Tag Archives: training

Training Update: Northwoods Triathlon

6 Aug
tri

From back in the day (2009)

Well, it’s finally here. The sprint triathlon I registered for back in January is this coming Saturday – only 2 days away! I posted about my training plan a while back… and haven’t mentioned anything about it since. So here’s the down-to-the-wire update:

Long story short: I didn’t train as much as I had planned or wanted to, but I feel ready enough to give it a go.

Short story long:

Swimming

I failed miserably at going to the pool to swim (I went 4 times all year). I just couldn’t often find the 1.5 hours it took to drive to the pool, swim, change and drive back. BUT being as I live in northern Minnesota and am literally surrounded by lakes, I did swim in open water 4 times. They weren’t long swims (probably 400-800 meters each) but they served their purpose: strengthening my mental poise. The swim in this triathlon is only 400 meters, so the biggest hurdle for me will be mental. My natural instinct in open water is PANIC because I can’t touch the bottom, or worse – the seaweed might touch me. One of the open water swims I did was in the lake I’ll be swimming in for the race, so that helped even more.

Biking

After discovering that the beach we usually go to is only 6 miles away and that there’s a back way with less traffic, I biked to and from the beach a couple of times, for a total of 12 miles each. Those were my longest rides. Similar to my excuses for not swimming more often, I found it hard to carve out more than an hour for a workout. Also, biking and swimming both require additional things to make them happen – a bike and water respectively. July was a crazy month for us – we were out of town or had out of town guests for all but a week. So I’m not as strong on the bike as I would like to be, but it is what it is. At least I have been biking a fair amount of hills so I’ll be ready for those!

Running

Ah, running. My favorite because it’s just so convenient. You can pack everything you need in a duffel bag and use it practically anywhere. I was definitely the most consistent with running out of the three. I went on a handful of runs with Annabelle on Emma’s daycare days, went on at least a handful of runs with friends (at the crack of dawn no less), and ran by myself a few times. I mostly ran 2-3 miles at a time, but I did run 4 once. Also, after my longer bike rides, I ran up and down our driveway just to get used to the feeling of running on bike legs. (I liken it to the feeling of trying to jump on the ground after you get off a trampoline – you feel like you can’t even jump a centimeter.)

With training behind me, it’s on to race day preparation and goals. I feel about this race like I felt about having a second child – I feel confident because I’ve done it before, but that feeling of confidence can lead me to forgetting the basics, like needing to buy diapers or bring my bike to the race. I’m mostly worried about forgetting the small things – like my race belt (that old chestnut) or tape to use for attaching shotbloks to my bike.

So the other night while I was waiting for Emma to fall asleep, I mentally rehearsed the race and my transitions. Back when I first started doing triathlons pre-kids, I actually practiced my transitions. Now, I’ll have to settle for my imagination. It definitely helps anyway though! I remembered that I want to bring 2 big towels – for putting my stuff on in the transition area and to wrap up in until my wave starts – and 1 little – for drying off my legs after the swim (I hate having water drip down into my socks). Oh and a wash basin to rinse my feet. Races usually provide those, but your feet still get stuff on them between the tub and your bike.

I also realized that oh yeah, there will probably be packet pickup the day before the race (they do have it race morning too though). Oh and I’ll have to get body marked. What if my sunscreen causes the body markings to smudge like that one time? Are they going to have swim waves because the website doesn’t say anything about that. But I can’t imagine them having 250 swimmers start all at once. Though that is how Ironman does it, right?

You see that I have some race day jitters. Never mind that I’ve done 5 sprints and 1 Oly, or that I worked for a triathlon company for a year and have worked over 20 triathlons. Race day is both exciting and nerve-racking… and that’s what I love about it!

So my goals. I swore up and down that I just wanted to finish and who cares about my time. But I can’t help it. Nevertheless, I am leaving my watch and bike odometer at home so that I can’t worry about speed or time while out on the course. Out there, I am just going to focus on keeping an even pace, enjoying myself and cheering others on.

