Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year of Training in Four Pretty Bar Charts

It's no secret that I enjoy numbers, graphs, charts, and statistics. (Never mind my counting impairment in the gym and pool). Given that, I thought I'd share a snapshot of my training year from Training Peaks. We all know these numbers are only one side of the story - they don't reveal the quality, the intervals, the time trials, the drills, and the specific intents (or the sweating, groaning, or occasional cursing). The graphs are fun because every peak, valley, and trend line has a specific meaning to me.

It's human nature to compare, but training is highly individual so what works for me, my life situation, and my goals is probably not ideal for others. Just getting out there and doing anything physical that you enjoy, for any amount of time, is what matters. I do less than a lot of triathletes, maybe more than some, so no comparing!!

I give Coach Jim tremendous credit for getting the absolute most out of me in the most efficient way for my time-crunched life. These charts represent close to 400 workouts, each one tailored to my needs, abilities, and ever-changing physical and mental (!) state. (multiply this times all his athletes, that's a head-spinner). I cannot imagine navigating this sport without his direction, accountability, and feedback. So I give you the year in training, to go along with the year in pictures!
  • Swim - 83 hours
  • Bike - 2044 miles in 131 hours
  • Run - 680 miles in 103 hours
  • Lift - not included in the chart but approx 130 hours (directed by Kurt Weidner)

This is total hours spent each week on swim/bike/run

Miles per week

My need for speed has limited domains

The kids and I went skiing yesterday (in 50+ degree temps) and I was laughing as I realized the irony of delivering my usual pitch at the rental counter:  

Give me the shortest, slowest skis I can have without embarrassing myself or my kids.
Oh, and I want the ones with sandpaper bottoms

Then I headed down the bunny slopes in the permanent snowplow position.  (As Spencer would point out later, it's a 'glute sport'. Indeed!) My ability to snowplow, poles in one hand, was useful as the kids' personal skiing videographer, iPhone in hand.

I love to swim, bike, and run fast, but that may be the limits of it.  I will bike down these mountain roads in aero position as fast I can go, eyes watering, giddy with excitement. But I like my skiing slow and controlled, and my limbs intact. And in thinking about it, I realize I drive slowly too...especially if it's dark or I'm tired. I'm always getting passed on the highways. I just don't feel rushed.

No need for speed. Times like this with the kids are definitely meant to be savored, slowly!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This recluse swam, biked, and ran with others!

It's no secret that I treasure the quiet solitude and freedom of training solo. That, coupled with the over-scheduled life of this working mom, it's pretty rare for me to meet up with others to train.  The last week and a half has been quite a departure and I have to say I have enjoyed the change!

Last week I headed out for a bike ride with my friends and fellow One on One Endurance athletes Jennifer and Tanya and enjoyed catching up with them while pedaling along the rolling hills. Plus it was Jennifer's birthday!! I'm not one to meet out for lunch or coffee (or drinks) much, so this was perfect!

Yesterday I met my friends Michaela and Shannon (who I interviewed earlier in the year) at 5:30 am in the 32 degree rainy darkness for an 11-mile run. The time just flew by and with all the conversation we each finished up hungry and motivated for the 2012 race season.

me, Shannon, and Michaela

Today I met my friend Krista (my co-sufferer at the triathlon in 40 degree temps) and her friend Steven for a swim. We swam a pyramid (50s to 250, then again 250 down to 50) and the brief chats between sets kept it relaxed and enjoyable. It also gave me time to marvel at how Steven can be so fast yet it looks like he's hardly making an effort?!

Tomorrow I'm heading out with Tanya and John for another bike ride. It will be the maiden road voyage for John's new tri bike!

After this week, it's back to work and back to recluse mode!!


Incidentally, I appreciate the input on race wheels I have received so far. One of my favorite podcasts, Endurance Planet, was soliciting story ideas so I requested a feature on wheels!  They are so responsive. If you haven't given this podcast a listen, I'd highly recommend it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Race wheels

When Robert asked what I wanted for Christmas this year, I replied, "nothing, let's just save the money." And I meant it. Gifts are really for the kids and the season is for reflection and the time together anyway. I confess I did buy three glass Pyrex bowls with lids to pack my meals and I wrapped them up for the family to give to me. I thought that was pretty exciting.

