My coach is this awesome!

Kelsey Abbott wins Rev3 Venice OlympicI posted about starting with a new coach last week, or so.

I wanted to clarify her awesomeness.  Not only is my coach, Kelsey, awesome – she is this awesome! 

This is Kelsey. Overall female finisher for the 2013 Rev3 Olympic Distance Triathlon. She is amazing and I am completely honored that she’s coaching me this season.

procrastination & BTTW*

Balls to the WallArriving to the pool at 5:45 is feat in itself.  For me, it means everything has to be packed and laid out and ready to go.  Fins, goggles, cap, water, nutrition bar, inhaler, towel – everything needs to be packed and at the back door. The alarm needs to sound at 5:10 – and I need to roll out of bed and not give myself space to think about much at all.  This morning, it was like clockwork, no thinking, and I was at the pool right at 5:40.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of arriving at the pool in the dark, only to realize that your swim bag didn’t make the trip.  It was packed. It was ready. And it was still next to the back door. ugh.  Luckily, I had been meaning to clean out my backpack since sometime in August. So procrastination saved the swim.  I had a pair of old, crappy goggles and cheap yellow race cap.  I was still in business. “Crisis averted” – my husband would say.

Leaky goggles are no fun, but I was able to do the workout. It was a heck of a workout. I was exhausted when I finished.  My legs and ankles were tired from: 8 x 25 kicks on back w/ arms in tight streamline @ :15 rest (odds = easy, evens = FAST).  I am making some progress: 1. my head wasn’t cranked up like an otter, 2. I didn’t drift into any other swimmers AND, 3. I discovered two broken ceiling tiles just before the wall, one at each end of the pool.  So, still no flags, but an effective proxy.

After fatiguing my legs, I got to practice some BTTW intervals: 12 x 50 @ 1:30 [4 x (2 x 50 easy/ 50 BTTW. Before hiring coach Kelsey, I’d never heard of BTTW.  *For anyone else who might not know, it means “balls to the wall”.  I think I may rename it, “IMP” (I might puke). With the short distance, 50 yards, I gave it everything – I felt like an arm flailing beast.   For the easy intervals my swim time was :50 & :40 for my BTTW. I’m not sure that was fast. BUT…one of the flip-turn swimmers asked if I was doing intervals.  I thought this was confirmation that I at least looked like I was trying to swim at varying speeds. Awesome.

After a few easy sets I was ready for another bttw set: 12 x 25 @ :10 rest [3 easy/ 3 bttw/ 2 easy/ 2bttw/ 1 easy/ 1 bttw]. The bttw 25’s were consistently :20, until the last one.  I think this was my true bttw level – all out.  I “beasted” out a :17/:18 (hard to see the swim clock, and I don’t want to overestimate my bttw speed).

I’ve heard from just about every flip-turn (experienced) swimmer I’ve met that runners are known for their lack of kick.  This fact and the fact that running doesn’t translate to biking power either, frustrate me endlessly.  But it is what it is.  I want to be a faster swimmer and I need a stronger kick to get there.  This is how I’ll get there, not more running.

hill. repeat. hill.

Hill elevation profile“What goes up – must come down.
And then go up and come back down, again.”
8 x :30 uphill surge (fast, focus on powering with your butt)/ 3:00 easy

There may be something wrong with me.  I loved everything about this workout.

It was cold. (34 degrees) I needed to layer up in my winter gear.  The first cold run is the hardest.  I always get it too hot or too cold.  I was overdressed – I didn’t need a thermal base layer, yet.  I know that just  2 posts ago I was complaining about having to put on mittens, but I remembered last night that I really enjoy running in the cold.*

It was dark.  I’m not a fan of the short days.  And I’m not quite adjusted. This was not an intentional night run, I forgot. Just poor planning on the timing of the workout.  But off I went with my head lamp and my lovely blinking safety vest. (I’ m threatening my kids with getting one that blinks: “I’m  Will & Hannah’s mom”).

It was hard. In the middle of the second surge uphill I was thinking that 5 repeats might be a little more reasonable to start, but I pushed out all 8.  When I was finished, every bit of my body felt like it had been worked hard.  My arms, core, legs, and butt were fully engaged in the effort.  As was my focus and intention.

