Last year the Chicago Triathlon was my “big” race for the year. Although it wasn’t technically my first triathlon (I did the Esprit de She tri earlier that summer), it was the one I’d been training for for most of 2015.
This year I had plans to sign up for the sprint distance again but then my neighbor and friend ended up getting injured and needed someone to fill in for her as the runner on team “Tri Me a River.” They were signed up to do the Olympic/International distance as a relay team. One person would do the 1 mile swim, one person would do the 25 mile bike, and I would do the 6.2 mile run.
Although I attended the mandatory course talk before the race there was very little information provided about the relay portion of the event. To be honest, the two other times I’ve done a triathlon as part of a relay team they also provided very little information! Something about the relay aspect just always feel tacked on. Still, I knew as the runner I had ALL morning to figure it out. As long as I showed up near the “Run Out” sign before my cyclist got there, all would be well.
My knee was acting up a bit so I got it taped at the expo on Friday. Not pictured? The iced coffee I went and got while I waited for my turn.
Interestingly, for as strict as they claim to be about who can get into transition, there were NO volunteers manning the relay corrals. For all the warnings we got about not leaving bags laying around unattended, that’s mostly what was going on in the relay area. We had two fenced off areas outside transition where swimmers come in and runners go out. Thankfully our cyclist had her bike racked within spitting distance of the relay transition area so I could easily see her coming.
However, other than the slightly weird logistics, our race went well. Our swimmer did better than she expected and we had no missed hand-offs with our timing chip. The run was HOT though. Oh so hot. Thankfully some of the aid stations had ice that I was able to dump down my sports bra and the Chicago Fire Department had a water truck out and were spraying water on the course.
By the time I finished I was just as drenched as if I’d done the swim myself!
I ended up having a lot of fun but was really glad that I wasn’t doing the whole race all by myself in that heat. Whew! Hopefully next year, when I plan to do the Olympic distance on my own, the weather will be better.
Monday 8/22 – Leg strength workout
Tuesday 8/23 – Upper body strength workout
Wednesday 8/24 – 35 minute tempo run
Thursday 8/25 – Leg strength workout
Friday 8/26 – Upper body strength workout
Saturday 8/27 – Rest
Sunday 8/28 – 10K run portion of the Chicago Triathlon
Last Thursday evening I rode a Divvy bike over to Soldier Field to partake in a Nike-sponsored decathlon-type event. Nike hosted this event so we could all get a taste of what their sponsored decathlete, Ashton Eaton, had to do as he competed for Olympic gold that same evening!
I knew very little about the decathlon other than an article I’d read about a week earlier. I wasn’t even sure what the actual 10 events were! And I had no idea what the 10 events Nike chose were going to be. Pretty sure they weren’t going to let us throw a real javelin, though.
Not me! But this is a photo from the event.
Anyway, I was one of a team of five Windy City Blogger Collective members and two boyfriends who gamely agreed to be the male part of our co-ed team. Our team of seven was assigned a “pacer” who would make sure we got from event to event and that our scores were recorded.
I totally forgot to take a picture of my final scores! Actually, I forgot to take pictures of a lot of things. Honestly, I was having too much fun! Well, up until the javelin where my lack of dinner and the almost 9PM hour were making me grumpy.
Each person on the team got to attempt each event at least once and our pacer recorded our best scores. Each team had 10 minutes to complete each event so for some of them we got to try more than once. My personal favorite was the hurdles. Leaping over things while running is probably as close to flying as you can get.
Emily is doing a great recap of each of the events so if you want more detail I suggest you check out her blog! For me, I just want to focus on the highlights and lowlights.
Free shoes! Seriously. As a “media” participant I got free shoes, a free duffel bag, and a free pin. The pins are allegedly even the same ones that Team USA took to the Olympics to trade with other countries.
My fastest 400 meters ever (probably)!
Second best vertical jump on my team
Not knocking over a single hurdle
Feeling really strong until I saw how awesome other people were! In the end, though, this just made me realize that we’re all good at something and, for not having any previous track and field experience, I’m not bad! That’s right. I never ran track and I never ran cross country!
Hitting myself in the head with the javelin. Thankfully it was a plastic toy javelin. Still, it hurt!
