Week 6 of marathon training

Due to a triathlon at the end of this week, I shifted my training around a bit. I’ve been good about following the marathon plan for a few weeks now, and now I see how difficult it can be to make adjustments but still fit everything in. Unfortunately, the next month is going to require me to shift things around almost every week due to things like concerts, a baseball game, etc. Things might start to get ugly!

Here’s how week 6 went:

Monday: A bike/run brick of 12.3 miles on the bike followed a 3-mile run. I went out to Stony Creek to try a harder workout on the new bike for the first time. I did two loops around the main road and it went pretty well. I still feel like I have quite a bit of room for improvement in the speed department though. I did an easy run right after the bike ride. This was supposed to be my recovery day after running long over the weekend, and my pace was probably faster than it should have been at the start. I always feel like I’m dragging along after I get off the bike, when I’m actually going much faster than it feels. I gradually slowed myself down during the run.

Tuesday: 35 minutes of strength training followed by a 7-mile run. I hit the gym first, then went home to meet up with Matt and head to the track. I had a 5 x 800 workout on the schedule. We ran around a mile and a half to warm up, and I was really dragging. My pace usually picks up as the warm up progresses, but it wasn’t happening this time. I really questioned my ability to pull off the 800s based on how I felt. I decided I’d aim for around a 7-minute pace and see how it went. I’m really lucky that Matt has offered to pace me for my last couple track workouts. When I run on my own, I tend to start out way too fast and don’t maintain a consistent pace. When he leads, I’m able to just follow along and not worry about it. Somehow once we got going, the speed came. It can be amazing how that works. I averaged around a 6:55 pace for the first 3 repeats, which was followed by a 4th at a 7:07 pace. We were running 400s for recovery, and I knew I was running those faster than I should have been and it caught up with me. I slowed way down for the next recovery and it made a difference – I dropped my final 800 to a 6:50 pace. A successful workout! When it was time to cool down, I was dragging again. I’m not sure how we pulled it off, but somehow we did.

Wednesday: Ran 7 easy miles. I had 3 miles on the schedule, but dropped that run in favor of doing my typical Saturday run this day, followed by my Sunday run on Thursday. Rather than make this a tempo run like it should have been, I took it easy. I figured the race pace of my triathlon run should make up for it.

Thursday: Ran 10 miles. I wondered how tough this run would be following two days in a row of 7-mile runs. I stuck to the Paint Creek Trail to keep things as flat and easy as possible. I was pretty tired by the end, but I did it!

Friday & Saturday: Rest days to prep for the triathlon.

Sunday: Swam 800 meters, biked 15.5 miles, ran 4.5 miles. The Village Triathlon in Clarkston – recap here.

Totals for the week: 31.5 miles of running, 27.8 miles on the bike, 800 meters of swimming, and strength once.

This week was definitely a challenge. I cut my miles down a little in order to squeeze in the triathlon, but it sure didn’t feel like much got cut. It was tough to do 7 (including speedwork), 7, and 10 on consecutive days. From this point forward, I will definitely have to debate if squeezing a race in is a smart choice. Marathon training is hard enough when I follow the schedule as it is. Shuffling things around is not ideal!

– Janet

Advertisements

The Village Triathlon race recap

This morning I did my third sprint triathlon, about a month after my second one. The Village Triathlon (and Duathlon) was held in Clarkston, Michigan, and put on by 3 Disciplines. Every third week of my marathon training plan cuts down the long run, and this was one of those weeks. Since I “only” had 10 miles for my long run this week, I figured I could run that mid-week and fit the triathlon into my schedule.

Aside from fitting into my marathon plan, this race appealed to me because it was fairly close to home. In addition, this was my first triathlon that didn’t specifically say that it was non-competitive or geared towards beginners. With two beginner-friendly races under my belt, I was curious to try an even bigger challenge and a slightly longer distance. This race had an 800-meter swim, a 16-mile bike, and 4.4-mile run. The farthest open water swim I’d done up to this point was 300 yards. The bike ride was a few miles longer than I’d done in a race, and the run was a tad bit longer as well.

