Friday, December 5, 2014

Miami Man Half Iron Triathlon

So.  I talked my husband in to the whole marathon thing because it was close to my birthday and I have always said "someday, I want to do that."  

When my bike was stolen this winter, I realized my "someday" for a half iron distance tri was going to have to (most likely) wait.  The idea of doing one had been in the back of my mind for awhile, especially since I had a good summer in the water this year--I had several swims over a mile and multiple open water swims.  But suddenly, my bike was gone, and not only would I probably not do a half iron this year, but my triathlon season was probably over. 

Somewhere in there, I told myself that if I somehow ended up getting my bike back, I would just go big or go home.  I would sign up for 70.3 and try not to die in the process.

Then Diamondback Bikes came in big for me, and the difference in the quality of the bike made me absolutely certain that I could handle 56 miles in the saddle. I knew, with marathon training in the works, that I could handle 13.1 no problem.  Putting it all together, on the other hand, was crazy. 

Triathlon is a little bit of a logistical nightmare to begin with.  It's equipment heavy---you need your gear to swim, your gear to bike, your gear to run.   There are about 1,000 things that can happen in 56 miles on a bike.  I have never, in the three years since I've had a road bike, flatted, and I'm perpetually worried about it happening during a race.

The day before the race, I was in freakout mode.  My training was completely derailed in October--I hadn't bricked, I hadn't swam.  Longest ride on the bike was 44, and I hadn't done a mid-distance brick after a long ride.  I was exceptionally worried about the cutoffs, and was trying to mentally prepare myself for a DNF, because I was almost certain it was going to happen.

One of the Multirace staffers talked me into switching to the first wave on race morning.  I am SO GLAD she did.  Once I made it out of the water on the swim, I KNEW I had plenty of time and it allowed me to really sit back and enjoy things.  

View of the swim from near transition.  Two loops around the lake, and you had to exit the water at the end of each loop. 

I very much stuck to the back and took my time on the swim.  This lake is my favorite swim of the season--its clear and calm and you can (usually see) very well.  Race morning was overcast and disgusting, the weather outlook was terrible, and we were just thankful for no lightening. 

When I exited on the swim, I heard tri-friend Madison screaming my name, which was awesome.  I hadn't drowned.  Yay!
1.2 mile Swim:  53:38, which works out to over 3 minutes/100 m but my only goal was to finish it under an hour, so I'll take it!

T1 was not memorable, nothing major happened. 2:50

Its really hard to even begin to explain the rest of the race after T1.  The skies opened up and it poured.  POURED.  Here. . . just watch.  56 miles of wet, rural, open roads in the pouring rain. You can see how much wetter things get as the video progresses. 

2014 Mack Cycle Miami Man Triathlon & Duathlon from Multi Race on Vimeo.

The bike went much much MUCH better than I was expecting. I held above a 17 mph pace pretty much the whole ride.  I was really expecting to be much slower than that.  My lower back started screaming around the 35 mile mark, so I started trying to really stretch as much as I could.   As we neared the end of the 56, I realized I was going to finish this thing, as long as the weather didn't force a close on the run course.  

56 mile bike: 3:09:37  - 17.71 mph

When it was over, it was hard to walk.  Its actually kind of funny to be in T2 of a half iron after doing so many sprint triathlons.  People move slowly and take their time. Many are in pain, and I was definitely one of them.  My back was miserable, so I took some time to stretch as I switched shoes.  I thanked my lucky STARS that I had covered my running shoes with a bag in the morning, because they were dry.   My feet were pruned and felt disgusting from 3 hours of being in cleats, soaking wet.  So dry socks and shoes felt lovely.  Popped a couple of advil and off to run 13.1

T2 - a very slow 4:45.  It was worth it. 

