Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Race Report: Clear Lake International Triathlon

Saturday's Weather as we left the race!
After the Friday night banquet and hearing Dave Scott speak I was raring to go.  I got to transition and setup. Did I mention I was just 6 bikes away from Dave Scott in the same rack?  Well, I was!

Anyway, checked and double-checked everything and headed inside to the hotel's lounge, which was air conditioned and empty at 6am, to just relax and visualize my race -- of course keeping in mind the new things I learned from Dave's talk the night before.

My wave start was 7:21.  I left the comfort of the hotel lounge and headed to the swim start.  I decided to take a quick confidence test of the 9ft ladders swim and warm up.  The first thing I noticed was how salty the water was.  It was surprising to me.   Anyway, the ladders didn't fail me, though I did pity the athlete who would get stuck be hind me climibing up!

My wave actually went off at 7:28.  We all started staging around 7:15 and I felt good.  Almost instantly it seemed like our wave was called to the dock and it was our turn.  I'm not sure why, but the women were taking their sweet time!  DR was telling the women, "I have to start you in 8 seconds... get in!"  I was in and ready to go -- right up towards the front.  No fear!

We actually started right in the marina; we jumped in off the fuel dock.  Of course there was lots of whining going on about water quality because of the fuel (Blah, blah, blah...).  It was extremely salty, but other that that, I didn't feel like I was swimming in an oil slick and I didn't smell fuel.  I think people just tend to have a negative bias on everything.  It's easier to rip something apart and be negative, than it is to focus on the positive (the water being calm and a bearable temp).

When I was less experienced swimmer, I would be alone pretty quickly.  Now I'm a MOP (middle of the pack) swimmer and I have people around me, for what seems like the duration.  The first 250m I got completely beat up by the other women.  After that, things thinned out.  I did a great job taking the shortest distance between points, except it meant picking up a couple cuts and scratches from cement pilings under the water which you couldn't seen initially.  We had a little current against us on the way out, but on the way back we had a little push in.  At the end of the swim I had to climb that ladder as part of my swim time.  Boo!   Anyway it wasn't too bad.  Swim was done in 38 mins.  Again hoping for 2:15-2:20 swim pace, but had to settle for somewhere around 2:30 for the 1500m.  It was actually 4 minutes longer than my Kemah swim in April, which I find hard to believe because I'm a much better swimmer now than I was then!  The real swimmers say the course was long.  Whatever!  It's always long... never short.

T1 was pretty quick -- a quick rinse of my mouth from that nasty salt water, shoes and helmet, and I was off on my bike.

I remembered the climb at the start and was glad I had my gears set in the right place.  After about 10 minutes I started my nutrition.  I downed 2 Thermotabs with some water and took in some Perpetuem.  I had my watch set every 15 minutes, but also set it to give me a halfway beep.  At the half way points I would take just a small swig of water.  everything was going well.  Target HR for my ride was 140, but I couldn't get it that low.  Guess it was race day excitement and some cross headwinds.... I worked really hard to keep it under 150.  Twice over the Kemah bridge brought it to 160 the first time and 158 the second, but I didn't start again until it came down under 150.  I averaged a 149 HR and 17.6 mph for my 28.5 mile bike.   While it wasn't my exact race plan, I was happy with that because I really did practice restraint.  I just kept remembering that I needed to "run the run", like MC said.

T2 was a tad longer.  Socks, running shoes and then I realized there was no water on the run out! I was glad I had extra on the bike; at least enough to get me to the first rest stop.  Quickly, I took the water I had, and filled my run bottle containing the Perpetuem powder.  I was really glad I could think on the fly, since the first aid station was a mile away.  Problem and solution. 

I look like I'm ready for high tea!  I was waving!
As soon as I started the run, my kneed was filled with a stabbing pain I cannot even describe, and unlike anything I experienced before.  Generally speaking, when I run I have twinges of knee pain which fades away as I run longer.  But this?  This was way beyond a twinge.  I couldn't run, couldn't walk.  Tried pushing it the first loop thinking maybe I could shake it out, but nope.  I was so frustrated; I felt good and capable of doing more, outside of the pain, but I couldn't.  I started to get emotional because I didn't know if I should quit and not risk further injury, or tough it out (because what if I had a like situation at Redman, right?).

On the 2nd loop, I kept stopping to figure out how to stretch to get some relief, but nothing was working.  Eventually I figured out my glute was the cause, so once I started stretching that, things improved a little. I still had to stop frequently to stretch, but at least I could jog.  That's where "Do what you can do in this moment" came in.  I just played that over and over in my head.

I had a rabbit to follow on the run and towards the end of the race we became friendly and chatted a little.  She was able to run it in to the Finish; I tried to keep up, but then essentially undid all the good I did!  Ouch!  I crossed the finish to my fellow BAM! chicks cheering me on!  The BAMily was all over that race; it was so awesome!  In fact, that was probably the best thing about this event  Thankfully, another DailyMile friend who I learned was a massage therapist, was at the finish and took care of me.  She was my savior! At first I was like, "Huh?" when she asked me if she could massage me -- then she explained she used to be a massage therapist.  Quite frankly though, I didn't care who's elbow was jammed in my glute if it was going to ease the pain! 