The night before the race, I decided to ride my bike up a hill behind us to get into a comfortable gear. A pre-race email said the bike portion would start up a hill, so I figured I’d get the bike ready for that. Aside from my chain popping off when I shifted to one gear, I also had an issue with the front brakes. I noticed squealing when I stopped. I didn’t worry too much about that, figuring I’d get it taken care of after the race. Later in the night when I went to put my bike on the rack on my car, I spun the front wheel and realized it seemed to hang up in certain spots. It wouldn’t rotate more than a couple revolutions without coming to a stop. It seemed like the brakes were too tight and causing resistance when I wasn’t even braking. Of course I came to this realization around 9pm, when I should have been heading to bed. Matt and I don’t know much about fixing bikes, so we pulled up some You Tube videos to try to figure out what to do. Matt tinkered with it a bit and made it a little better at least. After screwing around with that, I was only able to get about 6 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, I regularly get only 6-7 hours of sleep, so I figured I was no worse off than usual.

These race mornings roll around awfully early, and I was out the door around 5:45. The transition area was due to close by 7:20, so I got there about an hour before that. The transition area was in Depot Park in downtown Clarkston, and I had no problem finding parking in the lot right by the park. I checked in then took my gear to the transition area. Along the way, I stopped at a tent where there was a guy from Fraser Bicycle. He was helping people with their bikes, so I had him look at my brakes. He tweaked a thing or two and said I should be fine. It’s so cool of them to help people like that.

When I got to the transition area, a few racks were completely empty, so I was happy that I could set up with room to spare. As the transition area closed, everyone started the trek to the beach at Deer Lake. The race people had warned us ahead of time that it was a good 600 meters to the beach and we might want to bring shoes. I opted to wear some cheap water shoes, which I was able to leave in an area where we entered and exited the beach. Then, it was time to stand around and wait. It was cloudy and in the 50s, so it wasn’t long before I started to shiver. As I waited, I was pleasantly surprised that Matt showed up! He didn’t come with me to this race, but he did surprise me by coming a little bit later. I’m extremely lucky that he’s so supportive, and equally lucky that he takes some great photos! He gets credit for all of the nice race photos here.

Shivering before the swim

Shivering before the swim

The race meeting happened about 10 minutes before the start of the race, and all of the women went in the first wave at 7:45. Although it was a bit on the cold side standing around in my tri suit, it really was good weather for the race. The water was 76 degrees, which meant people could wear wet suits. However, after standing around in the cold air, the water felt pretty warm when I got in.

Deer Lake

Deer Lake

We swam in a rectangular pattern with the orange buoys on our right side on the way out, around the yellow buoys at the end, then back around the second set of orange buoys. The surface was kind of rocky as I got farther out in the water before the start, which slowed me down as I hopped amongst the rocks to get to the starting point in the water. I was a little ways back at the start, and out to the left side. There was a moment or two when a couple of us were pretty close, but I didn’t have any problems with that for the rest of the race. The water was a greenish-brown and I couldn’t see much of anything. I didn’t feel like I had to lift my head to sight too often during this swim. However, I realized after a while that I was probably a bit too far to the left of the buoys. I tried to work my way back in, and got right by the buoys at the turn around point. Yet after that, somehow I strayed again.

I suspect this is me all the way at the right edge of the photo...off in my own world

I suspect this is me all the way at the right edge of the photo…off in my own world

I kept my Garmin on my wrist, so the map of the swim is a little funky. I’m guessing that I probably added quite a bit of distance to my swim due to swimming so far out of the way. I may not have run into anyone, but that’s because everyone else was smart enough to stay by the buoys! Oh well. It was only the second time I’d done an open water swim, and I clearly have room for improvement. My time was decent enough considering my extra distance. They had a timing mat not far from the edge of the water, and my split was 18:24 for the 800 meters, or whatever I actually did.

Running to get my water shoes after the swim

Running to get my water shoes after the swim

I got my water shoes on and did a jog back to the transition area. I think it took me a little over 3 minutes, then I spent a couple minutes actually in transition as I got my shoes, socks, helmet, and sunglasses on. Then I was off to bike 16 miles! This was my first race with my new bike. I definitely think it’s an improvement over my mountain bike, but biking is certainly still my weakness. As I biked up a few of the hills very slowly, I kept telling myself how much I suck on the bike. There were a few gradual climbs that kind of got me. This course was out and back, two loops. It went through some nice neighborhood areas and on a busier road.

