Sunday Sweats [5/25-5/31]

My first tri of the season was today, Sunday, and that's the only swimming I did all week. My swim performance was pretty much what I expected after 3 weeks of not being in the water at all. It was a pretty bad swim, actually, but I finished a minute faster than I did when I did this race previously. 

On Wednesday I went to my normal bike trail for a brick with my dad after work. It was a windy day but we still averaged 17mph for just over 16 miles.

On Sunday, for the first time ever, the bike was my strongest leg in a tri! I decided that if nothing else, I wanted to at least have a strong bike time. Since it was a fairly short bike at 12.5 miles, I felt more comfortable pushing a little harder than I usually would. The last time I did this race, I finished the bike in 46:33 (16mph) and was hoping I could get that much lower, as close to 40 minutes as possible. I was on the fence the whole time I was on the bike about whether or not I would hit that time, but from the time I hopped on my bike to the time I got off and crossed the dismount like was 40:18 (18.5mph) so I was really pleased.

On Tuesday I went to the group run my friend invited me to and I'm so glad I did! I immediately saw him and our other friend as soon as I got to the store so I didn't feel weird or have to wonder what to do. There were a few other people there for it as well, but it was sort of strange in that there was never an official start, everyone just kind of took off at different points? I just stayed with my 2 friends. Tonight was track night so we warmed up with nearly 2 miles to the nearby high school before hitting the track. I've done intervals on my own before where I run a mile or so to warm up, then maybe a quarter or half mile hard, then a quarter mile slow, repeat a few times then do a cool down mile. I never stop running all that time, I just change the intensity at different points. For this we actually stopped after each part (after the warmup and in between laps). We were supposed to run our laps at 5k-10k pace but all of ours ended up being way faster than that and I'm not sure why. The warmup 2 miles to the track was 8:40 pace, then my intervals were all in the low 7's, and our codlin back to the store was 9:12 pace, which all averaged out to 8:24 pace for the day. I had only planned to run about 4 miles but the full workout ended up being close to 5.5. Every neurotic fiber in my being tells me that I can't count it the same as I would normally count 5.5 miles since we did have recovery time in there that's unaccounted for, but I could probably stand to let some of my neuroses go a little bit.

My dad and I ran on Wednesday after our bike ride and I really didn't feel well during it. I don't think I ate well enough/properly throughout the day (big surprise there). Luckily he's a little slower than me so I just pretended I was hanging back for him haha!

Friday morning I got up super early for my first before-work run. I was out the door by 5:45am and while it was hard at first and the whole thing was slower than I'm used to running, it was worth it to catch that sunrise over the ocean. I hope I get used to running that early!

My run during the tri was just okay, not bad but not very good either. I was hoping to finish it in 26-27 minutes and I ended up at 27:03, a little slower than I would have liked but I was happy to trade speed on the bike for the run.

Still trying to figure out when to fit this in and how much I need to do. I got up early on Thursday morning for about 30 minutes of weights.

I did an embarrassingly little amount of yoga this week, especially considering I'm going to a yoga retreat next weekend. Like, 15 minutes embarrassing. Total. For the whole week. So obviously that's on my agenda this week!

My bad swim, great bike, and decent run put me in 3rd place in my age group on Sunday! Technically I tied with another girl who crossed the mat at the same second that I did, but my name was before hers on the results list so I went home with the plaque ;) Look for a race recap of sorts on Tuesday!

Training for Tuesday: Surviving Summer

Here we are, friends! The calendar might not have even rolled over to June yet but if pools across America have anything to say about it, it's summer time. I know that some places might still be catching up to the warmer temperatures, but we've been rocking more hot days than not here in Virginia for several weeks now, so there's no denying it at this point. We're in summer training mode, whether we like it or not. Since I'm not training for anything specific right now (I will be soon, I promise! That half Ironman in October isn't going to train for itself so I'm working on a training plan...) and have no recent races worth recapping, I thought I'd share some of the ways I survive training in the summer.

Run early or run late. Whatever you do, don't run at 12:30pm. On a clear, sunny day. While wearing long black pants. Just trust me on this one. I prefer to either run really early, as the sun is coming up (6:00-7:00am) or later in the evening when the sun is going down (7:00-8:00pm).

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you feel thirsty at any point during the day, you're already behind on your hydration. I easily drink 3 liters of water a day even in winter, so in the warmer months I need more like 4 or 5. I'm a strange bird in that I don't like to drink anything on the run so I make sure to stay hydrated as much as possible leading up to my runs. 

