Kinetic Half Ironman Training: 5 Weeks to Go

This training cycle (if you can call it that?) has been a mix of quality during the week and quantity during the weekend which, if I'm being honest, I don't hate. I'm definitely not pushing myself to do as much during the week, but I'm pushing myself much harder than usual in the short workouts I do. On the flipside, my weekend workouts haven't been as fast but have been about building up my endurance as much as possible before race day. I knew going into this race, with the marathon being my focus until the final 8 weeks before the tri, that my swimming and cycling weren't going to be where they have been in the past pre-70.3, and I was/am fine with that. This isn't a goal race, but rather a check-in race to jumpstart my journey to Ironman #2, and see where my strengths and weaknesses are.

Although my training volume doesn't quite add up to where I would ideally be for a half Ironman, I have to say that I'm really happy with the quality of work I've put in over the last several weeks. This week's weekday workouts in particular were killer - I PR'ed my mile run and my swim!

1.1 mile run with Bane @ 11:09
Today was rest day - after a big workout the day before, I really needed it. I just went for a short, easy run with Bane after work.

YTri Spin + 2.2 mile brick run @ 8:16 /
1 mile run with Bane @ 11:00
Spin class today was mainly long, hard climbs, which I definitely prefer to sprints. The run afterward was supposed to be 30 minutes, but the route we were given ended up being just under 20 minutes, which I was a little bummed about. I've been doing a little bit longer brick runs after my long rides on the weekends, but I still want to get as much practice with them as possible.

1.26 mile run with Bane @ 10:37
I stayed up too late last night and didn't even consider getting up in the morning to work out. After work I was supposed to do a ride on the trainer, but I had a weird day (personal stuff) and I just didn't want to do it. Instead I did some foam rolling, picked out and ironed my work clothes for the rest of the week (having YTri in the mornings is making it harder and harder to get ready for work in time, so anything I can do ahead of time helps), and went to bed early. 

Track work (total 1.9 miles @ 7:00 - 1 mile PR @ 6:42!)
1.26 mile run with Bane @ 9:57 + 35 minutes strength training
Today was the day - my second YTri 1-mile time trial. Not that I put a ton of stock into these, but considering that until I did my first Ytri time trial I had no idea how fast I could run a mile, I was curious to see how far I could push myself. We warmed up with 2 laps around the track and then set off for the time trial. My last one was 7:31, but I was sick at the time, and my 5k pace is around 7:40 so I was pretty sure I could at least pull off something in the low 7:00s. I was hopeful that by the end of the season (we're halfway through right now) I'd be able to sneak under 7 minutes, so that was my ultimate goal. My goal for my TT today was to run my heart out and see where I landed, so that's what I did! 

I haven't been focusing on speed much lately and my legs felt heavy during the warm-up, so that didn't give me much confidence, and I was actually worried I'd be slower than my last time trial! When I set out on my first lap for the timed mile, I immediately noticed I didn't feel the calm control I had felt during my last one. I had no idea what pace I was running but I didn't think it was much faster than last time, if at all. As I approached the end of the first lap, I could hear my coach calling out times, and I didn't think I was hearing her right because I heard her calling out 1:30s. I don't remember the exact time when I passed by, but it was right at 1:40 - I did some quick mental math and realized that came out to a 6:40 mile time. I told myself that was too fast and that I needed to get in control, so I felt slightly better during the second lap. My time at that point was 3:16 (1:36 for lap #2), which I remember because I did the math that time too and wondered how in the world I had just run half a mile at a 6:32 pace?! After that I did some more mental math and realized that even if I slowed down to an 8:00 pace for the next two laps, my mile time would be 7:16 and hey, that would still be a PR! I was breathing pretty heavily and trying to hang on for dear life, and I did slow down a bit that lap because I think I came in around 5:02 time (1:46 for lap #3). During the last lap I got a little bit of a second wind since I knew I was almost done, but it was still a hard push to the finish. By the time I rounded the last turn I realized I was squeezing my abs so hard just to hang on to my pace and I was like gah, this hurts so bad, WHY don't I do more (or any) core work?! I was focusing on breathing and getting to the finish, and I just kept telling myself to keep going for that sub-7. I heard my coach calling out 6:30s as I approached the finish and I was in total disbelief when I crossed the last lap in 6:42! I ran a mile in SIX minutes and 42 seconds. What the actual fuck. I started running 6 years ago this month, and back then it took me twice that long to run a mile - and that was only after a lot of work just to get up to running one whole mile! I wish I were joking but I'm really not. 

