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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What You Can Become

"If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse;
however if I treat you as though you are what you are
capable of becoming, I will help you become that."

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quite a Year!

So this past year has been a very full year.  I'm looking forward to 2012 and shorter distances.  I came off of 2010 with finishing my first 70.3 at Redman (not knowing I was critically Anemic), then did 2 more in 2011.  Suffice it to say, I think I've got the 70.3 bug out of my system (for the moment) and next year's focus is to get things balanced and right with my body so I can get leaner.

For next year, I really want to make the most of my qualifying spot for the 5150 Hy-vee Nationals.  I know the perfect storm had to happen to actually place, but hey, I had to START and FINISH to make it, right? I'm also going to work on not having to explain how I placed -- I had a good race, that's how I placed.  Right?  right!

Race reports!
JAN - Houston Chevron Marathon (lost the lottery *sniff-sniff*)
JAN - USA Fit Half Marathon
APR - Memorial Hermann Kemah Triathlon (Relay - Swim)
APR - Ironman Lonestar 70.3 
APR - Kona Eastside 2nd Athena
JUN - Tejas Triathlon (Relay - Swim)
JUN - FunFest by the Bay 10K 
JUN -  Y Freedom  In memory of Elysha :)
AUG - River Cities Triathlon
AUG - Clear Lake International
SEP -  Redman 70.3
OCT - Galveston 5150 PR 3rd Athena (Qualified for Nationals!)
NOV - OilMan Texas 70.3 DNS - Sick  :(
NOV - Turkey Day 10K PR!
DEC - RunGil 13.1  PR!

In reading the reports:
  • I got a monkey off my back (finally) with a sub 3 hour 13.1 time and PR'd later in the year (so I know it wasn't a fluke!).  
  • I conquered a swim I was scared of.  Having a boat drop your ass off in the middle of the bay and swimming back, for some reason it freaked me out!
  • Brought some hardware home :)
  • Bettered my 70.3 time by 40 minutes, and then again by 90 minutes later in the year.  
  • I challenged myself to swim faster and started Masters 
  • Stayed the course with running to improve
  • I've had a more fun; Yeah! 
  • DNS'd my first race; Boo!  Whatever.
  • I've had a lot of fruit... from a lot of labor. :)

I walk away from this year feeling a little more confident than in the past.  I no longer worry about disappointing others.  I'm learning that in actuality, many of us have more mediocre or bad races than good and that's just the reality.  You can train well, know you're ready, and have some random thing take ownership of your day and blow it all.  In the end you can only control the factors in your control.  I've learned to let go of what I can't control and just play the cards I'm dealt.  Learning to anticipate the unexpected is a larger part of training than I've acknowledged in the past. 

And while limitations only exist if you let them, I've also accepted that my path to a 140.6 is not a race in it of its self.  I am steadfast in my idea to take on a 140.6 when I can reasonably ("reasonable" relative to doing a 140.6!)  enjoy it.  Could I struggle through one?  I bet I could, I am that hard-headed,  but I don't want to "live the dream" from the time the gun goes off.  I don't want to race with a gun to my head, trying to beat cut-offs the entire day.  I want to be as comfortable as possible, knowing I'll make the cutoff on all the events.  If that means I'm nearly 50 before I do, than so be it.  My victory will be all the sweeter because of the wait.

"If you wanna fly you have to give up that shit that weighs you down." This will be the focus of the coming year.  I know what my *issues* are, and I need to cope with them more aggressively.

Oh, and it goes without saying that I'm grateful to my family and both my coaches for their seemingly endless patience with me on all levels.  I'm also grateful for their friendship, support and maintaining my belief that anything is possible.  The seemingly impossible just might take a little longer. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The "Mommy" Part of my Blog :)

Part of the reason I've not been blogging much is it's the holiday season and there's much to do.  We're all about holiday fun and making it a great experience for Cassie; that makes it fun for us too.  Here's what we've been up to... in pictures!

Holiday Pictures!  




Festival of Lights

Elfcapades!

Christmas Shopping!

Gingerbread House Constructing!

House Decorating!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Race Report: RunGirl 13.1

Yeah, I know; been slow to post recently.  Busy with home, work and just a general lack of time during the holiday season.

I had to post about RunGirl 13.1 though, because I PR'd.  :) And while it seems that everything is a PR lately, keep in mind I have a lot of low hanging fruit.  After 2 long years of training, I think some things are starting to s-l-o-w-l-y come toghether.

I was running backwards saying, "Hi!" to a
Friend and got *chicked* by a chick who had
run a half marathon the day before and had to
power walk the last 3 miles. 
Yeah, she still beat me.  LOL
First, about this race.  TriGril Sports puts on this race.  They do all female races in both triathlon and running and new for next year will be an mud/obstacle course race, "DirtyGirl".  The 2 women who run the race are amazing, and the races never disappoint.  I can't figure out how the two of them do it all (of course with the help of some volunteers).  I always appreciate the effort they make to address everything that is controllable and important to having a great race experience.

You'll find all levels, shapes and sizes of athletes at their races too.  It's a really fun day of camaraderie among female athletes.  Lots of first timers to cheer on, lots of experienced and fast runners for your aspiration.  It is a pleasant course set in a park of trees so thick you can't see the roads outside the park.  :)  In fact, you almost forget you're in Houston!  This year they added even more sponsors, cool swag and group training runs.  I was bummed I couldn't get my schedule worked out to join them on the training runs, but it seems from their Facebook page, the ladies all had a blast!

So... on to the race!  It was a bit overcast and very cool to start, but once we started it was perfect.  It is a 2 loop course and on the second loop I unloaded the ear warmers. :)  Tights, running skirt and a long sleeved tech worked perfectly.  I wasn't too hot or cold.  Yay!  Half the battle is being comfortable in the climate.

As always, I'm thankful for the upbeat volunteers and the aid stations were perfect, for me, at about every 2 miles.  The Tri4Him folks took care of two of the aid stations and as always were cheering us all on and lifting our spirits!  Oh, and I can't forget to mention the robed resident who spectated the entire time from the front of her trailer park.  She was out there last year too, and returned again.  We all were joking with her that next year she needs to be running with us.  She was so sweet to everyone with her well wishes and "Merry Christmas!" shout outs to everyone.  

My plan for the run was to make this a long training day.  I've been having hip problems since the Turkey Day 10K.  So OC and I talked and decided I would just target a 13:30 pace.  Nothing fast... just get through the day.  I would run mile-to-mile and if I finished under 13:30 for a mile, I would take a walk break to make up the difference.  Somehow though, for the first 6 miles I was still under 13:30.  Makes no sense to me because I was walking the difference. Guess I was running faster to make up for it.  If I felt good the last 5k I would try to give it my all.

Hip got achy around mile 7 and downright hurting around mile 10. Somewhere around mile 11 I had done the math in m head and thought I had a shot to finish at 2:49. I tried to pickup the pace, but hip hurt to badly to risk it, and I was only able to go about 15 seconds faster; knew I couldn't hold it. So I trashed that idea and just tried to hold it together.  I finished (very painfully, if you can't tell by the look on my face!) in 2:52 and some seconds.

This sounds contradictory, but overall I felt strong, my legs were getting fatigued, but I think nutrition played a part in that. EFS seems to work well for me on runs, and I didn't have it with me for this race (accidentally spilled the last of what I had when I prepped it!).

In the end it was 11 minutes off of last year's RunGirl time, and 9 minute PR for the 13.1 distance.

After this race, I decided I'm deferring my Half entry for the Texas Marathon & Half on New Year's Day.  It's a bummer, because I want that stupid 4 lb. medal (LOL), but what I really need is for this hip to get well for Houston so I can have that sub 2:49 finish I was so close to catching today.   

I have to say I'm pretty happy, can still do better, but pretty happy. :)



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Juicin' it Up

Here's a view I hope you don't ever have to see.  I'd show you a view of my "friends" sitting here with me, but HIPPA police would probably swoop in and confiscate my Blackberry... then what would I do with the remaining hour I have waiting for this goodness to drip from the bag into my veins?

