adventures of a mere mortal in fitness and life

Archive for the ‘triathlon’ Category

the race that almost wasn’t

Driving well over the speed limit on the interstate in a construction zone, I berated myself in my head for overscheduling and underplanning for the race I was currently about to be late to arrive at. Coming off a 2 day conference for me and a 2 day Ragnar race for Mr. Prepared in which heat index was over 100 degrees  and multiple factors made him late arriving to the finish line Saturday night, Sunday morning seemed like about the worst time to pick up triathlon racing again.

I had really good intentions when I started packing my tri gear on Thursday night before I left for downtown. I meant to finish packing it and go through my checklist…I just didn’t. Truthfully, the leaving the kids and going off in different directions (him to Madison, me to Chicago) was annoying. Coming back to that half-packed bag and unprepared bike after 9 PM Saturday night did not motivate me to get it done like I should have.

Big mistake.

Basically, I didn’t fall asleep (tossing and turning thinking about all that I had learned at the conference) plus not preparing and then needing to wake up “early” led to about 4 hours of sleep. Plus, I hit the snooze. Then I screwed around in the kitchen for a while and futzed with the coffee, changed my racing uniform (I never do this), showered (def I never do this), scrolled the old FB feed with coffee cup #1, and …DAMMIT! I should have left a half hour ago!!!  Shit! I have nothing ready!  

Time for panic. Threw some more things in the half assed bag and tossed bike into back of truck. See, cuz the thing was I was also supposed to be there early because I had to pick up my packet, which they were offering for a little while the morning of since I didn’t get to packet pickup the day before (because people have lives?!?).

Side Note: Packet pickup is important because that’s where you get your timing chip, swim cap for your heat, and your swag. The swag was $$ in this race- a biking tank with gel pockets and what not. Perfect for the summer and way better than some crappy T-shirt. 

Anyways, on the hour drive to the race, I realized early on that I forgot my coffee and my pre-race water. For those that don’t know me, life just isn’t worth being awake if you don’t have morning coffee. So that sucked. I had nothing and I don’t have time to stop. I started drinking out of my race water bottle, banking that I would find water there (I didn’t but I also didn’t try because of reasons I’ll detail in a sec). I started wondering about all the other important stuff I could have forgotten and wondered whether to throw in the towel and turn around. But I really wanted that tank top. And I was already on my way so…

Crack of dawn being on my side, I made good time, only to roll close to the venue to find it inundated with cars. There was like zero parking anywhere close. I kind of expected this, but I didn’t plan for it. My go to triathlon pop-up bag is not like a backpack- it’s like a “mom”style tote (AKA drunk purchase made at an “Initials” party many years ago. You know the one piece you “had” to have after 4 cocktails? Yup, it’s that one). It does not just sling over your shoulder so you can ride your bike the FAR distance to the place where you pick up the packets. Basically, it sucks. Obvi, I am so fucking far out of practice preparing for races that I had basically messed up every step so far.

Good news was that I had all USAT required equipment- like a helmet, so I was still in the game. I pulled the ole race bike out of the back and … maybe I should have checked the tires before I left. No problem. I had the bike pump in the car and could pump them up. They definitely needed air, and … air was not going in. Nope, not at all. The valve extenders were spinning around and I knew there was something wrong, but I couldn’t fix it with what I had in my bike bag. Fuck it, I said. I‘ll ride on flat-ish tires. Maybe I will get a flat and then I won’t have to do the stupid race. 

I basically convinced myself that I would pick up my packet, get my tank top, and leave with my flat tires when I realized that if I didn’t just do the stupid triathlon, I was going to have to go home and recreate the experience. This race was not meant to be an end- it was really just a high-intensity training block for the week. When I thought about how I would have to recreate the logistics at home, I decided to grab my packet and continue on. I rolled over to the bike mechanic stand (which I had totally forgotten existed! YES!)  and said (nonchalantly), “Hey can you put air in my tires?” knowing full well some shit was messed up in there, or else I would have been able to do it myself.

The mechanic tried airing them with two different pumps before he tested it and determined the valve inside the valve extender was closed. I have these shitty ass valve extenders that look cool but are a pain in the ass (well now I have one less because he actually TOOK one from me that morning). Anyways, he pulled the old tube, tried a new one, same thing, didn’t work. Meanwhile, the clock was creeping ever closer to the transition area closing. Finally, when we were within 5 minutes of transition close, he got the right tube and put the tire and wheel back on the bike like a ninja!  I offered to pay (having cash for the first time ever at a triathlon…another sign of the apocalypse) but he just sent me off with a thank you yelled over my shoulder.