A few weeks ago Courtney wrote in her post about her recent 10-mile PR (right after a big half marathon PR) that she doesn't want it to seem like faster is always better, or that her intention is to brag, and I just want to reiterate the same thing. What the human body is capable of AMAZES me, and being on this journey for (almost) 6 years of finding out what my body is capable of has been amazing to me. It's never my intention to brag or act like I'm better than anyone else just because I ran a lot of miles or because I ran some miles kinda fast, but I do have a lot of pride in what I've worked to get my body to be able to do because it's been just that: work. I have asthma, zero natural talent, and a body that looks like it could do whatever the opposite of running is. The fact that I can even run a mile, at any pace, period, amazes me on a daily basis.

2300yd swim @ 1:40/100yd /
1.05 mile run with Bane @ 10:18
So after our warm-up today, my swim coach said, "You're going to swim until you can't feel your legs." Cue scared face emoji. Our main set ended up being 10x100yds at VO2 max, or basically as fast as possible. Someone else led our group for the first 2 100s, then somehow I got in front for the last 8? It was so hard - I tried to pace myself and then speed up for each one, and it worked, but I was so out of breath by the end of each one. These were my splits for each 100, and I'm fairly sure this is the fastest I've ever swam:
  • 1:30
  • 1:32
  • 1:32
  • 1:33
  • 1:32
  • 1:33
  • 1:34
  • 1:35
  • 1:35
  • 1:31
Luckily we had about 30 seconds of rest in between! I also worked on my breathing again this week and, amazingly, felt decently natural breathing on my right side. 

68.76 mile bike @ 16.7mph + 4.07 mile run @ 9:36
I drove down to Williamsburg this morning to meet my friends Carl and Tracy for another hill ride. We actually ran into a couple of friends of Carl's in the parking lot, and they were heading out on the same loop we were, so we ended up being a group of 5! I rode my road bike today, which was so much easier on the climbs but also slower overall. I also don't think we pushed the pace quite as much today as we have the last couple weeks, and we were a little slower and chattier than usual. I felt like I was keeping up pretty well and feeling good until we got about 25 miles in - I had convinced myself we were at 35 miles and not 25, and when I realized my mistake it took some of the wind out of my sails. I feel stupid every time I admit this, but cycling is hard for me and definitely my weakest of the 3 disciplines of triathlon (not that any of them are my strength). I just kept waiting for the turnaround, which I was expecting at mile 32ish since they had told me it was a 65-mile route, but it actually didn't come until we almost hit 35 miles. The turnaround was in a park where we stopped to use the bathroom, refill water, etc., and I was feeling pretty low at that point. I was so frustrated that I couldn't keep up like I wanted to, and seriously unsure how I was going to run when I finally got off the bike. For whatever reason, the way back was actually faster and I finally started feeling like maybe I could pull this off. I definitely lagged behind everyone else on the big hills, but I slowly and steadily made it through all almost-69 miles. I don't know why those extra 3.76 seemed so huge, but they did. I spent just over 4 hours in the saddle - insanity! Like I said, cycling is my weakest discipline (more on the mental end than the physical end, honestly), but there's only one way to get better.
The run afterward was more of a shuffle, honestly. Carl went out at a blazing pace that I had no interest in keeping up with, so Tracy and I stuck together. I had wanted to get in 5-6 miles, but wasn't feeling it from the get-go and felt pretty sure I wouldn't make it that far. We hit 4 miles when we just about to the end of the trail and back at the car, so we called it a day there (and Tracy's hip flexor tightened up so badly he couldn't even walk, so there was that). Neither the bike nor the run today were particularly confidence-boosting, but I'm just happy to have gotten them done.