This, my friends, is Iron.  As in that stuff in your blood that helps give you energy and transport oxygen.  Not Iron as in Ironman. :(  Though I wish getting juiced up with this stuff could make my dream come true tomorrow!

So Hemoglobin is up (Yay!).  Iron stores were still low (Boo!)  I should be good now to go forward from here and hope that my vitamin regime, coupled with the procedure in August, will keep me at normal levels.  I started having some heart palpitations, which I recently learned can also be a sign of Anemia.  the palpitations aren't my heart racing, but rather my heart beat becomes irregular in pattern and is a mixture of strong and weak beats.  Very strange.  Also the palpitations are not activity induced.  As a matter of fact, they never happen during activity.  It's always when I'm just sitting around, doing nothing, or at work.  The hope here is that the palpitations weren't caused by my Thyroid meds, but rather the Anemia.  This way we can fix the Anemia and up my Thyroid meds so I can feel better.  Fingers crossed!

After my 10K PR on Turkey Day, I paid for it with my hip/TFL.  I saw my local miracle worker, and was doing better until track last night.  Track was fabulous, but again I'm paying for it today.  I have the RunGirl 13.1 this weekend.  I don't care if I have to walk the damn thing... I will finish it.  It won't be a fast (for me) or pretty race, but rather a good, l-o-n-g training day that I earn a cool medal, cute shirt and a pink beanie cap for. :)

Totally random:  Just stopped at the grocery store to pickup some lunch and chose some soup.  Somehow I poured a completely full, very large, ladle of hot soup on my hand that was holding the cup.  OUUUUCH!   It was all in slow motion.. even my reaction.  I was like, "Oh, look here, I'm spilling this homemade hot soup ON MY HAND!"

Soup's good though.  :)





Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Choose

"I choose to live by choice not by chance,
to make changes not excuses,
to be motivated not manipulated,
to be useful not be used,  
to excel not compete.
I choose self-esteem not self-pity,
I choose to listen to my inner voice not the random opinion of others."

April P. via Oprah on Facebook

Everyone, Meet Otis!

Been meaning to post this!  Everyone, this is Otis.  Otis Toler!  The big "O", Oti-oh!  We got word  the adoption was "approved" on Tuesday, last week and we brought him home on Wednesday.

He's been amazing and we are quite surprised with how well he seems to be adjusting.  He's just a big, sweet boy who needs some love.  No surprises in the house, and no strange behaviors. :)

We brought him home on Wednesday and had about 15 friends over on Thursday morning and he was perfectly fine!  Just laid back and taking all the attention he could get. 

We brought him to the vet on Saturday for a check-up and a desperately needed "spa" day (Man!  Did he stink!!).  He's got some allergy issues, eye irritation of some sort, and some bronzing from licking his paws, but outside of that he's in good health.  We'll get him taken care of!

He's doing amazing with Cassie.  Cassie is doing well with him too, though she gets easily disappointed when he doesn't follow her around the way she'd like.  He does tend to follow me or Hubs more closely.  He rarely barks and doesn't scare her with jumping... she's getting to be more comfortable with him, so that's great!

He did have a HORRIBLE flatulence problem the first few days.  Holy cow!  I never knew dogs tooted like people do.  This boy knows how to clear a room, that's for sure!  We changed his food and had "good" night last night.  Hopefully that's the end of that, and he just needed something more easily digestible. 

We've had 3 escape incidents though, which kind of freaks me out and has me considering renaming him "Houdini" after the last one, where he managed to get out of an easy-walk harness!  If he gets out and you chase him, he thinks you are playing and just runs crazy!  This last time though I had Cassie with me, so I had to keep calm (she was getting upset too!) and I couldn't leave her there to run after him.  It was dark out already and we were taking him for a walk in our subdivision.  I just knelt down on my knees (prayed no cars would hit him) and called him calmly.  After a couple of huge laps on the main road, he came running back to me.  All this just reinforces the need for further obedience training. 

Otherwise he's been a joy to have.  He's so happy to be here (I guess!) and we're happy to have him!

We just brought him home here.

After his spa day... all nice and clean :)






Race Report: Turkey Day 10K

First, without delay, I want to share I PR'd this race!  I am so thrilled.

I had not been feeling all that great the week leading up to the race... I had a string of nights where I just completely crashed and felt fatigued and lethargic -- similar to how I felt before I started the new Thyroid meds.

Really my plan was to just practice my half marathon plan for this race.  Instead, things worked out differently after I started.  Go figure.

First, I couldn't get my heart rate down.  It wasn't for not trying -- it just wasn't happening.  I gave up before mile 1 was done, went with it and ran by feel.  I decided I was going to try to run sub 13 minutes.  I would run mile-to-mile, and take a short walk break each mile.  So, if I finished mile 1 in 12:45, then I walked 15 seconds or less.  If I finished in 12:20, then I'd walk just under 40 seconds.

By the time I got to the 5K mark I was pretty much beside myself, realizing all my miles were well under 13, even with the short walks.  My 5K PR is something like 39 minutes and I knew I was at about 38 -- surely I would tank!  My heart rate was just too high; I was pretty much just waiting to bonk.

Mile 4.  Still waiting...  no bonk yet.

Mile 5.  Just like having (2) 1 mile repeats left.  "I got this."  Feeling good because I'm actually passing some folks at the end. Really?  Yes!

I finished in 1:16 for a 12:18 pace. Needless to say I was thrilled. :)

I crushed 13 minute miles AND got faster at the end!

Mile 1: 12:11
Mile 2: 12:41
Mile 3: 12:33
Mile 4: 12:32
Mile 5: 12:20
Mile 6: 12:03
.19 Mile  12:01


Monday, November 21, 2011

What up... Dog!

I signed up for the TX3 triathlon series this weekend.  It was a good deal to register for 3 races.  Kemah (Olympic), Bridgeland (Sprint) and Houston (Olympic).  Those three races, plus Hyvee Nationals, will probably be my season, since I decided to take things down a notch and get the medical stuff straightened out.  Oooh, and I also won a $50 gift card to the cycling shop where the registration was held.  Sah-weeet!

I made it through my on-ramp training sessions for Crossfit.  Man, I will say that it's a ton harder than I anticipated, and I did NOT think it was going to be easy to start.  It's a great kind of hurt though, so it's all good. I can tell I won't be setting any records for a while.  The daily WOD (workout of the day) is timed, and the goal is to do the WOD in the least amount of time. Heck!  I get frustrated in a group X class at 24 when the instructors don't give you proper time to do a technically correct crunch or dumbbell press.  On Fridays there is an Olympic weightlifting class.  I really, REALLY, enjoyed this -- which isn't much of a surprise to me.  I've always liked to lift!  Once Darren heals up, Coach Thea said to bring him -- that will something great for us to do together.  Incidentally, Coach Thea is also my amazing Chiropractor

In other news, I went back for a follow-up with the Hem/Oc.  Seems my Iron is still dropping (sh*t), but... my Hemoglobin was perfect!  (Yay!)

After my follow-up with the OB/Gyn post-op, she asked my why when my Iron stores were down to "7" that the Hem/Oc didn't order GI work.   It put a little scare in me to hear the word Cancer again, for the third time this year, this time  in the form of Stomach Cancer.

He said there were several reasons:
1)  My history -- I'm an RNY post-op.  There are issues with Absorbtion.
2)  My Age
3)  No bloody stool
4)  Very High Menstrual flow
5)  Tested negative for Celiacs (evidently a potential indicator)

Now he did say that because I'm still dropping, we're going to wait 4 more months (because I've had the ablation -- need to give it time).  If levels drop again, it will mean another Iron infusion and we'll probably go and run the GI stuff.

Ugh... another 4 months of waiting. I am starting to feel tired and lethargic again... had one of those nights where I pretty much passed out on the couch at 8pm.  Hubs commented he hadn't seen me like that in a while.  I went to bed and slept until after 6:30 the next morning, which I never do; I rise and shine at 4:30am!  Saturday night I forced myself to stay awake, but slept hard and felt awful on Sunday morning.  No long run for me, I felt that bad. :(

A new addition to our family?  Possibly! Not by birth though, but by pet adoption!  We've been mulling over for a long while getting a dog.  It would be really good for Cassie, and since we know we're not having any more kiddos, it's probably an even better idea.  Cassie and I visited the SPCA on Saturday, just to see how she'd do visiting with a couple dogs, and we fell for "Otis". We brought Hubs back to meet Otis on Sunday, and we put in adoption papers!  We hope to hear something by Tuesday. 

