A Review: Triathletes Swim First!

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Incase you haven’t noticed winter has ARRIVED!

Damn it got cold! Even way down here in the deep south, we struggled to make it above freezing last week. Burrrr!

However, just like the summer heat….we can’t control the weather and there is work to be done!! Spring will be here before we know it.

Now I realize jumping into a chilly pool MAY not be high on the list of priorities when its sub-zero outside, but its the best time to get some quality swim work accomplished!

And lucky for all of y’all, the ladies over at the The Waterblogged Triathlete have just the thing to help make YOU a better swimmer!

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Triathletes Swim First offers over 100 fresh and innovative swim workouts for everyone, from beginner multisport athletes to Ironman finishers. Anyone who has a goal of an improved swim or just a great overall race day would benefit from implementing these workouts into their current training plan.

Most of us realize that EVERY swim workout should incorporate drills to aid in improved technique and ultimately a stronger swimming foundation. However, this is often easier said than done, especially if you aren’t swimming with a group.

More often that not, triathletes end up swimming countless laps with no objective other than to finish the workout. This book changes that. It gives each and every session a purpose. There are drills to work on the front end of the stroke, body roll/rotation skill builders, sets that focus on kicking efficiency, as well as ones for open water sighting. There are even drills and workouts to assist in wetsuit familiarity!

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This little book has it ALL!

The ladies over at The Waterblogged Triathlete have an extensive background as swimmers. I encourage you to not only investigate their book, but to check out their website. There is a wealth of information over there and by signing up for email notifications, you’ll always get the latest snipet of swim knowledge delivered right to your inbox!

I received a copy of this book last fall while in the depths of IMFL prep and it wasn’t until December that I really got to play around with the workouts.

I do have a coach who writes my swim sessions, but quite often drill sets are optional…meaning I get to choose the drill. To be honest, I know about five off the top of my head and it can get a little old repeating the same ones day after day. Not to mention, rather unproductive. I now have a fresh set at my disposal and THAT is keeping things fresh, fun, and challenging!

Some things I personally like about the book….

  • there are pace charts to help estimate goal times and tips on converting it to yards from meters
  • there are over ten pages of defined terms….don’t you HATE trying to figure out what 3/8/3 means the first time???
  • almost every other page has tip boxes filled with useful information
  • there are pages to write in your own workouts if you are so inclined

Triathletes Swim First can be found on The WaterBlogged Triathlete website for $29.95.  It is also available at amazon.com for the same price OR you can download it to your kindle for $7.99!! The best pool toy you’ll ever buy!

Regardless of the distance you race, being an efficient swimmer WILL improve your bike and run splits. Triathletes Swim First is a great tool to start this process. It’s a fantastic resource to keep your workouts both fresh and productive all season long!

Grab a copy and let me know what you think!

Swim Happy, My Friends!

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Ironman Florida: The Final Chapter

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It’s hard to believe its been well over a year ago since we all stood in front of this truck, after a day of volunteering, ready and excited for the challenges lie ahead.

r600x600A year later and an easy hundred years wiser, we all gathered again to celebrate the accomplishment…..and to to pay a bit of gratitude to those who were kind enough to TOLERATE us while preparing to go the distance.

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got cake?

Folks, it is not easy being the one that has to listen to this garbage day in and day out so it’s always nice to say a little thank you. Especially if you have ANY intentions of doing this crap again! 😉 But before we celebrated all that was right in the world, I had to attend to 1 looming issue….

a meesly 5k.

Once again, Mother Nature did not fail. A cold front blew in around 2am so the temperatures dropped and the wind howled. No it was not sub-zero and snowing, but just like you northerners have issues racing down here in the deep south come April/May (which really, it is NOT hot), we have issues acclimatizing to 35-40 F in November/December. But at least the rain had stopped!

There wasn’t a lot to this race because I’d had no Zone 4 work in a year. The only Zone 3 I had under me was when I would skate the upper end of Zone 2 during a half-ironman or when I was on the brink of heat exhaustion during summer training. So I really had no idea what to expect other than to not enjoy it one single bit. I find it’s better to just be brutally honest with oneself!

Heading out, I had NO idea what my best stand alone 5k time actually was and I didn’t want to know….I didn’t want it in my head. It wasn’t going to change anything for the better and MIGHT do so for the worse.

As everyone lined up, I picked out a few  people to “follow”, one of those being my husband. The gun fired and we all head out. The advice I was given was to just ease into the 1st mile. From there, instructions shifted to more of a”gimme 2 and make it hurt” approach. For what it’s worth, I don’t know if there is any possible way to ease into the first mile of a 5k, but I certainly kept it in mind.

