Training for Tuesday: I went and bought me a training plan today that costed a lot of money today


Ok but really. Let's talk training. I may have casually mentioned, like maybe I let it slip once or twice, that this fall I was planning on completing my first half Iron distance triathlon. Ring any bells? Well, friends, I'm all paid up and registered and now I'm just biding my time until October 17.

Yeah, right! I wish. Training leaves no rest for the weary, to be sure. So today I wanted to talk about what my training will look like over the next 4 months, and what led me to choose this particular plan. But first, let's back it up. Way, way up. Back to the first training plan I ever followed, down the path that took me from no-way-never-ever runner to half-Ironman hopeful.

First ever training plan: Couch 2 5k
It's probably no surprise that even now I'm a stickler for a training plan, since that's how I was first introduced to running. I had never, and I mean never run in my lifetime before I decided to give running a shot just over 4 years ago, and I think a big reason I had held off for so long (besides my asthma, that is) is that I just didn't know where or how to start. I was interested in maybe eventually running a 5k - 3.1 miles - but how? I had never run any distance measurable in miles; it wasn't like I could go out and run a mile and start working my way up to 3 times that. I needed the structure and the challenging but achievable steps that the Couch 2 5k program provided. The premise of C25k is simple: use predetermined walk/run intervals that start with more walking than running, and end up 9 weeks later with you running for 30 minutes straight. It worked beautifully work me, but as someone who had never run before, I couldn't have come up with that strategy on my own.

First 10k training plan: Bridge 2 10k
After I graduated from Couch 2 5k (which took me something like 3 months, after which I still wasn't able to run a 5k in 30 minutes, just so you know), I set my sights on a 10k. Actually, I signed up for a 10k well before I had even finished C25k, and the 10k race was only 3 weeks after my first 5k. B210k is essentially an extension of C25k, but I'll be honest: I didn't get through the whole program. I made it maybe halfway through, then fell off with my training a bit, but went through with the race anyway. I had never run more than almost 4 miles before my first 10k but, shockingly, I made it to mile 4, 5, 6, and all the way to the finish line of my first 10k without stopping once. I can't fully contribute my success in that race to the B210k program since I didn't actually finish it, but I absolutely have the principles I learned from C25k + B210k to than for getting me across the finish line just 6 months after taking my first running steps.

First half marathon training plan: Hal Higdon Novice 1
After my first 10k, I was on a roll. I signed up for my first half marathon about 8 weeks after that race, and I had exactly 3 months to train. Since I had never even come close to half marathon mileage, I knew I needed to find a plan to get me to the finish line. A quick Google search led me to Hal Higdon, who would become my main man for the next 3+ years of training. Since I had no experience with the half marathon whatsoever, I decided to go with the Novice 1 plan. The plan calls for runs on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, but since I physically wasn't comfortable running 3 days straight or for 4 days/week total, I cut out the Wednesday runs (which were only 2-3 miles anyway). In retrospect, it may have helped my endurance to keep in those Wednesday runs, but it also may have hurt since I was really injury-prone in those days even with a light 3 runs/week schedule. It's hard to say, since my first half really didn't go all that well (I followed the training plan about 85% of the time, but I still didn't feel like my endurance was where it should have been), and afterward I ended up with a stress reaction in my shins that kept me from running for 8 weeks. It's honestly a miracle I stuck with it after that. A year later I followed Hal's Novice 2 plan with much more success (to the tune of 30 minutes) at my second half marathon. I've used my own variations on his plans for most of half marathons and have run my way from a 2:42 half to a 1:49, so something must be working!

First marathon training plan: Hal Higdon Novice 2
For my first marathon, I went back to HH without even a second thought. I was comfortable with the demands and structure of his plans since I had used them for a few half marathons, and I figured if it wasn't broke, why fix it? About 6 months before my marathon, when I first decided to run it, I was coming back from an injury and wanted to form a really good base before I got into serious marathon training. I started off using his 30-week Novice Supreme plan for several weeks to build up mileage before switching gears to the 18-week Novice 2 marathon plan. I added in some of my own modifications (e.g. adjusting the plan to include a 20-miler and 22-miler rather than just one 20-miler before the big day), but otherwise I never, ever deviated from the plan. And I had just about the best first marathon I ever could have hoped for to show for it. I've used the Novice 2 plan again (with just the one 20-miler) for 2 subsequent marathons and took 32 minutes off my time in just over a year.

First half Ironman training plan: David Glover 18-Week Novice-Intermediate
One thing all my previous training plans have had in common, regardless of distance or intensity: they've all been free. This is where my current plan deviates from the norm. I've never followed a strict triathlon training program before, I've just taken bits and pieces from some and put them together until they made a plan I felt would be successful for my race. I tried to do that with this one, but I just couldn't get to a place where I felt really confident that all the workouts I had scheduled would lead me to a successful race. Correctly balancing 3 different sports is a juggling act and, for my longest race thus far, I just didn't feel like I could come up with a training plan on my own that would be adequate. I looked at several free ones but there were so many options I was overwhelmed. I didn't find any I really loved, so off to Training Peaks I went. I had already heard a lot of good things about their workout tracking and analysis so I had been thinking about giving the site a try anyway, and then I found out that they also offer training plans. I hooked up with someone from their support team to try to figure out the best plan for me. I wrote a rather lengthy email explaining my history, my strengths and weaknesses in each discipline, the amount of time I'd be willing to commit to training, and my race goals. 

