Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Where Did My Mojo Go?

It's less than two weeks until my first triathlon with an open water swim, and can I just say that I'm feeling a bit unprepared?  I don't know what it is about the open water, but I just feel like it's such a struggle for me.  OK, I do know what it is...it's the fear of being eaten by a shark or having an encounter with some other sea creature.  (Yes, I am completely serious!)  I have discovered that I really love to swim in a pool, but that love just doesn't translate to the Bay.  The few open water swims I have done have gone less than stellar, and I'm afraid that I am going to freak out and have to be pulled from the race by the safety swimmers.

Does anyone remember Sigmund the Sea Monster?
Anyway, I've spent so much time focused on my swimming over the past couple of weeks that my other workouts have been lacking.  I keep thinking I have more time, but I realized yesterday that this week is really *it*.  Next week will be a taper week so my workouts will be shorter.

I know I can cover the distances, and the bike and run will be flat...but I think I've taken that fact for granted and have been less than diligent with my training.  OK, I'll confess that I haven't even followed a training plan!  I just focused on swimming three times a week, and I'd run and bike on the other days depending on what I felt like doing.  That plan doesn't work out so well, it turns out.  Seems like most weeks I've swam 2-3 times, run once and biked once.  Bad triathlete!  (On the plus side, I've got in quite a bit of golf lately - and golf makes me very happy.)

I think it had to do with going straight from training for one event (Moraga) directly into training for another without a break - training burnout coupled with overconfidence...I will be happy just to cross the finish line at the Mermaid Tri.  But you know what?  I'm OK with that.  I do these events for fun.  (Well, except for the sheer open water terror!) I do these events because I love the atmosphere.  I do them to keep from becoming a huge couch potato. And I do them to challenge myself not just physically, but mentally.  The fact that I'm even willing to do this swim is a huge accomplishment in my book!

This year is all about just getting my feet wet in the world of triathlon...learning if I can even do it (I can!), seeing if I enjoy it (I do!), but also seeing how much time I'm willing to commit to it.  At this point, I think I've struck a pretty good balance.

Monday, May 20, 2013

See Jane Run Race Discount

Chocolate and champagne...wouldn't you like to finish a race and have both of these things waiting for you at the finish line.  Well you can!

The See Jane Run Half Marathon & 5k are quickly approaching - June 8 in Alameda.  If you'd like to sign up for either one of these distances, I've got a 10% discount code for you.  Just go here for all of the details and registration info.  Use code 
SJRSFAMB13 and get 10% off the registration fee. Sweet, right?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Swimming Like It's My Job

Um...did I mention that I signed up for another triathlon?  Well, I did.  It's the Mermaid Triathlon next month and it involves a 400 meter swim in the bay.  That's right...I'm going to swim in the San Francisco Bay - extremely cold water with fishes and seaweed and hopefully no sharks.

There is also a 12 mile bike ride and a 2.5 mile run.  Rumor has it that this course is completely flat, so that will be a nice change of pace from Moraga.

But back to the swimming...I told myself that if I was going to sign up for the Mermaid Tri, I had to swim like it's my job between now and June so I would feel confident about it.  So of course, I needed a plan.  And god bless the interwebs because there is a plan for everything including a swimming plan made just for little old me!

Zero to 1650 is a program that will take you from swimming 700 yards in one session to swimming a mile in six weeks.  (There is even a program that will get you to 700 yards if you haven't yet mastered that distance.)

Let me tell you, I can't get over what a difference this plan is making.  First of all, it's nice to go the pool with an actual plan instead of my usual "I should swim x yards today."  Going back and forth with no clear goal was getting boring, and when I get bored I tend to cut it short.  Now I arrive and know exactly what I'm going to do.  All of the sets are completely manageable for someone with my limited ability and endurance.  And dare I say it, I'm starting to fall in love with swimming!  I'm not saying I'm getting any faster, but my endurance is increasing at a good rate which is making it much more fun.

I need this swim cap!

I can't say enough good things about this program for someone who is new to swimming but wants a progressive way to gain endurance.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chi Running Clinic

I have been running pretty consistently - with a little time off due to injuries - for almost six years now.  I'd like to think that after all of this time I would be getting faster.  Or at least I would be able to run without it always feeling like such a struggle.  But sadly, this is not the case.

I see people run down the street and I envy the ease with which they seem to be moving.  I feel like I'm always plodding along, huffing and puffing with every step.  I used to love to run around when I was a kid and I know it didn't feel so hard then.  And while I'm sure it was easier to run when I was a third of the size I am know, I know that as I kid I never thought about running...I just did it.

