January Favorites

January has been one of my most successful training months in that I consistently trained!  I’m loving “Ironman Zone” and the focus I have on my goals right now.  Fingers crossed that it will carry through for many months to come. As I’ve been accumulating miles and training hours, I’ve had a number of favorites that have helped me along the way.  I figured I’d start a monthly(ish) post about favorite products, workouts, meals, etc.

Favorite Product- SBR Tri Swim Shampoo and Conditioner  Let’s be honest, swimming wreaks havoc on your hair and skin, especially in the winter.  SBR makes SUCH great products that you’d never know how much time I’ve spent in the pool.  Prior to discovering their shampoo and conditioner, I used UltraSwim and this is no comparison!  I’m really looking forward to trying their Dermasport skin products next! triswimimg Favorite Nutrition- I’ve been using lots of Hammer Fizz this month.  I love how convenient and portable these are.  I tend to not get any nutrition ready until the last minute when I should probably be out the door already and these are perfect.  I have been using Heed for a year now and find that Fizz is comparable in how it gets me through a workout, these are just more convenient sometimes!  My big draw to both Heed and Fizz is that no artificial sweeteners or refined sugars are used.  As someone who really prefers the taste of water to almost anything, most sports drinks make me want to gag.  I hate the really sweet taste of a lot of the biggest names out there.  Hammer products have a much lighter taste that is easier on your stomach, especially over long periods of time.

These should last awhile!
These should last awhile!

Favorite Workout- This was a swim workout I did early in the month.  I loved how often it changed so that I didn’t have to struggle through any one thing for too long, but still felt like I got a great workout in. Warmup: 200 swim, 200 pull, 200 kick 4×150 swim 4×150 pull 6×50 sprint 4×100 Cooldown 100 (50 kick, 50 swim) Love to hate workout- Any sufferfest video.  These are tough.  This photo is my before and after of a video called Fight Club.  We all know the first rule of Fight Club….. IMG_20150126_230905 Favorite Gear- This was easy, my new Garmin 920XT.  I actually got it in December, but since January held a lot more training in the pool and bike, in addition to running, this is where I really began to fall in love.  For anyone that has looked at these, yes, they are insanely expensive.  I’m counting on this watch lasting me many years.  And for a piece of equipment I literally use everyday, the cost per use is not that high.  (I’m good at justifying anything).  For a real in-depth review on the watch, check out DC Rainmaker, my go to source for all techy reviews.  Here’s what I love broken down by sport: Run- It tracks my cadence, vertical oscillation (how much I bounce), and VO2 Max, along with the standard of pace, heart rate, distance, etc. Bike-  Honestly, my bike computer already tracked most of this, but using my Garmin allows me to upload versus manually entering info like I have to from the bike computer. Swim- Here’s where I get blown away.  I’ve never tracked anything in the pool before.  I would swim a given distance but have no idea how long it took me.  The watch keeps track of my number of laps, time for each lap, number of strokes per lap, it can tell what stroke I’m swimming and more.  Added bonus, on long intervals I don’t have to keep count as much because the watch does the work for me. Activity Monitor- I haven’t explored this too much, but I know it tracks my steps per day and adjusts my daily steps goal based on how much walking I’ve done lately and my sleep patterns.  I’m sure there’s more in this area, but this is more than enough for me. Data- It automatically uploads to Garmin Connect so that I can be a true numbers geek and analyze.  Here’s an example of the graphs from a swim workout this month. Favorite Recovery Tool– Compression anything!  My wonderful husband got me lots of cool Coeur Sports gear for Christmas, including these compression socks and compression pants.  I love to throw compression gear on after a tough workout.  The extra support feels wonderful! compression socks pink_capri_front_large Favorite Meal- This was really hard to choose because I had lots of good meals this month.  Full disclosure, I am not the cook in our house.  Again, my wonderful husband comes through with supporting this triathlon goal and makes meals that definitely help the cause.  He makes lots of healthy, fresh meals throughout the month.  My favorite was grilled salmon, long grain wild rice, and grilled asparagus and yellow peppers.  I should have thought to take a picture, I was too busy eating though! Favorite Fail of the month- Increased training means increased appetite, aka I’m hungry all the time.  There is a new McDonald’s conveniently located right on my way home from work.  After a particularly stressful day at school, the billboard sign reading “Triple Cheeseburger $2.00” was just calling my name…….I don’t regret it one bit! Favorite Activity- There was a local Bike Expo over the weekend that I took the kids to.  Lots of cool vendors, workshops, giveaways, etc.  I got to see my favorite bike store, The Bike Factory, sign up for a local bike ride and learn a lot.  I didn’t think to take pictures of most of it, more the parts the kids were most excited about.  Trust me though, there was plenty to drool and swoon over from a triathlete or cyclist perspective.  The best part though, was how much my kids loved it.  Not much makes a triathlete parent happier than when their kids show interest in the sport as well.

