Tag Archives: Swimming

The year so far

I am still saying “no”. Anything that requires me to do something or be somewhere more than once at a particular time is getting a blanket “no”. All year.

Okay, so I thought I might post more often because I’m not as busy but it has been soooooo nice just doing my training, pottering around the flat, reading a huge number of books and basically relaxing.

I had no idea how much pressure I had put myself under. I enjoyed doing all most of things I was doing. That’s why I had said yes to doing them in the first place. Now that I’m NOT doing them, I don’t miss them and I seem to finding the right head space to push harder in my training sessions, hoping for improvement rather than being satisfied if I manage to finish.

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Running in the early morning before the sun comes out certainly suits me better.

The benefits have been multi-faceted. I am losing weight (and more importantly, body fat)! I am feeling stronger on the bike (power to weight ratio improves as weight decreases). I am swimming faster (less drag). I am running further and faster (just as well since my next half marathon is just over two weeks away in lovely Port Macquarie).

I am still seeing the sports dietician every 3 weeks to keep me accountable (okay, that doesn’t count in my “no commitments plan).

One of the main swimming tips I took away from the January camp was breathing out through my nose instead of my mouth. This has made a huge difference. I don’t get out of breath as quickly, I am not as bloated after a swim session and I’m not as ravenously hungry afterward either. I’ve even been surprised sometimes to find that my set is finished rather than struggling to make it through the full plan.

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At Tamworth parkrun recently.

I have been struggling a bit on my Sunday long runs so have opted to volunteer at parkrun from last weekend until the race. Last Sunday I managed to run 16.5km without stopping for a walk. I’ve even learned how to sip water and eat while running. Somewhere in the middle of that run, I ran my fastest ever 10km.

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At Tamworth parkrun again.

On Tuesday I did a 6km run and realised that at some point over the last few months, a 6km run has become a short run. How and when did that happen? About 4km into this run my legs reminded me that I’d run 16.5km two days before. I struggled through the next 2km then had to tackle a small hill back home. I almost turned around to do the last km on the flat but would have had an extra long walk home and I would have been late for work. I trudged up the hill and was surprised to see that I’d actually averaged 6:24 pace for the whole run. Faster than any of my recent runs, even parkrun has been slower than that for 5km. The cooler temperatures early in the morning help. I do not enjoy running in the heat but I’m trying to work through that too. In that run, I did my second fastest 5km ever (31:38). My fastest is 31:16. (At some point I claimed to have done a 30:34 but I realised afterward that my watch hadn’t actually connected to GPS so I think it was averaging something.) And those two tough kilometres? I was running at 6:15-6:20 pace. No wonder my legs were screaming.

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Self-timer through the weeds.

This morning, I set out for an easy 5km. This might sound weird, but for the first time I felt like I looked like a runner. Usually I feel like if anyone looks at me they’d think “oh well, good on you for having a go”. I have no logical basis for this. About 3km in I realised a 30 minute 5km was within my grasp, I was averaging about 5:58 and anything faster than 6:00 would get me under 30 minutes. I scraped the 4th kilometre in at 5:54 but then I needed to walk. And stop and spit (which I NEVER do). Then I sprinted a bit to try to get average pace back under 6:00, then walked, then sprinted and so on. Until I hit 5km with an all-out push and my watch said I averaged 5:59. YAY! But when it uploaded into the app it was 6:00. Strava kindly deducted the time I’d spent trying to spit and wipe dribble and gave me an average pace of 5:58 and a time of 29:56. However, if I add up my 5 km splits from garmin, my time was exactly 30:00, to the second. So, I am claiming today as a 30 minute 5km and will save the sub-30 for another day.

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Thank you strava!

Rest day tomorrow, then local club tri Saturday night before a 21km run on Sunday. I won’t be running either of those at 6:00 pace I don’t think.

