One…or Two for the Record Books

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The 2014 race season has begun and it has been one for the record books, in more ways than one.

images-2First there was the half-marathon (out-of-town!) that was cancelled after standing in a local restaurant watching the electrical monsoon on radar from 6-10am….HOPING to get a break in the weather, long enough, to eek out a 5k. Nope. Didn’t happen. I would’ve had better luck racing a kayak. This was a first for me.

 

A PR in race cancellation. Go ME!

I suppose the first time is always the hardest.

I still don’t like talking about it. Quite frankly, just thinking about it still pisses me off. Mother Nature and I have been butting heads for well over a year now and it’s getting a little tiresome. Sadly, it’s not likely to change anytime soon either.

1618654_704801236219574_290373926_nNow I’m left to running a local half marathon in 2 weeks. It’s going to be hilly and it’s going to be windy, as it’s along the beach then up and over a few bridges. Despite simply using these 13.1 glorious miles as a fine-tuning event for my 70.3 in early May (pace, nutrition…ie no taper for me), there’s no way to enter into it without some serious reservation. I know the route well and it’s going to be hard. A lot harder than the one that got rained out! So wish me luck and for Gods sake, some decent weather! That which doesn’t kill you, blah…blah, blah 🙂

sigh…

On a more cheery note, last weekend I finally DID get to race and even set a few records of the right kind!

I officially kicked off 2014 (better late than never!) with a duathlon!!! If you know anything about me, you know I find it totally rude to exclude a swim from any event. I’d just assume swim-run-swim or swim-bike-swim or just SWIM as opposed to anything else, but race directors never seem to approach me for ideas. Go figure??!!

And so the 2014 opener was just that….a RUDE wake up to the season, but man it REALLY felt good to race again!

It was a short event at 2-16-2, but it was challenging. It was about an hour north of the coast and it chocker full of rolling hills. I did several of my long 80-90 mi+ Ironman training rides/bricks out there so I know the roads oh-so-well!  As a side note, it was also the first time I got to take out this lady and put her to good use, along with a new fit which happens to be drastically different from what is seen here…

All KINDS of changes going on!

Jenns Bike

Recovering from Ironman has been a very interesting process with more ups and downs than I could ever try to explain. Regaining any semblance of speed has been difficult and frustrating. One day I’d have some, the next I was too tired to hit my warm up swim set. No way to describe it besides….Ridiculous. It was right around the first part of March that I began to notice a difference though. I could effectively hold a variety of paces, in all 3 disciplines, day after day. I was recovering better, I wasn’t feeling as sore and beat up, my mood was better….and I WANTED to race agin. The apathy was lifting. The bad case of “whatevers” that had seemed to plague me for months was waning. Almost 4 months after IMFL, I finally felt recovered.

And the timing couldn’t have been better!

There really isn’t a lot to say about a duathlon and if done correctly, not much time to think about the finer details much less write about them.

Run hard…not too hard though. Build the bike leg to the point the legs feel like they’re going to spontaneously implode, all while wondering how in the HELL are they going carry you through another run. Then run one last time…like your life depends on it.

Last weekend, I’m proud to say I nailed it. I’m not the best pacer in the world and that recklessness is magnified when I have to sprint. It’s something I’ve been working very diligently on across all three sports this off-season. I’ve been far less dependent on the technology and more on me. I still have the Garmin, power meter, and all that other “stuff”, but I’ve better learned what those numbers “feel” like. More importantly, I’m learning the art of “building” to a certain pace, speed, or wattage. It’s not an easy skill to achieve, but the benefits are well worth it.

My 1st and 2nd run were within 10 secs of each other and I rode well above my FTP for 50 minutes or so. In layman’s terms: I’ve gotten a little stronger, a little faster, and maybe even a little smarter. Naturally, I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be (particularly on the bike), but for the first time…maybe ever…I walked away feeling like I executed a race properly. Not perfectly, but I acted correctly…with purpose and intent. A definite first for me!

My reward….

I earned 1st in the 40-49 AG and received an awesome gift card to use at our local tri shop! Keep the medals and trophies…gimme cash to spend!! woo-hoo!

More importantly though, I finally got the chance to see where I am now, almost 5 months out from completing Ironman. I recovered really well from the duathlon which was the biggest indicator that I’m finally healed up, back to 100%, and ready to go full throttle once again.

Now if Mother Nature will just cut me a little slack…

But as I listen to the rain pelting the bayou behind the house and wind whipping the trees that doesn’t seem to be in cards anytime soon!

That which doesn’t kill you…..

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Ironman Florida 2013- The Day

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The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing – Henry Ford
 
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Ironman Florida has come and gone and like most races, there has been a lot to process.

On the whole, the day was pretty good. There were no real mechanical problems, my nutrition was perfect for the most, and my training left me feeling more than capable throughout the event.

However, there are ALWAYS issues and the longer the race, the more ones (errr…my) weaknesses tend to effect the overall outcome. My biggest problem, during any race, is moving through the course with a sense of urgency. This, once again, proved to be my nemesis and left me crossing the finish line feeling very frustrated with myself.

Here’s how it all shook out….

We headed out, for Panama City Beach, on Wednesday afternoon. The drive down proved uneventful and that evening we hooked up with a friend, had dinner, and hit the grocery store.

Thursday we slept in and eventually made our way down to registration. I spent some time at the expo and then it was back to the condo to pack up our race bags. Our support crew was heading in that afternoon and I didn’t want any distractions as I got everything in its proper place.

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Bags packed and bowed for easy identification along the course

We woke Friday to an approaching cold front and along with it some very nasty wind, torrential rain, and high surf advisories. Any notions I had of a quick little swim and/or ride were quickly abandoned as the risk simply didn’t outweigh the benefit. Eventually we decided the rain was not going to stop anytime soon, so we braved the elements to check our bikes and drop off our transition bags.