We're not sure if Otis is a Lab/Great Dane mix (that's what his crate papers say) or if he's a Lab/Mastiff mix (that's what the website says).  He does have some behaviors that lead towards the Dane side, but when you look at pictures of the breeds it's hard to tell -- because he gets those little expressive wrinkles above his eyes that say Mastiff.  Anyway, he's gentle and Cassie loves him.  He's not a barker or jumper (so the neighbors will love him too!).  They did say that he has "domination" issues, and that if challenged by another dog (where he gets jumped on), Otis will retaliate.  Dogs are dogs, right?  I'm hopeful with some learned handling we can calm the behavior.  It's truly hard to believe though, since he's sooooo laid back.  Even when the other dogs in the kennels were going nuts, he just walks past them like nothing is happening.  No barking.  No challenging them.  Nothing.  So wish us luck -- we'd love to give Otis a family and a home.  



Family Dinners Can Build Teen Confidence and Reduce Obesity...

Family Dinners Can Build Teen Confidence and Reduce Obesity
JOANNE RICHARD, QMI Agency
Toronto Sun, 11/19/11, Source

Meals heal. Dinnertime doesn’t simply fuel bodies – it nourishes hearts and emotional health.
Studies show that sitting down to family dinner several nights a week not only boosts grades, confidence and motivation, but teens are also less likely to drink alcohol, smoke or do drugs. Frequent family meals also reduce stress and the incidence of childhood obesity, as well as depression and suicidal behaviour.

According to psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini, one of the leading causes of teens committing suicide is feeling lonely, and disengaged.

“A family that sits down and enjoys the community of one another at dinnertime bridges that sense of loneliness and assures the child they are part of a greater ‘family community’ that loves and accepts them,” Rapini says.

A strong family bond may be an antidote to teen suicide. Dr. Wendy Walsh, a human behaviour expert for CNN, says family support, not peer support, provides protection against teen suicidal behaviour.
“A new study out of the University of Washington shows that a strong family bond reduces depression and suicidal thoughts in teens who had at least one suicide attempt in the past,” Walsh says.
Non-judgmental attitudes of family often provide the much-needed psychological support for teens who suffer from depression. “Teen peers, on the other hand, use judgments and teasing to create group conformity,” Walsh says.

“Strong bonds can reduce depression in spouses, kids and teens – relationships heal,” says Walsh, of Wendywalsh.com.

Adolescence is a tumultuous time and communication is essential to thriving and surviving.
The dinner table is a great place to grow relationships. Problem is, according to Dr. Charlotte Reznick, a child educational psychologist, families are on overdrive with dual careers and highly scheduled children – the mealtime connection is dissolved, replaced by junk food on the go.
But it’s crucial to family health to come up with a workable solution, even if it’s one night set aside for family connection.

“No matter how crazy busy your lives are, find a mealtime ritual that works for your family,” says Reznick, author of The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success.

There’s nothing like a laughter-filled table to release the stress of the day with people whom you love and who love you, says Reznick.

“It’s a great time to hear about everyone’s experience – highs, lows, funny moments, silly seconds,” Reznick says. “Plus, the understanding that comes from knowing someone really listens to you, that a family member is on your team, is exhilarating, cathartic and healing.”

Food symbolizes love. “When our family honours meal time enough to join together -- eating and sharing the day’s events -- it is an expression of love and caring. Your child feels it, and knows they are loved,” adds Rapini, of Maryjorapini.com.

Meanwhile, when it comes to technology at the table, practise what you preach. This is the time parents really have to pay attention to what their behaviour is teaching their kids, says Reznick, of Imageryforkids.com.

“If you don’t want your kids on their cellphones or playing video games on their iPad, if it’s important to keep that family time sacred, then it’s an easy answer,” Reznick says. “Zero technology at the table. No excuses, rare exceptions.”

Bon appetite! Find a meal solution that works.
According to Dr. Charlotte Reznick, some families work their kids’ schedules so there is only one after-school activity a day so everyone is home for dinner.

“Other folks choose a couple of nights a week as treasured; no one makes plans Wednesday and Sunday evenings,” says Reznick, associate clinical professor at UCLA.

She knows of another family that accepts the chaos of everyone’s schedules during the week, but keeps Friday nights as a sacred ritual. “They pull out their very best china and the kids drink juice from wine glasses. They light candles and bring the spirit of love into their home and hearts as they welcome the weekend. Everyone feels like a ‘special guest’ at the table. And everyone looks forward to this weekly loving connection.”

Feast on these tips to better connect at the dinner table:
• Start dinnertime during set-up time and involve everyone – preparing the meal, setting the table, placing food -- even the youngest can help.
• Try to talk one at a time and ask follow-up questions after someone speaks. Play simple sharing games such as “high/low” or “success” of the day.
• So no one person hogs the conversation, everyone gets to speak once before the free-for-all of anyone speaks begins.
• Express gratitude before or after every meal holding hands.
• No one gets up from the table until the last eater is done; parents may want to linger to chat after the kids are excused.
- Courtesy of Dr. Charlotte Reznick, Imageryforkids.com

For some, family dinners may not be possible on a daily basis. Dr. Charlotte Reznick suggests other everyday activities:
• Breakfast together; pack lunches together.
• Drive or walk to school together in the morning with no technology in the car.
• Shoot each other a text during the day to say you are thinking of them. Or leave notes in lunch boxes.
• Keep story time a long time – read to your kids no matter their age as a nightly ritual; it can create lifetime loving memories.
• Sit on the edge of your child’s bed and snuggle and chat before they doze off.
• Go to the farmer’s market together on weekends – include everyone on decisions about what to buy for dinners and why.

Take Dr. Wendy Walsh’s strong bonds prescription:
• Bond over words. Spend 20 minutes a day with each family member, giving them your undivided attention, and doing more listening than talking.
• Practise non-judgment. Celebrate your kids in all their weird and wonderful glory. “If they are into vampires, catch up on Twilight yourself. If they love rap music, stop slamming the lyrics and get them to help you understand the art form. Your kids will turn off and tune out if most of your words are critical,” says Walsh, of Wendywalsh.com.
• Turn off tech. Have tech-free family dinners at least four times a week. Make a technology curfew in your home where all screens go off at a certain time. Children and teens need to give their brains some downtime from tech before falling asleep.
• Give them responsibility. Help them find a part-time job. Give them an allowance that teaches them financial literacy. Insist they do community service. “Encouraging teens to grow up means giving them a healthy balance of autonomy and boundaries,” adds the relationship expert.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Poem

8 years ago, yesterday a friend lost her Daughter.  She posted this poem to Facebook in remembrance to her today.  I had to save it. 

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,
Or you can do what she would want:
smile, open your eyes,
love and go on.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Revised Schedule

So back to that whole thing about doing things that are good for me, and not letting my self get swept up in mine or someone else's, planning/post-race euphoria and signing up for some race I have no business doing... yet.  :)

I've been contemplating (again) my 2012 race schedule and I have decided to skip a 70.3 distance this year.

I knew I didn't want to do Galveston again, so I was leaning towards doing NOLA 70.3, as the location and point-to-point run sounded kinda cool and different.  Then I thought a little more seriously about it -- and you know, another 70.3 is just not right for me... this year.

I have got to get the medical stuff under control.  I think the constant stress of training for long distance, isn't helping my efforts.  As it is, I'm a late-in-life-fluffy-triathlete who's now done three 70.3 distances in a row, with little downtime (if there is such a thing) between each.  Doing this distance is hard enough on the body, but add to that carrying so much extra weight takes it's toll and I realize that.

Don't get me wrong.  I want to do one -- I ALWAYS want to do one.  But I know the smarter choice, the choice that will help achieve my ultimate goal, is to forgo this year and work on my medical challenges that are making dropping the pounds so stinkin' difficult. 