Getting tired, hungry, and grumpy by the 8th event. Now I know why real decathletes break their events up into two days!
The event ended with all the participants doing the 1500 meter run and ending on the field in Soldier Field. Then we took a bunch of photos before watching the awards ceremony while eating pizza in the stands. They put the Olympics up on the Jumbotron but I was way too tired to stay and watch.
I promise I’m in this photo. I’m actually in the second row hidden behind a sea of raised arms.
After this event I have so much more respect for decathletes! You have to be super well-rounded and have lower body, upper body, and core strength galore. So, props to Ashton Eaton for winning the gold in Rio this year! You have my utmost respect.
5K PR Training
Monday 8/15 – Leg strength workout
Tuesday 8/16 – 3 mile run & upper body strength workout
Wednesday 8/17 – 6×400 run
Thursday 8/18 – Leg strength workout and Nike Decathlon event
The rule of thumb for racing is, of course, nothing new on race day. Meaning that you should wear clothes you’ve worn before, eat foods you’ve eaten before, and don’t try anything you haven’t practiced.
Well, I had to throw a big piece of my triathlon “training” out of the window on Sunday at the Iron Girl Pleasant Prairie Sprint Triathlon. You see, the water temperature in Lake Andrea was 82 degrees. According to USA Triathlon,
When the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees, but less than 84 degrees Fahrenheit, age group participants may wear a wet suit at their own discretion, provided however that participants who wear a wet suit within this temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards.
So, yeah. I mean, I probably wasn’t going to get an age group award anyway, but the announcement that wetsuits weren’t technically legal freaked me out. See, I’d never done any open water swimming without my wetsuit. And I’d never done swam in a pool longer than 25 yards. And now I was going to swim a half a mile without a wetsuit in a lake?
But, you know what? I did it. I swam that half a mile without a wetsuit. Sure, it took me 16 minutes longer than the world record (that means it took me just over 20 minutes for those of you who aren’t watching the Olympics) but I did it.
And I felt really strong on the bike. The run was tough but I think that was because of the lack of shade.
Overall I finished 22nd out of 113 in my age group. But I think the biggest takeaway is knowing that I CAN swim half a mile without a wetsuit. My mantra for the day was “she thought she could, so she did.”
And I did.
5K PR Training
Monday 8/8 – Leg strength workout
Tuesday 8/9 – Upper body strength workout & 3 mile run
Wednesday 8/10 – 30 minute tempo run (on treadmill)
Thursday 8/11 – Leg strength workout
Friday 8/12 – Upper body strength workout
Saturday 8/13 – Rest
Sunday 8/14 – Iron Girl Pleasant Prairie Sprint Triathlon
In 2007 I decided I wanted to run a 5K. Several of my online friends were doing it and I thought, hey, if they can do it so can I! So I found a group in Urbana, Illinois called the Beginning Women’s Running Group that had a goal of getting you to run a 5K by the end of the summer.
I had a BLAST, met the woman who is now in charge of the Illinois Marathon along with many other awesome women, and I ran my first 5K in September 2007. Since then I’ve run more 5Ks than I can count, 19 half marathons, 4 marathons, 3 sprint triathlons, and many races of a variety of other distances.
My 5K PR is currently 9 minutes and 59 seconds faster than my very first 5K. But other than that first 5K I ran back in 2007 I haven’t ever trained specifically for a 5K.
I haven’t followed a running training plan for quite a while. And I’m certainly not giving up my strength training. Plus I’ve got one more sprint triathlon on the calendar. So, it’s going to be interesting figuring out how to fit it all in.
I plan to include my current week’s training in upcoming Fitness Friday posts so I hope you’ll follow along if you find it interesting!
Training started in earnest on August 1st and this is what I did:
Monday 8/1- Leg strength workout
Tuesday 8/2 – Upper body strength workout and 3 mile run
Wednesday 8/3 – 5×400 run w/1 mile warmup (on the treadmill)
Thursday 8/4 – Rest day
Friday 8/5 – Upper body strength workout and 3.25 mile run
Saturday 8/6 – Half mile swim and 5 mile run
Sunday – Rest
P.S. If you’re looking for a fall 10K or half marathon to run I highly recommend the Hero Half & 10K. As you can see from Valerie’s race entry giveaway post, I even like to dress the part. Head over there to enter to win a race entry yourself and join us. Super hero costume not required but definitely encouraged.
