Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blech

It has been raining all day. Quite literally, all day. There is a small lake in my driveway. So much for the bike-run brick.

And I know that I would feel much better if I were to just make the 30 minute drive through the driving rain to the gym and do an hour or so of technique work and an hour or so of spinning and an hour or so on the treadmill, but I just can't seem to summon the energy.

Blech. Too much food, too much rain, not enough sunshine and training. Maybe, after so many months in sunny L.A., the rain affects my psyche more than it used to.

Spinning Workout 2 - Cadence (45 minutes)

Here it is: my first spinning podcast. I wanted to share this workout because I know how convenient it is to have a prefabricated playlist, with appropriate tempos for keeping cadence and everything, but I've had trouble finding playlists with music that I actually like (for example, fitpod is a great resource, but I don't really enjoy the music). So I wanted to provide a full workout for people who don't have access to cycling or spinning classes, or who prefer to do their workouts outside.

By the way, this is the same workout that I taught the other day at Genesis.

The General (4:06)
: Warm up

Inside Out (3:38) : Seated, (3), focus on cadence : Pick up cadence at chorus : +(4) on 2nd verse, time trial : Up on bridge, keep good cadence : Down, pick up on final chorus
Breathing (3:38) : Quick legs (3) : Pick it up at chorus : Up, +(4) at 2nd verse : Pick it up at 2nd chorus : +(5), quick legs : -(4), down at final verse : Pick it up at final chorus : Accelerate through last repetition of chorus to end (about :25)
Machine Gun Song (2:50) : -(3), back off, but still quick, even cadence : +(4), at first chorus (BANG BANG!), keep cadence going : +(5) at bridge : --(3) at coda : +(4) at chorus : +(5) at second bridge
She (4:01) : --(3), spin it out : +(4), cadence, power output : +(5), at chorus, maintain cadence : -(4), back it off a little at outro
Ammunition (3:46) : -(3), spin it out : Get cadence going at beginning of music : Pick it up at chorus : +(4) at 2nd verse : Pick it up at chorus : Pick it up at final chorus : Accelerate to the end
Standing in the Way of Control (4:16) : Back it off, leave at (4) : Quick legs : Accelerate at the refrain : Jumps on 2nd verse : Stay standing, accelerate at refrain : Sit down, back off to normal cadence at bridge : Jumps on 3rd verse : Sit down, accelerate through refrain
The Middle (2:45) : Back it off, -(3) : Quick legs : Sprint at first chorus (:12) : +(4), up : S sprint at 2nd chorus (:12) : Down at instrumental : Sprint to end (:24)
Redemption (3:06) : Back it off, -(3) : Quick legs : +(4) at chorus : +(5), up at 2nd verse : +(6) at 2nd chorus : -(5), down at change of section
I Wanna Be Sedated (2:29) : Climb in (5) : Jumps at chorus : +(6) at 2nd verse : Jumps at chorus : Up, stay up : +(7) at modulation : --(5), at 4th verse : Jumps at chorus
Everlong (4:10) : Descent with sprints
The Swimming Song (2:33) : Cool down
The Gypsy Kings (4:18) : Stretching

Note: Click on the title to be taken to the podcast audio file.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fshew

I taught my first cycling class yesterday, at Genesis Health Club. And wow. Teaching spinning classes is harder than taking them. I think I have this mentality where it's really important for me to model what I want people to do. So when I'm teaching, I push myself even harder than normal.

I should teach some track classes.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Rounding it off

Shawnee Mission is so close I can taste it. I have trouble getting to sleep, envisioning race day. Mostly fantasizing about how much ass I am going to kick this year. Although I have to say I have little doubts sneaking in . . . In order to hit the top 10, I'm going to have to do the race in under 2 hours, if this year's field is anything like last year's. 20 minutes for 1000 meters is very ambitious for me. 18 MPH is (I think, at this point) entirely doable. And a sub-10:00 mile is . . . well, it might happen. But doing all of them together, with transitions and all, under 2 hours is very, very ambitious for me. And I find myself wondering . . . what if I'm not as good as I think I am? What if I'm not so fit? What if there's just too much depth in the field? Inevitably, I come to the conclusion that, whether I podium or not, whether or not I can claim the bragging rights of a top 10 overall finish, I will still kick ass. Because I am so, so, so much fitter this year than I was last year. And even if I don't kick everyone else's asses, I will still have kicked my own!

