Half Ironman Training: Week 4

For multiple reasons I think that Week 4 has been my best week so far of training.  The first reason is because is was my break week! The plan that I am following calls for a slower week every 4th week to help my body recover and frankly it allows my mind to recover as well.  This week I continued to focus most on my worst sport of the three…swimming. I made sure that I still got in plenty of time in the pool including going the farthest that I have ever gone in one workout on Sunday.  Throughout the whole week I maintained a focus on my form and correcting any flaws I found while not pushing too hard or too fast.

Week 5 starts the second mesocycle of my periodization training.  For the first 4 weeks I wanted to focus on building my base training, including mentally preparing for the workouts. In this mesocycle I will focus on adding mileage and more time doing BRIC workouts while also focusing on strength in my muscle movements that correspond with the three sports.

February 16:
AM: 2700m Swim (with drills): “Swim Exercises for Triathletes” Exercise E-Form 4
February 17:
February 18:
PM:45 Minute Spin Session: Focused on keeping my form and riding in the Aero position for periods throughout
PM: 20 Minute Interval Run (2.75 miles, 7:35 min/mile): Half mile warm-up followed by quarter mile intervals (fast/slow)
February 19:
PM: 30 Minute Stationary Bike Ride: 7.98 miles focused on pedaling at a consistent cadence at a high resistance.
February 20:
February 21:
AM: Hour Spin Session: Interval riding with minute long high resistance high cadence sessions in the aero position.
February 22:
AM: 2900 Swim (Drills): “Swim Exercise for Triathletes” Exercise E-Speed 11
AM: 3.10 Mile Run (23:40, 7:38 min/mile):5K tempo run focused on consistent speed throughout

I believe Week 5 will be the toughest week of training so far but I know that the training will be worth it on race day if I continue to push as hard as I can, follow my plan and remain focused on my goal. 109 days and counting!


Pre-PA Recommended Reading

Since my acceptance to the PA Program at Southern Illinois University I’ve been trying to balance my excitement for starting studying with the enjoyment of having spare time. Most PA students that I’ve talked to just recommend taking your last few months pre-PA for rest and vacation. They say once school starts, you’ll be so overwhelmed by the material that nothing you “pre-studied” will matter. That hasn’t stopped me from trying. I will admit I’ve been looking through PANCE study books just to try and get a sense of what I’m about to embark on.

Every couple of weeks, our Program Advisor will send us send reminders and small tasks to prepare for admission. Most recently this has included a medical supply list and required textbooks ($$$$). One of the more fun lists is of optional “pleasure” reading before classes start this summer. Of course, with that email came a warning that we wouldn’t have any time to read anything fun once the program starts. I’d like to share this list with you and if you’ve read any of these books we can discuss in the comments.

Currently Reading

Books I’ve Read

Books Left to Read

My First 10K


You guys, I ran a 10K… on Valentine’s Day. Runner* had been begging me to sign up for this race for some time. I kept saying it would be too cold. It wasn’t until the last day of registration that we finally pulled the trigger and registered – the Thursday before the race – knowing that it would be in the 20s!!! As Siri would say, “BRR.” Yes, crazy decision, but my training plan had me running the 6 miles on Saturday either way. This article, also gave me confidence in how to stay warm.

The night before the race we went shopping and stocked up on some winter weather gear. I bought some Under Armour athletic knee socks for $2.99 at TJ Maxx. The pink stripes really went with the theme of the day! One of my biggest fears was that the cold air would irriatate my lungs. Coincidentally enough, at Sports Authority I found an extremely discounted “wind scarf” section. It was really the packaging that caught my eye – Mona Lisa heads!



The scarves had been marked down from $19.99 to $1.99. I could see why – the designs really sucked. Runner helped me pick the best one, and in pictures it acutally doesn’t look half bad. The material was thin and elastic. It fit snugly around my head when I held it up to cover my mouth and nose. Breathing in warm air made me feel better – perhaps it was all mental – but I’m glad I wore it. Not sure when or if I’ll ever use this again, but I hope to see the product some day on Shark Tank.

