Sunday, February 26, 2012

Since I've Been Home... has been busy!  O picked me up at the airport Thursday evening and by the time I went to bed that night I felt organized and ready to get back in my Pittsburgh groove. 

Good thing because I had two big (HARD) workouts on Friday, one on the bike and one on the run.  I knew on the first interval of the bike workout it was going to be one of those days where you grit your teeth and just get through it.  Not all workouts (or races for that matter!) feel good.  The run intervals were just as evil later in the day, especially because Pittsburgh welcomed me back with 25 mph winds and sideways rain.  I knew I should have kept driving south with Kim instead of heading back home to the north!  :)

Saturday morning I did an early swim and felt like a truck ran over me.  I knew this did not bode well for my swim race today (Sunday) but what can you do?  I tried not to think of it and spent the rest of the day having fun.  I went to watch O run a 20 mile race (he treated it more like a marathon simulation and nailed it!) and also saw a lot of our other triathlon/running friends.  If the windchill wasn't 15, it would have been even more fun!  HA!  :) 

When we got home from the race, there was a package waiting from SOAS, a company that I'm REALLY thrilled about being a part of this year.  They are a great group that make GREAT product!  Oh and not only did they send me some goodies, but one of the SOAS creator's husbands works for Petco, so Roxy got a few goodies too!  She squeaked that stuffed bird for about 15 hours straight yesterday.  ;)    

That looks says "don't you dare even THINK of trying to steal my squeaky bird!"
On Saturday night we had a Ballou Skies photo shoot which was such a fun time.  I was honored to race for Ballou Skies last year and again will be raising money in support of this great cause.  Please visit their website and check out what Ballou Skies is all about!

We were making letters to spell out a word.  I can't wait to see how this turns out! (will be in Triathlete and Lava)

Ryan Ballou and the ladies of Ballou Skies (minus Kim who is in FL right now)

We found a buffalo head in the photography studio and it went downhill from there...  ;)
Then this morning it was time to race again!  This time it was the CMU 1650 swim meet where they have about 10-13 heats of the 1650.  I LOVE this race and have done it for the past couple years.  I think the first time I did it, my time was over 23 minutes.  I've improved a little each year to a 20:41 PR last year.  This year my aim was to PR again but it was not to be!  When I was already feeling HEAVY fatigue about 200 yds in, I knew I was in trouble!  Ouch.  I could kind of see this coming, seeing as how I felt pretty awful swimming on Saturday and am coming off 3 weeks of the hardest training in my life.  It was certainly enough to make me question on Saturday if I should even race!  But I think there is something to be said for not backing down from a challenge or something that feels out of my element (like swim meets). 

Overall the race really wasn't that bad!  I swam very consistent - it was just too slow to be a PR.  I went 20:56 which isn't that far off.  I do feel like I'm a better swimmer now than last year at this time but sometimes the timing just doesn't work for you to feel great at the right time.  I was disappointed for a little bit and then by the time we left the pool I was over it.  :)  The only time I get frustrated with the sport of triathlon is when I do these single sport races (like running races or swim races, etc...) where I KNOW I could be faster if I just wasn't so darn tired from the other sports (ahem...BIKING!).  :)  I told Oscar that after I retire from triathlon I'm going to treat the CMU 1650 swim meet like the World Championships and swim under 20 minutes.  :)

Both Oscar and I in action - him as lap counter, me as drowning swimmer.  :)
And I must ride my bike!  Yes, I'm sure that came as a surprise to many of you.  :)  Hope everyone had a WONDERFUL weekend and has a great start to the week!  Here we come March!  :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

And That's A Wrap!

Wow - HHI Training Camp 2012 is already over!  Three weeks went by in a flash.  It was truly an awesome experience and I'm so, so, so thankful that I was afforded the chance to do such a thing.  I owe a lot of people a lot of gratitude - most notably my parents and Oscar who took care of the homefront while I was off running around in 60 degree weather.  Not fair.  Not fair at all! 

I think I accomplished what I came here to do.  I rode close to 1000 miles in 3 weeks time which nearly killed me but will hopefully in the end make me stronger.  I had some great runs (most especially once Kim came) and got a nice little win in my half marathon the first week I was here.  And I kept up the swim yardage with some great masters workouts (boy do they like fins around here...  ;).  Besides training, I got very caught up on sleep and got a break from the stress of normal life, which in and of itself was a reason to come!

