Friday, March 30, 2012

Long vs. Short

Last week when I was running with my Dad we were heading down part of the Goose that he and my Mom would run on when they were first starting out. I say run, but it was more of a run/walk. We discussed how it used to be such a huge accomplishment for him to run to “the next tree” and now, here we were, just cruising along, about 45’ into a run and we hadn’t walked at all.

This got us to talking about all the little milestones and how awesome it feels to overcome them and how great it feels to push your boundaries and also, just how great it feels to be in shape.

Since then, I feel like I’ve been thinking a lot about what I used to consider a “long” workout and what was a “short” workout, and how these definitions have changed from when I first started exercising. Not to mention, how they continue to change from year to year depending on what distance of race I am training for. Often I think they are quite arbitrary.

So, here are my random guidelines to what I currently consider long/short.

Running: Right now, anything under 90’ I tend to look at as a shorter run, while last year when training for short course, 90’ would have been a long run… and when I first started, man, I thought a 30’ run was crazy. I feel like I've mentioned this before, but one of my favourite quotes (which was a New Balance ad from their love/hate campaign a few years back) was “I love that my short runs used to be my long runs.”

Biking: Anything under 3hrs is short, over 3hrs is getting into the long category, although that will probably change as the season wears on and 3hrs will seem like a ride in the park. On the trainer, 2-2.5hrs is long. Anything over 2.5 is flippin’ NUTTY!

Swimming: Anything over about 3.5k I consider long and 2k seems so short now that it’s like a little blip on the radar. In fact, it is quite a treat when I have a 2-2.5k swim. That said when I first started, I just wanted to be able to swim [survive] 500m and the thought of even doing 1k was daunting.

Anyway, I don’t know where I’m going with all this, but it has been on my mind lately, so there it is.

Now, here is some of the other random crap that is floating around my head this Friday…

1) I can never seem to spell the word occasion correctly on the first attempt. Although, apparently I am having trouble with any sort of spelling today, as this is what came out of my hands/keyboard the first time trying to type the above sentence “I can never speel the work occassion correctly on the first atempt.”

2) I love when I’m running along the waterfront in the morning and a big pack of cyclists (which I’m pretty sure is these guys) come flying past me as I run in the opposite direction. I like the way you can see their lights far off in the distance, getting closer and closer until this beautifully fluid, silent freight train just roars past. (My words really don’t do this justice, but I love it).

3) I did a Pilates class last night instead of my regular strength workout. It was awesome and gave my core a good butt-kicking. I am not sore, but man-oh-man, my run was tough this morning. Coincidence?

4) When I exercise I have trouble being eloquent or coming up with anything but lazy words. This means when I get angry or frustrated, I often get all foul mouthed and swear (not my finest quality).

5) Shane and I watched some of the Canadian Olympic Trials for swimming last night. I wish I could move that quickly in the water. Sooo awesome!

6) Triathlon Canada sent out the drawings of the uniforms for the 2012 Age Group World Championship team recently. It got me pretty pumped for NZ. I’ve been so focused on IMC and training for that, that I sometimes forget what a big deal NZ will be. I’m pretty excited to get to wear the maple leaf and represent Canada.

7) Clara Hughes amazes me. That is all.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

And so we meet again…

The swim workout from hell magically reappeared on my calendar yesterday (only it was longer this time - more 100s, more 50s, oh my).

Okay, that last sentence is a bit misleading. It’s not like it suddenly just reappeared out of thin air. I'm pretty sure it had been there for a while, and well, I knew it was coming – I guess I had just avoided looking too far ahead in my calendar, as I didn’t want to know exactly when it was coming.

So, last Saturday, I finally confirmed what I knew. Tuesday would be my “swim fail” do-over day.

