Friday, May 17, 2013

Hitting the Pavement

What a week! Finally Friday and I feel like I have been hit with a ton of bricks....should make tomorrow's brick workout interesting ;) But in all seriousness, it is only beginning to hit me now how much is about to happen in the span of a few weeks. Next weekend I am heading up to Madison with the coach lady to ride out the IMOO trail for the first time. Next thing you know and it's June! Which means I need to be studying more for my test, while packing up my life to move the day after that, while also getting ready for my first race, while trying to balance out work and training and the fact that my sister is about to have a baby any day now.......Did that make anyone else feel like they wanted to bang their head off the wall? Ok good, then it's not just me. I like to think that I am a fairly organized person, who is constantly in motion, but all of this is just so overwhelming!

I've never been good at sitting still, or being in the same spot for long periods of time. It's just a skill I haven't quite gotten down. It makes the fast pace life that I lead workout. But if you look at my planner there are some days that I have a break down of an hour-to-hour schedule of where I need to be and what I need to accomplish in that time. I know I have a problem, first step is admitting it. But I really hate climbing stairs so I'm comfortable at this first step :P Well I've come to find that life has it's own funny way of knocking me on my ass, literally, and telling me to slow down.

Last weekend I went out for my long ride. I was damned determined to get the full 3 hours in because the weekend before that I only got in 2 after being put in a situation that involved blowing two tubes & taking a half mile walk of shame in my socks to the metra station. But we won't get into that. So I started at 6:45am on the lake path. I always say how much I hate the lake path and how much it sucks, but there I was riding loops again. About an hour plus into the ride I was all the way up north when I was totally side-swiped by a group of runners. I took one to the knee, but did they stop to see if I was ok? No! So I picked myself, my pride, and my bloody knee up off the ground and told myself I had another 2 hours to go, shake it off.

I wished I would have had my first aid kit because after wiping off my knee and fixing my dropped chain my hands looked like I murdered someone with a car engine. hahaha. Another hour or so later and I found myself in my second loop down on the south side. I had to cross a street but it wasn't a busy one and I didn't expect anyone to turn down it. WRONG! Out of my peripheral I noticed a bus with it's blinker on and it wasn't slowing down. I had about 2.5 seconds to decide: pound the pavement or get plowed by a bus. No brainer, but damn now my other knee was wrecked and I had just about enough of this day! One more hour I told myself. Just enough time to ride to museum campus and back and it would all be over with. Hold it together for one more hour.

Honestly I'm a believer in karma and bad juju. And there are times that things happen and I think, "Yup, I deserved that." But really, REALLY, I had no idea what I did to deserve two busted up knees AND A FLAT TIRE a mile away from home! I contemplated just riding it home but something in the back of my mind said, "No Sam, with the luck you're having today you'll bend your rim and that will cost you a pretty penny". Alright logic, you win this time. Off the bike I went and in the midst of changing the flat this lady stopped to talk to me. She was impressed that I knew what I was doing and I really appreciated the compliment but really I had had a hell of a morning and was not in the mood for small talk. I moved as fast as I could to change the tube and got on my way. By the time I got home I was ready to throw my bike back on the trainer and not look at it again until the next day!

I went out to brunch with one of my best friends and fellow runner/triathlete friends and we gabbed about the difficulty of our rides over orange flavored coffee and frushi (like sushi, only with fish for this veg head ;)) I was comforted by her ability to relate to the rude runners on the lake path, hey, misery does love company, right?

Well misery really seemed to enjoy my company this past week because I couldn't seem to shake her! I missed my Sunday ride, my knees were still pretty beaten up, and my motivation levels just plummeted this week. Despite the really nice weather I just felt like my run times were slow, I couldn't finish my track workouts and I didn't get to lift once this week! It was like hitting the pavement over and over again every day this week! At which point, as I'm sitting here writing this I am picturing myself just laying out on the ground, not wanting to get back up. Because that's what it feels like. But in my mind I know I am stronger than that. I know I have overcome more difficult hardships than just this week and I can't let the pavement get me down (no pun intended). Sometimes life throws you down and gives you bloody knees. But most times, you're the one pounding the hell out of it putting in those miles.

