Sunday, April 20, 2014

IMMT Training Week 13: Lucky legs

The last two weeks have been pretty brutal. So brutal that I have this feeling that my arms and legs are barely connected to the rest of my body and my mind is in a semi-permanent zombie-like state. I know, I know... I still have 17 weeks to go and I better get used to it, but do I dare to say, where is my recovery week, dammit?! Must be coming soon, it better be!! Even with a shortened bike and a run missed this week, I still banked in over 12h of workouts. Does it mean that I should have reached 14h? Jeebus! Here's a visual recap for those who are curious to peek into my Training Peaks.
This was meant to put the current week in perspective because I'm not going to go back to the previous one. I will just direct you to my 10K race which I did on Sunday and where I smashed my PR because my legs decided to. It affected how I felt at the beginning of the week, so you'll understand better why I skipped workouts.

Swim

Nothing new on this front. Got all my workouts in, more or less the particular ones that were on the schedule. Because of Easter weekend, the pool was closed today, so I did my swim yesterday instead. Right after a 4h bike + 3km run brick. Like, literally, 10min later. And I had no legs left, which made me go with the pull only option (with flip turns for entertainment). One of my butt cheeks cramped after 45min from squeezing the pull buoy between my legs. I cannot win. But I got 2200m in, which was better than skipping it.

I should give a special mention to the group swim on Thursday though, because it was "bands-special". How cute. I didn't puke. It must have helped that I had the lane to myself and nobody to keep the pace with. But I did not cheat the wall clock!

Bike

Oh the bike... Grrrrrr the bike. Argghhhhhh the bike. It's all about sweet spot and threshold these days. And long hours on the trainer watching TV.

On Monday I was supposed to do 1h15 of sweet spot and given that I just upped my FTP the week before, I was still going to flirt with the threshold. However, on Monday my legs were so toast that I could barely stand up. Below, my friends, is the definition of #fail. A lesson in giving up. Take notice, but do not try this at home.
I managed to last 22 minutes at sweet spot. Look ma, no Viagra!

Thankfully the feeling of being totally damaged after the race did not last. I took a break from running the next day and did a swim instead. Best decision ever. By Wednesday, all engines were A-OK! This time, it was threshold madness, 3 glorious 15min intervals in Z4.
Beat another 15min record. I love it when the numbers go up! Indeed, coach, there is a reason to this madness.
By Saturday I was feeling a bit apprehensive contemplating my longest trainer ride to date. 4h. I don't know any movies that last 4h. How was I going to kill the time? But with a marathon of The Killing, of course. I lost track how many episodes I watched, but if my math is correct, about 4 or 5. And I did not stop pedaling, not even for a second. I think I am ready for a flat 70.3.
I present you Vogelsang.
Yeah, I'm pretty proud of this one, even if I didn't break any records. It did not break me, and it's the most important.
Run

Tuesday, skipped. Thursday I returned to the treadmill for 10k of fartleks. Saturday was a 3k brick run and today, Sunday - 19k to Etobicoke Trail and back. The bad news is that tomorrow isn't rest day. But it is another day... In other news, I signed up for the Mississauga Half Marathon to do my long 20km+ run in. Because it's more fun with the adrenalin rush and I don't want to miss giving Nicole a hug on her BQ attempt.
In a nutshell

A great week of training following another great week of training AND racing! I think we're finally done with the snow and freezing rains and the sun is doing a decent job at keeping us warm. I may be able to go outside more and more for my runs and maybe, just maybe, for a bike ride as well.

Strength wise, zero time spent lifting, pushing or holding planks. Bad, bad Irina.

As for nutrition, I finally made the famous salty balls. Can I say AMAZEBALLS? Seriously, folks, I could not shove these in my mouth fast enough (the hits to this blog are going to get interesting). I ate 6 of them during my 4h bike ride and along with a bottle of Endura, they lasted long enough for a run and a swim as well. I need to make them a little smaller next time, but I could not recommend them enough. I made mine with rolled oats, almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla protein powder, but I'd like to try the chocolate protein powder next time. I also sprinkled mine with Kosher salt. Yum.