While the prospect of doing this workout again gave me a few nerves and pre-race style jitters, thankfully, I didn’t psych myself out to the same level of cRaZy as I did previously (and I managed to sleep on Monday night). I’m still not 100% sure I truly believed I was going to go out and smash this workout and hit all the times with ease, but I knew I was going to get through it. All it would take was a decent amount of effort and a little composure.

And you know what, I feel like this swim was moderately successful. Sure I wish I could say it was amazingly successful and that I was swimming so fast and with such ease that I could have beat Ryan Cochrane in a 1500m sprint (yes, I'm pretty sure he sprints the whole thing), but well, that wasn’t the case. That said, I didn't leave the pool in near tears and I completed the whole workout only having to adjust the times slightly. So, you know, small victories and all that good stuff.

Also, I’m pretty sure I did better than Rick Mercer (although our flip turns do look very similar, haha).

So yeah, while I felt pretty relaxed through most of the workout (while still putting out a HARD effort - "relaxed speed" was my mantra for the day), unfortunately I didn't make all of the times. Close, but no cigar. I was able to roll with the punches though and not get too stressed about it. If I missed a time by a second or two, I went on the next :00 or :05 and just continued to work hard at it.

In the end, I left the pool feeling like I had a nice strong 3800m workout – both mentally and physically.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thank goodness for Fridays…

… and rest weeks.

I figured a little recap of training over the last week was in order. Mainly because up until today I’ve been feeling a bit worn out (typical at the start of a rest week I suppose), but looking back through the training log, I do think some good strides have been made.

Last Saturday, I ended up having some company for the first half of my 3-hr ride – my Dad! I had planned to ride around Shawnigan, but the snow on the ground had different plans, so I made my way down to Colwood and met up with my Pops. We headed out Metchosin Road to William Head and then looped back from Metchosin along the Goose.

My poor Dad – it seems like every time he decides to join me for a workout I end up taking him on some super hilly loop (ask him about the easy run through Royal Roads next time you see him, haha). He has informed me he doesn’t have life insurance, so I should stop trying to kill him.

Anyway, having him along was great, and even though the first part had some good little hills, the second part was nice and flat and allowed for some good spinning. Once the Old Man and I parted ways, I carried on the Goose out to Interurban/West Saanich for a little out and back. I had a couple 30’ IM race pace efforts and while the first one was a bit quicker than I think I can realistically maintain for 180km, the second 30’ effort was pretty much spot on where I’d like to be for IMC. In the end, it felt like a pretty good ride over a decent variety of terrain.

I had a 15’ run off the bike that the Colonel joined me on and, while the legs were a bit wobbly to start, I actually felt pretty good and my pace was way quicker than it felt, which is always nice.

"The Colonel" aka. Rusty

Sunday was a swim and a run. The swim was fine, nothing spectacular or awesome or wonderful. Just fine, and well, fine is okay I suppose.

As for the run, well, I was dreading it right from the start. My body was pretty tired and mentally I had a really hard time getting into it. The idea of running for an hour and fifty minutes seemed like it was going to take a lifetime. Shane was with me every step of the way though, and at one point when I apologized for my negative outlook, he actually remarked that he kind of liked it as “it made me seem more human.” We did an out and back along the Goose, and thankfully, when we made the turn around my spirits picked up some. It was nice to know that we were on the homestretch.

Monday was a day off. The first of 2 in this lovely little rest week and also the first one in as many weeks (2 that is).

Tuesday started pretty typically with a swim in the morning (where I consistently average 1:41 on 8x 100 I might add - yay!), but had to be shuffled in the evening to accommodate dinner out with Shane’s Dad. My initial thought was to squeeze in my run at lunch, but as the skies opened up and the sleet filled rain poured down on the city, I just couldn’t motivate myself to do it. So Wednesday morning got designated as “Tuesday night” fartlek time. I’m trying to be better about not getting so freaked out when I have to shuffle or skip a workout, and I think I am actually making progress in this department (Shane may disagree on this point however).

