Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Month in Review: September

Another month bites the dust and with that we are barreling down right into the holiday season. Scary thought much??

So September actually turned out to be an okay month. After readjusting to the heat and the humidity in SC, things started clicking again. I was clocking 10+ hour per week workouts and even put in a 15 mile training run. While the run was not pretty or fast, I got the miles in, which is always a good feeling, especially because I only do a couple of runs with that distance a year. When I came home after that 15 miler, I immediately noticed some random back spasms. By Monday afternoon, I was in so much pain, that I left work early to see the chiropractor. The spasms came so random and where so painful at time, that it took my breath away... The adjustment brought some relief, but I had to go back two more times that week and wasn't allowed to do any workouts. By the end of the week, I was pain free and just in time to complete a back to back century bike ride (ride report to follow). Which I did and was able to complete without any pain. So the next week, training was back on and clicking along nicely, but my legs were a little tired from the double century.

Last weekend then, I had my first triathlon in three months lined up and started having a sore throat Friday afternoon. A classic. Fortunately, the sore throat never developed into a full blown cold, but I still felt kind of deflated for the race. Still got it done and am fairly happy with the results all things considered (race report to follow). But after the race, the back pain returned. Not as bad as two weeks ago, but bad enough that I was once again at the chiropractor and am now back on workout restriction.

To be quite honest, I am thinking about pulling the plug at the rest of the season. Nothing will be decided today, but it's probably time to cut the losses at this point and focus on getting this funky back stuff under control without the added pressure of races lined up... After all, this is supposed to be fun and there will always be other races.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Month in Review: August

Is this thing on??

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been contemplating to shut this blog down. Then on the other hand, I really enjoyed it at times and like to look back over my monthly reviews and race reports. So at least for those, I will keep it up and maybe I even feel like writing about other stuff again soon enough.

Let's recap August then:

At the beginning of August, I finally got my groove back on the bike, after being off the wheels for two weeks in July due to vacation. I felt like I got a good block in the first two weeks, but because of the business trip to Germany in the last two weeks of August, I still didn't clock a bunch of bike or swim miles. At least I was able to keep up my running and even did a little bit of yoga in the hotel room while gone. While in Germany, my parents came to visit (my home town is around 4 hours by car away from where I was for work) and we got quite some hiking in.

On Saturday, we drove to the Bavarian Forest and did around 4 solid hours of hiking. The weather forecast didn't look great for the day, but we never got rained on. We hiked to the "Landshuter Haus" the long way and had lunch there before taking a shorter route back to the car.

Pauli dragging a stick around while hiking in the Bavarian Forest.
Arrrrgh... I am going to defeat you silly stick!
Trying to figure out our route back to the car.
German and Bavarian flag at the "Landshuter Haus".

On Sunday, we stayed close by in Landshut before my parents took off back home. Even though we basically hiked in town, we still got two hours in by hiking around the castle grounds and from there down to town and back up again.

View of Landshut from Trausnitz Castle.
Sculpture Museum in Landshut.
Art on the Isar River.

Pauli having a drink.
Trausnitz Castle
Worn out doggy.  
Another view over Landshut.
Finally bought a dirndl! ;-)

The trip to Germany was great, but between work, trying to get my workouts in and trying to meet friends that I haven't seen in years, I really have been burning the candle on both ends.

I am struggling to readjust and the last two days of workouts were very discouraging. The heat and humidity that we still have in SC sure don't help either. I am just so glad that we have a holiday today and hopefully I will soon feel like myself again.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Race That Wasn't

I have this silly habit of checking my emails right when I wake up. It really helps me to get moving in the morning... maybe the retina burning brightness.

As I said, it's a silly habit, but it kept me from driving to Paris Mountain State Park for nothing, since the race had been cancelled earlier that morning, because it was storming all night and more storms were forecasted for the morning.

Can't say that I am mad about it. Also, I think it was the right decision, because the descent off Paris Mountain is daunting enough without wet roads. This is just the 3rd year for this event, but already the second time that it had to be postponed due to weather conditions. I would probably be mad, if I had been traveling for this race, but this way I just went straight back to my own bed.