There were so many compassionate and supportive folks on the course.  A bunch of athletes I met through DailyMile and athletes from Tri4Him were all so supportive.  Not to mention my own BAM! teammates who made more offers than I could count, willing to stop their race to help me stretch and figure out what was going on with my body.  There was one Tri4Him athlete, a woman, who ran past me and said she was praying for me and that she read my blog!   Whoever you are, thanks!  I sincerely appreciate the sentiment. :)

The frustrating part was, I did my job on the swim and bike.  The heat was bad, but truly it wasn't killing me the way it seemed to be killing others.  The aid stations were perfectly spaced for me to keep cool and my nutrition on the bike proved to work, because I felt good on for the run!  Had I ran at least my regular post ride run, I probably would have been right in the middle at 4th or 5th place, instead of last.

Eh, shouldda, wouldda, couldda.

And remember what I said about it being so easy to focus on the negative?  Truly, in the end I'm not upset that I finished last.  I'm grateful that I was able to finish at all.

Oh, totally random!  Guess who won a pair of KSwiss Blade Light Running shoes for doing a Ford Ironman challenge on DailyMile?  Moi!  That makes 2 gift cards, a wetsuit and now a new pair of running shoes I've won, just by logging my training!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Friday Night Banquet with Dave Scott

Me & Dave Scott!
It's no secret, that to start, my head really wasn't in the game for CLI.  I admit as the race drew closer, I was feeling more positive.  My ITB knee pain was looming over my head and I was a little worried.  I knew I was going to try to get into see Dr. T. to help get some relief, so I was at least hopeful.

I saw my coach at Masters Friday morning, where I had a micro-mini bike/swim/run brick.  After that little challenge, I knew my ITB was going to be an issue for Saturday's race.  I also knew I had to get in to see Dr. T.  I was just hoping she could take me.

I told MC about the pain and we went over my plan.  I really felt good about the race plan and the race... all except for my stupid ITB.  I headed to work and immediately left a message for Dr. T. -- turned out she was on vacation but came in for a couple hours to take care of the 4 of us that called her!  She's super!  She said, "I might be able to let 1 person go, but I can't do that to 4 athletes."  Needless to say, I was grateful! 

I canceled a different Dr. appointment, because I have priorities, you know?  Then rushed from work to see Dr. T.   By then it was time to get to the race hotel.  I was volunteering at packet pickup, then had the banquet at 6:30, where I was also helping.  My first run-in with Dave Scott was at packet pickup; he was there, borrowing a bike from a local bike shop and getting fit on it.  Nothing like riding a brand-new, unfit bike on race day! I was like the paparazzi and snapped an unsuspecting and unclear photo of him -- not even worth posting. LOL

Truly I thought the talk would be a repeat of River Cities in 2010, in that he'd share the same stories.  Nope.  It was another great, motivational speech!  He shared with the athletes ways to have a better race day experience and what to do when you're struggling to do better.  So much of it made sense, and not to swell MC's head, but much of it sounded like what he might tell me on a given day.  Since MC was going to be out of town supporting his brother at IMKY, he was sending me texts, I told him I have Dave Scott here to take his place.  LOL

I did get to have some one-on-one conversations with Dave.  We talked about River Cities last year, how there is no way possible remember every athlete he's ever encounters that says, "Yeah, don't you remember me from "X" race?"  I told him it's like saying, "Do you know my friend, they work at NAAS?"  here.  We also discussed the edible viability of some kind of chicken-in-sauce thing on the buffet that was passing as a protein source.  A few good laughs.  I also appreciated the fact he took  time to actually ask people their name when he was in conversation with them.  At least for that night, he'd remember those he spoke with.  Though later you'll see why I'm certain he won't forget our entire table for a while.

