Sunday, September 30, 2012

Last try tri RR (tri #5)

I cannot believe that I have already done five triathlons, that makes me a seasoned triathlete, does not it?

I should name the post "How I got my a$$ kicked". I really need to put my shi* together because you cannot race on a type of training I currently do. And I will indeed start as soon as I unpack the microwave, my suitcase etc.

I have not put much thoughs into the race since I was not even sure whether I can do it or not until yesterday. And my whole preparation cannot be even called haphazardous, it was much worse. I finally put the bike together last night and have not even riden it to see whether it shifts or whether it won't fall apart half way through the race. And I just put the seat based on "feel"- I looked and it seemed about right. Then today morning I did a loop in a parking lot to make sure that it indeed shifts and it somehow did (although it is not perfect. I guess that's what happens when the bike takes 4 flights in the last 7 days and I myself instal a rear derailler), although I forgot to check the front shifter. And I forgot to buy chocolate so I had to eat two Luna bars and one banana with peanut butter for breakfast. I was also considering to wear those goggles I wore in Hannover, you know those that fog after 3 minutes and I do not see anything. But I decided that I need all the help I can get to compensate for my less than spectacular swim/bike/run fitness so I used a brand new pair.

So the race.

Swim: I swam around 24min, which totally means that it was short. I felt good, although I was powering through it and did not feel very smooth and efficient. I think that I had a good swim although when I compare my effort here and in Hannover, Hannover swim felt like I was working much harder, like my head was indeed i it. I did not find any feet although there was one girl swimming next to me and when I tried to get on her feet I always lost her and could not catch her. So we kind of end up swimming next to each other and she walked to the transition so I beat her there.  Why do people walk?

I did not do a flying mount because it was uphill and the path was very narrow and I have not sit on a bike for two weeks so I made a last second decision not to do it if I did not want to take some out and end up in a pile on a side. So I stopped and clipped in. That, I am not proud of. I though I was braver, but apparently I am a sissy.

Bike: It was two 21mile loops and my plan was to hold around 200 watts (if my Joule works because I changed the battery yesterday and did not bother to check whether it syncs with my Powertap), be conservative because I knew that I have no bike fitness and will likely either be a first loop hero or die on a run. Although there is really no reasoning behind those 200W since I "trained" with power whooping 4 times this year. I chose 200 because it is a nice round number. But I needed some goal, otherwise I would be dilly dalling around. I had no idea in which place I was but made a decision if a girl goes by me I will try to stay with here. But no girl went by me and although I passed some people I have no idea whether some of them were girls or not. Then I passed one guy and then he passed me and we were kind of riding together, changing positions. I do not even know what the no-draft zone is supposed to be but I held quite a good distance from him so I am sure it was legal. Maybe I should have even stayed closer but did not want to risk it. Then we picked up one more guy and rode together for 1 loop and a half. Course was great, we went through three bridges accross the Rend lake, so it was very nice.
Maybe around mile 25 I started to realize than my seat is way too low because my hip flexors and knees started to feel very uncomfortable. Also my handle bars were scewed to the left and my left arm was getting numb. Of well, what did I expect, right?
The last 15 miles were pretty much a struggle to keep the watts up, although 200watts was pretty much a lost cause by then. So I was indeed a first loop hero:)
You will not believe this but I ate two gels and drank 3/4 of my Powerade bottle (or Gatorade, I never know which one it is, I always take the one that is closer on the shelf)! Seriously! You see, I am starting to get this whole fueling thing:)
I did the ride in around 1h56min.

Run: It was horrible. First 1.5 miles were ok, but then it was getting worse and worse. Course was rolling hills and since I am weak as a fly I was struggling on uphills and was freaked out on downhills because those are very bad for my ITB. It was out and back and I did not meet any women going out and then saw one 2min back whe we turned and she did not look like she could make 2min in 5k so I shut it down completely. Basically it was a jog all the way and of course I did not meet my sub 43 goal. I went 43:35.