I also joined another "community" thanks to the app TwoGrand. You post all your meals and workouts as photographs. It doesn't actually count calories, but it gives you a visual and so far I've been in good company. Got a few ideas, kept myself accountable to others and took my food pictures outside of Instagram. There is an app for everything! Join me if you want to share. I go by Ririnette. ;-)

Over and out.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 Toronto Yonge St. 10K Race Report

Since I started training for the Ironman, my desire of running road races had to be curbed. After all, I am coming off a hip injury and I have to be careful. I have heard this from my coach countless times. When this race finally showed up in my calendar, he said that I can run it, but not race it. But... but... HOW am I going to put on the brakes on Yonge St.? With a few bumps here and there, it is a net downhill. Trust me, I've set my previous PR there 2 years ago. And, what about my "40 steps to 40" goals? I wanted to improve my 10K and 5K times this year. Will I even be able to run again after the Ironman? I may just DIE there!! Anyway, you can imagine all the scenarios playing in my head over and over again.

However, one thing for sure, I was calm. I went to pick up my race kit on Saturday and spent a total of 3 min at the expo since we were late for spectating a soccer game. I literally ran through the venue and didn't think too much about next day. When I went to bed that night I had yet to decide what to do. Woke up at 6am, and surprise surprise, I still had no clue. Seriously, the only strategy I had was to "put a foot in front of the other, don't step in a pothole or roll your ankle on the tram tracks, breathe, drink if you're thirsty, enjoy the sunshine and most important, stay alive". Also, not looking at the damn Garmin. That could only bring headaches with all the GPS bounce around.

The other "problem" was that I had to do 17km since it was a long run day, and no race was supposed to interfere with the schedule. I decided to run 3km before the race as a warm up and 4km after, then hop on the subway and go back to my car, then drive home.

I parked my car near the starting line, then went on a mission to find my friend Carol and the washrooms. It was still early, so I got to the port-a-potties first. No lineup, yay! No paper either, so I had to switch stalls because I needed to do both 1&2. Thankfully I noticed soon enough. Found Carol too, then we started our little run. Went back to the car and dropped my hoodie, took a sip of Gatorade and off I went on my own to continue warming up the legs, tired after the 3h30 trainer ride that I had done the day before. Of course legs felt like crap. By the time the warmup ended, I was convinced that I was going to suffer during the race and I should just take it easy. Rejoined Carol at the starting line, just behind the 50min pacer.
We must have stayed there about 10 minutes, then the gun went off and I lost Carol instantly. She wanted to finish under 50min, which meant running ahead of the 50min pacer. I was left to my own devices once more. And so I started running rather conservatively, but letting the gravity do its thing, carefully keeping my exertion levels in check. No puffing, no huffing. Stay relaxed. No peeking at the watch!! Then, I don't know what happened, but I noticed that I was catching up with the 50min pacer. I was telling myself that he knew how to put the brakes on the hills, and I was failing miserably at it. But I was feeling good, so why not? It was all part of the plan, to let the legs do their thing.

Then I saw a guy with a pink sign that said "Forget calm, run like hell". And it must have planted a little seed of doubt in my abilities to really stay calm. Shortly thereafter I ended passing the 50min pacer and my competitive spirit kicked in. I also noticed Carol about 100m in front of me. I had no plans to catch her at that moment, I was still a bit puzzled by the situation with the pacer. Should I stay or should I go? I wondered if I could stay ahead of him for a while... But then I noticed that I was also catching up with Carol. Uh oh. Was she slowing down? I told her she's not allowed to! With 2.5km to go I managed to get close enough to her to give her a slap on the butt and I said "told you not to let me catch you!" And she sped away from me. Attagirl!! I continued chasing her ponytail and before I knew it, I was over the Bathurst bridge and on the last stretch towards the finish line.

I wanted to finish strong, and of course, ahead of the 50min pacer. I did not let him catch me either and crossed the finish line in 49:03. I could not be happier that I beat both my 10K and 5K PRs, just as I wanted. Based on the official time set on this same course 2 years ago, I improved my 10K PR by 4min 47sec, and I even did a negative split. My fastest 5K is now 24:10. Two more items crossed off the list!! Wooohooo!
At the finish area I grabbed a banana, my medal, said goodbye to Carol and off I went again. I still had 4km to run, which I did along the Lakeshore and back to Yonge St. Hopped in the subway, but not before a little old lady asked me if I won the race and I had to explain to her how I did this "just for fun" and that there were people much faster than me out there.

I'm pretty sure that my legs didn't agree with my definition of "fun" for that day, but eventually they stopped pouting and I could go back to my regular training schedule, all without a single Advil.