In the meantime, the race director has communicated, that the registration can be rolled over to any SC series event for the remaining 2012 season or even next season. My first reaction was to sign up for the Greenville Sprint this Sunday, but I really don't like pool swims races and not feel like racing in general, so I might transfer the entry to next year. I have until Wednesday to decide, if I want to go for the Greenville sprint.

So instead of racing for 1.5 hours on Saturday, I decided to go for a 1.5 hour run.... and it was pretty miserable. This humidity really sucks all the life out of me. I was so happy, when I was finally done and was able to collapse on the couch for some extreme Olympics watching.

Sunday morning started with the Women's marathon at the Olympics, but fortunately, I had a bike date with a tri buddy of mine that forced me out of the door, so more wasted time on the couch could be avoided. We had a total of 50 miles on a hilly route on tab. Great conversation and bearable weather conditions made this ride just fly by.

Training wise, this week started off with bang. 7 miles track workout and a tough one too. After the warm-up it was intervals: 1x mile, 3x 1000 meters and 3x 400 meters. I looked like I took the shower with my clothes on by the time I was done. The rest of the week will also be packed with big workouts, especially in the biking department, since I will miss out on biking while in Germany for two weeks. I just hope that the weather is going to cooperate with my plans!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Month in Review: July

What a month!

Obviously, the numbers look much different than regular months due to our two week trip out west.

Leading up to our vacation, I really struggled with training, the early mornings, the volume. Something just felt very much off and any other week, I would have taken it easy for a couple of days. But with the time off coming up, I just kept telling myself to just push through it a couple more days. Sure enough, the day before we left for Vegas, I woke up with a sore throat and had a miserable ride.

I started popping the supplements as soon as I got home, but the damage was done... I ignored every sign of over-training and got a hefty sinus infection, that kept me company for most of the the trip. Of course it didn't help, that our vacation wasn't exactly the relaxing/ recharging kind.

Since getting back from vacation, I tried to get back into a routine, but it hasn't been easy. That's probably why the blog has been so silent too... I just have trouble motivating myself for anything beyond the absolute necessities. The hot temps and high humidity sure don't help either, since every workout just feels like a fight.

That's also the reason, why I decided to drop to the Sprint distance for the Paris Mtn Tri this coming Saturday. Ever since I rode the course a couple of weeks ago, I didn't feel this race and the four weeks training and non-training didn't help. Now that I dropped, I feel better.

August is probably going to look very similar to July, since I'll be in Germany for two weeks on a business trip. No cycling during this time, but I am hoping to be able to at least keep up the running and swimming.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Trip Thoughts

I am typing this, while waiting to be able to check our bags at the Las Vegas airport. Yay for free wireless, I just hope that my battery is holding up.

Grand Canyon

It's Sunday and it's the last day of our trip. We are wasting time here between penny slots and airport shops because that's how the travel schedule worked out. Between my parents flying out of Vegas much earlier than we do and us having to return the rental already to avoid an additional day of charges, we started reflecting on our adventure.

Monument Valley

We all agree, that this was quite a trip. We saw a lot and we saw a ton of great stuff, that we probably won't forget anytime soon. While going through the highlights over lunch, my mind already started wandering towards, what I would have done differently, knowing in the planning stages, what I know now. It's not a whole bunch, but I would definitely plan this trip a little different. My mind is also busy with planning future trips, that might just concentrate on one or two National Parks and really spending time there instead of just skimming the surface. I don't regret not having been able to do the closer look on this trip, I am glad we got so much to see.

By the end of the trip, we were all ready to go home as well. There is just so much you can take in, so many nights in hotels and only so many meals eaten in restaurants. I am ready to abandon my newly acquired diet of pancakes for breakfast, Oreos and/or chips for lunch and burgers for dinner.

Capitol Reef

Getting back to Las Vegas after 1.5 weeks in the middle of nowhere, felt like a lifetime had passed since we left the city.

Spending time with my parents was good. Seeing that they are both still so physically fit and healthy makes me happy. I really hope, that Terry and I will be as fit as they are, when we are in their age group. The goodbyes were hard as ever. That part just never gets easier.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Road Trip

 I am baaaaaack! The last two weeks, we were on vacation in the Wild Wild West. My parents flew in from Germany and we met up in Las Vegas. We did a ton of stuff, so consider this the cliff note version of our trip before I go into the nitty gritty of it.