This is a horrible RR. I probably sound very negative, but believe me it was all good and fun. The result reflects circumstances, my attitude and my preparation.  But I am satisfied because as I said my goal was to win and have fun and those were reached:) I know that I probably should not have done the race considering everything going on but I wanted to do it to meet some people in the area. And even that did not work out because I asked at least 30 people (some of them twice:)) and nobody was from the area. Which means that the sport culture is non-existant here and my only hope is the director of the swim facility at a local cummunity college who won a sprint distance the last two years. I need to go talk to her next week.

By the way, that local pro who won the race last year dropped out after bike I think and if she did not she would have given me at least 10min. But she did drop out and I won a blanket. Which is good because I have slept the last 3 nights under a beach towel (you know, the one I won in Hannover) and I was quite cold last night. So now I can sleep under both a blanket and a towel (I need to go to MI to pick up my stuff including comforter).

Next up is to find training facilities, order a home trainer, and I am back to training! Mindful training! This year has been horrible so far but I am to train again with my beloved BSC and I cannot wait!!!! You cannot even imagine how much I am looking forward to it!

I met Elizabeth Waterstraat, she won a sprint distance and her husband was second in the long tri. I read her blog so I decided to say hi. I could not decide whether to approach her or not but then decided to stop by, because that's what a normal adult would do I suppose. 

And I am not going to buy that bike from Walmart yet. I am going to wait and make sure that I do not get fired tomorrow. Since tomorrow is my first work day of my first real full-time adult job!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Racing strategy/goals

I still have not put the bike together so maybe I should not even talked about the race. But I already bought a bike helmet, a floor pump, peanut butter and 2 bottles of Powerade at Walmart a few moments ago, so I am pretty much set. I even went to the race site to ask them whether it is possible to register tomorrow morning before the race and while I was there I swam around 200m.

So yeah, I am all set to race.

Considering my non-existant training for the last 10 days (I have no biked for 2 weeks and swum for a week), move from Germany to Slovakia followed by the move to the USA and my horrible eating in the last week (if I knew that I will be able to race tomorrow I would probably skipped eating 12 donuts in the last 24 hours and would have eaten something better instead) my one and only goal is to win and have fun. Just kidding! Ok, no. I am serious. That's always the goal because that's why we do sports, right?

All the extra fat I acquired in the last week should help me to float, so I am not worried about a 1500m swim. Bike is 42miles, which is weird and long. It will take me close to 2 hours (that's one of the goals, go sub 2h) and I have not done a 2hour bike ride in forever. So that will be interesting. And run....since apparently run in triathlon depends more on bike fitness than on run fitness I am pretty much screwed. I hope I can do it under 43min.
So yes, the race should be fun!

I looked up the results from last year and either everyone in the race is painfully slow or each leg is too long. I think the former but I will let you know tomorrow. Last year winner is a local pro who was significantly faster than the others but still nothing spectacular. I hope I will not eat my words tomorrow:)

 By the way, I am going to buy this bike because I am going to try to bike to work and to pool when possible. I almost bough it today but could not fit it into my car so I will go there tomorrow and ride it home. Hopefully it does not break down immediatelly.

Wish me luck for tomorrow. I will need it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I want to go home! (Although I do not really have "home", I just want to get out of here)


Let me tell you, the town did not make a great impression on me so far. It is pretty much what I expected it to be and my expectations were very low. Like really very low.

My "low" started yesterday when I bought a car, which was little too expensive. I mean all cars here are more expensive than cars in RI or CT (I do not know why) so I should not be too frustrated about it. However maybe if I did a better job searching maybe I could have saved me a thousand bucks or so. Maybe, I do not know for sure. So I was quite stressed about my purchase. 

My biggest fear coming here was that there will be no place to swim. I went to check out one place and it turns out that it is ok and I will likely be able to swim there. However it is almost 20miles from my town, which is quite a lot. But ok, I can do that. So after I found a place to swim I forgot about my car frustration and was doing pretty well.

