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- 21 Weeks and Counting

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Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans -John Lennon

This has turned into the summer of outdoor home repair.

So while it is summer and I should be free to gallivant around town….swimming, biking, and running to my hearts desire, I’m bound to the schedule of those helping us get our exterior in order.

So I sit and wait…

For the painters, for the guys repairing our failing bulkhead (a seawall keeping out land OUT of the bayou), the gutter man, the pool leak detector, the pool REPAIRMAN (because the guy who FINDS the leak can’t actually REPAIR it…WTF???!!), and the landscapers….

There’s a story here….

So I walked out back, early one morning, and said hello to our wonderful painters. I looked at our pool/hot tub and noticed the hot tub was totally empty and leaking into the yard.

GREAT!

So I filled it up and went to run my 6 miles, rationalizing I’d “test” how quickly it emptied…

Yea well, it was empty 52 minutes and 49 seconds later.

Also why I called the leak detector guy….who then told me there was a leak (no??!!), but he doesn’t fix them!

I then got to perform my Crossfit routine for the week by digging out the yard to FIND it…

Oh, and I found it alright….

And my wonderful pool guy came out on Saturday and fixed it. 😉

And my wonderful husband got to backfill the yard. 😉

I’d like to say this is a rare occurrence around here, but it’s not. We’re starting to believe we built this house on ancient burial grounds or something because this has pretty much been how our life has gone since we built the place 4 years ago.

If all else fails, laugh!

Often!

I’ve gotten my training in, but it has been a chore.

  • Swimming: I’m averaging right at 9000 yrds a week divided up over 3 swims. I tried like hell, this week, to drop down to a 2 beat kick and finally gave it up. I’ve used a 4-6 beat for so long that it was not only slowing me down, but also ruining my roll to the point my back started to hurt. I have added in a few more kick sets though to help boost the overall strength of my kick. I know a lot of triathletes don’t utilize a lot of kicking, but I was a swimmer first and I kick quite a bit.
  • Cycling: I hit right around 6 hours in the saddle, also split over 3 sessions; 2 shorter/1 longer. The big development was my Quarq started misbehaving and you’d like to think I could no longer pedal without it. I LOVE that thing! I’m hoping it was due to some residual dirt and grime on the magnets, but I won’t know for sure until after todays ride. I spent yesterday de-greasing everything, giving it all a good cleaning, and then a fresh application of Rock and Roll Dry Lube. That is some good stuff!!! If that doesn’t do the trick then it’s off to the LBS for some adjustments with the torque wrench. I’ll keep ya’ posted!!
  • Running: It’s hot and humid, but I’m doing alright. For the first time in ages I’ve got a really good grip on the heat and how to manage my longer runs in the current conditions. My longest so far (post Gulf Coast) is 1:10 and building. It’s the shorter ones that tend to cause me more problems because they usually involve drills, hills, or pick-ups…no speed work per-say, but enough “work” to make me a little more uncomfortable in the heat. The goal, during those workouts, has been to not only complete the session, but to keep the negative chatter away. So far, I’ve been able to do so.

Next week is a step back week and my coach was nice enough to sneak a run test onto the schedule as well…

It’s been a while since that was evaluated so it should certainly be interesting.

I hope everyone is having a great summer training and racing.

Best of Luck to everyone tackling Ironman Kansas and Ironman Boise this weekend as well!

Race Happy, My Friends!

racer

A little perspective….

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Last Sunday I wrapped up the last  “long” weekend of training before Gulf Coast 70.3.

It was brutally windy with near 100% humidity. I had the pleasure of biking and running in it for 4 hours. Yeah me!

It was, however, superb practice for the potentially miserable conditions I may be facing on May 11th. As a matter of fact, this shitty weather has become the norm around here. So in reality, I should be VERY well prepared for this race! should be……

So the work is done…

The hay is in the barn….

I’ve resorted to stalking the local news channel, but alas it only goes out 7 days and it’s not giving me any information regarding winds and seas.

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I’ll have to defer to Jim Cantore and The Weather Channel for the specifics I guess!

rough waters from last year

rough waters from last year

Basically I’m trying to get my head wrapped around a very rough swim in the Gulf and a very, very windy ride through Panama City Beach….

Then there’s a humid 13.1 to cap it off….

Did you know the official nickname of Gulf Coast is Gulf Roast?

Hmmm, I did not until earlier this week and I am so grateful to the individual who shared that with me! 🙂

 

2 very good things:

  1. I’m wearing an orange cap…
  2. I’m the 2nd wave to hit the water at 6:25am….

A friend of mine sent me an email yesterday to reminded me a little perspective is never a bad thing…..