Last Sunday I wanted to get in a long bike ride but I also wanted to see Jason race his car at the Route 66 Raceway in Joliet. “How many miles is it from here to the track?” I asked.
“About 45,” Jason replied.
Hmm, I thought. I was hoping to ride 45 miles with Live Grit anyway. Their route would take me almost exactly half way to Joliet. Was there a way I could keep going after the halfway spot?
After some Googling and asking around, I came up with the following route which I’m going to detail for future reference:
This first part is the typical Live Grit route leaving from the store on Monroe in the West Loop.
Southwest on Ogden
South (left) on Ridgeland
West (right) on 41st
Stay on 41st and cross Harlem Ave. 41st will turn into Historic Route 66/Joliet Road and then into 55th Street
South (left) on East Ave which will turn into Santa Fe Dr
Turn right at 75th when Santa Fe Dr ends
South (left) on Willow Spring Road
Right (west) on 79th
Stay on 79th and end up at the Shell Station in Burr Ridge. Fuel up with Gatorade, water, and salty snacks.
At this point I broke off from the Live Grit group and continued onto Joliet.
Head back north and turn right (east) on 83rd Street
Right (south) on Madison St
Right (west) on Jeans Rd. Take a left when it forks.
Cross Kingery Road/83 and get on the sidewalk on the west side.
Take the first right onto the ramp down to the Centennial Trail.
The Centennial Trail is lovely
When you get to Romeo Road, stay on the trail and take a left. Cross the bridge and then take a left at the bottom. Go under Romeo Road and get on the Gaylord Donnelly Trail. Note: this trail is crushed limestone and not paved!
You will end up in a small park on 2nd Street. At this point you can continue on the Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail or you can switch to surface streets. I would HIGHLY recommend switching to surface streets. I would recommend Hamilton Street to Woods Drive to 171. I didn’t, and, other than a stretch of paved path in downtown Lockport, the trail was HORRIBLE. More mountain bike than road bike territory. I almost took a picture but I was trying too hard to navigate where the heck I was!
Once I finally got out of this weird section where the path went underneath 171 and basically turned into a hiking trail, I got out onto 171. It’s a busy road but you’re only on it for about a 2 miles before you turn left onto Woodruff Road and then take the right right onto Harrison.
Unfortunately, either the super rough trail or something on 171 did in my back tire and I ended up with a flat shortly after turning onto Harrison. This means I was unable to finish my ride since I’m still a beginner at tire changing. Thankfully Jason was able to come get me and my bike during his rest period.
And, I did technically make it to Joliet city limits! I even got to ride past the old Joliet prison.
However, since I didn’t make it the additional six miles to the actual raceway, I want to try this ride again! After I practice changing a flat tire first, though
As I mentioned in a previous post, I signed up for the Esprit de She Sprint Triathlon in nearby Naperville at what was basically the last minute. Well, okay, I signed up 6 days beforehand.
Last year I spent every Monday night in January through May swimming laps in a pool and then most Saturday mornings starting in May swimming in Lake Michigan. I did long bike rides of 45 miles and ran once or twice a week. I was FREAKED OUT about swimming half a mile and had to do deep breathing exercises at the start of the 2015 Esprit de She triathlon.
This year? I hadn’t done a stroke of swimming since last August. I’d been out on my bike exactly once. Granted, I rode almost 60 miles, but still. But, I have been lifting weights 4 days a week and doing one or two days a week of cardio. I’ve run two half marathons since January 2016 and several shorter races.
And on race day this year I was completely calm. I let out a few curse words when I realized I’d forgotten my fuel that I wanted to take on the bike, but I figured I’d survive. I’d packed an emergency peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I had a leftover Clif Shot Blok in my bag and those would just have to do.
While waiting for the swim to start I ended up chatting with a girl I went to high school with. We were on the dance team together our senior year and apparently we still look close enough to how we looked in high school to recognize one another even in triathlon gear! Crazy, right?
