In The Books

Hello, friends! Yes, yes, I know I skipped a week of writing. Over the last couple of weeks, I can tell you that I’ve *gradually* been getting back into the swing of things and that last week’s training was as close to perfect as I’ve gotten in quite some time. Even though I know the goal is not perfect, my coach actually challenged me to get through the week without missing a workout. I was totally on track to do that until the weekend, which I’ll tell you about below.

Anyway, what I mostly wanted to talk about this week is books. That’s probably not what you expected to read on my training recap. However, I’ve got a number of books on the go right now that are each adding something to my training and I’m contemplating adding another important one to the mix after my work trip, so I thought it might be worth me gathering my thoughts on them.

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Roar by Stacy Sims – If you are a female endurance athlete, you have almost certainly heard of and/or read this one. It’s quickly becoming a Bible-like reference for women who train for endurance sports. I have to confess that I read it quite a while back and could not see what all the hype was about. Admittedly, at the time, I wasn’t as engaged with my nutrition as I should/could have been. I’m at a point now where I am getting frustrated enough with my fatigue levels that I expect my nutrition has at least something to do with that. My biggest problem is, of course, sugar. I have a raging sweet tooth and although I have been trying hard not to eat my feelings over the last few months, that has proven more difficult than anticipated for a whole variety of reasons that are a bit too personal for me to talk about. At least right now. All of that to say, I ordered myself a copy of Roar and plan to pack it for some plane/train reading. Working with a professional on my nutrition is just not in my financial plan right now, so I have to do the best I possibly can on my own. Step one: read a book (again).

Believe training journal – You all know by now that I am sucker for a handwritten training log. While I don’t consider myself to be particularly artistic, I use stickers and coloured pens to make the process a little more fun. This doesn’t take the place of my online Training Peaks account that I use to communicate with my coach. I find that I’m much more reflective and intentional with my training when I’m physically writing about it too. One of my night-before rituals before a goal race is to look back over my handwritten training log and reflect on the training cycle, focusing in on the workouts that were particularly challenging as a testament to how far I’ve come and a reminder that I can make it through difficult things. I’ve tried out a number of training journals and the Believe journal will always be my favourite!

My personal journal – Prior to the end of last year, I don’t think I had kept a personal journal since a summer semester in Germany in 2006. There is no reason why I didn’t keep up that practice; I just didn’t. While I still don’t have what I would call a regular journaling practice, if I’m having an especially tough time, I try to take a few minutes (even 5 minutes helps) and write down what it is that I’m worrying about at the time. Even though it doesn’t solve my problems per se, it definitely gives the negativity and worry a lot less power and space to occupy my thoughts. As of right now, I don’t plan to put any pressure on myself to write in a more structured way, though I think I will continue to use it as I have over the last few months.

My e-reader – Okay, let’s just get this one out of the way. I’m a librarian who loves to read. No, my job is not to sit around and read books all day, although that would be nice. I also have developed a preference for my e-reader since I replaced it at Christmas and, no, that doesn’t make me a hypocrite to my profession. I digress. What does this have to do with my training, you ask? It’s like anything, really – having other things to focus on and enjoy outside of training is crucial to being able to give a lot of yourself to something so physically and mentally demanding. I use my commute (and sometimes my lunch breaks) to read and I try to make at least 5 minutes to read before I go to sleep at night, and I think it adds to my overall well-being enough to be worthy of a mention. I belong to a book club that meets once a month (we actually talk about the books!) and I read pretty widely, including lots of triathlon and running books.

The post-trip important book – Some time ago, I wrote about my struggles with nutrition and how I wanted to focus on improving my approach to it. I believe I also mentioned at the time how critical a food journal was to helping me lose a lot of weight a number of years ago. Since then, keeping a food journal has started to give me quite a bit of anxiety. I haven’t really worked through where all of that is coming from. I suspect it might be a combination of not being ready to fully commit to eating better and also a fear of failure knowing how things look on paper. I know I’m going to have to let go of that perfectionist attitude if I’m going to make improvements to my nutrition, so I’m hoping to be in a better headspace after my trip to make it a priority.

Monday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Tuesday

55 minute VO2 max ride (25.7km): I got up before work to get my ride in, and holy Hannah, it was a burner! It took an interval for me to realize how important it is to spin faster during my recovery and once I made that adjustment, I found that I recovered much better!

45 minute hilly run (6.81km): YAY! Some structured running! I ran home from work and ran uptown and west a bit from work. I finished at the bus stop and just took the bus home. It was a pretty challenging run and hella windy, so I definitely felt the work on that one. I loved it, though!

Wednesday

45 minutes strength (lower body): I’m not gonna lie – getting up early last week was less than pleasant. I did get up and do my lifting before work, though. It went pretty well and I was happy to check another workout off my list.

1 hour Flexibility Fusion: With lunch yoga finished until the fall, my coworkers and I have been on the hunt for a suitable summer replacement. I’m the only one with a full work gym membership right now, so I’ve been it in terms of scoping out classes. I went to a class called Flexibility Fusion at lunch and it was a nice, deep stretch. It was a combination of yoga and Pilates stretching, although there wasn’t much yoga involved.

2100m swim: Midnight swimming was another rough workout for me. I was just so damn tired and felt like I could hardly keep up. We had a whole bunch of 100s on the schedule and, with some coaching from Eric, I was trying to focus in on particular parts of my technique. After 13 or 14 sets of 100, I was pretty wiped and my form fell apart.

Thursday

50 minutes yoga: The search continued for a lunch yoga option. This class was quite different from the other one. It was *very* busy (maybe just that day, though?) and quite challenging. At least for me. I’m pretty much only interested in stretchy, light yoga. I just need something to supplement my training once or twice a week. I don’t need pulsy, intense yoga or single-leg squats from Warrior 3 (oh, yes. That happened. Why I even attempted it, I don’t know!). Even though the instructor was a delight, I likely won’t go back for that particular class.

40 minute Z2 run (5.91km): Lunch yoga usually perks me up and helps me avoid the afternoon slump. It didn’t quite work its magic last Thursday and I was less than enthused for my run home.

1:13 VO2 max interval ride (31km): Before I could settle down, I fired up Zwift and did a ride that was a bit longer than usual for me during the week. It ended up being just fine and I gave myself a little pat on the back for getting it done.

Friday

45 minutes strength (upper body): I spent most of the day in Mississauga on Friday getting my bike fit. Honestly, I had the *best* experience at Via Ciclante and will continue to go there for my bike fittings. I had the day off work and was back with a bit of time to spare before the evening gym rush hit, so I went downstairs and got it done before dinner. I was able to complete all of my pull-ups on the TRX machine that day, so it was nice to see that little bit of progress, no matter how small it seemed. 

Saturday

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1:06 Z2 long run (10.5km): Gah. Saturday, you were not my friend this week. Long story short, it turns out that I’m missing a crucial adapter to make my new bike compatible with my trainer. I spent a little bit of time on Saturday changing everything back to my old bike and starting my long brick before an afternoon appointment and evening plans. I was about half an hour into my ride when Zwift suddenly crashed. To say I was annoyed was an understatement. After stewing for a few minutes, I decided to just go out and get my Sunday long run done. While the run didn’t make me feel completely better, the weather was beautiful and I ran over 10km, so all was not lost. I resigned myself to the fact that I just had a shitty day with some bad luck and quite trying to force myself to see the upside of it when I was clearly in no mood to do so. Onwards.

