Since the events in my last blog, I have raced three times. Two trail runs and one triathlon. No race reports.
I’m very tired right now. Had a very, very big work project that ate all my energy in May and June. I’m completely burned out on triathlon. The emotional work of trying to decide to race Alcatraz took so much out of me that I don’t think I can even race the Oakland Sprint much less jump into the bay.
There is only so much bandwidth in any of our lives. I am stepping back from tri right now because I can see that it’s too much. It feels like an obligation, rather than a privilege and that’s not a flavor of energy that I want to associate with my stress releasing me time activity.
I focusing on strength training and endurance running now. I’m lifting twice a week and keeping up with my yoga practice. I’m running three days a week and once the reg link is live, I’m hoping to do the Golden Hills Trail Marathon in October.
After that, I will probably switch to working on running speed and 5 k training with the long term goal on being able to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes (that’s 8:00/mile which is fast for me but I think within sight).
If there is anything I like more than triathlon, it’s obsessively planning for a triathlon.
TL;DR – I’m hella nervous so I wrote every little thing I’m going to try and do on Saturday. Hella Nervous!!
Race day for the Oakland Triathlon Festival is August 29, a Saturday. A little bit odd, but the Raiders have a game on Sunday and that occupies the OPD, so if we want traffic control we go on a Saturday. It would be a bigger deal if I was coming from out of town but as I’m not, all is well.
It doesn’t help matters that Thursday night is both packet pick up and a mandatory meeting for my kid’s preschool. Yay double booking. I can get my packet Friday night and that’s what I’m planning on. I’ll jam home from pick up and lay out all my stuff, do one last bike check, and then try to have a relaxing evening.
Wake up call for race day is a minimum of three hours before start time. Assigned wave time is 7:06 AM so I’ll be up at 4 AM. Breakfast will be a Clif Bar, a banana, and water. I tend to eat my race day breakfast while methodically getting all my gear on, taking bites of bar between pieces of clothing. I know that it will be work to get all the food down, but it’s worth it. I’ll stop drinking except for tiny sips of water at about 5 AM.
My new best friend!
Given that I want to get to transition around 5:15 AM and I want to have a happy home life, I’m car pooling to the start and leaving the car for the Mister, the little Miss, and my Father in Law to drive in at the not quite normal but at least a bit saner time of 7AM. There is a whole lot of walking around the swim leg that I want to save my family by not asking them to watch the start, just be there at the swim exit. That also gives them a serious cushion to find parking, get coffee, and scout spectation spots. (I love that this race has really good spectator info, including where to view each transition as well as the finish line and coffee shop recommendations).
Pro Tip: If you have people coming to cheer you on, give them a time range for each leg/each time you will come past where they plan to be. Best bet these days is to text it to them. I do something like “I will finish the swim in 30 to 45 minutes.” This is a massive time range and makes allowances for a great day, a crap day, and swimming with the current! I do that for each leg. They basically reset each time they see me “OK, that was the swim, she said the bike would be approx 45 minutes per lap so we have 40 minutes to get to our preferred viewing area.” Worked perfectly for my last race. Family gets to see me, I get to see family – everybody wins!
Immediate Pre-Race or TZero
Get to Transition, find the club rack (55 people from my club are registered, total domination!), set up transition. Go to Porta Potty.
Light jog down to the swim exit and back. Optional: Drop T1 spare shoes. Jog the transitions. Visualize success, ease, relaxation, mastery! Go to Porta Potty.
6:15 – T-49 minutes – last check of transition area. Start getting into wetsuit. Go to Porta Pottie.
6:45 – Sprint waves start – Take a gel, finish getting in to wetsuit, get in the water to warm up. New race tradition – including butterfly in my warm up. It gets my heart rate up very quickly and it can be intimidating to the competition. Plus it’s just super fun in a wetsuit.
7:00 – First Olympic Wave goes! Chill and breathe, chill and breathe. Visualize race.
