Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Race goals (plus little more)

I would not say that I am absolutely looking forward to the race but I am slowly getting excited.  I even could not fall asleep yesterday because I was thinking about the race and proceeded to have a dream in which I gave a ride toTirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar....
Although I must admit that now the only reason why I am little down is because of the price of this race and the likelihood that I will not get anything in return, except for experience. I am over my fear of running 10 kilometers:) Just imagine, they make you pay for a timing chip rental. How weird. So the race fee was 74Eur including timing chip, day license, race fee and it is very unlikely that I will podium in this race unless…I will get to that in a second. But maybe exactly this should fire me up, to make that money worth it. But money does not motivate me so I can only rely on my competitive ego. 

This time I am not going to say that I am racing to win (surprise, I know). Instead I have decided to be humble this time and therefore I am going to say that I want just to podium. Of course I want to win but I can be reasonable when I want to be and I know that unless I magically grow flippers in next three days and swim 22min chances of winning are close to zero. Even podium is a very long-stretch goal but I think that it can be done... I will have to swim 27, ride sub 70 and run sub-42 max to have a chance to podium. 

Swim: I really think that I can swim 27 but I just do not know how to do it. I wish I could hire a domestique that will swim at 27ish pace and I will pace off of her. I just do not know how to pace it on my own. However, I swear that I am going to try on Sunday. I will swim as hard as I can, no settling, no dillydallying, swim hard!

Bike: The course is basically 5x out and back. Which means 10x 360° turns. I think that it sucks but I am not 100% sure. I will probably have to go pretty hard to hit my 68ish min goal on this course. Ok, I just realized that the bike course 42,5k and not 40k so hm, I will probably not be able to go sub 70min. But on the other hand, it is only around 23mph speed and that is not that fast. Or is it? I do not know. I think that I just need to go almost all-out (and then hope for the best on a run). Plus since it is 5x out and back non-draft, the course will be probably crowded. Blah. Although, they put me into the first wave (you know, with fast people) so hopefully it will not be too bad at least for the first loop.

Run: 6:40ish for a 10k. I think that I can do it. If I do not trash myself on a bike and if I stop being a puss. I know what you are saying, so do not trash yourself on a bike. But you see, I think that if I trash myself on a bike I will bike 69 and run high 42. If I do not trash myself on a bike I will bike 71 and run high 41. So I will still be better off if I trashed myself on a bike. It is all about pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And I am determined to try it. I will probably still look at my watch every 10 seconds and bitch about how far I still have to go, but I am going to use that despair to fire me up; use the tough love method on myself. 

The run is 4 x out and back so I will be able to see my competition so hopefully that will help. Because you know what’s interesting? In that tri I did two weeks ago it did not even occur to me to try to chase that girl that came out of transition before me. Maybe if I saw her I would try to catch her but since I did not see her I somehow did not remembered that I should try to go catch her if I want to win. When I was running, I was not even thinking about winning, I was just running to get it over with and did not think about competition one bit. But I had this same attitude in tris last year as well, I was just doing my thing not caring about anything around me on a run. I need to get use to the fact that in non-draft legal tri people are not around me like in running races. I will try to remember to “compete” on Sunday.

I know this makes me sound really stupid or at least brings up a question why the hell am I doing races them? I do not realize that I must catch people if I want to win? Well, no, I somehow do not think about it once the gun goes off. Several reasons for that: 1, I am not used to racing. The last time I did a real race (by which I mean that I was not concerned with paces, PRs, times, just pure racing people) was probably 4 years ago while I was in college. Actually that 5k I did in late June was a real race also but one race will not teach me how to race. 2, I used to be a 1500m and when you ask me to do a race that lasts over two hours it feels like an ultramarathon to me so my mind seems to go numb because it is just soooo freaking long. 3, I have all these goals to win/podium but I still find running or triathlon completely unimportant in a bigger scheme of things in my life and thus if I do not win it does upset me but I get over it pretty fast and at the end of the day I do not give a damn. So here, I said it. I am full of conflicting ideas I know.  Although I tell you this. If I were any good, like sub22min swim, sub65min bike and 37min run good, then I will give a damn. But since I am no good (dare I say...yet) I do not find winning very important. It is like being the fastest of the slowest and that does not attract me. 4, I have hard time racing when I know that I am not 100% ready to race, when I am not the best I can be or at least close(r) to being the best I can be. Because what’s the point in comparing yourself to other people if we are not all equal (equal meaning we are all best we can be and ready to race, or so close to being as equal as possible)? Because if we are all the best we can be, then the differences in our outcomes are smaller (although they still exist of course) and only then we can truly compare ourselves. I will be more willing to race after I put a good training in and after I feel ready. But until then it is me against me, not me against competition. It is me running faster than 42min, not me running faster than a girl next to me. So basically I am saying this: When I now say that I want to win, it does not mean that I am going to turn myself inside out chasing people. It means that I think that the times I want to hit/am capable of hitting right now are good enough to win. In other words, it is not me that is good enough to win, it is competition that is bad enough to let me win. 