In short, if I wasn't ready to race before, I was ready to go after his speech. There were a couple of highlights that made me laugh or were worth remembering:
  • His son told him if he didn't do the 10K in < 40 minutes, not to come home to Boulder, CO.  Dave did it in 41:56... so I wonder if he went home?  :)
  • He talked about how back before triathlons were cool guys used to race in Speedos.  Of course that warranted a groan from MOST of the crowd.  My friend Kathleen, however, in a just-loud-enough-to-hear voice, replied "Darn!"  Dave heard her, as did the whole room, and everyone laughed.  Kathleen is a self-proclaimed number 1 fan of Dave Scott, and I believe it.  I wouldn't challenge her for one second!  And that's why he'll remember everyone at our table for the rest of the weekend!  On to more serious stuff....
  • On the swim, concentrate on blowing bubbles out long. The longer you blow bubbles the more oxygen you can take in.  Get relaxed and get your breathing pattern going; that's key to a strong swim.
  • Don't settle for complacency on the swim.  We get out the the mix, then spread out and it's easy to lose focus and get complacent.  Get relaxed, yes, but once your breathing is going, take risk -- go harder, turn your arms over faster and kick! 
  • On the bike hydrate every 8 - 12 minutes... every 15 minutes isn't really good enough in this weather because we never take in as much as we think, so take small, frequent sips.  Let your HR come down and start nutrition on your bike after HR settles, about 10 minutes into your ride.
  • When you're out there riding long and solo, remember to recall the things that bring you joy about triathlon.  
  • On the run the heat is going to be a challenge.  He shared his mantra with us:  "Do what I can do in this moment."  This was something a sports psychologist shared with him when he decided to try a come back in the late 90's.  "Do what you can do in this moment" proved to be my mantra for my race.  More on that later. 
  • Lastly, Dave told a story of how after he won Kona, I forget the year, he couldn't sleep.  Though every piece of his body was spent, he still went down towards the Finish to reflect.  He said it was early morning and he was just milling around.  As he got closer to the street he saw 2 men with race numbers coming towards the Finish.  As the men drew near they saw Dave; they recognized him and had heard he won the race that day.  They actually thought Dave came down to run them in!  Dave thought for certain they couldn't be IM athletes, but they were!  For that moment they were the best of friends, latched arms and essentially dragged a completely and physically spent Ironman champion with them across the Finish.  Back then there were no cut off times, I think Dave said the guys had been racing for 23 or 24 hours.  After the banquet we were talking and I asked him if he would meet me close to the finish at tomorrow's race and run me in like he did for those guys.  He said "Uh, No, but I'll buy you a beer at the Finish."  LOL
There was lots more, but those were the main things I walked away with. 

The--en, The next day I arrived at transition for the race, and guess who was racked just 6 bikes away from me?!?  Yep. Dave Scott.  So when I saw Kathleen, his biggest fan, was volunteering in transition, I hat to tell her and she came screaming over -- quite literally, too.  Thank goodness he wasn't there yet; he would have thought she was completely creepy the way she was mauling his bike.  It is so funny funny how this grown woman gets giddy s a school girl when he is around.  You can't help but laugh.

Not two minutes later Dave comes down with 2 little convenience store plastic bags to setup his transition.  There were only a few of us at the rack.  He was hilarious, acting like he didn't know how to setup his transition area.  I commented on how I brought a backpack big enough to hike up Everest, and he comes down with 2 little convenience store bags?  He laughed.  I let him do his thing... by now athletes realized he was there and they were just buzzing around trying to get pictures and a chit-chat with him.

When he left the rack to go wait for the race start, he patted me on the back and said "Have a good race, Donna!"  I was a little stunned and just said, "Thanks!  I will."  I didn't say "I'm gonna try."  I said, "I will." He remembered me.  Me?  Even with pulled back hair and in a sausage skin of Lycra.  LOL

Race report to come... 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wanted: Raceday BuZzZz

So tomorrow is Clear Lake International Tri, and I'm doing the Olympic distance. My head just not in go-mode... I have no race day BuZzZzZ at all.  This same thing happened before River Cities, but I was able to come out of my funkish state and get in the game, so I'm hoping for the same with this race.

CLI changed it's venue this year, so it should be interesting.  The swim is in the marina, the run is a 3 loop course for 10k and the bike is on local roads that I am completely familiar with -- including 2 passes over the Kemah bridge.  We'll see how it all pans out.  The run course is going to be a little wonky, as they had to change the course at the last minute because a local HOA didn't want the race to go through their neighborhood.

1/2 of the Kemah Bridge
The last time I did CLI, I did it as a relay and I thought I was going to die on the bike because it was so stinkin' hot.  I mean, it literally feels like you're riding into a hair dryer that on high heat.  Our runner had turned an awful shade of green... it was a pitiful day.  Since then, I just haven't been motivated to re-register for this race.

However, that was then.  This is now.  I wasn't training then, the way I do now.  I know I'm prepared and that should make me feel great about everything.  Right?  Right!

Perhaps the other mentally limiting factor is I'm not really "racing" it tomorrow.  People pass me right and left when I am racing... but tomorrow I'll be executing my 70.3 plan.  It's really more of a long, supported training day for me.  So even more people will pass me than normal, and that can easily leave you feeling badly if you're not in the right mind-set.

Alternatively, I could do my 70.3 effort and be completely surprised!  So many folks will come out tomorrow, balls to the wall, and burn it up on the bike trying to average a certain speed on the bike, killing themselves -- if I have a good, solid run tomorrow, I could still have a really good race.  I think there are 7 Athenas racing the Olympic.  I know I won't place (there's a few really fast ones racing), but not finishing at the bottom is always my secret goal.  I would love to finish smack, dab, in the middle or better!   LOL

So my plan is to take the swim at my 70.3 effort -- a decent pace, but not oly effort. On the bike my heart rate stays under 140 -- "granny gear and smile over the bridge" (that's what MC says) "Do not let heart rate get out of control up the bridge."  The run:  keep HR under 150 and if I have anything left at the end (theoretically I should since I'm racing an Oly at 70.3 effort), then tear it up... well, as much I can tear up a run -- which isn't saying much.  LOL

The mantra for the swim and bike is "Run the run!"  I have to remain conscious of my effort on the Swim and bike to have a good run.  I'm going to run the course and walk the aid stations... just like I want to do at Redman.

