Thursday, May 10, 2012

Swim bike run!

After taking a break last week, this week is week one of triathlon training! My overall plan is borrowed from here, though I think I will be making some adjustments. The overall strategy is: 3x swim, 2x run, and 2x bike per week, increasing overall volume by 10% each week, with a rest week once a month. This needs to be rounded out with 2x per week strength training, for an ambitious total of 9 workouts a week. I actually wrote a python program to try to come up with an optimal schedule, but in retrospect, I might just play things by ear, at least for a couple of weeks to try to figure out how fast I recover from various workouts.

This week will be a bit below par; I spent Monday and Tuesday in DC, and although I had some plans for how to fit a workout or two into that trip, having my arrival delayed by 19 hours due to bad weather in O'Hare threw a wrench into those plans. And tomorrow morning, Lenore goes away on a 5-day vacation in Florida, leaving me to watch the kids, which will limit my exercise options. I did order a Baby Jogger Pod for the twins, which should hopefully allow me to go for a jog and a bike ride while she's gone, but I can't go to the gym or the pool.

Night Swimming

For some reason I thought that swimming is best to do first thing in the morning, and in fact my plan on Tuesday was to go for a swim in DC, but I overslept, compensating for a long night the night before. So instead I went to the ARC pool after putting the kids to bed, and that actually worked out pretty well. The pool was fairly empty, and it was actually kind of fun swimming in the dark.

The swim itself was very frustrating; I felt like I was mostly thrashing in the water. I was having a lot of trouble with breathing and also with maintaining form. The 50m length also took a lot of getting used to; I'd swim swim swim, look ahead, and see that I wasn't even halfway across! Most of the time I couldn't make it across without stopping (the pool is shallow the whole way), or at least taking a few breast strokes to catch my breath. The one time I did make it was pretty exciting.

I went for another swim tonight and I felt like I was making progress. I started out slowly, but after a couple of laps, I was able to make it across the pool without stopping more often than not. I also experimented with breathing every third stroke, and that actually helped quite a bit. Initially I'd only manage about half the pool length before switching to breathing every other stroke, but eventually I managed to do it for a whole length, unless I happened to gulp down some water on an inhale (which definitely happens more often on my left side, since in the past I've tried breathing on the right only).

I'm hoping that this experience will be similar to the Couch-to-5K plan, where initially even a really short jog would feel nearly impossible, but after a few weeks of concerted effort, things became much easier. And I figure worst case, I can always break down and do breast or back stroke in the triathlon.


The Second Wind running club is organizing speedwork sessions on Wednesday nights so I decided to join them. The meeting was at the Urbana High School track, which I believe was my first time running on a track since... probably grade 6 or so. The workout plan was:

2x1600m, 5m rest
2x800m, 3m rest
2x400m, 2m rest

The organizer had helpfully come up with a list of times that we should aim for in each interval, given our last 5K performance. Based on that, my mile was supposed to be between 10:45 (if you use the second half 5K split from the 10K race) and 12:00 (if you use my last actual 5K race).  When we started off our first 1600m interval, I tried to keep up with the people towards the back of the pack. As I finished my first lap, my quarter-mile split was 2:12! I pushed through and made it three more laps, feeling very much like I was going to die, and finished with an 8:55 time. After that, I realized that I best give up on trying to keep up with everyone and slow down in an attempt to survive. My second mile interval was 9:30; it still felt like a very hard pace, but at least I wasn't quite so ready to collapse afterwards. Here were all of my times:

1600: 8:55, 9:30
800: 4:40, 4:35
400: 2:01, 2:01

I was really hoping to get under 2 minutes on that last 400m, but it wasn't in the cards. This left me wondering whether (a) I am capable of running a much faster 5K (my interval times were in line with a 26-27 finish) or (b) I was pushing myself way too hard on these intervals. I'm guessing (b), but next Wednesday they're planning a 5K fun run, so I guess I'll find out.


When I got home Wednesday night, I was barely able to move. I just managed to grab dinner before passing out. When I woke up the this morning, however, I felt OK enough to try a bike ride. I even found the bike shorts I wore on my honeymoon in Norway; fortunately, I was able to fit into them again! I hadn't charged my phone so I wasn't able to get any data about the ride, but my estimate was that I rode about 11.5 miles in 45 minutes. There was hardly any wind and the ride was a comfortable constant effort. The Tifosi sunglasses worked out really well for biking, providing a wide shielded field of vision.


Tomorrow will be a much welcomed day of rest, other than chasing after two twins. This was a pretty intense sequence, and I think I'd like to space things out just a little bit more in future weeks. But I'm getting a lot more confidence that at the end of week 16 I'll be able to complete the triathlon. Wish me luck! 

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