My kids LOVE giveaways!
My kids LOVE giveaways!
We even found the Rad bike from the 80's movie.
We even found the Rad bike from the 80’s movie.
Cool old bikes
Cool old bikes

Ironman Boulder Training- Week 2

I had another solid week of training, I’m really enjoying being back in the three sport world.  I love feeling like I’m making gains in different areas, compared to just run focused training.

Week 2 training journal
Week 2 training journal

Monday- Rest Day

Tuesday- Bike- 19 miles, Avg Speed 15.66

This was another early morning bike ride in my living room.  I did Sufferfest Local Hero.  It was challenging like always, but I’m happy with this workout.

Wednesday-Run- 6 miles, Avg pace: 8:30

Tempo Run with my local running store.  Every Wednesday they have a group that runs about 6 miles then heads to the bar for drinks afterwards.  I’m never able to hangout for the drinks afterwards, but there is always someone to help push the pace more than I do for tempo runs on my own.  Need to start going to these more!

Thursday-Swim- 2800 yards

This was by far my toughest workout of the week.  It involved lots of pulling drills at very specific time intervals.  The paces were pretty challenging, so I missed a few of the assigned intervals, but was able to stay fairly close to where I was supposed to be on little to no rest between intervals.  I’m looking forward to getting another shot at this workout again soon.

Friday-Run, 7.3 miles, Average pace 9:35

I had a professional development day at school that morning and got the afternoon off.  This was wonderful because it fell on a day where we had 50 degrees, sun and minimal wind.  You can’t ask for more than that in January in Illinois!  I took my dalmatian, Elsa, with me for 6.2 miles.  She is an amazing pace dog, these were our splits:

9:52, 9:34, 9:34, 9:34, 9:34, 9:35

The trail we ran on is made up of a really fine gravel (think kitty litter) and was sloppy due to thawing out and rain earlier in the week.  We sloshed around the whole time, so my footing was a little more loose than I’d like, felt a couple twinges of soreness in my knees after this run.

Next I took Copper, my lab/hound mix out for his turn.  He loves to stop and sniff so we definitely don’t get to keep a constant pace on his runs, but he did pretty well this time….we probably only stopped about 10 times on our 1.1 mile run.

My dogs and I posing after our bike trail runs.
My dogs and I posing after our bike trail runs.

It was a fun day and I was so thankful for the weather and the time off school to enjoy it.

Saturday-Long Run, 9.08 miles, Average pace 9:23

I went to Runwell for this run as well.  I have a hard time on solo long runs, it just always seems to go better with company.  My legs are definitely not used to running somewhat long miles two days in a row and felt tired for this run.  I focused on my breathing to gauge my effort instead of my legs.  Although it was probably a harder effort than an easy long run should be, it was still pretty close I would say.  Happy with this pace, especially since I’d run 7 the day before.