Sunday

1:50 endurance & sweet spot ride

15 minute run off the bike

Sunday ended up being a bit hectic. My aunt was visiting from Newfoundland and I ended up spending the day with her after my dog’s morning vet appointment. Since she lives in Newfoundland and I almost never see her, I don’t regret spending that time with her. My cousin and her boyfriend then joined us for dinner (I hosted and cooked), followed by the Game of Thrones season premiere. I recognize that it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done a super long ride and we’re getting into build time for my spring race. My main goal for this week is to do my long brick before I get on a plane this Friday for my work trip. I’m getting back to that consistency a little bit at a time; it’s just taking a little longer than I hoped.

 

Swim: 2100/0:53

Bike: 56.7km/2:08

Run: 23.2km/2:31

Strength/Yoga: 3:18

Total Time: 8:50

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No Excuses

Well, well. Here we are again. Another week closer to my June goal race and another week of training behind me. It wasn’t my finest week of training, and I am making absolutely no excuses for it. I can’t quite say that my mojo was completely gone again, because it wasn’t. It was either I just didn’t want to, or I simply could *not* get enough sleep most nights. Essentially, if it required me getting up before 7:00 a.m. last week, it didn’t get done. The one exception was my Friday swim.

Here it is – I know what I have to do. I have strategies to get me over the hump when I’m not feeling motivated. Last week felt different, for some reason. It wasn’t a lack of motivation. I think I just needed a breather, which I found particularly frustrating, since I had gone through this just a few weeks back and thought I was moving ahead.

Last Thursday when I was feeling particularly disengaged, I took the advice my coach gave me previously and re-read my goal worksheets to put things in perspective. That worked for a hot second and I was able to get up and go swimming on Friday morning. Winning! Something just wasn’t clicking physically last week, and I was dragging my ass all. damn. week. I couldn’t get enough sleep (5 hours, 8 hours – it all felt the same), and I was toast by 3:00 p.m. most days.

I suspect something is amiss with my nutrition, so I’m keeping a close eye on things this week. I prepped lots of protein and snacks and veggies to get me through the week. I even bought some steak, as my iron drops occasionally and some red meat seems to be the only thing to help me bounce back. If it does turn out to be nutrition-related, it might be a while before I’m able to figure things out and write about it. I’ll keep you in the loop, for sure.

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After I missed my run yesterday morning, I made a decision not to beat myself up about it. The only thing I could do at that point was to try to figure out what went wrong over the week and try to do better this week. I was SO relieved to log into my Training Peaks and see that this week coming up is a recovery week, so I am using this week to reset, try my best to eat well, get those workouts in, and rest up for the next build.

I’ve got a work trip coming up in a few weeks. After this week, there are two Mondays left before I leave, so I’ll write about my upcoming races (I think I’m in a space to write about those now). Most importantly, I think I need to take some space here to write about my ‘why.’ It’s helpful for me to review my goal worksheets to keep motivated, so I think that articulating my reasons for triathlon and being able to refer to that too will be helpful as I head into some challenging training weeks ahead.

Before I look ahead to the more positive, though, I have to be accountable and show you my light(er) week from last week and be completely honest in saying that many of the skipped workouts below were either me not having the energy or just not wanting to. It wasn’t quite a lack of motivation, there was just a disconnect between mind and body, if that makes any sense.

Monday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Tuesday

40 minute Z2 run (6.12km): I couldn’t get myself out of bed in the morning, so my plan was to run home from work and then do my ride. The run home was a real slog, and I didn’t feel like riding.

55 minute ride 

Wednesday

45 minutes strength (lower body)

1 hour yoga: Today was the last day of lunch yoga! My coworkers and I were pretty bummed about it. We were expecting to have another week. Anyway, we all decided that we’d like to continue doing something like this over the summer, so we’re searching for an alternative over the summer. Stay tuned!

2300m swim: Midnight swimming was almost all sprints! Gah! I really struggled with the speed work and my form definitely fell apart the faster I swam.

Thursday

I didn’t get up again to ride. I truly was the worst last week. I even packed my things to run home from work. As the day wore on,  my energy dropped more and more. I didn’t end up running home from work, and I was pretty disappointed in myself for it.

1 hour VO2 max interval ride 

40 minute Z2 run 

Friday

2377m swim: I made up for Thursday by making sure I got up early to swim before work. I had a much better swim on Friday than Wednesday, probably because I didn’t have any sprints. Heh. I had a whole bunch of 200s (swim/pull + paddles), and I really focused on my technique. I love swimming before work and it made me feel so much better.

45 minutes strength (upper body) Not ‘better’ enough to do my lifting after work, though.

Saturday

1:50 endurance & sweet spot ride (51.6km): My first (and only) ride of the week was my long ride. I had a good long sleep on Friday night and was all ready for my ride. The ride did *not* feel good at all. I was nearly in tears and having such a hard time holding my sweet spot power. I am amazed that I actually made it through the ride. I had 3 sweet spot intervals (15 minutes each), and I nearly quit after the first one. I took it a bit at a time and made it through. I couldn’t recruit to get my ass out the door to run off the bike, though.

20 minute run off the bike 

Sunday

It snowed overnight on Saturday. Gross. I had brunch plans for 11:00 and I had to bring my commuter bike in for a tune-up later in the afternoon. I also had big plans for meal prep yesterday, so my only solution was to get up early and run before brunch. In keeping with the theme of last week, I slept in and it didn’t get done.

1:05 minute Z2 run 

 

Swim: 4677m/1:57

Bike: 51.6km/1:50

Run: 6.12km/0:40

Strength/Yoga: 1:00

Total Time: 5:27

I Can’t Feel My Face When I’m With You, But I (Don’t) Love It

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Hi there! Is it just me or did the last week fly by? Brace yourself: I have no exciting pictures or stories this week, which, if you think about it, isn’t the worst thing in the world. In addition to my weekly recap of training, I only have The Tale of the Half-Frozen Face.

After the race last week, I was expecting my body to be sluggish in the early part of last week. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I bounced back pretty quickly. Even though the race was short, I pushed myself and was feeling a little soreness in my legs on Monday. It largely subsided by Tuesday and I was able to get back to business. Well, mostly.

One thing that I left out of my race recap last week was that I raced with a half-numb face. Say what?! Back up a few weeks to when I wasn’t feeling my best, almost like I was on the cusp of getting a head cold. That stuck with me for a couple of weeks and, somewhere along the way, turned into my very first sinus infection, which seems to be putting pressure on a nerve in my face and making it numb.

My energy levels were unaffected, so I continued to work out and it was a good decision. I was, of course, concerned about how I would fare swimming. It turned out to be *mostly* okay, although I seemed to be taking in more water towards the end of the swim. I should also point out that this was only my second swim since Florida. For shame.

I went to the doctor (not my regular doctor), who told me to try over-the-counter meds in lieu of antibiotics. Spoiler alert: they didn’t work and I have to go back again tomorrow. I digress.

That’s truly the long and short of it. With the exception of one missed swim last Friday, I got all my workouts in and spent just over 9 hours training. Other than that, I’m just rolling along here and walking around with a half-frozen face.

Have a lovely week, friends!

Monday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Tuesday

55 minute ride (24.7km): I almost always feel some fatigue warming up during my first workout of the week. I was anticipating that, after the race, today would be no exception. I was pleasantly surprised when the cement-esque feeling in my legs did not make an appearance. I had a few short intervals and, overall, they felt pretty good!

40 minute Z2 run (6.07km): I had the afternoon off from work and I had a nap, so I thought for sure this run wouldn’t happen. I managed to get out the door for my last run of the winter. Hurrah! I was overdressed, which was a nice feeling, and I was able to run in the last bits of the sunny afternoon.

Wednesday

45 minutes strength (upper body): It’s been some time since I’ve gotten in a good strength workout. I got this in before work, and I had fewer reps on my schedule today, so that meant I was to try and increase my weights. I did it without incident, so I’m looking forward to continuing to build my strength.