“Some think guts is sprinting at the end of a race. But guts is what got you there to begin with. Guts start back in the hills with 6 miles to go and you’re thinking of how you can get out of this race without anyone noticing. Guts begin when you still have forty minutes of torture left and you’re already hurting more than you ever remember.”

-George Sheehan

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Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Race Happy, My Friends!

racer

3 things on this Thursday….

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It’s been 1 of those days…

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You know….those kind of days when you have to dig REAL deep to keep from ripping someones head of….

Must be the frazzled neurons….hours upon hours swimming, biking, and running don’t do much for increasing my already microscopic level of patience.

So I spent today trying to find my inner sane self….

Apparently it’s buried….way down deep…

Dharma Mittra 2

 

Since I wasn’t having much success I did the only smart thing I could think of….

I went to the pool…

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And a tidal wave of sanity came over me….

Kinnda…

3000 yards later all seemed right with the world..

Sorta…

Or maybe, I was just too tired to care anymore!

Either way, I’ll take it!

 

Swim Happy, My Friends!

swimmer

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

OverHaulin’

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Last spring, once it became abundantly clear that I was NOT going to be running seriously for a while I needed something to do.

Enter the summer of OverHaulin’ ….the swim stroke!

When I came back from Galveston, in April, I wasn’t particularly happy with my swim time and realized working on technique was the ONLY thing that was going to lead to any significant improvement.

What I didn’t quite understand was just HOW difficult this would prove to be….

The key was (and still is) basically retraining the brain and that, my friends, is crazy-ass hard!

Research has long proved it takes 3,000-5,000 repetitions to correct an incorrect movement.

To put that in perspective…..

There were 7-8 “little” things I was perpetually doing wrong and I could only work on 1 of them at a time or else my poor brain would never get a handle on ANY of it!

And by the way, it felt like it took at least a million times to grasp things! I don’t know whose on the 5,000 fast track…NOT ME!

So I’d master 1 task through spot on perfect repetition and then move to the next movement dysfunction…repeat the process, then the next, and so on….and so on and so on. You get it…

Finally, in late summer, I was able to start putting it all together….

Only 2 (yup 2!) strokes out of every 18-21 performed were actually done correctly when the process first began. I TOLD you it was crazy-ass hard! I went from swimming 3000 yrds to barely being able to finish 25 yards!!

Eventually, my brain and body began to sync. The stroke itself became easier, more fluent, and my speed naturally picked up….I found my mind wandering off to my “TO DO” list once again….a big ole NO-NO apparently!

When swimming, ONLY think about swimming! Same applies to running, cycling, stretching, yoga, weight training, core work…etc….BE IN THE MOMENT and get the most from the moment! And that’s your tip of the day! 😉

It took almost 6 months of diligent and focused work, but I’m proud to say my stroke has been totally overhauled!

Now here’s another interesting factoid: if you learn the correct movement right from the start, it only takes 300-500 repetitions to master that fresh movement pattern!

THAT would’ve been a MUCH easier way to go!!

The interesting take-away point: If you are a new swimmer….find someone to TEACH you the skill!! Don’t do it yourself and develop BAD habits which will be harder to reverse later!!

Personally, I’d much rather perform repetitions in the hundreds compared to the thousands….wouldn’t you?

And let us not forget as well…..

Never stop practicing the basics! The more correct repetitions performed, the more likely we are to master it permanently! And THAT is a wonderful thing!!

Each and every time I get in the pool, after a nice warm up, I go through a series of fundamental drills to reinforce the neuromuscular pathways that have developed. I NEVER want to forget how to perform these movements and if I slack on the basics, my form suffers. I can tell immediately.

How much has it helped you ask?? Has it really been worth the 6 months of chlorine damaged skin, ruined swimsuits (I went through 3), and the severely bruised ego?

On average, my 100 yard split has dropped between 10-15 secs while my perceived exertion has remained constant, if not easing a little.

If I hadn’t lived it, I don’t think I’d believe it!

There is a lot of work yet to do and I’m still building endurance in the small muscles that are not accustomed to being used and abused for such long periods of time, but overall it has been nothing short of amazing!

Well worth every single stroke, wouldn’t you say?! 😉

I’m now applying this same knowledge and technique to my running form. I’ll keep ya’ posted on how that goes. I’m about a month in and it’s no easier on land than in the water, but I’m already feeling some positive changes!

Swim Happy, My Friends!