And beyond that, I got to spend some great time with my mom which may be the best part of the whole deal.  We went to the movies and a cooking class (HA!), played tons of Scrabble and just talked a lot - definitely a great time to cherish that most adult children don't get with parents that live 700 miles away.  My mom, admist her busy life (she is the busiest retired person I know with all her volunteering duties!), did what she does so well, which is take care of her family (and adopted family once Kim came).  She fed me better than I've ever been fed before, kept me in clean clothes and kicked me out the door when I didn't want to go do my run.  You can't ask for more than that!  Oh, and she was a lifesaver (literally) not once but TWICE when Kim and I had to call her for rescue from our flat-fest (4 flats in 2 days).  If it weren't for mom, Kim and I would still be walking back to the island from Pritchardville, SC!  :)

About those flats...

Our last 2 days of training (Tue and Wed) of course became epic.  Every time Kim and I train together - epicness ensues!  9 hours in the saddle (which turned into 8:10 due to those aforementioned flats), 17 miles of running and a 4000+ swim between the two days involved 4 flats, lots of bonks, wind, fatigue and perhaps some weeping and gnashing of teeth (oh and a Snickers bar or two).  I wouldn't want it any other way with any other training partner!  Ironically we rarely train together at home but rather save up our miles together for training trips where we ride/run/swim longer than we ever have before.  We mesh well together because Kim's strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa.  Oh and she's flexible and willing to deal with my pouting when I couldn't finish my ride (out of tubes = no more pedaling).  :)  And when we train together, I'm always reminded why Kim is such a great athlete - she deals with adversity well and she never gives up hope.  She pushes on and remains positive.  It was fun to watch.

And so yes, camp was a huge success.  I got a little glimpse of what it's like to train as a professional triathlete and what I learned is - it's a heck of a lot of work!!  I fly home tomorrow to FINALLY see my sorely missed husband and puppy dog!  I have some more big miles to get done to fill out this week and next and then...then it will be March and time to race!  YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Oh, and I do actually have some pictures...  :)

Out of 3 weeks here, I only had to ride inside once because of the weather (big thunderstorms).  Pretty good stuff!

The flats started on Tuesday with me.  I didn't find the staple in my tire until AFTER the 2nd flat.

And today it was Kim's turn.  Needless to say, we got our flat-changing practice in for the year!

This Snickers might be the ONLY thing that got us home today.  That and the promise of Mexican food for dinner.  (thanks mom!  :)

We made it!!

Those who ride together, ice together?  :)

Cricket the wonder-dog.  90 lbs of fur and love!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bike Extravaganza Update

So far so good on bike extravaganza!  I just finished up a long trainer session (yes, I brought my trainer because that's just how I do interval workouts best) and bike day #4 is in the books!  I will say bike extravaganza is quite nice when you know you can ride outside for most of it.  Bike extravaganza is REALLY nice when you know you will soon have a buddy to ride with!  Yes, as I type, Kim is driving southward.  Come Kim, come!  We have many miles left to ride!!  :)

Lest you wonder what becomes of running and swimming during bike extravaganza, I thought I'd give an update on those two sports too.  They are humming along and are going quite well.  My run workouts have either been fast interval type training (ouch, ouch, ouch) which I've done on the high school track here (aptly named "The Nest" since they are the Seahawks...hehehe :) or running long(ish) off the bike.  The exception is today's tempo run that looks scary to me.  Not sure if I prefer the shorter, faster stuff or the more moderate but longer stuff...hmmm....  Mostly I can say I've been feeling strong and just really healthy which is still some what of an oddity to me.  Running and I have always been at odds in that sense - I was always worried about some niggle.  But Dirk has kept me running along smoothly!

Swimming - what can I say?  I always love me a good swim session.  Since in HHI I've kept to about 20K a week - not really a focus when bike extravaganza is going on but still a decent amount of swimming for me!  Even last year I can remember 20K feeling like A LOT of swimming.  So in that sense I've made some progress.  I've mostly been swimming with masters but I've also had a few solo swims which are always good too.  Yesterday was one such day - I did a 5K swim with most of the main set done at 1650 pace.  This is never easy for me.  In fact doing these sets often leaves me wondering "how in the world do I expect to swim an entire 1650 at this pace exactly?!?!"  Yet yesterday felt good.  I liked that.  Part of the main set was 5x(6x50 on :50 as 1 DPS/2 @1650 pace/1 DPS/2 @1650 pace and then 1x300 @1650 pace).  I averaged 3:41 for the 300s which is laughable to some of you but pretty darn good for me!  The nice part was, it felt okay - not total anaerobic torture - and it left me feeling like I just might be able to maintain that for a 1650 (which would yield about a 20:20 which would be a 20 second PR).  Of course I'm sure none of you really care but the point is, it's a set I know I couldn't have done last year at this time, especially by myself in the midst of some big training.  So if/when I get upset with my slow swim times this year, you all can remind me that I am making some forward movement...and that patience is key.  :)

So now that I've all bored you to tears (and don't even have any pictures - BAD blogger!), I'll end my training update!  Hope you all have wonderful weekends!  Happy training!

