Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Track workout where tectonic plates did not pass me

Finally! I was able to run decently and did not see any tectonic plates passing me this time!

Last week after another disastrous interval workouts I was thinking about eliminating a few variables to find out what is causing my less than ideal performance. I nailed the reasons down to
-          Crazy mountain biking weekend
-          Tempo 90min ride the day before
-          Doing short sub-tempo run before the intervals was a shock to my body  
-          Biking to and from work that day
-          Wind

Things worked out the way that crazy weekend and tempo bike ride were eliminated and I cut sub-tempo to only 10min. Wind and biking to work stayed the same.
Workout was like this: 14min w/up, 10min sub-tempo at 6:45 pace (4:14; faster than what I did before because I figured that since it is shorter I can go little faster), 3x 1600m at 5k+5sec per km slower w/ 4 min jog.
Theoretical pace for those miles was 4-4:05/k (or somewhere around 6:25/mile).
I went 6:27, 6:25, 6:16. It was freaking easy. 4min jog is looong and I was recovered well and  before each interval felt like I was starting my first interval. First one was little slow, second one was ok but still slower than I would like to and the last one was little fast because I told myself to stop running laps and start running intervals. I went slow and then fast mostly because I was not able to check my splits. It was too dark outside and I could not see my watch while running. I could hardly see white lines on a track. It would have been better had I been able to see midway through how I was doing.
Thus it seems that those pathetic workouts last week and the week before were due to exhausting weekend combined with bike ride the day prior. I think that it was mostly the weekend, but I am going to test this theory next week (will do a harder ride one day and intervals the next day) and see how that goes.
Or maybe it was just my shiny-and-strange-blue-color new sneakers. Now I just need to buy Lulusomething shorts and I will be unstoppable!

I hope it was it and that I am back to normal! I will do 1k intervals tomorrow because I have done those a couple time in summer so I will be able to compare how I feel now and then. I did not do any sub-tempo/intervals combo this summer so cannot assess my progress (or degress if you will).

On a different note, I have been checking my TrainingPeaks account multiple times a day for past few days impatiently waiting for something to show up on it. And it finally did yesterday! Woo-hoo! Now, I somehow forgot that Michelle mentioned something about testing this first week and my enthusiasm might have been little curbed (is that a real expression or did I just make it up?) when I saw that FTP test on a bike and 1000 in a pool. Phew.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My ideal racing weight

Since it seems that everyone is talking about taking a time off and worrying about getting fat (by the way, I do not understand one bit why weight is such a touchy topic for many women. Why are women so reluctant about revealing their weight? It is nothing you should be ashemd of and if it is something you should be ashamed of then well, there is a very high probability that it is your own fault so do something about it! ) I bought a scale yesterday (among other things including new running shoes, Nike Pegasus in case you are wondering. I have Nike somethingGlide or Glidesomething and although they seem to be good on my ITB they are not good on my feet because they give me blisters. I digress.)

So I bought a scale because I have decided that if I am going to race in Lubbock, Texas in June I better slim down because apparently bigger the person harder it is to perform well in heat.
Ok, I do realize that I might have said this already once before (that I should “reshape” myself into an endurance athlete) but now I do mean it (really!) because I have motivation. (Whether my ITB cooperates is a different story but I figured that even if I cannot run properly I can fake a half-marathon. It is not like faking a marathon in IM. Well, I know people who try to fake that as well but then it takes them 6 hours to complete. So basically I am determined to race whether my ITB wants me to or not. OR I just need to run it very very fast so ITB does not have time to flare up during the race. I digress again.)

So I bought the scale and weighted 145 pounds yesterday afternoon, which is around 65.5kg. It is kind of strange because last year this time around I weighted around 68kg and I did not live on cookies and muffins back then. Or did I? I do not remember. I have two theories why I weigh less than I expected to weight. I thought I was around 150lb. Number one is that the scale is not accurate, I bought it for $8 in Target. But it does not matter that it is not accurate as long as it is consistent over the next several months. Number two theory is that I lost a lot of cycling muscles since my biking now compared to last year is down by around 80%.

