Archive for June, 2009

Vacation Workouts

As most of you have no doubt figured out, I am getting married this weekend! I am so excited for the day, but even more excited for our honeymoon in Fiji! We have a great trip planned for the next few weeks, full of diving, hiking, kayaking, and of course, relaxing!

However, I am a bit worried that my fitness is going to suffer, despite some cross training outside of the tri sports. And when I get back I’m only going to have 9 weeks until Nation’s Triathlon, my first Oly! My trainer had put together a list of simple lifting exercises to do while on vacation. Here is the basics (with some additions/modifications by me):

1. Push-ups

2. Bicycle Crunches

3. Shoulder press using piece of luggage

4. Squats (variations)

5. Alternating reverse lunges (really any lunges)

6. Bench dips on the edge of a chair

7. One leg hip thrust on each leg (for core and hamstrings)

8. Pilates plank (variations)

And I’m going to make an effort to do as much swimming and running as possible, but since I’m not traveling with my bike, I’m especially worried about that part.

Anybody have good workouts to do while traveling? I’d love some suggestions for variation, especially since it looks like I’m probably going to be traveling to Canada for work shortly after returning from Fiji too.  I don’t want to get bored!

Have a great weekend!


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Thoughtful Thursdays: Adventure

The July edition of Triathlete magazine is dedicated to off-road triathlon, and included the article, “Adventure: The Antidote to Fear”, which had an excerpt that I just love from Mitch Thrower.  I thought I’d share it today instead of my normal long-winded comments on an aspect of triathlon.

“Now if you are training for a triathlon or have participated in one, guess what?  You are forever a triathlete, and that distinction is for life.  Once you have done a triathlon you will always belong to a very special group of people who decided to replace fear with adventure.

Fear, reluctance, intimidation, trepidation.  They’re all the negative faces of creative imaginations.  It’s a universal adage that freedom from fear unleashes the best of our physical capabilities, the daring of our souls.  In that sense our adventures in triathlon trigger confidence and productivity.  In turn, this raises the limits of what we can accomplish in our work and family life.  So keep swimming, biking and running away from fear–always in the direction of your next adventure.”

I know some of you are coming up on your first ever triathlon, and since I’m going to be away for some of them and out of touch of the blogging community, let me just say: Congratulations, Triathlete!

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Whew! All moved in and ready to roll…

Wow!  I didn’t realize how much stuff I had!  It took the whole day Sunday to move my stuff into my new place.  I’m glad we have a lot of room because I had a ton of stuff.  I think about half of it (excluding furniture) was books.  I have 200+ books, and I love them, but they are tough to move!  My cat was less than happy about the move and she decided to cry all night and kept me from getting a good night’s sleep.  Hopefully, she will not be repeating that tonight.

Today was a pretty normal work day followed by a pretty typical weight lifting session.  I tried to keep track of weights and reps, but I’ve forgotten all that already.  I’ll try and record what I remember:

V-ups with a stability ball

Reverse crunches (with stability ball between feet)

Leg circles (with stability ball between feet)

Hamstring squeeze with stability ball

Pilates bridge on stability ball

Wide grip lat pull-down @ 70lbs

Right leg reverse lunge to knee up


Left leg reverse lunge to knee up

Shoulder Press

Right leg reverse lunge to knee up

Bicep curls with bungee

Left leg reverse lunge to knee up

Chest press

Right leg reverse lunge to knee up

Hamstring curls

Left leg reverse lunge to knee up


Right leg pump lunge

Rotator cuff with bungee

Left leg pump lunge

Horizontal woodchoppers with bungee

Wall-sit for 3+ minutes

After all that I had some light cleaning to do at the old house, then went home and for a short ~1+ mile run with Curtis.  I felt really good, and if it hadn’t been late 9:00PM or so, I would have wanted to continue.  But I still needed to eat dinner and shower (which I am about to do now).

Happy Monday!

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Lifting on Saturday

We had an extra weight lifting session today, so instead of sleeping in this morning, I headed to the gym to workout at 9:00AM.  It was a pretty good, tough workout.  Our trainer switches “phases” every few weeks so our bodies have to adapt to a different type of workout.  We’re moving from double sets to single sets with lower body exercises alternating with upper body.  Here’s the workout (if I remember correctly):

Tuck-crunches (don’t know if this is what they’re called, but it’s the motion that you make, tuck in your knees and crunching up with extended arms)


Modified leg lifts spelling the alphabet with our legs


Pilates bridge and push-up (start in a pilates bridge and then move one arm after another into the push-up position and do a push-up, repeat)

Lat pull-downs @ 90lbs?