Okay, the least I can do it dredge up one picture.  In honor of Kim coming I found this one - from 2004!  This would be pre-triathlon days of course.  In order Kyle (Kim's husband), Kim, myself and Oscar (look at all that hair!  :). 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bike Extravaganza

Recovery from the half marathon Saturday has progressed as such: 

I finished racing at ~9:30 am on Saturday.  By 9:35 am I was getting sore.  :)  I jogged easy for a cooldown and ran about 15 minute/mi pace.  Okay, maybe 14 minute/mi pace.  Later that day I rode my bike for 2 hours.  Although I didn't want to and thought mean things about Dirk for making me, it was certainly the right thing to do.  I'm sure it went a long way in helping my legs feel better (and indeed after the ride I felt better than before it).  Of course I also took an ice bath Saturday and stretched and did all that other recovery stuff.

Sunday morning I woke up feeling like a truck hit me.  Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad.  But still, I was definitely sore - my back, my core, my quads, my hamstrings.  OH MY HAMSTRINGS!  I declared on twitter that "I am too old for this stuff."  ;)  Nevertheless I did my 4 hour brick and 4000 yd swim.  It was cold here on Sunday and riding in 30 degrees w/windchills in the 20s made me want to cry a couple of times.  Yet you notice I STILL choose that over the trainer.  Yes, the trainer is STRICTLY for interval workouts when in the south.  ;)

Monday I woke up sore again but much less so.  And with just a swim and lift on the schedule, I had much of the day to feel better.

And so today - today begins BIKE EXTRAVAGANZA!  And this is (part of the reason) why I came to South Carolina.  To ride my bike a lot.  Giddy up Petey!  :)

I will ride my bike every day for the next 9 days.  On day #10 I fly home to Pittsburgh (at which point I will pick up with the riding again on day #11 :).  Over the next 9 days, if the ride is under 3 hours, it's only because there are intervals involved.  There will be many miles and lots of sports drink.  As Michelle (who is also now doing a big bike week) would say, "pass the chamois cream please!" 

Wish me luck!  :)

And Happy Valentines Day to all!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

HHI Half Marathon Race Report

Today I ran a half marathon.  First race of the year done and dusted! 

I often forget how hard it is to race over the off season.  Like it really hurts.  Like ouch.  Like to the guy that made me sprint at the end - I don't like you.  But I did beat you.  Because you WERE NOT passing me in the final 25 yards.  But seriously, that hurt.  ;)

I really had no idea what to expect today.  Somewhere between 1:25 and 1:30?  When I was a runner I could pretty much predict down to the minute what my race times were going to be.  Running workouts gave good indications.  But now my running workouts don't tell me much.  Mostly because I always seem to do them when I'm really tired and often they have very specific paces/HR goals and aren't "all out".  Anyway, my half marathon PR is 1:23:35 which I consider to be one of my strongest stand alone running PRs.  Oh, did I mention that PR was set on a "downhill" course?  Yeah, so it's kind of like saying your half IM PR is how fast you went in Clearwater (ie: not really a "true" PR).  Also, it was set in October (2 years ago?) when I was pretty much in tip top shape.  So I knew I likely wouldn't run that fast - but I was hoping to be within 2-3 minutes.

