Tuesday, August 25, 2009

HR Zones

Estimated/calculated HR zones from Jim.


Aerobic: 120-139
Tempo: 140-155
Threshold: 156-169
VO2 Max: 169-180


Aerobic: 125-152
Tempo: 153-160
Threshold: 161-169
VO2 Max: 170-176
Maximal Intensity: 177-185

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lake Norman Sprint Tri!!

Hot off the press [click on the whole slide show for bigger pictures in Picassa]:

Don't have a lot of time to write but here are some quick impressions.

I've been nervous about this for weeks, primarily the swim, but also just the whole thing. There are lots of details to remember about each segment as well as transitions and I was sure I'd forget something, but nope, I pulled it off. Jim gave me great coaching on all of it, and I read and reread everything, visualized it, and was able to go on a bit of autopilot.

The swim (750m) was great. Not quite the mass chaos I had feared thanks I guess to the wave starts. Yes, I had a few people about swim over me and I about did the same to others, but quickly we spread out and found our rhythms. I swam around floaters, backstrokers, and the like. I enjoyed the 85 degree water, and doing what I had practiced - reaching, gliding, rolling, and before I knew it I was finished and coming out of the water in a sea of blue caps that told me I had finished with at least some of the folks from the previous wave that started five minutes ahead of me. That pushed me on a bit as I ran to transition.

The bike phase was only 13.5 miles, shortened from the original due to construction. There were some slight grades, but riding around the hills here prepares you for most anything. I love the hills, but some of my fellow participants must have had other feelings toward them! I just focused on high cadence and staying aero and tucked. After a successful flying dismount (still new to those), I racked the bike and onto the run!

With the run (5K) I settled into my happy pace pretty quickly and then never left it. Mile splits were 7:18, 7:22 and 7:10. Just focused on cadence, breathing, and passing people. And pass them I did!

Then before I knew it, the race was over, and I headed directly back to the lake for a nice little soak. The awards ceremony was held and shockingly I won the women's master novice division. But we all know a better athlete could have shown up and blown me away so placing is arbitrary. I did run the race we had planned for, crossed my t's and dotted my i's, gave it everything I had, and had a good positive energy throughout. It was a great culmination to a fabulous summer training journey in the gym, on the roads, and in the pool.

This was a definite group effort, to get me from injured reserve to triathlete in one summer. Thanks to Jim, to Jake, to Robert and the kids, my family and friends, and all who encouraged (or refrained from impeding) this experience. I can't explain WHY I am this way, but I definitely love these opportunities to strive, to push, to sweat, to challenge myself. I hope that what I do might help encourage others to seek and pursue these opportunities. I just needed a little push (OK, SHOVE, thanks, Jake) in the right direction to discover this amazing source of peace and contentment.

Look for me in the Virginia Triathlon series next year for SURE!

Results: http://www.setupevents.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=event_detail&eventID=1181#results-text

[Swim 16:25][T1 2:02][Bike 41:09]
[T2 1:18][Run 22:03][TOTAL 1:22:54]

1/36 in Master's Novice Women (7th in swim; 1st in bike; 1st in run)
2/136 overall Novice Women (38th in swim; 2nd in bike; 4th in run)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Purpose-Driven workouts

I'm in week 9 of my triathlon summer crash/cram course and was looking back through the weeks of workouts and how far I have come both physically and in terms of my understanding of the training approach and process. One has to train for each sport individually as well as in concert, building endurance, speed, and skills.

Triathlon is a sport of efficiencies and no effort is wasted. I began to see that each workout was geared toward a specific purpose. For instance, some swim workouts were designed as "settle-ins" so that when/if I start my swim too aggressively and get anaerobic, I will have the confidence and know-how to rein things in and get back into an aerobic rhythm. There were indoor cycle workouts created to give me a sense of different cadences as a faster "spin" can help save the legs for the run, especially at the end of the bike ride. And of course the "brick" workouts help you learn how to do two or three of the activities in direct succession - bike then run, or swim-bike-run. Last week's double brick or bike-run-bike-run was a nice challenge!

So I really like the notion of a focus for each workout. That's not to say they all have to be major efforts, sometimes the appropriate focus is an easy enjoyable outing, to get back in touch with the great feeling of the water, or to find that flow to tick miles off on the road. Knowing the purpose, whatever it is, helps to quiet the mind and dig in a little deeper.

One week out!

I'm a week out from the big day. There are just over 500 entrants in the race and the vast majority are master novice entrants like me so I will have sufficient competition. My goals for the week are to follow through on the taper plan, eat well, rest, stretch, stay healthy, and visualize my race. As a first effort, I just want to have an inspiring and fun time that leaves me wanting to do more next year.

One image I will carry with me into the swimming is that of our friends' dog Lucy who came to the river with us this weekend. This 8 year old yellow lab just swam and swam and swam in the current, just dug in and went. She was steady and confident and never gave up.

One thing's for sure, I have very much enjoyed this summer, the mix of workouts, and the change from the exclusive run-lift combo. I'm thinking the part-year run focus, part-year tri focus could be a good synergy. I expect to carry some good energy and motivation into my running season that will start after the triathlon with my sights set on the Richmond Marathon!

Divide and conquer

I think of the strangest things during workouts, and at the time they seem so important, I promise myself that I will go home and record them instantly. But rarely these days do I. Life is still tipped out of balance but I am continuing on my quest to re-establish balance for myself and the family the best I can. It's a constant struggle.