Prisoner squat to knee-up

Bench dips @ BW

Prisoner squat to knee-up

Triceps @ 7.5lbs dumb bells

Prisoner squat to knee-up

Bicep curls @ 30lbs barbell

Prisoner squat to knee-up

Shoulder Press @ ? lbs

Right leg lunge to knee-up

Arm raises with bungee

Left leg lunge to knee-up

Upright row with bungee

Right leg lunge to knee-up

Push-ups @ BW

Left leg lunge to knee-up

Push press (squat with a press) @ 35lbs plate

The rest of the day I spent packing.  I’ve packed about 20 boxes already and there’s still so much to do!  Tomorrow morning, I’m going to start bright and early before we get the truck at 11AM.  It’s going to be a long day!

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Ending on a good note

Finally!  Decent weather!  This evening was sunny, with no rain clouds in sight, so Curtis and I finally got to go for a bike ride outside.  It was quite hot and humid, but not too bad (bearable) with the wind on the bike.  We did 20.76 miles total in 1:30, with an average speed of about 13.x mph.  I’ll try to check on the exact numbers and update tomorrow, because I don’t remember them off the top of my head.  I dont want to go retrieve my cycling computer right now since it’s all the way downstairs in the garage, and I’m quite tired lying here in bed.  The ride was actually quite good, despite the heat and humidity.  I still found that I was going out too hard in the first half and killing my legs in the second half.  I really need to work on that.  I also fixed my cadence monitor, so I spent most of the ride watching that and realizing how much harder it is to keep it above 90 on a real bike versus the stationary bikes at the gym.  Having the cadence measure has also helped me realize that I’ve been trying to push too big a gear for extended periods of time.  I think that’s a major contributor to always killing my legs on the second half of a bike ride.  I think it’s going to be a really great tool to improving my cycling.

I should mention that I did workout yesterday too, I lifted for 45 minutes and rode the stationary bike for an hour.  I don’t remember my exact routine for the lifting, but I know the core work included a modified pilates bridge on a stability ball and bicycle crunches.  We also attempted to do the bicycle crunches on a bosu ball, and it was so hard!  Attempting to balance on my back and move my arms and legs at the same time is not one of my strengths!  We also did some horizontal wood choppers, prisoner squats + knee-up, more squats, lat pull down, row, press, wall sit, bench lunges, and bicep curls.  There may have been a few more things that I forgot, but you get the gist of it.  As usual a full body workout, and it was quite tough.  I worked out with a different group than I usually did today, but I have noticed across the board at all the different groups there are some people that just don’t push themselves.  I don’t get it.  Why waste the money and go through the motions if you’re not going to really push yourself to succeed?  Is it just for the bragging rights to say they worked out?  I can’t believe it when I see people changing to lighter weights than our trainer gives, when they can do the full weight.  Oh, well!  They’re only cheating themselves on a great workout!

I mentioned I also rode the stationary bike for an hour.  Nothing too exciting here, actually quite the opposite.  I was so bored!  I usually can do the machines for a long time without any entertainment other than people-watching, but yesterday was tough.  I barely managed to stay on for the full 60 minutes because I was so bored.  I’m so glad I have my own bike to ride outside and I can’t wait to get a trainer so I can ride in my own house and watch tv or something to keep myself occupied.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my effort this week.  I’ve even kept up with my blogging!  The rest of the weekend is going to be spent moving…packing on Saturday and then taking all my stuff to the new place on Sunday.  I’ll be lifting lots of heavy boxes, but luckily I’ll have lots of help from my brothers and Curtis!

Happy weekend!

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Thoughtful Thursdays: The Open Water Swim

In this edition of Thoughtful Thursdays, I thought it might be helpful to talk about the open water swim a bit.  It seems to be the most daunting event for many triathletes.  And in fact, I’d guess that many prefer the relative safety of a pool swim.  There is a lot more to think about with an open water swim; rather than just worrying that you seeded yourself correctly and making sure to touch the wall at both ends, there are weather conditions, water conditions, sighting, and wearing a wetsuit to consider- just to name a few!