They quickly got back to me and recommended I check out David Glover's plans. They even suggested I email him personally with all of the same information I had sent them so that he would be able to give me the best guidance on choosing my plan. I got a lengthy, enthusiastic reply from David a few hours later recommending his Novice/Intermediate plan. He explained that I'd have access to a members-only forum on his website with all kinds of Q&A, that he'd switch me over to a more intense plan free of charge if I felt like the Novice one was too easy, and that he'd be available via email to answer any questions I had. 

Honestly, I was completely sold once I read the last part. I have a tendency to overanalyze and freak out over whether or not I'm doing the right things, so having access to the coach who made the plan, who can help calm my fears and guide me in the right direction? That peace of mind alone was worth the cost of the plan. I'm in Week 4 now and, so far, I absolutely love it. I've always made spreadsheets for my training plans, that I know what workout I have coming up this week (or next week, or 10 weeks from now, whatever), but with Training Peaks, I don't have to do that anymore (I don't have to...I still made my own spreadsheet because that's the kind of person I am, just so we're clear). The minute I purchased the plan, the site loaded all of my workouts into my account. I can make notes after I've completed them, or move them around if I need to reschedule some of them. The best part is that Training Peaks syncs up with Garmin Connect, which is where all of my swims/bikes/runs get uploaded to via my watch, so my training calendar automatically updates whenever I complete a workout! At the beginning of the week, each workout is gray. As I complete them, they turn green (or red, if I don't...and I haven't figured out yet what yellow means?). And it keeps a running total of all my activities for the week. Seriously, it couldn't be simpler. 

I was hesitant to pay for a training plan, but after 4 years of using free ones and still having no idea where to turn or what to do for my first 70.3, I didn't know what else to do. I don't expect to make this a habit, but I did want to do everything possible to make my first HIM a success. I'm leaving this one to the professional.

Sunday Sweats [6/22-6/28]: B2B Training Week 3

Swim: 5350 yds
I felt surprisingly good in the pool on Wednesday night for having just run nearly 6 miles about an hour prior. I've never been in the pool for an entire hour before! I set a new swim PR of 2900 yards (1.63 miles).

My training plan calls for two swims a week but this was the first week I got in the second one. I went on Friday evening, which sounds like a lame thing to be doing at that time but I kind of enjoy ending my week that way. I had another hour swim on the agenda, but I was finished with the set at 52 minutes in and needed to go pick up Ben, so I stopped after I completed the full distance (2500 yards). I would have hit another PR if I had kept going for the full hour but oh well, next time!

Bike: 37.13 miles + 37 minutes spin
Tuesday night spin felt slightly easier this week. Just slightly. I was still sweating buckets within minutes (and appeared to be the only one doing so, wtf?). My teacher played Darling Nikki and usually the music is censored because, you know, it's the YMCA...but not this time. I don't know if she didn't realize or just didn't care, but I can safely say that's a place where I never thought I'd hear the words "sex" and "masturbating" blaring through the halls.

I was supposed to bike on Thursday, but a) my group bailed on me, b) I had a work thing (that I was totally going to skip but then felt bad about doing so) and c) the weather seemed to be on the fence about whether or not a summer storm was about to roll in that evening. I would have felt too guilty about skipping my conference anyway so I suppose it all worked out.

Saturday I was supposed to do a long ride but missed it because Bane had surgery (remember what I said last week - nothing derails my training except puppies?). He's fine, he just had a mass that's been on his head since he was a baby removed. Ben's mom did the surgery (she's a vet) and we had to wait for a day when she was free to do it at her clinic after-hours. Once we got to the clinic I couldn't bear leaving his side for the rest of the day. It was a nasty day anyway, and sitting with him for a couple hours while he recovered gave me some time to work on the Literary Ladies challenge ;)

I wasn't going to make up my missed ride from Saturday, but my dad texted me on Sunday wanting to ride so I agreed to go meet him at our trail. I don't know what was up with me but I felt like Wonder Woman! I had 2 hours to do, which I'm pretty sure is the longest I've ever ridden, and I managed to do 37 miles in that time, which was also one of my fastest rides ever (18.4mph). 

Run: 19.45 miles
My run on Tuesday was about as nice as any late June run could be. Earlier in the day I told my co-worker the weather was "kind of pleasant", which translates to "not hot as balls for once" so my run was actually fairly tolerable. I had a moment when I turned onto the boardwalk when it just hit me that holy crap, I can't believe I'm so lucky to get this view whenever I want. Not sure what made that stand out today, but it did and I was grateful. Also, earlier in the day my favorite band announced a 10-year anniversary tour for my favorite album this fall! All I wanted to do the rest of the day was listen to that album, but I saved it as a special treat for my run (since I'm trying to run without music). Five minutes longer than last week and my pace was just slightly faster (even with a minute or two of getting water and then walking a bit to catch my was kind of nice out but it was still late June). 

I ran again on Friday after work. Nothing to note from that one - no news is good news?

When I went to do my long run on Sunday I immediately felt off...not bad, but just like it wasn't going to be a good one. Thankfully at some point things started to turn around...possibly after I took an extended bathroom break around 23 minutes in (note to self: drink more water the day before long runs; dehydration is no fun). My first 4 miles were just over 9:00 min/mi but I sped up to get them just under 9:00 for the remainder and even snuck in an 8:37 mile 9 for an average of 8:58. 

Yoga: 76 minutes
I went to yoga after spin again on Tuesday night. I liked this class a little better than the first time I took it. Still not my favorite class by any means, but a mediocre yoga class is better than no yoga class at all.