A few years ago for Christmas I was given a copy of the book "Chi Running."  It's tagline is "A training program for effortless, injury-free running."  Sounds pretty good, right?  

So I started to read it but only got about a third of the way through the book.  The truth is, I'd much rather be out running than reading about running.  And while the book had lots of direction about form and posture, it's hard to tell if I'm doing things correctly without someone there analyzing my form - someone who actually knows what they are looking for.  So the book is somewhere in my house collecting dust on a shelf at this point.

But lately I feel like I've really been struggling with my running and I've been getting frustrated so I decided to look into Chi Running a little more.  It turns out that there was a half day clinic being held in San Francisco on Saturday, so I signed up.  I figured a little in-person attention was probably more what I needed than just reading about something.

As it turns out, I am the only one who signed up for this session so I got my own personalized one-on-one Chi Running clinic.   It was really great.  We spent about half the time indoors talking about the history and the principals of Chi Running.  We worked on posture - getting my body in-line to be more efficient when I run. Then it was time to head outside and put into practice what we'd been talking about.

I learned so much about my running form vs. good running form.  For example, I'm a heel striker and my cadence is slow.  By just being conscious of landing mid-foot and increasing my cadence, running felt so much easier and less like pounding the pavement.  The instructor also filmed me running and she is going to analyze the video and give me more feedback.

So I'd say it was definitely worth it for me.  I can't wait to get back out there and run more and practice what I've learned.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Back to Work

After completing my first triathlon, I gave myself a week to do pretty much whatever I wanted as far as exercise. I took a couple of recovery days.  Swam a couple of times.  (It helped that it was 90 degrees last week.) Instead of going for a run, I did sprints one day.  I took a couple more recovery days.  You get the picture.  I always enjoy the week after an event when I don't feel like I have to do a certain workout on a particular day.  Although if I don't sign up for events on a regular basis, I can easily fall into the habit of doing nothing.

But as of Monday, I'm back on track and feeling strong.  I had a fantastic swim on Monday night and another one tonight.  I went for a short run last night and followed it up with some strength training.  My friend talked me into doing an ab challenge for the month of May, which is something I really need.  I think my core strength is non-existent.

Hoping to build abs of steel underneath the extra padding.
I even feel like I've been eating well this week.  This has always been my biggest challenge, especially since my husband stopped eating meat as he is the cook in the family.  I had to resort to having him teach me how to BBQ chicken. 

I'm trying hard not to focus too much on the scale and focus more on getting strong.  I'd like to be able to toe the line at the See Jane Run Triathlon in October weighing quite a few pounds less - after all, it will make getting up the hills easier.  But more importantly, I want to be stronger.

I'm at the point where I'm not worried about covering the miles.  I know I can swim the distance, run the distance, bike the distance.  I've already biked and run the course at the duathlon last year.  It would be nice to do it faster this year.  And I think if I focus on getting stronger, the speed will follow.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

See Jane Run

It's only been a few days since I finished my first triathlon.  In fact before I even dipped my toe into the water this past weekend, I had already signed up for another tri - the See Jane Run Triathlon being held on October 5 in Pleasanton.

See Jane Run is a local women's running store chain in the Bay Area.  Every spring they hold a half marathon and 5k in the area, and they also put on a few more events in different states.  They also partner with various running clubs to provide training for the events. I did the 5k in both 2011 and 2012.  In fact, my 5k PR was earned last year on the See Jane Run course so the run holds a special place in my racing history.  And seriously, how can you go wrong at a race where you get chocolate and champagne at the finish line?

I also did the See Jane Run duathlon last fall.  I had such a great time and knew that I wanted to come back for the triathlon this year.  Their events are always so much fun and incredibly well organized.  And again, champagne and chocolate.  What's not to love?

So imagine how excited I was when I got an e-mail last week that started with this:  "Thank you so much applying to be a See Jane Run Ambassador! I am writing to let you know that you have been officially accepted to be a 2013 Ambassador: CONGRATULATIONS!"

That's right...I am a See Jane Run Ambassador! I'm going to be blogging and tweeting all about my training for the triathlon as well as reviewing some products. I will also have a discount code to share with all of you for 10% off any purchase at a See Jane Run store or on-line. And...I'll get a free race entry to a See Jane Run event of my choice. Since I've already signed up for the triathlon, I just might go back and try to set a new PR at the 5k next month.

Again, I'm so excited and honored to be able to represent such a great company. It's going to make training for the triathlon just a little more exciting.