But then I went to a local track to check it out. And it is horrible. I do not even know whether they will let me run there. And I am not able to find any places where I can run if I do not want to run on roads, there are no parks or trails. So now I am stressed out again because I have no place to run.

Thankfully I can but a home trainer and bike in my apartment!

OK, I need to calm down. I have been here for only two days so hopefully once I explore it little bit more I will find a good running and biking places. But I seriously doubt it. There is nothing here! And that little what is here is not nice. OK, calm down, calm down.

Can you tell I am freaked out? If it is true that my ITB flares up when I am stressed than I am in for a major flare up on Sunday after the race. Yes, I am doing the race. 

Ok, I am going to run somewhere. Then put my bike together. And then unpack.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Airport musings

Ok my friends, I made it. Not 100% yet, but I am already in Canada and already went through the US customs and immigration so all is good and am allowed to work and stay until August 2015.
I have 2+ hours time to chill at the airport in Toronto so I thought that I would share some interesting happenings from last few days.

I am starting my first real job on Monday. Wow. I guess that it is a big step into adulthood, right? Wish me luck.

With the amount of food I ate in the last 4 days I would put any Kona-bound athlete in shame. And I am not kidding. That happens when you are home for four days and nobody (including me) knows when I will see my fam next. Will be at least a year and a half. So my grandma cooked all my favorite meals and I kept stuffing myself nonstop Sat to Tue. Most of it was good food, but even eating 20 pounds of home grown grapes in three days is not that great for you.

I did a tempo run on Tuesday and it was horrible! It was 2x 10min at 4:10ish pace with 2min rest and I had hard time keeping it. First ten were at 4:08 and the second at 4:11 pace. I know that it was because of all the food I had been eating before. It was just awful how bad I felt. Plus I wonder how much a person can put on in 4 days.

I fell into a small river when crossing it on a motorbike on Saturday. My dad said that he did not trust me taking him over so he waited for me while I explored the other bank. I was ok going out but when I was going back I was in a too high gear and the engine died on me in the middle. When we got home my mom yelled at both of us, of course. She always thinks that I should be kept locked in days prior to going somewhere so I do not break something. However, I do not think that it would be a problem to fly with a broken leg so we always fight about it:) And by the way, I have not broken any bones yet so I do not understand where she gets that idea.

Hungarians are not as easily tricked as Germans and I had to pay for my bike to take it with me on a plane. I paid only 33 000 hungarian forints though, which is around 150USD, so it is still less than I thought they would charge me. Plus I packed that bike bag completely full with clothes so it was worth it.

I still do not know whether I am going to do a race on Sunday. I probably will. You know, no pressure, just win and have fun:)

I might be slightly sleep deprived. I slept for two hours from Fr to Sat, then 8-9h for three nights, 3 hours Tue to Wed and now the Transatlantic flight. I will probably pass out in a car from the airport.

I watched 4 movies on a plane: Brave, Despicable me, Dark shadows and one more but I already totally forgot what it was!!! Three of them were in French and one in German, in case you were wondering.

I have 4,36 Canadian dollars, I might go buy something but you probably cannot buy anything for 4,36 at the overpriced airports.