A pretty neighborhood portion of the bike course

A pretty neighborhood portion of the bike course

It was an open course, meaning we still had to watch out for cars. Police and volunteers were out though, and they were great. At the turnaround point, I couldn’t believe what I witnessed. A woman waiting in her car rolled her window down, cigarette dangling out of her hand. She said to the volunteer, who was a kid from an area cross-country team, “Hey dude, I’ve gotta get to work!” Poor kid. He was good about it, but it was so obnoxious.

My confidence was not boosted any during my bike ride as person after person flew past me. I felt like I had somehow snuck onto the course of a REAL bike race. I know there were all different kinds of skill levels out there, but man did I feel slow. I know I have a lot of work to do if I want to change that though. I’ve only been biking a couple times a week lately, and it’s just not enough to improve. It’s enough to get by, but I shouldn’t expect more than a subpar performance if I don’t devote more time to it. I saw one guy in the parking lot before the race who had set up a trainer and was actually riding right there behind his car. That kind of devotion seems to be a bit extreme, but there’s no way I’m competing with that!

I was no speed demon, but I tried to enjoy the bike portion!

I was no speed demon, but I tried to enjoy the bike portion!

My Garmin said I actually rode around 15.5 miles and put me just under 17mph. I ran my bike in through the transition, excited that I’d finally gotten to the run portion of the race. I spent a minute in the transition as I racked my bike and swapped my helmet for my hat and took off.

Finally - the run!

Finally – the run!

I had my usual funky feeling in my legs following the bike, but my starting pace was better than usual. The run took us around a paved path and through the park for two loops. It was a little bit rolling, but nothing too dramatic.

Depot Park

Depot Park

The run definitely boosted my confidence as I finally started to catch the people who had passed me on the bike. I felt like I had a really solid run, and my pace was just a bit above my 10k pace. According to my Garmin, I ran 4.5 miles in 34 minutes, for a pace of 7:33. I was really happy with that, and it’s an improvement over my run pace at my other triathlons.

The path to the finish through the park

The path to the finish through the park

Pushing myself at the end of the run

Pushing myself at the end of the run

I finished the race in 1:54:33. I felt pretty wiped out at the end, and the soreness kicked in pretty quickly.

A nice collage Matt made

A nice collage Matt made

The race shirt and medal

The race shirt and medal

The post-race food was great. They had a grill set up and had hotdogs, hamburgers, and chips available. Awesome! I found Matt, who stuck around for a little bit. However, the awards ceremony was over an hour away, so he headed out before that. Especially because it began to rain for a little bit. I got pretty cold hanging out in my wet tri suit, and was anxious for the transition area to open so I could get to some warmer clothes.

My first glance at the results made me think that I wasn’t going to get an award, but I hung out anyway. They had a raffle, and I actually won a $15 gift card from RoadID! I already have a RoadID bracelet that I wear all the time, and I highly recommend that anyone who runs, bikes, swims, works out at the gym, etc. should wear one too. Matt might look into a second bracelet with the gift card money.

As they announced the winners of the race, I was shocked by some of the times. I could have sworn they gave a few times that were under one hour, and some that were just over. It made me feel really slow with my 1:54! Later on, I thought that it was not humanly possible to complete the race that fast, even if the people were really good. I was tired at the end of the race and may not remember the times clearly, but it seemed like some of them were crazy fast. When I got home later and checked the results online, I was surprised to find that I was supposedly 3rd in my age group. The awards went three deep, and they didn’t announce my name for an award. The times that I found online were all 1:20 or slower. I’m not really sure what happened. Maybe they had a list of times that only had the swim and bike factored in? I may have to try emailing them just to ask. I don’t really care if I get an award or not, but I’m still curious.

Overall, this was a great experience. I felt better about the open water swim, even though I clearly need to work on staying on course. I’m still slow on the bike, but I did like riding my new bike a lot more than the mountain bike. The run was a solid one for me and remains my strength by far. 3 Disciplines does a really nice job with their races. One thing I have noticed with them is that I haven’t had to pay the USAT membership fee. When I did my first triathlon, I opted to pay a one-day required fee of $12 rather than the $85 yearly membership fee. I didn’t know if I’d do enough races to justify that. Good thing I didn’t pay since it wasn’t required for my last two races!

