Monday, April 14, 2014

Race Report: Blooms to Brews Half Marathon

Another PR in the books for me this weekend at Blooms to Brews half marathon.  While I’m happy with my 8 minute PR, I’m struggling to be really happy with this race.  I know, I know, I should give myself some credit, I had a significant PR and worked hard for it but for me, this was a poorly executed race and I’m already for a rematch.

I went into this race with a few goals---to PR, to break 2:15 and my super-secret A goal was to race 10 min miles and hit or break 2:12.   I hit goals 1 and 2 and for miles 1-8 I was totally on target for my A++ goal and hitting consistently strong even splits.  I'm disappointed in this race b/c for a few miles of this race I let my mind get the best of me.

Miles 1-8 were the most consistent splits I’ve ever had in a race!  I clocked miles 1-8 between 9:52 – 10:02’s (a 10 second spread is uber consistent for me) with mile 7 being a 9:37 (and no, it wasn’t downhill)!  Miles 9 – 13, I fell apart!  I fell apart more mentally than physically but my mental state impacted my physical performance.  I could lay out a list of reasons why this happened but I won’t because those would all just be lame excuses for a poorly executed race.  The number one reason I didn’t continue to hit even splits---because I didn’t believe I could.  I kept thinking about how I had only run one 11 miler in training at a significantly slower pace—I thought back to my less than stellar long run the weekend before…AND, fell apart.  Instead of giving myself props for feeling good and running strong with consistent HR data, I went straight to the negative self-talk. THIS.NEVER.HELPS.ANYONE!  I know that…I knew it at the time too but couldn’t shake it.  Instead of getting my competitive edge like I have in my past few races, I didn’t care about chicking the guy in front of me that I TOTALLY COULD HAVE PASSED.  While I am proud of myself for not completely positive splitting, I did rally again toward the end, I'm disappointed that for a few of those latter miles I blew it.  I stewed a lot about the poor execution yesterday afternoon as I did my 60 min recovery spin (yup, I got on my bike AFTER the race), glad I didn't write down my thoughts then, I think they would have been a mess of disgruntled words.  I'm less disgruntled today and more pensive.

This PR makes 4 for 4 this year, a feat I should be really happy about (and in some respects I totally AM), I’m disappointed that I didn’t execute a better race this weekend but as I sit here with sore legs and a little bit of a bummed attitude, I’m already thinking about how I can learn from this experience! Onward and upward toward a faster and stronger me.  I AM stronger than I think I am, I AM faster than I think I am and my biggest hindrance right now is my own brain.  During my next couple of runs I plan to do a few things differently.

1) Practice what I preach.  I wrote a whole post about mental tricks and tips.  I plan to incorporate mantras or positive thinking into my runs, both short and long.  When I write in Training Peaks I want to have at least one positive thing to say about each run. (Coach Jen, positive run recaps coming your way.)

2) Believe in me. Jen, as in good friend Jen, gave me a card before I left for Arizona from her and little Penny that said, “we believe in you.”  And, if you remember, I saw a sign on the race course around mile 20 that said “believe in you”---clearly, for that race the universe was sending me signs to believe in me.  What I failed to takeaway is, 'believing in me' didn’t stop on that day in Arizona.  I need to remember to carry that with me every time I’m racing.

3) Trust my training.  This goes back to believing but I think it is even more than that.  Coach Jen knows what she is doing.  Look at her roster.  On any given weekend of racing her athletes are standing on podiums, achieving PRs and qualifying for the most prestigious events in the country/world.  I was given an amazing opportunity to work with her this year—to learn and grow from this experience I need to trust what I’m being given.  As she wrote in response to my email telling her I PR’d but that I was disappointed, she said “Next time sub 2:10 but I will say that I am OVER THE MOON ABOUT another PR---IT IS WORKING!” {emphasis not added, that’s an exact quote}

With that, I’m going to be happy with my 2:14:42 and am going to take this experience with me for my rematch!

Side Note #1:  Super studly Mr. Pi placed top 15 and was 4th in his age group with a time of!  And that comes a few weeks after his super challenging 50k with not a ton of road miles under his feet.  Seriously, super stud.