Later that evening we exchanged Valentine’s Day presents. My Valentine’s Day gift to Runner was homemade “Runner” and “Bride” dry-fit shirts. We weren’t able to wear these on Saturday but hopefully, we will at another race in the future (half marathon, hint hint). I made these with iron-on decals from Michaels. I have some extra letters and really want to make a shirt with my name on it. Runner’s gift to me was an AWESOME purple iPod Shuffle. I’ve been using it for workouts and it is so light and easy to wear.

The race kicked off at 8 am, which meant we didn’t have to wake up much earlier than we normally do for work. For the Love of It 10K was put on for the first time this year by Potomac River Running. Knowing this, and the frigid temps, my biggest fear was that I’d come in last place. When we arrived at South Lakes High School, we were pleased to find out that registration was indoors! We picked up our race numbers, free t-shirt (long sleeve, women’s cut, cute logo) and commemorative pin.  We had plenty of time to use indoor restrooms and prepare.

At about 10 minutes ’til, we started heading outside to the street and the starting line. Runner and I separated – he was going for speed. I must say, the people in the back were friendly and entertaining. Thankfully, my layered clothing kept me comfortable. There was a moment when I first warmed up when I questioned weather I had overdressed. However, the hot flash passed soon enough. Luckily, the wind wasn’t much of a factor. Seriously, it could have been brutal, so I am very thankful for that. Having only run on the treadmill for most of my training, the hills were a bit much. I just decided to keep running. Each mile was marked, so as I passed, I would raise my arms arm and cheer for myself.


Major dork! But there were very few spectators – like 3 total – so I cheered for myself, lol. Another bonus of the race was free photography. Having paid some rediculous prices in the past for photos, this was a huge perk. The race ended with a partial lap around the high school track. My finish time was 1 hour 17 minutes. Doing a race on a holiday was quite fun and I’d like to do another sometime in the future. 16503476476_9282a7cc0a_o

*Every time I say Runner now I can only think of the Dad from the book Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. If you liked Gone Girl, I highly recommend it, it’s pretty twisted though – bordering on Chuck Palahniuk territory. It was a quick read that kept me guessing until the very end.

Half Ironman Training Week 3

I must admit that this week I did neglect my cycling.  It is hard for me to cycle on the stationary bike for as long as I am supposed to bike for. I feel that it does not provide much benefit so instead I focused on doing a lot more strength training focused on cycling specific exercises.

As part of my Valentine’s Day gift Bride said that she was willing to run her first ever 10K with me on Saturday!  It was a cold morning but we were lucky because Sunday was much colder.  The course was based around the Reston National golf course and despite studying the elevation before the race I was surprised at how hilly it was.  Only one lane of the street was closed so the first mile included a lot of traffic and it slowed me down before I could pick up my pace after one and a half miles.  I finished with a decent time (52:35) but it was a little off of my goal of a sub-50 minute 10K.  You can read Bride’s recap of the race later this week.

February 9:
AM: 1600m Swim (with drills): “Swim Exercises for Triathletes” Exercise E-Speed 2
PM: 5.75 Mile Run (7:49 min/mile):45 minute Fartlek track run (with 8 30 second sprints throughout)
February 10:
February 11:
PM: 45 Minute Stationary Bike Ride:15.5 Miles
February 12:
PM: 2350m Swim (with drills): “Swim Workouts for Triathletes” Exercise Muscular Endurance (ME) 12
PM: 5.33 Mile Run (8:16 min/mile):45 minute track run at a constant pace
February 13:
February 14:
AM: “For the Love of It” 10K (52:35 8:28 min/mile): Ran with Bride to celebrate Valentine’s Day!
February 15:
AM: 2100m Swim: 1,500 meters without stopping with a short warm-up and cool-down
AM: 3.10 Mile Run (24:23, 7:52 min/mile):5K shake out run after the 10K the day before

Week 4 of training is supposed to be a lower volume week but I will make sure not to lower the swimming volume. I am going to work on adding more strength training to my routine, especially focusing on triathlon specific strength exercises.  I am looking forward to the warmer weather to allow me to get outside and train rather than having to do all of my workouts inside.