Why does 6:15 pace feel so easy at the start of a race but not at the end?  This is the question I asked myself a couple times around mile 10.  :)  I started comfortably and went through the first several miles in the 6:15-6:20 range.  Mile 5 somehow ended up being just a hair over 6 minutes but I think that was because I was chasing a women in front of me.  From there, we climbed a relatively large hill and my pace settled down some into the 6:30-6:35 range.  The course is a big lollipop (after an out and back at the start) so when I started heading back towards home I was in a happy place.  Then we climbed back up over that big hill and the wind (OH THE WIND) was just crushing me and then I went to a very NON-happy place.  Not going to lie, the last 2-3 miles were rough business!  But I suspect that's how races should feel.  :)

Doing the math I realized I could break 1:26 which I very much desired.  So I tried desperately the last mile to MOVE MOVE MOVE!  It wasn't until a guy came up behind me and tried to pass me with about 1/4 mile left that I was finally able to GOOOOOOOOOOO.  But I couldn't drop him.  With about 25 yards to go he tried to pass me again.  OH NO YOU DON'T!  I think we pretty much finished in a dead sprint.  Not sure who won but I'm calling it.  :)

I know it looks like I'm trying to elbow him out of the way but honestly, that's just the way I run.  ;)
In the end I did break 1:26 - maybe 1:25:50?  I was pretty pleased with it given the time of year/my training leading up to it/etc.  And technically if I didn't have my downhill PR from a few years ago, this would be my new PR.  :)  Oh and I won, which is a very nice way to start the racing season!!!  Now here's the trick - can I run that OFF THE BIKE in a half IM?  Perhaps a good future goal...  ;)

It was a fun morning because my parents came.  Dad was picture taker and mom did the 5K Walk!  And then we went to the HHI Diner for breakfast.  YUM!

The two racers.  My mom and I!  :)
Hope everyone has a great weekend!  :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spoiled Rotten

It occurred to me while riding this morning that a teeny tiny problem might be developing here in South Carolina.  What is this problem you ask?  Well...I might be getting a little..."spoiled" shall we say. 

Reasons Beth is becoming spoiled:

1) My mom's cooking.  Holy.  Cats.  This might be numero uno in terms of major spoilment.  (I think I just made that word up).  Of course I know how good my mom cooks - I did live with her for approximately 18 years of my life.  But I think I might have forgotten.  Until now.  YUM!  And I think I picked up my early nutrition savvy from my mom also - she clearly has the good tasting NUTRITIOUS and HEALTHY cooking piece down.  I may eat more vegetables in these next couple weeks than I do for 2 months at home.  And I might even like it!  SHAZAM!

2) The weather.  (duh)  I mean really.  I rode today at 10 am in 60 degrees with the sun beating down on my back and I smiled and I was happy and there was no snow and it's early February.  FEBRUARY!  I can definitely see why people who live in warm weather places actually like riding their bikes.  And it's nice to remember that I like riding mine too (when the conditions are nice :).

3) The roads.  And the speeds on which you can ride on the roads.  HHI is as flat as a pancake - only getting up over bridges offer any upgrade whatsoever and you STILL don't need your small chain ring for those.  Let's contrast this to Pittsburgh where I spend at least 50% of my time in my small chain ring.  Ever do Eagleman?  Well HHI is like riding the Eagleman course - windy yes but FLAT as FLAT can be.  And the surfaces of the roads are so nice (I've yet to see a pothole).  Which means I can average 20 mph over a very long distance with my HR in the low 130s.  It shall be a rude awakening when I arrive home and start averaging a much slower pace at a higher HR.  (dang do you feel FAST around here!)

4) Time.  Although I'm doing some (dietitian) work while down here, I'd say it's about 50% of my normal load.  Plus, I don't have normal life duties like paying bills, cleaning the house, going for groceries, etc... that I would have at home.  Even though I have big training hours, I find that I still have ample time in my day to not feel rushed, stressed or have to cut back on sleep.  You can't possibly know how nice this is (well, probably can imagine).  It truly is heaven and I'm SUPER thankful for this opportunity.  It has made me realize just how important it will be to try and mimic this once I do get home to Pittsburgh.  It makes a big difference when you really can focus on training.

5) The people.  I think it might be true - people in the south are just...nice.  They are nice and friendly and don't seem as stressed.  This could all be my imagination but here's what I know - I've swam at masters twice now here on the island and I feel like I've been swimming with my lanemates for years!  This morning we were joking around like old college pals.  And this really shy, quiet girl (hard to believe but very true - "outgoing" is never how I'm described) has been made to feel so at home by so many in the endurance athlete community here. 

I'm sure I'm missing a few other items but these are the big ones.  Definitely spoiled rotten.  Which is why I promised myself I would make the very most of these few weeks and keep that momentum rolling once home!!  Happy training to all!

PS  In case you are keeping score, I did manage to have a day of swimming, riding AND weight lifting/gym time without injury today.  No run-ins with weight bars or trees or other such hazards.  And my forehead is healing up quite nicely (although my swim cap was not feeling very good on there this morning...)!

