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March 11, 2013
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April 11, 2013
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Change in race plans

Four years ago, only months after I started running, I went with a friend to support her while she raced the Cherry Blossom (CUCB) 10 miler. I was instantly hooked and immediately committed to run my first race (a 5K) a few months later. In 2011, I ran the CUCB 10 miler, barely finishing in the allotted time, but finishing nevertheless. In 2012, I ran the CUCB 10 miler again, and knocked 9 minutes off my previous year’s time. Needless to say, I was gunning for another PR for 2013…until my race plans changed.

I spent last fall training for my first marathon, or I should say overtraining. I hurt my hip, but kept going because I wanted to finish the marathon no matter what. I didn’t finish the entire marathon (previous story that was already told), but was upbeat about it. I gave it my best and had a great time. Once I got back, I turned my attention to my spring races and my first triathlon.

To start training for the triathlon, I signed up for some group swim lessons, but decided that I also wanted to work with a tri coach.Getting a tri coach was a very good decision! I need the one-on-one attention and feedback, as well as someone to push me. I respond very well to direction, which you don’t get (or get enough of) in a group setting.

I met Ben Bartlett at the Celebrating Heroes triathlon expo last summer. I worked with him to purchase my bike last summer and found out that he’s a tri coach. His approach and temperament works well with a former athlete like me. He balances pushing me to do more with reigning me in so I don’t get hurt. Plus he’s able to retool my workouts when my work schedule gets crazy. Under his guidance, my bike is getting stronger, my swim is improving, and my run is being rebuilt. I’m in beast mode, but it’s in a controlled setting. 🙂

Coach Ben has me training using a heart rate (HR) monitor, which works well for me while biking (I have a lot of power in my legs so I can do a lot and keep my HR down), and "against" me when I run. He wants my run HR to stay into Zone 3, which is 130-145 bpm. The problem is I can walk at a faster pace in Zone 2 with a lower HR than I can run in Zone 3. Coach Ben says it’s from all of the speed walking I did while training for the Disney marathon. He said in time my running will improve. I trust him, but my head keeps getting in the way.

Physically, running in Zone 3 slows down my cadence, which tends to overload my knees, calves, and Achilles, and makes me overstride. This may not be true for other people, but apparently I’m not wired that way. But the biggest hit is on me mentally (which is why I said it works against me) because my pace is so slow. When I run without looking at my Garmin, my HR tends to settle at 153 bpm, which is the low end of Zone 4. It gets me to a comfortable pace, a nice easy stride, and I can hold my form; but I exceed Zone 3. After talking to Coach Ben, he agreed to throw out traditional HR training for my running (for now) and allow me to run at 153 since it’s a comfortable pace and cadence. YAY! I have a feeling that this an usual circumstance and I shouldn’t get used to getting my way all of the time. LOL

So where does the change of plans come in? Prior to working with Coach Ben, I registered for the CUCB 10 miler and Iron Girl half marathon. Last week, I expressed concern about being able to do the 10 miler at the required pace or below it since they pull slow racers off the course. I haven’t road tested 10 miles since January and haven’t run at this pace since last October. Plus my average pace per mile for my recent runs was over the 14:00 m/m requirement. Coach Ben was confident that I could do the distance, and then he said something very profound.

In a nutshell he said I had to decide between doing the races and where I want to be in two years. He said that I should let go of the ego part and look at my long term goals. He’s right….my ego wanted another PR. Thankfully, my ego knows its place. Last Wednesday, I decided to race the 5K (CUCB has an option where I could switch), and then last night I decided to skip the race and do a local training run instead. I’m still tired from the recent holiday and slept 20 hours between Friday night and Sunday morning. I still have the half marathon at the end of the month, which Coach Ben says I’ll be able to successfully run.

This was a really hard decision. I spent a lot time and money getting into the CUCB 10 miler and it’s my favorite race, but in the long run (sorry for the pun) it is the best decision. I know it would hurt when I finished the 10 miles (it always does), and then my tri training would suffer over the next 3-4 weeks.

So next year if I get into CUCB 2014, I’ll look towards another PR, but in the meantime I’ve got work to do for my first triathlon. I love training for three sports. I’m in better shape than I’ve been in a long time. My nutrition plan is solid. Most importantly I’m happy cause this girl loves to work out and push herself to achieve her goals!

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