Marathon training is going to get pretty challenging coming up, so this may be my last triathlon this summer. I could still change my mind and attempt another one, but it probably isn’t a great idea. I’ve definitely had fun venturing into triathlons, and I plan on NOT training for a fall marathon next year so I can devote more time to doing triathlons next summer.

– Janet

Week 5 of marathon training

Another successful week of training done. Here’s what last week looked like:

Monday: Ran 3 easy miles in the morning, biked 7.36 in the afternoon.

I enjoy running in the morning on the weekends, but when I have to work, it’s usually not much of an option. I get up ridiculously early as it is, so throwing a run into the mix is usually not an option. The weather has been so hot lately that I decided to give it a try one morning. Since it wouldn’t really be safe to go out on my own in the dark, I was lucky that Matt was willing to go with me. It was still super humid and warm even that early, but not as bad as it would have been in the afternoon. It was nice and peaceful, and basically the only other people out at that time were newspaper delivery people. I probably won’t be doing this often, but it was a nice change to the routine.

In the afternoon, I really wanted to get out on my bike. Conveniently, a storm rolled in right as we were ready to go. It started to rain steadily and there was thunder, but no lightning. We figured we’d at least try a mile or two and see how it went. We headed out to the trail with our old mountain bikes. That was a good decision considering how the rain pooled up along the sides and it was pretty messy out there. At least the rain cooled us down. It was actually kind of fun splashing around in the rain, and there were a few other crazy people out besides us. It was all fun until we got home and had to clean the splattered mud off of everything!

 

Tuesday: 40 minutes of strength training followed by 6.5 miles on the treadmill. It was another hot day and I had a tempo run on the schedule. I knew I would not successfully pull off a tempo pace when the heat index was 100 degrees, so I opted to run on the treadmill. For the middle 4.5 miles, I sped up my pace each half mile from 8:20 down to 7:30. This was actually a really good treadmill run because I felt stronger and more comfortable as I sped up.

 

Wednesday: Swam 2,000 meters followed by 3 miles on the treadmill. It had been over 2 weeks since my last swim and I was happy to finally get this in. It was still ridiculously hot outside and it was so refreshing to get into the pool. I swam 1,600 meters of free, then 400 meters of breast. I headed to the treadmill afterwards to get 3 easy miles in.

 

Thursday: 25 minutes of strength training followed by 7 easy miles on the treadmill. Yet another treadmill run. I can handle a few miles outside when it’s really hot, but 7 miles would have been ugly. My car said it was 100 degrees, so the treadmill seemed less torturous than running outside. I survived, but 3 days in a row was pushing my treadmill threshold.

 

Friday: Rest

 

Saturday: Ran 7 easy miles on the trails with Matt, followed by a little over 12 miles on the bike. We ran down the Paint Creek Trail to the Clinton River Trail, and it was finally a little bit cooler.

A pretty day on the Clinton River Trail

A pretty day on the Clinton River Trail

 

The river was muddy and overflowing after storms the night before

The river was muddy and overflowing after storms the night before

After our run, we drove our bikes to the Macomb Orchard Trail, which is flat and paved. It made for a good, fast ride, but we kept it easy since I had 14 miles to run the next day. Matt had a few close calls with a couple rabbits and a raccoon that ran out in front of him! Since we were parked right by a Dairy Queen, of course we had to get treats afterwards.

 

Sunday: Ran 14 miles. The weather finally cooled down to the 60’s for this run – what a relief! It went much, much better than my hot 13 miles last weekend. The heat really gets to me. I decided to run much of the Brooksie Way course for this run. I started on the Paint Creek Trail for a mile, then jumped right into the hilliest portion of the route. It helped keep my pace in check early on, and getting the hills out of the way early made the rest of the run seem easier. I was about 20 seconds slower than marathon pace, and still felt strong at the end. I didn’t crash or hurt later in the day either, so I was really happy with this run.

 

Totals for the week: 40.5 miles of running, 19.8 miles on the bike, 2,000 meters of swimming, and strength twice.

