Sunday, September 28, 2008

Where in the World is Shirley?

Still in Hawaii?
Back in Florida?
Up in New Hampshire?

If you guessed the last one, you are right!

Between Hawaii and New Hampshire, I had one short week in Orlando to catch up on 3 weeks of mail, do my yard, complete 6 short computer-related projects and work 2 afternoons at my local running store. Then I got about 2 hours of sleep Friday night, hopped on a 6am Saturday flight and caught up on some much needed sleep on the plane.

Today I finished the Clarence Demar Marathon in 4:08:25 -- Woo hoo!

With my recent hammy issues and the Maine Marathon next weekend, I am elated. Any finish would have been great but a negative split and a 4-hour-ish finish is even BETTER.

Details and photos to follow shortly!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Better Than a New Pair of Running Shoes

Last year, I attended a 4-day swim camp in Kona where I learned a new way to swim freestyle. My 100-yard swim times went from 2:30-2:45 to 2:00-2:15. More importantly, I actually began to enjoy swimming for the first time in my life!

And if you enjoy doing something, you want to do it more and get better at it, right?

Well, perhaps not if it's an unhealthy habit ...

But swimming, the thing I've really struggled with for the past couple years since getting into tris, ABSOLUTELY!!

So I went back for another swim lesson last week. For less than the cost of a new pair of running shoes, I can get one of the best swimmers/instructors in the world to help me, Karlyn Pipes-Nielsen. Or her swim guru husband, Eric Nielsen, since KPN was out of town. Either way, the benefits of the lesson would last MUCH longer than a pair of running shoes would for me.

I was videotaped while swimming in their Endless Pool, which is sort of like a treadmill for swimmers, making it easy for the instructor and camera to see what I'm doing wrong over and over and over. And I had to swim slowly. Darn, no cheating or hiding faults when swimming slow! If you promise not to laugh, you may click the play button below.

In case you missed it, these are some of the big things that were noticed, all of which would either slow me down and/or make swimming harder for me:

- My right arm was crossing the center line when I breathed left
- While extending my arms forward, my hands (esp. the right one) often did a "wheelie" upward in the water
- I have a pause in my stroke when breathing to right or left
- My legs were splitting open like a parachute when breathing
- Arms "windmilling" more than they should, getting stuck at the hip
- I had plenty of hip rotation if I remembered to do so when pulling

After an hour, I had fixed all these problems and was now swimming perfectly. NOT!

No, I was now just aware of these things and had made some small steps toward improving them, some of which may not be obvious in the next video because they are still mostly in my head!

- Wider entry with the right arm so no more crossing over the center when breathing left
- A slight angle downward with my hands when extending my arms forward to avoid the "wheelie"
- A little less pause in my stroke when breathing
- More continuous light kicking trying to reduce legs splitting when breathing (though definitely still noticeable)
- More power in my pull earlier in the stroke, focusing on a faster recovery (not really evident yet but less tiring for me than trying to put power at the end of my stroke using triceps)
- Hip rotation now a function of shifting the opposite shoulder forward to extend the arm (rather than when pulling, which is easier for me not to have to remember)

It's a work in progress! (TRT 1:52, with some other non-lesson fun thrown in at the end)

But there is no doubt that I'm enjoying swimming now. Two days after the lesson with just the changes that I'd been able to incorporate, I swam 3x300 yards on 6:00 intervals (5:30-5:35) and then 3x200 yards on 4:00 intervals (3:40-3:45), which are some of my fastest pool swim times to date. With continued practice, group swim workouts and that lesson, my 100-yard swim times are now 1:45-1:50 compared to 2:00-2:15 last year. And I know this is still just the beginning :-)

Thank you Karlyn and Eric!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Still Riding the Big Wave

I know, I know ... No Pictures = Didn't Happen.

So this week's recap has lots of pictures!

I'm still riding high on training volume and keeping speed low except in swimming. My right hamstring, the one that was injured two months ago, seems to be holding up fine but is still noticeably tighter than the left one. Will it ever be the same again???

The week began with Monday being a rest day.

TUESDAY: AM Group Swim Workout - 2650 yards incl. 6x100 on 2:00 (1:49-50) and 16x25 all-out sprints on 1:00 (:21-22). OMG, where's slow lane?! Left photo: Me and Coach Eric Nielsen, husband of masters swim superstar KPN and a swim guru himself.
PM Hill Run & Core - 6.4 mile run with a steady 500-600 foot climb one way. First hill workout in a while (9:58 avg pace). I really should run more hills.

WEDNESDAY: Long Brick - 54.4 miles on the Kona IM bike course (16.4 mph, ~750 cals consumed) followed by an 8.2 mile run (10:01 avg pace, 2 gels gulped). Miles 6-7 run at race pace (9:00). A beautiful day, better nutrition and a negative split run!

THURSDAY: AM Mid-Long Hill Run - 12.4 mi run with a 2 mile long 600-700 foot climb in the middle (10:41 avg pace). Made it to the top w/o walking but the view was hazy due to the VOG :-( Should have brought more than one gel. Big hills make me hungry!
PM Pool swim - 2850 yds incl. 6x200 Pull, 4x50 Paddles on 1:00 and 12x50 Free on 1:00 (:54-55). A good swim workout for tired legs.

FRIDAY: AM Open Water Swim - 30 min easy ocean swim along the Kona IM swim course. Conditions were much calmer this week but recent shark sightings further north on the island have kept me swimming with fins or else I'd probably chicken out altogether. Damn that Jaws movie! Lots of pretty fish around to make it fun, though.
PM Easy Bike Ride & Core - 34.5 miles on the Kona IM bike course (15.6 mph).

