Friday, April 27, 2007

Workouts, Burger King Style

Not eating fast food, and not necessarily working out fast, but doing the workouts my way.

From the very inception of TRIgirl (and as with Kim's TriMoms before that,) Grandison has practiced and preached fitting training into our often already busy lives. As a women and a mother (okay, as a human being,) she understands that we all have different family- and work-related issues that we have to work our training around. TRIgirl schedules are very sensitive and accomodating to that reality.

I've always taken that part of the schedule seriously, although I do like to point out to Blake or Ed or whomever that "it's MY workout!" particularly if a coach is suggesting that I do something difficult. Mostly it's just rhetoric--I complain while smiling, and while actually doing the workout.

The past couple of weeks I've found myself really having to change my training schedule for health reasons. I've been under doctor's orders not to swim for almost a month now, and I've gone back and forth between relief at having a valid excuse to frustration at not being able to participate in a third of my tri training. The past couple of weeks I've also skipped a number of strength training sessions in favor of an extra two hours of sleep. I'm trying to listen to my body so I can make a faster recovery from what seems to be a never-ending ear infection.

I just read a couple of other TRIgirl blogs in which the girls referred to skipped workouts and, guiltily, felt a little better that I wasn't alone. So, less guilty about missing my own workout, but more guilty about being glad someone else did, too. Hmmm.

Sometimes the workout customizations can be funny, intentional or not.

Jonah saw me running Thursday morning in the Near West End, and again that afternoon at West Creek. I had to explain that I had switched Tuesday and Thursday's schedules and divided the resulting run in two...

...and I didn't notice until Melissa pointed it out, but overachiever Cyndi is going to run for twelve hours on Saturday while the rest of us complete twelve miles.

She'd like fries with that.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Blue Ridge Parkway 50-Miler

This was the first time I ever rode farther than about forty miles.
This was the hilliest course I have ever ridden.
This was the first time I'd gotten up at 5 am on a Saturday all year...

The best part of a hard workout is that I can bitch about it during and exaggerate about it afterwards. No matter how hard it seems at the time, when it is over, I will drink the tastiest water of my life, eat the most flavorful food, and sit on the most comfortable... pavement. And a little while after it's all over, I'll be able to imagine working out again some time in the future.

I got up at five, packed half the workout clothes and gear I own, and met the TRIgirls and Maramarc crew at the Gaskins commuter lot. Much to everyone's surprise, I arrived a few minutes BEFORE the slated time of 6 am. I had even stopped at the Sev to pick up one more Gatorade and a ginormous cup of coffee.

Cyndi drove me, Kate O, and our bikes in the midst of the caravan. Most of our conversation heading west is unprintable here, but we sure had a good time. I realized how smart I was to ride with two moms, since they had brought the best snacks! A cyclist cannot live by bars and shot blocks alone, but really enjoys a croissant with Nutella and some honey wheat pretzels.

When we arrived at the parking lot around Mile 14 of the Parkway, several of us discussed how we might pass the time waiting in the cars while everyone else rode...
Coaches Ed and Blake shared a few words of wisdom and some sunscreen, and we were off. As we headed down the mountain, I was surprised at how much of the descent was uphill! When we got to the bottom, I commented that our coaches had lied to us and that this ride was not, in fact, fun at all. Several of the girls disagreed.

As we made our way back up from Mile 0 to Mile 14, the ascent was even steeper than the descent... I've never hung out in the granny gear like that before. I was secretly thankful that I have NOT upgraded to a bike with only two chain rings in the front. When we finally arrived back up to the cars for a rehydration/refueling break, I was pleasantly surprised that we had actually completed over half of our ride. Several of us spread out a serious picnic on Cyndi's tailgate and wondered where the kegs were. I dipped pieces of my energy bar directly into Cyndi's economy size vat of peanut butter, ate half Kate's bag of pretzels, and who knows what else. At this point, it was all better than four-star dining. I commented that our coaches had lied to us and that this ride was not, in fact, fun at all. Several of the girls agreed.

Back up the mountain, heading for the 25 mile marker. I noted, with dismay, that there were only two downhills during this eleven mile portion of the ride. I then noted, with pleasure, that meant the last eleven miles of the whole ride weren't going to be so painful. This section of the ride was by far the hardest for me. My lower back was hurting so badly about halfway through this leg that I actually cried. Mostly just because I could. When I saw Kate T and Anna stopped just ahead of the 25-mile marker, I couldn't get off my bike fast enough. It felt so good just to lie down in the grass on the shoulder for just a minute, and I guess the shot blocks even still tasted okay.

Had the last eleven miles been the entire workout, it would have been one of my favorites ever. Picked up some good speed on the downhills, and felt pretty darn proud of myself for finishing the ride at all. We resumed our tailgate back at the parking lot--about fifteen of us sitting in the middle of the road breaking bread together. I knew I'd picked the best training boyfriend when Bob sat down next to me and offered me half of his Italian sub. That beats trail mix any day!

I think this was the hardest workout I've ever done in my life, and I include my four marathons when I say that.

Actually, that's what I was thinking on Saturday.