It's all good and I'm feeling confident in my decision.  So here's the plan:

So here's the list!

Run Season:
Turkey Day 10K
RunGirl 13.1
Texas Half Marathon (Woodlands)
Houston Aramco Half Marathon

Triathlon:
HITS Corpus - Olympic (February)
Kemah - Olympic (April)
Sylvan Beach - Longer than a sprint, shorter than Olympic (June)
Bridgeland - Sprint (August)
Hy-Vee 5150 Nationals (definitely an "A" Race) (September)
Houston - Olympic (September)

With a stroke of luck (and all the fast 40+ Athenas staying home in bed or racing relay), I qualified for the 5150 Nationals.  I know in the real world, this doesn't happen all the time.  Truly.  I mean this is a stroke of being at the right place at the right time and being able to start and finish a race. 

There's like 3 races in one at Hy-Vee, including a pro race.  I think it could be a great, fun weekend to watch and race.  So what that it's in Des Moines Iowa!  It will definitely be Fall there September 2nd, so I'm up for it.

My biggest goal for next year is to kill my Galveston 5150 time of 3:38 by 15 minutes or more.


I want to swim 1.5 K in 35 minutes or better
I want to bike 24.8 miles under 1:23 or better
I want to run my 10K in 1:19 or better

So that's that.  I've got my work cut out for me.

I'm hopeful that with the half marathon training this winter, my running will continue to improve.  This Saturday was my first long run where I actually ran long, slow, easy AND kept my heart rate down.  That's a major deal for me.  I'm taking it as a definite sign that my sweltering summer of training paid off somewhere! 

Next year will also include some spectating at Galveston 70.3, Ironman Texas and Redman (where my training buddy is finally going to get to do his first 140.6 race!).  It's gonna be a good year.

Oh!  I also started Crossfit.  Just to get some strength training back to my routine during the off season, in hopes that the good hormones from the strength training will counteract some of that bad hormonal stuff happening inside me.  I went for my first on ramp session after my long run on Saturday and I am still sore.  It's just crazy!

That's it for now... sure seems like enough.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Race Report: Oil Man Texas; When You Just Can't

Looking for my Oil Man Texas race report?  Ummm, not gonna be one.  Sorry!

Oil Man Texas was back on the first weekend of November.  I was looking forward to the race, not so much as a race, but as a good long training day.  The ride is on the back-end of the Ironman Texas course, so I wanted to take the opportunity to check it out.

Since my "A" race (Redman 70.3), my training was pretty inconsistent.  Life happens:  2 hectic work schedules + just completing your "A" race = low motivation to fight for time to fit workouts in like you I was before.   The plain truth:   Before my 'A' race, I would have found some way, any way, to get something in on a crazy day where available time is seemingly negative.

Long story, short, during the week I had been sick. I was on the upswing Thursday and most of Friday, but Friday night I got slammed with some kind of allergy/sinus thing.  I felt a little better on Saturday and figured it would pass, "It's just an allergy thing." I headed up to Conroe and checked in to our "villa" and rested.  I realized I had forgotten my allergy meds {cr@p!}.  I picked some up at the store, but completely tanked Saturday night.  I woke up on Sunday to a head full of snot, a stomach full of drainage after a night worth of horrible rest.

I'm sharing this, not as an excuse, but as an example of when we have to make tough decisions.  Decisions for the larger picture.  It killed me to do so, and I'm sure it's not easy for anyone who has had to do it themselves.  Even though I had logical reason, I just felt like a quitter.  I had decided not to start a race. Sending that text to my coach, who was also racing, just felt awful, but I knew it was the right thing.

In my bigger picture there's an "A" race in January; the Houston Aramco Half Marathon -- plus I have 2 other races, the Texas Half Marathon on New Years Day, and RunGirl 13.1 in December.  I knew I had to  get on the ball with my training, with running being my weakness.  I had already lost a week of training being sick, and I did not want to risk losing a second week.  So there.  Decision made. 

If I'm keeping it completely real though, part of my disappointment stemmed from the realization of how little training I had done between the end of September and November.  And maybe if my training had been more consistent, it would have been hard, I would have surely felt like crap, but I would have been more confident and could have quite possibly survived without the worry of losing a subsequent week of training. 

Wouldda.
Couldda.
Shouldda.

Ah well.. I just move on from here.  :)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Pondering

I haven't been much about blogging lately.  Things are just busy with work and it's kind of affecting my motivation with everything in general.  I hate funks... the plus is, there's usually an upswing coming. 

As for today, well I'm home sick and feeling like warm kah-kah. I'm just hanging out getting caught up on blogs and club stuff, between waves of stomach sickness.  Boo.

Moving on...

So I'm seriously thinking about going to the Hy-Vee 5150 Nationals.  The Nationals are in Des Moines, Iowa... where it will truly be Fall weather.  Nice! 

I know.  Crazy?  Right??

I mean, I know I'll get slaughtered by the Athenas who truly represent what the weight class is for, but heck, when will I ever qualify for something like that again?  And face it... training for an Olympic over the Summer will be a bit easier than another 70.3.  I've trained for 3 70.3 distance races in a row... that a lot of training with very little downtime between and I need to recoup some time back to focus on some things that will make me stronger in the future. 

So I'm thinking.  THINKING.

Next, you gotta go over to visit Mere at Swm Bike Mom. She just finished her first 70.3 in Miami.  Go ahead... tell her how great she is.  I'll wait.  :)

Since I'm home, I'm getting caught up, reading a lot of blogs.  Everyone is setting goals for their off-season training. I know there are things I need to focus on.  Everyone wants to shed some poundage, or at least maintain through the holidays.  To me, those are pretty much a given.

If there is one thing I do this Winter, it will be to get weight training back into my routine, once and for all, and forever.  I started reading the New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women.  It's the first time I've come across a book for women that is not, for lack of a better way to put it, pansy-like.  The authors of this book are not bullsh*tters either.  They're accomplished industry professionals with proven results.  I like that the program is based on training 2 days a week. Something that's pretty doable; I could fit it into my schedule with my triathlon training.

I had thought briefly about taking advantage of a local Crossfit special for November and December, but that takes away some flexibility.  Again, pondering.  Pondering which way to go.  The class atmosphere definitely gives a little extra nudge to get-up and go, in the way that Masters does for me for swimming.  In any case, I need to make a choice.

Strength training is important and I feel awesome when I'm lifting.  I'm not training for anything longer than an Olympic distance this next year, so I should recoup a bit of time that I can dedicate to this effort.

On the family front, Hubs is training for his first half marathon in March.  He'll be sidelined for a few weeks, having some surgi-stuff done, but then he'll be ready to tear it up!  I can't wait to see him achieve this goal.  I know how good it felt for me a couple years ago.  It was amazing.

The kiddo is doing great.  Growing like a weed and is standing taller than the corn in a fully grown field.  She's good and healthy, and that's the way we like it.  :)  She's recently started Girl Scouts... which also means Mom is doing Girl Scouts, since it's all completely led by volunteers, which I guess I didn't really know. In any case, another good reason to not be training for a half!

The other thing I need to do is work through some stuff in my Head.  I need to go for a consult to for a panniculectomy, but the bottom line is, I'm chicken.  I'm actually afraid the doc will tell me that I"m still too fat.  My primary care physician has already told me that's a ridiculous and that I'm a good candidate for the procedure, provided we get my Anemia under control.  I feel some level of excitement, wondering how it will feel to bike, run, or heck, walk up the stairs and not feel my lower stomach against the top of my thighs.






Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Race I Didn't Wanna Do -- Race Report for Galveston 5150

And on the 7th day she raced.

Even though, for the first time, she did. not. want to.

True story.  Hard to believe, I know.

I signed up for the 5150 race because Hubs was going to do the sprint and we thought it would be "fun" to both race the same day.  Plus, I thought finishing up the race season with some events in cooler weather would be a nice change from kicking my own ass all Summer long in the heat.  The cooler weather might have given me a peak at gains I made despite feeling like crapola. 