New records

I have also decided to go back to running in my Altra zero drop shoes rather than the other shoes the running shoe shop recommended for me. I thought they were great when I first got them, but I do really like the extra toe room in the Altras. I have bought another pair which don’t resemble ten-pin bowling shoes as much as these ones.

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If you’ve made it this far – thank you for persevering.

This is it.

The big one.

After my one and only olympic/standard distance triathlon in March 2015, I decided I would go back to enjoying my sprint distance races. I’m just not fast enough to fit in the amount of training required for longer distance races. Trying to fit in two exercise sessions in one day along with all my other commitments was impossible. I pulled out of everything else I was involved in for a few months leading up to the race so I could get it done.

July 2015 was also my one and only half marathon. I never had any intention to run a half marathon but some of my running buddies had signed up so I figured if I was ever going to do it, I should do it with them. I finished but was forced to walk the second half with what I later found to be an ITB injury. I didn’t meet my (secret) time goal of 2:30.

Fast forward to 2016. I have signed up for a re-match on the half marathon. I’ve chosen a different course (Sydney) for this one. I’ve had my eye on the 9km Bridge Run at the Sydney Running Festival for a few years now. Who wouldn’t want to run over the Sydney Harbour Bridge once in their life? Instead, I registered for the half marathon. I have 13.5 weeks to go. The goals this time are to finish uninjured and hopefully under 2:30.

And, I’ve paid an insane amount of money to enter a half ironman-distance triathlon (but not the ironman brand) four weeks after the half marathon. This will be a 1.9km swim and a 90km bike ride followed by a 21.1km run. My thought pattern went something like:

I know I can swim 1.9km – I did that in October for a team event. I will be “half marathon fit” for the race in September. This race is only 4 weeks later. The “only” thing I need to work on is the bike. I’ve never ridden further than 45km in one go. Ever. Then I just have to put it all together and run a half marathon AFTER the 90km ride.

After a chat with my coach to confirm that it is theoretically do-able, I registered for the Forster Ultimate race.

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And what have I done since registering? Not a lot. Lost a small amount of weight over several months. Gained it all back and then some over the last two weeks while on holidays in Broome (lovely place but I had to survive two weekends with no parkrun). Skipped most of my long runs. Skipped most of my strength sessions.

I did clamber down then up this pile of boulders looking for dinosaur footprints (which we found so it was worth it).

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And I took my running gear away on the holiday with me and managed three 5km runs. Part of one was on this stunning stretch of the 22km long Cable Beach.

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I didn’t swim here but I did admire the view. At low tide, you have to walk 1.5km across the mudflats to get to the deeper water. Broome has one of the biggest tide differences in the world! Town Beach, Broome.

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ASIDE: The holiday ticked off three bucket list items for me – Visit Broome, ride a camel, ride in a sea plane. All in all, it was a wonderful trip, especially since we did it with immediate and extended family members.

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View from the seaplane over the Dampier Peninsula where we camped for two nights (near the lighthouse).

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And now back to my triathlon journey…

I had planned to keep my registration a secret until the last minute thinking I would put less pressure on myself. There are less than 10 people who know I registered. It’s at an event where I have done the sprint distance race for the last two years so I could talk about going without mentioning that I’ve registered for the longer distance race. I’m looking down the barrel of a 6 or 7 hour race.

Right now, I’m doubting my ability to push myself for that long. Somewhere in amongst all the other thoughts, I imagined that if I could learn to push myself for longer, then I could transpose this into my shorter distance training and races to push harder in those sessions.

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(from facebook some time ago)

Therefore, I decided to get it out there. Make myself accountable to the cyber-world. This is the biggest athletic goal I have set since I started this journey. For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking it’s too big (what have I done?) but in the last couple of days I’ve caught up on some blog-reading and have been inspired to get my act together. I WILL do this. Besides, it’s a lot of money to throw away if I don’t.

