Monday, February 20, 2017

February mid-month training update

Checking in from the middle/back end of February (what?! when did that happen??) on my training update! This month has been a lot about managing my injury and working through resting/rehabing and also getting in as much work as I could. I still have had a fairly successful month so far but I miss working out with a lot of intensity and hope that we can begin to build that back in. My coach says that we can and I am very anxious for that. It's been frustrating to say the least to exercise "on eggshells" which is the analogy I have used. I have still been working out every day but I am afraid to push too hard in order to hurt myself. I have been spending time daily working on core work, hip flexibility and strengthening my glutes, hamstrings and low back -- which is tedious and annoying to do but something I have to do moving forward. I just want to finish a workout gasping for air and miss that feeling. Hopefully soon though!

Wednesday, February 1 - 3300 M Swim

After my tough run in the morning on Tuesday, I rested the rest of the day and then got up in the morning to try and swim. It went fine and wasn't anything notable, just a regular morning swim but I knew I wasn't pushing 100%.  The workout was longer in nature and less intense and also involved some pulling, so it really actually was a good workout to do this morning. Later in the afternoon I went to the chiropractor and he reinforced for me that I really needed to rest. I was supposed to do a trainer ride in the evening of about an hour, but I skipped that and iced/stretched/rested.

Thursday, February 2 - Strength training + bike ride

For this evening, I had planned to go with some friends to do a bike ride that was more a fun bike ride than an intense exercise.  We met at the bike shop and rode 9 miles from Atlanta Cycling in Vinings to Meehan's in Atlantic Station. We rode at a comfortable pace and all stayed together, stopping multiple times for lights, to let people catch up, and to change my flat tire - which was the first I ever got on a bike ride!

We had a beer at Meehan's then biked the 9 miles back to Atlanta Cycling in Vinings. It was a really fun night and I felt good getting in time on the saddle and in the bike but was not a training ride.

Before I met up for that bike ride, I went to the gym and did a number of squats, lunges and some core work in my effort to strengthen up this core of mine and get stronger!

Friday, February 3 - Strength training + 400 M swim

This was a crappy day. I skipped getting up in the morning to swim on account of staying out past my bedtime the night before after getting back from the bike ride. I told myself that I would go to the gym in the evening and do the swim workout on my own, as well as some strength training.  Well, that never works out well for me so I ended up doing some upper body strength training and core work, then went and changed to get in the pool and ended up doing about 10 minutes of swimming before calling it quits. My hip was even hurting while swimming and it was frustrating me to have pain even in the pool.

I'd had a frustrating afternoon and wanted nothing more than to workout and have a really tough workout to take my mind off of things and work out some aggression... but my body was not allowing it. I felt down and bummed as an understatement.

Saturday, February 4 - Nothing

After my crappy Friday, I texted my coach and told him that I needed Saturday as a complete day off. I slept in and did not have any intent of working out the entire day. I did some errands then went to a beer festival and literally drank beer all day and danced like nobody was watching on a Saturday afternoon. I ate tacos and crappy food and ordered a big piece of cake as dessert and ate it all by myself and didn't care.  I pretended I was not an athlete or a triathlete and just had a Saturday not thinking.

I texted Brick and told her that I spent my day pretending that I didn't have any goals and she replied back with the most perfect answer, "Well, unless your goal is being happy." which is exactly right and this was a day that I needed and I think that my friends I spent it with really needed too. Therapeutic!

Sunday, February 5 - Easy 2 hours biking + stretching

My coach has advised for 2.5 hours of biking on Sunday, but I cut back and told myself to just do what felt good. I went out very easy and with very little intensity but was able to get in 2 hours. I biked into the wind on the Silver Comet for an hour then it took me about 50 minutes to get back with the extra push so then went back and forth for a little to get myself to 2 hours. I went home and stretched and iced and did more of my core stuff.

Later in the day, I should mention, I went and watched the Super Bowl with some triathlon friends from the new group I am working out with. It was a lot of fun and a great turnout. Who brought the Patriots fan to the Falcons party though??!! This Super Bowl was one for the record books with the Patriots playing the Atlanta Falcons. I wore my Gronk jersey to the game but was a big incognito as it was a throwback red jersey and not a lot of people noticed. I wanted the win for the city of Atlanta and it was an exciting game to watch. Was bittersweet to be happy for my hometown team but heartbreaking for the city I live in!

Monday, February 6 - 1.5 hours yoga

It had been months since I had returned to my favorite yoga class ever but decided to make an appearance on Monday since I know how good it is for core strength and flexibility. My coach had originally suggested it be another day off but I wanted to try yoga. I was pleasantly surprised with how good it felt and how much I was able to do, despite not having been there in a while and being hurt.

Tuesday, February 7 - 1:10 spin + stretching

I miss running officially. It was a week without running and I wanted to get back and try it but continued to hold off. I did 70 minutes on the bike trainer at home, holding off on intensity. Boo!

Wednesday, February 8 - 3000 M swim + strength training + stretching

This morning I returned to the pool after Friday's struggle and was able to complete the workout and got in 3000M in the pool. I was a little nervous because when I woke up in the morning my hip hurt a bit but it actually felt fine once I was in the water and I stretched a bit before starting. I spent the evening doing  some strength training and then some more stretching since I had to go immediately from the pool to a phone call this morning.