Thursday night I was feeling pretty blah about being at work all day and night, so it seemed like as good a time as any for a little
crow flow.
B2B To-Date Training
Swim - 5.63 miles
Bike - 133.77 miles + 72 minutes spin
Run - 54.35 miles

Week 3 Reflections:
+ I dropped the ball on the bike this week. I couldn't really help having a work conference on Thursday night, but I could have gotten my long ride done on Saturday morning if I had planned better.
+ I actually didn't freak out about dropping the ball on the bike, which is kind of amazing. I'm usually a stickler for my training plan, only because I believe that's what brings me the most results, but I'm learning that I can make my training a priority and still have a life. Missing a 1-hour bike ride isn't going to keep me from crossing the finish line. Missing my long ride wouldn't even have been the end of the world, especially if it meant spending time with my dog instead. I plan my life around my training as much as possible, but some weeks, like this one, life forces my hand. If I can only follow my training plan 95% correctly instead of 100%, well I guess I can live with that. 
+ This week reminded me why I love endurance sports so much. It's fun to go out and run a speedy 5k sometimes, or get on my bike and know it will be over in an hour and I can move on to other things, but there's nothing like the calmness I get once I've been out on the road for a while. As someone with a very active mind, it's amazing that I can go 30 minutes just watching the pavement go by without a single thought taking hold of my mind. My mind isn't blank during that time, but all my thoughts are fleeting.  
+ I feel like I'm progressing pretty well in each discipline but I have no idea how I'm ever going to put them all together! Like I can't imagine swimming as far as I have been, biking 20 miles further than I have been (which has left me pretty spent), and then running for a couple hours afterward. I'm sure it will come together eventually, but right now I just don't see it. Maybe I'll be jacked up enough on race day adrenaline? 

I Can See The Colors Running When I Hear the Music Play

A couple Thursdays ago I left work, hopped in my car, and headed home. I ran into the apartment for a few minutes, just long enough to change into my bike clothes and to take Bane on a quick walk, before starting on my trek to a couple cities over to meet up with my dad and a friend for a bike ride. My after-work chores took me a little bit longer than expected, so by the time I got to the tunnel, an infamous source of traffic congestion in this area, I was deep in traffic and watching the minutes adding to my ETA on my GPS screen. As I sat in that sea of cars, thumb continually pressing the button to shuffle through my Spotify playlist - next, next, next - I finally landed on Andrew McMahon's Synesthesia

And suddenly, singing along at the top of my lungs in my car, I wasn't in traffic anymore.

Instead, it was a Saturday. I had slept in a little bit before getting up to do some neglected chores around the house. Ben and I had run to Target to grab some beach essentials before pumping up the tires on our road bikes for the first time this summer and heading to the beach. We had biked an easy couple miles down to the heart of the resort area at the oceanfront, where we stopped when we saw the tent at 17th Street Park. 

A week earlier I had had the radio on completely by chance when I heard a familiar voice but not a familiar song. I'd know that voice anywhere: it was Andrew McMahon (former frontman of Something Corporate, a favorite high school jam of mine, of Jack's Mannequin, a favorite college jam of mine, and one of the all-around most talented musicians I've ever had the pleasure of seeing live). A quick search on my iPhone had led me to another fortuitous discovery: he would be playing at a festival on the boardwalk the upcoming weekend, for free.

That weekend had arrived and I was at the park where he'd be, eating an ice cream cone, waiting for his set to start. I had found out that he, in fact, wouldn't play for another 2 hours, so I had ventured out amongst the sea of tourists to hang out on the beach while I waited. I had realized only half an hour before his set time that I needed to suddenly go back home for something, and may end up missing it entirely. Ben and I had huffed and puffed and pedaled home and then back to the beach again (crisis averted), and had made it back to the park just in time to hear the unmistakable notes of Dark Blue

So on that Thursday, sitting in traffic, I wasn't on the road at all. As I sang along to Synesthesia, I was again on the beach on a warm, but not too warm day, when the sun was shining bright but not too bright, and the breeze was cool but not too cool, watching a man I've admired from high school play the hell out of piano. He was playing every song I had hoped to hear (I can die happy now that I've seen "I Woke Up in a Car"). By the end he was standing, stomping on the piano, so many notes ringing at one time. He was throwing a colored parachute into the crowd, walking through it, singing, jumping back on stage, singing, playing, inspiring (on top of being a fantastic musician, this man has also conquered Leukemia), spreading happiness and love. I have exactly one (grainy, iPhone-quality) photo from that day and that's all I need. There are some things a camera just can't capture.

Make a memory this weekend. One that's so great it will carry you through the times that life just isn't. Collect moments, not things. Happy Friday, friends.

Hey, Small Blogger

Yeah, you, smaller blogger. I see you over there with your, I don't know...couple hundred? maybe not even 100 followers? Your inconsistent posting schedule. Your lack of social media promotion. Yeah, you. I got you.

Okay, so maybe you've given it a fair shot. Maybe you've sponsored a blog or two, but that's about as far as you've delved into really promoting your blog. Maybe it's a good week for you if you remember to schedule some Tweets ahead of time. Or, speaking of scheduling, let's be real: you are really on the ball on the rare occasions you manage to get a post written over 24 hours in advance. All the high five emojis for that one.

I get you, small blogger, because I am you. And since I'm you and you're me, I'm guessing that you've probably had those moments that you ask yourself why you bother at all. Why you show up to your space (whether it's semi-weekly, or monthly, or however often you can muster up the time and inspiration to knock out a post) despite not having thousands of followers or page views or comments, or why you keep going even though it's a hobby and not a full-time job (because lord knows you're not making much, if any, money off this thing).