In my opinion, the single-most important thing to a successful open water swim is simple- RELAX.  I must admit I have been very lucky in this arena, since I grew up swimming on a swim team and taking many trips to lakes and beaches.  These experiences instilled a great level of comfort in water, which usually keeps me from going into panic mode if and when something goes wrong.  I know that thrashing and flailing about will not solve my problems, but almost always, relaxing my muscles and floating for a moment is going to re-orient me and eliminate some of the initial stressful thoughts.  The biggest hurdle of the open water swim is the mental aspect.  After you have trained in a pool for a certain distance, whether Sprint or longer, you know you can swim that distance.  But for many reasons, it just seems different in open water- it is no longer nice and neatly broken into clear swimming pools with sets broken into specific distances.  In open water, it is a some-what defined route you have to follow through often murky and sometimes tumultuous water.  In a race, you add in the other swimmers you have to worry about, and it can seem to be an overwhelming task.  But let me stop before I psych you out, that is not the goal of this post.  I want to share the things I’ve learned to be helpful in making the open water swim a success.

First things first, determine whether you are going to wear a wetsuit.  USAT rules say that you can wear a wetsuit when water temperature is 78°F or lower.  Between 78.1° and 83.9° wetsuits are allowed, however competitors will not be elligible for any awards.  At 84° or above, wetsuits are not allowed.  The reason wetsuits make competitors ineligible at higher temperatures is buoyancy, which is exactly the same reason I would highly recommend anyone to wear a wetsuit when it’s allowed (74° or under).  The wetsuit is going to keep your body more level in the water, particularly if you have trouble balancing or keeping your body horizontal.  Also, if you get in a pickle and get tired or cramped or have some other issue preventing you from continuing, the wetsuit is going to keep you afloat.  Very strong swimmers may not see the same performance enhancements as weaker swimmers, but they still do offer warmth in cold water.  The real drawback to wetsuits is the cost, at $200+ they’re not cheap, and for beginner triathletes buying a new wetsuit may not be a viable option.  There are options to rent, and you could always try and borrow one first or buy one used.  Just make sure it fits well and you have good range of motion in your shoulder area.  And like anything else, don’t try it out for the first time on race day.  Of course, I’ve broken this rule in just about all of my races, so I’m not one to talk.  For a wetsuit, though, you don’t want to be learning how to get it on and off on race day.  Try it out ahead of time, in open water if possible, but a pool is fine too (remember to rinse thoroughly with cold water if you take it in a chlorinated pool).  Ok, now that you’ve determined whether your race is wetsuit legal and decided whether or not to wear one, you’re heading to the race to set up.  Always bring two pairs of goggles, you do not want to swim in open water without them.  Usually the colorful caps indicating what wave you’re in are handed out at the beginning of the race, so you don’t need to worry about that as much.  I’d still bring one to be on the safe side.

Equipment? Check.

When you go to line up with your wave, consider the course and your expected strength compared with the other swimmers.  If you are a strong swimmer, you may want to line up toward the front.  Weaker swimmers will want to line up toward the back.  The swim start is going to be chaotic, and you are going to get kicked, pulled, shoved and swum over (or you might be the one kicking, pulling, shoving and swimming over people!), so you want to carefully consider where you want this to take place.  In my (not so vast) experience, I think in the future I will try to line up near the front toward the outside (farther from the buoy markers).  I may initially add a little bit of distance to my swim, but in the end I believe it will be worth it to avoid as much as the inside thrashing as possible and get into a rhythm quickly.  Once to the first turn buoy, I would want to be right on it.  I think that if I were expecting to be one of the weaker swimmers in the group, I would still line up on the outside, but toward the back of the group.  Since in that case I wouldn’t be as concerned about keeping up with the group as setting my own time, I’d definitely want to get into my rhythm without worrying too much about other people around me.

Chaotic start? Check.

The swim is by far the loneliest part of a triathlon for me.  Not that that’s a bad thing!  But it can be unnerving when you are swimming along and have no idea who’s close to you or where the pack is.  Particularly when the visibility is poor in and out of the water, you can find yourself wondering where the heck you are and whether you’ll ever get to the next buoy!  Relax. Practice sighting ahead of time in the pool so you are prepared to look for the buoy yourself.  Don’t rely on following other people.  I’ve heard horror stories of whole packs veering off-course and adding a lot of distance to their swims.  Even if you are drafting on someone, make sure you continue to sight for yourself.  (Side note- I have never been successful at finding someone to draft, and usually end up swimming up between their legs.  If you are good at this and have tips for finding a “draft buddy” please comment and share!).  In my last race, I planned to sight every 6 strokes, but I think that was a bit too often.  My plan for my next race is to practice sighting once per length of the pool, so in the OWS, I’ll sight every 10 strokes.  This is a personal thing, you just need to figure out what works for you.  If for some reason you lose sight of the buoys or can’t find it on a sighting, don’t panic.  Again, just relax, take a couple more strokes and try again.  It’s all downhill from the first turn buoy!