I get to the athlete entrance, no stickers on my bike or helmet. This kind of dumb, unprepared shit is where being at a “beginner-friendly” triathlon worked in my favor. Everyone was so stinkin’ nice to me, just in case it was my first time. A lot of races you will get volunteers on power trips yelling at you if you do something wrong. However, these volunteers were helping me unearth my sticker packet from my mom-tote and talking to me really gently, and I about broke down in tears because I didn’t even understand why everyone was being so nice when I hadn’t done a single thing right this morning.

However, I was too panicked to be filled with gratitude yet because transition closed in 4 minutes and you have to have your stuff set up and be out of there. It’s a big deal. Lots of people come an hour early, take time to set up, do warm-ups or a quick jog (this is what I do), and I was doing the exact opposite. And…there were no more spots on the bike racks in my wave. Everyone had already set up perfectly front-back-front-back on the racks and who could blame them? No one was expecting a late-as-shit-hot-mess coming in Wave 10.

I saw an opening in a Wave 11 rack and just took it. The people who were set up had already left to walk down to the water, and they would probably be mad when they returned, but whatever, the race would have started!

Mom-tote had way too much crap in it, including my MF driver’s license (found and lost this again since then!), car keys, and cash floating freely about in it, but I shoved everything down in it, threw the necessities on top, grabbed some gel (mostly for the caffeine! My lord!), my wetsuit and my cap and …broken goggles. Shit. I heard them sending in the not-so-gentle volunteers to close transition. He came my way and I just put my hand up, told him my goggles were broken and that it would take a minute to see if I could fix them. He backed away, clearing seeing the rabid dog look in my eye, and I was able to fix them. I headed out of transition toward the beach.

lake poolI got to the beach, expecting a lake (beach-lake- this is a natural association, yes?) and was VERY surprised to see a rather large sort-of natural pool. In my head I was like “uh-oh” because my strength is swimming in large bodies of water, not competing in a weird 100 meter hybrid pool/lake. Ah well. At this point, I was more about just involving myself in the experience and letting the rest sort itself out. I let go of ambitions about placing in my age group and reminded myself that this was my first rodeo in a while and it was okay to just enjoy the event, not treat it like my own personal trophy collection opportunity.

We waited about a half-hour for our wave to start swimming, and during that time, I was able to get my gratitude in order. How lucky was I that everything worked out and everyone was so nice? I even broke my ponytail holder during this time and the woman in front of my took her extra off her wrist and gave it to me! The attitude of being happy and grateful to participate was contagious. I entered the water in excited anticipation.

swim espirit de she 2016The rest of the race was pretty much history. (I know, right? You thought this would be all about that race! Wah wah. ;)) Once I entered the water, my drama went away. I swam quickly, playing follow the leader with the other woman in my wave who swam out front of it with me. We swapped the lead several times as we maneuvered through the slower swimmers from the waves in front of us. It was not my favorite swim as it was the most crowded one I have ever done. We exited into a long transition, running to our bikes as I pulled off my wetsuit. It actually came off pretty effortlessly despite having no Body Glide on my body (yup…forgotten).
bike espirit de she 2016We hopped on our bikes, and started off. The woman who came out of the water ahead of me took off. Letting someone gap me like that is generally ok with me, because whomever I come out of the water with, they are 97/100 times a MUCH better biker than me. This was a two lap “criterion-style” closed course for the bike, which I actually enjoyed a lot. I liked the closed course because it allowed you a lot of freedom from decision-making of passing and having to be super mindful of traffic. I pushed pretty hard on the bike, looking to see what kind of gains I had made from improved strength training and more time in the saddle lately. I was not quite to the point “Dear God, when will this end?”, which is my typical end of bike feeling, when we rolled to the end of the course. However, the fun part was about to begin.

The run started in transition and my goodness, my legs felt like crap. I haven’t practiced a bike to run transition or workout since last…June? and it was obvious. Parts of my body were clearly pissed that I was running. So I slowed, trying to stay conservative, which just led my mind to all the thoughts of quitting one more time. I crossed over the threshold into the “deal-making” stage and made a deal that if I just kept running, I was fine with however slow I wanted to run. So it got slow! But at about 2-2.5 miles, I actually started to feel better!  I was like “Great, the run is ending and NOW I feel better?” LOL. Ran it in fast and then just laid there with a cold towel on my face for a few minutes outside the finish line.

bike susanI was so relieved to be done and happy to have made it through. Looking at my splits, my run was negatively out of proportion with my performance on the swim and bike legs, so it will be the main focus as it has been for the rest of the summer. I took my extra coupon from the race and used it to sign up for the international distance at the Chicago Triathlon in the end of August. Between now and then, I’d like to get in a few more races. Mostly because (when you’re prepared) they are fun and I enjoy it. Plus, you’re done early and can still grab breakfast, which is really the part I excel at. 😉 (As anyone who was on the Stevenson High School swim team in the mid-90s can attest to my breakfast-eating prowess.)

Takeaways: Being on time and being prepared is really important. Do these two things and you’re most of the way there. The race is just the fun part! 

