Thursday, October 15, 2015

Training Plan: Weeks 1-2

Welcome to my first training plan entry!

I will start a week or so after my last triathlon (October 17/18 weekend).  I am using the pre-made training plans from Garmin's Connect website as my template.  However, I like mixing it up, I will be using some of the fun speed workouts I've seen on Strava and at other running sites.  I also, without fail always take the afternoon before my long run off (typically Friday afternoon) and usually the day after my long run.  Prior to any races, I've found 2 rest days serves me well.

I also want to point out, that I have basically trained my dog to demand a run every morning.  So I run EVERY morning....Sometimes less than 1 mile, often they are at a slow/easy pace (so many messages to sniff and/or 'send').  I do this because it keeps her from being destructive, and keeps her and myself happy.  So.  Just know that.  I try to keep those as my recovery runs, but in reality, they are much slower than my normal recovery run.  Ironic, since my dog is actually super fast.  The breaks we take to 'talk to her crew' are just super long.  Also, hunting, there isn't a squirrel in our area that doesn't know about the Mighty Quinn.

I've got about 16 weeks til my goal 1/2 marathon (the Katy Half).  The Garmin training plan works well with this.  The first week is really easy - which is good...I will be travelling to Michigan for October 23-26 for a wedding and its unlikely I will do much training those days.  This may be one of my downfalls (or strengths, however you want to see it) but my training takes a back burner if it gets inconvenient while travelling.  My family time is pretty important, but I do love a run around my parent's house.

Sunday 10/18 - Easy longish run - 5-6 miles
Monday 10/19 - AM - 30 mins easy, PM Threshold run - 10 min wu, 4x(5mins hard 1 min easy), 10-15 mins c/d
Tuesday 10/20 - PM 45 mins easy run
Wednesday 10/21 - AM - 30 mins easy pace, PM 40 mins easy
Thursday 10/22 - Cross train - Lift and Swim or Spin
Friday 10/23 - Travel to Michigan - probably not run
Saturday 10/24 - Wedding Day! Dance the night away
Sunday 10/25 - Recovery day from the party
Monday 10/26 - Easy run around my parent's house
Tuesday 10/27 -  PM recovery 45 mins
Wednesday  10/28 - AM - 30 mins easy, PM - 40 min Fartlek Run (haha)
Thursday 10/29 - Cross train - Lift and Swim or Spin
Friday 10/30 - Hills - 40 mins - probably do 6x hill repeats at a hill pretty close to my house.
Saturday 10/31 - AM long run - 1.5hrs on the trails - Halloween Party!!
Sunday 11/1 - Recovery from the Halloween Party...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Race Review: I Tri Events Oktoberfest Triathlon - Olympic Distance

Final time: 2:29 - 2nd in the F30-34 AG
Swim: 1300m
Bike: 24 mi
Run: 6 mi

This race is put on by iTriEvents at Cross Creek Ranch in Fulshear, TX.  They do a race that is the same course (typically) in the spring called Spring's Back.  I'd recommend any race organized by them.  I've done 2-3 of their races every year for the last 3yrs.  

Registration and Packet Pickup:
Registration was super easy - the hubs signed me up for my birthday using the combo option - 3 races at a really steep discount.  Well worth it if you plan to do all three.  Packet pickup was fairly easy and organized.  When I got my packet, new bike course maps were distributed, the bike course had to be changed due to an event in one of the towns.  The map was a little confusing, but I big deal! I can follow signs.  You'll read later, that, no, I can't actually follow signs.

General Comments:
The course was for both olympic and sprint distance, so you had to pay some attention to avoid just turning wherever you saw a sign.  Not a big deal.  On nearly every turn there was a volunteer or officer to tell you which course to follow and which way to go.  Except that one turn.... Overall, I thought the course was well marked, and with all the volunteers, was well supported.  Here's a picture - not from this race - but I dress the same for every race.  Also, Quinn does love me, she just doesn't know how to show it.

Swim - 20mins 34 sec 
Like my last race - this was swimming in a Texas lake, there's only so much you can do.  The lakes around here are brown, murky, and warm.  I managed to have a pretty decent swim, but I do need to actually get back into regular swim training.  Floating in the pool with a beer just isn't cutting it.