7:03 – previous wave goes. Get lined up, not the back, not the front. Chill.
I will pace myself, I will swim to have a good bike, I will bike to have a good run, I will run to finish strong.
7:06 – Go Time!
Swim – Head down, get into the rhythm as soon as possible. Stroke, Stroke, Breath, Stroke, Stroke, Sight, Breathe. Repeat for 30 – 45 minutes.
I haven’t learned how to catch a good draft while swimming. If I do get feet that would be awesome but I’m not gonna go off book to try and do it. I will probably swim well within what I could do, because I’m not confident of my swimming I think I go very conservatively.
Early in the swim there is a zig zag before we got onto the long stretch. I will focus on getting into a solid rhythm and staying right there; just below the burn, working, firm but not hard, breathing into it but not gasping for breath.
T1 – Flop onto the dock then stand up, cap and goggles off, top of wetsuit down, find T1 running shoes (NB – gotta make sure I can find my shoes with my glasses off! May need to place glasses in the T1 shoes, in a case, don’t want them smashed and I’ve got cases to burn. Option is to run with foggy vision.
Jog the whole transition. Running all out would just get my heart rate spiking way to early in the day. I bet there will be a lot of people while start out running too hard and end up hitting their bike a walk, lungs heaving. Because…
That’s right, we run a couple hundred yards out of the water and then up and over a pedestrian overpass! There is actually a prize for the male and female records for T1. Super love that this race has primes (small prizes) for the fastest leg splits.
Get to the bike, thrown down goggles and cap, finish removing wetsuit, bike shoes on, grab flask of gel (it’s sitting in my helmet) and put it in my leg pocket, grab flat kit, other leg pocket (bento box?), helmet on (glasses on if I didn’t run in them), jog to bike mount, right past all the people right at the line, get in front of that traffic and get on the bike! Pull race belt down to waist after getting on the bike (you wear your race belt under your wetsuit? Hell yes I do.)
Bike – Lots of turns on this course, there are not a lot of places where we will be just grinding away in our rhythm. I want to average 16 mph and finish this up between 1:30 and 1:45. Because there will be so many turns, it will be important to slow down through the turns as little as possible while remaining safe. Accelerating takes more energy than maintaining and every moment slower than my goal average speed requires a moment that much faster.
I will pace myself, I will go at a controlled pace, I will bike to have a good run, I will run to finish strong.
It’s out of transition, left turn, a couple of blocks, right turn and a couple of miles straight up Broadway to settle down and get into it before the turns start.
I did the preview ride last Saturday, so I know that the one short, steep downhill is immediately followed by a ninety degree left and then a right, basically a really hard chicane and the middle of that turn has potholes. Priority through the turn is staying upright.
Take the turns nice and wide->apex->wide where possible, otherwise it’s watching out for potholes, train tracks, and pools of ick (I see you 7th Street right turn, I see you!) and staying in the right effort zone. There will be a headwind out 7th to the Port and a tail wind back.
I know where I need to be effort wise, working but no burn in the legs, no chasing, no jumping, no attacking. Steady, steady effort. (Exceptions: necessary passes due to people in front of me slowing down or getting the hell away from unsafe riders).
And no drafting!
I need to do two laps of the bike course, when we approach transition the sprint racers will be heading to dismount and the Olympic racers will need to turn left to head out again. This merge was apparently quite hairy last year so it’s head up time.
No matter what you think the race director ought to be doing, knowing the course, the rules, and racing safely are the athlete’s responsibility.
Nutrition – I will be doing a small hit of gel every 15-20 minutes. I will drink to thirst, with Gu Brew for electrolyte and some calories and just water to chase gels. Plan is to finish three total gels and one and half water bottles during the bike.
The forecast is for mid-sixties with cloud cover. Perfect racing weather. Still gotta wear sunblock, still gotta hydrate, no slacking on the basics!
T2 – on the last stretch down 3rd clam down, spin the legs, stretch the back and hammies, think about running.
