Monday, November 10, 2014

Planning for Spring 2015

So now what? Now that my fall race season is done, it is time to think about the next thing, which for me is going to be a wild departure from the last few years. It's time to think about spring 2015.
The big one, of course, is that I want to focus on triathlon next year, possibly (POSSIBLY) working up to a late season 70.3 (I'm reluctant to fully commit to that until I have a better idea where my swim is at). This means for the first time over the winter I won't be solely focused on running, but on balancing and optimizing my training across three sports! Add in the whole family, kids, full time job thing and Yikes. Excuse me while I polish up my juggling skills.

Not actually me. Original here.

Although next year is looking like the Year of the Triathlon, I still want a late winter road race to motivate me. And I just have to run Around the Bay, because frankly I have yet to run an Around the Bay where I've been truly happy with my effort/performance. 4th time is the charm?

So my spring goals are:

Goal #1: PB at Around the Bay
Goal #2: Prep for a sprint triathlon (or two) (or three)

Around the Bay training

In order to balance things and work towards both those goals, I have decided to use a completely different training plan than I've used in the past. This is for a couple of reasons:

1) I want to work on my cycling base over the winter, which means I need to incorporate significant cycling into my exercise routine. Since I'd also like to sleep occasionally, and maybe spend some time with my family, that means I need to spend less time running.

2) My fall race season showed that my run times/progress have stagnated and it's time to shake things up and try something different.

I've decided to use the Run Less, Run Faster program to train for Around the Bay. It makes a lot of sense because it's only three days of running per week, but requires a minimum of two days of cross training - with cycling being one of the recommended types. So it's ideally suited for my winter/spring goals. It's not, however, an easy program. The runs are going to be tough, because every run is a quality run. The interval workouts are a bit terrifying, to be honest! But I'm also excited to try something new and different.

Bike & Swim

So that's the running plan. How will I work on cycling and swimming?

I am taking over the family room. Which since we cancelled cable is mostly a laundry staging area anyway, so not a great loss. Although I might have to cover the bike in Christmas lights in December so she'll fit in with the usual festive decor.
RLRF requires minimum 2 days of cross training, but encourages more than that. This week I'm starting a Trainer Road base building plan, with 3 weekly rides. I wouldn't have been able to do this even two years ago, but now that my kids are 9 and 6 they are more than capable of amusing themselves while I ride the trainer, so I don't have to wait for my husband to be home to get in a workout. This is rather novel! Although my hours spent training will likely be higher, being able to do some of them without having to worry about who is watching the kids is a huge change.

Foxy probably won't come off the trainer until spring, so Big Red - my trusty hybrid -  has emerged from the back of the garage for weekend riding, at least until the temps get too cold and it starts to snow.
Swimming is...intimidating. For November and December, I'm committing myself to one swim a week. There's a pool near home with an early morning lane swim, and one near my office with lunch hour adult swim, so I really have no excuse not to go splash around for 30 minutes at least once a week. I'll add a second swim when I'm feeling more comfortable with the whole thing, and I figure out which pool/schedule works best so I can buy a pass instead of paying per session. Once I'm comfortable in the water I'd like to find a local tri coach for some form help, but for now I'm going to settle for  a) not drowning and b) not panicking over the whole idea. I've gone to one swim so far and it went better than I expected, so hopefully by the end of December I'll be feeling confident enough to start swim swimming seriously.

I had to keep reminding myself not to close my eyes! Swimming with goggles is cool.
So, that's where I'm at. So far I've signed up for ATB as my next big goal race. After ATB my husband wants to do the 10k at Mississauga, so that's a spring date night for us. Since I know a lot of my local friends will be doing the Mississauga full or half marathon the next morning, I decided to sign up as a volunteer for those races. One of the volunteer options was bike marshal, so that's what I picked! Seems like it might be fun. We'll see if they accept me and I get to do it.

I also have to choose my triathlons. After a quick look at locations and dates, the most likely possibilities are Woodstock and Welland from the Multisport Canada series (where'd Binbrook go?), or Milton and Guelph Lake I from the Subaru series. I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Race report: Road 2 Hope half marathon

Last race of the year, last shot at that sub 1:50 half marathon goal.

Going into this I was not feeling confident, at all. After Oakville I took a full week off running, and then eased back into things. I had enough time between the two races that I could have done a three week mini-build with speedwork and tempos and such, but instead I pretty much half-assed it. I mean my training was decent but not exactly the hardcore type of stuff I probably should have been doing to take a real run at a PB. And my right hip was bothering me off and on, blah blah blah excuse-cakes.

So my head wasn't really into it, but sometimes you just gotta try and maybe you’ll surprise yourself.

Or maybe there will be a headwind. D’oh. Am I giving away the ending?

Annnnnnyway, race expo Friday, picked up the ugliest race shirt of the year (the Sulphur Springs shirt was also hideous, but at least it doesn't have the big ol' makes everyone look pregnant swoosh over the belly), took it easy Saturday, woke up early Sunday well rested and ready to go.

