Winter Season Plans

So I’ve been feeling pretty darn sloth-like over the past few weeks.  Even though I ran a race not that long ago.  Basically, it feels like life and work and illnesses have thrown me for a loop and my training plan has gone off the rails.

In all honesty, it’s not been that bad, and if it’s going to happen, this is a fine time for it.  But I’m definitely eager to get back to proper training and scheduling.

One thing I’ve learned from all of this is that when I’m given a chance to really step back, I have a tendency to take it too far.  When I know I don’t have to prioritize my workouts or my diet, well, things go a little crazy.  But rather than just go whole hog back into things, I’m trying to ease back in.  For example, I’m mostly recovered from my cold.  I ran 4 miles on Tuesday night.  My schedule called for 5 last night.  However, since I was on my feet all day at work and was pretty exhausted when I came home, I opted to take a rest day and hit tonight’s workout hard.  Normally, I would have pushed that 5, but since I have the time and space in my schedule, I decided to step back.

I’m also trying to revamp my diet.  I let things go a little crazy for a while there, and while I’m still down from my high weight, I had gained back about 5 pounds, and I didn’t like the direction I was going.  I tried Weight Watchers for a while in solidarity with my coworkers and I liked it, but all of a sudden, I stalled out.  I put my food into My Fitness Pal and realized why.  I had fallen into the trap of not getting enough calories to fuel my day.  Why?  Because I can’t turn down a piece of good chocolate, and that was killing my points.  Now, I’m not knocking WW.  It worked really well for me and helped me get back on track.  It made me realize how important it is for me to track my food.  And it’s made the transition back to MFP a lot easier.

I’m approaching MFP differently this go around.  I’m going to focus on really hitting my macros, rather than just calories.  Let me tell you, getting enough protein is hard!  I’m constantly low.  Right now, I’m far from perfect, and my general goal is “around 1600 calories, not over on carbs, eat more protein.”  I’m getting there, and I’m okay with being far from perfect.  I’m not tracking exercise on MFP.  No more of this “I worked out so I get to eat more.”  Yes, on long run or long bike days, I will increase my intake, but on a day where I just have an hour workout?  1600 is more than fine.  I’m not a tall human, and I have a desk job.  And you know what?  When you focus on protein, watching your sugars, and lowering carb intake?  1600 feels like A LOT of food.

So for the winter season, I’m just going to try to get myself back on track, race some half marathons, have fun, and get myself prepped for 70.3 training.  Hooray?


Kona Dreams

Last weekend while following all of the coverage of IRONMAN World Championships, commonly referred to as Kona, I couldn’t help but think “I want to be there.”

(Okay, yes, I started this post last week and then got mired down in work and extra hours and then got a cold, so I didn’t get it done.)

Watching the coverage of all of those amazing athletes in that gorgeous setting, I couldn’t help but dream of someday being among them.  No not as an athlete.  That’s just laughable.  I am and remain a retired marathoner.  That means no full distance triathlons for me.  And even if it did, I would have to get SO MUCH FASTER to even think about qualifying for Kona.  Ask me again when I’m in my 80’s and maybe I’ll consider it.

No, I want to get to Kona as cheer squad.  I mean, come on, how amazing would that be?

The Coeur Cheer Squad hard at work.

I love cheering at races.  It’s one of my favorite things.  I was so bummed to not be cheering at MCM this weekend, but my cold kept me inside and on the couch.  Not that my cheering would have been all that great, given the complete laryngitis.  And as an athlete, I always get so much out of the people who are cheering.  It’s such a huge boost when you’re struggling or when you’re having a great race.  It’s just an awesome feeling to have people look at you and say “You!  You are doing great!”

Kona is the world championship for triathlon, but it might as well also be the world championships for race cheering too, given how many people make it a goal to get there.  Let’s be honest, Hawai’i isn’t exactly a terrible place to have to go.  And to get to see the top racers in the world while you’re there?  So amazing.

So there’s my newest addition to my bucket list.  Cheering at Kona.  Who wants to go along?

