Sunday, May 31, 2009

Scopin' out my nemesis

Friday's workout: Day off
Saturday's workout: Run 60 minutes (~ 4.5 miles)
Today's workout: Open water swim (I think I went about 350 meters)

We made our way over to Highline State Park today to check out the course. My husband (we'll call him "M" because I'm tired of typing out "my husband") couldn't swim with me because he has stitches that won't come out until this week. We found a spot for him to sit with my bag and I made my way to the water.
Now, I knew the water was going to be cold. The race website says that the average temperature at 7:30am is 67 degrees. I have no idea how warm the water was today. We went around 12:30, but it has been overcast all weekend so I didn't think it would make a huge difference. I expected the water to take my breath away; it was just a bit shocking the first time. I can't imagine ever doing a polar bear swim after feeling that water today.

There were two other lap swimmers in caps and wet suits. I made small talk with one; his name is Ryan. This is also his first race, he watched it last year and told his friend Dave (the other one in the water) that he would try it out this year. We chatted about water temperature, why he's choosing to wear a wet suit (buoyancy mostly), and the bike course. I guess the bike section is hillier than he expected, and he hasn't trained for hills at all. The next two weeks will be no fun for him.

I made two laps around the outer edge of the swim beach, that way if I got freaked out I could grab on to the rope. I have no idea why, but I couldn't breathe out under water at all. Every time I tried, it felt like there was too much pressure. I ended up swimming two laps (~350m) with my head above water. That was definitely not a good idea. I was so dizzy by the end of the second lap I was sure I would lose my lunch right then and there. We left today with me dizzy, nauseous, frustrated and a little freaked out. I came home tonight, broke down and bought a wet suit for buoyancy and warmth. Every bit of psychological advantage I can get in the water will help. We're going out next weekend to try the underwater breathing again. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nothin' but freestyle, baby

Yesterday's workout: Swim 700 meters
Today's workout: Swim 1350 meters (all freestyle!)

The normal swim coach wasn't there tonight, so she sent her brother as a substitute. I told the guy a quick back story - race in two weeks, been swimming for six months, anything is helpful, etc. I also told him not to be afraid of being mean. By the end of the lesson he was stopping me every couple of laps to bark out what I was doing wrong. He did give me some very good tips though:

- Keep my knees together so my kicking is more efficient
- Don't separate my fingers
- Dig my hand into the water half way through my stroke and keep my arm on top of the water, not in the air. He told me I should be making an "S" shape.
- Keep my arm tight when I come up for air. My arms flail about when I come up for air.
- Try to breathe out of the side of my mouth. I'm bringing my head above water more than I should need to.
- Don't look ahead of me when I come up for breath, just tilt my body and come back down.

I could definitely notice a change in my efficiency over the course of the hour. I was able to do 200-300m at once without freaking out. Yes, I was tired at the end of it, but that's the farthest I've ever gone without having to flip over and do 25 meters of backstroke to catch my breath.

We might try and go out to the park this weekend where they are holding the race. I'd like to get in the lake and try it out. The temperature of the water is supposed to be around 67 degrees at the start of the race, so if I need to rent a wet suit I should do that soon.

Fifteen days to go.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I went. I swam. It sucked.

Today's workout: Swim ~700 meters, run for 30 minutes

So, I didn't exactly make it to the gym yesterday. By the time I got around to going it was eight o'clock. The best "punishment" I could think of was to get up at 5:45am and head over to the gym to swim before work.

I went. I swam. It sucked.

I haven't swam in a week. I was having the most horrible time breathing this morning, its almost like I forgot everything Morgan taught me. I think I wasn't getting everything out before coming up for a breath, at least that's what it felt like. I started Googling for answers, and I found this: What is the #1 issue? Not letting out all of your air before coming up. By George, I think I'm on to something! As hard as it was, it felt great to go this morning and it felt even better to go running tonight.

My co-worker came over and my husband watched the little one while we went running together. Its a 1.82 mile loop door to door, and I think we could have done two but I was worried about leaving my husband alone with the kid for that long. Don't get me wrong, he loves children. But the little one was not very happy that mommy (co-worker) left her, even for 30 minutes. I'm sure as time goes by, she'll get better with him. But for now, its Mommy or Bust.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Corrective Exercises

I found these on another blog I follow (how did I not learn about Google Reader sooner?). I hope they are helpful to anyone that is looking for new ways to cross-train.

Corrective Exercises #1:

Corrective Exercises #2:

Corrective Exercises #3:

Corrective Exercises #4:

And finally, three exercises they believe no one should ever do again:

I've been bad. . .