1 hour yoga: Continuing the trend of being pleasantly surprised with my body’s resiliency, my body wasn’t nearly as tight as I was expecting. Yay! Lunch yoga days are getting numbered, which makes me sad, so I’ll need a plan to stay on top of that in the coming months. Without a doubt, it, paired with my relative consistency in strength training, has made a huge difference in my progress over the last few months.

2175m swim: I went to midnight swimming and was so happy to catch up with my swim friends! This was my first time back at group swimming since Florida, so there was a lot to catch up on. My swim felt better than I anticipated, and I was relieved to get in 2175m without irritating my sinuses too much.

Thursday

50 minute VO2 max interval ride (22km): And then the work caught up with me. My VO2 max intervals were touuuuuuuuuugh. I was struggling through them and after I finished the 6th one, I was seriously doubting my ability to get through all 8 of them. I started the 7th and was relieved to see Zwift telling me to dial back the power – I had misread my workout and, in fact, only had 6 intervals and not 8. Such relief.

30 minute Z2 run (4.54km): I ran home from work today, and was feeling pretty sluggish. Maybe it was the three workouts on Wednesday, or maybe it was just the week creeping up on me. Whatever it was, I was super sluggish on my run too and more than happy to stop at 30 minutes.

Friday

43 minutes strength (lower body): I slept through my morning alarm, which meant swimming before work didn’t happen. I carved out enough time to do my lifting over my lunch break and was happy that I was able to, because I crashed hard and ended up not going to swim after work either.

2600m swim: Working out on Fridays has been mentally tough lately, so I’m not surprised I wasn’t able to rally enough energy to get my swim done after work. I’ll try again this week.

Saturday

1:35 endurance & threshold interval ride (43.5km): This weekend was kind of bananas, so I made sure to prioritize my workouts before all the afternoon madness all weekend. Once again, I misread my workout and didn’t follow the cadence instructions for my last set of intervals, which was supposed to simulate some hill climbing with lower cadence. Can’t win ’em all.

20 minute run off the bike (3.15km): I certainly had to bargain with myself to put my winter running gear after sweating on the bike and get it done. The weather was decent and I didn’t feel terrible off the bike, so yay!

Sunday

55 minute Z2 run (8.5km): I felt a little guilty for not being more excited about this run. It was a nice day outside and I’ve been feeling good on the run lately overall, so I felt like I should have been a little more enthusiastic about running. I wasn’t, though, and it was a nice feeling to just get it done to round out a pretty decent week, training-wise.

 

Swim: 2175m/0:51

Bike: 90.2km/3:21

Run: 12.11km/2:26

Strength/Yoga: 2:29

Total Time: 9:07

Do Not Be Afraid – Achilles 5K Recap

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Happy last Monday of winter! Ohmygosh, I just got so excited just typing that. Anyway, as you can see from the photo above, I ran the Achilles 5K race yesterday. I signed up for this one a while back on a bit of a whim when I found out that some of my Tribe Fitness friends were putting together a team (The Tribe Alcohooligans. We lived up to the name.). When I signed up, I thought it would be a good test of my fitness heading into spring and, at the very least, I would have a little fun, since I was going through some pretty rough stuff at the time. It was something to look forward to over the winter.

Over the last couple of weeks, my running had taken a turn for the better and, after I wasn’t quite able to execute a good race at the Clermont Parkrun, I was feeling a bit more confident heading into this weekend’s race. My week of training before the race was pretty up and down, so I went in hoping for the best.

My dog is currently trying out a new boarding place for a few days, so that saved me a little time on race morning. I didn’t sleep well the night before, and I’m not really sure why. I got up at 7:30 with plans to leave at 8:30 to make a pit stop for cash and meet up with some of the crew at Tribe before the run. I had an English muffin with peanut butter and jam, water, coffee, and took a banana for the road, for those of you who are into those details. A few of us met at Tribe and made the short walk over to the race at 9:30. We took a group photo, checked our bags, and all split up for our respective warm-ups before the 10:15 start.

I was able to get in a short warm-up and a few drills before I hopped in the corral. This race has grown a bit since I last ran it in 2016 and they added a 10K option this year, so there were more people than I expected. I planted myself beside the 6:00/km pacer and thought that was a good place to start. I had my pump-up playlist ready to go. I didn’t turn it on at the start, though I had it ready to go in case I needed to give myself an extra boost later on.

My main goal for the race was to run a hard, consistent effort to hopefully gather enough data to get an accurate read on my HR zones. I turned off the auto-lap on my watch to get the necessary data, so I only have my overall pace and HR and not a breakdown by splits. Unlike past attempts, I decided to let myself see my pace during the race, thinking that it would be helpful in keeping myself in check. It worked! There were a few times early on when I saw 5:15-5:30, so I was able to dial back just a hair so that I could sustain myself for the full race.

I was feeling the work less than 1km in, which I passed at around 5:45. I did a quick check-in with my body and decided that was a good pace and effort to try and sustain. My mind was in a bit of a scramble and I was starting to panic a bit early on, worrying about whether or not I would be able to keep it going without stopping to walk.

I remembered Coach PK’s advice after the Clermont Parkrun: “The next time you are in a situation like that, back off a bit and slow down, just don’t walk.” So I told myself that if I needed to slow a little bit, it was okay. I’m happy to say that I didn’t really let up, though! I continued to check in with my pace and because we were surrounded by buildings in the middle of downtown, I was getting some pretty inaccurate readings at times, so I just trusted my timer and my mental math.

All signs pointed to me sustaining a 5:45 or a bit faster and by the time I got to the turnaround at the halfway point, I felt like I was toast and really wasn’t sure how I would get back at that pace. By then, I was hanging off the back of the 6:00/km pace group for the 10K and couldn’t help but think to myself that if these people thought they were running 10K in an hour, they were in for a bit of a rough time, since we were consistently between 5:30-5:45 by then.

I tried really hard not to think about how painful it was and reminded myself that there was nothing to be afraid of. Even though it hurt, the pain is temporary and I would be so proud of myself if I could dig deep and hurt for less than 15 more minutes. At the halfway point, I was just past 14 minutes on my timer. Given that I said I would have been happy with 30 minutes for the 5K, I was thrilled to see I was ahead of my goal and decided to use that as motivation.

In the last half of the race, I must have repeated “Do not be afraid” to myself a hundred times. Do not be afraid. You can do hard things. Do not be afraid. You can do hard things. Repeat, repeat, repeat. When I crested the top of the Spadina bridge on my way to the finish, I let myself go, knowing it was all downhill from there. I made it without walking, and it was all I could think about, that feeling of pride that I hadn’t given up, even though I had been hurting for the last 25+ minutes. That was enough to distract me in the last minutes of the race. I took the turn from Spadina onto Bremner and decided to empty the tank. This was what I came for, after all. I don’t think I looked at my watch after that, to be honest.

I crossed the finish line the happiest I’ve felt in a while, knowing that I gave it absolutely everything I had yesterday.

For those who are into numbers, my watch gave me 5.17km @ 5:33/km (I know others also had some extra distance because of the unreliable GPS downtown) and my official results were 28:36 (5:43/km). Nearly a minute and a half faster than I wanted to go, and an average pace that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. I’ve set my baseline for the season, and I’m feeling really motivated to build on what I did yesterday.

Even though I run mostly solo these days, I was so happy to run as part of a team yesterday. We were all doing our own thing and there were some pretty impressive results yesterday. We all had lots to celebrate yesterday and went to Wvrst in Union Station and actually had the place mostly to ourselves for most of the afternoon. I drank a few more beers than I anticipated and paid for it yesterday evening. I don’t have a single regret, though. A good time was had by all.