This is NOT your sunny Florida!

This is NOT your sunny Florida!

Oh what fun! 🙂

With the bikes and bags taken care of we settled in for the rest of the afternoon/evening. We kept one eye on the weather and the other on whatever movie my husband could find….

My mom and dad had arrived the day before armed with our 16 yr old and a enough food to feed an army. It was so nice to not worry about what to eat and to also KNOW exactly what we were eating. There are not enough thank you’s for their hard work in keeping us all fed, hydrated, and relaxed….no easy task for sure!

Just around sunset the weather broke and we finally had a shred of hope for the following day….

sunset the night prior

sunset the night prior…water still choppy

I headed to bed around 9 pm feeling calm, confident, and ready to finally work out again. All week I’d been feeling very good. I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t have any anxiety. But the extra rest was leaving me stiff and achy. I was ready to MOVE!

RACE DAY

I woke up at 3:30 am….10 minuted before my alarm. I had slept the entire night. This is very unusual for me. I still can’t decide if maybe a little bit of nervous energy might have been a good thing….

Next Time..

We got breakfast, headed down to drop our special needs bags, load our bikes, pump tires, and then went back to the condo. The seas were still somewhat rough and my husband has an awful time with seasickness. He threw up throughout the entire 1.2 mile swim in May, in these very waters, and they were not NEAR as turbulent. He becomes violently ill when he scuba dives, participates in OWS events, and goes deep-sea fishing if conditions are not 100% ideal, so we knew today was definitely going to be an issue. So at approximately 6 am, an hour before we were to get in the water, I was giving him an IV dose of Zofran (anti-nausea drug used after surgery, during chemotherapy treatments, etc..) in hopes of making a bad situation tolerable. He has tried everything else, over the years, so this was our very last resort.

On a wing and a prayer…

side note: this actually helped reduce, but not eliminate the nausea and vomiting attributed to his seasickness. He had 2 minor episodes throughout the entire 2.4 miles but no residual problems once he got on the bike. He still managed a 1:15 swim.

IV meds in, wetsuits on, and we were off to the beach. I was still feeling good, not nervous or anxious. I was actually a little tired. It was a very weird.

Once we got to the beach, we made our way to the water’s edge. The waves that SOUNDED large from the road, were enormous up close. So much for the winds flipping to the north and laying the water down. It seems Mother Nature didn’t get the memo. We did get in for a few minutes to simply get wet and acclimated to the water temperature. There was no way you could do a warm up “swim” in those conditions.

SWIM:

The 1st loop, of this swim, was the most terrifyingly insane thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life.

I knew I wasn’t going to swim my predicted 1:10 because it was going to take forever to make my way thought the breakers. I elected to place myself in the back of the 1:10-1:20 group. Once we got into the water, I realized this had been a very bad decision.

This was a self-seed mass start. I honestly believe a straight up mass start would’ve been a better option. It would’ve allowed people to place themselves in a more strategic position, along the beach, and as a result made for an overall safer swim. I originally wanted to start to the far right of the buoys and let the current pull me into position, but I was unable to do so since that was where they placed the slower groups. Then there was the fact that the self-seeding process was a nightmare in and of itself. It seemed no one took into account WHERE they were swimming (the Gulf of Mexico is NOT a lake!), the conditions they were facing, and how that would affect their ability/swim time.

The water was rough, but these people were out of freaking control. The didn’t know their asses from a hole in the ground once the first breaker slammed them to the sand. It was downhill from there.

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The contact was brutal. I was punched, jabbed, dunked, elbowed, shoved, pushed, sat on (yes someone sat on me like a surfboard!), and kicked the entire first 1.2 miles.

I was about 300 yards in when someone grabbed the back of my head and forced it under water. As soon as I came up for air, someone grabbed my legs and pulled me under again. I got a few strokes under me before I was punched in the left eye socket. I had an excruciating headache until I was able to run across the beach and re-adjust my goggles before the 2nd loop.

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When I could find space to swim, I felt great. But those moments were few and far between during that 1st lap. During this time, I was having serious doubts. I’m a fairly capable swimmer and I have no open water issues, but that morning I was scared for my life. I questioned whether or not I’d be able to do another 1.2 miles like this. As I was spiraling deeper into worry and despair, I thought back to the words of my coach…..

“there will be ups and downs along the way and the bad patches will pass. The key is to just keep moving forward….”

So as the mayhem continued, so did I. And I found it particularly ridiculous that I was having such a bad “patch” 15 minutes into a very long day!! All I could think was, “Great, wonder what’s next??!!”

hmm, I wonder….

As I made my way to shore, wishing I was doing a 70.3 so the swim would be over, I was able to find sand and stand. I thanked GOD that I was still alive, ripped off my goggles, and my headache was gone….just like that!

AHHh, relief!

I had a gel flask in my wetsuit so I pulled it out, chugged it, and then pitched it as I ran across shore. Then I remembered my watch….

35 minutes for the 1st 1.2miles….Not bad considering I just swam through hell and back.

I rinsed my eyes with water (from the aid station) since I’d been swimming with a google full of salt, rinsed my mouth, said a prayer, and got back in for the 2nd loop.

It was like a totally different course. The water was still rough, but I wasn’t having the shit kicked out me and fighting for my life. It made for a MUCH more pleasant and relaxing swim. So much so, that I had to remind myself at the turn to stop lolly-gagging and get a move on.

Made it to shore once again and was feeling SPECTACULAR! I headed up the sand to the wetsuit strippers and then off to transition.

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

T1:

I grabbed my bag and ran into the changing tent. I didn’t sit, but I did a full change….which I will not do again. Trying to get a tri-top on while wet is a time-consuming task.