Preventing Injuries

WolfBlur / Pixabay

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been going to physical therapy for the past few weeks.  I’m not injured – rather I was realizing that I have some muscle imbalances in my hips and glutes, and I knew that if I didn’t get that figured out, I was definitely risking injury.

Could I have used the internet to research my issues and done exercises on my own?  Possibly.  But I very much like the personal guidance given to me at PT, plus anytime I use the internet to try to diagnose myself, I end up being told I have cancer or lupus.  Thanks, internet doctors.

I realize I’m really lucky to be able to go to PT.  I have good insurance that leaves me with only a $25 copay per visit.  I have a boss who understands running and doesn’t take issue with me taking 90 minutes out of my work day to go to PT.  I also have a great PT office within walking distance of my office.

And yes, while that means I’m burning sick leave and spending about $100 a month, it’s been so worth it to me.  I have learned so much about where my muscles are weaker and what I need to be doing to strengthen them.  I’ve learned a lot of great stretches and foam roller moves.  (By great, I mean excruciatingly painful, of course.)  I learned that yes, I do need to be foam rolling my adductors (inner thigh).  I hadn’t been paying them much attention because rolling there HURTS SO MUCH.  The sort of pain that I thought was perhaps the bad kind of pain and not the good kind.  Turns out that nope, even though it feels terrible, it’s the good kind.  Who knew?

I’ve also discovered the wonders of dry needling – basically poking needles into trigger points to help the muscle release.  You know when a massage therapist digs into a knot in your leg (or shoulder or back or wherever) and it hurts but then releases and feels awesome?  It’s like that, but with needles.  It’s amazing, but not always enjoyable.  Yesterday, I was definitely laughing and writhing on the table while my physical therapist laughed, held my leg down, and absolutely destroyed a knot near my knee with a needle.  And then she gave me a sticker.  So it was worth it.

A big part of my goal this winter is to really work on balancing my muscles, getting in strength work, and making sure my body is ready for the 2018 triathlon season.  But it’s not just about triathlon – it’s about being healthy and making sure I’m properly taking care of my body.  It’s the only one I get (unless science gets super advanced over the next few decades).


Race Report: 2017 Army Ten Miler

Army Ten Miler Beers

Photo credit: Shannon

Year nine for me for the Army Ten Miler.  And while this wasn’t my slowest time (that came when I ran and caught up with a friend), this came pretty close.  It was definitely one for the record books.  But I’m not complaining at all.

I’ve been saying all year that I’m due for a bad race.  I have been nailing it all year, maybe not setting PRs, but really racing strong.  Given that this past month, my goal has been to get more rest and really recover from tri season (and go to Disney World), I figured my training was a bit off for this race, and I shouldn’t expect a PR.

The weather definitely helped that goal.  We had a bit of cool fall weather, but then things shot back up again, and it has been stupidly warm.  To the point where most people still have their air conditioning on.  The temps heading into ATM weekend were looking okay.  Warm, but not terribly so, probably in the upper 70’s.  There was a possibility of rain, but that turned into a possibility of light showers, which I’m okay with.

When I walked out of my house on Sunday morning to pick up Shannon, I knew it was going to be a bad race.  It was 75 degrees and so insanely muggy.  So gross.  To compare, last year, it was freezing before the race, and we stood around in trash bags in an attempt to keep warm.  (That’s the typical ATM race morning.)

This race is huge.  35,000 people.  As per usual, I was in the second to last wave (the 7th), so my wave started at 8:48.  They set off waves every 8 minutes, and let me tell you, those waves go off exactly on time.  Would you expect any different from the Army?

I started out and was doing well, but I was literally dripping sweat.  I was pushing myself pretty hard for the first two miles, but my body told me to slow down.  My heart rate was too high, and I just didn’t feel great.  So I slowed down.  I tried to find a good balance between speed and temperatures, and did a pretty good job of it.

At the water stops, the cadets were amazing.  They had enough water that they were offering to pour or throw it on runners, and I took them up on it.  It was refreshing to say the least.  They had fun with it too – threw the water so hard my hat flew up.  But it felt great and I think that’s what saved my race.  I was wearing my Coeur aero top, and while I’ve done non-triathlon races in it, it clearly also functions well when wet, and I definitely think that helped keep me cool.  What I really wanted was ice to stuff in my bra, but well, you can’t have everything.