But after the race, I can dissect my times. 🙂 This race is a 400m swim, 14 mile bike and 5k run. I’m hoping to do the swim in 12-15 minutes, the bike in 50-60 minutes, and the run in 35-40 minutes. Add in 3 minutes for T1 (there’s a GIANT hill between the beach and transition area) and 1:30 for T2 and that puts me at 1:41:30 and 1:59:30. I realize that’s a big range but I really have no idea how the race is going to go. Even my previous times (from back in 2009 or 2010!) don’t really help because I was in WAY better shape back then. So we’ll just have to wait and see!

I do know, though, that for me, being obsessed with my speed or time for an entire race takes all the fun out of it. So similar to when I ran my full marathon and did my Oly tri, my main goal is HAVE FUN and remember why I love endurance sports in the first place.

Wish me luck! I’ll be back in a few days with a race recap!

Northwoods Triathlon Training Plan

3 Jun

northwoods tri training plan

{click the image to enlarge}

We’re really doing it Harry!

Signing up for a sprint triathlon happening only 4 months after giving birth seemed a little ludicrous back in January but now that I’m 2 months postpartum and have several runs, bikes and swims each under my belt, I’m feeling more and more confident that I can do this. It may not be fast or pretty, but I can do this.

I haven’t done a triathlon since 2011. Until 4 weeks postpartum, I hadn’t run since November of last year. I hadn’t really even exercised much in the last 2-3 months of being pregnant. So I’m taking this very slowly. I’m also being realistic about how much time I can commit to training, and keeping my workouts to 4/week. Here’s my plan:

Swimming

When I donned my maternity suit and swam laps at the Y in February, that was the first time I had gone swimming since 2011. Surprisingly, it all came back to me pretty quickly. I did realize how out of swimming shape my arms were when doing the front crawl, and I’m definitely slower than I was back then, but by my third swim a few weeks ago, I could swim 400 yards without stopping (doing the breaststroke, which is what I plan on doing for the triathlon).

To train for the 400 meter swim, I plan to swim once a week at the Y. I will keep things pretty lowkey but do a mixture of long, slower swimming with some sprints for building speed. I’ll probably work up to swimming 800 yards without stopping, doing 1,000 – 1,500 yards total per workout.

Biking

Similar to swimming, I hadn’t biked since 2011 until a few weeks ago. (I got on the bike trainer a few times while pregnant but only last about 5 minutes each time.) I was worried that it would be horribly uncomfortable but it has actually been way more bearable than I thought it would be. My first ride wasn’t even 5 miles long but again, the idea is to take things slow and be realistic. I’ve gone on 4 bike rides so far and I’m up to 8 miles now.

The bike course in the triathlon is 14 miles long so I plan to build up to that and ride that distance a few times before race day. Every other week after my bike ride, I’m going to add a short run (.5 – 1 mile) for a brick workout. I’d go longer if it weren’t for the time commitment. I am still nursing after all!

Running 

My first run postpartum, I ran about 12:30 minute miles, walked a bunch and covered a little over a mile. Five weeks and about ten runs later, I’m up to 2.5 miles and 11 minute miles.

My training plan for the 5K run is to slowly increase mileage (by .5 mile about every other time or so), work up to 3.5 or 4 miles, and alternate weeks between focusing on speed and distance. If I start feeling good about running and have the time, I might increase the distance a little more so that I’d have the option of running a 10K this summer. But we’ll see.

Yoga / Weights

When I trained for the Hot Chocolate 15K last spring, I dealt with a lot of joint pain, which I attributed to losing muscle during pregnancy and never regaining it. So I want to be intentional this time around about doing some strength training, specifically in my legs. I think that swimming and biking will also help alleviate the joint pain from running, but I also enjoy yoga and weights. It’s a good way to mix things up — and it’s easy to do during nap time!

