Sunday, December 30, 2012

Time to wrap up 2012

I have spent 2 months doing pretty much nothing at home in Slovakia, 7 months working in Germany (loved it!!!), finished my Masters, went to see Tour de France action in Paris, watched Olympic tri and marathon in London, and finally got visa and started the job in IL. So nothing to complain about, really!

The big training related goal was to fix my ITB so I can run. I don't know whether it is 100% fixed yet but I have been running without major set backs for 10 months now!!! You hear that? 10 months!!! I credit regular massage therapy, slight change in my running stride and very conservative approach to running for this awesomeness.

(Speaking about conservative has its pros and cons.
Cons are that I am not as fast as I want to be right now (break 19' in a 5k again). I really think that if I let CH or Michelle coach me this year I would be faster...for a month...or in theory. In reality I would be injured. You see, I think that me and PPC are really the only people who fully realize how fragile and annoying my ITB is because we have been through it. No doubt that Michelle would realize it too but not unless it flares up on her. And we do not want that. Do not have time for that. I tried with CH and it flared up because he too did not understand the extension of this injury.
Pros of this low mileage and conservative approach is that I am running! Good enough for me.)

I did 7 races in 2012 (plus more to go at midnight on 31st), 3 running races and 3 tri races, 1 mtb race, which is still kind of unbelievable to me, 7 races is a lot. The first 4 were kind of blah and I had no fire in me (although I am not complaining because I always "podiumed") but the last 2 were a blast. 2013 is going to be blast too. I am fired up!

I had several more specific s/b/r goals for 2012 and none of them worked out. I am blaming partly circumstances (96%) and partly my lack of mojo (4%).
Yes, I think that last year was a wasted year (when it comes to biking and partially to swimming too, and running of course but at least I can run now) but I got to spend time in Germany and since s/b/r does not feed me I am letting it go.

Onto 2013 now!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Training in Tulsa

Xmas has been great. Good food, good company. My sister made me help her prepare all traditional Slovak Xmas food (read: I started preparing something, then let my sister finish it while I went out biking/running/swimming, came back 3 hours later when everything was already done. Sweet life. I imagine married life like this).

Turns out that Tulsa is not too bad for training. My sister lives right on a bike/walk trail that goes for miles and miles along the river and there is bunch of pretty neat pools in the city. So no complains.

I was able to do a couple good bike rides on the trail including hill repeats and some faster intervals although I am sure that it was possible only because it is December and therefore "Sunday stroll" families are not out and the trail is not crowded and I can go fast(ish/er). The people on the trail seem to be "real" bikers on road and tri bikes. But bike path is wide and smooth, just the way I like it.
There is also something called Turkey Mountain and I have seen a lot of mountain bikers there so next time I come for a visit I am bringing my mtb with me.
I had some good runs too, one 20min tempo at 4:24 pace and one 2x3km intervals at 4:05ish pace. Nothing spectacular but it is just something to keep me from getting completely sluggish during this base building phase.
People at local YMCAs are also very nice and I do not know why but I went there swimming 3 times and they always let me in for free. And the pool is 25m, which meant that I did my longest pool workout ever this morning: 4100 meter. Not bad.

The only complain I have is weather. It was super nice and warm last weekend, and I went running in shorts and short-sleeved shirt on both Dec 24 and 25. One day later on 26th it was -10C. Crazy!
I brought my home trainer with me but I figured that as long as the vaseline in pedals and the free hub is not frozen I am good to go:)  Which meant that I was once riding on ice. I knew that it was ice but as long as I do not do any fast movements I should be ok. But after a while I became chicken so I carefully stopped on a side in grass, turned and carefully rode back to try to find a path without ice. I also realized that I need to buy some winter riding gear, especially good gloves and shoes/shoes covers. If I were at home I would have ridden in my winter boots and ski gloves but I did not take them with me so I rode in my biking shoes (plus two pairs of socks and some plastic bags) and regular gloves (two pairs of course) and my toes and fingers got so frozen each time that I was then crying and jumping up and down in my sister's apartment once they started to defrost because when they start to defrost it hurts like hell. Ouch. But the vaseline is not frozen so I need to ride outside.  But believe it or not, I was not alone riding outside. I have met one person (the same person) on each of these cold days.