I can't say enough about the Galloway method for running.  I would have probably had a melt down if I hadn't been able to say "just three minutes" as I left transition.  Those first few intervals were awful.  I also spent a lot of time attempting to avoid puddles because my feet were so happy to be dry.  I started loosening up, and it started raining again, so after awhile, it was just plowing through puddles.  The run course was WET.  Part of it is on trails, and there were a bunch of unavoidable puddles.  I saw friends around the 4 mile mark, got some hugs and was recharged to finish the first loop.  Saw Brad hunkered in a rain slicker at the finish as I passed for my first lap.  (He had done the international distance--bless him for standing in the rain for 3 hours to wait for me while I kept going) It was pouring again, and started thundering right after I passed.  I worried again that the weather might cause them to stop us.  But it moved through quickly, and I felt good enough to pick up ever so slightly.  Knowing I would see familiar faces again kept me going.  

I was really surprised that I never reached a wall.  Maybe I wasn't pushing enough, but I genuinely had much more fun than I thought I would.  I love doing Multirace events because its always a bunch of familiar faces, and you can always find someone to say hello to.  It may have been a totally different ballgame if the sun had been blazing, but it was really an incredible experience.  

When I came to the finish, I was, OF COURSE, bawling.  These are things some people never even consider doing, and certainly things I myself never thought I could do until very, very recently.  

13.1 run:  3:05:02  - 14:07 min/mile.

Total time: 7:15:50.77
Much, much faster than I was expecting.  I can't wait to do another one, this time with proper training.  I should be able to shave a good chuck off of that.  Glad to have the first one under my belt--its putting yourself out there and going for it, not knowing if you have it in you, that is absolutely the hardest thing in the world. 

I didn't even manage to get many (ANY) good pictures after the race, because the rain continued to come on.  I ate (a LOT) when we were done, hoping it would stop so that I could get my phone and take a few pictures, but it never did.  Couldn't even change out of my soaking wet kit, because we would have gotten soaked again getting back to the car.  The warm bath we took when we got home was literally the BEST BATH EVER. 

Big thanks to my awesome friend and training buddy Julie, who not only kept my kids, but also fed us dinner afterward.   And to everyone who listened to me whine about how I didn't think I could do it, and told me that I could anyway.  To Diamondback Bicycles for my awesome ride.  To everyone who I have the pleasure of training with regularly this year--Julie, Jess, Tiffany, Karen, Susan, Rosie, Peggy . . . and of course to my hubby, who thought I had lost my marbles when I did my first sprint.  I love that I'm slowly dragging him over to the dark side.  To all the ladies on Team Tough Chik, who gave me the courage to think big.  And to my kids, who made me want to be a better version of myself.  A version of myself that was comfortable in my skin.  It's kind of hard to hate a body that can carry you through 70.3 miles. 

Tonight, we head up to Palm Beach for the last big adventure of 2014.  26.2 miles covered by nothing but our own feet.  2014 has been a year of firsts for our household.  Scary and so incredibly worth the wild ride. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Key Biscayne Half Marathon + The Rest of October

October 5, 2014
One week after Escape to Miami, we had signed up to run the Key Biscayne Half Marathon.  No part of me really wanted to go run this race, especially since I knew I had to tack an extra seven miles on after to hit my first (and as it turned out ONLY) 20 miler.   I spent the week in active recovery--running only 5.5 miles and spending around two hours on the bike.

Had an absolute BLAST doing this race just because we had a huge contingent of Tough Chiks present.  My friend Jess, who will be running Palm Beaches with me this weekend, Karen, who has been my training partner for a lot of the long runs I have done this year (and has calmed me at every freakout), and Gillian, who runs with us regularly and is just awesome sauce.  Seriously love these ladies.  Oh yeah, my hubby was there too, but its not like we run together soooo . . . :-)

Gillian grabbed this pic of Jess and I during one of our walk intervals as we hit the bridge.  Yeah, this girl and I are going to absolutely slay 26.2 this weekend.  Wouldn't do it with anyone else. <3

I really, really REALLY love how Multirace does videos of their events--it allows those of you who aren't locals to see the beauty we are spoiled with on our runs. 

2014 KB Half Marathon & 10K - A MultiRace Production from Multi Race on Vimeo.

After finishing the half, Jess and I handed our medals to our hubbys (because we are crazy people) and took off for another 5 miles.  It was so nice to catch up. 

