elisariva

Seizing life's joys and challenges physically, mentally, and emotionally.


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Putting It Into Practice

Training with a sinus cold is not ideal, but after that vicious stomach virus I had earlier this year, it didn’t seem so bad. Once again, perspective is relative. My workouts since Wednesday have been interesting. Now that I know my T pace in the pool (threshold pace) I am able to set time goals depending on the workout. Wednesday was an easier pace workout to focus on form. My friend and I paced each other well and I am very happy that my “easy” pace now is what my hard pace was this summer. Thursday and Friday I swam workouts that were right at my T pace (muscle endurance) as well as some faster sets that work on my anaerobic endurance. Friday morning I swam with a group of my friends – after the main set we all swam an all out fast 100 meters. Considering my cold and all of the training I had done through the week and that morning, I was pleased with my time of 1:51. It wasn’t my very fastest – but I will see what I can do next week.

On the bike my focus is power. After my time trial on Sunday I look more at my power out put than pace sometimes. Wednesday evening I road my bike on the trainer at home and Friday morning I went to spin class before I swam. Both times I did not let myself get by with easy spinning. Today, for the first time this year, I rode my bicycle outside. What an exhilarating experience! The sun was shining is a cloudless blue sky and the temperature was right at 50 degrees. I rode the hills in my neighborhood and tackled them with a different perspective than I ever did before. Focusing on my power output I kept pushing to keep the wattage up. Climbing hills I saw how high I could push but I also didn’t ease up on the flats. In the past I would check my speed and if I was at 18 miles per hour or more I was satisfied. Today if I saw my power wattage was under 100 even though I was riding over 18 mph, I would pick up my cadence to increase my watts. For my first outside ride of the year I covered 20 miles and averaged 16.7 mph. Last year my first ride outside on the same hills was only at 15.5 mph. I have a lot of strength and speed to pick up this year, but I also have a baseline to work from now.

Thursday morning I ran a progressive run that started with a mile easy warm up and would progressively get faster until I ran an 800 meter (half mile) staying in my zone 4. My assessment on Tuesday revealed I should be running at higher heart rate levels which translates to faster paces. I started the warmup at a twelve minute pace and keep increasing – by the end of the workout I had run 4.25 miles and my average pace was 9:46 per mile. I was pushing my pace and length of time at the pace to levels I have not run before. And I did it.

I shared my run results with my running coach. I told her that my body is telling me I am improving. My mind is actually starting to believe it. She reinforced that the process to improve is not going to feel easy, but it is not going to destroy me. This is true in so many aspects of life. In my training I will have those swims that will leave me gasping for air, I will climb hills on my bike that feel like Mt. Everest, and I will run workouts that both leave me gasping and feeling like I ran up Mt. Everest. I know the things I need to do to improve. Knowing is one thing. Doing it is another. In training, in being a friend, in being a good steward – it takes putting it into practice to see the impact. Even when it is not easy.


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Time

Time. It is measured many different ways even though there is only one true measurement of the passage of time. Since I last posted I have not had much free time, I have been rushing around to be on time, and in my training I have done two more time trials. Oh, and now I have developed a sinus cold, for which I really do not have time. Alas, more lessons in what I have control over – managing my training and time, and what I do not have control over – the passage of time and everything else.

I have been keeping up with my training well – Saturday we had a break in the spring snow and I was able to run my long run outside. It really felt good to run in the fresh air and sunshine. Sunday I met with my triathlon coach for a time trial on my bike set up on his CompuTrainer. I learned a lot in 30 minutes time. The trial was to ride as hard as I could for thirty minutes on a flat course. I went just over 9.1 miles (18.2 miles per hour). Even though I gave it all I had, my average power, or watts, was only 150 and my heart rate never went over 140 – even though I felt like I was hauling bricks up a hill on a tricycle. My coach wants to see me get my power over 200 watts and in order to do this I have to work on my leg strength – consistent weight training and pushing it on the bike. As soon as the weather improves, he wants we riding up every hill I can find. I have 13 weeks until my half iron triathlon – enough time to build the strength I need.