Since we're all friends here, I'll be completely honest with you: most days, I have no idea what I'm doing writing a blog. Sometimes I come here to get out whatever is on my mind. Some days I show up because I've gone through some trial and error with my non-blogging hobbies, like running or my capsule wardrobe, and think that what I've learned might just help someone else. And a lot of days I write because I know that what I have to say will generate some discussion, will show me that I'm not all alone, or will challenge me to look at things from a different perspective.

I know that any and all of these responses are possible every time I click "Publish," but there's no guarantee. For all I know, these words that I (sometimes carefully, admittedly other times not) type in this box will be sent out into cyberspace never to be seen or heard from again. Yet something keeps me coming back, maybe infrequently, but always coming back.

As a small blogger, the thing that keeps me coming back isn't stats, it isn't money (for the record, I have never made a cent off my blog and really don't ever plan to), and it isn't It's you. It's whoever is reading this, because though you may be small in number, you are a powerful force. Since I started blogging over the last year to 18 months, My confidence has grown. I feel more willing an able to speak my mind, even when my opinion might be unpopular. I've learned to look at things in a different light, to see them how others see them.

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that I don't look at my stats, because I do. Totally do, guilty as charged. I have no idea what a typical blogger's page views are like, or how many comments they receive, but I will say this: simple math tells me that I know a fair amount of the people reading my posts, because you leave comments. You take your time to give a meaningful contribution to what I've spent my time writing and that is amazing to me. I converse with a lot of you on a daily or a near-daily basis. I love that there's a little community that has developed here (and since I'm always happy to see a new face or name around here, I hope that that community is as inviting to others as I think it is).

I don't think that any two bloggers have the same goal for what they're doing, and that's kind of what makes it awesome. Every single one is just a little bit different, and when we put them all together, we create this amazing community where everyone has a valuable role. There are so many blogging how-tos out there, so many guides on how to get the most page views and make pinnable images and work with brands, but I just wanted to take a minute to recognize those of us who are in the game too even if we don't post quality content 5 times a week. And to say thanks to those of you, whether you're a big blogger, small blogger, or not even a blogger at all, who have stuck with me this far. There are a lot of days that I'm not sure what I'm even doing here, but as long as you're reading, I guess I'm doing something right.

Literary Ladies Summer Reading Challenge

Feel free to skip this one since it's about books (I usually do).

I'll be honest: as if my lack of a book post, like, ever, didn't give it away...I'm not a big reader. I don't not like to read, I just don't make the time for it. Unless I happen to find something I'm really enthralled in, then I'll spend all my free time reading. Then I'll stop for a few months or 6 months or a year or however long it takes me to find a new book to be completely engrossed in. 

When I saw Kristen's post about this linkup I almost, almost skipped over it (hers are really the only book posts I ever read for some reason - I usually like to read her reviews and suggestions because she reads so much and with such variety that I can usually find at least one title that catches my eye), but I read it and started thinking...maybe this could work for me? We all know I need structure if I want to get anything done so I like that this challenge had an outline with all kinds of genres. I already had a few titles in mind, especially for #4 (the samples on my Kindle vastly outnumber the full books I've actually read), and I found the remaining categories interesting enough to search for a few new titles. 

The challenge started on Sunday, which was supposed to be the list reveal day, but considering I didn't even know about it until then, I hope I'm okay posting a couple days late. Truthfully, I had my list together on Sunday night but thought that maybe I should give this reading thing a try before committing to reading ten books this summer (I'm lucky if I read that many in a year). I'm now on a 2-day reading streak, so things are looking pretty promising. 

1. A YA book (mandatory!) - Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.

2. Non US-Author  (mandatory!) - Love and Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain by Max Wallace and Ian Halperin. Not exactly light summer reading, I know, but I recently watched both Montage of Heck and Soaked in Bleach and am super obsessed with Kurt Cobain right now. Haters gonna hate. Also this has not one but TWO non-US authors (both are Canadian) so bam.

3. A book that was recommended by a blogger (mandatory!) - Wild by Cheryl Strayed (recommended by Alyssa, I think...I know we talked about it and I vaguely remember her recommending it)

4. A book that has been on your TBR list for a year or more - Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. 

5. A book with a kickass female character - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (a re-read from high school but I'm not sure that counts; I've been meaning to really read it for years, along with every other book I ever read in school)

6. A book that is or will be a movie (or TV show) - Serena by Ron Rash

7. A book written by a comedian or celebrity – or even a memoir if neither of those are your jam.  President Me: The America That's In My Head by Adam Carolla. I know he's not everyone's taste, but we go way back. Adam has been cracking me up with his declarations of "When I'm in charge..." since the days of vintage Loveline. At this point I'm pretty invested so I might as well read the full manifesto. We don't see eye-to-eye on most political issues these days so I may just end up angry, but I did read a review that started with, "Much like his podcast, Carolla dumps on...Florida" so that's at least one part I can dig.

8. A book with a one word title. Disclaimer by Renee Knight

9. A suspenseful book – a mystery, a thriller, a book about revenge! Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight. Because I've already read all of Gillian Flynn's books, The Girl on the Train, et al.

10. A book about Summer, with Summer in the title, or in any way related to Summer because this is a Summer challenge!  Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Sunday Sweats [6/15-6/21]: B2B Training Week 2

Swim: 2400 yds
I swam on Wednesday night after dinner, so I felt a little sluggish in the water. Not bad, just not as good as my previous swim. This one had more sets which meant more lap numbers and configurations to keep track of, so instead of really getting into a groove I felt preoccupied with keeping count and it felt like it took even longer than it did. To be fair, it probably would have felt that way no matter what since it was the longest I'd ever spent in the pool (50 minutes) and the longest distance I'd ever swam (2400yds is ~1.4 miles).