Since the moment I crossed that Finish line at Redman, training has been inconsistent at best.  Work has been super busy and when I start missing workouts, even just for fitness, I start to lose motivation.  It's a terrible cycle.  I know it's even worse when I have a race looming and I have no desire to train when I do have a slice of time.

Bah.

The day before the race was a complete mom-a-thon.  We did a family breakfast, and hit the school district's Imagination Celebration where Cass-a-frass' artwork was being displayed for the 2nd year in a row (my little creative genius!  I can say that, I'm her Mom!).  I was thankful she changed her mind and wanted to stay at the celebration, otherwise I was looking at driving 90 minutes to Brookshire to visit the happiest Halloween place in the Houston area, Dewberry farm.  I really wasn't up to it, but what do you tell your kid when she says, "...but Mom, I used 6 of my 7 birthday wishes to get the biggest pumpkin at Dewberry farm!"

Not much wind, right?  LOL
You say, "Okay, we'll go."...  because you're trying to make up for all those times you were training for your "A" race and weren't available.

Despite being completely ready to head over there, my faith was reaffirmed when she said she didn't want to go.  Yyyyes!

Race morning comes and I just don't feel like racing.  I'm almost resentful that I'm up and out and Hubs is home sleeping.  He got busy with work too and it totally ate his extra time, so he couldn't train at all -- He had to make the tough choice not to race.

I get to transition and setup my stuff, eat my b'fast and chit-chat with some of the neighboring Athenas.   I had checked the roster and there were 15 Athenas overall, and I think 6 of them in the Masters group with me.  Saw some club folks volunteering and some spectating friends.  At least I kept busy and tried to keep negative thoughts out of the way.

Everything was annoying me.  My bike, the fact that the weather foretasted wasn't what we were experiencing.  I was just a super-grump-face.  I hate when I get that way.  I took a chuck of pavement and laid down to try to get my head together.

Yes, it's a magic trick.  I can fit into that thing!
At the swim start some club friends and I were hanging out waiting for the wave starts.  Out of the corner of my eye I see what looks like a firework.  We all turn to each other and say, "Did you see that?"  Turns out it was a big shooting star (we think).  Immediately someone pointed out it was good luck, so I hoped for a decent race, quietly to myself.

I got in the water and didn't really make my way to the front like I had been in other races.  It was a "active" start.  Sometimes I think it was better when I was a back-of-the-packer; I swam alone a lot and it's nice and peaceful there!  LOL Now being at least an average swimmer, I have people around all the time.  On the first stretch I got hit in in the nose pretty darned good and even swam over by some of the super-fast guys in the wave behind us on the 2nd stretch.  I guess at that point something clicked and I snapped into it.  I thought if I'm going to have to race I'd better make the best of it, right?  Right.  I came out of the water at 37:51.  2:30/100 -- not that great of a swim time, really, especially since it was wetsuit legal.  However my sliding, traveling lunge upon my exit was amazing and scored a 10 among the crowd.

Made my way to transition and I was off on the bike.  The winds were foretasted to be < 10 mph and out of southeast.  They were more out of the south and more bike >15 mph with some good gusts that got me wobbly.  We had cross headwind out and a cross tailwind back.  For the first 8 miles on the bike I couldn't get my heart rate down and my legs felt like, well, shit.  They felt tired and burning.  To be expected though, since it wasn't my "A" race.  I have to remember that, but still it was completely frustrating.  Athletes were passing me like I was standing still and my HR was not getting where I needed it to be.  Finally, I got it down just a few miles before the turnaround.  Knowing I had been riding well above my heart rate on the way out, into the headwind, I was going to have to take it easy on the way back and recover a bit, if I wanted to be able to run the majority of my run.

It killed me, but that's what I did.  I watched people pass me and settled for a lower average speed on the bike so I could save something for the run.  I always make the mistake, on this course, on the bike, by not holding back when necessary -- then I'm fried chicken for the run.  I was disciplined nearly the whole way back, but for some reason, even in practice when we get back to the seawall and all the traffic, my heart starts to race for the last 2 miles.  Oh well.  Bike was 1:30:33.  I was a little bummed because I can do this distance between 1:24 and 1:27.  I was just hoping it would pay off on the run. 

In and out on the run with very little fuss.  Surprisingly my legs felt better than I expected they would.  I pretty much settled in to 6:1 intervals, but I felt really strong.  Maybe training for 70.3 races is what makes you a good oly racer!  LOL. 

Here's the surprised occurrence.  I'm just finishing mile 1 on the second lap, with 2 to go.  I'm going down the street and I see athletes on the other side, coming towards me.  I see 5 different 70-something bibs.  I was number 75, so I knew all those women were Athena, and there was far less than a quarter mile between us.  I was determined to hold them off.  I had no idea if their ages were under or over 40, but it didn't matter.  I stayed the course and tried to push and stay strong.  With less than a mile to go, I looked behind me and I did not see a single on of them.

Me, race?  Yep.  I actually raced.  The same girl who absolutely, positively didn't want to be there at the start.  LOL

Anyway, my run time was 1:24 for about at 13:30 pace.  This is my regular pace without a swim and bike before hand!  Since my PR for a 10K run is 1:21, I have nothing to feel badly about! Plus I negative split my run by about 2 minutes! I crossed the finish in 3:39.  First was 3:21, 2nd was 3:32.  I didn't realize it a the time, but not even 5 minutes after I finished they called the Athena awards.  When they called the Masters category,  they only called 1st and 2nd.  One of my club-mates said I ought to check with the timekeeper.  Sure enough it was me!

So I won 3rd Place Athena Master, qualified for the Hy-vee 5150 National US Championship race and got a comp'd race entry for that race. Not to mention I PR'd for the distance.   Pretty darned lucky (thanks to that shooting star, changing my piss poor attitude, and the fact that most of the fast Athenas, who always beat me, raced relays or stayed home in bed!

Oh, and in the end it turned out that just 1 of those women were in my 40+ Athena group.  The other 4 were all under < then 40... and I beat all of them too! 

A good day for someone who didn't want to race. :)

One more to go... Oil Man Texas.  Aquabike!









Friday, October 14, 2011

Good Grief! Where's The Time Go?!?

*Exhale.*

It's been a couple weeks since Redman.  Where training ended work has picked up and I'm finding myself getting to work super early and then having no motivation at the end of the day.  I have the 5150 and Oil Man Texas left on my schedule.  Motivation would be a good thing to have right about now.

I haven't really done anything consistent training-wise since Redman, though I did pull out a PR on the USA 10 Miler, which I was pretty surprised about.  I had only done 1 or 2 short runs after Redman, but that was it.  We used the 10 miler to start to figure out my A race strategy for Houston in January. 

I had a hard time keeping heart rate down at the 10 Miler, which was kind of frustrating.  After the race, I found out a lot of people had the same problem, so I didn't feel so badly about my effort.  I tried my plan and then tried alternate things when the plan was not, well, going according to plan.  That's how it goes.

There's stuff happening on the medical front that kinda has me a little emotionally loopy.  In short, the "C" word was brought up again, so to rule it out I need to go see yet another doctor; this time a GI specialist. :(

I am doing my best not to let my mind runaway with this... we're just ruling it out.  Right?  Right. 

So I have the 5150 and Oil Man left.  I added RunGirl 13.1 to my schedule, since I had a free race entry from that particular race director -- volunteering has it's rewards!

Running events:
Turkey Day 10K
RunGirl 13.1
Texas Marathon (Half)
Houston Aramco Half Marathon

I have (sorta) been managing to get some weight training in.  My Chrio also offers Crossfit, and I'm thinking about taking advantage of a $99 special for 2 months.  I also got the New Rules of Weightlifting for Women and have found a little foundation for motivation there too.  Have to decide which way I'm going to go.  I know it's super important to get it in.  As I tell Cassie, "It's a have to."






Friday, September 30, 2011

Post Race Thoughts

What was different for me this time was I wasn't so worried about letting anyone down.

The thought of letting everyone down seemed to consume me my last two 70.3 races.  My family scarified time with me so I could train.  My coaches invest their knowledge and time too -- I hated to think they might feel it's for nothing much.  I'm not their best, fastest, athlete, and always found myself wondering if my boatload of determination really meant anything and if my "just finishing" really gave them enough satisfaction; that maybe not my not experiencing stellar finishes they might feel as if they had not done their job. 

