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TRI training, week 4 – done

TRI training, week 4 – done

This is one my favorite motivational quotes. I saw it on Pinterest but it’s originally from Gibson’s Daily Running Quotes. I know it’s only week four and I have a long way to go but I’m still moving. Not fast. I’ve struggled and I haven’t seen much progress from a weight loss stand point but I’m not giving up. Here’s what the week looked like:

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When I got off work on Tuesday morning I went home and slept on and off for the next five hours. I was tired – 72 hours of work in five days. I looked forward to the next two days off. Around 6pm I went for a walk/jog around the neighborhood. One thing I love about my quaint little neighborhood is that people are active. I must have passed 10 different sets of dogs and owners and an additional 15 runners. We smile and manage a wave between huffs. My win for this workout is that I added in 3 hills. I ran up each of them. Don’t get me wrong. A headwind would have stopped me in my tracks but I didn’t quit! I felt accomplished. The race I’m training for is in an area that lies “between the ridge-and-valley portion of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau”. Thank you, Wikipedia. In other words – hilly. My neighborhood is relatively flat but it connects to one with some serious hills, at least from my novice running perspective. Since I’ll be running ~3 days per week I’m going to start running the first one easy, add in some short sprints or hills to the second run, and then the third one will be the “long run”. Maybe one day I’ll be able to run the whole workout. For now I’m happy to see my split times getting faster. I know it makes sense because I’m jogging slightly longer intervals than when I started but it’s progress! I would be ecstatic to keep a 10-minute mile pace for 6.2 miles at the end of the triathlon! I almost wimped out on the final interval. I looked down at my MapMyRun app and it said I had 15 more seconds to go. Oh yeah, I can do this. I kept jogging and completed my interval then threw in an additional minute for good measure. I’m recognizing that the mental component of training is a pretty huge factor. I read an article in Runner’s World today about overcoming mental roadblocks: Negative thinking, rigid goals, doubt and unfair comparisons to others. They do exist! Read their suggestions to hurdle the roadblocks here. If you’re a fellow running newbie also check out their series of articles called The Starting Line. In addition to tackling the hills I paid attention to my footstrike, aiming for a midfoot strike instead of with my heel. It feels like I land on my midfoot and roll to push off my toes. Maybe one of my local running stores will offer a free gait evaluation sometime soon. A girl can hope.

Wednesday morning I slept through swim practice. Oops! I didn’t fall asleep until 2am the night before. When I woke up at 9, I ate a quick breakfast and headed to the Y for a bike and swim. I did 6 miles on the stationary bike because it looked a little stormy and I’m not comfortable enough yet on my road bike to ride in the rain. I’ve ridden on wet roads before and was nervous the whole time. But what’s the worst that could happen? A fall. Been there at least 5 times before. I’m pretty much a professional “faller”. Last time I was able to incorporate a roll and only came away with some road rash and a few bruises. Anywho, I set the bike to an intervals program and kept my rpms 95-105. The weather held off (no thunder) so I was able to swim. No swim team interference this early in the day. Woot woot! I repeated the swim workout from last week and stuck to my intervals. Again, I had to remind myself to kick.

I ended up sleeping and resting though most of Friday after I got home from work. I’ve had some rough shifts in the past week. I incredibly thankful to have a job so please do not take that as a complaint. I’ve just had some really sick kiddos lately and it’s wearing on me a little. Three days off could not have come at a better time.

Saturday morning I woke up dizzy. I could not put one foot in front of the other. I ran into a doorframe within two steps and had to brace myself with the wall. I drank some water and went back to sleep. More hydration issues? Stuffy ears from swimming? I only managed two meals the day before because I slept so much so maybe my blood sugar was low? Low BP when I sat up? No clue but it went away after another sleep cycle. (Mom, if you’re reading this I promise to go see my doc if it becomes a pattern). I got dressed, hydrated and grabbed a quick snack then headed to the pool. I told myself that if I didn’t feel well enough to swim then it would be worth watching others with good technique or that I would do a light workout. I felt better by the time I got to practice so I jumped in. And surprise – warm up lasts 20 minutes on Saturdays! Um, until last week that was the duration of my entire swim workout! I took breaks between my 100’s in warm up. No way would I be able to make it through the rest of the workout if I put all my effort into warm up. The workout was jumbled. Between the 18 of us across 9 lanes and the music the lifeguards had playing I could hardly hear the workout. They turned it down but it’s an indoor pool so the acoustics don’t lend well to hearing someone talk from the water. The guy in the next lane told us what he heard so we went with that. He’s a faster swimmer than I am so I ended up swimming the same distances (most of the time) then taking 5 seconds rest before starting the next thing. I have no idea what the intervals were. I was exhausted by the end but I put in the work and accomplished something. I focused on rotating and pulling through the water with my forearms in addition to my hands. My goggles kept fogging up and I couldn’t see the clock very well so I just swam. And swam, and swam, and kicked. I learned that I didn’t need as much rest as I thought. That night a friend joined me for the jog/walk. She’s a runner and has long legs, lucky, so I’m pretty sure I slowed her down but she didn’t let me feel bad about it if I did. Thanks, friend! I used the “talk test” throughout our workout and listened to my body. My stomach got a little queasy when my HR hit 199 during the run. I slowed down that interval, including the next walk, to allow my HR to recover at 167. After that my stomach and lungs felt better. Around mile four I got a second wind but played it safe and ended my workout close to on-time. It was a good day! I enjoy training by myself at times but today I needed swim club and Claire to keep me going. So thank you, training buddies!