Side Note #2: It was a gloriously sunny day for racing and I would recommend Blooms to Brews course for anyone looking for a flat, rural and scenic spring race.  Rumor has it that next year they are adding a full marathon.

tulips for miles

so many colors!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Three months with Coach Jen Harrison

In the last three months with Jen I’ve learned a lot (I started on January 15 so I’m calling it close enough to three months).  I bought paddles for the first time since HS!  I learned (am learning is probably more appropriate) how to swim with a band (let’s just say it is HARD and makes you feel like you have excessive junk in the trunk, if you know what I mean).  I can sustain over 100 RPM on the bike for at least 5 minutes (last year I think I maxed at 95 or so).  I’ve PR’d 3 running races and am feeling stronger than ever out on the roads.

I am seeing performance gains and maintaining a high level of confidence in myself (for the most part).  I’m still learning to stay mentally strong!  I often reference my own TTT on mentaltraining.  Jen likes to post things in TP like “ask yourself why not?”  This is resonating with me.   Seriously, why not?  I sometimes struggle with grasping this concept, I certainly can let my mind be full of excuses as to why “I can’t.”  BUT I’m working on it.  As Olympian Barb Lindquist would say, build up the tools in the tool box and on race day (or a training session) you’ll be able to pull out the perfect tool for the situation.

Aside from race reports, I’ve been a bit vague about numbers, not really intentionally just I’ve found other things to write about and haven’t really felt the need to always include paces, distance, yards etc.  However, as one that likes to look back at these posts as a reminder of where I’ve been and where I want to go, here are some numbers.

Since January 1, 2014...
-I have PR’d three running races.  My 5k PR went from 29:29 (set in 2002) to 28:20 on 1/4/14 to 27:05 on 3/9/14.  I PR’d my one and only standalone 10k on 3/15/14 in a time of 57:55.  I’m learning my zones, learning to let go of my ego for easy runs and have been pleasantly surprised by the T-runs I’ve executed.  My mileage has been quality over quantity which is right where I need to be.

Snowy T-run (first brick of the season)

Typical running in PDX 9 months of the year--wet, sometimes wild.  That day was particularly windy.

Getting in some quality intervals while on the road for work.  Even if I hadn't had intervals on the plan, I'm learning that the local HS track is a great and safe place to run while traveling in an unfamiliar location--especially for pre-dawn workouts.

-On my first outdoor training ride since IMAZ, I averaged 16 MPH for 2 hours in Zone 2, including a stint of 17+ (nevermind that I was drafting behind Page).  The trainer is still my friend and is teaching me how to suffer in a controlled environment.

Enough time had passed between the hours I logged on those roads over the summer/fall to where I thoroughly enjoyed my time on those roads again.

Trainer love

Sweaty selfie

-I’ve swum 58,525 yards (or 33.25 miles).  While I’ve struggled a little with motivation to actually get in the pool, once I’m there I’m happy.  Jen has pushed my comfort zone was a few weeks of over 8000 yards and is keeping swimming fun.

Felt like swimming on that day watching poor Mr. Pi run a REALLY HARD 50k in the pouring rain.  Way to go DEAR!

-I am maintaining a strong core and continuing to strengthen my hips, glutes and power muscles. 

{Insert fun pictures here. Hehe.}

This doesn’t show up on Training Peaks but I am also thoroughly enjoying coaching athletes of my own!  My athletes are working hard and seeing positive results—it’s fun to watch!

And, I think most importantly, I’m having fun!

Smith Rock family hike

Top o' the world

Running with friends...the best way to socialize IMO

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

TTT: The Mental Game

A couple of weekends ago I attended a USAT Pacific NW meeting where we had various speakers present on all things triathlon.  One speaker, Olympian Barb Lindquist, led off with a powerful presentation about mental preparation.  Sometimes transition is called the fourth discipline of triathlon but I personally think mental training is more important than a superfast transition time.