I've got my nutrition plan slated, just need to follow it.  I feel good about that part.  It will be the first time I use Thermotabs in a race.  I took a few this morning during my mini brick and no adverse affects, so here's hoping!  :)

Tonight is the race banquet.  Dave Scott is actually going to be there to speak -- he'll also be racing on Saturday too.  I'm certain after the dinner and hearing him speak, I'll feel better and maybe will have found my mojo!

And it goes without saying, I don't ever race now without remembering Elysha. "Have fun and don't take this stuff too seriously."  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nutrition Plan for Oly Distance

Okay, so I've got the plan worked out.  Providing everything goes well testing Thermotabs this week, I'll run with them on Saturday.  This plan is based off my original caloric and sodium intake recommendations by my sports nutritionist.  At the time I wasn't using Perpetuem, so I've had to adapt the plan.  I've over-planned, just in case I'm out on the bike longer than expected, but generally I will finish the bike under 1:30 and the run under 1:20.

My Redman race plan will be similar, except my requirements will be extended to meet the time requirements for the 70.3 distance.  

This plan is based on my weight, sweat rate and BMR. I can genuinely tell a difference in performance when I follow this plan (especially the pre-race breakfast and 20 oz. of G'ade) vs. when I don't.  The G'ad ade for breakfast is supposed to be a primer for your body to prepare for the distribution of fuel to your body. 

The thing I really like is that aside from breakfast, everything is liquid.  The Thermotabs (salt pills) are not coated and are not in plastic caplets.  They're like aspirin, only buffered.  My hope is I'll be able to absorb these.  We'll see!

NJ & Me - Perfect Together!

Headed back to NJ for a week to visit family.  It was a great visit and too short, as usual.

The weather was the best!  I received text messages from friends training in 100+ degree heat killing themselves, meanwhile I was having my best long run and time trial run ever!  It was back to reality on Sunday as the blast of heat hit my face as I exited the HOU airport.  I knew I was not in NJ anymore.  Boo!

Running really was great, and I have to admit I was looking forward to possibly enjoying it!  I had to do a 2 mile time trial while I was there, so I was going to run from my Mom's house to my old high school and hit the track.  I did just that, but the track was being resurfaced.  So on to "Plan B":  I did my time trial on the road.  My time was 23:20! 11:38 for the first mile and 11:42 for the second mile.  That was with a 1 mile warm up.  I can't tell you how good it felt to see those times. It relieves me to know that there is improvement, even though I can't always see it.

Run Route from Fair Haven to Sea Bright.

So if my time trial run wasn't good enough, my long run was also awesome!  I did just over 9 miles miles in 2 hours.  It was a long slow run too... I kept my heart rate in check for most of it, though it did get away from me on a couple hills.  But to be able to hold a 13:04 pace for 2 hours is huge for me.  I only took walk breaks every couple miles, since my ultimate goal for Redman is to do the run and walk through the aid stations.

Oceanic Bridge, Sea Bright, NJ
I wish I took pictures while I was running, but had no where to carry my camera.  It was fun because I ran the same route I'd ride my bike to the beach when I was a teenager.  Riding my bike it seemed soooo far.  Now I know it was about 10 miles -- didn't have a bike computer then!  The scenery was beautiful.  I ran From Fair Haven to Rumson down Ridge Road, over the Oceanic Bridge and hung a right and ran until my turnaround time.  The homes on this stretch are just magnificent, full of character, and each more beautiful than the last.  The trees are tall and over the years now provide a ton of shade.  It was just so pleasant.

This week is another taper week.  I have a race on Saturday, Clear Lake International.  I'll be doing the Olympic distance as a dry run for Redman which is just about 5 weeks away!  I need to get my nutrition plan nailed.  Still haven't quite figured it out.  Sadly, Perpetuem Solids aren't going to work.  They're too big and I'd have to carry too many of them.  They're the size of a Nuun tablet in circumference, but like 3 times the thickness.  I did think of wearing my nutrition "Rambo" style, and exchange bullets for tubes Perpetuem Solids, but thought better of it.  Could you imagine?  But I really would need to carry something like 28 tables for 3.5 hours. It's insane.  It's a great idea they have with the solids idea, but not so much for longer workouts.  Bummer.

This weekend I'm going to do my regular Perpetuem and Water/Nuun on the bike and try Thermotabs for sodium on the run. A few people I know really like the Thermotabs and they're not coated or a caplet, so I think I might be able to absorb them pretty well.  We'll see how it goes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Making it Easier for Me and EVERYONE

One of the hardest things about training for 70.3 (or whatever your distance) is balancing everything.  I have a 6 (turning 7) year old, a Husband, a House and a full-time job.  It takes a village to make sure everything gets done and my family is amazing with helping they way they do.