This time though, I felt differently about it.  My goal with triathlon has never been to be the fastest or to stand on a podium step, although when the fast folks don't show and it happens it's cool -- an undeniable fact for every athlete.  But truly, for me, I just need to do better than I did the last time.  I race against myself only, and anyone I pass along the way is simply incidental... most of the time. :)  This time that's what I kept in the forefront of my mind -- my reasons for doing this crazy, sometimes stupid, sport.


My disposition with this race was completely different than in past races.  I was more relaxed and felt more positive than I ever have previously.  I found myself smiling through my swimming, biking and running and it felt great to actually be having fun, and not being worried about 7 or 8 hours later.  I stayed present, noticed everything.  It made everything so much more enjoyable. 

Overall my training was consistent when I was in control.  I had some medical issues and surgery during my 18 weeks, which brought on some pretty serious emotional challenges I had to accept and overcome. All that crap gets in your head and until you deal with it and flush it out it's there, interfering with your focus. There's still some lingering drama, but I'm trying to let go.  There's no sense in wasting time on pepole who clearly don't value relationships in similar ways. I just hold out hope that pepole will do the right thing in the end, and I have to stop doing that. "When people show you who they are, believe them."


I did much of my training alone this year, which I'm okay with, and I think I benefited from doing so.  TB was training for the full, so to start we really weren't training together.  When we did go out for a ride, he's generally way ahead and really is just someone who knows I'm out there, not someone I'm riding with.   While I'm racing I can't be drafting or riding with friends, so why train that way?  Yeah, it's fun once in a while, but it seems counterproductive for me at this stage.  My thing this year was, "train how I want to race."  Not train for somebody Else's race.  I really wanted to learn how to stay focused, and with that I was successful.  In fact, on the few rides I did do with other people, I kinda fell apart in the nutrition area being so per-occupied with trying to keep up, or yappin'... something would always get in the way.  LOL

A member of the club once said, "People tri for one of three reasons:  fame, fortune or fitness."  I'm definitely in it for fitness, but I have big dreams, and this race is just part of achieving that bigger goal (to do a 140.6) one day.  Perhaps there is some additional peace of mind that comes with thinking on a larger scale, seeing the bigger picture, instead of looking at 1 race on a single day.  There will be countless races between now and then and with each one I'll learn something else and get closer to where I need to be to achieve the bigger goal.

I felt pretty darn strong that I did a good job in holding back on the bike at Redman.  However, the data told a different story.  I mean, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't according to plan either. OC was right.  I went too hard on the bike.  While my overall average Heart Rate was 144 on the bike, my target was 140.  The data shows I spent more than an hour above.  Of course my HR increasing was unavoidable on the steeper climbs -- I'm just not that efficient yet.  I did do my best to manage what I was dealing with though, so I feel like there was a huge lesson learned. What it tells me is, I need to increase my weekly mileage on the bike.  The more efficient I get on the bike, the more control I have, and therefore the better my run will be. 

"To have the kind of race you want you have to be able to run your run." The best way to ensure that is be an efficient super-star on the bike! :) 

Of course everything gets better if I can get to the bottom of the Thyroid/HyperP stuff and lift the gate on dropping this last 50 lbs.  Having my skin removal surgery wouldn't hurt either!  The extra pounds is a huge obstacle and I don't act like it's not there.  It's in my face every day! When the weight comes off, I will be able to become that much more efficient.

So for now I'm making a point to add-back my strength training (again!), continue Masters for swimming, and find a better way to get more weekly bike mileage in -- learning how to ride better at a lower heart rate. It's marathon season now, and I have the Texas Half Marathon on 1/1/12 and the Houston Half Marathon on 1/15/12 -- so that will keep my running in check. 

For this year I have the Galveston 5150 and Oil Man Texas.  For Oil Man, I switched to the Aquabike.  I just don't have another 70.3 in me this year AND try to figure out how to keep everything balanced with MAKING strength training a part of my training routine permanently.  At least that will give me a reason to keep focus on Swimming and Biking during my Half Marathon training. 

I'm already thinking about the future..

USA 10 Miler (10/9/11)
Turkey Day 10K (11/14/11)
Texas Marathon - Half (1/1/12)
Houston Half Marathon (1/15/12)
HITS Corpus -  70.3 (2/12)
Kemah Olympic (4/29/12)
Sylvan Beach Tri (6/12)
Bridgeland (8/5/11)
Houston Olympic (9/30/12)
San Antonio (Tentative -- it is might be an addition to the TX3 series)

Talked to OC about what's to come and I mentioned Corpus HITS 70.3 race. He said that would be fine, but of course he also had to inform me the race it's mid-February and could be a gamble with Corpus weather.  We could have high, 30 mph, winds like the training day (that drove me to tears) in Galveston.  Of course I had to remind him of something he once shared:  You can't pick a course because you think it's going to be easier than another course.  He does make valid points about little outside training availability being an additional challenge.  Lots to think about. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 Redman 70.3 Race Report

The alarm went off at 4:20.  My first thought was, "I slept pretty well considering I have a race today."  I quickly took care of business, got dressed, grabbed my gear and headed out the door, excited but calm, with Hubs.

I'm one of those freaks who likes to arrive when transition opens.  It was about a 2/3's mile walk to the transition area from where we parked, and it was dark -- we joked how we probably should have brought headlights because it was so dark.

I got into transition and my bike was still there (Yay!) and I got my gear laid out.  I was pretty calm, I kept wondering, "Why am I so calm?"  Setting up was completely uneventful and went smoothly.  I didn't forget a thing.  Yay!

It was cool that a lot of us BAMmers who were doing the 70.3 were racked closely.  I got the chance to meet Christy, a local triathlete, who I met at the 2010 Redman during my post-race breakdown (LOL), but under much better circumstances this time!  :) Last year she was volunteering when they ran out of shirts after I had just completed probably the hardest thing I'd ever done aside from child birth!  Later, weeks after the race, she found my blog; we became *virtual* training buddies and started following each other's blog ever since.  It was awesome to meet you Christy!  You're super.  You can meet Christy too -- here's her blog.

After everything was laid out, I took care of "business."  My stomach was a bit nervous.  I ate my breakfast 2 hrs before race start and chilled on a piece of sidewalk.  I laid down and just focused on what was ahead of me.  I really felt positive.  More positive than any race I've done so far, this was kind of ironic considering all of the challenges over the last 18 weeks of training.

In what seemed like no time, they were corralling everyone for the swim it was time to get the wetsuit on and meet up with my fellow athletes.  We watched each swim wave start.  It was kind of funny watching everyone enter the water, because it had gotten so muddy, people were sinking up to their knees.  It did make the swim start and exit a little more challenging than expected, not to mention an extra 200 yard "jaunt" to transition because the lake's water levels were so low.

Swim:
Finally it was my wave's turn.  I headed out to the water and went up to the front third of the wave.  The gun went off, and we were off.  There was more activity at the start than I remembered from last year, and I took a few hits, but nothing terrible.  There was also some confusion over some buoys that had blown off course.  We were supposed to keep the course buoys on our left and ignore the others, I thought, but saw people going around the ones we were supposed to disregard.  I just wasn't sure anymore.  I chose to keep the course buoys on my left and continue on.  Generally I navigate my swim pretty well, but today I felt like I was drifting off course a lot.  There were athletes around me for the whole first length of 900; I was never alone it seemed and it took a long time for me to find my rhythm.  


My goal for the swim was to stay focused and not drift off into nowhere land; it's easy to do on a long swim.  I made the first turn on the back stretch and my arm/hand started falling asleep.  I swear this only happens in races only!  Not sure what that's all about, but I can swim with it.  It's more annoying and diverts my focus.  In the last stretch of 900, my stroke started to feel better... guess I just needed a 1000m warm up!