Bike - 1hr 19 mins
This was my best/worst bike leg ever.  Best: I stayed really strong the entire ride.  My Garmin says I averaged around 20mph.  Awesome.  Fastest ever.  So what's the bad news?  I made a wrong turn, and tacked on around an extra two miles for this race.  It was a really dumb mistake.  I followed the signs, and made a turn that didn't *seem* right.  It was also the only turn on the entire course that wasn't manned by an officer or volunteer.  I was far enough behind the leaders that I couldn't see them, and far enough ahead of everyone else, that I couldn't see them either.  Except the one other person, who flew past the turn.  When I got to the other side of the road, I was totally convinced that I had messed everything up - and that's when I made an actual wrong turn.  This resulted in an extra 2 miles, and some down time trying to figure out what way to go.  Once I figured out my mistake, I kicked it into high gear, and averaged 21mph for the last 10 miles of the race.

**Post race I checked with Strava, and I was on the right course- the people who flew past the first weird turn only cycled like 22 miles of the 24...I did 26**

Run - 47min 28 sec
This was a good run, mostly because I was still so mad about messing up the bike, that I made it my mission to pass everyone I could see.  By the time I got to the end, I could hear two guys running right behind me, and I pushed through to the end to try to beat them, I think one of them just barely out-kicked me to the finish.  Another fun finish!

I managed to get 2nd in my AG and a 12 min PR on this course (even with the additional mileage).  Super awesome.  But - for whatever reason, at this particular race site, they have hell getting results posted on time.  Luckily, they provide beer and food, so it's not that bad.  Unless the Packers kickoff at noon.  Which they did.   Good thing the awards were pretty cool.  Overall, I really like this race, and will definitely be doing it again next year.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Training: Katy Half Marathon

Race: Katy Half Marathon - February 6th 2016
Goal time: Sub 1:40 - Previous PR: 1:44

I ran the Katy half last year, and loved it.  I can sleep in my own bed, and since I live so close to the race, I can sleep in a bit more than if the race were downtown Houston.  I managed to make my goal last year of sub 1:45 (down from 1:52), but this year, I reeeallly want to break 1:40.  See below for a picture of me at last years race - struggling, while the runner next to me seems to be having fun.  One of my other goals will be to find the cameras and smile for the pictures.  I am actually having a good time.

Areas I need to improve:

Speed - It's finally cooling down some, so I can no longer blame my pace on the heat, and I plan on focusing on speed work 2x/week.  That is when I will do intervals, track work, etc.  I will also make sure that on my long runs I am not just slogging through it (like I tend to do).  I will focus on keeping my pace up and my form solid.

Diet - Generally, I eat pretty healthy...but I also eat out several times a week (lots of tex-mex and pizza).  Both of those things wreck havoc on my guts.  I'm lactose intolerant and anytime I eat cheese and bread I end up with a bloaty gut and crazy cramps when I try to run for the next few days.  We also eat out for lunch just about every day.  So in light of trying to eat healthier (and maybe save some money), I will work on packing lunches during the week.  Also, I know when I eat properly, I can run faster/harder.

Consistency - I am also super good at starting something, and then stopping after some period of time.  It might last 2 weeks...heck, 2 months even, but I have difficulty with anything long term.  So my plan each week is to set up a training plan, and ensure I have enough groceries for lunches for the week.  This past week I managed to do the lunch thing - grilled some chicken and bought veggies and greens for salads.  This worked only OK.  Two lunches were eaten in the office, three lunches were eaten out, and those prepared lunches got pushed to dinners.  The week before, all 5 lunches were out.  Peer pressure at work is real.

In addition to these three things, I'm planning on following an actual training plan.  I haven't figured out all the details yet, but I will have some 5K/10K races thrown in for good measure.  As part of my "consistency" in training - I'll post my training here once a week.  That will help keep me accountable.  Even if only the fella reads this, he's usually the pushiest about most supportive of my training anyway.  Seriously though, it's nice to have someone checking in on me.