One of the tips Barb talked about was about staying present.  This really struck a chord with me.   I think back about my successful races and my not-so-successful races---one huge component of the successful races was my attitude about the finish line.  During my successful training sessions and races, I wasn’t solely focused on the finish line and about what time I may (or may not be achieving) but rather, about the experience.  For example, the 5k I ran a few weeks ago.  I was keenly aware of my space throughout that race.  Sure it was only a 5k but I’ve had 5k experiences where all I was doing was staring at my watch or getting annoyed by the crowds of people ahead.  With endurance training and racing, staying present is vitally important.  When you stand or float at the starting line of an ironman, you don’t want to be thinking about the marathon, you want to be focused on the first 100 meters of the swim or the first buoy.  One the biggest successes in my racing history was the ironman and throughout that whole race I was constantly focusing on the present moment.  My attitude wasn’t, “this is hard” “why am I not done yet” but rather “this is awesome” and “I AM in fact DOING this race” and “I am loving this…swim…this bike…and this run…”  I remember seeing Mr. Pi on the back portion of the run course, I was running, I was smiling, I was present in the moment soaking it all up.  He pointed out how close I was the finish, I didn’t.  I wasn’t thinking about the finish until probably mile 25 of the marathon.  I spent the whole day in the present moment.

So, my training tip on mental preparation—STAY PRESENT. Don’t know how to do this…well, let’s discuss two ways in which Barb helped us think about staying present.

1.  Focus on the immediate surroundings, create a mantra.  Her start line/swim mantra “first buoy is mine!”  I like it…I plan to use it.  For the bike, she thought of her legs as pistons on a train “chu chu.”  I personally go back to the song that got stuck in my head during my first century ride, “rocket man.”  My legs are my rockets propelling me forward.  For the run, her saying and one I have said myself is “I am a runner.”  Those of us that come to the sport of triathlon from another discipline (in my case swimming) sometimes we don’t think of ourselves as ‘cyclists or runners’ but in fact WE ARE.

2.  Stay positive.  We all have things we are scared of…mass starts, flat tires, heat, hills, etc.  Roll with these things.  Another of Barb’s mantras from the weekend, “I thrive on challenges.”  Say this to yourself as you’re waiting in the pack of a mass start, as you’re riding up a hill that seemingly won’t end.  Stay positive…YOU CAN do this…YOU trained…YOU are there…YOU CAN DO THIS.

Mental preparation takes training.  Just like your swim, bike and run workouts…work out your mind.  Start creating and using your mantras or images in training, then, on race day you’ll have tools in the tool box.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

TTW? (Training Tips Wednesday): Motivation

Gah, I missed my TTT date so I'm making this a special TTW, training tips Wednesday!

Motivation...Finding it, keeping it and combating bouts of dips in it.

We are all motivated by different things.  While it may seem that some folks are always 100% motivated to do their training, trust me, they aren’t…myself included.  I sometimes struggle getting in my workouts, even though it’s what I love to do!

How do you find motivation?
This is an extremely personal process and I can’t really tell you what will motivate you BUT I can offer a few suggestions.  Instead of thinking about motivation from an end-goal perspective (a finish time, a number on the scale, a pant size, etc) think of motivation as a feeling.  I am motivated to do this ____ because it is going to make me feel _____.  Thinking of motivation in terms of feelings I think makes it a more internal process and can help keep motivation up when some goals are long term rather than a quick fix.

How do you keep motivation?
Ah, keeping up the motivation.  There is a reason that gym goers sometimes loose interest in the gym by February or March…motivation is a sneaky thing, it can come and go.  As I said above, I think tying motivation to a feeling helps keep it fresh and top of mind, rather than a specific end-goal which, in the case of performance gains and weight loss can be slow moving and incremental.  I would also say setting goals is really important to staying motivated so long as you are setting REALISTIC expectations.  As someone who likes to help their friends (and now athletes) stay motivated and on track, one of the worst feelings is helping someone that is over committed or has unrealistic expectations.  Setting ambitious goals is great, I’m all for that, but unrealistic goals can actually be a hindrance to motivation.  Keep it real and honest with yourself (and your coach, if you have one).  For example, I would love to sit here and tell you all that I have a goal of qualifying for Kona.  That would be an unrealistic goal and, if that really was my motivator I would probably get pretty discouraged pretty fast.  Instead, I’ve set a goal to PR every distance I attempt for the year.  That’s certainly ambitious but also within the realm of possibility!  Stay positive, stay present, set goals and be realistic.

