RTC/Smallwood Reports, Inspiration, and the Beezey

2 races into the season and 2 very interesting sets of results.

RTC Sprint – Richmond, VA

In keeping with most of our spring in the DC-area, this was a cold and somewhat yucky day outside – although no precipitation. I went to Richmond the day before and spent the night. Despite the drive to Richmond on a Friday afternoon….this was a good choice – better than having to wake up at 2 AM on race morning to drive south.

Swim – 800m pool swim – snakity-snake style – in waves of 10. We had to seed ourselves by estimated swim time. This was unusual but uneventful. Around 425m or so I was momentarily caught behind a breast-stroker in the middle of a lane but finally managed to get around him at the buoy. I can’t complain as my swim is never going to WOW anyone. I’ll probably never reach “dolphin” or even “fish” status during my life, but will keep striving for “better-than-lead-balloon” status. Out of pool – pretty damn fast T-1 and onto the bike….WHEEEEE.

Bike – 12.75 miles. This was FAST. I love the bike. Broken record on that one. Averaged 20mph and managed 2nd in my AG on the bike. This is where I need to do the work. It’s where I am strongest and need to give myself a nice little buffer for the run. I loved this bike course, although on a windy day – I think it would be a little brutal. It was perfect on race day and I wouldn’t have minded a few more loops on it. 🙂 T-2 – a little slow for my liking – I still don’t have those Yankz for shorter-distance races…but when my usual A-Races are longer distance – are they worth it?

Run – 5k. It was 2 pretty boring 1.5 mile loops around a parking lot and some tennis courts. Flat and fast though. For scenery, this isn’t the race to do. But for a first race of the season, brush off the cobwebs, I’d recommend it. Lots of wonderful people and a nice down-to-earth race director. Unlike some of the other races. The run was fine. I ran about as fast as I can go (at the moment) so I will take it. Only cramped up one time.

Overall – I was able to land my first podium (thanks to a strong bike and T-1). I never expect a podium. I race my paces and my goals. Anything else is just extra. I had created just enough buffer that the runners couldn’t quite catch up. It’s a tough age group and these girls (30-34) can run! I’ll never have a 21:00 5k even on fresh legs. Woof.

General Smallwood International – Indian Head, MD

Oh boy. This one was no joke. It might have been the toughest race I have ever done (and yes…this includes finishing an Ironman). It. Was. Pouring. Surprising? Not really, it had been forecast all week and spring has been abysmal here! No shocker.

I got to the site WAYYYYY too early. I could have slept another HOUR. But I am the person who follows the directions exactly and prefers the hurry-up-and-wait method as opposed to the scramble-last-minute. My teammate, Steph, arrived a few minutes later and we chatted a bit and stayed in our vehicles as long as possible to avoid the rain. I can’t say enough about how fabulous she is. She is an amazing athlete and person (who I might add picked up 3rd place OA and somehow managed a 20mph bike in CRAZY conditions)! She is a source of positive energy and certainly someone who provides me with triathlon inspiration as well as inspiration to fight personal/mental battles (maintaining grace & focus). Again, how lucky to be surrounded by great people.

Welllllllll – eventually the time came to grab packets, use the John, and set up…lost cause. Despite a poncho, rain jacket, etc.etc., I was drenched in about 3 minutes. Set up transition…everything in plastic bags. At least I would START with dry shoes…put on my wetsuit…did a little warm up and headed down to the lake.

IMG_9775Swim – I think the worst swim of my entire life. I managed to swim JUST shy of half-iron distance. Mind you – this was only an Oly. distance course. They had changed the swim from one loop to two loops (something about avoiding swamp beast – AKA seaweed). I still somehow managed to get it all up on my arms… Regardless, I was all over the place – see map (facepalm).
I was sighting the wrong buoy and swimming a diagonal…a boat guy had to tell me. Enter expletives. Lessons learned. Takeaways – when not bilateral breathing I really pull left hard. I used to pull right. WUT. IS. Happening? It was pathetic and all I could think about by the last turn was how much I wanted out of my wetsuit….I really need a sleeveless one. I HATE how restrictive mine is around the shoulders. I’m not in WI anymore, how often will I need a full sleeve wetsuit? That wiggly man wasn’t getting any closer and I just kept PULLING. Almost 1.2 miles later, I was onto transition. T-1, long run, overall – I was fine with it considering the conditions.

Bike – Rarely do I not have a great time on the bike. I did not have a great time on the bike. It poured for almost the entire 24ish miles. I knew it was a hilly course and was ready to tackle hills. I had been spending some time doing hills lately. But the roads were so wet and I just couldn’t push it like I wanted to. I was worried about my brand new back tire – it was either that or race on the old bald tire. Lose, lose. Lesson learned…get new tire more than 2 days before race. Just shy of 17mph average. This is slow for me, but considering the conditions I … well no … I wasn’t pleased with this. Some element of fear held me back. I wanted to be smart, but I think pushing a bit more would have been safe. Not sure. All I know was that I got off the bike and was drenched, frozen (I was wearing a cycle jacket but it didn’t matter), and stiff. I wasn’t in aero much on the ride and was very stiff. I kept trying to loosen up but just had to focus on areas of standing water, trying to avoid places where I might take a digger. I couldn’t relax at all on the bike.