I’ve still got a bit of work to do with my running to get it where I would like it to be, and that’s an awesome feeling for me right now. I’m hopeful and excited. I’m so excited. I’m excited to see what will come this season. I’m excited to do some speedwork and push myself. I’m excited to see how this will help with my triathlon running. I’m excited about everything training-related and am going to ride that high for as long as I can.

 

And then it came back…almost

Hello, hello! I hope you’re all adjusting to the time change. To be honest, I’m quite tired today, despite having slept a lot last night. However, it’s getting us that much closer to spring, longer days, and more sunlight, so short term pain and all that, I guess? If you follow me on social media, then you probably already know that the ‘it’ I’m referring to in the title of this post is my training mojo.

Ever since I got back from camp, my motivation seems to have taken a hike. I’m going to shake things up here and give you the recap of last week’s training first to put things into context.

Behold: the week things looked more like a string of Christmas lights than a week of building for a 70.3.

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Monday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Tuesday

40 minute Z2 run: 

1 hour strength lower body): 

Two skipped workouts to start the training week. Looking back on my prescribed workouts from last week, I was set to increase my weights. I had been progressing so well with strength training before camp too. Womp.

Wednesday

45 minute endurance/sweet spot ride (20.9km): Alright. Got my ass out of bed before work and got this done. Not before I had to pop some cold meds, though. My half-sickness from the last couple of weeks reared its head. The ride didn’t feel great, and that carried over into the rest of my day, unfortunately. I didn’t even have the strength to go to lunch yoga, which is essentially a big stretch session. You can bet I skipped my swim post-massage too.

1 hour yoga: 

1 hour swim: 

Thursday

1 hour strength (upper body):

30 minute Z2 run (4.77km): I had book club Thursday night. After sleeping through my alarm, my only options left to get my workouts in were to lift at lunch, which would be tight, and then run home. I packed everything to get it all done. Then I got caught up with things at work and lost all motivation to lift at lunch and my desire to run home was slipping too. I shot my coach a quick email telling her what was up. Luckily, I got a pretty quick response that got me through the afternoon and gave me enough juice to get my run in. While it didn’t feel amazing, I ran faster than I had in a while and to be honest, the runs you often need the most are the ones you desperately don’t want to do.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day. The extra planned rest was to be fresh for my ramp test.

Saturday

46 minute ride (RAMP TEST; 15.5km): Hmmm…a ramp test. I wasn’t really sure how I would do with this. It’s intended to be short, so it’s quite a shift from the 20 minute sufferfest that is the FTP test. I lasted for just over 6 minutes, and that netted me a ~7-8 watt improvement on my FTP. I’ll take it.

Sunday

45 minute Z2 run (7.34km): When I woke up yesterday morning, the winds were high. The deep freeze has mostly broken and the temperatures were up. I bummed around a bit before I got out the door. Despite the windy conditions, I was super happy to see a bit improvement in my paces. If you train with heart rate, you know the frustrations of running slow (sometimes painfully so) for a long time and then, all of a sudden, things click and you are running faster seemingly overnight. I hope I’ve turned that corner. I’ve had two runs this week that were faster than I had been running previously, so maybe things are moving in the right direction?

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1900m swim: Now, I know I said the email from my coach got me moving in the right direction. However, there was a limit to my mojo and I used it all up on my run. Baby steps.

 

Swim: 0m/0:00

Bike: 40.5km/1:32

Run: 12.11km/1:15

Strength/Yoga: 0:00

Total Time: 2:47

As you can see, it was a pretty up and down week from a training perspective. The best way I can describe my funk as of late is sort of like post-race ‘blues,’ but I guess post-camp ‘blues’? I can’t even say it’s the blues, really, because from a mental perspective, I’m totally okay. Better than okay, actually. The post-camp fatigue left me zapped and unmotivated to work out, so I took the extra rest I needed. The longer I rested, the less interested I became in not resting. My body was tired, and my mind followed. The two really do go hand in hand.

Of particular note is that I haven’t swam since Florida. Yikes. If you recall, I learned some really awesome swim techniques in Florida that I’m sure will transform my swimming. Despite that, I have not been interested in swimming *at all.* My strength/yoga/stretching has also not been a priority at all, which I have to be super diligent about going forward. When those things slip, I tend to get injured. With all of my lofty goals this year, ain’t nobody got time for that. I sure hope that this is the week I’m able to get back into the swing of things.

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Part of last week’s email exchange with my coach was me making a commitment to do a little writing over the weekend in an attempt to get my mojo moving again. I spent Friday night catching up on my written training log, and filling out the goal worksheet we got at camp. It definitely helped and while I’m not 100% motivated to work out all the time the way I was before camp, I’m making some great progress back in the right direction.

Patience has been a key component. I know, I KNOW. Who am I?! I’ve been through this before, though, so I know it’s a phase that will definitely pass. Instead of spending my time and energy being frustrated at my lack of motivation, I’m trying to focus on building on the positives from camp and my pre-camp build. Frustration is only going to set me back further and prolong the process. I was so in the zone in January and most of February, so trying to tap back into that is where I’m at right now.

This has also been a lesson that I think I probably need to build in more rest next year after camp. I’ll probably talk to PK about designating at least a full week after camp to ‘play,’ just as I would after a goal race. Having unstructured workouts, or the option to completely rest might be a good idea, and give my brain a much-needed break to recharge so I can truly maximize the fitness I’m able to build at camp.

So, that’s where we are right now. I’ve got a race coming up this weekend, so I’m extra excited to see if this surge in my running is the real deal. I hope I’ll be reporting back to you next week with some more progress!

Have a lovely week, my friends!

 

Climbed a Mountain and I Turned Around…and Did it Again

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Last week, I promised to tell you about my ‘mountain climbing.’ While Florida is not known for its hilly terrain, Clermont and the surrounding area is, in fact, quite hilly. You can get in some challenging rides and runs. The above pictured mountain is Sugarloaf Mountain. Sugarloaf is a baby mountain by Canadian standards, I know, though still challenging enough to climb on one’s bike, especially if one is not particularly adept at climbing. Ahem.

Here’s the back story of why this ride meant so much to me this year. When I was in Clermont last year, I had a really great time learning to put in lots of cycling volume. I was still very aware of my limitations, especially in relation to my fellow campers. Although I struggled to keep up much of the time, I did what I could and have no regrets about how I approached my camp experience last year. However, there was one day that particularly gave me pause and that was the day we rode to Sugarloaf.

We were out on our planned ride and it was business as usual for me. We got to the base of Sugarloaf and stopped in the very place pictured above. I looked up the mountain and I nearly cried. Coach PK knew that climbing Sugarloaf wouldn’t be in the cards for me and she didn’t pressure me at all to climb it. Most of us didn’t that day. Eric and Blair climbed it once and then came back down. Watching them descend after the climb sort of blew my mind, and I wondered if I would ever be a strong enough cyclist to climb something like that.

Time passes (as it does) and when I met PK last fall to chat about my upcoming goals, going back to camp was a given. I surprised her (I think) and definitely myself when I practically blurted out, “I want to climb Sugarloaf.” Saying it out loud made it more concrete and from then on, I was committed. As camp got closer, I didn’t back away from the goal and it became my sole focus for the week.

After a week of challenging workouts, the Sugarloaf ride came on the second last day of camp. If I was climbing it, I would have to do so on tired legs. We rode out to Sugarloaf and we all stopped at the bottom and made our plan. I didn’t feel the same sense of dread and anxiety as I had when I stood at the same spot last year. I must admit, I’m not sure I was fully grasping what I was about to do. Or maybe I was, and was just doing so with that much more confidence than I had last year.

