Training For Tuesday: Bear With Me

I was out of town yesterday and I unfortunately came home to the sad discovery that my ferret had passed while I was away.  Clearly that took precedence over pretty much everything else, so I wasn't able to hammer out the final version my last pre-Beach2Battleship Training for Tuesday post. Rather than throw something together in time for today, I hope to be able to give it proper attention today and post a day late to the linkup. So no post from me today, but instead a request that you do any or all of the following, if they're applicable and if you're so inclined:
  • visit my co-host Alyssa and the other wonderful ladies on the list below
  • join in the fun yourself by adding your own linkup
  • check back with me tomorrow 
  • squeeze your pets extra tight today

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Sunday Sweats [9/21-9/27]: B2B Training Week 14

I know it's been 3 weeks since my last Sunday Sweats (don't lie, you were totally counting) and honestly I haven't really felt like writing them lately, but this week was a big week for me and I just needed an outlet to talk about it (besides Ben and excessive text messages to Alyssa, that is). This week wasn't just peak week of training it as also, lucky for me, peak week of the semester. Because, you know, half Ironman training doesn't take up enough time or energy so why not throw in 3 tests within a 24-hour period? No big.

Monday: 70-minute spin + 22 minutes yin yoga

Tuesday: 2850yd swim @ 2:08/100yd + 5.60 mile run @ 9:04 | Oh hey, ridiculously slow swim. Not sure what's up with that.
The weather was so cool today (low 60's and cloudy, basically my dream) that I *almost* walked out of the house for my run in long sleeves and long pants. Actually, I did walk out like that and then I was talked back to my senses and settled for capris and short sleeves. The weather was weird and I'm not sure any outfit choice would have been 100% correct to be honest. My run was just fine; I took it easy because I was still a little sore from running the Hokie Half on Sunday. Ben rode his bike home the same time I was running so he rode alongside me for the last mile and a half and we talked. Definitely blaming him for the slowing down that occurred during that time.

Wednesday: Rest day | I'm using the term "rest" very loosely here because it was really anything but, as I worked pretty much nonstop from 8:30am-9:30pm. I was supposed to do my brick today but when I woke up and realized that I really needed those 2.5 extra hours to study today more than I'll need them tomorrow, I decided to flip flop days. I was antsy for the rest of the day but I tried to remember that I'm pacing myself, avoiding burnout, all that good stuff. I had originally scheduled Wednesday as brick days and Thursdays as rest days (since they are long days at school) but my Wednesdays have ended up being really busy and I've somehow managed to get the bricks in after class on Thursday, so maybe I need to adjust my schedule permanently (or for the next 3 weeks at least).

Thursday: 23.75 mile bike ride @ 15.1mph + 6.39 mile run @  9:24 | Does anyone else get anxiety about workouts, or is that just me? I had to squeeze this one in (well, as much as one can "squeeze in" a 2.5 workout block, I suppose) in between two tests and I was so nervous about actually getting through it. I mean, that's basically an Olympic tri (without the swim) in the middle of the day...who does that? The bike went pretty well, until the last few minutes when I was literally a tenth of a mile from my apartment but couldn't get on the trail because it was being paved, so I had to go allllll the way around, up a road that is basically a giant .75 mile long hill, which added an extra mile and change to my route. But whatever, it's fine. And because of said path closure, I had to run the hilly route, which I wasn't planning on doing and thought I might die sometimes, but I tried to stay positive.

Friday: 3000yd swim @ 2:01/100yd | This swim was a time trial for the race, so rather than having different sets, I just had a warmup of 400yds, the actual time trial of 2100yds (1.2 miles), and a 500yd cooldown. The time trial went just swimmingly (har har)! I felt strong and capable and I loved swimming straight through rather than pausing every 8-10 laps. I tried to swim confidently but conservatively so I could figure out how to pace myself. I felt myself slowing a bit just past the halfway point, but I started to pick back up after a few more laps. I suck at estimating distance in open water and I can't see my watch, but...I still wish there were some way I could have an idea of how far I've gone/how far I have left so that I can pace myself properly. Need to think of a solution for that.

Saturday: 53.29 mile bike ride @ 14.73mph + 3.18 mile run @ 9:26 | I don't even know how to adequately describe this ride. You can find all the gory details on my Dailymile. The tl;dr is that I rode my bike to the top of a mountain (in another state) and I didn't die, but I kind of wanted to. Easily one of hardest things, mentally or physically that I have ever done. 