Run – The run was okay. And I actually did hit a partial goal on this one. I wanted to land an average somewhere between my tempo pace and 10:00 miles. I did. A few times I had to lower my heart rate as I felt myself getting tight. I am learning where my heart rate needs to be to prevent cramping. So even though I had to slow it a few times, I didn’t cramp. When I cramp it’s all over and I am slowed to a halt while I try to stretch it out. I was happy with the way I managed this and just hope to continue to get that heart rate lower at faster paces.

Overall, it was my worst olympic distance performance ever. I knew I wouldn’t be anywhere near having the best performance of my life – still, I had a weird mix of disappointment and achievement. I didn’t really know how to feel. It was weird, because aside from the swim, I felt that I had a decent race for me, given the conditions. I’ll never be able to blitz on the run, but there were times when I felt really strong…and for the first time, a 10k didn’t seem long. Just — a really interesting mix of emotions. Happy to be one of the 165 who actually decided to show up – more space in transition for me (although that didn’t stop me from coming back in T-2 and seeing some guy’s bike in my spot…*insert eye roll* I was too stiff and drenched to be very upset about this). I learned a lot out on that course and will do that one again. I think in nicer conditions, it would be beautifully scenic.

Inspiration

IMG_3658Today, my friend and fabulous Iron Sherpa takes on her first half-Iron and I am so proud. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to run together on a regular basis, but it was our weekly Monday afternoon run sessions that provided me with motivation, inspiration, and a truly amazing friendship. Always an adventure on those runs and a world of fun stories. While I miss running with her, we always make sure to get in a few training sessions whenever I get back to WI – and now that she is a triathlete, we swim together too!! I remember the days of, “I’ll never do a triathlon”- Beezey. But now, she is working her way up to Ironman and there is no doubt in my mind that she will dominate her half-Iron and I can’t wait to be there for her first Ironman. She is one of those people that can and will do anything she puts her mind to. A fantastic weight-loss journey, several personal life obstacles, and venison tacos that are out of this world – she is truly someone I admire and adore. I can’t wait to keep following her adventures!

Food

IMG_9776Last parting thoughts. As someone without much of a sweet tooth who prefers pickles and beef jerky on long rides over anything sweet, I am always looking for things I might actually ENJOY eating while training. Honey Stinger is starting to come up with some not-so-sweet stuff which is good. I downed some GU during yesterday’s race and almost gagged it back up…not because I felt ill…but just because I am so tired of putting that stuff in my body. My taste buds can’t handle it anymore. I want food. Digestible food…that isn’t sweet. But that will still provide calories and sustenance. Enter: A couple of new things to try. New toys. Feed Zone Cookbooks. Looking forward to this week’s food prep.

I feel it is going to be a wonderful racing season. Clear mind, clearer goals, and the continued hope for better race weather.

“I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable. I am an original.”

-Hamilton: An American Musical

 

 

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Patience, Anticipation, X-Training

After a small hiatus for the holidays, I am back to blogging in full swing. I am currently in that phase where I am feeling very antsy. Technically my IM race training does not begin until the week of April 20th (still almost 2 months!!!!!). It’s killing me – especially as I see other friends gearing up for their seasons for earlier A races in the schedules. I am trying to tell myself to keep enjoying this time I have for cross-training and boxing because that will all end soon. I have been doing some pretty good off-season base building but just want to get cracking with actual IM training. I know I can’t start too soon or I will burn out, but there is also a feeling of “Holy cow, will I be ready for this when the time comes?”

October 3 is very far away, and I know I’ll be fine as long as I put in the training time. I have started to cut back on my less tri-specific workouts (boot camps, other miscellaneous workouts) so I can really start focusing on how my body will deal with the recovery time. Also, I have dropped those workouts in favor of more Range Of Motion exercises and am using that time for longer stretches of injury prevention. Now that my back is back (ha!) at 100% I just want to get rolling. I continue to diligently perform my back exercises to prevent injury, and I find that boxing has helped my core strength. All planks all day. But really….foam rolling, range of motion and even injury prevention weightlifting have taken the place of some of my cross training activities. I am a fan of Ben Greenfield’s strength training programs for triathletes. I feel he spends a nice amount of time focusing on tri-specific muscles and how to best keep them and the surrounding joints healthy.