Today, I'm remembering what a great ride I had, what a beautiful day it was, and how much fun I had with Cyndi, Kate, Bob, and everyone else. Thank God for my health, my training team, and a sunny April day in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Speed Workout

I had never done any speed work before in my life until TRIgirls joined forces with Maramarc back in December. I don't love doing repeats, but I can see their effectiveness reflected in my race times.
Thursday brought us ten of these half-mile lovelies.
Based on my previous timed mile of about 7:30, Mark has assigned me a target half-mile time of 3:40. I didn't hit it AT ALL on Thursday, but I was pretty pleased with my consistency.
HM 1--4:12 (I counted it as warm-up)
HM 2--3:52
HM 3--3:52
HM 4--3:56
HM 5--3:54
HM 6--3:55
HM 7--3:58
HM 8--4:01
HM 9--3:58
HM 10-3:58
SanDee ran the first four repeats (her first ever!) and after that, she would run, jog, and/or walk around and run me up the hill on the Vita Course for each of my remaining repeats. It was a true blessing--I really needed the "encouragement."

Belated Posts

Okay, so I'm the last to say it, and now it's repetitive, but it really is hard to train AND blog about training. Oh yeah, and work, and be a human being...
So, here's the update.

Work: Still plugging along at VCU and Hondo's. This is the last week of classes, so I'm prepping for that transition period that comes at the end of every semester--being super-busy for a couple of weeks, then knowing that I'm going to have a small crisis when I DON'T have to go to school--that feeling of having forgotten or lost something important. I am teaching one summer class at VCU, and Joe has offered me two classes at UR in the fall already. I was seriously considering finding a fulltime job at the end of this semester, but now I'm thinking that I may just keep the adjunct-waitress schedule through Ironman. I won't make my millions, but I will have some flexibility in scheduling that is great for the long hours of training.

Health: My body finally fell apart at thirty-two. I have been to the doctor more in the past three months than in the past five years. In between minor girl procedures, I'm suffering with the world's longest lasting ear infection. I haven't been in the pool for over three weeks, and this is not going to be the last interruption in my swim training this summer.

Attitude: We are FINALLY experiencing more seasonable temperatures. I'm always in a better mood when I can open my windows!

Training: Aside from the aforementioned swimming hiatus, I've been successfully completing all my workouts. I have skimped a couple of times on weight training, but I will say that it has usually been to get in a couple more hours of much-needed sleep. I've been trying to focus on listening more to my body on the rest side of things... I'm feeling pretty strong on the bike and run workouts, and actually was very proud of my workouts last week, which were our toughest to date. Thursday's run was TEN half-mile repeats (most done before was six,) and Saturday's fifty-mile ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway was not only the farthest I'd ever biked, it was also the hilliest.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Monument Avenue 10K Race Report

The Monument Avenue 10K is a special race to me. It was the first race I ever ran, in 2004, which is either three years ago or a lifetime ago, depending on how you look at it. I had just started running, thanks to some inspiration from my brother Dyron and the autobiography of Dick Traum, and was ready for my first run with thousands of other people, water stops, and a big clock.

This year, I started in Wave E, for people with predicted finish times of :51 to :54. Perhaps a bit ambitious, but I've been training! My previous times for this race have fluctuated quite a bit.
Mostly, they reflect my weight gain last year (and it was hot!) but it's also interesting how any particular factors can influence one's time on race day.

I was glad to see Anna join my in the E group--we trained together a lot last season, but I haven't seen her much over the winter. Just as the C wave took off, I ducked out of the corral for a last-minute pee break down a side street. It was so totally worth it. Our gun when off at 8:44, fourteen minutes after the official race start, and we took off!

I was really proud of my pacing at the Shamrock 8K a couple of weeks ago, and tried to do the same thing here--not start too fast, but at the same time, not too slow, which I think I may have done a few times in the past. I had just read two articles in the current issue of Runner's World that were applicable here--one on starting off a little faster in a 5K, and the other on what the elites think to themselves during a race.

I generally think about when I'm going to throw up or if I have to pee (not this time!) or how far to the next water stop... I added in some "I think I can, I think I can, I know I can!" as suggested by someone much faster than I quoted in RW. I knew I was on track to PR, so I imagined seeing my sister at the end and telling her--actually, more like having her catch me first, or something! I thought about the first-time runners, I thought about Ironman, but only a little, because that thought hurt! I thought "faster, stronger"--another ripoff from RW.

In no particular order, here are the highlights of this year's race.

***A gorgeous spring day in Richmond.
***Driving to the start with my very special friends Ashley and Lauren and my newfound friend and TRIgirl little sister Jennifer.
***Meeting up with, cheering for and beeing cheered for by, and just generally loving, over thirty TRIgirls before, during, and after the race.
***Wearing my TRIgirl jersey--it is so cool to be part of such a great team!
***Getting caught up in the excitement with over 25,000 participants.
***Seeing my sweet, sweet sister Shannon, who, unable to run due to blisters and funny legs, held some gear for us.
***Seeing my dad, waiting for my mom, at the finish. I love that my whole family participates in races together.
***Cheering first-time racer Kay to the finish.
***Post-race Mexican and margaritas with TRIgirls Jennifer, Cathy, and Kay.
***Getting my PR! 54:09.

PS My pacing was great again! First 5K--27:04, second 5K--27:05! "That is consistent if I have ever heard it."--the Beeber