Whatever the reason, I stopped thinking about it and we all started the climb. I hung out in the back (as I do) and concentrated on switching gears to keep a high cadence. Once I started to run out of gears, I struggled to keep a high cadence. I didn’t quit, though. Parts of it felt very hard, though not *quite* as awful as I had anticipated. The side of the road was all grass, so if I needed to bail, it would have been a grassy fall. I didn’t need to bail, though. In fact, I’m not even sure I gave it a thought.

Even though it wasn’t pretty, I made it to the top and I’ll never forget the feeling of cresting the top. It was a familiar feeling – I had just done something that had scared the shit out of me, something I never thought I could. I’ve felt it many times before, when I break through those “self-imposed limits,” as PK calls them. I couldn’t agree more, and I can’t wait to see what else I’m able to check off that list this season.

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Around the bend at the top, we all regrouped in front of a house where they keep water out for runners and cyclists. After a round of high fives, I said to PK, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” The smile on her face said it all. She knew I would say that, I bet. 😉

I’m not sure if she was expecting me to say that I was willing to climb it again, though. Before minds could be changed, we all got moving for the long ride around the back. The total loop was about 14km, if memory serves me correctly. The road was pretty rough for much of that and, to be honest, it prevented me from considering a third repeat. When we got back to the base of Sugarloaf, my legs were feeling the work and I knew the second repeat would be much harder than the first. I managed and got it done. Even though I was spent for that day, I knew that I could probably manage to do three, maybe even four, next year.

And now that has been documented, I guess I’m on the hook for 4 repeats of Sugarloaf next time I’m in Clermont. 🙂 Who’s in?

I must say, that first week back after vacation certainly went by very quickly. I wasn’t surprised to find myself very fatigued after the high volume I put in at camp. Work was very busy for me this week (and will be in the coming weeks too), so I’m sure that contributed. As the week went on, I found myself getting increasingly fatigued and my body just wasn’t quite coming around. I felt like I was getting sick, so there was some unplanned rest this week. RIP, green box streak.

Monday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day. It was my second rest day in a row and since I had also taken Monday off work, it was a day to truly decompress.

Tuesday

40 minute endurance ride (17.1km): This was my first day back at work. I got up bright and early at 5:00 to get both workouts finished before work. My speed sensor had other plans. It wouldn’t pair in Zwift no matter what I did. I spent 45 minutes fussing with it and I was able to get my ride in, although my legs were exceptionally heavy and the easy effort did not feel easy. To be expected.

57 minutes strength (upper body): After the technological snafu that morning, I had to do my lifting after work. The more I workout in the evening, the more I resent it. My arms felt like noodles and I was honestly amazed that I was able to rally at all. There were fewer reps in my sets tonight. It’s a good thing too, because I was moving at a glacial pace, to put it mildly.

Wednesday

40 minute Z2 run (6.07km): By some miracle, I dragged my ass out of bed to run before work. We had a snowstorm scheduled to start at around 7 a.m. (What else is new? Seriously, we have had some sort of excessive precipitation event every Tuesday or Wednesday this winter, it seems.), so I wanted to get my run finished before work. Off I went. The snow was just starting and it was a little slick, so I just took my time. My legs were *really* heavy at first and felt like cement blocks. Eventually, I felt okay and my pace improved. I stopped my watch and looked at my numbers, as I always do. It’s a good thing, because my watch completely froze when I plugged it in. I had to do a hard reset and lost the file.

1 hour yoga: The return of lunch yoga! Despite the snowstorm, we went to lunch yoga for a stretch and, boy, was my body ever tight. The yoga class was *much* needed after camp, even though I was diligent about stretching and rolling that week.

1 hour swim: CANCELLED! I was seriously losing steam after and decided afternoon coffee was a good idea to help me get over the hump. Afternoon coffee is right up there on my list of self-destructive behaviours, so I rarely partake unless I have to be awake later than usual. As soon as I downed a coffee at 3:30, swimming got cancelled for the night. Womp. It was a true testament to how tired I was when I went to bed as usual and had zero issues falling asleep.

Thursday

45 minute sweet spot ride (19.7km): Same story as Tuesday. Fatigue, fatigue, fatigue. I managed to get the ride done before work and was relieved not to have another workout to do. I started to feel some head congestion in the morning and wondered if I was getting sick.

Friday

2200m swim

1 hour strength (lower body)

I made the call to take Friday off. I couldn’t get myself out of bed to swim before work and despite bringing my things with me to go after work, I had zero energy and decided to save my energy for my weekend workouts.

Saturday

1:15 endurance, neuromuscular & sweet spot ride (actual 36 minutes; 15.5km): After a long sleep, I still wasn’t feeling 100%. I ate my breakfast and started my ride. Half an hour in, things were not improving and after a few short intervals meant to get me going, I felt worse and could barely finish them. I made the decision to pull the plug on my brick and see if some extra rest would make me feel better. I emailed PK and she told me see how I feel before my scheduled run on Sunday and take the extra rest if I needed it. No need to be a hero in the build phase. I used the rest of the day to run some errands (including buying a new bike, yay!) so I could have Sunday completely free to relax. It turned out to be a good decision.

20 minute ROTB

Sunday

1 hour Z2 run:

I woke up tired, yet wanting to run. After a good sleep, I was still wiped. I ate my breakfast and waited for it to settle. And then I fell asleep. For an hour and a half. I woke up long enough to waste a little time on the internet and fell asleep *again.* It was somewhere around 2:30 before I finally woke up for the day. I guess that was my body’s way of telling me to slow my roll. I’m grateful that it was early enough in my training that I don’t need to feel too guilty about taking the extra time to rest.

 

Swim: 0m/0:00

Bike: 52.3km/2:02

Run: 6.07km/0:40

Strength/Yoga: 1:57

Total Time: 4:37

Training Camp, 2019 Edition #ownit

A very happy, blustery Monday to you, my friends! As you may have guessed, I’ve returned from the land of summer and am trying my best not to blow away in this windstorm. I had the foresight to take today off work too, and it was a *very* good decision.

This was my second time doing a training camp in Clermont and I can say with some confidence that the novelty has not worn off and I’m already looking forward to next year. I put in some quality mileage (especially on the bike), met some fantastic women, and enjoyed a little sunshine with a side of awkward tan lines. I crushed some goals and identified some things I’d like to work on in the coming months. A win-win, I’d say.

Camp was a day shorter this time around and there was no triathlon at the end because it was in February this year, instead of March. Queen Crankle was not invited to camp this year and took her cue not to crash the party, so I was also able to run much more than last year. I was also pleasantly surprised to see my bike mileage for the week around the same as last year with fewer rides.

I’m not sure if I can cover all of this in a single post. As usual, I have a *ton* of stuff to tell you, so let’s get down to it, shall we?

Monday – OWS (928m//24:47) + Bakery Ride (81.5km//3:28)

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Photo: Eric D’Arcy

Monday morning started bright and early with another open water swim at Waterfront Park. It felt much better than Sunday’s swim, which was pretty much just a dip in the lake to shake off the off-season rust. After that, we met up with PK’s husband and their friends Thomas and Jenny for the first outdoor ride of the season! We rode out to the Yalaha bakery, stopped for snack time, and rode back to Clermont. As you know, I take my raging sweet tooth quite seriously and it took me a while to figure out what to eat. For those waiting with baited breath, I had a key lime tart and took an individual pretzel roll with cheese to go for after the ride. 10/10. Would bakery again.

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Choosing what to eat was very difficult. This wasn’t quite half of what was available.

This ride was not an easy one. There were some hills, so I got some practice with my climbing. We rode some of the Buckhill rollers and I felt okay. Although parts of it were not pretty, I got it done. My climbing needs lots of work before Tremblant, and I’m excited to make some improvements. I didn’t shy away from any of the climbs and just gave it my best. I didn’t fall over, so I am going to call that a win!