The first few strokes of the swim felt a little awkward and it took awhile for my arms and shoulders to warm up. Swimming is way more of an upper body workout than I remembered!
Still, I finished the swim only 31 seconds slower than 2015.
My first transition was soooo slow. I’m definitely out of practice there. Of course, I think it’s partly because I stopped to scarf down some of that PB&J.
Out on the bike I caught up to my high school classmate and we leap-frogged one another for a bit. She definitely helped me push it when I was flagging because of the ridiculous headwind we had to ride into for half of the course. In the end, I completed the bike course almost a minute faster than in 2015. Thank you, squats and deadlifts.
My second transition time was almost identical to 2015 and I think the only reason it’s 9 seconds slower this year is because I actually remembered to put on my race bib number belt. I totally forgot it in 2015!
The run after riding always feels super weird and this year was no exception. Hilariously, I’ve probably done less than 10 “brick” (bike-run) workouts in my life. And this year my run time was one second faster than 2015. So, I’m definitely consistent there!
When I signed up, one of the Live Grit coaches said that it probably wouldn’t be my greatest race but I’d definitely finish. Well, finish I did and only 1:14 slower than in 2015!
So, if I had to tell someone how to do a triathlon with no training I’d say the following:
1. Make sure you’ve done at least one triathlon before so you know what to expect. Preferably the same event so you REALLY know what to expect.
2. Lift a lot of weights. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: lifting weights will keep you in amazing shape. Especially if you’re lifting heavy.
3. Don’t have a goal time for anything. Be pleasantly surprised when you do better than you thought you would.
Two years ago this week we brought Chewie dog into our lives. He was 8 months old at the time and I was dying to take him running. Of course, you’re not supposed to run with dogs until they’re a year old plus it was summer and it was hot. So, I waited until October and then off we went.
People ask how I taught him to run with me and not stop every five feet to sniff or pee or chase birds. Well, he’s not perfect but he definitely knows when we’re on a run that we’re working and not playing. He only pulls on the leash when he see a squirrel (or a bird) and even then it’s only for a second.
He gets super excited when I ask him if he wants to go for a run. He’s always up for any distance and we’ve even done a few 10 milers together. However, he’d never run an official race since most races in the Chicago area don’t allow dogs. Plus, he’s not always the most well-behaved on-leash when there are strangers around so I wasn’t sure about bringing him somewhere full of people. But, I decided to chance it for the inaugural Top Dog Division at the Super Sunny 5K.
He was SO well behaved! He only barked at one person (sorry, Emily!), let strangers pet him and give him treats, and even made friends with the women at the Pet Supplies Plus tent. And, of course, he ran the 5K with no problems.
I, however, did not have the best race of my life. That’s okay, though. I got to run an official race with my furry running buddy! We didn’t win an award, sadly, but now we have goals for next year.
Getting in enough protein for recovery when weight lifting doesn’t have to be difficult with this shop, which has been compensated by CollectiveBias, Inc. on behalf of its advertiser, EAS Sports Nutrition. #easbrand #PowerinProtein #collectivebias
It feels a bit weird to call myself a “power lifter” but, hey, when your trainer at the gym says you’re doing power lifting then I guess the shoe fits.
One of the things I’ve learned since I began power lifting is that my body needs way more protein than it used to. In fact, I once read that you should be eating around one gram of protein for every pound you weigh if you’re trying to build muscle. Well, I AM trying to build muscle so I’m aiming for at least 125 grams of protein per day. How do I get it all in?
Let’s take a look at a typical Thursday.
I get up, shower, do my hair & make-up, get dressed and pack my gym bag. Then I start my breakfast around 7AM. Breakfast consists of half a cup of oatmeal made with half a cup of almond-cashew milk, half a cup of water, three tablespoons of powdered peanut butter, cinnamon, and honey. I also have two egg whites with some salt and pepper. This makes up 24 grams of protein.
While my breakfast is cooking I make my lunch and my protein shake for the day. I recently purchased some EAS® 100% Whey Protein Powder in Vanilla from Walmart. I drink a protein shake after every workout since 20-30 grams of protein post-workout helps optimize recovery. Since it’s part of my regular meals I always forget it’s in the Diet and Nutrition Bars aisle at the grocery store but, hey, that’s where you’ll find it.