Tuesday workout: Bike to work (~8.33 miles)
Wednesday: Day off! (Which are very important)
Thursday: 30 min cross training (eliptical)
Friday, Saturday: Day off (This is where I've been bad)
Yesterday: Bike 20 miles, save a goat, walk 30 minutes

I've been very, very bad this week. There is something about taking a day off that throws my whole schedule off. At least when I bike to work I'm doing something. I know that a day off is good for me; and I know that I have probably been overtraining. But, I can't seem to shake the fact that taking a day off is derailing this whole program. I feel like I'm trying to sabotage myself. I have worked so hard and so long for this; why am I setting myself up for failure? Maybe its because I know I can finish at this point, which is my primary goal. Everything from here on out is just improving my time and preventing injury. At the same time though, I don't want to be the last one to cross the finish line.

Traveling for work doesn't really help either. When I get back to the hotel, all I want to do is work on stuff from earlier in the day; trying to write up paperwork or prepare reports so I don't have to do it later. What I really should be doing is going downstairs to the hotel gym. I did actually do that on Thursday, although after 1/4 mile their treadmill automatically shut off which when you're going 5.5 mph is quite the jolt. I ended up on the eliptical instead, whick added in some badly needed cross training.

Sunday my co-worker and I went for a bike ride on the country roads behind my house. She says I've inspired her to do the triathlon, so if I could take her on a bike ride and not kill her she'd sign up. This is the same co-worker that taught me to swim in Seattle. She also used to be a runner before she had her daughter last year. With only three weeks to go I can be certain she will finish faster than I do.

About 2 miles from home we went past a farm and saw a goat. I couldn't tell it was in trouble, but it had gotten stuck in a fence and was crying for help. We turned around, co-worker jumped the fence and spent a good 3-4 minutes de-tangling what turned out to be a massively pregnant goat from its metal restraint. I think that made us feel more accomplished than the 18 miles we had just riden.

Alright interwebs, I need to get off my butt. I *will* do something tonight, either swim or go for a run. I haven't decided which yet, but I'm putting this out there to hold me accountable. I have not come this far to screw it all up now.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Today's workout: Bike to work (8.71 miles according to MapMyRide), swim 700 meters

I can't believe I did it. Today, I swam 500 meters without stopping. FIVE HUNDRED METERS! I know it doesn't sound like much, but those ten laps felt like they would go on forever.

This is the distance I have to swim in the triathlon. Of course, I'm swimming in a pool and the race swim is in open water, but lets enjoy my baby steps for a moment, mmmmkay? I couldn't do the whole thing freestyle, but here is what I did to be successful:

100m freestyle
25m backstroke

Repeat this two more times

125m freestyle

I felt so accomplished at the 475 mark I decided to freestyle the last 25m. The breathing technique that Morgan gave me at the last master's swim class really helped. I have a problem with holding my breath under water, which is just taking more energy than it should. So, I asked her about it and she told me to hum under water. It sounds crazy, but I've been able to get a pattern down where I get all of my breath out before I come up for more oxygen. Sometimes I can make it four strokes; if I'm feeling tired I can only make it three before having to come up. But, I know that I can modify things as I go to make it work.

There were a couple of times where I just couldn't make the whole 100m freestyle, so I would do the breaststroke for 10m or so to catch my breath. I wish I had a video camera to see how ridiculous I looked trying to be a "froggy" in the water.

The best part is that my fabulous husband bought me a heart rate monitor for our wedding anniversary. I was able to time myself, and I did 500m in 15:28. I'm certainly no Michael Phelps, but my goal of 20 minutes for the swim leg of the race seems easily attainable. The HRM came with a footpod that I'll try out tomorrow when I do my brick workout.

Side note: I was coming home on my bike and signaled at a stop sign that I was turning right (so it looked like I was waving). Some high school kid thought I was waving at him and waved back from his Jeep! BWHAHAHA! A good end to a productive and encouraging workout.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Heaven. . .

Friday's workout: Day off! (very important)
Saturday's workout: Run 45-50 minutes (about 3.5-4 miles), swim 600 meters
Sunday's workout: Bike ~12 miles (mileage per MapMyRide)

My husband I and went out of town this weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We went to Avon, Colorado (at the base of Beaver Creek) and stayed at a beautiful hotel right next to the Eagle River. There is a trail that goes from Avon to Edwards (about 4 miles one way) that I followed for my long run on Saturday.