Swim? Check.

You did it!  Now that we’ve reached the shore, it’s time to get out of that pesky wetsuit.  Don’t get too ambitious and try and take it off all at once- you’ll end up waddling with it stuck around your ankles!  I don’t know how other people change this up, but what I do works pretty well for me.  As soon as I exit the water and start running toward transition, I move my goggles to my forehead.  As I’m running, I unzip the wetsuit and pull the top half off.  Then I take off my cap and goggles and continue running to my transition station.  Once there I discard the cap and goggles and immediately take off the bottom part of the wetsuit.  It’s easiest if you let it go inside out and just pull over the ankles that way (same goes for getting your arms out earlier).  There will be plenty of time after the race to straighten it out.  Now you’re out of the wetsuit and ready for the rest of your transition into the bike!

Transition? Half-check (since we didn’t talk about getting into bike gear- that’s a post for another time).

The absolute best thing you can do to prepare for an OWS is to actually get into open water and swim.  Even if it’s just to get comfortable, every chance you have to convince yourself that you are calm and comfortable in the water is going to help you on race day.  So, when the winds kick up some waves in an ocean swim, or the lake you’re in has zero visibility with the added plus of a rather dark and cloudy day, you will be relaxed and ready!  Just keep swimming!

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Where are you?

So, last night after posting I was getting ready for bed and went to get my cat.  She usually sleeps in my room because she’ll wait until the alarm goes off to jump on me when she’s in my room but otherwise she scratches at the door and wakes me up before its time.  I usually give her a little treat at bedtime and she nearly always comes when I call.  Last night she did not.  I searched the whole house for her and couldn’t find her anywhere.  She wasn’t in any of her usual hiding places and she doesn’t go outside, so I was a bit worried.  My roommates also searched their room for her without success.  Needless to say, I did not go to bed early enough to get up at the crack of dawn this morning, and I was quite restless this morning when I woke up for the first time and she still hadn’t shown up.  Turns out, she WAS in my roommates’ bedroom, although we’re still not sure where she was hiding.  My theory is that she got curious and went “exploring”.  She’s not usually allowed in their bedroom because my one roommate has a bit of an allergy to her.  Anyways I think she got stuck in their when they went to bed and wouldn’t come out of wherever she was because the dog was in the room.  She finally came out this morning and was waiting by the door to be let out of the bedroom after the dog had been taken out.  Silly, crazy cat!  I think she knew she had gotten herself in a pickle because she immediately started purring like crazy when she finally got out.  What an adventure!

Hope you don’t mind my departure from tri training for a day!

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Gambling on the Weather

I took a gamble tonight.  When I left work, it was about to storm, but I decided to take the chance that it would be a quick half hour to hour long thunderstorm that would pass and still give me the chance to go for a bike ride.  I lost my bet.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

So, today was an unplanned rest day.  I’m considering going to the gym early tomorrow morning for weight training.  Now, it’s bedtime!

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Bonus Post!

To make up for my lack of blogging lately, you get a bonus post tonight!  Mostly because I had a super-fabulous workout today, and I just had to share.  It felt so good to have a productive workout.  I actually spent 2 and a half hours at the gym tonight, can you believe it???  I can’t either.

I started off with my usual weight training.  Here’s a brief summary of the workout (I might have missed something, so don’t hold me to it!):

Russian Twists with 12lbs medicine ball

V-ups with 12lbs medicine ball

Can-opener sit-ups

Push-ups with one hand on the medicine ball


Bench lunges with 2 dumbbells @ 15lbs each

Chest press @ 2o lbs for each arm

Assisted pull-ups @ ~85lbs

Bicep Curls with rope on cable machine @ 50lbs

Downward row? @ 95lbs

Jump Squats (BW)

Squats + 25lbs plate

Bench dips

Rotator cuff with bands

Push-press with bands


Squat + shrug @ 17.5 lbs dumbbells

I think that was everything.  The jump squats always get my heart rate up really high, so I always have a really hard time on the next set.  I really want to get to the point where I can do an unassisted pull-up.  I think I probably could have done more than 85lbs today, but my arms were pretty tired by the end of the second set.  I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do them, I can remember watching the few girls in elementary school who could, but I was definitely not one of them.