Similarly, workouts are by their nature a constant struggle, but I have tricks to help manage those. One way is to divide everything up into more manageable amounts. In the gym, I tend to think of sets in terms of thirds. If I'm shooting for 15 reps, I think of the first 5 as warm-ups, the next 5 as the working group, then the final 5 are the go-for-broke ones that count the most. Those are the ones where you grow and adapt and challenge your focus and determination.

Runs I tend to think of as two halves. The first half is mentally "uphill" and the second is "downhill" (regardless of terrain; it's a mental thing). If I can just focus on that first half, I KNOW I can do the second half. Even so, I am constantly calculating the fraction or percentage that I have run. It just seems to keep my mind busy and out of trouble. I've had some runs lately that consist of repeats of short "ups" and "downs" like 3 minutes up (pushing it, tempo), 2 minutes down (easy aerobic) and the nice thing with those is it's easy to convince yourself that you can do practically anything for just 3 minutes.

Swimming workouts are the most diverse of the bunch with drills, longer sets, shorter sets, different intervals and cycles. Those I just take one set at a time, staying in the moment, thinking breathing, technique, body position, relaxation, efficiency, and OF COURSE, counting laps. If it's more than a few laps, I have to concentrate pretty hard to remember how many I've done. Although I'm consistent enough at this point I should be able to figure it out from my watch.

How does this translate to life? Well, I think I could do a better job of separating things out into smaller more manageable segments to help with focus and tracking my progress. The better I can define how to spend my time, the easier it is to drill down and do it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Heading into the final two weeks...

Ah, I remember this feeling well, heading into my first half-marathon. Little bits of doubt start to creep in and the danger of burnout is lurking overhead. My first half was a toughie - hot, long, and a jolt to my confidence. The second one I OWNED. My goal in this triathlon is to actually enjoy the first one!!

What I am having to remind myself of: stay relaxed and confident, keep the focus, take it one day at a time, and maintain the longer term perspective that this is only the first of many triathlons so the primary goal is to run a confident race within my capabilities and enjoy the experience. I'm doing the homework and will be well prepared for a rookie race.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Learning lots

The last two days have been busy ones. Yesterday began with the gym, a bike ride, lake swim, and concluded with some core work at the gym while Grant had Karate and Spencer had his workout. Then I was back at it, at the pool at 6 am. I ran into Jim at the end of my swim and he offered some encouragement as well as a desired critique. The best news was that he said I "looked like a swimmer". Wow. Considering at the beginning of the summer I felt like anything but, that was the highest praise I could hope for. That said, I have to work on hand entry in front of my shoulder, and not on or over the midline, especially my left arm, which is always the problem child in all I do.

Later we met for transition practice. Jim set up a temporary bike stand and then demonstrated his setup and his transitions for me and another master athlete, Anne. Then it was my turn!

Left foot on left pedal on top of shoe, grab brakes and hop on the bike while coasting, eventually get feet in shoes and straps attached. Then reverse the process with a "flying dismount" which doesn't involve much flying in my case, but it is fun! Then a run back to the bike rack and a donning of the running shoes. I learned a great deal and if anything this helped simplify the process for me.

Afterward Jim ran my strides workout with me and after claiming I could run no problem without socks, a quarter-sized blister proved me wrong. So now I will be wearing socks in the triathlon.

No surprise I am very tired and perhaps coming close to overtraining? I need to be careful and get some R&R the next few days. The most important thing is to keep it together for the next 18 days, to stay healthy, focused, and happy. I also need to get caught up on work and other obligations. That is a major goal for the remainder of the week!

I'm still very much looking forward to the triathlon. It'll be an adventure and another opportunity to find out what I can do!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Today was a glorious run. It's 66 degrees with steady rain and I headed out for an early run - an 8.5 miler, my longest by several miles, and I needed this one to give me a little confidence as I move into the marathon training schedule in a few weeks.

There is nothing quite like the unique rush of finishing a good run. Done right, there's not much of a mental letup on a run with the constant check on breathing and energy and slight adjustments to pace, form, stride length, and cadence with the ever changing terrain and elevations.

With biking the satisfaction comes from distance covered, time on bike, and the challenge of optimizing gearing and cadence to maximize speed and workout benefits.

The rush of swimming is about the technique, rhythm, the flow through water. Like running, you don't get the breaks, the coasting of biking, but with swimming you have to be much more aware of how much you can push it because it's a lot harder to recover during a swim than during a run. You can only back off so much!

I love the mix of the three sports, but I still see running as my core, my foundation. It's pure and minimalist - no pool, no bike required. And what a great run I had today!!


I'm still not back to regular blogging since spring. Dealing with the leg issue on top of semester and family demands just snowed me under. Then we moved directly into swim team and camps on top of the full slate of regular kid activities (cello, piano, gym, tennis, Karate, chess). Plus I have my training, which I try to do as much of in the wee early mornings, but it still adds to the family chaos. About ten days ago, realizing the end of summer was approaching and we'd been on the go way too much, it was time for a family meeting to decide what should stay and what should go. Robert's work schedule and demands keep him busy or gone most of the time. So we are scaling back, taking a hiatus from piano, scaling back on tennis, no organized chess for a while, and NO new activities. This is the year of just say NO and to concentrate on just a few extracurriculars. They have a lifetime to explore the others.