 <------This make me laugh HYSTERICALLY every time I look at it because this is pretty much what I look like when I'm hungry! hahahaha!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Transition && Threshold

As I go through my Iron(wo)man journey I am finding that there is one thing that is changing (I love oximorons....and saying the word oximoron, haha!) No I'm not talking about track workouts, although those are always a love-hate thing, but rather this whole threshold thing. Being an intelligent and educated individual, I knew what a threshold was, but in the context of say, how long I can stay up on the weekends before my body just quits on me, or how long I can sit inside on a gorgeous day. Training threshold is kind of like this....well, not really, but I still like to think of it like that because trying to wrap my head around aerobic or lactic threshold was not an easy task.

One of the top ten reasons why I love my coach is because she tracks most everything by perceived effort. So she won't throw terms like that at me, or she'll explain it to me in a different context. In the sport of triathlon it's easy to get caught up in numbers: times, PRs, heart rate peak, and so on. Steph's not all about that. She's the kind of coach that will say, "Hey if you have the money and you want to invest, go for it, but otherwise the best way to train is to do it". Simple yet the best advice.

 So two weeks ago was my "transition" week,  where I pulled back on workouts and prepared to get into Ironman specific training. What does that mean? It means rest days change from Monday to Friday, long runs are on Wednesdays, and every weekend is a double bike workout. I swim 3 times a week and open water swims are written in for me to take on when the lake warms up! The change in schedule has me stumbling around, trying to balance out "real life" and training. But half way through week 2 and I think I'm getting the hang of it. One of the challenges I am currently having is the change in my "threshold". Up until this point I built a really solid base and I gained a lot of strength & fitness since January. My long runs were getting faster because I choked down those track workouts and my shoulders didn't burn as bad during my swims. But yesterday I finished a track workout: 2 X 1600 and 2 X 800. I dominated! Held 7:19 pace for my 1600s and felt AWESOME! My legs burned but I was too far gone gloating on my accomplishments. This morning on my 12 mile long run, I thought my legs would NEVER warm up. I remember pain like this, more like fatigue, when I first starting getting back into tri-training but I thought I had broken through that barrier!

 Looking at my training plan again I noticed a note from Steph--"You are going to be tired this month, and that's ok. Stuff is about to get real!" Even when she's not there, she is. This both eased my mind some and had me thinking. The whole idea of a threshold, or at least how I have been threshold training, is by pushing my body as far and as fast as I can, but in a way that will allow me to complete the workout and not be totally maxed out that I can't get up and do it all again tomorrow. I will carry this throughout the rest of my time training and hopefully it will do good things for me when I eventually race IMOO. But for the time being at the start of this transition time, I am going need to push past my impatience.

As posted in the blog of one of my fellow triathlete friends: "“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” –Randy Pausch

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rules of the Road && Sending Out an SOS

I'll probably end up jinxing myself, biting my tongue, or saying I spoke too soon, but after a few weeks of really, really, REALLY crazy weather....I think Chicago is finally beginning to see spring! It became official for me two weeks-ish ago when I decided to go for a quick 45 minute ride outside. And even though it wasn't part of my training plan that day, it was the best decision I had made all day! This past weekend was even better, in the 70s, sunny and begging for Chicago's cohabitants to bust open the windows and shed their jackets. And even though I learned last summer that the lake shore path is not something to train on, I threw caution to the wind and dragged my training partner out on it for our first long ride outside. Despite the areas that I knew would be congested, it actually ended up being a good ride, and we got a solid 30 plus miles in :)

So that was all well-and-good but while riding I realized that it was worth mentioning that while training there are rules of the road that every triathlete should be aware of....both for themselves and others around them.

