Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My little (HUGE) breakthrough in the pool!

Where to start! Not too long ago (well almost a week ago now) I had finished the best swim of my life! YES  - THE BEST SWIM OF MY LIFE! If you know me or have followed my blog, you know that I didn’t grow up as a swimmer, and swimming most certainly doesn’t come easy to me.  I joke with my parents all the time that I wish they made me swim when I was little. (as in join a swim team) It would just make my life that much easier now.  Instead I was bouncing an orange ball around any chance I could, which I can’t really complain about as that is really what opened up the door for me and gave me the opportunity to come the U.S. … Still doesn't stop me from wishing I swam a little when I was younger. Girl can dream, right? 

I am certainly athletic, and usually pick up on things fairly quickly, but swimming although I could always swim, is a different game. A whoooooooooooole different game – and not a ball game! I would find myself frustrated at times because things just weren’t happening fast enough. I have really been wanting to graduate from my “turtle” like speed and take my swimming to the next level for what feels like an eternity!  

As someone a bit competitive (shocking to all of you I am sure), swimming has just always been about beating that clock. It’s been about being faster than the day, the week, or the month before. I mean – if I swim every day, I should see progress, right? Preferably a continuous forward progress rather than the backwards one.  That’s how my brain works. But I would struggle, I would swim, and swim, and swim, and fight with the silly little clock day in and day out.  Some days I would win and some days I would lose. I would fight the water, and get so mad at myself for not being faster.  I would make improvements, only to go right back to where I came from few days or weeks later AND that to me was beyond frustrating. I admit, there were days when there were tears involved, but even though I really wanted to just quit swimming at times, deep down I really never did and I certainly won’t.   I just wanted to quit being so damn slow, and get faster. Is that too much to ask for?  Just graduate from that turtle stage already!

It was apparent to me that this whole swimming fast deal wasn’t going to happen on its own, and so my coach Jorge, found just what I needed in the super swim coach Karen, who somehow made swimming FUN for me. I have been working with Karen since the end of last summer, and she has slowly but surely transformed me into much more of a swimmer that I ever could have become on my own. It does however take work, and a bit of sacrifice (sleep). To put things into perspective - there are days when I drive a total of almost 110 miles to go swim with Karen and still be at work by 9am - do you think I want to swim fast?

Aaaaah - Happy Jana

 Waving for the camera

 Fins make everything better 

Am I as fast as I want to be? No!
Will I be? Absolutely!
Do I still care about the clock? Yes, I do! But it’s not the same. I am learning to accept things better.  
Most importantly, I have a new found level of confidence with which I approach all my swim workouts. I will soon be as fast as this little creature ;)

Sailfish also knows as the fastest fish in the world capable of moving as fast as 68mph! Yes - PLEASE!

Sure – there are still the times when Karen throws out an interval, and my brain goes into immediate panic mode as in – really? Are you sure you are not mistaking me for someone else? But instead of my brain quietly whispering “You can’t do this”, it’s now saying “Go for it and see what happens”.  That particular attitude shift for me is HUGE! It’s really what is allowing me to swim better than ever right now, and as much as I would like to say it happened overnight, it didn’t. It took months – not 1, not 2, not 3, but many more than that. Karen has made me do things, I never thought I would be capable of doing. I swam with people that were and still are all way faster than me, and there were and still are times I am the slowest person in the pool. That for someone as competitive as me isn’t exactly all that comfortable. But you know what, I did it, I got over myself, I made new friends, and it didn’t kill me, it really only made me stronger. Swimmers really don't bite ;). I wouldn’t lie if I didn’t say, I peak over to the next lane and try to keep up (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but I am able to use the inability to keep up as fuel instead of a reason for frustration) and THAT is another HUGE success! 

I am very proud to say I can successfully make it at least 25 yards swimming butterfly and that ladies and gentleman is not an easy feat. (For me that is) Yeah I know – who cares, right? You don’t swim butterfly in a triathlon, but that’s a whole separate conversation and a can of worms I don’t want to open up right now. The point here is that I learned something I never thought I could! And that is priceless to me! It more mentally rather than physically opened up a whole new world to me!  

 May not be perfect but it's so fun!

