Located in Tilden Regional Park, Lake Anza is a small, freshwater lake with a lovely little beach and roped off swim area.
There is a small fee per person to enter the beach area, but no fee when lifeguards are not present. This makes it a nice option for open water practice either before 9 AM in the summer or anytime during the cooler months. Because it is a lake it’s important to be up on water quality, especially after any rain. See the link above for up to date water quality, fee, facility, and hour information.
I am filing Lake Anza under “Why have I never been here before?” I went there last Sunday for the first time and was very pleasantly surprised. There was ample parking and a snack shack (I get hungry). The weather was in the mid to low 70s, the sun was pleasantly warm without being too hot.
The water was wonderful! A bit cool, which was perfect for a no wetsuit swim in the “lap area.” The roped area is ~60 meters long (thanks mapmyfitness!) There were free life jackets to borrow and the guards were really on their game. When a couple of kids moved past the drop off rope into the deeper swim area, the life guards got them back out of the way of the three or four of us actually doing laps.
It can be hard to arrange open water swim time with training partners. Because this is a guarded beach I felt fine going out without a buddy. It’s small and you are never swimming that far from shore. Even without guards I would feel very confident swimming here, especially in a wetsuit. There is relatively easy access to both roads and trails making this a good location for swim brick workouts as well.
With a couple of adults this could be a really great to place to get some open water practice in AND have family beach time.
(N.B. The Tilden Tough Ten is not sold out yet! It’s a great, cheap, local race. Get on it if your schedule allows!)
Anyway, Sprint triathlon, four weeks away! I jiggered my training plan and instead of plowing through and then having to make things up for two weeks I dropped back to the last rest recovery week, and will complete the last three week bloc in time to have a intense taper week and be race ready on May 31.
I’m feeling good about this decision. My energy was in the tank on Monday, I was not prepared to hit the most intense week of training ever (no joke, this is the most and most intensely I have ever trained, ’tis dope).
Wednesday morning I was scheduled to hit the bike for a really hard trainer session. The last time I used that video (The Long Scream, no intimidation there!) I cracked. I got eleven or so minutes in and could not hold my power. I dropped my effort and finished the video but at a much lower level that I was targeting. I was scared. I didn’t get out of bed, I didn’t do the workout. I rallied to hit the exercise bike in the gym at lunch – a poor substitute but I’m glad I made the effort.
This morning I was schedule once again to get up early and hit the bike trainer for a hard video. This time it was Fight Club and then a twenty minute run. I was intimidated and scared. I’d never run after such an intense bike workout. Then I figured out what happened on Wednesday because it happened again this morning.
I had a dream that I woke up and decided not to do the video, that it was too hard and I was too tired and I couldn’t do it. I dreamt that I changed my alarm and slept late. WTF brain? Today I managed to break through the mental fog to realize that I was dreaming and the alarm was not for a few more hours. It was still a struggle to get up and out and down to the bike but I’m damn proud of myself.
The workout itself was bollocks. My legs fell off about half way through. I couldn’t even approach my watts. I soldiered on based on RPE – I might not make the watts but I was going to do the work dammit. Then I went running and it felt great. I busted my ass on the bike for an hour and then had a nice and easy twenty minute run.
Then I left for work and shit got weird. I rode my bike the mile and a half to the train station and dropped it off at the valet (that’s how we roll in Oakland!) There is a short walk to the fare gates and I had plenty of time to get my train. I wanted to run. I really, really desired to run. I got in about fifty meters and it felt amazing! I wanted to ditch work and go hit about five miles of trails with my dog. Right now, I want to go running. I want to get moving, I feel amazing.
I’m feeling very optimistic for my triathlon in May. I think it’s going to go very, very well.
Have a great weekend y’all! May the crazy run strong in you.
Tuesday was my birthday!! It was quite wonderful. I had a low key brunch with my family on Sunday. Cupcakes were made and consumed with and by the almost three year old. Fortunately, her frosting induced hyperactivity was charming.
Wednesday morning I headed off to Masters swim at the pool. When I first joined Masters I had not swum laps for three years. I was very nervous and the encouragement of the lane dwellers was welcome. “Do what you can!” “It’s ok if you do fewer sets, you’re doing great!” I have had some minor beef with my lane mates in the past. Things like getting lectured about pool etiquette by the person who is always kicking me with her fins.
