adventures of a mere mortal in fitness and life

Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

This Mom’s Rack

We moved to a new state recently (as you can see by my absolute neglect of this blog!), and with that move I have had to find a new gym in which to train. Well…let’s be honest. I joined two gyms. (Gasp!) Put it this way: I calculated if I drink two less bottles wine per month (or just one really good bottle), I could easily afford the second gym. (I am well aware that this is not how finances work in most adult people’s heads. To that I say…whatever.) So I joined the YMCA, which is a reasonable place for a woman of my age (mom-age) to workout and it has 2 pools. And then I joined this other gym.

“Other Gym” has 10 squat racks, 15 lat pulldown machines (I was told this during the tour- I didn’t actually count), and I am easily one of the least in-shape people in there. Which is saying a lot, because I am in pretty good shape. Not like “look good naked” shape, but “can rock a pair of skinny jeans and a tank top” shape. I texted all of this to my coach Mitch (yes, I have a coach…I’ll get into that later, but let me just say…it’s the bomb!) and he was like, “This gym sounds perfect!” I rolled my eyes, and thought that of course it sounded perfect to him because he’s like 30 and jacked and I am like…older…with stretch marks…and I’m a mom.

I needed Other Gym though because it was pretty perfect for me, actually. Since last year, I have developed a pretty serious obsession with learning how to weight train with barbells. I’ll enumerate the reasons why lifting is awesome and changed me in many good ways in other posts, but for now, let’s just say that I needed a place with plenty of space to pick up heavy things and put them down. Which this gym has in abundance. Which is how I came up with the magic Wine Formula to justify its cost while driving home from my free trial.

So let’s go back to the main clientele of this gym…which is not middle aged women who don’t look good naked (there are some middle aged ladies there, but they are like bikini competitors, so we’re aren’t even playing in the same league there). The main clientele of this gym is young-ish dudes who are either a) seriously jacked or b) wanting really badly to be jacked (some of you moms out there may have sons in this category?). So they are generally either a) pushing, pulling, or throwing tons of heavy weight around or b) doing bicep curls and watching the young men from the first category.

And then there’s me.

And I walk in with my lifting shoes, my book where I record my workouts, and maybe like a lacrosse ball because I am old and I have things that hurt that might need to be rolled out because they’re getting old and tired. And I get one of a couple of reactions:

  1. Most common: The raised eyebrow…like a “Did that lady take a wrong turn somewhere? The cardio machines are at the front of the gym.
  2. Also common: The blank stare…with the thought, “What…the…hell.. is happening here?
  3. Not so common, but mostly from the “B” group boys… The crestfallen face with “Damn. I’m about to be outdone by an old lady” written all over it.

But since I have been practicing under coaches both in person and online for more than a year now, I feel pretty confident about my barbell skills. So I screw up my courage, find a place among the 10 squat racks, and do my thing.

susan ogilvie squat

The squat rack two down from the white one. Yes. That’s where I’ll be.

And after a few warm-up sets when my bones and joints and all the other things get back into the places that they need to go, the young men seemed to put away their reactions and get back to what they were doing. A few keep their eye on what I am doing, but I think that’s pretty normal in the gym. At least…I think that’s normal to be stared at, right?

My coach from Michigan sent me a text saying, “You just keep lifting heavy and someone will come along and want to be your lifting partner.” Somehow, in the group of young bros, I am a little doubtful of this actually happening. Which is OK. I get it. No one wants to have to rescue somebody’s mom when her heart gives out in the middle of a back squat on their watch (I know, I’m not that old to you…but to them? Ancient.)

So I have been on the lookout for a woman partner. The women who venture into the barbell area of the gym typically come in two varieties, and there have been a total of 4 of them in the month I have been there.

  1. Girl following boyfriend or boy…friend. Not lifting, just watching because she’s done with the cardio.
  2.  Women who are hell bent on using the cable machine in the one of the squat rack areas. I can’t really explain this phenomenon. There’s plenty of cables other places.