Sink or swim, I’m diving in

Sink or swim, I’m diving in

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Today was a huge milestone – I completed my first Masters swim practice and didn’t drown! I do not consider myself a “swimmer” but I am thankful for the base I received from a few short summers of swim team. Freestyle and breaststroke were my favorites. I wasn’t particularly good at either of them but they were much better than my Back or Fly.

I looked at three swimming programs/locations in my area before settling on one. One group had three workouts to choose from (all 5:15 – 6:15am), another group had four workouts a week to choose from (two morning, two evening), and the third group had twelve workouts to choose from. After getting some much appreciated insight and advice from a friend’s husband who is an excellent swimmer and whose relay team recently won at the Music City Triathlon here in Nashville, I emailed each of the coaches to find out more about their programs. I wanted to find the right fit for a slow swimmer/triathlon newbie who would like to get in shape, lose weight, improve her skills and speed, and have fun in the process. The three programs were similar but each coach had a very different writing style. It just so happened that I chose the program with the most welcoming response – the third group. There’s a morning practice that starts at 6:45am – way better than 5:15am. I admire all of you who are naturally early risers. I was not definitely not blessed with that trait. Since I have to be at work around 6:30am, driving there on my mornings off at the same time might help my erratic sleep schedule to be more consistent. Of course I’m not able to swim on days I work but I can swim the following evening, after a nap. The coach replied to my email promptly saying that their program was a great fit. She has coached several triathletes before, a few of which won the Music City Triathlon and went on to do well in Ironman races and at nationals. While this was encouraging I shared with her that my goal was just to complete it! She was out of town this week but tailored a workout for me based on my “fast” 200 taking a little over 4 minutes. Great, right?

I arrived at the Rec Center just in time to join. I got directions to the pool and arrived at 6:45 on the dot. I met another coach who was told to look out for me. I grabbed a pull buoy and kick board from the shelf (they even have fins for everyone!), set my water bottle under the block then jumped in. I warmed up on my own until 7, then practice officially started. I got to swim in the next lane over from the coach so I could ask questions if needed and so that she could evaluate my stroke and kick. She swam the workout with us! The pool has the capability of up to 15 lap lanes. We swam in the ones in the deep end, which meant treading water between sets. The coach assigned each of us different distances in each set for the same intervals. And I had a slow friend! I don’t remember the workout exactly but I think this is pretty close to what I did:

            Warm Up 100m x2

            Pull 125m x6 on 3:20

            Swim 75m + stroke 25m x5 on 2:30

            Swim 50m x6 on 1:20

            Kick 50m x7 with 5-7 seconds rest

            Cool down 50m

That’s 2,150 meters, or 1.34 miles, in an hour and 10 minutes. I know that isn’t much compared to what everyone else was doing but that’s the furthest I’ve swum in one workout since 2001. It felt great. I paced myself but by the end I ready to be done. The toughest part – reading the pacing clock. For one, my goggles kept fogging up. And secondly, I’ve never used a pace clock before. I usually look at my watch. The interval time is from the start of each set. For example, if it takes me 3:00 to pull 75m then I have 20 seconds rest before starting the next one. The guy in the lane next to me started counting down “10… 5… Go” for everyone. Thank you, Mr. Fast Swimmer college student! The girl I shared a lane with didn’t like to wear goggles so she kicked the entire workout. I wish my legs were that awesome! She put on fins half way through. It was a tad discouraging that her kick with fins was faster than my regular freestyle. No, I’m not competitive at all. Oh well. I joined this group to improve, not to compare. It’s going to be a slow journey but we all have to start somewhere, right? All in all it was a great workout. I’m looking forward to going back!

So I took a leap and tried something new. How about you? What new challenges have you taken on lately?