Thursday, February 9 - 30 minute treadmill test run + 45 minute spin

I started the morning with a trial run on the treadmill. I usually do not like to ever run on the treadmill and don't allow the weather to cause me to chicken out from running (Coach Jess taught me that's not allowed - a run day is a run day!) but I was up 1/2 the night with the wind waking me up whipping around outside. Since this was supposed to be an easy run, I didn't want to have to fight the wind, soI did it on the treadmill in my apartment building. I ran at a sub-10 minute pace except for the last 5 minutes and had no pain. I was happy at the lack of pain but got off the treadmill feeling frustrated because I am sick of exercising on eggshells and want to be pushing hard.

In the evening, I got back on my bike trainer for the first of 3 days in a row of riding the trainer. I had 45 minutes scheduled which felt like it went by so fast and I pushed hard during it because I wanted to see how it felt and because I needed to feel a burn and because it was only 45 minutes so I mentally felt like I could.

Friday, February 10 - 2800 M swim + 1:20 spin + stretching

I returned to the pool on Friday and we had a short workout with some good pickups in there that I was able to do without any pain. The workout actually was a bit shorter than what we usually do so at the end I added some extra kicking and easy cool down laps to get to 2800.

In the afternoon I did 1:20 on the bike trainer before heading out to meet friends for a wedding celebration thingy. I was a little stressed trying to fit in the afternoon ride and the stretching and everything but was proud I got it all in.  Mentally, I don't think I put a lot into the bike ride because I knew I had to do it again in the morning and because I was stressed with timing and work and couldn't really focus. But I got the time in and I didn't have pain.  When I got dressed to go out afterwards I felt cute too, so this day was a win for me.

Saturday, February 11 - 1:20 spin + stretching

We left on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. to go out to Birmingham for the Mercedes Marathon Relay, which meant that I was up early to get in time on the bike and doing my strength and stretching before leaving. Luckily we were all meeting at my house and heading out so it wasn't too difficult to roll out of bed, hop on the bike, shower afterwards and then be ready to go at 10:00 a.m.

There was no specific workout or intervals for this ride, which was different than what I had been doing. Usually I struggle to watch a new TV show or movie when I am on the bike trainer as I get distracted trying to do intervals and push hard and follow along with a plot. But since this was just an easy spin, I put on the movie Selma, to watch before heading to Alabama for the first time.

Sunday, February 12 - 8.14 mile run (in 1:19:12 at 9:43 average pace) at Mercedes

This was 8 of the happiest miles I have ever run. I felt like I was coasting and had a huge smile on my face the whole time. I will write a whole recap on it but I ran 8 miles this day as the last leg of the Mercedes Marathon Relay team with my friends.

Monday, February 13 - 40 minutes strength + 1:30 yoga

The morning after Mercedes I went to the gym to do 40 minutes of strength training that my coach put together for me. It included some lunges, burpees, jumping rope, and hip exercises. It was harder than I thought and got me sweating! In the evening I returned to yoga for the second week in a row and it was a lot of core work this day so I was really happy about that.

My hip hadn't hurt at all while I was running on Sunday, but it did hurt some on Sunday afternoon, so I had iced and rested it in the evening. Monday morning I woke up to no pain and had no pain throughout the day with these workouts so I was really happy.

Tuesday, February 14 - 5 mile run (in 48:48 at 9:44 pace) + stretching

Unfortunately, I woke up to pain on Tuesday and was super frustrated by that. How did it go from feeling good to bad again?!  It really pissed me off to be honest and it was sore even just walking around throughout the day on Tuesday. I had a 45 minute run scheduled for the evening and I thought about not doing it but I really needed the run on this evening for my soul, forget about my body. I just wanted to run and it was beautiful, warm evening.

I went out and did the 45 minutes, plus a little extra to get to 5 miles. I felt good the first couple of miles and then it started to flare up a bit so I tried to focus on core strength while I was running and also hopped off the pavement and ran on the side of the road on the dirt a bit to make it easier on the impact. Both of those things seemed to help and I finished the run feeling okay. Timing wise, it was actually a decent run for me as well with my mile splits being 9:31/9:44/9:47/9:28/10:02.

Wednesday, February 15 - 2500 M swim (left early) + 1:10 spin

This week was a bit of a crazy week at work and I had 7:00 a.m. calls all week. I did my best to get to swim practice on time and started in the water a little before 6:00 a.m. but then had to jump out to leave right at 7:00 a.m. for a call. I was happy I was able to get in 2500M and also pushed the pace a bit here for some 100s which felt good. I have been feeling sluggish in the water lately but today was a good day.

In the evening, I jumped back on the trainer for 1:10 of riding, which I started a bit later than I usually do. It was an uneventful spin but did 8:00 minute intervals which felt good!

Thursday, February 16 - 1:00 spin + stretching

There wasn't a ton of time in between my later evening spin and a rare morning spin for me. I had plans on Thursday evening to go to happy hour so I got up and did my ride and stretching in the morning. I was not a fan of the back-to-back rides and definitely didn't feel great on the bike this morning but I got it done!

Friday, February 17 - 1700 M swim (left early) + 50 minutes strength

The 7:00 a.m. calls really cramped my style this week. I had to hop out of the water right at 7:00 a.m. for another call this morning and I also didn't get there early enough to do any extra laps before the regular practice started so I only got in 1700M before I had to leave. On Wednesday when I swam there were only 2 people there whereas on Friday there were 12 people! I had to share a lane which is rare at my pool and it stopped me from being able to just do my own thing and keep going through the workout back-to-back without a lot of rest. We had to stay together so I didn't get as much done.