Sunday: 12.61 mile run @ 10:42 | My alarm went off at 5:30am because I needed to run to be ready to leave to go out of town for an interview by 9:30. My body was so tired when I woke up that it didn't seem worth it to run myself ragged especially before an interview so I went back to sleep until 8. I brought my running gear just in case I decided to run once I got to Raleigh, and on the way I had the brilliant idea to ask Lisa if she would be up for running with me. I didn't think she would be since I only gave her a couple hours notice, but surprisingly she totally was! I ran the first 6ish miles of the City of Oaks course before meeting Lisa at Cup a Joe and continuing on another 6 miles with her. 

This Week
Swim - 3.32 miles 
Bike -  96.87 miles (+ ~20miles commuting to/from school)
Run - 27.78 miles
Yoga - 22 minutes
Total miles - 127.97

B2B To-Date Training
Swim - 30.25 miles 
Bike - 773.56 miles + 622 minutes spin (~171 miles)
Run - 313.02 miles
Total miles - 1287.83

Week 14 Reflections:
- This week turned out to be SO much more than I was expecting. I knew I'd get in some big mileage but even more than that, I got in SO much good race day prep! My brick on Thursday was great race practice since it was in the middle of the day, right about the time I'll be biking and running on October 17. I got in some great practice pacing for the swim on Friday. And while my long ride and run weren't exactly race day simulations, they were, I think, way harder than anything I'll get on race day (because even if it's cold and raining and/or windy, I won't be alone and I won't have hills and mountains to climb). 
- What I really wanted from my long ride was to get in the full distance (56 miles) at race pace (at least 17-18mph) but I think climbing a damn mountain makes up for AT LEAST those extra 3 miles. Maybe an extra 30, I don't know. After that I know I am more than capable of pedaling for 56 miles.
- After this weekend I am absolutely sure I can handle anything that that happens on race day. I've been waiting this whole time to find out what it will feel like to ride long distance and run distance, and okay fine, I had 24 hours in between them, but the bike ride was SO miserable and my short run afterward was just fine, yay! And my long run the next day felt great, even though the weather was once again less than stellar and I ran a hilly course. Somewhere around mile 5, when I was feeling completely unstoppable despite everything I went through on Saturday, I realized that I've done it. I've trained as much as I possible could for this race and I am ready. I cannot be scared away by terrain or weather because I have trained through them. Over 1200 miles logged and, mentally and physically, I'm ready.

11 Things I Learned From My 11th Triathlon

On Saturday I raced in the Patriots International Triathlon in Williamsburg. While I'm not exactly a seasoned pro, I am now in my 3rd season of triathlon. This was my 11th tri ever, my 4th at this distance, and my 3rd this season - you'd think I'd have this thing more or less figured out by now. But race day more often than not ends up being a learning experience, and I realized that I learned more at this one than I ever have.

1. I should put my timing chip on immediately.
So race mornings are a little crazy. When you arrive at the race site you have to pick up your bib, your race chip that goes onto an anklet that you wear, and you have to get your number Sharpied on your arms and legs, all while carrying your bag o' stuff and dragging your bike around. Let's also not forget the fact that this all occurs at 6am. So, in that chaos, somewhere in between picking up my chip and getting body marked (literally like 15 feet apart), I dropped my chip. At least I assume I did because I never saw it again. I combed through the grass where I walked at least 20 times and it was nowhere to be found. No one turned it in, either, so apparently it just vanished. I was eventually able to get a replacement so everything was fine, but I'm still sort of expecting a charge for it to show up on my credit card. From now on I'll slide it onto the anklet and put it on my ankle as soon as I get it.

2. I suck at sighting. 
The swim conditions were much rougher than anticipated and despite actually feeling like I swam strong and steady, I was all over the place. I suck at swimming in a straight line even in calm conditions so add in some current and I was zig zagging everywhere. I'm actually glad my Garmin can't accurately measure distance in the water because I don't even want to know how far I swam off course. I definitely could have scoped out the course better when I was standing on the beach, especially after the last turn to head back to the beach. I had no idea where I was going those last couple hundred yards because I really couldn't tell where I was supposed to end up. I've always known this is a weakness of mine but it became especially apparent at this race.

3. Training pays off.
I know, I know...who would have thought? This was my 3rd tri of the year and in all 3, the bike leg whas been my strongest. This is absolutely amazing to me because before this year, the bike leg was always my worst. Not coincidentally, before this year I trained 1-2 days a week on the bike, and this year I consistently train on the bike 3 times a week with a long ride every weekend 2.5-3 hours long (I also bike commute a total of 25-30 miles a week). I still don't feel like I cycle a substantial6 amount, but it's substantially more than I've ever ridden before and I've absolutely seen that reflected in my races.

