1/30/09

It takes time

I love to swim! At a very early age, my parents knew I belonged in the water. I started swimming competitively when I was 12 and have loved the water ever since. I did have 1 year in college (junior year) when I was burnt out from swimming but after running cross country in place of swimming for the first part of my senior year, I realized how much I loved swimming. I did end up swimming my senior year and very glad I stuck with it in college.
Over the past two years I have been swimming with "master teams" in order to keep myself in the water for more than 2000 yards and to have some company at 6 in the morning. I also find myself pushing harder when I have a coach on deck and other swimmers in the pool.
Over the past few months, there have been more and more people in the pool. I love meeting new triathletes but overtime, my confidence in the pool has dwindled a bit. I have always loved "triathlon" swim practices because I feel fast. As a triathlete, I think we all have one discipline that we tend to gravitate towards and either look forward to during training or in a race. I would say swimming and running are close together but then there is cycling, which is more of something I have to do than want to do. I do LOVE riding my bike but it is the "training" part that gets to me. I wish I could just ride 100 miles without the hard 1-2 hour training sessions which allow me to ride 100 miles. But since I am long distance triathlete, I would be lying if I said I don't enjoy training.
So, here I am in the pool this week. Wednesday we did a really hard set and my friend Libby and I swam in the same lane. We swam with my other friend Reid, who is the Michael Phelps of the Brooks YMCA (he is CRAZY fast!). Because Reid was on his own cycle, Libby and I tried to stay on our own cycle but we found ourselves going on a cycle where we didn't get in the way of Reid. All together it was a crazy fast set and lots of yardage. I was a little bummed that I couldn't go any faster but I stuck it out.
Here's the set:
8 x 200's
Odd: Free on 2:45
Even: IM on 3:10
Total for the workout was 3900 yards.
After the swim I hit the treadmill for my horrible wed. hill run. It was a little less horrible than last week but just as tough. I can say I improved my toughness by a few points but still need to work on the toughness factor. The set was 5 x 5 minutes w/ 5 minute recoveries but rather than increasing the incline for each 5-minute set, you increase the incline at each minute of the 5-minute set.
5 x 5 minutes (2%,3%,4%,5%,6%)
5 min recovery at 1%
I did the whole set at 7 mph which was a bit faster than last week. My HR went up 5 beats every incline and it was really neat to see how controlled my HR was for every minute. I just love my HR monitor!! did I mention that already???
Thursday I was on the trainer for my hill workout on my bike and I really enjoyed the workout.
Ok, so now it is Fri and I am back in the pool. It was 6am and the pool was packed! Where did all these people come from??? I met a few more people and instead of 2 of us sharing a lane, there are now 5 of us in a lane! Craziness.
The warm-up was a little bit of a mess cause some people already started swimming and then a few of us were still on deck..chatting away. After the 400 warm-up, we did 4 x 150's kick. Well, I was passed many times with people with fins (I have no toys for the pool.....not even paddles :( ) and it was more like a splash fest in the ocean for me.
After the kick set we went to the middle of the pool to work on turns for 8 x 50's (if you start in the middle of the pool you get two walls for turns instead of one turn). The whole time during the set I was thinking about the main set. Since the workout is on the board before we get in, I have plenty of time to prepare myself.
The set this morning was one of my favorite sets. I always need to work on my 100 pace and the following set is just perfect to build endurance and speed.
5 x 100's
4 x 100's
3 x 100's
2 x 100's
1 x 100's
The set is a drop set so you start the 5 x 100's on a certain cycle and then drop 5 sec.
My goal is to be able to swim a comfortable 100 in the pool in 1:20 but right now I am around 1:30. Dropping 10 seconds is not going to be easy but I want to work hard to get there. I was totally frustrated this morning when our coach told us that one lane would start on 1:35 (going down to 1:15 for the last 100) and the other lane was starting on 1:40 (my lane). There are other lanes in the pool but this was just for our two lanes, which normally swim together.
When I noticed everyone moving to the 1:35 lane I was so bothered. Not at them, but at myself. Errr..I want to be over there with the fast people! All of a sudden I felt slow. How silly of me to think that 5 x 100's on 1:40 is slow but I knew I would never make it through the set in the other lane. I ended up having a great set and making all the cycles. My stroke felt really smooth and I didn't have to swim sloppy in order to touch-and-go on a faster cycle. I knew what my body could handle I am glad I stayed in my lane.
Total this morning for the swim was 3900, followed by an 8 mile run on the treadmill (that goodness I have a recovery week next week!!)
Sometimes I think too much. Sometimes it gets me in trouble and sometimes I am happy I have an education in exercise physiology.
When we started swimming, it wasn't until the 8th or 9th 100 that I noticed that a few people were missing the cycle in the fast lane. I give them credit for trying out the set but I was so happy I stuck with a cycle that was challenging (near the end) but something I could handle. Although I was super bummed out at the beginning of the set I couldn't help but think that it is January and it takes a long time to train the body.
I can't say it enough but there is a beauty in training the body. You can't expect to read a book and have it memorized the next day. More so, remembering the information 3 months from now.
I believe in periodization and building your training sessions. This can only be done successfully, however, if you are consistent with your training.
For many people, a great day means more mileage and more intensity but then there is the next day's workout which tends to be less than average because the body wasn't ready for the massive "I feel good" workout. It is important to teach the body how to handle lactate at a certain HR so that overtime (or every 3-4 weeks) you can find yourself going faster (or longer) at a lower HR. Then there is a recovery day during each week in order to rest and recharge the body. Then after 3-4 weeks, you get a nice recovery week to relax the body and get ready for a few more weeks of build-training.
Sometimes I am really hard on myself because I have goals. But I also know that the body doesn't get stronger, faster or leaner overnight. It is a daily effort to reach your training goals but if you understand that it takes time, you will reach those realistic goals.
As for me, I will keep swimming...and biking and running because it is what I love to do. Perhaps it is the Ironman in me that knows that I am in control of what I need to do to reach the finish line and at the end of every day, I have to be accountable of what I am doing to get there.