In the evening, I went down to my apartment complex's gym and did my strength workout exercises from the chiropractor and some core work for 50 minutes. It of course wasn't back-to-back nonstop exercise for 50 minutes but that's how long I was down there!

Saturday, February 18 - 1:00 hour running (6.11 miles at 9:50 pace)

I switched up my bike and run for the weekend and on Saturday afternoon I did a 1 hour run. I set off on the beltline but didn't really have any expectation of where I wanted to go.  I ended up feeling a little bored with the beltline and wanted some more hills in my run so I took a different route back and hills I got!  I was happy to not have any pain during the run and somehow it seemed to almost feel better on the hills?  Not sure if that is weird or not but I went with it and didn't question.

Sunday, February 19 - 2:04:32 hours biking (35.43 miles at 17.1 mph)

This Sunday was one of the best bike rides I have had to date! Since Saturday morning was forecast for rain, the whole group I train with decided to switch the bike ride to Sunday.  We went out to a place called "Silk Sheets" which I have only ever ridden at 2x before. Both times I have not had the best experiences so I wasn't thrilled about going there. However, once I arrived, there was a HUGE group and the weather was amazing. I biked in triathlon shorts and a short sleeved bike jersey in February!

There were a lot of people that I knew at the ride that I've been meeting throughout the past month through other group workouts, my swim program at my gym, the Super Bowl party, and other events. My coach was there riding, which would be my first time on the bike with him, and a few other friends who also just recently started training with this group! It was fun to know so many familiar faces and have the majority of the crowd be people I knew vs. new people. It also felt a bit intimidating if I am being honest as well. Now these people KNOW me and they will see how slow I am on the bike!

I could tell by checking my watch throughout the ride that I was going a faster pace than I normally did. I think the intimidation and the people built up a little adrenaline in me and I was pushing harder with my HR higher than usually is on the bike. I felt good though so I decided to just hang with it. My schedule said to do 2 hours, which ended up being one loop and it was almost exact at 2:04. The majority of the people riding were doing longer rides at 2:45 or 3:00 hours so I finished up with just a few others, including my coach, who had to head out to catch a flight.  He really pushed me the last big hill where I was dropping back and fading, but he challenged me to stick with him and it really got me to push myself through to the finish.

When I finished and looked at my watch it said my average pace was 17.1 mph!!! That is only my 2nd time EVER seeing an average pace in the 17s on a ride. I knew I was going faster than usual but I felt like that had to be a mistake or something. My coach told me no, that was right, and that I was biking strong.

I felt really, really good about that pace! He noticed that I am weaker on the hills so said that's what we'll have to work on and that I did a good job hanging with the pack when we were on the flats and downhills. I lose steam going uphill on the bike so that's a good objective to get better at. I honestly still feel in a little disbelief about the ride - that it must have been a fluke or something. Maybe it was the really nice weather? Did I have wind pushing me both ways?  Was this all a downhill route?  Was I just drafting more?

My coach told me that we had some crosswinds and that this route is actually harder than where I usually bike with the hills and the wind. So I felt really good about this ride! I want to get outdoors more and recreate this as much as possible. Bring on the 17s!!!

And as a side note, Sunday was an extra amazing day because I got to see my Syracuse Orange play in Atlanta. Unfortunately, they couldn't quite keep it together and they lost to Georgia Tech which was super disappointing... a) because it's Georgia Tech and b) because we really need to get some victories in the next 2 weeks to hopefully give us a chance of making it into the March Madness NCAA tournament. Regardless of the loss, I had fun at the game and enjoyed getting to see so much Orange pride in Atlanta!

Monday, February 20 - 45 minutes strength training

Today was going to be an off day but I opted to do some strength work instead. I spent about 45 minutes to an hour at the gym and went through some exercises recommended to me by my coach and by my former trainer to help build strength. After a 1 mile warmup, I did some burpees, lunges with a kick, spider planks, leg circles, bicep curls, rows, and tested out some new exercises using the power plate and this stair climber thing. We had a super warm day in Atlanta today, and I actually earlier in the day went on a 4 mile walk just for the heck of it. Temps were in the 70s and sunny and I don't think the gym turned their heat down in prep. It was SO HOT inside the gym today and I was sweating way more than usual as a result! Never hurts I guess, but I was dripping!

So there you have it! Only another week or so left in the month, but here's where I am workout wise for this month. I can't believeeeeeeeee we are going to be in March soon!!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Second Half of January Training Update

Okay, so wanted to check back in with the training update of the second half of the month. I am wishing I could say that it went spectacularly and although the majority of it did, I'm currently feeling a bit sad. I'm sitting on the couch with ice on my hip, hoping and hoping that what I've been feeling over the past week is the worst of it. I've aggravated something in my hip that must just be a weak point as I think its the same thing I hurt in 2015 right before the Chicago Marathon.

My guess is the speed and track workouts I have been doing have escalated the injury that usually would only come about as mileage increased. I'm not used to all of the starting and stopping during the track workouts so think the damage may have to do with that. To say I am disappointed and frustrated is an understatement. But anyways, let's recap the second half of the month, shall we?