Friday, September 21, 2012

On my (apparently) poor running form/stride

 I ran a 3k fundraiser „race“ yesterday organized by my employer (700 people employees just from our Hannover location ran, amazing). I ran hard intervals on Wednesday and doing another hard intervals today so that would mean 3 days of running in a row which is not smart but it was only 3k and for a good cause so I did it. And it was not really a race so I could have just plug along (which of course I did not do, I was the first women, but some did 6k and some 9k so). Anyway, organization was superb and they had some kind of physical mechanics/education/something PhD guy (I saw his business card) with treadmill there. So I asked him to look at my running stride.
So I jogged for a minute or two while he was videotaping me.
Then he asked me whether I used to run track. Yes. And proceeded to tell me that I run like a sprinter.  I kick my heels way too high towards my butt and I run on my toes. And I “jump” upward way to much with each step and instead should use that energy to move forward.
In addition, I kick my right heel way higher than my left one. I saw it on a video. Weird, since that’s the leg that’s is giving me problems so he said he would expect that knee to move in shorter range.
I do not overpronate or oversupinate, so that’s no problem.
However, he said that if I want to be a distance runner that I should run like one.
Swimmers learn how to do 4 different styles almost perfectly. And runners should do that too, he said and there are only 2,5 running styles (sprint, mid-d and distance) so runners have it easier. Therefore I should learn distance runners styles, because maybe my heel kicking, raw power, bouncing, front foot striking is a reason why I have these problems.
He said that I should do my runs in “grandma style”, just slug along very slowly, shuffling my legs, landing mid-foot (I have been working on this for the past 7 months but apparently it is not perfect yet!), learn how to run more efficiently, effortlessly, without kicking and bouncing.
Interestingly, or rather not interestingly, it just proves that I am indeed running this way, CH said exactly the same thing to me in January: I use raw power to run, not efficient, waste a lot of energy and land and stay on my toes. He said he did not think I “jump” too high though.
So, I am going to continue working on my running form. I do not know whether it is a reason for my ITB problem, but if my distance running is inefficient overall it does not matter whether it is causing the injury or not, I should still work on it. Too bad I do not have someone to watch me from time to time and give me some feedback.

On a different note, my trans-Atlantic move is pretty much all planned: bike is packed, clothes are packed, apartment secured, rental car reserved, leaving Germany tomorrow morning to visit my fam for four days and then to the US next Wednesday.
I LOVED Hannover (except for pool situation) and Germany is now on a list of countries to consider when settling down if I cannot stay in the US (along with region Alpes Maritimes and Pays basque in France). And even if I do not end up living here in the future, I will be back. For that Erdinger beer glass!!! Plus I am thinking Wiesbaden 70.3 in three or so years.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My highest mileage week in forever

This week was my highest mileage week since February 2011!!!
I finished this week with whooping 25 miles (give or take, I run everything except intervals by time so this is just an estimate)! Gosh, how depressing is that… Still the highest mileage in the last 18 months so I will take that. 

Today was a tempo run. But first I did an easy 80min bike ride (my last bike ride in Germany:( I mean for now, I will be back in a few years for that beer glass). Run was 70min with 20min @ 4:15. 4:15 would be easy on a track, but man was it hard in a park. I am weak as a fly! Need to start running hills and/or going to the gym. I will start in October.

Now I am off for an easy swim now and then I will shower the bike in a shower to prepare it for the move. Poor bike. Then I will not see it for the next two weeks.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

1k intervals

This post is very lame (or lamer than my post usually are), just to track my progress.

Target yesterday was 70min with 6x1k @ 5k pace with 3min jog between.
However, I had to adjust a little bit. I had a PT appointment on Wednesday, which means that I cannot run on Thursday and since I have 4 runs planned this week I had to run on Wednesday otherwise I would end up running twice two back-to-back days, which I cannot do. I was also lucky enough to be in a metro that crashed into a car on Tuesday and I had to walk home because everything got blocked and did not get to bed until past 11pm and the last thing I wanted to do was to sleep only 6 hours, get up at 5am and do the intervals in a park. In addition, sun does not come up until past 6am and thus a workout in a park is not possible because I would not be able to get to work on time, so I had to do the workout on a track between work and my appointment. But I had to stay at work little longer and by the time I got the track I had exactly 52minutes to finish my 70min workout…

So I scratched the warm up and cool down to get the important part in. I did warm up actually, I ran 1200m, and then straight to intervals with no stretching or strides, and my cool down was a mad dash to my appointment.
1st: 3:53, I decided to start slower because of the lack of proper warm up.
2nd, 3rd,4th, 5th, 6th: 3:50. All were 3:50. Am I a queen of consistency or what? (Although I am a queen of inconsistency when it comes to swimming.)
The first four intervals were totally weird, I do not even know how I run and finished them because I had hard time to focus. I guess that warm up does not only warm up your muscles but also prepares your brain for what’s ahead. Then the last two were finally better and I was able to focus and “feel” the pace, instead of just going through the movement.
The workout was easy. It did not feel like a jog the same way a 4min pace does, but it still felt easy. Part of it is me getting faster, part of it is 3min jog between. 3min is really long and by the end of it my body did not even remember that I have run an interval just 3min before. I guess the rest was so long because I did 6k at 5k pace, which theoretically does not make much sense.