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Race Review: Katy Triathlon at Firethorne

I've been racing triathlons since 2013.  I signed up for my first sprint tri completely on a whim, borrowed a friend's bicycle, and for the swim, relied entirely on my highschool competitive swim days.  And then I came in first place in my age group.  As I drunkenly climbed up to the top that podium (you got 3 full pints of craft beer at the end -  Thank you No Label) I knew I was hooked.  Check it out, that's a winner's smile:

Since that fateful day, I've raced many other local triathlons and even completed a full Ironman race. Tris are by far my favorite way to race.  I love the physical challenge, I love the numbers and analysis, and I LOVE the gear.  Have I mentioned that I am a very competitive engineer?  This blog may start making more sense...(stick around til the end for my gear list)

Signing up for the Katy Triathlon was a no brainer.  I loved the race last year, and it's like 15 minutes from my house.  Ideal.  Registration and packet pickup were as easy as they come.  As a big fan of reminders - this race uses Facebook to remind everyone of race day and packet pickup.  

Transition opened early.  I don't know how early, but I know it closes at 6:45a, 30 minutes until the first wave starts.  I need approximately 30 minutes to get from parking to transition and completely set up, so I parked around 6:15a.  I was not the first person there, but certainly not the last.  Transition was set up by number groups - so not a total free-for-all.  There is a row designated for each group of 30 or so athletes.  It got a little tight, but not bad.  

Once transition closed, I hit the porta-johns (clean and available) and headed to the swim start.  This swim went in waves.   It was split up by decade age groups (i.e. women 30-39 was one).  It took around 30-35 minutes for everyone to get started but really helped reduce crowding.  

The 500 yd swim was well marked, and big enough for all the athletes.  The water was pretty warm, which was welcome since I was a little chilly waiting for my wave to start.  The swim is usually my strongest leg, however I didn't sight as well as I should have and it took me around 9 minutes to complete due to some off course swimming.

The bike was out and back 12 miles.  Short, sweet, simple.  I cruised along at much faster than anticipated.  I averaged around 19.5mph, which is pretty fast for me.

The 3 mile run was one of my better ones off the bike.  I averaged 7:45 min/mile, again not bad for me.  There was a lot of support from the crowd during the run, and I like that.  Especially the fella.  He hides from the camera...but I can always find that cheese head.

The best part of this whole race was my "photo finish".  I spent the entire race trailing a woman with what I thought was a 34 on her calf (for her age) which would be in my 30-34 age group.  I finally caught her on the home stretch, and PUSHED through to the finish line, we were neck and neck.  We congratulated each other and then figured out we were actually in different age groups, laughed and went on our way.  Super fun to get a good race on like that.  

Overall, it was a fun, fast very competitive race with a LOT of very fast ladies out there.   Seriously, I PR'd by 3-4 minutes and was still totally stomped by a lot of women.  I squeezed out a 2nd place AG finish though!  Here I am, shamelessly flaunting my Oiselle singlet and my cheesiness.  

Tri-kit - Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool Tri Suit (not pictured).  It has a separate bra, I love it.
Aquasphere Kaiman clear goggles
Giro helmet 
Trek Lexa bike
Zoot - I don't know what exactly, but they have a really neat dial in fit for the laces.
Watch: Garmin Forerunner 920XT

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thirsty Thursday: Cameron Hughes Lot 500 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

My first wine review!  I have no idea how to review wine...Minerally, full bodied, blah, blah....I don't have any idea how to use those words...But I sure as hell am going to try, so bear with.

The website says "full, bold" "Blackberry, currant, plum".

I feel like all of those apply.

I would call it one of my favorite "big sexy reds".

Like, when you drink it, it fills your mouth with that delightful full, big red feeling and flavor, and as you drink it, you actually get sexier with every sip.  Maybe that's just me.  In my head... :)

So, it was our latest "date night" wine.  Good choice I think.

It runs about $20-$22 at our local grocery store, on the higher end for a weeknight wine, so we saved it for Friday.  We paired it with a filet mignon, sautéed green beans and mushrooms.  Dessert - the darkest of chocolates.  Being the big, sexy red that it is - it paired perfectly.

Like I said earlier, the flavor is really big, and full...very in your face-but delicious.  The flavor reminds me just a tiny bit of dried fruit, but deeper than your typical raisin.  Every sip leaves you wanting more.  I make a point to sip it slow, because it is so good, I also don't want to run out.  Also it's not sweet.  Dry-ish.  I will steal one thing from the website: they call it a "classy juice".  The most classy.

One thing to note, we decant it prior to drinking it.  It comes out of the bottle a little....strong... Decanting it for 20-30 minutes really helps it.  And makes the whole thing that much fancier.