After weight lifting, I went swimming.  Can I just repeat that I LOVE swimming outside!  There’s just something about it that makes the entire experience so much better.  I did the workout that I posted earlier today.  3800 m in 1:25 minutes.  Not too shabby considering I had just finished 45 minutes of weight lifting.  My arms felt like jelly on the first 600 m, so I took it really slow.  After that, I was in a rhythm and felt pretty good for the rest of the workout.  Although, I did learn one thing- I cannot do the Zipper drill.  I don’t know why, but it was not pretty.  I felt like a floundering fish.

It was probably a good experience though, because it reminded me of the most important water skill any swimmer must have, the ability to relax and NOT panic.  I’m not going to talk about this now, but lookout for more of my thoughts on the subject in a Thoughtful Thursday post soon.

I’m sleepy from all that exercising today, my body doesn’t know what hit it!  Haha.  So, I’m off to bed to rest up and recover!  Have a great night!

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I have been a terrible blogger lately!  I’m afraid I’m not going to get much better and just fall off the wagon completely!  Don’t worry though, despite my absence in the blogosphere, I have been getting better about training regularly again.  Starting Wednesday last week, I’ve actually done something 4/5 days, which is not bad coming off of at least a week of nothing!

On Thursday, the weather was crappy- very cloudy and drizzly, but I decided to go swimming anyways.  My gym’s pool converts from indoor to outdoor every summer.  They have a giant bubble that covers it in the winter months, but during the summer it is open.  I forgot how much I LOVE swimming in an outdoor pool versus indoor.  I think it has to do with the air quality.  There isn’t the chemical saturation you get in an indoor pool, which makes it feel less dense and thick.  It wasn’t actually raining when I got in the pool, and I was really excited about the workout I had generated.  Unfortunately, I only got to swim about 1000 meters of it before the lifeguard heard thunder and shutdown the pool.  They’re required to close for 30 minutes, and I could have waited, but felt there was no point.  As a former lifeguard, I knew that there is almost always going to be more thunder that pushes that 30 minutes back even farther.  I didn’t have any regular clothes to run or bike or anything else, so I just went home instead of sitting around and waiting in my bathing suit.  Of course, it never actually stormed, which was a huge bummer.  I probably should have stayed, but you know what they say about hindsight!

Anyways my planned workout was this:


600 m Freestyle Swim, RI 0:60

Build-up (repeat 2 times):

1 x 100 m Single Arm (arm out in front- 6xleft, 6xright, 6xfull), RI 0:15

6 x 50 m Freestyle DPS, RI 0:10

1 x 100 m Zipper, RI 0:15


2 x 400 m Freestyle Pull with pull buoy, RI 0:60

12 x 100 m Freestyle Swim with fins, RI 0:15


1 x 50 m Freestyle Push & Glide, RI 0:10

1 x 50 m Freestyle Easy, RI 0:10

Total Distance: 3800 m

I only got through the Freestyle DPS drill for the first repeat of the build-up.  I felt AWESOME in the water though.  I’m thinking I may do this workout tonight- it’s a beautiful day and hopefully there won’t be any storms!

Friday was a blah day for me, so I opted out of working out.  Saturday was pretty busy all day long with wedding stuff, so I just managed a short run/walk on Saturday evening.  I got the most terrible side stitch after the first quarter mile.  I tried to run through it, but after half a mile, I had to stop at to wait to cross a street.  After that, it was even worse, and I was actually having trouble just walking with it, and running was miserable.  I ended up doing about 2.5 miles, mostly walking.  I think maybe I was dehydrated?  I don’t usually get side stitches when I run, and they’ve never been so bad that I felt like I could not go on running.  I decided to try the running thing again on Sunday.  I am so glad I did!  It was a complete 180 from the previous run.  I felt great, ran a full 3 miles and walked .5 miles to cool down.  I also had my roommate’s dog, who was awesome.  She is pretty good at pacing, but doesn’t have the stamina for longer runs (6 miles seems to be at or close to her max), so this distance was perfect.

I’m challenging myself to post every day for the next two weeks, if I write it here, then I have to do it!  After that, I’ll be gone for my wedding and honeymoon for three weeks, so I won’t be able to update during that time.  I’m going to try and actually do “Thoughtful Thursday” posts for the next five weeks ahead of time, so hopefully I’ll at least have those.  When I get back, I’ll only have 8 weeks till Nation’s Tri!

Hope you all had great weekends!

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