Then a 2min shower (yes, I did the workout at the main stadium and they have showers there and nobody kicked me out so why not) and a 300m sprint to my PT appointment. I love that guy! Not romantically though. You know what I mean. Whatever he does to me always works like magic. He did not work much on my quads, hams and glutes this time but did a lot of thing with my knee cap and muscles and tendons around. It was painful and while he manipulated my knee cap I kept praying the whole time because I was worried that he might do some damage or something. It is a weird feeling to have your knee cup moved in all possible and impossible directions. But now my knee feels like new!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What’s behind this recent ITB episode?

I think that s proper „investigation“ why my ITB flared up a bit after Sunday must be made. I need to get to the root of this thing!!!
So what can be the cause? 

Distance – 10k. I have run more than 10k a couple times and definitely run for longer time than 40min (longest run 70min) so I do not think that running 10k was a cause.

Surface – 50% was a road, 50% a gravel path. I do not on roads (max 10min to get to Tiergarten) because I think that it contributes to my issue but I do think that running for 20min on a road could be a trigger. Esp since 7k in Celler tri was 90% on roads and I had no problem.

Course profile – I am not sure but it seems that the course was 1,25k slightly up and then back down, 4times. Running downhill is a big no-no for my ITB but this was not a real hill, if it was indeed  up and down. So no, not a trigger.

Speed – Can my blistering 6:40 pace be a problem? Yeah, right…

Shoes – I have run in these Nike racers only twice – 7k in a triathlon two weeks prior and then this 10k. I had zero problem the first time but this was 3k longer. So the shoes might be a problem. Maybe I need something more cushioned, I will probably try them few more times and see.

Stride- I know that I am hugely biased here because I think that my ITB problem is caused by my stride. But my stride indeed might have been problem here. Not only was I already tired after swim and bike and thus it was harder to keep a good form but it was a race and a long one so I kind of lost my concentration and I probably did not paid as much attention on how I run/land as I do in workouts. Although I tried to be careful but only when I remembered it. I saw some photos and I can see that in some of them my hip is dropped, just what I must avoid. And I was probably not mid-foot landing, but front-foot landing which seems to be a trigger also.  

Can it be psychological? I had zero pain or discomfort on Sunday after the race, not even on Monday. I did an easy run on Tuesday and that’s when I started to think about doing a mad dash to get that beer glass, although of course I knew that it was a very bad idea. Can it be that I am unconsciously trying to protect myself from myself and I made my ITB to ache just to prevent me from making something incredibly stupid. I knew that I was not really going to do those races I was just talking/dreaming about doing them but I still needed something extra to make sure that I indeed do not do them. Interesting theory. I do not believe it but maybe I would be surprised.  

Rest- I raced on Sunday, took Monday off and then did an easy 50min run on Tuesday. Maybe I should have given it more time to recover? I know that I was still little tired and maybe I was not able to keep a good form although I tried, was landing badly with dropped hip and voila, I got a problem. 

I cannot think of anything else. Any suggestions?

Other than that, ITB is not too bad. I can run with zero pain during or after, it does not hurt when I walk or anything. It is just that maybe 3-4 times a day I feel something there, it is usually a sharp pain for a second and then it goes away. I have had these pains before and it is nothing serious, it will go away in a week or two and then it will feel 100% again. Honestly, I am not even sure whether it is really my ITB but it is in that area. It might be something else because unless ITB flares up completely I cannot be 100% sure.  I think that everything is connected though so it seems that it all inevitable leads to my ITB problem.