Anyway, I don’t do anything crazy with my protein shake. In fact, I don’t even use a typical shaker bottle! Nope. I use an empty (clean) almond butter jar.
To make my super-simple protein shake, add one to two scoops of EAS® 100% Whey Protein Powder to the jar. Add one cup of your choice of milk. Mine, again, is almond-cashew. Then all you have to do is shake. See? You get a little bit of an arm workout in, too!
If you make your drink the night before and put it in the fridge any little clumps or powder stuck to the inside of the jar will dissolve overnight. See? Told you it was simple!
After I make my lunch and eat my breakfast it’s off to work where I enjoy my one cup of coffee with a splash of half & half while I check my email and make my to-do list.
Around 9AM or so I typically have a small snack. Right now it consists of 4-8 reduced fat vanilla wafers. I eat my second snack of a banana, fat free Greek yogurt and cinnamon around 10:30. I head to the gym at 11:30 so I want to get in some protein and carbs beforehand. Total protein for the snack? 20 grams.
For the past three months Thursdays have been deadlift day. I do a series of deadlifts, increasing my weight each time. The key is to figure out your one rep max and then you calculate a percentage of that and do 5, 3 or 1 rep(s) depending on the week. It’s called Big But Boring.
After the first series of deadlifts I do 5×10 Romanian or Straight Leg Deadlifts and 5×15 Russian Twists or Captain’s Chair Leg Raises. All in all, it takes about 45 minutes.
I don’t get that sweaty so I typically just wipe myself down, touch up my make-up, blow dry the roots of my hair, change back into my office clothes and head back to work. My gym is in my office building so it’s super convenient.
Then I eat lunch at my desk! Lunch consists of spinach & arugula with cucumber, tomato, carrots, 4-5 ounces of whatever protein I have leftover from dinner the night before (this past Thursday it was pork tenderloin), balsamic vinegar and, of course, my protein shake. Total protein grams, including the shake? 45 grams!
Because I drink a protein shake almost every single day I look for one that actually lists all the ingredients on the label. Some brands like to list “proprietary blends” instead of calling out the actual ingredients and their amounts. I prefer to avoid those when possible which is why EAS® is a good choice since they list exactly what and how much is in there.
Around 3PM I typically eat an apple with about a tablespoon of peanut butter. This adds 4 more grams of protein to my day.
When I get home around 5:30 PM I unwind with a beer or a glass of wine while I start dinner. The actual meal varies but always includes four to six ounces of meat (chicken, turkey or pork), four to five ounces of veggies, and about six ounces of carbs. I aim to get in another 40-50 grams of protein with dinner.
Then, if I have protein, carbs and fat macronutrients left for the day (yes, I track them all) I’ll have some low-fat ice cream for dessert. Or, if I need more protein, I’ll toss a scoop or two of protein powder and a cup of milk into the blender with a bunch of ice and have a protein milkshake!
All of this seems to be working since I can now do three pull-ups in a row, can deadlift over twice my body weight, can bench press over 100 pounds, and can squat almost 200. And, believe it or not, I do it all without feeling super sore! I chalk that up to my protein intake helping with recovery and muscle building.
I love weight lifting and I have a new-found love of power lifting. Which is why I’m intrigued by the show “Strong” on NBC. It’s not about losing weight, it’s about gaining strength, both mentally and physically. I truly feel that weight lifting can change your outlook on life and make you more confident and it seems that this show is aiming for that as well. So, check out the New NBC Show S.T.R.O.N.G where EAS® products will be featured on the June 2nd episode. (9pm EST 8pm CST)
Want to learn more about how protein can help you get stronger? The #PowerinProtein inspiration page has recipes, videos, and tons of people to follow to learn more. Or leave your favorite way to get protein in your life in the comments below!
We’re moving Fitness Friday up a few days because I’ve got something fun to share!
This past weekend was an event called Wanderlust 108 and one of the sponsors is Cottonelle® The goal of Wanderlust is to provide a chance for you to connect with fitness without being overwhelmed or intimidated. To me, the idea is to take you back to when you were a kid and you just “worked out” for fun. Also known as playing.
