May 24, 2011

Vineman Week Five


After a drop down week last week I was looking forward to ramping things back up. I didn't ended up with a perfect week, but I'm happy with how things went. I got in two rides, including my longest and fastest ride to date, two runs, and 3 swims, including a new endurance-focused workout. I also did my first brick (ride-run) with a strong ride followed by a super speedy run. I also developed my first (kind of strange) triathlon "injury": a semi-paralyzed pinky finger. More on that later.

bike: 21 mi, avg 17.3 mph.
I took advantage of my first day off for the week with my first brick of the season. Pretty much from here out I'll be including a weekly brick workout consisting of a ride of 1-1.5 hours followed by a run of 30-40 minutes. I've been doing some reading and research and it seems that doing these shorter bricks consistently are more beneficial than doing long, near-race distance bricks because the latter are too taxing on the body. Basically you just want your body to become conditioned to running after riding, and apparently it doesn't take much to do that! So I kicked things off this week with a medium-long ride down to Discovery Park and back. It was kind of ugly out and the forecast said to expect rain, so I headed out the door and crossed my fingers that it would hold out a bit longer.

I planned to incorporate some harder intervals suggested by my boss/coach of 2x10 minutes in a harder gear. I have to mention that since I started riding, I've been very hesistant about shifting, partly because I don't really know what I'm doing, and also because I like the gear I'm in : ) Plus the bike trail is pretty darn flat so constant shifting isn't really necessary. I sucked it up though and decided to experiment, so about 20 minutes into the ride I shifted my rear gear into a harder gear and expected to really struggle. Then a funny thing happened - I started going faster. My RPMs definitely dropped, but I was getting more effort out of each pedal stroke. It wasn't so hard that I couldn't keep it up, and I actually ended up staying in that gear for the majority of the rest of the ride. So much for intervals I guess! When I shifted back to my usual gears it was such a weird sensation; I felt like I was just spinning the wheels and going so slow! I only messed with the rear gears on this ride ( I keep the front gear in the middle ring), but I think I may have to start playing around with different combinations. It started to sprinkle on me in the last few miles, but the downpour waited until I started my run : )
ominous dark skies mid-ride...

run: 3 mi, 8:02 avg pace.
I wanted to start my run as soon as possible after finishing my ride so I dropped my bike off, changed my shoes, grabbed a visor, used the restroom, then was off! Transition was probably no more than 5 minutes. As I remembered, my legs felt heavy and awkward, but strangely good, too. My muscles felt loose and my legs fell into a rhythm pretty quickly. I didn't feel like I was running faster than usual, but when I checked my watch a mile in I was going more than a minute faster than my usual pace! I didn't know if I could maintain it, but I decided to just keep running on feel without constantly checking my Garmin. At 1.5 miles I stopped for a minute to catch my breath and cross the street, and could feel a little fatigue from the faster pace. After the breather I headed back home, and ended up clocking my fastest split on the last mile! Final splits: 8:13, 8:01, 7:51. It was a totally weird run, but exhilarating at the same time. I think the ride really warmed up my muscles which allowed me to run faster, even though initially they feel heavy. And, as usual, running in the rain was incredibley refreshing : ) Things are definitely off to a good start, and hopefully all my bricks go this well!

run: 4 mi, 9:17 avg pace.
Didn't have work til the afternoon so I took advantage of my free morning and headed out for an easy run. Only put in four miles, but felt pretty good, if a little tired. It's still feeling harder than usual to run these paces, but I'm glad I can at least still do them. I really need to get more consistent with my running so I can gain some of my endurance back, but I'm finding it so hard to fit it in along with cycling and swimming. And honestly, I just haven't been looking forward to or enjoying running lately. I keep justifying it by telling myself I'm already a runner with a base and I need more practice with the other two sports, but I need to get back in running shape, too. Hopefully I can get back into the running swing of things soon. 

I had planned on swimming after work as well, but I ended up getting out more thana half hour late thanks to a last minute customer, and figured by the time I finished swimming it would be 9pm, so I ditched those plans settled with just the run for the day.

swim: 1,200 yds, 35 min.
  • warm-up: 200
  • 100 w/ kickboard
  • 1x400 easy
  • 1x400 w/ pull buoy
  • cool-down: 100
I ended up not going into work after waking up with a headache and sore throat, but by late afternoon I was feeling abit better so I headed to the pool for a swim. It was nice to go a bit earlier in the day when there was still plenty of sunlight! It was a warm, sunny day so the water actually felt great. I decided to try a different swim workout that my boss/coach put together for me that was focused more on longer sets and endurance. The 400 yard set was a little difficult. I swam as continuously as possible, and took 5-10s breaks a few times. I took it slow and easy though and managed to get it done. I'm using the pull buoy in pretty much every workout now, mainly for easy recovery sets in between harder or longer intervals, but also to focus more on my stroke form. I'm more relaxed when I use it and I get a good arm workout, too. I enjoyed this workout, too, and will certainly be incorporating it into my weekly swims, hopefully adding on more yardage as my endurance improves.