TRI training, week 2 – done

TRI training, week 2 – done

This week was fun. It didn’t go as planned but I managed to work everything in. It was a week of lessons. All good ones – I just wish I had already known them.

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On Monday night my boyfriend and I went on the walk/jog together. We decided not to take music so that I could work on my jogging pace. You’ve heard of the “talk test” right? Our friends at Runners World explain it well in their article Speak Easy. Remember that crazy HR of 207 when I started the run of the TRI-it-on? That’s the highest its been in a while but sudden high heart rate regardless of exercise is something I’ve dealt with on and off since high school when I was diagnosed with Dysautonomia. Basically my autonomic nervous system, the part of the body that control things like my cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, metabolic system, and endocrine system, is sometimes dysfunctional. So no matter how “fit” I am, my HR is often above my aerobic zone during exercise. I’ve worn a HR monitor for the past seven years when exercising. I remember during my sprint TRI in 2007 I hadn’t yet figured out how to turn off the beeping noise it makes when you’re out of zone so during the run it was going off like crazy. An older gentleman ran passed me and shouted, “You’re not going to blow up, are you?” Haha. Nope. Come on, heart rate. I came home from the race, pulled out the instructions and had it changed before the afternoon. Usually I don’t need to see the number or hear the alarm. I can feel it when my HR stays >198 for more than three minutes. I feel winded. Sometimes it’s just my Dysautonomia kicking in, most times I’ve pushed too hard. But this journey is about being healthier so I’m going to start listening to my body. That’s why I’m slowing down and using the “talk test”. Of course it means I won’t be going as far in the allotted time. There will be times to push and times to slow down but I will keep moving, knowing this will be better for me in the long run (no pun intended but it totally works). So back to the walk/jog intervals – I felt great. We actually jogged longer on the last interval because we were feeling so good. I almost ate the sidewalk during the first interval. I got excited telling a story and totally ran my left foot off the concrete, down to the ground 5” below. The grass was tall so I didn’t expect to feel that lopsided. It threw off my balance but I recovered in 3-4 steps, arms flailing. A little ankle roll but not a bad one. I couldn’t help but laugh, which was good because my boyfriend was laughing too. I couldn’t see the expression on the lady’s face walking her three dogs toward us because it was dark. Maybe I should pay better attention to where I’m going but I’m from the South and Southerners have an innate desire to look at a person when they’re talking or listening to them. Oooo, or maybe I should get a headlamp. Do people wear headlamps while running at night?

Tuesday I was going to make up for the swim I missed on Monday and bike. One of my friends and her husband just welcomed their first child into the world, a precious little girl, so I was going to make them dinner that night. I looked through my recipes and found my grandma’s blueberry muffin recipe. Not clean but they are delicious. I read through the ingredients, searched my “baking center”, made a list of what I needed (including the other meal items) and then headed to the grocery and a small country store a few miles down the road. Well two trips to the grocery and two trips to the feed mill later I finally had everything I needed. Note – just because the extract bottle is brown doesn’t mean it’s vanilla. Ug. And I left my debit card and cash in my workbag. Of course a small town feed mill wouldn’t take anything else. Winner in the planning department right here. The extra trips ate a good hour of my day. There went my dedicated swim time. I visited my friend in my workout clothes. The new mom looked more presentable than I did, awesome, then headed to the YMCA (Y) to get in a bike ride. Five miles into my workout I was fading. Oops, should have eaten a real meal by now. It was 7pm. I had an energy bar and a muffin earlier in the day but hadn’t focused on hydration or protein. I churned out the last few miles at 45-60% instead of 90%. Lesson learned.

