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

Moving Forward….

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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, survived Black Thursday Friday, and is taking full advantage of Cyber Monday (my personal favorite)!

Just so you know, Ironman recovery is a real bitch. I’m just now turning the corner and feeling like I’ll actually BE able to race again next year. Which is a good thing because:

a) while I was still high on Ironman invincibility, I got the OK to race a 5k this coming Saturday…..

but “just for fun!”

Who the hell races a 5k just for fun? Especially when the only training done, over the past 12 months, has been in the highly aerobic playground known as Zone 2???!! Just for reference, my heart rate gets higher when I vacuum my house. Ask around, there hasn’t been much of THAT happening.

and

b) my jeans are officially shrinking!

Crap! I was trying to be so careful, but it was inevitable. It’s time to seriously get moving….and more than a leisurely hour a day to support these healthy eating habits!

Yes, it’s time to move forward…

The Ironman high (and calorie burn!!) is long gone. I’m now left with tight pants and a looming 5k that’s making me MORE anxious than 140.6 miles did a month ago.

But it’s all good. I’ve actually decided a little fear isn’t such a bad thing. It keeps the senses sharp, like a knife! 😉

As I move away from longer (not long, just uber long) distances, I now have the opportunity to sprinkle some challenging events into my schedule once again. I can take the time to race and recover from events I might not normally elect to do because they’re not necessarily my favorites.

In other words, it’s time to get uncomfortable…to push the boundaries in a different way….to grab the bull by the horns and dare to hold on!

2014 is going to be about utilizing each opportunity and taking every single last second for what it’s worth. If Ironman taught me anything, it was the importance of taking full advantage of every single moment life hands out because second chances are few and far between.

So this is how I’ll be moving forward…

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Starting with a “just for fun” 5k on Saturday!

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Ironman Florida- 19 weeks and Counting

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I’m a week late on the IM19 recap…

If all goes well this week will be a two-fer…

No promises though…

Last week we fled the premises…

Training while on vacation is a first and while ideally I would’ve preferred the trip to fall during a recovery week, it didn’t happen that way….

Such as the training calendar turns…

Unknown-2Vacation took us to a little barrier island about 2 hours east of Panama City Beach, just across from Apalachicola, FL.

St. George Island and Apalachicola are TINY!!

No condos, no malls, no grocery outlets….

The beaches were beautiful; porpoises swam as close as 20 feet from shore, pelicans hung out with kids on rafts, otters would cross the road in the middle of the day, and it was so quiet you could hear the fisherman talking offshore.

EXTREMELY RELAXING!!!

Very slow-paced and the perfect place to get some quality training in AND some quality recovery time!!

SWIM:

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I finally got to spend some time in an outdoor pool and let me tell you, I do not know how you folks do it…That pool was 89-91F and felt like I was swimming through waves of warm pee. I couldn’t swim more than 250 yds without stopping to allow the sea-breeze to cool me off some. The Biloxi natatorium, where I log my swimming yardage at home, is a constant chilly 80-84F and while it’s a bit frigid to start, after about 800 yds things feel pretty good. No longer will I dream of swimming in an outdoor pool thank you very much!! I got the work done, but there were no real endurance sets or speed sets for that matter. It was just a matter of putting my head down and grinding out some laps, around 9000 yards total for the week….and refilling my water bottle A LOT!

BIKE:

THIS was the best place to ride! sorta…

The island has 2 roads that travel from one end of the island to the other. One of the roads has a “bit” more traffic while the other is where the golf carts, scooters, and tandem bikes travel. I told you, it is LOW key!!!

We rode from 1 side of the island and back...then back...and back...and back

We rode from 1 side of the island to the other and then back and forth several times

This little sliver of land is only about 22 miles long, but it is a straight shot with very few stops. But don’t let the flatness of the terrain confuse you…. these were no easy rides! The wind out here was brutal. Fortunately, we’re use to breezy conditions on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. It’s not uncommon to have 10-15 mph winds in your face for hours on end! It was a good thing too because once we got out here, the winds were blowing 15 mph or so, but there was NOTHING to break that wind….no trees, buildings…NOTHING….It was like peddling in the middle of the ocean. But work is work…watts are watts and so we just put in the time and enjoyed ourselves. We got a few 90 min rides in and then a I logged my 3.5 hour long ride as well. I was just under 100 miles for the week and considering the conditions I was doing some seriously good work and feeling damn good doing it. I was very happy with this week of riding!!