While I was swimming, I noticed that my left hand wasn't cupping water very well and my finger felt strange. I paused at the end of a lap to take a look, and oddly enough my pinky finger was drifting off to the side, away from my other fingers, and I couldn't make it move back! I didn't really know what to make of it; it didn't hurt and it wan't numb, I just couldn't make it move. I had a hunch that it might be bike related, and just hoped it would go away. In the meantime I felt like some kind of Star Trek fan making a weird hand sign!

swim: 1,200 yds, 35 min.
  • warm-up: 300
  • 4x50 (on the 1:05)
  • 200 easy w/ pull buoy
  • 4x50 (on the 1:05)
  • 200 easy w/ pull buoy
  • cool-down: 100
Another post-work evening swim. I'm almost starting to look forward to and enjoy these swims. I usually get there toward the end of the kids' swim team practice and I always feel much better about my swim skills when I watch the kids floundering across the pool : ) I did my 50 yard interval workout again to get things done quickly. My pinky finger was still doing it's own thing and not listening to me, but didn't impeed my swim too much. Ended up being a good but uneventful swim.

bike: 40 mi, avg 17.6 mph.
I had 40 miles on deck for my long ride this week, 5 more than last week. I decided to do two 10 miles out-an-backs in each direction from my house, hoping that it would break up the distance for me a bit. After my gear epiphany Monday I started out the ride in a slightly harder gear than usual, and as a result was holding a much faster speed than usual. My first 10 miles were at an 18.5 mph average with 4 miles over 19 mph! I know for more experienced riders this is nothing, but for me this is fast. Not surprisingly though, the harder effort tired me out sooner, and my speed dropped a ways over the rest of the ride. By 20 miles I was back where I started and my average speed had dropped to 18 mph, and by the time I finished I had an average of 17.6 mph, which is still my fastest average speed ever, and on my longest ride, too! Looking back at my splits, 6 miles were at 18+ mph, and only 8 miles out of 40 were sub-17 mph (all were 16 something). It's encouraging to know that I can go faster, and now I just need to build my endurance to maintain these speeds for longer.

During the last half of the ride I got a strange craving for lemonade, so as soon as I finished I hopped in the car and headed to Starbuck's (yes, they have lemonade and it's quite good, too). It totally hit the spot. My legs felt a little tired post-ride, but not too bad for a long ride. I was a little bummed to find that my weird pinky finger thing was actually worse after the ride, leading me to think once again that it is bike related, perhaps a pinched nerve from a poor bike fit. Made a mental note to look into it if it didn't get better.

I specifically scheduled Saturday as a rest day because I had to work all day and then I had a party to attend that evening. My great aunt Annie (aka my grandmother's sister) was turning 97 years old which meant a big celebration with family and friends : ) That side of my family must have some awesome genes; my grandmother passed away last year at 94 years old, and their brother will be 92 this year. They all grew up in Italy and immigrated here when they were in their 20s, so I think that made them extra tough : ) My grandmother was quite the firecracker! Anyway, it was a wonderful evening with delicious Italian food, lots of wine, and good company. I have no doubt we'll eventually be celebrating 100 years!
me & Annie
sisters (my grandmother and great aunt)

swim: 1,200 yds, 35 min.
  • warm-up: 300
  • 4x50 (on the 1:05)
  • 200 easy w/ pull buoy
  • 4x50 (on the 1:05)
  • 200 easy w/ pull buoy
  • cool-down: 100
I had plans to either bike or swim after work, and decided that more time in the pool would be better for me than a short bike ride. I had plans in the evening, so I wanted to just get my workout in quickly so I opted for my workout with the 50 yard intervals since it seem sto go by faster. For some reason though, I was just not feeling it from the start. I was tired and the workout just felt harder than usual. I was glad I did it, but also happy to be done.

swim - 3,600 yards
bike - 61 miles
run - 7 miles


  1. Nice work! I love running after biking, and I get the same feeling of initial heaviness followed by fast times. Hope your pinky thing clears up!

  2. Awesome week!
    Way to go.

    Loving the photos. so great!

  3. Great week! I'm still totally confused about the gears on my bike, but I'm glad you were able to figure out a way to go faster. I guess I just need to get out there and shift a lot until something works!