Helmet on, shoes on, sunscreen on, sunglasses in back pocket, crap back in bag, and out the door!

How this takes me so long, I have no idea. I have a really bad concept of time though because I swore I was only in here 5-6 minutes at the most. Not quite!

Time: 13:07

BIKE:

riding easy

riding easy

Ohh the bike! It’s where Ironman dreams flourish or crumble. And folks, I’m here to tell you, it’s not always about what happens on the bike! Sometimes things go quite wrong when you’re not even physically peddling!

I had a GREAT plan (by a great coach!) and I followed it to the letter.

Easy first hour, cruising like a granny going to church. I focused on hydration and eventually on nutrition. I let everyone who came out of the water AFTER me, pass me like I wasn’t even part of this event. No worries, it was going to be a long day. All I was thinking about was the 26.2 miles of unchartered territory to follow. As time clicked on, I finally hit the magical point where I could increase my speed a little and settle into my IM pace.

Not long after, I saw a group of people slowing, pointing and swerving to avoid something. As I got closer I spotted another racer on the ground. He was pretty skinned up, his bike had lost a few parts and pieces, but no one has stopped to check on him. So I did.

He was able to talk. I knew we were close to an aid station so I asked someone to let them know a racer was down and I went through the process of making sure this guy didn’t whack his head. He was still a little out of it from just the shock of crashing. His entire right side was fairly torn up and full of road debris, but that seemed to be the main complaint. Somehow his aerobar pads were dislodged when he hit the pavement so I retrieved those, his nutrition that had spilled, and made sure his bike was functional. The important stuff!! Race marshals eventually arrived with a radio and called for medical assistance. At that point, the downed racer thanked me and sent me on my way. I never thought to get his bib number or name, but I really hope he was able to continue and finish his day.

I got back to riding and just before the 30 mile point my stomach started to bother me. This NEVER happens (ok rarely) and it has really never happened on the bike. But then I don’t normally ingest a gallon of salt water prior to riding either. Honestly, I was grateful I just needed a porta-potty and wasn’t barfing my guts up like some folks riding along the course. Salt water is wicked!

I get to an aid station, pop in, take care of business, and I’m off again. I’m thinking to myself, “hey that didn’t take too long….not bad at all.”

And this is where it all went wrong. My piss poor concept of time allowed me to justify stopping. I convinced myself it would be faster to stop and do what needed to be done instead of multi-tasking…..working on the move.

I proceeded to stop at 3 more port-a-pottys, along the course, AND at bike special needs. I didn’t have any more stomach issues I just had to pee, wanted to re-apply chamois cream, or needed to mix a bottle. Sometimes stopping was more important than others, but the thing is, it AWAYS took longer than I thought. In my case….about 6 minutes longer per stop than I “thought” it was taking.

I went from planning on making bike special needs my only stop of the day, to stopping at 5 different points throughout the course. All totaled, it added up to just over 30 minutes of non-moving time that day.

GAAA!!!

When I set up my head unit, I elected to remove time from the display. I knew my wattage parameters, I had mph up on display, and felt that was enough. I didn’t want to be frustrated by how long it was taking me to move through the course and push for an overall bike split that would come back to bite me in the ass during the run. A fine and dandy idea, until I decided to stop half a dozen times.

The ride itself was pretty uneventful. My nutrition was perfect. My pacing was spot-on (minus the stop and go nonsense). The weather was beautiful.

It was typical Florida cycling with some rollers, a bridge or two and a lot of wind in every direction, but nothing unusually difficult. I felt great until some stomach/gas pain popped up during the last 20 miles and I was able to deal with that fairly effectively.

As I made the turn down Thomas Drive I was feeling pretty good about things, but still had no idea what my cumulative race time was at that point.

I slipped out of my shoes, rolled up to the line, and dismounted. A very nice gentleman took my bike from me the same moment I glanced at the race clock and saw 8:22. I said something along the lines of, “Well, that’s just fucking fantastic!”

I’m sure he was a tad shocked….

or maybe not…

I thanked him for taking my ride and trotted off to grab my run bag in a less than stellar mood.

Time: 6:48

T2:

I ran into the changing tent trying to figure out WHAT exactly happened out on the bike course. Obviously, I didn’t know THEN all that I know now and I was very confused. I expected to ride 6:10-6:20…6:30 if things weren’t going my way, but 6:48? WTF???

I was rational enough,however; to know that the middle of T2 was not the place nor time to dissect my Ironman bike split. I needed to get going. I changed shorts, grabbed my visor, race belt, gel flask, put on my socks and shoes, then ran out for the first marathon of my life.

Woo-Hoo!

Time: 8:36

RUN:

I headed out feeling pretty good. My legs felt nice, my back felt good, and my stomach pains were gone. As I made my way past the crowds, I looked at my watch at saw I was running a 9:00 min/mi and knew I needed to slow down.

1st and last mile was full of spectators

1st and last mile was full of spectators

My goal was to pace the run as evenly as I could. I was so focused on that pacing that I didn’t recognize friends on course, my husband until he screamed my name, or even what mile I was on until I would ask an aid station volunteer. I never had the cumulative time or distance pulled up on my Garmin. I ran with only the current lap/mile time and pace, nothing else mattered.

I was not a fan of this run course. It was 2 loops, out and back. It went into a residential area and then peeled off into the a state park. There was very little crowd support with the exception of the 1st and last miles. That wasn’t as much of an issue as the condition of the roads. I ran the HIM version in May and had similar thoughts, but it was raining and I felt maybe I just got a bad impression. Nope. This day only solidified my opinion. The roads were full of gravel and potholes. There were numerous portions where we had to run over very wide speed bumps (no going around…only up and over) and through sandy patches with makeshift plywood bridges. There was one section where we actually ran through a sandy/grassy patch of an outdoor restaurant. Bizarre and I didn’t like it, but that’s just me.