Most of the time I do okay keeping up with everything, but Sonja Wieck's latest entry got me thinking of some of the things I try to do (not always successfully or timely) to make things easier for my family, for me and to make sure I stick to my training plans.  Now, especially, in the last 5 weeks before my "A" race.  My biggest problem is, once one thing falls out of synch, other things do as well and domestic chores just snowball!  The same goes for my training... if something happens and I miss a session, my training sessions snowball and I'm killing myself by the end of the week.  Not good for quality training sessions or keeping injury free.

Sonja's entry has some great ideas for being organized and she shares some great resources that help ensure success during "crunch time."  So be sure to check it out!  It was funny to see I'm partially as organized as a pro, but just don't have pro speed, pro build and mad-pro-skillz.  LOL  I do, however, have the same domestic challenges, and there is some comfort in that fact, knowing we all have the same struggle.

Some of my tips...  Many of these ideas are no brainers...  some are great!  I'm just short of implementing them all 100% of the time. It would be amazing if I was super human and could!  LOL

1)  Use Google calendar.  Both Hubs and I are online all day long at our jobs.  I linked my Training Peaks schedule to my Google Calendar, so he has an idea of what my training plans are for the week.  He does the same with his. 

2)  Most days, I make my breakfast the night before and early morning workout.  Most of the time I'm good with this... occasionally I'm rushing to do it in the morning.  If I don't do this, I'm setting myself up for a fail with breakfast.  Not good. 

I also try to make extra for Hubs, to make it a little easier for him too.  Funny story:  Last week it was one of those weeks I wasn't so well at pre-prepping.  So there were two days where I made my meals in the morning before leaving.  I was so consumed with getting MY stuff together, I forgot about Hubs.  Last night I said, "Hey I'm sorry I didn't make you any eggs last week, I was just consumed with trying to get myself out the door in time."  He says, "Yeah, I was kinda wondering what I had done wrong."  For a second I thought he was serious, but he was joking, thankfully. 

3)  Use the auto-brew feature on the coffee pot!  Hubs generally sets it up and he'll remember for a long time... then he'll get lazy, then I'll set it up for a while, then I get lazy.  We both appreciate the fact it's there, ready, when we come downstairs, so why we get "lazy" with this task sometimes is beyond me.  Maybe it's just rebellion for having to maintain an already tight schedule?  LOL

4)  Try to make things easier for Hubs to get out the door with the Kiddo when I'm at early-morning workouts.  Hubs and Cass-a-frass are kinda pokey and they know it.  Easily taken off track by morning TV or the computer... locating the hair brush or the favorite swim suit.  I try to make Cass' lunch and sometimes breakfast, if I have time. 

5)  We've tried to "empower" Cass with things she can do to help in the house.  Like emptying her backpack and lunch box after Day Camp, and even making her own lunch for the next day.  This worked really well for a while, but she groans and is, well, *over it* now.  It was something that worked and we really should be better about enforcing it.  Even the little ones have to pull their weight where they can.

6) Don't knock it until you try it:  Alternative scheduling.  I used to do all my workouts after work.  This made for some later evenings and that didn't work well for the family.  I decided to try to do my workouts in the early-am.  Hubs is not an early-AM trainer... definitely not as early-early and I'm willing to go.  I'm not a complete fan of it, but it makes for better balance at home so I can deal with getting up and half-past-still-dark, if it means getting my workouts in. 

7)  Don't waste time folding workout clothes.  We have more workout clothes than regular clothes in a week's worth of laundry.  We have bins for tri shorts, running skirts, running shorts.  I still hang my tech tees/tanks, but that's about it.  This was hard for me, because I come from a family of undie-folders; we also gave up folding undies!  We have a bin for those as well!

8) I'm convinced too that my favorite race tech-tees and sports bras last longer because I don't put them in the dryer!  I always hang them dry.  Hubs hacked a drying rack in the laundry room.  We had one of those over-the-door hooks in the bathroom with like 8 hooks on it.  He moved it to the laundry room and it's been totally awesome to hang my sports bras on to try! 

9)  Because I swim a 5:15am Masters Class 3 times a week, I keep a bag packed with all my stuff I need to get ready for work, which I do at the Fitness Center.  Each day I have Masters I just need to pickout my clothes and throw undergarments and shoes in my bag, which always stays packed for convenience.  I use travel size shampoo/conditioner which I can refill once a week.  I also have one of those towels that velcros around you, which is soooo nice to get ready in, rather than trying to put clothes on a showered body that is still sweating from a workout. 

10)  I have a separate bag for all my pool toys (goggles, kick board, bouy, Zoomers, paddles).  The toy bag stays in my car, so it's not forgotten. 

11)  We have cubes with storage for all of our swim/bike/run stuff.  Hubs has one set. I have another.  Even Cassie has a cubbie!  It's really helped me have one central location for everything and I'm now less likely to misplace my heart rate strap, sunglasses, or favorite visor. 