Sunday-Long Bike Ride, 17.94 miles Average speed 17.1

I really wanted to get in an outside ride this weekend with the mild weather just to see where my outside bike base was at the start of training.  I’ve read that there is a difference in trainer riding vs. outside riding and you should expect the trainer to be slower, but I wasn’t sure just how much.  Since I’d spent very little time on my bike since October, my first few weeks of trainer rides have been a bit discouraging to see how much my speed had fallen.  I studied the weekend forecast daily trying to decide what to do.  Saturday was warmer but had very high winds.  Sunday was cooler but less windy.  After Saturday’s long run in the morning my legs were tired and I decided to go for Sunday when I wouldn’t have to fight as much wind.  Sunday ended up being cooler than what they forecasted, go figure.

Stopped on my outside ride to take a picture.  Gotta have proof of an outdoor ride in January!

When I left my house it was 49 degrees, but since it was already 2:30 at that point, the temperature only fell from there.  Winds weren’t too bad, and the temp didn’t feel too bad starting out.  It felt SO GOOD to be back out on my bike.  I remembered why I loved it so much last year.  I didn’t switch my sensors over from my trainer tire so just used my watch to keep track of speed and distance.  I didn’t look down too often, but every time I did I was happy with what I saw.  Without feeling like I was really pushing the pace, I was quite a bit faster than any of my trainer rides have been.  I felt strong and definitely could have ridden further under warmer conditions.  I ended up deciding that my feet were getting pretty cold and decided to turn back and cut my ride a little shorter than planned.  But I’m happy with it and can’t wait for spring when I can do more consistent outdoor rides!

Looking ahead:

My plan for the coming weeks is to focus on strength and speed.  I know that increasing distances are going to happen as races get closer and I want to take advantage of this time to be more ready for that.  My plan is to incorporate some core and strength work each day, add more hills to my running and keep pushing myself on my Sufferfest videos.

Stopped on my outside ride to take a picture. Gotta have proof of an outdoor ride in January!

Ironman Boulder Training- Week 1

Well, 2015 has started off with some changes to my workouts and commitments.  I registered for my first full Ironman!  This was one of my 15 Things To Look Forward to in 2015.  It has been something I’ve wanted to do for awhile.  I debated between Louisville and Boulder for my first.  Louisville would allow more training time, a closer location and more similar terrain.  Boulder would be timed at the end of summer to avoid training falling off in the fall once I’m back at school and my kids’ activities are at their busiest, but doing my first ironman at a higher elevation is a bit scary.

After reflecting on my training for Border Wars, I did really great through the summer, but had a hard time keeping up with training through August and September when life got busier.  Also, weather in October can be very questionable.  You have no idea whether you will have a really hot day or a really cold day.  After researching IM Boulder’s course quite a bit and reading race reports, I decided to take a chance on elevation and go for it.  As of this week, I have fully committed (AKA paid registration fees) to Ironman Boulder 2015!!!!!

Given the shorter timeframe for this goal (versus Louisville in October), I decided to enlist the help of a coach.  I want to make sure that I am tackling this distance in a safe way and challenging myself to the highest level possible without being reckless.  My coach didn’t disappoint with the first week of challenges!  I love having a training plan again and am enjoying comparing my workout numbers to previous workouts.

Monday:  Tempo Run 5.73 Miles, 49:51, Average 8:41 pace

I ended up completing this on a treadmill at the local gym because of scheduling and cold.  My son had basketball practice and between my chauffeur duties and the temperature in the teens, I decided to just suck it up and do my first treadmill run in nearly a year.  Although I worried about fighting with New Year’s Resolutionists for treadmill time, one opened up at just the right time and it was overlooking the gym.  I was able to watch a middle school girl and her dad working on shots and techniques while I ran.  As my dreadmill attention span is quite short, I made a game out of it.  Every time the girl below made 5 shots, I had to increase my speed.  I did this from 6.6-7.2, then back down to 6.6.  There were times where she made the 5 shots much too quickly and I was increasing faster than I wanted to and then she seemed to miss a ton when I was on 7.2 so I had to maintain that speed for awhile (of course).  But overall I really enjoyed the workout and was entertained and distracted enough to get it in without hating the treadmill too much.