So with race day in clear view, I'm working in more bricks and some transition practice. Wednesday, I went to Pawnee Prairie Park (after picking my bike up at Bicycle Exchange, because one of my spokes broke and so I had that fixed) and did a 20-2 workout. 20 miles on the bike, 2 miles of beautiful trail running. I have to admit, I hadn't done a bike-run brick in a long time. Like, multiple weeks. I can't actually remember the last time I ran right off the bike, with the exception of races. Anyway, the brick was hell, I'm sure, but all I really remember was how completely awesome I felt after doing it. Not awesome as in, "Ah! I feel quite refreshed after that brisk jog!" More awesome like, "Yes! I am such a badass! Now get me into a shower."

I think the badass element is my favorite part of this sport.

Today, I've already done my 4-mile tempo run (39:18! yeah, sub-10-minute pace!) and I still have a swim-bike brick. So, with any luck, it won't rain and I'll be able to ride the 18 miles to Lake Afton, swim, and ride back. But even if it does start raining, I'll probably go. The only way I'd miss a workout, at this point, is for a full-on, thunder-and-lightning storm. Or a tornado, I suppose.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Checking In

Notes on the day:

Today is my first day back on training after a week of full recovery. I didn't intend to be so sedentary this past week. A combination of rain, wind, and no gym access has prevented my general training. Unfortunately, this week of recovery hasn't felt as good as I would like. I've been unexpectedly sore and achy, stiff and unenergetic. And then today I went for a 6-mile run and had an absolutely horrible time! I was running as slow as I reasonably could--12:00 min/mile--and my heartrate was still creeping up to 165, 170 bpm. And with my LSD runs, I would like to keep my heartrate under 150. But there was no in between; either I was walking until my heart rate came back down to 135 or I was running at 172. I couldn't run slowly enough to keep my heart rate down.

Normally, when my heartrate creeps up unreasonably like that, it's a symptom that I've been overtraining. But I just came off a week of recovery. The problem might be a lack of fitness, but I would be very surprised if I lost that much fitness so quickly, after just one week. So here's my theory: "‘That time of the month’ (or even the few days preceding it) is not the time when women run their worst. The hardest time for women to run fast is about a week before menstruation begins (a week after ovulation). That’s when levels of the key hormone progesterone peak, inducing a much-higher-than-normal breathing rate during exercise. The excess ventilation tends to make running feel more difficult." (link) I'm guessing that my decreased performance is related in some way to my menstrual cycle. At least, I hope it's that and not detraining.

I have two weeks of training left before I taper for Shawnee Mission. I'm starting to get nervous and excited. I really, really want to make the most out of these next two weeks, so that I'm at my absolute peak and can give my absolute best.

www.triathlon.org broadcasts live from its world cup ITU races. So I am watching the Round 7 race at Des Moines. Isn't great that we have the technology to be able to watch triathlons, track and field, swimming, and other sports ESPN thinks its too good for?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Recipe File: Quinoa Cucumber Salad

I've recently been reading about the many benefits of quinoa, and today I finally got my hands on some. I was sort of craving salad tonight, too, so I improvised this quick dinner using what I had in my kitchen.