My wish is that more women would find the same kind of empowerment and strength that I do in barbell training. It’s been an incredible experience to lift and learn some really important physical and mental lessons about myself. In addition, I have made even more peace with my body and found a way to totally appreciate all that it does for me. These lessons aren’t just unique to me, though. Through the magic of the interwebz, I have met many women who feel the same way about lifting heavy things. Just that most of them don’t live in a 10 mile radius of me, or I haven’t met them yet.

Until I do, I’ll be standing in my (self) designated mom’s squat rack. That’s the 6th one down the row. 🙂

 

Mighty Mac Training Back half of June 2015

Well I know I skipped a week there but I didn’t skip a week of training. It’s actually perfect this time of year to get out in our local lakes and I took my last swim with a wetsuit for a while on Monday.

My schedule shifted pretty dramatically with the girls getting out of school June 19, but I got in some great swims last week with the push of a few friends.

Week of June 15-21

Tuesday: Long swim – about 3.5 miles in my lake. Received the expected talking-to when I got out of the water from my well-meaning neighbors, who told me I needed to tell someone when I would be out there (I did), and what if I got a cramp (it wouldn’t be the first time, but I plan for it and now it doesn’t happen), etc. My shoulders and everything felt really strong and smooth throughout.

Thursday: Speed and stroke work swim – 3300 yards. I was thinking this might be my last visit to Hartland pool for a bit, so I headed in with the intention of doing my last 800 time trial. After warmup and about a quarter of the way in, I realized it might have been a mistake. After the tri on Sunday and the big swim Tuesday, the choice to do this on that day was not the best choice. And it showed: time was 10:43, not my fastest time. I just flipped the rest of my workout to stroke work and IMs after the time trial. I didn’t have it in my to do more freestyle.

  • 400 WU, 8×50 build
  • 800 Time Trial time: 10:43
  • 8×200 IM -25 drill, 25 swim
  • 100 cool down

Sunday: (almost) Half distance swim- open water swim 1.5 miles.

Week of June 22-29

Last week I switched my schedule around for work and the kids’ vacation. In addition I am getting some coaching on lifting so my lifting days moved to Tuesday and Thursday. This makes swimming on the other days tricky because I have morning clients, so the swimming has to happen at night. Thank goodness I had some help and motivation from some friends. Claudia, Jo, and Scott all swam with me and that was HUGE. Unfortunately, by Friday  morning it was clear I had an ear infection. So I subbed in some running for swimming speed work over the weekend.

Monday: Half distance swim- Claudia swam with me at my lake and I had the chance to do some chasing/speed work with it.  And probably my last wetsuit swim for a while.

susan ogilvie mighty mac swim

Claudia and I getting our open water swimming done!

Wednesday my friend Jo texted me about a swim and we wiggled our way onto Winans Lake, which is a non motorized lake and that’s sweet because you don’t have to have that paranoid fear you might be sliced in half by a drunken boater. I swam a while with Jo and she pulled off when we caught up to Scott, who started a little after us. Scott and I swam until it was about dark. I swam based on time because I’m not sure how long the distances were on that lake- Scott had his GPS watch on, so I got a little bit of feedback. Either way, about 1:25 of actual swim time meant I had hit my long swim for the week.

Friday I ran because of the ear. Felt pretty darn good and splits were good.

Monday before I left for my parents I ran again, also felt amazing. Very weird- I haven’t been running all summer. Running comfortable sub 9:00 mile splits is pretty amazing for me without any run training this spring and summer.

Tuesday and Wednesday- I am at the 50m pool at my parents. Today was 3200m  before I felt like I might pass out- it’s 110 here and the pools cooling unit is broken, making it about 89 degrees for swimming. Definitely felt the cramps coming on and didn’t bring any electrolytes, which seem to keep the cramps away. Tomorrow I will be smarter.