But I am getting a bit carried away, and I need to get back to THE breakthrough of a swim workout. I had a great little warm up and one part of the workout as to swim 3 x 500s to swim on a certain interval. That interval was very tight! Actually I only swam faster than the said interval ONCE before, and that was on an all out 500. Seeing that before, would make me cringe and think crazy thoughts, but this time around, I just went for it. Aaaah – LOVE the attitude change! ;) (Thank you Karen - I still don't know how you did it, but you did) Somehow I just knew before I even swam that I will make it. I didn’t care if it was by 1 second, I was going to make it.  To my absolute surprise, I swam the 1st 500 10 seconds faster than my goal time. I then swam the 2nd 500 another 5 seconds faster than the 1st one, and I felt so good that the 3rd 500 was even faster than the 2nd one. You get the point – In the end, I just essentially set 3 new PB’s in a row without even going all out and by quite a bit of a margin. I was on top of the water moving very fast for me, and I felt it. I felt soooooo good, and I felt indestructible. I was fishing that day was race day because I was unstoppable! I have never been so happy about my swimming ever. I have been swimming well lately, but I wasn’t expecting this to happen! I will honestly never forget that day – NEVER!  I felt like this guy:

 His butterfly is just as good as mine, and his mindset is exactly where mine is at all the time - mmmm food! 

Yum! Can I go eat yet? 

With my first 70.3 of the season in Quassy coming up in little less than a week, this day couldn’t have really come in a better time. My swimming confidence is at an all-time high, and I am very excited to jump in that lake and see where I am at. Regardless of what happens at Quassy however, I know I am swimming better than ever, my biking is super solid and my running is better than it has ever been! It’s only June, but I am very confident in my fitness level. I am all in for Quassy and I can’t wait to go for it. 5 days and counting! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

April also known as "run forest run" month


 I was really trying to stay put because I am not sure that my coach Jorge could take anymore complaining from me about the lack of biking. You know – it’s not all that easy to live up to the “mega legs” nickname without actually getting on your bike getting it done. Getting mega, sustaining mega, and improving mega is no easy feat, and it gets harder and harder with each extra “watt”. I kind of feel like I need to insert one of those “Sh&t triathletes say videos” here but it’s the truth.  But guess what – even though I was reunited with my Fireball, April was renamed the month when I try to turn my mega legs into mini legs and run my behind off!  I didn’t exactly have a great nor good race at Hyannis, and my result there wasn’t indicative of my running form at all. (See my "You win some, you lose some blog post) I really wanted to redeem myself, and so I signed up for a local ½ marathon – Twin lights half in Gloucester/Rockport, MA that would take place the first weekend in May.(On that later) With April being a running month for me, I ran 29 out of 31 days. I ran my first ever 5K on the tail end of my first 40+ mile week in 19:57, and simply put I just ran.

4th Overall, 1st AG
I pretty much ran day in and day out. Easy runs, hill repeats, M pace runs, Recovery runs, Brick runs. Some days, I literally chased Jorge around trying to hang on for my dear life as he trotted along.  Sometimes I kept up, sometimes I didn’t, but it definitely allowed me to push the envelope a bit more than I would have myself. I wanted to say not so nice things to him many times, and sometimes I didn’t think it was really all that fair that he was just jogging and I was working so damn hard, but sometimes that’s the name of the game, and for whatever reason I love it! My competitiveness just doesn’t let me rest.  In the end, I ended up running 165 miles in the month of April which is far more than I ever have or even thought that I was capable of while keeping up my usual bike/swim volume. I was starting to feel a bit like a runner. 

I managed to stay put except for a quick trip to Niagara Falls, Canada, and that certainly helped with the training consistency which I am a huge fan off. While there, I even got a run in around the falls. 

View from the hotel room

To support my increased mileage this month, I had also purchased just a few more pairs of running shoes but guess what – I will need them because I have decided to run a marathon this September in the hopes of qualifying for Boston 2014! #BostonStrong! It will be my first open marathon, and I am very much looking forward to it. 

I have since added another 5 pairs of Kinvara's (I may or may not have a problem)

Many running miles later, finally some outdoor riding, and many very promising swim sessions (Swimming really deserves its own post, because for once I am actually enjoying the process) that have me super excited for my first tri race of the season in June, I have found myself in May. 


The month when I will (and I did) get the sub 1:30 ½ marathon monkey off my back, the month of the annual BTT training weekend that the BTT folks allow me to crash every year, and also the month when for the first time, I don’t get to attempt to defend the American Zofingen Middle distance title (for the 3rd year in a row and I am a little sad about that ;( ) The race is actually this weekend, and the weather is going to be absolutely perfect!  I am just a tad bit sad! I would have loved to add a 3rd mug into my collection.

Little sad to not attempt to get that 3rd mug :(

I will I suppose take the plunge and do an open water swim sometime soon I swear (wetsuit or no wetsuit, I am just not a huge fan of cold water - just ask my pool friends – they all know it takes me at least 10 minutes to get in the pool each time), but strangely  I am excited.  It may be because I am now holding myself to some new swimming standards thanks to the super awesome swim coach Karen ;), and I am looking forward to translating all the pool work into OWS.  I may have finally realized that getting faster (let’s face it, we all know, I want to be really fast! ;) ) in the water will take time, and although it will never happen fast enough I am ok with that. I have been consistently seeing times I used to get super excited about over and over again, while secretly (or maybe not so secretly) wishing I was just another tad bit faster ;). The mission to turn me into a swimmer continues, but I am way more confident than I ever have been regardless of what the clock says (did I really just say that?).