11 mile run @ 9:33
Today was a slow (not to be confused with easy) run for me, but I needed to do it. I went off on a new route in search of some maroon and orange, and I found it at the Netherlands Carillon. I intentionally tried to keep the pace easy and my heart rate low, but there were times when 9:30 didn't feel so easy!  I was hoping to get in 12 miles today but considering I almost bikeshared home at mile 7 (and every mile thereafter, if I'm being honest), it's a miracle I got through 11. Ah, the unwelcome reintroduction to combining long distance running with long distance cycling! And right when the temperatures have started to heat up, too. I had a nice, long winter of focusing on running without feeling like death every time I stepped outside, and seeing the result in my run paces. I forgot how much I miss when that all goes away during tri season!

Weekly Mileage
Swim: 2300 yds (1.3 miles)
Bike:  69 miles + 50 minutes spin
Run:  25.1 miles

2017 Miles
Swim: 15.3 miles
Bike: 305.6 miles + 12.4 hours spin
Run: 435.4 miles

Coming up next week:
I haven't raced a 5k in almost 2 years and last month the Crystal City 5k Fridays (every Friday in April) caught my eye. Two of them have already passed, and I can't do the last weekend of the month, so I finally got it together and signed up for one this coming Friday! I'm excited to see what I can do, but also really nervous considering I haven't tried to run that fast in quite a while. I'm hoping I can push myself to a PR, but there's also a good chance I'll crash and burn. We'll see what happens.

This weekend I have yet another challenging ride to conquer! Almost 32 miles of Skyline Drive is going to be closed to cars on Sunday, so I'm heading down there to hopefully bike the whole thing and back for about 63 miles total. It's going to be a tough ride in the mountains and I'm a little worried, but I need as much practice as I can get for Mountains of Misery. I'm basically just throwing myself off a cliff with the cycling right now in hopes that it ultimately builds my confidence. Wish me luck.

Because of the 5k on Friday night and the Skyline Drive ride on Sunday, I'm not sure when or if I'm going to get in a long run this week. I really don't want to not have a long run this week, but I also don't really want to do one in between those two and would prefer to take Saturday to recover from the race and rest up for the ride. Depending on how long the YTri run is on Thursday, I may just count that as my long run, even though it might only be 5 or 6 miles? I'm definitely winging this half Ironman training and putting my focus on the bike - I just hope my running doesn't suffer too much in the meantime!

Linking up with Courtney at Eat, Pray, Run DC!


  1. What a week! Congrats on that mile time. I do not see it as a brag at all, it is nice to read how you progressed as a runner (time-wise) and motivating. Have a good time at the Crystal City 5K this Friday, it is a fun one. For some reason I cannot master their tangents and always end up with a 3.2 mile 5K :)

  2. That mile time had to have you feeling awesome! Congrats! I'm still consistently impressed with the amount of time, energy, and focus you put into your triathlon goals. Send some motivation (for anything, really!) this way!

  3. Loved reading this + love love love reading about your mile PR. Amazing. Also really loved your picture from your long run. This weekend was SO HOT. The acclamation to summer running is always hard and I think this year is going to be no different. I'm bummed I'll miss you at the 5K this weekend but interested to see what you think of it!

  4. A 6:42 mile is so awesome! Way to go! And talk about a HUGE improvement! The shorter the distance, the less time you have to take off your previous PR for it to be a major accomplishment, as far as I'm concerned, so to take almost a minute off your mile time is incredible! Congrats :)

  5. Wow awesome job on your mile!!! And jeeze I just admire anyone who can swim like that- props to you :)