Some of the blogs and instagram posts that have given me a much needed lift this week were:

Annie at Unsporty Women Can Run nailed it (me) when she wrote

Delicate Runner Syndrome (as I call it) frequently stops me from pushing too hard.  I’d rather run slow and for a long way than fast and pop a valve that might stop me from running.  But I take this too far and use it as an excuse to go slow.”

Teresa wrote about the pitfalls of comparing ourselves to others here.

Watching The Weight Drop on instagram posted this

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There were others as well – it’s like I was bombarded with posts to challenge and motivate me. So that’s it. Time to knuckle down, eat healthily and do focussed training. And get to bed earlier (since it’s now 1.20am and I’m supposed to be swimming before work tomorrow).

 

What will I be saying this time next year when I look back at my doubts and fears?

What are you working on/toward at the moment?

Have you recently achieved a goal you set?

 

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(from facebook some time ago)

Doing it for the medal

Shock! Horror! Two posts in one week month! Since my previous post I have been doing a lot of soul-searching, trying to work out what it is that is stopping me from swimming in the open water. I’m not fast in the pool either but I can swim the distance.

I haven’t had any real insight into whatever is causing the problems. It’s not a conscious decision to stop swimming – I’ve stopped before I even think about it. At least I’ve got to the point where I can at least do a few little side strokes to keep moving forward instead of staying still.

A friend of mine uses the hash tag #doingitforthemedal to label every post on facebook or instagram that is related to her training, racing, planning etc.

The thought hit me today that I’m going to receive a half ironman finisher’s medal on Sunday even though I’m doing it as part of a team. Who would have thought I would ever own one of those?

It seems unfair to those completing the whole race individually but it sounds like all the members of the teams will receive the same medal.

I know I’ve mentioned before that it’s not about the bling (but it does help). I also know that’s not really motivation in itself. But in this case, if I don’t give that swim everything I’ve got (knowing I don’t need to save any physical or mental energy for the bike or run) then I’m not going to earn the medal.

It will then join the pile of medals (the ones I’ve kept) in my “sports cupboard”.

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I’m certain that every time I open the door, the half ironman medal will be the one I see. It will jump out at me, catch my attention, and mock me: You don’t deserve me. You didn’t even swim the whole way. How could you accept a medal for that pathetic effort?

I don’t think I could handle that for long. Thinking about the unknown strangers trapped in a world of torment after being trafficked doesn’t help. Telling myself to “just keep swimming” doesn’t help. Chanting (silently since my face is in the water) “don’t stop don’t stop don’t stop” doesn’t help.

Maybe Doing it For the Medal, Breathe, with emphasis on the bold words, will work. Or Earn That Medal, Breathe. Yes, I’m still using the “1, 2, 3, breathe” method of swimming. Forget about counting strokes or laps, or anything else other than breathing.

Don’t get me wrong, if I still end up stopping now and then, that’s okay. I will be happy and feel like I earned that medal, as long as I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I left nothing in the tank.

Another friend uses the hash tag #letsdothis2015 so I’ll steal her catch phrase too.

Four more sleeps… Let’s do this!

Dam Swim

Now, if I was a swearing person, that title would read Dam(n) Swim. Yes, I’m old-fashioned, and “damn” is still a swear word in my book.

As of yesterday, so is “dam”, I think.

I went for a training swim at a dam about half an hour away with some other people who are also in the Trifreedom group of athletes competing in the Port Macquarie Half Ironman event next week. Some are doing the whole event while others of us are in teams. You might remember, I decided to do a swim leg. Swimming is my worst leg but I couldn’t imagine trying to ride 90km. A few months ago I would have been able to do the 21.1km run except that it’ll be the middle of the day and I don’t handle the heat well. If I wanted to be part of the Trifreedom crew, it had to be the swim.

I don’t know what my problem is but I can swim 2.5km in the pool pretty much non-stop but stick me in “open water” (even the enclosed dam) with or without a wetsuit, and I can’t swim more than 10 or 15 strokes before I drop my feet and tread water for a bit.