So just to recap: Swim 27, ride all-out to 69 and run sub42. And find my freaking bike without doing a headless chicken run first!!!

This was long and not really to the point, but as I was writing it the thoughts just started to form in my head and I put them down, without any filter.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On how not to do bike-run bricks

I do not do anything exciting in training (yes, I swim, yes, I run, and I even ride my bike) and therefore here is my take on bricks, which offers a more interesting blog topic (to me at least). After the tri race I did two weeks ago some people mentioned that I should do bike-run bricks because I can fake a bike leg but faking a run off the bike is harder. 

Although I still think that I was somehow successful in faking the run off the bike and my pathetic run had more to do with lack of a proper running training than with lack of brick sessions I know that I should do bricks. I do not do them because I do not want to, I do not do them because I do not ride my bike, which is a vital ingredient for a successful brick session, right? Anyway, I decided that since I am doing another triathlon this weekend I should do some crush brick training and I did a brick on Friday (easy ride, intervals run), Saturday (easy ride, easy run) and Monday (easy ride, intervals run). Wow, I know. 

However, I think that these brick session are just a waste of time. Maybe not a waste of time because training is training but I do not think that they are effective one bit. 

Last year in summer (when I was able to run for… what was it?...10-11 weeks?) I did almost all of my runs as bricks (mostly because m y ITB did not hurt after I warmed it up on a bike first. Although even that strategy did not last long.). I did a bike hills session and went straight to a track and run my intervals. I did a bike intervals session and then went straight to a track and did my intervals. I did my long bike ride and on my way home I stopped on a track and did my intervals. Every time I ran I ran right after a bike ride, like seconds after getting off the bike!

I was able to do it because back then I did not have clip-in pedals, bike shoes or bike shorts. I rode in my running sneakers and running shorts, dismounted my bike, leaned it against a fence around a track and went running. 

However now I have all the fancy equipment (you know, like bike shoes and shorts) and my bricks go like this:
Ride a bike, stop, open a door, carry my bike to the third floor, open another door, take bike shoes off, carry my bike in, drink something, change shorts, put running shoes on, open and close two doors, and only once all that is done I can finally start running. No matter how hard I try this “transition” always takes me more than 7minutes. Always. 

Although I am getting some benefits from doing this, bricks like these do not replicate “get off the bike and start clicking off sub-6min miles right away”. Not one bit.
These bricks are just stupid. All that fancy equipment is ruining my training! Although to be fair it is not only my equipment, it is also the fact that I do not run on a track very often now and thus must drop off the bike at home first.

I need to do this differently. I have some ideas but as long as I am in Germany I am not changing anything . Then once I am in Illinois I will hopefully be able to do this more effectively, even if it requires me to drag a bike trainer on a track with me.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Running on a track vs running not on a track

I think that this is a very interesting topic, too bad I cannot think of a better title to attract people attention and make them read it.

Anyhow, I am a track whore, I would not mind doing a 20miles on a track. Seriously. But recently I have done almost all of my workouts on unpaved roads in a nearby park. Then last week and this week I did one of my interval workouts on a track and one in a park and I had the following revelation.

Shalane Flanagan said before the London marathon that one must be strong to run well on a London course because it has a lot of little uphills, downhills, turns, uneven surfaces, just like a cross country course. And today I realized what she meant when she said that one must be strong.

Running on an uneven surface requires you not only to be fast but to be strong. Strong in a sense that you must have leg and core muscle strength that you do not really need when running on a track. Tracks are smooth and flat, there is nothing to cause you to “break” your stride. But when you are running on trails or similar non-smooth, non-flat surface with little holes, bumps, turns, hills your muscles must work harder to stabilize you and push you off the ground. 

A lot of times I land in a small hole or on a little bump that I do not expect and my leg gives out under me (you know what I mean?), I need to engage a lot of different muscles in that leg and core so that my stride does not break and that I push myself off the uneven ground without any time lost. Also when I suddenly have to go up little hill (which does not need to be a real hill, just a few meters of gentle slope are enough to make a difference) I need to engage hip flexors and core to keep my stride and cadence smooth and unchanged.

This is less profound on a road because it is usually smooth without little bumps/holes but roads are rarely track-like flat and therefore you still need to engage all those different muscles that are not really needed on a track.
Therefore I find it very hard to run in a park but I know that it is making me a stronger and ultimately a faster runner. 

In addition, I do not think that the benefits are the same when I am running slowly on uneven surfaces. I am still getting stronger but I benefit more when running fast because impact by uneven landing is great and thus the muscles must work harder to keep me going smoothly. 

Now I am sure that this lack of strength was one of the reasons why I was such a horrible cross country runner (together with the fact that I found a 5k too long and thus hated CX and did not give a shit and that I never wore contacts so I did not see where I was going). 