Tuesday 1/17 - ITL Track Tuesday

I arrived back on a Monday evening from Switzerland and was able to do a little grocery shopping, food prep and laundry before falling asleep. I woke up early the next morning to return to the ITL Track Tuesday morning workouts.

We did a series of 800s and 400s and I was really proud of myself at this workout for both the effort I put out after traveling and also the paces when I looked at my watch after. The coaches at the workout gave me kudos as well, knowing I was working out after traveling back the night before. I felt great!

Wednesday 1/18 - AM 3600M Swim + PM 1 hour trainer ride

Wednesday was a return to the pool after the time away which felt stiff and tough and like I needed to regain my momentum in the water. In the evening, I did a 1 hour ride on my trainer following an interval workout my coach gave me.  He originally gave me a workout based on as if I had a power meter on my bike (which I don't) and I was totally confused as to how I was supposed to pedal 140% or 160% and know the difference. Apparently it is a power thing and once I clarified with him felt ready to move forward!

Thursday 1/19 - 6 mile easy run

I opted to sleep in this Thursday morning and skip my morning run. However, because I had my bags packed, I have a rule that I have to go to the gym, so I did some upper body strength training which was fun and I need to find the time to do more of.

I ran in the evening after work along the Chattahoochee trail. Maybe it was the switch up in routine and doing an evening run when I usually do morning runs, but this felt not the best. I wrote to my coach that I just felt tired. I think it was the jet lag and immediate return to work and training and nonstop going, going, going... but I was ready for a break after this workout.

Friday 1/20 - AM Swim + PM 1.5 hour trainer ride

However, a break didn't happen! I returned back to the pool, trying to regain that momentum I had lost while traveling for a 2800 meter swim and in the evening I rode my bike for 1.5 hours on the trainer.  That is my longest weekday ride and I felt like a bit of a badass riding my trainer on a Friday evening. I did 1.5 hours as my long ride for the week since I had friends staying with me throughout the rest of the weekend and didn't want to have to make them sit around and watch me on the trainer!

Saturday 1/21 - 1 hour trainer ride

As I mentioned, I had friends visiting me this weekend. One of them is my triathlon inspiration, Miss Jenna, and she is currently training for her first full Ironman so she had her own workout to do. Unfortunately, the weather in Atlanta was not cooperating so she ran on the treadmill in my apartment building while I rode the bike on the trainer in my apartment. It was really fun to have a friend visiting who understands the need for a workout and had her own things she wanted to do as well. Fit friends are more fun!

Sunday 1/22 - Hot Chocolate 15K

Sunday morning was the Atlanta Hot Chocolate 15K which I recapped for you last week. It was a super fun race and I enjoyed running a course that included so many neighborhoods and streets I have become a lot more familiar with since moving!

Monday 1/23 - Rest day

It was much needed!!!

Tuesday 1/24 - ITL Track Tuesday

After my day off and a fun weekend with my friends, I returned Tuesday morning to regularly scheduled programming with ITL Track Tuesday.  This was a workout that intimidated me a little bit going into it. I was still a little sore from Sunday (apparently I had gone harder than I realized and held some soreness in my legs) and when I saw the prescribed workout it was nothing I had done before. It consisted of a number of 400s, 300s, 200s, and 100s. I have never in my life done intervals that short and was very new to this type of workout. I was unsure of how to pace myself but decided to just go for it and use it as a baseline for the future.

I have come to love the feeling of pushing myself in a workout to feeling out of breathe and pushed myself this workout, feeling really proud when I did eventually look at the splits of my different intervals. I had done a good job pacing myself, ran hard, and I felt was pretty consistent with what I was trying to do.

The bad part was that after this workout was over, I started to feel some pain in my right hip. It didn't hurt while I was running but once I started it felt a bit inflamed and sore. It felt similar to what I had felt a couple years ago and decided to try and make an appointment at the chiropractor as soon as possible. The chiro had been a part of my recipe for recovery in 2015 so I made an appointment for that same day and in the afternoon went in to be adjusted.

He told me that he didn't think it was bad and that I didn't need to necessarily stop working out, and gave me some exercises to consider doing.

Wednesday 1/25 - AM 2800M Swim + PM 45 minute boxing class

I got in a workout in the morning with swim practice, although I had to jump out of the pool a bit early. Usually I swim from 6-7:20 a.m. but I had a 7:00 a.m. call. I got in the water a few minutes early and bolted right at 7:00 a.m. to take my call then get ready for work.

In the evening, I went to a boxing class with Brick at the gym. We have been trying to coordinate going to this class for weeks and I was excited we were finally able to make it work! She came as a guest with me to my gym and we boxed away for 45 minutes.

Thursday 1/26 - 6 mile run

It's always a good morning when I run with friends and Thursday was no different, running with Janet and Kristin - who started off her birthday with a run! I did a couple miles on my own and then met up with the girls for 4 more. I was very careful to go easy as my hip was still tender and I didn't want to aggrevate it further. It didn't hurt too bad or anything while we ran so I was hopeful that whatever was going on was on the mend.

Friday 1/27 - AM 2200M swim + PM 1.5 hour trainer ride

This morning I did NOT want to be swimming!! I stayed out a bit too late the night before and may have had a drink too many so getting in the water was tough. I was actually a bit relieved that I had another 7:00 a.m. call for work this morning so I had to jump out of the pool early and not finish the workout. In addition to not feeling my finest, I also kept thinking about the fact that I still had 1.5 hours to ride on the trainer in the evening that I wasn't looking forward to.