Wednesday evening was a pretty killer trainer class with the group, followed by a run off the bike. I always enjoy the trainer sessions as they seem to go quicker and I seem to work harder when Kelly is there coaching, giving cadence counts and just being super encouraging and motivating. During the run portion, we hit a stretch of field that was having some drainage issues. My somewhat clean runners are no longer white, but a lovely shade of brown. The back of my legs also looked like I didn't make it to the bathroom in time.

My shoes may have looked like this...

... but luckily I didn't look like this.

Much like Tuesday, Thursday started at the pool with a pretty solid swim workout. I was definitely feeling a little fatigued at the start but once I got into it I found I was feeling super relaxed and smooth in the water. Definitely a good thing. Thursday evening after work, my Dad once again joined me for my workout. This time it was a run workout, and I actually managed to keep us on a rather flat route!! Proof, I am not trying to kill him, haha.

Post-run I pretty much had to jet right over to VI Fitness to teach a yoga class. One of the ladies that comes to the class fairly often saw me and kinda snarkily asked if Kirsten wasn't teaching anymore (I was subbing for Kirsten, which I have been doing often). It's funny, cause just that one little question kinda threw me off my game - it totally made me feel like she didn't like me. In actuality, I don't know if that is the case or if it was just a weird delivery in the way she asked the question, but it kinda shook my confidence a little. Thankfully, after the class, a girl who had just come for the first time that night told me she really liked the class and that she found all my cues really easy to follow, so that helped boost the confidence back up a bit. I'm coming to realize, that you really just have to be confident and believe in yourself when you are teaching, cause you are always going to come across people with different likes and dislikes and different ways of showing these likes and dislikes.

I came across this little quote the other day to use in my yoga class, and thought it was quite fitting:

"Build your belief in yourself every day. It takes a bit of selective amnesia to do this. Learn from your daily mistakes and then forget them. Never relive mistakes. Once you’ve learned the lesson, throw it away. On the other hand, review your successes every day and save them like trophies. Relive the highlights of your day nightly as you’re lying in bed waiting for sleep to come. Always find the positive things daily. Learn to believe in yourself. Nothing is more important."

Anyway, that brings us to today. Friday. I had a great swim after work and now am ready just to chill. Saturday will be a decent sized day of training, and then Sunday is a FULL DAY OFF!!! I can hardly wait.

Also, because it is Friday, one random tidbit.

I cannot get enough of this song lately. Absolutely love it.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Random Friday Facts: Shoulder Twitch Edition

It has been a busy week at work, a fairly heavy week of training, and well, there has just been A LOT going on. I kind of can’t believe it is already Friday (not that I’m complaining).

Anyway, I figured it was time for another round of Random Friday Facts.

1) Yesterday in the pool I thought I might have pulled a muscle – although now I’m thinking it was just a bad cramp. Thing is, it was in the area where I would suspect my lat or my tricep inserts kind of on the back of my shoulder. So, I suppose that would be the posterior shoulder and perhaps the offending muscle was the teres minor (or is it major)? Is that my rotator cuff area? I’m not really sure. What I do know is that it hurt like hell and I couldn’t lift my arm above my head. I had to give it a little massage and slowly stretch it out before I could continue swimming. It finally did work itself out and actually felt pretty good yesterday, but today, my muscles have been twitching and my whole shoulder is rather stiff and achy (like I did a really hard shoulder workout or something). Anyway, it is weird and random and kind of annoying. I’ve heard of leg cramps in the pool, but really, who gets posterior shoulder/lat/tricep/teres minor/major cramps?

2) I have to write a fitness theory/anatomy exam on Sunday. I totally forgot about it until last night. I am not really prepared (see above explanation of my cramping muscle).

3) One of my favourite things is when I pull the blanket off the back of the couch and it is all heated up from the wood stove. It makes it that much more cuddly and wonderful.