I was told I would feel pretty good for the first 10 miles and this proved to be spot on. The first 6 miles ticked off fast. I couldn’t believe how easy it felt. It seemed like my watch was chiming mile alerts one after another. I remember thinking, “only 10 will seem easy???…pfft, this is gonna be a piece of cake!” 😉 yeah, right!

I made it through the dreaded park (maybe it’s just me…I loathe that park) and was headed back to the turn-around and special needs, a place I need not ever stop…..but on this day, I did.

2nd loop, the effects of fatigue jacking with my form.. even though I didn’t “feel” it

I was feeling pretty good as I got close and had some decisions to make.

I knew I was over the half-marathon point and I was pretty much done with my gels by this point, so I elected to NOT grab my 2nd flask. I  had switched to coke at the aid station prior to special needs so I knew that’s how I was fueling from this point forward.

I’d had some ITB issues after my bike crash, a few months back, and ran the 1st loop of the run with my orthotics in hopes of keeping it under control. Now those orthotics were making my feet sore so I elected to switch to my regular insoles. In retrospect, probably not the best idea.

I grabbed a jacket, tied it around my waist because it was supposed to get cold and took my hand-held light to navigate the inevitable darkness.

This took me just around 6 minutes. The magical number for the day!

I headed back out for the 2nd trip and the miles are not ticking off near as fast. I didn’t “feel” tired, but I can’t seem to get my heart rate elevated enough to move any faster and it’s a very uncomfortable feeling. I drank more coke and then more water. For a minute I thought I might be volume depleted, but then I realized that would be near impossible.

At some point my left IT band really started to hurt and my left knee would periodically buckle. I was still able to run, but I’d have to stop and re-set my form every so often. This distracted me and I ended up skipping an aid station, which meant I skipped my dose of coke. This left me dizzy and feeling like crap before I could get to the next one. I made a quick mental note to never do that again….

The rest was pretty much more of the same. I ran until my knee wouldn’t allow it. Then I’d walk for a second because any longer than that and it would be impossible to start running again. And I always remembered the coke!

I never felt “bad” or even unusually tired. I just remember that my knee hurt and I was generally annoyed with the situation. Looking back, that’s probably a pretty good indicator of my overall fatigue.

At about 22 miles I was just “over it”. The run/walk seemed ridiculous and as the minutes ticked on I was growing a strong distaste for the state of Florida….Panama City Beach in general. I really wanted a nice hot shower, a toothbrush, and to ingest something other than coke. I also knew it was almost over.

The last mile was lined with spectators so it passed quickly. I could hear the finish line and was trying to dig deep and pull out a positive attitude. You hear so many stories about people doing cartwheels and crying when the cross the finish line. I was pretty certain I might be the first to throw my hands up and cuss like a sailor when I saw the clock. I still didn’t know my race time.

At that moment I had a short talk with myself. It went something like this….

What’s done is done. There’s no going back, only forward. You were fortunate enough to be here, healthy enough to start, strong enough to make it through the day, and you’re now armed with knowledge to carry forward. The only bad result, at this point, would be a bad finish. And the only way to have a bad finish, is to not take the time to enjoy the moment you’ve earned.

So as I rounded the corner and came down the chute, I promised myself to not be distressed by the number on the clock, but to be grateful for the end of a fantastic journey.

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smile!

And just like that it was over…

Time: 5:12

Overall Finish: 13:43

And yea, there was a little bit of, “13:43 are you serious?”

But that’s just who I am; always acutely aware of how I would’ve done things better.

Truth be told, this journey began closer to 5 years ago when my husband asked me what was on my ‘bucket list.” At that point neither of us even owned a bike and certainly had never even thought of entering a triathlon. We both grew up swimming, worked out daily, and ran here and there……but nothing remotely close to what we do now.

The evolution has been fun, exciting, and at times very frustrating….but it’s never boring.

So did I sign up for next year?

No.

I don’t have a great big urge to race IMFL again. And I don’t have a big desire to sit on my bike, for thousands of hours, for months on end quite so soon either.

Next year I’m going to stick to half-ironmans or shorter and work on the “little things” that have a tendency to add up over a long day! I’m fairly certain, my coach will use this opportunity to re-aquaint me with pushing the envelope a little, as well as to remind me that feeling uncomfortable (at times) is an actually good thing. 😉

If there is one thing I DO love about Ironman it’s the pace at which you train and race! And I’ll be ready for that again, armed with the knowledge and experience of Ironman Florida, in 2015….

at Ironman Texas!

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Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Ironman Florida- The Day Before

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It’s less than 24 hours out and naturally I’ve been fielding tons of questions…

“How do you feel?”

“Fine, actually.”

“Are you ready”

“Sure am.”

“Are you nervous?”

“Nope.”

The weather is rather questionable right now. There’s a cold front approaching and winds are out of the South at 18-25 mph which is making for 4-5 ft swells in the Gulf. I’m hoping the water calms, a bit, when the winds shift to the north tonight, but more importantly I’d like to see the winds die down for that 112 mile bike ride.

But it is what it is. No point wasting energy fretting about it.

Truthfully, the most irritating part about the gloomy weather forecast is having to check our gear and bikes in the rain.

Mother Nature and I have certainly had our differences this training block that’s for sure. Why should things change now??!!

So what’s a girl to think about for 140.6 miles???

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Race Happy, My Friends!

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Ironman like life….It ain’t all Sunshine and Rainbows

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When I first decided to tackle IMFL I was warned, by several friends, that at some point my training would break me down to a worthless heap of human remnants.

I laughed….

and I trained.

Things went perfectly and ya’ know what, no breakdown. I swam, cycled, and ran hundreds…maybe thousands 😉 of miles, then cruised through Augusta 70.3. I recovered like a champ and headed into the last two weeks of training feeling pretty damn good.