1/28/09

Honeymoon



Karel and I were so happy to have our family with us for a few days after the wedding that we decided not to go on a honeymoon. However, the honeymoon was planned for 3 months down the road and well, it is time!
That's right...I am leaving my shorts and flip-flops for long pants (hope I have some of those somewhere), warm jackets, scarves, hats and gloves. We are heading out west!
Karel and I leave on Wed (1 week from today!) to head to Lake Tahoe for a magical and relaxing vaction. We will be there a full 6 days before flying home on Tues. Magical because I have not seen snow since I moved from Kentucky in 2004 and Karel hasn't seen snow in a long time. We are super greatful to my grandparents for giving us a plane ticket for our wedding gift. We wanted so bad to visit them but we knew two flight tickets would be a stretch for our budget. However, it all worked out and we couldn't be more excited! I promise my blog will be loaded with pics and I'm sure I will have lots of stories.
In order to build up our red blood cell count, we are going to take advantage of some altitude training and cross country ski as much as possible. We have a lesson lined up for Thurs and then we plan to spend many hours out on the slopes for our first experience cross country skiing. I plan on snowboarding at least once when we are out there and I think Karel will have his try at skiing or snowboarding. I am sure he will do great since he hasn't been on ski's since he was a little boy in Europe and I am sure he will love the speed!
Karel and I both have a recovery week next week with our training so we want to make sure that we also enjoy our vacation and come back relaxed. Although Karel and I don't go out on many dates (gotta watch our money), we always make time to rent a movie one night a week. We really enjoy spending time together and it doesn't really matter what we do when we are together. I think this vacation is going to be great for us and just like any trip, it is always great for us to spend all day together doing fun things and staying active.
Here are two daily photos at the NorthStar ski resort where we will be doing most of our activities....

1/27/09

Get stronger!

