Friday, July 31, 2015

A week out from USAT Age Group Nationals

This summer is FLYING by. And speaking of Thursday I fly to Milwaukee for USAT Sprint and Olympic Age Group Nationals and the boys start school the following week on August 11th. ACK!

Last week we squished in a short beach trip to Duck, NC on the Outer Banks. Years past I would have been anxious about taking a vacation during a more critical period of training, but really I think the late July timing was perfect. We needed the break and change of scenery. Annnnd...I still got in two quality runs and two quality swims during the three days we were there.

I will admit the saltwater lap pool just might have helped the Sanderling Resort make my short list of destinations. But I let the family make the final choice.

This will be my fifth consecutive USAT Age Group Nationals and I will again do both races - the Olympic on Saturday and Sprint on Sunday. I am 48 in the 45-49'ers so I am nearing the top of the age group, and in terms of competing for a spot for Team USA in Mexico in 2016, I will be competing AT the top of the age group with the age-ups (since I will be 49 in 2016). So let's just say I will be racing hard, but I am also going into this Nationals without any expectations other than to just have a good smart race and enjoy competing against the best of the best. I also view it as good training for ITU Age Group Worlds, which will follow 5-1/2 weeks later.

It would be an understatement to say I am getting very excited for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final and World Championships. Having that here in the US, and being part of such an amazing week of racing that includes top age groupers, paratriathlon, Elite Men and Women, the U23 Championship, and the open age group race will be incredible. I enjoyed my experiences in Auckland and London so much, so to be a part of that again right here in the US will be awesome. There is just nothing like the Grand Final when triathletes from countries across the world take over a city!

I found out last week that I did get a roll-down slot for the Olympic distance race in Chicago so I will race both the Sprint on Thursday, September 17, and the Olympic on Saturday, September 19. If I am going all that way, I might as well do both, and it's nice to have a rest day between.

I am feeling like I am right where I need to be leading into these races. I have some accumulated fatigue that I expect to shed this week, but I am otherwise feeling strong, fit, and sound. My training has been highly structured with a lot of tough efforts. Several of my recent runs have ended like this:

So lucky to have this shallow creek right where most of my runs and bikes start as the heat has been a killer for me this year. I am glad for the quick cool-down.

My swimming and biking feels strong, consistent, and dialed-in, with my running a little less so, but that's how it goes with the sport. It's hard to have all three feeling awesome at the same time (unless you are Gwen Jorgenson!) When my running is on, it's decent, so my real challenge is going to be staying mentally tough in the races, particularly for the 10ks. All I can do is get the most out of myself without judgement.

I'm starting to taper a bit - both training AND life/work/mental stress so that I can arrive in Milwaukee fresh and hungry for speed.

With that - I'm off for a run before it gets too too hot out.

Have a great weekend!!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Swim Math

I consider myself to be reasonably good at math. I got A's in calculus 1&2, linear algebra, differential equations, and graduate level parametric and nonparametric statistics courses. I have a PhD in engineering. I can make a spreadsheet do anything.

However, yesterday at swim practice when we had a set of 8 x 25's, I heard myself say, "35 second intervals? That math is too hard!"

If you grew up swimming your brain is probably wired to calculate every possible interval. Mine is not, particularly not at 6:30 in the morning.

Poor Coach Tom. We wore him down. He changed it to 40 seconds and pointed out "you'll always leave on a 20, 40, or top!" but that was too much rest so we switched back to 35 and he said he'd tell us when to go.

Well I did step up and figure out the math of when to go (30 seconds from the start - across an analog clock - and add 5). I took it upon myself to announce our leave times...but then I lost the ability to count laps.

"We're done!" I said excitedly to Janet and Rebecca at the wall, to which they stared and replied "that was 6 not 8." With that short conversation our on-time departure was delayed.

I can figure out the intervals OR I can count laps. I cannot, it turns out, do both.

It takes a "lane village" to get through a workout.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Race Report in Haiku: Colonial Beach Double

Left off the bib list
Forgot to pre-register
Good thing spots were left

Two tris, one weekend
Downpours for the sprint race first
Clear for Olympic

Grey wet gloomy sky
A triathlete rain or shine
Sunny in my heart

Next rainy race day
For both the swim and the bike
I will wear goggles

We push each other
Get the most out of ourselves
Happy contentment

No legs on day two
Lazy, asleep on the job
Where are you, I asked

I see it ahead
Arch of the finish line calls
Dig deep and let fly

Only five seconds
From the master's podium
Run faster next time

Apologies to Haiku "purists". I've allowed myself to use the liberal 5-7-7 fourth-grade version. My blog, my rules. Haha.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Coached swim, no whiteboard required

When our swim group began, and we gathered in the pool with Coach Tom for our very first session, I remember wondering where the whiteboard (dry erase board) was. This was what I expected to see:

How could he possibly do his job without a whiteboard? How in the world would we know what to do?

I soon found out. He would tell us what to do, and we would have to listen.

At first it was a little like hearing another language.
"Do __x100, descend the first 3 on 1:50, then 3 on 1:45 holding 1:35...." 
"3x200 as pull, swim, pull with pull on 3:20 and swim on 3:30..."
 "8x75 as 25 drill, 50 swim..."
He'd have to repeat everything multiple times. But over time we've gotten better at listening and at hearing. Not perfect, but better! (However, it's nice to have lane mate Janet as a backup. We do a lot of checking in with one another to be sure we have it.)