I came home and still did an extra three more in the evening, to make it all the way to 20. It was a crazy crazy crazy day.

Unfortunately, back to back weekends of racing + every day life kicked me in the butt.  We all got sick, and it derailed my training significantly.  I ended up with a 25 mile bike the following week, instead of the 50 I was planning, and then was promptly knocked on my butt, missing a whole weekend of training.  I bumped down the schedule 23 miles I had for the end of October to 17.   Then suddenly it was November, I found myself feeling incredibly undertrained for 70.3 on November 9th.  Commence freak out.

Next up: Miami Man Half Iron Triathlon

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Escape To Miami Triathlon Recap

September 28, 2014
I have never done a race quite like Escape.  And granted, its not like I have done a bunch of huge races, but Escape to Miami marked my 18th triathlon.  This race, at nearly 2500 entrants, in the sprint and Olympic distances, was H-U-G-E.  This was also my first triathlon that wasn't put on by Multirace, which made things a little more nerve-wracking for me.

Because this is a big race, its complicated.  You have to pick up your packet early and drop off your bike the day before.  In downtown Miami.  *Yay*  This means a logistical nightmare when both you and your spouse are doing the race and you have two little people.  Thankfully we have awesome friends who make it possible to do these things.  (Monica, you rock!)

The bikes, all locked and loaded in the truck.  

See that little island out there?  Yup, that's Escape Island.  We get to swim from there to where the picture was taken. NOT in a straight line. :-)  

But it was fun to get to hang out on a beautiful, windy day with my incredible family 

Race morning started a TWO AM.  TWO AM.  That's early even by triathlete standards.  I finally figured out that if I get up early the day before the race, I will have no problem sleeping the night before the race.  I usually have major issues sleeping on race right. Really glad I tested this on this race because BOY did getting a good night's sleep keep me from wigging out at TWO AM.

Set up my stuff under the bike, and was thankful the guy next to me didn't show because the bikes were packed in TIGHT TIGHT TIGHT.   Made the first in many, many errors in this less than perfect race when I accidentally stuck my index finger in the spoke of my front tire while checking it.  Awesome.  So throbbing finger and I went to find our crew (Brad, our friend Julie, Chris, and Alfredo, the vet among us who had done this race at least 7 times). 

We were supposed to board the ferry at 4am.  Yes, board ferry. Jump off ferry. Swim the rest of the way to island.  Yes, we pay to do this!
 Really though, this aspect of the race was so cool.  It was weird to jump off a boat in the dark.  We sat on the island and chit chatted, hung out, and just generally had a good time.  Watched the sun rise.  I freaked out more than a little, but it was awesome.  And then there wasn't any more time to think, because our wave started.

My swim was slow.  #2 on the long list of things that could have gone better on this race happened, and I got stung by jellyfish under my arms and in my top. Fun times.  It started raining 3/4 of the way through the swim, HARD, which was disorientating.

I felt like my swim lasted forever, and was glad when it was over.  I promptly forgot the go stick for my bia in transition, so I didn't get to track my bike with my GPS. It ended up being no big thing--the bike was a blast, lovely weather and pretty views.  My front derailleur was apparently out of adjustment, because I couldn't shift.  Thank goodness the bridges were small.  This was only Karma's second race, but I was again blown away by the differences on this bike.  24.8 miles was lovely, and I got off the bike feeling great.  I even managed to chik a few of the guys on tri bikes in the turns--I love tight turns, its fun to come off of them quickly.  Had so much fun on the ride.

T2 was a mess, I had to find the go stick for my bia and was so focused on that i almost forgot to take off my cycling gloves. It was HOT by now, and the run was a shadeless wasteland of South Florida humidity.  The best part of the run was the cool towels they gave us at the sprint turn around.   It's times like this that I really appreciate the Galloway method, which kept me from getting overheated in pretty brutal conditions.  I saw lots of familiar faces on the run, and felt good despite the heat.  I love the camaraderie of triathlon--since no one runs with music, you end up making friends.  I shared my water with an older gentleman who was overheated in the last few miles, ran in to my friend Jeanette and chatted with her for a bit.  The last mile came and went quickly.

