Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Proud moments

Despite my last post about some of the challenges I am working to overcome as far as eating is concerned, I wanted to share a bit about some of the fun stuff from the past few weeks as I have gotten back into the swing of things with training. It's been a really busy time of year and despite lots of weekend trips, a little bit of work travel, and various work and social commitments, I have been maintaining a full schedule of training and starting to remember what it's like to balance three different sports! I really have not trained for a triathlon in about a year since the only major triathlon that was on my schedule last year was Chattanooga 70.3 in May. After that I did some more biking and swimming, and raced an Olympic distance race in June. But it was all running focused training from June 2017 until about a month ago in March/April 2018 after Berlin and Albany Marathons.

I have been proud of myself for getting back on the trainer. And in a big way! Now, I still cannot (and have not had to) force myself to do multiple hours on the bike trainer, but I have lately been spending more time working myself into a full on sweaty mess and my legs into Jello with tough workouts on the trainer. Right before I went to Chicago in mid-April (more on that later!) I did three days in a row of really tough trainer rides, plus swims, plus some strength work all mixed in. After the Wednesday-Thursday-Friday trainer combination, my legs were TOAST. But it felt, and continues to feel, really good to push through a challenging workout on the trainer. I have been dreading these workouts less and enjoying the sweat sessions. I told my coach that I can feel the muscles growing in my legs after these workouts!

I have been proud of myself for getting back to swim practice. Now, this is another little "gimme" of something I am proud of, but it has been a change in habit to return to going to swim practice not for it to be a recovery set from running, but for it to be a workout. All winter long I (and my coach) was giving myself permission not to push too hard at swim practice, leave early if I wanted, and use it primarily as a means of recovery instead of fitness. It was a change in habit to get in the pool at 6:00 a.m. and not get out until 7:30 when I started back going to the full sessions. I have really been loving it though and am proud of myself for getting back into it. The first few weeks when I first was recovering from Albany and couldn't really bike or run hard, I did a few swims of 3600-4000M, just because. I actually stayed longer at swim practice, adding to the workout, instead of dropping out early. I am looking forward to open water swims starting as well!

I have been proud of myself for recognizing that it is okay to skip some workouts. So, this might sound crazy but it has been an important thing for me. As many people might be able to tell, I can be pretty type A and nutty about not wanting to skip things. I have written about this before and it is a point of pride for me - I do not skip workouts. Since training for my first marathon where I did every single mile on the Hal Higdon plan, except for TWO that still eat away at me, until now. It's just something that doesn't sit well with me and so I just don't do it. Sometimes that can be to my detriment though when travel, injury, fatigue, and life come up. I will drive myself crazy and anxious to get in workouts, lose sleep and stress to get it all in - sometimes hurting myself in the process.

As I ramp up for Ironman, I have already come to the conclusion that I need to be better about sometimes letting something go by and go red in TrainingPeaks. I spoke with my coach about this and he agreed and encouraged me to listen to my body at times. He said he had no problem telling me this because he knows my work ethic is not one to allow myself to skip all the time. But if I am feeling exhausted and stressed, he said he'd much rather me get more sleep and feel better and skip a swim than drive myself nuts over it. In reality, my Ironman race isn't going to be made or broken by one single workout. It's a long term training of consistency and building week over week, so remembering to be good to myself and listen to my body throughout the journey will be important.

I have been proud of myself for remembering I can say no. In my first week or so since having my wake up call and refocusing meeting with the nutritionist, it's been a lot of "first's" for me in terms of resisting the food and indulgences that I had gotten into the habit of just saying yes to. Just like with staying the full set at swim practice... it's not that I didn't think I could do it... but sometimes you have to reset your habits, and those first few times can be hard.

I was in a habit of every time I went to the grocery store, going to the bulk food section first and making myself a bag of "snacks" to eat while I shopped. Chocolate and yogurt covered pretzels, nuts, cranberries and blueberries. Gummy candies, jelly beans, and sour watermelons. It became my habit and it is hard to snap yourself out of that. But once you do it once, it becomes easier the next time. I have been working to reset other habits and remind myself - I can say no to getting a drink, even though I am attending a happy hour. I can eat my own salad that I brought in for lunch, even though the office ordered pizza. I can pass on the cookies, cupcakes and donuts that are at the work conference. I can choose the egg white omelet with veggies and dry toast over the bacon and buttered biscuits while going out for breakfast. I have been proud of myself on more than one occasion lately as I "say no" and move on to a number of temptations.