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 cloves chopped garlic
feta cheese
fresh basil
fresh parsley
olive oil
lemon juice
mint (I used dried, but if you have it, use fresh)

Rinse and drain the quinoa, then put it in a pot with 1 cup of water. Heat it on high until it starts to boil. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. You'll know it's done when all the water is absorbed and the grains become translucent. While the quinoa is cooking, dice the cucumbers, red peppers, and garlic and put them all together in a bowl. Add chopped fresh basil and parsley, then pour olive oil and lemon juice over it. Go slowly, as you'll need to do this to taste (I hardly ever measure) and you don't want your salad to be too oily or sour. Add the feta, and toss it until everything is mixed together well. Once the quinoa is done, pour it onto the salad. This will make the feta nice and melted. Toss everything together, then add the mint and toss again. Taste the salad at this point, to see if it needs anything more. I added some dry basil and salt to mine, at this point. Once your salad is seasoned to perfection, you can eat it, or chill it for about half an hour so it's nice and cold.

Diced tomatoes or kalamata olives would probably be a lovely addition to this salad. But I only put in what I had around my kitchen already.

Based on the caloric content of all the ingredients added together, I would say the whole salad probably holds about 930 calories. So if you eat half of it, figure the meal is 465 calories. I would say that, if you're eating this salad as a main course, eating a third of it would be reasonable, and as an accompaniment, eating a fifth would be best. So, the breakdown . . .
2 servings = 465 calories/serving
3 servings = 310 calories/serving
4 servings = 230 calories/serving
5 servings = 185 calories/serving
6 servings = 155 calories/serving

Pre-Race Jitters

My next race is still a month away. Isn't it a little early for me to be having nightmares about the race?

Here was my dream. I was at a major triathlon, finally. Some of the competitors were staying in an elementary school gymnasium to save on a hotel. But it was really, really packed. Like cattle in stalls. Or . . . no, actually, I think the gym was part of a transition area. We had to run into the gym and get the stuff we needed for the bike, then run back out to our bikes and take off from there. Our running shoes were in a big pile across from the bike racks. And this was the race in which I wanted to be really competitive. But it didn't start well. I was warming up my swim in the lap pool (may have even been in the gym...) to, well, get warm, but also to check and make sure that my goggles (which I slammed in my car door at Lake Afton last week) still sealed properly. Good timing, right before the race start, right? And I only did one, 25-yard lap, which is a stupidly short warm up. Then I got out and wanted to change for the start of the race. Moments before the race starts, I'm not in my race kit. I'm wearing a swimming suit, nothing else. So I started pulling on my race kit over the swimming suit, and said casually to another competitor, "This is a great sport for buying tons of clothes, eh?" because I was wearing like four different layers at this point. Not only did she not laugh at my joke, she looked at me and suggested that I leave a couple layers behind. Then went off to the starting line. So I vacillated for a few minutes, taking things halfway off, pausing and saying, "No! I don't have time to change!" and putting them back, then repeating.

Jump to right after the swim. I come out of the water in good position. Not first, by any means, but towards the front of the pack. I sit by my transition area and start gathering the things I'll need for my bike. I dash out there, wanting to do this awkward transition as quickly as possible, sit and put my shoes on, and realize something terrible: Not only have I grabbed someone else's shoes, they don't even match; I have two different shoes, neither of which are mine. I run back in and start looking for my shoes. And now some really slow people are starting to pass me. Fat, awkward people are wheeling their bikes out of T1. I'm going to have to make up a ridiculous amount of time on the bike. And I can't locate my shoes, still! By the time I finally find them, upside down, with the pedals attached to them, for some reason. I am the very last one out of transition. And one of the race directors comes over to ask me if everything's okay (and at this point, for some reason, I seem to be wearing blue jeans and have to strip back down to my tri shorts). I explain that I grabbed the wrong pair of shoes. And then I wake up.

I tell myself that it's okay, it's just a dream. I remind myself that swimming, biking, and running are not the only things being tested come race day; it's also a test of how well you can prepare and how well you can react to shifting and challenging circumstances. And then I sit down to write it out, because it was so frightening and unpleasant.

By the way, Zach, my former team captain, was sort of present and in the background in full USC Tri Team regalia the whole time. Not sure what that means . . .