For not "racing" that day, I definitely blew it. But sometimes, you just have to follow your heart. I ran completely by feel, did not look once at my watch and I ended being pleasantly surprised. Of course, this would be quite irresponsible to do on longer distances, but since I've met all my time goals for this year, it should be much easier to keep myself in check from now on. That's all, folks!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Instacards from NYC

I mentioned in my previous blog post that I went to New York City and man, did I have a good time!! I bought a plane ticket 10 minutes after receiving an email from my best friend from France, whose 40th birthday was the following weekend. Initially she wanted to go to the Bahamas, but eventually settled on NYC and Naples. I could only spare one vacation day to join her, so I booked my flight from Friday to the following Monday, with the plan of going straight to work after landing back in town. I had 5 days to prepare and work on containing my excitement. It had been over a year since I'd seen my friend and these times are always so precious, it's hard to plan around the hours that we spend just being there for each other. Nothing else is as important. So I told myself, I go there with no plan, I will just follow along with my camera and enjoy the moment. My only mission was to run in Central Park and that I accomplished. I know that my friend understands my crazy, she was with me in Paris for my first marathon as well... so I didn't feel too bad taking off for 2h on my own.

Here's how we spent most of our time that weekend, with Instagrams for posterity.
All that Jazz!
I left Toronto in this itty bitty airplane. It wasn't the smallest that I took in my life, but close. You know that is small enough when your carry on bag does not fit in the overhead bin.

We spent the first day exploring an abandoned place called 5 Pointz, which used to be the Mecca of Graffiti in NYC, but alas got painted white all over sometime at the end of last year, then fenced up. See here for all the awesome work that artists had painted and is now gone. What a shame.
Rooftops are awesome
The next day, we embarked on a more touristy exploration and took the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty up close, then visit Ellis island and look for family members on the immigrants wall.
Found mine in L
Freedom, Liberty.
It was a chilly and windy day, but the sky cleared as we were touring the Liberty Island and the sun showed its face to warm us up.
In the evening, we all went for a nice dinner to celebrate my friend's birthday, but not before taking a stroll on The High Line, in the heart of Manhattan. It was quite the photo explosion.
Brick, glass and grass
And a sculpture on train tracks.
Magic Hour Reflections
On Sunday, I ran in the morning, and took more pictures, as you saw in the previous post. Then we went on another adventure, around Ground Zero and over the Brooklyn Bridge.
One web
Two webs
Yeah, that blue sky followed us everywhere!! I can't believe it either. It was a beautiful weekend spent mostly outside, breathing the fresh air (at least I hope it's fresh - shhh, don't tell me), discovering new sights, which I had really never seen before. Sharing meals with best friends. Catching up on life stories and everyone in and around them. It was long overdue. I miss these moments already.
Before I knew it, it was time to pack again and head home, to work, family, workouts, business, stress. And now starts a new wait... Happy Birthday, my dear Fred.

PS. For more photos from NYC, follow me on Instagram or visit my Flickr stream.

Friday, April 11, 2014

IMMT Training Weeks 10 & 11 (and half of 12) : A breath of fresh air

It's been how many weeks already?? Ok, ok, but I had a good excuse. For realz! The days are going by way too fast. No, this isn't my excuse, even if it's true. But it's also a matter of perspective. Too many things happening, too little time, so I had to prioritize.

Swim

The highlight of these past weeks have been my long pull workouts, all with flipturns so I don't fall asleep. The longest so far has been 55 minutes and I have been working hard at keeping a good form throughout. I tried swimming with an MP3 player and that made the set a little more entertaining, but overall I love the peace these swims bring to me among the chaos of all the other technical workouts, so I don't feel that having extra noise in my ears is absolutely necessary.
From Garmin's perspective, this is what my longest swim looked like:
I have to ask the question: WHY is it that the first 50m are always the easiest and fastest? Why I cannot keep doing what I'm doing in the first 50m for the entire workout? It's so unfair. If I rest for a few minutes between shorter sets, I am able to repeat this performance, but if I don't stop, it only goes downhill from there. I'm like a broken toy or something.

Bike

The bike workouts have been going really great, despite their increased difficulty. I am now working a lot at sweet spot or threshold and my longer rides are 3-4h long, with a "recovery" week's long ride still being a 2h effort. Thanks to a few records broken recently, I decided to bump my FTP by 10 points to 180. A new level of suffering is about to start.
You can see my career page on Trainer Road for all the rides I've done since the last update. I am going to highlight just the ones that made me rethink my FTP.
First, three 12min intervals, at threshold or just under. Since my heart rate stayed put, I felt that I could have pushed harder... And I know that I should not have ground so much, but some days my legs respond better to high rpms than others.
Then 1h10 at sweet spot non stop.
This one scared the sh*t out of me, but it didn't feel too bad in the end. We'll see what happens now with a higher limit to chase.