This morning I met with a trainer at my gym to update my metabolic assessment. This test I do running on a treadmill wearing a mask that measures VO2 (volume of oxygen used by my cells) along with fat and carbohydrate burn rate in my various heart rate zones. Lifetime Fitness, my gym, recently revised how this is measured. Previously the test started without a warm up and went for 12 minutes running the same pace and increasing the incline on the treadmill. Today I did a 10 minute warmup and then went into the test which stayed at a 1% incline but increased in pace every two minutes by four tenths of a mile. This goes on for up to 20 minutes. The results were much different than before and also showed I have improved considerably. The warm up basically burns the energy I have easily stored from eating. When I get into the test, the true ability for my body to burn fat is easier to measure. All of my zones have shifted up – a lot. My zone two, where I should be doing my easy runs has gone from a range of 118-139 all the way up to 158-162. That was the upper range of my zone 3 in the old testing. When I shared this with my running coach, her first reply was that I was merely jogging the half marathon race! My zone 3 is now 163-167 and zone 4 (where I go anaerobic) is 168-177. The assessment today taught me it is time to pick up my pace. The proof is in the numbers – I am able to run much faster than I have in the past.

Yesterday was my rest day which gave me time to spend with my father and sister. My father is Jewish, my sister and I were raised Christian since our mother was Catholic, and we celebrate all of the holidays. Last night we celebrated the first night of Passover together.  It was wonderful time spent together. At 92, my father has far more time behind him than ahead, so the time shared is special.

Time lately has been filled with many activities – but none wasted. My little sinus cold is reminding me to take time to rest, which I plan to go to bed early tonight. I have taken time to assess my progress in all three sports within the past week and I have learned how to make improvements in each one. I have spent time with loved ones and friends that enrich my life. All ways to pass time while I seize the day.


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Time Trial – Swim

Races and time trials are some of the best ways to monitor progress. My friend asked me if I wanted to swim a time trial with her that her coach gave her to gauge her pace for swim in a half iron distance triathlon. With my race three months away, I agreed – it is a good way to get an idea of my pace. This morning we got in a crowded pool and did a long warm up before we went into the time trial. The time trial was made up of 3 x 300 meters with the goal of going fast, but sustaining a pace that we could hold for all three sets. We only had 30 seconds rest and we were to keep the pace for each 300 meters within 15 seconds of each other. We swim a very similar pace and were sharing a lane, so we decided to send off about 15 seconds apart. She went first and I followed. I swam hard and kept an idea of where my friend was when we passed to make sure we were fairly consistent. It definitely pushed us to swim hard. My results – 5:54, 5:56. and 5:58. I kept it within four seconds – and under 2:00 per 100 meters every set. My friend did even better with her slowest at 5:51. I was very happy with how we both did. My average pace per 100 meters based on the trial is 1:58. For now – I want to do this again next month to see if I improve. In all we swam 3,000 meters – a very challenging and fulfilling workout.

My run this afternoon was an easy zone 2 run for 55 minutes. After the hard swim this morning, I was glad to have an easy run. It felt good to shake my legs out and listen to some music on the treadmill while I let my mind go. I also got my resistance workout in. I am a little sore from Tuesday, it has been quite a while since I lifted, and after today I think I will feel it even more tomorrow.

Today’s time trial was the first I have done like this in swimming, but it certainly shows I have progressed. That alone is motivation to push harder – in all three sports. This afternoon I was discussing my mantra Believe with a friend and she helped me see the word in a new way. Yes, I use it to believe I am able, I am capable to push harder. But I also need to believe I already have abilities – some I may not be using. My coach and I came to that conclusion after reviewing my race split times compared to my heart rate. I have to let go of the fears and doubts and just do it.


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Spring

The first day of spring is one thing and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.

– Henry van Dyke

A friend of mine posted this quote today on Facebook when I shared the weather forecast here in Cleveland. These words are very true. Especially today, the first day of spring. When the first spring day will occur appears to be a bit in the future. See for yourself – here is a picture I took TODAY of my backyard.

March 20, 2013 The First Day of Spring in Ohio

March 20, 2013 The First Day of Spring in Ohio

The only signs of spring are that I took the picture around 7:00 PM – it was still daylight out and, what you may not be able to see, in the bottom right corner are the tips of tulips popping up in the ground.

I am certainly hoping it will not be an entire month before the first spring day. For one, I really want to get outside and ride my bike. This evening I road on my trainer in front of the television. I have gotten my trainer to work well, but it really is not the same as outside. Especially when the view pictured above was to my right to see. The workout was good, I felt the challenge even though I am not pushing my hardest this week as I am still in recovery from the race. Hopefully within a week or so I will be able to write about a wonderful ride outside on a beautiful spring day.