I was the 3rd Athena Master out of the water; there was :12 between me and the 2nd Athena Master and 10 in our group total.  1st was one of my club friends who came out in 33 minutes!  I had been hoping for a 2:20/100m pace, but I finished instead with 43 mins for a 2:15/100m pace.  Needless to say, when I saw the results, I was thrilled to hold that pace for 1.2 miles!  2 years ago I was swimming a 3:30 pace for a sprint tri!  Last year I swam a 2:35 pace for Redman -- so I'll take it!  Getting up stupid-early for Masters paid off!

 T1
Exiting the water took a little longer than I wanted.  I just kept swimming as long as could; until I was scooping mud in my hands and saw red muck before my eyes.  Only then did I stand up. It was a long "jaunt" to transition, but I made it and got suited for the bike.  I gave my frozen Perpetuem a good shake and took a swig to make sure it was ready to drink, and I was on my way.  I really didn't try to rush here, as 56 miles on the bike is a long way to go if you've forgotten something.  4 minutes and 12 seconds later, I was outta there and on the bike.

Perpetuem... yum.  :P
Bike
I was almost relaxed to get on the bike.  My goal here was to stay focused again and ride my plan, which was to ride by a heart rate of 140.  I knew this would be a challenge given the rolling hills and the few steeper climbs, but I would do my best.  I actually enjoyed the course.  While it was still a challenge for me, it didn't seem as bad as I had thought it would be.  I quickly gained some confidence when I saw that I could still make some decent time AND ride my heart rate.

I loved the long gradual climbs and the long fast down hills.  It made it fun to ride.  When I started out, MC passed me (she was doing the full distance), and then about 20 miles in, I saw OC (he was doing the half and in 2nd place overall!).  The course was nice, in that you were never alone.  There were always athletes coming and going.  It made it more fun, even if I was being passed up. :)

The aid stations were placed well, I thought, and I took fresh hand-ups of water whether I needed them or not.  I only missed one, when it fell out of the volunteers hand.  I have it down though:  I point and make eye contact -- "I got you!"  Then there's no mistake, they are ready!

My only complaint was the 8 miles of bad pavement.  It was about a 4 mile stretch that you hit again on the way back.  Man, it  was bumpy and full of pot holes, however they were well marked.  Lets just say that on the new race wheels, the girly bits were not very happy. LOL :P

I made it to the turnaround and ironically enough (or not really), I started coming up on and passing the people who had passed me.  Not a ton of them, but some -- mostly those who probably went out too hard.  At about 40 miles in I was passing some athletes I wouldn't have suspected I could.  It all helped me to stay positive and know that my plan was working... I just had to stay with it.

About 45 miles in, who do I see on the side of the road?  My Training Buddy, who had been sick and quarantined to his hotel room the day before.  He and J came out to cheer us on!!!  Another pick-me-up.:)

Finishing the Bike
My biggest challenge with this ride was the steeper climbs.  There was no way I could stay at HR of 140.  Even "granny gearing" it up the climbs, my heart rate would get to 155.  My plan was to make the best effort at maintaining 140 on the climbs, but let myself recover after at 130-135 if I went >140. If I found I was making decent time at a lesser HR, I would just cruise around 130-135 and not push for speed.  My hope was things would average out in the end and I wouldn't be too bad off.

As I neared the end of the bike course, I realized I felt pretty darned good and I was getting excited. I don't display my speed on my bike computer, because it only makes me lose focus on what's important (for my plan).  By the time I looked at time vs. mileage, I saw I only had a few miles left and I was 3:10 in, I was thrilled... and then maybe got too excited.  I rode the last 3 miles around 145. Ooops!  I'll blame it on that last climb up to the Damn.  That was cool riding up there, being able to see the race site.  I dropped to #7 out of 10 Athenas on the bike.

On my rides at home, with pancake terrain, I average around 17, so I was hoping to average around 16 given the hills.  I finished the bike in 3:26 for an average speed of 16.3 and average HR of 144.  Last year I finished in 3:47, with an average HR of 157 and average speed of 14.8.  Huge improvement!  I'll take that too.

T2
Rolled into transition hap-hap-happy.  I got ready for the run and my legs felt fantastic.  I just couldn't believe it.  I did have to take a moment to pee (a good sign!) and mix my Perpetuem for the run, but 5:10 later I was out on the run… Smiling!  If you know me, I never smile on ANY run... that is until, “Crap!  I left my Garmin on the bike!”  Oh well... it is what it is.  A mistake, but I'd manage.

Run
I can honestly say that out of all my races, probably more than 50 by now, I have never felt as good at the start of a run.  I just could not believe it!  The course was 2 10K loops that followed Lake Hefner.  Most of the course I had company, but the back end can get a little lonely.  Anyhoo, you're only there for a couple miles, I'd say it's a decent course for the 70.3 distance.  Not sure I'd feel the same doing 4 loops on the 140.6 distance though.

My goal was to run aid-station-to-aid-station.  Again I started seeing my club friends on the course and it was lots of fun.  First one I passed, in the opposite direction, was OC.  He was finishing!  About 2 miles to go for a 4:37 finish for the 70.3.  Wow!  He wound up winning 2nd overall for the 70.3!

I achieved my goal, partially, at least for the first 10K loop.  I came back for the 2nd (and last loop) and could tell I was fading a bit, but continued to push on.  Everyone said I looked great at the turnaround, but by the time I got to the last 5k, I was cooked.  My lower back hurt like it's never hurt before, I couldn't take in anymore nutrition and I started to have GI issues.  Here's where that :58 minutes of riding above my heart rate was going to bite me.  Boo!  I stopped to use the port-a-potty and felt somewhat better, but after that, if I got my HR up, even just lightly jogging, I felt like I would puke.  Had to move to "Plan B" and walk fast, to ensure I'd finish, instead of being scooped up by the passing golf carts because I was puking.  I pretty much walked just over 5k back to the finish. 

So in the end my run wasn't stellar, but I could tell I had made great progress compared to last year in so many ways. I held at number 7 in the Athena Master group with 3:34:57 for a  16+ min pace on the run, vs. last year's 3:54 for the same 13.1.

So with that I made it to the Finish at 7:54:06.  Last year's time was 8:36:55!  42 minutes less than last year, and a Personal Record for the 70.3, since I beat my 7:58 in Galveston!

When I crossed the Finish, the first person I saw was J, a friend, who was volunteering and then Christy, who was so thoughtful.  Evidently they ran out of womens shirts again this year (they're sized so small that everyone takes a bigger size, then they run out by the end).  I was lucky though.  Christy hooked me up with a mens shirt (until they get more womens shirts which they'll send to the finishers).  She said she told them there was no way I was not getting a Finishers shirt.  Again, so sweet! Thanks Christy!



Monday, September 26, 2011

Redman 70.3 - Pre-race Report


 Wednesday
After seeing my family off to work and school, I visited Dr. Taylor one last time for a little tweaking and cold laser.  After that, my TB (aka Training Buddy aka Hombre) picked me up and we were off to the airport. OKC, here we come! 

We arrived and it was pretty uneventful and calm.  Just the way I like it. The first sign I see as we leave the airport is for a restaurant named, "Kona Ranch."  How appropriate.  LOL

"Kona Ranch"
I checked-in and found my room had no fridge!  I thought for sure I had one last year?  I called the Marriott folks and asked them about it.  They said they were "by request only", and didn't know if they had any left.  Wonder why?  Maybe the  1,000 triathletes descending upon their business in the next 4 days had them all reserved.  Hope and pray, hope and pray! Anyway, they checked for me and 3 minutes later and a knock-knock at my door and the fridge fairy appeared! My lucky day.  Whew!

So TB had did some research and found a decent local grocery store, so that was our first task at hand; stock up on a few things for my room, so I wasn't eating unknown crap. Picked up some yogurt, granola, whole wheat bagels, almond butter, fruit, etc. Foods I eat normally. 

Then we headed out to drive the bike course. 

Now, I will preface this with the fact that in Houston we have no hills. So if you're a Sooner or Boomer, and you read this, understand it is F-L-A-T here.  There's nary a climb anywhere to be found outside of bridges and overpasses.  Redman is billed as fast, flat course...  perhaps for those who train there year round.  LOL

However, note that if you ever decide to race the Galveston 70.3, we have wind, in exchange for your hills. :)

In any case, as we drove the course along the outskirts of the city to the country roads.  We drove through part of the course where it was evident a tornado came through, with tops of trees snapped off and debris still around.  Kinda made me sad for a moment, thinking of the folks who had to live through it.