Run

Running felt like a rollercoaster ride though. I had ups so high and lows so low, that I cursed everything from the wind to the hills, from my belly fat to the treadmill. I finally made peace with my legs, thanks to a weekend spent in New York City where I went running in Central Park. Aaaaaaah, bliss.
Oh look, a dirt trail!
Chasing ponytails
2 seconds before my phone shut off
There was also a race ongoing in Central Park and I ended up mingling with the back of the pack runners/walkers who had these "Senior Care" ambulances trudging along them. It was quite the procession. Thankfully they didn't seem too busy with emergencies.
And rest assured, I didn't take any water from the stations. However, it took me 10k to find a water fountain on my own. The weather was absolutely beautiful, on the chilly side though (37F/3C). Look at that blue sky!! Now that's light therapy.

So I came back home with new brain cells and spring in my legs, a heart full of happiness and contentment to last me for a little while. And I didn't even mention the cookies that I bought at Levain Bakery yet!! Yeah, about those... YUM. That is all.

In a nutshell

Treadmills lie. Those speeds that I saw, the kilometers that I banked, they were worthless outside. There was one run in particular that brought me to tears. I can say with certainty that I am no PR material for now. The 10k race waiting for me on Sunday? I'm not even allowed to race it. And I don't even think that I'd have legs left after tomorrow's 3h30 trainer ride. Speaking of which, bike trainers don't seem to lie, but the pavement will still have to wait until I put my wheels on it. Asthma is still bad in cold weather, which of course becomes even worse with wind blowing in my face. One day at a time... Will be back with some Insta-Postcards from NYC.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

IMMT Training Week 8 and 9: Work hard, crash harder

So it happened. I skipped a recap week. Training and work and life swallowed me whole and I got nothing left, not even brain power to put down things like 1+1=3. Wait, is that right? Does it mean that I skipped 2 weeks? No, wait. Whatever... That's what you get when you lose all your week's neurons. Which means that I need to go back in time twice as far and put my memory through a lot of effort. To tell you the truth, I don't even know where to start. Training Peaks to the rescue!

Swim

Two weeks ago on Tuesday, I did a 3000m swim which called for 20x100m on 2:30 main set. It hurt so much, I don't even want to talk about it. The hardest swim I've ever done until now, period. I managed to finish it all, but I wasn't quite sure on what planet I was at the end of it. Needless to say, two days later I was so tired that I put on my pull buoy and swam for 45min straight, all with flip turns so I can keep up with the kids in my lane. I was supposed to do this swim on Sunday, but it felt more appropriate for Thursday. On Sunday, I was still feeling pooped, that I decided to swing it and do whatever my body was in mood for. I swam 100m free, then another 100m, then 300m with my pull buoy, and decided to repeat the same pattern until I ran out of time. I managed to fit in 4 repeats for a total of 2000m. Matched my swim quota for the week, so that was success in my books.

This past week, it was a different story. Tuesday's swim didn't happen. But on Thursday I went to masters with the tri group and had a nice 2000m swim with a lot of 50s, 100s and 200s. I didn't think I could pull it off, but stamina showed up and got me through it just fine. I even swam my fastest pull/paddles splits - how?? Must have been the 10h sleep...
I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow, but there are enough missed swims to choose from. Anything that fits within 1h will do I suppose.

Bike

I had a few good rides as well, no complaints here. I only missed one workout, last Wednesday, when I pretty much hit the wall. I came back from work and fell asleep on the couch. Decided to call it a night and go to bed at 7:45pm. I needed it really badly and I'm glad that I listened to my body. I could feel that everything was falling apart, starting with my mental. 
Below are the most exciting rides that I've done.