I got through my epic long swim, leaving with the knowledge that the 2.4 miles in the Gulf would not be a problem.

Yesterday was the big one. A 6:45-7 hr ride with a 45 min run to follow.

And guess what???

“It” happened.

I woke up with a mild GI bug, but when you do the kind of stuff we do, a “mild bug” brings nothing short of chaos to the day. The ride was on the trainer due to the intermittent torrential downpours and so there was no “fun” in this….it was a “just get through it” kind of day. By the time I made it out to run, the sun was out, the roads were steamy, and yet it was still raining.

I thought I was going to suffocate from the humidity and have an ass blowout simultaneously.

Not a good time…

And so that’s when it all came crashing down.

Mentally and physically I was D-O-N-E.

I came to a screeching halt and then verbally declared the finality of my situation, to my neighborhood. Thank goodness everyone was inside watching the Saints game….what normal people do on Sunday’s in these parts.

I crouched down, by a stop sign, and begged for this process to just be over. A pity party for the record books for sure.

Then I thought about how ludicrous THAT just sounded…for God’s sake, I’m training for a race that I signed up for voluntarily. Ohhh, poor me!

And so then, I got up and ran…(and walked) home. It wasn’t 45 minutes, but it was close. And despite wanting to shut off the Garmin and call it a day at 9 minutes, I found it within me to continue on.

It was a truly ugly day, but these days come…

In training and in life.

I think we often see them as failures instead of opportunities to learn and grow. I know I did.

It took the rest of the afternoon for me to really sit back and dissect the training and what I gained from it. Because there is ALWAYS something to learn….

Every single day…every single workout.

I came to the conclusion that it’s during THESE kinds of struggles where we find out how much we can take and still keep on going. It gives us our reference points and helps provide clarity for the next obstacle we face.

And there will AWAYS be another….

One day, I’ll need to draw on today’s memory. When that day comes, I’ll be glad it’s in the bank!

I think he sums it up pretty well….

Run Happy, My Friends!

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Ironman Florida- 5 weeks and counting….

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Week 5 gave me a chance to finally chase the carrot once again!

While I was excited to finally be at a race, I felt very disconnected from it at the same time.

I wasn’t nervous, excited, or even remotely anxious. I slept the ENTIRE night before, which is totally unheard of for me. This was very much a business trip.

I mentioned last week that Augusta was about testing the plan. I did EVERYTHING I planned to do in Florida, to be sure it would hold up and for the most part it did. There were a few snafus along the way, some things I determined I would not be doing, and a malfunction (or two) as well. But through it all, I was able to remain levelheaded and get the job done.

The Augusta course is a lot like the New Orleans 70.3 course except with hills. The roads are narrow and rough which leads to a very crowded 56 miles on the bike as everyone is trying to find their own piece of smooth ground. I’ve never seen so many water bottles, cages, bento boxes, and flat kits all over a course as I did last Sunday.

The run is 2 loops through downtown and while some parts have great spectator support, other parts are pretty desolate. Fairly typical I think. The streets are chipseal and cambered for drainage. I was constantly searching for level ground, usually found right down the middle of the street. If you’ve ever run in a southern city, on roads that routinely flood with a heavy rain, then you know what I mean. New Orleans is the exact same and after a while the ankles and ITB typically voice their displeasure. Luckily, mine were quiet till very late in the game.

Oh and that infamous Augusta swim….

I think people must flock to this course because of the swim and the notoriously fast current. I decided (in the middle of my swim no less) that weaker swimmers probably benefit most here as far as times go. The “better” swimmers, on the other hand, can just sorta coast through and conserve their energy for later in the race, still banking an acceptable time in the process.

Let me just say, the weather was PERFECT! We started the day at 55F and 42% humidity. I CAN NOT even begin to express how nice it was to be cold! I didn’t sweat until the last quarter of the run when temperatures reached 82F and I’m not 100% it was happening at that point. There was never a point where I was hot or even thirsty. The sponges actually gave me chills! It was such a foreign feeling to be cool and not just wet! At one point, I actually questioned my need for salt tablets, but opted to “stick to the plan” and not make any changes.

It was so, so, SO nice to be out doing this stuff; to be fairly comfortable and not always be focused on managing my core temperature or be attempting to rectify early heat stress.

Very nice indeed! 😉

Here’s how the day turned out….

relaxed, not sleeping...I swear!

relaxed, not sleeping…I swear!

SWIM: The current was unusually fast this year and as a result we had to jump off the docks instead of treading water, prior to starting. My plan was to ease into things and conserve my energy. After the initial pulling and clawing for a lane was over, I went to some very relaxed swimming. If only Florida could be this easy! I had no concept of time, but the buoys were cruising right on by so I figured that was a good sign. Eventually, I was ready to ride so I swam harder to wrap things up.

Time: 27:33 (24/222)

T1: It’s a long run up from the water, through a mouse maze to reach transition. I was SMACK in the middle! I got to my goods, got my stuff, and out I went…Took forever (5:30)

BIKE: Ohhh how I love the bike and ohhh how I hate the bike….All week I had gradually seen my strength return as my legs finally got some rest, but then I developed all this glute pain. I think it was basically just part of the taper, only I didn’t really go through a full taper so it never went away…UNTIL AFTER the race….as in 2 hours after I crossed the finish line…POOF! Glute pain…GONE!  Bizarre.

Anyway, the course is hilly and I don’t care what anyone says about being a fast course or having their fastest times here…blah! blah! blah!

Its hilly….

My “plan” was to ease into the ride. Basically getting settled, riding at Ironman watts, and starting my nutrition plan. I hit the first climb and my wattage skyrocketed and I knew, despite everyone telling me to stay in my big ring, I was going to need the smaller in order to achieve the days goals. So I shifted….and dropped the chain!