It turns out now I like not having the whiteboard. I like not knowing what is next. I like focusing on the set I am in and not worrying about what is to come. I am not tempted to ration my resources!

No whiteboard also means we have many moments of suspense as we wait to hear what is coming. Sometimes we try to predict what is next if we think we are seeing a pattern. We respond appropriately to the set. (Yay! Pull set! What? THAT many fast 50s on 50?)

Without a whiteboard, it means Coach Tom checks in with each of our lanes (he has three different workout groups going at once) between sets so we have a moment for feedback in both directions and then we get our next instructions.

I don't think we have many opportunities as adults to really practice listening and remembering so this has been good for me.

Swimming without a whiteboard certainly has its advantages.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shawsville 5K Fourth of July Brick Workout!

I did my second Shawsville 5K - a 4th of July tradition for many local runners that offers a flat (flat by SW VA standards) and fast course. This was the 34th annual running of this race! (photo above of some of us who ran in red, white and blue; photo from Marion Childress - far left - of C & C runners)

This year I told Coach Jim I was fine incorporating the race into a normal training day, so he had me do the race as part of a brick workout - a 1:10/20 mile bike, followed by the 5K, followed by a two-mile run cooldown.

I wasn't preregistered, so I drove my bike to the race site, registered right at 6:30 am when they opened, and was on the bike by 6:41 am. I was already pressed for time so I figured I'd get as close to the 20 miles in as I could, planning to arrive back at the car by 7:45 for a quick transition and jog to the 8 am race start that was less than 1/4 mile away. I didn't want to cut it too close.

Roo carried a small flag

I wore the only patriotic thing I had - my Team USA suit that it turns out I will get to recycle for Chicago this year. Yay for saving a pile of money there!

I managed 19.4 miles on the bike, coming in at 7:44 am after 1:03. As much as it pained me to fall short of the 1:10/20 miles I figured it was close enough and gave me enough time to not feel panicked.

finishing the bike as speedsters Ignatio and Jordan warm up. 
(thanks Kristen Chang for the pic!)

It was nice to have that bike warmup to take the pressure off the 5K so I went into it with zero nervousness. RD Marvin Ballard, a history teacher at Eastern Montgomery High School, made introductory remarks from the back of a pickup truck. He talked about the importance of our flag and invited one of the runners and her daughters up to sing the Star Spangled Banner (beautifully done, I might add). The crowd joined in the singing, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance (he is a school teacher after all!), shook hands with a neighbor, wiped tears from our eyes, and got ready to race! It sure put things into perspective!

photos above and below from Marion Childress

We start in a cul-de-sac on a street near the Shawsville Middle School

Coach Jim challenged me to negative split the race. I used my watch to stay throttled back in the first half mile or so, then just went by feel, producing mile splits of 6:52, 6:49, 6:48 (total time 21:03). So it wasn't a big negative split, but it WAS one. (Funny how race pace can feel SO easy the first mile and SO not easy in the last!). Just like the last 5K, it felt pretty relaxed and flowing, so now the challenge is to restore that feeling in my triathlon runs.

The open back tri suit begins to resemble a ladder by the time you add a heart rate strap
and a race belt. (thanks Kristen Chang for the pic!)

I have been told I don't have much in the way of a finishing kick, and yeah it's true. So I spotted a girl ahead of me in the last bit and decided to try to catch her. I thought of Eric Lagerstrom's amazing Escape from Alcatraz finish a few weeks ago, passing Andy Potts in the finishing chute, and went for it, passing my opponent with maybe 10m to go. It was pretty fun to find another gear!

I snuck past runner 365 at the end  (thanks Kristen Chang for the pic!)

It may be a local race, but it's not a slow race. Some of the fastest area runners turn out for it. The winner, Patrick Woodford, ran a 15:22, and on the women's side, Mina Demarco won in some super fast time (results not available as of this writing).

I finished up with my two extra miles, and having hardly ever done that after a race, was surprised to see how many other runners were out there adding mileage and having some social time with friends.

This was one of my most fun race mornings, a solid workout, and a great way to start a holiday!!

I hope you all had an enjoyable Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Training stats for first half of 2015

My graph-loving self did a mid-year check in on training stats! It's nice to see such consistency across the year. That was nearly threatened by a sudden issue with my anterior tibialis last week but I got right on it, had some ART work done, and seemed to turn it around. I'm still being a little cautious and it was a wake-up call to get back to stretching and rolling.

I am averaging about 8-1/2 hours of training per week. That surprises me a bit. It feels like more than that, but on the other hand, it fits pretty comfortably into my life. I guess this also speaks to the idea of quality over quantity, particularly since I am focusing on sprint and Olympic racing this year. There is a fair amount of intensity in my workouts and it seems to be working out OK in terms of racing.

I share this always with the caveat that training is a very individual thing and needs to be appropriate to one's goals and one's life. What is right for me may not be right for you.

Truly what I like about these bar charts is the fact that there are no empty weeks! That is a huge win for sure!

Happy training :-)