Dismount safely and walk to the rack, bike straight on, helmet off, shoes off, shoes on, grab visor and gel flask, run, put visor on while running.
Run – This is not a sprint, no hell bent for leather pace here. Left down 2nd, right, left, left, right, Spend the first five minutes getting under control. I’ve practiced my race effort so I need to relax and let it come to me. I can’t bank on the flow coming but I’m going to make a place for it. Just under 5K pace, just a bit less than a sprint race. Can you do this for an hour?
I will pace myself, I will go at a controlled pace, I will run to finish strong.
Nutrition – one gel flask at a concentration to be sipped every ten minutes/every mile. Aid stations every mile with water.
(This late in the race, there are fewer words. Keep it simple)
Don’t fall off. Stay on it, don’t slack, stay on it. Don’t chase anyone.
Up to the lake. Home field advantage in full effect. Anyone who runs in Oakland, runs the lake. Familiar courses are easy to run. Let it be as easy as possible. Working, comfortably hard. No burn, no burn, just tired, no burn.
At the Boat house- Can you do this for another thirty minutes? Yes.
It’s okay to be tired here, it’s been a long day. Stay in your zone.
Left after the pedestrian bridge, 1.2 miles to go. Is there more in the tank? No? Ok, stay with this pace. Yes? Pick it up just a notch, a tiny notch.
Under the freeway, about a mile to go. Cross Oak Street, about a half mile, start to spend the last drips of energy. Flask goes in pocket. Stay strong and steady.
I will finish strong.
Here comes the kicker. With a quarter mile to go, it’s back up and over the pedestrian crossing. Stairs, fucking flights of stairs. Just do this, just do this, it’s gonna hurt, it’s supposed to hurt but you’re so close to the finish.
Down the other side and out and it’s a quarter mile to go. Start to squeeze out that last bit of energy. If that means maintaining – good, if that means speeding up – good.
Left onto the path at 300 yards, when you make the right it’s 200, go hard.
In the chute it depends: Is someone in front of you? Chase them down. Is someone behind you? Keep them there. All clear? Arms up, head up, big smile!
All done! Get your medal, walk around, find the family. Ahhh. Get some recovery fluids and calories and enjoy the rest of the day, you earned it!
I’m just trying to set some goals for my next race, the Oakland International Triathlon, on August 29. (You’re gonna come out and cheer, right?) (I won’t be finishing until, like, 11:00 AM, at the earliest, you can make it to the finish line by then!).
I really want to do it in three hours!! But I don’t think I can and that’s bumming me out, so it’s time to have a conversation with myself.
Be real jackass! You did 1:35 at Monte Rio going hard the whole time. There’s no way, in the same year, you’re gonna maintain the same pace for twice as long, it doesn’t work that way. If you pulled a 3:10 that would be phenomenal!
Really looking at training data, what is realistic? What is your body telling you it can do?
Swim – you did a 2000 yard swim with a pull buoy that was 48 minutes or 2:24/100 yds. Race day will be a bit faster with the wetsuit and not having to break rhythm on the walls.
My previous Olympic, the swim was 38:25 – in retrospect I think that swim was short. That would be a 2:21/100 and I think that’s reasonable.
Realistic goal, let’s say 38 minutes, anything up to 40 minutes will be just fine. (and look, we’re back to writing in the first person)
T1 is long on this race – it’s a run from the water, up and over a pedestrian over crossing and into the transition area. Looking at last year’s times, I’m giving myself 8 minutes.
Bike – this is where I feel the least prepared to go how I believe I should be capable of going (torturous grammar!). I love biking and I want to be able to hammer the shit out of a bike. But 25 miles is a long way to go. Given that it’s gonna take me at least an hour and a half I need to recognize that no one could hammer for that long.
My last race I averaged 16.8 mph. My last hard training intervals I was pushing to get 20 mph and I was getting 18-19 mph for a very hard interval. I should think that 16 mph would be really good! That would give me 1:33 for the bike and anything under 1:40 will be fine.