I am not really sure what an ideal racing weight for Texas would be, or for anything really, but it sure is less than 145 pounds. Maybe 130? 135? Ok, I will see how it goes and whether it is feasible. 

I am off now for another interval workout attempt. I will be back to report on it.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Goods and bads

Bads (I will start with bads to end the blog on a happy note:)):
 I ran full 62min continuously on a road including several hill intervals, with a slow recovery jog back to start. And I do not think that my ITB liked it! However I do not know whether it did not like running on a road or running downhill. I really do not want to do elimination experiment here (because if I eliminate the wrong variable it will be a problem) but it might be the only way to find out. I think that it is downhill thought. So I will start with eliminating downhill running and see how it goes.

That's it for the bads and let's move to the goods:
I finally put my tt bike on a trainer yesterday! I have not tried yet whether it functions but what could be wrong with it, right?
I put the rear sprockets back together and put the cassette on a bike yesterday! It is nice and shiny. Sure, I have not tried yet whether it shifts smoothly but will try tomorrow. I hope it does! (I might do this with my tt bike since that thing has not been properly cleaned for a year. But I wanted to test my "skills"on a mtb first:))
I have not figured out how to remove the chain. And since I used two different chain tools and it would not bulge I am starting to think that the problem is not my tools but rather, well, me:)
And I fixed my thru-axle! So I was missing a spring in it (just to clarify, it was not me who lost it!) and although it was not a conical one I figured what the heck, I will just use a conical one from my extra skewer. So I "modified" it a little bit and put it in there and it works. For now. I expect it to not work for long even with my modification though because it is not supposed to work with a spring with narrow (pointy) end. We shall see.
(And yes, I did all that in my living room...But I bought a rug to put over carpet that was in the apartment because I do not want to make that one dirty)
My sister is coming to visit me for Thanksgiving for almost a week! I have not seen her for two years! Last time we saw each other was Thanksgiving in 2010 when she came over to LA and we went to Vegas. Now we are going to go up to Chicago. I am really looking forward to seeing her.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

No idea what's going on - another intervals failure

I did another track workout today and it was almost as bad as last week.
The workout was 14min w/up, 14min tempo at 6:53 pace, 3min rest, 3x1200m w/3min rest.
Those 1200s were supposed to be at 5k pace but that did not happen:( I went 4:48, 4:59, 5:06. Definitely not a 5k pace. First 400m was ok but then it went downhill (unfortunately not literaly) and I stopped looking at my watch and just run uptempo keeping a good running form. I am glad I managed three of them, which is better than last week when I managed only two 1k.

Basically I felt 100x better than last week but still 100x worse than just two weeks ago. I have no idea what's going on.
I do not feel tired or lacking energy (because I did 3x1000 w/1min rest in a pool right afterwards in 18, 16:26, 16. Nothing amazing but decent and I am sure that I would not be able to do it if it was energy problem.)
It seems that it is my legs that are just trashed. Warm up was ok, not great but ok but then I started a first stride and holy s***, my legs hurt! I did the sub-tempo and it was harder than it should have been and it seems that it sucked all the remaining power from my legs and I was useless for the intervals. Useless.

I do not know what this is all about. I should be able to hit a 5k pace for this workout no problem, I used to do it before, like a month ago!
Can it be I am so out of biking shape that even a mountain biking weekend, a 90min ride yesterday and biking to and from work leaves my legs so trashed that I cannot execute my runs properly? I was able to do it last year no problem but I was biking a lot last year.
I did a 65min run on Tuesday on a decent clip (it felt decent, I do not know what pace I was running) and felt fine. Could that taken so much out of me that I was not able to run properly two days after? I do not think so because that just does not make any sense. I know that I have not been the best/consistent runner in the last month but it still does not make any sense.
Can it be mental? I was not freaking out about this workout although I was definitely little anxious after last week's disastrous workout.