The oncoming cold that I mentioned in my last post ended up being a sinus infection that kept me company for most of my trip. There was also a little cough going on. In the two weeks, I did not swim, bike or run... We did a bunch of hiking and just really enjoyed this vast country. Now that I got a little break, I am also looking forward to training again.

With that being said, let's look at a couple of pictures!!!

Day 1: Travel to Las Vegas

Day 2: Las Vegas & La Reve

Day 3: Hoover Dam

Day 4: 4th of July Parade & Firework

Day 5: Valley of Fire State Park

Day 6: Zion National Park

Day 7: Grand Canyon National Park - North Rim

Day 8: Travel to Page AZ

Day 9: Rainbow Bridge & Antelope Canyon

Day 10: Monument Valley & Four Corners Monument

Day 11: Arches National Park

Day 12: Canyonlands National Park - Island in the Sky

Day 13: Capitol Reef National Park

Day 14: Bryce Canyon National Park

Day 15: Going Home!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Month in Review: June

The countdown for Christmas is on!!!

Can you believe that we are already half way through the year?? I sure can't.

The month of June has been another solid month of training. Only the last week in June, I really started feeling on the edge with a lot of things and mostly the training volume combined with too many nights with too little sleep.

On Saturday, we headed out for a bike ride. I felt off right away. Just really tired and I also felt like I had a cold coming on. Nonetheless, I trooped through it, but things just didn't improve. Quite the opposite really... I eventually broke down crying at mile 33 for no other (obvious) reason than the auto-stop function in the Garmin not working.... I thought about cutting this ride short the whole time and talked myself out of it over and over, but that was the sign to really call it quits.

It's time for a break... You probably won't read anything new on this channel for a little while... Have a happy 4th of July!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Double Whammy Morning Workout

Triathletes are no strangers to double workout days. I regularly have two double workout days scheduled per day and have been doing that for years.

Good morning, Sunshine!

Last Tuesday though, I did the double workout before going in for work and that was definitely a first.

Terry was already in the indoor pool.

Why would I do such a thing? Well, I had a fairly short run workout on tap with 5.5 minutes and a shorter than usual swim with 2,800 yards.... This should have been less than two hours worth of workouts and if I get up just 30 minutes earlier (4am), I am getting everything out of the way in the morning and can relax in the evening.

I picked the outdoor pool.

Both workouts ran a little over and I cut it very close with getting to work on time.

Nevertheless, it was worth getting it all out of the way in the morning, but dang it certainly caught up with me, when the alarm went off the next morning for a 6.5 mile run... Actually during Wednesday's run, I felt so miserable and tired that I was already plotting the plan of skipping my morning swim on Thursday, but an early night on Wednesday took care of that.

Bottom line, double whammy morning workouts are probably not going to become a stable in my workout schedule... I need my sleep!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Joy Ride with a Twist

Every now and then, I have a cycling workout in my schedule titled "Joy Ride" with the instructions to grab a friend and go on a ride and enjoy.

Old Spartanburg Hwy

Normally, I would join local group ride, but sometimes, I enjoy just being out there by myself alone with my thoughts. Besides, my usual Monday night group ride was doing over 40 miles and that wouldn't get me back home until 9.30pm and I didn't feel that!

First half under clouds, but then I headed towards the blue skies.

In order to make my solo outing a little more exciting, I mapped out a joy ride with a twist.

Here comes the sun!

Over the weekend, I discovered STRAVA.

Where are the cows today??

Strava is basically a training log (currently for running and cycling) with a little bit of a social network component (you can follow people, people can follow you). The huge difference to any other training log is: it takes your gps data from your Garmin or the Strava app and compares your times in predefined segments. For example a sprint zone from a local ride or a famous climb in your area. The segments are defined by Strava users and you can add segments from your own rides. You are then being ranked against anybody on Strava that uploaded a route that included that segment.

Down that road is another segment that I plan on tackling soon to improve my posted time!

While I rode in an area that I ride after work all the time, I spiced things up a little bit, by picking five segments and combine them in a 30 mile ride.  Not only did I discover a new road, but it also made me combine the roads that I know in a way that I haven't done before...