12)  I'm still trying to become okay with the concept of saying "No" and asking for help and clearly communicating what I have time to do and what I don't have time to do.  This goes for doing things with Friends, triathlon, chores, errands, etc.  This is still a hard one sometimes.  I'm getting better at it because I appreciate the balance it can bring when practiced routinely.  I'll get there. :)

13)  When 2 people are training for a race in the same household, everything gets completely crazy twice as fast.  Flexibility and communication is key.  If you're the one not training, you're helping to get caught up with all things domestic.  It gets stressful because you can easily feel a disconnect because you're training all the time.  In our case we have a kid, so unless we spend $$$ for a sitter, we can't really even train together.  We have done that before though!  It's important to make family time -- we know when we need it. 

In closing, I feel like this time around I've been better balanced.  Has it been crazy?  Heck yeah, but I think the early-morning training is better for the family.  More of an inconvenience for me and an added morning challenge for Hubs having to get Cassie and himself out the door, but I'm home most nights, which wasn't happening before. I also took time at the beginning of the year to consider a smaller race schedule, knowing I had the September 70.3 race.  This race kept me focused on training, more so than racing, so I wasn't racing every weekend, like I've done in years past.  I also learned to say No, and volunteer less, especially when longer training weekends begin (like now!).  Also, a gentle reminder to the spouse that heavy training weekends are approaching, is a nice heads-up. Hope I don't sound like a know-it-all.  We still have our struggles, but we recognize it and are open and flexible to working through the challenges.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Kristin Armstrong on Focus

Kristin Armstrong on Focus

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Read This...

Okay, if you've seen the recent Nike ad, you can't have fun here. If you haven't, then read on.

“My butt is big and round like the letter C and ten thousand lunges has made it rounder but not smaller and that’s just fine. It’s a space heater for my side of the bed/ It’s my ambassador to those who walk behind me/ It’s a border collie that herds skinny women away from the best deals at clothing sales. My butt is big and that’s just fine and those who might scorn it are invited to kiss it. Just do it.” Nike.

What do you think when you read this?

For me, I think it's kind of cool and reminiscent of the Dove campaign where they used "average" women/models in their advertising.  I think it's verbiage that makes a woman feel comfortable with her imperfections... learning to accept them and finding the positive.  Don't like it much that it pokes digs at skinny chicks, they have issues too.  This isn't about being fat or thin... it's about being comfortable in the skin and body you're in, have self-worth, and treat yourself with kindness and a healthy way of living.

Now... scroll down....

Read the same ad -- now how do you feel about it?

Does the accompanying picture change your interpretation?

I'm just curious.  I've seen many varying opinions on the Internet.

I'll share my thoughts later.  For now, leave me a note.  What do you think?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Race Report: 2011 River Cities Triathlon

So this race is called the "Best lil' Triathlon in the South" and boasts that Lance Armstrong holds the original course record.  The course has changed since he's done it, but they still boast. The field is limited to 1,000 participants.  The race sold out in 25 minutes, online.  They also said 50 athletes showed up to packet pickup at closing, hoping for no-shows they could buy.  It's about a 4.5 hour drive from Houston, and I think well-worth it if you're up for doing a destination race, doable over a weekend.

It goes without saying, they also have the best swag of any race I have ever done!  This year was no exception... I got an amazing backpack/transition bag, a race-themed Tech Shirt, a Tee- shirt with the monster logo (to the left) on it, a running Jacket, a running hat and a pair of seamless socks.  Last year we got a piece of triathlon-friendly luggage that retailed for $250.  The same bag was on clearance this year for $90!

What I like most about this race is the thought they put into the details. It's in August.  It's Louisiana. It's gonna be hot.  They remember things like kiddie pools of water to wash the sand off your feet, after the swim, as you enter transition.  Their aid stations on the run are well-equipped... even for the slowest of finishers.  They have Spray stations on the run course, iced wash clothes, and seriously, the best volunteers.  I was thanking them for being out there in the 100+ degree heat, and they were thanking me for racing.  What????

So while the water is pretty dark and you can't see your fingers 3 inches in front of your face, the rest of the course is quite scenic and is in a state park.  The bike is rolling hills with a couple challenges, but nothing you have to get out of your saddle for.  The run course is mostly shaded and also very scenic.  

I ♥ Swag :)
I packed everything I needed for RCT and didn't forget anything. Yay! It was a drama-free and relaxing ride to the race. I decided to keep my own room so I could have some quiet time. Good choice. :)

We went out the park and drove the bike course. It was the same as last year... rolling hills with a couple of bigger ones. It was a slightly challenging course for me since I'm not great at climbing, but they were one right after the other, so I knew if I could work the down hills, I could pretty much make it up the next one, most of the way, anyway.