Tuesday: Bike Ride, 17 miles, 1:10:14, 14.5 mph average

By far my least favorite workout of the week.  I got up at 4:30 AM to start this ride, which was the earliest I’ve ever done.  Since our forecast for the week was extra cold, I moved my trainer from the garage into the living room.  I did this workout while watching Friends on Netflix, which helped.  Since I’ve only done a few rides on my trainer so far, I’m still learning about it.  For this ride, I had the resistance pushed against my rear wheel too much and even the easiest gear seemed very difficult.  Regardless, got through it and felt better when it was over.

Wednesday: Swim and Bike.  Swim-2500 yds, 1:01, 2:27/100 average.  Bike- 28.48 miles, 1:49:12, 15.6 avg

 I lucked out this day and had a day off of school because of the extreme cold temperatures.  My kids’ school did not get called off, so I had the day to myself to get these workouts in, which was wonderful!  The swim was first, I went mid-morning, just after the water aerobics class was finishing.  To my surprise, the pool was pretty crowded that day.  Though it only has three lanes, the entire time I was there, at least 5 people were swimming laps.  It worked out that I only had to share a little bit of the time.  This workout involved a number of different distances, stroke types, etc.  What was especially challenging was the :20 rest between most of the repeats, a big change when I am used to :60 rest.  But it felt really good, I was able to complete it with very consistent splits and was happy about that.

The bike I did with the help of a Sufferfest video, ISAGLIATT (It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time).  The video is their longest, and involves a number of climbs.  I haven’t spent much time on the bike at all since October and feel like I’m starting over here to some extent.  Both the prescribed workout from my coach and the sufferfest video call for pretty high cadence throughout.  I only started tracking cadence in September so am still learning to ride by cadence, whereas before I chose a harder gear and lower cadence.  I’d still like my bike speed to be higher than it is, but I’m sure it will get there.  I like the challenge of the videos and am hopeful that by spring when I can ride outside, I’ll have the hang of this higher cadence!

Thursday- Rest Day

This was needed after Wednesday!  Although I was tempted to throw in a workout, especially since I ended up having another day off school, I didn’t.  I haven’t had this many workouts in a week since August, recovery day is a good thing!

Friday- Swim 2450 yds, 58:05, 2:22/100 avg

This was a repeat of the swim workout I did on Wednesday.  Since I enjoyed it so much on Wednesday, I was really looking forward to it.  When my legs felt like lead during the warmup, I was concerned.  The workout felt tougher than it did on Wednesday, which I was surprised about since I was coming off of a rest day, but I powered through it.  I tried to focus on consistent efforts and making sure my form wasn’t sloppy even though it felt like I was working harder.  When I got home and uploaded the workout to Garmin Connect, I was pleased to see that I was a little bit faster overall.  (I was 50 yards short of Wednesday’s workout because I accidentally miscounted that day and did an extra repeat, but still faster overall even taking that into account).

Saturday-Long Bike Ride, 2:00:03, 31.1 miles, 15.47 avg

Another Sufferfest video here, this time Blender.  This one was intervals of every type, from an all out :20 sprint to a long 10 minute interval.  There was a section they call “Pain Shakes”.  This one was tough.  My speed still isn’t where I want, but more time on the bike will certainly help there.


Sunday-Long Run, 6.1 miles 58:22, 9:35/mile avg

This run was done at an easy pace on a perfectly flat bike trail.  It was a very enjoyable run and although it was drizzling and raining throughout, I was thankful to have warmer temps that allowed me to get outside.

Overall I am really pleased with the week and it was fun to have a full week’s workouts to record in my Believe journal!