4) I had two flat tires on my bike last Sunday in the span of about 10 minutes. The second one was totally my fault. I completely forgot to check my tire for ‘debris’ the first time around and unfortunately I had a nice little C-shaped chunk of metal stuck in that bad boy. I am however, getting much better at flat repair.

5) I hate hot yoga. I know that is very unyogic of me to say, but yeah, I just really don’t like it.

6) Kirsten will be racing the Boston Marathon one month from today. Yippeeee!

7) My shoulder just started twitching again.

8) I have a 3hr bike to do tomorrow and will be going it alone. I’m actually kind of excited about this, as I haven’t done a long(ish) bike on my own in a while. I think it’s good for the mental game.

9) I just finished reading a book called "You Are An Ironman...". It is about 6 weekend warriors training for Ironman Arizona 2009. I enjoyed it, but also found it stressed me out at times. There were moments in the book that I could relate a little too much. I'm not sure if that totally makes sense, but I suppose, I'm realizing that training for an IM the second time around comes with a little more anxiety (for me at least) as there isn't that same blissful ignorance as there was the first time around.

10) My mind just went blank and I have nothing else to say... oh, and there goes my shoulder again. Twitch. Twitch. Twitch.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Swim Fail

I had a pretty major swim workout fail yesterday. Major.

And, unfortunately, I think the fail was more to do with some mental crap than it was anything to do with physical failure.

I may or may not have had a few tears coat the inside of my goggles.

I may or may not have muttered “fuck” and “shit” under my breath when the pace clock wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be (or more accurately, when I wasn’t where I wanted to be as the clock ticked past that all important spot).

Oh pace clock, how you taunt me so.

I may or may not have been attempting this workout on about 2 hours of sleep because I was tossing and turning all night fretting about the damn thing like it was the most important race of my life. True story.

So, let’s take it back to the start shall we?

Last Thursday I had a pretty intense swim workout. In the main set, there were some 100m efforts on 1:45 and some 50s on :50. These are times I should be able to hit – granted, without a lot of rest, but I should be able to hit them none the less. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case last Thursday. I was either just hitting the times and not getting any rest, or I was slightly over, in which case I would give myself an extra :03-:05 (for example, I did my second set of 50s on :55).

I had done a pretty intense trainer ride on the Wednesday night before the swim, so I wasn’t super down on myself about missing the times. I knew the workout was meant to challenge me and I felt okay about where I was at (I also felt pretty strongly that I would be able to hit the times in the near future). Kelly agreed that Wednesday night’s trainer session had probably taken a lot out of me, and so I was given Thursday’s workout again on Tuesday morning as he wanted me to have another go at it when I was “a little fresher.”

I’ll admit, when I saw the workout in my calendar again so soon, I was nervous. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I kept telling myself I could do it, but deep down, I’m not sure I believed it. I wanted to hit the times laid out so badly.

Without even realizing I was doing it, I had totally psyched myself out (and in turn, barely slept on Monday night).

The way my mind was going, it was like it was Ironman-eve or something, not a 3000m speed workout in the pool that no one would know I was even doing aside from myself and Kelly. It’s weird how the mind works sometimes.

So, on Tuesday morning (yesterday), I headed to the pool for my second attempt at this beast of a workout. I did my warm up and actually felt pretty good. Unfortunately, it all unravelled pretty quickly after that. I killed my first 50 and then blew my second. Had a solid third 50, and then blew my forth. By the time I began my 100s I was so frustrated and so frazzled, I’m not really sure I could classify what I was doing as swimming. Flailing, thrashing or floundering all might be more accurate and appropriate terms.

So with only about half the workout done, I called it. I quit. I was about half way down the lane and that was it. I stopped. Turned around, breast stroked my way back to the wall and stood there for a few minutes trying to compose myself.

Once I felt like I was composed enough, I did a little cool down. I didn’t want the frazzled flailing/thrashing/floundering to be the last feeling I had when I got out of the pool, so I swam an easy 100 with the best form I could possibly muster before getting out and heading into the gym for my strength workout.

