Training Week 18: March 2-8

The main focus right now is not getting sick, hurt, or overly-exhausted. There’s not much else to do for a marathon this Sunday. Then next week is mostly recovery. Then three weeks of hard training, then taper for nationals.

I did want to work some on my Olympic pace biking, which sort of happened, but also I’m sort of too tired and booked for much to happen. I had actually planned on doing more this week, but erred on the side of letting my body recover and my body decided this was what it was going to do. Sometimes my body’s pretty smart. It’s my brain that sucks.

Monday

Rode 10 miles easy on my time trial bike. I almost never ride my TT in the rain, at least not deliberately, because it is an expensive bike and I have an older road bike, so might as well keep the nice one nice. Since it wasn’t raining anymore Monday morning, I thought it’d be fine. I didn’t think about all the sand on the bike path turning into piles of wet sand from the storm the night before. By the time I got home, my bike was the dirtiest it has ever been. There was sand in everything. And, naturally, the brakes on the TT are underneath the frame, so they were filled with wet clumps of sand. God, I hate the beach.

Swam 1,450 yards with some band swimming and pulling and stuff.

Tuesday

OFF, in all caps

Wednesday

Ran 7 miles in the morning, which was supposed to include a decent amount of Goal Marathon Pace and slightly faster miles. I did 3 miles at 7:01, 7:04, 6:57 and it felt shockingly hard, which was concerning and also a sign that it was time to end the workout.

Swam 2,900 yards with The Kids in the evening, which was also shockingly hard. Basically, everything felt disgustingly difficult on Wednesday and my legs hurt and the cut on the back of my leg was still all raw and gross.

Thursday

Swam 2,000 meters. (Turns out the Westwood Community Pool is meters, not yards, who knew.) Did not get up to ride in the morning because I was tired, but didn’t sleep great that extra hour either, so probably wasn’t worth it.

Friday

Ran in Topanga State Park. My plan, initially, had been to do 10-12 miles easy as my last longish run. Typically, this would take about 1 hour, 20-30 minutes or something. Since I ended up picking a route that had 1,800 feet of elevation gain in 3 miles, it didn’t quite work out that way. I ended up doing a lot of hiking up and a lot of trying not to break my ankle down. I only got a bit over 7 miles done in 1 hour, 15 minutes, but I was really over the stupidity of it all.

20 minutes of quick and dirty strength work: TRX, deadlifts, back squats, box jumps, four pull-ups (except technically I think they’re like chin-ups, I don’t know, I can never do them with my hands in the “right” position), and a couple other things and I was out.

Saturday

This weekend was not one of my finest weekends. This weekend and last were supposed to be moderately big training weekends to work on my weaknesses for triathlon nationals. But, school keeps getting in the way. Saturday morning I had to interview someone at a 5K they were doing at the Rose Bowl at 8 a.m. for my documentary. I got there at 7:30 a.m. By 7:50 a.m. it was clear that I had mixed up my days and was supposed to be there on Sunday, not Saturday. By 8:05 a.m. it was also clear that the super unnecessarily mean police officer wasn’t going to let me leave the parking lot, because they had closed it off for a triathlon/duathlon/5K. Goddamn triathletes!

Fine. I’ll just do my workout here. So, I rode about 16 miles in the neighborhood and then around the Rose Bowl. The goal had been to do a few hard laps at race pace around the Rose Bowl, which I thought wouldn’t be a problem, since there was an actual race going on. I mean, my hard training pace should fit right in with a race, right? Nope. I managed to get stuck right in the mix of all the people coasting their way through the triathlon and my hard laps turned into hard efforts + stopping and braking and coasting. Oh well.

Then, Justin met me and we ran 4.5 miles around the outer perimeter, during which it became clear that maybe my Garmin isn’t the most accurate ever. The plan had been to start easy and build to marathon, then faster pace. As I was running pretty hard towards the end, he asked what my watch said I was running. 7:10, why? Because we were definitely running 6:30s, which actually is what it felt like.

Sunday

Back at the Rose Bowl at 7:30 a.m., with the time change. (Did I mention the Rose Bowl is not near my house?) Finally, after wrapping up around 10, I headed out on my ride. I originally wanted to ride about 3 hours, but since I was falling asleep on the drive and felt the worse I’ve felt in a long time, I ended up just riding 2 hours instead. Up Angeles Crest, back, around the Rose Bowl again, and then home to do all of the work.