Rules of the Road: Biking
1) Always wear a helmet, ALWAYS! My partner and I broke this rule this past weekend and I was nervous nearly the entire time. This is for safety purposes but then also it's a good habit to get into, seeing as if you do end up racing, you can be disqualified if you are seen riding around the weekend of the race without a helmet.

2) Always pass on the left and let the person know you are about to pass them! This is the one thing that makes riding on the lake path difficult, if it gets crowded there are runners, roller bladders and bikers all trying to get ahead of one another. And sometimes you will have that one biker that cuts over too close and gets too close for comfort. As a general rule of thumb, I try to stay as close to the right as possible and I will give the person a 3-5 second warning that I am going to pass them (On your left!). This becomes a problem if the person is wearing head phones. The best thing you can do for yourself is be loud and announce your presence. There was one point when I came up to a runner who was hugging the left side I wanted to pass on. Luckily he didn't have headphones in so I yelled out, "Passing on your right runner". He heard me and gave me a thumbs up for the pass. Other than that it is just common knowledge to pass on the left, since you have to do it for races and in my experience, runners stay to the right....and trying to get around them on the right will definitely put you in the position to be a victim of their loooogies and booogers! EW!

3) Along with #2, NEVER wear head phones when you are biking! I did this the first time I went riding and when I told my coach she was quick to address this. It almost seems like common sense now to ride without them, but as an amateur my thought process was that music would help entertain me. But safety always comes before entertainment. I occasionally see cyclists with headphones in, but as a general rule of thumb, leave them at home and enjoy the scenery.

4) Use hand signals. If you are going to be turning or if the road breaks, be sure to hold out your hand or point, so that people behind and in front of you know that you will be breaking from the straight path that you were on.

Rules of the Road: Runners

1) Stay on the right. It's a personal bias of mine, but I tend to stay on the right of every road or path. The lake path is nice because it has a break off the road that is filled with a light gravel, specifically for runners and to optimize the space for cyclists. Really though, when I'm running that is my time and I quite enjoy my "space". I turn my music up loud and suddenly I'm lost in my own little world. Unfortunately I have to share my "world" with others around me, so for my own safety I hug the right side so people can pass me without the fear of wondering if I am going to take a sudden turn or move into their general direction.

2) Look before you leap. When I veer off the path for water or bust a move in another direction I always look behind me before I do it. I've had some pretty close calls before, where I didn't look behind me and some biker was coming up behind me and we almost collided. I've learned that whenever I am going to move, whether that is to pass someone or cut across the path 1) Always looks ahead and behind me 2) hold out my hand and point so that everyone around me can see that I will be moving.

Sending out an SOS

As it is getting warmer outside and training hits the trails it's important that you put precautionary measures in place in case you end up in a compromising position.

1) If you know you are going to be out for a long ride/run always have food/water/electrolytes on you. Having a bonking episode while you're 30 miles from home can be dangerous. Bonking is likely to occur as you are learning what types of fuels your body needs and what it can't handle. This will help you out come race day, but never go out unprepared.

2) Carry money, a debit card, and/or a bus card on you. One of my first rides out I was about 9 miles from home when I got a flat tire, but I didn't have anything on me to fix the flat, nor did I have my bus card. You can imagine how great of an experience that was. But I learned from it. Fleet Feet actually makes these bracelets now that lets you connect your debit card to it in case you need money when you are out on the run ( I don't have one of these yet but I do have a Road ID, with my medical and contact information on it in case I were to be unconscious. It's relatively inexpensive but one of the best investments I made for myself. (

3) Designate your "Person". 99% of the time I train alone. I am not big on group training but there is always that thought in the back of my mind that I want someone to know where I am. I usually text someone before I go out and they become my "person". This becomes difficult though when living far away from your person. But never fear! There are a bunch of apps I came across that allow you to put in your training plan and if you don't return by the time you put in, it will send a text/email to your person. There are also other apps for safety purposes, if you were to ever be out and feel like your safety were in jeopardy. They make loud noises to alert others around you. And I found all of this in this article ( DEFINITELY worth a read!

It may be all-too cliche, but it goes without saying:

Safety First Friends :)