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's Like Riding A Bike

So far so good in warm and sunny South Carolina!

On Saturday I woke up early and rode my bike about 11 miles to the Piggly Wiggly in Bluffton, start of the area Saturday morning group ride.  I got there a bit early and discovered that at 7:40 am, the Piggly Wiggly gets the BBQ going!

Ribs for breakfast anyone?

Now I haven't been on a group ride for about...oh...5 years.  As most know, unless the group is made entirely of triathletes, group rides tend not to be the type of steady riding that I'm supposed to be doing for long(ish) rides.  But I went because (1) I wanted to meet some other cyclists/athletes in the area and (2) I really needed to know where people ride in this place.

4.5 hours later both issues had been taken care of!  I showed up back on the my parents' doorstep to begin my T-run, sweaty, happy, hot, happy, and HAPPY!  We rode close to 90 miles (um's REALLY flat and fast here) and I definitely feel much better now about where to ride.  Plus it was a great group of people with very little hammering.  GOOD DEAL.  Oh, and I DO remember how to ride my bike.  Always a concern when you've been on the trainer for a couple months.  Just like they say though, it's just like riding a bike...  ;)

Sunday I rode by myself for another 60+ miles to a little town called Hardeeville.  Yes, that's right, Hardeeville.  I definitely found rural South Carolina!  No traffic and flat, straight roads for as long as the eye can see.  The only riding hazard out that way is the farm/junkyard dog!  Beware, those buggers run fast!

This morning I hit up masters here on the island.  Great group of people and so friendly and welcoming.  They swam a nice long main set which made me happy and then they have the pool for another few hours (there are 2 different morning sessions) so if you want to stay on and swim more you can.  LOVE!  This is going to be good, very good.

And so we start.  I got my schedule for the 3 weeks that I am here and indeed, it's a massive amount of work.  I'm ready and willing for the challenge though!  Time to get to work!  (only bad part is, Oscar left to go back to Pittsburgh yesterday - miss him so much already!)

Oh and just a PSA, when you are clumsy like me, you should not get in fights with the bars in the weight room.  I bonked my head off one and then walked around in the gym looking like a major misfit/weirdo.  Needless to say, I didn't make too many friends this morning.  :)

I predict a rather large goose egg on my head tomorrow!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

South Carolina - Ready Or Not!

Tomorrow I'm leaving for a 3 week training stint in South Carolina.  Holy cats!  Before we even get to the issue of packing for such an adeventure, let's look at the reasons why I'm going.

1) to consistently be able to ride my bike outside (I decided to race in March this year - I must remember how to steer beforehand!)


2) to put in a nice hard training block free from pretty much all of life's distractions

As you can imagine, this is a very exciting prospect!  Although I'll admit, I have mixed feelings about going. 

For one, I haven't even left yet and I already miss Roxy and Oscar terribly!  I have never been away from either for that long and just thinking about it makes me a bit sad.  The good thing is, I will be staying with my parents and so will obviously still be surrounded by people I know and love.  I just really wish Oscar and Roxy could fit in my suitcase and come with. 

Besides that, I will also admit to being a huge fan of routine.  Here at home I ride and run on the same routes over and over and over and over again.  I swim at the same pool, in the same lane, with the same people over and over and over again.  I know which bars in the weight room are the ones I like and I use them over and over and over again, etc...  Going to train in a new place is a scary prospect!  Although I'm not worried about swimming or running, riding is definitely a concern.  Because one thing is for sure, I will be doing A LOT of riding!  And although Hilton Head isn't an entirely new environment, I've not done any serious cycling there in the past.  I guess now is as good a time as ever! 

Despite my concerns, I know this is something I need to do.  And because of the benefits I know I'll see, it's something I definitely WANT to do.  I'm truly looking forward to what I know is going to be the challenge of a lifetime in terms of training (I don't have my schedule yet but Dirk has warned will be significant) and I'm looking forward to tackling this challenge with little to no other responsibilities standing in the way.  So it's South Carolina Training Adventure or bust!  Here.  We.  GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Oh, and the packing?  Well let's just consider the fact that I must fit ALL my s/b/r gear, nutrition and clothes in 1 suitcase and 1 bike box.  Seeing as how I can barely accomplish this for 3 days away for a race, I'm relatively certain there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth tonight.  Perhaps THIS will be the year I learn to pack light?  Nah...  ;)