 

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Mighty Mac Training Week of 7.27.15

It’s usually about this time in the summer when I get to some real fatigue with sticking to a training plan. I should know this about myself by now- I can be really “bus bench” (Dan John term) focused on a training plan for about 5 months, but as things start to linger beyond 6 months, I like to stray. And this week proved to me that I haven’t changed.

Fortunately for me, I have become a *teeny* bit smarter so that I don’t fall completely off the plan and start doing Zumba, but for sure, I am not one to be a complete rule follower. My older sister might say it’s the Gemini rising sign in me. She’s probably right- at least I can’t think of any other reason I have such trouble sticking with a plan for a long duration. On the upside, it keeps my life interesting, spontaneous, flexible, and FUN. Since fun is kind of one of my core values, training plans can sometimes seem a little “un”fun.

I knew I had been slacking a little in the speed and power category of training- one thing I think I have been consistent with in this training cycle is duration- getting the distance down. The distance/duration aspect has always been a challenge for me, and definitely will prevent me from trying some kind of insane long distance racing like Ironmans or marathons for the time being (probably forever). So, I have been proud of getting those long swims nailed. Looking at the calendar for this week, I realized I had a 5.5 mile swim on the books. My shoulders sagged a bit, and my fingers hit the keyboard. Jackpot. I could do a triathlon this weekend, bank some “mileage” on that event, and swim a little less.

Of course, let me explain that I know very well HOW a training plan works. I just don’t CHOOSE to do it the way it’s written. I understand that these choices may have CONSEQUENCES, but those are what I am willing to deal with, and this blog is just a way (for the time being, anyways) to record those choices and how they affected my overall goal achievement.

And YOU’RE WELCOME. My gain or blunder can only be a benefit to you– you don’t have to make these mistakes because I am already making them for you! 😉

So, without further ado….

Monday 7/27- 2.4 mile swim in Trout Lake- thanks to Vicky and Joe for hanging out til the moon came out!
Tuesday 7/28- squat + deadlift
Wednesday, 7/29 – nothing (I’m not really sure what happened here)
Thursday, 7/30- bench + 30 minute run (trying to make up for Wednesday, and “prep” for the triathlon, LOL)
Friday, 7/31- squat + deadlift

Let me just stop here and say that one thing I learned is that 48 hours is not quite enough time between squatting and racing. Since the race was truly intended to be a workout, I understood that this may happen. But if you plan to race, don’t assume 48 hours is enough. My legs were TIRED on the bike.

Saturday, 8/1- pool swim (short pool 23.5 yards) – 2 miles
800 WU 
800 pull
8×100 moderate pace ~ 1:15/94 yards (short pool, remember!)
400 pull
4×100 fast pace ~ (1:10)
200 pull
2×100 sprint (1:06, 1:08)

Cooldown  — Idk. I know I hit two miles, but I have to add lengths here and there to get to two miles, which in the short pool is 150 lengths.

Sunday, 8.2- Wolverineman Triathlon, Halfmoon Beach, Pinckney Rec.

I just have to say that I love doing Epic Races races. Not because I just think their team is great and they helped me with my fundraising a ton (they did! THANK YOU!), but the whole package is better. The crowd is a little more manageable, the vibe is friendlier, the swag and food is always tons better, and there was beer at the finish. BEER. (I didn’t drink any because I had some swimming to do after, but…BEER.) And most of the ones I have done- the run is partly on trail, which my knees and hips appreciate, and I like it aesthetically so much better.

highlights and lowlights: I started the race and had immediate drag on my chest as I was swimming. I was like “What the heck?” and thought maybe the elastic on the top had blown out or something, which would have been a bummer. But then I got out and was like, “Oh, you forgot to zip up your top, dingbat.” <– Typical. Zipped up top, got on bike. Bike will be a big focus for me if I choose to keep racing tris next summer. i haven’t been on as much as I wanted to be, and thus, the specificity aspect of going fast on two wheels has suffered. So the bike was slower than I hoped. I was very familiar with the course, however, as I have ridden those roads a lot. Run was pretty good, considering the hills/trail. A big thanks to Bart for pushing me through the beginning of the run. He picked up my pace after I dive-rolled the bridge crossing (ow!), and kept me going until he peeled off to finish his mini-sprint distance about halfway through my run. I kept after it, with my main goal being to not walk, and not slow down. I am pretty sure I accomplished both of those things. However, i have no working Garmin data to prove it, LOL.

wolverineman triathlon

My hair was staging a rebellion against braids, clearly.

Overall, as is my theme of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”… ended up 3rd OA, 1st in 35-39 AG. And thus I got some sweet new socks. 🙂 Gotta be happy with the race as a workout and the result. I am slower than last year, but given the volume of sport-specific training I have done, I am working above my expectations for this kind of event.