I did my evening ride and then my friend Janet came over and we watched a movie and both fell asleep on the couch immediately. Being 30 is pretty cool.

Saturday 1/28 - 2.5 hour bike ride

Going outdoors for a bike ride on Saturday was debatable for me. The group I am getting my coaching with now, ITL, was doing a group ride at 9:30 a.m. but forecasts said the temperature was going to be in the high 30s/low 40s and I was very worried about what that temperature would feel like on the bike. Another group was doing an afternoon ride on a much more boring and gruesome route, and the other option was to ride indoors on the trainer.

I made the commitment to go outside and changed my trainer tire on my bike to my road tire and went out on Saturday morning to meet the group for a 2.5 hour ride which ended up being 37.4 miles for me.

Honestly, the ride was tough but it didn't end up being because of the cold. That was what was really making me nervous going into the ride, but once I got going and the sun was on me, it truly didn't bother me that much. However, I just felt slow and sluggish in general. I felt like I didn't have a lot of strength on the bike and that I was way behind where I was at the end of last year. It was cold and windy, but I still ended the ride feeling a bit frustrated with myself. Hopefully it only gets better from here!

Sunday 1/29 - 10.5 mile run with friends

Sunday was another cold day, but when I started the sun was shining and it actually didn't feel too bad. I ran to one of my friend's houses and met up with her and 4 others and we all set out on a route that she'd put together to help train for the Publix full marathon. Her and one other person were doing  an 18-mile route and the others and I modified it to be a bit shorter.

There was some starting and stopping and I was running a bit faster than their long run pace so ended up doubling back a few times. I had some pain in my hip in the beginning but it started to go away as I began running steady so decided to just keep going with that and not let myself stop. Towards the end it got a bit strenuous and I eventually ended at 10.5 miles. I felt a bit proud of myself for going half a mile extra until I realized that my coach had actually advised me to do 10-12 miles... woops.

On other days, I would have probably been stubborn and determined to go out and run the 1.5 miles more, but I gave in for the day and stayed inside. I had already drank a full coffee by the time I realized my mistake.

Monday 1/30 - 3400M Swim

Given that my hip was feeling sore from the Sunday run, I was happy that my schedule only had a Monday swim on it. I did 3400 meters of a bit of endurance swim and in the evening went over to my friend Nikki to get a sports massage to help with the hip. She really, really worked on it and dug into it and I came home to ice and take an epsom salt bath before going to bed.

Tuesday 1/31 - ITL Track Tuesday

When I woke up this morning, I felt fine. I was wondering if going to track would be a good idea but I am stubborn, so I decided to just give it a shot. Walking around, it felt okay - it wasn't sore or anything. So I hoped I was good. However, as soon as I started running my warmup mile at the track, I thought, oh heck, this is not good.

The pain started right away and it was cold outside, which tends to make things worse for me.

I did a mile warmup and it did subside a little once I got going. I decided to wait and see what the workout was and play it by ear if I did complete it. I didn't want to be a quitter and didn't want to feel embarassed leaving in the middle of a track workout either.

The plan for the day was a series of 1600s with 400s in between and 400s rest. I set out to do the first 1600 at the allotted pace and really just couldn't push hard. I had to just give it a bit of a push on the pace, but nothing really aggressive. I did my first 1600 fine and then 100 meters into my first 400 I realized I just couldn't run that hard. I figured it would be good enough to just do the 1600 portion of the workout and was able to maintain a somewhat fine pace for the first 2 but when I started my third one it really hurt and I felt like it was affecting my stride. I pulled back on the pace completely and at the end of the 1600 just threw in the towel for the day. I ended with about 4.5 miles of running but feeling completely defeated.

I drove to the gym and then when I walked inside was so stiff I felt like I was walking with a little bit of a limp. Great job Katelyn.

I know that the sports massages can make things a bit painful the day after so I probably shouldn't have tried to exercise. I reluctantly texted my coach telling him that it was probably best to take a week off from running and I made plans to return to the chiropractor. I am icing and soaking tonight and this week and hoping that it just needs a little bit of time.

I want nothing more than to be working out hard right now so this is definitely a setback and an agitation for me in multiple ways. Hopefully being smart and resting now helps me in the long run.

Hope you had a great January and are ready for whatever February brings!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 Hot Chocolate 15K Race Recap

This past weekend I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K race in Atlanta, which is my second time running this race, after a 1 year hiatus. Last year during the weekend that this race was in Atlanta, I was in Miami with friends running the Miami Half Marathon! I was excited to do this race again and eat the delicious chocolate at the end, and even more excited when it turned out that the race weekend also overlapped something else I was so excited for.  My friends Jenna and Dave were coming down to Atlanta for the weekend to visit, and Jenna, my super fast runner friend slash triathlete inspiration decided to run too.

Jenna and Dave are two of my best friends from Albany, who were individually each best friends of mine before they started dating over 4 years ago. I have so much fun with them and value each of their individual friendships so much. Jenna was there for me the day I ran my first 5K and her first 70.3 distance race I went to spectate was my first exposure into long distance triathlon. Dave has saved me from many a disasters and been a person I rely on for straight forward advice, lots of laughing, and any handywork I need done around the house or my car. I was very excited to have them in town!