Aside from potential storms a day or two, the weather looks much more promising this coming week. Hopefully I won’t be on the treadmill so much. I did decide to sign up for another triathlon next weekend in Clarkston. Every third week of my training plan backs off on the mileage, and next week is one of those weeks. 10 miles is my long run, so I’m hoping I can shuffle things around enough to fit that in mid-week and race on the weekend. As marathon training gets tougher, I may not be looking to do many (or any?) more triathlons this season. I’m looking forward to trying another with a longer open water swim and my new bike.

– Janet

Week 4 of marathon training

Once again, I actually managed to stick to the plan as scheduled last week. It was my second week of running 6 days in a row and I held up pretty good. I was extremely thankful for the one day off when Friday rolled around though!

Here’s what my training looked like this past week:

Monday: A bike/run brick at the gym. It was pouring outside, so the stationary bike and treadmill would have to do. I biked 15 miles and hopped on the treadmill right after for a slow and easy 3 miles.

Tuesday: 45 minutes of strength training followed by 6 miles on the treadmill. When I left work, the heat index was 93 degrees. There was no way I would have pulled off a decent run outside, so I opted to stay inside. I did 1 mile to warm up and 1 to cool down, and did a cutdown run for the middle 4 miles. I started at an 8:27 pace and sped up each half mile down to a 7:41 pace for the last half mile. Intervals keep me interested enough to survive the treadmill for longer runs.

Wednesday: An easy run of 3 miles on the trail. It was hot and humid, so I’m glad I only had a few easy miles to get through. After my run I did some exercises with resistance bands on my ankles for 15 minutes or so. I don’t use these often enough, but it helps to exercise my hips, IT band, hamstrings, etc.

Thursday: 4 hill repeats. It finally cooled down enough to make the hill repeats tolerable. I ran 6 miles total, with about 2 for a warm up and a little over 2 for a cool down. These repeats are supposed to be sprints, but I simply try to survive! There’s a hill right outside our door that climbs about 100 feet in about a quarter mile, and it’s steep enough that there’s no way I can handle sprinting up it.

The elevation for my hill repeats

The elevation for my hill repeats

A picture of the hill

A picture of the hill

It’s definitely a good workout and I’m always extremely winded by the time I get to the top.

Friday: Rest (phew!)

Saturday: 6 miles at marathon pace. Matt and I headed out to the trail for this one, where he helped keep my pace under control. McMillan has my pace estimated at 8:13, and I averaged 8:10 – success!

Following our run, we were anxious to finally try our new bikes. Matt got one similar to mine, and neither of us had really tried them out for a real ride yet. We went to Stony Creek and did one loop around the park – 6.3 miles total. It was a beautiful day with lots of people out on the water in boats and kayaks, and I especially loved watching a very happy golden retriever swimming around.

My new bike at Stony

My new bike at Stony

Me with my new bike

Me with my new bike

We took it pretty easy, especially since I was going to run 13 miles the next day. The bike felt good and I’m looking forward to pushing it more on a ride to see what I can do with it.

Sunday: 13 miles (I actually ended up at 13.33). The long runs are finally getting real at this point. I knew it was going to be a hot day, so I got going as early as I could. I went to Stony Creek for this one. It was probably around 70 degrees at 7:30 when I started my run, and easily around 80 by the time I finished just before 9:30. I started out faster than I should have for the first couple miles, slowed down a little for the third, then finally reeled myself in and hovered around an 8:40 pace for the rest of the run. I was plenty hot after the first loop and not too excited to do a second. I made it through without really crashing, but I did feel pretty rough when I finished. I need to get going even earlier for some of these summer runs!

Totals for the week: 37.3 miles of running, 21.3 miles of biking, and strength training once.

I’ve really slacked off on swimming – no swimming at all the last couple weeks. It gets tricky trying to make time for everything when the running miles start to add up. I considered a swim on Sunday, but the 13 miles of running wiped me out enough that I knew it wasn’t a great idea. The heat has been no fun, and it’s looking like another rough week ahead. I may finally attempt to get up at a ridiculous hour so I can squeeze in some miles before work rather than wait until it’s 90 degrees after work. I will likely end up on the treadmill a time or two as well.