Timing

As you can see from my training plan above, I plan to do my most time-consuming workouts on the weekends when Travis can easily watch the girls. Though I am discovering quickly that my workouts often get bumped when we go out of town or do something else during nap time, like landscaping, so I might have to squeeze some of those in on weekday evenings. Emma goes to daycare on Tuesdays, so I plan to run those days (unless I run on the weekend with a friend). And the yoga or weights I can squeeze in during nap time on Thursdays. Mornings are normally my preferred time to work out, but with a newborn, that just isn’t happening. I can barely open my eyes most mornings, let alone work out!

………………..

I have absolutely LOVED working out again. It helps me feel like my old self, not only physically (I can fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes again!) but mentally (because it gives me a personal goal to work toward and doesn’t involve parenting). Plus, it’s just nice to get outside and have some “me” time where I can think and decompress. Perhaps my favorite thing though is just feeling active again. My workouts are only 30-45 minutes long, but the feeling of being active lasts all day.

IT’S GO TIME!

Here Goes Nothing

17 Apr

I’m running my first postpartum long-distance race on Saturday – the Hot Chocolate 15K in Minneapolis. I haven’t talked about my training on the blog much, because well, there hasn’t been a ton to talk about. Pre-baby, I did 95% of the workouts on my training plan. Post-baby, I’ve done maybe 60%.

Which may or may not turn out to be a really bad idea. My weekly long run was the one I did consistently – I only missed one, and that was the weekend we were moving. I ended up adjusting the remaining long runs slightly, to account for that (so that my distance didn’t jump up too much in one week). The training plan I’m following (Hal Higdon’s Novice 15K) had my longest run before the race being 8 miles, and I felt comfortable doing only 7.5.

Since I haven’t talked about my training, and my training has been interesting since moving to rural Minnesota, here are what my 3 longest long runs looked like:

3 Weeks Pre-Race

6 Miles, 1:09:22, 11:34 per mile

Nevis, MN

I know my way around Nevis enough to be confident that I wouldn’t get lost (and the town isn’t that big) so I parked at the Catholic church and took off running. I decided to not look at my Garmin until my playlist ended (around 30 minutes). At that point, I had covered 2.7 miles. So I did a few more loops, aiming to hit at least 5.5 miles – and well, 5 miles would be fine too. Well, I underestimated how long the loop would be so I ended up doing a full 6 miles.

nevisrunThat elevation map looks crazy but if you look at the elevation, it’s only varying 50 ft. Ha.

2 Weeks Pre-Race

6.5 Miles, 1:15:28, 11:37 per mile

Park Rapids, MN

I pretty much saw all there was to see (some of it twice!) in Nevis, so for this long run, I headed to the neighboring town of Park Rapids and ran while my mother-in-law got her hair done. This was the first time I had mapped out a route on MapMyRun ahead of time, and then looked it up on my phone to follow it. It actually worked really well, and I would do it again, though I do recommend not making your route such a crazy loop! I didn’t get to enjoy my surroundings as much with this run, since I was constantly looking at my phone trying to figure out where I needed to turn. I also ended up getting a stomachache toward the end, so I cut my run short by 1/2 mile.

parkrapidsrun1 Week Pre-Race

7.5 miles, 1:20:21, 10:48 per mile

Bemidji, MN

It was nasty outside this day – 30 degrees, cloudy and windy with gusts up to 25 mph. I was not in a mood to go running, especially in the wind, but it was my LAST long run before the race so I couldn’t wimp out! I drove up to Bemidji where my sister-in-law lives, so she could watch Emma while I ran – a win-win! (Travis is still studying for the California PE test, which is this coming Monday! Soooo ready for that to be done with.) I had Carolyn drive me 7.5 miles from her house, so that I could run with the wind, instead of against it. I’ve done this before and it’s a great way to get your run in even when the weather is crappy. And hey, the wind helped my pace – I ran the second mile in 10:12!!

bemidjirun20140413_17025420140413_165312This last run really boosted my confidence level. Up until then, my runs had felt lethargic and slow. Like my legs just wouldn’t wake up. But this run, I felt light, fast and excited about running. The last 2 miles were tough because they were around the south side of the lake where the wind was strong, there was snow on the trail and my legs were getting tired, but I finished the whole thing!