SATURDAY: AM Long Run - Another super slow, time-on-feet 4-hour run, but faster than last week, 21.5 miles (avg pace 11:10). Miles 18-19 run at an 8:37 avg pace. YOWZA!
PM Recovery Pool Swim - 1700 yards (400 Free, 400 kicking with fins to loosen up ankles after the run, 4x200 Pull/Free, 100 Stroke). Who knew 1700 yds could seem so short?!

SUNDAY: AM Open Water Swim - 1.2 mi on the Kona IM swim course with two other women who were also wearing fins. Took us about 50 min with lots of breaks along the way to wait for the slowest swimmer. NOT me :-)
PM Swim Lesson, Spin & Core - One hour lesson with Coach Eric (KPN is out of town) in their Endless Pool working on form and getting videotaped. Worth every penny! 15 mile spin on an exercise bike to help legs recover from the long run yesterday.

Weekly totals:
Swim 11,712 yards (6)
Bike 104 mi (3)
Run 48.5 mi (4)
Other 1:20 (3)

Two weeks until the first of my two week-apart marathons. One more week in paradise!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Surf's Up!

Big waves here in Kona this week. And I've been riding on one in my training too!

S 11,370 yds (6)
B 106.3 mi (3)
R 46.5 mi (5)
Other 0:45 (1)

Coming back from a hammy injury, my strategy for getting through the 3 remaining big races this year is to increase my run volume (quick) to finish them comfortably and have fun. I'm not going to worry too much about speed except in swimming. And in case anyone may have noticed, yes, I did drop one late October marathon that I had on my 2008 race schedule previously. I'd not officially signed up for it yet anyway and it just seemed unnecessarily ridiculously risky (as opposed to just the later two).

So now I'm training for "only" two marathons a week apart (end of Sept in NH and early Oct in ME) and Miami Man, a half iron tri in early November. Things went well this week. I won't bore you with a recap of my 15(!) workouts but here are a few highlights:

  • Double Swim Workouts (Fri & Sun) - AM ocean, PM pool. The high surf has made the ocean murky and rough so swim fins are a must for me (and for many others too from what I've seen). On Friday, I swam back and forth past some closer-to-shore buoys on my own and saw a handful of fish and one small turtle, who seemed to be swimming with ease below me (Hey, no fair!). Today I did a 3/4 mile ocean swim as part of a Peaman event (more on that below) and saw nothing but other swimmers :-( The afternoon pool swims have been useful for "resetting" my swim form after getting tossed around in the ocean and the extra yardage also helps get rid of any lingering sand particles in my swimsuit, belly button, ears and elsewhere. Hopefully the ocean will be calmer next week!

  • Riding Hills & in Headwinds (Thu) - Or, Have I Lost My Mind? For my first ride here, I planned to do an easy 20-30 mile bike ride followed by an easy 3 mile transition run but ended up riding 50 and running 6! Why? I could blame my bike but, really, it was I who acted like a spoiled child that didn't want to get off an amusement park ride. 3 hours and 20 minutes, ~2500 ft of climbing and ~20 miles of strong headwinds later, I rolled back home with an average speed of 15mph (but not so bad when you know you had to pedal hard to go even 16mph downhill against the wind!). Then I headed out for my run and wouldn't you know it, I just settled into a good running rhythm after a mile and a half or so. No way was I turning around, not with big waves and surfers to ogle at every beach I ran past. So I continued on and made it a 6-miler (avg pace 10:40). I should have been much more conscientious about nutrition, though. I consumed only ~400 calories during the nearly 4.5 hour workout -- Not good!

  • Running in Heat & Humidity (Wed & Sat) - HA! OK, please don't hate me, esp. those of you back home in FL. Humidity here is only 50-60% here so the feel-like temps have ranged from 80 to 85 degs -- Balmy! Early morning runs are quite pleasant and I did my first-in-a-while outdoor long run, 9.5 miles, on Wednesday as a test (9:46 pace). No problems so I went for the big Kahuna (20-miler) on Saturday. I decided to run it super slow (avg pace 11:26), but still maintain my usual high 180-190 stride rate to avoid slogging and so my legs would hopefully not notice that I was doubling my running mileage this week. Shhh, don't tell them ;-) Felt great at the end so I picked up the pace and ran miles 19 & 20 close to marathon race pace (9:30), then I added one more cool-down mile so I could be on my feet for a total 4 hours. I think time on feet and getting to race day without any injuries will be key for me in the two week-apart marathons. 20-30 degree cooler weather should help me run faster once I get there.

  • Peaman (Sun) - These are fun, free biathlon (swim-run) events held throughout the year in Kona. And being on Sundays, they nearly always happen the day after a long run for me. Today's event was a 3/4 mile swim followed by a 4-mile run. Due to the rough ocean conditions, they put out an extra buoy for those who only wanted to swim 1/3 mile. But I'm not sure anyone did. I just followed the crowd who all seemed to go the longer distance. Got done with the swim in ~26 minutes (1:58/100yd), about 4 minutes faster than last year, which was also done with fins but without much rockin' and rollin'. I ran the 4-miler in about 33 minutes (8:15 pace), about the same as last year, I think (I didn't pay much attention to my watch last year so this is a guess), but with MUCH less post long run soreness than before. Woo hoo!

    So, as you can see, I've been very lazy. Left on my own, I'm just sitting around most of the time stuffing my face with pupus and papayas and beginning to assume the shape of a coconut. Tomorrow I'll sit on my lanai and watch some surfers while deciding what to do the rest of the time I'm here.

    No, seriously, tomorrow is a REST day!!!

    PS - HUGE CONGRATS to my bud Rural Girl on her most excellent sub-12 performance at Ironman Wisconsin!