TOTAL: 9:05

Time to go.

A Very #LA Training Day

Last week I did one of my last big training days/runs before the L.A. Marathon. It ended up being a very LA training day.

First, since I had to drive out to Malibu, I figured I’d stop and run on the trails on my way. Always make the most of your driving #LAlesson. I picked a trail that I was pretty sure was going to be an ok trail—since so many trails around here are, well, not. And, I headed out.

Of course, I got stuck in traffic on my way. How was I supposed to know this random side street comes to a complete stop at commute time? #LAlife

Once I got there, though, Sullivan Canyon was great. It’s a gradual up—because all trails here either go up or down (which is maybe my second biggest complaint about running on the trails here)—but it wasn’t so bad that you weren’t able to actually run.

hikespeak.com

I, stupidly, thought I would go out the canyon, up to the ridge, down the ridge, and back into the canyon. Google Maps made it seem like they’d connect. FYI: They don’t connect. But, I had to learn this on my own.

In order to learn this, I ended up enlisting the help of Jennifer Garner. Naturally. It was basically an episode of Alias.

After I’d been running for a century (or, like, over an hour), I still hadn’t found the trail back down and I was getting thirsty. So, I stopped and asked three Hollywood-esque 30-something women walking by if they knew how to get back to my car (so I could get some water). They all sort of shrugged and one of them started to say that she has literally never set foot off this path, and I looked at her—because you should look at people when they talk to you—and I realized that it’s Jennifer Garner. #LA

What was funny was that it took me no time to realize who it was once I looked at her. Sydney Bristow, you can’t hide!

That buoyed me for a little bit, which was just as well, because I had to run all the way back the way I had come. And, of course, because #LA, the whole way back up the ridge was uphill. By the time I got back to my car, I’d been running for 2 hours and 30 minutes without water. I chugged a bottle and then went out for 15 more minutes to round out my run.

Then, I drove to Malibu.

Then, I drove back to USC.

Then, I had a glass of wine and went to swim practice. (OK, that’s maybe not especially an LA thing.) And, I swear to God, I almost drowned at swim practice. I pushed off the wall before realizing I didn’t have my goggles on. I almost got lapped on a 200-yard interval. I flailed and struggled. And, then, my foot seized up and cramped on the cooldown and I couldn’t move it.

Yay, almost done with marathon training!

Training Week 16: Feb. 16-22

This is the week I both realized the L.A. Marathon is less than three weeks away and I haven’t run enough for it, and also that I need to work on my biking short-course speed because collegiate triathlon is fast. Oh, and also, sleep, tired, breakdown, crying, etc, etc.

In case you were wondering: the end of this story is that those things don’t all go together really.

Monday

Ran 2 hours, 40 minutes up in Marin, on a variation of my favorite loop. Exactly how far it was is currently a topic of debate between my Garmin and I. But, the one thing we can agree on is that it was really hilly and debilitating.

Tuesday

I was really messed up from that run. Maybe it was longer or harder than either the Garmin or I think. Maybe I’m really not ready for this marathon. Swam 1,400 meters (ew, meters) and struggled through the day.

Wednesday

Rode 25 miles on the TT with 4 x 3 minutes at “hard” pace. Because I haven’t had time to put the Power Tap on my TT bike yet (which is going to happen this weekend!) and because I was riding on the beach bike path (which is not ideal for, well, anything), this was possibly stupid. I don’t actually know.

Crossfitted. Weirdly, the gym I randomly ended up going to down here turns out to be one of the legit Crossfit gyms and one of the girls in the story I wrote about Grid trains there. So, that was sort of like ‘ohhh, heeeeeey, just ignore me over here doing my weakass deadlifts.’

Thursday

Rest. I was messed up this week. Yoga’d and rolled and called it.

Friday

Ran 6.5ish miles in the morning with a few 1 minute pick-ups, because racing Sunday.

Swam 1,750 yards with a few pick-ups. Felt ok about all this.