Triathlon Training Gear: “Swim Workouts for Triathletes”

I am not one of the athletes that follows a training plan 100%.  I have always developed and had a training plan written out at the beginning of the training cycle but I have always been ok if my life or my body caused me to deviate from it.  Knowing that as I entered my triathlon training I told myself that I was going to stick to the planned workouts and let the training plan work as it should.

Swim Workouts for TriathletesThe hardest part of any plan in actually picking it out and although I was very familiar with running plans, and had read a lot about cycling plans for Triathlons I was clueless on how to judge a swimming plan for a race.  Luckily I found one of the most useful training tools I have ever used.  I found “Swim Workouts for Triathletes” by Velo Press. It is a book focused not just on swimming workouts, but those especially built for athletes that were moving strait to a bike and run afterwards.  This book contains full plans for every triathlon distance from sprint all the way up to full Ironman.  And just to make it that much easier on you, the book is waterproof and made so you can easily set it up right next to the pool as you are doing your laps.

I have followed the Half Ironman training plan perfectly in the 2.5 weeks since I started training and I can already see drastic improvements in my swimming.  Also the book takes a lot of the thinking away from me during the laps allowing me to relax more and focus on my stroke and breathing. With the book right next to the pool I am able to quickly look at what the next exercise is, turn to clarify what any words or abbreviations mean (the include an extensive glossary) and start my next lap quickly and without getting out of the pool.

Any gear that makes the workouts seem easier while still putting in the same amount of effort is well worth any investment that you make.  Anytime I can find a way to make a run seem shorter, or a ride seem easier through a drill or workout I will do it.  This book allows my swims to seem easier, while still allowing me to improve.  What more could you ask for in a training tool


Weekend Recap

Just wanted to share a slice of this past weekend with you. Our Saturday morning began with a 9am Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast. Our neighboring club, the Kiwanis Club of Fairfax – puts on this delicious and classic fundraiser as part of the City of Fairfax Chocolate Lover’s Festival. For $7 you get unlimited chocolate chip pancakes, sausage and coffee. What a yummy way to start the day. I ate as much as I could because my scheduled training run for the day was 6 miles!!


Yes, my training plan was written by hand. Don’t I have the best trainer? It’s old school, but I love crossing out the squares with a big red pen!

I spent my afternoon hitting the gym and then relaxing. Runner went for an indoor swim and then volunteered at the Virginia Polar Dip to benefit Camp Sunshine. No, he didn’t jump in frozen Lake Anne, he just collected donations. Our brave friend Nicole did the jumping!

That evening we joined some friends at Yard House in the new and improved Springfield Town Center. Visiting the old mall was a brand new experience for Runner and I – the last time we were there was summer 2013 to buy our wedding rings. The construction back then was such a mess. Turns out the major renovation was worth it!

On Sunday morning I woke up bright and early to teach a Safe Sitter course with members of my Kiwanis club. We taught a class of 14 students aged 11-13 the basics of baby sitting. I teach choking infant and child rescue. The kids really get a kick out of the mannequins.


At first they are “scared” (because of those faces!), but by the end of the course they are happy to have learned a life-saving skill. We order pizza for the kids at lunch time and their parents pick them up at 4pm. It’s a long day – how do teachers do it?!

Runner got to enjoy the great weather and bike outside (jealous!). We took it easy on Sunday night, after I ran my miles of course. I made some tasty cheeseburgers for dinner and that wrapped up the weekend.

Half Ironman Training: Weeks 1-2

2015 is bringing me a new challenge…triathlon!  Last year I signed up to complete my first Half Ironman race in June of this year.  My first two weeks of training are done and I decided that to help hold myself more accountable I am going to start updating my workouts on here every week.  My plan calls for 20 weeks of training before completing the Ironman Eagleman on June 14 in Cambridge, MD.