Got off, in front of a course photographer, no less, repaired said chain and took off again! Rode along for a bit, shifted again to the smaller ring again and off it went…After that repair, I decided NO MORE of that!

The rest of the ride was just a lot of up and down, bumpy roads, and some wind thrown in for good measure. Most of my ride was spent focusing on nutrition and effort, with a little bit of “OMG, I can’t believe how cool it is, I’m not even sweating!” thrown in as well.

Someone told me it was downhill from mile 40 on….

That someone lied!

I was still going up at mile 50. It wasn’t awful, but we were rarely flat….a BIG a test of my mental fortitude with my biggest concern being my ability to run 13.1 after this kind of riding.

I was able to follow my IMFL nutrition plan to a tee and it worked like a charm!

Time: 3:01 (46/222) damn chain! 🙂

T2: Moved through pretty quickly, but I had to stop and pee….YEAHHH!!  Well hydrated! Legs felt good, I felt good…I was ready to run! (5:49)

finish line!

finish line!

RUN: I run out of T2, at what I think is a snail’s pace, get around the corner, look at my watch, and see 7:48. Immediately think, “Slow the f*%k down!” And I try. I get to mid 8s, then I’m back to 8 flat…..Finally I reach an aid station and I slow to a quick walk…Start to run again and I’m in the 9s. phew! Sanity prevails.

I ran in the mid 9 range, walking only at aid stations. Some had ice, some did not. Few had sponges, most did not. Sometimes they were every mile, other times they’d be every 2, and then maybe every 3/4 mile in some spots. There was no continuity so it was hard to plan, but something is better than nothing. However, it did add a nice chunk of time to my “aid station walk through”  waiting for them to find ice, coke, or whatever I needed/wanted….

Mile 9-10 I was met with the usual urge to start taking walk breaks, but this time I was ready for it. I waited for it to come and I could feel it creeping up on me….slowly.

In the past, I’d try to ignore it, pretend it wasn’t there. This time, I brought that feeling of discomfort to the forefront and faced it head on. I knew the sooner I acknowledged it, made the conscious decision NOT to succumb to it, that it would dissipate.

And it did.

By mile 10 I pitched my gel flask and switched to coke.

Something about that stuff, it’s like a jet fuel and an anti-depressant all in one. Almost as soon as it passed my lips, all was right with the world.

The run nutrition worked perfectly. I was having some issues with caffeinated gels while training and ultimately elected to keep them on the bike, but eliminate them for the run. It turned out to be the right choice, although it does take about 24 hours for my body to forgive me for dumping so much maltodextrin in it.

The run itself was a bit slower than I wanted, but knowing I would stop at the aid stations in Fl, my goal was to average a 10 min/mi (or less….hoping for less) for the 13.1 with stops. My run pace held steady 9s and so I just need to focus on being a bit more “forceful” at the aid stations. I’m picky about what I need/want, so I’m going to HAVE to speak up in order to get through quicker.

Time: 2:11(46/222) 10:01min/mi…

  • Overall Time: 5:51:58
  • 46/222 40-44 AG

So the question all week has been, “would you go back?” And my answer is, “Yes, but…”

I’d go back, but not because it’s the greatest course in the world. Galveston, is still by far my favorite because I like a 3 loop run. But like everything else, that’s a personal thing….

I really like the timing of Augusta. It’s a great race, don’t get me wrong, and its challenging. It gives me the opportunity to do some quality riding during the summer months when running billions of miles is near impossible with the temperature. It’s the perfect race, at the perfect time….

I don’t think I’ll train for an Ironman through the summer again. It’s just too hot and too humid. But having Augusta on the fall schedule would be perfect to keep me in shape THROUGH those dog days. Then, I would be ready to tackle the longer training once the weather broke to prepare for a spring Ironman…

hmmm, Texas???

First things first, gotta get through Florida!

28 more days!

Train Happy, My Friends!

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Ironman Florida- 6 weeks and counting….

2

It feels like an eternity since I’ve been here….

And in some ways, this summer HAS been about that long…

But it’s finally time to see what all this work has done.

It’s race week!

I mentioned last week that Augusta 70.3 was going to be about testing the IMFL race-plan….

In addition to pacing and nutrition strategies, I’m also sharpening my mental focus quite a bit. In every race, there’s a point where the mind tells the body to stop.

This weekend, one of my primary goals is to dominate the mental aspect of the race…

Swim: Not much volume reduction here and my arms are finally getting tired. Go figure. Totals: 8500 yards/ 3 hrs

Bike: Big drop in volume and by the weekends “longish” ride, I was starting to see how a little rest was going to help me hit the numbers I needed. I was having serious doubts, the week prior, about racing a HIM as tired as I was….this week put those fears to rest. Totals: 7 hrs 15 mins

Run: The run is coming together nicely. We had a few cloudy days and it made a big difference in RPE. If the temps would drop to the mid 80s and humidity would follow suit, I would be a happy lady! For the 1st time in….forever….I’m excited for the run this weekend!! It just feels “good” right now! Totals: 3 hrs 5 mins

These past few days, as I get ready to head to Georgia, volume has taken a VERY steep drop. I guess this is what you’d call a 70.3 taper in the midst of Ironman training. The words of my coach keep replaying in my head, ” you’ll be rested, but not fresh.” Two very different perceptions indeed!

That rest, however, has been very nice and also productive enough that I’m starting to see my fitness peak its head out from under the exhaustion. And that’s a beautiful thing to rediscover after the weeks of cumulative fatigue had stolen it right out from under me!

And not a moment too soon either!

Race Happy, My Friends!

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Ironman Florida- 7 weeks and counting…

11

This was one of those weeks where I just did what I had to do in order to get the work done.