Saturday

Rode 10 miles with the pre-race standard: a few hard sprints and a bit at race pace. Skipped swimming, for life reasons. Felt semi-ok about all this.

Sunday

UCSD Tri: Did the UC San Diego sprint race and, wow, I almost had a total mental breakdown in the middle of this. The summary is: I couldn’t figure out why so many people were ahead of me. (The answer—that they’re going faster—should have been obvious.)

I swam great, for me, but came out far enough back that spectators stop counting at that point. When you’re the third woman, they tell you you’re the third woman. When you’re 17th, they’re like ‘yay, Kelly, you can do it.’ Collegiate triathletes are fast swimmers; there are a number of reasons for this, which can be discussed at some other point, but the end result is that my actually-pretty-ok swimming lands me pretty far back. I, then, started to pass people on the bike and thought I was killing it until two people passed me at the end of the first lap and another at the start of the second. That motivated me enough to try to pick it up, but then I had a lap-and-a-half long meltdown, where I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and why I wasn’t biking faster. I did catch one of the girls, but then another (really annoyingly drafting) girl re-caught me, and I couldn’t drop her and my legs were killing me and I suck and I should probably just quit and it’s clearly not my day and, oh my god, how am I so far back.

By the time I started the run, I was very discouraged and maybe 15 seconds back of annoying drafting girl. I spent most of the first lap of the run feeling bad about and sorry for myself. But, I still managed to pass one person and I was kind of getting a tempo going. At the start of the second lap, I caught the annoying girl and from there I actually raced a race. I spent the second and third laps trying to reel people in and finally feeling like I was moving. Towards the end, I almost had another meltdown when I realized a group of girls was ahead of me that I did not expect to be ahead of me. I mean, man, I just kept passing people and there just kept being more people. BUT—and this is a big but—instead of crying, I picked it up, passed them, slipped and half-fell, and got right back up to kick hard to the finish.

I ended up 7th. I was not thrilled about this. In retrospect, though, I knew it was a very competitive race. Colleges had come from far away and all the good people out here on the West Coast were there. I had expected it to be tough and it was. I was also really proud of myself for not entirely falling apart and coming back from the near brink. What is most interesting, though, is that when I looked at the results later it became clear that my biking didn’t suck as much as I thought it did (especially if I had actually not had the meltdown in the middle) and my running wasn’t as great as I felt like it was. Really, it was all mostly in my head.

TOTAL: 9:25

I don’t know. I’m having panic attacks and if I had the time I’d be panic training, but I don’t have the time, so instead I’m like panic not training? I don’t know. I need to work on my biking and my running and my swimming and my not having weird breakdowns.

At the UCSD Race Today

Me: Do you know how many girls were ahead of me?
USC person: Out the swim?
Me: No, at the end. You know I don’t care about the swim.

The answer was six. It was a competitive race for a local collegiate sprint. But, it gave me a good idea of where I stack up two months out from nationals.

Why Collegiate Triathlon Is Awesome

The USC tri team at nationals two years ago. (Triathlete Magazine)
The USC tri team at nationals two years ago. (Triathlete Magazine)

I’ve written before about why I don’t think triathlon should become NCAA, and I’m going to go ahead and double-down on that argument—although I will admit some of the issues and questions are being addressed (but not all). But, what I want to talk about today is why collegiate triathlon is sort of awesome. Unfortunately, part of what makes it awesome, I think, will be killed with systemic corporatization. So, get in while you can.

This weekend, I’m heading down to San Diego with the USC Tri Kids (aka The Kids) to do the UCSD race. I signed up for $50 and I signed up only because The Kids told me to. For the collegiate triathlete, there is no season outside the collegiate season, there is nothing else to worry about, there is no larger annoying triathlete community obsessing about Kona. Collegiate triathlon exists in a vacuum, in many ways. And, that vacuum is still relatively untouched by the things that eventually touch all sports.

This is why collegiate triathlon is awesome.

People talk a lot about how collegiate triathlon is The Future. These athletes are so fast and they must be developed. We will never win Olympic medals unless we start shepherding our 18-year-olds into the Olympic development funnel.