Really no idea what's going on. I am not freaking out about it, because I felt much better today than last week and it is not like I had a world championship looming over my head. I think that I will be allright in a week or two.
But something is definitely wrong and I still would like to know what the hell is going on!!!This is the first time anything like this is happening to me.
Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New PT

I went to a new physical therapist/chiropracter/ART on Monday because as I said regular adjustment is vital right now to keep my ITB happy.
I would not say that I liked him but it was only my first visit so I am not going to search another one just yet. My German guy set the standard very high and now I am "spoiled" and won't settle for anything less. And I am not talking (only) about the German guy being a hot bundle of muscles (which this new one is definitelly not) but about the actual manipulation/adjustments he did!
PT watched me walk, I told him the story etc, he gave me his opinion (weak right glute is a cause for my pelvis getting out of alignment leading to shortening of my right (or it is left) leg and bang! ITB flares up. Ok, I knew all this. But he said to continue with clamps and sideway walking and foam rolling.) and then I asked him whether he was going to do some manipulation/adjustment. He said he did not want to rush it and wanted to take it easy on me during my first visit but I said that that's not what I am there for and I do not need any dillydallying around. So he adjusted my pelvis and massaged my glute and ITB. He was still taking it easy on me since no bruises or tears.
I did not feel the same relief or increased range of motion as I used to after the adjustments from GG and I was even able to run 65min today without any pain.
But as I said I will go there again and see whether the second session would be better than the first one. It is over 30miles though so I am really going to continue this only if I think that it will be indeed beneficial.

So I am back to doing those stupid strengthening exercises that I believe are not as effective as it is claimed they are. And I am foam rolling, but I did that even before. Now the only problem is that my biggest cut and bruise from mountain biking is right on ITB and it hurts like hell when the roller goes through it.

I have figured out what's wrong with that axle on my mtb. When we took the "skewer" apart (which by the way you are not supposed to do with thru-axle) we lost a spring that was inside. So that's the problem. I need to buy one somewhere.
I also bought a chain tool but a $5 tool from Walmart sucks so I am throwing it away and getting a better one to remove that chain.
And I am too weak to loosen the front cassette so I am not sure how I am going to clean it because I really cannot clean it properly when it is on a bike. Maybe wait a month or so and see whether my visits to the gym will help.
Speaking of a gym, I went only once so far but now that I am figuring my work schedule and getting into a routine I am going to go regularly.
I need new running shoes but the closest store is almost an hour drive so I need to plan this carefully and take care of multiple things while I am in a city. Joys of living in the Southern Illinois cornfields!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Next logical step in a relationship (and Fat Tire Fest)

I have one bedroom" picture for you:

Sorry if you expected something more "juicy".
Ok, the picture does not really show my bedroom (I keep my bikes in my living room), it is an inside of my tent this weekend.
I spend a lot of time on/with my bikes and I love them dearly, so sharing a bed is a next logical step in our relationship, right? I could not leave the poor thing spending the night outside.

However it was only for one night, the second night the bike slept outside because it was so dirty that I did not even want to touch it!
Which let to this:

I cleaned the bike a little bit after last weekend's mud fest to make sure that it at least shift but after this weekend's mudfest I had to do some heavy duty cleaning because all the sprockets looked like they have been eating mud pies and I could not get the dirt out from between them.
I have a tool to remove the rear sprockets so I did that. I do not have anything to remove the front cassette so I might just buy a brush and try to do it with it (although I am pretty sure that I should clean the bottom bracket area once in a whole (esp tt bike that has not been cleaned for a year), so I might as well buy all the tools. However bb on tri bike is different from my mtb so I would need two of them...). And I need to figure out how to remove the chain because I can grown vegetables inbetween those chain links and cannot clean properly while on the bike.
I am pretty sure I can do all that but the big question is, how the heck am I going to put it all back together? It is easy to take things apart. Putting them together is a tricky part.
I also do not know whether I am supposed to lube those sprockets before I put them back on or not. And so on.
I think that I am going going to spend some quality time with bike maintenance youtube videos this week.
And I have also realized that I need to buy a house with a garage and a water hose because giving a bike a shower and doing a bike maintenance in your living room just does not sounds right.