January 26:
January 27:
AM: 1600m Swim (with drills)
PM: 5.17 Mile Run (7:46 min/mile):40 minute Fartlek Run (with 6 30 second sprints throughout)
January 28:
PM: 35 Minute Stationary Bike Ride:12 miles
January 29:
AM: 6000m row:30 minute cross training at lunch.
PM: 2100m Swim (with drills): Focused on Endurance Speed
January 30:
AM:1800m Swim (LONG): 1,200 meters without stopping with a short warm-up and cool-down
January 31: INDOOR BRIC
AM: Hour Stationary Bike Session: went 20.6 miles
AM: 7.17 Mile Run (7:42 min/mile): 55 minute track run
February 1:
AM: 95 Minute Stationary Bike Ride: Went 40.4 miles

February 2:
AM: 1900m Swim (with drills)
PM: 5.33 Mile Run (7:32 minute/mile): 40 minute Fartlek run (with 8 30 second sprints throughout)
February 3:
February 4:
PM: Hour Stationary Bike Ride: 16.0 miles
February 5:
PM: 30 Minute Stationary Bike Ride: 8.70 miles
PM: 3.75 Mile Run (8:00 min/mile): 30 minute tempo run
February 6:
AM: 2100m Swim (with drills)
February 7:
AM: 1900m Swim (LONG): 1,500 meters without stopping with a short warm-up and cool-down
February 8: OUTDOOR BRIC!
AM: 90 Minute Bike Ride: 21.1 miles
AM: 4 Mile Slow Run (8:27 min/mile): Steady run after the ride.

Once the weather warms up I will do most of my bike rides in the mornings as part of my commute to work which will alleviate some of the long days that I now must have trying to fit in long indoor rides after work.  I have come to actually enjoy my morning swims and I can already tell they have helped a lot.

I must admit that although I have had some early mornings and some early nights during these first two weeks, I have really enjoyed myself.  I have pushed myself hard and have grown a lot in a short amount of time.  I have learned a lot about training, nutrition and hard work that I hope will allow me to become even better in the coming weeks.


2014: A Look Back Before I Look Ahead

Well it is about time that I look back on my goals.  My 2015 training has started now but before looking ahead at my 2015 goals I need to take a moment to look back at my 2014 ones.  2014 was a great year for me.  I set goals at the beginning of the year that I knew would push me to be better.  The best part about setting these goals was that I succeeded in accomplishing the vast majority of them.  Although my regular days revolve around running and becoming a better endurance athlete I do have other passions and hobbies that my 2014 goals reflected.  These goals, listed below with a short recap, have allowed me to enter 2015 with higher hopes that I could have imagined just one year ago.

Finished my Best Race in Chicago in October of 2014!

Finished my Best Race in Chicago in October of 2014!

  • Run 1,000 Miles: Last year I accomplished this goal despite having to take multiple weeks off in the summer for a nagging IT band injury.  I have never ran this far in a single year and I felt that this goal is one that I know I will improve upon next year.  I ended the year with almost 1,100 miles.
  • Break a sun 4:30 Marathon: Entering 2014 my marathon PR was 5:02:32 (2012 Marine Corp Marathon).  I wanted to end the year by taking over one minute a mile off of that PR and get under 4:30.  My first chance was in April at the GO! St. Louis Marathon where I clocked a 4:32:42 marathon.  This was so much better than I could have hoped, especially considering the course was much more hilly than I prepared for.  That changed my goal to reach for a sub 4 hour full in Chicago in October.  I trained hard and got very close to my goal when I got a 4:06:42 time in Chicago.  I smashed my goal for 2014 and took almost an hour off of my PR in a single year.  I can’t wait to see what 2015 will hold!
  • Read 10,000 pages: As I said, I do have some other hobbies besides running.  One of the biggest of these is reading.  When the weather is bad/cold I take the bus to work on most days and this gives me a lot of time to read.  I unfortunately fell a little short of this goal (I had over 9,000 pages) but I felt like I gave it a good shot and read consistently throughout the year.

I am proud of the hard work that I put in this year towards my goals and although I didn’t reach all of them I know that the work I put in will pay dividends going forward.  My goals for 2015 will continue to push me to be better, practice harder and race better.  I cannot wait to see what this year holds!