After I got home, I ate a giant egg/cheese/bacon sandwich. Then, my lovely neighbor Julie, paddled alongside me as I swam 2 more miles in my home lake. And then I was pooped. 🙂

This weekend we head to Sleeping Bear and Lake Michigan…more swimming, YAY!

what is the offseason?

Tuesday I found myself with 3 strangers on a pickleball court playing a game I had never even seen before. I know what you’re thinking…wait, no I don’t. Ok, you’re either thinking:

1. Damn, the offseason has gone to her head. 

OR

2. I LOVE PICKLEBALL! Where do you play because my courts are always crowded and…

dory

Dude, pickleball is fun. OK, it’s pretty fun but probably would be more fun if I wore my glasses. Point being, I love to PLAY. New sports, new activities, I do them ALL. Well, most of them. I haven’t done Zumba, but I am pretty sure I would like it. I joke that I have exercise ADD. I joke with my strength training class that it is perfectly acceptable to break out into “spontaneous planks” at any time. They laugh. I tell them that pretty much all I do right now is spontaneous exercise, which is TRUE. I spontaneously did kickboxing a couple of days ago, then there is the pickleball, water aerobics, a squats race during TV commercials, you know, the usual. 😉

Right? It is the usual for us to keep on moving, yes? Try new things, yes? I find so much joy in moving my body in new  and potentially awkward ways. It’s liberating, healthy, and humiliating enriching!  I recently checked out an “offseason” triathlon article a bit ago…you know, the typical, “Make Your Offseason Count!!! blah blah blah” and as I was reading it, I was like, “How is this plan different from my training plan?” I mean, let’s be honest, I don’t know that I even always run 4 times a week in the IN-season. Offseason is OFF-season, not a trickled down continuation of all the structured training crap you did in the IN-season.

Playtime is what keeps us happy and motivated to the do the “must-do”s in our lives. If I continue to swim,bike, and run, it certainly begins to feel like a “must do”. We love the camaraderie we get from having shared physical activity experiences, so my goal is to extend that into true OFF-season activities, by which I do not mean 12 oz. arm curls, people. So, unplug your Garmin and your Strava, stop re-watching Kona on the trainer, and in case anyone wants to learn to play racquetball together, let me know. My OFF-season schedule is WIDE OPEN.

2014 race season review

In early September, I struggled to decide that my 2014 racing season was at its end. I was a little depressed about this as I listened to others talk about their upcoming races and watched my husband prepare to complete his second 100-miler in October (success!). However, I know that I have nothing to be depressed about, as I look back on my season and see that I made significant progress and accomplished a lot of goals.

My 2014 “big” goal was to complete a half-Iron distance race. Some people use the term “1/2 Ironman” but I didn’t do an “Ironman” branded event, so I think we will call it what it is. I completed Rev3 WI Dells in about 6:30:XX, on a tough course on a hot day. What a beautiful course! I learned a lot about what to do and how to prepare in hindsight. I thought I was more prepared than I was, but I realize now that I probably hit my peak of training about 3-4 weeks after this race (on the next peak!). This is helpful to know how to plan for next year, although given a more normal winter, I might have had enough time in the saddle outside on the road to prepare for a half by the end of June. I also learned a bit about course selection (although everyone will tell you that every course is tough), there was an awful lot of vertical on that course for which this (now) Midwestern girl was not prepared! Additionally, I think I overtapered-I strayed off plan a lot the last 2 weeks before the race. I do not taper well, and I should know that by now, but as it was my first long event, I deferred to Mr. Prepared as to how I should feel heading into the race. Overall, I think I did OK considering my preparation and the course. I nailed my nutrition and hydration, which is often a rookie mistake. My goal for next year will certainly be to crack 6 hours at this distance.

Finishing with the family- a REV3 tradition!

Finishing with the family- a REV3 tradition!

The weather was also a factor in prepping for my half-marathon at the end of March. Training went pretty well, although I realize that I should have put in more long runs prior to the event. Also, I know that shoe mixing is important! I ran pretty exclusively in one pair of shoes for a couple of months prior to the event, and my feet paid dearly on race day, and for a couple of weeks after. I don’t think it was entirely the shoes, but I do think they played a role in addition to my lack of multiple long runs (10+ miles). My goal was to finish under 2 hours, and I got pretty close- 2:01:XX. I feel pretty certain I can improve on that number in the spring, provided I am consistent with my running frequency, which I have found is the key to injury prevention for me.

A picture from Sarah before my half-marathon in March- those girls are one reason I race.

A picture from Sarah before my half-marathon in March- those girls are a BIG reason I race.

Thus, lessons learned in the early going of 2014 were to be more prepared- train up to distance prior to the race more often, don’t taper too much, and plan for peak fitness later in the season.

I started my tri season with a bang- winning my first “First Overall” award at Island Lake Spring Tri at the end of May. I totally should have done the Olympic, but kind of chickened out and went for the sprint. It’s OK- I love to sprint, what can I say? And that course seems to love me too.