I was significantly more confident riding on the roads this year, and a little more adventurous in my climbing and descents. There was even a point when we had to merge out onto the road and share a lane with a dump truck due to bike lane construction, and I can honestly say that I rode through it with next to no panic. Already light years ahead of where I was at the start of camp last year. When we got back to Waterfront Park, many people did a short run off the bike. After 80+km of rolling terrain, I was more than happy to hang back and eat my delicious, salty pretzel roll.

Tuesday – Bike handling skills + Triple Brick (3 X 5km ride + 1.3km ROTB)

Tuesday’s workouts were very similar to what we did last year. We went to Lake Louisa State Park, where we did an hour of bike handling skills before diving into our triple brick. Even though there is still considerable work to do, I think my bike handling skills have improved over the last year.

After the bike handling skills, we got to work and set up our bikes on the transition rack and got a talk from Coach Eric about speeding up the transition from bike to run. Let me just stop right here and say that all the writing in the world could not do justice for how much passion Eric has for helping people improve their transitions. As much as I joke about how he was yelling (constructively) at me in T2 last year at Barrelman to get moving and “stop having a picnic,” his logic is difficult to argue with.

As triathletes, we often use the transition as a time to rest and regroup (at least, I am guilty as charged), when we can usually make big gains by speeding up our transitions. I’ve heard more than one person refer to transition improvements as free speed. He says that a second here and 5 seconds there can definitely add up, and he’s right. If you think about it, in T2 alone, if you switch to quick laces and put your hat on as you run out of T2 and take a gel/fuel once you’ve settled into the run, most of us are already looking at shaving 20-30 seconds off our T2 time, which is nothing to scoff at, particularly if you’re eyeing the podium or qualifying spots.

Once we got moving, the bricks were pretty standard. Noticeably absent this year were the 50+km/h crosswinds we had on the bike last year. Despite the heat (it was close to 30 degrees by the time we got into the bricks), I was able to run some decently paced splits off the bike.

Wednesday – Van Fleet Trail (102.7km//4:20)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is my very favourite trail to ride on. I was particularly eager to ride it again, as many of my campmates and friends would be riding their first 100km that day, just as I had done last year. I was so excited for them and even though I knew I would likely end up with a distance record myself that day, I was thinking more about them and how I knew they would be feeling after such a big accomplishment.

This time around, I tried something new with my hydration on the bike: I rode with a hydration pack. I am telling you, what a game-changer it was. My pack didn’t move around at all or make me overheat (another scorcher that day), and I *nailed* my hydration and nutrition that day, drinking a little Skratch every 10-15 minutes and eating every 30 minutes (I unwrapped by Fruit2 and Fruit3 bars and had them ready to go in my bento box). Perhaps that was why I felt so great for much of the ride. I couldn’t believe how much of a difference I felt between last year and this year. I probably could have ridden a bit longer even. Goals for next year!

One of the women from camp, Michelle, was really focused on getting in the 100km. I met Michelle last year at Angus Glen on one of the club rides and we instantly clicked. Camp was a really, really big week and I was so happy to experience much of it with her. She was having a bit of a struggle about halfway through (“the dark place,” as she called it) and it reminded me so much of where I was during that same ride last year. After regrouping a little, she and I rode the last half of the ride together. She did an *amazing* job of gritting it out and finishing strong. I am SO EFFING PROUD of her for all of the hard work she put in at camp and I can’t wait to see her throw down some epic shit this season.

Once again, I had no interest in running off the bike, since I was planning to run longer the next day.

Thursday – Clay Trail Run (12.1km//1:30) + NTC Swim w/ Sara McLarty (900m//16:29)

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That fog, though.

Last year, I was only able to run/walk about 5km of the beautiful 10 mile Clay Trail loop because of Queen Crankle. While it would have been a bit of a stretch to run the full 16km, PK agreed that I could tack on a bit to my long run for the week, up to 1:30 if I felt good (I had gotten up to 1:10 the week before I left). I was looking forward to the run for most of the week. We arrived at the trail nice and early, so early that the morning fog was still hanging a bit low.

The Hansons-Brooks Distance Project van was parked there when we arrived and, sure enough, a few of their athletes were running the trail. Near the end of my run, Dathan Ritzenhein blew past me and I quietly had a fangirl moment.

I had a lovely, solo run. The trail is pretty hilly and we were all pretty much running our own paces. I ran well and even enjoyed the hills. I managed to get 12km in and, as tempting as it was to keep going, I was grateful for an hour and a half of pleasant, pain-free running this year. Maybe next year, I will get to run the whole 16km!

After the run, we went back to the house to clean up and get lunch at IHOP. As soon as we arrived, the sky opened and we had a torrential downpour. It was short-lived and we went over to the National Training Center for our swim session with Coach Sara McLarty.

OH. MY. GOSH. She basically took much of what I knew about swimming and turned it on its head. In the best possible way. The adjustments she made to my stroke are going to take quite some time to get comfortable with, though I’m confident that they are going to transform my swimming. Luckily, Eric was on deck and will be able to help me practice the new approach on a weekly basis.

Friday – OWS (503m//14:10) + Sugarloaf Ride (52.3km//2:34) + ROTB (1.5km//10:06)

My first opportunity to work with Sara’s tips came Friday morning in our last OWS. Like any substantial changes to your swim stroke, it felt a little awkward and I got tired quickly.

After our swim, we got on our bikes and headed out to Sugarloaf Mountain. I am most definitely going to be writing a separate post about this one. Climbing Sugarloaf was my one goal for camp. Last year, I was too panicked to even attempt it. I remember struggling to keep up with the ride up to that point and just feeling so defeated when we got to the base of Sugarloaf, although we did not climb it as a group. I watched Eric and Blair climb it last year and stood in disbelief.

When I was setting goals for the year and I knew that camp was on my agenda, I told Coach PK that I was determined to climb Sugarloaf. Spoiler alert: I climbed it…twice! Some of the other ladies climbed it four times! Like last year’s 100km ride, climbing Sugarloaf was the highlight of camp for me this year, so I want to devote another post to it. For now, here is a photo of me at the top, where a local family sets out water for cyclists and runners who train on Sugarloaf.

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After we finished up the ride, PK urged me to do a short run off the bike. Since I hadn’t done one that week aside from the triple brick, I did a 10 minute shuffle, which actually turned out to be a decent pace and average HR right in Z2. 10 minutes off the bike is better than no minutes off the bike.

That night, we went out to dinner as a group. I had a beer and practically fell asleep at the table. Ha.

Saturday – Clermont Waterfront Parkrun (5.07km//31:43) + Recovery Spin to Epic (15.2km//50:07)

The last day of camp had us running the local Parkrun. PK wanted me to run hard on tired legs and I gave it my all. I struggled for a while and, at around 15-16 minutes, I had to walk a while. I regrouped a few times and was able to run strong at the end. Looking at my splits later, I very clearly went out way too hard and wasn’t able to sustain the pace. I’ll have another chance to race again in a few weeks at the Achilles 5K here in Toronto and I’m not filled with dread thinking about it, so there’s that.

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Coach PK and her first-time Parkrunners – way to throw down, Amy!

After the race, we hopped on our bikes one last time for a quick recovery ride over to Epic and back, where I had my last date shake for this trip. My legs didn’t feel awful, and I was super sad to be packing up my bike to head home.

Once we got back to the house, it was time to pack up and take apart our bikes for the journey home. We had plenty of time to relax by the pool before leaving for the airport.