Wear as few clothes as possible. I've adopted a strict shorts + tank for anything over 50* policy and even that's a lot of clothes when the temperature starts to creep up into the 80s and 90s (it's still early enough in the summer that I can pretend that 100+ degree weather just doesn't exist). If it were socially acceptable to run in my underwear, I would do it (except I wouldn't really because my thunder thighs rub together and I forget Body Glide more often than I would like to). But really, I like airy shorts and a tank and that's it. I have been known to strip off the tank halfway through the run and finish the rest in my sports bra...because I apparently have no shame.

Know what you're getting into. The hourly forecast section on my weather app is my best friend in the summer. I'm not only looking at temperature, but also at things like humidity (an absolute run killer if you're fortunate to live on the East coast like I am) and dew point. A few years ago I read an article from Runner's World that says that dew point is actually the biggest factor that affects run performance in the summertime, because more air saturation means less perspiration which means the body works harder to cool itself down - therefore, running what is usually a comfortable pace is a lot harder on the body at higher dew points. There's a really good chart at the end of the article that outlines several dew point ranges and their affects on runners' perception of the weather and their performance. It's my go-to reference material in the summer! Knowing not only what the weather is like out there, but how my body is going to perceive it helps me adjust my expectations.

Do what you gotta do. I'll be honest - some of my summer runs are downright ugly. Actually, make that a lot of them. They are hot and sweaty and sticky and slow and sometimes they make me cry from frustration and did I mention they're HOT?! Summer training just isn't my forte, but that doesn't mean I have to give up and wait for more pleasant weather. Summer isn't time for excelling, it's just about getting through. For me, the benefit of slogging through all summer long is getting to fall and realizing that running all of a sudden feels SO much easier! Sometimes it's hard to look ahead and believe that all the hard work will pay off, but if my summer sufferfests and subsequent fall PRs last year taught me anything, it does.

How do you deal with summer training? What's your favorite training season?


Sunday Sweats [5/18-5/24]

No fancy header today because I didn't even take enough photos to fill it this week - ha! That's the kind of week I had. I'm glad I kicked last week's ass because this week kicked my ass, no way around it. I didn't even stick with my newfound Sunday night inspiration and make myself a plan for the week that I could feel good about.  I started my new job on Monday, after just moving into our new place on Saturday, and the adjustment was so much harder than I thought it was going to be. I forgot how hard it can be to find new routes in a new place! Even though I'm back home where I know plenty of places to run and bike, my exact location is new to me and I'm not that close to where I used to live. This week was a roller coaster, with some feeling good about myself but mostly just feeling bad.

Like I mentioned last week, regular swimming will probably not happen again until August. I'll try to get out to some open water swims when I can but other than those rare occasions and races, my swim is on the back burner for now.

I had planned to get in a brick workout on Wednesday, but I ended up staying later at work than I planned to and by the time I got home, biking for an hour then running for 45 minutes (when I also needed to go get groceries at some point) just wasn't going to happen. I promised myself I'd take my bike out after work on Friday - I had all these grand visions of ending my week with a ride at the oceanfront, along a good portion of the Shamrock Marathon course, where I could look out and see the I biked from my apartment down to the oceanfront and once I got down there I quickly remembered that it's Memorial Day weekend and that from now on it's going to be crawling with idiots everywhere and I got out of the really touristy area and thought about continuing on to the more residential area, which has fewer pedestrians out but more cars and I was too afraid of some out-of-towner running me over so I just went back home. It was so frustrating and I started to wonder if moving to this complex rather than somewhere more bike-friendly wasn't a huge mistake and basically felt like the biggest turd who will never be an Ironman ever.

I still planned to do my long ride on Sunday so I got up a little later than planned (ok like an hour and a half) but still early enough and headed out to the trail. I averaged a slower speed than I did last week, not sure why but whatever. I am actually really amazed at how...comfortable (seems a tad generous but let's go with it) I've gotten on my bike. I rode for just over 2 hours, never stopping, just consistent pedaling the whole time, and I didn't get insanely bored or want to murder anyone (usually happens about 45 minutes in). I did 2 loops of the trail like I did last week, only this time I tacked on a bit extra so I could hit the distance PR I didn't realize I was so close to last week. The 35 miles I rode still pale in comparison to where I need/want to be, but I'm realizing I have to start somewhere.

During the week I ran on Tuesday and Wednesday, both toward the beach (although I didn't quite make it there on my 5k run but I did get a little boardwalk action on my 4-miler). They were both at the same pace (8:56-8:57) which is on the slower side for me but that's fine. I needed those recovery miles after going balls out for 5k PR last Sunday!

On Saturday I ran one of my favorite races of the year, my hometown race, the Elizabeth River 10k. It takes place downtown where I live lived for 4 years until I moved away last summer. It's where I took my first running steps of my life, where I've trained for more races than I could count with all my fingers and toes and even someone else's fingers and toes, and I just love running there. Now that I'm living about 30 minutes away from that area I won't be able to run those streets as often as I'd like, so this race was a special treat. Actually, that's a lie, because honestly I wasn't even looking forward to this race this year. This week really left me dragging so by the time race morning rolled around, I wasn't dreading it, I just wasn't looking forward to it. 

