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- 17 weeks and Counting…

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Unknown-3Training and Racing…

It’s not as easy as it sounds, but sometimes it’s gotta be done.

Last week I crossed over into Texas….First stop was The Woodlands to pay a visit to my parents as well as my brother and his family. Later, we went a bit further west to San Marcos (about 30 miles outside of Austin) to get some pacing practice under our belts.

If training and racing is hard, throw vacationing into the mix and it might be downright impossible to do 100%.

Kuddos to you folks who race in Cabo, Cozumel, Switzerland, and Hawaii. I have no idea how you do it!

Once I got to TX, it was a constant struggle to stay on task with so many other things to do!! My coach was kind enough to back down the weekly workload to between 8-9 hours for the week and it helped to make things very manageable.

Traveling is just hard on the body…no way around it! So are all the other things that do and DO NOT occur while away from home and the normal routines. ouch!

Training was pretty much status quo, so I’m going to re-cap the race real quick since it was the most exciting thing that happened this week!

A little background….

I have not had good experiences racing in July in Texas. The most recent was a few years ago. During that short race I swore to myself:

  • I was going to die, that moment, on TX soil and
  • once I didn’t die, I was never racing in Texas, in July, EVER again!

Uh-huh…

Time has a way of dulling the pain I suppose.

I also don’t have very fond memories of the whole Olympic distance race itself. In fact, I didn’t even do a write-up, after the NOLA 5150 last summer, because my experience was so miserable I couldn’t think of one positive thing to say…

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t day it all…..right??

Uh-huh…

Again, that time and pain dulling thing must’ve been happening big-time this past year because once I saw this “fast and flat” Oly race advertised the same time we’d be visiting Texas….

I wasted no time signing up!

And just let me pass along….

Mississippi “flat” is night and day different from Austin, Texas “flat”….

The last bit of information to have is that not only was the Oly event going on, but there was also a sprint, Oly aquathon, sprint aquathon, and duathlons of varying distances happening as well. Basically there were hundreds of people racing and there was no way to distinguish who was racing which event….That 42 on the back of my calf meant absolutely nothing….

This day was all about personal time, which is how it should be….

But sometimes that gets lost in the heat of the moment, ya’ know how it goes!

Alrighty then…

SWIM:

This was a 1500 meter (or 1 mile) swim in a residential ski lake. It was a time trial, jump off the dock kinnda start and the Olympic Triathlon folks got to go before anyone else. The water was hot, like everything else in Texas. The plan was to swim a sprint pace. Well about 500 meters into that “plan” I felt like my head was going to erupt into flames. Thankfully my breaststroke pace is about the same as my free-style because I needed it. I had to get my head out of that hot tub for a minute. I quickly told myself to slow the f*%k down and returned to nice long, gliding strokes. All was fine until about 1000 meters when I ran into the herd of sprint swimmers who appeared, for the most part, to not be moving. It became a swimming obstacle course and for the first time in my triathlon career, I swam OVER several men. My apologies, it was not intentional…there were just so many people in the water not moving anywhere…I finally made my way to the slippery ramp and decided to exit to the right, in the mud instead, because people were…well, slipping. It was a good call. There was the little business of a 400 yrd run to the timing mat (whats up with this???) outside of transition….hearing the “beep” the swim was done….

Official Time: 31:25, out of the water in 29:42 though so I need to hustle to T1 a bit quicker

BIKE:

I thought it was flat, it wasn’t. I’m sure for some of you it would be, but for those of us who struggle to find ANY elevation it was like riding the Alps. I can handle climbing, I don’t, however; descend very well. And descending into 90 degree turns, loaded with gravel, makes me really uncomfortable. ALMOST as uncomfortable as racing on 24 miles of fresh chip seal. The roads were, by far, the worse I’ve ever ridden on to date…..and we have some shitty roads here in South Mississippi! Despite the days obstacles, the work got done. I was a little disappointed in my power profile as it hung right at my HIM wattage the entire time, but I was gently reminded of the fact that I was training for an Ironman not an Olympic distance event…..very different systems being utilized so in actuality the numbers were quite good! Well then….go me!