Woot Woot! 2 Buck chuck and a duffel bag for the winner. :)

Woot Woot! 2 Buck chuck and a duffel bag for the winner. 🙂

I had some fun doing my first adventure triathlon at the Battle of Waterloo in July. What a blast! This is the kind of race for me, I thought. Again, my fitness was better, although I can’t say I went crazy training after the half-iron, but I was certainly consistent enough to see gains. This race has prompted me to consider doing a similar race in New York called Survival of the Shawangunks in the next couple of years, as well as get my butt on my mountain bike consistently in order to train for some Xterra off-road tris.

More fun was had a few weeks later at the Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee, WI. My goals were to enjoy the experience and get my Olympic time under 2:30:00. It was easy to accomplish the first goal, as USA Triathlon did an awesome job and the venue/course were excellent. My time was a little off the mark- 2:31:31.  I could have done a better job training after BOW. I didn’t. Olympic distance races don’t scare me anymore, and I knew I wasn’t going to be fast enough to make Team USA, so truthfully, I know I blew off more workouts than I should have, and my bike leg definitely suffered as a result. I didn’t blow off the big bike workouts, but I did blow off the little ones, those that added speed on top my endurance.

in Milwaukee

in Milwaukee

 

I wrapped up 2014 outdoors with a 100 mile charity ride with an awesome group of riders. We had a great time, and while I was probably not ready for 100 miles, I managed it. I had to take 5 days off after, but I managed it. 😉

Riding the GM Proving Grounds during the Tour de Livingston

Riding the GM Proving Grounds during the Tour de Livingston

This racing season had some magical moments that I have waited a couple of years to achieve. It’s amazing to track my progress with this blog, although the evolution of this blog is at a bit of a stagnant stage. Some days, I catch myself looking in the mirror and wondering, “Who’s that?” I still don’t recognize my own image. I remember very vividly how intimidating a 5k seemed, and what a mess I was after my first one. Sometimes, it’s hard to brush off comments like, “Oh well, it’s just a 5k-that’s nothing for you!” because it wasn’t too long ago that it was TOO MUCH for me. I am proud of how far I have come, but I know I have a long way to grow- to continue to learn as I train and teach.

race report: Battle of Waterloo 2014

While my big goal this summer was to complete a half-iron distance race, this race was probably the one for which I was most excited. I mean, who doesn’t relish swimming with their shoes?

This race is truly unique in that it was 10 legs, 2 bike transition areas, 42 miles, lollipop-style course, and you were responsible for carrying your own gear. Which I totally had an awesome plan for…until my bag filled with water.  But I digress…

Anyhow- short summary of the 10 legs so that you can understand better when I am relating the craziness below:

  • 1.5 mile run – mass start; 20.5 mile bike to a second transition area; .5 mile swim across Clear Lake; 4 mile run; .25 mile swim across Mill Lake; 3.4 mile run; .7 mile swim across Crooked Lake; 3.3 mile run to your bike; 5.8 mile bike back to 1st transition area (the short way); 1.5 mile run (same as beginning)

I arrived early, and we started on time. My plan was to keep it slow and steady the first leg, as we had a long day ahead of us. I have been practicing my nose breathing while running a lot, thanks to the continuous hint-dropping of Shawn Kitzman, the amazing movement/manual therapy genius from Synergy Movement Therapy. I actually had to run the race without my HR monitor, since my Garmin strap thingy crapped the bed after 6 months. This was OK, though, because I had my breathing! As long as I could run and breathe through my nose, then I knew I hadn’t moved out of my aerobic zones and into my LTHR (or “Oh Shit” zone, as Shawn likes to call it). All told, my running splits beginning to end were INCREDIBLY consistent, as best as I could tell from my Garmin which ducked in and out of GPS range. AND, I never tired.  I mean, that was about the longest distance I had run in 1 day, EVER! Not that I was aware of that before the race!  A couple of people behind me on the first leg were talking about how if they weren’t out there, they would be “pounding out 14 miles on the pavement, so I guess we will just do it here instead…” and I blurted out, “WHAT? We are running 14 miles today?” and the guy was like, “What? You didn’t add it UP?” and I was like, “NO! I am really good at compartmentalizing!” And then I went into “Oh Shit” breathing for a second, but pulled myself together and got back in my box.

The plan on the bike was to HOLD BACK.  That was super hard. Every time I went to pass someone  who was just a wee bit ahead of me, I had to stop myself.  I told myself that I could pedal like the wind on the second bike leg if I felt up to it. So I held back- still at a good clip, but saving myself for later. This was a good plan.