The expo for the race is on Saturday and they have no race day packet pickup. It was downpouring rain all day on Saturday so we trudged through the disgusting weather to the Georgia World Congress Center, picked up packets and race sweatshirts, drank some hot chocolate samples, and checked out the expo - which turned out to be a little bit lame. But oh well, all is good when with friends!

Sunday morning, Jenna and I got up and took an Uber over from my apartment to the race. The race was set to start at 7:40 so we left my apartment around 7:00 and arrived about a half hour before the race. We tried to meet up with some of my friends but were unsuccessful and ended up ducking into Corral B about 15 minutes before the start of the race. I was placed in Corral A and Jenna was placed in Corral C for some reason. Knowing she is way faster than me, I figured, let's just call it even and we got into B.

Weather was perfect for running and when the gun started for our 2nd corral, we were off. Jenna was off way faster than me and was out of sight within a minute and I didn't see her until she was waiting for me at the finish. My plan for the race was not to "race" it but just to run strong and push the pace a bit beyond my normal long run pace, but not all out race it or have a plan beyond that.

The course was different that the last time that I did this race as it started and ended at Centennial Olympic Park. The last time it started and ended at Turner Field, so I wasn't entirely sure what the course was going to entail. I've obviously run the streets of Atlanta and races around this area plenty of times at this point but I don't know the roads well enough to fully know what to expect when looking at a map. I did know that the beginning of the race had a bit of downhill and I started out with some quick first couple of miles before the real hills of Atlanta started.

I actually really enjoyed this run from start to finish. Despite the fact that I was starting to feel really tired towards the end of the week... I'd come right back from Europe on Monday and gone immediately into workout mode, I felt good when running. It was one of those great days of running where your legs seem to be turning over smoothly, the pace feels comfortable, and although its tough, you feel strong and like you can just keep going.

The hills were harder, but I did my best to just find a pace that I liked and effort level that I liked and locked it in throughout the whole time. I broke the 15K into three 5Ks mentally and just worked through each one.

I also knew that at around the halfway point I would have Dave to look for, as the course ran right by my apartment and he planned to be outside there cheering. The course really did not have a lot of spectators on it whatsoever so it made me feel extra special to have one lone fan on the corner waiting and cheering just for me (and Jenna, who passed by earlier.)  When I saw Dave, I waved to him and smiled for his pictures, then he jogged along me for a bit - which surprised me - and then sprinted ahead (up a hill!) to stop and turn and take more pictures. Thank you Dave!!

This was the first race I have done downtown and through my neighborhood since I have lived in this part of town so it was really fun to see the streets of my new neighborhood in this atmosphere. I know the area so much better and am more familiar with the streets and turns, which made this really enjoyable.

Throughout the race there were clocks with the time every mile or so. Now, I don't run 15Ks all that often, but I knew that my 15K personal best time was about 1:35 - which is a time I knew I was quite easily capable of beating. I figured that a "15K Personal Best" was a pretty likely goal but kept eyeing the clock to see if I was somewhere around there. I used the method I did in Chicago Marathon, and just hoped that every time I saw the clock, the minute numbers were decreasing so I knew I was under 10-minute miles.

The hills at mile 7 started to wear on my legs a bit but at that point I knew it was close to the end - I was happy it was a 15K race and not a Half Marathon! Per usual, the last mile was a struggle, and like every other Atlanta race, the route did not let up on the hills until the very end.  The finish line was really uneventful and I actually wasn't even sure exactly where it was until I crossed the mat. I saw Jenna and Dave to the side taking pictures and waving, which was a great way to finish!

I finished the race in 1:25:08 which is an average pace of 9:08, which if I maintained that and it were a half marathon, would put me right at a 2 hour finish. This weekend last year I ran Miami in 1:57, so slightly faster than this race - and I was actually trying to race that and had rested/tapered for the race. Whereas for this race, I was definitely carrying fatigue from the week. This leaves me feeling pretty good about where I am for this time of year I think.  My 5K times also got progressively faster, which is nice to see in a race as well. My mile splits were all over the place, even though I felt like I was running a consistent pace!

My mile splits for the race were: 8:25, 8:48, 9:27, 9:35, 8:56, 9:11, 9:16, 8:49, 9:26, 9:13

Jenna and Dave met me at the finish and we proceeded to the muddy field area where the post race party was. It had been raining the night before and all throughout the day on Saturday. And not just a little rain, but torrential downpours. We were all really happy that the race held off on Sunday for the race! Having some muddy ground to walk around was nothing with the great running conditions we had.

We snagged our hot chocolate, medals, etc. and ate everything in about 10 minutes while waiting and finding my friends to meet up with.

We were able to connect with a bunch of my friends at the end of the race, which was really fun to have Jenna and Dave get to meet them. I was really proud to all my friends throughout the race... Brick did an amazing job and Jenna ended up 6th in our age group! They're both rockstars.

Eventually we all got cold and head back to shower and get out of our sweaty gear and get warm for brunch. It was a really fun race morning filled with strong legs, sweet chocolate, and awesome friends - both running and cheering! Hot Chocolate has amazing schwag with it, so I've got another great medal for the collection and sweatshirt to rock throughout Atlanta. Awesome day all around!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Training - back at it!

Hey guys! Happy New Year! It has been a busy and exciting start to 2017, with lots going on with training and also with my first trip of the year under my belt. I started the year training with a new coach, someone who is local and who I have been building a rapport with the past few months. I’ve been excited about the change and ready to push myself hard this year. Through my experience last year working with a coach who I had found online, I learned that I really liked the process of having a coach but wanted someone who I felt could push me a bit harder. And who would be a bit more personal with me. I believe I have found that with the group I’m working with and more to come on that as training continues, I’m sure!