I was supposed to swim on Friday after work but didn't - my first skipped workout of this training plan :( On week 2! :( :( The main reason I didn't is because I fell on my run earlier that morning and scraped up my hand and knee pretty badly. I wasn't sure if getting in the pool would be helpful or not, and I read some conflicting information but the majority seemed to say to not swim. Of course I would have bandaged it and everything but it just didn't seem worth the risk of getting infected, no matter how minuscule the chances may have been. That doesn't mean I didn't spend a good 2 hours at work stressing over missing my workout though. 

Bike: 50.53 miles + 35 minutes spin
This week I joined the YMCA and started going back to spin class! I'm scheduled to do bike drills (which is basically what spin class is) on Tuesdays, so I found a class at the Y near me. It's only a 30-minute beginner class so I was worried it would be too easy for me, but I had a nice puddle of sweat on the mat underneath my bike within the first 5 minutes so it turns out that's not a concern at all. I liked the teacher and the class (even though it was super tough!) so I'm excited to make this my Tuesday routine.

Thursday I had an hour ride so I met my dad at the trail. It was a rare but glorious calm day and I could have just pedaled all the livelong day. It usually it's somewhere between a little to very very windy out there so that was a nice change. I changed from the big ring to small ring every 5 minutes, per my training plan.  We averaged 18.5 mph which is pretty good for me! 

My long ride on Saturday was nothing too special or exciting except that it was an early Father's Day ride with my dad. I'm getting more comfortable riding my bike for nearly two hours so yay for that. 

Run: 16.73 miles
My Wednesday run was supposed to happen before work, but I made the brilliant move of meeting Ben and his co-workers for dinner and drinks Tuesday night and didn't get home or go to bed until late. I still set my alarm just in case, but when I woke up and checked the weather at 5am and it was 80* and 80% humidity, I figured it wasn't worth getting up. So I had to run after work, which of course was about 10 degrees hotter but about 20% less humidity. I think it would have sucked no matter what, honestly. The only silver lining was that I made it about .2 of a mile farther in 45 minutes this week than I did running at the same time last week. 

I did run Friday morning before work (that's the one where I fell not even 5 minutes into it) but it was miserable too. I'm not even sure what went wrong...I slept fine, ate decently the night before, didn't have alcohol, the weather wasn't any worse than it has been...but I couldn't get under 9 minutes per mile to save my life (whereas last week I averaged 8:40 on my Friday AM run - maybe I was onto something with the Mexican dinner complete with jumbo margarita the night before?). The only thing I can think is that I naturally tend to run faster with music, but I've started to go without because I really need practice with that since headphones aren't allowed in triathlon. So maybe if I had had music this morning like I did last week, I would have picked up the pace a little bit? I'm not happy with this one and by the time it was over I was seriously wondering what the hell I've gotten myself into and praying that training won't always be this bad. This too shall pass, right?

For my long run on Sunday, I tried to change as many things as possible from the previous week, starting with my attitude. I don't know how many times I must have repeated, "Slow, steady, consistent" to myself over the course of that hour and ten minutes. I also started about an hour earlier so it was cloudy for about the first half, then the sun came out for the second half. It was super windy so even at 82* at 7am, it never felt hot. I ran the whole thing exactly as prescribed, except for stopping at a couple stoplights and calling animal control about a dog I saw running across the bridge. It takes a lot to get me to stop during a run, usually people don't even get my help, but if an animal might be in danger? I'm stopping every single time. This wasn't a great run, but it was solid. I felt my leg muscles really kick in about halfway through so I knew I must be doing something right.

Yoga: 140 minutes
On Tuesday I went to my first (non-Wanderlust) yoga class in about 2 years. I joined the YMCA specifically because it's the only gym/rec center where I can swim, spin, and do yoga. I'd been to yoga at the Y once or twice before and wasn't super impressed, and I wasn't this go-around either. I've never found the classes to be of the same caliber or atmosphere as a studio class, but since this class doesn't cost me anything extra, is conveniently-located, and, most importantly, fits into my pretty packed training schedule, it will do. It wasn't a bad class, it just wasn't anything more interesting than your standard vinyasa class (lots of sun salutations, some pigeon, a little warrior sequence). The best thing that came out of it was that I learned about a yoga festival here in Virginia Beach in October! I'm trying to talk my sister-in-law into going with me, since apparently yoga festivals are things I go to now?
After my run on Sunday, I couldn't wait for my full class later and had to get in some recovery yoga right away. And then later I spent another hour doing yin with Sage again. I know I said that one of my goals for yoga is for it to double as my strength training, which yin doesn't really accomplish, but I've noticed such a difference in the hip pain I've had since January from my yin classes the last couple of weeks that I really feel like I need it to be a staple in my routine.

B2B To-Date Training
Swim - 2.59 miles
Bike - 96.64 miles + 35 minutes spin
Run - 34.09 miles