As we entered the first swim, I was thrilled. I couldn’t tell how I was doing at all, but I was bunched up with a whole lot of ladies. I was like, “Look how great I am doing and we haven’t even SWAM YET!” So I stripped my backpack off, grabbed my bag with shoes and stuff, and zoomed into the water, passing a ton of people. The bag stayed on my back and the shoes stayed pretty dry, although they were pretty wet by the time I ran in them a bit and dripped water all over them from my tri suit.

First Lake- look how much fun I am having!!

First lake swim- look how much fun I am having!!

Running was going well, as it was all trail and gravel road, which is what I run on pretty exclusively.  There was a moment during that 4 mile leg (4th leg) which I realized that I was so blissfully happy to be in the woods and running in a race, but on a trail, and fairly alone, encountering enough people to feel like I was on course, but not so many as to feel bunched up or pushed or anything. It was GLORIOUS!  The varying terrain also made the runs go by quickly, which became more important as the race went on.

Lake #2 was upon me, and I had read that it was essentially chock-full of lily pads. I was rushing to take my shoes off and get in the water, as I imagined some of the women I passed in the lake had made up some ground on me in the run. I forgot to zip my bag and headed into the water. I felt the bag getting heavier (2.5 gallon Ziploc) and I was like, “WTF?” I turned over and tried to grab the bag. Unfortunately, the lily pads and seaweed were so thick you couldn’t tread water much with your legs, which meant that immediately, I was flailing trying to empty out the bag over my head without pouring out the shoes, gel, and body glide. Which of course came to the attention of the closest rescue kayaker who started vigorously paddling toward me. I waved them off saying, “It’s OK! I got this, my bag just filled with water! I am not drowning!” Anyhow, I mostly emptied the bag, stuffed it up my back, and pulled my way through the lily pads and seaweed, repeating “Don’t look down, don’t look down…” That swim was not for the open water faint of heart, people.  I hope everyone was OK out there.

The wet shoes were a burden for the rest of the swim/run legs. I searched at a couple of aid stations for Aquaphor (the aid stations were well-provisioned, including with bug spray, an evil necessity!) before finding some at the beginning of Leg 8, after the last swim.  The women there were awesome. They gave me salt tablets since mine had dissolved in the bag breakdown, and let me take 3 mini tubes of aquaphor to slather on my developing rubs. The swim at Leg #7 was beautiful and fantastic for me as a strong swimmer. I know that it was very difficult to have the longest swim last for those who are not strong swimmers, but that was part of the challenge and fun in my opinion.

When seaweed attacks...

When seaweed attacks…

The run back to the bike was the hardest. My feet hurt, it was starting to get hot, and I was tiring a bit. I kept after the breathing, walking as necessary on the hills when my breath became out of control. I figured I would let loose on the last 2 legs, since they would take about a total of 25-30 minutes. I had no idea how I was doing, and I figured I was pretty middle of the pack until I ran into transition 2, and someone said, “Third woman!” and I was like, “Wha!?” That gave me a surge of adrenaline and I just hammered the bike leg as hard as I could (it must have been very ugly to watch, because it felt ugly to perform!), dropped my bike in transition 1, and then ran like a maniac until I got alone in the woods, where I promptly… walked. I was pooped! Once I regrouped, I kept on at a steady pace until I could hear the announcer, and then I started sprinting for the end.

Success! I would call this race successful, although I had no expectations or goals going into the race about time or placing. My runs were incredibly successful, as was my strategy on the bike. Equipment wise, I think I did OK, although I would consider socks next year for the later legs? I did have a second pair of shoes to put on in Transition 1 for the first and last legs, but they rubbed in the same places as the other shoes, so it wasn’t much comfort. Fueling was easy, as I fueled a lot on the first bike, and kept fueling through the aid stations, which was key to avoiding cramping and having enough energy to finish.

Final words? BEST.DAY.RACING.EVER. Enough said!

4:28:39.XX

First in AG 35-39, 3rd OA female, 14th OA

BOW 2014 F35-39

BOW 2014 F35-39

race report: REV3 Wisconsin Dells

Wow, I have really procrastinated on writing this race report! I should have knocked this one out during the week after the race. However, I don’t think I really knew what happened to me during the race enough to write a report. Now that I have been able to step back from my first half-iron distance, I can see a little more objectively how it went.

I was so excited for this race. I have had post-it note race goals stuck around my house since January. I have wanted to train for a 70.3 race for 2 years! As time closed in on the end of my training, though, I was OVER IT. I just wanted to be done!  I know, for the triathlon-obsessed, this sounds insane. But with all the volume of training you need to do, you hardly have time for a pushup or situp in between.  And the closer I got to the race, the more I looked with longing at the barbells and benches in the gym. I didn’t want to re-introduce anything for fear of messing up my training plan though, and that was a mistake I have since fixed. I am back to 3 regular strength sessions a week, and I intend to keep it that way for any future training endeavors.