Mega legs have been coming along as well, and just yesterday I have had my best interval sessions EVER. For those that know what I am talking about, I owned the 6 x 4s and definitely set a new benchmark! It will be tough to top, but that’s the fun part ;). My race wheels have been taken out of the closet and dusted, and I am looking forward to "flying" next month! 

 Can't wait to get "Fireball" race ready! 

And last but certainly not least – I am awarding myself the mini legs title based on the very unexpected, and new half marathon PR from a few weeks ago. The new PR now stands at 1:27:39 – whole 3 min and 33 seconds faster than before, and good 2 minutes faster than what I thought I could run – race report coming soon! It was a beauty! ;)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I am back!

Where to begin … It has been a looooooong while since I last posted anything on my blog and shame on me. I have been a busy bee between a few training camps, training in general, this thing called “life”, and yes – I do have a job that takes up just a weeeeeeeee bit of time and every once in a while requires some travelling. Since my last blog was back in February, it’s only fitting that I give you a quick update on what I have been up to.


Also known as THE birthday month, I squeezed in a quick 5 day training trip to Tuscon, AZ and although I automatically assumed it’s going to be sunny and hot, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Riding in AZ, wearing winter cycling clothes isn’t exactly what I thought of when I signed up, but hey at least I was outside and riding. Yes - it was cold and wet!

Notice the jackets, gloves, leg warmers, booties - the whole deal - Brrrrr 

We did get to enjoy one awesome day when we climbed Mt. Lemmon  with about 80 degrees at the bottom of the climb, and in the 40s at the top!

Before tackling Mt. Lemmon

Mt. Lemmon sure lived up to its expectations, and I had an absolute blast! Don’t give me wrong, I would have liked to be in a bit better shape than I actually was and perhaps spent more time on my bike (more than 2x, perhaps 3x a week for no more than an hour, 1.5 max just isn’t quite enough), but I couldn’t get the smile off my face the entire time! 

Happy as can be 

Our group split up immediately and so by the time I was reaching the top, I was on my own and of course made the rookie mistake (although I really don’t think it’s a mistake) of heading right towards the cookie cabin instead of the top of the mountain – our meeting point. Damn me! 

That's me in the distance

I actually passed the cookie cabin, and only stopped because I reached a dead end or better yet bunch of dirt paths that my “Fireball” (my tri bike) didn’t enjoy so much.  Only then I realized I wasn’t at the top, and rode right past the cookie cabin again and back up that mountain. I am still sad I didn’t get a cookie, but a good reason to come back and do it again! Next time the meeting point will be the cookie cabin! 

 Fireball at the top of Mt. Lemmon

Nap time at the top of Mt. Lemmon (I was really just trying to stay warm by hugging the pavement) 

  Unless there is a cookie in your hand, don't wake me up! ;) 

We did some other rides – “Gates Pass” and a few others, bunch of runs and swims, and we ate a lot (Or I did anyways).

Mmmmm, food!

I had a great time in great company, and even the chilly/rainy  unusual for Tuscon weather couldn’t stop us! If you want to see more pics, you should hop over the Peeeej’s blog who has many more pics than I do. (http://tripeej.com/2013/03/14/e3ts-training-camp-tucson-az/ )

Immediately following the Tuscon trip, I was headed to Europe for a busy 10 or so days. It was a work trip, but I got to spend a few days at home in the Czech Republic, and it so happened, that I got to celebrate my bday at home with my family! That hasn’t happened in a very long time (like 13 years) so it was very special! I spent some quality time with my family and I also fit in a few very chilly runs, some swims, and some family bowling fun.  

After few days at home, lots of cake, and bread, and more cake, and some more yummy Czech food, I was off to Austria, and Sweden before heading back to the U.S. I ate the cake so fast, I forgot to take pictures! I got in a few early morning runs through Schladming, the place of this years World Championships in skiing, as well as a running tour through downtown Stockholm! In a pinch, running really is the best way to check out the sights. I didn't take many pics, but I snapped a few from my hotel room. 
From the car

 From the hotel room 

 Slopes from the hotel room. This pic really doesn't do the slopes any justice. 

This was also my first trip travelling out of the U.S with my green card, and wow – what a piece of cake that was!  And just like that March was over. Wow – what a busy but FUN month! Next up - April!