This morning I swam an endurance swim with a main set made up of a few sets of 300 meters pulling followed by 3 x 100 meters swimming. I was able to swim the main set with my friends and that made a big difference. I definitely push harder when I am swimming with them. My best 100 was one of my last and I touched in at 1:52. I am not setting a “goal” for my desired pace. I am learning from running that setting pace goals has been limiting me. As in running, I am just going to let it go and see how I progress. As for swimming outside, I am realistic – regardless of the weather I will not see that day until after memorial day when the outdoor pool opens at my gym. Although I do live on a lake… However I do not see it warming up soon. Here is a picture of my front yard, yes, taken today.

Dark gray lake surrounded by snow.

Dark gray lake across the street surrounded by snow.

Sometimes my expectations are exceeded – my improved swimming pace. Sometimes expectations are limiting – setting too low of a running pace goal. Sometimes expectations are so let down I wonder if the warm weather will ever arrive. Seizing the day and enjoying the present should not be confused with myopia. I may not enjoy this weather when it should be sunny and twenty degrees warmer, however I am enjoying the good in today and keeping my eyes open to the coming spring day that will arrive… eventually.


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Mixed Emotions

Patience, moderation, frustration, exhilaration, laughter, and sadness. Common feelings and I experienced them all today. My swim this morning went well – I did 16 repeats of 100 meters in my main set – with the goal of descending times with in sets. It was challenging and I felt good. The last 12 repeats I did while my friend was swimming sets of 100 in varied strokes. He is much faster so it pushed me to give it my all. I feel exhilarated in the water – I enjoy the challenge and to see my times improve and consistently come in under two minutes on my 100 meters is thrilling. My first 100 was supposed to be my slowest. I was actually a little disappointed when I saw I did it in 1:59 – the next two had to be 5 seconds faster – I had set the bar high.

My run this afternoon encompassed the most mix of emotions. It was my first run since the race and a good friend ended up joining me for a good part of it on the treadmill. My coach and I discussed how I should handle my speed work on Tuesdays – basically just let it rip – go hard and fast. Unfortunately that doesn’t start until next week. This week is focused on recovering from the race. Running next to my friend who was running speed sets brought out the desire to pick up my pace, but I had to stay in my zone two heart rate. I need more patience and moderation – it was frustrating – but I did it. After my run I chatted a bit with another close friend and  headed to the weight area to start my first week of lifting in a periodization plan. I am using my body weight as resistance as much as possible so it included chin ups, pull ups (there is a difference), dips, push ups, sit ups and other ups – the glute ham machine was an experience, but I did it.

As for laughter – much of it today came thanks to a fellow blogger. Jim at Fit Recovery every once in a while writes a post that comes out of left (or right?) field. With the correct focus I read through the words and enjoyed every minute of it. And the sadness – a very long time and dear friend is dealing with her mother’s chronic illness. I have been there are my heart goes out to her. There is no easy way to deal with the process, but it is a necessary part of life we have to go through as painful as it is.

As I write I am sitting in bed surrounded by my four animals, one at each corner actually. Kosey is missed – and will always have a place in my heart. So there is a little more sadness too, but I am blessed. I have wonderful friends and family – they challenge me in my workouts, encourage me when I am blue, allow me to do the same when they need encouragement, and bring out laughter and smiles. My workouts sometimes frustrate me, but I am middled aged (I can not believe I am admitting it, but it is true despite how I feel) and I am healthy and strong. My fitness today is far greater than when I was in my twenties. And I still have those four wet noses to great me at home. Despite the mixed emotions, yes today was still a good day.


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Back At It

Yesterday we drove home. The journey was just over six hours and flew by. I was pleased to find I was not feeling very stiff – after such a hilly run, my legs were feeling the strain, but handed the drive well. Not wanting to push it, I rested yesterday. I would have liked to have run a few easy miles to shake out my legs in the morning, but my right ankle was a little strained. Having dealt with a sprained ankle just a year ago, I did not want to risk it.