– Janet

Week 3 of marathon training

My third week of marathon training is complete, and last week I actually stuck to the schedule. I am trying to follow Hal Higdon’s Advanced 1 plan. It is an 18-week plan, and I know it may be a bit ambitious considering the fact that I have not run a marathon yet. One thing that drew me to this plan is that it involves speed workouts. There are workouts such as tempo runs, hills, and 800s. Higdon’s other plans do not incorporate these kinds of workouts, but I am used to doing similar workouts and enjoy the challenge. In the past, I’ve been used to running around 4 days a week, 5 maximum. This plan will have me running 6 days a week. I’ve avoided that much running in the past due to persistant shin pain. Now that I have the problem under control a bit more, I feel like I’m ready to try 6 days.

I have never been good about truly following a plan in the past, and I’m sure I’ll tweak this one as I go. I really am going to do my best to stick to it though. The first two weeks of the plan were altered a bit due to triathlons each weekend. Of course I decided to start doing triathlons as I began marathon training…great timing. There is no cross-training built into this plan, so I’ll squeeze it in where I can. If I feel like my shins or something else may be a problem, I may take Mondays off of running. I’ll see how it goes!

This past week I was on vacation, which was nice because it meant all of my runs were done in the morning. I typically run in the late afternoon or evening during the week, and it can be brutal with the heat and humidity some days. Matt was on vacation too, so we ran together 5 out of 6 days. Here’s what last week looked like:

Monday: A slow and easy 3 miles on the Paint Creek Trail the day after my sprint triathlon.

Tuesday: 4 x 800 workout, 6.5 miles total. I haven’t been on a track for months and Matt and I decided to do this workout there. I’m glad we did because I tend to go a lot faster on the track. I thought only 4 repeats seemed kind of wimpy, but not at the pace we did! Matt paced me and helped push me. I figured I’d try for a 7-minute pace, but I managed to pull off more like 6:30-6:40 thanks to him!

Wednesday: 45 minutes of strength training followed by 3 miles on the trail.

Thursday: 6 miles at Stony Creek Metropark. It was warm and humid by the time we got out, but I managed to get through this better than I thought I would.

Stony Creek Metropark

Stony Creek Metropark

 

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 6 miles in downtown Cleveland. This was supposed to be a pace run. I ended up hitting the pace overall, but we stopped a bunch of times to take photos. We went to the Tigers / Indians game the night before and took advantage of being able to run in the city the following morning. I love having a change of scenery and it’s fun to run through downtown areas early in the morning. We made a point of running by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the stadium where the Cleveland Browns play.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Running down by the water

Running down by the water

A good chunk of our run went by a small airport

A good chunk of our run went by a small airport

Sunday: 8 miles on the Polly Ann Trail. My legs did not feel great before this run, so I worried that it could be ugly. Once I got moving, I felt totally fine. It rained for the whole run which was nice in a way because it kept me cooler. It was kind of a relief compared to some of the warm runs I’ve done recently.

Total for the week: 32.5 miles.

I only did strength training once, and did not bike or swim at all. Vacation kind of threw me off of my normal workout schedule, but I managed to actually follow the Higdon plan for a full week without altering it. One thing I’m concerned about is my pace. According to the McMillan Running Calculator, I am capable of running a 3:35 marathon. This calculator has accurately nailed my 5K, 10K, and 25K times, so I do have faith in it. However, with this being my first marathon, I’m thinking my goal may be closer to 3:40 or 3:45. Of course the ultimate goal is to finish regardless of pace. 3:35 puts my marathon pace around 8:13, but I’m thinking possibly up to 8:25. I was supposed to run my 6 miles on Saturday at race pace, while the other runs (aside from the 800s) should have been at an easier pace. My marathon pace is what I typically run for any average run that doesn’t have a specific goal. I actually did that pace for my Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday runs too. I really have to work on slowing down. As my miles increase, I’m sure some of it will happen naturally. I need to make sure I don’t get hurt by overtraining and pushing the pace on days when I ought to be going slower. When I have 6 miles at pace next Saturday followed by 13 miles on Sunday, I’m sure that Sunday run will be slower!

