Back to Basics

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This month marks my 6th year in triathlon, and I'm right back where I was back then - in the pool trying to figure out what I'm doing. In 2004, I signed up for my first triathlon - the Lifetime Fitness olympic tri in Minneapolis. I decided that February that I should probably start swimming, and before long, I swam my first mile. It was exhausting! Since then, Steve and I relearned to swim through Total Immersion, my stroke has gotten progressively better, and my endurance has greatly improved. Heck, I got through two Ironman swims! Lately, I've been trying to increase my speed, though, and this is not an easy feat. Steve had met a couple of times with the swim coach at our Y and has since seen a lot of improvement, so i decided to give it a try.

Andrea and I met on Tuesday on my day off. She had me swim a 100 while critiquing my stroke. The good news is that I don't have a lot to change. I need to rotate a bit more when I'm not breathing, and I need to keep my head a little higher in the water so my shoulders aren't the ones trying to cut through the water. She had me do a couple of drills, and things started to improve right away. The bad news is that the reason I am slow is not because my form is bad. I just need to get in more speed work. This means intervals, and lots of them. It was great having someone there watching me trying to do speedwork because I feel like my form falls apart when I do. She gave me a few tips and wants me to try 50 M intervals for now. This will get me used to keeping my form while increasing my speed. I'll be trying them this week!

Running: I finally got back outside on Friday after work. The sidewalks had cleared for a couple of days, but we got several inches of snow Friday evening, and I knew I needed to get outside before all of that snow got packed down. I managed 9.5 miles in the snow. At one point, I went to wipe my face and realized that my eyebrows had frozen solid! I laughed out loud at that one. My times were terrible because I was slipping and sliding all over the place, but there's something really special about running while it's snowing with the smell of wood burning fireplaces in the air.

Biking: I did a FIVE HOUR spin class today, and I survived the whole thing (check out Steve's blog for pics). They had 5 different instructors, which kept things interesting. The first lady was really engaging and gave us Oscar/movie/music trivia. It made the hour go by pretty fast. The next two instructors were pretty mellow, which was fine by me since I knew I had two hours left after that, but I can see how people who were finishing their workouts at that time could have felt a little jipped. The 3-4 hour lady was a little intense at first. I think she may have forgotten that some of us were there for 3 hours already! At one point, we were doing one second jumps, and I was not a happy camper, but I got used to the intensity, which was good because the last guy, Phil, was also pretty intense. Overall, I felt really strong. The class was mentally so much easier than the 4 hours I did in my basement on Tuesday. It helped that Steve, my brother Matt, my sister Steph, and Borsch were all there to keep me company for a while! It's so hard to judge how I'm actually doing on the trainer. My averages have not been great, and I can't tell if it's because I have too much pressure on my back wheel or if it's because I'm bored out of my mind. Quite possibly it's a combination of both. The fact that the class today was totally doable for me was pretty encouraging. There's a good chance that I won't get outdoors at all before New Orleans. I'm just hoping I'm doing enough of what I can...

Bloggy friends - Rural Girl was in town this weekend, so Steve and I had coffee with her and her awesome husband Jack this morning. We talked all things tri, New Orleans, training, and racing. Thanks again, Rural Girl! It made me even more excited to see everybody again in The Big Easy in just 6 weeks.

Training During a MN Winter

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New Orleans 70.3 is just 8 weeks away! Admittedly, I've not been following the plan exactly, but I've been getting in some great workouts.

Swimming: I've been swimming once or twice a week, at least a mile at a time. Ironman has sort of given me the mentality that it's not worth showing up if I'm going to do something short. I'm trying to focus on quality in addition to quantity. Last year I got a good start. I'd like to keep with the speed/quality work this year, too. I'm meeting with one of the swim instructors at the Y next week. I've never actually had a professional coach watch me swim. I know my stroke has gotten much better over the years, especially after Steve and I completed Total Immersion. Now I just need to get a bit faster! Hopefully Andrea will have some pointers for me. There's a lot of room to cut time off my swim split of a 70.3. We'll see if I can do it in a couple of months.

Bike: I've been getting to know my Cyclops trainer very well. Thanks to Borsch, we're well stocked on movies, so I've been doing at least one long ride a week along with a short ride or two per week. I really miss spin classes, but as I've said on here before, I'm not a fan of the ones my Y offers. Borsch had some recommendations for some instructors at his gym, so I may go to check them out! My sister even found a 5 hour spin class at the end of Feb, so I think I'm going to give it a go. My problem is that I can't force the kind of intensity that spin classes give when I'm in my basement. The trainer is fine for long endurance rides, but it gets a little lonely down there by myself! Thankfully, the NO bike course is pretty flat, because I won't be in hill shape by April. Speaking of the bike, I think I owe my trainer a 45 miler this afternoon...

Run: This is the first winter that I really haven't spent much time running outside. The sidewalks have been rather treacherous this year, more so it seems than in the past. Several of my long runs have been on the treadmill, and I get so BORED here, but a little motivational music mostly keeps me occupied. That and trying not to choke on Steve's nasty farts during my 8 miler yesterday (see his post from today). I've also been doing weekly speed work at the Metrodome. I love dome running! For a dollar, I can run inside on a relatively large loop in my shorts in the winter. This still blows my mind. I could never force 2 treadmill workouts in a week, so intervals at the dome is great! I eeked out 10 x 600s last week. Haven't decided what this weeks' workouts will be yet. Normally I would try to force myself outside more, but I am well aware that fully acclimating myself to a MN winter would make racing in New Orleans' weather that much harder for me come April. I haven't put the space heater in my bike room or anything, but I'm hoping that lots of training indoors will prepare me a little better...

Weights: A severely neglected component of training right now. I am usually really good about lifting during the winter, but having a tri so early in the season is making it harder than usual to get in the weight room. Gotta get rid of lunch lady arms before tri top season!

In summary: I'm getting in the long workouts and trying to sneak some speed work in as well. Lots of indoor stuff right now, which is probably for the better since my 70.3 is likely to be hot and humid. I know I'll be ready. Now let's see if I can eek out a PR...