Camp was everything I wanted and more. Our coaches kept us well-fed and cooked dinner for us every night, except Friday. It was so nice not to have to worry about cooking. I was surrounded by strong, inspiring women all week long (and Eric, haha!) who helped me push a little harder than I would training on my own. We had a *ton* of fun and it was awesome to get a jumpstart on training for my spring races. Suffice to say, I can’t wait for Mont Tremblant!

I actually set aside time each day to stretch and foam roll and I noticed a big difference in my recovery as a result. By the end of the week, I definitely felt the effects of the heavy volume, although I wasn’t dead tired like I was last year after my first camp. I think that’s a testament to the strength I’ve built over the last year and I certainly hope I’m able to write the same thing this time next year.

Swim: 3157m//1:18

Bike: 267km//11:52 

Run: 22.6km//2:37

Total Time: 292km//15:48

That’s a wrap on my 2019 training camp. I have more to tell you, particularly about climbing Sugarloaf, so I’ll do a separate post on that one soon while the glory is still fresh in my mind. I know this one was a bit long. What can I say?! It was a big week! Thanks for hanging in there, friends. I hope you all have a great week!

 

Stepping Back to Step It Up

Hi-dee-ho from the Sunshine State, friends! I arrived in Florida yesterday for a week of swimming, biking, and running in the sun with a group of fabulous ladies and the two best coaches under the sun.

I’m sure this week is going to fly by super quickly and I hope I can take enough photos to share some decent shots with you next week. So far, we’ve done two OWS (open water swims) and a longer hilly ride. Before I get ahead of myself, though, I think it’s worth looking back at what I did last week. It was a bit of a stepback week in order to prepare for the volume that I’ll be putting in while I’m here.

Monday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day. My rest days now almost always include a mud mask and something a little less nutritious for dinner. I’m riding the self-care train hard in 2019, friends.

Tuesday

1:10 over-under ride (30.8km): To no surprise, my legs were a bit heavy to start this new (to me) type of interval ride. At least, I don’t recall having done these before? It’s an over-under ride (intervals over your FTP, then under, and a brief recovery before doing it all over again). Lemme tell ya, I felt the fire on these for sure! The over parts were so challenging that the unders kinda felt like recovery. I wrote to my coach after this workout that I was eager to test my FTP again after camp to see if I’ve made any gains. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune for a couple of weeks after I get home. 😉

43 minutes strength (lower body): After my ride, I went downstairs to get my deadlift on (and a bunch of other stuff too). I was a little more fatigued than usual for this workout. Damn you, over-unders!

Wednesday

40 minute Z2 run (5.18km): If any of you live in Toronto, you know that Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty shitty on the weather front. I was hoping that the sidewalks would have been cleared up a bit after work on Wednesday, so I didn’t run in the morning before work. I put this off until after work and before swimming. Although the conditions were a bit dodgy (okay, a lot dodgy), I got this done and was quite happy to have done so.

2250m swim: With the crappy weather and Eric away, I very nearly skipped this swim. I managed to get my ass out the door and – lucky me! – it was sprint night! When I got to the pool, it was 86 degrees! The workout was modified a little bit to accommodate the soupy water, although we still got some sprint action in and I fared better than I thought. Hot water FTW!

Thursday

55 minute VO2 max interval ride (23.1km): I didn’t get to do this before work on Thursday, so I made my VO2 max intervals my valentine. They were a good date and my little four-legged friend supervised, of course.

54 minutes strength (upper body): I truly did not want to lift after my ride. I did it anyway. It felt fine and the gym was deserted, except for me and two bros, so it was at the very least peaceful. Check, and check.

Friday

2195m swim: Luckily, I was a little more motivated to get my swim done before work on Friday. I had a pyramid swim on the schedule (100, 200, 300, 400, 300, 200, 100) with no prescribed paces, just an instruction not to to a hard effort. The glory of finishing my swim before work will never get old and it helped me finish off a hectic week on a high note.

Saturday

55 minute Z2 run (7.72km): Saturday was a very, very hectic day. I had to drop J off for boarding, wait for my coworker and her husband to bring by his bike bag (he very kindly lent me his bike bag), pack my stuff, and go out to dinner for a friend’s birthday. I ran home from dropping J off. The sidewalks uptown were a bit dodgy and in much better shape downtown. My HR was a bit spiky at the beginning. It eventually evened out when I got downtown and closer to home, and I honestly could have run for another hour. Although it was a little chilly out, it was sunny and a beautiful day to be outside.

Sunday

825m OWS: The day started super early to get to the airport to fly to Florida. Once we landed and got sorted, we headed to Waterfront Park and stuffed ourselves into our wetsuits for a quick OWS and some drills. It was already hot outside, so getting ol’ Winnie up over my hips was a workout in itself. At least all those squats were not done in vain. Thanks, PK! The swim itself didn’t feel great. That is to be expected for the first time in the open water for the season. It was nice to shake off the cobwebs. The water itself was refreshing, though a touch on the cool side.

 

Swim: 5270m/2:12

Bike: 53.9km/2:05

Run: 12.9km/1:35

Strength: 1:37

Total Time: 7:30

I was doing a three-day workshop last week for work. It was so good, though mentally exhausting. I went into the week knowing that this might be the end of my all-green-boxes streak on Training Peaks. By some miracle (read: my own willpower and fleeting discipline), I managed to get everything done! It wasn’t easy, though. On Tuesday, for example, I had to be on the bike by 4:45 to make both of these workouts happen before work.

I was dragging my ass a bit last week and wasn’t super excited to get my workouts done. A dip in motivation was bound to come, so I was pleasantly surprised to have gotten everything done. The last few weeks have helped me head into camp with a solid base and my confidence a little better than it’s been in the past few months.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the rest of the week here. Though I’m not eager to get back to the land of snow and ice, I’m sure I’ll happy lots of happy stuff to share with you all next week!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed a relaxing Family Day weekend!

The Week of the Sweet Spot

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Hello, hello! It’s been just over 48 hours and here I am again, as promised! I told you that I have a lot of training stuff to catch you up on (true story), and it’s all coming in good time. In particular, I’m holding out for a few more weeks before finalizing my 2019 race schedule. I put my name in for the NYC Marathon and the draw takes place on February 27. Since you pretty much need a letter from God to get into that race through the lottery, I’m mentally steeling myself to choose another fall race. I haven’t yet decided if I will choose another fall marathon, or double up on the 70.3 this year. I’ll have a chat with PK about that next week when I see her.

Anyhoo, you’re not here to read about my waffling back and forth on my race schedule (at least not yet), so here’s what I got up to last week:

Monday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Tuesday

50 minute sweet spot ride (21.8km): This ride included a few short intervals and a 15 minute block of work in the ‘sweet spot.’ Hot take: I actually believe that the term ‘sweet spot’ is a sarcastic term for that power range in purgatory just below your FTP that makes you feel like you’re on the brink of death. It was challenging.

41 minutes strength (lower body): Once I was all sweaty from my bike ride, I changed and went downstairs to the gym and did my lower body strength routine.

Wednesday

45 minute Z2 run (7.59km): I’ve been running home from work lately on Wednesdays. We were expecting an ice storm that day, though, so I got up and ran before work. I finished my run at Starbucks across from home to grab a coffee and as soon as I stepped out of the coffee shop, the freezing rain started. Gold star, Courtney.

1 hour yoga: The weekly lunch hour stretch on Wednesdays with my coworkers. With the weather being so terrible, we all had to coax each other outside to go. Unsurprisingly, everyone felt better afterwards. 🙂

1900m swim: I suspected that the weather would keep a lot of people away from the pool, and I indeed had a lane to myself. Eric had me working on my catch and body rotation, so I didn’t do the same workout as the others. I did a whole lotta 50s with a focus on technique. I had noodle arms after this and my upper body was on fire. Mission accomplished.