When I last swam at the dam in February, it was without a wetsuit and the weather turned stormy as we got in the water. I took this video after we got out. It doesn’t show it clearly but it wasn’t pleasant.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day but the swim was HORRIBLE. Like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Swim kind of horrible.

I finished in “just over an hour” according to the lady who organised it but I don’t know how nice she was being as I didn’t wear a watch. (It’s a one hour cut-off for the race next week.)


Just to break up all the text, I received this message from my sister today, who had her first baby a month ago.

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My goggles leaked when I started to swim and I stopped to adjust them 2 or 3 times (even though I had put my head in the water before we started and they seemed okay). The water was disgusting. I couldn’t see the weeds in the shallows. Then there was grass and stuff floating on the top – I don’t know if that’s normal or if the other, faster swimmers just churned it all up for me. I thought about turning back soooo many times on the way to the first buoy. Once I got there I thought about heading straight back and skipping the rest of the buoys but knew I’d never get in the water next week if I did that. I had to tough it out. The silver stripe on the sleeve of my wetsuit was distracting – because I kept seeing it out of the corner of my eye. The zip strap/cord thing came off the Velcro and was hanging over my upper arm and it took me ages to work out what it was. Then it ended up around the front of my neck.

I stopped and hung onto the water safety person’s board (so glad they’d organised some for us) and asked her to attach it properly. I was all good after that – strapwise anyway. I felt like I was out there for hours – at least an hour and a half. I deliberately didn’t take my garmin because it doesn’t seem very reliable in the open water and I figured I was better off not knowing, and just pushing on. One benefit of stopping so often was that I didn’t have a chance to swim off course.

Even when I got to about 50m from shore I still couldn’t get myself to “just swim the rest of the way”. However, I didn’t freak out about washing over the spillway and down the river so that’s progress over last time. 

When I got home, all I wanted to do was curl up in the foetal position in bed and bawl my eyes out. I didn’t. I bought a slab of chocolate and a can of coke instead. I should have opted for the cry because  the junk food didn’t help either. I only ate one row of chocolate and the can is still unopened in the fridge (that’s sooo not me). I ended up texting the organiser and asking how much over an hour I was, and not to sugar coat it. She said about 1:05 so I’m okay with that. I’m told that in the river at Port it’ll be easier because it’s salt water.

I didn’t actually panic like I did in March at the race even though I stopped and regrouped/refocused several times. 

I always struggled writing essays at school (very rarely reaching the required word count) but I’ve just written over 500 words about a 1 hour swim.

I’m not sure if I want to know what the tides and currents will be doing or not. Part of me wants to know so that if I find it hard at the start I can blame the current but part of me doesn’t want to know in case it’s hard and the current is supposed to be helping me. That’ll do terrible things to my head imagining how much harder the swim back will be…

I didn’t think to take any photos of the lovely views on the way out and at the dam. I came home on a back road and saw camels in a paddock!

Instead, the only bright spot will be the photo of my brightest fluoro orange swim cap which made a special appearance at the dam – I wanted to be visible! And my new polarised swim goggles. I’m hoping they cut down some of the glare during the swim so I can see the buoys more easily.

 

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On the running front, my physio finally gave me the all-clear to start running again. Yay! I really had no idea how much I would miss it.

I’m almost back to square one again, struggling to run 1km. However, what I’m finding is that when I run, I’m running faster than I used to. I still can’t sustain it for long but if I can gradually increase the distance I might just end up faster overall. The 18 month plateau of sitting on about 7:00 pace might be broken. I was a parkrun tourist at Taree parkrun about a week ago and I was running 200m sections (with walks between) at sub 6:00 pace!!! I could barely do that on my hard effort interval sessions before. All those physio exercises have done something good. So even my injury has a silver lining.

Time to get some sleep before the big race next weekend. I’m determined to come in under that cut-off!

After the Half Ironman swim, my next races are a 5km fun run in Armidale on 1st November and a sprint triathlon at Forster on 8th November. If the weather and conditions are similar to last year, I’d like to think that I can improve on my swim and bike times (new bike since last year) and I’ll just see what happens on the run.