Week 2 Reflections:
+ This week was a little rocky for me. I think the excitement of the first week wore off and I started getting into "But, no, really, what did I get myself into?!" territory this week. I didn't realize how much of an adjustment period this would be, not only adjusting to the weather but to training in general. My Milepost app quote on Sunday was about how you can't become a distance runner quickly, you have to get there gradually, and for some reason I didn't realize until then that that's true for triathlon too. I don't know why I thought I could easily jump into training for a half, but I can't. I knew I'd need to work on my swim and bike but I thought I had the running part down; turns out, I don't. I might not be running as fast or as far as I have in the past, it's different kind of running...the kind where I biked ~20-30 miles the day before running (and sometimes just minutes before running) - thanks, Alyssa, for pointing that out on Dailymile - and that's just going to take some getting used to. 
+ I signed up for Beach 2 Battleship this week!!! Like I really, actually did it. Even though I've already bought my training plan and had been working on it for a week, I was so nervous to click that "Register" button. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. I've been thinking about doing this for over a year and a half, but I still feel like I have no business even signing up (especially after a run like Friday's). But I did it, I signed 4 months and 1 day out from race day...and as of today I'm under 4 months out! I can't wait until October 18, when future me will be able to tell past me that future me is a half Ironman. Provided I actually survive training this summer.
+ I like that this training plan goes by time, not distance, and that there's rarely a workout that calls for X minutes straight; the variations every so often make it a little more manageable for me. That's not always the case, like when I'm running and get to a distance I would have normally stopped at but I have to keep going for a couple more minutes to get the full time in, but for the most part I like it. 
+ Not running with music has definitely affected my paces (of course there are other factors as well), but I know that's something I need to practice. One of my biggest hesitations about doing a half Ironman has always been the no headphone a half marathon without music, seriously?! I honestly wasn't sure I could do it. I've never consistently made myself run without music, I'd do it once a week or every two weeks, maybe, but 6 out my last 7 runs (since I started my training plan) have been sans headphones. I haven't gotten bored yet, so that's huge, but I know that when I have music I subconsciously end up speeding up to match the beat, and without that I'm just not quite as quick. I'm still adjusting.
+ Summer has officially sucked all the joy out of running for me. I knew this would happen, I did, but I'm still not happy about it. I'm hot, I'm uncomfortable, I feel on the brink of an asthma attack at any moment, I'm slow, and I don't even have music to distract me. The only thing that keeps me going is remembering that I'm doing it...I'm training for this thing, I'm getting one run, one mile, even one step closer to B2B...whether I like it or not, whether it feels good or not, I'm doing it.

Guest Posting at See You in A Porridge: Sh*t Runners Do

Nothing new for you here because I'm hanging out at See You in a Porridge today while Kristen is away this week on a grand European adventure! She asked me to fill in for her today so I'm sharing some of the weird, annoying, obnoxious, and sometimes awkward things that runners do. Runners, don't even pretend like you don't know what I'm talking about. Non-runners, check it out to get some insight on why we are the way we are.

Reasons I Suck at Being A Southerner

A couple weeks ago, Mel made a post about all the things that make her un-Southern, despite living in a Southern state. It cracked me up, in a funny-'cause-it's-true way, and also in a what-coincidence way. And then yesterday Paige shared some insight on what it's like to be a Texas transplant (which may have helped confirm my longtime suspicions that I was born on the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line) and I thought, well, I guess now is as good a time as any to finish a similar post I've had sitting in my drafts. In all of my 27.5 years, I've never lived further north than southeastern Virginia but I've never felt like I truly fit in in these parts. Here's why.

I don't believe that Virginia is really the south.
 I mean, let's just get this one out of the way. I'm Virginia-by-way-of-South-Carolina-Southern.  The idea that Virginia is part of the real south has confused me since the day I moved here from Charleston. But just because I don't believe it doesn't mean I can't find a pickup truck with a Confederate flag flying on the back with a driver who is happy to tell me differently. Maybe that makes the rest of this list moot? We'll continue on anyway.

I can't stand hot weather. 
Who are all you freaks who enjoy walking outside and feeling like you've stepped into an oven? You can get out. I actually used to like hot weather when I was younger, but some flip got switched in my brain several years ago and now I loathe it more with each passing year. And in the south, it's not just the heat that'll get ya, it's the humidity. I've lived in Florida (which is not the south even though it's geographically to the south, just so you know) and I'm telling you, Virginia summers easily rival Florida summers in terms of yuckiness just on the humidity factor alone.

I despise country music. 
Another thing I used to love as a kid but grew to completely hate. When I was little my dad would take me to country concerts, but today just accidentally switching to the country radio station in my car makes my ears bleed. It's generic, the lyrics are recycled or silly (or both), and it all sounds the same (this coming from someone who favorite genres include screamo). Pass.

I don't believe that cowboy boots are or were ever fashionable. 
Seriously, one of my least favorite fashion trends of the last decade. I would gladly trade in cowboy boots for Crocs. That's right, I said it.

While we're on the subject of shoes, I don't own a pair of Sperrys. 
My dad even used to have a boat and I still never owned a pair of boat shoes, which means most people probably don't need to either. 

I don't drink sweet tea. 
In high school I basically lived off Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuits and sweet tea. These days, I'm not one for sweet tea or really any sweet drinks for that matter. I will, however, concede Paige's point that if the tea is iced, it should have sugar in it. I just don't really drink anything other than water on a normal basis so y'all can keep your sweet tea. I do like some Southern foods, though, and I love grits. The real thing. No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits.

I wouldn't be caught dead in Lilly Pulitzer. 
Believe me, I was nowhere near a Target during the whole Lilly fiasco last month. If you've followed my capsule wardrobe at all it's probably no surprise that I'm not a huge fan of Lilly's loud, multicolor prints. Let's just leave it at that before feelings start getting hurt.

I'm not into college football
I'm from the land where everyone has a college football team - whether they went to the school or not. College football isn't quite the religious experience here in Virginia as it is in some for other states even farther below the Mason-Dixon line, but it's still one of our favorite pastimes. And by "our" I mean people who live here who are not me. Even as a Hokie, with the biggest college football program in the state, I'm lucky if I sit down to watch one game a year. And that's on TV. Don't even ask me about the last time I stepped foot in the stadium. 

