Indoor Tri’s, Great Friends + Brunch: The Perfect Combo

A couple of weeks ago, Lifetime Fitness held their series of indoor triathlons. I was able to participate in the event at their Eagan club. As this was my 5th year participating, I was pretty well aware of what to expect. 10 minutes of swimming followed by 30 minutes of biking on the spin bike and ending with 20 minutes of running on the treadmill. This event really has a special place in my heart as a few friends and I do the event together and grab brunch afterwards. A sweet little reward after 70 minutes of hard work.

I was really looking forward to this year’s indoor tri to see if my Ironman training has made an impact on my results. I knew I wasn’t going to go my normal pace on the run due to my nagging knee injury but had set some aggressive (for me) goals on the swim (goal – 23 lengths) and bike (goal – 11.3 miles).

My group had an early wave time so we got toimg_3186 the pool and got prepped while the first wave was just finishing their swim. I always like to set my gear out in the locker so it’s easy to grab after the swim portion and I don’t have to think about what I need to dig out of my bag or find in a pocket. After a pre-swim rules review, the whistle sounded and we were off. My swim strategy was just to settle into a good pace and hold that for the 10 minutes. As I pushed off the wall on my first length, I noticed that my friend and “next lane over” mate took off well ahead of me. “No need to panic and sprint to keep up, just stay consistent” I kept telling myself. Luckily, I caught her after a few lengths and I could relax a bit again. Upon hearing the 1 minute warning whistle, I was at 20 lengths and knew I could get 2 more in. So down and back I went again and just after touching the wall to finish the 22nd length, the final whistle blew. I missed my goal by just 1 length but overall, I very happy with 22.

img_3182Off we went to change into our bike gear and I mentally prepped for what I consider my strongest portion of any triathlon (indoor or out). Lifetime gives 10 minutes to change for the bike and it’s amazing how fast the time goes by. If you aren’t hustling, you will likely miss the start of the bike and you won’t get a full 30 minutes. We quickly changed and shuffled, in our bike shoes, our way to the cycle studio. After I set up my bike and got settled into the saddle, I got into the push-pull mindset and set my legs to work as the Lifetime crew yelled “Go”. I must admit that I like pushing as big of watts as I can on the bike. Working my way up the mileage, I set my mind on the 11.3-mile goal. The volunteers in the cycle studio were awesome, they were very encouraging and kept us all motivated. In the last few minutes, I was racing the clock and pushing hard for the 11.3. I fell just short again and ended with 11.2. But no sad faces, I was thrilled with the result. In both the swim and bike, I had results that surpassed any of my previous indoor tri results.

As I mentioned, I knew I was going to take it easy on the run due to a knee pain that img_3185keeps cropping up. More to come on physical therapy and remediation in future posts. I got myself to a comfortable pace on the treadmill and just enjoyed the last 20 minutes of the event, laughing with the volunteers about the below freezing temps and already looking forward to the brunch food that would be in the near future.

I had a blast at my 5th indoor tri and was happy with my results (my solid swim and bike landed me an overall 1st place finish). Lifetime Fitness truly does an excellent job running these events. Capping the morning off with a delicious mimosa and quiche with my friends is what I call a great race!

Cheers!

Photo credit: Grifftown Photography

New Year + Finding Focus

Happy 2019! Hard to believe another year has come and gone again.  It seems like they go by so quickly now.

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Photo by Murilo Folgosi

My biggest accomplishment for the month of December (and a bit into January) is the big improvements in my swim.  Yes, I still loathe swimming but my swim times have been dropping week after week.  I started with well over a 2:00/100 yard pace and now I am down closer to 1:38/100 yards.  For me, that is huge!!!  I spent quite a bit of time reading about swim technique, watching videos and thinking about how my body moves through the water.  It’s paying off and I am pumped.

Cycling has taking on a fun element as I went back to using Zwift for training purposes.  I don’t own a power meter so I needed a way to measure my power output (at least close to it) in order to follow the prescribed training.  I love that Zwift uses a formula to give you an approximate power output and it’s fun to ride with others around the world.  I “may” have even added some additional fun rides on top of my training. 😉

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Unfortunately, I am still working through a persistent knee injury that started last September.  I took a long time off of running to see if it would help and although the pain level isn’t terrible anymore, it is still sore after my runs.  This is something I need to get figured out soon as my runs will only get longer and more intense.  More to come with a future doctor visit.

Last but certainly not least, I have been busy working on a race plan for 2019. There are so many races I want to do but had to think about them strategically and how they will build up to IMWI. I have never thought that way.  In the past, I just signed up for races I enjoyed in the past, worked with my schedule or sounded fun.  It’s been interesting to apply a little strategy to planning, but since the list hasn’t been blessed by coach, it could still change.

