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.

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!

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
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.

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.

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

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.

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

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. 

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's Time!

Wait... that sounded like my water just broke!

I mean it's GO-time!  :)

It's been non-stop action here at the Toler house since the weekend.  Between work, prep and packing I"m looking forward to getting a chance to relax before my race!  Sounds funny, eh? I'm heading out to Oklahoma today for Redman's 70.3 distance on Saturday.

I'm excited and I feel like I'm going to have a good race.

Today is just checking in to the hotel, a trip out to the local grocery and relaxing.  Tomorrow will be an open water swim, Friday bike check and bike check-in.

While triathlon is an individual sport, it takes a village to get an athlete to the hardest part, the Strart line.  Special thanks to my coaches OC and MC, the healing talents of Dr. Taylor, JJ Spencer and Robin!  My BAMily too, but most of all my Hubs for being so supportive in every way possible (and acting as my personal bike mechanic)... not to mention Cassie, the best cheer leading Daughter a Mom could have! ♥

More to come. :)

If you want to, they're offering athlete tracking this year.  I'm number 1385.  Check here Saturday morning and plug in my bib number to follow me!  http://www.redmantriathlon.com

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Good Read

Digging Deep to Your Best Ironman Marathon
by Sue Aquila for Endurance Corner

Obviously these tips can apply to any distance race!  Again with the "being present" stuff.  :)


I've been in similar situations to what the author describes. For me, it goes back to making sure you're giving your full, best or appropriate effort at every moment.

When I did my first half marathon, I had to ask myself some of these same questions she poses in her article.  For unknown reasons I would just walk a little longer on a walk interval.  My brain would tell me I felt horrible, but there were no other indicators that would corroborate what I *thought* I was feeling. 

I love the point she makes about the Finishers at Ironman.  How may have shuffled through most of the marathon, but all of a sudden are able to dig deeper past anything they felt earlier, and run that chute all the way in -- in good form and smiles too!  Yet to see them an hour earlier, they themselves may have been contemplating their physical ability to finish.

The Finish line, in the last hours of an Ironman race, is amazing, inspiring and an motivational event for me.  It's my favorite part!  I dare anyone to watch the last finishers of the night and not find themselves thinking how cool it would be to do a triathlon. Spectating at IMKY in 2010 was just an awesome day!  So awesome I wrote a non-participant, volunteer, race report!  Aside from MC finishing her race, the end of the evening proved to have memorable highlights for me...
"...we went to the end of the finishers chute; just before all the bright lights and music get loud. We cheered runners on.  These athletes were spent and their faces showed every ounce of determination they had.  It was amazing how most of them came to life and donned a smile twice their normal size.  It was great to see them realize... I'm going to finish!!!

One guy in particular, I don't know his race number, came toward me for a high five.   Clearly he was talking himself through finishing.  I don't think he was delirious, but I do think he was completely spent.  He jogged past me to the city sidewalk. He totally dodged the chute and was now running on the sidewalk.  It was just 100 yards to the finish, but he wasn't going to cross the line if he continued.  I literally sprinted when I realized what he had done and then realized he didn't know what he had done.  I collected him and sent him up the chute to Finish.  The time was about 16:51 or 16:52... I can't remember for sure, but I have an idea of who it was looking at the results.  So Joseph Prudhomme of Miami, if  in this small Internet world you find this story -- Awesome job!  Not to toot my horn, because I'm glad I was there, but could you imagine if after almost 17 hours of effort and months of training to not officially finish?  Oy!!

I never saw Hammer girl* finish, but Mel said she saw her on the course and figured Hammergirl was at mile 18 when Mel was at 23.  Mel said she looked good.  I"m sure she finished after Mel, but before we came back down at 11pm. 

Lastly, there was a female athlete who approached the chute at like 16:50-something,  She had on a NJ Triathlon jersey, so you know I had to show a fellow Jersey girl some love, right?  She wasn't young, but she wasn't old... I felt like if you saw her on the street you'd never suspect she was a triathlete.  Anyway, she was looking really spent (who didn't look spent?) so I talked to her and ran along side of her from the sidewalk and she started to pick-up the pace and run again.  Unfortunately the clock ready 17:01 by the time she had crossed.  After that, the music was turned off and they start breaking down the race. If you finish after 17 hours your an Ironman in your heart, but not on the results page.

As we walked back to the hotel I saw my fellow Jersey girl exiting the Finisher's chute.  She was completely alone.  No friends or family.  I was curious if she had finished (I was glad to see she did have a medal, but her results were not on the results page).  She was walking ahead of us, stopping occasionally to rest.  I didn't want to say anything to her, well, because, I didn't want to bother her if she didn't want to be bothered.  Leave it to OC though... he just struck up a conversation and told her good job.  She smiled and continued on.  I'm not sure I would have been all that talkative either.  *hugs* to that lady from Ocean Grove, NJ "
*Hammer girl was a girl I took interest in because, quite honestly, we had the same body type.  I was hoping to see her finish!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Anxiety Gap

Just read this on Facebook...
Psychotherapist Fritz Pearls said:
"Anxiety is the gap between the now and the later."
Where is your attention? Do you live in "the later" more than the now?
Then you are trapped in your thoughts, because what is the future other than a thought in your head?  Only your thoughts can make you anxious!  Bring your attention to the now. Seeing, listening, breathing, feeling the aliveness inside your body. Welcome home.
With love,  Eckhart.[Tolle]
Forgive me if it all seems a little tree-huggin' hippy for you, but I dig anything that keeps me "present."  I make my best choices when I am present.  Before you know it, life will pass you by and you lose time you just can't get back.