When it was over, both the older gentleman and my friend Jeanette said GO FOR IT in terms of 70.3.  Both of them have done that distance before.  So when I came home, I upgraded, and freaked.
Stats:    Swim  00:45:46     03:04 min/100m
               T1    00:02:29
            Bike    01:28:21       16.88 mi/hr
              T2     00:02:32
            Run      01:23:08      13:23 min/mi
            Total :  03:42:14

Brad did great too, even though it endlessly annoys me that he was under-trained and finished a good 12 minutes ahead of me

By a complete freak thing, I ended up placing.  There were only a few women in our division though. I don't get WHY there are not more Athenas--I have a hard time believing there are only a handful of women over 165lbs who chose to do Triathlon. They do divide based on age (over 39 and under 39), but I wonder if there is a stigma against racing as an Athena.  I don't care, though, I'll do it anyway--I like to own that I'm not your typical picture of a triathlete--you don't have to be a size 2 or 4 to enjoy this sport. Medal was pretty cool. 
Really enjoyed this race.  I probably wouldn't do it again, because the logistics were just a bit too much, but jumping off the ferry was by far my favorite part. 

No rest for the weary though--Key Biscayne Half Marathon/first 20 mile run was due the following week.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Catching Up (yet again)

I can't believe it's December (again).  2014 has flown by.  And once again I have slipped off on my blog duties.  I haven't written a post since mid-August, which was week EIGHT of my 30 week marathon training.  Week 8.

Yeah, 26.2 is almost here.  On Sunday.  A meager 5 days away.

It wasn't so long ago I used to ride in my car and see people running, thinking "I could never do that."

So, what's been going on since August.  A lot.  We went on vacation.  School got in to full swing for the kids, and that's played a large part in my inability to keep up with ANYTHING.  I totally DID go for 70.3.

It annoys me to get this far behind, because there have been so many awesome moments that I haven't documented.  A part of that is simply trying to be present in the moment with my family though, instead of being behind the computer writing things down.  I finally am back in the technological age, in terms of my phone, so that should help immensely.

So, the past 3.5 months in pictures.
We went on vacation in August to Mammoth Cave National Park.  This is one of my favorite places to go, because of the sheer scale of things.  Its absolutely amazing, the things that water can do underground.  We FINALLY got to go on the 5 hour wild cave tour, something that has been 3 years in the making.  Spending 5 hours spelunking in the worlds largest cave system?  Pretty freaking cool.  I was covered in bruises after.  Even my son, who is 8, strapped on a headlamp and got to go caving with a group, without either of us along with him. Pretty darn epic stuff.

The kids went home with their grandparents, allowing hubby and I to escape to the LITERAL wilderness for a few days.   We've always been a fan of off-the-beaten-path, and Linville Gorge was about as rugged as it gets in the eastern US.

In my mind there is nothing that substitutes for nature in terms of healing the soul.  The hustle and bustle of every-day life can be overwhelming, and it was lovely to just get away from everything for awhile.  We drove up the Blueridge Parkway and then hiking into the wilderness.  We spent a night sleeping in a hammock under the stars (and hoping not to get eaten by bears).  We climbed to a precipice and I cried, because it makes you feel small and insignificant and reminds you how big the world is.   It was wonderful and beautiful and the pictures really don't do the trip justice.  

We came home, and the kids came home right on our heels.  School for both kids entered full swing, and that was a challenge.   I finished out August with a 17 mile run, and the next weekend hit 44 miles on the bike. The weekend after that (9/14) was the bonus round in the Triathlon Trilogy.  I honostly can't even remember the race at this point, except that it was my first race on Karma and she FLEW.  It was amazing how much smoother the ride was on her, compared to my old bike. 
Cool video from the folks at Multirace showing how gorgeous the course is.  It's been such a pleasure racing with them this (and every) year.