Bye bye cloudy skies!
 So the twist of my joy ride was to really push in on the segments and otherwise take it fairly easy.

Waddel Rd
I am happy to report, that I made QOM (Queen of the Mountain) on Chicken Foot Creek Road... by default, because no other woman has posted a time there yet.... this is just calling for trouble now... I am sure there will be a time posted soon!

Also, I improved my standings in all of the segments. Given that I only had two weeks worth of rides on my Garmin that I could upload, the basic data has been pretty slim.

Love this stretch of road, especially in the sunshine!

Can't wait to get back out there and ride some new segments or improve my times!!

Sometimes I wonder, if I am more competitive than I care to admitt! ;-)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Paris Mtn Sprinternational Bike Course Preview

Sometimes, the best laid plans fail. Good thing, that there is always option B... and option C is maybe a good idea as well.

So the original plan was to hit the Paris Mountain trails for a little off road action. After my complaints from last week, that I don't have a trail running buddy, Lindsay offered to join me. Unfortunately, we were not aware that the state park would not open until 8am and we stood in front of the locked gate at 6.30am. Option B was to head over to the Swampy and knock 4 miles out there... Run and done. Can't even remember the last time I ran with somebody, so that was definitely fun!

The original plan also consisted of the idea, to head out and do the Paris Mtn Sprinternal bike course, right after completing the run. But since the trail run didn't happen, I headed back home and got changed there and rode to the course from the house.

I intended to ride the course twice, but Coach Katie mentioned that the route can get pretty busy, so I wanted to keep the option of doing a complete second loop open.

As I mentioned above, I rode from the house and it's about two miles to the bottom of Altamont on the Furman side, where I would pick up the course. In the race, you don't hit this climb until mile 11, about half way through. Since I just started riding and was planning on doing the climb twice anyways, I took the first ascent fairly easy... If you can ever call a climb up Paris easy.

Paris Mtn Sprinternational Bike Course
 Within the first mile of the climb, I could see three riders a little up the road and while I wanted to take it "easy", if you see a rabbit, you might as well chase it. It took me a while to finally catch up with them and pass, only to drop my water bottle one minute later, having to stop and being passed by them and then the chase started all over. I caught two of them, but the third guy made it up Paris before me...Dang! First ascent in the books with 19m 44s.... I am happy with anything under 20 minutes on this climb.

I didn't take a break at the top, just kept on rolling... Boy, do I suck at descending. I think for me it's probably going to be more important to practice that descend, because you can lose a ton of time and it's basically for free, especially when you about killed yourself getting up the mountain. During this first descent, I also decided that I am going to use the road bike for that race. The roadie (I used the road bike on Saturday's ride) just corners better and the whole course is either up or down, so really not a lot of opportunities to utilize the aero bars.

So the next section I rode today would actually be the first 11 miles of the bike leg and it's no fun... And yes, the traffic was rough and made me rethink my decision to ride this thing twice. On top of an already difficult course, I made my life even harder by turning on "Little Texas" early and catch the climbs on that road as well. Good job, Kat. Quite honestly, I was pretty over the ride, by the time, I approached the Paris climb for the second time.

I was already tired and it had gotten really hot in the meantime... There were no rabbits anywhere, but funny enough, the climb didn't feel harder to me than the first time around. I hit the lap button at 19m 24s on the second ascent... goody goody.... Unfortunately, I descended even slower the second time around... Practice, practice and more practice.

Instead of completing the whole loop a second time, I opted to find an alternative route back to the house, to avoid some of the traffice and quite honestly, more of those hills. But I still wanted to hit my total of 40 miles for the day, so I hit up the Swampy for the second time, but this time on the bike. At this point, it must have been close to 11am and the trail was packed!!! No way to go fast with so many people around, but I was toast anyways, so I pedaled up to Travelers Rest on the trail and the looped back home on the road.

Bottom line: I am glad that I took the time to ride the course in advance, but it's not going to become a regular thing. Traffic on Mtn Creek Rd and State Park Rd is just way too heavy. I am certainly planning on putting Paris on the calendar more often and not only work on the climb, but really try to improve my descending skills as well.