And I have signed up for a 5k race on Dec 31. It is called Race to the new year or something similar and it starts at 11:45pm. Pretty cool, isn't? My sister made me sign up because they should have champagne and she knows that I do not drink and thus I will share with her. She also hopes that I win something and then give it to her...

I have also decided to 13 in 2013 Challenge. Ok, I usually consider these types of challenges silly (you might have already realized that I consider 90% of things happening in the world stupid and silly and unnecessary) and I do not really need a challenge to challenge me into doing races. But maybe I should try to change my attitude and not kill the fun only because I consider something stupid. So I am in! The only problem here is that although I would love to do 13 races my ITB might have different plans. But it is also about the others, the universe does not revolve about me, now does it? Maybe I will "inspire" someone to do something good for themselves (believe it or not but I have inspired two people to try to bike to work when I biked to work in Michigan last year. I do not know whether they actually did it but they were talking about doing it).

Friday, December 21, 2012


Couple not only training related facts

I have a reoccurring dream that involves polar bears. Now I figured out why. I do not turn the heat on in my apartment unless water in the water pipes freezes, and then I am cold at night. So I am sure that because I was freezing I was dreaming about being at the North Pole. This is the first time I realized how our physical state influence our dreams. I also had a dream this past week telling someone how thirsty I was and then I drank like four glasses of water. I woke up and realized that I was really thirsty in reality. Isn’t that interesting? 

I have eaten my weight in cookies this week so far. I know that I said that I needed to lose some weight before that 70.3 in Lubbock in June but that might have to wait until (not sure when). I am not one of those people who stress out about putting on weight during holidays. It is holidays! Life is short! Enjoy! Do not stress out about food. We have then all year to try to shed those extra pounds. 

Speaking of 70.3. When my sister was here over Thanksgiving I explained to her what those 13.1, 70.3, 140.6 stickers on car mean. She thought that it might have something to do with radio station frequencies. I do not blame her. People in Europe (at least in parts where I had a chance to spend time) do not put stickers to show their “achievements” on display on their cars. Plus most Europeans do not know how many miles are in a half-marathon. 

So we do not run in miles in continental Europe (Englishmen are excluded, because they are…hm…different. They claim). But I clearly remember that when I was in maybe 10th grade I was watching an old series about some runners running/training for the mile. Which means that 30+ years ago in communist era people in Czechoslovakia used to run the mile race. I also know that some time ago some things were measured in feet. But now we consider anything other than metric units very archaic.

Did the third run on a road this week. Still have not found courage to do strides on a road.
I re-realized (because I have already realized this before) that when I concentrate on making my glutes/hip stabilizers working I had to force my muscles to work so hard that I clutch my fists, grimace my face and all that stuff you do when you are working hard. That’s probably not good.

I have a swimsuit and it is the best swimsuit ever. I bought it in mid-July and used it 6-7 days a week until mid-Sept and then 4-5x week since then. And it is still not falling apart. That thing is awesome. It is Speedo brand and I bought it in TKMax (German version of TJMax) for 10Euros. I actually bought two and I am glad I did. 

I smell like chlorine a little bit. I did not smell like chlorine in Germany when I swam every single day for weeks and sometimes even 2x a day. I do not know whether it is because most of those swims were in outdoor pool and they use different amount of chlorine in outdoor pools than they do in indoor pools. Or because they use less chlorine in pools in general. I guess that it is the later because everything in the US has a lot of artificial junk in it. 

Ok, I am off to Oklahoma for holiday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another shot at 5' bike intervals

It would be a lie to say that it did not send some shudders down my spine when I saw the 5x5’ MAX intervals on my schedule again AND a little note on a side saying that I was going to do this four weeks in a row. It is a very hard workout! But I suppose that cruising around on a beach bike won’t cut it if I want to do that race in 2014.

So I did the intervals yesterday. I did not go to the gym on Monday and I did not do them at 6am. Instead I did them at 7pm and I ate one whole pizza for lunch as fuel (actually I started eating it at noon and ate the last 2 slices at 5pm. At first I thought that eating that late might jeopardize my intervals or that I might throw up but it did not stop me from eating it and at the end I was).

