Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Speed Training

Today's challenge in our running group was speed training. Now all I ever think of when I hear those ever feared words is - Sprints! I hate sprints! I have since I joined my 3rd grade soccer team. Luckily, that's not what we were doing at all. What we were doing are called "fartleks"... yea... try to say that with a straight face. There is a whole theory behind fartleks that is much more eloquently explained in this article that I ironically read two days ago.

How it translated for us: We ran down to the Eclipse and basically ran laps with 1 min of fast "push your red line" (my coach chanted) pace and then 2 min active recovery jogging. Absolutely no stopping. We did 5 laps of the Eclipse and I lost track of how many reps but I think about 10 or so. The cool thing about this is what is "fast" for me is not necessarily what's "fast" for everyone else. It allows you to really personalize your own training and push your body to it's personal next level.

So next time you only have time for a shorter run, mix it up with your version of farlets and get much more out of your time on the asphalt!

View Interactive Map on MapMyRun.com

Monday, May 17, 2010

Open Water Clinic

This last Sunday I experience yet another first: our first open water swim. After a carpool ride up to Sandy Point, MD we all stood at the waters edge donning our newly purchased wetsuits wondering what we'd gotten ourselves into. The water was supposedly 60-62 deg and this Florida girl was hoping for a sunny sky so she could at least pretend it was a warm day at the beach, but unfortunately what I got was gray overcast with a strong wind. Because of these conditions the Bay was pretty choppy and once you passed the sand bar you could see some substantial swells... awesome.

So what's first? Getting in the water. You laugh, but just dipping into that chilly water got your heart racing. After the initial cringing and the inevitable and brave dunk in, we all swam out just past the sand bar to tread water and acclimatize. While treading water, we went over some basic pointers and then headed back towards the shore for our first simulation. We were to swim straight out into the bay, perpendicular to the shore, to a buoy estimated about 300 meters away, so 600 meters of straight swimming out and back. What you don't expect is that once you're out there with people swimming at every angle, waves lifting you up and dropping you down a couple feet, and a current that keeps pulling you off course, that everything you've learned about form and strategy has gone out the window. Basically you are trying to see a pin prick orange dot, in the midst of waves, while also trying to avoid getting kicked in the face. And have I yet to mention how tight the neck of my wetsuits is?

There are just so many things going on that it's really easy to get intimidated and overwhelmed. I did make it though, to the buoy, around the buoy and back towards shore. When I came in near the end of the group I was kind of disappointing that so many more had seemed to handle the situation better. Then I learned that a large group had actually turned back half way out, not able to handle the conditions and giving up on the goal to make it to the buoy.

We practiced the several different ways the triathlon swims can start: running start from the shore line, from deep water in the treading position, etc. After two shorter swims we were done, and by done I don't just mean with the training, but also just completely physically spent. We probably swam 1200 meters, but adding in the rough conditions, I think that was a pretty good work out.

We rinsed off, threw on our sweats and did what anyone else would... went out for pancakes!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Pack of Pony Tales

Tuesday's run was awesome. This was weird to admit considering that the evening before I got an email letting me know our distance was going to be over 7 miles.... SEVEN MILES! I'm sorry, did they not realize that Saturday (during the Brick) was the first time I had ever even hit SIX. What do these people want from me?! So with strong apprehensions I showed up Tuesday morning wondering where exactly I'd either start walking or if there was a way to loop back and cut out some distance. Ironically, for many different reasons, none of our 4 running coaches showed. Riiiiight...

So come 6:30am me and the 8 other girls who actually showed took off. Somewhere before Key Bridge, due to street light timing, the group split off into two even groups. It was the perfect pairing for me. One of the girls running with me was a fair-weather pace partner who always seemed to push me just enough and the other two were "chatty Cathy's" which I love because the more they talk, the more I focus on the discussion and am distracted from pounding the pavement.

Then came the test... Roosevelt Island. The easiest way to cut the 7+ miles run down to a much less intimidating 6+ run would be just to cut out Roosevelt Island all together and run on by. As it turned out, we were a brave crew and opted in. Since none of us were familiar with the area it was more of a figure eight around the island rather than just the perimeter, but none the less we completed it.

At some point over Memorial Bridge, the two groups merged back together and while we ran by the reflecting pool for a couple minutes we all came to silence and you could hear nothing but the chorus of our feet. We were at mile 6 and it was almost meditative. Everyone seemed to be on autopilot and just fueled off of each others presence. It probably was the first time EVER that I can say I truly enjoyed running. Try new things, and you'll always be surprised...

View Interactive Map on MapMyRun.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The BIG one!

This Saturday I experience my first Full Brick. This means that we simulated the first transition (T1: Swim to Bike), biked 25 miles, completed the second transition (T2: Bike to Run), and then ran 6.1 miles. Basically 2/3 of a triathlon. Up to this point in my training I had yet to complete either of those distances on their own, let alone in a package deal. Though I feel like I've really pushed myself to do what is expected of me and more, I was still weary of my performance.