Multirace Mack Cycle Bonus Round 2014 from Multi Race on Vimeo.
 The results from that were good enough for 1st place Athena for the series. 

 The following weekend was a 14 mile/5.5 mile bike run brick.   The weekend after, 9.28, was the Escape to Miami Triathlon.  Its kind of hilarious looking back, I was incredibly nervous about this race.  I have a thing about stepping outside my comfort zone--I don't like doing things when I'm not sure how they will go.  Until this year, I can barely manage to do one new thing a year.  I did my first half marathon in March 2012.  The biggest things I've tackled since then have been the Ragnar Relay and finally getting up the courage to do an International Triathlon in November 2013.  I haven't really pushed the envelope in several years. . . I have been living in my comfort zone.  Last year, that International was a stretch, I was exhausted afterward and the thought of an Olympic Distance Tri was a bit overwhelming.  I hadn't yet fully committed to doing a Half Iron at Miami Man in November this year, and I was planning on using Escape to Miami as a testing ground to see if 70.3 was doable, or just a little bit too far beyond the realm of sanity.

So. Next up. Escape To Miami.  
.9 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, 10k run. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Marathon Training - Week 8

Long run last week, and so far the week following a long run have been more tri training weeks than anything else.

Karma arrived on Tuesday so I spent a LOT of time in the saddle this past week.  Heaven--this bike rides like heaven.  I was riding an aluminum frame trek with bottom of the line components for two years.  Between the frame and the components on this bike, I feel like I could ride FOREVER.  Its so smooth and effortless, I would never have imagined that they would make such a difference.  

Monday - Basic Yoga
Tuesday - 3 mi run (including the Rickenbacker) + .9 mile swim (AM), Yoga (PM)
Wednesday - 20 mile "shake out" ride on the new bike.

Thursday - Solo 15 mile bike
Friday - 1.25 mile run on the treadmill + Body Pump
Saturday - 31 mile ride
Sunday - 22 mile ride (AM), 5 mi run (or wog, it could be called a wog) (PM).
I was seriously considering trying to squeeze in next weekend's scheduled "long" run since we will be up to other things next weekend.  I left at 3pm to allot for enough time to finish 14 miles before it got dark.  BIG mistake.  The heat index was at least 101.  It was brutal out.  Plus I haven't been in the saddle much since the end of June, so I think my body was tired.  I settled for 5 and was totally okay with that.

The best part of the week was that I got THREE rides with my better half.   We rarely get to ride together, because of the kids, so it was a wonderful treat.
In all, broke 100 miles swimming, biking, and running this week.  And I said the words "half iron" out loud this weekend.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

On facelifts . . . and things that change your life forever

I've been meaning to update my blog header for awhile.  When all things blogging fell by the way-side back in February, I got terribly behind on keeping things current.  As you can see, I finally found the time to do it.  Yay.  But I have to say, I'm a little floored.  You know that old saying "Its hard to see the forest for the trees"?   Well, yeah, the same can be said about life.

We (and when I say we, I really mean me, but I am pretty darn sure you can relate.  Because if there is one thing I've learned in the past few years, its that more of us feel this way than we realize.  THAT is an important thing for all of us to understand. Oops I digress).  Anyway, we tend to get bogged down in the day to day--making dinner, finishing our work, getting in our workouts, the number on the scale, how we could have eaten better.  Sometimes it is so easy to fall into the mindset of what you didn't do, that you forget about the things you did do.

As I look at the pictures I stuck in the header above, I can't help but feel overwhelmed.  The memories in each one of those pictures are overwhelming.  And then I look back at the first race report I wrote on this blog, in June 2012.  A mere 26 months ago.  That person, she really didn't know how strong she was.  I hadn't discovered cycling yet--I was still riding a hybrid.  The weight room was still a foreign place that scared me to no end. I had one triathlon and one half marathon, along with a couple of 5ks under my belt.