Monday, June 11, 2007

2006 ITU Cup - Doha, Qatar, Elite Women




Whenever the ITU cup is hosted in the Middle East, I wonder what the locals think of a bunch of women running around in bathing suits.

By the way, the 2006 ITU series as shown on television is now up on Google Video. Just search "triathlon."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dreams

This afternoon I took a nap, and while sleeping, I dreamed that I went for a jog around USC's campus. And after a few minutes' running, I decided that if I was running, I might as well run really, really fast. I leaned over and let my stride stretch out behind me, and flew over the ground so fast that my eyes could barely register the terrain beneath me. I ran around students and over benches and up stairs, all with the grass blurring under my feet. The feeling of the wind rushing past me and the sheer exultation of moving so quickly left me feeling fresh and energized, if winded. And I had never gone so fast!

Not a bad way to start off a recovery week.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Late Workouts

Those were awesome workouts. I decided to start by swimming, but as I warmed up with an easy 100 yards, I realized my heart rate was coming up unusually fast. I must be worn out from yesterday's workout, still. So I backed off and decided to change gears; instead of an endurance workout, I decided to do technique work. And it was great. I haven't felt so smooth in the water in . . . actually, I've never really felt that smooth in the water. It felt like my swim is really coming together, which is an amazing sensation. I swam for about an hour without keeping track of yardage, times, or heartrate. I just swam back and forth performing whatever drills I thought would work what I felt was lacking. One-arm drills and fingertip dragging drills were particularly useful. Also, I'm finding that the principles about which I read in Chi Running are also very applicable to swimming. Actually, I think they're more applicable to my swimming than my running.

Speaking of which, I did a brief run at a little below tempo. It felt amazing, and I think I could have kept going for a good hour . . . If I hadn't been on a treadmill. Running on a treadmill is so boring! I usually can't stand it for more than 20 minutes at a time. But the wind is still crazy, and it's probably not safe to run around alone at 1 a.m., even in Wichita. And the indoor track is really, really small. I'm not even sure how small. I would guess 200 meters, maybe less (200 yards?). So I didn't want to put my knees through the agony of running in very tiny circles for 30-45 minutes. And the treadmill got the job done.

I'm very glad that Bill Anders recommended this video. This midnight workout was great.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Prize

I don't often talk about my personal life on this blog. That's not what this particular web journal is for. But I'll provide just a little bit of backstory for this post.

Recently, I've been rethinking my spiruality. It's become so hard to even believe that God exists, and that's pretty basic if you're going to live your life in service to him. On Sunday, I found myself thinking about my training, about how my best training is done when I have a clear goal in mind. I want to podium in my age group at Shawnee Mission; I want to come in the top 10 women overall; I want to break 2 hours. These are very clear, specific goals, and I know that I'm going to have to work very hard to get there. And when I first began training for triathlon, it was a huge boon to my spirituality. I was able to embrace discipline and endurance in a way I'd never experienced (especially as a football player, hyuck hyuck).

Recently, I've felt myself losing focus both in my training and my spirituality. On Sunday, I actually prayed about this (which is quite a step when I'm not even sure there's a God there to hear me). I felt like I received comfort . . . I still don't know what the prize is, but I can keep running until I crest this hill and see that the race is still worth running.

And I think I just found what will reinvigorate my training. It's a video of the recent Columbia Triathlon in Columbia, Maryland. Watching those competitors arrive, greet each other, ready their equipment, swim, bike, and run . . . Seeing the spirit and the dedication, the commitment, the willful embracing of pain . . . Remembering what it means when all that hard work pays off.

I'm ready to work. Hard. And even though it's 10:45 p.m., I think I'm going to head out to the 24-hour gym and get in those workouts I skipped today because of the wind.

I am reaching for the highest goal
That I might receive the prize
Pressing onward, pushing every hindrance aside, out of my way

(By the way, my favorite part of that video is when the woman asks how much time she has left, then replies, "2 minutes?! Eee!")

Wreaking Havoc

"...Wind Advisory remains in effect from 10 am this morning to
10 PM CDT this evening...