The thing is, though, yeah, some of the collegiate triathletes are fast, but plenty of them aren’t. Some of them will become Olympians, but lots of them won’t. And, that’s fine. Hell, it’s better than fine. Last year, I was sitting in the shade on the boat ramp at Wildflower while the collegiate wave went off, because I started almost two hours after them (ugh), and I listened to the announcer rave about how these racers were The Future. The college race was the highlight of the day. Yet, despite having a cold and coughing up green stuff and starting so much later in the heat and behind every. single. old. man., I went faster across that course than all the collegiate women except one (who was faster than me by less than a minute). This isn’t a humblebrag. There were another four or five age group girls who were faster than me that day. The point I’m making is that yeah, some of the collegiate triathletes are crazy fast, some of them will be once they learn how to swim or ride a bike or sleep, but creating a breeding ground for greatness isn’t actually what collegiate triathlon is about. Not really.

(Now, I’ve totally jinxed it and I’m going to lose to lots and lots of collegiate women this weekend. But, in my defense, the fast ones are largely out here on the West Coast. Largely. So, when I lose it’ll be because they’re good and not because I suck, or something.)

But, what makes collegiate triathlon awesome is that not one of those kids at Wildflower gave a shit about the fact that everyone in the 25-29 age group had beaten them. They did not care. I don’t think they even knew. They only cared about the other collegiate racers.They were racing in a vacuum. It was a vacuum of tunnel vision and trying your hardest and the joy of racing.

That’s why collegiate triathlon is awesome. Because you can pay your $25, show up and know you’re going to have some good hard racing, and maybe you’ll win a water bottle, maybe you won’t. Maybe there’ll be future Olympians at your little race around campus, because some of these kids are fast, and maybe there won’t be. It’s awesome, because it doesn’t seem to care about the most expensive gear, or qualifying for bigger races, or cultivating sponsors with your Twitter account. Hell, they don’t even seem to worry much about any of the classic triathlete things: gadgets and training zones and what some study of five people said might give you a tiny advantage if you sit in a sauna after your workouts. Sometimes, this drives me nuts, because The Kids can make a one-hour ride last three hours, and training zones have a purpose. But, that’s what triathlon was like before we all became triathletes.

It turns out the UCSD race is actually part of a big weekend-long Tri-palooza thing, and Julie Moss was there for the draft-legal race today (because, you know, we’ve got to funnel all these kids into draft-legal racing or we’ll never win medals!). And, Meb is part of some big awards dinner tonight. And, that’s cool. It really is very cool. But, part of me keeps thinking I’m not ready yet for real triathlon again.

Training Week 14: Feb. 2 – 8

Last week was all about getting un-sick. And, it mostly worked. Fingers crossed, but this may be the first time I’ve gotten a cold and not also gotten a debilitating cough for weeks after.

The frustrating half of that was, obviously, the fact that I basically can’t seem to get back into a training groove since school started. I spend all my time, instead, having mild panic attacks about how many things are due and how I may have overbooked myself but it’s too late to cut anything loose.

But—and it’s a big but—I’m changing my peak focus for the spring, so I have a few more weeks to get ready.

It’s official, now: I’m going to race collegiate triathlon nationals at the end of April with The Kids. It’ll be fun and fast, hopefully, and it means that I’m not going to focus as much on the L.A. Marathon. I’m still planning to run it, but I’m spending more of my training re-learning Olympic distance race pace. I hope. And, anyway, I was doing a heavy cross-training marathon plan, so it should all work out. You know, hopefully.

Monday

Swam 1,000 yards after the Race That Sucked.

Tuesday

God, I still felt awful. Nothing.

Wednesday

Woke up with a cold, so didn’t do the long ride I was planning. Alternatively, just rode 20 miles easy on the bike path.

Swam about 1,500 yards with The Kids in the evening. I was going to do the whole practice, but I felt pretty awful, so I went home and coughed myself awake all night instead.

Thursday

Ran a bit over 5 miles easy with Natalie in the morning. It felt like death.

Friday

Since I felt like death, I slept 11 hours Thursday night and did nothing Friday.

Saturday

Rode 24 hilly-ish miles in Palos Verdes with The Kids. I was going to run after, because I was going to try to get back on schedule and test my legs. But, we started from this house on top of a hill, so I didn’t really feel like running downhill and then back up. Oh well.