Well Wednesday it kind of blew up. I did a swim workout by myself about ten days ago. In one hour of Masters I can get in 1400-1600 yards. In 55 minutes by myself I got in 1900 yards. That seemed weird. Now we do more than just front crawl in Masters, and not everything is as fast, but that seemed like a big discrepancy. I realized that I was losing yards because I was waiting for the whole lane to “get” the workout. They wouldn’t pay attention to the coach for some reason, then would have a chat to determine amongst themselves what the workout was, then realize that they needed to ask the coach, then start swimming.
I used to wait for the whole lane to have it down. I stopped waiting a couple of weeks ago. After trying to tell the group the set, because I had been paying attention, and having them ignore me, I started leaving when I knew what to do. They were still faster swimmers, but not fast enough to make up thirty seconds to a minute on me.
So I was swimming in front, cool, right? I thought so. Wednesday we get assigned a set of kicking. I hate kicking, so I grabbed some fins to make it bearable. One of the lane dwellers always wears fins of some sort so I figured this was cool, in terms of etiquette, she being the Emily Post of the Pool. Well, Emily Post and her buddy were going down, side by side with kickboards, almost completely blocking the lane, chatting during the kick set. I thought “Seriously? You gave me a lecture on what not to do and you pull this blatant shit?” I passed them going down, then had to thread through the gap on the way back while they nattered away.
We move on the main set which is this weird down, stop, jump, down, dolphin dive, thingamajig that took a lot of instruction from the coach. We finish the instruction rep and then start the main set. We finish a rep and suddenly there’s the question “How many was that?” I said it was three, the instruction set plus two. The Queen of the Lane (Emily Post’s friend) says it was two.
Well I can fucking count to three. QoL and I say “3” “no 2” to each other and then Emily Post reaches the wall. She comes up and is asked how many reps that is and says “3.” BUT then QoL says it’s two and she changes her story. Because she is there to be buddies and I am new and can’t be right (interpretive license ahoy I know, but fuck them). I was done. “Well, it’s just fucking math” I say and then leave on the next rep (that, by the way, QoL is doing wrong because once again she didn’t listen to the coach).
I finish my workout and go to the locker room. I’m pissed. QoL is in there and proceeds to tell me that I shouldn’t get upset. There’s no reason to get upset. It’s just swimming. I say “It doesn’ t matter” because I don’t want to get into it. She didn’t ask “Why did you get upset.” She had no concern for me. She communicated to me that my feelings were wrong and that I was wrong to be upset over swimming. She gaslighted me and tried to emotionally negate me. No compassion, no camaraderie, just someone who felt they needed to dictate what I did and control how I reacted in the future.
Now, I know that what other people do shouldn’t matter to me, how many reps they think we have done should not be important, but I’m exhausted by these people. Every week they miscount something, they have gone out of their way to communicate that they know what to do and I need to learn what to do. People who don’t take the rest intervals, people who think 4 * 2 is the same as 8. People who are here “just for fun” and “it doesn’t matter.” Well that’s them and that’s fine _for them_. I am in deadly earnest in the pool. Yes, I think it’s super fun! It’s also really, really important to me. What I do is not a commentary on them or their correctness or their righteousness. I’m here to get coached, to get better, to get FASTER. Frankly, I’m here to win. I don’t know what I’m gonna win, but I’m fucking going for it.
I’m leaving my Masters group. Yes, it’s a very good deal financially. It’s a crap deal emotionally and I won’t go back until I can move up a lane and not have to deal with these people. To quote my brother “You do not have to prove anything to anyone.” I don’t have to keep going to an environment that is somewhere I don’t want to be.
It was full to bursting! Groceries, library, workout, gardening, marathon volunteering, workout, make quiche with a three year old, work out more, put three year old to bed, collapse.
I prefer the busy weekends. I hate getting to Sunday night and feeling like nothing happened. I don’t want to be well rested, which is what I tell myself I will be if I do as little as possible. I want to feel like I lived my weekend. Most of us spend most of the week working. If we do that, when are we living the lives we want? If you do nothing, or close to, on the weekend, when are you actually _doing_ what you want to do?