The workout I did in a park on Friday, preceded by a 80min bike ride (working on that bike-to-run transition): w/up, 1k @ 5k pace (3:56), 20min @ 4:14 per kilometer pace, 1k @ 5k pace (3:58) w/ 2min jog between, c/d. It was not too bad until that last 1k although nothing was easy-peasy. My workouts are definitely getting more challenging as they include more 10k-specific stuff. Phew.

Friday, August 24, 2012

What keeps me awake at night*

My swimming. I am getting slower and slower. That’s a true story. I swam 26min for a 1500m in March with CH and I swam 15min for a 800m on Tuesday (both in a lcm pool). I know there is something I am not doing right but since I do not know anything about swimming I do not know what it is. I need a coach.

The guy I have a crush on has a girlfriend. And so does his brother.

I need a coach. Can’t wait till later this year when I again start to train under a coach’s guidance. I need to find one first, of course.

My left shoulder hurts. I did not swim on Mon, Wed, Th morning, Fr… However, I figured yesterday what it is. It was caused when I sighted during the swim on Sunday. I do not do sighting right and it puts a lot of strain on my shoulder. 

I cannot wait to be back on a home trainer. I believe that trainer training is way more effective for a short-course racing that outdoor training. It also helps to have a trainer when you spend 2+ hours commuting each day and you do not have time to ride before it gets dark.

When Paula Radcliff realized that she cannot run the marathon she stepped down/or they made her to step down and gave a change to an alternate, who was beside herself to be able to participate at Olympics. Why did not Desiree Davila and Ryan Hall do the same thing? They definitely knew that cannot finish the race. Is it because there are no alternates in the US “system”?

Next Sunday. I still have not signed up for the race. It is 70Eur and I am not sure that I want to spend so much money just to get experience (because I know I cannot podium there unless I magically develop fins). On the other hand, I pay unholy amounts of money for physical therapy just so I can race, so it does not make any sense to not be willing to pay money for races afterwards. But I will be spending a lot of money in next few weeks (see below).

In one month I am moving across the Ocean to a cemetery town where I have not been before and where I know noone. It is a 2h drive from the nearest airport and I have no clue how to get from the airport to my new home (and I still have to find a place to live of course) since I cannot rent a car at the airport and drop it off in a branch in the cemetery town. 

I am scared that I will not be able to find a place to swim around the cemetery town.

*Not really. I sleep well and do not bother my brain by such BS. Maybe except points #2, #4 and # 9.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Workout I totally asked for

I am racing two 10k's in the next few weeks and it seems that now not only PCC geared my workouts towards such longer races but she gave in to my “I am not trained to push myself out of my comfort zone and I cannot do that in a race without suffering in training first” whining.

I tell you, yesterday’s workout was challenging and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.
1k @ 3:50-4:00,
 1600 @ 6:20-25,
 3k @ 12:15-30,
 1600 @ 6:20-25,
 800 @ 3:05-3:10
 with (only) 2min jog between. This workout is worse than it looks on paper believe me.

1k: 3:57. The first interval is always somehow blah because although I warm-up, stretch, do strides I do not feel warmed up enough! (I need to change something in my warming up routine)

1600: 6:19. This was also ok although I would not say it felt like a jog.

3k: 12:16 (4:05, 4:08, 4:03). I made a deal with myself not to check my pace every few seconds so I checked only each kilometer. First k was spot on, then I was surprised when I saw 4:08 because I felt like I started going backwards and 4:03 was the surprise of my life because it did not feel too uncomfortable though it was definitely getting harder.

1600: 6:21 (3:15, 3:06). I knew I was going slow but not that slow and when I went through 800 in 3:15 I was not pleased. I do not remember much of the 3rd 400 but the 4th 400 was pretty hard and involved some grimacing and labored breathing because I knew I had to run hard to hit the goal time.

Then I decided to cheat and I did not jog for 2min, but I walked for 2min because I was starting to fall apart.

800: 3:02. This must have something to do with walking for 2min instead of jogging and thus being (relatively) rested because I went through 1st 400m in 1:30 and it has not even felt that hard. Neither the 2nd 400 was too hard.

Definitely pushed out my comfort zone, so that’s good. That second 1600m was the worst, probably because of only 2min jog after a 3k. I was contemplating just plugging along, and what if I miss my prescribed pace and run it in 6:27 instead of 6:25? It is a common practice in swimming and a few seconds is not such a big deal. But then I reasoned with myself that none of these prescribed times were something I could not do, all of the paces were reasonable (as opposed to my goal swimming paces) and I knew I can hit them with a little more effort and work than what I usually have to put out during run workouts. And getting out of my comfort zone was exactly the purpose of this run so I had to stick with it.

My calves were not happy with me afterwards. It is always my stupid calves! I put on compression socks for the night and even have them now and it seems that it helped because they do not bother me anymore.

Also, there is something that leaves me wondering. I did not eat a pound of Milka chocolate for breakfast yesterday and I wonder whether the workout would be easier if I did. Since I tend to have good workouts after I eat chocolate or cookies worth 2000+ calories for breakfast…