So I was surprised to get a homemade "Happy Christmas and Merry Birthday" card from my husband on Christmas Eve after the kids had gone to bed. It was the go-ahead to get carbon race wheels. (My birthday is in March) Actually, the best part of the present was knowing he made this card for me, taking the time to change font colors, figuring out how to print double-sided, and adding in race wheel clip art. He's such a left-brain electrical engineer guy so it was pretty touching that he tapped into his artistic side.

This is a major MAJOR indulgence and does create some internal conflict about the "necessity" of it. Yes, nearly everyone at USAT Nationals had race wheels, but I also kind of eschew the conventional. It feels a bit like giving in. But I will give in and see what happens. I can always re-sell them, right?

The other trouble is, I am not much of a shopper (remember the non-shopping way I got my bike?!) and it's hard to make sense of the carbon wheelset universe.

There are so many brands to choose from...Zipp, Hed, SRAM, DuraAce, Mavic, Reynolds, Easton, ENVE, and smaller up-and-coming shops too. I do know I want clinchers. That's all I know.

The budget isn't endless so I'd like to go with a slightly used set and I am a pretty good eBayer if necessary. But how will I know the hubs and structure are in good shape? There's no sense having an aero wheel if the hubs are grinding, right?

Luckily I have plenty of time to learn a few things, sort it out, and hope that the right set will roll into my path :-) and onto my bike. (Advice and ideas welcome. Please leave comments!!!)

And what did Robert get for Christmas you might ask? A robe, two shirts, and his annual Sudoku calendar. Not quite so exciting. Oh, and the gift of these two loving children, pictured on Christmas Eve!!!  Haha. Classic.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ho, ho, ho Part II

We just returned from the Frosty 5K. It was a perfect crisp sunny morning and it seemed half the town had turned out for it!

Spencer ran a steady race with his Aunt Elisabeth. He is confident and unflappable and I can see him being a peaceful, solid long-distance trail runner some day.

Grant and his best friend William were off like a shot, I could hardly keep up with them for the first bit. William peeled off and then it was just Grant and I for 3.1 miles of jogging, some walking, a few random sprints, and one unexpected leap over a traffic cone. It's never dull running with a 9-year-old. The uphill finish gave me a chance to deliver perhaps my finest motivational speech about toughness!!! Merry Christmas, Grant (haha!).

Grant finished in dramatic fashion, collapsing in a heap on the muddy ground at the end. But he rebounded and a steaming cup of hot chocolate made everything right in his world again.

Not only was this a great morning of fellowship, but the race was a fundraiser for the family of officer Deriek Crouse who was fatally shot on our campus a few short weeks ago.

William, me, Grant, sister in law Elisabeth, Spencer, and Davis

The elite runners warming up

Best friends!

On my Santa run yesterday my friend Anne happened by so I had my own personal paparazzi!! Thanks to her for these pictures!!  Things are quiet around here so I'm going to buzz out for a quick bike ride. Hmmmm...I wonder if the Santa hat will fit on my bike helmet?!?!

Too much fun!!

Ho, ho, ho!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I kicked off the festivities yesterday with my own little "Santa Run" -- a 9 miler through town in my Santa hat, Christmas tree socks, and assorted red and green clothes. I dropped Grant off at the pool with a friend then enjoyed my bubble of quiet solitude while taking in the hustle and bustle passing by me. As I chugged up the final hill, who of all people should drive by but Coach Jim and his kids. I don't think anything I do surprises him much anymore!!

This morning, the kids and I and my sister-in-law Elisabeth are headed to the town's Frosty 5K. We will run/walk it together. This will be my first time in a race that I am not actually racing. Since I don't entirely trust my willpower, and an all-out 5K effort is not in my best interest right now, my strategy is to decline a race number to prevent any temptations to race it. A leg workout with Kurt yesterday combined with the 9-miler has left me feeling less than fresh anyway.