I drove downtown to meet up with my dad and some of our friends who were running. The race directors let us know a few days prior that, due to construction, the course would only be 6 miles this year, not the full 10k. Honestly that was a relief for me. Not that I ever had any intentions to PR (my current is at like a 7:55 pace from Thanksgiving and I have no idea where the hell I pulled that one from, but I knew I couldn't do it again this weekend), but that really took away any lingering pressure I might have had to do so (on the flip side, I suppose any time I ran would have been a PR since I've never run a 6-mile race before...). On the drive there I honestly couldn't remember the last race I ran that wasn't a PR attempt, or wasn't being used as a training run for an upcoming PR attempt, other than RnR in March I guess, so I was more than happy to get my money's worth and enjoy the course. Fortunately, my dad and our friend felt the same way so we stuck together at an easy pace for the whole race. We mostly chatted the whole way and the miles seriously flew by. The course ended up being even shorter than we expected, since we run through the Naval hospital and they ended up needed a helicopter pad we normally run around to rush in some injured soldiers. Last year I got a 10k PR at this race with a tough effort 8:55 pace, and this year we comfortably averaged an 8:38 pace for the 5.5ish miles that the course ended up being. Even though the course had issues and the organization was the worst I've ever seen it (there was no timing mat at the start so I honestly have no clue when we even started, therefore all times were based on gun time not chip time), I still had a great race and, most importantly, a happy race. 

On Sunday I felt guilty for not getting in my brick workout or 4th run this week, so I attempted to combine my long ride with a run afterward. Attempted is the key word here. After riding 35 miles, I knew running 5 miles probably wasn't going to feel great, but I had to try it anyway. I really wanted to know what that would feel like (ya know, to get an idea what riding 56 miles then running 13.1 will feel like in October). Answer: bad. Very bad. My legs felt dead and I knew I was in trouble, but I told myself to at least get through the first mile before making any rash decisions. I made it through that mile but it was a struggle, and a quarter mile later, the walk breaks started. My legs were tired, I wasn't mentally engaged, and I just hard a hard time continuing on. I'd run for a little bit then take a break. Sometimes it would be half a mile before I took a break, sometimes it was like two tenths of a mile. I really had to pee so one time I ducked off into the woods on the side of the trail, and I left my watch running on accident so by the time I finished peeing my average pace was at like 10:24. So miles 2 and 3 were pretty ugly, but when I got to 3 miles I was finally able to settle in a little bit and finish the last couple miles decently strong. I was able to get my pace just under 10:00 min/mile and was surprised that I had somehow eeked out an 8:58 last mile? It felt like a 13 minute mile if I'm being honest. Jello legs, party of one. 

I lifted weights once this week, which is one more time than last week. I'm still trying to figure out how to fit these workouts in...I know they're important, I just don't know how important.

I have an off-and-on relationship with yoga, and I think I might just need to accept that. Some weeks I need it more than others. Some weeks I prioritize it more than others. My need for it last week is debatable, but I definitely didn't prioritize it like I should have. I did a couple videos that totaled maybe 30ish minutes.

Onto the next. My goal for this week is to try some morning workouts and maybe, maybe, check out a group run one afternoon. I'm only going because my friend told me about it and said he'd be there. And he's an Ironman and noticed my crazy leg muscles on Saturday (seriously, you guys, these things are out of control) so...yeah. Oh and it's race week, I almost forgot! Just a sprint tri coming up on Sunday, should be a good time to get back into my triathlon rhythm.

Sunday Sweats [5/11-5/17]

I didn't forget about these posts, I just deliberately stopped doing them for a few weeks.  I just haven't felt like myself lately, and while I've been getting my workouts in like always, I feel like I've been going through the motions more than anything. I'm not ashamed of my struggles and want to share them, I just don't want to sound like a broken record complaining about how my stomach hurts for the millionth time. But this is real life and sometimes it's all I can do to trudge through 4 miles and that's just as important a part of my story as my triumphs. 

Last Sunday I was thinking about my workouts for the week (and planning how to fit them all in during a busy moving week split between two parts of the state), when I stumbled across this on Urban Fitopia:
"Every moment we have to ability to start fresh, but that feeling really culminates on Sunday nights. Whatever hopes you have for the week, write them down and get to work. Follow your passion because we only have right now."