I was taking Sundays off in the last phase of my training. This phase is over! Now weekends are for beating my ass. The fantastic news is that all this training is totally working. I am not just feeling stronger and faster, I AM stronger and faster.
This weekend’s case in point: the swim. I couldn’t get to masters’ because of the Oakland Marathon. I manned a water stop for three hours with the Oakland Triathlon Club. Super fun by the way. Even if you have no intention of ever participating in an athletic activity, I encourage you to volunteer. You get to see a lot of the race and a very tangible feeling of helping the racers. Races don’t happen without volunteers. I always thank them when I race and I try to volunteer a couple of times a year.
I went swimming Sunday, midday at Mills College. Forgot my suit the first time I drove there but I got it right eventually and jumped in. Trefethen Aquatic Center has a very nice pool. The lap section is consistently eight feet deep. It has low chlorination, is very clean, 25 yards (I think), and un-crowded. I had to share my lane for the warm up but not for my main set.
A couple of months ago I was swimming at masters’ and I had to do 100 yards on an interval, e.g. I had to leave the wall after a set period of time. The 100 yards took me about 2:30 and I left every 3 minutes. So each 100 I took 30 seconds of rest. That’s a lot of rest. Those 2:30 100s were tough for me, I was working very hard to make that interval. I think I did about three of them before I was worn out.
On Sunday I did 4 * 100 on 2:25 with 10 seconds rest. Twice. I swam 100 yards in 2:15 (that’s 15 seconds faster than before) and then rested 10 seconds (20 seconds less rest) and then did another 100. Instead of three intervals of 100 yards, I did eight. I could not only go faster, I went faster with less effort, on significantly less recovery time. Each of those eight 100 yard segments was the same time. Every time I came up at the end it had been 2:15, from the first to the last. I’m a sucker for consistency, I could not have been more happy with my results.
Between the two sets of 4 * 100 I did 200 yards of backstroke. In November, when I started masters’, I couldn’t go in a straight line during backstroke to save my life. On Sunday, with something to spot, I did just fine and was able to relax and swim effectively on my back.
The cherry on top of the already fulfilling workout (did I mention I swam almost a half-iron distance worth of yards in 55 minutes? My longest swim workout since I got back in the pool after a three year break?) was that I did two lengths of butterfly, for FUN. Easy butterfly, just cuz I felt like it, as a cool down.
I have lost my ever loving mind or maybe just shed my non-swimmer self just about completely.
…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…
Sunday, Febraury 1, 2015, I completed the 2015 Tour of Sufferlandria. It was right up there with a marathon as one of the hardest physical endeavors I have ever attempted.
Nine days in a row, get on a bike trainer and bust out a hard workout. Day 8 had something like 125 high intensity intervals, including more than 80 sprint efforts. I cried, I yelled, I learned new things about what I prefer in the pad of my bike shorts.
Now social media is not perfect, there are very negative elements to the ubiquity of networks of people posting innocuous but vapid memes or vitriolic, bigotry without consequence.
The Tour of Sufferlandria is an example of the positive potential of the internet. The Sufferfest itself only exists by virtue of a highly available, high bandwidth, digital information delivery system. The Tour is organized over the internet, as a benefit to the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s. The highlight of the Tour has been the Facebook group. For all that the Sufferfest spouts words like “pain, misery, agony” the group has been a constant flow of camaraderie and support.
On the eighth day, when I was very close to cracking, I thought of Dame Alissa Schubert and I fought on. On the last sprint of that day and the last sprint of the tour, I thought of her again. On the ninth day, when I did not want to get on my bike trainer for another two hours, I logged onto Facebook and there were dozens of posts from others exactly where I was. To find the energy and the motivation to complete the tour I just needed to know I wasn’t alone.
I bought my first Sufferfest video in 2010. It was so cool! They are very well put together and I find the music especially is programmed in such a way that if I am having trouble hitting my power target I can just close my eyes and tune in to that and I’ll be right on, it’s magic. But they were for tough people, for “real” cyclists. I really, really wanted a Sufferfest jersey to ride in but I told myself I had to earn it.