Overall, I’ve enjoyed training for this race, but it’ll be my last for a while. I honestly only have the motivation/energy for working out about 3 times a week right now, and when I’m training for a race, I feel like the only thing I should spend my workouts doing is running – which leads to burnout and injury.

I also did not dedicate enough time to the things that are necessary training components outside of running, like stretching, getting enough sleep, fueling correctly, drinking enough water, etc. Part of that, though, is being in the middle of moving. For a while, I wasn’t sure where my foam roller was – once I found that, I started using it fairly regularly. All of my running fuel is packed up, so I haven’t been fueling during my runs at all (and really, I don’t feel like 7.5 miles really requires that – but I will fuel during the race because I could’ve used a little pick-me-up during my last run!).

I also think that I should’ve done more strength training and cross training in building up to this race – if not during the training plan, at least before beginning training. I think my muscles atrophied a lot during pregnancy and as all runners know, it’s possible to develop the muscles you need for running by running – but you usually end up being out of balance and more easily injured. My knee joints have been the thing bothering me the most, and I’m sure tight IT bands are somewhat to blame (it has gotten better since I got my foam roller out). But I also think that if my legs were stronger from non-running activities, and limber from more yoga, my knees would be happier.

So after this race, I’m looking forward to doing more yoga, walking and maybe a few exercise videos. I’ll probably still run once a week just to keep my fitness up, but I need some variety back!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Schedules, Lists and Plans

6 Mar

First off, I’m sorry that I’ve been completely MIA from my blog and from reading your blogs. My head is spinning with everything that is going on right now, and blogging/reading blogs has fallen way down on the priority list. But I will get caught up eventually!

In the midst of the current chaos, I have been maintaining my sanity by keeping schedules, lists and plans in various areas:

Meal-Planning:

Whenever I get busy, lazy or tired, dinner is one of the first things to go. Poor Travis has had to deal with more than his fair share of frozen pizzas, ‘whatever you can find’ and ‘breakfast for dinner’ dinners. Add to that a complete lack of inspiration for dinner ideas and it was a mess. Then two things happened: I heard of ZipList, an online tool that lets you file recipes and add the ingredients to a shopping list organized by aisle. And I was also inspired by nHerShoes to assign each night a dinner theme, thereby giving a little more structure to what to make. Added bonus: more variety!

I have been doing this for about 3 weeks now, and while it unfortunately hasn’t helped me spend less on groceries (need to start working on that too!), it has been a huge success in helping me make actual dinners, and get away from my handful of rotating recipes (which are great to have, but we needed to mix it up badly!).

Budgeting:

I mentioned back in January that I’m taking over the finances in our family. Well, we haven’t had time to sit down and go over the bills and stuff, so Travis is still handling that. But I have been tracking our budget and spending! After my mind exploded trying to track our credit card, checking account, bills, income, etc. via an Excel spreadsheet, I was inspired by Mel at Winners Wear Yellow to use Mint.com. So. Much. Easier. And it has a nifty button you can check to carry over any unspent funds to the next month, taking the guesswork out of those expenses (like auto and house maintenance) that typically are spent in large chunks, but (ideally) saved for monthly.

We use US Bank and because of security measures for logging in, Mint.com can’t automatically update our account balances and activity. But I can still manually update it, so it works out. It has helped keep us on track and while we are still going over in some categories, we were a lot less over than we were before. Progress!

Running:

I’m training! For a race! I’m 3 weeks in to a 10-week training plan. My longest run so far has been 4 miles – which used to be nothing, but now was the longest run I’ve done since July 2012. I’ve also been doing some cross-training via videos at home and I have to say, it feels GREAT to be back working out regularly. I’m averaging only about 3 times a week, but it’s been nice.

A few things about the race (Hot Chocolate 15k on April 19 in Minneapolis) though are cramping my style:

1) I realized it’s on Easter weekend. We were going to have the race weekend be a little husband/wife getaway sans baby but we have to be with her on her first Easter! So boo on that.