So, when I was out running and came across this outdoor workout station I knew I wanted to go back and play around. Climb the rope, goof off on the pull-up bar, make my husband take silly pictures. You know, have fun.
However, I fully admit I have a little secret. Fitness isn’t alway fun for me, even though I might make it seem that way. I was talking to my aunt recently and she wanted to know if I ever think to myself, when I’m standing at the start line (or, heck, in the middle) of a race, “WHY do I do this??” And I said I do. Almost every time. So, yeah, even though I love working out I don’t always love it when I’m doing it!
Another little fitness secret? 99% of the time I’m going commando. I mean, who wants a visible panty line to mar the glutes you’ve worked so hard for? Plus let’s face it, underwear is the last thing you need standing in the way of you and nailing that new one rep max or setting a new personal record.
Of course, since there’s not a lot between my workout pants and the world I want to make sure I’ve got the cleanliness situation under control. So, thank you, Cottonelle® for hooking me up with some products that are perfect for that purpose. Cottonelle® CleanRipple Texture bathroom tissue is designed to clean better per sheet versus the leading national value brand.
Cottonelle® wants to hook you up, too! They’ve got some great giveaways going on on their site, including a VIP Lollapalooza experience or a trip to Wanderlust in Miami!
Or, if you’re more interested in instant gratification, you can enter the giveaway here for a Cottonelle® Stylist Kit.
Each kit includes a selection of fabulous fitness “must haves” — Cottonelle® Flushable Cleansing Cloths, Benefit mascara, Dose of Colors lip gloss, Klorane dry shampoo, Emi Jay hair ties, and a plain black baseball cap.
In another interesting display of what happens when I stop focusing on running and start focusing on strength training, I managed to finally beat my 5K personal record at the Ravenswood Run 5K last Sunday.
Of course, I also hadn’t raced a stand-alone 5K in over two years, so there’s that.
Anyway, I got a last minute free entry to this race from a guy in my running club who had won it in a raffle but was unable to use it. There was another guy in a similar situation so I snagged that one as well and shared it with Emily who as gracious enough to drive us to the race and figure out the parking situation.
Neither of us had ever run this race before but I knew a lot of people running it and a friend of mine who I trained with for the Chicago Triathlon last year lives near the race and invited us over for brunch. Never one to turn down a free race or free food, of course I said yes.
I was admittedly surprised at how large this race was considering it’s a “neighborhood” race. I suppose, though, that it’s a neighborhood in Chicago which has as many residents as some small towns.
By the way, I’m in a video of the start of the race. Just look for the girl in a bright neon green tank top and a black hat.
Oh, there I am. In fact, other than a picture that I took with some friends post-race this is the only photo of me since my usual race photographer (aka my husband) didn’t join us.I met all these people through blogging. Gotta love bloggers!
Anyway, after a warm-up jog with Emily and a few port-a-potty trips it was time to herd like cattle into the start corrals.
Considering I hadn’t raced a 5K other than as part of last year’s two sprint distance triathlons, I had no idea what I could or couldn’t do. I decided to go out hard and just see if I could hang on.
Well, I’ll tell you, while it netted me a PR, it also netted me some of the worst positive splits I’ve ever had. I think my first mile was just over 7 minutes while the other two were more like 7:45. Ouch. I finished in 23:24 which means I knocked a little more than a minute off my two-year-old 5K PR. I fully admit that’s crazy considering I have done zero 5K specific training.
However, my legs STILL feel shredded. Of course, it didn’t help that this week was my heaviest week in my current training cycle. I’m sure combined with that 5K my legs are going to be screaming for mercy for awhile.
The race overall was very well organized, if a little bit more crowded than I enjoy. And apparently I totally missed the cinnamon rolls at the finish line. Dear blogger friends, why didn’t you make sure I got one of those?? Oh well. Free brunch with my Live Grit friends will just have to do.
Now I admit that I’m intrigued about specifically training for a 5K. Do I dare try something like Hal Higdon’s Advanced 5K training program interspersed with my strength training? Or do I just leave well enough alone and keep doing what I’m doing?