Here is how I did this week, compared to the last week and the week before (I decided to track my progress here because it is easy to find and see everything together):

Average power, cadence, HR
Dec 18
261, 85, 170 I had the instructions to stay at 260 for the first one
270, 86, 176
271, 87, 178
269, 87, 179
269, 86, 178
(It is quite good that my cadence is increasing compared to last two weeks. But wow, my HR was high compared to week 1. Might be because I did 4x1’ at 260+ this week as part of a warm up so it got my heart pumping. This is how those intervals go: I start quite hard for the first minute, then settle for the next 2 minutes, then start picking it up little bit and then go hard the last minute. I do not pay attention to the power until the last 2 minutes. I go hard by feel but then it gets really hard and it helps me to go harder when I have a friendly competition with my powermeter in the last 60-90seconds.)

Dec  12 (epic fail)
252, 84, 165
246, 83, 167
240, 83, 168
236, 84, 169
231, 84, 167

Dec 6 (had only 4x5’)
261, 85, 164
257, 84, 166
261, 92, 172
260, 85, 173

So I am making the progress. Last week was just a bad day. From now on I am always doing these in the afternoon and eating pizza (or better yet cookies) for lunch.

I wonder whether it is reasonable to think that I will be able to do one or two (can I even hope for maybe 2 and a half) 5’ intervals at 300Watts one year from now. That would be super great.

I followed the bike with an easy 40min run on a road. Then did another 40min easy this morning before my PT appointment in the evening. ITB ok. The next step is to try strides on a road. I am too scared to do them because faster running is harder on joints then easy running, right?

By the way. Maybe it was not sex (yes, I used a word sex again) sounds coming from the neighbors that woke me up last week. Maybe someone was doing 5’ MAX intervals on a trainer. Because for a few seconds after the 4th and the 5th interval I sounded just like that.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I took the risk

I of course prefer to be smart and use my common sense but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.
Trails are still closed because of hunting season so I cannot run there. Therefore it is either run on a road or do not run at all. As much as I would love not to run at all (not because I do not want to run, I do want to run but I do not want to run on a road) I know that not running would not get me too far (no pun intended) and maybe it is time to "try" how my ITB can handle little bit more than what I have been throwing at it in the last few months.
I was supposed to do 4 easy runs this week for a total of 3h 45min (which by the way is probably the highest mileage since February 2011 but I am not sure about that because I do not track my miles). Out of those 3h45m I ran 2h45m on a road and 1h on a track. Basically everything what I (and PPC regarding track running) think might hurt my ITB.
And what's worse I had to run on a road on two consecutive days. I did 1h yesterday and then 1h today. I was super scared for the second run and I did my best to pick up the knees, land on mid-foot, use hip flexors and hip stabilizers because it seems that that's the way to go to keep the ITB happy.

So far so good. I did the run and did not feel anything in the knee. I hope that it does not flare up tomorrow. I iced it (even though I have not iced my ITB for over a year because I have realized last year that it is not helping me at all, in fact icing made things even worse because when I iced it I "froze" all the nerves and could not feel the pain although it was irritated and then I did more than I should have done because I thought that everything was ok.) and took some anti-inflammatory drink that an orthopedist gave me last year. I have no idea whether it helps but at least I am getting some placebo effect from it.

So although my knee is ok, other parts of my legs are screaming at me. By the end of the run my calves and ankles were killing me. Poor things, they are not used to all that pounding:(

I want that hunting season to be over! Although I do realize that if I want to run a half-marathon on a road I need to do some running on a road to get used to it so at least I am getting that out of the road pounding.

By the way. Have I mentioned how much I hate dogs? I was chased 6x (6!!!!! by 5 different dogs, one dog chased me both on my way out and my way back) today during my bike ride, and that's only because I avoided the house with 4 stupid dogs that alway chase me (there is little dog and three big ones and that little devil always leads the charge), so it would have been 8 chases. It always gets my HR to 200+, not only because I have to stand up and sprint like crazy to outride those little barking creatures but also because I am scared of dogs and that only makes my HR skyrocket.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Swim test and a race in 2014

I did another swim test on Tuesday. I improved my 50 yards swim by 1 sec to 35sec. I improved my 200 by 4sec to 2:43. I worsened by 1000 by 17sec to 16:07 (Which is around 1min slower that what I swam last year). Michelle has a theory about it and it might take a few months to prove it so stay tuned! (Just kidding. You don’t have to wait for the outcome of this. I will likely forget about it too.)