– Janet

New exciting gear

June 5th was National Running Day, and Matt and I were BOTH lucky enough to win free shoes from Merrell. On Twitter, they asked people to share how many miles they had run and gave shoes to 5 random responders. All we had to do was tweet and they gave us this awesome prize. What an awesome company. They surprised Matt by sending a pair of Mix Master Tuff shoes. We both have a different model of lightweight Mix Master trail shoes and love them. The Tuff model is a little bit heavier and more rugged. Instead of sending shoes to me, Merrell sent a certificate that allowed me to chose what I wanted. After seeing Matt’s shoes, I decided I wanted to try a pair as well. Merrell doesn’t make the Tuff for women though, so luckily they run just small enough in men’s sizes for me to order a pair. They came yesterday and I was anxious to go for a run to try them out.

Mix Master Tuff

Mix Master Tuff

The lugs on the bottom make them good for trails

The lugs on the bottom make them good for trails

I decided to try them this morning for an 8-mile run on the Polly Ann Trail. We had never been to the trail before but had talked about trying this rail-to-trail for a while. We started around Lake Orion and ran up to Oxford. The first 1.5 miles had the kind of surface we expected – small, crushed stones and dirt, which is similar to the surface of the Paint Creek Trail.

Polly Ann Trail

Polly Ann Trail

There was a stretch of about 1.75 miles that was paved, and these shoes did well on both surfaces. It rained throughout our whole run and the shoes were comfortable the whole time. I am always excited to try new shoes and I’m glad these seem to be a good addition to my collection. Now I just need to get out on the “real” trails to try them out.

In addition to new shoes, I also got a new bike last week. After doing two triathlons, I knew it was time to try something aside from my Schwinn mountain bike. It’s certainly not ideal for road racing. I don’t know much about bikes and wasn’t sure where to start. We went to a couple bike shops and I realized I didn’t feel comfortable on a road bike. The bike that felt the most comfortable for me is categorized as a “fitness” bike. It’s a Trek FX bike that has flat handlebars like I’m used to, but it has much thinner tires than my mountain bike and is good on the road.

My new bike

My new bike

I’ve been a bit too busy this past week to give it a try, but I’m pretty excited about it. Hopefully I will notice quite an improvement in speed and I’ll feel like a speed demon the next time I race, haha.

– Janet

Anyone Can Tri race recap

A week after my first triathlon, I was ready to try another. A sure sign that I’m getting hooked? Anyone Can Tri (June 30th) was another good one for beginners and was a regular sprint distance while my first one was a bit shorter. This one had a swim of 400 yards, 20K on the bike, and a 5K run. One thing that drew me to this race was a pool swim. I figured I’d maintain a better rhythm in the pool because I wouldn’t have to look up every few strokes to avoid crashing. I also heard that the area was very flat for the bike and run – bonus!

The race was held at Lake St. Clair Metropark, which is also known as Metro Beach. I’d never been there and was looking forward to checking out another metropark. All I knew about the place was that I often heard that the beach was closed due to E. coli. Good thing the swim was going to be in the pool! I had no idea there was such a big pool at the park.

A very nice pool at this park

A very nice pool at this park

Once again, Matt was willing to get up at the crack of dawn to come along. He took most of these awesome photos. We got to the park around 6:30 because the transition area was supposed to close around 7:30.

Possibly my last tri with the trusty old Schwinn?

Possibly my last tri with the trusty old Schwinn?

I checked in then set my stuff up in the transition area. Unlike my first tri, this one had a ton of extra space on the racks and my bike wasn’t right on top of someone else’s.

A nice, spacious transition area

A nice, spacious transition area

There was kind of a race meeting, but it was nowhere near as detailed as the one at my first race. We all gathered by the pool and they ran through who was going where and doing what – in addition to the triathlon there was a duathlon. They had the tri people line up in groups based on pace for the 400-yard swim. I figured I’d be around or just under 8 minutes, so I went with that group. Lanes were roped off with yellow flags, and we were to swim serpentine style – down one lane, duck under the flags and swim back down the next lane. The race started and the first person crossed the timing may and jumped in the pool. It was kind of weird to jump in like that and just go.

My turn to jump in!

My turn to jump in!