This race does attract a lot of newer runners, which is awesome.  It was one of my first big races, and clearly I loved it enough to keep coming back.  But unfortunately, that also means inexperienced runners who aren’t sure what to do when the weather is super humid.  The race organizers were saying all weekend to make sure that you hydrate.  I’m not sure everyone took that to heart.

Apparently, the number of people who were attended to by medics due to heat-related issues was incredibly high.  I heard someone say that 135 people were transported to the hospital.  Of course, that could be for non-heat related issues, but that’s a lot of people, given the medical treatment available at the race (including breathing treatments and saline IVs to rehydrate).

I heard people saying that they never stop at water stops because it slows them down.  That was the wrong thing to do during this race.  I have never consumed so much water during a race.  I carried my handheld and filled it at every stop.  The water stops were mobbed too, which just meant slowing down in general.

At 10:08, the organizers decided to turn the race into a “fun run,” meaning that anyone who hadn’t yet crossed the finish line was no longer eligible for awards.  They also rerouted part of the race, cutting off a mile.  I was past this point, so I did all ten miles, and didn’t actually hear about the change until I was in the finishers chute.  Obviously, I wasn’t going to be winning any awards, and had already decided to not push for a PR, but I was surprised that this wasn’t communicated out on the course.

The initial word from the organizers was that anyone who finished after 10:08 wouldn’t have an official time.  That changed after the outcry.  There was a timing mat that was cut, so anyone who missed that mat but still hit the others and finished would be listed as a finisher with no official time.  (This protects the people who are trying to streak the race, to have 6 finishes so they can register early, and who were racing for their employers – they can show they finished, and it wasn’t their fault they didn’t get the full 10.)

I have run races in worse conditions, so I was surprised to see this change made, but I’m not complaining about it.  I can only believe that with the information in front of them, the organizers felt it safer to shorten the race.  I suspect it was due to the number of heat-related injuries they were seeing.

I finished in 2:17:38.  Given that my 10 miler PR (with my post diagnosis reset) is 2:07 and change, I’m pretty pleased with this.  I slowed down about a minute per mile and found a good spot.  I didn’t feel awful when I finished, and while I was exhausted the rest of the day, I never felt sick, which tells me I did everything right.

All the Running

A screenshot from an app called RaceAddict. (And yes, that race start time is the default and likely is not correct.)

I joke that I hate running.  I don’t actually hate running.  It’s just that upon taking up triathlon, I discovered that I like doing things in addition to running, and having to run four+ days a week is kind of terrible.  I love the killer workouts that triathlon season brings.  And yet I spent my winter season running.

Why?  Well, I’m one of those people where if I don’t race, I’m much more likely to skip workouts.  If I have something I’m training for, I’ll get out there.  (I’d like to think that with Chattanooga 70.3 on the schedule, that would be enough, but really, who knows?)  Plus I have a lot of friends who I met through running and I want to keep racing with them.  For me, running races are also a lot less stressful.  I think it’s because the logistics are much simpler.  So much less to pack.  Weather plays much less of a role (except in what I wear).  The races are also shorter, time-wise, so that makes things easier.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not aiming for big things this season, but I’m taking each race as it comes.  For example, with this weekend’s Army Ten Miler, I’d love to improve my time from the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler earlier this year, but I’ve been a bit tight for the past couple of weeks, and I’m just not sure my body’s up for it.  But we’ll see what happens race morning.  Goal is to finish and have fun.

Then it’s on to half marathon season.  I’m not sure what I’m most excited for.  Space Coast has become a tradition, and I’m excited to hang out with friends and get my that 5th coveted space shuttle medal.  Donna is also slowly becoming tradition and a trip to Florida in February is so amazing.  BDR New Orleans is new, but I’m pumped to finally get to run with Kim again.  So each race has something awesome about it in addition to the actual running part.

Plus if nothing else, all that treadmill time helps me keep up on my tv watching.  Thank goodness for the fall tv season!