Today though, was one of those days that I really struggled to find motivation. I didn’t get up early enough to get on my bike trainer (well – the alarm rang but the body decided to remain a lazy slug) and I also skipped my evening boxing class. I did manage to get a run-commute home from work, but even that felt like a chore. I am not sure what hit me. But when I changed into my run gear at work, I just sat on the floor for a bit trying to get up the mental strength to venture outside. Then, even when I got outside, it took me a good 5-10 minutes of walking/simple drills before I even wanted to run. I thought about just walking home. Finally I sucked it up and started running. THEN….when I was about 2 minutes from home – I stopped running. What? Why did I do that? I came to a dead stop for about a minute because I just didn’t want to run. Standing 3 blocks from home with my hands on my hips I had to silently yell at my brain to get it together. I spit out a nasty loogie in disgust with myself then sprinted home the final few blocks. I am trying to put my finger on the problem. I have been getting plenty of sleep, eating well, maybe not drinking enough water, but it was just one of those days when my brain was somewhere else.

I suppose these types of days are good for me. It’s why I decided against evening boxing. Was my body telling me to just take it easy? I normally can’t wait to get on my bike, enjoy the beautiful crisp winter air, or punch the stuffing out of a heavy bag. I swam so strong last night that I was surprised by today’s disappointment. The mystery continues and it is now 10 minutes past my bedtime. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s swim and lifting session bring me some renewed ambition. After all — I haven’t even started my training yet!  LET’S GET THIS THING GOING!!!  Or maybe I just need to remind myself of the following:

preparing-extraordinary

Racing Milestones and the Road to Recovery

A few months ago, I finally made the decision. I’ve been involved in the sport of triathlon since 2008 and I decided to go for the big one. When I first started racing, the thought never crossed my mind. IRONMAN. I started triathlon when I moved to a new city – a way to meet new people who shared a similar interest in fitness. I never had any intention of ever attempting an IM. Plus, just finishing one sprint was a challenge for me. I never swam much to begin with, and the open water experience is what keeps many from attempting the sport. I am still apprehensive every time I enter that water at the beginning of a race and still say in my head “Good, I am alive” when I exit the water. I had always been active, mostly in soccer…year round…and then general fitness in college. I was never into anything fancy. After graduating college, I moved to a new city and got into boxing at a gym. There, I made some new friends who were all getting ready to race their first triathlon. Joining the ranks, I too decided to take on the challenge – The Pewaukee Sprint in Wisconsin (still a favorite race to this day)! I even managed to get some co-workers interested in the sport and now the company I used to work for has a triathlon team with their own personalized Hal-Leonard tri suits! 🙂 Proud.

Naturally, my first swim happened to be cancelled due to algae in the lake. I immediately signed up for a sprint that was happening 2 weeks later. I wasn’t going to do all that training and not do an actual triathlon. 2 weeks later, I raced and got the bug. I’ve never looked back and triathlon has become part of my lifestyle.

Now, 6 years later, I find myself again in a new city, making new friends. My first triathlon in this city – Nation’s Tri – also had the swim portion cancelled this year. Irony. But this year, after several sprint and Olympic races and one half-Iron under the belt, I bit the bullet and signed up for IM Maryland. October 3, 2015. After volunteering at the finish line this year and watching the athletes, I was reminded about how much I loved the sport. It is a great way to meet new people, but training also provides much-needed “me” time, especially on the long bikes and runs. It offers me the chance to reflect, think, and focus. It is a wonderful way to explore and to enjoy the outdoors. It is also the personal challenge and the anticipation of knowing I am going to push my body to the limits. I hope to accomplish something that few can say they have done. Now is the time. I have time in my life to devote hours to training and may never again have the opportunity. The challenge is mine. But to successfully finish, I need the support of my family and friends. While some may think the goal is foolish, it is those nay-sayers who won’t have a place in my heart. I have already been inundated with support from those who will root for me and offer understanding when I say “No I can’t, I have to train.” Or “Yes I can do that, but only after I finish my bike ride.” “Sure I will come, but I need to bring my own food because I have to eat healthy fueling foods.” It will be a wonderful year.

However, almost immediately thereafter, I was sidelined with a back injury that forced me to stop biking (on my road bike) and running. Just like that I was told – nope. Stop everything and fix this right now. I have never had an injury that required this type of dedicated physical therapy — aside from numerous knee dislocations back in the day that probably SHOULD have required some PT. So instead of jumping into a tri-specific off-season plan, I have been strengthening my back and focusing on small movements and excruciatingly long workouts that have little to do with triathlon. However, last week I was given the go ahead to run 1 mile….ONE. One mile and no more. This week it was two. And no more. It’s a long way to go to get to 26.2. I have cried, I have punched pillows, and I have laughed in frustration BUT with three more weeks of scheduled therapy to go, I must admit my back feels stronger and my swimming is most definitely getting better (as that was really all I could do there for a while).

The injury has made me nervous that I won’t be ready for the race in time, but then I remind myself that I still have a little over 10 months to go. The mileage will increase and so will the strength in my back. So off I will go. Slowly upping my mileage through the winter with my trusty thumb loops and motivated by gifts from two wonderfully supportive friends. The picture and cowbell sit with all my triathlon gear so I don’t forget to stay determined.

photo 2  photo-2

“It’s always the athlete’s responsibility to keep everything in check. We have to listen to our bodies — sometimes the hardest part is to back off and rest.” – Julie Dibens