Tuesday: 600 WU/200 drill/4×50 build/

  • 5×400 100 easy/100 moderate/100 easy/100 hard
  • 200 cool down

Last week my big girl swam across our lake- about a quarter mile one way with her dad canoeing beside. Pretty proud of her, but hoping my craziness doesn’t rub off on her. 😜

swimming torch lake

My daughter, future open water swimmer!

Mighty Mac Training Update 6.6.15

This was a great training week! Consistency is the name of the game for me, both in workouts and nutrition. Nutrition was pretty spot on this week, with the exception being the UH-mazing birthday dinner for Mr. Prepared we ate last night downtown. But how often do birthdays come around, right? 🙂

A big thanks to my husband, Mr. Prepared, for being the clutch player this week. He knows I become slightly insane if I get off schedule, and he has been awesome at helping me to get done what I need in addition to the fact he’s prepping for his own 100 mile run in July. Today he was my canoe guide through the Saturday afternoon chop on our lake. He said it was fun and a decent upper body workout, so I’m throwing it out there if you want to accompany me on a few laps of the lake anytime, I’m taking offers for help!

My left shoulder has been giving me some issues, but it went from feeling like crap midweek last week to getting fixed up by Shawn at Synergy Movement Therapy last Thursday to feeling awesome. For shoulders that see a good bit of use anyways. 😉 If you have an ongoing injury and you haven’t tried NeuroKinetic Therapy as a tool for actually fixing the problem, you should check it out.

Workouts this week:

Sunday: KB workout

Monday: Strength workout. Like a real workout in the gym. My coach says that one is still better than none in addition to the swings. I think I can be successful at one a week right now.

Tuesday: 400 WU, 400 drills

Main Set: 6×400 – 50 sprint, 250 moderate, 100 sprint, :40 RI
I bastardized this from a triathlon website (being honest), but these were hard as HELL. After the first one, I was like, “I’m screwed”. But I kept one and tried to keep them even splits. Died the last one.  400 cooldown.

Wednesday: Swings set, 300 swings + goblet squats, etc. I can break it down for anyone who is interested, but that’s not the primary purpose of this blog.

Thursday: 400 WU, 400 drills, 4×50 build

Main Set: 10×250- Inside/Outside Corners, 10×250, :30 RI
Odds: First 2.5 lengths sprint, middle 5 lengths moderate, last 2.5 lengths sprint

Evens: First 2.5 lengths moderate, middle 5 lengths sprint, last 2.5 lengths easy
Again, not as easy. The evens were the really challenging ones. 400 cooldown.

So I have created two workouts with work sets of variable intensity of 30+ minutes, which is where I need to hang for now. I have been sitting at a pace plateau for about 6-9 weeks, and I can feel it crumbling apart with sets like these under my belt. It feels awful while I’m doing the sets, but I have done swim/run/etc. prep enough times to know that for me, feeling awful = verge of a speed breakthrough.

Saturday: Open water swim, 2 miles ish. We calculated the distance across our lake via Google Maps, which is about .5 miles round trip. I like the accompanied swim, truly because our lake is an all sports lake, which is cool, but I don’t want to freak out jet skiers or boats- I feel safer for them and for me with a canoe or paddleboard out in the water nearby.

 

Mighty Mac Training week of 3.30.15

As usual, this week was a week of juggling expectations with reality. I was only able to lift 2 of my 3 planned days because I got behind in my week and the gym is closed today. I swam my longest workout to date since the beginning of the year on Wednesday, so while my swim on Monday was short, I had two decently long workouts on Wednesday and Saturday.

Monday 3.30.15- 1200 yards- warmup, drills, stroke set

Wednesday 4.1.15

6x .5 mile – #1 and 2- every 12th length backstroke, #3 and 4 every 8th length backstroke, #5 and 6 every 4th length back.  The last half-mile may or may not have been counted correctly. LOL. Just putting in miles and time in the shark tank. My hair and my brain will be happy when I can get out of there for my long swims!  (Total:  5200ish)

open water swimming michigan

Long swims here I come! Better when your backyard is your training facility.