During the first half-mile, I kept my husband within 100-200 ft, but then he was gone. I was still cold despite a nice warm-up and even though I felt like I was “working” hard, it didn’t feel impossible. Yet! I crossed 1 mile and saw 7:45 on my Garmin. This was unchartered territory outside a sprint triathlon (always run faster off the bike) and since I “eased” into the first mile I told myself, “Carpe Diem! This thing started sub-8 and it now gets to finish sub-8!”

So while I lost my husband (because little did I know he had visions of 22 minute 5k), I did pick out a couple of people who I needed to keep within my sights. There was one person, in particular, that I was keeping closer than normal. When the 2 mile chime went off and I saw 7:51, I was relieved to be holding pace since things were becoming increasingly difficult. Only 1 mile to go! Little did I know, this last mile would be into the wind and up a slight hill…

Ok, maybe it was more of a driveway-ish incline…

The nice thing about completing 140.6 miles is that it sorta gives the feeling of empowerment. That last mile was HARD and I REALLY wanted to stop for a second to reset my stride (excuses?) and catch my breath. In the past, I just might have done it. This time, I was able to think rationally despite both being hypoxic and drowning in lactic acid. I convinced myself that, “NO…stopping is NOT necessary! Its ONE MILE, less than 8 minutes…get over it, get it done!”

And so I did.

Almost a month to the day after finishing my first Ironman, I ran my fastest 5k…..Crossing at 24:29 and surpassing my previous time by 1 minute and 1 second. That effort was rewarded with 3rd in the 40-44 AG, 9th female overall, and 38th out of 200 runners. Consistency is a marvelous thing and I give a ton of credit to my wonderful coach that stresses THAT above everything else.

So what’s a girl to do after a year like this?

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Naturally!

As of Friday, we will be spending the next 9 days at the most magical place on Earth!

Here’s wishing all of y’all a safe and festive holiday season!

And always…

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 Last Two Weeks….

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Well not the LAST two weeks…

More like the PAST two weeks, because there’s still 2 more out there…

and let me just say, WOW!

The past 2 have been rough. I’m not sure if it’s been more of a mental or physical battle, but after Augusta EVERYTHING has seemed ten times harder.

The give a shitter has just about given out.

Each and every workout has been minute by minute bargain with myself.

“Just make it to 15 minutes and see how you feel. Ok, now 15 more…..ok, not so bad, now another…” and so on, until the days work is finished. Nothing really HURTS physically, but I’ve reached my saturation point, for sure.

1383144_680189891998635_451716297_nToo late to quit now though, right??!!

It’s like riding up a hill. You get to that point where you just put your head down, push a little harder, and FINALLY you get to the top!

And so today, things look and feel pretty good from the top of Ironman Hill.

The gradual taper has begun, the hard part is behind me, and it’s all downhill from here.

A pleasant change indeed.

A few highlights from the past couple of weeks…

Swim: Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve swam between 4200-5000 yards almost every time I’ve gotten in the pool. It was ridiculously exhausting and a smidge boring. At one point, I was so tired I couldn’t even muster enough energy to hold myself on top of the water. I was basically sinking. I could feel it, but there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to correct it. Very frustrating. Thankfully, it only happened once during this whole training cycle because it’s this kind of crap that really messes with your mind and causes all sorts of questions to start popping up.

Bike: I am so sick of being on the bike. I can’t even begin to express my displeasure at seeing a cycling workout in Training Peaks right now. Last weekend was the last of the really long rides and I finished things off with my first century event (102 miles technically). Thankfully, I’ve done so many 6+ hr rides it was a piece of cake, aside from constant climbing involved. I think the elevation tallied right around 2000 ft, which isn’t a lot for some of you, I know, but for me it’s a helluva lot!  At least I know I’m ready for IMLou should I decide to ever go that route though!

Run: I’ve gotten the 3 hr long done and think I have a solid plan set for the marathon portion of the race. Having never run one makes things interesting to say the least, but I’ve gotten several runs over the 2:30 mark accomplished and feel pretty good about my pacing. If the weather is co-operative then it will be that much easier, if it’s not….well, I’ve got that down to a science too.

This next week, as recovery/taper starts, the volume begins to come down. Things seem to level off a bit later in the week and that pattern continues for the next 10 days or so, until race week. At that point there is quite a bit of downtime to assure the body is both fresh and rested.

And so now….

The waiting begins…

Wish me luck!

Train 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….

3

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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…

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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!

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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….

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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! 🙂

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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!

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