That’s all from me for now!

Cheers!

Just Keep Swimming….and Reading

I am officially starting my 4th full week of IMWI training today. Whew! This is just the beginning and it’s already hard. Not hard in a sense of the workout being difficult (except swimming, more on that later), but just trying to fit it all in. Being a mom of 2 amazing kiddos which I have 50% of the time and an full time IT professional, already fills up my calendar but then you add in 1-2 hour daily workouts and it’s a juggle. Most days I am getting up super early or doing my best to fit my workout in during the day on my lunch break. I feel like it’s a game of Jenga, move a piece here and move a piece there and hope it doesn’t topple over.  So far, so good but I am certain it will only get harder.

Let’s talk about swimming.  In 3 1/2 weeks I have logged  14,000 yards in the pool. Woah!  I realize that to some that may have swam in high school or for a club, that isn’t a lot. But for this girl, who didn’t swim much growing up and prior triathlon training consisted of about 800 yards of swimming per week at best, 14,000 is A LOT.  I am still adjusting to say the least. I am not a fast swimmer so it takes me forever to complete a swim workout. And I am exhausted at the end. Coach just keeps telling that it will get better with frequency and consistency.  I am sure he is right but not going to lie, it is hard and a bit demoralizing still.  And boring, let me tell you.  There is nothing more boring than swimming (sorry swimmers).  Nothing to look at or listen to except sloshing water and the black line on the bottom of the pool.  I usually count to pass the time.  Count my strokes, every other stroke or how many laps I have done or to go.  I think I need to invest in some underwater swimming headphones!

Gotta keep telling myself, “this is the easy work, enjoy it now, it’s only going to get harder, just keep swimming.”

On another note, I thought I would be fun to highlight some of the books I have been reading lately.  If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I love to go to the library.  I usually walk out with a stack of books that I know I will never get through before they are due back.  It’s like going to the buffet on an empty stomach, I always want to check out more books than I can handle. Reading certainly fills my soul with happiness and I often neglect to give that need enough attention. My kids and I have stopped at the library every couple weeks and I walked out with a ton of running, endurance and training books, and promptly got to reading them.

I just finished Running Home: Big-League Wife, Small-Town Story by Alisha Perkins.

What initially attracted me to this book was that it was about a local gal and talked about a ton of local races that I had run myself. What I didn’t realize until I had started the book was that it was also about the author overcoming anxiety through running.  It was so awesome to read about how running helped her clear her mind and made her a better mom, wife, daughter and friend. It was fun to read about her journey, how she got started running and how she tackled her running, fitness and self improvement goals.  Loved it!

I also recently finished Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor.

The mind-body connection is so incredible and often overlooked.  Deena Kastor writes about how positive thinking can be a tool to help you achieve your physical goals like running.  Deena talks about racing different race distances and strategies she and her coach would enlist to turn her into distance running record holder (holla sub 15 min 5k).  I loved how she described running and how she would hone in on the smallest of things like the sound of feet striking the ground or the breathing of a competitor.  I am certainly not saying that I will be racing IMWI competitively (only to compete with myself) but that how I mentally prepare for and think while in a race can greatly impact my performance. I finished the book feeling very inspired!

Next post I will do a race recap of the TC 10 Miler. Stay tuned!

Cheers!

Coaching + First Training Day

48 weeks until Ironman Wisconsin.  It sure seems like a looooong way away.

In the last week I checked a few things off my list.  I hired a coach.  I definitely knew this was a must for me.  In the last 6 years of doing multi-sport events I have, mostly, coached myself.  Just taking a guess on what I should train (swim, bike, run, strength, sometime yoga) on a given day.  I had no rhyme or reason, just whatever I felt like doing and for however long I wanted or had available.  So in thinking about my approach to IMWI, I knew I needed guidance.  And a lot of it.  I had, and still have, so many questions about how to become a better runner, how to plan for nutrition while training and racing, how to plan shorter races into my training, how to deal with fatigue and injury, and the list goes on and on.

So I went where all good research happens, the googles! I did some quick searching and website scouring of local triathlon coaches and came upon Final K Sporting Services.

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They offer one on one coaching services, run and swim analysis and other awesome services.  They have a group of coaches that can be paired up with an athlete based on what their goals are. Awesome! I spoke with the owner, Kris and got some more info and moved forward with signing up as an athlete with Final K.  Kris is my coach and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have a resource to ask questions and help me with planning my training and racing.  I sure hope he is ready for my onslaught of questions. 🙂

So, Kris hooked me up with Training Peaks and some training plans for the next few weeks and I got started. By the way, Training Peaks is super cool. I am a data geek and I love that I can automatically connect my Garmin to the platform and it send my data and links it to the training plan.  I also love how you can see how the upcoming training, you can log how the training you just finished felt and send notes to your coach about how much you hated or loved it.  Awesome tool right at your fingertips!