Overhead pressing fell on the day after this swim- in hindsight, not a great combination. I have to be a better planner for the whole week- I was simply taking advantage of a few cancellations in my schedule to get that long swim in on Wednesday. I didn’t feel so bad on Thursday, but my shoulders were still a little tired on Saturday.

Saturday 4.4.15

500 WarmUp
8×50- 25 drill/ 25 build
Broken Mile- modified “Davis Mile”, courtesy of USMS Swimmer:

11 lengths :15RI, 10 lengths :15RI, 9 lengths :15RI, 8 lengths :15RI, 7 lengths :10RI, 6 lengths :10RI, 5  lengths :10RI, 4 lengths :10RI, 3 lengths :10RI, 2 lengths :10RI, 1 length

Total rest time was 2 minutes, broken mile time (minus rest interval): 22:04

This set was tough. Ladders of any variety are tough, and I wasn’t feeling particularly into it. It’s a good benchmark swim though, and my time wasn’t too far off what I would expect.

150 recovery
8×50- 50 eyes closed alternated with 50 1/2 heads up swim (Total: 3200)

So I missed my day to deadlift, which particularly sucks because my friend Shawn helped re-cue (aka rescue) my deadlift this week and now I am excited to see what I can do there.

Next week, the husband travels and the kids are on spring break. I am going to have to be creative with my workouts for the next 5 days. There will be less swimming and more on the bike trainer and kettlebells at home.

what is the offseason?

Tuesday I found myself with 3 strangers on a pickleball court playing a game I had never even seen before. I know what you’re thinking…wait, no I don’t. Ok, you’re either thinking:

1. Damn, the offseason has gone to her head. 

OR

2. I LOVE PICKLEBALL! Where do you play because my courts are always crowded and…

dory

Dude, pickleball is fun. OK, it’s pretty fun but probably would be more fun if I wore my glasses. Point being, I love to PLAY. New sports, new activities, I do them ALL. Well, most of them. I haven’t done Zumba, but I am pretty sure I would like it. I joke that I have exercise ADD. I joke with my strength training class that it is perfectly acceptable to break out into “spontaneous planks” at any time. They laugh. I tell them that pretty much all I do right now is spontaneous exercise, which is TRUE. I spontaneously did kickboxing a couple of days ago, then there is the pickleball, water aerobics, a squats race during TV commercials, you know, the usual. 😉

Right? It is the usual for us to keep on moving, yes? Try new things, yes? I find so much joy in moving my body in new  and potentially awkward ways. It’s liberating, healthy, and humiliating enriching!  I recently checked out an “offseason” triathlon article a bit ago…you know, the typical, “Make Your Offseason Count!!! blah blah blah” and as I was reading it, I was like, “How is this plan different from my training plan?” I mean, let’s be honest, I don’t know that I even always run 4 times a week in the IN-season. Offseason is OFF-season, not a trickled down continuation of all the structured training crap you did in the IN-season.

Playtime is what keeps us happy and motivated to the do the “must-do”s in our lives. If I continue to swim,bike, and run, it certainly begins to feel like a “must do”. We love the camaraderie we get from having shared physical activity experiences, so my goal is to extend that into true OFF-season activities, by which I do not mean 12 oz. arm curls, people. So, unplug your Garmin and your Strava, stop re-watching Kona on the trainer, and in case anyone wants to learn to play racquetball together, let me know. My OFF-season schedule is WIDE OPEN.

2014 race season review

In early September, I struggled to decide that my 2014 racing season was at its end. I was a little depressed about this as I listened to others talk about their upcoming races and watched my husband prepare to complete his second 100-miler in October (success!). However, I know that I have nothing to be depressed about, as I look back on my season and see that I made significant progress and accomplished a lot of goals.