4. People are rude.
I should preface this by saying that triathlon is an extremely welcoming sport full of friendly people. I should also tell you that when you pass someone on the bike, you should yell out, "On your left!". And usually I do, except when, like in the race on Saturday, the road is plenty wide and there is no one else around and I can pass without disturbing anyone. So I passed a lady, and I didn't say anything, and she got snippy with me. Maybe I wasn't exactly in the right, I can own up to that, but I wasn't in the wrong either. There must have been 20-30 people who passed me and literally ONE person alerted me of their existence before doing so. I imagine that lady must have had a long day giving people shit for passing her without saying anything.

5. Bricks are key. 
I do 2 bricks a week, one with a medium distance bike + medium distance run, and one with a long distance bike + short distance run. I've had so much practice with them over the last few months that I basically never even get jello legs anymore, and about half the time my legs feel better when I've just biked than when I haven't. I felt really good on the run on Saturday and felt confident that I could have kept going another 7 if I had had to.

6. Slow and steady wins the race.
I practiced running slower than I wanted to and, what do you know, I had the best run I've had in a while. It wasn't a fast time for a 10k by any means but it felt easy and was well under my goal pace for Beach2Battleship. 

7. Aid stations exist for a reason. 
I never used to stop at aid stations in races. I won't even lie: I thought I was too good for that. I told myself I didn't need or want to eat or drink anything while I was running, and I definitely didn't want my pace to drop at all by walking through water stops. Earlier this year I finally came to my senses and realized that that was stupid, that I somehow miraculously made it through distance events with that attitude but that my luck was running out. The Shamrock Marathon in March was the first time I ever made it a point to stop at the aid stations, and I had a great race that day. So now the volunteers at aid stations are my new best friends. You better believe I got water at every single one yesterday and my happy, hydrated body thanked me for it.

8. When one must, one can.
I ordered Chinese for dinner a few days before the race, and this was my fortune. For some reason, it stuck with me, and I found myself thinking about it a lot during the race. I almost always fall apart on the run in a tri - it's the end, I'm tired, and I just want to be done. This is my biggest fear about Beach2Battleship, that even if I do make it through a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike, I'll still have to run a half marathon and my mind, not my body, will be like, "Awwww hell no." So practicing staying focused and engaged was huge for me in this race and I felt like I was mentally present the whole time. Giving up wasn't an option I entertained for even a second. There was only one way to make the finish line closer and that was to keep moving forward. I kept going because I had no other choice.

9. It's not over until it's over.
A few days before the race I looked at my time from last year, and calculated that to do better this year, my best shot would come from improving on the swim. During the swim I felt strong and confident and even though it felt like it was taking forever, I kept the faith that I was steadily getting to the end and that my effort would be worth it when I had beat last year's time. But when I finally made it out of the choppy water and could see my Garmin for the first time, I was instantly deflated. I was 5 minutes slower than I was expecting. At that point I let go of any hope of PRing and just hoped I could at least maintain last year's results on the bike and run. I was determined to do my best, but I was still shocked when I got on the bike and was averaging way faster than I'm used to, even when I got to the turnaround and the tailwind became a headwind. And my run, while not super fast, was calm and comfortable and ended up being my best multisport 10k by about 15 seconds. In the end, I finished the race 7 minutes under the 3-hour goal I've been chasing for 2 years, and 10 minutes under my PR time. Like I's not over until it's over.

10. Anyone who can complete a half marathon could complete a triathlon.
Technically I kind of figured this out the day after the race when I ran 11 miles. The race took just under 3 hours and the run took just under 2 hours but the former was infinitely easier. In a sprint or olympic distance triathlon, you never have to do any one activity for more than an hour and a half, and you never have to run more than 10k. So even though, time-wise, it might take longer to do a tri than a just-running race, it feels like less and is way easier.

11. It takes a village. 
I'm not a member of a triathlon club or anything, and I don't even know more than handful of people who even care about this sport, but man am I glad to have the ones I do. My dad raced on Saturday and so did another couple and a guy we are friends with. We all started and finished at different times, but the race itself isn't when I benefit from having these people. It's the 3-hour training rides that I'd never make it through on my own. It's having someone to stand on the beach with while waiting for my wave, talking out our nerves. It's being cheered on at the finish by those who have finished before me, and then heading straight from the finishers chute back to the fence to watch for those who are still out on the course. I don't really mind when I have to train and race alone, but it's better together.