The night before I got my stuff ready, rolled my glutes and quads a bit (quads were sore when swimming at Twin Lakes Friday night -- glutes had been tight post-track) and hit the bed by 8pm. I don't know if I was nervous or what, but I just didn't feel "right" about this race. Maybe it was all the talk of the head and how miserable it was going to be... I don't know. I wanted to do it, but it was like a part of me wasn't into it. Just couldn't find my mojo. I did a race viz before bed, called the family and then lights out by 8:45

Got up the next morning and felt better about race day. Still apprehensive. Got to transition in plenty of time to setup. Found the in's and out's, counted my racks. Ironically, Joy's race sat right in front of a "No Alcohol" sign. That was funny. LOL. For race nutrition I did my 2 hr. pre start breakfast (bagel thin, almond butter, 1/2 power bar, banana, yogurt and 16 oz. of Fierce Strawberry G'ade). My wave start was at 8:39 -- finished eating by 6:30. Got my "poupon" and felt relieved that was out of the way.... for the 2nd time -- I knew I was good to go! :)

Had lots of time before my start, so after I was setup, I went for a swim. I swam out easy to the second buoy and back. I'm glad I did... I forgot how black that water was! I still noticed my sore quads on the swim. That was irking me, but I tried to forget about it and kicked some more to try and loosen them up.
Me (far left) and my BAM! friends

Once the race actually started I felt better... was getting more excited. Me, Sandy, Debbie, Kathleen and Cathy were all in the same swim wave! That never happens!!! On the swim I started right behind Cathy, so I claimed space right up front. Of course I didn't stay with her for very long, but I didn't shy away from the front there was lots of activity at the start, as usual... lots of kicking, beating, slapping and shoving LOL! I did feel good swimming. I noticed I was never alone (a good and bad thing), but I was still sighting and navigating the other swimmers well. I was feeling confident. By the time I knew it I had made the first turn and passed Joy -- she was in the wave ahead of us. Then, about half-way through the back stretch, a 2 blue caps swam right over me, literally! The Clyde wave started right behind us and caught me before my last turn. I had two guys literally swim right over me, and I think I accidentally copped a feel of another swimming near me. Yikes! Only a few had passed me, and they were FAST -- so I was knew I wasn't doing poorly. I started sighting on the finish arch and was feeling good -- I knew I was going to have a good swim. I got out of the water and my watch said 21: something -- I was hoping for 19:/20:. It was an uphill, sandy beach run to the timing mat. The clock time was 22:01. for 2:30/100. Was hoping for 2:20/100m -- especially since I had just done the lap at Twin Lakes in just under :20 on Friday -- and that wasn't race effort. Later, a lot of folks seemed to think the course was long -- but then everyone always thinks that when they don't achieve their desired race time.  Anway, this year 22:01. Last year: 23:37.  A little bummed.  :-/

I did not rush myself in transition. Upon entry to transition, they had baby pools of water to rinse the feet off (that was new this year). Yay! I got my gear on fast, but took time to reapply sun screen. Had a little problem getting my bike out of the rack with the water bottles on! Had to take them off to get my bike out, then put them back in. Weird design racks. Next year, maybe I need to mount my bike the other way? To exit transition you had to keep with the directional flow of traffic in a horseshoe shape. It didn't really affect me on the bike out because I was closest to the out... on the way back in I would have to completely go around the horseshoe to get back to my rack. Last year: 2:41. This year 3:01.

I exit transition and start the bike. For some reason the mount/dismount line was another 20 feet away from the transition exit -- up hill, of course! A lot of folks were struggling to get on their bikes right at the line, so I ran up past them with my bike and mounted well beyond the line where it was clear. I also noted that trying to run in my bike shoes, for the full horseshoe on my return would not be good. I decided I would take off my shoes once I got to transition and put them on my bars and run the horseshoe barefoot to my rack.

Once I got started on the bike, it took a good 3-5 miles to feel okay. I just kept remembering last year how bad I felt to start, and tried to be patient. I started feeling a little better, first in spurts it seemed, but it was probably the rollers that gave me that impression. I was riding unaware of my heart rate, because my Garmin was reporting wonky numbers... like 65 bpm, when I'm climbing consecutive rollers? Not sure what that was all about? I just did my best to ride by feel. I alternated Perpeteum & Nuun and just Water w/Nuun every 15 minutes on my ride. I did 3 scoops of Perpeteum (knowing I wouldn't drink it all, but extra just in case). Although I didn't need it, I did carry an extra bottle of water w/Nuun in case I launched one, or for some reason was out on the bike course longer than hoped/planned. I set my timer for every 15 minutes and took my nutrition as scheduled. By about 12 miles in I was feeling pretty good -- not great, but good. Probably should have eased up a bit at the end of my ride a little to get ready for the run, but I just started feeling good on the bike! The rollers were fun and as usual I was slow to climb (my right quad was causing me pain on the climbs) but killed it on the downhills. Even other riders were commenting -- we were all leap frogging. At the end though, I was able to pass those I had leap-frogged once and for all and tand finished ahead of several of them. Last year: 1:04. This year 1:02.

Hit the dismount line, entered transition and remembered to take my shoes off -- I put them on my handlebars and was off running the horseshoe to my rack. Nothing of interest here... got my socks and kix on quickly, race number, exchanged my helmet for my visor, poured a bottle of water over me (it was warm but worked enough), some more sunscreen, grabbed my hand held and off I went. Last year: 3:13. This year 3:31.