Since Sunday was my rest day, I decided to go to spin class this morning. The workout was a challenging endurance workout. Considering I am recovering from the race, I would say I was at about 75% of the effort level I would have done if I had fresh legs. I was sure feeling it though, my heart rate was up and my legs were cruising. Last week one of my friends, who is a very strong cyclist, suggested focusing on moving my legs more like pistons on a locomotive. More of a forward/backward motion than up and down. She gave me some of the best advice I have ever gotten on improving my turnover. At all resistance levels I was able to sustain a quicker rotation than I have in the past. It is amazing how one little tweak can make such a difference.  After spin I headed to the pool for a swim. In all I did 1,500 meters. It felt so good to be back in the water. My pace is back to where I was before I got sick. My ankle felt fine pushing off the wall when I flipped. For my first day back after the race, my workouts were strong.

A common topic over the weekend with my coach (and friend) was diet. More protein or carbs? Fat or low fat? Grains or vegetables? It got me thinking and researching a bit. I am still experimenting, but one thing I have come to believe is that fat is not bad. What kind of fat is the issue. Nuts, avocados, olives, olive oils – healthy good fats. If it comes from an animal – limit it. I am still researching and reading, so I will share as I go. I am looking into Paleo and I have always had a interest in vegetarian or a modification of – I have a feeling I will come up with some form of Paleo – pescatarian (fish) – with dairy and beans. (I am sure die hard Paleo eaters are cringing at the thought…)

Now that I am feeling better and getting into my training routine again, I am looking forward to seeing how (or if) diet will make a difference. There is always room to grow and learn. Part of learning is trail and error, so I am sure I will come across a few bumps. But I will never know until I tri.


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Rock and Roll Half Marathon USA

Today was a great day to run a half marathon. The rain stayed away and the wind was nonexistent. The course, however, was much hillier than I expected. A total of 30,000 runners participated in both the half and full marathon. Of that, just shy of 20,000 made up the half marathon race. It took me 34 minutes just to get to the start since it was a timed start by corrals. My first six miles were exactly as I planned. While I was always surrounded by runners, I had room to run. Just before the seven mile mark a hill that honestly must have been at least a quarter mile long or more came in to view. It was a game changer, recovering from it was tough and it also was the beginning of a five mile stretch of rolling hills. The down hills were fun, I let it go. The up hills – well not so much. I crossed the finish line at 2:25:11 – ten minutes past my goal time. (Not to mention at 13.37 miles according to my GPS…)

I did not set a personal best – but I had fun, ran well, and had my fourth best half marathon time out of 13. My friend ran well, she set a personal best and placed fifth woman overall. I am so proud of her and her accomplishments. It was a tough course and a large, competitive field. We went over my mile split times with average heart rates and she is going to adjust my training program for the half marathon I will be running in May.

This afternoon we walked the National Mall and got close up to the four landmarks I photographed yesterday. The closer I got to the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the White House, and climbing the stairs to enter the Lincoln Memorial I was taken by how big these structures are and how small I am. I was one of 30,000 runners today. Big numbers and I made up .003% of the crowd – a small amount. Despite my size, my experiences today were huge. I accomplished a difficult task running a hard course. The history behind this city is amazing and a thrill to take in. I may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but what I was able to take from today was huge.


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Go With the Flow

This morning I went for a light shake out jog on an absolutely beautiful morning. It was a little cool, around 40 degrees, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Our hotel is close to the National Mall so I took advantage of running down to the Washington Monument. It is centrally located so I was able to take a few pictures of four well known landmarks. First The Washington Monument:

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A quick jog a little east from there I took a picture of the Capitol. The sun was bright and caused a shadow, but it turned out kind of cool:

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Another jog west around the Washington Monument and I was able to zoom in on the Lincoln Memorial:

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I turned north to jog back to the hotel and there it was, the White House:

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By noon we were on the Metro subway headed to the expo. For a sold out race, it did not take long at all to get my number and goodie bag. I really liked the set up, the first place you go is through packet pickup before entering the vendor area. Once I get my packet I am more relaxed to browse the vendor booths. Many expos put packet pickup in the far back corner with the hopes of runners buying items from the vendors first. I can not speak for other runners, but that is my least favorite set up.

Now I am all set. My clothes are organized, my breakfast ready, and I am about to get to bed for an early wake up. The weather looks iffy. There is rain in the forecast, when it arrives is the question. The temperature looks cool – low 40’s. I am not a fan of running in the rain for sure. However after the marathon I ran in December (torrential down pour for 16 miles) I know I can do it. As always, what I can control (little) I have in order. What I can not control (almost everything) I will just go with the flow. And hope that the rain doesn’t flow until I cross the finish line.