I'm not sure if it was meant to be as inspirational as I took it, but for whatever reason, in that moment, it was what I needed to hear. At that moment I knew I didn't want my workouts this week to be focused on numbers or paces or stats, but on experiences. Fortunately, this was an easy week to garner all kinds of experiences. I was on the brink of moving back to a place where I have flourished and thrived since my early Couch 2 5k days, and leaving a place I never thought I'd swim/bike/run in a million years but somehow learned to love (and sometimes hate). I already had all my workouts and distances scheduled in a spreadsheet - they've been there for months - but this week I took the time to outline them a little differently:

Monday: one last Blacksburg brick! Say goodbye to the Huckleberry Trail for a few months. 
Tuesday: one last swim in the VT pool. Make it a long one since it might be your last swim for a while. And later, celebrate the end of your first year back at Tech with one last VT run! 5 miles to campus, through the Duck Pond, down alumni mall, to Main Street and back. Take lots of photos.
Wednesday: take a rest day for moving, travel, and dinner with mom. 
Thursday: try a Dismal Double. If and when it gets windy or boring, just be thankful there are no hills. 
Friday: get up early run your downtown Portsmouth route. Isn’t the water so beautiful? Remember how much you used to love that calm, peaceful 7am hour and those 10 miles will be over before you know it. 
Saturday: get your workout in as you move into your new apartment. Take some time for yoga in the morning and the evening to get ready for your race tomorrow. 
Sunday: race hard, race smart, but ultimately, remember why you run. Think back to running this very race 4 years ago - your first race ever. Think about the organization that puts on this race and the cause it supports. If you beat no one in the race today, that’s okay, as long as you remember how running has helped you beat your demons.

It turned out to be exactly what I needed to have a successful week.

I only swam once this week, my M.O. lately. I knew it might be my last one for a while other than the occasional open water swim with my tri peeps, since I won't belong to a gym or pool this summer. I always swim a mile, and I don't know what got into me but I managed to (barely, only by a few seconds) eek out my best mile time all year.

I straight up killed it on the bike this week. On Monday I did my usual 45-minute brick ride, which was nothing spectacular but it was still solid. On Wednesday I moved back home to Virginia Beach (flat land! Thank Zeus!) so Thursday  I went for a long ride, with the goal of doing a Double Dismal. Let me explain: the trail I ride is the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail; it's a little over 8 mile one way, so we call going out and back twice a Double Dismal. Going out was a breeze, literally, since I had a tailwind at my back. Getting to the end and changing direction I to the wind made the trip back tough, and I kind of wanted to just be done after the first lap. I was really determined to get through all those miles though, so I went out for my second lap and finished that one for a total of 32.77 miles @ 17.9mph. It pained me to see my speed drop into the 17s after maintaining 18+mph for 27 or 28 miles, but seeing as my longest ride in the last year has only been 24 miles, and I've only ever biked more than 30 a handful of times ever, I felt pretty good at the end. I realized later that my bike distance PR is 34 miles and I totally would have kept going if I had realized that while I was still on the bike! I remember feeling really drained after that ride though, and felt much better after this one, so I think my reluctant hill training has actually paid off.

The week got off to a rough start. My stomach hurt so bad on my brick run on Monday that I really couldn't have run a second faster. 
Then on Tuesday I had a freak asthma attack at the very end of my 5 mile run. Seriously, I had .06 to go when my lungs all of a sudden got so tight and my chest closed up so much I couldn't breathe. My asthma rarely ever bothers me anymore but when it does, it's at the most random times. All I can think is that the humidity and/or pollen must have contributed since I didn't run any farther or faster than I'm used to. It was actually very scary since I had no inhaler and could not breathe in air (asthmatics know what I'm talking about) and was afraid I might die right then and there, but luckily I was on the trail right behind my apartment and Ben was just up the hill inside so he was able to come out and help me. I took a minute to drink some water and get my wheezing under control, but you better believe I finished that last .06!
I did my long run on Friday this week since I was racing on Sunday. Bane had to be at the vet by 9 so I got up at FIVE AM to be out running by 6:30 to get those 10 miles in. I'm honestly shocked I did it, but glad because I really love early mornings (once I've had coffee and am mentally present for them). My only focus was meeting my body wherever it was after my long ride on Thursday, and enjoying my morning running on my home turf. I've been struggling to get through long runs the past few weeks, but that one made me feel like I might be getting my long run mojo back.
And then Sunday was race day! I have a full recap of that race and why it's so important to me coming up on Tuesday, but the surface of it looks like this: new 5k PR (23:48/7:40 pace); 2nd in age group; 6th female finisher; 21st overall finisher. Can I get a high five emoji?

What is yoga again? I majorly slacked off this week. I did a few videos throughout the week. The good news is that when I did them, I really needed it; the bad news is I needed it more often than I actually did it. But the best news is that I landed crow for the first time ever! I've hit it before for a few seconds here and there but always felt like I lucked into it more than anything. I'm not sure what happened but I tried it randomly on Saturday and was surprised that I could hold it a bit longer than usual, and that I felt solid in it.