Thank goodness for that strength workout. It definitely helped to take my mind off the swim and reset my mood for the day. Sometimes throwing around some weights can be a really good thing.

Also, thank goodness I had a prearranged meeting with Kelly at lunch yesterday. Sometimes it is good to get the reassurance that one bad workout doesn’t kill a season (of course I know this, but sometimes my rational mind won’t listen). Sometimes it is good to have the perspective of someone else (like a coach) to remind you that these bad workouts are just as important as the good workouts – maybe even more important at times.

Anyway, I’m mostly over my bad swim now. It was what it was and I know I’ll be getting a chance to tackle this same workout again in the very near future. Hopefully I learned a little something on this last attempt and I can adjust my mental game accordingly.

Also, I just realized with this post, my last two ramblings have now been about mental crap - one good, one not so good.

Oh, Ironman training, you are one fickle bitch.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bazan Bay 5km – Race Report

The 2012 edition of the Bazan Bay 5k was this past Sunday and I’d say that the event was a success – both for myself and for all of my family that ran. For me, it was a success from a time perspective, but also, it was a mental success. I definitely feel like I made some gains mentally on this outing, and these gains might even feel better than my shiny new 5k PB.

Was it a perfect race? Heck no. Did I feel pretty damn good at the end? You bet.

But, let’s start from the beginning…

I was nervous going into this race. Like almost stupidly nervous all things considered (I mean really, who was I racing but myself and the clock?). I would say my nerves started on Thursday night, and hit even harder by Friday night as I lay in bed trying to get to sleep. I got a slight reprieve on Saturday during training, but the fact that I was “racing” the next day was never far from my mind. Looking back on this now, it’s actually a bit shocking to me how nervous I was – not to mention, totally, completely, ridiculously silly.

Anyway, I couldn’t decide how I wanted to race, but I knew I wanted to try and be under 23:00 (my previous best over the 5k distance was 23:27) and that I didn’t want to feel like I “could have pushed harder” when all was said and done (this is something that happens in a lot of my races – especially the shorter distances).

Sunday morning when I woke up, my nerves had finally settled and I was feeling good. I knew I could and would push to the best of my abilities and I knew I was capable of beating my previous best (I just didn't know by how much).

On the drive down, I made the snap decision to try and stick with Kirsten. I figured I’d run her pace as long as I could and if I blew up, so be it. I’ve done this before, and it has never turned out good, but something was different today. Maybe I believed I’d actually be able to stick with her? Maybe I had more confidence in my own abilities to just push? I dunno, whatever it was, I was okay with this [really not smart] race place.

So, once we were parked, Kirsten and I separated from out parental units and headed out for a little warm up. We got some strides in, and well, I broke a huge sweat. During one of the strides, I may have let my confidence get rattled a little when I looked over at Kirsten and asked “You’re not planning to run the whole race this fast are you?” to which she replied “I’m going to try to.” I should have known right then and there that I probably wouldn’t be running with her for long, but I decided to just play dumb with myself and continue to think maybe we’d cross the finish line together.

With the warm up complete, we chatted and waited for the race to begin. When the “gun” finally went off, Kirsten shot ahead and I was right on her shoulder – for all of about 800m, haha. My first km clocked in at a nice 4:07 pace. I wanted so very badly to stick with her, but it just wasn’t happening. Surprisingly, I didn’t really care and actually didn’t get mad at myself for my stupid race plan. I just tried to keep her in my sights and I continued to push as hard as my body was willing to go.

5km sure does go by quick. The headwind felt a bit strong in places on the way out and I thought the turnaround was going to be a little closer than it was, but I felt good. Don’t get me wrong, I was working, but my mind felt good (and the little bits of tailwind on the way back were pretty dang nice too). I had a moment or two where I wanted to back off a bit, but reminded myself I would be disappointed if I did and so, I just kept telling myself “push, push, push.”