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Grateful Groove

Traveling to a destination race sometimes is stressful – packing properly, getting to the airport on time, security, flying – none of which I had to deal with today. I drove from Cleveland to Washington DC with my friend (and running coach) and didn’t have to be concerned about time restraints or packing limitations. We even brought our favorite foods and three gallons of reverse osmosis water – how’s that for traveling with liquids? Thanks to modern technology, I plugged the hotel address into the GPS and followed the directions without having to open a map. The sun was shining the entire day – I couldn’t ask for better travel conditions or companions.

My training this week has gone very well. I have been tapering so my intensity has been greatly reduced, but my workouts have been quality. Yesterday I swam with my friends – my pace is back to where it was before I got sick, in fact it may be a second or so faster. This morning I ran easy for thirty minutes with a few sprints at the end. I feel good – my diet is returning to normal and my energy level is high. My back is still tight, but it is loosening. Tuesday I went for a massage and I swear the massotherapist was a Lithuanian massage god. At least that is how I felt after he worked on key spots to help release some of the tension in my back. It will take time, stretching, and more massage to work it out. After driving for over six hours today I was surprised that I didn’t feel very tight when I arrived. Even a tense area is showing signs of improvement.

I wrote a few weeks ago that I will take time to cherish my ability to exercise after having to take six days off when I had the norovirus stomach bug. Once I returned, I did take time to appreciate the gift of health and exercise. What I didn’t expect within two weeks was having several other life issues crop up to throw a wrench in my seemingly happy improvement pattern. And as the saying goes “this too shall pass”, it did. I still have much to juggle, but right now I am in a groove. I feel healthy and strong for the race on Saturday and overall I am in a good place. This may pass too, but for right now I am grateful to have each moment. Something also to cherish.


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Benefit of a Break

After taking a few days off from writing I am refreshed and ready to share what I have been up to. The weekend was wonderful – I celebrated my birthday with the best of friends as well as time with my father. The sun was shining bright without a cloud in the sky Saturday morning while I ran my last long run before my race this weekend. I had a good run of 8 miles. Despite the ups and downs I have experienced the past four weeks, I feel strong and ready for this half marathon.

Sunday would have been perfect to ride my bike outside – in the afternoon. I had to get my workout in that morning, so I opted for a spin bike while it was cloudy and cool in the morning. I also got a swim in before going to visit my father. Knowing he is back at home and recovering from his ordeal was a wonderful birthday gift. Monday was my rest day but also an opportunity to have dinner with my running coach, talk about our plans for the race in Washington DC this weekend, and  -yes I will admit it – we watched the final episode of The Bachelor. Sometimes mindless reality TV is the cure for life’s stresses. It takes my mind off of my own dramas for a while.

This morning I swam. This is a taper week for me so I did not swim long, just 1,400 meters. I did have a quality main set of 5 x 150 meter repeats. Three of us were doing the workout and I was the slowest swimmer. I didn’t mind, it challenged me to push it. I was able to do each 150 meter repeat touching in under three minutes. I may have been the slowest of the group, but I was swimming some of my faster times so it was encouraging. This evening I ran my last tempo run before the race. The workout was a 4 mile main set at my race goal pace. I did it – actually averaging a little faster than my goal. One more confidence building run to get me in the right frame of mind to run the half marathon this weekend.

I learned earlier this year from my triathlon coach the importance of a rest day when I am training intensively. At first I was reluctant, but I have come to enjoy the day. It has not hurt my performance, which I had feared, but rather I have seen an improvement in my performance. Likewise, this little break was the longest I have gone in writing this blog since I started it over a year ago. There were many nights I stayed up late to get my post in for the day. As a result I did not always get the sleep I required. Inadequate rest sometimes does not help with training. This year I have remained committed to writing and sharing my experiences. I also am learning the importance of rest in writing. I may not always have something to share, or the time to type it, but I want what I do share to matter. I hope to continue to influencing other to try (tri?) fitness challenges they would never have dreamt of doing. The process is fulfilling – regardless of speed. Just like my swim this morning, my pace is relative to my own personal progress. Which I hope to always have a net positive slope.