Sunday

UCLA Aquathlon. Given what the rest of my week looked like, in retrospect, I’m surprised I kept it together for this actually at all. Plus a couple miles running before and after, and a few minutes of swimming warm-up.

TOTAL: 5:15

Haha. Yeah.

Race Report: UCLA Aquath(al)on?

The quick version before I go back to bed:

Today was the first race of the official collegiate season. Evidently, that one in the fall was a fake-out, or a warm-up, whatever. Today’s was an aquathon (or aquathalon—disputing opinions) at UCLA.

I was kidding around with one of The Kids afterwards that if you could invent a race that I was going to hate it would have been this one. But, actually, I might not have been kidding. It was a 500m swim, mass start, around buoys in an Olympic-sized pool. This is basically my nightmare swimming scenario. It’s too many people and not enough space. Then, it was a very hilly 5K run, with everyone super close together and sprinting for the finish. Oh, right, and I still have a cold and couldn’t breathe good. Yay.

The swim was fine, though far from my best ever. (Notably, not my worst ever either.) I couldn’t breathe well, which was partially because I can’t breathe good right now and partially because people kept hitting me in the face. I swam on one of my teammate’s feet for a little while and then I decided that was probably annoying the shit out of her, so I tried to go around, but succeeded only in running into her.

I almost fell over pulling myself out of the pool and then I was sprinting onto the run, because THERE ARE PEOPLE TO RUN DOWN!

The run was painful and wheezy from the start, which was uphill. By the top of the hill, though, I could see the girls who had probably come out of the water first. They only had about 30 seconds on me and there was maybe a half-dozen of them spread out at varying speeds. There was a long downhill and I run downhills fast (generally), so I decided I was just going to have to go for it and hope that I could hold on. I caught some of them, but I could not close on the last UCLA girl in front of me. We made the loop at the turnaround and I felt like I was still running hard, but the gap was staying at about 30 feet or something.

Side note, here: I can never close the last little gap on people. There’s something about them being in front of me that screws with my head and makes me assume they must be faster than me, even if I’ve closed minutes on them. That last 5-10 seconds is impossible.

I started to think I just didn’t have it today. This was too short for me to really be good; it wasn’t enough things. I’ve been too sick lately. Perhaps, it is no surprise that, even though I was still running hard, this is when people I had passed started to catch back up to me.

I could hear one girl right on my shoulder as we started back uphill to the finish, and I was pretty sure there was another one right behind her. I definitely didn’t want a sprint finish today. (While I usually feel confident in my sprinting abilities against adults and the general triathlete population, against college kids today I did not feel confident.) So, instead, I tried to break her. Except, I did a really shitty job of it. I ran the long uphill hard, but I never made any decisive move; I just let her stay right on my shoulder. The effort was killing me too, which showed. You don’t really want it to show, if you’re trying to convince someone they can’t beat you.

We crested the hill and there was a short little downhill to the finish and I thought I had it. I started kicking hard. I came around the corner, but then, oh no, there’s another corner to go around! It’s another 150m! And, I just couldn’t hold it. She kicked past me. In the end, the UCLA girl was just steps ahead, and all four of us finished within maybe 15-20 seconds. But, this isn’t horseshoes or hand grenades, right? Close doesn’t count.

This is where I THOUGHT the finish line was. But, it wasn't and that little girl passed me like five seconds later.
This is where I THOUGHT the finish line was. But, it wasn’t and that girl passed me like five seconds later.

Basically, that is everything about how not to beat someone.

And, then, anyway, it turned out there was last year’s national champion like a minute ahead of us, so oh well, anyway.

Obviously, I was all worried that I got in my head, that I could have found 10 seconds somewhere, that I need to toughen up. Could I have gone harder?? But, then I thought about right after the finish, when I was seeing stars and wobbling and coughing things up and snot was everywhere and I decided: No, I was pretty messed up at the end, that was probably as hard as I had today.

Training Week 13: Jan. 26 – Feb. 1

Oh, right, what I did last last week. Sorry, I know so many of you care about my training. What I’ve done this week is try to not be sick and not have a mental breakdown. What I did last week was try to get my training block started again. Last week, I came back from my first real rest week in a long time, which somehow led to a semi-sprained ankle, a night of throwing up, and strange bouts of vertigo. Oh, and now a cold. Lesson here: don’t rest.