Tempering my expectations doesn’t mean I’ll be pissed off if I go faster! And once again, I will race without a watch on swim and run and go by RPE. I will use my bike computer on the ride. The bike is where I tend to really back off if I don’t have something to spur me on.
I want so badly to do as well, relative to my age group, as I did at Monte Rio (5th!!) but this is a much bigger race, with a much deeper field. I will move myself up in the world. From the back of the pack to the middle of the pack is big move. I’m not gonna get to the front of the middle of the pack for another couple of years.
Instead of being disappointed, I need to fuel my hunger! These are the thoughts for the off season, for strength training, for the days I don’t want to get up at 5 and get on my bike trainer. What do I want? Well, for one, I want to be in the top half of my age group at The Oakland International Distance Triathlon.
T2 is much shorter, the dismount is right before transition, so I’m giving myself 2:00.
and the Run. Sigh. My right IT band has been in not premium shape the last two or three weeks. Hills are just deadly to it. Good thing my race is just about pancake flat! My usual weekly long run on trails has been replaced my a run from my house, but that’s good too as my race is on asphalt so I need to be used to the surface. I’ve been doing my old PT exercises and the leg seems to be holding up. The IT just gets tired easily.
The plan is to stick to doing PT exercises every day, avoid steep hills and stairs, and generally taking care of myself. This is on top of the right ankle injury from swimming and the shin splints that have been making a return. I don’t know why my legs are complaining so but I also know that I had no such problems in my last training build and I was doing drills during almost every run. Hmmmmm…
Pace goals wise, this week I did thirty minutes at goal pace/effort and that ended up being very consistent, I was able to get to and stay at 10:30/mile without undue effort. I feel that the run pace is dialed in and that’s going to be my goal, which would give me about a 1:06.
That means my totally reasonable, based on training data, goal time is
38 + 1:33 + 1:06 + (8 + 2) = 3:19 [All my triathlete people will understand the order of operations].
Which, by the way, would be a thirty minute PR over the distance, which is HUGE. Instead of having my chamois in a bunch because I won’t be hitting three hours, I should be well chuffed that I could cut ~12% off my previous best at this distance.
Further goals include: Not giving myself stomach cramp by chugging a gel in T2, not giving myself a back cramp by biking too hard, not losing ten seconds in transition to worn out bike shoe ratchets (solved by the purchase of tri bike shoes last weekend).
So there. I feel better now. I have a reasonable, training based goal time.
…which is either a massive over or understatement, depending on how you look at it.
I completed the Tour of Sufferlandria, which I had not planned into my training calendar. It came up and I went for it. It was super fun but it threw me off my rhythm.
I spent a week recovering and then I was planning on being in Irvine for the Zot Trot as a training day to get the feel for a triathlon without the pressure of an “A” race, i.e. I was gonna take it easy and have fun. I did not get down to Irvine. My husbeast’s band had a really important show scheduled for that weekend, which we figured out nine days before race day. So the Zot Trot got cancelled and I do not do very well with unfulfilled expectations.
That was two weeks ago. Right after the aborted triathlon we jumped right into preschool applications. This shit is crazy. We are applying to a handful of co-operative preschools which are cheaper in dollars and more expensive in time than a conventional school. Given that we have a bit more money than time, this seems good.
Apparently the time commitment starts before your kid is even accepted. Each school requires that we attend a tour during the school day. Every school’s tour times are overlapping, so we can’t do more than one a day, and they are all during the work day, so I have to take a half day at work for each one of them. We can take our kid to some of them but not to others. Some of them require an application to be mailed, some need an application fee, some need us to write about what we are hoping to get from the cooperative experience.
When I get to work late I don’t take a lunch. If I don’t take a lunch I’m not getting a lunchtime work out in. My energy levels are really low, I’m not eating well (e.g. not getting enough protein, or frankly enough calories, full stop), and I just feel spaced out and crappy.