Someone in my group had gone in the pool earlier and said it was really cloudy. As soon as I started, I understood. No crisp view down to the other end. Of course it was better than swimming in open water, but way cloudier than the pools I’m used to. Probably because this pool typically has a bunch of kids and needs to be loaded with chemicals! I realized halfway down the first length that I hadn’t started my Garmin yet, so I just started it late.

I figured I wouldn’t be able to pull off a flip turn and make it into the next lane without snagging the flags in the process. I saw someone else get tangled up and decided not to even attempt it. Soon, I didn’t have to worry about it because things got so congested it wasn’t an option anyway.

I may have made it through two or three lengths before things got crowded. Apparently staggering people 15 seconds wasn’t enough or people didn’t seed themselves right because a group of us got pretty bunched up. The lanes were wide enough to pass, but eventually people were swimming 2-wide in front and behind me and there was nowhere to go. I was at the mercy of the people in front of me, and people behind me were right on my feet as well.

The swim starting to get congested

The swim starting to get congested

I ended up swimming breaststroke at times so I could see where I was going and to prevent myself from hitting people’s feet with my hands. Several times I had to stop and kind of stand in line at the wall. It got too crowded to keep moving smoothly as people switched to the next lane. So much for the nice pool swim – it was kind of a disaster. At the end, we climbed out of the pool and ran over a timing mat as we left the pool area. It wasn’t far, and my pool split was 11:41. I knew I was capable of at least 8:00, so that tells you what a mess that swim was. Ugh! Luckily the rest of the race was much better.

Running from the pool to the transition area

Running from the pool to the transition area

I ran down the sidewalk to the transition area, where my split was 2:34. I struggled with my socks and was kind of slow. I took off on the bike for 2 loops down Metro Parkway. They closed the inside lane of the road for us which was nice. I glanced at my watch and realized something was off. It wasn’t in bike mode – I think it was in the second transition instead. I don’t remember what happened because I never think clearly during races, but I think there was possibly another timing mat as I went into the transition area. I think I hit my watch for T1 as I left the pool, started the bike on my watch as I actually entered T1, then it went to T2 as I started the bike. Who knows for sure, but I gave up on trying to track the bike on my watch. The route was totally flat which made it less of a struggle for me. I switched my bike to a lower gear at the end of the ride in hopes of having slightly fresher legs when I started the run. The bike took 47:05, or just under 16 mph.

Smiling because this bike ride was nice and flat!

Smiling because this bike ride was nice and flat!

T2 took 38 seconds, then I was off for the 5K. My legs did feel better than usual, though I felt it near my knees a bit. Maybe it also helped that I took two days off from running before this race. We ran down some sidewalks through the park, passing stuff like a big shuffleboard area and a playground.

Running past the pool during the 5K

Running past the pool during the 5K

We also ran on a very nice paved path along the water. I’m definitely interested in going back to this park for a long run now. In addition to the paths through the park, there’s a nice paved path along Metro Parkway that goes for miles.

Early on in the run, I realized my watch was still screwed up. It was tracking time, but not distance. I don’t know how I screwed up so bad. I’m glad signs were posted marking the miles, and I tried to pick it up at the very end.

Pushing it for the last 0.1

Pushing it for the last 0.1

I finished the run in 23:00. That’s a minute off my 5K PR and I was pretty happy with that time. My final time was 1:24:56.

Tri #2 complete!

Tri #2 complete!

Race medal

Race medal

There was a table with some fruit, bags of chips, and stuff like packages of cheese crackers. This race was all about getting people out to try a triathlon, so it was not competitive and there were not any awards. Once the transition area opened, people could leave. We waited long enough for the results to get posted then took off.

Following this race, I didn’t feel like it was as difficult as my first one. It was longer, but it was truly flat and it made a difference. Rather than just surviving the run, I had a good effort. My legs were a bit more sore afterwards though. I decided it was really time to get a new bike now that I know I’m going to stick with this. I don’t know how much the mountain bike has been holding me back, but I’m sure it’s a good amount.

After this race, I may be reluctant to sign up for a race with a pool swim again. That was such a mess. I also need to remember to start my watch and pay attention when I hit the transitions. I may consider another tri towards the end of July or in mid-August. The next step now is to master a new bike and step up that portion of my races!

– Janet