Anyway, I will let you know whether I manage to put it all together, or whether I will have to take a bike a all parts into a bike shop so they can assemble it for me:)

Fat Tire fest was great!
I am covered with bruises and scratches because I wiped out at least seven times in less than 2 hours on Saturday into rocks, bushes, creeks, puddles. No stitches thankfully. This mountain biking is serious stuff!
Saturday morning I went for a 5-6 hour group ride however I got a flat after two hours, the guys changed it and then when they put the wheel back on it wiggled even when the wheel was fastened to the fork. It is a thru axle, not a simple quick release and it is totally weird. I did not want to continue with the wheel like that and also the tube was losing air so I took a shortcut back to our camp.
Specialized had a tent there with some demo bikes so I took my bike there but they did not know what to do with either because Specialized does not use axel like that.
I do not know whether there is a special way to tighten it or whether it is broken:( I need to do some internet research or take it to a shop that sells Giants. Grrr!
Thanfully those Specialized guys gave me one of their demo bikes to ride on!
So on Saturday afternoon I did another 2h ride on Specialized Epic with a guy from work (I did not wipe out this time. Must be because we spent way too much time walking crossing creeks (8 times total) including one time when water was up to my knees).
Then I also did an easy 1h ride alone this morning on Specialized Stumpjumper. Both of those bike were pretty neat.
It was a lot of fun, I met some new people, ate a hamburger, got some new scars. Plus I did a 70min easy run today.
So a pretty good weekend!

My body hurts. Part of it is because of all the falling of course, but I am also sore. My triceps hurt, my upper back hurts, my lower back hurts, my inner tights hurt, my shoulders hurt. Seems that mtb works the whole body, not only legs.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Runner, you need to wake up!

This is it! I am officially stopping to be a cake eating instead of training idiot. Of course I knew that I needed a break (mostly mental one) so I took it, however it has gone too far now. 

I wanted to do some running races this fall (well, one or two 5k) and you need to run to be able to do that. And PPC uses her free time to prepare the running plan for me and I do not follow it and feel guilty wasting her time. I have not skipped a planned running workout in a couple years but I have bagged like 5 runs in the last three weeks (which is close to 50% of all my running workouts), which is very very bad (all of them were easy runs, I did my quality workouts but it is still very bad). I took one week pretty much off after that last triathlon and wanted to get back at it afterwards. But one week has become 3 weeks now and I do not even know how. Once you skip one run then it is easy to skip the next one and one after that, isn’t it?

But yesterday was a wake up call for me. 5x1k @ 5k pace preceded by 15min sub-tempo.  I was able to do similar workout last week no problem but yesterday was a disaster. Last time I was not able to hit my running paces was in college and I had no problem being spot on since, until yesterday. I felt horrible already during a warm up but I figured that 1k at 3:50-55 should not be a problem, right? I felt somehow ok during 15min at 6:54 pace. Then took 4min rest and started those 1k. I did the first one in 4:06, then took 2 min standing rest, second one 4:11 and then called it a day.

I think that this failure is mostly due to conditions (hauling winds, lightening, storm was coming) and fatigue (9h drive Fr, 4h bike race Sat, 9h drive Sun, 2h fast bike ride Tuesday, and biking to and from work yesterday). But it is also due to those last three weeks (horrible eating habits and my “whatever” attitude).

I think that my attitude stems from the life changes I have been going through and needed a mental break and also because I am starting working with Michelle in November so I am postponing starting real training until then. Maybe I am just using “I loved Hannover and now had to move to an unknown cemetery town across the Ocean alone to start my first real full-time job” as an excuse to give me a break, but I do not think that I am. 

I do not really care that I suck at swimming and biking because Michelle is going to help me take care of it. But I do care when my running sucks, especially since I wanted sub-19 this fall. I have spent last three weeks all over the place and some of those missed runs were inevitable but some of them not so much.
I have realized that I have not communicated well enough with PPC regarding my running plan. Basically there is no off-season in my running plan now since I have fall races planned but I needed a time-off. So I have not been following the plan 100%.  

Anyway, I am going south to Shawnee National Forest for a Fat Tire Festival this weekend and I do not think that I am going to run while I am there. I will probably haul my running gear and foam roller with me (I did take all that to Michigan with me last weekend but did not use it at all) but I am 95% positive I am not going to use it. 