Wednesday’s lesson – Check the swim team schedule. It was another walk/jog interval and swim day. I was going to do two swim workouts in one. I packed my swim bag and headed off to the Y. I hate treadmills, I really do, but curvy girls need more than a swimsuit to run in so I chose to run then change into my suit. The interval workout went as well as it could for being indoors. I walked at 3.7 mph and jogged at 5.2 mph. That seems so much slower than what I do outdoors. This may be a silly question but does running on a treadmill help you learn to pace? Anywho, I went to the locker room and shimmied my suit on. Okay girls, you know what I mean. Guys have it so easy getting into a swimsuit when they’re sweaty. It’s a workout in itself getting the suit on. I grabbed my towel, goggles and pink cap and headed to the pool. I made it to the glass doors and saw some serious speed work going on in every lane except for the one with little kiddos learning to float on their backs. Dang it. Swim team. I looked at the schedule posted on the door and sure enough a local high school’s swim team had the pool occupied for another two hours. With the outdoor pool (50 meter) closing after Labor Day I hadn’t even thought about checking the indoor pool (25 meter) schedule. I gathered up my stuff and headed home. I called my boyfriend on the way and told him I’d have to swim later that night, after community group. I couldn’t miss two workouts. It was supposed to be catch-up day. Being the genius that he is he suggested trying to swim at a different Y. Like I said, genius. He meant I should check another Y’s schedule later in the week but I had about an hour to spare so I drove to another one. I’m fortunate enough to live almost equidistant from two. Four beautiful lanes without a soul in them, a lifeguard, a slide, and the swim lesson peeps. I jumped in and away I went. Earlier in the day I researched Master’s swimming programs in the area and read up on what a good pull looks like and should feel like in freestyle. As I swam I tried to practice what I’d learned, or re-learned. I grew up as a summer swim team-er but its been 13 years since I’ve had any instruction. I did each of my 200y sets in 4 minutes. Much faster than any of my 200s this past summer and I wasn’t even trying to go “fast”. I was focusing on technique – rotating in the water and pulling through the stroke. Yay for better efficiency! Of course having a 25 yard pool instead of a 50 meter pool means more pushing off the wall and a shorter distance due to the whole yards v. meters thing. I wish we used the metric system here in the States. I use it everyday at work. My premature neonatal patients are weighed in grams, not pounds and ounces. The medications I order are based on kilograms and milliliters, incredibly more accurate. But I digress; back to swimming. Two trips to the Y later I had gotten in my double swim. I felt more efficient in the water, which is essential for triathletes who have two more sports to do after they get out of the water.

I looked forward to Thursday, Zumba and a bike. I have an awesome Zumba teacher. She is petite and jam packed with energy. The first time I went to one of her classes I had to sit out a song in the middle. Her classes are a mixture of hip-hop, kickboxing and Insanity with a teeny bit of Latin thrown in. We shake it. There are women of all ages and ability levels and a few 20-something year old guys who put all of us to shame. There’s a modifier for most of the killer moves, which came in handy when I battled shin splints this past spring. There are songs almost entirely made up of squats, lunges, kicks and that motion where you jump up in the air, pull your knees up above your waist and slap your quads. According to my HRM I burn anywhere from 650 – 800 calories in an hour of her class. Told you it was intense. But I love it. I’ve missed a few weeks lately so this workout was tough. I limited the jumping in an effort to save my shins, which meant I ended up doing a lot of squats. Why don’t I look like Beyonce yet? The bike was a quick four miles, hills. I tried to keep my rpms at 100-105. Whew, my legs were tired.

Friday was another walk/jog and swim. Remember the second Y I went to? It’s connected to one of my favorite parks in Nashville. I did the intervals in the park then went in the Y for the swim. The park was beautiful. ImageThere were moments no one else was in site. One thing I’ve enjoyed about beginning to run is the friendliness shared among runners. When you pass one going the other direction there’s usually a smile or a brief wave. Today there was a guy who was booking it. We passed each other twice. He was incredibly fit and focused but each time he gave me the motorcycle small hand splay/finger point. Look the next time two motorcycles pass each other. The drivers drop their arms then give “the signal”. My boyfriend loves to ride and dreams of owning one at some point so I’ve learned a little, probably just enough to embarrass him. I finished the intervals, stretched, then sat in the car briefly with the AC on and sipped some water. Then the thoughts set in. Did I really have to swim today? It was nearing 5 pm; the traffic would be horrible on the way home. Maybe I could skip…. Nope. I had the radio on to one of our local Christian stations and the song “He is With Us” by Love and the Outcome was playing.

We can’t pretend to see the ending or what’s coming up ahead
To know the story of tomorrow
But we can stay close to the One who knows
We can trust our God
He knows what He’s doing
Though it might hurt now
We won’t be ruined
It might seem there’s an ocean in between
But He’s holding on to you and me
And He’s never gonna leave, no
He is with us.

Knowing that the Lord is with me in the larger things gave me the confidence to just “go” and swim. If He’s not giving up on me then I shouldn’t give up or give into myself. It’s just exercise but the Lord is already using it to teach me some spiritual lessons. And the swim felt great. The hardest part is getting to and in the water. I imagine swimming for me is like running for all you long distance track stars. When I “run” I have yet to make it past the point of “Oh my gosh. Is it over yet?” but in the water I have peace. I can think about things other than swimming, when I’m not focusing on technique, and just go. Not fast. Not fast at all. But I sometimes forget its exercise. Until I slap my hand on the metal stair railing like I did today. Ouch. Back to reality. I swam a little further today because it felt good. And my first Master’s swim club practice is next week! Yikes!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Grace and peace,

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