(No, actually, this week has been nothing but rest. But, last week I tried to train.)

Monday

Rode 13 miles. With the messed-up ankle, I didn’t want to run my hard intervals, so I did hard cycling hill repeats instead. This made sense to me. I did 5 x Baldwin Hill, which was about 5 minutes long and was full of people lunging backwards uphill with ankle weights. Seriously, it was a mad circus. I was going to do the first one moderately easy and then build for five repeats from there, but it turns out it was too steep for any kind of easy. So the first one was slightly easier, then three more of varying levels of harder and one “easy-ish”. Then, I did the last one all-out-ish. I’m pretty sure, if I was on Strava, that I would have taken the QOM, so I’m totally counting that in my mind, since it’s all made up anyway.

Swam 1,100 yards easy. It turns out really hard hill repeats are, well, hard. I was pretty tired.

Tuesday

Rode 12 miles easy to school.

Light strength work in the evening. Some TRX, some core, some screw-it-it’s-too-crowded.

Wednesday

Rode 32 miles up the Malibu hills. I did not pick an amazing route. Some of it was nice, but some of it involved a busy road with a tunnel. On one of the completely not busy roads, though, where there almost no cars, I actually almost got totally taken out by someone driving fast and cutting into the turn, and into me. It was one of those times where you can see how close the car is as the front passes you and you brace yourself for the back to just take you down.

Swam 2,800 yards with The Kids in the evening. 500s and stuff.

Thursday

Ran 5 1/2 miles with 4 x 2 minutes at 5K pace, just to remember how to run fast again. And, to run for the first time in 10 days. Stupid ankle. This also made me surprisingly sore and tired. Ugh.

Friday

Off.

Saturday

Rode about 30 miles with The Kids in the morning, again the Malibu hills. Not my ideal pre-race prep, but whatever.

Sunday

The Race That Sucked.

TOTAL: 11:00

Training Week 12: Jan. 19-25

So, here’s the thing. I took a rest week last week and I got more tired. I basically spent the whole week in a smashed, tired little ball, lying on my bed. I am not even making that up. There’s something about as soon as you give your body a break, it’s all: ‘Ohh, this is what that’s like?! Well, screw it, I’m out, bitches!’

On the other hand, I’ve been feeling (maybe) better this week. And, hopefully, I’ll be faster for the half-marathon this weekend.

Monday

Ran a hard 12 1/2 miles on trails with my brother-in-law. It wasn’t that hard—most of it was chill and moderately easy—but there were parts that I was pretty sure we were running fast, which my Garmin totally later confirmed we were.

Nate’s strength class after. By that night, oh man, my legs physically hurt so much that I was actually positive the bones inside them were hurting.

Tuesday

Swam 1,000 yards. And, you’re lucky I even got that much done. Everything still hurt so much.

Wednesday

Swam 2,700 yards with The Kids. This included an 800 straight. See, the thing about swimming with The Kids is that pretty much everyone on the faster half of the pool could beat me at a 100-yard race. But, almost none of them could beat me at ten of those in a row. I got stamina. So, this was my kind of night.

Thursday

Oh god. My body just like quit on me overnight. I started throwing up. When I woke up in the morning to shower and get dressed, it was. not. happening. Not even a little bit. I ended up sleeping about 15 hours.

Friday

20 minutes of yoga and rolling.

Saturday

In the morning—and I mean 4 a.m. morning—I had to drive out to Temecula to film a Spartan Race for a documentary I’m working on about obstacle course racing. Running around the obstacles with a camera made me realize that my ankle, which had been sore for a few days after Monday’s trail/strength extravaganza, was still really hurting.

Rode 10 miles easy on the beach path (with three 1 minute pick-ups) just to shake it out and make sure I could get back to training soon.

Sunday

Went to Long Beach with The Kids for some open water practice. We did one 1,000-meter(ish) loop moderately hard as race practice and then The Kids ran, but as soon as I took a few steps in the sand it was clear my ankle was not up for running. Why? Because my body quit on me. So, I swam another loop.

TOTAL: 5:35

Hopefully, now, I am rested?