I don't say y'all.
Ignore the fact that I just typed it like 4 sentences ago. The actual word hasn't left my mouth since circa 1997. I don't really speak Southern at all and don't have much of an accent...provided I'm fewer than 1.5 beers deep.

Now which of my friends hailing from the North wants to adopt me?


I've teased you about sharing my experience about Wanderlust in my past couple posts, but you may have noticed I've been mum (about that and in this space in general) since I last brought it up on Sunday. The truth is, I just haven't been able to find the words (or the time to give the few I have found the proper fleshing out that they deserve).

When Alyssa introduced me to Wanderlust a couple months ago by asking if there was any remote possibility I'd like to go with her, I was cautiously optimistic. I had no idea what to expect from a yoga retreat, but our personalities and life philosophies are similar enough that I trusted it could be a good experience. Plus, she had it on good faith from Erin that it wouldn't be the crunch-fest we were both fearing, so we committed ourselves to a weekend of yoga in the mountains of West Virginia.

(Side note: can we take a moment to pause and appreciate the fact that blogging is awesome? Because, if it has done nothing else, it has brought together two Type-A's, who love to run and plan their runs, who live in different parts of the country, physically together a total of three times already this year. And it's put me in the same physical space of a few other now real-life friends too and countless other dear friends who, at least a for now, I just share Internet space with. Blogging is the best. The End. Thank you. Amen.)

So where were we? Ah, yes, somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia, where the roads are winding and the cell phone service is nonexistent. I'll admit I was a little skeptical about WV's claim, in its state motto, of being "Wonderful", but after a harrowing drive I found myself in awe of the beauty at Snowshoe, a ski resort that was hosting Wanderlust for the weekend. I had been to Snowshoe for a ski trip years earlier but all I remembered was the cute little village where all the shops, restaurants, and lodged are. We stayed in one of the lodges and had a perfect view of all the Wanderlust festivities going on.

Over the course of two days, Alyssa and I hit up 5 yoga classes with all different styles and ambiance and even got in a trail run. She has already done a fabulous job of sharing the ins and outs of our classes (seriously, go read her recap. Right now. I'll be here when you get back), so I wanted to share a little bit more about my experience and about who exactly should go to a Wanderlust festival.

You should go to Wanderlust if...

You feel really intimidated by classes. I hear you. I got my yoga start by going to classes regularly for a couple years, but I've spent the last 2+ years avoiding them and letting my computer screen teach me instead (not that that's a bad thing; those classes are sometimes just as, if not more valuable than an in-class experience). I've thought about getting back into a studio so. many. times. but just keep coming up with excuses. I would be lying through my teeth if I said I didn't have knots in my stomach walking up to the tent where our Saturday 8am class, my first class in over 2 years, was being held. Those knots got a little tighter when the first thing, I mean literally, the very first thing I saw when I entered the tent was a guy showing off warming up with handstands. To be fair, the class was called "Upside Down and Around" (it was an arm balance workshop), but still. Alyssa and I made our way to a couple of spots in the back that were miraculously still open and set up our mats. As soon as the class started, I felt completely at ease and didn't even think about handstand guy, or anyone else for that matter, for the rest of those 90 minutes. It was very clear from the first minute that my practice was about me and only me. All of our instructors were wonderful and encouraging and uplifting but I think Eric Paskel, the instructor of that first class, was my favorite (we were so lucky to get to take a second class with him on Sunday)!

You're a beginner. Sometime in between when I signed up for Wanderlust and when I actually made it to Snowshoe, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. In my head, everyone in attendance was going to be able to hold a perfect crow pose or headstand or other poses I've only just begun to scratch the surface of. What if my downward dog was laughable, or I fell over because I couldn't balance in Warrior I (happens sometimes)? I may have been worried about that stuff, but I had no need to be, as I learned from the guy next to me in our second class. This class, just so you know, was called "Every Breath You Take," taught by Gina Caputo, and set to music by The Police as orchestrated by DJ Drez. If you're thinking that that sounds like the coolest yoga class you've ever heard of, then you're right. Anyway. There came a part where we lined up, arms behind the people next to us, and went through a few poses together, tree being one of them. Would you believe me if I told you that after class, the man next to me told me that standing in that line was the first time he had ever been able to hold tree pose? Like, ever? I wouldn't recommend Wanderlust as your very first yoga experience, but if its something you have any familiarity with, don't let your lack of experience deter you. 

You like yoga, but you like other stuff too. I'll be totally honest, I was really relieved to see a running class offered. Yes, most of the classes center around some part of the yoga practice (both the physical and mental aspects), but not all of them. There are lectures There are running workshops. There's live music. Karaoke. Open mic night. There was even zip lining at Snowshoe! We went pretty yoga-heavy this time, but we did try Intro to Mindful Running taught by Elinor Fish. Elinor shared some mindful running principles with us before taking us on a guided not-even-3-mile train run through the woods and was so encouraging and helpful afterward that we may even be thinking about  joining her on a running adventure next summer. 

You just want a good stretch. Neither of us had ever tried yin yoga before last weekend (one of us may not have even known what yin yoga was before last weekend, but I'll let you guess who), but "Deep Hip Work" with Joe Barnett sounded too good to pass up after that run. There were only 4 or 5 poses (plus some transitional poses in between) for the entirety of this 90-minute class. We held each pose for several minutes and learned to find calmness doing so. Holding double pigeon for 3-5 minutes might not be the most comfortable thing I've ever done, but my hips thanked my profusely for it, especially when I woke up the next day with no trace of the hip pointer pain I've been feeling for the last 4 months.