I told myself that I could have it if I was fast enough. I didn’t know how fast that was, but I knew I didn’t want to look like a poseur. If I was going to fly that flag I wanted to come correct.
That was bullshit. Seeing so many Sufferlandrians this last week I’ve seen that speed has nothing to do with. What size your body is, your FTP, your average speed, how much you sweat, none of that matters. Will matters.
Having the drive to get better, the will to work, that is what makes a Sufferlandrian. Getting up, wanting it enough to play less video games, get up early, make the childcare arrangements, deal with the soreness, that’s it. If you’re making space to give the energy, you’re here.
My husbeast did me the great compliment of telling people about the Tour. Proudly he told friends and family about his crazy, sporty wife. He gets it. When I told him about the stages and how hard they would be he would say “That sounds terrible! Have fun!” He knew that I had earned that Sufferfest jersey long before I did.
I finished the Tour and it was amazing. I was hard, it hurt, I cried, and today I feel that much more confident and sure of my own strength. Will I do it in 2016? I don’t know, but I’m very glad I did it this year.
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.
I had the best training run of the last two years today. I was in a funk last night and very anxious about my ability to execute to the level of fitness I thought I had. My last two long training runs had been extremely difficult. I had run much slower than I thought I was capable of, I had been low on energy physically and mentally. I was really quite afraid of what was going to happen today and on race day in two weeks.
Today was amazing. It was twenty degrees cooler than it had been two and four weeks ago on my really tough runs. My fueling was spot on, my hydration was good. I ran hills today that I wasn’t able to run before. I averaged ~15:15 per mile (more on that in a bit) rather than 17 to 18 minutes per mile. Even after a wrong turn added to my mileage for the day I didn’t flag at the end. I was still running up and down hill. I was relaxed and happy. I didn’t back off after my bad days, I had doubt but I stuck to my training and today it showed in how strong and fast I felt. I fell pumped and ready to race, which is a far cry from last night. Let’s hear it for consistency!
About those apps…
Today I ran three run tracking apps on my phone: MapMyRun, RunKeeper, and Wahoo Fitness.
I have been using RunKeeper for just over a year. It’s got a good interface and I really like the interval feature. At the designated intervals of time and distance it will announce the time, distance and a smattering of other stats, including average pace. I use this to time my nutrition.
I use MapMyRun on the web to map out runs. I used it today because this was not a route I have run before. It was a good choice as I did make one wrong turn and almost made a couple others.
Wahoo Fitness are the makers of my heart rate monitor. Their data is meant to be uploaded to other apps for analysis. It does the best job of transferring usable heart rate data to TrainingPeaks, which is the application I use to plan and analyse my training.
There are predicatble time differences because I could not start and stop all the apps simultaneously (I’m sure there’s an app for that). It’s the distance and elevation differences that interest me.
RunKeeper: 3:18:25 12.85 miles Total climb 3763 feet.
MapMyRun: 3:18:39 13.15 miles Total climb 1514 feet.
Wahoo Fitness 3:19:11 13.26 miles Total Climb 5315 feet
I know that Wahoo is very sensitive to elevation change, as it tells me I have been climbing when I run on a treadmill, so I’m going to disregard that number. The climb of 1514 seems very low and I suspect that MapMyRun does a lot of smoothing. I like it’s distance number though, in the middle of the other two. I need to run them against Strava for my next run and see where that falls. I’d like to run one or maybe two apps at most. And someday I’ll grow up and buy a damned Garmin like an adult.
Training is peaking this week. Five miles at lunch on Tuesday, a 45 minute tempo run today, and 12 miles on Sunday. I feel great. The heart rate monitor is helping me target my training to the correct zones. As I suspected, before I was using it my fast runs were too slow and my slow runs were too fast.
I’m not sure I’m ever going to understand what “comfortably hard” means but I’m getting to grips with “embarrassingly slow” for my recovery days. I think I’ll label them “unashamedly slow,” I’m never going to be embarrassed that I’m getting out there and getting it done, no matter the speed (or lack there of).
It’s always a bonus when you can feel your increased fitness. Yesterday I was riding my bike up the hill and I got out of the saddle a lot. It was easy! Just up and out and booking it to survive a 1.75 mile bike commute through East-ish Oakland. I never used to get out of the saddle. Even short jumps left me completely out of breath. Getting out of the saddle was reserved for going downhill and relieving some pressure in my back.