2) Travis is studying for the California Professional Engineers exam, which is like the Colorado PE that he took back in 2012, except even more intense. So he’ll be studying a lot between now and the race, which means I’ll have to watch Emma.

3) It’s still winter in Minnesota. Like, majorly winter. And the town where Travis’ parents live doesn’t have an indoor track, so I’ll be relegated to running on the dreadmill. I don’t know if I can handle that.

Needless to say, with all of those factors, I’m not absolutely dead set on running this race. I’m still going to train for it as much as I can, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I’d still like to run a race before getting pregnant again (ahem…), but flexibility is the name of the game right now.

And that’s all I have time for! I’ll be back tomorrow for Emma’s 11-month update!

* I was not compensated by ZipList, Mint.com or Hot Chocolate 15K for this post. All opinions are my own.

Week 18 Tapering: 6/18 – 6/24

20 Jun

I am doing this training recap early because this morning, I went on my last training run!

Marathon training is officially over. All that’s left now is to run the actual race. 😉

My runs this week were just like last week’s – slow, recovery pace. My massage Monday seems to have helped my tight muscles ever so slightly but they’re still begging for lots and lots of stretching.

Anyway… here’s what has happened so far this week.

Monday: 3 mile recovery run (37:20; 12:06/mile)

Tuesday: 2 mile recovery run (~12:15/mile)

Wednesday: 4 mile recovery run (49:30; 12:22/mile)

On today’s run, the first 3 miles I ran were around a 12:50 pace. Then the last mile, I ran in 10:59, just to remind myself that I can run faster.

Running Miles = 9

Here’s what the rest of the week will look like:

Thursday: Rest (to finish packing!)

Friday: Traveling

Saturday: Mayor’s Marathon – 26.2 miles!

Sunday: ??

………………….

Like any other athlete before a race, I’ve been checking the weather for race day everyday. So far, it’s looking like the perfect day:

Apparently, 69* is hot for Anchorage. But for Denver, it’s downright chilly (what with all the upper 90s we’ve been having lately. I’m not complaining though – dry heat is nothing like humid heat!) And I love that sunrise in Anchorage is at 4:21 – no getting up when it’s still dark outside for this race! The race starts at 8:00 so I figure I could get up around 5:30 or 6:00, get to the race site around 7:00 and be good to go.

T-3 days!

Week 15 Tapering: 6/11 – 6/17

19 Jun

I got in all of my planned miles last week and each run felt better than the last. I purposefully ran them all at a very slow recovery pace. Even when I felt like I could run faster, I made myself keep it slow and VERY easy, reminding myself, “Running slow is the thing helping your legs feel better.” Having no pace pressure also made running more enjoyable!

Monday: 3.06 mile recovery run (38:08; 12:27/mile)

Tuesday: 6.01 mile recovery run (1:13:43; 12:16/mile)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 6.02 mile recovery run (1:12:19; 12:01/mile)

Friday: 4.03 mile recovery run (49:00; 12:10/mile)

Saturday: 2 hours of easy hiking

Sunday: 30 minutes of moderate hiking

Total Running Miles = 19.12

And with that, it is now RACE WEEK! Gah!

My IT band/hamstring/glute/hip area has been feeling really tight the past week so I got a massage last night. It felt great, though there were definitely some areas that had me wincing a bit while the lady worked them over. My legs felt great on my run this morning but they end up getting angry the longer I sit down at work. Even though I get up to stretch and walk around every hour, my hips are not happy! At least they don’t hurt while I’m running.

Travis and I still have a lot of stuff to do before we leave on Friday morning so I gotta go. It’s good that I’m busy – less time to drive myself crazy with race day nerves!

The Race Strategy

14 Jun

As I’m almost staring down a week until the marathon, I’ve started getting my race strategy together. Using the published course map and the satellite view in runningahead.com, I mapped the marathon course. It helps me in races to recognize the portion of the course I’m on so that I have an idea of where I am and where I’m going. For this race, it will also help me prepare for the hills – and get ready to cruise the downhills!