My 2014 “big” goal was to complete a half-Iron distance race. Some people use the term “1/2 Ironman” but I didn’t do an “Ironman” branded event, so I think we will call it what it is. I completed Rev3 WI Dells in about 6:30:XX, on a tough course on a hot day. What a beautiful course! I learned a lot about what to do and how to prepare in hindsight. I thought I was more prepared than I was, but I realize now that I probably hit my peak of training about 3-4 weeks after this race (on the next peak!). This is helpful to know how to plan for next year, although given a more normal winter, I might have had enough time in the saddle outside on the road to prepare for a half by the end of June. I also learned a bit about course selection (although everyone will tell you that every course is tough), there was an awful lot of vertical on that course for which this (now) Midwestern girl was not prepared! Additionally, I think I overtapered-I strayed off plan a lot the last 2 weeks before the race. I do not taper well, and I should know that by now, but as it was my first long event, I deferred to Mr. Prepared as to how I should feel heading into the race. Overall, I think I did OK considering my preparation and the course. I nailed my nutrition and hydration, which is often a rookie mistake. My goal for next year will certainly be to crack 6 hours at this distance.

Finishing with the family- a REV3 tradition!

Finishing with the family- a REV3 tradition!

The weather was also a factor in prepping for my half-marathon at the end of March. Training went pretty well, although I realize that I should have put in more long runs prior to the event. Also, I know that shoe mixing is important! I ran pretty exclusively in one pair of shoes for a couple of months prior to the event, and my feet paid dearly on race day, and for a couple of weeks after. I don’t think it was entirely the shoes, but I do think they played a role in addition to my lack of multiple long runs (10+ miles). My goal was to finish under 2 hours, and I got pretty close- 2:01:XX. I feel pretty certain I can improve on that number in the spring, provided I am consistent with my running frequency, which I have found is the key to injury prevention for me.

A picture from Sarah before my half-marathon in March- those girls are one reason I race.

A picture from Sarah before my half-marathon in March- those girls are a BIG reason I race.

Thus, lessons learned in the early going of 2014 were to be more prepared- train up to distance prior to the race more often, don’t taper too much, and plan for peak fitness later in the season.

I started my tri season with a bang- winning my first “First Overall” award at Island Lake Spring Tri at the end of May. I totally should have done the Olympic, but kind of chickened out and went for the sprint. It’s OK- I love to sprint, what can I say? And that course seems to love me too.

Woot Woot! 2 Buck chuck and a duffel bag for the winner. :)

Woot Woot! 2 Buck chuck and a duffel bag for the winner. 🙂

I had some fun doing my first adventure triathlon at the Battle of Waterloo in July. What a blast! This is the kind of race for me, I thought. Again, my fitness was better, although I can’t say I went crazy training after the half-iron, but I was certainly consistent enough to see gains. This race has prompted me to consider doing a similar race in New York called Survival of the Shawangunks in the next couple of years, as well as get my butt on my mountain bike consistently in order to train for some Xterra off-road tris.

More fun was had a few weeks later at the Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee, WI. My goals were to enjoy the experience and get my Olympic time under 2:30:00. It was easy to accomplish the first goal, as USA Triathlon did an awesome job and the venue/course were excellent. My time was a little off the mark- 2:31:31.  I could have done a better job training after BOW. I didn’t. Olympic distance races don’t scare me anymore, and I knew I wasn’t going to be fast enough to make Team USA, so truthfully, I know I blew off more workouts than I should have, and my bike leg definitely suffered as a result. I didn’t blow off the big bike workouts, but I did blow off the little ones, those that added speed on top my endurance.

in Milwaukee

in Milwaukee

 

I wrapped up 2014 outdoors with a 100 mile charity ride with an awesome group of riders. We had a great time, and while I was probably not ready for 100 miles, I managed it. I had to take 5 days off after, but I managed it. 😉