I was in heaven.

The scenery was gorgeous. I turned down my MP3 player so I could hear the river rushing past me while I tried to keep up. I wasn't going even close to the same speed, but the river didn't care; it was just happy to have the company. Of course, you can't see the river in this shot (it is on the left side), but you get the general idea of the view.

The hotel we stayed at also boasts the largest pool in the valley at 25m. It's a saline pool as well, so no clorine to make your skin dry and itchy. I was able to go 350m without stopping on Saturday, which I'm happy with considering the whole pool length debacle of two weeks ago.

Back to work and reality tomorrow.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I can haz breath?

Today's workout: Bike to work (~5 miles, I met my husband at the gym and we threw my bike in the back of the car. I know, I'm a wimp), swim 950 meters

My gym just started a master's swim class on Thursday nights and this is our second week going. I met the girl teaching it in the locker room one afternoon while changing into my bathing suit (don't all good stories start out this way?).

Are you a swimmer? She said.

I try to fake it. I replied.

I thought I was doing pretty well until I started going to her class. Man, does she kick my butt. I found out from her last week that the pool is only 25m long, instead of 50m like the woman up front told me. I didn't even know how to swim until late last year; I don't know how long a pool is. All this time I thought I was doing great, but it turns out I was only going half as far as I thought. I found myself pretty upset last week; wondering if I'm going to be able to swim 500m without drowning. My friends keep telling me that I'll be fine, but I just can't seem to shake this off.

I almost drowned when I was six. We were in Kansas City visiting my grandmother in the hospital. I wasn't allowed to see her because you had to be 14 to enter the ICU. So, my cousin took me to a water park called Oceans of Fun for the day. We were in the wave pool and she went to go flirt with some boy (she is 10 years my senior) while I was left by myself with an inner tube to keep me afloat.

I lost my grip and slipped through the middle.

All I really remember after that is seeing blue water and legs and feet. I remember trying so hard to swim up to the surface, but as hard as I tried the waves kept pushing me down. I think the harder I tried, the deeper I ended up going. I don't know how I got back above water, but from that day on I've been scared of drowning. I could only go in pools where I could touch the bottom standing up. Lakes were out of the question unless I had a life vest on me *and* another to hold on to. Over twenty years later, all that little girl sees is blue water and legs and feet.

I guess that's just another reason to do this triathlon, to overcome my fear.

I will make it across the lake.
I will not drown.
That little girl will no longer have to be afraid of the water.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BRICK Workouts

Today's workout: Ride bicycle to work (~8.33 miles since there is no detour to the gym today), BRICK, Run 30 minutes.

What is a BRICK workout?


Bike/run Bricks are included in this workout for one reason only – To help your legs acclimation from cycling legs to running legs by simulating the bike to run transition. Bricks are not about proving how tough you are. A brick can be either a valuable training component or a training liability (causing overuse injuries).

How you approach your brick will determine the outcome. Basically, a brick workout is a back-to-back workout to help simulate real racing. The most popular brick is the bike/run brick, which as we stated above, is performed primarily for leg acclimation from your cycling legs to your running legs. During this training program, bike/run bricks will be included during weeks 5 through 8. You will be performing one a week. Depending upon where you ride, you will need to do some preparation. Have your running gear ready to go when you finish your bike ride. This is where you want to simulate your race transition from bike to run as much as possible. During your race, you will not have a tent in which to change clothing, so you will want to cycle in the same gear you plan on running in.

On the run portion of the brick, you will only need to run for about 10 to 20 minutes (20 minutes tops!). This will provide enough time for you to make the acclimation from your cycling legs to your running legs. And do not simply take off running hard! Begin walking for about 2 minutes, then start out with an easy jog. You may notice your heart rate is higher than your typical zone. That is why walking initially will help lower it providing active recovery. Try and keep your heart rate in your zone during the run.

Brick Tips

 If possible, perform your brick transition at your home. Why? So you have a safe place to store your bike when finished. If you travel to do your cycling (like I do!) make sure you lock your bike in your car before heading out on the run!

 A stationary trainer is a great place to perform your brick workouts. It may be boring but you are assured your bike will be safe when you hop off and it allows you to bike and run in a familiar area. It will also allow you to focus solely on cycling speed work without worrying about automobile traffic.

 Plan ahead. Have everything you will want for your race. Your shoes, perhaps a running singlet (shirt), a hat, and your nutritional drink or gel. Again, you want to simulate real race conditions as much as possible.