Oh so THAT'S how you do duckface. Seriously, I'm not pregnant. WTF shirt.
The husband type person and I made our way over to Confederation Park and got stuck in the massive traffic jam leading into the park – note to self for next year, leave a bit earlier and take the back way to bypass that nonsense.

Many filters applied to this picture to make us look slightly less zombie-ish.
Still we made it onto a shuttle bus and up to the start with enough time to spare to stand in the porta potta line and then meet up with various running friends. My husband finally got to meet Zindine, who I've been cheerfully blaming for all my bike-related purchases. Sorry to throw you under the bus on that one, Zindine!

Pre-race with the girls, photo via Kim. Nicole, Sam, Patty, Amy, Kim. Me.

Soon enough it was time to go. The usual bottleneck at the start, but I just followed Nicole and we got to pace fairly quickly.

About 1k in I felt someone brush up against my butt and was like WTF? Then I realized it was my husband passing me, on his way to a sub 1:46 (and if his ankle hadn't decided to be an asshole in the last 2k he would have been easily sub 1:45). So happy for him setting a new PB! And that it wasn't some random stranger grabbing my ass!

I’d forgotten how very long the first section of this race feels, because you are looking forward to the downhill on the expressway, but there’s still a solid 5k to do before you get there. I was feeling good, though, and the pace Nicole was setting was coming fairly easily.

(I'm going to be up front here - I'm just too lazy to type in all the splits. Send me a follow request on Strava if you are dying to see them. Otherwise just picture the first 14k as going well, and the rest as slow and painful).

On to the Red Hill, where the downhill made us pick up the pace, but the headwind made it not nearly as easy feeling as I would have liked. As we got towards the bottom Amy let us know she would be dropping back, and I thought how nice it would be to drop back with her, but put the thought out of my mind because my legs were feeling great and there was no reason to back off at that point. I took my usual gel at 8k and everything was ticking along nicely. Patty had decided early on to hang back with Kim, so it was down to just me with Nicole & Sam.

Off the Red Hill, where Nicole dropped back at a water station, caught up, but then dropped off for good (which I didn't realize until we were like a km further along – I was in the ZONE through this section). The stupid brick hill was stupid, as usual, and it was obvious there was going to be a strong headwind when we got down to the beach and started the out portion towards Burlington. I wasn't looking forward to that. I made this bizarre pact with myself that I wasn't going to tell Sam that THIS SUCKS until we were at least to 14k. Like somehow if I didn't say it out loud it wouldn't actually be true.

My husband going up the stupid brick hill on our scouting run a few weeks ago - I swear they make it bigger and steeper on race day.

Sure enough once we turned the wind was like FUCK YOU AND YOUR DREAMS OF A PB! HAHAHAHAHA! I turned to Sam and said ‘this wind fucking sucks’ and whoops, the person running just behind my left shoulder was not so much Sam. He did agree with me, though! So I was running solo and largely by feel, knowing I should be reasonably on pace if I could just hold something around 5:10-5:15/km.

That didn't happen.

Not even CLOSE.

My thumbs say yay, but my eyes say wow do my legs hurt. Check out that nice scenery, though - it is a lovely place to run.
Instead my pace into the wind settled into the 5:30 range, and even that was taking a lot of me. When I reached the turn around and was finally heading into the last 5k towards the finish, I glanced at the ‘overall average pace’ on my watch and tried to do the math, which always goes well late in a race while oxygen deprived. I was pretty sure sub 1:50 was out of reach, but realized if I could push just a little harder I could probably come in at 1:50:xx for a PB.

Oh, I'm having a great time, why do you ask? Sam found this photo for me on facebook. Original source.

So I pushed and sped up. And that lasted for a grand total of one km. Then the legs said nope. Nothing left for the last 4k, with my only motivation to not walk being that the sooner I could get to the finish, the sooner it would be over. Also, it turns out I got two giant blood blisters on my left foot, thanks to some overly enthusiastic callus maintenance last week. Don’t mess with your foot calluses the week before a race, kids! It will not end well!

Chip time: 1:52:07
Overall place: 589/1707
Age group place: 40/143
Gender place: 212/1005

Last year's medal was a lot nicer.
So yep, I blew up. But I’m glad I tried! Also, I’m glad that’s over with and I can spend November just running and cycling whatever and whenever I want, with no training plan. That sounds really, really, REALLY appealing right now. I may have a date with this race again next year, though. I am rather fond of it, ugly t shirts and ugly wind and all.

Hot soup at the finish is the BEST THING EVER. I'm guessing it comes out of a giant can labelled Campbell's, but seriously, BEST. All cold weather races should have soup.

Post race also via Kim, with the addition of Patty's husband (first half! congrats to him!) and that dude who hangs out with me sometimes.
Speaking of next year, there are many plans a foot (the upcoming races list over in the sidebar has some new additions; swimming is in my very near future…), but I’ll post about that separately in a few days. Or a week. Or something. Stay tuned! Next official training plan starts in early December!