Thursday

1 hour VO2 max interval ride (26.2km): I had book club on Thursday after work, so I had to do a quick turnaround and get up at 5:00 to ride and lift. All of that after not getting to bed until 11:15-11:30 on Wednesday night. Thursday’s ride was VO2 max intervals. YAY! Nothing feels better when you’re tired. Heh. They were predictably challenging, and I was not looking forward to lifting right after.

53 minutes strength (upper body): The lifting session after my ride and the tough swim the night before meant that I was a bit more fatigued than usual for this workout, although not as much as I thought I would be. I put the work in and checked the box!

Friday

1875m swim: My second swim of the week is solo, usually at one of the pools near my workplace. On my schedule was a ‘continuous’ 2000 consisting of drills, freestyle, kicking, and pull + paddles. The only rest was to switch up my equipment, and I was to keep the effort easy. I was surprised at how well this went, and really enjoyed the workout. I love swimming in the morning before work.

Saturday

2:00 ride (53.2km): The longest training ride of the season so far! In addition to a few intervals to get the part started, this ride had three blocks of 15 minutes of sweet spot work. See my notes above. This all came in the second hour on the trainer, as well. I see you, PK, trying to get my mental game strong. The first sweet spot block was very difficult, and the rest were a little more manageable, at least mentally. While most people would cringe at the thought of a two hour trainer ride, I love riding inside. I always get a quality workout, and I get to listen to music…all without leaving my apartment! Plus, there are snacks.

20 minute run off the bike (3.38km): Nothing says winter triathlon training in Canada like working up a sweat on the bike and putting fresh clothes on your sweaty bod to go out and run in -15*C. While my previous runs off the bike had been feeling pretty good, this one felt a little inconsistent. Despite fuelling well on the bike, I kinda bonked a little and felt suuuuuuuper hungry during this short run. I was wondering if I hadn’t eaten enough fat with my breakfast before riding. I’ll have to experiment with that going forward.

Sunday

1:07 Z2 run (9.66km): I had a 1:10 Z2 long run on the schedule, which coincided with a RunTOBeer event not far from home. I don’t often get a chance to do events like this, so I jumped on the chance to get out and do a social run. Part of the run was 10-15 minutes of navigating the ice rink that is the Don Valley Trail right now. Once we were clear of that, I had a really great time running with new people. I was able to hold a conversation the whole time, and was super pleased to see a handful of 6:3X kms in there with my HR still hanging out in the mid-140s. You know what I always say – baby steps are still steps! Big Rig hooked us all up with beer afterwards at The Craft Beer Market, and there were reps from the Ottawa Race Weekend and Nuun with prizes, as well. I enjoyed a couple of beers and catching up with some of my friends from Tribe.

 

Swim: 3775m/1:36

Bike: 101.2km/3:55

Run: 20.6km/2:13

Strength: 2:35

Total Time: 10:19

Oof. Big week. Ten. Hours. I’m not sure I put that much time in consistently every week last year in peak 70.3 training, let alone in my build phase.

What I’ve noticed more in the last few weeks, compared to last year’s build, is the increased focus on strength and flexibility. I spent more time this week lifting and stretching than running or swimming. This balance is great for my body right now. I know that an adjustment in my strength program will come as I start to build for my spring race, so right now I’ll just enjoy all the benefits I’ve been reaping from consistently making those things a priority.

On the running front, I’ve been able to accept my paces for what they are right now. It’s not that I’ve been blocking them out and not paying attention, either; I’ve been embracing them and focusing on the fact that I’m *healthy* and running pain-free, regardless of pace. There was a time when 7:00 kms would have felt like the end of the world to me. Instead, most days I’m going with the flow and trusting my training plan. I know some faster times are around the corner if I continue to be patient. WHO AM I ANYMORE?!?!?!?!

Next week, I really hope to be able to write from Florida. While there have been several weeks of green boxes (woo hoo!), I expect that one or two things might not get done this week as I prepare for my trip. I’m keeping up with what the others are up to this week, and I honestly cannot wait to get down there and ride my bike outside. This is especially true given tomorrow’s forecasted snowstorm. It’s a good time for me to be getting out of dodge. 🙂

New Year, New Everything

Ahem. Hi, there. Is it too late to be referring to a new year still? Imma say no…

Let’s just get the usual things out of the way, shall we? Even though I haven’t written since last April, I assure you that my training did not stop. At least not until September. I busted my ass for most of the spring and summer after camp to get ready for my first 70.3. I raced Barrelman in September, and then things got put on hold. The fall and holidays were pretty challenging, and I’m thankful for the fresh start that the new year has brought.

Over the last few months in particular, I’ve really missed writing about training. I’ve been keeping a handwritten journal for other things, and it has inspired me to get back to this wee corner of cyberspace. I loved recapping my training on a weekly basis, and writing about my training was super helpful on a number of levels. Reflecting on various aspects of my training as I go keeps me engaged in the process and I hope to get back to some semi-regular writing, even if it’s just for me. Sometimes Training Peaks and the tiny boxes in my handwritten training log don’t cut it. 🙂

I lost much of my fitness after September, so I had to start from scratch. Seriously, there were stretches of up to 2 weeks where I did not exercise at all. After a couple of attempts to get back to regularly scheduled programming, in January I finally found myself in a space where I was able to fully recommit. Things have been fairly consistent since then, and I can count on one hand the number of workouts I’ve missed.

As much as I struggled to let go of expectations, it was absolutely essential in order to move ahead with training. I have been running a lot of 7-minute kilometres, taken a huge hit to my FTP, and floundered in the pool after a two-month break from swimming. By some miracle, I have been able to focus on the process and where I am, versus where I was, or where I want to be. Although my coach has been a big part of this, I’m giving myself credit for putting in a shit ton of mental and physical work. With patience and allowing myself a little grace, I put in a few solid weeks of work and I’m pretty jazzed about how my training is going.

Motivation levels have been high, despite wintry conditions. I’ve been running through everything from heavy (freezing) rain to polar vortexes. My outdoor runs have been so much fun, and I find myself looking forward to each one, regardless of the weather conditions. Getting up early to ride on the trainer or head to the pool before work have been surprisingly painless, so I hope that momentum continues in the coming months before my spring races. Winter has been going by quickly for me, and I’m happy to say that I haven’t been struggling as much with the winter blues as in years past.

Strength training and yoga have been making a regular appearance, and to no surprise, my body feels pretty darn good right now *knock on wood*. I’m lifting heavy things and feeling super strong. I’m very fortunate to have access to a free yoga class once a week at work, so my coworkers and I have been making it a little tradition to go and get all stretched out during our lunch hour on Wednesdays. I’m enjoying that time a lot and my balance and flexibility have been improving steadily. Win, win.

Since moving in December, one of my first priorities was finding a new swim group. I was able to get into a Wednesday night session with one of my favourite coaches, Eric, through the Toronto Triathlon Club. Even though swimming at night has been a very big adjustment for me, it has been so great to be back swimming with the club. Nothing beats swimming with a group and it makes such a difference to my swimming that it will always be a priority for me. I affectionately refer to it as Midnight Swimming and everyone has been super welcoming. The group really is an awesome fit for me and my goals right now.

I have lots and lots to catch you up on, like my 2019 race schedule (ahhhhhhhh!) and my upcoming trip to Florida (yup, returning to Clermont for round two!). For now, I’ll just say that the 8-10 hours a week I’ve been putting in to train have been a lifeline and I can’t wait to share how things are progressing. I hope to write a recap of this week’s training in a few days.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, friends. It feels good to be writing again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to hop on the trainer for a 2 hour ride, followed by a 20 minute run off the bike. 🙂