I know many of you have some big races coming up too – so good luck, stay healthy and have fun!

Oh, and here’s a photo of my husband and I at the Tamworth parkrun 1st anniversary celebration on 26th September. It was a “sport theme” dress up day – cheap and easy, and those who didn’t want to go all-out like us could go dressed as “parkrunners” and fit right in. It was so much fun and well supported. We’re in the sumo-suits.

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I’m here

Right. So you probably saw where I was headed anyway but Friday night my husband and I agreed that I could come away to Coffs Harbour to attempt an Olympic Distance triathlon again.

I would normally love this picture which is hanging over the bed in my motel. Today? Not so much.

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The good news is that I went for a quick swim in the protected harbour where the swim leg will be and I didn’t freak out. I was in for about 10 minutes and really just did two mini laps of about 20 strokes out, 10 strokes one way, 10 back, then back in to where I started.

I didn’t wear the wetsuit because if the water temperature is above 24 degrees we can’t use them and I didn’t want to be reliant on it. The only online water temp I could find was for another Coffs beach and it was 25 degrees this morning.

It it is a pretty spot.

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Tamworth parkrun

I ran my first parkrun in my home town today. It was event number 4 but I volunteered at the first three. It was a lovely, sunny 15°C when we started at 8am. I still struggle in warmer temperatures although I didn’t get a headache today (which I have been getting after about 3-3.5km). Probably because I’ve made a very concerted effort to drink more water and less diet coke.

It was so much fun! The lady who was Run Director for the day made a fuss during the briefing drawing attention to me and my efforts to get it started. As a result, I was rewarded with lots of thank yous, high fives and smiles as I ran (and walked) along the out and back course.

Then as I neared the finish line, I was cheered and clapped and generally encouraged. That is what parkrun is all about! I am so glad we finally have a parkrun here that I can be involved in. I still don’t look like a runner in photos, but I am starting to feel like one more often when I am running.

The run set that I had on my programme for last Tuesday and again on Thursday was a 15 minute warm up followed by 8 x 3 minutes at 6:50 pace (fast for me) with 2 minutes of easy jog or walk between. Tuesday I did this straight after my bootcamp session so I skipped the warm up. I ran/walked exactly 5km for the 40 minutes.

Thursday I was repeating the same set. This time I did a 5 minute walking warm up followed by 10 minutes “just running”. Then I repeated the 8 x 3 min/2min set. I had my garmin watch set to display only pace and time so had no idea of distance. It didn’t get to auto-lap every 1km because I was resetting the laps for each new 3 minute and 2 minute segment. By runs 7 and 8 I was feeling a little weary but pushed on (which is unusual for me – I have a bad habit of giving up). When I checked my distance at the end of my run I had covered 6.93km. No wonder my legs were complaining. It didn’t “feel” like 7km – so I felt great!

I headed off to work, then managed to do a 1700m swim set on my extended lunch break. After work it was back to bootcamp.

I digressed. Back to parkrun. I ran the 5km in just a few seconds over 35 minutes. This is nowhere near my goal of 33 minutes for the Armidale Fun Run in two weeks but it is my fastest parkrun out of five attempts (I’ve run at three other locations). I’ll still be volunteering often so I won’t be running every week but it’ll be interesting to see how I progress in the months to come.

I cannot recommend parkrun highly enough. You should check it out whether you’re a runner or a walker and if there isn’t one close to you, start it yourself – I did!

After four weeks, I’ve received more thank yous from strangers than ever in my life. So many people have commented that they’ve been hoping parkrun would come to town. I haven’t heard of a single person saying they didn’t enjoy the experience.

If you’re ever in Tamworth on a Saturday morning, please drop in and run or walk with us.