How do you combat bouts of dips in motivation?
Everyone has a bad day here and there but if you feel that your dip in motivation is lasting more than a day or two it is time to evaluate.  Ask yourself why you’re unmotivated?  Are you bored? Burnt out? Overcommitted? Injured?  There could be a number of responses to that question.  Figure out the root of the issue and then take steps to reverse it.  Bored? Try something new in your routine.  Burn out? Maybe you need to take a break from your regular schedule and take some time away from the sport to regroup. Overcommitted? Figure out what you can let go.  What’s the most important race/training/etc on the list…keep that, drop the rest.  Injured? Think of the mental and physical break you’re providing your body as you recoup from your injury.  What’s something you’d like to do but your training usually gets in the way…go and do whatever that is.

Motivation can be a finicky thing.  Finding it and keeping it is part of what makes us stronger as athletes.  As a coached athlete, I feel like having a coach helps prevent some dips in motivation.  My routine is always changing…I’m no longer swimming Mon-Wed-Fri, running T-Th-S, etc.  I get new workouts and a new schedule every 2 weeks.  I also think being a multisport athlete helps with motivation; having a change in scenery from the water, to the bike to the road is a great motivator—each have their own challenges and unique characteristics.  Remember to stay present and to think about the feeling that inspires your motivation!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

2014 Tentative Race Schedule and Goals

It's March, you know, 3 months into the new year, probably a good time to finalize my goals and races for the year--haha.  So far training with Coach Jen is going great.  She's pushing me and I am really enjoying the new challenges.  We recently had a great conversation about the season ahead and I'm feeling really good about some of the races we have picked. 

So far this year, I have run two 5k's (PR'ing them both) and a 10k (also a PR). Coach Jen keeps saying this is my year to redefine hard and redefine what suffering means to me.  Hells yeah that is DEFINITELY happening!

What does the rest of the year have in store:
I'll be running a half marathon in April (maybe May too, undecided, that's why I'm calling this a "tentative" schedule). June brings my first BIG race of the season, long course/half distance triathlon!  Also in June will bring a few shorter races yet to be determined.  July, I have tentatively put the Portland Bridge Swim on the schedule as well as maybe another shorter tri here or there. September will likely be another goal race, likely to be another long course/half distance tri! October/November a half marathon TBD and then, in December, the last BIG race of the season--MARATHON, most likely my hometown mary CIM.

My goals: 
Redefine my hard, learn how to "suffer" and...PR every distance I attempt!
I'm taking this potential and my new-found confidence/superhero attitude and throwing myself into these races.  I may not be reaching the podium this year but I sure as hell am out to chick as many dudes as I can.  For the first time I actually feel pretty competitive.  I also BELIEVE that I CAN actually compete, against myself and against others.  Not entirely sure where this drive came from or what rock it was hiding under before but I'm loving it!  I'm going to continue to learn how to suffer and I'm going to do my best to PR every distance I attempt this year, so far, I'm three for three.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 Luckython 10k Race Report: PR

Another race of 2014, another PR and another GIANT medal for the collection.  As for the PR, it was kinda a "fake" PR since technically I've never run a standalone 10k so it was automatic.  Nonetheless I was anxious to see what I could do for a 10k.

Turns out, 10ks are HARD.  I'd say much harder than a 5k.  BUT I'm redefining my "hard" this year and kicking butt doing it. Who knew that the girl who used to be thrilled to see 11 min miles is now running 9's for a 10k and 8's for a 5k!  Going into the race I wanted to beat an hour and my pie in the sky was a 57...needless to say I am happy with that result.

As has been the case with the now, 3 uberthon races I've run, everything is well organized.  This race started was on a golf course out west of Portland proper. Mr. Pi was also running but did the 15k and another set of our friends were there running the 5k.  One of the fun things of this race is that even though we were all running different races we all started together.  The 5k was one loop, 10k two loops and 15k three loops.  Golf courses are always well maintained pieces of property and typically nice scenery, this did not disappoint.  It also helped that we got one of those freakishly nice Portland spring days.