This morning I had my Tuesday morning bike interval workout. 5 x 3 minutes w/ 1 minute recovery. Just like last week and the week before, but this time I had to do it 2 times through with 15 min. recovery in between the intervals.
I have specific power zones, heart rate zones and cadence zones to stay within and riding outside, rather than on the trainer, didn't make it any easier. After my 26 mile ride (which went by SUPER fast) I had a 3-mile run. I like these runs a lot because Shawn has me do the runs "embarrassingly" slow. Now that I have my heart rate monitor I can really run "slow". Although the HR monitor is great for hard training, a recovery run can become intense if the HR gets up too high, even when you think you are running slow.
I decided to take Campy with me for me run. Since Karel was out on his bike, I just hate coming home and then leaving again. Those puppy dog eyes really get to me. I put Campy's harness on and we headed out for our run. A pee stop every few minutes but Campy did awesome! I was so proud of him. He smiles the whole time and he is a great runner. We ran for 25 minutes and hardly walked. The first 5 minutes were tough because Campy is a sub-6 minute miler and I am....well, not even close to that! After about 10 minutes Campy slows down and that finally brings my HR down.
After the run it was time to recover...for both Campy and me.
I always talk about the post work protein snack or smoothie (depending on the length or intensity of the workout). I made a great whey protein smoothie for Karel and I to share (he came home about 15 minutes after my brick workout was finished) but then there was Campy.
I give Campy regular dog food (Science Diet for Active dogs) but he has no idea what the word "treat" is for dogs. "Treats" for him are carrots, apples, cheese and lean meat. I believe that pets resemble their owners. Or, in other words, an active dog needs the right fuels to recover and to get stronger.
After our long walks (3 miles) and runs (1-2.5 miles) I give Campy his recover snack. I give him a scoop of cottage cheese or a few scoops of yogurt. Call me crazy, but I would hate for Campy to not fully recover after our runs. I am not exercise physiologist for dogs but I assume the same principal applies for dogs as it does for humans. The only question I have now is if humans are taking care of themselves and recovering properly?
Make sure you give yourself a small protein snack after your 90 min or less workouts (ex. low fat yogurt, cheese, lean meat, egg whites, cottage cheese, skim/soy milk, whey protein and water or a handful of nuts). If the workout is around 60-90 minutes and is intense, stick with a liquid protein such as yogurt, skim milk or whey protein w/ water. For workouts longer than 90 minutes, give yourself more than 100 calories w/ whey protein and milk or a whey protein smoothie. It is important that your post workout protein snack has a biological value of at least 90% (whey protein has 100%!) so that you receive all essential amino acids that need to be consumed in the diet.
In an effort to get stronger and fully recover, daily nutrition and proper recovery nutrition are just two of the many components of becoming a better athlete. Be sure you are getting enough sleep to wake up rested, most days of the week. Because we all have schedules that don't give us enough hours in the day, be sure to give yourself one day to wake up without an alarm and/or rest from intense exercise. The body needs time to rest and with all the effort you put into training, it is so important to get a good night sleep (that means sleeping fully through the night to get through several REM cycles) in order to let the body repair damaged tissues and fully recover.
Campy will now show you how to enjoy your post-run cottage cheese and take a well needed nap.....



1/26/09

Relaxing Monday

Today is a recovery day. Sometimes it is a day off, sometimes it is active recovery. However, it is never running. The best part about a recovery day is no alarm, no time management and no specific workouts. Two of the last 3 monday's I have been in the pool. Only once did I ride my bike on a monday. I just love a nice and relaxing swim. This morning I woke up around 6:30...nice! That is generally the time that my body gets me up so I know I am rested when I can just wake up without an alarm. Anytime I roll myself out of bed before 6am, I know my body can use a little more sleep. Even though I go to bed around 9:30-10pm, I know my body can't get stronger without a restful night of sleep.
When I got to the pool at 7 I was in no hurry to start swimming. I chatted with another girl who I swim with on w,f with the master team and I probably spent 10 min on the side of the pool (holding my cap and goggles) just chatting away about ironman's and other tri-related stuff. Ok, a confession is that I always chat before I swim so I really never feel rushed to get in the water. Swimming is part social for me..I just love being in the water but I also love talking in the water.
When I finally started swimming it seemed as though time stopped. I didn't have a care in the world what I was doing and after a 300 warm-up I created my own set.
3x's
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull

That's all I did this morning and it was just what I needed for my tired body. I felt so relaxed after that swim and totally refreshed. I can't say that I always feel good after a morning swim but on a recovery day I always listen to my body. I know when I need a day off (there will be plenty of well-awaited day-off mondays after a weekend of peak IM training) and I know when my body needs a little increase in blood flow. What a good morning to start the day.
The rest of the day went by fast. I did my weekly grocery shopping at wal-mart, visited Karel at work, did my dietetic homework, walked Campy up to the Trek store (2.2 miles total...I guess I should say, Campy walked me!) and then back to the computer for more dietetic work. Now dinner is approaching and I'm thinking a nice fruity and nutty salad before I eat the yummy muffins I made this afternoon (Karel was craving muffins).