Details are here: www.parkrun.com.au/tamworth It is free and the only requirement is that you register as a parkrunner first, print a unique, personal barcode and bring it with you on the day. No need to RSVP. Just turn up. At any parkrun in the WORLD! All with one simple, FREE, registration. Every parkrun is 5km. They are all free. They all operate under the same basic policies and procedures.

Which reminds me, I need to find the closest one to where I’ll be at Christmas and for my next holiday.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Milestone weekend

This weekend has been big. My coach was visiting town for the weekend and organised some technique training sessions for all the athletes she coaches here.

Saturday afternoon swim, Sunday bike and run. Most of her other athletes are training for ironman and half ironman. I’m still doing enticers. I feel a little out of my league and like I don’t deserve to be there but this is because of my own insecurities not a result of the way anyone treats me.

Major milestone #1

Aside: It’s funny how we still talk about milestones when they haven’t existed here for decades. Kilometre markers just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

Saturday morning I registered for my first Sprint distance triathlon. I’ve been umming and ahhhing about it for months. I’ve finally committed to it. I’ve paid my registration. 9 weeks to go. It’s more than twice the longest distance event I’ve done before.

Saturday evening I did the enticer again at Tamworth Tri Club. I was a little tired after the swim in the afternoon and I still REALLY struggle with the heat in the evenings when I’m used to training in the early morning cool. Times aren’t up yet but I don’t think it’ll be a PB. It was pretty windy on the bike leg. I’m also getting a few niggles in my calf that I tore late last year but only when I try to run straight after a ride. If I only run, there’s no problem at all.

Sunday morning I did a 3km running time trial (on my own, to give my coach an indication of where I’m at so she can set my goals and write my training plan in the lead-up to my Sprint triathlon). I actually ran my first kilometre in 6 mins 30 seconds. I’m fairly certain that’s a new record for me. It’s definitely my best time since I began using Strava to record my training data. Kilometres two and three were 7:06 and 7:09 so my 3km time was 20:44. Average pace 6:54.

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I’ve been running 5:30 pace in my sprint intervals but I can’t sustain them for long. After having so much time off from running after my calf injury, I haven’t managed to build my stamina back up yet. I even had to walk a few times in the 3km this morning. I was running up to 10km easily before.

Major milestone #2

My coach and the other people were cycling a 40km loop – and doing it a couple of times. Coach had mercy on me and agreed to meet me at 8am for an easy 30 minute ride so she could show me how to tackle hills etc. The super-duper guys rode 5 hours then did a one hour run after that. I was excused from the run because I did my 20 minute run earlier in the day.

For the first time, I rode on the road with my feet clipped into the pedals. We did about 10 minutes of practice clipping in and out before heading down out for the ride. We tackled a pretty big hill at the end (whose idea was it to start the ride at the top of a big hill?) and I ran out of gears. I started to freak out because I was riding so slowly and was wondering how I was going to manage to unclip quickly if I lost all forward momentum… As it turned out, I didn’t have to find out. Fortunately. I made it to the top of the hill then stood for a couple of minutes straddling my bike before I could swing my leg over and walk it back to my car.

Imagine my surprise when I got home and logged my training with strava and I got a “trophy” to say I was 8th fastest female on a stretch of that hill! 8th fastest of strava users anyway. Not much between 8th and 9th (1 second). Quite a bit more between 7th and 8th.

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It will be interesting to see how riding with my cleats will affect my times and exhaustion levels over the coming weeks (as opposed to riding with my sneakers on).

I can’t remember exactly when I bought my bike with the pedals/cleats/clip-in shoes but it was over 18 months ago and this is the first time I’ve ventured out of my back yard or off my windtrainer. Having an experienced person with me made a huge difference both physically and mentally. She was also able to tell me when to change gears, move back in my seat and all of that “other stuff” that some people seem to know instinctively but which I have to be taught.

All in all, it’s been a great weekend with 19.9km training done in less than 24 hours (spread across three disciplines and including the race Saturday evening). I’m now well on my way to Port August already.

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I hope you’ve also had a wonderful weekend!