 It's strange, I found a picture of me in 2008 (on the left) and 2010 (on the right), and I think I still felt like I was trapped in my old body for a long time.  Sometimes I feel like I am still trapped in it.  Physcially, there isn't a huge difference between the picture from 2010 and where I am now. I may even weigh more.  But I FEEL stronger. More capable.

Anyway, I digress.  About a month ago a dear friend's 7 year old son underwent brain surgery.  Twice.  Once was decompression surgery to relieve symptoms of his chiari. The second surgery was because he contracted meningitis.  To date they have spent 20 days in the hospital.  She has two other children at home, and I can't imagine the pull she must feel to be in two places at once.  Her entire ordeal and her son's struggle is one of those things that puts life in perspective. That make you see the forest. And the trees. And the small beautiful bits of every day.  You can read more about Gabriel's journey here.   A crowd funding site for his medical care and incidental family costs have been set up here.   It's been hard NOT to think about this family as we go on living our every day lives around here.  As my hubby and I  whine about silly little unimportant things like our jobs and the kids fighting and missing a workout, this kid has been fighting for his life. Its one of those humbling things that really makes you want to re-evaluate life.

So, don't miss the forest for the trees.  See the beauty in your life.  In YOURSELF.  In every little accomplishment, every little victory.  Give yourself the grace to feel the way you do, and just . . . live.

Sorry for the esoteric rambling.  Its just going to get worse as we get closer to m daughter's birthday!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Marathon Training - Weeks 6 & 7

I am LOVE LOVE LOVING using the Galloway method for marathon training.  I've always had issues with my mental game . . . I really haven't been able to be strong/consistent on the back half of races/runs.  Galloway is really fixing that for me.

The intervals work well training in the yucky summer South Florida humidity.  The recovery week continues to work well for my schedule. 

Week 6:
I squeezed in my long run from week 5 (10.5 miles) on Monday.  We had a huge summer storm move through, and while I love running in the rain, running in thunderstorms is just flat out reckless.  So I hit the dreadmill in the afternoon.  I was on a clock, since my neighbor was watching my kids and needed to leave soon.  I busted out 10.5 miles in just over 2 hours which for me, on a training run, is pretty good.  

Then life played its card and I got slammed with work.  SLAMMED.  As in, barely had time to sleep, yet alone work out.  I didn't work out again until Saturday morning, when I took a spin class.  And then proceeded to get a serious migraine and spend the weekend in my bed.  So basically, after my long run, week 6 was a BUST. 

Week 7:
Back on track (again). . . 
Monday - 800m in the pool, body pump (AM); Yoga (PM)
Tuesday - 3.33 miles, 400ish m in the pool (lost count) (AM); Yoga (PM)
Wednesday - 100 minutes spin (AM); Body Pump (PM)
Thursday - Kids wanted to go for a run, so we did a 1.5mi wog, 2 miles later in the afternoon alone, spin.
Friday - 1600m in the pool
Saturday - Rest
Sunday - 12 mile long run. 
I got a late start--didn't leave the house until nearly 9:30am.  But it was an overcast day, which here makes a big difference.  I felt like I really found my stride and stuck to 4/1 intervals most of the run.  I usually do 3/1.  As the miles ticked off, I couldn't help but think about how training for 26.2 is changing my outlook on the long run.  Because 12 miles used to be a LONG run.  But this is just the beginning of the build.  14 miles, 17 miles, 20 miles, 23 miles, and 26 miles are yet to come before we toe the start line in 122 days. I was pleased with the splits and the pacing on this 12 miler--probably one of my better training runs.  (This doesn't include stoppage time for water refills).  

I was horribly sore after, but nothing an ice bath, a good stretch, and some gentle adjustments from the hubs wouldn't fix.  Its quite nice that Brad, who does not really care for yoga, will use all my yoga **stuff** and quietly adjust me in ways similar to how my guru does. :)

So, if you are facing down a daunting task, or have something you've been thinking about facing for awhile but just don't want to, remember that the only thing truly stopping you is yourself.  Write your own story, and go for it. 

Run on,