Maybe Just a Little...

Okay, so maybe I am getting a wee bit excited.  FINALLY!  I will apologize ahead of time for the random, scattered thoughts I'm about to share.  In my mind they are all related.  LOL 

I was beginning to think the new pre-race apprehension I have experienced with my last several races was going to follow me to this race as well.  Being side-lined for a couple weeks was super-bad for my head, but I'm coming out of my funk.  I did take a moment to remember all challenges I had.  Between surgery and injuries, it is enough to make anyone feel less than positive about what is to come.  However, after a good training weekend, I'm secure knowing I am not only capable of finishing, but definitely capable of doing better than I did before.

The plan now is to focus on all things positive and the things I can do to ensure I'm prepared and ready for race day.  I've got checklists and packing to do, and it always seems like it's so much more when it's a destination race. It can be a little overwhelming, but fun too.

I think it's great to do destination races with a bunch of other athletes, and we have something like 22 athletes going between my tri club and coach's athletes!  It's going to be good times, for sure.  I love the camaraderie, the spirit, the BuzZzZzZzZ, but it is all too easy to lose focus on one's plan.  For me, I work best when I rely upon myself -- take control of the things I actually have control of.  Get myself where I need to be, when I need to be there.  My itinerary is done, which has proven to work for me, so I am not just following a randomly assigned plan for the sake of convenience or doing things as a group.  Sounds a little snooty and maybe anti-social, but it's just me taking care of my business.Word  :)

My training buddy isn't able to race because of an injury, which is a complete bummer, because he was on pace to have a killer first 140.6.  While I feel for him, but also applaud his desire and spirit to still come to the race to provide support and root everyone on come race day. He is being smart about his choice, because there will be another 140.6 for him.  Very soon.

I get excited about the unknown.  Tapering has always been a thing I am never sure about.  When I first started this triathlon, I never got that "springy" feeling in my legs I hear so many athlete's describe. Occasionally I feel like "I gotta go do something!", but never just springy, full of energy! LOL  So there is always worry in the back of my head that says, "Did I rest enough?"  "Will my legs feel loose or heavy as iron on race day?"

It is a strange mix of having confidence in your plan, the hours of training, and anticipation of the unknown.  It's having faith at the start of the bike that once I get a few miles in the legs will feel better.  It's knowing full well that the first 2-3 miles of the run will start out tough, but it will get better.  It is keeping focus; doing what I can do, to the best of my ability, in each moment.

No complacency on the swim, no coasting downhills on the bike and running smart.

Whatever the day brings, I know I'll bring my best.  I'll roll with the punches.  I know you never can be 100% ready for everything that comes your way during a race, but I also know one doesn't have to run an 7 minute mile to be "quick on your feet" to overcome challenges either.

OC once told me, "From the moment you decide an Ironman race is your future, even if it's years from now, that's the very moment you start training for it."

Every race I finish, every race I might falter, brings me closer to that ultimate goal.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bullets; Because I Need Order!