Riding the GM Proving Grounds during the Tour de Livingston

Riding the GM Proving Grounds during the Tour de Livingston

This racing season had some magical moments that I have waited a couple of years to achieve. It’s amazing to track my progress with this blog, although the evolution of this blog is at a bit of a stagnant stage. Some days, I catch myself looking in the mirror and wondering, “Who’s that?” I still don’t recognize my own image. I remember very vividly how intimidating a 5k seemed, and what a mess I was after my first one. Sometimes, it’s hard to brush off comments like, “Oh well, it’s just a 5k-that’s nothing for you!” because it wasn’t too long ago that it was TOO MUCH for me. I am proud of how far I have come, but I know I have a long way to grow- to continue to learn as I train and teach.

Training Update: 7 weeks to go!

So for those of you not in the know, I have about 7 weeks to go until my first 70.3 triathlon race.  I would call it a half-ironman, but I really hate that term- when I run 13.1 miles, I can’t stand the term half-marathon, and I really don’t think busting my butt for 6 hours should be considered half of anything.

I have rewritten this post twice because the first 2 times were super, super whiny.  Admittedly, my “why can’t I go to IKEA and eat lingonberries and let my children play at SMALAND on a Saturday like everyone else” self as the culprit for these drafts.  They were both quite, quite, small-minded.

Today I busted out my big ride, and I did it in no half-ass fashion (unlike last week, where I broke it into MTB riding and road riding).  It’s quite amazing what 10 hours of good sleep + a day off will do for a person. I got on the Dark Horse ( that’s my pretty speed machine bike) in Stockbridge, rode the Waterloo Rec loop for recon on a future mission, and did Chelsea-Dexter-Ann Arbor to finish it out.  Which is pretty awesome.  I love going places via bike that I have never gone before.  This gives me an opportunity to see things I don’t see via car, like a geodesic  dome farmhouse, or a Harvestor Blue Silo, which is something that you only see in the midwest and also Mr.Prepared’s grandfather created and sold the patent for these to Purdue (ok, I know that fact is boring, but still!)

cool, huh?

cool, huh?

I rode into Ann Arbor to the bike shop for a re-fit on the bike as part of my ongoing “let’s be intelligent about training” process.  I think I have a few key factors that have made the difference in this season going forward:

  • Training. I have used Endurance Nation as my coaches for the season.  These guys have built triathlon training for the age group athlete to a science.  I respect that as I build my own business that they have their own mission and success dialed in, and I can only hope to be as good as Rich and Patrick at what I do.  I am certainly sold on the model and the advice that these guys give.  I just have to remember to get my ego out of the way.
  • Injury Prevention.  Shawn Kitzman of Synergy Movement Therapy has been a literal game-changer.  Many of you know I stopped running in the fall to try to give physical therapy a chance to work.  With Shawn’s Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT), I no longer have to wait to see if something works in a couple of months.  He must truly be one of the best at what he does because I have lived with hip pain for a couple of years.  In the first few weeks of working with him, I kept checking my back pocket or purse for a missing wallet or phone because I couldn’t figure out what was missing.  It was hip PAIN!  He is amazing, such that I am thinking about adding NKT to my practice by getting certified in the fall.
  • Dialing in the bike.  Between working at Hometown and finding a great crew at Transition Rack in Ann Arbor to help me with my TT bike, I have gained a ton of confidence on my bike in terms of fit, fix, and find.  I found my beautiful bike, I can fix it now, and I have resources to fit it too.  Lucky me.

Most importantly, I know that I am grateful and honored to be able to do what I do.  Many people would love to be able to race, ride, and run like I do most days without thinking about it. Trainer Guy once told me something that has stuck with me almost every day:

I am grateful for the day. I am grateful that I am alive in this body and that it can do what it does.

I know this mantra will carry me through Rev3 WI Dells and the rest of my race schedule because I am racing with a grateful, happy heart.

REV3 Wisconsin Dells

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