Official TIme: 1:16:15/18.7 mph

RUN:

The sun was shining, the temperature had climbed close to 96F and all that was left were 2 loops through a new residential development…..with fresh black top (where was THAT on the bike??) and not a tree in sight! There were aid stations with half-full shot sized cups of lukewarm water or some electrolyte mix every 1.5-2 miles. At one point I did stick my sweaty hand in the Igloo and grab some ice….Sorry folks, it was hotter than the gates of hell! This race was really about the run…..had I done enough training in the heat to survive? Can I pace the 1st two legs correctly, given the conditions, so I have enough to run the entire thing? The goal was simple: don’t think, just GO! So I did….there was a bit of walking, especially when I retrieved aid, but for the most part I slowly inched my way to the finish line. At around 4.5-5 miles I started to get cold and even got the chills. I knew the heat was catching up with me and I needed to wrap up the days festivities. The finish was 1/2 mile trail run down by the river, under a nice canopy of trees. Finally some shade….

Official Time: 1:00:39/9:48 min/mi

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I still look a little swollen from the effects of the heat. My face was puffy for quite a while!

  • Total Time: 2:51:55
  • 2nd 40-44 AG (the husband got 3rd in his 40-44 AG)
  • 13th women
  • 50th overall

All in all, it ended up a good day at the races. No doubt, this is fun stuff…. but it’s a rare treat when the hard work pays off in a tangible reward. Most importantly, I’ve gotten a good grip on my pacing. I tend to be more than a little greedy when it comes to swimming and cycling because I don’t “trust” myself as a runner. Over the past year, I’ve had to let that go and really learn the skill of racing. It’s nice to see it working as it should….

Never stop learning!

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Traditions Triathlon Race Recap

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Surprise! Surprise!

I’m a bit behind getting this out….

No rest for the weary around here!

After the race, I jumped right back into a 14 hour training week. It’s taken me until today to catch my breath and put down a few thoughts about the race itself.

There were a few goals and objectives heading into this event:

  • Negative split all 3 areas
  • Improve transition/move through with purpose
  • Race “my” race..DO NOT race to place…***BIG ONE***
  • Come out 1st in my AG in the swim

Most of these were instructions given by my coach, which I agreed upon whole-heartedly….and 1 may have been an expectation that I simply demanded of myself.

Race morning was a crispy 47F outside…

Water temperature was hovering around 60F…..That might as well be Arctic waters for us in South Mississippi. Just so you know, I have to talk myself into the pool at 78F….

So we’re racked and ready…..and decide to head down to test the waters.

It was cold. I couldn’t feel my face, hands, or my feet. I couldn’t tell if I was kicking or feel my stroke at all….My face was the worst…..it was totally numb and I was getting a headache after only being in a few minutes…

Luckily it was a short 600 meters!

However, I did decide this must be how people die during the swim portion of triathlon. They get into this cold water and go all out and have some sort of vaso-spasm or constriction. After being in this frigid lake, I totally see how it could happen, especially on a longer swim. I promptly decided to simply SWIM…..to hell with speed. Nice full strokes and get the hell out was now the objective!

SWIM

It was a time trial start and I was #24. My husband was #25. I hit the water and no sooner than I thought, “Holy shit this cold!” did I see him FLYING by me on the left. I said a small prayer that HE didn’t have a heart attack and focused on smooth strokes and sighting.

I ended up with a really good swim. I went buoy to buoy….didn’t swim ANY extra distance or stray off course. I swam the last 300m faster than the 1st so I achieved the goal of a negative split…

AND….

I ended up 1st in my AG in the swim with an average pace of 1:36/100y. 🙂

I wasn’t so happy with my overall time, but considering the conditions and how I swam.. I’m coming to terms with it more and more each day!

BIKE

This is a hilly course and I don’t ride or race hills often so I knew pacing was going to be an issue, but I was up for the task.

