extras, and for $2 month, it’s worth every penny. These two resources are what I used to train two years ago when I set my PR. The main differences for this year though – lower mileage with five days of running (instead of 6), and I’m still biking and swimming.

Of the two hard days last week, the one I was most worried about went off without a hitch. Early Thursday mornings follow late bedtimes on Wednesday. Generally, we don’t get home from church until after 8:00. Then everyone needs a snack before getting ready for bed. If I’m in bed before 10 pm it’s surprising. So when I looked closer at the training plan, and started to add up mileage, I didn’t know how it would get done. 4x3000m @ marathon pace (9:09) with 800m recovery. That didn’t include the warmup and cool down. I converted the meters to miles beforehand and gave myself a little over an hour and half to get it done.

Surprise! Not only did I manage to get the math right (my lap button will track lap pace but not lap distance – try adding 1.86 miles each set – I’m an English major), but I also got all the repeats done, and managed under race pace for all of them. That felt pretty amazing.

BAM!

BAM!

I wish I could have captured exactly how beautiful it was to see the moon throughout this run. From an orange glow, to a white Cheshire cat smile, to the early moments of dawn, I watched the crescent smile the entire time.

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At the end of my run, and I can still see the moon.

 

Saturday’s long run called for 16 miles, middle 6 at race pace. I thought about what miles I would be running with the group, and decided I probably wouldn’t be able to manage that pace. I also worried about pushing too far since my last week’s run was 13 miles. I don’t usually like to jump more than two miles up at a time. But then fall weather showed up, and there was a scheduling conflict too that needed me home earlier. The weather was wonderful! I forgot what it was like to be able to breathe while running. I posted this comment to our Facebook group after the run: Unless you have slogged through hot, humid summer running, I don’t know if you can truly appreciate how wonderful the weather was this morning. Based on the comments and feedback, others felt the same way.

Somehow I managed to get all 16 miles done, and ran miles 6-12 at 9:11 average pace. Not quite my race pace of 9:09, but gosh darn it was close enough!

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My legs had forgotten what a long run feels like, and they were tingling all day to remind my brain. Compression socks were on and I was wiped out. But, boy did it feel good!

On Sunday afternoon, I took my bike back out for cross-training day. This time I didn’t fall, and no dogs chased me. The funny thing is, I wasn’t afraid of falling until I did. I also wasn’t really afraid of dogs chasing me until it happened. Now I’m more hesitant, but I suppose it gets easier with time.

I’ll be racing my first 5k since May this Saturday. I don’t expect to set any records, but I’m going to have fun. I love local races.

Oh, and congratulations to those who are getting to register for the Boston Marathon this week. I admire the hard work and dedication it takes to get there. Someday, I hope to be there too.

Have a great week!

 

 

 

Teaching Moments

I know this is a running blog, but I believe this post applies to running and other areas of life as well.

Sunday I pulled my bike off the trainer and went to ride with my husband. It had been 3 weeks since I’d taken it outside. I have been on the road twice since I got the new pedals and shoes, and haven’t been back out since my first fall (which was the same ride I got chased by a German Shepherd).

So on Sunday when my husband and I went to ride, I felt a little off. I couldn’t clip in easily when we started. Then we went a direction where I thought there would be little traffic. There wasn’t. Nothing clicked, and it was making me nervous.

Back home to switch bikes to ride with him. Back on the trainer went the road bike.

That evening I practiced. Clip in. Clip out. Clip in. Clip out. Boring. Boring. Boring.

Yesterday evening, I decided to take a short ride on the road. My 9 year old son asked if he could ride with me. We decided we would go to an empty parking lot down the road. He could ride freely, and I could practice starting and stopping. Clipping in and clipping out.

At the end of our driveway, when we were ready to take off, I had my second fall. He dropped his bike and ran over to me to make sure I was okay. He helped me stand up, brush the gravel off, and check my wounds. He looked at me and asked if I wanted to go back in. “No, I’m okay. Let’s go.” I tried again. I started to get nervous. Then again. Come on Eileen, I thought. Finally, I got my left foot clipped in and we headed out. We rode in the parking lot until I was more confident in my ability, and he was tired. Then we headed home.

I realized later that was a teachable moment. I could’ve reacted any number of ways when I fell. But I chose to stand up, dust myself off, and say “Let’s go.” I’m hoping my son will remember that I didn’t give up when learning something new. He watched me keep at it until I got it. That’s the lesson. Of course then he told me, “I think you should leave the clipping in to Daddy.” Just because he didn’t like to see me get hurt.

One of the reasons I was hesitant to get into triathlon was fear. Fear of falling, fear of not being able to figure it out. Fear of moving outside of my comfort zone.

Will I fall again? I’m sure of it. Will it hurt? Of course. But I’m going to keep at it.