 Practice your bike to run transition as if you were in a race. Take your time initially. Yes, speed in the transition area is important, but not right now. If you decide you want to stick with this sport, then you can worry about being competitive and focusing on time saving steps. For now, get used to bending over, slipping on your running shoes and heading out on the run.

 Begin your run with a walking warm-up. Take a sip of your drink during this time. Ease into your run. Do take off sprinting.

 Play close attention to how you feel. Yes, the first time you head out, you
will probably feel awful! You will not be used to the feeling of switching from cycling to running. But you will get used to it. On your first brick be patient but take note of things that stick out. Are your legs tired? Probably, but that will improve with practice. Are you cramping? Could be you didn’t drink/eat enough on your bike ride or it could be what you ate! Are you dizzy? Probably due to nutrition/hydration related. My point, take note of how you feel. In most cases, how you feel on the run portion of the brick is directly related to your nutritional consumption on the bike. And it may not necessarily be how much you consumed but what you consumed.

I did my third brick today and it wasn't too bad at all. I got home, grabbed my running cap and MP3 player and set out on my warm-up walk. I can't make it as far without stopping as I can when I do just a running workout, but my time for the same distance is only off by about 2 minutes. Now I just need to practice a brick after going the race length of 16 miles on the bike instead of just 4.

For those interested, the training program I'm following can be found here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some Interesting Legislation

Today's workout: Bike to work (~9 miles), swim 550 meters

Yesterday, Governor Ritter signed a law that will require motor vehicles to give cyclists at least 36 inches of room when passing. The law also allows vehicles to cross a double yellow line to do so. There was some pretty interesting debate on 9news about whether the law will do any good, with the same old arguments brought up on both sides.

My views on cyclists and motorists sharing the road will have to be saved for another day. Until then, I leave you with the State of Colorado's Bike Manual that states the rights and responsibilities of cyclists on the roads.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Little Background

Yesterday's workout: Swim 550 meters
Today's workout: Run for 30-40 minutes

Since I started this towards the end of my first triathlon, I wanted to give you (the reader) a bit of history on where I have been.

This is me when I met my husband; the picture was taken on our third date. I topped out at something like 203 lbs. I was not a happy girl.
Like most women, I wanted to slim down so I wouldn't look like Shamu in a wedding dress. I didn't really exercise, but I did diet and probably do some things I shouldn't have. While we were planning our honeymoon I found a 12K race that looked fun (as fun as a 12K can be when you wheeze going up stairs). We could walk the whole thing, dress in costumes, and enjoy seeing the beautiful streets of San Francisco. My first "race" ever was the Bay to Breakers in 2006.

It was after that race we decided to enter one every year. That didn't work out in 2007 as my husband had shoulder surgery that took a while to heal. In 2008, we were able to "race" the Bolder Boulder with most of my husband's family (his dad and two sisters). I keep saying "race" because we walked both of these events; it was not about time for me (or us), just saying that we did it.

This is the first year I actually care about my time. My beginnings will be humble, but I can now take the quotation marks away. I am happy with a 12 minute mile average. I hope I can keep that up during the triathlon, but I was fresh during this race and I won't be come June 13th. This picture was taken last Saturday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Inagural Post

I don't think I realize just what I've gotten myself into. I don't write well and I certainly don't write quickly. It takes me thrice as long as my other co-workers to write up a summary. That is one of the few things at my job that I don't like - all of the paperwork and documentation I have to do. I guess I should have thought about that before I became an accountant, eh?

When I decided to join the rest of the world by carving out my own little corner of the internet, I realized that my first attempt may not succeed. I'm okay with this. My main goal with this blog is to keep myself accountable. My secondary goal is to keep those who aren't too bored with me talking about my journey informed as to my progress.

Before my husband and I moved last year, he found a triathlon he wanted to do about 15 miles from our new home. I can't say I remember how the conversation went, but here I am 5 weeks away from D-Day.

I couldn't run more than 60 seconds at a time last September.
I didn't even know how to swim until last November.
My husband and I only used to ride our bikes for fun.

I now work out 5-6 times a week with a training schedule. I ran my first competitive 5K yesterday with a time of 36:24, which I am darn proud of considering my main goal was to finish in under 45:00. I'm slowly learning to not be afraid of the water. I try to ride my bike to work at least 3 days a week. In 5 weeks, I will put all of these elements together and hopefully cross that finish line knowing I can push my body to do things it didn't even know existed. My bib number written in sharpie on my arm will become my badge of honor.

I don't think I realize just what I've gotten myself into.