I don’t ride a long way, but I get on my bike twice a day, five days a week. Mornings down the hill, evenings back up. My gearing choice in the evening depends on what my workout was the day before. In the mornings, down the hill, I rarely shift out of the hardest chainring/cassette combo. As an experiment, I stayed in my biggest chainring going up the hill last week, in the evening. It was doable, not super easy, but it didn’t exhaust me to buckle down and get up the hill that much faster.
Sunday before last, I went out for my long run. 8 miles on the schedule, no biggie, about two hours for me on hilly trails.
It sucked. I was just out of gas. The muscle strength was there I just couldn’t make my legs move. At one point I just stopped. Stopped walking, because I surely wasn’t running. My dog, Archie, looked at me. He wasn’t tired. I didn’t want to move anymore. I did move, it was two miles back to the car and sometimes it helps to have zero options.
As I was running it was hard to pinpoint what was going on. I was so miserable and tired. I spent a few days dissecting the run and that is where the smarts come in. No run is “bad.” Some are much harder than others but in all things, it is the most challenging experiences that can teach us the most. I unpacked the whole weekend to figure out why a run that I should have been able to complete if not easily, then at least feeling decent was a death march for the three miles.
What I Learned:
The Long Run starts the day before. And the day before this run I was at my aunt’s wake. The day before that, an old friend died unexpectedly. I wasn’t sleeping well that weekend.
Lesson 1 – Never underestimate the effect of emotions on your body. Emotional exhaustion = physical exhaustion.
At the wake I was happy to see my family and sad for the occasion. I dressed up. I wore heels and make up. I danced to the bagpipes with my toddler (yup, proper wake!) Jumping up and down in heels carrying 25 pounds of little girl doesn’t make for a good lung run the next day
Lesson 2 – Stay focused. I lost my future focus (see lesson 1) and was completely in the moment. It was fun but I paid for it.
There was a light lunch at the wake. I didn’t track how much I ate. We ended up eating a late lunch at 3 PM and got home at 4:30 PM. We were all tired so I turned on the TV to watch some Thomas the Tank Engine. The next thing I knew it was almost bed time for Pip so she had a dinner of Joe-Os and raisins and I didn’t really have dinner at all.
Lesson 3 – Fueling is a constant. When I don’t track what I am eating and ensure I get enough protein, my body does not have what it needs to carry me and no amount of wishful thinking can change that.
I tried a new fuel on my run. This I knew was a risk. I was trying out eating dates as fuel. One date every ten minutes equals about my gel consumption.
Lesson 4 – Dates don’t work for long runs as fuel.
The recommendation for dates as fuel came from a bicycling website (Loving the Bike). Digestion is different for cycling and running so that might account for why the dates didn’t work very well. The dates not only did not provide me the energy to run, they also gave me a bit of GI distress, which is something I have been lucky enough to avoid for my endurance life. They stuck in my teeth, so I found myself drinking more water than usual to try to rinse my mouth out. They tasted alright but overall they do not get a pass. Maybe for a future bike ride or hike I will try dates or dates mixed with other dried fruit and see how that goes down.
Lesson 5 – Scheduling is important
If I could have not run long on that day, I would have. September is booked up, socially. Every weekend has at least one social commitment. The weekend before the tough run was a fall back week, the weekend after had even more social commitments. I had to get the run in on this day and I should have tempered my expectations. Disappointment is really powerful. The expectation that I would be running at a specific pace set me up for a negative jolt when I saw how slowly I was going.
Lesson 6 – it’s all good.
That run took ~2:45 for 8.5 miles. The good part is that I toughed it out. I didn’t give up. I was tired and I kept going and I’ve developed mental toughness. The physical endurance is built no matter how slow you go. I’ve learned a lot from the run so the difficulty, the fatigue, and the hurt are not wasted.
I know what went sideways for this run. The trick now is integrating that and staying focused on what I want. I want to run and race well. So no more high heels until the holidays, keep fueling, keep sleeping, and recognize when maybe it’s time to take a break or maybe just when it’s going to be a tough day.