Thursday, July 28, 2016

A new direction

At the beginning of the year, I had two goals for 2016.  One was to race in the Glass City marathon in April and (hopefully) BQ.  The second was to complete in the half-Ironman in Delaware on August 21.  My injury back in April should have effectively ended both of those goals, given what I had read about femoral neck stress fractures and the amount of time it took for them to heal.  When I realized I was recovering more quickly than was typical for my injury, I started to ask myself... what if?  What if I could actually do the half-Ironman?  Maybe I could just swim and bike.  Or maybe I could swim, bike and then walk the run.  I started to study the cut-off times for the race, and realized it was possible.  That I could POSSIBLY do 70.3 miles in August!

But after my race at MingoMan, I started to seriously think about what I was doing.  What WAS I doing?  Swimming a couple of times a week... biking a couple of times a week... returning to running with a very specific program.  This was all well and good, but was I really preparing myself for competing in 70.3 miles?  I especially was concerned with the bike, after feeling pretty awful on the bike at MingoMan.  I also was wondering if I was really getting enough swimming time in. I attended a 4-session triathlon clinic this month and the recommendation was to swim 3200-3600 yards, twice a week. I was swimming nowhere near that kind of yardage.  I spoke after one of the clinics to Betsy, who was the "swim expert" at the clinic (who is also an amazing triathlete, and who I actually met almost two years ago at the distance swim challenge!).  I offhandedly mentioned to her that I was thinking I might need some coaching.  She messaged me the next day and asked if I would like for her to coach me.  I should mention, Betsy runs her own coaching business, Excel At All Three.  I decided to take her up on it, figuring that it could not hurt having an experienced triathlete in my corner, telling me what to do each day.

So I started to work with Betsy about 2 weeks ago.  She gives me the workouts via an app called Training Peaks, and I do them.  It's a pretty simple arrangement!  The biggest changes from when I was self-coaching:

1) One of my swim workouts is in the pool, doing interval work.  Ugh. I hate being "married to the clock" (as Betsy calls it), but I have no doubt it will help me capitalize on my swimming abilities.

2) I am swimming longer... as I said, 3200-3600 yards per workout.  The open water swims are also more prescriptive--I'm not just going out and swimming at Alum anymore.  Rather, I am focusing on certain things each length (form, sighting, speed intervals, etc.).

3) I am biking further.  Betsy has me doing 20-25 miles on each of my two weekday long runs, and progressing up to 60+ miles on my long ride on the weekend.  She's also having me push more of my rides, based on heart rate monitoring... which brings me to #4.

4) I am wearing my friend Steph's heart rate monitor.  It connects with my Garmin and gives me (and Betsy) feedback as to how hard I'm working on each ride and run.  It's also a good way for her to make sure I am not pushing myself too hard when I am supposed to be going easy.  I am finding the data that it provides pretty fascinating!

5) I am running off the bike more ("bricks").  This is a big thing in triathlon training that I haven't been able to do as much as I'd like, due to recovering from my injury.  There is a fine line between pushing myself too quickly, and learning how to run after riding on jello-legs.

I still am finding it hard to believe that I am actually going to be able to do the 70.3 in 25 days.  I am fully prepared to walk as much as I need to during the half-marathon portion of the race, based on how I am feeling. I know that I will be dead-tired after the swim and bike.  Right now I am up to 40 minutes of running (I am pool-jogging as well to help supplement my runs).  I am not sure how many  minutes of running I will work up to by the race... I know it won't be 2 hours.  So walk-run intervals are very likely.  Of course, given that it's likely to be 90+ degrees and sunny out while I am running (at around 1 PM!), many people will be doing the same thing, which will make it easier to stomach not actually "racing" in a race. 

Me after a very hot run!
 I am beyond on my blogging... I need to write a review of a product, as well as a race recap for a triathlon relay that I competed in over the weekend.  So I will end this blog with a quote from one of my favorite movies that really speaks to me...   

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