I need to look at some naked pictures and figure out where exactly lats are because I am not sure I do this swimming thing right. 

I have received an email today that I had qualified for the USA Olympic Distance Age-Group Nationals. Hm?!? How can a non-American who has not even raced an Olympic distance triathlon qualify for USA Olympic distance nationals? But it all just proves what I already knew and that’s that the qualifying process for any triathlon age-group champs is one big joke. So leaving my opinion on the qualifying process itself aside it seems that the race itself indeed offers some good competition. And it seems that even non-citizens can participate. Although I am not sure about it because I have not done any deep research into it since I will not do it. I would like to do it though! But unless something happens I will be at the super duper awesome can’t wait for training camp with Michelle at that time.
But that email got me thinking. I am going to find out what the Slovak triathlon governing body World Age-group Champs qualification criteria are and put that race as my goal for 2014.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Here we intervals fail

I had a horrible bike workout today and I am trying to figure out why.
Last week on Thursday I did 4x5min all-out and my average power was around 260. Today I was supposed to do 5x5min all out trying to hit 265. Well, it did not happen. I did not download my file yet so I do not know the 100% accurate numbers but I know that it went something like this: I started at ~265, could hold it for around 90sec, had to shift to an easier gear because I was unable to push the gear I was in any longer and then my power went down down down.  The averages for the intervals were around 250, 240, 240, 230, 230.
And if you manage a negative split in something as short as a 5min interval then you are sandbagging and not going all out.)
Basically I wanted to cry in each of those intervals (except for the last one) the moment I geared down because to hold the power I had to pedal fast and push hard and it was so f*ing hard. Then the crying moment passed, I guess because I eased up, and I was at least able to finish the interval.
I was considering bagging it during the second interval but I figured that it does not really matter that I am unable to hit my power as long as I go all out on my perceived effort. That would still be a good workout.

Now that you have the details let’s think together.
Last week I did not run the whole week (I did a measly 30min run on Monday but nothing else prior to the workout). Thursday I biked to work (30min), then biked from work (30min), hopped off my commuter bike, hopped on my trainer and did the workout (15min w/up and then the intervals).
This week I ran for 45min last night, I went to the gym on Monday (did lunges and my hamstrings are still sore 2+ days later) and I did the bike intervals at 6am this morning.
I think that those lunges on Monday are a primary cause to this failed workout. My butt is still screaming at me when I walk. I would have thought that not biking for 30min from work immediately prior to the workout would make the legs feel fresher but maybe that commute actually helps because I was warmed up. Today not only was I still half asleep but definitely not warmed up enough (I woke up at 5:50, and was on a trainer at 6:00) although I did a 15min w/up before starting the intervals. But since I have not warmed up as the workout went on it must be those lunges that just killed my legs.

The point of this post is not really to try to find what was caused this pathetic workout but rather to say this. I know that going to the gym for the first time in a very very very long time trashed me and thus I was not able to execute the workout. But what am I supposed to do? Taper for my interval workouts? Yeah, right. Thus I am going to continue going to the gym and my workouts might suffer for a few weeks but gains from strength workout will be higher that skipping the gym in order to be able to hit my bike power.

It is the same problem I had with biking and running. Biking just kills my legs and I am unable to do those tempo/interval run combos. But I am not going to ease up on biking just to be able to execute those running workouts. I have not done any tempo/interval combos for a month now so I cannot say whether this is still an issue. I guess it is but it is better now.
This all is only temporary though. I have not enough strength. Therefore I need to be going to the gym. After a few weeks my body will adapt and gym won’t trash me as much. I will be able to execute my biking workouts better. Meanwhile I will also getting into a better biking shape and it will not affect my running by that much. At the same time, I will be becoming a stronger runner and it will not affect biking. It is like a chain reaction. And then the cycle will be complete and I will be able to do all of my workouts without them having to much negative effect on each other. Right?

