Sunday, April 20, 2014

Countdown to Wildflower!

It seems like I signed up for Wildflower a while back as a race in the very "distant" future. Yet, here it is, almost upon us!  Thinking about the fact that there are officially less than 2 weeks until May 3, race day for me, does not freak me out.  Seeing this is a lead-up to CdA, however, DOES make that event feel much closer which is a bit panic-inducing!

This is my fourth year going to Wildflower, and clearly I never learn that April, school-wise, is just kind of crazy, and I'm completely stressed out about a million different things.  Well, here I am again, stressed about school issues and also trying to focus on solid training swims, runs and rides.  At this point, I've learned that every month, every week, maybe even every day, presents a different challenge in terms of training.  I was a bit of a stress case in February with the running situation which had me sidelined; March was a pretty glorious month - I had a few great experiences with organized rides, a nice 'triathlon-season opener' at the Desert Triathlon, returned to running and also felt strong in the pool as began to get in more yardage.  

I have not felt that training in April has gone "as well", whatever that means.  My running game is back - not quite 100% but definitely 90% - as I've started to incorporate tempo runs, hill repeats and even have a few long (for me) runs under the belt.  So, that is a huge plus.  But, swimming has been a mixed bag, and biking, where I saw progress in February and March, has felt like a huge step backwards.  I really struggled with what should have been a pretty 'easy' longish ride last weekend, whichleft me feeling completely frustrated.  Not to mention that I wanted to throw my bike into the ocean or, better yet, run over it with the car.  Looking back, I think that there were some mechanical issues that may have caused a slower pace - my bike wasn't shifting well and there seemed to be other problems.  Not to look for a scapegoat, but all of those small issues may have contributed to my sense of frustration.

Fortunately, I felt much more focused this week and on top of my so-called game in the pool and also in the saddle.  Despite the strong urge to stay in bed to sleep a bit more both yesterday and today, I managed to motivate myself.  The source of said motivation:  FEAR.  Seriously, I told myself that with Wildflower 2 weeks away, I *had* to get in these workouts (which is somewhat true).  So, yesterday, I headed off for a solo ride and hit just over 50 miles with 4400 elevation gain (more or less).  I opted for the Lower Big Tujunga loop (should have gone Upper, but that's a ride for another day), which seems to be my pre-70.3 ride.  I've done this ride with variations for both Boulder 70.3 and last year for Vineman, and it's a good prep ride.  I should compare my stats from this year and last year.  Or maybe not - without looking at data, I felt that I was pretty strong out there yesterday and hit the ranger station on the 2 much earlier than I expected.  It wasn't a fast ride, but I did feel good during my 5-mile post-ride-run.  

Today was much the same - did not want to run, did not want to run...  But ended up with a 14.4 mile run, my longest run in a very long time and longer, obviously, than the 13.1 miles at Wildflower (hopefully only 13.1 - who knows with the course!).  I felt good for the first 6-7 miles, my legs could actually move, to my great surprise, but things were way harder the second half.  Still, I finished, pushing hard for those final miles.  And now, with those two bigger workouts under my belt, I think that I might, just maybe, be ready for Wildflower!  They were not exactly key to my fitness prep, but they did serve to bolster my confidence, which is always good.

As for Wildflower, who knows how that will go!  So much depends on the weather and race conditions at that race, as I've experienced personally, even at the Olympic distance.  My main goal for the event is not based on time but on the hope that it will give me a sense of where I am for CdA in June.  It IS exciting to take on a bigger challenge with the Long Course, and Wildflower will always have a nostalgic place in my heart as the first tri I ever did.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

March training and other odds and ends

We're already well into April, but somehow writing and reflecting a bit on March still seems pertinent at this point in the game.  When Beth sent me a Google doc at the beginning of the month with the 16-week build-up to Couer d'Alene, things suddenly felt that they were going to get more serious.  With the exception of running, I had been pretty happy with February's training, and the schedule did not overwhelm me.  March felt like a different beast, and I know that April and May will bring on even longer and more challenging workouts.  But, it was great to return to running in March, and I ended the month with a double digit run and weekly averages over 20 miles - WOO HOO!  I still played it cautiously, however, not incorporating speedwork or hills and taking it pretty slow and steady (plodding along, really).  In terms of swimming, I've yet to see major gains in speed, but hitting 3,000 yard workouts seems normal at this point, so at least I'm more comfortable with longer distances in the pool.  I think about my training for Boulder 70.3 and Vineman 70.3, and I was pretty happy when I swam over 2,000 yards.  So, yes, there is major progress there!

The bike has turned into my bete noire in recent weeks, but I blame that entirely on the less-than-inspired rides that I've had.  At the beginning of the month, I loved cycling and wanted to do more!  No doubt, 3 events over 3 different weekends built up that enthusiasm - between the Desert Tri, the Solvang Metric Century, and Malibu Canyon Half-Century (plus 10), I had bolstered my cycling confidence and really enjoyed, plus I learned from, each experience.  However, since those rides, my enthusiasm has waned a bit, and many rides have felt tough both mentally and physically.  And I've slow - like I am just slogging through the rides - which gives way to thoughts of not being able to finish the bike course on June 29.  I know that where I ride influences my attitude about cycling, and I like that there are routes right out my front door that challenge me and that are pretty great, but I've also fallen into a rut with some of those rides.

Despite some negativity on my part regarding cycling, I ended March with a pretty big training block, taking advantage of spring break and rounding out that week with over 15 hours, most of that on the bike!  For many people, a 15-hour training week wouldn't be a big deal, but I was plenty tired by the time it came to a close.  And never before had I looked forward to a recovery week with such anticipation!  As I trained over spring break, I also realized that I had made a very, VERY good choice to not spend my entire summer training.  Being a teacher, summer is a great opportunity to train, but it kind of made me crazy to think that much about training.  I think that I could/would quickly obsess about it without the structure that work gives me and without having other commitments that really are/should be my priority.

But this past week (no longer March, I realize) - the much-anticipated recovery week.  To my frustration, while last week was definitely a lighter week training-wise, there was plenty of life-stress from school/work...  Lots of meetings, and then I spent the weekend as a chaperone which was exhausting (and, no, I don't mean part of the weekend but THE weekend, pretty much).  So, I don't feel as focused as I had hoped that I would be as I start this next major training block.  But, with Wildflower right around the corner (okay, still about 4 weeks out - that still seems like it's almost here!), I am looking forward to some longer rides and runs.

And, finally, Wildflower...  When I was there last year, the water levels in "Lake" San Antonio were pretty low, and then California endured a dry summer and a dry fall and then the rains did not come in the winter months.  I signed up not really acknowledging the fact that the CA drought could very well play a role here, and I thought about it periodically, but did not spend much time dwelling on the swim portion of this race.  Until a few weeks ago when I received an email about a course change - instead of swim/bike/run it is going to be swim/run/bike/run.  It should be interesting!

In the meantime, I'll keep training and will, fingers crossed, keep injury at bay!