I was proud of myself for how I rode at the Up the Creek bike ride. On April 28 I did my first long bike ride of the year at the Up the Creek 71 Mile Ride. It was in Rome, GA and I went out with a number of friends as I had heard great things about the route. This ride is the same day as the John Tanner sprint triathlon that I did last year. However, not having any triathlons until later in the year, I didn't feel the need to do a sprint this year and knew a long supported ride would be better for me.

I was a bit nervous going into this because the longest I had ridden this year up to that point was 36 miles. I was about doubling my distance and that made me nervous! Plus, I'd had some issues with my bike the last time I had ridden it that didn't have me feeling too confident.

Well, I ended up having an awesome day at Up the Creek. I felt like I got stronger as the day went on and I loved every minute of the ride. It was a gorgeous route, great friends, lots of laughs, and I couldn't believe how strong I felt all the way in through the finish. Now, I know these numbers aren't setting any records for speed, but I averaged 16.8 mph for the 71 miles, which is a really strong training ride for me. Even at the peak of my strength last year, I would be really happy with that, so to average that speed just getting back into my first long ride, I was thrilled and really proud.

And the day was just so fun!

I was proud of myself for how I rode at the VeloCity 100 Mile Century bike ride. The week after the Up the Creek ride, I decided to go out and add to what had already been double the furthest distance I'd ridden this year by another 30 miles and do my first century (100 mile) of the year. Last year, one of my goals for the entire year was to ride a century bike ride and after months and months of training, I built up to it and rode 100 miles at the end of July. It is so weird to me that this year in the first weekend of May, after doing much less cycling leading up to this, I just rode 100 miles for the second time ever - this time with it not being "the" goal, but just a stepping stone on the way to Ironman. Saturday was just the first of many 100+ mile rides I will get in this year. Oh and because it was a city ride, it started a little less than 2.5 miles from my house. I actually rode TO and FROM the ride, for a total of the day of around 106 miles.

The ride was different from the week before as I could feel the fatigue in my legs early on and unlike the feeling of getting stronger all day long, after about 25 miles, I felt like I was just getting slower. Miles seemed to be crawling by and I was afraid I was just going to crash and bonk. I dropped my chain 2x around mile 50 and after a long stop at mile 54, when starting back up again my legs just felt dead. However somewhere around mile 60 I came back to life and started to feel strong again. I focused on 5 miles at a time and pushed through to the next rest stop at mile 80. The last 20 miles in were really challenging with lots of terrible hills. We were going through neighborhoods where it felt like every time we had a downhill it was met with a stop sign or a red light that caused us to start the next steep incline from a dead stop or slowed pace. It was tough, but I still felt strong through to the end. I ended the day with an average speed of 16.7 mph, which I was really happy with. I had been thrilled with 16.8 mph the weekend before, so for my speed to be about the same on a route with double the elevation (+5000 ft) and 30 more miles of riding - it was a really nice surprise after not feeling so strong for parts of it.

And again, it was an all around really fun day with friends.

I have been proud of myself for staying positive. I wanted to share the things I am proud of as part of this effort to continue to stay positive. Because to be honest, not every aspect of the beginning weeks of training has felt perfect (shocking, right?!) Most notably, my running has been really struggling. I think I really burnt out my mind and my body with the running that I had done throughout the winter. Plus a little weight gain. Plus using and tiring out a bunch of muscles in my legs that I haven't used in a year. And yah, running probably will suck a little. But it's been hard because I have been getting slower and slower (after a year of focusing on just getting faster and faster), feeling terrible, and just something I have been struggling to get the motivation to do. However, I try to find positives in all my runs. Whether it be running in a fun different city like on my recent trip to San Francisco, the beautiful weather we've been having, ability to wear tank tops, being consistent in pace (whatever it may be) or running with friends. I am working to stay positive.

And not just on my runs, but on my bikes as well. I spent a lot of the century ride biking along and even during the tough portions where I felt like I was going to bonk, I tried to focus on the positives and enjoy the day. During the challenging hilly portion of the last 15 miles of the ride, I told myself all the starting and stopping was just going to make me stronger. I am working to stay true to the first part of the goal I had set for myself when I signed up for Ironman Chattanooga, which is just to have fun with the training. Staying positive is not always easy, but it is a choice. And I am proud of myself for the times that I have chosen to be positive in the past few weeks.

It is something I will continue to work on and choose every day. Hope you are having a great start to your week!

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