On a completely unrelated note. I was woken up last night at around midnight by my neighbors having sex. Disgusting. At least I think that it was sex. I do not know what else it could have been. That’s what you get when you want to be nice and ask for an apartment on a ground floor so you do not disturb your neighbors when you are on a trainer. Then you have to listen to everything what’s going on above you.
Also, my favorite bike shop (well, the only one I go to but they are very nice there and one guy already knows my first name) is having a bike maintenance classes in January. It is 4 classes, each one 2-2.5 hours. So I should be an expert on bike maintenance/repair by the end and I will be able to overhaul my bike myself after that, instead of just not knowing how to do things and doing them anyway, which would be super cool (and safe). Just watch me true those race wheels I bought….  The problem is that the shop is a 1hour ride from me. It also costs quite a lot ($350) but they will give us all the tools we will be using during the lab. I am intrigued and maybe I should sign up. If only it was not that far from me! And I am also slightly worried that I will mess up my bike during the class and then will have to pay a lot of money to have them repair it after my overhaul. So I do not know. What to do, what to do?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

3000m indoors RR

OMG, this was so much fun. Seriously! I loved it. Racing is fun.

I found this race on Monday and decided to sign up while I was still riding the high wave from Saturday race. PPC was little concerned about what tight indoor track turns would do to my ITB and so was I but as I said I was willing to take the risk. (So far so good)
Knee (not ITB, something different but nothing serious, but I was worried it might impact the ITB) did not feel that great the whole week so I ran only 30min on Monday and then did not run for the rest of the week.

The race itself. 3000m was not until 5:30pm, so I spent the morning watching several episodes of Everybody loves Raymond on Netflix and then around 2pm drove an hour to the university where this was taking place. Watched few events, then warmed up (~17min w/up, stretching, 4 strides), put on my racers (I have these racing flats that I bought in France and the last time I wore them was April 2010) and it was time to line up.

I did not care about my time for this race. I went there just to race, have fun, and see what happens. There were 14 girls racing (I do not remember the last time I race with other 13 people on an indoor track) and my seeding time (I put the 11min, although I did not believe that I could run that) was the third slowest:)

So the guns goes off and after the initial mayhem (elbows flying, spiking and all that stuff you can expect when 14 people start running into the curve on a small indoor track) we settled and started ticking of 41-42s for 200. I know that because people were yelling out splits each lap. Basically we went through 400m in 1:23ish, which is the fastest 400m I have run in 2 years or so (the last time I ran 400s ~80sec was in 6x500m workouts that we did every freaking Th when I was still in France, and nobody was forcing me to run at certain controlled pace so I did whatever). Then 1000m was in 3:30, which my friends is the fastest 1000m I have run since college (and considering the fact that I was horrible runner in college this might be the fastest 1000m I have run since high school). Now you can imagine what happened next, right?:) Next 1k splits were 3:45 and 3:50. The final time 11:05.94. I will take that. I got lapped only once (the first pack took off after the first 1k (and I just died...) and went 10:10ish) and was not the last (9th our of 14).

You might think that I would be upset about the flawed pacing but I am not. It went exactly like I wanted it to go. I was totally surprised when we went 3:30 but that's it. I did not care about my time. I was there to put myself out there and have fun.

And you know what? It WAS fun. It was so much fun that I am doing another one on January 11. And not only that. I am going to do both the mile and 3000m. You heard me right. The mile. If one race is fun, then two races would be double the fun, right? There should be around 2 hours between the mile and 3k so it is doable. But I think that I will need to be better about my pacing in the mile and do not go out with the others in 5:10-15 pace because then I will end up walking (literally!) the last 600m.

By the way. My arms hurt. It is totally weird but they never hurt in training or that 5k race on Saturday but I clearly remember that my arms hurt like hell the last time I raced a 3k indoors. And they hurt today. I think that it is because indoors I "wave" them all around me to balance myself through those tight turns. 
I am indeed getting old. It was a regular NCAA meet but open to the individuals so all the others were college girls and I was the oldest one today:(

OK, end of ramblings. I still have a bike ride to do. Woo-hoo.