Hopefully my shoes (and bike) will survive the learning curve.

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Marathon Training and My Plan

I made it through week one of marathon training and the first week of school. No one was late and we didn’t forget anything major, and I got all my planned miles in. The first few days of ironing out the routine were a little shaky, but I’d say the first week was a success.

I completed the outline of my training plan for the Dallas Marathon, and my weeks will be made up of 2 easy runs, 2 harder runs (1 speed, 1 other), and the long run. I threw in a cross training day too. This is different from what I’ve done in the past, where I’ve run for six days and taken one rest day. My mileage won’t be as high as it has been in the past either. Goal is to get to race day healthy and happy – and with my family still speaking to me. This is not the year for me to try to qualify for Boston. Physically, I’m not there. But also, this is my daughter’s senior year. There will be a lot going on this fall/winter and I want to be present. Not just in body, but my mind too. This is her year, not mine.

That being said, a sub 4:00 marathon is my goal. It is in reach, if I’m smart. That’s why I designed my training. I did the same thing two years ago, and ran my PR of 4:02:03 in Houston. I know my body and I know how I can push my limits – most of the time. Occasionally, I have surprised myself with a faster than I thought possible race. So this will do until the day I can justify spending money on a coach (see above high school senior – followed by two more siblings).

Last week, I had some pretty good training days. It was a nice mix, and I kept my easy days at slower pace. Mostly due to the humidity, but also because I want to be able to have good paces on the other days.

I threw in a hill day.

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Saturday’s long run was faster than I expected.

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The face of the watch doesn’t tell the whole story. My hips were sore from standing and working the concession stand at the football game Friday night. I only got 5 hours of sleep that night. I ran the first 5 miles with the group, and I was at the back of the pack running 9:20s. That was a blow to my ego, but I had to remind myself that I was running farther and needed to do my pace. Then there were some slower miles with my running friend. I picked up for the last mile and a half at race pace. Overall, I’m pleased with how it went. It was the longest run I have had since the Wounded Warrior half in June.

I outlined the rest of my year by sprinkling in some races throughout my training plan. This is my tentative plan to get through December:

September 19th – local 5k – Sherman Autumn Arts Fest Run. This one I do every year. It’s a family event.

October 10th – Showdown half marathon in Fairview

October 25th – Monster Tri (?) in Denton – Why yes, I am still biking and swimming, just not as much as when I was training for my first tri.

November – This month is still up in the air. Last year I ran the Blue Red Run half marathon, which is exactly four weeks before the Dallas Marathon. I’ll see how the training goes as it gets closer.

December 6th – Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio half marathon – With Team Chocolate Milk! This is a taper week for me, and what better way to make sure I run easy than enjoying the scenery of a city I’ve never run. I will probably even take pictures at this one.

December 13th – Dallas Marathon! This will be the year for perfect running weather. 😉 It’s long overdue.

I’m looking forward to my training and the races.

Do you have races planned out through the end of the year?

 

 

 

Murphy’s May

Can I just tell you how glad I am to be in a new month?

May was rough. Murphy’s Law hit us big time. It actually started late April with the dryer and washer breakdowns, then on Mother’s Day with the flooding under the house. The day after prom, when I was totally sleep deprived, I got this gem of a text from my 12 year-old (who is one tough wake-up on school mornings).

From the child who hates to get out of bed in the mornings.

Note the time of this text.

 

We had more flooding exactly two weeks after the first time. Apparently we are okay unless it rains hard all night long on an already saturated ground. But it sure does bring a family together when you’re working together to bail out water. The concern was to get it down enough so our entire first floor didn’t flood.

I started back on my Racing Weight guidelines to try to shed the 10 pounds that doesn’t seem to want to move. I set out for my 10k time trial – to get a base time – on Wednesday. I found out that I can’t run as fast as I thought I should be able to. I ended up calling it done at 4.5 miles. My legs were Jell-O. After my mile cool down, I got attacked by mosquitos on my walk back to the car. I was frustrated and disappointed in my pacing. Then I had to remind myself: patience, progress. I cannot pick back up where I left off almost 7-8 months ago (peak marathon training). I am still healing with the injury. I am trying to lose weight by eating higher protein and less carbs. Those three things will affect my speed, and I need to focus on what’s most important right now, and that’s to get my foot completely healed and drop the weight. The speed will come later. And that’s okay. Oh, and I have lost 3 1/2 pounds since March. Yay!

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So this is my base.

 

 

On Friday we had another heavy rain that lasted all night. I don’t know how much rain we got, but it poured for hours. I couldn’t sleep for fear of flooding again. I woke up every hour to check under the house and it seemed we were okay. Until 5 am when I planned to get on the treadmill. I learned how awesome my kids are, as they got up without complaint and helped me out. My husband was driving through that mess of a storm that stretched over 500 miles. He was worried about me. I was worried about him.