{I posted the maps in map view instead of satellite so that they’d be easier to read.}

Miles 1-5

Miles 1-5 are an out and back along the highway following a paved trail or road. The elevation gain is steady – 150 feet in 5 miles. Since I’m used to this kind of elevation gain from my daily runs, I’m not worried about the hills. I will, however, be keeping a close eye on my watch to make sure I don’t go out too fast. Coming from elevation to sea level, it could be hard to accurately gauge how fast I’m running when I start. My goal is to run these miles at a very conservative, relaxed pace, probably somewhere around 11:45/mile. If I see my pace go faster than 11:30, I will slow myself down.

Miles 6-10

Miles 6-10 are a nice little downhill! But they also include 4 miles out of 7 that we run on a gravel road called the Oilwell Tank Trail. So these miles will be spent focusing on not twisting my ankle and watching out for wildlife like moose and bears! I read that the race organizers and wildlife rangers sweep the trail in the morning to make sure there aren’t any hanging around but that doesn’t mean they could mosey on over there before I get to that spot.

Other information I read: If you encounter a moose, you’re supposed to give them a good 10 yards of space and an open escape route to get around them. If in doubt, don’t approach. Moose can be moody and ornery. Bears are much more timid and if they hear humans, they’ll probably run away. If you happen to surprise one, put your arms up to appear larger and back away slowly keeping the bear in your sight. (I’m kind of hoping I don’t encounter either of these guys on the course.)

Miles 11-14

Miles 11-14 are still on the Oilwell Tank Trail and are the last section of extended uphill! I will allow myself to walk if needed here and just focus on getting to mile 15 without killing my legs.

Miles 15-20

Miles 15-20 are a net downhill of 300 feet! This is where I’ll pick up steam if I’m feeling good. But I won’t let myself run faster than 11 minute miles because I’ll still have that last 10K to run! The few short pesky hills in this stretch should help keep my pace moderate. Mile 15 is also the last of the Oilwell Tank Trail – I’m sure it will be a relief to get back on to pavement. Around Mile 18, we start running through the actual city of Anchorage. Hopefully this also means more spectator support!

Miles 21-25

Miles 21-25 are mostly downhill, but still involve a few pesky (and downright ornery) hills. If I’m still feeling good, I’ll run at whatever pace feels comfortably fast. But if I need to walk, I’ll walk. It’ll be the longest run of my life at this point!

Miles 26 and 0.2

Mile 26 gets right down by the water (only 3 ft elevation!). But to get to the finish line, we have to climb back up to 79 feet! That’s just cruel. But exciting because it mean we’re almost there. We finish on the high school’s track. (The route I mapped is long by 0.2 mile.)

…………………

I found a really cool running calculator today while surfing Runner’s World boards about increases in running performance going from altitude to sea level. Using the pace from my 20 mile run (which would mean a 5:07 marathon), it calculates that at sea level, I could run the marathon in 4:48, an average pace of 10:58 (an increase of about 30 seconds per mile). I would be beyond thrilled with that time. But again, I want to enjoy this race more than I want a certain time so even though I’ve been tempted to print off a pace band for a 5-hour finish, I won’t. I don’t need the clock staring me down – I’ll have plenty of hills doing that!

Even though my legs aren’t feeling fully recovered from my 20-miler, my brain is feeling excited! I’m still nervous, and reading about the Oilwell Tank Trail hasn’t done me any favors – in the participant guide, it’s described: “Narrow, brushy, and full of rocks that threaten even the most stable of ankles, the Tank Trail tests both physical and mental mettle, as lesser-prepared participants begin to wonder, even this early in the race, if perhaps this wasn’t such a great idea.” Sweet. Thanks for telling me that. (Double gulp.)

But I’ve very glad to be feeling excitement! I’m looking forward to getting out there and proving to myself that I can do this. It still seems incredible to me that I am ready to run a marathon. That’s crazy talk! And in just 9 days, I’ll be at the start line.