I kicked off the year feeling extremely motivated, as many often due as the calendars flip forward another year. I had a solid week of training in Atlanta, and then an international trip, that I managed to get some sort of physical activity on for 6 out of the 6 days I was away. One of the things I know about this year is that I need to make every day count. I can’t take a week off every time something comes up in my schedule. And not that I did that when I traveled last year – I actually did a really incredible job of training while traveling in 2016 and its one of the things I’m most proud of. But I still need to give it “oomph” while I’m away and so far so good in this year.

Let me try and get into a schedule of sharing some of my workouts. Not sure if this is boring for you guys or not but, nobody is forcing you to read, now are they?

Saturday 12/31 – 5 mile run

Technically, last year, but wanted to include it because it was the day I arrived back in Atlanta after being home for the holidays. I'd had a 6:00 a.m. flight out of New Hampshire, which meant an early morning, but I managed to have a really productive last day of the year and a 5 mile run exploring my neighborhood.

Sunday 1/1 – 2 hour spin (Longest trainer ride to date!) 

Back home, meant back on my trainer! Last year the trainer was brand new after the holidays and honestly, I didn't get a ton of use out of it. I knew this year I was going to have to become much more familiar with my trainer than last season and decided to challenge myself to my longest trainer ride to date, of 2 hours spinning. I watched a movie and was proud of myself for the mental push.

Monday 1/2 – 60 minute run with strides on the Silver Comet Trail

My first run of the new year and I decided to go back to my old stomping ground and run on the Silver Comet. I am not sure why this appealed to me on this day, but I just wanted to be able to completely zone out and run. I did completely, even forgetting that I was supposed to finish the run with strides at the end. Which, I didn't want to skip out on something my coach had told me to do in just his 2nd prescribed workout, so I went back and did some strides and ended up running about 6.5 miles.

Tuesday 1/3 – ITL Track Tuesday (4x400 Hard/Easy; 4x400 Strides on Straight, 4x400 Hard/Easy)

This was sort of my first "official" Track Tuesday with ITL Coaching. They hold workouts on a local track every Tuesday (pretty self explanatory...) and I attended my first one at the end of last year, but it was sort of a holiday fun edition, so this was my first taste of the real thing. It was good to push myself and be surrounded by others all doing the same workout but their own paces, yet staying close. I am looking forward to more of these workouts in the future!

Wednesday 1/4 – AM swim (3200) and PM spin 

It had been too long since I had been in the water!! I hadn't swam since early December since the week before I went home, the pool was shut down at the club where I swim. I felt a bit like lead but good to be back in the water.  In the evening, I went back to the gym and took a spin class. Spin class isn't as good as being on the trainer I don't think, but it is a good mental break and way to get some cycling in. Especially when you are meeting and spinning with a friend!

Thursday 1/5 – 4 mile run with Janet around the new stadium

This run was really memorable for me. Janet and I ran in a new spot and did an "adventure run" as I called it. Not knowing a route or the area of where to go.  We just sort of explored a bit, stopping at red lights, seeing where the roads were well lit and where they weren't, tackling some hills, and chatting. Running and talking seems to allow you to let your guard down and open up and we had some really meaningful and emotional conversation on this day. I'm really thankful for Janet's friendship and the bonds that running has helped us form. This run will always be very memorable for me.

Friday 1/6 – AM swim (2900 meters)

My coach had suggested a day off but I said no - I wanted to spend more time in the pool since I knew I was going to have yet another break from the water. So morning swim practice it was :)

Saturday 1/7 – 2:00 hour spin 

Back on my trainer at home, I watched some movies and TV and powered through some intervals given to me by my coach. It really went by rather quickly, if I am being honest. And I was proud of myself for getting it done. We were also sort of snowed in without any snow, so I had nothing better to do and no excuses to get out of this workout!

Sunday 1/8 – 10 mile run

This was the coldest run yet in Atlanta! Temperatures were in the teens and I ran from my apartment down the beltine to Tenth Street to Peachtree Street and back. It was a route suggested by a friend who lives in my same location and I figured why not? Coming back felt much warmer than going out since I was facing the sun, but it was a struggle with the slight incline on the Beltline coming back up. I was very happy for this run to be over with!

Monday 1/9 – Travel Day

Last Monday I had the day off from training as it was most entirely a travel day for me. I left at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night and flew from Atlanta to Zurich, Switzerland with a connection in Paris. I didn't get to my hotel until about 6:00 p.m. Monday (local time) so I just freshened up and went to dinner with a friend. I wish that my "rest day" felt more like a rest day, but sleeping sitting up on a plane isn't super restful unfortunately.

Tuesday 1/10 – 1 hour interval run and 15 minute chords 

My first day of work travel started in the hotel gym on the treadmill. I had a one hour run scheduled, but my coach included all interval work for the 1 hour at specific paces and elevations on the treadmill. I had told him that I wanted to commit to working out 1 hour each day while I was gone and let him know the equipment I would have to work with (treadmill and stationary bike, basically.) The first workout he gave me was a challenge and I finished it thoroughly exhausted, but feeling energized like only a good workout can. It’s weird how a hard workout can do both of those things simultaneously, isn’t it?