The course was full of rolling hills with a little bit of climbing and a a few steeper challenges. Definitely more challenging than last year's course, I felt.  Now, driving the country roads is a bit deceiving because you see everything coming ahead of you. It's like tunnel vision, as TB described. It just makes it look worse than it might be.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed with the thought that something is going to be more challenging than you ever anticipated, but then isn't everything about triathlon?  Winning (or finishing well!) never feels good until you cross the finish.

Some of the climbs were just long and gradual, but then the downhills were equally so it events out somewhat.  The course was pretty much an out and back (with a small difference on the way back) and it seemed on the way out we kept going up in elevation... so that just meant on the way back we'd be going down more. 

However, as I watched the course go up and down, it was never more clear to me that the only way I would be able to have the kind of race I shooting for was to stick to my plan and ride my target heart rate.  No matter what.  I would have to do whatever I could to stick to it. I had to race my own race, stay focused and ignore everyone who might be pass me. 

The winds were projected to have a tail/cross winds on the way out and head/cross head winds on the way back.  Yet another reason to keep my HR on target, so I didn't die on the way back. Was I worried about the bike? A little, but it was more about the unknown.

The unknown is out of my control
"It doesn't matter." 

I've been saying throughout my training, "I need to train how I want to race", so this should be nothing new to me, at all.  Right?  Right.  Right!

Then that was it.  My Wednesday was done!  TB and I had a good dinner and made it an early night.  I called the Family and played a few rounds of Words with Friends with Hubs. Made it to bed by 9:30 pm.

As I went to sleep, I thought positively about the bike course and how I would need bike to maintain my HR. No mashing the pedals. Come up out of aero on the climbs and keep my shoulders relaxed. I knew I would have to granny gear it up some of the climbs, get passed by a ton of athletes and smile, and take advantage of the downhills and not coast. I needed that valuable momentum behind me to help with whatever was next to come.


Thursday:
I slept super good the night before and rose bright and early, I mean dark... it was 4:30am! It was okay.  I wanted to be used to race day scheduling.  Today we were headed out to the lake for the event's scheduled open water swim from 7am to 9am.  When I first woke up it was thundering and lightening and thought we'd have to readjust our itinerary.  We waited a while and then headed out when it seemed like it subsided. When we got to the lake, it was chilly, windy and raining. Definitely not optimum weather for open-water swimming, but you know what?

The weather is not in my control.
"It doesn't matter." 

Something is missing!  This was the swim entrance.
Last year it was covered in water.
With that, I saw no lightening and heard no thunder, so I headed in for the swim. One of my fellow club members decided to pass on the swim and do it the next day.  I decided it wasn't a good idea for me, and that this choice was in my control.  I knew I had not had a wetsuit on since April and was afraid if I had a problem, I would need time to rectify it.  Once I saw a couple athletes brave the water, on their way back to their vehicles, I made my way to a pavilion where we chatted with the swim director.  He explained how the new swim course would look because the water was so low in the lake.  And by low I mean it was low, Low, LOW! Dirt now resides where we swam the course was last year.  It's jut unbelievable a body of water that size can get that low.

I also recalled my troubles last year with my zipper pull coming unvelcroed, quite literally burning my arm pit and creating a chafe that caused me a lot of pain during last year's run. As I swam last year, the cord kept getting caught under my arm each time I stroked.  Despite my efforts to reattach it during the swim, it just wouldn't stay.  The water was 70 degrees this year, so I opted to try the sleeved suit first (I had brought a sleeveless too), and completely eradicate the risk of the pit-burn again, and hit the water -- a choice completely in my control.

Like a spa treatment!
The water felt good and admittedly there is something fun about swimming in the rain; it makes me feel like a kid!  Since the water was so low we had about a 200 yard walk to the water's edge of muddy red dirt.  It squished between my toes like, well, mud!  I waded out there and it finally became deep enough to swim a bit.  I was relieved the water was plenty cool enough for my sleeved suit.  Which incidentally fit better than it did last time!  Imagine that?  It didn't shrink. LOL

Now the practice swim was done and my wetsuit decision made.  Next we were off to grab some lunch.  We took a ride to the local bike shop, since they had some cool stuff last year, but I wasn't really moved to spend on anything more than replacing a shirt of Darren's that got ruined by bleach.  The bike store is "Schlegel Bicycles" and the shirt has treads across it and says, "I got some Schlegel on my shirt."  It's cool :)

My ears seemed to be bothering me a little after the morning's swim, I wasn't sure what it was, so I did make a stop at the pharmacy to get some swimmers ear stuff to knock that potential issue out, then back to the hotel for more rest.


My bike arrived on Thursday night via OC and the bike trailer.  Brought my bike and transition bag up to my room and by now some other club members had a arrived; socialized and got caught up. Good times.

Funny story.  We're chit-chatting in the lobby with some other athletes and this girl says something to the effect that she checked out last year's results and decided she was going to race Athena, instead of her AG, because there was only one entry in her group.  Ironically, I was the only Athena Master in 2010!  Pretty funny she made that statement to me. I told her that was me -- we both got a laugh out of it.  I informed her we had 8 others, for a total of 10 in our group.

TB had to do a run while we were there, so I took the opportunity to just hang at the lake and do a little race visualization.  I know, I know.. might sound hoakie, but I swear it works -- especially for remembering everything in transition. 

I wrapped up Thursday night with dinner, called the family, more Words with Friends (started to suspect Hubs was using a helper, until he played the word "t*ts."  Okay, maybe not).  LOL

Friday:
The alarm goes off at 4:20 and I spend time getting all my gear and nutrition ready; I've got it all layed out on my bed, along with my race day apparel.  All that has to be done the morning of the race is roll out of bed, get dressed, remember to grab my nutrition from the freezer and roll!

We headed to breakfast and I kept it pretty bland.  TB wasn't feeling so well so he headed back to his room.  He was with fever and nausea.  YUK!

Later, I told him I'd find my own way to packet pickup.  Luckily OC was having lunch next to the hotel, so I was able to hop a ride with them to the race site. I walked to the restaurant to meet them and had a little panic session when I realized I didn't have my wallet.  I had to run back to my room (I had put it in a different bag).  I grabbed a yogurt and some granola from the fridge for lunch so no one would have to wait on me and then we were off to packet pick-up.

Packet pick-up was pretty uneventful.  Got my goods, bought a red Redman jacket and was delivered back to the hotel.  I put my numbers on my gear and waited until 3pm for the bike transport.  Headed BACK to the race site (thank goodness for me it was only 10 minutes away, if that.) Dropped my bike off with a sigh of relief.  *exhale*

TB still wasn't well.  I called him to see how he was doing, and he gave me the keys to the rental car so I could get dinner.  I didn't want to have to go to any restaurant and I didn't want to go to the house rental, where a few of the athletes were staying, and try to make/eat dinner with 15 other people.  I needed to depend on myself and stay on my schedule, which was a choice in my control.  Not that it wouldn't have been a good times, but there was no sense in me driving more than 20 miles away to an unknown location in a city I'm not familiar with.  Instead my plan was to visit the local grocery store and pick up a  rotisserie chicken and some potatoes, and that was dinner. 

Racked-n-Ready!
I returned to my room to eat and had a "knock-knock" at the door.  It was some of my fellow club members. They were delivering a specialty cupcake from Pinkitzel -- a cupcakery in OKC.  I chose the chocolate malt.  This was definitely post-race fare and it went directly to the fridge. Not to be enjoyed until after I finished!

After dinner I met up with the few other athletes who also didn't go to the house, and socialized a bit, but I was back in the room by 8:30.  Mixed up my Perpetuem, stuck it in the freezer and applied my tattoos.  I was in bed by 8:45.

Hubs finally arrived in OKC some time between 9:30 and 10:30 and quietly came in to the room.  I woke up a bit, but went right back to sleep.  Sleep was good.

More to come:    
Race Day!  2011 Redman 70.3