This was also my 1st race with my Quarq power meter. I was given no rules about power/wattage(yeah!!) other than to go all out. I believe phrase “violent effort” was how my coach actually phrased it, but I also had to keep that negative split in mind…

Heres the interesting thing, I rode the entire course and never looked at my speed once. All I checked were my watts and cadence…

It’s official, I’ve been converted to a power meter junkie!

I ended up with an average of 162 watts/18.7 mph for the ride AND I did pick up more wattage on the back half than the front….AND the back half had a touch more elevation as well… so all in all I paced perfectly.

Could I have ridden harder? Probably…hard to tell. I wouldn’t exactly call my effort “violent”, but my ability to pace was spot on so since that is a key skill I’m focusing on for my 70.3 and 140.6 I’m going to take it and run….so to speak

Last time I raced this course, a few years ago, I was averaging closer to 17.1 mph…Progress is a good thing!

RUN

This run course sucks. There is no nice way to say it. It’s VERY hilly, but that’s not the issue. The problem lies with the terrain itself. There are two very steep areas that are off-road.

The 1st area is right around mile 1 and it’s a mix of sand, clay, and rock. The 2nd is closer to the end, around mile 2.5, and is a winding trail with pine straw covered rock.

This wouldn’t pose a problem if you have trails to run on daily, but for those of us…or just me….who don’t and who also have VERY flexible ankles/feet and are running in flat shoes with lock laces it just doesn’t work real well. In order to do this well, I’d need a very supportive shoe and real laces to lock my ankle in nice and tight!

As a result, I walked most of the off-road areas. I simply wasn’t willing to roll an ankle (happened more times than I care to count on much flatter surfaces) 4 weeks away from my half-ironman.

That being said, it was still a good run. I again, was able to negative split the 5k by keeping a lid on myself as I came out of T2. I do have a tendency to go out too fast so I’ve worked countess hours on run pacing strategies and they are finally starting to pay off…

I averaged under a 8:50/min/mi for the 5k and while I expected a bit more, I was generally pleased considering the circumstances.

TRANSITIONS

ehhh….not good, not great.

T1 was a nightmare coming out of that frigid water. Everyone was right around 2-3 minutes and I was closer to 3.

I helped my husband get his jersey on since his hands were numb and to be perfectly honest, my brain was not working….co-ordination was off… I seriously doubted my ability to even RIDE my bike!

T2 was fine. I was on the far side so it took a bit longer to get in and out, but I did so in just over a minute. I was pleased with that…there was not much more I would’ve done here.

OVERALL

I ended up about 3 minutes faster than the last time I was here. I’m told I can’t compare my times, on a course, year over year because so many things other than performance can effect the outcome.

Lucky You….I’ll spare you the paragraph about how I wanted improve more than 3 minutes and all the many ways I would’ve done so!

All in all it was a good day. I didn’t place like I’d hoped, but that wasn’t really the “ultimate” objective.

My coach gave me an A+ for the day and I also gained some precious wattage for training and racing purposes…YEAH!  🙂

I think the most valuable thing I’m seeing develop is that ability to pace successfully.

In the past, I’ve pushed so hard riding in attempt to “make up time” for what I’ll loose on the run because I’m not a 6-7 min/miler…I’ve had a really hard time buying into the, “make it up on the run” philosophy. But by backing off a bit on the bike, I’m able to run a bit closer to my stand alone 5k time….or 13.1 time in day-to-day training.

As days go by, that gap is closing and we continue to tinker with workouts and get closer to the correct formula. It’s definitely an art and takes a lot of diligent effort, but there is no doubt, the longer the race the bigger the return.

So what’s next you may ask??

Well let me tell you because I am SOOO excited!!

In a few weeks we’re having our 1st OWS here on the MS Gulf Coast!!

Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 8.04.30 AM

1 mile in the Gulf!

I CAN NOT WAIT!

No worries about biking or running after…..or how fast can I get my wetsuit off….

Just 1 mile…

How fast can you go??

Woo-Hoo!! Good Times!!

Swim Happy, My Friends!

swimmer