On top of that, life was generally a bit chaotic due to my participation in conference planning for the Virginia Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Annual Meeting (which felt like planning a 3 day wedding!). February and March were stressful work-wise and not perfect months of training, but that's life for you! I'm proud of myself for sticking with things to the best of my ability, knowing that things would eventually get better. That said, here are a few sport specific updates:
While my swimming has steadily improved since my return to tri's in 2014, I still have much room to grow and one of the objectives my coach and I set for the year ahead was to add a 3rd day of swimming each week. My swimming world has felt much different this year, partially because my husband is now swimming twice per week (adding to the motivation factor) and partially because my workouts have looked a bit different. I've been doing a lot of strength building sets and technical, form-focused work, using specific paddles that force me to keep my elbows high during my entry and catch (pictured above in yellow). Ankle band sets (using the little green band around my ankles) have also been a major source of challenge: the band around my ankles forces me to increase my stroke turnover, push my chest lower into the water and my hips higher. While I started the year barely being able to complete 50 yard intervals with the band (main goal being not to drown!) I am now up to 200 yard intervals where I barely even notice it! One thing I'm currently looking forward to is participating in my first open-water swim event, a 2.4 mile swim as part of the 2017 USMS Open Water National Championships / Chattanooga Swim Fest, which will serve perfect prep for Ironman Chattanooga in September.
Another major objective of this year was to dedicate the winter and spring to building upon my bike fitness from last season (as opposed to training towards a running event as I've done most years past). In mid-May I'll be racing the Kinetic Half and then two weeks later completing the Mountains of Misery Century, both which have provided good motivation to invest in bike fitness gains 0ver the winter months. I don't know how my cycling mileage compares to similar months in years past, but it's been a good mix of quality (tempo and threshold intervals) and quantity (longer riding) and I'm looking forward to putting my fitness to the test in my races to come. I'm also happy to report that my tri-bike is tuned up and RACE READY... a full 3 weeks ahead of my first race! Yay for not procrastinating!!
With regards to running, one of my goals for the year has been to participate in more road races. Thus far, I've raced twice with two very different outcomes. Throughout the month of January, I was feeling phenomenal on my runs and very fit. I went into the Blacksburg Classic 10 mile race on February 12th on somewhat tapered legs, and was really looking forward to the opportunity to put my fitness to the test. Unfortunately, the outcome was far from where I had hoped and I really couldn't have felt more "off" than I did during that race, which immediately prompted me to get to the doctor and have my iron levels checked again (see above). It was a disappointment for sure, but every racing experience is an opportunity to learn and grow and I took it for what it was: an off day.
Two weekends ago, I participated in the Reston Half Marathon in Northern Virginia. Unlike the Blacksburg Classic, I went into this race with a high level of fatigue on my legs. In fact, both my coach and I forgot to put it on the training calendar originally! That said, we agreed that with my current training priorities tapering was not in the cards, and I completed a hard 3.5 hr bike-run brick workout just two days prior to this race. I also spent the day prior chasing my husband around during the Bull Run 50 mile and in general I was feeling a bit sleep deprived. Needless to say, I didn't have many expectations other than to enjoy a supported long run with company and new scenery.
Despite missing the start of the race (I was quite literally the LAST person to start... oops) I started off relaxed and happy and kept my pace conservative in the early miles. Around mile 8, I decided to stop looking at my watch and JUST RUN. By mile 11, I was feeing quite fatigued but opted to "put the pedal to the metal" anyway while visualizing the final few miles of my upcoming half ironman. I was hurting, but also feeling strong and able to keep pushing! I ended up crossing the line in 1:36:05 (official chip time) in disbelief because I had just TIED my half marathon PR!
I have a few more weeks of higher volume-intensity training, then May will be busy with races and events! On May 6th I will be kicking off the triathlon season at the Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Triathlon. I've sat out the past two years due to my focus on spring run events (Boston in 2015, Promise Lank 50k in 2016), so I'm very much looking forward to participating in this local favorite event (minus the frigid lake waters...) One week later on May 13th I will be racing the Kinetic Half (70.3 distance) at Lake Anna State Park as a celebration of my 30th Birthday! Then two weeks later I will be riding the Mountains of Misery Century Challenge which features 10K of climbing over 102 miles, and finishes with a climb up the backside of Mountain Lake!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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