One of the cool things about doing a Full Brick, is you get to practice the little things like packing up your transition bag and laying out your gear in a way to help you have a fast transition. And, as I mentioned before, this is the perfect time to start testing out different supplements to help keep you hydrated and fueled to the finish. I ended up grabbing some Gatorade, water, Jelly Belly Sport Beans, and a Clif Bar. Everything seemed to work great... and I actually never touched my Clif Bar (but that might just be because I didn't swim a mile first). The Gatorade didn't taste gross, and the jelly beans were a great way to get in what I needed without the nasty Gu texture or the stickiness of the other gummy options. It also reminded me to get a second water bottle holder for my bike and look at different bag options to make snacking on your bike easier (this time I just taped everything to the handle bars which actually worked really well).

I ended up biking the 25 miles in about 1:30 hrs and ran the 6.1 miles in almost exactly an hour. So total time (including transitions) was 2:35 minutes. Not to shabby! I had asked Larry (head of the program) a couple weeks ago what time is reasonable for a newbie to aspire to? He said that 3 hours was pretty good for a beginner. Considering a 1500 meter swim takes about 30 minutes, it looks like I'm right on track!

Side note: Throughout this training we've been doing all of this biking, running and obviously swimming sans iPods. This was extremely hard for me to get used to when starting out, but I noticed, after the fact, that on Saturday I was biking and running completely alone for 2 1/2 hours with nothing in my ears. It was remarkably easy and almost peaceful getting lost in ones thoughts.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Time to Experiment!

Something that is still ambiguous to me is the whole idea of "race day nutrition." Since the beginning of this process people have been casually talking about electrolytes, gels, gu, etc. but somehow always generalizing and leaving out specifics. Well the reason for this is because everyone is different. What one person swears by, will make another hug a port-a-potty on race day. So to a certain extent, you are on your own to figure out what your body needs and the best way to give that to it. Inner thoughts: "Great, now on top of everything else I need to become a nutritionist!"

I've been reading as many articles and product reviews as I can find to see what works for others. One of my best resources has been quizzing the vets in our program for what worked for them. Since I'm not really interested in crazy chemical mixes and have heard absolutely nothing appetizing about gu or any kind of those liquid shots, I'm going to try everything else first and hopefully find something that works.

Here is the list I'm starting with:
Drinks - Accelerade (for before & during the race) & Endurox (recovery)
Bars - Clif Bar, Luna Bars (during) and Clif Builder (recovery)
Gels - Clif Shot Bloks, Jelly Belly Sport Beans, Luna Moons

So today at lunch I went out and purchased a couple of each: a new version of the phrase "a bag of tricks!" My plan (not very scientific) is to see which one's I don't mind consuming and/or if any make me ill. Since an Olympic Tri isn't insanely long (time wise) and my goals are conservative (finishing!), I'm not overly focused on which one can help shave off some time or give me the most bang. I'm just looking for some supplements that are easy on my body and will help me finish with as minimal harm and deficit as possible.

Tomorrow's Full Brick offers a great opportunity for the first test. So I'm going home, making sure to prepare a simple healthy dinner, setting up an easy breakfast, and without looking stick my hand in my shopping bag and pull out the lucky first contestant. Wish me luck!

The Little Before the BIG

Not that I'll ever consider our weekly bricks (spin class followed by several miles of running) anything resembling "little", but this Saturday we will be doing our first Full Brick. A full brick is when you take 2 of the 3 sections of the Tri and complete them in their entirety with a practice transition in between. So Saturday morning at 7am we will be lining up barefoot (simulating just getting out of the swim portion) to complete a 25 mile bike followed by a full 6 mile run. *Gulp* Stay posted to see if I survive! Ok, that wasn't very optimistic... Redo: Stay posted to see how well I do!

Anyway, this week (for the first time in a while) we didn't run any significant hills in our weekly brick session! It was wonderful! After a cadence (pedal rotations/speed) focused 45 min spin class, we took off down to the mall, over to the Capital and back up to the Y. All in all, about a 5.5 mile run.

View Interactive Map on MapMyRun.com

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beating the Mind Games

I would just like to take a second to reiterate the importance of workout buddies. This morning we had a pretty tough run, and ironically the 3 different women I usually pace with and my best friend were all MIA. "Oh well... no one to chat with" I thought, thinking that the extent of my suffering would be boredom. I was quickly reminded just how much running with someone else affects your performance. Not only do they distract you from the monotony and the fact that you are technically exercising, but they also keep you out of your own head. When you have nothing else to do but focus on each step and each breath, suddenly you feel so much more tired than you usually would. The idea of just stopping becomes an option. Your are now not only fighting the hill, but you are also fighting yourself. I was reaching this point around mile 3, which I find even more sad considering I was running down hill at that point.

But just when I thought I couldn't take one more step, Arthur came up from behind me saying "Looking strong!" Side note: I can not get over just HOW supportive and motivating everyone is in this Y-Tri program... even if they don't know you from Adam. He and I ended up running the rest of the way together. He, who has legs for days and usually zooms past me like the Road Runner, was suffering as well, but him going on about how hard this run was just motivated me to motivate him and we ended up not only finishing, but finishing strong!

View Interactive Map on MapMyRun.com

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Quick Run in Hartford

We need to do something about these city animals! I felt like a crazy modern version of snow white this morning... running through the woods (read: riverside park) being followed by squirrels, robins and all woodland creatures hoping for me to drop a crumb or nibble. Stop feeding the animals!

View Interactive Map on MapMyRun.com