Muscularly, I was exhausted and yet I still had the longest training sessions to get through before I could call it a week.

Good mental practice, right??

I’m definitely getting a lot of that here lately!

hwtraining

So while it might not have been pretty, quality work was certainly accomplished.

Not good, not bad, just is…

And I’m ok with that right now.

Just another week at the Ironman office! 🙂

SWIM: I never quite realize how mundane swimming is until I go to write about it….There just isn’t all that much to say. Lots of laps, lots of work, but not much excitement. Totals: 8700 yards/ 3 hrs

BIKE: I had some really tired legs. The kind of fatigue where you just couldn’t will a single more watt than what was being produced or even 1 more rpm. It made for some torturous cycling sessions. The weekend was tough with the typical long ride/run brick fighting the coastal winds. I’ve never been so glad to get off my bike and run as I was Saturday afternoon. It’s still VERY hot here, well over 90F with high humidity, so hydration still remains a constant battle. Totals: 10 hrs 25 mins

RUN: This was a good week running. It seemed like I ran a lot and for some reason my legs didn’t feel that same “dead legged fatigue” they did while cycling.  My long run is up to almost 16 miles and so far I’m still hanging on to an acceptable pace. This was the first week where I really started to believe I might just be able to run this thing. Totals: 4 hrs 40 mins

The next week brings a slight volume drop for a little bit of rest prior to racing Augusta 70.3…..

Not quite as much as I would’ve been granted if I wasn’t heading to a Ironman Florida month later, but it shouldn’t be that much of an issue as these days my body responds REALLY well to the smallest bit of rest.

Augusta is really about testing the plan for Florida. I feel pretty good about what I’ve got laid out and I’ve done it over and over again in training, but I’ve yet to do so it in a race environment. In about 10 days I’ll put it to the test to be sure it holds up and that no further adjustments need to be made.

Crossing my fingers on this one because it’s getting down to the wire…..

43 days

Hard to believe….

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Ironman Florida- 8 weeks and counting

6

The Ironman bike is the longest part of the day.

As a result, I’ve spent many, many hours on my bike the past 6 weeks and I’ll spend many, many more before November 3rd arrives.

If I’m not on my bike, it seems like I’m either preparing to ride, cleaning up after riding, looking at my riding workout, or posting my riding workout.

You would think my focus would be on triathlon as a whole, but honestly it’s on riding….

and nutrition while riding!

And I’m not gonna lie, most days…..

I don’t really feel like riding….

The past couple of weeks, this seems to always be playing in my head….

 

 

In the end, I know it’ll all be worth it though!!

Here’s how the week shook out:

Swim: Long and boring pretty much sums things up. It’s all about resistance to fatigue, so I’m just building distance and trying to hold on to whatever speed I can muster. Totals: 9200 yards/ 3 hrs 15 minutes

Bike: Have I mentioned I’ve ridden my bike quite a bit as of late? Last week, I was still a little nervous about heading to Augusta and riding a hillier course, so I took my long weekend ride a bit north and got some elevation under me. I’m happy to say, we exceeded the elevation we’ll be riding in Georgia and I had absolutely no problems at all. What I did realize is that all this riding has made an enormous difference in my abilities as a cyclist. I would’ve never been able to ride this route last year AND keep up with the guys that were there with me. It was definitely an “a-ha” moment and I finally saw the method to the madness, so to speak. And I like it! Totals: 10 hrs 45 minutes

Run: It’s still obnoxiously hot and humid so running is still more about heat management than anything else. I finally found a few gels and flavors that were palatable in the heat and so that was a success. It’s been a challenge, so now I’m a bit more at ease with my ability to fuel this last leg of the race. Despite the heat, bathroom breaks, aid station stops, and water refills I’m able to maintain a fairly decent pace so I’m hopeful once the weather breaks this will only improve. Totals: 4 hrs 5 minutes

This was a big week and I’ve got another one pretty similar on tap before things start backing off a bit before Augusta. I’m told I’ll be “rested”, but not “fresh”.

Hmm, should be interesting.

I want to send a big round of kuddos to Steena over at Finding my Happy Pace and Mike at Crushing Iron for nailing their 1st Ironman this weekend up in Madison, Wisconsin.

They made 140.6 miles look easy!

Also a shout-out to the slave driver herself, my coach, Liz Waterstraat for her gutsy performance at the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas last weekend. And for also reminding all of us that it IS quite possible to do it all….

and do it all exceptionally well!!

Congratulations to you all!!

Ride Happy, My Friends!

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Ironman Florida- 9 weeks and counting….

2

If I’ve told you I’d meet you, call you, or do something FOR you….

and have forgotten…

I apologize.

Really it’s not you, it’s me….

Just this week alone:

  • I’ve left one of my dogs in the car for well over an hour (luckily at home, in the garage!) and she wasn’t discovered until I got BACK in later that evening….an almost impossible feat as my dogs make their presence very well-known!
  • I gifted my wallet to the checker at Wal-Mart….only discovering it’s absence when searching for my license/ID, 36 hours later, so I could head out and ride my bike yet AGAIN
  • and I failed to pay the mortgage……oops….but ya’ know, days sorta just run together when your ass is glued to a bike seat 24-7. And honestly, I had no earthly idea what day it was much less what bills may or may not be due. I’m now making lists for my lists…

I won’t even try go into the amount of time I spent looking for misplaced car keys, sunglasses, cell phones, water bottles…

Children…

But only once…and that really was HIS fault! 🙂

0060_rewardLostMind

It takes longer than 9 weeks to prove insanity, right??!

9 weeks till Ironman Florida and 4 weeks till Augusta 70.3….

Augusta is actually starting to weigh on my mind a bit more than I thought it would. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say I feel pretty good about Ironman Florida at this point, but at the same time, I feel nowhere near ready to race a half-ironman.