You want a challenge. I don't think any yoga class could really be easy at 8am after two nights in a row of too much wine and too little sleep, and round 2 with Eric was definitely anything but. This time we took "Vindalini", a blend of vinyasa + kundalini yoga. We did a nonstop flow with some breathing exercises mixed in. Approximately 47 chaturanga push-ups was way more than I bargained for on a Sunday morning, but I appreciate the work I had to put in to get through it.

You want some direction. In life or in yoga, either way, you'll find it at Wanderlust. We capped off our weekend with "Building a Playbook: Sequencing For Home and Studio Practice" with Sage Rountree. Sage took so much care to break down the sequencing of her classes and introduce us to all kinds of variations on old favorites. This class gave me so many ideas for my own home practice and gave me the confidence to do some self-guided flows instead of always relying on videos.

You want to grow. I went into Wanderlust with really no other expectations other than spending time with a good friend and hopefully having an enjoyable yoga class or two. I didn't go into it wanting to work on my perspective or improve anything other than maybe my crow pose. It took the 6-hour drive home and the following days for the experience to really sink in and to to process everything I had done, seen, and heard over those two days. It's something I don't think I can fully express, even now, but just know that Alyssa was not exaggerating when she described is as "profound" and "life-altering." I've noticed the biggest but somehow subtle and simple changes, like I've just had a slight shift that has allowed me to view the world in a whole different way. This new perspective came at a perfect time, as this week I've started on my newest and biggest adventure yet - training for my first half Ironman. I've already put so many of the principles I was exposed to this weekend to practice and I can't wait to see where they take me from here on out.

I don't always take selfies, but when I do it's because I'm wearing my new Wanderlust tank.
Namaste, y'all.

Sunday Sweats [6/1-6/7]

Still no swimming but I'm thinking about joining a gym or rec center this week? 

I didn't get on my bike at all this week. Shame, shame. It was rainy all week so that made it difficult, plus I had some work stuff come up and a trip to get ready for so it just didn't happen. But after a strong bike at Breezy Point last Sunday, I thought I could handle taking the week off.

So, I've noticed this pattern with my running. It's the last thing on earth that I want to do, until I get about 2 miles in and can convince myself to finish the rest, and I'm always really happy at the end that I pushed through.
I don't know what my problem was on Tuesday, but I just didn't feel like running. But I went out anyway (even though it was a rainy, misty day at the beach) and actually ended up having a pretty good run. After a rocky first couple miles I got it together for just over 3 more and pushed to an 8:27 average pace.
Wednesday was National Running Day and I was PUMPED to celebrate. I drove a few minutes from my apartment so I could get a little closer to the beach, that way I'd be able to do my whole run on the boardwalk. The weather was more of the same so I ran into a killer headwind from about 3/4 of a mile into the run until 1.5 miles, then I turned around and headed back to my car with the wind at my back for a nice 5k at 8:17.
Thursday I wanted to squeeze in a feel miles in between work and packing for my trip, so I went down to the boardwalk again. This time I ran down the oceanfront strip on the way out before picking up the boardwalk at 40th street. That stretch of the boardwalk is the home stretch of the Shamrock course so I was all heart eyed emoji for those few minutes even though the weather was crappy for the 3rd day in a row. I passed by my friend King Neptune and continued on back to my car again for an easy 4.5 miles total at 8:37.
Saturday I got to run with Alyssa! In West Virginia and on trails, no less. I convinced her to take a trail running class at with me at Wanderlust, and it turned out to be a little bit more than we bargained for after 3 hours of nonstop yoga (and did I mention trails?!). We ran just under 3 miles at a pace that was easily 3 minutes slower than my normal than my average pace BUT nothing about that run was in the realm of normal to begin with. I don't see myself ever preferring trail running to road running, but it was nice to switch things up a bit. And don't let the low mileage or slow pace fool you - those not even 3 miles were easily the hardest workout of my week!

Lifting weights doing anything physical was the last thing ON EARTH that I wanted to do after work on Monday but I did it anyway so yay me.

240 minutes of yoga on Saturday + 150 minutes of yoga on Sunday = Wanderlust Snowshoe 2015 = my yoga quota fulfilled for the foreseeable future. Maybe even the rest of my life. But seriously, Alyssa and I had a blast and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

1-2-3-4, tell me that you love me more

Four names that people call me other than my real name:
1. Trace
2. Tray
3. Dude (Ben...we're not really a pet name kind of couple)
4. Girlie (my mom)

Four jobs I’ve had:
1. Veterinary kennel assistant
2. Data enterer
3. High school teacher
4. Traffic engineering intern

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:
1. Donnie Darko
2. Closer
3. Wedding Crashers
4. A Christmas Story

Four places I’ve lived:
1. Charleston, SC
2. Chesapeake, VA
4. Blacksburg, VA

Four Places I have visited:
2. Boston
4. Rome

Four things I don’t eat:
2. Mint + chocolate
3. Ice cream (I think I'm allergic, every time I try recently my throat gets super itchy)
4. Tomatoes by themselves

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Avocados
2. Bread
3. Chocolate

Four TV shows I watch:
1. Parenthood (just finished it, was taking over my TV life for a while there)
2. Mad Men (haven't gotten to the last season yet - see above)
3. House of Cards (see above)
4. Pretty Little Liars

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:
1. Wanderlust (does it still count if I'm on my way there as you read this?)
2. getting through my first engineering job
3. our 5th wedding anniversary / renewing our vows in Big Sur
4. my first half Ironman (I haven't registered but I just paid for a training plan so that's basically the same thing, right?)

Four things I’m always saying:
1. "That's a no for me."
2. "I love you, dog baby!"
3.  The F word (sorry, mom)
4. "I can't, I have to go run."