Third Times A Charm

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Injury always seems to be a 1 step forward, two-step back kinnda thing…

As soon as the tide seems to turn in a positive direction, something happens and it’s back to square 1…..or at least square 2 or 3.

I got hurt back in March.

 

It’s now the end of October and I’m finally optimistic about 2013.

I’ve put in the time to rectify all that went wrong and while it’s an ongoing process, I’m FINALLY back to pain-free training.

I’ve logged over 4 weeks of 15+ mi/wk runs and while that doesn’t sound like much, just a few months ago this was impossible. There were days when I couldn’t make it 2 miles around the track because it just hurt too damn bad.

Then, once that eased, my running fitness was so shot I needed an oxygen tank to run an 11min/mi. A very hard pill to swallow knowing what I was doing this time last year.

But I  kept pushing forward, as we all do, trying desperately to not become discouraged or overwhelmed by frustration. Finally, within the last 2 weeks I was finally able to run an easy 10k in just under an hour.

No real struggle, no hard effort, just a nice hour run…..

I was able to accomplish it 2 weeks in a row, but decided to keep my excitement to myself because I didn’t want to jinx my good fortune.

Last Friday, I was able to knock it out a 3rd time. It took me a little longer that go round (1:00:20), but I was ready to log it and finally felt like it was ok to talk about it.

Third time’s a charm! 😉

That fear of sliding backwards, yet again, has been put to bed and good things are happening!

The Future’s Looking Bright!

Run Happy, my Friends!

 

 

 

 

A First of Sorts…

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-“Condition gounded, but determined to try” -Pink Floyd…. Learning To Fly

 

Tomorrow was supposed to be my last race of the season, but it is not to be.

No real surprise, but I’m still a bit disappointed. I raced the Santa Rosa Tri last year so I really wanted to use it, this year, to measure year over year progress.

Seeing how I have yet to log any considerable pain-free mile since March, I decided a few weeks ago that participating was really pointless.

And I was REALLY, REALLY tired of racing injured and hurting, only to be frustrated with the end result.

So now a new experience….

My 1st DNS!!!!

And hopefully my last! 😉

My hip and glute are feeling closer to normal with each day. I’ve been able to return to running and cycling. While I finally don’t hurt DURING activity, I do tighten up quite a bit after all is said and done. A lot of tissue work is still being performed to keep things loose and mobile.

Sometimes I’m successful….other times not so much.

As does the healing process go…

So racing, right now, is out of the question.

And there are bigger goals on the horizon for 2013.

I’m learning…

Slowly, but surely!

Run Happy, My Friends!

Hotter Than….

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Hell in an oven right about now!

As a result, I was feeling my annual need to say something about how essential it is to adjust run paces to the heat, humidity, and overall misery of the great outdoors.

Every year twitter starts buzzing (twitting??) and the questioning starts on Daily Mile…

“Its so damn hot….How much should I slow down?”

Which really means,

“How much should I struggle to maintain my normal pace and hope I don’t keel over and die?”

It’s a given that we MUST dial things down a notch or two in the summer and if you’re the type that freaks (who me???) when the Garmin trends higher and higher as the temperature does the same,

Well, these two charts are for you…..

from RunOnTexas.com

Another way to look at it below from jeffgalloway.com

This was from long ago before he became the run/walk advocate he is today so this is geared more towards straight out runners….

Estimated temperature at finish – adjustment – 8min/mi becomes:

55-60 degrees – 1% – 8:05
60-65 degrees – 3% – 8:15
65-70 degrees – 5% – 8:25
70-75 degrees – 7% – 8:35
75-80 degrees – 12% – 8:58
80-85 degrees – 20% – 9:35
Above 85 degrees – Forget it… run for fun

You can check out the long version here: http://wp.me/p1lOIa-lt  if you’re so inclined, but the information isn’t new.

Keep in mind, these examples only factor the temperature. They are not adding time for long runs or recovery runs.

However, depending on where you’re reading this, some “experts” would argue that ALL summer running should be “easy” and that it’s a good time to put down the GPS for a few months.

Easier said than done, I know….I KNOW!!!

I tend to follow the 1st flow chart because heat and humidity combined tend to be our biggest issue down here in South Mississippi.

This morning, at 5:30am, our low was 88F and the humidity was 92%. Now when the sun rises the humidity drops a bit to the 70% range, but the temperature rises to the 95F range….

It usually only takes a week or two, struggling through June workouts, for me to realize why I consider the summer my “off-season.”

At the same time, it’s always good to keep things in perspective and realize it could always be worse!!

OUCH!

Y’all stay safe out there!

Run Happy, My Friends!