Anyhow, we arrived in the Dells (AKA the Las Vegas of Wisconsin, LOL) on Friday night super late. We almost didn’t make the cut-off time to get into the state park for our camping reservation!  (I didn’t read the fine print on this!) but we set up in the dark and everyone just fell into bed. We got up in the morning after not very much sleep to a very cool state park. We ate breakfast, rode bikes, and headed into town for packet pickup. I wanted to see the swim venue- it’s a water ski show amphitheater and possibly practice swim. Timing wise, we were a little tight, and I totally started to panic, realizing there was no way I could swim, pick up my packet, meet other EN teammates for lunch, and check my bike in while towing the kids around.  Mr. Prepared swooped in and was a hero all weekend- he took the kids, told me what to do and in what order, LOL- and I dropped him and the kids off at the mini-golf/amusement park/deer farm. Practice swim was lovely, as was the rest of the day.  Had plenty of time and space to prep, and our camping spot was pretty great, although the mosquitoes were ferocious!

Ok…race day. Up early, eating my sweet potato and eggs and coffee. Got the business all done early, which is GREAT when you’re traveling and apt to eat whole sleeves of Starbursts in the car. Got the kids dressed in bed and tossed them into the car, and drove to transition area. This race was low-key because it was pretty small.  That made parking and spectating very easy, which is essential with small children.

Met some EN teammates in transition for a picture and another Swim Bike Mom forum member, Anna, which was so great because she helped calm my nerves. I didn’t really do much official warming up- probably not a good idea – I need to be more disciplined about this.  We headed down to the start (a 1/4 mile straight up out of the swim to transition!), and spectators could sit in the bleachers and watch the swim- they also had a small water ski show before the start!

So happy before the start!

So happy before the start!

The swim was just like home- midwestern lake, so it was very predictable and I finished within 30 seconds of my predicted time. I swam fast, but I did not challenge myself too much, knowing I had a long day ahead of me. The swim is a simple rectangle, the water is cool but not cold- it was actually quite wonderful. The challenge for me is that I am a very good swimmer, so I exit the water with VERY GOOD triathletes. I didn’t realize this until talking with another triathlete after the race-he said the key is to exit the water with people who are about the same biking speed as you, which definitely didn’t happen. For a sprint, I can hang on to very good triathletes. Not a good idea in my first 70.3 race, which was the beginning of my issues. Once I exited the water, I hopped on my bike and headed out. With the adrenaline pumping, it was hard to get my body and breathing online. Coach Patrick mentioned that we should allow 20-30 minutes to get your body online. I see that some of my trouble started here, as I was having trouble staying in my “box” (my pace) and going at “just-ride-along” pace. All the other athletes starting the bike at this point were MUCH faster than me, so my “box” started to blow out a little during the first portion of the bike because I didn’t just let them go.

By 30 minutes into the bike, I was back in my “box”, hydrating and fueling.  The first portion of this bike leg is the most forgiving, so I was feeling good as we entered Baraboo and the first of 3 big climbs. First climb was fine- but the box blew out a little bit more because you have to get up the hill, right? In running, if you’re going too fast, you can just walk. Not really so in biking- you have to stay upright!  Second climb up above Devil’s Head ski resort?  OH LORD, I was not prepared for this. I knew it was hilly, but I really had NO IDEA! Again, the box blew out a bit more. I did hit my all time top speed coming down that hill – 39.75 mph.  Brakes were screaming! One guy said he saw a girl get air at the bottom of the hill over a small bump. Crazy.

Anyhow, a few more hills and the box was pretty much torn apart – I told myself I was fine, that everything would be OK, to trust my training. At the time, I didn’t think I was as badly off as I was. But the EN coaches say over and over, “you never have a good bike followed by a bad run. Bad run=bad bike, so bike the bike you ‘should’ instead of the bike you ‘could'”.  In this case, both the terrain and I were responsible for biking the bike I could instead of the one I should.  One great point is that it is BEAUTIFUL in this part of the state- it was the first thing to remind me of Colorado since we moved here. The views were absolutely gorgeous!

I was so thrilled to get off my bike because my back had been screaming at me for the last 6 miles anytime I tried to be in aero position. It was a lift to see Mr. Prepared and the kids (and their signs!) at the transition. I peed, and started off. First mile was even a little fast- it gave me hope that I had to slow down instead of speed up. The next couple of miles were OK- pace was fine, but it was HOT and I was getting tired. At mile 4 I was supposed to pick up the pace by 30″/mi. At the bottom of a largish hill. Didn’t happen. There was some walking involved, along with some running.  Facing another hill at the turnaround, I just started walking. And yelling at myself inside my head. And then trying to run. Walking. Mentally flogging myself. Some of those miles were in the 13-14 minute range. It was downright ugly. About Mile 10.5, I caught a guy who was being followed by his friend on a bike. His friend was funny, and I started to laugh and stop beating myself up inside. We jogged for about 2 more miles together, which was perfect. It got me through the worst and I had even picked up my pace- only to about 11:30 min/miles, but it was an improvement. I choked up hard at the last turn into the finisher chute. This was a big deal, and a big accomplishment, I had completed it! It wasn’t the race I expected or planned for, but I gave it everything I had and learned some things along the way.