This one was made by hubbs with instructions from coach. I called it One Leg drills and Two Leg Spins (100rpm). Visually, quite exciting. Pure poetry. I managed to keep my calm and pedal on, what a miracle. Last spin looks almost like a scream though.
The only other ride worth sharing was my 2h45 ride today, Conness. Trainer Road didn't crash like the week before, yay! I did it all in my new Coeur Sports kit which I received yesterday. I was really curious about the magic chamois and whether my bottom was going to complain. Another miracle, I swear. Last week I had a lot of pain in my bike shorts with triple diaper-like padding, but this time, nada!! No pain whatsoever, how is it possible? The people at Coeur should better patent this one because they've got a winner!!
The ride was easy peasy. It wasn't too difficult to follow directions since the intervals were quite long, and I killed the boredom watching "Zoolander". Can you believe that I waited 13 years to see it? I still had a megawatt smile at the end of it (the workout, not the movie).
If you are wondering what a gratuitous view of my belly is doing here, this is my own #keepingitreal moment. The kit fits wonderfully, but I still have a muffin top to deal with. Hopefully 5 months from now I won't have to suck it in until I pass out while approaching photographers on the course of Ironman Mt. Tremblant.

Run

So far, I didn't miss any of the runs! They all have been 8km or more, with the long ones at 15km. Still doing them on the treadmill, sorry. But the early ones in the week were "hilly" where I got to play with both speed and incline on the treadmill, while the mid-week ones introduced 1min accelerations to 10km pace or faster. I'm glad they are not boring me to death. Speaking of which, I need another movie to watch during my long run tomorrow. Last week I watched "Food Inc." and it was rather upsetting at times. No, I didn't cry, but it got me mad. I'll never look at a piece of meat the same way again.

Here's another piece of worthy news. I bought new shoes!! I joined Kona winner Frederik Van Lierde, Mary Beth Ellis and Caroline Steffen in wearing On running shoes. I had NO idea they even existed until I walked into the Running Free store and tried them on. And NO, I could not put them down and walk away. Very rarely I find a shoe that marries my foot (both of them actually :-)) so wonderfully and this is one of them. I was looking for a shoe to do my long runs in while I rebuild enough calf strength to go back to my K Swiss K-Onas, since there is a new Ironman branded pair at home waiting for me to run in at #IMMT. I chose the Cloudsurfer model and so far, amazeballs! Not a single blister, no pain, even my knees seem happier lately. I also run a tad faster for the same level of effort. They are definitely springy and they almost feel like propelling me a little quicker.
Or maybe it's all in my head and I already imagine myself winning Kona in them. On folks, call me now!

In a nutshell

I had such a hectic schedule between office work, workouts, basketball games, long drives in the snow, parties, corporate ping pong tournaments (I move onto round two in doubles, yay!), endless meetings, stress to the max, that I ended crashing really hard and had to skip two workouts in a row. Not the end of the world, since I got back my sanity and some extra hours of sleep, but there were times when I questioned my ability to train for this Ironman. I told myself that if I'm crashing with 10h worth of workouts, what will happen when I'll hit 16-18? Thankfully the funk didn't last, but it's a little seed of doubt that I need to watch closely not to sprout.

I'll leave you with a few more pictures, so you can see what I've been talking about.
We drove for hours in this. 
More snow!! MAKE IT STOP!!!
NOT my bike. Phew.
We like basketball. At least the Raptors win every so often.
100 points = free pizza for everyone!
We skipped the pizza this time, but we went to Pizza Hut later in the week. We had the super thin crust pizza with veggies and a greek salad.
In case you were wondering...
The sad face of our sidewalks. Anyone have skates?
You could call this a slip and slide, alright!
You can understand why I keep my runs inside. No sidewalks, no fun! I refuse to dodge cars.
One last sweaty smile for the road, with boob crack as a bonus! See you next week!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Racing Weight Recipes

It is no secret that I love food. A little too much, maybe. But over the past few years I've tried to cook leaner, healthier, and without sacrificing the taste. When I came across the Racing Weight Cookbook, thanks to a review by Phaedra, I knew that I had to buy it. And it the past month or so, I've made quite a few recipes that became an instant hit. After countless online requests, I've decided to share my favorites here on the blog. Since all the recipes were modified slightly anyway, I kinda made them my own. I cannot recommend the book more though. Seriously, you don't even have to read the lean theory, just jump in, cook and eat. And what other book organizes the recipes by cooking skill? This one does, from "Recipes for the athlete who doesn't cook" to "Recipes for the athlete who loves to cook".