Race started at 4:00 PM which made eating throughout the day a little weird but overall I think I chose wisely.  Breakfast was a scramble with veggies, cheese and bacon.  My late lunch was a smoothie with berries, banana, chia seeds, spinach, greek yogurt and almond milk + a handful of nuts.  By the time we got out to the golf course I wasn't hungry and I wasn't feeling full so all in all a good choice for an afternoon/evening race.

Okay onto the race.  I wasn't sure how to pace for this distance!  In a 5k my good friend Jen told me at the beginning of the year to: start off hard, try to hang on and don't throw up.  So that has been my mantra for 5ks.  With a 10k, geez, I just hadn't a clue.  I went in with the goal of wanting to break an hour which meant I needed to run faster than a 9:40 avg.

Mile 1- 8:38 (whooooooaaaaaa, slow down that's 5k pacing)
Mile 2 - 8:56 (still probably too fast but didn't cause terrible pain)
Mile 3 - 9:18 (much better and totally sustainable)
Mile 4 - 9:19 (see sustainable)
Mile 5 - 9:21 (still sustainable)
Mile 6- 10:02 (I died at the end, oops)
last .26 per garmin (8:37)

Total time: 57:55

Definitely under an hour which was amazing!  My first 3 miles/5k would have come in at 26:52 (ish) which ahem, is FASTER than my 5k from a couple of weeks ago which was 27:05, so lesson learned there...can't pace a 10k off your 5k PR-ha.  According to the official results they have me listed at 1:00:22 however, Jen suggested I email them to inquire.  While I don't really care b/c I KNOW what I ran, I emailed anyway and got a very prompt response back that said they found a photo of me at the start (2:25 into the race) and that they would update the results to reflect my correct time--wow, that's customer service.  I checked this morning and they aren't fixed yet but I'm sure they will be.  Heck, they even sent me the photo!

{Uberthons, if you're reading, thanks for great race organization and prompt customer service (my husband also changed his race distance the day before the race and it wasn't a problem which was a nice and customer-service driven touch). Thanks!}

All in all a great race to test my fitness and while it may sound totally silly, I couldn't be more proud of myself and what I've done in the three races of 2014 so far.  I've PR'd my 5k TWICE, Jan and March and now I ran a 10k faster than I probably had EVER in my life.  Coach Jen is doing exactly what I had hoped she would do---she's taking my potential and molding it into reality!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TTT: A New Twist on Track Session

Training Tips Tuesday is going to be focused on running today, specifically that soft surface circle called the track. Some of us love the track, some of us are scared of the track, some of us have never set foot on the track.  Below is a fun twist on going to the track that I think can fit into the routine of any runner or triathlete, I posted this awhile back but I’m posting it again since I think it is a super fun twist on a track session.  I originally got the idea from another running blogger out there, she doesn't actually blog anymore but she still RUNS, if you're reading this K, thanks girl!

Workout Part I:
Warmup- 1 mile easy or 10-15 minutes of easy running
3 x 10 pushups
400 m
3 x 10 tricep dips
2 x 15 walking lunges
400 m
100 crunches/bicycle crunches/leg raises or a combo thereof
400 m
3 x 30-60 sec plank
400 m
(total run distance in part I: 2.25 mi)

400m easy jog/walk or 5 minutes of complete rest before Part II of workout

Workout Part II:
1600m (@ tempo pace) - OR – 2x 800m (@ 5k pace)
4 x 400 (:45 RI
Cooldown- 1 mile easy
(total run distance in part II: 3 miles)

The great thing about this workout is you can completely change it up every week.  You can add or subtract to part I and with part II you can easily change up the actual speedwork.

For the beginners here is a key on how to read this workout:
400m = 1 lap of the track/.25 mile
800m = 2 laps of the track/.5 mile
1200m = 3 laps of the track/.75 mile
1600m = 4 laps of the track/1 mile

RI = rest interval