I chose not take the Garmin with me. My personal goal was to run the course and walk the aid stations (there were 4 of them). I didn't want to see my pace and get focused on it. I had heart rate, but that wasn't working right. I was a slow to start on the run, but eventually I got going after the first .25 mile. It felt slow and legs felt crappy, but I just tried to keep my goal in mind and moving forward at a non-walking pace. It was stupid hot by now, but tried to ignore it, thanking the volunteers and being happy, because I noticed, that the heat aside, I really was feeling better on this run than I have on any run, in any race. I took a swig of the Nuun from my hand held and spit it out. Ugh!! It was like drinking boiling water. I emptied it, took the lid off, and prepared to fill it at the first aid station. Another runner started running with me and chit-chatting... well, she was chatting, I was mostly listening. She told me I did great on the bike -- she was one of the ones I was leap-frogging and that her goal was to keep me in her sight... I thought that was funny. Then she said I was keeping her running! I had to laugh out loud at that. By the time I knew it, we were beyond mile 2 -- she said we had been running a 12:30 pace -- I knew my overall pace was a actually slower than her, because I started the run ahead of her. She said this was her IM pace! She told me how she ran this pace for CDA and I told her she lived my dream to do a 140.6 one day. She said she had no doubt I would. :). The run course was awesome. There were 4 aid stations with some kind of sports drink, ice water and iced down wash clothes. At each station I dumped two cups of water on my head, drank 2 waters and took two fresh wash clothes. I tied one around my neck and put one in my sports bra. Every aid station was well-equipped and I got new wash clothes each time. Add to that three spray stations! Nice cold water to run through!!! The 2nd to last part of the run course was the trail portion of the run course. It was well under a 1/4 mile, but it was a small descent and then a steep, up hill in the dirt and uneven ground -- just the kind of "yuck" you don't want to see in the last mile of your run. Nothing insurmountable, but when you look at it you just say, "Ugh!" The only redeeming value of this extra obstacle was the aid station was at the very top. I filled my hand held with ice water again and used it to drink and keep cool. I realize I won't be able to do that during a 70.3 -- I'll still need to take in electrolytes. But dang, it felt good for this 5k. I have to figure out what to do have cooler hydration on the run. I don't think freezing a bottle overnight will really make a difference at a 70.3 when I have a swim and bike for it to thaw out. Anyway, Jennifer and I finished the run course together, but split up and did our own thing coming into the home stretch. Right as I was entering the chute, some girl started puking her guts out right there. I either had to hurdle her or quickly go around. Poor thing! Last year: 45:55. This year 42:39 -- from a 14:49 pace/mile to a 13:45 pace/mile. I finished but felt good. Not that I wanted to run anymore... but I think I could have, if I had to.

Overall Time Last Year: 2:19:55
Overall Time This Year: 2:13:40

What I did right:
Kept patient and positive on the bike on the bike and run -- gave my legs a chance to come around.
Kept walking on the run limited to aid stations -- granted, there were 4 on this course, but still a first!
Nutrition is working so far!

What I need to do:
Figure out hydration solution for run before CLI... cuz it'll be hot!

I really want the opportunity to ride the Redman course several times on the CompuTrainer.

Slightly bummed about my swim time. I really, really felt good and thought it would be better. I'm completely okay with my bike and run because I know my legs were fatigued and to still be able to pull of better than last year in 100+ degree heat, is a sign of improvement. Being able to run that course and walk the aid stations is going to go far for my confidence... kind of like doing the Silverlake mile swim did for my open water swimming a couple years ago. I just needed to see myself do it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

53 and Counting

53 days to go until Redman. Just 53. 

53 days to go, and I finally made it 100% through a 3 mile track workout.  3 miles... and I have a 70.3 coming.  Of course the intensity is different, but one would think I would make it better through a 3 mile track workout than I have been lately.  In any case the workout was good.  Almost broke a 10 minute pace with a 10:01.  The rest of my 400's were also between 10:01 and 11:08 pace, with the exception of one which was 11:48.  Not sure what happened there...  maybe I stopped to bake a ham. 

I know those times aren't staggering fast, but when I reflect on last Summer's track work and fast was a 13 or 14 minute pace on 400's, I can certainly appreciate the improvement.  I know getting the right medical protocols in place to deal with my challenges was key.  I hope to continue to experience improvement.

Our Masters pool is closed for resurfacing, so I've had to go back to 24.  Ugh!  After swimming at the fitness center, I forgot how much I loathe the pool at 24.  MC picked me up at 5am and I got my swim done.  It was a good workout.  Seemed like a really quick 2500, because I was done just a couple minutes shy of an hour -- surprising since I had some IM in there and I can back or breast stroke.  For some reason though, my butterfly is coming along nicely.  I don't get that at all.

Looking at a 1:30 trainer ride today and a run/bike tomorrow and a 3200m open water swim on Friday. 

I was going take care of my trainer ride at lunch and stay late at work to make up :30 minutes, but I brought my gear, but not my bike.  How's that for forgetful?

52 1/2 days. :)