I also did 15 minutes of exercising using a set of “chords” that my coach let me borrow for the trip. Since we knew that swimming wouldn’t be possible while I was away, using the chords allowed me to do some upper body work that simulated swimming. My form wasn’t awesome with these, but I did the workout as prescribed.

Wednesday 1/11 – 1 hour stationary bike ride 

I returned to the hotel gym to hop on one of the stationary bikes that they had. None of the bikes were ideal to simulate my bike or even a spin bike, but my coach told me that something would be better than nothing. For one hour I did a set of intervals that had my heart rate up and another sweaty and accomplished morning in the gym. I was even able to make a 7:30 a.m. train for work!

Thursday 1/12 – Gym was closed – 3 mile run outside 

This morning threw me off quite a bit, but I ended up not making a complete waste of the day.

First off, let me explain that I had planned meticulously to be sure that I would have a gym with cardio equipment available to me while on my trip to Switzerland. Unlike the U.S. and other parts of the world, European hotels do not usually have fitness centers. I always prefer to workout outside, but with snow forecast and few daylight hours to work with, I didn’t want to plan to run outdoors alone in the dark in a new-to-me city, especially when I knew it was likely covered in snow and ice. Plus, my suitcase wouldn't be big enough to fit in a week's worth of cold weather running gear.

I researched multiple hotel options to see what fitness equipment they had as well as private local gyms, I made phone calls to inquire about hours and cost before I traveled. Many fitness centers didn’t open until 6:30 a.m., which is too late to start working out with my work schedule when on the road. I even looked into the local triathlon clubs in that region but all of their workouts were in the evening hours, which also isn’t really manageable when I travel for work – I need to get it done in the morning or not at all. After all this research, I found and chose a hotel based solely on their 24 hour fitness center. I asked about it when I checked in, was assured it was 24 hours, texted my coach the equipment they had, used it for two days, and then arrived at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday and saw this.

Not wanting to be stopped by a sign, I checked my hotel key and it still opened, but the gym was totally unusable... all the equipment was gone! There were some new treadmills there, but they were not installed yet.

It totally caught me off guard and I felt really frustrated and went back to my room and started crying. I complained to the people at the front desk but knew there was nothing they could do. I went back to my room, changed my clothes quickly, and as a minimum of getting something in... I went outside and ran back and forth on a small stretch of sidewalk outside of my hotel that had decent lighting and was clear of snow and slush. I did a 5K run before heading back inside to shower and get ready for the day. It wasn't the workout from my coach, that I had honestly been really looking forward to, but at least it was something.

Friday 1/13 – Running interval and body weight workout

One of the reasons that I was so bummed the day before was because I had honestly been really looking forward to the workout my coach had put together for me. On Thursday, I ended up talking with the manager of the hotel and even though the gym wouldn't be fully finished at the hotel, they promised to have a single treadmill set up for me in the morning that I could go in and use. They were super accommodating and apologetic about what happened and I liked that they were willing to help me find a solution.

I had the fitness center to myself and despite not being able to turn the lights on, it worked out ideal for my workout as I was able to set my music up out loud. It was great because the workout entailed me hopping on and off the treadmill 4 times and doing burpees, pushups, wall sits, sit ups, etc. in between. I ended up running 5.2 miles and got a bunch of other stuff in too and was really happy with my coach for coming up with such a creative and fun workout for me. The time flew by.

Saturday 1/14 – 1 mile run to gym, 45 minute spin, 1.5 mile run back.

Another item that I negotiated with the hotel was the ability to use the gym on Saturday. I checked out on Friday, and moved from my hotel to my friend's apartment who lives in Zurich, who I was staying with through the weekend. Since I had switched around workouts during the week due to the fitness center not being open on Thursday, I was missing a bike workout, so this compromise turned out really well to be able to get into the hotel on Saturday. It was originally supposed to be a rest day but we swapped it out.

I ran a 1 mile warmup from my friend's to the hotel, did some intervals on the spin bike for 45 minutes, then hopped off for a little brick and ran back to my friend's, plus a little detour to stop by Lake Zurich. The lake hosts an Ironman race every year and even in the cold I can see that this would be a beautiful place to do a triathlon!

Sunday 1/15 – Skiing in the Swiss Alps!

So I did end up missing out on one of the scheduled workouts I had planned for the week, but it wasn't replaced with a lazy day by any means. Instead of my Sunday long run of 10 miles, I went skiing in the Swiss Alps! It was a truly incredible experience and worked some muscle groups I don't usually touch that much so a nice day of cross training.

Some of the runs had my legs aching, my heart beating, and I could tell I was sweating even though it was snowing out. It was worth missing a 10 mile run for and I am still proud of myself for being active every single day of my trip to Europe!

Monday 1/16 – Travel Day

Another "rest day" spent not very restfully as I was crammed into a small space with sore legs from the skiing the day before. It was a long day as well, since I got some hours back and that's part of the reason why you're even getting a blog today! I had to keep myself awake for a bit before heading to sleep :)


So there you have it. My first few weeks of workouts for the new year. My takeaway is that I'm really proud of myself for starting the year off strong. That I still have a lot of work to do though and that I just need to stay focused. I also learned that apparently I like making that one particular face a lot in my pictures, so that's interesting. I'll try and be more interesting in my post workout pics for the next two weeks and see what better we can do. Happy MLK Jr. Day everyone!