I have been getting some runs in and I got out for an actual long bike ride on my road bike with my fancy clipless pedals. I totally fell on my bike ride because it had been more than three years since I had ridden outdoors on my clipless. Thus I totally forgot to clip out at a red light. Fortunately I wasn’t hurt and the rest of the ride was quite easy. My runs, well, my runs have been amazing.
I am coming out of the base training or “off” season. Lots of slow running. I have been feeling very questionable about my fitness after these disruptions to my training. Then I looked at the stats. I don’t look at my heart rate while I’m running. I’m trying to learn to gauge my effort zones by putting in the efforts as I run and then checking afterwards if I was in the zone I was aiming for.
My runs lately have all been in Zone 1-2 e.g. “Slow, hella slow.” But that’s what the plan called for so that’s what I was doing.
Last October a 30 minute easy run was just over two miles. 13:36/mile
Today an easy 30 minute run was 2.7 miles. 11:16/mile
Same level of effort, similar average heart rate, more than half a mile farther. That’s awesome. For an even more stark comparison, in 2009, in my first triathlon season I did a timed mile as fast I could go. It took me more than 12:30, for one mile, and I was cooked. I can now jog a minute faster per mile than that at a low level of effort.
It’s very nice to have some stats to show that consistent training is yielding promising results.
Starting next week I’m out of Base training and into something a bit different…
So I’m on this journey to train hella hard (and smart!) to get as fast as I can at triathlon-ing. The earliest I’m going to race the swim-bike-run format is February, 2015. I have months until I will test my fitness in a race. There are fitness tests on my training calendar but right now I’m in this limbo of working out a lot (really, a lot!), and sort of beating the crap out of myself, and not knowing if it’s doing a damn thing besides make me tired.
I have a great fear that I’m slow, that nothing I do will make me faster. In my brain slow=fat and fat=lazy, stupid, bad, horrible, etc. So yay, irrational fears!
This past weekend I got on the bike trainer for my first extended bike workout. Unlike the daily bike commute, there is nowhere to hide on a trainer. You can’t coast, there are not stop lights. When the schedule says 40 minutes, there will be pedaling for 40 minutes. Because the weekend schedule was crazy, I lumped my run in right after this ride.
It was easy. 40 minutes watching old Ironman Hawaii coverage, alternating between the hoods and the drops to build my arm and neck strength and keeping my heart rate in an easy work zone and my cadence high. No worries! That was probably faster than I have ever actually ridden in a race and then I busted out 30 minutes with the stroller, toddler and doggie. No speed records but I covered most of the distance of a sprint triathlon in a time I would have been jealous of four years ago and I wasn’t even tired.
So yeah, it’s working. Strangely enough, so far, self coaching and working out by myself has been effective. With the exception of swimming, which I do at masters and it kicks my ass, I don’t workout with other people. There is no temptation to slow down and chat. Conversely I don’t go too fast trying to keep up with faster athletes. I’m training myself and it feels awesome.
This sounds awesome! Click through on the image to go enter a raffle for some awesome prizes.
I will be jogging the Oakland Hella-Ween 5k on October 25th with Pippi and my awesome and much beloved BOB Stroller. Now I’m on the hunt for a similar race for November 8th. Even if I don’t find an official race, I’ll be getting my jog on, on November 8th!
I am lucky to have a toddler who asks to go running with me and will happily sit in the stroller for almost two hours while I get the miles in. I used to run with my kid in the jogging stroller a lot. I don’t do it as much these days because I’m running at lunch during the work day or I’m running double digits on trails and single track to prep for a trail race. While I love my BOB stroller, I accept its limitations.
When my half marathon is done, I will be getting more stroller time in. For extra credit I will also take the dog with us. Multitasking can be crappy and it can be awesome. Getting my training, having time with my daughter (we chat about the scenery), getting the dog walked, and giving my stay at home spouse some quiet alone time is the good kind of multitasking.