Had my 1st wreck of the season...wrong tires for sand!

Had my 1st wreck of the season…wrong tires for sand!

heat index over 100F and windy...1 of many stops to refill water bottles

heat index over 100F and windy…1 of many stops to refill water bottles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RUN:

These days the run is about survival. It’s always hot, it’s always humid, and it’s always hard. Success is only having to stop on the mile to water down with a hose instead of every other minute. The combination of acclimation, salt consumption, shade, and moving at a snail’s pace finally allowed me to “run” again.

It was still miserable, there is no way around that when it’s over 90 F and a humid swamp, but it is what it is…Like the pool, just held my head up and grinded out the miles focusing on what I could control….form, breathing, hydrating and managed right about 20 miles for the week.

The best part of the week….without a doubt….was the recovery…..

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Ahhhh, what we could all do with more free time like this, huh??!!! 🙂

Now it’s back to reality for a week or so then we head out to Texas to visit family and get a little summer race action in as well.

I vaguely remember saying, a few years ago, would NEVER, EVER… race in Texas, in July again…

So the story always goes….

Never say never!

Train Happy, My Friends!

thumbs_up_happy_face

Ironman Training: Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

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TreesIt’s a good thing I do this stuff for “fun.”

Yesterday my coach told me it was probably best if I cancelled my February half-marathon.

Well SHIT!

Although if I’m honest, I kinnda knew, deep down, this was coming…

I’ve had to move all the way to the back of the class and re-teach my body how to work aerobically once again….from a running standpoint at least.

Coming back from my running hiatus this fall, I may have tried to speed up the natural process of things by electing to progress from no real running to 6-8 threshold miles within just a few weeks…

It really wasn’t THAT hard…but it also wasn’t all THAT smart either!

This would be one of those times where just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should

So now it’s biting me in the ass because I’ve had to back way down on the running/cycling volume AND intensity….

I mean way, way, way, wayyyyyyyy down….in order to not to fall off the training wagon all together.

pfft…

It also had a little to do with my tri bike, but that’s a whole different story for next week hopefully.

I’m not quite sure which has me more annoyed: that I’m unable to run the race or that I let my ego get in the way of building a solid foundation.

ohhh, I COULD run it, don’t get me wrong (hello ego!)…. but it would be a very bad idea for so many reasons.

And THAT’s why I pay the coach the big bucks….

I am almost 100% sure that if not for her, I would’ve run that race even though it has absolutely no bearing on my upcoming events.

All risk…..no reward.

I guess I’m still learning how to make good choices…

and to see the forest through the trees.

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Idle Hands….

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A week or so of down time puts the mind in a crazy place….

 

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Ride Happy, My Friends!

The Bigger Picture

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We all know returning from illness and injury is one of the MOST frustrating things we do as athletes.

We’re mentally and on some levels physically ready to tackle the challenges, but in reality our bodies are still needing that extra bit of TLC to get us back to our previous level of performance.

For me, it’s all about being told that I “CAN”T” do something. Y’all know running isn’t my greatest passion, but tell me I can’t do it or that I can’t do it adequately….

It just doesn’t go over very well.

So as I make my way back to running…SLOWLY…it has been a 2 steps forward, 15 steps backwards kind of process. However, I am oh so grateful for each and every one of those pain-free steps.

I’ve finally succumb to the fact that racing for anything other than a finish (and improved transition times 😉 ), this season, is simply unrealistic.

The bigger picture is more important and that’s to be back running strong by fall; training for Galveston 70.3 and Gulf Coast 70.3 by the holidays.

So while I’ll participate in my scheduled “events” throughout the summer, there are no huge expectations tied to performance. I’ll be very grateful to have the ability to say I RAN out of T2 and finished the day.

Ran always sounds better than run!!

On that note….

I want to take a minute to send some Good Luck  mojo to everyone racing this weekend….