Is this unusual or is it perfectly normal considering the past 6 months of training? I haven’t a clue. I guess we’ll see how it shakes out at the end of the month.

On a positive note, my hip is almost 100% after my crash 2 weeks ago. I was scheduled to race a long distance duathlon (3-33-3) this weekend, but elected to DNS. I just didn’t want to push that envelope and take any unnecessary chances. So I volunteered while my husband and friends did the DU. I got my mileage in later and wasn’t even remotely snarky about missing the race. Since was no swimming and lots of running involved, it would’ve been all work and no fun anyway! 🙂

This was a step back week and unlike last time, 10 hours actually felt like a huge break. That being said, it did take my body until Friday (a good 4 days) to behave like it was rested. Age makes everything so much slower!!

Swim: Only 2 swims this week, but they were both long ones. My hip was co-operating, so they were also good ones. It’s been a long time since I’ve been really excited about a workout because slow and steady just isn’t all that exciting. Friday I finished my 4200 yrd swim before the allotted time, negative splitting the back half with an overall pace faster than my HIM race pace……except this was slow and steady and therefore, THAT was very exciting!!! It doesn’t take much! Totals: 7000 yards/ 2 hrs 25 minutes

Bike: I wish there was something thrilling to report, but really just more hours peddling away. Oh, I got a flat AND changed it! Very exciting times on the bike indeed!! I did head to the northern part of the county to tackle some hills and ease my mind a little about the Augusta bike course. I managed the terrain a bit better than earlier this summer, both mentally and physically so that bodes well for overall improvement. If the weather would break, it would be a huge help because 95F and 90% humidity, while fighting hills and wind just makes for an unpleasant day. Eventually cycling will become fun again….I just know it! Totals: 5 hours

Run: I honestly didn’t think I ran all that much, but the little bits and bricks really do add up. It was nice having a little less on tap though with the recent skyrocketing temps. Hopefully, this is the last heat wave and cooler weather will soon be here to stay! Totals: 2 hrs 30 minutes

This week things are getting crazy again as the volume is going up, up, up. For some reason, I keep thinking it just can’t get THAT much harder….

And yet, every time I come off a period of rest, it does just that.

59 days….

I can do anything for 59 days…..

Swim Happy, My Friends!

swimmer

Ironman Florida- 10 weeks and counting….

11

I missed the last week…

I didn’t really miss it, I’m just more or less trying to forget it since it ended on a rather sour note….

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No one ever accused me of being graceful.

The story:

About 3.5 hours into an almost 6 hr ride, I took not only my hands, but also my eyes off the road. Oh, and it was windy AND my rear brake wasn’t working……AND I was running my 808s to get some nice handling practice in the gusty conditions.

I also may have been a wee bit tired as well = slower reaction time…..

I was able to keep riding, but it was certainly a challenge. After another couple of hours my hip REALLY started to get tight, uncomfortable, and horribly swollen. It was time to call it day.

6177471_origThe official diagnosis was a mild hip pointer. MILD?? pfft…depends on whose hip I guess, but there’s aways a rainbow peeking out of the storm clouds. I was allowed to resume activity, “as tolerated”,  after 48 hrs of RICE. phew!

This picture above was taken 5 days later. It took about 2 days before I could walk normally and I hobbled through most of my workouts this week. The running, in particular, has been fairly rough yet always manageable.

I’m very lucky it wasn’t any worse and VERY, VERY grateful I was able to get back to work so quickly, but as y’all can imagine impatience has arrived. I’m over this thing and ready to be 100%…..92.5% makes it that much more difficult to get through the week.

Fortunately, next week is a step-back week and that means a little bit of extra time to mend the wounds. Hopefully, the reduction in volume will do the trick and give me back that 7.5% I’m so desperately needing!

This is how things shook out….

Swim: I really realized just how much I use my hips. My 1st swim I had to do the entire thing with a pull buoy because I simply could not hold myself on top of the water. 48 hours later things were better (but not perfect) and by Friday’s big swim, I was able to do the entire workout as written. My “good” side was taking a beating though and pulling a lot of the weight (literally). It was a happy day when I was able to get back on the foam roller and work out some of the kinks.  Totals: 9500 yards/ 3 hrs 10 mins

Bike: The bike volume is just insane. So many people say they don’t want to do an Ironman because of the running….it isn’t the running people, it’s the riding that wears you down. I have no idea how long my body will allow me to sit on the saddle. I keep waiting for a revolution of sorts….a strike….sheer refusal, but so far while it may not be the most comfortable thing I’ve ever done, I’m still able to do it. I was back on the bike about 48 hrs after I crashed and gradually progressed to Saturdays 6 hr long ride…which I did on the trainer due to torrential rain. Now THAT was some fun!  Total: 10 hours

Run: This was, by far, the most difficult to accomplish. I’m still having to compress the hip to run and if I don’t compress the other side I end up running wonky….then my back hurts from overcompensation issues and a very bad spiral ensues. So I compress both sides and try my, best, to stay even. Compression is HOT and it’s already HOT enough! But it is what it is and right now, I’m so glad to be able to get the miles done under the circumstances. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be doing any damage since there is no additional swelling or discomfort AFTER running. So for now, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing until it heals enough to not need the extra support. Hopefully this will be sooner rather than later. Total: 4 hrs 5 mins

A fairly solid seven days especially considering how things started. A good dose patience, at the beginning of the week, definitely paid off by the weekend. Most of that, however; is all used up. I’m ready to be healed! Have I mentioned that? 🙂

On another note, someone told me Starbucks has Pumpkin Spice Lattes and we went to the first high school football game of the season! This can only mean one thing….

Fall has arrived!!! Bring on the cooler temperatures!!!

Y’all be safe out there!

Ride Happy, My Friends!

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