So much has been going on.  Forgive the randomness of this entry!
  • Work has been ridiculously stupid.  My help desk person and I have been at complete odds with one another, which really isn't a news flash, but her complacency and lack of desire to work as a team came to a head.  Had to *officially* deal with the issues.  I just don't understand some people.  I know I can't change her, but she's not offering any ideas for improvement.  I know where this is headed.  I don't like it. On top of this a server crashed this past week I think I put in close to 60 hours this past week, plus my training!  Somehow I was still able to see my family.
  • Hubs is having a tough time at work too.  He's having to reel his people in and get them working in a more organized fashion.  He's stressed.  I'm stressed.  Communication can be hairy and I hurt his feelings this week and had to apologize.  An upcoming "A" race, 2 Triathletes, each with full time jobs and co workers who make it more difficult than it needs to be, an almost 7 year old and a list of tasks and chores a million times longer than you'll ever have time for.  It's all just a recipe for disaster, but somehow we manage to walk the tight rope, even if "I'm sorry" comes a little late.  :(
  • Injury.  After 2 weeks of treatment at another chiro's office, while my chiro was on a well deserved island vacation, my injury wasn't getting any better.  I was hopeful because I heard good things about this practice.  I became frustrated easily because I made an appointment with a specific doctor and then when I got there they did a switch-a-roo on me.  I'm sure the Doc who saw me is great, but his treatment plan didn't work for me  1 week of no running (4 weeks out from my A race)?  Okay, I'll listen.  I go back a week later (and 3 treatments later) and he says no running for a another week?  Oh, hell no!
  • Soooo, I was stressing over the no running thing and this new friend, Jenn, who is a therapist/specialist with MAT (Muscle Activation Therapy), offered to help me with my injury. I saw her for a treatment, and she said,"Run!" So I ran on Saturday! I definitely didn't hurt as much and it was nothing like what I had been experiencing. In some ways I actually felt stronger. My regular chiro, Dr. Taylor,  is  back in town and agreed that running should be okay (so 2 out of 3 professionals agree!), but wants me to come in to do some cold laser on my glute. If you need some MAT in the Houston area, look Jenn S. up here on DailyMile :)
  • Went and saw Doc Taylor for some ART and cold laser.  I'm feeling a gazillion times better.  So grateful to her and Jenn!
  • Today's training went well.  Practiced my pre-race breakfast and was right on the money with my ride nutrition (unlike my ride last week!).  Today I went 53 solo miles in 3:09. Goal was not speed, but to keep control of my HR and stay in my 70.3 HR zone.  I only spent 9 minutes total above my zone, and that included climbing the Kemah bridge.  I was pretty happy with my ride overall.  Headed out for transition run after and no glute pain!  Just my normal knee twinges that generally dissipate the longer I run.  
  • My race wheels and TT Helmet both worked well.  Seems just a tiny bit silly to be riding race wheels when the bike's "engine" is so big, but hey, we got a great deal and Hubs and I can share them.  Every second adds up on the long haul.  I just need a black seat, super wing and bottle holders.  Cuz ya know it's all about how it looks. :)
  •  I walked in from my bike ride this morning and my kitchen is full of bikes.  Mine, Darren's and yesterday we went to the local bike store to pick up valve stems for the race wheels and came home with a new bike for Cass-a-frass. We promised her a new ride when she learned to ride the two-wheeler. She got an Electra Hawaii.  Even the tread on the wheels are Hawaiian flowers.  So cool.  Incidentally, she pointed out, "Mommy, we can have the same bike!  They have one in your size too."
  • Here's to the taper... massage coming on the 13th.  Yyyyyes! 

Perfect Timing

I just found this draft blog and never published it.  Amazing timing... with my race BuzZzZz setting in.This was actually from 2010, after I finished my first half marathon. 

I had found this quote:
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."
Then my coach had sent me the following.  And yeah, it's my blog... I can toot my horn.  :)
Great job yesterday. I know you had a new issue you had to work through. You managed it and still did an amazing job. Even though it wasn't your plan, you did fantastic.  Once you sit down for a minute and look back at where you were and compare it to where you are today, you are someone's hero! Keep up the great focus - be proud of what you did yesterday - learn from your successes - fix the mishaps - look forward - have fun and lets get ready for April!!  I enjoyed seeing you run yesterday and look forward to a great season!  YC
Then my other coach sent me this: 
Great job. You should start writing all this down. You are going to write a book that is going to help a lot of people someday (soon). This is a feat that some people would never consider starting from where you did. You need to share this. M

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Three-day Weekend!

Well, just about every triathlete I know is excited for the three-day weekend!  Not just the extra-day off from work, but the extra free day of training! Kinda twisted thinking, eh?

I've been restricted from running this past week -- until next Wednesday.  My ITB is really aggravated because my glute is so darned tight.  I've been receiving massage and ART treatment and things seem to be a little better.  At least now I can walk up and down stairs with little to no pain.

Needless to say my 2 hour run was a no-go this weekend.  Instead I did a bike/swim/bike.  MC (My Coach) and TB (Training Buddy) road with me out to a lake almost 24 miles away and we swam for 30 minutes, then came home.  The wind was blowing and it was a pretty rough ride home, but I survived it.  TB did too, in spite of his injuries.

It was the first time I've ridden *with* MC.  He's just stupid fast, but I thought it was nice of him just to take a day to ride with a couple of his athletes he doesn't ordinarily get to ride with.  I think I was more self-conscious about it.  I just felt bad he might be wasting a perfectly good training day for himself, settling for 16/17 mph when he could be going 23/24 mph on his own and even faster with a group!

My nutrition was horrible on this ride for some reason.  I mean, I planned accordingly, but I think I was so preoccupied with keeping up that I neglected to drink and hear my reminder alarm on my watch!  Have to be better than that.  I was 7 lbs. down after my ride!  That's not good.

I was paying for it today -- I've been feeling a little off.  Went to volunteer for a race today and came home and took a 2 hour nap!  I've just felt lethargic all day.

Tomorrow is a holiday, so there's no Masters swim.  I have to swim on my own and do a 1 hour easy bike ("no data!" just ride).

In other news, Darren found a deal on a set of Zipp 404 Z4's.  We had to drive about an hour and 15 minutes to get them on the other side of Houston, but it was a pretty good deal.  They need a little TLC, but appear to be true and will serve us well.  Nothing a little clean-up and some new decals won't make look better.  I'm excited -- it was completely unexpected too!  I did promise Darren I wouldn't pink them out, so that he could still use them (an not lose his "man card").  LOL

I also got a deal on a new aero/TT helmet.  I decided to take the plunge on one, before we got the race wheels.  I'm looking forward to my new Rudy Project Wingspan Helmet.  I've talked to a number of folks and they love them.  We'll see how it goes.