South winds of 30 to 40 mph... with gusts up to 50 mph are
expected today. The very strong winds will continue into the
evening hours across the advisory area. The strongest winds are
expected west of a line from just west of Emporia to Arkansas City.

A Wind Advisory means that sustained winds of at least 30 mph
and or wind gusts over 45 mph are expected. Winds this strong can
make driving difficult... especially for high profile vehicles. Use
extra caution."

Well this absolutely wreaks havoc with my training schedule. 'Cause no way I'm getting out on my bike for 20 miles if it involves 50 MPH gusts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Speedwork

This was my swim workout for today. I enjoyed it, thought I'd share it for those who need help coming up with workouts. I tried to strike a balance between endurance and speed, so I have some long repeats, with speed work at the end.

200 SPK
6x300 @ 6:30
4x50 drills
6x50 @ 90%, 20 sec RI
100 EZ cool down

The main set is fairly small (2100), but if you need something longer, you can always add more repeats. Also, choose a sensible interval; if 6:30 is too slow for you, cut it down; if it's too fast, don't kill yourself. You want your heart rate to be up for the 300's, but you don't want to be near your lactate threshold.

Notes (for those who don't understand swim workout lingo): SPK means 200 yds swimming, 200 yds kicking, and 200 yds pulling. 6:30 refers to the interval on which you start your 300's. If I start my first 300 at 5:30 on the clock, I need to leave for the next one at 12:00. So if I swim the 300 in 6 minutes, I get 30 seconds to rest before the next set. Some drills I like to do are bi-lateral breathing, fist swimming, and one-arm pulling. The 90% can refer either to heart rate (as a percentage of your lactate threshold) or perceived effort. RI is rest interval, so you should rest for 20 seconds between 50's.

Also, you shouldn't do this workout until you have a solid aerobic base built up. Which means if you're just getting started with training, you should take a good three weeks to do long, slow swims before you get into speedwork.

If you have any questions about the workout, or need tips on how to build a swim workout, leave a comment.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Quick Summary

I haven't really bothered with a play-by-play on my training, but for the sake of catching the world up on my endeavors, I'll share a few paragraphs about the past week.

My schedule called for a week of strength building this past week, so I hit hills on the bike (high resistance on spinning bikes) and run (incline work on the treadmill) for my standard tempo workouts. Honestly, I wasn't sure how to adapt my swim workouts to build strength, so I'm working by trial and error and reading up on swimming drills. I also reinstated a pretty intense weights routine, including high volume deadlifts and squats, which left my upper legs spent for most of the week. That's the primary reason why I was feeling so overtrained by the end of the week.

This last week has also been one of readjustment, particularly to the humidity level here in the middle of the country. I go to spinning class and find perspiration beading on my arms to the point where it looks like I've been riding in the rain. And the heat and humidity seriously impacted my track workout last Monday.

Speaking of which, I definitely feel the lack of coach and teammates, especially during my track workouts. It's so much harder to motivate myself to run faster. I clearly need to find some training partners.

Fortunately, joining a team seems within reach, since I've landed a job at a local gym teaching group fitness, beginning with spinning class. I'm very excited to start that, and in conjunction with my classes, I plan to publish spinning podcasts. My style involves lots of shouting, so if you've been wishing for someone to really kick your ass on your cycling workouts, I will make that option available to you very soon.

I feel like I've lost focus, a little bit. I need to just take a couple hours and think through the whole Shawnee Mission race in my mind; that way, I'm not doing it to maintain a particular lifestyle (so that I continue to be a bad-ass triathlete) or image. Because I don't like just working out to maintain a certain body type or general fitness, especially with this race coming up. I want to compete. I want to completely own at Shawnee Mission. I want to be one of the top competitors, not just to prove to myself how far I've become, but because I really, really want to succeed. I think if I refocus my mind on that very important race, it will reinvigorate my training as I go into a week of speed work before recovering for a week.