The cool down run home, blinking away in the dark, felt glorious.

I think one of the reasons I like cold weather, winter running is that the pollen is finally gone. My asthma and breathing is so much better.  Very cold air can present issues, but I’m good until well below freezing. 

Breaking Good

Breaking GoodRest day = Time to reflect on my first week with my new coach.

Right now, what I’m most aware of is the impact of change on my routine.  My training volume hasn’t really increased, but the amount of time it takes me to complete a training has increased, noticeably.

On the busy days when there was juggling of work and family schedules, it was actually a mental challenge to stay committed to the new plan and not fall back into habit. And it’s not like I have a ton of bad habits that I have to break. I was sort of successful in my first full triathlon season.  I got to stand on the podium after a few local races.  So, I’m actually breaking good habits…? Um, why?

More reflection. Let’s see…
  • What I’ve done in the past has been effective and has earned me what I have.
  • I have new goals.
  • They’re more ambitious than what I achieved last year.
  • If I use my same ways on my new goal, I’m likely to keep getting what I already got. I’d keep myself from achieving my new goals.  (I know I’m shooting for a crazy leap forward, not just improvement.)
  • And my coach is awesome. She’s competed so well at Nationals that she went to Worlds. Updated: she just won Rev3Venice Olympic – she’s crazy awesome!
  • And lucky for me, she doesn’t care so much about my fabulous history. She’s coaching me to get what I want, next. Everything she’s suggesting is focused forward.
  • Interesting stuff.

I’m like working with my new coach and I’m sure the workouts will feel more natural Soon. Right now I feel like I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out what my new exercises are:”dead bug“, “bird dog“, and “vertical swimming“.  (I had no idea.) I’m also working on (finding) muscles that I had no idea were involved in swimming, biking, or running.  It’s awkward. I’m awkward.

Battling the frustration/change tests my resolve.  If I was to put a positive spin on this, I suppose that this internal dialog is confirming my desire to get to nationals and my willingness to adapt.  Darwin would be proud.

End: reflection.

Running Mittens

running mittensWorkout : Endurance Run
Planned Duration: 1:20
Keep your pace exceedingly easy throughout

“Exceedingly easy”is not my favorite.  I find it exceedingly hard to run exceedingly easy. For at least 5 of the 9 miles, I rationalized that this fact negated the entire assignment .
I hate not following my coach’s directions more than I hate running exceedingly easy.  So I toughed it out, but not easily.

The fact that it was also the first mitten run of the 2013-3104 winter training season, probably didn’t improve my running attitude.  I’m not ready for the layers, and they’re coming soon. If I could run harder than “exceedingly easy” I’m sure I’d be able to generate more body warmth.

(OK, that last line may have been a dig for my coach – not that she’s cold right now – in lovely Florida. 🙂 Good luck at Rev3 Venice today, coach!)

“Does your neck hurt when you do that?”

Kicking Back…asked a young high school swim team member as I finished my first 100 yards of backstroke, ever.

“No, not really.” I replied. Then realizing  she was being incredibly polite I asked, “If I keep swimming like this, will it?” 

“definitely.”

I think I modeled my head position after this otter.  It seems reasonable.  These little guys can swim like crazy and they look cute.  But according to the Milford High School swim team, when humans swim backstroke and crank their heads and necks up this high, it leads to bad things.  The team graciously demonstrated a better head position.

As I attempted to swim like the demonstration, I got completely clear on why I had cranked my head up the first time.  I have no idea where I’m going  and I don’t swim straight going backward.  There are no lane lines in the pool.  Nothing prevented me from swimming right into other swimmers and lanes.  Luckily, it’s a very friendly pool and a few apologies kept me in good graces with my fellow swimmers.

My second backstroke lesson of the day was about how to swim backstroke safely and in a straighter line.  I use the ceiling tiles as my visual guide line.  I use my peripheral vision to look for the ladders which signal that the wall is coming soon.  I always keep one arm up to protect my head from tagging the wall first.

Huzzah! 100 yards of backstroke that felt pretty good.   I understand why my coach has added this stroke to my training.  The workout felt great on my legs and a is nice change from all the freestyle.  The view is going to some getting used to.

“When the student is ready, a teacher will appear.”