1. Quinoa and Chickpea Salad / Tabbouleh

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained. I like to use PC Golden and Black Quinoa, one box of 225g is perfect and it gives the salad more color.
1 15 ounces can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and shelled (skinned?). I use 1 can of PC Organics Chickpeas, it's the perfect size (540ml).
2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil - my favorite is PC New World EVOO
1/2 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup red onion, chopped - I use more like 1/2-2/3 of a cup
1 pint 10oz grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Bring water to a boil, then add quinoa and let simmer for 15 min or until water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl stir together cooled quinoa, chickpeas, onion, parsley, tomatoes. Add olive oil, lemon juice and salt.
Refrigerate for at least 1h (I prefer to leave it overnight).

Tadaaaaa...
2. Apple raisin bars

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 servings vanilla protein powder
1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup non fat plain yoghurt - my favorite is Oikos 0%
1/2 cup (4 egg whites) or egg substitute
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons canola or macadamia-nut oil (I didn't have any of these and I used sunflower oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium apples, shredded
1/2 cup raisins, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, protein powder, sugar, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Stir to blend.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine yoghurt, egg whites, water, oil, and vanilla. Stir in shredded apples and raisins. Add wet ingredients to bowl containing dry ingredients. Stir to blend until uniformly moistened. Spread batter in pan.
Bake for 15-17 min until center is solid (mine took 25 min). Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Wrap individually in plastic bags and store in the fridge or freezer.

I cut into 12 bars, they were big enough for snack or breakfast. Very yummy and not that sweet.
It looks a bit complicated, but aside from shredding the applies and chopping the raisins (mine were gigantic), there is no preparation needed. Just mix and bake.

3. Blueberry spelt quick bread

Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups whole grain spelt flour (or whole wheat flour) - I didn't have spelt flour, I used the whole wheat version.
1/2 cup sugar - I used brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil or canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat over to 325 degrees F. Lightly coat a loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mix well.
In a second bowl, mix oil, applesauce and eggs. Add the dry mix to the liquid ingredients and stir until everything is moistened. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into loaf pan.
Bake for 30-35min, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.
Store leftover slices in plastic bags in the fridge or the freezer.


Bon appetit!

Yeah, I know - that's still a lot of carbs, but they are good carbs. Eat moderately and think that they will make you lean(er). Maybe... I'm doing the experiment for you :-)

I promise to talk only greens next time!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

IMMT Training Week 7: A different kind of struggle

I'm a bit late with this blog post, but last week was absolutely draining, mentally and emotionally. On the flipside, the workouts weren't that bad and I even threw in some corporate fun. Ping pong anyone? I organized this tournament at work as a team building activity and we played round 1 this week. I lost to a stronger opponent, but I'm still in for doubles. That was somewhat expected since I only played twice in the last 5-6 years. We also played some games outside of the tournament which sure made my heart pumping and sweat dripping. One hour of smashing and jumping, and the next day my arm and back on the right side reminded me that I had not used these muscles in a long time. It totally counted as 1h of effort, no doubt about it.

Swim
My longest ever swim in a pool was on Tuesday morning and it gave me the feeling that I could conquer the world that day. 3100m, boom! Followed by 2250m during group swim on Thursday and 2000m on Sunday. Biggest week ever!! It was also the slowest in a while, but I can't have it all. It didn't bother me a second. I take whatever the pool gods give me and not drowning is always a WIN.

Bike
One hour easy here, one hour easy there... then boom again! Monday's ride was a snooze-fest, and on Thursday, hubbs made me a "custom" Trainer Road workout, just for me. I loved it (that's because it felt easy)!
However, the group spin on Saturday brought back memories... and sweat, and tears. I tried dialing it down, but I still stuck with the group effort until the last imaginary hill.
I even beat my 30min record. What about that, eh? Maybe it's time to do one of these 8 or 20 min tests again, even though I don't feel quite ready for putting all the hurt on my glutes and knees. I'll wait for coach to give me the green light. I think he's planned one of these tests for us in 2 or 3 weeks, and that should be just what I need.

Run
Two treadmill runs to keep my legs moving and they were both dreadful. Being alone with my thoughts this week did not count as success. Both times my mind went wondering in muddy places and slipped into some dangerous sinkholes. I even had a major freak out 40 min into the run on Tuesday and started bawling my eyes out while on the treadmill. Thankfully nobody I knew was there to witness my meltdown. I managed to compose myself again and did not fall face forward on the belt, but it was a close one. Since then, I've talked to a few people, and it helped tremendously. I am a work in progress anyway...