A BIG shout out to those over in The Woodlands getting ready to tackle IMTX and in Haines City for Florida 70.3!! Y’all show em’ how it’s done!!

And most importantly…a huge, HUGE wish of strength and fortitude to my husband, who is just mentally unstable enough to tackle a 10k open water swim over in Pensacola this Sunday.

6.2 miles is a long way in the Gulf, I don’t care how good of a swimmer you are….

I think I’ll be driving home from Florida Sunday afternoon 🙂

Race Happy, My Friends!!

Take a Look at Yourself

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“The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.” -Madame Marie du Deffand
 

Last week I wrote about the number of athletes who were giving up triathlon because it was to time consuming and they viewed their continued participation as selfish. I got a ton of emails and responses that all seemed to carry the same message…balance is the key and anything is possible if you really want it.

At the same time I was tweeting with David Mills (@AverageIronMan) who is about to launch his new book The Distance.  

Having brought you my rather negative viewpoint last week, I wanted to BALANCE that with a piece about some really astonishing athletes that are accomplishing greatness every single day.  

Who might they be and what are their secrets to success??!! Well, David has written a book all about it.

It’s you, it’s me and it’s every other age grouper out there that’s making the time to set goals and then working their asses off to achieve them.

He’s the lead man in this story, but David is just like the rest of us. He goes to work everyday, he has a family, and he has to bust his butt to fit training in the best way he knows how.

And you know what, he does a pretty good job.

Just like we all do.

So take a look in the mirror and pat yourself on the back because you, my friends, are doing great things every day!

Enjoy the teaser, the book will be out in a few weeks!

 

One Piece At A Time

 There is something deep inside all of us that asks the question, “Could I do that?”  Whenever we see a person earn a difficult degree or cross a big finish line we cannot help but wonder if they are different from us.  Do they have something we don’t?  Are we capable of the same accomplishment?

 After watching two of my friends finish an Ironman Triathlon I couldn’t help but ask myself that same question.  “Could I do that?”  At first I dismissed the question.  It’s absurd.  Only other people do stuff like that.  Average Joe’s like me can’t do an Ironman, right?  After all, I’ve got kids and a job; I’m not the kind of guy who wears a Speedo and shaves his legs.  Still something in me couldn’t stop asking that question.  So I set out to discover the answer.  I decided to find out if I could do that.

 When I first got into the pool at the fitness center I could barely swim two laps before I needed a break.  How was I ever going to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run 26.2 miles – all in a row?!  At first it nearly killed me to bike 20 miles.  Soon enough I could bike 25.  By consistently increasing just a little bit at a time, I was eventually swimming more laps and biking and running more miles than I ever had before. 

 Whenever I looked at the entire event I would get overwhelmed and discouraged.  But I would force myself to just look at the small portion that was right in front of me.  I knew I could bike just one more mile.  I knew I could jog just a little bit further.  Large goals must be broken down and tackled one small piece at a time.

 I often hear people say, “Oh, I could never do that.”  I want to tell them, “Of course not – you haven’t trained yet.”  That’s like thinking, “Oh, I could never play the piano.”  Well, you could if you took lessons and practiced a little everyday. 

 There is no single, huge workout that prepares you for an Ironman.  It is only through many consistent investments that we accomplish anything great in life.  Whether we are earning a degree, learning to play an instrument, or saving for retirement, we can easily become discouraged if we try to take on the entire mountain at once.  But with gradual change, anything is possible. 

 By focusing only on the small goals right in front of me and tackling one at a time an Average Joe like me was able to finish an Ironman Triathlon.  I answered the question, “Could I do that?”  And I learned a lot about breaking down large goals into smaller, more manageable pieces.  What mountain in your life appears insurmountable?  It’s amazing how everything changes when we start to view our marathon as merely a series of one mile jogs. 

 David Mills is the author of The Distance: An Average Joe’s Path to Balancing Family, Work & Triathlon(Coming this August!)  Pre-order your copy at http://thedistancebook.com/ and follow David at www.facebook.com/TheDistanceBook as he trains for his 2nd Ironman.

 

Run Happy, My Friends!