Thankfully, our heavy-duty sludge pump we ordered after the second incident came in that afternoon.

How many pair of running shoes could I get for the cost of this pump?

How many pair of running shoes could I get for the cost of this pump?

We were able to pump the rest of the water out in less than 5 minutes, and now the rain is out of the forecast for the next week. Of course.

Saturday long run was in the rain, but thankfully the lightning stayed at bay so we could get the miles in. 12 done to prepare for the Wounded Warrior half and I felt pretty tough splashing through puddles like a little kid. It did bring along some major Sunday soreness though. But I feel better going into this race with a couple of double-digit runs.

At least I feel I’m getting stronger, since I’ve been on the real-life cross-training/strength routine of dumping buckets of water, mowing and weed eating, dumping more buckets, and even more buckets of water. Whew!

I’ll be doing real push ups before I know it! 🙂

Bring it June!

Back to Training

I’ve been trying to pay attention to my body as I continue to recover from my plantar fasciitis injury. Beginning last Wednesday, those first painful steps in the morning were not as painful. I could almost walk normally straight out of bed. The morning hobble is disappearing, and I am holding my breath.

 

My plan for the Saturday long run was to try for a mile or two over what I ran the week before. So 8-9 was my plan. Our running group meets on Saturday mornings, and depending on who’s there and how I feel usually determines my pace. This week my running friend was out of town for a 5k, and the rest of the group was all guys most of whom are faster than me on their slow day. There are a few variations of the route that we run, and this time most everyone was going to do the 5 mile loop. As always, when running with people who are faster, I push myself more than I would on my own. Around the three mile mark, they took a break and waited on me where the turn is to go back or another route. I was grateful for the chance to catch my breath. All my miles were just under 9:00 pace. As we headed back, they continued various conversations while I listened and tried to slow my breathing. Topics ranged from a “beerathon” to DNA and evolution. At the end of the loop I continued around the park for another mile with one of the other runners to finish just over 6 miles – the fastest consecutive miles I’ve run since April 11. My foot was fine, but I didn’t want to push too hard. I felt like I was making progress and was on cloud nine for the rest of the morning.

IMG_5880Sunday I planned to ride my bike. I’m trying to limit the days I run to five per week, and then cross train the other two. Well, the outside bike ride didn’t happen. The first round of storms hit right after we got up. Heavy rain. Which was on top of the heavy rain we received Saturday (which was sitting on top of Thursday and Friday’s storms too) After we got home from church another round of rain moved through. My husband checked the radar, and it looked like it was one round after another. I gave up waiting on a thunder-free window and rode the stationary bike for an hour. Then I ran two miles on the treadmill to see what that felt like after the bike. As soon as I stepped off the treadmill – and I was very sweaty – the tornado sirens in town started going off. It was 3:25 pm. I huddled in the downstairs bathroom (currently under remodel) shower stall with our two youngest kids while my husband was on the deck as lookout. My kids were not happy about being trapped with me and my sweat. My 9 year old told me I smelled bad, and the 12 year old opened her container of yogurt for a better aroma. They love me so much! When the sirens stopped, I had enough time to run upstairs,dry off, and refill my Nuun before the sirens started up again. There was so much rain! When the third round of sirens went off, water started flooding in the bathroom. There was so much water under the house. I put one child on siren watch and started scooping up water with cups and towels. Eventually the rain stopped, but I ended up under the house helping my husband dump buckets of water out of the opening down the hill. My upper body muscles were aching and a few times I didn’t think I could lift another bucket. My husband said, “If you can run a marathon. You can do this.” At one point I became overwhelmed and started crying. He said, “Do you cry when you run a marathon.” Why yes, sometimes I do. We got the water low enough to manage, called it done, showered and went to eat. It was after 7:00 pm.

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Messy Mother’s Day

 

The next day every muscle in my body hurt – but my heel felt great!

After mowing Monday evening, I discovered that even though I was sore, I am getting stronger. The core work I’ve been doing the last few months is paying off. I decided to do my long run Tuesday morning since I’m running a 5k Saturday. This will be my first race since I took a break to heal my foot. It wasn’t a fast long run, but it’s the farthest I’ve run since my last half marathon.

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After all the activity the past few days, I feel like I’m training hard again. My quads and hamstrings are sore, my upper body is tense, and I pulled out my ice packs after my long run. I’m building up for my next half marathon in June, but remembering to be patient with my body. I was discharged from my Airrosti doctor today with instructions to call in the next few weeks if it doesn’t continue to improve, and to keep doing my balance and strength exercises. I’m hoping to see all this strength work pay huge dividends when I start marathon season.