On Sunday, I needed some fresh air to clear my head. I debated whether to go outside or not the whole day, but since another introspection without distraction was not advisable, I eventually dug out my winter clothes and went outside to brave the cold, wind and (some) hills. I got reminded how much harder running outside in winter is. To add excitement to my run, I may or may not have caused a car accident, but since both drivers started yelling at each other instead of pointing at me, I continued my 11km solitary journey, now with something else to occupy my brain. Back home, I even managed to crack a tiny smile.
Running is supposed to do that to you, right? It was a nice reminder... that I can fight this.

In a nutshell
Tough week, mentally rather than physically. Survived it. This coming week will be another kind of tough as I keep thinking about a friend of mine who lost her daughter in a house fire on Friday. The Universe is so evil sometimes, I wish it left the good people alone. Too sad for words, over and out.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

IMMT Training Week 6: Achievement Unlocked!

Three swims, three bike workouts and three runs: all done this week!! Man it feels good to have everything done before 11am on a Sunday! I feel like a winner for having managed to give my weekend a sense of normalcy, despite the fact that most of the time I was hungry and wanted to EAT ALL THE FOOD! Rest assured, I didn't. I managed to put on more weight though, go figure. But back to what I can control, let's talk about the time and effort put into my workouts.

Swim

Tuesday at Mayfield Pool. My lane, my pool. I will let the numbers below speak for themselves. On the left, the same workout back on Feb 4. On the right, 20 days later, this Tuesday. It may have been just a great day, or maybe I'm seeing progress. Either way, these results surprised me.
Thursday - I am conflicted about this one. The picture below should, again, speak for itself.
Details below:
Warm up:
100m breathe 3rd and 5th by 25
100m kick on side
100m kick on back
100m single arm drill
4 x 25m fast on 45 sec
Main Set:
2 x [100m ez on 2:45 + 100 m fast on 2:30]
2 x [100m ez on 2:45 + 100 m fast on 2:25]
1 min rest
4 x 25m band only on :50
1 x 100m pull + band on 2:30
6 x 25m band only on :55
1 x 100m pull + band on 2:30
4 x 25m band only on :55 (there were 4 more after this but I ran out of time)
I hate BANDS. That is all.

As to Sunday's swim, I did manage to get to Cassie Campbell at 7am and join the Aquatic Zoo. I learned later in the day that Cobra Swim Club's masters practice got cancelled and half of the squad was in the pool. I went in the fast lane with 2 other folks who kept on lapping me with each length. Beside feeling very inadequate the entire time I was there, I also felt sluggish and could barely move my arms. Not sharing any of those times, nope. They were lame, lame, lame.

Bike

Started the week with Leavitt, chosen especially for me by hubbs. Thanks, hon. It was not pretty. My glutes were so sore from the previous weekend's workouts, I wasn't sure I'd even survive half of it. I chose to lower the intensity to 92%, but even there, I was sweating like crazy and cursing my legs for being heavy and not willing to cooperate.
The second workout is not worth talking about. Put myself on cruise control, watched True Detective again. Two more episodes until the season finale!!!

Saturday's group spin was another sweat fest. I am not sure how much time we were supposed to spend at threshold, but I scored 15 minutes!! Remember, I am not allowed to go hard yet. Overall, I nailed my Z2 average, but it felt really good to push some higher watts for a change.
Run

First two runs were boring as hell, as usual on the treadmill. The last one, a different type of boring.
Since I had paid the $8 for the pool, I decided to take advantage of the track as well. More for the buck, right? 1h10 swim, followed by a 1h10 run?... Hmmm. It seemed like a good idea until I put foot on the track, then fought to put another one in front of the first. And another one, and another one. It took me 10km to find my rhythm. And 7 laps later, 77 in total, I was done, so that was that. I remember feeling very thirsty and glad that I was not the only one to spend 1h running in circles. But you know what? I outran everyone on the treadmill. Definitely in the weights area too. Even on the voleyball court. And on the hockey rink, maybe.

I'm pretty sure I also outran the guy who came to ask me whether I'd run Boston, due to my tshirt, then went on saying that he ran 56 marathons, including Boston multiple times. Ummm. Sure, dude. Sure. Good for you.

Shortly after I finished, I took these pics. I could barely keep my eyes open, but the feeling of accomplishment was pretty strong with this one. This is the image of DONE.
In a nutshell

10h of workouts, finally!! Level 1 Complete. Achievement unlocked!!
Bring it on, Level 2!