Finishing with the family- a REV3 tradition!

Finishing with the family- a REV3 tradition!

Rev3 Wisconsin Dells 2014 finisher!  Times:

rev3 tri 4

 Lessons learned: 

1. I like to race. This was a challenge more than a race. I want to focus more on Olympic distance racing before I feel ready to tackle another one of these. 

2. Bike the bike you should, not could and stay in the “box”. 

3. Develop lots of free time or a crazy good schedule to train for something like this!  You can’t just count training hours either- I spent a ton of time learning about how to race (HAHA!), technology, admin time to and from the gym and your training locations, buying and researching gear, etc. 

 

race report: Island Lake Spring Sprint 2014

I kept staring at the comment that was posed on the screen by one of my EN coaches, “The question is not whether you NEED to race.  Do you WANT to race? Because that is all that matters.”  I had hit them up in the forums about racing this weekend and whether is was “necessary” to race before my 70.3 in June.  Before he responded, I had decided that I didn’t really want to race this weekend.  Too much admin, time, money wasted on a course I could do any day of the week.  But once I read his reply, my inner thoughts immediately jumped to, “Why don’t I want to race? Isn’t that the whole point of training-to race?” And I knew immediately that even if I didn’t want to race, I NEEDED to race- to save myself from falling into a common training pitfall- not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Most athletes train to compete.  For many, the competition is their favorite part.  I like to compete too, but I like the predictability that day-to-day training brings me. I can get VERY comfortable training.  Which is not a good thing.  However, my training has been very uncomfortable, off-schedule, and unpredictable lately, which made me grumpy, exhausted, and frustrated.  Throwing a race on top of trying to balance the schedule?  No thank you.

But I needed the race to remember why I do all the regimented training.  And also to remember that it’s OK sometimes to not follow the schedule exactly and if you’re tired, it’s OK to skip a workout here and there.  I’m not out here saving lives.  I’m just trying to have fun.

So I went into Friday with that attitude.  I tested out the long sleeve wetsuit in the pool Friday morning, picked up my packet late Friday, and took the bike home from the rack room at Hometown after we figured out how to adjust the back brake so it would stop rubbing.

Saturday morning I got up extra early because I knew I would forget something- the beginning of the season I always have jitters because I haven’t done any pre-race routine in so long.  When I got there, I saw Claudia right away in the parking lot and she saved me with a bike pump, since I hadn’t remembered to bring mine or pump up my tires -*head smack* . It was nice to have  a friend in transition with me, since I haven’t had that since moving away from CO.  It was also so nice that so many people from Hamburg Fitness tri team came out- Deb, Rex, Marcelo, Wes, and everyone else!  They have really welcomed me to their team and that’s been a lot of fun.

Me and Claudia before the start.

Claudia and I before the start.

It started before I was even ready– not much time to warm up even, since I spent more time talking and le ss time prepping!  The water was warmer than I thought, making me wish I had worn the sleeveless since it is so much easier to get off.  As I imagined, without ear plugs (forgotten!) I was super dizzy coming out of the water and had a hard time getting the wetsuit unzipped, much less off my feet.  My first transition time was SLOW.  Embarrassingly slow, but what could I do?  So I hopped on the bike and took off- with a purpose, of course.  The main goal of the bike was to “flatten” any hills, keep my cadence consistent, and not cross-chain (or I would never live it down at the bike shop).  The course is very familiar to me, as I ride it at least once every couple of weeks, so I knew I could work on keeping the cadence at a reasonable  85-90 RPM.  Keeping the power consistent and “flattening” out the hills proved to be more difficult.  My competitive nature tends to kick in, and with a sprint, I just kind of went for it. Overall, I was satisfied with how I felt on the bike.  Unfortunately, my time was not as fast as I hoped, but I had held back a little, reminding myself I needed to survive a brisk 60 mile ride the next day!

On the run, I just went for it because I was feeling pretty good and happy!  I was SO GLAD that I raced, and I knew I was doing well.  The run course is fairly easy, so it felt great and I was able to clock a new personal best 5k- 24:06. I was surprised when I crossed the finish line to find out that I had finished first overall in 1:17:20.XX!  This was a great experience for me to have before my “A” race, although in the past week I wished I had the guts to have raced the Olympic with the “big guns”, I can take away the satisfaction of knowing that I am out there doing something for the right reasons when I race Rev3 WI Dells in June. Now I can’t wait!!

Woot Woot! 2 Buck chuck and a duffel bag for the winner. :)

Woot Woot! 2 Buck chuck and a duffel bag for the winner. 🙂

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