Oh, I also took some more pics of Campy today. He was just too cute!
And we can't forget about Smudla!





1/25/09

I'm back!

Ok, so I didn't go anywhere. Still here in Jacksonville. Do you ever feel like life is like a bunch of puzzle pieces and although a few fit together, you just can't seem to put all the peices together?
Karel and I have good days and bad days. Sometimes it is a good day of budgeting our money and other days it is quite stressful. Then there are days when nothing seems to go right at work and then other days when the days go by fast and without a missed beat. We like to say that when we have few good days in a row, we know something is bound to happen. That is just how life works.
Lately, I have been struggling with my training. This past week was the first week since January 1st that I felt like everything came together. My problem has nothing to do with getting out there and being active (I have no problem with that!) but I have had such a big mental block of getting comfortable with my training. Every workout seems SO long after 2 hours. Now granted, a 2+ hour workout is a long time to train so I understand that I am normal in struggling with those workouts. However, I just get so bored and my mind wanders all over the place.
It was like something just clicked this week and I was successful in all 7 days of my workouts this week (with Mon being an active recovery swim day). This weekend was long and I was so happy that I had 2 great workouts to end the week. I know these workouts are "short" compared to what I will be doing in a few months, but for base training, I am really learning to enjoy the long training sessions as an opportunity to work on my mental state.
Sat was great. Finally I was able to ride without lots of layers and the morning started out at 47 degrees. I met up with the open road group and Karel joined me for the beginning of the ride. I made it about 15 miles until I got dropped at a turn but then took a short cut to catch back up again. Sadly, I got dropped again and decided it was time to do my own thing. It was nice to do the first hour at around 24mph and with a group but it was time for me to do my own thing. The ride went by really fast at 30 miles and I was suprised that I was really enjoying my ride. Of course, my new bike makes me feel fast :) I love having my power tap because it is such a different way to train. I have always liked longer workouts because the focus is more on endurance, rather than speed, and I like having a certain zone of power and HR to keep me consistent.
Before I knew it I was heading home and I finished my ride with 68 miles. 3 hours and 41 minutes later I was back home. Campy greated me at the door (like always) and karel had breakfast ready for me. YUM! The workout wasn't over yet, so I swaped chest straps for my Polar Watch (did I mention I LOVE having my HR monitor back!!) and headed out for the weekly Saturday 3 mile run brick. Finally, 11:55am and I was home for the day! And, it was time to enjoy my breakfast!
As for this morning, I was super tired. Karel got up at 5:30 and I stayed in bed with Campy. However, I didn't do much sleeping for the next hour because Smudla was doing her daily morning "meowing" for food (she gets 5 pieces of food when we feed Campy in the morning. Other than that, she only eats at night). Karel headed to Gainesville with Jeff early this morning for a group ride. From what Karel told me, this isn't any normal ride worth traveling 2 hours for. They are doing a 120 mile group ride which turns into a race near the end. No race fees or t-shirts but just a bunch of guys with lots of speed.
After my toast w/ PB and raisins, I put on my running clothes and headed outside to take Campy for a walk. At 7:30 I was out the door for my run.
I asked Shawn if I could do my 14 mile run again this weekend, since last weekend I was on the treadmill. This morning it was nice and cool outside and I felt good after the first 10 minutes of my run. There is something about those first 10 minutes that always gets to me. I've learned to run 11 minutes before thinking about turning back home. 1 hour and 50 minutes later I was back home and once again, there was Campy, in our 3rd story window, excited to see me.

I think we all have moments where it seems like life isn't coming together like we would wish. Most of all, things do get better and there is always another day. So if it is nutrition, work, training or any other part of your life, look at the little things that make you happy and be sure to focus on the good things..not just the pieces that don't seem to fit together in your puzzle.