Training is all about preparing for race day but it also means adjusting life to support the training.
The short answer: a lifestyle change.
Change, adjustment, choice–call it what you will but half Ironman training is a significant commitment and one that requires dedication and focus. I’m starting week 9 of my 20 week training plan and somehow only just recently realized that my decision to train for 70.3 miles is truly no joke. This is serious stuff and one that really has been a lifestyle change. This realization came to me on a Friday night when I was happily getting ready for bed at 9:30 p.m. Continue reading →
I signed up for a March Madness training weekend with the Annapolis Triathlon Club, fondly known as Iron Crabs, and when I looked at the itinerary thought I might well be ‘mad’ for what I was getting myself into. Two members of the team had coordinated with various area coaches and facilities so that we could have an entire weekend of biking, running, swimming, and education at our fingertips. My goal in signing up was to get a true evaluation of where I am in my own training and to immerse myself in three days of all things triathlon. Continue reading →
Smith Mountain Lake; it was gorgeous the day after the race!
The Big Lick Triathlon in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, was my first Olympic triathlon. I learned about the race from my sister-in-law and her husband who have done the race before and we had a full crew of six of us ready for race day. We also had a full crew of family ready to cheer for us and we all arrived to Virginia in time for the Friday night packet pick-up and a hearty dinner at a local restaurant. Before I get into the event play-by-play, I must share an embarrassing side note only for the purpose of sharing my mistake so that hopefully no one else will make it. Continue reading →
We arrived early to get set-up and fortunately the dark sky didn't open up on us with any rain during the race.
In late April I set my mind on doing my first triathlon. My sister and her husband had moved to upstate New York last fall and her husband signed up for the Cazenovia Sprint Triathlon which was August 9th. I thought signing up as well would be a great way to tie in a visit to their new home and I was eager to mix up my running with cross-training for a tri. After months of swimming, biking, running, searching for the best thing to wear, practicing transitions, and mentally preparing to do a triathlon it was finally time to put all that work to the test.
The days leading up to the tri I tapered my training and kept my meals consistent with what I’d been used to eating. The day before the race I had three square meals with slightly more carbs in each than I would normally have, a race routine I’m used to. We all (myself, my husband, and my brother-in-law) went to bed at a reasonable hour with a 5:45 a.m. alarm set. As happens before any race, I woke up several times to make sure I didn’t miss the alarm and at 5:30 I was ready to get going. Continue reading →
My first open water swim that I would consider as part of my triathlon training was in crystal clear waters in a protected swim area in Jamaica. The second two have been off the beach at Chesapeake Bay Foundation and I hope there are at least two more open water swim practices in my future before the day of the triathlon. Though the tropical conditions of the Jamaica water with colorful fish I could see below me and a high level of salinity helping to keep me afloat and the brackish dark water of Chesapeake Bay are drastically different, they do have one thing in common–there is no perfectly straight black line along the bottom to guide you.
Within the enclosed swim area in Jamaica my goal was to practice the drills for that session, sprints and threshold swims. I had marked off the distance and knew about how many “laps” I would have to do to complete the drills for that day’s training session. The plan was to swim to the rope at the far end of the area, turn around, and swim back to the beach as many times as necessary. No sooner did I start off to my target end of the rope than I was headed diagonally toward a different area entirely. Where I ended up is not at all where I had planned to be. Part of the training for that day then became practicing swimming in a straight line when there was no black line on the bottom to follow. Continue reading →
Our taking off point for the first open water swim practice. Photo by james_shelton32.
I am sure that some people who train for triathlons go into the race without having ever done an open water swim. Perhaps they live in a landlocked area and have no access to open water in which to practice. More power to them for taking the plunge for the first time at the race! I feel very fortunate to have the Chesapeake Bay at my fingertips because I cannot imagine going into my first triathlon without having practiced open water swimming.
My husband and I met our friend at the beach of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (she also works there which is a nice inside connection!) for an open water swim practice. My husband swam competitively all through childhood and in high school and has one triathlon under his belt, so there was not much mystery in this swim for him. My friend has done several triathlons and was excited to be getting back into the water. At the pool, I’ve been working on my form, my stroke, my pace, and also breathing drills to prepare for open water and in the pool I have been steadily improving and feel good about my swimming skills. My only concern standing on the beach was that I would get cold. Continue reading →
We all know that rest days are important for any kind of training to be successful and learning to appreciate rest days, I’ve found, requires just as much practice as training itself. This winter when I was marathon training I would often experience various levels of guilt on my off days and I know I am not alone. Despite the anxiety I sometimes felt by not running, I knew it was important that my body get a break from the impact and stresses of running.
I’ve read many articles and heard from a number of coaches and other runners that rest days do not have to be days of complete inactivity. When it comes to running, rest days are anything from a light run to a cross-training activity to weight training to Pilates. I fully admit to having been very inconsistent in how I used to spend my rest days and more often than not would choose to do nothing rather than cross-train. All that changed when I started triathlon training. Continue reading →
It’s been a couple months now that I have been swimming consistently as part of the training for my first triathlons (one in August and one in September). Before I hopped in the pool for that first session it had been many years, since middle school swim team, that I swam consistently. I knew that it would take plenty of time in the pool and lots of practice before my stroke and form resembled even what it looked like in the 7th grade let alone what it should look like for a triathlete.
Over the weeks, swimming has gotten progressively better, definitely more enjoyable, and I am more confident in my ability to swim and breath correctly. This is in part due to practice. However, I definitely credit my progress to a few other important factors. One of them is talking about it. Any chance I have to talk to another swimmer or triathlete, I do and I ask questions. I tweet about it, sharing what I’ve done and inquiring what others are working on, and I always learn something new. I haunt the blogs of other swimmers and triathletes picking up on what has worked for them and I try to absorb as much information as possible.
The other factor I credit for improving my swimming skills is a website that I visit often but that I still have much to learn from: goswim.tv. Continue reading →
For the last couple months I’ve been trying to figure out what I would train for next and at first I thought it would be a summer half marathon (and it still might be), but now it is most definitely training for my first triathlon. The first hurdle has been to find a training schedule that makes sense to me, seems realistic with my life schedule, and that will give me a comfortable balance of swimming, biking, and running.
All my running schedules have always been in miles. (I hate to admit that I have yet to train with speedwork, hills, fartlek, etc but that is also in my future if I’m going to do all this the right way.) You slowly increase mileage balanced by some easier or rest days and then taper off closer to the run. I thought for sure that triathlon training would somehow be similar.
Well, wasn’t I shocked when I started to look at a variety of programs that vary from ones that are entirely time/duration based to ones that are a mix of time and distance to ones that focus on heart rate training to others that rely on each work-out being at either foundation, tempo, sprint, or time trial pace. There’s so much to choose from! A comforting line, however, in a Runner’s World article written for runners trying a tri said “it’s ok to experiment.” Continue reading →
A couple years ago my husband and I went to watch his sister and her fiance and some other friends finish the first triathlon in Annapolis. We cheered her on through the finish line at Navy Stadium and I remember clearly being in awe of the hundreds of people who had just done three sports in a row! My sister-in-law and her fiance have competed in a number of triathlons and I feel fortunate that I am continuously meeting and connecting with other triathletes as their multi-sport talents are ever impressive.
In getting to know triathletes, however, I still always positioned myself as a runner forever and ever. No need to also be a biker and a swimmer. But then I took a break from running and started spinning, albeit not the same as road biking, but certainly a good introduction to the work-out. And then a friend of mine signed up for a triathlon in July and we got to talking about swimming. Next thing I knew, I was at the pool trying for a half mile swim with her. Continue reading →