But then starting next week my break is over and I need to get out of my ”yeah, I can skip the run, it is not problem, I have my whole life to train so one workout won’t make a huge difference” (except that if I say that to myself twice a week it is going to make a difference) and “I will get back at it in November when Michelle starts coaching me again” state of mind.

Btw, I have four bikes now. I bought that Walmart bike to commute on on Monday. And my home trainer finally arrived. So that’s exciting.
It is a good thing that I do not have any furniture except for a mattress and a bed stand because then it would not fit into the apartment.
I now have all my stuff with me in IL and do not sleep under two towels anymore. I have more than one pair of business casual pants and more than two shirts to wear to work.
And I have an appointment with a PT for my ITB treatment on Monday. I hope he is as good as my German guy.
So everything is going to go splendidly starting next week!

Monday, October 15, 2012

6-hour Addison Oaks Mountain Bike RR or How to become a mountain biker

Thinking about doing some mountain bike races? But have little mtb experience? Or no mtb bike? NO problem!

Here is how you do it:
Firstly, choose an endurance event because if you still do not want to throw your bike into a dumpster after a few hours of riding it means you like the sport and will likely stick with it. You can go for for example a 6-hour mtb race in Michigan.
Drive 9 hours to the race the day before.
On your drive to the race location stop to buy a bike and clipless pedals (who cares that you have not used such pedals on a mtb before).
Then stop again to buy biking shoes and have a guy in store install cleats on them for you.
10pm the day before the race remove the flat pedals that came with the bike and install those clipless pedals.
 Yeah right, those flat pedals are so tight you cannot remove them. Hope that someone at the race location will be able to do it.
When race morning comes, make your friend help you remove those pedals. Remove one but the second one remains stuck. 30min to the start. But do not worry, who needs to test whether cleats position works for you or try to see whether she can clip in and out anyway? You will have 6 hours to find out.
Take the bike to a tent of a local bike store. Have three guys working on it, one of them breaking a pedal wrench in a process and the other cutting himself on your front ring. But they manage to do it! 5min to the start.
Oh right, test ride the bike sprinting to the start line. Try to clip in and out once or twice. All good.
And off you go! 6 hours on trails in a pissing rain.
If you are lucky (like I was), they stop the race after 4 hours because of race conditions – trails became mud pots, rocks and roots slippery, bikes do not shift anymore because everything is covered with a thick layer of mud and even if it was not your hands are so frozen that you cannot shift anymore anyway. 
At the end of all this you are a mountain biker.

Ok, so the race was fun even though the weather was horrible (call me a sissy but I was not complaining one bit when they decided to shut it down after 4 hours). I have not wiped out at all and had to "test" whether I know how to clip out only once. I LOVED my new bike and my new pedals. Those clipless pedals are awesome for mtbiking. 
We did around 7.2mile loops and I managed 5 in 3h38min so around 36miles of mountain biking (there were quite a lot of people racing but most of them did 8h team rides. There was only one another woman stupid enough to do 6h solo ride and I beat her. So I won the race, but there were only two of us:). With each loop I was getting more confident in my skills, unfortunately with every lap the conditions were getting worse and worse. It was great nevertheless. Some of those mtb guys were going as if they were cruising along a newly paved highway. They are crazy badasses! (I want one of those at home.)

Did I mention that I loved my bike, Giant Talon 2011? You remember a guy I met last year at a traffic light when I was biking home from the criterium race and he invited me to come to do a race with him? So he found that bike for me and it was a great deal. He is the nicest person ever! I mean seriously, I met him only three times and have not seen him for a year but he did the research, called the seller, discussed the bike specifics and price with him, arranged the meeting for me, sent me 30+ test messages about how I should test ride it to make sure it fits me, how to install the cleats, how to clean it afterwards. Isn’t it the nicest thing ever? We went out for a coffee on Sunday but before that we went to buy a bike rack for my car and he showed me how to assemble it and everything! I bought him cookies for his help, because who does not like cookies, right?

And I did not want to throw the bike into a dumpster at the end of the day so I guess it means I liked it and am hooked.