About the 4km mark I got a nice reminder from Kelly about my form and that helped spark a few key reminders and distractions in my head and before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line. About 30 seconds slower than Kirsten, but a full 1:26 faster than my previous best! My watch said 22:00 flat, but the chip time said 22:01, so I suppose I have to go with what the chip said (although "22 minutes even" sure does sound better, haha).

So yeah, on that day, I really truly do believe I gave it everything I had and just feel like mentally, this was a real turning point. Of course, I still think I can go faster, but now I just have to prove that to myself.

Once complete, Kirsten and I did a bit of a cool down jog and got to see our Dad coming into the finish for a new PB with his goal for the day met (sub 30’) and then found our Mom who was still on the course, on route to smashing her goal as well (sub 40’ with no walk breaks). We ran about the last 1km with Mom and cheered as she sprinted the final 100m into the finish line.

It was a really gorgeous day weather wise. The post-race food was pretty superb and everyone in our little clan met the goals they had set for themselves.

In short, I’d say it was a pretty good day at the races.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Black Licorice

Well, I’m in the midst of another “rest week”. Much like last time, my body and mind have been somewhat fatigued, but I have been assured that this is normal and if I wasn’t feeling this way, things would have to be adjusted.

In Kelly’s words:
“I am really happy to hear about the last recovery week! If everything goes to plan you should not start to feel ‘fresh’ until the Thursday or Friday. Earlier than that and we didn't maximize the last block either because of a planning issue or an execution issue. So good!”

So, yeah ~ good! Apparently Kelly planned and I executed perfectly, haha.

I’m also very hungry. I can’t seem to get enough food lately – especially black licorice, hence, the title of this post – but perhaps that is a story for another time (or perhaps that is just IM training and I’ve forgotten what it is like to have such an insatiable hunger. However, the black licorice thing I can’t really explain. Can anyone?).

Anyway, let’s recap shall we….

Last weekend the weather cooperated and Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day! I started the day with a swim workout (where I had to share a lane with a total [harmless?] weirdo who kept trying to ‘race’ me and then proceeded to tell Shane, repeatedly, how ‘fit’ I was) and followed it up with a nice 3hr bike with Shane and our good friend Ash – outside! No TrainerFest 2012 Part Deux for us. Not yet at least.

Sunday I met Kristen for a nice long run along the Lochside Trail. We encountered sunshine, snow and even a little wind, but it was a pretty fabulous outing. We even stopped at the world’s classiest McDonalds for a glass of water – it looked like a five-star restaurant in that place! Seriously, no sarcasm. I don’t know the last time I stepped foot in a McD’s, but wowza, they sure seem to be trying to class up the ol’ image. But I digress...

Kirsten had to run a little longer than I did, so I hopped on her bike and kept her company for the extra 40’ or so. It must have looked something like this...

... except I was decked out in a puffy vest and bike shoes that were about 2 sizes too small. Oh, and I’m a girl.

Monday was a much much needed rest day. It was glorious.

Fast forward from the weekend, and as of today (Thursday afternoon), I can already tell I’m feeling a little less sluggish than I was when the week started. I have a tempo run to do tonight before teaching a yoga class at the gym, and while I’ll admit, I’m not super jazzed about having to run, I know I will get through it and then I will be rewarded with a massage tomorrow morning before work. I sure am thankful for that!

Speaking of thankful…. interesting facts from Ali on the Run (oh, and Health Magazine).

Other than that, this weekend will comprise of training on Saturday (run/bike), followed by the Bazan Bay 5km on Sunday. I’m looking forward to racing this and am surprisingly nervous for it as well. I’m sure the nerves are because I would like to PR, but I also know a PR will take a lot of effort – especially with legs that might be a little dead from Saturday’s training. We’ll see. Regardless, it will be fun, as it will be a family affair - Kirsten, my Mom and my Dad are all racing. Woo hooo!