I will leave you with a couple of holiday reads. Enjoy the holiday weekend everyone!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winter break family crosstraining

The kids have been off school all week so I am trying to do something active with them each being defined as "anything that involves more than sitting on one's butt with technology firmly affixed in one's hands." We've added a few friends in the mix too!

Monday we bowled.

Today we ice skated.

Tomorrow we swim.

Thursday is jousting. just kidding. it's porcupine tossing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cort the Sport's 2011 Triathlon Year in Pictures

Before launching into 2012,  I want to pause to reflect on and give thanks for the journey of 2011....a journey that took me in directions I could never have predicted with surprises I could not have imagined. Given the challenges with which I began the year, I feel so fortunate, so grateful, to have had any semblance of a race season at all, let alone one that finished as successfully as it did.

I started 2011 with a fractured fibula on the left leg, contributing to drop foot in the right leg, which in turn brought about tendonitis. Drop foot meant a numb shin and foot, weakness, and a loss of dorsiflexion. It was like walking with a flipper instead of a foot.

This year taught me much about respecting pain as information to be dealt with (and not ignored) as well as patience, faith, and gratitude. It reaffirmed how important the sport of triathlon is to me.

This was the first full year that I handed over entirely to Coach Jim. The previous year I split off before my fall marathon training and I made some costly mistakes. I'm grateful for Coach Jim's wisdom, experience, and ability to manage me through some trying times and I am finishing this year healthier and stronger than ever before. I could not have asked for a more satisfying adventure and  I would not change a single thing.

I have truly appreciated the comments and encouragement that have been shared by readers of this blog (some via Facebook and TriCrowd). When I began this blog nearly four years ago, it was solely for me for accountability to lose weight and "get in shape". I continue on because I still can't believe that this is ME on this adventure. I feel I have to capture it to prove to myself that it is real and I want others to experience the excitement of sport through triathlon. So for whatever it is worth, these are highlights of my crazy triathlon year in pictures.

  • Waterproof cast at least allowed for a swim focus.




  • Return to racing - Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Tri [1st Masters]
  • Meet Mike Morris, setting of chain of events that results in adding Nationals to my schedule
  • Minimal running, tendonitis plagues runs


  • Focus on training, a family trip to the beach
  • Beach means first (short) ocean swim and my highest bike mileage week thanks to housemate John (166 miles)



  • Added Giant Acorn Sprint onto schedule for "fun" but instead got a test of fortitude with temps in the 40s!!
  • Giant Acorn Sprint (1:19:10) - 10/2/11 [11/304, 3rd Master's]
  • Marathon training going great, including a long run in San Diego. Legs feeling strong, psyche gaining confidence!


  • Time off of running and racing to reflect, recover and get fired up for 2012!
  • Good-bye 40-44, hello new age group....45-49!!
  • 1st overall Female Master's in Virginia Triathlon Series
  • Ranked 187 in 40-44 USAT - All American Honorable Mention (up from 226 last year) - plenty of women faster than me to serve as inspiration.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winter trail fun

After a pretty mild start to the month, winter finally decided to arrive today with temps around freezing. But it's beautiful out so I hit the trails at Pandapas Pond in the Jefferson National Forest for an eight mile easy run. I'd been out earlier in the week in summer running clothes, working up a sweat in a tank top and shorts. Today it was long sleeves, gloves, insulated tights, vest, and Santa hat!!

I wasn't sure if it was a bad omen or reassuring to see several Search and Rescue vehicles in the parking lot. Given my predilection for getting lost, I figured I'd stick to the main trail - forgetting that to do an out-and-back would involve multiple stream crossings. I stopped briefly to debate the wisdom of wet feet (and to snap a picture) before deciding it would be OK. And truly, it was.

My legs are feeling good and my excitement is building for the start of marathon prep.

The moment of decision!!

In I go

This has nothing to do with my run except it's a puzzle I finished today :-) Love this puzzle!!