Day 1 – SWIMMING….dun dun duuuuhhh! Ugh, I have to admit, I haven’t been in the pool for quite a while.  Probably about 6-8 months.  If a race I had included a swim, I just went and did the swim during the race and didn’t do any prep or training for it.  Bad Julie!

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This swim session called for a warm up and then some 200 yard drills.  In all about 2000 yards total.  For a non-swimmer who hadn’t been in the pool in quite a while, it was hard.  But necessary!

Anyone else geek out and watch the Ironman NOW coverage of IM Chattanooga on Sunday.  I did.  So inspiring to watch these races and athletes.  Unfortunately they had to cancel the swim portion of the race due to heavy rains and fast currents.  Those lucky dogs! Ha!

Cheers!

Bike Fitting + My Vintage Ride

Step 1 – Sign up for the crazy adventure called Ironman. Check.

Step 2 – Up Next. Get a professional bike fit.

NOW

Yesterday I headed over to Now Bikes in St. Paul to meet Bob, the bike fit guru and all around nice guy.  Before work, I loaded up my pre-owned and loved Cervelo P2 into the truck and packed some bike shorts and bike shoes in my gym bag.  I was really excited about the bike fit.  I was anxious to learn about how I SHOULD be positioned on my bike verses how I was riding it for the last 2 years.  At 10:45, I quickly changed into my bike gear and headed to my bike fit appointment.  Let me just say, every time I have been in Now Bikes, they are friendly, knowledgeable and patient.  Most of the time, I have a million questions and stand there trying to make a decision for a long time about something (even a water bottle cage).  They are so kind and patiently answer my questions.

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After giving Bob the low down on my bike; where I got it, how many hours I have been on it, etc, he took some measurements and adjusted the high tech bike fit machine to match the Cervelo. What was really evident quickly was that the Cervelo is too long for me.  It’s the right size for my leg length but not for my short torso. So I was like Superman on my bike but not as fast as Superman. Ha! I explained to Bob that often my shoulders and lower back hurts while I am on my bike. He advised that I needed to be less laid out on the bike, my shoulders straight across, my upper arms straight down from my shoulders and my back is flat.

We moved the seat up and down, the handlebars up and down, back and forth till we got to a very comfortable spot.  Then Bob blew my mind by bring my seat forward to be further over the pedals. All of the sudden it became easier to pedal as I was now using my glut and hamstring muscles in partnership with my quads.  Woah, life changer!! What a difference!

So I left the Cervelo in the good hands of the bike gods at Now Bikes to get a makeover.  A whole new cockpit will be installed in order to bring the bars in closer to my knees and widen out aero bars. A new seat (one that is made more for a female body) will be swapped out (CANNOT wait for that) as I will be sitting on that seat for many, many hours. And lastly, a new cassette and chain put on. About a week from now, I get to go pick the Cervelo back up.  I will miss that old guy!  Bob called the Cervelo “vintage”, a name I will lovingly adopt!

Cheers!

The Journey Begins – Today is Day 1

Well hello!  Thanks for popping by. Hopefully you either stumbled on my site by accident and decided to check it out or you purposely came here because you are my mom (hi mom), my family (obligated) or you want to follow me and read about my journey to my first Ironman.  Hopefully I won’t bore you too much.  My blogging approach will be very “inner monologue” so I do hope that is entertaining enough to keep you coming back for more.

I keep hearing over and over again that your first Ironman (mmm, not sure there will be a second), is a journey of self discovery.  You will probably hear the word JOURNEY over and over again from me.  I can’t seem to find a better word to describe what I think this next year will look like.  I hope that it’s not only a journey toward a physical finish line but also a mental and spiritual journey as well. I guess we will see over the coming months.

So yesterday I made the craziest decision I have ever made in my life and registered for Ironman Wisconsin 2019. I am surprisingly calm about it. It took me 5 years of saying, “I want to do Ironman someday” to get here and I really thought I would have some hesitation, but I don’t.  Not even an ounce.  Am I a bit scared, yup, sure am. But more scared about the unknowns (what the training will entail, how much will I hurt, etc) than anything else.  The race, The Ironman race itself, I am excited about.  I KNOW I can get there and I KNOW I can finish it. A whole lot of finishing this amazing feat is mental, so I am starting with the most encouraging message I can tell myself and will keep repeating it as much as I need till I actually cross that finish line.

So come along on my journey with me.  Check back often, I am going to try and post updates at least once a week. And who knows, maybe you will be entertained and hopefully a little inspired to take on a big, hairy goal of your own.

Cheers!